BMW e30 In Santa Cruz CA

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BMW e30 In Santa Cruz CA

June 2, 2013 photos, status

A month ago I replaced my BMW MTech I steering wheel with a Momo Mod 7 wheel that provides enough room between pedals and wheel to fit my legs when applying heel-toe. It came with a Momo horn button but I bought a BMW horn button from an Amazon retailer for $20. Unfortunately the colour of the emblem is not even the correct shade of blue.

I decided to use the stock Momo button until I could find the real deal. A search revealed that Momo did make horn buttons with emblems licensed by BMW at some time in the past but I couldn’t find one for sale. Searching BMW forums turned up only dead ends except for one thread on Bimmerforums that contained a lead.

I took a gamble and contacted a user by the name of “vapor”.

Vapor travels back and forth between the US and Japan every few weeks and works his connections overseas to get rare parts. Communication was sporadic: It took a week to hear back from him. He might be going to Japan with a small stop over in the US at which time he could mail the package. It wouldn’t be cheap. He’d contact me later.

Then nothing for 3 weeks until I got a message that the package was in the mail.

Real Momo BMW Emblem Horn Button with Reproduction Version

The authentic Momo BMW horn button differs from the reproduction item in a few notable ways:

  1. The real deal has “MOMO” embossed into the plastic on the back of the button.
  2. The bezel is matte plastic with a shiny black ring around the BMW emblem. No excessive fake chrome.
  3. The emblems has the right colour and is sealed in resin. There is not texture to the emblem.
  4. The real deal also has only one wire for connecting it to the horn circuit. The circuit is completed by grounding out via the horn ring.
  5. Back of Momo BMW Horn Button
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    My Mod 7 steering wheel is not “period correct” for an e30 but it’s a cheap and functional wheel. The addition of the BMW horn button makes it seem to belong a little more.

    BMW e30 with Momo Mod 7 Steering Wheel and BMW Momo Horn Button

June 2, 2013 cosmetic

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Found myself awake at 3:00AM: I could be driving right now. And it will probably make me happier than a couple hours of sleep. I could be driving right now. I got up, drank some water and dressed in the living room with the light off. Grabbed my pack and left the house. As I pulled out I kept the RPMs low to avoid waking the neighbors. Silicon Valley was still tucked soundly in it’s bed and I was already putting miles between where I was and where I could be. 25 minutes later I was through Santa Cruz and hitting all green lights on Mission. Before long I was on Hwy 1 proper, watching rock walls and coastal valleys appear and disappear in the wash of my headlights, racing with the dashed center line northward. While buzzing past Pigeon Point lighthouse I rolled down all the windows and inhaled as much fresh ocean air as I could before turning inland at San Gregorio State Beach. I saw a buck as still as granite in the light of my high beams and watched him scramble across the road after I passed. I stopped at the intersection of La Honda and Skyline and cut the motor just to listen to the wind softly rustling the redwoods. Their spires scraped the clouds, back lit by the faded white glow of the city below us. My tires chirped happily as I descended from the summit in 3rd gear. Switchbacks soon turned to highway and I let the RPMs climb to the red line as I merged with the commuter traffic beginning to appear.

When I pulled into the parking lot at the gym for my AM workout the odometer read 95 miles. Just shy of a 100 mile sprint.

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May 30, 2013 driver's log

After 20 years of being in the engine bay of an e30 any kind of plastic starts to… look like a cross between dried snot and old cheese. The coolant reservoir suffers the worst because without regular flushes the contents turn slimy and seep into the plastic.

Of course this in no way impedes functionality so replacement ranks low on the priority list. I’ve read that some (ABS) plastic can be bleached in peroxide and regain some of it’s original appearance but that can take weeks and produce marginal results. In most cases DIYers choose paint over replacement.

I’ve collected the following example photos of painted engine bay plastics for example:

My e30’s own coolant tank was especially pathetic. In addition to being cat-vomit brown it had picked up some overspray from the PO’s paint job and accumulated a thick layer of sludge in the bottom. The washer fluid tank suffered the same overspray but I painted that blue which I think really sets off well against the rest of the engine bay. I decided not to paint the coolant reservoir because I don’t have a space to paint in right now and it’s impossible to read the coolant level once painted.

During my engine swap I needed to fill out an order for some small parts and decided I’d add the tank to the order. I didn’t take any photos during the install but it was pretty straight forward and I think the results are nice.

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1989 BMW e30 325i Clean Engine Bay and new Coolant Reservoir

e30 Coolant Reservoir

Coolant Reservoir Replacement


  1. Disconnect the Air Flow Meter and remove it along with the air box that holds the air filter.
  2. Put some cardboard and catch pan under the radiator and remove the lower drain plug.
  3. As coolant drains remove the cap from the overflow reservoir.
  4. Disconnect and remove the coolant level sensor by loosening the large black nut that connects it to the reservoir.
  5. Remove the coolant return hose from the bottom of the reservoir and immediately move it over the catch pan to drain.
  6. Cut off the radiator to overflow reservoir hose very close to the hose clamp, or cut the hose clamp off.
  7. Cut off reservoir overflow hose that runs to a hole in fender.
  8. Remove the old reservoir by pulling up to release it from the clip holding it to the frame.
  9. Put in the new tank, reconnect the hoses.
  10. Use either a very small worm-gear hose clamp or use the OEM “Oetiker Clamp” and end nippers (in lieu of the proper pliers) to connect the high-pressure radiator overflow to overflow reservoir hose.
  11. Refill the system with coolant and bleed it of any trapped air. This is well covered elsewhere in more or less detail.
  12. bmw e30 coolant reservoir

    Parts List


    Radiator Expansion Tank 17111712641
    Hose Clamp 32411712735
    Oetiker Clamps and Pliers on Amazon

May 26, 2013 cosmetic, mechanical

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Watching this reminds me of how much I have to learn about driving. I’m always two seconds slow getting on the throttle after cornering and I’m often missing good opportunities to hit the apex and straighten out a curve. There’s always room for improvement, it’s great that the classroom is so beautiful.

May 25, 2013 driver's log, video

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I woke up early Wednesday and decided to try out Hicks Road in Los Gatos. First, my review. This is a fun road to drive with some great corners that you can take at decent speed. Elevation changes are predictable though there are rock slides (dangerous not just for large rocks but because gravel and dirt on the road surface cause skid conditions which I encountered several times). The route I followed took me past Quicksilver Park and through New Almaden, a quaint little burg with the stars and stripes hanging from every telephone pole. All very pretty indeed.

So that’s the review of Hicks Road. But here’s the story: I was driving uphill and just rounded a sharp corner to find the road blocked by a fallen tree. I was able to stop the car but sat there on the steep incline trying to grasp my situation – do I have to back up? Can I drive around? Is there a chance someone is going to come around the corner behind me and hit me? And then for the first time in all the months I’ve been driving around Silicon Valley’s hills and valleys in the dark of night I felt something. The Creeps.

I’m out here alone in the dark…

Miles away from anything…

And no one in the world knows where I am.

Then I noticed that at some point someone had driven through the top of the tree which laid across the opposite side of the road and onto what little shoulder there was. I stalled the car trying to launch on the hill but was able restart and get moving. I drove slowly through the debris of the fallen tree, dragging branches under my car for at least 2 miles. I didn’t feel like stopping on another steep hill and groping around under the car for branches. Another 4 or 5 miles later I saw a couple of pedestrians (not hitchhiking, just walking) and thought that was weird considering it was 5:00AM.

It was only later when I casually mentioned my morning drive to co-workers that I heard more about Hicks Road: San Jose teenagers have been going up there for decades to get creeped out, there’s a creepy old church and abandoned insane asylum, the disused mercury mines, the whole road is supposedly haunted and home to a commune of albinos who some say are violently protective of their privacy and swarm cars unfortunate enough to stop on the road at night. A Google search for “Hicks Road San Jose” will turn up various and entirely dubious legends for you to read as I don’t care enough to sort it out myself.

I’m likely to go back and drive Hicks Road again but I’ll probably do it during the day. Not because I believe in superstition but just because it’s a little too remote and poorly maintained for midnight driving.

May 22, 2013 driver's log

BMW e30 Trunk Full of Beach Stuff
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Eating Marshmallows by the fire rings at Rio Del Mar State Beach

We finally got our cookout.

May 20, 2013 driver's log, photos

Round-trip from home this is a 40-minute route that fits perfectly into the time I have between waking up and going to the gym. The speed limit is 25 mph which is a little slow but there’s some good hair pin turns to justify it. This is a residential area with deer crossings and I saw a stunning buck on this morning’s drive so caution is advised. Buzzing this neighborhood before people start leaving for work is best as it gets clogged with commuters by 6AM. Taking Hicks Rd. could turn this into an 1.5 hour route almost meeting up with one of my favorite routes McKean Rd.

May 20, 2013 driver's log

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Tag color matches car color!

May 20, 2013 status

1989 BMW e30 with BMW roundel and BMW CCA Grill Badge

May 19, 2013 status

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