Sunday, January 26, 2020

[M3] Some snaps

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 

Went on a big drive today and got some photos. Finally a photo of the interior thanks to the iPhone 0.5x lens!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

[M3] Sport Evo front splitter

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 

Five years ago, shortly after I bought my first M3, I bought a Sport Evo splitter setup from Markus. And for five years, I didn't install it. My enthusiasm for Sport Evo parts waned as I realized the extensive refurb work that the car required. I didn't want to put a bunch of hot shot parts on a car that wasn't up on basic maintenance, and I never felt like it was the right time with the DS car. So the splitter parts lived in the shed, then the garage, then moved house with me, into a new shed, back into the garage. The DS car went but I held on to the splitter, along with the other parts that had taken me a while to collect.

As soon as I brought the Lachs home I was making plans to finally install the splitter. I had plans to take care of a few other things that involved removing the front bumper, and I was trying to work up the nerve to drill dozens of holes in my front fascia. Last night I was poking around with my fog lights when I noticed something.

Well well well. I'd be upset if it wasn't the perfect situation for me. So today was splitter day!

I was relieved to see that all of the bits and fasteners and gasket parts had survived through the years and stayed together. All of the kit parts are OE except for the lip, which is a CF replica piece. The OE lip is NLA/expensive and I know that, despite my best efforts, I will at some point smack a curb or parking block.

This is my first time pulling an E30 bumper and it was very simple. I wanted to do four things while I had the fascia off: install the splitter; remove the front license plate bracket; remove overspray from my A/C fan; and correct whatever is going on with my front turn signals. The eagle-eyed among you might have spotted in previous photos that the turn signals are way sub-flush in the front fascia, and I wanted to see what was going on. The front end has been repainted and some shortcuts were taken, so I wanted to dig in.

The first item in splitter install was to press the small seal into the plastic undertray. Next, I offered the undertray up to the fascia to confirm that this mysterious past modifier actually drilled the holes in the right place. Thankfully, they had. Markus's CF replica lip comes without any fastening holes, so the next task was to mock up the lip and mark the holes for drilling.

If you plan to run the least-aggressive ("Monza") setting, you will need to remove additional material on Markus's lip to clear fasteners that hold the plastic undertray to your fascia. You can see slots in the OE plastic lip for this purpose. I set my car up for the middle "Normal" setting, so there was no clash and I didn't need to make additional cuts. The image below shows where you'd need to make clearance holes in the lip (silver Sharpie pointing at the hole).

So with all holes drilled, it was time to make sense of the bags of fasteners. I had a tough time finding really clear images of the assembly process so here are my contributions to the story. To get started, the Evo undertray is secured to your bumper with 12 plastic rivets. These are quite stout and need to be hammered home once you get your fitment set up.

The same plastic rivets are used to secure the smaller panel that supports the oil cooler. You can fit this in one of three positions so that the slot is fully open, half-open, or closed. According to Markus's old posts, these different settings allow you to tune airflow through the oil cooler. I don't think I'm doing any driving that will stress my oil cooler so I opted to go with the half-open setting because it looks cool. If you are debating which way to go, I think it is worth mentioning that the entire Sport Evo splitter setup obscures radiator-area access from under the car compared to the OE US arrangement. I already wish I'd just kept the aperture full-open to ease future work.

Because the rivets require so much force to install, I'd recommend doing the oil cooler panel before the whole thing is on your bumper. But if you're like me and no one told you that, try to back up the rivet while you hammer on it. A 10mm deep socket does a nice job supporting the backside and is large enough to let the rivet expand to installed position.
These 6 screw fasteners are intended to support the 'center' of the plastic undertray into your fascia. Interestingly, the trim on the US bumper seems to be different from Sport Evo and these edge-grabbing clips only fit in the two most outboard locations. So four of them went unused and were replaced by some M6 nuts and bolts I had available.

The completes the installation of the plastic undertray and oil cooler panel to the bumper. Bolt up your splitter in 12 places.

With splitter installation complete, I went after the other bumper-related items. I drilled out the plastic rivets retaining the front plate bracket and used acetone to remove overspray from my A/C fan. I pulled off the bumper reinforcement to understand why my turn signals were askew.
The turn signal assemblies are supposed to bolt up to the fascia. The back side of the fascia has thin doghouses that receive a very peculiar, thin, clip-on-M6-stud deal that is long NLA. It was probably NLA when this bumper was painted. Rather than try to think of something clever, the body shop doofus decided to fix the turn signals to the bumper reinforcement with big long self-tapping screws. Ew. Now, the joy of old car fixin' is that you don't know what parts you need to order to fix a problem until you're already in there. And I have plans to use this car tomorrow, so leaving it in pieces while I waited for parts was not an option. Putting those self-tapping screws back in there was also not an option. What to do? I can't fit an M6 bolt with a normal head on it because the doghouse is so thin. Well... remember how 4 of those 6 edge-biter clips didn't work earlier?

Yeehaw. It's not pretty, and it's not permanent, but it will hold while I get the correct parts to fix the problem. The edge-biter clips fit well on the doghouses, and I stacked washers to get decently close to the right offset with the screws available. It will be annoying to pull the fascia again, but it is going to come off again anyway when I install my Evo bumper gasket. In theory I could have done the gasket today but I didn't want to introduce too many variables in a single project that needed to wrap by tonight. From what I read, getting that gasket to play nice can be an ordeal.

First look with the bumper back in place. Yeah! And then came... the wrangling. The final important part of the splitter install is how the rear of the plastic splitter undertray interfaces with your original undertray piece that slots in with the wheel liners. It seems that the Evo version of that piece with the brake duct holes has a different trim that meshes more harmoniously with the splitter piece. Wish I'd known, would have grabbed one back when they weren't NLA. In any case, the original undertray can be reinstalled above the new piece. I had to pull the wheels off to get enough space to jam it in there. It's sort of an uneasy truce of who's supposed to be where between the two undertrays. I need to come back with a good strategy to fasten the trailing edge of the splitter undertray to the original undertray. I am interested to hear ideas on the best way to do that.

I wrestled with undertrays all through dusk and finally got the car back on its feet to see the results. Big thumbs up. I'll find some plugs for the license plate holes but otherwise it's all looking sharp! Only took five years.

The front end will continue to improve next week, when I should get all of the parts I need to install euro grilles and my NOS Hella ellipsoids. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

[M3] Déjà vu

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 

Not much to report lately, had the ceremonial first wash over the weekend and went to a couple C&C events. The M3 was a big hit. I'm waiting on some connectors to arrive so I can wire up my NOS Hella smileys and make the swap over to euro front grilles. I'm trying to get the local gang back together and I created a meetup for Saturday, 2/1 in Portola Valley.

Funny coincidence: in my old thread, back in 2017, I spotted a silver/red car on the highway and snapped a photo. I'll give you one guess who owns that car now! Confirmed it with the previous owner. Small world.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

[M3] First miles and first mods

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 

Suspiciously, just as this purchase was developing I met up with Kevin, who wanted to practice rolling shots of his M3. This was actually my first time seeing an M3 in quite a while and he put me on driving duty while he practiced snapping photos, hanging out the back of an E93 M3 (fitting). I don't remember if Kevin posts on the forum here but hey, if you're reading this, post up some of those great photos! Seeing his car is enough to get a Prius owner fired up about an E30. I blame him partially for rekindling the fire and motivating my purchase.

Here's a photo of the very stock motor bay. When I run out of things to spend money on, I'll grab a fresh coolant bottle to spiff things up.

The very first order of business after purchase was to transfer ownership and get my old plates on the car. It was in the AAA parking lot that I received my first compliment for the car, and was asked if I was selling it. No homie, I bought it yesterday. The second order of business was to correct the wayward trunk M3 emblem.

First fuel stop.

The car is riding on M5 wheels so the owner provided the stock 15s as well as a full exhaust system that he'd had removed to pass emissions. Thankful just to get a bonus exhaust, I was excited to see that it was a Supersprint resonated, non-cat center section with a Rogue Engineering diablo muffler.

I would prefer to keep the midsection OE for the sake of emissions, but I didn't hesitate to fit the muffler. Four days into ownership, I pulled out the wrenches.

It's a very nice muffler, just the right volume and tone. With that finished, I went to raid the parts stash in my shed.

There's some red seat action for ya. With a careful hand and a plastic trim tool, I managed to swap these without breaking any of the plastic clips.

Next up - dead pedal. It might sound silly, since I thought of this as a dress-up item, but the altered foot position is noticeable.

The kick panel requires trimming to the clear the pedal form. There is a guide line molded into the part - I cut right along that line with a Dremel and fitment was spot-on.

This morning I went on my first real spirited drive with the car. Kevin's got a cracked windshield on his E30 so he brought his 6-speed E90, and we were joined by a coworker with his 6-speed M2 Competition. The car did not miss a beat and we discovered some fantastic new roads around San Jose. My car performs so well dynamically that I have only very minor plans beyond normal upkeep/maintenance... in fact I enjoy the handling so much that I'm scared to spoil it by changing anything at all! My coworker has a lot of seat time in his E30 track car but amazingly had never had a chance to drive an M3. I was happy to swap seats with him and when we stopped he had rave reviews. As for his M2 Comp, wow. I rented the first gen (non-M3 motor) M2 a year or two ago and spent a day with it, and loved it. I remember thinking, "the last thing this needs is more power." BMW had a different opinion and the result is a car that I found, to be honest, intimidating. It could be due to the fact that I just came out of a car that can barely get out of its own way, and tells you so much through its slow steering rack; but I could not deploy the M2's capability in any way on the public road. It was also, you know, not my car.

I'm debating whether to post my plans for the car here, early in the thread, or just let the posts be a surprise and show things as they happen. I'm not planning anything spectacular or even particularly creative but, as I said, I do have a shed with some nice parts in it.

[M3] Third time's the charm

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 

In early 2015 I purchased my first E30 M3. I had an excellent and formative journey owning that car, meeting some fantastic people and learning lessons (good and bad) about cars, and what I like to do with my cars. I owned that car for 4.5 years and chronicled the experience in a long thread you might have seen here.

At the end of 2017 it appears that I thought it was a good idea to get another M3, this time a pretty serious project. I learned quickly that a project of this magnitude was not a good fit for my resources and sent it on its way about a year later. Link.

After clearing out the M3s, I went into the world of Nissan Skylines. I decided to eschew my usual strategy of "get emotionally hooked on a car and buy it, telling myself I will wrench on it and get it whipped into shape" and instead find a car in excellent condition and start from there. I've had my '92 GT-R for a year and I have loved every minute of it, and I think this was the best approach for me. Instead of fixing and re-fixing issues that keep the car off the road, I wrench on fun stuff (modifications) and never miss a group drive or C&C. With respect to the car itself, the Skyline is an incredible thing and such a different experience from the M3.

I sold off my long-owned Miata in the fall to bring myself down to a 3-car garage. I started to focus on my very rough 2002tii. Applying the lessons learned from my M3s, it quickly became clear that I am not equipped for a project of the 2002's magnitude. I started looking in earnest for a more complete or finished 2002, going so far as to be high bidder on a 2002tii on BaT that did not meet reserve. Through a couple months of searching I just wasn't finding what I was looking for - it seems in 2002tii land that every car is either coming straight off of a restoration, and therefore quite expensive, or needs to go straight into a restoration, which is even more expensive. The 'goldilocks' driver-but-not-rusted-out car I was looking for did not seem to exist.

This was all stewing in my brain through the holidays. A friend invited me on a new year's morning drive, along with a friend of his who I had not met before. I took the Skyline, my friend his Integrale, and the new friend had a 458 Spyder.

After a wet drive we stopped for breakfast at Alice's Resturant, a Bay Area car scene staple. We were munching and chatting cars when a silver E30 M3 rolled through the parking lot. My new friend said offhand, "my buddy has one of those he's selling. It's THE one you would want. Silver over red." Hmm... I said, "could you put me in touch?"

That was on Wednesday. By Thursday afternoon I had all the juicy details. Lachs/Cardinal. 133k miles with the motor rebuilt 3000 miles ago, interior completely redone, and very long receipts correcting every little thing: A/C, heater core, cruise control, rebuilt calipers, new-old-stock door cards (somehow?), windshield, badges, alternator, starter, on and on. By Friday afternoon I had an appointment to see the car, and by Saturday at lunch I had handed over a deposit. The seller was a fantastic guy, total car nut, and he was excited to see the car go to someone who knew why it was special and would drive it. I'm not going to say that showing him that I still had the "E30 M" license plate sealed the deal, but it definitely bolstered my credentials...

The car is stock except for a H&R springs, Bilstein shocks, and E28 M5 wheels. I can't believe I haven't taken a photo of the interior but the red is SO good and every trim piece and button looks (well... probably is) new. Stuff works on this car that I didn't even know wasn't working on my old cars.

I wasn't really expecting to buy another M3, or spend this amount (it was an extremely fair price, but you know how much a nice example is these days), but when I saw the car I and drove it I didn't think twice. I'm back to this platform with what is essentially the car I should have bought the first time... though I couldn't afford it then. I'm hoping that this thread will have fewer photos of me fixing stuff, and more photos of me driving and doing cool things, in comparison to my two other 'progress' threads. Did I mention that I have a shed full of Evo parts that I never got rid of after I sold the other two cars...?