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atl530i New Reader
9/27/17 12:44 a.m.

So I like to punish myself.  It's quite apparent with the basket case E34's I for some reason keep buying.  With that being said, I decided to buy another wagon (my 3rd now) since it was in decent shape, black interior, LSD, and 130k miles.  A lot of records from the previous owners and in fairly good shape cosmetically and mechanically.  The blower motor decided to burn up and nearly took the car with it.  The blower motor was replaced in 2013 so it seems crazy that it would only last about four years.  I think the final stage resistor got hot and caused the fire to be honest.  There was still a lot of debris on the bottom and no record of it ever being changed.  What I started with.

Grand plan is another M52 or S52 OBD2 car.  I still have my OBD2 stuff from the last swap.

I began to dig into the car more and starting rethinking about my decision to buy this car...too late now!  The front harness was not burned up completely.  The wiring going to the recirculation actuators, final stage resistor, blower motor, and another sensor close to the blower motor needed to be changed since the wiring was encased in melted plastic.  The pigtails with the plug needed to be spliced in and that was about it.  I am amazed there was no further damage to the wiring.

The previous owner kept a fire extinguisher in the car but unfortunately it was the ABC type and crap went everywhere.  A complete mess.  Out with the rest of the interior and clean everything up.

Picked up a 94 525i wagon parts car for free basically and had the HVAC system out within an hour.  Second time always goes faster.  That's my Fusion of the 6 speed variety :)

Started putting the car back together.  Cleaning up stuff as I went along.  The only difference between the 92 HVAC and 94 HVAC system is the blend option on the center vent.  The 92 version uses an electric actuator while the 94 version uses a bowden cable.  This made no difference in this system since they both came out of M50 cars.  Early model I6 cars and V8 cars may differ.

Got the cluster in and dash electronics connected and tested everything.  It all works! 

How it currently sits.  I've been working on this on and off for the past couple weeks after work and in my spare time that I really do not have.

Update #1 - May 3, 2017

Small update.  I had some free time on Sunday to put the rest of the car back together.  I got a decent Kenwood radio from a customer at work for free (he was upgrading) that has bluetooth, color matching lights, and was all black so that was installed as well...perks of the job.  

I managed to get the passenger side done on Friday after work.  So this is what I started with on Sunday.  


After.  I cleaned everything off once more (not the last since it's still pollen season here) and tested everything out.  Everything works except the AC, I still need to get that recharged.  No more melted bits.

I was messing with the double sunroof after I was done.  It 100% works.  The previous owner recovered the headliner and greased the tracks for the panels when everything was out of the car.  It works really well.  First wagon that I bought with a working sunroof, quite nice.  Pardon the dirty car, it currently sits because the interior was in pieces. 

I had the front and back open at the same time but did not get a pic of that.  I took the racks off because I do not use them.

It'll make a nice cruiser since everything I have is a 6 speed now, it's nice to have at least one lazy car in the bunch.

Update #2 - May 9, 2017

I have a 20a fuse in both of my E34's.  I usually do not use the HVAC system in either E34, it's windows down or seat heaters depending on temperature.  

Made some more progress over the weekend.  Ditched the free forms and clears in favor of projectors and ambers.  I also found some late model/tds grills for it.

Still looking for another tail light.

Update #3 - June 26, 2017

Small update.  I got the AC recharged finally and the entire HVAC system is 100% operational now.  Cold air and hot heat with no fires!  The transmission did overheat and throw a trans program message though, don't care because it's going away.

I did manage to pick up another 1992 525i 5 speed with 144k that was enthusiast owned but unfortunately was in Boston for four years.  Came with a complementary blown M50nv.  Clean exterior but the doors, part of the driver floor pan, and some other bits have rust on them so I decided to use it for what I had originally bought it for...parts.  I probably would have saved it but oh well, cool wagon stuff moving on.  Interestingly enough, they are both sterling silver over black and one month separates them on the production line.

ZF 5 speed swap, s3.23, wheels, H&R's/Bilstein sports/E.A.T. chip, and some misc crap will end up on the wagon.  The rest will be sold off.

This wagon is getting a new lease on life at the expense of a rust bucket lol.

Update #4 - September 4, 2017

So I ripped thru that parts car and started disassembling the wagon today.  I'm going to pull the motor, clean the rest of the fire extinguisher residue, reseal the engine, and drop it back in but with a 5 speed instead.  I also rebuilt the hatch harness (few month ago).  I found the trim pieces at the junk yard so the missing trim is no longer missing.

Bumpers, wheels, and a few other items also made their way on the wagon.  I think I'll stick with the Borbet's for a while, I kinda like them.  

Left it as this for the evening, I probably have another hour or two before the engine is on the stand and the slushbox is in the trash.

Update #5 - September 13, 2017

Made some more progress.  I got the engine on the stand, cleaned up, and resealed.  I sold my obd2 stuff to help offset the cost of that kick ass interior (priorities right?) so I have been thinking of other options.  The thought of megasquirt 2 with a turbo since the motor is very healthy if the car sticks around a while.  The car pulled very nicely thru the RPM range.  Even if I decide to go M52 or S52, I can always get another OBD2 harness made.  Good to have options.

I have a lot of work to do to the engine bay, disgusting.

Parts pile.  

Cleaned up engine the best I could without a complete disassembly.  Painted the valve cover and resealed the engine.  I put a safety nut from Bimmerworld on the oil pump since I had the oil pan off.  Came out nice.

Cleaned the transmission up as well.

Picked up some new wheels with good Michelin tires.   

Update #6 - September 17, 2017

I finished cleaning up the engine and resealing it.  I pretty much replaced every seal minus the head gasket.  My current thought process is that if it blows, I'll find a low mileage M52/S52 and convert the car to OBD2 like my last M52 E34.  I also thought about an M54B30 since those are getting cheap and are easier to find.  M52's like boost so that's still top option for me.  

Cleaned the engine bay.  Most of the ABC stuff went on top the transmission and below the intake manifold.



I plan on using the wiring harness, intake manifold, throttle body, and a few other items from my parts car because they were a lot cleaner to begin with.  The engine bay looks a lot better.  I plan on taking the SLS (LAD) plumbing out of the car since that is now gone.  I am replacing the power steering pump with a single-vane style pump so those lines and reservoir will no longer be needed.  I ordered new power steering lines and reused the other reservoir but have not installed any of that yet.  Motor mounts will also be replaced.  I plan on flushing the brakes and checking for rubber line deterioration.  I plan on refreshing the brakes (they are fine but I have no records of them being done) after I get the car moving again. 

Pedals are in and the clutch master is plumbed. 

More updates to come.  

I am still waiting on my LSD to be resealed, driveshaft, and a few other little things before I can drop the engine in.  


atl530i New Reader
9/27/17 1:18 a.m.
conesare2seconds Dork
9/27/17 2:02 a.m.

Nice work on a daunting project. 

mazdeuce MegaDork
9/27/17 6:24 a.m.

You make it all seem so reasonable and easy. A!so, those cars are aging exceptionally well visually. Very pretty. 

atl530i New Reader
9/27/17 9:46 a.m.

In reply to mazdeuce :

I've always liked E34's. I've had quite a few of them.  This has been anything but easy on something lol.

This is my other E34.

dannyzabolotny Reader
9/27/17 3:36 p.m.

Good to see another Bimmer Forums member on here :) I have an E39 540i wagon, but I've always loved the way the E34 wagons looked.

oldtin PowerDork
9/27/17 4:25 p.m.

Nice work - although I have to laugh a little at your description of a rust bucket e34. Most have disappeared from around here. Last one I saw had baseball sized rust holes in the doors. I have an e61 wagon. After having sampled a good cross section of BMWs - I think I like the older ones better than newer - although I like the quiet and convenience stuff - the dynamics and feel are better on the older cars. Keep the updates coming.


atl530i New Reader
9/27/17 6:06 p.m.

In reply to dannyzabolotny :

I built an E34 540i6 wagon last year, ended up selling it to a friend.  

In reply to oldtin :

The floor pan and inner driver fender were messed up pretty bad.  The door bottoms like to collect water if the drains get clogged and those can rust really bad also.  Can't see any of it until it's too late.  There were some rust bubbles on body.  With what it takes to fix rust, it wasn't worth fixing on a car that is worth maybe $1500 - 2k tops so I decided against fixing it.  

I had a 2007 328i and agree with the feel and dynamics.  The steering on the E90 was a lot nicer but the interior was sub-par compared to the interior in the red E34.  

MadScientistMatt PowerDork
9/28/17 4:03 p.m.

Very nice build!

You do know that we've cooked up a plug and play option for OBD1 harnesses, right? :D

Billy_Bottle_Caps GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/28/17 4:17 p.m.

Great looking wagon,

atl530i New Reader
9/28/17 7:12 p.m.

In reply to MadScientistMatt :

Have a web site I can look at?  Is it an adapter harness?  

MadScientistMatt PowerDork
10/2/17 1:31 p.m.
atl530i said:

In reply to MadScientistMatt :

Have a web site I can look at?  Is it an adapter harness?  

Not a harness. It's a complete, all in one box, package.

MSPNP Pro for M50 / S50

crankwalk GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/2/17 6:18 p.m.

This thread is fantastic.


I see the sedan come in. "Oh look it's a manual! He's not gonna.....he is! He is going to make them one good car!"

Outstanding work.

atl530i New Reader
10/7/17 6:06 p.m.

I got the detents done and driveshaft back this week so I was able to get some more work done.  I also picked up an M5/M Sport steering wheel but haven't installed it.  I have a set of black sport seats that came out of my M Sport that I may throw in this car.  

Made some great progress last night and today.  I finished the rear main, flywheel, clutch, and got everything put together for today.  

My cat that likes to supervise these projects.  

Engine and trans back in the car.

I got the wiring harness installed but need to tone out a few of the connectors.  Guess that's what I get for not labeling anything.  Shouldn't take but a few minutes since you only need to tone one wire on each connector.

This is nice to see.

Also installed a single vane power steering pump, reservoir, and the correct lines so there is no need for this stuff now.  

Slippery GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/7/17 6:24 p.m.

Looking great!

I saw your Instagram post with the cat and was wondering who this was laugh. I started following you a while ago when you started the thread and then forgot about the car. 

atl530i New Reader
10/7/17 9:12 p.m.

My cat keeps garage morale high even though I caught him sleeping in the job during the last swap.  

wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/8/17 9:20 a.m.

Fantastic thread! 

atl530i New Reader
10/17/17 11:50 p.m.

I got the intake on and the rest of the cooling system installed.  I ended up with two extra 525i radiators (not including the one I already have) that are basically new so if one fails, I have backups.  It fired (no pun intended) right up and I immediately noticed a small fuel leak at the rear of the fuel rail.  I ended up replacing that small hose again and no more leaks.  Seems like the car wants to burn up all the way this time.  Also broke the small nipple on the separator going to the brake booster.  I wrapped it in electrical tape until the new part shows up.  I did the same thing on my M52 car and tried to not break it...oh well. 

A few zip ties and new coolant, power steering (atf now), and a brake flush and this part is done.  All easy stuff at this point. Still waiting in my diff to be completed. 

Cluster from my parts 525i5 with the original coding plug.  Low brake fluid because the reservoir is empty.  Also need to wire up the reverse lights and trick the cluster so it doesn't display trans program.  Idling a little high so I'll have to check why.  Hopefully it's something simple.  It's not hunting so that's good.  

akylekoz HalfDork
10/18/17 6:52 a.m.

I have one question, once upon a time I had an E34 525i. 

How rare was it to have a close ratio 5 speed with 3.90:1 rear gear. 

It was one of my favorite cars, it was chipped and had adjustable rear bushings, other than that stock and I just loved driving it.

I sold it to a friends son, when he sold it I wrote the add for him.  The story is some guys from Chicago area came up to see it (not much to look at) then they drove it and couldn't part with their cash fast enough.  It really ran that great.

atl530i New Reader
11/15/17 11:56 p.m.

Been busy with family so the car has been sitting for the past month.  I was also waiting on the diff to come back during that time.  The swap is pretty much done except flushing the brakes.  One of the bavauto coils failed already.  The car would idle fine for the first 20 minutes or so and then stumble at idle.  I swapped the #5 coil and it runs great now.  They were freebies so not a big deal.  



Rest of the drive train installed.  I installed the exhaust before the video was made.  My neighbors have a newborn so I have to be considerate of that.  I also removed the rest of the SLS system.  The accumulators, camber sensor, level regulator, and the rest of the lines that ran to the front of the car are gone.  

Style 42's on, sold the Borbet's to a friend.

DS2 HID's from my parts car installed.

dannyzabolotny Reader
11/16/17 10:50 a.m.

I'm glad to see it getting wrapped up— one more manual wagon in the world is always a good thing!

Now I want to go work on my 540it... I feel kinda guilty for neglecting it the past month since I've been driving my Corvette everywhere.

mcbacon New Reader
11/16/17 11:57 a.m.

This is very nice.  I've always had a soft spot for older BMWs ever since my father had a 1982 E21 320i.  That was such a nice car.  My wife and I wanted to get a 2011 E87 128i, but the financing was ridiculous and ended up with a Mk6 Jetta instead.  I'm glad to see such clean work on it!

docwyte SuperDork
11/16/17 1:51 p.m.

Such an awesome build!  I love the older BMW E34/E39 wagons.

nedc Reader
11/16/17 3:38 p.m.

Style 42s are my favorite BMW wheel...but I don't want to be the person that has to clean them! Great job on the car.

mcbacon New Reader
11/16/17 3:51 p.m.

In reply to nedc :

Those do indeed look tedious to clean. I wonder if there's a better way than the usual manual brushing to get in between those spokes.

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