Cars of the Northern Group: Andy’s BMW 330Ci

My love of convertible cars began in my early twenties when I was lucky enough to buy an elderly MGB Roadster from a family friend. It took me on exciting adventures all over Europe, almost always with the top down. I was hooked.

Family life soon got in the way, and it was sold to fund baby paraphernalia. Once my finances recovered, I bought my first BMW Convertible, an E30 model and a car I wish I still had today as it was a beauty. I was however led astray by the delights of a more powerful E36 which had exciting features such as an electric roof. I never really gelled with it so after a year or so I splashed out on an E46 330Ci, a car that is still with me sixteen years later.

Purchased from the BMW main dealer in Leeds, the four-year-old car had done only 13,000 miles and had been a street parked London car. Its low mileage and as-new condition were the attractions, but I was also drawn to the powerful six-cylinder motor: an old smoothie.

The problem with owning such a fine example has always been the wish to keep it thus, so at the first sighting of a gritting lorry it gets squirreled away in its cosy garage, emerging from enforced hibernation once a month to get the fluids circulating.

For the six months or so it is used I am generally careful where I take it and it’s got to the point where if rain is at all likely, I will leave it at home. You may therefore not be surprised to learn that the mileage only just crept past 30,000 last summer. Every year I resolve to use it more, but with test cars coming and going, there is usually something interesting sitting on the driveway that needs an outing.

I have used my local BMW dealership for servicing and maintenance and their charges for older cars is surprisingly reasonable. However, the last couple of years I have had issues with anti-lock brake sensors, and it has become readily apparent that they are unable to fully resolve the issue. They have had plenty of my cash.

The last time the car was with them for three days and when I collected it, they informed me that they had changed lots of parts to try and fully extinguish the pretty array of warning lights on the dashboard. The hadn’t fully succeeded so only billed me £100 or thereabouts.

So, tucked away in its lair, my cherished convertible sits, still ailing and on the recommendation of a friend, it is off to a specialist in Leeds in the spring. There are a few cosmetic jobs that need attending to as well; the alloy wheels have seen better days, not due to misadventures on my part, more the poor quality of the factory finish and there is an annoying dent on the bonnet from where a bit of the garage roof unexpectedly gave way. Furious would be an understatement.

Whilst whiling away the time over the Christmas holidays, I made a list of all the cars I have owned. It’s a motley assortment of vehicles totalling over 50, though doubtless I have forgotten a few. The 330Ci has been with me for the longest by far and it is most definitely a keeper. New Year’s resolution once again is to try and use it more, but I’m not optimistic.

What it is: BMW 330Ci
How much it cost: £18,000
Running costs: A service every other year costs £300 or thereabouts. Repair bills over the years, new alternator, ABS issues less than £1,000. Insurance – very cheap as I’m old at £121.03
Vital Stats: 231hp, 0-60mph in 6.6 seconds. My economy 23mpg.