RE: Shed of the Week: BMW 328

RE: Shed of the Week: BMW 328

Friday 12th October

Shed of the Week: BMW 328i

For under £1,500 this E36 could be the perfect base for a track project. Or it could not



Who here doesn't love big power? If you put your hand up just then, please stop reading this and surrender your PH badge on the way out. Thank you.

Right, now that they've gone, let's talk about this BMW 328. You may not consider 190hp to be big, but when it's shoved into a small and light E36 3 Series it's more than enough to shift you along at a very handy rate.

In Shed's view, the potential of powerful engines in relatively small cars has never been properly exploited. Not many people know this, but in the bright optimism of post-war Britain our own motor industry dabbled in this sort of thing. Who, from those who knew about them, will ever forget the Austin A75, an A35 powered by a big-block Chevy 454 motor, or the Armstrong-Siddeley Chuffmaster, which used one-half of a blown 18-cylinder Napier Deltic engine from the Class 55 diesel locomotive?


The 328 was never quite up there with these fine examples of British engineering, but to its great credit it did come with the distinct advantage of not blowing up every fifty yards. The E36 version was only on offer for three years, from 1995 to 1998. That, plus the manual gearboxed version's suitability for motorsport - well, drifting anyway - has turned the E36 328 manual into a rare bird. We've not had one in SOTW for the last six years at least.

A 328 isn't just about wasting rubber on a car park or airfield though. A well sorted E36 328 will show its pedigree in a highly credible fashion on a challenging track like the Nurburgring. Here's a vid of our old mate Dale Lomas having no bother keeping up with an M3 there about five years ago - and perhaps even more impressively, here's Dale driving the 328 away from the Ring on heavily snowed-up roads. RWD no good in bad weather? Pish and tush!

This 328 looks good. It's remarkably original, right down to its chrome grille and ten-spoke alloys. The vendor tells us of some TLC being required. He isn't specific about it, but the pics show no obvious faults. Looking at the F-Type in his garage you get the feeling that maybe his standards are a bit higher than those of the average Shedman.


Unmodded 328s don't have lightning fast throttle response, and the inlet manifold is a little stifled (Shed thinks an M5 one might fit?), but even as it stands the M52 2.8's torque (210lb ft at 3,950rpm) combined with its willingness to rev makes it one of the best engines ever. If the clutch and flywheel need replacing, going for M3 items is a worthwhile mod, or you could go for a solid flywheel conversion. Bung on the LSD from a 328i Sport and you'll be laughing all the way to the trackday.

There are some areas of concern with an E36, as there will be with any 20-year-old car. One is specific to pre-1998 E36s though (including the M52), namely the Nikasil-block engines which as you know were not best known for their reliability. The bores would be worn away by the sulphur that was present in a lot of UK petrol at the time, resulting in bad starting, high oil consumption and poor running. Twenty years on, the assumption is that most if not all Nikasil BMWs will have had steel-lined blocks fitted by now, and if they haven't, that's because they've somehow avoided the wear problem - which does happen.

Cooling system problems are the big danger on these cars. Ignore faulty radiator hoses at your peril, keep your eye on the thermostat housing and expansion tank, and bin the water pump if it's of the plastic impeller variety. M52 misfires mean that a coil has most likely gone. Window motors are known for burning out, the instrument panel electronics don't last forever, and the suspension takes a right old beating.


That final point brings us to this car, and the particular areas that are going to need addressing in the not too distant future. The MOT advisories tell of a generally worn front end that will need re-bushing and maybe a ball joint or two that will need, er, re-balling. All four tyres were low at the time of the test (June) so you'll need to budget for that, along with some new brake pipes.

The good news is that you've got no turbo to worry about here. The even better news is that many E36 parts are surprisingly affordable. As an everyday running proposition you benefit from 'big motor in light car' syndrome: if you stroke it along on a run, you really can get mpg figures in the high-30s, maybe even the low 40s. It'll drop to nearly half that in town, mind.

This Shed is no bargain-basement offering at £1,495, especially with the work that it will need, but what you're paying for here is originality and low miles - attributes not often found individually in E36s nowadays, let alone together in one car. Lovely.

Here's the ad.

Author
Discussion

aarondbs

Original Poster:

624 posts

82 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
Great shed and manual 328i feels like it would be a great drive. I’ve never driven an E36 but had a E39 and Z3 over the years. Let’s hope it doesn’t end up drifting if that is that still a thing although I don’t feel sad bad if it becomes someone’s weekend track car. Drifting somehow feels a less worthy pursuit!

I seem to have a vague memory that the inlet manifold from a 325i was the one to have??

Edited by aarondbs on Friday 12th October 06:17

Hellbound

2,334 posts

112 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
Would certainly make a decent track car if those rear seats are fixed. If they are it's meant to be stiffer than the coupe (I've owned both the coupe and saloon and the five door felt stiffer and better planted although it did also feel bigger and less communicative).

Patrick1964

533 posts

167 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
I recognise the images of this car, has it been in “readers cars”?

Limpet

3,137 posts

97 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
My neighbour ran an almost identical one of these as a daily until last year. It always sounded superb as it came past the house. Good shed. Looks like one worth preserving rather than turning into a drift or track slag.


SidewaysSi

4,829 posts

170 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
Wow that is cheap! Buy it, spend a few grand on it with some choice modifications and you will have a cracking driver's car.

I really enjoy driving mine despite it sharing garage space with a couple of far more focused machines.

Brilliant things and worth all the money and more IMO.

I have often thought about an E46 M3 but against my car in its current spec, the M car is far less fun. And a lot more expensive to buy and run.

My heavily modified 328 which is the fun family car:



Edited by SidewaysSi on Friday 12th October 07:24

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Filibuster

1,127 posts

151 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
What a great shed indeed!!!! woohoo


aarondbs said:
I seem to have a vague memory that the inlet manifold from a 325i was the one to have??
Isn't it the other way around? I recall that a friend of mine fitted a 328 manifold on his 325 as this was one of the few differences between the two models.


SidewaysSi said:
Wow that is cheap! Buy it, spend a few grand on it with some choice modifications and you will have a cracking driver's car.

I really enjoy driving mine despite it sharing garage space with a couple of far more focused machines.

Brilliant things and worth all the money and more IMO.

I have often thought about an E46 M3 but against my car in its current spec, the M car is far less fun. And a lot more expensive to buy and run.

My heavily modified 328 which is the fun family car:



Edited by SidewaysSi on Friday 12th October 07:24
Do you have a build thread of this??? I'd love to see more!

SidewaysSi

4,829 posts

170 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
Filibuster said:
What a great shed indeed!!!! woohoo


aarondbs said:
I seem to have a vague memory that the inlet manifold from a 325i was the one to have??
Isn't it the other way around? I recall that a friend of mine fitted a 328 manifold on his 325 as this was one of the few differences between the two models.


SidewaysSi said:
Wow that is cheap! Buy it, spend a few grand on it with some choice modifications and you will have a cracking driver's car.

I really enjoy driving mine despite it sharing garage space with a couple of far more focused machines.

Brilliant things and worth all the money and more IMO.

I have often thought about an E46 M3 but against my car in its current spec, the M car is far less fun. And a lot more expensive to buy and run.

My heavily modified 328 which is the fun family car:



Edited by SidewaysSi on Friday 12th October 07:24
Do you have a build thread of this??? I'd love to see more!
Thanks - I don't I'm afraid but have the following which has transformed it into a sharp, agile and great fun road car:

-Rebuilt Z3 rack
-M3 bushes
-E30 arms
-Bilstein B12 kit
-Eibach adjustable ARBs
-Vibratechnics engine mounts
-Upgraded pads and super blue fluid
-Upgraded rad and cooling system
-X brace

Need to find someone to upgrade the inlet manifold /engine as M50s are hard to find. Also could do with a Quaife LSD, lightweight flywheel, shortshift etc.

Good fun!!

g3org3y

12,812 posts

127 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
Good shed. cool [/biased]

Manual box + full 18 button OBC + climate + leather = the correct spec. Looks very original too, nice to see OEM alloys and amber indicators.

It's always claimed the saloon is the one to have for track work as it's stiffer owing to the lack of folding rear seats and metal panel behind.

IMO now at >20 years old + 111k miles, despite this being a Nikasil block (no mention if of it being changed in the advert) I think the chance of failure/encountering any issues is low.

Engine is otherwise solid, feels quite lazy when driving (especially compared to the earlier 325i) but is deceptively quick. As mentioned in the article, watch the cooling system. Would be prudent to budget a refresh.

Mine is currently on a reasonable figure:


Rust is a big killer on these, watch the arches, the sills, around the boot and under the battery.

Otherwise really great car and although 'old' can be used as a daily with no issues and very easy to work on yourself.

Filibuster said:
What a great shed indeed!!!! woohoo
aarondbs said:
I seem to have a vague memory that the inlet manifold from a 325i was the one to have??
Isn't it the other way around? I recall that a friend of mine fitted a 328 manifold on his 325 as this was one of the few differences between the two models.
Manifold from the M50 engined 325i is larger and a common upgrade for the 328i as it opens up the top end (though claimed at the expense of some low down torque).

Edited by g3org3y on Friday 12th October 10:32

texaxile

1,963 posts

86 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
If that was local to me I'd snap it up in a heartbeat.

Looks to have been well cared for without the usual tinted windows, aftermarket alloys and fag burns on the seats.

Apart from a bit of a thirst, chuck a few quid fettling it into shape, run it as a daily for a few years and enjoy a great bit of shedding.

Dannbodge

1,453 posts

57 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
Loved my E36. Such a good car with a few decent mods and plenty fast enough, although the noise with a decent exhaust system is incredible.

yonex

12,680 posts

104 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
That’s awesome

J4CKO

25,795 posts

136 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
Makes me nostalgic, my MIL used to have a 320i in a similar spec and loved nicking that.

I think the time has come to perhaps realise that they are getting a bit thin on t he ground and perhaps stop stripping them out as a track/drift car, this looks nice and original and is a good spec, seems a shame to ruin it now its made it this far, five years we will be questioning the logic of binning them hand over fist.


croyde

14,969 posts

166 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
Mines a 323 e36. Bought it in 1998 at 6 months old and it's still my daily.

Love driving it. Looks far more knackered than this example but I only spend money on keeping engine, tyres, suspension etc up to scratch.

Body work covered in bumps, scrapes and keying from London living.

Not sure about cheap parts though. Power steering pump went last year. Only BMW had an original Bosch and they wanted 500 quid for it.

I shied away from the cheap Chinese copies. Luckily a refurbished Bosch came up on eBay for 80 quid but that was after a month of looking.

In 20 years I have replaced the battery once and the springs a few times.

Very little rust and so far, it's never let me down.

Here's to another 20 years as long as Mayor Khan doesn't force me to sell it.

JakeT

2,165 posts

56 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
Wow is it 2010 again!? Blast from the past shed this time.

Love an E36, moreso with the big six in it. It'd make a lovely daily, almost a shame to turn it into a track car now.

TryingHard

336 posts

167 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
Great shed - my first “performance” car.

Spent every penny I had on an Avus Blue 328i Sport coupe then found out about the nikasil issue two weeks later. Booked to BMW and promptly failed the test at around 90k and 6 years old. BMW replaced the block for free and I loved it.

Went on to have two further 328s, another coupe and a shed 328 touring.


cerb4.5lee

10,487 posts

116 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
Always been a big fan of these, I used to always lose against them at the traffic light grand prix in my Xr4x4...I'd always get off the line first, but by the time I'd got into second gear they would pull away into the distance! frown

Great shed. cool

daveco

3,606 posts

143 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
These are still relatively quick by today's standards;

0-60: 6.8
0-100: 17
1/4: 14.7 seconds

s m

16,951 posts

139 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
daveco said:
These are still relatively quick by today's standards;

0-60: 6.8
0-100: 17
1/4: 14.7 seconds
AutoCar even managed 6.1 in the Touring with spindly 205s on



g3org3y

12,812 posts

127 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
s m said:
daveco said:
These are still relatively quick by today's standards;

0-60: 6.8
0-100: 17
1/4: 14.7 seconds
AutoCar even managed 6.1 in the Touring with spindly 205s on
That's because the Touring is the best. biggrin

rossub

1,890 posts

126 months

Friday 12th October
quotequote all
Someone please save that from track car destruction frown