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    Ben Barry
    ‘Ridiculous. One does not simply “get over” combustion engines’ It’s not often that, in the course of a casual Saturday morning drive and a chat, you find yourself facing an unpleasant truth you’ve been avoiding for years. I had planned to sit in the passenger seat of ‘my’ #BMW-M850i-xDrive-G15 / #BMW-G15 / #BMW and simply ask reader Andy Cole what he thought of the car. (The story’s in Our Cars) But then things got a bit heavy. Like us, Andy’s an enthusiast.

    Like me, he’s moved by a good Bavarian straight-six; they do something to him. Or rather, they did something to him. ‘I think I’m over internal combustion engines,’ Andy told me, matter of factly. Ridiculous, I thought to myself. One does not simply ‘get over’ combustion engines. But over the next couple of days it dawned on me that, like or not, I’ll have no choice but to get over engines. This ushered in a feeling of profound sadness, so last night I cracked open a beer, wandered into my garage and sat a while contemplating my little shrine to the engine. Having replaced a popped bulb in its instrument cluster and fixed its silent horn, I replaced the fairing on my 1991 Honda VFR400, with its 399cc V4: 15,000rpm redline and 55bhp (138bhp per litre to the Ferrari 812 Superfast’s 121bhp…). Then I glanced up, at the vast print of the single most impressive Formula 1 car yet conceived, the McLaren Mp4/4: a holy – and almost perfect – combination of Gordon Murray free-thinking and another superb Honda engine, the turbo V6 (a pretty punchy 433bhp per litre). What a waste. A century of hard-won expertise, gleaned and proven in competition apparently now redundant. The electric future resets everything, and so I find myself grieving for an age that, while not behind us, is surely on borrowed time. Does Honda feel the same? Secretly, I think it does. A couple of years ago I visited its Collection Halls in Japan.
    Ostensibly Honda’s museum, it’s also a shrine to the wonder of the internal combustion engine and one company’s passionate love affair with it. And at the recent Geneva motor show, at which Honda shouted about its battery-electric e Prototype city car, I spoke with the car’s project leader, Kohei Hitomi. I told him that for me Honda was synonymous with great engines. Did it plan to build the same reputation with motors? ‘When comparing engines with electric motors, the differences in characteristics and performance will be smaller,’ he told me, looking a little sad. ‘In the past Honda made a difference; with an engine’s characteristics, its performance and its reliability. This will change with the move to electrification. We will probably have to look elsewhere to make this Honda difference.’ I could have hugged him. Don’t worry, Kohei, together we can get through this.

    My garage – and my beer fridge – are always open. Another month, another couple of awards. This month we’ve cleared space in the trophy cabinet for further recognition of CAR’s standout writing: Ben Oliver for feature writer and James Taylor for road tester, at the recent Newspress awards. You’ll find irrefutable evidence of their greatness on Drive-My.

    Enjoy the issue.
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    BMW 8-SERIES CONVERTIBLE

    / #BMW-M850i-xDrive-Cabrio-G14 / #2019-BMW-M850i-xDrive-Cabrio-G14 / #2019 / #BMW-G14 / #BMW-M850i-xDrive-G14 / #BMW-8-Series / #BMW-8-Series-G14 / #BMW-8-series-Convertible / #BMW-8-series-Convertible-G14

    More luxurious than a 911 Convertible, cheaper than an Aston DB11 Volante, the #BMW 8-series Convertible is a hard car to pigeonhole. Let’s focus on what we know – this is a droptop luxo-lounge for four, with a petrol V8 or six-cylinder diesel, and handling that doesn’t tally with a near two-tonne kerbweight.

    In reality there isn’t room for four adults and, while the diesel offers sufficient punch and low running costs, the 4.4-litre soundtrack of the M850i is just better.

    Handles well, too. Suitably taut, with none of the associated wobbliness from the lack of roof, the 8-series turns in hard and manages midcorner lumps and bumps deftly. Thank standard adaptive dampers and rear-wheel steering for that, and #xDrive all-wheel drive that means you can get back on the power early, too. All in all, perfectly placed between the 911 and DB11, and with a refined character of its own.

    First verdict

    Good refinement with a drive that makes you forget this is a ‘softer’ convertible. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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    BMW 7-SERIES 7, turned up to 11 / #BMW-G12 / #BMW-G11 / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-G11 / #BMW-7-Series-G12 / #BMW / #2019 / #BMW-750Li-xDrive-G12 / #2019-BMW-750Li-xDrive-G12

    This glitzy 7-series facelift isn’t subtle, but there’s substance behind the oversized kidney grille

    Licensed to grille, king of the grille – we could go on making poor jokes about the enormous nostrils on Munich’s updated limo but let’s be adult about this, because, believe it or not, that front end is the result of feedback from actual BMW-7-Series customers.

    BMW responded to the call for bolder styling by enlarging the trademark kidney grille by 48 per cent – it’s so big it made the standard badge look microscopic, and designers had to prise a much larger BMW roundel off an X7 to redress the balance.

    The highest point of the nose is now 5cm higher to make the front end look more upright, plus there are thinner head- and tail lights, and a light strip running full-width across the boot. Both the long- and short-wheelbase cars have grown 22 millimetres in length, while bigger vents improve the aerodynamics around the wheels.

    Tall rear-seat passengers might find themselves a little tight on headroom but are easily distracted by a pair of 10-inch displays and a Blu-ray player. As before, everything is controlled by a seven-inch removable tablet taking in seat adjustment, lighting and climate, as well as infotainment and sat-nav.

    Behind the huge honker you’ll find engines ranging from an improved plug-in hybrid to a #V12 petrol, with a new V8 and different versions of the best-selling six-cylinder turbodiesel making up the bulk of the range.

    We reckon the #BMW-745Le-xDrive-G12 plug-in hybrid is a real highlight – it’s now capable of up to 36 electric-only miles and features a more powerful straight-six petrol engine. It’s impressively wafty and serenely quiet-running in EV mode, thanks to the thicker glass now fitted all-round and more insulation in the wheelarches and B-pillars.

    But it’s the superb 4.4-litre V8 750i that’s most rewarding when you up the pace, and the stiff, Carbon Core’d chassis delivers thrills in ways no massive limo should.

    First verdict

    The 7-series remains the best driver’s car in a market where most buyers prefer to be driven by someone else.

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    BMW designers tried a 50% bigger grille, but no, too vulgar; 48% it is
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    / #1990-BMW-318i-E30 / #1990 / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW-318i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW / #1990-BMW-318i-Automatic-E30 / #BMW-318i-Automatic-E30

    £6820

    Brightwells, Leominster, March 6 Quentin delved into the BMW E30’s rising status in the last issue, where he understandably favoured the 2.5-litre cars. It seems that collective enthusiasm has already spread to lesser models – this was an overestimate result for a four-pot, four-door E30 with an auto ‘box. Balancing all that out was pretty minimal mileage at 38,350, most of its life with the same family, plus plenty of history.
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    E30 M3 STAYS COOL AT 215MPH / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-E30

    A tuned E30-generation #BMW-M3 has broken the ice speed record in Sweden. Buldre Racing Team recorded an average speed of 212mph at the Swedish Speedweek in Årsunda, recording a high of 215.5mph on one run.

    As you might have guessed, it’s no factory-spec M3, though – under the bonnet is a #Toyota-2JZ pumping out 1300bhp. This beats the team’s previous effort in an Audi RS4, which had the safety net of four-wheel drive...Watch it at
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    Seems spring has arrived early

    CAR: 1989 BMW 320i Convertible
    OWNER: Glen Waddington
    PHOTOS: Robert Hefferon

    / #1989-BMW-320i-Convertible / #1989 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B20 / #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-E30-M20 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet-M20 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet-E30

    This Time last year we had snow. My 944 had just recently blown its rep by blowing out its own electrics, and the Beemer was tucked up safely in my garage. Where it spends too much time. But I don’t like taking it out on wintry roads, because it’s nearly 30 years old, factory-original and in damn fine fettle.

    As I write this on the last day in February, I’m looking out onto a sunlit garden, daffodils swaying gently in the breeze, birdsong drifting through an open window. Two record-breakingly warm days preceded this one. But tomorrow it’s back to normal. Whatever counts for normal in 2019.

    Anyway, I’ll stop wittering, because my point is that this is the first winter during my eight-year tenure of the BMW – today is its anniversary – during which it’s been driven with anything like regularity. I was even out giving it an early spring clean last weekend, ahead of driving it to Bicester Heritage for an editorial meeting with the #Drive-My team. And I drove home with the roof down. That has rarely happened this side of April. I’m generally an advocate of use rather than storage, although I admit that when the BMW crept past 50,000 miles last year, I fleetingly wondered if I should mothball it. Winter hibernation can cause the odd issue: I’ve lost count of the new batteries I’ve fitted (even if the last one was terminally discharged when I left the bootlid slightly ajar – can’t blame the car or the weather for that one), plus I’ve been through a master cylinder, a clutch slave cylinder, a heater blower motor and a seized brake caliper. All these failures occurred within the first post-hibernation drive.

    There have been no such problems this year, and I’ll count my sunburnt forehead as a freak of the highly unseasonable weather. We’ve had a lot of frosty nights, mind. Frosty enough to make the 944 a tardy starter one morning. Rather than drain the battery, I reached for the Energizer 400A jump-starter kit I got late last summer. It wasn’t cheap at around £100, but it’s about the size of a large smartphone and can be used to charge one of those so you can cycle its battery between boosts. Connection is easy – it’s great not having to lug something heavy around – and the 944 sprang instantly to life. Indispensible for any car that is parked up for just a touch too long.
    So I’m glad I’ve got it, ready for when we have snow in June…

    Above and below: BMW bowls along at Bicester; it was joined by editor Elliott’s Triumph not-2000 – and a McLaren 12C Spider.
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    CAR: #BMW-M535i-E28 / #1985-BMW-M535i-E28 / #BMW-E28 / #BMW / #BMW-5-Series-E28 / #BMW-5-Series

    Year of manufacture #1985
    Recorded mileage 115,973
    Asking price £15,995
    Vendor Old Colonel Cars, Herts; 07407 477843; oldcolonelcars.co.uk

    WHEN IT WAS NEW
    Price £17,950
    Max power 218bhp
    Max torque 229lb ft
    0-60mph 7 secs
    Top speed 143mph
    Mpg 28

    This ‘analogue M5’ was stored for 10 years, and lots of fettling has been carried out since it came into the current ownership four years ago. Sadly there’s no service book, but there are bills to support a cylinder-head rebuild, new engine mounts, anti-roll bar rubbers, track-rod ends and a recent water pump, thermostat, viscous coupling and fuel tank, plus rebuilt front brake calipers. It’s been partially repainted, with new coachlines and badges, but there’s no serious rot. A couple of spots, each near the strut-top mounts, want cleaning off, de-rusting and painting, but they’re not as bad as they first look. Inside, the owner has sourced better seat material from another E28, which shows only light wear to the velour. The driver’s door card has suffered from a little shrinkage, which may be put right before sale but is an easy fix, and the dash plastics are good, with only almost imperceptible cracks starting. The very ’80s stalk-mounted Blaupunkt remote graphic equaliser control still works, as do the electric windows and sunroof.

    The engine sports a new header tank (they deteriorate with age) and the old one is in the boot, along with other removed parts. The coolant is a clear blue, the oil clean (only 300 miles old). Also in the boot is a full set of tools and the original spare wheel with 390mm Avon Turbospeed, but the car sits on a slightly larger set of 15in E34 alloys to make tyre choice easier (and cheaper): it wears 2017-dated 225/60 Kumho Ecstas, and the original wheels are included.

    Turn on the ignition, press the ‘check’ button in the roof console diagnostic display and all the LEDs light, and the brake warning correctly goes out when you press the pedal. It fires easily, the deep #BMW-M30 burble sharpened by a newish Powerflow exhaust – hence the extra soundproofing in the boot floor. It drives sweetly, with that very mechanical feel of a proper 5 Series. There’s plenty of torque, but it likes to rev, too. The gearchange is good, it doesn’t wander and the brakes pull up well, with a typically weighty pedal. Temperature didn’t rise above a third on the gauge. A sorted car for grown-up hooligans, with MoT until May.

    SUMMARY
    EXTERIOR Unscuffed; some new paint
    INTERIOR About as good as used ones get, with new seat fabric
    MECHANICALS In rude health
    VALUE 8/10
    For Fine old-school bruiser
    Against A couple of rust spots need catching on the inner wings

    SHOULD I BUY IT?
    Not a full-blown M5, but needs nothing major, great to drive, and all for less money than a nice 2002 or E30 325i Sport
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    What about the BMW 325ti E46?

    I’m commending you on such a great magazine. It really covers what I feel are the cars most of us mere mortals aspire to or do own without having to sell our souls. I love the mix of makes and the direct comparisons that caused such debates when the cars were new in our youth. Indeed, you featured one of my cars (my glorious BMW 850CSi E31) and that issue has achieved cult status on my coffee table.

    I would like to draw your attention to a car you seem to have overlooked, unless I have missed an article somewhere. In fact, the only mention of it appeared two years ago where you tipped it for future stardom. I give you the BMW E46 Compact 325ti.

    It’s about time we looked at the BMW 325ti E46.

    / #BMW-325ti-Compact-E46/5 / #BMW-325ti-Compact-E46 / #BMW-325ti-E46/5 / #BMW-325ti-Compact / #BMW-E46/5 / #BMW / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46/5
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    Rest and recuperation
    CAR: 1981 BMW 323i BAUR CABRIOLET
    OWNER: Sanjay Seetanah

    / #1981 / #BMW-323i-Top-Cabrio / #BMW-323i-Top-Cabrio-E21 / #BMW-323i-Cabrio-E21 / #BMW-323i-E21 / #BMW-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E21 / #BMW / #M20B23 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 / #BMW / #BMW-323i-Baur / #BMW-323i-Baur-E21 / #BMW-323i-Baur-Cabriolet / #BAUR / #1981-BMW-323i / #1981-BMW-323i-E21 / #1981-BMW-323i-Baur / #Bosch-K-Jetronic / #Boxd

    It’s been a few months since I last wrote an update on my Baur Cabriolet, but it has been in regular use and pretty much my everyday car. Since I bought it in August 2015 I have added around 10,000 mies to the 106,748 it showed then, even though it spent most of 2016 being restored. It’s certainly getting more use than it had with the previous owner.

    Post-restoration snags carried on into 2018. We had to get the boot repainted because it was patchy in places, and the rear quarter panels started to show signs of rusting, as did a small area around the rear quarter windows, the battery support plate came away altogether and had to be bolted back into place. Maybe they didn’t get rid of all the rust...

    With everyday use, things are likely to go wrong at some stage with a 38-year-old car. During restoration we reconditioned and re-used as many mechanical parts as possible, but more work was soon needed. A whining noise from the front, like a quiet jet engine, turned out to be the wheel bearings so I had all of them changed, front and rear. Next was a horrendous clicking noise underneath from a disintegrating exhaust downpipe. Exhaust parts for right-hand-drive E21 BMW's are like hens’ teeth, but a pair of new-old-stock downpipes showed up on eBay only an hour away, in Marlborough - sorted!

    Next, a grinding clutch release bearing, replaced along with the rest of the clutch. And then, towards the end of the summer, I started having to top up the coolant more frequently. All seemed well on a compression test, so it’s probably not a leaking head gasket. Finally, the oil-pressure light started to glow when idling.

    I met up with Sam Lawrence, at Boxd in South-east London, a new and very popular storage facility. Boxd offers a maintenance service, too, so while your car is in storage they can, for a fee, tinker with it during the winter so it’s niggle-free when you have it back in the spring.

    With that oil-light problem I didn’t want to risk driving the BMW, so I had it transported to Boxd for the technical staff there to assess, they found plenty to keep them busy, the clonks on braking and cornering were from a poorly fitted alarm, found rolling loose in the scuttle area, there was a smell of petrol, requiring a check of hoses and clips around the tank and pump, they will check the whole cooling system for leakage, and fix an oil leak by replacing the sump gasket while carrying out a service. As for the indication of low oil pressure, they’ll start with the warning light’s switch.

    What else? A new seal should stop the major water leak past the offside rear light cluster, the rear silencers will be renewed, blown dashboard bulbs will be replaced with LEDs, and the heater fan made quieter, the non-responsive lever for cold air will receive a new cable, if necessary. Reinstating missing washers in the (loose) wiper mechanism should fix a leak into the scuttle, and the bonnet needs a new torsion spring, the headlights are dim, too - might they deserve an upgrade?

    I’m hoping there will be time to tackle most of the above by spring but, with such a mild winter to date, I am missing it already. Worse, I’m surfing the net to find more Baurs for sale. I must be mad.

    Top and left: BMW has luxury transport, by Classic Automotive Relocation Services, to its winter retreat and health spa at Boxd.
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