1987 BMW 525e Lux
Sadly written off in June 2005 in an accident
One saturday morning in february 2005 I decided to go scrap yard
hunting in search of those all too elusive chevette bits and pieces.
I wasn't after anything in particular, it just seemed a fun way to
pass a few hours. Big mistake! Having spent a good hour looking
around all the rusting shells for interesting bits, I was just about to
head off to another yard when I decided to take a look down the back
at the cars destined for the crusher soon. The first thing I layed eyes
on was the unmistakeable twin headlights and kidney grille of a shark
nosed 5 series BMW.
Naturally I made a beeline for the car, had a good poke around the
inside. But I stopped when I realised the condition - there was no
way this car was a scrappy car? Someone must have driven their car
in to collect parts. The engine still being warm confirmed my theory,
so I made a sharp exit before the owner returned! Asking in the office
about the BMW, they told me in fact that she was an MoT failure that
had arrived literally fifteen minutes before hand. The owner had been
told that the head gasket had blown and the brakes all need replaced,
so he drove her to the scrappy and left her there.
Now consumed with interest, I returned to the car to have a proper
look around her. No badging on the car at all, so I assumed it to be
a 520i or something like that. Started the engine and sure enough it
ran like a bag of hairy dogs, dropping a couple of cylinders whenever
it felt like it. It smoked a fair bit as well, all the signs pointing to a
head gasket. Giving the rest of the car a good once over, the body
looked ok under all the muck and dirt, but two of the tyres were
completely shot, and one was as flat as a pancake. That's when I
noticed the dreaded numbers - VR390. Metric tyres - no! Impossible
to find and seriously expensive.
By this stage though there could have been a dead horse in the boot,
and I still wouldn't have been deterred. The car had sold itself to me
by being handsome, powerful and elderly. I sat in it for 20 minutes
or so, dreaming of driving it, planning how to fix it, and thinking of
novel and interesting ways I could break the news to my flatmates that
I had bought yet another car. However, this was by far the nicest car
I had ever had the potential to own, so short of the bodyshell falling in
half it was coming home with me.
Spoke to the yard manager on the following monday morning at 9am,
I was in early to ensure they didn't start taking bits off her! He didn't
even know the car was in, and after a brief bit of umming and ahhing
he asked for 150 quid. My mind exploded internally, and I had to stop
a smile from appearing on my drooling lips. An exchange of notes and
a V5 later, the car was officially mine. At this stage I still thought
the head gasket was gone, and had been quoted 400 quid for the job.
Optimistic or naive? You decide. Anyhow, next on the list was getting
her home - been advised not to drive her, but there was no way the
chevette was towing a tonne and a half of teutonic metal! So home on
a low loader, driven the last 500 yards to the car park - oooh. Nice.
Helen's first observation of the car was 'Dave, why is there a BMW
parked in our space?' To which my candid reply was 'Err, because
I found it in a scrappy so I bought it.' I don't think she was
impressed. Grum practically fell over his tongue when he saw the
car, and pawed round it for ages. I took the car over to a specialist
in all things BMW, who conveniently operates about 400 yards from
my flat. He agreed to give her a once over, so up on the ramps he
poked, prodded and jiggled all the vital bits that go wrong on E28's.
The initial diagnosis was good, with only a couple of brake pipes
needed at the back. It was then left with him to find out what shape
the engine was in, and hope for an economical repair.
I returned a few hours later, and was greeted by a smiling Davy.
Promising, I thought. He walked over to the car and flicked the key
to reveal a sweetly idling straight six. I was a bit stunned, so he
explained what the problem was. It appears at some time in the past
the oil pressure switch broke, lighting up the waring light on the
dashboard, The previous owner kept adding oil in an attempt to put
the light out, but this only succeeded in filling the engine with oil.
This extra oil had filled all the breathers, intake manifold and air
filter box, plus coated the plugs - hence the poor starting, smoke and
chronic misfire. On top of that the fan coupling had failed, causing
overheating and all these symptoms together look entirely like a head
gasket failure. So all in all I managaed to pick up a perfectly sound
BMW 525e for the princely sum of 150 quid. Of course the final cost
will be much higher than this, but it's an interesting project.