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My Forever Car: '89 325i Touring

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    Really looking forward to following this.


      Cool build!
      My previous build (currently E30-less)

      A 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD 4x4 Offroad in Inferno is my newest obsession


        this is great!


          How to remove, install or convert to pop out windows

          Could be better, could be worse.


            It's on

            -----I drink and I know car things-----
            1989 325i Touring - Daily W.I.P.


              Are you not using the 53bz box anymore?
              RHD OBD2 M50b25 turbo build thread:


                I'm going to try to fit the 53bz this fall. I didn't have the time to fab the parts to make 6-speed fit, and I was sick of driving a slush box. Speaking of which...

                Finally acquired a third pedal. Write-up coming soon.
                -----I drink and I know car things-----
                1989 325i Touring - Daily W.I.P.


                  Loving the detail in your thread. Look forward to following your thread
                  1986 325es(Possible race car?)
                  1987 325e (the show car)
                  1992 525it (the new daily)


                    oh man im stoked for this
                    1984 Delphin 318i 2 door


                      It's so good to daily a manual again…

                      It took way longer than it should have, but the manual swap and rack swap is now complete. Getrag manual swaps have been covered to death, but there's surprisingly little documentation on the RHD swaps. I'll try to cover the differences as well as I can.

                      Step one was engine/trans/subframe removal. I opted to take the engine out from the bottom because I'm lucky enough to have access to a lift. This took the better part of a day, but I wasn’t in a rush and didn't want to break things in the removal process.

                      The car came with anti-theft lug bolts and I didn't have the key, so out came the drill.

                      Then I found the lug key in the ash tray, the only place I didn't look. This discovery was followed by a new-to-me string of expletives I didn't know I was capable of.

                      Looks like the front plate took a bullet for me at some point. +1 for front plates.

                      Whole lot of sweat later

                      Transferred to the shop for refurbishing

                      Yeah, my mounts were shot. Luckily I bought new Revshift mounts (Michigan represent!) just for this occasion. 80A polyurethane, because I'm not a masochist.

                      The subframe was pretty gross but it wasn't cracked. I'll take that as a win.

                      E46 "purple tag" rack mounted in the subframe. Little did I know that it'd have to be removed and reinstalled several times while bending the shit out of the power steering lines.

                      Speaking of the power steering lines, I wholly underestimated the effort required to get the lines to fit. The RHD E30 rack has outlet holes offset by 90 degrees while the E46 rack has them in the same plane. In order to get them to line up properly I used a propane torch, a bending tool from O'ReillyZone, a press, and swear words. There's a guy on the E30Zone that makes custom lines for rack swaps. They're pricey but 1000% worth it. Bending lines sucks, the end result looks jank at best. I found that wrapping the lines around the back of the subframe made for the best routing.

                      Beyond bending the lines, the only modification to the rack itself was to this plastic dust boot. Just a little trim.

                      Pictured here is the very high quality Flaming River steering linkage I intended on using. I figured since I'm swapping I can use all the exhaust clearance I can get. However, contrary to my research, my non-airbag RHD steering column is in fact a 36-tooth spline instead of the 56-tooth that the internet thought it was. Therefore, the super-nice u-joint I bought for this swap wouldn't work. So, back to the stock linkage.

                      There are a couple of options laid out on E30Zone, but two of them require the bottom linkage from different cars in order to form a Franken-linkage. The other is to remove the guibo and bolt the linkage to itself. That's no good because then the u-joints will be in-phase with each other, causing non-linear steering response. The option I went with is to fab a plate to bolt the linkages to. It also requires the linkage centering pin to be trimmed by about 13mm and for the centering bushing to be drilled out to mate up to the thicker pin area. I sourced some 10mm bolts from the random bolt box and bolted it up.

                      Onto the main event…

                      For the nerds in the group I weighed the auto and the manual back to back.

                      The auto weighs roughly 37lbs more, plus fluid. The manual trans had fluid in it.

                      Clutch and flywheel mounted. These were sourced from an IX parts car. I had a 325i clutch and flywheel from the same car that the trans came from, but the IX parts had less wear. I didn't consider that the IX pressure plate is stronger than the standard I plate, but I actually like the feel.

                      I used new OEM pressure plate bolts, a new Timken sealed pilot bearing, and a new Timken throw out bearing. I also installed a new OEM clutch fork pivot pin because of course the one in the trans looked like this:

                      Here's the RHD pedal box, as received from the UK. It had definitely seen better days.

                      I distilled that assembly to this:

                      Everything you need to swap an RHD pedal box to manual. The bracket for the RHD box is the same between auto and manual, so all you need is the pedals, springs, long bolt, and master cylinder. All of the rubber was severely deteriorated so I got some new ones from the dealer. Also got a new Sachs clutch master cylinder.

                      Auto box out. Not as painful as expected, but then again my only pedal box experience comes from an airbag car, which was designed by engineers with no fucks left to give.

                      Manual pedal box parts cleaned, painted, greased, and installed.

                      Kick-down switch removed…

                      And OEM throttle stop going in.

                      Another thing I grossly overlooked was the clutch hard line. RealOEM showed that the soft line is the same part number as the US models, so I ordered the Garagistic coated stainless line along with other goodies. The hard line was a different number but didn't specify length. So I figured that the manual box I got from the UK would come from the hard line like my US swap box did, but my lizard brain didn't consider that the clutch master is ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CAR. Dumb full of dumb. So I asked the Book of Face and an RHD owner said that the line runs along the firewall. Sure enough the clips that hold the brake line also hold the clutch line, and the auto cars have an open slot in the clips where the clutch line mounts.

                      I used some shitty unleaded solder I had lying around and mocked up the line…

                      …that then magically that becomes a steel brake line.

                      I'm really happy with how it turned out.

                      On to the trans itself. The trans bolted right up, as did the starter. I don't envy anyone that has to do any of those bolts on the car. While I had the assembly out I decided to clean up the wiring and hose mounting underneath the intake manifold.

                      Fabbed a home-brew selector rod. $2.83 in steel and an hour and a half of fab time.

                      Mocked up the AKG shifter to make sure everything fit.

                      Finally ready to go back in.

                      Those with keen eyes will notice that the trans bracket is flipped. Took way longer than I want to admit to figure that out…

                      Finally back where it belongs.

                      Refurbed driveshaft with serviceable u-joints, sourced locally.

                      The CSB was pristine, but the bracket was too wide for my tunnel. I was unaware that there were two different CSB sizes. Luckily I had a new one lying around.

                      Fun fact: this car's exhaust manifold is one piece, and the manifold gasket is nearly identical to a US 318i. I needed to womp out the holes just slightly and it fit just fine.

                      I also found no documentation on RHD swap wiring, so I had to brute force it and trace the wiring. After tracing the starter relay wiring to the right of the glove box, behind some plastic trim. There are two black/yellow wires and connectors, which have to be disconnected and reconnected to themselves. This is the only wiring needed beyond connecting the reverse switch from the manual trans.


                      AKG shifter installed, along with interior.

                      I used neoprene fender washers from the hardware store as vibration isolators underneath the shifter plate. It worked surprisingly well. I sourced the e-brake and shifter boots from Matt-B here on the forums a while ago. High quality material and very quick shipping. They look great!

                      Lastly was the fluids. I use AMSOil and Redline in the race car with really good results, so that's what I'm using in my daily. I use AMSOil 10w40 Premium Protection in the engine (due to the high zinc content), synthetic power steering fluid, and NLGI #1 multi-purpose synthetic grease throughout. I used Redline 70w90 for the trans, and BMW Blue for the coolant.

                      The trans drain plug was installed by the Hulk so I had to wait to drain the fluid until the trans was back in the car.

                      The fluid was a bit dark but there were no chunks and the shavings were very fine. All looks normal for a high mileage (200,000mi) trans.

                      The first week of driving gave me mixed feelings about the feel of the trans. I was pumped to finally have a manual again and the clutch feel is quite nice, but the shift effort was uncomfortably high. It felt like I was going to snap the shifter going into any gear and the gates were hard to find. I didn't know if it was bad synchros/detent springs, the AKG shifter, or my inexperienced left hand. However, the more I drive it the more it frees up. It's now fairly comfortable going into 3-4-5, but it's clear that the 1st and 2nd synchros are shot.

                      The tightness of the AKG shifter is certainly impressive, but I think that a little throw length could be sacrificed for lower shift effort. Maybe its the womped out trans. Small complaint for such a gorgeous piece.

                      The E46 rack swap on the other hand: awesome from the start. It can't be overstated that a rack swap is a must-do for any E30. The lively steering has highlighted how soft the chassis is though... Chassis upgrades are next up.
                      -----I drink and I know car things-----
                      1989 325i Touring - Daily W.I.P.


                        Things are happening.

                        -----I drink and I know car things-----
                        1989 325i Touring - Daily W.I.P.


                          I hope this LARGE teaser will be followed with lots of pics/documentation this weekend.
                          1984 Delphin 318i 2 door


                            I love detailed build threads. Nice to know the auto -> manual swap drops ~35#, and was that on a stock single mass flywheel?

                            I just completed the swap on my car and I had my flywheel lightened from ~18# to 12# and I kept all the shifting pieces OEM-ish with just an IE DSSR and Garagistic bushings on an otherwise stock shifting assembly. Feels great
                            Current Car:
                            -2003 Mini Cooper R50 (daily)
                            -2002 MR2 Spyder (project)
                            Previous Car Count : 24 ... and climbing...

                            Make R3V Great Again -2020


                              Originally posted by 2mAn View Post
                              I love detailed build threads. Nice to know the auto -> manual swap drops ~35#, and was that on a stock single mass flywheel?
                              That was with a stock, unmolested single mass flywheel.

                              Nice work finishing your swap; I've said it before but the autos really do ruin these cars. My homebrew linkage has been great so far, with the only slop coming from the trans internals themselves. Unfortunately the synchros are pretty tired, and that combined with the AKG leverage make for some uncomfortably stiff shifts. Luckily the 420G is on deck...

                              I'll try to compile another update this weekend, but the M3 is staying in tact for the next month or so, or at least until the Elhart 5-lug kit gets here.
                              Last edited by -J-; 04-13-2018, 08:36 PM. Reason: Clarifying that the flywheel was single mass.
                              -----I drink and I know car things-----
                              1989 325i Touring - Daily W.I.P.


                                Nice thread, nice longroof, good documentation. Surprised I missed it for so long :)
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