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Go Back   Madabout Kitcars Forum > Mad Build Area > Marlin Sportster, Cabrio, Berlinetta and Roadster builds

Marlin Sportster, Cabrio, Berlinetta and Roadster builds Enthused or Confused about your vintage Marlin build? Ask away here or show off your build.

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  #1  
Old 7th January 2011, 18:26
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Default Donor advice needed

Hi All, First post on here.

I'm hoping to place my order for a sportster in the next month or so and I'm busy on the donor hunt at the moment. Following some advice on this forum and on builders Flickr pages I've decided to go for an early 90s M50 engined 325i.

After much hunting I've finally found a suitable car at 899 only 15 miles away. all the others available are well over 100 miles away so I'd waste a lot of money going to see them and pick them up. It's done over 150K but looks in excellent condition so I can make some cash back on the left over parts. The only problem is that it's an auto.

Can anyone advise if I'm going to run into problems swapping in a manual box from a different source. I know modern autos (not specifically BMWs) have their own ECU and I'm a bit worried that if I buy this car (tomorrow) I'll end up with a headache trying to retro fit a manual box with the loom and ECU expecting an auto box
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  #2  
Old 7th January 2011, 21:53
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Hi Morris,
and welcome to this forum.
Great to see yet another potential Sportster builder!!

I've not studied the e36 model in detail but I think the autobox ECU is separate to the engine ECU, so should be a fairly easy swap. Of course, you'll need to fit a different fly wheel to the engine and a clutch, but I guess you knew that. I have an M50 328i gearbox for sale that should fit.

Not wishing to put you off the one you've found but my advice is to look at a few donors before taking the plunge as there are is a lot of variability in condition. I know it seems to take time but finding a good donor can make a build a lot easier. 150k is probably fine for the engine but don't forget wheel bearings, etc will have also done that mileage, so everything will be.... well a bit shagged. The build will take you anything from 1 to 3 years, so a few weeks looking at donors is well invested.
Have you looked on autotrader?

good luck and keep us all posted on your progress,

...peter
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Old 7th January 2011, 23:44
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Hi Peter, thanks for the reply.

I've been doing a few searches this evening on the bimmer forums and it looks like the most complicated aspects are if you're trying to do it on a stock car i.e. fitting the extra peddle, master cylinders etc rather than electronic problems. For a kit all these things are part of the fun anyway. Someone mentioned you need to ground some pins on the old connectors to make the ECU think the gearbox is still there but apart from that it should be fine.

Yes, Auto trader and ebay are the main places I keep an eye on. I've had my eyes open for months now and M50 325s pre-96 seem rare. Most are the other side of the country and with the price of fuel and then a train ticket to pick it up once I've found the right car, I could spend hundreds so I figure if I can pick up a local buy at a few quid more than the ideal price but with a minor inconveniance of having to find a new gearbox it will save a lot of money and agro. Up till now I've limited my searches to 325 manuals and it just occured to me that opening up to autos might help my cause.

I've also been toying with buying a 5 series for the engine then a 318 for the other bits and bobs though that would mean a Q plate for certain (not sure why that's such a bad thing)

There are loads of donors with the M52 engine out there that I'd prefer and be prepared to pay a bit more cash for but I'm put off by the associated security system issues.

Is 150K a lot for a donor? I'd intended doing an engine rebuild anyway and lots of parts refurbishment. I think a BMW as a donor tends to push up the costs whatever you do as they hold their value. The E30 is also now hard to find under 2K as it's becoming a classic and people are starting to really look after them. As a fan of the more rare exclusive cars I couldn't bring myself to destroy something that is in good condition so it has to be a scruffy common place E36 I think.

I'll take a look at this car tomorrow and if I can knock a few quid off I may go for it (then be after you for a price on that 328 box). If it doesn't look good value I'll keep looking.

cheers
Ian

Last edited by morris; 7th January 2011 at 23:46..
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Old 8th January 2011, 08:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morris View Post
For a kit all these things are part of the fun anyway. Someone mentioned you need to ground some pins on the old connectors to make the ECU think the gearbox is still there but apart from that it should be fine.
One of the first things to do is get hold of the Bentley manual for the donor you intend to use. It's indispensable for these sorts of things, as it'll show you what the differences are between cars.

Quote:
Originally Posted by morris View Post
I've also been toying with buying a 5 series for the engine then a 318 for the other bits and bobs though that would mean a Q plate for certain (not sure why that's such a bad thing)
Not necessarily - as long as you can prove that 2 major components came from the 318, you'd get an age related plate base on the age of that donor. You could argue that the gearbox and the diff / rear running gear are you two components there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Directgov Website
if a new monocoque bodyshell or chassis from a specialist kit manufacturer is used (or an altered chassis or bodyshell from an existing vehicle) together with two major components from a donor vehicle, an age related mark will be assigned. The mark will be based on the age of the donor vehicle. An IVA, ESVA, SVA or MSVA test will be required to register the vehicle.
Where there are insufficient parts from a donor vehicle or in cases where the original registration mark is unknown, an IVA, ESVA, SVA or MSVA certificate will be required to register the vehicle and a 'Q' prefix registration number will be allocated.

major components from the original vehicle - ie suspension (front & back); steering assembly; axles (both); transmission or engine.
http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring...le/DG_10014246
http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg...mId=1083034396

You just have to prove where they came from on DVLA inspection day

Quote:
Originally Posted by morris View Post
Is 150K a lot for a donor? I'd intended doing an engine rebuild anyway and lots of parts refurbishment.
I don't think so. My 325 e30 donor claimed to have done 130K (taken with a pinch of salt, given the state of the rest of the car), but when I stripped it it seemed in pretty good nick internally.
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Old 8th January 2011, 10:02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morris View Post
I've had my eyes open for months now and M50 325s pre-96 seem rare. Most are the other side of the country and with the price of fuel and then a train ticket to pick it up once I've found the right car, I could spend hundreds so I figure if I can pick up a local buy at a few quid more than the ideal price but with a minor inconveniance of having to find a new gearbox it will save a lot of money and agro.
cheers
Ian
Ah yes, just looked at your profile and now see your in South Wales, so I guess that limits the market a bit. I'm down just west of London where there seems to be many more old BM's driving around.(mostly with huge sound system and a few extra lights ()

But it sounds like your doing your homework and know what your looking for so good luck this morning.

Oh, and Jason is so right about the 'Bentley' manual and we should have added that to the list of 'tools' on the other thread.
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Old 8th January 2011, 10:40
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I'll look at getting a Bentley manual. I have the Haynes but I usually find that the photos are not the best quality and don't help much. Just off to see the car now.
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Old 8th January 2011, 10:49
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Have you thought about buying a donor package from a specialist breakers. I recently bought an M20 325 conversion from a specialist BMW breaker which included a factory recon engine with documentation that had done 6k for 650 delivered.

They included everything I needed for that price, in fact they asked me to provide a list so they didn't miss anything!. For me that included engine, box, ecu, pedal box, loom, exhaust, prop etc. I didn't take the suspension as I didn't need it but they would have included it if i wanted it.

The company were Quarry Motors in Sheffield www.quarrymotors.co.uk they are really helpful and gave great service even providing additional documentation two months down the line to satisfy the whims of the DVLA.
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Old 8th January 2011, 13:29
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well, bought the car for 800. The engine sounded fine and there were no strange rumbles or whines from the bearings etc. The interior was in immaculate condition for the age and the body only had superficial marks and scratches with the exception of a bit of blistering round the wheel arches. The wheels were in suprising good nick to and there were two good tires on the front, rears at the limit.

I should be able to make a little cash back on the parts or sell on to a scrappy once I've retrieved what I need.

Picking it up tomorrow. It is more than I wanted to spend on a donor but I'm really chuffed to have finally made the second real step towards a kit car having been talking about it for 10 years or more (the first step was buying a house with a drive and garage in Oct).
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Old 8th January 2011, 18:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morris View Post
well, bought the car for 800. The engine sounded fine and there were no strange rumbles or whines from the bearings etc. The interior was in immaculate condition for the age and the body only had superficial marks and scratches with the exception of a bit of blistering round the wheel arches. The wheels were in suprising good nick to and there were two good tires on the front, rears at the limit.

I should be able to make a little cash back on the parts or sell on to a scrappy once I've retrieved what I need.

Picking it up tomorrow. It is more than I wanted to spend on a donor but I'm really chuffed to have finally made the second real step towards a kit car having been talking about it for 10 years or more (the first step was buying a house with a drive and garage in Oct).

Well done!

And welcome to this merry band of Marlin builders.

Now the fun starts with dismantling and getting your hands dirty. My first advice is to take lots of digital photo's during dismantling then you can refer back in months (or years in my case!) when you can't remember how something was before you started!

Send me a pm when you want to talk about the gearbox.

regards, Peter
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