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AngryCorvair UltimaDork
2/27/16 10:27 p.m.

Last week I sold Ursula the E12 and picked up something a little more modern. Allow me to introduce you to Sadie, the $1500 M3:

Sadie has covered 202k mi in her 22 years, and is definitely rough around the edges. Service records in the owners manual indicate she was well-loved for the first 140k, but I think she's dated a couple losers over the last few years. A hit to the LR has shoved the trunk to the right, so the decklid doesnt latch and both tail lights are rotated CCW. As received, Sadie's rolling on three E46 M3 19"s with 235/35 rubber bands, and one OE 17" with a 225/45 Blizzak. She didn't come with a fourth 19, but there are two more OE 17s in the trunk. Immediate needs are LF LCA, hood release cables, tires, brake pads, and a little straightening on a body rack. The 19s will be sold to fund some of her needs.

While not specifically being built for the GRM Challenge, I will keep detailed records in case that option opens up for me. My goal is just to have fun with a budget build, addressing what needs to be done and making her presentable once again.

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
2/27/16 10:40 p.m.

Sadie's interior is her second-best feature (after her drivetrain). Black Vaders just need a little leather dye, the door panels and rear seats are perfect, and there are no cracks in the dash. Even the seat heaters work!

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
2/27/16 10:48 p.m.

This is currently not her best side:

But what she lacks in gluteal symmetry, she makes up for in heart:

She willingly revs into the red part of the tach and sounds oh so good getting there!

MrChaos HalfDork
2/27/16 11:29 p.m.

Aren't the seats worth more than the car atm?

TA_ New Reader
2/28/16 5:50 a.m.

I visited the Craigslist ad for this at least 50 times. Glad to see that a GRMer got it though.

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
2/28/16 6:02 a.m.

In reply to MrChaos:

IDK what people are paying for these seats these days, but if I can't get the rear end rearranged for less than $500, I'm gonna find out!

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
2/28/16 7:49 a.m.

Too bad you aren't closer to central PA. I know a one-man shop with a frame rack and he could probably straighten out the rear for a reasonable price.

If you want to attempt to DIY-it, the deck lid might be salvageable, but chances are the hinges are torqued and you'll need new ones.

Is the lone wheel on the rear? The damage kinda looks like it was hit and pushed into a curb. Check for suspension damage. IIRC, the rear control arms on these are designed to be a somewhat sacrificial part and bend easily. Replacements are pretty cheap. It's the one downside of stronger adjustable control arms - they transfer impact forces to less easy and cheap to replace parts.

Good luck! Looks like a fun project. If I ever stumble across an M3 in similar condition, I doubt I could pass on it either.

Lof8 HalfDork
2/28/16 7:56 a.m.

I like it. I'm in to follow along.

JohnRW1621 MegaDork
2/28/16 8:13 a.m.

I suspect that Sadie is to be pronounced "Say-dee" but this photo and the current exterior state invokes me more to say "Sad-y"

Cool find. Good luck.

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
2/28/16 9:52 a.m.

In reply to Ian F:

Yes, the lone 17" was on the right rear, but the car tracks straight and I didn't see any obvious kinks in the right rear suspension. I will certainly take a closer look after I get the front suspension done.

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
2/29/16 8:16 p.m.

During the 60-mile drive home, it sounded like riding in a helicopter at any speed above about 45 mph. Vibration was not there under acceleration, but it was pretty bad at constant speed and even worse when coasting in gear. I did not try to diagnose it on the drive home, as I was also concerned with losing the left front ball joint.

Once I got home, my research pointed to driveshaft center support bearing as likely source of helicopter effect, so I ordered a new CSB and some other goodies from Rock Auto. Servicing the driveshaft requires dropping the exhaust, and with 22 years and 202k mi, there was no way the nuts were coming off the manifold studs. So, this happened: in a straight section just after the two downpipes become one. And what did I find? Nothing wrong with guibo, CSB, or joint at diff.

So now I'm thinking there's something wrong in the trans or diff, and I realize I have done no actual on-car diagnosis. I also realize that I need to get the three 19" rims off the car so I can sell them. As I removed the wheels, I observed that most of the wheel bolts required very little effort to break loose. Like, they were all loose. Since I had them with me, I installed a matching set of Sport Edition A7 rims with worn-out Blizzaks and torqued the wheel bolts to 85 ft-lb. The ensuing drive showed that the helicopter vibration was gone. And the car looks a lot better.

RossD UltimaDork
2/29/16 8:27 p.m.

I hate when I buy driveline parts and cut the exhaust in half when I should have torqued the lugnuts. Everytime...

Seriously though, I wouldnt have guessed they were loose especially with the tail damage looking all guilty.

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
2/29/16 8:51 p.m.

In reply to RossD:

Yeah, me too. I hit AdvanPepZone for a 2.5" OD coupler and a couple of clamps and scabbed the pipe back together.

I am half tempted to reinstall the suspect wheels and tires and torque the wheel bolts, so I can isolate the effect of crappy tires. Because engineer. But I can't see how the tires would be quiet on drive while noisy on float and coast, so I'm not going to spend the time or effort on that.

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
3/1/16 10:02 a.m.

Oops, forgot to include the budget. Units are USD. Expenses shown in parentheses.

2,220.00 Proceeds from sale of E12.

(1,500.00) M3 purchase price.
(113.00) tax tag title.
(9.19) Exhaust coupler and clamps.
(100.00) Rims with worn-out Blizzaks.

(1,722.19) total cost to date.

497.81 available balance.

patgizz UltimaDork
3/1/16 12:17 p.m.

could it have been diff noise from different diameter tires on the rear? GM limited slips hate different size tires side to side, and they go as far as telling you if you have a flat rear you need to pull a fullsize off the front and toss the spare up there in the owners manuals.

otherwise, if it was quiet under power and noisy coasting, you were loading the loose nuts/studs against the wheel making them "tight" under power. that happened to one of my trucks right before the studs sheared and the wheel came off.

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
3/1/16 3:49 p.m.

In reply to patgizz:

Nominal tire diameter difference only 2% (25.5" vs 25.0").

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
3/1/16 7:03 p.m.
AngryCorvair wrote: Oops, forgot to include the budget. Units are USD. Expenses shown in parentheses. 2,220.00 proceeds from sale of E12. (1,722.19) total cost to date. 497.81 available balance.


300.00 sold 19" rims via Detroit CL.

(1,422.19) Total cost to date.

797.81 available balance.

With the drivetrain vibration issue solved, I moved on to the next big issue limiting Sadie's driveability: the very loose outer ball joint on the LF LCA. Once again I turned to GRM advertiser Rock Auto for a new LF LCA assembly, for $118.55 to my door. A few days later, a large but lightweight triangular "Moog" box showed up. Too light to be the right part, I checked the PN before opening the box. Since the OE part is cast iron, I was shocked to see an aluminum LCA! So, yeah, another minor win. Some internet sleuthing told me that this is a Z3 part that backdates to the E36 and even the E30.

Chassis mounts for front bar have to be detached so the bar can be dropped down out of the way...

To gain tool access to that nut way back by the motor mount. Once that nut was removed, a little work with the pickle fork and hammer freed the inner ball joint from the subframe. Similar work at the outer ball joint, plus removal of two bolts holding the bushing at the rear of the LCA, and this could happen:

After buttoning it all up, the test drive showed a large improvement in road manners and a large reduction in NVH, but also showed that the right side is sloppy and clunky too.

Budget update after LF LCA:

(1,422.19) previous total.

(118.55) LF LCA.

(1,540.74) Total cost to date.

$679.26 Available balance.

And yes, I ordered the Moog RF LCA from Rock Auto today. ;-)

Cooper_Tired Reader
3/1/16 10:20 p.m.


Watching this thread with interest.

java230 HalfDork
3/2/16 9:51 a.m.

Seems like a decent deal, hope the rear end straightening goes well

VWguyBruce Dork
3/2/16 8:33 p.m.

Man, I had a good left control arm and some freshly loaded lollipops for both sides. Would've sold them to you for cheap! I need to pay better attention!

JohnRW1621 MegaDork
3/3/16 3:56 a.m.

In your budget you show $113 for tax, tag, title.

I realize the are real costs but for purposes of The Challenge, they are exempt.

Quoting the rules:
Title fees and so on, in case you bothered, are exempt.

Shipping counts toward parts prices. Sales tax does not.

DeadSkunk UltraDork
3/3/16 7:29 a.m.
JohnRW1621 wrote: In your budget you show $113 for tax, tag, title. I realize the are real costs but for purposes of The Challenge, they are exempt. Quoting the rules: Title fees and so on, in case you bothered, are exempt. Shipping counts toward parts prices. Sales tax does not.

Having trouble sleeping? Just noticed the time of your post.

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
3/5/16 10:01 p.m.

Small progress is still progress, so here's another update. As purchased, the LF headlights did not work and the LF turn signal assembly was MIA.

A quick look under hood revealed that there were no bulbs in the LF headlights! So, just a few dollars and a few minutes later I had this:

The lenses were pitted and cloudy, so I hit them with soapy water and 1000-, 1500-, and 2000-grit paper, then the Mothers headlight polish on the foam ball with the cordless drill. They cleaned up nicely. As the last hurrah for the night, I installed the LF turn signal assembly, and she looked like this:

Budget update:

(1,540.74) previous total.

(~7.00) high and low beam bulbs.

(~8.50) LF turn signal assy.

(1,556.24) total cost to date.

300.00 recouped to date.

$663.76 available balance

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
3/6/16 9:11 p.m.

IDK how to embed video so here's a link instead:

For captdownshift

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
3/13/16 11:11 p.m.

Sadie spent some quality time on the hoist today, took care of a bunch of stuff, but nothing too exciting.

The aluminum RF LCA came in ($118.55 to my door from rockauto.com thanks to their 5% discount):

I found a scale with higher resolution and weighed the steel LCA (8.2#) and the aluminum LCA (4.1#).

Changed the oil and filter. Out with the old:

And in with the new (ok, so the new was already in when I took this pic): She holds almost 7 quarts. Second jug not shown. Bought two of the $18.99 oil change specials, $40.26 with tax.

When I dropped the exhaust to inspect the driveshaft assembly, I had to remove the exhaust heat shield from the tunnel. Dissimilar metal corrosion over the years made the mounting holes a lot bigger than original. A quick trip to Home Depot ($6.49) and I had some 3/4" long #14 sheet metal screws and some 1/4" and 1/2" fender washers, which cover the holes in the shield and distribute the clamp load over larger areas:

And I tightened up my exhaust repair sleeve and clamps (in budget summary from March 1st) and used the death wheel to trim the excess thread length:

I also spent some time, but no money, cleaning up and lubricating the hood latch assemblies. Now I can send the hood cable set back to Pelican, as there was nothing functionally wrong with my existing cables.

(1,556.24) previous total.

(118.55) RF LCA.

(40.26) oil and filter.

(6.49) hardware.

(1,721.54) total cost to date.

300.00 recouped to date.

$498.46 available balance.

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