Posts Tagged ‘automatic’

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 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


Test Drive: 1993 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL (W140)

On January 13, 2012, I test drove a 1993 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL at Master Car Sales in Pomona, California. The car has a black and grey two tone exterior with a black leather interior. The asking price is $3,900 and the car has 217,000 miles. Under the hood of this 500SEL is a 5.0 liter V8 engine (codenamed M119) that produces 315 horsepower @ 5600 rpm and 347 lb-ft of torque @ 3900 rpm. The transmission is a four speed automatic, which is codenamed 4G-Tronic, and has standard rear wheel drive. The W140 chassis S-Classes are some of my all time favorite cars. I have always been a big fan of them. The W140s debuted in 1991 in the European market replacing the W126 S-Classes. The W140s came to the North American market for the 1992 model year. They came with many different engine options in all parts of the world, from small Inline 6 diesels to 6.0 liter V12s. From 1991 to 1993, the nameplates for the W140s started with the engine displacement numbers (e.g. 300SE, 400SE, 500SEL, and 600SEL), and from 1994 to 1999, the nameplates started with S for S-Class and then were followed by the engine displacement numbers (e.g. S320, S420, S500, and S600). The W140 is also known to be the car that Princess Diana was killed in, back in 1997. Although she was killed in a serious crash, W140s have been known to be safe and solid vehicles. They can just be expensive to keep maintained. In 1999, the W140 was retired by Mercedes and was replaced by the W220 S-Class. I am hoping to eventually come across a W140 S600 or 600SEL to test drive. Both have 6.0 liter 12 cylinder engines. They are harder to find and more expensive to buy. Now, let’s get back to the test drive.
I called the dealer before I went to go look at the car to make sure it was still on the lot. It wasn’t in a nice part of town, but I didn’t let that bother me. The car was parked by the fence, and the salesperson was sitting down near a barbeque eating lunch when I walked onto the lot. I never got what his name was. I told him that I called earlier asking if the car was on the lot. He went to go grab the key and while doing so I walked around the car for any damage. As you can see in the pictures, the wheels on the car are from a newer S-class. They were from a W221 chassis S550. In the car’s advertisement online, it said that it has new tires. It actually needs new tires, as these were about to go bald. On the driver’s side fender there were some cracks in the paint, as well as the left quarter panel and trunk lid. The back bumper had some scrapes from previous cargo going in and out of the trunk. The front bumper did have some scrapes from hitting other objects, and there was some sun bake on the passenger fender. The salesman told me that the hood was repainted. If it was, the person who did it didn’t do a professional job on it. The interior was in good shape for its age; however, the leather felt dry. When I opened all of the doors, they felt heavy and solid. I didn’t think anything bad of them. I assumed that they were to make the vehicle safer in side impact collisions. The salesman came back with the key, and then I started the car. With older Mercedes vehicles, they have the annoying seat belt buzzer that that lasts for about five seconds. That’s my least favorite thing about these cars. For the next two minutes, I tested the electrical components. Everything such as the windows, locks, mirrors, and radio worked excellent; even the electronic rear window shade. The air conditioning didn’t blow out cold air like it should have. It may need to be recharged or repaired. The radio and climate control buttons took some time to figure out as well. The glass for the side windows were dual pane. I like to call them bullet proof windows because of the thickness. The main purpose is to keep the interior noise quiet while on the road. I asked the salesman if I can test drive it. He got into the driver’s seat and moved the car out onto the street.
While he was moving it, I heard some banging noises coming from the back of the Mercedes. I assumed that he forgot to release the parking brake. The salesman told me that the rear shocks needed to be replaced. He got in the passenger seat; I got behind the wheel, and turned right onto Mission blvd. The car shook while accelerating and the shocks continued to make the banging noises. As I got to 40 miles per hour, the shaking and rattling stopped. As I slowed down to my first stoplight, the rattling and shaking came back. The salesman said that the reason why the car was shacking could be because of a disconnected injector wire harness from the engine compartment. The car didn’t seem as fast as I expected it to be. I have driven a BMW 740il that was much faster with a smaller V8. The salesman asked me if I wanted to drive it on the freeway. I said yes, so we drove towards the 60 West freeway. Before we got on the on ramp, the salesman told me to stop the car completely because he wasn’t quite comfortable with it. I had to stop with traffic behind me, which was very inconvenient. Shouldn’t he know if the car is freeway safe before the test drive? I put the hazards on, stopped the car for a few seconds and let the traffic behind me go around. The salesman said it was fine so I proceeded onto the freeway. I was still disappointed with the engine’s acceleration. It should have felt faster than the Mercedes E420 that I have previously driven about three weeks prior. I don’t even remember being able to hit 60 miles per hour while we were on the freeway. I only drove for about a mile in the slow lane before getting off the freeway. The salesman was telling me that the car needs work before selling it and that he will look into it. He assumed that when the engine compartment was washed it could have done something to the wiring harness. I don’t know how exactly the engine bay was washed, but if that’s the cause then something must have been done wrong. The salesman kept on telling me that the car needs to be fixed because he didn’t want to sell junk. If it needed more money in repairs, he would send it back to the auction. Still, I didn’t think he was the most trust-worthy salesperson I’ve encountered. After getting off the freeway, I drove back to the dealer.
At the dealer, the salesman asked me what the car’s advertised price was. I told him it was $3,900. He gave me a deal that if I wanted the car, I could buy it for a total of $3,800. That included all taxes and fees paid for. I thought it was a fair deal, but I think it would be better for a mechanic to buy it and fix it himself. The Kelley Blue Book’s Suggested Retail value in excellent condition is $5,738. For fair condition through private party, it’s worth $3,263. If I knew how to work on cars, I would have bought it and fixed it up myself. Overall, this Mercedes-Benz 500SEL needs work. It would be a great luxury car for a low price if you don’t mind the paint blemishes, slow performance, and noisy shocks. The W140s are some of the best Mercedes-Benz vehicles built, and that’s a fact! Just give it proper maintenance, and in the future, it could be a timeless classic.
Photos taken by Master Car Sales.