With the sadness of last weeks accident with my old Audi Cabriolet, which is almost certain to be written off. Full steam was set in to finding a replacement, as Audi/BMW 4 seater convertibles aren’t the commonest car to seek, especially once you then also want to narrow your search further by
a) nice colour b) manual c) in bloody good nick d) 323 or 328 in the BM, or 2.6 or 2.8 in the Audi e) not too high mileage f) bonus points for nice toys &/or hardtop or LPG
Expected the search to take a few weeks, found a few contenders at the wrong end of the country, a few with all the right specs but in a horrid colour. Then managed to find a nice looking BMW 323i Cabriolet in Harrogate, nice colour, one of the right engines, all the bits it should come with & a hard top.
So here she is my new long termer, freshly collected this morning in Calypso Red
Freshly MoT’d, she has some of those details a petrol head looks for in these, still got the orig dealer sticker in the hardtop rear window from ’97, matching Dunlops all round, handbook, full toolkit, all three keys, dealer mats all round, even the BMW torch in the glovebox. The first two owners were husband & wife, and the third owner snapped it up when it was traded in at the garage she works for, but wasn’t using it, since last July she’s done 2000 miles. The downside is it is currently wearing her private plate, but will soon be restored to a standard R reg.
Inc the hardtop, a fresh 12month MoT, 6 months warranty, receipts for a bunch of the suspension sorted, and with 116k on the clock I’ve paid £2900 from a reputed dealer, which bearing in mind I’d looked at one tattier without the hard top, 4 completely different cheap tyres inc a flat, slashed rear window etc and up for £3000… I think I’ve done OK.
Interior wise, toys are pretty much limited to the fully electric roof, traction control off switch, and the instant MPG gauge below the rev counter. There’s no aircon, grey cloth seats (not heated either boo), no trip computer, but I’ve found from the Golf before, a car that didn’t even have electric windows or central locking, this allowed you to concentrate on the important toys it did have, ie a superb chassis & engine.
Having had the Audi Cabriolet before, it’s hard not to make direct comparisons between the two, I actually prefer the styling of the Audi, and they’re much rarer too, but I’ve gone for the BMW this time as it should be the better drivers car being rear wheel drive. The feel of the plastics and switchgear in the Audi is also a cut above the BMWs, yet the BMW is evidently better insulated, it was just like a tin top with the hard top on down the motorway, but even with that removed and just the soft top up, it was much quieter at cruising speeds on the local dual carriageway than the Audi was, and feels like a fraction less scuttle shake too. The hardtop is doubly clever too, hidden in the mounting points either side is electrical connections for a heated rear screen & addition courtesy lights in the rear plus grab handles for passengers. Non car people would probably never guess this wasn’t a fixed head car with it fitted.
The engine in the BMW has a bit more tech, being a 24v with variable timing (VANOS), so kicks out 170bhp from its 2.5 litre straight 6, vs 150bhp from the Audis 2.6 12v v6, combined with the manual box, it gives a bit more kick, and a much deeper nicer noise. Unfortunately I’m still suffering from last week both physically and mentally, so I’ve only pottered her home, and not ready for exploring how good the handling is yet.