Archive for the 'BMW E30 M3' category

Lighting Tweaks

I’ve just spent an hour sheltering from a thunderstorm in the workshop with the M3. While there I thought I’d check all the bulbs, and it turns out that the FNS fog lamp wasn’t working, and the OS headlamp had a crazy beam pattern.

Sadly I didn’t have the camera so no photos, but the fog lamp turned out to be a duff connection which I guess we aggravated when the bumper came off for bodywork repairs, and the headlamp pattern was due to the bulb being incorrectly seated.

It’s really satisfying to be able to sort problems such as these quickly and easily; true merit to a well designed old car. I only wish I could sort the exhaust as easily!

Thunderstorm over I thought I’d go out for a play on the now wet roads. The amount of grip afforded by these 16s in the wet is almost disappointingly good, and combined with my fear of waking the dead with exhaust noise means that traction is nearly always constant.

Exhaust woes

As mentioned, I had an appointment last Saturday to have a custom exhaust system fitted to the car. Sadly all has not gone smoothly, hence no report. I’m still waiting to see what the fitters suggest, so for now they’ll remain nameless, but here’s the update:

Firstly, the old Scorpion system was removed. The source of the vibrating noise was clear to see: the middle box was cracked along its width.

Cracked Middle Box

Two silencers had been ordered. The middle one was offered up on a stand, measurements were taken, and pipes bent and cut to fit.

The back box was made up with 3″ flared tailpipes (the same size as the outgoing Scorpion pipes).

The process took six hours. The company involved put in unquestionable effort, and looked after me and the car really well, with this final result:

I can best relay my concerns with the email I sent on Monday:

“Firstly, I cannot express enough my gratitude to ***** and ***** for their time and effort to look after me on Saturday. I appreciate that it took their entire day, and I can’t award any less than 10 out of 10 for customer service: you looked after both me and my car excellently. I’m extremely impressed by the quality of the materials used, and I’m simply in awe of *****’s pipe bending and welding skills; I didn’t get bored watching him weave his magic all day.

“There is however, I’m afraid to say, one problem. I’ve considered this for some time, and I’m keen to impress that I really am grateful for your efforts, but it would be dishonest of me to say and write to others that the system is perfect, because sadly I can’t say I’m 100% happy with it, for it’s simply too loud. While it sounds nice and meaty and impressive, it attracts far too much attention around town (especially police), and after an hour on the motorway it’d given me quite a headache. Having consulted others, it’s also likely that it’ll fail noise tests at some tracks and certainly at the Nurburgring, which ultimately means that I can’t leave it as it is.

“I was therefore wondering if there’s anything you can do to substantially reduce the amount of noise the system makes, maybe by replacing one or both silencers? I really don’t want to make any more work for you, but equally I’m a bit stuck with this current system!

“Any help or advice you can offer would be much appreciated. ”

Futhermore, I drove the car to London and back today. The exhaust is most embarrassing, but perhaps more annoying there’s a slight leak where the new system joins the old. I await news…

Another Steering Wheel

Having seen my last entry about the M-Tec 1 steering wheel, James Byrom has very kindly sent me his old M-Tec 2 steering wheel for comparison.

I’m now quite a master at E30 steering wheel swaps, so here’s the lowdown. The wheel the car came with:

The M-Tec 1 wheel:

And the M-Tec 2 wheel:

I’m happiest with this wheel, although to be fair I think the wheel that the car came with is actually the smallest of them all!

On other matters, the car is booked in to have a new exhaust fitted this coming Saturday, so hopefully I’ll have some positive progress to report in a week or so.

Steering Wheel

I’ve been contacted by another E30 M3 owner in Scotland, Alisdair Reid. He questioned both the authenticity, and my opinion of my car’s steering wheel, and went on to offer me his car’s old wheel.

Having never been one to look a gift house in the mouth(!), I’ve gratefully accepted his offer; the wheel arrived promptly and was installed tonight.

My only misgivings at the moment are that the new wheel is fractionally larger and thinner than the outgoing one, and ideally I’d have a smaller and chunkier wheel. The picture below shows the old wheel upside down on top of the new wheel – there’s not much in it.

Steering wheel comparison

That said, the new wheel certainly looks more authentic, and gives the car more of a ‘brochure’ appearance with its ‘M’ strips and horn push buttons.

Here’s what the car looked like earlier today:

Steering wheel comparison

And this is what it looks like now.

Steering wheel comparison

I’m pleased to have the car looking that little bit more original, so repeated thanks to Alisdair, who wouldn’t even accept a contribution towards postage.

During the fitting, I of course omitted to note the exact orientation of the old wheel as I took it off, so there was much driving around combined with trial and error refitting of the wheel to get it back on straight. I enjoyed the drive this evening, but the exhaust really will need some attention very soon. I’m away rally navigating again this weekend – I’ll resume the exhaust project next week.

About That Clutch…

Well, it’s fair to say I underestimated that job! First though, I fitted those bulbs, so the front indicators now flash a nice bright orange.

Now, about the clutch master cylinder change. The slave cylinder was easy, but this was a bit of a pig. Yet again I failed at first to remove the drivers seat although I needed good access to the footwell – when will I learn!

Physically removing and refitting the master cylinder in the footwell is unpleasant. Getting to the pipe connector under the car requires arms like Mr Tickle. It’s like the whole car just wanted to get in my way – I resorted to using an eleven mm spanner one way up for a few degrees, then the other, and repeat, and pain…

Eventually though, it was done. Thanks to Diane for driving out to the workshop at 10:30pm to operate the pedal and work lamp.

The results are the most pleasing aspect of this evening. I wasn’t expecting any noticeable change – I was merely replacing the part for peace of mind. However, with a new master cylinder and freshly bled, the clutch feels much lighter than it used to. This all combines to make the car feel far more modern – and as such I’m very pleased.

Little Shopping Trip

I’ve just been to ECP. One of the advisories on the MOT pass certificate from September 2006 was ‘front indicators showing white light’, and upon further inspection it seems that the orange paint has vanished from the bulbs.

I’d attempted to get some replacements during a weekend visit to Halfords but I need bulbs with the pins 180° apart, and they only stock them 120° apart. So I’ve bought four.

I’ve also bought a new clutch master slave cylinder. I replaced the clutch slave cylinder in late February, and have since heard that it’s generally a good idea to replace the master cylinder at the same time. A recent post on where someone’s master cylinder had failed soon after they changed their slave cylinder has prompted me to make this purchase.


I shall report back when I get the chance to fit these…


Nothing dramatic to mention, but here’s an update. I’ve put the interior back together as all the underseal from Wednesday’s session has now dried. I’ve had a look at the rust around the number plate lights, and am pleased to report that it’s just a bit of surface rust. I’ll attempt to source some spray paint the correct colour so I can look into this more.

I was going to look for rust underneath the rear of the car, but I got distracted by the diff, which is still leaking a touch.

So I drained it, removed the backing plate, cleaned the mating surfaces and rebuilt it with instant gasket.

I’ve removed the number plate surrounds as I decided they look a bit crap. At some point I’ll get some nice new number plates made up.

Rust Busters

Today Andy Eccles kindly agreed to come and do some rust busting on the M3. Ben and I noticed some crinkly metal behind the wheel arch liners, so I armed myself with Robin’s welder and Andy and I set to work. Initially things didn’t look too bad on the driver’s side:

But inevitably…

So the operation began.

Here’s the offending hole cleaned up ready for plating:

And from the inside:

Andy set to work creating a plate, while I prepared the interior and inspected the other side of the car.

The other side of the car was sound on the bulkhead, but the bottom of the wing was rusty. So Andy decided the wing was coming off. This operation starts with the bumper:

It was a good opportunity to get the metalwork treated:

Typically we were a little rushed by darkness and hunger, so I forgot to take photos as the plates were fitted and blended and sealed, but rest assured it’s all done. The car’s back on the ground now, but the interior is still a little stripped as I’m waiting for the underbody seal on the car floor and foot well to properly dry before I replace the carpet.

I’ll pick this up at the weekend. Now’s a pretty good time to do all this anyway as the exhaust baffles are so rattly the car’s more than a touch embarrassing to drive…

New Wheels

I’ve bought the 16″ sport evos from Craig. Pictures here are worth a thousand words! As a reminder, with the old wheels fitted, the car looked like this:

So, with an M5 supervising, we performed a quick swap:

And here are the results:

I’m pretty pleased! The wheels came with a set of Goodyear Eagle F1s. The fronts still have plenty of tread left, but the rears were very worn with signs of track abuse: chunks missing and cord showing in places. An early morning trip to my friendly tyre centre this morning saw those two tyres replaced with Falkens for only £120 the pair.

The car drives fine on them, although the rear is a little wild while the new rears bed in.

On another note, the exhaust resonance is becoming louder to the point where it’s almost intolerable. I’ll start my research into replacement systems for June.

It’s Not An Ornament

Now just reading this diary shows that I’m keen to look after and improve this car. However, I’m also keen to show that the car is here to be used both as a motorsport machine, and as a daily driver.

So I’ve just taken a load of garden waste and a manky, rusty BBQ to the dump in it:



For further amusement I popped into Vines of Guildford with the car full of all this crap. They’re having some works done there so parking is limited, and they’ve got a banksman controlling the traffic. I got a most disapproving “Can I ask the purpose of your visit, sir?”.

For the record, I went there because I’ve been doing a bit of preparation for those 16″ sport evo wheels that I hope to collect soon. They’re black, but will only come with three black centre caps. Over the weekend I sprayed up a spare, and I just needed to grab a new BMW roundel for the centre. Here’s one of the originals, with my sprayed up centre cap awaiting its BMW roundel.


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