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My Euro Swapped 325es (13+ year project)

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    My Euro Swapped 325es (13+ year project)

    TLDR: this thread documents my 13+ year journey turning a $250 shitbox into a slightly cooler and more expensive shitbox. A lot of my time has been focused on collecting rare/interesting parts while improving and modifying nearly everything along the way. Nothing is sacred about this car - it's meant to be driven and look cool.

    I've tried to be candid about some of the mistakes I've made along the way because I'm not an expert and have used this car as a way to learn about working on cars.

    Hey people, I’ve owned this car for the better part of a decade now and I feel it’s time I finally made a real thread. This car is my project and daily driver, and is quite possibly the only thing keeping me sane with my 50+ hour a week job. Behold my noble steed!

    Here's how she looked when I found her:

    It’s a 1986 325es coupe, manual, in Alpine/Pacific Blue. It’s my second e30 – I hard-parked the first one into a curb and was too inexperienced to know what to do with it, so I let it go. Biggest regret to this day. My dad and I bought this one in 2010 for $250 in semi-running condition it but needed a transmission, so we dropped in a mystery-Getrag from Craigslist and she’s been (basically) running ever since.

    Right after bringing her home:

    Sometime in high school I thought it would be a good idea to spray up the front quarter… But I'm pretty much sick of it and I think I’ll be getting rid of it pretty soon :?

    It stayed pretty stock for about 5 years while I went away to college, but now that I have a job I’ve been able to throw a lil bit of cash at it finally.
    First thing I did after getting back from college was to take care of some long-overdo maintenance like timing belt/water pump, new coolant hoses, clutch master/slave replacement, etc.

    Had the shift linkage rebuilt and added a 1.9 lever and ZHP knob which improved the driving experience 1000%. Also cup holders because functional racecar.

    She looked like this for a while.

    Then I found out what the inside of my oil pan looked like:

    That was a huuuge bummer, but not wanting to lose 2 e30’s to curb-related incidents, I had it towed to my guy in Oxnard and a few days later had a new oil pan, sub-frame, control arms, and bushings. Good as new!

    The fart-cannon muffler was cool for a while but the piping totally rusted out, so I replaced it with a much more sensible stock system. Although I miss setting off car alarms in parking garages :(

    Then I installed JOMs:

    They ride alright for DD purposes, although my car's low enough that I scrape the cat when I drive into steep ass underground parking structure.

    Didn’t want to bust another oil pan (had bad enough luck at stock height) and my radiator support is too bent up for a red46 skid plate, I threw down for the HIK severe duty plate (the one welded to the frame). It's suuuper low so I smack it around a lot, but I feel pretty invincible and I'd rather bash up a skid plate than my oil pan.

    Recently acquired these cool OZ Routes:

    They’re 15x7 ET12. Had the fenders rolled since they were rubbing the rear arches. 3mm spacers in the fronts to clear the struts, might space out the rears a bit (10mm or maybe 15mm).

    Now I guess I’m pretty much in the beautification stage. I have an ES air dam with OG brackets/fogs and a new valance ready to install. Scored a clean dash too, but I'm on the fence about installing it any time soon, or even at all.

    She’s a constant work in progress but I’m really happy with how everything is shaping up. I have a huge ultimate to-do list, but short-term goals are to install the air dam, re-spray the rockers black again, and hopefully improve the sound system (only running front speakers now).

    Eventually I'd like to get the body totally straight, reupholster the seats/improve the interior in general, then fix up the driveline (diff whines/leaks, engine ticks a little, shifting is still a littttle sloppy despite the linkage rebuild).

    Here's my other bae ;)

    Looking forward to keeping this updated with my progress turning this into a respectable automobile! She's not the prettiest car around but I’ve put a lot of effort into keeping her on the road and it’s always nice to get my hands dirty and learn something new working on her.

    Last edited by WestCoastEta; 06-04-2023, 12:57 PM.

    Sub'd.. love your ES ;) Those OZ Routes made a huge difference in looks!
    FS: Plug n Play Second Trunk Light !
    My Parts for Sale Thread~

    x 1984 325e 2.7i ~ CastroMotorsport Built x Daily Driven


      Thanks man! Yeah I really like the OZ's. I wanted something unique but that doesn't look too out of place, so had to snag these when I saw them for sale.


        Nothing too major, but spaced out the rears a little to fill out the gap and match the fronts. Figured 12mm would probably put me where I wanted to be so I ordered a set Motorsport Hardware. Now I'm thinking now 12mm might have been a littttle much, but here's how she looks:

        My rusty bondo fenders and tires that were scraped up before they fell into my possession

        I'm rubbing a little on the right side on acceleration and over some bumps so I might try to pound out the contact point... I found out some welding had been done inside the wheel well which might be the reason it's rubbing. Also I feel like the right sits lower than the left in the rear so I might raise it a few threads and that could help. These JOM's are just such a pain in the ass to adjust :x

        5es ftw

        I also wanna bring the fronts down a notch, but it's hard to justify lowering it more with how shitty the roads are around here.

        I'm prepping the new valance and air dam for installation hopefully this week if I have enough time! It'll make the car look soo much better I think. I did some shoppin' to get an idea.

        As she sits now:

        With air dam, painted rocker, and dropped a smidge in the front:

        That's it for now.


          Damn your car is perfectly stanced.. i can't handle :D :firehop:
          I wish I would set my car that low but i don't have the guts to lmao
          FS: Plug n Play Second Trunk Light !
          My Parts for Sale Thread~

          x 1984 325e 2.7i ~ CastroMotorsport Built x Daily Driven



            It's not quite where I want it yet but I appreciate it! The skid plate helps instill confidence. I bang the plate around a lot, but it also sits a good few inches below the oil pan. I'm a little nervous about smashing the air dam when I finally put it on.


              Sweet car. I would get rid of the white fender with the stencil on it


                Thank you, and yeah haha definitely not for everyone. Some days I like it, others I hate it. Lately I've been toying with a few ideas to cover it up ;)


                  Hmmm... German replica centercaps for my wheels. ~$60 shipped... Good deal or nah?



                    Dam son, look what I did today

                    Ended up being a 5 hour job all said and done 💀

                    The major hiccup was getting the bumper off. The left side suffered a collision at some point in its life and the bumper is dented inwards, making it super hard to access the mounting bolts. Ratcheting wrenches help but god it was a PITA getting it off and on.

                    A few things to note:

                    • Working outside on a public street sucks. Have I mentioned how much hate leaf blowers?

                    • I almost ripped the whole thing off when I backed off the ramps :eeek: guess I'm stuck using jack stands from now on.

                    • I need to figure out how to attach the sides of the dam. The left side is warped and won't even snap into place... Thinking I gotta drill into the valance and bolt it in place. Any other suggestions?

                    • Got a look at my drivers side frame support behind the fender, and it's pretty banged up. The front quarter must have taken a nasty hit at one point, which explains the replaced fender and why nothing seems to fit correctly. Managed to get all the new parts in place, luckily. You can kinda see the damage here (supposed to be a lot closer to the fender):

                    So yeah I'm beat after all that. Btw, notice my upside down headlight? I can't for the life of me figure out how to rotate it. I took the whole headlight unit out and there's no way to flip it 180º. I think it's the lens that needs to rotate. Either way, I picked up a set of sealed beams for free and I might just swap em in because I'm tired of blinding oncoming traffic.

                    In other news, my sticker collection is growing:

                    And the skid plate has been doing its job

                    That's it for now :weak:


                      I've been wanting to get ramps just like those to jack up the car but I forget it won't clear #lowcarproblemz 😪😂
                      So I just use five 2x4s on each front wheels as ramps to get clearance and barely fit my jack under the valance
                      FS: Plug n Play Second Trunk Light !
                      My Parts for Sale Thread~

                      x 1984 325e 2.7i ~ CastroMotorsport Built x Daily Driven


                        Haha yeah I carry a 2x4 in my car too! The ramps have always been great for getting underneath... Maybe I'll look for a set with less of a slope that won't rip off my cow catcher. The nice thing about my skid plate is I can use it as jacking point for my floor jack, so I carry that around with me wherever I go :D

                        Your dam looks clean, did you install it yourself? I just bought these side brackets and need to figure out the best way to epoxy them to the plastic.


                          If I remember right, my cowcatcher bolts to the valence on the sides, worst case just drill into the bumper and valence, plenty of zip tips. Its going to have a rough life and chances are the OEM plastic bits that are supposed to hold it together are going to get destroyed
                          Current Cars:
                          -1999 996.1 911 4/98 3.8L 6-Speed, 21st Century Beetle

                          Make R3V Great Again -2020


                            PO installed it. Funny story but I accidentally parked to close to a front curb at a restaurant and knocked it off. He had drilled holes into the metal bumper and used zip ties. The sides of the valance were actually tucked into the bumper. I'm thinking of just using screws, washers and bolts instead of zip ties as I don't want to drive home with the valance In my car again lmao
                            FS: Plug n Play Second Trunk Light !
                            My Parts for Sale Thread~

                            x 1984 325e 2.7i ~ CastroMotorsport Built x Daily Driven


                              i remember those wheels, i sold it to Jay last year IIRC.. lol
                              - Fercy -

                              Classic BMW Specialists
                              Santa Clarita, CA