I debated about this thread but thought some might find it interesting to help them out with their car, so I'm throwing it in here. When I picked up my "97" 528i from the dealer, the price was dropped at purchase because the car needed some "tender loving care." Often people will pass over purchasing a car that with just a little bit of money thrown at it will look terrific again, so I'll go into what I did.
First, I was prepared to buy the car at $24,800 from the dealer but they knocked the price down to $22,500 so you can guess what went through my mind - "crazy money" to help upgrade the auto.
Cosmetics - Outside the car
First on the outside were a couple of not very large dents - about the size of a half a dime - but very noticeable: there were three of them. So for about $150, Mr DentStar came and took them out - the area is virtually clean, you can't tell anything was there.
It isn't unusual to have lots of nicks on the hood from small rocks from trucks and cars. So I went to the best auto body recommended by my local BMW dealership and followed their recommendation. They removed the hood and repainted it - Montreal Blue - and re-clear coated it and the side panels to get the side panels and hood to match.
Rest of outside of car
There were many noticeable scratches on the paint job, some requiring touch up. With the paint match from the hood, paint was used on a couple of obvious locations. The remaining scratches were buffed out.
[Note: This turned out to be an excellent investment. I bought a 2002 330xi about a month latter and my son scrapped the side mirror. Richmond Auto Body in North Vancouver fixed it for free - buffed it out - and touched it up with paint left over from another job and gave me free touch up paint from that job. Yet another week latter, I discovered the bottom of my air scope was torn on my 528i were some one had driven it up on the curb - I had seen the damage but didn't realize it was damage at the time of purchase - and Richmond Autobody charged me a case of beer to fix it]
Cost: $650 + case of beer
Inside of car:
I was recommended Ambassador Upholstery Restoration (in Vancouver, BC) for my next work by my local BMW dealership and service department. I had a couple of "problems."
First, my steering wheel looked "worn." The outside of the wheel looks a bit on the used and worn side. The chap spent some time cleaning the wheel with Lexol and then sprayed it black. The steering wheel now looks new.
I have gray leather interior. The drivers seat on the side was looking very worn, I guess the past owners pant belt (black) slid against the seat and left a mark and wore down the leather. It didn't look good to say the least. I tried Lexol cleaner and it did remove the black, but it took it down to the leather without the gray dye. When I showed it to the chap at the shop, he said he could dye it back to the original and happened to mentioned briefly that he dyed entire seats for $200. I said "sold" and asked him to re-dye the front seats, which were looking dirty as well as having the one bad spot. When I picked the car up, the seats looked brand new.
The back seats were cleaned up by him after he worked on the front seats, the came out looking brand new.
Nicks in the foam around the car interior
There were a number of nicks in the foam, some at the door area where the seat belt buckle had jammed in between the door and the frame as the door was closed, there were at least 12 serious nicks of these sorts. All were gone when he was done. There were some on the passenger sides as well, but less - they were gone as well.
There was a serious large knick at the bottom of the driver door panel with some of the material missing. When the fellow was done, the panel looked new.
The area where you put your hands in on the door to close it had paint missing. He said the previous owner must have had long sharp nails as they removed the paint in several locations on the driver and passengers side. The repainted these areas and they look new.
[You should note that if you develop a hole in your leather or a tear, it can be welded and the blended area will be invisible to the eye - he showed me several jobs he was working on and some of the welds he had done]
I replaced all the speakers with Boston Acoustic speakers and the "boxy" sound that came with the original sound system became a wonderful sound to enjoy.
So I put out some money but I was repaid with a car the looks new both outside and inside and is a pleasure to listen to as well. Oh yes, I added the CD player at time of purchase.