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14 years - 1991 325ix, Stroker/5-Speed (N52 swap?)

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    an 85lb box just arrived from Florida. Updates later. :)
    Build thread



      Build thread



        Man those Bilsteins are huge compared to the konis. Hurry up and get it in the car!


          they're really not, the silver part you see is actually the body of the shock, the rod is inside the strut housing/stand tube.

          the rods are 1" shorter than stock and the stand tube is 2" shorter. :)
          Build thread



            alright, here's the suspension build finally!

            I picked up a set of Bilstein HD's for the ix fairly cheap. They were used but in good condition. I had them shipped directly to Bilstein in California to be revalved to 500# front, 600# rear springs. I spoke on the phone with Juan a few times discussing what I wanted with the front, other than revalving.

            Basically with the GC camber plates, there was only about 1" of travel before the gland nuts hit the bottom of the spring perch. Not good. I wanted a lot more effective travel, with the goal being 2" sectioned off the housings. Juan suggested 1" off the rod, which would reduce 2" total travel, and cutting the bump stops 1" (I guess cutting the bump stops must be routine, because he didn't even flinch when I asked about it, and he cut them on his own personal car). The rears I wasn't as worried about, basically my springs will bind before I'm even close to bottoming out the rear shocks.

            It took about 7 weeks for the work to be completed, and from there I had them sent directly to John at WOT-tech in Florida. Why? Well, first the automotive/shop scene here SUCKS. Unless you're taking your car to Jiffy Lube or buying a new Toyota Prius, nobody will talk to you. Doing something as "extreme" as modifying a strut housing will give you responses like "you can't do that" or basically, GFY. Also John wanted to work on it and could basically do everything to them I needed - press in new bearings, blast them, powdercoat, cut the tubes, weld new sway link mounts, etc.

            John already had my old strut tubes, they were from a rusty ix parts car I got from New York. That damn car cost me a fortune, but at least I got good use out of most of the car that wasn't rusted away.

            The housings looked like this before I sent them to john. I had to cut off the gland nuts, they were rust welded together. Fortunately there wasn't much metal left so they were easy to cut. Also the stock spring perches were on the verge of collapse:

            This was the pile of metal/rust that I swept up after cutting the gland nuts off:

            I'm so glad I'm not from the northeast..

            The first thing John did when he got the housings was cut off the perches, remove the bearings/hubs, and blast them. they already looked much better. The modified bilsteins are on the right:

            He also built up a copy of the original ix swaybar link mount. It looks big in the pic but it's really not, it's just large enough to fit a new stock swaybar link inside:

            Also I didn't have my original GC adjusters, so I got some civic coilover adjusters on ebay. The springs are basically garbage, but the collars are fine. Actually, I like them better than the GC ones, which always got full of crud and were hard to adjust on the car. They were too long but John cut them down to 4" of adjustment. The swaybar link mount was moved down 2". I've been thinking of giving the cheap springs a go as a winter setup, but the rates are a total mystery. They're definitely softer than my GC springs!

            The next thing John did was poweder coat them, which he did them in-house. it's hard to tell in this cell phone pic, but man, if you'd seen them before and after, the transformation is pretty amazing. I'd hardly believe they were the same housings if I didn't sweep up the rust shavings myself:

            I had a lot of new parts to go into the housings. The hubs from the parts car were junk (stripped threads) so I ordered a new pair. I think it was $190 for the set, but it might have been $190 each. Anyway, for the ix hubs brand new that was actually cheap. Additionally I bought new bearings (I used rear bearings, they differ from ix front bearings by .05mm and as far as anyone can tell, it makes no difference), new stock swaybar links (I'm tired of heim joints getting loose and squeaky), new dust boots, some plastic clips, etc. etc.

            Here John has everything put together with the mystery Civic springs for show:

            Some of the parts I bought I couldn't actually use like the front dust boots. stock ones won't fit inside coilover springs (doh). Somebody pointed out a pair of Bilstein boots that fit inside 2.5" springs that were cheap so I picked them up.

            When the 85lb package finally arrived from Florida I was excited but I still had to wait several days before I had time to even think about installing anything.

            I ended up tackling the rear shocks first, and the hardest part about that was taking apart the trunk lining. I didn't take pics because it's pretty unexciting. I ended up using the mounts that came on them, they looked brand new and were setup properly, and I didn't want to dick around them them. I'll keep my TCK mounts on the shelf for another day.

            That by itself made a big difference, my rear Konis were DEAD. there was zero compression resistance, and although they still had some rebound left, there was about a half inch of slop before they did anything functionally. They had over 100k miles on them and are 10 years old, so I guess they don't owe me anything. I'm going to attempt to replace them under warranty but I don't have the receipt anymore.

            a few days later, I finally tackled the fronts. Here's some before shots:

            I measured the ride height before I took anything apart. from the bottom edge of the flares to the center of the wheel was 12 1/4" up front and 11 3/4" in the rear. My camber was -2.1 in the rear and -1.9/-2.6 up front (one of the original housings was bent slightly).

            Here's the old front suspension. The rubber thing you see is a sleeve I made to center the springs without the GC perches. You can't see the bumpstops because they're SMASHED up inside the camber plates. On one side the bumpstop actually got squished between the spring and the perch, I had to scrape it off after I got the spring seperated.

            Everything stripped down ready to remove the old housings. Yeah, my calipers are rusty - they're Nugeon replacements from Napa. Cheap and effective, but they blast off the original zinc coating. They look like poo but they work fine.

            Old housings next to the new housings. you can see how much shorter everything is. And while technically I can adjust the perches 4", due to tire clearance it's realistically only about 3". But that's enough to go about 3-4" lower than stock..

            All done with new links, springs, dust boots, etc. I also repaired one of the ABS sensor mount holes and used some new bolts I had sitting around.

            Back of the new hubs/bearings. Too bad they won't stay looking this nice for long!

            While I had everything apart I decided to deal with another issue. The CV axles I was using have about 300k on them, and the FL was starting to click on sharp left turns. The "new" axle is the one I just cleaned, and is just the original from my car. It only has about 225k on it. :p

            Strut housings on the car:

            So about those new hubs.. the right side had some pretty nasty burrs on it. Normally, if you keep things cleaned and lubricated, the shaft will slide into the hub just pushing on it with your fingers. The right side wouldn't go beyond about 1/4" before it got stuck. I spent an hour trying to file down all the burrs, but in the end it still needed a BFH to be persuaded far enough that I could get the nut started. The left side went together like butter (I lube EVERYTHING with copper anti-seize).

            New swaybar link attached. This picture is to illustrate how close the swaybar gets to the CV shaft. It's basically in the same position overall as it was before.

            Studs back into the hubs. Yes, I wiped the extra off:

            All done! just gotta torque everything down and put the wheels back on:

            This shows how close everything is. a 235/50-15 R888 also fits on the ix but just barely:

            Engine bay shot. It looks nice but the damn thing leaks like BP's Deep Horizon. In my day we would have said it was the Exxon Valdez of M20s. :p

            Unsettled ride height. I took the springs down a little bit from where they were before. The goal was 12" even up front from the bottom edge of the fender lips to the center of the wheels.

            Settled height. Ended up at about 11.75" up front. I guess the old bump stops were holding up the car. :p

            I could probably go down another 1.5" from here, but then going over speed bumps and driveways would be excessively annoying. Also the rear is as low as it can go without either shorter springs or removing the adjusters. I should be able to raise it up close to stock height (definitely with the Civic springs).

            Results? Well, it's definitely stiffer. Noise and vibration seemed to go up but harshness went way, way down. No more bouncing over bumps. The oscillation of the front/rear over certain roads was unbearable before, now it's planted and solid.

            Ideally it'd ride and feel closer to stock while still handling much better. It's not there yet. The real test was with my wife in the car, which of course she hates. It was still too stiff for her but not unbearable. I think I'm going to try dropping the rates again from 500/600 f/r to 400/600 or 400/500 coupled with a 23mm front swaybar (or 21mm if I can find one).

            The roads near my house are very poor, it's crazy because they're all new right up to the last mile and a half, which is so bad it makes the whole drive seem painful. It's a bit better now at least.

            I spent a lot more than I wanted to originally but I just couldn't stand it anymore, I had to do something and I wanted to do it right (this will be my third suspension setup!). The Bilsteins cost about $350 to modify (including shipping) and I paid $200 for the pair. The housings were free, but it cost me about $120 in shipping back/forth from florida. The bearings were either $190 or $380, I'd have to look, everything else was a couple hundred, and the labor was actually pretty reasonable (talk to John for a quote). The total ended up being something like $1500, which I guess isn't too bad for what I got. I reused the rest of my GC setup (springs, camberplates, etc).

            And of course thanks John at WOT-tech for all your help. Hopefully I can send some more ix business your way. The ixer's need not throw away rusty old strut housings, they can be reborn again! :)

            that's all for now..
            Last edited by nando; 10-08-2012, 06:59 AM.
            Build thread



              Damn this is really nice!
              Originally posted by fronton
              He must have been staring right the pole, all the way into it. Happens to me playing mariokart every time.
              1982 F250 Built 351W-sold
              1994 325i-sold
              1987 325es-sold
              1991 318i Slicktop- work in progress


                10 years and it's come a long way. great build thread man.
                AWD > RWD


                  nice thread!!!

                  Well, I just read through the last 10year!!!:). Got lots of good ideas for my car. I have an ix coming Thursday, same color....but mine is a project...not in the good idea of a project. Thanks for sharing your car...hope mine is 1/2 as good as yours when I am done.
                  Last edited by 2002jm; 10-09-2012, 06:29 PM.


                    Glad you are happy with the suspension!
                    Transaction feedback: Here, here and here. Thanks :D


                      ugh.. right when i was 'okay' with my iX just being a dd/beater...

                      awesome build man!

                      2003.5 Imolarot M3: daily
                      1995 Alpinwei├č M3: hpde


                        Great work Chris, the new suspension stuff looks good! Sitting VERY nice for a 4x4. ;)
                        Classic BMW Specialists
                        Santa Clarita, CA



                          well in a couple weeks hopefully I'll have my ix weaves refinished with new snow tires, and I can go the other way. we'll have to start a "let's see your JACKED UP E30" thread. :p

                          oh, the car will be 22 years old on the 19th.
                          Build thread



                            Amazing work!! I want coilovers badly! Ur car is so clean and properly done!

                            '05 BMW M3 - Silver Grey/Imola Red
                            '90 BMW 325iX - Sterling Silver/Houndstooth sport(5-speed converted)
                            '15 Mini Countryman - Blazing Red/Carbon Black

                            '01 Audi Allroad - Light Silver/Platinum Saber Black
                            '88 BMW 325iX - Diamond Schwarz/Silver sport *Sold*
                            '01.5 1.8TQ - Brilliant Black/Nogaro Alcantara ...after 8.5yrs, *Sold* =(
                            '90 BMW 325i - Schwarz/Tan sport *Sold*
                            '89 BMW 325ix - Diamond Schwarz/Black sport *Sold*


                              Looking good, guess im going the same route next spring.
                              Been mailing back and forth a bith with GC and they says more than 40mm drop in front is a total no-no. It will wear out bearings faster than im able to change them it sounds like.
                              Have any opinions?



                                Cv joints, maybe, but I can't see what it has to do with bearings.

                                Or did he mean strut bearings? I can see if you're bottoming out, but you shouldn't be. I can easily be 50-60mm lower without any issues.

                                I don't get it.
                                Build thread