E28 M535i resurrection part III Dignity

Part III Dignity 

One cold January day the time had finally arrived to give E800ACD back its dignity. Having finally collected the car from paint, and after completing a small amount of additional welding which we had found in the driver's footwell, I literally couldn't stop myself from refitting a few bits and pieces which had been left in the boot. Reinstalling the iconic shark nose, headlights, grille and nostrils transformed the now pretty but bare shell into a car. Suddenly it was a car and no longer a shell and after not having been illuminated since 2012, all four lights front and rear worked first time when we switched them on. 


On the 9th of January 2017, I made my way excitedly to the paint shop to collect the now fully resprayed shell. The respray had been badly delayed by weeks because midway through priming the shell for paint, it suddenly conked out and then refused to start. This necessitated us having to fault find the no start issue at the body shop. The car was refusing to turn over which led to an initial diagnosis of a failed starter motor. 

The starter motor was replaced but this failed to cure the fault. After 3 days of fault finding and trying 3 different starter motors we eventually replaced the engine to inner chassis rail earth strap (We had already checked this for continuity several times) and this solved the issue. Unfortunately by this point we had missed our window with the paint shop and their commitments meant we would have to wait several weeks before they could put their focus back onto the M535i. Eventually all the stops were pulled out and the paint was completed during the Christmas break, due to the deadline for completion that we had set ourselves of the end of February. 

Refitting the car was a hugely exciting and fulfilling process. Refitting each extra piece gave the car more and more presence. Initially it seemed a daunting task as the car came to us completely disassembled and although other than the carpet, door cards and screens which we knew were missing, it was only as we started to put it back together that we really realised what we did and did not have. What we had was a huge pile of screws, nuts and bolts and very little indication of which ones went where. Sadly I have to admit that this exercise really highlighted our sheer level of nerdiness! It turns out we really can recognise the bumper support bracket self tapping bolts in a bucket of fixings. 

We had managed to source most of what we knew was missing in advance but a few things had escaped our attention. We are lucky that we have several donor vehicles on site so we were able to pillage those for things such as sound proofing, which had all been removed and lost long ago. We had several rear screens in stock and were lucky to find that we had matching green tint front and rear screen which we had fitted with new seals by our local mobile windscreen fitter. A lot of the original shadow line trim and finishings had been lost or damaged. Luckily our windscreen fitter was able to help us refinish some normal trim to shadow line spec. 

One of the things the car did not come with (oddly) was number plates. For the first time we have chosen to add a little branding to one of our cars and had some Classic Bahnstormer number plates made up, it was quite momentous for us when they arrived in the post, yes it's the little things that make us happy. We have since been asked for them by customers and have fitted a few sets now, so in order to roll with the cool kids you'll be needing a set for your Bahnstormer!

One major issue with the refit was sourcing door cards. As leather interiors for E28's now change hands for a premium it seemed unlikely that we would find just a set of leather door cards for sale, as nobody would have been likely to want to separate door cards from an interior. So when this set of cloth two piece door cards came up for grabs, we pounced on them. 

The board backing for the fabric was in good shape which was our main concern. The two piece cards are what the M535i originally came with and if it had been specced with black cloth then picture one above would have been a good representation of what they'd have looked like. The cloth was carefully removed and the door cards disassembled. The new black leather we had sourced was not the same perforated pattern as the original E28 leather door cards. We had opted for a smooth finish leather which matched the seats. The leather was cut to shape and then adhered with contact adhesive. The door cards where then reassembled and we were able to fit them to the car. 

BMW E28 M535i restoration

As I have said in a previous section of this blog, unusually everything on this car has gone fairly well to plan, in terms of that job should take this amount of time. My girlfriend and any other honest mechanic will tell you that is seldom the case. This car really wants to live! It has  been a pleasure to put it back together, and it has gone back together so well. After sitting for such a long time exposed to the elements, the only electrical item that did not work first time on the car was the central locking. This necessitated us replacing the control module which is becoming a fairly common culprit on E28's. What was unusual is that all of the actuators then worked wonderfully rather than them being seized. 

Above is the most recent photograph I have of the car, although by now it has had its wing mirrors and rear spoiler fitted. It now sits on a set of 15 inch BBS alloy wheels and a good set of tyres on which it will soon re enter the world. The car has run pretty badly for the entire time we have had it. Recently we have spent a lot of time trying to diagnose the bad running. We have now replaced the fuel pump which died rather unceremoniously one day causing me to rope the windscreen fitter into pushing it back into the workshop. The car has had all the things you might expect: distributor cap, rotor arm, new induction boots, vacuum hoses, spark plugs, HT leads. We have since moved onto less consumable items such as Air Flow Meters and ECU's, but nothing has made much of a difference. We have finally pinned it on the fuel injectors and believe that one or more is bad. Further to this unfortunate development, during what we hoped would be a clearing run, the gearbox decided it had had enough and refused to change out of first gear. 

After its initial flurry of dignity, the car limped back to the workshop where the gearbox has now been removed and another fitted ready for a new set of fuel injectors to be fitted and then hopefully, finally we should be able to obtain an MOT, and this car which we are now a bit attached to, will finally be ready to Bahnstorm again!