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Thread: The Rescue: A Basketcase Touring Story

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Branford, CT

    The Rescue: A Basketcase Touring Story

    Tourings are great. They carry lots of stuff, look really cool, and are rare as hell. That is exactly why I just bought (another) one, this time to replace the E39 touring I already have.

    Why? The E39 I have is in great condition, minus a couple of small rust-related issues, but those are really minor. Mechanically it’s sound, underneath barely has any rust at all, and so far has been dead reliable for the 10k miles I’ve driven it. But… it hasn’t captured my interest enough. I never really fell for this car, so of course I found myself “window shopping” two Sundays ago to see if E46 touring pricing has come down.

    On previous occasions, I would check touring prices just to see where they’re at. When I was looking on this occasion, I still saw them to be holding steady at a minimum of $4.5k for a decent one that needs some minor work, which is way outside the budget. Really nice ones are more like $6k, and super cool ones with options I wanted, or colors I wanted, or even a 5MT, were well over that. The rare 330i tourings that people have converted command crazy high prices north of $10k, and I’m not about that.

    There was one, however, that wasn’t $10k. It wasn’t $6k. It wasn’t even $4.5k.
    It was exactly $1348, found at a relatively new Subaru dealer in Rutland, VT. Apparently dealers up there can list cars wholesale, as-is, in uninspected condition, which I’ve never heard of. No test drives, what-you-see-is-what-you-get, just like an auction. I figured it was at least worth checking out for that price, as it could have potentially been a super amazing deal in disguise.

    This is all I saw in the ad, with the addition of another picture that I don’t have anymore:

    The car appeared to be very dirty, but I expect that as an uninspected as-is vehicle. It was sitting on the side of the road, for cryin’ out loud. Screw it, I said it’s worth checking out, so I called the dealer at 09:10 the next morning, and a few hours later I found myself leaving work early to drive up there to check it out with my buddy. It was a 3.5 hour drive from my home.

    Upon arriving, we were greeted by Todd, who was fantastic to deal with. Unfortunately, he thought we were talking about a 2008 328xi touring that was on the lot when we spoke on the phone, so the 2008 was on the lot but the 2003 325xi wasn’t there anymore and had gone to auction. To make up for the oversight, he called the auction house and had them pull the car so we could drive up there with him and check it out, which we did.

    When we got there, the car appeared to be in a somewhat sad state of affairs. There was a hole the size of a half-dollar coin in the upper intake boot, though somehow magically the car still ran “fine”. Surprisingly it has an aFe intake on it, which is a very welcome mod. It also has euro clears front and back, though the front lights were Depos (yuck). New headlight lenses were also a surprising find. This thing is almost fully loaded. Some options from the window sticker that was in the original owner’s manual in the glovebox (score!):

    * Grey Green Metallic (super rare color in general, let alone on a touring) / Sand Beige interior
    * Cold Weather Package
    * Premium Package
    * Xenon headlights
    * Automatic transmission (this is what I wanted)
    * Park Distance Control
    * Harmon Kardon sound system (not sure if included in Premium otherwise)

    Some obvious issues upon inspection:
    * There was ZERO brake pad left on the front left, and front right is almost right there as well – metal on metal
    * A worrying amount of corrosion on the brake calipers
    * The power steering pump was dead – made lots of noise despite reservoir being (over)filled
    * Unbelievable amounts of this grey dusty crap caked all over the wheels and wheel wells. We couldn’t see under the car at the time.
    * Air conditioning wasn’t working. Fan blew air, but it was hot air.
    * Front left turn signal not working. It wasn’t the bulb, so this required further investigation.
    * PDC not operational – it appeared to be a bad sensor according to an ISTA scan

    What does my dumb ass decide to do? Buy it. I even managed to get them to roll the $291 paperwork fee into the price for $1348 out the door. That would mean I’d have to come back with brake pads and rotors to be able to swap them on site to be able to drive it home, which is what we attempted to do this past Saturday.

    Saturday rolls around, and we get cracking. We spent the next 3 hours trying to get the front left caliper removed and the piston pushed in to be able to put newer pads in. The piston was seized, and this set the tone for the barrage of parts that I ordered over the next 2 days. We managed to get the shop there to push the piston in with a bearing press, since the vice they had wasn’t able to get the piston to move! It was enough to get the pads in, the replacement rotor on, and the car driven home. Upon coming home, we immediately put it on my buddy’s left to get a fair assessment of what the damage is.

    I’ll put a few line breaks after this to prepare you…

    Heart attack ensued:

    The amount of rust was so bad, that almost all of the hard brake lines were cut and replaced at some point in the car’s life, and some of the “new” ones are starting to rust. I swear it’s as though this car hasn’t been washed a day in its life, and this is considering is has lived its entire life in the Northeast since it was new, from NJ, to CT, to VT.

    At this point, eff it. I’ll replace things as I go, with the mentality that if I replace something, I’m also going to replace every item attached to it (nuts, bolts, mounting brackets, other components, etc.) in an effort to reduce the amount of clusterfudge going on down there. I’m also going to try to grind/wirewheel as much of it off as I can in hopes that it’s not bad enough to be total corrosion. Only time will tell what will happen with this car…

    For reference, this is what the removed pad looked like. To think that the dealer rep said the car was driven to the dealership for trade-in like this:

    The wheels that came on the car are what appear to be Moda MD10’s, but in 16” size. Tire Rack doesn’t have the 16” available, only in 17”, so I’m not sure if this size was discontinued. I like the design of the wheel, but they’re too small for my tastes, and the tires on them are completely trashed, so we had to swap in my old Style 68’s I used in the winter with the ZHP. The tires are pretty shot on both sets, but at least my Blizzak WS-80’s have a tiny bit of life left to be able to drive the car around. The Moda’s tires were so flat-spotted that there was severe shaking on the highway, so I made sure to bring the 68’s when we went to pick up the car. I like the way the car looks way more with the 68’s anyway.

    I took some shots from my visual assessment once getting the car home. These pictures are overall shots of the car and some closeups of the problem areas with the exterior.

    I see what look like WeatherTechs all around! All four mats as well as in the trunk. The floor mats don’t have logos on them but the trunk one does say WeatherTech. Too bad they’re beige. You’ll find out why this is important shortly.

    What is that stuff in the trunk, you may ask? That, my friends, is a set of (4) Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 studded winter tires, probably some of the most badass winter tires you can get, and they came included with the car! They all have great tread left on them too, though I couldn’t find a production date on them. Those Vermont folks sure don’t mess around! I’m not too sure if studded tires are legal to use in CT, so I will be putting these up. If anyone wants the set, let me know! I believe they’re 205/55-16’s.

    Speaking of the trunk, I’ve got a pool full of liq… oh wait, wrong song.
    But I do have a pool in the trunk…

    Or should I say, had. I sucked that water out and will monitor to see where the water is coming from.
    I even have a space-saver spare, though it’s rusted from the trunk pool.

    Let’s end the intro on a good note: a relatively new, pit-free Genuine BMW windshield.

    Stay tuned, as I’ve got several things cooking to get this thing road-ready, as well as mod I’ve been wanting to do to the E39 touring but will instead do to this one…
    2005 330i ZHP / 6MT
    Imolarot / Naturbraun

    It's not the car you drive, it's how you drive it.

  2. #2
    You're going to need a pool full of liquor to dive in after this project. That $6k wagon looks pretty cheap right about now too...

    In because misery loves company.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

    2003 Blue ZHP Sedan @ 210k
    Dead due to damaged valve. Parts are being transferred to a wagon:

    2003 325iT Japanrot 6MT @ 230k

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Branford, CT
    Quote Originally Posted by DeathTrap View Post
    You're going to need a pool full of liquor to dive in after this project. That $6k wagon looks pretty cheap right about now too...

    In because misery loves company.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    I know.... If it serves me for a few years before disintegrating then I can say it served its purpose. By then I should be able to get something newer to replace it, but for now this will do.

    Maybe it's time to start drinking.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
    2005 330i ZHP / 6MT
    Imolarot / Naturbraun

    It's not the car you drive, it's how you drive it.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by az3579 View Post
    Maybe it's time to start drinking.
    You don't drink Botond….

    About damned time you posted this project thread

    I will be checking in from time to time to see how you're progressing. If you have the drive you will see this thru...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Alexandria, VA
    Quote Originally Posted by az3579 View Post
    You can say that again. My heart skipped a few beats upon scrolling down. I'd just drive it until the wheels fall off (literally) and then send it right back to the auction house. Definitely keep an eye on any dollars "invested" in it.

    1988 BMW 325is - Thread pending
    1996 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 x3 Locked - Restoration/Project Thread on
    2000 Toyota 4Runner SR5 5MT - Restoration/Project Thread on
    "Scarlett" the 2005 BMW 330i ZHP 6MT - Project/Maintenance Thread
    2011 BMW M3 E92 6MT - Info/Maintenance Thread

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Lexington, KY
    Way to go Botond! I like the color. How many miles? If you just want to keep it for a few years, I would only be concerned with safety not cosmetics and maybe not so much about that rust.
    325i, 2005, 5MT, Silvergrey, leatherette, Sport package; CDV delete, KONI STR-T & KYB Excel-G, Weisslichts, Stewart H2O pump

    328i, 2010, 6MT, Spacegrey, dakota leather, M-sport packages; all stock][IMG]

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Las Vegas, NV
    Wow it looks like the RMS Titanic underneath! You have more balls than I do to take on this project. So how much does something like this cost to restore? I know you're capable of doing most of the work which I'm sure is going to be quite a bit from the looks of the undercarriage. Good luck with your new endeavor BP.
    Last edited by WOLFN8TR; 08-27-2019 at 06:43 PM.
    BAVSOUND Stage 1 - UltraGauge - Valentine One - Orion V4's - ARC-8's
    TTFS Engine/SMG Tune/CSL 255 - SGT Headers/Sect 1/SCZA - Evolve Eventuri
    VIS XTS CF Hood - CF Lip/Console/Diffuser - OE CSL Trunk - BWS 500S 9k/11k

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Independence KY
    Rare color for sure, looks like the underside of my old 2001 4runner haha
    2005 BMW 330i ZHP - BMWP brakes/intake/strut bar/shifter, Coby wraps interior, BBS CHs, Eagle Eye LED tails, GC coilovers, 2x2 CF MTECH2 diffuser, Sprint Booster/sport button mod, 4.5 LCM, Xtrons 9inch HU, BSW stg1, dynamat, M3 sedan dead pedal
    2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Cement Gray - Innovativ HIDs, OE LED fogs, CanvasBack, URD, black tails, K&N, AJT

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Southern California

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
    Randeaux/Rando/John/jr - '06 Cic ZHP; Southern California
    "ZHP or not, I still like you"

    ZHP Performance Package, Cold Weather Package, Leather, Jet Black/Black/BlackCube, NAV
    ESS Stage 1 Twin Screw Supercharger, Sprint Booster, BMW Perf Intake, Magnaflow Exhaust, Dinan TB & STEP S/W, Ground Control Coilovers, UCC Sway Bars, Apex EC-7 18x8.5 ET38
    Dynavin D99+, Hardwire V1 (w/V1 Connection), BSW Stage 1 Speakers, Kicker Amp/Subwoofer
    BMW Performance Strut Brace, Orion V2 Angel Eyes, No-holes License Plate, SMG Paddle Shift Mod, Besian VANOS, Gold DISA, Fan Delete, M3 Side Mirrors
    Note: Actual car no longer resembles signature picture

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    San Francisco, CA

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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