Finishing up the audio


My goal for the audio system was to have something rivaling a premium new car. Balanced, lots of low end, but not overly bass heavy with a clear and detailed high end. All in a somewhat stealth install without doing a whole lot of hacking up the car. Also I didnt want to break the bank on this either. A high end amp can go for $1500 alone and thats more than my entire install so selecting components would be crucial to getting great sounding pieces at great prices. If budget wasnt an issue, I could rattle off some pretty high end coomponents and it would add up to about $5k, and sound phenomenal. I wanted to get the $5k sound on a MUCH smaller budget. I started with the head unit. This is a key component, if this sounds bad, then the rest of the system will sound bad. I want it to look clean, maybe a bit plain. Something people wouldnt look twice at. I decided on teh Nakamichi CD500. These have not been made in a while, but you can still find them new at a few places and they are known for the sound quality. They have a built in 3 band EQ, subwoofer control and output, 4 channel line out in addition to the subwoofer out, digital input, plus analaog input (crucial for the iphone connection) and a nice clean, no nonsense looking unit. The speakers were not as hard as I thought. Went to a few places and decided on the Hertz HSK 6.5 2 way components. The company is a sister company of Audison which makes AMAZING amps. The hertz brand has been known for giving you the Audison Italian made quality at about half the price. These speakers have been rated as the best component speakers year after year. You would have to spend about double to get any better. The amp I went with was a Soundstream TN5.950. Its a Class D digital amp thats very flexible in its configurations. 5 channel, 4 channel, 3 channel whatever. Has a dedicated subwoofer channel and has crossovers on all channels. Puts out 80 watts x 4 plus 270 x 1. Or it can be bridged for 250×2 and 430×1. Its also using the same board design and chipset as the Polk Audio, Hertz, Precision Power and NVX amps. Its about 1/3 the price of the Hertz and 1/2 the price of the Polk Audio so I was hoping to get sound quality approaching or equaling those amps. The last part was the difficult part. The subwoofer. I found a guy who builds custom boxes to fix under the rear seat of the BMW 2002. The problem is he designed it for a 6.5″ subwoofer. It has .15 cubic feet of space inside which is tiny. I wasnt sold that I would be happy with the output of the 6.5″ sub and I wanted to go with an 8″ subwoofer. The problem is that almost every 8″ subwoofer was either too deep and/or required at least .3 cubit feet of space. I couldnt double the box size or make it deeper. There are shallow mound subs designed to fit in tight places, but those usually sound awful because of the design limitations. Then I found the Alpine Type R 8″ sub. Designed to work in .15 cubic feet of space and it was only 4.5″ deep. In addition to that the magnet did not vent through the rear like some subs so the rear could be flush with the box. So I ordered the sib box and the Alpine sub from 2 different places and crossed my fingers. The Alpine sub is a monster, will take 350 watts RMS and a peak of 1000 watts! That means my 270 will work perfectly. How will it sound in such a small box? I couldnt find any reviews of it in a tight space. All reviews were inlarger boxes but they were ALL very positive about how clean, and clear they were as well as getting deep frequencies. The sub box arrived and I looked it over, very well made, came with Polyfill already inside. I marked out where I was going to cut to make the 8 fit. Grabbed the dremel tool and a few minutes later it was done.grinded the hole down to smooth it out and test fitted the sub…perfect! I put some weather stripping around the mounting hole so the sub would be airtight. Marked the mounting holes, grabbed the drill and the sub was ready to be screwed in. What a breeze! Wired it to the amp and turned up the gain….WOW. Tight, clear and deep bass. No rattles, no creaks, just clean sound. Adjusted the crossover a bit and the subsonic filter and I played a variety of tunes. From Beyonce to Black Eyed Peas, to Muse to Depeche Mode to Steely Dan to Stevie Wonder. All sounding great! From the head unit I have the sub at about 5 or 6 out of 10. Its that loud that I have to turn it down. I also did not set the gain very aggressively so there is probably room there as well. In conclusion I have a VERY good audio system at a very good price. I did all the wiring and installation and that saved alot of work. Its not that difficult, just takes some patience and dedication to do it properly.







Sound Decision




I have been meaning to complete the audio system for the last few years.  The Nakamichi head unit has been flawless and the Hertz component system has been smooth and a dream to listen to…I just need MORE POWER!  So I have been doing tins of research and while my last audio build was probably a $5000+ system, I wanted to be a lot more modest with this build.  So I chose the Soundstream Tarantula Nano series 5 channel amp.  Whats great about this amp is its a Class D all digital amp that has a high clean power output with very low noise and very little power drain.  It also has a very small footprint and generates almost no heat.  Whats not to like right?  Oh and the price was probably about 1/5 the price of my last amp, the Audison 6.9.  Would it sound as good?  No.  I am sure of that, but that was in a newer Porsche Carrera, with modern insulation and a relatively quiet cabin.  The 2002 is loud.  Vintage.  No AC, so the windows are always down, and on nice days the roof is open.  So do I need the supreme audio quality?  No.  This is part 3 of my audio system.  Part 1 was the Nakamichi head unit.  Part 2, the Hertz components.  This will be part 3 the amp install, and the last part will be the Subwoofer to round out the system.


Amp configuration.

This is a 5 channel amp and since I am running front speakers and a subwoofer I only need 3 channels.  This will allow me to bridge the component speakers and run a clean 230 watts to them.  They are rated at 250 watts so thats a perfect match.  The sub will then get a clean 300 wats from the 5th channel.  All controllable from the head unit.  Nice!



Initial impressions

Well its a beautiful little amp.  The size is small for a high power amp, but its solid.  Like an aluminum brick.  Its got a very nice milled aluminum look, like a Retina MacBook Pro.  Sexy.  Its got TONS of switches and pots on the side of the inputs.  This is because of the active crossovers this unit has.  High and low pass filters on the front 4 channels and a low pass filter for the subwoofer channel.  It also has 2 channel or 4 channel inputs, separate sub inputs and a subwoofer volume remote that can be mounted up front to control just the sub volume.  On the other side are the power connections as well as the speaker outputs.  Nice layout and there is a nice overhang so all the wiring will be concealed once mounted.  My mounting location will be under the rear seat on the drivers side.  The subwoofer will be under the rear seat on the passengers side.


This was very straightforward.  I bought a wiring kit and ran the wire into the engine bay, wired a fused, to the battery and ran things under the carpet for a no wire install.  I ran all the power wires down one side of the car and ran all the audio wires down the other side of the car so there would be no interference.  I ran 6 channels of RCA outputs from the head unit.  The 4 front channels and the subwoofer channels.  In no time all wires were run and it was time to turn the power on and test it.


Turned the key….lights!

Ok…good sign…turn the volume up slowly and no sound….

Uh Oh.

Turn it up a bit more…it was nearly all the way up and now I am beginning to hear it just barely…wait.  Its no louder than the head unit alone!  No way.  Then I realize there is an adjustable gain.  Turn up the input gain and then there is this nice, warm, clean sound….YES!  The tarantula on the top of the amp lights up in blue and there is a blue power LED on the side.  Very cool, except in my car this will be hidden.  No one will ever see this…lol. Oh well.



The sound.  One word.  WOW!

I put on some Steely Dan, turned up the volume and the music literally jumped out of the Hertz component speakers.  Turned the bass up and wow.  Those speakers were happy and the sound was impressive.  Loud, clear, and zero distortion.  I quickly played everything from Jay Z to the Beastie Boys to Jamiroquai to Sade to Esthero.  All clear and crisp with full low end.  This was with virtually zero tuning and the gain not really set.  It was also in 5 channel mode.  The amp is rated at 85 watts per channel in 5 cannel mode. Tomorrow I plan on setting the gain and trying it in bridged mode.  This will put 230 watts to the speakers.  What I also noticed was before the amp install when I turned the radio up the lights dimmed, the radio display blinked and the gauges jumped.  After the amp install, even when cranked up there was none of that.  Sees this amp has very little power drain for the power its putting out.  Nice!

I drove around for about an hour after the install.  Listening to various things.  I noticed that the cars exhaust, which before was too loud, was now just right!  I can hear it just over the audio system…perfect!  The car is now nearly perfect for road trips…..


Next step is to do some tuning, then add the sub.  Stay tuned!



Wiring Clean Up!




Spent a few hours getting all those wires that were loose wrapped up and cleaned up so the battery area wouldn’t look so sloppy. Best case scenario would be to yank it all out, paint it and rewire everything from scratch but that’s not happening anytime soon. So I pulled some wire. Wrapped some up. Tied some down and hooked it all back up. While it was apart I made sure all the ground wires were securely grounded, a weakness of the 2002. Then I re grounded the electric fan and buttoned it all up and tested everything. All in all a pretty satisfying day. Gonna make this one short so I can enjoy the 2nd to last episode of Breaking Bad.

Tii Brake Booster!!!

Now that I know my brake booster is bad I need to decide on what to do, replace it or repair it. New brake boosters are no longer available. Rebuilding them is about $200. The 2002 Tii brake booster is longer and more narrow. It was needed to fit the larger fuel injected intake manifold. Since I am going to upgrade to dual side draft carbs the extra space will allow me to run a much wider variety of air cleaners. Since these are no longer made and Tii’s are more rare, there is usually a premium on the Tii brake booster. I started looking for Tii boosters and didnt find much. I put a wanted ad on and I got an email from my buddy Julio at Euro Vintage Parts. He had a really nice one in great condition for about the price of a rebuild! He is in Northern California and amazingly enough I happened to be up there and was able to swing by and pick it up! The down side is that the Optima red top battery I bought recently is too big so I will either have to relocate the battery to the trunk…which was on my short list of things to do, or get a smaller battery for the stock location. The Brake Booster was in great shape with just a bit of surface rust. I sanded it down and hit it with a little satin black Rustoleum. (Said in Edd Chyna’s british accent for you Wheeler Dealer fans!) Once cleaned up, Ken Blasko at Vintage BMW Racing did the install.  In some cases new brake lines need to be installed because of the booster being longer.  Ken and Tom were able to creatively stretch my brake lines.

The results:

WOW. I picked the car up and drove down the street, pressed the brakes for the first time  and I almost flew into the windshield…the brakes were absolutely amazing! I know the Tii Brake Booster is supposed to add ZERO performance over the standard unit, but lets just say fresh brake fluid, rear brake adjustment, bleeding and a properly working booster all make a HUGE difference. My old booster may have been failing for months. Now my idle is nice and smooth even stopped with my foot on the brake and it stops on a dime! So here are a few pics. Now I need to clean up those wires on that side of the engine bay…Looks like thats my next job! 

BMW 2002 Tii Brake Booster

Good condition, just a little surface rust.

Paint of choice! Quick drying Black Satin

Sanded and a bit of paint.

Dried and ready for install

Installed! Tight fit with a small battery there. Red Top Optima would not fit!

Tights fit…just a wee bit of room. Either a smaller battery will need to go in or the battery will have to be moved to the trunk.

The Smell is Gone!!!

For 2 years or so I have been enduring this exhaust smell in my car. I tried to adjust the trunk latch so it would seal better. I was at the most extreme setting and still I was seeing light get into the trunk. It was not a small gap. So I decided for a cheap temporary fix just to see exactly what the problem is. I got a $3 roll or rubber weatherstripping and applied to to the trunk lid. Closed the trunk and drove. It’s been about a week and ZERO exhaust smell In the car! I can’t believe that I let this go in for so long and never fixed the issue! Well here is a pic of the stuff I used.




Today was a day that has even 3 years in the making! Today I installed the carpet kit I bought from Esty. It you are unfamiliar with Esty, let me tell you a but about her. She has many 02s and has designed carpet kits that are precut at a reasonable cost. Here is her website.

Years ago I bought a dark blue carpet kit to replace my now 36 year old dark blue carpet. My carpet now if white in places due to sun bleaching and old age. The kit was excellent. High quality Very well made and in the middle I got stuck and she emailed me back within minutes with more info. That’s amazing. Any issues with the kit is strictly the fault of the installer (Me).  So after 7 hours of work and a few emails from Esty…I am VERY pleased with the outcome!  No more dirty and dingy carpet….Definitely makes the interior much nicer…now the next major upgrade for the interior is the dingy headliner.


 Before –  37 year old Carpet




Old Carpet out 



Additional Sound and Insulation Applied


 Almost Done!


Carpet Installed!


Break In Trip Part 2. Uh oh.

Part 1 of the trip was a dream. About 8pm I set off from Sacramento and headed south on interstate 5. Keeping the car under 80 the whole way was the plan. When I stopped for gas I topped off the oil level. Gotta make sure the engine stays nice and lubricated! I am getting exhaust smell in the car. That’s not new. I think I need to replace my trunk seal as well as fill the holes left from the euro bumper conversion. Again the car run flawlessly until the very end of the trip. I got off the freeway and heard a strange noise. Uh oh. What’s that! It was a high pitched loud whine. It sounded like a poor stereo install with a loud alternator whine. I turned the radio and the noise was still there. I looked at all the gauges and all was well. The performance was the same. Just a loud whine from the engine. I was close to home and now it was 24 hours since I had slept and I was exhausted. I nursed it home. Parked it. Sent Ken Blasko an email and went to sleep. It was 5am. Around 8 I get a text message from Ken saying he would be by about 830 am! Wow! Ken gets there and we looked at the oil pressure. Checked it with a gauge. Pulled the plugs and checked them but we couldn’t find the source of the whine or anything wrong. He put a rag near the carb and the noise got muffled. Hmmm. He spruced carb cleaner all over the carb while it was running and got nothing. So this was odd. He moved some thins around and found that the main throttle shaft was letting in air which was making the loud whine. Everything else looks pretty good.

So to wrap it up the Break in trip was a huge success. It’s shaking out the little things that may or may not be related to the engine work.

Break In Road Trip!


Doing a drive from Newport Beach to Sacramento to visit family. It’s about 450 miles each way. If you are not familiar with the drive its all flat and straight interstate highway except for the Grapevine which is a steep and windy grade of road that is probably alot like the Autobahn. This is part 1. The drive up north.

The car ran absolutely perfect! The power at highway speeds is considerably more than before. It now pulls hard at 80 and keeps going! I didn’t go too far yet as I still wanna keep it below redline for a bit. Before te engine work the car would go up the steep highway at 85 mph but would kinda max out there. Other cars are usually huffing and puffing doing 65 and all the trucks are doing about 35. So 75-85 is actually good. Now after the work the car pulls pas 80 and is still going when I pull off. Wow. I would bet triple digit speeds are easily possible up this steep grade and under load. Impressive. It ran at 80 so perfectly and when I needed the power it was readily available. Very very happy with how it’s running. Temps are perfect. No issues and the oil pressure light used to flicker after freeway runs. Nope not a peep. I really have not found a downside for the 292 cam yet! I really love how this car is running!!


She’s Baaaack!!!!!!!


Just picked up the car from Ken at Vintage BMW Racing and I am more than pleased! The car has been freshened up and is a BEAST! The power comes on almost from idle. (I thought a 292 cam wasn’t supposed to have alot of torque down low?) Then as the revs build it starts to come to life. As it approaches redline it’s screaming. How can I accurately describe the engine? Free revving. It just revs and quickly. Compared to before it feels like a lightweight flywheel is in the car. It just revs and fast!  To me, THIS is how a 2002 should run.

I have to thank Ken Blasko at Vintage BMW Racing.  He made this a breeze.  He was very flexible when it came to his schedule.  He did the work in a quick fashion.  He told me he only does one job at a time so he focuses all his attention on one project.  I can tell my car got his FULL attention.  His shop is great.  I was in awe at the shells waiting to be built, the engines on stands that were waiting to be dropped into customers cars or his race car, and the spare parts on the walls neatly marked and cataloged.  This came in handy when my head came back with bad news from the machine shop.  He had a head that was clean, had a valve job and just needed to be assembled.  He then checked the piston clearance to make sure I had plenty of room to run the 292 cam.  He went through the car, and fixed alot of little things that just make the car more reliable.  Motor mount, transmission mount, axle bolts, alternator bracket, etc.  He then found the carb was missing some parts and there were some parts stuck in the carb keeping the throat open.  He dealt with that as well as pointing out a bent diff mount that I will address when I upgrade my diff to a 3.91 LSD.  This was all in addition to fixing the oil leak from the front cover which was why the car was there in the first place.  Oh and he sent LOTS of pics showing the progress of the car.  What I also loved is that since he owns 2002s and races 2002s and builds 2002s, he KNOWS 2002s and how they should feel.  How they should run.  What to expect from certain upgrades and modifications.  Then he gives great advice on what to do.  Now that this engine spins up so freely, I look forward to the 5 speed and 3.91 LSD.  Those will add more quickness to the car as well.  Stay tuned for more upgrades to come!