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?|
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 dynamicsIt'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.
|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.
|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 FeelI 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|
|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.
|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 soon: Tinted 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.|