Like any fine consumer brand, BMW automobiles are subject to an occasional false story, urban legend or malicious rumor. Usually, the more highly respected a brand name is, the more potshots are taken at it by competitors and malcontents. We suppose it's fun to tweak the nose of the big boy on the block. It’s also important to set the record straight from time to time.

For instance, there was a rumor that the shift paddles on certain BMW models were only for show. The models in question have manumatic shifting – you've the choice of using the automatic transmission or to do clutchless up and down shifts. We think the rumor got started because some customers tried to paddle-shift while in automatic mode. If you aren’t brain-damaged, you should realize that shifts are electronically controlled in this mode. We think that drivers who made this complaint would be happier with a used Chevy Chevette or some other loser car.

Another scurrilous rumor was that there was a shortage of E36 parts, such as a BMW fuel pump. Nothing could be further from the truth. Obviously, some other manufacturers were jealous of E36 sales and tried to sabotage the brand by causing needless worries. We think such competitors are pathetic. We think you know who we mean, nicht wahr?

How about the old canard about an “emergency brake” that fails to prevent a speeding car with busted brakes from crashing through a guard rail into a fiery death spiral before hitting the canyon floor and exploding. Sure, it can happen from time to time, especially in California. To blame the “emergency brake” is completely wrong, because it's actually a parking brake – its purpose is to keep the car from rolling when parked. Neanderthals who complain about this don’t have the slightest understanding of how a car is designed. Probably deserve whatever happens to them.

Finally, there was a wild rumor that some BMW engines were being assembled in China by slave workers. We seriously doubt this could be true, although we've never been to China and aren't aware of its labor practices. But no self-respecting company would ever admit to such a business practice, whether true or not. Folks who spread this type of rumor are completely baffled by international trade agreements. Would be better served by concentrating on improving their own lives, not worrying about what happens or doesn’t happen in China.

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