Archive for February, 2012

1989 Ford Taurus SHO commercial

 

Test Drive: 1995 BMW 840ci (E31)

On February 10, 2012, I test drove a 1995 BMW 840ci at Paradise Automotive Group in San Juan Capistrano, California. The car’s exterior is black with a grey leather interior. It has 113,000 miles with an asking price of $10,500. Under the hood is a M60B40 engine. It’s a 4.0 liter 32 valve V8 engine that produces 282 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm. The transmission is a 5 speed automatic with rear wheel drive. The E31 8 Series is one of the most beautiful cars ever designed. Even today they still turn heads. Production of the E31 started in 1989 and was not yet released to the U.S. market. The 8 Series have been shipped to the U.S. for the 1991-1997 model years with both V8 and V12 engines. In 1991, the only model available was the 850i which came with a M70B50 V12 with either a 4 speed automatic or a 5 speed manual (1991-1994 models). Around the year 1995, the “ci” was added to the name of all 8 series models and the M70B50s were replaced by the M73B54 5.4 liter V12s. Around that same time, the M60B40 V8 became the car’s standard engine (840ci). In 1996, the 840ci models came with the M62B44 V8s which had 4.4 liters. From 1994-1995, there was a limited production model 8 Series called the 850csi. They offered S70B56 engines which were 5.6 liter V12s and 6 speed manual transmissions. 1997 was the last model year for the 8 Series in the United States. In 1999, the E31 was discontinued all together. The sharp design of the 8 Series give more of an Italian car appearance. I would refer to them as the poor man’s Ferrari because many people that know nothing about cars may look from a distance and say “Look! It’s a Ferrari!” and these cars are not as expensive. Compared to vehicles such as the 7 Series, 8 Series have more value and are less common. I would certainly say that they will have classic potential in the future.
I found this car listed on Autotrader.com. I was originally going to look at a 1991 BMW 850i in Costa Mesa, but it had already been sold. Instead, I decided to have a look at this 840ci. I called the dealer to make an appointment to look at it. I was supposed to meet with a guy named Steve, but instead I met with another salesperson named Lorenzo. When I got there, he told me that the car was his dad’s and he’s only had it for about six months. He bought it from another dealer for about $13,000. The car had one owner before the father, and about $10,000 had been invested in repairs before he sold it to the dealer. Lorenzo told me the car had a power steering leak, and it needed a new headliner. He said they would be fixed if I decided to purchase the car. When he showed me the car, it was somewhat dirty because of some bug crap on it. Condition wise, there were no noticeable dents or scratches. This 840ci also had 18” BMW M parallel chrome rims, which are some of the nicest wheels to have on any Bimmer. The interior was in excellent condition, except for the sagging headliner of course. The interior gives a sports car impression more so than of a luxury car, because of the grey color and no wood trim. It’s not bad, but I usually prefer a tan interior with wood trim. Lorenzo offered me to take it for a spin, so I started the car, and then tested all of the mechanical functions. All four windows worked (even the back ones). The A/C, sunroof, radio, and mirrors all worked. I think this car was well cared for, but the thought of $10,000 being spent in repairs sounded horrifying! It’s good knowing that what has been fixed shouldn’t break, but it’s bad because it makes you wonder if the car may need more expensive repairs in the future. Remember, Lorenzo told me the car has a power steering leak. He didn’t say how much it would cost; just that he’d fix it before it sold. Before I started driving, Lorenzo asked me what other cars I was looking at. I just told him “Some 7-Series and Range Rovers.” He then went on saying that what makes an 8-Series better than a 7-Series is that they are much harder to find and they have classic potential, which he is correct. He also stated that “Most 7-Series are beaten up and driven by old Persian men; no offense to anyone. I’m just repeating what he said to me. Now, let’s get back to the test drive.
I drove the car off the lot and turned right onto Valle Rd, and then I made another right turn onto La Novia Ave. It was a curvy street, and I was able to test the car’s handling abilities. The power steering leak didn’t seem to have much of an effect on the drive, but maybe it felt a small bit heavy. It’s still not really noticeable. I have driven a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle which had absolutely no power steering whatsoever, and it took more force to turn it. When we came to a stoplight, I noticed the temperature gauge needle was moving back and forth. Lorenzo said that it’s common for BMWs to do that and it was not really worth fixing. I put the car in “sport” mode before making a left turn, and after the light turned green I floored the gas and felt more power than I did before when it wasn’t in sport mode. For some reason, I wasn’t enjoying this test drive as well as I thought I would. It could have been because I had to drive with a salesman, some slight traffic that I encountered, or because I was too familiar with driving BMWs. I have driven a lot of them. Lorenzo was okay, but I think he was hoping that I would fall in love with the car right away. As we got closer to the 5 freeway there was some traffic. I will admit that I was going a little too fast, but the brakes were able to stop the car without squealing the tires. I made another left from San Juan Creek Rd back onto Valle Rd. I continued to drive past the dealer towards an office complex where I made a U-turn into the parking lot and drove back. When returning to the dealer Lorenzo showed me a few other cars on the lot that were around the same price as the 840ci. I didn’t have any interest in them and many of their brake rotors were rusty. They’re not a problem, but it shows that the cars haven’t been driven in a while. I felt that Lorenzo was being a little bit pushy, but not as much compared to other places I’ve been to. When I went in his office he started asking me when I was planning to buy a car and that he’d be on the lookout for other cars that I’d have interest in. He asked for my number and I just gave him a fax number. I always do that so salespeople don’t try and call me over and over about buying from them. Before leaving the dealer I had another look around the car. The E31 8-Series is a very sexy looking car and would definitely attract women. I hope to find an 850 eventually and drove it. Hopefully when I drive that car I will have a more enjoyable driving experience because for some reason the 840ci didn’t feel very joyful to drive. I went on Kelley Blue Book to see if $10,500 was a good price for this car. The suggested retail value in excellent condition is $10,648 which is fair, but I would try to negotiate around $8,500-$9,000 if I were to buy it.
Overall the 840ci is a car that stands out in the crowd. If any BMW dealer had this in their showroom it would most likely get more attention than the new ones around it. This car isn’t a classic yet, but in the next 10 or 20 years it can likely become one. I do think that the 850i, 850ci, and 850csi models will be more demanding however because of their V12 engines, and I would prefer to buy one of those over an 840 model. This car is perfect for weekends, dates, or just to cruise around town in. You could use it as a daily driver, but I wouldn’t. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t have the most fun test drive, but hopefully the next time I drive an E31 it will be a more exciting experience.

Photos taken by Paradise Automotive Group