This 1991 BMW 850i gets much deserved love from its new owner

LISTEN 03:25

YouTube is full of people creating automotive content. The amount of car content is staggering and ever-increasing, but among the oddest bunch of people on YouTube are the “automotive masochists”. Although not the first one to come to mind (that would probably be Hoovie’s Garage), “M539 Restorations” is a channel focused on the unenviable task of bringing old BMWs back from the dead.

Sreten – the founder of the channel – is an IT guy, but you’d never guess from watching him engaging in this sadistic endeavor. This is actually part four of his “project Marseille” – he names every project after a city and this is the codename of his 1991 BMW 851 E31. He previously got “this glorious turd” running, and now, he’s going to attempt to get it driving.

Clutch problems

The Restoration Of This Forgotten, BMW E31 850i Will Make You Feel Warm and Fuzzy Inside
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The first issue Sreten tackles is the clutch pedal, which is “refusing to cooperate”. Essentially, after pressing the clutch pedal, it doesn’t return to its natural position and stays on the floor. He correctly assumes the problem is caused by bad brake\clutch fluid and a shot slave cylinder. “This is what happens when you don’t change your brake fluid for ten years”, he adds. At least, it’s an easy replacement job.

Brake job

The Restoration Of This Forgotten, BMW E31 850i Will Make You Feel Warm and Fuzzy Inside
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A car that’s been sitting for 10 years needs to have its brake system serviced. The brake fluid can absorb water, which can lead to rust issues and a clogged ABS pump, as explained by Sreten. Luckily, the ABS pump works fine, but new brake lines are still in order for the old 8-series

Next stop – cooling system and timing chain tensioner

Removing the radiator reveals a deteriorated hose and a small radiator leak. Since removing the radiator frees up space, Sreten decides to change the chain tensioner. After that, a new OEM radiator from “Mahle” is being installed.

Transmission fluid

The Restoration Of This Forgotten, BMW E31 850i Will Make You Feel Warm and Fuzzy Inside
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Sreten decides to check the transmission fluid, which is more of a preventative measure. According to manufacturers, many manual transmission cars have a life-long transmission fluid. However, that doesn’t account for scenarios where a car has not been driven in years.

Cleaning the throttle bodies after 30 years

The Restoration Of This Forgotten, BMW E31 850i Will Make You Feel Warm and Fuzzy Inside
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The BMW 850i has been sitting for 10 years, but some things haven’t been done since it came out of the factory.

“Last time I’ve done this, it made a huge impact on how the car idled”,

Sreten explains. Since there are two throttle bodies, they need synching. This involves driving the car, reaching 5,000 RPM, and letting the car slow down. The process is repeated a couple of times.

The Restoration Of This Forgotten, BMW E31 850i Will Make You Feel Warm and Fuzzy Inside
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There are still some final touches to be done on this BMW 850i, such as addressing a potential manifold gasket leak and the brake pressure regulator. The video ends with a “drive” in the yard of Sreten’s workshop, showing that the car is fully functional and can be enjoyed. Most of the interventions in the video are not very complicated and if you are a DIY guy, this video could be considered a guide of sorts.

It also shows that, back in the day, even a flagship car like this amazing BMW 850i was a relatively simple car, at least compared to more modern equivalents.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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