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Exterior Restoration (Front/Rear Panels, Paint, Trim, Lighting, Etc)

Discussion in 'E30 (1984-1993)' started by rjcouturier, Mar 5, 2011.

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    Hello All.

    I just found an '87 325iS 5-speed that is in good mechanical condition. It does needs work on the exterior. Since I'm putting money into it, I thought I'd pay a little premium to make it a nice project. A few questions for the E30 experts (I'm an E39 guy).

    1. I like the front/rear bumper cover on the 1989-1991 models. What do I need to obtain to make this aesthetic upgrade on my '87?

    2. I'd like to go with a metallic gray paint, similar to the 3-Series under production. Any opinions or experience with the painting?

    3. Any older chrome trim pieces that should be replaced for more attractive detailing?

    4. I'd like to update the headlights. Functionality is more important than aesthetics here. Any opinions or experience with lighting upgrades?

    Thanks much for your input.
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    On my '90 325is I replaced the sealed beam headlights (which your '87 should have, not the horrible ellipsoids from '88-'89) with Hella H1 and H4. The difference was incredible and the price was more than worth it. The only other headlights I would recommend are the Cibies, but those are pretty hard to find and are far more expensive than the Hellas (or at least they were back when I owned my E30).
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    John in VA

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    1. Bumper info:

    2. Have your painter use the paint system he's most comfortable with, and use the color you like. E30s came in a nice charcoal gray - Dephin-metallic.

    3. Paint your tired, oxidized trim satin black.

    4. As mentioned, H4 low beams and H1 highs are a great improvement.
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    Brian A

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    +1 regarding the H1/H4 conversion. I got me a set 10 years ago and still love them.

    It is interesting that sellers are still obligated to say "off-road use only" for the H1/H4s. Subjectively, they still don't seem as bright as the stock Elipsoid/LED/Lasers you see on some new cars. Lighting technology and specs have changed, but it seems what is legal on old cars has not.

    A tip is that all E30s (US and European) had the same headlight wiring harness and can handle 15 amp European lighting (ie H1/H4s). When installing the Hellas in a US spec car, you have to swap out the 7.5 amp fuses for 15 amp fuses which can seem a little scary. The wires can handle the extra current.
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    What hasn't changed is that the US still does not allow non-sealed beam lamps. All the current crop of lamps that take separate bulbs also have a sealing o-ring on the bulb that satisfies the regulation. A standard H4 does not.

    As for getting a set of great Cibies, just track down Daniel Stern and ask him for some. They won't be cheap, but they'll be good.
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    Are Cibies better than Hellas? If so what is the difference? I have Hellas H4/H1s on all my e30s. You can even get them with the city light as an H4!!! :D I even have Hella H4s w/ a city light on my 1990 Dodge Ram Pickup! :D (And yes they are rectangle, which is why I love Hella!)
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    Daniel will tell you the Cibies are better and he can tell you why. I like Hellas well enough that that's what I run, in spite of being in awe of my friend Daniel's irrefutable expertise. :D

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