No announcement yet.

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

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

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

    10 years, I can't believe how fast time goes by. Things have changed so much!

    My previous car was a 1967 Dodge Dart. It was a kind of cool car, but I got something like 8mpg, it was 35 years old, and everything was pretty much shot. Also, I lived on a steep hill, and needless to say the Dart sucked in the snow (V8, pegleg rear diff, shitty tires).

    So I started looking for AWD cars. Obviously, Subarus came to mind. The ironic thing was at the time Subarus were way too expensive. I happened to see a beater 325ic in the Costco parking lot. I had no interest in BMWs prior but it looked interesting to me for some odd reason (except for the convertable part).

    Curious, I started looking up models and prices. What do you know - they built an AWD model! Even better, the prices were within my budget (5-7k). A comparable Subaru was double the price, if not triple. Now to find one..

    Well, it wasn't very easy. I spent a few months looking; craigslist wasn't very big back then either. I used search engines like Autotrader, magazines, etc. There were only two 325ix's for sale in the entire state that I could find. Ouch..

    The first was a diamondschwartz, 4 door '89, for I think $5k. The mileage was somewhere around 150k - I went to look at the thing, and it was a total beater. The speedo didn't work. The windshield was cracked in half. The steering wheel shaked like crazy above 35mph. It also had evidence of a prior accident. Plus it was at one of those little shady dealers in the Seattle area.. pass.

    The second car is the one I ended up buying. FS ad pic:

    Asking price of $7000. 125,000 miles, 2 owners, maintenance records, etc. It was basically stock, except for M3 sport seats, a Supersprint catback, and aftermarket wheels. My friend and I went to look at the car - it was like brand new inside and out! It was one of those cars that you go to look at, and you know instantly that you're going to buy it. Even closing the doors, the car felt incredibly fresh and solid.

    We took it for a short test drive - everything was tight, everything worked. It had leather seats and keyless entry (which I really wanted - the door key on my Dart broke, so I just stopped locking it, LOL). I paid a small deposit and had to wait a couple days for the bank to open, which was excruciating. But it was basically mine.

    The funny thing is, despite the Dart having a V8, the stock auto ix was probably faster. I know they're supposed to be slow, but when it was stock it always felt strong. On cornering and stopping, well, there was really no comparison (the Dart had something like 165/75-R13s and manual drum brakes!).

    This thread is basically a posting of some of my favorite pics or moments from the last 10 years.. and there's a lot!
    Last edited by nando; 05-28-2012, 12:25 PM.
    Build thread


    Just a couple days after I bought it:

    I didn't really care for the wheels, but the PO didn't have the originals. So I just dealt with it.. 16x7.5 TSW Hockenheim-Rs. It looked like a donk at that ride height, plus the wheels were ET20 poked like mad. They came with Toyo FZ4s, which were actually pretty nice tires.

    On a road trip to lake Chelan that summer:

    (rear full of camping gear, junk in the trunk!)

    When I bought it, the car just had a brand new transfercase put in it. It had been replaced once already for a stripped front driveshaft. I soon learned why: the dealer techs kept installing the driveshaft bone dry. It needs a specific lube or the splines will rust and bad things happen. $500 for a new driveshaft (I was still learning about where to buy BMW parts at the time), and it was fixed, for a while..

    Other than that quite expensive repair (and a flat tire, which les schwab replaced for free), I put many thousands of miles on it and being young, drove like an ass without the car giving me any real issues.
    Last edited by nando; 05-28-2012, 07:31 AM.
    Build thread



      Still pretty much stock. I got an IS lip and euro grilles. I think I also got a bavauto chip.

      Remember that driveshaft strippage? Well, I was still learning. And it stripped again.. doh!

      Stock ride height profile shot:

      Oh, it was still an automatic:

      The output on the transfercase was damaged (due to rust). I knew if I put in another shaft, it would just strip again. So I bought a new chain and gears. I also got a set of H&R sports, Konis, IE urethane trailing arm and subframe bushings, a strut brace, ATE powedisks, 2 new calipers (one had locked up), new pads, and IE stainless steel lines (uncoated). I of course got a new front driveshaft (this time only $300), and rebooted all 4 CV axles.

      I took it to the Seattle BMWCCA concours soon after. It was kind of cool, but at the same time, a little boring (oh look! my brand new M3 is clean! yay!). The TSWs wouldn't have fit with the car lowered, so I rocked bottlecaps for a while:

      There were a handful of E30s there:

      I also met a guy there who talked about how you couldn't stroke an M20 to 3 liters because you'd blow out the cylinder walls. hehehe.

      A pic with my freind's 318is (RIP)

      Installing M3 offset CABs:

      I went to my first autox, in the pouring rain of course:

      Installed 19# injectors. No, I didn't get worse gas mileage (I averaged a consistent 21-22, up to 26-27 on the freeway). Yes, Motronic uses both real time and long term O2 trims. No, I didn't really need them. :p

      First attempt at a photoshoot (Sony MVC-90 camera, despite the FDD, it really took good pics):

      This was also the year I learned the importance of snow tires:

      No, ES100s are not good in the snow.. or really any other condition. Don't kid yourself. They suck. ;)

      I also went to my first E30 picnic. It was during the time my ix was down, so we took my friend's 318is. This car is now dead:

      So is the bronzit car behind the red one (guess who? :D):

      I forget what happened to this car:
      Last edited by nando; 05-28-2012, 12:27 PM.
      Build thread




        I hated bottlecaps. I still hate them now. KenC arranged for a pallet of E30 junk to be shipped from the UK - we all got pretty screwed over on that one (not by Ken, but the dude in the UK who sent everybody rusty junk). On that pallet was a set of euroweaves that looked like they came from the bottom of the ocean. My poor friend paid something like $250 for some really awful condition euro ellipsoids. Somebody else got a rusted out set of euro bumpers. ugh.

        After I spent many hours cleaning them for paint:

        I wanted them to look like this:

        Many many hours of filling and sanding:


        Lips in sterlingsilver, centers in nogarosilver:

        Clearcoat and done:

        I'd never, never do it that way again.. but they did look good!

        I also body colored my IS lip, got a ryan-G splitter, and Depo ellipsoids (big mistake - the lightoutput was WORSE than my sealed beams - and they leaked!).

        Somewhere along the line I got a euro plate filler:

        Another E30 picnic :D

        What a peice of junk :D

        He's a nice guy in person:

        I've seen this one copied all over the web:

        Closing out 2004:

        Last edited by nando; 05-28-2012, 12:29 PM.
        Build thread




          Remember the ES100s? I learned my lesson when I nearly slid through an intersection. This time I was prepared with snow tires:

          I sold the IS lip/splitter to TJ and got a Rieger lip instead:

          This junker again?

          What a noob:

          MMMMmmm.. Pringles..

          Autox day:

          This was fun to set up:

          I hate stickers:

          I built a new head with a schrick 284/272.

          I got my 1st set of smoked Hella ellipsoids for $300:

          Up to this point, I still had a Sony MVC-90 camera... it used a FDD. yeah. I didn't bring it to the picnic because it got to be embarrasing (5 pics, change floppy disk, 5 more pics, etc). So the only pics are from other people.

          E30 picnic detail:

          E30 picnic drive:

          End of the year wash:

          Last edited by nando; 05-28-2012, 12:53 PM.
          Build thread



            This was a good year and a bad year..

            Early spring:

            I always sort of liked the body colored "i" lip...

            I got a parts car.. it was a nightmare to get it here. This rusty POS from NY:

            ...was eventually to become my 5 speed swap and stroker block. The head currently lives on in a 300+whp turbo motor:

            Some autox pics. Mount Baker autox:

            By this point, I'd become addicted to "hoosier crack"

            Launch time:

            Alright. So in the winter of 2005, I had a problem with the original engine. It was caused by my own stupid self - I had a pinhole leak in the TB heater. Not enough to lose significant coolant, but enough that over time, as I added water, I didn't have enough antifreeze left in the system. This caused two problems: 1 was a cracked block. 2 was corrosion in the C191 connector.

            I fixed the block with some of that stop leak garbage, but the damage had been done. I had a LOT of water in my oil. It survived for about 6 months by me changing the oil ever 500 miles or so. The cam lobes were trash. I never really opened up the block, but I assume it was trashed too.

            Obviously the thing to do was to build a 2.8l stroker, do a 5 speed swap, and refresh a bunch of other things all at the same time. right?

            This rusty thing would become my new 2.8 block (it did run prior, too):

            225,000 miles.. and it still has the cross hatching, no ridge at the top. BMW rules:

            86mm MM 10:1 pistons:

            5-speed and transfercase. Still fully working at 225k, no spline damage, good VC. Still in my car now, ~70k later. :)

            This pic got corrupted somehow, but this is the block after an 86mm bore/hone, cleaned up, painted with new freeze plugs:

            Mileage at the time of swap:

            Old motor and trans coming out:

            BTW, the auto trans was still fine, and I tried as hard as I could to kill it. I pretty much shifted it all the time, and when I autox'd I always ran in 1st gear.

            New engine being assembed: ETA crank of unknown mileage, S52 rods, MM pistons:

            The head I rebuilt earlier with the Schrick 284/272:

            Subframe ready to go with new mounts, steering rack, and everything cleaned up:

            Trans & transfercase cleaned up:

            Ready to drop in:

            final resting place:

            Oh yeah - doing something like this on jackstands/gravel sucks. But now I have a nice garage. :)

            A late night getting things bolted on/hooked up:

            Wish it still looked this clean:

            Pretty much done, first start in the morning:

            It was mostly unevenful - I ran into some wiring issues: stupid people posting about 5 speed wiring that was wrong, and I found out the ix intermediate shaft was different:

            But once it started up an ran, it ran well, and strong, and hasn't given me any real trouble in the ~70,000 miles since. :)

            Later in the year, engine broken in:


            As I said.. a good year and a bad year. The damage looks worse than it is - I replaced the hood, core support, one fender, valance, and all the broken plastic shit of course.
            Last edited by nando; 05-28-2012, 12:57 PM.
            Build thread




              Well, obviously my car was pretty busted up. My insurance company was great to deal with, luckily - we both agreed that their intial value estimate was way off (they couldn't even find one 325ix in their database, so they matched it off a couple '92 E36's, with over 180k, which are worthless). So we agreed on me hiring an indpenedent appraiser, and they would also hire their own. The final value would be agreed upon by the two appraisers.

              I actually washed the car before anyone saw it. yeah, pretty strange to wash a wrecked car, but I figured it would help the value assessment. ended up coming to $7k - that included many thousands in receipts and both of them found other ix's in the same price range. I also took off the horrible bottlecaps and put my euroweaves back on. the only negatives were my pitted windshield and my front seats (black doesn't match a gray interior, apparently).

              $7k was plenty of money to fix the car and get some nice goodies!

              being towed to the bodyshop:

              radiator support is mangled, but no frame damage (it was checked):

              new support wasn't even that expensive - around $100?

              no more airbag wheel:

              MA ShawCF hood. the box quite literally weighed more than the hood (10lbs)

              Rieger lip and Mtech valance from "eurostyle" in canada - unfortunately, he doesn't make E30 stuff anymore. the quality fantastic!

              Slowly being peiced together - new core support, right fender was straightened (you can't even tell, they did such a great job), left fender i got for $25, and of course the hood that will be painted:

              ready for paint. I had them fix a couple other problem spots while we were there:

              This is the part I really regret - they totally ripped me off on the paint. I did about 90% of the prep work, supplied all the parts, and did all of the assembly, wet sanding, buffing, and polishing. Yet they only painted half the car, and they charged me over $3500. It still pisses me off when I think about it now! the worst part is I had to bring it back once, because the fenders didn't match the doors at all.

              At least they did a good job prepping the CF hood - you can't even tell unless you open it. they also said it was the best fitment of an aftermarket hood they'd ever seen. :)

              misc parts ready for paint - the valance actually came with the rusty POS parts car. For whatever reason, there wasn't any rust!


              starting assembly - new stock radiator, 16" pusher fan, and tons of little plastic parts that broke or were missing:

              hood on but not aligned:

              exposed CF weave underneath - most people don't even notice

              Valance all painted up and assembled to go on the car:

              Wet sanding and prepping for the orbital buffer (they did teach me how to use one properly, at least)

              the end is in sight!

              washed and done!

              I actually didn't like the mtech2 valance with no spoiler very much. it made the rear end look saggy.. which is OK, because I failed to secure it properly and it ended up falling off.

              time to say goodbye to my loaner E30 - a beat to shit 318is. it had over 267k on the original clutch, which was totally fried (no more than 1/2 throttle). the timing chain tensioner had been neglected for years. oh, it also hit a deer. But for whatever reason it was still enjoyable to drive..

              finally, back to an autox! it felt so great to drive the car again. the CF hood (and AC delete) made a much bigger difference in handling than I expected, too.

              More autox with Issac's super clean eta

              E30 picnic! :D

              autox again :)

              Issac convinced me I needed to ditch the stock computer, so I built one of these as a PnP unit:

              PWM idle control:

              no more AFM:

              hidden away in the glovebox:

              It's so funny to hear people talk crap about MS - I just ignore them, they usually don't know what they're talking about anyway. This setup ran flawlessly in my DD for 4 years, and is in somebody else's DD E30 now.

              innovate WB wired into the stock O2 sensor plug:

              The MA Shaw hood has no provisions for windshield washers - so the ix washer tank was removed and sold.

              on my way to an E30 meet at the XXX:

              autox again!

              When I originally built the MS, the idea was that if I had a problem then I could just switch the stock ECU back in. Well, that never happened, and the car ran so much better there was no way I was going back to the stock computer.

              So the next step was logically to start modifying things further. No more cap/rotor:

              42# injectors

              in case I had plans for the future.. which I don't. ;)

              cleaned up the wiring a bit:

              most people assume I have a MAF conversion:

              not much snow in 2007:

              there were times in 2007 when I really, really hated my car.. it's just a stupid car, after all.
              Last edited by nando; 05-28-2012, 07:48 AM.
              Build thread




                I spent so much time working on my car in 2007, in 2008 I pretty much just wanted to drive it..

                200,000 miles and counting:

                autox - rain, snow, we don't care around here:

                notice the inside wheel - I was starting to outgrow the H&Rs :)


                back on the R-Crack:

                H&R sports = soft:

                yep. Time for better suspension:

                Late season snow. I don't even remember where this is..


                last ride height shot before the H&Rs come off:

                rear springs are stupid easy:

                Struts off for modification:

                there's actually a lot more weight in drop in springs, too:

                my welder did an awesome job - the big box section is the ix sway mount:

                painted to go on the car:

                well that was easy...

                all the way down (also with a bunch of crap in the trunk, it's actually level)

                sooooo much better!

                E30 picnic time again :)

                pre-picnic party

                Some random lady asked if she could photograph my car to be used in an E30 "stamp". I've never seen one, but if you ever do it might be my car. :p

                while the wheels still looked nice..

                new addiction: lapping days.. :D

                these are at mission raceway in BC. It's a pretty small track, but it was inexpensive and fun. We just got "the ridge" here in WA, hope to make it out there someday soon.

                autox.. people started asking to ride with me. hehe.

                check out her grin..

                test fitting some "new" (to me) rubber.

                that's it for 2008. I did accomplish my goal of driving the car more than fixing it. but then I get bored, like usual..
                Last edited by nando; 05-28-2012, 07:24 AM.
                Build thread




                  "minor" change. I had a pop noise coming from the rear. So I dropped the subframe thinking the IE bushings had gone bad. well, i was wrong - they were fine. I still have them, but I put the AKGs I bought in because they were a tiny bit softer. i'm pretty sure it was the poly bushing I had before. IMO, poly is a crap material for a diff bushing. Delrin is better but best left for a street car. I regretted installing this bushing as soon as I did it:

                  so much NVH! I lasted just a few weeks until I replaced it with this:

                  much better. still much stiffer than stock, but not enough to vibrate your eyeballs out of their sockets. also the "pop" nose is now gone..

                  winter mode pics:

                  we actually had a fair amount of snow that year, but I don't know where the pics are.

                  Oops. Poor dog..

                  (don't worry, he loves snow)

                  yeah.. pretty much the day I decide to swap the snow tires off for some 235/50-15 R888s, we get a freak snowstorm and about 6" in less than a day. actually, they weren't any worse than any other non-snow tire. Meaning, they absolutely sucked. But I nursed it home just fine, mindful of having no stopping ability. Note: Do not try this with RWD. ;)

                  even worse, I had no choice but to drive to work the next morning. they aren't any better on glare ice than snow.

                  finally nice enough for a bath (winter of 2008/2009 was VERY wet and cold)

                  got meat?

                  I did some tests on intake restrictions and found that the stock airbox was causing a big pressure drop:

                  I decided this was worth it even without a shield (based on temp measurements as well)

                  the sound is intoxicating..

                  no clutch fan, no cap/rotor, no washer resivior, no AC...

                  track day on the 235s :D

                  Oops. (it was raining)

                  I actually quite enjoy track/autox in the rain..

                  in the paddock

                  pretty much back to back.. except this time, no rain!

                  yeah.. this thing was fast!

                  gettin' my groove on

                  that time again - E30 Picnic :)

                  cleaned engine bay:

                  Satch Carlson was there.. I don't really love Dinan products, but I have a lot of respect for this car:

                  Also Satch is really nice to talk to.

                  I made this for about $5 using the broken ellipsoidframe from my accident

                  no, it's not a "ram air". that's nonsense - I did measure temperatures with and without it. it was very effective down to ~25mph. good enough for autox and certainly an HPDE. I'd feel like a retard DDing like this though..

                  I used it for my next track day - in the rain, of course (I love rain!)

                  The guys in the high dollar porsches didn't want to push their cars in the rain (an orange GT3-RS and the I-don't-even-know-what-it's-called-but-it-must-have-cost-a-fortune silver thing) . It felt pretty good to get around the yellow "slow" porsche tough. :)

                  Eventually it dried out and they passed me like I was standing still. FTL

                  that's pretty much it for 2009. winter comes and I put bottlecaps on - I don't like to take pics then. :p
                  Last edited by nando; 05-28-2012, 01:01 PM.
                  Build thread




                    One of the things I always regretted were the shorty headers - they were ugly/rusty, and too short to be of any use. there was zero difference in performance over stock, except maybe some small weight change.

                    So I picked up these and had some V-bands welded on the end:

                    RD M20 headers, these were for the E34. the E30 ones are different to clear the firewall, but that can be fixed with a BFH (and it's really not that bad).

                    in between that, the 250,000 mile VC in my transfercase finally started to let go. as it turns out, there's a rubber seal in the VC that keeps the "goo" inside, and it can only handle 250f. It was over 20 years old, and my guess is I probably just got it hot while tracking the car in 2009 (on one of the days, it was around 100f, the turbo cars were dropping like flies).

                    not too big of a deal, I had a 40k VC in my auto transfercase. so I just swapped the internals/rear half..

                    front half assembled (the slack in the chain is because the bearings aren't pressed on yet)

                    using the screws to "press" everything together works well:

                    while I was at it, I finally installed the UUC DSSR that I had modified for the ix almost 2 years prior..

                    don't order the wrong selector rod joint.. the proper one for use with a DSSR is on the left

                    The ix selector rod is a different length, and I had to file it a bit to clear the shift console and TC

                    transfercase in..

                    seemed like a good opportunity to study how the exhaust was laid out so I could plan a new one.

                    This is the reason the ix cat section is different:

                    the orginal ~220k cat is still good. just the shield was rusty.

                    My supersprint catback, on the otherhand, had seen better days

                    this is why you don't bring your car to a general service shop to have headers installed..

                    My new exhaust can't really be worse than that!

                    the intake manifold from my parts car:

                    there was about 1/4" of crap built up around the ports. no wonder the thing made no power. Also, the intake ports are significantly smaller than the ports on the head (which are already the same size as the gasket). so to gasket match all you really need to do is match the intake to the gasket size. conveniently, the old gaskets were stuck to the intake so I could tell exactly how far to grind. :)

                    meanwhile, I'd sent the headers off for ceramic coating, painted a new valve cover, and decided to put in my fog blanks (cheap chinese HID kit had failed, bulbs turned GREEN).

                    I really wanted something other than black.. so body color:

                    All I did was put it in a dishwasher on "pots and pans". For serious, it came out unbelievably clean.

                    Oh yeah.. headers:

                    having dealt with shops before, if you don't tell them exactly what you want, you won't get good results. So I planned out this sketch:

                    I ended up not using the burns Y-merge (he didn't want to weld on it, dang it!). also, he put the borla in the middle, and the dynomax in the rear. the borla sounds great, but the build quality on the dynomax is surprisingly much better. oh, magnaflow ceramic cat. BIG mistake. do not get a ceramic cat..

                    laid out on the floor:

                    I spent a lot of time researching exhaust to figure out how I wanted to build it. Basically: if you have headers that are made well and will work with your engine's powerband, everything after the merges is simply a restriction. a smaller exhaust pipe will NOT increase torque. it's an internet myth that backpressure = torque but it won't die anytime soon.

                    this article was a big influence:

                    as were these:

                    Header Basics You have probably heard words like: back pressure, scavenging, tuned length, merged collector, rotational firing order, compatible combination and many others that meant something, but how they relate to a header may be a little vague.  This article should give you a basic understanding of how a header works, what the terminology means, and how it plays a part in the header’s performance gains. The first misconception that needs to be cleared up is that a header relieves backpressure, but a certain amount of backpressure is needed for optimum performance.  Just the opposite is true.  A good header…

                    the original plan was to do 2.5" until the cat, then go up to 3" from there (utilizing the burns merge). But, the welder felt it would be too difficult to make the transitions (even though I gave him diagrams). Oh well - there's nothing wrong with a full 3" either. and no, I didn't lose any torque (actually, I gained a lot over a broad range).

                    installed (it only took about an hour!):

                    exhaust fabbed up:

                    I drove to the exhaust shop a few miles away with open headers. It was LOUD. My ears were ringing by the time I pulled up. I left at about 7am - I bet my neighbors hated me. :)

                    The guy actually did a fantastic job keeping it tight against the car. It doesn't hang any lower than the stock exhaust did, and it never scrapes. also, he artfully placed a bend right at the subframe so it doesn't hang low there either.

                    I felt that since 3" was more than large enough for my needs, the extra cost of all mandrel bends wasn't worth it (although some were used, I bought a box of 3" peices on ebay for $35). Also, according to Gustave, well made crush bends (under a certain # of degrees) can be just as good as mandrel, or better (if the welds aren't done right). Makes sense to me. :)


                    oh yeah.. 7500rpm. suck it, 24v swap. ;)

                    I hadn't optimized the tune for the headers, either, but I was planning something else, so it would have to wait.

                    Can't say I totally *love* the exhaust tip - but finding decent 3" single inlet tips is difficult. ideally, I'd find something that was 3" in and dual 2.5" out.

                    Same day:

                    Worked on my spare intake manifold a bit, port matching it:

                    Took it to an autox - who says ix's can't corner?
                    (blue is cornering, magenta is acceleration/braking.)

                    VR headgaset went. started pissing coolant into #6. Luckily, I was about a block from my house. I also knew the gasket was on it's last legs (they're a bit notorious) so I already had everything I needed.

                    You can clearly see which cylinder went..

                    "while I was there"

                    Almost back together:

                    Had my extra VC and that intake manifold powdercoated:

                    "Ported" TB. yeah, I got ripped off. still a 60mm plate.. and it was disgustingly dirty with crud and sand in every oriface. :(

                    they were to be used on a "new" project.

                    naturally, I became bored with my current MS2 installation and needed something new to tinker with. Lucky for me MS3 was coming out - and it has a lot of really nice features.

                    first thing was to build it. the kit:

                    a couple hours later:

                    it works! :)

                    move my accelerometer from the other MS:

                    the transistor drives the main relay (like stock).

                    I probably spent a good month planning the wiring. once I had a solid plan, I printed out my adapter chart and went to town - M50NV harness:


                    templates for coil pack holders and cam sensor cover:

                    many many hours spent customizing the M50 harness:

                    M54 cam sensor (hall effect)

                    coil brackets mocked up with D585 coils:

                    ~$100 for a set of 8. these things are awesome - tons of spark energy and almost impossible to kill. :)

                    C101 done, new relays, and diagnostics port done:

                    all done. I left the coil wiring for when it was in the car:

                    1/4" aluminum with templates ready to cut:

                    cam sensor "tooth" test fitment (1/2" steel tube)

                    hacksaw FTL. I do NOT reccomend doing it this way:

                    quick test fit:

                    MS3 installation: 1st attempt:
                    goodbye MS2 & stock harness:

                    Goodbye old dirty manifold:

                    harness in. VC and manifold in. Studs for coil packs tapped, drilled, and installed with loctite.

                    coil mounts finished. so many hours of grinding, filing, sanding..

                    coil packs in & wired. cam sensor plate done and mounted.

                    crank and cam signals work!

                    then.. fail. I was using output test to make sure I had the coils right. I made an error and the outputs to the coils got left on. they got REALLY hot -burned all the grease/oil right off them, couldn't touch them for a good hour. Also I wasn't able to communicate with MS3. I had no choice but to rip out the M50 harness, and put my MS2 back in.. lucky I could leave the cam sensor and coils, and the sensors are the same.

                    I was pretty sure I fried the coils so i set up a crude test bench:

                    amazingly, all the coils are fine and working 100%. They shocked the hell out of me multiple times..

                    MS3 attempt #2..
                    my trick for getting a vac line through the firewall:

                    Installed again. I had regained comms with MS3 (and learned what my mistake was that caused it to go haywire)

                    M54 cam sensor was the *perfect* depth:

                    it's also a "geartooth" sensor meaning the tooth doesn't need to be a magnet, it just needs to be ferrous.


                    It was relieving for it to start right away (it actually did start the first time, but I broke it). Tuning was pretty easy and most of my stuff from MS2 translated right over. it's also pretty cool to be able to change the way the injectors and coils spark with the engine running - wasted spark, batch fire, sequential, COP. you can't tell any difference going from wasted spark to COP by the way..

                    MS3 installed and running - still needed to clean up wiring:

                    at some point I took one of these:

                    did this:

                    so I could use this:


                    speed sensing wipers (e36, e34, etc) - automatically drops down a speed wen you come to a stop. :)

                    yay snow :)

                    that's it for 2010..
                    Last edited by nando; 05-28-2012, 01:04 PM.
                    Build thread




                      I really didn't do a ton in 2011 - we moved to a new house, plus I had a newborn, and I really didn't have anywhere to work for most of the year.

                      I did help my friend replace the motor in his E36 M3. He did something stupid and screwed it up pretty good. The plan was to use the crank & rods in a new 3.1 M20:

                      I also got a set of IE HD rockers to build a new head with:

                      I was planning 11:1 CR, 86mm, with a schrick 288, and maybe ITBs, something that could rev to 8,000 no problem (and make power, too). But I started thinking about it, and it was going to cost an awful lot when it was done. yeah, it would be sweet, but for the same amount, I could have a much, much better motor. So I ended up selling everything and working on a new project instead. :)

                      At some point I got really sick of my dim instrument cluster. I got the OE colored "backlight" gauge faces, and modified some E36 lighted needles:

                      I don't have anything better than a shitty cell phone pic, but it's much more amber, and brighter, than the pic shows. :)

                      At some point, I got really sick of mushy brakes. I'd tried everything - new calipers, new lines, new rotors, new MC. Guess what it was the whole time? The Hawk HPS. Man, they were awful - no cold bite, no pedal feel, and I couldn't lock the brakes if I tried. Ended up going back to regular Pagids and ATE powedisks.

                      Autox time - I let my friend co-drive the car. He was a few seconds slower than me, which shows the driver is more important than the car. I'm pretty rusty these days, too.

                      OMG snow! yeah, 2011 was pretty weak:

                      finally, the sun shines!

                      This little guy LOVES the E30:

                      man, he's so much bigger now, it's unbelievable.

                      Time to say goodbye to the parts car. Everything stripped off that was still good, including all the wiring, sensors and electronics:

                      original spare from 1987 (made in west germany!)

                      door plate:

                      cleaned up engine bay shot:

                      the little guy "driving" the E30 again:

                      The next few months were spent selling our house and moving into a new one..

                      I picked up these:

                      they're ix-specific, and a really nice design. the bearing is inverted like the stock ix, meaning it's mounted above the plane of the camber plate instead of below like the RWD cars. this was done for strut travel reasons.

                      compared to stock:


                      exhaust shot (didn't really have a good one of the rear)

                      I stumbled across these at a local "tire" junkyard. ix specific fitment, with caps, for $100? I don't know WTF they were doing there, but I grabbed them immediately (will be the new winter wheels, finally no more !@$%^ bottlecaps!)

                      Randomly, while driving home in the rain, the lever from the motor to the wiper linkage popped off. Temporary zip tie fix:

                      In the PNW, the wiper system gets used, a lot.. so it wears faster. :|

                      I did start considering the "new" project. I picked up an extra ix subframe:

                      And from a deep, dark, undisclosed BMW warehouse in germany, I got this box that hadn't been touched in 20 years:

                      it had this inside:

                      I got this on ebay, with a diff, for $200 from germany:

                      I picked up a pair of used cams for measuring and learning purposes:

                      they are far wilder than I would have guessed, for an OEM cam. I realized there was little point in a cam upgrade. :)

                      i wanted a 3.23 diff ratio instead of 3.38, but it will require too much work. the bearing sizes and ring thickness are quite different. I'm sure it can be done, but I'll save it for later and use 3.38's for now. These are the front R&P's, BMW uses a type 168front diff for all AWD cars (3.38 on left, 3.23 on right):

                      I bought a set of injectors to refurbish. later, I realized I'd been ripped off, and was sent injectors of a "lesser" BMW engine..

                      picked up a fuel pump. it fits almost perfectly into the E30 carrier. I don't have a finished pic, and also I broke the first pump, but the only thing that needs modified is the bottom for the larger sock opening:

                      I took a gamble and picked these up for $65. it wasn't worth it - they're not useable as-is. Oh well.

                      wanganstyle sent me a rear diff housing and bits to build a rear 3.38 with. I picked up a 3.38 off an auto E36 M3 to put in here:

                      when I build a 3.23, I'll probably use a VC housing instead of a clutch pack.

                      I don't think I'll use it but I did pick up a proper oil pump just in case I can't make the stock one work:

                      I need a different shift console to match the new transmission:

                      that's about it for 2011. mostly I've just been doing research, the parts I bought were to figure out how/what I was going to do later. :)
                      Last edited by nando; 05-28-2012, 01:09 PM.
                      Build thread



                        2012: (the end of the world!!!1)

                        Mild winter, but we actually had a couple weeks of good snow. Much fun on local farm roads was had:

                        I set up a test bench to work on some electronics stuff. I'm using a couple stims from my megasquirt projects to run DME's and instrument clusters. This was a first pass, it's a tiny bit cleaner now:

                        My current engine already goes past the end of the tachometer, so the stock cluster has to go. Working on this still..

                        many things need to be modified for it to work. I intend on making it plug-and-play into the E30 wiring with minimal mods. I have to adapt the E30 gas gauge senders to work as well as getting around having no LCM. My 13-button OBC will remain 100% functional, including range and fuel economy. My check panel will work except for oil level, which will be built into the cluster instead (actually, the cluster will duplicate the remaining check cluster functionality).

                        I made this:

                        had to move a capacitor to fit the board inside the E30 cluster housing:

                        input to the gas gauge ADC (SMD soldering, yay!)

                        Using an old VDO motherboard as my adapter. LC1 gauge controller on the left, glowshift oil pressure controller on the right:

                        I'm reusing the speedometer board to do my VSS conditioning. it should work just fine:

                        I can control some of the calibration with a resistor, the rest can be done in software. the big empty space is where I mounted the WB gauge controller.

                        Testing some of the lighting. I didn't have backlights working yet, but they will:

                        the 3-digit LEDs fit perfectly where the check control panel on the left was and the now-useless SMG indicator on the right. I also have adjustable brightness, but they were fine at 100%. Now I can have my ashtray/coin holder back and get rid of the totally useless center console mounted gauge cluster..

                        I picked up an extra 325ix transfercase to rebuild, and for mockup. I'll need to make an adapter plate of some sort:

                        I need to find a transmission before I can do that. I have the block from my friends M3 that we parted out for mockup too.

                        back to more immediate problems, my suspension is still terrible. I put in new koni inserts and dropped the spring rate 100#. it still sucks. I realized why - I have zero travel. well, <1" isn't zero, but it's close enough. So I'm going to redo everything, with shortened housings, and custom valved Bilsteins. I called the office in California, and they can pretty much do anything within reason. I'm hoping to shorten the housings 2". I was going to go with Koni Race inserts, which are 2" shorter than ix inserts, but they were being a pain, and I feel that having the valving matched exactly will be better anyway.

                        These are the rusty POS housings from my parts car:

                        I had to cut the tops of the tubes off. The gland nuts were so rusty they just collapsed when it tried to grip them.

                        Look at the gaping hole in the partiall collapsed spring seat.. yikes!

                        The bottoms are rusty, but they can be cleaned up. It'll get new bearings, dust covers, and stock ix swaybar links. I'm tired of the heim-jointed links squeaking after a couple years of wear and tear..

                        ashes to ashes, rust to rust?

                        I'd imagine, 90% of ix's that have rust, have strut housings that are broken like this.

                        At this point I'm trying to find inserts to have modified, and I sent the housings out to WOT-tech in Florida to be sectioned, cleaned up, and new parts installed (the local shops here are totally useless). I'll have the ix swaybar link mount moved down 2" so I can use the stock links.

                        I'm hoping to have the new setup done in June. I'll reuse the camber plates, rear shock mounts, and spring setup (ground control). The konis can be rebuilt but it's way too expensive, so I don't know what I'll do with them..

                        Since April I haven't worked on much, I took a position teaching a 3D modeling class, so I have no spare time until July.. the first thing I will do, is finish the cluster swap (yes, it will work with the M20). :D


                        I'm pretty excited about these!

                        they're still on their way from germany.. not cheap, but significantly cheaper than new, and they don't come up very often to begin with. plus, they look minty!

                        I also finally got the nuts off the rear output flanges on two of my spare transfercases. still need to double check the VC on the one I just picked up. I intend to rebuild the VC in the other case that has a failed seal.

                        also Bilstein HDs are on their way to Bistein in California to be shortened and revalved..

                        These puppies arrived finally:

                        They're in really great shape, no real play in the CVs, fresh boots, no rust. :)

                        Some fitment notes:

                        -The E34 ABS ring is about 8mm smaller in diameter. A longer sensor would need to be used. The E30 ABS ring could probably be transfered, but I'd have to turn down the E34 outter joint for it to fit. using a different sensor would likely be easier.

                        The larger hub nut thread isn't an issue at all. Even though the diameter of the threads is 2mm larger, the nuts are the same outside diameter. It should fit with no modifications at all.

                        The inner CV boots are the same, the outters are different but I haven't tried to see what cross references there are yet. I've got a couple sets of CV boots so I'm glad that some of them are the same thing!

                        The E34 passenger axle is slightly longer. I think this is because of the wheelbase. The entire assembly with the oil pan and diff is probably wider with the axles splitting the difference. The only potential snag could be if BMW moved the diff centerline closer to the driver's side. I hope not.


                        My wiper transmission is shot, and my blower motor is making a lot of noise when it's cold. May as well get two for one..

                        Wiper trans is supposed to be a bitch. I'm doing it with the intake manifold out to make it easier. I wasn't sure what to expect.

                        coming apart:

                        "Old" blower motor was actually a reman from 2001, but I messed up the balance when I pulled it from my parts car:

                        Old vs new:

                        It's not "broken", it's just plain worn out. every ball joint was loose and even with a new rod to the motor it popped free again after only a few months of use.

                        New back in:

                        Uhm.. that was easy? seriously, it took maybe 5 minutes to pull it out of there. I don't get it? the blower motor ended up being a much bigger PITA. the recirculation flap on the drivers side had broken (there's a rod connected to a servo motor inside the car to open/close the flap, the plastic had become brittle and cracked). So I had to take apart the blower housing and put it back together several times before it was done.

                        New linkage, you can see the rod/flap that had broken in the lower left, I glued it back together and it seems to be holding:

                        wiper linkage done..

                        several hours later:

                        total time spent on the wiper linkage, including setting the park position: 15 minutes
                        total time spent on the god damn blower: 3 hours!

                        He's "helping" me:


                        intake back on, mess of shit everywhere:

                        almost done:

                        all back together - the best part is, it still runs! :)

                        Prior to this I also had a bunch of oil leaks. I figured it was the rear main seal and HG. well, I happend to have all new intake manifold gaskets, a new VC gasket, rocker shaft plugs, tube-o-death o-rings, etc. After replacing all of that, the only leak left is my rear main! and it's not even that bad.

                        I'd also planned on swapping the 42# injectors for M54B30 ones, but the adapter/extenders I got are the wrong diameter, so I'll have to return them and get different ones. oh well.

                        now I have a brand new wiper linkage, brand new blower motor (replaced the resistor too, although my old one is fine), and I already had a new wiper motor. Hopefully I never have to open that cover again..

                        Still working on that cluster swap. I redid the signal conversion board, the op amp couldn't provide enough current to drive the backlights at more than 3v. I'm going to just switch 5v to them using the E30's light switch:

                        Got the speedometer calibrated (I can change the speedo/odo to whatever I want). working on straightening out the fuel gauge curve, then the electrical part will be finished..


                        Finally finished the new suspension :D

                        Full build, here's the lighlights:

                        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:

                        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.

                        New housings 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.

                        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:

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


                        No more bottlecaps! I sold them with my old worn Blizzaks for $100. The girl was happy to put them on her Kia, they were actually nicer tires than what she had on. lol!

                        I'd picked these up the year before for $100. I was going to spray bomb them, but I decided to have them refinished instead. total cost for the wheels after refinishing is about $650, and I think I could resell them for at least $600 - so I didn't feel bad about that investment.

                        here's the before:

                        here's the after:

                        Test fit:

                        Mounted, without spacers:

                        I did end up getting a set of 13mm spacers so I could run the centercaps, but it was cold when I put them on so I didn't get pics.

                        I didn't do much from October through December, which is pretty typical. My garage is unheated and mostly uninsulated - plus it's always dark and rainy. Not very motivating. :p
                        Last edited by nando; 03-22-2013, 10:15 AM.
                        Build thread



                          2013: not the end of the world

                          Haven't really touched the car much, but I'm working on some stuff. taking the management in a totally different direction:

                          Built this for somebody else:

                          washed and waxed the car:

                          if all goes well this year, mechanically I won't have to do much physically other than possibly a timing belt/water pump and a valve adjustment.

                          Other plans are:
                          -Swapping the 42# injectors for some 24#
                          -Having the exhaust tightened up, and 2 more O2 bungs welded in to the collector
                          -Install a different fuel pump (maybe, might not need to)
                          -Finish the electronics stuff I've been working on for the last 2 years (cluster, etc)
                          -*maybe* attempting to make the suspension a little more compliant..

                          I also really hope I can make the E30 picnic this year. We'll see..
                          Last edited by nando; 03-22-2013, 10:24 AM.
                          Build thread



                            This space reserved for 2014..
                            Build thread



                              I decided to go ahead and post this, because it was getting hard to keep everything together in one huge post. :p

                              there's a few typos and I want to add some more videos..
                              Build thread