Being a newbie to both this forum and E36's in general, I've found the people here extremely helpful so I've decided to post this project thread for anyone who's interested and hopefully it may also help anyone else in my position who may be planning something similar.
I've always loved the shape of the E36 - in all its guises but I have to admit there's nothing looks quite as good as a well sorted coupe. I'm ex motor trade and got out of said business before the E36 was born - although I liked them, for some reason (probably cash), I never bought one whilst they were current. A couple of months ago a mate of mine who is into the clubman's rallying scene was looking for a 328i motor to graft into his 318 compact rally car. He wanted a non nikasil motor that he could hear running and after a lot of mucking about he bought a 328i coupe, stripped it of its engine and left it sat in his yard.
I arrived one morning saw the coupe and thought it was a customer's car in for repair, he wouldn't have butchered that for the engine would he? I walked round and round it admiring its looks and the amazing original condition of the bodywork. My mate spied me and shouted to me that I could buy it if I wanted - it was the one he'd bought for the engine and he'd done with it, he was going to break it. I couldn't resist, I might have been out of the trade a good few years but I know its rare to find an E36 with mint, unrepaired, rear arches. £200 later I was the proud owner of a 96 328i coupe with no engine and a box of bits in the boot that I had (and still have) no idea where they go.
I've had diesels since 1988 and normally wouldn't look at a petrol car - then I hit on an idea. The coupe had no engine, how about making it a diesel coupe? That was the subject of my first post on this forum and those who read it will know that I changed my mind.....................anyway................... ..........................
I bought a complete 325tds that had been stood in a garden for 3 years to act as a donor car for the 328. The chap selling it assured me that it ran fine but I would have to get it going. The nightmare began...........armed with a battery, some jump leads and a can of easy start, my mate and I set about trying to start the beast. The first thing that happened was that the alternator started smoking - probably shorting through the brains of one of the family of rats living inside it. Then, as I ran round to the boot to disconnect the battery the central locking locked itself with the keys in the ignition - probably the rats again. So there we are, scrabbling about looking for a spanner to disconnect the battery at the terminal under the bonnet, the car's locked and the smoldering is threatening to turn into a blaze. Anyway, one broken window, a disconnected alternator, and half a can of easy start later, the beast fired into life and ran like a dream. Drove it on to the trailer and got it home.
I decided against the coupe diesel conversion because the task just looked too much - the coupe being an auto but also because although the diesel looked (still does) as rough as a bear's arse at a glance, a trained eye can see that in fact, the body is in pretty good shape.............I couldn't break it. I hit on a plan - the coupe is in very good order, has all the factory fitted goodies and is mintable so I'll mint it and run it on a weekend or whenever the mood takes me. I'm pretty sure that these aren't too far of being an official 'classic' and top of the range models of anything usually become the most sought after. I decided to 'restore' the diesel as a daily runner which would also save me from a total divorce from oil burners. This thing's been sat in a Kent garden for three years, I might be new to E36's and a little rusty on the spanners but I already know that I'm raving mad to even consider this. Yes I know that I could buy a nice, up and running TDS for less than I'm going to spend on this but isn't that always the way with projects? At least I'll know its fully sorted when its finished. I usually run a diesel Golf estate but I rather stupidy (I won't go in to how) blew it up recently and in any case, when its fixed its promised to my daughter who's family will soon be bigger.................so the coupe will have to wait, on with the TDS.
First job is to get it running, it was a pig to start when I went to buy it as I mentioned above but it started fine at -11c two weeks later. However, after another 2 weeks, when I was ready to take it to my workshop to get it fettled it was back to refusing to start again. We still had quite a lot of snow and the wind was howling round so I wasn't about to play with it - loaded it on to my mate's trailer and off. I think I know now, why its been sat in a Kent garden for 3 years, the tank is full of some gunge that smells like white spirit and its sticky as hell. The fuel pump couldn't cope with whatever has been put in it and stuck, blowing its fuse as it did so. I've acquired another 325 for bits and as I don't fancy trying to clean the tank out on the project car, I'm going to transfer the tank, complete with pump and sender.
I began removing the tank this evening and already its looking like a typical project - you know the awkward brake pipes, the one's that go above the tank? Some twat has replaced them, not above the tank but around it. Not only that but they are rubbing against sharp metal in 2 places and there's not a clip in sight - just zip ties! Whilst I was underneath, removing the exhaust and prop shaft I had a look over the rear suspension - subframe's coming out and I'm re-bushing everything...............jeez there's a lot of bushes!!! No doubt there's another load of bushes at the front but that's another day.
I'll post some photos in a few days but until then, thoughts on suspension bushes anyone? I know there's the option of poly bushes but don't these make it a bit of a hard ride (apart from being arm + leg). If I fit normal bushes, anyone got a recommended brand? I don't fancy doing this job twice! How do you remove the old buses - burn them out?