Don’t spend years restoring a car, it’ll only be torture when it’s finished
Will cut his teeth as a designer on Evo magazine, before slinging a U-ey and writing for them instead. When he's not writing he can be found trying to stop Wagtails defecating on his old Range Rover.
Perusing social media can be a dangerous pastime. Influencers and celebrities have hijacked digital platforms to gradually dismantle our self-esteem and turn us into consumer machines. We buy clothes, diet pills, slimming shakes and holidays so our entire lives can compete with the perfect snapshot that a famous person publishes.
I can happily say these issues — the sort that actress, activist and the Lord and saviour of the millennial generation Jameela Jamil riles against — haven't particularly affected me. I can see the buff, rippling bodies of my friends or strangers and not feel a need to starve myself or spend every waking hour in the gym. And I feel pleased, rather than envious, to see other people travelling to glamours locations and going on lovely holidays.
But I have been heavily influenced by what I see online. The people I follow on social media convinced me, by posting photos of their own cars, to turn a simple rebuild of my BMW 2002 into a full-on Instagram-worthy show car-type build. You know the sort: bodywork that looks like it's been dipped in thick paint, gold-coloured hardware and, the ultimate in internet show car signatures, body colour under the arches.
To achieve the sort of results I lusted over online, I spent years meticulously attaching perfect parts onto freshly painted bodywork while using lashings of masking tape so as not to make a single scratch or scuff. I made sure every bolt was clean, yellow zinc-plated and the right length so that there was no untidy excess thread showing. I went through metres of pipe until I bent it to the perfect radius and at the exact angle.
That’s just the time I spent. There’s also the money I splurged on rare (expensive) new old stock parts that I found on foreign eBay sites. I spent so much money with a part supplier that they named their firstborn after me. OK, that might not be exactly true, but they did name their son William, and I’ll be damned if my weekly calls didn’t influence that decision.
But there’s one big problem. It’s a huge, monumental issue. It’s that when I drive my 2002 — and as its a car it's meant to be driven — all the hard work I put into making it immaculate is gradually undone. Just a little bit of dirt undermines all the hours of cleaning, stripping, painting and delicately assembling I did when building it. The thought of scratching, scraping, denting, muckying or wearing out any part of it is torture, and it puts me off driving it.
I may have a natural tendency to seek perfection in what I make, but my need to create a clinically clean undercarriage was compounded by other people's projects online. Because, almost without exception, everyone’s car on Instagram looked cleaner, neater and better prepared than my own. And I'd have to try and compete. No matter how futile it might be, trying to beat people who have no idea they're even in a competition and probably don't care, I still had to win. Those pesky Instagram algorithms got to me.
You'll be pleased to know that I have overcome the excruciating thoughts I have about ruining my car, and I have taken it out on the road. Whenever I am sat in that tight bucket seat, working that heavy clutch pedal and listening to those carbs suck in air, I do really forget about potential stone chips, dirt building up, water seeping into hidden crevices. Because it's just sublime to drive. It’s aggressive, energetic and absolutely thrilling. It's everything I wanted it to be.
And driving it is the only thing that distracts me from my car’s condition. The really sad thing is, I can’t spend enough time driving it. I need to sleep, work, eat, try to hold my relationship together, and absolutely none of those things take my mind off the cleanliness of the underside of my car. Tragic, I know.
Until I do eventually muster up the courage to really take the sheen off my 2002, I'm going to contribute to the monster that turned me into this pitiable mess. You see, I too am guilty of posting endless shots of my car in gleaming, immaculate condition, just the sort that would have triggered me to whip out my credit card or crack out another can of black Hammerite. So I’m sorry to anyone building a car if I influence you to spend more money and more time away from your loved ones. But I am mostly sorry to Jameela Jamil for further adding to social media's toxic side.
2002, a restoration odyssey
Want to know all about the BMW 2002? Well, you'll be needing this book. BMW's 2002: The Real Story Behind the Legend, by Jackie Jouret, is all about... well, the title pretty much tells you.