We Will Rocker You
We’ve mentioned more than once that our car had not gotten along very well with snow and rain in the past. The more we dig into the structure, the more we think that she may have spent considerable time on the bottom of a lake.
Our coupe is no special case, mind you. Rust prevention was just not given much thought until later in the 1970s. I have talked to long-time owners who had to rebuild inner fenders, floors and rocker panels in the late 1980s - when their car was only 15 years old. Our car spent its first twenty years in Berlin where it saw plenty of weather, major rust is to be expected.
For those who aren’t familiar, rocker panels are the bottom edge of a car under the doors. They provide much of the structure, or frame of the car.
There are multiple layers of steel forming the coupe’s rockers. Since this was my first E9, we honestly didn’t know how many layers there should be, and the shape they should all take. Tyler performed a lot of archeological digging on each of the four corners to discover what the rockers should actually look like. We also received a lot of help and photos from the great community at e9coupe.com. We could have cut them entirely out and purchased/installed completely new rockers, but there was plenty of good and original metal behind all that rust worth preserving. We thought it more gratifying to leave the good and fabricate only the rotted sections of each layer.
Here’s a shot of our driver side rockers looking from the rear tire forward. It’s not a pretty sight.
We Can Rebuild It
Surely the front wasn’t as bad…
The front was no better than the rear. Rust is one thing, but some driveway rust repair had been done at some point confusing how things should actually assemble. This required Tyler to do some real digging on both driver and passenger sides to recreate how the layers were supposed to look.
Capping it all off
With the structural layers all complete we can finally cap it all off. We went our own direction here, opting for a custom cap with tight gaps to the fender and quarter panel which we welded in place. This provides a very clean and tidy look.
Meanwhile, we were floored.
While all this was going on we were also fixing up the floors. The coupe had Fred Flintstone floors on all four positions. We purchased new floors for this. The rears were perfectly stamped and shaped for the car, but the fronts seemed to be a generic “Automobile/Front” floor pans. The stamp was directly over the frame rail. So we cut off the side, pushing the stamp to it’s proper place between the rail and the rocker. We then extended the inside to the transmission tunnel and curved all the edges to mate to the car. A bit of work, but in the end it looks as good as the floors I saw BMW Classics doing in Munich last winter.
Also, if you Instagram, don’t forget to check us out there. This blog gets a bit behind, but the Instagram feed delivers your BMW CSE action up-to-the-minute! It also covers a lot more of the little details that we don’t get into here.