Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Car of The Week: BMW 3 Series

Last week BMW built the 10 millionth 3 Series, so to celebrate the abundance of mid size Beemer's out there I felt this weeks car had to be the one of those 10 million. And thankfully with so many out there BMW ownership no longer means breaking the bank either, here's my very brief run down on why you should buy one.
BMW workers celebrate the 10 millionth 3 series

Choices, choices 

Previously, in the very early days of this blog I did actually feature the M3, BMW's all conquering sports variant of the 3, however today in the spirit of budget motoring it's the lesser powered but equally engaging smaller engined models I've been looking at. Available in 4 door sedan, wagon, coupe, convertible and even chopped hatch back flavour there should be a 3 to suit any need. And with a lineage stretching back to 1975 over 6 generations picking a budget 3 Series can cater for someone who wants a classic as well as a reliable daily. Personally the Coupe and rarer wagon's of the E30/E36 generations are the cars that get my vote as being that little bit more unique amongst the millions, they stand out more.
Classic boxy BMW design for the 90's E36 3 series

2002 saw Australia get the E46 3 series wagon

E36 coupe, a personal favourite of mine

More choices 

Engine sizes vary in the 3, from a 316i (a 1.6 litre in case you hadn't figured) that would struggle to pull the skin of a bowl of custard to torque rich 3 litre straight sixes, again the 3 really does offer many options. In the sub $5000 price mark though the most abundant 3 is the 318i. Not the quickest engine BMW have ever built but certainly the most popular, meaning parts are relatively abundant for what is on the whole a pretty strong engine. I've driven a well maintained E36 318i that was pushing 245,000kms and it felt strong, but more on that in a later blog.

E46 Compact was another slightly quirky 3 series variant, one which is getting increasingly cheaper

Go get yourself one

Second hand 3 Series BMW's are in such abundance picking one out this week is almost an impossibility, my best advice would be to just get online, bash in your criteria and see for yourself! Sounds like a cop out but seriously the 3 is a supremely engineered bit of rear wheel drive kit so just look for one with good history and a spec you like.

However if I had to choose one and I was anywhere remotely near Padbury in WA, the car opposite tickles my fancy. For starters it's a manual coupe, it looks respectable in the pictures has had a recent service and overall the seller sounds honest. Barter the price down a bit and you've got yourself a lovely (almost) classic BMW.

1998 BMW 318is Coupe, $4500

Normal service will resume

Full, detailed, car of the week service will be resumed in a couple of weeks, but with the parents visiting from "Bonny" Scotland for the first time at the moment scouring the interwed for Australia's hidden second hand gems has taken a back seat.              

Photo Credit: australiancar.reviews

Monday, 7 September 2015

Car of the Week: Chrysler 300C

Last week I changed my blogs theme a little, deciding I would feature cars that I found worthy or interesting even if they weren't European. So this week see's my first break from tradition, the impossibly "boss" Chrysler 300C.
The Chrysler 300C is an imposing car

Not all American

Built in Austria from Mercedes bits you can tell with the 300C that I'm easing into this non Euro thing! However styling wise, there is no denying the 300 is all American; low roof, narrow windows and pumped wheel arches, painted black the 300C looks like it drove straight out the pages of a comic book. Pure gangster, there is no question this Chrysler has presence on the road.

Under the bonnet

Some of the engine choice was suitably American too, with a 250kw 5.7 litre HEMI V8 offered from launch this engine spawned a 317kw 6.1 litre unit in the 2006 SRT-8 variant, just in case you wanted more power. For people who wear sensible pants though there was also a 3.5 V6 petrol available or a Mercedes sourced 3 litre V6 turbo diesel. All the engines have a more than adequate power output of course, with the diesel still making 160kw and 510Nm of torque.
5.7 litres of HEMI baby

Comfort is another thing the 300C does very well, for long distance cruising and sweeping back roads the big Chrysler makes for excellent company however that American stereotype of bad handling rings true if the road gets even remotely technical. Road tests reported that the 300C got easily flustered when the going just got slightly tough and that the light steering didn't do much to in still confidence behind the wheel.
Sweeping roads, where the 300C feels at home

Sweeping roads, where the 300C feels at home

See that rain cloud? That's as a direct result of a 5.7 litre HEMI

What's it like inside?

Inside things are plush and the car was generously kitted from standard with electric memory heated seats, xenon lights, cruise control, duel zone climate control, parking sensors and a decent sound system. Despite the leather surrounds though don't expect quality as once again it is a product of mid noughties throwaway America, plastics will be cheap and scratchy and switchgear flimsy and light. But never mind, you'll be spending too much time intimidating people with its looks rather than fussing over interior quality.
Inside things are plush but likely cheap in feel

A very comfy place to sit

Chrysler 300C came with a lot of standard kit

The Chrysler 300C, affordable American muscle

Chrysler's 300C; big, bold and ever so slightly in your face. The interior might be a what's what in cheap plastic and there's a good chance it will get scared by a tight right hander but you you'll struggle to get modern American muscle for less.

Go get yourself one

2006 Chrysler 300C for sale My first American meant I had to go big for this weeks pick of the classifieds didn't I? So while sensible diesels can be had for under $15,000 today I felt only a full phat 5.7 litre HEMI 300C would do. For a little over $16k this blacked out beauty sitting on 22's could be yours, with rego until Feb and relatively low 183,000km's this car looks like it's been someone's pride and joy and now it could be yours!

2006 Chrysler 300C 5.7 HEMI, $16450


Sunday, 6 September 2015

Feature: Cars and Coffee Byron Bay

Cars and coffee, two things Australians appear to like. So imagine an event that encouraged the gawking of one and the drinking of the other? Well for four increasingly successful months an event in the beautiful Byron Bay has been doing exactly that, enticing all manner of interesting vehicles out of their garages and sheds all over the region. I've had a chat to organiser of the aptly named Cars and Coffee Byron Bay, Chris, to find out exactly what it is all about.
Cars and Coffee Byron Bay Sunday 14th September

Where did the idea for Cars and Coffee come from?
Events such as this have been running for many years in the United States. Australia has recently started the same concept, however the events are limited to most capital cities.   Living in Byron Bay has the one disadvantage of distance from these already operating events. So, I decided to spread the word and get as many enthusiasts together to meet, share the passion, take drives through the hinterland and generally spend time together.

What sort of cars have come along to date/ who's welcome?
So far we have had cars, motorcycles, kombis - even a caravan. The main “criteria” is for the car or bike to be interesting. My definition of  “interesting” for the benefit of my 6 year old son is “a car which makes you look at it again while walking away”. We’ve had a strong selection of Porsches, from the early long hoods right up to modern 911's. BMW, Mercedes, VW Kombis have all featured too as have Aston Martins, Alfa Romeos and Japanese brands such as Mazda, Datsun and Honda. Not forgetting the homegrown muscle cars from Ford, Holden and Chrysler have made a showing.

Everything is welcome, Bentlays, Mazda's, BMW's, Skyline GTR's, Beetles and Kombi's

What's been your favourite car to show up to date?
One is too hard to choose. From the last event, my favourite was easily the 6 Austin Healys. All from the local area. Another was the genuine Porsche 356 Speedster in immaculate condition. But, hey, can't go far past the 1972 Porsche 911.

6 fine Austin Healy's

What's next for cars and coffee Byron?
Cars and Coffee Byron Bay Road Trips are coming soon. Spend a few hours, a whole day or a weekend with other enthusiasts as we travel the roads of Northern NSW and Queensland. Stopping at great cafes, fine dining and luxurious accommodation where needed.

Mazda RX3 Coupe

How can somebody get involved? Where, when etc
Its pretty simple to join in. All you need is something interesting. Then just come along to The Farm at Byron Bay from 8.30 until 10.30 on the second Sunday of each month. Entry is free and by just coming you might win one of two vouchers from The Three Blue Ducks and O-Sushi.
Classic's from Japan and a Ford Cortina
Classic's from Japan and a Ford Cortina
Classic's from Japan and a Ford Cortina

And lastly what would be your dream car?
Just one? Would have to be a 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS.
Motorbikes, minis and Aston Martins, everything's welcome
Motorbikes, minis and Aston Martins, everything's welcome

So there we go, all you need to know about Cars and Coffee Byron Bay from the organiser himself. Come along for a fun family morning with a bite to eat and a cup of coffee, of course. The next event is Sunday 14th September at The Farm on Ewingsdale Road.

Photo credit: Facebook