Photography by Scott Paterson @scottpatersonphoto
I will be the first to admit, before buying my Touring, I was never a “BMW Guy” I was too busy restoring two Classic Mini’s with my father at the time. It wasn’t until I found, my now good friend, Alex McArthur’s 328i Sport Touring on StanceWorks in 2009/10. It all changed after that. Back then, Alex’s Touring was super low on staggered Style 5’s and it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I made the tough decision to part with the Mini’s, using the money to pay for the Touring and my first year of insurance.
I knew I wanted a 6 cylinder, manual, relatively low miles and the colour didn’t matter too much, as long as it wasn’t Boston Green. After a few months of looking, the car you see before you showed up not too far away. A completely standard, 323i SE in Titan Silver. Being this would be my first car and at 19, I didn’t want to attract too much un-wanted attention, so the plan was to keep it subtle and not too flashy with an OEM+ approach.
I was working part time at a body shop along the road from my house and shortly after, the car was in for paint. I had a full M Sport kit from a 3.2 M3 Evo to go on, I also had the arches rolled at the same time. Once the body work was sorted, I fitted some coilovers and a set of Staggered 17” Style 32’s and was super happy with the look. I gradually dialled the ride height as well as other things on the car.
A year or two later, I took a job just north of London, 450 miles from my current place. The Touring was stored for a year as I got another Touring to daily instead. Before finally moving the Touring to London, I went back to the bodyshop with it and with my father, replaced both the sills, shaved the side indicators as well as shaving and relocating the washer jets and tidying up a few rough edges that showed up after driving it through the winter.
After I was finally happy with the bodywork again, I set about fitting my dream wheels - E31 M System 2 or Throwing Stars as they’re most commonly called. I spent a lot of time getting them to look as good as I possibly could, I had the covers finished in Titan Silver with micro rainbow flake. I ordered some BC Coilovers with some custom spring rates, but I have modified them a little bit, to get it sitting just how I want. I am trying to track down some M System Turbine covers, to hopefully complete the look.
Over the last year I’ve accidentally spent most of my time on the Interior. I managed to source and fit a lot of Extended Leather parts, so the centre console/arm rest, glove-box, drivers side kick panel and door cards are all leather – It is quite a stark contrast to the grey cloth it had as standard. I re-trimmed the M Sport headlining in new black material, as the one I got started to sag – That combined with all the extra leather, really makes it a nice place to sit. There’s still a few bits yet to find, however I am having thoughts about changing up the colour, as the black tends to get a little lost.
I’ve also replaced most of the exterior trim from BMW. I think I just have the window rubbers left to do and a few little bits on the rear.
As far as future plans go, I just want to enjoy the car. I don’t plan on selling it, so the “To-do” list is about as long as my arm, I’m always doing little bits here and there, so I am happy for that just to continue. I’d just like to extend a quick wee thanks to Alex McArthur and Bastien Bochmann, without their advice and knowledge on Touring’s, I probably wouldn’t have mine. So thanks lads. And a thanks to my father as well, who’s been helping me ever since I got in to cars, his patience and willingness (sometimes un-willingness) to help has been amazing.
In September of 1989, one of the most unique BMW's to this day was unveiled to the world. The E31 8 Series was created to be a flagship model that would surpass the E24 6 Series and to directly compete with the Mercedes Benz S-class coupes. It was a car that looked like nothing else in BMW's lineup, yet it fit in perfectly. There were so many distinct features like pop-up headlights, narrow grills, M-style mirrors and those boxy fenders that slightly resembled those on the E30 M3. We can't forget the V8 and V12 engine options either. It's like a drivable time capsule containing some of the greatest things found on BMW's produced in the late 80's through early 90's.
Even as a kid, Robin took notice to the uniqueness of this vehicle. A friend of his father's stopped by their house with his 850i, Robin ran out to the car and yelled "Look daddy! It has four exhaust pipes!" His dad got him a yellow 850 CSi in 1:18 scale for a birthday present that year. That was one of his favorite, most memorable gifts ever.
Robin saw a photo of two 840's in a magazine when he was about 16-17 years old. They looked exactly like his yellow 850 (with the CSi-package) but they were red. Both were equipped with a V8 and a manual transmission. Even though at that time he was really into the muscle car scene, he found himself locking onto a new dream car.
He bought an E36 325 coupe with M-package when he got his driver's license. After he got a job and had put away some cash for something more fun, he started to search for a mint M3. He looked at several but none were up to his standard. So he started to think of the red 840's again, he found the old magazine with the picture and eventually got in contact with one of the owners. He let Robin come over to check the car out, even though he didn't want to sell it. There were only 479 E31's made equipped with a V8 and manual transmission, (1510 made of the CSi in comparison). The two from the magazine were the only ones in Sweden. He went home, feeling the same way he did as a kid. They were simply dream cars.
Eventually that 840 was sold back to the original owner in Germany. So only one was left in Sweden. Robin called the owner, who just laughed at him when Robin told him that he wanted to buy the car. The man was a BMW collector, a true enthusiast with many nice models. He wanted to let Robin come take a look at it knowing how badly he wanted the mint 840. After the collector sold his E28 M5 he no longer owned any more M-cars, so the only model he would consider swapping his 840 for was of course the CSi. He knew of a CSi that might be for sale and luckily it was. So he bought it and Robin was finally able to buy his dream car.
2016 is the 5th summer of Robin owning the E31. He just drove it as is the first two summers. It previously sat on H&R lowering springs with hand polished one-piece AC Schnitzers (18x8.5/10). Then the stance scene had affected his opinion of the setup and left him with a desire for larger wheels. Robin found a guy that restored 3-piece wheels and wanted to order a set of Hartge Design C's. He didn't have any, but he did have a set of AC Schnitzer Type 1's in 18" that needed some love. Over the winter, the car had to go lower so Robin swapped the H&R's for KAW springs. It still wasn't low enough, but it was never an option to drive it as low as he really wanted because of the risk of damaging the car. With the CSi bumper it's like a sitting duck, so air suspension came to mind. However he figured that would be very expensive, especially the systems with height sensors that he would want. After a few months of searching he found a guy that had the parts he needed. Air Lift Performance universal struts, bellows for the rear and an Accuair system, all of which weren't even unpacked yet and he only asked for half of retail price. With the welding expertise of his brother in law, a lot of measuring and custom made parts, he suddenly had a bagged E31. The response he received at shows and meetings was crazy.
The wheels were still not wide enough, so he ordered wider lips for the rear wheels and took the old rears and moved them up front. They're now 18x9.75/11.75". He didn't like the big license plate holder on the front bumper so he removed it and made a mold in the cnc at work and cast a strip out of fiberglass. It took a lot of sanding and a couple layers of paint then mounted it on the car. The overall look of the front was much cleaner. A custom stainless exhaust with x-pipe was made so the V8 under the hood could be heard better.
Besides upgrading the sound system, the only other thought he's considered was an S62 taking the place of the old M60. Other than that, Robin's very satisfied with the car.
But whatever happened to that yellow CSi he received as a kid? Well it's long gone but now he has a replica of his own 840 in 1:18 scale. He even painted the interior black and mounted the wheels. You can check out more of Robin's E31 on his instagram: @keckonen