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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, Dec-08-2015, 03:28:38 PM   #1
Poorhouse
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Default 97 M3/4/5 Slicktop - Refresh

I graduated college about the time the E36 M3 came to the US.
It was love at first sight. After getting a decent job I test drove a couple and was not disappointed, if anything the car exceeded my high expectations.

I could technically afford one, but it would have been a big stretch, bigger than I was comfortable with. So I didn't get one then, figuring I would pickup one used somewhere down the line.

Somewhere down the line took a lot longer than expected. The sale of another project car yielded a nice profit and space in the garage. Having continually watched the E36 M market for the last few years I knew the cars weren't getting cheaper and it was time to act. Mrs. Doghouse was on board so the search began.

Finding the right balance between price, condition, work done, mods, etc, is tricky. I had a preference for a sedan, but would have taken a nice coupe, no convertibles, and manual trans was a must. I wanted to be comfortably under 150k miles. Accident free history and no rust were the primary concerns. Proper maintenance was important but I wasn't demanding something maintained to forum standards. I wanted to stay close to stock. Color wasn't as important, but I couldn't see myself in Techno Violet, and I'm not big on black. My first choice was either Estoril or Boston Green, followed by Alpine While then Silver.

Complicating the search is my location in NW Montana. There aren't any M3's here (well there weren't), so this would be an internet search.

I looked at low mile examples priced in the mid to high teens, heavily modded cars, beaters, lots of cars with questionable histories. Then 3 sedans turned up all around the same time.

Estoril/Modena 115k miles, 2 owners, unrepaired hail damage, decent maintenance history in Denver for $8k. I was first in line on this car. The owner received 17 inquires in 24 hours, including 4 offers for deposit and one guy upon hearing that offered to wire full asking price sight unseen. Seller decided to pull the car and re evaluate the market.

Estoril/Dove 70k miles, several owners, no wrecks, life long CA car, heavily modded with Dinan SC and full supporting mods. Seller was a BMW tech who had done all the mods and had owned the car for several years. I was a little scared of the mods on this one, but they were all high quality and appeared to have been done right. This one was on Ebay a couple times with the auctions not meeting reserve. Seller and I couldn't get together on price. He wanted high teens, I wouldn't go over $15k. Just sold on Ebay for $15k...

Arctic/Dove 113k miles, 2 owners, no accident history, decent maintenance history in Denver for $10k. This car was appealing because it is a slicktop. I really don't like sunroofs, the weight, the complications, the potential leaks. I hadn't planned on being picky on options, as egebhardt said, these aren't the picky years for E36 M3s. But, finding a slicktop was a big deal to me.
Even better were the other options, only one, I think the most expensive, M Forged wheels. My favorite E36 wheel. Otherwise it had nothing, no spoiler, no cruise, no fold down seat, no winter package (bought new in Denver!), 11 button OBC, no keyless entry. The only thing better would be if it had cloth, oh well.
Seller was very accommodating. Lots of pics, put the car on a lift and took pics, driving videos, etc. He disclosed it needed new tires and it had a clunk in the rear suspension. He had diagnosed a bad RSM and was including new Rouge RSMs.
He was open to a PPI. I was researching shops to have one done. While that was going on the weather was getting bad and we were discussing price. He agreed to $8750, so I threw caution to the wind and wired him the money.

Here's one of the sellers pics:



The only mods to the car are the lights and a Kenwood stereo. All stock parts were included.

Found a really quick shipper and the car was here the following weekend.

I took a phone pick coming off the ramp but I somehow either deleted it or failed to save it, unfortunate. Happily, the car looked great. Started right up after it's truck ride and idled smoothly. Took it for a drive and I was in heaven. It had been many years since I had been in an E36. The drive lived up to my memories and then some, even with a bad rear end clunk and bald tires.

Home and in the shop to take stock of what I bought.



Car is listing slightly to the right, the right RSM has totally failed.
One missing VIN sticker on the RF door. Seller disclosed a chip on the door, but did say on the VIN stickers were present. Not sure what happened here, the door has been painted, the color match is perfect, no tape lines or anything else tell tale.
Otherwise things are as described. All the other VIN stickers are in place. Interior is clean with some wear on the front seats. Everything works, pixel issue on the OBC, heater display is good.
Overall I'm pleased. Wife and friends think the car looks no more than a couple years old. I'm a bit more critical, but it is very nice.

Slicktop headliner:



Seats:





Rear with no headrests:



Shift knob, roundels, and floor mats replaced a couple years ago.





Door panels are pretty good.



Trunk is clean.





Kenwood. I'll be putting the factory radio back in.



Something for the aftermarket headlamps, not sure what they are.




The initial plan is to fix what needs fixing. I'm planning to return the car to basically stock. The only upgrades will be to things that improve the longevity of a weak factory part, ie. uprated RSM's or waterpump.
The only mods planned are a '99 3 spoke wheel and Stromung exhaust.
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97 M3/4/5 - Sold
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Last edited by Poorhouse; Tue, Dec-08-2015 at 04:10:34 PM.
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Old Tue, Dec-08-2015, 03:36:50 PM   #2
Poorhouse
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Default Re: 97 M3/4/5 Slicktop - Refresh

First up was replacing the RSM's.

Seller provided Rouge replacements. After a bit of research I decided to go with them.

I decided to replace the shocks as well with Sachs OEM type.





Nice shock towers.



Installed.




This is an easy job. Biggest PITA is removing all the trunk trim. This was my first time working on a BMW. Took me a while to figure out how everything comes out.


The second part of this job was getting tires. I want to drive this car year round. I work from home, so no commuting or salt exposure. They just started using magnesium chloride on the roads here in limited amts. I won't be taking it out when that stuff is fresh. I've got a '97 Land Cruiser that does the majority of my winter driving. Also note I coated the underside with Fluid Film.

Bought a set of beat up 7.5" Contours for cheap and a new set of studded 215/50's.




Let the good times roll.
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Last edited by Poorhouse; Tue, Dec-08-2015 at 04:01:17 PM.
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Old Tue, Dec-08-2015, 03:44:40 PM   #3
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Default Re: 97 M3/4/5 Slicktop - Refresh

the DDM thing you mentioned is the ballast for the HID headlight.
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Old Tue, Dec-08-2015, 03:44:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: 97 M3/4/5 Slicktop - Refresh

Next up was cooling system refresh.

The PO had just replaced things as needed, so a lot of original parts remained.

Both the radiator and expansion tank were original.

I replaced the rad, expansion tank (both behr, I'm already regretting not going OEM on the expansion tank), upper and lower hoses, thermostat, housing (OEM plastic), waterpump (Stewart), belts (tensioners were replaced
4k miles ago), assorted clips, hardwear, etc.

Also did an oil change to Mobil 1 0/40 and a Mann filter.

Replaced a nasty K & N air filter with a Mann.

This all went well. I found the car very easy to work on.

The only issue I had was bleeding the cooling system and making sure I have the proper level. I just finished this job last night.

Idled with bleeder open for a good 15 minutes until no more bubbles came out. I thought it was weird that the lower rad hose never seemed to flow hot coolant?

Took it for a 20 min highway drive after that and the temp gauge never went above half.



New parts on Jetta work bench.



This pic didn't turn out great. I was trying to capture how clean the orifaces are. No sign of decay. Car has had regular coolant flushes. The coolant that came out was nice and blue.

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Last edited by Poorhouse; Tue, Dec-08-2015 at 03:49:09 PM.
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Old Tue, Dec-08-2015, 03:50:28 PM   #5
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Default Re: 97 M3/4/5 Slicktop - Refresh

At this point I feel comfortable putting the car to use.

We'll see if anything else comes up.

I switched the turns back to OEM ambers already.

The seller included the very clean OEM tails. Unfortunately, he threw everything into a box with no packing. The inner lips on both tails broke...

So, I'm looking for nice OEM tails if anyone has a set.

Also planning to pull the OBC and do the Ebay rebuild unless there is a better option.
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Old Tue, Dec-08-2015, 03:53:48 PM   #6
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Default Re: 97 M3/4/5 Slicktop - Refresh

Quote:
Originally Posted by camdinans3 View Post
the DDM thing you mentioned is the ballast for the HID headlight.

That makes sense.

Any way to tell specifically what headlight setup I have?

I do have the OEM headlights which survived the trip.

I'm going to try out the HID's for a bit first though.
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Old Tue, Dec-08-2015, 04:38:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: 97 M3/4/5 Slicktop - Refresh

Hey! Congrats on the new acquisition! Good to see another clean sedan in good hands. Post a pic of your lights so we can see what you are working with.
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Old Tue, Dec-08-2015, 06:03:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: 97 M3/4/5 Slicktop - Refresh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doghouse View Post
That makes sense.

Any way to tell specifically what headlight setup I have?

I do have the OEM headlights which survived the trip.

I'm going to try out the HID's for a bit first though.
if i had to guess id say you had the DEPO or DJ auto epsiloid HID setup. I've had the DEPO's for like 7yrs now and while they're not bosch, they're fine.
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Old Tue, Dec-08-2015, 06:57:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: 97 M3/4/5 Slicktop - Refresh

Quote:
Originally Posted by camdinans3 View Post
if i had to guess id say you had the DEPO or DJ auto epsiloid HID setup. I've had the DEPO's for like 7yrs now and while they're not bosch, they're fine.

Winner, Winner!

They say DJAUTO on the lens.

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Old Tue, Dec-08-2015, 07:07:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: 97 M3/4/5 Slicktop - Refresh

Nice grab! My car is optioned very similarly to yours. Looks like you're on the right track, looking forward to updates.
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Discussing 97 M3/4/5 Slicktop - Refresh 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)