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E34 535i Sport / M5 content

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I've been toying with the idea of doing an older BMW up for a while now, and had some great input from some guys here like Jamie and others, mostly warning me off. I've pulled back from the older models due to wanting an entry level project, and decided if i was going to get involved in something, it would be a newer model i am familiar with, to learn the easy way re welding costs and potential area's that will need doing / fixing. 

As such it was either going to be an E28 or an E34, of which a manual sport model was the only real option of interest to me. 

After a few months, saw an ad on gumtree for a E34 535i Sport which had been sitting in a car port for the last 8 years. When i drove up to Grantham to view it, it barely started, and almost immediately overheated and missfired, and tbh looks super tired, but the sunroof worked, and i'd driven all the way there, so gave the lad £800 and trailered it home. I've owned a fair few e34 535's over the years so know my way around an M30 (i even put a schrick 282/280 cam in one once) so im 'fairly' comfortable with the mechanics on this. 

I've decided the plan is to get it running and holding its temp, then bosh it in for an MOT and see just how bad the list is, and go from there. I've no time pressure or plan per se. 

Here are a couple of pics after getting it in the garage...





So its decently specced, but hasn't been touched by a human in at least 8 years i would say. (at last that's when the last MOT expired). Decided to start with the cooling system and missfiring issue. Rotor arm and cap is knackered, the radiator crumbled in my hands when i took it out, the water pump is rusted, but still spins etc. Whipped off all of that and the housings to clean up, get new sensors, stat, pump, rad, rotor arm and cap and see how she runs. 




Its got some pretty snazzy aftermarket 17's but i love the old metric wheels with the impossibly bad grip, so if anyone has some lying around and by some miracle still have tread let me know...

More updates Bi weekly or so...

Edited by mumbojumbo

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On the cooling system if the water pump is the plastic one I would change it for a metal one as the plastic impeller is inclined to shred.   But the car looks a great foundation for a great car and will follow the progress

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Dedication is respected - this E34 Revival Club is always pleased to welcome another martyr to the cause - but most of us get there in the end,

one finished and going (hopefully) one gone and two in the usual repair phases, rust and paint plus paint and minor rust - aren't they wonderful at sucking wallets.  :P


looks a really nice car and well worth the effort/trip/tow and a reasonable cash outlay.

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Good on you for the save. At £800 it was a gift as the interior, bumpers and steering wheel are worth that. ;)


Genuine 535i/5 Sports are very thin on the ground as most have been snapped up as donor cars over the last few years by the e30 & drift community.

Fingers crossed she's running soon and the list of advisories isn't too long.



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So ordered up a few bits, including coolant sensors, waterpump, thermostat, spark plugs, oil + filter, alternator belt and waiting on Tims for a rad, rotor arm and cap and will hit up BMW for some thermostat housing gaskets and exhaust rubbers. The thermostat housings are at a friends to be cleaned in his ultrasonic cleaner. Looking forward to seeing how well that works. 

Also had a good poke around under the car last night making full use of the mechanics pit and inspection lamp in my garage. 

All four jacking points are toast
Brake disks totally corroded
Brake or fuel lines or both corroded/ rusted
Mouse/mice has lived in spare wheel well and eaten all wiring in the boot
Exhaust looks sketchy, rubbers have perished and split, wont know if its blowing till car runs properly
Bushes: hard to tell but assume they are knackered
Clutch is spongy as hell

Overall it could be worse, the interior is surprisingly ok, bar a couple of peeling door cards and the body, trim, arches etc all look fine, just really really dusty and scuffed. Over the next few weeks i'll continue gathering the rest of the bits i need and get it running properly. I'll also rewire the rear lights, check / change the slave cylinder for the clutch and then get it in for the MOT at the end of May or June to get a list of things to work on. 


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Got a bit of time this weekend to do a little more on this. Picked up a load of bits from BMW & GSF including:

Water pump
Spark Plugs
Coolant level sensor
Coolant sensor
OIl + Filter
Gasket for thermostat housing
Exhaust rubbers

After a night in my mates ultrasonic cleaner the housings looked like this 



I then spent a while putting it together, clearing out a lot of spider webs and ivy as i went. 


Found the intake housing and filter in the boot with the washer reservoir and pumps. Fitted it all back together but finding a lot of the wires are brittle and snapping.

Starting to look more human again 


So still need a Rad, Rotor cap and arm, and that's just to see if she runs properly...

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So update here, after a couple of weeks, i've managed to get her running. Ended up changing the rotor arm and cap a couple of times (ended up with GSF stuff which worked fine), the rad i had to get new for ~ £90, plus some other bits and bobs. Managed to clear the error messages on the dash too


I drained out the old oil and was alarmed to find it so cloudy. After 8 years could so much condensation have got in? Still after an oil change its running quieter and evenly. 


So main issue is that is over heating. I'm not getting any hot air through the vents so guessing the heater valve is knackered, so will change that, unless anyone else has any bright ideas. I can't see it being the head gasket as it runs fine, plus there's no oil in the coolant etc. How do you bleed these things? can't remember for the life of me. 

Having heard it run im 99% sure the exhaust is toast, its properly rusted, so will need a newer one... Poking around underneath i'm also smelling fuel, no clue where from but guessing its from the lines somewhere or if i'm lucky the tank itself. 

So next step here is to fix the overheating, before we move towards an MOT of some sort...


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Finally got some time to work on the car. Found the battery totally flat so had to get it on trickle charge. Meanwhile i was able to change the heater valve and top up some coolant. She fired up with a couple of seconds of hesitation but i immediately smelt fuel. Alot of it. Looking under the car there's a stream of petrol coming from just in front of the off side rear wheel, i'm guessing the fuel filter is located there. 

All the rain we've had has revealed 2 major leaks in the roof of the garage, ruining quite a bit of old crap i had accumulated. I've decided to spend the next couple of weeks fixing this before i carry on with the car as i don't want damp. Another hurdle was the theft of my car trailer, so getting it to the bodyshop for welding etc is going to more of a challenge. 

On it goes...

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Had a busy summer so only got to the garage for the first time in months last weekend. The car is now running and starts first time (New Battery among many other engine parts), but noticed a strong smell of petrol. Turns out Fuel is literally streaming out from just behind the rear Offside wheel. Can just about make out the two fuel lines and its leaking from where the bracket holds them to the body. 

Would have been able to do more but discovered the locking wheel nut on the rear wheel, and of course no key. Despite best efforts had to accept i'll need a universal key thing, so ordered that off amazon, and so will need to wait. The brake lines look awful so planning on changing them all, hopefully this weekend. 

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I would whip the cam cover off, do the tappets, remove the two banjo bolts and four copper washers and twist the spray bar round 90 degrees for a good clean out - I run a 2 mm drill through the oil holes to enlarge them a tad. Fit new banjos from BMW - do NOT reuse the old ones as the always come loose, and thread lock is verboten as it always congeals in the oil hole. The new ones have a slightly different thread pitch, meaning they will never come loose again.


M30 cams are now BMW only with no aftermarket ones available. They are about 400 quid. Two new banjos are £25.

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Ok so slight change of tack here. Had a good think and decided to take a step back and do this properly. I've decided to strip back the car, bag everything up, replace all the rusty bolts and broken plastic clips, bits etc, send the car off as a shell to be welded and sealed  and then put it back together again. I intend to keep it as OEM as i can and aiming to have the body ready to trailer to the welders by Autumn 2017. I work abroad weekdays so can only work on this the odd weekend. 

So turned her on and spun her back around so the front is facing out, so i can get the engine and box out easily. 


And the first step was to pull the side skirts. the 10mm Bolts on the front end  were rusted solid, and the bottom of both wings, despite looking fine from the outside and above, are totally rusted through beneath the plastic... Had to dremel off the rusted bolts, and cleaned up the skirts ready for spraying at a later point. I'm bagging individual clips and bolts in separate zip seal bags for each component and marking it, replacing all the broken or rusty stuff as i go along. this will help me put it all back together again.  






And here are the manky bolts. Having spent a few hours on the car now rusted bolts and screws are a recurring theme. Dremel is worth the investment...


Next up: Stripping back the bonnet and lifting it off...

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The Bonnet: Despite heavily stone chipped, its totally rust free bar a tiny bubble on the frame beneath the sound proofing. Peeling off the lining is easy with the ~ 20 little rivets, and then i peeled back the hoses and wires, carefully marking each plug so i know what plugs into where!



Access Much easier without the bonnet. Resting on a foam block, its now put to one side waiting for an eventual paint...


Next up: Front Wings...

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Front Wings. I know they're both rotten below, so just was a case of undoing the 15 or so 10mm bolts and whipping them off...


Revealing quite a clean inner wing, although note rust creeping from the sill bottom left...


Rest of the metal work under the wing looks ok, repeated with the other side. The bumper carrier bolts (10mm) had rusted through however so will need to change those.


Finally, to round off the day, spent a little while removing the front grill assembly and lights. 


That all for this weekend. Next up: continue stripping the front end down, plus trim and rear bumper. 



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Nice work! Putting all the fixings and clips is a great idea, I've done the same for my MGB that I'm very slowly restoring so I have half a hope of remembering what goes where :P

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Moved on the front suspension assembly here and had an hour or two to do what i could. I'll leave the pictures to do the talking but many spiders were made homeless. 





So Calipers, disks and pads are off, plus all the arms are off bar the lower control arm, i had somehow left my 19 socket at home so couldn't tackle it. 

I've ordered a front caliper rebuild kit so will grind off the rust, POR15 those bad boys and rebuild them. I've got a nice run of days off over Xmas so looking forward to getting more time in the garage also.

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Good progress

I would advise giving those front spring pans a good prodding for corrosion.

Also, if your completely stripping the car for repairs/welding, I'd suggest not stripping it down completely.

The bare minimum of running gear you can get away with should be left on the car even if loosely secured. It becomes very difficult to move the car whilst transporting and under repair imo.

Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk

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Thx, im gonna bin the springs and go for something a touch lower and some fresh shocks. I've been thinking about how to move the car when stripped and decided to pull all the suspension/ subframes etc first, fix them up and as you say refit 'loosely' so that they can be removed for welding etc. At one point i thought i could get away with some sort of trolley for the car but even stripped i understand the shell is still very heavy so not really viable.  

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Due an update i believe. Unfortunately due to a winter cold and socializing over the Festive period progress has been a little slower than i hoped (not to mention planning my wedding for July!). Having said that with the number of bolt, nuts, clips and loose bits floating around i'm taking it super slow to make sure i get it back together properly. 

My first challenge was getting the mystery locking wheel nut off the rear nearside wheel. Not of a classic BMW design and stubbornly refusing to come out with a wheel nut extractor key. Thoughts of angle grinding the alloy off came and went but in the end a bit of ebay browsing of keys showed up an aftermarket key that looked remarkably similar. Success meant the 4 alloys could come off and go on ebay, and i could start dismantling the rear subframe. 


As my Garage is around 30mins from home i also wanted to start rebuilding smaller parts at home to save travel time. First thing in the parts box was the front calipers.



Time for a Rebuild. Completely stripped them, Ground down the worst of the rust, Degreased, Metal prepped and POR15 High temp painted. I went for silver as i'm keen to keep things as OEM as possible. Thats them boxed up and ready to go on in about a year. 


Also ongoing was dismantling the front subframe, shocks and cleaning them up. step by step. Some pics to do the talking. Most of it has / had surface rust but a few minutes with the wire brush on a drill and some metal prep saw to that. Bit by bit i'm degreasing, metal prepping and POR15'ing all these bits.

Font ARB mounts





Next Challenge was dismantling the front Shocks. Needed a thin wall 46mm socket to undo the bearing nut. $45 from the USA?!? Found one on ebay, cheeky bid in at £10 and won it. I have a 50cm Breaker bar but needed the added leverage of a parasol pole to break the nut loose on my workbench. Note to self, loosen rear ones ON the car. 

I'm finding the shock assembly quite a poor design, extremely heavy and rust collects int he bottom spring cup, despite a drainage hole. Either way 30 mins with by wire brush on a drill and most of the surface rust is gone. 


Finding as close to OEM shocks was quite a challenge. Was impossible to confirm that GSF and ECP were selling the right ones. Eventually found a new pair of SACHS advantage shocks in Germany for the princely sum of £110 delivered. They match the old Boge ones perfectly in dimensions and i'm confident they're the right ones. 

I'm pretty much at a stage where i can rebuild the shocks, and start putting the front subframe back together (need to drop the main subframe off the car still!) but i have a few purchases to make, namely some Eibach springs, control arms, stabiliser links, bushes and about £150 worth of nuts and bolts from BMW. 

Other ongoing bits too such as rebuilding front lights, Exhaust off etc will update in March when i hope to put up some pics of some sexy looking, POR!5'd front subframe assembly

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