An inspection of Hammond's £6k 850CI | Top Gear
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
  • You may remember that Richard and Jeremy had a bet on the show. Would seven thousand pounds - enough to buy a brand-new Nissan Pixo - be better spent on some rather more exotic, if old, metal?

    Jeremy's CL600 quickly racked up a four-figure repair bill, but Richard's venerable 8-Series BMW has yet to develop a problem...

    This roused our suspicion. Has Top Gear done the unthinkable? Has Top Gear done something... well?

    This demanded further investigation. So, while the TV boys were in a Very Important Meeting, we pinched the 850CI's keys, grabbed the closest camera then took for it a crafty inspection.

    Click forth for our discoveries. Some were good. Some weren't.

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  • Looks alright, doesn't it? That's because it is. Kind of. Rust and dents are curiously absent, though the nosecone leaves a lot to be desired. Like not being made out of filler or held together with a staple.

  • Though that's probably the worst of the bodywork woes. There should be a grill here, too.

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  • But the doors are remarkably rust-free. As are the wheelarches, wings and bonnet.

  • We may know why. Colossal amounts of overspray on these plastic wiring insulators point to a recent paint job. As does the under-the-arches nosecone repair, come to think of it.

  • We had a quick prod at the exhaust, too, but it looked pretty new...

  • ...which is largely because it is. A rummage through the service history - which included lots of interesting call sheets from breakdown recovery services - revealed it'd had a new 'un a few years ago.

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  • All the lights still work. And the pop-up mechanism operated without any nasty grinding noises. Less so the brakes, which have definitely seen better days.

  • We jumped inside and found the mileage readout. Could this be a tad optimistic?

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  • On the plus side, it's got CUPHOLDERS! The funky little BMW torch is still in the glovebox, too.

  • And there's an original, state-of-the-eighties Motorola car phone. It powers up and everything. But hold it against your ear for more than a few seconds and it gives you a terrible headache.

  • All the other equipment works, too - E31s are renowned for terrible electrics, but Richard's seems OK. Though we're not sure what once filled the hole next to the clock. Or what it did. Nothing important, probably.

  • CDs! Remember them? The 850 does. The six-disc changer works and everything.

  • We checked the toolkit, too. Which was missing a few bits...

  • this spanner we found tucked under the boot carpet.

  • Note the lovely bronze sheen on the inlet manifolds. Nothing inspires confidence like an oily V12.

  • Luckily, someone had remembered to put some in the engine. Though the auto 'box was a shade drier, which could explain the clunky shifts...

  • Washer fluid bottle also dry.

  • All told, it's not bad. Does smell a bit funny, though.

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