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BMW 5-series (pre-1988)

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      26.11.2003 17:09
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      please skip this first bit to be able to read the review with capital letters intact. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a.
      a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. ___________________________________________________________________________ *NOTE* "Dumbo", aka 2Quizzy, put this in the wrong car category, but thanks to aefra and Katie it will be moving to the right spot soon. ____________________________________________________________________________ The Green Mamba is one of Africa's deadliest snakes. It's related to the cobra and like the cobra the venom affects the heart and breathing. It can kill within 30 minutes. It's a slender elegant snake with a light apple green skin. It's also the nickname for the only car I have ever hated which hated me equally in return. At first I thought I'd give this challenge a miss since I've never owned my own car and so don't get to drive often. Then as I started reading the great stories of other people's most memorable cars the Green Mamba slithered into my mind. I've never been the type of person who names machines or gives inanimate objects personalities. Ok, I do yell at my computer, but that's different. No human being on this planet working with computers can get through their life without yelling at them. It's part of standard computer-using procedure. Right up there with learning the hard way what "cannot find document" REALLY means. The Green Mamba is an exception though as this car really did have personality. The Green Mamba in my life was a bright apple green BMW 518, I think it's year was 1974, but I can't remember now. My dad had been doing work at a BMW showroom. He was working as an electrician putting in new lighting and got friendly with the manager. The manager mentioned to him that the display car in the main window was going on sale. Would he be interested? An almost brand new BMW
      518 for the less than half the normal price? What a question! So that was how the Green Mamba came into our lives. My mom adored that car. It had real leather seats in palest cream and all the BMW trimmings. I liked it at first, but things would change as the years went by. Interestingly my pet poodle hated it from the first day, but he and I were the only ones. The rest of the family thought it was the bargain of the century and the best car ever. Admittedly the apple green colour was rather bright, but since there were only two apple green BMWs ever made by the BMW factory in East London, South Africa that kind of made us feel rather unique. It also made us stand out like a beacon in our small hometown which was a mixed blessing. Everyone knew who to wave hello to, but you could never go anywhere without the entire town knowing about it. Amongst my friends it got mixed reactions. A lot of them disapproved of me now being driven around in a "snob" car. Of course these were some of the same friends who didn't mind quite so much when my mom took us all through to the movies in it! For the record you can fit seven teenagers and one mother in a BMW 518, but just make sure the police don't see you! Oh sorry, seven teenagers, one mother and one very important toy poodle. Why did the poodle hate the Green Mamba? Because it had luxurious adjustable bucket seats and a raised centre for the gear lever that made the front floor area very restricted. His first car had been a Ford automatic and he used to lie in the centre of the wide open front floor with his nose wedged against the bottom air vent being force-fed the outdoor smells. The BMW had side air vents and nowhere for a dog to lie in luxury. The back was as bad. Enough room for human feet, but too small and dark for a dog who considered himself Emperor of the family. Lying on a back floor was too demeaning for his tastes. Added to his misery there were no little
      side windows to poke his head out and the back window was angled to a degree where the sun came in and heated him up like a pie in a warming drawer. He'd spend an entire trip in that car moving from place to place sighing and glaring at us as if to say, "I'm in extreme discomfort and it's all your fault!" Why did I grow to hate the Green Mamba? I can't remember exactly when, but I can tell you why. Within a year or two it started acting up. We'd stop at a shop or a friend's house.. and it just wouldn't start again. At first my dad tried to figure it out himself, then he called in the friends and all the men would stand in the garage and stare into it's unfathomable depths. When all their tweaking and fiddling left us no better off the Green Mamba was sent on to the mechanics - plural. Over the years that car was to visit every single mechanic in our area and beyond. We even sent it back to BMW themselves. Everyone had theories about the ailment, but no one ever cured it. Thinking back the warnings signs had been there from pretty early on. A German mechanic friend had a look at it just after we bought it. He commented that it had been in an accident at some time and in his opinion the engine had been patched and we should sell it ASAP. It seemed crazy at the time that this sleek shiny new car could be "impaired" so my parents decided to keep it against his advice. Whatever happened to it before it came to us it we'll never know. All I can say is that it never worked like a sane normal car. You'd go for months with everything perfect and then one day you'd turn the key and.. nothing. We had the starter motor replaced as well as all sorts of other bits I have no names for. Car innards aren't my strong point. All I know is it spent more time in surgery than any car I've ever known and nothing ever took the problem away. The weird thing is it rarely refused to start at
      home, it only saved this for humiliating or annoying times and places. It would usually start if pushed and I have pushed that ***** car more times than I even want to remember. I've pushed it in high heels and evening dress in the middle of the night, I've pushed it in pouring rain and gale force winds, I&# 39;ve pushed it uphill to be able to get to a downhill and I've pushed it across a main road in full rush hour traffic. It's favourite trick was to stick in parkings facing down so that you had to struggle gasp and sweat to get it up and out before you could even begin pushing it to start it. My personal all-time favourite though is a day when I went with my mom to the doctor and had to push it wearing summer mule sandals. Every time I pushed I shot out my shoes and I must admit as hot and angry as I was it was hilarious. On the plus side we made a lot of friends in those days. It's interesting to see who will stop and offer to help and who won't. My all-time thanks goes to a lovely lady in gold jewellery and teeny weeny gold sandals who pushed us up a hill when my mom came to get me from hospital. I couldn't push or drive and we were totally stuck that day until our glittery guardian angel arrived on the scene. How she managed to push us in those sandals is surely a miracle. It had another sneaky trick too. Sometimes it would start if you let it stand a while, but there were no guarantees. So you could sit there like an idiot for an hour and still find it wouldn't start. Plus pushing didn't always work. Out of every ten times it refused to start there would be maybe three times where pushing was fruitless. Then you'd still be stuck, but now you were also stuck in the middle of a road. As this was in the days before mobile phones if we were stuck one of us would have to hike off to find a payphone. Can I now say to the mean old man in the tea room who wouldn't let me use his telephone even when
      I promised I'd pay ? GO SUCK LEMONS! I had to walk miles further to find a phone that day. Sometimes if we got stuck in town we'd simply leave it and get a bus, but we lived out in the country beyond bus routes and tarred roads so sometimes being stuck was a major disaster. Why didn't we get rid of it? Well, everyone was convinced we'd finally figure the problem out and then it would be okay. Optimism kept us trapped. It looked so good and it sounded so good and to be honest is was a very safe and pleasurable car to drive once it started. It had a way of hugging the road when you turned corners and a deep rumbly purr that made you feel you were driving something special. BMW is a first class car. Ours just never was "right". I am sure there are lots of good sound logical reasons for this, but I still tend to lean towards demonic possession. Which brings me to my statement that the Green Mamba hated me. I learnt to drive in that car, but once I had my license I rarely drove it. Not out of choice, but out of fate or deliberate spite. I'd get up in the morning and say, "I'll drive to town today" and we'd walk outside and find a tyre was flat, or the battery was flat. It was so weird that everyone in the family commented on it. The only times it ever refused to start at home was on days I tried to drive it. Once, when I got really mad and said, "I'm driving it tomorrow no matter what!".. the water piper snapped whilst we were out and the engine block cracked and eventually the entire engine had to be replaced. That was my wake-up call. That was where I finally admitted defeat and stopped trying to drive it. I'm not a superstitious sort, but that car gave me the creeps. From then on I only ever travelled as passenger and emergency pusher, never as driver. Over the years I got into the habit of going with my mom if she was travelling far just in case she needed someone to pus
      h start. Sometimes we'd go for ages with no problems and then at the most inconvenient time and place it would throw it's little tantrum. The worst was the day my grandfather was rushed to hospital. We were following behind until we stopped at traffic lights and never started again! That day no one stopped to help us, for some reason. People were hooting and passing as I tried to push through the traffic with my gran having a panic fit that we'd arrive at the hospital too late. So it was decided that the time had finally come for the Green Mamba to move on. A young enthusiastic friend begged us to sell it to him. He was convinced that a car that looked that good could be fixed. We tried to put him off, but he was convinced he could turn the old serpent around. Eventually we sold her to him for the absolute minimum and waited to see how long it would take before he gave up in despair. Life was busy and time passed. My parents got a new car and never looked back. Well.. my mom still says she misses the Mamba, but we all shriek and block our ears when she says so. The young friend never said a word. We only knew he'd sold it when an old family friend phoned to say, "Have you seen where the Green Mamba is now?" He said he'd been on his way to work at about 6:00 am when he'd seen "them". Three "ladies of the night" getting into bright apple green BMW! There was no mistake. We phoned the young friend and he confessed all. He'd sold the Green Mamba to an escort agency. Even now friends who remember us regularly call to say when and where they've seen the Green Mamba, usually in the early hours of the morning being pushed down the road by women in tight skirts, high heels and fish net stockings. What more can I say? ;) **If you want to take part, please include CARS OF MEMORY in the title and include the following paragraph: "This review is part of t
      he CARS/MOTOR BIKES OF MEMORY challenge where members are asked to write about cars/motor bikes which bring back memories. ** Katie says she will hurry through any item requests. If they are flagged "Motors" she will see they go through as quickly as possible. She also asks that they not be "In General". Any w hich have consumer information will be eligible for crowns. **"

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        28.07.2002 01:39
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        The two E28 525e's I own prove these beemers to be solidly built and quite reliable in their pensioned years. Now you can pick them up for monopoly money, but is it worth it? Yes, but I would say that. The 'eta' engine is high compression high torque-similar principle to a diesel's-it's rev limit is just over 4,500rpm. I can average on motorways and trunk roads over 45mpg, yet on mountain roads this drops to 25mpg.But it's the cars overtaking ability which impresses most, 50-70mph often stuns boy racers trying to keep up, and they get truly left behind after that.And all very civilised except for that wicked engine note which you just want to hear revved. It's auto box has well spaced gears which allow overtaking with such ease, 2nd can be usefully used at 55-60 changing down manually from drive and then up to 3rd at 70. 70mph cruising relates to 2050rpm. Overall the 525e is a very good tool to get from a-b, I have covered 50k miles in 3 years without a single service- one 525e has perished valve stem seals so a pint of oil every 1000miles, the other's oil is changed every 6000, and just two breakdowns for a broken fan belt, cheap and refined motoring.

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          16.06.2002 06:21
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          • "people assume you're a third-rate drug dealer"

          The 1980's BMW 5-series (known as the E28) is currently down at the real banger end of the market. It is surely only a matter of time that the standard models pick up classic kudos like the M5 and M535i have. I bought my 528i, with 150k miles, in April 2002 from an advert on the BMW Car Club website. At £650 I probably paid a little over the odds which gives you a real idea of the low values these cars currently command. However, the car was in excellent condition with a long MOT and full service history. It also features some unusual options such as a Getrag close-ratio manual gearbox, M-Tec sports suspension, sports front seats and a limited slip differential. Since I have had the car I have spent some time fixing niggling little faults which all older cars have, some of which appear peculiar to this particular model. The boot was leaking water which was traced to a faulty rear light seal. Some adjustment of the electric window channels was necessary in some of the doors before the windows worked faultlessly. The driver's seat trim had worn, so new material was ordered from BMW (impressive parts availability!) and fitted by a local seat trimmer. The interior door trim had shrunk from the corners so was stretched and re-stapled to its backing. A radio mounting bracket was sourced so that the radio no longer slid out of the dashboard during hard acceleration. The gearlever gaiter was ripped and so was replaced. On the bodywork side, the car really is excellent with no rust on the external panels, although it was subsequently discovered that one jacking point required welding, and there were some rust holes in the bottoms of the doors. These have been repaired. Otherwise, no rot. Pretty good for a 17-year old car. Mechanically the car has been excellent, although it needed new HT leads, distributor cap and rotor arm initially to run on unleaded. These can be expensive if genuine BMW parts are used, this was before I discove
          red specialists such as German and Swedish! I subsequently used them for parts such as the exhaust centre pipe (£60!). I have spent about £700 on repairs and servicing, but a lot of this is perfectionist stuff like the seat, I like my cars to be "right". To drive the car is an absolute hoot. The 2.8-litre straight six develops 184bhp and makes a very distinctive noise (anyone who has heard a 6-cylinder BMW will know exactly what I mean). It's pretty damn rapid - contemporary road tests reckon on 0-60mph in just over 7 seconds and a top whack of 130mph. The limited-slip differential keeps things in check in the dry but it's very easy to slide the back end out in the wet. It's probably best to drive with restraint in this particular car as it still has the original metric TRX tyres, which apparently cost £170 each. Ouch. It's very easy to live with - there's quite a bit of room in the old square-rig body, the power steering has lots of feel, but the gearchange is, well, a bit agricultural. There's a bit of wind noise at higher speeds. Economy is not a strong suit - 24mpg average if you're lucky. This car has a full complement of creature comforts, too - electric windows, mirrors and sunroof, central locking and an excellent stereo. All of which must have cost the original owner a pretty penny when he or she ticked up the options sheet. In summary, then, it looks and goes better than any C-registration car with 153k has any right to, and makes far more sense than an old Granada, Rover SD1 or even (dare I say it) Jag. Buy right and you'll do well - however, most cars out there are real sheds and you need to avoid them. BMWs are not cheap to run. You have been warned! A good one is a peach, and it will be all the more heartbreaking when I have to be parted with mine in September when I move to the Channel Islands!

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          29.03.2001 07:09
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          I bought my 1987 D-reg 518i almost a year ago for £350. Since then, I have covered 12,000 miles in it and its mileage is fast approaching 200,000...and still going strong. Its MOT last year cost about £100 and since then all I've needed is a service, a new starter motor (£15 from a scrapyard), a pair of front discs & pads (£175), and a windscreen (kindly paid for by my insurance company). Fuel economy can touch 35mpg on a long journey if I behave myself, but an average of 25-30mpg should be expected. Because I was only 21 when I bought the car, the insurance was pricey to say the least... about £700 3rd party fire & theft, though only slightly more for fully comp. (which paid off when the windscreen cracked). I have it insured with AXA Direct, who were A LOT cheaper than the several other companies I tried (Am I allowed to say that?!) But I comfort myself each month, when the 70 odd quid leaves my bank account, with the thought that many comparable cars (Fords, Sierras and Fords etc.) would be costing me that just to keep them going! How does it compare with other 1.8 saloon cars? Rust - None yet, I mean none...when did you last see a rusty BMW? Reliability - Apart from the starter wearing out, absolutely no problems at all. Performance - ah, yes... well, it's adequate, most of the time: Round town its good, I do battle on the streets of London on a regular basis and apart from the fact that no one gives way to BMWs (a problem I never had when driving my beat-up old Volvo!) it keeps up with, and keeps ahead of most of the traffic. On country roads, my preferred territory, it's rear-wheel drive and well-engineered suspension, chassis and steering justify the cars' reputation as Ultimate Driving Machines. But beware of oversteer on wet roads... However, on A-roads and Motorways, the 1766cc engine shows its weakness - midrange pulling power. Overtaking manuvoures i
          n a 518i should be carefully planned and skillfully executed with full use of the gearbox, which incidently is irritatingly highly geared. This car will stuggle to accelerate up even reletively slight inclines - dropping down to fourth at 60-70mph just to get it to do anything is not uncommon. (and those of you who think I'm just a boy racer are wrong!) My advice to anyone contemplating a cheap 5 series... - Check with your insurance company first. - If you like automatics, and insurance quote permitting, get a 525e. Simple as that. Buy a 525e. They are as economical as a 518i but performance is comparable to midway between a 520i and a 525i. They are all automatics, tend to be well equipped, and that long-stroke 2.7 engine will last forever. - If you prefer a manual gearbox, but are watching the pennies, go for a 520i. - If you can afford the insurance and the petrol, find yerself a 528i. I have it on good authority that you will not be disappointed!... - Don't bother paying more than a grand for an 80's 5-series. Be wary of, but don't rule out cars under £500. So, Would I buy another 1980s 5-series? Yes, definitely. But next time I'll find a good 525e, or maybe a 520i - though it depends what AXA Direct have to say cometh the dreaded insurance renewal date...

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