How to Choose a BMW Restoration Shop
We at North Bay Bavarian love BMW’s old and new. We have more than 25 years of experience servicing, repairing, racing, and restoring BMWs. We know that current and prospective BMW owners have many choices when it comes to which shop to choose. We hope these BMW restoration shop questions will serve you well.
Questions to Ask When Choosing a BMW Restoration Shop
Do the mechanics have experience working on classic BMWs?
The younger the mechanics in the shop of your choice, the higher the likelihood that they primarily work on newer BMW models. Because BMW produced so many exceptional models in the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, there are quite a few of these gems still on the road today. If your mechanic wasn’t born until 2001, how much experience do you think he or she will have restoring a 1978 E26 M1? No disrespect to the up and coming mechanics out there, but our team has been working on BMW’s for decades. That said, our crew knows computer-reliant BMW’s just as well as the classics.
Which parts does the shop choose while rebuilding BMWs?
If you’re lucky enough to snag yourself one of BMW’s ultralight CSL’s, you want to ensure that your restoration shop has the exact right parts for it. BMW only made 169 of these ultralights, so sourcing any missing or damaged parts can be a tall task. Because they were hand-built in batches of three at the factory, the fitting of replacement parts requires an extremely skilled hand. Some of the distinct details that are important to factor into restoration include the aluminum hood, the aluminum door skins, and light-gauge steel panels.
Do the employees enjoy antique BMW’s in their spare time, or just while at work?
There are more mechanics than you might imagine that have never stripped down a BMW to only its bare chassis. It’s only until a car has been completely stripped that a mechanic or restorer can begin learning about the car’s story. An effective paint job by a previous owner can hide more sins that you might imagine. When the mechanics of our shop aren’t working, you’ll often find them tinkering on their own project cars.
Will the shop restore the vehicle to its style preferences or your style preferences?
Let’s face it, some performance brands are more for show and some are more for tearing it up on the road. Mercedes restorations, for example, are often highly “by the book”. Because BMW’s are meant to be driven hard, BMW owners sometimes like to diverge from factory specs in favor of upgrades that provide better handling, torque, power, etc. It’s not uncommon for one of our customers to request a better performing engine and upgraded suspension. We’re here to help you achieve your vision.
Can your restoration shop custom-fab parts that are no longer available from the manufacturer?
It’s important for your shop of choice to carry many of the common parts used in BMW restorations, but not every part is readily available or available at all. In these cases, it’s necessary for your shop to fabricate the needed part or contract out the fabrication of the part. If your shop can do custom fabrications in-house, as we do, that’s really going to play a big role in the overall cost. We can make exhaust systems for our conversions and headers. Another factor in the equation is selecting acceptable newer parts such as later manifolds, weather stripping, moldings, etc. The best in our business really have to get creative.
Better to Buy a New BMW or Restore a Classic?
There is no simple answer to this question. Old BMWs and new BMWs each come with advantages and disadvantages. In both cases, you are purchasing a luxury performance vehicle. If you’re going to invest in a BMW, be sure to consider the following things.
- How easily do you want your shop of choice to be able to source the necessary parts?
- New BMW models will likely have all the parts readily available
- It may be tricky to source original parts for older BMW models
- How often do you expect to drive the vehicle?
- Barring unforeseen circumstances, you can likely drive a brand-new BMW from coast to coast without issue
- An antique vehicle might have solid bones, but its resistance to damage after extended driving may not be that of a newer model
- How much do you want to pay?
- A 2019 BMW 3 Series can run about $46,000
- A 1971 BMW 3.0 CSL can run you 200k euros (that’s more than $224k USD)
- What aesthetic suits your style?
- If modern, rounded edges call out to you, you may want to look into a freshly manufactured car
- If sharper, pointed edges are more your speed, a classic BMW may be in your future
Don’t just search: “BMW mechanic near me”. Instead, choose the expert crew at North Bay Bavarian. We’ll help you achieve all your BMW restoration goals.