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phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
7/30/12 12:52 p.m.

This will be my first thread on GRM. I have trolled the board for years and have posted in other threads just a handful of times (if that). While I have buit cars in the past (normally on GRM-like budgets and with GRM-like goals), I always put the build threads in car-specific forums.

That said, this is my co-build thread. (I'll fill in Jason's user info, if he joins).

After modifying cars just to do it for years, I finally tried autoX in my 2008 Legacy 5MT (non-turbo) a few years back and I loved it. I did a few minor mods, bought dedicated wheels and tires, and had a lot of fun autoXing the Legacy. After a while I decided to build a dedicated track/autoX car. I started with a '92 e36 318i 5MT, but just as I got it road-ready, I had to sell it to buy my grandfather's 1988 Jeep Comanche (he had recently passed away and I wanted to buy it to restore it).

A few months later, I found the cash to buy a new track toy- a 1988 BMW 325. I worked on that car so much that I never even took the Legacy to the track. I had it nearly where I wanted it to be to track it- built top end, "i" head swap, all new belts, hoses, nearly every suspension bushing and component replaced, new springs, Bilstein sport springs, track wheels and tires...it was ready to go. But the car had lousy paint and somewhere in the build of the drivetrain I had SOMETHING that was clanking and thunking, and not in a good way. I made the mistake of making too many changes at one time, and I could not trace the noise to a specific source without dumping new parts and a lot of time into the project. After months of chasing the noise, I parted the car back to stock and sold it.

With the proceeds, I traded in my Legacy and bought my realistic "dream" car- the newly released 2011 WRX 5DR with the wide body. I LOVE this car. I have done a fair amount of suspension work to the car, and after 18 months of ownership, I have finally tracked it. But tracking your DD is not always the smartest move, which takes us to the topic of this thread.

One important note: I live about 20 minutes from Summit Point Motorsports Park, which is not only fun for the "real" tracks that they have, but also for the DC SCCA Rally Cross venue that is on-site.

After months of hearing Josh (Irish44j) gush about how awesome RallyX is, I paired up with a buddy and we bought a running-but-not-driving 1987 325 sedan. She isn't pretty, but she runs. We looked over dozens of other cars on the forums and CL, looking for the perfect base for a budget rally cross car, and this one finally was good enough to fire on. We focused on e30s due to my familiarity, a bin of leftover parts, and the fact that we have a pretty good network of other e30 enthusiats locally, which helps with tech stuff, parts hunts, and general community.

So the car:

1987 BMW 325 sedan. Manual transmission, 216K (working odometer). Bilstein HD shocks, only 2 small rust spots, some recent receipts, and a fair enough description from the previous owner about what has been done and what needs to be done. When we bought the car, the P.O. had tried to bleed the clutch but failed miserably. The car had new (brand new) exhaust, some replacement bushings, a verified timing belt history, and was generally in fair shape. The blower motor was out, the power windows did not all work, and there were some serious stink issues on the inside. But she fired up right away and made no nasty noises. Other than the clutch issue and a couple of minor leaks, she was not bad for what we wanted to do, and she was in our budget.

We got her for $900, with no extra charge for the dents.

Here we were during the initial visit:

We debated looking for one with less minor issues, but decided that we'd rather be working on the car than driving and looking at other potential candidates. I figured that we could sort out the major issues in one afternoon, so rather than spend another weekend or so going shopping, we'd just get dirty and fix the bird that we had in the hand.

After a couple of days arranging for the tow, the trailer, and a time with the seller, we managed to get her loaded up, tied down, and on the way for the 60 mile trek home:

The very next day, we got to work on her. High on the list was removing the utterly disgusting carpeting, which smelled like a barnyard and a port-a-potty had engaged in a battle of stink.

As we will be running in RWD Prepared, we will be retaining the seats and dash, but everything else not required is coming out of the car.

We went to work removing those things that woudl be completely useless in a rally cross car- like a motorola 3-watt kit and all of the associated wiring.

After removing all of the interior upholstry and some of the dash trim, we had her looking a lot more lean:

We also stripped the trunk deadening:

With all of that out, her altitude was a bit loftier than I had expected:

So with all of that done, we plan to add back in some Lexan door panels (just to prevent cuts and scratches), and we need to swap in some better seats. Right now, we swapped the passenger seat to the driver's side and will be hitting the JY for either a better pair of seats or another passenger seat to go back in the car. The adjustment levers are on the wrong side (as is the seat belt recepticle, for now), but I don't care about that in the least.

Next steps are:

Fix leaking fuel injector

Fix leak in valve cover gasket

Remove A/C system

Re-install blower motor

Add skidplate

Add underbody protection for fuel lines, fuel pump/filter

Get snow tires

Look for a LSD (3.73 preferred) to replace the 2.93 open diff

Remove mechanical fan and replace with electric fan

Undercoat or truckbed-line the interior

Replace dented fender and rattlecan the exterior

Replace the steering wheel

Install cabin venting

Not all of those are in a particular order.

Double_Wishbone
Double_Wishbone New Reader
7/30/12 3:16 p.m.

I like where this is going! Can't wait to see further updates.

irish44j
irish44j SuperDork
7/30/12 7:50 p.m.

damn, jealous of how clean and rust-free your floorpans are...I knew it looked clean when we were looking at it before the buy, but that's excellent.

when at the JY, keep eyes open for an e36 steering rack. Easy swap, well worth it for the quicker ratio.

Or don't, because I don't want you to beat me ;)

btw, Jason has an account on here, but I think he only has like 1 post.

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
7/30/12 8:15 p.m.
irish44j wrote: damn, jealous of how clean and rust-free your floorpans are...I knew it looked clean when we were looking at it before the buy, but that's excellent. when at the JY, keep eyes open for an e36 steering rack. Easy swap, well worth it for the quicker ratio. Or don't, because I don't want you to beat me ;) btw, Jason has an account on here, but I think he only has like 1 post.

Come on, I'm not a rookie. I was out of the game, but give me SOME credit...

So in a positive note, they mowed the 200 acre field behind my house. I MIGHT have taken her for a few laps through the field...MAYBE. The Mrs. MIGHT have done the same- you know- just for fun.

irish44j
irish44j SuperDork
7/30/12 8:31 p.m.
phenryiv1 wrote:
irish44j wrote: damn, jealous of how clean and rust-free your floorpans are...I knew it looked clean when we were looking at it before the buy, but that's excellent. when at the JY, keep eyes open for an e36 steering rack. Easy swap, well worth it for the quicker ratio. Or don't, because I don't want you to beat me ;) btw, Jason has an account on here, but I think he only has like 1 post.

Come on, I'm not a rookie. I was out of the game, but give me SOME credit...

So in a positive note, they mowed the 200 acre field behind my house. I MIGHT have taken her for a few laps through the field...MAYBE. The Mrs. MIGHT have done the same- you know- just for fun.

lol....I know, but I had to pretend to lend some kind of friendly advice, even though we talk on the phone anyhow and you know more about e30s than I do , haha....

you should talk to the owner about hosting rallycross on his field

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
7/30/12 8:38 p.m.
irish44j wrote: you should talk to the owner about hosting rallycross on his field

It is bank-owned. Builder/developer foreclosure. They use it to cut hay 2-3x a year.

Cutlerz06
Cutlerz06 New Reader
7/31/12 11:10 p.m.

OK, I am here......time to get this thing wrapped up and on the rally course!!!!

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
8/1/12 6:09 a.m.
Cutlerz06 wrote: OK, I am here......time to get this thing wrapped up and on the rally course!!!!

Here, and breaking a cardinal rule of car forum usernames by having your car year/make/model/trim in your username.

Rookie...

:wall:

irish44j
irish44j SuperDork
8/1/12 4:58 p.m.
phenryiv1 wrote:
Cutlerz06 wrote: OK, I am here......time to get this thing wrapped up and on the rally course!!!!

Here, and breaking a cardinal rule of car forum usernames by having your car year/make/model/trim in your username.

Rookie...

:wall:

QFT!

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
8/2/12 12:15 p.m.

Ordered a skid plate today.

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
8/20/12 1:32 p.m.

So some major updates since I last posted:

08.13.12:

Received my skid plate, my rebuilt injectors are on the way, got my 1987 license plate (funny WV law requires an original license plate from the year of the vehicle to register the car as antique), got in some shifter and throttle rebuild parts, a spare set of bottlecaps, and a 4.10 LSD. Also, some iX fenders to replace my dented originals.

Also removed the A/C system today. Not bad progress...

08.14.12: Some progress:

Skid plate arrived:

Went to the JY and picked up a sport seat (passenger side) and installed it on the driver's side of the car (perfect fit):

Replaced the sunroof crank with one that has a knob and retracts properly:

08.19.12:

Got the oil changed and installed the skid plate. I am sure that the front mounting configuration could be better, but I was pressed for time and running short on ideas on how to mount it. I went with self-tapping sheet metal screws with hex heads.

Clearance at the steering rack without any spacers:

Also got my new injectors installed:

Bought a spare set and sent them for a rebuild. I had a spare fuel rail from a past parts car, so I used that. Install went fine.

Installed a new valve cover gasket. The old one was showing signs of leaking, so I thought that a new one woudl be a good idea while I was changing the oil.

I painted the VC while it was out of the car.

Overall, the head looks pretty clean:

And the leaking:

VC painted and installed:

Found this oil cap while stripping something:

Hntsvl_E30
Hntsvl_E30 New Reader
8/20/12 4:21 p.m.

Excellent progress. Sounds like my car about this time last year.

irish44j
irish44j SuperDork
8/20/12 8:10 p.m.

Yeah, not a fan of the sheet metal screws at the front of the skid.....there has to be a way to through-bolt it....or maybe have a plate welded to the lower support to use to bold it to (what I've thought of doing for mine). But the worst that can happen is that it pops off somehow, lol...

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
8/21/12 7:45 a.m.

^^^^^^^^^^

Spammalamma...

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
8/21/12 2:19 p.m.

Tires ordered...Firestone Winterforce in 185/70/14. Went with a local shop because I have been buying from them for about 20 years. Called them up and told them that I had shopped online but wanted to give them my business. They gave a killer price and included free M&B as well.

95maxrider
95maxrider
8/21/12 5:49 p.m.

Checking in! So I take it the general consensus is that an aluminum skid plate is safe to use (as opposed to steel)? Looking forward to kicking your butt in 2 weeks ;)

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
8/22/12 8:56 a.m.

Substitute door handle:

And a spoiler came in...I thought that it would be black, but I said in my WTB ad that I was not picky on color. i got it in trade for some A/C lines that I pulled from the car.

chrisrook
chrisrook New Reader
8/22/12 1:49 p.m.

Personally, I just used a piece of nylon strap, two washers and a bolt that was already on the door (window motor bolt I think.). Simplicity at it's best. Genius for using the original door handle though.

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
8/22/12 2:09 p.m.
chrisrook wrote: Personally, I just used a piece of nylon strap, two washers and a bolt that was already on the door (window motor bolt I think.). Simplicity at it's best. Genius for using the original door handle though.

It was the roof-mounted grab handle.

chrisrook
chrisrook New Reader
8/22/12 7:45 p.m.
phenryiv1 wrote:
chrisrook wrote: Personally, I just used a piece of nylon strap, two washers and a bolt that was already on the door (window motor bolt I think.). Simplicity at it's best. Genius for using the original door handle though.

It was the roof-mounted grab handle.

Even better. Might have to copy your idea. Girl is getting upset that her "oh s__t" handle isn't there anymore.

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
8/23/12 1:45 p.m.

Not really an update to the car, but this gets it closer to getting on the track...

After debating between registering/tagging/insuring the car (at nearly $400 a year due to some obscure language in my auto policy), I decided to buy a tow dolly instead, as Summit Point is only 20 miles from my house. I can get there without having to hit a primary road, so avoiding the highway is not an issue.

Having this is not a useful as a trailer, but it does not have to be tagged, titled, etc. and it is much lighter when being towed. Since my truck is almost 25 years old, I like to give her a break when I can.

So the pictures:

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
8/27/12 8:54 a.m.

So some progress and some regression...

Progress: Two of the four Winterforce tires are mounted and balanced. The other two...well, the guy at the tire shop ordered four random 185/70/14s but they happened to have two of the winterforces in stock. The other two come in this week.

They also mounted a like-new A/S tire that I had on my spare wheel.

Winterforce, installed:

So the regression...

We went to swap differentials and realized that the small case 4.10 LSD owuld be a PITA to install, as I'd have to drop the exhaust to extend the slip yoke. Rather than doing it now for the differential and then againin a couple of weeks/months when we clean up the shifter slop, I'll do it all at once, so we will either buy a medium case LSD or just run the 2.93 open for the time being.

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
8/31/12 7:55 a.m.

After playing around with the car a bit, we noticed that the idle is not very smooth- almost like we had an aggressive cam in the vehicle. Disconnecting the #2 spark plug wire resulted in no change in the idle, so it seems that we are running on 5 cylinders.

As the injectors were rebuilt, I doubt that it was lack of fuel (they were checked for impedence and flow-tested), I ordered a new distributor, rotor, and plugs.

Hopefully this will fix the issues.

N Sperlo
N Sperlo PowerDork
8/31/12 8:05 a.m.

What did the dolly run you? I'm in the market, probably for a trailer though.

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
8/31/12 8:18 a.m.
N Sperlo wrote: What did the dolly run you? I'm in the market, probably for a trailer though.

I paid $600.

Wiht the straps, they sell new for about $1000-1050 for a narrow basic one and $1200-1350 for a wider one (some with brakes), but they seem to hold value. 2-3 weeks of recent daily CL searches and months of casual searching found them to rarely drop below $750 for a basic one and most seem to be listed for $850-900.

A trailer would have been nice but I'd have to register/tag/insure it, plus I am right on the cusp of what my truck can tow as it is. Adding more weight in the form of a trailer would have been a potential problem, though I would have added trailer brakes by default.

This is all a balancing act. ~$400 per year to insure it or spend $100 on my truck (on maintenance items that were needed anyway) to make it more tow-capable and then $600 on a dolly that I can use to pick up parts cars.

For clarification, my tow vehicle is a 1988 Jeep Comanche 4x4 long bed with an AW4 automatic trans. It has helper springs and a 3500# rated bumper. A hitch is NOT available for the truck, so I have to tow from a bumper ball.

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