In this episode of Project Builds presented by Mömus - #stuffforcarguys, we replace the belt and tensioner, and the thermostat. We're getting rid of the loud cold start up and getting the heat back in to the cabin!
In this episode of 'Project Builds' presented by Mömus, we take a look at all the steps necessary to prepare your BMW for the winter months. From a humble wash, to a full paint sealant, window sealant in the style of RAIN-X, headlight bulbs, wipers, engine oil, fan / serpentine belt & tensioner and even the thermostat!
In this episode, we review the changes, upgrades and modifications made to our BMW E39! We take a look at the body work and m-sport bumpers, the facelift xenon lights with quad projector mod, the BMW style 238 wheels, the 30mm lowering springs, the headliner and trim, and off course the Android navigation head unit radio system!
The last little wood piece remaining in the centre console since the last update got whipped out to make place for an Android based head unit! It may seem just a small change to the car but is has got me excited as a little kid. There is just something about having that screen there.
Wether it's the fact that it still has this "exclusive option" appeal to it (especially in this 90s cabin), dresses up the interior, or just plain gives me something to do whilst sitting in traffic or waiting around for something: it all makes me very happy.
The install was easy enough once I figured out the wiring. Luckily all the cables and adapters were properly labeled. The head-unit came with a back-up camera, but I chose not to install due to the seemingly shoddy quality. The head unit itself though, looks and feels really rather nice.
The backlit buttons match wonderfully to the orange hue of the standard BMW ones, the design looks right, and even the knobs sound like the ones on the original unit. It looks right at home:
But instead of the tape deck monstrosity that was there before, I've now got Bluetooth, Wifi, GPS, DVD, and all the other modern goodies you can think of. I can't stop playing with it.
We made a tasty little video for you to enjoy the install:
High time to update the interior of our E39! Being pretty pleased with how the exterior came out, the interior of the car looks a little standard in comparison. Since I can remember, I could never leave anything alone. From “re-shaped” toy cars (read: bashed up) to completely overhauled bicycles to cars. I have never left anything standard that I had in possession.
Every car I see or enter, my mind already starts: This could be lower, wider, or this could be painted that colour, let's see if this grille would fit… And so, the aubergine cabin of our Mömusmobil was the next victim. From the get go I was never a big fan of the wood. Even though the wood pieces don’t look like the usual plasticky nonsense found in most cars, I still thought it could be improved upon.
With those out of the way, my attention shifted to the headliner. I actually like light headliners, as they improve the spacious feeling of a cabin, but having a silver-grey headliner in an otherwise purple and black interior does not tick any boxes. I shortly thought of color matching it to the aubergine leather seats, before coming to my senses and deciding on black. I feel like it would blend in more, with the top of the dash and door cards being black too.
For the dying process, I used spray cans for textile dying. It’s a slow process that needs many layers to build up to a even, black finish. But it’s a fairly simple job, that leaves the factory, soft finish of the headliner intact.
Next up were the now removed wood pieces that were sanded, primered, and then painted in a gloss black base coat with spray cans. To bring out the maximum possible shine and deepness to the paint, the compressor was used for several layers of clear coat.
During the time that the trim pieces were drying, I attacked some of the trim found in the headlining of the car. I wanted these to match with the now piano black trim, and so they given the same treatment.
After all all the painting and dying was done, everything was re-installed. The headliner can be a bit of a pain to get in and out of the car. But with some flexing of the headliner itself and laying the front seats all the way down, it will go through one of the rear doors. Just about.
I love it, two relatively small changes in the cabin, just the wood and the headliner + pillars, and the interior is just like I want it to be:
Here is a video we made of all this process:
Next time, we are taking care of that little would pieces that remains in the centre console!
It's finally time to start on the interior of our beast! But before we commence with any of the mods, a thorough cleaning is in order. Now, the previous (and first) owner of our e39, specced the car particularly well, with electrically adjustable, heated Aubergine leather sport seats, sport steering wheel, sunroof, and rear sun-blind. It is truly a joy to be inside the cabin.
However, as with many cars that are acquired second hand, the interior is covered in a thick layer of years and years of use. Especially the steering wheel is a real eyesore, and looks very greasy, grimy and slimy. It also appears to have some harsh skin oils induced damage.
In my experience, the most (cost) effective way of cleaning leather surfaces like these are with a magic sponge, a very dense, soft foam sponge that only requires lukewarm water. No soap is needed, unless actual oil has to been cleaned of the surface. Softly wipe it (not rub) over the leather, and dry it off with a microfibre towel. The transformation is unreal!
Especially the colored stitching is popping again.
Gone is the shiny, nasty grime. The leather once again has factory like, matte finish and looks and feels soft to the touch. Of course, the damages have not been repaired using this method. But they are way less visible, having removed the dirt that was filling the low spots, and the greasiness on top of the high spots.
The rest of the leather interior parts were also cleaned with the sponge, to match the now clean steering wheel. The seats were then gently cleaned, again using only lukewarm water, and soft bristle brush. This way the cleaning was not to abrasive on the top coat of the leather, since the last time these seats received any care or protection was unknown to me.
Here the front of the seat has already been cleaned, and reveals a more matte surface. Even the color pops more. After all the of leather surfaces were cleaned, a natural care product was applied.
Now in my opinion, vacuuming the carpet and the over mats is one of the biggest transformation to the cars interior. Especially with Harvey, our cocker spaniel, leaving white hairs all over the place.
We made a little video introducing the interior and thoroughly cleaning it:
We are currently working on refinishing a whole lot of trim, and taking headliner and pillars out.
Having always been a stance enthusiast, the wheel gap on our E39 has annoyed me from the start. Even though the car was equipped with the factory sports package, which offers a modest 20 millimetre lowering, the wheel gap is so immense it seems like the car is riding around on a lift kit (had a look, none was found).
In my original vision for this car, the replacement rims were a multi-piece set with a nice staggered lip. Somehow this fits incredibly well on the E39. However, refining the end results more and more in my head, the wheels were to be of a more modern design, in an anthracite or gloss black finish. This decision came along to tie in with the rest of the mods that were installed to give the car a bit of a facelift.
A set of original BMW Style 238`s in 19 inch were found. The wheels came with the winter tyres still mounted, in a for an E39 rather oversized 245/45/19. This was great as the nights over here still reach and exceed freezing temperatures. The gearbox has not yet thrown any faults, and apart from the occasional rubbing in tight turns, they are actually not that bad.
However, I'd like to save my fenders for once, so come the warmer weather they will be replaced for some 245/35/19's in summer attire.
On to the suspension. Through time my preference for cars that sit so low, the belly scrapes during normal driving, has changed a little. In this case, a set of lowering springs will suffice just nicely. The chosen springs were designed for the E39 with the sports package, and are supposed to lower the car another 30mm, for a total of 50 milimeter compared to a standard, non-sport 5 series.
Unfortunately for us DIYer's, the E39 has multilink suspension with Mcpherson struts, so the spring replacement has a little more to it than average. Especially in the rear, where half the interior has to be dismounted, the job presents a bit of a struggle. However to me, once everything was back together, the results were certainly worth it.
We made a little video capturing the work we put in to this part of the build:
And so it finally time to attack those bumpers and a few other bits with some paint!
Have I been waiting for this! The old-style, dull looking, pre-facelift headlights have finally made way for some updated, clear lens units. The new headlights started life as original halogen equipped Hella's. Before I took command of them, some LED bulbs had already been installed to give the angel eyes some more brightness.
That's a cute mod, but nothing like what was in store for them. I'm a sucker for projector headlights. They can really make or break a (modern) car for me, just like a set of wheels and springs can. The by now 30 year old BMW 325i E30 had these things fitted as standard, so why are reflector headlights still around today?
I don't know either, but I can get rid of the dated look of these main beams by high-jacking the projectors out of the old units and refitting them right in here.
After some struggling around, and getting everything to fit nicely, the lights were ready to be sealed and mounted back together.
To me, this takes the car to a whole new level. Mind you, BMW chose to only offer quad projectors from the F10 5-series on.
To match the front, some "facelift" replica tail lights were installed. Unlike the pro's of choosing originals for the front (such as the shroud and halo design), the con's of original facelift tails were mighty. To me, hammering out the body to make them fit, was not an interesting proposition.
These replica's do look a bit plasticky in real life. I'm currently looking into a way to hide that, such as a tint spray or foil. The side markers were also swapped for some clear ones, to match the clear indicators in the headlights and taillights.
Finally, the license plate lights were updated too. I went with some LED versions that have a relatively subtle blue-whiteish hue to them.
To see the modding of the headlights and the installation of all these parts, we made this little video:
I started work on getting the wheels off and to see how we can get this thing to sit a bit nicer.
BMW E39 - Bumper and body upgrades
Starting the mods
Right from the get go, I was set on replacing the bumpers with some M-package units. The reasons for this desire were manifold, but the two most pressing ones were as follows: to me, the E39 seems to be designed with and for the M-sport bumpers, as the lines flow so much better. And secondly, they freshen up the car enormously.
As with most M-sport designs, they remained basically the same throughout the entire run of production, and do not receive a major facelift somewhere in the middle, like it's more everyday bumper-siblings. This makes the car look a lot fresher, as the design was still current in early 2004, instead of late 1999. Also, the sport bumpers give the car a bit more edginess and sharpness that I have come to appreciate in contemporary designs.
And so, the normal, pre-facelift bumpers came off and were to make way for the new ones. As I'm sure you all do too, I scoure the online-listings to look for upgrade parts for almost every car I think of buying. For the E39, it's like hitting a gold mine. Endless pages of parts are available. However, trying to find original, good condition upgrade parts such as the M-bumpers, can present a real challenge. I therefore sprung for some replicas, made by a reputable company in Germany.
At least, I though I did. The company I bought the bumpers from, informed me the rear units were out of stock. Next delivery would be in a month. So I scoured again, and amongst the many listings I found a matching rear unit. However, the company selling it was unknown to me. I did some investigating, and what did I find? The bumper was on sale at a discount on yet another listings-website. I went ahead and ordered, and got this:
It turns out the ad for the bumper with discount was not the same as the one I found earlier matching the front, but for a Chinese unit. Oh, well. In fact, after some doubts about how flexible this thing was, and how bad the fitment was at first, the bumper was easier to get sitting right then the German one on the front.
I decided to fit everything up first, including trim, and see if they actually line up right, prior to any painting. With this step of the facelift complete, I turned my attention to the pre-facelift grills. Every small part seems to make such a huge impact, yet they only work when done all together. I therefore ordered some facelift grills, in a piano black finish. Not a huge chrome-enthusiast to start with, but to me these kidneys contrast a lot nicer with the Aspen Silver finish then the originals.
I then turned my attention back to the rear of the car. Again, I wanted to give this car a bit more of the edginess and sharpness that I've come to like in modern car designs. The rear bumper and its diffuser already go a great way to achieve this, but I felt more could be done. A modest spoiler lip would make a world of difference here, wouldn't it?
The spoiler is awaiting its paint treatment, together with the new bumpers. Speaking of them, with the front now looking so clean and smooth without the plates ruining any of the lines of the car, the rear was attacked too. Sadly, I don't have the minerals to run without any, so I removed the frame to clean it up just that little bit.
All of that can be seen in this video we made of our progress:
We are currently doing something with these.