“She gets three and a half cups in the evening. Thanks again! And feel free to take the convertible!”
Score! Best text I got all week, especially in light of all my friends deserting me for a trip to Central America. But, I get an empty house, effortless pup to walk and feed, and a white 328i convertible to play with. Ricky, we call him.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows me or regularly reads this blog that any chance I get, I’ll test drive a friend’s car. Some are more thrilling than others, but it always helps to provide perspective on my own driving experiences with the Mini, and for future reference when I’m buying my next car.
My friend bought this car used, after a stint with a 1-series Bimmer, then a non-Bimmer, which wasn’t satisfying in comparison. This car provides top-down motoring, and is an automatic (baby sigh), but was built before the marque switched the engine in the 328i to a four-pot. Which means…it has a guttural 6-cylinder that is tame on residential streets and calm on long cruises, but can do a pretty good whiplash on your neck if provoked. Good sound, good pedal feel. The steering is also wonderfully heavy.
But we already knew BMWs were great to drive.Â The bigger question I had to myself was: being a car nut, and regularly wanting what I cannot (yet!) afford, what is the big deal? Am I missing out horribly? Should I make getting a similar model my top priority?
The short answer is no. All good things in time, and I have no doubt I’ll have the chance to own and drive something equally brilliant one day. For all the things right with Ricky, there are plenty more things that can go and have gone wrong with Ricky, despite only being five years old and having the same number of miles as my car (about 65k).
Electric motors for seats, and apparently the glove box, can burn out. The parking brake is definitely disengaged, but the warning light on the instrument cluster is convinced otherwise. A cryptic red graphic appears every so often in the center of the gauges, of a car on a lift (?). Coated trim pieces are peeling, and the cup holders that emerge from the dash with a gentle push don’t have a smooth action anymore. I know this isn’t my friend’s doing because I’ve been in other similar cars with the same issues. The trim peeling is especially bad on late model BMWs.
And, as it is with all drop-tops, the body structure isn’t perfectly rigid over bumps, so you feel a bit more scuttle shake. This problem is mostly solved by putting the folding hardtop up, which improves the overall structure. But then you defeat the main attraction of a convertible…
The lesson I learned driving Ricky around is that…it’s still just a car. Things go wrong, they’re expensive to fix, and no model is perfect. When the time comes, each person has to weigh the cost to purchase, cost to operate, and what factors are most important. Lucky for Ricky, even if electrical or interior parts need attention, his outward-facing body is still gorgeous as ever. And, he makes the driver feel good.
So I’ll motor on just a bit more.