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    ELLIOTT STILING
    1988 E32 750iL V12
    2017 F22 230i M SPORT COUPÉ
    1983 ALPINA B9 3.5 (E28)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The annual MoT test can be a nerve-wracking ordeal for any classic car owner, but I had faith that Maggie’s test wouldn’t produce a fail sheet as long as my arm. Despite the MoT test success, Maggie rather blotted her copybook on a recent BMW Car magazine photo shoot, with an as yet unidentified power steering and brake pressure failure.
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    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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    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

    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.
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    LONGTERMERS #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

    YEAR: #1988
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 23
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 118,235
    MPG THIS MONTH: Not sure
    COST THIS MONTH: no new ones this month
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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

    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.
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    LONGTERMERS E32 750iL

    Despite a work schedule that feels like I’ve taken more flights this month than I have spent nights at home, I have managed to ensure the big Seven has had a little attention. Regular readers know I actually enjoy spending some time cleaning and polishing my cars and the #BMW-7-Series-E32 was ripe for a little attention in a couple of areas. Don’t get me wrong, the car wasn’t presented particularly badly, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t room for improvement, particularly the cleanliness of the leather and the finish on the bright work.

    Over the years I have collected a few cleaning and detailing products and three of my favourites are the Gliptone Leather Conditioner, the Vanish Powerfoam and the 3M Metal Polish as they never fail to impress.

    Whilst the leather in the car looked to be in very good shape I could see faint darker patches both on the doorcards and in the stitching creases of the seats – clear signs of some dirt residue. Whilst the leather conditioner is a great product, for the best finish it does need some assistance, so I used some baby wipes to clean the leather first (it’s surprisingly effective if you’ve never tried it) and then used an Autoglym Magic Sponge to work the conditioner into the leather.

    You need to be careful when using the sponge as despite being silky soft to the touch, they are incredibly abrasive and can soon strip the leather of its top surface if you are too aggressive or careless. With the correct application, though, they are very effective, as can be seen from the pictures.

    Unfortunately for me the amount of leather in an iL version of the 7 Series is staggering so the whole process took about four hours. It’s very easy, for instance, to forget that there is leather tucked down the side and backs of the rear seats which can only be accessed once they are fully reclined. In the end every single square inch of leather received this process and my gosh, it looks and smells better for it, particularly as the Gliptone conditioner imbeds the smell of new leather into your seats. Not only are the seats now better presented but the remoisturising process will undoubtedly ensure the life of the seats has been extended.

    Whilst I was working on the interior I decided to tackle the thin chrome strips that run along the tops of the doorcards next to the side glass. Thankfully the chrome wasn’t pitted or corroded but it had lost much of its lustre so a little attention was likely to reap instant results. After masking it up to avoid horrible white marks on the black plastic it was out with the 3M polish. Half an hour later the trims looked fantastic with a deep lustre evident.

    The last interior job, for this session at least, was to clean the carpets and over mats as the driver’s footwell area really wasn’t up to the mark. I’ve tried lots of different carpet cleaning products over the years but have a soft spot for Powerfoam by Vanish. Whilst it’s marketed for domestic use rather than automotive applications, dirt is dirt. The spray mechanism can be a little frisky so you often need to wipe away errant spots of cleaner that escape on to doorcards and the like when working in tight spots but that’s not really an issue and as I say it works a treat and leaves the carpets looking and smelling fresh.

    The cabin isn’t finished yet as there are still small areas to get around to but it now looks, smells and feels like the executive express it was designed and built to be.

    Staying on the TLC theme I also managed to get the car into the garage for a little investigative work into some of the areas I highlighted last month. Due to my work schedule I could only get the car into the garage for a single day (it’s too big a car to expect someone to store it indoors for a week until I could get around to picking it up otherwise). A day was enough time, though, for the garage to look into the suspension rattle, the brake pressure issue and the unlocking problem on the driver’s door. The other areas will need to wait for another session.

    The suspension rattle has been traced to defective front dampers. Apparently the fluid they should be filled with is notable by its absence. Looking back through the car’s history, there is a comment on a previous MoT certificate relating to oil misting around the front dampers. Clearly things have deteriorated since then to the point there is little to no oil left. I knew when I bought the car that BMW’s Electronic Damper (EDC) system is both unreliable and expensive to fix and ringing around several suspension rebuild experts has only confirmed that view. None of the specialists I spoke to will rebuild these dampers anymore, with one of them even referring to the system as ‘complete junk’ – hardly a glowing testimonial. The service history shows that the dampers have been replaced twice in the car’s past but here we are again.

    Given the unreliability of the system I’ve all but decided not to bother repairing them and am looking for a replacement alternative instead. A bit of internet surfing has suggested that it’s possible to fit non-EDC damper inserts into the original struts. So, at the moment that’s the plan, using Bilstein dampers and the original struts, assuming my local garage is happy it can carry out the work.

    If not, then I will be on the look-out for some comfort-orientated coilovers, if such a thing exists? I am anticipating a total cost of £600 to £850 depending on the route taken which I’m happy with for the benefit of refreshed suspension.

    The garage has reported that the likely suspect causing the brake pressure issue is the hydraulic brake booster. Looking in the engine bay the part looks very different to what you or I might expect. Instead of a large, black circular canister on the bulkhead it’s a gun barrel-shaped part, much smaller than you might imagine. It would appear that it’s a part that’s not shared with other E32 Sevens but is shared with the 850i/Ci, with which the 750iL shares its drivetrain.

    BMW has confirmed that it can supply a new part for about £950 (I bet it can!) but that’s not really a route I want to go down given the garage can’t be 100 percent sure it’s definitely the cause of the fault.

    Having done a little research it appears that it’s entirely possible to buy a fully refurbished booster although they all appear to be located in the US. I suspect that’s a function of their warmer climate and lower fuel prices meaning that the #V12 model variant is more plentiful over there? For £250 including import duty (grumble) it’s a more cost effective option than plumping for a new part from #BMW so I’ll be placing an order very soon and we can see if it works. I wonder what price the booster would have been pre-Brexit vote before the sterling’s slide into oblivion?

    The final area the garage had time to investigate was the driver’s door not unlocking on the key. Thankfully it’s nothing more sinister than the door pin not quite rising high enough to unlock the door. It’s only a few millimetres short but a door is simply either locked or unlocked so it needs tackling. They had hoped a little wiggling and waggling (technical engineering terms I’m told) would exercise the system enough to get it working properly but it hasn’t worked. If it still hasn’t worked by the time the car goes back for the suspension and brake work then it will be a case of removing the doorcard and having a look inside.

    In the meanwhile I’ve started buying some service items in such as air filters, spark plugs, engine oil etc as I want to keep the service history in order. If I can find a little more spare time I might start to fit some of the parts myself as it’s a job I get satisfaction from.

    So that’s it for this month I think. As I sit here writing this I’m in yet another airport lounge waiting to fly home and I’m itching to get behind the wheel again, let’s hope it’s not raining when I get back and I can go for a drive – with clean shoes of course.

    / #BMW-E32 / #BMW-750iL / #BMW-750iL-E32 / #BMW-7-series-E32 / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW / #M70 / #BMW-M70

    YEAR: #1988
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 42
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 118,212
    MPG THIS MONTH: I shudder to think!
    COST THIS MONTH: £150 (service parts)… but plenty more to come soon
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    V12 sump gaskets / #BMW-E32 / #BMW-M70 / #M70 / #M70B50 / #BMW-750iL-E32 / #BMW-750i-E32 /

    When it first saw the light of day in late #1987 , the #V12 M70-engined #BMW-750iL was considered a marvellous thing, even if the later 4.0- and 4.4-litre V8s did make it slightly redundant. The M70 did many things well, including using copious amounts of unleaded fuel and leaking oil! The sump gasket was a major pain for this and, like the M40 engine from the four-cylinder E30 with which it shared parts and design features, the sump was in two sections. The main leak was the gasket in between the upper section and the block. Up on a ramp this wouldn’t be a massive problem as on most cars you can lift the engine up off the mountings five or six inches, enough to waggle the sump out, but on the M70 there are four 10mm sump bolts cunningly hidden behind the flywheel.

    In official #BMW manuals, the answer is to simply whip off the very heavy automatic gearbox and the torque converter/flywheel… yeah, right. That job is another few hours of swearing and if you’re doing the job on the ground with axle stands, it just won’t happen. Phil Crouch of CPC told me about the cunning dodge to get the sump off many years ago and a bit of internet research confirmed that the dodge is to drill two well-placed holes in the back of the alloy sump, not all the way though into the engine itself, but into the rear strengthening rib. This allows access with a 10 mm socket and a wobbly drive to the outer two 10mm bolts, whilst the inner two can be got at via the centre hole that’s already there. Car designers tend to come up with these faux pas – all of them should spend a year in a workshop before they’re allowed anywhere near a drawing board.
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    STEVEN’S / #BMW-E31 / #BMW-850Ci / #BMW-850Ci-E31 / #BMW-850i-E31 / #BMW-850i / #BMW

    I have lusted after BMW 850s since they were released in #1989 – when I was a very impressionable nine-year-old with supercar dreams. With a new price tag in excess of £60,000 it was a car I never thought I would ever own and is, in my mind, one of the greatest BMWs ever produced. After selling my E46 M3 I’ve been in the market for a new car and when this white #1993 850Ci came across my radar I simply couldn’t resist.

    It’s an early model Ci with the #M70B50 engine, auto ‘box (unfortunately) and is in desperate need of huge amounts of TLC. She is named Hiro in honour of my daughter’s obsession with a character in Thomas the Tank Engine (everyone names their cars, right?).

    I found Hiro for sale locally, where she had sat for a year with (from what I can tell) no movement at all. The batteries were toast, the tyres were flat, and it was far and away the dirtiest car I had ever seen. Nevertheless, it was love at first sight, and after slashing the asking price and ignoring the absence of any vehicle history, I drove away with absolutely no clue as to whether I’d make it home.


    On the plus side she had genuine E31-specific 17” Alpinas and an aftermarket exhaust which gave the V12 a gloriously exotic soundtrack. Who needs a stereo?

    On initial inspection, I soon knew I had my work cut-out: the suspension needs a total overhaul; it has a seized brake caliper; there are several rust patches; the sunroof is unplugged as it jams; the interior is in a poor state; and it seems to run intermittently on six cylinders!

    The first plan of attack was a complete service, so I ordered eight litres of Castrol’s finest (semi-synthetic 15W40 – amazingly cheap compared to servicing my E46 M3 with 10W60) along with Mehle oil, air and fuel filters and 12 #NGK spark plugs. Unfortunately, the kit I ordered only supplied one air filter (each bank of the ‘V’ has its own) and the oil filter didn’t fit! However, a quick trip to my local Motor Parts Direct sorted me out and the (worryingly) black stuff was replaced with some decidedly less dirty dinosaur juice. Whilst replacing the sparks, I noticed a damaged HT lead on cylinder six, which was probably the cause of my occasionally sixcylinder #M70 / #BMW-M70 . I ordered a replacement from a breaker and after fitting I am once again the proud owner of a #V12 … for now.
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    STEVEN’S #BMW-E31 / #BMW-850Ci / #BMW-850Ci-E31 / #BMW-850i-E31 / #BMW-850i / #BMW / #M70 / #BMW-M70 /

    Just when it was all going so well, I hit a problem. While doing a short journey, I noticed my engine temperature gauge was drifting above 12 o’clock. Never a good sign! In fact, I had to abandon my car five miles from home as it became clear that I just wasn’t going to make it. After a long walk home and a bit of subsequent internet research, I was fairly sure the source of the problem was a dead thermostat as this is the most likely cause (and cheapest repair).

    I ordered a replacement thermostat from online company KMS. It stocks a large number of E31 parts and usually has a large variety of quality of parts too. I selected a direct OEM replacement thermostat as engine temperature control is definitely not something you want to skimp on. Moreover, since M70 engines are an alloy block, overheating can have catastrophic effects. They’re not called chocolate blocks for nothing.

    Since half the coolant would fall out when I changed the thermostat, I decided a full coolant flush was in order as this was a fluid I hadn’t yet replaced and I have no idea when it was done last. So I ordered 15 litres (yes, that’s right, 15 litres!) of G48 coolant, which was ready-mixed to simplify things.


    Normally, draining coolant is a relatively simple process. You merely undo the drain plug in the bottom of the engine and catch as much coolant as you can in a basin. However, some German genius positioned the two drain plugs (one for each bank) beneath the exhaust manifolds. They were impossible to access from beneath, and the only way ‘topside’ was to remove the exhaust manifolds! Not a quick job! Fortunately, a quick forum search revealed the real world technique is to remove the hose from the bottom of the expansion tank and jack up the rear of the car, allowing the fluid to drain out the bottom of the tank. Much easier!


    Removing the old thermostat was relatively problem-free. After removing the housing, one quick tap from a mallet and the thermostat simply popped out. I did, however, have to remove the viscous fan for access (reverse threaded for any DIYers out there) and once the new parts were on, I filled up the car with fresh coolant and bled the system. Then I ran it on my driveway for ten minutes or so and hallelujah! The temperature rose to 12 o’clock and stayed there. Problem solved.

    I’m sorry if the work hasn’t been very exciting this month, but old cars do require a fair amount of maintenance just to stay mobile. Let’s hope that there are no long-term consequences of the overheating and I can move on to more exciting areas next month.
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    Matt Zollo
    The #BMW 750 #Alpina B12 V12 - #1989 - 4988cc V12 - F111LNN / #Alpina-B12-V12 / #BMW-750iL / #BMW-750iL-E32 / #BMW-E32 / #BMW-E32-Alpina / #Alpina-B12 / #Alpina-B12-E32

    This is Ethical Pharmaceuticals Boss' BMW 750i Alpina B12, which I drove him around in during 1993 to 1997. This was his favourite car and is the car I drove him around in more than any other of his vehicles. It has a tuned 5 litre V12 ##M70engine, lowered suspension and other upgrades, it was very fast with had a top speed of 178mph (it was not limited) and a 0-60 time of around 6.0 secs.

    It is parked on my driveway in Huntingdon during 1994 . F111 LNN UK-registred ‏ — at Huntingdon, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, UK
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