The Personal Website of Scott O. Kuznicki The Automobile
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Why the Automobile?

Owned - |2003 BMW 525i |1988 BMW 325is |1993 Shadow |The Extremely Disastrous Mishap |1985 Diplomat|
Loaned - |1997 BMW 328iA |Trucks!|

2003 BMW 525i

[ACHTUNG, baby!]

There is no question that the highly-acclaimed BMW 5-series has become the quintessential sports-luxury sedan.

2003 BMW 525i Photograph Gallery

Click on thumbnail for enlarged view.

[German Efficiency] [Clamshell vs. Conventional] [European-style clear lenses] [Compact and crisp . . .] [. . . and clean] [Lineage] ['Support Bag' and shovel]
Function follows form It's not O'fest . . . European clear lenses Clean look Cleaner look Lineage All the essentials

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1988 BMW 325is

[1988 BMW]

On Februrary 21, 1998, I purchased a used 1988 BMW 325is from a Pontiac dealership in Rochester, MN. At the time, the odometer showed 87,000 miles and the interior, paint, and mechanicals were in very good visible condition. The car needed suspension work, but for $6,500, I consider it the obtainment of driving perfection. This particular bodystyle, known internally at BMW as the E30, was produced from 1988 to 1991. Several models were available, including a four cylinder version (the 318i) and an all-wheel drive model known as the 325ix. The classic lines of the 3-series are still gorgeous today, proof that even German efficiency can be beautiful.

For an automotive enthusiast, vehicle ownership transcends mere utilitarian needs. Owning this car provides me with more than just transportation. It inspires. It lifts moods. It creates . . . joy. The straight-six motor creates a concert of sounds that please musical tastes because they are precise, mechanical, and in perfect time. Sensational driving dynamics provide accelerative thrills in two dimensions, while that same suspension keeps movement in the "z" axis to a minimum.

To experience the full effect, to better understand the fantastic power of postive motoring, head to Lower Wacker Drive in Chicago. Open the moonroof, lower the side glass, and accelerate. Go through first and second gears. Brake. Repeat as necessary. Listen to the sound of the engine. Become one with the clutch and the gearbox. Learn to live again.

BMW exemplifies thoroughness. The 3-series offers not only beauty and style, but utility as well. It cruises the rural freeways as easily as the city streets. Passengers can be coddled in comfort as the driver briskly slices through the chicanes of a backcountry road. In fact, properly equipped, this particular vehicle has even left the roadway for forays into territory normally reserved for sport-utility vehicles. The owner's manual in this car is a product of a past time when everything one needed to know was published in the manual. True drivers appreciate the charts indicating road speed against engine speed for all gears, even though they have memorized the data. The manual is a complete reference for information on all controls and components. A through list of power ratings, fluid capacities, and dimensions is included. The manual, like the car, is complete and unparalleled in the industry.

This particular vehicle includes the Sport Package (hence the "is" designation) and the rare M-Technic package. The M20 gasoline engine displaces 2494 cc and generates a peak torque of 164 lb-ft at 3950 RPM (222 N-m @ 3950/min). The peak horsepower of 167 (125 kW), delivered at 5500 RPM, has proven sufficient to propel the vehicle to 124 miles/hour and allows a cruise speed of 115 miles/hour at 5200 RPM in fifth gear. Average fuel consumption is 27 miles/gallon at 75 miles/hour and improves to over 30 miles/gallon at 50 miles/hour.

On January 4, 2002, I was involved in an accident. A 1988 Toyota Camry hit the BMW while I was stopped at the rear of a long queue against a red signal. Complete fault was assigned to the other driver, but he was not cited. The BMW sustained damage, notably significant body crumpling and corresponding unibody structure damage, the severity being enchanced by rust-frozen bumper mounts failing to absorb impact force. The estimate exceeded the maximum insurance payout of 80% of vehicle value and the vehicle was declared a total loss. Because of its age and Illinois law, I was able to purchase the car for $300 and have since placed nearly 40,000 miles on the car. It presently (January 2004) shows 204,000 miles. Significant mechanical problems likely caused by the accident include improper alignment and subsequent tire wear and a cracked fuel-filler neck. The blower motor has faulty bearings and generates excessive noise at all settings, but the free-flow ventilation system (controlled by three highly-intuitive sliding knobs) provides acceptable airflow and clear windows at highway speeds. Faulty fuel injectors cause hard starting and often poor fuel economy. I plan on driving the vehicle until a major mechanical component fails. However, I anticipate the braking system will reach component lifespan, necessitating vehicle replacement before any catastrophic mechanical failure occurs.

1988 BMW 325is Photograph Gallery

Click on thumbnail for enlarged view.

[Grand Rapids, MI] [Unopened WI 29 near Wittenberg, WI] [Platteville, WI] [Platteville, WI] [Wildcat Mountain State Park, Ontario, WI] [Wildcat Mountain State Park, Ontario, WI] [Goodhue, MN]
325is aerial Oncoming! Dodge RAM power! Properly secured? Left side view Front view Front 3/4 view

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1993 Dodge Shadow ES V6

[Shadow - 1997]

Chrysler has made a few small cars and even had some made for them over the years. Some will recall the tachometer-equipped Omni while others think of the Mitsubishi-built Colt. The Shadow (Plymouth Sundance) is an excellent example of a small car that offers big-car features. This 1993 Dodge Shadow ES V6 was nearly fully equipped. It had cloth trim everywhere that was prudent, reclining seats, and tight seams with hard-to-find screw holes, a rarity in the small-car market. As expected of an American car, the engine generates good low-end torque and allows brisk acceleration with a pleasing exhuast note. The brakes come up short and result in longer stops under spirited driving conditions. I had to replace the transmission near the 60,000-mile mark and at the time of the vehicle's destruction, I had placed 36,000 miles on the car.

Informal drag races against a 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier with radio-tower-light-synchronized starts proved to us several times that the 141-hp Shadow ES V6 4-speed automatic and the 120-hp Cavalier 5-speed manual had virtually identical 0-40 with the Cavalier a little quicker off the line. Torque, of course, is the reason the 171 lb-ft wielding Shadow had a harder time getting the edge without leaving chunks of radial tire on the road. The manual tranmission is the sole reason the Cavalier is able to perform so well in comparison. It is unlikely that I would ever consider purchase a vehicle with a four-cylinder engine and an automatic transmission.

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The Extremely Disastarous Mishap

[Shadow - Driver's Side]

This is the original, unedited text as it first appeared in 1997.

In case it wasn't entirely noticeable already, this hill is huge. That's why Craig and I decided to attempt to set a new Land Speed Multiple (LSM) on Crystal Lake Cave Road just south of Dubuque, Iowa off U.S. 52. We went down to look at the cave office, but they were closed. As we were going back, I theorized that a 5.0 factor could easily be achieved on this hill, seeing as how we routinely ran it at 75 m.p.h. already. It didn't take much and we were on the U.S. 52 (south) end ready to head in. I accelerated to a speed which will remain unpublished. At the bottom of the hill, I began to slow down. I estimate that at approximately 80 m.p.h. the left front wheel, which had a nasty habit of doing this on occasion, locked up and I began to skid towards the left shoulder. Unfortunately, I wasn't thinking thoroughly enough and I began skid correction while the brakes were still applied. When I let up on the brakes, the car went into a clockwise spin. The rear wheels slowly (actually, it only took a matter of seconds, but we're talking parametrically here) became perpendicular to the centerline of the road. I brought the wheel around to the left to bring the tail back in line, but it never quite happened. I saw a power pole coming and realized that I was going to hit it. It came up so fast I didn't even have time to think that my car would most likely be destroyed. I remember hitting the pole and a brief white blur. Then I remember what seemed like a white, fog-like smoke clearing, although it wasn't. The airbag never did go off - it was a side impact. Once I realized what had happened, I also saw sparks flying from the downed power line. I think I heard a pop when the power line went, even though the line itself didn't actually snap. Craig and I assessed our injuries. To our surprise, neither of us was injured. It took me several seconds to realize that I didn't have my glasses on and neither did Craig. They had flown off our faces due to the force of the impact. Craig exited the car and I crawled out of the car through the passenger side. I remember grabbing for the driver's side door handle and realizing that there was no chance of getting the door open when the handle was in the wrong spot and was not moving, besides.

A walk to the Crystal Lake Cave office turned up no telephone. So, naturally, we headed up the hill since climbing hills in heavy work boots is always fun. The work boots (at least for Craig) were part of our truck test drive - they were supposed to help us look authentic. After climbing the hill and realizing that most nursing home residents are more in shape than we were, we proceeded to walk to the nearest house. Luckily, some dud[e] was just coming home from work. After making some phone calls (police, message to friends at school), we waited for a ride. The guy offered us a beer (super intelligent!).

We got a ride from the Dubuque County Sheriff's Deputy to a gas station where one of our friends picked us up. He issued me three citations: Speeding (70-20), Failure to Maintain Control, and Reckless Driving. After writing a letter to the County Attorney, I was able to have the first and last citations dismissed, leaving me with the not-so-damaging (and $230) Failure to Maintain Control ticket.

1993 Dodge Shadow ES Photograph Gallery

Click on thumbnail for enlarged view.

[Shadow - Driver's Side] [Shadow  - Passenger Side] [Crystal Lake Cave Road] [Shadow at Wrecking Yard]

1:  Obviously, this is the driver's side of the car. How many cars wouldn't spin completely around upon breaking a power pole in half?
2:  The passenger side of my car was relativley undamaged. The right speaker in that cargo cover is toast. Those Blaupunkt speakers featured a market-leading large 27-ounce magnet.
3:  A view to the southwest on Crystal Lake Cave Road shows U.S. 52 barely visible 1/4 mile "down". The path of the left-front tire is clearly visible, as is the yaw angle of the vehicle during the final portion of the slide.
4: Craig and I are standing in front of the car that had taken us to Chicago twice, to "Tomah", Milwaukee, and Green Bay.

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1985 Dodge Diplomat SE

[1985 Dodge Diplomat SE]

This car was my dad's first new car. He purchased it new in October of 1985. The Diplomat showed 185,000 miles when I traded it for the Shadow in September of 1995. The Diplomat's well-designed body and interior, coupled with its 318 cubic-inch V8, make it one of the best Chrysler products produced in the 1980's. The engine produced ample power for moving around town and the fuel mileage produced by the luggage-laden vehicle on long trips approached 30 miles/gallon. With a purchase price of $10,000 13 years ago, it's hard to justify paying $30,000 for comparable luxury today.

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1997 BMW 328iA Sport - The Great River Road Loaner

[1997 BMW 328iA Sport on top of the M]

This vehicle is a service loaner from March of 1998. It was the first BMW service loaner I used.

The "A" in 328iA signifies automatic, as in automatic transmission. Normally, an automatic transmission is unispiring at best, and a power-sapping engine anesthetic at worst. Prodidgous amounts of power (206 hp) make this BMW quick, and, despite being plusher and more isolated than the '88 I own, it's still a communicator with the road. The automatic, unlike most, holds the car in or below the gear selected up to and including the rev limiter, in defiance of current trends towards electronics that are more intelligent than the operator. It also features a manual mode, which prevents it from downshifting out of the gear selected. Coupled with traction control that simulates tire chains, it is, like the '88 before it, "The Ultimate Driving Machine."

It's no secret that loaner cars get abused. However, in the realm of mechanical equipment, abuse is a highly subjective condition. A BMW, among other marques, is a solid-as-a-rock, built-to-run-hard tank. The car does phenomenal things because it was designed to. Mechanical engineers wouldn't set the rev limiter at 6750 turns if they didn't think the engine wasn't going to fly apart at that speed (given a finite amount of time) and civil engineers wouldn't post recommended curve speeds without taking a conservative (and legally impermeable) course of action. Design limits and safety factors ensure that mere users are largely unable to inflict excessive damage on equipment under relatively normal operating conditions. BMW vehicles have been extensively tested and designed to exceed owner expectations on a daily basis and routinely operate well far outside of what one would consider "normal" operating conditions. Abuse? Not at all. Enjoyment? Now that's hardly subjective.

Great River Road Loaner Photograph Gallery

Click on thumbnail for enlarged view.

[1997 BMW 328iA Sport at JCT US 20/IL 84] [1997 BMW 328iA Sport on top of the M] [1997 BMW 328iA Sport on top of the M]
The Great River Rd Compact muscle! On top of Platteville's M

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[1993 Freightliner]

Craig and I enjoy the occasional "exotic" vehicle experience. Add my friend Jess, and his Chicago-area Lamborghini dealer idea, and it's obvious that there is a serious love of driving going on here. Craig and I drove the Freighliner 425 9-speed pictured at right in September 1997. Two hours later, I destroyed my car. Even though we only drove the vehicle around the parking lot (and got into 8th/top gear at a lugging-chugging 10 m.p.h.), it was enough to get the testosterone flowing. Trucks are awesome.

Getting on the road with a truck is, of course, our main objective. Jess and I discovered that all one needs in Wisonsin is a Minnesota Class "C" driver's license. Who says the C doesn't stand for "Commercial"? We were able to get a 1995 Freighliner 390 10-speed out on WI 11 near Shullsburg. Jess confirmed that the salesman's tout of a 72-m.p.h. top speed was conservative and I confirmed that even beginners can make 300 degree turns without even thinking about the power lines hanging over a street that could not even remotely be labeled "Truck Route".

I have held a Minnsesota Commercial Drivers License (CDL) since 1998 and obtained the Illinois CDL in 2000. I currently maintain endorsements for tanker, hazardous material, and double-triple, and operate with no mechanical restrictions.

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