Every car guy has a moment as a child when they see a car and the love for cars is born, that car for me was a 1987 325E E30 BMW. My name is Mark Perez a car enthusiast that has a thing for old pain-in-the-ass BMWs. I have worked in the automotive business for 10 years as a parts advisor learning a lot of what I know today from the techs I worked with.
The first time I saw an old BMW was in 2008 on my walk to school, there was a white 1987 325E coupe parked on the street with a for sale sign. It was white with a beige interior, aftermarket Zorro wheels, and sheep wool seat covers, and I fell in love with it. After calling the number on the for sale sign and with the help of my parents I was the proud owner of my first E30.
Growing up my father worked on our cars and like many of us who grew up with a similar dad, I started my mechanic life as the light holder and it was a lot harder than it sounds. Eventually, I started working on my car and my parent’s cars in their driveway out of a craftsman tool set. As I grew older I purchased more E30s and at one point had three of them cluttering my parent’s driveway and garage.
Entering unfamiliar territory with an E28
This is where my journey begins with a 1987 535I BMW, I purchased it nine years ago and she started as a parts hauler when my E30 was down for repairs. Eventually, I daily drove my E28 and she drove horribly the struts were blown, the cluster stopped working, and the exhaust system was leaking but the smiles per mile were worth it.
Opening a can of Worms
Everything was great until it started to overheat and I discovered that the engine was filled with water and not coolant, causing the head gasket to fail. After three months of owning the car, it was dead in my parent’s driveway, I spent a couple of weeks researching and purchasing parts from ECS Tuning, Autohauz, and BMA Autoparts to get her back on the road.
After replacing the head gasket along with the entire coolant system, filled with 50/50 mix coolant and bleed she was back on the road. But this victory was short-lived, not even a month after replacing the head gasket I noticed a puddle of oil under the car as I got off work. Towed her home and noticed that the previous owner had JB weld a small crack on the oil pan where the Oil pressure sensor bolted on. Anybody who has owned an E24, E28, or E30 knows the shortcoming of the low-hanging oil pan and the headache that comes with replacing it. At this point, I was six months into owning this car and had spent more money than I had paid for it.
As I hit one year of owning the car I decided to spoil myself and replaced the front suspension, I ended up going with H&R sport springs and Bilstein B8 struts which lowered the vehicle giving it the stance it has today. Everything was going well and I enjoyed my car until the front brake calipers failed and I ended up getting into a fender bender on the 405 on my way to work.
My heart sank as I saw the front end warped from using the back of a Nissan Sentra to stop, I drove home feeling defeated after this accident. It took me a few days to decide what I was going to do, I was contemplating parting the car and just cutting my losses. But as I sat in the garage with a buddy looking at the car in the driveway I had a vision of what the car could be. So I decided to fix her and take this opportunity to get the front-end Euro converted. It took a year to source all the parts needed, but once everything went on my love for this car was reborn.
I got plenty of compliments and a lot of thumbs up while I drove my E28 everywhere I went. Fast forward 7 years and the car has been sitting around in my father’s garage. Within those 7 years, the car has been riddled with electrical issues that started after it sat outside during the rainy season one year. The starter intermittently gets a 12v signal when you turn the key, the alternator stops charging from time to time, and the worst of it is that at highway speed it likes to just cut off. Aside from the electrical, the suspension is eight years old and the car just drives like a brick on wheels.
In the dark she waits
September 2022 is when I decided that I would get the car back on the road and finally show it the love and attention it deserves. My goal for my E28 is to restore it to OEM+ with my twist as I want to daily drive it as these cars are meant to be driven. Through this journey, I will be logging everything that gets done on my vehicle in this blog, the end goal is to take my E28 on a cross-country road trip.