So, where to start? I had an all BMW weekend this weekend and I'm still basking in the afterglow of it all. First off, a special thanks to Jon Shafer and Cutter Motors for an awesome Bimmerfest 2002! This year's event was more special for me since I took delivery of my '02 530i the day before. She had a mere 90 miles on her as I rolled into Cutter Motors on Saturday morning for the event. I logged over 1000 miles in 3 days and I couldn't be happier with the purchase and delivery experience. More on that below.
A buddy and I flew from San Jose to Santa Barbara on the first morning flight out to take delivery of my new 530i from Cutter Motors. This is my second E39 from Cutter as most of you know. Jon Shafer and Bruce Aiches have got the market on Customer Service! Bruce picked us up at SBA around 9am and gave us a spirited ride back to Cutter in a nice A4. Jon was waiting at the door as we pulled up to the front and just inside was my stunning Steel Blue 530i. Before I even made a single pass around the vehicle to give it a look, Bruce was tossing me the key. We hung out there for a couple of hours catching up and doing the paper work. I shopped for a nice BMW cap and M5 coffee mug (maybe next time?
) at the Boutique with my $25 gift certificate and we were on our way. The onboard navigation system made easy work of finding the Brown Pelican restaurant for lunch, which was great.
A little pool time at the hotel and a trip out to Los Olivos via 154 for the afternoon, then a quick install of the CD Changer (5 minutes with 4 screws when you get the Nav system), and a hardwire of the V1 in preparation for the Group Drive the following day.
Bimmerfest, need I say more? This year I made a point of meeting some of the board members I recognized from pics of their cars, and I met some folks strictly by chance. RobertA, Sayjal, MarcusInSanDiego, DanB, Agent99, Beewang, KrispyKreme to name a few. It was great to chat with you guys in person and put a face with a name! I got some nice audio install ideas from Marcus while I was checking out his install.
After the impressive showing of BMW pride, we had roughly 140 cars in the caravan this year, an unofficial guestimate, we headed down to San Diego. A decision to take I5 proved to be the worst one of the weekend as traffic was insane. I'll take traffic in San Francisco over that LA stuff any day!
An early San Diego wake-up to pickup my Marine buddy and head over to the Auto Hobby Shop at Mirimar to do the Rogue Engineering Short-Shift and WSR install. Sayjal Patel met us there to watch the install and take video. He's doing the same work on his beautiful '01 530i this week sometime.
We were there a total of about 2 hours. This being my first SSK install, I took my time to make sure everything went well. The install was quite easy on the 530i. Everything went exactly as I expected it to. For the record, I was able to put both the inside and outside washers on the WSR at the connection points to the shifter and linkage. Everything fit perfectly. The lift made easy work of the underside steps as I didn't need to crawl under the car. Well worth the $6 I spent on the stall rental and the 8+ hours of driving I did to/from.
Sure, I could have paid a shop 1 hour labor to do it for me, but that's just not cricket! I prefer to get intimately familiar with my machines and doing work on them is the best way, IMO.
We departed San Diego around 2:30pm and pointed the 530i towards San Francisco Bay. A dinner stop at Stearn's Warf in Santa Barbara proved a nice break. A beautiful scene as the sun set to the West. While dining, some Sea Gulls must have recognized the Cutter Motors plaquard in the license plate frame and decided to soil my new baby on purpose. I wish I had some battery power in my camera to capture that one. Obscene!! So, I ended up giving her a spritz with the detail spray from my Bimmerfest goodie bag before taking off.
528i? What 528i?
Well, this being my second E39, of course I've been comparing them since taking delivery of the 530i. I previously enjoyed a 1999 528i (Sport/Prem, Heated Sport Seats, Split-Fold Rear Seat, Xenon, Moonroof) as you all know. I loved that car, everything about it in fact, except the factory stereo and the OEM tires - both of which I changed out after taking delivery.
My thoughts on the 530i? Much improved in all the right places. First, here's what I got:
2002 530i, Sport Pkg, Premium Pkg, Xenon Headlights, Navigation System, Steel Blue with Black interior. Mods so far, CD Changer, Hardwired V1, RE Short Shift and WSR. Mods on the way: Rondell R72 wheels, 18x8.5 mounted with 245/40-18 Bridgestone S-03 tires, /a/d/s/ sound system upgrade (speakers, amp, and sub), Drilled out CDV, and possibly the continuous armrest upgrade.
M5 Steering Wheel
- fat, smaller diameter, improved ergonomics, just plain sweet! I don't know if BMW tweaked the steering response to be quicker, or if the steering wheel has something to do with it, but the car seems to turn quicker than my 528i did.
- the extra 32 horsies in the 530i are very noticeable. Off the line and especially in the 2500-4000rpm range. Since I'm not quite passed the break-in mileage, I have not exceeded 4k rpms, but I will as soon as I get there. I think there is a beast within that's just waiting to be let free. I will say, freeway cruising in 5th at 80mph has the power necessary to pass anything with a simple push of the pedal. The car gets up and goes and makes quick work of passing - something my 528i lacked in certain situations.
- I am a gadget-man at heart and couldn't resist the updated system in the 530i. So far, I am not disappointed I got it. It's slick, fun, and very helpful. I cannot help but compare it to the Acura CL-S system a friend has in his car. It's a close second because it lacks a few of the slicker features of the Acura system, but it's by no stretch a crappy system as some make it out to be.
- Surprisingly, I think the standard sound system in the 530i is better than the one I had in the 528i. It's not awesome, but it's not unlistenable either. I'm sure once I install my /a/d/s equipment it will be much better.
- I believe the 530i Sport Pkg rides a bit better than my former 528i did, though I can't be sure of that until I get the new wheels and tires mounted. My former S-02PP tires were certainly harder than the OEM Conti's I'm riding on now. We shall see.
- I also think the 530i is even quieter inside than my 528i was. I'm not sure if the engine is quieter or if there's more sound insulating materials in this car, but it seems quieter to me.
RE Short-Shift with WSR
- I must agree with the others that this mod is a must-have for anyone with a manually shifted E39. The height of the shifter is considerably lower and the throws are much shorter too. I think the 1-2 shift is a bit notchy, but the rest is very smooth. Maybe in time this will smooth out. Effort is slightly higher than the stock shifter, but gives the car the sports-car feel it deserves. As for noise, absolutely nothing new has been introduced. It's just plain SWEET!!!
I have only 2 criticisms of this car. 1) I can't seem to figure out how to get it to drive less than 80mph, and 2) after pressing the accelerator to the carpet, I cannot get this $hit-eatin' grin on my face to go away!
Bravo BMW for improving an already excellent automobile! I can't wait to get the 18's bolted on so I can take her canyon carving with confidence. The OEM Conti's, from past experience, are not up to that challenge, but the S-03's I'm sure will be. I'm also anxious for the drilled-out CDV to accompany the excellent RE SSK and WSR I'm enjoying now.
Thanks for reading this lengthy recap of my weekend. I'll have pictures up from Bimmerfest, the short-shift install, and detailed shots of my car within the next week or so. Also look for a new audio upgrade site covering the 530i install in the near future. I've got a lot of work to do!
Drive fast and take chances!!