Car of the Month -

Cars of the Month

The Car of the Month for TBD belongs to:
Mike Jaynes in Applegate, Ca.


Mike's 1981 528i 3.5

  This what it looks like now, but it wasn't always so...

I bought the car in Febuary 2003 from a co-worker with 180K on the odometer.
The car looked pretty beat up at first and I wasn't sure I wanted to tackle it.

 The milkshake on the dipstick and mold on the floor didn't help. As you can see from the picture, it was in poor shape, the sunroof was left open in the rain,  it had a blown head gasket (warped head), bumpers were pushed in on one side, mis-matched tires , numerous dings and a poor re-spray in the stock Arctic Blue.  The good part was that the previous owner had a mechanic put a 3.5 litre engine out of an 86  535. The fuel injection was stock l-jet.

I started doing my homework, mostly reading posts on first fives, all of the FAQs and past posts on the particular problems as I ran into them. First thing was to find a good head. I found a nice AMC head with low miles from one of our brothers at senior sixes,  Jim Bartridge.  Once I had that and all the other parts for a top end rebuild from the guys at Mesa Performance, I started putting it back together. I replaced all the fuel and water hoses, the water pump and fan clutch.  In between wrenching on the engine, I was cleaning the mold and surface rust from the interior. I removed the entire carpet and scrubbed it to finally get the smell out of the car.  When taking out the carpet, I found the probable cause for the blown head gasket. Antifreeze under the carpet could only mean a couple of things, heater valve or core. It was the valve, the original from the factory had never been replaced. The P.O. had let the coolant go low and the rest is....

Installing the BBS spoiler after repairing and painting
I saw pictures of the Euro version of the 528i and I knew that I wanted the car to look as it had been designed with Euro bumpers and spoiler. I found a post on First Fives from Craig Day in Utah. He was parting out a wrecked Euro 528i.  Immediately I emailed him and we worked out a deal for a Euro cluster, dash (beautiful condition) Bumpers and spoiler. As time went on I also bought Euro lights,  Bilstein HDs and springs from him.  I really owe him a debt of gratitude, without his help, my car would not be as nice as it is today.


Test drive after putting in the Euro cluster

Euro H4 lights installed along with my First Fives grille badge

rear spoiler

I found a brand new rear BBS spoiler from Eric in Washinton and installed it. The rear Euro bumper had been bent from the wrecked donor car, so with much massaging to the left side to get it straight without messing up the chrome or stretching the metal any more than it was. If you buy any used Euro parts, expect lots of rusted hardware. 


I restuffed the seats and put on sheepskins, I also found a brand new set of 4 door panels from a guy on ebay.  I found numerous parts as well as all of the tools for my tool kit, documentation, brochures and new friends with the same interest in old BMWs.  I also installed the analog clock from an earlier model.


 The stock seats just were not comfortable, so I found a set of Recaros on Ebay and fabbed some adaptors to the existing seat rails.

rear deck
Cool rear deck I bought from Greg Szczyrbak.

I have about 5K since putting it back on the road and love driving it. The 3.5 really has some low end torque and I find my foot in it more often than not. It drives very different from my 318is. I still need to install the new suspension components and at some point I will replace the stained headliner, remove the side marker lights and repaint the car properly. I have put way more time and money into this car than it will ever be worth, but I have had a lot of fun  and met a lot of nice people in the process. If I had it to do over, I would look for a car in better condition to start with.

Thanks to everyone that helped.

© 2005, ™