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Thread: Visceral M3 / My Estoril E36 M3/2/5 Journey

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    Visceral M3 / My Estoril E36 M3/2/5 Journey

    Longtime forum lurker but not often poster, I figured I'd get this up to help the forums live on in this day and age of social media takeover. I grew up on forums reading for hours and learning how to DIY everything I know. Between here and the Nissan forums I still lurk on the shortage of contribution is evident. I genuinely enjoy reading through other members "journeys" with their cars and engaging with one another to keep the enthusiasm fresh and alive, so here is my story!


    Back when I was in high school, some ten plus years ago, my friends and I took a road trip to Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Being that I'm not much of a lay-on-the-beach all day type of guy I ended up bouncing around town with two of my friends. I had been a die-hard Nissan S-Chassis guy since I could remember, having bought my first 240SX at the age of 14. My best friend, however, was essentially the same with our beloved German automaker, having a turbo 328is and a couple of other odd's and ends. So when we passed by a mom and pop lot with two E36 M3's and an E46 M3 he was quick to exclaim "Dude! Turn around! Let's go back!"


    I remember vividly this is where the DTM Disease began. Having little experience with these things, I didn't really know what I was looking at, and none of the cars really "stopped me in by tracks." They just looked like a dated 3-series to me. My two other friends were on the other side of the lot looking at a black/black M3/2/5 but I was eyeing another car in the lot, a Hellrot Red/Dove M3 coupe with a strange badge on the back. Dinan. The car looked very clean and well kept, but had a very high price tag for something that looked so......old.... My friend came over and explained to me the essence of Dinan just as a saleswoman came out to ask if we needed any help. Being the young shits that we were, we pretended we were interested in trading my 99 323i in on this car and somehow I ended up behind the drivers seat, pulling out of the lot and down the street with my two pals in the car.


    "Dang, this drives totally different than my dull E46."
    "Wait, this thing is responsive and torquey. That's something I don't get from my S14."
    "Hold on a second, that exhaust sounds really ****ing good."
    "Why haven't I known about these sooner?! This is great!"


    These were some of my initial thoughts I had as we enthusiastically ripped down some side roads. We got back to the dealership, I parked the car, got out and turned around and looked at it. I started to feel a weird feeling, like a love at first sight type of way. "This isn't good, I don't have that kind of money, but now I really want one." The sales lady came back out, asked us how everything was, answered a few questions, and we went back to the condo.


    I thought about the car for the rest of the night, trying to work out how many hours and how many jobs I would have to work to afford this while still in high school and with zero credit history. I talked it over with my mom who thought I was crazy, already having two cars at the age of 17, and that paying the car note on my E46, maintenance, modifications and insurance just wasn't feasible for me even while working 6 days a week after school.


    Extremely fortunate for me, however, my mom and I worked it out, and I was the new owner of a 1999 BMW M3 coupe in Hellrot over Dove, with a Dinan Stage 2 package and only 75,000 miles. I was the happiest, and luckiest 17 year old in the state of Florida that day, hell, the whole rest of that week. I don't think I saw the beach for the rest of that trip. I was too busy blazing down the coastal roads with the windows down in my new bright red M3, listening to the sweet symphony of the S52. Driving the car 14 hours back to my hometown at the end of the vacation with my four other buddies between the M3 and my 323i is still, to this day, one of my fondest memories. We left in the middle of the night and for the first three hours or so were the only ones on the highway and definitely didn't drop below 100mph. We made our way though the George Wallace Tunnel outside of Mobile Alabama and think that's when the true love really set in. Dropping from 5th gear into third and listening to the S52 scream all the way through redline through the next two gears had me grinning like some kind of deranged idiot.







    Over the course of the next two years or so I worked everyday after school, year round, at our local car wash. There were days where it was so cold outside that the water dripping off the cars that just exited the wash tunnel would literally "freeze" the car to the ground and all feeling in my toes and fingers were completely gone. But sitting across the lot was my beautiful red M3 with not a speck of dust on it. (Perks of working at a car wash, it was washed almost every other day.) I shoveled snow, I cut grass, I did odds and ends around the neighborhood. All of my money went to that car. My beloved S14 was put on the backburner for quite some time. Didn't care though, the M3 was great. My best friend and I ended up traveling to, I think, Nashville where he bought a 95' Hellrot/beige M3/2/5. We had a blast ripping around together over the next year or so. The local police, however, weren't too fond of our daily full throttle runs around town.







    I thought about selling the car before going off to college but I ended up taking the car with me to campus about two hours away. Life continued as normal and the miles racked up. I'm not sure where I lost touch, I still question it to this day. I think it was a combination of things; I was putting too many miles on the car commuting back and forth from college and my older sister needed a car and always loved my M3. It pains me to say this, but I ended up buying an E46 330i M-Tech I and "sold" the M3 to my sister after she promised to take care of it as I had thus far.







    It was kind of a win-win for me, as the car stayed in the family and I didn't have to keep adding so many miles to it. I'll come back to it someday, I kept telling myself as I dove deep into trying to balance work, college and life in general as a young adult.


    It all came full circle though. Cards just didn't unfold how I would have wanted. My sister wanted to sell the M3 and get something cheaper to keep up with. Paying my own way through college, maintaining my E46 and still playing with my then RB swapped S14 drift car, I couldn't buy the M3 back from her. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have sold my E46 to fund the M3, but for some reason I didn't. The E46 just seemed more practical.


    And so they sold it. For cheap. To a guy who had a small dealership who flipped it. I felt so bad for the car. I could only hope whoever ended up with it took half of good as care as I had. As they say, you don't really know what you've got until it's gone. For the next two years or so I tried not to think about it.


    I guess one day I got a wild hair up my ass, pulled open my laptop and went to work. I don't remember exactly how I found it, but I did. I found an older gentleman who had joined BF.c in a small town not far from mine around the same time that my M3 was sold. I read through his posts, although very few of them, where he mentioned his recently acquired 99 Hellrot M3 coupe. I kept reading and found one post that really stood out; it was him asking about a restrictor size for the hardline to the power steering rack. It reminded me of the time that I had blown off that exact power steering line while I was at college and I started to recall how I repaired it, without the restrictor. This had to be the car! I checked his username again, he hadn't been logged in a while so a PM was likely futile. Through the further powers of the internet I tracked down the guys name and even luckier, got his phone number! It actually took me a few days to work up the courage and the right words to call the guy up. I felt like such a creep essentially saying "hey I stalked around on the internet and found that you own my old M3." The guy was actually really nice though and through a quick chat we came to the conclusion that it was in fact my old car. I was relieved to hear him tell me that it has been garage kept and well looked after and even had some modifications that I never could afford! I told him to save my number and if he ever decided to sell to please call me first. I think this was around 2012 or so. I've probably called once or twice since then and left messages, but I haven't heard back from him since that day.


    *PHWEW.*
    *Wipes sweat off of forehead, takes a sip from glass of water*


    I'm surprised if you're still here. Now that you've got the backstory, I'll bring you up to "present day" quickly.


    Back in 2013, another one of my good friends and long time E36 nut (supercharged M52 E36 and then 1JZ swapped E36 M3) purchased a beautiful Estoril Blue '96 M3. If I recall correctly he planned to use this car as his daily as his 1JZ M3 had crossed the threshold for "daily duty" into full on track car. Being the typical gearhead he is it ended up getting built into a PDX/SCCA car over the years. He ended up starting his own business and needed to sell the car to free up some capital. I didn't have the money at the time so he sold it to our other friend, the one who used to have the Hellrot E36 M3 I mentioned before. That friend ended up moving to Detroit when he was offered a job with Road & Track, and then a year later to Brooklyn for a job with The Drive. Over these two years the car was neglected, barely used, and sat outside through some harsh winters. He realized that the car wasn't get used and hated to see it sit outside in Brooklyn, getting backed into and accumulating parking fees.


    Cue: me. This is the beginning of my new journey with my new M3.


    August 21, 2016.
    Saturday morning my friend who owned the car sent me a text with no words, just a picture. It was a picture of the M3 in front of his parents house, here in St. Louis.


    ďWait, what?Ē I replied.


    ďYo dawg, I heard you like friends and M3ís, so I put a friend in a M3 and drove it from Brookyln back to St. Louis.Ē


    I was overwhelmed with excitement. I made my way over there the following afternoon to catch up and check out the car. We sat and shared stories, he told me about all of his crazy endeavors all over the world while working for The Drive as well as Road & Track. Eventually we made our way to the garage where the M3 was stored.


    The last time I saw this car was about two years prior, when Ted still owned it. I remembered the car being a beautiful, clean M3 sitting on some wide APEX ARC8ís, paired with some meaty tires. It had a Reiger front lip and MateoMotorsports rear diffuser. Ted has good taste. See below.



    So when the garage door opened up and I walked around the car, I couldnít help but think, ďWhat happened?Ē Donít get me wrong, the platform was still there and fairly clean, but it was far from the car I remembered. Literally two days after Ted sold the car, it was broken into in downtown Chicago. The drivers window was bashed in and they took was the Euro BMW steering wheel and the radio. Once it arrived at Road & Trackís headquarters in Detroit, it spent most of its time sitting. Outside. Through the winter. Here you can see the dirt accumulated as well as some old vinyl template for the OEM wing.



    Next year the car was moved to Brooklyn, where it luckily was stored inside. While it was out on the street, someone backed into the car, resulting in a huge crack in the front bumper and twisting the bumper carrier. Fortunately the bumper shocks donít appear to be damaged. The driver side fender took some of the hit too, as itís arched up slightly. The corner light doesnít sit flush now and the paint is flaked off where it pushed in. The nose panel will need to be replaced entirely, and the bumper carrier that is welded to the car is hanging loose.




    As with a lot of E36ís, the passenger side window trim has since had the original coating wither away, exposing bare metal and resulting in rust. The driver side is still alright, fortunately.





    The front bumper was useless. The rear diffuser was gone. The APEXís were replaced with some narrow no-names. There are no rear seats and only a Sparco bucket for the fronts. Two of the headlight wires were exposed and rubbing each other, creating a small fire. Three out of five windows have window tint on them. There are some heavy scratches on the drivers side rear quarter panel, not to mention the paint is a complete different shade on that panel than the rest of the car. Itís hard to see in the picture, but I can spot it from 15 feet away in person.



    Iíll be honest. I was a little overwhelmed at first. It needs a lot more than I anticipated. But once I got behind the wheel, put my foot down, and heard the S52 scream through Vanos, it all faded away instantly. It was exactly as I remembered, better even. The slight whistle from the intake, the throaty exhaust note, torque at all RPMs, the short-but-not-too-short gears of the 5-speed, aesthetically it may a bit on the rougher side, but mechanically, this thing is a ****ing boss and everything I could have hoped for.


    Okay, that was a lot of writing. I'm going to take a break and start backfilling the journey from then until now in a bit.

    - - - Updated - - -

    August 22, 2016


    This car hasn’t been cleaned in ages. I cleaned up the door panels a little bit, but once Dove leather is neglected, it’s damn near impossible to revive. Grey/white leather just doesn’t age well, no matter how well you take care of it. It’ll be a huge pain in the ass, but I think a full black interior transplant is in store.






    Quick cleanup of the dash area. Still need to get down to the nitty gritty with toothpicks and Q-tips.






    August 28, 2016


    I drove the car around town a little bit throughout the week and with the nice fall weather we are having, I was excited to get out and spend some time on my favorite back roads this weekend. Even with cheap and narrow all-season tires, the car felt great. Besides the limit of grip from the tires, the car handles amazing and dives in each turn asking for more; brake a little later, carry a little more speed, get on the throttle sooner. With the windows down and the radio off, I blasted through narrow rural roads with the S52 symphony echoing off of the neighboring trees lining the road. I’m a die hard Japanese car nerd, but the Germans really got it right with this car. I pulled over to take a break and took this photo.





    I hopped back in, turned the car on and started to head back towards my house. I decided I had had enough and took it slow on my way back, gently rowing through the gears. It was at that time I started to notice in between gears there was a faint “clunk” from the rear differential. I started to get PTSD of the time I sheared a diff bolt in my old E36 M3, leaving me stranded on the side of a busy road. I slowed down a bit, going from 2nd gear to third, listening very carefully. It was getting louder. I kept thinking, “only 10 miles from home, just be careful and stay in one gear.” Unfortunately it’s not easy to stay in 4th gear AND go slow for some of these turns so I had to change from time to time. Louder and louder the clunks got, until it started making a VERY loud sound, from what I eventually assumed was the input flange on the rear differential rubbing the chassis. It would only make the rubbing sound above 5% throttle, it was silent off throttle. I delicately tried to keep as much speed going without coming out of 4th gear and not giving it enough throttle so it started rubbing. Nerve wracking and frustrating to say the least. I had only put about 150 miles on the car until now and it was already giving me these types of issues? Great.


    Anyways, after a lot of curse words and pissed off people wondering why I was doing 20 mph in a 45, I got it home. It’s Sunday night and will be dark soon, so I’ll mess with it later.


    September 20, 2016


    I ended up having the car towed down to a shop called Kinetic Motors, a one-man indie shop. Jon, the owner, has worked on the car in the past when Ted owned it and is a very knowledgeable fella. He has a badass full-track-spec E36 sedan that he is in the middle of S54 swapping. There was also a Technoviolet E36 M3 on the lift and a nicely set up E39 540i in the shop also. If you’re in St. Louis and looking for a good spot to service your BMW, I would hands down recommend him. Super friendly, super knowledgeable, and not going to charge you an insane labor rate. After talking shop for almost an hour, I left and went home.


    Got a call from him the next day with the diagnosis:


    -Front diff bolt missing, first few threads damaged. Diff bushings need to be trimmed to fit properly.


    Diff Bolt: $10.99
    Washer: $.50
    Loctite & Brakleen: $6.00
    Total Paid: $248.23







    Car is kind of sad looking in it’s current state, but man does this thing drive good. Got out of town today and stopped in the middle of nowhere. With a couple of updates and changes, this thing would make a great road trip car.





    September 25, 2016



    I have a bad habit of taking things apart, cleaning them, and then putting it back together. You never really know how much dirt gets trapped in random places. Here you can see the before and after of the tail light area. If you do this, make sure you pull that rubber gasket up and clean in there also.




    September 30, 2016


    Random shot from Ikea garage tonight. Estoril Blue looks so good in any light.



    October 25, 2016


    Not E36 related, but M3 related. Took a short weekend trip for our anniversary down to Eureka Springs in Arkansas, a small and historic town nestled in the hills of Northern Arkansas. Our chariot for the weekend was a friends track-prepped E92 M3.





    The recipe on this car is fairly simple, yet so good. APEX ARC8’s wrapped in Dunlop Direzza Star Spec ZII’s, TC Kline coilovers, and upgraded brakes.





    Fueled up and ready to go bright and early the following morning!





    Eureka Springs and the surrounding areas are very popular with motorcycle riders due to the great curving roads with lots of elevation changes and scenic views. The Pig Trail, otherwise known as Highway 23, was one of the many great routes we took. There are so many different side roads that are equally as good and typically don’t have much traffic. You really can’t go wrong in this area.





    We had a room booked at the The Crescent Hotel. This place was super cool, built in 1886. If you ever come to this area, I would highly recommend staying here. It’s also reportedly super haunted, but I didn’t see any spookis.







    Our room walked out to a shared balcony overlooking the courtyard and hills of the area. Surprisingly, over the entire weekend we only saw one other person sharing the balcony with us. Despite two weddings being hosted while we were there, it was very peaceful and quiet.





    Let me warn you now, there is zero cell phone signal in the majority of Northwest Arkansas. Not kidding. We got lost…..really lost. Luckily everywhere we went was nice and scenic and we got a couple of good hikes in throughout the weekend.





    Downtown Eureka Springs was a great little area to walk around. Lots of neat little shops and restaurants. The whole area is very active and bustling all day and night.






    Many many miles, hikes, eats, and a couple of selfies, it was time to go home.


    October 29, 2016


    Back to E36 things.
    Gas door not wanting to stay closed? 99.99% chance it’s your spring. Couple of bucks at your local dealer for the part and five minutes of your time. I took videos of the before and after but it won’t let me upload them.







    November 23, 2016


    Since Dove Grey interior doesn’t tend to age well, I’ve decided that I’m going to convert the interior of this car to black. One of the first things that has shown up are the door sills. (Don’t mind the E46 seats here, they’re temporary.)





    As usual, the piece had trapped dirt and moisture underneath for years.





    If you’re looking for new door sill panels make sure you have a couple of extra clips for when you install the new ones. Like most 20 year old BMW clips, they tend to break upon removal. Also, make sure the new pieces you’re buying still has good quality rubber gaskets along the sides. After cleaning up the mess I snapped in the new one.





    March 19, 2017


    Finally got around to installing the new OEM nose panel. Don’t buy those cheap ones you see on eBay or wherever. They’re likely made of plastic, fit poorly, and flex easily making your front end look bad.







    You can really see the damage to the bumper support bar on the driver side here. Luckily there is no damage to the bumper shock. It’s like the backed into the car, and then pulled it out when they pulled away. *eyeroll*


    March 26, 2017


    Bunch of life has gotten in the way of progress on this and with a big change coming soon (see boxes below), it’s been on the back burner.


    After pulling the front bumper support off I found the bracket that holds the bumper shock to the support bar to have been pulled out and mangled.





    Ordered a new one online and met up with a local to get a used OEM support bar. Don’t buy the cheap ones online, they’re made of FRP/Plastic and will definitely not hold up in the event of an accident. Steel or nothing.





    Girlfriend got me a new front bumper from ECS Tuning for my birthday! For a replica, the quality is actually pretty good and seems pretty durable. Picked up all new stainless steel hardware from the local Home Depot and went to work!






    It also fits pretty good too! Yay, finally looking like a car again. Now to get it all painted.






    March 29, 2017



    E36 corner/turn signal housings are pretty poorly designed. I think I’ve lost three already.


    And every time it brings the turn signal socket with it. �� y tho




    - - - Updated - - -

    April 3, 2017


    As mentioned before, a major life change has been looming in the background. A couple of months ago I was offered a fantastic opportunity in Houston. After weeks and weeks of deliberation, I made the decision to leave my family, friends and hometown, take a leap of faith and make the move. With the M3 strapped to a trailer and all of our belongings loaded into a box truck, we set off for our newest adventure.





    April 5, 2017


    After settling in a bit and unboxing our stuff, we decided to go out for a evening drive to explore our new surrounds. Gotta say, Houston is very photogenic. May need to dust off my DSLR and take some real photos.





    Thereís a big park right outside of downtown that has a huge field and great views of downtown. Even at almost 11 PM there were dozens of people walking, biking, and hanging out. Not used to this big city stuff.





    These three photos are from a little area not far from our house. Everything is lit up blue so it makes for a cool environment. Once I get new wheels and tires, paint, and make a few adjustments, I will come back for more ďgoodĒ photos.







    May 17, 2017


    Finally got around to getting the garage set up. All that is left to do is mount the pegboard to the wall to hang some tools. The garage is a two-car tandem, so while itís slightly on the narrow side, thereís plenty of room to actually get stuff done and not be claustrophobic. Also finally got the new license plate on.





    May 20, 2017


    Had some free time to put in a couple hours into the M3 this weekend. Finally broke out the claybar and detailing supplies. The car has been sitting outside until the recent move, so it was long overdue.





    For 21 year old OEM paint that has been neglected and NO buffing, it cleaned up pretty nice. It does has itís flaws that will need correction, but not bad overall for a dayís work.





    July 18, 2017


    Started collecting parts to swap the interior from Dove Gray to black. Luckily a full carpet and dashboard showed up for sale locally, so I didnít have to pay for shipping these big items.






    They were pretty dirty so I brought them to work to do a thorough cleaning done. (y)







    Got a set of black door panels off of Bf.C for cheap as they have the dreaded adhesive separation. Figured for the price I can try to re-wrap them in a leather-like vinyl.






    August 28, 2017


    Finally got around to peeling this ugly shit off. Without a proper heat gun or eraser wheel, it was a real pain in the ass to heat up with a torch and pick each tiny piece off. Surprisingly, there wasnít much of an outline underneath.





    The cracked gaskets along the vent windows have been bugging me for quite some time now, so I ordered up the parts, pulled the interior apart, took the window out and got to work.










    As usual, everything was dirty and needed to be cleaned up before re-installation.






    Here you can see that the old gasket has literally crumbled into many little pieces. The new OEM pieces are only about $40 a piece and arenít too difficult to install. Just be careful pulling the metal trim along the window down. Mine was stubborn and when it finally broke loose it kinked near the front. Now it has waves in it and I need a new one for it to be perfect.





    Still, sanded it down in the meantime as the factory coating has withered away and corrosion was showing through.






    One side down. One to go.


    August 31, 2017


    Before we relocated to Houston I had read that it was very prone to flooding. Naturally, before we signed the lease on our place I checked out a flood map and deemed our area was very unlikely to flood.


    I was right, but not by much. Granted no one really predicted what would come with such a torrential storm. Less than a mile north of us was flooded as far as the eye could see, as pictured here:






    Although I was confident our place wasnít going to flood I moved the M3 to a friendís high-rise for a few days. He was nice enough to send me a photo of it tucked away, safe and dry.





    September 4, 2017


    A long put-off project has been tackling the battery tie down. The E36 comes with a pretty dumb design that only really fits factory sized batteries. Basically you sit the battery in the tray and slide a triangle-shaped peice of metal up against it and tighten it down. There are a couple of companies that offer a more sturdy option, but they are $150 and up. So basically this thing has been moving around, slightly, for a while and needed to be addressed.





    Luckily for me I have a very skilled fabricator friend who whipped up a custom piece for me in about an hour and a half. Super sturdy & clever design, with it tucking under the trunk frame rail and tying into a traditional threaded bolt on the other side.





    October 30, 2017





    Finally got the front bumper and nose panel painted and installed XPEL clear bra at the same time. Still need to find a hood that is in good shape that doesnít have creases in it like this one does. Maybe an OEM style carbon fiber one?


    Also snagged an AFE intake for the car. They seem to be the best short-ram intake for the car that come with a nice little heat shield to help keep the radiator hose away from the filter. Doubled up on that and added some extra heat shielding to keep IATís down during these Texas summers.






    The new intake sounds great. Wayyyyy better than the generic setup that was on there before.




    - - - Updated - - -

    November 11, 2017





    The Warden and myself have never been to New Orleans so we decided to take a little weekend trip to see the sights and, of course, eat the food. I had been planning to take the M3 for a while and I’m glad we did. The car ran flawlessly with the A/C on all the way there and back without skipping a beat.


    We stopped at Avery Island on the way, which is a beautiful little getaway area.






    We got into New Orleans right about the time the sun was going down. There is a bridge that runs north of town that is 24 miles long, nothing but water for as far as the eye can see, was pretty cool!







    Got to the hotel, parked the M3, and took a look around our supposedly haunted hotel. Haunted or not, this place was great.







    December 1, 2017


    Put the car on the lift yesterday to find the transmission mounts are torn and the factory heat shielding on the trans tunnel had separated and been rubbing on the guibo for quite some time. Yikes.






    December 8, 2017


    After searching for 17◊9 SSR Type C’s in 5◊120 and the right offset, I’ve given up and joined the bandwagon. They’re popular for a reason, I suppose, lightweight, perfect fit, timeless look. I decided to run 17◊9.5’s all around. Even if they’re slightly tougher to fit than the 17◊9’s, I’d rather have the extra width if I ever want to grow into bigger tires. Ordered 245/40/17 Direzza ZII’s to go with them.





    December 15, 2017


    Finally got the ARC-8’s installed. Need to lower it a little bit all the way around but cannot lower the front until the stud kit comes in and adding spacers to the front. Any lower in the front than it currently is and the tire will rub the spring perch.








    I’ve driven on these tires plenty of times before but I remember again tonight why I chose them. SUPER GRIPPYYYYYYYYYYŸ.


    January 29, 2018


    Finally had some time to lower the rear to the height I want. Took the car out of town a bit to hit the only twisty road that I know of within a reasonable distance. Need to take a trip up to Austin to drive some real roads.





    February 24, 2018





    March 2, 2018


    After taking nearly three weeks to deliver due to APEX moving warehouses, I finally received the stud kit I ordered. I ordered the 90mm kit because I will be running a 12mm spacer up front. Turns out the 90’s are way longer than I’ll need, so I’m exchanging them for the 75’s.





    March 31, 2018







    April 30, 2018





    ^ E36 owners nightmare ^


    Was doing a top speed run in Mexico the other night and when I went to roll up the window half of it dropped down into the door. *eyeroll*


    After removing the door panel for the millionth time, it seems that the two bottom brackets separated from the glass. Supposedly this is a rare problem and after researching and asking around I was told to buy all new glass as these are glued on from the factory.






    Instead of doing that I got some super epoxy, mixed it up, lathered it in there and let it sit. While I was in there I also replaced one of the end brackets as you can see the threads were stripped here:






    For further insurance so that I didn’t have this problem again and to remove the possibility of removing the door panel and damaging clips/brackets any more, I replaced and re-greased the sliders as well. These are cheap so if you have your door panel off make sure to check and replace these.






    May 6, 2018


    Finally found a full day to dedicate to wrenching on the car and installing the APEX stud kit. I’ve been looking forward to getting this done so I can add the spacers and lower the front.


    Before:





    After:





    Had new sway bar end links laying around so while I was adjusting ride height I threw these on as well.





    Here is the final height I settled on. It will likely settle a little bit lower after I put some miles on the car. This seems to be a pretty safe height so that it won’t rub under any heavy loads.






    Finally. Happy with the end result!


    May 20, 2018


    Ended up having some free time to start throwing the parts I recently bought on the car. Since this doesn’t need a tune or any other supporting mods I started with the Riot Racing throttle body. This is a factory throttle body that was sent out and bored from the factory 63.8mm to 68mm.





    These cars came with a really dumb traction control system in that the car essentially has two throttle bodies. The one pictured above, with the butterfly open, is for the tractional control system. The butterfly is open 100% of the time, however whenever the car sense any sort of traction loss it shuts this baffle, preventing any airflow. As you can see this doesn’t exactly create a smooth intake tract.





    For the time being until I install my Bimmerworld ASC delete boot with the upgraded MAF and injectors I simply removed the plate entirely. It’s very easy to do and helps clean up the intake tract for maximum airflow. That being said, I think this will throw the ASC light up on the gauge cluster when it self checks. The traction control system is junk anyways and it’s likely you never intentionally use it. I intend to just remove the bulb in the cluster at a later date.






    Like most things that are rubber on the E36, the throttle cable bushings almost completely disintegrated upon removal. If you are taking your throttle apart for any reason I would highly highly recommend replacing these bushings. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem that these rubber bushings are sold separately and instead sold as one piece with a whole new cable, so I opted for some CNC’d pieces from Garagistic. Super easy install, just thread on and lock it into place with a snap ring.





    I installed the throttle body with the old rubber bushings and the throttle response with the new TB and the ACS butterfly removed was night and day. The butt dyno also seemed to yield a couple of extra ponies as well, definitely a good upgrade for the money. Once I added the CNC’d bushing it was even more crisp. So crisp it’s hard to imagine what it was like before as I thought the response was already pretty good. Anyways, these bushing replacements were about $35 or so for both throttle and cruise control and they are a must have.






    After reinstalling everything and putting some miles on the car testing the new throttle body I noticed that the initial 1-5% of throttle seemed to stick a little bit. It was intermittent and seemed to get worse whenever I would do hard throttle open/close pulls. After a couple of hours and failed diagnoses, my friend finally noticed the problem. The new throttle plate provided by Riot Racing to fit the new 68mm bore was *slightly* too big. When the throttle would snap shut the edges of the valve would contact the housing itself, as seen in the pictures above. The way we adjusted it was to adjust the manual stop on the throttle body for the idle. We nudged it forward just barely so that it fully closes just very very very slightly higher than how it was set. We reinstalled and now it’s perfect!


    As I said before, this is one of the best modifications you can make on a NA E36. I felt more response and more power than I expected and couldn’t be happier.


    June 1, 2018





    Quick snap from someone at a car meet last weekend.

    - - - Updated - - -

    July 17th, 2018

    Anddddd that brings me up to date for the most part. I still have lots to do, just matter of finding the time and energy to do so. I have a stack of parts waiting to go in currently;


    -M50 Manifold w/ New Modified Sensor from BW and M50manifold.com kit
    -24lb injectors
    -Bimmerworld ASC Delete Boot
    -Porsche 809 MAF
    -Conforti Tune (may not use this though if anyone is interested in it)
    -Rogue Transmission Mounts
    -ECS Shifter Rebuild Kit
    -New Z3M Radiator w/ new OEM hoses, Expansion Tank & Level Sender
    -80*C Thermostat and 80/88 Fan Switch
    -FDM with SPAL 16" High Performance Puller (Hope it'll fit in the factory shroud offset)
    -New O2 Sensors
    -Other odds and ends.


    Maybe this weekend I can get started on the cooling system overhaul. The car already has the aluminum thermo housing and Stewart water pump.

    August 14th, 2018




    Nothing much new as of now. Car is about 90% done with the cooling system overhaul:





    -Z3MS54 radiator
    -Upper, lower and heater core return hoses
    -80/88C Temp Switch
    -80* thermostat
    -Expansion Tank
    -Coolant level sensor
    -Fan delete / Highest CFM 16" Spal puller


    I was concerned about fitting this fan in the factory shroud while clearing the water pump nut. Some had said that it would NOT fit without offsetting it and losing the factory shroud, some said it would. I ended up biting the bullet and I'm glad I did. Pushed all the way to the driver side it fits, snugly, within the factory shroud with plenty of room between the fan motor and the water pump nut.





    Looking at the level sensor was pretty gross. Glad I'm flushing all of this out and putting all new everything in.





    Small hiccup, I somehow got the wrong temp switch. Turns out this one is OBD1.... luckily JB at BimmerWorld is great and sent out the OBD2 asap.





    While the car was up in the air I went ahead and pulled the transmission mount out of the car and the driver side mount practically crumbled apart. Yikes.





    Wonder how long this UUC mount has been in there....





    New Rogue mounts in. Although I've read mixed reviews about the enforer caps, I decided to put them back on. A little NVH never hurt anyone.





    The car has been parked behind work while I wait for some time to work on it. Looks like I've made some new friends...





    All that's left is the wiring, I'm doing the fan wiring the traditional way, into the temp switch, but running a backup "switch" to the factory foglight button. Looking forward to getting this all wrapped up and hopefully to the track soon to start shaking the car down.

    September 24th, 2018


    I finally got to get the car back on the road after nearly two months of downtime between the cooling system and a shifter bushing rebuild from hell.


    After getting the wiring all wrapped up for the Spal fan, bleeding the system twice, and making sure the whole system was back to 100% I decided the next thing to tackle was something that has been in my parts pile since February. I had gotten the Shifter Rebuild kit assembled by ECS Tuning to try and clean up some of the play in the shifter, specifically when it was in gear.


    In order to access the shifter assembly the exhaust needs to be dropped and the transmission/driveshaft lowered to give you some space to work. Well, this was the first hiccup in a series of “I hate this car” hiccups. As usual for a 90’s car that has lived through some harsh winters, almost ALL of the bolts from the headers to the midpipe snapped off. Okay, that was to be expected. What WASN’T expected was to find that someone had done some AWFUL welding on the header previously, effectively making it impossible to hammer the old studs out. See below.





    Gross. It got worse as it was flipped over and saw what the inside of the flange looked like.





    Crrrrriiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnge. At first I thought “Eh, I’ll just find another OEM one” because quality aftermarket replacements are too much money for what they’re worth, in my opinion. I put up a couple of threads on local groups and Bf.C thinking I’d have one by the end of the day. WRONG. Turns out the OEM S52 manifolds are what SPEC E46 guys run so they’re apparently in high demand. Luckily for me, my co-worker who made my battery tie down broke this apart, cleaned up the slag and re-welded it cleanly and perfect.





    Another unplanned $100 or so and a couple days of waiting I ended up with BW’s kit with all new exhaust studs, bolts and gaskets.


    Okay, manifolds are back on with new o2 sensors, replacing the bushings and pins, we encounter the next headache. All of the replacements went in fine except one, the rear carrier bushing was circular and the kit form ECS had oval ones. After a bunch of researching I finally figured out what short shift kit the car had in it when I bought it, an old Auto Solutions kit. Turns out these kits are so old, presumably, that they used the round bushings used in the E30 and before, as almost all E36’s used the oval shaped bushings. So another $25 and couple days of waiting, I got the derlin oval bushings for the E30 from Garagistic.


    Last piece of the puzzle, they went in fine and the car is finally back on the road. The kit really cleaned up the notchy-ness of the shifter, I’d definitely recommend the kit to anyone who has slop in theirs. The only thing that was a bit different was that the shifter feels “pushed back” towards the rear a bit more. Before my shift boot would get taught going up into 5th, but now it’s loose there and taught going down into 4th. It feels like 3rd gear is just a bit higher of where neutral used to be. Oh well, just have to reacclimatize to it’s position.





    Next object to tackle is to track down some up/down/side play in the steering wheel, likely the main bearings in the upper column, and to replace the tie rods, front lower control arm bushings and the steering guibo. For now, just enjoying having it back on the road and one step closer to being track ready!




    - - - Updated - - -

    November 6, 2018

    Nothing exciting as of lately...


    After driving the car around for a full year without any sort of radio/audio, I ended up purchasing a new Pioneer head unit. I picked the DEH-S6010BS over the standard CD43 for two main reasons; 1. The backlighting color can be chosen from some 20,000 colors so I knew I could match the OEM lighting pretty good 2. Bluetooth streaming/Spotify control.





    Now obviously it’s not period correct by any means, but if I can dull down some of the trim and paint the volume knob black, it will be tolerable. So I started with sanding the gloss black surround trim with 2000 grit, here’s what it looked like to start with;





    After a couple of passes:





    Not bad. After wiring everything up and installing the head unit, everything worked but no audio. Quick Google search yielded that you have to wire the blue wire to blue wire, which is labeled “Steering Wheel Controls” which I figured I didn’t need. After those were connected, all was well.





    Close enough for me, until I paint that volume knob. Now I need to replace all the speakers, the 22 year old Harmon Kardon stuff is JUNK.





    Still chasing down the P0121 that has plagued me ever since installing the Riot Racing 68mm throttle body. I’ve adjusted the manual idle screw probably a half a dozen times now, trying to get it as close to closed as possible without inviting the throttle plate to stick on hard-close or high heat situations. I’ve got it just about perfect now, where it sticks only in the slightest bit, but the P0121 keeps popping up after 20-30 minutes. I think my next step is to order a new TPS and hand it over to my local Indie who has the proper scan tools to get it sorted correctly.


    The IACV got a good cleaning while I was in there, but made no difference.





    Also, looks like I’ve started to develop a small oil leak around the front valve cover gasket/Vanos assembly. *sighs*





    Spent a little time the other day working on another project for the car; sanding down and prepping my spare door cards for new material. My last attempt at this did not go so well, but this time I’m prepping them properly and will be installing the new material with a heat gun and more patience.


    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
    AFE Intake, Riot Racing Throttle Body, BW Intake Elbow, M50 Manifold, 809 MAF, 24# Injectors, Conforti Tune, Borla Cat-back, FDM, Z3M Rad
    ARC8/Direzza ZII, BC BR Coils, X-Brace, Hawk HP+ Pads/Slotted Rotors, SSK, etc


  2. #2
    Join Date
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    are slow.
    Wow, some serious work. Keep it up!
    "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
    -Dr. Seuss
    DIY BMW Tools. Charlie For President

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    I really enjoyed reading through this thread, car is looking really good!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    Nice post and nice work! Agree that the forums are way better than other SM platforms for enthusiast sites. Way easier to document, discuss, etc. Nothing to do but keep posting. Thing about the e36m, between this and m3f, pretty much everything tech has been covered - which is good and bad I guess. Keep up the good work.

    Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk

  5. #5
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    Lots of great work. I pick up my 1999 m3 from Utah on January 7th. Hope to imitate you, Brett, Texaz3, etc. and do some high quality restoration! Keep updating!

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    98 M3/4/5, '10 Escalade,
    This was a great read. Great to see you rescue one that was on the cusp of disintegrating.

    This is the same approach I've taken with my car - driving it a lot, fixing what breaks and upgrading while I'm at it. (I couldn't tell if yours is your DD, but I'd hope so).

    Curious about how your install of the MAF / injectors / chip went and how the car felt after? (Lol - Not pointing fingers but you kinda glossed over that part!)

    That's the next thing on my list too.
    Last edited by blckstrm; 12-23-2018 at 12:53 PM.

    -Josh
    1998 M3/4/5 with most of the easy stuff and most of the hard stuff. 235k and waiting for parts today.

  7. #7
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    97 Estoril M3/4/5
    God bless you for keeping this Estoril M3 alive.

  8. #8
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    great save and story
    Where are you hurting?

  9. #9
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    Thank you all for the kind words.

    I'll be honest, there have been days when it's 100* in the garage, my knuckles are bleeding, can't find the 10mm I JUST HAD and I genuinely consider selling it to fund an E92 M3. After I cool off I remind myself of the genuine character and driving experience the E36 has, something you can't quite get with the newer cars. Not to say E46/E92/F82's are bad by ANY means, I just have an unwavering passion for sports cars from the 90's/early 00's.


    Quote Originally Posted by crqflier View Post
    Thing about the e36m, between this and m3f, pretty much everything tech has been covered - which is good and bad I guess. Keep up the good work.
    Agreed, it's nice to be able to search and find something I can't figure out or haven't done before, just sucks that Photobucket ripped everyone when they disabled 3rd party hosting.

    Quote Originally Posted by BugsWest View Post
    Lots of great work. I pick up my 1999 m3 from Utah on January 7th. Hope to imitate you, Brett, Texaz3, etc. and do some high quality restoration! Keep updating!
    Best of luck to you. The drive from Utah to Denver should be a blast.
    Quote Originally Posted by blckstrm View Post
    (I couldn't tell if yours is your DD, but I'd hope so).
    Curious about how your install of the MAF / injectors / chip went and how the car felt after? (Lol - Not pointing fingers but you kinda glossed over that part!)
    Not daily duty for me, unfortunately. Aside from the highways, most of the roads around town in Houston are genuinely awful. I feel like I'm beating the car to death when I drive it around town.

    As for the MAF/injectors/chip, I have yet to install them. I've had the looming suspicious that my head gasket has a small leak, which I'm 95% sure at this point. I'll have to address that first before I do anything else to the car. My main goal, as of now, is to get that squared away and start shaking it down on the track.

    On a separate note, got some goodies in the other day;


    -IACV hose

    -OEM Steering guibo

    -New Lemforder tie rods

    -Brake pedal circuit switch

    -All new bearings/clips for the upper steering column




    The steering in my car feels pretty connected and not a ton of slop, but in my never ending pursuit to keep this car freshened up and lively, I figured I'd replace this.





    I went back and forth A LOT between this and the solid E34 coupler. I've heard a lot of great reviews from people using the E34 piece but after much consideration I decided another full solid bushing may not be best for the road conditions here.


    The factory rubber bushing I removed had some visible twist to it but was still pretty solid. Someone had replaced it before because there were alignment markings on the splines, so no clue how old this one is.




    Old ones out, new ones in! Onto the alignment rack for a quick setting check. While it was on the lift I put new transmission fluid in and checked out the condition of the brakes, as I run a pretty aggressive track pad year round. They sure have taken a toll on these rotors! Life on these is getting pretty low, so that'll be added to the upcoming list.





    Weather in Houston has been great this Autumn/Winter. I'm thankful I can wear gym shorts in December and eat my lunch outside. Best view in the house!






    Here's a random E30 I saw at a show the other day. EhhhhhHhhHhhhHhhhhhhhhh....


    Last edited by DrftKingIII; 12-24-2018 at 08:23 PM.

    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
    AFE Intake, Riot Racing Throttle Body, BW Intake Elbow, M50 Manifold, 809 MAF, 24# Injectors, Conforti Tune, Borla Cat-back, FDM, Z3M Rad
    ARC8/Direzza ZII, BC BR Coils, X-Brace, Hawk HP+ Pads/Slotted Rotors, SSK, etc


  10. #10
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    Ha - I swapped in a ZHP rack and E34 coupler last year. We seem to be on about the same track!

    Let me know if you come over to Austin for Radwood in February - it would be cool to meet up and compare notes.

  11. #11
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    88 M3's, 90 325i, 95 M3
    That E30 was built by Jordan, was well documented here. The ass end is horrendous. Enjoyed ready through this this morning. Very quiet day in my household.

  12. #12
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    Nice read and car is looking great! Good save!
    TRM Coilovers 670F/895R | BBS LM | Corsa RSC36

  13. #13
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    trbo 96 328;98 m3
    Very nice build. I applaud you for taking the time to save this car. Mad props.


    96 328 Turbo
    98 M3/4/5

  14. #14
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    Great thread, reminds me of my experiences with my first E36m3.

  15. #15
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    No BMW's again
    Great story! Car looks amazing!

  16. #16
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    Estoril M3 Coupe
    Very cool thread. It's interesting that you had seen this car all those years ago, and now you are working on it. Good job bringing her back!

  17. #17
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    Thanks everyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by blckstrm View Post
    Ha - I swapped in a ZHP rack and E34 coupler last year. We seem to be on about the same track!

    Let me know if you come over to Austin for Radwood in February - it would be cool to meet up and compare notes.
    I've been thinking about the ZHP rack, how is that and the E34 coupler treating you? I'm considering coming up to Radwood, we will see how the cards pan out.
    I was actually up in Austin two weekends ago for only an hour and dropped by Lime Creek Road, man what a road. I was unfortunately in my boat of an Infiniti, but still had a great time enjoying the turns and hills, something you get none of here in Houston.

    Sunny and 65 in December, I’ll take it.


    I had mentioned the old steering guibo in the last post, about how it was “firm but twisted” Here you can see how twisted it really was. Surprisingly, after installing this it took a lot of the play in my steering column out, so no need for the new bearings/clips as of now, maybe when I swap to a new steering wheel.



    Adjusted the manual idle screw on the throttle body one last time, still getting TPS codes. Changed the IACV hose while it was apart.



    Also did the brake pedal travel sensor as I kept getting intermittent “Brake Light Circuit Failure” codes on the OBC, yet all the lights still functioned. As mentioned in the comments on many of the write ups by guys who did this, it helps tremendously to have the car running as the brakes are aided and you can push the pedal down much further with less effort. Still a pain in the ass, nonetheless.



    Noticed some cracks on the bolts that hold the trunk latch in place, NICE!



    We’ll just cover those up with this piece….



    Five minutes later….



    Took the car to another outside dinner and bumped into a friend there with a beautiful F82.



    Think I’ll be ordering the head gasket parts soon, I’ve put it off long enough now. Does anyone still rent the cam/flywheel lockout tools?

    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
    AFE Intake, Riot Racing Throttle Body, BW Intake Elbow, M50 Manifold, 809 MAF, 24# Injectors, Conforti Tune, Borla Cat-back, FDM, Z3M Rad
    ARC8/Direzza ZII, BC BR Coils, X-Brace, Hawk HP+ Pads/Slotted Rotors, SSK, etc


  18. #18
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrftKingIII View Post
    Thanks everyone.

    I've been thinking about the ZHP rack, how is that and the E34 coupler treating you? I'm considering coming up to Radwood, we will see how the cards pan out.
    I was actually up in Austin two weekends ago for only an hour and dropped by Lime Creek Road, man what a road. I was unfortunately in my boat of an Infiniti, but still had a great time enjoying the turns and hills, something you get none of here in Houston.

    Noticed some cracks on the bolts that hold the trunk latch in place, NICE!



    We’ll just cover those up with this piece….



    Five minutes later….



    Think I’ll be ordering the head gasket parts soon, I’ve put it off long enough now. Does anyone still rent the cam/flywheel lockout tools?
    I think I mentioned my original steering guibo was like neoprene (I still have it - it makes me laugh every time I squeeze it), so it's hard to compare to a good one, but I don't feel any undue NVH from it. Similarly, it was so bad it's hard to say how good the ZHP rack is comparatively. But I had an input shaft leak that was getting serious, and the ZHP rack wasn't any more money from a junk yard than anything else, so it made sense.

    Having said that, I love how my car is set up right now, and I think the steering plays a significant role in that. I live a little north of Lime Creek and take the long way to work every week or two when I have a slow morning. Makes me never want to move!

    I'd love to see you at Radwood - I have very little experience driving any other street cars. Most of my friends have fully track prepped cars, so I don't have a very good sense for how a street car should handle, feel, sound, etc. Just makes me feel like my car is slow and heavy. Let me know when you come back - I'd be happy to let you drive mine to get a point of comparison even if you can't bring yours.

    And thanks for posting that trunk reinforcement plate - mine is cracked worse than yours, and it's been starting to worry me lately. It looks like a perfect solution. That right there is why we do this!

    -Josh
    1998 M3/4/5 with most of the easy stuff and most of the hard stuff. 235k and waiting for parts today.

  19. #19
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    Keep updates coming! I also recently replaced the ICV hose on my hellrot that I acquired last year. The car still needs some work to make it perfect but this is motivation!


    96 328 Turbo
    98 M3/4/5

  20. #20
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    are slow.
    I've never had an E36 with cracks in that area. What causes that kind of stress in that particular spot?
    "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
    -Dr. Seuss
    DIY BMW Tools. Charlie For President

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hova View Post
    I've never had an E36 with cracks in that area. What causes that kind of stress in that particular spot?
    Not to brag, but I've been rear ended twice and twice had to punt on having the trunk fixed to keep the car from being totalled. Don't get me started on insurance companies.

    I did have some slight cracking there prior. Was there when I bought it at 120k. I think it's a slightly off closure that makes it happen over time. You don't notice it's off until the cracks appear, and at that point it's too late.

    In my case, it's been exacerbated over the years by idiots rear ending me.

    ...

    Anyway, I do have happier things to think about these days. Like my lazy-day commute...

    https://*******/maps/WkrWAUnVY1Q2

    -Josh
    1998 M3/4/5 with most of the easy stuff and most of the hard stuff. 235k and waiting for parts today.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hova View Post
    I've never had an E36 with cracks in that area. What causes that kind of stress in that particular spot?
    I think it's just another quirk of E36's over time, but exacerbated by the fact that I have a wing on the trunk which adds to the weight every time it's slammed shut.

    For those who are looking for one, they are listed here. Cheap insurance, for sure. Thanks Braymond!
    https://www.msportparts.com/products...-reinforcement

    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
    AFE Intake, Riot Racing Throttle Body, BW Intake Elbow, M50 Manifold, 809 MAF, 24# Injectors, Conforti Tune, Borla Cat-back, FDM, Z3M Rad
    ARC8/Direzza ZII, BC BR Coils, X-Brace, Hawk HP+ Pads/Slotted Rotors, SSK, etc


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