I picked up my e30 at Bavarian Motorsport today. In a word: wow. I’d heard that suspension can improve performance but I had no idea that the effect would be so remarkable. Point form notes:
I am extremely happy and while the upgrades were not cheap it will pay for itself in future enjoyment. I might not be able to sleep tonight, I may have to get up early and drive. The plan is to put 100 miles on the suspension this weekend so it can settle and be ready for a front end alignment and new wheels next week. Then a week after that I will be apart from the car again for some body work. I’m going to miss it.
I used to be the kind of person who thought cars were silly. Why would you be into cars? I almost regarded an interest in cars as non-sensical as having an interest in toasters. But now I think that if someone isn’t passionate about cars that they just haven’t driven the right car yet.
The rear suspension parts my car needs are still on order (probably until next week) so I’m going to pick my car up at the shop and enjoy driving it until they come in. Here’s the highlight of the work that was done:
I need to source some parts for the next round of repairs:
So I was talking with someone about car modifications and he said something that I’d never heard before. Paraphrasing:
A car is designed to perform over a broad range of conditions and driver abilities. When you modify a car to improve performance or handling you trade off something else. In some cases the margin for driver error is reduced.
Philosophically that explains so much — like why it’s so easy to put a Porsche into the ditch and why that’s o.k., or at least the Porsche is functioning (read: failing) as designed. For someone like me, an aspiring track driver with little experience and a noob mechanic, it’s good to keep this in mind when considering upgrades. Even seemingly little modifications like adding a short shifter has a tradeoff: yes the throw is shorter but it takes more force.
My car is fine! My mechanic even had difficulty getting it to overheat: He threw blankets over the engine bay in order to get the engine temperature up to 92C and that was after driving it hard. Aux (electrical backup) fan came on as it should, everything else is working as it should. The coolant overflow I noted was what could / would / should happen if someone opens the reservoir when the system is hot and still under pressure.
Shortly after I got the car the thermostat went, and then the fan clutch went. So I won’t learn what “normal” is until I drive it some more and stop making changes (read: fixes) to it. The e30 thermometer is flaky and prone to bouncing around – it’s a real thermometer so any fluctuations in temperature are represented on the dial. As long as it’s not into the red then the engine should be fine. I might install an aftermarket thermometer so I have some other, more accurate view of what’s going on. We’ll see if I can handle the crazy readings or not.
Thankfully the engine is fine and I can proceed with my other plans with some peace of mind. Since it’s at the shop now I’m going to leave the car there until next monday to have some greatly anticipated upgrades and repairs done. It will feel like a new car when I get it back.
I found an even better steering wheel -BMW M-Tech model to replace the 3-spoke Sport wheel I have now. It needed quite a bit of work as the leather was cracked and someone had leaned a car door against it which scuffed the leather and crushed the foam padding. On a scale of 10 it’s probably a 4/10.
I used Leatherique Leather Restoration products for this. This is my third time using this system (second steering wheel) and I’m getting better each time.
Theoretically I should be able to use 1500 grit sand paper to wet-sand down any spots where the leather die has gone on unevenly or a droplet has formed but everytime I’ve done this on a steering wheel it just sands right through the new dye. Instead, gently dry sanding for only the shallowest of problem areas seems allowed. It’s more important to put on thin coats and take your time in the first place rather than fix it later.
I’d rate the wheel a 8 or 9/10 now. The leather used on these wheels doesn’t usually have much texture to begin with and after decades of wear and tear and my restoration there is even less leather grain left. Completed job:
So much for “The Conclusion” of this tale. The story until now:
The last repairs were last weekend. On Thursday:
Get home, let it idle. Temperature goes a little over halfway but not to 3/4. Tapping the gauge sometimes made the temperature go back down. Fan is spinning great, chews up a cardboard tube nicely. Turn the car off.
My conclusion is a head gasket problem, hopefully nothing fatal to the engine. I’m going to have it towed to Bavarian Motorsport tomorrow since the problem is beyond my resources to repair as I don’t have a garage. Here’s what I would need to check if I was doing it on my own:
It will be a few days before my mechanic will be able to get back to me, I’m sure. Fixing this could be expensive so I’m thinking about my options:
Really, option 3 is the most attractive even though it will financially set back all my other plans for a while. It’d be great to get a 240-300 HP engine in my little car and put a silver lining on all these problems. But it would be really nice if it was something cheaper to fix.
I needed some clips, grommets and caps for the upcoming replacement of my door trim and I find that BMW of South Atlanta has the best price for little fitment items like that – often 1/2 or 1/4 the price of ECSTuning, Pelican Parts or BavAuto. I added a headlight knob to fill out the order because it was cheap.
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