Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Automotive Nostalgia

I saw this in Hemmings Daily e-mail today...

That tugs at the ol' heartstrings.  I had a 320i in the wayback and loved that car.  This example is a California car goin' for $7K and has about the same mileage as the one I sold back in 1992, after owning the car for ten years.  Here's a lil blurb I put up about my Beemer back in 2010:

I couldn’t help but contrast this non-ritual with the most amazing delivery experience I ever had, and one that’s not been matched since. That most amazing experience was at BMW’s Delivery Center in Munich. The Second Mrs. Pennington and I took delivery of a 1983 320i there in the fall of 1982. In Baltic Blue…just like the one at left. Yeah, it looks gray. I thought so, too. But if you've ever seen the Baltic Sea, you understand. Most accurate, those Teutons!

After presenting ourselves at the front desk of the delivery center (where we were signed in), we were escorted into an office where a BMW employee… fluent in English… walked around from behind his desk, introduced himself, and then sat back down behind his desk after we were seated. He verified our identities (passports and other assorted sales and delivery-related papers) and finished processing our paper work. This took all of about 15 minutes and was quite pleasant and efficient. The signing of the paper was concluded with a crisp “So, are you ready to take your new car?” Hell, Yes! Let’s GO!

We were escorted out of his small office and across a rather large area resembling a showroom, with various Beemers sitting around in all their glory. On the far side of the showroom were two sliding glass doors that opened into a spotlessly clean garage area, where our new baby was sitting, along with several other cars. We were met at the door by a middle aged man in a white lab coat. The paper processor introduced us, by name, and informed us Mr. Herr I-Forget-His-Name was going to “introduce” us to our new car.

And introduce us he did. He demonstrated every feature on that car, and I mean every single one…including popping both hood and trunk, showing us where the dipstick was, just to cite one example… demonstrating the oil level was indeed full, in the process. He showed us the fuse box. He showed us the spare, and the jack, and demonstrated how to remove and replace each. He showed us how to tune the flippin’ radio, how to operate the sun roof, adjust the seats…in short, everything imaginable. And then he asked if we had any questions. I had none: the briefing and walk-around, which lasted the better part of 45 minutes, had been more comprehensive than any I’d ever had, before or since. TSMP, honor-bound as she was to never let an opportunity to ask questions pass her by, had a few which were handled politely and with aplomb, even the one or two eye-rollers (on my part and my part alone).

The ritual ended with the signing of a delivery form, we were handed maps and detailed instructions on how to reach the autobahn (after being discreetly asked if we were leaving Munich right away), and we were out the door. Literally, accompanied by hand waves of good-bye and shouted exhortations to “Enjoy your new Beh-Emm-Vay!!” And we did…from that moment on and for ten years hence.

I marveled about that experience for months, if not years. It was extraordinary. And that was for a bottom-of-the-line Beemer. Lord only knows what hoops they jump through if you buy an expensive one…
The first sentence in the quoted bits refers to the delivery ritual for the last mo'sickle I bought, which basically consisted of the sales lady handing me the keys and sayin' "Have a nice day!"  Quite the difference.  Not keeping the car longer is just about the only regret I have about my 320i.  Why?  Coz I replaced it with a SAAB 9000 hatchback, which was one of the WORST cars I ever owned.  But the SAAB is another story altogether.


  1. Heh... Yep they DO do it right... Was there last year (not for a Beemer), but friend is a BMW nut... Watched a brand new 6 series roll out for a couple. It IS impressive... :-) But I wouldn't want to pay the maintenance on an old BMW... That would break me!

    1. But I wouldn't want to pay the maintenance on an old BMW...

      That's precisely why I sold that 320i. Even though I had a very good third-party mechanic that did the required maintenance on my car (the BMW store prices were OUTRAGEOUS), parts were still expensive. My mechanic advised me that the car had reached the point where stuff was gonna need to be replaced soon and I'd be wise to sell now before the shit hit the fan. So I did.

  2. My factory experience was when I picked up the 3rd tubular-steel frame Marcos 3-litre 1969/70 GT (2994ccs) ever produced at the factory in Bath, UK. Driving a car that was so low to the ground that it was hard for others to see (4in clearance) and with left-hand drive on British roads all the way back to Ipswitch was NOT for the faint of heart! TRUST ME, lol

  3. I have to confess to owning my 328i convertible in SOCAL for 6 years without ever quite getting around to figuring out the radio. I could have read the manual but I mostly listened to KFI while commuting or CDs while cruising up and down PCH. I was sitting next to another beemer one day at the garage getting my oil changed when the mechanic/owner of the place told that car's owner it was going to cost at least $6000 to repair the engine. When I was encouraged to sell it to buy a new family car, I parted with it reluctantly but the repair costs were staggering and one day I was going to get hit with one of those bills.

  4. @ Virgil: Driving ANY left-hand drive car in Ol' Blighty isn't for the faint of heart, especially on the B-roads (and some A's, too). A left hand drive sports car would be terrifying.

    @ Curtis: I do SO hear ya about maintenance costs. The Beemer is one helluva car when it's running right and a financial nightmare when it breaks.


Just be polite... that's all I ask.