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Between the sale of the BMW, the Prelude and GRU, and the purchase of the new daily Fit, I had some cash left over. I held onto this for a bit but eventually the hole in my pocket burnt right through and the money needed to be turned into powerz.

I had been watching this M3 for a while on Trademe. It was an early E36 3.0L 5 speed model with the S50B30 engine, producing about 282hp factory. It appeared tidy and was being sold by an older gentleman. I got in touch with him and everything he said was checking out. He had looked after it well, making sure it was well maintained and he had a folder of service history to go with it.

The only catch was that once again it was in Auckland. After the troubles I had in the past buying sight unseen I decided to enlist the help of a friend in Auckland that owns a very tasty E46 M3, so has some familiarity with the BMW “features”. He was an amazing help, going and viewing the M3 on my behalf. He met with the owner, took plenty of photos, and gave me a damn good write-up. Looks like someone is as pedantic as me after all.

So before I got the car I knew it had a few minor issues, but overall it seemed solid. I paid the man, and booked the truck.

It arrived at work and as soon as I saw it I instantly had that dread again, “what have I done?!”. It was filthy from its travels, and getting into it felt old and things rattled when I shut the door. I turned the key, and as quick as that thought popped into my head, it was gone even quicker. As soon as I heard the engine come to life, I was sold. I drove it into the carpark at work and left it until after work.

A fairly uneventful drive home, sure it had some rattles, there was an engine noise at about 1800rpm, and some other small things, but damn it pulled like a schoolboy. It was an endless wave of torque, only interrupted by the rev limiter.

Once home I gave it a thorough going over. Amazingly there were very few surprises that I wasn’t told before I purchased. The fog lights were visually stuffed (looked like they had burnt lenses), and fuel flap didn’t shut, the front lip was stuffed, the paint was dull, the heater and AC didn’t work, and it just needed a good general clean up. The owner even disclosed many years ago that the car had the front end panels replaced due to a couple of minor fender benders. He was a total legend.

The first in the firing line was the fog lamps and fuel flap. As it turned out the fog lamps actually had a clear rubber lens protector on them, and the adhesive had burnt and caused the discolouring. Some heat, and some deSolvit and I had a pair of perfect fog lamps (ironically the covers had done their job, the lenses were as new). The fuel flap issue was solved by removing the spring, flipping it over and refitting.

Next up was a quick claybar, machine polish and wax. The paint came up really well after this. Much improved.

Next on the hit list was the heater. I knew it only went cold, no matter what it was set to. I ordered a used heater valve, and went onto fitting it. Easy enough to do, and that’s listed elsewhere on the site. Here.

Once I was satisfied with how it looked I turned to the performance. The car had a rattle from the engine on startup and a weird noise at about 1800rpm. I knew from previous experience the startup rattle would be vanos, but wasn’t sure about the other one. I ordered a vanos kit from online, and as you can see in the Projects section, I rebuild the vanos system. The startup rattle was gone, power was improved, but the 1800rpm noise was still there.

I was very limited on time with the vanos rebuild as shortly after I completed that I had entered the car in a Dyno day. Thankfully I got the car ready in time, and it got a couple of runs on the dyno. It made a VERY good 179kw atw, which is about 240hp at the wheels.

So it went hard, and the health of the engine was proven on the dyno. I was stoked.

Somewhere in there I did an oil change on the engine, trans and diff. The differential really needed it; it had the wrong fluid in it and as it was a plate type diff it was noisy when turning. New, correct oil fixed that and it was silent.

I added some totes not legit euro plates

Cleaned the steering wheel leather and ///M stitching (the stitching is one of the coolest things about MSport BMWs)

The 1800rpm rattle turned out to be the original timing chain tensioner getting weak. A common replacement is to fit the tensioner from the S50B32, so that’s what I did, and no more rattle.

It made great noises from the exhaust

So I had a lot of fun with this car, and it did me well. I sold it to a chap in Auckland who last I heard, was also enjoying ownership.

Update – 15/12/20 listed for sale on Trademe. Now has polished Style 24 wheels, and a big list of work done. Been well looked after, but asking a cool $32,500 for it, over $19k more than I sold it for.


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