Home > Cars I have owned, Ramblings > Car Number Four (of six)

Car Number Four (of six)

June 28th, 2010

From what I can tell, my friends and family liked my BMW.  A lot.  I, too, have fond memories of it.  It is undoubtedly the most fun car that I’ve had.  It was the fastest, the most luxurious, the newest, and the most prestigious.  The problem was that all of those things came at a cost.

My 1999 BMW 540i

My 1999 BMW 540i

In truth, I began thinking about selling the BMW the spring after I acquired it.  Upkeep was horrendously expensive in terms of both money and time.  I found myself worrying about where to park it to prevent door dings.  I found myself spending hours washing, waxing, and detailing it every month.  I found myself paying thousands of dollars for both routine items (try $1000 for a set of tires) and the too-frequent mechanical issue (try another $1000 for fixing a radiator expansion tank).

The 540i shod in snow tires

The 540i shod in snow tires

Even with snow tires, it was never a good car for snow and ice.  And salt?  I lived in constant fear (never realized) of corrosion.

The 540i stuck despite snow tires and shoveling

The 540i stuck despite snow tires and shoveling

The trouble was that I’d get serious about selling it, then I’d go out for “one last drive,” and suddenly all of my concerns would fade away.  I’d forget about its issues and costs, and I’d just love driving.  The big German V8 would growl, the six-speed manual would snick-snick from gear to gear, and the steering would be one with my hands.  The best analogy I can think of would be a flawed relationship, where the good times were so good that they made all of the many problems seem inconsequential by comparison.

The BMWs interior

The BMW's interior

I drove that car more than any other I’ve owned.  In the 26 months it was my daily driver, I put 52,000 miles on it.  It was such a wonderful GT car.  Road trips, BMW-club driving school, around town… all fantastic.

When I finally did resolve to sell it, the right buyer took almost six months to materialize.  The good news is that I was able to sell what was a very special car to a true enthusiast.  He saw my ad in the local BMW club newsletter, drove hundreds of miles to Minneapolis from Sioux Falls, SD with a trailer to pick it up, and showed up at my door wearing a BMW t-shirt.

Why did I give it up?  I was heading off to grad school, and I knew there would be no way I could afford its upkeep while not gainfully employed.

My favorite car next to my favorite lake (Superior)

My favorite car next to my favorite lake (Superior)

It had its issues, yes, but the BMW has been the only car that I’ve been truly sad to see go.


  • Silver 1999 BMW 540i
  • 4.4 L naturally aspirated V8
  • 282 hp / 320 lb-ft
  • 6-speed manual transmission
  • Grey leather interior
  • 73,000 miles when acquired (September 29, 2004)
  • 125,000 miles when sold (August 6, 2007)
  1. Vince
    June 28th, 2010 at 12:49 | #1

    Along the ‘expensive upkeep’ theme, wasn’t this also the car that earned you your first ticket?

  2. keacher
    June 28th, 2010 at 18:50 | #2

    First and only!

    (Though in some sense, I’m still at zero, since that one eventually got dismissed.)

  3. June 29th, 2010 at 15:08 | #3

    I still giggle a little when I think of you leaving your “baby at pre-school for the first time” even after repeated assurances that it would not be towed.

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