E24 M635CSi LONGTERMERS
First up this month, I’m happy to report that the M6 is back on the road and feeling much fitter after the latest ministrations from the good chaps at #BM-Sport
(www.bmsport.com, 020 8304 9797). Thanks to the refurbished starter motor it now starts on the button first time, every time, which is, after all, the most important aspect of car ownership… there is nothing that puts you off driving a car as much as the possibility that it’s not going to start.
Once it’s running the good news is that it’s actually a much sweeter drive than it used to be thanks to the thorough cleaning of the throttle butterflies that were severely gummed up which was spotted when the plenum was off for the starter motor to be replaced. As far as I know the last major work that was carried out on the engine was the replacement of the timing chain around 15k miles ago, but I can only conclude that when the plenum was removed for this job no one thought it a good idea to clean up the throttle bodies. They were so dirty that it seems impossible that this build up of crud had occurred in the last 15,000 miles. The upside is that it now idles beautifully – it was always somewhat lumpy and a ticked over too low previously, but it now seems to be running like a dream. It pulls more cleanly from low revs in higher gears now and it may be a placebo effect but it seems faster than it was before.
I put the new-found performance to the test when I ran it down to Munich Legends for a book signing by Tony Lewin. His latest tome, The #BMW
Century, is a good read and while it probably doesn’t go into as much depth as a real hardcore BMW aficionado might be looking for it’s a fantastic introduction to the marque and cover BMW’s first century from the aero engine days right up to the latest Project i machinery with everything in between.
If I’m popping down to Munich Legends I like to try and take the Six as bowling up in a dirty VW Passat company car doesn’t really seem the right image for the editor of a BMW magazine. The run down to Sussex was a very pleasant drive along the back roads with the #M88
singing its tunes and the chassis providing plenty of entertainment on the slightly damp and greasy Tarmac. The Falkens that came on the Style 5 wheels that I fitted to the car a while ago probably aren’t the grippiest tyres in the world but they do hang on quite well and when they do break away they’re nice and progressive, giving you plenty of time to catch the rear end before it gets too out of shape. I did enough miles in my previously owned E24s to know that the factory OE-fit Michelin TRXs would have been a far worse proposition on these roads.
Once I’d chewed the fat with several other BMW owners at the Munich Legends event and spent some time poring over a very original 2002 that’s ripe for restoration, it was time to head home for a late supper and conscious that I’d been rather longer than intended I needed to press on if Mrs H wasn’t to end up serving my dinner to the dog. And that’s when I discovered the limitations of running a classic, or perhaps this particular classic, the headlights are absolutely atrocious. Never mind the fact that they’d just been realigned and are deemed fine to pass the MoT, the level of illumination they provide on dipped beam is utterly laughable – I would probably have done just as well by gaffer taping a couple of candles to the front bumper.
It’s slightly odd really as on main beam it’s absolutely fine with the quad lamps illuminating things rather well, but as soon as you need to dip the lights because someone’s coming in the opposite direction you feel like you’ve been plunged into darkness and you need to weigh anchor pretty rapidly if you’re not going to be involved in an E24 shaped hedge interface. That’s reminded me actually, and sorry to depart on a tangent, but the brakes are now similarly much better than they were before. You get used to how the brake pedal feels in your car and really don’t notice the deterioration over time that occurs as your brake fluid slowly degrades. Having just had mine replaced the M6 has a much better feel through the pedal and is far more reassuring when you jump on the anchors. If you’ve not had your fluid replaced for a couple of years I really would recommend you have it done. Returning to the headlights though, it’s something I really will have to look into sorting – I’ve bought some upgraded bulbs – and once I’ve mustered up the energy to fit them I’m hoping things will have improved somewhat. If I can bring myself to stand out in the cold I might also see about removing the headlight washers – they’re currently seized up – as the wiper isn’t completely parked properly on the nearside light unit which must be obstructing the light somewhat.
Last month I think I mentioned I was having a bit of a daydream about fitting a larger engine to another 6 Series and I have gone so far as to have a look at a couple of potential donor cars, but both were too crusty to be viable for what I want to do. It does seem that people have an overinflated view of what an old and rusty 6 Series is worth – both the cars I looked at were high mileage 628s in really not very fine fettle – just because it’s a 1980s BMW it doesn’t automatically mean it’s worth a lot of money. I saw another 635CSi on eBay that looked promising until I did an MoT history check on it… it was evidently rustier than the Titanic underneath and had failed its last MoT on ‘excessive corrosion, seriously affecting its strength within 30cm of the body mountings’ on ten counts! Currently I’m looking at E28 Fives as prices don’t seem to be quite so ridiculous and as I type a rather nice looking example has popped up on eBay… guess where I’m going this weekend…
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 181
TOTAL MILEAGE: 163,902
MPG THIS MONTH: 23.2
TOTAL COST: £398 (MoT, starter motor, throttle body clean up, brake fluid)