tire stickers

Welcome to my $500 BMW 5-speed junk box! Please remove your shoes & mahalo. lol

I wanted a new project car. I really didn’t care too much what it was. But the challenge I put forth on myself for this new project – was that I do NO research! As both an enthusiast & magazine editor, I’m honestly BORED TO DEATH with the internet giving us all the answers before we even potentially start a new project. All the ‘fingertip internet research’ takes a major element of fun & thrill out of modding a car.

E34 BMW

Plus – the more searching & following you do online, the more you subconsciously get funneled into just copying variations of what you see on your screen. Even from the very start of this project, I bought the car sight unseen. Not even a photograph! Check out our Youtube channel to see the purchase. https://youtu.be/TUrTww5CWDY

The car was 500 bucks because it had cooling issues that had not been able to be tracked down. Pelican Parts makes a cooling-fix ‘kit’ for this car… basically giving you all the parts in a kit to really slap the problem from all ends. It’s about $250. We swapped-out the parts, thoroughly bled the cooling system, and after about 30 minutes of bleeding the system, burped out a HUGE air bubble that must have been trapped in the heater core. Boom – temps went steady & the heater came on in full function!

That makes it time to get underway with the fun part… WHEELS / TIRES / SUSPENSION

BMW cosmos wheels

COSMIS XT206R in Hyper Bronze – 18×9.5″ +10   

YOKOHAMA Advan Apex in 265/35/18I know it’s popular like to stretch skinny tires on wide wheels, but I just can’t figure out when & where that became neat. It’s like showering with your dad to save water. Anyway, 265-width is a proper meaty fit for a 9.5in wide wheel. And if they rub stuff; I’ll cut stuff.

BC RACING BR-Series coilovers. BC makes solid coilovers. They perform well, they ride well, and they have great adjustability. Plus, if you have a slightly more obscure car like this E34 BMW… they’ll probably have an application for it. BC recommended their ‘Extreme Low Kit’ for the E34… which is no lie! That’s because if you drop this thing all the way down, it sits on the oil pan lol. But if extreme-low is what you want… these aren’t playing around. I brought it up a good bit to be where it’s sitting now. 

E34 BMW 18x9.5

Right out the gate, the tires were rubbing the coilovers on the front of the car, so we ordered 20mm spacers with extended wheel bolts. 

With the new 20mm spacers on the front, we were clearing the coilovers. But now the wheels/tires were pushed out & all-up-in the fenders. I got to work rolling fenders. 5000 hours later. The front fenders are ‘ok’, but I’m not in love. 

God took over on the rear wheel fitment, and it was dead-on perfect! But it just kept bugging me that the rear fitment was perfectly tucked, but the front had poke. It wasn’t the way I wanted it, so I got bored/curious & ordered 20mm spacers for the rear too. That was gonna require some extensive 1/4 panel pulling/cutting. BUT REMEMBER the theme here: It’s a $500 car. Meaning we’re not ruining a good car; we’re saving a ruined one. 

E34 BMW flares

I stumble on a Russian company called Jumdoo that makes flares (hadn’t heard of them before now). They seem to be on point, and have a few style options with a slim design. A slim design is essential to me with the E34: 

  1. So it’s not to ‘bubbly’. 
  2. To clear the rear doors. 

By coincidence, I happen to find 1 remaining set of 2″ Jundoo CLASSIC flares on Amazon Prime with free returns. That was all I needed to pull the trigger & give ‘em a try. 

I test fit the flares. Nothing’s for sure, but it looks like these things are gonna work pretty well maybe. It’s time to man up & cut some 1/4 panels & fenders! 

Boi! It took me a day to get the flares on… with constant re-measuring, stressing, pacing & whatnot. But I’m on a high with the results & potential here! The flares allowed me to reshape the BMW’s wheel arches, and move the rear arch up higher on the body line to match the front (that had been bothering me about the E34). Now I’ll go get it aligned, then go back & makes the necessary fitment tweaks.  

Other Maintenance Since Purchase

1) We bought the car for $500. It ran, but wanted to overheat. And hadn’t moved in 6 years!

2) We dumped $160 on a new battery & store-brand oil change. 

3) We spent $260 on a Water Pump Super Kit from Pelican Parts. The kit comes with everything you need to parts-slap your entire cooling system: thermostat, water pump, fan clutch, hoses, new belts, cap, coolant, gasket maker, Redline Water Wetter, etc. This fixed the overheating issue!! The engine seems happy, the temps seem stable, and it thankfully was NOT a head gasket issue! 

4) We put new NGK spark plugs in. 

5) A new fuel filter. 

6) We also put a new hood, hood shocks, hood risers, and door panels in the car… if you’re keeping score.

ACT clutch