I bought this car three years ago with 143K miles and I have 205K on it now. I have replaced the driveshaft twice and the heater core. I recently did the exhaust, which was expensive - $1300 for the cat back. I am handy with cars and do most of my own work. This car has not one rattle and very minor rust after 19 years! What a fantastic car!
Purchased my Bimmer a year ago from the 2nd owner with 130k miles on it. On a scale of 1-10 it was an 8.5 due to the previous owner not driving it very often. I mention this becuase I want to give this vehicle a fair rating. The 535i is supposed to a well built vehicle and I believe it be. I had to replace quite a few small items to make this car fully functional. Once that was completed, this 17 year old car was like new! The handling is exceptional and the responsiveness is great. It is a pleasure to drive on a daily basis. I would buy an older 535 any day of the week over a lot of newer cars. I'm glad to see BMW started making them again because they are truly wonderful.
Handling, powerful engine, nice eight speaker stereo system that was ahead of its time, and the on-board computer.
This car has served me very well in the past 3 years. I used to commute 100 miles every day and it didn't miss a beat. I put in a rebuilt head, which it didn't really need, but other than that I have 50K on it since I bought it and it hasn't taken any money to maintain since the cylinder head rebuild which cost me 3K. Other things to go bad are the thrust arms, remedied by installing urethane busings at a cost of $200.
Straight 6 engine is awesome in city driving, great handling, comfortable.
It really needs 40 more horsepower but in that case you can get the v8 540i. Couldn't affort it and maintenence is way more expensive so I live without 250 HP.
This was our first BMW and served our business well for the first 4 years with just the right mix of speed/handling/comfort for long drives along with the luxury suitable to impress when taking clients around town. Since then we have had 4 other BMWs, but this one remains my favorite - especially on road trips. Very reliable, but when something needs repair or even scheduled maintenance, the costs always seem outrageous. My problems have been electrical (CPU sword board twice, radio controls introducing static) and it's on its 3rd transmission (once at 95,000 and again at 175,000 miles). Reasonable gas mileage (18 city, 25 hiway). Interior and exterior are awesome even after 16 years.
Handling and comfort at high speed on-board computer for trips, wrap-around cockpit, styling, CD changer.
Completely different car from my previous Honda Accord. It's superior to just about any car out there overall - smooth, elegant, comfortable, reliable, and the performance is amazing. Even after 16 years, if I go to a new car dealership and test drive some high-end model, I drive back home and think to myself how much better this one is. I was initially hesitant about it due to its age and mileage (and reports of subpar BMW reliability), but it's held up as well as my Honda, looks way better and is far more comfortable. What really sold me was feeling like I was driving 40-50mph, and seeing that the speedometer showed about 95. Too easy to get speeding tickets.
Best is the combination of Cadillac comfort (needs good tires to do it justice, though) with Miata handling. The manual transmission (very rare on these, I hear) works wonderfully with the inline-6. It looks fantastic - black on black - and is one sexy beast with good window tint.
Poor fuel economy (18-21), no rear headrests. Only the dealership is willing to work on it. Some squeaks and rattles, though less than many much newer cars. The 93-95 wider grille is much better. Typical 150k+ problems, mostly cosmetic. No aftermarket CD player fits it without expensive rewiring.