Yesterday, my wife found this invoice from 1985 as she was going through some packing boxes.
Because the dollar was so strong in 1985 when I bought the BMW, almost 3.50 DM to the dollar, the purchase price was well under $20,000, when the car was selling new in the US for $35K-plus. This came to matter quicker than I thought it would.
Here it is, pictured after we PCS'd to Fort Bragg, NC:
For years, BMW advertised its cars and "the ultimate driving machine." Okay, they are excellent automobiles. But "ultimate?" Nah.
The car was factory-made as a US model, we did not convert it to bring it home. We owned it less than three years. We had no children when we bought it. Then our first was born in 1986 and our second only 22 months later. The 5-series BMW actually had no more interior space than a Honda Civic and it just didn't work with two infant seats strapped in the back.
So I traded it in for a new 1988 Mercury Sable wagon, which was a good concept poorly executed. I almost broke even on the trade in because of the dollar's strength in 1985 . The Sable was just a dog mechanically.
In 1991 I traded in the wagon on a 1992 VW Eurovan. The VW gave us nine years of fantastic service. Wish we hadn't kept it 10 years.
In 2005 I had the chance to buy an identical 528e to this one from a retired Air Force colonel who had bought it new. He even let me drive it for a few days. A certified BMW mechanic we knew looked it over for us and said to grab it for the $2,500 asking price. We declined since we would have bought this (or any other) car only for our son to drive in high school, and the BMW didn't have antilock brakes or air bags. And it was in 1985 considered a very safe car.