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trumant
trumant New Reader
1/19/20 9:08 p.m.

After trolling Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist all summer and fall I finally found my first project car.



 

Its a 96 328 in Morea Grun with 120k miles on the motor with an S52 swap, cheap coil overs, M50 manifold, long tube headers, cat less UUC exhaust, upgraded throttle body and injectors, tuned by Kassel Performance in York, PA. Original owner also did short shifter, bushings, stainless brake lines, M3 brakes, Z3 steering rack, M3 control arms....

 

I brought it home just before Halloween and have put maybe 300 miles on it on my local twisty backroads.

trumant
trumant New Reader
1/19/20 9:09 p.m.

Nice action shot from the previous owner

trumant
trumant New Reader
1/19/20 9:14 p.m.

First impressions of the car between October and this past Christmas:

  • Damn this thing is slammed
  • Backing up in a harness is near impossible
  • The alcantara interior work on the headliner and A and B pillars was clearly done in a rush
  • Damn this thing pulls. 245whp/241ftlbs based on prior dyno
  • These coilovers are trash. Also maybe decent swift springs but no idea on their specs
  • Power windows and window seals are questionable
  • I dare not attempt to open the sunroof
trumant
trumant New Reader
1/19/20 9:22 p.m.

Drove my lady and two sons to their mom's house on our unseasonably warm Xmas day. Hooned around the neighborhood a few times taking my lady and then my mom for some spirited rides around the neighborhood breaking the rears loose and powersliding through corners.

 

Noticed the next day that I had some coolant leaks on the garage floor and coolant showing around the overflow tank cap.

 

Went for two more spirited drives and while no overheating symptoms, the overflow puked an ounce of coolant each night afterward.

 

Over the holiday, checked the oil for coolant and the coolant for oil. All clear thank god. Decided I at minimum needed a new overflow tank and cap but decided to inspect the entire cooling system and go from there.

 

Closer inspection showed supple radiator hoses but the radiator was dated from 2007 and the stock clutch fan was lying in wait biding it's time to detonate and spew shrapnel everywhere.

trumant
trumant New Reader
1/19/20 9:33 p.m.

Based on diagnosis for repair and preventative maintenance put together a few orders from ECS Tuning and FCP Euro and Amazon. All told ended up with:

  • Mishimoto radiator (Amazon has best price?!?)
  • New rad hoses, overflow hoses, clamps
  • Spal slimline electric puller fan
  • Spal delay wiring harness
  • BMW coolant
  • Jack pads for my lifting/stand points
  • Jack adaptor that mounts to the jack points in the side skirts
  • Soldering iron, solder
  • 318 coolant temp sensor/switch (lower temp than stock M3)

While I have a jack and stands and enough tools to tackle a front brake job on my E350. I was missing a lot of essentials for the cooling system refresh. Between Harbor Freight and Home Depot ended up also needing to make several trips for tools and supplies:

  • Wire connectors: tap and butt and eyes
  • Zip ties
  • Needle nose plyers 
  • Metric ratcheting wrenchs
  • Drain pan
  • Shop towels, degreaser
  • Work lighting
  • M6 machine bolts to mount the fan shroud to radiator
Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
1/19/20 9:38 p.m.

I'm not crazy about e36's but this one speaks to me. I love it.  Color, stance, wheels, mods.. SEDANNESS...ughhhhhhhh

Buying more tools is also great. 

SnowMongoose
SnowMongoose SuperDork
1/19/20 9:38 p.m.

Looks good!  

I've been eyeballing non-m e36es recently as a dailyable track car, the M's check all the right boxes but the $$$ gap is getting pretty wide.

rico750sxi_2
rico750sxi_2 New Reader
1/19/20 9:40 p.m.

That is one sharp looking car, keep us updated on the progress. What tracks do you plan to take it to?

trumant
trumant New Reader
1/19/20 9:42 p.m.

After about a week of waiting for parts and a warm weekend to work (my garage isn't  heated) it was time to get to work.

 

The car is slammed so getting it on jack stands involved stacking some scrap lumber on the jack to get me adequate clearance.

 

Once the front end was up in the air I spent about 6 hours over my first weekend draining the rad, showering myself with coolant from the block drain and yanking the old rad, hoses and fan. Took pictures along the way so I had a decent visual of the original hose routing and wiring connections.
 

Unpacked all my parts so I could see what I was in for and figure out if I was missing anything. Turns out I ordered the wrong radiator coolant temp switch and I forgot to order one of the two coolant overflow hoses. I can't return the temp switch so I'm staying with the original from the old rad. The overflow hose I didn't order a replacement for is supple enough that I'm just going to reuse it too.

 

Reading the wiring harness guide for the fan has me stumped but a quick post here and in an hour I've got a ton of useful guides on wiring that save my bacon. Likewise reading and re-reading a BimmerForum post on the fan install and I had a decent plan of attack for the first wiring I've ever done.

 

While I had a plan sketched out I also had to fly to Denver for work and would be gone for the next five days. Project bulletproof cooling is getting shelved for a bit.

trumant
trumant New Reader
1/19/20 9:56 p.m.

I'm back from Denver and had about four hours over yesterday and today to get the fan wired and the rad and fan installed, filled and bled.

 

Because I researched the hell out of it the fan wiring actually worked on first test. That said, my tap connections are highly suspect and may require future inspections. Having a good eye under the car I also noticed that the aftermarket head and fog lights may have functional wiring but it deserves a good going over to ensure no exposed wires, get things routed more cleanly and remove anything that is extraneous.

 

The fan mounted to the radiator easily enough but the OEM shroud needed a few bits carved away courtesy of my Dremel. The radiator and hoses went in successfully after two attempts. First attempt I had the hoses routed/clamped in the wrong order and I simply couldn't snug the clamps until i undid and redid the whole thing.

 

I'm all ready to start mixing my distilled water and coolant and realize I only have half the coolant I need. Run out to the local parts store and spend an ungodly sum on 2 gals of coolant, $62.

 

Finally mixed and filling the system with the front of the car raised on stands. Start the car and crank the heat and coolant is dribbling out of somewhere. Turn car off and discover the lower hose isn't clamped tightly enough at the rad. Turn car back on, more coolant pissing on the floor. Car off to find the upper hose is also clamped too loose at the rad. Car back on and filled and bled without further incident.

 

Idled for five minutes or so and checked for leaks before heading out to top off the tires with air (seems I've got slow leaks in the back) and then while watching the temp gauge like a hawk did about 20 minutes of spirited driving. No movement on the needle and the heat was working great. Got home, left engine running with the hood popped just to verify my coolant temp switch was kicking the fan on via the relay.  Fan was running like a champ for about a minute and then clicked off once the rad coolant temp had fallen.

 

Success!

trumant
trumant New Reader
1/19/20 10:05 p.m.

To do items that cropped up while I was under the car

  •  Had to clean some grease/oil off the bottom of the oil pan and trans. Will be on the lookout for more and see where it's coming from
  • Small bit of rust (the size of a quarter at best) on the front passenger lifting point. Needs sanding back, rust reformer and some paint
  • Part of the air conditioning system has a broken bracket. No idea what the part even is...more research needed. Also have a used compressor to install before it gets to hot.
  • The condenser must be original and looks like it's seen some things. Wonder if that will need replaced by summer.
AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/19/20 10:07 p.m.

E36 sedan is crisp!

trumant
trumant New Reader
1/19/20 10:11 p.m.

Further plans for the car are all centered on readying it for a few track days at NJMP this spring and summer and probably some PhillySCCA autox. Never done a track day before but some experience driving my RX8 years back in a season of B Stock Solo.

 

Basic track day/autox readiness list is:

  • Square wheel setup and new tires. probably Apex ARC8s at 17x9
  • Brake inspection and definitely track capable pads plus whatever else I find
  • Adjust ride height up on existing coilovers or swap to something new: KWv3, TCKline, Fortune Auto 510?
  • Alignment

I think I've got plenty of runway to get it buttoned up by mid March but not looking forward to seeing the cash flow out the door so fast. Stalking FBM and CL and forums for some budget wheel or suspension options. Wish me luck!

trumant
trumant New Reader
1/19/20 10:18 p.m.
SnowMongoose said:

Looks good!  

I've been eyeballing non-m e36es recently as a dailyable track car, the M's check all the right boxes but the $$$ gap is getting pretty wide.

It is wide but I can't imagine what the original owner must have paid to swap all the M3 bits over. Definitely a case of I saved a little money, but I ended up with a freshly painted (2017) car that was reasonably well sorted albeit not a true M. My local market and BaT prices vs condition and mods on the E36 Ms is pricey and getting pricier. Had to grab this while I could.

ImthatGuy
ImthatGuy None
1/20/20 7:48 a.m.

have you checked rear strut mounts yet? last buddy had e36 slammed rear strut towers got damaged.

Robbie
Robbie GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/20/20 8:10 a.m.

The track is like an e36s natural habitat. Mike never felt quite so at home anywhere else.

trumant
trumant New Reader
1/20/20 8:32 a.m.
ImthatGuy said:

have you checked rear strut mounts yet? last buddy had e36 slammed rear strut towers got damaged.

It's on my list. Thanks for the reminder.

dyintorace
dyintorace GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/20/20 9:42 a.m.

I've owned a few e36 cars and love them. I've never seen that color though. It's gorgeous!

dps214
dps214 Reader
1/20/20 9:58 a.m.

Just FYI if you want to drop a few pounds from the front end and make the radiator a bit more efficient...the fan you put in should be more than enough to keep everything cool, you can ditch the stock secondary electric fan altogether My supercharged, non-intercooled S52 always did fine with just the stock e-fan (mechanical fan removed) and a lower temp fan switch. Never tracked but it held up to autocross well enough and track driving should actually be easier on it since there's always airflow through the radiator.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
1/20/20 1:08 p.m.

Congrats on the car, that color looks fantastic with all of the M-bits painted to match. And I love the Z3M wheels on it. Careful on running harnesses with the stock seats... I'd rather just see stock three-points unless you do fixed-back seats and a bolt-in rollbar at minimum.

The shock towers like to rust out, especially in the rear. Check on those (have to peel trunk liner back). The fronts can mushroom. BMW sells reinforcement plates for the front that are cheap from the dealership (or FCP Euro) and slip in easily to help prevent.

FCP Euro and Bimmerworld will be your new best friends.

4doors4lyfe, welcome to the club:

dyintorace
dyintorace GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/20/20 1:40 p.m.
Brake_L8 said:

Congrats on the car, that color looks fantastic with all of the M-bits painted to match. And I love the Z3M wheels on it. Careful on running harnesses with the stock seats... I'd rather just see stock three-points unless you do fixed-back seats and a bolt-in rollbar at minimum.

The shock towers like to rust out, especially in the rear. Check on those (have to peel trunk liner back). The fronts can mushroom. BMW sells reinforcement plates for the front that are cheap from the dealership (or FCP Euro) and slip in easily to help prevent.

FCP Euro and Bimmerworld will be your new best friends.

4doors4lyfe, welcome to the club:

Also super cool looking! There is a reason the M3/4/5 cars command a premium. They're perfect!

trumant
trumant New Reader
1/20/20 2:25 p.m.
Brake_L8 said:

Congrats on the car, that color looks fantastic with all of the M-bits painted to match. And I love the Z3M wheels on it. Careful on running harnesses with the stock seats... I'd rather just see stock three-points unless you do fixed-back seats and a bolt-in rollbar at minimum.

Fixed back seats and likely a rollbar or cage are in my future. Want to get some HPDE days under my belt before I decide what to get and commit to the expense and on-road sacrifice.

trumant
trumant New Reader
1/23/20 4:56 p.m.

Joined the SCCA again (after 10+ years since my last membership) and the BMWCCA.

 

My local SCCA chapters run quite a few track days near me and the local chapter of BMWCCA has a great local reputation for quality instruction and well organized events.

 

The object is to get registered for one or two events in early spring which will be a strong motivation to get my plans in motion to replace the wheels, tires, brake pads and suspension. I'm a deadline driven creature but at least I know how to use that to my benefit.

JeremyJ
JeremyJ Reader
1/23/20 5:07 p.m.

Great looking car. I have a soft spot for the E36. I look forward to future mods and pictures. 

dj06482
dj06482 GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/23/20 8:30 p.m.

Also replace the radiator cap while you're in there. Mine was leaking slightly on my '96 328is (you could see a fine mist escaping at night when you had a light shining on it). 
 

Love the build, it makes me miss mine.

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