Rupert Diss introduces us to his 1988 BMW 325i: 'it’s a part of me that car – I know every inch of it'
When cars gain value: 'I paid Dh50,000 for it and it's currently valued about Dh150,000'
Car depreciation seems an unavoidable fact of life in the UAE, so when your four-wheeled steed actually gains value, it is something to be roundly applauded – so it is with Dubai resident Rupert Diss’s immaculate 1988 BMW E30 325i, which he has owned for six years.
“I paid Dh50,000 for it and they’re currently valued about Dh150,000, so it’s tripled in value, which is nice,” the British expatriate says. “I like the fact that every day my car sits in the basement, comes out at weekends, and appreciates.”
He is unrepentant about his use of the 30-year-old Bimmer, which has a six-cylinder, 2.5-litre engine. It is a weekend ride to complement his daily driver, a Volkswagen Golf GTI. Any sign of bad weather will ensure that the 325i is confined to his basement parking.
Since arriving in Dubai in 1998 to work for an advertising agency representing Emirates Airline, Diss has indulged his love affair with cars, with the everything from a Fiat Barchetta to a Porsche 911 passing through his personal garage – but nothing, he says, comes close to his E30.
“I’ll tell you why it’s cult vehicle: that boxy 80s look with flared arches and minimalist sports attributes, M badges and spoilers and racing seats,” he enthuses. “It’s always been underpinned with a track-day sporting prowess. The M3 was the king of the track, but the 325 has the ability almost to be your daily driver, and also if you wanted to throw it round a track on a weekend, you really could.” Diss admits, though, that his car is far too “mollycoddled” to ever expose it such track shenanigans.
“I got lucky,” he recalls of its purchase. “A friend of mine saw it advertised on Dubizzle and knew I was really into the model. It’s a Japanese import. They’re very well-looked-after, low-mileage, prestige cars over there, so I knew I was on to a good thing. I found it in a garage almost like a barn find – it was covered in dust, never registered, and the poor guy had fallen on very bad times, so he had to sell it to pay some of his bills. It’s been a labour of love and a nurtured ‘second wife’ from that day on.”
Diss has resisted any urges to modify or upgrade the car, preferring to keep it as factory fresh as possible, using original parts and the expertise of German car specialists Munich Motor Works in Al Quoz. His regular mechanic, he says, looks forward to working on the three-decade-old car – it represents an oil-under-the-fingernails experience in an age where modern vehicles routinely require being hooked up to computers during servicing.
“The BMW, for me, represents that modern-classic chapter of motoring where I enjoy the driveability of it,” he says. “It’s no-electronic-gimmicks, real-time, real-feel motoring.
“The car gets many admiring glances. People have an affinity with that model. It was BMW’s turnaround time. The E30 followed the E21 [first-generation 3 Series], which didn’t do so well, and the company was in a bit of trouble. I have a lot of respect for the engineers who put that E30 together and, a bit like Mercedes, over-engineered it, completely. That’s testament to why there’s so many still on the road today. It’s something that’s captivated my interest.”
With many of those cars found in Europe, you won’t spy many of the E30, or second-generation, 3 Series navigating the UAE’s highways. Despite owning another example of the same model in the UK, Diss is adamant that he will take his Dubai version of the modern classic back home with him should he ever leave the UAE.
“Despite the fact that it’s left-hand drive, it would break my heart to sell it, and I would still import it back to the UK if I had permission to do so,” he says. “It’s a part of me that car – I know every inch of it.”