Project 535i update: The many gifts of previous owners

When I went to pick up the 535i from Indianapolis, I knew it was going to need a significant amount of work. Any car that has sat outside for 2+ years will, especially when they are old and German, and with something like 340,000 miles (seriously!) I knew that I was going to find some interesting handiwork. I immediately began tearing into the car in late September with the hope of completing a solid chunk of maintenance before winter gets here; and indeed, it didn’t take long for the issues to come out of the woodwork.

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My Automotive New Year’s Resolution

As 2015 draws to a close, I realize it was not a terribly great year for automotive projects. Attempting the “project daily driver” thing with a high-mileage BMW E39 ended up being a massive failure, and my Renault project didn’t stick around long, although I did successfully rescue it and accomplish everything I set out to do with it. Now that I have a reliable-as-gravity Honda Fit as a daily driver, I’ve thought about what my automotive goals for 2016 should be. And I’ve decided that goal should be to get back out to some track days after my two-plus year absence!

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Project BMW update: I fought the car…

…and the car won. Some time ago, actually. It was mid-September when I finally said “enough is enough” with this rare BMW touring. In my case, realizing I’d be lucky to get $3500 out of a car I had nearly $10k dumped into incentivized me to walk away the next time something went wrong. I continues losing the faith when it was discovered that the behemoth was loo long to fit in the garage of our rented urban cottage…and then stuff happened.

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Famous last words: 1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16v

I have always really wanted to like Volkswagens. Flat-brim hatted “stance bruh” culture aside, VW is one of a very few mainstream car manufacturers that consistently cranks out interesting products. The various generations of Golf GTI and Jetta GLI, Corrado, Scirocco, their seemingly wonderful TDI diesel powerplant and many other offerings would seem to establish them as a true enthusiast company…if it weren’t for the fact that every one of their cars I’ve ever attempted to own has been absolute garbage. One of the most heartbreaking was my 1992 Jetta GLI, the ultimate A2-chassis Jetta with the wondrous 2.0 16V powerplant, lovely Recaro interior, factory BBS wheels and lots of other car nerd-loving goodies. A friend of mine offered it to me in late 2013 for the low price of $1000; it had been sitting for a while, but was in remarkably nice shape. At least it seemed that way. Oh, how wrong I was…

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Project BMW update: Expensive Maintenance Likely

Since purchasing the 528it, it would occasionally have the traction control and check engine lights come on along with a small light that simply said “EML.” When this happened, the car would immediately start running rough, stall out, or otherwise become kind of a pain to drive. Initially stopping the car and restarting seemed to solve the problem, but it began occurring with such frequency (and at completely random times) that I had to dive in and fix it. Turns out “EML” stands for “Elektronische Motorleistungsregelung;” translated as “Electronic Engine Power Control,” I soon found out that “Expensive Maintenance Likely” is also a pretty close translation.

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Project BMW update: new shoes!

Temperatures have been above freezing for almost three whole days in Wisconsin, so you know what that means…time to put on the summer wheels and tires! Sure, Mother Nature could very well dump another six inches of snow on us in April, but the forecast is in the 50’s for the next few weeks and that’s just fine with me. Besides this thing has traction and stability control…that’s good enough, right?

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