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Old 06-01-2017, 12:54 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Norfolk, VA
Posts: 2,871
Project Stitch: The 1980's car with a 21st Century Spin

Iím sure a few of you have seen my Project Izzy thread for my 1988 325ix, but I wanted to create another thread for my 1989 325i, named Stitch. This thread will be more of a daily update type of thread that will cover my 325, Z3, some ix, and anything else car related.

I guess I should start with the glorious story about how I got into cars. Ever since I can remember me and my dad would go to Summit Point and I would ride around on my bike and take pictures of all the cool cars I saw. I was never into a certain brand or anything like that, I just liked cool cars. However, one stuck out, it was some old white car that I would see every time I would go there. It didnít matter what weekend it was, if something was running there that car was there. I really didnít even remember the car until a few years back when I was going through some of the old pictures from our trips and I got chills when I realized what it was.

Thatís right, it turns out my first car love was the e30 M3. I guess my dad took this picture back when he first got my momís 2001 M3, but its hard to believe that even before I knew what a BMW was I loved the e30 M3. I donít have a desire to own a e30 M3 now and days, but if I ever win the lottery Iíd want this one.

Fast forward to around when I was 11 years old and my dad bought my mom a 2001 e46 M3 convertible (as pictured above). It was a cool car and thatís when I started to really get into cars. By the time my dad got his 2006 Z4 M Roadster I was dead seat on getting something sporty.

I started considering Honda S2000ís and really loved them. I started saving up immediately and had a decent amount saved by the time I was 15. My dad came forward and offered to go half with me on a car if it was a BMW so he could help me work on it. I really didnít even know I could afford a BMW at the time, but I ended up buying a 1999 2.3 Z3 Roadster with 14,000 miles on the odometer.

I loved this car, it was extremely down on power, but itís enough for me to not get into trouble. The only thing I didnít like about it was how minty it was. It didnít need any work done to it and I wanted to learn how to work on cars. However, my story with this car came quickly to an end when my dad was cut off in traffic and the car was pushed into a ditch after hitting a telephone pole.

Honestly, I was crushed and didnít even want to get another car. I started looking at M roadsters, but then my uncle suggested I consider e30s since I would be leaving for college in two years and might need something a little more practical. I immediately fell in love with them I started looking at a late model 325i. However, my dad decided to take the insurance money and surprise me with a similar 2001 2.5 Z3 with 27,000 miles on it.

I donít want to sound ungrateful, but again I wanted to get a car that I could work on and I didnít really talk to my dad about it. None the less I shortly fell back in love with the Z3 chassis, but I still wanted a car that I could work on. I talked to my dad about going half on a e30 project that him and me could work on together so I could learn how to work on cars. He was all for it and we began searching for one. I found a 1987 325i with 60,000 miles and I showed it to my dad just because I thought it was cool. It was triple our budget, but he fell in love so we picked it up.

As mentioned before my dad really fell in love with this car and it quickly became his. Then my uncle told me about his buddy who was selling a 1988 325ix, but the best part was that I could afford it without my dadís help. I quickly jumped on the offer and we drove up to look at it. Well there was some confusion and my uncles buddy sold that ix just the day before but he had a 1991 325ix 4 door auto. It wasnít what I wanted so I passed. A year went on and I kept looking for e30ís, but I enjoying my freshman year at ODU and wasnít in a hurry to find one. Then I got a call on my first day back from Spring Break and my uncle told me that same 325ix was back up for sale, I told him I wanted it, but I wouldnít be able to pick it up for at least 3 months. Well it turns out the guy who originally sold the car bought it back and held onto it until I could get up there. I honestly didnít know he did that until I picked it up. I just thought he told the guy to hold onto it until I could come get it. Thatís the story how I finally got into the e30 world and got my beloved 325ix, Izzy.

I was happy, I got my project car finally. Although about 3 days into it I was regretting it. I spent the first full day trying to figure out how to change the rear brakes and another 2 days just doing the timing belt. I felt like I bit off more than I could chew until I did my dadís timing belt the next week and it only took me an afternoons work. Things progressed with the ix including a full suspension rebuild and some rust repair. To see more of that you can check the build thread in my sig.

Even my dad jumped on the ix train, but of course he had to one up me and he got a 1989 325ix touring 5 speed, slick top, with 65,000 original miles.

Now 3 years later I knew a decent amount about e30s. I was really into the e30 scene and wanted my friends to get into them too. My buddy Patrick had a clean 1990 318i and my buddy Adam picked up a beautiful 1990 325ix painted in Daytona Violet.

I moved into a new apartment complex and one day I walked out and say a 1989 325i sitting out in front. I noticed that the cars grilles were faded beyond belief and had some bastardized eBay/OEM headlight assembly. Luckily the owner happened to come out just at that time and I offered to give her my minty US spec grilles and I would sell her my old projector headlights for a decent price. About a month later she told me that she was moving in several months and needed to sell her e30 (Appropriately named Stitch for its blue color) so I offered to help her sell it. After checking out the car and getting a proper list of the pros and cons I fell in love with it. I couldnít believe how rust free the chassis was. It turns out the car was a California car for most of its life and had only been in Virginia for the past few years. She was only asking $1,000, but I didnít need another car. I tried to find the car a good home, but it was tough. Everyone who was interested in the car wanted to turn it into a drift missile. No one could look past the rough exterior to see the true potential of the car. Her boyfriends friend offered to pay $1,250 for it, but he wanted to gut it, 2j it, and let it spend the rest of its short life wall tapping. I couldnít let that happen so I told her Iíd buy the car. It took a while to get in touch with her dad (The title holder) but I eventually did and we worked out a deal. Unfortunately he called at 10:00 pm on a Friday night and I wasnít in the right state of mind to be making financial decisions. I ended up paying a little more for the car than I wanted, but it was still a steal in the current e30 market. So I picked up the car a few weeks later and 30 minutes later, 2 offers, and a few compliments later she was parked next to her new sister.

I started doing a few small things here and there. First up was figuring out the rough idle. I replace the AFM with a refurbished one from BavRestorations, but it didnít seem to help. I then decided to do some free updrages and replaced the crappy headlights with Izzyís old set and restored the trim along with the faded grilles. I also installed the old i lip that I had for some reason. I finally tracked down the gas smell and replaced the fuel hoses. Then I replaced all the vacuum hoses and the TPS. While I was in there I decided to upgrade to a 25mm brake master cylinder which later I would regret.

*I also did the timing belt around this time, but it only took me a few hours this time.

I still wasnít happy with my brakes so I did a full rebuild on everything and upgraded to stainless steel brake lines from ESC Tunning.

My uncle then came over to show my how to service an automatic transmission.

All done!

Then Stitch got to meet her much fatter younger sister.

I picked up a Lukebox before he went out of business along with some other audio goodies.

Then my ignition tumbler took a crap so I started my car with a screw driver for a while. My uncle recommended I get a new key when I order my tumbler because after 25+ years the key was probably worn out. Thank God he told me that, because the locks that are currently on the car arenít the ones that match the VIN. I tried to install the new tumbler but it wouldnít turn enough to pop it out. I gave up and continued using my screw driver. I did take the opportunity to spruce up the interior with a new gauge cluster and Mtech 1 wheel.

At this point the car developed an overheating issue and I couldnít solve it for the life of me. I gave up shortly after I got a nasty letter from my landlord so off the car went to Racewerks out in Virginia Beach to get fixed and the new tumbler installed. It turns out one of the lines was clogged up and preventing coolant getting through. Once I got it back I couldnít help but to get a new pic.

I then went home for winter break and to install my Z3 rack, but my Dad bought a new tow that prevented me from getting any work done. Since the tires canít see temps below 30 degrees I couldnít use the garage so I went back to school with a leaky slow rack.

Itís a 2017 Camaro ZL1 6 Speed

I finally got rid of my crappy Hawk pads and installed some Stoptech pads. I was running late for drinks so I quickly threw the wheel back on the car and went out. However, I forgot to torque the passenger side caliper and that led to a scary braking moment at highway speeds and a broken bolt.

Just remember kids, no girl is worth your safety!

The car then develops a bad idle and would stall out when stopped. I got it towed back to Racewerks to get diagnosed. Well it wasnít good news. One of my piston rings burnt up and there was enough oil sitting on top of the piston that it raised the compression levels during the compression test. I just wanted my car back so I thought the quickest solution would to just throw a M20 back in there. I eventually track down one locally, but it was about 1 month before I could even finally pick it up. Then I picked up a 5 speed swap up since I might as well get some enjoyment from this disaster. The shop also installed my Z3 rack for me and the guy who did the work was nice enough to install my control arms and ST sway bars for free of charge.

I canít express how much the Z3 steering rack and the sway bars are a must on any e30! I canít wait to get my rear sway bar installed. However, Iím not a fan of the 4.10 open diff so Iím going to hold out until I get a 3.73 LSD and do both at the same time. I also have some other goodies to install. Like my E46 M3 Brakes/5 Lug swap, Euro Tow Hitch, and best of allÖ.. Ground Control Springs!

My plan for the car is a 21st Century car wrapped in a 1980s chassis. I guess you could call it a sleeper, but Iím hoping to keep as factory looking as possible, but with modern day tech and luxuries, and be able to handle its self out there on the back roads.
My Garage
2001 Z3 2.5i Steel Gray/Black (Lexi)
1988 325ix Diamond Schwartz/Black (Izzy)
1989 325i Cirrus Blue/Houndstooth (Stitch)

Instagram: Stone.Hopkins
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