TomGC

Tom's Garage (E34 535i Sport Restoration)

84 posts in this topic

Well this has been a long time coming.

 

I saved this car from the scrappage scheme in 2009, back when one couldn't give these away. It was owned by my great uncle since 1991, being a Feb '90 build car. It is a factory Sport model, Sterling Silver with black hide. He looked after the car religiously, serviced at BMW for the first 8-10 years then at an independent BMW specialist. We have every single receipt, and the car never wanted for anything; even if the indy did start to get a bit sloppy with it towards the end. It did however get used (properly, fast) every day and was never garaged, and in the end the rust was the main reason that it was moved on. I bought the car on the agreement that I would keep it roadworthy.

 

My uncle bought a diesel XF. He has never liked it as much as he did the 5. It's also responsible for my love of cars, due to those subconscious ingrained memories you get from when you're 6, travelling to Donington Park in the back to see the Super Tourers. If you're lucky you might get a hat signed by Paul Radisich.

 

Here is the car, pictured back in / around '09. It featured in the forum calendar one year.

 

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Having the history that it has (both material and sentimental), there was never any question as to whether I would keep the car; only how difficult and resource consuming anything I wanted to change would be. After an afternoon in the pub with a chap who bought an E30 M3 without an engine and fitted an S50, cue phase 1 of the modifications: a swap to manual transmission. It was one of those 'how hard can it be' moments. Turns out, it's not very.

 

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I smoked round in the car for a few months until I took a week off work to check my sunroof drains:

 

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The idea was to do what I could to keep the rust at bay until I could afford to do the whole car properly. The job got out of hand very quickly. Luckily my instincts kicked in, I left the car exactly as it was, rolled it away in the dark, and went away to formulate a plan over a pint.

 

Fast forward three years, I now have the time to do the job justice and probably won't again for many years. Plus, I lost the garage space. So I have engaged a few bodyshops and found one that seems to fit the bill, and have started to amass parts.

 

Brief plans for the car are as follows:

 

- Welding to sills and other problem areas (drivers' floor springs to mind, something showing above the rear axle, anything else that appears at the mercy of the blaster)

- Bare metal respray in original Sterling, wheel refurb, new trims as required, etc.

- Suspension & steering overhaul (springs and dampers are original, some yoof installed Powerflex in the front end, steering box leaks)

- Brake overhaul incl. all lines

- Replace Diavia AC with something that works

- Replace gaudy turquoise '00s deck and changer with a proper hifi install

- Other interior updates

 

That about covers it for now, other than an Inspection 2. The bombproof M30 has been well looked after and can wait a while for some love (i.e. a Fritz exhaust and Schrick cam), as can the rest of the driveline. I could / should have replaced more than I did when I did the manual swap, but that's experience speaking. Hopefully the car is away to the bodyshop before Christmas. I'll keep this updated as I go.

 

First time in the light of day for three years, unceremoniously dragged backwards with a stuck starter motor to somewhere secret in the fens...

 

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...words cannot convey my excitement.

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First update already.

 

The E36 was on van duty this weekend. We found a clean, unloved pre-facelift 525i in a breakers' yard frequented by one of my uni mates. Excuse for a road trip, some cider and an hour with a socket set.

 

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Three doors, a boot lid, two wings, some tidy front bumper mounts and a couple of other bits. I now can't fit in my shed.

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Black Friday secured me this beauty, the first component of my audio install (priorities firmly sorted):

 

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Currently hooked up to some surprisingly decent old Sony bookshelf speakers I found, providing desk tunes at work. FLAC albums on the Nexus, 20A power supply set for a healthy 13.6v. Audio bliss already.

 

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The install will be without a dedicated subwoofer, the intent being that the system is almost invisible. Active crossovers, time alignment and EQ are courtesy of a Pioneer 80PRS deck. Mid-woofers are already on their way. I'm using home audio drivers, because they're cheap. Plus having access to a machine shop should prove useful for mounting concerns.

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Nice project and will follow with interest. The M30 in Sport guise is an e34 great. Basic, hardy and hustles along nicely even by modern standards. ;)

 

C.

Carl-e34 and TomGC like this

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The 535i will always have the iconic 5 Series name behind the M5 and given the indestructibility of the M30 engine perhaps they will outlive them; tough, rough, tough (it should be mentioned twice), torquey and easy to keep in tip-top shape the engine is a high point in BMW history and will outlive whatever chassis its dropped into.

Good luck and best wishes with keeping your Great Uncles car; the emotional attachment should stop you from keeping to try and upgrade to a different E34 from the 535i E34; a truly great car with a monumental engine.

GStarrr, FIVE-OH, 528i-FAN and 3 others like this

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... the engine is a high point in BMW history and will outlive whatever chassis its dropped into ... a truly great car with a monumental engine.

 

Could have not put it better myself. BMW got it so right with this one: old enough to feel special yet new enough to be a practical everyday proposition, even 25 years on. Both big enough and light enough to trouble both ends of the spectrum. From an engineering design standpoint, it appeals on so many levels.

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Brilliant thread looking forward to the updates

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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No updates yet unfortunately. I have been shirking my front-passenger door hunting duties recently.

 

The bodyshop's current project (late-80s Benz Coupe) is dragging due to parts availability. Thankfully not a problem a lot of us are familiar with in the BMW camp...!

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Well, the closest I have to an update, I have been severely distracted by sound systems recently. Installed a stereo in a Smart car and a Sonos in a flat over Christmas, impressed by both. Found the Nexus I was using in my own setup to be very much lacking in quality for both DAC and pre-amp stages, and after the headphone jack in my phone has broken for the third time, sought a proper solution.

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Enter the very capable Fiio X3. Digital transport, asynchronous DAC, digital / pre-amp out, and headphone amplifier in one. Straight out of China and a blatant rip-off of the iPod classic it may be, but it has blown me away. Far more powerful and flexible, significantly cheaper, and arguably better built.

Not quite sure how it relates to the E34 though...

Sent from my D5803 using Tapatalk

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More audio. Two Peerless SLS 6.5" subs destined for the kick panels.

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These will be covering the bottom 3-4 octaves up to about 250Hz, so that I don't need a sub in the boot. I buzzed up a quick enclosure to test their response to the lower frequencies. They're not going to shatter the earth but sound like they will fill the bottom end out nicely for most normal music at normal volumes.

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Unfortunately I can't give them a proper test yet as my box has all sorts of odd resonant frequencies and the source player I'm using doesn't have enough equalisation to sort it. Hopefully the kick panels will seal up nicely.

Off to see the body shop's most recent project next week. They have nothing lined up afterwards, so watch this space...

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Yes, if they fit without cutting metal. I have seen 8" drivers in there before so it should be doable.

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No progress to report, trying to buy a house with outbuildings at present. Picked up a hook for the E36 to save on the inevitable transport costs of my fleet, of which only 33% are roadworthy.

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So whilst this is rapidly becoming the E36 restoration thread...

 

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...house purchase eclipses E34 restoration efforts. The run up to Christmas will entail the erection of a bespoke facility for classic BMW research and development (shed in the garden), justified by the fact that the other half also gets a new kitchen. Then once that's done, just the small matter of a 306 with catastrophic head gasket failure to remedy before complete strip of E34 ensues.

 

In the meantime; I have been plotting some rather tasty upgrades which should hopefully make up for that fact that the car has spent another YEAR on SORN, and I have dismally failed at my attempt to get the car roadworthy to attend Munich in September. Not like it's a once in a century occasion or anything...

mumbojumbo likes this

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I feel your pain. My fault entirely but having to fund a wedding in July 2017 combined with the theft of my trailer has put the brakes on any restoration of the 5. Concentrating on doing small bits over the next 12 months before carting it  off for some welding and paint. Look forward to updates and congrats on the house purchase

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Thanks! And congrats on the wedding. No doubt this will eventually turn into the small pre-war Derbyshire end terrace restoration thread, hopefully sooner rather than later.

 

I did see your post when the trailer went MIA, scumbags. Unfortunately trailers will always be that lethal combination of desirable, easy to steal and virtually untraceable. Were the police / insurance of any help?

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Police were of no use unfortunately. Need to plug a huge leak in the fuel pipe so i can get the car running properly then will cart it off to the bodyshop somehow for a quote. Using the intervening time to source all the parts i need for bushes, brakes, shocks etc although don't see it being on the road before 2018.


On another note i read about your plan for a schrick cam, i fitted one to my old 535 sport and it was awesome, but totally ruined the already poor fuel economy to ~ 12mpg. Where are you going to source yours from?

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My dad lost a load of power tools, mowers, etc. a few years back - similar story. Stolen from his garage in broad daylight!

 

How much of yours is due to be redone? I know mine will need sills and rear arches, rear subframe and tank will have to drop for access to the boot floor. Just hoping that the bulkhead is fine as I don't want to have to remove the engine and box. The worst of mine is in the easy panels, doors / wings / bootlid make it look worse than it is (hopefully).

 

No firm plans for engine work yet, so I've not spoken to anyone about actually sourcing the Schrick. Ultimately one day in the future I would like to do a complete driveline rebuild, with high compression and an overbore. If I do it'll get custom management, so should be able to tame the fuel use through a good map. At the end of the day it's an M30 though, it doesn't need work at present and it won't set the world alight without mad spend. I'll be much happier by nailing the suspension setup and brakes, which is the plan for the short term.

 

Duncan was the Fritz exhaust worth it too? The manifold seems to be priced reasonably.

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Well so far all four sills and a patch around the filler cap but nothing more that i call see. Mind you there could be alot thats hidden so going to strip more back and have a good look. Unfortunately my Garage sprung a leak so have been spending good car stripping time on a ladder re tiling the roof instead. 

Agreed an M30 will never be the fastest of most efficient but i prefer the straight 6's over the V8's which are a little lazier in my experience. 

IIRC the fritz exhaust fouls the steering box on E34's although Duncan will confirm

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