Pimped my ride: I'm a bimmer nut

Last updated 05:00 06/01/2013
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TOO GOOD FOR WORK: Andy Parkins' BMW E34 AC Schnitzer Touring.

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About three years ago, I needed to buy a station wagon for work, and, having already owned several BMWs by this stage, buying another one seemed logical. I searched on Trade Me and found a good one in Christchurch for a good price, and agreed to buy it sight unseen, and flew down to collect it.

What I was presented with was an E34 520i Touring in far better condition than I thought it was.

"Uh oh," I thought as I handed over the cash and put it in to my name. This one was too good for a work vehicle.

However, the fuel economy novelty quickly wore off, especially in a car the size of a Commodore or Falcon and the hunt began for a new power plant. By this stage, I had already brought an E34 525i Touring, same colour, which became the work wagon.

Then another E34, this time a sedan, came up for sale with a genuine AC Schnitzer body kit and wheels, the whole car for around $500. Deal made, I went and collected that one too. I transferred the kit over, sold the wheels and walked away with more cash than I started with and a flash new bodykit. Naturally, it was a good excuse to repaint the entire car, because that's what nutters like us do.

Then another E34 came along, this time donating its cream leather interior and, albeit overkill, sound system.

And then, finally, the idea for a new engine came. I saw a sedan on the internet with an M70B50 engine, or a circa 1990s BMW 5 Litre V12 in it, and knew I had to have that engine too. This is the engine that came in the 850Ci and 750iL exclusively for the rich and famous, and is the engine that powers the McLaren F1 is loosely based on.

Although definitely not a stranger to engine conversions, and well fluent in the language of BMWs, I knew I was going to need a lot of help to complete the conversion. I contacted the guy whose car inspired mine and he was not only happy to help, but offered to do it for me.

"Hmm," I thought, "do i want to get involved in this, or let someone who has done it before complete this?". The logical decision was made, and I drove my wagon to Auckland, stopping in at Taupo Motorsport Park to give the trusty old M50B20 engine one last thrash.

One year later, four trips to Auckland and countless sleepless nights for the builder, I was collecting the car again, all certified and complete. Just as I had taken the car to the track on the way up, I did it on the way back down, and, wow, what a difference another six cylinders and three litres makes!

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Fuel consumption is over twice when I purchased the car now, but small price to pay to be keeping up with pretty much anything else this side of $40k. Besides, you've got to pay to play.

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