As you might have read, I am in the middle of perhaps the biggest project I have undertaken since I initially rebuilt my car. When I first swapped the old M20 out for an M52 in my E30, I replaced everything up front but left all the parts behind the transmission as they were. The bushings in the rear were fine, the diff wasn’t leaking, and none of the axle boots were torn. It received new brakes all around then, but the rest of the rear end was left untouched. After two years of abuse, it was time to pull the rear end and replace everything to match the freshness of the front. However, things don’t always go as easily as planned.

Home in Chattanooga pre-repairs

Originally, I decided to replace a few things since I picked up a 3.73 LSD, needed to do brakes again, and needed to fix a leaky rear main seal. Thus began the rabbit hole of parts replacement. The first parts were as follows:

Brakes:

New pads, rotors, calipers, braided steel lines, fluid.

Suspension:

SuperPro adjustable RTABs, Front Camber Plates.

Differential:

Output seals, O-rings, fluid, drain/fill plugs, gasket.

Transmission:

Rear main, crank seal, drain/fill plugs, fluid.

After digging into the brakes, I realized one of my axle boots was gone and the others looked to be worse for wear. Knowing I was going to have the diff out of the car, it only made sense to replace the axles. This is where I hit my first real roadblock.

Pulling the axles from the differential took a few minutes and was problem free. Trying to separate them from the hubs, however, proved exponentially more difficult. I have swapped axles before, but none had ever fought back as hard as the driver’s side axle did. After a week of beating on the output shaft of the CV, I finally took the Rear Trailing Assemblies to a new friend who had a much heftier hub puller I was able to invert and press the axles with.

This is what failure looks like

The axles finally freed themselves, which allowed me to fully disassemble the rest of the rear end. Taking out the rear subframe, I figured why not do the bushings while I was in there? The new parts list included:

Rear Subframe Bushings, Turner Motorsport Delrin Diff Bushing, two rear wheel bearings, snap rings, sway links, sway bushings, and a convertible soft top because why not?

All this just to be comfortable at a car show. Am I stupid? I don’t think so. I do this out of love for my car. For the first time since I have owned it, nearly everything will be new down to every bushing, seal, o-ring, fluid, line, and wearable part possible. Feeling this close to the light at the end of the tunnel has me almost bouncing with excitement for the first drive with all these parts installed. To recap, my E30 in the last year has received:

Engine:

Spark plugs, coil packs, rear main seal, crank seal, engine flush, fresh oil with new seals.

Brakes:

Calipers, pads, rotors, steel lines, fluid.

Cooling:

New 318ti radiator with an attached surge tank, thermostat, hoses, coolant flush, fan relay, tucked wiring.

Driveline:

3.73 LSD fully rebuilt, new CV axles, wheel bearings, Giubo.

Suspension:

Koni adjustable dampers, camber plates with pillow ball mounts, upgraded rear shock mounts, front subframe reinforcement, front sway links, front sway bushings, control arms, Monoball FCABs, Poly adjustable RTABs, Rear Subframe Bushings, rear sway bushings, rear sway links.

That is the most exhaustive parts list I have ever thrown at my E30 all at once. The beauty of all this is that it really wasn’t that expensive. Since the car is basically built the way I want, I was able to just stick with good old maintenance kits and OE parts for a fairly cheap restoration. The other caveat is that all the work was performed by a friend and myself alone, so I saved tons on labor. With labor, the services could have easily exceeded thousands of dollars. Because I am stubborn and insistent, I struggled through a few weeks of work but came out at an affordable total project cost. Who says there are projects too big for your home garage?

This is what success smells like

So, what’s next? This coming week, my top should be here for the final piece to the puzzle. Everything in my E30 will be new, making it an almost perfect example of the 80s sport coupe. I am thoroughly looking forward to driving what might be the freshest example of this car on the road that actually sees drive time so you can be sure to follow along here for updates and a breakdown of what the car feels like now that it’s all brand new! See you guys at EUEX 2019, look for Vader and come say hi!