Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

General conversations about BMW E28s and the people who own them.
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Panici
Posts: 140
Joined: Aug 07, 2014 2:04 AM
Location: Canada

Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by Panici »

Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT



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The Purchase Story:
I've wanted an E28 ever since my friends had a brown one back in highschool.
It was something about the diving board bumpers. They're one of the first things that attracted me to 80s era BMWs. They give the car a homely or frumpy appearance in comparison to the european counterparts. These days they look like nothing else on the road.

My first foray into classic BMWs was eight years ago. I bought an early-model 1987 325is E30 that was rough enough to not pass an initial safety inspection. I've slowly restored and modified the car over the years since and it's truly a passion project. Except for the paint, I've done all the work myself. Everything from welding sheetmetal to swapping the car from an automatic to manual transmission. It now has a newer engine, standalone engine management, and turbocharger system.
Many pictures are in my build thread (http://e30.panici.ca).

I've kept my eyes open for an E28 over the years and thought they were now out of my price-range. In my part of Canada they are becoming extremely rare due to age and rust.

On April 18th 2022 I got lucky and picked up a 1986 535i for below market value. It was still double what I paid for my E30 back in 2014, but it felt like "now or never"! :D

The car is production date 1986-05-14 and finished in (badly faded & damaged) Diamond Schwartz paint. Interior is black heated leather.

The car looks much better in pictures then it does in person.
Clearcoat is shot on the top of the car, and it has MANY dings and dents in addition to the rust I've seen so far. The floors are soft and I wouldn't be surprised to find significant rust under the carpets.
It does run and drive but needs work to be of even "daily driver" quality. I don't know how far I'll be going with the visual restoration, time will tell.

I love the sound and feel of the big six M30B34. It reminds me of the M20B25 that used to be in my E30, and it brings a lot of character to the car. The torque even at 2000rpm makes driving the 5-speed box a joy.

At some point a Euro front grille and headlights were installed. I think they look great with the diving boards!
The previous owner installed a set of 16" Style 5 wheels (on mismatched and aged rubber), and a set of H&R Springs with complimentary Bilstein B8 dampers.

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Modification & Restoration:
  • E39 Style 5 Wheels (16x8 ET23 - 74.1mm centerbore)
  • H&R Springs/Bilstein B8 Dampers
  • Door Buzzer Delete.
  • Radio Delete Panel. Window Switch Replaced.
  • Aux Fan "High" Setting For 198F/94C Radiator Switch.
  • Inner Door Seals Replaced (eBay)
  • Trunk Seal Replaced (eBay - poor quality)
  • Taillight Seals Replaced (eBay)
  • BMW 2002 Wooden Shift Knob
  • Interior Carpet Removed
  • Wheel Spacers (12mm F, 12mm LR, 15mm RR)
  • New OEM Hood Roundel.


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Here is the running To-Do list:
  • Speedometer inoperable.
  • Power steering leak
  • Exhaust leak at manifolds(?)
  • Exhaust leaks elsewhere in system.
  • Water leaks into interior & trunk
  • Fuel tank rusted/leaky
  • Fuel tank pump assembly rotted(?)
  • Driver's door lock inop with key.
  • Rear brakes inop.
  • Power windows slow to roll down

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I brimmed the fuel tank with Ethanol-free Shell 91 (and fuel stabilizer), only to promptly drain most of the added gas at home as it didn't want to stay in the tank. :laugh:

Despite having the car since April, I have only just started on the project. I had a big job getting my E30 back together after an engine-out paint experience.

Unfortunately it's being stored outside, I have been regularly changing out moisture absorbers in the car to take the damp from the interior, but they aren't keeping up. I've ordered some aftermarket door & trunk seals from eBay to see if I can improve the situation before the snow hits.

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Last edited by Panici on Oct 05, 2022 10:00 AM, edited 10 times in total.
Panici
Posts: 140
Joined: Aug 07, 2014 2:04 AM
Location: Canada

Re: Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by Panici »

Finally vacuumed out the interior last night. Think I got a pound of fur and hair out of the thing.
Would like to take the seats out to pull the interior carpet. Only way to get everything clean and keep tabs on the water ingress status.

Took all of the trunk carpet into the basement to dry off. Also have a dehumidifier running in the garage to pull the moisture out of the interior carpet.

I may have saved the Optima Redtop battery, brought it from 4v resting voltage to over 12v with a combination of a charger and booster pack. It starts the car now at least, but there has to be permanent damage from draining it so low.

Found some rust in the trunk. License plate lights are rotted and held in with hot glue. There are also some holes in the driver's side rear corner. Nothing I haven't fixed before.
There was also a bottlecap spare wheel, stock jack, and some misc mounting hardware.

Not sure what is going on with the roof/trunk paint. You can see in the pictures that I hit one spot (by hand) with some cutting compound and there was a big improvement. I can scrape off the (clearcoat/oxidation?) with a fingernail, so I am going to try a clay bar on it to see what happens.

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Last edited by Panici on Sep 21, 2022 8:15 AM, edited 1 time in total.
1st 5er
Posts: 21349
Joined: Jun 13, 2008 12:15 AM
Location: Cypress
Contact:

Re: Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by 1st 5er »

:up: :up: for taking on the saving of this one.

:popcorn:
Panici
Posts: 140
Joined: Aug 07, 2014 2:04 AM
Location: Canada

Re: Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by Panici »

1st 5er wrote: Sep 20, 2022 11:14 AM :up: :up: for taking on the saving of this one.
:popcorn:
Won't know how much I've bitten off until I have a good look underneath the car, and get the main carpet out.
Bought the thing without even getting it up in the air. :dunno:

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Started in on the door & trunk seals last night.
Bought some eBay specials from Turkey. The price was right at $160CAD / $120USD shipping for a set of five, however the quality is just not there.

Glued corners of the door seals are awful, and I don't expect them to last. One interesting thing to note is that the seals are long enough (at least on the back doors) for a full wrap around the door. This means you can remove the sill protectors and likely get better performance at the bottom of the door vs stock.
On a positive note, they are twice the height of the crushed OEM seals, so they should help with water ingress which was the reason for replacement.

I didn't realize the trunk seal is glued in place. I've got most of the original seal removed now, and haven't found any rust under there yet. I had to rebuild a section of trunk gutter on my E36 project as it had completely rotted away, and I was ready to do the same thing here.
Have some 3M Super Weatherstrip Adhesive on order, but I will still need to remove the rest of the OEM seal and clean up the dried adhesive. Any suggestions for solvents/process?


I bought a clay bar and some detailing spray. If you compare the picture below to the one in Post 2, you can see a difference along the "edge". It did remove some of the oxidization, and the spot certainly feels smoother to the touch.
My current plan is to hit the entire roof & trunk with clay to remove the heavy deposits. Then use the combination cutting/buffing compound on my rotary polisher to see if I can knock the rest of the oxidization down.
If that works, I'm pretty sure I have some 2k clearcoat in the basement which I'll spray on after degreasing and removing the polishing compound. This all may be a springtime job depending on the weather.

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stubble88
Posts: 76
Joined: Aug 08, 2022 8:40 AM
Location: Agua Dulce SoCal

Re: Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by stubble88 »

This is awesome. Thanks for posting this. I’m in a somewhat similar situation with my 87is. Also same color. I started pulling my windows out now the entire interior is out. Everything. I had some really bad rust on all four lower corners on the windshields.
I’ve repaired all but one. I’ve got more rust in the rocker/floor seams. It’s a bit daunting. And now my time has shifted to another 87is m50, which you know about.
Looking forward to updates.

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Panici
Posts: 140
Joined: Aug 07, 2014 2:04 AM
Location: Canada

Re: Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by Panici »

stubble88 wrote: Sep 22, 2022 12:34 AM This is awesome. Thanks for posting this. I’m in a somewhat similar situation with my 87is. ... It’s a bit daunting. ...
Looking forward to updates.
You're welcome! I love breathing life into an old car. Makes it even more fun when I can share my escapades with other enthusiasts.

It's absolutely a slippery slope. I had the carpets out of my E30 for literally 7 years until I had repaired all the rust and fixed all the leaks.
Turns out the eBay door seals I put in aren't too good either so now it doesn't get driven in the rain whenever possible (and washed carefully by hand). Need to shell out for new OEM seals, and probably change the door-side seals as well.

We will see how deep I go with the E28. I know it won't end up perfect like my E30 and I'm okay with that. Hoping for a driver-quality car when I'm done.

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Speaking of seals, I've been working away steadily at the E28 door and trunk seals in the little time I have after work each night. About half way through the job now.

Fixed the inop radiator fan last night too.
You have to love that full electrical diagrams are available in the ETK. Makes troubleshooting and modifying the electrical systems so easy.
Found that Fuse 17 for the electric aux fan was missing. Popped in a spare and the fan kicked on only when the switch for "high-speed" mode was jumped. I can hear the normal speed relay clicking, but the resistor must be burnt out.

So I swapped the wiring on the "normal" and "high" speed rad switches by crimping on a new (larger) spade terminal. Now the fan will kick on full blast at the lower temperature of 198F/94C (assuming the switch is still working).
I removed the mechanical fan shroud from the radiator (since the mechanical fan is already gone). If the aux fan isn't enough as-configured I can explore using a lower temp switch and swap in a Spal pusher electric fan.

I also threw on the old wooden shift knob that was in my E30 for years, to replace the disintegrating leather knob. Think this one is originally off a BMW 2002?

My dehumidifier has been running all week, and it's pulled all of the moisture out of the car. The familiar vintage BMW / horsehair seat smell has emerged!

Still going to pull the interior carpet for the winter though, as the car will be outside again when my E30 comes home from the bodyshop. (And I doubt the door seals alone will fix all of the water ingress problems)



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bronziti
Posts: 25
Joined: Feb 20, 2022 11:17 PM
Location: East Coast

Re: Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by bronziti »

sub'd..
you've taken and posted more detailed pics than I have for your project. the trunk lock mechanism shot helped confirm the proper install for me..

the left rear bumper support and wheel tub rust is same as what i had in my car.

looking forward to see some updates on this project.
Panici
Posts: 140
Joined: Aug 07, 2014 2:04 AM
Location: Canada

Re: Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by Panici »

bronziti wrote: Sep 24, 2022 4:32 AM you've taken and posted more detailed pics than I have for your project. the trunk lock mechanism shot helped confirm the proper install for me..
the left rear bumper support and wheel tub rust is same as what i had in my car.
looking forward to see some updates on this project.
Glad I could help. I find that with my other projects I frequently use the build thread pics for reference, so I tend to be thorough.

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Weekend updates:


Let's start with the bad first. Took the carpet out for the first time since 1986 (it wasn't yet cut).
Round one of poking and smashing to uncover the rust. To the uninitiated it looks quite bad, and admittedly the driver's side is a little worse that I was expecting.
Luckily I've dealt with rusty floors more then once and have all the metal/welding supplies on hand to fix it properly.

I know Valcas Garage makes replacement pans. Hopefully I can salvage these; We will see how far the rust has progressed under the sound deadening & undercoating.


In other news, I finished the install of the eBay inner door and trunk seals. Quality is poor, but I think the door seals are at least an improvement over the split originals. The trunk seal however doesn't fit in a few spots.
It will work for now but I'll be replacing it with something better. After removing the old glue I painted the trunk rain gutters. New seal is tacked in with some hot glue as it's temporary.

Replaced the taillight gaskets while I was in there. Both tails had some water inside so are likely cracked.

To finish things off for the weekend I hit the trunk with a clay bar and a combination cutting/polishing compound.
As you can see there is a visible improvement. I am going to try a more aggressive cutting compound to see if the paint can be saved.

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Panici
Posts: 140
Joined: Aug 07, 2014 2:04 AM
Location: Canada

Re: Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by Panici »

Finished stripping the interior in prep for outside winter storage. Now I can figure out where any water is coming from and fix it in the springtime.

The seats came up decent with some standard leather cleaner/conditioner. Absorbed three coats of spray instantly. Can't wait to get some real leather conditioner on them, I think they won't need a re-dye after all.

Found a few small rusty spots under the back seat bottom, but nothing major. Also got a better shot of the rust on the driver's side rear corner.

The differences in sound deadening between the E28 & E30 are interesting to me. There is definitely more behind the seatback and on the cargo shelf in the E28. Also they share the same rear speakers and 3rd brake light.

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Last edited by Panici on Oct 03, 2022 10:47 AM, edited 1 time in total.
jayjaya29
Posts: 163
Joined: Jul 30, 2014 12:53 AM
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by jayjaya29 »

Great restoration progress!
Panici
Posts: 140
Joined: Aug 07, 2014 2:04 AM
Location: Canada

Re: Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by Panici »

jayjaya29 wrote: Sep 30, 2022 12:17 PM Great restoration progress!
Thanks! Car is back outside now for storage, but I did a little this weekend.


Took all the wheels off, the rear brakes appear to be inop as they are covered in scaly rust while the fronts are shiny.
Found the driver's side rear bumper shock to be loose/rusted away from it's supports (frame channel?).
Couple small rust holes and some rusty brake hardlines.

I also discovered the previous owner used electrical tape to make up the difference between the E28 72.56mm centerbore and the wheel centerbore of 74.1mm. That must make these E39 model Style 5 wheels. A set of aluminum hub spacer rings took care of this easily.

While I had the wheels off, it was time to play with wheel spacers.
First tried a set of 20mm all around, found this gave too much poke.
Then swapped the rears for 15mm from my E36 (the E36 got a quick fender roll and the 20mm spacers installed).

Found that the driver's side rear wheel sticks out a little more then the passenger side, so swapped the DS rear to a 12mm spacer.
Rear arches may need a slight roll depending on the arc of suspension travel. Will test this before driving the car around.

Fronts didn't look great with 20mm, so they also got change to a set of 12mm spacers.

Final setup noted here for my own sanity:
Front-Left: 12mm spacer using extended lug bolts from 20mm spacer set. 72.56mm-74.1mm aluminum hubcentric ring.
Front-Right: 12mm spacer using extended lug bolts from 20mm spacer set. 72.56mm-74.1mm aluminum hubcentric ring.
Rear-Left: 12mm spacer using extended lug bolts from 15mm spacer set. 72.56mm-74.1mm aluminum hubcentric ring.
Rear-Right: 15mm spacer using extended lug bolts from 15mm spacer set. 72.56mm-74.1mm aluminum hubcentric ring.
Spare spacers: 2x20mm, 1x15mm, 1x12mm


It needs to be said: wheel spacers at this stage are a fool's errand. There are three different brands of tires on the car (all of which need to be replaced). But it made me happy to get the car sitting nicely for the winter so 🤷‍♂️.

Hood got a brand new OEM badge ($60 from the dealership 😩) which was slated for the rear of the E36. The E36 had it's awful rear eBay badge replaced with the original hood badge off the E28. 😆

Have a few more steps to winterize the car, but it's parked now for the season (and the battery is removed). Will focus on sourcing parts over the wintertime and start first-thing in the spring with the rust repair.


20mm spacers all around
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12mm Fronts, 12mm Left Rear, 15mm Right Rear
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Last edited by Panici on Oct 03, 2022 1:39 PM, edited 4 times in total.
bronziti
Posts: 25
Joined: Feb 20, 2022 11:17 PM
Location: East Coast

Re: Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by bronziti »

Yes typical rust areas for these cars it seems... i had to tackle the same issue as your rear driverside bumper mount... mine was not even there.. tried getting that part from the dealer but it could take a month to source since it had to be ordered from europe. got it from a scrapper that was able to cut out that rear spot for me... as for the front wheel arches i went with purchasing the parts from Valcas garage... looking good tho and looking forward to more updates!
Panici
Posts: 140
Joined: Aug 07, 2014 2:04 AM
Location: Canada

Re: Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by Panici »

bronziti wrote: Oct 03, 2022 1:24 PM Yes typical rust areas for these cars it seems... i had to tackle the same issue as your rear driverside bumper mount... mine was not even there.. tried getting that part from the dealer but it could take a month to source since it had to be ordered from europe. got it from a scrapper that was able to cut out that rear spot for me... as for the front wheel arches i went with purchasing the parts from Valcas garage... looking good tho and looking forward to more updates!
Glad that the rust areas are at least typical for the chassis (Misery loves company and all that).
I'll have to take the rear bumper & trim off to see what is left of the bumper mount(s). Hopefully I can fab up a replacement with the other side as a template.

I did see the sheetmetal and front wheel arches at Valcas garage. It looks like an expensive proposition with shipping.
Pretty sure I can fab everything up from sheet steel except for those front arches/fenders.

How is the fit and finish of the Valcas garage fenders on your car? Were they close to the OEM panels or did they need a lot of work?
bronziti
Posts: 25
Joined: Feb 20, 2022 11:17 PM
Location: East Coast

Re: Panici's '86 535i E28 - 5MT

Post by bronziti »

Have not installed it yet but upon mocking it up the fit and finish is not bad. have to say that i did get it too soon.. before i got the courage to even do any fabrication.. i'm no pro but feel i can do that area with no prob now using sheet metal... not too complicated of a form... just take your time.. side note on the rear bumper mounts.. i am going to do the euro bumpers and for me in hindsight could've left it out since the euro bumpers dont even mount to them.. but! i think it adds to structural rigidity of those corners incase i accidentally back up to anything
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