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'Upping my Green Credentials' - Meergrün E36 328i Trio

'Upping my Green Credentials' - Meergrün E36 328i Trio

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vsonix

Original Poster:

2,677 posts

86 months

Wednesday 19th September 2012
quotequote all
So, this is actually my fourth E36 but the first one to get its own dedicated thread from the very beginning. This was very nearly a Cosmosschwartz example; I had a small deposit on a tidy black number which was selling at the right price, however a clerical error on the part of a client meant I was left hanging for a large payment I was depending on to make the purchase, so the sale didn't go through.

One thing I've noticed recently is how quickly the number of really clean E36s on the market has decreased since I first got the E36 bug four years ago, and even the cleaner examples all seem to have the odd scab or two unless they've recently been redone or are low-mileage garage queens - which are a bit out of my budget and ultimately a bit pointless since I will be using this as my main car, so I fully expect to have to shed the odd tear over other people's bad parking, stone chips, kids bouncing footballs off it etc.

So, yesterday afternoon I sallied forth to pick up 'The Osprey'; so named because I have a bit of a strange bird theme going on with my E36s (The Bluetit, The Magpie and The Rook - Avus 318ti, Cosmos 328is and 318ic respectively). "Why Osprey?"I hear you not-asking yourself? Well, being Meergrün (aka Sea Green or Sea Foam in the US apparently), and seeing how the only other majestic sea bird I could think of was an albatross, which is not really a good thing to name things after as they can be something of a bad omen, it just seemed right.

Here is the first picture from the advert that caught my eye. Looks clean! At first I wasn't really sure about the colour, but it rapidly grew on me. Those wheels will have to go, though,they're really not doing the overall look any favours!



Build date November 1998 ( S-reg). Interior is black leather with light grey headlining.

Overall the car was fairly tidy, a couple of cosmetic blemishes which I'll come to in a bit, but the most important thing is that a fairly sprightly test drive revealed a car with everything feeling nice and tight, no bumps or rattles... hell, even the door cards are stuck in pretty well. Gear shift nice, clutch nice, steering nice (plus points for M3 steering wheel!). Leather interior in very good shape, minimal wear to driver's bolster, back seats look barely sat in. However, one of the nicest things about the test drive is that the previous owner favoured EXACTLY my driving position. It's the first time I've ever got behind the wheel of an E36 - no, in fact any car - someone else has been driving and not needed to adjust the seat/mirrors/wheel. This obviously made me feel right at home, and after a 20 minute thrash round a few choice Wiltshire back roads, I decided to take the plunge.

The 90 mile A-road drive home was most enjoyable with plenty of fast twisties and minimal traffic to get in my way.After driving a 328i Sport for nearly a year I knew what to expect in terms of power delivery and speed and The Osprey certainly feels no different. Maybe better as the suspension feels a lot fresher than on my outgoing car.

So here's my first pictures of The Osprey - and like an idiot I'd forgotten I'd set the white balance for firelight a few weeks ago, so the colours are all washed out!




So regarding the blemishes - the car looked pretty mint on the advert but at that price I was expecting it to have a couple of marks, and sure enough, closer inspection showed up one or two imperfections - visible, but still well within the bounds of acceptability at this price point. Although the rear arches are pretty much fine, there's a very small pea-sized bubble starting above one of the arches, a larger scab further down the rear wing towards the tail end of the car and a couple of small but rather poorly-repaired patches on the corner of the boot lid and driver's door. There's also a couple of small bubbles round the windscreen where stone chips have been left to fester.

Intervention will be needed fairly soon if the car's to stay looking as clean as it does now. However I am well aware that it is fairly pointless paying a premium for a complete minter when I don't have a garage and expect to do at least 10k miles in her this year, and this is still the tidiest example I've seen within my budget recently.

Here's the worst of the rust. Typically it's also when I realised the camera was incorrectly set, but by then I had to move the car and couldn't take any other pictures...





So far I'm happy with my purchase and feel like I got a good deal. Once my wallet recovers from the shock of the initial purchase my plans are as follows:

1 - Anti-rust treatment and waxoyl/underseal
2 - Debaffle airbox
3 - Gentle lowering on good quality springs
4 - Wheels - looking for something fairly OEM and with a bit of dish/lip - I'm open to suggestions but want to steer clear of M3 wheels, E46 wheels or excessively blingy things. 17" max, nice and wide, although I'd prefer to leave the arches unmolested if at all possible.
5 - Clear corners - normally I prefer Ambers but I think a classic silver or a smoked look would be best with this shade of green
6 - the usual 328i engine fettling (BBTB, M50 Manifold, exhaust, induction, remap etc)
7 - Z3M Short Shift

and that will be it (probably!)

Anyway, I'll keep this thread updated, more pics to come soon... cheers!

Edited by vsonix on Thursday 20th September 00:04

NiceCupOfTea

24,523 posts

174 months

Wednesday 19th September 2012
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I do like these. Gave up looking for a decent 328 coupe a year or so ago though, very few are around that aren't sheds. Very close to buying one but turned out to have a Niksil engine. Still tempted by a 328 Touring.

spaceship

710 posts

98 months

Wednesday 19th September 2012
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Looks smart.

Will keep an eye on this thread.

Honestherbert

460 posts

70 months

Wednesday 19th September 2012
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style 5's fit your wheel requirements perfectly. And are the best wheels for an e36 period imo.

vsonix

Original Poster:

2,677 posts

86 months

Wednesday 19th September 2012
quotequote all
NiceCupOfTea said:
I do like these. Gave up looking for a decent 328 coupe a year or so ago though, very few are around that aren't sheds. Very close to buying one but turned out to have a Niksil engine. Still tempted by a 328 Touring.
Actually there are still a few decent Tourings about, and if I couldn't find a 328i coupe I liked, I would most probably go down the 323i route; there are more clean ones knocking around, and a late model with the M50 manifold and throttle body conversion, is still a very attractive prospect for a swift road car that handles well. I did consider an E46 328i as there are a few decent-looking ones around for similar money, but my mechanic loaned me one once while my 318ti was in the shop and I actually found it a rather heavy, sluggish car and no better then the E46 320i we had at the time, especially with the early E46 steering rack.


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vsonix

Original Poster:

2,677 posts

86 months

Thursday 20th September 2012
quotequote all
Honestherbert said:
style 5's fit your wheel requirements perfectly. And are the best wheels for an e36 period imo.
Yeah they're definitely on the short list, they just seem like such an obvious choice sometimes. I am quite liking the idea of some Style 32, possibly refinished in a darker silver and maybe run without center caps. But I have yet to own classic BBS mesh on an E36 which is probably one of those things I should do before I die... laugh

rossi1

764 posts

125 months

Thursday 20th September 2012
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Lovely to see another E36 being saved smile Not many at all on the roads now days but the good ones are still out there.

Being a member of a good few E36 forums I see the ones that are still out there are kept to a very high standard, I got the E36 bug years ago,Think I have replaced nearly every bush and bolt underneath along with a number of other things that would take me a good while to list smile

Love these cars,drive and hold the road perfectly.
With minor fettling these cars come alive and i just cant let myself move on to somthing newer,suppose iv got a sort of attachment to this car now lol smile

Regarding the wheels, I would`nt do the style 5 route,gets done by every other e36 owner now days.
If you can find a nice Set of the original BBS RC`s in staggered figment then your laughing.

Look forward to seeing the work done smile

Just a couple of mine smile



vsonix

Original Poster:

2,677 posts

86 months

Thursday 20th September 2012
quotequote all
Nice, I saw an Avus (pretty much my fave E36 colour) Sport up for sale recently that I would have bitten the vendor's hand off to buy but unfortunately it sold before I could even get up to see it.

Actually I would prefer Style 5 over RCs; I'm not a huge fan of the spoke pattern of the RC, and also I don't really want a 'Sport' design on a non-Sport, same as I am avoiding the M3 look this time around. Especially if I end up removing the amber corners and putting clears on - I suppose the look I am going for is SE Plus?

rossi1

764 posts

125 months

Thursday 20th September 2012
quotequote all
Fair points smile
Don`t get me wrong, I do like the Style 5`s though smile

By the way I haven't seen many in that colour, really does suit the E36 smile Will look pretty tidy on style 5`s.

vsonix

Original Poster:

2,677 posts

86 months

Thursday 20th September 2012
quotequote all
You're right,it is a rare colour on E36, although funnily enough, not 'individual'. It was an E46 launch colour, and I suppose because of the overlap wityh E46 saloons and E36 coupes, some were made in some of the E46 colours. I've seen it on one or two early model E46 saloons, but on E36, it's like hen's teeth! I decided to look on Google images to see what choices others had made vis a vis wheels, I think I found a total of maybe three cars, A touring and a coupé on here, and another touring on Driftworks, rocking Contours, Sunflowers and BBS RK respectively. At first I wondered if it might not be something of an'old man'colour, but then after I thought about it a bit, I realised that after couple of small visual tweaks I would end up with a fairly unique and (tastefully) individual car. I also figure the unusual colour will probably polarise opinion and provoke discussion a bit more than sticking with good old black or blue... which may or may not be a good thing.

Edited by vsonix on Thursday 20th September 15:53

vsonix

Original Poster:

2,677 posts

86 months

Thursday 20th September 2012
quotequote all
So, I've already done a few bits to the car today and worked on my 'to do' list a bit...

First up I replaced the aftermarket Panasonic head unit with my trusty Alpine CD112 (or is it 113, I can't remember), veteran of my 318ti and 328i Sport, so now in its third vehicle. I think I paid around £120 for this, brand new and installed, it's been great VFM.

The Panasonic head unit is OK and plays Data CDs without a hitch but the sound seemed a little flat and 'boxy' with wooly midrange and not much bottom end. I know the sound systems aren't all that great on the E36 but I know from experience the head unit makes all the difference - when I first got the Alpine and replaced the standard BMW Business radio/cassette in my Compact, the difference was pronounced. Sure, it still wasn't rattling the windows with bass, but it did transform the sound system from barely acceptable to 'useable'. The Alpine doesn't exactly look OEM but it is closer than the Panasonic's ugly gunmetal grey plastic, and the backlight can be set to an orange colour similar to the rest of the instrumentation. It doesn't really look like it in this picture but in the dark it's acceptable.

The other bonus is that the Alpine has an iphone/ipod cable enabling MP3 browsing from the head unit. I also run TomTom software on the iphone and it's great that the app lowers the volume of the music when giving you directions so you don't miss anything. The cable looks a bit untidy but if need be can be fed back up inside the dash - I like to leave it long so I can put the iphone in its dashboard cradle, but it's nice to know it can be 'retracted' if need be. It also has a USB port on the front, which I can use to charge my Bluetooth earpiece. At some point I may also add the Parrot handsfree module but in all honesty I prefer to just pull over to make calls so only if I see one going cheap. Ultimately I'd love that kind of functionality whilst retaining the OEM look of the original head unit, but short of winning the lotto, the liklihood is slim of that ever happening!


Straight away the difference was remarkable. Although nominally the same output as the Panasonic (4x50 watt) the sound from the Alpine was richer, clearer, deeper and a fair bit louder too. In fact, the sound quality was better than in my '97 Sport using the same unit, so I took a little look at the speakers.



Looking at the back ones, they are also made by Nokia as were the ones in my Sport, however these ones have covered rears which the last one didn't. It also looks like the component speakers in the doors are rather better quality than before. and the lower-mid coming from the kick-panel speakers was definitely stronger. I do like my music when driving but I'm not one for having it massively loud so I'm quite happy with the current setup for now and doubt I'll be making any big audio spends any time soon. The Panasonic head unit will go into the 'vert to replace the LIDL own-brand POS that lurks there currently.

Next up I gave all the leather a good coating in Auto Glym leather balm. I have a whole bottle of the genuine BMW leather balm but the Auto Glym stuff smells like that premium leather smell when you walk into shops selling expensive jackets and suitcases. I felt like Ron Burgundy when he said he felt important because his apartment smelled of 'rich mahogany'. I was also a little bit disturbed to catch myself muttering "it rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again" over and over under my breath as I massaged the product into the headrests...

Aso you can see, the interior's in pretty good shape, there's hardly any wear on the bolsters to the extent I'll probably wait for it to get worse before I bother trying to improve it.



The back seat looks barely sat in...



Whilst prodding around inside I tried to refit the sagging passenger footwell trim - result - it fell out completely. Looking at it, it's a bit mangled so I took it out and will replace it with another from the breaker's.



I also attached my 'SW BMW Owners Group' decal. I actually designed these myself for the local club so I am quite pleased with my handiwork - it's the first time I've ever designed a sticker, and I must admit I am quite chuffed that lots of cars in the area have something I designed stuck to them! Although with hindsight where I placed it makes it fairly invisible from behind - I should have put it in the rear quarter-light window instead. Oh well.



I also noticed a couple of other exterior things that will need putting right - the mirrors will need the bases re-painted as they have been stripped but not sanded/primed/repainted and look a bit rough:



and there is a strange bulge in the valance on the rear bumper - I wonder what caused that?



I will also need a new gear-knob pretty swiftly as the current one is really rather mangled, is loose/wobbly and doesn't look original.

And here's another pic of her looking nice...



So, next jobs:

  • Replace gear knob
  • replace OBC bulb - they were all working when I took it out to fit the iPod cable, but now one is dead. Annoying because getting the OBC out is always a PITA.
  • replace faulty bulb in instrument cluster behind the mileometer
  • replace faulty bulb behind headlamp selector knob
  • re-colour the rather horrible lilac-coloured parcel shelf to black
  • fix that bit of trim you can see is out of place inside rear quarterlight (visible in one of the interior pics above)
I am also thinking of upgrading to full 18-button OBC or at very least the 8-button one with the external temperature gauge. I'm hoping because this is a late model car it will be an easier swap than on an older vehicle - hopefully it will be prewired for most of the other missing functions.

Also there's no centre armrest - I do like having it there on long journeys - so I might try and get one of those in there as well...



Edited by vsonix on Thursday 20th September 20:43

vsonix

Original Poster:

2,677 posts

86 months

Saturday 22nd September 2012
quotequote all
Found myself some wheels that I think will compliment the car nicely - Hartge 11-spokes, 17", 8.5J ET40 all round.



They satisfy my desire for something multi-spoke that isn't as overdone/cliché as Alpinas whilst keeping a clean, fairly OEM look.

NiceCupOfTea

24,523 posts

174 months

Sunday 23rd September 2012
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IIRC if it has check control the OBC is plug and play. When I was looking into buying my dad's convertible off him I discovered retrofitting check control is a real ballache - ie not worthwhile.

VinceFox

20,298 posts

95 months

Sunday 23rd September 2012
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Good looking car, nice colour and not too buggered about with. Look forward to seeing it with haartges on it smile

vsonix

Original Poster:

2,677 posts

86 months

Sunday 23rd September 2012
quotequote all
NiceCupOfTea said:
IIRC if it has check control the OBC is plug and play. When I was looking into buying my dad's convertible off him I discovered retrofitting check control is a real ballache - ie not worthwhile.
Ah that is good to hear; I miss the exterior temperature function most of all, but also the 18-button OBC is a symbol of fantastically overcomplicated awesomeness, in a way that a MKI i-drive never will be!

vsonix

Original Poster:

2,677 posts

86 months

Sunday 23rd September 2012
quotequote all
VinceFox said:
Good looking car, nice colour and not too buggered about with. Look forward to seeing it with haartges on it smile
Cheers Vince, I'm looking forward to it too. The E36 was as far as I can tell, designed with 17" or at least 16" in mind and IMO looks a little ungainly on those 15".

Initial photoshop mock-up looks promising!
....although obviously the colour is a bit distorted due to my photographic non-genius...

Hopefully there will be no buggering about under my ownership! The M50 manifold treatment is about as far as I'll take it I think.

VinceFox

20,298 posts

95 months

Sunday 23rd September 2012
quotequote all
vsonix said:
VinceFox said:
Good looking car, nice colour and not too buggered about with. Look forward to seeing it with haartges on it smile
Cheers Vince, I'm looking forward to it too. The E36 was as far as I can tell, designed with 17" or at least 16" in mind and IMO looks a little ungainly on those 15".

Initial photoshop mock-up looks promising!
....although obviously the colour is a bit distorted due to my photographic non-genius...

Hopefully there will be no buggering about under my ownership! The M50 manifold treatment is about as far as I'll take it I think.
Yeah, that gives you a good idea, think it'll look dead smart.

You probly know this, but i'd check it doesnt have a cdv as well next time youre under it.

vsonix

Original Poster:

2,677 posts

86 months

Sunday 23rd September 2012
quotequote all
you know, I've always told myself I'll try a CDV delete at some point but then I just got used to being really gradual with the clutch... I'm just worried if I get used to it not being there, if I drive a car with it still installed I'll get irritated/annoyed every time I change gear, or something... ...but also I heard it can hasten the demise of an ageing clutch. I'm sure I read somewhere that BMW used it to protect the drivetrain although possibly only protecting it from the grossly cack-handed (or cack-footed?), I'm not sure.

Edited by vsonix on Sunday 23 September 19:12

VinceFox

20,298 posts

95 months

Sunday 23rd September 2012
quotequote all
vsonix said:
you know, I've always told myself I'll try a CDV delete at some point but then I just got used to being really gradual with the clutch... I'm just worried if I get used to it not being there, if I drive a car with it still installed I'll get irritated/annoyed every time I change gear, or something...
Had a 328 before my evo and it made a huge difference taking it off. I'd really recommend it!

dragonheart

441 posts

105 months

Sunday 23rd September 2012
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Lovely looking motor. Excuse me for asking, but was this an Ebay purchase? looks suspiciously like the one i had a watch on.