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      04-03-2022, 12:12 PM   #1
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The Drowned Man and other stories: an e91 project

The Drowned Man and other stories: an e91 project

So, introduction to myself and why I have this car is fairly simple: I have had euro wagons for most of my adult life as daily use cars and my go to choice has always been Volvo, and I felt the need to try something different.

I have purchased a 2011 e91 to bring back to life. Itís a purist/poverty spec in rwd and very few options. I would love it if it were a slick top too, but I wasnít that lucky.

This project will follow the path that many of my previous tinkering car projects travel in that how it evolves all depends on what I can find. Iím resourceful at collecting things.

So far Iíve collected 3 parts cars to contribute things to the e91.

Probably most significantly a M Sport kit N51 with the drowned man inside (the inspiration for the name for the thread). Hilariously the car would turn on and lots of things would power up even with the water having completely covered the car!

Then I got a rough N52 Non-M Sport to get the updated seats and paddle shifters (yet to be retrofit).

And most recently a 135i for brakes.

At the moment Iím uncertain whether all this stuff will make it onto the car and what the finished product might be, but this is the project so far. Of course I plan to swap in the 330i intake (taken from the n51), and then itís probably suspension modifications, and the usual things. Iím not committing to doing all that as Iím notorious for growing tired of a project and going on to something elseÖ but I would like to do those things and more, if it can maintain my interest long term!


Hopefully the car will be going in for paint work in a few weeks. And yes, the M sport side skirts will be going on too. They will be easier to paint off the car, so I wonít install them until after they are painted. I did buy the M sport rear bumper too, which is again the same story. It will be painted off the car and then installed.


So here the build thread starts with just shy of 83,000 miles on the clock of the car. It needs cleaning, painting, and modifications!



--------------------------------

Questions:

There are conflicting opinions on what the stock sport springs for an e91 should be. I contacted bmw and they can get me the stock springs, but that will be a $800 hit to know I get the factory correct springs. Does anyone know what the stock sport springs are? Currently the car has C5s in the front and F4s in the rear. The N51 M Sport donor parts car has D4 front, and D4 in the rear. I presume I should not use these? They are free and only have 66k miles on them, if acceptable, it seems an easy upgrade. I would certainly consider alternative options than stock, but I donít want a significant ride drop or a drop in ride quality.

Speakers upgrade: are there options? Can I retrofit the higher grade factory speakers and amp or would that be aftermarket territory?

Bluetooth audio retrofit?

Any other nice quality of life improvements recommended?


And, YES, I WOULD ALSO LOVE TO RETROFIT IN 3 PEDALS, BUT UNLESS SOMEONE WANTS TO VOLUNTEER TO DO IT FOR ME, I DONíT PLAN ON DOING IT. If someone who has experience doing it quotes me a number to do it that my financial algorithm thinks is worth it, Iíll buy a complete car with whatever the required parts are required and Iíll pay someone to do it. I wonít be doing that myself as that is beyond my skill level and in general I believe that the transmission a vehicle ships with from the factory is the transmission it should keep. PM with references if applying for the job to perform the gender swap.


ó-----------------------------------------

AND YES! If you would like parts off of these 3 donor cars, I will sell them to you to help lower the cost of my own project. If itís extensive to pull or difficult to ship, please be very patient with me as I do have a very demanding day job and itís hard for me to keep up with everything. Local pickup is ideal and I canít ship any body parts larger than say a headlight or wheel. Iím located in central VA, just outside of Lynchburg.


-------

So, this forum setup for photo organization is new to me, so the photos in order of appearance:

e91 on delivery, N51 M sport and drowned man, N52 non-m sport interior, 135, and then the e91 as it sits right now.
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      04-03-2022, 12:26 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums. Can't wait to see where this goes!
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      04-04-2022, 02:53 PM   #3
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Great project! Looking forward to the progression.
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      04-04-2022, 06:50 PM   #4
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Engine Swap chant.... Manual gear box. You have the beginnings of a great project.
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      04-05-2022, 05:57 AM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback!

I should mention that @Guy Fieri is also a big contributor to why I'm here. We've been kicking around car ideas together for probably going on 10 years now. We both had, and still have, Volvo wagons to talk about, and now we both have e90s too.

Probably why I got this car was because I was selling my project Volvo and needed a replacement. Here is a couple photos I took for the first test photo shoot of the project Volvo, but someone decided they wanted it from this shooting, that I never got to take a second attempt. That is one of two Volvo V70 T6 (300+ hp) AWDs in North America. It was never offered in this configuration and so it has to be built to get one.

But with that gone, a replacement tinkering car felt needed.


I've never been a stranger to BMW, but been away from for a long time as a personal car. The last time I had a bmw for my personal use was a 2001 325i convertible: manual transmission, sport pack, and curiously a manual top. I really enjoyed that car and the freedom from concern of the top failure even though it was a multi step process to put the top up and down. That's the only bmw I've seen with a manual top. Trying to remember when I had that car.... 12-14 years ago maybe? It was slow, but fun to flog.

I think the last I had one that I used semi regularly was when I would borrow my brothers red ZPH 330i when my now wife and I were dating, so that puts time line of further out than 10 years.

Though, I did get my father in law an s54 Clown Shoe for a wedding present and that is kept on hand with no plans for departure. So technically I've never been without and since I was responsible for obtaining the car, I get my own key and can take it whenever I feel like some analog goodness. We bought it with <30k miles on it and we've just past 50k after 8-ish years of ownership.


So, yea, here we are today. @M-technik-3 I don't really plan on an engine or transmission swap at this point. The Volvo linked above was a very intensive project and I don't think I want something on that level for a while. Transmission swap I would very much consider if I found someone to do it for me, but engine not likely. N54 is very easily obtainable and that would probably be the first choice, but an S65 would be interesting. Either is likely to be far more technical and costly than I have envisioned for the budget for this car. I've started watching for an M3 parts car, but everything I've watched for has brought fairly stupid money. M5 of M6 parts cars go for less money than M3s.


I have been considering selling my SL550 and replacing that with a 3 pedal convertible, which could be S65 powered. That could whet the appetite for a more powerful wagon, but I doubt it. I feel pretty OK with the power output as it is so far.

For daily use cars currently I have three spots.

Wife's car: Volvo V60
Convertible: MB SL550
Tinkering car: this e91

Wife's car she has to be on board with changing, but the other two is purely up to my discretion. I'm not in a hurry to replace the SL, but I've been thinking about it. I've never driven an e90 M and would be open minded to give it a try.
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      04-05-2022, 06:22 PM   #6
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Nice, I love build threads that involve saving a car!! Specially a BMW wagon. Looking forward for more updates
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      04-05-2022, 07:26 PM   #7
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All are you willing to sell one of your aluminum trim of the wagon or e90?
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      04-07-2022, 05:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3_Legend View Post
All are you willing to sell one of your aluminum trim of the wagon or e90?
I have actually already sold most of the aluminum trim from both cars. I have some left from the n52 car, but iirc it's limited to the left dash vent and the door pulls.



On a side note: Anyone know how to get into the trunk of a 1 series cabrio without keys or power? I'll cut holes in the rear seats if I have to, but it looks somewhat complicated to access...
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      04-07-2022, 11:04 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prolix-2 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by M3_Legend View Post
All are you willing to sell one of your aluminum trim of the wagon or e90?
I have actually already sold most of the aluminum trim from both cars. I have some left from the n52 car, but iirc it's limited to the left dash vent and the door pulls.



On a side note: Anyone know how to get into the trunk of a 1 series cabrio without keys or power? I'll cut holes in the rear seats if I have to, but it looks somewhat complicated to access...
I would just connect leads to the engine bay and you should have power?
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      04-08-2022, 04:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3_Legend View Post
I would just connect leads to the engine bay and you should have power?
I tried that, but I would assume with this level of impact it blew the connector on the battery. Whatever the cause there is no response with power at the connectors in the engine.
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      04-08-2022, 05:34 AM   #11
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Question: how difficult is it to manual swap this car?

I ask because BaT just had this car listed which is the car I have now, plus some options, and most importantly, 3 pedals.

I always do a spreadsheet of a car to decide how much the car is worth to me to make a judgement call as to whether it would be worth taking the plunge.

EDIT: TL;DR

Pretty sure there is no reason I would feel like paying the money for the BaT car. I'll no longer bore you with details.

Last edited by Prolix-2; 04-08-2022 at 06:54 PM..
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      04-09-2022, 04:48 AM   #12
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Next car to supply parts arrived yesterday in the form of this N51 M-Sport. Curiously the car has a square set of wheels. A rare set made rarer by someone creating a matching set vs staggered. I'm sure it was an intentional choice so they could be rotated, and it's also obvious that someone cared about this car as it still looks pretty good for having 200,000 miles on it!

Question: where is the happening place in the BMW world where steering wheels go to be refinished? All the paddle shifter options for swapping into the e91 are pretty rough.
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      04-09-2022, 06:24 PM   #13
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Glad to see someone else picked up that blue/beige wagon. I can't rebuild them all myself

If you want it 6mt swapped (or whatever else swapped), send it up to MI. I've done a few. Most if not all parts usually in stock 😉
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      04-11-2022, 05:14 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mad1stgen View Post
If you want it 6mt swapped (or whatever else swapped), send it up to MI. I've done a few. Most if not all parts usually in stock 😉
PM sent.
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      04-11-2022, 05:25 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mad1stgen View Post
Glad to see someone else picked up that blue/beige wagon. I can't rebuild them all myself

If you want it 6mt swapped (or whatever else swapped), send it up to MI. I've done a few. Most if not all parts usually in stock 😉
Actually, no, I don't have enough posts yet to send a PM. I think this comment right now may be enough to give me the freedom?

Regardless, in the tl;dr, I don't know how much I want to put into this project and my safe guard is that I don't start spending more than x,xxx until I have put at least 1k miles on a car.
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      04-11-2022, 11:46 AM   #16
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damn great job, want to sell me the front and rear bumpers off the new donor? lol
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      04-11-2022, 07:41 PM   #17
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square set up on X-Drive came like that from the factory. If It was Rear wheel drive those wheels would of came staggered. For the steering wheel Rewrapped try Cobywheel.com
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      04-11-2022, 07:42 PM   #18
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P.S want to sell me that front bumper?
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      04-12-2022, 04:54 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3_Legend View Post
square set up on X-Drive came like that from the factory. If It was Rear wheel drive those wheels would of came staggered. For the steering wheel Rewrapped try Cobywheel.com
Ah, that makes sense. I didn't see that mentioned in the sales brochure for the year with the difference between the awd vs rwd setup. I knew some of zimmas of this vintage had staggered tyres even with awd.

--

I had actually seen Cobywheel as an option for recovering the steering, but it looks like they are only offering in alcantara as a leather option? I really don't want alcantara or any suede like material for this steering wheel. A dedicated driver's car, sure, it would be fine, but this car will have a shared use. I had something more in mind like the wheel I had done for my last project car (see attachment). I cost a pretty penny as it was done in the UK, but I was very happy with the fit and finish. It was made thicker with a mixture of smooth and perforated sections.

I bought another N51 M-sport, nearly a twin to the blue one yesterday, so maybe it's steering wheel will be in better shape than the 135 or others. I'm really puzzled as to why these wheels have faired so very badly. The 1 series wheel looks like the entire unit is cracking and rotting out! It's quite astonishing and I'll have to get some photos of it. I don't know if that's even usable for a core for refinishing! Thankfully the 3s, even with some rougher wheels, are fully usable and fully acceptable for cores as well.
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      04-12-2022, 06:13 AM   #20
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Quote:
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P.S want to sell me that front bumper?
Yes, very possibly. Though I'm going to start selling things off any of the donor cars until the e91 is fully painted and assembled. Rule of thumb with a project is make sure it's fully complete before you start pitching/selling things. Keep those fasteners and misc bits and bobs as you never know what you don't know you need. Paint work is scheduled the week of the 25th, so I guess I'll get back to you on this some time in May.

Keep in mind, I probably intend to sell as a full sport kit of side skirts, front and rear bumpers. This is also something I can't ship. I'm in centra VA just outside Lynchburg, which is about an hour South of Charlottesville and about an hour West of Richmond.
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      04-12-2022, 11:27 AM   #21
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Are you buying multiple donor cars to put the wagon together? Unless I was doing something big, I would just buy parts off a part out. In FL there are sooooo many E9X cars being parted.

Also is one of the cars a manual that looks like it was flooded? You have all the parts to do the swap and it's really not that hard but I don't know what your level of wrenching is. Swapping out the beige interior would be the top of my list before manual swap.
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      04-12-2022, 07:03 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TyroneShoelaces View Post
Are you buying multiple donor cars to put the wagon together? Unless I was doing something big, I would just buy parts off a part out. In FL there are sooooo many E9X cars being parted.

Also is one of the cars a manual that looks like it was flooded? You have all the parts to do the swap and it's really not that hard but I don't know what your level of wrenching is. Swapping out the beige interior would be the top of my list before manual swap.
I wouldn't trust a flooded transmission. Might be fine, but that's work for a risky part. If doing it, I would start with something in better shape history wise.

As for buying multiple donors? I dunno, it's just what I do. You might say I have less time than money, so getting cars shipped in for convenience is far les expensive for me than going to someone for a part out.

The other N51 sport I mentioned was delivered today. Also awd, but this one has a staggered set of wheels and a steering wheel in much better shape.

Cute likkle spoiler on the back. I don't know if that's a stock thing or not, I haven't seen it before. As a knee jerk reaction in passing the paint on it didn't look terrible, so factory or a quality aftermarket paint job?
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