1980 M535i

Pictures and info

    M535i #18 is well on its way to full bodywork and rust repair as well as a full repaint when its done. The car will be a solid, no excuses, no stories, 100% rust-free E12 M535i when all done. The car will be far from original (it already was when I started). It will be, in the words of a good friend, "kind of like Anakin Skywalker when he becomes Darth Vader" in that so many of the body parts will be replaced and made new/better, but the original core of the car remains (mostly).

I have been doing a better job at posting updates to the mye28.com Eye Candy thread so check there for the most up-to-date information on the process with pictures. mye28.com link

Here is an overview of the project:

  1. Phase 1: Rear 1/3 of the car bodywork and rust repair. This is from the back window to the tail lights, and everything in between. COMPLETED April 2014
  2. Phase 2: Front 2/3 of the car bodywork and rust repair. This extends from the back seats forward. IN PROCESS October 2014
  3. Phase 3: Paint in original Alpine White I with added Motorsport stripes. TBD start date
  4. Phase 4: Reassembly of the car, with moderate improvements and correction of timing chain cover oil leaks. TBD start date

    I've had a tremendous wealth of support from many resources. Starting with Sears Autobody in Plymouth, MN, an extremely competent shop that works on modern BMW's and other German cars, but also knows a thing or two about these older cars. Thanks to Mike "Gelly" the shop manager and Paul who did all the work including the welding and panel repair. I could never do this without the patience and insight of the E12 and E28 community and parts support from Steve and his staff at Blunt Tech. They have ridiculously fast response times and are extremely helpful in tracking down parts, calling BMW, and coordinating delivery for all these panels that came from Germany. I also received help from Albrecht at Walloth and Nesch in Germany who had two of the key panels (spare tire well and inner wheel housing) that were NLA from BMW. I also am fortunate to have the fantastic parts CD website of realoem.com where I spend a lot of time looking up parts so I can speak intelligently about how they fit together and part #'s when I contact Blunt Tech or WAlloth and Nesch.

2013-2014 Phase One


Phase 1 Overview:

  1. Rust repair in rear shock towers, wheel arches, and quarter panels.
  2. Diff mount/trunk floor repair and strengthening
  3. Trailer hitch/trunk floor/tail light panel welding repair
  4. Fix rust in rear window channel, particularly bubbles passenger side, bottom corner
  5. Roll rear fenders on the new panels to clear 9" wide BBS wheels
  6. Replace trunk lid because someone drilled a large hole under the Roundel
  7. Eliminate Federalized side markers in quarter panels

Replacement panels:

  5. CORNER PLATE WHEEL HOUSING REAR LEFT 1 41141820495 (didn't use this)
  6. CORNER PLATE WHEEL HOUSING REAR RIGHT 1 41141820496 (didn't use this)
  7. RIGHT REAR SIDE PANEL 41351864036
  8. LEFT REAR SIDE PANEL 41351864359
  9. FILL-IN FLAP 51171864759 25.36
  14. TAIL PANEL 41341862486
  15. PARTITION LEFT 41131820497
  16. Trunk lid 41621828939 (not new/sourced from parts car)

This phase started with what I thought was a very realistic assessment of how much work would be involved, and that there was a lot of rust. But I wasn't even prepared for how extensive the repair would be, which ended up requiring a full rebuild of the entire back of the car. I learned that the car was really unsafe to drive at more than a parade speed, and the extent of metal fatigue (and failure in the trunk/diff mount area) explains why the car's body creaked so much over bumps like the curb at the end of my driveway!

Also the availability of nearly every panel in the back of the car made this much more doable than it would have been without. There was little to no fabrication required, but the bodyshop took great care to disassemble the car in phases so the rear structure would not collapse in on itself. We also had to reuse the flat piece immediately behind the back seats because it was no longer available from any sources. Paul removed it and reworked it to correct some of the bends and metal fatigue, also utilizing the new under trunk lateral support piece and channel to increase structural rigidity. In other words, the diff mount should be a solid work of art and will stand the test of time.

Paul also was able to weld in new metal and integrate the new rear window channel piece where there was rust to completely repair that area. There may be other items I'm forgetting or glossing over. Like how challenging it was for Paul to get the inner wheel houses squeezed in and welded in place.

Replacement Panels

Tearing it down

Looks like a 2002 Touring

Broken rear diff mount/cross brace. Paul said it came out already in pieces.

Welding new panels in and putting her back together. Reassembly to completion of phase 1.

2014-2015 Phase Two


Phase 2 Overview:

  1. Replace radiator core support and repair crash damage to flat tray behind passenger side headlight.
  2. Fix rust in the windshield wiper motor cavity, firewall, and in transmission tunnel.
  3. Rust and floor repair in front jack points, and driver/passenger side floorboards
  4. Rust repair/metal touch up around front shock towers
  5. Rocker repair (replacement if necessary)
  6. Weld in base mounting point for reproduction Alpina dead pedal (purchased from Paul Cain)
  7. Fill in transmission tunnel holes from aftermarket a/c drain lines
  8. Assess other small holes/spots behind fenders
  9. Assess frame rails, repair as needed
  10. Weld in new metal/repair windshield lower corner rust areas
  11. Replace front fenders and fit core support and Motorsport airdam to achieve small panel gap and quality fit and finish
  12. Replace doors with four new units/US-spec with side impact beams from factory
  13. Weld in repairs to cowl where cracks had developed
  14. Weld in reinforcements for door brakes where body was cracking
  15. Replace hood
  16. Fix waves in leading edge of sunroof panel metal

Replacement panels:

  1. EURO FENDER 41351820467
  2. EURO FENDER 41351820468
  4. FRONT PANEL 41331848181
  5. DOOR FRONT RIGHT 41511874986
  6. Door front left 41511874985
  7. Door rear left 41521874987
  8. Door rear right 41521874988

After the car came back to my house in May 2014, I procrastinated a bit over the summer, slowly took apart a few things including removing the diff and driveshaft, and then made quicker progress of the dashboard, engine, transmission, and other misc items. The last push came the weekend before the car was picked up where I removed the carpet, padding, sound deadening, steering box, brake system, wiper motor assembly, steering column, and pedal bracket. There's probably more, but you get the idea.

The car was flatbedded back to Sears autobody where they began using the wire wheel to see how bad the rust was. They also removed the fenders, doors, airdam, and are forming a plan of attack (and an estimate) for the second phase. I sent the car with the airdam because I want them to be able to test fit it when the new core support is in place and new fenders.

Replacement Panels

Summer parts removal and Oct 2014 back at the bodyshop, wire wheel.