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Thread: Simple M3

  1. #1

    Default Simple M3

    Simple M3

    Yeah, yeah I have commitment problems when it comes to cars. The Miata has been sold, and it was sad for a number of reasons. Loved the car, but I simply did not fit. But letís back up a bit. Before I ever bought the Miata, and in fact before I had the 2002 I think, I have been talking about buying an E36 M3. I had a 318ti a few years back, but that wasnít quite enough for me. Iíve always loved the E36 body style, and an M3 is just timeless.

    A few problems. First, I wanted a sedan. I prefer the body lines, I like the functionality, and for whatever it is worth the chassis is stiffer. Iím not tracking the car, but itís a nice thing to brag about in a parking lot with your friends. Second, I didnít want to spend the prices these things are now going for. Does anyone remember a few years ago when E36 M3s were disposable? Finding a not destroyed M3 is nearly impossible, and those that are nice are far too expensive in my opinion.

    I got a DM on Instagram one morning about this car. Low miles, manual sedan, decent interior, looked well kept. It just so happens that it also belonged to someone who is pretty well known in these parts. You may know him from his Trans AM build at SEMA last year. I reached out, and arranged to come take a look at the car while I was in LA for the Japanese Classic Car Show.


    I wish I took more photos while at Stanceworks headquarters while buying the M3, but I was too excited about the car itself. I managed to snap the one photo after test driving the M3, just before I set off for the rest of my weekend adventure. Special thanks to Riley for making this an easy pick up.


    After departing Stanceworks headquarters, I went straight to PCH for a cruise up to our hotel. Thanks to my friend @nhammon for grabbing this quick photo. Needless to say I was about as happy as I could be at that point.


    Obligatory first fill up photo. The first day was pretty limited. I took it to Period Correct, took no photos in front of the store front for some reason, and then headed back to the hotel. The following day we went to the Japanese Classic Car Show, so I left the M3 at the hotel and carpooled with friends. But as we got to the evening, I was dying to drive the car again. I suggested we visit Neptuneís Net in Malibu, and take some photos in the canyons. So we all hopped in our cars and hit the PCH once more to cruise to the Malibu hills. I wanted to take some photos at The Snake car park. And it went like this:


    Just past that sign was the car park, literally one turn away. Iím guessing the fires probably caused the road closure, but Iím not 100% sure. Either way, I didnít dare go past the sign. The last thing I wanted was a trespassing ticket on this trip. Bummed, but still happy to have driven that evening, we went to Neptunes Net. We went down another canyon road and I opened up the M3 a little, windows down, sun setting. Then I saw a great little spot to stop.








    Followed by a brief drive in Long Beach near my hotel to round out the night.


    Sunday was the day I had to drive it from LA back to Phoenix. I would be lying if I said I wasnít dreading this, I have had a bad history with E36s and this drive. Most notably my 318ti blew up just outside of Phoenix a few years ago. I had almost no history on this car, and really no recourse if anything went majorly wrong. I didnít even have a spare tire.


    It went without incident. The car cruises perfectly at definitely 100% legal speeds. The car was quiet, comfortable and really a joy to drive for such a long distance. After the first hour, all my worries were gone and I just enjoyed the drive back.

    I temporarily parked it in the 2002s dedicated spot, since itís still not back home. I put nearly 500 combined miles on it this weekend, and they were all trouble free.


    There are a few catches. Part of why the car was so reasonably priced, was the paint on the driverís side is torched. Itís gone on the fender, and the doors are starting to go as well. The wing is almost completely shot, and yet somehow the rest of the car is actually fine.


    Thatís the worst of the damage there, but it gives you an idea of what Iím up against. Otherwise the interior, of which I have no photos of for some reason, is clean. I have a few minor items to clean up, but compared to some of the other E36s I looked at, this interior is in mint condition. The engine pulls strong, and the trans seems healthy. Really hard to complain about any of that.

    So now comes the inevitable question of: What is the plan for this M3?

    Iíll be honest, I donít know quite what I want to do with this car yet. Originally I wanted to daily drive an E36, but I have other aspirations of finally replacing my lemon of a Fiesta ST with a truck for that purpose. Which leaves this to a back roads bomber. For now, I want to clean the car up. Fix some of the little issues it has, refresh critical components and just enjoy driving it. Too often my projects end up on jack stands for too long, and I lose interest. I just want to put as many miles as I can on this car.

    I do want to address the paint in some way. Iíve been debating wrapping the car, as Iíve never had that done to any of my cars before, and silver was one of my very last choices. I also have a very specific set of wheels I want for this car, so Iíll be on the hunt for those as this goes on.

    The dream would be to put an S54 in this car someday, but that requires unnecessary down time. So for now, we focus on keeping things simple. Make it sharper, make it more enjoyable and just enjoy the car as it is. Perhaps thatís a bit boring for a build thread, but Iíd like this car to focus on the adventures you can have behind the wheel, instead of the adventures you have behind the wrench.

    So there it is. Another E36 build thread in the Stanceworks forums. But this one started at Stanceworks HQ, so that has to count for something?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Great pick, congrats. I think you made the better decision, keep it on the road and do small jobs here and there. Paint is not critical to mechanical operation.
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

  3. #3
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    I am excited for this one and i would be lying if i wasn't jealous and a little bit sad when i saw you was driving it around the LA area and then back to Phoenix.
    Instagram - Benwalsh91

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by gnmzl View Post
    Great pick, congrats. I think you made the better decision, keep it on the road and do small jobs here and there. Paint is not critical to mechanical operation.
    Thanks! That's kind of the idea. With my 2002, I miss driving it desperately. I'm sure that it's the right call to restore, but I **** having it down for so long. Rather than go through that with another car, I'm just going to enjoy this one mostly as is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Benwalsh91 View Post
    I am excited for this one and i would be lying if i wasn't jealous and a little bit sad when i saw you was driving it around the LA area and then back to Phoenix.
    Thanks! And totally understand that, I know the feeling myself! I wanted to take your suggestion and go up the coast but it was too long a haul for this weekend unfortunately. But given the goal is to put as many miles as I can on this thing, sounds like a visit to Freedom Meat Locker is in order sooner than later haha.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Nice pick up, will be watching for sure. Nothing wrong with another silver E36 build lol.
    97 M3 GT2
    2018 SIERRA TOW RIG

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Atlanta, GA
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    So gorgeous! What a clean and beautifully maintained car. Like others have said, paint's not going to hurt anything mechanically, which is nice. What a great find!



    Static 1986 Guards Red NA Porsche 944
    P O R S C H E P A I ~
    The Poor Woman's Porsche

    @kenznotmercedes

  7. #7

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    Not a sedan fan at all, but I still love to see e36s everywhere paint is the classic hot-climate-fade, I'd leave it as is!

    This time you can install one of those fancy seats without worrying about trying to fit in it!
    Just needs coilovers and wheels, and maybe front lca lollipops, and pics of the interior in this thread

    FB: @DumbassCarCrew - IG: @fruttolo_dumbasscrew

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by hinrichs View Post
    Nice pick up, will be watching for sure. Nothing wrong with another silver E36 build lol.
    Thanks! Always room for another E36 build around here, keeps things interesting haha.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kenz View Post
    So gorgeous! What a clean and beautifully maintained car. Like others have said, paint's not going to hurt anything mechanically, which is nice. What a great find!
    I agree! Honestly the nice part about this car being silver is it hides the clear coat failure well. From a few feet away it just looks hazy instead of peeling. So I can enjoy it without too much concern for now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fruttolo View Post
    Not a sedan fan at all, but I still love to see e36s everywhere paint is the classic hot-climate-fade, I'd leave it as is!

    This time you can install one of those fancy seats without worrying about trying to fit in it!
    Just needs coilovers and wheels, and maybe front lca lollipops, and pics of the interior in this thread
    Funny enough I don't even want to put a bucket seat in this car haha. In the Miata it was an issue to help me fit and for the track, in the M3 I'm feeling like stock is good for now. I'd love to source some clean Vaders from a coupe for an OEM+ look, but I'm in no rush.

    And I'll take some pictures of the interior soon, I completely forgot about that all weekend.

  9. #9
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    E36 sedans are the best, nice score! Some people **** on silver but it's such an easy color to live with. I had a titanium coupe back in the day and still miss it.


    @cblock406

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
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    Essex/London - UK
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    Day 3, still no interior photos.
    Instagram - Benwalsh91

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Benwalsh91 View Post
    Day 3, still no interior photos.
    I know, I know haha. Hereís a couple to hold everyone over.






    So Iíll call out a few flaws first. The rear seat has some tears in the bottom. I think just sourcing a new black leather base will be the easiest fix. Unfortunately, for a sedan that seems to be a bit of a struggle. The front seats are in good shape, though the driverís seat has the normal bolster wear. Iíve been on the fence about going to Vaders in this car, I think if I could find a clear powered set, I would go for it.

    The Mtech steering wheel is an obvious highlight. Wrapped in suede, M stitching, itís honestly one of the coolest parts of the car. I ordered some cleaner to see if I can pull out the fade from it a little, but I have no plans on changing steering wheels in that car.

    Not picture is the moon roof. The panel fell at some point, so itís just gross glue residue. Iíll probably have the whole headliner redone at some point, so Iíll address that then. Otherwise everything is just stock and nice. I donít even want to put another radio in the car, I like having the OEM triple amber screens in there.


    Bonus photo, cracked 127k last night. Picked it up just a hair over 126k, so itís been a fun 1000 miles so far. I got a few parts in, I have a line on some other parts I want, so Iíll hopefully get to refreshing this car soon.

  12. #12

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    You drove this more miles in the first week than I drove mine in the first year LOL
    Interior looks nice af, but is that steering wheel's leather OEM? Dunno if it is the picture but it looks like it was re-wrapped?

    FB: @DumbassCarCrew - IG: @fruttolo_dumbasscrew

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fruttolo View Post
    You drove this more miles in the first week than I drove mine in the first year LOL
    Interior looks nice af, but is that steering wheel's leather OEM? Dunno if it is the picture but it looks like it was re-wrapped?
    Yeah, it was rewrapped in suede at some point. It's in great shape, but a little dirty at the moment. I ordered some product from Adam's Polishes that will hopefully put some new life into it.

  14. #14

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    Back Story

    Hope you like reading, there arenít a lot of photos on this update. So this last weekend I had planned to spend some time going through the car and cleaning things up. However somehow I ended up driving to LA and back AGAIN. For those not familiar, the drive from Phoenix to LA is about the most boring 6 hours there is. Iíve now done that back to back weekends. It was for a good cause, my friend bought this:


    Manual, V8, blower... Puts my Simple M3 to shame. But thatís the reason I didnít get much done. Once he has some time to sort that car out, I want to take photos of my M3 and his 540i together. When I got back Sunday evening, I decided I needed to drive the M3 at least once this weekend. I checked the oil, and immediately ran to the parts store to get everything I needed for an oil change. I know ďLow is a LifestyleĒ around here, but I donít think that includes oil level.


    After driving all day, I found myself doing an oil change in the driveway. I had tucked my daily driver in the garage, and I was just too tired to shuffle them again. Not ideal, but I wasnít going to sleep well until I knew just how much oil came out of that engine. The answer was not much. So the question is, where is it going? We topped the engine off before driving back from California last week, and although it does have some minor leaks, it shouldnít equate for the level being as low as it was. So either we have some wicked blow by, or I have a more serious leak that somehow isnít making it to the ground. Either way, something to figure out.

    So thatís all that got done on the car physically. It drives fine, no funny noises, no loss of power. But oil is going somewhere it shouldnít. Now hereís where the wall of text comes in. If you like reading, this post is for you.

    Out of boredom and curiosity I wanted to see if I could find more information on this car. I found another previous owner of this car through Instagram, and reached out to get some more information from him. I knew a few oddball facts about it just from deduction. For example the throttle pedal still had a kick down switch, so obviously the car had started life auto.

    He told me some of the following, which I thought was really interesting.

    1. The car originally belong to his friendís wife. The car was overheated and cooked the head gasket, and was put into storage for about 10 years. He acquired in in a trade, rebuilt the head last year and started cleaning the car up, before deciding to sell it.
    2. The manual swap was done 15 years ago, and because of the EWS the way the keys work is pretty funky. Long story short, I lose the keys the car is bricked.
    3. The car originally came with a full dove grey interior. It was completely swapped out for all brand new black interior pieces early on in its life.
    4. Half the suspension and other bits under the car are brand new as of earlier this year.


    Ok cool, so now I have a better understanding of why this car was so low miles. For the most part, itís been sitting for the last decade. The black interior swap explains why it so fresh for the most part, and considering the period it was done in, explains why everything is so well done. He also dropped one more interesting bomb on me. In a continued case of ďsmall worldĒ he is friends with the guy I bought my 2002 from. To make it even wilder, the guy I bought my 2002 from is the same guy who painted Rileyís Trans AM, who I bought the M3 from. So in a very unimportant way, my two BMWs are kind-of-not-really connected.

    What are the odds?

    I have a back roads drive in a few weeks that I would like to take the M3 on. Iím waiting on a few more parts, and Iím hoping to find a pair of rear DS2s so I can run square 245s. Those arenít the permanent wheels Iíve been hinting at before, but itíll be a nice OEM+ change for Radwood later this year.

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    Cool to find out most of the back story for the car. I was sort of able to do the same with mine, since Kalil knew the one previous owner of mine....then some dumb kid is the one I got it from who didnt do anything he said he did. Hopefully your oil issue isnt anything major.
    97 M3 GT2
    2018 SIERRA TOW RIG

  16. #16

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    Well I'll be honest, this is much better than the Miata!

    I didn't know Riley was selling this car, I was so curious to see what he had in store.

    Anyway, now your turn to surprise me!

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by hinrichs View Post
    Cool to find out most of the back story for the car. I was sort of able to do the same with mine, since Kalil knew the one previous owner of mine....then some dumb kid is the one I got it from who didnt do anything he said he did. Hopefully your oil issue isnt anything major.
    I’m hoping not either. I’m keeping an eye on the oil carefully right now. There are definitely some drips under the car, so I need to sort those out sooner than later. But hopefully this is nothing too seriously.

    Quote Originally Posted by DawsonLiri View Post
    Well I'll be honest, this is much better than the Miata!

    I didn't know Riley was selling this car, I was so curious to see what he had in store.

    Anyway, now your turn to surprise me!
    It’s funny, a lot of people were asking why I bought a Miata. In retrospect it didn’t really suit me, though I do really love those cars. The M3 makes me way happier for sure.

    And my understanding was this car was destined for a track car treatment. He had some serious coilovers and wheels for it. I’m not going that route but I may have some surprises down the line haha. I’ve had a dream plan for an E36 for years, but I don’t want to detract from the 2002 as I move forward.

  18. #18

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    More Noise Please

    Iíve been debating what all I wanted to do with the car, and one thing I kept circling back to was an exhaust. The car is simply too quiet in stock form. A friend of mine suggested an aFe intake, as it provided a lot of induction noise and paired with the stock cat back well. I figured that this was a cheaper change than any quality cat back, and was at least worth trying. As luck would have it, someone fairly local to me happened to list that exact intake the same day he suggested it to me. Brand new in box, at a fraction of the price, I arranged to meet him and pick it up.


    He didnít really list any photos, but sure enough the intake was literally brand new in box.


    It really is a bone stock S52. Iím so used to at least seeing an M50 manifold, that this looks almost foreign to me.


    And installed. I would say that the heat shield was a pain in the ass. Beyond that, an obviously easy change.

    Verdict is, I still want an exhaust. Itís throaty, it adds some desperately needed sound to the car when you get on the throttle, but is otherwise pretty quiet still. As with any intake on a NA car, there are no real power gains to be had, but I really do enjoy the sound. Again, simple changes to improve the car bit by bit. This was a great first step, and will hold me over until I decide to commit to a nice cat back. In the mean time, I want to finish some external cosmetic bits.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
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    South Florida
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    Simple it is. Nice pickup! Enjoy.

  20. #20

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    Nice first mod, those cars are waaay too quiet for real. M50 manifold, emissions cans delete and an oil catch can would be my first steps in the engine bay

    FB: @DumbassCarCrew - IG: @fruttolo_dumbasscrew

  21. #21

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    Maintenance Log

    Nothing of super importance to note, other than some basic maintenance and care. But it comes with a fun story, so thought I'd make a post.


    First thing is first, I put some brand new RE71rs on the front of the car. That's what the rear had, but had some cheapy all seasons up front. I drove all the way home from California before bothering to check the date code. Turns out, the front tires were 12 years old. Oops.

    I still haven't found wheels that I want for the car, and I didn't want to continue driving on those time bombs, so I just bit the bullet and bought new front tires. Suddenly the front end vibration was gone, and the car drove a million times better. Wonder what was causing that . While I was at it, I also bought a brand new spare. I found a stock Contour wheel for sale locally, and just had a new all-season slapped on. Given my luck with flats, I didn't want to drive around without it. So the car now has proper tires across the board.


    Last weekend I took the car to Fourtillfour, a local coffee place that puts on some great little shows. This one was 60-90s JDM and Euros only. So the M3 was right at home. Unfortunately, as usual, these shitty headlights really let the car down visually. But I had a great time regardless.


    That said, the drive there became a big moment of anxiety. When I pulled up to the show, a very, VERY distinct knocking could be heard from my engine bay. Oh no, here we go, I blew it up. I was skeptical at first, because the sound was a little muffled to be a rod knock, but it was RPM dependent. It didn't help a friend of mine would not stop saying "That's definitely rod knock, it's fucked". But I got home, and started going through it. I thought maybe a sparkplug was loose, as others seem to have had this issue. Sure enough, cylinder 3 spark plug was finger tight. I torqued it to spec, and no more knock. But that was a stressful afternoon.




    Finally, because I can't help myself, I ordered a Condor Speed Shop tall shift knob. I had one in my old 318ti and loved it. So far so good in the M3, though it has highlighted that I need a short shifter in this car.

    Currently I'm waiting on some headlights to arrive from another SW forum member, and I'm ordering some refresh parts for the car. After that it'll finally be time to tackle suspension, and wheels. Then the whole simple thing is being tossed out the window next year. But more information on that later, I don't want to spoil the surprise and let everyone down.

    So until then, there will be a few more boring refresh posts. Bare with me.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    I like this update
    97 M3 GT2
    2018 SIERRA TOW RIG

  23. #23

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    Was going to ask on ig if that knob wasn't way too tall for stock shifter throw but you answered before I asked LOL
    Loose plugs seem to be a common problem, mine had 5 loose, still can't figure how it wasn't misfiring or not running at all

    FB: @DumbassCarCrew - IG: @fruttolo_dumbasscrew

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    SK, Canada
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    Love me some M3.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by hinrichs View Post
    I like this update
    Thank you

    Quote Originally Posted by Fruttolo View Post
    Was going to ask on ig if that knob wasn't way too tall for stock shifter throw but you answered before I asked LOL
    Loose plugs seem to be a common problem, mine had 5 loose, still can't figure how it wasn't misfiring or not running at all
    So the knob is definitely pretty tall for the stock throw, however the trade of is very easy shifts because of the leverage. I certainly plan to do a SSK at some point, so frankly it doesn't matter too much in the short term to me. That said I did have a slight issue with the shift knob, but I'll detail that below.

    Quote Originally Posted by heeter_33 View Post
    Love me some M3.
    M3 too

    Welp

    Some friends and I decided to do an early morning canyon drive. Saw this as the perfect opportunity to put the M3 through it's paces with some spirited driving. If you're ever in the Phoenix area, not too far away is a spot called Tortilla Flat. It's at the end of a particularly long stretch of windy road, and has some spectacular scenes along the way. Really not a bad way to break in the M3.


    The following photos were taken by my friend Lane (@fast_lane_photo). Super talented guy, and made the M3 look way better than it actually is. I couldn't help but share.











    From a mechanical stand point, I'm beyond stoked on this car. It handled the drive beautifully. I do notice a bit of understeer from this staggered tire sizes, it really feels like the front end just needs a 245 as well, but there is only so much you can push it on a public road safely. I think it might be time for a track day. I have my eyes on a set of wheels too, so we may resolve that soon enough.

    Now here's the problem I mentioned prior. My shift knob broke... Or at the very least is defective. After my canyon drive we stopped for breakfast and I left the M3 in the middle of the parking lot. When I came back, hopped in the car and took off, my shift knob was rattling.


    This is supposed to be a video, so I guess click it if you can't watch it here...

    Alright not ideal. I took it out of the car, sure enough shake it and it rattles. It looks like the weight was loose inside. Zero issues with it prior. I dumped it on the counter, came back a few hours later to figure it out, and it was no longer rattling. It looks like the delrin expanded in the heat, as there was direct sunlight on it for the couple hours it was parked, and that was enough to cause the weight to stop rattling. Once it cooled down the weight was no longer rattling. Fortunately, Condor has agreed to exchange it because that one was clearly defective. I had one in my 318ti a few years back and never had that issue, even in intense AZ summers. I've sent it back and I'm waiting on the new one. I got a lot of questions on the shift knob on Instagram surprisingly, so I figured this was a worthwhile update. I'll keep you all posted on the outcome of the exchange.

    But that's a first for me, I've never had a shift knob fail.

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