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neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
1/19/20 1:11 p.m.

After an unfortunate oil starvation issue at VIR in August 2019 in my previous AutoX bugeye WRX, I was in the market for an E36 M3. I decided instead of buying a stock car and modifying it to the level I wanted, this time I'd try buying something that already had some track prep. I came across this 1998 on Facebook:


It dropped in price a few times over a month or so while I watched it. After another car fell through and this one had another price drop, I contacted the owner and we talked for an hour or so. Nice guy, had bought it stock in 2009 or so an then modified and tracked it since then. He was selling to upgrade to an E46 M3, and had stacks of receipts for the past 10 years. The car is far from perfect, but it seems like a good base to start from, so we negotiated a price and I picked it up a week or two later, in October 2019.

The first wrinkle came when we met up to test drive and sign it over. The PO was about 5'8" and 140ish and had Sparco Corsa fixed-back seats, and I'm 6'3" and 230ish, so I wasn't able to test drive it. My thighs couldn't fit in the seats unless I twisted to the side, and on the driver's side it was much too close to the wheel. I went for a very uncomfortable test ride-along to confirm it ran well, and then my wife took it for a test drive to confirm it drove well. Everything checked out so my wife drove it home.

Here are some pics right after we got it home:


Current mods and future plans in the next post!

mr2s2000elise Dork
1/19/20 1:42 p.m.

What a beauty. Also love the 100 series, sexy thing!

neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
1/19/20 1:44 p.m.

This is the mod list from the previous owner, I've confirmed it all with receipts and inspecting the car. This could also just be called "The Good:"

  • 3.5" dinan intake with Bosch MAF
  • Riot Racing BB Throttle Body
  • Schrick mild cams
  • Schrick intake manifold with gold foil underside
  • Turner Motorsport authentic ceramic coated shorty headers
  • Bimmerworld single 3" exhaust including y-pipe
  • Turner Motorsport Stage 4 tune
  • Evosport pullies
  • CSF aluminum radiator and cooling system refresh with Stewart metal water pump
  • AKG motor/trans mounts
  • Refurbished ZHP steering rack, tie rods, entire power steering system refresh
  • AKG short shift kit
  • New fuel pump
  • Bosch coils, plugs, O2 sensors
  • TC Kline single adjustable dampers with 450#/550# rates
  • Vorshlag camber plates
  • Turner Motorsport front and rear anti-roll bars
  • Fresh bushings/lemfoerder control arms
  • RTAB limiters
  • Welded in triangulated AKG rear sway bar reinforcement
  • Corner balanced and aligned
  • 3.38 gearing
  • TMS bulletnose studs and 15mm spacer front
  • 17x9 LTW5 with 255 RE71-R
  • Odyssey PC680 ltw battery
  • Sparco Corsa seats and Sparco steering wheel


The Bad:

  • Definitely more than a few leaks. Valve cover gasket, rear diff drain plug, steering rack, and possibly some coolant
  • I don't fit in the car because of the small, fixed seats
  • Not VA-legal, no driver's airbag and a host of bulbs and small issues that the previous owner avoided by having it registered in Florida
  • The radio wants a code but doesn't like the code written in the manual
  • Driver's window won't roll down consistently
  • The RE71-Rs are down to their last 20% or so, so I can't plan on using them for a full season
  • The clutch slips in 3rd and 4th - as far as I know it's the original clutch so that makes sense for over 150k miles, but I'm not sure if I can get it through the first few events before needing a replacement
  • There's an intermittent vibration when I decelerate with my foot off the throttle. From Googling it looks like it could be the guibo or center support bearing, so I'll need to look into both of those
  • There's some rubbing from the rear driver's side wheel well, the clearance is a little tighter on that side. It looks like both sides may have had a slight fender roll at one point and the driver's side had less. Either that or the LR strut is more worn than the RR
  • The PO gutted as much weight as he could. That's not always a bad thing, but in this case that includes the AC, fog lights, the rear seats, C pillar covers, rear side panels, trunk linings, front fender liners, etc. Supposedly it's under 2800 pounds, but I wouldn't mind more than 2 seatbelts or something more than 6" of air between the front wheels and the intake.


My first project was getting it street-legal and inspected. To do that, I did the following:

  • Sourced a used OEM M3 steering wheel and airbag. There are a few variations of plugs and designs, and I wanted to make sure I got a 3-spoke
  • Replaced the Sparo Corsas with reclining Sparco Chronos. The PO had bought Sparco sliders years ago and included them in a box of spare parts, so I was able to mount th Chronos to them and get enough room. I'm a little concerned about headroom with a helmet on, but I'll tackle that later.
  • A local BMW specialty shop inspected the car for any issues that might fail me. I had them reinstall the cruise control module, clear the airbag light (after I installed the new wheel and airbag), and replace the washers in the steering rack that were leaking

It took close to a month, but finally I was able to get it inspected and on the road:


First impressions - my first car was a 1992 325i sedan, and this M3 is nothing like it. The mods are probably more to blame than the fact that's a M3, but it's raw. Big smoky tailslides, ears ringing, lots of loud noises and weird smells, seemingly unlimited front grip, a great exhaust note, and surprisingly more power than I was expecting. From the research I've done, these mods are good for maybe 270 crank, but the power curve and the gearing make these easily the quickest car I've owned.

So far, I love it! Now to shake it down and get ready for the first few events of the season. 

neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
1/19/20 1:48 p.m.
mr2s2000elise said:

What a beauty. Also love the 100 series, sexy thing!

Thanks! The 100 might be my favorite out of all of the cars I've had, which wasn't what I was expecting. 

mr2s2000elise Dork
1/19/20 2:26 p.m.
neverendingprojectgarage said:

Thanks! The 100 might be my favorite out of all of the cars I've had, which wasn't what I was expecting. 

Can't disagree. People either get it or they don't. Its not something you can explain. You have to experience.  GLad to have another cruiser head on this forum.

AnthonyGS GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/20/20 2:32 p.m.

Looking forward to updates!

trumant GRM+ Memberand New Reader
1/20/20 3:46 p.m.

Love it! I can definitely empathize with sorting out the puzzles, mysteries and missing parts when buying a heavily modded car.


How do you like the Chronos? How was the fit (width) and install process?

neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
1/20/20 8:11 p.m.
AnthonyGS said:

Looking forward to updates!


neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
1/20/20 8:22 p.m.
trumant said:

Love it! I can definitely empathize with sorting out the puzzles, mysteries and missing parts when buying a heavily modded car.


How do you like the Chronos? How was the fit (width) and install process?

They're wide, the driver's side has tad more room but the passenger seat already has a line pressed into the side from the door. On the passenger side it's also hard to grab the seatbelt with the door shut, most passengers have had to open it and twist to the side. The install was slow at first, the sliders fit too tight to the bottom of the seat so I couldn't actually slide them until I used a washer and a longer bolt to give me a little more room. I could only access a few of the floor bolts with a box wrench. Overall I'd say install was harder than my Rav4, easier than the Miata I owned for a few months (turns out I don't fit in those).

Comfort is alright. I honestly expected more from Sparcos. The lumbar area feels like it needs a tad more padding, and everything is firm enough that I don't want to take many long trips until the foam breaks in more. They have great lateral support, and it's rare for me to sit in a seat that has a headrest that's tall enough and has harness holes that fit with no mods, so it's great there. My head is skimming the sunroof so I might need to trim the seat bottom foam. Once they break in more and I get headroom sorted out, I think I'll be happy with them.

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/20/20 8:22 p.m.

Car looks great. I love e36s too!

Wizard_Of_Maz Reader
1/30/20 1:22 p.m.

RRT! Love those guys. Nice list of mods - the only thing I would eventually look to add is the oil pump nut reinforcement. I didn't do a ton of tracking in my E36 M3s, but that seems like a good investment for prolonged spirited driving.

Following this thread with interest :) 

trumant GRM+ Memberand New Reader
1/30/20 7:43 p.m.

Where are you thinking of running your HPDEs?

neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
3/20/20 9:55 a.m.

In reply to trumant :

Mostly VIR and Summit Point, but since I don't have much experience doing them, I'll be looking for as much seat time in VA as I can get.

neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
3/20/20 9:56 a.m.

In reply to Wizard_Of_Maz :

Yeah I can't find any record of that being done yet, although I haven't gone through every receipt so it's possible. If I pull the pan to reinforce the nut I'll probably want to combine that with adding a baffle to combat oil starvation.

neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
3/20/20 10:21 a.m.

I loaded the M3 up on the trailer to go to a test and tune a few weeks ago. I'll update the Land Cruiser thread with my progress getting weight distribution set up and the brake controller installed, but here's how it sits:

There's a very slight squat in the back, but it pulls so much better than with distribution, and with the brake controller everything feels good.

In prepping for the test and tune, I ran into a few issues. First was a click in the front driver's side. I tracked it down to a loose sway bar end link, but when I went to remove it the nut just spun on the bolt. What I expected to take a few minutes turned into 6 hours of dremeling, chiseling, torching the nylon out of the nut, and drilling. Here's a shot midway through:

Not my finest moment, but I've honestly never run into an issue like this before. Midway through I decided to get the nut off by whatever means necessary, and I would replace all the hardware if I had to. Better to learn and hopefully have an easier time next time. After way too long I was finally able to break the nut into enough pieces to get it off, and here's what the threads looked like:

I'm not sure what would cause that considering the end link probably was installed years ago and left alone. Maybe the PO or a shop re-torqued the nuts with an impact? This isn't very load-bearing, so it doesn't make sense to me why it would have been abused. 

Speaking of abuse, here's what I did to the bolt getting it off. I can't take credit for all of the rounding on the hexagonal portion, some of that was already there:

I know. Not great. But, that gave me the idea of trying to run a die on the threads and see how clean I could make it. I know it's not a long-term solution, but better than running without the bar at the test and tune, and if it doesn't hold it shouldn't be a safety concern. I'm not sure if I'm proud or embarrassed, but here's what I was able to clean it up to:

Since there are enough threads on the end to hold a nut, I went and bought some washers and a new nut, and ended up with this:

As of writing this a couple weeks later, it's holding fine and hasn't even needed to be re-torqued. I will definitely still replace it, but now I'm curious to see how well it does for a month or two.


The second issue was more minor, the driveshaft had insulation hanging down on it:

Now it doesn't:


The guibo also looks like it's in good shape, so my earlier theory about that being a possible source of the vibration is out. The PO thinks it could be the passenger side motor mount, so I'll add that to the list of things to look into.

SnowMongoose SuperDork
3/20/20 10:27 a.m.


I've basically given up on finding an E36 M3, as an example like this - anywhere near me - would be north of 12k.  (Even odds of it also coming with a rebuilt title)

How's driver fitment? Tall driver plus sunroof is frequently iffy, even with aftermarket seats and mounts

neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
3/20/20 10:36 a.m.

I made a quick pure sound video to test out recording audio with an external recorder. There's more wind noise than I'd like, but this is a first step to getting good recordings on the track:


neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
3/20/20 10:48 a.m.

In reply to SnowMongoose :

I don't think they're that hard to find for 7-8k, from what I've seen. Granted, one with this many mods is a little more rare, but it also wasn't that expensive. Where are you?

Fitment isn't great, I will have a post coming up soon on how I addressed it. The Chronos on Sparco sliders put my head firmly into the ceiling with a helmet on, to where I had to lean it to the right into the sunroof pocket to have enough room. On the street it's fine if I recline, but since BMW decided that the wheel shouldn't tilt or telescope, options are limited.

SnowMongoose SuperDork
3/20/20 11:19 a.m.

In reply to neverendingprojectgarage :


6k around here will get you a high mileage, thrashed, questionably modified (none of the recommended mods), rebuilt title example... on bald tires.

I'm 6'3" with stubby legs, sunroof is a no-go even before dealing with helmets.

neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
3/20/20 11:34 a.m.

In reply to SnowMongoose :

I'm also 6'3" with stubby legs (I guess, 32" inseam) and I wouldn't fit unless I was willing to lean the seat back quite a bit. I'll go take some pictures of what I did to fit, it's pretty good now even with a helmet.

trumant GRM+ Memberand Reader
6/8/20 6:51 p.m.

Any updates to share?

neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
6/24/20 11:45 a.m.

Yes! My apologies, I didn't realize I'd taken this long between updates. 

For the seat mod, here's what it looks like with the stock Sparco pad:

Here it is with the modified pad in place:


Where my head was hitting the ceiling before even without a helmet, I have this much room now:

This worked really well at a mid-march track sprint that our SCCA region did at VIR. I had plenty of helmet room and the lower seating position made the bolstering and my overall stability in the car work much better on the track. 

Here's one of my best runs:


The car is fantastic! Fresh tires helped, but we got enough time to run 10+ times so I was able to get more familiar with the car and steadily drop time throughout the afternoon. Besides maybe wanting a tad more power on the back straight, I'm still much more of a limitation than the car. It's neutral enough to be pushed much harder, and the feedback is progressive enough that I was able to easily figure out which areas of the track should be pushed harder, and which ones were tapped. 

Long story short.... I love this thing. Still getting a lot of vibration on decel, more on that in the next post.

neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
6/24/20 12:02 p.m.

Followup, here are the tires I swapped on right before the track sprint:


They're 255/40R-17 Falken Azenis RT615K+ SL. I wanted to go through a slightly cheaper set that would still be grippy before I move up to RE71Rs, which is what I usually run. I didn't feel much of a difference between them and the REs (granted the REs that came with the car were 90% done when I got it), so that probably means I need to push them a little harder to find the faults. 

Also, since a goal for this season is to improve photography for the region, here are a couple selections from the track sprint:

neverendingprojectgarage New Reader
6/24/20 12:36 p.m.

At VIR, I was still getting a lot of vibration on decel. I also noticed it if I was above about 75mph under acceleration. I messaged the previous owner to ask if he had any ideas. He said that the passenger side motor mount was feeling worn and he'd ordered new hardware before he sold the car. The hardware was included in the misc parts that came with the car, so I dug them out. 

I think I may see the problem...

It looks like the passenger-side motor mount stud sheared off a while ago, judging by the wear on the stud. Getting the mount out was difficult, because it's poly I wasn't able to make the other options work online that I've seen, where you can jack the engine up by midway down the oil pan just enough to wiggle the old rubber mount out. I also couldn't get my normal jack onto the front of the oil pan because of the layout of the non-stock steering rack. There was only enough room for a bottle jack, so I got this upgrade:


After I got the mount out, it's pretty obvious that it's much shorter:

The new hardware is in, the mount is back on, and the vibration is much improved. However, it still occasionally vibrates on decel, but not as harshly as before and for a shorter duration. Any ideas? My only one so far is that maybe that's just how poly trans and motor mounts feel, but that still doesn't make sense for why it's specific to deceleration. 

trumant (Forum Supporter)
trumant (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Reader
6/24/20 6:13 p.m.

What wheels are you running and how do those 255s fit? I'm running a square setup of 8.5" wide Sparco wheels and opted for the Azenis in 225.

Loved seeing your update pop up and the video looked like you were enjoying yourself. Quality of those photos is great, looking forward to seeing more in the future.

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