Time to check in on our long lost Alpine White project coupe to see how things are coming along. In Part 1 we covered the back and forth of the buying process of this coupe. Now that I've had my hands on the car for several months, it's time to dive into the mechanical needs as well as what I've tackled with the interior.
It's no mystery that this M coupe was in need of some serious mechanical love. It wouldn't start, was sitting precariously low to the ground, and it was painfully obvious that many things had been tinkered with and not quite completed by the previous owner. After picking up the coupe by trailer, I dropped it off at Clownshoe Motorsports in Dallas. It was a solid 4 hour drive immediately after completing the purchase, so I essentially dropped it with Andy at Clownshoe and gave him a quick synopsis.
"Get it running and safe enough to drive from Dallas to Houston."
A few weeks went by and I checked in with Andy, who had been working on the coupe off and on since I dropped it off. It had received a new fuel pump, which the previous owner had recommended. Sure enough, after some fresh gasoline, the coupe fired up! As suspected, the original suspension was completely toast. Clownshoe Motorsports is the only location in the country that sells GAZ suspension, and they make a set up that's great for M coupes. He almost talked me into buying a new set…but shipping times were lengthy and I wanted to get the coupe back at home ASAP. He offered his used set from his coupe with 30k miles at a discount, which I gladly accepted and approved for install.
Some of the normal wear and tear items were also addressed while in the shop. New Zimmerman rotors and Hawk pads on all four corners. New fluids throughout. New belts and tensioners. It was an expensive proposition getting all of this work done so soon after getting the car, but it would be necessary to get it up and running (and safe) so it was a no-brainer.
I had a work trip planned in Dallas in early June 2018, so I opted to fly one way up there and Uber from the airport to my customer meetings, then Uber from there over to Clownshoe to pick up the coupe.
The transformation from a sitting heap in a warehouse to a running, driving Clownshoe was amazing!
I'd removed the Forgeline/Roadstar combo and provided an older set of Chrome Shadow roadstars with…decent…tires to aid in the drive back to Houston. Tires/wheels would need to be addressed down the road, for sure.
This was the first opportunity I had to get a look at the car from underneath. Although the undercarriage wasn't clean by any means, I got a close look at the dual-ear differential mount and rear trunk floor reinforcement work that had been done in 2008. Everything looked to be holding up nicely there.
The massive SuperSprint Magnum exhaust could use a nice polish, but otherwise was in decent condition as well. New GAZ coilover suspension components gave the car a really planted feel, which is significantly nicer than the previous blown suspension.
With the coupe finally drivable, I hit the road from Dallas to Houston. The interior was still an absolute mess, and sitting inside the coupe for over 3 hours really motivated me to start sorting it as soon as possible. The missing rear hatch trim pieces let in a lot of road noise, and the three aftermarket gauges weren't working so I couldn't tell how hot the engine was getting…so I tried to take it easy and simply make it home.
Luckily the only stop I had to make was to fill up with gas and there were no other issues that cropped up. No check engine lights! I drove it straight to my storage unit garage, parked it and started to thoroughly look around the whole car. My apologies to all the Dark Beige Oregon fans out there…but this interior sucks. I'm not sure what BMW was thinking offering this beige color on the M coupes while the Z3's were optioned with beautiful Walnut leather interior. I considered keeping the beige interior to save on cost, but at the end of the day, I couldn't justify it and decided the beige needed to go and I'd replace it will a full Black Nappa interior.
I had amassed a collection of some interior parts when I'd parted out a Titanium Silver over Black Nappa M coupe, so I wouldn't have to buy too many pieces. Rear hatch trim is relatively difficult to find, but I had most of it…even the hard to find roller blind. I had a perfect black passenger seat, and a naked driver seat that still needed a leather skin. More on that later.
So, the fun (and easy) part of removing the interior began! I started in the rear hatch area since most of the panels were missing or loose anyway.
The one bright spot in the rear hatch was the rear subframe reinforcement, which was nicely repainted Alpine White. The work was done in 2009 by a shop in Florida (not the infamous Randy Forbes, unfortunately) and it looked to be holding up quite well after all these years. After removing as much of the carpet and plastic that I could, I hit every crevice with the ShopVac to see what I was working with. I took out the black plastic tool tray and the battery cover. The battery tray was full of old receipts and loose change that had accumulated over the years. Maybe those count toward service records?
There were also no noticeable sound insulation pieces anywhere, which would be great for a track car but might be hard to live with as a daily driver. While I was in the back of the coupe I noticed the headliner was sagging around the rear speaker grills, so that's something I'd have to address as well. I had a like-new headliner in my storage unit, but had always wanted to see what an alcantara headliner would look like.
Moving to the front of the car is when things got a little more complicated. I started by bringing the car into a local upholstery shop to remove the beige carpet and install new black carpet. I had purchased a full M roadster carpet on eBay with the thought that the front carpets would be 100% identical. I removed the passenger seat to limit their labor and brought it in. They opted to cover the rear beige carpet with their black carpet to also save on labor time, and it turned out pretty well!
Once I got the coupe back to the storage unit, I removed the airbag and the steering wheel. Getting that out of the way provides much more real estate for working with the center console. Disconnecting everything behind the center console wasn't as difficult as I originally anticipated because most of it wasn't hooked up to begin with. The beige shifter surround trim was already cracked, so I didn't need to be super carful prying the console out of the car… which is a chore in such cramped quarters. Center console came out pretty easily.
Then the mother of all interior pieces: the dashboard. I followed each step of the Bentley manual to the 'T' and didn't really have any major issues. The instrument cluster came out with ease, as did the sagging glove box. I removed the passenger seat so I could lay down in the footwell with my head under the glove box and hang my feet up over the amp. Try picturing that! I got under there to remove the passenger airbag and any screws holding the dash in place. I even managed to remove the three (3) screws closest to the windshield without breaking the beige trim covers, which is a minor miracle. I did this by using the edge of a razor blade to pry up one edge, which allowed it to pop out without much force.
With the center console removed and the myriad of screws removed from the dash, I slowly wiggled the beige dash panel back from the windshield and out the passenger door. Voila! That was the last of the beige interior and I was left with a blank canvas with which to work
I worked my way backwards with black interior pieces, starting with the replacement black dash.
It took a little more patience to wiggle the new dash in place while getting all the mounting tabs to line up 100%. Last minute I remembered to replace the VIN tag sticker on the driver side of the dash before installing it. Thank goodness, that would have been a pain to remove all over again.
The black center console followed, and I was much more careful with this one since the shifter surround trim was in perfect shape and I didn't want one mishap to scratch or snap any expensive plastic. I had purchased some replacement VDO gauges on eBay to replace the aftermarket gauges that were previously installed. Before I screwed down the center console I got the gauges and buttons all wired up. It was really starting to come together and look like a proper M coupe again!
The rear oddments stowage box that sits behind and between the seats was a part I'd had for some time from our friend Rick, but the two side trim panels turned out to be quite difficult to source. I was close to buying them new from BMW for almost $250 each, but I put out one final feeler on Facebook to see if anyone had them laying around. The community came through, and I was able to source a pair for $50, plus an antenna which I was also needing for this car. Score!
With the rear black carpet having been laid on top of the original beige carpet, instead of simply replacing it, fitment was tighter than usual. The subwoofer was screwed down as far as possible, but was still sticking up about 0.25" higher than before…and it took some effort to get the overlaying trim pieces to mount properly. Once they were in, though, things were really starting to look great. The rear hatch carpet pieces fit in as expected, and I even had three of the black spring-loaded tie down points laying around to complete the install.
Ignore the Kyalami Orange seat, no big surprises with that interior until my next project. That seat just happened to serve as my driver seat for a short time while I waited for the upholstery shop to swap the black leather skin from some newly acquired S54 seats over to the S52-specific seat frame.
Turns out full interior swaps are more time and labor intensive than I originally imagined, but I feel like the final results will be well worth it. Looking at the limited Alpine White coupes on the market currently (December 2018) there are zero with black interior and several with Dark Beige Oregon. I looked up the production numbers and I was surprised to learn than exactly the same number as Alpine White over Beige and Alpine White over Black were produced: 36.
I'm usually a stickler for originality in my clownshoes, but this is one modification I'm perfectly fine with.
The seats turned out great from the upholstery shop. Now that the interior was nearly complete (I still need to install the black glove box…waiting on the glove box fix kit to arrive), I decided to address the exterior condition of the car.
As I mentioned in the introduction article back in June, nearly every panel on the coupe had peeling clear coat. And the only major panel without peeling, the hood, had numerous deep rock chips. After all of the mechanical work and some expensive part acquisitions, I was between a rock and a hard place with the remainder of my budget on this car so I decided to go with a more budget friendly option at America's Bodyshop: Maaco!
I might have gone a different direction if this were a sub-50k mile example with 1 owner destined for garage queen status, but the reality is this is a 130k mile, modified and driven M coupe that simply needs to be a 10 foot car to be fully appreciated by myself and/or it's next owner. I went with their top-end package with Alpine White III paint and a deep clear coat that allows for professional paint correction if so desired. The final results were better than expected, with only a couple areas of overspray on some trim that I'll be removing throughout the final detailing process.
There's a few final pieces to take care of on this coupe before it will be ready for it's next owner, but it's to the point that I wanted to provide this lengthy update and prepare any potentially interested buyers that it'll be hitting the market soon…so if you might be interested feel free to get in touch directly. Thanks for reading!