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Scott
10-22-2009, 09:19 AM
Fairly new to the BMW world. Having been tracking my Mini Cooper for a few years and I thinking of getting either an M3 as a dedicated track car. Have a few questions.

1) Is it worth spending the extra money on the newer e46?
2) How many miles are the motor is to much? I know I would be spending money on suspension and brakes but do not want to have to replace a motor.
3) Any year of either the E36 or E46 better or worse than another?
4) Any major issues with either one to look at for?

Any other advice is welcome.

Car54
10-22-2009, 09:41 AM
I would ask/research this question at M3forum.net.

There are tons of pro-con conversations about this. It's going to come down to two things...

How fast do you want to go and how big is your wallet?

Griffon252
10-25-2009, 01:00 PM
1. This question is really subjective to the person. I might say, go for the e36, great bang for your buck as a track car. Someone else might say go all out and get the e46. All depends who you ask. Me personally, having owned an e36 M3 would say get the e36. You can feel the road better than in an e46.

2. Depends on how well the previous owner took care of it. You can get an e36 with over 200k miles on the motor owned by an enthusiast who zealously maintained their car and it be in better shape than an e36 with 70k miles. Same with the e46. Like buying any used car get a PPI by a trusted indy shop or dealer.

3. As far as the e36 I would stay with the 96-99 range. They are all very similar. The 95 is OBD I and the rest are OBD II. That being said, some people like the OBD I. Also, on the 95s BMW did not completely weld certain points on the suspension. So you can get wear if you track your 95 e36 m3. E46s seem similar the whole way through that range of M3. The biggest issue is the subframe, and just have to make sure they complied with the SMG(if you get that over a manual) and past recalls. One more thing, you may want to consider a 4 door e36 M3 if you go the e36 route. They are basically the exact same dimensions as the coupe, but they are more rigid because they have a real b-pillar.

4. See 3.

Lastly, you also need to ask yourself if your going to stay NA or go FI. I have also heard people prefer the SMG in the E46 on the track over a 6-speed. But that argument is like the chicken or egg come first argument haha.

Like Car54 said, research on m3forum.net, e46fanatics.com, and bimmerforums.com. The two camps (e36 M3/e46 M3) will argue their side is better. You just need to choose. You could also look at the e30 M3, that would be a fun ride on the track :icon_pelv

Here is an example of the weld failure I mentioned in item 3 on my buddy's 95 e36 M3:
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=266861

Reach
10-25-2009, 03:28 PM
As an E46 M3 owner, I'd say get an E36 M3 for the track. (Disclaimer: I am not a real big track rat, just an occasional amateur). This car is awesome on the street but I don't see it having tremendous long term potential as a track car. Too big / heavy. Similar power to weight can be accomplished with older lighter cheaper cars once they are modded. Not to mention the added expenses of the newer gen.

jhm5
10-25-2009, 04:53 PM
It sounds like you're considering an M3 in either generation? Generally speaking with BMW, the later years of a body style are better... more of the bugs worked out.
Both the E46 and E36 use many plastic cooling sytem parts. Best to do a "cooling system update" at 60,000 mile intervals replacing all that stuff.
E46 M3 engines solved bearing problems from 04 model year on. Earlier ones should have had a bearing service campaign. E46 engines are more sophisticated - i.e. expensive to work on. The E36 M3 engine is nice and torquey and basically just a bored, stroked and tweaked variation of other E36s - cheaper to fix.
In general, with a used car, go with the one that's been best maintained, best service history -- and get it inspected by an expert.

Nick325xiT 5spd
10-25-2009, 05:55 PM
The E46 M3 is very expensive to track. With the extra weight and extra power, you burn through tires fast. Engine components are now about as reliable as they were in the S50/S52, but they cost a LOT more to replace and the engine is not nearly as DIY friendly.

It's also very hard to learn to be fast when you're driving it - a good E46 M3 driver will generally be one of the fastest cars on track at a DE, which means that you'll have no one goading you to push yourself.

Personally, I would suggest not getting an M car at all. Build an E30 325i to whatever level of SpecE30 compliant prep that you want, or an E36 325i to NASA Spec3. This means that if you get bitten by the racing bug you have a place to go, and it also means that you'll be able to get rid of the car in the future if you get sick of it. ...and as someone who went from an E46 M3 on track to an E46 323, I can tell you that you learn a lot more driving the slower car than you do the fast one.

Griffon252
10-26-2009, 08:31 AM
slightly off topic, but Nick325xiT 5spd if you don't mind me asking, is that your 323 in your sig? What happened? Saw that happen to a chick next to me on a highway a long time ago, scared the crap outta me and im sure she got the poop scared outta her too haha.

Car54
10-26-2009, 10:15 AM
I should also add that I used to have an E46 M3 and tracked it a few times. I felt like to go fast I would be risking the car (a nice one) so I down-graded to the Mcoupe, which is really a hybrid e36/e30 M3. I was concerned about being bummed with the power output but psyched about a less sophisticated chassis. After my first track session in the Mcoupe, I never looked back. If I had uber money...and could risk loosing a 30k car, then I'd be all over an E46 M3. Look at Bob Kelley and his M3, for those that know him, that could never be me.

Good luck in your quest.

1996 328ti
10-26-2009, 10:24 AM
slightly off topic, but Nick325xiT 5spd if you don't mind me asking, is that your 323 in your sig? What happened? Saw that happen to a chick next to me on a highway a long time ago, scared the crap outta me and im sure she got the poop scared outta her too haha.She forgot her hood pins too?

agreatham
10-26-2009, 02:29 PM
How about moving back one generation further? I'm contemplating selling my E46 M3 and getting an E30 M3. I think I'll be able to learn more by driving an older car. Plus it'll be cheaper to track.

Nick325xiT 5spd
10-26-2009, 04:28 PM
Only if you don't mind rebuilding the engine regularly. S14s are not cheaper to track, and a nice E30 M3 is damned expensive. On the other hand, the E36 M3's engine is almost disposable. That's a big asset in a track car.

Seriously, if you want an E30 track car, go with a 325i/325is. In SpecE30 trim, they are in the upper 20s at Summit. Best of all, if you kill the engine, you can pick up another for a few hundred bucks.

woodym3
10-26-2009, 09:32 PM
Only if you don't mind rebuilding the engine regularly. S14s are not cheaper to track,

I was talking to other ex-E30 M3 owners about this at Lightning today. It seems the original engine in mostly stock trim (an oil pan baffle is a necessity) is bulletproof. Once rebuilt or modified, you're lucky if they last a season. When I sold my unmodified M3 (other than a chip) it had 160,000 miles and over 20,000 of that was on the track. I had the rod bearings replaced at 150,000 miles as a preventative messure the the shop said the original ones looked good as new.

Sorry about continuing to carry this thread so far off topic.

Nick325xiT 5spd
10-27-2009, 09:25 AM
slightly off topic, but Nick325xiT 5spd if you don't mind me asking, is that your 323 in your sig? What happened? Saw that happen to a chick next to me on a highway a long time ago, scared the crap outta me and im sure she got the poop scared outta her too haha.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNYFTkqgfRQ

I think the title is self explanatory....

Edit: And yeah, that's mine.

Nick325xiT 5spd
10-27-2009, 09:28 AM
I was talking to other ex-E30 M3 owners about this at Lightning today. It seems the original engine in mostly stock trim (an oil pan baffle is a necessity) is bulletproof. Once rebuilt or modified, you're lucky if they last a season. When I sold my unmodified M3 (other than a chip) it had 160,000 miles and over 20,000 of that was on the track. I had the rod bearings replaced at 150,000 miles as a preventative messure the the shop said the original ones looked good as new.

Sorry about continuing to carry this thread so far off topic.
I guess I'm kind of gun shy about the S14 after Blair Lee's (rod bearing at ~88k all of 150 miles after he bought it). Really, though, I tend to think that track cars should have disposable engines, and the S14 is not. M20, M50/52, S50/52 motors are all pretty much disposable - they are both cheap AND readily available. The M/S5x engines are also very easily interchangeable which is an added bonus.

woodym3
10-27-2009, 09:40 AM
I felt bad about Blair too. I drove him out past Centreville to pick up that car.

Nick325xiT 5spd
10-27-2009, 09:58 AM
I felt bad about Blair too. I drove him out past Centreville to pick up that car.
The worst part about that car was that so far as I can tell, he did everything right in the purchase. And man was it pretty.

agreatham
10-27-2009, 11:36 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNYFTkqgfRQ

I think the title is self explanatory....

Edit: And yeah, that's mine.

I know this is really way off-topic, but if it weren't for autocross, I would never have known that my E46 SMG will not engage any gear when the hood is unlatched. I was getting my car tech inspected for the first time and I popped the hood while waiting in line. The damn thing would not move forward until the hood was closed.

Nick325xiT 5spd
10-28-2009, 09:05 AM
I know this is really way off-topic, but if it weren't for autocross, I would never have known that my E46 SMG will not engage any gear when the hood is unlatched. I was getting my car tech inspected for the first time and I popped the hood while waiting in line. The damn thing would not move forward until the hood was closed.
My old SMG M3 got pushed through tech one time when I had a co-driver take it through.

Griffon252
10-31-2009, 06:18 PM
ouch Nick, that sucks.

I miss my E36 M3. I would love to have an E46 M3, but if I was to track it would have to be the E36. I loved working on that engine! The 01 325xi I have now is no M3, but im still figuring out the workings of the engine bay haha.

Nick325xiT 5spd
11-01-2009, 08:10 AM
ouch Nick, that sucks.

I miss my E36 M3. I would love to have an E46 M3, but if I was to track it would have to be the E36. I loved working on that engine! The 01 325xi I have now is no M3, but im still figuring out the workings of the engine bay haha.
The E46 engine bay is better than the E36 engine bay. Every connector only fits where it's supposed to go, so you don't have to do any ridiculous circuit testing, or wire color checking. Aside from the need for the doppelvanos tools, the engine is just as easy to work on too.

Griffon252
11-01-2009, 11:28 AM
I have not gotten to looking over the electric components yet. One thing I don't like is the fuses being in the glovebox, it is a hassle to get at them. From looking around it doesn't seem DIYs are as readily available for the e46 as they are for the e36. Might be because more e46 owners take their cars in to shops for work, and they haven't been around as long. But, it just seems the e36 all around is more DIY friendly.

Scott
11-01-2009, 04:33 PM
thanks for the assistance. Think I will start looking at e36 from 96-99. Mostly come down to the thickness of the wallet. The e36 is still $5-$10K less than the e46. I like to work on my own stuff that is another plus for the e36. Presently drive an 07 Mini Cooper S. So I understand the lower hp car is easier to learn to drive fast. (more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow) Mini is also inexpensive to drive.

Does $8-$15K the price range for an e36?

Scott

Griffon252
11-01-2009, 05:28 PM
yeah 8-15k is a good range. 15k will get you an excellent example of an e36. 8k will get you a good one, just some issues to look for that we noted earlier in the thread. Also, obviously if you look at an e36 that is heavily modded it prob was beat on. You might want to get one that is stock or very lightly modded so you can do with it what you want and what best fits you.

Nick325xiT 5spd
11-01-2009, 09:15 PM
I have not gotten to looking over the electric components yet. One thing I don't like is the fuses being in the glovebox, it is a hassle to get at them. From looking around it doesn't seem DIYs are as readily available for the e46 as they are for the e36. Might be because more e46 owners take their cars in to shops for work, and they haven't been around as long. But, it just seems the e36 all around is more DIY friendly.
Don't know why you think that E46es are harder to work on, honestly. I mean, I guess there are fewer picture by picture DIYs, but virtually everything is basically the same layout.

Griffon252
11-02-2009, 07:50 AM
i can see what your saying. I have not had my e46 for very long, and lately with work and planning my wedding have not had as much time as i did with my e36 to do work on it. I know we will be keeping it for awhile and I do plan on doing as much as I can to it myself!

Nick325xiT 5spd
11-02-2009, 08:02 AM
thanks for the assistance. Think I will start looking at e36 from 96-99. Mostly come down to the thickness of the wallet. The e36 is still $5-$10K less than the e46. I like to work on my own stuff that is another plus for the e36. Presently drive an 07 Mini Cooper S. So I understand the lower hp car is easier to learn to drive fast. (more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow) Mini is also inexpensive to drive.

Does $8-$15K the price range for an e36?

Scott
Go on the $8k end and use the $7k you saved to replace every single suspension component and pick up a spare motor. At $15k, you're picking up a cosmetically cherry car (i.e. don't beat it up on track) that still needs all the suspension components fixed.

Scott
11-02-2009, 04:47 PM
that will open the pandora's box of questions, whose parts, brakes, spring, bushings etc sound like fun

Nick325xiT 5spd
11-02-2009, 08:27 PM
E36 M3?

AST 4100 dampers, Vorshlag camber plates, Rogue RSMs, Powerflex RTABs, stock FCABs. Starting spring rate for a track rat should be something like 600/700. H&R front sway. Stock rear subframe bushings. With stock brakes, use cheap blank rotors and PFC06 pads all around.

Scott
11-30-2009, 11:55 AM
How many miles are too many on a E36? Finding that I need to go in excess of 150,000 to get under $10,000. With under 100,000 miles sellers are asking $14K plus. Found one with 219,000 miles for $5K. Hope to find one where the motor, trans and rear are still in good condition.

Car54
12-01-2009, 09:22 AM
Perhaps you open your search up to include 325/328's?

I would say at 100k miles, you will likely need to toss in $2k to get everything sorted and safe for the track. Not sure what your total budget is, but 10k isn't going to get you and an M3 on the track I'm afraid.

In your shoes...I'd be looking for a sturdy and rust free e36 325is for <$4k

Scott
12-01-2009, 09:51 AM
My budget it $15K. As usual prefer to spend less but will spend more if needed. Finding E36 ranging from $5k with 235k miles to $16K with 68K miles. In a certain way I am asking an unanswerable question. What one in the end will cost me the least? Purchase price plus cost of needed repairs. Is it wiser to spend more on a car with less than 100K miles and will need little repairs. Or go up in mileage say 150K or so, pay less but put $3-5k into repairs?

Nick325xiT 5spd
12-01-2009, 10:47 AM
Go high mileage. You need to replace all that crap on the 68k car anyway. The only real variable is whether you need to swap the engine. S50/S52s are only about $3k in decent shape, so I would not exercise myself over it.

Scott
02-01-2010, 04:44 PM
I purchased an 96 M3 with 130,000 miles for $8,200. Hopefully is it a good deal. Nick, were is a good place to purchase the items you suggested?

Dirichlet
02-01-2010, 07:55 PM
I, too, just purchased an E36 M3 :D :D :D
Got mine for $9k w/ 120k on it, all stock, all reciepts, clean title. I may need to replace a window or two due to faded/cracked/chipped rubber around the base, but other than that the car is in excellent condition.

Looking forward to this summer/spring/fall

Nick325xiT 5spd
02-01-2010, 09:13 PM
I purchased an 96 M3 with 130,000 miles for $8,200. Hopefully is it a good deal. Nick, were is a good place to purchase the items you suggested?

http://www.vorshlag.com AST and Vorshlag parts
http://www.turnermotorsport.com - H&R Sway. Look here and Bimmerworld for stock suspension and consumables as well. They frequently are cheaper than EVERYONE.
http://www.bimmerworld.com - Stock consumables and PFC components.
http://www.rogueengineering.com - RSMs
http://www.rmeuropean.com - stock parts for real cheap
http://www.getbmwparts.com - Tischer. More extensive selection, local.

Nick325xiT 5spd
02-01-2010, 09:17 PM
Oh yes, and when you replace the clutch, don't forget to replace the shift pins in the transmission. The ZF is prone to sticking detent pins which cause the shifter to rest under 5th.

Car54
02-02-2010, 09:24 AM
And do the shifter bushings as well!

Nick325xiT 5spd
02-02-2010, 04:15 PM
You can do those at any time.