Into hibernation for the winter
CAR: 1989 BMW 320i Convertible
OWNER: Glen Waddington
I feel somewhat bereft this evening. My final autumn drive was to take the BMW to its winter storage location. My garage will soon be a building site, as part of it is converted into a home office. And RH Classics (rhclassics.co. uk), based near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, kindly offered the BMW a winter home at its expanding storage facility.
I got very lucky with the weather. Not warm, but bright and crisp, so I gave the E30 a wash and buff-up, lowered the roof and headed out on the 40-mile drive. It’s at times like this that I’m glad the first owner shelled out for heated seats – and that I shelled out for a new blower motor a couple of years ago, when the original packed in. With the windows up you get the full daylight yet not too much buffeting, and the cabin stays cosy. There’s a fabulous road heading out from Market Harborough for the second half of the journey: this part of Leicestershire is relatively empty, very pretty and home to some seriously snaky tarmac. If you fancy seeking it out, it’s the B6047, and it’s especially enjoyable north of the A47, with bend after bend accompanied by matching changes in altitude as it rolls across and through the landscape.
RH Classics offers several storage options, but all are in a secure, discreet and extremely dry location: the buildings once stored potatoes! Every car is valeted and inspected, and a condition report is agreed with the owner. Fluid levels are checked, the battery disconnected, and the car is fitted with a breathable cover. Optionally the car can be connected to a trickle charger and run up to temperature fortnightly, with a condition check each time, and you can pay extra for bubble-storage. Although I know my car is safe, it was still an emotional process, leaving in the knowledge that this will be the last time I drive it for some time.
Thankfully, I have a busy season to look back on, with lots of family trips out (that’s what we bought the E30 for, nearly nine years ago now) plus plenty of excuses for a solo blast, not to mention the odd work thing. Most memorable of the latter was in September, the Octane Tour to the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court. We met for early-morning bacon sandwiches at Cliveden, in the Buckinghamshire countryside, then set off with a road book that took us via Marlow and Henley on Thames. The sun was out, but that early start provided the first hint that autumnal weather was imminent. Still, by the time we were queueing along the road in from Staines, the sun was at full strength and jacket and scarf were quickly discarded. Roofoff, naturally, a state of affairs that continued for the 100-mile trip home late that afternoon. Readers might remember that an altercation with the foglamp bracket on a 4x4’s bull-bar had left my tail-light lens cracked. This, at last, has been replaced. The new lens and fixings arrived from BMW Group Classic (bmwgroup-classic.com) and I was pleased to find that it was simply a case of disconnecting the bulb carrier and removing a few nuts with an 8mm spanner.
Easing the lens away revealed perfectly preserved paint around the aperture – I’m so thankful that the lens took the impact, and not the metalwork. A quick clean, then the new one went straight in and was soon tightened into place. This is a genuine replacement from Munich and, of course, a perfect fit. Job done.
Now, as I look up from my desk at the darkness outside, spring seems a long time away. I’ll pay RH Classics a visit at some point but, for now, the BMW is snuggled under a cover, resting. At least I’ve still got the Porsche 944 to hand.
Left and below: BMW arrives at its hibernation lair, RH Classics; study in dark metallic blue with Mark Dixon’s Range Rover at Cliveden House; new tail-light lens about to be installed; some of the 320i’s winter companions.