1990 BMW E30 318iS Project Turns Into S54 Powered Track Car

I’ve a little reluctantly come to the conclusion that this E30 318iS project is unlikely to get to the front of the restoration queue much before it becomes eligible for free road tax and I’m prepared to move it on to allow someone else a shot at building a very tidy 318iS.

I’m not going to feed you all the baby M3/prices are only going one way/better than a 325i/investment potential bullshit and I’ll assume that you know what an E30 318iS is and how much more unusual it is than the ubiquitous E36 318iS.

If not, it’s a sporty 16 valve E30. Quite sought after, it does perform nicely and very differently from the six cylinder cars. Revvy and peppy, it is quite an enjoyable drive. Only manufactured for about a year in 1990/91 it is one of the rarer E30 variants.

What is for sale?
It’s a very good, solid 318iS rolling shell. Effectively all the iS bits – except the black headlining – have been removed – believed stolen, but the removal of the engine certainly doesn’t give the impression that it was done by thieves.
A known good 97000 mile M42 with all ancillaries, loom, ECU etc. This will bolt in and once done, the car will drive. Everything required to get the car mechanically sorted is there. There are even some duplicates/spares.
A pair of 51mm vented disc front struts – it’s on 45mm struts just now.

What does it need to complete it?
Interior – we’ll have some bits which I’ll include, but it definitely needs seats and door cards
Front valance and bumper – I might have one
IS lip – I can get new for about £100
Wheels. It’ll come on four slave wheels
N/s rear quarter light
Other bits and pieces

But it’s a rare opportunity to buy a good solid two door genuine iS shell with some desirable bits – not least the complete 318iS running gear M42 engine gearbox, prop and diff, 51mm front struts, black headlining etc. Think of the value of the parts alone and it’s a good deal, never mind the good iS shell.

I’d consider an E30 convertible or a Baur or any other interesting classic (BMW preferably, but not necessarily) in px/swap too.

Sensible offers bearing in mind what’s on offer will be entertained. Stupid offers will be ignored. If you make an offer and don’t hear from me, you can assume it was a stupid one.

Introducing Project “No Bother’ – S54 Engined Track Focussed Car – Part 2

When I advertised this for sale, it was specifically on the basis that we were unlikely to have the time to build it up ourselves and it was really combining  two existing  projects together to free up some workshop space and time.

We had a good wee 318i convertible that I had acquired the 318iS running gear for, with the intention of building another car that BMW should have built – the 318iS convertible –  but, at about the same time as the shell appeared, I decided that the convertible would be better kept as a 318i.  It has low owners, low mileage and lots of history.

Anyway, I turned the two into one complete 318iS project and advertised it for sale.  Two chaps from a local garage  – one of whom I have known for a wee while – came to see it.

They were building a track car for a customer who had provided them with a V8 powered two door shell that he had bought – more of this shell later.  They had examined the shell and suggested to the customer that  it was looking likely that it would be more trouble to repair than it was worth and suggested to their customer that he should find a better shell.

They came to see this one, examined it, and declared it to be ideal for their customer’s intended purpose.  

Later the same day, their very enthusiastic sounding customer called and we discussed it in some detail.  He was of the view that his garage weren’t terribly keen on welding and much more interested in the mechanical side of the build and asked if we could prepare the shell to his spec and the two chaps who came to view it would then build the car into this shell.

No bother.

I spoke to them before agreeing, and far from being unhappy with that course of action, they were very keen, so from the starting point of  intending to reduce the projects we had to complete, I had managed to take on another one, but it was only a light refurbishment of an already sound shell.  It won’t take long!

E46 M3 Powered E30 – Project “No Bother” – Part 3

So, what our now mutual customer wanted was a bare bodyshell, repaired as required, and rustproofed for delivery to the garage who were going to build his car for him.

We started by getting absolutely everything stripped off the car and mounting the bare shell on our own custom made spit  and repairing what rust we could find in the sills, inner flitch panels, floor and footwells, transport pads etc.

Our custom spit allows 360 degree access to all areas and makes repairs so much easier. We have fitments for both E30 types and E24/28 too.  It also makes moving a wheelless shell much easier.


Once the shell was repaired,  the customer explained that the other garage weren’t all that keen on welding and asked if we could do some strengthening and weld in a roll cage that had been removed from the other shell.

No bother.

The cage was delivered and we spent a good part of a  morning trying to get it to sit in place. it just wouldn’t go in.

Then I checked the other shell.  No sunroof! That’ll be it then.  So, after discussion with the customer, who’s vision for the car is to try to make it look as much like a standard 318iS as possible, we shortened the cage and fitted the rear half in place.

We fabricated fillet plates to brace the strut tops to the inner wing, like on the factory convertible and welded these in place.

We shortened the front half of the cage to fit and needed to manufacture some pads for the floor to make it secure.  I was concerned that there might be very restricted head room with the front half of the cage in place and suggested to the customer that as it was to be a road legal, road looking,  and road useable track day car, it might be better to fit just the rear half cage. Another benefit would be to allow a fully trimmed interior and a full dashboard – without the cage requiring it to be butchered – to be fitted.  He was having none of it.

We found some Bilstein coilovers and the customer bought them.  At this stage, he thought it “might be easier” if we were to carry on with the build and deliver to the garage, a repaired, rolling shell, with the roll cage fitted.

No bother.


Project “No Bother” – Part 4

So, now the project that we were selling because we didn’t have the time to undertake another project is starting to grow into a bit of a project.

To recap, the shell is stripped,  rust free, the rear half of the roll cage is in, but the front isn’t,  and now we have to acquire, build and fit front and rear suspension in order to deliver the bare rolling shell to the garage who are going to complete the build.

We have already acquired Bilstien coilovers front and rear, and we keep strengthening pieces in stock for the front crossmember – around the engine mount and the ARB mounting points. So,  one of our strengthened front crossmembers was welded up and sent for powdercoating.

We have laser cut diff mount strengthening plates too and a rear beam was removed from the powdercoating pile, the strengthening plates welded in and the rear beam sent for powdercoating too. You can see the extra strengthening in these photos.

We acquired an E46 purple tag steering rack – which is an astonishing modification and if you use an E30 day to day, you really ought to do it – and we collected all the bushes, new bottom arms, rear trailing arms etc., required to build up the suspension and turn the shell into a bare rolling shell.

“I think I’d like it painted. Can you get your paintshop to paint it and can you build the painted shell up so that we deliver a fully painted, clothed rolling shell to the garage for them just to fit the running gear?”

No bother.

The bare shell acquired a pair of doors, bonnet and bootlid, a set of glass, bumpers, trim, a new front valance, lights and an iS lip.

All of these were sent with the car – still on our spit –  to be painted inside and out in the original Brilliant Red.

“The guys in the garage are really busy, while you’re building up the bodyshell, could you maybe run the fuel lines, brake lines and stuff, fit the fuel tank and brakes etc., so that it is really just the engine conversion that the guys need to do?”

No bother.

Creator C310+ Scanner and Code Reader


It has taken a while, but even we have had to succumb to the computer diagnostic  age and have had to purchase a code reader.

A bit of research led me to look at the Creator C310+, which appears to be a Carsoft i910 clone at a significant discount.

I ordered one from Amazon and it turned up a day or two later DOA. The supplier replaced it immediately and it has worked faultlessly  ever since.

It’s a handheld device that is far from bulky.

It is easy to store and easy to use. It works on just about all BMWs from 1997 – 2013 and certainly works on a the stuff we’d ever need it for – E38 and E39 basically. We’ve also used it on an E65.


It scans and clears codes. We’ve used DME (engine); EGS(gearbox); ABS, and, SRS (airbag) on E38 and on E39.

Each time it has done exactly as you’d hope and expect, even putting out the notoriously persistent E38/39 airbag light on more than one car.

We have access to INPA, BMW Scanner etc. and to a brand new Snap-On Solus Pro, but this wee thing is so easy to use, carry and store, that I’ll start whatever I’m doing with this and only use another option if it is out of its depth.

Obviously, it’s a code scanner and reader, not a programming solution. You can’t recode or reprogram anything with this, but you can read and clear error and fault codes on just about all modules on just about any BMW.

For the price, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

This is an unpaid for and unsolicited review of a product purchased and paid for.  Our use is in a professional workshop and the product may not have  been designed for home use

I have not been paid for this review in cash or kind and I paid for the only one of these products that I possess.

You can buy one here:- Creator C310+ on Amazon

ZF Sealed For Life Gearboxes


When we bought this, the seller happily told us that it had a gearbox fault and that it would go into limp mode very quickly.  He wasn’t kidding! Within about 100 yards, it would go into limp mode (this provides fourth gear only – useable, but a bit of a pain, particularly taking off from standing on a hill!). Though, if you cleared the fault code, the car would drive normally until the next time you switched the ignition off.

Reading the codes showed that it had had problems with the fluid temperature sensor and gear monitoring.

We did all the work detailed in this blog entry and had reached the stage where we had to come to a decision about what to do with the gearbox fault.

BMW originally stated that these gearboxes (ZF5HP) were sealed for life and no fluid changes, checks, or top ups were required. They pretty quickly changed their tune and now suggest a fluid change and a filter at 100,000 miles.

Anecdotally, a transmission service can cure many “faults” and the never, ever wrong, ever, internet suggested that the fluid temp sensor fault “might” be cured by a fluid and filter change.

The car has only done 88000 miles, but it is nearly 20 years old and a few litres of fluid and a filter can’t go wrong

The proper fully synthetic fluid is quite dear, though the filter isn’t terrible. I reckoned about £100 at trade prices would get the fluid and filter. A DIY transmission service isn’t particularly difficult, but you are really only draining the fluid in the sump and you do leave a couple of litres in there, in the torque converter in particular.  To get it all out, you really need to use a specialised pump and even just filling it to the correct level is a bit of a pain for those without the special equipment.

I phoned the local ZF agents/service centre (Mackie Transmissions)  and they would supply us the correct fluid and filter from stock for just under £100. Or, they’d drain it, flush it, fit the filter and refill it for about £150. That’s a fluid change rather than just drain and refill. Go on then.

They were very professional.  They asked if there were any faults and explained that there was no guarantee that any faults would be fixed and in fact, some faults were known to get worse after a service.

We dropped it off first thing – in fourth gear – and they phoned at about 4:00. It was done and had been serviced successfully, but, unfortunately, it was still going into limp mode within a very short distance. The codes thrown were gear monitoring and slippage in second gear and third gear.  Only a rebuild would fix it – at a cost of about £1800!

Well, it was worth a try.  I’ll look out for a good secondhand gearbox, then.

We collected it and, sure enough, it went into limp mode after a few yards. I cleared the codes and drove it back.

I used it the next day, doing the same thing, clearing the codes and just driving it.  The next day, I thought it might have taken very slightly longer – maybe a few hundred yards –  to fail into limp mode and after a week, I was getting a few miles. After a fortnight, it went from East Kilbride out to Milngavie – 15 miles or so. Now, four or five weeks later – and I’m jinxing it now – it hasn’t gone into limp mode in over a week.

I’ve used it in manual, auto and sports mode; driven it gently, driven it normally and red lined it more than once,  and the gearbox “appears” to be working perfectly.

Now, I am not unrealistic, the gearbox may chuck its toys out the pram at any point and I may just be having a run of good luck, but my advice if your ZF5HP (fitted to loads of mid to late 90s onwards stuff, not just BMWs) is dropping into limp mode, without any obvious noise, bangs, clunks or slippage, is that a fluid and filter change is definitely worth a try before condemning the gearbox to the scrap pile.

What odds on “BONG” “Trans Failsafe Prog” tomorrow?


The Answer to all, “What Luxury Saloon Should I Buy?” Questions is……

….is, as I’ve often said, “E38”.

Recent events have  made me look at the E38 question again and I thought it might be time to detail the situation which appears to be getting out of hand

Currently, there are four here. Two breakers, one just about to find a new home, and one just about to be made into what I hope will be a lovely car.

It’s all a customer/friend of mine called Scott’s fault. He obtained a free 735i and offered it to me at a price that made it very foolish not to buy a car with full electric leather and a running Motronic fed V8 (no carbs, points etc.). It also sat on a decent set of 16″ Imperial Style 5s which are sought after by metric avoiding E24 and E28 owners. In fact these very wheels now grace an E24 Highline.

But it needed a tank and brakes and a radiator. At least.

Then I found another identical car that was cheap – because the gearbox was u/s – but had had a recent new tank, new brakes and new suspension. So it would be able to provide all the bits required to repair the first one. So I bought it too.

So, now I have two 1997 735is, but neither of them roadworthy. Sound familiar? I have a car needing brakes, suspension and a tank and one needing a gearbox and a window regulator. So, I decide that I should probably build the better one – the second one – using the  gearbox and window regulator from the first one.

At around this time, another local specialist trader  – a motorcycle dealer I’ve know for years, literally wouldn’t take “No” for an answer – despite several attempts – and I reluctantly became the owner of a silver facelift 728i with a long MoT and a smell of petrol for about the cost of the BMW battery in the boot.

This purchase made me rethink the “two 735is into one” plan and I realised we’d spend at least  three days and some consumables building a car worth about £750, so, I put the plan on hold and ran about in the 728i for a few weeks before a very enthusiastic young Polish couple acquired it at a decent profit and immediately – and I mean with 45 minutes – put it through three speed cameras on the way home to Edinburgh. Always, always email a copy of the receipt to any purchaser you don’t know personally before they leave your premises.  It’ll prove handy when the Police come looking for speeding camera offenders.

So, now I’m back on the one good 735i from two plan, but it’s not really stacking up.

Then, the stack collapsed entirely when I acquired this Individual Mora metallic 740i beauty with extended leather, Individual interior, some decent spec and the now familiar smell of fuel:-

This was – is – a peach – it needed a fuel tank – spot any pattern emerging? – but it had a superb spec, quality colour, ran well and had the potential to be a lovely, lovely car.

So the two 735is finally became breakers.

Unfortunately, that potential I spoke of in the Mora monster was spotted by a customer one day, who waved cash in my face, offering me a not insignificant profit. I am sorry to say that I succumbed and, I  regretted it even before its bonnet was out the gate. I still do. I should have kept it.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, another Mora Metallic E38 appeared on the scene, this time a 728i sporting M Parallels, Alpina spoilers, quad stainless exhaust, top tint screen, Shadowline, comfort sports interior, black head cloth, DSP, PDC, widescreen Nav, electric sunblind, folding mirrors, Brembos etc., etc..

However, it also came with some history – and not necessarily the desireable kind, though there’s a bundle of that too:- a colour change, faulty electrics, a smell of petrol(!), engine management light on, and a tamper dot on the mileometer.



So, it’s never going to be a retail car, but it’s got a cracking spec and because of its faults and “history”, it’s cheap. I’ve *still* got that good, new tank, despite it being earmarked for three separate cars now (this’ll be its fourth), so we’ll fix it up and keep it. I don’t care about its history. It’ll make a decent car to run about in, even if it’s just a little too “brash” for my taste. That’s a plan I can definitely  stick to.

Well you’d think so. It was a plan that unravelled before the Mora car was even delivered here.

I was offered a local, one owner, 88000 mile FSH, 728i in poverty spec  silver with black interior, with a gearbox problem, an ABS problem, and, surprise, surprise a leaky petrol tank, but it’s a lovely, unmolested, straight thing that has obviously never been apart, with quite a nice private number – not that I’m into them, but it looks quite good on it. The cost of this one owner, FSH potential money pit? Not a lot. That’s the plan up shit creek again and the fifth car to be promised that new tank arrives at Bavarian Retro Cars!

So, what’s the plan now then?
Well, the FrankenMora  car is now even more of a bitsa and is now poverty spec with an 88000 mile complete black interior (every single interior piece except the roof lining was swapped, carpets, door cards, seats, seatbelts, all trim, stereo, etc.), etc. Externally, it took the older lights, the eBay grille, the standard mirrors –  basically all of the goodies were removed and swapped for the bog standard stuff on the silver 88000 mile car. It sounds easy when you say it quickly, but there was a good three or four full days of work in that and honestly, the workshop looked like there had been an explosion on the 1999 E38 production line.

All the goodies are now scattered far and wide – well, mostly in the boot of the silver car – and all the Grey Comfort Sports interior is waiting to be cleaned and fitted to the low mileage silver car. Once we’ve fitted the tank, oh, and an ABS precharge pump, and tidied up a couple of bits of surface rust.

Here’s the Mora 728i now, ready to go to its happy new owner. I think it actually looks better with the black interior, black carpets, black head cloth etc.:-

And just to round us off nicely, and bring us back to the start, do you recognise the 415 TRX wheels it’s wearing now?

They were last seen gracing Scott’s – remember him? – E28.

E38 prices are all over the place just now. From previous experience with the E24 and, for a longer period, the E30, it seems to be a phenomenon that’s a precursor to them taking a hike. If you want a decent E38 for banger money, I really don’t think you’ve very much longer before they start to stop dropping in price. Anyone still waiting for them to bottom out is probably holding out too long.

For us, the E38/39 family is the last BMW, I’d be prepared to own, I think. Anything much newer (except the E39 based E53) is getting to be too electrically complex.

I’ll report on the build of the silver one in the next episode….unless the plan changes.



The Answer to all, “What Luxury Saloon Should I Buy?” Questions is……, Part Two

So, we left the “Strip both  and swap all the good bits from one to the other, then swap all the ordinary, povvo spec bits back into the one that originally had all the good bits” project a few weeks ago,  mid way through, with all the standard bits out of the silver car and refitted back into the Mora Metallic  car  and the Mora Metallic FrankenSieben off to its new owner.

It always tickles me to see E38s advertised as “fully loaded with electric leather memory seats, air con, cruise control, etc. too much to list.” That’s base taxi spec in a car that could be had with at least four different upgrades to the basic leather, electrically adjustable, memory front  seats; electrically adjustable heated rear seats; bullet proof glass; fridge in the back; picnic tables; TV; Satnav; and as many as TWO phones in the same car – one in the front and one in the back.

To be fair, Titan Silver, and standard black leather was very much poverty spec – as far as any E38 can be described as “poverty” – back in 2000, but we’ll change that.

We were left with a car with a completely stripped out interior – and I do mean “completely” – and an enormous pile of bits – and I do mean “enormous” – some of which were quite interesting wee extras.

There were a couple of  surface rust blemishes around the boot, so we started by getting them attended to.  We took the bumper off and sent the car off to the paintshop along with the bootlid lip spoiler we had removed from FrankenSieben.

While it was away, the plan was to refurb the interior and, incredibly,  I hadn’t noticed that the grey sports 18 way adjustable contour seats were Individual and piped two tone grey. It was clear that they needed a bit of a refurb, so a couple of colour samples were despatched to Gliptone and some Liquid Leather and Scuffmaster were supplied to improve them.


We did the fronts in the two tone and I think they turned out really well.

While I was still considering whether or not I could be arsed doing the rears to match, I acquired a set of electrically adjustable, lumbar support, heated rear seats in Nappa grey.  But piped. So another 250 ml of the lighter grey leather colour was obtained from Gliptone and the rears were made to match the fronts in the Individual piped two tone grey.

The interior we were using – out of, but definitely not native to, FrankenSieben – had one out of four of the door pull handles in grey stitched leather from an Individual or 750iL extended leather interior.  The same source as the rear seats managed to supply a pair of full  grey extended leather front door cards and the other rear handle in stitched leather. So all the door cards were stripped and the leather handles removed and  recoloured in the light grey to  complete the two tone Individual interior.

So, that’s the interior leather trim pretty much sorted out and now the car is back from paint. It was wearing mismatched slave wheels, so they were ditched in favour of the staggered 18″ M Parallels purloined from the Mora car.


There was an ABS fault which I tracked down to a faulty DSC precharge pump.  An in stock replacement was fitted and the brakes bled.

The later lights with clear indicators and the power fold mirrors had been swapped over prior to paint and, with the wheels on, it was externally complete, and so, unfortunately, there was nothing else for it, but to start reassembling it.

Start at the back and move forward is normally our approach, and originally, in terms of ICE  this basic car had only a basic radio and a fitted phone.  Nothing else.

The first thing to go in was the AV loom front to back for the widescreen Nav. It was run from the boot to the front and the monitor connected to let us check the functions as we built it. Then we started adding bits. A radio module, TV and video module, GPS antenna, DSP amp, and CD changer all came from FrankenSieben which also supplied an early Mk2 CD based Nav computer and “Trimble” unit required to make it work.  I managed to obtain the latest compatible Mk4 DVD navigation computer, a reversing camera that looks like a pdc sensor, and a break  out lead to allow AV input and output to and from the TV and video module.

Getting it all to work, upgrading the nav computer, finding bits not working, downgrading it to the  earliest workable version to get it all working and then upgrading it to the latest again is all a bit of time consuming hassle, but worth it.

Talking of PDC sensors, replacing one dead front one and one equally lifeless rear one got the PDC working again and annoying the Hell out of me.

The reversing camera was fitted to the rear bumper and wired via a relay (actually from an E30 convertible rear screen blower) so that when reverse gear is selected power is provided to the camera and a pin on the video module plug is earthed to display the output from the camera, no matter what the screen is currently displaying. This works well and is better than having to switch the display to the AV channel before engaging reverse.

With all those wires and boxes now in the boot, I decided that a CD changer was unlikely to be used, so it was jettisoned.  That left a spare power feed.  What to do with it?  A Zoom Mobile wi-fi router that had once provided the office wi-fi also came with a 12v power supply.  In it went and the car now has its very own wi-fi hotspot. The layout and wiring all took a bit of time, but it is now complete, uses all BMW parts (apart from the wi-fi) and could have been ordered from the factory.

So into the cabin and still moving from the back forward, the Mora car had an electric rear sunblind fitted, but not operational. We checked it actually worked and it was fitted and wired correctly to the switch in the front of the car.  Fortunately the correct switch bank was with the Mora car, but as not all the wiring required at the plug was there, we needed to butcher  plug out of a scrap E39 to add pins to  the existing plug and wire them up to get power to the rear blind.

The chap with the rear seats also supplied a non working blind which luckily had an older pre facelift type of switch, so we wired that into the rear of the centre console to allow the blind to be operated by rear seat passengers independently. So, that’s the rear sun blind in and working with switches in both front and rear.  If you haven’t seen one of these in action, it’s definitely worth watching:-

Next component forward is the DSP speaker box.  It’s fairly straightforward and just bolts in and connects to the main AV loom. Nice and simple.  Result.

Now what about the GPS antenna? Where does it go? Oh, aye.  Under the rear parcel shelf.  Nae bother.  We’ll just take the sun blind and the DSP back out to fit a stupid wee thing no bigger than a box of matches. And put them back in again.

Moving forward to the electrically adjustable rear seats.  I’ll just say nearly two days of trial fit, adjust, weld, grind, trial fit, adjust, weld, grind,  trial fit ……repeat ad infinitum covers it fairly, though it ignores the time spent trimming the brackets apparently chopped out of the donor car with a blunt fireman’s axe.

Then there was the wiring, which, to be fair was, pretty quick and simple.  Oh, and the brackets that have to be removed from the donor parcel shelf and fitted.

So that’s the rear seats in.  The front seats have monitors in the back of the  headrests, but like just about every other good bit in the original FrankenSieben, they weren’t connected. A USB bank, 12v charger and various cables and HDMI box thingy are now fitted in the centre rear armrest allowing pretty much anything to connect to the screens, which are now wired up,  and phone charging etc. to be performed.

So carpets in, interior built up, seats in, dash built up with widescreen monitor and Robert is your mother’s brother. .  Again, that’s oversimplifying getting the best bits of trim out of three cars – using Vinylkote 40 (matched by Technispray to a sample) to repair scuffed bits of grey trim and recolour undamaged beige to replace broken bits discovered on removal.  I think the grey interior into the Mora car was the first E38 interior whoever did it had done – lots of broken bits, Tiger seal and PanelBond.

The 16:9 widescreen monitor was in the Mora car and the chap told me it was an X5 unit. That’s pretty standard. 16:9  RHD E38 units are very, very rare and while they will fit E38, E39 and E53, the reverse is not true and only E38 RHD units fit RHD E38s properly. X5 units are plentiful and work, but need the heater box modified to sit properly in the dash.  Ideally the viewing angle needs adjusted too.  I was preparing to make these modifications and we fitted the monitor in place.  It fitted perfectly. It must be an E38 unit. Result.



There are a couple of niggles.  Along the way, the boot remote release stopped working and I’m getting a “bootlid open” warning (both now fixed).  The coolant level sensor is playing up. There’s a foglight out and I can’t be arsed taking the undertray off to fit a new bulb and, and this always happens – because we have a couple of breakers, whenever you can’t find a trim piece, nut, bolt, screw, clip, or whatever, it’s easier and quicker to just go and take one off – we’ve a box of hundreds of wee bits left over.

I’m going to use and enjoy it for a couple of weeks and shake down any niggling faults, then it’ll get brought back in to have the wee bits and pieces done, oh, and the tank replaced.  How could I forget?

It drives just beautifully and overall, I am happy that we have turned a lowish mileage one owner, but dully specced car into a cracking well specced old Luxobarge.

It’s lived locally all its life, it has done a warranted 88000 miles and has a full service history. All three keys plus the plastic one are there. It’s on M Parallels, with clear lights. It has power fold mirrors. It has working PDC and a reversing camera.  It has DSP; 16:9 screen; Mk4 DVD Sat Nav; electric rear sun blind; sports contour 18 way front seats and heated electrically adjustable rears all in Individual piped two tone grey; M-Tech multi function wheel; headrest monitors; entertainment in the centre armrest, and, wi-fi.

I’ll consider offers around the £3000 mark, but only because I’ve seen a cracking facelift 750iL, I fancy.


Coincidence? Or Something More Disturbing?

Well, FrankenSeiben is off to what appears to be an appreciative, permanent new home in the London area.

I’m pleased with how we managed to save a car with loads of potential and turned it into a decent car. It isn’t by any stretch of the imagination original, with different paintwork, wheels, lights and interior from when it left the factory, but I think the black interior suits it very well and it looks and drives superbly.

Here it is on refurbished 19″ M Parallel replicas which set off the Mora paintwork very well indeed


It is very interesting that the interior that is now in it came out of a car – the silver car – with a VIN number only 15 earlier than this one.

So, these two cars would probably have been together on the production line at Dingolfing, on the boat to Britain and in BMW GB compound in the UK before going their separate ways in late 1999, only to be reunited at our premises 17 years later.  If only Cilla Black was still alive.

In what may have been a bout of separation anxiety, FrankenSieben shed its serpentine belt midweek. The idler and tensioner were pretty worn and both date stamped “1999”, so they were all replaced and the car prepared for its new owner’s arrival on Friday.

On Friday, on the way to the station to collect the new owner in the silver sister car, the silver one shed its serpentine belt!

Who says cars don’t have feelings?

Me.  All that can be deduced from this is that the expected lifespan of M52TUb28 belt idlers and tensioners is *exactly* 17 years and three months.

You have been warned.

The upgrading of its silver sister continues – this car is like the terraced council house with home cinema, sauna, jacuzzi, guest wing, wine cellar and motor house.

Recent additions are the E60 M5 instrument cluster (actually an E53 4.8 iS cluster)

and the famed, “porn lights” – the same as the ones pictured below.

We also finally managed to remove the supposedly good tank from one of the 735i breakers and, unusually, found a secondhand E38 fuel tank in better condition than expected. It has done a total of about five miles since being fitted and is a genuine BMW tank.

It’ll get fitted to the silver council house along with recently acquired rear air conditioning, an hydraulic soft close boot and a practice putting green.

Project Clearout Part 2 – 1991 J E30 318i Convertible £1500

The project clearout continues.

It has become apparent that, with customer restorations booked well in advance and a couple of our own “keeper” cars requiring attention, those that belong to us and are towards the end of the restoration queue may well be getting started about the same time as the next Labour Prime Minister is moving into Downing Street.

So I’ve decided to let a few go.  The 318iS headed off to a new home in Northern Ireland at the weekend and the next to become available is this potentially cracking 318i convertible.

Its attractive points include:-

3 owners;

114000 miles;

Significant history including the original invoice showing its first owner traded in a Montego for the privilege of owning a 318i convertible;

Running well;

Excellent roof;

Excellent complete interior in good order, with rear headrests and both rear speaker covers intact;

Perfect dashboard

Power roof – this works up to a point at the moment. The main point is that the horseshoe operates electrically. This is key to EM roofs. If the horseshoe doesn’t work, the horseshoe won’t lock closed – hence all the EM roof equipped cars you see in eBay and the like with the horseshoe looking like it has bounced open and the tell tale, “probably just a fuse – I haven’t had time to look at it” bullshit that we know means that the rods are bent and the motor casings are cracked.

Not this one. Push the switch to open the horseshoe, manually fold or erect the roof, push the switch to close the horseshoe. I’ve recently acquired a pair of motors and rods and cables.  I’ll include these and genuinely, if I’ve time, I’ll try to get the power roof working. Even if it’s not working, in my view he working horseshoe makes it acceptable.

M-Tech one steering wheel

It needs:-

A pair of wings;

Front valance;

Some low level (ie near the ground) rust repairs, mainly the sills, rear arches, rear valance etc. The scuttle, battery tray etc. look not too bad; but make no mistake, there is some welding work to be done here, but nothing too drastic.


Painted – I’d lose the black bumpers and paint the bumpers and mirrors body colour. I’ll include a pair of painted facelift bumpers and painted mirrors. We can provide new pattern wings modified to fit the convertible and a pattern valance if required. All lights, grilles, etc. are with the car.

It’ll probably need some minor mechanical fettling, like drop links, bushes etc., but fundamentally, it appears to be mechanically very good. It has had discs and pads front and rear very recently.

This is  very rare opportunity to buy a car with the potential to become a very desireable, low mileage, low owner, rare facelift convertible with good service history. Unlike most projects, it doesn’t need a dash; it doesn’t need a roof; it doesn’t need an interior refurb; it doesn’t need a mechanical overhaul. It just needs bodywork and painting and mechanical refreshing. It’ll come on a full set of bottle tops.



It is perfect as a winter project and it is perfecty feasible to have it  completed and ready to use and enjoy in time for next Spring. With the bodywork attended to, the condition of the remainder of this car, its low owners, low miles and history mean that this will always be a desireable car and while I hate to talk of  values, it should be possible for an enthusiast doing the majority of the work themselves and having the car professionally painted, to bring the project to a conclusion at a cost significantly less than the market value of a restored low mileage, low owner 318i convertible.

Win. Win, I think is the phrase.

Please note that I price my stuff to sell, not to invite time wasters and hagglers with default offers of half the asking price.

I’ll listen to sensible offers, after viewing. I’ll not reduce the asking price over the phone, or by text, just because you ask me to or because you live more than 30 miles away

Traders claiming to be buying it to restore for themselves and not to sell on because they’ve always loved these cars and then advertising it at a 3x markup the next day always welcome.

Nationwide transport quotes can be arranged from our recommended tame transporter if required.

More photos or photos of particular areas can be provided on request.