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Joe's E36 M3 Coupe Journal

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  • Joe's E36 M3 Coupe Journal

    Hi everyone,

    I'm moving my journal from the recently deceased M3Forum. Fingers crossed that some of the pages are recoverable. Regardless, I'll pickup where I am at here.

    It is time to start documenting my project. I bought this car a couple years ago and I'm just to the point where I am able to start on this work. What I have is a 1998 Techno Violet M3 coupe. It has 86K miles and, relatively speaking, is in good shape. There is no rust, the interior is really good, and the engine is solid. The paint is good except for a lot of rock chips. About a year ago I did a clutch job and replaced just about everything including the transmission shift pins and linkage.

    I have a couple of goals. The first is to have fun. This is not my DD but a hobby car. I enjoy working on it so I lot of what I do is just for the fun of it. My other goal is to end up with a car that is track capable yet drivable on the street. I know this is a tricky balance.

    I’m going to start at the front and work my way to the rear. Most of the work will be mechanical and less on cosmetics (although some). Cooling, engine breathing and lubrication, power steering, braking and suspension. I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do but, no doubt, things will evolve. This is going to take some time. Whatever work I do I have to squeeze in-between work & family. My wife is pretty understanding but she does have her limits.

    Please chime in with constructive help. I’ll really appreciate it. I read a lot of the posts and there is a wealth of experience on the forum.


    Below are some pictures to get things rolling

    Up on my EZ lift

    Getting ready to pull the engine. A lot of blue tap labels so I have clues where everything goes back together.
    Got the cross brace welds drilled out and removed. Radiator and fan off.
    Lots of blue tape indicating where stuff goes back together, plus a ton of pics. Have not done this before so slow and easy with lots of documentation.

    Just about ready to pull engine.

    Finally got the engine out. More work than I anticipated but I learned a lot.
    Next stop is dropping the rear suspension, then front. Then I have to start lining up exactly what I'm going to do. I have a good idea but I need to get way more specific so I can start ordering parts.

    Progress is slow but that is expected. I finally got the rear sub-frame and suspension dropped along with breaking down the rear hub assembly in preparation for pressing in new bearings. The plan is to break down everything, media blast all the parts and weld in reinforcements. Then paint or powder coat, add new springs & shocks (maybe coilovers), clean and reseal diff, and rebuild half shafts.

    Probably get the front dropped first so I can do all the suspension/sub frame work at once.

    Rear end out

    Bits and pieces

    Progress is being made but it is slow. I can grab 4-8 hours per weekend.
    This weekend I got the struts off & front sub frame dropped. I'm almost to the point where the tear down is complete. I just have to dismantle the front & rear sub frames and suspension into their piece parts. Also, I'm not sure if the gas tank has to come out. I don't know if a welder will weld in the RTAB reinforcements with the tank in.

    Yes, I am in Seattle, Central District.

    Here is the front sub frame out. I torn down the brakes, removed the calipers, pulled the wheel bearings, and removed the struts first. Each step I learn more about how these cars are put together.

    Front sub frame out:

    There is a big empty hole here:

    Finally getting rebuilt parts back. Slow and steady is the game.
    I got my rebuilt axles back from Butters Stoch today. The subframe and suspension parts are being finished up at powder coat shop, and diff is being finished up. So things are staring to come together, albeit slowly.
    Also waiting on a SuperSprint end-to-end euro exhaust system that I picked up at one of the Christmas sales.

    Waiting on the mobile welder to get the AKG Rear Trailing Arm Pocket Reinforcement plates installed. The only time I'm not working and he is available is President's Day (Feb 15). So everything kind of ground to a halt. The good news is that the front and rear subframe reinforcements plates are welded in and all the sub frame & suspension parts, and the brake calipers are back from powder coating. The Super Sprint Euro headers, mid pipe, and race exhaust arrived as did the M50 manifold I got off EBay.
    SAP delete arrived as well.
    Found someone to do the engine work. Just have to figure out how deep I'm going to go $$-wise.

    Finally got someone to weld in the Rear Trailing Arm Pocket Reinforcement plates. Whew! Now I can start the suspension installation.

    Mike the Welder doing his stuff.

    I'm thinking that I could cut off the cable mounts from my old struts (just a couple spot welds) and have them welded onto a big clamp. Then clamp the mount around the new strut at about the same location as the stock strut. In theory it sounds like it should work. Maybe not worth the effort although it bugs me that the struts don't have the nice cable mount. I'll mess around with it and see what I can come up with

    This piece:

    Slogging away!

    Picked up a BW dual pump setup from a forum member.
    Quite fiddly to install. You have to rotate the second pump fuel level sensor while the pump is installed otherwise it does not fit quite right. Good write up here

    Fuel tank in with straps powder coated. Looked like, well, almost 20 years of road exposure. Tough to get all the hoses & vents installed and clamped properly. Also added new filler hose & clamps.

    New bearings & bushings getting installed. I found that an old wheel bearing is perfect for pushing the bearing in that last quarter inch or so.

    Amazing what some sand blasting and powder coat does to old parts. Here is the hand brake cable guides

    Next up: installing rear sub frame & suspension.

    Love it when the UPS truck brings boxes from Bimmerworld. Picked these up on sale last week.

    And inside was this

    Containing a pair of these

    Epic sport cams. They should match up well with the Super Sprint headers & M50 manifold. Just need injectors & a tune. Yippee!

    Working on updating captions for a bunch of recovered photos

    Finally had some time this past weekend to wrap up a few things. I got the rearend finished up by installing the diff with the new RE cover and bolting up the beefed up axles. The diff was a pain to install. You have to tilt it way back to get it to lift into the space, then drop in forward into the diff opening. The first time oil started leaking out the RE cover vent hole so I plugged with a toothpick to avoid any mess. Came out looking good so I am happy about it.

    Pretty much blocked now until the engine comes back from the machine shop.

    Moving along.

    The wiring is pretty much in to the point where the manifold can be installed. I added sensors for secondary water temp, oil temp, and oil pressure gauges and wired through the firewall to the steering column.

    Getting the rear O2 sensors rerouted was a minor pita. This was due to the SuperSprint midpipe and different bung locations.

    Cleaned up cover area. A little powder coating and it looks better than new. The insulation you see is all new.

    The whole SuperSprint Euro exhaust has been tough. Fitment is bad and small changes in things like O2 sensor location means hours of work to get right (at least at my pace). Still haven't finished the midpipe to header hookup. I loosened all the header nuts to get some play in an effort to get the front and rear to align. Ran out of time so looks like next weekends project.

    Finally finished installing the Super Sprint Euro exhaust system. What a pain.
    It came out looking good but I do wish SS would do a better job with fitment

    Used the original heat shield which fit surprising well. Cleaned up with Simple Green and some cosmoline remover

    Thought about an aftermarket heat shield just to protect the CV joint from excessive heat. Hope the stock unit does the job. Or maybe ceramic coat the stock unit?

    Weird thing about the midpipe to muffler flanges. SS drills out the bolt holes for 10mm bolts. They do not give you the one slide on flange so you need to use your old one or buy a new one. BMW drills them for the spec 8mm bolts so you either drill out the one flange or have 8mm bolts slopping around in 10mm holes. Why SS could not drill to spec or provide the needed 4th flange is a mystery. I used heavy 10mm stainless bolts.

    Everything lining up

    Headers clear the engine & transmission, but just barely. I had to grind away some material so it would not touch. I ground away as much as I was comfortable doing. Very tight fit. Fitment of headers to midpipe is crap.

    Tailpipes out the back!

    Finished the M50 manifold conversion. I used the Turner billet aluminum conversion kit. My advice would be to prepare for things not fitting as described. The manifold bracket that holds the pressure regulating valve and the idle regulating valve has to be cut down otherwise it presses against the coolant hardpipe with a lot of pressure. Also, the fuel rail mounting clamps are no good. They mount the fuel rail too high so there is not a good seal to the injectors. I mounted the rear manifold support bracket but forget about mounting the front unless you can do some cutting and welding to the original bracket.

    Most of the modifications are done so hopefully I'm in the final stretch and can get this finished by Summer.

    Manifold in. The circled area is where I had to change up the supplied mounting parts.

    24 lb. injectors

    The bottom of this bracket has to be cut off or it presses very hard against the metal coolant pipe

    This flange on the fuel rail has to be cut off or the rail won't mount flush

    I've been a bit slow to post lately. I am making pretty good progress.
    I spent way too much time finishing up the wiring for the new column mounted gauges. I had to cut the supplied wire harness and extend it. I routed through the passenger side wiring rubber firewall thingee that is mounted to the far right side just below the glove box. Then I wrapped all the new engine bay wiring and the wiring passed under the interior dash.

    I have the Zionsville radiator test mounted, all the intake in except the MAF & CAI. I'm getting the oil cooler lines fitted. Basically I'm getting down toward the end. Some pics below.

    Throttle body mounted. The heater ports are blocked as well. The engine head port that hooks up to this is repurposed as a water temp sender port. The other engine port is blocked. Riot Racing bored out the TB. They also supply new metal throttle linkage bushings which are nicer than the stock plastic ones. I've heard some negatives about RR. I'll see how it performs once on the road.

    Throttle body water feed blocked off

    O2 sensors plugged into the SAP delete SIM. The SAP is completely removed. You can see the new gauges wiring wrapped and snaked across the top waiting for final location mounting

    Test fitting the zionsville radiator and oil cooler

    Turner makes a really nice water pump fan delete finish cap where the fan usually mounts. I replaced the mechanical fan with an electric one. Unfortunately there is not enough clearance between the new fan and the water pump as the cap protrudes out about 1/2 inch. Too bad.

    A lot of wire for a few gauges. I did my best to do a clean job. Probably no one will ever see it.

    Gauges mounted. Still needs a bit of adjustment. I ordered one of the steering shaft extenders manufactured by ItalianM3E46. Not sure how it is going to look and feel with the gauge cluster. Hopefully great. If not, look for a good deal on the extender soon.

    Test fitting the new oil cooler lines using some cheap plastic hose temporarily. Getting the routing and length figured out before I start cutting and fitting the expensive oil lines.

    Finally finished the intake. I would change some things if I were to do it again. After all the modifications (M50 manifold, ASC delete, 3.5" HFM), the AFE CAI would not fit properly. I used the Samco 3" to 3.5" throttle body to HFM conversion elbow. With the fixed CAI box, I ended up cutting down the elbow a lot to get it to fit in the limited space. Even then the CAI did not quite line up properly. It wants to pull everything toward the left side so you end up with fittings that should be straight having a bit of a curve. I think I would use the Dinan intake unit if I were to do it again. It does not have a fixed box that everything has to align to. At least that is my impression.

    Anyway, this is done so I can now install the radiator. Nothing has yet fit the way it should so nothing really surprises me any longer.

    Also waiting for my steering shaft extension from Italy which UPS managed to lose. The manufacturer is finally convinced that UPS will not find it and will ship me a new one. UPS never finds lost packages. They just pretend they are looking for it.

    Finally have the radiator in and all connected up. Hooked up all the hoses and wiring. Rewired for the Spall fan. Hooked up the oil cooler lines. Not everything went swimmingly. I had to trim down one of the Samco hoses to get it to fit with the CAI airbox in place. Found these great radiator hose clamps for the silicone hoses. Worm drive but completely smooth where they press on the hose (they have an inner lining).

    Spent too much times wiring the Spall fan to make it look stock. The long radiator hose that runs along the bottom was a very tight fit in the Zionsville hose channel. Took wrapping the hose end with a rubber glove, and some silicone lube, to get it pushed through (joke there somewhere). Also installed new plastic radiator bottom mounts and top clips.

    At this point, I can add coolant, engine oil, fuel, battery and attempt a first start. Got the instructions from the engine builder. Little nervous about getting the oil pump primed and some oil quickly distributed.
    Maybe next weekend (fingers crossed).

    Radiator is in! I think I might be a 1/2 inch low for the under panel which means the underpanel may have to be modified (the angle is a little deceiving).

    Tight fit on all the hoses. Had to trim the silicone hoses a bit. You can see the new Spall power line (red & black).

    Another hose shot. If you look hard you can see the oil lines wrapped in high temp silicone protective wrap so the heat off the alternator does not cause any damage.

    Oil lines all connected

    Fixed the clocking on the HFM as well. Very snug in there

    Good progress. A lot of small issues addressed and some big stuff completed. All fluids in end-to-end. Everything wired up. Battery in and everything looks ok. I'm thinking first start right after the 4th as I'm taking most of the week off and looking to get this wrapped up.

    Coolant in. The vacuum system is a great way to get the coolant into the system. Suck all the air out and let the vacuum draw the new coolant in.

    Just need plugs, coil packs and some fuel

    Nose back on. Not really worrying so much about the exterior this time around. Mechanicals first, then I'll pretty it up.

    It's alive! Well, mostly alive.

    New X-brace installed. It came new with a crappy, flakey paint job so I had it powder coated.

    I installed the coil packs. The boots were looking a bit cracked so I replaced them.

    I replaced the hood liner and cleaned up the pins. When installing the pins be sure to follow instructions in Bentley manual. If you close the hood with the pins not properly aligned, you will have an absolutely shitty time trying to get the hood open. I did this with the driver's side pin and had to remove the pin from under the car (unscrew it). Very sick feeling when this happens.

    Why do people use cheap, crappy parts like bad hose clamps. The one on the left is one I removed from my car. The one on the right is the correct clamp. No slots cut and rolled edges. And really an inexpensive consumable part.

    And, finally, first start! Well, really second start. First start is when my heart stopped for a moment while I waited for the oil pressure warning light to go off.

    Figured out the fault codes I was getting. Turns out the ICV wiring plug was not quite snapped in fully. While this caused ICV errors, it also caused O2 sensor errors. Anyway, right now no faults (knock on wood).

    Got the engine covers installed. Installed the Rally Road strut tower brace (installed but the bar not yet tightened down for those of you with a keen eye). Cannot say enough about the quality of this product and all the products I've purchased from Rally Road. The workmanship is very good. And everything fits.

    The cap nuts I ordered from BMW. These are the original LTW cap nuts.

    Got a bunch of niggling issues worked out. I've gone about as far as I can go, so... off to the shop for the finishing touches. They will do a full alignment, tighten all the bushings with pre-load, check everything over, do whatever is needed to get everything right.

    Bye, bye …

    See you in about 2 weeks!

    On the lift having the suspension setup. I'll have it back early next week.

    This is what happens when the injectors you buy are not right. The injector caps end up in the head. This are rebuilt Bosch 24# injectors and have cost me over a month to sort out (and I'm still not out of the woods). And a bunch of money as well. Crap.

    Pulled the injectors out again. I cannot get the fuel trim right. One bank is lean, the other rich. I've smoked tested the intake. I'm sending the "new" injectors out to be cleaned, rebuilt & tested. I also bought another complete set to send along with the original set so I'll pick the best six out of the 12. What a pain.

    Went out for a much needed drive. Put about 100 miles of engine break in miles on it. Came home and changed the oil for the next break in stage. Still using non-synthetic break in oil. Car drives great. The new suspension and steering rack feel great. I was afraid the MCS suspension would be too much but I don't think so. The exhaust is a little loud especially under acceleration. Not bad when just cruising. I'll have to see how I feel after more miles. The engine is really strong. I have to be a bit careful as I'm still in engine break in but the power is definitely better. Coupled with the cold weather, if I get on it, the rear tires want to break loose. Need better tires this Spring.
    The issue with idle seems to have vanished. It would sometimes die if I let the throttle drop to idle fast and hard. Now it bounces ok and maintains idle. Can't really explain it.

    Stopped by Lake Washington Cars & Coffee in my neighborhood.


    Next smallish project is to get all these nose pieces painted and installed.
    I bought these quite a while ago and they been sitting in a big box since then. The nose area is pretty scratched and chipped so I just bought BMW replacement pieces. I'm thinking I should get the forward section of the hood and the forward side panel to the rear of the front wheels painted as well as those areas are rock chipped.

    I'm going to get the Motion under panel fitted better this time as well. I did the existing one with their mounting hardware. But the hardware is kind of crappy and the fitment of the panel is not good. I bought a new one and will spend some time getting it right.

    Also, I have the Bosch headlights that need to go in, probably when I install the above.

    Got the front bumper cover and grill back from the painter. They did a good job. They color matched the car. I'll see how it looks once installed. Right now I have other problems that are more pressing. I need to get a new cam sensor installed as the engine is throwing weird codes.

    Finally getting around to installing the new, and newly painted, bumper cover and grill. The old ones were worse for the wear.

    Also going in are euro headlights and new fog lights. Both are having protective films installed. I should be done in about a week!

    The new Bosch headlights just barely fit with the large aFe intake taking up space

    Finished up the new bumper cover and grill panel. I have these parts a while so I had then painted. The old ones were rock chipped pretty bad.

    I used rivnuts to anchor the Motion Motorsports under panel. The MM hardware is not the greatest. Stole this idea from Brett (for full disclosure). I used aluminum rivnuts with one washer on either side. Worked a peach. You want to be careful installing rivnuts into the soft bumper cover material. You can see the bits of plastic on the ground from me drilling out the rivnut holes. I had to redo one where I over-torqued the compression on the rivnut. Nice thing about aluminum rivnuts is that they are easy to drill out. Just don't get too ham-fisted when setting the bolts.

    I used extra wide button head SS bolts. Ideally you would use a flat head bolt and drill a relief into the MM bolt hole. I have the right bolts but not the right drill set up. This should be done with a press. So the button heads will do.
    I had to use an angle grinder to take off a good 1/4 inch of MM panel leading edge. They should really fix the fit of these. It is now flush with the black edge of the bumper cover spoiler.
    Came out pretty nice.

    New Bosch headlights and new fog lights. Just got back form a long drive so it may be a bit dirty. The glass lens on all have protective plastic laminate applied. The lights still need a little fit adjustment. I'm going to see how long I can run without a front plate.

    New staggered set of wheels ready for tires. Going with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S.

    Got the Michelins mounted up on the new wheels. So far I am liking this. I'll get a better outdoor picture later

    Out and about. A local meet up just down the street from my house.
    A smaller than average turn out as it rained in the morning and people got scared off. Usually there are no free parking spaces 30 minutes into the meet up.

    Showing off the new wheels and tires.

    Last edited by JitteryJoe; 04-26-2020, 10:13 PM. Reason: Rebuilding Journal from old forum
    Joe's 1998 M3 Journal

  • #2
    I think that is all I can find for now. Will update again if I find more.

    MSportParts | Braymond141


    • #3
      Originally posted by Braymond141 View Post
      I think that is all I can find for now. Will update again if I find more.
      Huge thank you Brett!

      Joe's 1998 M3 Journal


      • #4
        Great project, love the early Style 24s with the BMW MOTORSPORT on them. Looks a super clean car.


        • #5
          Very interesting and informative. Enjoy!


          • #6
            I still think this is one of the best US m3s around. How’s it been since it’s all buttoned up?


            • #7
              Originally posted by Westopher View Post
              I still think this is one of the best US m3s around. How’s it been since it’s all buttoned up?
              Hey Chris, it has been really good. I took care of a leaky injector a couple weeks back and had it re-dyno'd using a 5th gear pull. Shows about 288 HP at the wheel. I'm going to have it dyno'd again at a different shop later just to double check the numbers. Different dynos can show significantly different results I am told. But it pulls hard and the butt dyno doesn't lie.

              I have not gotten as much seat time as I would like. Unfortunately I got pretty sick early this year and it is taking the better part of 6 months of treatment to recover. I'm at the tail end of it now so hoping to get more seat time in the Fall before the weather goes to crap. I'm also starting to look at what might be another good project car. I love the E30 M3 you got. But I'm thinking something a little different, maybe an E39 M5. Love that body style.
              Joe's 1998 M3 Journal


              • #8
                Originally posted by JitteryJoe View Post

                Hey Chris, it has been really good. I took care of a leaky injector a couple weeks back and had it re-dyno'd using a 5th gear pull. Shows about 288 HP at the wheel. I'm going to have it dyno'd again at a different shop later just to double check the numbers. Different dynos can show significantly different results I am told. But it pulls hard and the butt dyno doesn't lie.

                I have not gotten as much seat time as I would like. Unfortunately I got pretty sick early this year and it is taking the better part of 6 months of treatment to recover. I'm at the tail end of it now so hoping to get more seat time in the Fall before the weather goes to crap. I'm also starting to look at what might be another good project car. I love the E30 M3 you got. But I'm thinking something a little different, maybe an E39 M5. Love that body style.
                Did 22rpd end up tuning the car too?

                E39 M5 are fantastic cars to drive daily and long distance. Just don't expect them to be canyon carvers and you'll enjoy every second of it. They also suffer from heatsoak badly in the summer but that V8 in ideal driving weather is sublime.

                They aren't as easy to work on as the E36 and everything weighs more. You'll have a big project on your hands if you repeat the E36 process.

                MSportParts | Braymond141