One of those itches was for an old BMW. And as old BMWs are generally nailed-on investments, I figured I could borrow a bit of cash to help with the purchase, and not lose it. This opened up a new realm of possibilities. For my budget, E36 M3s, early 840s, immaculate E34 V8s and even chrome bumper E30 cabriolets all fit the bill.
But even before I was a bit of a BMW fanboy, I lusted after an E24 6 Series. In the Hollywood films of my youth, bad guys and bigshots alike drove shark-nosed BMs, and an E24 was the prettiest of the lot. When I discovered I could just about scrape my way into one - and a half-decent one - for my budget, I was sold.
It was then sold, briefly, to London, before making its way down to Fareham, where it spent the next five years, in the loving patronage of Colin. Colin had owned four E24s before this one, and was the sort of owner who'd service it himself annually, despite only doing 2,000 miles a year in it, and who'd take apart the famously tricksy headlight wipers to get them working again when they seized up. Colin, in short, was the sort of person from whom you always dream of buying a classic car.
A deal was struck. I returned a week later to collect my very own E24. What an incredible feeling. And driving home in this, one of the most graceful coupes BMW's ever made - in my book - was even more special.
And the original owner went further still, speccing a factory badge delete, sports front seats with two-stage electric heaters, cruise control, a limited-slip differential and the Motorsport accessory steering wheel. I haven't yet found an original price list from the period to verify it, but I have my suspicions that this car might have had all the options boxes ticked, with the exception of the no-cost manual. As you can imagine, then, the more I've learned about this car since I bought it, the more I've realised what a fabulous example it is.
In nearly three years of ownership, the E24 and I have had a few adventures together. Like the time, in 2015, when two friends and I decided to tick one of those life boxes and drive the Route Napoleon in our three cars - the BMW, a Jaguar XK convertible and a Renaultsport Clio 172. As you can imagine, the 635 was the consummate grand tourer on the journey down, but what really surprised was how skilfully it dealt with the twisty bits once there, even with its automatic gearbox. I was expecting a bit of a barge; instead I got a raspy straight-six sports saloon, in the finest BMW tradition.
Between these two peaks, there have been few troughs. In fact, the 635 has barely blotted its copybook - although the bubbling front wings will need expensive attention at some stage soon. Other plans for the future include engine work to replace a worn camshaft (a common M30 issue), and another road trip... but more on that in the months to come.
Which means there's just one last question to ask: five years on, am I happy that I cut my losses and let the MR2 go? Hmm. Tough one.
Car: 1988 BMW 635CSi Auto 'Highline'
Run by: Alex Robbins
Bought: December 2014
Mileage at purchase: 100,895
Mileage now: 107,239
Last three years at a glance: Good fortune, fantastic memories, and no regrets. Here's to the next three!