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njansenv Reader
6/7/09 8:58 p.m.

My wife and I recently completed a move to a house that has a nice "little" 28x30 shop, and naturally I've been browsing various classifieds for "that project car". While my dream is an aircooled P-car, I simply don't believe that I can justify a car that "might" cost me that much money in the event of serious troubles. Not yet. :)

We recently stumbled across a texas E30 (we're deep into the rust belt) 325i (auto) that had a flawless interior, faded paint, and 90k miles. I have visions of a "resto-mod" type job with an M52, z3 steering rack, bilsteins and nice wheels and tires. This project is wife approved.

On the other hand, it would be my 3rd e30, 4th BMW, and there is a rust-free (rough!) 944 that's been parked for the better part of a decade. I've been reading/wasting time on the hybrid 944 forums, and an LT1/LS1 944 REALLY appeals to me. This project is wife approved.

What would YOU do? Either project would be completed over some time as spare time/funds/gumption allows.

seeker589 New Reader
6/7/09 9:09 p.m.

Even though I love 944s - I would not buy one that has been sitting - You don't know what could have deteriorated that will take you quite some time to figure out.

The E30 is probably the most safe bet.

M030 Reader
6/7/09 9:09 p.m.

944, but I'm a little biased - my backyard is full of them...

P71 Dork
6/7/09 9:38 p.m.

I've literally only seen one E30 move under it's own power in my lifetime, so I don't see them around let alone the draw for them. I do have lots of experience with 944's though. EXPENSIVE little buggers, and the engine is a pain in the rear to work on, but man do they handle nice. An LS1/T56 Vette transaxle one would be freaking awesome!

amg_rx7 Reader
6/7/09 9:44 p.m.

944 all the way.
Drives much better than the E30. Would drive even better with an LS1.
Looks cooler too

dean1484 Dork
6/8/09 6:42 a.m.

What you need is a 951 not a 944 but that is just nit picking things.

For a LSx swap I would do a 951 not an e30

As a DD autocross "fun" car (no LSx swap) I would do the BMW (E30).

My problem is I like the looks of a E36 better than the E30 so If I could find one of those I would consider an LSx swap in one of those. If I remember correctly there is a kit out there for this.

minimac Dork
6/8/09 7:01 a.m.

The E-30 FTW! Any car that's been sitting as long as the 944 has, will have a multitude of questionable systems. You're a lucky man....having the green light from the Mrs. The 325 will be an easier project to complete in a timely manner. Being familiar with BMWs will be a huge plus. When it's done you'll have a sweet driver that will return almost every $ invested. The 944 would be like dating a supermodel. Yeah, it looks great, but all the baggage that would go with it-no thank you. As an added plus, when the significant other sees how well the E-30 turns out, she be more likely to give you the nod for a more aggressive project.

njansenv Reader
6/8/09 7:55 a.m.

Thanks for the thoughts, all of you! My wife loves her current e30, but there's a little too much rust lurking for me to spend more than what maintenance requires. I know she'd love a "very clean" built e30, and it's hard to go wrong with a modern classic like that. Return on the dollar is a significant deal to me: I've lost enough money in the "compact" scene that I've become more selective at the start of the project. I agree that the E30 (especially a rust free example up in the great north) "should" offer decent return on investment if I do everything myself.

I'm thankful that I married a wonderful, patient, car-appreciating wife, but as with all things the key is balancing the hobby with resposibilities and time spent with family. Sometimes easier said than done.

mw Reader
6/8/09 8:31 a.m.

I'd much rather have a LS1 944, but I think I saw the e30 your talking about on kijiji and it looked really clean. I would say it depends on how much time you are willing to devote. If you want a quick project, that you can sell easily if you don't want it any more, I'd go e30. If you want a longer term project that would end up being awesome, the 944 hands down.

jcanracer New Reader
6/8/09 8:31 a.m.

I say 944, but either way you've already struck gold with a woman that will approve ANY project car!

Travis_K HalfDork
6/8/09 10:29 a.m.

Why not a transaxle Alfa? (like a milano or gtv6). Stock they are way more fun to drive than an E30, and the 3.0 ones were faster than a 944 of the same year when they were new. Stock the 2.5 ones have 155 hp, the 3.0 has 188 (if i remember right). You can supercharge them ( a kit is available that uses an M62) and make up to 250 hp. More than that isnt really going to happen becasue the transaxle wont hold up. You can get plety of suspension parts too, swaybars, springs, torsion bars, big brake kits, wheels (5x98 bolt pattern so they have to be specific for that car), poly bushings, etc. The only bad things are the interior materials kinda suck, and if you have to replace the clutch assembley it is about $800 (the flywheel is included). Most of the time unless something really bad happens just a new disc is enough though.

njansenv Reader
6/8/09 10:58 a.m.

Hey mw, if it's the bronzit (meh) sedan on kijiji you saw, that's the one. My wife and I looked at it and drove it Saturday. I've never seen such a clean e30 chassis....but it could use paint (faded), and was in a light front hit. I'm still trying to get in touch with the 944 owner, but we'll see what happens.

Travis, methinks you don't live in the rust belt. . I've never seen a GTV6, and it's been a LONG time since I've seen a Milano. Finding parts might be a bit trickier, but it would certainly be an interesting project!

Thanks again, Nathan

mw Reader
6/8/09 12:11 p.m.

That's the one. If I had any e30 knowledge or some parts to do a 5 speed swap, I would have considered it for myself. It's good to see it could end up in good hands.

mad_machine SuperDork
6/8/09 12:33 p.m.

maybe it is because I already own a BMW and I have always lusted after the 944.. but I say go with the Pcar

Apexcarver SuperDork
6/8/09 12:42 p.m.

I see more E30's on the road here then 944's... But I am in the mountains. (and I have an E30, so I may just notice them more)

I also must say that I know more people racing 944's.

spec E30 seems attractive and I know several people running 944 cup.

E30 seems cheaper and easier to keep running to me. (that said, im fighting electronics in mine)

DWNSHFT New Reader
6/8/09 3:49 p.m.

Reading between your lines, it sounds like the built E30 would go to the wife. So I say, build it for her. Happy wife = happy life = approval for your next project! And you get to enjoy the E30, too.


Travis_K HalfDork
6/8/09 5:23 p.m.

Lol yea i live in california. Milanos dont rust that much worse that normal cars, but the gtv6s are pretty bad. They are not terribly hard to get parts for, so far window regulators have been the only problerm i have had with mine as far as parts not being found easily.

ponycarman New Reader
6/10/09 11:14 a.m.

Why not put a ls1 in the e30?

njansenv Reader
6/19/09 6:00 a.m.

:) Maybe. Though the e30 LS1 swap seems much less developed so far... and the engine compartment is a fair bit tighter than the e36 w/LS1. (someday...)

Update: I purchased the texas car. Super clean chassis and engine, some sunroof panel rust. Drives great, needs a 5-speed. I have a doner car for that....

I go back and forth on the M50 swap, but for now will (for a change....) focus on the 5-speed, timing belt, and cosmetic/suspension stuff. I've always wanted to learn to paint a car....

Someone nailed it when they said it'll likely become my wifes car. Final price was 2000CAD.

Funny story: On the way home, the 944 owner finally called me back. I had spoken with his son, who had suggested that they'd take "anything" for it, since it's been for sale for 8 years (!!!!). I stopped by in the "new" car with my wife, and talked to the owner. He wanted "no less than $2000". It hasn't run in 10 years, had 3 flats, a moldy smelling interior, and reportedly "only needed a timing belt." We walked away smiling.

minimac Dork
6/19/09 7:31 a.m.

Good choice! Keep us posted on the trans swap.

924guy HalfDork
6/19/09 7:50 a.m.
njansenv wrote: Funny story: On the way home, the 944 owner finally called me back. I had spoken with his son, who had suggested that they'd take "anything" for it, since it's been for sale for 8 years (!!!!). I stopped by in the "new" car with my wife, and talked to the owner. He wanted "no less than $2000". It hasn't run in 10 years, had 3 flats, a moldy smelling interior, and reportedly "only needed a timing belt." We walked away smiling.

there was one to many zero's in that price... 944's are awesome cars to drive, and easy to work on with a few areas of exception, but it never ceases to amaze me how people dont bother to check actual selling prices before setting their own prices. its one thing to set a bit high and work down, its totally another when the set price has no grounds in reality what so ever...

'well used " non running 944's go for around $200 -$800, with most actually selling for around $400. a really nice, nearly mint condition non runner with a bad head can go for $1200 (and will cost another $600 in parts alone, minimal, to repair properly.) unless its a really late model 2.7 or above turbo, s or vert.

wise choice to walk away from that one.. unfortunately, it will probably sit another 10 years...congrat on the new toy!

gt1scca None
8/18/09 7:48 p.m.

The 944 can be converted (starting with a decent car) for under $5K...Converted 944s sell for as much as $15K on average. We're doing it with the SBC / LT1 / LM7 / and LSX series engines, one tiny budget after another. Most of our parts are manufactured under the same budgets.

And, our forum operates on donations...

Check us out...http://944hybrids.forumotion.com/index.htm

mad_machine SuperDork
8/18/09 10:14 p.m.

nononono.. I am not looking at that site.. I am going to want one now!

z31maniac Dork
8/18/09 10:18 p.m.
njansenv wrote: Return on the dollar is a significant deal to me: I've lost enough money in the "compact" scene that I've become more selective at the start of the project.

Then I'll be the one to say it, either one of these ideas is completely stupid if that's the stance you are taking.

Buy a Mini, Camry/Honda/other boring appliance.

By the time my S52 swap and suspension rebuild is done on the E30, I'll have easily $6-7k into just this part, not to mention the $4k purchase price (and the car already came with coilovers), and it still needs the subframe monuts, RTAB's replaced.

I'd be lucky to get $8500 out of it if I had to sell it once it was completed.

99.9% of project cars will NEVER see a good return on their money. Just understand it's money spent on your happiness, and if that's worth it go for it, otherwise don't.

CLNSC3 New Reader
8/19/09 1:42 a.m.

I vote for the LS1 944! That would be a VERY fun car!

edit: Just read you bought the e30, have fun with it!

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