nicksta43 Dork
3/23/13 4:38 p.m.

OK I've decided to go in a whole new direction with the E21. My original plan was to build it into a nice little weekend hot rod and autocrosser. And find something else that I would build into a rallycross car. Both were to be cheap cars built on a budget and if I tore one up playing with it I would still have a backup to get back and forth to work in.

After the first autocross of the year and really evaluating what I want I realized that the E21 will never truly be competitive in any class. And I'm past the point of just having fun so starting out with a car that would need so much work and still be at a disadvantage would not be the way to go.

Then it kind of just hit me one day that the E21 would make a decent little rallycross machine. It's small, light, rwd, has an independent suspension and appears to have a decent amount of wheel travel. All of which where most of the requirements I was looking for in a rallycross car. So the search for an autocross car begins and the E21 gets to get dirty.

First order of business is to establish what my budget will be. Well it's not much but I'm working with about $75 biweekly. Not counting what I may be able to turn up with side jobs and whatnot. That's for all thing related to the car. Like parts and the cost of entry into events. I'm going to run the car in MR because I don't want to put the interior back into it.

With that out of the way the first thing I needed to do was find another set of stock springs to get it back up off the ground. I was able to locate a set for $50 but shipping was $20. I didn't get any pictures of it but with all the interior out and the stock springs on it before it was sitting about 1" higher than stock. I got the springs yesterday but am waiting to install them because I need to order some new bumpstops and shockboots to put on while I'm in there.

Sitting too low.

Stock springs should get me back to this height and maybe even a little more.

The next thing I did was find a set of the stock turbine wheels locally for $40. And now I have a decision to make. There is actually a decent supply of 13" winter tires. The problem is they have a very narrow tread width of only 175mm. The soil we have here is good old southern red clay. I'm thinking in the dry it'll be very hardpack and I would do better with more tread width. And in the wet it'll be very slippery clay and again I'll need more tread width. The other option I could go with is get a wider all season tire and a tire groover to make my own. Of course if I can find a set of E30 bottlecaps for a decent price, it'll open up a whole bunch more choices in 14". Hmm, decisions, decisions.

As of now the total of money spent is $110 and there is $35 left in the budget. Next thing I need to do is renew my SCCA membership, so that'll be another $80. The next event is on the 30'th and I'm fairly certain I'll not be ready by then.

I have lots planned for this car but it'll be a slow build do to the limited budget.

Anyway if you have any tips, critiques or ideas please post up.

nicksta43 Dork
3/23/13 9:23 p.m.

Well throw another $125 in the budget from birthday money. New total is $155.

I need to make a decision on what I should do with the paintwork. The original plan was to finish the bodywork and paint it black. Now I'm not sure if that's the way I should go or keep it in plastidip.

Plastidip would be easy to change designs and fix damage and stuff. But it's also more likely to get damaged as well.

So cheap paint job or plastidip?

crankwalk Reader
3/24/13 1:53 p.m.

Keep it plastidip, if you're going to rally it I would use the budget for things that matter like tires, entry fees, safety equipment, and fuel.

nicksta43 Dork
3/24/13 2:27 p.m.

Got bored earlier and went ahead and cleaned up the new wheels and springs. Only three wheels have tires on them. There is a used tire shop near work, I'll drop them off to remove the tires next week.

To me these wheels look like miniature versions of these rally wheels. So I plan on painting them white to complete the look.

irish44j UltraDork
3/24/13 6:37 p.m.

Excellent, smithers.....

I'm not sure how much crossover the e21 has in parts with e30s, but I'm sure there's some. In any case, feel free to join up our rallycross group (it's not just e30s, though mostly is), and post up parts requests and stuff....A lot of the e30 guys have other stuff around for old bmws as well.

And we want some dirty e21 photos :)

yamaha UltraDork
3/25/13 1:57 a.m.

Holy hell that top wheel looks like you drove 60 over a quick succession of speed bumps.

phenryiv1 New Reader
3/26/13 12:18 p.m.

I strongly approve.

fidelity101 HalfDork
3/26/13 12:20 p.m.

Those springs look like they are... new!

nice job!

nicksta43 Dork
4/5/13 10:48 p.m.

Huge progress today! Not actually car related but a huge turning point in the project none the less.

I was having a casual conversation with the boss today when he asked how the rallycross build was going. I laid out the plans and kinda went over the budget with him. I mentioned how it would be easier to get the project going if it wasn't also my daily driver. I talked about how while I could afford to get another car to drive daily, I wouldn't be able to afford the parts the BMW needs and a car payment. He mentioned that one of the perks of the promotion I'm getting soon is a company vehicle. He said he'd go ahead and give me the company vehicle now and pay for my gas if I used the gas savings on the BMW. In short I'm blown away. I LOVE having a gearhead for a boss.

What all this means is from this point forward the BMW no longer needs to be operational come Monday morning. This opens up a huge amount of options and adds about thirty more bucks a week into the budget to get them done.

Speeking of the budget, it's currently sitting at $203.80 With hopefully a little more coming. I am going to have to spend a little this weekend however.

irish44j UltraDork
4/5/13 11:00 p.m.

wow, that's a nice deal.

I wish my boss would go for that, but we're too busy trying to fund F-35 fighters and aircraft carriers. No money left for us little people

btw, for OEM parts check out (one of my sponsors). Their website is still working out some bugs, but the prices almost always beat Pelican or Blunt for OEM BMW stuff (IMBM only does OEM). If you mention I referenced you, Danny might give you an even better deal, who knows.

email him direct at if you want a quote. Can't hurt to check :)

nicksta43 Dork
4/7/13 9:00 a.m.

Went and spent a bunch of money yesterday. Ordered a set of bump stops and boots for the front. As soon as those get here I'll be able to put the springs in.

Got a couple cans of white paint and I think it pulls of the "rally" look I was going for;

The big budget hit was something not really for the car. I'm sure I should have spent the money on car stuff but I just can't resist new tools sometimes. Dropped one hundred bucks on a manual tire changer from Northern Tools. It broke the bead very easily and I was able to get the tire started as you can see in the picture without it being bolted down. I think I'm going to mount it to a pallet, That way it can be moved around.

New amount in budget is $70.

Winston HalfDork
4/7/13 10:37 a.m.

Those wheels look really good in white. +5 rally style points.

nicksta43 Dork
4/7/13 7:39 p.m.

Ran to the shop this morning and picked up a pallet and bolted the tire changer down to it. I really didn't have the room inside for it so it's sitting outside. I've got to say it works better than I thought it would. I timed how long it took me to get the last two tires off. from breaking the bead to having the tire completely off took exactly 2 minutes 51 seconds, on both tires. And it didn't beat up the aluminum rims too bad either.

irish44j UltraDork
4/7/13 7:54 p.m.

I like the white.....I had to do a double-take as I thought they were Braid wheels :)

nicksta43 Dork
4/14/13 1:36 p.m.

Got the new front bumpstops and boots the other day so I went ahead and installed the springs. Actually had the most difficult time with stripping threads, stuck cotter pins and broken bolts. Got it done though. Still have to figure something out for the rear bumpstops but I can have those out in about a half hour and I don't need a spring compressor to get them apart.



Before 4 1/2" clearance to the pan.

After around 8 1/2" clearance, although that was before cycling the suspension.

Looks rally ready to me!

Still have a couple things I would like to do before I take it to an event but it's getting there.

Billy_Bottle_Caps HalfDork
4/14/13 5:57 p.m.

Like it man

nicksta43 Dork
4/14/13 6:44 p.m.

In reply to Billy_Bottle_Caps:


While I had the front end apart I took a good look at everything to make sure it was in good shape. Tie rods, ball joints and strut mounts all are in good shape. With the exception of the steering rack mounts which are new urethane all of the bushings are aged and should be replaced. Although I have seen 'em in worse shape on a ten year old car. I checked and re packed the wheels bearings as well. Still amazes me how someone could take a low mileage original car and park it in a field

At this point all the maintenance is caught up and there are really no "needs" at the moment. I'm still a little nervous about running without any undercarriage protection so building a skidplate will be my next project. And I need it to be as cheap as possible because the next two big purchases on my list are very$$$.

Tires are a little over two hundred. Then I'm looking at 526 for urethane bushings or 528 for Bilsteins...

Our Preferred Partners