Stealth Springs into Spring

spring comparison

Thanks to the break in weather, I was able to start the suspension work this past weekend. The photo above shows the difference in size between the stock rear spring and the Bavauto spring.

Bilstein HS vs Sport Shocks

Shorter springs require shorter shocks. This photo shows a comparison of the Bilstein HD shock with the Sport Shock.

Stock Spring

This photo shows the stock spring prior to removal. Changing springs and shocks on the rear is fairly simple.

  1. With the car on jackstands, remove the wheels, and support the differential with a floor jack.
  2. Lower the exhaust by disconnecting the two rear brackets and the rubber hangar. Support the exhaust in the lowered position.
  3. Remove the bolt from the differential housing that mounts the differential to the subframe. Slowly lower the jack. This will take the pressure off of your axle shafts. You may have to disconnect your speedometer sensor if the wire is too short to drop.
  4. Remove the nuts that hold the swaybar to the trailing arm. Use another jack to support the trailing arm and disconnect the shock at the base. Disconnect the shock from inside of the trunk, but don’t let it fall. Remove the shock.
  5. Press down on the trailing arm. If your springs are really worn out, you may be able to remove them by hand. I didn’t have that luck so use a spring compressor to carefully remove them.
  6. Replace spring pads and reinstall new spring. Jack up the trailing arm a bit to hold it in place.
  7. Install the shock from inside the trunk. Now is a good time to replace the gasket under the shock mount. Think about adding reinforcing plates or a strut bar at the same time.
  8. Reattach the lower shock bolt. Tighten all bolts to torque specifications.
  9. Repeat for other side.
  10. Raise the differential and reattach bolt. Torque to specification.
  11. Attach swaybar bolts and wheels. Remember to torque the lugs.
  12. Attach exhaust hangar and brackets.

springs installed

The photo above shows the new springs installed. Notice the difference in height by the gap at the top.

strut bar

I also added the strut bar. I even changed out the brake calipers while I had everything available.

new brakes

This final picture shows everything put back together with the new RA1s and Konig wheels.

new wheels and tires

Compare that to the off-roader height from before the change.

4 x 4

The final change was the addition of a new lip spoiler. It’s actually not the right one for this car, but with the lowered ride height and shallower design, it has a better chance of remaining attached after multiple autocross cone-crunches. Notice the ride height in the front. That will come down when the front springs are changed out.

front spoiler

New Seat Covers for BMW 325iC

New Seat Covers

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. The E30 convertible is pretty well sorted out now. I think I have one, maybe two more projects to do on it this summer but as a daily driver it’s all set. Work to date:

Strut Bar

I have the parts to replace the rotors and brake pads. Now I just need the time to do it. The stress bar has really eliminated much of the cowl shake, but I still need to replace the struts and should probably replace the springs while I’m at it. Once that’s all done, I can turn my attention to a new headliner for the hard top and then (hopefully) get the car painted in the Spring.

All of that work and the parts I already have on hand brings me to about $4,800 invested. With a decent paint job and some new suspension work I will have exceeded my $5,000 budget, but we’ll have a pretty decent car.

New Seat Covers

New Project Car, BMW 325iC

87 325iC

My wife would always joke about wanting a convertible when she turned 40. The challenge was to find one that would carry all three of us and enough gear to actually go on a trip with it. As a kid, I used to ride around on the parcel shelf of my parent’s Alfa, which probably wasn’t the brightest thing to do, but back then a “child seat” was the carpeted hump in front of the rear seats in the 20 foot station wagon.

So I got to thinking, why wait, since 40 is still several years away. I found this car listed for sale by a fellow member of the local BMW club. It’s basically a sound daily driver, high mileage (165k), tired paint and interior.

Front Seats

A solid $2k car that with a little TLC could be an excellent $4k car, but not likely to ever be worth much more than $5k. With that in mind, I launched my little scheme and achieved total surprise.

Here’s my cunning plan: Safety; comfort; performance; and appearance. The first step is to pass the safety inspection and get the car titled in Maryland. Level-set the maintenance items (new tires; oil change; change the fluids; timing belt, etc.) and make sure the car is safe to drive. Next is to clean it up and find some decent seat covers.

Back Seats

The leather is not torn, but much of the stitching is coming un-done. It actually cleaned-up better than I thought it would.

After Initial Cleaning

The top is new and the windshield was just replaced. The headlights are new and all of the major bulbs have been replaced. (It came with a hard-top as well, but it needs a new headliner.) Once I get a cover for the steering wheel, the comfort items should be about done for now. (Not sure how to get a cupholder into the car, but I’m sure someone has a slick option for that since this was made pre-big-gulp.)

Once we get some miles on the car, I’ll figure out what can be done performance-wise. I don’t think much beyond some plugs, new coil, and a better air filter. More will come later. Finally it would be nice to get a new coat of paint. Assuming everything else hasn’t busted the budget, maybe try to get a basic respray that will last 3-5 years.