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S50B32 mess of an m3... where to start

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  • S50B32 mess of an m3... where to start

    Hey everyone,

    I was "lucky" to acquire a euro M3 while I'm in Europe for work for basically free. The upside - it was basically free! (ok, it cost $1K). The downside - it's quite abused, even for a ~350K km car 😞 There are a lot of dents from hail damage, the interior leaves very much to be desired with torn seats, broken trim pieces, sagging headlines, and even has some minor exterior rust spots. Mechanically, it's definitely better than cosmetically, but already as soon as I purchased it, I had to do a VCG replacement where 1 cylinder wasn't firing for a couple of weeks prior to my purchase, 2 other spark plugs were absolutely FILTHY with oil, and one of the engine bolts is stripped (on the to-do list). The AC is not working, I feel the HP at the VANOS range (3K+ RPM) more often than not - although not every time, but thankfully the transmission seems to be doing well, and the brakes are in good shape as well. The PO gave me 2 rear control arms as a definite NEEDS REPLACEMENT part, so I know the suspension definitely needs a huge do-over. I am basically looking to do a full resuscitation of the car and maybe get it track-capable while I'm in the EU and am not quite sure where to start. I hope you guys can get me going in the right direction. My plan in somewhat of a priority order:

    1) Redo the cooling.
    Obvious fix. I don't know when any parts were replaced, and I'd rather be safe than sorry.

    2) Valve adjustment
    The car is idling rough at the start and sometimes straight dies unless I give it some gas. From my research the S50 needs this done periodically, so I'd like to finally make sure it gets it

    3) Pull the engine to get that bolt hole fixed at the shop via a thread insert as well as replace the motor mounts.

    4) Suspension upgrade
    I'm talking - mounts, subframe, towers, bushings... actually, replace the entire suspension with maybe a KW v2 variant while I'm at it.

    5) VANOS
    Probably have this sent in. I don't know how comfortable I am doing this at home, especially with the dual VANOS the S50B32 has. No "marble clunking around" sounds yet, and it does seem to pin my back to the seat 4/5 times, but it's not consistent and honestly has probably never been touched in those 350K kms.

    6) Brakes
    Seem solid for now, but occasionally are throwing up the "low life" light. I don't want to have any worries, so at this point, do a replacement of slotted rotors with steel brake lines.

    7) AC
    It doesn't blow cold. Might just need a re-charge. Not concerned with it now as even in the summer it doesn't get so ridiculously hot here where it's 100% necessary, but definitely a QOL thing that I'll probably try to just recharge first.

    8) interior stuff
    If the budget leaves enough money, work on things like the sagging headliner, ripped seats, fucked-up audio connections, etc.

    9) If the above is caught up with, start working on the exterior.

    Is there anything that I'm missing? Is it even worthwhile doing? Mind you, my original plan was to take this back to the US in about 4 years when my time in Europe is up. Unfortunately in the last year, prices on EuroM3s have gone from 8-9k to 20k+ USD for at all decent examples, so I'm thinking this would make decent sense.

  • #2
    If it’s a car you want it all makes sense. If you want to fix it and make money? That may not happen. You’ll make money by parting it.


    • #3
      Vanos is easy, at least the seals job. And it has no ‘range’ as it’s continuously variable.

      But sounds like the Vanos is the least of your problems.


      • #4
        Sounds like a ton of work and a ton of money needed. If it were a gem cosmetically or if it has a rare build sheet... Maybe. Otherwise I would yank the motor and fix the VANOS and sell that, and sell the shell as a roller. Unless of course you really love the car, in which case go for it and lube your wallet.


        • #5
          Unfortunately, the agreement with our employer and the country means we are unable to part out cars and if a car needs to be "junked", the junk yard requires all major parts to be intact (such as all motor/wheels/suspension/etc). It's a bit of a scam, but there's nothing I can do about it.

          I do love the platform and have a clean 3/4/5 back in the US. My thought behind the wallet opening is to make it a mostly street, but track capable car (it even doesn't have a sunroof!) - for which I would do the majority of these items anyways - and then bring it back to join my US m3 as maybe a dedicated track car at that point since it'll be in that 25+ year old exemption by the time I return.

          Vanos is easy, at least the seals job. And it has no ‘range’ as it’s continuously variable.
          That's good to hear. I've seen a lot of articles about the single vanos and it always looks a little intimidating, but I'll look into doing it myself. Looks like there's a couple of places in the EU that offer the seals.
          Last edited by Russki; 12-05-2020, 12:03 AM.


          • #6
            Get the Beisan kit. Available worldwide. Beisan has an extremely detailed, pictured, step-by-step instruction.
            In the end it’s just undoing and redoing bolts in a specific order, no rocket science.

            I suggested one change in a certain step where you refit the piston cover to not press out the cylinder.

            There is one step that is ‘hard‘ and I messed up. The center seal on the exhaust piston. It’s not Viton but some paper-ish variant. This needs to go in a slot in the middle. But that slot is in a raised area. You have to stretch the seal to clear the raised area. Then it should shrink back.
            I overstretched it and it couldn’t shrink back enough to allow insertion into the cylinder.

            Second time I didn’t pre-stretch it and just super slid it over the piston and gently pushed it over the raised section.