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From digest.v7.n469 Sun Oct 19 20:34:17 1997
From: "Mike and Julie" <>
Date: Sun, 19 Oct 1997 20:02:50 -0400
Subject: <all>BMWs in the Snow (5 series or otherwise)

Mitch Brown sez:

> If people tell you BMWs are lousy in the snow, they're WRONG.

I have to agree 110%. My '96 328i (one of the few delivered with LSD instead of ASC+T) is pure delight in the snow. Well, you do have to learn to feather the throttle a bit, as it does have ample torque...more so than my previous '94 (E36, yes that's not a misprint) 320i. But the car has such balanced weight distribution that in the snow, you can drive at almost normal highway speeds. And you can have fun in the process. Well, almost normal. I guess 110 km/hr in the snow is pretty fast for most people; for me it is a significant reduction in speed!

I live in the sticks and have a long (300ft) driveway to get to my house buried deep in the woods (maple farm territory). It also has an uphill left-hand curve to get to the house. I have owned numerous Hondas, a Ford Taurus, a Merkur XR4Ti (also RWD with good weight balance), a Nissan Quest (still used by the Chairwoman of the Board), the 320i, and now the 328i (let's forget the Audi Quattro, never saw a snowflake before I ditched it).

Coming home from work after a big blizzard, before I could run the Deere John up and down while I freeze my pattootie off blowing away the snow (miraculously, the wind always manages to shift every time I change directions so that the snow blows directly in my face no matter which way I face or which way I direct the chute), the Hondas would lose traction going up the hill in the curve. When that happens, the front end would slide away from the desired track, sliding left to right and back, and I'd have to back down again and take another run at it. Usually I had to give up, park the car by the road, and fire up the Deere John (and often, curse and swear that it needed a boost to start, and the means of boosting it was 300 ft away in a snow drift; I tuned her up thoroughly today to avoid repetition of that fiasco, maybe it should have a optional crank like my Mom's old 62 Renault Dauphine). Now, I used Pirelli Winter 190s on the Hondas. The lone Civic I had with 4 seasons was better than the Accord with Winter 190s, BTW. All had manual boxes except the Taurus and the Quest.

Now, the 320i was a cinch to get up the hill. No LSD. No ASC+T, and a set of worn out cheapo Hankook winter tires since the Pirellis gave out the second to last winter of the Accord. In the curve, if the rear broke loose, just modulate the throttle and clutch, and you'd grind your way up. The 328i, wearing Blizzaks on steel wheels and 318i hubcaps (a real stealth machine on the highway except for the party pooper Q rating on the tires) is a bit trickier: more torque to modulate, but it usually makes it up OK. Only once did I get stuck, and the snow was up at over bumper height (the Merkur was similar).

Yup, Bimmers are fun in the snow. Well-balanced and delightfully controllable. When some turkey insists on tailgating on icy roads, just jab the throttle and induce the most controllable fishtail in the world. Scares the beejeezus out of the (insert your eptithet for that intimate bodily orifice used for evacuation here) tailgating you and usually smartens him up. In fact, you can breeze by all the sports utes in the ditch even on ice, the car is so controllable. Again, low CofG and 50/50 weight distribution at work here. Plus the most communicative chassis and steering in the Sedan World.

Now, the Quest is another story. At 4000 lbs, it never gets stuck anywhere. EVER. But it takes from now until the next millenium to go 0-60. And that's KILOMETERS per hour. I've never dared to test its top speed, but my guess is that Q-rated snow tires wouldn't be a problem at all! BTW, the Quest has a Nissan engine and tranny (old ones out of the previous generation Maxima), and a Ford body and chassis. Guess which part of the thing is falling apart after 4 years (hint: several body and chassis components and hardware have fallen off, worn out, rusted out or jammed up)???

Well, it's almost here folks. In Southern Quebec we've already had several hard frosts. The Deere John is now a snow blower as of today. New points, new condensor, new plugs, carb adjusted, oil changed to 5W30, new tranny fluid, new filters, blower installed, grease points greased, and driveway stakes up so I don't chew up the grass. But the Blizzaks on the Bimmer will wait until the last possible moment. No way I'm parting with the ZR rated Pilots sooner than I have to.

Mike Gammon
'96 328i Pilots coming off and Ellipsoids coming on next month. '93 Quest XE Trade In coming soon I hope; new Toyota Sienna looks tasty, at least the body should last as long as the engine, and with 194 hp, it should be adequate.

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