Plus everything wrong with my e39 touring. But first, an anecdote about the purchase of it.
It has now been about 9 months of ownership when it comes to my wagon. I could not be happier with my decision to hold out for the right one; which was a very long, 15-month process. The search began when I was living in Oregon, which shocked me with how many obscure cars are in the PNW. Even though all you see on the roads are Subaru Outbacks and GMC Acadias.
I had originally test drove a ’99 528it and ’02 323it and as hard as it was each time, I walked away from both after PPI’s. Of course, because of the owners’ lack of attention to maintenance. The 3-series was a little easier to walk away from when the owner told me, “I see no point in paying for extra for BMW genuine parts, I just buy the cheapest aftermarket.” Right after he mentioned the coolant light comes on irregularly because of the aftermarket level sensor...
Anyways, I digress. Fast forward to February ’18, where my fiancé and I had just moved to Phoenix. I had put my search on halt as it felt like a lot to take on right after an 1,800 mile move. But like a basehead with dope, that break didn’t last long. It was the week of the super bowl and I just happen to be perusing CL and came across my future wagon. I texted the owner and told him I wanted to check it out on Sunday (super bowl unbeknownst to me at the time), and he said great, gave me the directions and that was that.
Now come Sunday, I pull up to his house and his garage was open, and I immediately got a great feeling I’d be leaving with this wagon. On the right side, the e39, on the left side, a set-up of craftsmen tool cabinets that were easily worth several grand, and that’s before the value of the tools inside, and a café racer (I’m inept with motorcycles) that he had rebuilt and restored himself.
Now what comes next is something I’m sure you’re all familiar with. And that’s the moment you know the car right in front of is the one you’ve been searching for, and no matter what, it’s coming home with you that minute. Because the second he turned that key and fired up the i6, I heard its low, throaty grow (resonator delete), and my fiancé and I collectively drop our jaws, and look at one another, I knew this was the one.
As we discussed the car more and more, there seemed to be many signs that this was the one for me. First of all, it’s blue. And as some of you know, Im a sucker for blue cars, just ask my lemans blue ’69 El Camino.
Secondly, the owner had just recently relocated to the San Tan valley, from where? The pacific northwest of course, where I had just moved from myself. Ironically enough, he left for Arizona, the same month I had arrived in Oregon. Next, it came sitting on the style 42’s, now mine seem to be some sort of variation, but still my favorite rims for the touring, except for the alpinas of course. And finally, he was a true wagon enthusiast himself, having a collection of longroofs that make us all jealous (v70R, S4 avant, and of course, e39 touring).
He rescued this car from auction, where it was written off and slapped with a salvage due to the original owner wedging it between a truck and a guardrail sometime in 2012. By that time, the price for two doors and two front fenders were of more value than the car itself. The original owner took the check, and it was sent to auction. The PO saw the wagon, and being an ASE mechanic and a fucking BOEING engineer, saw there was no structural damage and purchased the wagon.
He sourced the parts from a friend, and due to the rarity of topasblau, could only find avusblau doors and fenders. So, my wagon’s front half is a shade or two darker than the rest, not very noticeable in picture or driving by, but easy to notice once pointed out. Once he straightened the body, he did a top to bottom rebuilding of the mechanical side of the car that was either failing, or a matter of miles away from failing. Major jobs included all control arms, an overhaul of the coolant system, fresh clutch replacement, oil pan gasket replacement, and a braking system overhaul. All of which he showed me on his personal lift. Needless to say, I felt confident skipping the PPI and drove it home that day. Much to my luck too as he told me about 4 or 5 people had made offers but since it was Super Bowl Sunday, they were going to come the day after.
Under my possession, the wagon did the 20-year-old European thing and started to need updating on the parts that the PO didn’t need to do quite yet. In these 9 months, the work I’ve had done (can’t wrench because apartment complex) has been a new alternator from its original one, new belt tensioners and idle pulleys, which were also the original parts. New self-leveling suspension air bags and air bag compressors, more original parts, and finally the thermostat and upper/lower radiator hoses, which were, you guessed it, the original parts.
Now after finally solving the SLS which has been plaguing my car for 3 months, I had my mechanic do a top to bottom diagnostic to see what else was needed. I was holding my breath and expecting them to find a mass amount of problems, but much to my delight, all the work needed fit on one page! Mind you it was front and back...but one page nevertheless! The previous owner has always offered to help me with any repairs in his personal garage, and I may be taking him up on his offer seeing that the last few jobs I need to do, the labor outweighs the price of parts, simply because they aren’t the easiest of jobs.
Here is a running list of things that need to be attended to:
1. Oil filter housing gasket; $7 part, $480 for labor since it’s basically a 5-hour job
2. Power steering leak; needs return hose, cooling hose o-ring, and reservoir line hose
3. Shift Shaft seal; medium leak from the seal needing new tranny mount, shift lever bushing, selector rod washer/joint, bushings, and shift rod seal (I’ll probably install a short throw shifter when I do this as I have a little play in the current shifter)
4. Front struts and mounts; this is the biggest of the jobs in my opinion
5. Engine shields; splash shield missing as well as damaged wheel arch trim, which I’m guessing stems from the original owner’s little mishap
And that’s it! *He said, knocking on wood*
I’ve been slowly doing the mechanical side so I can finally justify prettying up the bodywork. She’s a little rough on the outside, a solid 6.5/10. And since I have a shoebox for an apartment and no garage, I can’t stockpile the body trim until our lease is up and we move to a bigger place. Once that happens, I’ll be replacing the body kit to its correct m-sport kit as it is a factory m-sport. After acquiring the kit (recommendations on source will be much appreciated), I’ll be able to respray it and finally have a one-color car! Woo!
I imagine this will be about a year from now, but until then, you all will be the first to hear of any developments as I continue my journey to restore my wagon back to the showroom quality it once was.
Tunes as always: