On May 15th 2020 I purchased a 1969 BMW 1600-2 that was resurrected out of a Texas field and swapped with a GM LE5 2.4L ecotec Engine and Aisin AR5 5 speed manual transmission. The previous owner did all the swap work and really did an amazing job. I really fell in love with the Ireland engineering box flares on the car. I feel as though it is up to me to finish the car and sort out some odds and ends to make this car a truly great weekend cruiser/track day/autocross car. I cannot wait!
In my two weeks of ownership so far I have cut the upside down gas pedal to help with ergonomics. I ordered a proper GM floor mounted pedal out of a 2013 Cadillac ATS. I will need to rewire the harness side to make the pedal work. Cutting the pedal has helped driveability greatly. I also removed as much of the EPS as I could since it’s not powered and not needed. This now prevents left foot snags. I donated an old amazon fire 7 HD tablet to exclusively run diagnostics via Bluetooth and will mount it via a center RAM mount when those arrive. The previous owner informed me the cooling system was inadequate due to the height of the radiator creating an air pocket in the upper hose. After 4 hours of math, measuring, and research I settled on a 2nd gen Volkswagen GTI radiator as the solution and installed one. It seems to be a nearly perfect fit, as the inlet and outlet now match the GM motor. I trimmed the stock hoses to fit. It does not seem to leak...yet. The temps seem to hold at 190°F and my splice on the fan is working. It’ll be a while before I really get to test this system. I replaced the door pulls with Sparco tow straps I had laying around too. I installed 2 more Sparco tow straps to be used as tow straps as well.
I added a motorcycle exhaust tip that came with my 1978 Honda CB550K just because. I replaced the driver side Miata seat with a bucket that fits the style of the car a bit better IMO and also hugs your butt a bit better. For the passenger seat I will get a faux leather cover to match the bucket. I also installed a hydraulic hand brake gifted from the PO, just need to bleed the brakes. I love doing these “free” modifications, and getting rid of parts I wasn’t using. I am in the process of removing most of the trim, as I have also decided to remove the spray paint covering the car and attempt a 3 stage paint job myself.
Going forward I wish to improve the steering feel of the car. It currently has an E21 320i steering rack which seems to be about 4 turns lock to lock. I believe the most cost effective and practical solution would be to use a 1.5:1 steering quickener and replace the GM EPS shaft. This would put me at 2.67 lock to lock with a manual rack. My 1991 Mazda Miata is 2.8 turns lock to lock and I love the steering feel, although that is power steering. Many Miata enthusiasts de-power these racks without trouble. This is partly why I believe the quickener is a solid bet. I believe the atrocious steering feel is the last hurdle preventing this car from being a really solid driver. I have also ordered a replacement windshield. I hope to put a 5 point harness and roll hoop in, possibly by fall.
I work as an automotive engineer for General Motors on current gen Ecotec Motors, which is partly why I am so excited to continue this project. Working at GM gives me Access to vast resources to fine tune this project. My current fleet of vehicles includes a 1996 Subaru Impreza, 1994 Mazda Miata, and a 2000 Subaru Impreza RSTi.