PROJECT CAR: BMW M3 E36 SALOON - Path to bankruptcy or endless smiles?

OcUK Staff
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Hi there


So yesterday I collected this:


BMW_M3_Saloon.jpg



What is it?

1995 BMW M3 E36 Saloon which 426 units were produced in RHD Saloon.
3.0l Straight 6 single vanos, producing 286HP at 7000rpm.
115,000 miles
Paid £10,900
Getting its first £115 worth of Vpower.
Dry stored by current owner for 6-7 years, a track project that never started.
Previous owner used as a daily for 5 years
Then 6 owners previous to them, thankfully it seems to not have had a chavtastic owner hence originality.
Full service history though a lot at specialist and mainly oil changes.

The car needs good paint correction with some scratches and chips filling in. The interior needs a deep cleaning and the leather treating or replacing.

The main thing is the car is totally original, un-modified apart from the Alarm siren been remove and the exhaust not sure if that is original or not, I suspect not on a 27yr car.


The following items from driving it I have discovered need attention:
- Rear number plate bulb is out according to the onboard computer
- Remote central locking does not work, but central locking works when you turn the key, maybe something to do with the alarm been removed from under bonnet.
- Stiff / firm accelerator pedal
- Secondary air pump is noisy on a cold start, last for about 45-60s
- Maybe a very minor oil leak from engine or power steering, but not enough to drip or its a past leak, need to investigate.
- Small patch of corrosion on rear quarter, no other rust found so far.
- All the plastic black trims and handles need restoration work or painting
- Scuttle panel is faded and cracked
- Parts of rear rubber window trim missing in top corners
- Exhaust seems lose at rear, suspect no hangars in use.
- Wheels have some corrosion and not premium tyres
- Washer bottled has a minor leak, no doubt a seal.


Quite a list to crack on with plus whatever else I find, as to how it drives well it makes a whiring loud bus type noise at cold start which I suspect is the secondary air pump as it goes away after a minute, the car drives absolutely fine, it is amazing that the interior does not have one single rattle, suspension has no clunks or knocks and it rides a rough badly surface road so well, all gears and clutch are easy and it revs all the way out, power is poor low down which was a feature of the 3.0 but also a service to the vanos could help this, pulls to 7000rpm with ease, no smoke is emitted, Steering is light but tight and it seems to drive fine, very small car on the road compared to modern cars and really comfortable with an amazing view out, lots of glass and very small pillars so no view obstructions. £295 tax for the year and in 13 years time, tax free, economy so far seems to be 22-26mpg on A/B roads, it is a 5 speed been a 3.0 litre. Brakes work well and surprisingly with zero judder, so seems disc and pads are in good order. Original radio/CD player still works, all electric windows work, electric mirrors, everything still works, though the clock seems to keep losing the time whenever car is turned off, yet the battery is clearly fine.


Jobs to action immediately:

- New throttle cable and throttle pedal, not going to try and re-grease the old ones as they are a safety concern and these old cars had a habit of snapping the cables or staying wide open throttle, I believe they are like £40 each, so should be sub £100 to replace and will hopefully make the pedal less firm/sticky.
- Rear windscreen seals to prevent any water ingression.


Jobs to do soon:

- Clean entire under-side, then try and locate any potential fluid leaks and repair.
- Remove all trim, restore / paint.
- Polish and paint correct - Going to make this my first car I take a DA polisher too and learn, if I mess up then off to the body shop it goes, but I will start with the rear spoiler.
- New gas struts for boot lid.
- Strip intake system down, clean the throttle bodies, change spark plugs, air filter etc.
- Interior cleanse and replace parts of trim that cannot be restored.

Distant future jobs:

- Wheels refurbished and new matching tyres.
- Rear quarter rust and any new rust located on underside, brake lines if not previous done.


It will be an ongoing project, it is also my only car with 4 doors so will be used for taking my Ma to places and it is also probably the comfiest car.
I doubt it will lose any more, they were the unloved M3's because they looked little to no different than a regular 3 series, but over time they seem to have become now much loved M3, maybe because they have far less issues, particular the 3.0 compared to the later 3.2 and E46 generation.

However it is not an investment, it is a project car and see where I go with it and having friends who have also fully restored E36 before I know people who can do work on it I cannot complete, should the worse happen a replacement second hand engine is 5k, gearbox £500 and a differential £500-1000, so in short apart from engine popping replacement major parts are not a whole lot of money.

Insurance was crazy, CHEAP, £186 for myself, Briony and my Mother on the insurance. Only the Corvette is cheaper at like £110 !
 
Man of Honour
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I remember the first time I got taken out in one of these, came from my A4 company car into a customers car and it felt like a rocket ship.

Good car to work on but I’d focus on making it a mint standard car running like a kitten over anything none standard.
 
Soldato
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Ah i love these, the 4 door E36 is easily my favourite M3, has touring car vibes for me being a proper 4 door saloon but love how understated it is.

i really wanted one a few years ago after i had my Subaru STi but building a house took priority and now I've got kids there's no chance as i've got no time or money! :(
 
OcUK Staff
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I remember the first time I got taken out in one of these, came from my A4 company car into a customers car and it felt like a rocket ship.

Good car to work on but I’d focus on making it a mint standard car running like a kitten over anything none standard.

That is the plan, restore it, not mod it.

First £250 spent at BMW just, all parts still in production which is good news.
- Throttle cable - £35
- Throttle pedal - £20
- Rear screen rubber seal, complete kit. - £60
- Diff fluid (gonna change diff fluid and fix the leak) - £35
- Front scuttle panel (both parts) - £50
- Air filter - £25
- Side skirt clips as a couple are broken and I need to remove for further rust inspection - £25



Gonna buy plugs online as BMW wanted like £100 for Bosch ones, will see how NGK prices are, rear boot gas struts were £130 :eek: so I will stick with just lifting the boot for now and rear number plate bulbs were £40, LOL. New exhaust hangers £140 ! Will wait until I've inspected before buying as may not need and I've seen ones in good condition on Ebay for £35

BMW prices for some items really cheap and fair, other items, HAHA.

Will keep me busy this weekend, will order plugs online if not much cheaper or will call back and add to the order.
 
OcUK Staff
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Be a nice car that for day to day duties if you are not hung up on tech.

I am not a big tech user in cars, guess it is because my cars don't have much tech in them and even the ones that have a Satnav built in I still plonk a phone in windscreen and use WAZE.

It has comfy seats, electric windows, sunroof a radio what more could I need. :D

Ordered the plugs from BMW seems the S50B30 can get funny over traditional plugs and the 4 point electrode plug is what should really be used, so will stick with what is recommended.
 
Soldato
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When I had my 3.2 coupe back in the day, the clutch used to get really spongey in the summer during heavy use. At its worst it became hard to engage 1st and reverse without burying the pedal into the carpet. Under warranty BMW fitted a ‘revised’ braided clutch hose and resolved the problem. Might want to check that.

I loved my E36 and it’s Vader seats. Mine was Hellrot (red), but I always lusted after one in techno violet.
 
Associate
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I know it shows a compact but if the part numbers match, £23 a strut isn't too shabby!

Or this one...

 
Associate
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Looks nice. What's the paintwork like, from the picture it looks pretty good but can't really tell. Had a friend who had one of these as well and always liked them
 
OcUK Staff
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Looks nice. What's the paintwork like, from the picture it looks pretty good but can't really tell. Had a friend who had one of these as well and always liked them

Average, few stone chips, light scratches, lots of swirling and a little corrosion on rear panel, machine polish will sort the swirls and maybe some finer scratches, touch up pen on the rest for now, it is by no means a show car.
 
Soldato
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Autodoc might have some parts that are reasonably priced. I'm sure they're oem spec/or oem with badges not on.

Looks great Gibbo, good buy/investment.
 
Soldato
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Sounds like a fun project, I do love the look of the E36 and this must be about as good as they got.

Have you considered filming/recording the restoration and putting on YouTube or similar? I'm sure you're busy but that kind of content is pretty popular I think.
 
Caporegime
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My favourite M3, always loved the subtle aspect of the 4 door e36.

And agree, videoing it for your channel is a good idea.

Great project! I’ll follow this with interest. :cool:

I can well imagine it will fill your empty weekends, I mean, it’s not like you already have a fleet to clean and fettle or anything… :p :D
 
OcUK Staff
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Autodoc might have some parts that are reasonably priced. I'm sure they're oem spec/or oem with badges not on.

Looks great Gibbo, good buy/investment.

Thank you.
Some parts BMW prices seem decent, others not so, the gas struts BMW wanted £130 for, just got some British made to fit items for £39 .

Sounds like a fun project, I do love the look of the E36 and this must be about as good as they got.

Have you considered filming/recording the restoration and putting on YouTube or similar? I'm sure you're busy but that kind of content is pretty popular I think.

I'd love to do this, but I've never been that keen on the whole fuss and stress, I just like to get on with stuff, I will try to take plenty of pictures though and maybe the odd video.

My favourite M3, always loved the subtle aspect of the 4 door e36.

And agree, videoing it for your channel is a good idea.

Great project! I’ll follow this with interest. :cool:

I can well imagine it will fill your empty weekends, I mean, it’s not like you already have a fleet to clean and fettle or anything… :p :D


Yeah it will keep me busy for sure. :)
 
OcUK Staff
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Hi there

So I am sure the manual will answer all these questions (I will read it at somepoint).

The door card suggest 235 tyres all round, yet the rear is 235 but front is 225 and 36psi all round, I've set the pressure. I assume the door card at 235 section all round is correct and maybe someone has confused the Saloon and Coupe tyres as I think the Coupe ran staggered sizes?

Second been looking in the engine bay and discovered what seems to be AC with no belt running to it, but at the same time I can't see any hard lines under the bonnet or anything in the cabin which suggest an AC button, rang BMW and they also said it looks like the car has the AC compressor but did not have climate control and so were unsure themselves.

A picture of the what I think is AC:

AC1.jpg



It is obvious it has not turned in a very long time, will have a closer look later to see if I can see any pipes running from it, but this would be AC I assume?

Were BMW fitting some of the hardware even if option was not ticked back in the day maybe?
 
Man of Honour
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Were BMW fitting some of the hardware even if option was not ticked back in the day maybe?

I'd be very surprised if back in 1994 BMW were fitting air conditioning compressors to cars not optioned with air conditioning - it was a rare and expensive option. I'd imagine this car was fitted with it from the factory and at some point it has failed and the owner decided not to repair it.

On a related note, how do you keep up with this many cars? Surely it gets to the point where remembering which one needs a service/MOT on which date etc begins to be a job in itself, let alone finding the time to use each of the cars? :eek:
 
OcUK Staff
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I'd be very surprised if back in 1994 BMW were fitting air conditioning compressors to cars not optioned with air conditioning - it was a rare and expensive option. I'd imagine this car was fitted with it from the factory and at some point it has failed and the owner decided not to repair it.

On a related note, how do you keep up with this many cars? Surely it gets to the point where remembering which one needs a service/MOT on which date etc begins to be a job in itself, let alone finding the time to use each of the cars? :eek:

Sometimes. But to make it somewhat easier.

Corvette, M3, Aston I tend to service myself, though the Aston clutch has failed which has cost a whopping £3600 to replace at a specialist.
Lotus Exige - Free servicing until 2025
Ferrari - Annual and no longer free, boo hoo
Yaris - Annual and about £150 a go.
Spyder - every two years
GT3 - every two years and due in August, cost of £1750

So its not too bad as three I do myself, the rest the manufacturers remind you when they are due essentially and none servicing work I will always attempt to do myself like on the Ferrari I fixed the AC issue myself and changed all the brakes myself, likewise the GT3 I will change exhaust myself and the Spyder I will do all the work myself, potentially the servicing too.

Really just Lotus, Yaris and GT3 I leave to dealerships due to warranty, happy to do what I can myself to the rest.
 
Soldato
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This was the first "performance car" I ever saw out in the wild. I can even tell you exactly where I saw it, where it was parked and who owned it. Bright yellow with the BMW Motorsport wheels. As a young lad I was amazed by it, and to this day I still think it's one of the best looking Bimmers ever made. Lovely dude, cherish it and make it sparkle :)
 
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