- Post is under moderationNew- #Sytner-Sheffield almost here / #BMW / #2016 / #Sytner / #BMW-UK
As a regular customer of Sytner Sheffield, it was always going to be a blessing when it finally moved out of its existing Broad Lane premises that it has occupied since 1975. Hallamshire Motor Company (as it was known until the early Nineties before Frank Sytner bought it out) had originally been an Austin Morris agent – that franchise was transferred to Kennings, who built a showroom next door and has since been demolished. In those days, nobody could imagine the giant BMW would become but today, Sytner Group’s monthly new car registrations would comfortably eclipse BMW UK Concessionaires’ entire new car sales for 1975. That means that Sytner Sheffield’s place is too small. Parking is a nightmare and you can’t get any more than six new cars in the new car showroom.
So next spring, Sytner will finally make the move to a new premises in Brightside Lane which is not far from Meadowhall and the M1. The site will be a whopping 5.5-acres in total, meaning it will be the biggest BMW dealership in the UK if not Europe – just driving past the site makes you realise how big it is. That’s the result of success, though, and success breeds success. Compare that to my miserable local Volvo dealership in nearby Chesterfield where the Swedish marque shares ground with Suzuki, Fiat and something else… I can’t even think where the Alfa dealership in Sheffield is. I’ve never actually seen it.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAdded Excitement
Straight out-of-the-box the F30 340i is a pretty sublime machine but does the addition of an M Performance power kit and exhaust turn a great car into an outstanding one? Words: Bob Harper Photography: Matt Richardson.
Aurally brilliant M Performance 340i #Saloon / #2016
It’s not very often that I step out of a new BMW and feel underwhelmed but exactly that happened this week. And it wasn’t a pared down to the bone entry-level special either, this was a fully kitted out top of the range 440i Coupé. Like most anomalies this should not be taken out of context.
I was attending a #BMW-UK multi-model launch where there were several different machines assembled for the motoring press to sample and the first car I grabbed the keys to was the new M240i Convertible. You can read my full thoughts on this machine next month, but I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say I thought it was sublime. Small enough to thread through the Wiltshire lanes, quick as mustard and, with the hood down, plenty of aural action as the exhaust popped and crackled away to itself. The 440i was equally rapid and it was wonderfully refined and while being a little larger it didn’t shrink around you quite as well as the 2 Series, it was its lack of exhaust note that I noticed more than anything else.
Now this is something that I’m sure BMW has done plenty of market research on and it may well be that the majority of its customers who order a 440i don’t want a rorty exhaust note for the majority of the time, but what if you wanted a better soundtrack every now and then? After all it’s part and parcel of a performance car and there’s no doubting the 440i has the performance – I’d just like it if it would shout about it a little bit more.
Which is where this 340i you can see here comes in. I picked it up from BMW’s HQ a couple of days after my 440i encounter and with that latter car’s talents (not) still ringing in my ears I knew within a few hundred yards that this 340i was going to address my concerns in spades. It didn’t give much away on a cold start up, but wanting the full beans and sharp throttle response right from the get-go I’d popped the Drive Performance Control switch into Sport and was delighted to hear a much meatier rumble from the exhaust than I’d been expecting. A quick blat up the back roads to reach the motorway had me grinning like a Cheshire cat and whizzing up and down the gearbox with the steering wheelmounted paddles for the sheer hell of it. The bottom line was that it sounded awesome.
Bombing up the slip road and onto the motorway cruising speed was reached in a matter of seconds and once sitting at a steady 75-80mph the exhaust was relatively subdued, just making its presence felt every time you went onto the throttle to pick up speed. No longer having the need for the Sport mode I dropped the car back into its Comfort setting and lo and behold the 340i returned to being a whisper quiet cruiser. By the time I’d reached the office I was coming round to thinking this really was my ideal car. Quiet and refined when needed but with a boisterous side to its nature when wanted. And I should just mention that after 50 miles on the motorway the OBC was registering 42mpg – impressive stuff for a 300+hp petrol sport saloon. So how is this alchemy possible? While it may look to all intents and purposes like a bog standard 340i this machine has been treated to BMW’s M Performance ‘Power and Sound Kit’ that’s available for the 340i (Saloon and Touring) as well as the 440i in Coupé, Convertible and Gran Coupé guises. Power is up from the standard car’s 326hp to 360hp while torque swells to 369lb ft – a gain of 37lb ft (although for manual models the torque peak is lower at 354lb ft to protect the gearbox from damage). The power part of the kit involves a software upgrade, while as I’ve already discovered the sound part of the equation is a silencer system that comes with either chrome or carbon tailpipe finishers. The uplift in outputs is enough for #BMW to quote a performance gain of 0.2 seconds for the 0-62mph sprint, dipping the 340i Saloon’s time to 4.9 seconds when equipped with the excellent eight-speed auto ‘box.
BMW reckons that even in Comfort and Eco-Pro modes you’ll experience a ‘sporty sound, significantly sportier and more emotional than the standard system’, but I must admit that for the most part when in Comfort mode the car was as quiet as other 340i’s I’ve experienced. Flicking the switch to access Sport though brings an absolute sea change which BMW describes as a ‘maximum emotional sound, very sporty, very loud’, and this time it’s really hit the nail on the head. At lower revs you’ll experience a deeper, bassier note which increases in volume and timbre as you fire up the rev range, and it has to be said that this new B58 ‘six as found under the 340i’s bonnet loves to rev.
Whipping up and down the road for photography was an absolute delight – sometimes driving back and forth for the camera becomes a real chore, but on this occasion I was rather disappointed when my snapper signalled that he’d got enough shots in the bag. Not only do you get significantly more noise when accelerating but backing off the throttle elicits some wonderful pops and crackles that send tingles up your spine. To me, this is what the car should be like from the factory, as in standard form there just isn’t enough noise to get excited about.
Quality modifications aren’t cheap but at £2650 the M Performance Sound and Power kit isn’t too bad for the delight it brings. That price includes VAT, but not fitting, or the tailpipe trims which will set you back another £103 (each for the chrome) or £207 (each for the carbon version), but for around the £3k mark you’ll be seriously enhancing your car. Personally I’d certainly add this to my list of must-have options if I were buying – it really is that good, and brings out the sport in this most excellent of sporting saloons.
A quick blat up the back roads to reach the motorway had me grinning like a Cheshire cat
TECHNICAL DATA: #BMW-M-Performance / #BMW-340i / #BMW-340i-M-Performance / #BMW-340i-M-Performance-F30 / #BMW-340i-F30 / #BMW-F30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F30 / #BMW-F30/2
ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve
MAX POWER: 360hp @ 5500rpm
MAX TORQUE: 369lb ft @ 1520-4800rpm
0-62MPH: 4.9 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph
PRICE (OTR): See text
Figures quoted are for eight-speed automatic as tested.
Please contact your preferred BMW centre for more detailsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCheap Sixes / #BMW-F12 / #BMW / #BMW-6-Series / #BMW-6-Series-F12 / #BMW-640d-Sport / #BMW-640d-Sport-F12 / #BMW-640d-F12 / #BMW-640d /
I had to do a double take when I saw how cheap (well, inexpensive!) the current BMW F12 6 Series has become as a used car. Based on the F10 5 Series and thus an excellent machine, the F12 seems to depreciate more than the Five and I can’t understand why. After all, they’re a stunning looking machine and somewhat prettier than the previous model – another car that never really took off.
As I type this, the cheapest example for sale within the BMW dealer network (why buy anywhere else?) is an unmarked 76,000-mile 640d Sport in Imola red from Sytner Sheffield. The price for this #2011 car is £23,000. Mileage a bit salty? Okay, how about a 22,000-mile 640i SE with the lovely petrol straight-six turbocharged unit?
Yours for a grand more than Sytner’s 640d and finished in Orion silver (not dissimilar from the old Bronzit E24 colour) with glorious Cinnamon leather. For sale at Dick Lovett in Hungerford, it’s absolutely stacked with options (glass sunroof, sports seats, park assist, adaptive xenons, stitched leather dash, DAB radio, HUD, reverse camera, 19-inch alloys) which makes me think this was either an ex- #BMW-UK car or a wealthy ‘tick every box’ purchase. And it could be yours for a derisory £23,995.
The colour’s nice and subtle and being a bit of an SE man myself it just strikes me as being the perfect car to keep in the garage so you can just take off somewhere at the drop of a hat. Okay, in terms of what it does it’s often hard to justify a 6 Series as a new car – the same size as a Five but with less room and dynamically outpointed by a 430d – but there’s an inner sybarite in all of us. What a staggering thing for the price of a base 118d!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationIndividual colours for UK #BMW-i8 / #BMW / #2016 / #BMW-i8-Individual / #BMW-i8-I12
BMW UK has extended its colour palette i8 with an array of striking new hues. As part of the BMW Individual collection, customers will be able to choose from a multitude of paint finishes including Java green, Speed yellow, Solar orange, Twilight purple pearl, Frozen grey, Frozen black, San Marino blue and Grigio Telesto pearl, to name just a few.
A variety of finishes are also available, including nonmetallic, metallic or Xirallic, which uses a mixture of synthetic mica or aluminium flakes in the paint. The addition of the new BMW Individual paint programme for the i8 follows the success of the early orders for the Protonic red limited edition and is bespoke to the UK. Commenting on the i8 Individual Exterior Paint Programme, Richard Hudson, Sales Director for #BMW-UK , said: “The i8 embodies the accomplished vision of a modern and sustainable sports car. The new paintwork colours not only complement the BMW i8’s emotive styling and design, they also work harmoniously with the BMW i brand and provide customers with exclusive personalised options.”
As well as the special paint finishes the i8 can also now be spec’d with black W-spoke wheels, too. The Individual paint finishes start at £5495 on top of the i8’s £105,540 on-the-road price tag.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationA Viable Option? #2016
The new #BMW-X5-40e #BMW-F15 costs the same as a xDrive40d model but which makes more sense to buy? #BMW-UK has pitched the #Hybrid-X5-40e right into the section of the 4x4 market occupied by the X5 40d… but is the part-petrol, part-electric machine a real alternative? Words: Bob Harper. Photography: BMW.
So here it is, the first of what will be four full plug-in hybrid models that #BMW will be launching in the UK this year. The X5 is the first to get the #PHEV treatment but following closely on its heels will be the 330e (that you can read about on https://drive-my.com/en/social/stream/item/8100.html ), the 220xe and the 740e and no doubt when the new Five and Six are eventually announced both of those cars’ architecture will have been designed to allow full use of BMW’s drivetrain of choice.
We’ve already had ‘ActiveHybrid’ versions of the 3, 5 and 7 Series but the next generation of BMW Hybrids are far more advanced than those and promise greater electric ranges and are less compromised in day-to-day use than its previous efforts. The real question that needs answering is whether one of these hybrids, and specifically this X5 we have here today, will actually suit your motoring needs? I would suggest that you’d need to sit down with a large piece of paper that will end up being covered in hastily squiggled figures to try and work out whether a hybrid or one of BMW’s already excellent diesel versions makes most sense for your specific needs.
I have to hold my hands up and say that I approached the test of this new kid on the block with a fair amount of cynicism – a diesel X5 is a wonderful machine to drive and own and with the hybrid’s limited range and perhaps less than stellar real-world economy figures I was finding it a difficult concept that someone would actually prefer to invest in the 40e than a 40d. First impressions are certainly good however – the X5 40e in M Sport trim we have here retains the big 4x4’s handsome good looks and is still an imposing piece of kit. It’s not likely your neighbours will notice it’s a hybrid either unless they catch you charging it or clock the small 40e script on the front doors or the subtle eDrive logo sitting on the X5’s rump.
Once I’ve clambered up into the X5, made myself comfortable and adjusted mirrors and seat to my satisfaction, I make the school boy error of assuming I’ve managed to break the X5 as pressing the starter button doesn’t elicit any sort of engine starting noises from under the bonnet. The dash pod glows nicely and I soon realise that the X5 is ‘running’ and that all I need to do if release the electronic handbrake.
Moving off with nary a whisper from the drivetrain is always a slightly uncanny feeling, but it’s one you soon become accustomed to in the X5. Once you’re rolling it’s not an entirely noise-free environment as a certain amount of road noise and tyre roar do eventually permeate the cabin as the speed rises. Trundling around the Berkshire sub-suburban roads where speeds are generally pretty low sees the four-cylinder twin-turbo slumbering, letting the electric motor and batteries take the strain until the speed rises to around 42mph and then the internal combustion side of the equation joins the party. We seem to use the word ‘seamless’ to describe so many things these days, but it really is the right description of the way the engine kicks in and out – if I hadn’t caught the movement of the rev counter needle out of the corner of my eye I really wouldn’t have realised the engine had kicked in.
After around 20 minutes of driving, not desperately fast, not intentionally slowly, simply keeping pace with the rest of the traffic on the road, the X5 is indicating a pretty staggering 73.9mpg. This rises and falls pretty rapidly depending on whether the four-cylinder is in play or not, and we must bear in mind that the battery was fully charged before departure, but it’s the sort of figure a diesel X5 could only dream about. The flip side of the coin is that when you use all the performance the economy plummets dramatically, but it’s worth remembering that there’s a lot of performance on offer if you use the combined might of the twin-scroll turbo four and the electric motor. Together they offer up 313hp (identical to the X5 40d’s output) and 332lb ft of torque (considerably down on the 40d’s 465lb ft) and if you ask it to, the 40e will really fly, taking you by surprise as this isn’t the sort of forward momentum you’re conditioned to expect in a car that has eco credentials. You’ll need to use the upper end of the rev-range in the 40e to enjoy the best it has to offer, but that’s no hardship as it does sound pretty good when revved hard. So, put simply, it’s pretty enjoyable to punt along, whether looking to eke every last bit of charge from the battery in the quest for ever-better economy figures, or when giving it a good old fashioned pasting.
But how does the X5 40e seemingly manage to offer the best of both worlds? As mentioned it uses the fourcylinder turbocharged engine (in a 245hp state of tune) allied to a synchronous electric motor (offering 113hp and 184lb ft of torque) that’s housed within the eight-speed automatic transmission. It has an all-electric range of between 14 and 19 miles and that latter figure is actually the distance market research has shown to be the average journey by X5 owners. BMW UK has put together some figures for what it expects potential owners will achieve under certain driving conditions and these may well help you decide on whether or not it’s going to be suitable for your needs.
In an urban commuting environment with journeys of up to 15 miles, BMW reckons you should be able to achieve 94mpg, running almost exclusively on electric power. For an owner using their X5 for trips of between 30 and 40 miles a day including commuting BMW expects returns in the mid-40s, typically 43-47mpg (better than you’d get with a diesel-powered X5) but over longer journeys (over 125 miles) the 40e is expected to return between 26 and 27mpg, making it less economical than a diesel model. All these figures assume you’re starting off with a fully charged battery pack, too, but as the X5 only takes two and a half hours to charge on a BMW i Wallbox (and three and a half from a standard 13amp socket) this shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve.
However, it’s worth considering that fuel economy isn’t the be all and end all when considering one’s overall motoring cost. For instance, the difference between running a car that does 30mpg compared to one that does 40mpg is only around £380 a year if you do 10k miles per year. If one assumes the 40e returns the former and the 40d the latter you’d need to factor in road tax (free for the 77g/km 40e) while the 157g/km 40d would cost you £180… bringing the overall cost difference to just £200. So it’s as near as makes no difference. What makes a huge difference is if you intend on running one of these as a company car as the chasm in Benefit in Kind rates are significantly larger. An X5 40e will cost a 40 per cent tax payer a little over £3000 in tax whereas a 40d will be getting on for double that figure… and surely that’s a pretty large chunk of cash unless your surname’s Abramovich.
There are some compromises in running the Hybrid 4x4, particularly if you wanted to spec a third row of seats in your X5, as this simply isn’t available in the 40e. Boot space is somewhat compromised too, and while it still has a virtually flat load bay its capacity is down to 500 litres (the 40d has 650) with the seats up, while maximum carrying capacity is down to 1720 for the 40e compared the 1870 for the non-hybrid models. Overall though I was impressed with the 40e and were my monthly company car allowance somewhat larger and I was interested in a large 4x4 it would undoubtedly be on my short list. I would be able to get virtually all the way to the office in pure electric mode, charge it for a couple of hours and return home in the same manner. The car’s energy management system would help here too. As well as the expected Drive Performance Control switch to toggle between Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport modes there’s a separate eDrive switch that allows you to tailor the use of the batteries to best effect. The default mode is ‘Auto eDrive’ which allows for electric driving up to around 40mph and focuses on the best efficiency. ‘Max eDrive’ will see the X5 running purely on electric power up to speeds of 75mph and the four-cylinder will only be awoken from its slumber should you either exceed that speed or use kick down. The last mode is ‘Save Battery’ which allows you to effectively shut off the electric motor to save the battery for when you get to an urban area later in your journey, and this would be ideal for me to switch off the electric side of the equation when I’m on the (mostly) open roads of Kent, reverting to battery power for the last congested slog into London. And if you use the satellite navigation system the car basically works all this out for you.
It certainly won’t be for everyone, but the 40e’s combination of low running costs (depending on your driving needs), low company car tax and the fact that it’s actually a hoot to drive quickly when the mood happens to take you makes BMW’s first full hybrid a bit of a winner if you ask me. My only fear is that BMW won’t be able to make them fast enough…
Interior of the 40e shares the same handsome architecture as other X5s.
eDrive lets you make the most of hybrid modes; boot is smaller than regular X5 and there’s no seven-seat option.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-X5-xDrive40e-M-Sport / #BMW-X5-F15 / #BMW-X5 / #BMW-X5-xDrive40e-M-Sport-F15 / #BMW-X5-xDrive40e-F15 /
DRIVETRAIN: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol with synchronous electric motor, eight-speed #Steptronic automatic, four-wheel drive
MAX POWER: 245hp at 5000-6500rpm (petrol), 113hp at 3170rpm (electric motor)
PEAK COMBINED POWER OUTPUT: 313hp
MAX TORQUE: 258lb ft at 1250-4800rpm (petrol), 184lb ft @ 0rpm (electric motor)
PEAK COMBINED TORQUE OUTPUT: 332lb ft
0-62MPH: 6.8 seconds
TOP SPEED: 130mph (limited)
CO2 EMISSIONS: 77g/km
PRICE (OTR): £56,705Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ #2016 / #BMW / Timing chains… again / #N42 / #BMW-N42 / #N63 / #BMW-N63 / #BMW-chain /
The latest timing chain ‘quality enhancement’ package (a recall that isn’t) is on the rare #N63 V8 engines, which are far more common in the USA than here. In fact, the action doesn’t appear to have happened in the UK yet despite appearing in the US almost a year ago but that’s not to say the problem doesn’t exist. The service bulletin is number #B001314 and like the N42 2.0-litre diesels, it’s about measuring chain stretch and deciding whether to remove the engine and replace everything. As well as the chain, the bulletin also mentions checking and, if required, replacing other parts – injectors, MAFs, crankcase vent pipes, brake vacuum pump and the low pressure fuel sensor.
Apparently there is 38 hours of work involved so it’s a major issue. We’re guessing that the other parts have been causing trouble as well so BMW just wants to replace the lot. On this engine the chains are at the front of the unit and it’s a simple enough design with one chain per bank running from the crank sprocket. But the chain casing is sandwiched between the heads and the sump so one or other must be removed. The 38-hour time suggests the engine and gearbox have to come out and both heads and sump removed. In the US the oil change interval seems to have been dropped down to 10,000 miles. Timing chains have a hard life and extended oil changes as well as auto stop/start really do them no favours. Cars affected are #V8 petrol engine variants of the F10 and F11 5 Series plus the 5 GT, the F01 7 Series, X5, X6 and 6 Series. #BMW-UK has not issued any kind of technical bulletin but it’s worth bearing in mind if the EML light comes on and you notice the car is not running as it should.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBMW DEALS Words: Guy Baker / #BMW-UK / #BMW / #BMW-X4-F26
Our monthly roundup of what’s hot, or not, in the BMW marketplace
/ 2015 / has been the best year ever for BMW in terms of UK sales. And with other marques’ sales starting to falter, BMW UK achieved a staggering 32 per cent increase in registrations during October – with year-to- date registrations up 11.42 per cent on the equivalent period for 2014. Its BMW-UK market share now stands at an impressive 5.8 per cent Along with almost all other manufacturers, used BMW values, however, are starting to suffer. “With an increase in the number of wholesale vehicles in the auction halls BMW is feeling the pressure on values, as we move toward the holidays,” reports Rupert Pontin, Head of Valuations at trade guru Glass’s. But despite the increased supply of used BMWs some cars are still fetching good prices. “Those vehicles with an attractive specification and, in particular, white paint are still attracting the buyers,” Rupert tells us. 1 and 5 Series are now proving some of the hardest models to shift at auction, with the Z4 heading the list of the least in-demand BMWs. But the 2 Series, i3 and X4 are all still being bought for strong money by dealers at auction – although the #BMW-X4 is currently the slowest-selling new BMW model.
Main dealers have some attractive PCP finance deals currently on new 1 Series hatchbacks with the 118i M Sport three-door for just £249 a month, over 48 months. The interest rate is only 5.9 per cent APR and assuming you cover 10,000 miles a year – and can put down £3499 – BMW will contribute a total of £1390 toward the cost.
Search online and you might find an even better deal. Online discounter www.broadspeed.com is offering a substantial discount of £2251 on this model at the moment – and will cut as much as £3274 off the RRP of a 120i M Sport three-door.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBought in ten minutes! #BMW-UK / #BMW / #BMW-AG / #2016
BMW UK has launched a unique end-to-end online service, where customers can select, finance and purchase their car online, potentially being able to buy a new car in less than ten minutes. With just a few clicks, prospective BMW owners can build their perfect car, arrange a test drive if necessary, agree financing options, payment method, and get a trade-in value for their own car before finalising the delivery date – all online, 24/7.
Dr Ian Robertson, member of the BMW AG board of management responsible for sales and marketing BMW and sales channels BMW Group, said: “We are the first car manufacturer to offer a digital sales solution for the entire product range and the full end-to-end buying or leasing process online. Now, UK customers can do everything from the comfort of their home. The integration of the BMW Genius via live chat and retailer messaging functions, where the customer is able to get personalised support in real time, makes this system unique and a new benchmark for the automotive industry.”
The aim of BMW Retail Online is to offer the dealer more channels and opportunities to get in touch with potential customers and to adapt to changing purchasing behaviour and technology awareness. Though the buying process can be done entirely online, the dealer remains at the heart of the process and is in control of the sale.
Furthermore, many customers appreciate the availability of personal, human advice at points along the way. Multi-channel chat options (webchat, phone or email) mirror the in-showroom BMW Genius experience, offered from 8am-10pm. Before being rolled out nationally, #BMW-Retail-Online was trialled with nine UK retailers and proved such a success that 95 per cent of BMW UK retailers will offer this service to their customers.
News of this announcement coincides with general purchasing trends for all types of goods increasingly moving to the web. Online global commerce is expected to reach US$ 2.5 trillion by 2020. This trend is reflected in the car industry, with 97 per cent of buyers researching their car purchase online and customers now visiting a retailer on average just 1.4 times before completing their purchase. This compares to an average of four visits per purchase in 1998.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationWhat’s in your Garage? We meet a man with a passion for rare BMW-E3 models that have been converted to estates. Mike Taylor traces the fascinating story behind the handcrafted E3 estates and one man’s passion for owning the ultimate version Photography: Mike Taylor /// #BMW-3.0Si-Touring-E3 /// #BMW-3.0Si-E9 /// #BMW-E9-Touring /// #BMW-3.0Si-Estate /// #BMW-E3-Wagon
David Maughan is a car guy, drawn unreservedly to the lines and engineering of German cars – BMW and Porsche in particular. “When I saw my first #BMW-E3 it blew me away,” David enthuses. Apparently, his mother claimed his fascination for cars came from the fact that while she was pregnant with David she also took her driving test, a gene thing, perhaps. Later, aged 17, he was given £50 to buy a car. “Like most youngsters my passion was for speed, but I ended up buying a Mini 850,” he continues. “Later, while my father was driving a BMC 1800 ‘Land Crab’, I saw one of the very first 2500 E3s in the UK. Later, the 1972 TV series Man at the Top featured a BMW 3.0Si, some of the filming being done outside our home in West London. It was a clever marketing ploy by BMW UK to promote the car as a top drawer executive saloon.” For David, at least, it had the desired effect.
Sometime later Classic & Sportscar magazine featured a 3.0Si tested against an equivalent Mercedes, motor-noter Martin Buckley proclaiming the BMW to be the preferred machine. When the car then came up for sale at a BMW specialist in East Sussex David bought it without hesitation; he still has it. David’s introduction to BMW E3 Estate cars came in 1994 through an advertisement. “The car was reckoned to be the Team Alpina tow car,” says David. “While I can’t vouch for that I can say that its first owner was King Constantine of Greece. The opportunity was too good to miss. Sadly, when I went to collect it the car was a mess. The spare wheel well, the floor, the interior; it was too far gone. But it did launch me on my quest for an E3 Estate.”
The story behind these unusual cars could be said to have started by the salvation of the company by Dr Herbert Quandt in 1959 and the programme to rejuvenate BMW models. The BMW Board was joined by Paul Hofmeister who focused the range on reaching a niche market while driving up exports. Before long BMW was successfully combining exclusivity with competition charisma. The 700 Series and the larger Neue Klasse saloons could be seen on events such as the Monte Carlo Rally and the Saloon Car Championships rounds. Meanwhile, the company’s competition department, set up in the main factory, was developing Formula 2 cars using, first, a Lola chassis powered by a highly modified M10 engine. Privateers and outside companies like Alpina and Schnitzer were compounding competition successes. Toward the end of the decade, to transport the cars from circuit-to-circuit BMW’s competition workshops arranged for three estate cars to be built based on the recently-launched E3. Meanwhile a small workshop for the rally department was set up at Pension Preußenstraße in Leipzig.
The first E3s were the 2500 and the 2800 saloons arriving in the UK in time for the 1969 sales year, the larger engined model benefitting from an improved trim level. Both power units shared the same design – a chain-driven overhead camshaft six-cylinder engine. Its smooth running was the result of seven main bearings. Carburetion was provided by two twin-choke Solex/Zeniths feeding a cylinder head with hemispherical combustion chambers. Transmission was either a four-speed manual ‘box or a three-speed automatic, both well suited to the engine’s characteristics. Suspension utilised MacPherson struts at the front and independent trailing arms at the rear. On release the E3s set a new benchmark for top end luxury performance cars aimed at senior executives who enjoyed driving themselves. After the near-collapse of the company less than ten years before, the range was an astonishing achievement. Yet, there was more to come; a #M30 / #M30B30 3.0-litre car followed soon after drawing breath through carburettor induction while the flagship fuel injected 3.0Si followed in 1971. As tested by Autocar, with a 0-60 time of 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 131mph this version was truly a breathtakingly quick car for its day.
However, it was the 3.0-litre versions that provided the platform for the competition estates, known around the factory as Kombis. Three estates were built. In the cockpit only the front seats were fitted with a grill behind to prevent tools and spares from flying forward in the event of heavy braking. In the rear was a flat panelled area which would be turned into a sleeping facility when the mechanics stopped for the night. A substantial roof rack was added taking spare wheels and tyres. The rear side windows were perspex while the tailgates are thought to have come from the Ford Taunus, adapted by seam welding it to the upright section of the bootlid complete with lock; overall, it was a very neat job.
Over their five year career the Kombis were used as tow vehicles for both racing and rallying, ex-team mechanics recalling long hauls between rallies such as the Acropolis, the 1000 Lakes and the Monte Carlo. On one occasion a car was so over-laden that the alloy wheels, which were retrospectively fitted from the 3.0Si, cracked and collapsed. Significantly, as workhorses they proved ideal transport. Yet, BMW’s marketing team had no feelings or favouritism for the estate theme in their mainstream model line-up; if there was a hunting, shooting or fishing fraternity in Germany it was not considered worthy of satisfying their demands with a suitable vehicle; the three Kombis remained unique.
From the outset BMW’s sales structure in the UK was an autonomous operation. By 1969 BMW Concessionaires (GB) Ltd was operated by Peter Beaumont, Raymond Playfoot and Peter Samuelson as an independent company owned by investment organisation (now part of the Inchcape group) Tozer, Kemsley, Milbourn Ltd. The 1960s was a period of consolidation for the BMW marque in the UK, with dealers being established around the country and 1788 cars were sold during 1969. In 1970 the numbers sold leapt to 3028, a trend which would multiply several times over during the decade.
With this growth rate and the freedom to pursue their own marketing strategy a plan was conceived to offer an estate version of the E3, encouraged no doubt by the Kombis, which would have been seen around the international race and rally venues. A specification was drawn up, which included extending the roof, fitting a tailgate and retrimming the boot area. To make the package more attractive the client brochure offered several extras including a sunroof, a dog guard, a rubber mat covering the load area and a tow bar. The introduction of the Rover P6 Estate called the ‘Estoura’ in 1969, built by FLM Panelcraft and tested by Autocar, will have influenced the BMW UK concessionaires still further in their notion to introduce an estate version of the E3.
FLM Panelcraft had been founded in the early 1950s. Based in Battersea, South London, FLM took its initials from the company founders, Messrs Fry, Lee and McNally, employing craftsmen from the declining coachbuilding industry, most notably James Young. They began by restoring and converting prewar Rolls-Royces and Bentleys. The company then embarked on a series of estate car conversions of contemporary upmarket saloons, part of this work being under sub-contract to another well known coachbuilding specialist, Crayford, based in Westerham, Kent whose name was already linked to turning BMC and Ford saloons into convertibles.
Sadly, it’s clear today that these Panelcraft Estates were built down to a price using pop-rivets for joining the roof’s sections, lead loaded and covered with vinyl, panels being positioned over existing bodywork with no attempt at rust proofing. Having adapted the bodyshell the work of trimming was passed to Crayford, H R Owen or Hurst Park Motors, which would account for the subtle differences between the cars. From David’s experience the conversions carried out on BMW E3s also suffered from poor workmanship: “When I went to collect my first E3 estate I could see that the trim was incredibly crudely done; the conversion was mostly based on removing the rear scuttle, adding the roof and adapting the seat fixings with a bit of carpet. I was very disappointed. However, I took the view that there were probably more so it was eventually scrapped.”
David’s second estate was supplied originally by Shirley’s of Croydon, South London. “Judging by the registration details I think the dealers gave the owner a copy of the brochure and he had it converted later, in 1981,” continues David. “I bought it in 1995 and again it was in a very sorry state. At the time I was talking to a restorer in Ireland and I was persuaded to send them the BMW and they did all the strip-out work. It had a metal sunroof and when we took the vinyl off we found that where the additional estate roof section met the original panel it had been leadfilled and pop-riveted. We ended up putting a complete new roof on and respraying it Polaris silver.
But I began to realise it could never be restored to the quality I wanted and the project stalled.” But, David was still not done. In 2001 he saw another E3 estate for sale and decided, no matter what its condition, he would buy it to produce patterns. “For example the glass in the rear was specially cut. It, too, was crated up and sent off to the Ireland. Again, we took everything off worth saving and then the car was scrapped.”
It was some years later when David read about a company who specialised in high end BMW restorations based just outside Chicago called ‘The Werk Shop’. “I knew it would prepare the car to the quality I wanted so, in 2008 it was placed in a container and sent over.”
With the car unloaded the Chicago team began to evaluate the true measure of the task they’d been given. The predicament was whether to restore it to Panelcraft’s standards, or to undertake a thorough job. In the event David chose the latter route. Three doors, a rear wing panel and the inner and outer sills were all replaced while the tailgate required considerable fettling. But it was the interior trim which posed the conundrum. Not to be disappointed with the end result, David specified blue leather seats with matching quality carpeting.
David found his fourth Estate car while browsing through eBay. “In 1973 Anton Hille, the UK concessionaires MD, formed a team with Tony Lanfranchi as competition/team manager and four competition 3.0Si saloons were built by Mathwall Engineering. Three were entered in the 1973 Avon Tour of Great Britain. The drivers were Roger Bell,Tony Lanfranchi and Mike Woolley. The team was based in West London and they used an E3 estate as a tow car. Those who remember the car recall it was a 3.0SA in white with a blue roof. The guys in Chicago said buy it, so in 2008 that went off to the States as well.”
Today, David’s beloved E3, (his second in chronological order of purchase) is back in the UK with a little detailing yet to be done, and is in the capable hands of Barney Halse at Classic Heroes. “Through lots of research I know of nine-ten E3 Estates, which includes a recently discovered car in the West Country.”
So, does the car live up to David’s exacting standards? “The drivetrain has been rebuilt and all the suspension components replaced,” he replies. “Overall, it’s covered around 60 miles, long enough for me to become acquainted with its strengths and foibles. E3 saloons were only blessed with average torsional rigidity for the day so converting one into an estate leads to greater flexing, which you can feel when it’s driven over our potholed B-roads or uneven surfaces. I may have a removable strutbrace fitted linking the twin rear suspension turrets. Other than that I’m very pleased with the result.”
As for the Kombis, in #1974 they were disposed of and replaced by larger transporters more suited to the task. Only one has survived. The last of the trio to be built was actually bought by one of the BMW mechanics who had driven it in haste from event to event. He rebuilt it, the task including a complete body strip and respray in BMW’s competitions livery of white and sea blue. It was then sold to a UK-based #BMW specialist.
The estate conversion could be ordered when new or even at a later date.
THANKS TO: #David-Maughan , Alex Elliott, Barney Halse, John Castle, #BMW-UK and Jean Kittel for their help with this article.
This is David’s second E3 estate that’s been restored and resprayed Polaris silver. All the mechanicals have been rebuilt, too.
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