I read a case study in graduate school that cited Harley Davidson with having the highest brand equity of any product (basically the premium they are able to charge because of the value of their brand).  It’s probably true – is there a brand that is tattooed on more peoples arms (among other places)?  The brand that I am most loyal to is BMW.  My love started when I was 15 and inherited an E30 1986 325es with 120k miles.

In May, 1998 (my Junior year of high school) the car got wet. I got caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic in a low area of town during a freak storm and the road flooded and water rose halfway up the windows. Needless to say the car was totaled.

I spent a good portion of that summer taking the insurance money and rebuilding the car.  I knew very little about cars but had to learn quick. I meticulously stripped the car down to its frame to let the car (and wires) air out and labeled every part.  I purchased a used engine for $600, repair manuals and too many other parts to list.

A few months later (mid-July) I re-installed the last parts, put the key in the ignition and turned it.  The car started but was quickly engulfed by what I thought was smoke. Turned out it was just steam from the water that was still in the catalytic converter.  I took the car for a drive around the 494/694 loop and somehow made it back home.  My love for BMWs was solidified.  Although the car was not initially dependable after the “transplant” it went on to be a very reliable car and when I sold it in 2004 with 225,000 miles it was still running strong.

BMW has an incredible community of enthusiasts who more than balance out people who drive them because they like the logo.

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