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Discussion Starter #141
Picked up the insurance check and the car yesterday.



The shell is toast. Both rear frame rails are toast, the rear panel is toast, and there's enough rust to warrant not rebuilding it. The buyback was more than worth it given the value of the parts are on it, and the net payoff from insurance is a little more than what I had into the car so I'm essentially given the chance to start from scratch (minus a clean shell) with loads of good mechanical parts to use.

The plan is to sit on it for a few months while I finish my Mk2 VR6. If I can get some space at a different location, then the part out will happen sooner. But I'm not going to tear it down while it's still sitting on the trailer.

The next E36, if it happens, will be a race car. I don't think I have the time or want to do another E36 street car. This car was great while it lasted, but I acknowledge that being able to build the perfect E36 street car is more time than I am willing to spare.

The race car decision will happen after I finish the Mk2 VR6. If I like that as a race car, I may sell the parts I'd otherwise keep. If I don't, then natch I will sell the Mk2 and get a nice E36 shell + cage it.
 

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Discussion Starter #142 (Edited)
IT'S NOT OVER.

On 6/6, I was hesitant to build another E36 street car, M3 clone or not. Well, on 6/10, my wife found a house listing that included a 2-car oversize garage for daily drivers, along with a workshop with 2 car bays and another bay for lawn tractors/motorcycles, all with its own separate driveway from the daily driver garage. The price was low enough that a "last and best" bidding war ensued, and we came out on top. Meanwhile, I also changed jobs, landing a position that not only requires more field work (something I've been looking forward to, got tired of being trapped in the office) but is 20 minutes from the new place. The new place would have moved us another 10-15 minutes away from my old job, which was already 1 hour/50 miles one-way to begin with.

Once the dust settled, I started thinking about how to enjoy my daily commute again. My wife's Mazda3, reliable and TFL-approved as it is, was not cutting it. So I asked myself what I wanted to get. I'd like a Mk7 GTI, with LSD and leather (so, and SE or Autobahn), but those are approaching $30K OTD, even used. I've already done the WRX thing, and I don't want to get into another Miata just yet. Earlier iterations of the GTI also weren't doing much for me either.

Which brought me back to the E36. One of the things I loved about my car was that it never let me down because it always gave me enough warning (head gasket windows, brakes, hubs) that something wasn't happy. The interior was comfy and had everything (Bluetooth, heated seats, working A/C) that I want. The only bad thing about my current one, was the creeping rust and of course, the accident that re-branded the title and made it subject to CT inspections - a process that I really didn't want to get into bed with.

So, I started looking for any E36. I still preferred the sedan, so my search was limited to sedans. I was open to any color, but found I wanted to keep to the silver on black of my current car.

After a while, I came across a silver sedan in Westchester, NY. It just so happened I was going to be down there for a Global Entry interview at JFK, and then pick up a chest freezer from my grandparents' house. So, I hooked up the car trailer in case we struck a deal, and hit the road in the trusty Frontier...at 4AM. You can probably already guess what happened next.

It's a 1998 M3 sedan, 203K and best of all - CLEAN TITLE. I splurged for the M3 because while I could have swapped the axles, diff, hubs, etc. from my current car...why not get one that's already got all that? This one also has a Schrick intake manifold, Dinan intake, 3.5" MAF (which is currently throwing a CEL) and couple other goodies. The car spent a good amount of time in a rust free climate (IIRC according to the seller, the car was in CA? before it was in NJ for the majority of its life) so it has very little rust. The car also doesn't leak any fluids, starts right up, and runs smooth.

So, why was it in my budget for a relatively-cheap shell? Well, first, it's auto. The transmission is fine, but it's still an auto sedan which limits its desirability. It has had a single owner, but he was mixed in his level of astuteness in terms of his care - he took care of it, but was also not afraid to mess with it. The car has had a couple spoilers in its life, and wears its warts proudly. The front and rear panels have been touched up, badly. He put terrible-quality heated M3 rep side view mirrors with turn signal repeaters, again badly painted. The staggered Contours have a pretty hectic bend in the front right - at least the tires and newer and hold air. The interior is a bit rough and wears a fair amount of sun damage. And the suspension is shot.

But...

All of those things can be solved with parts from the old car. For now, I might stick the motor and trans (with a new clutch) from the old 1997 car, even though the 1997 has more miles on it and doesn't have the Schrick/Dinan goodies on it. It's a known quantity with me, and thus I know what's done to it. The 1998 motor looks clean (seller had some pics from under the valve cover) and runs such that it will be a good back up motor - or, would be a good donor for my buddy's recently-acquired E36.

The Dove interior will be swapped out for the black. The stereo in the 1998 will be ripped out for the 1997 one as well. Both cars have sagging headliners, so something will have to happen there too.

As far as the mechanicals, I'll probably swap pads and clean up the rotors from the 1997 car and put them on the 1998. The Schnitzers will go back on as well, although I'd like to re-finish them again in either a darker grey or a lighter silver (probably the latter). Being an auto, the diff should still be a 3.15, don't know if it's an LSD though, have to check the tag. The 1997 car had a 3.15 LSD in it as well. The 1997 also had poly bushings in the rear, but we'll see how much I want to swap subframes. The front bushings and control arms will probably swapped in from the 1997 as well since they're a known quantity. For starters, the old Bilsteins and H&R cup kit will go in from the 1997, but eventually I'd like to run a coilover system, or at least refresh the shocks since they're on the old side.

But enough with the words...let's get to the pictures!
 

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Discussion Starter #143
First, some carnage pictures of the 1997...

Rear bumper completely destroyed. Surprisingly the trim is still good, so I pulled it off.



Bumper support caved in and the bumper is riding on the rear tire when I drive



Pre-existing rust and also bumper mis-alignment on the 1997



Seam from previous repair (which is why it was rebuilt title to begin with)



Left rear frame rail, slightly tweaked



Right rear frame rail, badly tweaked

 

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Discussion Starter #144
Twins!









Front bumper on the 1998 needs some work...



But then again, the 1997 wasn't any better...



Every panel on the 1998 is straight and the paint is good enough to be a looker from 20 feet away. The 1997 was more like a 20-miler in terms of its body :laugh:



...until you get to the mirrors, which are laughably cheap and in poor shape



Here are some of the warts I was talking about:







The interior on the 1998 is a bit roached from the Cali/South sun, and there's a weird shifter and pedal configuration going on









But that will be replaced by the 1997's interior



And of course, here are the money shots of the engine:





Speaking of money shots...the PO was great guy to deal with. When we made the deal for the car, he had to go run and grab the title from his apartment. He and his GF had driven over in her car, but when he returned, they brought his E30 M3 :eek:



It was probably my favorite part of the deal, seeing this car. It's "just a driver" but for a driver, it's in great shape. It's not concours, but it's in good enough shape to make you feel good about driving it, and actually enjoy it. It was cool to meet another enthusiast who doesn't just hide his toys away.
 

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wonderful news indeed
 

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Discussion Starter #149
nice! is that a Shrick manifold? It's the only manifold I know of that's not made of plastic. Nice Dinan CAI
That is indeed a Schrick manifold.

TBH I'm not terribly excited about it because I liked how the S52 ran in the 1997 with the stock manifold. I'd procured an M50 manifold a couple years ago in hopes of doing the swap, but never got around to it. If anything I'll probably do that and keep the Schrick on the 1998's engine and hold it as a spare. I might stick with the Active Autowerke intake that was on the 1997 as well and keep/sell the Dinan intake.

A friend of mine just picked up an E36 328i so some of these parts might also find their way onto his car. We'll see.
 

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I think that Shrick intake is pretty cool. They are definitely rare. Not really worth it to me over M50 manifold swap... but they don't lose much low end torque and can be modified to make as much top end as M50... but that would cost like $700 to get it honed out.
 

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Discussion Starter #154
Deconstruction has started - tearing out the Dove interior, removing the Contours and prepping for sale, and diagnosing the MAF CEL code (most likely a broken wire issue in the loom, unfortunately)









 

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Discussion Starter #155
Put in some time on the car over the last couple of days, mainly continuing to strip the interior so that I can start putting the 1997 interior in. Also, practice makes perfect, especially when you're trying to take apart a 20 or 21-year-old BMW interior - however, the E36 has been pretty wonderful to take apart so far.



I excised the Omega Excalibur alarm. It constantly locked the doors and immobilized the starter if you looked at it the wrong way. It had to go. We'll have to wait to see if my uninstall was successful.







I pulled the center console and seats to reveal a plethora of garbage and spare change. The spare change has amounted to $1.31 so far. The wrappers are primarily these "Bombay Sweet Supari" - a form of betel nut. Perhaps the previous/original owner was of the Asian/Indian/Middle Eastern persuasion (or a -phile). There were about a dozen scattered about the car - the guy I bought the car from also claimed to clean out a bunch of trash.

Speaking of change, I'm going to keep a tally of the rebuild costs in the thread. I don't usually like to talk money, but the amount of spare change kinda inspired me to tally up the money I'll be putting into this car. I also spent a bunch of money on new parts on the past couple weeks, so this will keep me on an even keel in terms of spending any more money.

So far, I'm at:


$2,900 - original purchase price
$478.13 - Clutchmaster FX250 (Stage 2?2.5?) clutch - the one in the 1997 is getting kinda high in pedal travel and has about 100k on it. Probably ought to replace it while I'm in there, and this was apparently a VERY good deal for a Clutchmasters clutch. The E34 M5 clutch that I was also eyeing was over $500 w/ sales tax.
$119.99 - Bimmerworld SS brake lines
$111.19 - FCP clutch install kit - rear main seal, flywheel bolts, pressure plate bolts, and some other junk
$201.58 - new Zimmerman brake rotors - these will eventually be warrantied to FCP since I'll be replacing the rusty rotors from the 1997. Might as well replace them since they'll be free, but for now they're expensed until I can get the old ones off and sent into FCP.
$90 - Garagistic DSSR shift linkage
$48 - Garagistic delrin shifter bushings
$29 - Garagistic SS clutch line - I originally bought the Garagistic one, forgot about it, and ordered one from Bimmerworld by mistake. I'll have to pick one and send the other one back (unless my buddy wants the other one for his E36)
$29.99 - Bimmerworld SS clutch line
$25.07 - CT sales tax on orders placed at FCP

Running total: $4,032

Keep in mind there will be parts sales to bring the total down. Will try and keep this under $5k, but seeing the total now, I'm hoping I can keep it under $4k :peace:
 

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Discussion Starter #156
Bumping this up, as I've made enough progress on the Mk2 VR6 such that I could get that out into the driveway and drag the 1997 in for de-construction, as well as re-installation into the 1998. Haven't spent any more money on the car to date, which is kinda cool.

Here is the current state of affairs:





Well start with the elephant in the room, the rear end from the 1998. Excuse the poor-quality potato pic:



I decided to stick with the 3.15 LSD rear end from the 1997. It's known quantity, it already has poly bushings in the rear, it's going to primarily be a street car, and it 'preserves' the character of the 1997. Thus, the 3.38 LSD (pictured) from the 1998 is going to a buddy of mine who has an E36 build of his own - albeit a 328i - but his is going to be more track-biased so he could benefit more from the shorter rear gear. It's going to get all fresh bushings because the ones in there currently (likely the originals) are shot.

Pulling it last night was a PITA, but that was most likely due to the fact that we bit ourselves by trying to take apart things 'strategically' - i.e. being lazy AF and taking the assembly apart while on the car - which ended up costing us more time in the end, and even still, it's still assembled. When we remove the rear end of the 1997, it's coming out as an assembly from the get-go.

Removing the rear end meant pulling exhaust, which at first glance looked better than the 1997's.



But as we pulled things apart, we noticed a bunch of Mickey Mouse repairs, including a second rear muffler hanger that was booger welded on (and crusty AF), midpipe-axleback joints that were RTV'd, and the piece de resistance, a midpipe-header joint which must have leaked at some point because someone made this repair:



And it still leaked :facepalm:

Interestingly enough, there was this message on the top part of the axleback. Not sure what we're not supposed to do...



Thankfully I know the midpipe on the 1997 is good, so I'm going to use that, and then use the 1998 axleback portion.





Moving onto the interior...the Dove interior from the 1998 is completely stripped out. Floors and everything look great, as they should. The 1997 interior is mostly gone save for the carpet, dash, and a couple door panels. Those will get done today. I removed all remnants of the bitchin' 2001 Sony Xplod stereo that was in the 1998, so I'm going to throw the head unit from the 1997 in and test everything before throwing the carpet in. I'm hoping the wiring from the 1998 - which had a factory harman/kardon system - is still present and that it works with the non-h/k speakers that are in the door panels of the 1997 that are going in the car.

I have this week off from work, so the goal is to get most everything off the 1997 that I want/need such that I can toss the remnants of the car onto my trailer and pick at it while I get the rest of the 1998 finished.
 

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Discussion Starter #157
My staycation is ending today with the interior of the 1997 stripped of everything except for the wiring. Still haven't stripped down the drivetrain, but I'll need help with that - and since the holidays are around the corner and we'll be travelling to see family, I won't get a chance to get to it until after the new year.

The following is the first transplant pieces going into the 1998 :peace:



Dashboard test fitted and carpet installed. Pretty straightforward. I also checked to see if the radio wiring is still good and works with the headunit and door panel speakers from the 1997 - it does. Radio reception is non-existant, but I'm not sure if it's 1) due to a malfunctioning amplifier or the window tint (looks like the old metallized stuff) or 2) due to the fact the car is in a concrete bunker (which is currently taking on water at the moment:()
 

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Discussion Starter #159
Cool stuff! Interesting to be able to decide between 96 vs. 97 part-by-part.
I'm glad that I came across another E36 M3 (and a silver one at that) instead of transplanting everything from the 1997 into any E36 shell. The shortfalls of the 1998 car - shot suspension, automatic, interior that wasn't my taste - were easily addressed by the parts from the 1997. But, most importantly, it is a clean title (1997 was a rebuilt title originally) and the shell is amazingly clean - the jack points are spotless.

And arguably, those parts I'm taking from the 1997 were its strengths anyway. It was a 5-speed, good suspension, the motor has been gone through - new HG, cooling system, and others addressed in late 2016/early 2017 - and I prefer the black interior to Dove. The body had seen better days, even before the accident. Paint chips, mismatched doors (I had replaced 3 of the 4 doors that didn't quite match the silver of the body) and rust - spots around the seams, bottoms of the fenders, and the RF jack point was completely gone.

So, in re-shelling the 1997 (which is essentially what I'm doing) I've essentially fixed most of the flaws of the 1997 in the first place. The paint still isn't perfect on the 1998 - there's a long key mark on the driver side, and some fading here and there, but overall it's very respectable, especially for 20 years and 203,000 miles.

Being able to keep the S52 from the 1998 is a bonus - either I sell it and pay back a chunk of the cost spent on purchasing the 1998, or it's a readily available replacement when the 1997 motor goes tits up. I may have also planted the seeds in a friend of mine to use it to replace the tired M20 in his E21 :laugh:
 

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Discussion Starter #160
Untitled by Steve W, on Flickr

Still making slow, steady progress on the swap.

The interior is all out of the 1997 and is either sitting in my basement or installed in the 1998. The front clip is 50% pulled on the 1998 and gone in the 1997 - as a matter of fact, I got the engine/trans pulled tonight. All that remains to be pulled from the 1997 is the rear diff, subframe, and suspension. The front subframe and suspension/steering rack will also need to be pulled, then the car will go for scrap. Hoping to get that out of the way since I have a Subaru coming in soon that may need head gaskets (surprise surprise).

Random pics of progress...

Interior mostly installed in the 1998...













And the piece de resistance...



The timeline to complete the 1998 has considerably slowed, due to the advent of the Subaru and the reason for it...little one is due in June. My job will have me travelling this spring so I'll get some time here and there to get the 1998 engine/trans pulled, get the 1997's engine cleaned up, and refresh the trans with new detents, clutch, and seals.
 
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