1999 728i 91000 miles.  One owner. Huge spec. £2000 

Right.  The decision is made.  This 1999 728i is for sale. Don’t stop reading at “728i for sale”. It’s worth reading on.  Honestly. 

1999 V 91000 miles.  One previous owner. Three keys, Service history and all books in the pack.

This is the car that has  had a starring role  in the “our cars”  section and you should really read those articles, but, here is the current spec:-

Two tone grey interior with contour seats

Leather front door cards

Leather door handles (match the seats)

Leather grab handles (rare)

“Porn” lights

Wood trimmed B Pillar trims and seat backs

Wooden glove box handle

Electric heated rear seats


Nav (Mk3 CD)


Reversing camera

Privacy glass

Rear blind

Power fold mirrors

M Parallels – the one on the front driver’s is the spare. There are four with Nogaro Silver centres.  Can be had, at no extra cost, with a staggered set of refurbed 18″ Style 32s with good tyres. 

M-Tech wheel

2001 tail lights

Boot lip spoiler

Perfect pixel cluster (not the one in the photos)

WiFi router, USB and cigarette lighter sockets in the armrest cubby

There is a rear aircon kit and stitched leather centre console included  for it too and, if you want it, a brand new angel eye kit (not my thing) and a black rooflining and bits too.

Loads of mechanical stuff done, arms, bushes, precharge pump, alternator,, belts, idlers etc.. Runs and drives perfectly.  Will come with 12 months MoT. Recent serviced and the gearbox serviced a few months ago by ZF agents.  

*STILL* has a leaky fuel tank – I put £20 worth in at a time and it’s fine. Can be supplied with a perfect tank.

Perfect daily driver – I’ve used it as mine for nearly a year now and even in Scotland, the ice cold air conditioning is marvellous.

Everything works. 

Low mileage, low owners, history, high spec.

More details and photos on request. 

Will come on 99V registration.

Pictured, but not included are the fire extinguisher and the 4.6 X5  cluster and the registration number. 

So, in an effort to to pre-empt all the, “Oooh I’d have that off you m8 if you were nearer ” comments,  I’ve a car to deliver and a couple to collect, so this can be delivered anywhere between here and the London area very cheaply.

£2000. No offers.

The Great Project Cull – 1984 B Baur TC2 Rolling Shell

The Great 2017 Project Cull continues.

Next up is this 1984 B Baur TC rolling shell.

This is every bit as bad as it looks. But it is cheap!  It is rusty in just about all the places you’d expect an early shell to be rusty – battery tray, floor/footwell, scuttle, sills etc., but there are areas where work has been started and where it’s not too bad.

Make no mistake though, this is a significant project. It is no coincidence that it is parked next to an E38, because my plan was to build a V8 powered workshop pick up out of it.

If anyone wants it, they can have it complete with known good, running v8 engine and auto box. £500 complete with engine and gearbox




1999 E38 750il £2295

An extended wheelbase E38 750il. The “l” version of the E38 followed over from the same extended E32 and is BMW’s answer to the LWB Jaguar XJ12L and the longer Mercedes S Class – except it’s better than those.

This rare facelift 5.4 l V12 in Orient Blue and upgraded Pearl Beige soft leather  from 1999 is, like most, very well specified with electric heated seats front and rear, xenons, double glazing, blinds, chromeline and sat nav.

The extra length is cleverly hidden from the external view and you do sometimes need to look twice to see the difference. Until you open the rear doors and see the expansive legroom available to rear seat passengers.

The photo below also shows the chromeline trim with the cheome door sill plates and the door speaker trim visible.

The rear of a 750il is a fine place to be, but the front is not too bad either. The V12 benefits from extended wood trim on the seat backs, the B posts and around the map and reading lights.

Comfort heated memory seats, sunroof, electrically adjustable steering column, and dual zone air conditioning along with all the usual E38 refinements make driving this car an experience rather than just a journey.

But that experience is further enhanced by  the 320 odd bhp and seemingly limitless torque provided by the V12 powerplant giving  a combination of effortless, silent, smooth power that genuinely has to be experienced to be appreciated.

This car has covered 141000 miles in the hands of its four previous owners and is MoTd until June 2018.

The advisories on the most recent MoT are minor and have been dealt with or will be dealt with prior to sale.

The 18″ staggered Style 37 M Parallel alloy wheels are shod in mainstream brand tyres (not budget tyres) and are the only wheel of the standard offerings suited to set off this top of the range car.

On the road the car drives well and its handling, braking and roadholding are exactly as you’d expect them to be. Its performance for a 2000kg plus executive car really has to be experienced.

There are some wee bits and pieces of surface corrosion and blemishes in the paintwork commensurate with the age and mileage, but no corrosion needing attention and there has never been corrosion mentioned in the MoT history.

It is recently serviced and has had front suspension arms replaced (all within 1000 miles). There are bits and pieces that  could do with attention in time – the perennial E38 fuel tank for instance, but overall, this is a fine example of a very rare, genuine, top of the range plutocrat’s carriage.

It’s not a project car and it’s not a show car. It’s a car that you can use and enjoy and derive further enjoyment from by improving and maintaining.

If that’s not the definition of a classic car, I don’t know what is

Where else but in an E38 can you get all of this for under £2500.

2001 BMW E38 735i Individual £2795

I hate the term, “future classic”, and I’m of the view that the E38 iteration of BMW’s 7 series flagship will eventually take the same position in the classic car world as the E23 and E32 that preceded it – namely respected and admired by those who know how good it is, but otherwise ignored, unloved and close to extinction.

Which is a great shame because I really don’t think that there is a better car you can buy for under £3000, and once you’ve experienced a good E38 – which along with  its sister five series, the E39, was undoubtedly the pinnacle of BMW’s period as an exclusive, niche manufacturer – you’ll not need or want another car.

This is a facelift 735i from close to the end of the production run. In Royal Red with Individual Pearl Beige interior and Anthracite carpet with black door cappings and parcel shelf, it’s a very rare and attractive combination. The interior, helped in no small measure by the rare glass sunroof,  is very light, spacious  and airy in comparison to the  “closed in” feeling of the cars trimmed in black, but, at the same time,  the Anthracite carpets provide a welcome contrast.

Most 735is tend to suffer from a slightly lowly specification (well for an E38) but in addition to the normal leather electric memory front seats, climate control, cruise control, illuminated door handles etc., etc., this one has a number of extras usually found on the larger engined variants:-

Individual with Pearl Beige Montana leather I with Anthracite carpet  and black door cappings

Moon roof

power folding door mirrors

widescreen 16:9 sat nav and reversing camera

third rear headrest and diagonal seat belt – as opposed to lap belt

electrically adjustable memory steering column


electrically operated rear sun blind

xenon lights and headlamp washers

working Motorola phone

With three owners in its sixteen years and having covered approximately 150000 miles, it is in perfect running and driving order and exemplifies how good a car an E38 is.

The 3.5 litre V8 has more than enough power for this two ton car and while the 4.4 V8 or the V12 provide an extra level, realistically if this is too slow for you, then you’re driving dangerously.

Is not all about raw power anyway.  It’s about effortless progress in comfort and this car has the ability to provide that and still return not unreasonable fuel consumption figures thanks to the later, more efficient engine management system. And you get that V8 noise too.

Recent control arms and suspension bushes ensure that there is no 55mph shimmy, a filter and fluid change service and replacement torque converter deals with the gearbox and there is a full service history.

The bodywork is in good rust free order and commensurate with a well maintained prestige car of this age and mileage.

The car will have a full 12 months MoT and a look at the MoT history online shows that this car has obviously been extremely well looked after with only very minor issues and no repeated advisories.

Please enquire if there is anything else you need to know.

We’ll consider any older BMW or other classic car in p/x, but no moderns please.

Reversing Camera Retrofit

The E38 7 series, the E39 5 series, E46 3 series and the E53 X5 all have a similar sat nav/TV system available as optional extras.

What isn’t so well known is that the video module is already prepared for the installation of a reversing camera.

We’ve done a couple now on E38 seven series and it’s worth detailing the procedure for installing an OEM style reversing camera using the OEM cabling, modules and screen.

For this to work in your car, you need to have at least the the factory sat nav and TV options. Ideally you’ll be using the 16:9 wide-screen monitor too.

For the E38 – particularly if it is fitted with PDC – the most appropriate camera is one which looks like a parking sensor. We have used this one more than once and it’s cheap, but entirely functional. It also supports NTSC if you’re using the standard BMW screen in the UK.

The only other item you’ll need to buy – and it’s not strictly necessary, just a lot simpler – is the AV “breakout” cable (also handy if you’re fitting a TV tuner or DVD player into your system. 

We’ve had success with this one, but there are a few on the market.  It fits between the white socket on  your TV/video module and the connector and gives various AV inputs and outputs – including a video input to the dedicated reversing camera channel. Alternatively, you can use the pinout diagram below to connect the camera output to pins 13 and 14 of the white plug.   

You’ll need to access the TV/video module in the left hand boot area.  This photo is just to help identify it, but it’s the big box with the blue and white plugs and the two aerial type connectors. 

If you’re using the breakout cable, just plug it in. There will be a wee bit of white wire that you don’t know what to do with. Keep hold of it just now.  

Fitting the whole setup is no more than a couple of hours work.  

Take the centre rear bumper trim off and measure the centre point. The camera above comes with a correctly sized holesaw, so you just drill out the bumper trim and partially fit the camera. Don’t push it fully home in the hole you’ve cut just yet, you’ll need to adjust its rotation later. 

The camera fitted does look not unlike a PDC sensor and not out of place at all.

You then need to get the wiring into the boot area and it’s up to you how you do it. There are a couple of holes there already and the PDC sensors use holes, but I drill a small hole in the wiring channel and fish it through with a bit of welding rod. Fit a grommet to avoid chafing.  

Now to deal with the wiring. 

The camera needs power and earth and the video output from the camera connects to the breakout cable. This is where the wee white wire comes into play too.  When pin 17 of the blue connector on the video module  is connected to ground, the signal from the reversing camera channel is displayed on the monitor. So you need to connect that pin to ground when the camera is switched on. 

First get the power for the camera. Easiest place to find that is at the reversing lights. Splice in there and take two feeds from there. Run one to the camera positive.

Now using a standard automotive four pin latching relay, connect the other positive you spliced from the reversing lights to pin 86 of the relay. Connect pins 85 and 87 along with the negative or ground connection from the camera to earth.

The wee white wire is connected to pin 30 of the relay and the terminal end of that wire goes into pin 17 of the blue plug at the TV module.

Pins 85 and 86 operate the relay when reverse is selected and makes the connection between pins 30 and 87, thus connecting pin 17 of the blue plug to earth.

Ignore “Power source” in the diagram below because you’re using it to connect a terminal to earth, not power.

Putting the car into reverse powers the camera via the splice from the reversing lights and the earth you connected; and the relay is latched by the other splice.   Latching the relay connects pin 17 of the blue plug to earth and displays the camera output in the screen.

There are earth combs and relay holders in the area of the fusebox beside the battery.

Connect the video output from the camera to the appropriate connection on the breakout cable and your camera should work when you put the car into reverse.

Test it, and rotate the camera to get the picture the right way up, then push it fully home and bolt it all back together and your 20 year old executive saloon will have another function still sold as an optional extra on new executive saloons.

At The End of the Day, it’s Just Another E30

This absolutely cracking wee 1990 215 bhp, E30 M3 came in the other day, with a potential blown head gasket. The owner has it had it a few weeks and was understandably concerned.  

It had apparently overheated – probably due to a burst hose – and the owner had, sensibly, stopped at the first sign of steam escaping and had the car recovered to a modern BMW specialist who had diagnosed a blown head gasket, but had fairly indicated that they weren’t set up to do the work. 

On arrival, I checked the cooling system for leaks and bled the system. There was no evidence of coolant/oil contamination and the coolant level was correct.  So I started it and carefully watched both for leaks and the behaviour of the temperature gauge as the car idled and it rose to, and maintained, normal operating temperature. 

There is no viscous fan on these 16 valve, S14 engines, derived  for the Motorsport division from the venerable M10 block, so when idling, there is no air flow  through the radiator, and the temperature will climb quite quickly. There’s a thermostatically controlled cooling fan which also appeared to be operating correctly. 

After about 45 minutes of idling, with the temperature being maintained correctly by the electric fan, I took it for a half hour run on mixed roads, some National Speed Limit and some Friday afternoon Hamilton Town Centre traffic. It behaved faultlessly and the temperature remained spot on. 

Back at the workshop, after it cooled down, the coolant level was checked again and found to be correct and further visual checks showed no signs of head gasket failure. 

As a final precaution, the owner agreed that a compression test should be done and I am pleased to say that all four cylinders came in between 11 and 12 bar, and I’m hopeful that the owner’s worst fears of head gasket failure have been dispelled.  There are certainly no indicators of head gasket failure.  

There’s no doubt  that – even though he was only minutes from home – his safety first approach of stopping as soon as he saw steam, and calling for the recovery service, was instrumental in saving his engine, and his credit card, from a very expensive cylinder head overhaul.  

At the customer’s request we had a general look around the car and found it to be in the the sort of overall excellent condition you’d expect to for a car that has covered only 80000 miles in its 27 years. 

And it’s another confirmation that even low mileage, well maintained, blue chip classics aren’t  immune and can  suffer in the standard E30 areas that are known to be rust prone.  

So, this fine, low mileage example of the exotic and iconic E30 M3, was found to have both boot pockets – on the M3 one is the battery compartment –  in the same condition as you’d expect of a standard 1990 four door 316i auto. 

Here you can see the extent of the corrosion and our usual repair with all the rot cut back, new panels fabricated and seam welded in place, welds ground flat, and rustproofed using Dynax UB. 

A couple of other minor wee bits and pieces, mechanical and aesthetic, were attended to and it’s off now to be detailed prior to its appearance at this weekend’s (17 June 2017) Milngavie Classic Car Show. 

A cracking wee car and a privilege to work on it.   

1986 Baur TC2 320i Recommissioning

This very original 1986 Baur TC2 has been owned by its current custodian for in excess of ten years. 

It has been used regularly, but is still showing a relatively low mileage and, like so many cars we see, maintained primarily to allow its continued use. It confirms the truth that cars when used regularly, will deteriorate with age as well as with mileage. Low mileage therefore, of itself, is no guarantee of condition.   

It is in better condition than most thirty year old unrestored  Baurs and its owner now feels that the time is right to secure its long term survival.  

We started with a full service, all fluids and all filters changed, new rotor arm and distributor cap, and timing belt and water pump changed.  The M20b20 is, in my experience, almost always the smoothest engine fitted to the E30 and this is no exception.  It has a beautifully quiet, smooth engine.  

It is showing some rust in some of the usual places, the front trays, footwells and sills in particular, so we started there, and stripped off the front wings, bumper etc. and started with the footwells, transport pads and sills. 

Here’s the offside with all the rot cut out and repair panels made up and welded in place.  The floor itself, the transport pad, the usual join between the floor and inner sill, the inner sill, and the jacking point on this side all needed rot removed and good clean metal welded in its place.  The forward portion of the outer sill had to be removed to allow access to the rusty inner sill behind itas can be seen here.

Here is the portion of the outer sill welded back in place. The outer sill around the jacking point will require to be replaced and the jacking point strengthened and re-attached. Before that, though the sills will be flooded with Dynax UB rust proofing.  

And here’s the passenger side with the transport pad and the rusty footwell cut out. This isn’t so bad and the inner and outer sills – at the front anyway – appear to be sound. 

The next stage is to grind flat the external welds, finish the floors and footwells,  recreate the transport pads and weld them in place.   

E30 Big Brake Kits

For Project “No Bother”, we designed a big brake kit for the front that uses cracking big E38 7 series four pot calipers; Corrado G60 discs – providing the correct offset and a decent improvement in size – these have to be machined slightly to fit the E30 centre bore; our custom modified 51mm strut housings and brackets laser cut from 10mm high tensile steel plate.

This is the result:-

We have a couple of spare sets

Comprises- Modified 51mm bare strut with ABS hub. No spring. No insert. No brake back plate.

Larger Corrado G60 disc with correct offset and bolt pattern. Centre machined to match.

Laser cut mounting brackets in 10mm plate.

One pair of E38 4 pot calipers. New pads.

A standard 15″ BBS wheel will not fit, though it is very close and may be machinable to fit. We have had 16″ Lenso wheels on and 17″ Alpina replicas without issue.


When “Large and Luxurious” Just Isn’t Large Enough or Luxurious Enough

The E38 was BMW’s range topping luxury saloon from its introduction in 1995, when it took over from the E32. It continued until 2001 when, slap bang in the middle of the Bangle era, it was replaced by the E65.

As the top of BMW’s range, it was always a large, luxury saloon and was only available as a four door saloon. No factory 7 series Touring has ever existed.

Its specification, in contrast to other models in the BMW range which were known for their miserly standard specification – in UK market models at any rate – was always generous. Towards the end of production, the standard spec included:-

Electric memory seats;

Wood trim, leather;




Cruise Control;

Park Distance Control;

IIluminated interior and exterior door handles;

Soft close boot;

Remote central locking; and, much more.

It’s always amusing to see basic “taxi spec” models advertised as, “fully loaded” or “high specification”, while the truth is that while they are highly specified in comparison with normal models, they are just not highly specified for an E38.

Take front seats as an example.

The standard electric leather seats with three driver’s memory positions could be upgraded to :-

Sports seats – with the extendable thigh bolster;

Comfort seats with the adjustable backrest and four way lumbar support;

Comfort Sports – so called “Contour”  – seats with both adjustable thigh bolster and comfort options;

These possibilities ignore Individual trim and leather options and  heated and massage options.

Even the rear seats were available heated and electrically adjustable.

We built the “council house” 728i into a pretty highly specced thing with Individual two tone contour seats, electric rears, electric rear blind, DSP, SatNav and loads of other good bits like the so called “porn lights”, inlaid trims, folding mirrors, reversing camera and WiFi router. It’s a fabulous daily drive, and we’ve got some other bits collected for it too – rear air-conditioning, hydraulic boot and leather grab handles are all sitting waiting to be fitted.  But even with all that stuff, it’s still a bit ……well……basic.

So, to keep it company, we recently picked up a pretty late 2001 X 740il.

It’s Cosmos Black and the “740” bit indicates a 4.4l V8; the “i” bit designates fuel injection and the “l” translates into four inches longer. All of that four inches is in the rear passenger compartment.

But this one isn’t just longer. It has:-

Hydraulic soft close boot

picnic tables and vanity mirrors with rear blinds, electric sun blind, footstools, chromeline trim, double glazing, rear air-conditioning, Sat nav, electrically adjustable steering column, folding dipping mirrors, PDC, Self Levelling Suspension,  DSP, comfort seats, comfort climate heated front windscreen with top tint and  a rain sensor, electric rear seats, multifunction rear armrest,  sunroof, and loads more that I can’t think of

When it arrived, I started to sort out its little foibles when I had some spare time and a week on and the non working sunroof had been fixed; a window regulator had been replaced (and another has since been done); a (double glazed) quarter glass fitted; the hydraulic soft close boot fixed; the pre facelift bonnet jettisoned; the slam panel that had been butchered to fit the pre facelift bonnet swapped for the correct one; the bonnet cables and catches replaced/adjusted/lubricated; a broken air intake replaced; one PDC sensor housing replaced; front bumper replaced: headlight washers repaired and swapped into the other bumper; cluster whipped out and pixels repaired; rear bumper replaced ; a set of M Parallels sent for polishing , and, all the external trim removed and the car was prepared for paint.

In the process of being painted.

And now back from paint with its wheels fitted, we need to get the interior completed to turn it into a pretty special, very late, very highly specified E38 which I’m really looking forward to driving.

Now all we need to do is find a 750ixl – and unusually for BMW, the “x” here has nothing to do with all wheel drive, oh, and a rear mounted fridge, bullet proof glass, fax machine and a drinks cabinet.

E38, E39 and E53 Instrument Clusters

The instrument clusters in the E38,  E39, and, E53 are interchangeable, though I’ve only ever seen the “low” cluster in the E39.  All E38 clusters are the “high” cluster.

All are renowned for losing pixels in the display – to the extent that sometimes even the mileage can be illegible.

We can now repair these using a brand new complete screen and/or ribbon from £90 plus P&P.

We can also code replacement clusters – from another car –  to remove the tamper dot, and switch off the ASC/DSC light you often find with a replacement cluster.

We can reset the mileage to zero – so that the cluster will read your mileage from the light control module – or to whatever mileage you want it to be.

Get in touch if you need your cluster repaired or recoded or the mileage corrected/tamper dot removed.

We can also code Light Control Modules, General Modules and EWS out of the car if required.