It’s been rather special month in the life of Ian’s classic BMW 325i, as it was introduced for the first time to its beefier, meaner and cosmetically enhanced cousin.[Not a valid template]
|Date acquired:||June 2010|
|Kilometres this month:||890|
|Costs this month:||$235 (discs, pads, sensors)|
|L/100km this month:||9.6|
Given that the old girl continues to give sterling service as the main car of the Bond household, the month started with a full service and fitting of four new brake discs, pads and related sensors brought back by hand from the UK. Being a pilot and owning older cars is a well-matched combination; I have an interest in all things mechanical and the ability to source parts and expertise from whichever part of the world my work may take me. For the first time during its ownership, I can honestly say that the 325 is mechanically perfect and as factory fresh as she was 24 years ago. Well, apart from the non-functioning odometer, MP3 stereo and modern AC system.
Another advantage of my job is the company I keep. Occasionally I’m in a cockpit for several hours with a like-minded individual, which is how I was introduced to Zak and his daily driver; a 1991 BMW 325i Coupe manual. Following our flight, plans were formed to bring our cars together for a comparison test. What better time than with a freshly serviced car?
On the agreed day a spot of morning rain undid much of the clean and polish I had given my car the night before, but I was still proud of her. Until I lined it up alongside Zak’s, anyway, and became instantly envious. I mean just look at it. The MTECH 2 body kit gives his car a lot more presence and menace, and sitting on BBS alloys, it looks far closer to the E30 M3 than my four-door. Driving to the chosen photo locations and seeing another BMW E30 in my mirrors, stalking me, brought out a competitive streak. I flicked my auto into sport mode and was revving the engine out between the lights and speed bumps. Zak responded in kind, showing how his complete Remus exhaust system gives the inline-six a deeper and throaty roar. It put a stupid grin on both our faces.
During the day, I became painfully aware that I need to do something about my car’s paint. It’s much flatter up close compared to Zak’s, and only in this area of the world can your car fail a safety test due to lacquer peel, but hey-ho. Sitting in Zak’s coupe, it feels like a much smaller space, but thanks to the supportive black racing seats and a racing manual gearbox conversion, much more driver focused. Would I miss the back windows and rear doors? Maybe. My car is our household workhorse and regularly carries passengers, Ikea flat pack furniture and inflatable kayaks. The ease of being able to throw things and people in would be missed. However, I definitely lose out in the driver experience and cool factors. Practical car functions are rarely cool, apart from maybe winding radio aerials and pop-up headlights. But I digress.
Photos finished, we swapped keys and drove each other’s cars back. I miss manual gearboxes; feet and hands working together; reading the road; planning the changes to get the most from your engine; the noise and satisfaction of a good change. I’ve also noticed that the coupe is stiffer than my saloon and the car is easier to place as a result. The money Zak has spent on a proper suspension setup really shows. The H&R springs and sway bars front and rear make the ride harder but inspired much more confidence to push the limits. If it were mine I would probably have the original 15-inch BBS alloys rather than the special order 16s on Zak’s. Many praise the Toyota 86 for its 215/45 R17 ‘skinny’ wheels, forgetting that older performance cars like ours with similar power ride on considerably smaller 195/65 R14s. A lot of safe fun and driving satisfaction can be had with a car that moves around a little and is controllable.
It’ always great to meet up with a like-minded petrolhead, and this experience has challenged my belief that originality is the key when it comes to running older cars. If you make too many changes away from the original factory specifications, you end up spoiling the magic of whatever made the car great in the first place. Spending money trying to make your vehicle compare with newer models in terms of handling, form or function can just result in it looking ridiculous or cheap. But Zak’s coupe has clearly had a lot of money spent on it during its life. The original bodykit and the wheels are period and look right on the car. The mechanical changes add to the experience and do not detract from it. Zak tells me that an MTECH 2 kit exists for four-door 325s and it makes me realise what I could do with my car if I wanted to spend the money on it. Or should I just follow my own advice and buy the car that drives and looks the way I want in the first place?
Hey Zak, is your car for sale?
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