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Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

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    Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    ...or "How to build the perfect autox/track car for $2K"

    I am finally copying our build thread for this project here on R3vlimited, and it is mirrored on several other forums. Feel free to ask questions in this thread, but PLEASE BE CONCISE and don't quote the entirety of one of my gigantic posts, to minimize thread clutter.

    Inspiration for the look we're striving for on the Vorshlag "$2010 GRM Challenge car"

    Project Update # 1 (11/2/2009) - The Project Idea + Buying the Car: So I was on the phone with our ad guy at GRM recently and we got to talking about the various GRM hosted competition events. We discussed their UTCC event (Ultimate Track Car Challenge), which Vorshlag entered in 2008, and how extreme the entries have become (a $220,000 600hp GTP car won the 2009 UTCC event). I wasn't too keen on entering that again, but then he suggested the GRM $200X Challenge. Why doesn't Vorshlag build a car? I didn't think you guys wanted "shop built" entries? Sure, as long as you follow the same budgetary rules as other teams. Hmm...

    What is the GRM $2010 Challenge? A team builds a car with a budget of $2010 or less, then enters it in the Grassroots Motorsports annual event which consists of an autocross, a drag race, and a car show. Your best times in both competition events + your car show placing are factored and the winner is the team with the most points. Labor doesn't count against you so most teams use considerable fabrication, home brew engineering, and cleaver eBay buys to make for cool car concoctions. Every year the budget cap goes up by $1. Here's the 2009 rules:

    The Dirt E30 Team placed 3rd at the $2009 GRM Challenge in their turbocharged, box flared E30

    So... I started brainstorming some ideas with a few local gear heads and we came up with an outline that could potentially be a lot of fun: BMW E30 + V8 + wide wheels/tires/flares. We're already known for BMW's with V8 swaps, so why not do another one on the cheap? The Vorshlag LS1 powered E36 "Alpha car" also sold this week, and I already miss that car, so this E30 V8 project is a good way to begin the healing. :D

    Honestly, I've always wanted to build a GRM $200X Challenge car, but only if it could be fast as hell. We always had some crazy fast race car around the shop until now, so the timing is finally right. This ain't going to be like 24 hours of LeMons here... we wouldn't be wearing funny costumes or dolling up the vehicle like some clown car (although some GRM Challenge teams do "get in the spirit" like this - that's just not my bag, baby). GRM has recently updated the Challenge rules to avoid tube framed cars and have even closed the "Zamboni loophole", and the teams themselves can protest other teams for BS overspending now. They also allow for a few select safety upgrades that are outside the budget, such as a 4-point roll bar, harnesses, and even new OEM brake hoses to replace the old/rotted junk.

    Again, I only want to build a GRM Challenge car if it could be a legitimately fast track/auto-x car, and somehow tie-in with the Vorshlag business (maybe another V8 swap kit, based on things we learn in this project?). Hell, I'd even consider taking it to UTCC if it survives the $2010 Challenge. We already know that a lightweight BMW 3 series with a cool motor swap is fast, and with the right bits and tweaks it even handles and stops very well. We will have to build it on the cheap to meet the extremely low Challenge budget, using a lot of home built ingenuity and fabrication. That sure works for this crazy economy!

    The rules/points are somewhat biased towards the autocross results, but the drag strip times and car show results are still important. We'll focus mainly on the autocross performance and get it done early enough to test the crap out of the setup. Then we will "make it light", then "make it pretty", and at some point get it to the drag strip to test the standing 1/4 miles times, too. Reliability will be a very high priority task - I hate race cars that break!

    L: Cleaning underhood. R: "Uhh... we're gonna pass on this suggestion"

    This array of events and skills needed to build a GRM Challenge car fits my personal background (drag racing/autocrossing/fabrication), as well as many on the talented crew of volunteers we've assembled for the Team. After our first meeting this week I'll post up the names of the Vorshlag Challenge Team and some of their backgrounds. Hell, we might even have a better team name by then. ;)

    Want to get in on the insanity? If you live in the North Dallas, TX area, think you have the talent to help build/paint/tune a V8 swapped E30, and are interested in volunteering your own blood/sweat/tears into this harebrained project, please drop me a PM. This is a purely volunteer effort, and this project won't be worked on by any paid Vorshlag employees. Our first team meeting is Thursday Nov 5th, 2009, @ 7 pm here at the Vorshlag World Headquarters (ha!), in the north Dallas area. We're going to meet to work on the car regularly on Thursday nights 2-4 times a month, and at least one Saturday a month. As an added incentive, we will hold a driver's shootout in the E30 among the active team builders at the time of its completion, to find the GRM event auto-x driver. Only team members that have "put in the hours" are eligible for the driver's shootout. Or if your name is "Lewis Hamilton".

    Here's the rust-free $500 Craigslist find we are starting with:

    L: McCall, Amy and I looked at and paid for the car in the dark (never smart). R: We dragged the car to the shop the next morning

    Its a 1986 BMW 325 coupe that doesn't quite run (fuel leak and dead battery), which looks a little raggedy, but has a partially restored interior with new carpet, seats, door panels, even a new dash. That's a lot of work, and it looks so nice that we're leaving much of the interior in place - which was not what we had intended to do. We were going to gut the car to the bone to get the lightest weight possible, but now we might leave it semi-street worthy, unlike the Alpha car. The stock 2.5L motor and 5-spd will be sold off to recoup some room in the budget, and we've already had some interest in that. This little gem was located about 8 miles away (sometimes you get damn lucky on CraigsList!), and team member, long-time Vorshlag Tester, and Z3M-LS1 builder Jason McCall and I dragged it to the my house using his truck and trailer.

    L: We lucked out with this pristine/restored interior and cool seats. R: McCall fixing the hood release cable (so we could finally see the engine!)

    L: Much of the car is disassembled. R: It cleaned up OK, but the paint is totally fried and the body is banged up

    In the next thread update I will detail the drivetrain choices we're looking at using in the E30. Its not going to be the typical V8 we're known for here at Vorshlag, as the $2010 budget does not allow for an LS1 swap, not even close. Instead we're looking at lower cost V8 motors from 1990's sports/luxury cars. Don't try to guess what we'll use, because we don't even know for sure yet, but the 3 potential engine choices we've narrowed it down to are all very cool engines. I will also explain some of the other non-V8 motor choices and cars we explored, but dropped, and why. Just wait for Project Update #2, later this week.
    Terry Fair -
    Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(

    Project Update 11-06-2009: The first Team Meeting last night went great (5 of the 7 initial team members were able to make it) and we fleshed out a good plan for the entire project. Costas and others on the team talked me out of even more "crazy" (like Lexan, custom intake/throttle bodies, E36 5-lug spindles swap, and some other unnecessary mods I had talked about early) and its going to be a very reasonable, and much more believable build now. 8) We're aiming for an honest-no-bullsheet! street car, which should still be a very capable track, auto-x or drag strip terror, and hopefully much easier on the eyes and engineering brain than some other low cost swaps out there.

    The guys did the gearing and tire height calculations and we settled on a final drive ratio (3.23), tire (275/35/15 Hoosier), wheels (lightweight steel 15x10"), and transmission (T5). Came up with a motor plan, suspension plan, autocross test plan, aero plan, and agreed upon the flares and some other subtle body mods. We're are also keeping the full interior, fully functional doors, and all OEM windows. Why not do all the weight savings possible? Well, for one, this car's interior is too nice, and for two, the damn thing is already lighter than we had expected.

    Here's the first bit of useful tech for the project - the starting weight:

    This 2436 pound weight is with everything stock, at full weight, A/C installed, full interior, heavy stock exhaust, etc. Well, it does have a lighter than stock battery, and the radio is missing, but that's it. Big cast iron straight six isn't super light, and we've got several weight savings mods in the works, so we think we'll meet or exceed our target weight even with the interior and glass.

    Next, after two weeks of hounding him via phone and email, I finally got a local guy selling a complete VH45 motor on CraigsList to meet us this afternoon. Got lucky again, and it was only 15 minutes from Dave's house. We rolled up, unloaded the engine hoist, grabbed the motor and the wheelbarrow full of parts (which included all of the accessories, ECM, full harness, and everything he had partially disassembled), paid the guy $60 cash, and off we went! :D He said he only paid $90 for the entire package from a local "U-Pull-It" discount salvage yard, so he didn't lose much money when he canceled his VH45 + 240SX swap.

    L: VH45 longblock + alt + intake was 430 pounds (not bad). R: Complete motor + accessories was 514 lbs (sprockets, covers, balancer, and accessories were heavy!)

    L: Exhaust manifold was a bit portly. R: Entire engine is 28" wide, but I think we can trim that considerably by relocating the oil filter.

    Worst case - this motor has some terminal flaw, or ends up being too big to fit this chassis, and its only used for mock-up purposes. At $60 it was well worth it, and the harness and ECM are a big bonus if we end up going the VH45 route. Next week we're focusing on weighing several other major components from the car and getting the old motor running. Then we'll yank the stock drivetrain (to sell it) and mock-up the VH45 for the first time...

    More soon.
    Terry Fair -
    Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(


      Originally posted by HPDE30
      I'd be really interested to see the weight difference. The M20 isn't nearly as heavy as a M30 from my experience lugging the parts around, and I've never seen an actual accurate weight measurement of the M20. If it's possible, please weigh the old engine/tranny combo?
      Of course the old BMW M20 + trans will be weighed. For reference here's a weight on a BMW M42 + Getrag from an E36 4 banger, and an LS1 + T56 drivetrain that went back into that car (E36 LS1 swap). We haven't had an M50/52 car yet to weigh, but I've seen pictures of M50 weights taken like this that were within 10 pounds of the LS1 motor:

      L: BMW 1.8L M42 + Getrag = 427 lbs. The trans alone was 68 lbs. R: Aluminum 5.7L LS1 + T56 6-spd = 609 lbs

      Originally posted by HPDE30
      I'd love to have more power in my car, but most of the options just don't appeal to me. This is an interesting way to go, but I'm waiting to see what happens when you actually lower the engine in...
      So are we... so are we. :D
      Terry Fair -
      Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(


        Project Update 11-16-2009: I worked for about 6 hours on the E30 Saturday and got a lot of little stuff done. Beautiful weather, nicest day of the year to date. Measured the starting ride height & camber at each corner, track width front and rear (63" and 63-1/2" from outer sidewall to sidewall - that's narrow!) and then measured a bunch of other random stuff. Once it was on the lift I cut off the rotted OEM muffler to keep from banging my head on it, as it was hanging down about 20 degrees from horizontal.

        Yummy - a diff leak we'll surely have to address. Looks like fairly new Voughtland springs and KYB Gas-A-Just shocks

        The goal became "get some weight off" and we did. Thanks to Paul M for stopping by from 1-3 pm to help - we got the front and rear bumpers and supports off, all of the bumper trim pieces, and both horns. I also swept the bottom of the car free of cob webs (there were a LOT!) and blew out pounds of dirt and mud from the bumper areas.

        ~78 pounds of crap removed

        Just for grins we test fit the 18x10s to the car, but I will say this one time: we cannot afford to use the 18x10" wheels on the car for the GRM Challenge. Just wanted to get an idea of what a 10" wide wheel would look like. We're looking at lightweight steel circle track wheels for our final solution. So this was hardly the technical test fit that the car needs, just a quick "lets take a look" picture or two of the 18x10 D-Force wheels with 265/35/18 tires slid under the fenders of the E30 with the suspension near ride height. It looks like the flares we will end up with should only be 2-2.5" wide, which is manageable. This would put our track width on 10" wheels at around 67" wide - which is still pretty narrow (that's about what the E36 M3 is on stock wheels, which is a narrow car).

        And here's a quick comparison of the E36 non-M 5-lug brakes to the E30 stuff.

        Our selection of cheap 15x10 steel wheels in 4x100 is "zero". The potential E36 5-lug swap opens up our wheel (and strut!) options considerably

        Once I got the old 14x6" E30 wheels back on I rolled it outside, washed the whole car including the newly revealed areas under the bumpers, and claybarred the hood, trunk and a fender (didn't help - that paint is dead!). Rolled it back in, stored all of the removed parts, and put the 1 full pound of nuts and bolts that were removed today in the "used bolt box".

        The bumperless look isn't terrible, but we'll still cover these areas up with some smooth sheet metal - aluminum or steel

        All told we pulled nearly 80 pounds out of the car today. Each aluminum bumper was 15-18 pounds each, the bumper shocks were fairly heavy, the muffler was over 10 pounds, and it just all added up. Weight is now down to 2359 lbs (that's already 15 pounds lighter than the 4 cylinder '91 318is was when fully prepped for STS), so a 2300 pound goal should be achievable. Good stuff.

        We re-weighed the car for all of the doubters...

        Until next time,
        Terry Fair -
        Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(


          Update for Nov 16, 2009: Got bored and yanked the hood off, plus all of the associated crap that goes with it. I had a feeling that the hood would be heavy so we have an alternative solution in the works. My guess was 45-50 pounds for the stock hood. I know, that seems crazy, right?

          Stock hood and brackets/hinges/bolts came in at 44 pounds (39 + 5).

          Yesterday morning Costas found a smokin deal on a new set of circle track 15x10" "lightweight" steel wheels in the right bolt pattern and offset and those should be here next week, along with a free 275/35/15 Hoosier that Chris rummaged up for us (it was a throw away - heat cycled out). I'll mount that tire and we can start doing wheel and tire mockups in the next 1-2 weeks, then I can cut the fenders and get started on the flares.

          Next up - getting the stock drivetrain to run and then yank it out...
          Terry Fair -
          Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(


            Project Update 11-20-2009: That previous update was small, but this one is a biggie. We had the whole team of 7 Project members over last night and knocked out a big chunk of work. I had the car on the lift, the hood off and pizza on the way by the time most of the guys showed up. But just 30 minutes earlier Chris and I fired up the M20B27 for the first time since we picked up the car:

            video: the M20B27 engine starts, and runs great.

            Don't know what changed, but after sitting 3 weeks and with a fresh battery it cranked right up. Hell yea. So... anyone that needs a good running M20B27 engine, transmission, wiring harness and DME its for sale! $500 and its yours. :)

            When the gang all showed up, and had injected enough pizza to kill a horse, we tore into the car with the goal of getting the stock drivetrain out intact. I couldn't remember if the front end came off as completely as the E36, so we wasted a little time trying to unbolt a welded on front radiator support, but eventually we figured out what had to be done - the drivetrain, crossmember, and front suspension needed to drop out from the bottom. No worries, we could raise the car up on the lift.

            It was a frenzy of activity with as many as 6 people working underneath, on top (sometimes on a ladder), and inside the car at the same time. The car was grimy and greasy underneath and once we started unhooking hoses it was leaking fluids of every color. There weren't enough drip pans in Texas to catch all of that mess.

            All sorts of engine bay clutter was pulled out - radiator, electric fan, condenser, charcoal canister, fuel filter, washer fluid reservoir, a/c lines and compressor, overflow tank, power steering reservoir, air filter assembly, and more. Once the bundle of engine wiring was unplugged and removed, it was time for the driveshaft, body mounted shifter housing extension, transmission wiring, steering shaft coupling, brake lines, clutch hydraulic slave, trans crossmember and and K-member bolts. Then we removed the strut top nuts and raised the car off the engine and K-member...

            video: Up up and away....

            Once the body was out of the way we hooked up the engine hoist and got the engine and trans into another bay, out of the way. While we were at it we weighed it on the corner weight scales. The M20B27 + 5-spd was 497 pounds.

            Chris pulled the rotting transmission tunnel insulation mat off, as this tunnel might going to need some "persuasion" to fit the transmission and bellhousing we have in mind. We took some measurements and the framerail to framerail distance on the E30, at the bottom where its tightest, was 27". The VH45 engine is 28" wide, so it won't be going in from the bottom for mockup...

            It was a good 2 hours of work, and everything came out cleanly and quickly, not bad for a bunch of E30 noobs. This weekend I'll get the engine bay, old motor, and K-member pressure washed and cleaned up. Then we'll drop the VH45 motor in from the top and see if it fits... if that doesn't work we've got back-up motor plans that look to be more exciting than even this DOHC V8. Stay tuned...
            Terry Fair -
            Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(


              Project Update 11-23-2009: I tinkered with the E30 for several hours Saturday and some more hours Sunday, getting it cleaned up after we pulled the motor last Thursday evening. This was after looking at a car with Team Member Chris on Saturday morning and after working half the day on Team Member Paul's race car project on Sunday - which made for two long days, and sore arms, hands and back, but I got a lot accomplished over the weekend. It helped that the weather was perfect for both days.

              Saturday I fashioned a rolling chassis stand for the front of the E30 (K-member and suspension were removed) and with Amy's help pushed the E30 outside. Laid out all of the parts we had removed from the car, plus the wheels, and the grease-caked K-member, and fired up the pressure washer. After 4 hours had disappeared I ended the day covered head to toe in the nastiest funk from the engine bay. Have you had to take GoJo hand cleaner into the shower before? My face and arms were just filthy, but at least the car was clean. :D

              The pressure washing started underhood first with just water, then I moved onto the K-member and wheels. That K-member was absolutely CAKED in greasy muck. Cleaned everything within an inch of its life. Then degreased the engine bay and the other bits, and pressure washed it all again. Then I laid on the concrete and pressure washed the nasty looking diff and rear subframe, all four wheel wells, and the underside of the car where I could get to it. Then I hand scrubbed the engine bay with a brush and Dawn soap, then pressure washed it again. Then started with my secret detailing techniques (that mostly involve a lot of elbow grease) and got it all shining.

              After all that, the 23 year old engine bay looks pretty damn good. Sunday I removed several brackets that protruded out from the fender structures towards the engine, ground the areas fairly smooth, and cleaned up the mess that made.

              The K-member cleaned up nicely - you can eat off of it all now. On Sunday Amy and I bolted the crossmember and stock suspension back in place, then the front wheels, to make it easier to wheel the car around the shop. We also need the K-member in place for Q45 motor mockups later this week.

              The inside of the fender wells cleaned up pretty well, but I'll attack them more diligently later. You can see a big Hoosier tire on the background on that last picture above, and we'll show that and the new (cheap steel) race wheels in the next update. They just showed up late today!

              On Monday night (tonight) we ended up with 3 Team members at the shop in the early evening, a bunch of new parts had arrived, so we had an impromptu work night for a couple of hours. McCall's cousin David was in town and loved the E30. He's a paint and body man and BMW owner, and was quickly drafted to the team - he's the tall guy in the black shirt. Jason and David removed the LF fender (that was some fun!), which was pretty mangled by a previous owner, and David took the body hammer & dollies and worked out two major dents in no time flat. Thanks!

              More soon...
              Terry Fair -
              Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(


                Project Update 11-23-2009: Sorry for the double update on the same night, but I didn't get a chance to update after the weekend cleaning thrash and we had an unexpected work night tonight, on a Monday. I broke it up because they were totally different aspects of the project... this is the Wheel and Tire and Flare update which many of you have been asking for. :)

                I got back to the shop late Friday afternoon from dropping off and picking up parts only to find four big boxes from Aero Racing Wheels had arrived. This was the 15x10" steel "lightweight" wheels that someone on Corner-Carvers found on Aero's "overstock closeout" web page for $50/each, then Costas noticed and called me about early one morning, and I bought them minutes later. $50 each for chrome 15x10" wheels is insane, but its totally legit. First thing we did this evening was open a box and weigh a wheel...

                The observant ones here will notice - "hey, those are 5 lug GM pattern wheels!" Right you are. We had planned on using custom built, steel 15x10" wheels made with the BMW 4 x 100mm pattern, but the costs on custom built steel wheels exceed our budget constraints. Hey, I'd use D-Force 18x10s if we had room in the budget, but you gotta do what you gotta do. So yea, we have to do a 5-lug swap to make them fit, but we managed to get the parts cheaply.

                We rummaged around the junk yards and bought some 5-lug E36 non-M hubs E36/rotors/calipers for dirt (who wants the non-M stuff, anyway?) and even found some used E36 front struts for a song, so we're going to swap to a 5-lug and E36 brakes/front struts. Opens up a lot more options to us, really, as the E30 front suspension is kind of an albatross. The E30 front strut housing is welded to the spindle, so your strut choices are very limited. We really didn't want to go to 5-lugs, but it allows us to use inexpensive and plentiful GM pattern circle track wheels, and this was cheaper in the end.

                We were excited when we saw the wheel weights at only 21.5 pounds because many steel wheels in this size can exceed 25-30 pounds (the D-Force 18x10" is 19 pounds, for comparison, so its not that much heavier). Aero makes this "85 series" steel wheel for circle track cars with a thinner gauge material, but its still rated for both dirt and asphalt (high grip) use on big 3500 pound cars, so our little 2300 pound E30 should be no problem. The 5 x 4-3/4" (120.6mm) GM bolt circle is close to the BMW 5 x 120 mm bolt circle, so with the E36 5-lug swap it should work well enough. Normally I would never recommend using these differing bolt pattern wheels & hubs together, but for auto-x speeds (and our extreme budget constraints!) its "safe enough". We don't even have bumpers, so its not like this will be a daily driver or W2W race car, you know?

                Team member Chris also got his hands on a free 275/35/15 Hoosier A6, which is totally worn out but good for mock-up testing. We weighed and measured it too.

                The 275 looks comically wide next to the E30's 195/60/14 tires... but remarkably is almost the exact same height.

                Left: side-by-side comparison. Right: E36 rotors/hubs/calipers fit within the 15x10" wheel

                So once we weighed the wheel and tire it was time for some mockups on the car, of course. McCall got the RF wheel in place with a tiny spacer and the rear went on with none, so we got the backspace almost dead nuts perfect on the first shot. Damn, we're good.... :D

                Left: Bolted the wheel on the rear with no spacer and it has a fingers width to the control arm. Perfect. Center: Rear wheel sticks out ~1.5". Right: Front wheel sticks out about 2"

                The wheel is held on with one lone stud and lug nut at each corner, only good enough for mockup (we haven't done the 5-lug swap yet). While McCall and David worked on the LF fender repairs, Matt and I started mocking up flares for the right side wheels. The finished mockups looked better than any of us had imagined, but we're in for some fun turning these into steel! I'll go mount the 275mm tire on one of the wheels using the tire machine at a friend's shop this week, then we can do the 5-lug swap and mount the wheel/tire combo on each corner "for real".

                Matt and I made a new rear fender mockup in corrugated

                Once we get the car at ride height I can then start cutting the stock fenders for tire clearance and then start looking for sheet steel at the scrap yard to make the flares out of. Someone showed me a trick to make the edges of box flares have perfectly rounded corners, which also gives you a structure to build off of, so I'm going to try this technique on this car.

                So far so good... the steel versions get started soon

                As great as the wheel and flare mockups looked, David found a picture of an E30 he built previously that looked so amazing we ignored the wheels. He gave us some incredible ideas for front and rear bumper covers that cost under $30/each. I'm not allowed to share more than that for now, so I'll just end this update with the usual "more soon..."
                Terry Fair -
                Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(


                  Project updated for 11-26-2009: Well everyone on the $2010 Team is bored with the holiday already and itchin' to turn some wrenches on the E30, so we've planned another thrash day for Friday Nov 27th and a junkyard day for Saturday. We're installing a Kirk 4-point roll bar into McCall's E30 (we might get the same thing for our Team car - its only $400 but doesn't count against our $2010 budget), prepping my 330 for the AST track day at ECR on Monday, and possibly doing some work on my E36 M3 (if the 330 prep hits a snag and isn't going to make it for the track event) or the E46 323i (there's a "clunk" in the driveline I need to check up on the lift).

                  Some quick wheel&tire mockups from late Friday

                  On the E30 we're planning on doing the E36 5-lug front suspension swap, more wheel and tire test fitting, and dropping in the motor. Should be a productive day - weather has been great all week.
                  Terry Fair -
                  Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(


                    Project Update 12-01-2009: Here's the Q45 motor test fits that Chris and I did last Saturday. We got the motor dropped in and we're moving on to the transmission next.

                    The big vacuum brake booster has to go, but the motor will fit.

                    Going in....

                    VH45DE in place on the K-member.

                    Motor will move back several more inches when the brake booster is removed (manual brakes - here we go). Lots of little stuff left to do, but that's all we're going to bore you with on the motor for a while. We'll post more pics once we've got a running motor in the car.

                    Between some junkyard trips on Saturday, some other distractions on Friday, and completely losing Sunday, we didn't have time get to the 5-lug/E36 non-M front suspension swap done, but we should be able to tackle that later this week. Two more sets of free/used 15" tires should be arriving later this week from a corner carvers member, and we had another free set of E36 spindles/brakes/rack get dropped off from a bimmerforums member cleaning out his storage unit - another "its going in the dumpster if you don't want it" offer. Once we get these bits installed we can finally move forward on proper fitting of the wheels & tires, and then make the hub-centric spacers/adapters.

                    Friday I helped Project Team member McCall on a Kirk 4-point roll bar install into his E30. We had a track event on Monday and he really wanted to get some harnesses installed in the car before then, and I just wanted to see how it fit. Using a lift made it so much easier but he still spent most of the day getting it all wrapped up cleanly. Lots of test fitting, trial and error, and fighting with the seats to get them back in place. I will admit that removing and installing the front race seats is a bit tiring, due to the way I built the seat brackets when we owned the car, heh. The installed bar looks so good we might add one to our Challenge car (this is one of the few safety items we can add that doesn't count against budget):

                    Kirk Racing 4-point bar installed. Couldn't have fit better if it was custom built on site

                    A before and after weight of his car, an ST prepped '91 318is

                    As you can see the 4-point bar added 62 pounds to the car so we'd have to see how that impacts the final weight target on the $2010 E30. During the install we weighed the back seats and the upper and lower bolsters are 29 pounds, not including the sound mat underneath. Since the back seat becomes useless with the bar installed, we could keep it out for only a net gain of about 30 pounds. (McCall has to keep the seats in place due to ST rules)

                    More soon...
                    Terry Fair -
                    Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(


                      Originally posted by GotCone?

                      I'm mesmerized by your starting weight. Our '87 325is in similar configuration, w/o back seat, but will carpet and full interior, a/c in place, lighter than stock exhaust, AST 4100's, stock fresh brakes, no rear swaybar, and some 16x8 w/ 225/50-16 star specs was mid to upper 26's. So I'm just blown away really that you're in the 24's stock.

                      Still scratching my head... did the seller replace the shell w/ CF?? :D
                      Yea, we've had a lot of folks doubting the weight, and a few people outright calling us liars on another forum. :p It does seem a little low, but the scales are accurate and have been re-verified on several cars. We think the low "starting" weight on the not-quite-stock 325e was from the following:
                      • This car has some aftermarket carpet installed. BMW carpet is usually very heavy with inches thick insulation in some areas.
                      • This car had some aftermarket seats already installed
                      • The battery was missing so I swapped in a used Odyssey I had lying around that someone gave me for free (14 pounds)
                      • The radio was completely gone
                      • Wiper motor was removed (in the trunk but not when we weighed it)

                      We've since removed the stock engine, trans, exhaust, most of the a/c system, horns, bumpers + supports, hood and hinges. Its really light now! :D Of course the V8 + trans going back in won't be as light as what came out, and the 15x10" wheels and tires might add a handful of pounds, as will the final exhaust. We hope to meet our target weight without gutting the interior or removing any other items needed for a potentially semi-streetable finished car.

                      We've done a lot since my last update, and are scheduled to work on it again tonight, so maybe we'll have a forum update soon.
                      Terry Fair -
                      Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(


                        Project Update for Dec 18, 2009: We got some hacked-up E30 M3 fenders installed last night (local BMWCCA club racer Greg Snyder gave them to us since they aren't class legal for his M3 anymore):

                        We won't likely use these M3 front fenders in the final build - we just wanted to see how well they fit, how much additional front tire clearance they gave us, and to use them for a template to make our more exaggerated box flares we'll need to clear the 10" wheels. Greg stopped by and shared a wealth of E30 knowledge with us, giving us all sorts of good ideas and offering up some potentially nice horse trades on parts with us, between our GRM car and the LeMons E30 he's building.

                        25 year old seam sealer can be pretty hard. A chisel and hammer knocked it loose

                        Team member David R gave us this idea and it worked great! A damn sight better than the hideous chrome bumpers that this early E30 had stock

                        Above are pics of the E36 non-M bumper cover that was donated. The car had been wrecked so the bumper beam was trashed. I took out the beam and just cut/trimmed/grafted the E36 bumper cover to fit the contours of the E30. It fits pretty well, as you can see below. A brand new E36 non-M bumper cover from Certifit is $24.95, so we might even spring for a new one if we have room left in the budget. :)

                        Cleaning up the E36 non-M suspension bits - they were somewhat rusty and the threads all had to be re-tapped

                        E30 bits came off and E36 parts went back on in no time

                        Yes, before you sharp eyed readers cry foul, we've temporarily thrown some used AST E36 struts on the front (just so we can roll it around the shop), along with some junkyard sourced E36 non-M spindles, rotors, calipers, lower control arms. The ASTs on the front won't fit within the budget, of course, so we're looking for a cheap set of E36 Bilstein Sports. Unfortunately many people selling used Bilsteins on eBay and elsewhere on forums want "crack money" for their used struts, often times more than they cost new. This does not make sense, but I guess some people are just very attached to their old things. :) We'll find something appropriate, eventually. We do have some old, used-up, stock Sachs E36 front struts we can use, if we have to. Whatever we use will get a cheap, home built coil-over conversion. We've already got the used coilover springs on the car we'll use in the final build, just need the right E36 struts to hack up.

                        Note: A straight E36 front suspension swap is not the perfect solution for an E30, however, as it moves the front wheel rearward inside the fender opening by over an inch. This makes tire clearance worse, and loses a good bit of positive caster. I am working on a tech article that will explain all of this in more detail. We're working on a solution - its not finished yet. And we can cut the fender openings however we want on this car, too. Don't take these early pictures as proof that an E36 suspension swap onto an E30 is fool proof and a perfect solution to the goofy, one-piece E30 spindle+hub+strut or an expensive 5-lug E30 M3 spindle swap - again, its not perfect.

                        Finally have the rear lowered. DME + harness = 8.7 lbs

                        We haven't tackled the 5-lug rear conversion yet, but we have a solution, and have the custom-built slide hammer hub removal tool (thanks Teucci!) needed to extract the correct rear hubs (Z3 or 318ti) at the junkyard. We did slap in some shorter springs in the rear and its finally got the right stance and spring rate to match the front. The Motronic DME for the M20B27 + the entire engine harness was removed last night (which will be sold with the old engine + trans) and now we're ready to tackle the engine install and all of that associated fun. More soon on that!
                        Terry Fair -
                        Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(


                          Project Update for Feb 5, 2010: We had a group of 4 of us working on the GRM $2010 E30 last night, including new team member Derek! He stopped by the shop yesterday to sell us some engine parts needed for the V8 swap, fell in love with the little E30, and now he's on board. This project seems to be a magnet for local car guys!

                          The main item on the night's agenda was to finish our E36 front suspension/brake/5-lug swap. We spent the entire evening mocking up, measuring and installing control arms and spindles to try to fix the "altered wheelbase" issue that accompanied our E36 front suspension swap onto the E30 chassis. We were told to try early E36 spindles with late LCAs, so we tried that - and a hullva lot more permutations.

                          We didn't find the magic combination that allows an E36 spindle + strut to be used on the E30 chassis - because we feel that there is no magic bullet. The "Easy 5-lug and E36 strut swap!" theory is a myth. Check out these pics and I'll explain further.

                          In the pictures above you an see the E36 spindle, brakes, and E36 coilover strut (not our final strut solution for the $2010 budget - just an interim AST coilover we had laying around until we found a cheaper solution!) installed onto the E30 - and the massive alteration in wheelbase. This tiny stock 205/60/15 tire and stock 15x7 E36 "bottlecap" wheel tire is rubbing like crazy at the back of the wheel arch and inner sheetmetal when turned, at this lowered ride height. Of course we had the maximum offset on the rear LCA bushings... we ran out of room there long ago.

                          This tire rub issue is because the front wheel has been moved rearward by over an inch, and is interfering with the fender opening and even the inner sheetmetal and unibody. It will have changed the caster in a bad way as well. Well, damn that...

                          Here you can see the various "non-M" Lower Control Arms (LCA) available on the E30, E36 and E46 chassis. We've tested the E30 M3 and E36 M3 LCAs and they all look very similar, but will round up examples of these M versions (all on cars in the parking lot including Matt's '95 M3, my '97 M3 and an E30 M3 we can borrow). All of the E30 and E36 LCAs we measured were IDENTICAL. To the mm. The "A" distance was the same on all of the E30 and E36 arms we tested, with only the E46 arm having a different "B" number (1" longer). The hypotenuse (and any fore-aft offset of the spindle mount) was also the exact same between all E30 and E36 LCAs we tested too - so the differing part numbers between early and late E36 LCAs seemed to be only cosmetic in nature.

                          We still installed and test fit wheels with all of these LCAs, "just in case" and there was no difference in the wheelbase issue, of course. The E46 LCA was indeed longer, but this only caused a huge amount of negative camber, and didn't affect the caster/wheelbase issue at all.

                          What's the solution? How can you use E36 suspension parts in an E30 and keep the wheel centered in the wheel opening? Well I'm fairly certain there's not going to be a solution that uses factory spindles and control arms. That parts-bin solution seems to be a total myth.

                          If you look closely at where the LCA mounts to the spindle on an E36 and E30, there lies the problem. On the E30, where the spindle and strut tube are one piece (a retarded and very limiting design) there's no room to get to the top of the LCA ball joint mounting nut... so this mounting hole its moved rearward on the spindle by about an inch compared to the E36. On the E36, the strut un-bolts from the spindle, so since yoiu can gain access to it they have moved the lower mounting hole on the spindle to almost right under the strut axis itself, and when this spindle is used on an E30 its going to pull the wheel backwards about an inch. Bad.

                          Notice the offset from the strut axis to the spindle mount on the E30. On an E36 this is very different

                          We're going to try to make or modify one of the many stock steel Lower Control Arms to allow the E36 spindle and brakes fit. Why? Well we REALLY need the 5-lug pattern from the E36 bits, to be able to use the cheap GM 5-lug pattern circle track wheels we scored (new 15x10's for $50 each don't exist for 4-lug BMW pattern), which will give us a grip advantage with some used 275/35/15 Hoosiers. Also, the cheap-to-free used E36 spindles and brakes are a big upgrade over the E30 bits (11.5" diameter E36 brake rotor vs 10.5" from the E30). Lastly, there are TONS of low cost, used E36 struts out there, but decent/used/cheap E30 strut inserts are few and far between.

                          We'll include these pictures and more detail on our final solution later, in a full blown tech article. There's got to be an affordable way to run E36 suspension on an E30, and by damn, we're going to find it.

                          Stay tuned...
                          Terry Fair -
                          Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(


                            Originally posted by WhiteLX View Post
                            Could you heat and bend the arm forward? I know there are guys that do this with the early steel I-beams for ford trucks to correct camber issues when raising or lowering (not to the later cast beams though). Not sure how that would effect the strength of the BMW arms since I have no idea what they are made of or the process in which they are made. You could box in the arm after bending to increase the strength.

                            Probably an undesirable side effect would be a reduction in negative camber and a change in the camber gain since you would also be shortening the distance from the inner pivot to the outer ball joint.
                            Its an idea we have seriously considered, but yea, it'll likely cost us some camber. We might cut/pie section the arms to bend them forward instead. One way or another we're going to make some LCAs work.

                            Originally posted by Matt M. View Post
                            Fair, the LCA dims are not an unknown quantity. All RWD E30 and E36 LCAs have identical dimensions, with the exception of the 96-99 M3, where the outer ball joint moves ~10mm forward (which is how the 96+ M3 achieves the same outer LBJ position as the 95 M3 in spite of using centered vs offset bushings).

                            Thanks, we'll try to round up some late E36 M3 arms to test. I'll try anything at this point...

                            BF group had several alternatives to using the E36 5-lug spindles, including...
                            Originally posted by garretvs
                            E30 M3 front struts & spindles
                            ... are worth about $800-1000 for cores nowadays. Find me usable stock E30 M3 spindles/struts for under say... $300/set and I'll buy every one, sight unseen. :)

                            Even if we could magically find a free set of E30 M3 spindles/struts (ha!) they still suffer the same limitations as the E30 4-lug spindles: there are no affordable choices for coilovers. All you can do is use inserts -or- cut off the factory strut tubes and build your own shocks from scratch (which is how AST makes 4200s and all 5000 models. Ever priced shipping spindles to and from Holland?)

                            We looked into making/modifying/swapping just the E36 5-lug hubs onto the E30 spindles, too, but we lose both the cheap/available/better E36 strut choices as well as the step up to bigger E36 front brakes. We have had multiple free sets of E36 non-M spindles + LCAs + full front brakes donated. Nobody puts much value in this stuff, and its free for the taking if you know where to look. Well this stuff is still a HUGE improvement over the stock E30 non-M front brakes and suspension!

                            Not a big deal on an auto-x/drag car to get the bigger E36 brakes, but it matters for track use. Imagine a 350 whp V8 powered E30 with 275mm Hoosiers - Do you want to be wheeling this thing around a track with stock 4-lug E30 brakes?? I sure don't. At least with 11.5" front discs we might be able to make a few laps without the brake pads catching fire. :D

                            Again, this weird E36 5-lug swap is bigger than our $2010 GRM project - its something a LOT of E30 4-lug folks have wanted to do, and something I wanted to try for years, but nobody has just documented the problems or solutions very well. We're we're going to make it work with correct wheelbase/caster, one way or another, and show it here.

                            Terry Fair -
                            Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(


                              Originally posted by CrazyCoder
                              Any news?
                              The '96 M3 Lower Control Arms showed up, thanks to a cool BimmerForums user, and they look great.

                              They are actually going to help... it might not be enough different to completely fix the wheelbase problem, but it might be enough with the shorter 275/35/15 Hoosiers we are using.

                              The plan is to put these on the car Thursday night and test it. If its not enough we'll make some LCAs...
                              Terry Fair -
                              Project Thread for the now-burned-to-a-crisp $2011 GRM Challenge Winning E30 V8 :(