Grand Plans - Revcounter 388

By: Guy Allen

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bmw 528i bmw 528i

Just how much trouble could a thousand dollar car really be?

Young Barry came wandering in, asking what I knew about the old E12 BMW 528i from the seventies. I’m no expert on them but since I’ve been mug enough to have owned a couple of E24s (six series) of the same era, there’s an ill-founded belief that muggins will actually know something about them.

I do know enough to realise that ownership can sometimes be a traumatic and expensive exercise. However, pick the right one – preferably that’s already had the head gasket done – and they can be fairly robust.

But really, asking me whether or not you should buy a car or motorcycle is like asking Dracula whether he thinks blood banks are a good idea. With the sort of self-control that’s resulted in a fleet number near enough to 20 vehicles I’m now pointed out by other tragics to their partners as an example of how badly things can get out of control. "Look dear," they explain, "you might not like me buying the second/third/fourth car, but I’m nowhere near as bad as that loon!" Fair enough. We all need a worse example of our own behavior – it’s getting increasingly difficult for me to find one.

Back to the BMW. What got young Mr B going was the car on offer was priced at just a grand. Let’s face it, that’s the price of a not particularly glamorous bicycle. I’ve had oil changes that have ended up costing more than that.

The only catch is the car is in Townsville and he’s in Melbourne. So the petrol to drive back could cost almost as much as the car. Could there be one a little closer? Yup. There’s another in sunny Port Adelaide, described as a part-finished resto project. What could possibly go wrong?

That inevitably raises the topic of just how much car you can buy for a grand. Young Andy jokes that he’s never spent that much on a car and, when you look in the right places, there’s actually a wealth of choice out there for such a fabulous sum.

A quick search revealed the expected gaggle of clapped-out Commodores and Camrys, but there was some mildly exotic stuff in there too. For example there was a Capri turbo soft-top on offer. It needs a head rebuild and some clown has halfuninstalled a central locking/immobilizer, so it would have a few challenges. Even so, it’s hardly the world’s most complex car and, at a mere $400 might be worth a punt. The owner does mention it’s got over 450,000km on the clock – is that some sort of record?

Slap down an extra $50 and you could have a Subaru Liberty wagon that’s long in the tooth but still a runner. Though you have to wonder about the optimist trying to flog a seized Daihatsu Sirion for similar money. Not worth the price of the towing, in my view.

The one that really got my attention was the manual 1991 Celica, allegedly a runner for just $500. That could be a really interesting project car. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if Barry is being a bit of a spendthrift. Still, I suppose if you want top European motoring, you have to pay for it.

What’s the best car you’ve bought for a grand? Drop us a line and tell us all about it…


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