Hey, everybody, and welcome to my first project/blog
So, not long ago, I got a sudden itch to go autocross or track racing or something. Being a mechanic by trade, I'd figured it wouldn't cost me too much to buy a nice little rear wheel drive stick shift to throw around the parking lot. Now, there was a lot of sensible options in the budget out there, including a newer BMW 3 series, but this little nugget caught my eye. No trim, no seats, almost no interior, engine, 4 speed, wheels and brakes, and the only pieces of outer trim was the 2002 badge and the headlights. And it had no title. I couldn't stop thinking about how cool this thing would look going around the track as just a roughed up classic. So I made up my mind. I had to have this thing.
A 3 hour drive to Prineville, OR later, here it was, sitting next to a much nicer and more complete 2002 and behind a couple of planes in this hangar. It was a little rougher than I had hoped it might be from the pictures. This was also the first time I had really seen one of these 2002s for the first time face to face. This car was a lot smaller than I had thought, but I was still getting excited thinking about its potential. I took the car home for 700$ and the price of a uhaul and trailer to get it home in Vancouver, WA.
My first couple of tasks for the car was to get the carpet out ASAP. I knew there was a couple of spots with severe rot in the foot wells. I also need to start on figuring out why the engine was stuck and if I could fix it. Removing the carpet revealed a large hole under the heel of the gas pedal and some other spots in the rear foot wells that had daylight coming through them. I planned on patching these spots at my shop later when I knew more about the engine situation.
The engine was frozen as long as the previous owner had had it as a parts car. There was still plenty of oil and coolant in the engine which prevented some of the components from going totally bad. I began pulling parts off of it. The original carburetor's main throttle plates were frozen shut and was full of pine needles, telling me this thing was under a tree while it was left outside. Pulling the head off revealed that the number 3 cylinder was still full of coolant. 2 and 3 were at bottom dead center, more or less. Problem was that number 3 sat about half an inch higher in the cylinder than number 2. I was honestly hoping that something in the head was the cause for the engine failure. As it so turns out, number 3 sat higher because its connecting rod was sticking out of the block just under the starter. The cylinders themselves were honestly in questionable shape as it was, being fairly rusty in large patches across the walls. In good news, I managed to free up the butterfly valves on the carburetor and a rebuild kit is on the way.
As it stands right now, I'm probably going to get a fresh short block from the guy i bought the car from in Prineville. My plan is to build the whole long block out about as far as I can. Race bearings, H-beams, maybe forged high compression pistons, I just don't want to worry about whether or not future bolt on upgrades will melt something or not. Everything else on the car will be re-purposed where I can help it to save money for later. I still need to put fluld in the brake system, find a new radiator for the vehicle, and maybe find some side glass for it. For now, the priority is to make it run, then I can crank everything else out relatively quickly, I hope
So, having discovered the short block had a massive hole, the cylinder head was in fact cracked, and the oil pump was completely locked up, I had to change my plan a little. It turns out its cheaper to replace the whole engine at this point, even if that meant some used parts. I had a co-worker that I used to work with that came by my shop not too long ago shortly after I had brought the pieces in to scrap the engine. He mentioned he had a friend who has a friend that owns a 2002. My co-worker's friend was planning on buying the car from his buddy and swapping a new fuel-injected 4 cylinder into it, so he would naturally have a spare engine. The best part? The car runs and drives. I got in touch and we met at his buddy's house where I got to look at this car before the motor had been pulled. We started it up and besides the hood rattling really bad, the motor sounded solid. We agreed that I would be buying the engine, 4-speed transmission, intake and carb, and the aftermarket headers it came with. Now, the guy I'm actually buying the engine from isn't going to be able to pull it until after this next Saturday (4-9), so I won't be picking it up until the following weekend, when I actually have some time myself to pick it up.
In the meantime, I started to work on the other major problem staring me in the face. The rust. I got to work on chipping off the rubber insulation layer that's glued to the floor boards.The rust patches did help this to go a little faster, but that means there's more metal that's going to need replaced. I got the insulation mostly peeled away from the driver and passenger side wells, now all that's left is the back bench area that shouldn't be rotten anywhere except where it meets the rear passenger wells.
Now that the website's been upgraded, I can actually upload files at a decent rate! And even straight to my blogs. Here's some photos of the progress I made on clearing out the insulation.
Progress was made. Of sorts, at least.
While the damage to the engine was not a welcome discovery, I am enjoying several of the choices BMW made when putting this thing together. Now, minus the fact that the driveshaft was not a slip yoke design, this was one of the easiest engine pulls I've encountered. I didn't think I'd get it out Friday night, but looking at it, I realized there wasn't much left to pull, so a driveshaft joint and five bolts/nuts later, its coming out of the car.
Now that I had cleared what I was going to do on Saturday, I really wanted to get the short block apart. Trying to save some money, I'm looking for parts I can reuse when I get a new crankcase. Pulling the oil pan showed nothing surprising besides the sheer amount of metal that had collected. There were several handfulls worth of metal/oil sludge built up in the bottom of the pan. Number 3's rod cap and the nuts that used to hold it in place were sitting in the sludge, not bent or mangled. The accompanying rod bearings were a little squished, but deformed in such a way that they must have ejected when the cap came off. That connecting rod seemed to be straight as well, though I haven't managed to get that rod out yet. I managed to get the crankshaft freed up and out of the block, though. It looks like the bearings took most of the beating near the end of its life, as all the journals still look good, minus the number 3 rod journal of course. I'm hoping there's still enough material throughout the crank and in the journals that I could undersize the thing and save my self a little bit of money when I get around to putting things back together.
Moving forward, I'm realizing just how much this engine is going to cost me. I still have some calls to make for parts. I'm hesitant to call people since I'm not yet ready to start throwing thousands of dollars around to get the parts and machine work to assemble this thing. But I'm gonna need a little advice and a little guidance so I get an engine that'll actually work on the roads of Washington while still being able to tear up the track. I don't want to slow down work on it, but money takes time to save up for the necessary costs to put it back together. Deep breaths....
Well, I finally picked it up. Now in my possession is a M10 engine with a 121 head and a mechanical Weber 2-barrel carburetor. It came with two sets of aftermarket performance headers, a spare driveline, clutch, flywheel, another 4-speed, and a radiator. The last is almost as significant as the engine itself, as I wasn't sure I was going to find a radiator that wasn't going to be a major investment to acquire. This whole package came out of a running and driving vehicle for 750$, so I'm feeling pretty good about the condition of all the parts I now have. That isn't to say that there is still a lot of work yet to do.
I do still need to find seats, belts, and some instrumentation for the car before it's even close to being driveable. Once I have some more money, I'll be hunting for the cluster, seeing as how my car seems to have all the wiring still. Before I can mount seats and a roll bar, rust repair still needs to be done. I've never done something like this before and don't know hardly anyone that has. I don't want to buy new pans, even though that would be the safest bet, since all the pinch rails, pillars, and other major structural components seem very straight already. I would hate to ruin the alignment of all that because I cut out the floors altogether. I'm definitely a little intimidated, but once I get the hang of the welder and take care of some of the bigger holes, I have a feeling that I'll be home free.