When I found my 1991 BMW 318is on one of the BMW forums, for sale almost 1,000 miles away, I jumped on it quicker than Ken Block smoking a new set of tires. Slicktop (no sunroof), manual transmission, unmolested, a great price, and it’s dark grey (I have a penchant for black cars). A quick VIN search also showed that the car had a factory limited slip differential. So I committed, sight unseen.
I probably should have asked more questions.
Turns out that even though I was buying the car in West Virginia, it had spent the previous 27.5 years in Ohio. Snowy, salty Ohio. As I was loading the car onto the trailer, crawling underneath to hook up the tow straps, I got my first glimpse of what I was in for: 27.5 years of rust. My heart sunk. I knew right then that my budget for the build—and the timeline—had just increased, and rather substantially. But I had a 1,000 mile drive home to think about it.
Upon getting the car home I put it up on jack stands. I don’t have the luxury of a lift, so I’d be spending a lot of time on my knees and my back. The first time sliding under that car I just had to lay there and let it all sink in. Boys don’t cry, right? A rusty differential, rust on the ends of the axles, rusty sway bars, end links, springs, exhaust shields, brake lines, etc.
A little bit of rust showing up on the edges of the rear trailing arms and subframe. A tiny bit of rust on the seams of the rocker panels and underside of the driver’s side door. But the engine sings. A solid transmission. A straight body, not counting a horrible respray with so many runs in the clear coat that it had to be on purpose.
An art project perhaps?
Long story short, this car has rust and that rust will create a lot of work. On the bright side, the running gear of this car will get a complete overhaul: reinforced and powdercoated subframes and rear trailing arms; new control arms, sway bars, end links, heat shields, motor mounts, and transmission mounts; upgraded suspension, race bushings, and new bearings. The underside of this e30 will be built better than it ever would have been had I purchased a Florida car. Had I bought a car from a rust-free state I would have just left it alone until something was needed.
Lesson learned. Do a little more homework. Ask questions. However, I suppose all this rust and this runny paint makes it easier to build the car I want instead of being scared to ruin a perfect e30.
Let the games begin.
Black Flagged was born from a desire to just get out there and do it: racing, drifting, building race cars—it was an idea to do something rather than sitting around and talking about it. All that coupled with a little goal of becoming ‘the best driver I know’. I’m documenting the whole thing on YouTube, starting with the purchase of the E46 M3, those aforementioned track days and autocrosses, and now the purchase and build of the e30. Subscribe to the YouTube channel to see how the build progresses!