E46 Fanatics Forum banner

My Steel Blue 1999 323i

1916 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Cellularr
Hello my beloved community! I guess I'll call this my "journal thread." I was inspired by Darkstar5379's "Aura" after I binge read his thread yesterday. I'll make updates and posts related to my 323i and hopefully make more pictures. To add to that; I also am a college student so don't expect regular posts, although I would love to make a "weekly post" in here in the future.

Tire Wheel Car Automotive parking light Vehicle

Anyways, here is the backstory:

My dad bought this beauty off of eBay out of Miami in 2011 (maybe 2010, I was too young to remember) and its been in my family ever since. He drove this car everywhere up until 2015 where the car sat for the most part. I hold a lot of attachment with this car as I grew up in it and hold a lot of memories of my dad and I in it, hence is why I don't sell it and buy a 330ci. In 2018, my dad and I were on the highway and hit a pothole where then the FL strut came out of the steering knuckle, broke the sway bar link on the top joint, which then swung out and punctured the tire (I hope you can envision this). The tow truck driver was amazed.

My story of the car begins in October 10, 2019 when I fixed the suspension and did an oil change. In return my dad gave me the keys. Over time I have been slowly doing all the maintenance of the car trying to restore it to its once former glory. Here I'll break the work I've done down into the years of ownership, starting year one beginning 123k miles.

Tire Automotive tire Motor vehicle Wheel Tread

Year One:

I started out by replacing both tie rods (inner and outers) and the bellows, taking note of the leaking rack and pinion end seals. Then I did the FCABS, control arms, front brakes, rear shocks and springs (one was broken, found out by my auto teacher). In the early spring I had a misfire issue being a coil pack. I then replaced the two broken door handles (NE Ohio likes to freeze these in the winter.), front tires (Riken Raptors), timing chain tensioner spring (only as pm).

The main problem of 2019/2020 was my fuse box. The issue began with a loose sunroof drain on the FR corner, so rainwater leaked onto the passenger floor and evaporated up into the fuse box, gm module, and relays. The corrosion on the fuse contacts gave me all sorts of issues like no crank/no start and brake lights always on which forced me to park the car. Middle of September I finally tackled this issue in a 3 day battle where I cut out the old box and soldered each individual wire. Not fun let me tell you.

Hood Motor vehicle Automotive design Vehicle Automotive tire

Sorry that was a lot of text, maybe should've made a list, let me know your input on how I should future categorize. With year one at an end I can say that the car does feel transformed, but still a long way to go. The eBay struts my dad put on are completely blown out, rack still leaks, all the rear bushings are original, oil leaks, power steering hose leaks, small coolant leak. She still has a long way to go. Sadly didn't record mileages yet.
See less See more
  • Like
  • Love
Reactions: 2
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Do you plan to bring it to a best shape possible or just to fix it and drive it? I´m curious because I´m also a student and I went with "best shape possible" option with my 323i, lol. A lot of money, a TON of work, as you already stated, but worth it. Good luck.
Year Two:

1/21/2021 ~127k miles
Did valve cover gasket and spark plugs. Noted that the plugs might've been original.

My first accident. I had a left green arrow, and a lady (Altima smh) jumped the light across the street thinking she was going to get the green. My damages remained on the FL corner of the car, luckily a low-speed incident.

Tire Wheel Car Vehicle Automotive tire

Tire Car Wheel Snow Land vehicle

Middle of February
My friend from school and I go out to PA to a junkyard who has a stahlbleu 328i. This is a real junkyard, not like Pull-A-Part that I have locally. No, this place makes Pull-A-Part look fun and easy. Ended up getting my bumper, fender, and scored on some xenon headlights to replace my halogens. Going to have to live with the hood.
Motor vehicle Bumper Automotive design Automotive tire Hood

Cabinetry Table Bottle Drawer Wood

I put the car together (albeit with a broken hand) and have my first drive in it once again. A very satisfying feeling, enough to make a grown man cry haha.
Tire Car Wheel Land vehicle Vehicle

(believe it or not that crusty condenser doesn't leak)
Car Land vehicle Vehicle Automotive parking light Grille

April - back to maintenance
(128900) I ordered the FCP Bilstein strut kit, upper radiator hose (pm), and expansion tank. Since I was in the automotive vocational at my school, I did my alignment for free.
I also had to do a wheel bearing because a piece of my wheel speed sensor broke off during replacement. I would've ignored it if I couldn't hear it rattle around inside.
Notes: I wish I went with Sachs kit because ride height increase with the Bilstein's.

April-May - Wish I wrote down the date here
(129850) Radiator and lower rad hose (pm) were changed because I misdiagnosed the coolant leak. Leak was on the neck where upper rad hose connects.
(129886) LiquiMoly oil change 5W-30, also used their engine flush and MoS2 additive.
Also took a cruise + photoshoot with my friend's K5 Optima

Wheel Tire Automotive side marker light Automotive parking light Vehicle
Car Automotive tail & brake light Vehicle Automotive parking light Vehicle registration plate
Tire Wheel Car Automotive parking light Vehicle
Wheel Car Tire Vehicle Land vehicle

(130272) CCV was changed using the FCP kit. I pulled the manifold for this following the 50's kid's video as instructions. Also did the accessory belts as pm.
Later in the month I scored in the junkyard on black power sport seats with lumbar support, black rear seats, silver gauge cluster trim, and a sport wheel with round airbag. The wheel is a bit beat up, but definitely an upgrade from the rectangle one. I know that I converted from a single stage to a dual stage airbag, but I'll take the risk.

I finally put rear tires on after one went fully bald. Also did some maintenance like air filters, jack pads, and new side skirt clips. One day I want to clean up the surface rust around the jack points.

I said goodbye to my car as I went to college, washed and waxed her on my last day at home.

My first day on winter break I found a set of (beat) style 68's on marketplace in Detroit for a cheap price. Took the trip and fell in love with them on first sight.

Year Two in Review
A very emotional year with the car starting with the accident, but the car has definitely has transformed once again. Started taking cruises in it, like going to Summit Racing to pickup parts for my C4 Corvette. Sadly I need to keep my head in the books and away from the wrenches.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Bonus post is assorted pics of style 68 wheels, an e30 in the back at my summer job, new and old steering wheels, the wax job I did in August, and lastly the seats I got

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Motor vehicle Car

Wheel Plant Vehicle Speedometer Odometer

Car Vehicle Motor vehicle Automotive design Steering wheel

Tire Wheel Car Cloud Vehicle

Wheel Tire Automotive parking light Car Vehicle
Vehicle Car Motor vehicle Automotive design Automotive tire
Car Vehicle Grey Bag Automotive design
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 2
Do you plan to bring it to a best shape possible or just to fix it and drive it? I´m curious because I´m also a student and I went with "best shape possible" option with my 323i, lol. A lot of money, a TON of work, as you already stated, but worth it. Good luck.
Eventually I'd love to do a light restoration on it (fix the little rust and hood), but until after I graduate college it'll be fix and drive with a OEM+ modifications in mind.
Great job and signs of love and caring for a vehicle!
  • Like
Reactions: 1
That steering wheel was. A big improvement. And nice job swapping the bumper. No small feat!
  • Like
Reactions: 2
Nice write-up! I'm glad my Journal threads inspired you to do the same! 😅

For me just starting to mod my car I defiantly hated the 4 spoke wheel, that's why is was probably my first of many mods on "Aura". Looking froward to future updates!
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Long overdue for an update - where were we? Ah yes, onto year 3. Note that this will be a short post, my time with the car isn't long because of college. Ironic that I only find the time to update while in college. Sorry for any grammar errors, I am lazy and didn't proofread.

Christmas last year my girlfriend bought me eBay headers (I picked them out). It wasn't until spring break where I would find the time to install them. The old manifold flange nuts were rusted away from good ol' Ohio weather, so I took them to the shop I apprentice at outside school to burn the studs out. Drove home worried about my local police pulling me over as they're (insert explicative of your choice) about anything and everything. I was really hoping this would be a 3 maybe 4 hour maximum job, oh no it couldn't have gone any worse. We'll start with the worst part, the flanges for the cylinder head - they were warped. They weren't warped like only a couple thou' where I could sand it out, no they were bowed like a 2x4 at Home Depot. So what do you do here? Can't put the old manifolds on because of the flanges, the new ones are pretty messed up; I did what was only right in the moment. Went to the gas station, got a couple monsters and trolli's (need snacks when it turns into a huge project) and got my hobo freight angle grinder with flap disk and went to town. I was in the garage working (more like all out verbal assault) until 6am when my mother came in to yell for me to go to bed. I later updated to EU2 and updated my EGS. EU2 passes Ohio E-Check and EGS fixed my issue where car would only start from stop in 2nd gear.

Headers? Check!
Do they leak? Yes!
Did you tighten all the nuts? Yes!
I'll just live with it until I can afford Racing Dynamics headers (preposterous they cost $600 but you pay for quality).

After that I didn't do much else with the car. I bought a new wheel for the LR as it was bent and the (brand new) old tire blew out. Went to a couple car shows - ECS's Turbos & Tacos and NEO C&C at MAPS air museum (visiting was an amazing experience). I took no pics of the car, I really need to start doing that. Even stole my sister's camera for the summer just to not take pictures haha.

This is where the BMW update stops, from here I'll touch on other things off topic from my car.

This summer I had the chance to work on many hoopties and many beautiful car and a couple beautiful cars aswell. I know no one here (including myself) cares for the hoopties so I'll save you the headache.
  • (unknown year) Buick T-type, this car was fully built including a huge turbo with period correct wastegate. The condition of the car just takes me away, it is immaculate, the paint is perfect, the interior had no scratches or marks on the piano black trim, just blown away as a young technician.
  • 1974 Bricklin SV-1. This has been a long project in the shop, I don't take credit for it's current state, it was all done by my boss. This car was found in a Florida garage with 880 original miles and we're getting it road ready. When I left the car has rebuilt calipers and we took a light cut on the drums/rotors (keep originality), got the engine running, had the fuel tank restored. The list goes on but you get the jist, we touched on everything but the trans and suspension, the later desperately needing all new bushings.
  • 2004 Corvette which needed an O2 sensor, nothing special about this car except difficulty to reach downstream O2.
  • 1984 Olds Delta 88 Royale which got a entirely new a/c system. The compressor blew up so it got everything because the metal in the system. This car wasn't hard, just annoying haha.
  • 1969 Corvette, a diamond in the rough. This car was a good 10 footer because it's been repainted once (probably Maaco). If you're a Corvette nerd like me here is the specs: originally a le mans blue, 454 big block with a 4 speed manual. Now she sits with as a grey car with a sb 350 and same 4 speed. It came in because the wiper door wouldn't close, the rag joint was shot, and the driver door wouldn't lock. Solution - vacuum hose disconnected for wiper door (very annoying diag), new rag joint, and all new locks (ignition and both doors). I can confidently say this now having worked on 3 different generations of Corvette, C3 C4 and C5. They all are a pain in the *** to work on. I put up with bmw shenanigans but corvettes are another level.

I wont add pictures for customer privacy, but they're all beautiful cars in their own right.

Last thing I'll talk about - my 1986 Corvette - Rose. She finally runs. After 2 years 9 months of fighting its running. Coincidently this happened the day after my birthday, so I think of it as the Rose's birthday gift to me. Quick story because my hands are tired of typing lol; I pulled the heads off it my junior year of high school to port match them. Note that I had NO EXPERIENCE with engine internals but I somehow had the balls to do this, looking back I regret ever doing this. My main battle was fighting timing, I kept resetting the distributor time after time to no end. Recently I picked up the battle again, the car would start but needed to be pedal fed to stay running, definitely misfire. After grabbing head exhaust outlet, I found a cylinder 1 dead miss. For testing I swapped the spark plug with cylinder 7 and cranked it again, but this time she ran and idled. Idled for the first time in 33 months.
Future plans with this car will be to properly set timing with timing light (I was running the car with EST disconnected so timing was fixed), fix leak around thermostat, change the gasoline infested oil, and fix the EGR crossover tube (idk if any C4 people will read this but it's the style with oetiker clamp) Going to add pictures to this post then go cry tears of joy (emotion from this still hasn't set in and also I just found out I didn't save my snap story of it running).

Ok it has not come to my attention that I really took 0 pictures of my cars this summer so I'll take some next time I go home and add them, just for the hell of it I'll add this ~5 y/o pic of Rose taken on my iPhone 4. Please laugh at me at my expense cause this is ironically funny. This was long before my ownership of either car. Yes the BBS wheels are real, everyone asks. They're a little rough but an 80's icon.
Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Hood

Thanks for sticking around, especially if you read the off topic part.
Until next time -
See less See more
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.