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I've always hated convertibles - 1990 325i Vert Build

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    I've always hated convertibles - 1990 325i Vert Build

    I figured I would make a project thread here to document the life of my 1990 325i Convertible. I will probably be editing this post over the coming weeks, however I felt it necessary to just get it started - so here we are. This is probably going to be in journal fashion - aka it may some boring information regarding my wants and desires, past, present, and future. :yawn:

    A little background - I don't like convertibles. Always been a coupe fan. In my eyes, convertibles usually just look weird compared to their coupe twins due to the lack of the c pillar. It just seems to make the rear end look strange. My mother and father have 1977 and 76 alfa romeo spiders. So you would think it would be in my blood to enjoy verts. Yeah perhaps if I actually every saw them running in my youth This was/is the general state of those alfas for the first 25 years of my life:



    I've been daily driving my e46 325xi since 2011 when my parents were kind enough to gift it to me. Purchased from my moms anal boss who bought it back in 2001 and had it dealership maintained until 148k when she sold it to my mother @ $4k. An absurd amount of stuff had been replaced - for serious stealership prices, which is why she ended up selling it. I was provided all the records and good lord I can see why she had had enough! By 148k I think she had gone through 8 window regulators... after the warranty was up she was paying around 350-400 for each one



    They had one stipulation: apart from the purchase price, everything after that was on me. At that point in time I didn't really know anything about cars. So after 6 years... let's just say I have learned quite a bit.

    I quickly found out that I enjoy wrenching on cars very much. In fact I regret not getting into them earlier. It's always bugged me that I can only realistically work on my e46 on weekends as I need it to get to work come Monday. So last spring I decided to pick up an e30 in an effort to scratch that wrenching itch for real.

    Fast-forward to the first 'affordable' e30 I found on craigslist. A 1987 325 red (idk what shade) automatic houndstooth interior e30 with 109k on the clock. Woo! BETTER BUY IT! So I picked it up without really knowing much about e30's other than I wanted it and this one seemed priced much lower than the 5-8k examples on craigslist. Here are my two red heads the day I purchased the e30:





    Welllllll. turns out there was some really strange vibrations going on in 2nd gear which I somehow didn't feel when I bought it. I got around to cleaning the interior and documenting all the stuff that would need to be addressed. I found a massive gash in the floor pan under/behind the passenger seat which I still can't really see how it got there unless this car was ridden up onto a sharp rock or something. Perhaps that would explain the lack of a lip on the valance?? Look at this - it looks like it a can opener or something



    At this point I was slightly regretting my purchase. I decided screw it, let's make the wrenching serious - and I settled on swapping an m5X + 5 speed in. I picked up various parts such as the e34 oil pan and so forth from this deceased BMW:



    Around that time, a co worker came into work with an e30 325i convertible that was better than my e30 in just about every single way - 5-speed, sport leather interior, bav auto strut bar, not an eta, seat heaters, etc (although 219k miles). She had purchased it for her husband as a "weekend sports car to cruise around in." Whelp - she got it from "2-4-6k cars in PA." The dealer there said this was a one PO car. (turns out it was actually 8 lol - is that even legal to lie like that?) After buying it, she goes to get it emmissions tested and registered or what not and the mechanic informs her it won't pass unless they put in $5,000 dollars worth of parts and labor. She was not having any of that and was bitching about it all the time at work. Naturally I asked her all about it and saw the print out she got. It was all stuff that wasn't super serious, but required a lot of labor or was straight up blown out of proportion.

    Here it is the first day she brought it into work. I obviously creeped and got photos and such:









    Well. My lovely coworker was taken aback that a 26 year old car would need some work. She began negotiating with the dealer about selling it back to him. So......I had actually spend more moeny on my 325 than she had on this convertible. After the dealer was giving her the run around, I said I would buy it off her if I could sell my e30...... how did that turn out you say? I ended up with 2 e30s





    I was feeling pretty good - strapped for cash - but pretty damn good:



    A week later I got rid of the 325 coupe for a solid loss of 600 bucks. Whatever, I felt that was worth the upgrade to the 325i. Just so you have an idea of what e30's are going for in Baltimore around 2016 - I bought the 325 for $2600 (I know, I know) and sold it for $2000. Bought the 325i for $2,300. Sold the e34 m5x swap bits for $100 (pan + dipstick tube + oil pick up - purchased at 18 dollars) Also made some money back by finding 2 sets of style 5's at the junkyard and reselling those:



    All in all, it was quite the learning experience, and I am very happy with my 325i I now have. Next post will get into the good stuff - parts and wrenching!

    Here she is back at my house:



    And one more of my cars after selling the coupe - I feel like I have the perfect combination of vehicles: A convertible and an all wheel drive BMW :)

    Last edited by BaltimoreBimmer; 09-30-2017, 10:03 AM.

    #2
    funny thing you mention about hating verts. I did almost all my life but one day my buddy had e30 vert I never road in, and boy was it nice out and nice to drive it around town, Ever since then I've owned one.. actually ended up buying his when he sold it.. Welcome to e30 world. plenty of us around here.

    Comment


      #3
      After Purchase State Inspection

      Originally posted by fight4life28 View Post
      funny thing you mention about hating verts. I did almost all my life but one day my buddy had e30 vert I never road in, and boy was it nice out and nice to drive it around town, Ever since then I've owned one.. actually ended up buying his when he sold it.. Welcome to e30 world. plenty of us around here.
      It is strange how you start to like it over time. My mom has a c70 hardtop convertible but....it's just not the same. Whenever I drive it with her and she wants to put the top down I still roll my eyes slightly. Something about this e30 boxy ragtop gets me. So....I may still hate convertibles... just not the very one I own


      Ok, so I think a good place to start the documentation is with that Md state inspection my coworker got before I bought it. Keep in mind, this is the automotive company that is directly next to our company and is owned by the same guy who runs our company. So he encourages us to use them and we get a sweet sweet 5% discount

      This is all word for word what is on the report:


      DIAGNOSIS

      1) Sputtering, started wed. driving highway the check engine light will come one, the rpms gauge is all over the place. Slower speeds it feels like its gonna "konk out" and it has stalled out

      Fails MD State inspection for the following:
      1)drivers front seat recline broken
      2)front tint below ASI line needs to be removed
      3)moisture in right taillight and 3rd brake light
      4)back up lights do not work
      5)can start the car wihtout pushing the clutch. Has it been bypassed??
      6)left lower ball joint has play
      7)power steering pump leaking
      8)power steering line from rack to reservoir leaking
      9)rack leaking
      10)exhaust has several leaks
      11)rear sway bar links are cracked
      12)shifter bushings are worn and need replaced

      Things that need fixed but are not part of MD state inspection:

      1)no ac belt - looks like ac compressor is locked up
      2) multiple oil leaks
      3)will need a clutch very soon"

      Ok and here is how they priced it all out:

      PARTS

      1) Clutch Kit : 520.50
      2) Flywheel : 616.28
      3) Tail Light Lens Right : 268.58
      4) Third Brake Light : 326.32
      5) Ball Join Front In : 63.30
      6) P/S return hose : 66.75
      7) P/S Pressure hose : 97.30
      8) P/S Pump : 428.36
      9) Man. Trans Shifter : 88.79
      10) Man. Trans Shifter : 12.98
      11) Man. Trans Shifter : 36.08
      12) Sway Bar Link - Rear: 57.03 (for only one tho?)
      13) Quiet Flow Muffler : 459.56
      14) Exhaust Gasket : 13.67
      15) Exhaust Gasket : 21.54

      Also - AC Compressor Bad parts for seat not included does not address oil leaks

      LABOR

      1) Disassemble seat to see what parts are needed to repair recline - 2 hours - $186
      2) Diagnostics for backup lights not working - 1 hour - $93
      3) Diagnostics for clutch switch not working - 1 hour - $93
      4) Replace right taillight and 3rd brake light assembly - 1.2 hours - $111.6
      5) Replace left lower ball joint - 0.9 hours - $83.7
      6) Replace power steering line from rack to reservoir - 1 hour - $93
      7) Replace power steering pump - 2 hours - $186
      8) Replace power steering pressur eline from pump to rack - 1 hour - $93
      9) Replace rear sway bar links - 1 hour - $93
      10) Replace bushing in shifter - 2.5 hours - $232.50
      11) Repair exhaust leaks - 1 hour - $93
      12) Replace clutch - 6.5 hours - $604.50

      Labor : 2,047.30
      Parts : 3,077.04
      Supply Charge : 35
      Tax : 186.72
      Total : 5,346.06
      Woo! What a list! Yikes, should it scare me? Perhaps, but I decided most of those things were within my capabilities to repair so I went ahead and bought the car from her. After all, the whole point of this car was to be able to work on it and wrench around instead of messing with my daily. You would think I would have been able to negotiate it down a bit (i paid what she paid the dealer) but she's annoying and I wanted the car. Oh well.

      Also, interestingly enough, the car came with a Bently, 4 winter tires on the car, and 4 summer tires in the back/trunk. Well.,..3, because the dealer forgot to give her the last one and she said she would get around to picking it up from him. She didn't end up picking it up as she was pissed he sold her a "bum car" and he basically started ignoring her. Then she got fired/let go, so I am officially not getting that last tire. So now I have 3 summer tires... and I couldn't seem to find that tire online. I will check again, but they are out at my parents house in their shed so that will have to wait. Car also came with some spare fluids, a diagnostic tool, and extra brake pads. The car also had a fair amount of the Previous Owners records! Here's what we got:

      I got printed out records of this car back to April of 2008 - when it was at 192,300 miles (it was 219k when I bought it) - so not a huge amount of paperwork, but certainly more than nothing:

      Last edited by BaltimoreBimmer; 09-30-2017, 10:04 AM.

      Comment


        #4
        Exhaust Leaks + Cat Cover

        So. After buying the car and seeing the records, it was clear some things needed to be addressed. The first thing I did was give it a good look over. A few things stood out

        1) The exhaust was shit. I could actually see a 6 inch long crack a few mm's wide in one of the pipes after the cat:



        2) The catalytic coverter was looking pretty fucky:



        I looked around and ended up buying a new Bosal muffler from partsgeek.com as well as a hanger set. One of my favorite games is monster hunter and I couldn't help but think this muffler would make a badass hunting horn:



        I don't know much about welding but the welds certainly look ugly.... My dad ran a machine shop down in the inner harbor so I figured I'd ask him what he though. He says the welds were sound, albeit not pretty What do y'all think?

        Bosal Muffler various welds:





        Decided to tackle this job at my girlfriends parents house. Her dad loves messing around with stuff like this, so I figured I would give him some entertainment. I was able to fit the muffler system into my e46 since I retrofitted fold down seats (still WIP lol):





        See that lexus parked there? His son uses that car. I had the bright idea of leaving my keys on the hood of his car. He ended up driving away with them on his hood... and I was fairly positive that I was absolutely fucked. My keys at the time had my last e46 master key as well as both of my e30 keys on it. Ended up finding them probably 1/2 a mile away. It was terrible, and it occurred at dusk. Lovely. Thank god I found them.

        Also.... the muffler had a pretty significant hole in the top:



        The hanger system I bought with the muffler did not fit my car. It was supposed to fit onto a car with 4 rubber muffler hangers (2 per muffler strap), while mine had only 2 (one per muffler strap). So in order to get it to work, I had to actually reverse one of the straps. Due to the angle at which they are attached, this ended up not really working out. You can see in the pic how there is that small bump out. That should be on the other side. The muffler would contact the drivers side shock/strut at the extreme end of it's play.



        In order to fix this, I actually have to use the other strap part (aka not flipping it) but this will require some custom work as it doesn't fit due to the way they created the hangers. At the time, my GFs dad had actually thrown the extra pieces I didn't use out... This past week I ended up finding those remaining piece so I will be addressing that soon.

        For the cat, I peeled off the rusty and broken heatshield, which in turn had some fiber based heat shielding material under it. Took all that off and was left with this:



        See how the section to the left is less rusty? That's the part that was previously covered by the heat shield. Hopefully removing that isn't a huge problem. I didn't notice adverse effects after a solid drive to the beach and back. Afterall, the metal heatshielding above it is still intact. If this proves to be problematic, I will have to address it.

        After the exhaust was put on I drove it around for 250 miles before putting her down for her initial tune up. It was during this time I noticed it would contact the rear shock on occasion (could only make it happen on sharp left turns when on a significant downward grade.

        Comment


          #5
          Lawl at the "we can start the car without clutch depressed, was it bypassed" comment.

          Good start!
          My previous build (currently E30-less)
          http://www.r3vlimited.com/board/showthread.php?t=170390

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

          Comment


            #6
            Initial Tune Up

            Lawl at the "we can start the car without clutch depressed, was it bypassed" comment.
            ^yup. I haven't looked into that, so I have no idea what is normal behavior for e30s. Found that funny as well, they actually put two '?'s in that statement. I pictured them scratching their heads while saying "....uh." I'm assuming like any other car, it should require the clutch depressed. Given there is a strut bar in the car I decided one of the several POs had probably done this on purpose? Not sure.

            Now that you mention that, I'm thinking back to my interaction with the mechanic. Since they are directly next door to where I work, I popped over during a lunch break with Michelle (it was still hers at the time) to review his writeup as I was interested in purchasing. I had a face to face talk with this guy who was basically saying I was thinking about buying a total lemon. He said it was absolutely not worth anywhere near $2,000, much less $2,300. I bantered with him for a while telling him that I went over those problems and for me it would just be the cost of parts. He kept saying "you'll have to put in 2x the price of the car AT LEAST." I told him the reason I was getting the car was to work on it. So obviously things would have to be fixed. I also raised points regarding how the body was in great shape, the paintwork was good as well, and the canvas top was in exellent condition (later found out tensioner straps were shot), and that the e30 market was massively inflated. Eitherway, I left that place with a sour taste in my mouth. Idk if this guy was telling me the car was terrible to make michelle feel better or something, but it was rather strange. Haven't been back since, although he may have a point about it not being worth $2k.


            Ok, now that I had the muffler system worked out I figured it was time to address the timing belt. According to my POs records, the last time it was changed was at 194,560 miles - car was sitting at 219,745 - so well within the 60,000 miles. However, this was back in 2011... so just about 5 years. Perfect timing ;D

            Parked her out back of my place. Unfortunately, my "off street parking spot" is really just a dirt patch behind me house. On top of that, there is a filthy whore of a tree, the only one on our entire block mind you, hanging it's sappy branches and bird butts over my lovely canvas top. This made a car cover an absolute must. I picked up a Noah BMW e30 car cover. Seems to do the job nicely and even has a window for the license plate. I'm not a fan of the "BMW" letters on the hood of the car cover, but I can deal with that.

            Ok, I lied. I bought the car cover for my coupe but kept it for my vert. The guy I sold the coupe to thought my brand new car cover was also included in the sale. No.




            Back to the tune up; it happened in a couple different stages. I was having trouble deciding what exactly I should replace. I didn't want to replace unnecessary things, but on the other hand, I didn't want to gloss over needed maintenance. Here's what I ended up with (in the first batch):

            Camshaft O-Ring - Elring Klinger & Genuime BMW (orderd 2 for some reason)
            Camshaft Seal - Coretco-CFW
            Timing Cover lower gasket -Victor Reinz
            rocker shaft plugs - Victor Reinz
            PS/AC/Alt Belts - Contitech
            Water Pump with Gasket - Graf
            Thermostat - Mahle Berh
            PS Hose - Steering rack to fluid container - Cohline
            Timing Belt Kit - Contitech (belt + pulley)
            Engine Oil Filler Cap - URO
            Valve Cover Gasket - Genuine BMW
            Timing Cover Upper Rubber Seal - Genuine BMW
            Tensioner Spring for Timing Belt Pulley - Genuine BMW
            Guide pin for belt tensioner - Genuine BMW
            Thermostat O-ring - Genuine BMW
            Fuel Filter - Mahle
            Feeler Gauges for valve timing
            Spring loaded valve adjuster
            Crank seal -Genuine BMW
            Obligatory parts picture:



            Cool, let's get to work! The beauty of having OEM suspension is the ability to get completely under the car without using a jack whatsoever - assuming you remove the bumper, lip, & engine shield. This is key when your parking space is grass/mud. So I started in:



            Removing stuff:



            Water pump replacement:



            Cam seal:



            Lovely new WP and Tbelt accessories:



            Ah yes. I mentioned that my initial tune up occurred in a couple different batches? Yeah... when I was removing the ignition wires, one of the distributor nipples broke off with it. Ok....that means order new parts yes? Yes.

            Second batch parts list - let's call it "electrical tune up"

            Distributor Cap - Bremi
            Ignition Rotor + hardware - Bremi
            Spark Plug Wire Set - Karlyn STI
            Adjusting Bracket for PS - genuine BMW (cuz i broke mine)
            I also bought the following spark plugs from AutoZone: ACDEL R43XLS. Don't buy them. The ignition wires did not fit. Swapped them out for Bosh Super + spark plugs



            After a while I figured I hadn't spent enough on my e30 so while she was still down I bought my last batch of items:

            Let's call this "hose tune up" ....w/e

            Lower Radiator Hose - Rein
            Thermostat to Throttle Housing - Rein
            Heater Hose - cylinder head to Heater Valve inlet - Rein
            Water pump to thermostat housing - Meyle
            3 way hose - Expansion tank to thermostat housing to heater outlet - URO
            Water hose - from throttle housing - URO
            Upper Radiator Hose - Meyle
            Thermostat housing to water pipe - Meyle
            Crankcase to throttle body - Genuine BMW
            Brown Coolant Temp Sensor - Genuine BMW
            I put most of the hoses in, but not all - a couple of the hoses leading up to the firewall didn't fit correctly. I will get into that during my winter teardown. It has to do with the heater valve recall. Regardless I simply cut the hoses in question to fit.

            Obligatory picture without the valve cover. Is it looking healthy??



            Noticed there was some oil deposits in the throttle body:



            I went ahead and replaced pretty much all the parts I've listed above. I did not use the lower timing cover gasket or the crank seal. Too much at the time. I adjusted the valves as well. Here's the annoying part... no matter how godamn long I bled this car....even with the front end raised up higher, I just couldn't get the engine to dead noon. It would stay right at the tick to the left, sometimes b/t that and noon, but never high noon. (I think I am going to buy another thermostat and rebleed before I button her up from this winter, more on that later). Thoughts?



            And with that, my initial tune up was complete! I will admit one "doh" moment, b/c we all have them... I almost had a heart attack when turning on my car the first time. Turns out I had only hand tightened the waper pump pulley. It was basically smacking against the engine or something and making a terrible noise. One quick look and a mad dash to cut the engine later, I had them torqued them down

            Between my spastic purchasing habits and an obsession with Battlefield 4, this work took about 1 month to complete. To be honest, that month was the most relaxing and content I have been in a long time. As I mentioned earlier, I got this car so I could wrench around on in my spare time. I had no idea how calming it could be to come home from work on a sunny day only to head out back, pop in some headphones, and work at whatever pace I wanted to. Not having to get it back together for work really changes the attitude from "This MUST work or I am fucked" to "meh, I'll put that broken piece on order at ECS Tuning with will-call shipping" (they just added an option where shipping is free, but it will only ship out when they have another order in your area or what not).

            Took the vert down to Ocean City for a weekend at the beach house. I won't lie, I was pretty nervous about the long trip. My gf got this pretty cool picture. I like how my "National Aquarium in Baltimore" hat is framed in the rear view. Also... you can see the temp gauge is still a bit low :



            So I gotta ask... is it lame to wear my e30 bimmerfest shirt while I drive my e30 around? I think yes, but I do it anyway :devil:



            Getting closer to being up to date. Next post will cover cosmetic items, b/c we all need those
            Last edited by BaltimoreBimmer; 03-21-2017, 12:35 AM.

            Comment


              #7
              Awesome build thread! Definitely enjoy the detail in each post. I also wasn't a fan of convertibles until I owned one. There isn't much better than top down with a manual gearbox (with an engine that will rev). Verts are awesome summer cruisers. I was taken back at first by how loud trains and 18 wheelers can be with the top down

              Not much better than top down with a manual gearbox.

              Also your car reminds me of the one featured in this Miami Horror video
              '91 "318is" slick top M50 turbo
              '97 Dodge 3500 12v Cummins
              '12 Mini Cooper S
              '89 318i Chump Car Project

              Comment


                #8
                Im always in for a good cabrio build. :up:

                COTM

                Comment


                  #9
                  I was never a fan of convertibles either til I drove what ended up being my first e30 vert several years ago, still haven't driven another model and/or make of convertible I like. Good work!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by BaltimoreBimmer View Post
                    ^yup. I haven't looked into that, so I have no idea what is normal behavior for e30s. Found that funny as well, they actually put two '?'s in that statement. I pictured them scratching their heads while saying "....uh." I'm assuming like any other car, it should require the clutch depressed. Given there is a strut bar in the car I decided one of the several POs had probably done this on purpose? Not sure.
                    I loled at that comment too, because E30s never had that feature. That's why it doesn't work.

                    Does MD inspection actually check all the things they listed there? Talk about thorough. In the past 10 years, NJ has cut its safety inspection, and emissions inspection for cars older than 1995.
                    2000 A4 1.8TQ | 1988 325is | 1976 280Z | 1953 CJ3B

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by BoostinEuros View Post
                      Awesome build thread! Definitely enjoy the detail in each post. I also wasn't a fan of convertibles until I owned one. There isn't much better than top down with a manual gearbox (with an engine that will rev). Verts are awesome summer cruisers. I was taken back at first by how loud trains and 18 wheelers can be with the top down

                      Not much better than top down with a manual gearbox.

                      Also your car reminds me of the one featured in this Miami Horror video
                      huh, that does look like my car.

                      Originally posted by N2MYE30 View Post
                      Im always in for a good cabrio build. :up:
                      thanks!

                      Originally posted by mtekjosh View Post
                      I was never a fan of convertibles either til I drove what ended up being my first e30 vert several years ago, still haven't driven another model and/or make of convertible I like. Good work!
                      thanks, it's strange how they grow on you.

                      Originally posted by rturbo 930 View Post
                      I loled at that comment too, because E30s never had that feature. That's why it doesn't work.

                      Does MD inspection actually check all the things they listed there? Talk about thorough. In the past 10 years, NJ has cut its safety inspection, and emissions inspection for cars older than 1995.
                      You know, I'm not too positive. I think it's hit or miss with where you go, but technically, yes, they should check those things. Idk what they are talking about with the seat though. Is it really a fail if you can't recline your seat? I think their argument is that if it theoretically falls back when you are driving, it's a huge risk. And if it can't recline properly, then something is up
                      Last edited by BaltimoreBimmer; 06-05-2017, 09:38 PM.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        ~Cosmetic Entry~

                        Cosmetic Entry:

                        -also, I'm wordy, so deal with it-

                        Time for an update - it's been a while, but I like to have at least some fun pictures, so I think it's worth it. Ok, I lied, I've had these pictures for a while, but am just really lazy about updating this. I want to be able to do daily updates as I go about things, however it's the whole catching up to the present that I am struggling with. Where to start…

                        So I've have the car for just about a year now. I bought it last June. In that time I've picked up a few unnecessary items. Fun stuff, but definitely not necessary. I still have a few things to pick up, however I think I am off to a good start in the cosmetic department.

                        One of the main reasons I decided to trade up from the coupe to the convertible was the state of the convertible top. Had I needed to replace it at purchase, I almost certainly would have passed. It looked impeccable when I first laid eyes on her that faithful day back in May. However, after having her in my possession for a while, I've found out her weaknesses. Although the top appears to be in good condition, the tension straps aren't quite up to snuff. This means I have to walk around to the passenger side to completely put down the top. I know, straight up plebe status over here. Not sure why I am talking about this, because I did not buy new tensioner straps.



                        Ah yes, due to the tension straps being stretched out, I have to manually push forward the second U-shaped top piece to facilitate the stowing of the top. If I don't, the rear piece will not flip forward (or upward from its closed position) completely and the tunneau cover will actually make contact with the softtop frame - popping off that plastic piece on the tonneau piece. This is kind of unrelated to my problem but close enough I figured I would mention it. Regardless, the PO had put a piece of duct tape to hold it down. I removed the flap entirely - notice how terrible it looks (passenger side flap is missing):



                        Here is the part that actually broke - you'll notice it's the tiny plastic piece that holds onto the spring - in fact most of it is still there, just the very top nub that broke off. I am missing the spring as well (probably flew off when that broke).



                        So I raided the junkyard and was lucky enough to find an e30 convertible.

                        *Side Bar Thoughts*

                        Tooling around for e30s in the junkyard, I ran into a nice fellow named (????). This was actually back when I was pulling parts for my engine and transmission swap when I had the coupe 325. I was pulling out the pedal box and this fellow e30 fanatic chatted with me for maybe 45 minutes about what parts I would need to make it work and what I should avoid and so forth. Turns out this guy has an s50 swapped convertible, so he certainly knew his stuff. I've noticed you run into two kinds of people at the junkyard - well three. The first would be people who just ignore you and are looking for other cars - the most common. The second are those who are looking at the same car as you - and therefor feel threatened by your presence so they double down and essentially "dibs" the whole car once you arrive and give you dirty looks until you leave. The third type, and my favorite, would be like (????) who see you and strike up a conversation about the cars b/c it's clear you both are interested in them. I've found roughly 5 people like that over the past 2 years of junk running. Always a pleasure - and yes, I got his phone number - and yes, he ignored me when I texted him randomly asking a question lol.

                        *back to the 325i*

                        I was able to get out the piece I needed, complete with the spring! I did however break one of the larger tabs on the underside of the piece, which you can see below. Luckily, there are 3 retention clips, one of which compensates for that.







                        I had a pretty hard time tbh getting that spring in place. I thought that I would break the one I just pulled, but I got it on. When you buy the piece new, it comes with the flap and spring installed.



                        Ok, next thing I noticed about the car on day one: this trim piece here on the side is hanging off along the door. Appears to just require some new clips. Still looking into which clips and how many I will need. Chime in if you know anything.



                        After really getting into it though, I found some scary stuff. Number one: this here bendy spot - wtf?

                        behind the wheel along the arch of the fender, sort of between the two trim pieces - notice the fender is slightly pushed back



                        Well that would certainly explain why the trim popped off - because he (she) hit something causing it to bulge out! Ok, well there doesn't seem to be any other obvious damage so I chalked it up to him just turning too sharply in his driveway or what have you and catching something behind the front wheel, on the fender. Right? Most likely not….

                        Check this out: opposite fender has been replaced. No VIN - broken epoxy piece. Hmmm…. There are no records of accidents and it is not a salvage title. So perhaps that is some reassurance? Not sure what to think, however I'm hoping the car isn't totally fucked frame wise or that it was in a bigger accident and had been repaired. Perhaps they were not even related and he was just replacing a dent. Really not worth it to stress about. I looked around the entire front end to make sure nothing else seemed to have undergone metal work or hammering. Nothing stuck out. OEM front lip and valance are in impeccable shape. (I wrote this draft a while back) I actually got around to looking into this and pulled off the inner wheel well plastic guards (note: both studs into the chassis on the top of the wheel arch have broken off….so those will need to be spot welded back on). If you look, you can see the fender was indeed pressed all the way back to the frame. You can also barely see the spot where the fender made contact with the frame - there is a slight scuff mark. Other than that though, the frame is untouched. Here are some more pictures, what do you guys think about the extent of this damage? Certainly could do with a new fender, due to the rust that has built up below the affected area.

                        Top wheel well liner removed:



                        Rear wheel well liner removed + various angle of the push in:







                        Moving on…

                        One of the other things that stood out to me at purchase - before purchase really - was the bumpers. This is a 1990 convertible so it has diving boards. But they don't look as janky as my 87 325's did. Why is that? Paint matched powdercoating, that's why. Looks like the most recent owner had paid $200 to have the diving boards aluminum pieces (top and bottom, front and back) powdercoated! It looks amazing. Money well spent in my book.





                        Additionally, the 3rd top most plastic trim piece for the bumpers are exceptionally straight - front and rear.

                        Regardless, I am a basic bitch, so I obviously want plastic bumpers right? Right. This is the cosmetic entry after all. Found a set that included most of the hardware (brackets too!) as well as the front and back bumpers. The only parts it didn't seem to have are the rear bumper shocks. Paid 300 bucks for the unpainted bumpers and (most) hardware. Drove up to PA with my GF and picked these bumpers up off another e30 fan. He had a white early 325i that appeared to be "coolified" as I like to call it. It had 45* stickers and some rims, yet had all the charm of an old ass bimmer - dents all over the place, perhaps a few rust spots even (what good are rims if you don't have rust and dents everywhere amiright?) . W/e it was a 5 speed and it got around. Guy mentioned he had it straight pipped so I urged him to show me. That ish was LOUD. Holy balls. No wonder his wife didn't want to drive it, especially with their newborn xD. Either way, guy was very nice and very cool and clearly knew a fair bit about cars (had some crazy custom projects in the garage -an old old ford pick up truck - much respect).



                        Next I found another guy on craigslist who had the front valance off an 89 325i. It had a nice old dent in it to boot. I figured it would be worth it to check out and see if it was salvageable. Turns out no, it isn't really salvagable - at least not by someone as inexperienced as me with metal working. Perhaps a pro could bring it back. But it's just not worth it to me. So yes, I picked it up for 40 bucks. Why you ask? It came with pretty much all the hardware I would need when I did end up with the right piece. It came with both fog lights and corresponding hardware, all of the rectangular mounting pieces for the stock 'i' lip, both brake ducts and corresponding hardware, and lastly many of the inner wiring harness securing bits and misc mounts. Compare that to new pieces from ecstuning or any online vendor and I have definitely come out on top. I will eventually be purchasing a genuine bmw valance and non 'is' lip. I think the 'is' lip is just too aggressive and snowplowy for my taste. This guy was also (non)conveniently in PA. He was maybe in his 60's and told me he has parting out this e30 for the past 15 years or so. Said it's been basically a gold mine over the years. He bought it wrecked for a couple hundred dollars and has made well over 2k reselling random crap. Not sure if it's worth it unless you have a massive barn like he does and tons and tons of patience. Yes, it is STILL on craigslist, and I will most likely be hitting up as he has one of the rear shocks (they are hella expensive online).

                        Shortly thereafter I found the appropriate engine shield + brake ducts + front wheel well liners. Got these shipped to me from a guy up in New Jersey off Craigslist. The ducts and well liners are brand new.









                        Ok, next thing I found was a cheap set of BBS 5 spoke rims. These weren't originally designed for e30s so they require hub centric spacers and extended lug nuts (included). As much as I enjoy the bottlecaps, I figured it would be fun to have two sets of wheels - summer and …..winter? I will not be driving this car in the winter, she will stay in her cozy garage (more on that later - but yes, a GARAGE!!!!! (no more treesap and birdshit bullshit!!) A verts best friend). Regardless, wheels be fun - and they were cheap, so screw it. Obviously the rubber was trashed. I paid 150 for these I think?



                        The craigslist ad b/c it actually shows them



                        The guy I picked them up from lived in Baltimore (finally a local pickup, sheesh) and had a two car garage absolutely FILLED with e30 parts. This guy has a friend with some land out in the county and a massive barn. He is into spece30 racing and said he has legit 10 e30s right now! (only one is actually his racer) He was very cool and gave me a lot of fun information. Apparently he knows a fair bit about e30s and buys them on the cheap regularly and then does your basic maintenance items to get them up and running in excellent condition. Then he resells them. Turns out several of the nice e30s I had seen on craigslist were actually his! He regularly gets 6-9 thousand for e30s he fixes up. Pretty cool if you ask me. His wife ended up kicking me out b/c we were chatting in his garage for a good 30 minutes after the sale of the rims actually occurred. Definitely would have been a type 3 junkyard guy ;)

                        Ok so now I have rims and plastic bumpers. What's next?? How about some electric pieces! Turns out browsing the parts for sale section of this forums isn't exactly healthy for your wallet. I got George Graves' SI voltmeter board. Pretty cool if you ask me. Also picked up some other stuff of his, but I wouldn't call that "cosmetic" so I will leave them out of this post. The SI voltmeter board counts a cosmetic - it has lights. eh

                        I found out I have serious problems. I need everything to be clean… like really clean. That's how I got into this whole mess over the winter. More on that "mess" later, but essentially once I started taking shit apart, I couldn't stop - so now my car is (was - again, wrote these a while ago heh) pretty barebones, which allows me to go to town on cleaning stuff. Which goes hand in hand with…. POWDERCOATING! WOO! Sent out my intake manifold as well as my valve cover to get powder coated. I decided to go with a flat wrinkle black finish paired with exposed metal (under a clear coat to prevent oxidation of course) on the BMW logo and lines. It was pretty difficult to find reasonable pricing. The first place wanted over 600 bucks for both pieces and claimed they could only do one color… and the guy was pretty rude in his email responses tbf. Next place was a bit more reasonable and appeared professional. They had a price sheet online already but still would be roughly 400-450 for both pieces. Settled on "Bmore Kreative" around Elkridge, MD. Got quotes for 160 and 140 for the manifold and valve cover respectively. Additionally this comes with a lifetime warranty on flaking or chipping, and they were able to do whatever finish I wanted. I highly recommend them. There is a bit of a wait time though and I had to wait 3 weeks before I could even drop them off. I wasn't too specific about it and am kind of nervous to see how they handled the actual BMW roundel on the intake mani. Here's what it turned out to be - legit just picked these up today (not today):

                        Before:





                        After:











                        Also, this dude apparently doesn't have an office/cell phone associated with his shop so it was all through emails (unless I just missed the number on their website). I was a bit rushed when I picked up my parts from Brandon and realized after I was on I-95 that he had forgotten to give me the small plate that screws into the end of the manifold on the passenger site (rubber line to fuel pressure reg goes to this piece). So I immediately emailed him asking him what was up and if he remember I had dropped it off. I assumed he lost it, as I gave it to him already off the manifold. Well……….he decided not to email me back for maybe 5 whole days. So I started freaking out after realizing that particular part is NLA. So I naturally went apeshit scouring the nets for this piece and find a local guy parting out his e30. End up picking up the whole intake manifold (he wouldn't separate) for 30 bucks…. No joke, did this during lunch at work….I get back to my computer after picking it up and mfing Brandon emails me back saying "hey Andrew, I have your piece right here! You can pick it up today…… -_- thanks duder. Apart from the extra intake manifold, I am extremely happy with the way the powder coating came out :P I will most likely be using this place again in the future.

                        So that's all I got. Hopefully that was enough to satisfy! Next up is probably the best thing to ever happen to this convertible. A mother fucking garage. Yup. I am officially a baller. But it didn't come cheap - well maybe it did - let me just say it was essentially 26 years in the making…

                        one more photo of when I had the two e30s:

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                          #13
                          Alright, screw it. I have been waiting to do this chronologically, but it's killing me and quite honestly, just backing up more and more. So I am just going to post stuff to get it flowing again.

                          Quick update: I put the car under in September and finished up around mid June. I've been driving it to and from work for the past couple weeks and loving it!



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                            #14
                            ~Garage Entry~

                            reserved for garage entry

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                              #15
                              ~Taking Things Apart~

                              Once I had the garage secured, it was time to take things apart. When I began, I honestly didn't have much of a plan, other than to remove things and see where it got me. Apparently that is not the best way to begin a car build, because it didn't really allow me to follow any sort of budget. Regardless, I drove the car from my house down to my parents' garage without the front bumper on, as I already had it off at that point. The car was pretty dirty...





                              Decided to pull her out one more time and give it a nice wash before settling into the garage for what turned out to be roughly 6 months.





                              all nestled in... I chose to wheel it up on ramps.



                              you can see in the background all the lovely shelving space where my theoretical parts would go...



                              Shortly there after I took off the front end:





                              Then I removed the air filter, air flow meter, intake boot, as well as the throle body:



                              I recalled the e30 having a somewhat goofy idle behavior, so I thought it best to remove the intake to better assess the state of the vacuum hoses underneath it. I like to take photos, so I grabbed a few in order to get an idea of where everything went for when I put it back together.

                              In front of the diagnostic plug (note the fresh water hoses from my intitial tune up):



                              Behind the diagnostic plug:



                              middle of bottom of intake:



                              back of under intake:



                              Removed the fuel rail with the injectors:



                              Absolutely horrendous. Look at all the build up on the injector tips...



                              off and labled (not sure if necessary, but why not right?)





                              Popped off the intake:



                              Notice how gross and dirty everything is. Yummy



                              A bit closer and with flash so you can see the web of hoses:



                              intake close up - yuck:



                              Cleaned it up a bit - Here is all the hardware that comes off the intake - not including the 12 nuts that secure it to the head studs:



                              Next up was the thermostat housing:



                              also quite dirty:



                              turns out the thermostat I received was defective, or at least was the wrong part? Notice how the O-ring pops up where the detent is? I'm assuming that's why my engine was not heating up all the way...





                              Let's see... next I decided to remove the additional thermostat and hoses from the rear of the engine near the firewall

                              All hoses in place:



                              thermostat hidden in the back:



                              I was toying with the idea of removing it completely at the time, so I drew up a little cheat sheet on how the hoses routed:



                              and the entire assembly off the car:



                              ah, so much room for activities!



                              picture of the other side of the engine bay at this point:



                              Next I removed the radiator and fan clutch:



                              I cleaned all the crud off the fan clutch itself and then decided the best way to store it would be vertically (as it was on the car). So I got some wire and hung it on the shelf. I have read that if you leave a fan clutch horizontal, it messes with the fluid, or it could possibly leak out...



                              Next were the PS and Alternator belts (PO had remove the A/C belt b/c he - the shop he took it to - wasn't sure what was wrong with the A/C so they just took the belt off).



                              And that's all I've got for now. I will continue with the disassembly next post!

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