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End GAME FOR SMOOTHIE Published: 30th Apr 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Contributer and ex-racer Jeremy Waltons1986 BMW 635CSI at 169,891miles

It’s a dramatic classic year for me since I wrote about my 635CSi BMW. I’m truly sorry that the coupe that I dubbed Helga during the 16 years and 83,000 miles we shared, has now been sold for a more modern BMW. After so long together and memorable multiple classic trips to France, Germany, Belgium and Spain, it was one of the biggest losses of my motoring life – emotionally and financially. Yet it had to be done.

Rewind back to 2013 and the charismatic automatic transmission had a busy winter in harsh snow storage, attending early dates at Old Sarum Airfield and Bath & West Showground, followed by sunshine outings on Drive It Day, July’s Silverstone Classic and Grand Prix weekend. They were the good times but escalating repair costs meant that little short of a full body restoration was now needed – and the car simply wasn’t worth it, in monetary terms, anyway.


There was a significant £536 bill to get through MoT in May of that year with a new headlamp, repairs to the Recaro front seat frames, new wipers and a Bosch starter and full service. Nothing major to warn me that we would soon be parted, especially as the nagging start/no ignition hiccups were eradicated by multiple electrical components and a direct wiring feed to the starter motor had made the car now reliable, even if it didn’t look it appearance-wise.

Diverting funds to tidy the 635 for business use, my 1958 gone but not forgotten Frog-eye Sprite was sold in that same month. I had a look around the BMW’s body in the brighter weather to see what needed doing to make it presentable once more and found mismatched paint on doors and boot lid, previous smash and grab break in damage, a scruffy rear bumper and rubber trims, passenger door seal blown, a centre section to driver’s door lock missing (but still functional) and threatening rear wheel arch blisters for the third time. Since rectifying the arches alone had cost me over £1500 during my ownership, I was naturally fed up with having to spend more on a vehicle that wasn’t appreciating in value to justify heavy expense.


So I drove the 635 to Ridgeway, the official BMW dealer in Salisbury, and their staff took detailed time
to note down the spares I wanted – about £500 in all it ran to. I’d allowed £5000 to get Helga back into shape with matching respray.

I wanted the job done properly if not to concours standard so headed west to a specialist, where I knew a fellow BMW club member had an M635CSi conscientiously restored.

An examination was given. Judgement: “Nothing dangerous here and it is perfectly useable, but we don’t do anything but the right way: it will cost not less than five figures, probably £13,000’sh.”

Gulp! As I had spent £4250 on the front inner panels in 2011, I knew this was it – the time to get rid of Helga had arrived; a sad and sorry situation many of you have also been in, I fancy.

Within a week I was out shopping with wildly different ideas of the single vehicle that would replace my two classics for a rugged winter. I didn’t want a repmobile, just a useable classic. Read all about it in our sidebar…


1997 to ’13 ownership taught me:

Pros: 635 is timelessly beautiful, comfortably quick (0-60mph in 7.5 sec; 137mph) and classy enough to attend any social or business occasion. Fuel consumption on a run was always 26-29mpg, and that straight six motor delivered durability with smooth charm.

Cons: You need serious income and proper coachworks to keep that fine Bavarian body toned!

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