Car wizzard e28

General conversations about BMW E28s and the people who own them.
cyclist
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Car wizzard e28

Post by cyclist »

Hunter has a Bimmer3
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by Hunter has a Bimmer3 »

I enjoyed that, pretty cool to see him approve of e28s. He is a firm but fair judge of a car.
e12euro
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by e12euro »

He also reviewed a 1978 320i that he liked. It's a shame BMW's reliable era was so long ago, that most aren't old enough to remember it. ;)

e21 1978 320i Car Wizard

To think Road & Track found the original 5 series was more reliable than the original Honda Civic, back in their 1970s surveys. Remember when German (West German) cars were reliable?! :laugh:
stuartinmn
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by stuartinmn »

That's a pretty minty, low mile car.
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by davintosh »

stuartinmn wrote: Mar 25, 2021 5:22 PM That's a pretty minty, low mile car.
I thought the same! I was surprised by the cloth seats though. I know that was a thing in the US, but can't say I've ever seen a US car with anything but leather.
Mike W.
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by Mike W. »

davintosh wrote: Mar 25, 2021 10:10 PM
stuartinmn wrote: Mar 25, 2021 5:22 PM That's a pretty minty, low mile car.
I thought the same! I was surprised by the cloth seats though. I know that was a thing in the US, but can't say I've ever seen a US car with anything but leather.
In an E21? I've owned 3, parted a couple, seen a bunch and never seen leather. :dunno: Vinyl or cloth. I've heard of leather, but never seen it. I suspect a rare option.
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by garageboy »

I've been looking at E28s for a very long time, and something doesn't add up about this car. I love me a low mileage E28, but something is wrong about this car. I suspect it sat for a very long time. That blue cloth interior looks like it has more than 200,000 miles on it, again making me wonder if it sat outside and baked in the South Carolina sun all these years...

I don't know how to drive an automatic, admittedly, but how does a shifter handle crack in a mere 31,000 miles?

I still maintain that all automatic E28s are not real BMWs. To enjoy one of these cars in 5-speed manual form is to transform it into a real BMW. I've driven too many of them to believe otherwise... <asbestos underwear on> ;)

My first E28 was blue cloth. Bulletproof and always cleaned up nicely with that foamy upholstery cleaner. After 200k, the seats had dried out, garage-kept or not, and the padding inside was also finished. My second E28 was pearl beige leatherette. This was even MORE bulletproof. Keep it clean with Castrol SuperClean and protect it with Vinylex, and it lasted forever. Why did I give my interior away? Leather is in my current E28, and while I love the lama, I cannot condition the leather often enough to keep it from aging and looking like shit... it's all relative, I suppose...
stuartinmn
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by stuartinmn »

garageboy wrote: Mar 26, 2021 1:00 AM I've been looking at E28s for a very long time, and something doesn't add up about this car. I love me a low mileage E28, but something is wrong about this car. I suspect it sat for a very long time. That blue cloth interior looks like it has more than 200,000 miles on it, again making me wonder if it sat outside and baked in the South Carolina sun all these years...
Judging by the crack-free dash and condition of the paint I think it was fairly well protected over the years, but of course looking at a car on screen or in person are two different things.
e12euro
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by e12euro »

garageboy wrote: Mar 26, 2021 1:00 AM I've been looking at E28s for a very long time, and something doesn't add up about this car. I love me a low mileage E28, but something is wrong about this car. I suspect it sat for a very long time. That blue cloth interior looks like it has more than 200,000 miles on it, again making me wonder if it sat outside and baked in the South Carolina sun all these years...

I don't know how to drive an automatic, admittedly, but how does a shifter handle crack in a mere 31,000 miles?

I still maintain that all automatic E28s are not real BMWs. To enjoy one of these cars in 5-speed manual form is to transform it into a real BMW. I've driven too many of them to believe otherwise... <asbestos underwear on> ;)

My first E28 was blue cloth. Bulletproof and always cleaned up nicely with that foamy upholstery cleaner. After 200k, the seats had dried out, garage-kept or not, and the padding inside was also finished. My second E28 was pearl beige leatherette. This was even MORE bulletproof. Keep it clean with Castrol SuperClean and protect it with Vinylex, and it lasted forever. Why did I give my interior away? Leather is in my current E28, and while I love the lama, I cannot condition the leather often enough to keep it from aging and looking like shit... it's all relative, I suppose...
In Europe the 525e (their 528e) was automatic only, but it had 11:1 comp, not 9:1 (528e). The 525e was lighter and with 98 octane gas, the magazines said it was a nice machine. The Euro e28 M535i switchable automatic with 10:1 comp and 98 octane gas was a lighter and more responsive beast than US spec cars, and you could order a plain Euro 535i, thus saving on the weight of that bodykit. :cool: The trouble with the US cars was greater weight, smog law / lower compression / lower octane gas, so you really needed that 5 speed.
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by Blue Shadow »

e12euro wrote: Mar 26, 2021 2:52 PM
In Europe the 525e (their 528e) was automatic only, but it had 11:1 comp, not 9:1 (528e). The 525e was lighter and with 98 octane gas, the magazines said it was a nice machine. The Euro e28 M535i switchable automatic with 10:1 comp and 98 octane gas was a lighter and more responsive beast than US spec cars, and you could order a plain Euro 535i, thus saving on the weight of that bodykit. :cool: The trouble with the US cars was greater weight, smog law / lower compression / lower octane gas, so you really needed that 5 speed.
Actually there were a few different models of the 525e both a lower compression motor, one source saying 9.0 and another sayin 8.5 both with cat. The non-kat has the 10.2 compression ratio. So these are from 1985 and later as that is when BMW started offering cat equipped cars in Europe for the lower cost of ownership, taxes I think. The 525i was a 9.6:1 ratio.
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by BMWCCA2 »

e12euro wrote: Mar 25, 2021 2:55 PM He also reviewed a 1978 320i that he liked. It's a shame BMW's reliable era was so long ago, that most aren't old enough to remember it. ;)

e21 1978 320i Car Wizard

To think Road & Track found the original 5 series was more reliable than the original Honda Civic, back in their 1970s surveys. Remember when German (West German) cars were reliable?! :laugh:
320i? Crush it!

Early E12 in the US reliable? Hah! Maybe by the time the 528i came out, but certainly not the 530i with thermal reactors, split intakes, you name it. I was there at the inception and not only had to sell them, I had to repair them for unhappy customers, too! And I flipped one of the first E21s in the US on it's roof in rather normal driving. I expected too much from it, as a 2002 driver. It may have saved my life with its structure, but it did try to kill me with its suspension.
e12euro
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by e12euro »

BMWCCA2 wrote: Mar 29, 2021 8:25 AM
e12euro wrote: Mar 25, 2021 2:55 PM He also reviewed a 1978 320i that he liked. It's a shame BMW's reliable era was so long ago, that most aren't old enough to remember it. ;)

e21 1978 320i Car Wizard

To think Road & Track found the original 5 series was more reliable than the original Honda Civic, back in their 1970s surveys. Remember when German (West German) cars were reliable?! :laugh:
320i? Crush it!

Early E12 in the US reliable? Hah! Maybe by the time the 528i came out, but certainly not the 530i with thermal reactors, split intakes, you name it. I was there at the inception and not only had to sell them, I had to repair them for unhappy customers, too! And I flipped one of the first E21s in the US on it's roof in rather normal driving. I expected too much from it, as a 2002 driver. It may have saved my life with its structure, but it did try to kill me with its suspension.
BMW CCA2, you sold some of them and fixed some of them, but you didn't sell or fix the nearly 30,000 530is sold in North America between 1975 and 1978. And you didn't sell as many as the 328 530is Road & Track surveyed nationwide. Note also that the 320i, 630CSi, 633CSi and 733i also used the same thermal reactor set up. For the record, by the mid '80s it was estimated by BMW North America that just over 8% of 530is had suffered cracked heads, which corresponded with Road & rack's earlier stat of 7%. That means around 90% of 530i owners between 1975 and 1985 did not suffer cracked heads. And that early epoxied intake seal was welded before 1976 was out.

I am constantly amazed at drivers that can flip cars on their roofs. I pushed my e21 very hard, admittedly on a dry road, as hard as any sane person would, and the back end didn't swing out. Car stayed neutral, and I might add I did this while the passenger almost freaked out. That was how fast I was going. This was 40 years ago, I wouldn't do that today, even solo.

Between 1970 and 1980 the Mercedes W113 Pagoda Roof SL and the BMW e12 530i were the 1st and 2nd most reliable cars Road & Track surveyed. They even gave fewer problems than any Japanese car, including the original Honda Civic!

Road & Track March 1979 BMW 530i (1975-78)

Problem areas 6 / Reliability areas 0 average for all cars 12/7

R&T Owner Survey BMW 530i

Road & Track August 1977 Mercedes 450SE/SEL/SL/SLC(1972-76)

Problem areas 9 / Reliability areas 0 average for all cars 12/7

R&T Owner Survey Mercedes 450 series
e12euro
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by e12euro »

Blue Shadow wrote: Mar 28, 2021 11:25 PM
e12euro wrote: Mar 26, 2021 2:52 PM
In Europe the 525e (their 528e) was automatic only, but it had 11:1 comp, not 9:1 (528e). The 525e was lighter and with 98 octane gas, the magazines said it was a nice machine. The Euro e28 M535i switchable automatic with 10:1 comp and 98 octane gas was a lighter and more responsive beast than US spec cars, and you could order a plain Euro 535i, thus saving on the weight of that bodykit. :cool: The trouble with the US cars was greater weight, smog law / lower compression / lower octane gas, so you really needed that 5 speed.
Actually there were a few different models of the 525e both a lower compression motor, one source saying 9.0 and another sayin 8.5 both with cat. The non-kat has the 10.2 compression ratio. So these are from 1985 and later as that is when BMW started offering cat equipped cars in Europe for the lower cost of ownership, taxes I think. The 525i was a 9.6:1 ratio.
That's true, the 11:1 525e I was talking about was the earliest version. Would have been nice to try a plain Euro e28 535i of 1985-87 vintage. I have never seen one, only the more talked about e28 M535i.
RonW
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by RonW »

e12euro wrote: Mar 30, 2021 12:40 PMBetween 1970 and 1980 the Mercedes W113 Pagoda Roof SL and the BMW e12 530i were the 1st and 2nd most reliable cars Road & Track surveyed. They even gave fewer problems than any Japanese car, including the original Honda Civic!
Back in the '70s my parents had a Honda Civic. It was a nice car to drive, and reasonably reliable, but it rusted out almost as quickly as a Vega.
e12euro
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by e12euro »

RonW wrote: Mar 30, 2021 1:26 PM
e12euro wrote: Mar 30, 2021 12:40 PMBetween 1970 and 1980 the Mercedes W113 Pagoda Roof SL and the BMW e12 530i were the 1st and 2nd most reliable cars Road & Track surveyed. They even gave fewer problems than any Japanese car, including the original Honda Civic!
Back in the '70s my parents had a Honda Civic. It was a nice car to drive, and reasonably reliable, but it rusted out almost as quickly as a Vega.
I really liked the original Civic, thought it looked cute and that CVCC motor was amazing tech for the time. They did use a lot of emissions related vacuum hoses on those engines though. It seems they were on a knife edge for passing smog without a catalytic converter. If you come across one of those early CVCC Civics or Accords it tends to have a catalytic converter added, even though with CVCC you would think it didn't need to.

In around 1980 I think Honda had a big nationwide recall on their 1975-78 Civics and Accords to replace rusted out fenders, at no charge. In Japan they don't even put underseal, only for export. I heard the policy persisted even for late model cars, they don't use salt on their roads. This sounds like planned obsolescence on the part of Japanese automakers, but it has long been the case that Japanese cars had very reliable mechanicals, but rust prone bodies. Not such a problem in California where imports were the most popular.

Yeah, the Chevy Vega was GM quality at its worst. Practically see through panels, so thin! :shock:
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by cek »

Can't believe he let that timing belt go by...
Mike W.
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by Mike W. »

e12euro wrote: Mar 30, 2021 12:40 PM
BMWCCA2 wrote: Mar 29, 2021 8:25 AM
e12euro wrote: Mar 25, 2021 2:55 PM He also reviewed a 1978 320i that he liked. It's a shame BMW's reliable era was so long ago, that most aren't old enough to remember it. ;)

e21 1978 320i Car Wizard

To think Road & Track found the original 5 series was more reliable than the original Honda Civic, back in their 1970s surveys. Remember when German (West German) cars were reliable?! :laugh:
320i? Crush it!

Early E12 in the US reliable? Hah! Maybe by the time the 528i came out, but certainly not the 530i with thermal reactors, split intakes, you name it. I was there at the inception and not only had to sell them, I had to repair them for unhappy customers, too! And I flipped one of the first E21s in the US on it's roof in rather normal driving. I expected too much from it, as a 2002 driver. It may have saved my life with its structure, but it did try to kill me with its suspension.
BMW CCA2, you sold some of them and fixed some of them, but you didn't sell or fix the nearly 30,000 530is sold in North America between 1975 and 1978. And you didn't sell as many as the 328 530is Road & Track surveyed nationwide. Note also that the 320i, 630CSi, 633CSi and 733i also used the same thermal reactor set up. For the record, by the mid '80s it was estimated by BMW North America that just over 8% of 530is had suffered cracked heads, which corresponded with Road & rack's earlier stat of 7%. That means around 90% of 530i owners between 1975 and 1985 did not suffer cracked heads. And that early epoxied intake seal was welded before 1976 was out.

I am constantly amazed at drivers that can flip cars on their roofs. I pushed my e21 very hard, admittedly on a dry road, as hard as any sane person would, and the back end didn't swing out. Car stayed neutral, and I might add I did this while the passenger almost freaked out. That was how fast I was going. This was 40 years ago, I wouldn't do that today, even solo.

Between 1970 and 1980 the Mercedes W113 Pagoda Roof SL and the BMW e12 530i were the 1st and 2nd most reliable cars Road & Track surveyed. They even gave fewer problems than any Japanese car, including the original Honda Civic!

Road & Track March 1979 BMW 530i (1975-78)

Problem areas 6 / Reliability areas 0 average for all cars 12/7

R&T Owner Survey BMW 530i

Road & Track August 1977 Mercedes 450SE/SEL/SL/SLC(1972-76)

Problem areas 9 / Reliability areas 0 average for all cars 12/7

R&T Owner Survey Mercedes 450 series
Those R and T surveys are deceptive. I forget the numbers, but they only surveyed original owners and even then it was when they were virtually new, so they'd rarely have over 50K on them. US 530i's cracked heads like popcorn. Not immediately, but the heat cycling from the thermo reactors, (or nuclear reactors as my wife called them after feeling the heat with the hood open one time) cracked the early castings in short order. With luck you might get 100K, but many did not. Now 100K in the 70s wasn't all that bad as cars had a much shorter lifespan then. But the reactors, early castings with thin walls between the water jacket and the combustion chamber and even the metallurgy gave them a modest life. The earlier Bavaria/E3s did much better but while they cracked heads also, it wasn't as quick or assured.

I had several US spec E21s and they were by far the worst handling BMW I've owned. I was never comfortable cornering at any speed to speak of. I've heard they were far different than euro spec cars, apparently the combination of soft springs (for the US market) the rear sway bar with those soft springs and the suspension geometry made them very susceptible to rolling, which is why they took the rear sway bar off after 77 I think it was, the first year.
BMWCCA2
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by BMWCCA2 »

e12euro wrote: Mar 30, 2021 12:40 PMI am constantly amazed at drivers that can flip cars on their roofs. I pushed my e21 very hard, admittedly on a dry road, as hard as any sane person would, and the back end didn't swing out. Car stayed neutral, and I might add I did this while the passenger almost freaked out. That was how fast I was going. This was 40 years ago, I wouldn't do that today, even solo.
I started selling BMW for a living in 1976. I sold the last new 2002 in the USA at the time (an automatic the buyer preferred over the then-new E12 stick, though stick was his first choice). I ran our service department for a while during the 530i fiasco and up to the improved 528i. In fact it was my conversation with Peter Bohr for his "Affordable Classics" series for R&T that convinced him to dump his E12 story in favor of the story about how the 528i took the E12 from disaster to desirable.

The E21 handling issue is no well known, but due in no small part to my accident in November of 1976. I had just returned from the BMW E21 launch at Road Atlanta where a BMW employee had rolled a 2002tii that was supposed to be used to highlight the "improved" successor to the 2002 in a lap around the circuit. Bob Bondurant did some stunt driving in an E24 to fill in instead.

My experience upon my return occurred on the road I drove to work every day in my 2002tii. Hitting a bit of gravel on the edge of the pavement in a left turn where trucks usually ran wide caused the back end of the E21 to come out and on correction the car lifted a rear wheel and pirouetted ending up running to the other side of the road backwards before hitting a rock outcropping and rolling down to the pavement ending upside down with the sunroof open.

The behavior of the E21 amazed me so much I investigated on my own. Seems BMW had decided the US market could not handle the stiffness of the E21 so they spec'd springs something like 10% softer but kept the rear anti-sway bar. The result was that in braking and turning the front would droop and the back would lift a wheel. We had six single car incidents in the 1977 model in the first year of sales. The most common explanation was something like "a brown-and-white dog jumped out in front of me and I swerved to avoid it and ended up going off the road into a creek backwards".

My investigation lead to our dealership removing the rear bar from every '77 that came in for service, with the owners' permission, painting the bars in day-glow orange and hanging then in our service department. We never had a similar incident on cars with the bar removed. The next year BMW used the stiffer springs on the US cars and also removed the rear bars. This is not the first time BMW had had to react to first-year-model teething issues. As I recall, the rear bar didn't come back until the 320iS model (upper-case S to be correct) in the USA.

So, demean me all you want to, E12euro, but you weren't doing my job back then nor were you in my shoes. BMW's solution to the dreadful E21 handling certainly supported my experience, and few would take the handling of the "successor to the car that started a cult" over the cult original. And that is certainly reflected in today's pricing on 2002/tii versus any E21.
gadget73
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by gadget73 »

Stiff bars and mush springs can make for odd handling when pushed hard. I've had the back end on my Towncar step out from that. It has police car bars, but the mushy old lady springs on it. I've learned to not brake hard going into turns with it.
e12euro
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by e12euro »

BMWCCA2 wrote: Mar 31, 2021 8:26 AM
e12euro wrote: Mar 30, 2021 12:40 PMI am constantly amazed at drivers that can flip cars on their roofs. I pushed my e21 very hard, admittedly on a dry road, as hard as any sane person would, and the back end didn't swing out. Car stayed neutral, and I might add I did this while the passenger almost freaked out. That was how fast I was going. This was 40 years ago, I wouldn't do that today, even solo.
I started selling BMW for a living in 1976. I sold the last new 2002 in the USA at the time (an automatic the buyer preferred over the then-new E12 stick, though stick was his first choice). I ran our service department for a while during the 530i fiasco and up to the improved 528i. In fact it was my conversation with Peter Bohr for his "Affordable Classics" series for R&T that convinced him to dump his E12 story in favor of the story about how the 528i took the E12 from disaster to desirable.

The E21 handling issue is no well known, but due in no small part to my accident in November of 1976. I had just returned from the BMW E21 launch at Road Atlanta where a BMW employee had rolled a 2002tii that was supposed to be used to highlight the "improved" successor to the 2002 in a lap around the circuit. Bob Bondurant did some stunt driving in an E24 to fill in instead.

My experience upon my return occurred on the road I drove to work every day in my 2002tii. Hitting a bit of gravel on the edge of the pavement in a left turn where trucks usually ran wide caused the back end of the E21 to come out and on correction the car lifted a rear wheel and pirouetted ending up running to the other side of the road backwards before hitting a rock outcropping and rolling down to the pavement ending upside down with the sunroof open.

The behavior of the E21 amazed me so much I investigated on my own. Seems BMW had decided the US market could not handle the stiffness of the E21 so they spec'd springs something like 10% softer but kept the rear anti-sway bar. The result was that in braking and turning the front would droop and the back would lift a wheel. We had six single car incidents in the 1977 model in the first year of sales. The most common explanation was something like "a brown-and-white dog jumped out in front of me and I swerved to avoid it and ended up going off the road into a creek backwards".

My investigation lead to our dealership removing the rear bar from every '77 that came in for service, with the owners' permission, painting the bars in day-glow orange and hanging then in our service department. We never had a similar incident on cars with the bar removed. The next year BMW used the stiffer springs on the US cars and also removed the rear bars. This is not the first time BMW had had to react to first-year-model teething issues. As I recall, the rear bar didn't come back until the 320iS model (upper-case S to be correct) in the USA.

So, demean me all you want to, E12euro, but you weren't doing my job back then nor were you in my shoes. BMW's solution to the dreadful E21 handling certainly supported my experience, and few would take the handling of the "successor to the car that started a cult" over the cult original. And that is certainly reflected in today's pricing on 2002/tii versus any E21.
That is your experience, and you are entitled to it. You make it sound like the 530i was the only car with thermal reactors, the "fiasco" saw BMW continue with the thermal reactors on the 3,6 and 7 series through 1979 model year, using the 528i as a test model in 1979 for the new 3 way cat approach. However, during those years people kept buying BMWs all the same, and Mazda, Porsche and Mercedes used thermal reactors too. Not that they were a great idea, but the 530i wasn't the only one. Oftentimes the solution has been to fit a new head, put on a set of headers and that's it, if you want to. You failed to mention the 2002 used thermal reactors in 1975-76, its final two years in America.
Personally I have never rolled a 2002 or 320i, or known anyone that has, although in the North American market there are usually some people capable of doing extreme things. That's how the Corvair got a bad name. Yes, BMW did revise the 320i's suspension, and when it started it was very soft, but I wouldn't say the car was dangerous, I would leave that kind of thing to someone like Ralph Nader. BMW's engineers aren't quite so dumb as you make out, and somehow in Germany the e21 got by. In the end it was the first BMW to top 1 million sales.
People malign them, but for many I think they are better off with a car like a Z28 or a Trans Am. They have a lot of grip, are very neutral and foolproof handling wise. The majority should stick with those coupes. Speaking of personal experience I have got the tail out, and held it there in an early 3.5L e12, through a corner on a public road. I could feel the rear end lose traction, and when I backed off it went back to normal, no drama, no sudden breakaway. Allen Hardy was suprised I haven't firmed up the suspension.
You can see the early e21 in action here.

BMW's early publicity e21 film
Last edited by e12euro on Mar 31, 2021 4:21 PM, edited 1 time in total.
e12euro
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by e12euro »

Mike W. wrote: Mar 31, 2021 2:19 AM
e12euro wrote: Mar 30, 2021 12:40 PM
BMWCCA2 wrote: Mar 29, 2021 8:25 AM
e12euro wrote: Mar 25, 2021 2:55 PM He also reviewed a 1978 320i that he liked. It's a shame BMW's reliable era was so long ago, that most aren't old enough to remember it. ;)

e21 1978 320i Car Wizard

To think Road & Track found the original 5 series was more reliable than the original Honda Civic, back in their 1970s surveys. Remember when German (West German) cars were reliable?! :laugh:
320i? Crush it!

Early E12 in the US reliable? Hah! Maybe by the time the 528i came out, but certainly not the 530i with thermal reactors, split intakes, you name it. I was there at the inception and not only had to sell them, I had to repair them for unhappy customers, too! And I flipped one of the first E21s in the US on it's roof in rather normal driving. I expected too much from it, as a 2002 driver. It may have saved my life with its structure, but it did try to kill me with its suspension.
BMW CCA2, you sold some of them and fixed some of them, but you didn't sell or fix the nearly 30,000 530is sold in North America between 1975 and 1978. And you didn't sell as many as the 328 530is Road & Track surveyed nationwide. Note also that the 320i, 630CSi, 633CSi and 733i also used the same thermal reactor set up. For the record, by the mid '80s it was estimated by BMW North America that just over 8% of 530is had suffered cracked heads, which corresponded with Road & rack's earlier stat of 7%. That means around 90% of 530i owners between 1975 and 1985 did not suffer cracked heads. And that early epoxied intake seal was welded before 1976 was out.

I am constantly amazed at drivers that can flip cars on their roofs. I pushed my e21 very hard, admittedly on a dry road, as hard as any sane person would, and the back end didn't swing out. Car stayed neutral, and I might add I did this while the passenger almost freaked out. That was how fast I was going. This was 40 years ago, I wouldn't do that today, even solo.

Between 1970 and 1980 the Mercedes W113 Pagoda Roof SL and the BMW e12 530i were the 1st and 2nd most reliable cars Road & Track surveyed. They even gave fewer problems than any Japanese car, including the original Honda Civic!

Road & Track March 1979 BMW 530i (1975-78)

Problem areas 6 / Reliability areas 0 average for all cars 12/7

R&T Owner Survey BMW 530i

Road & Track August 1977 Mercedes 450SE/SEL/SL/SLC(1972-76)

Problem areas 9 / Reliability areas 0 average for all cars 12/7

R&T Owner Survey Mercedes 450 series
Those R and T surveys are deceptive. I forget the numbers, but they only surveyed original owners and even then it was when they were virtually new, so they'd rarely have over 50K on them. US 530i's cracked heads like popcorn. Not immediately, but the heat cycling from the thermo reactors, (or nuclear reactors as my wife called them after feeling the heat with the hood open one time) cracked the early castings in short order. With luck you might get 100K, but many did not. Now 100K in the 70s wasn't all that bad as cars had a much shorter lifespan then. But the reactors, early castings with thin walls between the water jacket and the combustion chamber and even the metallurgy gave them a modest life. The earlier Bavaria/E3s did much better but while they cracked heads also, it wasn't as quick or assured.

I had several US spec E21s and they were by far the worst handling BMW I've owned. I was never comfortable cornering at any speed to speak of. I've heard they were far different than euro spec cars, apparently the combination of soft springs (for the US market) the rear sway bar with those soft springs and the suspension geometry made them very susceptible to rolling, which is why they took the rear sway bar off after 77 I think it was, the first year.
They conducted the surveys in the same way for all makes and models. By its nature that meant cars up to 4 years old, and even in that short time many problems did show up. The Jaguars were the worst by a big margin, and once again newish cars. There were some cars in the survey that were up over 50,000 miles, as many as 75,000 miles, but most were at 30k. Even today you don't have to wait that long for things to go wrong, and increasingly rarely does anyone keep a car beyond 3-5 years. One recent case, turbo failure on an Alfa Giulia at around 10,000 miles. Actually it rattled badly, and was replaced under warranty, but would probably have failed.

R&T did two surveys of the 02 family. The later survey took cars up to 10 years old and predictably the number of faults increased, age and wear and tear related, but also the extra smog controls of the younger cars. Then again, it did much better than a Fiat X1/9 or Triumph TR7.

The Euro e21s had dual swaybars in the early years too. They were very soft cars over there too, but on all sorts of cars, even mid engined sportscars, they wanted good ride comfort. That's why US testers were perplexed by the Lotus Esprit, tricky handling due to the softness, but amazing ride comfort. By 1980 BMW had firmed things up. Oddly enough they went softest on the 5 series in 1978-79, so the earliest M30 powered 5 series weren't the softest. Europe had the e21 at an earlier stage than North America, and alongside the 1502.
wkohler
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by wkohler »

I hovered over the link on YouTube. Couldn't bring myself to click it.
e12euro
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by e12euro »

Ulrich Thieme's e12 site shows that in 1978-79 in Australia the magazine Modern Motor attacked the 528i for it's soft suspension and oversteer:

Magazine Cover 1978

This was even though this sedan was the same spec as any other Euro, and no other country testing the 528i said it was dangerous. Strangely enough the magazine had no problem with the 3, 6 or 7 series. Another magazine tested the same car and found the tire pressures were well out of spec. Once they adjusted the pressures the car did fine on the track.

Basically most drivers don't like body roll or oversteer, so over the years they have been taken out of all cars. That's why now you have stability control, to let the computer do the driving. People just can't cope. I even heard of a soccer player that flipped his e46 M3 on its roof, ditto another sportsman in an Audi R8 on a UK roundabout, with his young son in the car.

Top Gear magazine's correspondent nearly wrecked the BMW museum's red e28 524td, he lost the tail on the car. How anyone can loose control in such a car is beyond me, this is why they removed oversteer. When Sabine Schmitz was on 5th Gear she tried a modern 6 series and was suprised it refused to oversteer. So they are all following understeer, or the computer.

The best driver education in car control you can get is to start out with a VW Beetle and then a Porsche. You will learn about oversteer and how to deal with crosswinds, and be able to drive any car safely.
BMWCCA2
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by BMWCCA2 »

I obviously struck a nerve!

I did not mention the 6 or 7 series because there were so few relative to the 5er and we were discussing the 530i. Everyone here is intelligent enough to know that same engine in the same year had the same emission controls regardless of platform.

As for 3-series, unless you were in California, you never encountered an E21 with thermal reactors. Likewise the 2002 which had them nationwide only in '75 and only in California for 1976. The fact that BMW used them on other models or that others used them at all doesn't make it a good idea. No one wanted a '75 2002 if there was any other alternative year available. Many shops made a good living getting rid of the convertors, that's how popular they were. I don't know why you defend the Thermal Reactor like it was a good idea, or even successful at what it was designed for. If you want to buy an argument, look elsewhere, or dig out your old Monty Python. https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2hwqn9.

And if there was nothing wrong with the E21 suspension, why the change one-year in?
Mike W.
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Re: Car wizzard e28

Post by Mike W. »

Subjectively US spec E12 528i's were a bit softer and handled worse than my Bavaria/E3. E28 US spec 535i was a touch firmer. They would all oversteer at the limit, but perhaps from my time in aircooled VWs I was fine with it. I was comfortable at the limit, at least as I perceived it, the aforementioned Sabine Schmitz I'm sure could have run rings around me, but regardless, I could drive hard and be comfortable. US spec E21s I could not. Seat of the pants, sphincter cornering, whatever you want to call it, I could not bring myself to push E21s. I was not at all comfortable driving it hard, I always felt like I was getting ready to roll it. My limited seat time in 2002s I did not have that feeling, them I could push. Comfortably.

As to the wisdom of thermo reactors? 40+ years later it's an easy call that they were madness, but at the time I'm sure there was justification in thinking it was brilliant. Unleaded gas was new and iffy, and at the time the ability to run on leaded gas was a big deal. Would it continue to be available? Things were changing, they really didn't know. They tested in Germany I'm sure, a cool country where 85F is a hot day. They didn't test for 100-150-200-250K miles as we came to expect in terms of longevity, I mean you can't, even if you're going around the clock. And at the end of the day, they did well at maintaining a good power output while passing smog. Something the domestic manufacturers said couldn't be done.

Now I'm not saying thermos were a good idea, they weren't, they were terrible. But trying to envision what they might have been thinking at the time I can see how maybe they thought they were a good idea.
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