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      06-06-2010, 01:29 PM   #1
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Any reason to restore a 95' 3-Series?

The Car: 1996 BMW 318i sedan. 210~k miles. All electrical/mechanical functions were a go the last time it drove. Car interior was abused and dismantled for a stereo install. Dashboard has miraculously survived without a scratch. The stereo install failed and the car has sat idle for nearly two years as a result of the failure and a bad breakup. Car will not begin to crank at the current date. Starter is suspected but I'm open to options.

Black widows and wasps have taken over most of the car. I believe a chipmunk (saw several) has used seat stuffing to build a nest in the engine bay as you can see in the video. However, the car does NOT smell bad. It actually smells like cloth seats.

Fore note: This is the first BMW I ever drove. The feeling stuck with me 11 years and was the main reason I bought my 335i. I would love to see it restored more for that reason than any.

The Plan: My cousin is offering me the car for $500. I have $3,000 prepared for the repairs with an extra $2,500 in reserve just in case. I have begun chats with shops around my area to redo the interior with pleather for under $1,500 total. I am working with my cousin's husband, a BMW assembly line worker. I am also working with my Chevy certified owns-a-booming-mechanic-shop friend to help with repairs.

Pictures: http://brentseay.com/gallery.php

The Video: (My 335i makes a cameo at 1:55 haha)


Last edited by brentseay; 06-10-2010 at 09:55 PM.
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      06-06-2010, 01:56 PM   #2
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i say go for it. what do u have to loose
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      06-06-2010, 07:57 PM   #3
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Unless it is the ti version (hatchback) then I would restore a 325i rather than a 318i. The E36 is a great chassis though.
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      06-06-2010, 09:48 PM   #4
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If you have the $$$ to do it then I say go for it. I'm sure it will be a fun second car to have once its done...
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      06-07-2010, 08:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brentseay View Post
My cousin has offered me her 95' 3-series sedan (not sure what number, maybe 318i). It has 200k+ miles. It's been sitting for a long time after all of her abuse forced her into a car without problems. I hate seeing it sit there being covered by leaves.

Is it time to let it go? Or would it be a good project/worth it to slowly restore it as a second BMW?
If you have the time/money/skills, you should take it and swap something cool in, like an LS1. The M42 in the 318i is supposed to be a good motor, but at 200k its probably pretty tired. If the car is a manual, I'd just take it and beat on it for a while until it breaks, then rebuild it into something more better.

With all that said, I wouldn't take on a car project unless I had a good spot to work on it (well-lit garage), decent tools, decent mechanical ability, and TIME. I never seem to have enough time.
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      06-07-2010, 09:47 AM   #6
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Depends what sort of shape its in. If the body work sucks, and it needs a new engine, just scrap it. If it just needs a polish, and some cleaning and new oil, with a few problems to be fixed go for it. Take a look at what needs to be done, come up with some good estimates on how much it would cost to do them, and then see how that compares to the going rate for a well sorted 95 318i.

Its not a special or unique car, so if it costs more to restore it then its worth, you shouldn't bother.
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      06-07-2010, 09:59 AM   #7
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MAJOR EDIT:
This is the first BMW I ever drove. The feeling has stuck with me 11 years later. I was finally able to get the perfect one I wanted. I would love to see it restored more for that reason than any.

Thanks for the replies/support guys. I took a look at the car and have more details but no pics yet. It's definitely not a special car. But it's just sitting there slowly rotting and I'd like to try and save it after seeing a few before/after on this site (not really a full restoration b4/after yet though).

The Semi-Good:
The car is definitely a 318i with no damage on the outside. The outside needs a major detailing but there's no dents/scratches, etc. Just lots of tree sap/similar filth and semi-flat tires. It has 220k miles. It ran great before it was parked for a few years. I didn't have the keys to crank it up but I'm imagining there's some damage from sitting. No repairs or wrecks.

The Definitely BAD:
The interior will have to be completely replaced. The door handles are missing, shift knob, stereo, one door panel, and the seats have been covered but the cover is so nasty I didn't want to look under them to see the horrible leather. I think the dash is the only thing salvageable in the inside. It's miraculously not damaged or cracked. Just extremely dirty and covered in spider webs.

The Price:
$600

I'm not sure how much a new interior would cost. I've been pricing out the parts that I know I'd need to replace like the door handles ($15) from partsgeek.com (only place I've looked so far). I would definitely be interested in performance replacement parts. Any engines that I should be on the lookout for, etc would be appreciated. The repair would be fun/informative.

Any help on the price of repairing "sitting damage" or replacing the interior would be cool to hear about. Also, what's the best place for older model BMW repair parts? Thanks guys!

Last edited by brentseay; 06-07-2010 at 10:16 AM.
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      06-07-2010, 10:09 AM   #8
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I'd check around some junkyards nearby to see if you can find a new interior in decent shape. If you can you'd probably be able to get all the bits you need without spending a fortune.
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      06-07-2010, 11:30 AM   #9
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Post some pictures and some better specs. The E36 was/is a great car. Depending on the shape it's in you may be able to make it into a great track car.
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      06-07-2010, 11:43 AM   #10
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Plan carefully. Make a detailed budget. Add 10%.

Then double it.

I am a great fan of projects, but go into it with open eyes. You are not going to come out ahead financially. In fact far from it. So make sure that you are motivated by other reasons (things like education and/or satisfaction from a job done well).

If you press on -- do not try to start it until you have the old gas out of it and have flushed the fuel lines.

Change the rubber brake lines before driving it on the road. This also means flushing the brake system.

Rubber parts and fluids are the immediate issues in a project like this, at least in my experience.
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      06-07-2010, 09:19 PM   #11
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I love the E36. Our old 1993 325i is now sitting in the driveway for 18months. After 289k miles, there were just too many random little things wrong. The biggest one being nuissance electronics with odd shorts throughout. While there were a lot of rolling improvements throughout the E36's life, I don't know if you may need a new electronics main wiring system. You should look for a late model, parts car. Escpecially if you wouldn't need an engine and need a good interior. The quality of the door panels was pretty bad on the E36.

It's an amazing chassis though. Probably the best handling BMW in recent memory. Better than my E90 for sure.
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      06-08-2010, 08:34 AM   #12
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Wait until you find out what wires the mice and squirles got! Time to send it to the grave.
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      06-08-2010, 11:34 AM   #13
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Wait until you find out what wires the mice and squirles got!
They got the wires to the fuel pump & gas gauge sender on my '93.
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      06-08-2010, 12:17 PM   #14
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      06-08-2010, 01:51 PM   #15
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      06-08-2010, 03:26 PM   #16
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YES, ANOTHER VOTE HERE FOR THE DETAILED BUDGET....

Since projects like this can become a black hole for money and time, I would be inclined to make some kind of system-by-system evaluation of the vehicle before deciding to go ahead.

Depending on your mechanical skills, you may need to spend a few bucks to mechanically evaluate the vehicle, but in the end, it could save you thousands in unplanned expenses. After the evaluation you may choose to start or pass on this project, but at least you will have made an informed decision.

Make out a list with some estimated costs.

For example , a list to include but not limited to:
1. Engine/Trasmission- check it out, or get it checked out. Basics + engine compression check, fuel injection system check, etc. What is the mechancial condition? What are the most expensive parts to fix/replace? How much will repairs cost? Parts? Labor?
2. Electrical System. Any problems? Can these problems be detected through the vehicle's computer diagonstics? What about the electricals for the instrumentation etc.? Cost? parts/labor?
3. Inspect/test as many other systems as possible (power window motors, winshield fluid reservoir pump, etc, etc.) Itemize any potential costs including labor if you're not doing the work yourself.
3. All Other- Make a list to include every part that appears to need replacing (seats, door handles, trim pieces, etc., etc) and find the cost for these parts including labor if you're not doing the work yourself. Add this cost to your master list of costs.
4. Research. Through forum postings and other, find out as much as you can about common mechanical failures for this vehicle's year/model. What does it cost to repair? Is it a problem(s) on this particular vehicle?
5. If you have performed a thorough evaluation, after you've tallied all the costs, add 20% to cover any unknown/unplanned expenses. If you've done a mediocre evaluation, then add 50% The less you know about the vehicle's condition, the more money you'll have to set aside for unknown/unplanned expenses.
Other factors:
In terms of schedule, when do you want to have the project completed? Estimate the number of hours it will take to perform all the work. Do you have the time? Is this how you want to spend your free-time in order to meet the schedule?
How much are you budgeting for this project? Is it enough to cover the costs? If you DO NOT have enough money, will delaying the schedule help? Should you delay the schedule? Is this how you want to spend your money?
Yes, these sound like really lame and unecessary questions, but if you don't answer them honestly, you may find yourself spending big money on a project that you wish you had not. I see this type of project-remorse-syndrome at my place of employment regularly for exactly these reasons - poor planning and lots of optimism.

Good luck, and remember do yourself a favor - be honest when evaluating the vehicle

Last edited by Revelation19; 06-08-2010 at 04:10 PM.
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      06-08-2010, 04:21 PM   #17
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The E36 is a great car. I talked my parents into buying a '98 328i in '98 and they still have it (the car drives like new, despite it's age, 145K miles).

In any event, I'd say let the 318i go. If you are fond of this vintage, go for a later 328i or 323i sedan or coupe. You know, the E36 M3s are also obtainable and will likely remind you of how hte 318i felt 11 years ago (before you had perspective).
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      06-09-2010, 09:36 AM   #18
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Sounds like a good project/donor car for autocross/track days/racing (though, yes, of course, the 325 would be preferred).
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      06-10-2010, 12:37 AM   #19
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Updated original post with youtube video. Will soon update with pictures of whatever you guys want to see up close. I have shots from every compartment and angle.

Please let me know if I should buy this for $500 and put a few grand into restoring it. Thanks for the replies so far

Brent
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      06-10-2010, 05:46 AM   #20
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Looking at the video I wouldn't do it. I'd bet you're gonna end up sinking alot more into it than its worth. An engine bay full of leaves is never a good sign. Plus if you're going to do a full on restro, I'd want to do it on a M3, or at least a 325i, or at the very least a car with a manual.

If you do go through with it check a junk yard for an interior, with some hunting you should be able to get an interior in good shape for significantly less than getting it all reupholstered, and it will be genuine leather. A well cared for leather seat will last for a long time, and would only require a bit of cleaning to get looking great.

Lastly if you can get ahold of it, there is a British show called Wheeler Dealers where they go out and buy a car (sometimes in this sort of shape) and restore it. Its very well done, and very informative. If you watch a bunch of the episodes you'll learn what things can end up costing a fortune to fix, and what things are cheap but labor intensive.
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      06-10-2010, 06:17 AM   #21
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You are better off buying a used one that is on the road.

http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.js...standard=false

http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.js...standard=false

At least you will be off to a better start, you know its working, and won't be as much as a gamble (and expense) especially if animals started eating the electrical wires on a car that has been sitting for years.
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If no codes are being thrown use Chevron Techron fuel injector cleaner (concentrate). It solves rpm fluctuating upon cold start-up. Also, for most BMW problems start off by scanning your car with the Peake Research Tool. It contains the actual BMW codes. If you want to register a newly installed battery for free (just buy a $10 cable) and google/download BMWLogger

Last edited by Chriztofor; 06-10-2010 at 06:24 AM.
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      06-10-2010, 10:49 AM   #22
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i say gut everything out and make it into a decent track car
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