BMW 535 Judgemobile Works Great, Except For Entire Electrical System

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
bmw 535 judgemobile works great except for entire electrical system

When I rolled into Camden, South Carolina, in preparation for judging at the third annual 24 Hours of LeMons South Spring race, my friend Walker Canada handed me the keys to his rough-but-functional ’87 BMW E28. “Go ahead and use it as your Judgemobile!” he offered. The dash lights and most of the gauges didn’t work, but I only had to drive 20 miles to the track. The engine sounded great, the suspension was still tight, and Foghat’s “Slow Ride” was on the radio. What could possibly go wrong?

Then additional electrical systems began fritzing out, culminating in loss of the headlights. Two-lane blacktop road in rural South Carolina, late at night. No problem– I used to drive British Leyland product every day. Put the hazards on and keep going!

When I got to Carolina Motorsports Park at about 11:00 PM, all the action in the paddock was centered around the car the Tunachuckers got to replace their totalled Volvo Amazon: a 1975 Ford LTD Landau.

Two tons, flip-up headlights, and a 400-cubic-inch engine rated at a mighty 153 horsepower. Excellent race car choice, I say.

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  • Outback_ute Outback_ute on May 23, 2011

    Reminds me of a mate's experience with his 25yo Holden ute - had an alternator fail and subsequently drove 50-60 miles with the battery flat and no functioning electrical device on the vehicle. Got to within 3 miles of home before he lost the battle to keep it running at a stoplight.

  • Andy D Andy D on Jun 05, 2011

    Yah, BTDT more than once with my various old beaters. Had it happen last summer and made it 100yds past the new Autozone down town. They had the right style battery and I was going within 20 minutes. The closer you get to home, the easier the retrieval. Trouble was caused by me, I hadn't made a good contact at the instrument panel when I was replacing the speedo. I put the old battery in my Jeep.

  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.
  • Lorenzo The other automakers are putting silly horsepower into the few RWD vehicles they have, just as Stellantis is about to kill off the most appropriate vehicles for that much horsepower. Somehow, I get the impression the OTHER Carlos, Tavares, not Ghosn, doesn't have a firm grasp of the American market.