Lots of history here at The Iconic BMW HQ. Much machinery has moved through my hands. At times, I’ve had five motorcycles at once. Other times there have been four cars parked in my lot. It’s entertaining to think that this much metal has moved through my “shop.” It’s only a paved driveway, a narrow single-car garage and a recently added shed, but I’m happy to have it. Having spent a few years working on cars outside in a gravel apartment lot makes you appreciate the little things – like a roof over your shop. I also must give credit to my tolerant neighbors. Without exception, they are outstanding – never a complaint. I try my best to be a good neighbor, but my small accommodations to their kids/pets/requests don’t repay their many kindnesses.
November 2016: Not really a project, but just a motor. This one is special…it’s a 1987 S38B35 engine. I parted it out. The long block went to Henry at Powersports Tuning, down in Reidsville, NC. What a shop! Definitely contact him if you need any advice about hard-core engine work. He knows his stuff and he’s a downright pleasure to deal with. Much of the year was spent on building the shop, moving the shed, and attempting to repair the MPV, so the fleet (down to a single E24 and my long-term E30) got a little attention.
October 2015: 1991 318iS. I rescued it from a storage unit to keep it from getting scrapped, then had it towed to my Aunt’s garage in Chicago. Ran great. Mechanically, it needed a brake booster. Suspension is tired. The original natural tan vinyl sport interior had gone missing and it also needed a front driver’s fender, F&R bumper covers, some rust repair in the driver’s rocker, and driver’s inner door release & misc. trim. This car was sold on eBay in May 2016; there must have been fifteen tire-kicking slacker/dreamer time-wasters interested in this car. One even stole my key!
June 2015: A 1992 325iC 5-speed. I’d acquired this through a friend. It didn’t need much. I replaced the fluids, installed a flex disk (giubo), did the full timing belt replacement (water pump, tensioner & v-belts too), and restored a few of the electronics. I had intended to overhaul the whole front suspension with Bilstein HDs & IE springs…but plans have changed. I’m selling it to fund the E24. The car is complete, and original, but needs a good bit lot of cosmetic work like all ‘verts seem to. Mechanically, it could use a some new FCABs. It also needs a fuel tank, pump and filter. This car sold on CL in April 2016.
April 2015: A 1985 635CSi. I was looking for some spare parts, and found an E24 posted on Bimmerforums that had been in an accident. The post was from NC, but it turns out that the car was only 15 miles away. I called in a favor from my buddy Dan; we towed it to his place. I’m still waiting on the title, but it’s provided some wheels and other goodies for my long-term ’86 635CSi.
January 2015: To start off the year, I sold & delivered my (last) ’85 VF1100S Sabre to Manhattan. To fill the hole, I picked up a ’86 VFR700f on the way back. It was an orphan from the Philadelphia area in very rough shape. I sold it in June of the same year, only partially restored.
Less recent projects include:
January 2014: 1986 Kawasaki 600 Eliminator. The weather did not co-operate for this one. We loaded it up after pushing it down a driveway in a foot of snow. I had to shovel the driveway enough to get it out of the van and into the garage. I never really got it running well, so I traded it off to a friend-in-need in exchange for BMW parts. Since I now had some space available in the shop, I picked up an ’86 635CSi roller and an ’82 635CSi Euro for parts. To end the year on a high note, I sold off the E23 745i in October. The new owner drove all the way up from South Carolina to pick it up!
May 2013: 1985 Honda VF1100s, rescued from a garage. It was in great cosmetic condition but had been severely overheated & abused by the PO’s Hardley mechanic. The blown motor wasn’t a giant problem…I already had a parts bike with no title and a good motor, problem solved! It also needed a new fuse box and rewired coolant fan. I swapped in the used motor & rode it for fun. I never did get around to overhauling the original engine. These old bikes are a hoot. Don’t let the age fool you, they’re terrifyingly fast bikes. You haven’t lived until you’ve steered a viciously overpowered 650# shaftie bike around on skinny bias ply tires and worn out emulsion shocks. It sold in the dead of winter, Jan 2015. I personally delivered it to Manhattan. I’d never been to Spanish Harlem before. It was nice, even in January!
August 2013: 1984 745i. I found a really rare beast – one of the few remaining E23 745i. This was the rare turbocharged model, not the newer/less reliable/uglier one. As a bonus, most of the handsome European trim was still installed. It was never made available to BMW dealers in the States; mine had been purchased by an M.D. and federalized in ’86 or so. It was the first turbocharged car to arrive here at The Iconic BMW. It had a lot of goodies installed; a lot of work had been done to it.
August 2013: 1980 Honda CM400t. I fixed this one up for a buddy, and sold it off in September of the same year. Sweet little bike!
September 2012: On a whim, I listed my 633CSi on CL for cash or trade. I wasn’t looking for a bike, but I received an intriguing trade offer for a ’95 Honda VFR750f. While I miss that E24 more than I thought I would, I kept the bike; they’re really a lovely all-round machine.
December 2011: 1982 633CSi 5-speed, received in trade for my ’84 Honda V65 Sabre. I had a long history with that bike…but…it was time for it to go. I’d bought the Sabre way back in July 2000 (from the Pennysaver classifieds, if I recall correctly). It was time for the bike to go – I wasn’t using it, and those machines do not like to sit. So I cleaned out the carbs (again) and offered the bike up for trades. Eventually, I found a 633CSi languishing on CL. The owner was wonderful to deal with; he was a Euro auto mechanic, and wanted to see his car go to an enthusiast. I was fully honest about the problems with my bike: the starter clutch was starting to slip and the infamously weak 2nd gear had started to pop out. We settled on a deal, and he delivered the car. That E24 taught me a great deal about parts interchangeability, electrical troubleshooting, and the sheer hedonistic pleasure of a big Teutonic luxury coupe. It ran incredibly well once I was done with it, although that process took the best part of a year.
Before I kept good records, there were also a few other notable BMWs…an ’87 Zinnoberrot 325e sedan with a blown automatic. It received an M20B25 from an ’89 325i rollover victim. Before that, there was an ’87 325iS. I bought it for the diff (still have it, in my ’91 318i), learned quite a bit about transporting & parting out a car…and the ’89 525i that started it all in November 2006.
I’ve also owned plenty of entertaining vehicles before my BMW thing really got started. These include: ’06 Mazda MPV, ’95 VW Jetta, ’96 Nissan Quest, ’97 Nissan 240SX S/E, ’93 Subaru Impreza LS 1.8 wagon, ’93 Nissan Sentra XE coupe, ’82 Mercury Lynx hatch, several B11 Sentra XE wagons, ’74 Honda CB750K, ’87 Nissan 200SX XE, ’82 Toyota Starlet, and an ’86 SAAB 900 hatch. Before that, I’d driven & maintained my father’s cars: ’95 Nissan D21 pickup, ’86 VW Golf hatch, ’84 SAAB 900 sedan, ’81 BMW 528i.