Yikes! Busted by the engineering police! Remember all that stuff I said about grinders? Well, forget it. I was only kidding. Ha, ha! Actually there is a very valid use for a grinder in your body-working exploits. Once you have welded in a new (non-structural) panel, you have two choices for making the panel look presentable: You can take a body hammer and dolly and knock the weld down below the finished surface of your bodywork, then use a light skim of filler to bring it back flush, or you can use other means (I didn't say grinder...you just substitute an implement for the phrase "other means") to dress the weld down to the bodywork surface. This way, you'll use less filler and have less Bondo in the bodywork. (What the hell am I saying? This is a race car! It's going to have Bondo wedged into every crack and crevice some day.)
I think my mistake was in failing to differentiate between panels with substantial stress loads fed into them and your basic, unstressed panels. For critical stress points such as suspension pickup points or subframe mounting points, I have a foolproof method: 1.) Get the best equipment available; 2.) Get your welder settings exactly right; 3.) Get in a good, comfortable position; and finally, 4.) Get help! As in, "Richard, could you weld this thing up for me?" It's a flawless procedure, and the finished product will be equally flawless.
The "gray areas" of stress, such as floor pans and sills, are still a no-no for use of the g-word. My BMW 2002 has 8 years of weekly slam-bang racing on it, but it's only holding together because I didn't know about the ugly crimes I was committing in the area of bodywork repair. I have entered a 12-step program, Grindermaniacs Anonymous, and I'm making good progress. At present I just use "The Beast" to dress my fingernails.
Now, on to something about which I know some stuff: Motors. Since the Greyhound is in limbo, still awaiting its turn in the cage-fabrication shop, I got busy rounding up a major component, the powerplant. Not just any old mill will do, either. My motor has to be close to 250 hp at the flywheel, it has to be simple, as in no turbochargers or other whiz-bang go goodies, and most important of all, it must be cheap! In case your thought processes are as addled as mine lately, "cheap" and "horsepower" are not words that have ever been associated with one another. Conventional wisdom is, "How fast you can go depends directly on how much money you have to spend." After shopping some "previously owned" M-car motors, this point became crystal clear. I could fry half my budget on a well-used 3.2-liter BMW Motorsport version of their wonderful inline six. In addition, parts are expensive. And most of these motors have lived a hard life, with various and sundry miscreants trying to put the throttle pedal through the floorboard at every opportunity. Scary. So, sadly, until I hit the lottery, no M-motor.
The next-lower rung on a BMW horsepower ladder would be a single-cam 3.5-liter version of the six. These represent a step down performance-wise, from the 280-to 330-hp versions that power the M-cars, but they are available, cheap, and can be made to produce 250 hp with excellent reliability. So my second choice is to hack the heart out of a European-spec BMW 535is for installation in the Greyhound.
But there are a few problems here also. Number one is getting the wiring harness installed so that the engine management functions and the Bosch injection system operate correctly. Keep in mind that I have a healthy distrust of electronic appliances relying on epoxy blobs for their continuing function. Those damn little electrons keep getting lost or forgetting what they're supposed to do or, worst of all, ganging up at a minor restriction and blowing up the component.
Then there are the physical factors to deal with to install this motor. There are motor mounts to fabricate, there's the driveshaft to shorten, there's the interference fit between the injection plenum and the brake booster, and on, and on. Hey, I don't have all year here! I'm already behind by many months on this project, so I need a good, cheap, bolt-in solution.
That brings us to Option 3, a hot-rodded, low-mileage version of the 3-liter inline six, as it originally appeared in my coupe. This is a desirable option from several standpoints: 1). It's an authentic motor from a historical standpoint, which will warm the cockles of a vintage scrutineer's heart; 2.) They are simple mechanically, as they run an actual distributor for spark and those antique devices referred to as "carburetors" to supply gas. Quaint but effective; and 3.) They will bolt right in without any messy structural modifications. For a weld-grinding misanthrope, like me this is downright necessary. So what I really need is a cheap, low-mileage, Stage II prepared, 3-liter BMW inline six.
Impossible, you say? Well, the planets have to be in alignment, you have to have done something really worthy so that Fortuna's wheel is topping out, and you have to be holding your mouth right. . . then just look on eBay. eBay? I know. The usual response is, "I'd sooner buy a used snake than a motor on eBay." But that's not my experience. I bought my race-car hauler, a dandy Suburban, on eBay. And I bought a really neat BMW 2002tii on eBay. So I found myself surfing around in the "BMW-other models" section of eBay's automotive listings with race-car parts on my want list. It was there I spied the 1972 Bavaria for sale.
The Bavaria was a sedan version of the Greyhound, therefore many of the mechanical parts, including the driveline, are interchangeable. And this was not just any old Bavaria. No siree. This one had "triple carburetors." Very interesting. And the motor had done only 35,000 miles since being rebuilt by a "performance rebuilder in Virginia." Very, very interesting.
So I started corresponding with the owner-eBay is really as much of a chat room as it is an auction house-and learned that the carburetors were indeed triple Webers, and that he had spent nearly six grand on a Stage II rebuild by a North Carolina performance shop, Karzundpartz. He didn't know any particulars on the rebuild, but he had a five-page invoice from the company. It was here that I departed the sane world and punched the "bid" button. I plugged in a modest amount as I believe in risking what you have in your pocket and no more. Then I crossed my fingers and hoped that the rebuild included a Schrick cam, high-compression pistons and some sort of performance exhaust header. Might as well hope for the best of all possible worlds.
When the auction ended and I was high bidder, I said to myself, "Now all we have to do is pick up our winnings...yes.... right! And just where the hell is Dewey, Ill., anyway?" Try Chicago and you'll be close. An agonizing 26-hour roundtrip later, I was the proud owner of a 1972 Bavaria, silver in color and rotten to the core. You see, Chicago is not a kind environment to early unit-bodied BMWs. The Bavaria, in fact, makes the Greyhound seem rust-free. But it's the motor that I coveted, and, as luck would have it, I got what I bargained for.
The invoice says that what we've got here is basically a hot street motor with a few little goodies thrown in for good measure. The cam is a Schrick 292, a good performance compromise. The pistons are new and raise compression to 9.5:1. The header is a tubular item from an aftermarket supplier. I would have liked a Stahl, the BMW performance header, but this one will do for now. The Weber carburetors are 45 DCOEs, and you just can't get any better than that. Then there's the new distributor and radiator upgrades. All-in-all it's an ideal package for a new race car: Good horsepower with nothing wild enough to cause problems.
When I finally get the Greyhound out on-track, flawless reliability will be my number-one priority, since it's impossible to sort a car while that car is sitting in the pits with a blown whozits. From that standpoint, a motor from the long-dead days of mechanical everything is ideal. This motor, even I can figure out. And how does the motor run right now? Like a scalded goat, thank you very much. It drags that heavy Bavaria around as if the car were made of something much lighter....like, say, white glue and toothpicks.
I've got my motor. I've got my place in the cage queue. Stay tuned.