Owned the car a while now and used the forum for various things in the past and after reading a build thread of someone i know I decided to come on here and make one of my own.
I get asked over and over why keep the cabriolet and not just sell it and buy a coupe m3...? The anwser is im not really sure on that one myself... Owned it such a long time now that its gained sentimental value and I doubt id part with it for all the tea in china.
Got the car around 2013 with 13500 miles on the clock and slowly made it my mission to use it! I believe when the picture was taken the bumper had been taken for paint due to looking scruffy from stone chips etc. The car aside from the mv2s going gumetal grey stayed more or less stock till around june 2017. The E30 IS build took more of my time and money getting where i wanted it to be.... However thats a different story and unfortunately been sold!
First on the list was an Eibach B12 kit (pro springs and b8 dampers) id also ordered eibach anti roll bars at the time howerver was informed that they were on back order and unfortunately wouldn’t be available until mid to late October. Wasn’t ideal but decided on holding out for them. Car wouldn’t be going anywhere far and what was the rush? After fitting those i also decided on a set of new Michelin pilot sport 4’s and a full geo on the car. Initial thoughts on the car were night and day. Car sat a touch higher than i wanted it too and ride was certainly firmer than i wanted but the drive of it was a more engaging experience than before. Nose still dived down on tight bends. What did I expect its a fat drop top? But the car gave better feedback. Made it more driver focused than before.
Id also stumbled across another thread on people looking for a short shift on the factory 6 speed boxes around the same sort of time. Trawling through thread after thread of people recommending the 545i shift lever however common responses were that they arnt compatible with a 6 speed box for whatever reason. Finally after feeling like id gone full circle on it i found that ECS in America had kindly left a part number on their website for a factory short shift kit. “Apparently” the same as the bmw performance range. (Part N/O - 25 11 7 528 881). So the following say called the local stealer and got a price of £56 for the lever. Along with ordering a ZHP knob and a new shifter bush and clip I thought ive got to have it. (Short shift is the curved one on the left)
Needless to say the car hadn’t been used much since the suspension or short shift due to winter coming along and me being a bit of a snow flake. The car gets hidden away and garaged during the bad weather. Im not a fan of the underside getting wet! The added with the fact ive another car to use the 330 sat on trickle charge unless the occasional dry day came along where i could pull it out and blow the cob webs away.
By this time September had come and gone and unfortunately still hadn’t received the eibach anti roll bars. According to eibach uk the bars needed to be made by eibach Germany and were going to be made in coming weeks. However this wasn’t quite the case and 3 month backlog i was supposed to have ended up being a 7 month wait. Fortunately for the decent chaps at eibach uk due to the wait they sorted me out with a set of the steel camber arms at a REALLY good price, i decided that due to it being the only other product they sold aside from the adjustible topmounts. (which I didn’t want on the car as i wanted to retain comfort and somewhat of the factory ride) I had to have them.
Also no doubt like most owners on here spent a fair while deciding on an exhaust from various YouTube videos that i wanted fitting to the car. I originally found another genuine BMW performance item the stainless backbox i had it for a while sat in its original packaging in the garage for months debating to cut the original system to fix the box. (Same method bmw used to fit them) or then deciding on having a 3/4 system custom made with the bmw box. I then started weighing it up cost wise to a full Eisenmann system from CA and decided that in the 46 m54 world imo the Eisenmann system was the one to have. Deciding on a sport centre and sport rear being a vert I didn’t want it too obnoxious with the roof off. Placing an order (whilst sat down) when being told the cost, thinking.... “its the best you can get for the car”. Plus making it an early Christmas gift to myself.... Initial thoughts on the system were poor. In the month wait for the system id sold my bmw performance box and majorly regretted selling it. Welds were awful and the fit was abysmal. A glove to a foot summed it up reasonably well and certainly not what I expected from what was supposed to be the top of the tree of brands for systems. Weeks past and after various emails and pictures sent to them I received another system. Better fitting by miles however still not what id expect for the money. Knowing what i know now id have had another system custom made. However the noise. Purely stunning. Exactly what i was after and if I hadn’t have fitted the exhaust personally i wouldnt have cared. The note after around 500 miles ish changed slightly after bedding in but only became better and better. (Excuse the rusty subframe.)
Shortly after resolving the exhaust issues the eibach bars and camber arms arrived at my front door. Excited was an understatement. I guess the lead time building up to it had made me desperate to fit them. The earliest dry February day i got the bars fitted for a B-road blast. Thoughts..... without a doubt one of the best items ive bought on the car. The nose dive has gone the car feels planted and unbelievably nimble considering the extra weight and the obvious no roof. I owned a pre facelift 330 manual coupe which was on HSDs and a few other bits shortly after selling the e30 and without a doubt the drop top after the eibach mods is a more focused car and better to drive. Like the suspension when assembled i fitted new top mounts, hardware and strengthening plates the anti roll bars also had new drop links and bushed fitting at the same time. Pictures below were taken on the same evening of the bars being fitted by this time the car on the eibachs suspension had fully settled. Front drop over stock suspension on the front was exactly -20mm and rear was the same as standard. The ride had also softened up and became exactly what i wanted from the kit. Picture below doesn’t show the camber arms. I for whatever reason took pictures before fitting those.
Next on the lost was a set of CSL alloys. The obvious choice for a 46 in my eyes. Overplayed or the perfect factory wheel? I went for the latter and decided on the highest quality and closest copy to the original wheels. Looked at a set of apex arc-8s and decided they were too track orientated for what i was after and after speaking to bm autosport picked the best quality ones they offered a staggered set of atomic csls in hyper silver. 8.5j et38 fronts and 9.5j et45. Wanted the highest rear offset available in order to have a car full of passengers if i needed to. I they decided on another set of pilot sport 4s 225/35/19s and 235/35/19s. Originally I picked the 255/30s for the rear but Michelins come up very wide and after having them fitted they were huge. Almost a 265/275 tyre. The 235 is only mildly pulled onto the wheel and after giving the car an extra -0.5 rear camber can confirm it can run 4 people without any noises whatsoever.
Onto the best mod on the car period.......
The quaife..... i looked into various LSDs. Rebuilding a 288 case LSD from an early e36 328 sport and having it built into my casing, buying a Drexler clutch slipper and a wavetrack or a quaife helical. Again after many hours of weighing up what would be best for the car I swayed more towards the helical type LSD. The little to no maintenance being one of the big reasons and the fact that the quaife is one of the more forgiving units out there. Doesn’t lock in and out aggressively and wont try to kill me if i get it wrong. Again just wanting to sharpen the car up not make it full on “motorsport”. Plus knowing who Birds were and the products they produced with the same quaife l units fitted to m235is and various other bmws etc I thought it had to be the best product available. (Fingers and toes were crossed that I wasn’t going to have any issues like the eisenmann and that “forum talk” actually held its weight this time). I called up James at Birds and placed the order. I also cannot stress enough that if anyone is looking at building one of these units buy new bearings. My original diff and car at this point had only covered 27k and the bearings were/ are still in great shape however removing them to refit to the new unit was near on impossible. I didn’t have the luxury of some of the specialst tools that Birds have available to remove them. Aside from that the unit itself building into the case was fairly straightforward and came with a step by step how to guide. Id also stumbled across another thread stating that a Z4 rear finned diff cover woukd fit being as the diff casing was the same unit used on the 46s.... So once again i was on the phone to the stealers to put one on order. Cant see a LSD however the finned cover was the only small nod to the diff being slightly different. Thoughts.... grip is just exceptional now. DSC doesnt even flicker. Car is more planted and almost feels like its being pulled around corners. Can honestly say if youve a spare £1200 buring a hole in your pocket buy one. Night and day difference.
Lastly on the list as far as “mods” would go literally in the last few days ive swapped out my calipers due to becomingly increasingly annoyed with the small amout of surface corrosion and them letting the car down. Ive fitted original OE calipers back to the car powdercoated black with new Hel black (OE finish) braided brake lines with stainless fittings. Also swapped out discs and pads at the same time as they didn’t look their best. Whilst fitting the new braided lines i also ordered up a braided black clutch line and fitted that with a CDV delete. (Not sure if their is much of a difference as of yet but ive only driven about 10 miles since fitting and bleeding them.
Aside from your generic servicing and my want to want to swap out parts the car hasn’t needed anything aside from an intake boot, due to age. Ive also as preventative maintenance (same time as brakes) swapped out the original waterpump for a new BMW one with belts something ive put off and off but with a recent trip across Europe planned I decided that was an absolute must.
Inside the car is your usual looking interior. Ive fitted a new relocation panel along with a new handbrake surround and removed the stock bmw business CD player and fitted a Dynavin N7 unit to pull the interior up to date. Wanted an oem looking unit that didn’t require any fettling to fit. (Love and hate the wallnut dash! Was original so left it in)
If youve made it this far without falling asleep ill be sure to add more to the thread at some point......
Future plans hopefully involve having redish motorsport carrying out a minor underside restoration and reinforcement process. Having the underside painted titan silver to match the car and subframes etc being re powder coated black etc.
Quite like to get my hands on a BMW performance 330 airbox however i dont think ive ever seen one for sale in the uk. (If you have one you want to sell let me know!).... Or any e46 BMWP part for that matter!