I’m analyzing a 1987 535i to see what parts it has in common with an E30. So far, it’s slim pickin’s. The ventilation control buttons, the glovebox hanger, the door handle surround … hardly reason for celebration.
The sub-frame structure of the 535i is quite different too. Dropping it below the body isn’t as fun as in the case of the E30. At least, they have one thing in common: the steering is a pain to disentangle.
The windshield on the 535i was already cracked, so I tried to save the windshield rubber. No such luck; someone had glued it to the body, and it tore when I pulled it loose.
The front doors on the 535i are an interesting complexity. The wires to the doors are terminated in plugs that are hidden below the kick panels. Remove the speakers in the kick panels and then pull the panels loose, and yank the wires upwards. The plugs should become visible. Most of these need to be squeezed so as to be loosened. Then, feed the wire through the hole in the door jamb.
The door stay has a pin with a clip holding it in place, at the bottom. Slip the clip free with a flat-bladed screwdriver, then hammer the pin upwards to free it.
The door is bolted to hinges. Hitting the hinge pins free is tedious and the door shape gets in the way. The better way is to unbolt the door from the hinges, but first remove the door trim. To do this, use a large Philips screwdriver to remove the door handle screws. Try to hold it fairly horizontal or it will slip. Then, turn the door handle through 90 degrees and remove it. The door panel then snaps loose if you pry it off with a flat-bladed screwdriver. This exposes the bottom hinge bolts. These and the top bolts come loose with a 13 mm socket. I removed all but the top bolt and then I was ready to support the weight of the door as I removed the last bolt. It’s been a while since I removed an E30 door but I suspect the process can hardly be more complex. I do recall that the E30 door wires also have plugs.
The HVAC controls on the 535i involve many cables and wires; careful unplugging is the key. The radio is in the way too; pull the antenna wire out carefully and the rest of the wiring mostly involves plugs.
Removing the central console on the 535i involves a blend of Philips screws and small-sized bolts (10 mm or less). On the E30, probably a similar process.
In South Africa, BMW dropped the M30 engine (as in the 535i) into an E30. It was a tight fit, so much so that there wasn’t room for both an air conditioning compressor and power steering, so customers had to choose one or the other. The result, however, was a very fast car.