'84 520i resurrection

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Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

'84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

A little background on my "addiction" with older BMW, bought an '86 E30 318i in 2007 as my first car, in 2011 i got an '91 E34 520i from my father wich started a love for the E34 chassis so in 2013 I bought an '88 E34 535i, the same year I meet a good friend which was really into E30 (to the point of owning more than 15 car at the same time) and started doing some serious work on the platform (we've done complete restoration, built multiple stroker motor, built more than one car from box of assorted parts), in 2017 I got a '77 E12 518 which was originally intended to be a donor car for another project but was too good to be scraped (not a single speck of rust), last year (2020) I ended up with another E12, a '79 528i wich needs a full restoration (more rust than metal, engine needs a full rebuilt, etc).

So it's February 2021, I daily the 318i, have a nice (recently repainted) 535i in my garage, doing some work on the 518, and trying to decide what to do with the 528i, but I'm still findind myself scoring the market for an E28, nothing available on my budget that wasn't a 518i.
Except one day when a very low priced 520i came up for sale not too far from my city, with the only information that is needed a "full restoration" and some photos showing a moldy car with faded paint and some fender damage. I'm intrigued, sure I can make it driveable with some work.

A little trip to see the car and it's worse than what I can make from the photos, came out to be an '84 E28 520i, Cosmos Blau, with power steering, ac, front power windows, central locking, rear disc brakes, has 106k km on the odometer, it was parked (on the outside) in 1995 and never moved or started since then. In the year rain has found it's way on the inside from an antenna hole in the roof so the interior is covered in mold, it's wet and rusted. Hood and roof is faded, there's some impact damage on the right fender, bubbling paint and small damage on left fender, hood air intake completly rusted away, hood hinges pretty much welded in position, left door has some rust on the bottom, other than that a pretty solid body with no rust at all except the hood and the door, and the paint on the side seems pretty decent.
Tires are rotted away, brakes are sized, engine doesn't look good.
On the accesory side the only working things was the radio and the power antenna, it had no lights, none of the switches or button was working, no power windows, hecks even the manual rear windows where stuck.

Image20210213_131016 by ipv7net, on Flickr

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So I've done what every sensible people would have done, bought it !
Oh boy I was so happy to finally have my own E28.

Image2021-02-11_01-44-50 by ipv7net, on Flickr
Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

It's February and we (me and my friend) start working on the car, in the spare times beetwen real work and some other car (we swapped an M20B28 stroker in an E34 while assessing the status of the E28) We are new to this platform but with E30 E12 and E34 experience we did find ourself pretty comfortable working on it.
Upon discovering that the engine had no compression and the water passage was full of crud left from the 26 year old antifreeze we started looking to replace the engine, I had three M20B20 available to use but I never liked the power band and torque of the B20, had already planned to build a stroker 2.8 engine for it in the future but right now I had to spend the money on getting the car safe to be on the road. But we had an ETA engine from a 325e sitting in an corner, what if we swap a 731 B20 head on it, B25 cams, B25 intake and throttle body which we had plenty ? Cant' be worse than an M20B20.
Swapping the engine we check the gearbox for leaks, we found a sized input shaft bearing and a gearbox full of water, so with the "new" engine we also swap in a different gearbox (one with a bad 5th gear, the only one available on the spot, who needs five gear after all ?).
Not having a motronic loom available for the E28 (and not wanting to modify an E30 one) the decision was to leave the original L-Jetronic injection and mechanical distributor to run the engine, and replace it later, not optimal but it can be made to work.

So new engine in (so new that we didn't even bother touching the bottom end), new gearbox (the one with the questionable fifth gear), a good used clutch and pressure plate.
New engine and transmission mount, new guibo and driveshaft support bearing.
We changed every singles parts of the brakes system, also new clutch master and slave.
New radiator, fan clutch, thermostat, hoses, temperature sensor, water pump.
Refurbished the head light, changed one broken tail ligths, new bulb everywhere, cleaned every plug.
Pretty much swapped every switch on the interior, lubed the fan, the windows guide and motor.
Refurbished the cluster (new gear, recapped the tach and speedo, remove the SI board and rewired the cluster to work without it).
Swapped the fuel tank with a better one we had in storage for one of our E12, new fuel pump and filter, new fuel hoses all around.
New exahust from the downpipe to the muffler (from Simons, cheap and effective).

Some crude bodywork to straighten the front bumper and the crumpled fender to an acceptable level.
New tires on some alpina style 14" inch wheels we had in storage.

Image20210310_110156 by ipv7net, on Flickr

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Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

Fast forward to May 2021 and we took our first test drive, got the car insured, inspected, and legally road worthy. Not exactly a new car but not that bad after being parked in the open for 26 years, and being done on a budget on spare time.
Now I'm at it slightly chipping away at the tons of other works needed to get it really driveable.

On the mechanical side of it I need to redo the whole suspension as the shocks are gone, the steering arm has every ball joint boot split open and questionable bushing, I also need to change the gearbox with one in better condition (already aquired).
The interior needs to get redone, I have a set of worn out E30 sport seats that will do for now.
I will try to polish the paint where possible and also get an Mtech boot spoiler and a Pfeba front spoiler, and maybe some other wheels (can't go over 14" in Italy as they're the only size approved for the car).
It will also be lowered (without going too extreme), changed over from Jetronic to Motronic and sure enough there's an M20B28 in the works.
I'm not aiming to a full original restoration but in the future I plan on swapping the hood and the rusted door, put new fenders on, fix most of trim and bumper and get a full respray.

Image20210524_182530 by ipv7net, on Flickr

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Das_Prachtstrasse
Posts: 5586
Joined: Sep 10, 2006 7:06 AM
Location: Melbourne, Doooown Under

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Das_Prachtstrasse »

Great resurrection :up:
muleskinner
Posts: 1296
Joined: Sep 08, 2007 11:17 AM
Location: John Graham ATL

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by muleskinner »

Funny...as I scrolled this, I thought "Gonzo resurrection". Lo and behold, @Das_Prachtstrasse, Mr. Gonzo himself, had already chimed in.

What kind of muffler is that?
Foonfer
Posts: 591
Joined: Mar 18, 2015 11:33 PM
Location: New York, NY

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Foonfer »

This is looking very good. This website tends to be very US-centric, so I'd like to ask you - how is the situation with parts availability and the "old BMW enthusiast community" in Italy?

Also, why is 14" the only approved wheel size for these in Italy, if the E28 was available stock with 14", 390 metric, and 16" wheels (according to the model)? That sounds like a bummer. Does NO ONE in Italy modify their cars even slightly?
Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

muleskinner wrote: Jun 04, 2021 10:12 AM What kind of muffler is that?
The muffler and the resonator came from a Simons kit for the E28, pretty much every piece after the downpipe, it's aluminized steel so nothing special but was cheap and the car was missing the original muffler. It's a dual exhaust all the way, with 50mm pipe and 70mm tips
https://simons.se/products/sportsystem/ ... es/e28/133
With the 2.7 engine the car sounds pretty mean, i like it, but the muffler hang a bit too low for my taste, I will need to do something about it.
Foonfer wrote: Jun 04, 2021 11:05 AM This is looking very good. This website tends to be very US-centric, so I'd like to ask you - how is the situation with parts availability and the "old BMW enthusiast community" in Italy?
The community is very small compared to the US, and fragmented beetwen the various region of Italy. Some of the smaller club closed down in the past years, there'are very few national gatherings with a small number of people. We do maintain a local (based around Rome) community with 40/50 E30 owner and we try to meet at least every 2 or 3 months but it's not an easy task.
Parts availability is another problem, in the 80 and 90 the italian goverment applied an extremely heavy taxation on car over 2000cc, so you won't see that much 535 or 528 or 325 or pretty much anything other than 318/320 518/520, we had the option of buying parts or car from Germany, but in the last year the price has increased. Still we can buy new parts from BMW and there's an active market for third party replacement for the most common wear items (specialy for the most common vehicle) so it's not that bad.
Foonfer wrote: Jun 04, 2021 11:05 AM Also, why is 14" the only approved wheel size for these in Italy, if the E28 was available stock with 14", 390 metric, and 16" wheels (according to the model)? That sounds like a bummer. Does NO ONE in Italy modify their cars even slightly?
Italy has a very stringent law on vehicle omologation, and don't allow pretty much any modification, we are also limited on the type of work that we can do as diy on our own vehicle. The E28 (excluded the M5) was omologated with 14" 195/70 wheels and tires or the infamous metric TRX, there's pretty much no way to go with different wheels except import the car from another european country. The community tried to plead to BMW to get a different omologation for the older platform (E9, E12, E28, E24, E23 etc) without any success.
We do some modification, people will also do engine swap, but isn't legal and can be a problem for an insurance claim or if the police gets involved. Practically speaking I have no trouble running a 2.7 or a 2.8 M20 in a 520i, but having a 16" wheels is something too noticeable from the outside.
Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

Having finally moved the car to my garage I started doing some work on the interior.

I started removing the seats, the carpet and the insulation, the car interior was flooded multiple times to I wanted to check the floor pan for rust or any other nasty surprise, plus the carpet was moldy and the insulation was very wet.
Lucky me, there's only minimal surface rust and only on the passenger side, so i removed most of the sound deadening from that side, removed what little rust there was, treated the floor with rust converter and painted with a protective paint, and then applied new sound deadening over the newly painted floor.

The carpet wasn't looking good, even after a good cleaning it was too faded, so I stained it black and it's now acceptable, with the seats and the floor mats you won't even see most of it so definitely a good result.
Made the bracket to mount my spare E30 sport seats but still missing some hardware so they have to wait.
Also got a spare (hopefully good) transmission, and an E30 motronic engine loom for the conversion from L-Jetronic.

I hope in the next few days to have most of the interior back.

Image20210604_173144 by ipv7net, on Flickr

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cek
Posts: 9074
Joined: Mar 18, 2013 6:25 PM
Location: əʞɐl ʇlɐs puɐ əlʇʇɐəs
Contact:

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by cek »

Fantastic save!

Keep keeping us posted as you progress.

Where in Italy are you?
leadphut
Posts: 4497
Joined: Feb 12, 2006 12:00 PM
Location: Portland, OR

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by leadphut »

:rockon: :popcorn:
Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

Another week of work on the 520i.
Got the bolt needed to mount the seats, my homemade adapter came out great, the seats isn't in the best shape and I've lost the matching headrest, at least they don't have any mold and will do for now (there's a set of Recaros waiting for it).

Put the interior back together, most of it as the govebox need some tlc before going back in.
Swapped the steering box that was leaking like a sieve, got an E34 box with minimal wear for a great price (it's better than the one in my E34 535i), not a fun job to do with everything soaked in atf.
Fixed the original Jetronic DME that has developed a leaky capacitor plus some craked soldering on the connector.

Until now I drove the car only one time, so I decided to take a break and go for a little drive around the block.
I need to fine tune the L-Jetronic (or simply switch everything to Motronic) but the engine is soo much better than an M20B20, plenty of torque, less power than a classic 2.7 stroker but it was expected.
The exhaust sound really mean, not too loud but very aggressive.
The suspension are shot, I was thinking coilover but can't spend the extra money right now, fortunately I've found a new pair of Boge shocks in my stash (don't even remember when or why I got them) so next week will be suspension.

The result of this little drive: I love the car, no regret buying this hunk of metal, also given the condition I have no remorse in customizing to suite my taste.

Image20210617_172716 by ipv7net, on Flickr

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Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

The last week was a busy one at work so no much time to spend on the car.
I've done some minor things, removed the rear seats and parcel shelf to see exactly how much damage was done by the previous owner to install a pair of 6x9 speaker, I've seen worse but the shelf need to be redone.
Swapped the broken foglight for a good used one, painted the sill, replaced the windshield trim with a new one (black as I don't like how the chrome trim tend to fade in just a couple of years), tidy up some minor things, started to polish the chrome bumper and trim.
Gave it a bath and now look more and more like a decent car, if one doesn't mind the faded hood and roof.
Also ordered every single arm and bushing for the front end, so hopefully next week I will be able to do more substantial work.

Image20210622_172033 by ipv7net, on Flickr

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Also a bonus pictures, parked next to the shiny E34 in my garage.

ImageDSC02705 by ipv7net, on Flickr
Das_Prachtstrasse
Posts: 5586
Joined: Sep 10, 2006 7:06 AM
Location: Melbourne, Doooown Under

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Das_Prachtstrasse »

What were those speaker holes cut with, a plasma torch?? Wowzers.

Car is looking great.
Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

Das_Prachtstrasse wrote: Jun 29, 2021 11:34 PM What were those speaker holes cut with, a plasma torch?? Wowzers.

Car is looking great.
Maybe "cut" is not the right term, "chewed" seems more appropiate, at least the holes are somehow close to the dimension of the speakers.

I've had to redo the parcel shelf cover as the original one lost all of it's strenght beetween the massive speaker hole and all the umidity it has absorbed over the year, plus it was covered in a nasty fabric (not original) that started turning into dust. The new one is made with 6mm mdf and grey speaker carpet, I think it came out quite good. I've also installed a decent pair of 6x9 speaker and put the rear seat back on.

Image20210704_170804 by ipv7net, on Flickr

Image20210704_182503 by ipv7net, on Flickr

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Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

After some weeks of hard work and a friends wedding it's finally time to work on the E28 suspension.

Nose up, front suspension and steering linkage out

Image20210718_131634 by ipv7net, on Flickr
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Ball joint boots where trashed, and the joint was worn out, the upper arm bushing has started to split, I'm surprised that the car had no shake at speed.
Also shocks where completely blown. 106k km on the car and I don't think they where ever replaced before (plus 20 year of sitting in the open).

In my E30 and E34 every suspension component is either Lemforder or BMW, except for the little upgrade like Moosehead UCA bearing or Bilstein and Koni shocks, in this case for the E28 I had to make it on a budget, I wanted to get the car in decent driving condition to get a feel for it and do any upgrade in the future.
So I went with Moog for all the steering linkage an suspension arm and Monroe for the shocks absorbers, it was the cheapest option for decent brand plus I already had the front shocks in my stockpile.

Image20210711_204037(0) by ipv7net, on Flickr

Front and rear suspension assembled with new shocks, bump stop and dust boots

Image20210722_224931 by ipv7net, on Flickr
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Didn't spent much time cleaning all the parts as I normaly do, I wanted to the car back on the road asap plus all this will be redone with proper shocks and springs in the near future. Talking about springs I didn't resist the temptation to slightly lower the car so I chopped off one coil plus bent another half coil to get the springs to seats neatly in the perches, didn't make much difference than before with the car sitting on blown shocks.

So back on the ground, it need an alignment (will be done tomorrow) but drives much better than before (not a surprise).

Image20210725_164659 by ipv7net, on Flickr

I'm also thinking of swapping out the wheels, the actual rims are 6Jx14 ET22 which doesn't look exactly "flush" with the fender, I have a set of bottlecaps which are 7Jx14 ET10 so they will be quite an improvement, plus I like the solid looks of them. I need to check the tires clearance on the back fender wells but with the skinny 195/70 tires they will probably clear.

Image20210725_180802 by ipv7net, on Flickr
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I like how they looks, will think about it in the next few days.
Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

Today I was doing some cleaning in the garage, not the most exciting thing to do, and decided it was time to open up the original ZF gearbox of my E28, the one that was full of water.

Here sitting next to it's replacement (which hopefully work better than the getrag 240 we put in the car)

Image20210726_173852 by ipv7net, on Flickr

opened up, doesn't look good

Image20210726_175249 by ipv7net, on Flickr

Sure it's better to have oil inside the gearbox than water

Image20210726_175351 by ipv7net, on Flickr

interestingly the only sized bearing was the input and the output shaft ball bearing, I was expecting worse. I will save some parts for future use and throw away the rest of this gearbox.
Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

Still working on the 520i, I've had a roll of black vinyl pinstripe very similar to the factory one that I wanted to try, yesterday was the right time to do it:

Image20210813_161412 by ipv7net, on Flickr
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Doesn't look bad, I think it made a subtle difference in the look of the car.
Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

Well, after a very busy year (for all the wrong reason, I may add) finally found some time to a little update.
The car has proven to be quite reliable on the 4.000km I've put on it in the last year, still there's a ton of work to make it look good and fix some minor issue (like the AC not working).

Some of the thing done to it in the last months:
I've decided to change the wheels from the alpine style to the ATS pepperpot I had on my 528i E12, I like the design much better.
Here it is with it's older sister, my 518i E12 going to a meeting with a friend (we had it's E30 in pieces, and so I let him drive the E12)

Image20211107_145231 by ipv7net, on Flickr

Got this nice (to me at least) three spoke wood momo steering wheel to replace the vinyl one I had
Image20211027_122716 by ipv7net, on Flickr

looks good in it, it also match the wood gear knob from e28goodies

Image20220326_173449 by ipv7net, on Flickr

Also got a gift from a friend, a genuine Mtech boot spoiler, it needs some love but the color was similar enough to the car and so I didn't resist the temptation and put it on immediately

Image20211029_175921 by ipv7net, on Flickr
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Another improvement was to change the differential from it's original 3.91 to a 3.64, which is better suited to the more torquier motor that's in the car in place of the original m20b20

out with the old
Image20220320_150158 by ipv7net, on Flickr

had to swap the rear cover from my old 3.91 to the new 3.64 so why not clean things up a little

into the ultrasonic cleaner
Image20220320_170220 by ipv7net, on Flickr

Came up like new, inside and outside
Image20220320_172429 by ipv7net, on Flickr
Image20220320_172429 by ipv7net, on Flickr

and now back into the car
Image20220326_155916 by ipv7net, on Flickr

With the 3.64 I can cruise at highway speed without having the motor screaming in my ears, the standing acceleration is still quite good, plus it was free (a good friend swapped it to me for my 3.91).
Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

Some other works done to the car included removing the steering column, the aluminum cover was oxidized and the paint was flaking off, not so pretty so see every time one drove the car, it was high time to do something about it:

Image20220430_153456 by ipv7net, on Flickr
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not perfect but a sure improvement

Another thing that was getting on my nerve was the door panel upholstery falling off, so I decided to get creative ..

not the worst of the door panel ..
Image20220417_112338 by ipv7net, on Flickr

separated from the frame
Image20220417_112525 by ipv7net, on Flickr

removed the old fabric
Image20220417_112852 by ipv7net, on Flickr

bought from perforated vinyl, was expecting to get a darker color, will do for now
Image20220417_114459 by ipv7net, on Flickr

new fabric on
Image20220417_122206 by ipv7net, on Flickr

also a great opportunity to put a new vapor barrier plastic onto the door
Image2022-04-19_11-15-46 by ipv7net, on Flickr

the end results
Image20220418_105410 by ipv7net, on Flickr
Image20220418_191733 by ipv7net, on Flickr

The last little things that was bugging me, the revcounter was off by a mile, so I made a little quick and dirty calibration in the car, with the instrument in my lap, and a digital revcounter as reference, so this is also off the list of things to do.
Image20220519_163353 by ipv7net, on Flickr
Giuliano
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 01, 2021 5:50 PM
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: '84 520i resurrection

Post by Giuliano »

And to prove that this E28 is getting used, not only tinkered about in a dark garage, some shots of it in the wild ..

Image20220521_154528 by ipv7net, on Flickr

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