x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

German reliability

He drives one of Bavaria's finest, but this Abu Dhabi resident will be supporting the British F1 drivers tomorrow.

Robert Lindsay had his eye on an Infiniti before eventually buying a second-hand BMW 325. Previously, he's owned a couple of Audis, two Mercedes and a Porsche.
Robert Lindsay had his eye on an Infiniti before eventually buying a second-hand BMW 325. Previously, he's owned a couple of Audis, two Mercedes and a Porsche.

But for a late change of heart, the car pictured above could easily have been a luxury Japanese cruiser rather than the graphite-coloured BMW 325 saloon seen here. This particular piece of precision Bavarian engineering is owned by Robert Lindsay, a British resident of Abu Dhabi, who describes the 325 as simply "quite a handsome car". Having arrived in the capital from the United Kingdom a couple of years ago, Robert initially followed the typical hire car route, renting a Toyota Corolla, before briefly owning a Honda Civic and then, a few months later, picking up the 325. He admits he nearly bought an Infiniti G35 saloon before eventually opting for the BMW.

"I was also tempted by the Lexus IS300 as well. In the end, though, I bought the 325. I think I was swayed by the fact I had not owned a BMW before," he explains. "I wanted the six cylinders and the extra power. Its output is 218hp - which is a lot for a 2.5L engine and it's more than quick enough for me out here. Really, it's a nicely put together piece of kit." He bought it second-hand from the Abu Dhabi main dealer and, so far, he's had more than a year and a half's trouble-free motoring. "I haven't had to spend any money on it. When it came down to it, I wanted something totally reliable as well. Of course, I would have got that if I'd bought the G35 too, but my Germanic car instinct took me to BMW."

Previously, Robert has owned a couple of Audi Quattros, a pair of Mercedes, a Porsche and a MkII Volkswagen Golf GTi. Unsurprisingly, given his nationality, he's also got a soft spot for British sports cars and currently runs a big 1995 6.0L V12 Jaguar XJS when he is back in the UK.   "It's never skipped a beat and has done 133,000 miles. Sometimes, if I haven't used it for a bit, it struggles to pick up on all 12 cylinders, but it eventually gets there.

"It's a beautiful car inside, with a lovely walnut dash, lots of dials, and nice leather seats. I've spent a little bit of money on it to keep it going, but otherwise it's a great runner." Robert admits to having hankered after another "practical classic" when he first arrived in Abu Dhabi - an early 1990s Mercedes E500. "The E500 was totally unique when it was produced. It's the only time Porsche and Mercedes ever collaborated."

Little more than 10,000 examples were made by Mercedes between 1991 and 1995. The car used the W124 chassis together with a 5.0L engine and was badged as both an E500 and a 500E. It looks not dissimilar to a regular E-Class saloon of that period except, perhaps, for mildly bulging wheel arches. What sets these cars apart, however, is that derestricted examples could push on to a top speed close to 275kph.

"I've seen a couple here, including a dark blue one in Abu Dhabi," says Robert. "The E500 had Porsche mechanics on the brakes and a self-levelling suspension. They also had a fantastic torque range, developing maximum torque at 1,500 revs." He even went to see an E500 being sold in Sharjah in his early days in the UAE and says he was "very tempted as it was not that expensive," but, in the end, decided not to go ahead with the deal.

What if he happened upon that dark blue E500 once more in Abu Dhabi, would he think about making an offer for it? "Not now. I've got a very nice car and I'm going to stick with it. "I am not going to improve on the BMW if I change it for something else. All I'd be getting would be a different view from behind the wheel." However, given Robert's love of both British and German cars, I wonder who he will be supporting at the Grand Prix tomorrow and where he will be watching it?

"No contest. I will always support any British driver who's in contention, no matter what car he is in. "As for where I'll be when the race starts, I'm lucky enough to have a ticket for the big day and can't wait for the drama to unfold."