iXchange Issue #16


A newsletter for BMW 325 iX Enthusiasts.


Members' iXperiences

- Ball Joint Replacement        1
- Disappointing D40M2s          2
- A  Different Perspective      2
- More on Wheels and Tires      2
- Careful with that ABS Ring!   3
- Timing Belt Woes              3
- Dan's iX Status               3
- A New iX + Shock Details      4
- Radio Scan Button             6
- Electrical Connector Removal  6
- The first AWD RHD BMW         6

Members' iXperiences

Erik Swain of Yardville, NJ tells of "Heinrich's" latest "operation"--

I'd noticed since the fall that the ride in my 1989 iX had been a bit wobbly, but once the snow tires went on for the winter, the movement and noise were less discernible. However, when the regular tires came back on, there was much wobbling and rattling coming from the front wheels. My wife refused to ride in it so we took her car (1991 318is) everywhere.

At first I figured it might just be a need for an alignment and/or balance. None had been done since I bought the car in May 1995. But the tire place showed me that the ball joints were extremely worn and would have to be replaced.

I immediately called my father-in-law, Gene Schaeffer, who owns a `91 M3 and consequently is a do-it-yourselfer. He advised that since the iX had 114,000 miles" the prudent thing would be to replace the entire left and right lower control arms. We also decided to replace the bushings that attach to the back of them. In any case" it is hard to find a place that sells only the ball joints.

I wasn't exactly surprised that the car was due for a major surgery. (The only other one since I've owned it was an alternator replaced under warranty.)

As we all know" every part is more expensive for the iX than for other BMWs" and nowhere is this more true than for lower control arm assemblies. Gene's catalogs advertised them for around $250 each" compared to about $100 for a normal 3-series and $200 for an M3. If this is what the aftermarket people are charging" I imagine that having the replacement done by a dealer probably costs between $1,000 and $1,500, including labor. So I called around to the aftermarket dealers. Bavarian Autosport wanted $274 per assembly and $24 per bushing, plus $2 per nut that goes with the assembly, a total package quoted at $590. But, they said, they have a policy allowing them to match or beat any other quote.

Then I called other places. No luck at BMP Design or NOPI, which don't carry the parts for the ix, or at Mesa Performance, which never called me back. But Eurasian Autoparts came through, quoting a price of $224 per assembly, including the nuts. However, they seemed confused about which bushings were needed, so I decided to call back Bavarian and see if they would match.

After playing phone tag with the salesperson, I got them to beat the price, at $220 per assembly, including nuts. I also needed front brake pads, which they quoted for $28 (beating Eurasian by a dollar), and a new Roundel emblem for the hood. The total for the whole package was $526, and they didn't charge for shipping. It was the first time in my life I've ever been relieved to drop that much money.

Of course, what was saved in money was spent in time. After jacking up the car, removing the front tires, and taking out the air box for access to the left front inner ball joint, we realized a 22mm deep socket was needed to undo the nut. Mission accomplished after a trip to Sears Hardware. (We tried Pep Boys first but they didn't have it.)

But then we found the outer ball joint didn't want to come off. Because we didn't have the correct size pickle fork, we used a straight claw framing hammer wedged between the top of the ball joint and the bottom of the strut. After much grunting and groaning, it came off. The left front assembly was removed with the bushing still attached, snugly fit, to the rear of the control arm. We had to cut the rubber away to get the bushing head off. We found much of the boot surrounding the ball joint had worn off, meaning the operation didn't come a moment too soon.

Installation, of course, was the reverse of removal, aside from installing the new brake pads. Though it should be noted that we put the new bushings in the freezer before installing them so they would shrink and fit better.

The right side went much more quickly now that we knew exactly what was needed. To get at the inner ball joint, we removed an aluminum heat shield, but everything else was the same. Except that the ball-joint boot on that side was even more worn. Total time for the project: just short of six hours, including the hardware trip.

After a new Roundel and a wash, the car was ready for the road. Now my wife will ride in it again.


David Ritter of Marquette, MI is disappointed with Dunlops but finds benefit from a valve adjustment:

I thought I'd give you an update on those Dunlop D60A2 tires. The tires have been on for a few weeks now, and I've taken a small road trip with them. The first thing I noticed was that they were very smooth riding, really soaking up little bumps, and very quiet. Now the bad news. The smooth ride and quiet are paid for in handling. I feel that the tire is very soft directionally too, and not really what suits an IX as an all weather solution. I have not yet encountered any frozen stuff (a good thing), so the winter handling is still in question. I am glad that I decided to put the Dunlops on my Audi Quattro first, before trying them on the IX. The D60A2 is much better suited to the Audi "family car" than the IX. The smooth ride is nice on those long boring interstates with very few curves. The previous tires on the Audi were the Kelly Charger all season tires like those on my IX. The Kelly Charger, although not a performance tire, is a better bet for my IX. It handles better than the Dunlop and still has good snow and ice traction.

I do not regret buying the D60A2's and I still appreciate Gordon's advice on them. I do like the Dunlops on the Audi better than the IX, so it was still a very good buy from the Tire Rack. In other news..

I was recently having a bit of a rough idle on the IX. I had read in the BMW Digest of valve adjustments helping rough idle problems. My IX had not had a valve adjustment in a while so I decided to try it. The valve adjustment really improved my idle, it is much smoother now. I guess a regular valve adjustment would have avoided this little problem, and now I know better.


Jack Kleiner of Morristown, PA likes his Dunlops and refurbished wheels:

I purchased my 88 iX in June of 96 and after running my with the OEM P600s and factory wheels for 15K miles, I decided that for the winter I would go the steel wheel route. (Pa. is notorious for potholes) Reading all the back issues of the iXchange lead me to order the factory wheels from my dealer. I also ordered the small center cap to cover the wheel bearing. Yes I am aware that there are cost effective alternatives to the factory wheels, but why not do it right.

I installed Michelin MXV4's instead of a winter only tire. No problems that the iX couldn't handle. Driving 100+ miles every day would have turned the other tires into a one season deal. My thoughts now turned to the factory wheels. As everyone who has an iX knows, the offset problem reared it's ugly head. A quick call to the nice people at the Wheel Collision Center 1.800.292.7467 answered all my questions. Why not true and refinish the stock BBS wheels vs. buying something that isn't quite right. I sent all 4 wheels out to be trued and refinished, ordered new roundels for the center caps and ordered D40M2's. No more mirror vibrations, no more noise, and best of all the Dunlops run rings around the sorry P600's.

I can hear everyone complaining that the stock wheels are a bear to keep clean. Since I have had my wheels back on the car I wash them using a dilute mixture of simple green. Spray the dry wheel/tire with simple green and go about washing the car. Be sure to keep the wheel and tire from drying by spritzing with a little more simple green. By the time the car is washed I rinse the wheels, and apply one last dose of simple green. Then using a long soft bristle brush along with a round painters brush to reach into the tight spots I will brush the wheel clean. A final wash with car soap and a rinse and the wheels look factory clean.

Last but not least. At around 72k the car started making a WAWA sound along with a vibration between 40-70 mph. I looked for all the usual suspects, worn rear, bad tire, etc. I even went as far as riding in the trunk to find the damn noise. Finally relenting to my local BMW dealer they replaced the passenger side rear wheel bearing. Even the dealer hadn't heard of this noise/vibration before. All is now quiet.


Richard Bost of Seattle, WA provides an update on his new tire and wheel combo:

Upon much mental debate on which way to go after bending one of my BBS wheels, I decided that a new set of 16 inch wheels and tires for $1362 (inc. shipping) from Discount Tire Direct was the way to go. It was roughly $600 more than a 15 inch combination would have cost me, but I felt that if I was going to the expense of changing wheels in the first place, I should upgrade to 16 inch wheels. I decided upon the Cromodora Sin because of the simple 5 spoke design and I wanted something that was easy to clean. An added bonus was the little red design in the center goes well with my red iX. Tire choice was another debate. Over the years my experience has been that the hype that surrounds Japanese products (be they cars or tires) is just that - hype. The results don't measure up. But I had heard so many great things about the Yokohama AVS Intermediate (205/50ZR-16) tires, that I decided to give them a try.

I'm a bit disappointed, but not terribly surprised. In the dry, the Yoko's are only marginally better than the tires they replaced (Pirelli P-700Z 205/50VR-15). That is about 2 to 3 MPH on a constant radius on-ramp. Though it does look like they will wear better, if I wanted a tire for its mileage, I would go to Sears and get some of those 100k jobs.

In the rain, these tires stink. I have owned Pirelli's on a number of cars, all BMW's or Alfa's. They never lasted more than 20,000 miles, but in the rain, their performance was almost as good as in the dry. I could out corner anyone, even those nasty Porsche's in the rain.

I think the bottom line is that the Japanese design their products for the biggest market in America and that is California. A warm, dry climate, where image is more important than functionality. European cars and tires on the other hand are made for Europe, with their bumpy roads and wet conditions. Maybe I just like those adverse conditions better, but than that's why I like the iX.


Todd Knepper of Shrewsbury, PA provides a cautionary note and needs an ABS ring:

I am working on the front end of my '88 325iX and I had a slight accident with a gear puller. I have bent the ABS ring that has the teeth on it that is read by the ABS sensor. It mounts on the CV joint on the IX. The only way of getting a new one is to buy a new joint. I don't need a new joint, just the ABS ring that presses on the front axle. Please let me know if you have any known source for a used one. I think that anyone who was replaced the CV joint would have this part even if the joint is bad. Contact Todd at eatdk@exchange.wcc.lucent.com or 717.235.8984.


Dave and Pam Ament of Colorado Springs provide another horror story and remind all of us to replace that timing belt:

I was interested to read Greg Bergey's experiences (iXchange Issue 16) with a timing belt that went south after 46,000 miles. Our '88 iX ("Sigi") stopped dead on the interstate last month during a major snowstorm. After Sigi spent a cold night by the side of the road (the waiting list for a tow truck was 12 hours long) we got him into our favorite shop, Concours Cars, the next morning. A quick check revealed that we had spark, fuel, and air, but no compression. The first thought was a broken timing belt, but the belt appeared to be in place. Further inspection brought forth one of the timing belt's teeth, lodged in a crevice of the engine. This was not a good sign! I left Sigi in capable hands and hoped for the best.

After a few days, Mark Weiner from Concours called with the full story. No, the timing belt had not broken, but it did have a lengthwise split at one spot for about two inches. The split apparently broke off the belt's teeth in that area, allowing the belt to slip completely out of time. Of course every exhaust valve committed suicide in sympathy. We checked Sigi's records and learned that we had replaced the belt about 47,000 miles ago. Mark told us it is possible for something to get behind the cover over the timing belt on a BMW six-cylinder and either break the belt or break off teeth the way ours had. He described this as a "once in five years" phenomena, but something he had seen before. Unfortunately, this time it happened to us. We couldn't find any foreign material lodged in the gears or inside the cover, but Mark felt it was possible that packed snow or ice may have done the damage.

Since Sigi has 109,000 miles, (and we have no intention of changing to an Audi) we decided not to repair the valves, but rather to replace the entire head with a remanufactured unit. (I'm afraid we didn't get much mileage out of the new style head bolts we installed just the previous year. C'est la vie!) As long as we had things that far apart, it seemed like a good time to replace some of the other items that are hard to get at with the engine in normal trim. We ended up with a new water pump, radiator (small leak), all coolant and heater hoses, ignition wiring plus cap and rotor, two new injectors, and other miscellany. Gordon, my memory of your description of how much fun it is to replace some of those hoses played a big part in my decision to replace them while everything was apart.
I'm afraid we didn't think of approaching BMW to cover some of the cost. Perhaps it's worth a shot, but I doubt that they'll go for it since the work was not done by a dealer. In any case, we ended up about $4500 lighter, but with an engine that runs (and looks) like new. I don't know if replacing the belt at 45,000 would have prevented this problem; maybe a newer belt would have flexed rather than split. I think I'll err on the side of caution and put on a new belt at 154,000 miles!


Dan Guliano shares the latest about his '88 iX. This is a reprint of Dan's column "iX Marks the Spot" in the Connecticut Valley Chapter Newsletter. (Dan has been very busy contributing to a fantastic and hugely successful O'fest--Congratulations Dan!)

Exhaust. After about six years the Sebring rusted through at the hanger straps around the muffler. Seems the strap and the muffler were made of different metals and the rot occurred ONLY where the two met. Keep that in mind when replacing mufflers.

The question then was what system to use. Extensive research found the B&B was generally found to be the current 'state of the art' though at a relatively high price. The Stebro was in the running, available from a BMW CCA member in Canada at a very attractive price. The Sebring was found to be generally unavailable, at any price. There were others, though not made of stainless.

Talking with Dan Maynard at 3D Autoworks revealed a B&B system for an iX hanging from his rafters. It seems the original owner had it in his iX for only weeks when the noise forced him to sell it. The second owner had in for one or two months before the noise level was too much. Having already spent six years with the Sebring, how much louder could the B&B be?

After short but intense negotiations (yes, they are very, very loud..but I play my stereo loud) the B&B was installed and the iX was better than new. As I drove home my spouse stated that the exhaust was even louder than the Sebring. When I disagreed, she explained she could prove it was louder -- the dogs could hear the iX coming up the street from THREE blocks away, not just two.

Brakes. At 185,000 miles the front brakes needed service. New rotors and pads made it all better. Third set of pads for the front, originals lasted for 100,000 miles, second set for 85,000. Rears still look good.

Front struts. Both front aftermarket Bilsteins froze. The iX handled really weird. Front rode really, really stiff (after all they were frozen) and the back rode 'normally' -- which meant the car wanted to oversteer, a change of pace for an iX. Because they were aftermarket, the Bilsteins have a lifetime warranty. And they mean it. Normally you send the failed hardware to Bilstein and they send you replacements, but this would have put the iX in an 'out of service' position for the better part of a week. The folks at Bilstein were great. Once they received a fax of the work order showing the initial purchase they sent a set of struts. The iX was down for less than a day. A great product supported with outstanding customer service.

Coolant leak. Had a gasket fail near the throttle body. The part costs $ 1.95, but it takes 2+ hours of labor to replace it.

Tires. Not yet, but before the end of the season we'll need new tires for the iX. Still will probably go with Dunlop D40M2's. A great tire and the price keeps coming down.

Miscellaneous. The passenger seat is beginning to fail at the hinge, much like the driver's set did five years ago. Will probably begin to look for heated leather sport seats from an E30 M3.

Other than that, not much to report. The iX has 188,000 miles and is due for a timing belt change at 190,000. Engine is beginning to use a little oil between changes, but after all, it has a mile or so on it.


Here is an iXperience from Alan Afano of Middleton, CT:

The Search . I have always been a car person. As a teenager, I worked at my grandfathers garage helping repair VW beetles and Hudsons. I still have two Austin-Healey 100M's, one since 1975. In 1982 I purchased a 1980 BMW 320i. The 320i was sold in April 1984 to purchase one of the first 1984 325e's into New England. In early 1996 the thought of a 325iX entered my mind. I casually watched ads for them. In late 1997, this casual interest became an obsession. I joined the iX Registry, purchased all back issues, read all period road tests, and reread all period Roundels. Using the Internet I searched major US metropolitan area newspapers. In order to understand the real selling prices of these cars, I started a database of iX's being sold. A week or two later, I called back to determine how the selling prices compared to the asking price. I was convinced that somewhere, there was a low mileage 2 door, 5 speed waiting for me at the right price. In preparation that I could find a car anywhere in the country, I contacted Gary Black from Washington state, on how he purchased his iX in San Francisco. I found that there was no shortage of 90-150k mile iX's. I placed expensive wanted ads in the New York Times, and got no phone calls. I then placed ads in the local Connecticut BMW CCA newsletter and the National BMW CCA Roundel.

The Purchase From the local BMW CCA newsletter I only just got one phone car. It was a 1988 iX, cinnebar red, black leather, all original with 54k miles. Was I interested ? Is the pope Polish? A 2 hour pilgrimage to view the car was scheduled for a Saturday morning in February 1997. When we got there, the car was running outside the garage, with flat tires and 1 inch of dust. The battery was dead, so the car had been jump started. First stop was to a gas station for some air. Due to its storage with flat tires, the tires had a thump at speed, also there was not much get up and go. After the test drive, I turned off the car and it would not start again due to the dead battery. Good thing I did not have problems with the clutch ! The next week after a flurry of phone calls, a deal was stuck and the next Saturday we picked up the car bringing a new battery. The car had already had its timing chain and front rotors / pads replaced. Also included was the original window sticker, 4 BMW steel rims! with Hakkapeliitta 09 snow tires, custom fit car cover and new Dunlop SP Sport 8000 tires.

After the Purchase . One of the first things that I purchased was the E30 factory workshop manual, electrical troubleshooting & schematic manual, torque specifications book, Haines manual, BMW parts price book and BMW E30 parts fiche from Rodd Sidney's All BMW Parts. One of the benefits to having an older low mileage car is the ability to profit from the lessons learned from the high mileage cars. The hex head bolts were changed to the torx style. Valves were adjusted. Spark plugs, rotor and cap were replaced. The spark plug wires were replaced with a set from Rodd Sidney's All BMW Parts. These were 100% silicone wires with the original style terminals and plastic tube.
The air filter was replaced. I have gotten in the habit of replacing air filters every 15k miles, as they seem to get a bit restrictive by the recommended 30k change. I plan on staying away from the K&N filter as any horsepower gains are not worth the perceived shortened engine life. I think that more reliable horsepower gains can be realized from a free flow cat -back exhaust, a larger throttle body and flowed intake runner. For even more power, one needs deep pockets for a stroker or turbo set up. I do not plan on going there. A new VDO tire gauge was purchased to get ! those Dunlops exactly to 32 PSI. I did not like the harshness and dartiness of these tires on adjoining tar patches. I had measured the thread depth and now noticed that the tires centers were wearing unevenly (ie over inflation). But the VDO showed 32 PSI, break out my old trusty MotoMeter gauge and it showed 42 PSI. Good bye VDO tire gauge. No more harshness or dartiness.

The car needed a little detailing TLC, so Car Care Specialities was called for 3M Imperial Hand Glaze, One Grand Blitz wax and Lexol Vinyex. The car looks stunning ! New carpet mats were ordered from Imparts, due to the poor fit quality, I made templates and Imparts remade the mats. All drive line oils were replaced with Redline synthetic. The oil filter was upgraded to a Canton-Mecca filter. This filter has an aluminum housing with a replaceable/inspectable synthetic element. I am surprised that more BMW fanatics do not buy this filter. The filter has 100% filter flow at all times. Stock filters have a relief valve that allows unfiltered oil through at cold start up. Aggressive driving with 40 weight oil will also cause the stock filter pressure valve to open letting unfiltered oil through. The Canton-Mecca filter burst strength is rated to 1000 PSI, with only a one PSI pressure drop. It also has the highest possible oil flow rate obtainable. It filters the oil to 8 microns, where the stock paper filters to 15 microns. I had this filter on my 320i and 325e. Korman Automotive has tested and recommends this filter in their catalog.

The car still did not have that get up and go feeling, but I was getting unbelievable mileage in mixed city/highway (25.5 MPG). Two gas tanks with Chevron Techron and look out. We now have get up and goooooooooooo. Mileage is now down to the EPA 21/23 MPG. A Dinan chip was purchased from BMP. This was definitely a marked improvement, but in retrospect, I should have got the Jim Conforti chip.

The shocks were replaced with Koni's. I did not learn from James Ferguson of Calgary, Alberta, Canada and his experience with Koni's. I got my Koni's on June 25 1997, purchased from RD Enterprises for $482. I was getting quotes on Koni's between $482 and $540. Where the shocks are purchased does not matter, as all Koni shocks are drop shipped from their Kentucky warehouse. Luckily there was only one set of iX front shocks in the US warehouse, otherwise a special order to Holland would have taken 2-3 months. I spoke to Koni sales in great detail about the problem that James had with his rear Koni's and they were insisted that I get the rear shock 26-1196 Sport (otherwise I would have been out of warranty). Foolishly, I listened to Koni. James was absolutely right, the 26-1196 Sport rear shocks have a rock hard rebound that overpowers the stock spring. I spoke with Lee at Koni technical (606-727-5035).

After a bit a pushing, Lee finally gave me a warranty switch to the rear hydraulic shock 80-2522 Sport. James has spent considerable time tuning his shocks. But each of us is looking for something different. I have 1/2 turn on the front and none on the rears. The car has a comfortable but firm ride. It definitely has transformed the car. I would highly recommend this upgrade to all. Prior to installing the shocks, I read Gordon's writeup and read my Haynes manual. It took me 11 hours to do the fronts and backs. This took much longer that the average bear. But (1) I have never done any strut work, so everything was a learning curve, and (2) the strut retaining caps were severely rusted, good thing that I have an acetolene torch . I also cut one coil from each of my front springs. This lowered the front by approximately 1 inch.

Shock Technical Sidebar For those of you that are technically interested; I also found out some technical info on iX shocks: (after the fact)
Front shock 8641-1144 Sport; compression = 500 newtons, adjustable rebound = 600 - 1200 newtons monotube low pressure gas shock

Rear shock 26-1196 Sport; compression = 350 newtons, adjustable rebound = 1400 - 2800 newtons monotube high pressure gas shock. (shock recommended by Koni - US) 1400 newtons rebound overpowers the stock iX rear spring. Rear shock 80-2522 Sport, compression = 600 newtons, adjustable rebound = 900 - 1800 newtons twin tube hydraulic shock (used on Gordon Haines iX). Koni of Germany (http://koni.de/zbmw.htm) recommends the rear hydraulic shock. I had Bilstein shocks on my 320i and the rebound was way too severe. Never again.... I also contacted Bilstein regarding their compression/rebound for the iX Bilstein Front P36-0251, Compression: 52 newton meters / second, Rebound 146 newton meters / second Bilstein Rear B36-2028, Compression: 56 newton meters / second, Rebound 161 newton meters / second Koni uses newtons as a unit of measurement, Bilstein uses newton meters / second. I do not know how to convert them to a comparable unit but assuming that the compression equates to the same, you can compare the compression/rebound ratio. I would guess that the Bilstein's still have that same harsh rebound.

Compression/Rebound ratio

The Koni fronts 1:1.2, rears: 1:1.5
Bilstein Front: 1:2.81, rear: 1:2.88
Boge was also called for the spec on their Turbo Gas, but they do not release their specs.

Epilogue This is one sweet car, I absolutely enjoy this car. Future tasks are to: repaint the alloys with Wurth paint and put new emblems on the center caps. There is a little wear in the drivers side bolster, I intend to use a dye called Surflex to repair that. Thanks to all iX Registry members who have written their iX experiences. It is greatly appreciated.


Alan Afano (Middleton, CT) also provides this tip (applicable at least for an '88 iX radio):

Documentation sometimes gets lost between owners, and as a result a new owner may not know that the factory anti-theft radio has a hidden feature that allows the radio to scan. Scan finds the next station plays it for 5 seconds then finds the next, etc. This feature is not labeled on the radio. To activate this hidden feature, press the On/Off/Volume button. A 'SC' will show on the display. Press On/Off/Volume to stop or press the back seek button to find the previous station.

Gordon offers this tip for owners who have had corrosion or poor connections in the electrical connector located in the "A pillar" in front of the front doors:

As I recall, the dealer replaced the connector under warranty on our '89--of course, you could buy a new connector from the dealer. But I've had this connector apart at least once to clean the terminal pins and another time to install a factory alarm on my '88 iX. This process does not actually replace the pins on the end of the wires, but it allows you to get the connector apart so that you can clean them with a small wire brush or emery paper. (Make sure you disconnect the battery before doing this.)

With the door open, peel back the rubber cover. Remove the small 1/4"x1/2" flat white plastic "cover" by simply pulling it straight out. Pinch the white plastic tabs (one on top, one on the bottom) and pull out the male part of the connector from the door. You may need to insert small screwdrivers behind the tabs to hold them in the release position while you pull the connector with a needle nose pliers. (If you need to remove the female portion in the pillar, you'll need to remove the kick panel and speaker.)

To remove the pins from the connector, you'll need to make a tool to remove the individual wires from the connector. I used a piece of thin (1/8", 4mm) brass tube that I picked up at my local hobby shop to insert into the holes and over the pins in the connector -- I actually drilled out the inside of the tube with a 7/64" bit to make the tube walls thinner. You push this over the pins of the connector to pinch the pins and allow them to be removed. You may need another rod that fits inside of this tube to push the compressed pin out of the connector.

Of course, the BMW mechanics have a special tool to do this. Also, most stereo and alarm installation shops have a tool that serves this function--perhaps you can borrow one. Some coffee stir sticks work for this also, but they often are not stiff enough.


Frasier Flemming of Australia is working on an interesting conversion using an iX drivetrain--As he says, "Soon (6 months plus) to be the only known RHD BMW 4WD???!!!." I hope he will keep us advised of his progress. Here is his story to date:

G'day Gordon and iX Registry members. Thanks for the information it came in handy. I'll give you a little background:

After I sold my 78 X1/9, I wanted something a little different. I was thinking of getting a Subaru Liberty RS Turbo 4WD. The homolagation model for the one that won the World Rally Championship a couple of years ago. They are a nice car but a '92 model still costs $21,500+ (Aus) over here.

So I was having a look through a parts locator magazine checking out availability of Liberty parts and saw a BMW 4WD conversion kit going for $6000. I had no Idea BMW had a 4WD model, so I jumped at the opportunity and rang a BMW mechanic friend of mine who said there was a 325iX LHD only model that came out in the late 80's. I told him about the kit and he happened to have dealings with the company selling the kit. Anyway he managed to do a deal with the Company (Sydney based 3500 km away) and got hold of a low km M50 motor and shipping and all parts for $10,000. We told them we would pay only when we had all the parts and they have agreed to the deal.

It turns out the kit is a front half-cut without the motor but with gearbox, transfer, the front drive shafts, hubs and struts, the sump and oil pump. All that is missing is the rear diff, some new cv boot seals, air flow computer, oil sender etc. We have told them we aren't paying until we get the rest of the gear and they said they are sending the rest of it and it should arrive early next week!

So if all goes well I could be in for a HUGE project! My friend (who owns a small workshop called BM Auto Engineering) is keen to do the mechanical conversion - He has already done a 5 series to BMW V8 conversion that was a beast. All we need to do now is get hold of a decent 3 series coupe to put the gear in. The exhaust should be no problem because we are using RHD exhaust headers, however we may need to fabricate a set of extractors to avoid the steering. We were worried for a while that the transfer case would be a problem because we thought it was on the Right Hand side of the car. But it turns out it is on the Left hand side and should be no problem. I don't think we have the special ABS traction program you talk about just normal ABS? I'll have to look more into this.

I am unsure if the diff I have is a real iX diff or just a normal LSD diff. Be aware that the prices of cars here in Australia is inflated by 1.5 to 2 times what you pay in America for a second hand car of the same kind. I am always envious of the prices I see all the cars going for in America - but that could also be due in part to greater wear and tear of Winter in salt and snow. It's a bit more like California over here just far less crowded and better beaches! If you like rugged Outback Country, Western Australia is the place to see.




(303) 330-2600