BMW E30 / M3

2 years ago

Group Wall

Glen Waddington 1 year ago #

Running reports 1989 BMW 320i Convertible E30

Reading this sorry paragraph will take longer than the moments last October it describes. I'm bimbling along the A45 Northampton ring road, 60mph or so with the roof down, a beautiful afternoon. There’s a steadily tightening blind left curve and suddenly, up ahead, a decade-old grey Astra being driven erratically and slowly, weaving left and right. Very little time to react. There’s no hard shoulder, in fact nowhere to pull left at all, just an Armco barrier and a wooded embankment. I indicate to pull out, check over my right shoulder — and from nowhere some fat-arsed SUV thunders past. No options left. I brake as hard as I can and go into the back of the Astra. Which had stopped dead.

Running reports 1989 BMW 320i Convertible E30

Due care and attention

Somewhat bewildered, I gather my wits and then pull the car as far into the left as I can. The Astra drives away, in haste. Goodness knows what its driver was up to. I call the police. They assess my car, it’s driveable, I’m issued with a case number and sent on my way.

I’m writing this on a Tuesday evening shortly after a phone call that confirmed the BMW will be going in for repair on Monday. You can probably imagine the sense of relief! But what of the intervening period?

To be honest, I got home, parked the BMW in my garage and tried not to think about it. The damage wasn’t terrible — basically, the front bumper did its job — but my pride and joy wasn’t going to be all-original once it had been repaired. And where would I get it repaired? What about the parts situation?

An initial call to Peter James Insurance, with which I have a classic policy on both the BMW and my Boxster, was pretty encouraging. It was up to me to decide where to get the work done and provide a quote. Incredibly, I’ve never had need of a major bodywork repair before.

I’d met the guys at Grandstand Coachworks when I wrote the Ascari Ecosse feature and was impressed by their work and the variety of projects they’d undertaken, but I was wary of driving the BMW 120 miles to Chippenham and then leaving it there while I waited for work to be approved. So I called my local garagist Stuart Templeton, who recommended Proline, a classic car bodywork specialist local to me in Northamptonshire ( They prepared a quote and Peter James sent an assessor. Thankfully he was in agreement: the work needed to be done and everything would go ahead. I just needed to find the parts...

A few years ago I’d sourced a replacement tail-lamp lens from BMW Group Classic, but there’s been a change of staff and parts can no longer be ordered online. ‘Simply contact the BMW dealer nearest you,’ the website now says. Could it be so straightforward? I got in touch with Wollaston BMW in Northampton. And it seems we’re in luck.

Parts advisor Peter Jeffers went through the requirements with Proline boss Gareth Jones and today’s phone call confirmed that the bumper, trims, a headlamp, indicator lens and the world’s sole remaining new E30 foglamp (sorry) have arrived from Germany. A couple of other bits and bobs will have to be recycled, but the car will be repaired with genuine BMW parts. And it can’t come a moment too soon.

Right, from top Photos as submitted to the insurer: the need for good light was more important than the backdrop; the assessor does his assessing.

Glen Waddington 2 years ago #
Bright lights, big city


It’s not often you get something for nothing, but the stars aligned for once during the ‘I don’t know what day it is/I’ve eaten too much cheese’ period between Christmas and New Year.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan had suspended the Congestion Charge, the weather was Unseasonably mild, and my 13-year-old daughter was – in her own words – ‘just so boooored’. Oh, and the Beemer needed a run. What better than a top-down sight-seeing trip?

Pre-pandemic, I used to commute to Octane’s London office a few times a month. I never drove: the traffic was such a pain and if I timed the train right I could do it in 90minutes door-to-door. Bear in mind that I live in the wilds of Northamptonshire; that was quicker than some actual London ers manage. But which way to drive in?

We decided to head via Cambridge and down the M11 to tackle things from the east, dropping the hood in a layby off the A13 just before our surroundings got extremely vertical by Canary Wharf. The offspring hadn’t seen this bit before and loved the combination of urban grit, skyscrapers and tunnels (‘just like New York’, she surmised), not to mention the attention the Beemer attracted.

Into the touristy bit by the Tower of London, over Tower Bridge and we pulled into Shad flames for the chance to grab a few Docklands photos (it’s so quiet around there, in contrast to the heaving crowds a few hundred yards away). Total time: 1hr 40min, including the search for E5 super unleaded petrol, seemingly in short supply round my way.

And at £1.68 per litre, I was extra-pleased by Khan’s largesse. Were we asking for trouble if we were to go west? Only one way to find out. So we headed via the arches along Druid Street, back over Tower Bridge, through the City and along the Embankment. Central London on foot is great fun; I’ll even stomach one of those open-top bus things, but nothing beats sightseeing with the hood down in your own car on your own (heated) seats. And judging by the smile on my daughter’s face, she was no longer boooored.

We wound our way past Big Ben and round to Buckingham Palace, plus a few laps of Horseguards, Birdcage Walk and the Mall just for fun, before hanging a left into St James’s and via Albemarle Street and New Bond Street for a touch of glamour and bling among the Christmas lights (she may have been boooored but she’s still a 13-year-old girl), then onto Regent Street – and the first hint Of major traffic. But it’s really just a sequence of junctions and traffic lights, and quite a pleasure to witness from the car rather than huddled amid the throngs on the pavements. Especially given current circumstances.

It was getting dark and the daughter needed feeding, so it was time to leave. No crowded Tube, no waiting for a train, just a case of traipsing past Broadcasting House, onto Portland Place, and sneaking around the edge of Regent’s Park (all that stucco! All those billionaires! All apparently absent!) before making it to the A41 and the familiar route out via Hendon Way towards the A1.

Of course, saving a few quid on the Congestion Charge was a great excuse, but there was still the ULEZ levy to pay. Not to mention gawd knows how many traffic violations I’ll get billed for. But all entirely worth it. When it’s not busy, London is an amazing place to drive around.


This page and opposite Docklands is quiet, mere yards from the Thames; dad isn’t ready to hand the keys over just yet…


1 reply
Votren De Este 1 year ago #

Paweł Swiercz’s E30 Baur (@e30royalbaur)

You can’t go wrong with an E30, and Paweł’s charismatic Baur is simply stunning. The whole car has been restored and resprayed in its original shade of Royal blue, and it’s a gorgeous colour. The interior was refreshed, and the original 1.8 M20 has made way for a 2.5 that adds some welcome performance and that iconic straight-six soundtrack. The chassis has also been refurbished, and this E30 now sits on air-ride over custom 16” three-piece Style 13 ‘Bottle Cap’ splits that look simply fantastic. Paweł has added a Vestatec front splitter and rear spoiler, and then you’ve got the yellow Hella headlights and Startec rear clusters, and it all combines to create a simply gorgeous Baur build.

Paweł Swiercz’s BMW E30 Baur

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