• MOT until January 2023 • Low mileage, well-maintained example • Iconic inline-six 3.0 litre engine
First launching in 2004, BMW developed the 1-series as an introduction to their range, offering powerful engines and rear-wheel-drive dynamics in a much smaller package.
Eventually available in a wide variety of body styles, including hatchback, coupé and convertible, it was a great success and continues to be a popular choice for keen drivers.
The convertible 1-series (E88) was launched in 2007 with a range of trim levels and powerplants. This model was first registered in August 2008. The current keeper has owned it since January 2018 and is only parting with it as their health no longer allows them to drive it.
We feel this model is the pick of the range as an everyday driver – the naturally aspirated 3.0 inline-six is the engine to have in any BMW, and mated to the 6-spd paddleshift automatic transmission, it gives the option to cruise along in style or enjoy the 1-series’ dynamic abilities.
It has been well cared for, having a service history and being maintained in recent years by Newhall Prestige & Performance Specialists on the Wirral. The owner has kept the car under an insulated cover to protect the paintwork, which does show.
Having only covered just over 52,000 miles, and just 7,000 since December 2018, it really is a low-mileage gem of a car that deserves to find a good home. It also comes with a full MOT (until January 2023), so the new owner has a full year of confident, roof-down motoring ahead.
The car comes with a file of documentation which naturally includes the V5 and MOT certificate. There are also a number of servicing and maintenance receipts outlining recent work undertaken, as well as a vehicle status report from a few years ago.
Offering supportive and comfortable black-cloth seats and a driver-focused environment, the 1-series features the traditional BMW dash design and layout. While it’s a 2+2 layout, the rear seats are really only suitable for children over long distances, but they do provide an excellent amount of luggage space, along with the 260L boot space (305L with the roof up).
Everything in the car is in good condition for the age, with some age-related wear and tear, but nothing that would concern us or be unexpected in a 14 year-old car. The only issue buyers may wish to address is the driver’s seat bolster, which is beginning to show signs of wear.
BMW specced the 125i well, this model offering a power fabric hood, operated fully from the cabin, as well as power windows and mirrors, air-conditioning, a radio/CD and hands-free phone connection. The owner assures us that all of the car’s systems and features operate correctly.
We think the 1-series convertible is a great shape, offering the classic Chris Bangle styling in a tidy little package that is perfectly suited to British roads. This car’s red paint is in good condition, showing no signs of fading. There are some minor blemishes as should be expected, but a polish and wax would soon have the car looking its best again.
The fabric roof is in very good condition and operates smoothly, raising and lowering in 22 seconds at speeds up to 25mph – a very useful feature in the variable British climate.
Sporting classically styled 5-spoke 17-inch alloys, shod in 205/50 R17 Good Year tyres, the 1-series is a great looking little thing – squat and purposeful. All of the external trim is in good condition, and the underside of the vehicle looks to be in very good condition too, clearly it’s been looked after.
If you’re going to have a BMW, it really should be a naturally-aspirated inline-six. And the 3.0 unit in this little convertible certainly doesn’t disappoint. It sounds creamy and powerful, pulling strongly and peaking with that classic BMW six-cylinder howl. Pushing out a healthy 214bhp and 270Nm, it pushes the car from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds.
That engine works in tandem with the paddleshift automatic 6-speed to offer a dynamic driving experience, or you can just cruise and let the auto sort things out for you. Both the engine and gearbox operate smoothly and well, having been well maintained and cared for by specialists.
With a rear-wheel-drive layout and 50:50 weight distribution, the 1-series has always been a choice for enthusiastic drivers. This is helped by the multi-link aluminium suspension, shared with the E90 3-series.
In October 2019 the rear brake discs and pads, along with the rear offside caliper were replaced. This year a new front offside shock absorber and strut top mounting were fitting.
It’s not difficult to see the appeal of a little, red convertible. They’re a classic for a reason. When that convertible offers you the advantages of BMW build quality and design, rear-drive handling, 50:50 weight distribution and a meaty six-cylinder NA powerplant, it’s difficult to see any downsides.
We think this is a great car for British roads – the standard suspension of this model offers an extra level of suppleness over the M-Sport suspension, which can be harsh on British roads. Married with the 6-speed paddleshift automatic, it makes an awful lot of sense. This little Beemer really can be all you need – it’s perfectly happy cruising along in the sunshine, auto box shifting and torque-laden engine wafting you along.
But when you find a nice bit of twisty B-road, it really does come alive, the paddleshift allowing you to punch through the gears quickly, while the rear-drive chassis communicates every inch of the road to you in the most satisfying fashion.
And we’ve not even mentioned one of this car’s key attractions – that naturally aspirated inline-six. No other engine feels as ‘right’ in a BMW. With heaps of power and a screaming, addictively rev-hungry nature, it’s a great powerplant for anyone that loves driving.
This lovely little car has been truly loved by its owner, and we can see why they’re reluctant to let it go. With the spring and summer arriving quickly, it’s the perfect time to pick up a convertible, and we heartily recommend this 1-series – it’s a little firecracker of a thing.
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