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.