European Auto Garage E36 M3 Coupe Project Car

Back in October of 2010, we came across this ’95 Dakar Yellow M3 on eBay. It looked great. A one owner car, by a ///M Enthusiasts who also had a Dakar Yellow M Roadster. The car had a reserve on it; we placed a low bid thinking it would bump the price up and not meet reserve. Well, we were wrong. November 7th, 2010, the car made it to Knoxville from Florida. The project begun.

The 1995 BMW M3 in Dakar Yellow with black leather was purchased with 182,000 miles on it. The M3 had been resprayed at some point in its life. When we got the M3, the original owner had just put a brand new factory headliner in it. Upon test driving the car, we immediately knew it was going to need a driveshaft. The tire roar was ear bleeding loud.

Once the M3 was in the shop, we looked it completely over. All four wheels were bent. The trans fill plug was loose and leaking. Being a Florida car, the moldings and seals were completely dry rotted.

Immediately the headliner came out of the M3 and was traded for a not-so-nice headliner. We immediately sent the headliner off to have it recovered in alcantara along with the rear deck.

During the same time, we removed the black plastic moldings around the car. We feel the black plastic cheapens the look of the car. Many of the E36 M3 crowd disagree, but for us personally, we will never understand it. We sent them off to our good friends at Wade’s Body Shop in Oliver Springs, TN to have them match body color. The special paint used, which sticks to plastic, was unveiled at SEMA last year. The moldings came out great and we added the BMW Lightweight side molding emblems.

Next step was acquiring a proper stance. We ordered sport springs from H&R, which is a fantastic company who offers very progressive sport springs offering a lowered look and still giving us a factory type ride, but with improved performance.

After the drop, VMR VB3 (CSL reps) in Hyper Black were added. We picked 18×8.5 size all the way around to have the option to rotate tires. The VMRs were wrapped in BFGoodrich tires (235/40/18).

We made our own “test pipe” by cutting off the resonators and welding in straight pipe and painting it black.

We ordered a 3-spoke steering wheel wrapped in alcantara with ///M tricolor stitching as well as real ZKW headlamps, equal length headers, and a gauge cluster from a part dealer in Europe.

When the driveshaft was installed, we decided it was a good time to upgrade the clutch. We installed a UUC clutch and lightened flywheel along with a factory Z3 M Roadster shifter for shorter throws but retaining a factory feel.

The door-panels are a well known problem on E36′s. This car was no different. Brand new door panels are quite pricey. We found a company that redoes door panels along with custom touches. We added alcantara inserts with ///M tricolor stitching on the handles. They look fantastic and complete the alcantara interior.

The factory rear differential came out of the car. Went was a 3.38 limited slip with new 3 clutch pack setup for 40% lock. Factory final drive was a 3.15. This upgrade alone has waken  the car up a considerable amount.

We want this car to stay true to its roots, but upgrading areas that BMW could have possibly done a bit better. Being that this is a 95, the factory kidney grilles remain Dakar Yellow as well as the body color mesh grille in the bumper. Stay tuned for more exciting things, such as E46 ZCP M3 brakes – who has done that before?!

Story by: Andrew Hilliard

Photos by: Connor Hinkle

European Auto Garage is a leading independent full service repair and performance upgrade facility in the Eastern part of Tennessee. They are dedicated to providing top quality service to owners of BMW, Porsche, Audi, Ferrari, Aston Martin, and other fine European cars. EAG is also home to Knoxville Cars and Coffee.

Follow EAG on facebook for more updates.

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