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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E36 (1991 - 1999)

E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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Old 03-31-2015, 10:34 AM
frankenbmwm frankenbmwm is offline
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Location: FL
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 30
Mein Auto: 99 E36 M3 Conv, 2012 X5M
98 E36 M3 Convertible to 99 323 Convertible Project

Hey Bimmerfest,

Rookie here first time building a custom BMW ...

I'm beginning my journey on modding a 99 323ci with a 98 M3 convertible with a complete swap (mostly).

M3 is a wreck but has many salvageable parts including rims, full interior, top and engine but automatic ... 323 is in good shape with a manual transmission which I intend to keep just needs new interior, top etc ...

I picked up both cars for well under 2.5k and have a heathy budget of about ~3+k for whatever comes up.

Just looking for some possible advice on the build like anything I might run into, I've done some reading and it seems the swap should be fairly easy.

I'll make sure to update with pics along the journey


As a note before going through this parts list I am using mostly OEM parts as much as possible and keeping the car mostly stock ... for now ...

5/25/2015 - Initial Teardown and Requirements

Here is my first update on this project which includes a list of parts/sections to be replaced and or swapped and some pics of both cars.

I'll update this list as I go along since I know ALOT MORE with need to be replaced.

Needs Replacing ( just about everything except the frame ).

* Engine in its entirety ( Have M3 Engine still in M3 )
* Gaskets ... (Head, Valve Cover, Exhaust ... etc ... )
* Front and Rear Suspension ( Basically everything ... )
* Clutch, Pressure Plate and Throwout Bearing ( Have OEM Parts )
* LSD from M3 ( If salvageable unknown condition still on M3 )
* Seats ( Have M3 OEM need to detail and restitch )
* Carpet and various interior molding pieces
* Audio AMP ( 323 = Dead. Need to test M3's )
* Brakes ( Pads, Rotors, Calipers, Lines )
* Dash Cluster ( Taken from M3 )
* Center Air vent
* Floor Mats
* Softtop ... Removing completely and adding a hardtop. ( I am looking for one! )
* Rear bumper ( Convert to M3. Currently on M3 )
* Front bumper ( Convert to M3. Need to find. )
* Driver Side Mirror ( Taken from M3 )
* Passenger Side Mirror ( Need to find. )

Replaced so far,

* Stereo with Pioneer AVH-X7500BT ( From M3 ) likely to upgrade to something else in the future.
* OEM M Shift Knob (Part #25 11 7 896 031)
* Coolant Expansion Tank
* Fan Clutch


M3 when first arrived.

Side view showing the damage


Rear View with OEM Cover and 323 in background.

Gutting the M3 Interior

Trunk ( With OEM CD Changer ... )

Seats and they are still in really good shape.

323 after a short wash and wax ... still need to spend a good day or two cleaning the paint all in all its still in very good shape.

Rims from M3 came with the e46 rims ... one of which is totaled not sure what I'm doing with these yet ... might stick on my e60 or sell them since I want OEM m3 rims.

Last edited by frankenbmwm; 05-25-2015 at 06:15 AM. Reason: Update
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Old 04-02-2015, 05:41 AM
66 6 66 6 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: MD
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 248
Mein Auto: pending
For the interior, the best way I have found to remove and then install a carpet for transplant was to cut the carpet out right next to the heater core. Originally the carpet ran underneath so pulling a carpet without the heater core housing does not seem to be possible. Careful with your cuts as wiring is underneath. Do it correctly and the center console will cover any cutting and no one will ever know.

If your swapping the convertible top, swap the entire assembly as one. Use the shims from the car where the top is going to start a good base for alignment.
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Old 04-02-2015, 06:37 AM
Brake_L8's Avatar
Brake_L8 Brake_L8 is offline
Ambitious But Rubbish
Location: Alexandria, VA
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1,175
Mein Auto: 97 M3 | 96 328iC
Sounds like a fun project! Post some photos when you get a chance, and as you start working.

You'll find the E36's are like big Legos... lots of parts will interchange pretty easily. And, they aren't all bad to work on. Do you have a Bentley manual? It can be very helpful for torque specs or noting where bolts are located if you can't quite find all of them to remove for whatever part.

Let's see, random thoughts since I'm guessing you DD that E60 and are newer to the E36 world:
* These motors like Rotella 15W-40 oil if you need a good go-to to throw in it. Cheap in 5-gal jugs at Walmart.
* Get blank rotors (no drilled/slotted) from RockAuto and put really good pads and brake fluid on the car. Performance Friction Z-Rated are good go-to.
* M3 suspension setup is different from non-M primarily in how the sway bars mount. Run the M3 setup if you can.
* Swap the top hats on the front struts (of the M3 stuff) and you'll gain a good bit of negative camber, if you want that.
* The two-button remotes for the alarm/keyless entry are worth some money. If you have working setups (especially if both cars came with working systems), get one setup working and sell off the rest. Maybe to me.
* M3 brakes are bigger (rotors/pads) and have different calipers. Try to salvage and swap the M brakes if you can.
* Bimmerworld stainless brake lines are a good "while you're in there" as the original brake lines are getting old by now.

I'll see what else I can think of. Feel free to PM with questions or post back here, I (and several others) have a ton of wrench time logged on the E36 chassis and are happy to help.
- Jake

11 Ford F-150 FX4 | 97 BMW M3 | 96 BMW 328iC

87 BMW 325e | 91 BMW 535i | 96 BMW 328i | 95 BMW 325i |95 Mazda Miata | 13 Ford Focus ST | 09 BMW 128i | 00 Pontiac Firebird | 05 GMC Yukon Denali
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Old 07-18-2015, 10:30 AM
frankenbmwm frankenbmwm is offline
Registered User
Location: FL
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 30
Mein Auto: 99 E36 M3 Conv, 2012 X5M
7/18/2015 Update

been about 3 months since my last update ... Really only have time to work on both cars one day a week so progress has been pretty slow.

So far I've been able to get the engine ready for removal, exhaust removed, interior gutted and koni + h&r springs and shocks replaced on the front and rear suspension ... not sure which set of H&R springs they are but the car has pretty considerable drop pics below is just after installation.

Current Engine Bay - Everything here is taken apart and ready to come out ... just waiting for the M3 engine and an Engine Hoist to pull it.

Interior Gutted ... Replacing seats and wiring also resurfacing most of the interior parts with matte black vinyl with black and silver carbon fiber accents and hopefully a black carpet if one can be found ... Will be sure to post photos as this progresses.

Car ride height with koni and h&r springs installed ... Picked up the entire set for only $300, they are slightly used but still very stiff and a much improvement over the OEM shot struts and shocks that were on there.

Hoping to have this build finished by the end of August but will have to see how time allows it.

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Old 11-01-2015, 06:52 AM
frankenbmwm frankenbmwm is offline
Registered User
Location: FL
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 30
Mein Auto: 99 E36 M3 Conv, 2012 X5M
Figure it is time for another update to this build thread.

As of now I've completed the following,

Interior cleaned up and M3 seats and dash cluster installed.

This was a simple task really just took the dash apart to clean it and route the wiring for power seats ... I ended up just splitting the cigarette lighter wiring to the seats eventually I might wire it properly along with the seat heating.

M3 Rear Suspension completely ported over

Everything in the rear is now M3 parts with the exception of the diff carrier and control arms and a few nuts and bolts.

This took ALOT longer than expected but turned out great, still need to upgrade the control arms for more negative camber as the 255/45/18's I have on their now are sitting on the fender and the stock arms won't allow for any more.

Installed new rotors and pads along with new brake lines.

Still need to put the rear sway bar in but I need to pick up some new links before doing this.

Head gasket replaced / Engine given tune up

Head with cams removed ... ended up taking them off since it made re-installing the head much much easier as I ruined the first head gasket when putting the head back on and didn't want to repeat the same costly mistake.

Doesn't look bad for 130k miles.

Tune-up kit ... includes plugs and filters for everything also the head gasket and vanos gasket.

So far this built has been enjoyable and VERY VERY expensive, I have easily spent close to 2k in parts so far and am about 7k into it so far.

There is still a huge laundry list of things I need to do before it is road worthy.

Will update again in the future.
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Old 07-19-2016, 11:56 AM
frankenbmwm frankenbmwm is offline
Registered User
Location: FL
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 30
Mein Auto: 99 E36 M3 Conv, 2012 X5M
Update here ...

Car is running and mostly together just need to add brakes, power steering and supercharge.

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