I bought a BMW 8-Series for $700 last August with the intention of taking it ice racing in upstate New York. It was in need of some serious attention, but after a bit of work, I finally got it on the road. Getting it ready for this season hasn't been easy, but this past week, I made some serious progress. And none of that matters, because every race this season has been canceled thanks to a lack of ice.
So What Have You Done?
Last time I checked in with this 850i, the car was actually running well. Aside from a slight hesitation at half throttle and a tendency to shut off at idle, it seemed healthy. That didn't last long, however, as I discovered a significant coolant leak coming from the front of the engine after a short drive. Initially, I thought it was one of the radiator hoses. But it was much worse.
There's a third hose that connects from the overflow tank to the water pump, and somehow, the neck where the hose connects to the pump got clogged with solidified coolant and snapped off.
There was no easy way out of this one—I had to replace the whole water pump assembly. It was the most invasive repair yet I've done on the car, but thankfully it went smoothly. I got a new pump—along with a new thermostat—off eBay, and everything fit up with ease.
The job requires you remove all the hoses, both belts, tensioners, and the crank pulley. So I decided to replace the hoses and belts while everything was apart. All in, it took me about seven hours. The guide I followed online warned about some of the piping to the back of the motor unseating, but the system held up to a pressure test, so I assume I did everything right. We'll see...
So That's the Only Thing You Fixed?
No. I wanted to see if I could get rid of the hesitation and occasional stalling, so I replaced the spark plugs—all 12 of them. Plugs one through 11 were fairly easy to access. But man, plug number 12 was a bitch. It's way back behind a bunch of hoses and wiring that make it difficult to even see.
I had to unmount the battery jump point just to be able to fit my hand near the plug wire. It took me a solid 45 minutes to get the socket and ratchet attached without dropping anything. But I eventually got it done, and the result is a much smoother-operating 5.0-liter V-12.
So the Car Is Fine Now?
Yes, actually. It doesn't really smell inside anymore, either (though I can't say the same about the exhaust). It no longer stutters or hesitates on acceleration, and idles smoothly. The ABS, traction control, and airbag lights are still illuminated, but those don't affect how the car drives so I haven't really paid much attention to them.
The only important thing I have yet to fix is the wipers. They just don't work. The motor has likely gone bad, and from what I've seen online, it looks like a pretty big job to replace (it requires removing the windshield cowl and the HVAC blower motor, which is a pain). So I've just been putting it off. I bought a used motor from eBay, and it's currently sitting in the back seat.
So Now That the Ice Racing Season's Been Canceled, What Are Your Plans?
Fun fact: This is the first time since 1964 the Adirondack Motor Enthusiast Club hasn't held an ice race in upstate New York—over 50 years of uninterrupted frozen lake action, up until now. But now that the season has officially been called off, I have no real use for the 8-Series. I already have a big-engined BMW for daily-driving duties, and the radio in that car actually works.
So I might sell the 8-er, or just keep it tucked away until the next Radwood event. I'm not really sure yet. I want to put a few more miles on it before making a real decision.