All change in the garage

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Our Cars - An­drew Everett Spe­cial Con­trib­u­tor

Since my last re­port, my BMW E36 318i Tour­ing has gone to a new owner af­ter four years and 35,000 miles. Last win­ter re­ally made a mess of it, with rust sprout­ing ev­ery­where, knack­ered rear trail­ing arm bushes and a front brake disc back­plate fall­ing off due to ter­mi­nal cor­ro­sion. Time to ei­ther weigh it in or tidy it up.

In the mean­time, I’d bought a 1998 323i Tour­ing au­to­matic for £250 with a vir­tu­ally ex­pired MOT and a very noisy PAS pump. On the plus side, it had a full black leather in­te­rior, a sweet en­gine and four very re­cent Goodyear tyres, and the plan was to fit its in­te­rior into the green Tour­ing. But the drive back home up the M1 proved that the 323i was a lot nicer than a 318i – it just goes bet­ter, the fivespeed au­to­box makes driv­ing eas­ier and it’s not hor­ren­dously worse on fuel.

So the 323i was re­paired. No­body had a six-cylin­der PAS pump, so I swapped the M52 brack­ets onto a four-cylin­der M43 pump and fit­ted that, swap­ping the tired steer­ing rack for a good used one at the same time. A bit of fet­tling un­der­neath and it was granted a new MOT with an ad­vi­sory on a rusty brake pipe go­ing to the off­side front flexi-hose. Rather than re­place the en­tire pipe – a night­mare on a six-cylin­der en­gine as you can’t even see it – I bor­rowed a Draper hand-held brake pipe flar­ing tool and re­placed the rusty sec­tion un­der the front arch. I was so im­pressed with the tool that I bought my­self one for £50 and have yet to use it in anger.

With the 323i on the road, I car­ried on tidy­ing the 318i Tour­ing. It was given a com­plete front sus­pen­sion over­haul with re­con wish­bones, a nice clean set of stan­dard springs to re­place the Eibachs that I find a bit low for Sheffield’s moon-crater road sur­face, and new rear trail­ing arm bushes. I dis­cov­ered some cor­ro­sion that cost me more than £200 to have welded up and the body­work was spruced up with the care­ful use of BMW aerosol cans. Once fin­ished and cleaned up, it looked even bet­ter than when I bought it in July 2014.

The de­ci­sion was taken to sell it and it didn’t take long, driven away for £500 and a su­perbly ratty 518i Tour­ing in part-ex. The 518i was run­ning, but

had the hall­marks of im­pend­ing head gas­ket fail­ure, so it was shorn of saleable bits – the diff, speedo clus­ter, ECU kit, head­lights, a very nice pair of fog­lights, tail-lights and the Alpina copy wheels it came on – which all sold in a fort­night.

While in the sell­ing mood, I took the op­por­tu­nity to have a mas­sive clearout of the work­shop: two au­to­matic gear­boxes, three or four bat­ter­ies, about 20 brake calipers, old discs, ra­di­a­tors, pan­els, bits of ex­hausts, springs and other sundry crap. When winched onto a Sprinter re­cov­ery truck, you could see it was go­ing to weigh in well and it made about £160 on the scales.

Now I’m down to three cars and what­ever CM gives me as a project car. The blue 730i sailed through its MOT, but re­mains pretty much un­used and is parked in my work­shop. The 323i Tour­ing is now my daily driver and the green 318Ti track car gets used so lit­tle that it may also face the chop. There’s space in the work­shop to park a later model car as a dam­aged re­pairable, if only the prices of dam­aged cars weren’t so crazy at the mo­ment.

The 518i chop­per was stripped of saleable bits and weighed in for scrap.

This is what a £250 E36 323i Tour­ing looks like: scabby in places, but still use­ful.

The E36 Tour­ing resto in­volved care­ful use of filler on the met­al­work and some skilled aerosol ac­tion.

Rolling on some ratty old E46 wheels, the 1995 518i Tour­ing weighed in nicely!

The 730i passed a re­cent MOT at 314,000 miles.

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