No announcement yet.

Project Armo "330i"

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Project Armo "330i"

    This is my endless project that I've been working on for
    five years now. I used to have an E30 316 as a daily driver and loved it. I had big plans for the car: M-tech 1, motor swap, etc. But at some point I just had admit that the shell was just too bad and scrap it. I had purchased quite a bit of parts so I just needed a better shell so I bought another one and started a slow process of
    tweaking it to my liking while semi-dailying. Eventually I found out that this shell was not pristine either and rust started to raise it's ugly head all around the car. About at the same time a couple of my work mates were looking for a garage to share and maybe a few more people to share it with so I joined them and decided to tackle the rust and go through the body as well as I could. I had no previous experience of welding or doing bodywork but I wanted to learn it. The rust repairs have taken a lot of time. At the same time I've been acquiring parts and working also on other areas. Initially my plans for the car were not very clear. I had bought an M-tech 1 bodykit and I wanted it on the car but for the powerplant and other things I had a million different ideas.

    During the project my idea of the car has evolved and become more clear. I drive quite a lot because of my work and hobbies. Nothing insane but about 30 000 - 40 000 km/year. I want Armo to be a nice solid, fun-to-drive daily driver for summertime. The car is going to be well equipped rather than super light. So maybe a bit closer to Alpina than M3. The plan is: Alloy block M52B28 (to be upgraded to 3l), power steering, M-tech 1 kit, central locking with remote control, power windows, AC, cruise control, black interior with leather seats (lately I've been questioning the black interior so it might change into extended tan leather in future), center armrest etc. On the outside the car will stay close to original with the addition of M-tech 1 kit, mild lowering and the wheels. On the inside it will be not so original but in the spirit of OEM M-tech. I have sourced pretty much all the parts and overhauled many of them
    Here's the plan with status so far:

    - Go through the whole body and repair any rust - 98% of the bodywork is done. Currently I'm assembling the engine and making last preparations for painting the body. Target is to have the car running in some setup in 2019.
    - When finished, the body is repainted in original colour, Zinnoberrot with clearcoat added.

    Motor: "M52B30"
    - Motor acquired from E36 328i. Should be in good running condition. EDIT: wasn't the case. Pistons had clear detonation marks.
    - Overhauled head
    - M54 crankshaft, pistons and con rods
    - New M54B30 vibration damper
    - Crankshaft position sensor moved to the rear end of the crank using M54/M52TU sensor
    - Fuel: E85
    - Cams: 252/9,6 reground
    - S50B30 Euro ITBs with adapter
    - S50B32 intake runners, plenum and filter box
    - E23 hydroboost with modified position to give space for the intake. - Necessary modifications for firewall and pedal assembly done.
    - All new seals, bearings, belts, chains etc
    - Remap for the ecu
    - Assembling the motor in on the way (13.12.2018)

    Stage 2, when the car is running and driving:
    - A lot higher compression ratio
    - Solid lightweight flywheel
    - Bigger cams
    - Possibly dual vanos fitted to the head
    - Going in the footsteps of Pazi88

    - Exhaust manifold: Ebay stainless headers - slight modification after collectors
    - Exhaust: Pretty much full custom stainless exhaust in 2x2" using 328i mufflers and E36 Scorpion catback which also required some modifying to fit adequately.- Finished

    o E92 330i 6-speed gearbox - bought and fitted
    o E36 325iA drive shaft - bought, should be fine but needs to be test fitted.
    o typ. 188 2,93 LSD differential with E36 rear lid. Rebuilt with new bearings and additional friction plate pair

    - E30 325i suspension with ABS. Camber and toe-in adjustment plates installed - bought, cleaned, adjustments made, painted.
    - Camber adjustment with custom top ends
    - Front sway bar link mounting points moved to struts
    - 60/60 lowering springs with Boge Turbo shocks, may change into something else. - bought

    Outlook, options, small stuff:
    - M-tech 1 bodykit - bought
    - A-C - bought and overhauled
    - Powersteering with E36 rack - bought, replaced the tie rods with new ones.
    - All the chrome stays chrome. Some of the trim may need polishing and new anodizing. - Excellent condition parts for bumbers bought. Assembly required.
    - M3 front seats in black leather - Bought
    - E36 sedan/coupe hybrid rear seat - Bought and modified to fit nicely - required quite heavy modifying on the coupe bottom part.
    - I will likely dye the seats tan and have the center console and the door cards upholstered in tan leather at some point.
    - Bronze tinted windows with rear popouts - Bought
    - M-tech 1 steering wheel - bought
    - ZHP weighed shifter knob - bought
    - BBS RS 16 wheels with stainless steel lips - Bought and refurbished. Fronts 7x16et15 with 205/50 tire, rears 8,5x16et20 with 225/45 tire.
    - Rear-view mirror with reading lights - bought
    - Central locking with remote control - bought
    - Black headliner - M3 headliner bought, needs some work. May need rethinking if seats are tan
    - Front headliner panel without the check-control hole - bought, will reconsider this

    For all the pictures of the build go to:
    There's a lot of pictures but they are divided into categories according to build stage and location.

    Here's some pics along the bodywork project. There turned out to be quite a lot of rust:

    Last edited by Skarpa; 02-20-2019, 03:56 AM.
    E30 Armo "330i"

    The car as I bought it:

    -87 316 with (supposedly) decent body and mostly cosmetic flaws:

    Well, there were also some issues with side indicators and I soon found out the reason:

    The same day I bought the car, a Mercedes Benz backed into the front corner at a parking lot. I was pretty pissed.

    Repairing the fender and front bumber would have cost more than the car so insurance company would have totaled it but I chose to have a bit lower monetary compensation and keep the car instead.

    tires on the bottlecaps were pretty much done so I installed the MIM1900's from my earlier E30.

    Also I switched the 60/60 suspension kit from the previous one.

    EBC is starting to look pretty faded after sitting out for a few years.
    Last edited by Skarpa; 08-15-2017, 04:59 AM.
    E30 Armo "330i"


      Last edited by Skarpa; 05-15-2016, 10:01 PM.
      E30 Armo "330i"


        The switcher arm bushings were pretty worn out so switcher had a lot of free play. Also the faux leather boot was a goner and the knob had been fixed with shrink plastic sleeve. I replaced the worn parts of switcher and but in leather boots for switcher and handbrake. The switcher is the Z3 1.9 model and the knob is the weighed ZHP model. Good combination with a bit smaller shifter movement but the knob looks a bit off in early model E30

        Stock E30 shifter and Z3 1.9 side be side

        The bent front bumber required some attention:

        I did find end piece of front bumber in good condition but not the center piece. For the time being I just straightened the center piece, the fender and the front valance the best I could.

        Last edited by Skarpa; 08-15-2017, 04:31 AM.
        E30 Armo "330i"


          The front bumber had some surface rust on the inside. I wire brushed the inside of the parts and gave them a coat of self-etching primer + epoxy

          Outside got a dose of cotton buffing wheel and polishing compound.



          Rear bumber received the same treatment
          Last edited by Skarpa; 08-15-2017, 04:25 AM.
          E30 Armo "330i"


            BMW roundels were cracked and faded and needed to be replaced.

            Also one of the headlights was cracked. Being on a budget at the time, I bought a used one. It was otherwise ok but there was a layer of grey dust or other residue on the inside of the glass and the reflector. It's pretty hard to get any brush inside the lamp but some water, rice and dishwashing soap took care of that.

            Almost as good as new:

            Last edited by Skarpa; 08-15-2017, 04:23 AM.
            E30 Armo "330i"


              The car received also some other touch-ups. It came with a clock in instrument cluster instead of tachometer. That was the standard issue in European 316's. I switched the insrument cluster into tachometer one. Not to lose the clock, I switched the dashboard center panel into one with a clock. (digital at first)

              Later I replaced the clock with more aesthetically pleasing analog one.

              My previous E30 donated sport seats and fabric floor mats to replace the extremely worn out flat seats and missing rubber mats. Steering wheel got upgraded to M-tech 2 one (not period correct for early model).

              After the modifications I was pretty happy with the looks minus the dented fender. The car also served well on the road.

              Last edited by Skarpa; 08-15-2017, 04:20 AM.
              E30 Armo "330i"


                The valve train of the engine was starting to get worn. There was awful rattle when the engine was running and it was clearly missing upper end power. Left over from my previous E30 I had another M10B18, fully overhaulded (sealings, bearings, valve train etc). Over a weekend my brother and I swapped the engine.

                His 635 CSI looks tiny compared to the grandeur of my E30 ;D

                Old engine:

                Car lift we used:

                Old radiator to be replaced. This one has seen a bit too many bugs.

                Along with the motor we swapped the gear box into 5-speed overdrive one. European 316s came stock with four-speed box.
                Last edited by Skarpa; 08-15-2017, 04:15 AM.
                E30 Armo "330i"


                  Last edited by Skarpa; 05-15-2016, 10:02 PM.
                  E30 Armo "330i"


                    New engine was much more pleasing than the old one. It ran nicely but M10B18 is no rocket even in good condition. I had other plans in my mind for the engine. I was not yet quite sure what the future powerplant would be but whatever it was, the suspension and brakes would need to be upgraded. I bought full 325 axle setup with ABS. The 325i:s the same age as my car came standard with ABS so that's what Finnish law requires me to have when upgrading the motor.

                    The axles were mostly in good condition. The trailing arms had only ruface rust but some of the bolts very pretty much rusted solid. Plan was to take everything apart, make camber and toe-in adjustment plates for rear axis and paint or powder coat everything. After that everything would be assembled with new bearings, bushings, cables, and such.

                    Someone had decided to paint the front bearing.

                    When removing or installing the trailing arm bushings, a care should be taken not to bend the trailing arm. The two sides of arm should not be pulled towards each other or pushed away with a jack. A good trick for pushing out the trailing arm bushings is to place open wrench with suitalbe size aroulnd the bushing housings. Wrench will lean agaist the welding seams and can be used to support a gear puller:

                    Front struts ready for blasting and painting. Although I may move the sway bar attachment into strut the M3 style.

                    On closer inspection the other parts were okay but the rear subframe was a bit too crusty so I bought another one.
                    Last edited by Skarpa; 08-15-2017, 04:12 AM.
                    E30 Armo "330i"


                      When starting the project I had very little experience in welding, machining and bodywork and I wanted to learn as much as possible. I was going to make the camber and toe-in adjustment plates in the rear subframe. I could have bought the plates readily made for 40 euros but I decided to make my own. At my workplace there was an old milling machine.

                      6x40 Flat bar for raw material:

                      I was pretty happy with the result. Although it was clear that the linear guides of the machine were worn. There is a bit free play in the machine head and it can be seen in the surface quality

                      Last edited by Skarpa; 08-15-2017, 04:08 AM.
                      E30 Armo "330i"


                        I measured the position of the plates in the subframe and noticed that they would protrude a bit from the existing brackets.

                        Probably no problem, but I wanted to correct it anyway. I cut the brackets flat on top and added a couple of centimeters of material.

                        One of my first welding jobs, I was pretty happy with it:

                        After that I checked the position of plates, cut of any excess and welded the plates in. The camber adjustment is on the inner brackets and it's asymmetric, so all adjustment is to decrease negative camber from the original position. Toe-in adjustment is on the outer brackets and it is symmetric to the original hole giving plus-minus adjustment.

                        Last edited by Skarpa; 08-15-2017, 04:05 AM.
                        E30 Armo "330i"


                          The subframe already had zinc primer on it and I didn't want to sandblast it away so powdercoating was no option. I primered the bare areas with self-etching primer, then gave the part a coat of 2-component epoxy and finally top-coat of industrial polyurethane paint.

                          RAL2004 , nice, bright colour to brighten up the engineers day during yearly inspections. It's actually pretty close to J├Ągermeister orange.

                          The ball joints in front wishbones were a bit worn, so I got rid of them and painted the wishbones. Powder would have been an option but I already had to paint for the subframe.

                          Some steel wire wheel and phosphorous acid later:

                          The rest of the parts are basically ready to be sandblasted and powdercoated but I haven't got to that yet. Also there's quite a pile of new parts waiting for assembly.

                          Last edited by Skarpa; 08-15-2017, 04:05 AM.
                          E30 Armo "330i"



                            MIM 1900s are nice wheels but when my workbuddy force-sold me BBS RSs I couldn't refuse. I'm not quite sure what the BBS designation for these wheels is originally. They are 16" with original bolt pattern of probably 5x120. The bolt pattern has been modified into 4x100 and the center holes are steel sleeved to correct size

                            Inner barrels are 5". Outer lips have been changed to 2" in the front and 2.5" in the back, making the front wheels 7,5 wide and the rear wheels 8". I was a bit doubtful of the wheel specs. I'm not big fan of the "down n out" style with with undersized tires on oversized wheels with excessive negative camber. I wanted the tires to fit in wheel wells with reasonable camber. I test-fitted the wheels on the car to see about that.

                            Looks otherwise good but the rear tire is not gonna fit when the camber corrected.

                            This is actually rear wheel in but it serves for measuring. Not gonna happen, not even with 0.5" narrower actual front wheel.

                            Measurement shows that front wheels needed to have 1,5" lips.

                            I decided that if I'm replacing lips, I may as well go stainless to avoid constant buffing. I ordered stainless steel lips. 1.5" for front and 2" for rear.

                            Rear wheels would have been a bit narrow for my taste. I measured that I can fit wider barrels in the rear. Luckily I found 6" barrels dirt cheap with a small crack in one of them. When fitting them on I found that they were actually the maximum. Any wider barrels would have hit the shock absorber.

                            I took the wheels apart and sent the 6" barrels bolted to center pieces to a wheelshop to have the crack repaired and barrels checked. Turned out that my centers were not true. The hub flange surface had been machined crooked when the bolt pattern was changed. I took all the wheels to shop and they checked and corrected each of them.

                            Last edited by Skarpa; 08-15-2017, 03:56 AM.
                            E30 Armo "330i"


                              The plan was to scruf up the barrels a bit and slap some paint on them but I just couldn't do it when I looked at the barrels closer. So I blasted then with glass beads, bondoed, sanded, primered and painted them.

                              The lips had ok shine to them already but I buffed them up a bit more.

                              The center nuts were a bit banged and some of them had even some paint residue left so they took a fair amount of sanding before polishing.

                              Then it was only matter of assembly

                              Couldn't be happier with the wheels

                              Rear tire fits nicely. Although the inner lip of fenders needs to be rolled up.
                              Last edited by Skarpa; 08-15-2017, 03:50 AM.
                              E30 Armo "330i"