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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I joined the forum a few months ago, around the time I purchased my touring. I haven’t posted much but I figured I would share my progress with everyone.
I have a varied car history, but I have been gravitating towards BMWs in recent years. I bought an e36 325iS in 2018 and immediately fell for the dynamics and overall feel of the car. I tore into the e36 soon after I bought it and it is slowly becoming a dedicated track car. For those that are familiar with the e36 chassis, the car began life with an m50NV, but I have since swapped in an m52b28 with an OBD1 conversion and a whole host of supporting chassis reinforcements and modifications.

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Picture of the car before the “new” engine went in.

Since the project is still not running (I know, I know) this left a hole in my garage for the BMW feel that I enjoyed so much. I had originally assumed it would be that way until the e36 was finished…. then my buddy bought an ’04 330Ci. After driving his car, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The e46 chassis was reminiscent of the e36 driving feel but with some more modern/comfort features that made it significantly more appealing as a daily driver. I sold my mk7 GTI soon after and began my search for a RWD, manual touring.

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Picture of the previous daily driver. Fun car but never really scratched the itch.

The search was frustrating to say the least. I had multiple occasions where I was ready to fork over cash just for a huge red flag to pop up or the car to sell before I was able to get there. After some time, I opened my search to include automatics and expanded the radius to cover the whole country. I eventually found this Orient Blue on natural brown touring posted on Facebook Marketplace located down in Atlanta, GA. I reached out to the owner and never heard back. I tried to push this car out of my mind, but the color combo paired with the lower mileage was something I just couldn’t get over.

I looked at a few more tourings after this but none seemed worthwhile. After some time, I decided to reach out about the Orient blue touring once again and I laid it on thick. This seemed to do the trick and I was able to buy the car for significantly less than asking price, sight unseen (foreshadowing). I had it shipped up to CT and picking it up from the carrier was like Christmas morning.

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The car has the natural brown interior, premium & sport packages. 115k miles when I bought it.

After diving into the car, I realized I had my work cut out for me. It seemed like the previous owner had done the minimal maintenance to keep the car on the road. This was evidenced by mismatched tires, non-functional horn, dirty interior, worn suspension, etc. After some triage, I decided to begin the rehab with a belt service and cooling system refresh.

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By the time I buttoned everything up (and threw the project e36 wheels on for laughs), it was dark, and I didn’t realize that I hadn’t clipped the lower radiator hose in completely. The next day, I hopped in the car and started driving to make sure everything was good. The car was maintaining temp at first but as soon as I merged on the highway, the coolant temp started rising. I immediately pulled over and found out about that lower hose clipped that I missed. Luckily, I was keeping a close eye on coolant temp and pulled over before an overheat situation, but I did have the car towed home to be safe.

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You live and you learn, I guess.

Soon after, my girlfriend had to move from CT to Seattle for med school, so we made the cross-country road trip. While I was away, I dropped the car off at JG Technik in CT to receive a ZF manual swap, Meyle HD subframe bushings, Meyle HD differential bushings, and M3 engine mounts. Also took advantage of this opportunity to add in the e60 short shifter. The car was fully coded as well and the only function I did not retain was the reverse mirror dip. I feel like I copped out by not tackling this job on my own, but between work and the e36 project, I just did not have the time.

Upon getting back to CT, I picked up the car and any guilt that I felt about not doing the job on my own flew out the window. The driving experience was improved drastically, and it felt good to be rowing my own gears again. The ZF automatic that came in this car was definitely tired and in need of replacement.

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Also replaced the center console with a new, armrest delete version. I wasn’t a fan of the armrest and found that it bothered my neck on longer drives.
After that, I continued catching up on the deferred maintenance. I replaced the DISA valve, the upper/lower intake boots, oil level sensor, window regulators, and enjoyed the car for a while. I added little things like an M3 steering wheel, and an Eonon head unit (meh). I also installed Hella horns to replace the nonfunctional stock units and get some road rage power back.

And the obligatory picture with my buddy's 330 that solidified my interest in the touring.

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Discussion Starter #2
In December 2020 I landed a new job out in Seattle to be closer to my girlfriend and used this as an excuse to button up the touring some more. I was planning on driving the car cross-country to enjoy a little break before starting in the new position. I took the car to Munich Motorsports in CT to have the tie-rods, FCABs and RTABs replaced and an alignment done. I also found some super cheap Style 30s and put the Blizzaks I had leftover from the GTI on them. To top it off, I installed OEM roof racks and a Yakima Skybox to fit all my things for the move.

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Picture of roof box installed. The style 30s are very light but definitely not my favorite wheel.

The day before leaving CT, I had the car up on ramps for a quick oil change. Of course, in a “high-stakes” scenario like this, something had to go wrong. As I was unscrewing the drain plug, I sheared the bolt head off the threads.

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Luckily drain plugs are hollow so I was able to get an easy-out in there and unscrew the remainder. After a quick trip to FCP, I had a new drain plug in and the car was ready to go!

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Look at that poor rear suspension!

The touring performed like a champ during the trip. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous something would go wrong. She was happy to cruise at 75 and returned about 24 MPG consistently. The trip was largely uneventful save for Wyoming. We hit a crazy windstorm with gusts of 60+mph. Since we were in the plains, the gusts were not dampened by any surrounding structures/mountains. The touring held up well, but the roof box raised the center of gravity and acted like a huge moment arm, so we had points where the steering became quite squirrelly. We passed by a series of tipped over semi-trucks, but the touring made it through with just a cracked windshield and some serious rock chips on the (already beat) front bumper, hood, and sideview mirrors.

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Although the car made it across the country in one piece, there were definitely some signs of wear. The SES light had come on and there was an audible creak when I actuated the clutch pedal. Taking the car in for service uncovered a few pressing problems: oil leaks everywhere (OFHG, valve cover, oil pan, Vanos line), a potentially failed throw out bearing, and (of course) a vacuum leak. Because I don’t have garage space in Seattle yet, I let Precision Motorworks handle the oil pan gasket replacement and clutch creak issue.

I thought it was highly unlikely the throw out bearing would be bad already considering I had just had the manual swap done and this car is never driven in anger. Turns out, the culprit for the creak was a worn-down pivot pin. I had unwisely used a brass pivot pin when refreshing the transmission prior to the swap. I have heard horror stories about these pins in the past and I should’ve listened. Oh well, you live, and you learn I suppose. Luckily, I did use an OEM pin in the e36 trans.

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Bad pivot pin. Replaced with OEM.

I went down to a self-service garage and tackled the rest of the oil leaks myself. Ordered a completely new valve cover because I wasn’t sure when it had been replaced last and I didn’t want to deal with another leak. I also deleted the secondary air pump while I was in there.

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Next on the list was a blower motor replacement and an e-fan conversion to quiet the engine bay down a bit. I also picked up an OEM shift boot from a part out and “completed” the manual swap. The Condor shift boot I had previously been using looked cheap and did not match the rest of the interior.
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Future plans:
  • Suspension replacement. I already have a B12 Pro-kit, new Lemforder strut mounts, and Meyle HD RSMs. This will be happening soon; I have some time booked at the self-service garage.
  • New wheels and tires. I already have Apex Arc-8s in 17x9 et42 and 245/40 General G-Max AS-05. The wheel decision was a toss up between the Bimmerworld TA5R and the Arc-8. The TA5R are equally light but I eventually decided they’re not the look I want. I feel like the Arc-8s are very common but they look good and it’s a safe choice for a daily driver. The 17s have the added benefit of more sidewall, cheaper tires and the ability to easily interchange between my e36 and the touring.
  • New MAF and replacement of vacuum lines. I still have an SES light on, and the car will hunt for idle slightly when it’s cold. This is high on the priority list.
  • Full detail. I ‘ve cleaned the interior up a bit but I still have to give the leather and carpet a deep clean to look its’ best. The paint is in dire need of a polish and wax.
  • Swap the pillars and headliner to the ZHP anthracite. My a-pillars look like garbage, and the headliner is starting to sag in the trunk area.
  • M-Tech front bumper. Like I mentioned, the current bumper is riddled with rock chips and I’d like to upgrade instead of just repainting. Undecided between M-Tech I or II. I’ll just jump on a deal if/when it pops up.
Not sure what else awaits this car. The original goal was to do a b30 swap but now that I don’t have a garage, I’ll probably ride out the b25 for as long as possible. As mentioned, the car was not maintained well so I’ve made the effort to replace everything that needs attention and ensure reliability. I’d like to drive it for as long as possible and just enjoy for what it is.

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'00 323 >>> 332iT, Orientblau
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138 Posts
Nice write-up. The Natural/Black interior looks really good with the (Orient?) Blue exterior. Best of luck keeping her going!
 

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2020 330i, 2004 325iT
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21 Posts
Great write up. I picked mine up in January and have pretty much the same experiences minus a manual swap.
 
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