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    TEAM ADVENTURE
    Ten amazing clubs, nominated by you, one big judging trip. This is how we chose Britain’s Best Classic Car Club

    WORDS THE DRIVE-MY TEAM. PHOTOS MATT HOWELL.

    It has taken the best part of a year but, after you told us which of Britain’s local clubs we should visit, we set off to find the answer to the question: which is best? We’re now ready to reveal the winner.

    But before we do, join us on the giant classic car run around Britain that meant we could make an informed decision. Along the way, we discovered some incredible cars and great stories. We also realised that the classic car hobby is evolving. The thriving clubs, the ones which are growing, are the ones that make fewest demands. They are informal, fun and give those who turn up the freedom to do their own thing. They are welcoming, multi-marque, don’t discriminate on age or condition and they are all typified by a distinct lack of snobbery. We would have happily joined any of them. They are, quite simply, all winners.

    The journey itself was a proper blast. We met friends old and new, overcame obstacles, were introduced to some fantastic driving roads and, of course, were wowed by the cars. We also had a yearning to head further north and west in particular. If this had been at trip to visit the top 15 clubs voted for by you we would have been heading deep into Scotland and Northern Ireland. So we start with A picture of us looking west from West Wales… we Promise to cross the Irish Sea soon.

    / #1988-Citroen-CX22-TRS / #Citroen-CX22-TRS / #1988 / #Citroen-CX / #Citroen / #Citroen-CX22

    I bought this CX in 2012 after a long search to find one of the 12models of this type left. With that, and the fact it is designed to eat high mileages, he was bound to bring it. Given its regular long-distance use, he had little to fear from unexpected happenings.

    / #1980-Triumph-TR7 / #Triumph-TR7 / #Triumph

    Danny Hopkins
    It had lived under the flatbed of an old lorry for ten years, so was unprepared for such a huge journey, but with days to spare Danny managed to service it, repair the bonnet and electrics, and a fit new battery and tyres. So, it would be able to make it to the start.

    / #1972-MGB-GT / #MGB-GT / #MGB
    Matt Tomkins’

    With rebuilt engine fitted and oil pressure achieved a week before the off ,Matt pressed the ’B into use and managed to cover 400miles in just four days. At this point he declared it ‘run-in’, changed the oil then pointed the nose towards Pembroke with hope in his heart and an AA card in his wallet.
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    ELLIOTT STILING
    1988 E32 750iL V12
    2017 F22 230i M SPORT COUPÉ
    1983 ALPINA B9 3.5 (E28)

    Alpina B9 3.5 (E28)
    YEAR: 1983
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 138,520
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 0
    TOTAL COST: £25 (relays), £10 (fuel hose), £40 (ignition coil), £20 (distributor)

    E32 750iL #BMW-V12 / / #BMW-E32 / #BMW-750iL / #BMW-750iL-E32 / #BMW-7-series-E32 / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW / #M70 / #BMW-M70
    YEAR: #1988
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 119,572
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 12
    MPG THIS MONTH: 18.7
    TOTAL COST: £136.14 (MoT work), £10 (seatbelt buckle), £50 (storage)

    F22 230i Coupé
    YEAR: 2017
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 18,934
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 851
    MPG THIS MONTH: 38.7
    TOTAL COST: Still none

    Last month I made a promise to update you on Maggie’s #MoT and the Alpina’s non-start issue, so here goes.

    The annual MoT test can be a nerve-wracking ordeal for any classic car owner, but I had faith that Maggie’s test wouldn’t produce a fail sheet as long as my arm. Thankfully, as it turned out, my hunch was spot-on!
    The fail list consisted of two tyres which were not fitted in accordance with the side wall instructions, a windscreen wiper that doesn’t clear the windscreen effectively, the horn not working, a rear seatbelt buckle that was found to be broken and a ball joint dust cover that was no longer preventing the ingress of dirt. However, all things considered, I didn’t think there was actually terribly much to put right and, to be honest, most of them were things that I was already aware of. What’s more, the bill wasn’t too bad at all, either, at just £136.14, which included the test fee. Sadly, though, that inner glow of well-being wasn’t to last.

    While I was out with the car on the photoshoot for this month’s E32 Buyers Guide, I suddenly became aware of an odd, groaning and grinding sound emanating from somewhere under the bonnet. It lasted for a few miles until the power steering failed followed, shortly after that, by a loss of brake pressure. Thankfully, we managed to get all the photos we needed for the feature, and then limped Maggie home without further incident. She’s now sitting patiently, awaiting a slot at the garage to investigate things further.

    Early research would suggest that the most likely culprits could be either a failed power steering pump, air being drawn into the system, a drive belt failure or a brake bomb failure. However, it shouldn’t be the latter as that part was replaced fairly recently, but I’ll just have to wait and see what the garage can find.

    As you saw last month, I’m also having some challenges with the Alpina. It’s never once failed to start in all the time I’ve owned it, but is definitely showing not the slightest interest in fi ring-up now. In an effort to isolate the problem, I bought myself a multimeter and began testing various parts with that. But, in the end, I think it’s better to just replace the most likely candidates, on the basis that they will all then have another fresh lifespan on them.

    Finding parts hasn’t been overly challenging, although you can’t really buy bigger parts from BMW any more. Thankfully, though, there are plenty of alternative options online. So far, I’ve picked up a new distributor and rotor arm, a DME relay, fuel pump relay and an ignition coil. Hopefully, I will find time in the next week or so to fi t these myself, and see if that does the job. I’ve also noticed a strong smell of petrol coming from under the bonnet, and have traced that back to the fuel pipe that runs to the cold start injector. I don’t think it’s related to the starting issue but, clearly, a weeping fuel line in the engine bay is never a good idea, so I’ll be tackling that, also.

    If there’s one positive thing to come out of the current situation, it’s that I get to spend a bit of time getting hands-on with the Alpina; E28s are always nice cars to work on. Of course, if the problem turns out to be more involved than I’m currently hoping, I might be forced to eat those words! It does mean, though, that the car won’t see the light of day this side of Christmas, because I’m struggling to see a time when I can get the subsequent MoT sorted before we go away to the West Coast of Scotland in the New Year.

    Below: The E28 is a good car to work on which, as it turns out, is a good thing. For the first time since I’ve had the Alpina, it won’t start and I’ve yet to isolate the problem. But among the new electrical components I’ve already sourced online, is a new #distributor .

    The Alpina’s also developed a fuel leak, coming from the pipe that supplies the cold start #injector .

    The annual MoT test can be a nerve-wracking ordeal for any classic car owner, but I had faith that Maggie’s test wouldn’t produce a fail sheet as long as my arm. Despite the MoT test success, Maggie rather blotted her copybook on a recent BMW Car magazine photo shoot, with an as yet unidentified power steering and brake pressure failure.
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    Ferrari 400/412 values on the up. It could be now or never if you want to buy into the V12 dream for around £50k. / #Ferrari-400i / #Ferrari-400 / #Ferrari-V12 / #Ferrari / #V12 / #Ferrari-412i / #Ferrari-412i-Auto / #1988 / #1981 / #Ferrari-412-Automatic

    CHASING CARS Quentin Willson’s hot tips

    Quentin Willson’s hot tips There’s some bustle around the Ferrari 400 and 412. A change in affection has hardened prices with exceptional cars now touching £80k. Neal Gordon in Chelsea has a blue ’1981 right-hand-drive 400i auto with only 16,000 miles and total Ferrari history for £84,950, while Gallery Aaldering in Holland has an ’1983 LHD auto in dark blue with 22,000 miles, three owners and big history for £53,000. Right-hand-drive 400is are rarest, with only 152 cars produced, and the biggest prize is a UK-supplied manual with only 25 examples ever built. The later, rarer and more reined 412 is a good bet too, with Justin Banks in Kent offering an ’1988 412 auto in metallic black, with extensive history and 36,000 miles for a very reasonable £34,995.

    As the last of the affordable V12 Ferraris, you can see why there’s been an upswing. With roots going back to the Daytona – including that distinctive body swage line – lush Connolly leather cabins and surprising usability, canny collectors looking for value are now seeing low-mileage 400s with fresh eyes. Significantly, they’re beginning to command more than 456 GTs which is another sign of new interest.

    They’re also historically significant as the first automatic Ferrari ever. They also had the longest model production run, 17 years. My punt would be on the final series ’1985-on 412 with its Marelli ignition, anti-lock braking, plusher cabin and better drivability – they’re rarer than the 400 too with only 576 built. In the metal all 400s look terrific, low, handsome and classy and were given an aesthetic knighthood by motoring scribe LJK Setright who described the silhouette as ‘one of the most beautiful and elegant bodies ever to leave the lead in Pininfarina’s pencilling vision’. He wasn’t wrong.

    Find yourself a wellfettled, low-mileage 400i or 412 with bulging history file and you’ll be buying one of the few Seventies/Eighties Ferraris that wasn’t hyped in the Prancing Horse boom years. Think of it this way – this is a front-engined V12 classic Ferrari still available for around £50k. That statement might not hold for very much longer.
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    ELLIOTT STILING 1983 E28 ALPINA B9 3.5 / 1988 E32 750iL #V12

    / #BMW / #BMW-E32 / #BMW-750iL / #BMW-V12 / #BMW-750iL-E32 / #BMW-750i-E32 / #BMW-7-series-E32
    YEAR: #1988
    CAR: E28 Alpina B9 3.5
    YEAR: 1983
    TOTAL MILEAGE: Can’t remember
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 0
    MPG THIS MONTH: 0
    TOTAL COST: 0

    CAR: E32 750iL V12
    YEAR: 1988
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 118,797
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 0
    MPG THIS MONTH: 0
    TOTAL COST: Racking-up!

    This month has been all about the 750iL. I dropped by Hardings Garage to see how Steve and Dale have been getting on, and am happy to report that good progress has been made.

    The guys have fitted the non-electronic suspension and it was a relief to hear that the job went well – partially because that should translate into a slightly more palatable labour bill, although I have no idea what this is all costing, because we haven’t agreed any figures yet!

    Before deciding to have that work done, I researched the modification, and it was clear that the removal of the failed EDC insert from the strut sleeve could be both challenging and frustrating. I was expecting an ‘if we knew it would be this bad, we wouldn’t have agreed to do it’-type conversation, but Steve said the old insert came out really easily, then the new one went in perfectly.

    The next job is to delete the SLS or Self Levelling (rear) Suspension because, as you can see from the photograph, the rear ride height isn’t correct yet. If you look closely, you’ll also see that the system threw all of its fluid out over the ramp when powered-up for the first time. Hopefully, though, this should be as easy to sort as the internet suggests. The other main job needed was to fix the solid brake pedal problem, which has afflicted the car ever since I bought it. Of course, the previous owner didn’t know anything about that... cough.

    Despite replacing another part in the braking system a few months ago, it’s now apparent the actual culprit is the brake accumulator sphere. This device meters out the hydraulic pressure for the brakes and steering, and complete failure of this part means you have neither when you need them most – gulp.
    However, the bad news is that after researching the correct part number, I’ve discovered that it isn’t available anywhere. Internationally, BMW itself scrapped all remaining spheres in 2014, when the newest stock reached its maximum stocking age of five years.

    Despite scouring the (internet) world, I cannot find another matching sphere anywhere, so all V12 E32 owners worldwide could suffer from this challenge. So, with necessity being the mother of all creation, we’ve had to think outside the box to solve this one.

    There’s no way an E32 V12 should be consigned to being a parts car because a single component in the braking system isn’t available. I could fit a second-hand part, maybe, but it’ll be the same age as the part that’s failed. That doesn’t make much sense, so I’ve bought a brand new 735i part instead, and have tasked Hardings with modifying it to fi t, and thus keep my old girl running.

    We have a date with an M760Li coming up soon (keep your eyes peeled for a future issue), and I want to make sure Maggie puts in a good showing. More next month on whether the modification worked because, as we stand right now, I don’t actually have a credible Plan B.

    There’s work still to be done on the 750iL’s suspension. Having removed the EDC units, the ride height needs further adjustment, and then there’s the fluid loss…

    This is a 735i brake accumulator sphere. The correct part for the 750iL is no longer available from BMW, so let’s hope this one can be adapted as necessary.
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    Wabenzi in Africa

    OWNER: ROBERT COUCHER

    CAR: #1988-Mercedes-Benz-560SEC-C126 / #1988 / #Mercedes-Benz-560SEC-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-126-Series / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-126-Series / #Mercedes-Benz-W126 / #Mercedes-Benz-W126-Coupé / #V8

    I haven’t mentioned the ‘Big Block’ before. This is the Mercedes-Benz 560SEC C126 my father has owned for over a decade. It lives in Cape Town and on our last trip over for Christmas he lent it to my wife and I.

    I had never taken much notice of it before. I was never mad about the colour - a Broederbond racing bronze, significant because it is rumoured the car was previously cwned by General Magnus Malan, a past Minister of Defence in South Africa.

    But I have read that the W126 series, 5547cc #Mercedes-Benz-V8 560SEC was often cited as the best coupe of the 1980s. Weighing some 1750kg and pumping out about 300bhp, it promises a 0-60mph time of seven seconds and a top whack of 150mph. So I pile my wife’s ample luggage into the huge boot and we motor off in comfort. The Benz slides down the motorway in air-conditioned serenity with its typical MB wooden throttle response, woollen steering and sluggish auto-box.

    Leafing through the Big Block's fat silver- covered handbook, it seems it has a fully stamped MB service history from new and the 167,000km (104,000 miles) reading is correct. Then I read that the gearbox has two settings: ‘E’ for economy and ‘S' for standard. Surely ‘S’ is for sports...

    Next morning, on a solo mission, I fire up the 560 and switch to ‘S’ mode. The Benz pulls away in first gear (in E it moves off in second) and instantly feels a lot more alert. After allowing the big V8 to warm properly, I reach the bottom of a long mountain pass and floor it. The Wabenzi draws a deep breath and hoofs up the road with a muted roar. The steering, despite its loose straight-ahead position, becomes accurate when weighted into the comers, the handling is taut and sharp when pushed, and the big brakes more than capable of slowing the beast down for the next bend.

    Later, with my wife back on board, I slip the gearbox back into ‘E’ mode and smile in the knowledge that the Big Block can be awakened at the merest flick of that innocuous little switch.

    Above Switch to the left of the transmission selector is key to unlocking 560SECs huge potential.
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    LIGHTS AND BRAKES #BMW-E34 / #BMW-535i / #BMW-535i-E34 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E34 / #BMW

    My E34 535, which I’ve had for many years, is now not showing the service interval lights properly. Currently, one green comes up, but there was no reaction when I tried to reset them with the tool.

    The Haynes manual warns that the battery may leak and cause problems. I’m probably lucky that it hasn’t already happened! Anyway, have you got a source for a replacement light module?

    One other thing. During last year’s MoT, the tester had a problem to get sufficient handbrake effort; he managed it, but only just. Later, I removed the discs to examine the installations and, actually, they both seemed to be quite alright. So I cleaned-up the handbrake drums and the linings just to be sure, then re-assembled everything.

    On the road the brakes didn’t feel much different. However, I do have the #Autocar issue from May 25, #1988 , which includes the 535 road test. In that, the brake test shows 26% for the handbrake and a braking distance of 116 feet from 30mph.

    So, I’m wondering if there’s anything sensible that I could do to improve matters? I’d hate to see the old girl get grounded for this.
    • The E34 doesn’t have batteries in the SI board, but the green lights can fail with age. New circuit boards from BMW are an insane price (£2000+) so, iThe E34 doesn’t have batteries in the SI board, but the green lights can fail with age. New circuit boards from BMW are an insane price (£2000+) so, in my opinion, the best thing to do is simply leave it alone, especially if the rest of it still works.

      Handbrakes will need new shoes and clips, plus new drums, if they’re going to work properly. Correct adjustment is also very important, and entails fully slackening-off at the handbrake lever inside the car, and setting it up on the rear discs/drums, before adjusting on the lever to finish it off.
        More ...
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    / #BMW-5-Series-E34 / #BMW-540i-E34 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-525iX-E34 / #BMW-525iX / #BMW-E34 / #BMW / #1994-BMW-525i-SE-Auto-E34 / #BMW-525i-SE-Auto-E34 / #1995-BMW-540i-LE-E34


    When the trade applies the words ‘price on request’ to their adverts it tells us two things – first they’re shy of advertising a price because they’re feeling the market, and second, values of that model are on the rise.

    Have a look at prices of BMW’s #1988 to #1996 E34 5 Series – M5s have gone ballistic, but all E34s are moving up across the range with dealers pitching good ones bullishly. But before the supply of low-mileage survivors gets soaked up it’s worth seeing what’s out there at sensible money.

    A private seller in Wigan has a ’1990 525i SE auto in Granite with 50k and two owners for £2800 while another in Essex has a ’1991 520i SE auto in Island Green with 51k, unused spare and toolkit for £3800. These prices don’t feel heavy for such low-mileage specimens. And neither does the £7995 being asked by Auto Classics in Kettering for a ’1994 525i SE auto in Calypso with a mere 21,000 miles, #FBMWSH and in ‘time warp’ condition.

    Go for the big engines and high specs and remember that the Tourings are more coveted than saloons. Picks of the range are the ’1992-on BMW-540i V8 manual (3203 built), the 1995 540i LE with its M5 interior, six-speed manual and Servotronic steering (300 made) and 540 M Sport (200 built).

    The Ercole Spada and J Mays designed E34 was a game-changer for Munich and was the first 5 Series to have a V8, an estate body and four-wheel drive on the #BMW-525iX-E34 . It was stiffer and more streamlined than the previous E28. BMW sold more than 1.3 million and it won a slew of best-in-class awards.

    The E34 was the definitive executive saloon of the Nineties and at the top of every middle manager’s company car wish list. Tough and long-lived there are plenty of E34s that have covered 250,000 miles and they’re surprisingly rust resistant with problem areas limited to head gaskets, water pumps, slipping autos, the usual suspension and steering bushes plus issues with sulphur contamination on the Nikasil bore liners – although most were fixed under warranty.

    While there’s a supply of lower-mileage examples still in private hands you could do worse than find a high-spec six or V8 before they get hyped up. Like the Arctic Silver ’ #1995 530i SE manual for sale in Kent for £4250 with 43,000 miles and full history. That one definitely feels like a bargain.

    COST NEW £23k
    VALUE NOW £4000

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    Posh trade puts XJ V12 luxo-barges back in fashion

    / #Jaguar-XJ-Series-3 / #V12 / #Jaguar-Sovereign / #Jaguar-XJ12-Series-3 / #Jaguar-Sovereign-V12 / #Jaguar-XJ / #1988 / #Jaguar / #Jaguar-XJ6-Series-3 /

    There was a time when the bigdrinking, big-rusting V12 XJ was a hard sell. But that seems to be changing. The posh London trade is now pushing prices of fine low-milers up to £20k and soaking up the ready supply of Japanese imports. Exclusive Classic Cars in Burton upon Trent has a 1990 Daimler Double-Six in Westminster Blue, 24,000 miles with history for £16,995 while Seymour Pope in Herts has a perfect ’1991 import in Solent Grey with just 10,000 miles for £19,940.

    Look hard and you can still find tempting price abnormalities like the 47,000-mile Dorchester Grey ’1988 with McCarthy Cars in Croydon for £7995 or the ’1992 23,000-miler with The Car Warehouse in Cleveland for £9999. Both very fair money for what’s fast becoming a very desirable Jag. The silky 12-pot, gorgeous cabin and handsome Pininfarina-tweaked lines (best in darker colours) make this the most reined XJ of all, good for 147mph and 60mph in 7.5 seconds.

    I’m not usually a fan of Jap imports but in this instance their salt-free roads means repatriated cars are less rust-prone than UK versions. Corrosion round the screens can be expensive, headliners always sag and head gaskets can fail.

    Double-Sixes are slightly more desirable than Sovereign V12s but it’s all about condition. As a #luxo-classic for the weekends that can also cope with brisk stints on motorways these slinky 5.3 saloons take some beating. Many years ago I could have bought #Margaret-Thatcher ’s official Sovereign V12 from a BCA sale for just £4000. And there was I thinking it was too expensive.

    VALUE 2012 £7500
    VALUE NOW £10.5k
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    / #1988 quattro had done 145k miles but had been properly looked after.

    / #Audi-Quattro / #Audi / #1988-Audi-Quattro

    Case history snapped up

    When we are putting the magazine together each month, we frequently ponder over which of our Case histories we would most like to own, and the Audi quattro in the February issue found a lot of favour.

    We were not alone in our appreciation, either, as its now-former owner Dr Jonathan Davies told us: “I had firm interest from three people as soon as the magazine came out. I had offers of deposits, and people wanting to view the car at various times, so I took a bold decision: not an auction but a race! “I said the first person to deposit the full amount would own the car.

    One declined to buy without seeing it (fair enough). Two wanted to continue, and I received notification of a transfer after close of business the same day, which translated into funds in my account the following morning. The new owner came up, checked over the Audi, and drove off happy. Good car, good write-up, good price and a good deal all round!”
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