What It's Like Going From Cheap American Muscle To Expensive German Performance

I have been obsessed with American muscle for as long as I can remember. I never could get enough of the aggressive throaty American V8 exhaust noise - the kind of noise that pisses off your neighbors and makes people around you look at you with disgust.

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American muscle has always been so cheap and such a great value that it has been tough to justify spending double on something else that was just as quick. These days, of course, American muscle is no longer cheap and price ranges can rival that of BMW, Audi, Mercedes or other brands that are known to create enormous amounts of financial pain and marital distress.

When I bought my 2007 Mustang brand new, specifically configured from factory, I got every option possible. This meant that my car came with leather seats, a 6-disc CD changer, a multi-colored display...and that was pretty much it. I know you were expecting much more like navigation, heated seats or a rear view camera - I did too, but unfortunately the options were even more limited than what you can get at Chipotle. Can’t they offer different types of tortillas and change things up a bit?

What I got was a “fully loaded” Mustang - the most luxurious version of the Mustang you could get at the time - and it basically came with nothing. Today’s base Kia comes better equipped than my Mustang did.

But, honestly, I didn’t care much about the luxury because that’s not why I bought it. I purchased it to just enjoy the torquey V8 and the loud, booming exhaust. Sure, I lost some hearing over the years but thoroughly enjoyed driving the Mustang - it was built like a rock (Chevy - don’t be jealous) and withstood just about everything that I threw at it.

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After many years of ownership, it came finally time for something different. Although I love American muscle and would readily move onto a Corvette or a Camaro, I felt like I needed to give European engineering a try. I’ve enjoyed driving Mercedes’, BMWs, Audis, Porsches and figured it was now time to own one and see what it would be like to live with one. I mean - who wouldn’t want a life of financial misery?!

So I sold my cheap American pony and got my hands on a 2009 BMW 335i for not much money at all. I only paid $17.5K, but of course, that may not mean much considering that I’m dealing with unparalleled reliability (that’s a joke, of course). Owning a 335 means that I may have to end up paying $3K for new fuel injectors, or fix the dreaded wastgate rattling for $3K-$4K, or replace the transfer case for $3K or face dealing with a laundry list of other things that may go wrong with my car, thereby ruining my vacation plan to go to Morocco for a week.

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So after some transcendental meditation and several days of mental preparation (and by days I mean seconds) to deal with the potential loss of money I might experience with the 335, I pulled the trigger on the car. I don’t plan on keeping it for long, but for the time that I do, I’m prepared to deal with anything. At least that’s what I’m saying now until I get the repair bill and instantly feel the same kind of regret that I did when I lost $5K in Vegas (I thought for sure I would double my money by betting it all on black!).

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The Transition

I love starting the car without having to insert a key. I don’t need to push a button to unlock the car either since it has sensors on the door handles that automatically unlock if I have the key-fob somewhere on me.

I certainly could not do this with the ‘Stang!

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As soon as you start the car up, one of the first things you notice right away going from a car like the V8 Mustang to a 6-cylinder BMW is losing the beautiful exhaust sound. The 335 sounds slightly better than a screaming baby. Actually, it’s not terrible, but, as you can imagine, the sound is nothing like what emanated from my Mustang.

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I really thought that I would miss the loud burble of the Mustang V8 (especially with the aftermarket mufflers I had on the car), but honestly, I didn’t. It’s funny how the markedly superior driving experience of the 335 can make me completely forget about the lack of engine noise.

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Exhaust noise aside, we all know that the BMW 335 operates on a different level compared to the Mustang when it comes to handling and suspension. I can now comfortably take a turn at 70 mph where in the Mustang I would be praying that I wouldn’t die from taking that same turn at 35 mph. The 335 just gives you so much assurance that you might feel almost a little too good about doing things that you shouldn’t be doing. I’m enjoying it so much that I am constantly looking for reasons to drive the car.

Oh, do I need to go to Walgreens to pick up some Motrin? There’s one I found in San Antonio that’s about 100 miles away...

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…perfect!

What makes driving the BMW that much better is the interior. It is so much better than the Mustang’s that there is really no comparison. But if we were to compare, it would be something like this.

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Mustang:BMW::IKEA:reallyfancyfurniturestore

Yep. I’m comparing a Mustang to IKEA, and the BMW to some high end, snobby furniture store. To the Mustang’s defense, it was only about half the cost of what a new 335 would have been going for at the time and so I can understand that Ford could only afford to put in the car the cheapest plastic they could find in a landfill.

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Even though the BMW is 6 years old with 53K miles on it, everything still feels solid. The seats are one of the best aspects about the car; they’re extremely supportive and although the Mustang seats were good, the 335’s seats provide way more support so that driving for hours on end doesn’t create a problem at all. Going to San Antonio to pick up the pills and driving back was quite enjoyable; even driving for six hours to and from Dallas was great.

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I can’t say that particularly like how the car looks. Well, from certain angles I do or if I put five coats of wax on the car and it glistens under the sun. But, in general I feel like the 335 tends to blend in with most of the cars out on the road. Compared to the Mustang, I would say that there are parts of the Mustang I liked and there are aspects of the 335 I find visually appealing. I don’t know if I could pick a clear winner between the two.

Overall, I’m enjoying this transition to German engineering quite a bit. Part of me is always worried every day that I get into the car. I immediately start thinking - oh god, today’s the day that my oil gasket will need to be replaced and I’ll be out $3K, when I could’ve gone to Amsterdam instead!

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But that worry is instantly gone as soon as no lights pop up on my dash and I start driving. I’m not sure how much slower a regular 335 would feel compared to the Dinan tune, but whatever I’m driving now should’ve definitely come from the factory this way. It’s so much fun to step on it - the 335 is not only much faster than the ol’ Mustang but it can turn! Imagine that. Everything is so smooth and quiet that you look down only to realize you’re going 80 mph in a 50 mph zone.

With the Mustang you could feel the struggle. Every horsepower had to be squeezed out of the car and it made sure you knew exactly how fast you were trying to go. There was no looking down at the speedometer to find out that you were going 90 mph because the fluttering hood was a clear indicator that you were definitely driving above 50 mph.

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I had no idea that I would appreciate the 335 as much as I do. But, of course, all that might change if things start breaking. But let’s hope they don’t and for now everything appears to be in good shape...fingers and toes crossed.

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I’m not planning on keeping the 335 forever, and if I’m lucky perhaps I could get some enjoyment out of this without spending a ton. For now, the BMW is really proving to be the ultimate driving machine.


Torque Affair is about exploring my fascination with cars; I’m always on the lookout for things that interest me in the car world. Like Torque Affair and follow @torqueaffair!

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