2nd Gear Member
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Toronto / Waterloo
Car: '97 328i
EDIT: Don't get a 318. Get at least the 325. If you're gonna restore a BMW, you're putting money + hours into it. Do you really want to restore a car with little go? Okay...some people do. I am being a little bold here but I'm going to guess you're no older than 22. You seem young. You don't want a 318, methinks.
I'm not going to lie - your lack of effort in your first post makes me very cautious. It seems you're not very sure what you're getting into. Let me try to break it down for you in terms of cost and money that I've experienced, difficult to least difficult. Restorations are not for busy students (okay, maybe they can be, but be prepared to put your baby on hold a lot). Restorations are not for poor people. Restorations are not for people who do not have a car to truck their stuff around already.
Most diff to do a good job DIY + costly at top
Engine (it's heavy, you need connections to machine shops, you have to get so much other shit out of the way)
Bodywork (holy fk this is 100x harder than you think. dust, insects, poor paint match. This is something that has 1000 variables. If any of those variables goes to shit, your job looks like shit.)
? ? ? ( "what the fk ?! ALL MY FASTENERS ARE RUSTED IN." )
Fuel + Cooling Systems ( "goddamn which of the lines is the problem?! why do I get such inconsistent power at the top end?" )
Brakes / Bearings ( "oh i hate rust everywhere" )
? ? ? < Lots of shit in here getting pretty easy> ( "nice, now my fingers look like they came straight outta the butchers shop. at least everything looks nice and works" )
Interior + Interior Electronics ( "that was a breeze. and my car looks nicer" )
Minor Plug/Play Replace components ( "wow was that too easy? smoothest upgrade of my LIFE" )
You have to consider the following:
1) DO you have a local BMW scrap yard? You're in toronto, so the answer is yes. Lucky you.
2) Have you had experience painting? No? Don't touch the body work unless you're willing to drop months into it or money into it. I started painting the side of my E36 in mid July. I haven't finished it to today becuase I'm not satisfied until I get it perfect. It's not technically the most difficult but it is EXTREMELY time consuming.
3) Do you have a lot of spare time? a LOT? Do you have another car you can use to fetch parts in? How nice is that car? Do you want to put dirty parts into that car to truck around?
4) Do you have connections to body shops? A nicely sized driveway? Lots of tools?
5) Are you poor? Are you ready to spend 50% more than you planned? You better be.
6) How much time do you have? Think about everything that needs to be fixed. Then think about how long it might take for you to fix each of those parts, labourwise. Add 2-3 hours for every part you need to replace (for part retrieval + internet research time). Now multiply that figure by 3 to 4 to include you screwing up, you encountering rust, you getting the wrong part, you getting stuck and of course, taking out the tools and setting everything up every time you want to do something major.
You have to consider all the variables. The key things you wanna look for is a healthy engine, a healthy transmission and good bodywork. By good I mean inspect every single square inch of the car, inspect the door jambs, inspect the hood, everything. Every little bubble of rust showing up (check the fenders esp) is something you should get worried about.
A clean interior is indicative often of an owner who babies his car so this is also something to look for.
If you ever decide to get paint, go to Auto Paint Circuit in Toronto. Do not settle for Canadian tire shit. Get them to scan your car and get their system to find a colour match. Do not go for anything that reads higher than 1.5 of a match. Get them to do a full system scan to find a better match if no BMW colour matches. Make sure that if you do decide to spray - that you have a compressor + gun. Why? Because any clear coat that isn't two parts is shit. You _can_ buy 2 part clear coat in a can but it isn't the best nor is it reusable or anything.
My main experience comes from my '97 E36 328i. Runs wonderfully mechanically but the body is having its share of rust. I've put well over a hundred hours into painting just 2 doors and a fender and I've learned a lot. Painting perfectly ain't easy but if you know where to start and you got the right supplies, you can cut that time down by 2/3rds, potentially.
On top of all that, let me tell you a little bit that I can see from El Gato's E30. I will suspect the worst, which may or may not be true. But as buyer, you must always be wary, regardless of the reputation people have. I will comment on what I know about.
- parking brake is either dislodged, or needs tightening. ( Why hasn't he tightened it? Why hasn't he fixed it up? Tightening can be an easy job. But he hasn't done it..... You cannot pass safety with this. With E36s, the backing plate dies. Some shops will tell you to replace the brake but to do that, you'll need to replace the wheel bearing - that alone is $500. Some shops cut the backing plate off and put on a new one. That's 200 dollars a side. You do not know if both sides are dead or not).
- Temp Guage isn't wired up ( Why not? Also, has he been in the dash? Make sure all the lights come on when you turn the key. Some people pull the dash warning lights and you don't see the check engine or airbag light, etc)
- Tachometer is not working, never did from when I owned the car. ( Why didn't you get it fixed? This is actually pretty useful and not having it would annoy me. )
- some 1/4 panel rust on 1 side. can be grinded down and painted over. ( Bodywork is not easy. Do not think it is easy. it is not a canadian tire job. Check other places for rust. You know it's on the car already. )
- the bonnet could be replaced, but more than good enough to be used! ( A hood repaint is 300~. They are rare to find in great condition. It's not cheap. 300 doesn't include bodywork, BTW. Any rust + dents qualify as body work).
- sunroof has no liner, and is rusting......typical. ( Water's coming through. Look out for rust. I ****ing HATE rust. ****s everything up )
- probably needs a new control arm ball joint, it isnt knocking, the boot is ripped. ( ....hmm. Google this. )
-rear sway bar links need to be installed. ( not too bad, it seems. Pelican puts it at a 3/10 for difficulty)
- BMW E34 M50 Technical Update (Vanos, WHICH WORKS!)
~~~Engine came out from an Automatic.
-5 Spd Manual transmission. (nice)
- BRAND NEW Bilstein Sport shocks all around! Also has brand new OEM shock mounts around the car. ( nice )
- 3.73 LSD (not installed, comes with) ( cool )
-custom welded exhaust pipe with magnaflow exhaust muffler. The sound is one of a kind. ( might not be your cup of tea )
-Small diameter Dyno steering wheel with momo (modified) hub. ( I dislike non-OEM steering wheels. )
- 4300K Propr'one HIDs. ( HIDs on E30s look a little weird. They are...old cars...)
- Ellipsoids (1 cracked, grrr) ( If I'm not mistaken, these guys aren't cheap to replace. At least 75ish from eurostyle? )
- has had a replaced steering rack, front subframe. new subframe stabilizer bar shackles and bushings. ( nice. I'm starting to wonder how often this car was tracked. tracking ages a car quickly)
- M50 swap done complete and properly using stock e30 parts, and other bmw parts. ( this is neat. v sexy)
-brand new rust free fenders installed, but over the 2.5 years they're still pretty sharp and have little kinks from rubbing issues. ( nice. make sure the fitment satisfies you! take the car on some turns and make sure the rubbing isn't too bad).
A nice car, but not cheap to get to 100%. It's not going to be cheap at all. I do not know if he's made the car sound worse than it is, but I think 6k is alot. It's 6k a large deal due to the fact that it has a swap. The swap cost the owner alot, so he's transferring the cost onto you. He's not doing anything wrong - but you have to realize you're paying for that, not for the condition of the car. The only reason you would buy this car is if you REALLY want an E30 and you REALLY want a better engine. For 6k, you can get a retardedly good condition E36 with an M52 engine from the start. Hell, you might even find an abused E36 M3. Take 3 months to yourself and look over a bunch of cars. Never jump on something that you're not sure of. You will always regret it.
Good luck. I hope you get a car better than mine.
Last edited by limenuke; 09-19-2011 at 02:01 AM.