Number 11 has departed!

Grand Finale (Feb. 13): This car is gone! RIP, poor old E23…many others will live on due to your sacrifice! Looking back on all the work I did to this car, I’m pretty content with how it went. The space wasn’t open for long, either. I now have a pair of E21 that are heading down the same sad road. They are unbelievably rusty, you have to see it to believe it:

Update (Jan. 31, 2018): We’ve had a very productive month. I sold a lot of stuff from the E23. I also figured out what to do with the E24 parts I’d bought last month (spoiler: I sold them!). Three transmissions…SOLD! M106…SOLD! Flywheels…SOLD! Misc. M30 electronics…SOLD! I still have the B32 bare motor from Cleveland. Before I sold the flywheel, I noted that the clutch was the original 1981 Fichtel & Sachs unit! Unbelievable durability in these old cars, eh?

Update (Dec. 31): It’s been a busy few months here. I’d pulled the motor a little while back, it sold to a local E30 enthusiast. The differential turned out to be a 3.45 limited-slip unit, it sold on eBay a few weeks back. I learned a valuable new skill too: how to pack something as cumbersome as an 80# cast-iron-case differential. I used a Target storage tote, added an OSB floor, drilled some holes, then fastened it all firmly together with some medium-duty plastic strapping. FedEx was more than happy to ship it for me, and at a relatively reasonable price. I also picked up an E24 engine/transmission combo in NE Ohio, haven’t figured out what to do with it. Use it/sell it?

Update (Aug. 15): I did a little exploratory surgery this evening. The plan was to borrow the AEM wideband gauge/controller for my E24. Since it had been installed into the original ash tray, the entire center console had to be removed to get at it. I must have found $10 in change, so at least I made a little money back. 😉 I also pulled the AFM and DME to check what was going on there. I was thrilled to find a TCD chip installed in the DME! That will make my life a lot easier. If you’re not familiar with TCD’s work, check out their site here. Great stuff, great engineering, focused & devoted to the BMW community. This is a timing-only tune, so the larger-flow injectors and the RRFPR are responsible for the fueling. My plan has evolved as I’ve been working on the car. I’m now planning on refreshing the hoses and re-routing the intercooler before the car gets parted out & scrapped. That way I’ll have a known-quantity motor in running shape. If the dyno plots at TCD are representative of this motor, it should be developing about 325HP and maybe 300Lb-ft of torque. Not too shabby!

Aug. 13: This was a pretty productive day. I had finished a lot of my chores over the last few days to make some time for this car. First off, per my usual method, I ran an inventory. The good, the bad, the ugly, the useless. Typically, most of the good stuff was advertised by the seller. Occasionally I make a few fortunate discoveries. But once the car is delivered, I can really take stock of what’s worthwhile. Things I noted? Well, there’s a lot:

The brakes were really soft, and the reservoir was nearly empty. Perhaps it just needed some fluid and a quick bleeding? I hooked up my pressure bleeder, went to the rear passenger brake and promptly snapped off the bleeder valve. It’s one of those dumb self-bleeding types. I never had much luck with those. Looking for another bleeder valve, I noted that my E30 rear calipers had the same number in the caliper casting. It bolts right on, exact same part! I wasn’t familiar with that little fact, so it was a very happy coincidence.

Once I got that sorted out, I pumped up the pressure bleeder. I noted a lot of bubbles flowing up from the master cylinder. That’s not a good sign; a few bubbles are normal. Lots of bubbles mean that the fluid is leaking out somewhere. I had my suspicions, but as I was searching, the brake bleeder hose punctured, then ruptured. It sprayed a burst of brake fluid across the whole engine compartment. I had planned on updating the original vinyl aquarium tube feed line that originally came with it, but kept putting it off. So I yanked the bleeder out, buttoned it back up and washed out the engine compartment. At least one caliper was done, and the master reservoir was full. Progress! The brake pedal still wouldn’t resist though. As I pressed the pedal, I noted a ‘whoosh’ sound…then saw a gentle spray misting the engine compartment. It was brake fluid. The PO had installed stainless braided fuel line…and it had rubbed through the ABS delete plumbing. You have to be careful with stainless braided stuff. It’s really rough on other components. I’ll re-route all that junk later, along with a bit of vinyl tube and a few zip-ties.

The brake line was a little more work. I had to remove the bad section, find a good spare, then bolt it back in. I had a spare caliper line that was just about the right length from an E30 rear caliper, but it wouldn’t fit into the plumbing! My BMW spares are metric bubble-flare but the PO had installed SAE double-flare in the car. So I chopped off the bad section, moved the flare fitting, then whipped out the old flaring tool. I carefully re-read the directions (it’s been a decade since I last used it). It took me a few tries, but in less than an hour I managed to put a nice flare onto what was left of the hacked-up hard line. I managed to get it installed just as darkness fell. I’ll bleed it again tomorrow, and verify that it’t all tight.

One single lug bolt (front passenger’s side) temporarily resists me. It managed to crack an ‘easy-out’ and snapped off a few drill bits. Well, tomorrow is another day.

My quick test (jack up the rear end, spin a rear wheel exactly one turn, and count how many times the diff input shaft rotates) suggests it’s the original ratio 3.46 medium case (typ 188) limited slip unit. It’s been re-sealed recently, the PO thought it was a replacement unit. I had hoped for something a little shorter like a 3.73 or 3.91 for resale value, but it’s a good ratio regardless. Personally, I prefer taller ratios; better at highway speeds and they’ll handle larger amounts of torque for a given size.

I also discovered the power train problem. Both inner CV joints are badly worn. The boots are dangling and I could feel the car squirming just moving it around the driveway. Considering the amount of torque this thing can put down…it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise to find broken stuff in the powertrain. I’m hoping that my extra set of E24 shafts can provide CV joints. They’re from that flood victim Euro E24. With any luck they’ll be the same part (RealOEM disagrees, but we’ll see once it’s apart).

Aug. 11: The seller was as honest as I’d hoped. The car started up with only a few problems. It’s nearly impossible to idle when cold, but it spools up nicely. Other troubles, in no particular order:
The brakes are a little, uh, noticeable by their absence. Looks like the reservoir is nearly empty, I’ll be looking for a rupture somewhere & bleed them out again.
It’s also leaking coolant from the heater control valve, no big deal. I’ll just loop those lines until I can fabricate something.
The Spal fans are always on. I’ll have to work on that, they’re LOUD!
Clutch is abrupt, and the takeoff is very ‘wobbly’. Might be a bad diff or worn transmission bearing; but hopefully it’s just a u-joint. Guibo is pretty nice, surprisingly. This project would take a huge amount of time to return to the road, I’m pretty sure it’s getting parted out.

Aug. 10: The car just arrived! Car needs a new drain valve for the front-mount air-to-water inter-cooler (FMAWIC). I also noted a bit of oil on the rear exhaust manifold, so I’ll be doing a compression test right off the bat. The oil cooler lines are looped, the seats are a disaster, the car has a fair bit of cosmetic damage, there’s significant rust in the driver’s front quarter, and it’s all done in a coat of flaking primer black. Cheap 17″ wheels and hacked-in H4 composite headlights come with the package. Even better, all four are low-beams with green LED “angel eyes”. ABS modulator unit has also gone missing. The infamously unreliable Behr auto-magic vacuum HVAC is running in fail-safe mode. The last charge of R12 will be a memory, I’d guess. Despite all that, it looks promising. Many original documents were still in the (working) glove box, including the deluxe concealed radar detector!

Aug 4, 2017: Barring any major snafu, TIBMW HQ is preparing for another E23. This one is a row-it-yourself 735i manual, with lots of tasty goodies. According to my research, it was once a normal 735i 5-speed with the rugged Getrag 265 and a limited-slip differential. During its long and eventful life, this big old tub acquired an M106B34 turbocharged motor. A rare & forbidden pleasure here in the USA, this Euro-spec motor required significant adaptations to fit into this car. As built by BMW, these old turbos had a very unusual control system. The Bosch “013” DME was a bespoke unit, only made for this motor, containing both the engine (ECU) and the automatic transmission (TCU) controls in a single large case. Most BMWs have the more conventional system utilizing a discrete ECU and TCU. Furthermore, it was the first BMW to incorporate a knock sensor controller. It’ll be interesting to find out how all that was arranged. Such a hacked-up Frankenstein always requires a little fiddling to sort the old stuff out. I’ve already heard rumors of many tweaks: larger turbo, bigger injectors…and there’s some aftermarket fun: stainless braided fuel lines & gauge, RRFPR, Greddy BOV with dial-a-boost, ARP head studs and an air-to-water intercooler. Brakes and wheels are upgraded, I also noted some H&R spacers up front. According to the window stickers, I’d also suspect suspension upgrades and an up-rated clutch. It’ll certainly be a lot faster, since each sticker is worth about 5 HP, eh?

I can’t wait to see if we can bring it back! I suspect that the chassis will not be with us for long. Rust has been eating this one for a while; looked like an engine donor to me. Mileage is low (only 99K if the odo is accurate) and it has a few equipment upgrades. Some might even work!


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