After the Spec E46’s debut at Barber Motorsports Park, I was left with a crumpled and undriveable car. The initial visual inspection at the track showed that I’d be in need of the following:
- Left Fender
- Left and Right headlights
- Left control arm
- left tie rod
- Left aluminum engine mount
- Apex Wheel
- Radiator core support
Once I had the car home, I immediately unloaded it directly from the trailer into the shop and up on jack stands. From there I started to dismantle the front end. With the hood, fender, and bumper off, I got a much better look at what lay ahead. I then found the following would need replaced:
- Front left wheel housing
- Front subframe
- Left and right engine mounts
- Steering rack
- Power steering pump pulley
- Front bumper crash bar
The whole left front had been pushed to the right and rear, forcing the wheel well up into where the DME box and brake master cylinder/ABS/booster are located. Several welds had pulled apart, and I don’t think a simple frame pull would get it back to where it needed to be. So I opted to order brand new OEM sheet metal. BMW offers the entire wheel housing and frame horn as a replacement part, though it’s certainly a special order item.
The engine came out, which was in surprisingly good order, other than the torn Bimmerworld engine mounts and cracked aluminum mounts. I got lucky in that none of the bolts pulled from the block. The crash did manage to put a ding in the Y-pipe, but I decided to leave it alone.
The engine subframe was twisted at the engine mounts, so it went in the trash. I sourced one from a junk yard, as well as a used core support and crash bar. The subframe was cleaned up and a set of Turner reinforcements were welded on.
I completely cut away the original wheel well by drilling out all the factory spot welds, leaving the front left firewall completely bare. The new housing was squeezed into place, and leveled using tape measures and a plumb bob. I welded it back on using the factory spot weld locations. The interior of the transmission tunnel needed a patch plate where some original metal tore during removal.
The left control arm bushing had stripped the threads from the frame, so I ended up drilling it up a size and inserting a helicoil.
With the new metal final welded into place, I gave everything a good scuff with a 3M pad, followed by cleaning, then a coat of automotive primer. I then sealed up the gaps with some plain seam sealer before painting everything a matched 300 Alpine White and a coat of catalyzed clear.
Everything went back together as it did the first time. I did find that both frame horns slightly shifted (~1/8″) to the right when checking the frame for squareness. A little extra effort on panel gaps brought everything within factory spec and the car aligned properly as well. I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.
Note: While everything was apart, I took the opportunity to replace the brake master cylinder and booster. These weren’t damaged in the wreck but were original to the car (~220k miles).