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Nick323 07-05-2012 09:34 AM

Project 323 from the ashes...
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I have just read the Bronzit thread :thumbup:
This made me decide to also document my buld up of a E30 323 with the VIN SA32360151
I simply mention this number, as the local BMW agents say it does not exist. Well I bought it in Cape Town, beginning of May 2012, for what I consider a good price
Attachment 331715
It was a daily driver & the previous owner had tried turbocharging it unsuccesfully as well as fitting NOS nozzles in the throttle body, so I knew I would be in for some surprises :yikes:
Immediately after the money was handed over I filled her up & left for the 1600 km drive to Windhoek. This was at 2 in the afternoon.
What I noticed immediately that the car was looser than a hooker on prom night and had about as much power as when I am down with malaria.
I have a speedshop at home & have built cars for over 20 years, so I sometimes go by feel & this car just felt like it had not been beaten to death but rather neglected through ignorance :tsk:
When it got dark enough to test the lights I soon was made aware that I was going to sleep over in the next hotel. Turning off onto a little gravel road made me realise that the steering was feeling weird & not just loose. Something was slipping :eek:
The hotel though prooved interesting, as most small town hotels do :D

Nick323 07-06-2012 05:40 AM

The drive up
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Early the next morning, with my virginity barely intact, I crawled to the only place that could be termed a mechanical shop. I had no tools with me apart from a Gerber.
To my horror I found that the aftermarket steering wheel had stripped its hub and was spinning on the steering input shaft. Later I had many hours in the car by myself (with a broken sound system) to reflect on how lucky I was to be alive :angel2:
This was no place to get a proper wheel. My mentioning Loctite got a bewildered look...
So I used liquid steel as a filler and used some extra washers as spacers to jamb the nut on. Religious belief would be of help also.
Now the steering hub would rub-up against steering shaft cover at just off centre.
This made driving "interesting" to say the least.
I also decided to replace the rear tyres in the next town with those the seller had graciously thrown into the boot. He mentioned those on the car were on their way out :yikes:
Attachment 331828

As I enterd Springbok to find a tyre place, I realised there was fluid running out from underneath the car. Quick inspection showed that the Water bottle had cracked open (due to old age it seems). Obviously one is not able to get a BMW reservoir there, so I substituted one from a Golf
Attachment 331833
and at the same time jerry-rigged the thermostat.

Luckily the Dunlop dealer allowed me the use of his lift :thumbup:
Attachment 331834

The afternoon was spent going through the border into Namiba.
Customs on the South African side had huge banners & ballons declearing they were now "totally paperless", but the Police wanted 24 copies of A4 :rolleyes:

downhiller 07-06-2012 05:05 PM

looks like youre gunna have a fun project on your hands

Nick323 07-07-2012 12:42 AM


Originally Posted by downhiller (Post 6937454)
looks like youre gunna have a fun project on your hands

You are right there :D
Got stuck into the wiring a few days back... Why the PO use sidecutters instead of just unplugging... :mad:
But I wanted to start this from the purchase on Monday May 7'th, so whoever is interested knows what I started off with :bigpimp:

Zombots 07-07-2012 06:32 AM

Good luck, friend. This does look like quite a project.

Nick323 07-09-2012 04:34 AM

First impressions
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Thanks for the condolences ;)

Anyhow, as I was driving up from the border I was thinking about Africa and how corrupt we are :( Also it seems that forced affirmative action is accelerating this...
Furthermore when I mentioned that I paid 3 Grand US for this; to police, customs & sundry officials they all wanted to buy it of me for that price :thumbup:
Just because the paint looked straight & not too faded, also the interior did not look too typical BMW- as if the owners playful Rottweiler slept in it :eek:

The last 70 km's before Keetmanshoop were a nightmare as the unitentionally long border crossing had messed up my time-shedule & therefore I now had to drive in the dark with no moon & little light. I snuck behind a semi & used its lights to protect me, tapping my brakes whenever somebody raced up from behind :tsk:
Still trying to figure out how BMW nominates it's lights- the outers shine dimly & the inners are for the fashion concious :dunno:

Next morning I just felt well & the last 500 km's were done in quick time :D
Arriving in my shop just after Lunch and being welcome back by my friend & mechanic Kenneth, we discussed this "project". Then he took this Bimmer for a extended test-run & 3'rd police clearance (why not just 1) whilst I prepared for my Moçambique trip looming in 2 days or so

The 323 used no oil & fuel very frugally (I'd bloody hope so with a max speed of 140 kph) whilst the underside of the vehicle was not besmeared by any unwelcome fluids :thumbup:
The previous owner was employed as a mechanic & I did think he tried to maintain this vehicle as best as he could afford. So I think this is not a lemon, but more a Aschenputtel :angel:

In the 2 weeks I was to be away, Kenneth would strip it, when he had some spare time, to see what it would need to be put back safely on the road.
Attachment 332222

Nick323 07-11-2012 03:16 AM

What needs to be fixed
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When I returned from Moçambique on May the 28'th I was greeted by Kenneth presenting me a loooooong list of spares needed :eek:
The front suspension was absolutely shot. There was not a bushing that did not need replacing & the schocks were leaking as the PO must have dropped the car sometime.
I have never seen a spring like thisAttachment 332443 I can only imagine that this was a shortened drop spring, that the owner decided to lengthen again by tying one end to the rafters & the other to a weighty object- such as a forklift :tsk:

I decided to pop for Bilstein Sport shocks with standard springs all round. I do not want a dropped vehicle in a country that also has gravel roads :eeps: Furthermore I doub't that I would achieve noticeable better handling on the road through a drop.
Nice if your friend is Product manger for Bilstein :D
The rest of the suspension components I ordered today from Febi together with some service items
Attachment 332444
/ by 8 to give you USD :thumbup:

Strangely enough the rear seemed to be OK, considering the state of the front :confused:
It takes quite something to strip the steering hub splinesAttachment 332442

Nick323 07-16-2012 06:05 AM

What is being fixed
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We have been very busy, quite often Dynotuning 2 cars a day :bigpimp:

Whenever Kenneth had some spare time, he decided to spend some time on the Bimmer. So that when all the parts come in from Febi, we need not sort out other issues, but can get this back on the road :drive:

First he cleaned out all the carpeting etc.
The front seats are worn Attachment 333050 and will need to be upholsterd.
Luckily Ken managed to get the mechanics working again.
Maybe I can also get some more sporty looking seats somewhere :dunno:
Here BMW parts are scarce :cry:

The rear emergency brake shoes were running on metal, so I got them relined.

Then we assaulted the electrics. Attachment 333048
On the way up from Cape Town I noticed that only the Fuel Gauge & Speedometer (not trip meter) worked on the gauge cluster, whilst the christmas tree above the rear-view mirror went on & off whenever I hit a bump. I suppose that is what is referred to as ICE : popcorn:
Most things have been fixed now with only the RPM counter & econogauge to go.
Strangely enough a lot of wires seem to have been cut :confused:
Things like wiring the radio direct to the battery instead of to fuse 21 amazed me.
I also noticed a few fuse holders have the cables not seated in the plastic of the fuse box base anymore. Wonder where to get those terminals ?
Note that in the throtttle body above, there are NOS nozzles installed. I am no fan of laughing gas though:rolleyes:

Although all the lights have been resurected Attachment 333049 I think I need to also replace here, unless one of you has a clever idea on how to get them to shine brightly again. We have big animals on the road :wow:

BrittnyMarie 07-17-2012 12:20 AM

Woowee! I thought my project car was a lot of really are building this car up from the ashes! With all the work you've done now, what all do you have left do accomplish? Any tips would also be greatly appreciated since I just started my venture :P

Nick323 07-17-2012 02:28 AM

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Brittney, I must give you a bit of background.
I own a Speedshop, so physical work & engineering does not cost me :)
These older cars are becomming rare at the breakers, as a lot of students have driven the cr@p out of them.
So what I look at is that the body is straight, the interior is redoable and that the parts that you cannot get aftermarket are not too worn.

The last is an issue on this vehicle, as I desperately need a steering wheel with slip ring.Attachment 333137
& the dash looks shot Attachment 333138
I have heard talk of people who repair dashboard cracks, but this....
& I am scared to find out what BMW here will charge me :bawling:

Otherwise I am still hunting for a coolant reservoir to exchange for the Golf unit
Things like the missing accelerator pedal will probably have to be exchanged for a golf unit, as I doub't to get that anywhere but the agents.

What I do, is make a list of parts with OEM numbers & present that to the agents.
This will let me know a worst case scenario- pricewise. Quite often though, one is pleasantly surprised :angel:
Though not having a valid VIN number Attachment 333142 makes things difficult :dunno:

BrittnyMarie 07-17-2012 07:08 AM

I'm jealous..I'm about to start school to become a mechanic and owning a speed shop has been my life long dream! :)

I have two dashes that are also cracked unfortunately :( what I'm investing in is a dash cover because it adds a little unique touch to the car if you get a different color :P

I have two parts car e30s with the parts you need but you live a world away so not much I can help with :(

I wish the best to you though & definitely keep updating with pictures this is inspiring me to keep working on my project car! :)

jleon426 07-17-2012 09:53 AM

very interesting, and cool:thumbup:

Nick323 07-18-2012 03:32 AM

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I think Mechanic is a good choice, as far to few people still want to work with their hands today :thumbdwn:
Concentrate on Autotronics and you have it made :thumbup:
I understand your signiature, as I still enjoy working after over 20 years :) If it were not for the human factor...

The dashcover currently in there Attachment 333279 is not very inspirational :(
Have you got a better idea ?

Living in Namibia has its :) side.
As it is so close to heaven we have to fly in most things.
In the end I know that I will have to freight parts in (as I am currently doing suspension parts from Bilstein & Febi). Just South Africa is a lot closer than Pensylvania ;)

Main thing with any project or hobby is to keep seeing it as fun & not as a chore :angel:

BmwMan92 07-18-2012 04:48 AM

Ill be watching this thread

BrittnyMarie 07-18-2012 08:12 AM

For the dash, I would say to either paint it something wild or get a dash cover that's a crazy color and spice the car up :)

I've always wanted a bilstein suspension kit for my car but I haven't gotten to that portion of the project yet (just the interior is getting all redone as of now) in my car.

Nambia sounds kind of like the place in Alaska where the rest of my family lives, they have to do a lot of stuff with flying places to buy clothes and different things and what not, so I can relate to your situation over there :)

But you're exactly right about a project not being a chore..I've always thought the same way and love working on cars so me getting a project car to work on the summer before I go to school was a huge accomplishment to me and I'm loving it :) My dream later in life is to build a car completely up from the ground all by myself and make it one awesome car :)

Nick323 07-19-2012 04:03 AM

Cracked Dash fix ?

Originally Posted by BrittnyMarie (Post 6958385)
For the dash, I would say to either paint it something wild or get a dash cover that's a crazy color and spice the car up :)

Come on, send some Pic's : popcorn:

If your suspension works, leave upgrading that till later. The stock Sachs & Boge units were a very good ridabilty/sport tradeoff, in my humble opinion :thumbup:

In Namibia we do most things by road. Untill recently speed limits were not enforced :D
The rest of Africa you go by air, as the infrastructure is so shot :rolleyes:

Nick323 07-19-2012 04:23 AM

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Since my customers could not get their cars here in time, I decided to assault the wiring of the 323 :mad:, or rather let Kenneth do the ugly work Attachment 333367
My German swearing would have improved imensely by this excercise. Kenneth is just able to cooly work his way forward without a inkling of getting upset :thumbup:

Whilst he got down to that I hooked up my Fuel pressure gauge Attachment 333366 and immediately got one answer to the vehicle performing so poorly :angel:

The PO had rigged a failing pushbutton to start the vehicle, as it only did so intermittently via the key.
The cause was found to be a failing molex-type connector where the barb is US Attachment 333368

The same issue is also the be found in the Fuse-box; where the connector holding one leg of some fuses seem to be slipping out of the box. Initially I went the ugly way & wired in some aftermarke fuse holders Attachment 333369
But I would like to bring the fuse-box back to the way München wanted it to be :thumbup:
Any ideas there ?

_Ethrty-Andy_ 07-19-2012 04:32 AM


Originally Posted by Nick323 (Post 6960256)
But I would like to bring the fuse-box back to the way München wanted it to be :thumbup:
Any ideas there ?

body loom swap. **** playing with the wiring in the fusebox. but thats just me not wanting fires

BMW lebanon 07-19-2012 06:49 AM

nice project man this is same as my car, i also put a lot of work to restore mine. what engine do you plan to install ?

Nick323 07-20-2012 01:42 AM

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Getting a Body loom in Windhoek is unlikely :cry:

So far I have not yet thought about a engine swop :dunno:
Firstly I need to get this thing back on the road & see what else needs to be done to get it working as it should :bigpimp:
Once I have sorted out the mechanical idiosyncracies that are bound to show themselves, I will concentrate on the Motor.
Sharief said he installed a 2.7 Crank & rods with flat top pistons to get a lower compression ratio, for his failed turbo application. I can only check that once I pull the top & spec it out. Good time then for me to port the head also :thumbup:
Should the compression be low enough I'd have to see where to get a good cast bi-turbo manifold from. That is a prooven set-up of mine with T25 units. I do have a T3 turbo lying around, from a 4AGTE race motor, but do not like the lag it tends to give.

If the compression is high then I'll go for camshafts Attachment 333514 As you can see I have enough on the rack to the right of the Bimmer :)

Then I have plenty of headers to choose from Attachment 333513 There should be over a 100 hanging there :)
Yes, that is a R80GS :angel:

No more work to be done on the 323 till the end of the month. Except of course if Ken gets a chance.
I first have to service my mothers RAV, that just had a performance clutch installed.
Next week I'll be disappearing into the bush & hopefully upon my return I will be greeted by boxes of new parts ;)

Piston_broke 07-20-2012 04:12 PM

Interesting thread. I also have a 323 coupe that falls exactly into the description you mentioned earlier.
That is, it was bashed around town for god knows how long by a young guy who, it would appear, only put fuel in it and large stickers on the rear window :thumbdwn:

A work in progress, like many I guess comes to mind.

Looking forward to see your old girl back running properly.


Nick323 07-30-2012 08:12 AM

I'm back...
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What a nice few relaxing days away from it all :D
Sadly no boxes full of parts awaited me :thumbdwn:
While I was away, Kenneth did a few things to impress me :thumbup:

Firstly he did start to splice up the loom, some idiot had cut up Attachment 334872
I know that we will still have a lot of wiring issues, but hopefully they will be addressed just as easily.

Somehow the check control board has been nuked slightlyAttachment 334873 :mad:

I asked him to get me a quote for outstanding parts from BMW Attachment 334874 and most items do not seem that expensive, except for the dash :yikes:
Even the underbonnet insulation Attachment 334875 is not as dear as expected :) Although I suppose that I will try use some insulating matting I still have lying around from my Dyno room deadening.

Now to get the instrument cluster to my pal Werner, so he can get the VDO odometer working again, as well as a few other things.
I also see no flashing Check light and have the feeling that it has been taped over.
This week will be busy for me, so I will probably only get down to this again in the one following.

Terrains 07-30-2012 10:25 AM


Originally Posted by BmwMan92 (Post 6958087)
Ill be watching this thread

+1 :thumbup:

BMW lebanon 07-30-2012 10:04 PM

wiring issues are such a headache. i still havent fixed the check board thing in my car.

Nick323 07-31-2012 02:41 AM

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Wiring on those cars was notorious :rolleyes:
Amazingly few burnt down here, which cannot be said for the VW Variant with EFi :yikes:
For me this is less of an issue and will hopefully get Ken comfortable with fault-finding Automotive electronics. We do a lot of work in that field and have signal generators, spectrum analyzers etc. to help do the job :thumbup:
Main thing is to understand what the factory tried to achieve, instead of what you want to achieve ;)

For instance when I got this, the Rev counter was not working.
What I did is find the RPM signal where it leaves the ECU en route to the Rev counter with a scope Attachment 334974
I do not like to trace wires with a multimeter or, even worse, a check lamp :tsk:
Then you just have to see where the signal goes missing & voila :bigpimp:
Attachment 334973

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