R3VLimited Forums

Go Back   R3VLimited Forums > General Forums > Members Rides > The Project Forum

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 09-11-2012, 10:27 PM   #1
Advanced Member
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: san diego
Posts: 103
87 325is project: On-the-cheap track car

This is my E30 track car that I got for $300 in May. A coworker had dreams of building a SpecE30 race car, but didn't have the time or space to do it. So it just sat in his garage for 8 years until he got married and he wife made him sell it I already have way too many cars but I couldn't turn down an almost free E30, so I got it. My plan is to build a fun track car that while not super fast, will handle well enough to be fun and most importantly be dead reliable. Once I finish it, the goal is to let friends use it at the track and teach them how to drive.

It's an 87 325is with 253k miles on a broken odometer. Who knows what the actual mileage is. When I picked it up it was all stock, but was missing some things. It had completely stripped interior and was missing a few other important parts. There was no radiator, exhaust system, oil cooler, sunroof, and some other things I'm forgetting.

For about 2 months this summer I busted ass, got it running and then passing California smog so I could actually drive it on the street. After that I had to get it track worthy. Doing everything as inexpensively as possible while still doing it reliably and properly. I built it well enough to track in July and my friend and I did a two day day/night track event at Willow Springs. It was a long hot weekend, but the car held up beautifully to a shitload of abuse and ran solidly--even in back-to-back runs in 100+ degrees. There were a few hiccups though.

The main issue was a fuel starvation problem on left hand corners with anything below a totally full tank that started happening the second session of the first day. The cause of the starvation was a dead in-tank transfer pump, but I didn't have a spare pump on hand at the track. Our solution was to top off the tank after every session (pain in the ass).

On the second day we started smelling fuel in the engine bay. We couldn't figure out where the smell was coming from so we tightened some dodgy looking fuel line clamps and went out again hoping that the clamps were the problem. Unfortunately we smelled fuel again and came back in. We finally pinpointed a wet charcoal canister with fuel leaking out of it. It's not supposed to do that.
The canister had fuel in it because we were topping off the fuel tank so much and so high--we were filling the tank until gas spilled out the filler neck. Because of that, fuel was getting into the emissions vapor lines and filling up the charcoal canister in the engine bay until it started spilled out.

Other than that the only other issue was on Sunday when we were driving back-to-back 30 minute sessions. At the end of the last few sessions the car would start sputtering when accelerating and eventually died altogether. Back in the pits after it cooled down it would start up and run fine. This happened twice. We didn't get a chance to properly diagnose it because the motor started running again each time, but I'm pretty sure the cause was the old stock coil overheating. The coil is located right above the exhaust manifold and it only happened during the hottest part of the day and after being on track for nearly an hour. I've since replaced it with an MSD Blaster SS coil ($42.95).

As for the good parts, the best things about the car for me are the great chassis balance (even with shitty stock suspension), the surprising amount of power (again , totally stock motor), and the great brakes. I have DOT4 synthetic fluid, Hawk HT-10 pads on the front ($107.99), some crap stock pads are on the back, and Home Depot brake ducts on the front ($20). The brakes worked awesome and never once hiccuped in the heat.

So the track was fun but it highlighted a few problems that need fixing in order of priority:

-Ignition cutting out (hopefully fixed with new coil)
-Fuel starvation (already replaced transfer pump ($107.79), gonna install a swirl pot)
-No gauges except a tach, so no idea what the engine is doing (already installed oil/h2o temp and oil press gauges)
-Oil starvation, I don't know if it was starving, but I need something preventative here
-Totally blown stock suspension and wasted bushings

Anyway I want to go to the track again hopefully Sept 22nd/23rd http://www.speedventures.com/events/...il.aspx?id=386 , so I need to get some work done.

Last week I dropped the oil pan so I can install an oil pan baffle
, windage tray , and replace the rod and main bearings.

I got the oil pan removed

All of this junk was caught in the oil pump strainer. I'm going to assume this oil pump is original and this is 250,000 miles of shit. There's bits of casting, plastic pieces, RTV gasket, and a cut zip tie lol
aventari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2012, 10:31 PM   #2
Non faccio funzionare questa merda
AbsorbantNut's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Posts: 2,491
Looks like a good start!

'73 2002 m20 turbo [sold] '87 rat rod 325is [couch modded] '91 vert [daily] '88 325is [spec build v1] '84 325 [spec build v2] '99 323i vert [sold]
AbsorbantNut is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2012, 10:33 PM   #3
Advanced Member
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: san diego
Posts: 103
Still going I started this thread on a private forum I'm on, but I thought you guys would appreciate it (and be able to help me with my dumbass questions!)

From left to right:
used rod bearing, new rod bearing, 2 used main bearings, new main bearing

So the rod bearings all looked good for 250k miles, main bearings not so much
they look pretty toasted, especially #3:

I also installed the oil pan baffle, and mocked up the crank scraper

Here's some pics of other stuff

The workspace, something looks really out of place here..

Inside of the BMW, last week I installed the gauges, this weekend I'm going to mount them properly and clean up the wiring a bit.
In keeping with the cheap theme, all of the gauges I had laying around the garage. They're from the junkyard and found in old VWs and Audis. The right one I'm using as coolant temp, it's the oil temp gauge is from my old Rabbit GTI -- R.I.P.

So the M20 engine doesn't have a good place to mount an oil pressure sensor, so I drilled and tapped the oil cooler flange bolt with a 1/8"-27 NPT thread and mounted the sensor there. I will remove the stock oil pressure warning light switch and install the oil temperature sensor there.

Massive Summit racing radiator. This thing had no problem keeping the motor cool in 100 degree heat for ~1 hour sessions.

MSD Blaster SS coil mounted behind the passenger headlights

Last edited by aventari; 09-11-2012 at 10:49 PM.
aventari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2012, 10:42 PM   #4
Advanced Member
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: san diego
Posts: 103
On issue I ran into with the main bearings was that the #7 main bearing cap was too close to the rear main seal carrier to fit a socket or wrench onto. My solution was to grind the sides down of an old 17mm socket.

I got the upper main bearing shells out, some of them were stuck in there pretty good and rotating them out around the crankshaft was difficult and care had to be taken not to score up the journals. It looks like #1 has a lot more wear than the others. I'm going to assume it's because of the pulleys on the front of the engine and the belts pulling up on the front of the crank.

Then I finished the bearings and put the oil pan back on. Since the new baffle interferes with the oil pump I couldn't install the pan the same way I removed it, so I had to bust out the lift and raise the engine a few inches for more room
Something to think about if you pull your pan to install a baffle. I also had to grind the baffle a bit on the right side because the pump was hitting it and the pan wouldn't line up.

After that I put fresh 15w50 Mobil 1 in and changed the filter. Before starting it up for the first time, I pulled the fuel pump relay and cranked the motor over for 30 seconds to get some oil flowing. Then I put the relay back in and the motor started up immediately with plenty of pressure.

Then I installed an oil temp sender where the stock pressure switch goes for the temp gauge and gave it a test drive. Everything worked great
aventari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2012, 10:45 PM   #5
Advanced Member
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: san diego
Posts: 103
Ok, sorry if that jumped around a bit. Here we are today.

Having finished rebuilding the motor now I move onto the suspension.

I'm going to pull off the unknown springs and wasted shocks that are on there and install a nice H&R race and Billy sports combo.


Here we start unbolting stuff, Home Depot brake ducts featured

The tie rods came out easy, but the balljoints were bitches. I had to crank on the splitter so hard it was flexing and I thought it might break.

I kept cranking it down and whacking with a hammer up it finally popped loose with a loud bang.
I'm glad I started soaking everything with liquid wrench on Sunday, and the right tool for the job makes shit like this take 2 hours instead of 2 days (thanks dad!)

Rinse, repeat for the passenger side
As you can see it actually had Eibachs on it which was really surprising to me. They felt like soft stock springs, are these the "Pro-kit" springs?

Old completely blown, leaky strut, Made in Venezuela -- no brand anywhere

And finally the upper strut bearings look like this, I'm wondering if I should try to clean the grease out by spraying brake cleaner or something and repack it, or just leave it alone. There's no play and it feels smooth, not gritty

Tomorrow I will assemble the front struts and reinstall and maybe pull the rear shocks and springs if there's time.
I'm making great progress as the track day is the weekend after next, however I'm going to be gone camping all weekend so I have to get the car done a few hours at a time after work on the weekdays, which is slow going.

edit: oops just noticed I posted this in the wrong forum, can a mod please move this to The Project Forum?? kthx

Last edited by aventari; 09-12-2012 at 01:09 AM.
aventari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2012, 11:25 PM   #6
Advanced Member
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: san diego
Posts: 103
Tonight I did a bit more on the suspension, removed the control arm bushings and lollipops and installed offset poly bushings. I also cleaned up the strut housings, cleaned/repacked the upper strut bearings and assembled the struts

I pulled the lollipops off of the control arms with a 2 jaw puller, then cut the metal rim of the CAB with my cutoff wheel and hammered it out

While that was going on I had put the new poly bushings in the freezer to shrink them a bit. With them frozen it was really easy to hammer them in with little resistance

Then I cleaned and packed the bearings, they were in great shape with no dirt or grit and no play

Lastly, assembled the struts (without the stock rubber spring pads) and they are ready to install once I fit the fixed camber plates. Apparently I have to hammer out the stock studs on the upper strut bearings and bolt the camber plates on.

aventari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2012, 01:48 AM   #7
Mod Crazy
canakami's Avatar
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Berkeley, CA
Posts: 743
Damn. Good start!

Always chasin'
canakami is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2012, 01:24 PM   #8
Advanced Member
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: san diego
Posts: 103
Thanks, I go through phases where I'll work everyday for a month and then barely look at the car the next month.

Right now I need to get it done for the track day on the 22nd so I'm wrenching a couple hours a day after work everyday
aventari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2012, 01:38 PM   #9
kamotors's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: reno
Posts: 7,101
nice build

kamotors is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2012, 10:23 PM   #10
Advanced Member
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: san diego
Posts: 103

Today I didn't get much time for the BMW, but I did manage to drill and tap the lollipops for set screws (so the bushing doesn't rotate on it's own) and installed the fixed camber plates and then bolted everything up to the car.

Drilled the mounts for a couple small phillips head(lol) 5mmx1.0 bolts I had in my bolt bucket(tm)

Then installed on the car with plenty of silicone grease

No pics of the camber plates because they were frustrating me, but the studs on them didn't line up with the holes in the upper strut bearing mount.
So I had to file the holes in the mount to get the studs to fit. Then after that the hole in the camber plate is a bit too small and the rubber bushing that sticks up from the top of the mount gets squished between the 2 and it doesn't bolt flat. I just cranked the bolts down and installed it any way. Maybe later I'll take the mount out and file down the rubber but probably not. I'll just run this until I get coil overs

Tape over the bearing hole to keep debris out


Going camping this weekend so I won't get anything more done for a few days
aventari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2012, 10:47 PM   #11
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: new mexico
Posts: 31
looking good bro! good stuff!
TimWis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2012, 08:38 PM   #12
Advanced Member
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: san diego
Posts: 103
Well the suspension is finished. Yesterday I finishing torqueing up the front bolts and today I threw the rear shocks and springs on. Pretty straightforward process but you have to do a few things to get the trailing arms low enough to get the springs out.

You have to lower the exhaust a bit and unbolt the rear diff mount and lower it with a jack like so

old billy HD vs new Sports with Nurburgring power!
The old ones are still in very decent shape.

The rear strut mounts are in decent enough condition too, I dont see a need to replace them

new H&R races vs Eibach somethings, hopefully I can get $100 for these

Installed without the spring pads

Then I bolted everything up and put the wheels back on. But wait, those hubs look pretty crusty and shitty

the wheels too:

So I got out the die grinder and wire wheel and cleaned them up for a better wheel->hub interface

Then put some anti-sieze on it to keep corrosion from happening again

Then put everything back together and check out that wicked hella flush stance

Next step is alignment, and then track on saturday
aventari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2012, 08:55 PM   #13
hooken m
E30 Mastermind
hooken m's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Paramus NJ
Posts: 1,535
wow great job man, keeping it very budget friendly. best of luck to you!
Originally Posted by evandael View Post
a car is a car. call it a dildo, i'd still drive the hell out of it.
hooken m is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2012, 09:05 PM   #14
No R3VLimiter
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 3,086
nice work. but will the lollipops move if it doesnt have a bolt going thru it?
efficient is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2012, 09:12 PM   #15
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: San Diego
Posts: 255
you're doing exactly what I want to do by next year...i'll be following this build thread
ramielm is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 09:33 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.10
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2004 - 2020 R3VLimited LLC