Driveline Blog Builds: BMW E28 5-series
Back in August I posted about a new feature at DrivelineBlog.com called Driveline Blog Builds (DLBB). The goal of this new feature series is to highlight one project vehicle a month going forward. I was hoping to launch DLBB in August, so this is a little behind schedule. Someone once said “better late than never,” an aphorism that I’m happy to apply in this case.
Our inaugural DLBB vehicle for October 2009 is a heavily modified 1988 BMW 528e which the owner–who asked that I don’t reveal his real name, so I’ll go with “Bob”–is planning to race in the 2010 Tire Rack One Lap of America. A friend told me about this project, and Bob was kind enough to let me swing by his garage earlier this year to take some pictures and ask some questions about the project.
Bob’s project started with a 1988 BMW 528e in close to new condition he found after a web search a few years ago. “This car sat in a garage in California from 1992 onwards, had a single owner, had full documentation, had only about 50,000 miles, and everything was in great shape.” Bob mentioned that that not having to do bodywork on the vehicle was a bonus for him, as he really wanted to focus more of his time on the powertrain and suspension.
Rather than go with the stock motor, Bob opted for a 3.3L S52 V6 cylinder motor from a 1998 BMW M3 that he balanced, rebuilt with a new valve job, equipped with a T04e-60 turbo, and bolstered with a host of other engine component upgrades. “My goal was to try and keep most of the components from the firewall forward as stock or easily replaceable as possible,” Bob explains. “If I’m running laps in this and something breaks, I want to make sure I can run to the local BMW dealership and have good odds of finding those parts in stock.”
Engine control will likely be handled by an AEM unit from Evosport.com, and the transmission is a e36 ZF 5 speed manual sourced from an M3. The tranny will be mated to a 400hp clutch and an aluminum flywheel. Bob conservatively estimates that the motor will put out 400-420 horsepower at the rear wheels by the time he’s finished, but final numbers may fluctuate between now and when his project finally hits the track.
Some of the more unusual elements of Bob’s project are motor/transmission mounts pulled from a Toyota Supra, and a rack and pion steering setup that proved to be more problematic than Bob anticipated. “I originally tried a rack and pinion unit from a e39 BMW 528i, but that was for a front steer car,” Bob said. “I found a rear steer rack online that only cost me about $300 that should work fine.”
Bob is still hoping to run the car in the 2010 Tire Rack One Lap of America, and plans to downplay all the significant enhancements he’s made to the vehicle. In a forum post on MyE28.com — a popular online hangout for BMW E-series buffs — Bob outlined his strategy:
I want this car to be a sleeper. No spoilers, stripes, wings, in fact I have a set of 16″ factory steel wheels which I will have widened to 8″ and will run BMW hub caps and beauty rings. I want to see the face of the Porsche GT3 or new M3 driver when the old euro taxi goes flying by.
I hope you’ll join me in wishing Bob the best of luck with One Lap of America exploits, and we’ll keep tabs on his progress. If you know of a vehicle worthy of being featured as a monthly Driveline Blog Build, drop me an email at email@example.com.