After a couple of weeks in storage, it was time to break out the E23. The weather’s been holding steady, so a blustery 48 degree day is the perfect weather for a classic BMW. But then I remembered…the windows don’t work. That’s why I put it away in the first place! Time flies when you’re chasing parts, doesn’t it?
I picked up the black, 84 733i earlier this year and after an initial valve adjustment and transmission service, it’s been running fantastic. There are still some things on the punch list, but this has become a way better occasional driver than I ever expected.
In the past, I’ve never really named cars, but today the name Boris entered my head, driving through the countryside, because when I called Pam to let her know where I was, (and what I was driving) she said, “Oh, the Russian diplomat car.” Interestingly, another friend told me about his days of being driven to school in one of these by his father’s driver when he went to grade school in Munich. Dad worked for Deutsche Bank. Somehow this car just seems to command a bit of authority and respect.
Pondering how to get the windows back up and operational, while Boris and I were tooling along, I couldn’t help but notice just how damn smooth this car drives, 35 years later. With only 209k on the odometer, I have a funny feeling Boris and I are going to get old together. In the middle of nowhere, I ease the speedometer up to 100 mph. Don’t send any hate mail, there was no one for miles, not even a cow in sight, so the only one in danger was me.
Sheer mechanical perfection. For the few minutes I hummed along at 100 mph, I wondered what it was like to drive one of these, brand new, freshly broken in, on the German Autobahn – every day. There’s a reason that these motors have such a reputation.
Slowing back to sub light (and legal) speed, the car feels even quieter. Someone at Petrolicious said that “after driving an E23, an E30 feels like a soap box derby car,” or something to that effect. I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but unlike today’s BMWs where they just feel like small, medium and large bread loaves, risen from the same batch of dough, there is a definite step up in creature comfort from the 3 to the 7. Even more when comparing the E23 to my E21. Wow.
Close to home, a gentleman looking much younger than me pulls up in a new 7. He rolls down the window, smiles and says, “nice car.” Somehow that makes owning one of these even more enjoyable. One doesn’t always have to spend six figures on a car to get respect.
After about 30 minutes chasing down a number of wrong paths, a lightbulb disguised as an idea goes off – read that owners’ manual I just chased down on Ebay! There it was in section 2; the E21 features a circuit breaker for the windows – there is no fuse in the fuse box for the windows on this car. It’s a small rocker switch on the underside of the dash, to the right of the steering wheel, under the fog lamp switch. This is not to be confused with the small, square switch on the console that disables the rear window switches in the rear doors.
Fortunately, I just hit the breaker with my knee at some point and that triggered the problem. A quick reset and the windows are back to working perfectly again. But if I hadn’t read the manual, I probably would have “troubleshooted” my way through about $200 worth of parts before figuring it out. Whew!
As I close the garage door on Boris, I make a mental note that in addition to getting a new relay box cover, maybe it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to just replace all the relays under the cover. They all look original, so that’s just a problem waiting to happen.
But I definitely think we are going to get old together.