Feb 14, 2019 update to the BMW 318is project car

Project BMW 318is: Developing A Plan to Put the Car Back Together

story and photos by Tim Suddard

Now that our 318is has a fully upgraded engine, as well as an updated clutch to help get that power to the road, our attention turned to the almost 30 year-old chassis. Follow along as we plan out how we are going to replace the old, worn components with newer performance parts—which was perfect considering the engine was already out of the car.

Initially, with no service records of any kind with the car, and some sketchy looking repairs underneath, we thought the entire chassis was rather worn out. In fact, once we got things apart, the car really was in pretty good mechanical shape.

Still, we went ahead and replaced everything but the four uprights and wheel bearings, as they still seemed fine.

Part of this decision was because we wanted to install performance versions of most of the chassis components and part of it was we just didn’t know what we had, as the car had been sitting for some ten years.

Thankfully, virtually every chassis part is available from FCP Euro. Making things completely brand-new underneath only takes a few thousand dollars.

Our plan would be to completely remove the entire front and rear subframes from the car, clean and paint them and then essentially build an entirely new E30 from the ground up.

We came the conclusion that this rather bold step was the best way to go, because we already had the engine and transmission out, and we were planning on replacing the rear end with a limited-slip unit.

Once we had the front and rear subframes assembled, we would bolt the rear one back up to the car with its new Powerflex subframe bushings.

From there we would drop the engine into the front subframe, position it on a big, strong, movable table that we have, and move this table under the lift and then drop the body down on to the subframe.

This is how the factory builds cars when they are new, and this is a surprisingly easy way to install an entire drivetrain and front subframe.

Next we will dive into the individual tricks and repairs we made on these front and rear subframes.

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