Without doubt these cars do something to people in a way that modern cars simply don't do. People get attached to them, worry about them and seek out appropriate custodians when they realise they are no longer capable/able to give these cars what they need. Many find other enthusiasts and form networks with other like minded folk. Its only once you do this, you begin to realise how small the world really is.
I got a phone call from a youngish guy interested to buy the first car we'd built with the intention to turn a profit. Unfortunately for him we had already sold it but I mentioned we had another two cars in the pipe line. He was enthused and asked me for details and to let him know when they were ready. Several months later I dutifully did so but it transpired he'd already found a car, never mind I thought.
A few weeks later I got an email from this guy again. It turned out that after he'd bought his 520i auto the gearbox had failed and he suspected the head gasket was also on its way. The email contained a brief overview of him and some friends deciding the best course of action was to pull the original M20b20 engine and automatic gearbox and replace it with a M30b35. It quickly transpired he was out of his depth and decided to ship the car down to his local classic car specialist. What happened next is a fairly familiar tail.
The project was started Gun-ho and the rear axle was also stripped off. The reason for this was to fit an M30 rear axle complete with limited slip differential to deal with the extra power the M30b35 would produce. Whilst it was out it was deemed sensible to tackle some areas of the inner sills and axle mounts which had seen better days so some nice welding was performed to tidy up these areas, result ££££ spent! Next an engine, gearbox, prop shaft, wiring loom, ECU's, rear axle and limited slip differential where found and shipped down from Scotland to Surry, result ££££ spent! Once the welding had been completed the new rear axle was installed and the engine and gearbox where fitted in situ but sadly thats about as far as the story goes. The mounting bills for parts and labour had crippled the poor guy and all told he had way more in the car than it would ever be worth and it was still far from running. I doubt it helped that he'd bought an M30b35 engine for the conversion as it would have made the project much harder than fitting the M30b34 which 535's where fitted with from factory (The b35 was fitted to E34's and E32's as well as Highline spec E24's and has different coolant plumbing)
The email ended with him wondering if I'd be interested in doing a part exchange for his unfinished project on one of our completed cars. He'd spent a fortune on his but as he was starting a new business he just needed one that could be driven as his mum was fed up of him borrowing her car. The call was made, a deal was done and I set off to Surry with my girlfriends 525e which she'd decided to part with and we had reached a viable part exchange deal on. Clearly a smart guy he released he would never get back the full amount he ploughed into the car or even anywhere near it. At the time it may have made £800 or so on eBay but knowing the source of both the engine, gearbox and rear end to be reputable I gave him £1500 against my girlfriends 525e.
I arrived at a certain well known purveyor of to die for classic cars in Surry and was led to their grave yard of unfinished projects where FLO was sitting with her own internals strewn throughout the interior and boot.
Here are some picture from the day of collection.