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Old 04-15-2019, 09:06 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 55
'89 325i Vert Rescue

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.

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.

In the time that I've had the car, I've done the following:
Oil change
New air, fuel, and oil filters
Dropped rear subframe and replaced all bushings
Painted rear subframe
New diff oil
New driveshaft flex disc and center support bearing
Gutted interior and replaced rusted floorpans
Removed PO's car phone and aftermarket radio wiring
Coated entire interior and trunk in POR-15
Repaired and flocked dash
New odometer gears and SI board
Polished cluster plexiglass
New shifter bushings
New carpet (dyed black)
New door cards (sprayed black)
Rewrapped entire wire harness inside the car
Installed radio and ran wire for 4 channel amp to the trunk
Installed Alpine speakers
New rear brakes (including parking brake shoes and cables)
Removed exhaust downpipe, cat, and muffler
Painted exhaust heat shields
Bought and redrilled BBS Style 5s to 4x100 lug pattern
Bought Firestone Indy 500 (205/40/R17)
New shift rubber and leather boots
New window switches
New accelerator bushings
New rubber fuel lines to and from fuel filter
Timing belt/water pump/thermostat
New spark plugs and cap + rotor
Coolant flush
New control arms and bushings
Replaced hoses to rad, water pump, and thermostat housing
Installed garagistic X-brace

Short term things to be done:
Valve adjustment
Diagnose 2k rpm idle
Replacing every vacuum line under the hood
Fix broken throttle cable
New tie rod ends
New front brakes
Diagnose intermittent fuel delivery
Have custom downpipe welded and attach new Magnaflow cat and muffler
New motor mounts
Replace C191 connector

Longer term plans:
Paint over the PO's awful Orca paint job
New seats (Thinking Corbeau GTS IIs)
Coilovers or Bilstein + H&R Setup
Find a new glovebox
Stroker 2.7 build
Side skirts + lip
3rd brake light delete
New convertible top
Repair hole in rear quarter panel
Paint the Style 5s and wrap with stretched Firehawks
Replacing remaining coolant hoses

Any and all advice is appreciated. I've restored guitars, motorcycles, and other small projects but this is my first car project.

Stay tuned to watch a 23 y/o college senior squander more money on car parts!

Pictures will be in the post below.

Last edited by JRHemmen; Yesterday at 11:48 PM.
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Old 04-15-2019, 09:08 PM   #2
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 55
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 at 09:25 PM.
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Old 04-15-2019, 09:30 PM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 55
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.
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Old 04-20-2019, 10:46 PM   #4
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 55
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 at 11:23 PM.
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Old Yesterday, 12:52 AM   #5
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 55
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.

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Last edited by JRHemmen; Yesterday at 12:58 AM.
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Old Yesterday, 07:13 AM   #6
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: DC
Posts: 3,657
Nice work.
ACS S3 Build / Dinan 5 E34
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Old Yesterday, 11:03 PM   #7
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 55
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.
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