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Zen and the Art of E36 Maintenance

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  • Zen and the Art of E36 Maintenance

    This thread is really just a place for me to post pictures of my M3/4/5, and anything related to it.

    2023 will mark 10 years of ownership. The car was my daily driver for the first 7 years. I bought it from the original owner with 150k miles, and it is now sitting at 242k miles. I have damn near rebuilt everything in my time of ownership, but it is due for a bit of a refresh so this is where I’ll start.

    For now I’ll just post some photos I already have on Instagram.



    I started sewing seat skins in MCross and Alcantara 5 years ago. Got 1 Vader done… haha. But in the last few months I’ve got back into it and finished the rear seat.



    Ordered a “Rough Leather” shift knob off BMW’s individual catalogue. And some leather from Relicate to match to sew my own shift boot (w/ red stitching). Channeling e34 M5 20 Jahre.





    I refreshed a low mileage ZF 5 speed and while I was in there installed an Auto Solutions Autocross SSK w/ 15% reduction.



    A few more on deck.





    And about a month ago a pair of SR2’s arrived from Japan. They too will get the MCross and Alcantara treatment. As mentioned, I do already have vaders, and I even went through the trouble of fitting them to the sedan seat rails to be as factory as possible. But these Recaro’s are just on another level.




    Last edited by Bimma360; 01-28-2023, 07:18 PM.

  • #2
    those back seats look dope as hell

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    • #3
      Thanks man. I can’t wait to get the fronts done, and wrap up the interior.

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      • #4
        Excellent work, Dave! Can’t wait to see the front seats done too.

        MSportParts | Braymond141

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        • #5
          I know you're a meticulous guy, but curious what you do professionally? Do you do reupholstery work, or does the meticulousness just crossover?

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          • #6
            Thanks guys! I am a revenue integrity analyst professionally, haha. I think I just have the capacity to be very particular when I want to be. So I tend to try and teach myself things bc I don’t trust others to do it the way I want hahah. Especially if I have to pay them.

            I do have my limits though haha. Those rear head rests are the hardest thing to sew. I did them 3 times before I was like screw it, I am done haha. I don’t know if it was a lack of the right equipment or what, but I just couldn’t make them perfect. They are fine. I’ll have an upholstery shop do them one day.

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            • #7
              Love hearing about the higher mileage cars out there. Looks great. No one will ever look at the headrests except you.

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              • #8
                Car is on the original head gasket, and internals. Never over heated. I have run 15-W50 oil in it since the day I bought it, and even though it eats a lot of oil it’s still within the range specified in the manual. I am really curious how much power it’s lost over the years. Still feels plenty quick though.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bimma360 View Post
                  Thanks guys! I am a revenue integrity analyst professionally, haha. I think I just have the capacity to be very particular when I want to be. So I tend to try and teach myself things bc I don’t trust others to do it the way I want hahah. Especially if I have to pay them.

                  I do have my limits though haha. Those rear head rests are the hardest thing to sew. I did them 3 times before I was like screw it, I am done haha. I don’t know if it was a lack of the right equipment or what, but I just couldn’t make them perfect. They are fine. I’ll have an upholstery shop do them one day.
                  It's funny, I've seen a few sets of seats done in the last few weeks, all done by guys that don't have professional experience, and every single one of them have been better than any of the stuff I've seen people pay for.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Westopher View Post

                    It's funny, I've seen a few sets of seats done in the last few weeks, all done by guys that don't have professional experience, and every single one of them have been better than any of the stuff I've seen people pay for.
                    That’s putting it lightly. The work that MST Upholstery has done on several E36 M3 lately has been atrocious.


                    Dave, I can send you a rear headrest from Jim’s car if you want to see how BMW M (Germany) does it. They did his a few years ago. (Must come back perfect though).

                    MSportParts | Braymond141

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                    • #11
                      Yeah I just don’t understand how that happens honestly. Use the original skins to make templates that are going to be almost too tight to fit. Apart from those rear head rests haha, there is nothing special about sewing everything together. And lastly you can make up for any fitment issues during the install. People probably just want to take the money and do the work as quickly as possible. It’s unfortunate.

                      Brett, that’s very generous of you thank you. My issue I think is more mechanical/equipment. Sewing in a circular pattern where the starting point is also the ending point might not be ideal for a standard presser foot machine. And then doing that top stitch on a flat surface is damn near impossible once everything is sewn together. I swear upholstery shops must use a specialty machine that can suspend the material. Sort of like the ones they use on shoes or wigs. Like this.

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                      • #12
                        It went the right way and then the clear lights picture popped up...

                        Vaders to sedan frames? All frames are identical. You could have pulled the tilting levers/cable and fit rear covers without the handle cutout.

                        Nice to see that Rough leather piece. I know it exists, but I though was NLA since forever. Shame BMW doesn't offer this for the handbrake lever/boot.

                        You get bonus point for having the ciggy lighter oriented correctly.

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                        • #13
                          Haha, no one ever will be able to convince me on ambers. Especially the taillights. That’s a hill I will die on. I think you are just as crazy as you think I am.

                          Sedan frames as in no tilt function. I know they are identical, which is why I was able to transplant the Vader seat /back cushions. Pulling the levers and cable seemed like more work, considering I had to remove the seat/back cushions anyway. Many ways to skin a cat, I get it.

                          Yeah it’s crazy the rough leather knob is still available. I should probably buy a second one as a spare, as I can see it not being very resilient to use.

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                          • #14
                            How does it differ from Nubuck or Alcantara?
                            yeah I guess it won’t hold up good to sweaty hands.

                            oh, ditch thise fleabay special pedal covers haha.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MParallel View Post
                              How does it differ from Nubuck or Alcantara?
                              yeah I guess it won’t hold up good to sweaty hands.

                              oh, ditch thise fleabay special pedal covers haha.
                              It’s real suede, the backside of leather. They just make sure it all looks nice and use that. You can flip your shift boot inside out for a similar experience, lol.

                              MSportParts | Braymond141

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