Bizwacky
Bizwacky None
3/26/20 3:57 p.m.

Hey guys, 

I decided to stop procrastinating and finally post a build thread on here for my E30. I've always been super interested in rally and after doing a Dirtfish course in a BRZ, I was sold on rear-wheel drive. I had to wait a bit, as I was still in grad school and didn't have the time or money to pursue the dream. But, when I graduated in May, I knew it was time to start the search. 

Inspired by Dan Downey and by Irish44j's amazing build thread on here, and the many other cool rally and rallycross E30s, I decided on that as an ideal platform, but I wasn't sure if I'd be able to find a decent one, or how high prices had creeped up. Luckily, that wasn't really a problem at all. I found a hail-totaled example, being sold by an insurance company at my local Copart yard. I figured it's probably a good sign if somebody had full coverage on their 80s BMW, and it looked really clean otherwise. One owner since 1993, and luckily living in Texas, rust isn't really an issue. I put a bid in and ended up winning it for ~$1100 including the auction fees. Rented a U-haul trailer, towed it to its new home in my dad's barn and checked it out. 

It was in even better shape than I hoped! Put a battery in and it fired right up, gauges didn't work but that turned out to be a simple fuse issue, it even had an underhood sticker from its last timing belt job. 

Bizwacky
Bizwacky New Reader
3/26/20 5:06 p.m.

In reply to Bizwacky :

After getting it inspected and registered, it was time to get a feel for it. It had a fairly new set of crappy tires on it that I needed to kill, and I wanted to better understand how it drove. No better way to test reliability than to drive it 100 miles, beat on it for 10 autocross runs, and then 100 miles back home.

 

First thing I figured out, while the A/C does work, on a 110 degree Texas summer day, it really only brings the interior of the car down to a cool 85, which isn't ideal. Second thing, the suspension is totally worn out, the tires don't grip, the steering is slow, the shifter is sloppy, and the open diff is lame. Third thing, the car is an absolute blast to drive. I can understand why they're so popular, slow car fast is absolutely the way to go. 

Had so much fun I ended up taking it to two autocrosses and a local test and tune event, where I happened to run into Project Hazmat from this forum as well. At the test and tune I finally achieved my goal of killing the tires, unfortunately that's when I realized that I'd never really checked the spare. It turns out it was "made in West Germany", which puts it a bit out of date... 

Didn't get a chance to do much to the car after that, with all my automotive time and budget focused on getting ready for our Lemons race in November. 

Bizwacky
Bizwacky New Reader
3/26/20 5:27 p.m.

After Lemons, decided it was time to start getting the car sorted and hopefully ready for some dirt. Pulled it in to the barn and started pulling apart the rear end. 

It went about as easy as it could have, given I'm a pretty novice mechanic. Got a 4.10 torsen rear differential out of a Z3, and in a severe case of "while I'm there" syndrome, I also got some recommended Ford Escort Bilstein shocks, 325ix springs, Condor Speed Shop bushings and brake-lines (learned later that I probably should've stuck with rubber for the suspension mounts but I have no burning desire to pull it all back apart so that might have to wait until something breaks), and a sheet of 13 gauge sheet metal which I have plans for... 

Bizwacky
Bizwacky New Reader
3/26/20 5:44 p.m.

In reply to Bizwacky :

About that sheet metal...

 

I'd read that there are some known weak spots on the rear sub-frame and control arms, and I thought it'd be a good learning opportunity to try to do the reinforcement myself. I looked at what other folks were doing, used some cardboard for templates, converted those into a vector file and cut the shapes out on a CNC plasma. Once they were cut, I welded them up and everything was ready to put back into the car. 

Now I know what you're thinking, and no, I don't own a CNC plasma cutter... or a welder... or actually even a garage. But I am part of a local makerspace that has all those things, plus a lift, a full set of air tools, a hydraulic press, and a lot of other really cool stuff. That's also how I got involved in Lemons and Champcar, through the Dallas Makerspace team. If you're in DFW and a gearhead, I'd highly recommend checking it out, it's got a lot to offer. 

Bizwacky
Bizwacky New Reader
3/26/20 5:56 p.m.

Got the rear end put back together, and man does it feel good. The higher ratio and the limited-slip really help it put down power. Put some new tires on, Falken Azenis RT615K+, it's nice how cheap they are for 14s, $400 for the set.

Took her to the car wash and she's ready to drive down to Austin for Radwood to look at much prettier 80s and 90s automobiles, where we saw this beauty:

Next few weeks are spent by me getting ready for a champcar race, but after that, it's time to get the front end sorted for our first Rallycross, a two-day event on March 28th. 

Bizwacky
Bizwacky New Reader
3/26/20 6:01 p.m.

Unfortunately, that's the end of my progress so far, with Covid-19, it's not looking like there'll be any Rallycross for quite some time, and I haven't had the opportunity to put any more work in on the car. I have a beautiful pile of parts staring me in the face though. 

Bilstein HDs for the front, with the aforementioned 325ix springs, offset lolipops for a bit of caster, a set of hawk blues to replace whatever parts store special is currently on the car, some wheel studs and lug nuts from motorsport hardware because I find the stock lug bolts infuriating, and some new rockauto rotors because why not. 

irish44j
irish44j MegaDork
3/26/20 7:44 p.m.

Welcome to the club :) 

The "Made in West Germany" tire made me laugh, because my e30 also had that original spare in it when I got it. 

Will be following along since mine is currently just hanging out in the driveway with noplace to race, while I catch up on my other projects. 

Also look around, there are a few other good e30 rally/rallycross build threads on here that have some good ideas as well. And jealous of your access to some of the heavy machinery - there's plenty of things I'd do if I had that!

Bizwacky
Bizwacky New Reader
3/27/20 10:46 a.m.

In reply to irish44j :

Thanks man, it's awesome that there's such a big e30 community out there, makes it a lot easier for those of us that don't know what we're doing, just copy people who do! 

Having access to the big machines is really nice. Learning how to use them is the challenge... 

Also, have to say, the plaid interior on your Raider is excellent. 

iansane
iansane New Reader
3/27/20 11:13 a.m.

It's cool to see another e30 build that's not just cheap coilovers and slammed. I fell backwards into e30 ownership using it initially as a daily and later acquiring many more to make different versions of. Definitely following along.

irish44j
irish44j MegaDork
3/27/20 7:14 p.m.
iansane said:

It's cool to see another e30 build that's not just cheap coilovers and slammed. I fell backwards into e30 ownership using it initially as a daily and later acquiring many more to make different versions of. Definitely following along.

lol, of those of us on here with e30 builds, most of them are distinctly the opposite of "slammed" :)

theyseemebrolin
theyseemebrolin New Reader
3/27/20 11:27 p.m.

another one. looks like your off to a good start!

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