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Thread: 1972-1981 (E12) knowledge base

  1. #126
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    Jun 2008
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    Waxhaw, NC
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    4
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    87 325I,99 328I, 96 Z3
    I have a friend that asked me to look up some info on his aunts 1978 BMW 530i with 14,932 miles on it, and try to find out what it might be worth?

  2. #127
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Vanderbijlpark, ZA
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    '99 Z3 2.8 Roadster
    Chaparel: This thread isn't very busy anymore, maybe you should ask in one of the other sections? I personally have no knowledge about the M30.

    Thomco: Good luck with that. These cars are rare in ZA, where cars are known to last "forever". I can only imagine how bad it must be in the US. Unfortunately that makes it hard to get a value (like with the VW in my sig, no car dealer wanted to even guess how much it could be worth when I wanted to get insurance). Maybe you can look for ads online, and get a rough idea from that?




    Also, what an odd coincidence. All three of us have Z3s...
    1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Roadster - show project
    1970 VW 411L Auto - show/restoration project (sold)
    1982 BMW 518i E12/8 - stolen
    1987 Mazda 323 1.5 SL - daily driver, backup show car

  3. #128
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    roswell ga
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    4
    My Cars
    1981 bmw 528i
    '81 528i: Recently, I noticed that my fuel gauge was off by about 1/4 of a tan. It now shows a level higher by 1/4 than it actually is. I replaced the sender unit, as I thought it was surely the culprit. No so. Currently the tank is very low. But the needle shows 1/4 tank when the engine is running. Odd think is that when I turn the key off the needle jumps down to the actual low level, nearly empty. The needle pauses there for about a second before dropping all the way off to the left of the AMBER reserve lens.This all started, as I recall, the last time I filled it up about a couple of months ago (not my daily driver). I just cant seem to figure out why. Any suggestions you have, I'm all ears...

  4. #129
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Vanderbijlpark, ZA
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    My Cars
    '99 Z3 2.8 Roadster
    I'm not 100% sure how these systems work, but logic tells me the sender gives an electric current/voltage to the gauge, which then indicates the level. So if the gauge is not showing right, then it must be that the signal (probably voltage?) is not right? Maybe a wiring issue?

    EDIT: I just saw that it momentarily drops to the actual level when you kill the engine. Definitely electrical issue. Is it with the engine running, or ignition on but engine standing still?

    If you can't find out the details of how the system works, have someone move the sender while you check the voltage at the gauge. I assume a higher voltage would give a higher reading, which means the gauge is getting extra juice from somewhere. And since it happens with the engine on, that's a definite clue as to where you should look (probably a short between the engine electrics and fuel gauge).
    Last edited by JKuhn; 11-14-2018 at 03:24 AM.
    1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Roadster - show project
    1970 VW 411L Auto - show/restoration project (sold)
    1982 BMW 518i E12/8 - stolen
    1987 Mazda 323 1.5 SL - daily driver, backup show car

  5. #130
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    133
    My Cars
    ‘81 E21 320i
    I'm in an E21 and have some gauge weirdness like that. Dummy light always comes on with 2 gallons remaining (so far). In that part of the forum people suggested it could simply be corroded connectors anywhere in the electrical chain from tank to dash. That's what I would start with.

    However I am seriously considering an E12. But I'd like to know more about what I'd be getting into. I want an automatic, I'd prefer CA smog exempt but that seems unrealistic unless I pay huge money for a 2002. But I love the e12.

    Is it a terrible idea to buy one for an only car? Do these have enough problems (120,000 miles plus) that it will be unreliable, with difficult to find replacement parts?

    Are there mechanics who will work on them in the SF Bay Area?
    My E21 is stuck in Quartzite AZ and nobody will work on it. Huge problem leaving me taking planes, busses and rental cars to work...

    I am the kind of guy to read every post in this thread, and to start reading all posts in firstfives, too. But my questions are not necessarily the ones that have been asked.

    What am I looking at in getting a stock, tired e12 roadworthy and reliable? I make drives in a 79 VW diesel from SF to Seattle, as an example of reliability.

  6. #131
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    WA
    Posts
    40
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    1975 530i 4 speed
    Quote Originally Posted by mcgee View Post
    I'm in an E21 and have some gauge weirdness like that. Dummy light always comes on with 2 gallons remaining (so far). In that part of the forum people suggested it could simply be corroded connectors anywhere in the electrical chain from tank to dash. That's what I would start with.

    However I am seriously considering an E12. But I'd like to know more about what I'd be getting into. I want an automatic, I'd prefer CA smog exempt but that seems unrealistic unless I pay huge money for a 2002. But I love the e12.

    Is it a terrible idea to buy one for an only car? Do these have enough problems (120,000 miles plus) that it will be unreliable, with difficult to find replacement parts?

    Are there mechanics who will work on them in the SF Bay Area?
    My E21 is stuck in Quartzite AZ and nobody will work on it. Huge problem leaving me taking planes, busses and rental cars to work...

    I am the kind of guy to read every post in this thread, and to start reading all posts in firstfives, too. But my questions are not necessarily the ones that have been asked.

    What am I looking at in getting a stock, tired e12 roadworthy and reliable? I make drives in a 79 VW diesel from SF to Seattle, as an example of reliability.
    A 1975 530i would be CA smog exempt. How reliable these cars are depends on condition. Get one in the best condition you can. E12s are from 1975-81, so by now you are judging a car's condition, not its design. Yes, firstfives.org is a good place to be.

  7. #132
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    San Francisco
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    ‘81 E21 320i
    I think that e12 weren't imported in 75, though. If there are any I think it might be years before one is available for sale in whatever condition.

    Understood that condition matters, of course. But what are the model-specific things to look out for? Is it electrical, or oil-burning, burning automatics, steering linkage wear, etc.? Does all the stuff in the dash disintegrate and stop working, leaving tons of parts-searching and hours of work? Is the fuel system the biggest problem area?

  8. #133
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Vanderbijlpark, ZA
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    '99 Z3 2.8 Roadster
    My South African 1982 E12/8 had rock-solid reliability (converted to carb though, those old K-jet systems can be an absolute nightmare when they're not working right). Until it got stolen late 2016.

    These are also very nice cars to drive.
    1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Roadster - show project
    1970 VW 411L Auto - show/restoration project (sold)
    1982 BMW 518i E12/8 - stolen
    1987 Mazda 323 1.5 SL - daily driver, backup show car

  9. #134
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    Dec 2018
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    San Francisco
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    ‘81 E21 320i
    What a bummer your car got stolen!

    I guess one thing I'll need to do is find a good local mechanic who knows the E12 well.

  10. #135
    Join Date
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    Vanderbijlpark, ZA
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    '99 Z3 2.8 Roadster
    I still miss it. But as they say, things happen for a reason. If it didn't get stolen, I wouldn't have my Z3 now. Still, if I had the money and an oppertunity to buy a nice E12 or E12/8, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

    A mechanic who knows these cars well won't be easy to find though, considering how old they (the cars and those mechanics) are by now. If you can find one, consider it a bonus. But to be honest, I don't think the E12 will be much different from the E21 (also a very nice little car by the way, I knew an old car club member who had a 323i BAUR cabriolet), except larger and maybe a few extra features since it's a more luxurious model.
    1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Roadster - show project
    1970 VW 411L Auto - show/restoration project (sold)
    1982 BMW 518i E12/8 - stolen
    1987 Mazda 323 1.5 SL - daily driver, backup show car

  11. #136
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    WA
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    1975 530i 4 speed
    Quote Originally Posted by mcgee View Post
    I think that e12 weren't imported in 75, though. If there are any I think it might be years before one is available for sale in whatever condition.

    Understood that condition matters, of course. But what are the model-specific things to look out for? Is it electrical, or oil-burning, burning automatics, steering linkage wear, etc.? Does all the stuff in the dash disintegrate and stop working, leaving tons of parts-searching and hours of work? Is the fuel system the biggest problem area?
    Yes, the e12 530i made its debut in 1975 model year, it replaced the Bavaria (e3) and was the new cheaper model, the next up being the 3.0Si (e3) which was the Bavaria with all the options standard. Both cars used the same engine/gearbox, so did the 1977 630CSi (but with the later automatic mentioned below).

    In total, nearly 50,000 e12s were sold in North America from 1975 to 1981. The car has no fundamental problems, except for the thermal reactors used during 1975-78. However, any existing car probably has the reactors removed, and a set of headers fitted. The cylinder head is also probably not the original. Nothing except wear and tear items to worry about. That said, the 3 speed ZF 3HP 22 auto used from 1977 on, is a better unit (and can cope with a 3.5 motor) than the preceding BW65. That said, if you drove 10 surviving e12s, the one in best condition will drive the best. Doesn't matter which year when buying today, the car's condition at hand is paramount. There are still some well cared for e12s out there, gotta look for them. In California H&B Specialists have been experts since day one, they have a website.
    Getting parts, any pre e30 BMW is in the same boat, less NOS stuff around as the years go by. Doesn't matter if its a 1985 635CSi or a Bavaria etc. you are in the same boat. So, get the best condition car you can get your hands on. More spent now, means less spent later.
    Last edited by e12Euro; 01-14-2019 at 11:35 AM.

  12. #137
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    San Francisco
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    ‘81 E21 320i
    Thanks for the info, e12Euro. I will definitely take your advice. Seems like last year there were three e12s on BAT - too bad I missed them. Then a couple years back several were sold in my neighborhood by a guy named Evan. I will be on the lookout. Can find tons online but it looks like there's a lot of fake 'for sale' websites that have expired listings.

    There's a gold one on the east coast, but looks like there's a bad rust spot, the wood is seriously damaged, and I would guess other problems. Can't afford to buy another car that will fall apart on me before I even register it!

  13. #138
    Join Date
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    ‘81 E21 320i
    By the way, what does it take to get an account in firstfives forum?

  14. #139
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    WA
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    1975 530i 4 speed
    In the last couple of years firstfives members came across a couple of interesting cars. One was a 1980 528i beige automatic, this was a very low mile car that had been owned by an elderly couple its whole life. The other was a very pristine 1977 530i automatic. Both time capsule cars. Obviously you are going to save a lot of time and money with something like that. I can imagine on cars like this with a/c (standard from 1978), with access to R12 gas you could just replace a few hoses and seals and it would work again.

    10-20 years ago you would automatically get rid of thermal reactors on a 530i. My thinking now is if you find a great condition car and it still has them, well it has got this far in its life and it still works. I know I saw this 1978 733i 4 speed excellent condition car with the thermal reactors, and couldn't imagine how it survived this long with them.

    First Fives has been online in some form since 1997. If you click "Bulletin Board" top left of the screen that should take you to the main forum, and there should be somewhere to click and register an account.

    Classic example with 1960s to 1980s BMWs is an e24 M6 I saw, nice car but a really worn steering box. You could turn the wheel 90 degrees and nothing happened, and you can't get a new box, and there is no recon kit except for the gasket. So, you would have to go to a steering box specialist to rebuild it. This is where it really pays to find say an 80,000 miler in sound shape from Arizona.

    I had an e21 320i myself years ago. These are all relatively simple cars by today's standards. The K-jet and L-jet Bosch injection are good, but in general any problems you have are just related to cars being 40 years old, which applies to any make of car that age. Definitely, dry state cars save you money.

  15. #140
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
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    Lebanon
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    3
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    1980 bmw 520/e12/6cylind
    Hello i have a 1980 bmw e12 520/6 i was just wondering if there are anyways to increase engine power like bigger valve shafts...etc...is it possible to modify the engine? M20b20?

  16. #141
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    Jan 2009
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    In the Darkness, where fear and knowing are one
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    679
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    1987 Fiero GT
    M30 was also built in E12's. That's where I'd look for meaningful power increases. I have an E34 M30 engine, but shipping it from Virginia to Lebanon would be a bit much.
    Last edited by DarkSideofWill; 03-31-2019 at 08:29 PM.

  17. #142
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    WA
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    1975 530i 4 speed
    Quote Originally Posted by Bibiguy97 View Post
    Hello i have a 1980 bmw e12 520/6 i was just wondering if there are anyways to increase engine power like bigger valve shafts...etc...is it possible to modify the engine? M20b20?
    You have the European spec 520 with the baby six and Solex 4A1 carb. The easiest swap would be to either the 2 valve 2.3 (e21,e30 323i), or the 2 valve 2.5 liter (e30 325i, early pre 24 valve e34 525i).

    I am afraid the above mentioned bolt in swaps are the easiest, where you can re-attach all your ancillaries onto the new 2.3/2.5 block, which also being baby sixes can use the existing engine mounts. It isn't worth hotting up the existing 2 liter in your car. There are so many larger capacity baby sixes around from e30s and e34s, that the engine swap is the easiest path.

    Swapping the M30 big six into your car is harder work, and will be more costly, and you will need more parts from a donor car. Plus, unlike all M30 powered e12s, your car has rear drum brakes. I would stick with the baby six to keep things balanced. Go look online in Lebanon for people selling M20 2.3 and 2.5 motors from e21/e30s and e34s. Good luck!

  18. #143
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    Quote Originally Posted by e12Euro View Post
    You have the European spec 520 with the baby six and Solex 4A1 carb. The easiest swap would be to either the 2 valve 2.3 (e21,e30 323i), or the 2 valve 2.5 liter (e30 325i, early pre 24 valve e34 525i).

    I am afraid the above mentioned bolt in swaps are the easiest, where you can re-attach all your ancillaries onto the new 2.3/2.5 block, which also being baby sixes can use the existing engine mounts. It isn't worth hotting up the existing 2 liter in your car. There are so many larger capacity baby sixes around from e30s and e34s, that the engine swap is the easiest path.

    Swapping the M30 big six into your car is harder work, and will be more costly, and you will need more parts from a donor car. Plus, unlike all M30 powered e12s, your car has rear drum brakes. I would stick with the baby six to keep things balanced. Go look online in Lebanon for people selling M20 2.3 and 2.5 motors from e21/e30s and e34s. Good luck!
    Oh, I didn't realize that this 520 has an M20 engine... I guess that's why OP was asking about an M20b25.

    An M54 would bolt in... just not quite sit at the right angle.

  19. #144
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    Dec 2018
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    San Francisco
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    ‘81 E21 320i
    Well, I have submitted a registration weeks (months?) ago at firstfives and it still doesn't work.

  20. #145
    Join Date
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    '99 Z3 2.8 Roadster
    It's nice to see so much activity here. Looks like there's hope for these great cars...


    Anyway, an M54 (as DarkSideofWill mentioned) would make very nice power with good economy to boot, but I don't know if Bibiguy97 wants to have something so out of place in the engine bay.

    If you want to have that stock appearance, I've heard that these old engines can respond very well to a gasflow. Also look into exhaust mods, as that's one of the easiest ways to make power on a carbed engine.
    1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Roadster - show project
    1970 VW 411L Auto - show/restoration project (sold)
    1982 BMW 518i E12/8 - stolen
    1987 Mazda 323 1.5 SL - daily driver, backup show car

  21. #146
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    ‘81 E21 320i
    Quote Originally Posted by mcgee View Post
    Well, I have submitted a registration weeks (months?) ago at firstfives and it still doesn't work.
    HEY, I'm IN!

  22. #147
    Join Date
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    Vanderbijlpark, ZA
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    '99 Z3 2.8 Roadster
    By the way mcgee, what's with that entry under "my cars"? E12 320i? Don't you mean E21, also considering your profile pic?
    1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Roadster - show project
    1970 VW 411L Auto - show/restoration project (sold)
    1982 BMW 518i E12/8 - stolen
    1987 Mazda 323 1.5 SL - daily driver, backup show car

  23. #148
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    Dec 2018
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    San Francisco
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    ‘81 E21 320i
    Where is a 'my cars' entry?

    I own an E21. I want an E12.

  24. #149
    Join Date
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    Vanderbijlpark, ZA
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    '99 Z3 2.8 Roadster
    mcgee post.JPG
    Note that it says "My cars: '81 E12 320i".
    1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Roadster - show project
    1970 VW 411L Auto - show/restoration project (sold)
    1982 BMW 518i E12/8 - stolen
    1987 Mazda 323 1.5 SL - daily driver, backup show car

  25. #150
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    San Francisco
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    ‘81 E21 320i
    Ah over there. I looked at my profile page but didn't see anywhere to fix it. I'll look around again.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Fixed it - thanks.

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