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    Phil Bell
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    Best buys 2019 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW /

    Thoroughly enjoyed Mr Quentin Willson’s recent piece on Smart Buys, all lovely cars and sage words indeed. Many years ago, I decided to hunt down a nice BMW-E30 when they were plentiful and relatively cheap – a £1000 or so would get you on the ladder and £3-4k would buy a really nice one. After looking at several saloons that didn’t quite tick the box I chanced upon a nice manual #BMW-325i-Touring-E30 in Malachite Green and snapped it up. I still have it today and although I bought the E30 so I could enjoy driving it and without consideration to future values, it’s reassuring to know it has earned its keep over the years.
    • Smart BMW, smarter Alfa? I can’t help sharing Quentin Willson’s advice (Smart Buys) on the E30 Touring – stylish, relatively practical and just magi Smart BMW, smarter Alfa?

      I can’t help sharing Quentin Willson’s advice (Smart Buys) on the E30 Touring – stylish, relatively practical and just magical with that straight-six. I had been considering buying one but a Dutch ad for a 72,000km, one-family-owned Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon 2.5 V6 24v in light metallic green with natural leather made me change my mind – even though I had sworn I wouldn’t buy another Italian car after selling my beloved but troublesome Lancia HP Executive.

      They are not as in-demand as the E30 Touring, but in my opinion just as stylish and enjoyable. Moreover, they are much cheaper – at least to buy – if you can find one of course. The only fault identified so far is that they turn like trucks, and I am of course (mentally and financially) preparing for the €2000+ timing belt and water pump replacement. With that, a full service, tyres and compete detailing, the Alfa will cost me €10,000 – about half the price of a 325i in the same condition! That’s just unbeatable as far as I’m concerned.
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    Phil Bell
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    Phil Bell
    Phil Bell joined the group BMW E30 Club
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    Phil Bell joined the group Ford Capri
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    Phil’s expensive hosiery 1962 Jaguar E-type FHC

    CAR: #1962-Jaguar-E-Type-FHC / #1962 / #Jaguar-E-Type-FHC / #Jaguar-E-Type / #Jaguar /

    Owned by Phil Bell, editor, (phil bell)
    Time owned 8 years
    Miles this month 250
    Costs this month £164
    Previously Finally cured jumpy speedometer with a new-old-stock cable

    A cross-country run to Nottinghamshire banished Phil’s garage blues. Coolant hoses looked scary. Cloth-wrapped silicone hose joy.

    The E-type is up and running after a litany of minor problems saw it beached in my garage for rather too much of the summer. Time to, er, take some more bits off it then. Yes, I know, but the increasingly alarming cracks developing in the car’s many coolant hoses were blighting every journey with the spectre of sudden and catastrophic failure. Better to deal with them in the comfort of my garage than face replacement at an inevitably dark and wet roadside. At a busy junction. At rush hour. Well, probably.

    I’m glad I did, because there are eleven of them, including all of the minor ones for the heater, and some of those are expletive-awkward to get at. The old ones have served for eight years and none had cracked all of the way through, but despite being labelled as Kevlar Reinforced, they hadn’t survived well. I liked the idea of more durable silicone hoses but not their shiny appearance. The answer came while browsing the SNG Barratt website – a kit of cloth-wrapped silicone hoses. Modern performance; period looks. Perfect.

    Emptying the system was far less messy than any other car I’ve worked on thanks to the tap on the cylinder block and drain plug on the bottom of the radiator. It was due its biennial coolant change to keep the corrosion inhibitors fresh anyway.

    Apart from the worrying moment of discovering a spare hose at the end of the job – perhaps an alternative top hose to fit later E-types – it was a satisfying job with just a few of the hoses needing to be shortened.

    So a spin up to Nottinghamshire for Sunday lunch with my folks became its longest run since Le Mans. Powering along sweeping A-roads to the blat and drone of the XK motor helped me forget about the lost summer but, inevitably, it had me drawing up a job list for winter. I still need to fit the new rev counter generator, rewire the ignition barrel, fit the solid steering rack mounts that have clogged up the bottom drawer of my tool chest for too long…
    But for now there’s lost time to be made up and I just want to drive the thing.
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    Phil gets lost in Sixties Britain

    CAR: #1962-Jaguar-E-Type-FHC / #1962 / #Jaguar-E-Type-FHC / #Jaguar-E-Type / #Jaguar /
    Owned by Phil Bell, editor (phil.bell@drive-my.com) Drive-My
    Time owned 8 years
    Miles this month 127
    Costs this month £63
    Previously Decided to take the E-type off the road to start my winter jobs list

    Went out to warm up the oil; got carried away.

    This keeps happening. I take the E-type out for a specific purpose, in this case to warm the engine before an oil change, then become so lost in the experience that I forget why I set out in the first place, returning an hour or so later than planned. I enjoy working on this car, but I love driving it, and I’m lucky enough to have a playground of lightly trafficked B-roads and swooping A-roads within minutes of my driveway. It’s like heading back to the time that the E-type was born into, before featureless dual carriageways became our dominant conduit of travel. And despite the season, bright sunshine was lighting up the landscape, just like it always did in the Sixties of course.

    But eventually the extended loop returned to my garage, where a small stack of Duckhams 20w/50 cans lying in ambush jolted me back to reality.

    With a winter jobs list inevitably provoking a period of idleness for the E-type, if not my spanners, I prefer to change the oil and filter beforehand so that the engine internals don’t sit around in a cocktail of fuel residue and acidic combustion products.

    I’d been wondering what to do after the local stockist stopped supplying my usual Millers classic oil when Duckhams relaunched its 20w/50 at the Classic Motor Show back in November, so I took the opportunity to stock up. I did ask whether I could supplement it with a 15-odd-year-old can of Duckhams Q rediscovered under my workbench, but the technical people warned that the blend might have settled in that time. Not worth risking a £6k engine rebuild on a £30 can of oil then. Maybe I could sell it in an automobilia auction.

    Like many jobs on this car, replacing the oil filter involves removing other parts for access. It is possible to do it without detaching the aluminium undertray and huge air cleaner canister, but that makes it so much harder to ensure the oil filter canister is properly aligned on its seal afterwards. Getting that wrong leads to a massive oil slick on the garage floor at best – stained concrete remains as a painful reminder – or catastrophic oil loss out on the road. So, like all the fiddly routines on this car, I’ve learned to allow extra time and pretend that I enjoy the opportunity to inspect all of the extra parts that must come off and the hidden areas that they expose. And I’ve convinced myself that the improved dexterity I’ve developed in fitting the rubber boot between the air filter canister and plenum chamber qualifies me to run a sideline in freelance keyhole surgery. Despite the aluminium sump and brass plug being in good order they’ve never made a good seal with a new copper washer, so this time I’m trying a steel one with a rubber seal bonded to it.

    After the agonisingly slow process of tipping 8.5 litres of cold oil into the nearside cam cover – these charmingly period-style metal cans don’t have the handy extendable spouts of the modern age – I summoned my wife to crank the engine over while I checked for leaks. All good, but to be sure the car clearly needed a proper road test and B-road Britain was beckoning once more.
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