Back in August 2011, I waved farewell to my beloved Volkswagen Caddy van (affectionately known as Sudsy). I loved that van. However, it had got to a stage where I wasn’t getting the full use out of its hauling abilities and I yearned for something with more than two seats. Whatever I chose to replace Sudsy would have a lot of boxes to tick. First and foremost, it needed to be something remotely interesting and have potential for minor modifications down the line. It needed to be economical as I’ve often clocked up over 1,000KMs in a single weekend. Similarly, it also needed to be a comfortable cruiser with the ability dispatch long stints with ease. Anything else was a bonus. Read on after the break for more …
I spent countless hours researching my options – Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Honda, Volvo, Volkswagen & Skoda being the main contenders. Visiting various main dealers allowed me to experience each car and was a great step in helping me make my decision. In the end, one manufacturer won out over the others – BMW. Growing up I was never a big BMW fan. My father would often joke about the difference between a hedgehog and a BMW – with a hedgehog, the pricks are on the outside. However, every BMW I viewed was solid. Not perfect mind you, but solid. The quality and finish of each car was something that really impressed me even the salesmen were courteous and never tried to push anything on me.
Originally, I was searching for an E60 520D M Sport but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find one with reasonable mileage at a reasonable price. The reasoning behind a 2.0 diesel was mostly based around tax / insurance reasons and I couldn’t stretch my budget to a 2008 model to avail of the cheaper road tax. When a 2006 E90 320D M Sport popped up for sale in a Peugeot main dealer not even 30 miles away from me, I thought it would be rude to not take a look. The car had only just been listed and had not even been cleaned when I arrived to view it. With only 44,000 miles and a full BMW service history (the full spec list is at the bottom), the car commanded a strong price. The exterior was original, with only some minor stone chips on the front bumper and one or two parking scuffs spotted around the car. Mechanically, the car was absolutely on the button. Reading through its service history, all of the major faults that the E90s are known for had already been sorted so I knew I wasn’t looking at a lemon.
On the advice of my father, I made a comically low offer to the dealership in the hope that these being tough times, they wouldn’t turn down a sale. They didn’t. Deposit paid, a six month warranty obtained and the car was mine.
Before I had even collected the car, I knew what direction I was taking it in. I didn’t want to go overboard with the modifications, rather I wanted to just try to improve on the original package. The OEM 17″ 194M alloy wheels were replaced with BBS LM Style 19″ rims measuring 9.5J at the rear and 8.5J up front. I wanted to avoid putting the car on coilover type suspension as I wanted to retain the ride comfort. Researching my options, the Eibach Federn Pro Kit was the recommended choice amongst owners and enthusiasts. By replacing the factory springs for the Eibach items, we successfully lowered the vehicle whilst retaining the original comfortable ride.
Next on my to-do list was some preventative maintenance. The mid to early noughties diesel BMWs were prone to swirl flap failure. The flap which modulated the amount of in-cylinder swirl would often break apart and be ingested into the combustion chamber where it would wreak havoc with the engine’s internals. This neat solution by PMW Ltd. in the UK, replaced the swirl flaps with pressed aluminium blanking plates. They offer two sizes, 22mm & 32mm. Since neither myself nor PMW were certain which size I required, I purchased both sets with the option to return the incorrect size for a refund. As it turned out, the N47T2 engine uses the smaller 22MM blanking plates.
The interior remains unmodified as it’s pretty much perfect the way it is. Perhaps a set of BMW Performance aluminium pedals in the future?
The exterior is where I believed a less is more approach could work wonders in freshening up the look of the car. SSDD Motorsport in the UK was my first port of call where I ordered black grilles …
… a carbon fibre lip spoiler …
… a pair of carbon fibre corner splitters and a set of LED rear license plate bulbs.
I also changed the stock rear lights for a pair of M-Style LED brake lights …
… and their smoked side repeaters.
One of my personal favourite modifications has been the Umnitza P90 Projector headlamps with Predator Orion V2 LED Angel Eyes.
It has all started to come together recently and I’m really happy with how it has progressed (especially when looking back at photos of the car from when it was new so to speak)
Since these photographs have been taken, the front and rear bumpers along with the rear passenger side door have been painted to repair the stone chips and parking incidents described earlier. Next on the to-do list is a full paint correction detail with the good folks at CleanCar.ie and maybe a BBK upgrade in the near future …
2006 BMW 320D M Sport
475M Black Sapphire Metallic
M Sport Aerodynamics Package
BMW Individual High Gloss Satin Chrome
Park Distance Control
Colour Coded Bodywork
SSDD Motorsport Black Stealth Grilles
SSDD Motorsport Carbon Fibre Corner Splitters
SSDD Motorsport Carbon Fibre Lip Spoiler
SSDD Motorsport LED Registration Plate Bulbs
Dakota Black Leather
Multifunction M Sport Leather Steering Wheel
M Sport Seats for Driver & front Passenger
Aluminum Interior Trim
BMW Professional Radio
Mobile Phone Cradle with Bluetooth Interface
Interior and Exterior Mirrors with Automatic Anti-Dazzle Function
Automatic Air Conditioning
Preparation for CD Changer
BMW Individual Headliner Anthracite
Wheels & Suspension
M Sport Suspension
Eibach Federn Pro Kit
BBS LM Style Alloy Wheels – Front: 19×8.5 ET35 – Rear: 19×9.5 ET25
Federal 595 Evos – Front: 225/40/19 – Rear: 255/35/19
OEM Lights Package
OEM Fog Lights
Umnitza P90 Projector Headlamps
Predator Orion V2 LED Angel Eyes
M-Style LED Brake Lights
M-Style Smoked Side Repeaters
Thanks to …
Teddy at SSDD Motorsport
Paul at M-Style UK
Paul at Auto Alloys Northern Ireland
Larry at CleanCar.ie
Martin at Wexican Motorsport
Bolands BMW Waterford