Contrary to popular belief, BMWs are actually quite good in
the snow... PROVIDING you have good snow tires and decent winter
driving skills. You can also get into big trouble with them
because they typically come with performance tires (terrible
in snow), have lots of power, like to oversteer some, and are
rear wheel drive.
RWD gives you more options on controling the car if you know how to
use it, but it is less forgiving than FWD if you don't. Basically,
with RWD the car will start to skid at a slower speed than with FWD,
but while you are skidding the car is still controlable (IF you know
what you are doing). FWD will not skid till a somewhat faster speed,
but once you do, you are a passenger. There isn't a whole lot you
can do to control the car.
So if you know how to control RWD, it is safe, controlable and FUN
in conditions beyond where FWD has lost it. If you don't know how to
control skids, a RWD car "goes out of control" before a FWD car.
So, being a well balanced RWD car, some people think BMWs do really
well in the snow, while others park them when the first flakes fly.
This, of course, has caused many a fine flame war on the list, mostly
centering on the relative merits of RWD vs FWD. Here is a sampling of
some of the more interesting posts:
(by Walter G Barie: uunet!pitt.edu!wgbst4+ : edited)
Yes, you can get going easier with FWD but I find that braking and
going down hills in the snow is much more controllable in a RWD car. I
also find RWD much MUCH easier to control overall, it seems that once you
lose it in a FWD car in the snow or ice, the slide/spin seems much harder to
control. I believe the controlabilty that RWD provides is more important than
any slight ulitmate traction advantage that FWD has.
(by Steven Bernstein: bernstein_at_smc.com: edited)
Rear wheel drive will forever be different from front wheel drive, but
they're targeted to different audiences. The physics is different. Front
wheel drive is more forgiving, rear wheel drive is more fun. Front wheel
drive cars, *including* Saabs, IMHO, are more difficult to work on than
rear wheel drive cars because so much more stuff must be put in the engine
compartment. And fundamentally, I think a person has to be a better driver
to handle rear-wheel drive, particularly in dangerous situations.
Obviously, for most of us here, we understand that and are willing to make
(by Richard Welty: welty_at_balltown.cma.com: edited)
I decided to pretend that winter driving was a low-speed performance
event, and started to apply some basic performance driving principles:
lots of straight line braking approaching corners and 2) smooth even
throttle application throughout the corner, leading to an implementation
of 3) slow in, fast out
you know something? it works really, really well. what the snow means
is that you are suddenly in a performance driving domain, whether you
realized it or not, and whether you normally drive that way or not.
get used to it.
Anyway, the conclusion is that if a RWD car starts to slide in a turn,
it most often does this at the rear end. The rear end will end up in
the wrong lane and the car will be hit in the side. A FWD car will
most often start to slide in the front ending up in a head on collision
that will use the front deformation zone that gives better protection.
Another part in the conclusion is also that FWD cars are generally
more stable in the snow and cause fewer accidents (remember the
My own opinions on the subject is that it is all a case of vehicle
dynamics. Let's make an experiment. Take out a pencil, put it on
the table. Hold the tip of it gently between your thumb and
index finger and pull it in a straight line across the table. No
problem eh? The pencil moved in a straight line right? Now, use
your index finger to push the pencil at the tip in a straight line.
That wasn't a straight line, was it?
So, a FWD car will tend to pull itself in a straight line and a
RWD car will try to turn around. This also makes a RWD able to
steer faster than a FWD car, generally. You can test this ability
on your bimmer by applying throttle in a turn and note that it
will steer more. But don't ditch it!
By the way, when you "motor brake" (I don't know the proper english
word, but what i mean is when you remove your foot from the throttle)
in a FWD car it will cause a force to be applied at the front which
causes an instability that can create a slide (I once felt this
instability in my brothers old saab 99 on a gravel road, i accelerated
hard and then i dropped the pedal which caused the car to feel
instable. Applying a bit of throttle cured this).
But there are other factors that contribute to the behaviour of a car.
For example weight distribution. If you throw a hammer (don't do
this, you might hurt someone!) it will travel through the air
with the heavy end first. This is because at the heavy end
drag/weight is less. The same applies to a car, if you lift it
by helicopter and drop it the heavy end will travel first.
Most FWD cars are front heavy, this makes them more stable in
a straight line. This is another cause why a bimmer can outsteer
most FWD car.
Another factor that contributes to the behaviour is the forces
applied to the car by the wheels. On an icy road this is very
much dependent on the friction caused by the tyres!
A wide tyre will ride on the snow, a smaller (correct term?) will
dig through the snow. Wide high-speed rated performance tyres have
rubber that gets stiff when cold, it's like driving on bakelite
tyres! As Richard mentioned placing different tyres on the
axles creates imbalances (He said his saab was worst with studs
in front and bald summer tyres in the rear).
You should always have the best tyres on the rear axle!
Most people think that it should be the other
way around, but that is NOT correct. The cause for having them
on the rear is that this creates stability. In fact they act
much like the feathers at the end of an arrow or a dart. You
can test this by taking a small toy car (if you don't have one
buy one at the bmw dealer, then you can have an 850CSi... :)
and put tape on the wheels. Apply the tape with the non-sticky
surface out... Then let the car down a sloping surface (you can
set your table at an angle). Check the difference between having
tape on the front vs the rear wheels! By the way, guess why
the front breaks of a car are to lock before the rear ones...
- Do not apply power in a turn in winter, this
will causes forces that can create a slide.
- Do not break in a turn in winter either...
- Don't use wide high-speed rated low profile performance tyres.
- Have the best tyres on the rear axle.
(by Roy Richard: ROYRICHARD_at_delphi.com: edited)
Here are what I consider the primary variables in this fine
winter (hopefully non-contact) sport:
1.Driver and Driving Style- Practice-Practice-Practice- Richard
Welty is correct in emphasizing driving skill as the most
important factor in winter driving. Furthermore his observation
that "winter driving was a low-speed performance event, and
started to apply some basic performance driving principles" is
exactly right and one of the reasons I enjoy It so much. You can
get into a beautifully controlled 4 wheel drift at speeds below
30 mph! Most importantly snow driving takes finesse, no sudden
move, very little braking, smooth controlled acceleration. But
practice is the key. Whenever I get the chance, and especially
with a new car and at the beginning of the winter, I find a nice
ice and snow covered parking lot sans parked cars and practice
turns, braking, recovery maneuvers and try to find the rear end
adhesion limit. It is critical not to have to learn how to
control you car when the boob in front of you is pulling 360's
at 50 mph on I89.( Note this often tends to be 4 WDrivers who
haven't figured out that we all have 4 wheel brakes and that the
shit handling of a Bronco doesn't improve with snow). Just a
few tip that many of you already know; a. If you are stuck
spinning a wheel gently apply the emergency brake to get
traction to the spinning wheel (this doesn't work too well on
most FWD vehicles but some Saabs do have front wheel E-brakes)
b. Try to stay off the peak of the torque curve which usually
means shifting a little sooner and letting the engine lug a
little more than usual. Some times you may need to "spend" a
little clutch, keeping the engine RPM up while feathering the
clutch. This may seem brutal to some but I do it when required
and typically get over 100 Kmiles out of a clutch so its not
that bad. c. Braking is the maneuver of last resort. Use engine
braking whenever possible, don't pull radical down shifts and
practice those nice smooth heal and toe's. d. Don't get caught
too fast in the corner, gently straight brake before the turn.
If you do get caught too fast in the turn gentle acceleration in
probably your best bet. d. Skid recovery really is a matter of
reverse steering and developing a feel for your vehicle, you
have to practice this in a safe place.
2.Tires; are critical to good traction and handling. Use snow
tires all around to maintain good handling balance. Studs all
around are great for extrema conditions but I find the vibration
at 75 mph on dry pavement just too much. Studs in the rear
really help on ice but don't do much in snow. Narrow tires are
also better they don't tend to float as easily and don't snow
3. ABS: if you don't know why don't drive in the snow
4. Transmission; One work STANDARD. I know some people love
there automatics in the snow and they are easier to rock if your
stuck but overall you just don't have the control for down
shifting or control of power by slipping the clutch.
5.FWD v/s RWD: well here's the BIG ONE and (IMNSHO) the answer
is non of the above. There is no clear winner in FWD v/s RWD the
particular design car is far more important than FWD or RWD and
even if all else is equal they both have their positive and
negative points. Clearly the best of both worlds, AWD if
properly designed will win hands down. But even AWD won't
improve the handling of a DOG. The question of FWD and RWD in
snow is really one of three distinct areas: Traction, Handling
and Emergency Maneuvers. I general the FWD is better for
traction and getting out of the snow bank. They tend to have
more weight on the driving wheels and when you steer they pull
in that direction. Handling wet, dry or snow goes to the good
RWD. I think the reason that a lot of drivers don't like the
handling of the RWD in the snow is that you do have to drive
like your in a low speed performance event and utilize
controlled power slides. However; my 7 series is very well
mannered and predictable and FUN to drive on a slick surface.
The front wheel drive vehicles I've owned and driven tend to
give you better low speed steering control but once loose are a
real hand full with no means of controlled recovery. The really
key features missing in the FWD is the ability to engine brake,
well you can but!, and the ability to smoothly break the rear
end loose ( yes some people do this on purpose). Where I found FWD
particularly scary was on really slick down hill braking, you loose
all sense of having any form of control. For emergency situations ABS
is more important than FWD or RWD. Beyond that RWD will give you
better handling , if you take the time to learn how to drive,
and therefore a better overall chance of keeping control. FWD
tends to give the less skilled driver a false sense of security.
They do tend to feel more "normal" on a slick surface until
things start to come loose e.g. a emergency situation and then
they just fall apart.
3.2: Renting a BMW
3.2.1: Does any car rental outfit in the US have BMWs?
3.2.2: How do i rent a BMW in Europe?
From: "Adams, Dan" <adams_at_msgate.columbiasc.ATTGIS.COM>
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 95 10:26:00 edt
Subject: RE: Renting BMW's in Europe
>I called Hertz about doing this, and got a rough breakdown of available
>models and prices.
>316i stick - $275/week
>520i stick - $380/week
>525i auto - $500/week
>730i auto - $750/week
A couple of other comment to Mike's. I had a 316i for a weekend last March
in Germany. While no powerhouse (102 hp) it had no problem keeping me above
100 mph and gave ~30 mpg. Keep in mind that running a 540i at 145 mph will
burn around 10 gallons a hour which is over $40/hr in gas! Also, the 520i
is a popular car in Germany for good reason. I followed one for 2 hours
from Munich to Stuttgart in my Uncles 280E MB and we never fell below 125
mph (except speed zones). The 520i is a good autobahn cruiser. But, it is
possible to rent about anything made. I do recall seeing an add by a
non-major car rental agency that would rent Porsches, Ferraris and high end
MB and BMWs. The catch is that the price per day is astronomical (over
$1000/day for Porsche turbo). So maybe one should rent a VW Golf (318ti?)
for the the duration and rent a M5 for a one day spree ... um,
Nurenburg-ring or Hockenheim.
(by Steven J. Bernstein: bernstein_at_smc.com)
< send mail to Steven for further details >
3.3: Buying a used BMW
3.3.1: Through the late 80s
with help from Rick Kjeldsen
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 18:39:30 -0500
Several people have been asking for advice about buying various models of
used BMW's. Well, I have only recent experience with owning 1 type and no
prior ownership but I did just buy an '86 535i and I shopped around a bit
so I'll pass on what I have, FWIW.
A great dream book and a great source for sorting out all the years and
"Illustrated BMW Buyer's Guide" 2nd Ed., C1994, by Ken Gross, $16.95US
Motorbooks International, P.O.Box 1, Osceola, WI (USA) 54020
It covers US and European models all the way from 1952 to 1994.
First, figure out your budget. How much can you spend? How much cash do
you have available for this purpose. Don't forget that licensing and
sales tax will come out of your cash. Then, how much can you afford on a
monthly payment? You can get an "amortization schedule" booklet at any
bookstore for a few dollars. That will tell you how much your chosen
monthly payment will translate to in cash up front (at current interest
rates and chosen finance period). My rule is that if I can't pay for it
in 3 years or less then I can't afford it. Otherwise you'll be "upside
down" on the loan and owe more than the car is worth. NOT GOOD!
Buy it for cash if you can, shopping and bargaining will be easier for you.
Once you know how much you can spend, go to the local public library and
look at the "NADA used car price book". A new issue comes out every quarter.
Make photocopies of all of the pages and years that you need. Take it home
and get to know the models, years and prices. Study the subject. Pretty
quickly, the cars that are in your arena will come into focus. I use half
way between "Average Trade in" and "Average Retail" as a target price and
try to get the nicest car I can for that. Anyway, in the cold light of day,
before you go all ga-ga over some thrilling ride, figure out the the
absolute maximum that you will pay for any given car.
What is the maximum milage that you will consider? The average is 12k
miles/year. BTW, it seems to me that the average BMW driver does
substantially more than that, because it's less usual to find a low
Read the latest Consumer Reports Automotive issue for trouble spots on your
model (comes out in every February?? issue). Read this BMW digest. Know
what trouble to inspect for on your model.
Then start shopping the Saturday morning newspaper classified adds for your
target models and years. Convenience stores sell a classified adds magazine
called "Auto Shopper", that's where I found mine. Go drive several. Drive
some that you know you don't want, it will give you perspective.
DANGER!!! Drive newer/faster BMW's at your own risk! The undisciplined will
blow their budget bigtime!
Well, the rest will come naturally. Here is my own perspective:
318i/320i - Cheap to buy and operate but pretty well worn by now,
in most cases. Also, in a hot climate, with air conditioning,
performance suffers way too much. Small car. Decent sized trunk.
Feels more like a sporty handling economy car than a sports car.
325(e,es) (to mid '80s) - This is a much nicer appointed car. Many
improvements over 320i. Very economical to buy and operate. The
performance is brisk and FUN! Don't worry about the small 121bhp
number, subjectively, it is very torqey and willing to go (it is lighter
than the 5 series cars). The interior feels like a close fitting
cockpit (because it's pretty small) but not cramped for the driver.
Easy to drive. It is cramped for back seaters. Decent sized trunk.
Much better gas milage than a 535i. The 2 door is probably better for
a sports car because it may be a bit lighter and more rigid.
There are lots of cars available.
I really considered one of these, based on the fun/$.
325i, is - Very much like the 'e but with the 2.5 liter higher reving
version of the baby-six engine. Better acceleration, especially
at the high end. Somewhat less smooth and refined. Somewhat
less mpg. Somewhat more expensive.
528e - A great bargain for the budget constrained performance minded driver,
who still wants class and comfort. Very roomy for the passengers in
back, leather interior, great handling, big trunk, great gas milage.
I'ld call the performance spirited and willing but not powerful or quick.
I think a driver would be smiling a lot driving this car around.
Seems like a picky patient shopper could have a beautiful car for
$4000-$6000 (depending on age & milage) that they could reasonably
expect to drive for 75k-100k miles. That's 1/4 the cheapest econobox
you can buy new! There are lots of cars available.
524td - This is the same car as the 528e but with a turbo-diesel and much
cheaper. Really a bargain, if you don't mind the diesel, and quicker
than the 528e too, I've heard. Didn't drive one.
528i (late '70s-early '80s) - A bit dated but a great bargain for the budget
constrained performance minded driver, who still wants class and comfort.
Very roomy for the passengers in back, leather interior, great handling,
big trunk. Pretty fast car. Harder to find a nice one because of the
530i - Engine problems, I didn't bother to drive any, look to the 528i, 533i,
or 528e instead.
533i - This is where I first said WOW, WHAT A ROCKET!
But the 535i has an even better motor, some body/chassis improvements
(I heard that anyway) and is newer and less worn.
535i(s) ('85-'88)- Oo la la! Hot damn! YaaaHooo! I love this car!
This is what I bought, and after all that budget crap I gave you.
The performance is very exciting. This was the top of the line BMW
performance car (except for M cars, rare, and where repair costs
will be much higher, I think). Everything else is the same as the 528e,
except the cost is roughly $1k-$2k higher and the gas milage lower.
There is not an abundance of these but they aren't rare either.
The 535is is a bit more desireable for the better sport seats, lowered
suspension, and air dam/racy styling but is much less available.
As a point of reference, I wanted a clean '85 or 86' with less than
120k miles, and white in color. In the Austin/San Antonio area of
2.5 million people, it took 3 months of looking to find the one I
wanted and I paid $7500 for it (+ 6.25% tax, ouch). That's top dollar
but it's very clean inside and out, very low milage at 88k, never
wrecked. A creampuff, as they say. The typical '85 or '86 has 160k
miles on it.
Someone said recently, here in the digest, that these cars have
something of the character of a North Amercan Muscle Car and I agree,
specifically in the effort of steering, shifting and clutching.
A couple of years ago I had an '86 Mustang GT, 5.0L V8, 200bhp,
electronic port fuel injection and ignition, very similar in many
respects. Low/mid range torque was better, fuel economy about the
same. A very good engine, exciting and fun to drive. But I grew
tired of it. It had more of a heavy feel to it, steering shifting
and clutching were even more work, exhaust was noisier, the seats were
awful (offal?), visability out back was not good, back seats were very
cramped, not much of a trunk, the rear end would break loose in a
flash, and engine life is probably about half of the BMW.
I think the BMW is easier to work on. The suspension is firm and
supple rather than stiff, the engine rev's more freely, the back seats
are roomy and comfortable, 4 doors, visability is great, the trunk is
big, and engine life of 200k miles of hard driving is fantastic.
It's not much bigger than the Mustang, either. Another thing I really
like is the stealth/sports car aspect. It looks like a family car,
not a ticket magnet.
6 series - Very nice sport/luxo cars but performance suffers because of
weight, relative to 535i. Didn't drive any.
The best looking BMW's, IMO.
7 series - Very nice luxo/sport cars but performance suffers because of
weight. Bigger than I have a need for. Didn't drive any.
Well, there it is, for what it's worth. Be patient, stay the course.
Your car is out there, somewhere.
Reply to Rob Heuser...
The 320i from '77 - '79 have a 2.0 liter engine and run on leaded gas but
unleaded OK. No cat needed to meet emissions requirements. Minor cosmetic
changes to knobs and switches on the dash and the rear license holder
distinguish the 3 years. Rear "320i" chrome designator mounted on black
plastic panel in '77 & '78. '77 vented front rotors changed to solid
rotors in '78 - too easy to warp. All with mechanical ignition and K
Jetronic fuel injection and 4 speed tranny (some automatics out there if
you are so inclined.)
The '80 -'83 320i is really a 318i with 1.8 liter engine, electronic
ignition, and 5 speed. Only minor cosmetic changes thru the years. Bosch
L Jetronic fuel injection, catalytic converter, unleaded furel
requirement, and power steering are added to these models. The last
addresses the famous 320i wheel shimmy at 55 mph.
The later models require less maintenance but have less power. The 5
speed can be easily dropped into the earlier models giving a cruising 5th
gear for small mpg increase but more importantly, less tendancy to
overheat with A/C on in traffic on 90+ degree days. A/C is abysmal in all
My advice: Find a well kept car. Mileage on it not too much of a problem
if taken care of. All will need suspension bushings, straight wheels
(steel wheels do not bend as easily as alloy wheels), and new tires to be
enjoyable. I just replaced 185/70-13 Michelins with 205/60-13 Sumitomos
and the ride is very comfortable. The original sized tires are difficult
to find with more than an R rating and a good tread pattern. All weather
tires are available from many manufacturers. Sumitomo are the only
performance tire in the 205/60-13 size that I could find.
N.B. The wheel offset for these models is very unique (and important to
maintain to preserve handling) and aftermarket wheels in the +1 and +2
configuration haven't been available for years, no matter what anybody
Final advice.... Have your mechanic inspect the car carefully for you
before you buy. $45-50 is not too much to pay for a thorough report on a
car. If the owner won't let you have the car for a day in order to be
inspected, YOU DON'T WANT IT! Be sure to ask for all the service records
and have your mechanic check carefully for collision damage. I have seen
too many cars of this vintage composed of separate front and rear clips
that have been welded together and sold without the new owner knowing what
he/she has bought.
Bill Olson, BEY EM VEY Chapter, Tidewater, VA, BMW CCA # 41871
'73 2002, '79 320i, '84 318i, and '93 325is.
3.4: Driving Schools
One of the best benifits of the CCA. With an instructor at your side,
you get to drive your car on a race track pushing limits you never
would dare on the street. In the process you learn a tremendous
amount about driving and your car in a safe and controled environment
and have a Blast at the same time!
For more info see the back of the Roundel (mag of the BMW CCA).
3.5: Mail-order and other parts stores
This list is highly subjective. It is not an endorsement of any type of any
dealer. The attempt is to list dealers who are a) established(??) b) deal
in special parts/models c) have special/unique incentives and d) offer CCA
discount. Please send me names of dealers whom you feel should be listed
here for the reasons mentioned above.
NAME+PLACE+NUMBER | CCA DISCOUNT | SPECIAL
Vines BMW Parts 20% discount to CCA members
2460 Morgan Road S.E. new and used parts
Bessemer, AL 35020 Mention you saw it on the Internet!
1-800-214-4839 They also advertise in the Rondel.
Chris BMW 15% discount to CCA members
1606 Church Street
Decatur, GA 30033
Peter Pan BMW: San Mateo | Y (25%) | 15% off on remanufactured parts
World Upholstery: Camarillo | ? | interior parts
North Hollywood Speedometer | ? | Speedometer cables, etc.
710 Turquoise Street
La Jolla , CA 92109
(800) 466-8184 (Order Desk)
The proprietor, Carl Nelson, is a BMW mechanic, with factory training, and
over 20 years experience working on Bimmers. They specialize in 2002 and
Coupe Restoration Parts and are having some NLA parts remanufactured. But
they can get any OEM part, generally at quite a savings from the Dealer
price, even with the discount for club members. They do offer an ACA/CCA
discount, as well as lots of information.
Tire Rack: South Bend | ? | Tires, Wheels
Europroducts: Clearwater | ? |
Foreign Motors: Natick | 20% |
Greenfield Imported Car Parts | ? |
Maximillian: Baltimore | ? | emphasis on CS and 2002 parts
Imparts:St. Louis | N | Free shipping > $40
800-325-9043 | catalog
Metric Mechanic: Kansas City | ?
Bavarian Auto Service:Newmarket | Y | catalog
800-535-2002 | Discount not on all items
Bimmer Parts: Pottstown | ? | 2002/Bavaria/320i parts
AutoGalerie: Sewickly | ? | Videos on BMWs and race cars
412-741-9472 | catalog
Rodd Sidney "RODDHOT_at_Aol.Com"
publish newsletter 3-4 X _at_ Yr called the "HOT DEALS & TECH-TIP" Newsletter.
If you'd like a sample copy FREE please E-Mail a Mailing address.
Rodd Sidney is Proud to announce his new Web Page for BMW Dealer Marketing
You may access the page at
From: ggap_at_netcom.com (Dan Graves)
Date: Mon, 13 May 1996 13:55:45 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: BMW mail order parts...
I've had access to BMW, Mercedes and Porsche OEM parts for years now and with
some coaxing from friends have decided to make them available to the list
members. Their mostly high volume parts and all OEM, with a few
aftermarket options (Ansa, etc). I base my prices on my cost and most of
the time I get good prices from my suppliers, which means I can pass the
savings onto to you guys. If you're in the US and would like a quote on
BMW parts send me an e-mail. My suppliers are open Monday through Friday.
From: "Jones, William" <jones.william2_at_mayo.edu>
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 1996 19:58:37 -0600
Subject: BMW shoppe in Virginia
Just wanted to let people know about a relatively new BMW shop in
Charlottesville Virginia ( about 60 miles east of Richmond, 100 miles south of
D.C.) near intersection of I-64 and US 29. The owner is Phil Marx and he is
former president of the CCA. Not an official dealership, but this guy finds
good cars. This is a great shop and a great help with questions about BMW's.
I live in Minnesota now but routinely call him about BMW questions. The
straight forward practical advice is worth much more than the long distance
Anyway, this guy loves BMW cars. He has a knack for matching up good cars
with good people. If you are in the market for selling or buying a car give
this guy a call. (804) 293-8369. Hope this helps match someone up to their
perfect car. Bill Jones
3.6: Visiting BMW
3.6.1: BMW AG
From: Larry Swanson 24-Oct-1995 0800 <swanson_at_level4.enet.dec.com>
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 95 07:03:40 MET
Here's the phone number to call for reservations for BMW factory tours:
49 89 382 233 06
| | |__________ Number
| |_____________ Munich area code
|________________ Germany country code
The museum number is 49 89 382 233 07. It is open 7 days a week,