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'91 325i Alpine Sedan (2.7L ground-up rebuild)

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    Chassis parts got delivered to the powdercoater Saturday morning. Hoping to have them back in around two weeks time.

    Small finishing touch added to the fuel tank install today. The shields were stripped of the old undercoat, given a few coats of rubberised undercoat and reinstalled. Glad to have them off the bench as they've been getting in the way!

    A quick test showed a wire wheel on a die grinder made light work of the old undercoat.

    Had to get the Dremel out for a couple of corners but overall, easy work.

    Couple of coats of Rustoleum Professional rubberised undercoat.

    Makes an otherwise unglamorous part of the car nicer to look at.


      Really love this thread, missed the beginning of it up until today and just read through the whole thing. Subscribed for more!
      '86 325e Zinnoberrot /// '02 325ci Schwarz II /// '18 M4 Azurite Black Metallic ///

      Albie325 Build Thread | Albie325 COTM Jan 2021


        Originally posted by Albie325 View Post
        Really love this thread, missed the beginning of it up until today and just read through the whole thing. Subscribed for more!
        Cheers Albie. I need to get my head down and read through yours too! The COTM pics are stunning!


          So first of all, I've tweaked the title of this thread to reflect where we're at. The decision has been made to go M20 instead of M42. Needed to make a call before I can commit to suspension, diff, shafts, etc. The 6cyl is going be more desirable for the type of car I'm building, plus this shell is titled as a 325i so documentation all matches. And I don't have to hack around at brackets in the engine bay & such.. There were many reasons I was erring that way and then the right engine came along (to be revealed!!!) and it was a no-brainer at that point.

          This week I'm pretty much done with the IHKS casing refurb. Inevitably it was pretty rough after 30 years service.

          All the foam was toast and everything was coated in dirt & dust

          Just a small sample of what found its way inside over time. Must have cleaned my bench of 2 or 3 times during disassembly as the dirt piled up!

          Eventually had it into kit form!

          All the old foam & glue was removed with a razor and acetone. Everything was washed, dried and dressed before all the flaps got new foam. I've used ultra soft, ultra weather resistant EPDM (neoprene) as it made sense for the environment it'll live in. The mating surfaces got a final wipe with IPA before applying the self-adhesive strip.

          Managed to mark this guy up well enough to lay the whole thing down in one piece..

          ...and another strip on the back.

          The wiring loom was just as tired as the rest of the unit.

          So naturally it was stripped, cleaned and wraped in 3M's finest.

          Used 2mm o-ring cord to properly seal the two halves of the housing...

          ...before clamping and riveting the metal braces in place.

          Final assembly all went pretty smoothly. I lubed all the cables and applied a bit of silicone grease to all the plastic hinges and ball joints.

          And that's how she's gonna sit for a minute. I'll put a bag over it and put it up on the parts shelf while I wait for the last couple of parts. As you can see, I've fitted a new OEM foam dash vent gasket, but the firewall gasket I received from FCP was incorrect. RealOEM shows 2 different heater/AC assemblies for this car which use different gaskets. I called around and it seems the correct ones are NLA from BMW but I managed to find a place that had ONE on the shelf. I will template this when ('if') it arrives so that I can make some for future projects. I'll probably do the same for all the flaps next time too.

          I have a new evaporator but I'm waiting on the expansion valve before that goes in, and I'm chasing down a new heater core which has been most frustrating! I'll also be fitting a new blower and resistor.

          I am also working on a refurbishment & rebuild of the perished and failed heater valve, which I believe is a common failure point and I can see why now I've had it apart. Hopefully I have a workable solution that is significantly cheaper than the $400 replacement cost. I'll detail that complete process in a future post once complete.

          Until next time!


            Still trying to track down a heater core but most of the other parts for the IHKS are on the way. Powdercoated parts should be ready in a couple of days so I need to pull my finger out and get some suspension goodies ordered!

            Once I have the front subframe back, I can clean up and mount the Z3 rack. I made a steering column boot carrier plate and modded the firewall already, but that plate is in with my powdercoating order. When I have all that, I can put the rack in for the final time and start loading the wiring loom on to the column and start putting the interior in.

            As such, I put the column on the bench and gave it a tidy up. The splines were full of dried up white lithium grease and the main ‘bracket’ section had some light surface corrosion.

            All came apart pretty easy.

            Cleaned the internal and external splines, wire wheeled the bracket and gave it a couple passes of rust converter and then a light scuff for paint.

            Bracket painted satin black and everything reassembled with fresh grease.

            Nice little ‘fill in’ job while waiting for parts.


              Wow - excellent foam work on the IHKS. Are the heater cores and valves harder to find now? I bought a heater core (Behr) from FCP Euro last year for around $40. The new, redesigned BMW heater valve was a little harder to swallow at $250, but I did that at the same time.

              I'm loving the updates - keep that momentum going! :-)


                Originally posted by View Post
                Wow - excellent foam work on the IHKS. Are the heater cores and valves harder to find now? I bought a heater core (Behr) from FCP Euro last year for around $40. The new, redesigned BMW heater valve was a little harder to swallow at $250, but I did that at the same time.

                I'm loving the updates - keep that momentum going! :-)
                Thanks Mike. I’ve been on a bit of a roll recently, just a case of picking off small jobs in between big jobs to minimize delays to progress!

                The heater cores have been been bouncing in and out of stock. The explanation I got is nobody really keeps them on the shelf, but gets them drop shipped from a central wholesaler, who only gets a couple at a time. So by the time someone like FCP updates their website to show them ‘available’, the wholesaler has sold out again. And I can’t place a ‘back order’... order so to allocate one to me when they are available.

                Those heater valves are a bit pricey. As such, I’m working on a more cost effective repair solution. There’s not much to go wrong with them other than the seals failing, which is what leads to them ‘seizing’, though I presume most of those occurrences are due to insufficient coolant changes or stop leak in the system.

                We’ll see. I’d like to source a few bad cores to review the various failure modes and see if my solution would be appropriate in all instances.


                  A taste of things to come...

                  885 head thoroughly gone over by Head Solutions. Stripped, cleaned, crack checked and skimmed.
                  OEM valve springs and valves, with new guides and seals.
                  Ireland Engineering 272 ‘billet’ cam and HD rockers.
                  Last edited by Matt@EDC; 04-28-2021, 04:32 PM.


                    The things that were to come.... 2.7L stroker. Massive thanks to AWDBOB for his help spec’ing, sourcing and delivering the bottom end, as well as many supporting parts to follow.

                    Very good condition M20B25 block, cleaned, decked and honed to take a 2.7 crank & rods with the ‘i’ pistons and new rings. New crank & rod bearings. All new parts are of OEM spec.

                    Oil pump & pressure relief valve ultrasonically cleaned for me too.

                    Last edited by Matt@EDC; 05-07-2021, 08:17 PM.


                      My chassis parts were finally released from powdercoating prison today too! They did a good job but have been leading me on since the 2 week delivery date. Another 2 weeks later and multiple visits to the shop, I’ve finally got the parts and they look great, which is a relief.

                      In amongst this lot is the offset column boot carrier I drew up and had plasma cut (to support the Z3 rack install). Well, I had two done so I had a spare but it fit up perfect so they both went to powdercoat.

                      I made the gasket from 3/8” thick neoprene foam. Quite thick but moving the firewall cut out gets you close to the tunnel so more contour to fill. Worked an absolute treat so really stoked on the result.

                      Elsewhere, the hidden details continued with the locking control module, which was pretty tidy...

                      ...and the board was mint, including intact resistor...

                      ...which was all amazing considering the state of the cover

                      As with everything else, even though this is going to live in a body shell cavity for the rest of its days, it all got washed and dressed before installation. I also found the light dimmer relay which went in at the same time.

                      Well, the excitement levels are rising at about the same rate the bank account is decreasing right now. Hopefully there will be some more fun stuff to report next time, including the master bath being finished which will be a huge help to this project! Haha


                        After putting the new Weber kettle together, I spent a bit of time reviewing, sorting and cleaning hardware for the front end. Need to do a big parts order and wanted to see what little odd bits and bobs can carryover and what needs replacing.

                        After that, I masked up the Z3 rack (courtesy of AWDBOB ) for a bit of a scrub, bolted it to the subframe and then hung the lot on the shell. All torqued down and everything! Felt like getting a big rock rolling!

                        Ive already got some parts on the way and now just finalizing some bigger orders. Being as diligent as I can because I hate it when you find you’re missing something small that holds up progress. Especially if you have to order and pay postage again!

                        Also have to get my hands dirty servicing the front hubs and rear axles. Urgh... it’s never just all shiny newness!
                        Last edited by Matt@EDC; 05-09-2021, 07:49 PM.


                          Great series of updates, things are coming along really well. Kevin does great work for such a reasonable cost - a great resource to have in the area.

                          I think you will be really pleased with the feel of the Z3 rack. I was concerned that it would feel darty or too responsive for such a light car, however it really feels right. I think the offset control arm bushings are a must for this conversion since the added caster weights the steering a touch more off-center.


                            mjweimer absolutely. The block and head both went through Kevin’s shop. He also did the head on my E39 528i when the headgasket degraded at 243k miles. (That car has had a full engine and chassis refresh too and is the wife’s daily. Drives like a dream with over 250k miles now).

                            Good to know about the control arm bushings. I’ve not yet ordered them. Will look into it!


                              Parts are pouring in for the front suspension so hope to be working on that next weekend. Another big piece of the puzzle soon to go in is the carpet, but it was in need of cleaning first It’s been wrapped up in the basement for a couple years now. It was a nice sunny day, so after getting home from Cars & Coffee this morning, I hauled it up on to the driveway, constructed a workbench and got to scrubbing.

                              Carpet is Naturbeige like the rest of the interior I have amassed and came from a parts car. So condition was very parts car-ish, BUT it had not been hacked around the heater box! It was actually pretty decent apart from being dirty.

                              Everything got dry brushed with an upholstery brush and vacuumed with the shop vac & stiff brush attachment. As shown above, there were a couple of sticky black stains, almost like the butyl rope that seals the vapor barriers. A little Stoners Tarminator and gentle scrubbing took this out efficiently.

                              I used 303 Tire & Rubber Cleaner on the vinyl inlays. Here I’ve taken the floor inlay as far as it’ll go...

                              ...but the dead pedal shows how much of an improvement has been made.

                              Then it was a case of scrub, scrub, scrub with APC and and upholstery brush. Keep a couple gallons of rinse water handy to rinse the brush and keep the APC moist. I do a 2ft x 2ft section at a time. Once the APC has been worked around maybe 3 or 4 passes, take a microfibre and work out all the dirt, rinsing the towel in the water frequently. Using a light colored towel, repeat until it is no longer picking up any dirt. Don’t be stingey with the rinse water! I changed mine out half a dozen times. This was after just the passenger rear corner!

                              After each section was complete, I sucked out as much moisture as possible with the shop vac, then let it sit out in the sun until dry before a final going over with the shop vac and soft brush attachment. Very happy with the results! Ruining my shoulders and elbows for 4hrs was worth it, I guess...

                              Just have a couple of odd jobs to get out of the way before fitting in the car. Hope knock out some of those this week as I have Thu > Mon off work. More to follow...


                                It's hard work but it is so satisfying to step back after your done and see such a huge difference. It really turned out well considering it is a light color.

                                Don't know your plans for floor mats but the OE BMW E82 rubber floor mats fit really well in the front and are not terribly expensive. p/n: 51 47 2 239 697. Unfortunately only available in black but there is enough black in interior they don't look out of place.