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    / #1993-Jaguar-XJ220 / It’s hard for me to believe I’ve owned my #McLaren-F1 for over 20 years. What’s even harder to believe is that I almost didn’t buy it. #1993 / #Jaguar

    There had been a number of other supercars on the market that turned out to be disappointing. There was the #Jaguar-XJ220 , meant to have a V12 engine but later changed to a twin-turbo V6. There was also the Vector, an American supercar using a large #twin-turbo V8 and also not quite what was promised. So when the F1 finally came out, with the price tag more than double that of some other supercars, a lot of people thought, well, how good could it be? I was one of those sceptical people. Back in 1992, $810,000 for a car seemed crazy.

    You could get a Rolls-Royce, a Ferrari and a Lamborghini for that much money. #McLaren hoped to sell 300 cars but that scepticism, plus a worldwide recession, forced them to shut down after just 64 road cars, 28 race cars and a handful of prototypes. Just 106 cars in total. Another reason I didn’t pursue the F1 was because, at the time, it couldn’t be sold in America. The driving position was not legal, it hadn’t been Federalised and it didn’t pass California smog tests.

    In a classic case of not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone, stories started appearing about the greatest car that nobody bought. Then a white knight appeared in the form of billionaire Bill Gates. After having trouble registering his Porsche 959, he helped introduce a law called Show And Display. What this law said was, any vehicle no longer in production, and considered to be of historical or technical interest, could be privately imported and driven in America no more than 2500 miles a year. That’s when I started looking. I called McLaren and spoke to a gentleman called Harold Dermott. ‘Any F1s for sale?’ I asked.

    He said: ‘Yes, we have a very nice one here; black with black interior, and it’s $800,000.’

    ‘But that’s what it is new! It’s a second-hand car!’ ‘Well, there aren’t any new ones,’ Harold said. ‘And we think they’ll hold their value.’

    I knew the car had been at McLaren about a month, with no takers. So I said to Harold, ‘Look, I’ll call you back in two weeks,’ secretly hoping the car would be sold by then and I would be stopped from making the biggest financial mistake of my life. Which was buying a car I’d never seen, let alone driven, in a foreign country with no guarantee I could bring it into the US. After two weeks I called Harold back. He said they still had it, although they’d had an enquiry that day.

    Sensing that this was the oldest car-salesman trick in the book, I quickly fell for it. ‘I’ll take it,’ I said. I then naively asked Harold if the car had air-conditioning. ‘It does’, Harold replied, before adding in that classic understated English way, ‘but if you want the good airconditioning, it’s $25,000 extra.’

    I don’t need to tell you that it was the most brilliant financial decision I ever made. When I purchased the F1 it seemed like the most complicated thing in the world. Imagine a car you hooked up to a computer, and a guy in England could look at a screen and tell you what’s wrong! Now, compared with modern supercars it seems almost simple, and in some ways it is. It even has a tool kit.

    On my website, Jay Leno’s Garage, you might have seen us removing the engine from the F1 to replace the fuel cell. We did it in 2013 and we did it again a week ago. It made me fall in love with the car all over again.

    Fixing even the simplest things on the F1, like replacing the battery, makes you feel like the mouse who took the thorn out of the lion’s paw. Is working on an F1 intimidating? Of course it is. But when you see it laid out on the garage floor, you realise it’s still a car and should be used as such.

    There may be modern supercars that are faster, but none is more seductive and intoxicating. The induction noise, the manual gearbox, the lack of driver aids such as #ABS and stability control, really make it the ultimate driving experience. I’m proud of the 12,000 miles I’ve put on my F1, and I like to think I’ll put a lot more than that on it in the next 20 years. Investment be damned! The downside is they’ve become incredibly valuable and a lot of people are afraid to drive them. The upside is they’re so valuable they can almost never be totalled. If the only piece you have left after a horrible accident is the chassis plate, just take it to Woking and they’ll repair it. And, just like your Mustang or your MG, it even seems to run better right after you wash it.

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    STEVEN’S E31 850Ci / #BMW-E31 / #BMW-850Ci / #BMW-850Ci-E31 / #BMW / #BMW-8-Series / #BMW-8-Series-E31 / #V12 / #BMW-V12 / #M70 / #BMW-M70 / #exhaust-rust / #seatbelt-covers / #E31-specific-part

    The search continued this month to find small random jobs that needed finishing off before I sell the 850, and you’ll be pleased to hear that I managed to find a few. Therefore I couldn’t sell it until it was finished. Logical, no?

    The first job was on the seats. When I replaced the interior, the seatbelt coverings on the seats were worn. They are protected by a plastic coating which has worn away, presumably by people climbing in and out of the ridiculously small rear seats. I tried to source replacements from BMW and, surprisingly, pricing them up only came to about £100 for both seats. For an E31-specific part, this is amazingly cheap. Unfortunately I then discovered that they were no longer available (aargh!) so that simply wasn’t an option. Finding a decent set second hand was also impossible as most are in a similar condition, and breakers don’t like taking parts off interiors as they can’t then sell the whole interior as ‘complete.’ So I decided to recondition the set I had, and set to work removing them from the car (they simply unclip and unscrew). I sanded them down using some medium sandpaper followed my some wet and dry emery paper to flatten the remaining paint. I then coated them in several coats of primer, then paint. The paint I chose was a bit of a guess, but BMW Steel Grey seemed pretty close, so several coats of that went on.

    I finished by coating them in a satin lacquer to better reflect the original finish of the parts. I’m pretty chuffed with the results, and amazingly the colour match is pretty much bang-on. They definitely make the interior look less tired.

    The second job was rather more vital. My exhaust seemed to be hanging a bit low on one side, and a quick look underneath revealed why. One of the exhaust back box hangers had failed, tearing a hole in the exhaust. The other side was still attached but had torn due to the weight. This was clearly an issue that couldn’t wait so I arranged for it to be welded back up. It doesn’t look very pretty, but it doesn’t need to as no one can see it, and if it keeps my exhaust from falling off on the motorway then it’s probably a job well done.

    Any more jobs? Well, the #ABS light has come back on, and the brake pedal feels a bit weird. I might have to have a quick check before I advertise, just to be on the safe side, y’know…

    Worn seatbelt covers were removed, sanded and painted. Exhaust back box hanger failed and made a hole. Seatbelt covers now look good as new. Exhaust and hanger patched up.
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    Ready-to-race #AMG / #Mercedes-AMG / #Mercedes-AMG-GT-R-C190 / #Mercedes-Benz-C190 / #Mercedes-AMG / AMG / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-AMG-GT / #Mercedes-AMG-GT-R / #2017 / #2018

    Testing the track-focused GT4 sibling of the AMG GT R
    Words Kyle Fortune

    ‘It’s very demanding, very technical,’ says Thomas Jäger, who’s driving me round Paul Ricard in an AMG GT R and describing the best line. Demanding and technical are not words I was hoping to hear, especially as in a few minutes I’ll be strapped into the Mercedes-AMG GT4, the GT R’s racing twin. With as much nonchalance as I can muster, I get in the GT4. It’s not as easy as the GT R. I’m trussed-up in five-point harnesses in a deep, body-hugging bucket seat surrounded by a cage and nets, a twin-grip steering wheel in front, with a digital read-out behind it.

    Jäger’s telling me what all the buttons and knobs do, saying to leave the #ABS setting at 7, though to start with traction control at 3 and move it up to 6 or 7. In true Spinal Tap fashion the dial goes up to 11, but we’ll stick with Jäger’s advice. He should know, after all, having wound 30,000km onto it, along with Bernd Schneider and Jan Seyffarth honing it to be both reliable and competitive.

    That’s a tricky yet necessary balance with a race car, especially a customer one. Add in the need for it to be, in Jäger’s words, ‘easy to drive and forgiving’ for those who don’t possess quite the skill-set that he has. People like me, then, or at least people like me with the €200,000 needed to buy this #Mercedes-AMG-GT4 and the desire to take it racing.

    Indeed, Jäger anticipates demand will be high, GT4 appealing as a category because it’s affordable, relatively speaking. There’s plenty of competition, too, from Audis, Aston Martins, BMWs, Corvettes, Ginettas, Maseratis, McLarens, Porsches and more. If that sounds like a disparate bunch then their performance will be equalised by the FIA’s Balance of Performance formula, Jäger anticipating the #Merecedes-AMG-GT4 to run around 400bhp from its twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine. Today it’s at 503bhp…

    The relationship to the GT R helps reduce costs. There’s a steel body instead of a GT3 car’s carbon, the GT4 has the same track as a GT R, the wishbones are off-the-shelf, and pretty much everything bar the safety equipment, slick tyres, bigger front splitter and electronics come from the road car.

    Not that you’d know it inside: it’s pure racer. Trip the ignition switch, press the button on the pistol-grip wheel and the 4.0-litre V8’s cacophony fills the cabin. Keep the clutch floored, pull the right paddle and the first of its six gears is fired in, with a spit of air from the pneumatic system that selected it.

    Plenty of revs, lift the clutch… and stall. A quick prod of the start button and the engine fires; more revs and the GT4 pulls out of the pits, juddering as it fights the urge to drive quickly. Everything about its make-up is about the pursuit of speed. It gets easier as the pace rises; the track, as #Jäger suggests, is demanding but the car is an absolute joy.

    There’s immediacy to its responses, the steering is sharp (though today there’s some safe understeer that could easily be dialled out), grip is sensational, the brakes are mighty. The eight laps that follow are a joyous mix of highs and frustrations, as it’s apparent that I’d need a lot more time and money to really get the best of it. Neither of which I have. If you do, you’re very lucky indeed.

    Below With 503bhp from its #Twin-turbo #V8 , the #GT4 understeers safely around Paul Ricard – although its suspension settings are highly adjustable…
    ‏ — at 2760 Route des Hauts du Camp, RDN8, 83330 Le Castellet, France
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    No ferries, said Ferrari, or racetracks, and no more than 356 miles / 500km. And 24 hours maximum. So, what to do with a 770hp / 574kW F12tdf for the day? 24 Heaven. / #Ferrari-F12tdf / #2017-Ferrari-F12tdf / #Ferrari-F12 / #Ferrari / #Ferrari-250GTO / #Ferrari-250 / #Ferrari-250-GTO /


    Twenty-four hours, 500km. That' s how long we can keep, and how far we are allowed to drive, this Ferrari F12tdf. What to do with it? Track use is off limits and the small print says that we must not cross the channel. There’s a brief thought of putting it on a trailer and taking it to the Scottish Highlands, but that would be a right faff and would leave us with about ten minutes at the wheel. So we’ll simply go for a nice drive in the country and pop in to see some friends for tea. Car-minded sort of friends.

    There’s some good history in Slough, apart from being the location for Ricky Gervais’s The Office. Ford Advanced Vehicles’ workshop was on the Slough Trading Estate (in a building that was later the home of JW Automotive, of Gulf GT40 and 917 fame) and so was Team Surtees before it moved to Kent. In the mid-’60s Lola was in premises on Yeovil Road, which is just around the corner from Ferrari’s main office. You go to the showroom at the old Maranello Concessionaires in Egham to buy your Ferrari but test cars are collected from a nondescript building in Slough.

    If I was Ferrari I’d get the council to re-lay the road outside its office. It’s bumpy as hell and even with the tdf’s suspension in the softest, Bumpy Road setting, it’s not doing my back much good. I might not be able to walk by the end of today. Thankfully, when we reach a better bit of blacktop the ride becomes acceptable. Stiff, but no need for the osteopath yet.

    What an engine. The tdf’s 6.3-litre #Ferrari-V12 produces 770hp / 574kW at 8500rpm (DIN power). It is the most powerful naturally aspirated engine I’ve ever experienced, and that includes the 8.2-litre Chevy in a McLaren M8F Can-Am car. But it’s not just the power output that’s staggering, it’s how refined those 12 cylinders are. Barely above tickover with the seven-speed dual-clutch ’box already in fifth along Slough’s Bath Road and today’s electronics act like an IV drip of Strepsils to prevent any coughing or hesitation. Twenty years ago an engine producing this amount of power per litre would have been cammy and agitated in traffic. Forty years ago it wouldn’t have ticked over under 2000rpm and would have oiled its plugs at the first set of traffic lights unless you sat there with the throttles wide open.

    The roads are rather damp this morning. This worries me. I have briefed myself by reading Jethro Bovingdon’s pilot’s notes from the F12tdf’s launch in Italy. He was only allowed a few laps around Fiorano and a few hours on local roads but gathered enough thoughts to give me the impression that this is a car that needs to be treated with utmost caution. No understeer, very direct steering and a rather unusual sensation provided by its rear-wheel- steering system. I think it unlikely that I will twiddle the manettino to the ESC Off position today, but to keep it in the Wet setting would show a lack of self-confidence that might worry photographer Aston Parrott, so Race will do, with the suspension still set to Bumpy Road. At least the interior ergonomics are superb – what you don’t need in a car that can do 0-100km/h in 2.9 seconds are distractions.

    We have a plan: we’re going to visit the Prescott Hill Climb course, near Cheltenham. I love the place and Parrott will be able to do some photography undisturbed. Stuart Webster, who runs Prescott, has said that when the hill isn’t used for competition it’s the driveway to several houses, so there’ll be no blasting up it in the tdf at full bore. This should keep us within Ferrari’s ‘no tracks’ rule.

    Prescott House and its hill were bought in 1937 by the Bugatti Owners’ Club, which was looking for its own hillclimb course having been kicked out of most venues because of noise complaints. Nothing new under the sun or in motorsport. The first meeting at Prescott was in 1938 and apart from the war getting in the way it has been used ever since. The original course was 880 yards long but in 1960 a loop was added, called Ettore’s, extending it to 1127 yards, or just over a kilometre. Today all meetings run on the longer course except for the annual Vintage Sports Car Club event.

    Unlike Shelsley Walsh, which has one significant corner to get wrong, Prescott is seriously technical with many sections and details to catch you out and ruin a time, and quite a few places to have a substantial shunt. I’ve driven it a few times in anger and it’s very challenging. Traversing it at a more sensible pace today, I’m glad I’m not against the clock. It would be a very serious challenge in the tdf, as apart from traction being an issue for virtually the whole length of the course, the Ferrari is not a narrow car. Accuracy would be key.

    For lunch I’m going to have to eat my own words. For the last few years I’ve been on a campaign against ridiculous power outputs in road cars. Hot hatches with 250kW and SUVs with 350kW are missing the point and in 2017 are totally out of step with reality. Of course, the F12 doesn’t need even the 545kW it has in standard form; with an extra 29kW the tdf is even more excessive, but I can’t help loving this engine, even though it only adds to the fear that one day all engines will have some form of forced induction. This V12 is up there with Lamborghini’s V12 and the 4.0-litre flat-six in the GT3 RS as one of the great engines of today. And it ranks above these because even the Aventador’s motor feels tame in comparison. The first proper trip I made in a Ferrari was in a 456 GT.

    Ferrari gave us a mileage limit with that car, too, but I was more of a rebel in those days and gave it back with an extra 5000km on the clock. It was a road trip of flat-out blasts and disregard for French speed limits. I’ve never forgotten it, or the car, and it started a love affair with front-engined Ferraris. Now the tdf is proving to be the most dramatic of the lot.

    We spot a plaque that celebrates the life of FitzRoy Somerset, 5th Baron Raglan. A Bugatti fanatic and chairman of the Bugatti Owners’ Club from the late ’80s and into the ’90s, he kept his Type 51 in the kitchen of his house. Yonks ago I was having a curry in Abergavenny when there was the scream of supercharged engine as a car pulled up outside. It was Baron Raglan in his 51 come to collect his takeaway. Class.

    Under Webster’s guidance Prescott has developed hill climbing at the venue to be more of a family day out, with a lot more entertainment than watching a weird and wonderful selection of cars blasting by. Not that I need much else apart from a loo and a picnic.

    We depart and set off to see my mate Vic Norman. He runs the Breitling wing-walking team that flies Boeing-Stearman biplanes with Lycra-clad girls up on their wings. The team is based near Cirencester – suitably close to Prescott for us to not commit an odometric crime and upset Ferrari.

    Four Stearman biplanes are sufficient to draw me regularly to the airfield. But like many of us, Vic’s into anything with an engine and as well as owning a 550 Maranello, a Porsche 356, an AC Ace and an ex-Stirling Moss XK120, he has a collection of motorbikes that includes a 1912 Flying Merkel. It was once used to power a generator in a gold mine previously owned by Bud Ekins, the stuntman and friend of Steve McQueen who performed the jump in The Great Escape.

    It’s not so much what he owns now that makes Norman interesting, it’s what he’s owned in the past. Particularly V12 Ferraris. For example, the 250 GTO that’s now owned by Nick Mason. “I bought it in the early ’70s,” explains Norman. “I’d heard on the grapevine that Peter Newens, whose family owned the Maids of Honour tearoom in Kew, was thinking of selling his GTO. I wasted no time and went around to Pete’s house and started negotiations. He wanted about 13 grand for the car [circa $22,000]. Anyway, while I was talking to him I saw Brian Classic, the racer and classic car dealer, coming up the front path. Guessing that Brian had also heard about the GTO, I immediately offered the asking price and shook on it. Brian was a bit peeved.”

    After keeping it for a few years, during which time it delivered young Normans to school and completed other domestic tasks, the GTO was moved on. “I got £16,000 [circa $27K] for it,” says Norman, “which I thought was amazing.” As well as the GTO, Norman has owned a couple of 275 GTBs, a 250 GT SWB and a Daytona. “Ironically my favourite Ferrari is the original 250 GT TdF. I never owned one but I’ve driven a few.”

    I’ve never taken the kids to school in a GTO but I’ve been shopping in Vic’s, now Mason’s, GTO. Cammy, as to be expected, but easy to drive and with as much soul as a car could have. Mason’s Ten Tenths, the company that runs and prepares his collection, is based at the same airfield. And since any excuse to fire up and listen to a classic Ferrari V12 mustn’t be missed, engineers Charles Knill-Jones and Ben de Chair (double-overhead surnames aren’t compulsory: the outfit is managed by Mike Hallowes) are persuaded to start the GTO and bring it outside for Parrott’s and my pleasure.

    Mason has just taken delivery of his own F12tdf. Unlike ours, it has lightweight carpets covering the industriallooking anti-slip material that’s standard and rather more comfortable seats. “That,” says Knill-Jones, pointing at the tdf, “is the best road car in the world. I drove Nick’s at Goodwood and it was doing 270km/h at the end of the Lavant Straight.” I didn’t need to hear that. I’d dearly love to drive this car on a track, particularly at Goodwood. I wish I’d risked being put on the naughty step by Ferrari.

    It is true that a 574kW Ferrari capable of over 340km/h is of limited practical use, but it is a very good thing that it exists. The tdf is one of the most dramatic Ferraris that I’ve ever driven (in fact it’s up there with a McLaren F1) yet it’s perfectly useable on the road and, if you’re damned careful, in any conditions, too. I’d like to hope that among the lucky 799 who have ordered one, there will be people like Baron Raglan and Vic Norman who use their cars. I suspect most will go into collections or heated garages.

    At least this one is getting some proper use. Back at Slough, with the Tour de Force in one piece, the trip meter reads 508km. Today was not the day to start obeying rules.

    It’s one of the most dramatic Ferraris I’ve driven, yet it’s perfectly useable on the road

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #2017 / #Ferrari-F12tdf
    Engine 6262cc #V12 , dohc, 48v
    Power 770hp / 574kW @ 8500rpm DIN
    Torque 520lb ft / 705Nm @ 6250rpm DIN
    Transmission #Seven-speed-DCT , rear-wheel drive, #E-diff-3 , #F1-Trac , #ESC
    Front suspension Double wishbones, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar
    Rear suspension Multi-link, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar, rear-wheel steer
    Brakes Ventilated carbon-ceramic discs, 398mm front, 360mm rear, #ABS , #EBD
    Wheels 20 x 10.0-inch front, 20 x 11.5-inch rear
    Tyres 275/35 ZR20 front, 315/35 ZR20 rear
    Weight 1520kg
    Power-to-weight 507 hp / 378kW/tonne
    0-62MPH / 0-100km/h 2.9sec (claimed)
    Top speed 212 MPH / 340km/h+ (claimed)
    Basic price $808,888 (sold out)
    Rating 4+

    Above: Goodwin guides the F12 up the technical Prescott course, being careful not to prang any carbonfibre bodywork. Below: tdf with Nick Mason’s #1962 250 GTO.

    Above and right: 110kg weight saving over the standard F12 plus an extra 29kW give the tdf a truly explosive power-toweight ratio of 378kW per tonne – more than enough for the Prescott hill climb.

    What you don’t need in a car that can do 0-100km/h in 2.9 seconds are distractions
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    CAR #Porsche-928-S4 / #Porsche-928S4 / #Porsche / #Porsche-928S4-Automatic / #1990-Porsche-928-S4 / #Porsche-928 / #Porsche

    Year #1990
    Mileage 112 480
    Asking price £14,250
    Vendor The Motor Shed, Bicester Heritage; Oxon; tel: 01869 249999;

    Price £48,900 (’1988)
    Max power 316bhp
    Max torque 317lb ft
    0-60mph 6.3 secs
    Top speed 165mph
    Mpg 21

    This S4 received a quick respray on its Caramel Beige to appear in the BBC series Shetland, but there’s a decent car under the blowover. The evenly applied paint is an attractive colour, but there’s a little overspray on some rubbers and the door shuts were done by hand – stickers and all. Its body imperfections are limited to a tiny bit of bubbling at the upper rear corner of the nearside front wing, a smaller one under the offside rear side glass, a slight ding above the left rear arch and a couple of bruises on the roof.

    The alloys are lightly kerbed or bubbling 996 Turbo Twists, with Hankook and Nokian tyres of indeterminate ages, but the discs look fairly recent and it’s been well maintained. There are six stamps in the service book from Glenvarigill in Glasgow, followed by 10 more from independents, the latest in June 2010, less than 5000 miles ago. Since then it’s had a cambelt, recon radiator and new water pump – there are three stamps for brake fluid and coolant changes, the last at 111,652 miles in September 2015, and it then had a cambelt at 112,030, following the first swap at 67,173. It also recently had the transmission fluid and filter changed, a stainless tank cradle fitted and new #ABS sensors at the rear.

    It’s mostly wearing well inside, with cracking to the leather and heavier wear on the driver’s bolster piping. Door trims, dash and headlining are all good, and there’s an almost full toolkit. The tidy #V8 has no leaks and intact air trunking. Its fluids are obviously not very old, and to the right levels.

    Fire it up and there’s a deep-chested crackle, but the exhaust doesn’t look that aftermarket. It feels rock solid, in typical 928 fashion; weighty steering from a firm footprint and a mighty, relentless shove once it gets into its stride. Gearchanges are smooth and so are the brakes, with oil pressure 4bar at any revs and 2bar at warm tickover. Temperature is steady just under 90ºC. So, all the important bits work including the pop-up lights and all the instruments (a 928 bugbear), but the left window and electric sunroof don’t operate (yet both mirrors do) and neither does the aircon.

    To be sold with a new MoT and the sense that, even as 928s continue to rise in value, sensible offers under the asking price might be entertained.

    ● Solid; straight-ish; cheap respray
    ● Typical for a 928 of this age
    ● Feels strong; full service history
    VALUE ★★★★★★★✩✩✩

    For Properly looked after, with plenty of bills and drives well
    Against Those hand-painted door shuts; hide needs a little TLC

    If you’re not too bothered about cosmetics (it’s not bad from five paces), this is much better than you first think. Worth a serious look
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    / #BMW-1-Series bargains / #BMW-1-Series-E87 / #BMW

    Having been to the 1 Series launch events 12 years ago, it’s taken forever for the early ones to drop down to under £2000 – but they are there now and, if you use your noggin, there are deals to be had. Take the 55-plate 120d I’m looking at right now. It’s an SE in metallic grey with cloth trim. It comes with the six-speed ‘box, 16-inch alloys and, er, that’s about it! At least the SE has air-con, a single slot CD player, and a multi-function steering wheel. This one is very, very clean and has four Continentals – not bad for £1695. The catch? It’s done 223,000 miles. But so what? It’s got service history and it runs fine with no DMF rattle or oil smoke. I’m tempted to go and get it myself and have a quick, 50mpg driver’s car for the price of a Ford Focus.

    But not all is rosy in 1 Series land. The #BMW-116i-E87 really is desperately slow and the #BMW-N45 engine has the same timing chain and Vanos troubles as the #BMW-118i-E87 and #BMW-120i-E87 / #BMW-N46 petrols, none of which are as brisk or economical as a #BMW-120d-E82 . The #BMW-118d-E87 is a great car but it does suffer from worn, noisy diffs (a smaller, weaker unit) and used diffs are both rare and pricey. But if it drives okay, a 118d is a fine car but things need checking – #ABS lights, swirl flaps, tired turbos etc. So, inspect and buy carefully but we would always have a diesel over a petrol. The #BMW-E87 might be knocking on a bit but, as a car to drive, it doesn’t give much away to the current F20.
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    Stancing with the Stars MERCEDES 190 ON AIR

    They’re a great staple of any Retro Cars diet, and when they look as good as this it’s pretty obvious why that is. James Brown fell for the ‘Baby Benz’ at a tender age. And you know what they say about your first love… Words: Dan Bevis. Photos: Chris Frosin.

    Massively over-engineered’. That’s a phrase you can always rely on. When the chips are down, you’re nervously eyeing your temperature gauge, or you can hear a suspicious clonking noise that you just can’t put your finger on, that handy and reassuring motif will always be there to make everything all right. Not that any of those issues should surface in a Mercedes-Benz-190E , of course.

    This is, in fact, a phrase employed by Mercedes-Benz themselves to describe the model when it emerged blinking into the motorscape way back in late 1982. This car represented the dawn of a new era for #Mercedes , the so-called ‘Baby Benz’ being the marque’s first foray into the compact-executive sector. They poured over £600m into the model’s R&D, patenting a natty new five-link rear and throwing in all sorts of über-modern accoutrements: seatbelt pretensioners, airbags, #ABS … with BMW dominating the sector with the ubiquitous 3 Series, M-B had to go in hard. They needed to over-engineer the thing, it was the only way to muscle in.

    This sort of developmental extravagance has, unsurprisingly, given the car quite a strong following. You tend to find pretty fervent brand evangelists in the retro car world – Mini fans who’ll drive nothing but Minis, Mk1 Golf owners who won’t shut up about Wolfsburg – but it’s interesting to note that Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts are more effusive than most. Once that three-pointed star is emblazoned upon the subconscious, it’s there for keeps.

    Take James Brown, for example. Hailing from the Essex town of Tiptree (a place variously famous for jams and jellies, and the ‘Tiptree Sneeze’ – look it up), he combines his hometown’s trademark mix of saccharine fruitiness and loud noises with a lifelong love of Mercs. His first car was a 190E, he’s had a few of ’em since, and now he’s built this. He’s pretty much incurable. Sure, there have been a few deviations from the path, but true love always shines through.

    “My first car was a red 190E, back when I was sixteen,” he grins. “I lowered it, and put a spoiler on it, and a set of seventeens… but then I couldn’t afford to insure it!

    So I had to sell it and get a Honda Civic.” Thereafter followed a protracted series of modifying experimentations, the Civic receiving the same treatment that the 190E had, before James reverted to geographical type and got into Fords. But when his hot XR2i ended up unceremoniously planted up an elderly gent’s backside (not literally, but almost), our protagonist found himself in a #Mercedes-Benz once more. Well, it was always inevitable really, wasn’t it? Written in the stars.

    “My second 190E was special,” he reminisces, a sparkle of whimsy in his twinkling eyes. “I got it from my good friend John, and to this day I still blame this guy for getting my Mercedes love to flow! He sold me one in the same colour as the current one – it was on some cool seventeens, and on the floor, and I loved that car so much. But then the need for more power came back in my life.” And he was off again, like an easily distracted whippet, finding himself in a heavily modded 106 GTI (a car that dove so deep down the rabbit hole it ended up being featured in Max Power), before reverting back to the Fatherland: an Audi A3 followed, belittling passers-by with its nineteen’s, then a BMW E46 Compact on, ahem, 20in chrome spinners. Hey, if you always make good decisions then you’ve got nothing to learn from, right?

    But it was no use. This multi-marque dabbling was just a distraction from James’s true Mercedes calling. He did the right thing. He bought himself another 190E. It ended up on the cover of Retro Cars in July 2011. And lo, his work was good.

    …but then he started working on an Audi TT project, which was a very involved build, and… wait. No. Stop. This is all but a fleeting distraction from the wholesome pursuit of 190Es. Come back into the light, James. It’s warm in here. You’re safe. Come.

    Oh, and he did. And how. “It was my first love,” he explains, matter-of-factly. “I’ve always been a Mercedes guy, I always will be. I can’t shake it.” And so the endless procession of a long, long line of projects has culminated in this, a straight-as-an-arrow 2.6.

    “After looking at several cars with Jag of Jags Bodyshop, we just kept finding bodged-up, expensive cars that claimed to be immaculate,” sighs James. This is an unfortunate quirk of the 190E, as theoretically they should be borderline bulletproof; when the nuclear winter comes, it’ll just be cockroaches, Twinkies and well-maintained 190Es left on the face of the Earth. Unfortunately, these once-expensive premium-compacts have fallen into the realm of sub-minicab cheapness, so they become disposable. There’s a lot of crap out there, cars that haven’t been looked after. “We ended up settling on an honest car at a reasonable price that needed a bit of paint and tidying,” he says pragmatically. “I was always planning on getting Jag to paint it anyway, so that wasn’t an issue, and a bit of servicing and loving was all it really needed.”

    Of course, this was never going to be a concours resto. You’ve read the guy’s car history, you know what he’s like. The car you see here was pretty much the vision he had in mind at the time, although it wasn’t always a clear path from vision to reality. As you can no doubt hear Samuel L. Jackson booming in his best scary Pulp Fiction voice, “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men”. But whatever – challenges are character-building, aren’t they?

    So, without further ado, Jag set about painting James’s new ride. “Jag’s always painted my cars, and I’m always able to trust him to get my ideas perfect – although I do totally blame him for my OCD-esque cleaning habit,” he says. The car’s been repainted in its original shade, but as you can see that’s really all it needs – an overblown or ostentatious colour would have ruined the simplicity of the thing. You see, there are a lot of people that decry the ‘stop, drop and roll’ approach to modifying – the idea that a reduction in altitude and some well-chosen wheels are all that’s required to allow the car’s aesthetic to speak for itself – but James’s 190E is the ultimate proof that the formula works. And this is due, in large part, to his rather wonderful choice of wheels.

    “Brian at Rotiform was great,” he smiles. “I showed him a picture of the original Mercedes 8-hole wheels and said ‘I want the biggest dishes we can get away with’! The finished product has really become the talking point of the car.” You can see why; the genius of the design is that it pays respectful homage to the car’s original factory alloys, but they are in fact all-new wheels custombuilt by Rotiform to offer something that no other 190E has. This makes James the king of the double-take – his ride-height and the cleanliness of the thing draw you in, then as you turn away your brain says ‘Hang on a minute, what’s up with those rims?’… and the answer is that they’re a head-spinning, bespoke set of two-piece wheels with hidden hardware and the valve caps cunningly slipped around the back. It really is a bunch of effort and expense for something that a lot of people wouldn’t even notice. Such is the modern wheels arms race.

    When it came to the suspension, James had Merc’s original Baby Benz ethos firmly in mind. There would be no half-measures here, it had to be ‘massively over-engineered’ or nothing at all. “I wanted the best,” he explains. “When it came to air-ride, I always said I wanted this car to be 100% – no leaks, no issues, no nothing. So it went to Luke at Plush Automotive, as I knew he’d get the job done. Not many people had used these BMW AirLift struts at that time, and it’s fair to say it was a little more involved than just bolting the things on!” The system is governed by AirLift’s world-class V2 management, and to help things along Jag had already tickled the arches out a little, by 10mm at the front and 15mm out back, in order to ensure the perfect clearance and fitment.

    Plush’s work wasn’t done there either – check out the sublime boot build housing the Viair treats and hardlines along with a full-house Vibe Black Air audio setup in the shelf. The crispness of the install looks almost factory, provided that you can set aside the fact that James has stuffed a load of choice modern hardware into the Merc’s nooks and crannies.

    A bona fi de, über-polished showpiece, then? A pampered trailer queen? No, not a bit of it. James barely needed encouraging to pull a cheeky burnout for our shoot, and if there’s one thing he really loves, it’s driving around in his meisterwerk and showing it to the world as what it is: a massively over-engineered cruiser. “I use it mainly for summer evenings and weekends, and I did some of the shows last year,” he says, “but I love just going for random drives in it. Hopefully this year I’ll be taking it all over Europe – possibly not even for shows, but just for the sake of enjoying road trips with other Merc enthusiasts.” And that really is the crux of the build. At its very essence, it’s a driver’s machine; James has simply enhanced every element that he felt required enhancement, to make the best even better. Because even if something’s overengineered, there’s nothing to stop you taking it further.

    SPECIFICATION / #Rotiform-MBZ / #Rotiform / #Mercedes-Benz-190E / #Mercedes-Benz-190E-W201 / #Mercedes-Benz-W201 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-190E / #Mercedes-Benz-190E-2.6 / #Mercedes-Benz-190E-2.6-W201

    ENGINE: #M103.940 2.6-litre straight-six / #M103 / #Mercedes-Benz-M103
    TRANSMISSION: #Mercedes-Benz-722-400 automatic gearbox
    SUSPENSION: BMW E36 #AirLift front struts, custom rear mounts and universal airbags, #Viair-444C compressors, #AirLift-V2-management / #Air-Lift-V2
    BRAKES: Stock 190E
    WHEELS & TYRES: 8x17in (front) and 9.5x17in (rear) #Rotiform MBZ 2-piece with 195/40 (f) and 215/40 (r) tyres
    INTERIOR: Momo Prototipo steering wheel, flushed #AirLift V2 controller, Vibe Black Air audio system inc. front and rear components running twin amps plus 2x 12in subwoofers

    EXTERIOR: Full respray in original colour, arches extended 10mm (front) and 15mm (rear)

    THANKS: “Jag - Jags Bodyshop 07976 830145, Luke - Plush Automotive, Carl Taylor, Brian - Rotiform Wheels, Tommy Teapot - Meguiars UK, Mark- Vibe Audio, Luke, Viv, Jaylos & John Russell. And Becky for putting up with me constantly cleaning it.”

    Damn that sits well on the custom-made 17in Rotiforms!

    This 190E epitomises the ‘stop, drop and roll’ approach to modifying.

    Bulbous Mercedes airbag steering wheel has been eschewed in favour of this natty little Momo number.

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    BUYER'S CHECKLIST CITROEN CX / #Citroen-CX / #Citroen /

    Cheaper than a Citroen DS and just as characterful, the daily driver says Mark Dixon.

    A sign of a good car is when motoring journalists dig into their own pockets to buy one. On that basis, the Citroen CX must have something going for it, because British hacks seem to have b ought more of these than any other used car.

    So what's special about the CX? The space-age looks; the superb ride and handling; and the fact that you can pick up a CX for half the price of a decent DS. If you like big estates, you won't find a bigger one than a CX Safari. But remember that the CX saloon is just that, and not a hatchback, despite its shape Most people are put off old Citroens by horror stories of fiendishly complicated hydraulic systems The fact is, however, that CX hydraulics are very reliable and well-understood by a large number of small independent specialists across the country. Rust did take a hold on earlier cars, it's true, and gave the CX a bad name from which it never fully recovered, although Citroen got to grips with the problem from 1981 onwards with much-improved body protection. The range was completely restyled in late 1985 with colour-coded bumpers and so on but earlier cars have more classic appeal.

    Now that used SMs are flooding the market, fewer CXs are being bought by the non-enthusiast although old CX estates (Safaris) and eight-seater estates (Familiales) are still sought after by Joe Public. The Safari is the ultimate auto jumbler's workhorse, but you won't get quite as much in a Familiale - only the back row of seats fold flat.

    Although CX diesels can deliver up to 45mpg, they aren't as tough as the petrol models - Roger Bradford of The CX Centre, who supplied much of the information for this feature, stopped buying and selling diesels some time ago because of the grief they caused him. Roger’s top tips for the most collectable CXs would be the Series 1 GTi Turbo or the long- wheelbase Prestige saloon.

    The CX Centre is probably unique in that it operates from a modern Citroen dealership, where classic CXs and the odd Maserati engined SM rub shoulders with new Xantias. Although briefly tempted by a GTi Turbo 2 (95,995 in sexy black, with black leather interior) we finally plumped for this Series 1 Prestige. Roger Bradford says the upmarket Prestige is less sought after than standard CX saloons - it's based on an estate floorpan, and the extra length puts off some buyers. In fact the difference is undetectable once you're behind the wheel, and the Prestige benefits from air conditioning and electric windows.

    This example looks very smart following a respray by the CX Centre in its original metallic green and appears rust-free apart from some minor corrosion on the inner bottom seams of the front doors: there's some filling to the rear corner of the nearside front door, too. The offside rear was replaced with a new panel by The CX Centre. Inside, the favourable impressions continue with a clean and original interior, complete with removable rear footrests in that palatial rear compartment. The only evidence of wear is some paint chipping on the dash binnacle, housing those unreadable but stylish rotating drum gauges. However, severe condensation on the inside of the screen and a moist glovebox suggest a slight screen weep, not helped by torrential rain just before our visit. The original service record is stamped up to 40,000 miles.

    This CX performs well on the road, its automatic gearbox changing smoothly and kicking down easily. It's a relaxing car to drive, its super-light power brakes and power steering encouraging a laid-back approach. A slight Pull to the left indicates the tracking needs adjustment - a common fault - confirmed by a worn shoulder on the nearside front tyre. There's plenty of tread all round, however, and the tyres are the correct Michelins. Any problems will be sorted before the car is sold. Whoever buys it will also have the reassurance of a six-month unlimited mileage warranty.

    Verdict: One of the more desirable classic CXs and a practical alternative to a modern car.

    Stylish, practical and affordable, the Citroen CX is a classic alternative to a newer car

    We look at a Citroen CX for sale
    This cx Prestige has clean and original interior, and bodywork is generally very good

    Interior ****
    Exterior ****
    Running gear ****
    Value ****
    Year produced #1983
    For sale by: The CX Centre, Harding Way, Somersham Road, St lves,
    Cambs PE17 4WR
    Tel: 01 4BO 492066
    MoT Renewed when sold Mileage 62,634

    Basic Specifications

    1974-1991 1,985-2,473cc four, 66-168bhp, petrol or diesel; front-wheel drive; four-door saloon, long-wheelbase saloon, estate and eight-seater estate.
    Max speeds 91 -137mph,
    0-60mph 20.8-7.7sec,


    Old nail Series 1 that may or may not be legal £200-£300
    Tatty Series 2 cars with some MoT still to run £400-£500
    Average high-spec S1 or low-spec S2 saloons £700-£1,500
    Decent GTi Turbo or good early Prestige £3,000-£3,500

    Outstahding early GTi or Pallas; good estates
    Top whack for a mint Series .l Prestige
    Upper limit for a superb GTi Turbo 2 2000
    Very late, H-plaied estates in top condition 8,500-59,000

    Engine: Petrol engines very reliable and capable of huge mileages, especially earlier DS-sourced units. These were of 1,985cc, 2,175cc,2,347cc and 2,473cc capacities. All-alloy 1,995cc and 2,165cc units fitted to Athena, Reflex and 22-models not as unburst able but long-lived if properly serviced. Diesel engines more problematic - Turbo 2s suffer from porous blocks - and best avoided.

    Gearbox: Early cars had four-speed manuals, gradually displaced by five-speed units across range. Rarely give any problems. Semi-automatic transmission called C-Matic optional until #1981 when replaced by conventional three-speed #ZF auto #ZF3HP . #C-Matic featured conventional gearlever linked to electronically controlled clutch; worn oil seals can make gear selection difficult in later life.

    Running gear: Contrary to myth, CX hydraulic system is neither unreliable nor expensive to repair. Gas-filled spheres lose their charge over time, which destroys the car's ride, but recharged units are cheap to buy. However, expect to pay £170 or so to replace rear spheres due to labour involved. Hydraulic pipes suffer from surface corrosion and are often an MoT failure but are thick-walled and respond to cleaning. Check rear wheels are vertical and not leaning inwards, which indicates suspension trouble. Handbrakes operate on front brake discs and need frequent adjustment; impossible if discs are worn thin. Rear discs corrode due to lack of use. Clutches should see 100,000 miles but cost £650 to replace. Electrics: Not a strong point, so check everything works. #ABS fitted to very late cars can be troublesome but faults are usually minor. Avoid steam-cleaning engine bays of late cars with ECUs!

    Interior: Series I cars have tumbler gauges; Series 2 and all Turbos have conventional dial gauges. Trim in early cars disintegrates but later cars last better. Leather optional on some models; standard for 1985-on Prestige.


    Most parts are available new from Citroen at reasonable prices. The exceptions are rarely ordered components, which can be astronomically expensive - a GTi Turbo exhaust manifold costs £850! - but CX specialists can usually supply secondhand items. Prices are for genuine parts unless stated otherwise and are excluding VAT.

    Recharged sphere: £17
    Front wing: £100
    Door skin: £82
    Door shell: £280
    GTi Turbo engine: £1,966
    Michelin TRX tyre for. GTi Turbo: £180
    Michelin MXV tyre for saloon/estate: £90
    Headlight: £132
    Brake disc (pattern): £30
    Top engine mounting Series 1/Series 2: £35/£52
    Top or bottom front ball-joint (pattern): £25


    June 1975: CX launched in UK as 2000 and 2200.
    April 1976: CX2000 Safari estate introduced to UK.
    Aug 1976: 2400 replaces 2200, 2400 Safari replaces 2000 Safari, and launch of 2200 Diesel (saloon and Safari) plus luxury Prestige.

    Oct 1977: Fuel-injected, 128bhp CX GTi launched.
    April 1978: 2500 Diesel replaces 2200 Diesel.
    July 1979: Reflex and Athena economy models replace 2000 and 2400 Super.
    Feb 1981: Improvements include better rust-proofing, new paint colours and conventional auto.
    Oct 1981: All cars given flared wheelarches. 2000 Reflex estate launched.

    Sept 1982: CX20 replaces Reflex, CX25D replaces Reflex D, Athena axed, Pallas introduced.
    Oct 1983: CX25 estate replaces 2400; turbodiesels introduced as CX25RD and CX25DTR.
    Sept 1984: Super-quick CX25 GTi Turbo launched.
    Oct 1985: Series 2 introduced in UK. Colour-coded bumpers, grille etc plus round-dial instruments. CX22TRS joins range.
    Aug 1986: Intercooled CX25 GTi Turbo 2 introduced.
    June 1987: CX DTR Turbo 2 is launched as fastest diesel production car.
    Nov 1989: CX saloons discontinued. Estate production transferred to coachbuilders Heuliez.
    Jan 1991: Estate production ceases.


    The GX Centre, Harding Way, Somersham Road, St lves, Cambs PE17 4WR. Tel 01480 492066, fax 01480 492065. Sales, service, new and used parts. Andyspares, Units 1/2, Gresham Way, Reading RG30 6AW. Tel 01734 452300. Mainly new parts, some used. Andrew Brodie Engineering Ltd, 50 Sapcote Trading Estate, 374 High Road, Willesden, London NW10 2DH. Tel 0181-459 3725. Parts, service, restoration. Cjtro6mech, Unit 3, Avenue Works, Eastheath Avenue, Wokingham, Berks RG41 2PR. Tel 01734 794204, fax 01734 892323. Servicing, bodywork, new/used parts. Barry Goombes, Unit 3, Spring Court, Spring Lane South, Malvern, Worcs WR14 4AJ. Tel/fax 016845 66500. Servicing, parts, ECU repairs.

    Iohn Greaves, 4-6 Park Centre, Station Road, Horsforth, Leeds LS I8 SNX. Tel 01 13 2586131, fax 01 13 2585791. Servicing, new and used parts. M & C Lockwood, Unit 81, Enterprise Way, ldle, Bradford, W Yorks BD10 8EW. Tel 01274 621840, fax 01274 610676. New and reconditioned parts. Pleiades, 20 Glatton Road, Sawtry, Cambs PEl7 sSY. Tel 01487 831 239. Hydraulic specialist, parts and fitting. Southern Continental, 320A Coldharbour Lane, London SWg 8SE. fel 0171-274 8233. Repairs, parts.

    Citroen Car Club: PO Box 348, Bromley, Kent BR2 8Q Has a CX Register with 400-500 members from a total membership of 2,800. Costs $22 per year plus 95 joining fee. Offers insurance scheme and some CX parts; produces monthly magazine The Citro5nian.
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    A slice of E28 perfection, this gorgeous static classic has been spiced-up with an M54B30 swap in its shaved bay. Mark van den Burg gives the Veedub boys a run for their money with this gloriously clean 230hp+ E28. Words Louise Woodhams. Photos: Ronald Veth.

    How did you get into cars? Perhaps you have fond memories of spending weekends in the garage alongside your father tinkering with spanners and watching him bring classics back to life. Maybe your father had his own workshop and you worked with him after graduating from college to follow in his footsteps? It could be as simple as a matchbox car that you had as a small child that sparked your love for all things automotive.

    Personally speaking, I’ve been obsessed with cars for as long as I can remember but I never had a direct influence or occasion that sparked my interest. My father certainly had an appreciation of nice, fast cars but, being a policeman, safety always came first so I grew up on a Swedish diet of Volvo. Not the most inspiring of car brands.

    Fortunately, as soon as I got my driving licence I chose to venture south of the Pearl of the Baltic, and after buying my first BMW I never looked back.

    The pivotal moment for the owner of this lovely E28, Mark van den Burg, was whilst working in a garage washing cars aged 18: “Funnily enough my grandfather was a car fanatic but I never really knew him as he died when I was so young. But genetics are strong and I think I inherited the bug from him – including the way I sit behind the wheel, according to what my mum tells me.”

    From washing cars he started to do repairs, which led him to his first foray into car customisation and he’s been unable to rid himself of the oil in his blood ever since. As such, most of his cars have been modified. One, a VW Mk1 Caddy, was even featured in our sister title Performance VW. It ticked all of the boxes with air-ride, 14” PLS Vitesse wheels, fully polished 2.0-litre GTI engine and a full leather interior – including the dash.

    A number of VWs followed, before he was finally able to indulge in a car he really admired just over four years ago now. “I’ve always had an interest in BMWs, especially the older Threes and Fives; they’re great cars and so technically advanced,” explains Mark. “I needed a new daily and decided on an E28 as they drive like a modern car. Also, in the Netherlands you don’t have to pay road tax on a car that is older than 25 years old.”

    After just a few months it went from a commuter car to a full-blown project car, but that’s when it became clear that it was not as solid as it first seemed. “It needed a lot of TLC, welding and mechanical repairs,” recalls Mark. Having owned quite a few Mk1 and Mk2 VWs he has become quite the expert in restoration, so he was able to carry out all of the body repairs himself. With the shell almost as good as new, he could turn his attention to the next phase of the build: styling.

    Like all of Mark’s previous projects, this E28 is as immaculate as they come with nuances of shaving and detail work; from the deleted antenna hole in the rear quarter panel and side repeaters to the M5 front spoiler and US rear lights. The Alpine white 1985 525e sits atop two-piece 18” BBS RC wheels with polished lips and gloss black centres; spaced out 10mm all-round and shod in the 215/35 Nankang tyres they fill the arches perfectly.

    Playing a key part in helping to achieve this, of course, and hunkering the car down over the wheels are the fully adjustable Gaz Gold coilovers. To provide extra clearance during hard cornering, Mark custom-made the camber plates which also drop the ride a further 30mm up front, to match the extra shortened springs out back. Although, if we’re going to be truthful here, the real reason why he made them was because the ones that you buy off-the-shelf have more bolts than are functionally necessary – which doesn’t fit the clean look that Mark was so keen to achieve. Looking at pictures of the engine bay, which we’ll come to in just a minute, I’m sure that won’t come as a surprise to you. He’s even had all of the suspension parts powdercoated and new rubbers fitted.

    Whilst we’re on the subject of the chassis we may as well fill you in on the brakes, which were swapped out for Brembo fourpot calipers from the E32 7 Series clamped to discs borrowed from the E60 5 Series.

    With the exception of a retrofitted gauge cluster that sits in place of where the radio was and which monitors oil pressure and temperature, it’s all original, as you might expect it to be. The coveted Recaro seats and doorcards together with an M Tech steering wheel were obviously optional items for the 525 and a bit tricky for Mark to source but they’re perfectly fitting for this car given what’s under the bonnet! Which, at last, leads us to what we’ve been itching to tell you about: the engine. It’s something of a masterpiece in the BMW community at least, and has taken Mark the best part of two years to complete.

    Replacing the old 2.7-litre #ETA unit is an M54B30 from a 2001 E46 330i. In standard form it pumps out 231hp and 221lb ft of torque, so with an ECU remap, #K&N air filter and custom exhaust system, Mark should be getting a smidgen over those figures. “The most challenging part of the engine swap was that I had to custom fabricate a lot of the mechanical parts,” he says. “Fortunately I have a lathe and milling machine in my garage. I also had to redo all of the electronics, including a full wire tuck.” That was only just the start to achieving what is quite possibly one of the cleanest engine bays we’ve ever seen in this magazine.

    Prior to this Mark had filled in any holes and deleted any unnecessary brackets before repainting it so that he could begin the process of hiding or simply binning as many parts as possible. The EWS system was removed, for instance, as was the ABS unit, whilst the viscous fan was replaced with an electric fan and mounted in front of the radiator together with the washer fluid reservoir. The radiator was swapped out for an E36 item, which has a custom cover built for it, and the fuse box relocated to where the original battery was. When you peer under the bonnet now, the only items on show are the engine block itself and the brake booster.

    What’s made the European VW scene so famous is the cleanliness and attention to detail you find in the cars, and this particular build incorporates both with its smoothed-out body work, beautiful paint and an engine bay that’s truly uncluttered. “I have never done an engine bay as clean as this. I am pretty proud of it,” Mark grins. “It’s not that common on the #BMW scene and so it’s great to bring something different to the table. Everyone seems to like it. Even at Wörthersee this year – predominantly a VW show – the reactions were great. These guys just know when a car is built the right way, VW or not. Cleanliness is the key to building a great project car and it just goes to show that you don’t need an endless budget or specialists to call upon.”

    Truer words have never been spoken. I’ve come across some people who are what I’d term ‘badge snobs’ who would never even think to look to owners of other car marques for inspiration. Thankfully this Dutch reader isn’t one of them. If you want a lesson in cleanliness then you look at the best – which in this case are the VW builds, and this project goes to prove that by learning from others we can inject something new into our community. Be it hot rods, customs, lowriders, drift cars or VIP saloons, there’s plenty of inspiration out there as each corner of the globe has its own unique approach. Come to think of it, perhaps it’s worth looking to Sweden – those guys combine aesthetics with (unfathomable) performance unlike anywhere else in the world. Those guys can even make a Volvo cool!

    Boot houses extremely neat audio install consisting of Rockford Fosgate amps and subs.

    Interior has been treated to some additional gauges along with a pair of original Recaros and M Tech wheel.

    18” BBS RC090 wheels have been finished with gloss black centres and polished lips; full custom stainless steel exhaust system is finished with a subtle single tip.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE BMW #M54-swapped E28 / #BMW-E28-M54 / #BMW-E28

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 , E36 radiator, custom radiator and battery cover, washer fluid reservoir and electric fan mounted in front of radiator, #EWS and #ABS removed, fuse box relocated to where the original battery was, E36 headers and full 2.5” custom exhaust system, #ECU remap, #K&N air filter, all holes filled in and brackets removed, custom engine mounts, engine bay completely resprayed, fivespeed manual gearbox.

    CHASSIS 8x18” (front) and 9x18” (rear) two-piece #BBS wheels (with 10mm spacers) with 215/35 (front and rear) Nangkang tyres, #GAZ-Gold coilovers with custom camber plates and shortened rear springs, 3cm blocks mounted between suspension arms and front struts, all suspension parts powdercoated, all-new suspension rubbers, 348x30mm (E60 5 Series) discs with Brembo four-pot calipers (E32 7 Series) and custom caliper brackets.

    EXTERIOR Deleted antenna hole and side repeaters, M5 front spoiler and US rear lights.

    INTERIOR Recaro seats and doorcards, oil pressure and oil temperature gauges, Sony head unit and Rockford Fosgate amps and subs in custom fibreglass enclosure.
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    The fact we can still count on one hand the number of #TFSI converted Golfs we’ve featured in these pages goes to show how challenging the swap is. Mario Bacher’s Mk2 is one of the most complex to date! Words: Matt Zollo. Photos: Igor Vucinic. / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-II-TFSI / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2-TFSI / #VW / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf / #2015

    Some of you, sometimes, may see a car on these pages and wonder why the owner has gone to the great lengths they have to create it. I’m not talking about taste or personal preference here, more of common sense and logic. This, possibly, could be one of those cars. A Mk2 that’s been painstakingly fitted out with Mk5 componentry? Surely it would be a whole lot easier to simply buy a Mk5?

    But, of course, modifying cars isn’t really about logic and reason. Thankfully. Sensible stuff like rational justifications and sound thinking really don’t have to come into it. Just to be different, to be the first, to enjoy the challenge; those are more than good enough reasons to do whatever you want to do to your car. And that’s why our scene is the fascinating and diverse world that it is. With that little sermon dispensed with, we should introduce the man who we have to thank for this unique slice of the scene – welcome, Mario Bacher – and get on with its story. Because, damn, we have a lot to talk about here. Mechanically, electronically and (cabin) cosmetically speaking, this is about as Mk5 as you’re going to make a Mk2 without getting involved with cutters, welders and jigs.

    Mario is an old hand when it comes to modifying. He started back in 1994 and has gone through plenty of projects since, from a trusty 70hp GTD Mk2 Golf as a first car to a magazine-featured Mk2 with Corrado VR6 motor and dash as a long running project, along with a tiny Smart Fortwo Cabrio and a sizeable Audi A6.

    After a few years without a Mk2, however, he fancied another and bought this 1991 70hp two-door in 2005. In his words, the only thing fixed at that point was the colour: white. Everything else about it was going to change. Although he didn’t know in quite what way, other than it was going to have a four-cylinder turbo motor and a G60 makeover. Clearly Mario is a man who sticks to his plans.

    The hunt for a 1.8T started in spring 2006, and by this time he’d already sourced a Mk4 dash to squeeze in. This could so easily have been a Mk4’d Mk2, then, but when Mario phoned his engine man he was offered a TFSI instead. Actually, he was offered two TFSIs, one #DSG and one manual, but at the time it wasn’t known whether the TFSI could run standalone so he went with the latter as the safer bet (and now of course regrets it).

    Armed with a TFSI and manual ’box, wiring harness, fuel pump, ECU, instrument cluster and key (from an ’06 Jetta), plus the Mk2 that he had begun to restore the body of, he gave himself a year to get it all up and running in time for Wörthersee 2007. That year the car was shown off with its Mk5 engine, Mk4 dash, Mk3 Recaros (and running gear, all from a VR6), Mk2 G60 body and 16-inch Merc rims.

    After two years running the car like this, he started getting a little tired of the various foibles such a mix ’n’ match setup can bring – dash lights were telling him doors were open when they weren’t, the speedo didn’t work, the air-con needed a separate black box… The answer was a 2005 Mk5 Golf TDI, purchased on the cheap due to the notinconsiderable 186,000 miles on its then four-year-old clocks, to donate its dash and much of its innards – including Climatronic, seat heaters and MFD2 nav and handsfree – in an attempt to integrate everything better.

    “No doubt the biggest challenge was to fit the dashboard,” says Mario. “There was no chance to fit it without cutting. I had to shorten it about 8cm in depth [taking it from the raised section that butts up against the windscreen] and 2cm on each side – between the instrument cluster and air vent and, on the passenger side, left of the air vent. I also had to shorten the panels left of the steering wheel and the glove compartment and all the stuff around there.” On the other hand the centre console fitted perfectly, once the Mk5 handbrake lever had been fitted.

    The doorcards are custom-made creations using early Mk2 panels combined with Mk5 parts, while the switches for the windows, mirrors and lights are Mk6. Piano black covers various trim panels, and pretty much everything else has been trimmed in dark grey Porsche leather with Alcantara inserts and white double stitching. One goal of the project was achieve a OEM look, and, as with everywhere else, that has definitely been achieved inside.

    “For the mechanical side I had to add space for the huge heater/air conditioning unit behind the dashboard,” explains Mario. “I drilled some big holes in the middle of the firewall to connect the pipes for the heater and air conditioning, and below the windscreen area on the passenger side I had to move the wall forward to get space for the heater box. This was the only time I thought: what the f**k am I doing here?!” A lot of people junk their old VW’s ABS units, and are happy to be without traction or stability control, but Mario has gone the other way and fitted the complete ABS, ESP and ASR system from the TDI. He ‘just’ had to fabricate adapters to fix the #ABS sensors and magnetic rings in the wheel bearings, to create the signal for the speedo via the ABS ECU and CAN-bus.

    The steering column is Mk5, but a Polo 9N electro-hydraulic rack is used as there isn’t the space for the full electric Mk5 setup or the old hydraulic Mk3 setup. The Polo unit matches up perfectly to the Mk5 column and is very similar in size to the Mk3 one – requiring just small modifications to the mid-section of the VR6 subframe to mount – while its electric oil pump is remote (mounted just ahead of the front wheel with its filler accessible from the engine bay) and the pump’s integrated ECU understands the Mk5’s CAN data.

    Even stuff like the wiper motor is from the TDI, giving this Mk2 the neat trick of setting the wipers in a slightly different position every fifth time the ignition is switched off, in an effort to preserve them. And inside those Mk2 side mirror housings sits all the gubbins of a Mk5 mirror.

    In the engine bay only a few modifications were necessary to fit the fuse and battery boxes, the water and air-con radiators and the fans. With the TDI wiring harness, though, Mario had to change… everything including adding wiring for the rain and light sensors and foglights, making the harness longer for the tailgate and doors, stripping the unnecessary rear door wiring and preparing it for the swap from diesel to petrol (for the fuel pump ECU, for example). This second major Mk5 parts transplant took about six months, and the car was then shown at Wörthersee 2010. Since then Mario has treated it to various newer OEM upgrades, making it a well spec’d Golf irrespective of age. The old MFD2 has been replaced with a touchscreen RNS510, and the air-con panel has been upgraded to a Mk6 version to work with the RNS510’s display. There are now Mk6 GTI dials in a 2010 Scirocco cluster with colour Premium MFA+. Also, a Bluetooth handsfree ECU has been installed along with an upgraded alarm system with tilt and ultrasonic interior sensors.

    It goes on: VW’s awkwardly-named Coming Home/Leaving Home system; cruise control; one-touch/three-flash indicators; remote opening for the tailgate done via the Mk5 key fob; voice command for the radio; VW ten-speaker upgrade, six in the front and four in the rear. And, with the rain sensors, when the car’s parked up the windows automatically close if it starts to rain. It would be easy to get carried away and continue to throw bits of Mk5 and Mk6 at the car, but Mario knows there’s a time when you have to step away. And he laughs when I enquire whether there might be a future with Mk7 parts involved: “Haha! That’s the main question I’ve been asked! But, no, that’s not planned. I think when you’ve reached a good level with the car it makes no sense to do more work to it. When you think you have to find more things to put into it, it’s dangerous, because the project tilts to the worse.

    “The car is ready except for DSG and steering wheel shifters, and then for the next few years I only want to do work to hold the level of finish; maybe refresh the paint or something like that.” Common sense prevails even with the guys who are willing to undertake the hardest and seemingly most illogical of builds, it seems…

    Dub Details

    ENGINE: Full #BWA-TFSI 2.0-litre 16-valve turbo conversion, #VW-DIY engine and gearbox mounts, remapped by friend Franco, Mercedes C-Class intercooler, exhaust consisting of Jetta cat and lambda, Mk5 TDI centre-section, Mk3 VR6 rear box and Audi A3 TDI tailpipes, Mk5 TDI radiator and twin fans, TFSI MQ350 six-speed manual, Mk5 TDI clutch master cylinder, shortened driveshafts.

    CHASSIS: Mk3 VR6 front subframe and rear axle assemblies, #KW Variant 1 coilovers, Mk3 VR6 anti-roll bars, electro-hydraulic power steering rack from Polo 9N, Audi A4 V6 calipers and S3 312mm discs up front and Mk3 VR6 at the rear, 5x100 to 5x112 20mm front and 30mm rear adapters, Mk5 GTI Denver 7.5x17” ET51 alloys with 185/35/17 Nankang NS2s.

    OUTSIDE: G60 arches, sills, trim strips and bumpers, modified wheel arches, removed side indicators, badges and rear wiper, Mk5 Golf tailgate switch, black B-pillars, Passat 32b sunroof, clear front lamps and indicators, smoked/red rear lights.

    INSIDE: Full retrim in Porsche dark grey with Alcantara and white double stitching, Mk5 modified dashboard, heater box, Climatronic and steering column, Mk5 centre console, hybrid Mk2/Mk5 door panels with Mk6 switches, Mk6 multifunction steering wheel, 2010 Scirocco instrument cluster with colour MFA+ Premium and Mk6 GTI dials, Mk3 VR6 Recaro seats, original Mk2 black carpet, Mk5 mirror adjusters, RNS510 touchscreen navigation system, Mk5 ten speaker upgrade, non-OE amp and subwoofer.

    SHOUT: Thanks to my close mate, Michael, who helped me when more than two hands were needed, and my wife, Tanja, who carried the project in the background and allowed me the time I needed.

    Mk5 dashboard looks right at home inside the Mk2’s shell A-pillars too. Everything, and we mean everything, works as it should too!

    2.0-litre TFSI looks like it was always meant to be inside the Mk2’s chassis legs, so good is the fit and finish of everything.
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