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Unread 11-23-2012, 10:52 PM   #1
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Coming soon.... slow build thread.

So I figure this is my opportunity to do an actual decent build thread for once...

Back in May I purchased a 1990 BMW 325is. It's the last year of the big-engine E30 sport model, but it was a late 89 build, so I got the pre-airbag version as well. Essentially it's the ideal starting point for an E30 build, in my opinion. When purchased, it had 122k miles, and every service record from both previous owners. The car was purchased new locally, and had been treated well from day one. Everything works, save for the power antenna which will be removed anyway.

So anyway, I should have taken some pictures as it sat when I got it... but I did not. The only progress so far has been some extremely minor cosmetic stuff. I'll get some pictures soon, the color is bronzitbeige-metallic, and a tan interior.

The plan of action:

- The first order of business is to finish cleaning up the minor cosmetic blemishes. The front lip is getting a re-spray, the antenna is getting pulled in favor of a fixed screw-on type, tint is done, and the trim will be painted black. From there, it will get a few tasteful mods such as euro grills and bumper trim.... The interior will also get some attention eventually, although minor. Front seat upholstery will be the focus, and the current seats are in very good condition, but are also 23 years old.

- Suspension will be a major focus. All new bushings, ball joints, shock mounts, springs, shocks, sways, and some minor weld-in chassis reinforcements. Sway mounts are historic weak points in the BMW sub-frames. Wheels and tires will be replaced. The steering rack will be replaced with the much quicker Z3 non-M rack.

- Lastly, the drive-train. The current plan for this is an engine swap of some kind. Most likely it will end up being the S52 from the US-model E36 M3, with some bolt-ons. The S54 from the E46 M3 is an awesome idea, but significantly more expensive and would likely necessitate the running of stand-alone engine management, which is more complex than this car needs to be and also $$$$. I think an S62 or S65 swap is a pipe dream, although there are several M62 swapped cars running around, and that V8 is actually lighter than one of the above 6's.... The S52 is almost too easy though, while being smooth and linear. If I ever want huge power, they take well to forced induction. For an N/A motor, the power goal would be around 250 whp, which should make this car run a 13 flat.

I'm hoping to use the 6-speed ZF gearbox from the E46 330i or the Z4. This will result in a diff swap for a 3.25 out of an E24. This will probably be later down the road, though... as the engine swap can be completed using the stock G260 and 3.73 that's currently in the car. More gears are better, though.


In any case, the eventual goal is for this to look like a clean and conservatively modded almost 'classic' BMW, but with suspension to run with most anything that normal people can buy.




That's about all I've got. If all of this happens, it will take a long time, but the progress should be fun. Watch for pictures coming later! Progress thus far is a timing belt, just to stave off catastrophic failure, haha.

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Unread 11-25-2012, 12:38 PM   #2
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Sounds like you have a well thought out plan... looking forward to future episodes of this thread!
(BTW, pics, or it didn't happen, lol!)
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Unread 11-27-2012, 12:30 AM   #3
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First update:

Well, here are some pictures of the starting place. Please excuse the fact that the car is extremely dirty, and missing a few trim pieces at the moment. The rear window trim is off for paint, and will be waiting on new fasteners to re-attach.. and the front lip is also off for paint, and will be getting some clear bra treatment and a splitter before it goes back on.


Front:






Side:






Interior:






Front lip, after primer. This also got sprayed with color today, and will be getting cleared tomorrow, if all goes according to plan.






Obligatory picture of the shop where most of this will happen!






Previously completed project!








The next step will be to paint all of the polished trim around the windows black, as this was the factory option for the '91 318is. More to come!
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Unread 11-28-2012, 06:30 PM   #4
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I can't believe that BMW is 22 years old... great find! Beautiful boat, too.
The body looks great from the pictures, but will you need to paint it?
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Unread 11-29-2012, 12:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fontana View Post
I can't believe that BMW is 22 years old... great find! Beautiful boat, too.
The body looks great from the pictures, but will you need to paint it?
Thanks for the compliments! Nope, no paint will be necessary. It was actually re-sprayed once before in the factory color, and the guys did an awesome job. I'll get better pictures of the body once it's cleaned/waxed again, but there are no door-dings, and almost no rock chips in anything but the lower front valance.

The underbody coating does need some touch up though... especially the lower part of the rear valence.

Last edited by mulletman; 12-14-2012 at 12:07 AM.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 02:26 PM   #6
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It may not be necessary, but that color... oh man.

Good stuff you have going here.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 04:56 PM   #7
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Ah, no love for the Bronzitbeige, eh?
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Unread 11-30-2012, 10:30 AM   #8
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No, not from me. But hey, if you like it, that's what matters. They made the color for a reason, right?
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Unread 12-04-2012, 10:57 PM   #9
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So I'm on a somewhat unexpected part of the project..... troubleshooting electrical gremlin(s). Nothing major though.

I hadn't driven the car for about 6 weeks, and found it with a dead battery. Jumped it, started right up, drove around, and it started fine for the rest of the day. Now a week later, dead battery again. This battery was purchased new in May of this year.

Current plan of action:
- Find the source of the electrical loss. The most likely suspect is the only aftermarket equipment on the car, which is an alarm system. I'd rather not have it, so I'll be yanking/selling the whole thing anyway.

- Secondly, charge/test/possibly replace the battery.



Progress has also been made on the front lip. It's been sprayed with clear and has been curing for a few days now. I used spray cans exclusively, and the clear was a 2-part catalyzed product.... I was hoping it would go well, as one can of the stuff was 30 bucks. It came out like glass. I'm very satisfied, other than just a few specks of dust that stuck to it... I'm not going to try to sand them out because it's just not worth it. Next step is to look into clear bra options.

Fasteners for the lip and trim have been ordered, along with a replacement cap and rotor, an antenna grommet, and a replacement BMW roundel and hardware for the hood. Next on the list of things to order is the antenna base from a Z3 or E36 318ti.

More pictures later! After the trim gets painted/re-installed anyway.
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Unread 12-05-2012, 10:14 PM   #10
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Good progress today....

So as I was investigating the cause to my continuously dead battery, I stumbled across this little push-button. It was mounted down low on the left side next to the hood release. It looked severely out of place, and suspiciously like a Radio-Shack part, so I traced the wire.

Here's the switch, after I removed it from the dash:






Another picture, as I struggled to get the camera to focus on it. I'm a much better mechanic than I am a photographer, I promise.






I knew the car had an alarm due to the presence of a little LED mounted above the stereo, and also the siren mounted just behind the passenger headlight. I also knew it was likely aftermarket, as factory E30 alarms are extremely rare, and also accompanied by a key fob, which I don't have. I didn't know where it was mounted, though. Following the wires lead me to this:






After removing the Bosch unit that was mounted below it, I was able to reach in and unscrew the mounts for this alarm unit, and the adjacent impact-sensor as well. My car had an 'Ungo box.' Which was doing a great job of making it un-go. As in stop. Which is unsatisfactory.






From there, it was a matter of doing battle with the wiring harness that came from the alarm unit, and tracing everything to where they'd spliced it into the factory harness in a variety of places from the steering column to the trunk latch. From there it was time to remove it, and patch the spliced area in the original harness.






I found the problem!








Lastly, my issue was to find out if the battery was defective in the first place... I tried charging it, but the charger wouldn't register any sort of load. For fun, I hooked up a voltmeter to it, and discovered that my 12V battery was producing just under 6 volts. Extra dead. My theory was that the battery was dead to the point that the charger wouldn't even recognize it as a load, and therefore wouldn't flow any power to it. This resulted in the highly unusual situation of me using my motorcycle battery to jump-start the charger with the car battery attached. Basically I hooked up the car battery, and also ran some jumper cables to the motorcycle battery so everything was connected in series. I turned on the charger, and watched the needle move. After about 5 minutes, I removed the jumpers and watched as the load-meter on the charger rose to 10 amps and stayed there for the rest of the afternoon. I'll be continuing to charge it tomorrow.

Operational check of the car showed normal starting/running, so at least I know I didn't screw anything electrical up with my removal of the alarm...

That was it for today. Next on the list is the return of the trim paint, some underbody touch-up, and clear-bra for the front lip. A good cleaning is also in order.
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Unread 12-14-2012, 12:15 AM   #11
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New pictures!

So a friend of mine was in the area, and snapped a couple of pictures. Here they are!







Attached Thumbnails
33.jpg   44.jpg   66.jpg   99.jpg  
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Unread 12-14-2012, 04:29 PM   #12
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It's looking pretty great!
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Unread 12-14-2012, 07:42 PM   #13
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The beemer is lookin' sweet, mulletman!
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Unread 12-17-2012, 05:33 PM   #14
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Battery that's been dead/sitting for a while usually isn't recoverable. If you're leaving something sit, make sure it's on a trickle charger sir.

As for the color, it's borderline horrendous, but I believe the proper name is "champagne"

Friend of mine has an E30 coupe with an S52 swap and it's pretty slick. I'll see if I can get some pictures for you sometime.
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Unread 12-18-2012, 08:48 AM   #15
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that bimmer is in great shape for such an old car...good luck to you
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