I am currently bringing my Peugeot 205 GTI 1.6 from Germany to America. The Pug is sitting on the port of Bremehaven, awaiting loading onto a RoRo ship. The French car was my daily driver in Germany for my last few months there, but due to its rarity in the US it might be less than wise to drive it daily here. For that reason I have been looking for another daily driver since arriving in the US a week ago. I wasn't looking to spend much for daily transportation, but I wanted a car that was a good driver's car, that I could pay off with cash, that would be easy to fix by myself, and had to have four doors and a back seat for the times my wife and son ride in it.
Within the last three days I went to see three German cars. The first was an E36 318ti with a Downing Atlanta Supercharger (DASC) and M-Tech package. Yes I know the car broke my four door rule, but it had a Supercharger so it was allowed an exception... The car was fun to drive, especially with that charger whine, but was at the top of my budget. The owner seemed to be asking a bit much for my taste, the car rode fine, but had what I call the typical modern heavy BMW vague front end at low speeds. You may call bullshit on this, but every newer BMW I have driven, from a run of the mill E36 sedan to a F90 M3 has a weird steering feel at low speeds. I don't like it.
The second car I saw was a 1991 Mercedes Benz 300D 2,5 Turbo (W124). The pictures on CL looked very good, the owner said the car ran great, had a recent tune up and new parts, etc. When I got there the car looked a bit worse for the wear, had some steering problem where it wandered left and right ever so softly above 35 mph, and a weird clunk on the rear right when turning right. It was a somewhat beat up old Benz with over 350,000 miles and the price was too high.
I scored on the third car, a 1987 BMW 325. The ad said it is a 325i, but VIN said 325e. That didn't matter, because the car was in great shape and the price was fair. When I arrived at the seller's home I saw signs you would like to see when you buy an older car: this guy had seven cars in very good condition, including three other BMWs. The 325, he says, has been his daily driver until he bought an E36. He drove the car almost daily to Richmond, so he kept it in top condition. Receipts showed me he has spent over $4000 in the last three years: new shocks, brakes, clutch, entire shift linkage, tires, new paint job, etc. The mild winters here in south Virginia meant very little exposure to road salt and only minimal surface rust underneath. The problems with the car? A cracked dash, the odometer and tachometer don't work, and the instrument cluster lights are burnt out. Other than that everything works: a/c, heat, power windows and sunroof, on board computer too. Did I mention the car has a limited slip differential? Yup.
So I called the guy today and we did the hand shake over the phone. Tomorrow three thousand and two hundred dollars and a vehicle title will exchange hands and the E30 will be mine. It will be my first rear wheel drive car since 1998, when I gave my 1977 Benz W123 300D to my brother.
Plans for the car? I don't want to mod it too much, reliability is my goal here. Maybe a light tint on the windows, a new stereo that plays SD cards, different wheels (BMW basketweaves?), and perhaps a chip tune to free up some horses. Other than that, I'll just drive the Bavarian sedan.
I am looking forward to it, now I can also park like an asshat!