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Thread: An E30 Restoration

  1. #1
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    An E30 Restoration

    This weekend I started the restoration of an 87 325is. While I could have started with a car in somewhat better condition, this one has sentimental value. It was bought in the spring of 1987 by a close friend who owned it until 2001, at which time it was traded in on a 330i. When the car changed hands, it only had 67k on it. Even though I'd had a good bit of seat time in 1600's and 2002's, it was driving this car that caused me to really appreciate BMW's. So when I stumbled across the car and realized what I was looking at I decided to buy it and restore it.

    The car has had two owners since my friend had it. For most of that time it was owned by a BMW tech and the mechanical condition of the car reflects that. The entire cooling system is only 5 years old, judging by the date on the radiator. It has a pretty new set of ignition wires, distributor. & rotor. The shocks, CAB's, & RTAB's have been changed, though it is time for new ones. And it has a relatively new OE cat-back.

    That is the good. The bad is that the seats are trash, the paint is faded, the dash is cracked, and there is minor damage to the right front fender. But as far as I can tell it has not been in an accident.

    I got the car for $800, which is about right for a 140k car in that condition.
    Over the next few months, in between working on the race car, I'll go through the car from front to back to put in excellent mechanical condition. That will mean (at least):

    A complete suspension rebuild (front & back)
    Brake system rebuild
    Complete reseal of the engine (and cleaning)
    Refresh of the head
    Reseal of the transmission & diff
    New clutch
    New half shaft boots
    New wheel bearings
    Rebuild the power steering & oil cooler hoses and replace all soft fuel lines
    Clean and seal the fuel tank
    New A/C compressor, o-rings, etc & charge with Freeze12
    Scrubbing oil stains from the engine bay and under the car

    I'm sure that there are other things mechanical that will get replaced once I've gotten deeper into the car.

    Once the mechanicals are dealt with I'll pull all trim off the car, remove the windows, fix the fender, and have the car painted to original standards (by a BMW shop). Then it gets a new dash and rebuilt seats. Once the painting is complete the glass will be reinstalled with new gaskets and the channels & seals for the windows, door, trunk, etc., get replaced.

    I'm guessing that the total cost will be about $6k, But then when I'm done I'll have as close to a "new" E30 as you can get. Now for the pictures...

    Oh yeah, that is a 3.73LS diff in the trunk that came with the car.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    The car makes it possible, but the driver makes it happen.
    Jim Levie, Huntsville, AL

  2. #2
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    The first step is complete... The engine and transmission is out!

    The drive shaft looks to have been replaced not too long ago It is in too good a condition to have been original. So that is one thing that I won't have to deal with, though I will use a new guibo.

    One transmission mount is new, the other is original and about the consistency of a gummi bear. The motor mounts aren't original, but they will be replaced anyway.

    I know the engine and transmission had been leaking oil as both were wet. Looks like camshaft seal and one of the oil cooler lines are cause of most of it. Per usual for a car of this age, the rear transmission seals need to be replaced. Surprisingly, the bell housing looks pretty clean.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    The car makes it possible, but the driver makes it happen.
    Jim Levie, Huntsville, AL

  3. #3
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    too many bmws
    looking forward to this.. this will be an e30 resto done right. please take lots of pics jim.
    '91 SpecE30 #523
    '12 F30 328i Sport Line
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  4. #4
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    I tend to get focused on "getting the job done" and miss out on picture opportunities. But for this project I'm going to try to do a better job. I will update the thread as I make progress.
    The car makes it possible, but the driver makes it happen.
    Jim Levie, Huntsville, AL

  5. #5
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    00 E38, 05 Suburban
    Nice. Just the kind of restoration project I like. Looking forward to updates as well.
    9/2004 Chevrolet Suburban Z71, black, purchased March 2016
    6/99 740i Cosmos with m sport suspension, shadowline. purchased May 2017 with 199k miles
    1984 MasterCraft Stars and Stripes, Blue/White, PCM Ford 351W, PowerSlot, 912 hours, purchased September 2012 (not a car )



    past BMWs: 5/1994 325isa (Arktisgrau), 3/1997 328is/5 (cosmosschwartz), 9/1990 535i/5 (calypsorot), 9/1990 318i/5 (brillantrot) 7/93 325i/5 convertible (samoablau) 2/92 325i/5 cabriolet (lagunengruen).
    SÜNDE REISEN



  6. #6
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    definitely looking forward to your progress... once I graduate and have a "real" job this spring, i have similar ambitions

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by thejlevie View Post
    I tend to get focused on "getting the job done" and miss out on picture opportunities. But for this project I'm going to try to do a better job. I will update the thread as I make progress.
    I'm with you. Seems that I always end up with it back together before I think about taking pictures.

    I'm subscribed! Looking forward to lots of good insight.
    Sean

    A Company that will go to the ends of the Earth for it's people...will find that they can generally pay them 1/10th of an American worker.


  8. #8
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    e30 x2 93e36 94e34
    whats up with that front wheel i love the pattern but wanna know what kind

  9. #9
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    very nice, can't wait to see how this turns out.

    My progress thread | BMW CCA #434464 |The Sprite

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Redline View Post
    whats up with that front wheel i love the pattern but wanna know what kind
    It is just a dirty weave with oxidized paint. While I'd really like to find a set of Euro weaves to keep the OE look, the car will probably wind up on Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.3 rims (15x7). They are a whole lot easier to keep clean and I think they look really good and there are more tire choices for 15" rims.
    The car makes it possible, but the driver makes it happen.
    Jim Levie, Huntsville, AL

  11. #11
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    This will be interesting to follow

  12. #12
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    Engine out in six minutes! That's got to be some kind of record.

    Nice to see an e30 get lucky and find a great home. Best of luck with the project.

    Joe M in WV

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmenacker View Post
    Engine out in six minutes! That's got to be some kind of record.
    haha i thought the same thing

  14. #14
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    Ive been waiting a long time for this Jim, cant wait to see it progress

  15. #15
    moberg12's Avatar
    moberg12 is offline YourFriendlyNeighborhood Moderator
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    Wish you would have told me you needed a delphin passenger side fender, I just sold one it went to a good home though!

    My project DD restore is the exact same car!!
    Last edited by moberg12; 11-01-2010 at 10:13 PM.

  16. #16
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    I really want to get paint on my E30 M3 project. ...sadly, that POS was Maacoized and then hit, so I suspect that getting something resembling decent paint on it will not be cheap.
    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD - 4WD Duramax LBZ/Allison 6-speed
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmenacker View Post
    Engine out in six minutes! That's got to be some kind of record.
    While it would be big time bragging rights to be able to pull an engine in six minutes, that is actually an artifact of only being able to include 5 images in a single post. So I made the first post and followed up with the second.

    The reality is that it took me just under four hours to pull the engine from the time I sat the car on the jack stands. I can do it faster, but I was taking my time w/respect to the fasteners and bits that have to be removed to get the engine out. The time spent in doing that will pay dividends when it is time to put the car back together.
    The car makes it possible, but the driver makes it happen.
    Jim Levie, Huntsville, AL

  18. #18
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    Whoa, Jim's doing one? This is gonna be awesome...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by moberg12 View Post
    Wish you would have told me you needed a delphin passenger side fender, I just sold one it went to a good home though!!
    Looking at the fender, I think I can beat it back out. That would be the ideal solution as the VIN on all the panels will still match. We'll see...
    The car makes it possible, but the driver makes it happen.
    Jim Levie, Huntsville, AL

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by thejlevie View Post
    While it would be big time bragging rights to be able to pull an engine in six minutes, that is actually an artifact of only being able to include 5 images in a single post. So I made the first post and followed up with the second.

    The reality is that it took me just under four hours to pull the engine from the time I sat the car on the jack stands. I can do it faster, but I was taking my time w/respect to the fasteners and bits that have to be removed to get the engine out. The time spent in doing that will pay dividends when it is time to put the car back together.
    You mean you don't enjoy hunting around in a fastener box? Where's your sense of adventure?
    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD - 4WD Duramax LBZ/Allison 6-speed
    2002 BMW M3 Alpinweiß/Black
    1999 323i KP/GTS2 Alpinweiß
    1995 M3 Dakargelb/Black - S50B32/S6S420G/3.91
    1990 325is Brilliantrot/Tan
    1989 M3 Alpinweiß/Black - S62B50/S6S420G

    Hers: 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo Black/Black
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  21. #21
    moberg12's Avatar
    moberg12 is offline YourFriendlyNeighborhood Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by thejlevie View Post
    While it would be big time bragging rights to be able to pull an engine in six minutes, that is actually an artifact of only being able to include 5 images in a single post. So I made the first post and followed up with the second.

    The reality is that it took me just under four hours to pull the engine from the time I sat the car on the jack stands. I can do it faster, but I was taking my time w/respect to the fasteners and bits that have to be removed to get the engine out. The time spent in doing that will pay dividends when it is time to put the car back together.

    Jim for future posts including pics it's a better practice to upload the pic to photobucket or similar site then copy the IMG code into your post. The plus is your pics won't show up as thumbnails.
    Last edited by moberg12; 11-01-2010 at 11:11 PM.

  22. #22
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    That's a rough one to start off. GL

  23. #23
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    Well sort of. For my purposes, any car would get the same treatment. That means new window seals, rebuilt seats, dash, full paint, suspension rebuild, etc. So it really doesn't matter much how the car looks. It is more important that not have been molested or been in an accident in the past. The ultimate goal is to have "nearly new" E30 325is. Since I can't buy one from BMW I'll have make my own.
    The car makes it possible, but the driver makes it happen.
    Jim Levie, Huntsville, AL

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by thejlevie View Post
    Well sort of. For my purposes, any car would get the same treatment. That means new window seals, rebuilt seats, dash, full paint, suspension rebuild, etc. So it really doesn't matter much how the car looks. It is more important that not have been molested or been in an accident in the past. The ultimate goal is to have "nearly new" E30 325is. Since I can't buy one from BMW I'll have make my own.
    I completely understand I personally just think the 87's look too eta ish that's all. And for $800 you can scoop a straight plastic bumper car, at least down South.

  25. #25
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    Ah, but I'm a purist and am of the opinion that a plastic bumper cars is an E30 wanna be!
    The car makes it possible, but the driver makes it happen.
    Jim Levie, Huntsville, AL

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