It’s time for Progress with the Wine Tour! Real Progress!

Before we knew it D-Day had arrived. After giving the car a wash the night prior to the big drive we had a couple of beers placing bets as to whether the car would even would make it to Dover before we retired to our beds. Just to prepare us for the trip we took plenty of LHM (about 5 litres worth!), some engine and gearbox oil, many many tools as well as ourselves and our baggage, obviously.

With an early start during the next morning we were surprised that it managed to make it to Watford Gap! With such a great outcome we decided to grab some breakfast. After all, we had pretty big sights in store for a car that had covered less than a 100 miles in 3 years! It’s about the small steps at times!

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Just Ignore the Wings!  It’s all fine!

It’s fair to say that it at least looked the part!  OK, the wings looked a little off colour and showed every single ripple with the filler now gone.  I call it the Cellulite look.  But there was no time to hang around.  With a coffee drank and breakfast consumed it was time to crack on.

On the road the car seemed to be performing fine.  The engine pulled very well, the suspension as a passenger seemed very comfortable and even the Chinese voltage regulator in place of the original points based setup held a constant 14 Volts!  Maybe we were worrying too much!

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This would be until we hit passport control at the Channel Tunnel.  The car died without any warning.  It’s fair to say it was not an ideal place to break down!  The car tried to cough back into life but eventually it was fine.  It was traced back to a faulty connection to the fuel pump relay!  The old girl was showing us some promise!  Without further ado there was nothing left to do short of boarding the train, as Ocean Colour Scene once said.  OK, it was something like that.

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With the sun out, the temperature being firmly in the high 20s and low 30s there was nothing else left to do but to hit the road and settle down to a 120km/h cruise down to our first destination.  With the car looking like it would be fine it’s fair to say that we were all fairly content with the situation!

 

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With that in mind we pushed on to our first destination with me taking the keys behind the wheel.  So, how was it?  The steering is certainly strange.  Maybe there is an issue with this car but the steering refused to self centre at all.  Do a tight right hander and the steering will stay there!  However, the car just glid down the autoroutes effortlessly at 120 and 130km/h without a problem.  The column gear change is a strange one to use but soon becomes OK to use after a bit of practice.  The body roll is comical but it’s forgiven with its frankly untouchable ride quality ; not much seems to ride like a Citroen DS!  It certainly felt like the right car for the trip!

But where would I stop the car?  That’s easy.  The one and only Reims!

Open Garage Sessions (2 of 106)

There may not be much left but there is something certainly quite special about this place!  The spirit of the place is still very much there.  May that be a local putting his foot down hard past the pit garages if it’s not a tourist.  There never appears to be a moment when there is no one about anyway!

While we were progressing nicely there were reminders still present that our car was an old girl and with the risk associated with it!  This gorgeous Maserati illustrated that point. Unfortunately his ride back home was on a low loader.

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Open Garage Sessions (17 of 106)

With that in mind it was time to go to the hotel to retire and to give the car and us a rest.   It was now a test to see if we or the car would crack first.  After all, this was a wine tour.

Open Garage Sessions (20 of 106)

How to Get a Car Ready for a French Wine Tour!

I left the blog last time with a few hints as to what the Citroen needed in order to get it ready.  On paper at the start it looked easy.  Very much like a political party’s manifesto.  Back in 2014 it looked like all the car would need would be:

  • The handbrake sorting ; the springs were fitted incorrectly and the pads close to being fully worn
  • Suspension leaks sorting ; the car would lower itself quite quickly before and left a trail of LHM wherever it was parked!
  • Seatbelts fitting ; The static belts up front would go to make room for period themed inertia reel items.  Furthermore rear seatbelts would be fitted
  • Change the tyres ; It had 15 year old Vredesteins all round ; it wanted the correct but expensive Michelin XVS tyres on it ; the tyres designed for the car by Michelin.
  • Sort out the chromework.  In particular the interior door handles, and the Pallas spec boot hinges ; these were badly pitted with the former having zero chrome left on them.

It sounds easy eh?  With a car that looks this good on the floor you would think it would be:

 

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As the tinkerer and restorer of us know, even if the car does quite a few miles without the aforementioned issues life is not quite as easy as you think, especially when it is put into practice.

Remember the wonderful D-Jetronic system I mentioned?  With things being moved around and wiring only the French have the ability of understanding after being left the keys to the wine celler it was a source of mant headaches.  This ranged from the ECU (yes, it does have one!) not powering up or staying on the entire time!

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Yup, for reasons unknown to man the French decided to colour the connectors and not the wires?  Why?  Maybe they ran out of the coloured wires.  But maybe it is a hint to simply how cash strapped Citroen were during the development of the DS yet somehow keeping the dream of something out of the ordinary alive. Even getting a battery that did not short itself out on the battery clamp was a mission!

If only that had been the only issue.  The suspension would require more work.  Manydifferent spheres were fitted to the DS over its life.  This car however seemed to have spheres from all sorts of Citroens on it!  This would be yet more time and money put towards the correct parts. At least with a new steering rack, spheres, regulator and pipes fitted the car would stand a chance of performing well.

 

But this old Citroen had a bigger issue hiding beneath its skirt, or should I say the underseal.  Rust.

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Yup, beneath the carpets and underseal the car was not a pretty sight at all, despite being for the best part solid as the rear inner wing/chassis rail and rear panel shots show.  Worse still, the front wings after soda blasting looked more like they belonged in the team rooms rather than the car.  Some painstaking reconstructive surgery would soon have them being good once again along with a new panel and other metalwork carried out in 2017:

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Oooh, look, a new rear panel!

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In the words of a Magpie, SHINY!!!

With the Citroen slowly becoming less rotten it certainly looked like it was getting there.  OK, maybe that is an exxageration but you have to look at the positives at times!

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After a lick of paint once the suspension parts were replaced it was all beginning to come together:

 

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With the wings back in place, the boot tidied up and the wings back from the paintshop all was beginning to look well for now. With the Michelins now on the car and the tinwork being correctly painted what could possibly stop this resto?

Even the lights were working well!  The DS had its iconic eyes back.  Eyes so wonderful that they have been the trademark of the DS.  Not even them looking a little like Dame Edna’s glasses after she has had a hit of acid with the turning lights cannot shake their beauty.

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However, not even the darkness could hide the shoddiness of the paintjob on the wings. And man they were bad.  I guess when you are attempting to ready a car weeks before it hits a 1200 mile roadtrip compromises have to be made:

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Before we knew it it was a day before the 1200 mile trip.  How many road tests had the car had?  A few.  Up and down a dual carriageway nearby.  What could possibly go wrong?

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One Way To Do a French Wine Tour, DS Style

Now and again a number of ideas seem great when they are idly mentioned. Where a couple of beers are involved the ideas seemed to be freer flowing amongst friends. It was of little surprise in that case that the idea of touring a wine region of France seemed like a great idea. This would not be achieved by simply flying over either or driving whatever car for the trip. Oh no. A special trip would demand a special car. In this case it would be a friend’s recently acquired Citroen DS21 Pallas.

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It looked so good!

Yup, a friend of mine a few years ago decided to buy a rather lovely yet iconic Citroen.   Initially you wonder what the fuss is about. This would all change after a ride in the car, where the serene ride quality won us over by the spades. Speed bump up ahead? Not a problem. Even the engine which has a reputation for being legarghic seemed acceptable. That was thanks to this being a rare ‘Injectione Electronique’ model with Bosch D-Jetronic injection.

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Was that extra 30BHP worth getting a car with Injection for?

 

That said all of us were aware of the car’s issues. It had a couple of leaks from the suspension system, and like any old car it was temperamental. This would prove to be the case as the owner tackled many parts of it with some bits baffling him as well as a classic car repairers.  The steering rack for example was not like a normal item when it came to replacing it!  It seemed to be buried deep within the car with its share of fixtures shearing and so on!

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As we found out they seem to work best on the correct Michelin tyres ; this was shod on very old Vredesteins.

As time went on by the regions for visiting were also discussed. Burgundy seemed to fit the bill very nicely, with the reservations being put in place.

Towards 2016 things seemed to look up but the scale of what my friend was up against did start to dawn on us!

 

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You’re only meant to blow the bloody door off!

Even I ended up helping out.  That was me pretending to be a drunk French mechanic on the job.  As like anything French from that era everything was a little different.  Most drums I have seen only require adjustment from one place.  In the case of a DS that is 4 places per drum!

 

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Fast forward to 2017 and the car was still not quite ready! The injection system was playing up as was the charging system. If that was not enough there was Chromework of the car with specialists awaiting refurbishment. All of a sudden the scale of what lay ahead seemed to dawn on us!  With the wings still being in primer a month before we were due to leave it hardly filled us with confidence!

 

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We even wondered if our backup car would be a Ropey DS that we spotted in Amsterdam!  At least that was a runner!

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Little did we know my friend’s DS would end up getting the wings fitted after being repaired in addition to even getting an MOT.  Surely with a first time pass days before the trip all would be well?

 

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A Year In the Life of a BMW E46 M3 Owner

I left my last E46 M3 instalment looking as if I had the right car albeit with a few flaws.  Over the course of the year which has just passed I would discover whether this was the case.

I drove it as it was for a month before I would make a start on rectifying the issues

Initially I sorted out a number of the flaws.  The first of which was to get away from the car sounding like a jet turbine with its semi stuck viscous fan!

Fan Coupling During

 

With the car in position I made a start on removing the fan. I initially believed the internet and tried knocking a spanner with a hammer.  I figured that this probably was not too good for the bearings.  It also didn’t help that the water pump pulley was slipping on the belt!  With the correct fan tool and 22mm spanner later I had the coupling loose.  Sometimes the proper way is the best way as well as the easiest.

However, removing it would throw up a surprise ; the fan coupling was not original to the car.  It was a BERU item of a slightly different design ; a further look would insinuate that it was for a normal E46 but it was tight!  Was I really wasting my money for nothing?

 

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Two couplings, but which is the correct one?

Had I really thrown away £90 on a coupling I didn’t need?  With that in mind I went to fit the new item.  After that I put all of the plastics back together and restarted the car.  On the face of it it seemed like it was a waste of money!  The coupling was still noisy!  That was until a few minutes had passed ; the car was quiet for the first time! With an extended test run later on it seemed that the car had become more responsive as well as having the added bonus of lowering the engine oil temperature!  Result!

Fan Coupling New

Then it was time to tackle a clunk from the back ; the ARB drop links.  These however were not gone as you may have thought:

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Yup, they’re broken!

But then I had the challenge of removing the aforementioned items.  Initially I thought “I know, I’ll change them in situ!”  Little did I know that this would become a nightmare and eventually more work!

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And the tool award goes to…. Not the tools!

It was fair to say that my attempts were futile;  Sure I had removed the bottom broken part but then I still could not remove the top half!  The anti-roll bar was preventing it from dropping down!  Did someone say BMW 1 – Chas Nil?  It certainly felt that way!

On the bench I went to put the ARB into the vice and pull it ; All I did was to snap off the remaining ARB!  Wasn’t I clever eh?  It seemed this is meant to be the Bentley manual way of doing it as well.  But I was not going to give up that easily!  Oh no, it’s the British spirit and ingenuity after all!  Enter stage left:

With this tool the remains of the ARB was off in seconds ; why didn’t I just use this the first time?

With the roll bar given a quick clean it was time to fit on the new BMW drop links. Here’s a top tip (in the Edd China voice…). When you put the drop links back on, put on some rubber grease. It really helps over WD40. With some of the red stuff on the drop links slipped back onto the ARB as I put down onto the drop links in around 30 seconds tops.

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Speaker Rectification (4 of 5)

The clattering and clonking was much reduced!  With that in mind it was time to start on a job I had been putting off for some time ; the rear exhaust mounts.  Would I be lucky or would the exhaust studs snap?

Yes, You Can Have Part-Worn Tyres on Your Car! How? With the Following Steps

For the last blog I suggested that Part-Worn tyres could be worth a shot under certain circumstances. Whether it is bad advice or simply making people more aware of what to look for is up to you. In this article I will explain how to consider the above points:

  • What damage does the tyre have?

If you see tyres like the above being sold by a vendor run a mile from them!  No ifs or buts.

This is a serious one.  Having punctures in the centre tread pattern of the tyre that have been repaired correctly are fine.  However, if:

-There is loose rubber on the inside of the tyre
-Deep cuts to the sidewall (potentially an MOT failure)
-Perishing of the rubber
-Puncture or puncture repairs beyond 75% of the centreline of the tread.
-Bulges and deformations anywhere on the tyre

Walk away.  It’s that simple.  The tyres in the above will are likely to have been weakened and make your car a liability.

  • How much tread does the tyre have?

You should never buy a tyre with this much tread! Kojak had more hair on his head than this tyre had tread!

This question is a case of “How long is a piece of string?” If you are a low mileage user you may think “Aha! That cheap 3mm tyre looks like a bargain! But consider this. The minimum legal limit for a tyre in the UK is 1.6mm. What does this mean? Your 3mm tyre isn’t the bargain you think. After all:

3-1.6=1.4mm (of usable tread)

Will 1.4mm of tread last you quite some time? I doubt it. Can you really be bothered to be at a tyre fitters all of the time? I doubt it.

With the above in mind it pays to see what the level of tread is worth. If you have an idea of how your brand of tyre (or others) wear down you could obtain a figure for the true cost as follows:

True Cost per Milimetre = Cost of the Tyre /mm of tread left

In a number of cases when you check those figures the value is not as good as it initially seems.

Bear this in mind. New tyres have between 7 to 9mm of tread on depending on the tyre so anyway between 5.4 to 7.4mm worth of tread.

  1. How old are they ; are they newer than 5 years old?

The 3 or 4 digit code that says it all! This tyre? Built on the 26th week of 2015

This point is often overlooked with people mainly going on the visual condition of tyres. To many people tread on the tyre equates to how much grip the tyre has.  It is an easy one to read too!

Look out for where it says DOT on the tyre.  At the very end of the string of numbers and letters as follows:

DOT DA08 JM1R >518

It’s the numbers in bold that you want.  If it has a triangle as above the tyre was made after 1990 but before 2000.  If there are just 3 digits and no triangle the tyre was made before 1990.  In either case you should not fit such a tyre to a car.  The first two numbers are the week the tyre was made.  The last digit is the year it was made  In the above case the tyre was made in the 51st week of 1998.

Now for tyres made after 2000:

DOT DA08 JM1R 2514

These tyres have 4 digit codes.  In this case the tyre was made in the 25th week of 2014.

You may think “Oh, but I only have a classic car, the old tyres will be fine” or “My (or your wife’s etc.) car isn’t that fast. There is no point in shelling out for new or good rubber” No, not that kind of rubber folks….

The fact of the matter is as rubber gets older it does not grip as well as when it was fresh. It’s one reason why you won’t see many people selling tyres older than 3 years old, and generally, they tend to discount the tyres at this age.

While I’ve had some interesting experiences on old tyres, including a wayward Frenchie and a Triumph Stag that just wanted to go sideways here is an interesting thought.

A post shared by Charanjeet Randhawa (@chasr85) on Mar 23, 2017 at 10:51am PDT

 

Classic Car Weekly did an article on new tyres vs. old. The car? An MGB GT. Hardly the first word in performance. The tyres? The first set were Pirellis that were 10 years old but still with plenty of tread left on them and crack free. The other tyres I think may have been middle of the road tyres.

The results were surprising. With the Pirellis on the car took 30% longer to come to a halt from 30MPH compared to the modern rubber? Do you still think old and cheap rubber is the way forward? 30% is a lot no matter how you look at it.  If someone hit someone you knew in town below the speed limit with old tyres would you still be thinking the same?

  1. Have they worn correctly?

Barely legal (stop it!) and worn unevenly. Even with more tread this would cause strange issues on the car.
This made the car very interesting on the handling front even in the dry!

This question is always an interesting one.

In two cases I bought wheels with tyres. Until I changed the tyres the car had odd characteristics ; On a Peugeot 106 GTi it was a near death experience driving it back and on a Clio 172 it just wanted to go left until I switched the tyres.

The reason. They had worn due to poor alignment on the previous car. If the tyre has not worn perfectly even do not be surprised if you have issues.

Evenly worn part-worns are out there but you’ll have to be patient.

  1. Are they actually worth buying compared to a new tyre?

It looks legal! With 3.5mm is it really worth buying? It barely has 2mm of usable tread left!

With all of the above factors you’ll be in a position to gauge if they are worth buying. Bear in mind you will need to pay to get the tyres fitted unless they are bought from a tyre dealer. That’s on top of petrol or delivery money too. It all adds up.

Don’t just try your local large tyre chain either. Do some searching online. Asda Tyres, Formula 1 and Black Circles all give competitive prices online and allow you to establish a ballpark.   New tyres may be cheaper than you think!

  1. Are they stamped ‘PART-WORN’ if bought from a garage?

It’s not stamped before you buy it? Don’t accept it.

This is an interesting one. Over half the of the part-worn tyres being sold by tyre traders are illegal. Why? It is all down to a simple stamp. The stamp confirms that they meet the minimum standards set by the UK for being a part-worn tyre. That is that they have over 1.6mm of tread within 75% central region of the tyre tread in addition to being repaired correctly and with no other adverse deflects. These defects could include cuts and bulging.

If they haven’t been stamped part-worn have they even been inspected well.

Finally…

We hopefully have a better idea of what we need from a tyre, and what to look out for. Finding the right part-worn tyre can be hard and it can be worth just jacking it in and buying a new tyre.

Hopefully you are not scared of buying part-worns but are more informed of what to look out for and not top be duped into buying what may initially look like a cheap option on the face of things.

Now, time to grab that value beer that has been sat at the bar for a few hours….

BMW Searching Part 2

There was me leaving you folks on a pleasant ending. I had around 7 cars to evaluate. If I had been told correctly this should have been a dead easy! After all the adverts are always truthful right?

Enter exhibit A:

  • 2003 128,000 mile Manual in Silver/Black; £6750 being sold by a trader.
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Looks lovely eh?  Looks can be deceiving

Despite this car being at a local trader’s it was the cheapest car for sale. It was also the first car I saw.   You know the drill here. Give the seller a call and see what they say.   Sure enough I was told “it was in good condition for the year” and with no real rust to speak of. It did look nice in the photos too.

Upon going to see the car I knew it was a pup, even with it being one of the wettest days in May 2016! The shotblasted looking bumper that was going black complete with appalling front panel alignment, the rusty arches all round as well as the tatty and scratched interior all showed that! With the wheels being CSL replicas they looked great from a distance even they were kerbed a bit!

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The number plate screws may be rusty but that is only half of the story

Surely inside it would be nicer. Not a chance! Besides having an interesting smell as well as a sticky floor the interior looked very tired inside. What’s more the plastics were scratched to Kingdom Come. Had a cat lived inside this car or had one too many adventures being happening inside it?

Mechanically I thought “Maybe it won’t be that bad”. I was in for a disappointment. Shot discs were present all round! It even had aftermarket ballast packs. That’s before I get to the dash bathing me with error lights present. All would be forgotten as soon as I turned the key.

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Why not take a shot of the good corner?

Well, I say that, but it would take the assistance of a battery pack to fire up the old girl. My God it sounded lovely! All of the faults were forgotten! But you should never buy the first car you see, or the wise men tell you.

It did however have a nice stash of receipts to show the maintenance done.

However, stepping back into my clean Clio 172 which was a mint car in comparison had me asking myself “What the hell am I doing? Going from a good car to a wreck?”.  This car however did sell within two weeks of being put for sale.  I was not even going to offer him anything like £6k for the car!

It was time to move onto the second car. Maybe my luck would change.

  1. 2003 ’53’ reg Mystic Blue SMG, 111,000 miles £8500

This was the first car I saw for sale from a private seller. After seeing the silver shit hours beforehand it was easy for me to like this car! On first impressions it looked a lot better! It would also be the first time I drove an SMG ‘boxed car as well and see if the truth was as bad as people made out.  It also had a sunroof which oddly enough I wanted!

In short, it didn’t disappoint. The car did not knock at at all from anywhere and it held the road very nicely! The gearbox wasn’t as bad as I thought either. It didn’t pull as well as I expect but maybe I was expecting too much ; after all they have a very high revving engine and I didn’t quite take it to the redline!

But closer inspection of the car soon began to reveal the flaws. While the rear of the interior looked immaculate the front didn’t.

Further flaws became apparent on closer inspection.  Every panel had quite a bit of scratching on.  Despite the car being advertised as damage free the front bumper didn’t suggest that.  It clearly had a cheap blowover at some point (complete with concealed stone chips beneath the orange peel paint) as well a repair Stevie Wonder could have done better while drunk!  The discs also were as bad as the silver car’s and an advisory to bootTo top it off there was no service history (it was lost) and only 1 key.  All of a sudden this car didn’t look to be worth £1.2k more than the Silver manual.

But then I would come across what is said to be the daddy of all specs:

  • Laguna Seca Blue and Black Manual Coupe. 112,000 miles £7950.

I do wonder if I was harsh about this car or that maybe I was simply a timewaster!

On the face of it the car looked superb in the advert. It had clearly been detailed to the hilt. With new discs, backbox and subframe reinforcement it looked like the ticket!

A phonecall would change that. Despite being described as immaculate the owner spoke of rust on the front wings that you had to get onto your hands and knees to see, and that the interior was more tired than the photos made out on closer inspection. What’s more he had a couple of warning lights come on now and again due to the wrong profile tyres being on the front. Oh, they were Marangoni Zetas. Seeing that it failed an MOT on the boot floor cracking badly also put me off ; maybe it needed a complete floor in reality if it was bad enough to fail an MOT.

That and he was not open to any offers even before I raised the question. When he declined to send me further WhatsApp photos of the interior and exterior regarding the areas he mentioned I decided that the trip to Northern Ireland may not have been worth it after all to be disappointed.

It did however sell after a price drop to £7500.  Funny, he was saying he wouldn’t lower his price.  If he was willing to negotiate we may have talked a deal.  NI is quite a way to go just in case the car is a pup.  After all I had just seen two and was dissapointed!

  1. 3. Phoenix Yellow & Black Nappa Manual Cabriolet with 75,000 miles.  £9,000.

To most people this should have been the car I should have bought.  It had to most people the driver’s gearbox and sensible colours along with less miles by quite a way.  I was going to view it but unaware at the time a friend bought it.  it was owned by an ex-BMW mechanic and it had 4 good tyres and new discs.  When I initially saw it I thought happy days!  That impression would not last.

Firstly, the bodywork.  It was not shiny at all, but that can be corrected easily.  Despite having the least amount of miles the front seats had not worn as well as you would expect. Dare I say it, the seats in the 111k Blue/Grey SMG car were better bar a bolster being collapsed in a strange position (right at the top, as if someone was pushing on it)).  While I know it’s a convertible the AC can be handy during the rain or winter, espeically in a convertible.  It didn’t work.  All you got was alarmingly loud hiss from inside the car.  Then I came to drive it.

The way people speak of the manual is that it is amazing and not comparable to the SMG.  They were not kidding on the last part!  The manual has a long throw, is not the most precise thing and at times reluctant to go into gear.  If you read online you’d think it’s as good as an MX-5 with gear changes.  Are you feeling the love?  Me neither!

It later turned out that his back box was held on with zip ties (I am not joking!) and that his engine had a few leaks all round from the rocker cover gasket, CPV and a couple of other areas.  Sure it was not a bad car but it was not perfect and not for me!   It was not for him either, seeing as it was sold 2 months after he bought it…

I also almost saw and bought the car below

  • 2001 Silver & Black Manual Coupe.  88,000 miles, £8900 from a trader

On paper this car looked good.  But the seller was surprisingly honest over the phone and even sent some shots over of the car to me.  It was good to see this and I almost went for it!

He was honest enough to say that there was rust on the car but he had performed Smart repairs on them.  After having rusty cars before I decided it was too big a risk to risk Smart repairs not rusting again.  That and the interior was as tired as the higher milers as were the discs from his vague description and more than the car that I would buy.  I was tempted but not at that price.

The others were fairly similar to the above.  While I didn’t settle on the best car IMO it was a good one overall.

Other candidates included the following:

  • Carbon Black & Red SMG Cabrio, 101,000 miles £7200.

This was tidier than most of the cars but it wanted discs, tyres, mirrors repainting, rust sorting in various areas.  It also had the the dreaded SMG cog light appear.  Interior was surprisingly good, probably the best I saw out of all of the cars.  The owner spent a fortune on servicing it, polybushing it as well as new arms, but he ran out of steam.

It seems I wasn’t alone in the struggle going by someone else’s search

Anyway, I digress. I started looking at the lower end of the market – after all it was meant to be a stop gap car, not something that I wanted permanently in my collection. Well, anything below £8k is an absolute dog – have seen 4 cars and all have rusty arches, tyres not fit to be drifted out, let alone be driven on, shagged and doddgy carbon fiber interiors, dubious mileage histories once the MOT history and service history was consulted. All had the subframes checked – funny, how it is not the subframe, but the boot floor which actually tears apart, and had SMG pumps giving “nice, long primes”….

One of the cars was actually a diamond in the rough, but I just could not bring myself to pay the full asking considering the amount of time needed to bring it up to scratch. Hence, unless you are prepared to DIY a lot, there are hardly any bargains left…

  • 2003 Mystic Blue & Grey Nappa Leather SMG Coupe.  122,000 miles, Private seller

By this point I was getting ready to sack off my search.  I came very close to throwing in the towel.  Maybe my Clio was that good a car!

The advert seemed honest mind you.  He said the car was good overrall but that the interior could use a clean.  Furthermore, it had 4 newish Falken tyres and a full service history.

The owner of this M3 was a pain to contact.  All of my voice messages went straight to his answerphone.  After contacting him through WhatsApp Voice calling (no I am not joking here!) I finally had a chat with him.  It sounded promising.  He said the bodywork had scratches on it, the interior was grubby and that the brakes were all new with genuine BMW parts.  It also had a full service done by Mobile Tune BMW in Birmingham.  Furthermore the AC system had been checked over and regassed in addition to the gearbox being checked over from top to bottom regarding the sensors where the stuff was taken apart etc.  I agreed to go and take a look.

It was refreshingly good in the flesh!  The bodywork had a real honesty about it despite being tidy.  Sure it had the odd touchup and and there but it was clean!  The interior at the front could have been better but it was good overrall.  The seats despite needing TLC were better than the other cars I saw bar possibly the 75k Phoenix Yellow car.  It drove well too but it could pull harder.  I noted that it wanted a replacement viscous coupling in addition to some next exhaust mounts.  It did seem to have some wedge thrown at it mind you!  The rear dampers were relatively new as were odd little bits around the car.  After some talking a deal was struck

After a while we came to a deal.  My fate was sealed.  I was now the owner of an E46 M3! But had I chosen a good car?  Time will tell.

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Finally part of the club!  But would I be smiling later on?

Yeah Mate, You can bag a Good M3 for £8,000. Really?

Don’t you just love people who claim you can own an object of desire for a pittance?  That the world is wrong and they just don’t know where to look?  This certainly seemed to be the case for me and my search of a car I have wanted for quite some time ; the BMW E46 M3.

With its individual throttle bodies, great looks and lovely handling it had me written over it.  Sure there is the question of image but who cares when you are having so much fun?

So, the budget.  What would it be?  If eBay is to be believed and other people down the pub this should have been dead easy  Oh, and the internet is always right, right?.  After all, back in 2014 M3s had dropped to an all time low in value!  So off I went in my search in May 2016, with a budget of £9,000 but hoping to stay around the £6,000.  After all I don’t mind getting my hands too dirty but I also hate a money pit!  We all know have a £6,000 car can quickly become an £11,000+ car, still with its faults.  But we all cannot resist a bargain:

I don’t think that I was too picky with my specification.  I wanted the following if I could help it:

Any car except Titan Silver
Preferably a manual
Evidence of good maintenance over the years, be it specialists or simply receipts to show what work the car has had done
Good service history from when it was new
New Discs ; I was wise enough to check the price of these!
New but good Tyres ; I was also wise enough to check the price up!
A half decent drive
With the latter two my jaw almost hit the floor when I saw the prices of them

With me previously owning a Clio 172 and a Mondeo V6 with 250,000 miles I thought the above should have been easy.

I had a few contenders to go and see.  These included the following:

  1. A Titan Silver Car with a black leather interior.  It was a manual coupe with 128,000 miles on the clock.  Oddly it was the only one I saw being sold by a trader and also it was the cheapest.  £6750 to be exact.
  2. A Mystic Blue with Grey Leather SMG model.  This would be the first SMG coupe car I saw.  It had 112,000 miles on the clock, a new clutch and only 2 owners.  This car? £8,100
  3. A Laguna Seca Blue and black leather M3.  Also a manual this had 111,000 miles.  It did have many new parts including discs and an exhaust put on.  This was on for £8,000.  It was however in Northern Ireland
  4. A Phoenix Yellow and black leather Cabrio.  As another manual this had 75,000 miles on the clock and was owned by a retired BMW technician.  The price?  £9,000.
  5. A Carbon Black and red leather Cabrio.  This was another SMG.  It had a bit of work done to it including new lower arms etc. and so on.  This was one of the cheaper cars for sale at £7,000.
  6. Another Titan Silver and Black manual entered the scene.  This was an 84,000 mile car being sold by a dealer.  It had 12 months MOT and was ready to go.  This one was £8,900.
  7. This is almost like Deja vu!  I found an almost identical car to the above!  Another Mystic Blue car with Grey leather!  It had more miles on at 122,000 miles and also had been owned for just over a year with plenty of MOT left.

All were claimed to be in great condition upon the first glance of the advert and the pictures.  After all a picture can speak 1,000 words.  So with that respect, surely 8 pictures can speak 8,000 words combined together?

While I did not expect perfection I wanted a clean and tidy car.  I figured with my then 2003 Clio 172 being very tidy for its age this should have been a walk in the park.  With plenty of tools at my disposal like My Car Buying Guide it should have given me an idea of what I was about to see!  Surely they would pass the mark with flying colours.

Little did I know, I had no idea what I was about to let myself in for.

 

Car buying