1976 BMW 530i -- Where do I begin?
Thanks for dropping in. I recently purchased a running '76 530i. At some time in the past she had been covered with a tarp and parked for a bit before I got her.
There are a series of issues that will require addressing. Sooner than later hopefully. I'm not sure where to start and could use the input of my peers.
Cosmetically, she ain't nothing to look at right now. She needs a new paint job (the previous owner did a spray paint two tone thing), and basically a completely new interior. I just pulled the carpet kit the other day because the sunroof flooded the interior during a bad rain storm. Leather seats are all cracked and ruined, gear shift knob slides off, missing a part of the dash column, heat/cooling controls are either missing or disconnected, ceiling headliner needs a replacing also.
But let's not focus on the aesthetics.
Under the hood she's pulling down just shy of 190,000k miles. The EGR Service light is intermittently on, but remains off as long as I'm running the high-octane from Chevron. The radiator fan looks like it wobbles a little and has done some damage to the radiator. It also appears that the previous owner didn't like the way the vacuum lines were set up and he cut/plugged/removed several of them. It also appears the part of the fuel system which utilizes the charcoal filter has been bypassed. I still haven't figured that out yet... It would seem there is a likely issue with the timing as she's running rich right now although I keep getting conflicting advice regarding advancing the timing or retarding it, over 1700rpm. Second gear straight up grinds the first time I try to shift into it. I've tried double-clutching but with no luck. I can shift freely when the car is at a stop, so I think it's bad synchro's. After a good grind, and basically slamming it into 2nd when the RPM's are dialed, seems to fix the problem for the day allowing me to up shift or downshift into 2nd without any complaint. Finally, when I am sitting idling, as I have to do commonly when driving through San Jose, the temperature soars. When driving this car generally runs VERY cool, hardly above the blue line and before the first marker. As soon as I stop moving though the temp increases. The radiator overflow container has a leak and isn't holding pressure, which could be contributing, but so far the car has not overheated. Seems like once it hits the second marker the temperature gain stops... but I cannot be sure.
Then there's all the other stuff. The wheels are somewhat ground up, and the right rear tire is bald on the inside. There's some body damage to the rear of the car (looks like it was in a very minor fender bender) and the left brake light cover is busted up a little and needs a replacing. The right brake cover is in good shape but it looks like the guy applies some caulking around the housing to keep it from leaking. The sunroof, as I mentioned, needs the felt seal replaced. The power windows only work when I open the driver side door, and the motors don't have a lot of gusto. The windows are also off their track and require adjusting as I roll them up. The previous owner did a number on the exhaust as well, perhaps to affix a CAT on it at some time in the past. The Cat is gone, and the original exhaust pipe is back, but the pipe had been cut out before and obviously doesn't seal properly. I have patches at the point just after the manifold connection and just prior to the muffler.
Fortunately I have a very close friend who manages an auto shop that specializes in older model BMW, Volvo, and Audi. So despite my inadequate knowledge regarding the details of the car I do have someone local that I can trust to HELP me do some of the work myself. I know she's a beater... But she was only $1400, and despite all this crap I absolutely LOVE the car, the way it handles and drives should only get better as I put more into her.
Draining and replacing the fluids, from brakes to radiator, is the first goal for this weekend. I also want to start the process of replacing all the hoses and belts I can. If the AC is still good I might even get that recharged.
Then I'd probably move on to overhauling the entire exhaust system, clean it all out, replace seals where it's needed, and maybe even drop some new parts if I can get them.
Then I think I should work on the fuel delivery system, replace the filters and injectors (maybe upgrade) and spark plugs and wires. I'll probably work on the timing and might have to do a little cleaning of the air intake system.
After that I should probably replace the fan clutch and fan blade.
After this I'll need to take a look at the transmission, clutch, and distro. Rebuilding this stuff isn't beyond me but this is probably the part I'll outsource to my homie because he really knows what he's doing and shifting gears is kinda important.
Electrically the car isn't in bad shape. It has a newer ECU and fuses. There's also a new alternator, distributor, and battery. Still, I'd like the dash lights to come on and for the ability to roll the windows up and down while driving. So electrical would be next on the list.
Finally I can hit the interior. I'll pull off all the door panels, fix the windows and maybe replace the electrical motors in the front. Then I'll get the dash worked out, get all the lights working, get a stereo installed, and get all my air controls working again. Might as well drop in the carpet kit and headliner while I'm at it. I dig the springy seats so I'll probably have them all reupholstered.
Finally... I'm going to give her a good ol' fashioned $100 Rustoleum paint job myself. My brother's Father-in-law painted cars for years and he has his own equipment and garage so I might just sack it up and spray on a real top coat. With the Rustoleum I've done my homework and I know it's more about time-in and expectations-out.
Thanks for hanging with my lengthy post. I could really use some input. Anything helps.
I'll have some pictures tonight or tomorrow once I get home and I can take them.
Really.... this sounds like a parts car.. and, not a really good one, at that...
Hello, I also have a '76 530i that I have been driving for the past 26 years. These are basically trouble-free cars once you address all the weak points. The cooling system is one of those. You can take the radiator to a shop and they can remove one of the side tanks and rod it out. Once you do that, your temperature will be a lot cooler. Thermal reactors were another problem; they got so hot that they cracked the cylinder head. Best solution is to take them out and install a set of regular exhaust manifolds.
I did a 5 speed conversion on my car, so I still have a good 4 speed gearbox and driveshaft in my garage. I also have the factory manual, so if you need any one section in particular, I can send you a copy. Good luck with your project and post some pictures when you can. Carlos Rubio
Gotta admire a bloke who loves a chalange.................
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