chapel New Reader
March 6, 2013 3:48 p.m.

So, my last car was vetoed by the wifey. I had a very clean, very straight 1995 Buick Roadmaster. She felt that it was a bit embarrassing for the family. Rather than continue to argue with her about it, I sold it for MUCH more than I had in it (thanks TGUSA for artificially inflating the going rate of a solid B-Body for a year or so!)

After some deliberation I had decided to attempt another BMW. I had fantastic luck with my old E30 and figured I may obtain the same luck with an E39. So I went on a search. Solid E39 528is were plentiful and I had scheduled a few viewings one day. My wife and I decided to make a quick pitstop at Ikea and while in the area stopped in to see a reasonably clean E36 328i.

I wasn't intending to purchase it that day... but after seeing how well kept it was and how it drove, I bought it. The interior had a tear on the driver's side outer bolster, but otherwise the interior was immaculate. The engine bay was so clean you could eat off it and the exterior was rust free and almost blemish free. I normally buy cars that need body or paint work, so this was a nice change of pace for me.

It did have ONE little issue:

It didn't quite sit right in the back. I brought it to my BMW mechanic for a once over and to have a UUC short shifter installed (I was a sucker for their shifters). Upon getting it back, I got a laundry list of things that it needed (isn't that always the case):

Rear springs are new, but wrong

front shocks not oem, front strut mounts look like aftermarket or lowering mounts

rear shocks are OEM and rotted. needs replacement.

oil leak from VANOS line

Airbag light was cleared, did not return. no stored code.

newly installed valve cover gasket leaking because PO did not put RTV on the corner

Serp belts need replacing

front swaybar bushings are gone

intake boot dry rotted and cracked

lower ball joint rubber collapsed, needs replacement

AC Condensor leaking

Exhaust hangers were not hooked up

left rear axle rubbed on something at some point

tires rubbing in front

I went out and bought a set of coilovers from SoloWerks. Reviews in the VW community were positive and it's hard to argue $500 for coilovers shipped. I wrote a quick review of the packaging and appearance of them here: http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?5935559-E36-Solo-Werks-S1-Review-1997-328i. I'm waiting for winter to be over before installing them.

Right now my list of things to do is reasonably short:

1) fix a CEL that just started. Seems to be a vacuum leak caused by a cracked PCV. Replacing all the hoses attached to the PCV and ISV

2) replace the valvecover gasket PROPERLY

3) replace the leaking VANOS line

4) install the suspension, front control arms and all new suspension bushings

5) replace the belts

6) replace the leaky AC condenser.

That's where I'm at right now.

March 6, 2013 3:57 p.m.

Since I remember your E30 fondly I'll be watching this; I don't find the E36 attractive at all but that one is pretty sharp!

chapel New Reader
March 6, 2013 4:03 p.m.

I was a notorious E36 hater in my E30 days. I've turned the corner having owned one. It's a really well built car. Shifts nicely. Pulls great. Sounds great. I see why people like them so much. Car needs an LSD something awful though.

sethmeister4 Reader
March 8, 2013 11:02 p.m.

Looks great! I'm not normally a BMW guy but I think I would like to own one of these someday. Good luck with the projects!

chapel New Reader
March 9, 2013 9:54 p.m.

they're a good compromise if you want a fun daily driver for not a lot of money. Solid 328s are in the $3000 range. I paid $3200 for this one.

J308 Reader
March 9, 2013 10:25 p.m.

I'd reconsider the $500 coilovers for the known-good STs for $750 or the known great aftermarket shocks out there for similar money.

It looks like a really clean car though. Good luck!

March 10, 2013 10:07 a.m.

Are the pictures in your driveway? If so tell us about the mazda5.

chapel New Reader
March 10, 2013 10:12 a.m.
J308 wrote: I'd reconsider the $500 coilovers for the known-good STs for $750 or the known great aftermarket shocks out there for similar money. It looks like a really clean car though. Good luck!

These are comparable to the STs. spoke to a few guys who have them and they were all happy with them and had LOTS of miles on them. I barely drive 3000 miles a year, so I'm not too worried about them.

the Mazda5 is my wife's car. 2010 Sport Manual.

chapel New Reader
March 11, 2013 1:50 p.m.

Where are you seeing STs for $750 anyway? I was able to get them at dealer cost and they were still about $800 shipped.

I needed that extra $300 for control arms and other suspension related items.

also, no, that is not my driveway. that's the previous owner's driveway... but that is my wife's Mazda5

Harvey New Reader
March 12, 2013 2:01 p.m.

I had a 1998 328 back in 2001 and I loved that car. Same color as yours, I'll see if I can dig up some pics. Nice torque, predictable handling, comfortable and made some great noises when revved up. Probably should have just kept it.

My wife has an E46 330i perf package though so I can get my BMW fix that way.

March 12, 2013 3:28 p.m.
chapel wrote: newly installed valve cover gasket leaking because PO did not put RTV on the corner Right now my list of things to do is reasonably short: 1) fix a CEL that just started. Seems to be a vacuum leak caused by a cracked PCV. Replacing all the hoses attached to the PCV and ISV 2) replace the valvecover gasket PROPERLY

With these motors, a valve cover gasket leak is a vacuum leak. So... you might just kill 2 birds with that 2nd stone if you are lucky.

I wouldn't skimp too hard on the suspension if you can help it. These cars really handle well with just springs, dampers and sways but ebay/Chinese coilovers with poorly matched spring/damper rates will make a mess of that pretty fast. It's like buying half-priced Sushi... sometimes you get a deal but more often than not it's just going to end up in the schitter that much quicker.

Basic problems aside - that is a really nice clean car. Good luck with it.

mazdeuce Dork
March 12, 2013 3:52 p.m.

I'll be watching this. I really like these and would love to learn about them by following along.

Harvey New Reader
March 12, 2013 6:01 p.m.

Ah, I found a pic of mine back in the day with some contours I got off an M3.

Yeah, it really makes it clear that yours is sitting way too high in the back. This was with a 50k mile stock suspension.

chapel New Reader
March 13, 2013 10:00 a.m.
Giant Purple Snorklewacker wrote: With these motors, a valve cover gasket leak is a vacuum leak. So... you might just kill 2 birds with that 2nd stone if you are lucky. I wouldn't skimp too hard on the suspension if you can help it. These cars really handle well with just springs, dampers and sways but ebay/Chinese coilovers with poorly matched spring/damper rates will make a mess of that pretty fast. It's like buying half-priced Sushi... sometimes you get a deal but more often than not it's just going to end up in the schitter that much quicker. Basic problems aside - that is a really nice clean car. Good luck with it.

Well, I did my research and these SoloWerks are being well received compared to the bouncy, crappy Racelands/Rokkors/etc...

I've heard from a few guys who replaced their ST Coilovers with these SoloWerks and they were comparable in terms of handling from those guys. Ride quality was comparable to OEM Sport suspension and handling was compared to OEM Sport with less body roll.

March 13, 2013 10:12 a.m.
chapel wrote: Well, I did my research and these SoloWerks are being well received compared to the bouncy, crappy Racelands/Rokkors/etc... I've heard from a few guys who replaced their ST Coilovers with these SoloWerks and they were comparable in terms of handling from those guys. Ride quality was comparable to OEM Sport suspension and handling was compared to OEM Sport with less body roll.

What are they, 5 bills? ... it's not a terrible risk if they work out for you. I'd be interested in hearing how they fare after a year or two of use but for the money, if they last a year and fall apart, ground control will still be there to spend your money on.

If they are a standard size - you can always swap out the springs and dampers for better stuff too.

Do post a report when you get them in will ya?

chapel New Reader
March 13, 2013 2:32 p.m.

I will. I plan on being very critical of them. Unfortunately I won't be good for a long term durability test because I don't drive a whole lot.

I needed suspension now and at $500, it was actually cheaper to get these than get new OEM shocks and springs or even the cheapest 'repair shop' crap.

westsidetalon Reader
March 14, 2013 5:04 p.m.
chapel wrote: I will. I plan on being very critical of them. Unfortunately I won't be good for a long term durability test because I don't drive a whole lot. I needed suspension now and at $500, it was actually cheaper to get these than get new OEM shocks and springs or even the cheapest 'repair shop' crap.

I'm about to find out the same with some $500 V-Maxx coilovers for my $500 318ti .

chapel New Reader
March 15, 2013 11:31 a.m.

I'd had a bad experience with V-Maxx coilovers on VWs and Audis. very harsh driving when on a heavier car.

When I asked about how the SoloWerks compared to V-maxx's I was told by everyone that they were MUCH more comfortable but unable to get "totally slammed"

luckily, I don't really give a crap about dragging frame... I intend to drive my car. Not hardpark it.

revhard New Reader
April 18, 2013 10:22 a.m.

Any updates?

Harvey New Reader
April 18, 2013 2:44 p.m.

Also interested.

OHSCrifle Reader
July 6, 2013 5:35 p.m.

What's new with this 328?

chapel New Reader
July 10, 2014 9:47 a.m.

I'll update soon. Lots of stuff

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