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Thread: An E21 I3MW rustoration

  1. #1
    I3MW's Avatar
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    An E21 I3MW rustoration

    Happy to be back. Picked up this 1981 320i about a month ago.


    (Feel free to skip this part, it's just about how I ended up here) Had to give up my phenomenal E36 M3 for something that could handle the worst Massachusetts blizzards. As a result I got a WRX wagon and modded the hell out of it, to the point where I had to get another daily driver. Anyway after a while I got a shorter commute figured why not get two fun cars and hope that one of them starts in the morning. I figured something complementary to the WRX would be 2wd, and not JDM. I wanted something old, RWD, light, and 2 door. Something I could build from the ground up and focus more on driving feel rather than the numbers. I'll get into that more later but basically I wanna keep it naturally aspirated and as lightweight as possible. That said, I do plan on ditching the M10 at some point


    Anyway, drove 3 hours to get the car. Feel in love with the color and did the irresponsible thing of buying an E21

    IMG_1845.jpg



    The first think I did was un do the "Fred Flinstone" mod:

    IMG_2050.jpg

    Put down some POR-15

    IMG_2076.jpg

    Sound dampening + CCF isolation + MVL for sound blocking


    IMG_2085.jpg

    And a brand new carpet:

    IMG_2092.jpg

    - - - Updated - - -

    More to come but this uploading thing is a full time job. And I'm doing at my full time job.
    Last edited by I3MW; 09-22-2020 at 10:17 PM.














  2. #2
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    Some before photos. The PO was a big ol dummy and tried to rivet this thing back together. Everything got ground to bare metal, patch welded and then a three step POR-15 treatment.

    Attachment 678508

    IMG_1973.jpg

    IMG_1971.jpg
    Last edited by I3MW; 09-22-2020 at 10:12 PM.














  3. #3
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    Awesome start!

  4. #4
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    Is your car green or gray? From the picture, the paint looks great. That steering wheel is the only aftermarket wheel that I think looks right for the E21. For lightening, remember that the US bumpers weigh 85 lbs!

  5. #5
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    Don't you hate what the picture uploader does to the pictures, always up loading them sideways.

    Your work looks great!

    i see you have something stuck in your hazard buttom.
    Last edited by msiert; 09-22-2020 at 08:46 PM.
    Murray

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    Quote Originally Posted by msiert View Post
    Don't you hate what the picture uploader does to the pictures, always up loading them sideways.
    If you're on windows, this utility is pretty useful - auto rotates images to match the embedded EXIF orientation information if there is any (and there usually is). I usually run this before uploading photos to a post.

    https://savolai.net/software/jpeg-autorotate/

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cgifool View Post
    Awesome start!
    Thanks bud.

    Quote Originally Posted by dreiermann View Post
    Is your car green or gray? From the picture, the paint looks great. That steering wheel is the only aftermarket wheel that I think looks right for the E21. For lightening, remember that the US bumpers weigh 85 lbs!
    It is Cypress Green. A BMW color I didn't know about until I saw this car. But yeah the POR-15 I put on the floor boards is grey. I didn't top coat it because I figured it wouldn't be exposed to UV much. And agreed about the wheel, this first car I've owner that didn't have factory airbags so I can finally justify an aftermarket wheel as such. Oh and funny you mention the 85lbs. I didn't realize it was that much but you'll see shortly that it has been removed!

    Quote Originally Posted by msiert View Post
    Don't you hate what the picture uploader does to the pictures, always up loading them sideways.

    Your work looks great!

    i see you have something stuck in your hazard buttom.
    Lol yeah I must be getting old, I used to be able upload pictures correctly. Thank you sir. I was in total disbelief when I searched for E21 hazard fix. Tried to rebuild the switch myself, didn't work out, and so here we are.

    Quote Originally Posted by cgifool View Post
    If you're on windows, this utility is pretty useful - auto rotates images to match the embedded EXIF orientation information if there is any (and there usually is). I usually run this before uploading photos to a post.

    https://savolai.net/software/jpeg-autorotate/
    Thanks will do.














  8. #8
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    So now that my feet aren't wet when it rains it was off to get the car inspected. Now I don't want to point any fingers (the PO didn't put a cotter pin on the control arms) but I was lucky to survive the control arm "popping" out of place on my way over. Granted I should've check this but you know, insert excuse here. So after being totally bummed by the carnage, I decided to make lemonade out of lemons. I've always wanted to ditch the diving board hanging off the front of the car.

    IMG_2125 (1).jpg

    You'll never guess what I found when I removed the fender! More rust. So time to bust out the angle grinder and get some more POR-15 on order. I figured since the car is in the air, "might as well" do the other side. At the point the general plan was: New control arms, new tie rods, POR-15 all major surfaces, cover everything in the factory paint color, and replace the rubber undercoating and seam sealer where appropriate. And shave the front bumper.


    dgfmk.jpg

    I'm missing a finished picture but the metal was pretty much spotless before the POR15

    dfghjnk.jpg

    Then primer


    sfdghjkl;.jpg

    Then Cypress green


    jytf.jpg

    Also not shown is everything but the wheel well was masked off to do the rubberized coating.














  9. #9
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    Oh did I mention there was more welding involved?

    ewtry.jpg

    jgfd.jpg




    I've never done this level of body work. And, well it shows but I'm pretty happy with the result.

    rtytuygh.jpg

    sdfghjk.jpg


    sdgfh.jpg














  10. #10
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    Your progress is very impressive! Really like the color as well as steering wheel.
    Hard to see from pics, can you tell us what kind of steering wheel it is - I think I'd like to get one.

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    It says MOMO if you zoom in


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    Last edited by okieflats; 09-23-2020 at 08:55 PM.

  13. #13
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    Nice- where in Boston are you? Let me know i had a rusty 323i that I restored.....and I have now swapped the engine and diff.
    "..Horsepower is a measure of work done over time, or the rate at which work is done."




    http://www.cardomain.com/ride/579694/1


  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by cgifool View Post
    If you're on windows, this utility is pretty useful - auto rotates images to match the embedded EXIF orientation information if there is any (and there usually is). I usually run this before uploading photos to a post.

    https://savolai.net/software/jpeg-autorotate/
    Thank you cgifool for the link, I'm on a very old I-pad so I'll have to do it the hard way of rotating the picture sideways before up loading them. Errrr!
    Murray

  15. #15
    I3MW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by George Mac View Post
    Your progress is very impressive! Really like the color as well as steering wheel.
    Hard to see from pics, can you tell us what kind of steering wheel it is - I think I'd like to get one.
    Thank you! Yeah it looks likes like a MOMO, it came with the car. I think okieflats is right though.

    Quote Originally Posted by okieflats View Post

    Is it this one?



    https://www.pelicanparts.com/More_In...OTOHTGBLK.htm?

    - - - Updated - - -
    Probably? Definitely looks like it, just needs to be "aged" like mine.

    Quote Originally Posted by jjgbmw323 View Post
    Nice- where in Boston are you? Let me know i had a rusty 323i that I restored.....and I have now swapped the engine and diff.
    I'm in Somerville now so maybe I should update that, how about you? Would love to check out the ride. And ask you a bunch of questions I'm thinking about doing ~2.9L M5X with am aluminum block.














  16. #16
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    I am in Wakefield and my 323i is in CT. I have helped my friend do an M50 swap into his e21 320i. PM me
    "..Horsepower is a measure of work done over time, or the rate at which work is done."




    http://www.cardomain.com/ride/579694/1


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    Looks great! I'll be having to do the same things to mine, when I get the motivation again.
    E21 build

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  18. #18
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    Iím looking into m50 swapping my 320 as well. I just canít decide when to pull the trigger into diving to the work and time involved!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by kamjosbol View Post
    I’m looking into m50 swapping my 320 as well. I just can’t decide when to pull the trigger into diving to the work and time involved!

    I hear that! My biggest thing right now is what to do about a differential.

    I think I wan to use a Z3 aluminum block, S52/M54 crank, high compression, and S52/M54 cams. Also, it sounds like I need a 5 series oil pan. https://classicdaily.net/product/e21...-m50s50s52etc/ for motor mounts and this wiring harness http://www.redline-motorsport.com/ma..._adapters.html Keeping the motor OBDII works out well for me, because apparently ROM raider, which I use for my Subaru can now be used on the E36 ECU. To pair with the M5X motor I'm thinking of an E36 transmission. Not sure which one/does it matter much (like m3 vs 325 etc.?

    Again the hardest part seems to be the diff. LSD is a must have and it sounds like a ratio of somewhere around 3.46 is what works well for our cars.

    So I guess my question to anyone reading is do I buy an E21 LSD and risk shredding it to pieces or will welding a subframe to hold an E28 diff and convert to 5x120 be worth it? I actually don't mind the 4x100 wheel options.

    Anyway, slow and steady wins the race. I want to convert the rear drums to discs first but before that I'm going to relocate the battery and some other stuff to the trunk. More pictures coming up!
    Last edited by I3MW; 12-16-2020 at 10:17 AM.














  20. #20
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    Excellent job you have done there!!!!

    What suspension set up is on there??? Is it a M30 engine conversion????

    Keep up the pics coming!!!!

  21. #21
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    Thats a great looking E21, thanks for sharing your progress. I look forward to seeing updates!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitsakosgt View Post
    Excellent job you have done there!!!!

    What suspension set up is on there??? Is it a M30 engine conversion????

    Keep up the pics coming!!!!
    Thank you! Just some CA Tuned coilovers. The previous owner was clearly a form over function kind of of guy but these coil overs ride superb. But sadly no engine conversion yet! I want to take my time with it, AKA upgrade the brakes, get an LSD and shed some weight before I get to the motor. I'm thinking a M5X swap just because I think it's great bang for your buck and I know those motors better than most other BMW motors.

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenHenriksen View Post
    Thats a great looking E21, thanks for sharing your progress. I look forward to seeing updates!
    Thanks bud, ask and you shall receive!


    IMG_2979.jpg">

    Trunk was stripped, a little more welding. But the annoying thing was the pin holes around the trunk seal, fiberglass seemed like a better way to go.

    IMG_2998.jpg

    More POR. Oh yeah someone local was selling that rear battery bar for cheap? Painted it to color match and welded it in.

    IMG_2977.jpg

    While I should've been color matching the area that I fiber glassed I really got excited about making a wood panel for the trunk. It's not show car worthy but it will work nicely.

    IMG_2999.jpg
    Last edited by I3MW; 01-07-2021 at 08:54 AM.














  23. #23
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  24. #24
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    So with the bar in, let's get the battery wired up. Here's the harness I made. Notes for anyone looking to DIY. 0/1 gauge wire for the starter, 18ft (more than enough), paired with a 200amp relay which will allow more than 200amps for ~30s. Removed the old fuse box wire and ran an 8 gauge wire directly to it, with an 80amp fuse in line.

    IMG_0308.jpg

    I ran mine on the passenger side and used what was the pass through for the AC plumbing through the firewall. I'll have to take pictures of the final product.

    Also started dyeing the interior to cordovan brown:

    IMG_0212.jpg

    IMG_0247.jpg

    IMG_0384.jpg














  25. #25
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    Rear seats

    IMG_0339.jpg

    IMG_0340.jpg

    Replaced the blower motor because it was on it's way out. The newer motor had a bigger shaft diameter so I have to drill the plastic out slightly. Not ideal but for now...

    IMG_0237.jpg














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