1988 BMW M6 (E24)
After a disastrous steering failure on a winding road (fortunately late at night and thus involving no one else), my car waited around in the body shop for four months before a complete failure to find parts was the deciding factor in a declaration of structural total loss. My beautiful car is no more.
Rest in peace, honey.
The sexiest car on earth.
My work on this car is ongoing. At this point, I've done the following:
- New hydraulic accumulator (a.k.a. "the bomb") to fix braking problems. In a panic braking situation, my brakes would always be hard as a rock, then gradually come on strong. After turning off the car, the brakes would become hard immediately. It turns out that this is a common problem that is caused by the deterioration of the hydraulic pressure reservoir in the power seering/brake booster system (most cars use vacuum brake boost, but lots of Bimmers piggyback the brake boost on the power steering system instead). Some good instructions for replacing it can be found at the BMW E28 Resource (the late E24s are very similar to the E28 5 series in many respects, including this one). You can buy the new accumulator for a very reasonable price from Steve Haygood, whom I recommend highly for both his prices and his excellent service. While you're doing the accumulator, you should also change the power steering filter, which is located under a metal plate at the bottom of the power steering fluid reservoir. When refilling the power steering system, be sure to use DEXRON Automatic Transmission Fluid. Yup, ATF goes in your power steering system. Check your manual if you don't believe me.
- Conforti performance chip from Turner Motorsports. Jim Conforti's mapping buys you back at least as much power as was lost in the Euro-US conversion. Install is very easy (under an hour) and the results are fantastic. Other chips are available, and while some people are religious about one or another, my impression is that they are more or less all the same. If you know this not to be the case, I'd love to hear about it.
- Control/thrust arm bushings were replaced with those from the E32. The E24 is a heavy car, and especially with the larger wheels and stiffer suspension of the M6, the stock bushings just don't hold up well. If you experience shimmying around 65 MPH, you probably want a new set of bushings. The bushings themselves are cheap, but I didn't want to mess around with doing suspension work myself (don't really have the means to do it easily), so I turned to Terry Sayther to have it done. The guys at Terry Sayther Automotive are very knowledgeable and do excellent work. I recommend them highly.
- A new stereo. I replaced the factory head unit, removed the factor amp, and replaced the speakers. Since I already wrote it up for the Big Coupe Groupe Technical Library, just check it out there.
Things I'm planning on doing:
- Brake upgrades. Based on the collected wisdom of many people with more experience than me, I've decided that the right way to go is E32 rotors in the front with the stock M6 calipers, E34 rotors, calipers, carriers, and pads in the back, steel/teflon brake lines, and an E32 master cylinder. I'll put some more detailed info up as the install happens.
- An exhaust cam gear from Frank Fahey Motorsports. Dinan and others retard the exhaust cam timing, while Fahey advances it. According to Rene from FFM, this gives more torque at the low end without killing high end power, and does quite a bit better in "real world" driving situations than retarding the timing.
- A track pipe, also from Frank Fahey. This replaces the catalytic converter (no, I would never run on the street without a cat, honest!) with straight pipes that fit the otherwise freely-flowing stock system and have a replacement oxygen sensor plug. This will make the car slightly louder, but it should also improve performance tremendously.
- A strut tower brace from Bavarian Autosport. Increases the stiffness of the front suspension in turns. Gustave Stroes has an excellent discussion of the physics of strut tower braces.
- Some other minor hacks, like a central locking switch and whatever else I think of.
- This guy is a bit braver than I am. Plus, at 44k, I don't need a timing chain quite yet...
Questions? Comments? <firstname.lastname@example.org>