New Brake Calipers Arrived Just in Time For My E30’s First Track Day

·3 min read
Photo credit: Brian Silvestro
Photo credit: Brian Silvestro

Earlier this year I picked up a 1991 BMW 318i to use as my track and autocross beater. For a 31-year-old car from the Northeast, it was in pretty good shape when I bought it. I’ve addressed a few small issues in the past few months, but the biggest problem is one I caused myself. Now, thanks to new calipers, I finally have the confidence to take this car to the track for the first time.

If you’ve been following this project closely, you’ll know how badly I screwed up a few weeks back. While attempting to bleed the brake fluid from the front calipers, I snapped not one, but both bleeder screws, effectively junking them. New OEM-quality replacements are tough to source, with being the only site I could find with both left and right calipers in stock.

Photo credit: Brian Silvestro
Photo credit: Brian Silvestro

Installing the new calipers was simple, as I just had the old ones off not too long ago to install fresh pads and rotors. The only point of potential drama was the brake line, as it was a bit rusty. Thankfully both cracked loose with no issue, allowing the new calipers to go on with ease. After a quick bleed they were good to go.

The car stops roughly as well as it did before—remember, the problem wasn’t with the calipers themselves but with the snapped bleed screws. In hindsight, I wish I’d ordered some stainless steel brake lines to install alongside them, as the pedal still feels squishier than I'd like. Alas, that’ll have to wait until after the track day.

What Else Did You Fix?

Last time I wrote about this car, I talked about the cooling system. Thanks to a new fan clutch and shroud the car no longer overheats in traffic, but to be sure it stays cool during this upcoming track day I wanted to replace the thermostat. So I installed a unit from FCP Euro with a lower operating temperature (75 degrees C vs. 88 degrees C) along with a new gasket for the housing, since the current one was flaking to bits.

Now the car stays below the halfway mark on the coolant temp gauge no matter what I’m doing. Whether I’m blasting through my favorite back road or sitting in standstill summer traffic, it’s nice and cold in the engine. Hopefully it’ll stay that way on track.

What I didn’t get to, unfortunately, were the rear shocks, as the top hats didn’t come in the mail on time. So I’ll have to make do with the set that’s currently installed. They’re not in awful condition, but they’re not in tip-top shape either. It’s the first job I plan to tackle once the track day is done... as long as nothing breaks while I’m on track, that is.

Following that, I want to start searching for a good bucket seat to replace the stock unit on the driver’s side. If I’m going to be taking corners in this car, I don’t want to be falling out of this bolster-less leather seat for much longer. Plus, the seat is in good original condition, and the easiest way to keep it like that is to take it out of the car and store it somewhere.

Stay tuned.

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