|Thursday, 12 April 2012 00:00|
We visit Birds, one of the UK’s leading BMW specialists and tuners at its premises in Buckinghamshire...
Being a stickler for cleanliness is a bit of a rarity these days in UK workshops beyond the dealer network. It’s an element of the Monday-to-Friday that Kevin Bird tries to enforce on the workshop technicians. The benches that line the workshop wall are lacquered with yacht varnish so they can be wiped down following grease exploits. The walls are white and the floors grey.
Over the far side where the Quaife differentials are installed everything has its own place. Each used diff’ is labelled and neatly aligned on the steel-topped benches, while the race team-esque drawers that reside below have tags stating what they contain.
There’s a mix of tin elevated on the diagonally situated ramps or tucked away under dust sheets. A Z8 sits beneath the stairs. Kevin’s son, James, who takes care of Quaife sales and marketing, sheds light on the rarity. “We’ve done a right-hand-drive conversion on that, it was quite a job!” Over the way is a 335i that’s showing the symptoms of an iffy high pressure fuel pump. Prolonged cranking being the main culprit.
The staff are BMW aficionados as well. Technician Ian Ewen enters the workshop in an E46 M3 wearing staggered Rays RE30s. It looks as hard as nails, just like his E12 528i that sits on axle stands in the corner – he’s pondering over fitting a set of refurbished 18-inch Style 5s that are sitting beside it.
Those familiar with Birds will link the name to its association with Hartge, but its origins reach back much further. Kevin’s grandfather used to run a repair shop in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, and occasionally sold the odd car. “Back in those days before franchises took over, as a trade operation you could order one new car and receive a discount.”