Scenic Drive – Summer 2020


Hosted by NJ Chapter, DelVal Chapter, and TriState 5ers

Members of the NJ Chapter participated in a family-friendly scenic drive on July 12th over the winding backroads of Somerset, Hunterdon, and Morris counties. The 60-mile long scenic drive, which began and ended at the Hills Village Center in Bedminster, attracted both long-time members and members for whom this was their first chapter event. The event was co-hosted by the NJ Chapter, DelVal Chapter, and the TriState 5ers group to raise funds for NORWESCAP, a not-for-profit organization that provides social services to low-income families in northwest New Jersey.

Attendees who arrived early to grab a coffee before heading out on the scenic drive were treated to an appearance of a very rare 2002 Touring model which did a quick lap of the parking lot to check out more than 30 BMWs across a range of generations and models that gathered at the shopping center in Bedminster. The limitations on activities in place at the time of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic required all attendees to wear facemasks and adopt social distancing, but neither prevented the group from enjoying the beautiful weather and exploring scenic backroads of central New Jersey.

The convoy headed out from the shopping center and followed the leader (and Google Maps turn-by-turn directions) over winding backroads past the former estate of American auto executive John DeLorean in Bedminster and along the Lamington River in Pottersville en route to Long Valley Pub & Restaurant for lunch. Long Valley Pub & Restaurant accommodated the drivers and passengers with a designated parking area for the group along with a tasty menu of pub favorites served al fresco in the expanded outdoor seating area.

After lunch, the group headed back towards Bedminster on a meandering route over the windy backroads of Chester, Gladstone, and Mendham before taking a quick pause at the Jockey Hollow National Historical Park visitor center to allow the stragglers to re-group. From Jockey Hollow, the group continued onward Summer 2020 New Jersey BMW CCA Bulletin into Harding where the group leader had a near-miss with a groundhog that had wandered into the roadway. Keeping your eyes up isn’t just good practice while driving at the racetrack. Thankfully, the group leader and the cars immediate behind him were able to dodge the obstruction and the marmot scurried back to relative safety in the brush alongside the road.

The group traversed the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge without any further wildlife encounters and passed through Long Hill, Millington, and Bernardsville before returning to the Hills Village Center in Bedminster

Philes’ Forum – Summer 2020


By Vic Lucariello, Sr

Last time we talked about brake-system bleeding and brake-fluid flushing and the purpose of each. Bleeding is intended to remove any air or other gas bubbles from the hydraulic system, while flushing is done to replace old, contaminated brake fluid with fresh new fluid. Of course, a good flush will tend to remove any entrained gasses. Air or gas bubbles in your brake [or clutch] system can cause a low, “spongy” pedal, while contaminated fluid, in addition to fomenting corrosion, can boil under severe-use conditions and cause……………a low, “spongy” brake pedal. Generally speaking, when all is said and done, the main difference between brake
bleeding and brake-fluid flushing is the amount of fluid put through the system.

There are several methods of bleeding brakes and changing brake fluid, and some methods may be better than others for problem situations. With one
exception, all the methods we will talk about involve fluid movement from the master cylinder, down to the calipers and out of the system via the bleeder screws. In the case of brake bleeding, the idea is that any air will be expelled with the discharged fluid. I guess the various methods can be categorized as “pressure” or “vacuum”. Let’s begin with vacuum.

Before we begin, note that regardless of what method you use, you should be capturing all expelled brake fluid in a suitable container via a piece of
tubing attached to the bleeder screw. I always use clear-vinyl tubing so that I can observe the color of the expelled fluid as well as any bubbles. Suitable vinyl tubing can be had at any hardware store. Brake fluid handily removes most paints. And, trust me on this, you definitely do not want to get brake fluid in your eyes! So, eye protection is required, as it is for just about any work on your car.

Vacuum bleeding/flushing involves applying suction to the caliper-bleeder screws. This can be accomplished with a Vacula or Mityvac shop-air powered “brake bleeder”, or with a simple hand pump as shown in Photo #1. This particular hand pump is by Phoenix Systems, and it is suitable for both “normal” and “reverse” bleeding [more on this later]. While the air-powered vacuum bleeders are faster, the hand pump works just as well.

Although vacuum bleeding/flushing is popular with many folks and is relatively fast to set up, there are a couple of disadvantages to it in my opinion. I guess what bothers me most is that, being that suction is applied to the bleeder screw, you can get fugitive air sucked in around the bleeder-screw threads, and you can’t tell if this air is coming from the brake system or sneaking around the bleeder screw. You can minimize the amount of fugitive air by wrapping the bleeder-screw threads in Teflon tape. However,
be SURE to keep the tape off of the tapered seat on the bleeder screw. Photo #2 depicts a bleeder screw wrapped in Teflon tape. Teflon tape comes in different qualities and thicknesses. The thin, good quality stuff is what I prefer.

A purported advantage of the vacuum method is that it tends to enlarge any bubbles in the system, thereby making them easier to entrain and remove. This sounds quite reasonable to me.

Vacuum bleeding/flushing is generally a bit slower than pressure bleeding [more on this later], and usually vacuum bleeding can only be applied to one bleeder screw at a time. Moreover, one needs to keep close watch on the brake-fluid-reservoir level [this applies to some other methods as well] to ensure that it does not empty and introduce air into the brake system.

Pressure bleeding/flushing can be sub-divided into several categories: gravity, pump-the-pedal [P-T-P], and external pressure. In the gravity method, one simply opens one or more bleeder screws and allows fluid to flow from the system. The gravity method is perhaps the slowest of all the methods I know of, and in some cases, depending upon the arrangement of the system and how long the brake lines are, one may get little or no brake-fluid flow from one or more bleeder screws, especially the rears. Also, being that this method is relatively slow, one may tend to get impatient and walk away, perhaps forgetting to keep an eye on the all-important brake -fluid-reservoir level. I once did a survey of professional shops specializing in BMWs and some shops claimed to use gravity bleeding/flushing.

That brings us to pumping the brake pedal. In this very popular [in the DIY set] method, one has an assistant pump the brake pedal, then hold foot pressure on it while the bleeder screws are opened one at a time. The pumping action of the master cylinder is used to expel fluid and any entrained gas. Then [hopefully] after the bleeder screw is re- closed, the assistant releases the brake pedal and the sequence is repeated…..over….and…… over……..and, well, you get the picture. Any of you who has spent any time in repair shops or track garages has undoubtedly heard the “Pump it up…..Hoooold it….OK” litany. One of my first jobs when I began working in the corner “gas station” lo those decades ago was to be the P-T-P assistant. And that reminds me of one of the disadvantages of the P-T-P method.

When doing the ol’ P-T-P routine, your assistant has to be very careful not to release the brake pedal before you say “OK”. [Of course, you need to be very careful not to say “OK” until you have closed the dang bleeder screw.] If the pedal is released before the bleeder screw is closed, the system will suck in a nice shot of air. In this august, family- oriented publication, I cannot repeat what ol’ ‘Pino Cocuzzo said to me in that Gulf station the first time I took my foot off the brake pedal too soon.

Speaking of less-than-competent assistants, I’ll never forget the time I was bleeding the brakes on my hotrod in an effort to alleviate a spongy brake pedal. I must have repeated the “Pump it – hold it” litany for 15 minutes [at least it seemed that long] with no success before I realized that my assistant was depressing the CLUTCH pedal [no mean feat on my hotrod!].

Assistant incompetence aside, my main concerns regarding P-T-P bleeding/flushing are that it takes quite a while, and many pedal cycles, to pump a liter of fluid through the system, and that the master-cylinder’s piston seals are dragged repeatedly over areas in the master-cylinder bore that they normally do not contact. In uncommon cases [perhaps more likely with older, cast-iron-body master cylinders], this can cause the master cylinder to fail. Yes, this has happened to me. Of course, one needs to keep close watch on the fluid level when using the P-T-P method. And a closer watch on the assistant!

The P-T-P method does have one great advantage over the other methods we are talking about. Even moderate foot pressure on a brake pedal can produce 1000 psi [pounds per square inch] pressure in the brake system. To put that in perspective, the pressure provided by a common pressure bleeder [more on this later] is only about 20 psi. Opening a bleeder screw with 1000 psi behind it results in a high-velocity jet of brake fluid, and this high velocity can sometimes expel a recalcitrant air bubble that has resisted other methods of brake bleeding. I rarely have to resort to P-T-P when bleeding a brake system. And of course, when you are doing a simple fluid flush, there should be no air in the system to begin with.

That brings us to external-pressure bleeding/flushing and unfortunately to the end of Philes’ Forum for this time. See you next time, Bimmerphiles. Anyone wishing to contribute to Philes’ Forum can contact me at I’m interested in tech tips, repair/maintenance questions, repair horror stories, emissions-inspection sagas, product evaluations, etc.

President’s Corner – Summer 2020


“Once upon a time, it was a dark and stormy night.” That’s not much of a beginning for a column in a car- club-related newsletter; it’s a combination of some opening lines for stories that should have happy endings. I need to give credit to Snoopy for the latter half of the first line because right now I feel a little like Snoopy sitting on top of a dog house typing this
column to hopefully have a happy ending.

We are still in the midst of a world-wide pandemic which has been greatly restricting the events we would normally have throughout the year. We are proceeding with caution while following the guidelines set forth by the BMW CCA, our government leaders and the regulations of the venues we are attending, either here in NJ or elsewhere.

We have been able to hold some events, the first being the Scenic/Fun Car Drive in June organized by our Director of Social Events, Rich Altman and Club member Wade Howard. I won’t be going into the details of the event since there is story elsewhere in the Bulletin about it but I would like to thank them for putting it together since it was a benefit for the Foodbank of NORWESCAP. As you may be aware by now, donations to foodbanks have been greatly impacted by the pandemic; this event was able to generate over 11,000 pounds of food for the Foodbanks recipients. More Scenic /Fun Drives are in our future.

We held the 7th annual Geoff Atkinson Memorial Drivers School and Club Race at Summit Point, West Virginia in July. It was warm weather as usual with several run groups of students and a full contingent of Club Racers that were able to run in 4 races. I must thank VAC Motorsports for their continued support and sponsorship of our Club Racing. All of the students,
instructors and racers were thrilled to be finally out at the track after being self-quarantined (or was it sequestered?) for months.

Since we were unable to have in-car instruction for students, our Chief Instructor Bill Van Ocker had implemented having the student run groups use a Lead/Follow (L/F) system with Instructors, this is similar to what other car clubs and organizations are now using. The L/F instruction works great with those who have previous track experience.

We are still planning to be at the Shenandoah Circuit of Summit Point in October, we will be most likely using the L/F instruction there. It is uncertain at this time if we will have the pot-luck dinner at the track like we had last year due to the coronavirus but will wait to see what the protocol is then.

Another event that has fallen victim to the pandemic is our September Tirerack Street Survival School for teen drivers. We were concerned given the guidelines in which we are to instruct students that it would lead to confusion and possibly frustration on the behalf of both the students and the instructors. The social distancing guidelines for the classroom may also have prevented all of the students from being able to see and hear the instructor. We’re looking forward to holding the schools again in 2021 if they can be held in more ideal conditions.

We are now looking into the fall when we normally hold a long-time Chapter tradition right before Thanksgiving, the Whack Your Turkey Rally. There may be some change to that also since the governor is still not allowing indoor dining as of this writing. We may shift the time earlier in the fall when it’s still warm enough to congregate outdoors under cover or look for a great big space indoor like a warehouse where we can still comply with social distancing guidelines.

One last item of Club business is the election of officers to our Board of Directors for the year 2021. This year has been going by quickly but not quick enough to get us to the other side of this pandemic. As usual, the spots up for grab are: President, Vice- President, Treasurer, Secretary, Driving Events, Director of Social Events, and 2 Member-at-Large positions. There will be an E-Blast going out in October that will have information of how to nominate yourself or any other individual. If you have any questions regarding the positions and their duties please contact me, my address is at the bottom of this column.

It was great to see the turnout of members at the Show and Shine/Swap Meet which was held at the Deutscher Club in August. Although the prediction for the weather was ominous, we had clearing skies for the evening. In keeping within the social distancing guidelines, all participants hung out in the parking lot and under the pavilion until it got dark. This event is gaining in popularity and will definitely be back in the future.
Continue Staying Safe.

Neil Gambony

Initial Ramblings – Spring 2020: The E21 Movement


The following is an expanded article I did for the Spring 2020 edition of Ultimate Classic, the quarterly newsletter for the BMW Classic Car Club of America. For me this was just another step closer to achieving a childhood dream of getting something I wrote published in a national magazine. I do not have a journalism degree or even took any kind of classes but yet here I am, typing away at 11:16 pm before our deadline. My column in our Chapter’s newsletter has always been very fulfilling and I appreciate all of you who take the time to email me or come up to me at an event or meeting to say how much you enjoy what I write. It validates that my ramblings have some value. I have immense appreciation for those who do this for a living. Now, enough of this, onto the article.

In the car world, there are vehicles that slip under the radar for years. Cars that only the most dedicated enthusiast are aware of. Perhaps you can describe them as the neglected middle child. BMW has one of those cars, the E21. This is a forgotten gem and the sleeper of collectable BMW’s. It’s perhaps the Bimmer that has been the most overlooked model. It’s the first to carry a 3-Series badge. It is nestled between the classic and ever popular 2002 and the leader of the vintage 3 series lust factor, the E30. Yet the E21 has had little interest, until now.

For those who are unaware, this car was built from 1975 to 1983, but first available in the US in 1977. We will focus on the US versions. Built during the second gas crisis, these sports sedans were fun, nimble and efficient for the time. The first years 1977 to 1979 were 2.0L M10 overhead cam, hemi-head 4-cylinder motors equipped with Bosch KJetronic Injection and 4-Speed transmissions, or an optional 3 speed automatic. The 1980-1983 versions were powered by a 1.8L M10 4-cylinder and followed by a Getrag 5-Speed or optional automatic. The later versions were also available as an S model equipped with Recaro Seats, front air dam, rear spoiler, cross hatch wheels, and larger anti sway bars front and rear. When compared to today’s basic BMW’s, they are antiquated, but to the enthusiast, it provides a raw, direct and connected feeling to the road. With manual everything, this is a sports sedan in primitive form. I always say the E21 doesn’t do everything right, but doesn’t do anything wrong.

I have been an E21 owner for 18 years now, a 1977 320i. It was my first BMW I owned. My uncle always said his favorite BMW he had was his Alpinweiss 1983 320i. When my wife Sandy spotted ours for sale, I remembered this so I had to see it. I spoked to the seller, loaded up my trailer, withdrew cash from the bank, and headed out to buy it. I was so focused on negotiating of the deal I almost walked away from this car, all over $100. When I got into my
truck, Sandy said what happened? I told her we were at a stalemate and I wasn’t giving in. It must be my stubborn German heritage. My wife then said “Are you going to really lose the car over $100? Is it worth it?” Rationale won over my need win the battle and I grabbed the seller before he left – Always listen to the wife. In the end, we all won.

Since then I have had an additional 4 other E21’s, as well as 11 other models of BMW’s. Still, the E21, and my original 320i are my favorite. When I had first bought mine, you can purchase a nice one needing very little work for $2,000-3,000. In the last couple years, interest in the E21 has seen an increase in popularity. I’ve noticed Millennials are discovering this little gem. As a result there has been an uptick in their value. Maybe this new generation isn’t all that bad? I performed a search of previous sales on Bring a Trailer. The average selling price has been between $5,000 and $15,000 with an astounding price being achieved in June or 2019 for a clean 320i of $25,500. The ultimate E21, a drool worthy 1979 BMW Alpina B6 2.8L, sold for $80,000 on September 28, 2018. This has to be a world record sale for any street legal E21. But for those who don’t have that kind of cash in your Bitcoin account and can do some wrenching yourself, you can still find project cars out there from $1,000-3,000 depending on the needs of the vehicle.

Parts can be a little scarce depending on what you need. Tune up kits and such are readily available, but some stuff is not, like original trunk lid weather stripping. BMW Classic division was still producing a large array of E21 parts, but some have gone No-Longer-Available. Those seeking original used can search eBay or E21 groups, just have patience. I have a small stock pile of parts I acquired from a fellow CCA member as well as parts cars I’ve picked up over the years. The more popular items have already been sold but I still have interior, fuel related, and body parts available. If you need anything, feel free to contact me at my email below.

In 2002, when I bought my 320i, I knew nothing about these cars. I searched the web for information and found Bimmerforums had an E21 section. I joined, participated and absorbed as much as I could. There are a lot of helpful enthusiasts on there. Another informative site that was dedicated to these cars was This was a treasure trove of technical info and repair tips. Unfortunately that site is no longer around. I started to add a lot of that info on my own website but after changing servers, I haven’t done any work to restore these pages yet. Some of you may remember back from 2003-2007 I held E21 gatherings where owners from around the northeast would congregate, swap stories, show their cars and have a bite to eat together. It was a lot of fun but in 2008 I was getting married the same month I usually held them. Unfortunately for the E21 gang, my nuptials took priority. I’ve recently considered resurrecting the gatherings but the pandemic has put an indefinite hold it, at least for this year.

As with any obscure but devoted group of enthusiasts, clubs will form. In the mid 2000’s a group called the E21 Legion came to be. I have no idea what my membership number is but I know it was only 3 digits I think in the 200 or 500 realm. There’s probably several thousand now and I am happy to say the Legion is still going strong today. You can find them on Facebook and Instagram. The most recent and significant advancement for the original 3Series owners is the formation of a BMW CCA sanctioned
SIG (Special Interest Group) called E21 Sharknose Register run by Joel Palmer. You can also find it on Facebook and Instagram under the name e21 CCA. With the CCA sanctioned group, this solidifies the strong resurgence in the interest in E21’s and it will continue to grow. I am proud to be one of the pioneers of this chassis blazing a way to a new frontier. And to think I was going to lose all of this fun over $100?

The Movement is on.

Are you in?

JT Burkard

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