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Thread: My 1999 M3 Progress Thread

  1. #1
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    My 1999 M3 Progress Thread

    Hi everyone,

    I am the happy new owner of a 1999 BMW M3. Largely due to stay at home orders in my state that occurred mid transaction (and Pennsylvania where the dealer was located, and the states in between) I bought this sight unseen off eBay shipped to my home. Yeah, I know....luckily the seller was communicative, lots of underbody photos were provided, and I got it for a price that would give me a lot of leeway for deferred maintenance.

    I think I scored. Turns out it is a 1 owner car (CarFax said 2), relatively lowish miles at 75,000, and the body is straight with all original VIN tags showing. Unmodified save for a head unit and Bilstein shocks, and no rust! I failed at taking pictures after taking delivery, but here are a couple from the for sale ad. It's a stock M3, you know what it looks like.





    It's been about 10 years since I had last driven an E36 M3 and the one I drove was a mess of deferred maintenance. I'm coming most recently from a Z4M Roadster and wanted something with a hard roof that I could use to carry my mountain bike and Oru Kayak around. Initial impressions:

    1) This engine is a peach! Sewing machine smooth, nice mid range torque. If the S52 is this good I can't imagine what the Euro engine feels like
    2) Wow it is aggressively geared
    3) Car rides a little stiff. Is it lowered? I spied Bilstein shocks
    4) I see why everyone loves the Vader seats. These are some of the most comfortable seats in any car I've had
    5) The shifter bushings must be shot, because I cannot find 3rd gear worth a damn
    6) Seating position feels high. And the steering wheel doesn't adjust. Oh well.

    After filling up for the first time, I noticed a smelly smell that smells...smelly. Gasoline. Searching here seems to point to the gasket and plastic caps around the fuel pump and sending unit. Let the teardown begin.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    I'm still unsure what direction to take the car in terms of modifications- generally I stick to OEM+. I think the UK only Evo/GT2 Individual is something I'd like to replicate. As much as I would love to make it into a Lightweight replica, this isn't a good car to do it with (power seats, Harmon Kardon audio, sunroof, etc) and removing the AC and sound system is too anti social at this point in my life. I prefer to do things once and do it right, so if I take out a worn or broken piece during a job it'll get replaced with something better.

    Also I am far from a master technician- I'm just a DIYer who can follow basic instructions. The amount of How-To articles for this platform make it very accessible. That said if it looks like I'm doing something stupid or missing something I probably am so please let me know.






    The cooling system, brakes, and suspension pieces will need to be checked and addressed but the fuel smell is the immediate concern, so I'm starting with the interior. I started with removing the seats to gain access to the upper fuel tank and immediately got carried away.



    The seats are in remarkably good shape for the mileage. The leather is a little dry, but will soften up with some nice conditioner.



    The rear deck shelf is toast, so a new one is on the way. It seems the rear spoiler was dealer installed as I have 4 rear brake lights so I'll be deleting the interior mounted one with part # 51468183639. Naturally broke the C Pillar clips along the way so replacements have been ordered.



    If your trim is faded I highly recommend Ammo Mud. I've used it on many cars before with great success. Obviously works well as tire shine too.



    Scored some brand new OEM rear mudflaps off eBay from a seller in Greece!



    So far I've ordered quite a few new interior trim pieces and an LED interior light conversion kit in addition to the fuel pump/sending unit covers/gaskets. Thinking of replacing the speakers at this point as well with BavSound and addressing the offensive early 00s Sony headunit currently installed.
    Last edited by sirhodjibob; 04-10-2020 at 06:24 PM.

  3. #3
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    Awesome find!
    "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
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  4. #4
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    Looks very nice. Had a couple e36s back in the day and thinking of picking up a M3 sometime. Glad to see it doesn't disappoint even after all these years.

  5. #5
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    I was pleasantly surprised. I actually wasn't intending to buy an M3 (or an old car) at all, but seeing the ones EAG sells rekindled the idea. If you enjoy communicative cars you just can't beat the driving feel of this era of BMWs. I was originally looking at slightly used Alfa Romeo Giulia TIs, but this was much less expensive and gives me ample financial room to dial in the car the way I want while making it turn key reliable.

    At this point I'm just waiting for parts to come in to finish the interior. I'm holding off redoing the stereo since I still don't know how much work the suspension and drivetrain need, but I had to remove the awful discotheque headunit. The rest of the sound system was stock, has now been removed and an OEM delete plate ordered.

    Door handles, hinges, and locks were all greased with lithium grease. All interior panels cleaned and conditioned with Ammo Lather/Mousse.

    I should probably keep a running list of things on order for my own sake:

    51-46-8-174-9772 & 51-46-8-174-978 Rear Speaker Grill Covers (the foam in the originals literally disintegrated)
    51-46-8-183-702 Rear deck shelf without center mounted 3rd brake light. Also having a local glass shop replace the rear window to install one with correct dot matrix
    51-46-8-130-863 This is the plastic piece behind the rear seats. Mine was cracked
    51-43-2-252-183 & 51-43-2-252-184 New C Pillars since I'm an idiot and broke the clips
    16-11-1-179-637 & 16-11-1-181-142 New lids and gaskets for the fuel pump and sending unit. Ordered new clamps for the fuel lines as well back there. Hopefully this fixes the fuel smell.
    51-47-2-268-574 - BMW Motorsport doorsill plates (got to have some bling) and 51-47-1-840-960 new clips for them
    51-14-2-250-811 - Rear M badge, since mine is turning pink
    64-11-9-069-895 - new cabin filter!
    Also ordered new trunk struts and trunk reinforcement bracket from MSportParts. Will be needed once surprise goodies arrive from der Fatherland.

    Next up is exterior assessment. It doesn't need much. Paint looks really nice. I'm guessing the front bumper/hood were repainted at some point as there are almost 0 rock chips.

    This is what's on this list so far:
    -Exterior moldings (may hold off since they rejuvenated nicely)
    -Windshield cowl
    -Exterior rubber seals. These are toast. Interior ones are still in nice shape.
    -Euro headlights & tailights
    -Black kidney grilles (you people who like the chrome ones are smoking something)
    -Clear sidemarkers (corners will stay amber)
    -Front lip. Probably just doing the OE side extensions (like the Individual Evo IIs). I don't think I need the full LTW setup.
    -New hood pad
    -Window tint
    -Paintless dent removal. Only has 2 or 3 really small dings
    -Paint correction and coating. Probably can get by 1 stepping it since the selling dealer already hit it with compound. Only question is what to coat it with- Hopefully Ammo NYC releases the new version of Reflex soon, otherwise my go to is GTechniq CSL topped with Exo V4.
    -Wheels and tires. Dealer put on new tires, but they are junk off brand all seasons. I actually like the DSII wheels. Still undecided for now.
    -Lastly I really want to find an OEM roof rack so I can haul my bike around. The best trails usually also have the best driving roads around them.

    No real progress pics to share, but did find all the original books and Monroney:

    Last edited by sirhodjibob; 04-12-2020 at 05:06 PM.

  6. #6
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    More parts ordered:
    -Nappa leather shift boot & ebrake boot from Redline goods
    -ZHP knob
    -ECS tuning shifter bushing kit and clutch pedal kit
    -AKG Motorsports DSSR

  7. #7
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    Nice looking car to start with.

    You're not going to restore any originality back to that leather. Once shrunken as badly as those rear seats are, they will always be that way. I know Crapique and other brands make outrageous claims of restoration. They are simply not true. I would start looking into new skins.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Braymond141 View Post
    Nice looking car to start with.

    You're not going to restore any originality back to that leather. Once shrunken as badly as those rear seats are, they will always be that way. I know Crapique and other brands make outrageous claims of restoration. They are simply not true. I would start looking into new skins.
    True. Leather is all about preservation. If you maintain it properly it should last a very long time, but once it cracks, that's it.

    The softness returned to the fronts which is good. Long term I'd like to do something with Recaros and the OE hurricane pattern (there's a great upholstery shop somewhat local that specializes in old BMWs) but it's not a priority for now.

  9. #9
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    Took advantage of the half off sale at ECS for the Ziza LED interior lighting kit. Can't recommend this enough. Inexpensive, reduces current draw on the electrical system, and vastly improves light output. Be careful when removing the lights though, I broke the one clip on the passenger footwell light. Also..if there are any scratches on your lenses and you didn't notice before, you will notice after. Footwell lights are cheap, dome light housing is expensive.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by sirhodjibob View Post
    True. Leather is all about preservation. If you maintain it properly it should last a very long time, but once it cracks, that's it.

    The softness returned to the fronts which is good. Long term I'd like to do something with Recaros and the OE hurricane pattern (there's a great upholstery shop somewhat local that specializes in old BMWs) but it's not a priority for now.
    Yep, I'm in the same boat with my sedan. Front seats are stiff as boards and starting to crack from the car living in Texas close to 20 years. Rears are slightly more supple, but on their way out. Wanted to do new skins from LSeat this year, but the whole COVID debacle is going to delay that.

  11. #11
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    Yeah mine is the opposite- front half of the interior is in good shape. I'm guessing the previous owner parked the car in such a way the sun came in through the rear. Or maybe that's just how e36 interiors wear.

    FCP Euro was running a clearance sales on the LTW X Brace so I jumped on that.

    Sanity check is needed though. Today I ceramic coated the spare tire well in the trunk.



    These arrived today as well:


  12. #12
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    Looks like a great car. Will definitely be following this thread.

    A few thoughts:

    (1) Your production # is just 30 after mine (EY83571), but interestingly, your car is 3 days older (April 16 vs. April 19).

    (2) On headlights, I definitely recommend a projector retrofit into Euro ellipsoids. I did my own into a set of ZKWs back in the day (it was quite a hassle), but a few years ago I splurged for a Lightwerkz retrofit into a set of Bosch headlights, and couldn't be happier. It was pricey but worth it for me. Have never had any check control errors, never had any issues whatsoever.

    1999 Estoril/Dove M3

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by themadrussian View Post
    Looks like a great car. Will definitely be following this thread.

    A few thoughts:

    (1) Your production # is just 30 after mine (EY83571), but interestingly, your car is 3 days older (April 16 vs. April 19).

    (2) On headlights, I definitely recommend a projector retrofit into Euro ellipsoids. I did my own into a set of ZKWs back in the day (it was quite a hassle), but a few years ago I splurged for a Lightwerkz retrofit into a set of Bosch headlights, and couldn't be happier. It was pricey but worth it for me. Have never had any check control errors, never had any issues whatsoever.
    Nice. I'll bite, where did you find the production date? That's cool to know! That would certainly make it one of the last ones off the line I would think?

    I appreciate the feedback on the headlights. I've been looking at Euro headlights from the later E36 model years with the H7 non projector bulbs. I came across a thread and an EU-based member posted that the OEM H7s were superior based on his personal experience over retrofitted projectors. So, I really don't know. I might try the H7s, and if they don't pan out, the Ellipsoids are easy to source. Schmeidmann has the OE H7 Bosch units for a pretty reasonable price, not sure if there's any advantage to the OEM H7 ZKWs that ECS sells.

  14. #14
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    So here's where things stand as of right now since the last post

    -Replaced cabin filter. Wow what a pain. For something you need to change frequently you think they would have made it easier to get to? My car seemed to have an extra bar of dash support and an extra clip for the air ducting than the how to videos showed so that did not help.
    -Removed door panels and lubricated window regulator guides. It appears the plastic guides were replaced so I left those alone, and previous owner reinforced the door pockets. I did manage to break the upper plastic trim, so found a nice used replacement from BimmerInteriors on here.
    -Installed OEM M3 floormats
    -Installed new front seat belt cover caps (72-11-8-119-186) as these were MIA
    -Installed new rear seat belt cover caps (721-1817-9976). If anyone has any tips on how to get these to sit flush let me know. I'm struggling with this one.
    -New OEM rear windshield and seal installed (shout out to Champion Auto Glass if you're local, they did my Z4M windshield as well. Technician used to own an E36 M3!). Got rid of that horrible dot matrix for the non functioning 3rd brake light. This is going to sound weird, but there's nothing quite like fresh defroster lines.
    -With new glass in I can get the windows tinted. Scheduled for mid May, ceramic Suntek 35% all around, with clear film in the front windshield for UV protection
    -New rear shelf installed with new clips (52-20-1-964-201) to complete duplicate 3rd brake light delete. So this was an interesting discovery- it does not come cut with provisions for the rear speakers or headrests. So it looks like my sound system delete is going to be semi permanent as I am not about to hack this up. Weight reduction...? Picture below:



    Lots of little things but close to finishing up the interior (for now).

    Arrived, just need to be installed:
    -Redline nappa leather shift & E-brake boots with M Stitching for extra scene points and 18 horsepowers

    On order:
    51-43-8-151-405 Driver's side B pillar trim (noticed a crack in the original with an attempted epoxy repair by previous owner)
    61-13-8-360-844 Headlight switch bulb
    62-11-1-391-260 Backlights for the climate control unit and onboard computer. Ordered Sylvania OE equivalents (and 1 extra one as LED to test out, plus LED glove box light)
    51-18-1-823-474 Screw cover cap for the interior hood release (MIA and yeah we're really getting arcane now)
    51-16-1-949-793 Screw cover cap for the lower driver's side dash panel (the one below the steering column)
    51-16-8-413-622 "European" center console/cupholder thingy from ECS. I think it's just the pre 96 one. But mine was cracked, and this one looks better I think.

    Lots more stuff ordered, will update in another post.

  15. #15
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    Wow, mudflaps! I'm no longer the only one with mudflaps!

    And just FYI, used ZKWs USED to be easy to get. I've had a set sitting in customs for 4 weeks. They've been in transit 44 days today. #firstworldproblems for sure, but that was supposed to be my big coronaproject to keep me entertained...

    Anyway, welcome to the club!

    -Josh
    1998 M3/4/5 with most of the easy stuff and most of the hard stuff. 248k and getting better every day.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by sirhodjibob View Post
    Nice. I'll bite, where did you find the production date? That's cool to know! That would certainly make it one of the last ones off the line I would think?

    I appreciate the feedback on the headlights. I've been looking at Euro headlights from the later E36 model years with the H7 non projector bulbs. I came across a thread and an EU-based member posted that the OEM H7s were superior based on his personal experience over retrofitted projectors. So, I really don't know. I might try the H7s, and if they don't pan out, the Ellipsoids are easy to source. Schmeidmann has the OE H7 Bosch units for a pretty reasonable price, not sure if there's any advantage to the OEM H7 ZKWs that ECS sells.
    I have never had the H7 lights myself, but I have generally heard good things about them, for halogens, as compared to the halogen ellipsoids. They are absolutely nowhere near a shadow of a proper retrofit in terms of light output. I am not sure whether the post you are referencing was comparing OE H7 Bosch lights with good halogen bulbs to OE H1 Bosch (or ZKW) ellipsoids with HIDs retrofitted into them (i.e., HID H1 bulbs), but when I said retrofit, I was talking about a projector retrofit (i.e., removing the ellipsoid projector in the Bosch lights and replacing it with a modern HID projector, such as a Morimoto FX-R projector).

    I do not recommend installing HID bulbs into a halogen projector (and DEFINITELY not into an H7 housing - I don't know if they even make H7 HIDs). That was all the rage 15 years ago (and some people still do it), but you end up with too much light in places it shouldn't be. I did a TSX projector retrofit into a set of ZKW lights back in 2008 or so, and the light was incredible, but because I am not much of a fabricator, it looked a little janky from the outside and the projectors weren't perfectly mounted which required hours of fine-tuning to get the cutoffs right, etc.. I splurged for Lightwerkz to do the FX-R retrofit into some Bosch lights and the work is stellar.

    But I'm sure these days you could probably find more DIYs and guides on how to do it than when I did my TSX/ZKW retrofit (bi-xenons were out of the question for my skills and clean projectors were very difficult to find, too).

    On your VIN question, you can run a VIN decode and it gives you the production date as well as the various original options the car was sold with. It comes from a BMW database, not sure exactly which one, but there is a guy who actually had pulled all of the data and created a bunch of spreadsheets showing interesting things like the # of cars with each color combination and options package, etc.

    Your VIN decode is as follows:

    vin WBSBG9335XEY83601
    typeCode BG93
    type M3 (USA)
    series E36 (2)
    serie 3
    bodyType COUPE
    steering LL
    doors 2
    engine S52
    displacement 3.20
    power 179
    drive HECK
    transmission MECH
    color COSMOSSCHWARZ METALLIC (303)
    upholstery TEILLEDER W.N./SCHWARZ (N5SW)
    prodDate 1999-04-16


    S243A AIRBAG FUER BEIFAHRER Airbag for front passenger
    S260A SEITENAIRBAG FUER FAHRER/BEIFAHRER Side airbag for driver/passenger
    S401A SCHIEBE-HEBEDACH, ELEKTRISCH Lift-up-and-slide-back sunroof, electric
    S458A SITZVERSTELLUNG ELEKTR.FAHRER/BEIF. Electr. front seat adjustment
    S473A ARMAUFLAGE VORN Armrest front
    S498A KOPFSTUETZEN IM FOND Headrests mechanically adjustable, rear
    S534A KLIMAAUTOMATIK Automatic air conditioning
    S540A GESCHWINDIGKEITSREGELUNG Cruise control
    S554A BORDCOMPUTER On-board computer V with remote control
    S674A HIFI-SYSTEM HARMAN/KARDON Hi-Fi system Harman Kardon
    S686A ANTENNENDIVERSITY Antenna-Diversity
    S692A CD WECHSLER I-BUS VORBEREITUNG Preparation, BMW 6-CD changer I-bus
    S818A BATTERIEHAUPTSCHALTER Battery master switch
    S925A VERSANDSCHUTZPAKET Dummy-SALAPA
    S209A SPERRDIFFERENTIAL 25% Differential lock 25%
    S214A AUT.STABIL.-CONTROL+TRAKTION(ASC+T) Automatic stability control (ASC+T)
    S314A FRONTSCHEIBENWASCHDUESEN BEHEIZT Door mirror, driver lock, heated
    S354A GRUENKEIL-FRONTSCHEIBE Windscreen, green-tinted upper strip
    S410A FENSTERHEBER, ELEKTRISCH VORN Window lifts, electric, front
    S441A RAUCHERPAKET Smoker package
    S465A DURCHLADESYSTEM Through-loading system
    S520A NEBELSCHEINWERFER Fog lights
    S542A CHECK CONTROL Check Control
    S687A RADIOVORBEREITUNG Radio preparation
    S710A M LEDERLENKRAD M Sports steering wheel, multifunction
    S785A WEISSE BLINKLEUCHTEN White direction indicator lights
    S850A ZUSAETZL. TANKFUELLUNG EXPORT Dummy-SALAPA
    S853A SPRACHVERSION ENGLISCH Language version, English
    S992A STEUERUNG KENNZEICHENBEFESTIGUNG Control of number-plate attachment

    1999 Estoril/Dove M3

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by blckstrm View Post
    Wow, mudflaps! I'm no longer the only one with mudflaps!

    And just FYI, used ZKWs USED to be easy to get. I've had a set sitting in customs for 4 weeks. They've been in transit 44 days today. #firstworldproblems for sure, but that was supposed to be my big coronaproject to keep me entertained...

    Anyway, welcome to the club!
    Mudflap club! I actually have a front set coming from Poland too from a member here...hopefully it doesn't get held up. So far I've ordered a few things internationally and haven't had any issues yet, knock wood.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sirhodjibob View Post
    -With new glass in I can get the windows tinted. Scheduled for mid May, ceramic Suntek 35% all around, with clear film in the front windshield for UV protection
    What does the full tint job run?
    02.92.325is | 00.72.2002

  19. #19
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    Great stuff in this thread, thanks for keeping up with it! You've inspired me to look into adding a wing to my 99 M3.

  20. #20
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    This is a very nice e36! I much appreciated your initial impressions list on the first post. The short gearing comment and impossible to find third resonated with me well.
    I've been sorting mine out over the 18 months I've had it. Only thing I have not done is fix the darn fifth gear lean and gain nice feel back to my shifter. It's just such a project to tackle for something that doesn't effect the performance.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by xxxxxxx View Post
    What does the full tint job run?
    I was quoted $210 for the side and rear windows, and an additional $160 to apply clear film to the front

    Quote Originally Posted by Chebyshev View Post
    Great stuff in this thread, thanks for keeping up with it! You've inspired me to look into adding a wing to my 99 M3.
    That's awesome, thank you! My stock wing will be for sale soon if you're interested (provided the replacement from Germany arrives in once piece).

    Quote Originally Posted by pizzaman09 View Post
    This is a very nice e36! I much appreciated your initial impressions list on the first post. The short gearing comment and impossible to find third resonated with me well.
    I've been sorting mine out over the 18 months I've had it. Only thing I have not done is fix the darn fifth gear lean and gain nice feel back to my shifter. It's just such a project to tackle for something that doesn't effect the performance.
    It is a pain. And if you're dropping the trans, well you probably should replace the clutch while you're in there. And the flywheel. And throwout bearing. And mounts. Etc., etc. It adds up fast! I'm not looking forward to it.

    - - - Updated - - -


    @themadrussian Just wanted to say thank you for your helpful post. Your comment about inserting a modern HID projector makes sense.

  22. #22
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    Making progress on the exterior now. I'm starting off replacing all weather stripping/trim around the side windows. The rear seal was done when the rear glass was replaced last week and the front windshield is not original and looks to be replaced recently with new seals so that's good to go too.

    Parts being replaced:
    51211977675 & 51211977676 - front window molding
    51368151085 & 51368151086 - this is plastic piece that runs perpendicular on the rear vent windows
    51368119963 & 51368119964 - molding that runs parallel
    51368119961 & 51368119962 - sits between the molding and roof ledge trim on the rear edge of vent windows

    And fingers crossed:
    51131977681 & 51131977682 - Roof ledge trim. This is NLA in the US, but Schmeidmann in Denmark has 3 left in stock. These are easily damaged during shipping but I didn't really have a choice. This should be here next week.





    I know some How-To's say you don't have to remove the rear windows, but it isn't difficult to do and makes access & cleaning so much easier. I decided not to replace the interior seal as it's still in good shape. With good access I treated it well with gummi pfledge.


  23. #23
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    Great!

    Im currently doing the exact same thing to my M3. Thanks for the inspiration and super clean car.

  24. #24
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    Looking good, for what it's worth I cannot recommend the Bavauto replacement package. I highly recommend you remove the HK speakers and take them to a speaker repair shop.


  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by truekid View Post
    Great!

    Im currently doing the exact same thing to my M3. Thanks for the inspiration and super clean car.
    Thank you very much! Good luck with your project.

    Quote Originally Posted by MreedBMWM3 View Post
    Looking good, for what it's worth I cannot recommend the Bavauto replacement package. I highly recommend you remove the HK speakers and take them to a speaker repair shop.
    Interesting, care to share why? I won't be running a sound system for now but I'm leaving the wiring in place.

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