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$500 325i Vert Build: M52 Turbo

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    $500 325i Vert Build: M52 Turbo

    I started posting about this car in General Technical but realized this was a better place to do it. I bought this '89 325i Alpinweiss II vert in July of 2018 for $500 and have been dumping money into it since.

    I bought the car 12 hours after finding it on Craigslist after looking for a few years. The guy had three other e30s and hated convertibles so he was willing to get rid of it for incredibly cheap, otherwise, he was scrapping it.

    This car has quickly ballooned into a full-on restoration and build. There is not a single part of this car that hasn't been touched, and I have been replacing everything with brand new parts along the way. While I originally wanted to build this as a drift car, after a certain point I decided it was too much money to risk slamming it into a wall. For now, my goal is to have a show car that can put down 400+ WHP.

    Some basic info on the build:
    OBD1 converted M52 running Precision 6262 turbo on Link G4+ ECU
    Swapped black interior
    All suspension components replaced, H&R springs & Bilstein B8 shocks
    Stripped down and repainted back to factory Alpinweiss II
    Running square 17x8 style 5's filled and drilled to 4x100

    Any and all advice is appreciated. I've restored guitars, motorcycles, and other small projects but this is my first car.
    Last edited by JRHemmen; 04-22-2020, 06:58 PM.

    The car as it sat when purchased

    After removing the seats

    After removing carpet

    Burning out subframe bushings

    As the car sits now

    Last edited by JRHemmen; 04-15-2019, 09:25 PM.


      After getting the interior back together I started and drove the car for the first time since July, and surprisingly it started right up. This was done with nothing past the downpipe (I cut off the cat with an acetylene torch), and I noticed there seemed to be an exhaust leak where the manifold meets the downpipe (even with a cleaned surface and new gaskets). I'll probably have an exhaust shop take a look at this when I get the custom work done.

      The car ran great, and I was shocked at how much better it already feels after only replacing bushings and the flex disc.

      The next day, the car wouldn't start. It is getting spark, but there seemed to be no fuel. I pulled out the fuel pump relay, cleaned the contacts and put it back in, and the car started.

      The day after that, the same problem arose but removing the relays did nothing. I've ordered two new relays just as a precaution, but I feel I may be ECU related (as I unplugged it the day before to get the glovebox left-hand trim piece in). I'll have to look more into it the next time I'm home.


        Over the course of yesterday and today, I finally replaced the timing belt, water pump, thermostat, accessory belts, distributor, plugs, and coolant hoses.

        The job had been done very recently since the coolant looked brand new and the accessory belts were all dated from mid 2017 but I'm still glad I have the peace of mind of knowing when it was done for sure.

        I put everything back together and began to fill it, when coolant started steadily flowing out of the water pump. I pulled it all apart again, put water pump specific RTV on it along with the gasket, and put it back together. I then realized immediately after assembling everything else that I didn't torque it to spec.

        I decided to fill the system anyway to see how bad it was and to my surprise it's a very slow leak. The car started right up and sounds a lot stronger with the new distributor and plugs. Still need to figure out why it idles at 2k though.

        The plan for tomorrow is to either replace the control arms and tie rods, or take apart the cooling system for a third time to tighten down the water pump.

        *edit* did some quick math and it looks like the leak will lose about a gallon every 2 weeks at its current rate. Obviously this will change as the fluid level at the water pump changes but it's more than I want to deal with. I plan to do the suspension first (so I don't pull my hair out), then go back and fix the pump.

        Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
        Last edited by JRHemmen; 04-20-2019, 11:23 PM.


          After another 13 hour day, I managed to fix the water pump leak and install new control arms, sway bar links, and a cross brace. I ended up having to use oxy-acetylene to get one of the control arm bolts loose. Tie rods will have to wait for another day.

          I also caved and finally bought a Hydraulic press which made pressing the new bushings into the lollipops an absolute breeze.

          Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
          Last edited by JRHemmen; 04-22-2019, 12:58 AM.


            Nice work.
            ACS S3 Build / Dinan 5 E34


              Back up at school for the next two weeks, unfortunately. Now that all of the large tasks are out of the way (besides painting), it's hard to know what to do next. I still need to figure out why the car doesn't always want to start. It has spark, but I need to test for fuel and vacuum leaks. The car idles at 2k rpm and dips down like it wants to die (and occasionally does), which seems like both fuel and vacuum problems.

              I also need to figure out why turning on the heat/ac blower blows fuse 20, especially since it worked when I bought the car. It stopped working when I stuck my hand in the rat's nest of radio wiring (pictured in post #2), but I didn't see any exposed or shorted wires when I had the dash out.

              After those two issues are diagnosed, I can put the old seats back in, replace the front brakes, and prep for paint.

              Any input on the blower motor short or the no-start would be appreciated.


                Had a pretty uneventful weekend, replaced the front brakes (broke off the rotor locator bolt on the passenger side), wired up the 4 channel amp, and added more coolant after the upper radiator hose blew off on a short test drive (hose clamp wasn't all the way on the fitting). Up next will be diagnosing my AC blower issue so I can actually bleed the cooling system and getting the exhaust installed.
                Last edited by JRHemmen; 05-24-2019, 07:52 PM.


                  So far this memorial day weekend I've rebuilt the injectors (O-rings, filters, spacers, and pintles), done a valve adjustment, pulled the AC blower motor, and painted the valve cover. Still hope to bleed the brakes and possibly start replacing vacuum lines before the weekend is over.

                  Turns out my blower motor was seized, which means I don't have to pull my dash out again to locate a short. The new motor will be here on Sunday so I can finally bleed the coolant.

                  Painted valve cover:

                  Last edited by JRHemmen; 05-24-2019, 07:57 PM. Reason: image resize


                    Finally had another weekend where I could put some work in, and a new job meant lots of parts coming. I ordered a ton of stuff this week:

                    Downpipe and cat
                    Ireland Engineering catback
                    Corbeau GTS II seats & brackets
                    Bilstein B8 struts and H&R sport shocks
                    M3 rear strut mounts
                    BBS center caps for the style 5s
                    Wheel lug conversion kit
                    Bushes for convertible top handle

                    I got the shocks and struts installed and the car is sitting a lot better. Had to get a 36" pipe wrench to get one of the strut collars off. Can't wait to see how it rides since the old struts were completely blown out.

                    I'm hoping to work again next weekend (when it's not 110 degrees) to put in the seats and replace some vacuum lines. Still trying to figure out my incredibly long crank (10+ seconds when cold) and I feel like it's probably the fuel pump. I'll test for power at the pump and order a new one if necessary.

                    In other news, bought an F30 328i M Sport last week. Put more miles on that in a week than I've put on the E30 in the year I've had it, lol.

                    Sent from my GM1917 using Tapatalk


                      For anyone looking to do a restoration of a similar scale, I've been keeping track of every part I've ordered, quantity, price, and supplier in an Excel spreadsheet I can post if there's interest.

                      Today I ordered supplies to begin stripping and prepping the car for paint. Hoping to install the seats and exhaust next weekend as well as testing power to the fuel pump and vacuum lines for leaks.


                        What do you plan on doing to strip the car? Down to metal or just scuff?

                        Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                        /// MTech Belts ///

                        S52 BUILD

                        M3 VERT BUILD


                          Originally posted by 968Reckless View Post
                          What do you plan on doing to strip the car? Down to metal or just scuff?

                          Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                          Since I'm not doing a color change (from factory anyway) I'm going to sand through the spray paint to show the original paint and scuff that up with 80-120. There are a few spots that I'll have to take to bare metal either with a flap disc or aircraft remover before I apply epoxy primer and fill in dents.

                          Sent from my GM1917 using Tapatalk


                            Got the new seats in, and just like everyone said the brackets don't line up perfectly so I've still got to do a bit of work to get the 4th bolt in.

                            Swapped my fuel pump and it's an absolute miracle this car hadn't gone up in flames. PO spliced both wires to the pump, inside the tank. This was definitely the cause of my fuel issue and the car started up immediately with the new pump.

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                              New exhaust all lined up

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