Thought I'd be totally unoriginal and do a quick intro like I've seen a few others do. I'm Tom, somehow I got selected to be a tribe leader so here I am. I'm 24, from Surrey in the UK and I was born a petrolhead. Rather than bore you with my life history I thought I'd focus on the car history instead, so without further-ado I would like to introduce you to my first car, one I bought while studying Engineering at uni and working every weekend for almost a year to save for it, an E46 330i Sport Saloon. I had it for 2 years, and I can confidently say I enjoyed it to the full, sorry I only have some crappy old photos of it....
Because what 19 year old wouldn't do this with a powerful RWD car??
You'll notice a theme from hereon-in with me and dirty well used cars.
Defying the haters that say E46 rear subframes are weak.... (I then cracked the subframe).
Following selling the E46 for next to no money I had very little budget but wanted more power from my next car (naturally). I found this in the shape of a Sabb 9-5 Aero Estate. My love of fast wagons was born!
Somewhere off the west coast of Ireland. 250bhp through the front wheels on greasy roads was always interesting....
The Saab was great fun, my only Turbo car, and it felt brilliantly quick compared to the BMW, even if on paper it was slower. After one Winter with the Saab I discovered the joy of man maths, and got a bank loan to buy a truly stupid daily. My beloved Kermit. A Lotus Elise S2 111S, one of a handful made in Electric Green. I fitted it with a decat and sports exhaust, my hearing has never been the same since. It was one of those cars that just made you laugh out loud uncontrollably when driving it. Handily it was also the most economical car I have ever owned. Feel free to laugh at this video I did with CarThrottle for a Reader's Ride on the Elise and me: www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyccX1Tef3Q&t=12s
Makes me sad looking at photos of this car, I miss it terribly. Used to pop flames on the overrun.
Sadly someone backed into the Elise and smashed the whole front end up, and Lotus being Lotus quoted 6 months to get the parts in, so I bought my first V8, and my first Bahnstormer; My awesome 540i. I was skeptical at first about buying an automatic, but I needn't have been. I've been lucky enough with my career to have driven probably over a hundred different cars and to me you really can't beat the simple day to day driving pleasure of a torquey V8 and a conventional torque converter automatic transmission. Smooth and delicious.
Here it is after a superb run down the length of France to Monaco.
While in France I read Alex Roy's book on his time with his M5 on all the Gumball Rallies he did. So once the Elise was sold I bought one. It was always my absolute dream car, and to be able to buy one at the age of 21 was a complete dream come true. It mostly lived up to the dream. It gobbled up high speed cruising with ease. And oh boy it loved to go sideways! That LSD and that drivetrain made it almost telepathic. My first ever experience of being able to steer a car on the throttle, it was so adjustable mid-slide, what a joy!
Isn't that just the best sight ever? The most handsome car to come out of Munich, dirty and used. Mmmmhmmmm.
I can honestly say hand on heart the E39 is my favourite car of all time. Just adore the way they look and they way they feel.
Sadly my M5 wasn't a great example, I did a lot of work to it, but it had more that needed doing. Meanwhile my 540i was mechanically perfect, and dare I say it with the automatic box more enjoyable on my commute, (yes I owned them both together). Having two V8 5-Series seemed ridiculous so I advertised the M5, and in a cruel twist of fate also received an offer on the 540i which I accepted before getting offered asking price on the M5, so both went the same week. I regretted selling the 540i almost immediately, but too late. One day I will have another, actually I'll do a post just on E39s at some point. I adore them.
The answer is always E39.
Following the two Munich legends, I wanted to try and combine both characters into one car for a reasonable price. So I bought a Jaguar S-Type R, a 4.2 V8 Supercharged limo with 400bhp and more torque than the rear tyres could cope with.
I can't quite recall why but the spare change from the M5 and 540i sale left a hole in my pocket so more man maths meant I bought another E46 to join the Jag. This time an absolutely stunning, fully-loaded and mint 330Ci.
The gorgeous 330Ci in Orient Blue. Great posers car, absolutely compared to my old 330i as it was a Cabrio and the autobox was pants.
After realising that my Irish skin gets very burnt in the sun and that the auto box in the 330Ci was absolute shite, I decided to sell the E46, I also realised that I had bought my Jag cheap, so sold that on for a profit. I wasn't sure what to get next, but fancied another German V8 and then I found this 8 miles down the road for sale.....
The truly epic C55 AMG Estate.
The C55 AMG is a very overlooked car, partly because not many examples came to the UK. The estate in particular was very rare. Just 55 came to the UK. It was also up against the E46 M3 and the Audi S4, both of which saw more time in the spotlight. With 360bhp it had a slightly higher power to weight ratio than the M5 and the Jag, and my goodness did it feel quick! Despite a 5-speed auto box and an open diff this thing could launch like you wouldn't believe off the line! Usefully the box had a manual mode, and best of all it wouldn't shift up unless you hit the upshift paddle, it could bounce off the redline all day it it wanted to. It made a great noise, even on stock pipes. Practical too, and bar the badges on the back and quad pipes no one could tell what it was. Perfect at the traffic lights or on the motorway. Quite possibly the coolest car I've had, proper Q-car too.
A new chapter.....
I eventually sold the C55 AMG because I fancied another change, this time to 2 wheels, I ventured out, learnt to ride, got my licence and bought a BMW F800GS. I loved the colour, and liked the idea of being a little raised up, it just felt safer. I should say Bikes were a very recent interest to me, so I was cautious about not wanting to go out and buy a sports bike and run out of talent on it. So the GS seemed like the sensible option, I still have it even a year later, but that will be changing soon so stay tuned.....
Sadly paying to learn to ride, buying all the best bike gear, and the bike itself rather dented my car fund. But by now I was hooked onto the idea of another German V8. I went out and found myself the cheapest V8 S4 Auto on the planet. More man maths here. These things aren't exactly known for being trouble free, and when they go wrong the bills rack up fast.
My first S4. Never washed. (Until just after this photo was taken when I got pulled by the Police for an obscured plate)
While the S4 was good fun, it was pretty tatty and I had to replace a faulty alternator which because Audi mount their V8s between the headlights means taking the bumper off and the radiator to gain access. Scared of bigger bills I shifted it on. I realised my budget probably couldn't get me another V8 so I decided to explore something newer and go for something I have always admired for being a great looking car.....
The stunning E36 328i Sport with some choice M3 bits.
This was one of those cars that I couldn't park it anywhere and walk away with a second and third glance back to admire it. Absolutely stunning and quite rare in Hell Rot. Sadly it didn't last all that long, I don't have the patience or the funds for a rolling restoration, I mean the car was far from bad, but it needed suspension sorting, some rust bubbles were appearing and I also had an intermittent misfire I never quite got to the bottom of. So it went. I then decided to be a complete wally and buy another S4....
My current steed.
So here we are today. I daily drive a manual 2005 S4 Avant with the 4.2 V8. It's a cracking example, just over 90,000 miles on the clock, it's got a heated black leather Recaro interior, sat nav, Bose surround sound, and most importantly it's a manual. Not many about like this. Interestingly the gearing is much shorter on the manuals than on the autos, so it feels much quicker, the downside is the fuel economy suffers. I do about 15/16mpg day to day. But it's worth it for the noise.
So what next? Well my BMW bike is just out of warranty now so I will most likely replace that soon. I didn't know much about bikes when I bought it, but over the last year or so I have ridden all sorts, 160bhp BMW sports bikes, Ducatis, all sorts of Hondas etc. All of which are better than my BMW. But it's winter and I'm a pussy so I'll probably wait till spring to get a new bike. As for the S4, its days left with me are numbered. I've been offered another car I really want and pending going to see it I've agreed a price on it. It is of course another Bahnstormer, but that is all I will say for now.
So I think it's quite clear I have a type here, 6 German V8s later I can safely say I am a Bahnstormer kinda guy. Since this Drivetribe thing is new and I'm forgetful do go follow me on twitter for more regular updates I'm @BahnstormerTom. This is a very quick overview of past cars, but I will probably go into more detail on each later.
But now, tell me, I want to hear about your Bahnstormers new and old.....