"An Emerald in the Rough" - 12/1986 Dinan M5 - 2020 update

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austin8753
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"An Emerald in the Rough" - 12/1986 Dinan M5 - 2020 update

Post by austin8753 »

I thought I had completely missed the boat on owning one of these things in my lifetime. Luckily, the planets all aligned, or whatever, on May 19th, and I was able to bring home a car that I had only ever dreamed of owning.

On May 15, one of my customers/friend, Jesse, gave me a call. He runs a self service car wash down the street. Apparently, one of his regular customers came in with his Audi TT and was BS'ing with him about my Jesse's E30 that he daily drives. They got to talking for a while, and the Audi fella (we will call him Rob for this story's purpose) mentioned he had a "E28 M5 in his back yard with a blown head gasket" that he wanted to sell. My friend was not interested, but said he knew "someone that may want that thing". Jesse immediately gave me a call and said "hey, man, I have something you might be interested in," and proceeded to explain what he found. He told me not to get my hopes up (I rarely do), but I got the owner's phone number and gave him a call the next day, Tuesday. Got Rob on the phone and he was very excited to talk to me - so much so, that I could hardly understand anything he was saying, he was talking so fast. All I could really understand was that he had owned it for 23 years and it had some Dinan parts and that I should definitely come see it. Figured it must be somewhat legitimate and not a 528eA with an M5 grill badge...

We setup a time for me to come have a peek at it for 2 PM that day. The car was in a rougher neighborhood of outer SE Portland and on a dead end street. Furthermore, the driveway of the house was probably a quarter of a mile long and very hard to navigate. I thought for sure I was in the wrong place, but as I came to the end of the driveway, behind the house, I saw the front end of the car peeking out at me, underneath the carport. There it was, in all it's glory...but, wait a minute...an E28 M5 is never supposed to be green. WTF? I get out of my truck and meet the owner. We talk about the car for a little while, as we're standing next to it, and he starts mentioning some Dinan stuff. Then, he drops a bomb on me and says something about it having a turbo charger. Mid sentence, I walk over to the door, pop the hood, take a look real fast, asked Rob how much he wanted. He gave me a price, I didn't even attempt to haggle, so I ran home and grabbed the cash to make a deposit while he searched for the title. Came back and he couldn't find it. Gave him a deposit and told him to call me when he found the title. Couple days goes by and he still can't find it. Then, the great idea of just going to the DMV office and transferring it right into my name hit me, so we did that on the 19th at lunch time. Paid for it and had my tow driver bring it back to the shop.

Here's what we've got...

11/1986 E28 M5 - originally Schwarz over Natur heated interior. Repainted Lagunengrun-metallic in 1991 to match owner number one's E31 850i/6 Dinan twin-turbo
Shipped straight to Dinan when new for a full turbocharger kit, built S38B35 (Schrick cams, forged internals, billet crank, as per the previous owner), "racing clutch and differential", as well as a few other things.
C4 Corvette giant front brakes, E34 540i rears
Hideous 17" Momo 90s era wheeeeeeeels
Excellent interior and dashboard
Off the road since 2003

The story behind this car goes like this...the first owner was a developer in the SF Bay area and had a shit ton of money. Obviously so, if they sent this car straight to Dinan when it was new. Reportedly a $94,000 (and change) car when new, with the way it was outfitted and such. He liked the car a lot and decided to buy an E31 850i/6 when they were new, finished in Lagoon Green. He loved that color so well that he wanted the M5 to match it. It was sent to a shop that did a lot of Ferrari and Lamborghini stuff for a very extensive respray in 1991. Reportedly a $15,000 job. I was told they used Glasurit paint, which was nice. The paint, being faded and weather beaten anymore, is still in decent shape for what it is, but it needs to go away...

Owner number one traded it in for something else and it was sent to a dealer auction. Stan Bennett, who dealt with a lot of BMW, Mercedes and Porsche stuff in the 80s, 90s and 2000s, put it on his lot and sold it to Rob, in 1994, who was a fairly young fella at the time. From what I was told, his mother bought it/helped buy it for him and did a lot of the maintenance on it over the years. As the story goes, the car sat for a bit, while the owner was living in Las Vegas. He came back home at some point in 2003 and went to go drive his car. It must have been sitting under a tree or something to clog the sunroof drains (or perhaps a bad windshield seal), because the DME and Turbotronic boxes were water damaged (this was later determined to be the cause of this car's temporary demise) and the car started dumping raw fuel. Rob noticed a bunch of smoke in the rear window and immediately pulled over, thinking it had a blown head gasket or something of the like. From 2003-2010, the M5 went to a handful of different shops in the Portland area, and reportedly "nobody knew how to work on the car", so during that time, virtually nothing happened with it. Eventually, the M5 wound up being towed into a shop in the NW Portland area; the owner happens to be a friend of mine.

From the story I was told by Rob, the car "sat down there for two years and not a fucking thing happened to it while it was there." From the story I was told by the shop owner, the car was towed in. They ran some basic diagnostics and concluded that there was an issue with the electronics. The tech removed the DME and said "water came pouring out of it". Obviously, that's an issue. Not having an 079 Bosch unit hanging around, they tossed an 059 from a 535is in the M5 and fired right up. First time it had actually ran in many years. They drove it around NW Portland for 10-15 minutes, to determine whether the engine actually had a bad head gasket or not. From how it ran, while driving it around (without getting it into boost, of course) and running compression tests, they concluded that there was nothing wrong with the engine, and that it needed a new DME, at a minimum. The shop owner and Rob came to an agreement on a standalone engine management they were going to use. They got it all wired up and really was not far off from running at all, but Rob pulled the plug on the job, due to money reasons.

After that, it went to a VW tuning shop and that's where the issues started to arise. When you have someone working on one of these cars, who really doesn't know them at all, you start running into serious issues. They convinced Rob to go with a Megasquirt system and delete the AFM and go with a wasted spark setup, as it would be the most economical setup. However, for reasons I don't know, they never finished it up and the car went back to Rob's house, where it sat under his carport for the next almost four years, until I found out about it.

I haven't touched the car since I acquired it, aside from giving it its first wash in close to 15 years, but I have acquired an S38B35 engine harness from an M5; many thanks to Aaron, aka "ahab"! The DME is next on my list to acquire, however, I never see any used units pop up for sale, just refurbished ones.That will most likely be the route I end up going. Obviously, all the rubber in the engine bay needs to be replaced as well as a cooling system overhaul. My goal is just to get it running and see what's actually going on with it before I go down that rabbit hole. It will most likely be a while before this thing sees the road again, but it will be a slow build, and I am perfectly fine with that. I'm not in any rush to get it done. I own it and that's all I care about :)

Thanks for reading my novel, that is, if you decided to stick with it for that long. Here's a few pictures for your viewing pleasure.

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Last edited by austin8753 on Mar 09, 2020 12:56 AM, edited 4 times in total.
gaberdee
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5 build thread

Post by gaberdee »

Such a great score, both for you and the car, which is finally getting saved. Stories like this and the parking lot hartge from Las Vegas make me think these cars find us as much as we find them. Looking forward to your progress.
Adam W in MN
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5 build thread

Post by Adam W in MN »

Crazy!! Great story, and can't wait to read more updates. Haven't seen a Dinan turbo E28 M5 in a long time, since the one Rob Levinson used to own but I'm sure there are more out there.
hubble1953
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5 build thread

Post by hubble1953 »

Wow; now that is a great find. Good thing that car found you, it will run again and be back on the road in no time at all....in time for 5erWest:).
Kind-of like the color too.
jm
oldskool
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5 build thread

Post by oldskool »

It's Green. And I like it. Good save!
russellrh72
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by russellrh72 »

Really cool story. Very happy for you! Ya know, after the wash the green looks pretty rad.
bkbimmer
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by bkbimmer »

It's funny how things work out. I knew that car from way before I was ever into e28s. Good luck with it.
muleskinner
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by muleskinner »

Nice find. What kind of exhaust is that?
ElGuappo
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by ElGuappo »

Great save on what would've been a slow death for a unique car.
austin8753
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by austin8753 »

muleskinner wrote:Nice find. What kind of exhaust is that?
It was a "custom" job and I will most likely reinstall the entire Dinan unit - the owner was smart enough to save it all!
bkbimmer wrote:It's funny how things work out. I knew that car from way before I was ever into e28s. Good luck with it.
Definitely funny, also pretty weird how it all happened. I'm sure you will get to know the car very well in a couple years' time...
stuartinmn
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by stuartinmn »

Neat find! So it's a US spec car, with a build date of 11/86...all US spec M5s were sold as 1988 model year, correct? Did they actually have build dates that far prior to the 1988 model year?
bkbimmer
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by bkbimmer »

austin8753 wrote:
muleskinner wrote:Nice find. What kind of exhaust is that?
It was a "custom" job and I will most likely reinstall the entire Dinan unit - the owner was smart enough to save it all!
bkbimmer wrote:It's funny how things work out. I knew that car from way before I was ever into e28s. Good luck with it.
Definitely funny, also pretty weird how it all happened. I'm sure you will get to know the car very well in a couple years' time...

I'm already green with envy, oh wait... that's puuke... I'm green with envy puke!

I'm excited to hear that beast run.
maybeillbuyit
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by maybeillbuyit »

Wow what a score, Hard to believe. I like the color. Strange that the PO would just let a car like that sit for so long.
austin8753
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by austin8753 »

bkbimmer wrote: I'm already green with envy, oh wait... that's puuke... I'm green with envy puke!

I'm excited to hear that beast run.
Lol. Good thing the green won't be permanent!

AJ (ETA power) came by yesterday and offered his help/expertise with the FI aspect of this car, of which my experience is very limited. Looking like he and I will probably have this thing running by the end of the month! Going to use the stock engine harness that was already cut up and modified for a Megasquirt install, reinstall the distributor, use AJ's already built MS3 box. The end goal is to have a setup that is reliable, but looks as close to a factory install as possible. Excited to start tearing into it and getting it running :)
Dinan e28
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by Dinan e28 »

hell of a color to paint a M5 Austin. Awesome that you were able to save it. How good is the paint? sounds like a lot of money went into that paint.
Das_Prachtstrasse
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by Das_Prachtstrasse »

That would've been one helluva car back in its day. What a statement. Great story, best of luck with it!
mescko
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by mescko »

austin8753 wrote:
Good thing the green won't be permanent!
You have the color I wish I had...and you're not keeping it. No fucking fair. Still good to see it in person at 5erWest.
zentropy
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by zentropy »

Awesome find, awesome color!
L_N_Love
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by L_N_Love »

Nice find. Cool car!

:alright:
wkohler
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by wkohler »

stuartinmn wrote:Neat find! So it's a US spec car, with a build date of 11/86...all US spec M5s were sold as 1988 model year, correct? Did they actually have build dates that far prior to the 1988 model year?
11/86 was the first production month for the DC93 M5.

Austin - what's the last 7 of the VIN? Get this car listed on the M-registry!

Was great to see it at 5erWest and I'm interested in how it all comes together.
freedspeak
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 11/1986 Dinan M5

Post by freedspeak »

This is awesome. sounds like it was "greened" the right way...if the paint is good, I would leave it..
austin8753
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 12/1986 Dinan M5 - IT LIVES!

Post by austin8753 »

Thanks for all the comments, guys. Still hard to believe that I actually own one of these things. I end up on r3v more often than I do here, so I accidentally neglect this build thread - I suck at them anyway. Here's a few copy/paste posts from over there that document a few things we've gotten done in the last month.

As far as the color goes, I like it on e30s, but I cannot stand it on this car, especially with natur interior. As soon as I'm finished with my "minor" cosmetic restoration with my E30 M-Tech 2 cabrio, this car will be repainted in the only color USDM spec E28 M5s should be - Schwarz (086). Overall, the paint job was decent, especially for its time period, but it is very weathered these days and needs to be redone. The car was vandalized in 2009 when left outside for an extended time period at one of the many various shops it was at over the years. They fucked over the left front door trim, kicked the shit out of the door, bent the fuel filler door outwards, not to mention the paint being very faded all over. It needs to be redone, no way around it.

The E28 M5 has always been on my short list of cars I want to own and and keep until I die and I want to get this car looking as close to how it came when it was new...and yes, this means the diving boards are staying!!! I can install euro bumpers on any other E28 I choose, but this one is special :)

Chris - 2791066. I registered it the day I bought the car :) RealOEM told me that it was a 11/1986, but the BMW VIN decoder has it being produced on December 11, 1986. We'll go with that date. Thanks for your guidance and advice so far - I'm sure you will have a hand in this project until completion.

I'll break out my camera and get some non shitty iPhone pictures of the car here tomorrow.
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07/10/17

Time for a minor update...

About a month or so ago, AJ (ETA power) and I came to an agreement on what we should do as far as getting the car running. He donated (well, sorta) his already assembled MS3 pro box as well as a few day's time to sort out the wiring harness. There were a lot of loose ends in the car - lots of loose hardware, wiring splices, extra parts... I had zero idea what I was looking at, but luckily AJ dove right in and made quick work of finishing up the install of the MS system, all the random plumbing that was disconnected, etc.

AJ finished up the MS install and mounted the controller. At that point, we decided to try firing it. Hit the key and nothing. No power to main relay. Great. Tore the under dash panel off and discovered that there was some giant ass alarm system in there (circa 1995). I was sure that it had something to do with that. Ripped it all out and got it to crank, but no fire. Ugh.

Looked down at the fuel gauge and saw the light was on, so I ran to my closest chevron and grabbed a few gallons of 92. Filled the tank and heard it roar to life. Couldn't believe my ears. Pretty noisy, which was to be expected from a car that hadn't ran since 2009. Ran pretty smooth for a very very rough base tune. Let it warm up to temp and saw that it wasn't losing any coolant, nor did it have a misfire and it had quieted down quite a bit. Decided we would try taking it around the block. Made it about two blocks before the charge pipe blew off :rofl1: overall, ran and drove pretty decent. Old Dinan Bilstein shocks are pretty worn, Corvette brakes need broke in, shifter needs rebuilt. Didn't really beat on it, but it has some TurboXS blow off valve...loud as shit. That'll be the first thing to go...

The car is currently off getting tuned by a good friend of mine. I'm supposed to have it back by Wednesday. I'm currently in the process of doing a refinish on some staggered m systems I have and will hopefully have them on the car by the end of the week. 5erWest (like 5erFest but on the West coast) is this weekend and my goal is to have the car there! Don't see why not.

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07/17/17

Well, this weekend was a complete success. Had a bunch of setbacks, but we made it to 5erWest under its own power and it did extraordinarily well.

I picked up the car on Wednesday from the tuner. About 30 min from picking up the car, I got a call that it had started running like total shit and he didn't know what was on. Drove it home and it was misfiring horribly. Great. AFRs were all over the place and it was trying to lean out under 3k RPM or when not boosting. Screamed bad fuel pump to me, but that wasn't it (little did I know).

Got under the car, to repair a turbo oil return hose at the block, when I noticed an odd sight. There was no exhaust gasket at the cat back. Zero. The wideband placement was right after the exhaust leak. Bingo. Got an exhaust gasket and the car ran beautifully. Did some more fine tuning, installed a TRE fuel pump and made it to 5erWeekend.

This is easily the fastest, most fun car I have ever driven. When driving comfortably, it is very refined and easy to drive. When I'm bored or need to pass someone, it starts boosting and will burn the tires in all five gears.

With the exception of some suspension quirkiness and old tires, it runs and drives fantastic!!! Big step in the right direction. Now to get any and all mechanical stuff sorted so we can move on to cosmetics next year sometime.

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And a first fire video for you fine people.

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austin8753
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 12/1986 Dinan M5 - IT LIVES!

Post by austin8753 »

Shitty pictures are shitty. Really only making this post to have some documentation for myself of where we were at the beginning. Interior is overall very nice, save for one crack in the dashboard, though it is pretty dirty at the moment. Need to figure out something for the crank case breather and then start trying to tidy up the engine bay.

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joel323
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 12/1986 Dinan M5 - IT LIVES!

Post by joel323 »

Could you take a hose from the Valve cover to the Intake pipe like this?

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Kyle in NO
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Re: An Emerald in the rough - 12/1986 Dinan M5 - IT LIVES!

Post by Kyle in NO »

Nice developments Austin! If I were you, at this age, I would be tackling the timing chain and guides STAT. Even just the guides and tensioner if the chain and sprockets look good.
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