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Calypso's project E34 520i - Now for sale!

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OK, so with the amount of pictures and words I have already inflicted on random parts of this outstanding forum, I thought it was probably about time I started a project thread on it.  I wish I'd started this when I first bought the car back in September last year, but hey - better late than never I suppose.


So - I have had a few BMWs - an E36 320i years ago, and then, all in the last 10 years or so, an E39 530i and a handful of E34s - mostly 525is, and one 535i Sport thrown in.  I had moved away from old BMWs for a while, and then got a hankering for another one (it's an addiction) - and this came up in the for sale section of this very forum.  I wasn't keen on buying a lowly 520i automatic at first - especially as this one had had a recent insurance claim due to a light side swipe which had damaged both nearside doors, and the front wing. But -  it was rust free, and the interior wasn't shredded like so many of them are.  Cloth interior appealed to me too.


The car was being sold by a fellow forum member, who rescued this car from a well known vehicle dismantler.  He is known for his knowledge of these old BMWs, and having had the damaged doors and front wing repaired, he had gone through the car top to bottom, and carried out some essential repairs to bring it back to a decent standard mechanically, replacing some brake parts at the rear, shock absorbers at the front, and changing the water pump, plus various other little bits. so a deal was done and I travelled from Inverness to Mansfield to get the car.  Everything was exactly as described, and I drove it back to inverness without any issues.


Edited by Calypso-E34

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So firstly some pictures of the car having the damage which caused the insurance claim sorted, and the car as bought ( pics courtesy of Andy Everett)

















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First job to do was to give the car a really good clean.  It wasn't bad ad all, but this is how I go about getting to know a car when it first arrives - plus it was September, and as winter was fast approaching where we live, I wanted to get a couple of coats of wax on there, so off I went one uncharacteristically sunny Saturday :
















Edited by Calypso-E34

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Now - some people - MOST people - get to the important things before messing about with smaller, insignificant things.  Not me.  No Sir.  What was important to me?  Installing a phone holder to hold a daft (but working) period mobile phone.  Important stuff next, right?  WRONG.  Next up was making sure the torch in the key was returned to working order, and at a cost of over £50, ordering up a new spare key from BMW. Some reproduction BMW alarm stickers were deemed essential obviously.   Oh yes, and - I replaced the mirror glass too!













Edited by Calypso-E34

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Right, so - moving forward to some serious stuff, I wanted to get all the centre console lights working properly, install a rear cigarette lighter for charging stuff, and replace the period Sony radio / cassette with a period OEM BMW one, together with the obligatory cassette box for the centre console naturally......


I thought - change a few bulbs - how hard can it possibly be?  The rest - all plug and play surely........


I also wanted to install a full OBC in the car.  I followed all the guides on the internet, bought the correct coding chip from BMW, did a lot of messing about, but just could not get it to work in the 520i.  This is unfinished business for me, and something I will revisit in the future.  In the end, I've had to settle for a digital clock for now.


Interior lights were upgraded to the ones with map readers from another model - easy, plug and play upgrade, and it seemed silly not to do it.



































Edited by Calypso-E34

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After all the messing about with bulbs, wiring, trim and an ENORMOUS amount of screws, clips, fixings etc, I put it all back together and took a break from this sort of nonsense, as I wanted to drive the car for a bit before winter.




The broken door cards were bugging me.  This seems to be a thing with pre facelift E34 door cards - the glue in the cloth / card inserts starts to let go, and the inserts can just fall off.  Fixing them, while technically possible, would need to be done by a skilled trimmer - and that just isn't me.  I had to make a decision - Try to find a decent trimmer and have them repaired (Ha - good luck with THAT if you live up here), try to find some replacement original door cards, or search out a facelift interior.  I reasoned that even if I found a good set of original door cards, they would eventually break up.  I did look around, but everything for sale was either as bad as mine, or a lot worse, so I decided to go for the facelift stuff.  This would mean that I would need to replace all four door cards, the glove box, the gear surround insert, and the lower dash.  In the end, I replaced the entire centre console, as there were some unsightly holes from a previous telephone installation in the original one.


The replacement door cards arrived in bits, without some of the door clip mountings, so before I could go any further, I had to recover these from the old door cards and fit to the new.  Fast setting strong Araldite is absolutely the only thing for the job here incidentally.  I replaced most of the door clips too, along with the bit that holds the centre of the door card to the door - I always break these.  Also broken was the glove box - and so, I had to source another one.  I'm still not happy with the fit of this - I think I must be doing something wrong - hopefully I will get to the bottom of why it won't line up!  Can anyone help with this?


I noticed that the sunroof switch, much to my annoyance, wasn't  illuminating.  I bought a couple of used ones which didn't work either, before buying a new one from Cotswold.




























Edited by Calypso-E34

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Next up, some bitty jobs I wanted to get done.  The bonnet was always in the background thinking about killing me every time I was under there, due to weak struts, so replacing these was a bit of a no brainer.  On the trim front, I wanted to put a shiny exhaust tip on there (even though I don't think it would have had one when it was new), and replace the small panel on the bumper around the exhaust, which had gone missing. 


It was also high time that the door handle seals were replaced, as they were all cracked.  Now you CAN buy aftermarket ones on eBay inexpensively, but my research told me that these don't last too well, and so I bit the bullet and bought a new set from BMW.  These fit perfectly as you expect, and come with new plastic handle surrounds, which is an (expensive) bonus I guess!


I also replaced the engine covers with some cleaner ones, and replaced the screw covers.









Edited by Calypso-E34

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Good stuff! Apart from having radio1 on in one of the pics :D

as a newbie to e34s I’ve also found that the door cards have an eastern block air to them.

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And so on to last week - not very much done really, but I did have one small victory.  The car came with the unusual option of folding rear seats, which can be very handy indeed - however these didn't work.  When you pull up the seat bases, there are supposed to be a pair of brass coloured levers which release the backs.  The problem was that one of the levers had snapped off at the base, and the other one didn't appear to be working at all - and guess what?  NLA from BMW.  I had put this issue on the long finger on the basis that it didn't matter that much, but I thought I may have a broken coil spring, in which case this would have to be resolved in order to get at the top of the rear strut mounting nuts.  Anyway, after fiddling around with the side which still had the lever, I managed to get that working, and the other side has a bit left of the lever which was just square enough to get a spanner on and release the seat.


I took the opportunity to replace the broken centre belt while I was in here, so that's another little thing.







Edited by Calypso-E34

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This week, time for the first of the expensive jobs, and one which I wanted to get 100% right, rather than me just having a go.  My Wife had very kindly bought me a voucher for The Wheel Specialist in Inverness for Christmas.  These guys have refurbished many sets of wheels for me before - BMW style 32 and 37s, Volvo 16s and Ford 17 -  and while one or two didn't turn out 100% back in their earlier days, they always re did them if you weren't happy.  They have come on in leaps and bounds now though, and although I had in my mind set aside this voucher to do the F10 winters, I decided to have these done instead.  Rather than just the four, I decided I'd do the spare too.


The job was done earlier this week, and I'm very pleased with the results.  Many E34 owners add bigger wheels to their cars with great results ( including me - I've had Style 5 17s, Alpina 17s and Style 37 'M Parallel' 18s on previous E34s I've had), but for this car, an original looking 520i, I had already decided to try and keep it as intended by its manufacturer.


I am still waiting for the spare which for some reason TWS couldn't complete at the same time as the others, but at least I've cleaned up the spare wheel well in anticipation of its arrival!















Edited by Calypso-E34

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So, I think the car has come a LONG way since Andy rescued it from the scrappy, and to be honest it was well worth saving, as I have been using it for the last couple of weeks.  To be honest, I'm reluctant to get back into my more recent F10, but I have to remember that this car is for occasional use - and is insured under a limited mileage policy, so it's back to weekends and holidays - which is fine, as that's what I wanted it for after all.


There are still some jobs to do in the near future.  I have a CD43 radio / CD player which I bought for this car, however I have now decided that I prefer the idea of retaining the radio cassette, but I would like the facility to play CDs, so I'm going to install a CD changer in the boot.  The Sony changer which came with the car, and matched the Sony head unit is still in the car, but it won't match the head unit, so I have bought a 6 disk changer and cable which matches the BMW Business head unit, which is made by Philips.  I know they are compatible with each other, as they both came out of an E36.  I am told that this unit was sometimes fitted to the E34, but I can find nothing online which confirms this, which isn't a problem in itself, however by problem is that I can't for the life of me find brackets to fit the changer to the underside of the bulkhead beneath the parcel shelf.  I may have to try and get someone to make me up something.  If anyone has a solution, I'd LOVE to hear it!  I will also need to find a spare power source for the changer.  The Sony unit drew its power from the head unit, but that's not the case with the BMW setup.


Another issue I have is with my windscreen.  It's delamilating at the bottom, and looks unsightly.  The only way to sort this properly is to replace the windscreen, and I will do this eventually, but it's an expensive job, so I'm looking to find a bodge for the time being.  I'm thinking some sort of glass paint, or perhaps some black film.  Have any of you had a similar problem, and come up with a solution?


The car has the usual problem with the wipers rubbing on the bonnet.  I understand that this is due to worn wiper linkages, and that the fix for this is quite involved, and expensive too, if you can't find  good used parts.  I've hears it's even more painful if the car has factory air conditioning.  My car has had air conditioning retro fitted at some point during its life, so I'm not sure where that leaves me.  For now, I have moved the wiper up a little on its splines, away from the bonnet.  It looks ok, and the wipers are working fine, so it's something for the future.


Other than that, the car is going in for a paint correction detail during the second week of July.  It will bever be perfect, but it will be as close as it's possible to get without a bare metal respray, which I couldn't really justify, as it's pretty good for its age. 


I also had some reproduction Cooper Reading (original supplying dealer) dealer stickers made by Pukar Designs, and will put those in once I have given the rear screen a good clean.  The car is already wearing reproduction dealer number plates in period design, also made by Pukar Designs.













Edited by Calypso-E34

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I almost forgot!


I finally got the broken headlamp sorted out.  There was a hole in the high beam lamp on the passenger side when I picked up the car, but another complete unit was included with the car.  In the end, I decided not to waste half a day of my life working around the maze of lunacy that is the E34 grille and headlamp assemblies, and got the local specialist to do it.  He seems to have it down to a fine art.  So yes, I cheated!  Replaced all the bulbs with new Osram ones, along with new stalks for the parking lights


I have been trying to find anyone who does some sort of protectors for these lights for reasonable money on this side of the Atlantic without success.  Anyone know of any?


Edited by Calypso-E34

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Beautiful car, and great attention to detail !


I had an E36 320i (non-vanos) myself for 13 years. I loved that engine and the car even though it used more fuel and had less power than the 325i. Always wanted an E34, but that won't happen now, I just admire everyone else's. :-D

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So, thanks to Tim Pollock (Member name Tims on here ) BMW Classic Spares, I have en route to me a couple of items which, while not strictly speaking absolutely necessary, should reduce my OCD itch a bit.


Firstly, the plastic rubbing strips on the doors.  A couple are a bit scruffy, while one of them has a screw in it where the clips have obviously failed.  Tim has sent some good used ones, and I have some new clips and grommets from BMW, all of which I will fit soon.  I also found some new old stock front bumper corner trim, which will tidy up the front end.


Secondly, Tim had a completely unworn driver's seat in the correct 0411 anthracite cloth upholstery, which is a rare thing indeed.  The seat in the car is actually not too bad, but has worn through an area the size of a 50p piece on one of the seat back bolsters, so when this came up, I bagged it, as these will get even rarer as the cars are scrapped - not much call for cloth seats when leather is still a popular upgrade.


My current seat :





Edited by Calypso-E34

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Today was a day for removing and refitting bits of trim, carpet, insulation and the like in order to remove the cable for the old Sony CD changer, and fit the BMW one so I can fit the changer to suit the BMW Business head unit. 


Its all all done now, but in order to fit this changer I’m going to need some brackets, which I don’t have and am struggling to find. I also need to find a power source -  I had a look today but couldn’t see anything obvious. 


CAN ANYONE HELP WITH THIS?  Pic of the player and connections below. 


I fitted the new new plastic bumper trims today, and they are a big improvement. They are not OEM, but they are inexpensive, and as far as I can see, just as good. 


I have removed the instrument cluster, and will be packing it off to have it refurbished, as the mileage was starting to fade, and the gear position indicator is unreadable most of the time. I should have it back for next weekend. 


I got got my spare wheel back from the refurbishers, so I put that back where it belongs, and finally, I have a working glove box torch!  This has been refurbished with new batteries and converted to LED. Can’t believe what I spent on that - in fact I’m not going to fess up!!
















Edited by Calypso-E34

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I was expecting to have had my instrument cluster back by now, but the chap is still trying to work out how to (if possible) repair the gear selector indicator. 


I finally tracked down a bracket for the CD changer - however it’s coming from the USA, so no work on that this weekend. 


So so all I got done today was a decent wash to remove a couple of kilos of pollen, and I changed out the headlamp level switch, as it looked bloody awful - who knows why!!






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Not strictly speaking essential to the ongoing improvement of the old E34, but good to get this box of bits all sorted out - a few things in here o had forgotten about to be honest!!







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This looks too clean, almost too clean to drive. Just park it somewhere and look at it all day :D Reminds me that I need to do something with my driver's seat, as it's got 2 rips on the base (also Silver Grey) and the NSF dipped beam headlight got a chip in it - doesn't bother me too much, but again needs to be done one day.

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So - a couple of little jobs done on Grandad today. 


I hadnt been happy with the small patch of wear on the drivers seat for a while. Surprisingly, I managed to track down another seat which has no wear at all. That’s got to be rare for a cloth upholstered E34 now!  Big thanks to Tim Pollock at Classic BMW Spares for that, and the good deal he did on it. 


The replacement seat needed a few bits swapped over from the old seat, as it didn’t have arm rests and mine has. A bit of messing about, and it was all done. I need now to give the entire interior a good valet, but it’s looking good I think. 


The other thing was an infill panel to go between the rear lights. I’m not 100% sure of this on this particular car, but it is a genuine BMW part ( thanks to Cotswold for a good price on this) and would have been an option when the car was new.  I’m hoping to go down the clear indicator route soon too, so we’ll see. 


Right - Beer o’clock gentlemen!
















Edited by Calypso-E34

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Couple of small things today, that actually ended up taking up half the afternoon. 


Fourth time lucky with the glovebox!  This one arrived 100% intact and fitted perfectly first time - thanks to David Olias for that - knows how to pack these properly!!


Next was changing the indicators out for clear ones. What an absolute bitch of a job. Skin on my hands is shredded. Three screws each side, two of which are hard to get to, especially the near side. Lots of WD 40 needed, and rubber bones....








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Such a good project!


I really do like the look of these cars; old skool, but not old fart ;) 


That 530i on eBay has really caught my attention! She'd kill me if I turned up with another car :lol: 

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1 hour ago, The Flying Banana said:


Oh dear Dan .... on the slippy slope downwards now if you are letting your wife dictate potential purchases ...do you have say in her clothes / shoes / make up .....I would think not so go and buy that 530 :)


Haha no; but our decisions are joint, once she's made me realise I was wrong :lol::P



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