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!

The CSi’s Unrivaled Big Brother

It’s the early 1990′s, you’re a German executive working for BMW in the incredible 4-Cylinder tower in downtown Munich. Not far from you, a certain, important bright red prototype is sitting, waiting for a decision to be made – a simple yes or no as to if the car will make the leap to a production series car.

On the one hand, you’re a car enthusiast, someone who would love to green light a 500+HP grand tourer with a six speed manual, rear-wheel-drive and acres of leather to cover up the inner workings and systems of the most technically advanced road car your company has ever built.

Then there is the business side of you – the side that is more calculated and looks at the business case of such a vehicle and evaluates the pro’s and cons in a cold, harsh light with other variables surrounding this decision. The German economy has been rattled from a recent worldwide recession. The prototype in question, along with the base car on which it was built, has already cost millions upon millions of deutschmarks and the base model series has received a only lukewarm reception from your biggest market, the United States.

This despite the model being both in-line with the luxurious and sporting brand image and delivering a suitable blow to fellow German rivals. However, a flagship, expensive sports car with flat sales and rising manufacturing labor costs during a recession?

No – it won’t be built – this car will not make it beyond the prototype stage.

With that, the M8 Prototype would be boxed up and tucked away for another 12 to 15 years – out of the public eye and a major piece of speculation for BMW enthusiasts around the globe for the next decade and a half.

With this decision the most powerful production BMW until the X5/6 M was relinquished to a life of ease in a complex housing other prototypes and projects that didn’t quite make it to the assembly line.

However, mystery and rumors circulated around the M8 Prototype and whether or not it ever existed and, if it did, had BMW disassembled the big 8 like it does so many test mules and prototypes? The only proof available for almost two decades were rumors of output and a handful of grainy photos showing a heavily modified 850i with a revised air dam, power bulge hood, and some specialized ducts to channel air. Aside from that, publically there was no evidence that the M8 had existed and as time marched on many enthusiasts found themselves enthralled by the idea of such a car that never made it to market despite a substantial leap forward in performance over all of the existing BMW’s of the time. For reference, the 850CSi which was a detuned M8 of sorts and carried both M-derived engine codes and VINs had to make due with only 380HP – a mind blowing 170HP less than the rumored 550HP churned out by the M8 Prototype.

Speculation of what the M8 was and what it could have been capable of grew even more with the inception of the internet and car forums. Many thought it was a fully functional model, many thought it had been destroyed and many thought it was alive and kicking but roughly a shell of an 8 Series with non-functioning headlamps, air conditioning and many onboard systems.

After nearly 20 years, BMWBlLOG’s founder and head honcho Horatiu, managed to finally see the red devil in the flesh during a press conference a few months ago when BMW nonchalantly displayed the M8 in Munich for a handful of other, more pressing projects of the company. Upon further inspection Horatiu found the M8 to be a working prototype of a car that had managed to live in the shadows of the 4-Cylinder tower and in hearts of so many BMW enthusiasts for decades.

With such an incredible revelation – more information had to be sought out. From what was learned about the M8 Prototype( as the car is officially/unofficially titled as it is not a “concept” but a working mock-up of a car nearly set for production) was that – had this car managed to reach green light status, its sheer performance on every front would have been staggering against any existing peers it may have had.
Regarding the engine, a big V12 (likely larger than 5.0L of the 850/850CSi) is nestled under the bulging hood. The engine carries with it 12 individual throttle bodies connected to the driver’s right foot via direct cable making the M8 Prototype the only non-drive-by-wire 8 Series in existence and proof of M GmbH’s dedication to providing a tactile driving experience. Interestingly, one of the biggest misconceptions of the M8 is that it shares an engine with the record shattering McLaren F1 as it was around the same time as the development of the M8 that McLaren commissioned BMW to build a very power V12 to power their supercar – after being denied by Honda.

Per our sources, the McLaren V12 (a modified S70) and the M8′s V12 were likely constructed by many of the same engineers hence a similar design and output but differed in areas such as overall length due to the horizontal intakes for a front engine layout if the 8 compared to the vertical intakes of a mid-engined car. The McLaren engine, from a design standpoint, shared quite a lot of characteristics and parts with the S50 engine of the E36 M3.

Moving to the glowing red-hot exterior, the M8 Prototype distances itself further still from fellow 8′s with styling that meshes the sleek coupe lines with purposeful yet necessary upgrades. At the wedge-shaped, near E26 M1 nose, a revised front fascia allowed for better channeling of air into the massive intakes to feed the engine.

Sitting just forward of the engine is another enlarged airbox again helping to feed the swollen V12 to send 500+ HP to the rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox. Other revisions at the nose are lightweight pop-up headlamps, modified to both reduce weight and accommodate the lack of fog lamps – sacrificed for the great good of airflow along the lower front valence.

Gliding down the flanks of the prototype the coupe carries the same wide hips of the 850CSI with a widebody kit modified to accommodate better cooling of the brakes and it’s believed to also used to channel air as a means of cooling the rear differential. Wedged underneath the flared wheel arches are 17 inch M Systems wheels with a carbon fiber overlay. While we don’t have exact figures, the rear wheels are quite wide to keep the big coupe planted in the twisties – our sources indicate that the tires are Michelin PilotSports of the period.

Speaking of carbon fiber – that brings us to the body of the M8 Prototype. Weight savings in sports cars is very commonplace these days but in the early 1990′s, only cars like the Ferrari F40 or F50 or even Porsche 959 extensively used weight savings materials throughout the body to maximize performance. Specific body panels such as the doors, arches, and ducts are constructed from carbon fiber reinforced-polymer(CFRP) which are lighter than the standard components on the E31.

Additionally, the Prototype carries lightweight Plexiglas window frames which, per BMW, bear heavily resemblance to the current E92 M3 GT’s same window frames. BMW even made the hood, with a large intake front-and-center of the engine bay out of CFRP. They even went to the trouble of installing specialized headlamps, lighter than the stock E31 headlamps, with revised functions to let the flash-to-pass headlamps act as the primary lighting. The effect of these revised headlamps is two fold: to lighten the lamps as well as provide extra room for the massive air filter boxes sitting just below the hood. Again, the design of the car is focused on performance as priority number one.

Moving to the interior of the Prototype there a several notable changes over the standard E31. The biggest divergence is the addition of the B pillar on the Prototype – something noticeably absent from the cleaner lines of the other 8 Series’ cars. As would be expected, the B pillar (along with framed doors) was a necessary addition as a means of injecting further rigidity into the big coupe to combat the natural trend of a coupe’s body to flex under heavy load.

Other interior upgrades include heavily bolstered seating to keep occupants in place as well as reduce weight through racing seats. BMW went as far as to outfit the entire cabin in suede to keep interior grip levels high. Some of the instrument cluster was modified with two VDO-manufactured pressure gauges along with a manual climate adjustments panel added to the dash.

From our pictures and onsite reports, BMW also outfitted the interior with heavy-duty set of seat belts/harnesses to further ensure that the driver doesn’t budge one centimeter from the wheel – keeping the sole focus on the driving experience.

With all of these considerations – it’s easy to say the M8 was possibly the great M car never sold.

The car was trimmed down on par with the E46 CSL, the engine was tuned to a point that it would only find rivals in its peers nearly two decades later with the X5/6M’s and potentially the F10 M5. The M8 Prototype is a car that represents BMW M at its absolute peak during the early 1990′s – M GmbH, after just a small handful of successes like the E30 M3 and E28 M5. They knew they had another success on their hands but the M8 was to become a victim of timing – a car decades ahead of its time but undeniable in its nature and potential abilities.

It’s a shame that BMW couldn’t find a means in which to bring the M8 to the masses. However, many know it would have probably gone. A global recession and the debut of the most expensive BMW ever constructed would have resulted in dismal sales figures – even for a small production run of uber-exclusive cars. After the fall of residual values and used car values to lower levels, the M8, within a matter of a few short years the M8 would be banished to the life of a garage queen – wheeled out by the anal retentive enthusiast only for the occasional car show or parade lap at a track with the secondary market returning astronomical car prices – not unlike the current state of the BMW M1.

However, what’s good to know is that, despite the ever-present influence of economic trends, BMW continues to work on cars such as the M8 that will push the envelope in terms of technology and performance which will continue to set the bar higher and higher for what M GmbH is capable of. Most important, enthusiasts are still in charge at M GmbH and with that, only good things car happen.

Upgrading the Review Mirror to Include Homelink, Alarm, Auto-dim, and Compass

I’ve been reading all about this issue with using newer mirrors with the Homelink, not being compatible with factory alarm setups, etc… great information was provided by everyone including this post (http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum…mirror+pin+out) and still I wondered…

[me wondering – imagine cloud thought above my head]: “why can’t we just take the ‘alarm’ part of the old mirror out, insert it into the new mirror case, feed it power and get the best of both worlds?”

So i got to crackin cases… you gotta be careful when doing this. I was able to practice on my original one because I knew I wasn’t going to keep it! Use a plastic putty knife from your local hardware store. There are two main releases/catches on the top and bottom. They are about 6 inches apart and something like an inch or so from each edge. If you use the plastic putty knife like the kind in the picture
You should be able to wiggle the edge of it into the separation at least enough to see which side of the mirror’s seam has the catch. The trick is to slip the plastic knife in there enough to see which side the rest of the knife edge needs to go into, then carefully slide the knife along the seam into the opening until it cracks open, hopefully not cracking the catches. Once you get one side open using this technique, it will be more obvious how to open up the other catches.

I present to you this: This is my 1995 CSi mirror taken apart:

You will note the “alarm” portion of the mirror screwed down on the left with a yellow antenna wire along the bottom. The ‘switch’ for something hanging down in the middle of the mirror and to the right, the opening for the photo sensitive cell that drives the whole dimming feature (I think). Also note the way the wires are separated for some reason – not sure if that’s even relevant…

Next take a look at the innerds of a non-compass, E36 mirror with Homelink:

The IC board looks much more sophisticated of course – it’s like 10 years newer. The Homelink unit is to the left, pretty much self contained, only needs power and ground to make it work, yet there’s 10 wires total feeding the 10-pin connector, which is identical, by the way, to my 1995 CSi mirror except that the CSi plug only has 9 wires and obviously the wire to pin assignments are a little different. (yes, I know I need to re-solder/fasten that ground connector for the dimming feature to the outside of the mirror (black loose wire). I will take care of that…

shows my 95 mirror with the alarm receiver portion removed and the internal wires/connector spread apart to help identify their colors. And finally,

shows the new E36 mirror’s internal connector and wire colors.

Now I know that in Frankie’s post about plugging in the newer mirror to the older socket involved switching a couple wires (3 to be exact). He said:

original 1 (brown) to new 10 (ground)
original 2 (blue) to new 1 (reverse signal)
original 3 (yellow/red) to new 3 (power)


So apparently, since there’s so many more wires going on in the 95′ mirror, I’m assuming they have something to do with feeding the alarm signals that it needs? (when I tried to just unhook the 95′ mirror from the car, the alarm sounded and wouldn’t go off unless I re-attached the mirror and hit the unlock on the key fob!)

My goal is to ‘integrate’ the previous mirror’s alarm module, into the new mirror’s chassis so I have Homelink AND the alarm receiver in the new mirror.

So here’s the ask to the gurus:

How do I need to re-wire this thing to allow me to take the alarm module, and mount it inside the new mirror and still feed everything the appropriate signals?

Thank you in advance for any and all help you can provide!

Taylor in Cardiff

Additional Info: This morning I managed to find this at (http://www.baso.no/load.asp?id=85) which appears to be the pinouts for an E39’s electrochromic mirror (my newer mirror with Homelink). Looks like pins 4,5,6,7 are used to send dimming signals to the side rearview mirrors. Do any of the E31s have this?

Now if I could just find the same information about ALL the pinouts of the E31 alarm mirror, then we can try matching them up, splice them together, and see what happens!



Replacing E31 Door Lock Cylinders

Although I’ve been fortunate enough to NOT have to perform this procedure, I thought it was such an important topic and such a well documented post from “dmi” from Sweden on Bimmerforums.com, that I wanted to repost it here:

This How To shows the procedure for replacing the door lock cylinder. I am using a brand new uncoded cylinder but the general description can be used if swapping the cylinder for a used one. Note: the key for both the old and new cylinder is reqired when replacing with a used one. It is not a very difficult job but it is fiddly and requires some pacience.  When I bought my 850i the poor car had been molested by thieves who had destroyed both right and left door lock cylinder in their attemts to break into it. So I had to replace both locking cylinders but couldn´t find a good write-up or How To.

Parts needed:
Door lock cylinder 51 218 124 293 (same for both sides)

Contents of the pack:

The procedure:
1. Remove the door card and handle assembly.
2. The handle assembly with the old molested cylinder.

3. Remove the clip holding the lock switch cover using a flat screwdriver.

4. Lift the lock switch and drift the locking pin out using a hammer and a small nail with the point end cut off.

5. Insert the key into the cylinder and carefully (there is a spring and ball under the cylinder pressing on it plus the lock bottom piece) remove the cylinder by pulling the key.

6. Grasp around the cylinder to prevent the small locking plates from falling out. Slowly remove the key. The picture below shows how the locking plates looks when removing the key, they will push out of the cylinder body.

7. Pull each of the locking plates out and put them in the exact order that they where.

8. You should now have 1 unkeyed (closest to the outside of the door) and 12 keyed locking plates.
9. On each locking plate there is a tab with a number on it, lay out the new lock cylinder body and locking plates as the old one compare the numbered tabs to make sure.

10. Using the supplied grease, grease the new locking plates and springs. It should be a thin layer of grease. Insert the locking plate springs into the new cylinder body. And put the gasket on the cylinder body, it is the transparent ring on the cylinder body.

11. Now we have reached one of the fiddly parts, insert the locking plates while pushing in the key to keep the plates in place. The locking plates tab should be oriented toward the locking plate spring.

12. When all the locking plates are in, the key should be all the way in and the lock cylinder should not have any locking plates sticking out (just the first unkeyed one as shown on the picture below).

13. Replace the spring and ball in the handle assembly, put the lock bottom piece back so that the L-shaped part is pointing away from the assembly. Don´t worry it only fits one way. Put a thin layer of grease on the outside of the lock cylinder.

14. Now comes the really fiddly job, insert the lock cylinder into the handle assembly, note that the spring-loaded ball should make contact with the underside of outer edge of the lock cylinder.

15. While pushing the lock cylinder in, keeping pressure on the spring and ball, put the locking pin back and drift it back into position.

16. Test the new cylinder by turning the key both ways. If it feels OK the put the lockswitch back into position, place the lockswitch cover over it and put the holding clip back.

17. The new lock cylinder in place, just need to put it back into the door.

18. Job done! Enjoy the new lock cylinder and a beer! 

Replacement LED License Plate Lights

You might already know that I installed a pair of cheapo LED lights for the rear license plate a while ago. To prevent error codes being thrown, I soldered on the original OEM bulb to provide the required resistance, and ended up with my Frankenbulbs. They worked great for a while but they really kinda looked cheap light-wise – too blue for my taste. Then, as the car barfed all over them, and started blowing LEDs one by one, they became a lot weaker in terms of light…

So I thought I would upgrade to something whiter and more reliable. I bought  a set of “Error Free LED License Plate Lights” for the E82/E88 series off the Bay for thirty bucks and thought I would give this thing a go again. Just search for “error free LED license plate lights BMW” and you’ll find lots of options. The ones I opted for looked like good candidates.

My first thought was, would they just slip right into the E31 light slot with no modification. Oh hell no. The E31 slot is much bigger and besides, the light housings themselves are larger too which means that even if they did lock right in, they wouldn’t fill the whole gap and then they’d look weird… Here are the two side by side and you can tell the modern model will almost fit into the E31 shell… with some minor modifications.



Start by removing the black plastic casing from the LED module itself being careful not to damage the LED module. Since I have no Dremel Tool (honey are you reading this?), I used my trusty soldering iron to just melt the plastic where it connects to the module’s backing, then clipped away the outer shell carefully until I was left with just the LED module and its connectors. Check it out… it’s gunna fit in there nicely huh?

Next cut out the clear blocker piece of plastic inside the OEM shell so the LED module can fit all the way in there, and bend the OEM light bulb restraint out enough to allow the LED module to slide right in there nice and snug. The OEM bulb retainer will help keep enough pressure on the LED module that it will require no glue or other means to hold it in there tightly. Oh man you won’t believe how well the module fits right in there… almost like it was meant to be… You can see the original OEM plug to the right, the newer E82/E88 plug in the middle and the module also comes with an older plug that matches our E31. There is just enough room, a perfect fit actually, to slide the LED module right in there.


Now you’re ready to re-install back into the car. Because you haven’t really messed with the OEM casing, you can put your old bulbs back in anytime. A perfect modern update while maintaining original equipment reversal.

Time to take a look: Comparing before and after, you can see how much whiter and brighter these new ones are.


And now with both installed – it looks a ton better to me. There you go, a simple and effective upgrade without destroying any original parts. I love it when stuff like this happens. Looks like the way they should have always been. What do you think?

UPDATED 3/17/12: Bad news community. The dreaded ‘LIC PLATE LIGHT FAIL’ error is back even though these are supposed to be ‘error free’ so I’m looking for some help to rectify the situation from the community. Will post back when I have more.

E31 Gatherings Of The Past

One of the most enjoyable things about owning this marvelous car, is the variety of owners who share the same enthusiasm. From the die hard, tear down and rebuild guys to the drivers who just love the timeless shape of the 8 Series body and would rather leave repairs to the professionals… everyone is a friend in this community. Even more rewarding is the semi-regular events where we all converge en mass, on a single place for a short time to get together, chat about our common interest and interests outside of the Eight. If you’ve never taken the time to plan on being involved in such an event, you are really missing out. There’s nothing quite like the sight of  lots of Eight Series cars driving up the highway or coming in to park at a winery all in a row. It’s truly a spectacle, and a blast to be a part of. There’s something comforting in getting together with others equally enthusiastic about this car. It’s experiences like these I will never forget.

As of this post, there are a number of opportunities to gather coming up. I hope to see you there!

Since everyone likes pictures, here is a small collection of them I’ve either taken myself or collected over the years. If I used a photo of yours without permission and this offends you, just let me know and I will be happy to give you credit, or remove it promptly.


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