-The Drive-Well, I have to be honest I never intended to wait this long before I posted an update. However, since things are going slowly I am going to fill everyone in on what happened to my car purchasing decision.

For those who followed what I was doing, I wanted to buy a German automobile to replace my much loved 2001 BMW 330i. I knew already by that point that I wanted to get another German car after my experiences with that wonderful vehicle, and I was pretty sure I was going to avail myself of European Delivery, which is a rather fantastic perk of buying a European automobile where you can save some money on the car, and get to drive it around Europe for a couple of weeks.

So as evidenced by my test drives I was narrowing the field down a bit and trying out a few different cars. So what happened next? Read on to find out.

The truth is, I think my decision was pretty much made the first time I drove the BMW M3. The car was an experience almost like no other I had encountered before. It handled wonderfully, and rode nicely. The engine note was sublime, and despite being just about the least well equipped of all the cars I drove, there was a connection with that automobile that I can’t deny.

I did a second test drive that didn’t get written up in an M3 coupe with the Dual Clutch Transmission, and despite being a bit of a “manual bigot”, as evidenced here, I got back to the showroom and placed my order.

My order was for a 2011 BMW M3 Coupe in Interlagos Blue. This car would have the EDC (button-push, electronic suspension), navigation system, iPod/iPhone integration, dual-clutch transmission and a sound system that MSRP’s for $1800… and worth every penny after I heard it. This car was booked for a September 20th, 2010 delivery in Munich at the BMW Welt (a report I intended to publish on this very site) and I eagerly began planning my vacation. A pretty sizeable deposit was paid (lesson learned; small deposits in future) to secure the car and act as a partial down payment and I started to write my “European Delivery Process” article. Hell, I even sold my car because trade-in is difficult with Euro Delivery.

My plan was to arrive in Munich on the 19th, and on the 20th pick up my car and take the BMW factory tour. From there we were to travel South through Southern Bavaria and up into the Alps through the Stelvio Pass. From there we would descend to Lake Como and spend a few days relaxing with the new car. Finally, we would drive the car all the way to Paris where we would spend some time before dropping the car off and heading to Ireland to visit with my family. Plane tickets were purchased, hotels were booked, time off work was booked and we were ready to go. Or at least I thought so.

When I first received by build sheet a few weeks later showing the specifications of the car that was going to be built for me, I noticed that both EDC and the DCT were missing, but the price was exactly what I had agreed on with the dealer. A couple of phone calls and some text messages ensued between myself and the dealer, promises were made to resolve the problems, more text messages ensued including the dealer sending me a specifications list that was nothing like the build sheet, and finally when I had enough I told them to cancel my order. Their response was to tell me that they would cancel it and return my deposit.

What then ensued was weeks of the dealer avoiding me. I called several times and got put on terminal hold, or got just hung up on. No return calls were made, no text messages from the previously quite chatty dealer. Nothing. After a couple of weeks of this I contacted BMW North America and had them contact the dealer to try to resolve the situation. Now, for the record I think the service I received from BMWNA was absolutely phenomenal… A+ customer service. Anyway, they got through to the dealer and got them to promise a call back, which they did that afternoon and said they would process the cancellation and refund request and that I should be able to call back in a day or two. I dutifully thanked him and went about my business for two days.

That was on the Monday. On the Wednesday I received another call from the dealer where he acted like the original call on the Monday had never happened, and that he understood I wanted a refund of my deposit. Note that this was the same guy I’d spoken to on Monday. When I had responded in the affirmative, he then proceeded to inform me that I couldn’t make changes to my order any more because the car was already in production. I then got off the phone with him and got on the phone to an attorney.

I attempted to salvage my Euro Delivery, which was actually when I test drove the BMW 335is at a different dealership (writeup here). A few days later though after the article had been published, that deal fell apart because of the ongoing issue with the M3 that was already being built for me. One of the rules of ED is that you can only pick up one car at a time.

So, with my vacation plans apparently sunk and my car buying going nowhere in an hurry, I purchased instead a 2004 BMW 545i (manual transmission) to keep me mobile through the winter when I can’t ride my motorcycle. As it turned out, I was able to salvage some part of my vacation because my flights were planned to connect through Dublin. Instead of spending 10 days in Germany, Italy and France in my shiny new BMW M3 Coupe, I instead ended up spending a week in Ireland in a rental car.

This is where I am today: The lawsuit continues at the usual pace of these things in the USA, I am still driving the 545i (which I may review at some point for this site), and between plane fares that were paid and never used, the deposit that was sunk into the car and the money paid to my attorney I am quite significantly out of pocket on this deal. My attorney seems pretty sure that the case is a pretty clear cut case of bait-and-switch and general underhanded business practices and so I continue to give him input as he needs it for the ongoing lawsuit.

For all the distaste this leaves in my mouth for the entire process, I do see a silver lining to all this: As we are all aware the world has changed much since last September, and as gas prices in the USA inch closer to $5 a gallon I am actually grateful in a way that I don’t have that 17-19mpg monster known as the M3. As much as I would have loved it, it just wasn’t to be. I am biding my time now waiting until the lawsuit is finished before I make any decisions on another car, and I feel good about that. It buys me time to analyze what I want out of the car that I will buy, and it allows me to write a whole new series of articles as I narrow down what I want.

The further silver lining is that I have somewhat decided that a European Delivery is no longer a feature that matters as much to me as having the right car. I was approaching it entirely the wrong way around. As a result, my next series of articles will be much more wide-ranging than my last. I will look at what I need from a car at the time I go to buy, look at what’s out there and go from there. Already a few are in my short-list of cars I want to look at, and life changes have meant that a coupe probably isn’t in the running (though these are voluntary life changes and thankfully none of them involve a child seat!)

So for now stay tuned for the start of my next series of articles. But in the meantime I will try to publish a few things that interest me. I just felt somewhat soured on the site by the experience with the dealer, but I have decided now that the site needs to live, deserves to live and will continue regardless.

My thanks for everyone who has subscribed and read my posts. I will endeavor to provide you with more articles in the VERY near future.

 

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