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  • Writer's pictureBarney

Readers Drives - David scratches his BMW itch

This story from David has just landed in my inbox. It was a truly lovely read and made me feel quite emotional and proud. David and I really have become great mates and we have had some fantastic automotive adventures, some amazing giggles and not to mention the odd reprimand from David's wife Nick (also quite the car nut), who I have always explained that David needs little in the way of leading astray.

I first met Barney way back in 1993 when Munich Legends were based out of Moon’s Yard in Rotherfield. I have always owned classics of one form or another; from a Fiat 850 Spyder to a Beetle in NY to a Triumph Vitesse ragtop amongst others, but had always hankered after an E9 3.0 CSi as owned by a girlfriend’s dad back in the ‘70s. The memory always stayed with me - of the car, not the girl. So, one Saturday in April I found myself with Barney and his dad Tony talking about buying a CSi.

They didn’t have one in stock but just happened to have a recently restored CSL. We went for a spin and when a customer (clearly a plant) in a petrol station said “nice car” there could only be one outcome; I persuaded myself that this is what I really wanted, the price differential in those days being relatively minimal. I remember collecting it from Barney’s granny’s house although I can’t remember why except that she may have been taking it for a shake-down! I drove it to work, to track days and all over the UK until in 2005, unable to afford some body and engine-work I gave it to Barney’s brother Jody.

I had taken a heart, not head, view : rather than sell for a value which could have lead to it falling down the food-chain I asked that large, multi talented actor, race driver and race car builder to one day restore it as the track weapon it was born to be. It is still, of course, in storage...! One day in June ‘99 I took the CSL down to Munich Legends to have a sticky passenger window fixed. On the forecourt was a first generation 1987 E30 M3, one of the last of the original homologation run.

I had no intention of buying another car but Barney said why don’t I take it for a drive (spot the emerging pattern) and then home for a week ‘’on approval’’. My unamused wife was persuaded of its merits when she took it for a solo spin, literally, round Lambeth roundabout in the wet.

The M3 was a daily driver into the City for nearly 20 years, a South of France family holiday drive , a Nurburgring / UK track car and a pan-UK tourer until a combination of Mayor Khan’s pollution tax together with an overdue engine rebuild and chassis work took it off-road for a year. Since the refreshments two years ago it has done 2500 faultless miles to Devon and Cornwall with the odometer now reading 260k kms ! All that needs doing every 3 months or so before a road trip is to connect the battery and check the tyre pressures. Surely the highest mileage and best driving E30 M3 in the world ! Another skiving day in the Summer of ‘06 again found me down at Munich Legends talking the usual rubbish with Barney and how I had always fancied an E30 325i ragtop.

Incredibly Barney called a day later to say he had taken a call from a young lady who had split up with her boyfriend; he had given her his car, she was going to Cape Town the next day and was driving down to ML to sell it. Barney asked her what it was “ a convertible 3 series” “yessss, what type...” “Not sure, it says Alpina and has wheels with lots of spokes”

Long story short, Barney bought a ‘89 C2 2.7 convertible in Royal Blue metallic with Lotus hide. And sold it on to me ! It needed some immediate titivating which it received as well as the usual maintenance and bits and pieces as required over the years. She was a beautiful car with fantastic performance, handling and a wonderful noise from the stainless exhaust system. She howled down the Autoroutes to the South of France for 10 years of family holidays. Needless to say when Barney started up Classic Heroes working out of a couple of glorified Nissen Huts in Five Ashes I followed him down there with a few other old-time customers and then onto Buxted, where the ‘’drive’’ resumes... In 2012 we bought an E91 335D MSport Touring when we decided to retire the last of the four Golf GTIs which I had owned continuously since ‘83. This one was a Mk2 16v bought new in August ‘90 from Scotts in Sloane Sq and you don’t get more cliched than that ! An iconic, brilliant car which went to a great home with Jack, Barney’s partner, to join his collection. We loved her very much, but when the opportunity arose in early ‘15 to buy a very rare E91 Alpina B3 Biturbo Touring from a client who had contacted Barney we had no choice but to sell the C2 and our E91 335D MSport Touring to fund the purchase.

The C2 went to her new home up North, having first been treated to a complete cosmetic and mechanical overhaul, where she now lives with a couple of classic Mercs in heated garage comfort . The B3 subsequently took on the Holiday duties as well as the usual City commutes and occasional West Country outing .

A couple of years ago we bought a (new) Mini Cooper ‘S’ as the family workhorse and decided last month to store the B3 at Classic Heroes after one local Yummy Mummy parking bash too many. She reversed her X5 into ours, smashing an alloy and scratching the bumper and wheelarch. And drove off, before coming back the next day to leave a note - probably when she realised that she may have been spotted. I asked her what the damage was like to her car “There isn’t any” Surely there was ?! “I live in Putney so all my wheels are badly scratched and I can’t tell” Quite. Anyway that’ s pretty much the end of the “Drive” apart from one actual driving anecdote, which I know is Barney’s favourite. There have been several trips to the ‘Ring and assorted UK tracks with Barney and like-minded friends but those tales are probably best kept under wraps ! So, for public consumption... I was crossing a junction in the CSL in beautiful downtown SW11 one morning when I failed to realise in time that the Police car in front of me had stopped, whilst turning right, to allow another car to pass. Naturally I went straight into the back of him. Out came the 2 traffic cops who were more amused by what happened than anything else, there not being any damage to the Jam Sandwich and just a small ding in the Coupe’s nose. And of course my dignity !

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