1970 BMW 2800CS E-9 Rehab project

I’ve purchased a 1970 BMW coupe in reasonably good condition that I’m going to fix up. I’d like to do a full restoration, but that would require taking it all apart and add a lot of work, and I don’t have the resources for that. I’ve done that with a 1954 VW beetle, and I know what it takes to do it right. For now, I’m looking to get it in good running shape and make a daily driver out of it.
The E-9 bodies have a great number of places they rust and this one does have some serious issues, but fortunately, the front suffered a collision a while back and the entire front clip has been replaced. However, the rockers and doors are suffering from rust as is the right front passenger floor.
It has it’s original M30 engine and the interior is, other than the carpet, in excellent shape.

It has a number of issues, a leaky exhaust system, a gas smell in the trunk, soft and failing motor mounts, the upper front strut bearings need to be replaced, and the right front brake seems to grab a bit.
The mechanics will be simple to take care of. The rust is difficult and will require replacement of several body panels. The window frames, both front and rear are rusted under the rubber, so the windows will come out. I’ll have to be very careful not to break the glass. Rubber is still available, I believe. However, many parts for this car are no longer available. There are some sources for body panels, but as the panels I need to replace are not large or critical, I will be reproducing them myself. I have spent the money I would have spent on reproduction body panels and purchased shop tools instead. A TIG welder, bead roller and other metal forming tools.

The car wasn’t running well when I bought it, part of the reason I got it for less than market value, and had been sitting for 3 years. I have gotten it running pretty well after disassembling the carbs, welding a hole in the gas tank and coating the inside with sealer and replacing the points with electronic ones which cured the intermittant firing issue it had. The rust is the other reason it was sold at a reduced price but this is something that I have experience with, having restored a 1954 VW Beetle with similar rust-through issues.

This won’t be an easy project, due to the way the body was constructed, but it’s very doable, so I invite you to follow along. I should be making good progress in the next few months and hope for it to be back on the road before the end of 2015.








car drawing top and side p_094

I purchased this 2800CS Sport Coupe on the island of Maui. It’s owner had bought it, sight unseen, from sellers on the Big Island of Hawaii. He was disappointed in the condition of the car, mainly because of the rust, but it also needed a carb rebuild. Then it started running very poorly and making a squeal when it did run. He let it sit for three years pondering just what to do while he was building his new house. Unfortunately, it seems he left it out in the rain, letting the rust get worse. Fortunately, he lived Kula at 3000 feet above sea level and away from the salt air that would have made short work of the steel that was exposed. I have seen a video of a man with a 1973 E-9 in Honolulu that he was trying to restore. The amount of rust in that car is truly frightening. He was ready to give up at one point, but had put so much work in that he continued on for a while further. The there was no further update to the progress after he had most of the bodywork done, a few years ago. I’ll post a link to his blog in the links section.
This car, while needing some welding to be back on the road, is nowhere near that bad. Some might consider it a donor for better cars, but I can’t afford a better car than this at the going rates for these. I have seen worse cars with asking prices of 3X what I paid for this. It is complete, down the the last tool in the tool kit and runs pretty well. It will live, I’ll make sure of that.
I did have to pay for shipment from Maui to my new home in Austin TX, but I’m still ahead of the game. I’ll have an awesome car that will bring me many years of joy for less than an 8 year old ‘ordinary’ car.

BMW dealer postcard back 2800CS new class

BMW E3 sedan factory postcard

Howdy from Austin

I’ve made the move back to the mainland and brought most of the project with me. I had to leave the CX650 engine behind but brought the New Old Stock CX500 engine with me.
Texas law states that you can’t combine automobile and motorcycle parts in a vehicle. Probably due to too many VW trikes failing due to poor construction.
I’ll have to rethink my project and begin anew. Although I liked the torsion bar suspension of the Datsun truck frame, it’s heavy and not quite suited for the project.
I’m in a smaller space and the three wheeler project will have to wait till I get things setup for this project.

A detour ahead

Recently I’ve had a setback in the progress of the build. Super busy at work and some bathroom remodeling have not allowed any time for construction. A change of location may be in the works to allow for a proper shop setting. A few months will tell.
Please stand by.

Back in gear

I’ve been a bit busy with work and some house related chores so the build progress has been minimal. I’ve decided to have the steering rack shortened by a shop that does such work and is familiar with the process. That will mean shipping the rack to and from the mainland once I pick the appropriate machine shop.
As of yet, I haven’t found that vendor.
A lot of the build decisions hinges on the placement of the motor, and that will be determined by the placement of the steering rack, so this is a critical step. Once I have it shortened, I’ll be able to create the mount points to attach it to the frame.
Other parts have been trickling in, such as LED tailights from Speedway Motors.
1939 Ford taillight Speedway

I’m a long way from needing those, but it’s good to get parts once I’ve decided on what I need. Speedway has a huge amount of parts, mostly for racing and American street rods, but there are some useful things for me there as well.

The build progress should pick up a bit as the summer progresses, I have a nicely running Miata to get me to work and I think the Volvo’s issues are resolved. Once the clutch is replaced in the other convertible, all will be good, leaving more build time.

Steering towards the future

I’ve had a bit of a setback, or lack of a setback, depending on how you look at it. The steering rack I had planned to use, a stock Mustang II rack is too long. It can be shortened, but requires some machine work to be done properly, and a lathe is one tool that I don’t have and probably won’t be able for afford or find room for in the near future. Having one custom shortened is a possibility, but at 4 times the cost of the stock rack, which is very common and inexpensive due to its popularity with hot rodders and other builders. The stock steering on the Datsun 620 truck is a steering box with a very low ratio that I didn’t want to live with as well as not having a collapsible column that would be dangerous if not illegal to drive with.
The original steering box connected to two tie rods that ran out to the wheels, Unequal lengths would mean that bump steer would be a bit different for each wheel, but I think that being about on the swing point for the left lower suspension arm it would be negligible and the long distance from the right arm would make is quite small as well.
Looking for alternatives I’ve found two. Hot rods sometimes use a cross steer setup where the rack is single sided and steers the right wheel and there is a tie rod that crosses over and steers the left wheel. This is doable, but that type of special steering rack is almost as expensive as the custom shortened one.
Another choice is to use a different steering box and basically replace the original steering setup with new parts. The Vega box is once such choice that available new. Not as cheap as the Mustang II rack, but half the price of the customized rack.
So the build is stopped for a bit until I nail down the solution to my steering. I hadn’t realized that the lower arms of the Datsun were so close together. Oops.