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Old Mon, Oct-17-2016, 09:51:04 PM   #1
nholmes
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Thumbs up 1998 E36 M3 Dakar HPDE Car - Picture Intensive

Thought I would post up a thread to chronicle the refresh progress on the E36M I recently picked up for track use.

This first part is a bit long winded, so get your popcorn or feel free to skip to the bottom if you'd like me to spare you the history lesson.

First a bit of history about me and cars:

Drove a few beater cars over the years (high school, military and college) until in 2001 I finally picked up a fairly nice car, 1957 Volkswagen beetle with a grafted in ragtop from a donor car:







I daily drove that car until 2005, which was the perfect car for when I lived in San Diego. Eventually I had to let it go as it was a pain in the ass to commute with. I thought this time I would get something "fast" because my VW wasn't amazing, even with the 1915cc motor I had built and the dual 40mm weber carburetors.

I saved up my pennies and purchased a 2000 Integra Type-R #933:







This car was eventually purchased by a gentleman from Japan that put it on a boat and shipped it back to its country of manufacture. USDM is popular in Japan, so this car being as rare as it was here in the states, made it even cooler. He had parts of the car resprayed and replaced the rear and front lights as the plastic was just a bit too worn for his taste.

You can read the thread from the new owner here:

http://forums.nwp4life.com/zerothread?id=11685&page=1

Notice the left hand drive:



Japan inspection (see the plate) and smog:



Finally at home (and already sitting on Spoon coilovers lol):



After having driven the Type-R for a few years stock and then with a JRSC for a short period, I found that I was craving more power. I grew up lusting after '60s muscle cars, so in my narrow mind, loud, raucous power was all that mattered. I hadn't ever set foot on a race track yet, so I was only focused on straight line power. I'll be the first to admit that I was completely naive and thought drag racing was all that mattered. The car was pretty much wasted on me and all that Japanese engineering was for nothing.

One night I was out cruising on the highway at a reasonable clip, probably going 70mph (I don't street race nor do I drive like an ******* on streets or highways) and I catch up to a gorgeous white STI also cruising along. I looked over at the driver out of respect (because I respect all car people, regardless of what they drive) and he immediately takes that glance as me wanting to race. It's hard to go ignored in a bright yellow Honda with a gigantic ricer wing on the back, even if it's all from the factory. He was nice enough to let me get a car length and a half in front of him before he dropped a gear and went WOT. It seemed like his car went from 65mph-95mph in a fraction of a second.

My jaw hit the floor. I sat there and watched him disappear into the distance while I continued to casually cruise along at 70mph.

Now, I've always been a car guy and I'll be the first to admit that I don't follow every make/model out there and memorize its specs or what it can do, but this seemed impossible. It was wizardry.

In my complete ignorance I had been driving around thinking I owned this amazingly fast car (in stock form it makes respectable track times and out of the box it's very well balanced) that could take all sorts of cars out there but this seemed like a whole different level.

I was sold.

The Type-R was designed from Honda to be their "race" model, built from the ground up to maximize performance with that chassis and attack the track. For me, the problem with this was that it was a limited production car, complete with rare color (phoenix yellow) and a unique numbered badge affixed to the armrest. In my track ignorance, I opted to sell it and find something "faster", since the car wasn't fast in a straight line.

I immediately started looking at STIs and Evos thinking it would make me "fast" and that I no longer owned a "fast" car. I wasn't sure what to get or if I could even justify the cost. Granted the IXs around this time (2007) were still fetching a pretty penny, I wasn't even sure if I could afford one.

I liked both platforms because they were fairly down tuned from the factory and could make gobs of power with minimal modifications. I started to get worried about the ringlands in the Subaru motors (I wasn't about to try and build a race motor to handle abuse) so the iron block of the Evo seemed like a better idea. It wasn't until I happened to see this video (granted it only shows half of the story, not the part where they are critical of the platform) that I was amazed and sold on the CT9A platform:


If a $30k Japanese car can do this, there is no way I would buy anything else!

I searched high and low and finally in 2008 I borrowed some money from family and took out a loan on a 4800 mile 2006 Evo IX GSR SE that was being sold by South Coast Mitsubishi. They wouldn't budge on the price $32,500 but I was at least able to talk them into throwing in some accessories like rain guards, vortex generator and a car cover. It was nice to finally have a mass production car I wouldn't feel bad abusing on the race track. I began to daily drive this car, which was amazing, even though it was very raw and lacked things like cruise control.

The day I got it home, 100% stock:





Still not knowing a thing about that part between the straights (the corners) I went right into power mods first. I picked-up a 3" catless turbo back exhaust and a dyno tune. This immediately unlocked the full power potential of the car and then some! I didn't know it yet, but this was too much car and power for me. I told myself that I will never sell this car. (never say never, right?)

Stock:


Tuned with a 3" TBE:


Eventually I was lucky enough to be able to obtain a very cheap daily driver, thus allowing me to garage the evo full time and keep it as a dedicated track car.

I started easy in 2009 with my first track day. It was here that I learned just how high the margin actually was, how little I actually knew about performance driving and that my car was making more power than I could handle.





On the skid pad with the HPDE school back in 2009. Like the low profile wing? Who needs aero when you don't know how to drive:



Slowly and over time, I got more and more serious with track focused modifications. I got more and more seat time allowing my laps to become consistent and faster. Bushings, coilovers, modded LCAs, RCK, custom tuned ACD, 12 plate rear diff and so on. It was hard for me to try and keep the car looking "nice" but also abusing it on the track. Numerous off road excursions at various tracks helped give my car free body modifications. I went through three front splitters, two front bumpers, two aftermarket undertrays and one driver's side fender liner. I was sick of keeping my car "nice" but also track ready.

It was stressful.










I tracked this car from 2009 until 2015, where in 2014 I started to find myself looking at other cars. I simply got bored with the Evo. Everyone told me to add power, as that would make things interesting again, but I didn't want to upset the balance. I'll be completely honest, I left a lot of time and room for growth on the table. The car was still very capable and I had a lot of room to grow, but I was bored with it.

I returned the car to stock and put it up for sale:







I spent many nights pouring over forums trying to figure out what I would want. I knew it was time to get something fun, but what would it be? Now that I'm not searching for a "highway" monster or a car that is just fast in a straight line, what would I be happy with? What do I want in a car? What's my budget? What car could I get that would look "good enough" but I wouldn't worry about how nice it was? I didn't want another nice car to stress over, that's for sure.

I needed something I could abuse without worry.

It was tough, but eventually I settled on a slightly older, higher mileage 2008 E92 M3. I was originally avoiding them because they were so heavy. The evo felt like a pig going from my Type-R so I knew that the E92 was going to be even worse. With all of my weight reduction on the Evo I was able to get it down to about 3250 (theoretical) pounds, but the E92 starts around 3700 pounds! I knew they were very capable cars because BMW doesn't make garbage and the previous M cars are very respectable. I knew that from reading Grassroots Motorsports and talking to other gear heads/track junkies over the years.

I still wasn't convinced though and then I heard it.

The exhaust note of any V8 will immediately turn me back into a 16 year old, drooling over old Mustangs and Chevelles. There's nothing like Detroit iron, but this was just as good. The S65 4.0L V8 is simply magic. I couldn't believe the motor could spin up so high. I listened to a friends and it happened again.

I was sold.

I worked out a budget for what I really wanted and found myself right back into the same trap I had with the Type-R and the Evo. A "unicorn" car that was fairly expensive (I have to be comfortable crashing the car and lighting that pile of money on fire) and "nice" that I had to once again worry about. The car I really wanted was a 2013 LRP E92M with the Fire Orange color. Limited production of 200 cars for North America. They were priced around $60k. I mentally wrestled with what I "wanted" and what was practical for a couple weeks.

Logic finally won out and I decided to get my show car or fancy car when I no longer like to track. I decided on an "average" E92 M3 in any color I could afford. Having the car at a lower price point would give me more room for mods and serious parts. I never got around to installing a rollbar in the Evo because I was too worried about taking a "nice" car and doing something to it that might hurt its resale value or make it a permanent track car.

In late 2015, I started looking at E92 M3s across the country and found one on AutoTrader in Houston (I live near San Francisco, Ca) with no pictures. It was a 2008 with 101,000 miles but was priced in salvaged car territory. It was listed for $20k flat. A steal if the car was sound. The one buyer ahead of me fell through with their verbal agreement to see the car in person, so it was on. I ran the carfax and it came up clean. I had the car taken to a local shop for a PPI and a compression test. Everything was great and the PPI revealed a few minor issues I was planning to address later. I called my credit union, had them overnight a check and booked a redeye that Friday to Houston. Weather in Houston forced me to wait in Dallas. There was no way I was going to be able to make it in time had I waited for the weather to clear. How long is the drive? Four hours? Rental car here I come! I booked a $100 rental car and made the drive. Dropped the rental off (ironically) at the Houston airport and then grabbed an Uber to the dealership. The check beat me to the dealership by four hours. Finalized the paperwork and hit the highway that Friday evening at 6pm. I made it to my friend's house in L.A. that Sunday.

The day I picked it up Saturday 10/31/2015:



Got the car home and began the refresh on it to prepare it for track use.

Fluids
Belts
Pulleys
Water pump
Thermostat
Radiator
Plugs
Throttle actuators
Rod bearings
Baffled pan
Brembo BBK
Rollbar
Six point harnesses
Fixed back racing seats
Tune
Exhaust

















Tracked it from March until August working up to turning off DSC on RWD. Keep in mind, up until this point I had about seven years of AWD track experience and zero with a rear wheel drive car:








So after seven plus years of tracking, five track days, one session and six laps in the E92M, I had my first off road incident that required a tow truck to get it home:







I count my blessings all the time and I'm very grateful that the safety equipment did its job. I'm glad I had a HANS and unless I'm running OEM belts and airbags, I will always run a HANS. I regret not checking my passenger before we went out on track. He had never used a six point before, so he wasn't familiar with proper adjustment. He is faster in his E92M than I was (about 10s faster actually) but he runs with a Schroth ASM four point harness that turns into a three point in a crash. Because of this, points five and six were loose, allowing him to slide down slightly under the cam buckle. This severely bruised his tailbone and degloved one of his testicles. I'm 100% at fault and I'm very grateful that he didn't sue. Everything was returned to normal and he got to keep everything, but it could have been far, far worse.

Cars can be replaced, people cannot.

So I eventually got rid of the car and thought long and hard about what to do next. Most of my friends that are car people or lack a lot of track experience wanted me to get another E92M. I too wanted to get another E92M. I loved the styling, the V8 and I knew my way all around the car now that I did all of that maintenance and the rod bearings before. Not to mention, I had a lot of parts I could use again. It seemed like a no-brainer.

Fear is a powerful thing. So is wisdom. Not that I'm a fan of autofellatio, but I felt I had enough wisdom now to know that: A. The E92M was too much car for me in a RWD layout. B. I should try and go with something lighter so I have a greater margin for mistakes and C. Something cheaper that I can learn on seems like a good way to go as well.

After having worked on my E92M, I had great respect for the engineers at BMW. I could see that a lot of consideration was given to the mechanics that have to work on the cars. They really thought a bit about points of mechanical failure and parts that would see regular service. While working on my Evo, it never seemed like the Japanese engineers at Mitsubishi thought twice about removing and replacing parts and service items. This extra care from BMW impressed me and made me think more about their cars and not just lap times. I had always liked the E46M but looking at used ones the prices on decent, low mileage examples can reach up to the bottom end price of an E92M in some cases. At that point, why not just get an E92M?

The prices for an E36M felt right to me. Used cars ran $5k for a beater and up to $12k+ for a well maintained example. Prices for parts where reasonable (unlike the E92M in my humble opinion, but remember I'm coming from evo pricing here) and the platform had already been put through its paces in motorsports, so all the weak points and solutions to them had been found. The chassis is still raw and light, which when I drove mine, it immediately felt a lot like my Type-R, which was a nice surprise. To be honest, as much as I loved my E92M, it did feel a bit numb and disconnected when on track. I loved how much my Evo was point and shoot so I longed for that once more.


Today:

Typically I try to avoid "unicorns", rare colors or limited editions for track use as they tend to be more expensive to run (for various reasons) or because as a car guy, it kinda breaks my heart to see collectable cars thrashed.

I started to comb over Craigslist looking for a diamond in the rough under $10k. I wasn't expecting perfect for a twenty year old car for less than ten grand, but I knew if I waited I might find something that met my basics. It was actually pretty overwhelming, the sheer number of cars out there. They all ran the spectrum from daily driven cars that needed everything, to overpriced garage queens that had rubber failing simply from age.

The more I searched, the more I found that green, blue, red and yellow were quite uncommon. That piqued my interest and set off my "unicorn" alarm, albeit on a much lower scale than something like Byzanz or even a 1995 LTW. I convinced myself that if I could get one at a low enough price, I'll get an uncommon color even though I wanted to buy this car to work on car control.

I ended up seeing naraM's post here on m3forum, but he wasn't willing to ship. The car was priced at $12k and with another $1k for shipping I didn't think it was going to be worth it. I had a hard time paying an extra $6k just for a color. Looking to purchase another vehicle, naraM dropped the price on his M3 to $9k. He reached out to me to see if we could make something work since he was interested in selling the car, but the year, miles and asking price didn't fly with my credit union. I would have paid cash, but we're using that money on home restoration work right now, so a loan would be ideal.

We went back and forth, but we couldn't get to a price that worked for us. naraM never ran a carfax on the car, so wasn't aware of the reported accident. The auto check for whatever reason didn't have any mention of prior accident history. He finally decided to run a carfax and discovered the prior history. He was disappointed and felt he had misrepresented the car, so dropped the price to a very reasonable $6k. At that price, I knew I could make it work even shipping the car across the country to CA. I gave him a good faith deposit and had the car inspected, including a leakdown test. Car needed a lot of work. It ran fine, but it had all the trappings of a 1998 E36 M3 with 183,000 miles on it. Leaks everywhere, detent pins are roached, most of the rubber is flaking, shifter is sloppy... you get the picture. I knew that the car was going to need at least another $4k to get it to the "magic $10k" number that makes an E36 M3 run like new again.













After three weeks, the car finally made it to California and was in my possession.





Brought my old vanity plate along for the drive home:



I finally got it onto my lift after a smog test and have begun the teardown to get it ready for next spring. With my driveway blocked due to construction on the house, this is a great time to do a refresh on it.





The goal here is to get the car into a state that's reliable under race conditions in 100*F heat. Once that's complete, I'll begin tracking it and taking it to skid pad events to work on car control.

Shifter lean:





New mirrors:





Z3M rad:



Brake refresh (and SS lines, Ti shims and pads) all four corners:



Front strut tower bar:



GC race camber plates:



Redline Goods alcantara steering wheel cover with padding:



Rust is just flaking off the block. I'm going to hit this with some Naval Jelly and high temp paint here soon:



Prepping to drop the trans for the detent pins and to address a few leaks:



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Last edited by nholmes; Tue, Jan-24-2017 at 07:35:50 PM. Reason: typoz
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Old Mon, Oct-17-2016, 11:17:42 PM   #2
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Default Re: 1998 E36 M3 Dakar HPDE Car - Picture Intensive

Nice, I always enjoy build threads like these. Looks like you're making quick work of it so far. Looking forward to seeing your progress and part selection.

Damn, 50% reduction in asking price is pretty drastic, care to share details on the accident/damage?

Which brake lines are those? EDIT: found my answer
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Old Mon, Oct-17-2016, 11:23:29 PM   #3
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Default Re: 1998 E36 M3 Dakar HPDE Car - Picture Intensive

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Nice, I always enjoy build threads like these. Looks like you're making quick work of it so far. Looking forward to seeing your progress and part selection.

Damn, 50% reduction in asking price is pretty drastic, care to share details on the accident/damage?

Which brake lines are those?
I forgot to go into that, actually.

The car was hit on the passenger rear. I asked the shop out in NJ doing the inspection to scrutinize that area of the car and if they found anything egregious to let me know. I was ready to walk away as I also had my eye on a local silver one with 101,000 miles on it for $8500.

They couldn't find anything and now that I've been under the car, I can't really find anything either. Car looks straight but could use an alignment to reveal anything serious, but a very close look at all of the suspension components on that side everything looks original. All of the rust at the back of the car is the same, so I'm assuming that it was mostly cosmetic. I'm comfortable with that since this is a dedicated track car anyway.

Most of my parts will be leaning towards the cheaper side of things for the time being. Since I feel there is a chance I might part ways with this car, I'm not buying super fancy stuff.

The brake lines are from Bimmerworld. Not super sure of the quality, but most of their stuff has been legit thus far IMO.
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Old Mon, Oct-17-2016, 11:34:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: 1998 E36 M3 Dakar HPDE Car - Picture Intensive

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This severely bruised his tailbone and degloved one of his testicles.
Great thread! One thing though, WTF is THAT?
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Old Mon, Oct-17-2016, 11:35:16 PM   #5
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Default Re: 1998 E36 M3 Dakar HPDE Car - Picture Intensive

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Great thread! One thing though, WTF is THAT?
Yeah, I have a long history with cars.



You should google that, but not while eating and have safesearch turned on.

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Old Mon, Oct-17-2016, 11:44:53 PM   #6
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Default Re: 1998 E36 M3 Dakar HPDE Car - Picture Intensive

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Yeah, I have a long history with cars.



You should google that, but not while eating and have safesearch turned on.

I'll take a hard pass on googling it, but one thing is for sure, I'll tighten up my 6-point a bit more the next go-around
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Old Mon, Oct-17-2016, 11:46:45 PM   #7
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Default Re: 1998 E36 M3 Dakar HPDE Car - Picture Intensive

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I'll take a hard pass on googling it, but one thing is for sure, I'll tighten up my 6-point a bit more the next go-around


My injuries were mostly chest bruising, a couple of pulled muscles in my spine and some moderate tail bone bruising.
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Old Mon, Oct-17-2016, 11:52:41 PM   #8
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Default Re: 1998 E36 M3 Dakar HPDE Car - Picture Intensive

You had me sold with the Yellow R

Great choice in cars and that was an awesome deal on the Dakar!

Looking forward to following this thread.
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Old Tue, Oct-18-2016, 12:10:50 AM   #9
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Default Re: 1998 E36 M3 Dakar HPDE Car - Picture Intensive

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My injuries were mostly chest bruising, a couple of pulled muscles in my spine and some moderate tail bone bruising.
Yeah apparently I skimmed over the whole degloved testicle thing. I just googled it and stuck with text. Eesh. Glad to hear that everyone has recovered!
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Old Tue, Oct-18-2016, 04:31:26 PM   #10
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Default Re: 1998 E36 M3 Dakar HPDE Car - Picture Intensive

Looks like the lollipops are roached:



Got the clutch slave out:

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Discussing 1998 E36 M3 Dakar HPDE Car - Picture Intensive in the Member Journals Forum - Do you have a long term project you would like to share with the community? Use this forum to create a single thread which you can update over time to document the progress. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)