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Readers Drives - Tim Burnham's M3

This story from Tim Burnham brought some memories flooding back. I remember some great chats in the showroom and discussing the subtle changes to his E30 M3. If only the value of the E30 M3 had peaked a little earlier. You would have been able to justify the restoration costs. Never say never Tim. You may well get to own another!

I thought I’d share my M3 story with you. In 1985 ( I think ), I started an advertising agency with a great pal . By 1989 we were rocking. We had the Woolworths below the line account. I had a budget of £19k to buy a company car . There was only one car on my list . I was hypnotised by the style, beauty and grace of the BTTC M3 (mainly Frank Sytner , I think) . It might have been trailing behind the Sierras but it was so much more sexy. You know what I mean.

There were hardly any around. I found one at a BMW dealer and bought it with 19,000 miles on the clock which seemed ok for a 2 year old car!!! What a fabulous motor car . I already had a 1974 911 2.7 Carrera MFI so I had a point of reference for a good car.

It was difficult to select 1st gear , the top end rattled, the cooling system was awful . Anyway, I’d bought an extended warranty for about 400 quid. BMW, bless them, rebuilt the top end, the gearbox, gave me a new clutch , almost sorted the cooling. That’s when I met Barney. What a great car enthusiast. He sorted out the cooling , which BMW couldn’t! He also sold me a set of 16” Evo wheels for about £250, a complete black leather interior for £400, fitted. He also put a lower diff in it and a chip. It was fabulous. He sorted the rubber inlet manifold gasket things that made the engine gasp.

I went to the south of France in it. I would leave the family in the borrowed villa in St Tropez and drive along the road where Frank Williams crashed, very fast. Well, quite fast. In the meantime at about 80k the timing chain went wobbly. Barney and I came to the conclusion that the car had bin clocked by 10-20 k. By about 2007, it had done 160k + 10-20k. It ran like my Rolex, Beautifully. The roof had rust bubbles on it. It had always smelled damp. There was almost nothing left of the floor pan , inner wings , sills, front bulkhead etc. The interior was still fab and engine , suspension , gearbox superb . By this time the ABS had failed , which meant you could use the brakes properly and slightly lock the unloaded inside wheel on corner entry. Sublime. Turn off your abs (obviously a bad idea, health and safety, so don’t do it). There wasn’t enough left and it was scrapped. RIP BMW 73V.

In the meantime, I had persuaded my business partner to buy a similar car to my other car and he bought a sea blue 1973 911 2.7 RS. He bought it from racer Bob Watson (I think). When I drove it I couldn’t believe how it revved . I popped the boot and behold 12 plug heads . It basically fell to bits and he had it rebuilt and sold it to Barney’s mate, Jay Kay via Autofarm who used to race at Daytona Karting when I was race director, what a coincidence? I like to think that Jay Kay saw my M3 in the Daytona car park and inspired him to buy his lovely M3.

I’ve still got my 2.7 Carrera MFI. I miss my M3. Jay Kay, can I have a go in the M3? I’ve got all your records! Please!

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