Experts at Bavarian Motor Works may continue to haggle over any of them BMW It ranks as the top model the German automaker has ever made, but there’s no doubt that the M3 E36 will rank high on that list. The late Paul Walker fast and angry Fame once reportedly declared the E36 to be his favorite BMW, and as a sign of this endorsement, I owned a lightweight frame version of that car.
Another fan is Mike Burroughs, Editor-in-Chief at Car enthusiasts webzine Stance Works. For the past 17 years he’s been working on restoring the E36, which isn’t an easy task since BMW discontinued production of the car in 1999, which makes spare parts somewhat expensive and hard to come by. But in a video released in mid-March, Burroughs showed off the results, although he still had some finishing touches to complete inside.
Front panel holes closed
Getting parts on a budget has always been a hurdle for anyone recovering vehicles, but Burroughs seems happy that the work is almost done. However, the past two weeks have presented some interesting challenges for him, as he sometimes had to reinvent a few steps to get the job done.
One challenging task involved taking care of the holes in the car’s front panels, which are considered unsightly to Burroughs. He initially thought removing and tightening each panel before moving on to the next panel would remedy the look, but soon discovered he had to remove everything on the front end. He did improve on the reorganization, but thought a visit to a body shop would improve the consistency of those cracks.
It was easier to install the spacer and front lip, a process that only took two hours. The assembly of sliding panels located under the front of the vehicle took only minutes. Burroughs loved how users could move the board forward and backward to accommodate the car on the road or on the track. “It completely changes the look of the E36 and that is exactly what this car has been needing for years,” Burroughs noted.
Side skirts and locks require precision
To match the front lip, Burroughs wanted to add side skirts. But BMW designed his model before the car took on this feature. This meant he had to drill holes in the frame carefully and strategically, which is a daunting task, since a single slip might not get in the way of additional board alignment, it could also ruin the job of the metallic paint job.
It took a long time to constantly measure the fit of the skirt. “They brought the side of the car down to meet the height of the front lip, and overall, this thing looks better and better with every change,” Burroughs said.
His precision and patience faced an even more difficult task when he wanted to replace the door handles. The knobs he ordered came with locking cylinders that each required a different key, something Burroughs wanted to avoid. He tried modifying the knobs with the lock cylinders that originally came with the car, but they wouldn’t fit the new knobs. That’s when he decided to remove the cylinder chips designed to match the rough lines and replace them one by one with what was on the E36. After several hard hours, she succeeded.
E36 is indicated for further filtered intake
One part — well, make those two — of the car he wasn’t excited about were the original bulging mirrors that came with his E36, so he swapped them out for rectangular ones to match the car’s boxy lines. What he didn’t decide was whether to replace the taillights with something with a bit of amber, to accentuate the rear spoiler a little. He also rejected the idea of adding a set of rear window openings, when he found that they visually collided with the wing.
He also improved the engine’s cooling system by altering parts such as the water pump, fan clutch, and thermostat. But while Burroughs liked the visual appearance of the speed stacks on the engine, he wants to replace them with a more upgraded intake system. He plans to put in a CSL carbon intake manifold to filter the air coming into the cylinder head. “I don’t want to worry about sucking things up anymore,” he added.
Upholstery is the last task
“There’s really not much left, except for the interior, to call this car completely finished,” said Burroughs, who is planning to release another video related to its construction. This will include the installation of upholstery. Otherwise, he is very pleased with the results.
“If the 17-year-old could see the way the e36 looked here in 2022, I think he’d lose his mind. I’m having a blast building one of my dream cars, no matter how important that might be.” He’ll have a blast dealing with something else in the back of the garage once the BMW is fully restored.
Here is the cost of the BMW E36 M3 today
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