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83 528e J-spec

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Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

Hi folks, this is my 1983 Japanese spec 528e. Came across it 14 years and 3 weeks ago - back in April 2002 and became the second owner. At the time I was finishing a degree in Geography and looking to replace my '75 2002. And she was fresh off the boat and on my island with a very clean body, 63031 km's, absolutely stock, and looking oh so pretty in lapis blue. It was love at first sight and has been a superb vehicle across many adventures since that day. It has never left me on the side of the road, never failed to get me home. I have big respect for this car and generally believe the feeling is mutual.

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For those reading the fine print above, this old bird is turning 33 in less than a month. And since its restoration over the past 5 years is largely complete and its BMW's 100th anniversary this year, its getting a build thread before the next 33 years gets its grimy fingers all over it! :D Get off my lawn old man time :D !!

Almost every system has been touched, mostly in the past five years. The engine is a basic e2i, the diff is a 3.25lsd, the wheels are WEDS, still has its 3HP22, with a bunch of smaller options added like euro headlights, city lights, fog lamps, heated sport seats, cruise control, rear sunshade, premium speakers front and rear and an M tech steering wheel. It didn't come with any options other than the TRX wheels originally, so I'm happy to say it has no sunroof amongst other 'doesn't haves' like ABS and OBC.

The goal of this driver quality restoration was to accentuate the light and nimble handling of the Euro spec eta platform while minimizing NVH and maintaining/highlighting the car's unique J-spec character. Considering these design constraints she's an absolute delight and I'm super pleased with how its turning out. Still needs work, will always need work, but am optimistic 2016 will see a new exhaust installed and a custom M1.0 chip procured.

While I'm saying stuff, tip of the hat to folks like Rod Paine and to the MyE28 community for being invaluable resources over the years. 14 years ago it took an entire night to download a dozen mp3's. And good info on fixing E28's was hard to find. Not so much anymore, thanks internet and old man time.

Tips, pics and stories to follow; next up, the J-spec details, ETA suspension tuning, the engine build, paint, E34 sport seats and the WEDS in no particular order.
Last edited by Conanblau on Jul 21, 2020 2:55 PM, edited 2 times in total.
wkohler
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by wkohler »

Glad to see you sharing! It's always a treat to see this car at 5erWest!
Burnze
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Burnze »

Subscribed!
EventuallyAyrton
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Location: Wherever the E28 happens to be parked- Morrisville, NY

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by EventuallyAyrton »

Also subscribed. Those Weds are just orgasmical
muleskinner
Posts: 1174
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Location: ATL

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by muleskinner »

It's a beauty
Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

Thanks Chris, met some great folks at 5erWest last year, including yourself, and will aim for a repeat this year. Funny enough, the first fella I met last year was a fellow Canuck who turned out to be my neighbour. He lives about a mile away and mentioned he'll be going to 5erWest 2016. Good gathering, obviously :D

---
So as I was finishing the post above I realized I don't have much for pictures of this car (that and I should have pre-written something). Lots of pics of oddities like window motors, door lock mechanisms, and wiring details, not so many pics of the whole car. Will work on that!

Found a pic of the trunk that was used for the Collectors plate application last summer. Not sure how many Eta's got the big tool box/red handle screwdriver treatment, but there you go. Probably due to its early build date. That trunk gasket tho! :cool:

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Next post will go into the J-spec differences, like the dual filament front turn signals. When signalling, the respective front running light turns off (if they're on) and the signal circuit starts blinking. Nothing odd there, but when the 5w city lights are wired to the running lights the respective 5w light turns off when that side is signalling. Makes for a neat effect that I've seen used on some pretty fancy cars in the past few years.

Image
Last edited by Conanblau on Jul 21, 2020 3:12 PM, edited 1 time in total.
white chocolate
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by white chocolate »

What a cool thread, thanks for sharing!
cek
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by cek »

I'm subscribed for life!
byf_42
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by byf_42 »

Totemo omoshiroi ndayo!

Very Interesting!
LSXBeemer
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by LSXBeemer »

Banzai!

I like.
5280 JB
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by 5280 JB »

Beautiful car - I love the approach you have taken with it, to keep its somewhat stock J-Spec Eta fundamentals while adding touches of upgrades to make it your own.

Jim
Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

Thanks kindly fellas, the encouragement is appreciated.

So here's what I think I know of the Japanese spec'ed E28's. Of the 723 304 E28's produced, 11 302 were shipped to Japan between 11/81 and 10/87. (making roughly 1.5% of the E28's J-spec)

All were delivered left hand drive.
All were delivered as automatics. (except for 35 J-spec M5's)
All came fitted with euro bumpers.
All came with a thermistor in the catalytic. For reasons. This thermistor is coupled to an overheat light in the overhead check panel.
All have the dual filament front indicators. For reasons.
As far as I know all came with the 70L gas tank.
All have the US spec headlights.
Many/most/all(?) have the cloth interior. [EDIT: I've seen plenty of leather optioned E28's from Japan, so this was an incorrect guess]

*
* I'm missing things, of course, and will come back and edit them in.
* Got something to add? Please do!


By the numbers;

1826 | 518i's were produced from 11/81 to 07/86. — 4049 & 4099
5000 | 528e's were produced from 11/81 to 10/87 — 4089
1487 | 533i's were produced from 11/82 to 10/87 — 4289
1814 | 535i's were produced from 01/85 to 09/87 — DC29
1140 | M535i's were produced from 10/84 to 09/87 — DC89
35 | M5's were produced in March 87. — DC93
Total = 11 302
source: JohnH @ https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... li=1#gid=0


The J-spec overhead check panel. Pretty simple, no seatbelt or O2 sensor lights. Its entirely possible this layout changed over the years so this is from an '83. Once in a blue moon the overheat light comes on for a bit. And then it goes out for a long while. So I've got that going for me.

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The original catalytic with the original and highly prized thermistor.

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There's a few decals written in Japanese on the car, like on the fuel door, and will try to edit all the J-spec observations and pics into this post over the coming month. Up next - perhaps the engine. The e2i M1.0 is an odd combination. Works great, largely not recommendable, and suits this car just fine.
Last edited by Conanblau on Jul 21, 2020 3:45 PM, edited 1 time in total.
Justin_FL
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Justin_FL »

For the HVAC, is the fan speed variable like the E24 or is it just the 3 speed switch? All the Japanese spec E28s I've seen in pictures had the variable fan control but they were later production cars, '86 and newer.
Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

Hi Justin, this '83 has the standard HVAC as every other E28 I've seen. Cool to know that the later production cars had a change up, will keep my eyes open for a picture or two and share it here.

Thanks for the tip!

Edit for late model E28 J-spec pictures,
The variable speed fan uses a different, solid graphic towards the bottom right. Subtle change.

Image

The overhead check panel from an '87 also has a minor change to the 'Brake Lights' section, they added a warning symbol. They also changed the TEST button (bottom right) to CHECK. I'd suspect this was an E28 wide change at some point.

This photo was accidentally deleted as I migrated to a new photo hosting regime.
Image
Last edited by Conanblau on Jul 21, 2020 3:55 PM, edited 3 times in total.
maybeillbuyit
Posts: 499
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Location: Vancouver BC

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by maybeillbuyit »

Very cool car, I hope to see this in person some day.
Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

Thanks 'buyit, is it you that has that nice Pusstagrun 518i in Vancouver? Great colour. I'd sure like to see that car in person some day.

Pictures from last fall, recovered sport seats;
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Stock rear seat
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Engine bay is pretty clean and mostly stock looking with the M1.0.
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The front end from fall 2015. One of the spring 2016 projects was to square up this hot mess and its looking a lot better. If you look close, someone took time to back into the car last fall. They slowly put a trailer ball and one of those mini-receiver hitches through the front plate, stopping after finding sheet metal behind the plate. So that happened. Since then I've repaired the plate holder and found a new front plate. Hoping this doesn't happen again for a while :D :| Shit happens. Hence the build thread.
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More pictures to come. The front certainly looks a lot better currently.
Last edited by Conanblau on Jul 21, 2020 3:59 PM, edited 1 time in total.
nick520
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Joined: May 01, 2016 11:17 PM
Location: Los Angeles

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by nick520 »

What are the specs on your wheels and tires? Love the look
Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

Thanks Nick, the wheels are 16 x 7 et11, rubber is 205/55R16.
EventuallyAyrton
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by EventuallyAyrton »

Lapisblau wrote:Thanks Nick, the wheels are 16 x 7 et11, rubber is 205/55R16.
Any more info on the wheels? You said they were WEDS wheels but anything more specific like model/style or w.e.? I've fallen so deeply in love with them
Conanblau
Posts: 219
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

EventuallyAyrton wrote:
Lapisblau wrote:Thanks Nick, the wheels are 16 x 7 et11, rubber is 205/55R16.
Any more info on the wheels? You said they were WEDS wheels but anything more specific like model/style or w.e.? I've fallen so deeply in love with them
These good sir, are WEDS Bavaria's. :cool:
EventuallyAyrton
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by EventuallyAyrton »

Lapisblau wrote:
EventuallyAyrton wrote:
Lapisblau wrote:Thanks Nick, the wheels are 16 x 7 et11, rubber is 205/55R16.
Any more info on the wheels? You said they were WEDS wheels but anything more specific like model/style or w.e.? I've fallen so deeply in love with them
These good sir, are WEDS Bavaria's. :cool:
Thank you thank you thank you. I'm on the hunt now. I doubt I'll be able to afford a set but a guy can dream right?
KrautnotRice
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by KrautnotRice »

Lapisblau wrote: Image
Wow just gorgeous!
pldlnr
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by pldlnr »

What a great car. I got to check it out at 5erWest, as well. I really enjoy this one.
Conanblau
Posts: 219
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

Been meaning to get back to this thread, and to be honest its hard to know where to start. The history and progression of the car is important, but its the recent jobs completed that are the most satisfying. Like replacing the leaky oil pressure switch, and getting the a/c operational for the first time in 14 years. So forgive me as I randomly bash away at topics that seem relevant, new and old.

Like the oil pressure switch. When I was rebuilding the engine (about 3 years ago) I made a choice about what parts to reuse and the oil pressure switch was one of them. It was working fine and -well- why shouldn't it go back into the car. Put a new washer on it and should be good to go. Which is nice thinking, because of course they leak from the body of the switch, which I had no idea about, and have spent the last few years thinking the oil pan gasket was not sealed within an inch of its life and was weeping. So over the past few years I've tightened the oil pan bolts several times and -no joy- it still leaked a wee bit of oil -somewhere- below the exhaust manifolds and around the pan. Aggravating. Until a few months back I pulled the single wire lead off the switch and found its plastic sheathing full of oil. Huh. Dig around some on the E30 sites and you find out that ya, these oil pressure switches are known to leak at the body. So a new oil pressure switch went in and that felt like a win, M20 lesson learned.

On the other end of the spectrum is this picture of the car when I first got it. This is April 15, 2002. Absolutely stock. TRX wheels. US spec headlights. Euro spec bumpers. Every part was BMW. I knew when I bought it that it had been sitting for roughly ten years. It wasn't particularly fast, had some electrical oddities, but was rust free and accident free. For a fella who only had rusted cars and trucks prior to this, I was surprised by my good luck.


Image (Pixel attempt via a Motorola fliphone)


And here's two pictures from August '16 in Yellowstone National Park. For this cars 34th year (and BMW's 100th) it wanted to go for a rip, so it got a 5600km (3500mi) tour of the west coast over 18 days.
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Of course, a few things needed to be brought up to spec for a driving holiday, like the a/c, rear suspension, an overdrive gear and a bunch of other things that drive car nuts nuts, like slight oil leaks. And I'll get to those stories as their most recent and some are still on the to-do list.

I'd like to get back to the Japanese aspect of this car for a minute. Japanese cars imported to North America get shit on a fair bit and coming from my very limited experience of this one car, I've never understood it well. The story seems to go either they're not maintained well or someone's rolled back the odometer, or some such thing. In my experience, they're maintained well for 7 or 10 years and then largely left to dry rot as insurance and expensive secondary checks dramatically diminish the value of the car. That and I think the Japanese don't see much value in old cars, or old anything, but I'm not a sociologist, just a guy who reads the internets and likes cars.

So here's the history of this car as I know it. The first 13 entries from 84-99 are drawn from 13 BMW service records that came with the car.
1984. 0 kms
1985. 8066 kms
1987. 18 047 kms
1988. 23 959 "
1989. 27 931
1990. 29 604
1991. 34 122
1991. 41 517
1992. 43 645
1993. 54 402
1995. 61 015
1997. 62 020
1999. 62 285

2002. 63 031 purchased April 15th, 2002. (39 000mi)
2003. 76 093
2006. 102 000
2007. 111 034 hit while parked in front of house
2012. 132 192
2013. 137 553 engine rebuild, paint
2015. 145 000 leaving 5’er West in Portland
2016. 155 600 September 2016

If there was one thing I could point to that said this car came from Japan its probably the decal on the fuel door. Thats it. For the E28 geeks the dual filament front indicators or the overhead "Overheat" warning light would also serve this purpose. But if you needed it easy and in writing, this is it. I have no idea what it says, I'm guessing "unleaded."
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It's a car that was shipped to Japan, had a good life there, and now lives in Canada. It's not an M5, or an M30 heavy hitter or some sort of Alpina wunderkind. It's just a car thats done pretty well so far despite my ill-conceived efforts to better it.

Like 17" wheels. Gotta have 17's!! Once I get 17's on there, its going to be so awesome. And thats how I felt, and thats what I did in 2004. The TRX rubber was shot. It was shot when I bought the car and two years later it was even more shot. 17's MOFO! So ya... you think you're doing right by the car, but it was likely the single worst thing i did to it. You see the 17" Style 65 replica wheels were heavy. 46.1lbs per corner, as weighed in 2015. The replacement wheels (the WEDS) weighed 36.3lbs. Throw in some lightweight lug bolts and lets call that 10lb/corner difference. Huge change in the handling of the car, all for the better, and it only took 11 years to figure that out. So yeah... thats how this thread goes.
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Up next from 2016, the mistakes made and lessons learned regarding a/c re-install, a 5 speed swap, and the switch to a dual exhaust setup.
Last edited by Conanblau on Jul 21, 2020 4:28 PM, edited 1 time in total.
Conanblau
Posts: 219
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Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

Eta Exhaust.

The first hunk of non-BMW metal that went in to this car was in 2003. The original BMW cat-back was ~20 years old and leaking. Nothing horrible, but you know, you want to do something good for your car every now and then, and it needed a new muffler. So it got a Bosal, just like the one pictured below. I'm not proud of it, but at the time it came down to a Bosal (give or take) and a factory replacement for triple the price. It got the Bosal. I distinctly remember the mechanic enthusiastically chucking the grass fire heat shields onto the shop floor one by one, declaring them garbage and revelling in my inability enjoy his ruthlessness. He loved it. Then the Bosal went in, but they don't fit trouble free out of the box. So he got in there with a three foot prybar and a hammer and started making room. Anything can be made to fit with a big enough hammer and time. Ten minutes later I'm driving away in a slightly quieter car, listening to the catalytic leaking and well... none of it felt particularly good. :laugh:

Seven years later in 2010 another Bosal went in to the car. Unsurprisingly it fit with no need for the hammer and prybar. This time I installed it myself and it took perhaps 30 minutes. The catalytic was still making the same wheezy sounds as before, somewhere underneath its heat shielding it had troubles.

In 2013 when the drivetrain was out I started looking harder for a high quality exhaust for the E28 eta. More or less they don't exist. Of course, you can do anything with the right tools, but an off the shelf ultimate fix for the E28 eta exhaust just isn't there and for numerous good reasons. So the rebuilt drivetrain went back in, and with no easy exhaust answers the marginal Bosal went back on right behind the stock, wheezy catalytic.

By 2015, the second Bosal was leaking worse than the catalytic so something had to be done. But what? A new catalytic from BMW is $4000 give or take, so thats not happening. And the only headers option for the E28 eta is limited to the ebay/OBX which - no (primary dia and length not suitable to non-race application). And all the aftermarket dual exhaust E28 stuff is for the M30 (makes sense) and is going to be too much exhaust for the M20 - so no. But the last year of the E28 eta was the Super Eta, and it received a nice dual exhaust from the factory, just like the M30's stock cat-back.

So by 2016, I found a NOS Boysen twin-pipe cat-back for the euro spec 520i/525e (stamped as such on the body). Same dimensions as the super eta setup and same exhaust hanger setup as the NA spec eta which is great, I just needed a way to plumb it in. And after months of going back and forth on a catalytic solution, I had it cut out and ran straight pipe in its place. If it was a stock eta engine I might have kept it, but its not a stock engine and the cat was 30+ years old and with enough WOT the cat 'cooled down' like a smouldering dumpster fire. Not the tick, tick, ticking of cooling metal, but the crackling of a dumpster fire catching its stride. The catalytic was done for this application. And my concerns the car would be too loud were unfounded, it sounds perfectly quiet, until you're hard into it over 3000rpm.

Regarding pipe diameter, the 45mm and 42mm this cat-back came with feels fine for the e2i demands placed on it. The 42mm pipe is necked down from 45mm for a few inches near the flange to the cat so if that 3mm of flow meant something it would be easy to flare it open imo. For reference, relavent dual exhaust pipe diameters:
528e & 525e = 42mm & 45mm
535 = 44mm & 45mm
325i = 42mm & 45mm
528i = 47mm & 49mm
M5 = 47mm & 50mm
aftermarket M30 = 50mm & 50mm (supersprint)
ImageImage

The two 45mm exhaust gaskets (that I destroyed, shame on me) from BMW are on the left, one made from a non-asbestos material, the other had a metal ring around the outside and a softer material in the middle. They were on the car for two weeks. The larger shiny ones are the 45mm replacements from the local parts store. These are as porous as they look, noticeably louder than the others.You could probably smoke a cigarette through them if you tried hard enough. Next time they're out, I'll seal them up with JB Weld or something like that and give that a try. Interesting to see the different materials used here at least.
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Lastly was the exhaust tips. BMW doesn't make them anymore but Ansa does, and they come in 46mm inside diameter that should have fit. They didn't. Ultimately I destroyed one trying to slip fit it, ordered another and had an exhaust shop cut the original tips back to a 2" stub, flare the Silverlines and weld in place. They turned out great. And the 46mm's were definitely not slip fit.

And thats how the exhaust went. The hammering and pry bar tricks in 2003 are mostly corrected but the new cat-back still fits a little tight to the body and gas tank, not that anyone is going to notice. Will work on that over the winter. Maybe.
ImageNext up is getting the a/c back in action (the last step was the expansion valve)
[url=https://flic.kr/p/MrggeJ]Image
Last edited by Conanblau on Oct 21, 2016 12:32 AM, edited 1 time in total.
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