First things first - I am an absolute idiot.
No idea what took hold of me throughout the whole process of purchasing this car but any sort of rationale and healthy scepticism went out the window the moment I saw the for sale ad. I'd interacted with the fella selling it prior to the listing, he had been pretty active in local bimmer groups and forums, came across as fairly knowledgeable and thorough, even helping me out with some advice when I was just starting out with my first BMW so I saw that as enough reason to fully trust him.
The sale ad looked great, tonnes of maintenance items taken care of, looked a clean and well sorted car throughout, with a price tag to reflect that. The local market isn't that big, unsurprising being an isolated island nation of 5 million people, and tidy 6-cylinder Msport Tourings are fairly hard to come by, especially in facelift trim and in my preferred colour. I was instantly sold.
Unfortunately, the car was at the opposite end of the country so I couldn't check it out in person. Instead, I put down a deposit and started arranging flights to go and pick it up.
In hindsight, of course I should have done a heap more due diligence. A lot more questions needed to be asked, more pictures/videos requested and the price negotiations left for the time of pickup. But hey, wouldn't have been half as much fun, would it? Might have even changed my mind and you wouldn't have a sob story to read.
Anyway, I flew up to Auckland where the seller was kind enough to pick me up from the airport. I'd also arranged to pick up a multifunction steering wheel from a guy parting out his car nearby, intending to wire in cruise control to make the 1000km trip down to Christchurch that wee bit more comfortable.
Straight away I started noticing that aesthetically, the car was well below the standard I had hoped for. Nearly every panel had some degree of dings and scratches, a whole bunch well beyond what a cut and polish would be able to tackle. The left rear wheel arch, quarter panel and left side of the bumper had clearly had a run-in with.. a wolverine or something.
The front bumper was sagging and the rear bumper had a whole heap of deep scuffs below the rear hatch. Turned out the owner was a builder, so the car had often been used as a work van, which showed as everything from the backs of the front seats to the door panels and rear window tints had all sorts of scuffs and scratches from materials and tools being crammed into it, as well as every nook and cranny being blessed with a healthy dose of saw dust and shavings.
The hood had a few indents and to top it off, right smack in the middle, a couple of dollar-coin-sized spots where bird sh*t had eaten away at the clear coat right through to the paint.
In the front, the driver's seat had a patch stitched onto it, covering up a hole, the arm rest was broken off, the middle of the dash above the stereo had something resembling a shoe print etched into it and the air bag wasn't sitting properly inside the steering wheel, half popping out on one side.
Oh, and the power mirrors didn't work, I was informed.
I was getting a bit overwhelmed, had a long drive ahead of me and was keen to hit the road. I'd come all this way, too late to back out now. We sorted out the payment, ownership and insurance and off I went before I lost all enthusiasm.
"At least she's solid mechanically," I murmured to myself.
Out on the open road, the car was a joy. The engine felt preppy, the handling sharp and she ate up the miles effortlessly. The list of annoyances kept growing steadily though. The windshield washer pump wasn't working, nor was the rear window wiper. The speakers were rattling at even the slightest hint of bass and most annoyingly of all, going over uneven patches of road that I wouldn't even classify as bumps at highway speeds, the rear tyres would rub against the fenders. Ohh and the headliner was sagging and was ripped in a few places. Great.
I stopped to crash the night at some friends' place where I did a quick scan of the car and partially dismantled the dash to retrofit the multi-function steering wheel I had picked up earlier.
It's when I first discovered a historic transmission speed sensor fault that I didn't think much of at the time, but would come back to haunt me later on.
After a few detours, a inter-islander ferry trip and close to 2,000km added to the odometer, I made it home where I embarked upon my traditional ritual after buying a new car...
...a seats-out deep clean, which may have gotten a bit out of hand this time.
All the interior pillars had been rather shabbily redone, the fabric had become stiff and crunchy with visible patches where it had been saturated through with liquid glue and had begun to peel again. Figured I might as well...
Out they came, as did the headliner.
Went on a wee shopping spree, bought a shop vac, a pressure washer, a steam cleaner as well as a Bissell carpet cleaner and went on a rampage. The carpets got a good scrub and came out looking good as new.
The seats were next. The alcantara was looking a bit tired so went with a wee hack with a lint remover. Topped it off with a soft brush and a little diluted Koch-Chemie MZR to remove some of the lighter stains and they came out looking a lot fresher.
Amazing what a difference a $5 little device can make.
Next, onto the interior plastics. Went through all of the scratched up center console bits, scraping off the rubberised plastic gunk to expose the bare plastic with the help of warm water, scrub pads and some plastic pry tools. Absolute menace of a job, took a solid 3 nights of scrubbing and had skin peeling off the fingers by the end, but well worth the effort. Treated all the bits with Aerospace 303 to finish it off.
Then I got onto stripping the headliner of the nasty foam gunk to get it ready for reupholstering. That's one of those jobs that I didn't trust myself to do a clean enough job so opted to have it professionally handled instead, whilst doing some of the prep work myself.
A well nasty task, but not as bad as I was made to believe from reading up about it previously. A cheap little nail brush made it a heap easier.
Dropped the headliner and pillars off to a shop to have refinished and moved on to refurbishing the steering wheel. The wheel wasn't in terrible condition, I've definitely seen worse, but was showing slight signs of age so thought I'd get ahead of it. Went with a genuine leather wrap with black stitching from Mewant
to keep it clean and minimal. After a few hours of mucking about and stabbing myself a good number of times, it came out looking a solid 4/5. The slight added thickness was definitely noticeable, but really only a problem if you want to be super picky. Also figured out why the airbag wasn't sitting properly - a simple matter of slotting the airbag wires back into the wee groove on the top side of the wheel.
Whilst demolishing the interior, I came across a whole bunch of wiring that seemed to be either unconnected to anything or not doing much regardless, likely some old stereo system or the sort from it's former life in Japan. Won't be needing any of that anymore.
The headliner and pillars came back looking fantastic. Would never have gotten anything close to as good a result with my own crooked hand stubs so was really happy I'd left it to the professionals.
To be continued...