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Max_Archer Reader
5/2/12 1:56 a.m.

This thread isn't going to get updated very soon, but I'm thinking a lot about this car and wouldn't mind having some GRM input and all that.

Back in the summer of '08, I bought an E30 325is coupe. It had a recently rebuilt head, but as I found, a whole bunch of problems, in just about every area of the car. A few months after I bought the car, I moved 400 miles away to live with my GF, and left the E30 at my parents house. I haven't had too much time to work on it myself since then, but it's been in and out of the shop, and everything from a dead clutch, to a broken radiator, to all kinds of electrical issues, to suspension bushings and wheel bearings and brakes and studs and so on have been sorted out.

Here's the car as purchased.

E30 Project by maximstensel, on Flickr

I quickly sprayed the front valance with matte black bumper paint, and since then, have buffed up the paint and put a new coat of black on the wheels. (And in the process misplaced the incredibly rare foglight lenses and trim...) Upcoming pics were sent to me by my mom, 'cause I never remember to take any when I'm there.

The car looks pretty good from the sides:

But horrible from above:

Interior looks OK aside from dash cracking, but the seat mechanism on the driver's seat is busted so it doesn't sit upright, the steering wheel leather is trashed, and the shifter is so far gone that you have to bend the trim around it to get it into reverse. A shift kit or Z3 shifter takes care of one problem, and I can get a rewrap kit for the factory sport steering wheel, or just replace it with an aftermarket one.

I'd been unsure for a while what I was going to do with this car. I originally thought I could run Spec E30, but it quickly became clear that there was no way I could afford to run the series. I want to build the car as something cool, but not in the typical way that the BMW community is into. Irish44j's thread provided a big inspiration, and I think I've finally figured out that I want to build a rallycross car, one that I'll be able to take up the canyons and have some fun with as well. That somewhat simplifies my suspension choices as well, and leads me to just replace the seat with a race seat instead of trying to fix the stock one.

The big thing about rallycross, other than having tons of fun rallycrossing, is that I get to build a badass rally car! So, I've borrowed a pic of a similar E30 from Google, and done some (really) crude mockups in photoshop. My plan is to just put vinyl over the faded parts of the paint and use that as a basis for a "race livery". Excuse my ghetto "rally lights".

The first would be the easy one. All I'd have to do is put matte black vinyl on top, and leave the bumper and wheels black.

What I really want to do, though, is this. I'll have to do some rattle canning on the bumper and wheels, and find vinyl opaque enough to not get tinted by the red behind it, but how cool would this be?

It's totally appropriate for an E30 rally car of the period, looks awesome, and the GRM number panels would match perfectly. I think it's the way I want to go.

Anyway, I just wanted to get something put up about this car and see if anybody's got any input. Next update will probably just be photos, next time I'm down at my parents' place. I'm moving back to Socal where the car is next year, so I should be able to get some stuff taken care of with it then, and maybe I'll manage before that.

ddavidv UberDork
5/2/12 6:07 a.m.

Since we have no rallycross where I live, going that direction has no appeal to me. Racing a Spec E30 as I do, for myself it would be criminal not to lower the car and add the gigantic spec sway bars as it really turns an okay handling car into holycrapdoesthisthingturn. I guess the decision needs to be made which type of driving appeals to you more, sliding through dirt (which I must admit I enjoy) or testing the limits of adhesion on a track. You won't really be able to maximize both.

mazdeuce Reader
5/2/12 6:36 a.m.

I think the red and white one is fantastic. Whatever you do, build yourself a car that you can walk out of the house in the morning, take a good long look at, and say "berkeley yea!". Best kind of car.

Max_Archer Reader
5/2/12 3:42 p.m.

In reply to ddavidv:

As much as I'd like to run the car on the real track, the cost of prepping a Spec E30 is more than I'd like to spend, and the cost of actually racing one is waaaay outside my budget. Rallycross is a lot cheaper to run, and looks really fun. I'll be AutoXing my Mazda2 as well, so I'll get my tarmac kicks that way. I figure since I'm rallycrossing and not doing stage rally, I can keep the E30 stiff enough that it'll be OK for having some fun up in the hills on the twisties while still soft enough for prepared dirt.

In reply to mazdeuce:

Yeah, that's a pretty big part of my motivation, haha. I really like the red and white for that reason. I also obviously have no need for a set of rally lights on the front on a rallycross car, but they're just way too cool to not have, haha. Plus, they will be useful if I take the car up the canyons at night and stuff.

mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/2/12 5:31 p.m.

I like the red and white.. but I would have to find a cheap rattlecan red that matches the paint for the spoiler.. hood, rood and trunk are nice in white.. not so much with the spoiler

Max_Archer Reader
5/2/12 6:21 p.m.
mad_machine wrote: I like the red and white.. but I would have to find a cheap rattlecan red that matches the paint for the spoiler.. hood, rood and trunk are nice in white.. not so much with the spoiler

Yeah, that's a good point. While I'm at it, I should probably see if I can paint some of the trim red as well, the black bumpers and trim with white valence and top might look kinda weird.

It's a pretty standard bright red, I wonder how far off the red plasti-dip would be. It would probably take better to the trim than normal paint.

Actually, I wonder if I should just do the car white from the trimline down and do the trim white instead.

Here's a version with more white, I'm just not sure whether I really like it like this or not.

I wish the paint on the hood was better. If it were, I'd just replicate the Bastos/Motul E30 race car scheme (http://www.racing-car-photos.com/picture/number458.asp) , minus the sponsor stuff. I wonder if I could get anywhere with the paint that's on it.

irish44j SuperDork
5/2/12 6:32 p.m.

YES! I'll definitely be following this one :)

The one thing I would suggest, though, is to sell that front lip while it's still in good shape. Depending on the courses you run it will get torn up pretty fast. If you are going to rallycross (and/or do some stage rally?) just take it off and put the early e30 front lower valence that kind of curves backwards, or just put a skidplate there.

and here's some extra inspiration from last weekend. A couple of the other e30s that were there. None of us is particularly pretty, but if you show up at rallycross with a car that's too pretty, people will give you a hard time (ask me how I know!). You've probably already seen them if you're following my thread, but just in case....

as you can see, his OEM lip isn't even as low as yours, and note the grass and mud hanging off one side of it!

and for the goal:

irish44j SuperDork
5/2/12 6:37 p.m.

and some REAL rally e30s, which may give you ideas on cool cosmetics

Max_Archer Reader
5/2/12 6:39 p.m.

I was thinking I could rig something where the valence was removable. It's pretty rough and they don't seem to be worth that much, so I might as well keep it and just take it off for events.

I do expect to probably get razzed for having a car that's too "fancy", although I think it'll be pretty obvious that it's not so nice up close. It's gonna look like a Le Mans car from 50 feet and a LeMons car from 10, haha.

Max_Archer Reader
5/2/12 7:05 p.m.

In reply to irish44j:

I've been looking at a lot of real E30 race and rally cars. The reason I'm looking at the schemes I'm looking at is because I don't want to repaint the whole car, especially not to a different color, so I want to take advantage of the nice paint on the sides of my car while covering up the bad paint on top. I'd love to do the classic white with the M stripes or something like that.

irish44j SuperDork
5/2/12 7:32 p.m.

the cool thing about a rallycross e30 is that no matter what you do, or how it looks, it's still cool :)

Max_Archer Reader
5/2/12 7:47 p.m.
irish44j wrote: the cool thing about a rallycross e30 is that no matter what you do, or how it looks, it's still cool :)

Haha, yeah, that's a lot of why I'm taking it that direction.

But mostly because watching your videos made me go "wow, that looks way more awesome than I thought, I wish I could do that", followed by "wait, I have an E30, I WILL do that!"

I always thought rallycross would be like cones in a dirt parking lot, not the higher speed dirt road stuff that I guess it actually is. The SoCal locations look pretty cool, too.

OK, I think I HAVE to go red and white: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkQBD3eYADA Maybe I'll just replicate this as close as I can and forget about the rough paint on the hood and the trim.

irish44j SuperDork
5/2/12 8:00 p.m.
Max_Archer wrote: OK, I think I HAVE to go red and white: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkQBD3eYADA Maybe I'll just replicate this as close as I can and forget about the rough paint on the hood and the trim.

Patrick Snijers videos: One of the main reasons I bought an e30. The car looks awesome, and the driving looks awesome-r

mazdeuce Reader
5/2/12 8:27 p.m.
Max_Archer wrote: OK, I think I HAVE to go red and white: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkQBD3eYADA Maybe I'll just replicate this as close as I can and forget about the rough paint on the hood and the trim.

Holy hell.

Max_Archer Reader
5/17/12 12:28 a.m.

So I was in LA last weekend. I was going to take some pics of the E30 but the dang battery was dead again, so I couldn't pull it out, and it was totally filthy. The buffed paint didn't stay nice for very long, maybe a good wash will help though.

Somebody did manage to crack one of the taillights in my absence, though.

Max_Archer Reader
10/5/12 1:13 a.m.

Car's a total mess, but I snapped a few pics while I was in town. I'm kinda tempted to try plasti-dipping the whole car; it's easy to do, doesn't really need much prep, and with their clearcoat it can look pretty decent.

E30 Project R

E30 Project F

It really is a cleaner car than I always expect it to be. Straight, solid, and the parts are mostly there. Gotta fix the seats and get some suspension and it'll actually be somewhat driveable.

Oh, by the way, what does it take to get this moved to the build section?

CLNSC3 HalfDork
10/5/12 3:53 a.m.

Nice ride, looking forward to another e30 build! Especially a rallyx car, all these rallyx builds are eventually going to make me decide its a good idea to build a rallyx e30! If you ever have the car near Portland, let me know. I'll take care of the wrap for you.

I am with irish44j, sell that lip. To me. Haha, but really if you decide to sell it let me know because I want it! I do have a skid plate that may fit an e30, I'd have to hold it up the my e30 to be sure but I think all it would take is a couple new holes...

Ian F
Ian F PowerDork
10/5/12 7:14 a.m.

Again with you guys making me wish I hadn't bought such a clean car... As much as I want to try rallycross, I can't bear the thought of subjecting my car to that much dirt.

You should have this moved the Build forum... although if many more E30's get posted there, they'll need to start an "E30 Builds" sub-forum.

Max_Archer Reader
10/5/12 4:04 p.m.

Yeah, I'm not sure how to get it moved.

I'm also not so sure about whether it's gonna be a rallycross car or not. As fun as rallycross looks I'm not so sure about trashing what's going to end up being a pretty nice car. I may just build something that'll be fun on tarmac and maybe look cool too.

fidelity101 New Reader
10/5/12 4:15 p.m.
ddavidv wrote: Since we have no rallycross where I live, going that direction has no appeal to me.

Then move! lol

Max_Archer Reader
3/12/13 9:28 p.m.

Can a mod move this thread to builds?

I'm finally living in the vicinity of the car again, so I decided to go try and work on it the other day. Of course it was completely dead, no power to anything whatsoever. Pop the trunk and find that the battery compartment is flooded. Take out battery, discover that much of flood is under battery tray. Battery tray hardware is rusted into featureless nubs. Destroy tray to get it out, siphoned water out, still need to get the bolts out, and now I have no battery tray. Pulled the vapor chamber thing, which was flooded anyway, so at least there's a big hole for water to drain out now. It must be clogged sunroof drains, I need to figure out how best to clean them out. A lot of people say compressed air but I don't have access to a compressor...

So anyway, I finally get the whole flooding situation sorted, wedge the battery in with scrap wood and rags and stuff, and even hooked up to jumper cables, the car is 100% without power. Searched without too much luck, but one guy said he wiggled cables and relays and that fixed it. Sure enough, I jiggled the cables where they came though the firewall and pulled and reattached all the fuses and relays, and the car started up! Drove it around the block a few times and all seemed fine, but once I parked it it wouldn't start again. Hopefully this fancy few month old Bosch battery isn't totally dead. It had enough power to run the locks and lights and stuff, so maybe it can be conditioned if I take it to Pep Boys or wherever.

Anyway, the next order of business isn't the car itself - I'm gonna get the garage cleaned out at my parents' house where the car is. There's a work bench and rolling Craftsman chest in their basement laundry room, and they're just acting as storage space for junk, so I'm gonna try and get those up into the garage, and then put some of the shelving and random crap that's in the garage that can't be thrown away (old documents, sentimental stuff, etc) where the shop stuff currently is. If you saw these two rooms, it'd be obvious how crazy this plan is, but it's been needing doing for years. Anybody who's made it this far in this wall of text have a recommendation for garage flooring, preferably something that is pretty cheap and can be put on top of the worn-down and cracked up old epoxy floor?

Max_Archer Reader
5/1/13 10:03 p.m.

Meguiar's Ultimate Compound is pretty amazing stuff.

Restored the paint on the roof of my E30. (Pic is from halfway through, on the right is how it looked before polishing.) Took a ton of time and effort, though, and results weren't as good by the time I finished 'cause I was worn out and sick of doing it.

This is actually the result of a quick rubbing compound job applied with a damp terry cloth followed by the ultimate compound. I just really really wish I had a polisher - finishing the roof alone killed me and I was out of light by the time I was done.

Max_Archer Reader
5/27/13 7:29 p.m.

E30 hood Plastidip

Did the hood with black plastidip. Not a perfect application but it's an improvement. I was able to shine the roof up some as seen above but the hood just wasn't having any of it, so until I do real paint this was the best option. I'm gonna do the trunk too once I get more "dip."

Now it makes me notice all the OTHER stuff around it that looks bad! Definitely need to do something about the grille, mirrors, and valence. Maybe I'll do the latter two in red dip, I think for small parts like the mirrors and low-to-the-ground parts like the valence it'll look OK. Needs a new roundel, too.

Gonna get some driving lights (probably Hella 500) once I figure out how I'm gonna mount them, too.

In other news with the car, I was able to get the battery recharged, so at least I wasn't out another $100 or so. Still need a new battery tray. In the long term, the car is probably not going to be seeing too much dirt, and rather will do occasional trackdays and late-night fun in the mountains. (Hence the driving light plan.) Need to do suspension before too long, and wheels and tires would be great. Oh, and a steering wheel, the one in the car is a disaster.

I want to paint the exhaust too. (With high-temp paint obviously.) Black is probably safest, but I've seen vintage red racing cars with white pipes and it looked kinda really awesome. Anybody else think it might be cool on the E30?

I also just ordered some GRM number panels to stick on it. Two on the doors and I'm thinking one on the hood, Le Mans-style.

Max_Archer Reader
5/31/13 1:15 a.m.

So I screwed myself over pretty bad. Friend and I decided to drain and replace the gas. Because our pump hose wasn't long enough to siphon through the filler, we popped the back seat out, opened the access hatch, and pulled the fuel level sender to gain access instead. Draining it out went fine, and my friend took off while I left things apart for a few hours to air out. So last night, I go to put it back together, and notice that with the four nuts that hold the sender to the fuel tank, there are four small washers. My friend had pulled the sender so I hadn't seen exactly how everything went together. I look at the parts and notice that the bottom of the sender has countersunk areas that look just the right size for the washers, so I stick the washers on the studs sticking up from the fuel pump, drop the sender on, and bolt it down.

I put a gallon of gas I'd prepared in the tank, and drive it to the station to top the tank off. Within a few minutes of driving the car feels much better than with the nasty old gas, and I'm pretty happy. Get to the station, start the pump, and walk away to snap a picture for facebook. I walk up after the pump clicks off, notice a gas smell, and then realize there's a huge puddle of gas under the car. Pop the access hatch, see gas, and immediately disconnect the battery and get some paper towels soaking up the gas. I call my friend, relate the details to him, and he enlightens me to the fact that the washers were ON TOP of the sender!

I let the car air out and dry out for half an hour, and fortunately I have my tools with me, so I move the car to a safe spot, pull the sender up a bit, and put things on in the right order. All seems well... until one of the bolts holding the sender on snaps while I'm torquing it down! After much cursing and deciding exactly what to do, I creep the car home, windows down and vents open, ready to bail in a second if there's smoke. I get it home and park it.

It seems to be sealed up OK now, but no way am I driving it with an incomplete set of bolts on any fuel-related parts, so I guess it's time for a new fuel pump, since the bolts seem to be an integral part of it. I think I'm just gonna let a shop handle it, I'm done messing with fuel stuff. Ugh.

Max_Archer Reader
11/6/13 6:47 a.m.

Did a bit more plastidip tomfoolery and threw some Hella 500s on a while back.



Need to redo the decklid, it came out pretty blotchy, not that it matters at the distances this car is generally seen from. Plastidip also gets really awful when dirty, need to figure out how to clean it better.

I thought the car was overheating for a while and didn't drive it, but it seems like it's actually the temp gauge being on the fritz. I may just throw some aftermarket gauges in it in a subtle place soon, oil pressure and voltage would be pretty useful too.

Anyway, next up is gonna have to be wheels, tires and suspension, this thing is a bit of a handful on twisty roads and I don't feel like taking it anywhere near a track the way it is now.

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