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Car Disgust: BMW 3-series

This is probably one of the most challenging posts I have ever attempted to compose. How does one go about dissing perhaps the most revered sport sedan of the last 30 years, arguably one of the finest automobiles in the world at present? And I have labeled it an Objet d'isgust?

Well, it's complicated. Often when one attempts to dissect one's own feelings about a particular object, 1983-1991-E30-BMW-BMW-Heritage-1especially negative feelings, it's more a matter of self-discovery than anything else. And part of that self-discovery is determining the origin of those negative feelings, which often arise from sources that have nothing whatever to do with the object of hate. In addition, I've often found that my perceptions of certain people, places, or things say more about how they've been presented to me rather than as a product of my own thought process. And once all the navel-gazing is said and done, I sometimes end up realizing my hate has more to do with my own preconceptions than with any inherent qualities of said object.

And so we come to the BMW, particularly the 3 series. My feelings towards BMWs have always been kind of schizophrenic. On the one hand, I've always tended to see them as the quintessential self-satisfied Yuppie-mobile; on the other, as a largely objectively high quality automobile. How to reconcile the two? Well, if you can stand a little amateur psychologizing and '80s pop culture references with your Car Lust history, join me below the fold as I delve into the swirl of emotions surrounding this car and others like it, all without (hopefully) ticking a lot of people off.

The germ of this post came out of the old SUV Throwdown of a couple of years ago. Feelings are very strong regarding those vehicles and, for all you young'uns, a lot of the same sorts of feelings were here in the '80s regarding certain cars. Early on, I was a full-bore SUV-hater; later on, I mellowed out on them and generally came down on the live-and-let-live side of that argument, figuring a 400-horsepower sports car made about as much sense on city streets as a fully-equipped off-roader did. By then, I had come to believe that my ire at SUVs was more about my own perceptions of the sort of people that drove them as the vehicles themselves.

Err, but then we have the BMW, which I still have some fixation on. After the awfulness often gaudy but still wonderful era of 1970s car design, the 1980s brought with it a new cleanliness of line that had its start earlier in the States and earlier still elsewhere. BMW had gained some attention in the US with its 2002, E21 still a favorite among collectors and racing enthusiasts. The 3 series started out as a replacement for the 2002, a more upscale sedan known internally as the E21. It originally came in the three familiar model numbers: the 316, 318, and 320 all with slightly different standard features, although only the 320i was available in the US. The engines, starting out at 1.6 liters and going up to 2.0 liters, were designed for economy, coming as they did on the heels of the oil crises of the early '70s. By 1983 the 320i's engine had shrunk to 1.8 liters and only developed 100 horsepower; certainly not laughable but not exactly stellar.

The next generation E30, which started production in 1982 (available in 1984 here), is where the BMW really started to gain wide attention in the US and began its ascent as the "Ultimate Driving Machine". Where the E21 offered only 2-door models the E30 came in both 2- and 4-door versions with larger, more powerful engines as BMW shifted away from economy and more toward performance. That most quintessential of this generation, the 325i, was introduced in 1985 and put out a respectable 168 horsepower. This was only a few shades less than the muscle cars of the time: the Camaro topped out at 215 horsepower in the IROC-Z and the Mustang GT with around 210.

Stylewise, the E30s were much more aerodynamic and "sportier" than the E21 and had a distinctly muscular look to them, although one more designed to evoke long-distance road-carving rather than straight-line acceleration. With better handling than their muscle car counterparts, the image was quite apt. Meanwhile, in 1988 BMW set forth the first M3 in the US which Car and Driver described as "not a car for yuppies."

Ah yes, the Yuppies. It was about this time--the mid-1980s--that the Yuppie phenomenon started to take off. The Yuppie, short for YUP or Young Urban Professional, could be described as preppies that graduated from college. The last vestiges of Stagflation having been shrugged off, the US economy started taking off and young professionals with disposable income started looking around for stuff to spend it on. Legend has it that the term originated with Bob Greene in 1983 who compared them to Yippies who had grown up (actually just one, Jerry Rubin, but that's good enough for us). Probably the archetype was Michael J. Fox's character Alex P. Keaton of TV's Family Ties, who welded the connection between the hippie generation of his parents and the new breed.

According to Time magazine “Yuppies are dedicated to the twin goals of making piles of money and  Yuppie+80s achieving perfection through physical fitness and therapy.” You know the type: guys in silk suits, Wayfarers, Motorola "brick" in hand loudly telling their broker which stock to buy or arranging which wine bar to meet "Tiffany" at later (or, let's face it, ordering a few lines of Bolivian Marching Powder from "Chas" their erstwhile friend and current supplier).

BMW wasn't the only car that got "Yuppified" but was arguably the most famous (Saab also figures prominently, but never got its own moniker, like the "Beemer/Bimmer"). Was it fair? Eh, probably to a certain extent; a lot of upwardly mobile professionals gravitated to them much like the gray-flannel suit crowd of earlier days went for the Cadillacs and Lincolns once they hit a certain salary range.

The negative connotation is another story. Frankly, I think much of the negativity directed at Yuppies was more a product of the entertainment industry's political leanings than anything else. It was the Reagan era, "Morning in America", a more or less direct repudiation of the '60s counter-culture which much of Hollywood came of age in, and thus was something to be derided and vilified. To be honest, I bought into the Yuppie-hate thing, although in my case it was far more of a class thing. As a poor starving college student through much of the '80s, I had a certain aversion to those who would pursue something as gauche as money while I was pursuing the intellectual (i.e., unmarketable skills) life.

I certainly wasn't the only one who harbored these thoughts. I recall a couple of years ago when my Mustang II was starting to need a lot of work to remain viable and I mentioned to my Spousal Unit that I might consider a BMW--I had by this time started studying cars in more detail and decided that, as cars, they weren't too bad--and without a fraction of a second's hesitation she said "But you're not an [expletive deleted]."

The bad rap is worldwide, of course. In the UK we are informed by the boys from Top Gear that BMW drivers are "[expletive deleted]s" (though I think they have since decided those people drive Audi's instead). In Australia they are known as "[expletive deleted]s". And even in Tajikistan the dialect, while somewhat difficult to translate directly into English, refers to them as "[expletive deleted] with [expletive deleted] on a yak's [expletive deleted] to your mother's [expletive deleted]".

I jest, obviously (though both the Top Gear and my Spousal Unit's comments are direct quotes, more or less). As I say, there is probably some truth to the association; that's what marketing does and BMW has certainly marketed their cars to the more affluent among us. But I think most of my ire has been a dose of misplaced class warfare, aided and abetted by a media-entertainment complex with an axe to grind. Thus, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to all those BMW drivers out there for all the bad thoughts I have directed at you over the years based solely on the car you choose to drive.

Except the ones who cut me off on the highway; you remain [expletives deleted].

Credits: The top photo comes from BMWBlog, the E21 and E30 are from Wikipedia, and the Yuppie photo is found all over the web.

--Anthony Cagle


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I really like this 3 Series, but I understand exactly where you're coming from as far as the folks who drove them during the Decade of Conspicuous Consumption!

If memory serves, BMW stood for "Big Money Wasted" during this era. Or "Break My Window."

There's also the joke that goes, "Hey, what's the difference between a BMW and a porcupine? On the porcupine, the pricks are on the outside."

Great article, Anthony. It goes well with sheepskin seat covers. :))

The irony, of course, is that today, a BMW 3 series is a secretary's car. The vast majority you see on the highways today are leased, not bought, and they are all over the place here in CT. There is really no special cache to owning one here.

I think a big thing about 3 series BMWs was that back in the 80's they were a nouveau rich car. Buy a 560sel, and noone would tag you a "yuppie". Buy a 325 at half the price, and you were some sort of greedy, grasping, yuppie SOB.

As far as the stereotypical behavior of BMW drivers, I understand it a bit more since I began searching for my midlife crisis car last winter. I had test driven a few BMWs and Porsches--an E36 325, and a couple of e24 635s, in addition to the 928. They're light cars that handle well and beg to be zipped in and out of traffic in a way that you wouldn't dream of doing in a Crown Victoria.

A 3 series feels more "tossable" than the 928, even though probably the handling limits of the 928 are much higher. Though, again, like all cars, the modern 328 has spent a bit too much time at the all-you-can-eat option buffet (Current 328 curb weight, 3362lbs. 1990 325i curb weight, 2810lbs)

I used to have the same attitude toward personal luxury cars, especially Oldsmobiles, especially Oldsmobile Cutlass Supremes, most particularly G-platform Oldsmobile Cutlass Supremes (1978-88). In my case, it was a little bit cultural (Cutlass Supremes and Monte Carlos were pretty much the Official Cars of People in Youngstown, Ohio Who Went Bowling, Listened to the "Happy Polka Hour" on the Radio, and Liked "Charlie's Angels") and a little bit generational (the archetype Cutlass Supreme owner was a contemporary of my parents) and a little bit car-snob elitism on my part (live axle rear-end, Turbo-Hydromatic slushbox, vinyl roof--how gauche, how primitive!) with a fair bit of youthful rebellion mixed in. Some people rebelled against their parents by smoking pot or embracing Marxism; me, I bought a Honda.

I'm a little older and wiser now. I still don't care much for G-bodies, but that's just due to their inherent mediocrity. :-)

Cars are often a cultural marker of sorts, and if you're one of those people who doesn't like "those people," it's easy to transfer your dislike to the car, whatever the object of your disdain: "hippies" in VW Type 2 Transporters, "yuppies" in Bimmers, Ivy-league snobs in Volvos, "rednecks" in NASCAR-replica Pontiacs, "gangbangers" in Caddys with 20" Dub wheels, self-righteous eco-scolds in Priusses, and so on. I realize there is a rational critique of SUVs on their merits, but I suspect that a lot of the intensity of SUV-hate comes from cultural factors like this.

Finally, permit me to congratulate you on your mastery of Tajik-dialect insults. :-)

We used to call them Bad Made Wheels.

"Do you like Phil Collins? I've been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that, I really didn't understand any of their work. Too artsy, too intellectual. It was on Duke where Phil Collins' presence became more apparent. I think Invisible Touch was the group's undisputed masterpiece. It's an epic meditation on intangibility. At the same time, it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding three albums. Listen to the brilliant ensemble playing of Banks, Collins and Rutherford. You can practically hear every nuance of every instrument. In terms of lyrical craftsmanship, the sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism. Take the lyrics to Land of Confusion. In this song, Phil Collins addresses the problems of abusive political authority. In Too Deep is the most moving pop song of the 1980s, about monogamy and commitment. The song is extremely uplifting. Their lyrics are as positive and affirmative as anything I've heard in rock. Phil Collins' solo career seems to be more commercial and therefore more satisfying, in a narrower way. Especially songs like In the Air Tonight and Against All Odds. But I also think Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group, than as a solo artist, and I stress the word artist. This is Sussudio, a great, great song, a personal favorite."

I was hoping for a stronger explanation of what connected the yuppy pysche to BMW over other (German) cars.

Ehh, it's a decent car that's ruined by the douchebags that love it, I suppose. I don't see the appeal, but I suspect that's because the douchebags had ruined it already by the time I got interested in cars ;) (not that I can afford a BMW or anything, but, you know, as far as car lust objects go.) The only time I really pay attention to 3-series is when they cut me off-- which already means I have to pay attention to a hell of a lot more 3-series than I want to!

Kevin - is that a quote from 'American Psycho'?

Perhaps the appeal was the newness - Mercedes had been around a while and might have thrown off a stodgy aura. BMWs were newer (I'd only ever seen 1 2002 before the 3 series started popping up) and sportier. I don't think Audi was much of a player at the time, either.

I used to think the 944 had the same yuppie douchiness, but I'm coming around a bit on that. I'll be looking for my midlife crisis car soon and that might make the list...

The guy probably cut you off because you didn't move over for him. I do this on a daily basis to people who refuse to yield to faster traffic. I can understand the yuppie hatred, as I generally dislike most business/marketing majors for similar reasons, but I think that disliking people purely because they make money and want to stay in shape is weird.... doesn't everyone strive for that?

Anyway, one other thing, sports cars, when driven properly, are INFINITELY safer than any SUV, due to fantastic brakes, response, and handling. They're also almost always more efficient than an SUV, unless you're talking about something extremely special, like a Veyron.

I think your analysis of the ax grinding media influencing our perceptions is spot on. The media always reduces everything to a character. From the big hair BMW driving yuppie of the 80’s to the super chick that is required in any movie or TV show today the media reduces everything to two dimensions. By the way you know the super chick; she’s the one in every movie who can beat up any guy with super ninja, shocka-zuly Amazon moves. Hell they even made maid Marion one in the latest Robin Hood.
The SUV got the same bad press and I must admit I’ve never liked them either. For me it was the automatic transmissions and the inability to take a decent curve at 80 MPH. But when the snow starts flying or I need to haul something or pull a trailer my attitude toward the SUV starts to change, like that old Aunt who suddenly becomes a beloved relation when you need to borrow a few bucks.
Now in my older and wiser years I follow a simple rule, if the media is trashing something in lock step that thing is probably worth checking out.

The early three series suffer for their unfortunate association with a$$h0les. Mechanically they were great handling cars with decent acceleration. These are cars you can buy today on the cheap and enjoy them. The later 3's, however, are truly deserving of Car-Disgust. These went through an Elvis-ication as they became heavier, rounder, and extra-blingy. The final insult was Bangle's bastardization of BMW's basicly boxy but beautiful body.
Today the 3-series is little more than a status symbol for people with not much status. For all they know or care, you could glue the BMW roundel on the snout of a Chevy Malibu.

In the DC area, everyone has one or knows someone who drives one. There are thousands of off-lease bimmer's clogging the 3rd-tier used car lots. And since everyone here is soooo important, they perpetuate the gridlock as they maneuver all over the highway to gain 0.5" ahead of the guy creaping in the next lane.

In short, BMW's are good cars with lousy owners. Same as it was in Reagan's time.

I'm going to vote on the side that "This article was lame". Not because I disagree, but because the whole article was vapid and pointless. Sorry.

The author's summary of the BMW brand solely by linking it to what people may have thought of it in one single decade while excluding any other detractors or benefits [inhale] has the thoughtfulness and nuance of a high school girls' conversation about who's the most popular. Who gives a rat what people thought of BMW drivers 20+ years ago? Are you stuck in a time warp? Did the prom queen embarrass you in front of class in 1985? Today is 2010 and zillions of people drive or have driven a 3 Series who don’t use spray tan or own cellular phones… er. Well they don’t use spray tan. The 3 Series drivers of 1988 were just ahead of their time on the cell phones. Yeah, that’s it.

I, for one, consider myself first and foremost a “driver”. I love to drive. Whenever I see a new or old car the first thing I want to know is what it's like to drive and operate that car. If it's a luxury car I want to know what the butt massage feels like and how quietly it cruises at 100mph. If it's a sports car I want to know how well I can steer it with the throttle. Although I will admit that I will try to steer EVERY car I drive with the throttle at some point. But what I don’t think about is what other people think of me while driving that car, at least not for long.

If you’re going to pee in the 3 Series’ Wheaties, pee in it for the *right* reasons. They don’t get good fuel economy compared to their peers, the window regulators are as robust as Post-It Notes on a dusty desk, and everything made out of plastic or rubber under the hood fails within 100k miles. Not to mention the apparent $500 minimum cost of ANY service you could possibly ask for at a BMW dealer.

So yes, I drive a 3 Series. And I completely forget that the dealer quoted me $70 to replace the windscreen wipers when I hold the volume pedal all the way down and turn the wheel in an immature manner on the way to Buffy’s house. Because I can still buy wiper blades at Napa, and I still don’t look like as much of a cock as Hummer drivers.

No you goht eet all wrong,mon.

The BMW eet stahnds for Bob Marley & the Wailers.................

(hold for epic toke on spliff)....."The Ultimate Irie Machine"

"I, for one, consider myself first and foremost a “driver”. "
Guess what? So does every other BMW owner out there. That's why they own (er, lease...) the 'Ultimate Driving Machine'. Unfortunately, 99.99% of them lack the skills or training to be truly effective behind the wheel. Just because I wear Air Jordans doesn't mean I can play like Mike, right? But I can still call myself a 'baller'.

That reminds me of this story over at Saabs United:

@Mark - yeah, that's from 'American Psycho'. Whenever someone starts talking about the financial boom, yuppiedom, and the general atmosphere of the '80's, I think of that classic film which is one of my all-time favorites.

As for the sentiment of the article, I can understand it but don't relate to it much. Personally I think when the so-called 'yuppies' changed their tastes over from foreign sports sedans to SUV's it was a horrible trade-off, but that's just personal bias and taste. I have always been a big fan of well-engineered, high performance(or at least high efficiency or a balance of the two), smaller rides that are reliable and fun. I love great handling and consider any ride with a C/D over .40 and weighing more than 2 tons a hulking, lumbering menace (see Lincoln Navigator or Land Rover or Hummer or Yukon or [you get the idea]). So, if the yups snatched these rides up in droves in the '80's, more power to 'em. I mean, they needed something to drive, right? And IMHO they could have done MUCH worse, and it's just one more thing they had better taste about in that decade/generation. These cars were/are exceptional handlers, sporty, and many of them are still around today. I would not say the same for their American counterparts of the time period, and I can easily see why they turned overseas for what they wanted.

What saddens me at this point in time the most is the death of an entire genre of vehicles, that being the 'affordable Japanese sports car', but that's a whole nother story. I think someone should write an article on that, and ask me for some input because I've got a lot to say on the subject and a lot of background material to support it.

Meanwhile look at postings of used Celica's, older MR2's, Supra's, newer 300ZX's, 3000GT's, CRX's, del Sol's, Preludes, RSX-S's, etc. and tell me there isn't still a demand for these types of cars by the jacked up prices of all of them. About the only choice left is the 370Z and they start well over 30 grand. And I AIN'T buying no retro-American 'muscle' car.

If the present 3-series was close to my budget target I'd definitely consider one. I could probably afford to lease one but I prefer owning my vehicles so I can modify/personalize them to my heart's content. In the meantime I'll hunt down older Japanese sports car classics in good shape and pray to God they bring them back.

Didn't the modern mini have a 4 cylinder nearly identical 318i motor? That is some standing power.

I knew a guy that liked to do laps at a local track with his lowered full on coil over 89 VW GTI 16v and decided he wanted more creature comforts and rear wheel drive... so he got a 325is.

My 16v handles like it is on rails so I never quite understood his love for slippery leather seats.

Those cars are solid and can hold up for the long hall. But maintenance is higher than I wish to pay.

The first generation BMW Mini Coopers had Brazillian-made, 1.6 liter Dodge Neon engines. Now they have an engine that is a joint venture between BMW and Peugeot. Neither option sounds safe, but the Neon engine in my ex-gf's Mini Cooper was about the only thing that didn't break at least once.

E30 BMWs were one of the best cars ever made. Change the timing belt when you're supposed to and they last hundreds of thousands of miles. Unlike many cars, the interiors held up too. I sold my 1988 325 in 2007 and the only cosmetic issue inside or out was that the paint fell off the BMW badges on the hood and trunk. There are more of them on the road here than there are the E36s that replaced them, even though they didn't sell in as large numbers. People who had BMW envy in the '80s deserved to spend the next twenty years having their views blocked by SUVs.

What I always despised about the Yuppies was that they became emblematic of a generation, unfairly. I'm a boomer - a veteran, a merchant mariner, live in a rural area and I've had jobs ranging from security guard to IT tech, with none in marketing or bond trading or law. My off road vehicle goes off road, and I own guns. Not the standard profile, right?

And yet most marketing and entertainment was directed at this annoying stereotype. How many boomers were/are Yuppies? Certainly not a majority. Somebody in my generation was building the houses they bought, unstopping their toilets, operating their favorite restaurants, picking up their trash and wearing badges and driving fire engines. Yet the self absorbed asshole talking overly loud on a cell phone in his Beemer is the front man for us.

However, I do not resent BMWs. Well designed and built cars - what's to gripe about?

I've owned a couple of 3 series. I've also owned a Covair Monza, Volkswagen Ghia, 67 Barracuda, 67 GTO, 67 Firebird, 69 Mach 1 Mustang 428 CJ, Laugna S3 (loved the seats) and a Jaguar XJS as well as a 48 Dodge Woodie (currently under restoration by myself).

Why the BMW? Well, not because of some status association, but because they handle well. Damn well.

My disdain is shared not for the 3 series, but for the 5 series, and perhaps for similar reasons. The 5 series falls into the "middle child" trap. While a beautiful car, it takes the sedan part of the 3 series and tries to give it a little boost, while never quite entering into the luxury sedan market of the 7 series.

The great thing about the 3 series is the that it offers the practicality of a sedan, but the handling of a sports car. The 5 series though offers only the practicality of the sedan, but not quite the luxury of the 7 series. It's a waste. Why spend so much money on the 5 series (except to say that the 3 series is "beneath you") when you can get a fully loaded M3 for the base model of the 5. And if you are going to get a 5 and try to validate your purchase by loading it up on features, why not just get a base 7 series.

It's stupid all the way around. As mentioned previously, the 3 handles damn well -- particularly the most recent incantation of the 3.

My lust for the three came in driving a 1991 318i in highschool. It was a 7 year old car with crank windows, crank sunroof, and a cassette player. Yeah, it was a BMW on the outside, but it was a simple man's car on the inside. But jesus -- I loved how that car drove.

The 5 Series may seem like an awkward middle child, until you look at size (as opposed to price). The 3 Series is a compact car- it's less roomy than a contemporary Civic or Corolla (look at internal dimensions not external, as the packaging is much less efficient). If you want the interior room of a regular family sedan, you need to step up to the 5 Series.

Similar situation to the 3 Series with Audi and the A4- that car is *small* inside. My 5'9" tall wife used to find it odd that every one of her (male) coworkers who drove an A4 was shorter than her. She never understood it, until she tried sitting in one.

Oh, and about the article itself- I find the whole premise quite commendable.

Not everyone has the perceptiveness to figure out that they were a gullible, media-brainwashed wanker. Or the courage to admit it. Or the strength of character character to try to undo it.

Kind of amazing that someone can write about BMW styling and not mention how the 2002 owed its shape, greenhouse etc. to a south-German reimagining of the 1960-6 Corvair. That ugly little car influenced many German and Japanese designers (but hardly any American ones). The stylists at BMW, NSU, Datsun etc. acknowledged this debt. BMW then built it into a much improved design language of their own that lasted for decades, until they hired the blind guy.

One of the reasons that I quit reading American car magazines was the every-other-month comparison test wherein they crown a BMW on subjective grounds. How many times have you read, "It might not have been the fastest through the slalom, or to 60, or [etc. etc.] but..."

BMW's do have good handling in the dry, nice styling (until the advent of the purblind Chris Bangle's "disjunct nightmare look"), and, and this is not to be underestimated, had highly superior interior ergonomics in an era where most of Detroit still didn't see a problem with putting acres of chrome on a dashboard and putting the radio and climate controls in a place only an orangutan could reach, or some unhappy human mutant who had a basketball center's arms and Tattoo the Dwarf's legs.

I succumbed to the BMW mystique and spent several years with a 633csi. There I discovered the other side of BMW, the build quality. (I visited the plant in this period, by the way, and most of the line workers appeared to be Turks for some reason!). I also discovered that the almost telepathic response the car had in the dry turned into a hog-on-ice frightmare in rain or snow. I live in New England, specifically New Hampshire, and foul weather is a nine-months reality. Despite numerous tire changes (including obscenely expensive Hakkapellittas [sp?]) the thing would just as soon spin as look at you. My then-fiancee was terrified of the car and wouldn't drive it on any day where the forecast didn't let it be parked with the sunroof open.

Let's not talk about reliability or durability, except to say the car cost more per month once it was paid off (and out of warranty) than it did to buy. And it was a very expensive car. But it was built for the German two-year new car cycle (financial incentives and the stringent TüV inspections force much more rapid retirements there than here) and was really used up after two years. That's why you see very few of the once popular 6 series and the previous 2.8/3.0 CS coupes, which are among the most beautiful cars ever built by BMW. They've fallen apart, literally.

The efficient packaging ended at the front seats. The 633 was a marginal four-seat car, but the smaller BMWs of the era were marginal 2+2s. I don't know what the cars are like now; I'm too disillusioned to try again.

But I'm sure on the rack right now, at least one of Rod & Truck, Carp & Drivel, and Autoerotible has a three-car comparison review, in which the editors will predictably crown the BMW. (They even raved about Bangle's styling excesses; they're hopeless fanboys). Then, the editors and writers (who don't make BMW salaries) will drive home in their Hondas and Toyotas, blissfully unaware of what it's like to be a BMW owner when the pot-metal intake plenum fails, or the flimsy but complex extra U-joints in the drive train let go, or the car is six years old and the plastic pieces have been oxidized by UV exposure and start flaking.

They're built to be disposable. The plastic pocket on the drivers' door was a $725.26 part, and that was many years ago. Look at the next six series you see and see if there's ductape on that pocket!

I'll damn them with faint praise and say they're not as bad as Jaguars as a long-term, buy-and-hold car (and this might explain why so many are on 24-mo leases -- roll 'em over before they fall apart). But they're not as good as GM cars as a long-term, buy-and-hold car, and even today's GMs are dreadful on that score.

This BMW hating came from the same mentality as the Socialists use to divide people. The successful must be hated. The hatred of cell-phones, (early) BMWs driven by young professionals, or SUVs (before everyone had one) was taken to a ridiculous level.

Many people are either jealous of what others have or are embarrassed by their wealth. It came from 40 years of leftists in the classroom telling young people that capitalism was evil.

I heard a very cogent explanation of the SUV craze (Other than evil Corporate executives subjecting Americans to gas guzzling behemoths) Compared to Europeans, Americans are a larger people, have more children, own more stuff, and drive further than Europeans. And, by God, we were Americans. Don't tell us we can't drive in snow. We want 4wd.

Those who drove the expensive SUVs early were hated by the jealous who couldn't afford one.

In the 80s, lots of young people aspired to be successful, or to at least, with the lease, appear successful with the Beamer required of that status. There were plenty of posers, but the hatred of them said more about the hater than the poser.

It was a tough time for a person who drove a BMW because it was a well made driving machine for enthusiasts.

The interesting result in our post-sussessful country is that the 7 series has become the Q-ship for the wealthy who do't want to appear in a MB S Series or Bently. It is just understated enough to not attract the wrath of the jealous.

After all, most Prius and Hummers are driven for exactly the same reason; what their choice in vehicles say about them.

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