2011 Clean Car Contest

BMW enthusiasts showed off their amazing cars today at a great venue – Spanish Landing across from Lindburg Field airport. Think of it as a mini-Bimmerfest with the cleanest cars ever. Many e-celebrities were present at the event, as you will see in the pictarz. No less than eight 8 Series were in attendance. Hope you enjoy the pics as much as I enjoyed the cars!

Even the exhaust pipes get a good flossing.

Judges inspecting each section.

Lots of conferring over the car.

The interior judge almost whipped out a magnifying glass!

Engine judge using white gloves for inspection.

I even cleaned in places you don’t see.

Under the radiator cover.

First Place Super Clean!

Finally Installed My HIDs…WOW!

After spending several years hemming and hawing over what HID system to install in my Eight, I finally did it. Oh man… WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG!!!?

First off, HIDs are freakin’ great! Combined with a Euro programmed LKM I now have the scary bright, infamous ‘Wall of Light’ to find my way on the darkest country roads. I wish I could take my car to the moon and see what total and complete darkness is like when lighted by this setup!

I bought all my stuff from BavToys and Ouri was a lot of help with determining the best setup. (no affiliation, etc). I went slim on all ballasts to make installation easier. Used A/C ballasts on the lows and fogs, D/C on the high beams. The 70w and 55w ballasts are digital and I have no OBC tweaks and have had no OBC errors with the digital ballasts.

  • Low beams got the 70watt BTChrome ballast kit and 5000K H1 bulbs.
  • Fogs are now a 55watt BTX-55W ballast kit with 5000K H1 bulbs.

I wanted everything to be integrated as much as possible, have the ballasts all in one place and be totally reversable if needed. Since all these kits came with their own rubber grommet seals, I thought I would drill new holes in my Euro light cases to emulate the way BMW fed their power into the case.

Then I used the existing grommet to feed the fog lamp power. Just had to slice open a sliver in the rubber and carefully slip the wires through. Minimal invasion and the two new holes can be plugged with their own grommets if I want to take the HIDs out.

The H1 HID lights themselves came with cable leads with standard wire connectors that allowed me to plug them directly into the existing setup inside the light bucket. (I also rebuilt all the internal wiring with a little bigger gauge while I was in there).


So what you end up with coming out of the bucket is a 9005/9006 connector going to the ballast for the power and a HID plug pair (hot & ground) for the light going to the ignitor connected to the ballast.

I did all new headlight adjusters while at it and was careful not to mess with any of the existing adjustments of the individual lamps themselves. All ready for the glass and car installation:

I hid the HIDs (pun intended) under the headlight by first double-sticky taping them together, wrapping with a zip tie and then screwing them into the metal plate that is welded between the front bumper and the lower car frame. And yes, I took everything else out so I could clean it up in there. Looks new, huh?

I had to also get six 9005/9006 cable extensions so that I could have room to hook everything up before lowering the light bucket into place.

To say they’re bright is an understatement. This is taken on a fairly bright day.

Really updates the look of the car I think.

Makes the FTP and driving lights look perfectly lame in comparison. I’m still hunting for adequate replacements for those to match at least the color range of the new HIDs but realize there may not be anything out there. If anyone has a matching bulb suggestion for me I would be in debt of your experience with them. I toyed with the idea of using Angel Eyes too but then we’re talking another 4 ballasts and I’m not convinced it would be worth the trouble.

But if you’re on the fence about installing HIDs, don’t wait another week! After a differential upgrade, this is one of the most fantastic upgrades I can recommend!

Single Stroke Blinker (a.k.a. Comfort Blinker)

So one of the small but irritating things about our Eights is the age. Missing are the electronic climate controls, side mirror puddle lighting, and other nicities you get with a late model car.

Also gone is the one-touch blinker feature built into just about every car since 2000.

The one-touch turn signal feature enhances functionality for the lazy by adding a mode where all it takes is a single touch of the signal lever to make it blink a pre-determined number of times, usually three times.

Setting out to research this on the Interweb, I once again found myself reading Revtor’s thorough post about the functionality, how to build one and what the parts list was. His complete write up on a DIY module can be found at E31Wiki.org.

But remember, this module is for the lazy and so if you want a similar device pre-built and ready to install, you can find one at jalt.de.

The website is in German, but the module is called Komfortblinker (Comfort Blinker) and comes in a few different editions. The one you need for the E31 is “Standard Version BF-W3”.

This unit is microprocessor based what means it can be smaller and be more advanced. In fact it does offer one extra feature over Revtor’s module. If you tap the lever longer than 0.5s the comfort blinker will be disabled. That way you can still do relatively short blinks. Below is a short video and the module’s manual in case you’re interested in installation prior to ordering or building one.

Single Stroke Blinker



Driver’s Seat Rebuild

So as those following this thread know, I’ve been looking into a Sports Seat conversion ever since sitting in Tom’s (Wuffer) at the last Wine Barrel Tasting Tour. Also the driver’s seat was in need of repair so I wanted to kill two birds with one set of Sport Seats if possible – although I only really ‘needed’ a driver’s Sport Seat and/or seat repair because all the other leather in the car is in fantastic shape.

Option 1: Buy used Sport Seats from a donor, pay to have them shipped, and pay to have the leather matched to Lotus White, an unusual BMW leather color.

Option 2: Build my own Sport Seats. Cost: ~$4400 for two sets of parts and replacement leather. I’d be lucky to even FIND a match to the Lotus White at the local upholstery shop. Even if I only did the driver’s seat to save half the cost, they would be different seats and might look ‘too out of place.’ And did I really need that thigh support for all that money anyway?

Then I found these pix which gave me encouragement that it might not look too bad to just spent the $2200 bucks for just the driver’s seat. Here’s one Sport and one normal seat together in Lotus White:

Not too bad but still not in my immediate budget.

Option 3: Re-condition and re-dye my driver’s seat, make it last a while longer until one day I could take on option 1 or 2.

Budgets being the way they are, I decided on option 3 using Leatherique’s products knowing the finished product might not match perfectly but at least for just the cost of a C-Note and some elbow grease, it wouldn’t look like this anymore:


Just look how sad the seat bottom looked – the foam looked like it had collapsed.

So I set about tearing the seat down thinking it would be easier to do the reconditioning and re-dye on the leather off the seat frame. If you’ve never dug into taking your seat apart, just know that it’s not as bad as it may seem at first glance. Sure they’re well engineered, well thought out designs and everything is inter-related so the reinstallation order is important; but nothing too daunting.

Here’s what’s under all that engineering. Seat frame and motors:

Separating the leather from the seat cushion:

Separating the backrest plastic frame from the foam after taking off the backrest’s leather:

The heater fabric covers the leather-to-seat cushion latching system (wires running the length and width of the seat sections within the foam provide a means to attach the leather hide tightly to each cushion section:

The heater element rests on top of the hard cushion foam and this is when I got thinking…

Why not just figure out a way to make the existing cushions press inward, and perhaps add another layer of softer foam to the top, maybe I can just build my own darn Sport Seats, customized to my personal comfort – this was my Eureka moment! And it wouldn’t require a whole new hide:

So I set about cutting some custom strips and experimenting with bolstering the bolsters, top and bottom, to make the seat feel like I wanted:


Here you can see how much I stuffed under the cushion but on top of the frame:

Next I got busy on reconditioning the leather. After a deep clean and using the rejuvenator three times to make the leather nice and soft like new, I set about filling cracks with Leatherique’s Crack Filler:


Then I set out to ‘flatten’ the permafolds that had managed to form over time using duct tape and a hair dryer:

Then I started the dye process doing first the piping and seams, using more duct tape to hold apart the leather while it dries. You gotta use thinned out dye, multiple applications and a lot of patience. Otherwise, if you put it on too thick, it will just peel right off. Gotta give the leather time to soak in the thinned dye mixture:

Since the main hinge metal does show at times, I figured I would also repaint those so the whole seat would look like new:

Fast forward to many days of dye, then dry, then dye, then dry, soft sanding with 600 to 1500 grit sandpaper in-between to reduce the gloss of the dye, and the final product can finally be put back together (bottom first):

Then the top. Notice how the side bolsters don’t “look” any different than before? Also notice I added some center seat foam to better fill out the leather cover and make the seat look more new:

And then finally back into the car:


Finally the test drive: Well let me tell you, this seat is now PERFECT! Not only is it reconditioned, nice and soft like new and re-dyed – the custom Taylor Bolsted cushioning added to the side and seat bolsters keep me well inside the seat during side loaded fun!!! I purposely left a little less bolster boost out of the bottom cushion because I wanted to be able to spread out during long drives, but the new Taylor Bolsted backrest is so fricken comfortable! Not only that, I just saved a couple thousand bucks!

I’ll tell you what guys and gals, if you’re looking for some Sport Seats and are willing to do just a little bit of work, it’s not that hard to get out the seat, un-staple the leather from the sides and slip some foam in there custom to whatever feel you want. Then just re-staple the leather, you don’t mess with the lumbar, you don’t mess with the heating element, all you do is add instant bolster and you will be stoked you did!

What do you think?

Odometer Mileage Milestone

So Satch published my mileage milestone in Roundel Magazine this month but cut off the more beautiful element of the E31 instrument panel, which is the unique and recognizable sideways “8” shape of the tach & speedometer. So I thought I would share here. Mine happened (with a little preparation on the trip odometer) while out on a regular “keep the seals lubed” run one sunny afternoon in SoCal.

I can’t wait for 234,567.890!

Cars & Coffee Meet – Irvine

SoCal 8’s put on a GTG and cruise in Orange County – below is eurotuner’s article and pictures. Thanks eurotuner! http://blogs.eurotuner.com/6794439/editorials/29-bmw-e31-owners-meet-for-coffee/index.html

We got wind of a large gathering of BMW 8 Series at Cars and Coffee in Irvine, CA last December. Lucky for us Fern Mora was in attendance and was able to provide us some flicks from the event.

Cars and Coffee, for those who haven’t heard, is a local get together every Saturday morning in Orange County. Everyone is welcome to come, grab some coffee and chat about cars. And while the gathering has plenty of cars to drool over, on December 17th a gathering BMW 8 Series took over the parking lot.

Onlookers were amazed to see 29 BMW 8 Series all roll in together. After coffee and kicking tires with the other cars in attendance, 18 of the BMW E31’s took a 42 mile cruise from Irvine through Live Oak Canyon to Newport, then south for lunch at Ruby’s Auto Diner in Laguna Beach, CA were specialty parking had been arranged. All the members had a great time getting together and are now planning the next few events.

The first will be Cars and Cockpits will be happening April 1st at Lyon Air Museum by John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, CA and has 26 BMW 8 Series pre-registered. The following month SoCal 8 will host a Temecula Wine Tasting Tour May 19-20. For more information on both events checkout the links below.

Cars and Cockpits

Temecula Wine Tasting Tour

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