Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Not the plate this time, but the car

Some things are weird.

While my occasional wanders into Glasgow mean I’m getting used to seeing PHEVs (plug in hybrid electric vehicles) quietly charging on the city’s streets (yet never once to be seen on a charger in the burbs), I can only count one neighbour’s Leaf, and one Tesla Model S that took me by surprise as it passed me at Parkhead, as the only real EV (electric vehicle) sightings, until the past week or so.

Suddenly, it’s “i3s, i3s everywhere!”.

A week ago, one surprised me as it came out of a pub car park (full of football supporters).

And in the past couple of days, two walks into Glasgow netted at least another four more, usually moving, but the one below was parked.

I was a little surprised to see this was a 2015 plate. While I haven’t really been paying close attention (much as I might like one, an EV is not within current budget plans), most of the mentions I’ve come across for this car have been from the other side of the pond, and based on US buyers (they are way way ahead in this respect).

Interestingly, EVs come with ‘magic’ installed as standard. For example, one of the i3s I came across was stopped on one of our steeper hills, pointing uphill at traffic lights. While the ‘normal’ vehicles  generally did their usual ‘hill start’, EVs just don’t care, and the electric motor controller just holds them stationary with static motor torque, no real effort needed by the driver – who just presses the pedal to move off when desired. No drama, no throttle/brake/clutch juggling, no sliding backwards.

BMW i3 EV

BMW i3 EV

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October 7, 2017 Posted by | photography, Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Neeb’s wheels 11

Spotted hiding ‘In the wild’ a while ago, this may not be one of the possible super cars some of my neighbour’s try to intimidate me with, but I would have to say that I’m rather impressed by this one. Dating from 2006, this blue BMW 525D M Sport A baulks the usual trend of not keeping a car for more than a few years.

While I’ve been in the position of being obliged to change my car every few years, with no option to retain it as the company policy is frequent renewal, I prefer to keep one I like, and look after it.

The treatment some of those cars, only a year or two old at most, got from the drivers was pathetic, and the manufacturer usually carried the can and bore the cost of their neglect and abuse. Having seen this first hand, I often wonder at the accuracy of many negative reports about some makes.

This one has lived along the road from me for years, yet I have no idea just what the significance of 234 GFJ means to the owner.

 

2016BMW525[234 GFJ]

2016 BMW 525 [234 GFJ]

September 17, 2017 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

The Illegals – AB11 LTN

I have to confess I wasn’t really sure what this was supposed to be (and my original guess was wrong).

But as you’ll see in the comments, we got lucky this time, and it seems we don’t have to rely on my imagination. I wonder what the odds are that anyone who might actually own something featured in here might also happen to look in, or spot the relevant post?

(And now you also know why I keep my posts polite… unless you are an orange moron and your name is Trump).

I don’t normally allow identification online, but when someone adds the info, and we can thank Alan Bilton for the update.

I wish someone would come along with a ladder one day, and fix that PDSA sign on the lamppost. Sorry about the focus, but it was a grey and grimy day when I grabbed this one.

It’s been pointing the OPPOSITE way from the actual PDSA centre for years – I think it’s loose, as it sometime points in different directions when its windy.

BMW M135I  Auto [AB11 LTN]

Grey BMW M135I Auto [AB11 LTN]

June 18, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , | 2 Comments

That’s clean – 1993 BMW convertible

While it doesn’t fall into my usual “Neeb’s Wheel” category, I don’t think I can leave this rather nicely looked after blue BMW 318i Lux A convertible I spotted during a wander around the local streets.

BMW 318i Convertible 1993

BMW 318i Convertible 1993

This really caught my eye because it is almost identical to the one my then boss at the time bought for his wife (just to give her a company car and a wage to justify the hour or two she spent in the office).  Notably, hers was tricked up with ‘M’ badges and matching trim, but I think this one looks better with those Alpina wheels and wide rubber filling the arches.

Hers also had a second ‘keyhole’ below the normal one under the door handle – while the car may not have been a real ‘M’ it was still fitted with most of the top of the range options, and cost a packet at the time, as BMW extras were never cheap.

That keyhole was a factory alarm/immobiliser which required and electronic key to be inserted and removed before the car was unlocked – I wouldn’t say it was unreliable, but it was overly keen, and I found myself having to fiddle with, and kill it on more than one occasion.

The other surprise, given the cost of the car, was the poor quality of that soft-top. It had no lining, so sitting in the car with it up felt more like sitting in a giant pram, with all the spokes etc exposed. Nor did it offer any insulation, and the car was as noisy with it up as with it down. But it was seldom down, and was a clunky manual thing.

By way of stunning contrast, I had a Saab 9-3 convertible a few years later – what a gem it was in comparison.

First, it was a completely automatic hydraulically operated roof, other than the manual front lock, it went up and down in a few seconds at the push (or pull) of a button.

And secondly, the quality was superb. From the inside, with the roof up, it looked just a normal hardtop, as there was a clever lining that pulled into place and hid all the works. In addition, it was also loaded with soundproofing, and this made it as quiet as a hardtop – and that Saab was an eerily quiet car too.

On the other hand, I recall meeting a 318is on the road in North Wales, and that extra little ‘s’ made a real difference, and I watched it squirt past me in short order, then disappear along the road.

I stand to be corrected, but from my own experience I think the engine BMW was using in x18 models of that era was a surprisingly potent lump. I had to use a colleague’s 518se for some cross-country jaunts along A and B roads, and soon became surprised by that large (and loaded) car’s acceleration. I had expected it to be a big lumbering snail – but it wasn’t.

June 2, 2017 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

The Illegals – EG06 ONE

Having seen the zeal with which the English Police Interceptors (seen on TV) seem to pull over illegally formed registrations/number plates, it seems very much to a casual observer that Police Scotland don’t see this as an offence worth dealing with on this side of the border.

I have a little collection of such plates, so might as well share.

BMW 640d M Sport Auto convertible.

Illegal spacing:

BMW 640d M Sport Auto Convertible [EG06 ONE]

BMW 640d M Sport Auto Convertible [EG06 ONE]

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Neeb’s wheels 6

A slightly different Neeb’s wheels observation this time, in fact, no pictures at all.

Since I am going to be somewhat negative, and this really is a neighbour, I don’t want risk upsetting anyone.

Prior to the set of wheels I am actually going to comment on, the relevant driveway was occupied by one of the latest BMW 6 series offerings. While this was nice, it was also very anonymous. Black usually brings out a car and make it sleek, but this one was very plain for some reason I never figured out. I’ve seen others, and they were more eye-catching. But this one just seemed to be missing ‘something’. Don’t read that wrong, it looks very nice, but there’s just something missing.

BMW 6 4 door

Maybe the problem was the body, being a 4-door (which is not a real coupé) or because it wasn’t a convertible.

However, the problem went away, but was to be replaced by something even worse – a white BMW 5GT.

Seriously, I never thought I’d say it, that a BMW was verging on the ugly, but if ever there was one, 5GT would be it.

I’d never seen one in the metal prior to this one arriving recently, but had seen plenty of pics, and followed its release and arrival in China, so I thought I knew the shape, and what to expect.

Wrong!

Usually, iffy car shapes look worse in flat 2D photographs that fail to show of the body lines the designer places to emphasise the shape, but can spring into life when you see them in the metal, and the full 3D effect reveals the intended line as envisaged by the designer.

The 5GT reverses this principle and looks a whole lot better in its pics than it does in person, on the road and physically sitting in front of the observer.

The X5 may be a large shed of a 4×4 or SUV- but it’s an elegant shed that manages to remain pleasing to the eye, and commands ‘presence’.

The 5GT… seriously, just has dreadful proportions, and it’s hard to see why someone would replace a nice 4-door 6 series with one of these lumps.

For once, I’m glad to say I’m not alone in this, as the following review reveals:

I’m not alone, as a review from across the pond summed things up by saying:

Honestly, I can think of few recent cars as reviled as the 5-Series GT. Instead of giving us Americans the vaunted 5-Series Touring wagon, BMW brought us this bloated minivan-hatchback thing. Why do they hate us so much?

Okay, so it’s goofy-looking. But is it all bad? Totally not, says John Davis, even if calls it “lumpy” at one point. This MotorWeek clip (the one above) from a few years ago finds it to be a spacious, well-equipped, solid handling and relatively quick luxury machine.

In essence, it’s a real 5-Series. Just not a pretty one.

Pity they didn’t leave them all in the US, and just left us all the Touring Wagons. I now have to look at the white thing until my neeb’s lease it up (24 or even 36 months), or he gets out of it (hopefully for something better.)

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Neeb’s wheels 3

Not quite a genuine Neeb’s wheels catch, at least I don’t think so, the BMW Cabrio seen below was caught while visiting a nearby house, so I took the chance of nipping out to catch it, having not noticed it before, or since.

Listed as a 1993 BMW 3 Convertible Lux A with a 1796 cc engine, this E30 series car reminds me of the one my former boss bought for his wife… oops, did I say that out loud? I meant, this reminds of the company car our company’s personnel officer drove, and we saw for a few hours when she turned up to mark everyone present or absent, and work out their wages.

While it looked very nice from the outside, the interior was relatively primitive, with the inside of the convertible roof resembling a cheap pram. It seemed to have no lining or soundproofing, while all the mechanism was exposed. I never saw it down, and could never find out if it was manual or powered. Inside the car, I could see it was quite poorly finished and fitted, with gaps big enough to see through while sitting in the car, and the lack of any soundproofing or lining making it a pretty noisy place to be when the car was on the road.

The car came with a peculiar factory-fitted immobiliser, intended to protect the car when the roof was down, but it seemed to be of similar quality to the roof. I seem to recall the BMW service car (fortunately this service was included in the car’s price) was a frequent caller at out premises, as she frequently inserted the special key into the door (needed as well as the standard key) only to find it was ignored, the car stayed locked, or would not start when the door opened.

I’d have to say that despite appearances, this car was a disaster and seemed to be no fun. At least not in that hands of that particular owner, on whom I think it was wasted, and she might as well have been given a shopping trolley, for all the use she made of it. It even had M-series badges and fittings added pre-delivery – but a quick look under the bonnet showed this was all fake even if it was fitted by BMW, as they forgot the main part, an M-series engine.

By way of contrast, a Saab 9-3 convertible I had a few years later was a gem. The hydraulic roof looked after itself without fuss, and I was most surprised at how effective the lining and soundproofing were. Once raised, there was little or nothing to show internally that the roof folded, and the quietness of the interior was uncanny. Just to rub salt into the wound, there was nothing wrong with Saab’s handling either, something I would not have believed had I not been the one driving it.

That’s not to say I would turn down such a BMW if the opportunity arose. The insults generally levelled in their direction may be true as regards the drivers who have come to covet them nowadays, such has been the company’s success, but the cars are not the drivers, and the cars remain rewarding for the correct owner/driver.

BMW cabriolet

1993 E30 BMW 3 Convertible Lux A 1796 cc

Update

Never seen it before, now seen it twice.

Went whizzing past me with the roof down, while I was wobbling home from the shops in the sudden burst of sunshine we enjoyed today.

June 12, 2013 Posted by | photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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