Regular readers will know that I am a great advocate of retaining originality for classic cars. And when you modify one, you should ensure to it do so tastefully.
I write when because we are hastily reaching the point where more classic cars are modified than kept original. At least that’s the feeling an anxious observer (like myself) can easily get when skimming over classic cars in magazines, at events, shows or even out on the roads.
Lowered, widened (wheels or wheelarches), stiffened, modified for more power, better braking or just better looks. Whatever that is. Once I was rather religious on the subject of originality, but years ago I chose to restore my Triumph GT6 in an Aston Martin-colour (Silver Birch, for the record), inventing a “delete bumper-option” along the way, adding three-eared spinners and probably other stuff I have either forgotten or regretted – or both. I’ve been more tolerant since then.
And with the acquisition of one be-spoilered and be-skirted Mercedes SLC last summer I can barely keep myself from adding gold BBS alloys to the Seventies cocktail. Which would be rather tasty on the big Merc, I think.
In fact the BMW E9 would be a candidate for some of that same treatment: A beautiful car in itself, regardless of specific model and specification, but many owners (or restorers) add bigger wheels and tires along with some lowering. And when done with a secure hand and kept within limits, it can actually enhance the appeal of the big coupé, I’ll admit. Good taste is key. As is moderation.
Then I encountered the below monster of an E9 coupé at Retro Classics in Stuttgart: I was not so much blown away by it’s 100,000 Euro price tag, but more so by it’s reportedly 700 brake horsepower. That’s more than three times what any road-going E9 had in period and I understand that this demands further modifications elsewhere. The amazing thing is that these were not that apparant:
The new panels were original CSL-parts, alloy and all, the suspension new Bilstein, the body strengthened with steel reinforcements inside and the interior custommade. Under the hood the change to the more modern S38-engine and a whopping large turbocharger was apparant, of course – but it was in reality the only thing seeming out of period on the car.
To my eyes though, this was one totally ruined BMW E9. Using up original alloy panels on a bastard like this? An absolute no-go. Even though the work actually seemed to have been done to a high standard.
Anyway things were about to get worse.
BMW never built an open version of the E9. Probably wise as it was not that solid a structure anyway. But open cars have an eternal attraction and one owner apparantley felt the need for an open E9 – and made one. And there it was at Retro Classics.
Actually, it was not far from working as the shape was surprisingly coherent. Yet open versions of a car whose design is very much defined by its roofline and A and C pillars will of course never work as well as the original.
But at least it was not BAD. I thought – until I looked into the cabin and found horror of horrors: This was even more modified than the bodywork – and not for the better either.
I am sure the offender would claim the interior was “upgraded”, but the correct word would rather be “degraded”. The replacement of the original and supremely elegant interior with something much more chunky out of a newer BMW (I guess a 745i like the drivetrain) had the effect of making the car appear like a fat man in much too tight clothing. While that is never a nice sight, it was in fact even worse in car terms. I simply can not grasp what the offenders were trying to achieve here.
To make matters worse, both body and paint were in a rather poor state and to my eyes the car just didn’t have much going for it at all. Reportedly it had done 300,000 kilometers since the conversion. I suppose that means it works, but either way: Does that justify such destruction? To my eyes the car as a whole was a zombie. Nonetheless it achieved more than 55,000 Euro in the auction. Truth be told, I don’t know whether the 700 HP Turbo-E9 – which we could call Frankenstein – actually sold for 100,000, but in some weird way it probably was worth double that of the zombie. Regardless, two ruined E9’s!
But in another freaky way, they would actually have made a fabulous couple and almost deserved to be sold to the same owner for an indefinate afterlife.
Anyway, after these two I realised that I really shouldn’t be that concerned about fitting gold-centered BBS alloys to my SLC…