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I might buy an E34 Monday

Posted by John Yust 
December 24, 2011 10:49PM
The '94 Saturn my wife has been driving finally cashed in its chips last week. I'm thinking of replacing it with this E34. What do you think? The asking price is $3495.00.

It's a high mileage car, but it looks like it's been kept in good shape. My shop owner buddy tells me he doesn't see a lot of these with transmission problems, and BMW is one of the makes he caters to in his shop. If I buy it, it will be the first automatic transmission car I ever bought for my own or my wife's use.

It's a 1.5 hour drive to the car from my house. I'm going to see it Monday and I'm taking a driver for it with me so I can bring it home if it checks out OK. Those are BBS wheels and the tires are supposed to be new.

It's a '95 model 525i.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/24/2011 10:50PM by John Yust.
December 25, 2011 05:46AM
I wouldn't be affraid to buy such thing, it looks in a pretty good condition considering its age. What's with the passenger side airbag panel?
December 25, 2011 08:52AM
I noticed that too and that's the first thing I'll be checking on when I look at the car. I suspect there's a chance that somebody hit something with the car and set off the airbags. I'll be looking for signs of damage on the front of the car. I don't mind a repair job as long as it's done well. I'm hoping to find a lot of clean and straight metal when I look underneath the body and under the hood. If I see bent and rusty stuff I'll leave it there.

December 25, 2011 11:04AM
I believe this vintage car was pretty well rust proofed at the factory. The airbag item might be good for a price reduction. Your wife will love driving it.

Bob in Everett
December 26, 2011 07:02PM
I did it. I own that car now. I have to admit to being a little freaked out, but it's mine.

The body is good and solid - never wrecked. No explanation for the airbag cover being bent like that. It was a little more worn down than the pictures showed, but they came down a little on the price (then they put it right back to me on "taxes and paperwork fees").

It needs a few little things fixed, but it's roadworthy right now, which is what I needed. I'll be taking it on the road on Thursday for a trip from Knoxville, TN to Tampa FL.

It's weird to have a big white car with fancy wheels and an automatic transmission in the driveway. I never thought I'd have a car like that.

December 26, 2011 08:27PM
I hope it treats you well. It looks like a nice car. Any parts you need can likely be found from salvage for a huge savings.

Bob in Everett
December 26, 2011 11:04PM
Congratulations John!

From what I've read; the E34 was less of a trouble maker than the E30 but it will likely have many of the same little niggley things that we all love to tinker with.
You will soon get used to the auto box; it is very smooth smiling smiley

Taking a nice long road trip right out of the starter's box is a perfect way to get acquainted and to note any things that might need a little attention.

Have a good and safe journey :cool2:
December 27, 2011 02:38AM
Congrats! May she bring many happy miles for you!
December 27, 2011 07:40PM
Congratulations on the new car! It looks good, considering it's age.
The mileage (I think) is not so high considering, the important is it had been correctly maintained over all those years (or most years).
I have some prejudice against automatic transmission, but it's common place in the USA, is a cultural thing. Perhaps it's best for the average driver (me included) and we are missing out over here!

Happy motoring, and keep us posted!

smileys with beer
December 28, 2011 09:17PM
Good Luck John, looks like a nice car. It's always tricky buying a higher mileage car but you'll find out soon enough what she needs... Cheers, Rick
December 28, 2011 10:51PM
I got to drive again tonight when I took it to the gas station and car wash. It feels good on the road with the fresh alignment and balance. I was a little worried about that when I drove it before I bought it. It felt like it didn't know where it was going and there was some shaking in the steering wheel on acceleration. All that's gone now and it goes right where you point it.

The glove compartment had a bunch of receipts in it that I looked at before I bought it. I found one for a new tie rod, but there was nothing about any alignment on that receipt or any other, so I was pretty sure that was what it needed.

I've already broken a part. :rolleyes: The plastic plate beside the shifter that tells you what gear you're in wasn't snapped in place right, so I cracked it trying to snap it in. Oh well, that goes on the boneyard list.

The trip starts in the morning. I'll let you all know how it goes.

December 30, 2011 11:16AM
Quick report from FL.
I got an amazing 30.2 mpg at 80 mph on the way here. That's 7.79 l/100 km for the metric users. I'm amazed!
December 30, 2011 02:59PM
That is amazing!
It really shows how much improvement was made in the M50 over the old M20 smileys with beer
December 30, 2011 11:27PM
That is a lot better than many new cars.

Bob in Everett
January 01, 2012 10:33AM
Bob in Everett
That is a lot better than many new cars.

Not sure about that, but is a very good mileage! :thumbup:
I had the impression those cars were somewhat thirsty.
If the consumption is right, then the engine is sound.

January 01, 2012 06:22PM
Many new cars that are that heavy like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry do not get better than that. Those that are more efficient are not what one would like to take on a long road trip that required baggage.

Bob in Everett
January 03, 2012 10:24PM
I made it to Florida and back without incident and I know a lot more about that car now. I think I was really lucky that I got such a good car for the price in such a hurry. Making a fast purchase like that is a good way to get in trouble. With that said, I will have to admit that my wife is now calling the car "bummer" instead of the more proper "bimmer." :rolleyes:

There are a few things that need to be fixed, which probably won't be a big deal, but they do cause the non-BMW-fanatic to question my sanity. For example, the seat backs don't recline (I can hear the motors running), the rear windows regulators don't work all the time (motors OK there too), and the light behind the odometer is burned out making it almost impossible to read the mileage in the dark. It also needs a water pump even though I have a receipt for a replacement pump from less than two years ago. Maybe it was a cheap pump or a bad job installing it. In any case, it looks easy to replace. Also, the fact that a second key will cost $90.00 and take 3 or 4 days to get didn't go over real well.

On the plus side, the car is really comfortable on the road. It's nice and quiet, the factory tape deck still works and the sound system is top notch. The car is mechanically solid (besides the water pump). If it burned any oil it wasn't enough that I could tell by looking at the dipstick. We drove about 1400 miles. I would have easily had to add two quarts to the Saturn over that distance. The air conditioning works great. The heater controls allow side to side and front to back control that really goes beyond what I even want.

That first tank was a nice start. I didn't get that kind of mileage again due to traffic slowdowns and stops, but over all it wasn't too bad. The average for the whole trip was 24.0 mpg (9.80 l/100 km), the first highway tank on the trip home was 24.5 mpg (9.60 l/100 km) and the around town mileage was 18.2 mpg (12.92 l/100 km). That's more like what I expected. If you can just keep this car rolling it does OK. We spent an hour in a traffic jam on that first tank on the way home and it really cut into the mileage.

I read Bob's post about loving his E30 and I agree. This E34 is a fine car, but the E30 is more my style. I can see some of that complication causing trouble in the E34 that just isn't there in the E30. Of course, I think I could really get used to the M50 engine. Maybe I'll get one for the E30. :burnout:

January 04, 2012 08:27PM
The M50 works really well in the E-30. I have seen several conversions locally at the annual E-30 picnic. Been tempted to do the same myself. I do still enjoy the simplicity of the M-20 but the periodic timing belt change is a bit annoying. It gives me a chance to clean up the engine and do some other stuff along the way though.

The cost of the engine is usually less than having the head worked over on an M20 to rejuvenate it. That will come to an end eventually as low mileage E-36s become rare.

I had a chance to get a nice low mileage E-36 M3 engine and vacillated too long and someone else snapped it up.

Bob in Everett
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