This is the seventeenth in a series by Howard LaPlante on his early experiences with cars.
There we were, parking ramp in Germany. The new, 2001, 700 mile, BMW stopped dead and refusing to re start. With help we pushed the car out of the way. Called a local BMW dealer, fortunately in the same town. Eventually they showed up with a tow truck. It was late afternoon and the dealership said that they would look at it in the morning. We found a hotel within walking distance. We were more than disappointed! The next morning I was at the dealership when they opened. It turned out that the car had overheated due to the failure of the electric radiator fan, and having overheated the car shut off. The shop manager said that they had never seen such a problem before. Worse yet, there were no repairs in stock. However they had located a new part in a city some 100 K away and they would send someone to get it. In the meantime they would give us a loaner car. - Well OK. As I was leaving I walked over to a new BMW 325 on the show floor, opened the hood, The electric fan motor was missing! Sure, they had never seen the problem before!!
The next morning we set off in the Rover sedan loan car, and drove into the “Black Forest”. We had an enjoyable day, however it would have been a much nicer day had we been driving our BMW. Stayed overnight in a small “zimmer” (home that rents out rooms”. The next day we headed back to the dealership and picked up the car. The trip went well. We spent some time with relatives in Hamburg where we left the car to be shipped back to Boston. The car arrived at the dealership in Boston some 4 weeks after we had left Hamburg. They serviced and detailed the car and we again picked up our new BMW.
Some time after arriving back home and getting back to work. I made the mistake of buying a Hemmings magazine with it’s usual listing of cars for sale. Second mistake! In going through it I discovered a 1988 Mazda RX7 Convertible. 5 speed, 146 HP from the twin rotor electronic injection engine, low miles, only 22,000 - (this was in 2001.) Car was white with blue top and interior. And it was in Connecticut. Third mistake, I called and arranged to see the car. I had always thought that this second generation of the RX 7 was a very good looking car. Also thought that the car might just be a good choice for a car to collect. When I arrived at the owner’s home to view the car, it was as advertised. It was new! Not a scratch, not a blemish! The owner was the original owner and had never driven the car in the winter. He was selling after coming to the realization that he did not drive it enough and really had no interest in keeping it any longer. My test drive was without incident. The sale was completed and I drove the car home.
Since all of my vacation time had been used, we did not have any opportunity to drive the car on any real road trips. We did take it on various weekend drives and up to Maine a couple of times. It did not take long to realize that the car would accelerate fairly well, but, only if the revs were near maximum! There was no torque at medium revs! However, it did display a prodigious appetite for gas! The car did go down the road well and cornered reasonably well, of course there are not that many curves in New England, at least not many without traffic, driveways and bikes. A Porsche it was not! - But then it was more affordable.
Elfi was enjoying the new BMW. It was not yet a year old. It was living up to all expectations, until one morning she was on her way to work. Some of you may know about Boston rush hour traffic. She was in the far left lane of a three lane (each way) road going north into Boston. Suddenly the dash board lights came on, steam started to come from the front of the car and the car did not want to go anymore! With a lot of difficulty she was able to get into the break down lane. The car would not start!
To be continued -