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bmw paint touch up stick Q&A Review

How much longer will my car last that is 13 years old and just turned 91,000 miles?

Many cars have gone well over 1 million miles. Just ask a New York cabbie. Maintnance matters, but original engineering is a big factor. The Mercedes Benz 300e of late 90s is an example of an over-engineered car. Lots of million-miler 300e cars out there. Lots of Volvos are million-milers. It depends on, (IMHO) decending order: original design criteria w.r.t. product cycles/life, oil changes, other fluids flush/replacement (cooling, brake, transmission, differential), the number of cold starts (for any given mileage, fewer is better), city vs highway driving (somewhat redundant to the cold starts issue), other maintenance (shocks/struts/bushings, etc), and your tolerance for normal cosmetic wear & tear and squeaks and rattles. I have a 2005 BMW 530i with almost twice that mileage. It’s virtually worthless as a trade in, but it’s rock solid, and it runs and handles handles great - ,everything, works, and almost zero squeaks and rattles. Other than normal maintenance, I’ve had a transmission overhaul ($1.2K at 120K mi), new shocks/struts ($0.9K at 140K mi), new suspension bushings ($0.8K, also at 140K mi.), and new front and rear window rubber seals ($0.7K at 165K mi), and those prices were all at the at the local BMW dealer (Classic BMW of Plano, Tx) that has a $120/hr shop rate for labor. I use JiffyLube to change the oil every 5–7 K miles, and it does not burn but about 1/2 a quart between oil changes. I use Chevron (with Techron) for fuel (burns clean). It’s spent half it’s life outdoors, both day and night, but the paint is holding up just fine (I keep it waxed). I did buy new front headlights to address the dulling/yellowing. And I have a detail guy touch up rock chips and minor dings about once every 2 years. Looks like new to the untrianed eye. Here’s a picture, from about 2 months ago. Perfectly respectable family car. It may out-live me, but I also have two 20-year-old BMW garage queen sports cars, that are quite well preserved. They absolutely will out live me. Maybe someone will teach my grandkids to drive a stick, in case there is any dead dinosaur residue yet to burn.

Can you list the specific things that make a car look good?

Depends on how much money you have to burn (when you sell it you won’t get back what you spent). Personally I wouldn’t spend more than 10% of the value of the car in question, You can spend more but that’s up to you. If you’re going to make over your car think logically. The biggest change you can make is to change or refresh the paint. I suggest you go with factory colors instead of day-glow pink or some ridiculous or obnoxious pearlescent color. A decent paint job will run you $800 so unless your car is worth between $6000-$8000, that would be a great place to stop. you’re free to spend more but keep in mind YOU WILL BE losing money at this point unless your car is worth more. You can go with new rims but I would advise against that. As a trained engineer the engineers that designed your car have optimized the tire and wheel size for the weight, drivetrain, safety and power requirements of your vehicle. Changing the size of your wheels WILL CAUSE your speedometer to malfunction which can lead to a check engine light, make your engine and brakes work harder, put strain on the suspension which will cause strain on the chasis, steering, struts and bump-stops, all your bushings, engine and transmission mounts, wheel bearings and wheel hubs. Instead, you should powder-coat or restore your wheels to factory spec. Restoring your wheels should run you no more than $300–400 instead of $1200–2500 for new wheels and larger and surely more expensive low profile tires that will ruin the ride on your car. As far as the interior you can add REAL sheepskin seat covers (they come in several colors); this will add a touch of class, will keep you warm in the winter and will fill the interior with the welcoming aroma of success, money and refinement in the same way Lexus and BMW purposely scent their products. Perhaps a new radio/receiver with better speakers as long as you stick to the original color lighting scheme the designers gave the instrument cluster on your new receiver and respect the factory speaker size your door panels and deck-lid came with. If you want to add speakers you should consider professionally installing tweeters on the corners of your dashboard or on along the door panel. you should consider getting a dash cover, steering wheel cover, shift knob and boot made from suede. you can get brand new original factory fresh floor mats on amazon or the dealer or perhaps upgrade to weather tech all season mats, which look modern and are useful. the choice is yours but keep in mind the value of your car and how much time and effort AND MONEY you’re willing to pour in to this. if you do any of this SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS so in case your car is totaled, stolen or vandalized you can attempt to get your money back. lastly, before you do any of this make sure your car is mechanically in tip-top condition and that you own it outright; meaning you’re not running the risk of losing your car if the engine or tranny blows or if you miss payments and get your car taken from you.

What are people's dream cars?

For me - the car has to come from the golden age of automobile design. By “golden” I mean before environment and other economy constraints took their toll on car design, when each car was designed not to sell in volumes but for the sake of it being whole and complete. There are several vehicles that represent this, and the mother of them all is the ,1956 Packard,. This majestic look defines beauty. Everything about this car is perfect. Those who know the sad story of this car will be aware that it was the short-sighted management that killed a legendary marque, as a result by 1956 many customers passed these amazing cars, which makes it all the more cherishing to own one as a sign of dedication to the ,best ,of North American engineering. And by best I mean that this car was decades ahead of its time, the lock-up clutch in the transmission, torsion level suspension etc… Now, as oddly as it may sound, my benchmark is not the regal Packard Patrician or the Caribbean, but the much more sleek ,Clipper,, and the reason is this: Just look at how organically the contour follows the roof into the boot and contrasting with it are the two tailfins, it defines beauty of car design! Yes I am a huge fan of tailfins! Or? How about the ,1957 Lincoln Primiere Landau. See the glass funnels behind the rear screen? Those are air conditioning units. May be a little variation, but its predecessor, the 1956 to me is even more appealing. Or… how about this absolutely gorgeous ,1959 Mercury Monterey But with all that beauty there must be something that stands out and above? Absolutely right. Russian engineers in the mid 1950s decided that it was their turn to have a go at creating a legend - and they succeeded. The ,GAZ-13 ,Chaika, ,(seagull) This was the car that ordinary Russians could not owe. It was never sold to public, never used for taxi service (though one could hire it for weddings). Compared to your average Lada it had everything: a growling V8 engine, automatic transmission, power steering, power windows, air conditioning. Today it is ,the ,most sought after collectors car in Russia, and prices for a perfectly restored version can be well over 300 thousand USD, whilst a derelict rusty remain can easily fetch 50–100 thousand. That is right, despite an impressive production run (1959 to 1981) only 3189 examples were hand assembled. And as a little fyi, cylinder blocks were machined in same plant that made nuclear reactor centrifuges. Anyhow, the best a Russian could hope for was the GAZ-21 Volga, that too was a luxury car in its own right. Only 10% of those produced (which in absolute numbers was not much, 70 thousand a year) destined for private ownership whilst the rest were taken up by “people’s economy” (taxis, police, estates were used for cargo and ambulances, then all of the mid-range officials requiring a chauffeured car), plus export. Still displaying a restored bespoke car, like the one below is within the qualification of an average workshop or enthusiast,. Whilst the Volga is a great car and a head-turner these days, it is by no means unique. However it did have a special KGB version that featured Chaika’s engine and powertrain, the ,Chaser,. ,Now Mercedes-Benz might be given credit for creating the first Q-car, by taking the engine of the large 600 limousine and installing it into its flagship sedan. The 300SEL 6.3 is a legend in its own right… Except it came five years after the ,Chaser…, Still speaking of Mercedes, their cars were excellent in their own right, during the 70s and 80s. There are many models that I admire (the fintails, the /8, the 190 evolution, the 500E wolf, the 6.0 Hammer, the G-wagen, even the W140 sedans, which during 1990s Russia replaced the Chaikas as the cars for the elite (and it had to be the flagship V12 600 model, anything below did not count). But among all, I would go for this ,560 SEC,, complete with the widebody kit by AMG, when it was still an independent tuner. To me it spells individuality and character, in a line-up that as well-built and designed as they could, are at the same time as mundane as a black suit. Even if its tailored it is still a black suit! Same with Mercedes-Benz and ,everything ,modern. The 560SEC (chassis code C126) is a notable exception, mechanically the 126 family was the last car you could repair in your garage and pre-set defects that sprout when the warranty period expires were yet to be implemented by that marque. Which brings me to the logical though that all of the cars I mentioned above are gorgeous to look at, amazing to work with, but to own one is a huge responsibility and … endless paranoia, which is why most of the time, these pristine survivors are kept in a heated garage and are lucky to be let out on a rare summer weekend day, with their owners always panicking about the weather, pebbles on the road and even curious bystanders touching the paintwork… Luckily the US car industry produced another legendary type of car to be able to defy just that, and the 560SEC above is still a ,boring ,Mercedes when it comes in comparison of the true perfection of automotive engineering. ,The American Muscle Car! Now, contrary to what you expect, I will not list the Mustang, Charger and Camaro… simply because the public has given them undue celebrity status that they too became a little generic, whilst their modern representatives which carry that name try to (unsuccessfully) mimic their legendary predecessors. First and foremost, the ,1970 454 Chevelle SS next is the ,1969 428 Torino Cobra jet. and finally the ,1969 Plymouth 440+6 Road runner. Now you might ask why these particular ones, as there were plenty of other choices: GTO, GTX, ‘Cuda, Cougar, 442, AMX etc. True, but for me the amazing part of muscle cars is their original intent, to be a ,cheap, high performance version of the parent model. Which is why of all the three choices, I give preference to the latter. Absolutely spartan trim, very little chrome, a clean silhouette. It’s as if someone took a chisel and trimmed off everything leaving the bare minimum. Which why they are so perfect! Because under that bonnet is raw, unrestrained by economy, ecology, environment and other nonsense savage V8! Hell with your ECUs, sensors and injectors all hail the carburettors! To hell with all those hydra-dyno-jerking-matics, four on the floor manual. Even disk brakes were optional. Which is why these cars are great to drive… as long as your going in a straight line. When it comes to handling, all of the muscles are … appalling to say the least. Not to mention the rate at which it will drain its petrol tank. So once again, great to owe and take for a quick weekend spin, but impractical as ever. Moreover, here in Russia owning one right now is even less realistic, simply because of all the custom fees one will have to pay, which means that those collectors that do import them will rarely let them growl on the roads, scaring the shit out of other drivers and pedestrians. In Russia, we never had anything close to a muscle car. The Soviet car industry was very much focused on meeting targets and private car ownership was an issue in its own right. The nearest we got in keeping pace was the second generation Chaika, produced from 1976 to 1989. And by that I mean a full-size body with a frame chassis, and a twin 4 brl carb v8 engine. The limousine wheelbase and roof line, automatic transmission and luxury trim disqualify it from that field. Not to mention, that like its predecessor, the average citizen could only hope to see one up close in central Moscow. Luckily we had an alternative, like the Chaika replacing its fintailed predecessor, in 1970 the 2nd generation Volga was rolled out. In the society where everyone was equal this car separated those more equal than others. More than a third of these cars were used by taxicabs, there were ambulances and police models that were exported, and of course models to chauffeur your average Soviet bureaucrat. Like the predecessor, a beefed-up Chaser version was also available for the KGB. These cars might sound like a wonder, but if you thought of driving them - think again. To counteract the huge torque by limo’s V8, a steel plate was carried in the boot. Volga is a unibody, and despite its quite impressive size, is actually lighter than a common Ford Focus. Add to that front drum brakes, power steering with no feedback (came with the V8), the lack of a rear roll bar, a fully vertical kingpin (no caster angle!)… it’s no wonder why KGB driver’s would have been able to trump Formula 1 pilots. In 1981 a big facelift of the car was released, the ,GAZ-3102., In its stock it corrected many of the design failure’s - bodywork with crumple zones, orthopaedic seats, an uprated engine with pre-charge ignition (gave it a pedigree performance and complacency with Euro 1 exhaust a decade before it was released), a re-worked front suspension complete with caster angle and disk brakes licensed from Girling (the same company that supplied brake parts to Jaguar). Not bad? Except the government thought that this model was too classy to work as a taxi and the factory had to produce two cars in parallel. Then in 1985 the factory decided, to modernise the seemingly archaic GAZ-24 by using most of the elements of the exclusive GAZ-3102 Volga. Enter the ,GAZ-24–10,. After 1992 when the planned GAZ-3105 never reached the production line, and the post-Soviet crises demanded a simple and robust commercial vehicle… So for the next 17 years the story of the Volga was one continuous modernisation of an ancient structure. Look up GAZ-31029 (James fans will recognise that one from Goldeneye), GAZ-3110 and GAZ-31105… Now you might ask, wtf? Why am I being showed some random Russian car that began as an elegant rival to North American compatriots and downgraded into an eyesore? Well, my dear readers two reasons. First of all you can have a dream car if have $$$ or your grandfather had $$$ and you were lucky enough to inherit it. However, it is by belief that a car is not there for the looks to be displayed on a stand. It is there to be driven. I live in Russia. I do not have the $$$ to buy and import a Packard, a Chevelle or 560SEC. I do not have the money to buy a Chaika or a Chaser. Nor do I have the patience and skill to source the original parts and restore such cars (though I deeply respect those who are able to do so). I can however easily buy a GAZ-24 Volga, and even more easier - a GAZ-24–10. Which brings me to the conclusion. I adore muscle cars, I adore classic cars and I deeply respect that our engineers in the late 1960s designed and gave us something that even if it never lives up to those definitions, does not prevent us from making it fit. That is not just a philosophy. In skilled hands the Volga today is not just a play-toy. If you want, you can stick a V8 in there. (Chaika’s 5.5 litre is rare to source, but a 4.2 that was featured on the GAZ-66 trucks is in abundance) If you want, you can make it a low-rider If you want - you can rid the roof or loose the rear doors You can even make an SUV out of it As for me. I like my car the way it is! In 2011 I was offered it for dead cheap (20 thousand Rubles - 700 USD at the rate) and it only had 26 thousand KM on the clock. I got my licence the previous year and thought of it very pragmatic - ideal for a first car… Then I saw it, drove it and we became one ever since. So far, of the major works: 1. Replacement of stock 4 speed with a 5 speed gearbox. 2. Replacement of stock front drum brakes with 3102 disc brakes (the ones with Jaguar’s calipers) 3. Replacement of stock exhaust system with that from a latter Volga. 4. Full replacement of all suspension bushings, steering joints, shock absorbers. 5. Replacement of the spartan plastic dashboard with a vinyl trimmed and the seats with velvet upholstery (genuine Soviet exclusivity for the 3102s) 6. And a complete re-paint of the car. Regarding minor works, I lost count of how many times I serviced the ignition, carburettor, brakes etc. One thing I can tell you, the car is so damn simple, that it has come to the point of me knowing every symptom by feel and sound. In the pipeline is engine work (An attempt at putting a pre-charged ignition head and morphing it with a 100mm cylinder block of an UAZ jeep - stock was 92mm bore), rear axle (with the added pedigree of the engine - a 3.58 axle ratio is a must in place of the stock 3.9) and a few other bits. Why am I going into such detail about my car? Well the question was about a ,dream car, right? The way I see it is that it is fine to dream about a car that you will never owe and at best see it at some museum. However, unlike you, I get to ,live that dream! ,I enjoy getting my hands dirty, I enjoy upgrading and improving it. I enjoy that OHV purr. I enjoy the turning heads in the traffic, the tourists taking selfies with it, random people coming up and praising me for my dedication to this car. But most of all, I enjoy driving it! During the summer it is my daily driver! Parts are dead cheap. Performance wise it is very pleasurable (the amount of adrenaline you will get out of taking it past 130 km/h will be greater than that in an M3 BMW going at 230 km/h - trust me on that one! ) As for it being only 4 cylinder, remember what I said about it being a unibody and lighter than a Ford Focus? Well at 2.5 litres that OHV engine’s torque is not turning the wheels - no, it’s rotating the whole planet beneath it! So there you have it. The best dream car is the one you can make yourself, for yourself and you are proud of it! Oh… just to count the costs, over the past six years, disregarding fuel and insurance, I conservatively estimate that I invested 4000 USD into my car. So have fun pouring in a lifetime saving into a vehicle that you will not drive, when you can buy hundreds of these in pretty mint condition.

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