£20. That’s all it cost to get a brand new car. You might have read in the magazine that the world’s sweariest gearbox guru fixed my 5-series' gearbox. It wasn’t quite as simple as that because he is the busiest bloke in the world and with just the one ramp you have to catch a ‘slot’. So when he called and told me to get there in twenty minutes, I wasn’t going to make any excuses.
Being a guru, of course, he doesn’t live anywhere normal or even locatable by sat nav. After twenty minutes of driving blindfold and listening to a replay of his instructions on the cassette deck I found myself in a cowshed in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere. It was very Dickensian, complete with Bob Cratchett-like assistant, who darted underneath my car and took a plug out of the gearbox and watched in amazement as nothing dripped out.
Yes, I’d been running on empty for some time, but no lasting damage was done. My 525i sucked up the oil hungrily and since then I’ve had shunt-free gearchanges. I wanted to take a picture of my motor on a ramp but they said if I did they would have to kill me. Then feed me to their pigs. And they weren’t joking.
The next problem was always going to cost more than £20.
What were BMW and Jaguar for that matter thinking of back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, producing metric wheels? The last quote I had for a metrically inclined tyre was £180. So I found a set of imperial alloys on Ebay and told the seller I wasn’t going to play silly bidders. I told him what I wanted to pay and he said fine. He took ‘em off the nation’s favourite auction site and I picked them up. Then I could buy some nice new tyres at just over £50 a corner. So for £320 in all I’ve got a brand new car that handles brilliant and no longer shuffles and shunts. All I need to do now is clean it.