BMW 633 Maintenance - Our Shed

By: Guy Allen, Photography by: Guy Allen

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The sometimes stumbling attempts to sort out the dramas with Brunhilde, the 1976 633 Bimmer finally seem to be paying off. Well, sort of

Some months ago I embarked on a campaign to at least ensure that this damned thing wouldn’t let me down in the middle of the night, and fix the suspect ride and steering. Ride and steering turned out to be the simplest issues – just throw money at it by buying the bushes and Bilstein dampers.

The latter might seem like an extravagance, but that’s what the car came with and I like the way they work, though it can take several weeks of use for them to properly bed in. Initially you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve bought cement-filled dampers, but they improve greatly with use.

Throw in a new set of wheel bearings and we’re up around $1500-plus by the time the whole lot is in place. The bits are readily available overseas via Walloth & Nesch in Germany, though I’m tending to check local suppliers (such as Peninsula BM down in Vic) first.

An unpleasant grinding sound from under the floorpan signalled the centre bearing for the driveshaft was on its way out, so up on the hoist it went. The part was easy enough to source and fitting meant dropping the front of the driveshaft. Getting the alignment right is important, otherwise you risk a secondary complaint from the uni joints.

Then there were the hydraulics. Both the clutch and brakes needed new master cylinders, while the clutch scored a new slave as well. As for the brake calipers, they were pulled apart and rebuilt. Judging by their state, it was a bloody miracle they did anything at all, let alone pull up 1.5 tonnes of car.

So, all fixed? Well, yes and no. We discovered that bleeding the brake system by hand basically required two three-armed mechanics. Not good. In the end, it was simpler and cheaper (particularly by the time you take psychiatrist bills into account…) to whip it down to the local workshop and get them to flush it with a proper pressure system.
Of course there was a catch. One of the front discs had developed a weird squeaking noise which got to such a volume and pitch at 60km/h that it sounded like someone was rogering Daffy Duck with a jackhammer. Embarrassing and hugely irritating. So, off came the wheel and caliper. Nup, nothing visibly wrong. Try it again. Daffy was still having a bad day. Okay, we didn’t know how old the brake pads were (should it matter if they have plenty of meat left?) but we binned the whole lot and put new ones in. Suddenly the noise was gone and no-one can explain why. Don’t you just love old cars?

Speaking of old car syndrome, now Daffy has been silenced you can now hear a thrumming noise from the rear end, but only some times and only when it’s up to operating temperature. Any theories out there? I do have a guaranteed fix, which is earplugs.

The latest on the list is new tyres. The BBS basketweave wheels (which were a hot item when this car was new) take 215/65-14s which is now a near-redundant size. For the time being we’ve thrown a set of Maxxi hoops on, at a giddy $108 each. They’re not the world’s greatest rubber, but do the job. More importantly we ditched the now ancient Olympics, which I suspect were fitted while Moses still played fullback for Jerusalem. The fresh tyres have lightened up and sharpened the steering.

There are still a lot of little issues to be sorted, with trim and ancillaries, but nothing that has prevented it being used as a daily driver over the last few months of dim, cold and damp Melbourne winter. Some days, Daffy and the thrummers aside, I even enjoy it.

My original plan with this car was to have a useable (but far from concours) Euro classic for $10k on the road. Sadly, I’ve blown the budget and we’ve spent more like $11-12k, which includes the original $7500 purchase price.

Still, it’s not a lot of money for an involving manual coupe with reasonable performance and halfway decent handling.

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