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Published: February 26th 2012
2012 BMW 128i
I must've gone to this website 1000 times checking the status of our car as it was being built.
1979 was a very eventful for year for me: it was the year Gail and I started dating, the year I took my first trip to Germany and the year that I discovered BMW.
My future wife and I were keeping our office romance a secret from our co-workers when a large group of us took advantage of a three day weekend familiarization trip by Pan Am to visit Germany. Up until then I had had absolutely zero interest in anything Teutonic. I had enough of things German when I spent two years taking German III in high school and yet another semester at that level in college. But to my amazement that short trip introduced me to the best beer and wine I ever tasted, great food, centuries of history, amazing people and some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve ever seen. Back in high school I often snickered at my German teacher’s constant ravings about how Wunderbar the Krauts were: how efficient things were in Germany, their more “civilized” tastes, their free-thinking approach to life and lifestyles, and their superiority in technology and engineering. It turned out that he was absolutely right. In the intervening 34
We were taking our mothers on this trip. One day it dawned on me that things might be a little tight in this smallest of BMW models. I became obsessed with the fear that we might arrive in Munich bags in hand only to find that our luggage wouldn't fit in the trunk. One day Gail and I went to our nearest dealership with measuring tape in hand. They allowed me to record the trunk dimensions. I passed that info on to my father who constructed this mock-up so we could see if our 21 inch bags would fit. They did.....barely.
years we’ve returned to Germany at least 25 more times.
A short time after that weekend in Germany Gail and I were driving around Alexandria, VA when we spotted a sales lot full of beautiful, dignified cars. This was the first time I ever stopped to look at BMWs. Until then my ideal car had always been something British. Something like a Triumph, MG or Lotus. I still recall looking at the window stickers on those $8000 Beemers thinking “They are just a little bit out of my price range”. For the next 30 some years that has always been the case when a particular BMW model caught my eye. It was as if they looked at my paycheck to decide just who they wanted to exclude from their elite club. Still I dreamt of one day owning my own BMW. Maybe even picking one up in my favorite country.
Lest anyone think the Lunds finally won the lottery when they took the plunge and finally acquired a brand new BMW please read the following paragraphs:
I spend far too much time on the computer. Instead of edifying my brain by watching TV, I entertain myself surfing the Web. One night I went to BMW’s website and built an imaginary vehicle. To my great shock BMW’s website added up all my options and gave me a quote far cheaper than I ever expected. But that was assuming I put down a rather significant down payment.
The next day when we were having Gail’s ageing MINI serviced we walked across the dealership lot to the BMW showroom. We impulsively sat down with a disinterested salesman and told him what we had discovered on the internet. He confirmed my numbers by building the same car with the same features on his PC. Since the MINI we planned to trade-in was in the shop he could only give us a ballpark figure on its value. It was almost $2000 less than what my research suggested. He then explained the many advantages of leasing: lower down payment, lower monthly payments, and more incentives from BMW. We never keep our cars more than three years which is the standard term of a lease so why pay more for a car we wouldn’t keep anyway?
No pressure from the salesman who didn’t seem to think we were BMW material anyway. As we were leaving the office promising to consider the deal he was offering, he added “And you might even consider picking it up in Germany”…..
“Huh?” We did a quick 180 and returned to his desk. NOW we were very interested. Mr. Salesguy informed us that European Delivery was available to lessees. He explained that BMW would allow us to pick up the car in Munich, drive it up to two weeks over there, cover all shipping and tax, pay our insurance, discount our airfare and offer us an amazing delivery experience at their headquarters. We would also save 7%!o(MISSING)n the price. We would be able to take another German vacation and not have to pay for a rental car.
Gail didn’t want to give up her convertible MINI while there were still hot topless days in the air, so we postponed our plans for a few months. I also figured that in the meantime we could reduce our financial obligation on her MINI and get a bigger residual on our trade-in.
Too make this long story shorter, that first salesman never called us back so we shopped around a little. The other dealers we spoke to confirmed all my numbers and proceeded to get us ready to sign the necessary paperwork. But when it came to our trade-in nobody was willing to give us anything close to the Kelly Blue Book or Edmund’s values found on the internet. I printed-out internet ads showing comparable used cars being sold by dealerships demanding significantly higher prices, but they wouldn’t budge. They were offering us approximately half of what those same dealerships were selling the cars for.
Eventually we found our way to Prestige BMW in Ramsey, NJ. By now I had a thick folder full of internet evaluations of the MINI’s worth. We had a price in mind and told each other that this dealer had to meet our monthly payment demands or we’d walk. Somehow Prestige gave us a price on my dream car that was $30 a month cheaper than our current MINI payment.
Part of the deal required us to trade-in Gail’s MINI months before we left for Europe. That worked-out nicely since we had a backup vehicle to use in the interim. Prestige paid off the MINI’s remaining payments and we cancelled one car from our auto insurance. Win win.
The next three months were a somewhat annoying and aggravating period of little or no information. When we were given our pickup date and time in Munich it was too early in the morning for us to get from the airport into BMW Welt in downtown Munich. I asked to change it by a few hours. My salesman said it couldn’t be done (3 months in advance) and that we should arrive a day earlier. Impossible. I went over his head and called BMW headquarters and got them to change our time to later that same day. I never heard anything from Prestige or BMW unless I contacted them first. I expected the same kind of pampering from BMW that MINI had given us when we ordered a car from them. MINI continually sent emails, updates and even presents while we waited for that car to be built. I expected more from BMW. More than once I thought about canceling the deal.
When Prestige told us we had to add the new car to our insurance before we left for Europe we wondered if they had any clue about doing European Deliveries. Why would we pay for insurance on a car we didn’t possess yet and one that was insured by them while in Europe. Travelers’ Insurance thought they were nuts too. They refused to insure the car until we picked it up back in the States. Eventually we worked things out in our favor.
In retrospect I guess I was simply too impatient. Once things got rolling everything was even better than imagined. The day we went in to sign our final paperwork at Prestige, they couldn’t have been nicer. The customer lounge is unlike any other dealership I’ve ever visited – leather sofas, snacks, coffee and tea, free cold drinks and computers at the customer’s disposal.
One other pre-departure snafu threatened to derail our plans: German and Austrian law now demands the use of snow tires by all vehicles during the Winter. An enterprising German company will rent European Delivery customers snow tires during the car’s time in Europe. I booked the service and paid in advance. A week before we took off they informed me that they were closed the day we wished to return the car because of Mardi Gras. Gail fired off an angry email asking why they took our money knowing that this would be a public holiday. They offered to come out to our airport hotel on our last day where they would pickup the car, take it to their shop to swap tires, then deliver it to the shipping company for us. Gail was initially reluctant to hand over our brand new car to strangers, but an email from the company president and a promise to transport us to the airport in their van made things right.
Needless to say the three months leading up to 15 February were among the longest I can remember.
Tot: 3.293s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 28; qc: 97; dbt: 0.1137s; 3; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 2;
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