BMW 328i Restoration Project

3-Series | April 27th, 2015 by 6
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As I’ve mentioned here multiple times before, I own a 1996 E36 328i sedan. I will have had it eight years in November and it …

As I’ve mentioned here multiple times before, I own a 1996 E36 328i sedan. I will have had it eight years in November and it has been my baby every since. My particular 328i is Arctic Silver with black leather interior and has a 4-Speed automatic. I wanted a manual, but at 17 years old, I wanted girls more and I thought a BMW would help so I bought the only one I could afford.

It also rides on 17 inch E46 wheels, has Bilstein Touring shocks and stock springs. I absolutely love the car and even after driving supercars with six-figure price tags, it still makes me smile.

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I’ve since moved on from it as my daily, as it was becoming too unreliable. Not that the car itself is unreliable, but when it has 240,xxx miles on it and is driven 100 miles daily, things start to go wrong. It’s also hard finding the time to fix certain issues, as they may be grueling and take more than one day, when it was my daily. I couldn’t start certain repairs because I knew it would take me a few days and I need to get to work somehow. So despite it being a beloved possession of mine, I needed to get a new daily in order to restore it.

Now that it is my second car, my weekend project, I intend to restore it as much as I can and modify it a bit. The car needs much work before any fun modifications are done, however. The laundry list of things wrong with my E36 is longer than the option list the car came with. Where to start? There’s an unknown cause of overheating that, despite replacing many parts (radiator, water pump, thermostat and fan clutch) will not cease. It could be a head gasket, but the car suffers no other symptoms of such, no white smoke, no loss in power, no coolant in the oil. So it will take some serious digging to find and resolve the issue. Though, now I can do it at my own pace and not worry about relying on it.

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The heat doesn’t work, and a leaky heater core is also my suspected overheating culprit, so fixing it should kill two birds with one stone. The A/C also doesn’t work. Neither do both front window regulators and front door locks. Oh, and the driver’s side door handle broke as well. Aside from those issues, which seem almost endless, the engine pulls beautifully and makes a wonderful noise doing it. Until it overheats, that is. The steering is spot-on accurate and has some of the best feel I’ve ever felt. The entire front end is new, as well as the shocks and brakes. So driving it is a smile-inducing experience.

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I can’t wait to get her back on the road again, without issue. Aside from fixing all of her ailments, I plan on doing some upgrading and modifying as well. Nothing too crazy, i like to keep things pretty stock. But I’d like to put a new Bilstein Sport suspension on and lower it maybe an inch. In New Jersey, too low of suspension ends up being unbearable. So just enough to hide most of the wheel arch gap. I’d like to replace all of the suspension bushings with polymer ones, for the added feel and performance. In the future, a 5-Speed ZF Manual swap will be done, as well as an addition of the limited-slip diff from the 328is.

When it’s all said and done, she should be back up and running again, better than ever. I can’t wait for the day that I can take her out on a Sunday morning, roll the windows down, take a corner hard and hear that straight-six roar. It may take awhile, but the wait and work will be well worth it.

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