- Post is under moderationELLIOTT STILING
1988 E32 750iL V12
2017 F22 230i M SPORT COUPÉ
1983 ALPINA B9 3.5 (E28)
Alpina B9 3.5 (E28)
TOTAL MILEAGE: 138,520
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 0
TOTAL COST: £25 (relays), £10 (fuel hose), £40 (ignition coil), £20 (distributor)
E32 750iL #BMW-V12 / / #BMW-E32 / #BMW-750iL / #BMW-750iL-E32 / #BMW-7-series-E32 / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW / #M70 / #BMW-M70
TOTAL MILEAGE: 119,572
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 12
MPG THIS MONTH: 18.7
TOTAL COST: £136.14 (MoT work), £10 (seatbelt buckle), £50 (storage)
F22 230i Coupé
TOTAL MILEAGE: 18,934
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 851
MPG THIS MONTH: 38.7
TOTAL COST: Still none
Last month I made a promise to update you on Maggie’s #MoT and the Alpina’s non-start issue, so here goes.
The annual MoT test can be a nerve-wracking ordeal for any classic car owner, but I had faith that Maggie’s test wouldn’t produce a fail sheet as long as my arm. Thankfully, as it turned out, my hunch was spot-on!
The fail list consisted of two tyres which were not fitted in accordance with the side wall instructions, a windscreen wiper that doesn’t clear the windscreen effectively, the horn not working, a rear seatbelt buckle that was found to be broken and a ball joint dust cover that was no longer preventing the ingress of dirt. However, all things considered, I didn’t think there was actually terribly much to put right and, to be honest, most of them were things that I was already aware of. What’s more, the bill wasn’t too bad at all, either, at just £136.14, which included the test fee. Sadly, though, that inner glow of well-being wasn’t to last.
While I was out with the car on the photoshoot for this month’s E32 Buyers Guide, I suddenly became aware of an odd, groaning and grinding sound emanating from somewhere under the bonnet. It lasted for a few miles until the power steering failed followed, shortly after that, by a loss of brake pressure. Thankfully, we managed to get all the photos we needed for the feature, and then limped Maggie home without further incident. She’s now sitting patiently, awaiting a slot at the garage to investigate things further.
Early research would suggest that the most likely culprits could be either a failed power steering pump, air being drawn into the system, a drive belt failure or a brake bomb failure. However, it shouldn’t be the latter as that part was replaced fairly recently, but I’ll just have to wait and see what the garage can find.
As you saw last month, I’m also having some challenges with the Alpina. It’s never once failed to start in all the time I’ve owned it, but is definitely showing not the slightest interest in fi ring-up now. In an effort to isolate the problem, I bought myself a multimeter and began testing various parts with that. But, in the end, I think it’s better to just replace the most likely candidates, on the basis that they will all then have another fresh lifespan on them.
Finding parts hasn’t been overly challenging, although you can’t really buy bigger parts from BMW any more. Thankfully, though, there are plenty of alternative options online. So far, I’ve picked up a new distributor and rotor arm, a DME relay, fuel pump relay and an ignition coil. Hopefully, I will find time in the next week or so to fi t these myself, and see if that does the job. I’ve also noticed a strong smell of petrol coming from under the bonnet, and have traced that back to the fuel pipe that runs to the cold start injector. I don’t think it’s related to the starting issue but, clearly, a weeping fuel line in the engine bay is never a good idea, so I’ll be tackling that, also.
If there’s one positive thing to come out of the current situation, it’s that I get to spend a bit of time getting hands-on with the Alpina; E28s are always nice cars to work on. Of course, if the problem turns out to be more involved than I’m currently hoping, I might be forced to eat those words! It does mean, though, that the car won’t see the light of day this side of Christmas, because I’m struggling to see a time when I can get the subsequent MoT sorted before we go away to the West Coast of Scotland in the New Year.
Below: The E28 is a good car to work on which, as it turns out, is a good thing. For the first time since I’ve had the Alpina, it won’t start and I’ve yet to isolate the problem. But among the new electrical components I’ve already sourced online, is a new #distributor .
The Alpina’s also developed a fuel leak, coming from the pipe that supplies the cold start #injector .
The annual MoT test can be a nerve-wracking ordeal for any classic car owner, but I had faith that Maggie’s test wouldn’t produce a fail sheet as long as my arm. Despite the MoT test success, Maggie rather blotted her copybook on a recent BMW Car magazine photo shoot, with an as yet unidentified power steering and brake pressure failure.
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- Post is under moderationTrending: #BMW-850CSi-E31 / #BMW-850Csi / #BMW-E31 / #BMW-8-Series / #BMW-8-Series-E31 / #BMW / #BMW-M8
One to buy!
BMW’s big 8 Series coupé may be a thing of great beauty, but it was never a success, largely due to being too big and expensive for what you got, and too heavy to really enjoy chucking about. BMW never sold more than 10,000 in a year.
None of that kind of thing has ever prevented a car becoming a classic before, but the 840 and 850 have even struggled to gain that recognition, gaining ground at a slower pace than everything else in the recent boom. But there is one exception to all that, and it’s a car many may not even be aware of. It was built from 1992-1996, during which time only 160 BMW 850CSis were produced in right-hand drive. Which is a shame because this, in reality, is the range’s #M-car . Its prototype was even called the #BMW-M8-E31 . For these the #BMW-V12 was bored out to 5.6 litres and kicked out 375bhp rather than the standard 322. That boost in power meant it could kick some bottoms. Suspension and steering were modded too, and you could only have one with a six-speed manual. Now these are worth something. Prices have shot up recently and can now top £50k – more than three times the price of a regular 850.
The 850CSi is the M-car of the 8 Series.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBMW-760Li-E66 / CLASSIC ON THE CUSP / CHASING CARS Quentin Willson’s hot tips
/ #BMW-760Li-E66 / #BMW-E66 / #BMW-E65 / #BMW-760Li / #BMW / #BMW-V12 / #V12 / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-E66 / #BMW-7-Series-E65 / #BMW-7-Series-LWB / #BMW-760Li-Yachtline-Concept-E66 / #2002 / #BMW-760Li-Yachtline-Concept / #2002-BMW-760Li-Yachtline-Concept-E66
COST NEW £90k
VALUE NOW £10k
BMW’s long-wheelbase #V12-7-Series was born in a pre-recession world. Back then excess was a badge of rank and the superlatives piled up – plush, fast, huge, silent, smooth, rare and, above all, selfish. The 21st century equivalent of a long-wheelbase Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud (ironically it shares engine architecture with the current RR Ghost), the lengthened 760 was the ultimate luxo-limo for CEOs of PLCs.
Like almost all limousines early depreciation had the downward momentum of a falling Steinway. Back in 2003 you could spec up a 760Li and shell out nearly £100k. That same car with a modest mileage 15 years later is now worth ten grand. Craignairn Cars in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, has a mint #Orient-Blue #2003 with 64,000 miles and £12,800 of factory extras for just £9995. And it comes with a full BMW dealer history plus a titled owner in the V5. What’s not to love?
Don’t get me wrong, a ten-grand 760 won’t be an investment, but as something utterly wonderful for discreet weekend wafting it’s worth losing £5k for a couple of years of feeling like Bill Gates. It might not even cost you that much because there are only 117 examples registered on the DVLA database so they’re rare enough to develop desirability.
As well as the extra length, you also get soft-close doors, heated, cooled and massaging front and rear power seats, rear-window blinds and side curtains, TV, dynamic damping and your very own iDrive control in the rear compartment to override the chauffeur’s one up front.
A private seller in Solihull has a 2007 in Burgundy with 57k, full history and a nice private reg for £13,000. And if you really want a keeper how about this one? Advertised in Manchester is a 2003 in silver with just 7000 miles from new and described as ‘totally perfect’ for £19,300. And yes, I hear you say that any big bills could easily contain four figures, but apart from high-pressure fuel pumps and the need for a gearbox service at 50,000 miles, the trade says 760s aren’t that bad. But this is one used super-saloon that categorically needs a full BMW dealer history complete with a sheaf of receipts.
Therefore, shop with great care and only go for sensible-mileage cars and you should be OK. The 760Li was a neo-classic from the day it was born, but having withered down to as little as £10,000 they’ve become a compelling opportunity.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationELLIOTT STILING 1983 E28 ALPINA B9 3.5 / 1988 E32 750iL #V12
/ #BMW / #BMW-E32 / #BMW-750iL / #BMW-V12 / #BMW-750iL-E32 / #BMW-750i-E32 / #BMW-7-series-E32
CAR: E28 Alpina B9 3.5
TOTAL MILEAGE: Can’t remember
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 0
MPG THIS MONTH: 0
TOTAL COST: 0
CAR: E32 750iL V12
TOTAL MILEAGE: 118,797
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 0
MPG THIS MONTH: 0
TOTAL COST: Racking-up!
This month has been all about the 750iL. I dropped by Hardings Garage to see how Steve and Dale have been getting on, and am happy to report that good progress has been made.
The guys have fitted the non-electronic suspension and it was a relief to hear that the job went well – partially because that should translate into a slightly more palatable labour bill, although I have no idea what this is all costing, because we haven’t agreed any figures yet!
Before deciding to have that work done, I researched the modification, and it was clear that the removal of the failed EDC insert from the strut sleeve could be both challenging and frustrating. I was expecting an ‘if we knew it would be this bad, we wouldn’t have agreed to do it’-type conversation, but Steve said the old insert came out really easily, then the new one went in perfectly.
The next job is to delete the SLS or Self Levelling (rear) Suspension because, as you can see from the photograph, the rear ride height isn’t correct yet. If you look closely, you’ll also see that the system threw all of its fluid out over the ramp when powered-up for the first time. Hopefully, though, this should be as easy to sort as the internet suggests. The other main job needed was to fix the solid brake pedal problem, which has afflicted the car ever since I bought it. Of course, the previous owner didn’t know anything about that... cough.
Despite replacing another part in the braking system a few months ago, it’s now apparent the actual culprit is the brake accumulator sphere. This device meters out the hydraulic pressure for the brakes and steering, and complete failure of this part means you have neither when you need them most – gulp.
However, the bad news is that after researching the correct part number, I’ve discovered that it isn’t available anywhere. Internationally, BMW itself scrapped all remaining spheres in 2014, when the newest stock reached its maximum stocking age of five years.
Despite scouring the (internet) world, I cannot find another matching sphere anywhere, so all V12 E32 owners worldwide could suffer from this challenge. So, with necessity being the mother of all creation, we’ve had to think outside the box to solve this one.
There’s no way an E32 V12 should be consigned to being a parts car because a single component in the braking system isn’t available. I could fit a second-hand part, maybe, but it’ll be the same age as the part that’s failed. That doesn’t make much sense, so I’ve bought a brand new 735i part instead, and have tasked Hardings with modifying it to fi t, and thus keep my old girl running.
We have a date with an M760Li coming up soon (keep your eyes peeled for a future issue), and I want to make sure Maggie puts in a good showing. More next month on whether the modification worked because, as we stand right now, I don’t actually have a credible Plan B.
There’s work still to be done on the 750iL’s suspension. Having removed the EDC units, the ride height needs further adjustment, and then there’s the fluid loss…
This is a 735i brake accumulator sphere. The correct part for the 750iL is no longer available from BMW, so let’s hope this one can be adapted as necessary.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSTEVEN’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.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCAR: #BMW / #BMW-E32 / #BMW-750iL / #BMW-V12 / #BMW-750iL-E32 / #BMW-750i-E32 / #BMW-7-series-E32
TOTAL MILEAGE: 118,797
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 496
MPG THIS MONTH: 17.9
TOTAL COST: £286 (dampers)
I had hoped to have a fully, fighting-fit #BMW-7-Series for inclusion this month but, sadly, only some of the jobs have been ticked-off the ‘to do’ list. The spark plugs and leads have been fitted, and I’m pleased to report that the engine’s turbine-like approach to business has been restored. The hydraulic brake cylinder has been fitted too, together with a full brake service. Sadly, though, this identified broken bleed nipples on the front calipers, so both had to be replaced – an expense I wasn’t predicting and, while it’s probably not the end of the world, I haven’t had the bill for them yet! Unfortunately, this work hasn’t cured the brake pedal pressure problem I’ve mentioned here in the past, so it’s now looking like I’ll need to source a new brake accumulator. BMW don’t have one in stock apparently (and I’d no doubt have heart failure at the price, even if they did!), so I think a bit of a Google/ forum searching session will be required.
With workshop space at a premium, Hardings asked if I could take the car back, at least until I managed to get the suspension parts the car needs, so I’ve taken the opportunity to use the car pretty much as a daily-driver. It’s done everything this month from B&Q trips, commuting, plus some decent motorway schleps, seriously boosting this month’s mileage. It’s been an interesting exercise actually, and I’ll report on my thoughts and findings soon.
In the meantime, I’ve finally managed to track down some matching, Monroe non-EDC dampers for the car, for the bargain price of £286. Funnily enough, they came from Eastern Europe, which seems to be a new parts haven for classic BMWs. Now, with MoT day looming, ‘Maggie’ is back at Hardings awaiting her leg transplants, and the completion of the rest of the outstanding jobs. Something tells me that this garage session is going to cost me…
Bargain-priced #Monroe dampers, hot off the courier van from Eastern Europe!
My 750iL still isn’t fully fighting fit, but we’re getting closer.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationV12 LMR / #Jenny-Holzer / #BMW-Art-Cars / #1999 / #BMW-V12-LMR / #BMW-S70/3 / #BMW-S70 / #BMW-V12 / #BMW-V12-LMR-Jenny-Holzer / #BMW-Art-Car / #Art-Cars / #Art-Car / #BMW / #BMW-V12-LMR-Art-Car /
After a break of four years since David Hockey’s 850CSi BMW returned to its roots with the 15th Art Car – it was going racing again! Art Cars The 15th machine in the series: Jenny Holzer’s V12 LMR.
As BMW’s Art Car project started with racing cars one could argue that over the ensuing years it’s used far too many road cars, and even when it did choose to adorn its racing cars they were never used in anger on track – witness the two E30 M3s and the E36 Touring Car that never went near a circuit. The first four cars all took part in the #Le-Mans 24-Hour and 1999 saw a return with Jenny Holzer’s V12 LMR.
The work of Jenny Holzer, who was born in Ohio, USA, in 1950, cannot be put into conventional categories. Since the late seventies, she has rejected traditional forms of expression such as representational painting, working with words instead of pictures. Messages in the form of LED lettering are arranged together with carved plaques, benches or sarcophaguses made of stone to make up complete installations. It is this interplay of language, objects and context as equal elements that render her work so unique and makes her one of the most consistently exhibited artists worldwide. The Art Car designed by the American concept artist was adorned with messages which she said, “Will probably never become void”. Bold statements in capitals such as ‘Protect me from what I want’ and ‘What urge will save us now that sex wont?’ were emblazoned on the car.
Her concept is based on traditional colours and materials used in motor racing. To allow the characteristic blue and white BMW colours to remain visible during the 24-hour race at Le Mans, she used reflecting chrome letters and phosphorescent colours. During the day the sky is reflected in the letters, during the night the foil is desorbing the saved daylight in blue. Except that the car never raced at Le Mans, although it was one of three V12 LMRs that was used for the preliminary qualification in May, for the actual race BMW elected to use the more traditionally liveried cars. It would have been disappointing had BMW left it at that, but fortunately the car did compete in its Holzer livery in a round of the American Le Mans Series in 2000 at Road Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans. Sadly by this time the LMRs were no longer competitive and had to play second fiddle to the Audis with the Holzer car coming in a distant fourth place.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSTEVEN’S E31 850Ci / #BMW-E31 / #BMW-850Ci / #BMW-850Ci-E31 / #BMW / #BMW-8-Series / #BMW-8-Series-E31 / #V12 / #BMW-V12 / #M70 / #BMW-M70
Improvement work on the 850 has taken a back seat this month as I’ve had to deal with some of the inevitable consequences of owning a 25-year-old classic. While driving in to work a few weeks back the temperature needle went considerably beyond 12 o’clock, and I had to abandon ship.
While nursing the car home, I realised it would only overheat while stationary. While driving, the temperature was fi ne, which is a classic case of viscous fan coupling failure. The viscous fan is designed to operate at several speeds, which are controlled by a clutch mechanism within the viscous coupling. As the temperature increases the clutch tightens up and eventually locks, which makes the fan spin faster and cool the radiator. If the coupling fails, then the clutch won’t lock up and the fan speed doesn’t increase to cool the engine. While driving along, the air that passes through the car can cool the radiator, but when stationary, it relies purely on the fan.
I ordered a replacement viscous fan coupling from KMS Parts for a reasonable £50, and a friend of mine fitted it one evening. I admit it’s a bit lame to pay someone else to do something I’m perfectly capable of doing myself, but unfortunately two kids and three other cars mean some jobs are being farmed out to the professionals. To be fair, he did it in half the time I would have done, and probably did a better job of it too.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story, as while the fan was now locking up, the temperature was still rising too high. Upon more investigation, and after some online advice from Bimmerforums.co.uk (thanks Timm) there appeared to be an airlock in the system. So after adding another litre of coolant and squeezing the hell out of every hose we managed to release the airlock and she now behaves herself perfectly. At least for the time being…
The second problem that the 850 has developed is a rather severe wheel wobble at 50mph. Larger BMWs are notorious for the 50-60mph ‘shimmy’ and it was now my turn. The causes of this are numerous and often hard to pin down, however mine appears to be relatively simple as I realised my front tyres are rather egg-shaped. This appears to be the result of using unbelievably budget tyres (have you ever heard of Landsail? No, me neither) and parking the car up for weeks at a time.
In my defence, I didn’t choose the tyres as they were on the wheels when I bought them and I stuck with them for the short term. I won’t mourn their passing. It does leave me with a dilemma though. I’m wondering if I could find another set of rear wheels and fi t them on the front. 11.5” is rather wide for a front wheel, but the deep dish will look cool as hell. The E31 has extremely low offsets due to its wide body, so if any car can handle it, it’s the 850. Tune in next month to see whether they fi t or not.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLONGTERMERS #BMW-E28 / #BMW-E28-Alpina / #Alpina-B9 and E32 750iL / #Alpina / #Alpina-B9-E28
I would love to report some serious movement on the B9’s refurbishment but unfortunately the truth is I haven’t really had the chance to chase the body shop this month.
I have, however, received negative news from my ‘stripes guy’. It doesn’t look like he is able to supply them in the timescale I am likely to need so it’s back to the drawing board. The fall back plan is to just have the car back without any stripes and then have them retro-fitted when I can procure a set. The BMW community is a big one, and an international one at that so if you know where I can have a set made up please do get in touch!
In the meanwhile, the editor kindly sent me a link to a B9 which has just sold at a CCA car auction. It was a 1986, white Japanese import with a low mileage of 77,000. It was, however, hampered somewhat by being left-hand drive and having an automatic gearbox. The latter for me would be a serious problem as these cars really need the manual gearbox in my opinion. Plus winter isn’t the ideal season to maximise the sale value of your classic car…
Using CCA’s five-star system it was described as a three-star car – ‘Good: Everyday useable classic car, driven and enjoyed, commensurate with age and mileage, drives and looks as it should, some vehicle history’.
I suspect it would have benefitted from being sold in Germany where left-hand drive classic Alpinas sell for really strong money. Nevertheless it fetched £16,500 which I thought was a good buy for its new owner, who certainly hasn’t overpaid for what is an exceptionally rare car.
It looks like I will need to review the guaranteed value I have with my insurer when it comes to renewal time. Good news indeed.
On the 7 Series front what little time I have had to spare has been spent trying to find bits for it rather than driving it very far.
In my last report I mentioned not being able to find the required brake booster in the UK, as all of the available parts were in America. After a little bit more research I finally managed to track one down in the UK. The best bit was the price. By not getting stung with the post-Brexit exchange rate and import duty I managed to buy one for £130, nearly half of the £250 it was going to cost to get one from the US. I need to get the part down to my local garage to check it’s all there!
Given editor Bob’s recent positive results with having his throttle bodies cleaned I might just have a look at how much of a job that is on a 750iL. I suspect the answer will be ‘at least twice as much’ because the V12 seems to have two of everything.
Given the car’s idle isn’t quite as sewing machine smooth as it should be and it seems to be running a little rich at idle it’s probably a job worth doing. I suspect as much as anything some new spark plugs will clear things up but having researched how to replace spark plug number 12 on a BMW 750 I think that’s a job for the garage.
In the meanwhile I have tackled an easy job and replaced the car’s two air filters. The originals weren’t all that bad but there is a nice feel-good feeling to knowing your car is breathing through new filters. I am hoping the garage can take the car in sometime in January because I’d like to get things moving along ahead of the spring car show scene as I’d like to start showing the car off a bit.
In the meanwhile I have seen another 750iL for sale which is located only ten miles from me, in my favourite colour of black. I’m trying desperately to not just jump in the car and have a look. It’s a disease, being into classic BMWs…
CAR: #BMW-E32 / #BMW-750iL / #BMW-750iL-E32 / #BMW-750i-E32 / #BMW-7-series-E32 / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW / #M70 / #BMW-M70 / #V12 / #BMW-V12
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 23
TOTAL MILEAGE: 118,235
MPG THIS MONTH: Not sure
COST THIS MONTH: no new ones this monthStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSTEVEN’S E31 850Ci / #BMW-E31 / #BMW-850Ci / #BMW-850Ci-E31 / #BMW / #BMW-8-Series / #BMW-8-Series-E31 / #V12 / #BMW-V12 / #M70 / #BMW-M70
The interior of the 850 has always been an area that needed work. I have replaced the sagging headlining and cleaned the seats and carpets to within an inch of their life, however there is no escaping the fact that the leather seats are worn. Plus, with the car now sporting white paintwork, the light grey seats no longer offered the colour contrast that I always like to have. As a result, the search for a new interior has long been on the cards.
What I really wanted was a complete leather retrim. And so I took the 850 to ‘Dave the Trimmer’ – a car trimming shop near where I work to get a quote on how much it would cost to recoat all the seats and doorcards in a lovely rich dark red leather. He took one look at the car and announced that by the time he was finished, there would be five dead cows and I’d have a bill for £3500! Ouch! This was due to the sheer volume of leather in the car, as being BMW’s flagship model in 1989 it is simply dripping in the stuff. Even the lower dashboard and transmission tunnel are wrapped in it.
After picking myself up off the floor, I decided that a good quality second-hand interior was the only way to go. As a result I have been scouring the breakers and eBay for months looking for one that suited. I eventually found one a few weeks back in Luton. It was the sports interior in black with grey plastic, and therefore I wouldn’t have to replace the dashboard. Furthermore, it was in decent condition and almost complete.
The only snags were one of the doorcards was torn, and one of the lower dashboard parts was missing. However, I figured that these could be rectified with some ingenuity, so I bought it. Having filled the boot of the 330i Touring with seats, I brought it home, unloaded, and started assessing the damaged doorcard. Since the damaged leather was removable from the doorcard, I started trying to find a replacement leather panel, and Gerry at Phoenix Motorsport (my resident E31 expert) came up trumps with a pair in decent nick for a fair price. Even better is that he is located only five minutes from where I work. Swapping them out was easy (just eight plastic ‘nuts’ on the back of the panel). For the missing lower dashboard trim, I decided to dye my existing part from grey to black, as it was in decent condition, and dying from light to dark is quite easy. Dave the Trimmer provided the service, and then it was ready to fit along with the rest of the interior.
Removal of the existing interior is something I have done to this car a couple of times now so I’m getting pretty quick at it. The front seats have six Torx bolts fixing them to the floor, and access is pretty easy, though they weigh more than the moon. The rear seats simply clip out, and the centre section has three small screws.
While the interior was out I took the opportunity to give the carpet a damn good clean again. All the doorcards have just three screws each followed by ten or so plastic poppers around the edges. As usual, all the poppers snapped as I pulled them out. However, I had already ordered a set of replacements in anticipation of this very occurrence.
The new interior is from a late model 840, and as such comes with the fold down rear seats that the 850 was not equipped with. However, some minor adjustments meant that it fitted just fine. Anyone folding down the rear seats might be a little bit confused as to why there is no access to the boot, but to hell with it, they look great.
To protect the carpets from future damage and dirt, I also bought a set of carpet mats. Being black, but with a grey trim, they help (I think) to blend the black seats with the grey dashboard, and just make the interior a bit smarter. I’m really pleased with the effect the whole new interior has had on the car. It was an area that really let the side down. Plus I now have the colour contrast that I wanted. I think I can say that the interior is officially finished and I can now move on to the next area of the restoration – the engine bay.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.