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Slippery New Reader
3/17/13 11:38 a.m.

This thread was inspired by Mazdeuce's thread about his 911 purchase. You can find that thread here, [URL]http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/1990-porsche-911-c2-a-story/60715/page1/[/URL]

Unfortunately, I am not as good a story teller as he is, so bare with me. (or forum poster as you can see from the URL above ... I tried)

After buying a Miata with my brother and a couple of friends (I know, four owners to a car sounds like a bad idea) to use as a track rat, I decided to get my own. This is when things spiraled out of control. Another Miata would have been a good choice, but I already had one. Then I thought about an e30, as I had been driving one for about a year and liked its dynamics. Well, finding an e30 in ok shape turned out to be somewhat difficult considering what I was willing to spend for one.

After a lot of searching for e30s, I started realizing that e36s were quite inexpensive. This is how the search turned into an e36 M3. I concentrated in a '96-99 car, and just wanted a solid chassis with a good engine ... the rest was a bonus.

Finally after three months of searching I found a nice candidate in Md., a '97 M3 coupe. After doing a VIN check, I realized this car spent most of its life down the street from me in Florida. It was moved to Md. in 2011 and not driven during the winter, so rust should not be an issue.

The whole deal started with this picture sent to me by the previous owner, along with 5 or so phone calls:


Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Dork
3/17/13 12:51 p.m.

Cool! I've got a '95 and I'll be following what you do with it. I'm 1/2 way through a whole suspension refresh to stock. Done with all bushings and shocks in the rear. Desperately needs the front shocks redone but stuck on whether to replace the front a arms at the same time.

Slippery New Reader
3/17/13 12:52 p.m.

The seller and I settled on a price and a new problem arised, how do we go ahead with the transaction and 1k miles in between us?. I was somewhat afraid of sending the money without having seen the car, so I offered to send him a paypal deposit and asked if he would let me borrow his plates to bring the car home. He declined the deposit and told me he would hold the car for me and let me borrow the plates once I picked up the car. By now its December 22nd, not one of the best times to be moving around the country. But I wanted the car and did not want to slip away.

The 24th I went to my State Farm agent and got the car insured, picked up a cashier's check at the bank and started checking flights to DC. The plan was for me to fly into DC, take the metro into Maryland and then he would pick me up at the metro station by his house. I booked a one way flight for me and my brother from Ft Lauderdale to DC on Saturday, December 29th. My wife clearly stated that if I did not like the car, I better find a way to get my butt back to Florida in time for New Year.

I packed a GPS, a OBD2 reader, the check and a bunch of medicine since I was being treated for H.Pylori. At the airport gate, we go through the scanner and I start thinking ... I have 5 vials of pills, a good amount of money ... shut. Sure enough, I get pulled to the side after I go through the body scanner and get patted down. I am thinking how I am going to show them pictures of the car and explain to them what everything is for ... but they just tell me to keep going. So I breath again. On our way we go. Our flight is on time for a 7am departure and 9am arrival into DC.

The night before I checked the weather and it look like there was a snow storm on the way, I had to beat that or I was going to be in trouble. The plane arrives, and off to the metro station ... holy cow it was cold!! 29F. We take the metro and as we make our way to the final station, HUGE snowflakes start falling. Its getting bad, to the point the seller calls me and tells me to start looking for a hotel. I ignored the comment and asked him to be at the station in 15'.

Finally we see the car and start going over it at the speed of light to make sure we get out of there before it gets worse. I read all the codes, there were several, inspect the body and then drive it. Right away I notice a few problems, the worse being a 5th gear lean (this requires transmission removal in order to be fixed). The dash was like a christmas tree, but he had informed me of that.

No ABS, no problem. No traction control, no problem its going to be removed. Airbag lights on, no problem as they will be removed as well. Passenger side window regulator gone ... I can fix it. The interior was a 7/10, no problem it will be sold. Now onto the engine, it was smooth. We check the oil, it was low ... I had asked him to have it changed for me, so I chucked it to the person doing it not checking the level. Several check engine lights, most cleared and were not important. The two that did not were due to the catalytics, and the main reason he was selling the car. No emissions in Florida, and it will be an HPDE only car, so no problem there either.

Money is exchanged and I have a new car.

Now we aim the GPS to the closest Wal-Mart to buy oil/water/wipers and a few other things.

We are driving straight through to Florida non-stop, should be gas and driver changes after that.

Slippery New Reader
3/17/13 12:54 p.m.
Teh E36 M3 wrote: Cool! I've got a '95 and I'll be following what you do with it. I'm 1/2 way through a whole suspension refresh to stock. Done with all bushings and shocks in the rear. Desperately needs the front shocks redone but stuck on whether to replace the front a arms at the same time.

I have quite a bit to post as I had the car for a few months now!

Get new bushings for the lollipops and press in new balljoints. Thats what I did and I can give you part numbers if you want. Your lollipop bushing is different on yours as its offset.


mazdeuce Dork
3/17/13 5:28 p.m.

Nothing quite like landing in a blizzard to pick up an old car you've never driven is there? I'm looking forward to the rest of the story and the track prep.

Slippery New Reader
3/17/13 5:48 p.m.

So, I adjust the seat ... mirrors, opps the mirrors dont work. I get settled in and start driving, by now the whole place is white. MInd you, I am from Florida and in my 18 years or so of driving I have only driven in snow once ... a fwd Audi Avant. We are doing about 45-55 on the highway, headed to I-95. Once we skip DC and get into Va, we stop at a Wal-Mart. Here we bought a bunch of fluids and checked the car over again. My main fear was the cooling system, which according to the previous owner, was original ... the car had 157000 miles. Not good on an e36.

We started topping off the fluids, power steering, brakes and oil ... coolant was fine. We add a quart of oil, still not showing on the dipstick ... add another quart and now we are topped. I looked at my brother and we did a little praying lol. Apparently there is only one size funnel for sale up in Va. ... extra big:

Same with the oil ... everything was too thin, I guess its the cold weather.

We gas up, air up the tires, and take off towards Florida ... should not be a problem. Except we realized its the first day of the new year's break ... so I-95 is like a parking lot almost all the way to Richmond ... great, lets test the cooling system. My eyes were stuck on that temperature needle, but it would not move. All of a sudden it opens up and I see a nice old celica, have not seen one of these in Fl in a while, so I had to take a pic to share with you guys:

We finally make it into NC and stop at a rest area, do our thing, get some drinks and change drivers right after checking the oil. Another quart goes in ... wtf?? We chuck it to the dipstick being the worst I have ever seen, as in difficult to read. Of course we take a pic:

The gas needle barely moved, so we put bets on whether we can hit Ga. before gassing up again. Off we went, with my brother at the wheel while I nap.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Dork
3/17/13 5:59 p.m.

C'mon dude! The trip is over- give us the goods!!!

mazdeuce Dork
3/17/13 6:53 p.m.

He must have survived. Of course, he might have just made it home. How far can you push an E36 per day?

Slippery New Reader
3/17/13 8:46 p.m.

Lol, its almost finished ... sit tight!

Slippery New Reader
3/17/13 8:47 p.m.

From here the trip became all business as we realized we were not doing such good time. We stopped once more as soon as we got to Ga. to get gas and then south of St. Augustine Fl to change drivers. This was a surprise, 28mpg all the way down

By now dark set in and we are finding out some things about the car we did not know ... it has HIDs

And the oil consumption magically vanished ... Also the range on this car is amazing, we were getting almost 500 miles out of the tank averaging 80 mph.

Finally got home at around 4am ... the next morning I woke up to REALLY see what I have bought

After this, the plan is to drive it for a month straight and find all the quirks that will have to be fixed. The plan is to make it a reliable HPDE car ... that means no engine mods for now. First track day would be in late March with Chin Motorsports at Sebring.

DuctTape&Bondo HalfDork
3/18/13 11:54 a.m.

moar please!

SilverFleet Dork
3/18/13 1:01 p.m.

I look forward to more installments. Good story so far.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Dork
3/18/13 4:47 p.m.

How many miles? Curious as to what the upper limit is to start doing HPDE's. I've got 157k on mine and am not sure about running it on track.

Slippery New Reader
3/18/13 4:59 p.m.

More coming.

I bought the car with 157k and currently has 160 or 161k. My experience with these engines is that they are pretty stout. Do a compression test/ leak down and if the engine is healthy go flog it.

Make sure you redo the whole cooling system, tie down the oil pump nut or weld it and reinforce the weak chassis points.


Slippery New Reader
3/18/13 8:37 p.m.

So the next day I started to go over the car more in detail. First thing I did was wash it, all the paint is original ... good.

After warming it up I did a compression test, it went something like this:

1 - 160

2 - 165

3 - 160

4 - 163

5 - 160

6 - 162

I stopped for a bit and decided to start removing the purple tint, it was very 80s and had to go:



With that out of the way, I put it on the scales to get a baseline of where we started off. I would love to get it down to around #2800 including half talk of gas and a welded rollbar.

The sound system in the car sounded awful. My e30 with all factory stereo sounded 10x better, so off went the offending pieces.

The two things that I will keep in the car are a stereo system and the AC. I dont have a trailer and will be driving this car to and from the track, so they are staying. That meant that I had to start sourcing a factory sound system ...

mazdeuce Dork
3/18/13 8:42 p.m.

Where does 400 lbs of weight loss in these cars come from? I'm always curious as to what the unnecessary heavy stuff in a particular car is.

Slippery New Reader
3/18/13 8:53 p.m.
mazdeuce wrote: Where does 400 lbs of weight loss in these cars come from? I'm always curious as to what the unnecessary heavy stuff in a particular car is.

Interior mostly. You should see how heavy the factory floor carpet is! Most of the weight comes from mid to back of the car, so the front to rear balance will suffer a little.


Slippery New Reader
3/18/13 8:54 p.m.

Going through the paperwork that came with the car, I gathered the following info:

  • 2011 UUC DSSR installed
  • 2011 UUC short shifter and shiftknob installed
  • 2011 new clutch
  • 2011 New alternator from BMW
  • 2012 New steering rack
  • 2012 New Sears battery
  • 2012 two new rear tires

Found these while going through forums:

The front speakers were still factory. We now had sound, and its decent. Good.

The next step is to start driving it and start two lists, one with all the aftermarket parts and another with all the maintainance parts needed. BTW, let me know if anyone cares to see these lists ... I have all the part numbers for every subgroup that needed attn.

Swank Force One
Swank Force One MegaDork
3/18/13 9:21 p.m.

I could use the Alpine headunit if you've still got it.

Car looks great!!

dyintorace UltraDork
3/18/13 9:34 p.m.

Dammit! Now I want another e36 M3. I've had 2 and loved both. Each was red to boot. I've already been shopping today!

sethmeister4 Reader
3/18/13 11:57 p.m.

That paint looks great! Sounds like you had a fun trip...looking forward to the updates!

The_Jed Dork
3/19/13 5:55 a.m.

That cleaned up very nicely!

golfduke Reader
3/19/13 8:13 a.m.

I've got a 97 M3c track car too, good choice.

And re: weight loss- removal of the rear seats and interior carpet lost me 118lb. Swapping the vaders for cobras lost me another 85lb.

The interior is heavy as hell. There is up to 4" of high density (heavy) foam backing between the unibody and carpet itself in some areas.

I've got my car down to 27xx on scales, but that's completely gutted- no stereo, ac, gas light on, sunroof delete, etc...

Slippery New Reader
3/19/13 9:58 p.m.
Swank Force One wrote: I could use the Alpine headunit if you've still got it. Car looks great!!

Let me see if I can find it, that thing got pulled the day after I got the car home.


Slippery New Reader
3/19/13 9:59 p.m.
dyintorace wrote: Dammit! Now I want another e36 M3. I've had 2 and loved both. Each was red to boot. I've already been shopping today!

I've had and e30 and an e46 M3, never cared for the e36 until I bought this one ... its a hell of a car and very underestimated.


The_Jed wrote: That cleaned up very nicely!

Thanks! ... how the hell do you multiquote here???

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