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My e36 daily driver turned project car 
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Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2007 9:58 pm
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BMW: '93 32oi
Post My e36 daily driver turned project car
Well I figured with all the work I've been putting into this car now I should make a 'build' thread to keep up with what I've done and to share the interesting stories about things I've had to repair so far on this car.

I sold my e46 back in December and picked up a '04 Grand Prix to use as a daily driver as I wanted to find a Bmw ragtop for the summer (part of why I sold the '46). Then this e36 popped up on Kijiji 2 days after buying the Pontiac and I just knew I had to have it. The ad was super sketchy though so I had my doubts - basically said it was a 99 3 series that was lowered 2.5", had custom stereo, LED Lights and interior and thats about it. Here's how it looked after digging it out of a foot of snow:

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A 1993 320i, Auto with 188Km on it. I went to look at it with my best friend who also happens to be my mechanic on the coldest night of January (-35, -45 with the wind chill!). So while I was looking for body damage and rust, he was looking over engine and trans while listening to the owner explain things to him. The owner must have thought we were in high school since he kept on going on about how he a "mechanic" and its got a "custom stereo and LED 'underglow'",the "big, loud exhaust", "cold air intake", and our favorite line... "It's been chipped and is really fast, it run's 11's!!". Yeah. We both concluded he was... special. Lets just leave it at that.

There were 2 big issues with the car - first it was on 3 summer tires as one "exploded on a test drive" a week before (BS) and second the blower fan wasn't working. But I didn't care. The price was right and I wanted it so we made a deal. I swapped the rear tires with a set my mechanic brought and we proceeded to limp it to my dads house. Not a fun drive in -45 with no fan. Parked it in his garage and left it to thaw out until the weekend. I ordered a new blower motor resistor and hoped that'd solve the problem. It didn't, but then I found the fuse to be blown. Replaced that and it worked on 3 & 4, but made an aweful racket, so I bought a new one and replaced it. Not fun. I also scored a cheap set of winters to get me by the rest of winter, insured it and started driving it as soon as I could:

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Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:34 pm
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Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2007 9:58 pm
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BMW: '93 32oi
Post Re: My e36 daily driver turned project car
Now I was able to finally take her on a proper road test. I quickly found out that while driving there was an aweful howling noise and slight vibration coming from the right rear, it was in dire need of an alignment and the temp gauge would drop back into the blue after a while of driving on the whitemud or henday. It is also NOT and 11 second car :laugh: . Alright first things first, ordered a new thermostat along with an aluminum housing to solve the heating problem. Went to replace it all and this is what I found:

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:wtf: I mean how does that even happen?! Once that was replaced I hoped that'd be the end of that. Took the car for a quick drive up to temp then noticed smoke pouring out of the hood while stopped for a train. Popped the hood and found a lower hose to be leaking... or so I thought. Limped it home, onlyto discover I blew the rad. Okay screw it, ordered new hoses, water pump and rad. Might as well get the cooling system done and out of the way for peace of mind. In the downtime I ripped out all the LED interior lights the PO had been so proud of, which were wired into the factory lights poorly, replaced the front door panels with grey ones that weren't screwed in with drywall screws, and added a center console arm rest I scored at bucks auto (I love that place - scored quite a few parts I needed for this car there!!). Those issues all solved after 3 weeks, I finally got to enjoy the car for a while. And yes, those are genuine AC Schnitzer Type 2's:

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I sent the car off to my mechanic so he could do an alignment and inspection of the car. Then came the news. No alignment because the left ball joints were toast, as was the right front tie rod. The right front hub was wobbly and the right rear wheel bearing was so bad it sounded like a cement truck mixer. Okay. So I replaced the tie rods and the control arm, then took the car to my shop to do some rust repair on the rockers:

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Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:03 pm
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Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2007 9:58 pm
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BMW: '93 32oi
Post Re: My e36 daily driver turned project car
So at that point I decided I might as well contiue making it look good. At one point someone did spend the money on this car to have the seats redone in white leather & the car had been resprayed as well. I scored a real Bmw M3 front bumper on kijiji for cheap since it was cracked, along with a real Zender rear bumper lip. My dad repaired the bumper and I had it painted. Picked up some fog lights that had been wrapped yellow as well thanks to a member on Alberta E36's on facebook.

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Being summer now I started to notice a terrible smell inside the car. I had noticed there was evidence mice could have been living in this car at some point, especially since the PO said he stored it outside over winters. Sure enough I ripped ou the rear shelf and found what I feared I would....

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Plenty of bleach and interior cleaners later... one part done. At that point I also re-dyed my rear shelf and the A & C pillars black. I also decided I need to go through the rest of the car and get rid of any evidence of mice.

Another area I wanted to address interior wise was the "custom" stereo - that consisted of a cheap walmart headunit and a pair of aftermarket tweeters mounted on the mirror caps. Sooooo custom lol :lmao: My mechanic had a newer Alpine headunit with bluetooth he gave me to use. My dad gave me a set of 6x9's & an amp from his old lowrider days, and I built a set of mounts for them out of 3/4"mdf. Now remember how I said the PO was a "mechanic" and "special"? Well his wiring job for the headunit was a rats nest. There was also a yellow wire with an inline fuse running off the harness, through the front firewall to the positive battery post providing power to the headunit. My mechanic and I couldn't figure out why that was like that until we fixed the harness and plugged in the Alpine... only for it to not work. Quick thinking... okay lets check the fuse... sure enough it was popped. So that explains the yellow wire and fuse now...

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Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:35 pm
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BMW: '93 32oi
Post Re: My e36 daily driver turned project car
While all that was going on, I was still driving it daily only to have the front hub start causing shakes on the highway. It was bad enough I sent it to the shop to get replaced. Thats when my mechanic made me park it as the rear hub was even worse and he didn't want me driving it until that was replaced a week later. On top of that he said there was play in the tie rods and ball joints I replaced. I was confused until I reminded him those had been replaced... leaves only one thing. The steering rack is bad. On top of that the right rear CV was starting to make noise. Both those issues were confirmed when the rear bearing was replaced.

I was defeated at this point for a few days. So much for being a cheap and fun daily. Seems it spent more time parked and in pieces rather than being driven. Then a couple weeks ago someone listed a '97 328i on the Alberta BMW fb page for parts. It was being used for a M52 swap, so I jumped on it and asked for the whole car. Now this was the turning point for my "daily driver" truely becoming a project car. The donor car has provided me with a mint black carpet & door panels, cup holders (yaaaas!!), much better condition headlights, facelifted kidney grille & nose piece, Luxury side skirts, and a bunch of wiring harnesses I need to fix various switches on the interior of mine. Most importantly I'll be taking the rack and larger rear diff and axles for my car.

Thankfully I have a few weeks here now where I don't need to drive the car so it's the perfect oppertunity to rip it apart. I started the other day and found there had been lighter fluid from an old zippo spilt everywhere on the passenger side. It soaked into the sound deadening and just left an terrible sticky mess everywhere. I pretty much used an entire bottle of goo gone and rags to clean that up. I also found the mouse nest under the hood liner so I removed that and pretty much burned it.

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And this is where I'm at right now. It's been a headache at times, but its also been fun bringing this one back to life. I had one in high school and what I'm doing right now is pretty much what I wanted to do to mine back then. My end goal is still to have this be a nice & fun daily driver and with the changes in progress I feel it will damn near be perfect for what I want.

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Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:07 pm
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Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:48 am
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Post Re: My e36 daily driver turned project car
Nice car!

Is that dunkelblau or montreal blue?


Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:33 am
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Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 10:47 pm
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Location: Calgary
BMW: 2002 M3
Post Re: My e36 daily driver turned project car
Hmm, this reinforces my thoughts: Never buy a car that someone has "modified" and never buy an older car locally as it will be rusty.
I sympathize with the mouse problem. I bought a motorhome like that once. It was a totally disgusting job to "de-mouse" the thing.
Buying an older E36 you should have realized all suspension and cooling systems would be junk and first thing to replace.


Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:08 am
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Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:19 pm
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Location: Calgary
BMW: E46 M3
Post Re: My e36 daily driver turned project car
Unfortunately there is no such thing as a "cheap" E36!


Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:32 pm
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Post Re: My e36 daily driver turned project car
OEMwhore wrote:
Unfortunately there is no such thing as a "cheap" E36!

Oh yes there is. I'm sort of trying to sell my 97 328is for $1500. Many many new. good parts on it but it is now surplus and no one is driving it so I should sell it.
AC even works.


Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:41 pm
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Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2007 9:58 pm
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BMW: '93 32oi
Post Re: My e36 daily driver turned project car
Thanks it's actually Mauritiusblau Metallic.

I don't have a problem buying modded cars as long as they're done right. The rust isn't a big issue for this car, I just found some as I was sanding down the rockers that had previously been fixed and painted over, plus I now have sideskirts that will cover those so I really don't care haha. The suspension was (and still is) going to all be replaced anyways some time down the road so that isn't a concern.

I would say there's no such thing as a "cheap" BMW in general though... I mean my e46 was "cheap" (for what it was) and that ended up costing a lot after needing a new engine lol.

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Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:43 pm
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Post Re: My e36 daily driver turned project car
So while I'm still taking parts off the parts car, I took some time to give the 'new' carpet a very good cleaning on the weekend. Then I figured why not drop the headliner from my car and give it a good cleaning too? Once I did that I got the idea to dye it black (along with the A & C Pillars) so everything matches with the 'new' black look from the carpets and door panels. I also found some damage on the passenger side floor along the rockers which had left it punched in and revealed a few rust holes you could see straight through. My dad brought me some seam sealer to seal the inside of the car so moisture can't get in and continue rusting it out even worse. It aint pretty, it aint the best solution, but it'll work and it gets covered so you'll never seeit anyways. On that note... applying seam sealer in +32* isn't ideal since it dries way too fast lol.

Hopefully this long weekend will invole fixing a bunch of wiring, changing all the locks and ignition (I'll have two keys and working locks on the doors now!), & swapping the steering rack. I also want to get the rear diff and axles out of the parts car and hopefully begin swapping that into mine. Interesting note about that, the 320's are basically 318's mechanically which means that I'll be upgrading the rear diff from a "166 small" case to a "188 medium" case with bigger axles. Only downside is I have to source a 325/328 rear driveshaft section (which I just did), but it's still cheaper than buying a new axle ($550! :yikes: ).

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Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:09 pm
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Location: Calgary
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Post Re: My e36 daily driver turned project car
Wow you aren't wasting time with this. Good progress


Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:56 pm
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Post Re: My e36 daily driver turned project car
Silence* wrote:
So while I'm still taking parts off the parts car, I took some time to give the 'new' carpet a very good cleaning on the weekend. Then I figured why not drop the headliner from my car and give it a good cleaning too? Once I did that I got the idea to dye it black (along with the A & C Pillars) so everything matches with the 'new' black look from the carpets and door panels. I also found some damage on the passenger side floor along the rockers which had left it punched in and revealed a few rust holes you could see straight through. My dad brought me some seam sealer to seal the inside of the car so moisture can't get in and continue rusting it out even worse. It aint pretty, it aint the best solution, but it'll work and it gets covered so you'll never seeit anyways. On that note... applying seam sealer in +32* isn't ideal since it dries way too fast lol.

Hopefully this long weekend will invole fixing a bunch of wiring, changing all the locks and ignition (I'll have two keys and working locks on the doors now!), & swapping the steering rack. I also want to get the rear diff and axles out of the parts car and hopefully begin swapping that into mine. Interesting note about that, the 320's are basically 318's mechanically which means that I'll be upgrading the rear diff from a "166 small" case to a "188 medium" case with bigger axles. Only downside is I have to source a 325/328 rear driveshaft section (which I just did), but it's still cheaper than buying a new axle ($550! :yikes: ).


Picknpull on 52 street has a 325is and 328is if you need the driveshaft


Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:54 am
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Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:58 pm
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Location: Edmonton
BMW: 1990 325i
Post Re: My e36 daily driver turned project car
What did you use to dye your carpet? I'm thinking about doing the same in my e30.

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Wed Jun 28, 2017 10:51 pm
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