Apr 2, 2018

Doubling Down




Spending like an idiot is the true path to sports car bliss. I like this car so I'm doubling down, like any clueless jackass would do in my situation. Then I will reach the promise land.

The M3/4/5 is esoteric slang for the M3, 4 door, 5 speed.   Not rare but not
 terribly common either; many have been totaled, worn out, or converted
to race cars due to the fantastic handling, and stiffer sedan body pillars.
 
I like it as much as my previous Carrera (no I don't). Doubling down on everything on an old M3 costs about as much as a shift knob for a Porsche.  Of course the Porsche was cooler, but the M3 is an old rock star that still has what it takes.  I could name rock stars now, but don't want to be judged.

More importantly you should follow me and do the same.  Let's be stupid together; I'll be your leader


Here's how you get started,  you find this online, then say to yourself  "I'll buy this 
rather than some newer car with a big payment plan.  I'm so conservative and wise."  
These cars are at the bottom of their market, for the moment.  They won't go lower.

Start by explaining to yourself that buying a new is easily $60 - 80,0000 so you've saved your family a fortune.  Ignore that little voice saying  "new cars are faster and have a warranty", that's pride f**in' wit ya. F** pridePride only hurts, it never helps.  This as an extra car for that 3rd bay in your garage.  You know the one with the recycling, and your artificial xmas tree parked in it.   You minivan can be the "safe" purchase, lets take some risks and get a AAA card. 
Dirty fingernails are a badge of honor.  Wear them with pride (or paint them)
Bargains are bargains because you  can do the work,  not because there isn't work. 
Go get a Toyota Camry S or get a better job if you don't want to get you hands dirty.
The internet will help you justify your decision,  you can trust the internet.


Unfortunately I"m still paying for the stupidity of my past,  so actually
this should be a photo of a dude rolling coins instead of throwing bills
The truth is out there.  Just read between the lines in magazines.  They'll confirm what you know in your heart; that newer cars stink.  Trust your feelings, give in to your hate.
1. Electric steering systems falsely struggle to feel like the E36 M3
2. Magnetic ride suspension is cool, but must suck somehow. 
3. Brembos are cool, but too automated. You loose light braking feel.  
3. New cars are massive, full of cameras, sensors, airbags, and HEPA filters
4. Wheelbases keep increasing but mountain roads aren't changing at all.
5. Speakers to create a fake auditory exhaust experience. WTF? 
6. Don't get me started on automatics with paddle shifters.
7. They are faster, Oh wait, that's a good thing.  Just focus on the first 6 points. 
   
Suspension,  Okay, so that new car magnetic ride shit is amazing. Don't be so concerned about speed bumps or spilling that Starbucks.  The sporty feel of Dinan KONI Springs Shocks and Stabilizers reminds you you're driving a damn sports car, even at slow speeds. It's nothing to be ashamed of so let your freak flag fly.    
Dinan's yellow and blue crap makes me feel good inside.
Rest assured, you'll never get your money back for these
You look cool upside down on track day with all that yellow and blue.  If you need a car that turns into another car at 145mph, then you are not looking for a bargain sport sedan, you are looking for a race car.   Buy one, and get off my blog.  (and take me with you)
This is what a proper sporty exhaust look like.
 No wires no solenoids; no moving parts at all.
You may need more Speed.    It's hard to compete with the power modern cars are putting down.  Supercharging can get you back in the game a little. Don't be affraid, everybody's doing it.  But boost is like heroin, so keep it moderate and let those Kia Stingers pass if they are tailgating you. 
 Much more power and actually probably devalues the car.
Now we've hit the trifecta of stupidity.  Don't you just love it?
If you want to see it installed then send money.

Speed yes, but restrain yourself.  Nobody is fast if on the back of a flatbed.  Know your old motor's limitations. I have spent a few years and beers watching the Dyno at Blood Enterprises devour a car or two.  Unless building a motor for supercharging, be conservative as hell.  I'll be setting boost to 6-psi to match what Dinan offered and warranteed back in the 90's.   Everyone will tell you to do more boost, you can always do more. It might even hold up,  but it might not. Those guys aren't going to replace your head gasket are they?  If you are cheap, broke, or just plain uninspired then keep to this mantra: "Keep it simple stupid"


Note Ken's aftercooler, a must have upgrade for heat reduction.
Secret confession:  Boost is negated quite a bit at CO elevation, 
 those internet folks aren't that crazy, but I drive to Seattle often. 
You know all you really want is to open your hood at Cars and Coffees, Caffeine and Gasoline, or Douchebags and Donuts. 
Just keep telling yourself that new cars suck.  Any Autozone employee will tell you,  most new car developments are not for enthusiasts despite what the magazines say.  They are for the transportation safety board and Starbucks compatibility.


Add caption
You are a now a genius? You are going to be the envy of every drive through liquor store attendant in town.  Once you've got $20-30,000 spent on your $10,000 BMW, you are set.  You have improved your ride, AND assured it will never be feasible to sell. Congrats, and you're welcome 



But wait, there's more.

Doubling Down is an ongoing process.  There is more you will need to make your M3 special.
Future stupidity for me lies below.
These serve no purpose other than looking unique.  I want em.
Red or Blue colored Motorsports belts can be purchased various places online.
With an M3 sedan it's nice to bring back some sporty things to prove you are cool
Brakes are not something you need on an old M3 but they're certainly trendy.
When I buy some I'll paint them to look OEM-ish and match my seat belts too.

Over $3000 a set, Dinan/Fikses are the epitome of stupid.
That essentially guarantees I will eventually have them.  



This blog is brought to you by envy.  
Today my envy is primarily pointed at the new GT350 and GT360R,   Thanks for the inspiration
   




   

  











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Jan 22, 2018

and so it begins.

I have  an  obsession with the original Dinan Supercharger. With all it's shortcomings, I "need" it because it was the ultimate factory option in the 90's.  Authorized dealers would install these, then Dinan insured them to maintain the factory warranty.  


Below explains where I 'm headed with my M3,  but with less carbon fiber.





Okay,  almost a factory option;  you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. 

I'm obsessed with that stupid little "D" or this would be much easier
More than one company offers nice intercooled systems for the E36
Dinan offered quite a nice package, who could resist?
  1. a sexy proprietary mount w/a pretty "D" engraved into it.
  2. a hideous aluminum finish in an all black engine compartment
  3. unappealing hoses and clamps probably sourced from Lowe's
  4. No cooling at all, to assure the system fell short of it's potential
Why the hell would I want this shit?  I'm still asking myself this question.   Probably for the same reason people like the Maserati Biturbo, the Taurus SHO or any 80's Jaguar. Because it's cool, cool always trumps smart or prudent.

So like a bad relationship, I'm hooked on this old Dinan shit. What to do?
I'll tell you what I'll do: find it, Paint it, get cooler clamps and hoses, then address the big issue....
cool down the damn intake charge that's what!   


That cooling issue is now a 20 year old problem, so it's not a problem.  Enter the RMS cooler, ideal for Dinan's setup.   An after-cooler system,  it's a heat exchanger using a water pump between two radiators.   This "after-cooling" is easier to plumb because of the smaller hoses carrying water instead of air.  Thereby fixing the inherent problem with Dinan's  setup and less hideous than a air "intercooler" that is more common.

Why cool down the intake charge?  I'll explain here.

Actually no I won't explain, I'm not your high school physics teacher,  so go look up a YouTube video on why compressed air is hot.  Then watch another video on what detonation and heat soak are.  They are the work of the Dark Side,  of that I am sure. 
Now this is a sexy appearing setup!  If only VF offered an intercooler.
They claim they don't need one. You need one unless you live in Alaska
In the true spirit of my lazy-ass I have crowd sourced my plan and entirely.  I relied on all this information from Facebook forum I founded,  M3/4/5 Group   Yes, I could have found answers and products on any existing forums, but that is too hard.  I simply waited for my team of twenty  legion* of unwitting minions to offer me a solution.   I am an evil genius, I know.

It wasn't long before the exact Frankenstein setup I "need" was located just a hour away. Clearly parts availability is one major upside of the E36.  Originally a Dinan setup, then later enhanced with the RMS after-cooler mentioned above, this was perfect.  I was able to swap, negotiate and then sell some plasma to work out a deal.  It's possible I killed a man too, but It's all quite foggy now.

all kidding aside, the products above I found are quite good,
but there's always more to do when you want to do it right.


Now if you think the next step is installation, you are as stupid as I was 48 hrs ago.  Every single part should be assessed and refurbished if you are as uptight as I am.    I'll give you a hint........

Addendum:  Apparently Dinan actually offered such a setup as the one above (10psi, w/RMS cooling) as an unadvertised option.  I cannot say this is one of those setups or simply an attempt to copy it.   Either way I'm quite happy.


The name of my next blog is "There is no such thing as a free lunch"



* it's possible it was legion of one.  :)  Thanks Vic D.  I owe you one.

Dec 13, 2017

Project M3/4/5

I don't need a new M2 or an Alfa Guila Quadrifoglio, right?.   I mean who needs those pieces of crap? Screw those cars.

After all the M3/4/5 is a more real car.
1. it has real rack and pinion, not electronic steering trying to feel real.
2. it has one handling mode only and no switch.  It on all the damn time so if your Starbucks sloshes around, get a towel.
3. it has no power memory seats.  It doesn't remember my seat position because I don't let the wife drive the damn thing.  I leave the toilet seat up intentionally sometimes too.
4. it has a real manual transmission, but more importantly...  You can place paddle shifters anywhere you like, but they won't help your testicles grow back.
5. it has no infotainment.  It's my right as an american to be offended by much less.  So yep, I'm offended by infotainment.

Just look at them,  hideous right?
Join the Fans of Sedans Group on facebook  FACEBOOK E36 SEDAN GROUP

My mission is the make my $10,000 BMW E36 M3 believably cool even by today's standards.  Call it self actualization, call it conceit.  Shit, call it retail therapy; I don't car.  (Care intentionally misspelled to be cute)

Seems starting with the "Best handling car at any price" by Car and Driver, is a good start. Nevertheless,  the E36 is certainly at the bottom of its market, which is good for me because I too am at the bottom of my market.   
You can get a 90K mile example like this for $10-16K as of this writing.


Issue 1 handling dynamics

It's not hard to say a car handles good when they are small and tight like this one.  I can't make it smaller, but I can make it tighter.  Everyone likes tighter.

The current rage about the recent BMW M1 and M2 has a lot to do with its size.  Handling dynamics are inextricably tied to size and weight.  Look at the cars we all love.  Lotus Elise,  Mazda MX5,  Mini-Coopers, and even Shelby Cobras were tiny little cars.  So we are back to small because it's nothing new, it was cool now because it was cool then.

Pikes Peak, Colorado

I'm not running a physics class here's the bottom line on "tightness":  stiff chassis = great handling.  Sedans are more rigid than coupes, just look around at the track and you'll figure it out.   Furthermore, my example is a sedan without the popular folding rear seats, hence the most rigid M3 you'll ever find.  I rule!

That said to get a 20yr old car up to snuff I think a few little things are still in order.  So a quick romp through Craigslist and eBay and I've scrounged the following

Brace: Minimal impact perhaps, but it's pretty.
 I don't like have carbon engine covers.
Why? because carbon fiber is simply lipstick for a motor.

Chassis brace from a convertible is an OEM stiffening solution 
Bigger sway bars,  is that chassis stiffening?  "Sure" said me.

Issue 2 Restoration

You can't make this sucker new, but you can make it shiny.

Appearance of a new car, and  feel of a new car is hard to beat. Starting with a super detailed cleaning, you'll identify many depressing items on any used car.  These broken bits and pieces are a big part of  that makes old cars old.   While the M3 5-speed sedan isn't  terribly common,  each individual part is very common.  So in this world of free information its really easy to source these things once identified, even if  stupid.  Log into Facebook and ask the people with nothing better to do to help you.

Clean the crap out of it,  I mean remove the interior, the rubber trim and scrub.
Nobody wants to find a 15 year old ham sandwich under his seat, so clean well.
.

Teeth whitening for cars.  Best if you ask your father-in-law to do this for you.

 You never see your own tail lights unless you are thrown from the car.
So I will not buy euro-tail lights, LED or any or other shiny crap. 

I prefer factory radios but I painted this to match the interior and its iPhone friendly too.
No wires were cut, and the BMW factory radio failed 3 times before I gave up on OEM.
I emailed Duplicor for instructions on how to paint shiny plastic bits. good guys.

Okay, I pimped out my pedals, sorry but these Chinese pedals rock.
New M3 Floormats are a must.  $100 gets a new set from anyone

Holding a nasty old  wheel or knob is like borrowing someone's old underwear.\
Brand new 3 spoke steering wheel swapped in was complicated, but I'm smart.
Shift knob is the same deal, brand new. 

I may buy a whole new interior leather, but that will wait till after the kid stops dropping cookies everywhere.
For now it looks pretty good actually, but I did spend a day treating the leather and obsessing over every stitch.

.

Yep, even if those hidden seat tracks are cracked, you've got to replace em.
Late at night, it will wake you just knowing they are cracked.  You'll go to hell.

Other items clearly not worth a screen shot include BMW badges, various small screw covers, trim pieces,  clunky switches etc etc.  Tracking them all down w/out paying retail takes a bit of time, but that's how you make an old car young again.  If you want to look like The Rock, you gotta get up  at 4am each day, same with car restoration.  

Squeak patrol:  I don't tolerate that shit.   I find and destroy them, and luckly the M3 is well made, so they are few and easily rectified when identified.   Sunroof is boring and not pictured here, but I rebuild some of it and quieted that crap down.  Some pastic bits here and there benefited from Dynamat (it only takes a piece about the size of a quarter to make a huge improvement).  Heater fan is showing signs of imminent failure, it will wait till I pull the dash over winter.

Items on hold till winter
1. On board computer's clock has gone dark.  I need a new one but refuse to pay for a stupid clock.
2. Heater core (this is cheap but a 10 hour job, so is waiting till winter.
3. Heater fan  makes faint noises, will fail in a year or two.  (address with item 2 above)
4. Keyless entry,  this is an opportunity when car is apart for heater core.



Issue 3 Sporty Feel

I need this M3 to be more sporty than it was and accept its limitations too. While performance is important, it is also a moving target you'll never hit.  A 1988 Porsche 911 frankly cannot compete with a new Accord with V-Tech, but no on argues the Porsche is more sporty.  My goal is not to turn this into something it is not, but rather communicate more with the driver by feel, sound and modest performance changes.  It's not how fast your car is, its how fast it feels. There will always be a minivan  that's faster than your M3, but it won't feel fast because of the Paw Patrol video playing in back.

It's safe to say Dinan upgrades are modest , reliable and over priced.  In the 90's Dinan figured all this out, so I will simply buy every damn thing they ever made for this sucker.  I'm shallow, and you know you are too.


The Dinan badge says "I manage my car money poorly."  That's me, I'll take it

People complain about the value of Dinan shit.  If they can charge more, good for them.  They have built a brand and should benefit from it.   That said, If I can find that same stuff used, good for me.  I have a budget to keep and a Craigslist/eBay strategy to my upgrades. My gut says I've spent about $1250 on $4000 worth of goodies. Spreadsheets and shopping lists bore me and take away space that could be used for sarcasm.

Dinan Exhaust, the exhaust note is huge in your day to day impression of a car.
Dinan does this quite well,  authoritative but not juvenile.  It completes me.
Dinan Full suspension package definitely adds to the sports car feel
An unexpected surprise,the previous owner installed this quite recenty.

Forced induction strikes fear in the hearts of the uninitiated. If properly intercooled and modest in output, a supercharger is quite an easy, reliable improvement w/out much of a down side.  Dinan actually offered supercharging in 1997 and even backed it with a warranty rivaling the BMW warranty to appease the paranoid. But other companies offer more modern approaches. Once you've been blown, you'll understand. 
The little known 10psi Dinan supercharger option.  Intercooled and sexy as hell.
I had to kill a man for this, but he won't be missed.  Look for install notes soon.

For now supercharging is on hold till I read and comprehend the 35 pages of 350 installation steps.  All with not a single photo.   I'm a car guy to the bone, but this is a lot to digest late at night when drunk.  After all that's when I do all my car shit.

I don't buy into power claims from intakes like these.
It does however have an audible benefit to me.

Issue 4 Sporty look.

You cannot deviate too far from a car's original design, or old people will crack jokes about you at cars and coffee.  I will attempt to appear like the coolest stock M3 one could buy back in 1997, and nothing more.

* A factory style spoiler is in the works but cannot yet be pictured.

Coming soonTinted windows
 .The "Storm Trooper" appearance of a white M# benefits from tinting.


 M colors stickers,  I'm ashamed and the wife is going to make me remove them.




Sep 28, 2017

Mental Health

Pikes Peak. 


Some bad shit has transpired.  Don’t worry; I’m not sharing.  Men don’t do that shit.  Men get into their fucking cars and drive.  That's what this man is doing anyway.



I woke up, grabbed Ray Bans, a radar detector, a Mac Book and jumped in the M3 to escape reality

So off I went, on the road to Pikes Peak.   It’s the closest, cool car guy destination  that I know of.  (I've been in Colorado for a few years now, but my focus has not been on cars, but rather my young son).  Someone who will receive the torch of automobilia I hope.  My goal is to waste the whole damn day, if possible.


No guard rails in most places.  I'm a car guy, but damn!  I don't think so. 
I’ve never been up Pikes Peak, but if it’s anything like my drives in Oregon to Mt Saint Helen it should be adequately distracting.    Fresh pavement and turns that require 100% focus to drive the demons from my mind, albeit temporarily. 





I’m rocking out to Pandora in my Kenwood Apple Car play radio.   I prefer factory stereos, but they have broken 3 times in 3 months.   So I bought the most Apple Compatible radio I could find, then asked Duplicor for guidance to paint the shiny/flashy bits to match the interior. They replied in hours with product names and instructions.   I like old school cars w/out electro doodadification, but a man needs to make calls and use his Waze app too.



Climbing the peak allows me to explore my goals for the M3.    I need 0-60  times in under 5 seconds. Probably because that was the Holy Grail when I was a boy.   I’d also like my car to look a bit more stunning w/out looking like a project car.   I prefer my coolness to be subtle, but impactful to people that know what they are seeing.  Automotive esoteric coolness is my mantra.


I don't have the nerves to race, but that doesn't make me less of a car guy. 
 Perhaps autocross is more my speed,   no cliffs to drop down. 

     Big ass brakes would be nice.   These are cosmetic to me, but I still want them pretty badly.  I’d like bigger Motorsports-Blue calipers to peak out from behind my wheels.  Since I really don’t need better braking, I plan on Porsche 996 brake calipers, adapted to fit my car, then painted to look like late model M3 Brakes.  This should be more hands on than a kit, and hopefully less expensive too.   

 Brembos off a 996 Porsche can be painted to look this good

      Dinan badges are cool to me.   Many Dinan parts are irrelevant if I plan to install a supercharger.  The car already sports Dinan suspension, and Dinan exhaust will come soon.   I’ll buy just enough to warrant a legitimate badge w/out being a charlatan.
 
   
Wheels,  I can't drive much longer on my hideous wheels.  I want the coolest wheels BMW offered in the 90’s or I’ll die of plebianism.  Below are my ultimate choice, and they are around in refurb and replica forms. 





I think the plate personifies esotericism, if that’s a word.   It means very little to common folk, but tells BMW guys I’m the less common 4 Door with a 5 Speed.   It's actually plenty damn common, but since it took a while to find one, I’m going to make believe it's rare.  What's being a car guy w/out a little self-deceit?



Lastly, I’m having a love hate relationship with the idea of forced induction.  The blower pictured comes with an ECM tune included that should make it quite drivable.   The appearance in black is quite OEM looking, and I dig that. A Dinan supercharger is an ideal choice too, but they cannot be sourced new;  meaning tuning and rebuilding costs would be additional.  



.
The VF Superchargers are large blowers moving a pretty small volume.  This means you can get away with lower temps w/out an intercooler and make reasonable power.  Ultimately this will get me going the modest speed improvement I desire.  The price of $ 4,500 puts this on the back burner for a while.   When my son’s older It will be a good project for him to see.




   





My only competition to the Peak today.  I kicked his ass.