Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Entries in this blog


Since my Daily Driver took a nose dive after swapping the induction system from a carb to FI in Dec. I have had to push the '68 aside and focus on getting the IH back to fighting shape. Not too long before that happened I managed to secure a 3.90 LSD, complete half shafts, and 5spd trans from an E21. No sure which car will get them, but I have them on hand now. I was preparing to drop the engine/trans from the '68 before the truck died. I've created some stub axles on the lathe for a pair of garden tractor front wheels. My intention is to build a cart to set the drive train on so that it can be towed to the backyard to a safe shelter. I have access to a laser level that is accurate to 1mm over 50'. I think that will suffice to ensure the body is level when I build the stands that will attach the car to the garage floor for the "final pulls". As it is I have managed to get the rear suspension pick up points to within 1-3mm of their intended positions. To get those last few MMs I really need it bolted down so I can do some angular pulls. I'm still hoping to drive this car this year some time. This Spring/Summer better be productive.


Red Onion

I have very little car time as I am a stay-at-home Dad for our 14mo old son 3-4 days/wk 13hrs/day when my wife works (Cardiac nurse) and I run two small businesses of my own (auto repair and home renovations/handyman). That being said I have even less money than time to commit to these projects. The '69 has been chosen as the donor to revive the '68 and hopefully the '73 (down the road). My current goal is to make the '68 true to the body measurements in the blue book and mobile by Summer 2018. Keeping in mind that some of the sheet metal required to save the '73 is intermingled with parts that I need to repair the '68 I will be removing parts at the spot welds wherever possible. 


As previously posted I had peeled off the quarter panel from the '68 to get a better look at the scope of work. I recently removed a section of the outer rocker, the C-pillar braces and the outer wheelhouse. Over the weekend I drug some tools out to the tent where the '69 is hidden. I removed the seat back / parcel tray panel and the inner sheet at the bottom of the side glass opening first. Removing the quarter panel was quite easily thanks to the tin worm's effort in the wheel arch and trailing end of the rocker panel. Then I took out the rib that fits between the quarter panel and the outer wheelhouse and I also removed the entire C-pillar. With those out of the way I set to work on removing the inner and outer wheelhousings together. I haven't decided how I intend to use them in the repair of the '68 as they are both rotted messes but at least I will have that structure on-hand in the garage when the time comes.






The next parts to be removed from the '69 will be the tail panel, the left quarter, wheelhouse, and trunk floor. I probably outta take the roof off as well. Then off comes the rear subframe/suspension as that will be going under the '68.




I've grown tired of staring at the '68 all wadded up. With the quarter panel removed I pried on the outer wheelhouse for a bit and removed the wheelhouse to C pillar braces.


I used a piece of scotch brite to reveal the spot welds on the rocker panel and outer wheelhouse. After I removed a 28" section of the outer rocker I got busy on the outer wheelhouse. The damage is deeper than the outer wheelhouse as is evident by the wrinkles in the inner wheel well and inner rocker. 









Hair up my arse started at about 3:30 this morning. Couldn't sleep so I wandered out to the garage and pulled the rear glass and the pass rear window. Knocked off about 6:30 when my wife and son woke up. Didn't get back to the garage til about 3pm. That's when I decided it was time to rip off the quarter panel and start getting down to business. I was pleased to confirm what I had always suspected about this car. It's solid. It may have a ton of bondo in it, but there is very little rot. Looking forward to peeling back the layers like an onion and either straightening the existing metal or removing the required panel from one of my donors. 







Banana anyone?

Well the prognosis isn't good. The '69 is banana shaped. While the numbers are balanced on both sides the front to rear subframe measurements are about 6mm long. Considering that there are basically no outer rockers and the inners are no longer connected to the floor pans I guess it's no surprise that the car has sagged. I put a bottle jack and some scraps under the driveshaft center support and lost a few mm in my measurements pretty quickly. Hmmmm what to do...


No pictures please

For the past few months the '68 and '73 have been sitting side by side in the garage motionless with the exception of moving the '68 out to the driveway or street to pull  another vehicle in for repairs. I decided that with my limited time that I should sort out the brakes and clutch in the '73. Since the engine runs why not make it stop and go. I started out by freeing all of the bleeders. When little to nothing came out I knew the hoses were swollen shut- No biggie. I ordered a complete set of ATE replacement lines. I freed all four shoe adjusters and removed both rear drums. Looks to have had shoes and drums shortly before it was parked. Noticing that the rear brake side of the fluid res was empty and the generally crusty nature of the front to rear brake line I decided I would just focus on the front brakes cause the car only needed to travel a few hundred feet for now. 

I removed,split, honed, reassembled both calipers. I didn't use new seals as again, the car is only moving a few hundred feet and the pistons are in pretty rough shape. Onto the stuck MC. I pulled it and after some coaxing got the piston out. A light hone and a flush before reassembly was all that was needed there. A flush of the reservoir, new rubber grommets and some new braided hose and the freshly bench bled MC was reinstalled. I plugged the rear brake port in the MC and hooked everything else up per usual along with the new hoses. I gravity bled the front brakes and then power bled them and had a great pedal in short order. 


The pedal box box was utter garbage. The only thing holding the pedals up was the left side of the box. I pulled the pedal box from the '69 and gave it a quick once over before installing it in the '73. I cleaned/honed the clutch master and slaves from the '73 and wa last rewarded with a functional clutch. 


Even total junk is fun to drive. Hahaha The '73 made it to tent in the backyard and the '69 was driven back to the garage. 


I put the '68 on stands last night and was surprised to see it sitting squarely on all 4. It used to teeter on 3. The portapower work last year had some unrealized effect. :-) 


I loosened and rotated the exhaust. It's a waste of time I know, but every time I start/move that car it rattles and that bugs me. Plus I didn't enjoy looking at the tips sitting cock-eyed poking out the back. With that adjusted I found a few bolts that fit the front subframe and chucked them in the lathe and "faced" the heads leaving a small tit to act as a pointer. I also found a nut that fit the rear subframe mount and slotted the face of it on center. With these rudimentary indicators and a metric tape measure I pulled some numbers. I was amazed to see that the rear subframe mounts are exactly 1180mm apart now. There was a 3-4mm discrepancy before the portapower playtime last year. The front frame horns are square to each other and within spec of the LR subframe mount- assuming the specs in the blue book are off by 20mm. I believe I read somewhere on here that the rear subframe bolt to forward most front subframe bolt is to be 2356.3mm not 2336.3mm. The RR subframe mount is about 5mm forward of where it should be. 

To get any more useful measurments I need to pull the entire suspension and driveline. 

The '69 will go on a set of stands and get the same measurements to compare in the near future.


Enough for now... the baby is crying and I need coffee.


No keys? No problem!

As I mentioned previously the '73 did not come with a key but oddly enough the steering wheel was not locked. After getting the steering column surround removed I could see that someone had replaced the lock cylinder at some point. It was deceptively easy to remove the cylinder. Once the cylinder was out I found an old set of keys and proceeded to re-code the new lock to the old keys. This was accomplished by just scrambling the wafers around and a minor adjustment to one wafer with a file. After the lock cylinder was reinstalled properly I had a steering wheel that once again locked and a car that now starts from the cabin. I was pleased to see that all of the gauges still function as well. 


Stumbled onto a '73 sunroof shell with a complete drivetrain on CL at the end of June. Pics were pretty poor but the price was right. After lots of poking around and haggling I loaded the remains onto the trailer and headed for home. 


The story goes that the orginial owner (from new) starterd a restoration about 15yrs ago. He lost interest and the car was rolled outside where it sat until the interim owner bought it for parts about 6mo ago. The years outside, likely mostly uncovered, have not been kind to this poor car. The floors are all rotten, the pedal box and drivers frame rail are non-existent. The sunroof clip is there, but it looks rough at best. The car had a nose replacement at some point. This may be why the nose is in excellent condition with the exception of some minor surface rust. The good is very good and remarkably both quarter panels are great with clean/rust free wheel arches. The shock towers are excellent as well.


I spent yesterday vacuuming the leaves, rust, and broken glass out of the interior and engine bay and getting the car running. I removed the Solex carb to clean the sludge from the float bowl. I removed the plugs and valve cover to drench the valve train and give each cylinder a shot of oil before hand turning the engine through two revolutions. I put a battery in and wired up and momentary contact switch to the starter and spun the engine over until I saw oil pumping over the top end. Back on with the valve cover and the plugs n wires. A quick file of the points and a splash of fuel into the bowl vent and another momentary contact switch wired to the coil ballast resistor (the car didn't come with a key) and I was ready to see if she would live again. A few coughs and  sputters and it roared to life ( no exhaust past the downpipe) briefly. I removed the plugged fuel filter and plumbed the fuel pump to a bottle of fresh gas and repaired a split coolant hose so that I could run it longer without fear of a meltdown. I'm amazed at how well it seems to run even without the accelerator pump circuit functioning. The exhaust seems to be smoke free and the engine is void of any strange rattles or other noises. 


So this makes 2 complete running drivetrains and 3 bodies with which to create 2 cars from. The '69 will be saved as it a nice straight tub with only 2 minor fender benders that I can find. Now to decide if it's easier to straighten the '68 and part the '73 or dissect the '68 to save the '73 and '69. Since I bought the pair last year I had my heart set on saving the '68 due to its relative rarity. The '73 is on jackstands in the garage now. I'll pull a tape on it to see how straight it is. Perhaps that will help me to make up my mind. Either path will be one heck of an adventure. 







Pressing matters

I picked up a 10 ton porta power kit and an additional selection of rams (push and pull) from Harbor Freight the other day. A few nights ago my wife and newborn were asleep and I (amazingly enough) still had some energy so I wandered out to the garage. I unpacked my new toys and made a handful of light to moderate pushes from between the reinforcement ribs on the rear wheel well seams. Those presses produced some remarkable movement in the RR wheel housing of approx 1" or more. I then set up and made a few pushes from the left inner rocker structure under the seat into the right quarter panel to make some space. Image my surprise when I was able to close and latch the pass side door for the first time since I bought the car. The door latch moved in excess of 3/4" and rotated CCW approx 15*.  Last night I took a few minutes and started drilling out spot welds with my trusty Blair spot weld cutters. The lower edge of the quarter glass opening is released. The B pillar down to the rocker is loose. The lower edge of the rocker mostly loose aside from the metal behind rear jack point. Many of the welds in the wheel opening are torn so I won't have as many of them to mess with. I need to get a set of tanks for my oxy/acet. torch so I can release the brazing under the trunk lid hinge and at the tail panel. While I understand that I most likely will not salvage this quarter panel I still intend to remove it in one piece in the event that I change my mind or that I would like to straighten certain sections to remove and use as patch panels.

Outer quarter Before:

initial damage.jpeg

Outer quarter after:



Inner wheel house before:


Inner wheel house after:



Door jamb:



More fun to come. :-)  I thought crossed my mind... Is it possible I may have two '02s when the dust settles? Hahaha


Going mobile

The white car has been sitting in the garage up on stands for a little while now. Previously I installed a rad and fuel bottle to check out the engine. I spent some time bleeding the clutch hydraulic system as well. A few days ago I went a bit nuts with some C clamps and a porta power. The inner leg of the right trailing arm had a massive kink in it. It was directly across the pass-through for the brake line. After disconnecting and plugging the lines I was able to roughly straighten the trailing arm and get about a finger width of clearance between the tire and the inner fender. Nice!

The battery that came with the car was dry and most of the plates were deformed. I'm not ready to "drive" the car so it didn't seem prudent to buy a new battery yet. I had a few 6v Optima batteries laying around that fit side by side the battery tray really well. I built a short daisy chain cable and viola! I now have a viable a battery in the car. 

The gas gauge would read over 1/2 full every time I started the car. Being curious I decided to pull the sending unit and have a look. Wow... The tank looks pretty clean inside, it is indeed quite full, and it still smells okay... Mostly. I pulled a vac on the fuel line in the engine bay and got out about a pint of fuel along with a bit of sediment. "What have I got to lose?" I hooked the fuel line back up to the filter and started the car. After running for 10min or so I figured that 24yr old gas was still good enough. I'll toss it in my daily driver and burn it up before it goes totally off though.

 If you're wondering my daily rig is a 1955 IH R122 truck.


image.jpegIt still has the period correct 240cu in straight six with single bbl carter and about 7.3:1 compression ratio. It won't run on bunker fuel, but I think this tank load will be just fine.


Speaking of my daily. It needed a new starter motor as the old one wasn't engaging the ring gear before the motor started spinning. Not wanting to work on it in the driveway I decided the white car needed to come out of the garage so I could pull the truck in for the repairs. The clutch is a bit noisy (maybe surface rust on the flywheel/PP) and the exhaust is rattling against something. Otherwise the car moved around on the driveway without any issues. Mind you the RR wheel still has massive camber and toe issues But for now it's just fine!


The harder I look at this car the more deformities I find in the unibody structure. While the vast majority of the metal on this car is rust free most of it is twisted one way or another. I think my current goal needs to be to strip both cars down to bare shells and get both shells in the garage for the winter. Then only after many many pots of coffee and a few bottles of rye whiskey I'll figure out how to proceed. I'm wondering if I should be using the white car for repair panels to fix the red one instead of the other way round. Time will tell.





Piddling around

poking around the 2 cars revealed a few things. The white car is a first series 2002- chassis# 1661550. The vin plate is stamped 1968 and running the chassis number through a decoder shows it was built in '68 and was indeed polaris silver. The car has the long neck diff, left side half shaft with a U-joint, single line 2 piston front brakes, and an old master cylinder with the res. mounted directly to the top of it. The engine is rebuilt. The head is an '84 121 casting. The car has a 002 dist. and an Interco 32/36 carb on it. Most of the brake system, suspension, and cooling system have been replaced. The car had a 320i rad installed that was damaged in the accident.

The red car is a second series '02 Chassis#1664819. While this car is a total rust bucket it doesn't appear to have ever been in a major accident. It still possesses it's original engine block.


First order of business was to get the red car moved to the backyard and get the white one in the garage. Every hydraulic item I touched on the red car revealed another failed part. I finally decided just to pull the front pads and dial back the drum adjusters/disconnect the parking brakes. I managed to free the lightly stuck original engine block in the red car. The starter tested ok. The timing chain doesn't have a master link so I rigged up a few chunks of 2x6, a serp. belt idler, and a small piece of hose(to divert the oil that would normally travel to the head back into the timing cover). These items allowed me to operate the starter motor and effortlessly move the car into the backyard. After a few hundred feet of driving in 1st gear the starter was still as cool as the other side of the pillow. Hahaha I never thought I'd ride around in an electric '02.



I moved on to the white car next. To start with I disconnected the fuel tank feed line from the pump, filed the points, fogged the cylinders, pulled the valve cover and fogged the valve train. I spun the engine over by hand through 2 full rotations. With no binding found I pulled the power wire to the coil, checked the oil level and cranked the engine until I got oil pressure. Then I poured a splash of fuel down the bowl vent and reconnected the coil wire. I never tire of hearing an engine for the first time. Imagine my surprise when it fired right up with no spoke or rattles of any kind. Awesome! The clutch hydraulic system had air in it so winched the car into the garage. I swapped in the rad from the red car, added coolant, and bled the clutch. The car fired up again and ran off of a bottle of fuel for about 15min. The clutch and trans seem to be fully functional. It'll be nice to move this car around under its own power now.

As I mentioned previously the white car has been hammered on pretty badly in its 48yrs. The nose has taken a hard shot. Hard enough to damage the rain tray...




The rockers are in exceptional condition with the only rust through being in the pass rear. All of the fenders and doors have putty in them. Digging around with a screwdriver only found wrinkled metal and large quantities of putty. I'm not finding any rust to speak of aside from the pass rocker.


The floors are basically clean with only scars from running over something good sized.





My loose plan currently is to build a frame table/jig under the red car to give me hard points to pull the white car to. With the number of impacts that the white car has taken I'm not confident that more than 1 point will match up at first. As it is I put the car on jack stands today and it's really only supported on 3 stands. I can pull the 4th out if I wanted to. Once the jig is made and the white car is bolted to it I'll drill spot welds and swap in the needed metal from the red car to make the white car whole again.


It's going to be a long process. It won't be easy... Yes, there are better tubs out there for 5-6k, but my time is 'free to me' and I'm looking forward to stretching my metal working abilities.





69 02 a right small.jpg


69 02 b left small.jpg


The white car was originally Polaris. It has taken a good shot in the nose some time ago. The right apron is wrinkled and all of the front sheet metal had been replaced before painting it white. A year before it was T-Boned the white car received a completely re-manufactured engine. new upholstery, and some maintenance items. The car traveled 3k miles before the accident in '92. It was towed to the owner's house where it has sat until this past weekend. The red car is an original Granada Red car that ended up with a junk title for some reason or another. The owner intended to use the red car for metal needed to make the white car right again. Since the owner and his son are both in declining health he decided it was time to move them on.

I'm not fooling myself. I know this project will be time consuming and most likely expensive. First priority is make both cars mobile. Then I'll measure up the white car to see how bad it really is and decide what the next step is.



When I was knee high to a grasshopper my Dad- Ralph Potter was "The" BMW mechanic in central IL. In fact, you had anything odd my Dad was the guy to go see. Ferraris, Alfas, BMWs, and assorted other vehicles were expertly cared for by my father. In the sleepy little town of Broadlands, IL my father had managed to acquire 12 BMWs behind the garage. 1600s, 1800s, and '02s were in his collection. As the story went all of these cars ran. Fit for the road... only some but they all ran. This was in the late 70's. All of those cars were sold/scrapped when we "moved into town" when gas prices and interest rates skyrocketed. All I can personally remember of that collection of cars was them being hauled out on a low boy stacked like cord wood. I don't remember when it showed up, but Dad brought home an Agave/Tobacco '73 sunroof '02 in the early 80's. That car served as my mother's daily driver for several years. My most vivid memories of the earlier years with that car included having to hold the doors shut in the winter because the latches froze open. The fire from depths of hell spot on my lower leg from the heater vent in the center console, and the sheepskin seat covers. 'Round about '87 my Mom was teaching my sister to drive on the way to our grandparents house. My sister didn't understand that cars don't steer well on gravel especially not over 30mph. The three of us left the embankment of the overpass flying through the air and crash landing just short of the bottom of the embankment then sliding through a farmers barbed wire fence. That was a long ride to Monticello- The three of us and the driver in a single cab tow truck. My Dad spent over 2yrs piecing that car back together. The car was pulled straight on a frame machine. It got a new nose, and fenders, new rockers, late model steelies, Eibach springs, Bilstein HDs and Sports, Big swaybars, Stahl header, new exhaust, a Weber 32/36, Cibie H4s, Hella 550s, power 320i mirrors, cocoa mats, and a host of fresh trim/seals. My Dad and I both loved that car.I eagerly awaited the arrival of every Roundel pouring through the pages dreaming of what I'd do to my own '02 some day. The '73 sat in the garage only driven occasionally until I turned 16.

Dads 73 02 small.jpg

About a year after I started driving it the green car met its demise. I was rear ended by a a guy in a full sized van. The accident report said he was admiring the car and didn't see the brake lights. He shoved me 5ft into the truck in front of me. I remember looking at the headliner as the seat laid out flat and then looking back out the windshield in time to see the hood wrinkle and buckle up in front of me.

After a year of scouring the want ads I stumbled onto a '71 1600 that had rear ended a MoDOT truck. With BFH, a birch tree, a few chains, and a drill I managed to pull the nose out far enough to replace the rad, fan, timing cover,  and lights.

My 71 1600 small.jpg


A twisty country road and dry rotted tires contributed to this 1600's final ride. The RF tire blew out in a left hander. The car slid into the ditch and struck the one tree that was jutting out of the tree line. The car pivoted sideways and rolled over onto its roof. I unlatched the seatbelt and fell to the ceiling... damn! Another one bites the dust.


In the decades that followed that last BMW I watched the prices of these little gems rise and rise. In the meantime I had lots of fun with VW GTIs, GLIs, and TDIs. All the while vowing to own another pocket rocket someday. My Dad passed away in 2013. I never got to fulfill my dream of replacing my Dad's '73. Time marched on.


The day that I had hoped for finally came this past Saturday. A few weeks ago I saw a CL for 2 '69 '02s and another ad for a 3rd car- a '71. Prices seemed reasonable. Thought I'd buy all three, build two, sell one, and keep one. Well the 2 were way rougher than the ad let on and the 3rd was gone in short order. Even though they were basically scrap I couldn't get the two '69s out of my head. After much back and forth I finally talked with the CFO. She reluctantly approved and I made an offer on the pair. A few days later and I made two trips to haul the cars home.





Sign in to follow this