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Dismantling the 323i

On these pages I will describe my dismantling the 323i to pieces. Unlike my 320/6, the idea here is to redo absolutely everything. The engine and gearbox are to be removed, as well as the interior and the windows, and strip the car as much as possible to its bare shell. The shell will be repaired where neccessary and then repainted. The motor will be completely rebuilt, and the interior reupholstered. However, before that, everything needs to be taken apart.

The 323i engine
Even though the 323i has a relatively simple engine with few electronics around it, it is always a good idea to first take pictures of what you're about to break up before you start working on it, because they will probably come in handy later when you need to solve problems like "where exactly did that hose go?" So, I have pictures of virtually every hose and every cable. Here's are views of the engine bay and the distributors. This picture clearly shows the fuel lines from the distributor to the warm up regulator and back.

Hood, bumper and wings
Removing the hood was a good start. With the hood out of the way it's easier to access most things in and around the engine bay. The front grilles are easily removed, after which I proceeded to remove the passenger-side front wing to see what damage there was to the shell. I must note that the car had been hit in the front and came with some damage on the right-hand corner when I bought it. However, I felt pretty sure it wasn't too bad, and I turned out to be right. The damage was basically taken by the hood, the wing, the bumper and the spoiler. The shell itself will need some straightening at the top, but nothing major. I already have new body parts to replace the damaged ones, too.
The E21 bumpers can be a pain to remove if their side fixture bolts are rusted. They have a very strange fastening mechanism, it's a square nut held in place in a metal frame. If the nut and frame are rusted, they will turn over and then the only way to remove the bumper is to saw through the bolt. Fortunately for me, the bumper was in relatively good shape and came off without problems.
The arcades inside the wheelwell typically rust away on E21s, and sure enough it was the case with this car as well. There was considerable rust in the wheelwells, but it still wasn't as bad as my 320/6. Looks like I'm in for another wheelwell restoration though.

Spoilers
Next, I removed the spoilers. This car has two - the regular one, and on top of that there was a BBS sport spoiler. I'm one of the few E21 owners who can claim their BBS spoiler is original and on the car when it was sold by BMW. The BBS was pretty easy to remove - it was just screwed onto the regular spoiler with a handful of tiny screws. After that, removing the rest was easy.


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