VIN: WBAGG83471DN82869 Production Date: 2000-06-05 Exterior Color: COSMOSSCHWARZ METALLIC (303) Upholstery (Original): STANDARDLEDER/SCHWARZ (N6SW) Upholstery (Current): SONDERPOLSTERUNG (Z1XX) - Gray Montana Leather | Black Nappa Leather Piping Additional Comments: This post is divided into two parts; first, some pictures of the car in the last few years I've owned it, and then a build log/diary of sorts.
This E38 started its life as a 2001 740i Sport, Canadian-spec, and I purchased it in October 2014. It had around 205,000 km, and had mechanical (P0011 code) and cosmetic issues (broken stuff everywhere). The following are some pictures of the day I took it home:
It wasn’t *terrible*, but it definitely needed quite a bit of work. First order of business was taking care of the P0011. Luckily (actually, very very luckily), it ended up being a bad Camshaft Position Sensor. Cheap and easy fix.
After taking care of that pressing issue, I installed some parts out of my previous deceased E38; the black contrasting parts didn’t look good, so I ended up taking them out.
First order of business was to get a 3.5 mm audio jack installed. I looked at many options, most of them costing hundreds. I settled for a quick and dirty $20 amp.
By the way, if you have a diagnostic laptop, install an SSD in it. Best thing I ever did, cut the time to open DIS by over 5 minutes.
So, with that taken care of, it was time to start fixing stuff. First, I did the mirror cover, then the front bumper and rear bumper trims. Found a Cosmos Black 740i being parted out in Langley and picked up its front bumper. It wasn’t a perfect match, but it would do, especially since I had plans for modifying the bumper anyway.
Drove the car for a little while, and one day a huge cloud of smoke pops out from under the hood, and it dumps all of its coolant on the ground:
Oops. Looks like the water pump bearings went. Took a look under the hood and found a bunch of these all over the engine bay. Time for a new water pump, thermostat and misc hoses.
A few months afterwards, a very nice set of Birch Anthracite wood trim popped up on German eBay. It was poorly described, and I immediately bought it for a song. I figured I’d check out what all the hype on ‘Birke Anthrazit’ was about.
I must admit, it did look pretty good. Unfortunately, sourcing roof handles, B-Pillars, Rear Seat backs, and C-Pillar lights in Birch would either be impossible or extremely expensive. I could either try and live with it, or sell the set and go back to the standard wood, which was a matching set.
I did live with it for a while, but I ended up going back to Nutwood. The ones that came after Emba Componenti was bought out by Novem Car also have a redder tint to it, so it looks pretty nice.
Around the time I acquired the Birch trim, Dale from England posted up a very rare grey leather interior, which we assume is Nappa leather (but could not verify due to technical limitations with BMW’s VIN decoding system). It had contrasting piping in black, and would be a perfect fit for a Cosmos Black car.
Unfortunately, shipping seats and door panels from England to Canada would be absurdly, ridiculously expensive. Dale graciously removed the leather from the seats, and shipped them over to me:
It was like Christmas in June. However… I had sports seats, and this leather was for regular comfort seats. I could “downgrade” to comfort seats, but I figured this was the time to do an Active Comfort Seat retrofit into the car, and make this into a full upgrade instead.
A wrecker in Blaine, WA, happened to have a “pristine” set of front black seats, with the Active Comfort feature. I quickly hopped across the border and picked them up… Thankfully, I was going to remove the leather, because to them “pristine” included a cigarette hole in the leather. Sigh.
Now came the really hard part. Removing the leather from the seats, carefully so that nothing got damaged.
Then, replacing it even more carefully with the Individual leather. The entire process took a few weeks, mostly because I didn’t want to risk damaging what might be a 1 of 1 leather set.
As someone that was learning this on the fly, I can confidently say this was the most difficult and frustrating thing to get right. If I had to do it again, I would have probably paid the absurd shipping cost for , or hired a professional upholsterer to do it. Doing a top-end rebuild of the engine was much easier. Mad respect for upholsterers.
The result, however, was awesome, and I am quite proud of it. At the time the next couple of pictures were taken, I still had the mismatched Birch trim. The rear centre armrest was also mismatched, as I found out too late that the bracket for cars with rear heated seats was different than for the cars without. That would have to be sourced at a later date.
After putting the seats back in, it was time to wire up the active seats. Compared to the upholstery, it was a piece of cake. The 99-01 seats already come pre-wired for Active Seats, and the only thing you have to do is run a wire to the switching centre where all the buttons are, above the cupholder/obd port. I tried to make it as OEM as possible without having to remove the centre console.
Now it was time to add the AC Schnitzer bits I’d been dragging around for a few years. They’re replicas, obviously, because the real thing has been NLA for 10 years or so. There was one person on Bimmerforums that had a ‘real’ set, but it cost more than what I paid on my car, plus all the maintenance so far. No thanks.
So, I enlisted the help of a friend that’s good with fiberglass, and we started to work on getting the bits fitted to the car. Lots of cutting and fitting and sweat and blood later, we did it:
After that, it was time to install the Schnitzer tips, and modify the exhaust a little bit.
Next step was to make some minor modifications to the interior color composition, to bring it up to OEM individual standards. That involved changing the airbag inserts to gray, to match the seats. I also picked up a rare set of 750i ashtrays, because why not?
At the same time, I replaced the rear window regulator, which was causing the windows to fog up from humidity coming in.
With all of the minor issues fixed, it was time to tackle the problem of the mismatched kit.
However, all the good paint shops that I would feel comfortable sending the car to get painted were booked for the summer. I wasn’t about to drive it any longer looking like that, so I took matters into my own hands. Tip: Paint is difficult. Not as difficult as the interior reupholster, but it’s very tricky to get it just right without runs. It’s also very, very toxic, so be careful if you tackle this yourself.
I used cans (lower toxicity, easier application). The color match came out pretty reasonable.
The rear lip came out ok on the first try, but I had to redo the front lip. The result was much better after the second time!
After almost a year, the car was finally (somewhat) matching on the outside. which made the need of a heavy paint correction, however, even more obvious.
Like any car, however, it’s never done. One day I was randomly checking out the cadavers at Affordable Auto Parts in Vancouver, and I came across a 2002 745i with what looked to be a rear refrigerator! However, it did not appear to fit my car without modification, but depending on cost, it was worth a shot. The owner gave me a very good deal on it, and off I went to try and make it fit in a car it wasn’t meant to!
One important note for anyone who might want to attempt to retrofit an E65 rear fridge (coolbox) into the E38: The only one that will work is the one with the following part number, out of vehicles with no rear air conditioning. The reason for that is because the one with rear AC uses the AC to refrigerate the box, while this one uses an external compressor that can be wired to your car.
After a lot of wrangling, including making a slanted custom base for it, I was able to successfully position it in the ski pass-through hole. The fit is near perfect, and it only moves backwards slightly when closing the door. It stays firmly in place while the car is moving.
The most recent change was sourcing the appropriate bracket for the centre console, and installing the grey one that came all the way from the UK.
Went to the German Car Show in North Vancouver, and snapped these pictures:
Then, up to Porteau Cove for a few more, before sending the car in for a windshield & driveshaft replacement.
Replaced windshield & got a rebuilt driveshaft, with a brand new flex disc and CSB. Also did the transmission mounts, because why not?
Most importantly, though, contracted a friend of mine to use high-quality 3M vinyl to make AC Schnitzer stripes for the car. Looks excellent, and in my opinion, better than OEM!
In December 2016, I went to Dmitriy Gerasimov‘s shop, DUDMD Automotive, to do a full, and I mean *full* timing chain guide job. I replaced everything possible inside the engine, including the often overlooked VANOS gears, the upper camshaft tensioners, upper guides, all seals and gaskets, and so on and so forth. I also took the opportunity to replace the radiator, after having replaced most of the cooling system when the water pump went out.
Lots of oil on the outside from various leaks, but the engine was impeccable on the inside, easily one of the cleanest I’ve seen:
DUDMD did an excellent job, and I was back on the road in a little under two days. With that, pretty much everything that could leave me stranded had been addressed!
In early January 2017, I came across what looked to be a Dinan 7 with a full AC Schnitzer kit at a wrecking yard in Kitsap, WA. I did a double-take, but called them to confirm they had the car, and drove four hours to pick them up.
Unfortunately, one of their employees snapped the rear window spoiler when removing it. Sigh…
Can’t complain, though. With these parts, I’d have enough points for a badge (not that they’d give me one with used parts, but still… worth a shot.)
To complete the OEM Individual look, I also asked very nicely at a BMW dealership and picked this up for the shock tower. While the font is different, and the sticker is also technically incorrect (the color is not an Individual color for the year), it looks pretty good 🙂
In February 2016, I was getting ready to mount the real AC Schnitzer kit and install the Dinan parts, then get the car tuned, when suddenly an extremely rare Canadian-market 750iL Individual appeared:
Almost overnight, I brought in another E38 to the family; note the 740i in the background:
However, this presented a serious dilemma. Due to storage space and insurance considerations, keeping two E38s was out of the question. I had to make the difficult decision to part ways with the 740i.
I then started bringing the car almost all the way back to stock, to give an (almost) blank canvas to the next owner. I removed all of the replica AC Schnitzer accessories, fixed all of the paint imperfections, dents, and scratches, and am now in the process of tidying up the car for sale. The interior is almost finished, with a few trim pieces that need replacing.
I kept the Individual interior in the car, since the Active Comfort seats are pretty nice to have. Plus, it complements the car extremely well, and is the only one in North America.
Removing the AC Schnitzer kit was pretty rough; I ended up damaging my existing bumper. Sigh. Had to get replacements and have them painted to match. Oh well.
M-Parallel wheels are going back on shortly, and then it will be listed for sale.
This 740i has been a great car, and I hope the next owner enjoys it as much as I did!
Car is ready for the next owner, and it’s somewhat bittersweet. It’s definitely the best E38 I’ve owned so far. Here’s a few final pictures of how it sits: