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Visceral M3 | My Estoril E36 M3/2/5 Journal

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  • #46
    Got my new DEPO's in so I swapped the FX-R retrofit over into the new one and spent a few hours getting the panel gaps closer and aiming the headlights. Took the car for a drive around town and took a few pics as well. I'm pretty happy with where the car is at now, just need to get my ass in gear and execute the plans I have for the interior.

    IMG_4327 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr
    IMG_4307 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr
    IMG_4325 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr
    IMG_4272 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr
    IMG_4266 2 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr

    Past: '99 Hellrot/Dove M3/2/5 | '97 S14 1JZ | '06 Triumph Daytona 675 | '01 330I M-Tech I | Current: '96 Estoril/Black M3/2/5

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    • #47
      Another Sunday morning update: nothing much new. Just been driving the car here and there and enjoying it.

      IMG_4332 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr

      IMG_4337 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr

      IMG_4379-2 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr


      Took the car to dinner one night, missed the turn to Flavortown and ended up at Angryville.



      Developed a strong misfire right as I was parking the car. With no tools on hand, nice clothes on, and a dinner reservation closing in, I had the car picked up and towed to work to deal with it the following day.



      Got to work the next morning, put some fresh fuel in it, checked spark plugs and was poking around looking for vacuum leaks when all of sudden the misfire cleared up and car went back to normal.

      Turns out I’m just a big idiot. There’s a first for everything and it looks like I can now say that I’ve ran a car out of gas.



      While I was there I finally made the remaining brackets for lower radiator duct piece and bolted everything up.



      As are the brackets that mount to the core support, they are carbon fiber L-brackets, one side riveted for strength, one side attaches via zip-tie for easy removal if needed.



      Still need to clean up some edges with edge liner and fine tune the fitment, but it’s pretty good now. Going to have to figure a way to block some of the gaps on the edges but I don’t want anything close to rubbing on the condenser/radiator/lines. Maybe some high density foam.



      Separate little side project; I had a spare DEPO headlight laying around in the garage. I had the idea of keeping the low beam-projector fully functional while having a clean looking duct in place of the high beam. I’ve seen a couple of attempts at it but nothing that flows super clean.




      Something like this that is clean that follows the natural lines.



      Since I don’t have the tools or the talent to cut the glass lens that comes with the DEPO, I sourced a set of old and faded OEM headlights. After a couple of stints in the oven and a lot of patience, the OEM plastic housing was off.




      Quick 30 minute sand and polish cleaned it up pretty decent.



      There will be some tweaking necessary to fit the OEM lens on the DEPO base, but nothing that should be too difficult. That’s all I’ve got for now, I’ll continue to work on this when I’ve got some free time and motivation, but my next focus is finishing my rear seat delete so I can finally install the roll-bar that’s been collecting dust for a while now.

      Past: '99 Hellrot/Dove M3/2/5 | '97 S14 1JZ | '06 Triumph Daytona 675 | '01 330I M-Tech I | Current: '96 Estoril/Black M3/2/5

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      • #48
        Another overdue update, so let’s jump right in.



        Things with the car have been pretty tame lately, it mostly sitting a lot as the wrath of late summer in southern Texas begins to come to a close. Every now and then I go into the office on a Saturday so it’s bit of a tradition for me to park it up front, right outside of my office, so I have some eye candy throughout the day.



        That old blue M3 caught the eye of an ambitious and slightly frustrated coworker, however. Frustrated, as my rollbar had been taking up space in the back of the shop for nearly a year now. Ambitious because he wanted to put it in. So the car went around back and into the shop for him to start on.



        I went back to the office, dropping in periodically throughout the day to lend a hand when needed or check in with water and food. This guy is one of the few people I trust working on the car without any sort of supervision or intervention, the surrounding cars you see are assembled, tuned, maintained, and ran by him.



        He delicately trimmed the carpet to make flaps for the mounts to be clean and hidden while carefully positioning the rest of the assembly in place. Although when I bought this roll bar, it was said that it was for a sunroof model car, however it certainly took some persuading to get it to it’s final resting place without really wrinkling the headliner.

        You may notice the main harness bar hoop is still not wrapped with leather. Originally I made one continuous piece to stitch in, however after further thought realized that in the future I will run a proper harness setup rather than the Schroth Quick Fit Pros. Because of this, I decided that this piece will need to be separated into individual pieces; one on either side of the harnesses so that they can properly be affixed to the roll bar itself. It’ll be a chore to stitch it in the car when final, but not impossible.




        Rear outer seat bolsters were trimmed to surround the rear support bars while still clipping into place, retaining the full factory interior. Since the seats were already out, and I had a long road trip planned in the coming weeks, I decided to replace the driver’s bucket seat for the Vader.



        All said and done, the install is nice and tidy and I’m stoked to finally have this piece in the car. Originally I planned to delete the rear center fold down seats and the bottom cushion with tasteful and OEM inspired pieces to help offset the gained weight, but the full interior is kind of growing on me. I can, however, definitely feel the extra weight.



        With the weather starting to shift from summer patterns to fall patterns I’ve been driving the car to and from work a bit more, which led to a unique photo opportunity seen here. F50’s are pretty amazing to look at in photos, but their presence in person is unrivaled. Truly one of the best cars to ever roam the streets.



        I’m going to get off topic briefly; Although there were only 349 F50’s ever produced, and every one of them being very special cars individually, this one is particularly special and exciting which is why these photos deserve their own quick excerpt here.



        This license plate may not seem like much to many, but to those who are fans of Rosso Corsa it may ring a bell. This is Ferrari Chassis #99999. What this means is that this exact F50 seen here is the first F50 ever produced. This is the developmental prototype. This is the car driven by Nikki Lauda and other great test drivers at Ferrari’s test track. This is the media car, used for the initial press releases over hundreds of magazines, the car that was used for development of all the F50 scale models and toy cars to come, the car that was on the poster hanging in so many bedrooms over the late 90’s. There’s a plethora of information online to those who would like to know more.



        It’s a seriously special car and I was pretty excited to share space with it for a bit.

        IMG_4737 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr

        Moving right along, I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit on using my DSLR. I took it out one Sunday afternoon and took a couple snaps. This set will be linked to Flickr to try and save some image quality.

        IMG_4753 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr
        IMG_4757 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr
        IMG_4762 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr
        IMG_4770 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr
        IMG_4788 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr
        IMG_4798 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr
        IMG_4825 by Mike Ellington, on Flickr

        The city (and roads) of Houston are flat, straight, 90-degree angles of boring intersections and rough pavement. Any road that engages you as a driver is at least an hour outside of town, and even then, mediocre at best and over by the time you get your heart rate up. For the near five years I’ve lived here I have asked other like minded Texas petrolheads for a list of their favorite driving roads, and the list always came back the same: Hill Country.

        Hill Country is a section of midwest/western Texas, mostly between Austin and San Antonio, both of which are roughly three-four hours away from me. However, the consistent mention of Texas’ “Twisted Sisters” had peaked my interest for quite some time. The Twisted Sisters are composed of three farm to market roads about an hour west of San Antonio, some 300 miles from Houston. They’ve come highly regarded by everyone I spoke to about them, so I figured it was time to see for myself.



        First things first, the rear diff has had plenty of miles to be broken in now, so I decided to drain the fluid, inspect the magnet, and refill with fresh 75w140 before the 1,000 mile trip.



        Next was to make some minor adjustments to the alignment. I could have pulled out some camber and made other adjustments to make the car more “long distance friendly” but the whole point of driving out was to try and have some fun on some curvy roads, so it was left on it’s aggressive specs.



        Last thing left to do was to give it a fresh wash and vacuum, a pre-road trip necessity.



        We left on Friday morning and made our first stop in Austin to do a quick local hike. Austin was a mad house as it was Formula 1 weekend at Circuit of the Americas which ended up being the largest attendance to an F1 event ever, if I heard correctly. Lots of traffic around the Austin area, so we decided to do our hike, hit a favorite local road around the lake, and get out of town. Blkstrm (and anyone else from Austin) will recognize this gas station.



        Took a bit of a leisurely route to our next stop, the small town of Fredericksburg. It’s still pretty warm in Texas, so those fresh A/C components got to get some use.



        Later that afternoon we landed in Fredericksburg. This town is an old german settlement turned tourist attraction / destination for women obsessed with Pinterest and farmhouse-chic decor. Still, there’s some cool things to do in the area and a lot of good restaurant and wineries in the area.



        Final destination for the day was our AirBNB for the weekend, a remote little cabin about 45 minutes south of Fredericksburg. Lots of rough roads and loose gravel.



        We had a great little covered parking area complete with an outdoor kitchen, dining area, and rocking chairs to watch some quality Texas sunsets.



        Saturday morning called for an early departure to head over to Lost Maples State Natural Area, one of the few spots in Texas where you can get real fall foliage colors, something we miss as native Midwesterners. As you can see, our AirBNB was in a pretty remote area with plenty of free range livestock.




        We saw some good colors but were maybe a week early for peak foliage. Still, always good to be outdoors. Time for the hour drive back to the cabin to shower and relax before dinner.



        No cell service, no worries.



        We headed back into town for dinner at a local winery. Obviously the sun had set while we were there which made for an exciting drive back through rural Texas. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, the FXR retrofit with quality bulbs is one of the best things I’ve done for this car. The photo above is of low-beams only, with the high-beams on I could see all the way into the future.



        Sunday morning consisted of what I had been waiting for for quite some time, the Twisted Sisters. The morning started out cloudy and drizzly for the hour and a half drive to where the route started. Unfortunately, right as we arrived to the beginning, we came across a downed motorcyclist. Luckily his friends were there with him, help was on the way, and that he was still well enough to give me a thumbs up. We moved on and took the first leg of the 100-mile loop at a relaxed pace.



        By around 11:00 AM the skies cleared up and the roads dried out, with my conscience cleared a bit I could start to dial up the rhythm a bit and put the car through it’s paces.



        335/336/337, the Twisted Sisters, offered some great driving and some great views. Very few side of the road stops for overlooks, however, hence the lack of pictures. That’s someone else’s stain, by the way.



        Towards the end of the route I really started to up the pace and stretch the car’s legs and it performed flawlessly. Water temps were rock solid, brakes didn’t even break a sweat, and the suspension and tires ate up every corner. If you really want to, this car can haul down a mountain road at a truly laughable rate, but that’s not something I want to do with the fiancé in the car with me.

        Overall, the sisters were good, but a bit underwhelming. It was nice to be on an uninterrupted winding road with elevation changes but the really technical sections seemed to come to an end pretty quickly and then I was left waiting for the next set of curves. Still, I’ll come back again for a weekend of driving.



        Afterwards we made our way back to Fredericksburg for an afternoon of poking around the shops. As the sun started to go down we stopped by a local spot in Comfort to grab a pizza to take home.



        I think she wanted some ‘za.



        Monday morning we loaded up our gear and made the drive back to Houston, about a four hour drive. Although the 3.46 diff had the car at 4,000 RPM the entire way home, it was a nice and flawless drive home with the A/C and good music on. Another road trip down without any sort of issue whatsoever, an impressive feat for a 25 year old german sports car with 168,000 miles on it, at least in my opinion. Still, the tires and the suspension show their purpose on instances like this and make it known that this car is far more geared to track days then long distance cruising. This is another reason why I’ve been heavily considering an E90 M3 lately.

        But for now, all that is left is to clean off 1076 miles of bugs and dirt before it sets on the PPF. Luckily, that’s another chore I enjoy.

        Past: '99 Hellrot/Dove M3/2/5 | '97 S14 1JZ | '06 Triumph Daytona 675 | '01 330I M-Tech I | Current: '96 Estoril/Black M3/2/5

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