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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone!

I've been working on my cars as a hobby for quite some time now and have gotten pretty good at it. Last year I decided it was time to get a project car. I liked the idea of a manual RWD and had been watching a few videos on Mustangs, but having spent most of my time in the garage under VW's, I didn't really want to go domestic. After a few weeks searching I found the perfect fit; a 1999 328i. Price: a big 500 Canadian pesos.

I got it for that price because of how bad the body is. There's a hole in the A-pillar. There's a giant hole under the rear fender, the jack points are collapsed, the rockers are totally shot...BUT, the engine was well taken care of, the interior is OK... tires a good. Like I said, project car.

Mechanically all it needs rear end work. Really all it needed were wheel bearings (Although the previous owner thought the differential was blown -it's not), but I've got most of it apart in hopes of doing bushings and brake lines while I'm in there.

What I'm really worried about is the body work. I have never done paint that didn't rust through within a year. I've welded... not well.

So what do you guys think, am I nuts? Does my baby look like a diamond in the rough to you? Or just a pile of German Scrap?

919212
919213
 

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2004 330Ci 85k miles
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It’s an MT 328i, so the biggest problem is the RACP damage. That’s the body sheet metal where the rear axle carrier (subframe) bolts up. It’s likely cracked.
 

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That rust area in the 2nd picture does not look good at all. I believe that is what BaliDawg is referring to regarding the RACP damage. It doesn't look safe. I wish you luck in doing the repairs.
 

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closer to German scrap...maybe you part it out for a profit.

A better purchase is a 3-,5- or X-series from '01 - '06' with no rust or body damage but one that has an overheated engine, blown engine, or transmission pbms.
 

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I can't stand working on rusty cars so I would run as far away as possible from something like this. In it's current condition it may not even be safe to drive if there are suspension mounting points and other structural areas that are compromised. If you've owned it for a while, hopefully it's been inspected thoroughly.

For a project car I'd much rather start with a neglected/mechanical basket case that has a solid body. Most E46's have enough issues and deferred maintenance that you're looking at a good amount of wrench time before it is back to a reliable and well maintained status anyway. I can't imagine throwing serious rust issues into the mix with the all the other normal things to fix.

If this were my car I would spend as little money as possible to keep it running as a winter beater. If something major fails you can either part it out or get a couple hundred bucks selling it to a scrap yard. For a project car I would find something that is cleaner to start with... it's no fun fighting rusty fasteners, drilling out broken bolts, and getting covered in orange dust anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the input folks! Definitely leaning towards pulling the motor / transmission and chucking the car now. Hell I've seen more then a couple junkers in the junk yard in WAY better shape on the body... and my mechanic friend suggested I just get one of those and do an engine swap.

I don't mind rusty bolts though, not that I love them, it's just Canada... if you don't do rusty fasteners, you don't do cars.

Of note, having pulled the differential already, and gotten the rear carrier about half out, I've already checked out the RACP situation and, it's surprisingly OK. I'd want to rebuild pretty much the whole rear end anyways, so a little welding back there when everything is out anyways doesn't concern me. A LOT of welding on the rest of the body (requiring gutting the engine bay and the interior).. that's going to be the deal breaker.
 

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I agree, part it out and keep all the mechanicals, then find a clean shell to swap everything into. I'm in Ontario and my friend bought an E46 without safety with less rust than that, and he never ended up getting it past safety because it was just not worth it to do all the bodywork. I think he drove on temp plates for a bit, had the car for 6 months, then sold it for a loss.

If your province does not require any sort of safety then maybe you can get a summer out of driving the car. But at this point that shell's fate is 100% doomed to the scrapyard
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I agree, part it out and keep all the mechanicals, then find a clean shell to swap everything into. I'm in Ontario and my friend bought an E46 without safety with less rust than that, and he never ended up getting it past safety because it was just not worth it to do all the bodywork. I think he drove on temp plates for a bit, had the car for 6 months, then sold it for a loss.

If your province does not require any sort of safety then maybe you can get a summer out of driving the car. But at this point that shell's fate is 100% doomed to the scrapyard
Yeah I don't know when you need a safety in Alberta, but the car has to be pretty old. Put it this way, I also wound up buying a 2006 Volvo XC70 last year, it didn't need a safety...

It's definitely been an all or nothing scenario. To get it rolling I'd have to do wheel bearings, brakes, and a CV Axel... Then when I scrap it I'm taking double the loss.

I don't know if there's much of a market for this Engine (I know BMW guys like the more premium ones out there), but I think I can probably scoop off everything for a manual transmission swap anyways, if I don't keep the stuff myself.

Thanks all.
 

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OP Keep in mind that your engine is, I believe, the M52TUB28 (aka M52TU) engine used in only 2 years "99-'00 (maybe '98 also in E46). It's a good engine, with little to no oil consumption, but it used a problematic hybrid drive-by-wire /by cable throttle body. You CAN put an M52TU into a later M54 car ('01-'05 3-series), but its not as straightforward as using the proper M54 for those cars. However the M52TU is getting slightly harder to find, so it will likely have value to someone who wants one, so pull it and keep it.

Pulling the trans, driveshaft, shifter assy, pedal assy, and differential would make an excellent manual swap kit and would provide you a GREAT project should you find an automatic you like.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
OP Keep in mind that your engine is, I believe, the M52TUB28 (aka M52TU) engine used in only 2 years "99-'00 (maybe '98 also in E46). It's a good engine, with little to no oil consumption, but it used a problematic hybrid drive-by-wire /by cable throttle body. You CAN put an M52TU into a later M54 car ('01-'05 3-series), but its not as straightforward as using the proper M54 for those cars. However the M52TU is getting slightly harder to find, so it will likely have value to someone who wants one, so pull it and keep it.

Pulling the trans, driveshaft, shifter assy, pedal assy, and differential would make an excellent manual swap kit and would provide you a GREAT project should you find an automatic you like.
So if I read you right, the Engine is a Maybe, but the transmission (and fixings) are much more widely used? I was wondering about that.

This guy pumped a ton of money into the engine and didn't take care of the body, it's weird... I think he was parking it next to a gravel pit or something.
 

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Yes. The engine has value but really only to those that have an M52TU car.
the 5-speed trans was used until the ‘04 model year E46 when a 6-speed was introduced

imo the manual swap kit I described earlier is worth more than what you paid for the whole car.
 
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