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Discussion Starter #1
So almost nine months ago I purchased an E36 318is. I previously had an E46 323i that I loved, despite it being automatic. There was nothing wrong with it, other than I wanted a manual BMW, as I enjoy autocross and hard canyon runs and did not want to prematurely end the transmission's life.

Here is my old E46 on her last canyon run through Mines Road. H&R Touring cupkit, 10mm/15mm f/r spacers, Hankook Ventus V4 tires, 225/50R16.

Here is the E36 318is a few days after I bought it.
/1995 model year
/5MT
/Boston Green on beige non-sport interior
/Completely stock
/Garaged by the previous owner (those sideskirts say otherwise!)

I had come across the car 4 months prior in a parking lot on my way to school. I saw it was a manual, rather clean, and more importantly, stock, so I left a note on the windshield. A few weeks after returning from a trip to Italy, I get a text asking if I wanted the car. 1 week and $2600 later, she was mine!

The first thing I did was, obviously, a ZHP knob. The old one was peeling and would come off completely if you changed into second gear a little too enthusiastically!

The car had a few issues upon purchase:
/Gearbox didn't like going into gear sometimes - 100% fixed with fresh fluid, shifts beautifully now.
/The passenger window motor had a stripped plastic gear - fixed
/Both rear wheel bearings were bad. My father and I replaced both ourselves over the course of a few weeks. It's not the world's worst job, but it certainly takes time to do.

Obviously all brakes + pads, fluids, etc were changed upon purchase.

After these issues were sorted, I basically drove the car like this for the rest of the Fall semester while I got the hang of driving a manual.

Let's get something out of the way before we go on:

"It's a 4 cylinder, wtf were you thinking". Yes, it's slow, and I miss the sound of a BMW l6, but part of the joy of this car is revving the nuts off it while still being at sane public-road speeds. It's a pedal-to-the-floor kind of car, and I love that. I will have plenty of time when I'm older to speed around in a 1M or E46 M3.

Over winter break, I found a set of DS1 wheels for $250, and ordered an H&R Sport Cupkit as well as new Sumitomo HTR ZIII tires in 235/45r17 size. This was a slight issue, because '95 M3s specced 235 tires in 40 profile, which, if you know anything about tires, is a performance size for 17 inch wheels and is thus hard to find cheaply. Sumitomo ZIIs come in that size, but they had poor reviews. ZIIIs had much better reviews for autocross, but they only came in 235/45. I bit the bullet and figured the car wasn't low enough for it to be an issue. It turned out largely OK, but the fronts still rub a tiny bit at full lock, which isn't too bad. The car IS still rather low, to the point where I cannot even fit a 5mm spacer front or rear without the tires rubbing. Oh well.

Here's how she sits now:






I absolutely adore the DS1 wheels - they are borderline retro and very period-correct.

A few other things I have done:
/Basic weight reduction, pulled the speakers and cassette deck, replaced the hole with a delete plate from Turner Motorsport.
/Gutted the trunk, my scale told me that was good for ~15lbs, though that could be wrong.

I took the car to a BMWCCA autocross and it flawless. I currently have a car that more capable than I am! This is great because I can grow into the car as I attend more autox events.

I will post more updates as time goes on :D
 

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Discussion Starter #2


Update: I added an M-Tech II steering wheel :woot: $300 shipped from Lithuania.
I friggin' love this wheel, it feels so much better than the ugly, large diameter bus-driver 4-spoke wheel the car came with. The only downside is I now don't have an airbag pointing at my face at all times. Welp :cry:



 

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Very nice car.

I love 318is trim on the e30 and e36. M42 is such a gem of a 4cyl.
I had m42 e30 with slight engine mods. This motor loves to rev. I have had a lot of fun driving it. There is something cool about RWD high revving 4cyl setup.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Very nice car.

I love 318is trim on the e30 and e36. M42 is such a gem of a 4cyl.
I had m42 e30 with slight engine mods. This motor loves to rev. I have had a lot of fun driving it. There is something cool about RWD high revving 4cyl setup.
Nice car and nice pictures!
Thanks guys! I agree, the M42 is a extremely fun little engine, so rev-happy! I didn't think I'd like it after owning a straight 6, but it grew on me quickly.
 

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I love the 318... Very economical and practical for a student. The DS1s look great but I would clean them up just a bit if you haven't already. Keep up the great work !!
 

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Thanks guys! I agree, the M42 is a extremely fun little engine, so rev-happy! I didn't think I'd like it after owning a straight 6, but it grew on me quickly.
What you need to do is to get your intake cam advanced by 3 degrees and to get ebay ecu chip, or markD chip, or any other to fit e36 m42. I personally had the one from ebay and never regretted.
You will love your m42 even more. m42 comes standard with adjustable cam gears.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I love the 318... Very economical and practical for a student. The DS1s look great but I would clean them up just a bit if you haven't already. Keep up the great work !!
Thanks! Yes, I do like how fuel efficient it is, I pump gas once a month (granted, work and school are only 5 miles away each). The DS1s were really messed up when I bought them, I got em off this ***** 17 year old with a beat E36 M3, I tried cleaning them up best I can but it's like the finish on them is stained or something, idk. It doesn't bother me too much, though, because I rarely have time to wash the car anyways lol!

What you need to do is to get your intake cam advanced by 3 degrees and to get ebay ecu chip, or markD chip, or any other to fit e36 m42. I personally had the one from ebay and never regretted.
You will love your m42 even more. m42 comes standard with adjustable cam gears.
I didn't know the M42s came with adjustable cam gears, that's cool! I will definitely look into that and the chips.

I've always liked the DS1 wheels on these. I have the exact same car so I'll be following with interest. :thumbup:
I love the DS1s more and more. The stamped "BMW Motorsport" is the just the coolest thing ever haha
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Time for an update!

The car has been to three autocross events since the last update, two with the BMWCCA and one with the SCCA.




Photocredit for this action shot goes to Mark Mervich! :thumbup:


I shimmed the front struts with Turner Motorsport's camber shim kit for more negative camber. I don't have photos of the install but it only took me an hour to do. I used one washer between the strut and the hub assembly. I can't say what the camber value is now, but it is noticeable for sure. The car is now a 49 point B class car for BMWCCA autox. I've decided to stop mods that will add to my class points because, let's face it, the car is *barely* competitive in B class, running against 335i and M235i cars on nothing less than Michelin PSS, Direzza Start Spec, and RS3 rubber. A stock 335i on PSS rubber in stock sizes was well in the 55 second range, while my fastest was a 57.366. Of course, it's be folly to only blame the rubber - most of the problem is yours truly! :facepalm: More seat time is definitely needed.



Waiting to pass tech


Hal's EDGE Motorworks E46 M3 is a really, really neat build. Couldn't get enough of it!



Lord knows how much I want a full E36M body kit with LTW aero. This particular E36 M3 even seems to have the ultra rare GT gurney flaps!

 

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Discussion Starter #11
Time 4 Photo dump?









That is all for now. I am signed up for what is potentially my last BMWCCA autocross for a long while (on August 13th). I bit the bullet and signed up for a Saturday class this upcoming semester, so I think I'll be doing only SCCA events for the foreseeable future. I am hoping to find another job at some point so I can get a few things that the car needs, like performance brake pads and some cosmetic stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
So I got around to working on the car a little before this weekend's autocross.

My rear passenger-side seat belt has been stuck since I bought the car. It would not extend at all, thus making it impossible for someone to use that seat. This wasn't a big deal because 99% of the time it is just me in the car, but it still kinda bothered me. I figured I could try to fix it properly and do some other things while I was there. The objectives of this exercise were threefold:

-Fix my seat belt so that it could extend and retract as it should
-Learn how to remove E36 rear seats for future reference
-Remove some sound deadening for (admittedly minor) weight reduction

First I removed the seat bench. Just pull up and towards you - they pop out very easily.


Then I unbolted the seat belts from chassis with a 16mm socket. At this point the seat belt has gotten worse and retracted into the seat such that the seat could not be put into its "up" position.

This is just a reference photo I took for what order the seat belts and washers have to be for reinstallation.


I tugged and pulled on it a little to no avail. I figured I could at least take out the heavy rubber sound deadening underneath the seat bench while I was there. I took a razor to it and cut it out in chunks.

Seat bench area with sound deadening cut out




Out of sheer mindlessness I tugged on the offending rear seat belt again - IT MOVED FREELY! It extended and retracted smoothly and did not get stuck again. Upon closer inspection I found out what had happened.

This is the rear passenger side seat belt. As you can see, it is missing the plastic stopper that prevents it from retracting all the way into the seat.


This is the driver side rear seat belt - it still has its plastic stopper.


What had happened was that at some point, when the previous owner had folded the rear seat down, the seat belt had retracted back into the seat *past* the plastic stopper, allowing the plastic stopper to get stuck inside the seat belt mechanism. It remained stuck there until it finally broke off the belt today. That plastic stopper is still sitting in the seat somewhere, but I'm not gonna open up the seat just to remove it.

I put everything back together (sans sound deadening) and everything works fine!


I weighed the sound deadening I pulled: ~7 lbs. Not bad! I'm still within the 1-50lbs weight reduction range for BMWCCA autox classification, so I don't have to reclassify my car.


Yes, while I was there it DID occur to me to just delete the rear seats entirely. I was sorely, sorely tempted, believe me! But with an event coming up this weekend, I did not want to reclassify my car and end up in A class with all the E36 M3s. Furthermore I kind if want to wait until I have fixed-back buckets before doing any kind of major interior stripping.

That is all for now - will likely post another update after this weekend's event!
 

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Subbed! Half in it for the photos, half in it for the car. Keep up the good work. Props for using gloves even on non-mechanical job. Wish I could learn that lesson....
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Subbed! Half in it for the photos, half in it for the car. Keep up the good work. Props for using gloves even on non-mechanical job. Wish I could learn that lesson....
Thanks so much dude! And yup yup, gloves the the best! I was surprised at how much sticky/tacky residue there is beneath the interior parts of my car. Ewww haha
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Post-autocross report!

The last time I went autocrossing I wasn't particularly happy with my performance. I didn't get my tire pressures right, and I hit a wall in my lap times and I wasn't able to focus on what I was doing wrong so I could fix it.

That all seemed to change at today's event. I got my tire pressures damn-near spot on and I was consistently dropping huge chunks of time with each run. The car felt absolutely perfect, too.

Fastest time: 57.684
To put that into context, an S2000 on all season tires was around 57.1, and a stock E46 330i ZHP on semislicks was in the 54s. Given the tires I'm running (Sumitomo HTR ZIII) and my hamfisted-ness with a steering wheel, I'd say I didn't do so bad!

The fog was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Luckily it cleared up very quickly.




This little cigarette-lighter powered air compressor worked beautifully. I was able to get my tires up to 34 psi cold with the expectation of working the tires up to 35 or even 36 psi when warm. The tires felt good on these settings. They had great bite and turn in while maintaining a very healthy amount of grip.


The car as whole felt superb. It has this amazingly controllable and predicable oversteer balance that really helped with getting the car situated during long sweeping corners. If you did it right you could use the throttle to control the rear axle mid-corner. If you got greedy with it, though, the rear end would step out in an unsightly manner, so I had to be careful not to overcook my corner exits. It's an insane amount of fun and I literally cannot get enough of it. I need more seat time, dammit!! :ben:
 

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Nice time!! I'll have to go do it myself too...but gotta save up for that manual swap now that I took care of maintenance. SMH we gotta share xmp's or something. As per usual, your photos are AMAZING. Never stop, you're doing amazing work! :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Nice time!! I'll have to go do it myself too...but gotta save up for that manual swap now that I took care of maintenance. SMH we gotta share xmp's or something. As per usual, your photos are AMAZING. Never stop, you're doing amazing work! :thumbup:
Thanks so much dude!! :D if you're ever in the area and wanna meet up and swap Lightroom notes I'm down dude! Just hit me up. And manual swap for sure :thumbsup: beating on an automatic transmission has its ups and downs - ask me how I know!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Did some small things for the car.

I made a super basic (and probably a little inadequate) first-aid kit for my car from stuff I had lying around at home.

-4x vinyl gloves
-3x disinfectant wipes
-1x burn gel
-Several band-aids
-1x Hydrogen Peroxide solution
-some Ibuprofen pills
-1x waterproof first aid tape
-Some cotton swabs and pads (not pictured)

All the items laid out...


...and neatly arranged in the box


After that I got around to the trunk spoiler I bought a year ago but couldn't be arsed to install :rofl: I HATE installing these because it's damn near impossible to get them to match the curvature of your trunk 100%.

The spoiler. I bought it pre-painted from eBay for $39. I had one on my E46 and loved it, so when I bought my E36 in my excitement I got another one on impulse. Looking back, I probably should not have, but oh well.


Cleaned the trunk with Quik Detailer


Before:


End result. I'm not happy with it, to be honest. I messed it up and its not perfectly formed to the curvature of the trunk. It's hard to adjust once the tape is being applied because the adhesive is so damn strong, too.


You can see it's not done right. **** :banghead:


My only small consolation is that I've never personally seen an aftermarket trunk lip get installed 100% correctly on other cars - they always have a slight 'wave' to them by means of imperfect installation. I'm gonna let it sit for a few days - if it doesn't grow on me I'm gonna take it off and sell it for $20. On my E46 this was a must-have IMO, but for an E36 I could take it or leave it. We'll see.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Same-day-mini-update :yikes:

I took the trunk deck spoiler off. I couldn't get over the crappy job I did installing it, and it just didn't flow with the lines of the E36 anyways.

If anyone has a Boston Green E36 and wants a used-for-like-2-hours painted truck deck spoiler, its yours for $20! Might have to re-apply new 3M adhesive, but its brand new regardless.

What a relief :clap:
 
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