Motoring: My Worst Car - The BMW that wouldn't grow on me

Stefan Buczacki's BMW 525

IT WAS around 12 years ago that I bought my worst car, and the longer I owned it, the more I grew to hate it. Surprisingly it was a BMW. Admittedly it was not a brand-new model, but then it was hardly on its last legs either, being just a couple of years old.

I mistakenly thought that a BMW was the way to go after several years of owning Volvos, which were really boring me to death. BMWs were becoming fashionable cars; more than that, everyone was telling me how reliable they were and how brilliant all these models were to drive.

Unfortunately, I never seemed to drive the car that much.

On the 5 series there was a warning panel mounted in the middle of the roof that would alert the driver to a failure. Every time I switched on the ignition I tried to guess which warning light would be blinking at me next.

Electrics, brakes, engine, gearbox - you name it, it broke. Reliability is something that I must have in a car. That sounds obvious, but it really is not too much to expect from such a prestigious and expensive car. The BMW let me down constantly.

The worst occasion was when I had parked it at Heathrow. A few days later when I got back to the airport I could see fluid all over the ground. It turned out to be clutch fluid. I probably should not have driven the car, but I was so furious that I managed, with some difficulty, to stick it into gear and then drive home. Later I stormed into the BMW showroom where I had bought it and ranted very loudly about my Friday afternoon car.

There was a German official from head office in there. All he did, though, was to bristle and turn red. I had to get rid of that car immediately after that. I could not have owned it for more than a year, but it was probably the worst motoring year of my life.

That experience put me off BMWs for ever. Since then I've only ever bought Jaguars and have not had a moment's trouble. It even persuaded me to indulge in my schoolboy fantasy of owning a Jaguar XK 120 sports car, so that I could have lots of open-topped fun on sunny days.

BMW's loss has obviously been Jaguar's gain.

Stefan Buczacki's 'Garden Roadshow' is on UK Style every Friday at 10pm

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