It’s Just a Chip

The chip

The hood on the BMW has one of the worst paint jobs I’ve ever seen. It’s like the history of paint. I think there’s at least 4 layers, the top coat being a very cheap, very thick respray one of the previous owners had done after something fell on the hood. The paint was burned in several places, and had about a dozen significant chunks missing. The entire leading edge was one chip after another. While washing the car on Saturday, the water pressure from the hose was enough to dislodge a big chunk of paint. When I first bought the car, I painted the larger chips in as best I could with touch up paint as seen in the photo above. After I finished the Aero Grille on the MINI, I thought I’d try to fill one of the holes.

first one is free

It was fairly easy to clean out and fill. Once I got to sanding, I started to wet sand out some scratches.


Which of course lead to more grinding.


Which lead to more filling.


At some point you just have to stop or you’ll go nuts. I’ll never get the thing to look like new. And with a new hood running only about $300, it’s just not worth it to try. It can’t look worse than when I started so why not try to prime it up and paint it and see what happens.

Primered hood

I got the first coat of primer on last night. It still needs to be sanded and there are a couple of rough spots to work out, but it’s about 90 percent there.

Making it Blow Again

A common fault with older E30s is that the heater blower often only works on the highest setting. You should be happy that it works at all because it is much easier to repair/replace the resistor that controls the speed, than it is to replace the entire blower. This project isn’t very complicated. Give yourself about an hour to complete it. As usual, these instructions are provided for your entertainment only. Use at your own risk: No wagering.

You’ll need some electrical contact cleaner, 6mm and 9mm sockets, phillips screwdriver, and a varied assortment of socket extensions for this project. You may need to also replace some zip ties as well. If you’re an optimist, you can hope all you’ll need is to clean the resistor once you get to it. If you’re a pessimist, go ahead and buy the resistor before you start. You can get it at your BMW parts counter or from Bavarian Autosport.

First off, double check that your blower still works on the highest setting, then disconnect the battery.

The panel you’ll need to remove first is at the back of the engine compartment. Remove the gasket that runs along the top. You’ll have to remove 4 bolts to free up the panel. The top two are easily visible, but the lower two are hard to get to. If you have a strut bar like I do, you’ll want to remove the wire bundle that is attached to this panel so you have some room to maneuver. That involves removing two screws and possibly removing some zip ties.


Once the first panel is removed, you’ll see the blower in the middle. There are two white straps holding on the blower cover. You’ll need to carefully open these and remove the panel by sliding it down and pulling it out. Be careful not to break the cover or the tie straps. Now you’ll see the exposed blower.


At the bottom of the blower, in the middle is the resistor module. Yours will probably be brown and quite dirty. In the photo you see the new light blue replacement. Remove the module by gently pulling it from the arms that extend down. Pull directly toward you. With the module removed, clean the electrical contacts on the blower. Be careful not to drip contact cleaner down into the heater. (At this point, if you were to reconnect the power, your blower would still work on the highest setting. If you want to test that, be careful not to damage the exposed fins of the blower. Remember to disconnect the power when you are done.)


You can either attempt to clean and replace your existing module, or simply plug in the new one. I tried to clean mine first, but ended up buying a new one when that didn’t work. Make sure the model is seated and reconnect the power. Then test if it works.


Reverse your steps by first replacing the blower cover and reconnecting the tie straps. Be careful working the top of the cover in first, then slide down into place.

Replace the outer cover and put the gasket back in place. Replace your wire bundle if you moved it and replace any zip ties you cut.

Enjoy multi-speed ventilation again.

BMW Convertible Interior

New Shifter

The carpet replacement project proved a bit more complicated than I had anticipated. Once I got the seats out and pulled out the various console pieces, I pulled up the old carpet and found that the rear passenger-side footwell had started to rust.

Rust in footwell

Thank goodness for POR and fiberglass repair kits.


I was also amazed at the amout of junk under the consoles. I think the car was parked outside with the top up for quite a while at some point.


New Interior

BMW Convertible Headliner

It has been a while since I’ve posted about progress being made to the BMW. I finally managed to repaint the right rear bumper cover that I repaired some weeks ago. (I still think the guy who did my MD state inspection scraped the right side of the car against a wall…) I managed to repair the broken plastic, smooth out the damage, prime, repaint and clearcoat. Now it’s probably the best painted piece of the car. I’ll try to get a photo of it soon.

In the process of making the repairs, I discovered two great products. The first is a special type of paint for chip repairs called Dr. Color Chip. It really works as advertised at repairing paint chips without blobs unlike most touch-up kits. It also works over large areas to restore some shine to tired and abused painted surfaces like the leading edge of your hood. The other product is the touch-up kit from Paintworld. I ordered the kit to repaint the bumper cover. I was able to apply two coats of primer, two coats of paint, and three coats of clearcoat in the span of a single afternoon. I’m almost tempted to repaint the hood with this stuff. Almost.

Today I put a new headliner (with some skillful sewing help from my lovely wife) in the hardop. It’s getting cold enough around here to want to switch to the hardtop, and I though it would be nice to not have bare fiberglass over our heads. The hardtop was a freebie that was thrown in with the purchase of the car, mostly because the guy who sold the car couldn’t think of how to get rid of it. It was covered in mildew and had a nasty smell. I ripped out the old headliner (what was left of it) and bleached out the mildew.

I found a website called Stockinteriors selling headliner material and decided to give it a try. Normally, modern headliners fit over some sort of board that then attaches to the car. This one would have to be applied directly to the roof so there wasn’t much room for error. We made a paper pattern, then a cloth mock-up and finally the real thing. It took some adjustment to fit, but it looks pretty good. I also bought some new carpet from Stockinteriors and will try to fit it in the coming days.

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