All change in the garage
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.