Wednesday, July 13, 2016

#SharkNoseDiary 4: Owner's Report

Price (when new): $46,965 ($98,449 adjusted for inflation).
Price (as purchased): $2,100.
Mileage: Approximately 1400 miles since purchased.
Fuel Economy: 16.5 mpg.
Expense: $145 (oil change, reservoir patch, and a failed radio installation) + $50 (parts) = $205
Getting waves from classic BMW owners: Priceless.

It's been a little over a month since I bought my BMW 635CSi. It's been quite an experience. This is a quick summary of my first month of owning a 29-year-old European sports car at the cost of a 2-year cable subscription.

[Previously on #SharkNoseDiary: I bought a 1987 BMW 635CSi for $2100. I have since put in another 200 bucks to show how much I don't care about my hard-earned money.]

This rust spot that you can barely notice will cost me about as much as the whole car itself.
Things I don't like:
1. I finally managed to swap in the original BMW cassette stereo system in the car thanks to Paul the parts guy (note: he did not consent to be referred as that), and the unit looks much better... And then I found out that the stock amplifier is kaput. Time to call the Paul the parts guy again!
2. The 12V power outlet in the interior is broken, so no dash cam for now. I feel rather uneasy at times. Temporary workaround: On occasion when I go out on a drive with my friends, I'd ask them to drive behind me so they can film me on their Thinkware dash cam.
3. The doors on the BMW are so heavy you'd think they were used as blast shields from the Manhattan Project. Many of my friends have difficulties closing the passenger door. Although I'd always take that opportunity to mock them for being weak.
4. Have I mentioned that BMW mechanics are expensive? Well, apparently body shop guys are even more so. Fixing the rust spot on the rear wheel arch is going to set me back at a staggering $2,000, which is 95% of what I bought the car for. The rust spot doesn't even take 5% in size of the car's bodyshell.
5. My local DMV has strict rules as to what constitutes a "Collector" car -- it has to be over 25 years old (check), mostly original (half check -- now that the original stereo is back in, consider it finished), and be completely clean and rust-free (er... let me get back to you on that one).
6. This car drinks like an Irish construction worker on a Friday night. At 16.5 mpg, this car has the same fuel economy as the 707-hp Dodge Challenger Hellcat. Seriously. The 5.0L V8 Mustang gets better mileage than this. Both cars are much faster than mine.
7. Speaking of power... Well, there isn't much. Due to the strict emission standards back in the 1980s, many manufacturers had to make their engines slower in order to comply to the environmental standards. The automatic gearbox did not help either. All of this means this 80s European sports coupe goes about as fast as a Floridan pensioner on a moped.

Mountain roads: This is where the BMW comes alive. 
Things I do like:
1. The classic BMW rumble. My word, that noise. This is the only reason why I can tolerate driving without the stereo -- I can drive 10 hours in this car without music, and I'll still be perfectly happy because this car makes one of the best sounds in the world.
2. Despite it being manufactured in West Germany, it has been almost perfectly reliable so far (minus a couple of leaks), despite me taking it to a couple of cars and coffee and a 3-hour road trip outside town.
3. Yes, the drive is a blast. This BMW is what they call a "Driver's Car" -- which means I will happily drive it 3 hours outside of town, and then drive back again.
4. Its looks. The 80s classic shark look is still something that I catch myself glimpsing at even after parking my car in the garage. Also, a friend of mine called it the "original gangster car", whatever that means.
5. I am now getting waves from other old BMW drivers on the road -- which is not something that would happen if you drive a regular commuter car.
6. It compliments my other car rather well, on the virtue that it is also called a 6. And no, that is not the reason why I decided to buy the BMW.

The Battle of the 6's.
8. More than a handful of random passerbys would recognize the car and ask me about it. People are usually enthusiastic of the car still being on the road.
9. I love how "analog" everything is. In the age of digitization and cars increasingly becoming an AMD Processor on wheels, this BMW is a stark contrast to the current trends. It's got an engine that runs. It's got a gearbox that shifts. It's got a steering column that is connected to the steering wheel, which is connected to me. In a drive-by-wire world, this is what I'd prefer.
10. 55 miles per hour. Sun shining. Open road. Windows down. Sunroof open. Ray-Bans on. Just drive and listen to the noise. It is something special.

Next week: I take my cheap European classic to a proper collector car show, where people show up with far more expensive cars. This would be interesting.

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