Scott’s E36: From customer trade in, to Track machine, and everything in between.

Scott’s E36: From customer trade in, to Track machine, and everything in between.

Late 2017 Scott was going to school at UH, and working at BMW of Honolulu. One afternoon while at work, he noticed parked in the customer lot was a 1995 E36. It caught his eye because he had always had a soft spot for these. He began to ask around about what that car was doing there, and found out that someone had actually brought it as a trade in. Knowing this car wasn’t going to get much as a trade in, Scott pulled aside the car salesman and asked if there was any possibility of talking the customer into selling Scott the car directly. The car salesman was able to get the customer to sell Scott the car for 1000 bucks, but now Scott was in a tight spot… Not only was he at work, but he didn’t have 1000 cash on him, or a car. He was able to borrow a brand new 3 series so he could run home on his lunch to get some cash he had stashed so that he could purchase the car.

Scott is a BMW enthusiasts, and not just one that enjoys them on the weekends. He lives and breathes BMW, and it would be safe to say that he is an expert. He normally lives in Las Vegas, and regularly drives an E30, but he left all of this behind to go to school at the University of Hawaii. While in Hawaii he got a job like many students do, but he didn’t follow the norm when it came to where. As you know he works at BMW of Honolulu, and you can probably guess why he chose to work there.

Let circle back to the car that he had just purchased. It was manufactured on 10/31/95, which was important because it didn’t have the issue from the earlier in the year production ones (pre October) that would have tendencies to drop valves thus blowing the engine. BMW released a bulletin about this issue, but never made an official recall. They just began fixing the issues on cars made after October 1 1995. So his car is a 1995 E36 M3, 170k miles, and had some tasteful mods already on it. Scott immediately jumped into replacing some known weak leaks in the cooling system of these cars. He swapped out the stock water pump for an aftermarket one since the stock one comes with a plastic impeller, and the aftermarket was made out of metal. This is the same for the thermostat housing, which he swapped out for a metal one as well. Since he worked at a BMW dealership he was able to get cost on all OEM parts, so he also changed out every coolant line under the intake manifold and put a new thermostat in. The car already came with a Zionsville radiator, expansion tank, electric fan, and shroud so there was no need to upgrade anything else coolant related, with the exception of him adding Bimmerworld radiator hoses.

He purchased the car with stock double spoke type 1 OEM wheels on it, and it didn’t take long for him to want to change them out. After he had done all the cooling upgrades and he knew the car was mechanically sound he began to turn his attention to finding some wheel’s for it, and the obvious choice was Kosei K1’s. (duh, what don’t these wheels look good on) Being on an island it was much harder to find stuff then it would be on the mainland. Because of this he had to settle for some OEM 2 piece BBS wheels, with tires that were just a little too big. To get these to fit he had to roll the fenders slightly, and he  was never really happy with the look and fitment. He began to search eBay to try and source some Kosei K1’s, and was able to find someone on the mainland selling some who was willing to ship to him in Hawaii. These were 17×8.5 +41 and came without tires, which was just as well because he was really hungry for some 200tw tires. Again running into the same issues of living on an island, it was hard to find decently priced 200tw tires locally. Turning yet again to Ebay, the cheapest 200tw tire he could find that would ship to Hawaii were 235/40/17 Federal RS-RR’s. The day finally came for him to mount tires on the Kosei’s, and the anticipation was killing him because he was so eager to see what 200tw tires would feel like.

He took the car out for a spirited drive and the excitement was quickly extinguished as he felt the rear of the car shift while he went through the turn’s.  He knew something wasn’t right, and after checking out the car he realized that the added grip of the 200tw tires was causing the rear trailing arm bushings (RTAB) to flex, and distort. The high mileage of his car meant that the stock RTAB were completely worn out, disintegrated, knackered, blown out, or what ever you want to call it. This prompted him to purchase his next upgrade, polyurethane AKG Motorsport RTAB’s  and the tool to install them. After this the car obviously drove much better.

His car was now feeling really good, and he was starting to think about doing an AutoX event. This is the only Motorsport that’s available on the island due to Hawaii’s lack of race tracks. He began to start gathering upgrades that he would need to ensure the car would handle the added stress from pushing it past its limits. To stop oil starvation he got an Achilles Motorsport weld in oil pan baffle, to keep the oil flowing he got a Bimmerworld oil pump safety wire nut (this stops the oil pump gear nut from backing off allowing the oil pump chain to come off, and no longer pumping oil. This is common on the S5x and M5x motors), and finally AKG Motorsport rear trailing arm pocket reinforcement plates (it is common for these pockets to tear on the E36/46 chassis). This car was his daily driver, and the only car he owned in Hawaii. Because of this there couldn’t be down time on it, so to help keep the downtime to a minimal he bought a a used oil pan and would have a friend of his weld in the baffle for him. He also had that same friend weld in the trailing arm pocket plates for him as well. The time had now come for him to install all these items, and a fellow co worker was going to help him do it. One night after their shift was over at the dealership, they threw Scott’s car on the lift and dug in. What started off as an easy project quickly tuned unpleasant…

They began by dropping the subframe. This would allow them to room to pull the oil pan off so they could install the used oil pan he had bought that now had the oil pan baffle welded in. As they started to drop the oil pan they heard the distinct sound of engine parts hitting the ground, they froze and look at each other with confusion… What the hell was that? they asked each other. Neither one was sure, but upon further inspection it became very clear that something major was wrong. Two random bolts were sitting in the bottom of the oil pan, but they had no idea where they came from. As it turns out they were from the timing chain guide. The timing chain guide had actually worn away so much that the timing chain was no longer running along the plastic part, because it had worn clean through it, and had actually ground down the bolts holding the timing chain guide on (what was in the oil pan). So here are these two guys hoping to just be swapping oil pans, and adding a safety wire nut to the oil pump, who are now up shit creek. Scott is starting to worry because he cant just leave his car on the lift until they can fix this, because in a few hours customer cars would start rolling in and for damn sure Scott’s car couldn’t be blocking the dealership from making money. Luckily for Scott, this being the only BMW dealership in Hawaii it was very busy and this meant that the shop would run 24 hours (only on a skeleton crew at night) but it meant that there was a parts guy there all night. Scott was able to run over to the parts guy, look up, and order what he needed with overnight shipping (perks of working at a dealership). However the co worker that was previously helping was not interested in doing major work on Scott’s car.

Even though the parts are on the way, Scott is stressing because he doesn’t want to run into problems with the bosses by having his car sit around in the service area for too long. Scott commissioned the help of an outstanding tech and now friend Roland, to help him do all the timing stuff on his car.  The night came to start working on the car, and Roland had gotten a jump start on it while Scott had finished out the remainder of his shift. Before Scott could finish his shift, Roland came to him with more bad news… As it turns out, they have to remove the head to get the main timing chain guide installed. There is no way around this, and at this point a thinly stretched Scott is now beginning to really reach wits end with this project. He is now really pushing his luck with management not being cool anymore with his personal car being there, the added cost of more parts he will now have to buy (head gasket, rebuilding the vanos system, and all hardware/gaskets/seals involved with all that). At this point he doesn’t really have any other option, the car is completely torn apart, and there is no turning back now. Once again he heads to the parts guy to have him order the parts necessary to completely refresh the head/top end. Here they are in the same boat, getting the parts overnighted from the mainland as they tackle attempt #2 fixing Scott’s car.

When the parts finally arrived two work days later, again Scott and Roland jumped into action. After their shifts ended they threw the car back on the lift and jammed along till almost 1 am when Roland offered to take Scott home (since he didn’t have a car, and had been taking the bus to work for the past week while his car was down). After dropping Scott off at home… Roland, knowing that Scott’s car needed to be out of the service area ASAP went straight back to the shop and pumped out another 4 hours of work on Scott’s car. The next day Scott was off and had no idea that Roland went back the night before to work on his car more. Scott arrived at 9 am to meet up with Roland as planned when he dropped Scott off the night prior. When he arrived he was amazed to find out that Roland had actually come back the night before and gotten a lot more done to the car. Now they really only had a few small things to button up, and the car would be ready to start. I know what you might be thinking… how did the get the head resurfaced in such a short amount of time? Well truth is they didn’t, Scott’s car had already overstayed its welcome and there was really no other option. They used a straight edge and a flashlight to see if the head was warped at all, obviously this isn’t the proper way to do it but everything looked ok.

Once started, Scott takes the car out for a test drive where he begins to notice that the car seems to run a little hotter than it did before they tore it all apart. He hoped that this was just a little issue that would fix itself, but after driving it a few more days the temps were still slightly above normal. One day as he was driving up hill on the H3 the temps peaked at 205 degrees F and he knew there was something wrong. Once he got to his destination he took off the radiator cap (after letting the car cool) and turned the car on. His heart sank as what he had feared all along was true… There were tiny air bubbles in the radiator, which meant that they should have gotten the head resurfaced. The car still worked though, and since his cars welcome was completely worn out at work he just continued to drive the car keeping a close eye on the coolant temp. A few hundred miles later he goes to change the oil, and what he finds is just another nail in the cars coffin.

As the oil drains out of the engine into the oil pan, he notices that there is a lot of shiny metal flakes in it. What the hell could this be from? Think, Think, Think. He realizes that in all the commotion of trying to get his car fixed, they had not cleaned out the oil pan that his friend had welded the baffle in. You have to actually cut/grind out the OEM “baffle” that comes stock in the oil pan, and this obviously creates lots of metal dust. Plus one of the timing chain guide bolts that had fallen in the oil pan, had gotten wedged against the oil pump chain which eventually wore a deep groove in the bolt that would have caused even more metal debris to contaminate the oil. (of course they changed the oil when they had the motor apart, and cleaned the parts that they had taken off the motor, but some of that metal would still be left in oil passages, and in the oil pump.)  Scott goes into a Rotella oil cleanse frenzy (Rotella being the cheapest “decent”  oil) and starts to change his oil every 10-20 miles hoping to filter all the metal out. He even went as far as getting a Dimple magnetic drain plug, which they claim as being the strongest magnetic oil drain plug ever.  If you’re interested, you can click the link to order yourself one.

https://drainplugmagnets.com/

He would take a picture of the oil each time he would change it as reference to see if there was any difference, and after the 7th 10-20 mile oil change the metal was pretty much gone. He then did another oil change at 1000 miles, and the results were very promising because it seemed his oil was metal free.

All the while he still continued to drive the car with the air bubbles in his coolant, and despite this he decided it was time to sign up for that Auto X event that he had wanted to do months before. Don’t forget that this whole debacle started because he wanted to switch his oil pan, but maybe it was a good thing… otherwise he wouldn’t have found out the timing chain guide was shot, and maybe his engine would have jumped a tooth on the timing chain possibly really damaging his motor beyond repair.

So he’s all singed up for it, and Ronald also signed up with him and is going to do the event in his E46. The night before, for some reason Scott doesn’t get much more than a couple hours of sleep. Maybe its the excitement of the next days adventures, maybe its because he is busy going over his car to make sure its going to survive. None of that matters, and what really matters is that he didn’t get much sleep. The next morning on his first ever Auto X run he gets a DNF, he’s thinking its the nerves, or it just kinda hard to see which way the course goes. Then on his second run, again a DNF, and this trend will continue for him throughout the day. He DNF’s every run he takes, and all of his hard work over the past few months just becomes pointless… He should have never even wanted to do an Auto X event.

Its now May and he is ready to graduate from UH. He is officially going to be done with Hawaii, but not done with his special M car that he has grown to love unconditionally. For 1200 bucks he plans to ship it back to Vegas, and on the day its to be loaded on the ship, he arrives at the port inspection area where a past gremlin will rear its ugly head. For a while now the outside door handle of his driver side hasn’t worked. He never really cared to fix it because it wasn’t really the big of an issue to him, and he managed to work around it. Apparently though, they wont let a car on the ship with a malfunctioning handle. So here he is, only days away from flying back to the mainland, he’s already put his two weeks in and quit his job at BMW, his lease was up at his house and he had completely moved out.  Once he dropped the car off at the port he planned on going to meet up with his family at North Shore (they were there from Vegas to see him graduate, and do a small vacation. Then they would all fly back to Vegas together) None of this was going to happen now, and he was actually going to start to go backwards. He again called on his knight in shining armor, Ronald. He left the port that afternoon and headed back to his old employment, ordered a new door handle mechanism (overnighted of course) This meant he was stuck in Honolulu for another two nights (because he missed the cut off time for over night parts delivery) He called up is old landlord and was able to “move” back in for two nights. The parts finally came, Ronald was able to fix the door handle, the car passed the inspection at the port, and made it on the ship.

The car will take a little over a month to make it back to Las Vegas, as it sails across the pacific ocean, landing in Long Beach, then getting trucked to Las Vegas. In that time Scott got back to Vegas, and was able to find a job at a local independent BMW shop called Sin City BMW.  A week or so later his car finally arrives covered in sea salt. He plans to dual purpose daily/track the e36  (remember that he also has an E30)

One day out of the blue he decided he wanted to do a track day (end of June 2018) so he hopped on motorsport reg and found one! It was going to be at streets of willow with on grid. He signed up for it, booked a hotel near by, and it was official, he was going to do his first ever HPDE. When he went to sign up, beginner was sold out, and he ended up signing up for the group directly above that.  He opted to pay for an instructor because he didn’t want to learn any bad habits.  He didn’t do anything to prepare other than just give the car a once over and do an oil change. It was mid June, peak summer time and he drove form Vegas to Streets while still having air bubbles in his cooling system. He meets the instructor first thing Saturday morning, heads out for his first session and things don’t go so well. The instructor was giving him too much input making it hard to focus. After all this is his first time ever at Street’s not to mention his first ever time on a track. He ask’s the instructor not say as much, in hopes to keep the stress to a minimum while out on track. He heads out for the second session, and things are pretty much the same… During lunch he was able to digest more than just food, and really start to take in what the instructor was telling him. On his third session out he starts having a great time, and everything the instructor was telling him his now starting to make sense. 4th and final session out no instructor, and he was able to focus without the instructor screaming in his ear. It wasn’t so much that the instructor was bad, but it was all just to overwhelming as he needed time to sift through all the instructions coming down to him. Once the day was over though, he was hooked.

A few weeks later he singed up for another event at Street’s, and this was a two day event. He was feeling really comfortable in the intermediate group, and was able to out drive most of them. Not to brag about it, but just to say that he was really getting in the groove and he knew what it took to drive a car quick on track. However as this was still summer time in the desert the temps quickly rose after the first session, and the gremlins in his car started to act up. He was only able to do 3-4 push laps before the car would start to get hot (remember his head still isn’t sealed correctly after putting on the head with out it getting resurfaced back in Hawaii) This started to make things not fun because he wasn’t able to get into a good rhythm and focus on improving his times. He managed to finish the two day event and drive all the way back to Vegas with out issue, but he knew it was time to redo the top end properly.

He now enlisted the help of Patrick, the master tech at Sin City BMW (where Scott works) and together they tore the motor all apart, sent the head out to get resurfaced, ordered all new gaskets (again), and put it all back together. Once back together everything seemed like it was good, and it was now time for an actual test. There was a PCA event coming up at SMMR (Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch) and he was going to sign up for it. This event was a very pivotal moment in his Motorsports life, because at this event he was going to meet Pat (red s2000). The first day Pat had approached him because he liked the way hid BMW looked, and they were probably the only two that we younger than 30 there. They both chatted for the rest of that day, and on the second day even pitted next to each other. Scott was excited because Pat has many years of HPDE experience so Scott was eager to pic his brain. As for Scott’s car, it performed flawlessly that weekend and is still going strong today, with nearly 190k miles on it.

Scott was interested in doing the Bimmer challenge, so he signed up for the inaugural event at Chuckwalla in February 2019,  and Pat also went with him in his S2000. This was going to be Scott’s first time at Chuck and he was still on those Federal rs-rr that he had gotten when he lived in Hawaii! He had done 6 events on them and they were toast, so he pretty much spent the day slipping and sliding around but still making the most of it. After that event he ordered some Hankook RS4 tires in 255/40/17 to mount on the Kosei’s. The next track event he signed up for was the 2nd round of the Bimmer challenge at Buttonwillow. This time he would be flying solo though, as none of us were going to make the event. On his way down to Buttonwillow he hit some debris (a tarp) in the road, while driving at night in the fog. He could feel his car “jump” as he ran it over, so he pulled off the road to inspect and it just appeared to be aesthetics. (mainly bumper, under carriage, and grill work) the car still drove straight and he managed to make it to the hotel that night. The next morning he had to fix his car so they would let it on track, so he stopped off at walmart and got some “grill mesh” to help deflect rock and debris from hitting the radiator (since the grill got knocked out) and some zip ties to get the under carriage tucked back up. He was most excited for this event because it was going to be his first time on track with his new Hankook RS4’s and it was a wider tire than he previously had. Unfortunately he missed the first session out because he was repairing his car. When that second session came around (his first) he went out and had the time of his life on his new tires, not to mention is was his first time at the magical Buttonwillow which made it even more special.

Scott has been tracking his car now for about a year and half, and he has done events at multiple tracks including: LVMS, SMMR, ACS, SOW, Buttonwillow, and Chuckwalla. with only about 15 track days under his belt, its crazy to think how quick he will be with another 15.  Its also crazy to think about everything his car has been through and it still continues to run.

From the time he moved back to Vegas till now the car has gotten many upgrades, and maintenance stuff taken care of:

  • Did all four wheel bearings oem FCP euro lifetime warranty.
  • DTC 60 all around with oem rotors.
  • Rear camber arms ground control with the spherical bearings.
  • Dropped subframe and welded reinforcements on the subframe, powder coated it black. went all aluminum sub frame and diff bushings from bimmerworld. spherical rtabs. rebuilt the axles. factory clutch type LSD
  • Sway bar bushings just oem but new. upgraded to a 96-99 m3 rear sway 21mm.  front bar is UUC with AKG spherical endlinks.
  • Suspension is what came on the car when he bought it. bilstein sport shocks, and h&r sport lowering springs.
  • 96-99 strut mounts up front flipped sides to add more negative camber. bimmerworld camber shims. partshop max front strut reinforcement plates.
  •  Bimmerworld ss lines all around with heat sleeves
  •  Project mu g four fluid.
  • D force ltw wheels flow formed 17×9 +41 sub 20 lb wheel.
  • Motorsport hardware wheel stud conversion bullet nose type
  • Donated cobra suzuka seat, motion Motorsport rails. fixed position.
    rear seat delete, NRG sfi certified quick release, 350mm old nardi wheel.
  • Saddle fuel tank was causing fuel starvation through right turns, upgraded to bimmerworld dual fuel pump kit to remedy this.
  • Ben Simpson roll bar 4 pt
  • No passenger seat due to needing space for supplies when driving to events.
  • Engine: radium catch can, not vented. mishimoto 25 row oil cooler, earls oil thermostat. rally road oil filter housing cap. rally road oil distribution sandwich plate. obd 2 later model e36 header, tubular, and not cast iron(much lighter) cold air intake. ss squid tune, with 24lb injectors from a fox body mustang. vanos was rebuilt when the head was done the first time
  • Bimmerworld group n motor mounts/rouge engineering trans mount.
  • Stock shifter, garagistict dual sheer selector rod.
  • Run redline lubricants 15w50 oil, redline in trans superlightwheight shock prooof,
  • Clutch fx racing (ebay style) 6 puck sprung, fx racing flywheel
  • New oem slave cylinder, ss braided clutch line.
  • Hard Motorsport carbon sunroof delete.
  • Trackspec Motorsports hood vents.
  • Full factory exhaust with super sprint muffler with dtm tips.
  • Gauges: vdo analog oil temp, autometer digital water temp, aem digital oil pressure that not plugged in for fear of scaring himself.
  • Homemade air duct to force air through the radiator.
  • Bimmerworld brake cooling ducts, but don’t often run them because 200tw tire wont demand much of the brakes.
  • front control arm bushings are Bimmerworld spherical. no rubber bushings excepts sway bar bushings, strut mounts.
  • BMW Z3 1.9L 4 cylinder short ratio steering rack
  • BMW OEM X brace up front

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