das bavarian bomber
the bmw war machine that fought us every step of the way
I arrived at the shop on a rainy April afternoon. The 6'er was rougher even than it had looked in the pictures. Missing trim and a coating of slime were the least of its problems. Hesitantly, I got out of the truck to give it a walk around. Dents on the roof, missing pieces galore, and a note that said "Starts but don't run" on the window were the first things I noticed. But then I noticed something else... The way the hood perfectly aligned to the body, the door gaps were smooth. The trunk lid slightly bonked but not irreparable. No rust, and a generally complete car. I ran a finger over the grimy fender, an introduction of sorts. There was a pull that I couldn't ignore. I had always loved the E24 body style. The aggressive shark nose, the slight rake, the timeless BMW styling and design. I also loved a challenge, and at $400, my logic of being able to part it out for what I had into it had me saying "Why not?" And so, Das Bavarian Bomber came home with me.
Settling into the shop next to my 1976 Datsun 280z
The first order of business was simple: A bath. A cocktail of chemical cleaners, degreasers, washing solution, clay bar, and some razor work on the glass had the big coupe shinier and de-slimed, and I was able to see that there was a fog to the Schwarz I black paint. It was a consistent fog across the whole body, so I knew the car hadn't been panel painted. The glass was all in good condition and all present, and for a junkyard car I was surprised at just how much water stayed outside of the car and didn't make its way inside. A quick rinse of the engine bay and we were better able to see about the "Starts but don't run" diagnosis. With a fresh battery, we were quickly able to ascertain that the translation to that was that the car would crank but wouldn't turn over.
Soaking up the sun before a second bath, still in the process of diagnosing the engine issue and getting the grime off.
My father liked the car, despite its current state of disrepair. It sat for weeks with no progress made as I found myself distracted with other work on other projects. It was just before Thanksgiving that I got an idea... I would give the car to my father as a gift. You see, my father has unquestionably supported me. He has come to car meets, helped me trailer cars and parts around the country, been a financial backer on more than one occasion, and generally been my biggest fan as I take on the automotive world. I set a soft date of Christmas delivery and got to work. I let my mom in on the surprise, and told her no matter what it took, she had to keep him from stopping by my house.
The teardown begins. The tan interior and cracked dash all have to go.
Interior coming apart. Long nights like this made me grateful for Georgia and our mild climate.
The dying of the interior begins. Gallons of Duplicolor Vinyl & Plastic dye were used to convert the interior from tan to cardinal and black
Dying the seats cardinal red while the Datsun looks on.
Rear seats and trim re-installed and absorbing a healthy dose of lanolin and conditioner to bring back the supple nature of the vinyl.
Turning my attention to rear panel surface rust repair and paint touchup, as well as repairing a small dent (above driver tail light).
My father enjoys opera. Making sure it sounds like a concert hall.
The completed woodgrain enclosure in the trunk. A small 8" subwoofer is all it took for Pavarotti to come to life inside the car.
Continuing to diagnose the 3.2 six cylinder. The motor would eventually be yanked in favor of a 3.5 from a 1991 735 donor car.
I decided to correct the original paint rather than re-spraying the car. This was a labor of patience and love. The wheels were replaced with correct basket weave style hoops, and the paint was wetsanded, cut, buffed, and polished out.
Paint correction almost complete, interior back in, Euro-spec side lights giving it a sleeker look. The end is in sight.
I cannot thank Meguiar's enough... They caught wind of the project and sent me hundreds of dollars worth of product. Paint is now a mirror shine. Literally.
A glorious and nearly complete shark makes a final trip outside for a final bath before being presented to my father for his birthday in February. M6 front air dam installed as well.
Needless to say, there are few things that catch a man more off guard than being presented with a car for his birthday. The 3.2 in the car was temperamental, to say the very least, and since he has received the car, we have pulled it and installed a 3.5 out of a later 735. Small upgrades and changes have been made, he wanted a spoiler so I sourced one for him, and he wants the chrome blacked out so it looks like the Shadowline edition which was released in the US. Once the swap is tucked in and complete, the car goes in for paint for the transformation to be complete, and my dad and I have a car to cherish forever. <3
Decklid with spoiler installed, trim off in preparation for paint.
Enjoying some late fall sun with a nearly complete swap under the hood.
The 635 Shadowline edition, which is what we are aiming for from an aesthetic standpoint. I think we're pretty darn close.
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