“thanks for the car”…not!
I’m afraid I must begin this article with my deepest apologies. I am truly grateful to my in-laws, and love them very much. My friends are the greatest in the world. I look up to my grandparents with the utmost respect. The problem I am about to address though has nothing to do with you; it’s your car. At some point, all of us have sold or bought, or traded cars. We switch cars. It’s a fact. It’s natural. It just happens. Most of the time we like to think that our newest car is better than the last, regardless of price, mileage, or year. It’s just “nicer”. This is especially true of BMW’s. You know what I mean. Sometimes the latest car is not any better at all than the last, but it makes all difference in the world that YOU picked it. You made the choice to bring it home. The 633csi had great lines, or a 325ic was a fun change. But nonetheless, for the person with a new car, it’s “better” because they wanted it to be. Personally, I’m fine with switching cars. I actually like getting into another ride after six months or a year. In fact, I’ve owned over 20 cars in the past 10 years, not a great accomplishment compared to some of you serious car-tradin’-heavyweights, but above average, I would guess, for Joe American. It’s exciting to have a new look, or more power, or a classic design. Temporary car switches don’t always have the same charm though. No matter what car you normally drive, there’s almost always something wrong with a temporary switch. The first issue is the fact that usually you’re not getting into a BMW. Your friend has you move their Plymouth Lancer out of the driveway or you make a quick trip to the corner market in mom’s Crown Victoria for the missing ingredient. Some of these quick switches are a bit annoying; the seat is WAY too far up, the mirrors are all wrong, the brakes feel weird, it smells funny, but we get over it pretty quick as we are soon out of the offending car and back into our cherished Bimmer. Then you have the bittersweet switches; cars your friends or family members get that your delusional thinking tells you “That might be really cool, I would love a chance to cruise down Broadway in that!”
And you finally get your chance, but when you do: Yikes! You get the seat adjusted comfortably, and the mirrors set properly, but you still feel cramped and uncomfortable, and your vision seems mysteriously blocked like some professional basketball player has his hand in your face.
It’s a nasty experience, but you cannot relay this information to the passenger, as they are the proud new owner of this stink–box! “Wow…” you exclaim, “this is really nice!” You lie, right there on the spot, to their face. But it’s necessary, is it not?? Out of courtesy we want our friend to be excited about their new purchase, not to mention the cost, we don’t want to crash their party. So we act excited and just try to get through it and be happy for the person. After all, it’s not our car! The worst car switch of all though is the “Temporary Loan“. Whether it be for an afternoon or a week, this switch is almost always guaranteed to suck. You need a car while your “M” is getting the valves adjusted, or you’re visiting a friend in another city and they offer their car in lieu of a rental. The curse can be disguised a thousand different ways. The owner has graciously offered you a car, which, out of necessity, cannot be refused. But for the duration of the time period, it’s almost as if it IS your car.
You have to try to get comfortable in it, try to figure out the climate controls, try to park it. An evil curse that we’ve all experienced. As you’ve likely guessed by now, I been involved in a terrible episode of: “I Borrowed My In–laws‘ Car and I Think I’m Scarred For Life“. Maybe I’m exaggerating, maybe I’m NOT! The Pacific Northwest, for those of you that don’t already know, is one of the most spectacular and beautiful areas of the United States. It’s complete with every type of terrain, including but not limited to: desert, plain, mountain, forest, ocean. It’s got it all. My in–laws are blessed to live in a beautiful historic home overlooking the magnificent Columbia River. Set into the hillside lining the banks, the wrap–around front porch offers a panoramic view of the Washington state mountains including the famous Mt. St. Helens with it’s recent “peak–job“. It’s a tremendous location. Scads of twisty back–roads cover the mountains and even the Interstate highways are a pleasure to travel on. A driver’s paradise. My wife and I spent some time there on a vacation, and that’s where it happened. My father–in–law offered me his car for my two–day trip to visit a friend who lives near the capital of Oregon, about a hundred miles away. I accepted the generous gesture, thinking nothing of the impending torture. Like an innocent sheep being led to the slaughter, I thanked him again with a smile as I took the keys from his hand.
had driven this car numerous times before. It really did not make a bad impression on me the last time I drove it. Although, I don’t recall driving it much more than a few minutes at a time. I put my red ///M bag into the shallow trunk and my pack in the front seat and I was off. Little did I know I was about to be reminded – first hand – what it is about my E34 5 series that I really enjoy. Initially, a different car won’t feel too bad as you are still fine–tuning the seat position and getting used to the vehicle. This was the case for me as I drove down the street leaving my wife and my sanity behind. I was focused on finding the proper route to the freeway, which would lead me toward my friend’s house. As I started to drive, I remembered the car was bright teal. Can you believe there are thousands of nasty teal cars, trucks, and SUVs out there? I guess I never really noticed teal vehicles until I visited my in–laws, as they have TWO teal vehicles; the two–door sedan I’m driving and a teal pickup truck with a teal “Topper“. Let me mention as well that the two vehicles are from different manufacturers and therefore don’t come close to matching. Not that matching your vehicles is required, but having two different shades of bright teal cars makes your driveway look like a giant tube of Aquafresh toothpaste sitting next to a giant faded conversation heart. By now I realize that I’m not going to get any more comfortable with the single adjustment of the seat, so I decide on a setting and try to think about something else. This particular vehicle was built in the early 90’s and was one of the latest “boats” as far as two–door vehicles go. Equipped with a V8 engine that has been used in countless 80’s and 90’s vehicles, it really didn’t impress me. I casually notice the mileage is similar to the mileage on my 1990 535i, 146,000 miles. But the similarities stop there – right there. Look, I’ll cut right to it – it feels like crap on the highway. I was sure I was going to lose control somewhere after 45mph. I tried to get used to it, realizing that everyone around me must be feeling out of control too and they must be ignoring it as they are all speeding along close to 80mph. So I rustled up some bravery and started to flirt with the speed limit. Somewhere around 70 mph, the steering wheel began shaking – not just a pulse – but it was swinging a good 2–3 inches up and down. It reminded me of an out–of–balance washing machine. Trying to look at the positive, I pretended I was getting a nice arm/shoulder/upper body massage. This novelty wore off after 15 minutes when my hands became numb. Forced to slow down, I began feeling the empty spot inside that longed for my autobahn machine.
This car has the most pathetic suspension, it leans a good 3 inches when you apply the brakes. Whatever happens, don’t make any sudden moves or even quick lane changes, this car feels so incompetent that it is truly scary to drive. The way this car feels at 65mph on the highway is so unnerving that it made my adrenaline start pumping out of fear. Wow. I really, really wanted my M5 back now – just to sort of “cleanse my soul” and prove that driving does not have to suck. The Bimmer inspires such confidence, that a quick blast to 110mph feels like you’re close to 55mph. This car on the other hand is some sick nervous thing that warns you the whole time… “I wouldn’t do that if I were you…” Talk about the car communicating with the driver! I had no idea bad cars communicate as well as good cars. This car was screaming bloody murder above 70mph. Windows down, sun shining, I putted south on I–5. The Columbia on my right and Mt. St. Helens off to the left, the beauty was inspiring. Ahhh..It was driving me crazy. The mountains seemed to look down with pity as if they knew my heartache. Mt. St. Helens shared a solemn moment as part of me was now missing, too. The giant fir trees stood tall, almost looking away, averting their gaze, so as not to upset themselves as I motored by in the teal terror. The magnificent scenery and cool air needed to be driven through properly. But I was powerless, thousands of miles from my Motorsport. I wanted desperately to push the limits of traction on my 17” tires, rev the engine to seven grand and fill the Columbia valley with the “Song of Six”. But I could not. I’m happy to report that I am home and well recovering from the automotive tragedy rapidly. I drove the 535i home from the airport and am pleased to confirm that my car feels great! I slept my first night home in the garage with my track car. There were some tears shed, but, all in all, it was very healing. After some time to reflect, I am wondering; what do the others think when they drive our BMW’s?