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E36 M3 (1992-1999) {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999


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Old Tue, Jan-17-2017, 08:22:57 PM   #1
SQ13
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Default Thoughts on this E36 for DD use?

Edit: Please see post #79.

Hi, friends. I know, not another "is it worth it" thread, but I think each case is different and it doesn't hurt to ask. For somewhat TL;DR version, read between the two red lines.

I'm looking to retire my M3 from DD use and replace it with a $6k car. My requirements are that it be a small car, somewhat roomy inside, manual transmission, low seats, and trunk space similar to the E36 and E46. For comparison, an E9X is a bit large, driver seating area feels cramped, and with driver seat at its lowest position, it's still too high and kinda makes me sick. The E36 (M and non-M) and E46 non-M seem to meet my requirements pretty well, and I can't think of cars from any other brand I'd be interested in which fit the bill. Because I know my E46 very well, an E36 or another E46 would be fairly easy to work on. Honestly I keep going back to an E36 M3 because they're so badass (subjective), and I've been itching to add one to my collection. I don't really want a low mileage, pristine M3 because I would feel bad if it takes a beating due to the large number of retarded drivers out there.

_____________________________________________

So I found this red/black 1998 E36 M3 sedan that will be put up for sale by a reputable guy once it's restored, mechanically, for $6-7k. 190k miles on chassis. Original motor had a head gasket leak, so it's getting a 70k mile US S52 with TMS Stage 3 kit from a dedicated track car (read well-maintained) that's getting an S54.

Exterior: 6/10
Interior: 8/10
Mechanically once all the work is done: 9.5/10 (because nothing is perfect)

Exterior is decent. I will need to do the following: properly repaint driver mirror and rear wing, replace hood and trunk BMW emblems, repaint/touch up damaged areas near trunk, replace left tail light (will probably switch everything to Euro clears). Missing rear window rubber seals will be installed before sale. Front seals/cowl, as well as the rest of the rubber pieces on exterior are in great shape. Rock chips, which are expected and not a big deal. Southern car with no rust. A proper detail will bring the paint back to life. My choice of staggered 18" Apex ARC-8s or OE five-spoke wheels.

Interior is dusty but will be cleaned before sale. Doesn't smell terrible like a lot of used cars. Headliner is good, but glovebox has sag. Front seats will be replaced with pristine black vaders before sale. The original torn up steering wheel will be replaced with another ugly four spoke wheel in good condition before sale. I will need to replace shift knob with OE shift knob. Rear seats appear to be in great condition with minimal wear.

Mechanically, the car will be in great shape once it's done. New motor has fairly low miles on it, with VANOS and sprocket nut addressed. New cooling system components will be installed. While the motor is out, transmission will receive a new clutch if necessary. 5th gear shifter lean is present and will be addressed before sale. A Z3R steering rack will be installed before sale. Giubo and other drivetrain components will be replaced if necessary. RTAB pockets have not been reinforced, and RTABs are fairly new. I forgot to ask about RSM reinforcement, but if they're not, it's an easy fix.

_____________________________________________

Car has some mods including UUC SSK, shift knob, SS brake lines, drilled and slotted rotors (likely Centric), wheels if I want the ARC-8s, Bilstein shocks with H&R springs, and header-back exhaust. Forgot the brand, I think it was Borla. Besides possibly adding replica LTW wing and front lip, I wouldn't be doing any further modifications, just maintenance. I may need the extra downforce (bro) if I ever autocross/track the car.

Once the car is completed, I'll be able to get a better look at it outside, inside, and under. What I like about this car is that although it needs some cosmetic fixes, it will be near perfect mechanically. The cosmetic issues that I highlighted can be addressed fairly cheaply.

What do you think? TIA























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Old Tue, Jan-17-2017, 09:02:07 PM   #2
zhp43867
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Default Re: Thoughts on this E36 for DD use?

For a DD? Yes. The car will never be a queen (like most other peoples' cars on here are)- but most don't DD them.

It is far from where it is promised to be when it's "restored" so I'd make sure all work is done as promised. It's certainly not a straightforward sale, car or story, but it sounds promising.

My conclusion: it's not a choice a more conservative person would make, but I'm not very risk averse and would seriously consider it.

PS: Vaders sit higher than the sport seats do, so that option may not be as great as it first sounds. E36s make great DDs IMO. It is much cheaper to maintain than an E46 M3.
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Old Tue, Jan-17-2017, 10:02:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: Thoughts on this E36 for DD use?

With all that work -- newer engine with mods, nice vaders, trans detents fixed the $6000 seems like a pretty good deal. I would not want a red car, but that is personal preference. It looks like it has at least one area of questionable quality respray.
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Old Tue, Jan-17-2017, 11:24:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: Thoughts on this E36 for DD use?

Why would the guy dump a bunch of money into it only to turn around and sell it for 6K? Doesn't seem like a very logical thing to do.
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Old Tue, Jan-17-2017, 11:46:38 PM   #5
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Default Re: Thoughts on this E36 for DD use?

It's seen a lot of sun, that's for sure. And I agree that it looks like it's seen paint, which doesn't appear to be good quality. Personally, I don't think you'd be getting a great deal.

You seem to think it will be "perfect" mechanically. You're getting a car with an engine swap that someone is doing specifically to make a sale. That usually doesn't yield the cleanest work. You're also getting a 200K mile car that's been sitting long enough to collect that level of dust and filth. The car isn't worth anything as it sits. I'm sure the seller knows that. Ask yourself how much that engine and M badge is worth to you. The shell is pretty beat, and you WILL have mechanical stuff popping up, I'd bet on it.

I worry that you'd start seeing paint failure pop up all over the place. It's clearly seen more sun than wax. All the exterior rubber is shot and dry cracking.

You're paying a hell of a premium to have an M3 over other cars, so I'd just put that into prospective. An E46 330ci, which is a better DD IMO, can be had for about the same money or cheaper, in nicer condition with less mileage on it. A base E36, even cheaper.

I guess you have to make the decision:
-Do you want to pay a premium for the M badge?
-Would you rather take a hit on condition to have the M badge, or take a hit on the cool factor to have something in better shape (330ci or Base E36)?


I'd say $6K is fair *if* the issues you mentioned are taken care of, but obviously only because of the engine going in it. Not a good deal, but a fair one. As someone who has a hellrot M3 sedan, I'm going it points for color combo, as I love that. Still, I'd look long and hard at that paint and the rubber trim work.

FWIW, he's a review I did of the E36 M3 vs the E46 330ci. I'd highly recommend considering a 330ci for a DD. I love mine.
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=447262
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Old Wed, Jan-18-2017, 01:03:16 AM   #6
SQ13
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Default Re: Thoughts on this E36 for DD use?

I like red. Ideally I'd want an E36 in a bold color like red, Estoril, TV, BG, etc. Paint on driver mirror and wing are pretty bad, and that leads me to some confusion.. Seller says the car has single stage paint from the factory (Hellrot 314), and the paint damage is due to poor base + clear respray job in the affected areas and parking in the sun. He said the clear coat is failing in the affected areas, and the rest of the paint is faded due to sun. I just tried searching and am finding conflicting answers. Some people are saying clear coat was mixed in with paint from the factory, and others are saying Hellrot 314 is dual stage/base + clear. Just trying to figure out what the situation is with the car's respray history.

The car's body panels have original VIN tags. Carfax and Vehicle History Report show no collisions and no body work. Clean Texas title.

Regarding the story of the car, this is what I've been told: the car was owned by the owner of a local tuning shop, COBB Tuning. He sold it about six months ago due to the head gasket leak to the current owner, who is the shop foreman for another reputable shop here, for $1,500. He likes to part M3s out or bring them back to life during his free time, and he also owns 3 M3s himself. I guess this one was worth reviving. He said he was going rebuild the current motor, but he ended up getting the 70k mile one for free. Again, the car it's coming from just had an S54 put in it at this shop; owner of the donor motor initially tried to sell it but gave it away because current owner didn't want to buy it for $1,000. In the end, he got the car for cheap, will get it back up and running, and eventually sell it for a profit. He thinks the car should be completed by the end of the month, if he doesn't get too busy at the shop. It's been sitting like this for six months so idk. I haven't known him for long, but other M owners in the area say he's trustworthy. But I'll never know if what I've been told is true or false.

If I were to look into buying the car when it's completed, I would be inspecting it myself, as well as have a shop near my home that knows the E36 M3 well to do a PPI. I'd be getting a list of all the parts that were replaced, which could be checked for during PPI. All of the weatherstripping looked fine under my phone's flashlight, besides the back window's. When it's up and running I could get a better look at it under better lighting.

In the meantime, I'll continue searching for manual, non-M E36 and E46 cars. Haven't had any luck yet. A sedan would be preferable, but damn, E46 sedan's tail lights are pretty ugly. Rip. Thanks for posting the review. I'll read through it.
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Old Wed, Jan-18-2017, 01:30:25 AM   #7
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Default Re: Thoughts on this E36 for DD use?

Also, fwiw, just wanted to add that my E46 M3 is in pretty good condition. Sure, exterior has some defects such as a dent on the A pillar, a few rock chips, replaced rear bumper due to a retard hitting me, recently resprayed front bumper bc it was torn up, and the presence of the damned sunroof, but I generally keep it clean, besides rubber marks received from track use (authentic battle scars?). The rear seat area is stripped, but because the panels and seats are literally in 10/10 condition, I've vacuum sealed and preserved them in hopes of reverting back to stock in the future. Mechanically, I've been trying to over-maintain the car and keep it leak-free, which is especially important when tracking. Point is, I try to keep my E46 in great condition both inside and out, and use quality parts on it. I'm not one of those people who owns a junk E46 that runs like shit. I would really like to have an E36 M3, but I don't want to work with more than around $6k right now. Just a little background. Maybe I'll hold off for now, we'll see.
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Old Wed, Jan-18-2017, 01:31:35 AM   #8
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Default Re: Thoughts on this E36 for DD use?

I dunno man, that car seems _beat_

What good is a car that is 9.5/10 mechanically that looks like a sh!tbox? Do you really want to drive it in that state of being? I'm not saying it has to be a Garage Queen but as an enthusiast, wouldn't you take some pride of ownership and want to sympathetically restore the really worn trim, paint, bits, etc.

Sorry to piss in your Cheerios but a car that obviously hasn't been cared for (over ~200k miles) is going to give you no end of problems and gnaw away at your checking account.
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Old Wed, Jan-18-2017, 01:37:33 AM   #9
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Default Re: Thoughts on this E36 for DD use?

I'd rather have a car that looked crappie and drove great than one that looked great and drove crappie. I am interested in the driving not the looks. If you can get both, great, but with $6k you have to get lucky.
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Old Wed, Jan-18-2017, 01:40:40 AM   #10
SQ13
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Default Re: Thoughts on this E36 for DD use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ///Minivan View Post
I dunno man, that car seems _beat_

What good is a car that is 9.5/10 mechanically that looks like a sh!tbox? Do you really want to drive it in that state of being? I'm not saying it has to be a Garage Queen but as an enthusiast, wouldn't you take some pride of ownership and want to sympathetically restore the really worn trim, paint, bits, etc.

Sorry to piss in your Cheerios but a car that obviously hasn't been cared for (over ~200k miles) is going to give you no end of problems and gnaw away at your checking account.
Yeah as stated somewhere in my wall of texts, I would want to bring it back to life cosmetically as well, which would include OE shift knob, new tail lights, replace hood and trunk emblems, respray damaged paint areas, and try to bring paint back to life with a proper detail, maybe add cquartz coating as well. But you're right, it may run into other issues like AC, door lock, window regulator, radio failure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pbonsalb View Post
I'd rather have a car that looked crappie and drove great than one that looked great and drove crappie. I am interested in the driving not the looks. If you can get both, great, but with $6k you have to get lucky.
This was my initial thought process, since I'm looking for a DD, not a garage queen. My budget doesn't allow me to fork out $10-15k on a better E36 at this time. 1.5 years ago, yes, but at this time I have other expenses as well.

Edit: And if money wasn't an issue...
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=564481
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Discussing Thoughts on this E36 for DD use? in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999 at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)