Apr 28, 2008 update to the BMW 325is project car

Pre-Season Upgrades and Maintenance

The passenger footwell was less than spiffy.
We rerouted some wires, cleaned it all up and touched up the rusty bits.
Our neighborhood AutoZone had a great deal on a case of Valvoline VR1 Racing Oil.
It's got what engines crave.
We used a spring punch to mark our drilling location for the hood latches.
Steel rivets should keep the latch mounts firmly in place.
The new latches keep the hood most of the way closed even when the factory latch is disengaged.
We swapped out our impromptu washers for some Factory 3 Performance tie-down hooks.
Factory 3 Performance also makes this cool oil pan guard. Step one is to measure and mark.
We carefully bent the panel using our bench vise. For the big section, we used the edge of our workbench and had Ashley stand on a big piece of wood to work as a human vice.
Now Per's not the only one with cool skidplates on his cars.
It's not quite as structural as the ones for rally use, but it should defend the fragile pan from the occasional curb.
It amuses us that the shiniest part of our entire car is underneath everything.

Our first race of the 2008 season is just a few weeks away at Roebling Road, so we spent some time during the past couple of weekends making a few minor upgrades and doing some routine maintenance.

Step one was some simple housekeeping. The passenger footwell was something of a mess, with various wires crossing the floor and some surface rust rearing its head. We went crazy with the zip-ties, rerouting several wire clusters so they’re permanently out of sight. Then we cleaned up the rusty bits and performed a tactical strike with Rust-Oleum and then a coat of some generic metallic gray we had from our Volvo wagon days.

A new season is also a great time to do some minor maintenance. We checked the fluid levels and changed the oil and oil filter. Last season we ran Castrol GTX High Mileage, but when we went to the local AutoZone for some new dino sauce they had a killer deal on Valvoline VR1 Racing Oil; $12 off a case of 12. The total for 12 quarts was just 26 bucks. We’re not sure if we’ll see any benefit from the supposedly Extreme Race Level Protection, but it can’t hurt.

With the spring cleaning out of the way, it was time to perform some minor upgrades. First up was a set of hood latches. Last year, we had a qualifying session ruined when the hood popped up on our out lap. A dose of spray lubricant seemed to remedy the hesitant latch, but a set of latches are further insurance against stupid pit stops. Per was installing a set of rubber latches on his Saab, and when he placed the order at Speedway Motors he was kind enough to grab a second pair for the BMW. They’re just $5.99 for a set of two.

After eyeballing a good location, we marked the location of the intended holes and then broke out the spring punch to mark our drilling spots. Some steel rivets with washers ought to keep everything snugly in place. With the latches in place, we pulled the hood release and were pleased to see that instead of jumping forward half a foot in the air, the hood nudged up about an inch at its highest point and was securely retained.

Regular readers will recall that we had an issue a while back with our tie-down chains pulling the Bilstein damper free of its lower mounting point. Our initial fix was to install a large washer at the end of the mounting bolt to prevent the damper from running away again, but Factory 3 Performance has an even better solution. They offer a simple tie-down loop that will both keep the damper in place and give us a dedicated mounting point for tying the car to the trailer. The loops cost $16.99 for the pair.

Factory 3 Performance also has a nifty Oil Pan Protector. On an E30 BMW, the oil pan is the lowest point in the front of the car. A few racers have found out the hard way that, given the opportunity, the curbing at some tracks loves to demolish this somewhat fragile piece. The Factory 3 steel panel costs $39.50 and works like a skidplate to protect this vital low-hanging part. The part ships totally flat, so it requires some simple measuring and a bit of bending, but we got ours measured up and mounted in about 45 minutes. The bolts and speed nuts required for mounting are included with the kit.

Hopefully that means we’re about ready for our race season. We’re going to put the car on our corner-weighing scales and make sure we’re still legal, since the exhaust swap shed a bunch of pounds. Look for us at Roebling in May.

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