E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

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Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

Hi guys,

I am new to this forum and I would like to present the restoration/conversion of 535i that I bought in November 2021 from California and export it to Europe - Slovenia.

1988 BMW 535i, 5 speed, Alpine White with Black leather, original condition California survivor, accident free car, all vin tags present on panels, original paint on all the panels except hood was repainted by previous owner due to rock chips in original single stage finish (no clear coat). 3 owners since I am the 4th owner. Last year of production, limited slip differential. 234.000 miles but running strong.

ImageSmartSelect_20220305-184231_Office by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
ImageIMG-20211013-WA0005 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
ImageIMG-20211013-WA0006 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Photos from USA
ImageIMG-20210929-WA0037 by Jan Podržaj
ImageIMG-20210929-WA0036 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
ImageIMG-20211020-WA0021 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
ImageIMG-20210929-WA0059 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
ImageIMG-20210929-WA0043 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
ImageIMG-20210929-WA0055 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
ImageIMG-20210929-WA0044 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Photo before hood painting
ImageIMG-20210909-WA0011 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Car came yesterday after a 4 months of journey from port to port. I am happy with the car. It is a good example and with some work put in.
Image20220303_175736 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Today I installed BBS RC090 - looks 10 times better for my taste. Front end sits too high but will solve that with lowering springs and if necessary with new shocks. Rear end already has Bilsteins installed.
Image20220304_134709 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220304_133558 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220304_114231 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Removed seat covers and underneath seats don't look bad. I expected beat up seats. My plan was to put manual sport seats inside. I already have sports seats ready and a center console for the interior with manual seats. Now I am in a dilemma if I should leave it in stock and repair comfort seats or put in sport seats.
Image20220305_134423 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220305_134343 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

One sport seat is 10kg lighter than an electric comfort seat.
Image20220305_111903 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Antenna was not working - no sound at all so I took it apart. Mechanically it is okay but I think it is not getting power - I have to get an electrician to check if it is connected or the motor is dead.
Image20220305_114305 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220305_114433 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

This is it for now. I will post progress updates regularly. Plan is to get a euro bumper and make a conversion, get her mechanically in shape, some cosmetic repairs - but first import papers and european/slovenian homologation.

Image20220303_213039 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Etip
Posts: 56
Joined: Sep 05, 2021 2:06 AM
Location: Seattle

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Etip »

Looks like a great, fun project. In good shape. I would definitely do the sport seats. Looking forward to your updates.
stuartinmn
Posts: 9204
Joined: Feb 12, 2006 12:00 PM
Location: Minneapolis

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by stuartinmn »

Good looking car. It's funny, we don't often hear of US cars being exported back to Europe. Is that your 6 series in background of the pictures? It looks very nice too.
Mike W.
Posts: 25676
Joined: Feb 12, 2006 12:00 PM
Location: California Whine Country

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Mike W. »

Welcome to our group!

Seems funny to be exporting from the US to Europe, but particularly here in California there's rarely any rust so I can see the logic. Reminds me of the one I had, Alpine white/Black interior, except yours is nicer. Regarding the seats, sit in them a bit before you decide. Some like the comforts, personally I find them misnamed, very uncomfortable and much prefer the sports.
Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

Etip wrote: Mar 05, 2022 2:16 PM Looks like a great, fun project. In good shape. I would definitely do the sport seats. Looking forward to your updates.
Thank you.
Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

stuartinmn wrote: Mar 05, 2022 3:54 PM Good looking car. It's funny, we don't often hear of US cars being exported back to Europe. Is that your 6 series in background of the pictures? It looks very nice too.
Thanks. I imported quite a few in past years for myself and my friends. Main reason is no rust from Californian cars. Most of Europe has 6 months of cold icy weather per year and it shows on cars. Another reason is bigger engines and better equiped cars are not so common in Europe. E28 535i are rare here...most of e28 models here are 520i with no AC and no leather seats.

E24 is mine just finishing her and getting ready for spring season
https://bigcoupe.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=32783
Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

Mike W. wrote: Mar 05, 2022 4:40 PM Welcome to our group!

Seems funny to be exporting from the US to Europe, but particularly here in California there's rarely any rust so I can see the logic. Reminds me of the one I had, Alpine white/Black interior, except yours is nicer. Regarding the seats, sit in them a bit before you decide. Some like the comforts, personally I find them misnamed, very uncomfortable and much prefer the sports.
Thank you. You are on point with rust case - not a single spot on underside of the car. European e28s, e24s, e30s, e34s... (not all but most) have holes and previous rust repairs. Also history in most cases is not know, CarFax does not exist for old european cars.

I will try comfort seats this week on the road, I am used to sport seats in e30 and e24.
Mdreamer
Posts: 370
Joined: Feb 12, 2006 12:00 PM
Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Mdreamer »

Congratulations on your acquisition. It looks like a solid example, and I am looking forward to following your progress with it.

I know a lot of people dislike the comfort seats, but I really enjoy the armrest that they provide. When I had a 535is with its sport seats some years ago, I missed the ability to rest my right arm on longer drives. I wonder if anyone has ever tried to retrofit a sport seat to have an armrest like the comfort seats do?
John in VA
Posts: 5156
Joined: Feb 12, 2006 12:00 PM
Location: Leesburg, VA

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by John in VA »

Mdreamer wrote: Mar 08, 2022 11:10 AM...I missed the ability to rest my right arm on longer drives. I wonder if anyone has ever tried to retrofit a sport seat to have an armrest like the comfort seats do?
Yes, It's been discussed here.
Blue Shadow
Posts: 9662
Joined: Feb 12, 2006 12:00 PM
Location: SE PA

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Blue Shadow »

Mdreamer wrote: Mar 08, 2022 11:10 AM the comfort seats, I really enjoy the armrest that they provide.
The other plus of the couch seats is the wide bottom cushion holds a koozied canned drink firmly between it and the parking brake handle, no need for a cup holder.
Mdreamer
Posts: 370
Joined: Feb 12, 2006 12:00 PM
Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Mdreamer »

Blue Shadow wrote: Mar 08, 2022 2:00 PM
Mdreamer wrote: Mar 08, 2022 11:10 AM the comfort seats, I really enjoy the armrest that they provide.
The other plus of the couch seats is the wide bottom cushion holds a koozied canned drink firmly between it and the parking brake handle, no need for a cup holder.
YES! This, while relaxing with my right arm resting, makes it all worthwhile, Blue Shadow! :D
adam_poll
Posts: 116
Joined: Jul 23, 2014 8:19 PM
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by adam_poll »

Nice looking car, congrats!

It wouldn't surprise me if you found a pair of Bilstein's in the front as well inside the strut tubes, if the shaft is approximately 40 mm diameter rather than around 20 mm for a stock strut that's what you've got.
tseohs
Posts: 53
Joined: May 10, 2019 1:20 PM
Location: WA

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by tseohs »

Nice find! That car looks pristine given the mileage. IMO, those are the best looking wheels for that color. Eager to see what else you have in store.
Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

adam_poll wrote: Mar 11, 2022 10:29 AM Nice looking car, congrats!

It wouldn't surprise me if you found a pair of Bilstein's in the front as well inside the strut tubes, if the shaft is approximately 40 mm diameter rather than around 20 mm for a stock strut that's what you've got.
Thanks for tip will investigate.
Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

tseohs wrote: Mar 11, 2022 1:23 PM Nice find! That car looks pristine given the mileage. IMO, those are the best looking wheels for that color. Eager to see what else you have in store.
Thanks!
Indeed she is a nice survivor, bought it based on photos and description. Had several cars with lower mileage but in worse shape.
Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

Did some mechanical work this week. Clutch pedal was not returning as it should be so i replaced clutch slave cylinder.
Drive shaft rubber was torn so I replaced that as well and since I had the exhaust off the car I replaced driveshaft center mount support as well.

Image2 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220308_175155 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220308_175409 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220310_192033 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Every first start of the car the starter did not disengage so I removed the starter to have it rebuilt. If that won't stop the problem then there must be something wrong with the ignition lock - will see next week once I get the starter back.

Image20220308_204052 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Alternator and belts are new replaced not too long ago.

Image20220308_190747 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

The glass in both side mirrors was wobbly and none was working so I took them apart and replaced motors from E30 mirrors I had lying in my storage. They both work now and no more moving of the glass.

Image20220308_190532 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220308_191851 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220308_191912 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220309_111610 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Start removing hood insulation. I found good reproduction material for the center of the hood. For bottom once I will make them on my own since BMW does not offer both sides anymore and material is crap - not to mention price :oops:

Image20220311_183352 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220310_102522 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

What is next... I ordered service material to make engine service and I will replace differential oil as well since it was leaking in the past and would like to clean it and see if it is still leaking.

Image20220310_192056 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

adam_poll wrote: Mar 11, 2022 10:29 AM Nice looking car, congrats!

It wouldn't surprise me if you found a pair of Bilstein's in the front as well inside the strut tubes, if the shaft is approximately 40 mm diameter rather than around 20 mm for a stock strut that's what you've got.
I measured it and indeed diameter is 40mm. Thanks for the tip.
Now that I know I have Bilstein's front/rear I will install some lowering springs nice car sits too high in front, but rear is perfect.
Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

Hood insulation installed

Image20220315_202712 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Replaced hood shocks and exhaust rubber mounts and service material came - just waiting for differential lsd oil.

Image20220315_120857 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

Mounted the restored starter back on - what a pain in the ass it is to remove it and then again to install it. 1hour to remove it and 1 hour to get it back on. Happy that it works as it should now.

Transmission and differential oil came so I replaced fluids yesterday. Put some additive transmission fluid in as well.

Image20220318_181433 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Engine oil change - oil was still fresh it was changed recently. Oil filter was older.

Image20220318_190327 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Transmission oil change

Image20220318_194736 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Differential oil change

Image20220318_203652 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Test drive to import office and first european gasoline for my e28

Image20220318_112854 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Test drive revealed that front stabilizer links are bad, rest of the bushings I will inspect and replace if necessary. Fan clutch is bad - already got a replacement. Will replace it with all belts at once.

Image20220317_113211 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

Update.

Got the belts so I replaced fan clutch and all belts (AC belt i bought wrong dimension so will replace it next time).

Image20220325_204310 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Also got KAW lowering springs:
Tieferlegung (VA): 45 mm
Tieferlegung (HA): 40 mm

Image20220323_095821 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr


Front stabilizer links are replaced.
Image20220325_174108 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220325_182332 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr


Took out the dash to repair the cracks.
Image20220321_171135 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220321_171142 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220323_183029 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Drilled crack to stop them from spreading further - waitting for material to fill them.

Image20220323_192316 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220323_192301 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr


Once the dash was out I greased the AC blower since it was a bit squeaky. Then I took out the heater blower as well and greased it. No more squeaky noises from fans anymore.

Image20220321_193211 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220322_171432 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Speedometer has all 3 new gears.
Image20220323_104802 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220323_104700 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Took out air filter housing to have it repainted and wiper arms as well.

Image20220324_183807 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr


Now on the agenda to repair the dash cracks, polish lips on style 5s and have nuts and bolts chromed, interior refresh, mount lowering sprigns, and I am waitting for some goodies to be delivered from Germany.

Image20220325_171648 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
bronziti
Posts: 15
Joined: Feb 20, 2022 11:17 PM
Location: East Coast

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by bronziti »

Great progress! I truly enjoy reading up on restoration projects like this! It gives me inspiration on my own project as well as insight on what was done to achieve a solution.

side note: I used to work for a Slovenian company based in Ljubljana they took employees back to Ljubljana every year to experience the culture!
Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

bronziti wrote: Mar 29, 2022 12:44 AM Great progress! I truly enjoy reading up on restoration projects like this! It gives me inspiration on my own project as well as insight on what was done to achieve a solution.

side note: I used to work for a Slovenian company based in Ljubljana they took employees back to Ljubljana every year to experience the culture!
Thanks :up:

Interesting, small world - Interesting what was company’s name?
bronziti
Posts: 15
Joined: Feb 20, 2022 11:17 PM
Location: East Coast

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by bronziti »

Rthlss1 wrote: Mar 30, 2022 8:42 AM
Thanks :up:

Interesting, small world - Interesting what was company’s name?
Company was Celtra
Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

bronziti wrote: Apr 01, 2022 9:18 PM
Rthlss1 wrote: Mar 30, 2022 8:42 AM
Thanks :up:

Interesting, small world - Interesting what was company’s name?
Company was Celtra
Not familiar but will check them out.
Rthlss1
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 24, 2022 1:20 PM
Location: Slovenia

Re: E28i 535i 1988 manual resto/euro conversion

Post by Rthlss1 »

Dash cracks were filled with liquid plastic and sanded as much as possible - now paint will be applied and processed to match the pattern of the dash to cover crack fills as much as possible.

Image20220329_135042 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220329_174130 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr

Decided to keep comfort seats. Driver seat was beyond repair and passenger arm rest as well (at least a long lasting solution) so I had it redone in new leather. Rest of the interior will be refreshed and color matched to suit new leather.

Image20220401_144822 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220329_194431 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220329_194426 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
Image20220329_194844 by Jan Podržaj, on Flickr
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