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My E30 Rehabilitation! ft. Boost Noises

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    My E30 Rehabilitation! ft. Boost Noises

    Welcome to my E30 rehab build!

    I created this thread to document the build progress on a neglected 1990 325i that I managed to get my greasy hands on for a steal. I'll do my best to keep things interesting and post plenty of pictures. I am very open to suggestions and advice, so any input is greatly appreciated! Quick snapshot of what has been done so far:

    Build Progress:

    Brake System:
    • Front: Blank rotors and pads (Stoptech)
    • Rear: Blank rotors (Brembo) and pads (Stoptech)
    • Rebuilt calipers
    • SS braided brake lines (ECS)
    • 3.73 LSD w/poly diff bushing (80a)
    • Reinforced front / rear subframes
    • 885 head (Resurfaced, hot tanked, valves lapped)
    • Head studs (ARP)
    • Head gasket (Goetze)
    • Mishimoto radiator
    • Mischimoto 9 row oil cooler
    • Oil pan baffle (Ireland Engineering)
    • Oil pan w/-10AN turbo drain bung
    • E24 engine mounts
    • Cruise control delete
    • Wiper fluid reservoir / pump delete
    • Oil filter sandwich plate w/oil pressure / temp senders
    • Coolant temp sender w/M14 -> 1/8NPT adapter for thermostat housing
    • Ellipsoid headlights w/9012 bulbs
    • IS Spoiler
    • Roof / bike rack (Yakima)
    • Z3 Antenna
    Exhaust Setup:
    • Full 3" with dynomax muffler
    • Ceramic coated turbine housing and down pipe
    Fuel System:
    • Fuel-pump retrofit (Walbro 255lph)
    • Alpine head unit
    • Rockford Fosgate 250W amp
    • Infinity kappa speakers
    • Crack free dash
    • Dual trunk lights
    • E36 window switches
    • Nardi deep-dish wood wheel / hub
    • Non-airbag check panel
    • Odometer gears (Garagistic)
    • Refurbished wood shift knob
    • Retrofitted voltmeter
    • Tan interior swap
    • E82 rubber floor mats
    • PODI vent gauge
    • Bosch boost gauge
    • Black carpet swap
    • OBC phone holder
    • E-brake center console cupholder (from member: cup o fanatic)
    Suspension / Wheel Setup:
    • Euroweaves (15x7) w/Yokohama Advans (205/50, 200tw)
    • Camber plates (Ground Control)
    • Poly rear sway bar bushings
    • Reinforced front / rear sway bar mounts
    • Rear strut mount reinforcement (Ireland Engineering)
    • H&R race springs
    • Bilstein sport struts
    • Poly control arm offset bushings (95a)
    • Poly subframe bushings (80a)
    • Rubber RTABs
    • Rear camber and toe plates (Garagistic)
    • Front and rear strut bars (Garagistic)
    Steering System:
    • Z3 steering rack w/Z3 tie rods
    • E21 transmission mounts and reinforcement cups
    • Dual shear selector shaft (Garagistic)
    • Delrin shifter bushings (Garagistic)
    • Clutchmasters FX350 clutch
    • Brass pivot pin
    Turbo Setup:
    • Borg Warner S257 SX-E, T3, .82 A/R
    • Mint Performance M20 manifold w/38mm wastegate provision (Owner of Mint Performance is rude, difficult to work with, and no longer produces a quality product. I do not recommend this manifold or anything from this company.)
    • Tial 38mm wastegate
    • Tial BOV
    • Mischimoto G-Line Intercooler
    • 2.5" no name intercooler piping
    • Deka 60lb injectors
    • StimTech vacuum distribution block
    • Megasquirt PNP ECU
    • Innovate LC2 wideband and controller
    • MAC 3 Port boost controller
    • Wasted spark conversion w/Delphi GN1203 coil packs and Quadspark igniter
    • Converted AC system to R134
    • Airbag module delete
    • Docooler keyless entry
    • Trunk tar removed

    As the car currently sits:

    Onto the build, enjoy!

    The story:

    From the Craigslist ad:

    The pursuit of a project car began shortly after graduating college. After relocating for a job, I spent the first month perusing craigslist for Miatas, and BMW E30s. I wanted a handler, a car with limited assists, and a wealth of online knowledge so it seemed these two fit the bill. I soon stumbled upon a ratty looking 1990 E30 325i labeled “parts car” that lacked a price tag and had been sitting in a trailer park for the past 9 years. I setup a time to look at it and it was actually in much better shape than expected. Sure, it was covered in dings, dents, and had cracks that ran the length of the windshield, but it was rust free with just over 100,000 miles on the clock and a clean title.

    The car had potential.

    After some back and forth, I worked the seller down to $650 and the next weekend I pushed his lawn ornament and my new project up onto the back of a U-haul trailer and drove her home.

    The Trailer Park Queen:

    Front seats missing, along with other random interior bits:

    Clean rear bench:

    Picked over engine, it was a parts car after all:

    The car had no seats, no fuses / relays, a missing valve cover, a broken rocker arm on cylinder 6, no window switches, light front end damage, and many other miscellaneous parts had been pilfered over the past 9 years that the car sat. Probably the worst part of all were the critters that inhabited the BMW; dead spiders the size half dollars littered the engine bay, brakes, and underbelly of the car and after 3 days of wrenching we realized two wasp nests the size of my fist were tucked behind the driver's side headlight. I had nightmares of my condo becoming infested with these death critters.

    Broken rocker arm on the cylinder 6 intake side:

    After fumigating the old car, we tore into the engine to see what we had. The plan was to remove the head and rebuild it, but that plan was quickly thwarted when we realized the camshaft was seized into place. One $500 eBay head later, and a full top end refresh with all new gaskets, the engine started going back together. We would have rebuilt the bottom end as well, but there was no signs of oil leaks, the tops of the pistons were still in good condition, and there was no scoring to be seen on the cylinder walls. I made the executive decision to slap everything back together and crossed my fingers this decision wouldn't bite me in the ass.

    Fresh 885 head after being surfaced, valves lapped, and hot tanked:

    The ol'girl was topless for a while:

    Old head, notice the bent valves from when the timing belt snapped:

    Car sat like this for a while, I swear my garage wasn't always this messy:

    Installing cylinder head with ARP head studs:

    Fresh timing belt, water pump, pulley, tensioner, etc.:

    Starting to look like an engine again:

    Just about back together:

    With the engine nearly assembled, it was time to address the other issues with the car. Namely, the gas tank. At first I was hoping to simply fill it up with some fresh fuel and try to burn off the old gas, but upon inspection the gas tank was rusting bad. Since the tank was beyond repair, eBay supplied the new gas tank, and I set off to remove the drive-shaft and drop the old tank. An excessive amount of cursing and busted knuckles later, the drive-shaft came out, gas tank came down, and the new one went in. I also replaced all the fuel lines and did the walbro fuel-pump retrofit to replace the likely dead fuel pump that sat in the rusted tank.

    Old Tank Out:

    Finally, it was time to try to start the car after 9 years sitting dormant. Except, that didn’t go quite as planned...

    With the new battery supplying juice to the electrical system, I tried starting the car. The starter motor whined, but no luck. Realizing I had just replaced nearly the entire fuel system, I started pumping the gas pedal to get fuel into the lines, and the engine began to turn over. All my excitement came to a halt when the smell of fuel hit my nose, so I jumped out of the car and immediately saw a pool of gas forming under the driver's side door. It turns out I forgot to replace a short length of rubber hose that connected the fuel filter to the fuel lines. Moral of the story? Double-check all your rubber fuel lines on any car that has sat... I thought I replaced all of them, but must have missed that one.

    After replacing the rotted out fuel line, the car fired right up without issue and idled at a steady 750rpm all while totally smoking out my garage. Hearing the old engine fire up was a great feeling!

    Pretty happy with my first mod:

    Also installed E36 window switches to replace that ones that were unceremoniously cut out:

    With the engine running again, I turned my focus to the interior. I perused Craigslist nearly every day for a month for a set of reasonable seats and other interior bits until I finally had a stroke of luck (at the expense of another's bad luck). A local wrapped his 92 vert around a tree and was parting it out. The car was garage kept nearly it's entire life so the door cards and seats were in excellent condition, so I scooped them up.

    Neighbors cat helped with the install:

    The passenger side door card was damaged in the accident, so I reinforced it with a couple of thin brackets and some gorilla glue:

    Whoa, stock ride height!

    Time for a drop, snagged some H&R race springs and E90 drop hats off Craigslist and ordered a set of Bilstein sport struts.

    Obligatory stock spring comparison pics:

    Rear installed:

    Compressing front stock spring:

    Front assembly installed:

    Much better ;)

    Also, for anyone interested I started a group of E30 enthusiasts in the Austin, TX area. PM me if you're interested in joining, basically we just give each other a hand with the cars, go on drives, and hopefully we'll start attending autocross events here soon. Here's a pic from last time we met up:

    Last edited by zwill23; 11-19-2020, 12:05 PM.

    I love the contrasted tan and black interior. That combo always gets me aroused. Looks good. I wish I had the time and money to fix everything with mine.


      Me too! At first I wanted to do the usual all black leather interior, but the contrast on this has me hooked. Picking up a rear seat to complete it in a week or so!


        lookin good so far, keep up the good work!
        1990 325iX - sterlingsilber metallic
        1991 325i - lazurblau metallic

        Originally posted by delamaize
        E30 = Lego for men.


          Damn I want those seats. Did it come with those or did you have them laying around?
          1989 325i LS Swap (Money Pit):
          COTM Feb 2019:


            I love threads like this!

            It's so satisfying bringing a car back from the brink of death and making it your own!

            Nothing like it!

            I look forward to more updates! :up:

            "When Passion and Skill work together..the end result is often a masterpiece. ."
            Project Frankenstein :twisted:


              @TheWipprSnappr Thanks!

              @Pootis My car didn't have much of an interior when I picked it up. I bought the seats from an E30 convertible that got wrapped around a tree, but the interior was in mint condition. Purchased both seats and door cards for $340!

              @cypriotgeeza I appreciate it! Might not seem like it yet, but a ton of work has gone into it so far... more updates soon! :)


                Strong work!

                Another E30 saved from the scrapyard.


                  Updates 4/25/2016:

                  So I had a bit of a scare a couple of weeks ago. I've been taking the car out for some "shake down" tests and for the most part it's been running great, but I had my front right brake caliper lock up on me at 70mph on the freeway causing the car to pull right. I quickly pulled over, but there was still quite a bit of smoke coming from my wheel well and the rotor was red hot. For a brief moment I imagined all my work going up in flame on the side of the road, but fortunately after letting it cool down I was able to limp it home. I've added a fire extinguisher to my breakdown kit!

                  Since then I've rebuilt the front brakes... and oh man were they bad.



                  I cleaned the piston up too, just forgot to snap a pic.

                  Also, this has been my most recent source of frustration:

                  When I first got the new head on the car, I was having issues with valve cover studs on the exhaust side snapping when I tightened the valve cover down. This is off the top of my head, but I believe the Bentley specifies 10ft-lbs. Well at about 5ft-lbs the studs were snapping. Since this only occurred with studs on the exhaust side, I'm thinking they must have weakened over time due to heat cycling. I temporarily hand tightened all the valve cover nuts until I could get a new set of studs, so there was a small oil leak from the valve cover.

                  Well I finally ordered up some new valve cover studs, and according to real OEM this would be a 6x35mm valve cover stud #07129908103


                  Except, that wasn't the case. I installed the new studs at the same height as the old studs and didn't think to compare the stud length between the two. Turns out the old studs were all 6x40mm!

                  Because the thread seating wasn't sufficient with the new 6x35mm valve cover studs, I got to the last stud tightening to 10ft-lbs and it stripped the threads clean out of the cylinder head.

                  There must be a discrepancy between the valve cover stud length between years. I believe my new cylinder head was from 87 but my car is a 90, so that must have been part of the issue. Anyway, if anyone ever runs into this issue as well, this is the part number for an OEM 6x40mm stud: #07129908104

                  Some better news, my Mishimoto radiator came in! Courtesy of White325is :D

                  Should be installed with my new clutch fan soon!
                  Last edited by zwill23; 02-16-2018, 02:29 PM.


                    Updates 5/13/2016

                    So my car was having overheating issues, particularly at red lights and long stops. This lead me to believe that my fan clutch was dead, so I performed the magazine trick and sure enough I was able to stop my fan clutch almost immediately with the engine at operating temperature. I ordered up a new fan clutch and mishimoto radiator for good measure to hopefully stop my overheating issues for good...

                    This past weekend I had a chance to install the new fan clutch, radiator, and perform a coolant flush.

                    32mm bicycle wrench makes removing the old clutch a cinch, quick tap of a hammer and I was on my way.

                    After I removed the old fan clutch I noticed all my auxiliary belts were loose? I mean very loose, I could pull them off with my hand. This got me paranoid so I decided to check my timing belt while I was at it and I tore off my timing belt cover.

                    Fortunately, everything was in check and tensioned properly.

                    After readjusting my auxiliary belts the rest of the installation went very smoothly, and I am happy to say my car is FINALLY holding at operating temperature. I let the car idle for 30min and the temp didn't waiver once. :)

                    On to the bad news... after rebuilding my brakes I had a friend help me bleed the system. I'm not sure how this happened, but the first few times my friend dropped the pedal to the floor after I opened the bleeder valve, I heard a nasty "pop" from the master cylinder / booster area. It seems my buddy unintentionally killed my master? How can this be? Maybe he pressed against the floor too hard, maybe the pin inside the booster became misaligned and somehow popped my master... I don't know what happened. I do know that afterwards my brake pedal intermittently would drop to the floor when I took the car out. I swapped in another master cylinder that I had pulled from a junkyard and of course it was a dud... totally junk.

                    I've ordered a new master and a new booster. My brake system has been a constant source of frustration so I just bit the bullet and purchased all new components.

                    Why do I have such frustrating hobbies?!
                    Last edited by zwill23; 07-16-2017, 05:04 PM.


                      Nice work so far, keep it up man.


                        Originally posted by kid8 View Post
                        Nice work so far, keep it up man.
                        Thanks dude!


                          I love the noise of the viscous fan after you replace it and find out its actually working now! 8)

                          Sounds like a WW2 bomber! :P

                          "When Passion and Skill work together..the end result is often a masterpiece. ."
                          Project Frankenstein :twisted:


                            Originally posted by cypriotgeeza View Post
                            I love the noise of the viscous fan after you replace it and find out its actually working now! 8)

                            Sounds like a WW2 bomber! :P
                            Hah! I noticed that as well, I test drove the car without my hood and I was surprised how loud it was


                              Updates 5/16/2016:

                              Traded my grey cloth rear seat this weekend for a tan leather seat in dirty, but mint condition. Friend wanted to have his seats recovered so it ended up working out great.

                              How I picked it up:

                              The seat cleaned up really nice with some elbow grease and leather cleaner:

                              Final product:

                              I still need to find some tan leather rear side panels, and kick panels for the driver's and passenger side foot-wells but the my interior is really coming along! Eventually I'll dye my carpet and rear deck, and replace the dash, but that will be on the back burner while I continue sorting the rest of the car.

                              Also, I managed to install my new master cylinder and brake booster. I am very happy to say my car is officially road worthy.

                              New master and booster installed:

                              Random engine bay pic (please excuse the mess of wires):

                              While the car was still "under construction" and mostly living on jackstands, I had this awful flex pipe setup to temporarily reconnect the exhaust where the cat had been snipped out.

                              I knew this wasn't going to fly for inspection, but fortunately a full stock exhaust showed up on Craigslist that came from none other than Das Beast. Happy to support his build!

                              Dual tips look soooo much better than the awful single tip that used to inhabit the rear valence:

                              Officially inspected!

                              "Hello officer, I believe my registration is a bit out."

                              Finally made it to work :) Fun fact, I park next to a Nascar that has been wasting away for the past 6 years. It would be a real shame if someone got a hold of that engine... ;D

                              Last edited by zwill23; 07-27-2017, 09:20 AM. Reason: Adding content.