As we wrote about a few weeks ago, a $700 850i with a six-speed would be hard for many of us to turn down, even with the realities of poor condition and neglected repairs in mind. As his new project just begins to fully reveal the extent of needs though, Brian Silvestro of Road & Track isn’t giving up, and is instead forging ahead with his sub-$1,000, salvage title 1992 850i.
After getting the car started with the aid of some new batteries, fresh fuel pumps, and removal of varnished gasoline, Silvestro took what was once the range-topping flagship of the BMW brand for its maiden drive through the repair shop parking lot. It was during this first journey that more problems expectedly revealed themselves, and in the effort to start sorting them out, things got even worse.
During the first oil change, a task that some might argue should have been carried out prior to the first starting attempt, Silvestro attempted to reuse the drain plug he had just removed, a cardinal sin in the BMW DIY community. Half of the plug broke off, and had to be fished out of the sump once it had been pressed through the drain port. Re-tapping the drain hole and starting over with a fresh plug bolt took care of the issue, but it still sounds like the sort of nightmare many of us have been diligent in trying to avoid in our own garages.
When it came time to replace the brakes, which were seized together, it reportedly took quite a bit of torque and some brute force to break everything free. Once the hardware was in, it was time to bleed the brake and clutch fluid, which once again proved difficult thanks to stuck bleed valves and a system that was full of air (and likely moisture). After some time though, Silvestro says the brake pedal started feeling normal as the fluid leaving the valve began to run clear. A similar set of circumstances played out with the clutch, which found a more normal engagement position with fresh fluid running through the lines.
A decent laundry list remains, but without any intervention, the check engine light within the instrument cluster vanished, and the fuel level gauge began to display an actual reading once again. If those two happens aren’t encouraging in the land of sub-$1,000 projects, we don’t know what is. We wish Brian Silvestro the best of luck with his 850i, which he plans to use for ice racing, and look forward to tracking more of his progress.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]