It all started when...
While on our trip to Atlanta, GA in July, we received word that there was an old BMW available... and with our love of all things old and European, interest was piqued and we made plans to view it upon our return.
We were told it needed a head gasket, a $60 part on a BMW of this vintage - Why not? We went to view it and could see the diamond in the rough. It needed love, but we could tell that it had been well taken care of for the greater part of its life. It was garaged by 2 of the previous 3 owners and had a handful of new parts installed over the years, so, mechanically, there wasn't a lot to it.
We'll take it!
The deal was made and we made arrangements for a tow back to headquarters. Per tradition, the first thing we did was get it washed and vacuumed out to assess the vehicle and create a game plan. Of course, "Before" photos were taken to show its beginning condition.
The seats were beginning to show their age, so we took them out to recondition them:
With the seats removed to be prepped and dyed, what better time to steam the carpets:
Something still needed to be done in the interior, it needed a special touch to really set it apart from other e23s, but we wanted subtlety. As a solution, we took the wood grain out, sanded the finish away, and re-stained it to a beautiful red cherry finish. It went from an "old" luxury interior to simply lux.
With the major interior work done, we moved to the exterior to begin the paint restoration. This paint is 35 years old, yes, but on the other hand, it is a 7 series. BMW has a tendency to lay the clear pretty heavily with their flagship models, giving us detailers plenty of real estate for restoration.
There were some spots where the color had begun to fade, so of course, we went a little lighter around those areas. Our main concern was bringing back the luster of the paint as much as possible. Its a balancing act in detailing that takes years to master.
And of course, while we're at it, steam clean around the characters of the "733i" nomenclature:
While we're in there... (this car had a lot of those)
After many hours in the garage, with the paint finally in proper condition, it was time for coating to keep it there. We coated the vehicle with IGL Quartz ceramic coating to deepen the finish and give it years of worry free protection and maintenance.
While all of this was going on, we had the engine head removed and out for rebuilding by Loop 70 Machine in Columbia, MO. We took advantage of this time and extra space in the engine bay and decided to give that a steaming, too, after taking off the lower timing cover and replacing the chain guides, gaskets, and front main seal. This car does not leak a drop of fluids anywhere and now runs like a top! The valves were adjusted to spec after installation of the head and fitted with all new gaskets up top, too.
A wheel well cleaning was also necessary:
When this car was purchased, we hardly had an idea of what the end result would look like. We would regularly skim internet posting for BMW wheels of any kind to see if anything stood out, and after a few weeks, the perfect set popped up that would give us a chance to test our wheel refinishing skills.
They also happened to be a part of the optional BBS kit back in the 80s on the e23 chassis:
Seeing the potential, we traveled to Kansas City the next day to pick them up. Upon our return, we got to work right away. We:
• Chemically stripped them of their existing finish
• Hand and machine polished the lips
• Repainted the centers and windows followed by a baking process to ensure full adhesion and curing
• Ordered new BMW Roundels to replace the faded ones
After finishing the wheels, we ordered a set of BF Goodrich Radial T/As in 225/60/14 (what a hard size to find!) and had them installed courtesy of our friend Zach Pappas at Plaza Tire (Smiley Lane) in Columbia, MO. Easily the most expensive size of tire, we thought to go significantly cheaper with any other size in that neighborhood, but we knew that no other size would give us the period correct look we were after. A theme we adhered closely to with this car was keeping it as 80s as possible, and M&B spares no expense when a goal is in place. This wheel and tire combination really set this car off.
We landed a video review from the famous Driven Channel!