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Discussion Starter #1
Since I never did a build thread I figure what the heck!

I'm going to go back a bit further than normal, however... It's all about the journey not the destination!

Back in 2006 my wife and I were 3 years into our marriage, no kids, good income, yadda, yadda. Typical young yuppies. One day she decided she wanted a new car. We stopped at a Carmax just to take some test drives. She wanted a Lexus. I wanted a BMW. We test drove about 6 cars then she saw an Audi TT roadster. She had to drive it.

So she took it out for a spin. Meanwhile I was wandering the showroom and saw a BMW M Roadster. At first I thought it was just a Z3 until I saw the M on the back. I thought there was no way I'd fit but I was burning up some time so I sat in it. Fit like a glove! Looked at the sticker and realized we could easily afford it.

About that time my came back. She said I needed to drive it. Sure, but I insisted that we drive the BMW afterwards.

The TT sucked. Slow, heavy, felt wrong.

She drove the BMW. I asked what she thought and she just said, "You need to drive it" completely dead-pan. She wasn't telling me anything.

As soon as I pulled out of the lot I got the biggest grin on my face and it stayed on until I had to hand the key back to the sales guy.

I got out of the car and told my wife we aren't leaving without it. She just said, "I know. They're already doing the paperwork."

So she got the BMW. For a week. Then she drove it in the rain and it scared her to death. 250hp (felt more like 350), short wheel base, wide tires, no traction control. She spun out.

So... she got her Lexus the next weekend and I "inherited" the BMW.



Did a 13.2 in the quarter and, at the end of the track, I could turn it at 100 without hitting the brakes. It handled like a Lotus (in fact I raced a LOT of them in it!) but accelerated like a muscle car. Back in 2006 a 13.2 was rocket-ship fast for a daily driven street car!

I loved that car. Raced it, went on wine tours with my wife, drove it daily, took trips in it (short ones. Small trunk), and genuinely felt alive behind that wheel. I imagine that's the same feeling a lot of you guys had with your Camaros as kids.

I loved that car for 3 years. Then we had our first kid. Suddenly a 2 seater wasn't "practical". :sad:

So 6 months later my wife managed to get me to trade it in for a Mini Countryman for her and I got her Lexus.

...but there was a promise. She promised me I could get a project car when the time was right.

I had big plans. I was going to start off cheap, restore, flip, go to the next one, do the same and eventually get a first gen Camaro.

Threw that right out the window when my daughter was 3.

I was driving home from daycare with my daughter when I saw this:



It was at a cheap car lot. I drove past it for about 2 weeks before I decided to stop in. Didn't know what it had in it until I got close and noticed the 250 emblem. Looked inside and it looked like a typical old car.



Popped the hood and this is what I saw:



So my wife and I went there on a Saturday when her parents were able to watch the kids and we test drove it.

The brakes sucked, the steering was imprecise to say the least, it took about 2 days to hit 60 mph, but we both loved it.

Talked the guy down from 15.5k to 13.5k and bought it a month later after figuring out financing through our credit union.
 

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George, good to hear your story and be thankful she shares your automotive appreciation.

I drove one of those Z3's a friend bought brand new back in the 90s and would not have remembered it being a 13 second car. They used to be all over the Boston area. Now you rarely see one. I wonder where they all went?

Edit: yours was an M. That explains it!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The car was pretty clean but had it's mechanical and electrical issues.

First things first!

My wife was 6 months pregnant with our second kid so I had to make this thing stop fast and protect her. Literally as soon as I got home I bought front power disc brakes and 3 point seat belts.



After that it was off to the races!

I didn't touch the engine because my plan was to pull that boat anchor and drop in a small block. That later changed but it was the plan at the time.

I didn't document much at the time but here's what was done:

First off was fixing electrical gremlins. The battery died on the way home. Dealership bought a new one for me. Then I was on my own.

3 weeks later the alternator stopped working. Replaced it with a fancy chrome GM 1 wire. My thought was that I could re-use that on the next motor.

The gas gauge didn't work so I got a new sending unit.

Replaced the bumpers (but kept old) because the old ones were rusted up.

Replaced the busted up grill.

Replaced the 1990's crappy stereo with a Custom Autosound unit and new speakers.

Replaced the steering wheel with a Forever Sharp wheel.

At that point this is where the interior was:



Ran it that way for the next summer. She was reliable but not a performer. Did OK at car shows. Fun to cruise in. Just don't hit the gas because you'll be disappointed.

At that point I started caring a bit more for the engine. I think it was that first summer that it started to grow on me some.

So I cleaned her up a bit.





Then winter came... and like all winters I had a big project planned.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
George, good to hear your story and be thankful she shares your automotive appreciation.

I drove one of those Z3's a friend bought brand new back in the 90s and would not have remembered it being a 13 second car. They used to be all over the Boston area. Now you rarely see one. I wonder where they all went?

Edit: yours was an M. That explains it!
The M made a HUGE difference in how they drove! Added about 100 hp and changed the suspension geometry dramatically.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
...So back to the story...

The first full winter's big project was the floor. I knew i had a small patch that needed love but nothing prepared me for what I found when I pulled the carpet!







So I got handy with a welder, got some POR, and a whole bunch of panels. Replaced all 4 foot wells. Probably should have just done the whole floor but I didn't want to remove the rear window to do it. Original glass and all that. Besides I know eventually she's going under the knife in a big way anyway. I'll do the whole floor then.

Also slapped down a layer of GTMat. It's like Dynamat but not made of uber-gold plated platinum. In other words: it was $100 to do the car and works really well.

So now that the big winter project was done and I had ruined 2 pairs of jeans with POR, it was time to enjoy the car a bit more.



Took her out for some ice cream that day.

I got a new set of wheels and tires and got rid of the trailer rims that were on it. We drove it quite a bit on the weekends. With the new floors and GT Mat the car was much quieter and cooler to drive. The kids love it and always ask to take it out.



(remember: he was in his mommy's belly when we drove the car home. He was there for the test drive even though his sister wasn't!)

Also managed to nab first in mild modified that summer at Camaro Nationals! First big win at a real car show for me! I was SHOCKED to get it!

With the new trophy hanging above my tool box in my garage I was really starting to wonder if I shouldn't just build up that little six a bit. I mean why not? I've only ever seen 2 other Camaro's with 6 bangers so she'd be unique, right?

So I got me a set o' headers. Get 'er done, that's righ!

First off in order to put headers on a 6 banger you have to heat the intake manifold. Why? Because it hangs off the engine and if you don't the gas will condense and pool in the runners making it run like crap in the cold.



(I'm cheating here: that's not the stock intake. Close enough, right?)

I made what's called a heat plate. It's basically just a plate with two fittings on it to run coolant through the bottom of the intake where there's a void. With a stock exhaust manifold there's exhaust air that runs through there to heat it up.

Here's a shot of the headers going in.



They're Langdon cast iron split headers.

And here's with the stock intake and carb:



That was right before going to the exhaust shop to get new tubes put under her. That trip to the shop was RIDICULOUSLY loud! I don't know how I made it without getting pulled over!

She now has 2.5" pipes to a Y and out the back with a single Flowmaster 44. Started with a 10 but that made me lose my hearing. 44 is too much too, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Oh! Forgot to mention when I pulled the carpet I found this!



Ever see one of those?


...anyway...

I ran with the 1 bbl through headers for a couple months before the wife would let me go the next step.



Offy intake with a Holley 390 CFM carb. Used carb so I had to rebuild it. Also at some point around that time I converted to HEI.

Now she was a movin'. She was also getting hot.



3 core radiator. I had to either ditch the mechanical fan or machine the spacer down because the fan hit the radiator. Went with an electrical fan.

More trips with the family:





(as this thread goes you'll see the kids grow)

Little things like new plug wires make a big difference:



Another trophy:



(I like the ones that are home-made. Way cooler than store bought)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Last spring my wife and I hit our 10 year anniversary. We planned out a long weekend trip to see her friend down in NC way down in Snead's Ferry right along the SC border.

I had some work to do if I was going to take the Camaro!

She wasn't running right, had a rattle in the exhaust, and just needed some preventative TLC. I had to suck it up a week before the trip and take it to a shop to help with the carb. Turns out I was missing the little rubber hose way down at the trans the made for one heck of a vacuum leak. Luckily I made some new friends at the shop (which is actually a machine shop) and now go there for stuff I know I can't do. Gunther's in Walkersville, MD if anyone is in the area. Great guys.

Here's a couple pics from the trip.



Skyline Drive in VA



(I'm a lucky man...)



Winery



Another shot on Skyline. Some day I'll frame this one.



Oh Deer!

Great trip. One for the memories!

Sometime around then I decided I wanted a radiator fill panel but I wanted to make it myself. Not because I'm cheap but just because then I can point to it and say I made it.



Nifty trick I saw on the TV show Gearz:







That's how I slit the vacuum hose to line the fill panel Came out nicely.



So we enjoyed the summer. I did little things here and there. Nothing major on the car. I had it to a point where I could just enjoy it.

...for a bit...





Lifters were making some noise so I got new ones. Pulled the old and posted them here. Someone with bigger brains than me noticed that the wear levels weren't even.

Bam! Wiped cam!



 

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Discussion Starter #9
Little thing I didn't know. The cam gears are composite.



So I got new aluminum.



Looks a little better than when I cracked it open:



Sometimes things just work out. Notice where the screws are in relation to the cam gear? The access holes were right over them when I pulled the cover off. I didn't do this intentionally. It just happened.

Damn I'm good!



We've all been here...







(notice the siamese exhaust ports)



Not exactly a quick and easy job...

She runs great now, however. Pulls nice and strong. I even broke the tires loose for the first time ever! I know that's easy for you V8 guys but that's a HUGE accomplishment for a 250 with a powerglide and really freakin' tall rear end gears.

She's in good shape now.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Upcoming this spring:

200r4, pulling the motor out, new forged pistons, rings, honing, bearings, seals and new carpet.

I'll drive it for the summer that way. Then next winter EFI and head work.

The following winter will be turbo charging it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Good story
Great innovation on hose splitting
Thanks. Wishing I had started a build thread when I bought it but I didn't know what I'd be doing with the car.

The hose splitting was something I pat myself on the back about whenever I look at the fill panel. Eventually, after the turbo charger, I'll make some more fill panels, smooth the fire wall, and make it into more of a show car under the hood. The goal is 350-400 hp at the crank. Nothing earth shattering but still enough to make me smile when I hit the gas. Shooting for a 12 second reliable street car. Should be respectable all around at that point.
 

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Upcoming this spring:

200r4, pulling the motor out, new forged pistons, rings, honing, bearings, seals and new carpet.

I'll drive it for the summer that way. Then next winter EFI and head work.

The following winter will be turbo charging it.
Great car and story!

But you do how hard we're going to bust your balls when you finally drop an LS in it, right?;)
 

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Hit it with Nitrous:D
 

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I surprised Sherri with an MRoadster a few years ago for Christmas. The M is nothing like driving a standard Z3. Best balanced handling car I have ever driven. Never had one electrical or mechanical issue with it.

I sold it after she got the TT V12 Mercedes Coupe (250 hp vs 543 hp). She cried when they came to pick up the roadster. She said it was the first car anyone got special just for her. Trust me, she is a special lady. Now she is wanting another one, but this one has to be late 2001 or 2002 model with the S54 engine. 80 more horses in the same little bitty car. Mid 12's with a good driver. The search is on.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I surprised Sherri with an MRoadster a few years ago for Christmas. The M is nothing like driving a standard Z3. Best balanced handling car I have ever driven. Never had one electrical or mechanical issue with it.

I sold it after she got the TT V12 Mercedes Coupe (250 hp vs 543 hp). She cried when they came to pick up the roadster. She said it was the first car anyone got special just for her. Trust me, she is a special lady. Now she is wanting another one, but this one has to be late 2001 or 2002 model with the S54 engine. 80 more horses in the same little bitty car. Mid 12's with a good driver. The search is on.
Just get an S52 M Roadster, Shark tune, M50 manifold and exhaust and you'll be around 290 hp. Still 40hp low but the key is the dyno curves are nearly identical until you hit 6,000 rpms. That's where the S54 overtakes the S52.

How often do you go over 6,000 RPM's?

I raced my buddy in his S54 Coupe before I sold the Roadster and they really weren't all that far apart.


...or just get a procharger kit and blow away the S54. About the same money either way you go.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Great car and story!

But you do how hard we're going to bust your balls when you finally drop an LS in it, right?;)
Of course you would buy that won't happen until I completely blow the 250 apart....

George, I was following your engine thread. Really enjoying your build.
Thanks! It's a fun little engine to tinker with.
 
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