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Splondike's M535i Project

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Back in 2007 I decided to get back into an older BMW as a second fun car, initially thinking about a four door E36 M3 for track days and shows. However, I went along to the BMW5 trackday at Bedford in February 2008 and had my head turned by a lovely group of E28s, which seemed to provide huge smiles and be retro cool at the same time.

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So I got home and turned my attention to finding a decent one which was more difficult than you might imagine. There was quite a lot of dross and whilst I wanted a car I would happy to track, I wanted it to be good one. There were a couple available that stood out for me, I found this lovely looking green thing for sale not too far away in Bracknell and if it was no good there was also for sale a certain Lachs Silver car now belonging to Mr Sepia which was for sale at the same time.



A little bit of BMW5 research revealed it had been owned by 3 people on the forum before me and had been well looked after with excellent history and only having covered 96K. It appeared to be rot free but with a few small marks and dings in keeping with a car with 23 years of battle ! Also it was an unusual colour, Agate Green, which I liked very much. The interior was tired, particularly the drivers seat but it drove and braked well on the test drive and so it appeared to be just what I was looking for. It had also been treated to having it�s cavities filled with Dinitrol and had been stored inside for most of it�s life too. A good base to start slowly modifying and improving whilst emptying my wallet at the same time. So I decided to go for it and left him with an offer to mull over.

It was available with Borbet B wheels too.  However at the time I could not justify an extra �800 on top of a �2k car so I declined to buy them and had it with the E38 16� wheels which looked pretty good anyway I thought. (Kicked myself for that one many times !) But I wanted to keep some money back to spend on mods too. Fortunately it had been upgraded with 7 series front brakes, braided hoses and an Eibach pro spring kit too, more in it�s favour with intended track fun planned ! So we struck a deal and went and retrieved it in blizzard conditions !

Anyway here is how she was when I picked her up in April 2008.


First thing was to take some bits apart, get her up on a ramp and make sure she was going to be worth the expenditure. So we got her up in the air and had a good look around to check the floor areas and inner sills thoroughly and found it all to be perfectly solid as it appeared on the trolley jack before I bought it. The only problem being a slightly damp boot caused by a tired boot seal and rear light seals which were duly replaced.


Whilst it was apart I tinted the rear indicators as well to see how it would look. Then I gave her a proper clean


Next it got a new starter motor to stop an occasional reluctance to turn over, new coolant, new banjo bolts and locktite, sunroof drains cleared out and all new gearbox linkage components to reduce the sloppiness of the gearchange. It also had new rear beam bushes and new �dog bone� rear linkages using Meile items and it was also throroughly undersealed

Next I replaced all the electric window switches as on the early cars they do not illuminate and that gave the interior a little lift ! Fortunately my Indy friend had loads so we simply swapped them.

I then fitted some German style plates and got rid of the huge old plastic ones (still have them though) and got hold of a nice shiny chrome grille to replace the black one.


Then I fitted the genuine Hella clear indicators that came with the car and and side repeaters with silver bulbs that I sourced to go with it.


I then purchased a Fritz�s bits six branch manifold and got a new exhaust fitted by Top Gear in St Albans, a Powerflow system that I watched them make and fit. This gave it a lovely deep rumble. Fitting the manifold had to wait for a while.

I chose these tailpipes for an OEM plus look�


Also fitted a little Momo 320mm stearing wheel to replace the Tech 1 bus sized one ! and a Storm Motorwerks heavyweight gear knob.


The first show outing for the car was Bimmerflex in 2008 seen here next to a certain burger van, sorry 528i wink.gif Showered in filings from my new exhaust on the gentle drive down laugh.gif


Dates were now being banded around for the next forum trackday so I started to concentrate on go rather than show with track prep and sharpening up the suspension and brakes.

With this in mind and the exchange rate against the US dollar favourable I got hold of a UUC Evo 3 shift kit from the good old US of A . More locally sourced some Whitline heavy duty ARBs and all assocatied bushes, droplinks etc from BMW. A new K&N panel filter, some rear calipers from an E39 540 and new discs and pads from BMW, and some nice ATE superblue racing brake fluid.

Firstly I set about the rear brakes fitting the new calipers, 300mm vented discs and pads:


Whilst this was going on I asked a mate of mine on the E30zone if he could make me up a set of crosshair tinted headlights and he accepted the challenge and made me up a set, so I set about polishing up all the front chrome whilst I was at it !


So I got these fitted up to the car, sticking with the chrome rings. In the mean time I had been to see the familiar face of the BMW parts manager in Ashford so I could renew all the fixings and adjusters on the lights whilst I had them all apart.


I then attacked the shift kit and the ARBs


What a difference these made, the car was sharper and the gear change much more precise.

I finally found a set of wheels I really liked, some style 42s in 17x8 flavour popped up on Ebay with decent rubber on them so I snapped them up�

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At the American Diner meet next to Jamies M5

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At the 2008 ultimate BMW show at Santa Pod, next to Andyb�s 535i SE.


I had been on the lookout for a new Pearl Beige trim and then a red/brown one appeared on ebay in a bit of a dirty state as it had been sitting in a breakers yard, but it appeared to be structurally ok and I thought I could possibly re-colour it if needs be. After some digging around on the forum and some help from the BMW dealer, using a piece of paper under the rear seat, the colour code was found to be 0208 Taurusrot originally in a 1986 528i SE. More on this later as I had to concentrate on the MOT and impending track day.

It failed the MOT on a little play in the idler arm on the steering which was duly replaced but other than that is was all good, with the tester commenting on the condition and the number of new parts underneath !

At a Bluewater meet with the usual suspects in October.

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Then managed to get the Fritz� six branch on and it then sounded great. It glowed like a hobring when we were tempering it after fitting !


Here are a couple of videos�

A short drive

How it sounds !

It was then time for an oil change and checkover in preparation for my first track adventure.

Next was the second big forum trackday which was a great day out at Snetterton. I took instruction and then took my first nervy steps into the addictive world of track driving and loved every minute of it. The car was brilliant and surprised the instructor, who I think as with most people expect it to be rubbish and was pleasantly surprised such and old thing went so well. I also enjoyed some great laps with Jamie in 172 putting a Focus ST in it�s place at the end of the day !

Out with the instructor. !

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Harry's infamous Snetterton videos. Thanks Harry wink.gif

Part One:

Part Two:

Once back from the trackday I decided to attack that interior I had bought, so I started to give it a good clean up and it started to look pretty good.

How it was when I picked it up


After a good clean up

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I then sent off a leather sample to Gliptone for them to make up a 500ml scuffmaster kit to bring the interior back to life. During this period I acquired a rear shelf with sunblind and a pair of uncovered headrests. Another member then supplied me with some cloth rear headrest covers which could be used as a pattern for making up leather ones to match my seats. So once I was happy with the finish on the seats I took my trim and headrests to the trimmer and got him to re-stitch the backrest, re-stitch the seat bases and re-trim my bare headrests in leather.

Just before all this I has also bought some ebay gaitors to replace my knackered original one and also one for the handbrake in beige, (I hate that stupid brush) so I re-coloured these to match too and treated myself to a Storm Motorwerks handbrake handle to match the gear knob ! Whilst doing this I thought I should match up the doorcards as well so I stripped them all down and re-coloured those to match too !

Here it is all re-done..

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Christmas 2008 and some more goodies arrived:

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Some instrument rings, alloy pedals and a maplight rear mirror like that found in the M5. All fitted up in the Christmas break.

I then looked into cleaning up the under bonnet area and bought some new sound proofing and fittings for the underbonnet area, only to discover this

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Luckily Mr Sepia had a non rusty one on an E28 being broken so he swapped it over and painted for me, and my fading boot whilst it was there.

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Now the next forum trackday at Bedford was looming so back to mechanical prep. Fresh Oil, gearbox fluid and differential oil were changed, along with the tricky front gearbox linkage to remove the last of the sloppiness. Also all new belts and new spangly front brakes, EBC 3G discs and yellowstuff pads.

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I also sourced a set of Audi 90 Quattro gauges, got hold of an oil pressure sender and temp senders and had a T piece made up to mount them where the existing idiot light sender is mounted. Fitted them all up and, to my surprise, they worked a treat at the first attempt ! I mounted them in an old radio holder I found in the shed, it would do for now.


Oh, and nice BMW fire exstinguisher popped up so I grabbed that too!

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The trackday showed up deficiencies in the tall tyres on the 16 inch rims and a fair bit of understeer so plans for more suspension and wheel updates followed.

On track

Video of the day


Onto April now and a new set of ignition leads were installed as I tried to narrow down what the problem with a top end flat spot could again it seemed to improve things but not resolve them. I had found a source of some cheap Bilstein B6 and B8 dampers in the US which were basically half the price of anywhere else so Duncan and I snapped them up. Duncan then went in search of some K-Mac adjustable top mounts and managed to use some family ties in Australia to source two sets of stage 2 items.

When the new dampers arrived I bought all new top mounts, fixings and bushes etc from BMW and then fitted them:

Here are the parts !
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And on the car
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Once the adjustable top mounts had arrived I took the opportunity to strip the front suspension and put in the front inserts. We did how uncover a hole in one of the spring cups so this was ground out to good metal and a nice thick plate welded in. It was then waxoyled up and the drain holes cleared to hopefully stop it rotting any more. I also fitted a rear strut brace which is the BMW towing item and available from Germany via your local friendly BMW dealer.

In April we also had an excellent meet at the Castle pub in Bodiam. I had just got hold of a set of track/winter wheels in the shape of some 8x17 throwing star reps and the E38 BBS were sold on. The new rims were fitted just in time for the meet.


I decided with my nice new underbonnet trim the rest was looking a little dirty so I set about giving it all a clean up, and re-painted some of the parts whilst I was at it and all came up ok !


On 16th May we had the Surrey rolling road day which was an interesting exercise to see how far it had come as on a previous rolling road day in 2006 it had made only around 190 bhp. This time round it managed 206.7 bhp but had a fuelling issue right at the point where peak power would be made, so a decent improvement but still some way to go to find those missing horses.

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Video of cars on the rollers

Onto June 2009 and I thought I would update the front end to make it less fussy, so I got hold of a set of headlight rings without the wiper stops and rubbed them down and painted them with 5 coats of plasti dip. The wiper arms were looking pretty tired too so I gave them same treatment.

From this

I bought a new throttle position switch to see if it could resolve the fuelling problems at high rpms and it seemed to make a bit of difference, however I have not been back on the rollers yet to see if it has made a difference.

With Bimmerflex and the show season approaching I wanted to get the 42s re-furbed. Having spoke to several companies only Lepsons were prepared to split them and re-assemble them so I went for them. Going for a black chrome centre and a bright chrome rim to pick it out. I was delighted with the results:

At Bimmerflex
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August 2009 and as usual I was still unhappy with the way the car was sitting so I set it back to the highest spring cup setting on the rear shocks and was a little happier.


September brought the Ultimate BMW show at Santa pod, which had quite a collection of E28s.
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I finally could not take back down front up stance of the car any longer , so I ordered some Faulkner springs with Hartge spring rates as on Mr Sepia�s beasty. Mine are 25mm shorter at the front to make up for raising up of the front thanks to the adjustable top mounts.

The next forum trackday was booked for 8th November Brands Hatch indy circuit. In preparation I had got some excellent bucket seats from Mr Sepia and some 3 point harnesses to help keep things in check on track. Also did the usual fresh oil and brake fluid and general check over.

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Track wheels on again
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On track we had another great time, I did manage a little excursion across the grass when I did not set the car up properly under braking� but generally she held up well again. There was still a tendency to understeer even with the top mounts adjusted for maximum negative camber !


With the next forum trackday at Bedford looming I got hold of yet another set of rims to mount some slicks on. They are 8x17 Mimms that used to be on Sandip's 528i , they needed tarting up as you can see from this picky.


So I got them shot blasted to clean them up.
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Then I set about painting them up and decided to go a little different, 3 coats of primer 4 top coats and three coats of lacquer.


Then had the slicks I bought from Touring car sales fitted

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I still have not used them in anger and I may go for some track day tyres rather than all out slicks as they are going on an uncaged road car and not a stripped out racer I am yet to decide.


My old fog lamps were looking a bit cracked and tired and when a set became available I grabbed them and decided to put some laminex tint film on them to protect them. With the help of a hair dryer and a sharp knife it gave a decent effect. I also stuck in some upgraded bulbs whilst they were apart.


I had also found a nice Alpina 3 spoke steering wheel which is one of my favourites in the BMW range, and with the new Alpina wheel I decided to give the dials a more Alpina-esque look and paint the needles to match my Audi Gauges. I also swapped the gauges and the radio around to make them more visible when driving and tidy things up a bit.


Anyway the usual preparation ensued and the car seemed to be going quite well going into the day. I also got hold of a big bore throttle body which I fitted in time for the trackday which may help the breathing a little. I also stripped out the whole interior including the rear seats this time and fitted the buckets again. I also removed the extra weight from the rear wheel well and tidied that area up.

Anyway it turned out to be my first (very) wet trackday and it was an enjoyable day experiencing the limits arriving sooner than normal. The car behaved impeccably again putting some much newer tin to shame .

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Also got a suction camera mount so managed to get some in car footage. (Albeit at an odd angle on the rear side window as I could not mount it on the rear screen.



Onto March and I got the nice rims out and back on the car again for the show season and put all the interior back in after the track fun ! I also removed the ///M power number plate surrounds as I decided I really preferred it without them.


Last outing for the car was the superb day out at Brooklands in May 2010.
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Whilst it has been away I have sold the Style 42s and bought some Borbet Bs to go on it once back. They again needed a re-furb but Lepsons seem to have come up trumps again.

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I have also made some small interior updates to house the radio properly, more details when she returns. It is currently undergoing an engine transformation that is being done to give a little more punch !

The current plan is to enjoy it for a while (hopefully) and put some money away to finally get it painted properly sometime next year.

Any comments and suggestions are always welcomed.

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I am going to see it on Friday, so will hopefully get a decent progress update Dunc. You were hoping to see that I had spilled :lol:

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Nice write up Mark.

The car looks great in the flesh as it were and from the write up you can really see why. You have put alot of work into it and it shows.

Looking forward to seeing this year at Uxbridge with its new boots.


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When I go and see it I may take some piccies and share some info...we'll see soon enough.

I can tell you it's killing me as well, I have been without the bloody thing for ages !


Thanks for the comments chaps, I am extremely grateful to all the people on here who have helped me out over the time I have had it :)

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A little more punch Mark. When Ant described what he was doing the punch will be impressive.

Let's hope so Malc :twisted:

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Every time I see new posts under your thread I hope to see the final outcome.... Oh well lets hope the next time you will reveal what it was what happened under the bonnet!

Great job there!


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Yep :wink:

I had a little gasp at it at the 2010 Bedford meet and it did look good 8)

Can't wait to see it at the next Bedford meet :wink:

Cheers Ray, I am hoping to make it !

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Great write up Mark, you know you COULD trust me, shame about you refering to my baby as a Burger van, I will now squeel to the highest bidder now :lol:

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^ a quarter pounder ja?

Thanks Duncan, I'm not that cheap!!! Half pounder with cheese bacon and large fries :P

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Given up :( Oh but a large chocolate shake would do. Any way keep out of it fat boy!

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