The front wings are the most often-changed panel on the E30, either from crash damage or Rust. So if you need to get yours off, have a read of this before you get your spanners out.
Despite the variety of body styles the E30 was released in, the front wings are generally interchangeable between them. The exceptions to this are the M3 for obvious reasons, and the Cabriolet which is explained below.
Despite the general facelift that the E30 went through at the end of 1987, there was no change made to the shape of the front wings, which means that pre- and facelift wings can be swapped between cars with no headaches.
The wiring is present on all E30s for extra side repeaters, and a number of E30s took advantage of this by having extra indicators mounted to the wings.
These wings come with a pre-cut square hole with accompanying screw hole to attach the side repeater. If your car has side repeaters you can remove them if fitting a wing that doesn't have these holes cut, but it is not recommended to try cutting your own holes if you want side indicators. There's a very high chance that the hole will be too large meaning the indicators won't fit snugly, or that the hole won't be square making the indicator fit at an angle, or that you will do more severe damage to the panel in the form of buckling. Don't be a skinflint, buy the right wing in the first place.
Due to the deeper sills of the Cabriolet model, the front wings are incompatible with the other E30 body styles. Cabriolet wings have a longer section at the bottom to match the sill, so a standard wing will be too short. However, it is possible to weld the extra section on to standard front wings if needed.
Fortunately, pre- and facelift cabriolet wings are the same so if you're trying to source a replacement, they'll be a little easier to find.
- Torx T55 socket and drive
- 8mm socket
- 10mm socket
- 8mm spanner
- Phillips screwdriver
- Tiger seal or similar panel sealant
The first step is to take off the front bumper. This is probably the hardest part of the job since it requires being upside down. You need to undo the big locating pins that go underneath the bumper. They should drop down after a few turns, but if they're reluctant to drop then use a screwdriver to prise them down.
Once the pins are out, the bumper should pull forward; if it doesn't check for two screws on the tips of the bumper, located just inside the wheel arch. Be careful when pulling the bumper; it's easy to tug it too hard and rip the plugs out of the indicators, so be gentle. We don't need the bumper fully off the car, just forward enough to expose the bumper mounts on the wing.
Now you need to remove the front grille. This bit of plastic trim is fixed in place with two screws, and a number of push-on clips that will be visible when you open the bonnet. Undo the screws, pop off the clips, and gently pull the grille out.
There's some contention about whether the arch liner needs to come off or not. Some people say no, as the bolts it covers can be accessed from the other side, but that necessitates turning the tips of the bolts with a pair of needle nose pliers. I can't be bothered with all that and prefer to do a job properly, so we'll be getting the arch liner off. It also gives you a better chance to assess any lurking rust in the area.
Once you've done that, take your 10mm socket and undo the plastic nuts at the top of the arch, under the suspension tower:
Then unscrew the 8mm bolts holding on the front edge of the arch liner. There's three bolts here and one of them holds on the lower plastic guard which can stay on for this job.
Then move to the other side and undo the final screw holding in the arch liner. Once that's done a simple tug will bring down the liner and all the accumulated road muck that comes with it, so don't blame me if you get something in your eye while doing this.
Now that the arch liner is out, you can get to the internal bolts. To start with, go back to the bumper mount that overlaps the wing and the front valance and undo the 8mm bolt that you can access.
Then get your head inside the arch and get the internal bolt. It's the one with an enormous washer, since it's holding the bumper mount in place.
On the other side of the wheel arch you'll be able to see the two 8mm bolts that go into the A-pillar mounting tabs. You'll need some very long extensions to get to these, which is why some people approach them from the door side using needle nose pliers.
While you're on the floor, you can undo the final bottom screw which holds the bottom of the wing to the sill. Since this one is external and is normally exposed to all the road debris and winter salt, expect it to be pretty much rusted solid. If the screw heads have rusted away completely, be prepared to cut this one off. If you uncover rust on the sill, take the time to treat it properly before refitting the wing.
As you can see by the green plastic grommet in the wing, my car was fitted with SE side skirts, but that hasn't prevented the rust from getting in there; quite the opposite, so be prepared.
Get back to the front and undo the 8mm bolt that holds the front of the wing to the valance. Use an 8mm spanner; you'll struggle to use a socket in there around the headlights.
With all those odd bolts and screws dealt with, it's finally time to deal with the obvious ones. Open the bonnet and work your way through the six M8 bolts holding on the top edge of the wing. When these are done, the wing shouldn't be held on with anything other than the bead of seam sealer at its joint with the scuttle. Give it a gentle tug, or use a screwdriver to gently break the seal if needed, and then just lift the wing away from the car.
And that's it! You can now get the wing painted or chuck it in a skip, depending on its condition. Just remember to use seam sealer on that scuttle joint when it comes to refitting.