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Stevej2001
04-12-2008, 08:57 PM
All you oldtimers-- do you remember your first real drive of a BMW? Mine was today.

My 535i is a few months old. I acquired it because I was tired of poor handling cars, most recently a Lexus ES330. But I'm just a middle aged guy who really doesn't know much about driving a performance car. Up to now I've driven my BMW in town, on he freeway, and a little bit on a curvy stretch of highway. My biggest attraction, up to now, are the electronic gadgets on the car. Yes, I like iDrive, actually. I've not been so clear on this 'Ultimate Driving Machine' business, however.

Today my wife was out of town and I had nothing I needed to to, so I drove the 100 miles or so to Yosemite from my home in Modesto, CA.

Going there was mostly a snore-- lots of slow traffic... until I was on one of the infrequent straight sections between Groveland and the Yosemite gate. I was stuck behind several slow moving tourists, and there was no opposing traffic. So I floored it. The pass happened quickly, despite it being up-hill. In no time I was around the cars and had experienced absolutely no instability or hesitation in the car. I looked at the speedometer- it was pushing 100. I've had cars up to that speed before, but they always felt loose, about to do something disastrous. My BMW was serene, stable, secure. I quickly slowed the car to near 55 mph. A good thing too, since beyond the next curve lurked a CHP officer.

So I decided to see just what this baby could do, while trying not to get a ticket. I thought, how fast can this car go through corners?

Now you need to understand that my wife and I moved to California to be close to Yosemite, and for 28 years I've driven that road so often I pretty much know every curve and how each car I've owned would handle them. It was time to see how my new BMW would fare, especially on the return (downhill) run where speed can build up quickly.

My overall impression: The Governator Arnold has installed rails in all the turns, and my car was riding them! With each successive turn, I'd push it a little harder, at least until the stability control started complaining. It never did; there was never the sound of tire squeal, no sliding, nothing but precise turning at high speed. My considerable weight came to appreciate the side bolster on the seat.

Understand I'm not an expert driver, so I have no doubt that one of you hot-shots could have gone considerably faster. But I was taking turns on which the Lexus felt unsafe over 30-- at 50 or more without any sense of insecurity whatsoever. The biggest limitation was traffic, and the motor made short work of that, even without bothering to switch to sport mode.

All too soon I was out of the hills on the relatively uninteresting flat road of the Central Valley. At this juncture I am supposed to say I had a enormous grin on my face, and I suspect that's true. But I was more amazed then exactly happy. How does BMW do it? How come my previous Lexus/Acura/Honda/Dodges, etc didn't do it?

Well, yeah, I was, and am, happy. Very happy. And I think I'm finally beginning to get this BMW Ultimate Driving Machine thing...

By the way, for all you suckers who don't live 2 hours from the most beautiful spot on earth, here's how Yosemite looked today:

edizon
04-12-2008, 10:03 PM
Great feedback. Were you able to drive into Yosemite Valley? Is Tioga Pass open yet?
Enjoy the ride! :)

Stevej2001
04-12-2008, 10:06 PM
I'm coming from the west-- the road is open all year except during/after blizzards. All the roads in the valley are torn up right now.

maldoror
04-13-2008, 03:11 AM
Great story and nice picture.

kennedy1989
04-13-2008, 04:22 AM
wow.
i love the detail u put into that.
now im envying your 5 series, and heres me with my puny 1.8L 3series.
one day...
wow i wish i lived in the US :P
that photo is astonishing... the best over here is probably something about half as gorgeous as that.

peakpro
04-13-2008, 07:38 AM
great read and ride...

thanks

Stevej2001
04-13-2008, 08:37 AM
wow.
i love the detail u put into that.
now im envying your 5 series, and heres me with my puny 1.8L 3series.
one day...
wow i wish i lived in the US :P
that photo is astonishing... the best over here is probably something about half as gorgeous as that.

Actually, the picture was easy it take-- taken from a parking area. The moon was a lucky break.

I've been planning an Australian vacation-- perhaps in the later part of the year. Don't tell me there isn't something beautiful to photograph!

As for your 3 series, I suspect that's even more fun to drive than my 5. What impressed me most about my car was how well it turned. I'll bet yours is even better.

Synaps3
04-13-2008, 12:40 PM
I've been thinking of paying for some time on a track with a professional driver to really learn where the limits are on my car. I don't have near the performance boundaries a good 5 series would, but I'm betting I dont even push the limits of what I have.

BM2W
04-14-2008, 07:45 AM
Yer skrewed now, you'll never be happy with a lesser car again!!!:bigpimp:

Re; Improving Skills - join the BWW CCA and start attending track days withyour local chapter - very cost effective and BMW focused

Congratulations!

Stevej2001
04-14-2008, 06:20 PM
Yer skrewed now, you'll never be happy with a lesser car again!!!:bigpimp:

Re; Improving Skills - join the BWW CCA and start attending track days withyour local chapter - very cost effective and BMW focused

Congratulations!

I did join the BMWCCA, but I don't see myself racing. How do I improve my skills with just the desire to be a better driver?

Z4 Steve
04-15-2008, 10:29 AM
My first drive in a BMW was when my wife picked me up in our new E46 325i when I came home from Okinawa in 2002. Yosemite is very nice.

bobby13
04-15-2008, 11:19 AM
Interesting story and a great picture. Thanks

BM2W
04-15-2008, 05:08 PM
Steve, most chapters offer several levels of training ranging from basic street survival skills & proper driving techniques on up to real hard-core racing, track days are not just for racers. Godd luck & happy motoring!:thumbup: