Paul Cowland

Paul Cowland


Project Car Builds

Project 328 Part 2

13 Nov , 2014  

It begins!
Having found an Ebay ‘bargain’ in my last article, in the intervening period, I have been to pick it up. But was it an over-described, over-priced wreck? Or shock of shocks, did someone actually describe a car accurately for once?

You know how it is, you sit on Ebay, the seconds counting down, that elusive ‘bargain’ in front of you, and the price well within what you wanted to spend. These are magic online moments. You get into the sub 60 second zone… It still hasn’t moved. 50 seconds, 40 seconds, you tap into the bid screen, but you don’t key in the amount yet. You’re still waiting… waiting… waiting… Right, 29 seconds, that should weed the timid out, start to type in the amount, and a random finishing figure, like 29p, just in case someone bids the same figure, and press return. You already know that the time left is the exact same amount of time for the site to process the command, meaning that as the screen refreshes, you’re all out of time. Red or green? Red or green? RED OR GREEN?!?!?!

It’s GREEN.. thank feck for that! Elation, triumph, success. We’ve all been there. But now, suddenly, a different feeling. The ‘I’ve just bid four figures on a car I have never seen or driven’ kind of feeling. Sure, I’ve checked the feedback, and the pics look good, but is it really as nice as the description makes it sound? Or is the vendor’s idea of immaculate several shades of awful away from mine. There is only ever one way to find out of course, and that’s to go and pick it up…

And so it was for me with our latest project car. That bittersweet mixture of knowing you’re going to pick up a new toy, mixed with the slight trepidation that you get when you’re not sure how it’s all going to turn out when you get there. Thankfully, with the car only being a few miles down the road, I don’t have long to find out. As I arrive at the seller’s house, in a nice road, in a nice area, I start to get a much better feeling about it all. As a cheery, happy chap called Max comes down to greet me, and leads me to where the fully minted car is parked neatly in the garage, I know I’ve done the right thing.

It gets better; turns out Max is a trader who knows his stuff. We also know many of the same people. He’s a good chap. Better yet, it turns out the 328 was bought from a very well-known dealer group from down south… for a shade over £1150. Add to that the transport fees from Surry to the Midlands, and at a shade over £1200, I seem to have got myself something of a bargain. The history reads like ‘War and Peace’ and the last service was over a grand.. on a car that cost just £200 more. All tyres are minty fresh Continentals and both keys sit there, glinting in the afternoon sun. As second hand car purchases go, I have literally just won the lottery. A cup of tea and a profuse ‘thank you’ later, and I’m off to see what I have just bought with my cash.

Needless to say for a car with a history file that gives most phone books an inadequacy complex, the drive home is practically perfect. The clutch is getting near the top of its travel, but the lusty six pulls with a tightness and eagerness that belies its age. The electrics work, the air-con works, the roof works. In fact, with the exception of a few missing pixels in the audio unit, it’s like I have time-travelled back to 1998 and am out on a new car test drive. It’s all very promising. As I arrive back home to have a really good squint, backing into the drive, the rear parking sensors even spark up their monotonous tune. This is getting better.

With another cup of tea on the go, I am free to inspect at my leisure. 20 years in the motor trade make marks easy to see, and the bumper scuffs, microscopic rust blebs on the door shuts and weird dents in the rear quarter makes themselves immediately apparent, but I’m splitting hairs. The car is about £300-400 worth of paint and a day’s work away from sweeping the next BMW concours awards.. if that’s your thing, of course.

For a second, I almost think it’s going to be a flat-out resto. The car is just so level, it could be a future classic, and bound to go up in value. But you know what? I think you guys have guessed already. That’s just not me. If the base car is mint, then to my mind, that just makes it better project fodder. After all, there’s no point in putting great components on a shabby base vehicle. Nope. Let the enhancements begin. “Hello, is that M Style? I’m going to need a set of M3 rear lights, clear side repeaters and clear front indicators.” Here we go again…



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