My favorite car to drive as to reliability, which means all in all, is my 1989 BMW 325i. I love this car, even though:
- The door has had issues and by now it doesn’t lock any more
- I tried to fix that and the interior driver side paneling is now non-existent
- The air conditioning compressor stopped working long ago
- The passenger seat had a pokey spring in it until I replaced it with a pretty other E30 unit but totally in a non-matching style and color
- The center console is gone; I forget why
- The temperature gauge shows that the car is ice cold until I’ve driven it for 10 miles, and then suddenly it springs to life
- The car is probably running insanely rich
- The coolant warning light gets upset when I go around a corner quickly
- Coolant seems to keep vanishing
- The rear suspension squeaks like crazy
- It looks like a front seat passenger had swallowed a lot of dark paint and then threw up on the beige carpet
- The top plastic of the instrument cluster is broken, due to me trying to hotwire the car when its ignition switch died
- The big trim piece underneath the steering wheel is missing for the same reason
- It leaks oil
- The clear-coat is flaking off everywhere
- The dash is cracked
My little E30 just keeps going and going and going. I change the timing belt regularly, service the transmission regularly, change the oil, and it just keeps on being 100% reliable.
My friend has been driving BMWs since the early 1980s, and he currently owns two V-12 BMW 750iL cars. He describes his frustrations as “death by a thousand paper cuts.” Not that my E30 is dying as long as I cheerfully tolerate its indiscretions. It just keeps going. I love this car.
Sometimes, compliments are earned by contrast. And yes, that’s the case here. Don’t hate me, but I recently bought two 2000 Audi A6 Quattro rocket-ship cars with the 40-valve V8 4.2 engine and 5-speed Tiptronic Porsche-designed transmission. Compared to my E30 they’re so advanced it’s like they’re from outer space. And they both have dead transmissions. As in, very expensively dead. Which mean, within my budget, they are unfixably dead. That’s fine because I knew that when I bought them, and the prices reflected their condition. Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to fix them affordably. Until then, I smile when I think about the dead Audis and I drive my 11-years older-yet E30 and feel its little transmission shift perfectly.
There’s an added bonus; I tend to often get lost in thought, and it’s happened more than once that I forgot where I’d parked or what I was driving that day (I do have three other cars licensed and insured), and then I came across this lovely bronzit-colored E30 in the parking lot, and I thought “ooh, what a pretty E30” and then I realized: “hey, blondie, that’s your own car.”