Safe car for transporting kids?


My husband wants to purchase a 1983 BMW 528e with low mileage to replace his 1973 BMW Bavaria because he will begin dropping our kids (5 years and 2 years) off at school in the fall. I always hear Tom and Ray tell their listeners to transport their kids in “modern” cars. Would they consider this a modern car? It’s newer than the Bavaria and has three-point seat belts in the back. Any thoughts?

Nope, ‘modern’ for kid transport means (to me) 2000 or newer, with a full compliment of safety features. The '83 is not much different than his '73, except for the belts.

… That said, the drive to get a “modern” vehicle for kid transport safety is kind of a misguided one. The number 1 safety system in any vehicle is its driver. Don’t hit stuff, and drive defensively so that other people don’t hit you, and you’re very unlikely to have a wreck.

Or, put another way, my parents transported me in “old, unsafe” cars my whole childhood. They didn’t even have airbags when I was a kid, and shoulder belts were front-seat-only. I survived, and so did millions of other kids.

True, but also don’t deceive yourself that an '83 is much of a safety upgrade…

Certainly not!

Good lookin’ car, though.

Oh yeah, I like 'em, especially the 533i version. The 528e is ‘slow’ for a BMW, and was slow even when it came out. But mpg concerns were high back then.

Thanks for you input, texases and shadowfax. I look forward to hearing from others too. All the driving is going to be in the city, so fender benders are what we would have to worry about most. Of course we will have our kids in the back seat in car seats with 5-point harnesses.

The past is a very different country, car safety wise. I was put in a carry cot in the back (trunk) of Mum’s Renault 4 as an infant. We used that car even when the anchor points for the front belts had almost rusted through.

At a minimum you need ABS, and a decent crash test rating. A 1997 + 5 series BMW is a brilliant car that should be a compromise.

Newer cars are always the safest way to transport kids. If safety is paramount and not just a side issue, the minivan is the best in family transportation. Safety and convenience are superior to almost any other vehicle, especially for young children in car seats.

Well, my husband got all the receipts from the owner of this BMW. He says that it’s had an unfortunate life, so I think I’ve been saved by the car – at least until he finds the next pre-ABS car!! Thanks MarkMcG for your suggestion. Does anyone else want to weigh in on this discussion?

The newer the better. Don’t limit yourself to one brand, either.

Hubby doesn’t like ABS? Does he think that he can control braking better than ABS? If so, he is wrong.

I didn’t say either of those things, jtsanders.

“All the driving is going to be in the city, so fender benders are what we would have to worry about most.”

Not true. Being T-boned at an intersection by somebody running a red light or stop sign is really what you need to worry about, and that’s NOT uncommon in city. Side impact protection has increased GREATLY since the 80s. I would only look at '97 or newer 5 series, like @MarkMcG said. That model is, to me, the best of them all.

Almost any newer vehicle…size matters…IF they’ll just wear the seatbelts.
Nothing tiny, mid and bigger.

My kids wear their belts at all times and even speak out if they’ve forgotten in the first few feet of driving.

What I’ve found odd is the friends that come along seem to not know this…or maybe it’s because they’re away their parents they think they don’t need to …
BUT I’ll drive forward a few feet and slam the brake to an instant stop…my kids laughing cuz they know it’s comming… and one of them ( I don’t even have to ) tells the guest kid…"DUH, belt !!’’

Texases, very good point. That’s a very helpful comment. This is the kind of information I’m looking for. I really know so little about cars and the technology that has improved car safety. Should I suggest we look for a car that was made in 1997 or later? Or does it depend on the make and model?

There’s no single year, newer is better, but for a guy suggesting an '83, well, I don’t know how to address that. Maybe go buy the Consumer Reports buyers guide, read up on safet issues. But hubby doesn’t sound like a ‘CR’ kinda guy. To get any more specific we’d need to know things like budget, manual vs. automatic, and what he might find acceptable.

Well, you are correct that he isn’t going to go for CR’s top pick necessarily. He’s an architect and has very specific design likes and dislikes. He was about to buy a new
Audi A3 TDI (this was my vote because of the gas mileage and safety) or a Volvo C30, but then had a change of heart about buying a new car. Personally, I’d like him to buy a new car to drive the kids in. My opinion matters to him, but I want to be fair and do my homework on the topic of car safety. I don’t want to say no to an older car just because it’s an older car. So here I am, ignorant about cars, trying to inform myself on car safety.

Does he think that he can control braking better than ABS? If so, he is wrong.

Respectfully, how do you know that?

Is anyone able to? Are you guys serious? Alright, so I asked him, and he said “Of course not. But I can do calculations faster than a computer.” So is the point here that we should drive a car with an ABS if we are transporting kids? That’s my preference.