Originally Posted by lthai
I'll bet you 90% of the time when a person purchases a BMW, the only thing they think about is status. They don't care about performance numbers or the driving dynamics, they just want to tell the world that they are successful and have money. And obviously to show the world that you are rich and successful, you have to have a new shiny car. No status buyer would dare own a pervious generation 3 series because they fear that owning an older car will lead others to classify them as a lower class. This is what makes older generation cars seem unattractive and forgotten to most people. The car itself is not bad looking, people make them out to be due to their negative impact on one's perceived social class thus making them forgotten.
You summed it up... At least for the "prestige" models. I think this is the reason that 5 and 7 series BMW's depreciate much faster than 3 series, and M models hold their value best. There are more people interested in owning previous generation 3 series or M models. These are the enthusiasts that are into driving and wait for the car to come down in price.
When I bought my E39 5 Series, I only looked at manual transmission cars. Think about it: Status poseurs buy automatics only, enthusiasts want to drive.