I am often quoted as saying ‘I like it, but it’s no E30’. The reality is that if I had to chose between ‘EBO’ and one of my children it would be a very close run thing. So why this adoration and love? Like all possessions that you develop a totally irrational attachment to there isn’t a specific to put my finger on, rather a culmination of experiences which makes life without it totally unthinkable.
I loved cars from the moment I was able to fire a Matchbox across the kitchen lino and it was lonely interest in our household. My father required a carto ferry the family about, my mother drove because it gave her independence and my brother and sister simply viewed the family wagon as an enclosed space in which we tortured each other.
By the time I was 10 I knew what I liked: the flash German cars that filled our school car park every night after Prep. 911 3.2 Carreras, Mercedes 190’s, BMW E30’s and for the very wealthy mums who waited in fur coats for their offspring Merc 560 SEC’s. My folks had an ‘86 Nissan Prairie. 1600cc’s of Japanese-sliding-door-family-misery.
One of my best mates had a stockbroker for a Dad. He wore Pin-stripe suits with red braces, had a gold Rolex Submariner, smoked Malboro’s and drove a 325i Sport like his arse was on fire! I will always remember the car fish-tailing down the school driveway and then sliding off into the distance while waiting on the Prairie to sedately plod into the car park.
A few years later catching the number 12 bus from Reading station to Caversham, where we lived, on my way back from school I’d sit patiently outside Forbouys newsagent waiting to see a Larch Silver 325i Sport Convertible driving by. It had a set of Alpina alloys and some deep bass coming from the stereo. The driver was a young man who looked tough. I always figured he was a pimp, drug dealer or both. Whoever he was, I wanted his car.
At the same time MAX POWER magazine hit the newsstands. Graham Steed, Vicky Butler-Henderson and Jonny Smith became my motoring demi-gods and they built Project XS: a wide-bodied, purple monster of a 325. The best thing was that they gave it away at the end. I spent countless nights dreaming about where I would drive to when VBH dropped it off at the house!
Sadly they gave it to someone else, who, I seem to remember wrote it off. Dickhead. By the time I hit 18 my best mate was a cheeky, hard drinking, ex-estate agent turned hippy who was busy flogging tat from Bali out the back of a very shabby LDV van. He was the coolest bloke I had ever met and life around him was one huge party. The one part of his previous life that he had not given up was his ‘85 325i Coupe and it was the first E30 I drove.
Since then I have a number of E30’s. Before EBO the most memorable was a 325i Touring that I shared with my then business partner Stuart who still owns it. I had a fantastic holiday in it with my Australian cousins where we drove to Norway and then headed north towards the Arctic Circle camping along the side of the fjords as we went. Thumping up and down the mountain roads sliding it through the switchbacks goes down as one of the very best motoring experiences I have had.
By the time I bought ‘EBO’ I had had to come to terms with a few home truths. If I tried to smoke red’s I would die of an embolism, I look a tit in braces of any colour and because I am not the ‘doing time sort of bloke’ I will never be a pimp or a drug dealer. Still I could always own that perfect E30.
EBO was originally registered to a private owner in Guildford. It is an M-Tech II bodied coupe finished in Grey with Natural Leather, On Board Computer and a manual sunroof. It was – and is – about as perfect a spec car for me as the factory built. In 2008 it was living in Ireland and popped up for sale on Piston Heads for 4 grand. I rang up on a Friday afternoon and bid him 3 citing that it would be a pain to have to get myself out to Dublin to pick it up. His reply surprised me. ‘I’ll be at Birmingham Airport at 7.30 AM tomorrow, bring 4 grand in cash and she is all yours.’ Needless to say I was there and with nothing more than a cursory look around it I handed over the dosh and pointed her south and her new home in Oxfordshire.
Over the years since I have covered nearly 60,000 miles in EBO including an 8,000 mile round Europe trip that cousin Ben valiantly made with his pregnant wife, and, with the exception of a failed fuel pump relay 2 miles from home has never missed a beat.
I have made some small improvements whilst she has been in my care. 17 inch Alpina alloys help tame the back end, the original steering wheel has made way for one from an E34 M5, a Becker head unit has found it’s way into the dash and Xenon headlamps have stopped me hitting things at night, but otherwise EBO is very much as the the men from Munich made her.
Everytime I get out of her I give her a glance as I walk away. I smile, however my day has worked out and I look forward to the next time I see her. The mother of my children has said that I rarely look at her with the same affection: she’s wrong, I just find it easier to express my totally irrational love for my 325!