1989 Ferrari 348

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Los Angeles Times
HERE'S THE STORY, here's the rap: 1989 econocars aren't yet on tap.Until humble metal starts coming in, I'm rollin' the gold, which ain'tno sin.

This week, for instance, we display a BMW 535i that likes to play. Itruns really fast. It's truly a beaut. You want it? Hah! Better bringsome loot.

I'm talkin' class, I'm talkin' style; I'm talkin' a car that'll makeyou smile. But while you're grinnin' ear to ear, you'd better slow down,check out your rear. See that dude all dressed in blue? He's writing aticket -- this one's for you.

Complaint: There's always something to remind you that perfection iselusive. Yeah, yeah, I know: That rap is proof. But the 1989 BMW 535i'sautomatic-door-lock system is another. The thing can go haywire, whichit did one Sunday morning after an extended drive.

I simply couldn't lock the driver's door. I turned the key in theprescribed manner: Nothing. I sat inside the car and tried pushing downthe door-lock button, but it wouldn't budge. I tried locking all doorsthrough the central locking mechanism on the front-passenger door. Onlythe driver's door remained unlatched.

Yes, I read the owner's manual-- before and after the mini-ordeal. But nothing contained therein gaveme a clue about what was bugging the stubborn lock.

Finally, I resorted to the old bang-the-TV-fix. I opened and slammedthe driver's door several times. I turned the key in the door lock afterthe last slam. Whattaya know? It locked, and locked consistentlyevermore.

Praise: The beauty, feel, and general craftsmanship of the car arebreathtaking. Some cars shout, "Luxury!" The 535i has more class. Thisfour-seat, rear-wheel-drive sports sedan is comfortable with money. Itsall-leather interior is subtle, well-stitched. It has myriad extratouches -- foot heaters for rear passengers, automatic climate controlfor everyone, sumptuous rear seats with a wide, comfortable center armrest, antilock brakes, an airbag on the driver's side and -- ca-chunk! -- the quiet of a library cubicle when the doors are closed.

Head-turning quotient: Very attractive. Parking attendants fought forit. A kid working at a Wendy's drive-up window was so taken by the car,he almost gave me hamburgers free of charge.

Ride, acceleration, braking and handling: The 535i makes pleasantwork of tight traffic. It also moves with finesse on high-speedhighways. Credit the four-wheel-independent suspension and a perfect50/50 car body weight distribution.

Acceleration is terrific. Anyone needing to go any faster than thisshould rent a racetrack. Power comes from a 3.4-liter, inline,6-cylinder engine rated 208 hp at 5,700 rpm.

The 535i's four-wheel-disc brakes are excellent. The antilock brakesystem works well in panic stops.

Mileage: About 21 to the gallon (21-gallon tank, estimated 431-milerange on usable volume), combined city-highway, mostly driver only,mostly using the "economy" mode of the electronically adjustab leautomatic transmission.

Sound system: Eight-speaker, electronic AM/FM stereo radio andcassette with disc player (mounted in trunk but with remote operation),by Pioneer. You never heard it so good.

Price: $43,600. What options? Be serious. Dealer's invoice is$35,315, according to Automobile Invoice Service in San Jose.Transportation charge is $325.

Purse-strings note: If you have to read this, you can't afford thiscar.



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