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Kobra's Project E30

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I came across a solid deal on a purple tag steering rack from an E46 compact, so I picked it up.

This rack will swap directly with the E36 rack that I already had, so the install was a breeze. I wanted to redo the high pressure power steering line to move it away from where the exhaust would need to go. I ordered some AN fittings and some hose to make a custom solution.


I got the system back together, but something wasn't right with the power steering. The system was no longer providing much assist, and seemed to lag behind the steering wheel input. No leaks were found. Will have to investigate further.

It was time to move house once again. I'll miss having a nice warm dry garage to hide from the weather in. :(

Edited by Kobra

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The project went on hold for a few months while I settled into the new place.

The touring was able to drive around under it's own power, but the power steering system was still not happy. At first I assumed the new purple tag rack was damaged, so I swap the E36 rack back in, but the problem persisted. Then I tried using the original high pressure hose that I had bent to work. That didn't work either. I was starting to run out of ideas.

Meanwhile, I'd managed to piece together the bits I needed to build the differential setup I wanted.
A 2.93 gearset and LSD center were assembled into an E30 medium case housing.
This should pair nicely with the 1:1 ratio 5th gear in the ZF 5 speed gearbox. Looking at around 2600rpm at 100kph which, if my 328i E36 is anything to go by, should result in pretty good fuel economy.

I gave the case a good clean and fresh coat of paint.

Paint drying by the heater.

The new diff is good to go, so yanked the stock 4.44 small case from the touring. Interesting to compare them side-by-side.


Diff about to go in.

Edited by Kobra
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With the differential taken care of, I decided to dig deeper into the power steering issue.

A forum member suggested there could be a restriction in a system somewhere. The banjo bolts from the purple tag rack came with what seemed like check valves built into them. I tried swapping them for the regular banjo bolts from the E36 rack, but that was not the issue.  d1gocHK.jpg

At this point, the only part I hadn't swapped was the p/s pump itself. I had also noticed a squealing noise from alternator when the car was just idling (even just with chopped headers for an exhaust). Upon removing the alternator to get at the power steering pump, I realised it's bearings were rooted. I guess the water had finally taken it's toll on the engine's auxiliaries.
Luckily I found replacements for both parts from a local BMW enthusiast - Thanks Arron

These were swiftly bolted bolted into the car along with the purple tag rack and custom high pressure hose. Once I got the belt on, filled the p/s system with fluid, and bled the p/s system, I started the car. The squeal was gone, and the power steering was working nicely again!

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Now it was time make some progress with the exhaust situation.

A few months prior, I purchased a used custom twin pipe exhaust system from a local. The problem was that it built for an E30 with an M20. A friend was looking for an exhaust for an E30 325i, and it was a bolt-on solution, so sold the exhaust to them.

The plan at this point was to build my own stainless exhaust system. After many hours of youtube videos about TIG, I picked up a used welder and some equipment to get stuck in. After I'd played around with some simple test pieces, I decided to get started on the exhaust.

I chose to do a 2.5" single pipe system. The factory M52 exhaust manifolds would be modified to accept V-band flanges. A 2-into-1 section would be formed to merge both 2" pipes into a single 2.5" pipe with another flange. The rest of the system would be a single piece consisting of a flexible section, a resonator in the middle, and then a muffler at the back.

I ordered a Vibrant muffler and resonator. I also picked up some 304 stainless pipes and mandrel bends.

With only having weekends and some evening, it was going to take several weeks to complete. I found a semi-permanent spot for the touring to sit while I worked on the exhaust.

I didn't get a great deal of photos of this process as I was still a complete amateur at TIG, and I was focusing on learning how to weld. Here is what I did get.














Steering joint clearance could be better, but it's not terrible.

Complete system mocked up with zip ties for support.

Sound check.

I'm quite happy with the result :D 

Added some mounts to system.


Modified factory mounts to bolt onto the muffler.

I also added an extra flexi joint in the merge section to allow for differential movement due to thermal expansion.

Got it all installed, and finally back on the ground again.

And with that, the exhaust is done...mostly. I warped one of the v-band flanges during welding, and this has resulted in a mild leak. I will need to get the mating faces flattened off at some point.

Edited by Kobra
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After that, things went on hold for a few months while I tried to figure out what I wanted to do for wheels. 

A little while ago, I picked up a 5 lug adapter kit from a r3vlimited user. I was planning to use it on the coupe, but then abandoned that idea when I got a front RX7 brake kit (designed for the factory 4 lug).

Well, I was still hoping to use the RX7 brakes on the touring with the TRM C1 wheels. But that would require spacers (nope), or chopping the front struts up and having the coilover sleeve shortened and welded lower down. That seemed like a lot of work.

So a few weeks ago, I decided to do a 5 Lug conversion on the touring. The front would be done with the adapter kit, standard E36 front wheel bearing/hub, E36 328i rotors and calipers. The rear would be done with trailing arms from a 318ti, and potentially E34 brakes at some point.

Remember those 16" Style 5 wheels I picked a while back? They're going on the touring. :D 
Freshly wrapped in some Michelin rubber. That is some good motivation right there.

The touring had been sitting under a cover for a few months. Time to get it airborne again.

I had already managed to source the parts I needed for the front end, so I jumped on that first. The E30 front brakes and hubs all came off without an issue. I mocked up the hub adapter with the E36 hubs, Things fit nicely.

I slapped a used 328i rotor on and got a wheel bolted on to check for fitment.


Not too shabby. :)

The main nut of the hub adapter doesn't have a locking tap like the factory setup. Instead, it uses a left hand threaded locking nut. This requires a thread on the inside of the end of the spindle. This is done with a left hand M16x1.5 thread. Quite and annoying size to find. 

Ready to go with the caliper adapter.

New rotors with some EBC greenstuff pads.

All bolted up. Here you can see the L/H locking bolt.

Not bad.

So this is basically where I am at the moment.
I'm still waiting on trailing arms to do the rear end 5 lug. I'm going to drop the whole rear subframe, clean it up, and then paint it. Then I'll rebuild it with the 318ti arms, some poly bushings and new stainless brake lines.

If anyone around Christchurch has some E36 318ti compact rear suspension available, I'm interested.

That's it for the massive post dump. :D 


Edited by Kobra
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Nice work bro, good to see some mint e30s in Christchruch again

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Unfortunately, the engine in a friends car just blew.
The good news is that this car happens to be an e36 318ti, and he just wants it gone.

Looks like I've just found a parts car. :)

Hopefully picking up tomorrow.

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So we picked up the parts compact.

I'm only interested in the trailing arms, so I don't care what happens to the rest. 

Someone is interested in the car as the body is straight, it's still registered, and they have a damaged car with a good engine. Have worked out a deal to give the car to him in exchange for the trailing arms from his other car. 

Meanwhile, I made some progress by pulling out the rear sub-frame from the touring.

Diff and axles removed.

Trailing arms off.

Embracing fire to remove the worst of the sub-frame bushings.


Should be able to remove the remaining metal ring of the bushings with a hacksaw.
Once that's done, I'll clean it up, give it a new coat of paint, and install some poly bushes.

That's it for this update.

Edited by Kobra
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Well, I've been busy over the last couple of months. Big picture dump incoming.

Got some powerflex poly bushings a while back.



FInally got the 318ti trailing arms from a donor car. 


Started stripping both sets of arms down.

Here you can see the hub offset difference.K2edgjP.jpg



Time for cleaning.




As it turned out, both wheel bearings were gone. New bearings went in.



Ready to paint.




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Cleaning up the brakes.


Applied a rubberized underbody coating to the trailing arms and subframe. The can said apply a thick coat, I possibly went too thick...



New brake lines install in the front.



Getting ready to reassemble.




I didn't get many shots of reassembly.







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Moved into position, ready to install into the car.



A new day, time to install the rear-end.



And just like that...



Driveshaft, brakes lines, and handbrake cables were all reinstalled.

Testing fitting a wheel.


Exhaust heat shields in.



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That brings us to this weekend. A few things left before I can put it back on the ground.

The front control arm bushes were upgraded. Had some trouble getting one of the front bushings off the control arm.



Lollipops cleaned up, painted, with Powerflex bushes pressed in.


They were quickly bolted back into the car along with the exhaust.


The brakes were bled and the wheels went on.
Finally ready to drop back on the ground. :D 





Looking good! I am very happy with how well the 16x7 et20 style 5s fit.

The front and rear will need to be lowered some more. The front is still on the 6kg spring that comes with the BC Gold kit. The rear sits a bit higher now as I got higher rate, 8kg spring to help support the extra weight of the touring rear.

The fenders will all need rolling, but that's a job for another weekend.


Edited by Kobra
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So the engine is running a little rough after sitting for a while. High idle when cold, and it seemed to have a bit of a miss.

I hooked up my laptop with INPA to figure out what was going on, and found several fault codes.

  • The cam position sensor seems to have gone bad.
  • And the VANOS appears to be jammed.
  • Possible O2 sensor fault code, but didn't come back after running for a while.

The cam sensor is not a biggie. I picked up a new one and installed it earlier today. Code was immediate gone, and so was the high idle.

The car is still idling rough a seems like it's down a cylinder or 2 at times. My theory is that this could be caused by the vanos being stuck in the advanced position.
When I reassembled the intake vanos timing chain sprocket, the timing did not want to move very easily. I wasn't sure if it was going to be an issue, so I left it. I probably should have sorted out the issue at the time, because now It's clearly an issue. Anyway, I've ordered some replacement parts, so hopefully I can get it sorted in a couple weeks.

Meanwhile, I may have to do some work on the exhaust to gain more clearance to the lower steering joint. I'll also need to roll the wheel arches, and adjust the suspension to drop it down more.

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Looks fantastic.

How does it feel to drive now you've put all the goodies on?

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I'm pretty stoked, but there are still a few things to worry about. The differential makes a whiny sound when coasting.
I think it wasn't put back together properly, and the input shaft bearing/crush sleeve isn't right.

I'm very excited to get all the kinks worked out, and get it back on the road. I wouldn't mind going to the E30 Mega meet this year. :D 

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1 hour ago, Kobra said:

I'm very excited to get all the kinks worked out, and get it back on the road. I wouldn't mind going to the E30 Mega meet this year. :D 

Do it! Great drive and weekend away, have done it twice, unlikely to make it this year myself sadly

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