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windwagen 01-04-2014 12:17 AM

E39 Touring Winter Beater
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I started this post in light of another thread where some members were looking for an touring with manual transmission. They spotted this car before I did, but I was the only one crazy enough to buy it... 400k

This is the other thread...

Soooo - the seller was asking 3k for it. When I first checked it out, it was in rough shape. They even warned when I called... "This is not a car you can just get in and drive".

Before driving...
-rusty hatch, doors, rock chips on the hood
-small rust spots here and there
-cracked windshield
-hatch doesn't work properly
-drivers window slow
-driver mirror slow
-rear windows dead - I figure these are seized
-driver seat dead
-rough paint
-UGLY aftermarket headlights - HIDs were removed
-airbag light
-ABS light
-puddle on floor - passenger side
-tear on front bumper
-seller says there are serious electrical problems- battery dies after 2 days
-wicked exhaust noise - seller says its just a loose flange
-idle drops every few seconds - bad vanos seals?
-did I miss anything?

The good
-tires look new
-style 5 means sport suspension
-comes with winter tires - almost new Blizzaks on 15 inch steelies

So we take it for a drive... wife actually likes it, although it's ready for the junkyard, it is kinda sexy.

-brakes are horribly rough - super rusty, but stops are strong and straight
-power is decent. Ascends steep hills in 5th at 100 kph, no problem
-3rd/5th gate is very sloppy. Hard for me to find 3rd gear
-clutch is good
-engine seems good except for the noisy exhaust
-suspension feels good, car drives straight
-heated seats work, driver seat has a hot spot under my left cheek
-everything else seems to work ok, even the AC although it's too cold to tell

So I make an offer for $1000 (they were asking 3k) with no wheels. I would bring the winters I was going to use for the M5. The seller thought that the BBS style 5s would fetch a lot more $... I didn't have the heart to suggest looking at Max's classifieds. Anyway, I didn't think anyone was going to call considering the mileage so I wanted to let it sit. I wasn't desparate for the car at all but it would make a unique ride.

After a week. He contacts me and says he'll take 2k, with both sets of wheels. I make an offer for $1600 and he takes it.

I pick up the car with a temp license and take it home. Hvac is not working, but comes on line part way home. The drive is uneventful and I start hammering it close to home. Bang Bang Bang - from underneath the car!
I put it on stands fgor a closer inspection and it stays that way for two weeks. Closer inspection reveals...

-Center Bearing is toast - no rubber left, hence the banging
-guibo is toast - so bad that the bolts are rubbing together and some of the corners are worn off!
-exhaust leak - flange my ass - cat is cracked all the way around
-keyless entry works, but is very weird. Locks don't open close correctly

So I start ordering parts and doing some research to fix the electrical bugs. I start with the driver's seat. Turns out, there is a fuse box under the passenger seat. Hmmmm - also, the windows, mirror and ABS get power from this thing. I'd bet it's just a bad connection. After all, there was a puddle on that side. I take the seat out and lift up the carpet.....

windwagen 01-04-2014 12:33 AM

2 Attachment(s)
When I disturb the fuse box, 6 wires break and it no longer starts. I managed to get a replacement from someone parting out a car here. Best thing is that this solves ALL the electrical gremlins. All windows, door locks, mirrors, power seats. HVAC ...even the ABS light is off!

All this time, I have a heater blowing at the carpet from underneath to dry it out. I remove the plastic plugs on the floor to let the water out. I decide to polish the paint and vacuum the interior (besides the lifted carpet) to keep motivated.

I start taking a look at the brakes. they are toast and a half. Pads are OK though. One front wheel bearing has a lot of play, but it wasn't noisy - yeah dummy - I couldn't hear it over the exhaust noise!

I start the hunt for other missing/damaged bits and pieces including replacing the ugly headlights. I find a great deal for a silver Msport bumper... $170 on ebay. Local pickup in Stoney Creek!

I take out the exhaust manifold with integrated cats and get it welded at the machine shop I use for work. Only one stud breaks so I was lucky. BMW provides 4 tapped holes for each exhaust port, but only 2 are used. I drill a hole in the adjacent port in liew of the broken stud. Fortunately, my cousin works at BMW corporate so he got me some incredible prices for the manifold gaskets, brake rotors, wheel bearing etc.

While I wait for that stuff to arrive, it's time for some bodywork. The rust on the hatch looks bad, but when I start going at it, I realize I need to cut a lot of it off. The rear hatch wasn't working properly and the seller said they spent 5k trying to fix it, unsuccessfully. I sure hope that's an exaggeration because it took me 15 minutes to figure out that the metal under the switch is so soft, that the button is flexing and intermittently makes contact. The wiring aslo has some intermittent breaks. Not suprising according to what I read on the net. Here are some nasty pix for you... get barf bag ready.....

windwagen 01-04-2014 12:43 AM

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So... I'm not an expert bodyman, but I'm pretty good at mudding drywall and I'm a cheap bastard. So instead of painting, I decide to use vinyl wrap. I find a store that's right next to one of the vendors I regularly use for work! I buy some premium stuff because it seems to match the paint pretty good. The premium stuff is 5x the price of the cheap stuff, but I spend less than $80. It's meant for vehicle graphics and is rated for 9 years outdoors!

It's far from a professional job, but I'm pretty happy with my handiwork. This stuff can be tricky for a novice. I had to do some small repairs to the Msport bumper so I wrapped that too.

windwagen 01-04-2014 12:57 AM

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I scored a headlight off a buddy I met here and I bought another locally. Both have bad adjusters to I order those on ebay. I got the fogs off yet another member and I've been getting more and more parts together.

Finally, I got all the mechanical bits installed like the guibo, center bearing, wheel bearing and brakes. it was time for a drive!!!!

Fawkkkkk - wheel bearing it still noisy! Turns out, the other one is bad too! otherwise, it drives fine. I learn about Redline M90 for the transmission and after a week, the 3rd/5th gear issue is almost 100%. It still get's glitchy while warming up. Like the vanos selas, it's fine when cold or at normal temp. I'm going to leave the vanos tillthe spring. Other wheel bearing is replaced.

I finally receive my OBDII > 20 pin adapter do I can make some coding adjustments and check out what's going on with the airbag. Clasic seat occupancy sensor - bypass plug ordered. I take the car to Connecticut for a business trip and it gets us there and back like a champ. 4 adults with gear.

The car drives real nice now. Somehow it doesn't feel as planted as the M5 or my ex 540. I think the diff bushing is going. I hear a clunk while accelerating once in a while. But otherwise it has a nice ride and the engine is silky smooth! The spare tire whas thumping around so I played with the mount and the air tank for the self levelling suspension to quiet it down. Now I'm looking for some wide kidneys to replace the current one - a one inch section is missing. Also, the 3 interior lights on the rear are missing the covers. I might have to hit my cousin for those too - ka ching!

I just noticed the gas door missing in one of these pix - hinge was busted so I got an ebay deal on that thing too. I gave the 15" Blizzaks to my parents. The summer tires are Firestone Wide Oval. I wouldn't buy these myself, but they are Firestones' hottest rubber. I have to give credit to the previous owner, they didn't skimp on anything. Even the shocks look like they were recently changed.

The car came with winter mats. I had the carpet folded up when drying it and there is a bump in the passenger floor where it never flattened out properly. Now it's frozen and any melted snow collects onthe left side of the mat. My wife complains that her pants are wet.
All I hear is "fawk, my pant(ies) are wet again!!!!"

Bullet Ride 01-04-2014 10:53 AM

Kudos for making the effort to save a car that most people would have parted out or sent to the scrappers.

T.Dot_E30 01-04-2014 11:46 AM

The front bumper, hood, side skirts and door bottom were all done with vinyl?
If so, they look pretty damn good in the pictures.

With a little time and effort, it's not too hard to bring a car back to life if you get our hands dirty. I also picked up an 528i that needed some work, not as much as yours, but it cleaned up well and made a great beater.

windwagen 01-04-2014 12:02 PM

Thanks... yeah, all vinyl wrap. Considering this car's condition, it's not worthwhile to get it painted...yet.

In retrospect, I think the cheaper vinyl might have matched better. This stuff is glossier than the original paint. I did the whole hatch and you can't tell from the colour, but where there are no seams, like the hood, you can see the contrast under bright light conditions.

cheapthrills 01-07-2014 10:30 AM

Good job giving that car some love! I went on a similar journey when I bought my E46. It was a high-mile and neglected car, but I felt that I was going to be driving way too many km to bother with a pristine example. I spent over a month and a few grand fixing everything on it while waiting for my other car to sell.

What is the brand, color, and vendor of the vinyl wrap? I really like the idea for a high-mile commuter, and my car is TiAg as well.

windwagen 01-07-2014 12:28 PM

All image printing, AIP. 510 Gordon baker road in willowdale. The shop has lots of stock and books to pick the color. You should try their website. The brand is FDC.I bought 2100 premium

2bmwguy 01-07-2014 04:59 PM

Good for you. Nice job.

windwagen 01-07-2014 11:48 PM


I should be thanking everyone here. I've said it before... I get a lot of good info from forums. Without that help, I wouldn't have the courage to take on a crazy project like this!

Quickid 01-08-2014 11:10 AM

I admire your dedication*rockout*. Good job!!!

windwagen 01-08-2014 04:36 PM

thanks - I'm glad I got it all done before the cold hit!

aviator 01-08-2014 06:32 PM

looks like you scored a sweet deal congrats on bringing her back to life...

ahab_01 01-20-2014 01:50 AM

That is sweet! Well done.

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