Our Cars: Andrew enjoys his BMW

BMW1I’ll keep the BMW for a month or two, I’ve been telling myself. A fairly sensible car that I’ll get shut of when I find something else that takes my interest.

One eye’s been kept on the classifieds, looking at everything from a yellow Saab 9000 convertible, to Ford Scorpios and even Austin Metros. Yes, my tastes are a little unusual.

But, I’ve got a bit of an issue. Not that the car’s gone wrong – it hasn’t, surprisingly. It has, however, started to worm its way under my skin.

With the weather improving I’ve been more inclined to spend a bit of time doing odd jobs on the E34. Nothing major, just little things that the previous owner neglected to do while it was hardly used for the last few years.

Odd jobs

For a start, I changed the thermostat, fixing my temperature issues. The car now gets up to temperature within a few minutes of setting off in the morning, so I’m no longer shivering all the way to work. I think the pollen filter needs changing too as the heater’s still not great, so I’ve ordered one of those too.

Then I changed my wheels. I decided two of my new set needed a quick spray of paint as they were flaking a bit – but that turned into sanding them down, painting them in primer, giving them several coats of paint and finally lacquering them, as well as ordering genuine BMW badges for all four wheels (at 40% of the cost of the tyres and wheels).

I’m pleased with the results. Sure, a professional could have done a slightly neater job for £50 a wheel, but as someone who usually avoids practical stuff I’m very chuffed. OK, the wheels do transfer bumps into the cabin slightly more than the old ones, but they haven’t ruined the ride like a set of 17″s would have. And yes, the Matador tyres do require care on the throttle mid-corner when wet but they’re teaching me a lot about smooth driving.

After some wheel success, a trip to the local 99p store resulted in an impulse buy of cans of matt black spray paint. All the grey bits of trim that were showing their age have now been painted black, as has the chrome grille surround. This has already started flaking – I might sand it down and try a better job, or maybe have a go with PlastiDip.

Pistonheads Sunday Service

Apart from that, I’ve also spent far too much time washing and polishing it than you’d expect for a sub-£600 banger. And on Sunday, I headed to Silverstone for the Pistonheads Sunday Service. It was probably the perfect Sunday – stunning weather, good mates and an eclectic mix of cars from a Zetec-engined Morris Minor to a Ferrari Enzo. There were two highlights of the morning – firstly, being taken for a spin in a £350 E36 BMW 328i (have I mentioned that bargain Beemers rock?), and secondly an unexpected visit from my old MX-5.

All in all, I’m really starting to develop an affection for the old BMW. Yesterday, I finished work promptly and as it was a nice evening, took the scenic back road route home from work, for the first time since before Christmas. Sean had been saying just how good he thought the straight-six engine in the BM sounded so I turned the radio off, wound the windows down and enjoyed the sound of a few revs. With the sun coming down, it was a real feel-good drive. No traffic, random Hertfordshire country lanes, and not driving hard at all. But enjoyable.

Hopefully, I’ll still be as happy when I report back next time.

Costs since last update

£138.45 (new windscreen, thermostat, paint, Rain-X and wheel stickers)

Costs so far: £872.44

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