Sunday Column: Peter Griffiths – Lola

Since having bought the Touring in 2009 for £550 from the drive of a customer at work the total bill might now be somewhere in the region of £3000-4000 which divides into a very small amount over 3 years of ownership, 30,000 miles, and a total of zero breakdowns. Obviously that total excludes fuel but that’s a given, everyone spends on fuel, the real question is how much you spend on buying, maintaining, and upgrading your machine.

My record so far is by no means the best, others have done more and fewer miles, spent more to buy but less on maintenance in favour of upgrading, and have sold at a profit. Having bought it at the same time as running a fairly clapped-out E30 318i four-banger it was possible to sell that to the guy who now looks after the Touring in order to offset the cost of purchase. He has since repaired the worst bits of the saloon and is looking to sell it on himself.

A four-banger earlier (this isn’t mine may I add!)

But the rules in the game of running old cars do, thankfully, allow for disregarding what you’ve spent on keeping it on the road. The figures still bear out the truth that running an old car is rarely more expensive than buying a brand-new, or even one-year-old, fly by wire newbie of numbness. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many fly by wire newbies which I love and will always love, but not within the budget of running a fantastic older or classic car.

Now, at the time of purchasing the Touring, there must have been roughly twice as many E30s on the roads as there are now and so the value of my car was only slightly greater than what I had paid given it had no MOT or tax. Then the Scrappage Scheme was introduced which was, as we can see now, to have a dramatic effect on the numbers of E30s batting about the UK, but this effect has only recently come to light and is evident in the numbers of examples available on the various paper and virtual classified outlets.

Since having got the Touring onto whichever of the four driveways that have been at my disposal to I have kept up regular informal research into the increasing value of the E30 in the UK. Things were pretty steady around 2009 to late 2010 where even a tidy 318is, the ‘baby M3’, could be picked up for £500, and 325i M-tech saloons and Tourings were everywhere for around a grand until this summer, where the prices have started to creep up dramatically for the M-techs to around £3k-£4k!

Good, solid Tourings are as rare as abstinent students right now but the prices are remaining steady between £1500-£2k for really fine examples with all the kit. This eye on the market has fairly tortured this soul for the last year or so and has brought all sorts of questions into the old brainspace. Early additions to the car included a replacement of the radiator (£30 from the Zone) my father replaced the water pump, cam-belt, and viscous fan (finding it a surprise joy to work on in the process after much uninformed dismissal of BMW’s quality), and since then a set of proper BBS 15s were sourced as a treat for when a deer hit it at 70mph in Wiltshire.

My hopes for this motor are high and it has every chance of being great if it’s done properly, yknow, in the right order and all that. The main problems are surface rust on arches and scuttle, a rotten exhaust with the best side-effect of all time, busted-ass ‘comfort’-style seats which, while still holding up the comfort part of the deal, are ripped in the accustomed style of these cars, and finally the brake lines which are mildly close to retirement.

One’s dream for the thing is equally split into either sending it to BMW Classic for a rubber-up restoration or fitting the V10 from the M5 and various other up-to-date suspension, braking, and safety components while retaining the ability to make people think you’re just driving a boring old green estate car around the place. Which, of course, is just not the case – even now.

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