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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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  #1  
Old 04-17-2018, 06:27 PM
E36wannabe E36wannabe is offline
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E36 noob questions

I've been lusting after an E36 for months now, but I still have some reservations/questions about the car, so I was hoping Bimmerfest's members could help me out by offering their advice.

-My ideal E36 would be an M3 Sedan, although I'm certainly not opposed to any of the other M3 or E36 models. What're the functional/mechanical differences between the E36 models and the M3 models, and based on your own experiences does the "non-M" version still feel "sporty enough".

-I'd like to keep my initial purchase price down to $6k, although I'd prefer to spend $2k and repair/restore it myself.

-What're the running costs like on the average E36? I'll be doing any repairs my self at the shop I work at, so I'm primarily concerned about parts and reliability as a daily driver.

-I haven't been limiting my search to manual transmission cars only because I feel confident in my ability to swap the transmission. Dumb idea?

-Are there any other cars you would suggest as an alternative to an E36, BMW or otherwise?

Thank you in advance for the advice!
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Old 04-17-2018, 06:54 PM
propchef propchef is offline
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Quote:
I'd like to keep my initial purchase price down to $6k, although I'd prefer to spend $2k and repair/restore it myself.

-What're the running costs like on the average E36?
You should probably stick to the 328, try to find an is.

Between the M and the 318/325/328 the suspension is different and of course, the motor although many would argue it's a tuned engine from the 328 (sort of. Kinda). The parts aren't interchangeable. The head, bore, and stroke are all different.

M3 sedans are the ones that get the premium. I just saw one (here?) that is a silver over black sedan and is an automatic and a Lux version. The owner wanted $10.5 and he'll get it.

M3s right now, for a reliable daily with minimal fuss, will run between $12-$15 all in, meaning you can buy one for less but expect to put more into it.

Any of the M cars will be 3x the maintenance (and cost) to keep reliable and fun to drive over the 328.

YMMV

Have fun hunting!
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:10 PM
453802 453802 is offline
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Buy my turn key E36 and manual swap it.
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Old 04-17-2018, 09:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by propchef View Post
You should probably stick to the 328, try to find an is.

Between the M and the 318/325/328 the suspension is different and of course, the motor although many would argue it's a tuned engine from the 328 (sort of. Kinda). The parts aren't interchangeable. The head, bore, and stroke are all different.
The head is actually identical between the 328 and M3. The cam profiles are slightly different, however. The US spec E36 M3 engine is nothing more than an M50/52 with a little extra bore and stroke, but that's about it. Many of the parts can be swapped between them.

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Any of the M cars will be 3x the maintenance (and cost) to keep reliable and fun to drive over the 328.
This seems a bit extreme. Given that the the US M3 doesn't really have any true ///M GmbH parts on it, they really aren't any more complex or maintenance intensive than any other non-M E36. Unlike the Euro M3s, they don't require valve adjustments, they don't have individual throttle bodies, they don't have fancy brakes, transmissions, or differentials. They are no more complex than a 325 or 328, and are no less reliable. Their parts cost a little bit more, but not a ton.
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Old 04-17-2018, 10:24 PM
propchef propchef is offline
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I defer to your experience with the 328, but I stand by my observation that the M3 can more expensive to maintain. $6k is low for a budget for a mostly problem-free car and the M3s have many weak points (cooling, rear shock mounts, rear trailing arm brackets, leaky power steering, oil pump nut, etc.) that need attention.

Of course, this all depends on one's definition and approach to maintenance.
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Old 04-17-2018, 10:42 PM
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Other than some (but not all) of the typical maintenance parts being a little more expensive to buy (brake rotors, mostly) for the US E36 M3, they are no more trouble-prone. Every one of the trouble spots which you listed is also shared with all other non-M E36s. The M3 is not unique in those instances. They use the same cooling system parts, same shock mounts, same power steering parts, same oil pump, etc. as every other 6-cylinder E36. And the rear trailing arm bushings are in fact more robust and less failure prone in the M3 than the non-M cars.
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Last edited by ZeGerman; 04-17-2018 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 04-24-2018, 09:45 AM
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My BMW is a 323i convertible but on the steering wheel and the shifter it has the M3 why is that?
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Old 04-24-2018, 10:55 AM
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Because someone put M3 parts in it (or at least the emblems). I have an M3 steering wheel and shifter boot in my E30, but it dang sure isn't an M3.
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Old 04-24-2018, 12:35 PM
propchef propchef is offline
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Even the m3 doesn't have the m3 emblem on the steering wheel. Someone put it there.

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Old 04-24-2018, 12:40 PM
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the steering wheel must have been changed then.
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Old 04-24-2018, 12:44 PM
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I will get a picture of the steering wheel.
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Old 04-24-2018, 01:09 PM
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Ok here are 2 pictures of my steering wheel. Someone must have changed the steering wheel or went through a lot of trouble to make it sunk in as if it was factory made.
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Old 04-24-2018, 01:24 PM
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I just got off the phone with BMW garage and they said that the car has the M suspension, braking and interior upgrade. It does not have the M engine so they say.
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Old 04-24-2018, 01:53 PM
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BMW put the M sport steering wheel on many if not most of the non-m cars toward the very end of the E36 production run. Note: the M sport package is not the same as an M3 suspension.
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Old 04-24-2018, 02:26 PM
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Thanks you for the info. You guys are great on here. So is the suspension on my car the same as a regular BMW? Looking to change/update a few things on the suspension? Thanks again for all the great info.
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Old 04-24-2018, 03:51 PM
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The sport suspension is in between the standard and M3 suspensions in stiffness and ride height. Not as low/stiff as the M3, but slightly lower and stiffer than the normal non-sport.
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Old 04-24-2018, 03:53 PM
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Thank you for the info sir.
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Old 04-24-2018, 03:58 PM
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I just realized the original poster of this thread, E36wannabe, hasn't replied in his own thread since posting the first message. In fact, they haven't even logged on to Bimmerfest since that first posting.
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Quotes to live by:
guessing gets expensive...drivinfaster
nothing is more expensive than a cheap BMW...c4harpe13
buying a ratty example (of a BMW) is a parasitic relationship.(and you ain't the mosquito) 7pilot
Ken Kanne, Silverhill, AL, Bimmerfest Site Moderator
BMW-CCA #441426

1993 325is M3 clone"Ashlyn"; 1993 325is "Elvira"; 1985 635CSi "Katja"; 1984 633CSi "Sylvia"; 1987 325is "Odette";1995 318is"Bebe "; 1985 325e "Hazel Ann"

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Old 04-24-2018, 04:58 PM
propchef propchef is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMW 99 View Post
I will get a picture of the steering wheel.
As mentioned, that's the MSport wheel starting in 1999.

This is my 1998 M3


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  #20  
Old 04-25-2018, 05:17 AM
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I will take it. Just send it to me please. Im sorry, I hijacked someone else's post.
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