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E36 M3 (1995-1999)

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  #1  
Old 02-04-2012, 10:01 PM
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Lurch09 Lurch09 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2001 ///M5
Question for the (convertible) experts

From a potential convert:

It may be time to shed my E39, and the E36 M3 vert is on the short list of replacements. It's going against the E46 M3 and E39 M5 but that's not really here or there.

So the hang up that my co-car nerd friends and I have is the rear windows on the convertibles. Having never owned a ragtop, with these being plastic (or whatever), when they get that hazy/opaque thing going on, how big of an issue will this be?

Is it frequent, do you typically replace them? Basically, how much should this factor into my wallet/decision? My bro-in law is a big supporter, but he's only had hard tops, I'm just looking for input from guys who own em.

Thanks
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  #2  
Old 02-05-2012, 05:20 PM
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fun2drive fun2drive is offline
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The rear plastic window will last forever if taken care of. Or as is the case with many owners lose all transmissivity in a couple years. Original BMW rear plastic windows are zipped in. That is a clue, even BMW knows that owners will abuse the top and it will yellow and be opaque. This is their solution, buy another rear window, unzip the old one put the new one in and be happy. Now many owners don't do this because they take it to a uphlostery shop and those guys usually will say hey I can just cut the old one out and sew a new one in for XXX bucks, problem solved. Problem is that now you are totally stuck with a rear window that once wears out cannot be fixed and only replacing the top will fix that.
Most replacement tops like mine has a plastic window which is not zip in. In fact only BMW sells the top with a zip in rear window.
Here is the good news, if you care for the top by cleaning it with water and very mild soap, wax the rear window (it is after all plastic) it will retain its function. Also the best way to protect the rear plastic window is to put a pillow case or towel between the plastic window folds so it doesn't rub and cause the issues you see all the time.

I have an king size pillow case in my trunk and just stop the top when folding and lay the pillow case between the folds and it protects it well.

This is the deal on the rear window.
One last point there are after market zip in window manufactures like a vendor that sells them for miata's. You can search the forums here and elsewhere to locate that vendor.
Frankly the rear window will last indefinately if kept clean, waxed and stored correctly...
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  #3  
Old 02-05-2012, 07:59 PM
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Lurch09 Lurch09 is offline
VA makes me miss WA
Location: Fairfax, VA
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,778
Mein Auto: 2001 ///M5
Quote:
Originally Posted by fun2drive View Post
The rear plastic window will last forever if taken care of. Or as is the case with many owners lose all transmissivity in a couple years. Original BMW rear plastic windows are zipped in. That is a clue, even BMW knows that owners will abuse the top and it will yellow and be opaque. This is their solution, buy another rear window, unzip the old one put the new one in and be happy. Now many owners don't do this because they take it to a uphlostery shop and those guys usually will say hey I can just cut the old one out and sew a new one in for XXX bucks, problem solved. Problem is that now you are totally stuck with a rear window that once wears out cannot be fixed and only replacing the top will fix that.
Most replacement tops like mine has a plastic window which is not zip in. In fact only BMW sells the top with a zip in rear window.
Here is the good news, if you care for the top by cleaning it with water and very mild soap, wax the rear window (it is after all plastic) it will retain its function. Also the best way to protect the rear plastic window is to put a pillow case or towel between the plastic window folds so it doesn't rub and cause the issues you see all the time.

I have an king size pillow case in my trunk and just stop the top when folding and lay the pillow case between the folds and it protects it well.

This is the deal on the rear window.
One last point there are after market zip in window manufactures like a vendor that sells them for miata's. You can search the forums here and elsewhere to locate that vendor.
Frankly the rear window will last indefinately if kept clean, waxed and stored correctly...
You sir, have given me exactly what I was looking for. I would high five you right now if I could.

Thank you
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  #4  
Old 02-06-2012, 01:32 AM
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shamulater shamulater is offline
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At 12 years old, my factory back window has actually outlasted the rest of the soft top which is getting replaced this summer.
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  #5  
Old 02-06-2012, 06:33 AM
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Pinecone Pinecone is offline
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There are plastic treatments that help restore and maintain plastic rear windows. Mequiars is what I use.

Keeping the car garaged (sun off the rear window helps a lot).

The other issue is that they can crack where they fold when the top is down. In the Z3 world, there is a blanket that you put over the window before putting the top down that prevents the sharp fold and pads the rear window to prevent the two parts from rubbing (scratching) each other.
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  #6  
Old 02-06-2012, 11:59 AM
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petriej petriej is offline
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I replaced mine on both my E36 verts as one of the first things I did when acquiring the cars. The stock oem window gets hazy over time (10 years or so). I replaced with one from emiata with expected lifetime of 5 years. The emiata ones are about $130 vs OEM $400+. Having gained much experience on the first install (which took about an hour) the second time on my M3 took about 15 minutes.

The only real drawback I can see regarding the top is the fact that since it does fold the window, you don't want to lower/raise the top when it is too cold. The OEM window is notorious for cracking when it is low temp, but the emiata one is only slightly better. If you want to quickly and reliably use the top when it is colder than 50F, go for the E46 M3, which has a solid glass window that doesn't fold. Then you can go topless in much colder weather.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hornhospital View Post
Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e36 miguel View Post
this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
2005 X5 4.8is Le Mans/Black/6spd Steptragic
1999 M3 Cabrio TiAg Metallic/Dove Grey/Black 5 Speed Manual
-------------------------------------------------------------------
1997 328iC Schwarz II/K/K 5MT SOLD 5/2012
2004 645Ci Mineral Silver Metallic/Black 6MT RIP 04/2011
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  #7  
Old 02-12-2012, 06:09 PM
MicroAcres MicroAcres is offline
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Has anyone ever heard of a glass window retrofit in an E36?
Any real reason it couldn't be done?

How is the E46 top different to accommodate the glass version?
Seems like there would be a market.

Bob Huber
99 328i Convertible
97 3318i Sedan
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  #8  
Old 02-13-2012, 09:31 AM
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petriej petriej is offline
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They fold completely differently. I figure it would be too cost prohibitive to do something like this.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hornhospital View Post
Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e36 miguel View Post
this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
2005 X5 4.8is Le Mans/Black/6spd Steptragic
1999 M3 Cabrio TiAg Metallic/Dove Grey/Black 5 Speed Manual
-------------------------------------------------------------------
1997 328iC Schwarz II/K/K 5MT SOLD 5/2012
2004 645Ci Mineral Silver Metallic/Black 6MT RIP 04/2011
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  #9  
Old 02-22-2012, 09:31 PM
CTBimmerGuy CTBimmerGuy is offline
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I've owned two M3 E36 verts and never had problems with the rear window but if you did as somebody else said you can zipper a new window in without much trouble. A glass retro fit won't work because of the way the top goes up and down and is stowed. They changed that system to accommodate the inflexible glass.
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