The E34 that became mine

All the previous cars were long gone by the time I could afford to indulge my hobby personally. Dad had sold off the E12 due to a significant collision. Happily, it was saved & put back on the road by one of Mum’s cousins. Dad surprisingly replaced it with one of the very first E34s; an ’89 525i 5-speed. I was incredibly impressed with how far the E34 had advanced beyond the E12. Although the E34 wasn’t without fault (visibility was far worse, rear seats were uncomfortable), almost everything else was improved. Handling was extraordinarily better and the entire chassis felt far more substantial. The M20B25, although slightly overwhelmed and down on torque, was a lot livelier than the big old M30. That early E34 wasn’t fitted with the new M50 motor. It still used the M20B25 and Getrag 260 5-speed exactly as offered in the E30 325i.

The car dutifully performed business trips and suburban family tasks with the usual Bavarian taxi-like efficiency for decades.

Fast forward to 2006, and the BMW was finally surplus. It needed about $2000 worth of work, about what it was worth in trade, mainly a new suspension and the usual high-mileage electrical gremlins. I made Dad an offer and we transferred ownership. Dad had found an incredibly good deal on a Lincoln LS. Ford was throwing in the towel on that line, enticing new buyers with something like $15K in rebates and incentives. The formerly-overpriced Jaguar clone was finally reasonably-priced. IMHO the LS was a fine car. Despite more than a few flaws it performed reliably and well.

I invested about $500 into new bushings, springs and Bilstein Sports. That’s a go-to upgrade, always worth the cost for a higher-mileage car. Pricey, but worthwhile. I put another 25K of business and personal miles on the car before determining that the car no longer fit our (*cough* my wife’s *cough*) needs. I decided to buy an E30 instead; eventually a trade offer came up (for a pair of E30s), and she went off to a new owner.

As a footnote, the next owner was mechanically incompetent. He ignored my repeated advice about the timing belt service interval, insisting that a ‘kick-ass’ stereo was far more important, and the car went to an early grave when the belt inevitably snapped. I actually saw the ad parting it out, and called to verify that it was the same car. Sad, but I learned a valuable lesson about the cost of salvaged parts. That stuck with me, confirming an idea I’d been working on for a while. Why not part out my own cars?


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