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Old 06-29-2015, 08:59 PM   #1
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Default Clara - An E28 ///M5

Some of you may be familiar with my ///M5 Heidi and her sad fate at the hands of an uninsured motorist. I won't go into details about her in this thread, (if you really want to read it the whole story is here: http://ohiobimmers.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10710), but once the dust had settle and insurance had been handled, I decided I couldn't just give up on owning an e28 M5. After a bit of searching I got very lucky and I found Clara in SF. An insurance check and one way plane ticket later, I had 2400 miles on some of the best roads in the country to get to know her.

To make sure we got off on the right foot, I picked her up and went straight to Highway 1 heading down to L.A.




If you want to feel true driving bliss, I believe Jeremy Clarkson said it best: "Straight six in the front, manual gearbox in the middle and drive going to the rear". Though the S14 in the M3 that photobombed me would work too (the Prius not so much).



If you ever have the chance, Highway 1 through Big Sur is truly one of the most scenic roads in the world.




Once in LA I stopped by Ireland Engineering to pick up some parts for my dad's 02. I also got to meet the whole crew, and Andrew was nice enough to take me 'next door' and introduce me to Ron Perry and his amazing shop/collection. Sadly, as tempting as it was to just stay there in the glow of vintage BMW's forever, Clara and I had to hit the road again and get back to Ohio. She more or less performed flawlessly for the whole journey, which is more than I can say for the weather. The next day the temperatures peaked above 100 as we crossed the Mohave, and headed north into Utah.

On day 3, instead of sticking to the Interstate, we took a detour through Capital Reef National Park.



Beyond the NP, I kept to mostly 2 lane roads crossing the vast Utah desert. As we ate away the miles, I realized just how good of a GT car she was, and how modern she felt for being 25 years old.



Crossing into Colorado, we were greeted with a surprise May blizzard ad we rose up into the mountains. Luckily the sky's graciously parted around Vail, and I began to wish I'd brought my snowboard.



Once we passed Denver the rest of the trip went uneventful, aside from near monsoon rains that met us at the Ohio border. But just like everything else, she handled those with grace and confidence above and beyond her years. And even through the pain of losing Heidi, I could tell this was the start of a great relationship.
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Old 06-29-2015, 09:05 PM   #2
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Awesome car and awesome trip! Congratulations!
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Old 06-30-2015, 12:15 AM   #3
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Totally. Freakin'. Sweet.
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Old 06-30-2015, 06:47 AM   #4
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Congrats on finding a worthy replacement so quickly! You also make me somewhat regret shipping my car as opposed to driving it home from LA, sounds like a fantastic way to introduce yourself to a new ride.
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Old 06-30-2015, 08:16 AM   #5
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It was wonderful meeting you at Timmayfest, please continue sharing your car and its adventures with us.
1) Prius's do ruin everything
2) HWY1 is indeed a life changing experience, when I bought my first bmw (an e46) I had an opportunity to head down that road, I'd highly recommend anyone to take that opportunity as well.
3) Does anyone have the dyno video of this thing? It's a noise worth sharing.
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Old 06-30-2015, 10:16 AM   #6
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3) Does anyone have the dyno video of this thing? It's a noise worth sharing.
I do, Here
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Old 06-30-2015, 11:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
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Awesome car and awesome trip! Congratulations!
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Originally Posted by Rittmeister View Post
Totally. Freakin'. Sweet.
Thanks!

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Congrats on finding a worthy replacement so quickly! You also make me somewhat regret shipping my car as opposed to driving it home from LA, sounds like a fantastic way to introduce yourself to a new ride.
At first I was a bit concerned about buying it more or less sight unseen and hoping it could make the drive home. But I'm so glad I did. Even if something went wrong it would have just added to the experience.

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It was wonderful meeting you at Timmayfest, please continue sharing your car and its adventures with us.
1) Prius's do ruin everything
2) HWY1 is indeed a life changing experience, when I bought my first bmw (an e46) I had an opportunity to head down that road, I'd highly recommend anyone to take that opportunity as well.
3) Does anyone have the dyno video of this thing? It's a noise worth sharing.
Thanks! It was great to finally meet you (and everyone else). I do have a video, I'll add it to one of the next updates.

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I do, let me see if i can upload and share it somehow
Thanks Bill, I've been meaning to get my videos up to youtube, just haven't gotten around to it yet.
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Old 06-30-2015, 11:45 AM   #8
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Is the s38 the best engine ever made? Probably.
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Old 06-30-2015, 12:55 PM   #9
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The next few updates will get us caught up with the past year or so. I picked her up back in May of 2014, and a few things have happened since then.

When I flew out to SF, I stayed with my cousin in Berkley. This awesome 356 was parked on his street. Evidently he's never seen it run, but every now and then it'll move from one side of the street to the other. I thought about leaving a note on it to see if it was for sale, but one car was enough for the trip.




And a couple of pictures from when I first met her.






This was taken on Highway 1, somewhere around Big Sur. Gotta love that silhouette.





As soon as I got home, I had to help my dad button up his '02, and then it was off to Vintage at the Vineyards in Winston-Salem NC. It was our first year going, and what a great event. Without so much as an oil change (I did make sure she was topped off), I hopped in Clara and made the 6 hour drive down from Ohio. And again she managed flawlessly.


A few of my favorites from the show:

Something here doesn't fit in.





Steve's (Bluntech) crazy V10 E30 M3




Love the old school motorsport roundel. I need some for Fiona.




An original Glas 1600 GT




Clara looking good on the grass:




Taken on the cruise the final day:




And probably my favorite shot from the trip. My dad in his '02 followed by countless other great cars:




After the cruise I loaded her back up and made the drive back to Ohio where I could finally give her some 'hands on' attention.
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Silvia - 2013 Subaru WRX - Stock, for now
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Old 06-30-2015, 01:33 PM   #10
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Something here doesn't fit in.



Allow me to revisit, Priuses ruin everything
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Old 06-30-2015, 02:17 PM   #11
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I thought that was Jake's v10 e30. He's doing all the work, I thought he was footing the bill as well.
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Old 06-30-2015, 02:19 PM   #12
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very nice, and I agree, the PCH is a drive that everyone needs to do once.
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Old 06-30-2015, 05:36 PM   #13
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Allow me to revisit, Priuses ruin everything
True Story

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I thought that was Jake's v10 e30. He's doing all the work, I thought he was footing the bill as well.
It could be, at the time Steve was talking about it like he commissioned the build but maybe that changed.
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Old 06-30-2015, 06:41 PM   #14
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It's safe to say the first month together was spend in the blissful 'honeymoon phase'. Things felt perfect, nothing could detract from carefree happiness shared between man and machine. But as with every relationship that feeling slowly dulls. To some that may sound detrimental, without the veil of young romance reality can take its tole. What used to be laughed off isn't so easy brushed aside, and minor disagreements snowball into arguments, fights and long nights alone. Or you can look at it in a different light. You can use the new found clarity and begin to gain an understanding of each other on a whole level. Begin to see their subtle needs and desires, and learn how to express your own in similar ways. And so it was with Clara and I. I rolled up my sleeves, took a deep breath and picked up a wrench.






A few of her bigger needs were obvious even to the causal observer. Her shift linkage, while functional, had considerable slop. That, along with the fact that there was a slow but consistent leak of transmission fluid from the rear of the case meant some time on the lift would be in order to get those sorted. I also decided to begin transforming her back into the car she was meant to be, a.k.a. a euro spec M5 and not the watered down North American version that BMW decided to 'gift' us with. Along with the, ahem, "Functional" bumpers they bestowed on all American bound e28's, our M5's were restricted by emissions that choked the exhaust, cams and lowered compression. Clara had suffered enough, not getting to see her full potential. Of course even the best of intentions can have terrible consequences.


In the end it took 6 eyes and 4 hands to get the new camshafts, timing gears and components back in place. What should have been a straight forward, if not time consuming project had snowballed into a month long saga. Things went smoothly enough in the beginning, the old cams came out without a fuss. Even the new late model shaft snugged down happily in the carrier. But I pushed to hard, rushed through steps, and only double checked what I should have triple and quadruple checked. With the timing chain in place, I slid the breaker bar onto the crank nut to ensure my clearances were in order. The crank slowly spun 20 degress, 30 degress, 40 degrees, thud...

Sh!t.

I knew my mistake instantly. It's amazing how your mind can hone in on one moment in time, bring it rushing to your consciousness from the depths of seemingly unimportant memories. In my hurry to get her back together, I mistimed the intake cam. The damage had been done, but I couldn't accept it. Off came everything, and I slowly, meticulously reinstalled each piece. With the help of a friend her heart was reassembled with as much love as I could give, feebly hoping that it might mend the damage. I sunk into the driver seat, gingerly slid her key into the ignition and turned. The starter sprung to life but her heart refused to start. Dejected, I set out to double check my diagnosis. 20 minutes later I confirmed no compression for cylinder 1. I didn't bother to check the rest. I thanks my friends for the help, closed her hood and went home.
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Mica - 2000 BMW 323i - The one that started it all
Fiona - 1975 BMW 2002 - The Definition of Project Creep
Heidi - 1988 BMW M5 - The piece of BMW history
Silvia - 2013 Subaru WRX - Stock, for now
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Old 06-30-2015, 10:34 PM   #15
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I really enjoy these threads/posts.

You should write a book!

Looking forward to the rest of the adventure.
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Old 06-30-2015, 10:53 PM   #16
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I guess it is Steve's car.
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Old 07-01-2015, 08:43 AM   #17
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All aboard!
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:00 AM   #18
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You should write a book!
Auto-erotic non-fiction?
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:37 PM   #19
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Auto-erotic non-fiction?
For sure!

If you haven’t read it, “Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic” by BMWCCA’s Rob Siegel is a good read.
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Old 07-21-2015, 12:59 AM   #20
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It's one thing to have something happen completely out of your control. Your mind searches up and down, grasping for any way to rationalize the events. But in a way that makes it easier to deal with. You can at least tell yourself that there was nothing you could no. The outcome had already been decided, long before the events took place. The opposite is true when you know you and only you are to blame. You obsess over every single detail you could have done differently. Just one little change here or a different decision there and you could have avoided the whole thing. All you can do is hope that you learn to forgive yourself in time, and try to grow from the mistakes of your previous self.

I knew Clara's engine needed to be rebuilt. It was the middle of December before I really started to move forward and decide what the next steps would be. At first the obvious choice was to part out Heidi as best I could and use her proceeds to give new life to Clara's dead heart. But realistically that would mean loosing most of the next year, and not being able to drive her until next spring. Given everything we had been through it was the last thing I wanted to do. So through desperation, a new plan was devised. Heidi's body was dead, but her heart was good. Clara's body was pristine, but her heart damaged. Thus began the transplant.

The operating room:





The donor organ being carefully removed:





Out with the old, in with the new:





A fresh coat of paint before the final installation:





And because I had to make it up to Clara, a bundle of snakes:





The newly fab'd mid-pipe to connect the euro-header outlets with the BB Catback:





Everything buttoned up nicely underneath:





A valve adjustment to make sure everything was in order:





And last but not least, the euro bumper conversion:





All in all we buttoned up the last of it and hour before leaving for The Vintage this past May. Total time spend was around 5 months, and lots of little misc things were done that I didn't document with photos, including a new AC system, new shifter assembly w/ custom length selector rod, euro mtech springs and bilsteins, Moosehead UCAB and more I've forgot about. The last few weeks were just a blur, but in the end it was more worth it than I could have ever hoped for.

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Mica - 2000 BMW 323i - The one that started it all
Fiona - 1975 BMW 2002 - The Definition of Project Creep
Heidi - 1988 BMW M5 - The piece of BMW history
Silvia - 2013 Subaru WRX - Stock, for now
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