One month with an E36 M3 Sedan: What I've learned - Page 3
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    1. #51
      Member mike in SC's Avatar
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      Great write up as the others expressed and really gets to the heart of your M3 experience. My older cars, though not M3 pedigree, deliver exactly what you describe. My VW Fox is lively, fun and with the mods over the years has made a fun autoX car too. My 1966 MGB is the same, entirely predictable and has the best steering, besides my Dad's old E30, that I've experienced as a driver. It feels alive and visceral with the noises and sensations from a car designed in the 1950s.

      I'm glad you're happy with your Goldilocks. I want to get behind the wheel of an golden era BMW soon.
      (sheriff)Early, I though you said this was a drug possum.
      (Early) Sure, I drug him from the ditch.
      (sheriff) I wish you told me that before you sold him to me.

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    3. #52
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      You write better than most journalists. Beautiful, and well spoken. I felt the same way about my 95 S6 Avant when I purchased it; I've always lusted after a 90s Teutonic Performance Wagon, and if the E36 Touring had been a thing I would own one by now. A 99 Alpine White E36 M3 sedans is still on my bucket list, though they are quickly becoming out of reach.
      I <3 Weird & Fast. Weirst? Faseird?

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    4. #53
      Member x(why)z's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by mike in SC View Post
      Great write up as the others expressed and really gets to the heart of your M3 experience. My older cars, though not M3 pedigree, deliver exactly what you describe. My VW Fox is lively, fun and with the mods over the years has made a fun autoX car too. My 1966 MGB is the same, entirely predictable and has the best steering, besides my Dad's old E30, that I've experienced as a driver. It feels alive and visceral with the noises and sensations from a car designed in the 1950s.

      I'm glad you're happy with your Goldilocks. I want to get behind the wheel of an golden era BMW soon.
      I am such an MGB fan. I have great memories of blasting through the Santa Ynez Valley just outside of Santa Barbara in an MGB GT. That thing was a riot even with what, 90 horsepower? The skinny tires, big steering wheel, and low weight combined to make it exhilarating. I love how they kind of slide around but are so controllable.

      Quote Originally Posted by ADDvanced View Post
      You write better than most journalists. Beautiful, and well spoken. I felt the same way about my 95 S6 Avant when I purchased it; I've always lusted after a 90s Teutonic Performance Wagon, and if the E36 Touring had been a thing I would own one by now. A 99 Alpine White E36 M3 sedans is still on my bucket list, though they are quickly becoming out of reach.
      Thanks! That's too kind.

      I haven't seen an Alpine White E36 in ages. As mentioned elsewhere, I can't decide on my favourite colour on an E36. Hellrot, Technoviolet, silver, Alpine White and Boston Green are all superb. I even love Dakar.

      And I agree; the only thing that could be better than the sedan would be a wagon.

    5. #54
      Member x(why)z's Avatar
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      Thirteen months ago a somewhat raggedy GM Duramax pickup with a three-car open-top trailer noisily paced down my brick street in Western Pennsylvania.Sitting mid-ship behind a Mini Cooper Clubman was my recently bought-and-paid-for Boston Green E36 sedan. Two weeks earlier I had been casually pursuing BMW forums on a semi-earnest hunt for an E36 M3 Sedan, preferably in Boston Green as I love green cars for whatever reason.

      With no comments or interest sat an intriguingly unloved thread simple titled E36 M3 Sedan in Boston Green. Within were some marginal images shot low and in the evening. Grainy and underwhelming, the photos were hiding what I thought may be a car with potential. I had to get beyond the awkward and oversized anthracite after-market wheels and clear corners because what was also included in the documentation was an inch-thick folder containing every maintenance receipt dating back to January 1997 when the car rolled off the assembly line. Despite having a few owners, everyone of them LOVED this car.

      On somewhat of a whim, I DMd the owner and he responded with his phone number. The next day we chatted for over an hour on subjects ranging from space to politics, only briefly touching on the car itself. That was good enough for me. I was confident that this was the kind of guy I could buy a car sight-unseen from. Plus, when I Googled his address, it showed a beautifully kept home in an upscale Virginia suburb, and a garage with a number of lovely vehicles adorning it.

      I sent him a deposit, transferred some money around, and wired him the cash. Five days later, the aforementioned truck pulled up in front of my house.

      Day 1



      In the year since it rolled onto the brick road that we live on and now, weíve had a ton of adventures. Iíve put 5000 miles on it, and it has been an absolute joy to own. Not without faults, and a major failure or two, but for me, the pleasure of ownership goes beyond the drive and extends into the approachability of care that the E36 is imbued with. Itís easy to love something that makes even painful days of road-side calamity less tng. The brittle plastic clips, and fasteners that could only be designed by a German aside, this thing is a pleasure to work on. Everything mechanical has a precision and level of craftsmanship that I really admire. My slew of Japanese cars before it have always been more straightforward, but I love them for their honesty and dependability, whereas the little BMW makes me feel differently. It is brimming with teutonic confidence and it shows with the tolerances baked into every mechanical part.

      LTWs


      Iíll briefly chronicle what Iíve done to it so far.
      Window seals all around
      Door handle seals
      Windshield trim (wiper surrounds)
      LTW wheels
      Diff fluid
      Trans service
      3x oil changes
      Headliner
      Replaced a broken vent
      Belts
      Firestone Indy 500s
      Shark injector flash
      Amber corners all around
      Cooling system overhaul

      SO. MUCH. TRIM.


      What needs to be done:
      The sunroof rattles
      The windshield washer nozzles work intermittently
      A slightly dim on-board computer screen
      Small holes in both front seats
      Thereís an annoying dent about half the size of a dime on the crease on the rear passenger side door. I need a new door so I donít go crazy.
      The cruise control sometimes works and sometimes doesnít
      Front lip needs to be repainted

      Whatís planned, but maybe not as stock it is kind of super fun:
      New seat leather
      KW V1s
      Supersprint exhaust
      Sway bar upgrade
      M50 intake manifold

      Spring wakeup.


      The only problem that Iíve encountered that left me stranded was expected. I have a favourite road that leads out to the Allegheny National Forest, that being Highway 27. Typically, I take an hour or two each weekend and head out the 27 towards the forest and turn south on any number of lightly traveled but hugely entertaining B-roads. Weíre lucky out here to have the right combination of no people and great topography. Roads twist and undulate in a way only bested by those in the coastal mountains of California or Mediterranean Europe in my experience. Maybe there are contenders in New Zealand, but there just aren't enough roads.

      Anyway, I was just starting out on my journey, about four miles east of town and within 600 yards of the first Laguna Seca-esque corners when I heard a metal clank, followed by sparks, and the incomparable noise of rubber and metal converging as you mow over the innards of your engine bay and leave a trail of fluids behind you. Itís a sound that you have nightmares of as you anticipate it inevitably being your reality. At 70 MPH heading into a downhill 100 degree left-hander, itís not ideal to hear. I shut it down and coasted to a pathetic stop on a little cutout that begins a farm access path. Think Delorean in Back to the Future III as Marty arrives back in 1985 and he glides to a stop on the train tracks knowing things arenít going to be the same.

      I cracked the hood, and almost as if it was staged, the car let out a puff of smoke and one final belch that I assume was air trapped in the cooling system releasing through the gaping hole where the water pump should have been. My radiator was somehow spared, but the fan, fan shroud, all the belts and pulleys had been reduced to scrap either littering the road behind me, or lodged in various parts of the engine bay. Somehow, my hood was spared the shrapnel charge.

      Not good


      I picked up the pieces, literally and figuratively, called AAA and waited for the flatbed. As itís purely a fun car, I didn't care. Itís a right of passage I thought, being the owner of an almost three-decade-old German sports car. Being stuck on the side of the road as passersby in their Rav4s and F150s glared as if I got what I deserved owning such a silly and unreliable mode of transportation. They donít understand that a car like this is a dance partner, a teammate, an accomplice, not just a way to get around. And with any worthwhile relationship, there will be ups and downs and times when you need to be there for one another. And my M3 had been there for me countless times after tough work weeks, stressful days with my two-year-old, and in moments when I just needed an escape.

      Two hours later, I pushed My car backwards into the garage where it would sit for the coming weeks as I waited for Pelican Parts to ship out the following:

      Water pump with metal impeller
      Hoses
      Clamps
      Fan
      Fan clutch
      Belts
      Seals and gaskets of all descriptions
      Coolant
      Reservoir
      Air filter
      Oil filter
      Boxes of little maintenance items

      So many boxes:


      I wonít bore you with the details, but after removing what felt like dozens of shredded, torn, and other sadly dispatched parts from the front of the engine bay, I cleaned the mounting surface and installed the new water pump. Upon removal of what remained of the old one, it was clear what had happened. The impeller output shaft had given up and began rotating in what could only be described as an elliptical fashion, allowing the impeller to collide with the inside of the block and ultimately toss metal shards through the housing, and causing a cascade failure that fundamentally destroyed the cooling system. The radiator being the only component that lived to tell the tale through what I assume was a WWI-style tale of bravery and luck aligning and allowing one hero to emerge. The radiator was a recent upgrade, so I was delighted to not have to replace it.

      After checking all my work including torque specs and fluid levels, I cast off my coveralls (or as my wife calls all my various ďoutfitsĒ for doing a multitude of labour jobs, my blue-collar cosplay), and took it for a trip down the 27. Perfection. We sailed past the point where we had rolled to an undignified stop weeks prior and continued up into the rolling hills that surround our town.

      With that behind me, I feel lucky to say that I havenít been the victim of any other major failures. I know that there will be surprises on the horizon, but I am ready. Tools at stand by and Pelican Parts eager for me to input my credit card information.

      This summer, as my daughter began to be of an age where she can really start to interact with the world with purpose, we took myriad trips to distant ice cream stands and exotic parks in counties that we donít call home. As cliche as it sounds, itís about the journey, not the destination, and whenever I glance into my rearview mirror and see her watching the world rush past through the lightly blue-tinted glass, Iím reminded why I bought this car. Itís a time machine to when I felt what she is feeling. A seemingly never ending series of firsts. And itís the little green sports car that transports us between places and in those moments between, we get closer as the world becomes a blue-green blur of light and shadow as the tach passes 7 X1000.

      Washing up after a fun morning:


      My faithful delivery vehicle. When COVID happened, my lab closed. Rather than let it sit dormant, we used it to produce PPE and this is how I delivered it. Always on time.


      Ambers:


      C&C:
      Last edited by x(why)z; 10-10-2020 at 10:27 AM.

    6. #55
      Member DrivinAW8's Avatar
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      I echo the statement above, you write beautifully. Please produce more content.

      Also, now you have me looking for Boston Green M3/4/5s. Or maybe a Techno Violet coupe, if I could be so lucky.

    7. #56
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      Quote Originally Posted by x(why)z View Post
      I haven't seen an Alpine White E36 in ages. As mentioned elsewhere, I can't decide on my favourite colour on an E36. Hellrot, Technoviolet, silver, Alpine White and Boston Green are all superb. I even love Dakar.

      And I agree; the only thing that could be better than the sedan would be a wagon.
      Maybe I'm in the minority but E36 sedans get me hot and bothered, and the coupes do basically nothing for me. I think the proportions of the sedan are FAR superior.
      I <3 Weird & Fast. Weirst? Faseird?

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    8. #57
      Member kiznarsh's Avatar
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      The ambers really work well on the E36. I prefer clears on E39s but whether it's the fact that E36s are older or just the design itself, ambers just seem to blend better with the overall character.

      How are your side trim pieces on the doors/bumpers? Freshly-painted or new ones also have a big impact.

      And agreed, the sedans have better proportions, similar to F80 > F82.

    9. #58
      Quote Originally Posted by ADDvanced View Post
      Maybe I'm in the minority but E36 sedans get me hot and bothered, and the coupes do basically nothing for me. I think the proportions of the sedan are FAR superior.
      Right there with you. Same with E30s. They were definitely originally designed as a four door sedan.


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    10. #59
      Planters (fasciitis) peanuts. Dang dogg Sold Over Sticker's Avatar
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      Really enjoyed the update. Great writing.

      My 540 did something similar with the water pump. Bearing failed, ton of shaft play, and it was walking around everywhere. I got off the freeway, and the car was shaking like it had a big block in it. I shut it off, and saw that the fan lost three of the four bolts holding the fan clutch to the water pump. Installed three bolts, thought that was it, but then a week later the water pump start pissing water out of the weep hole and that was that. Gotta love BMW's and cooling systems.
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    11. #60
      Member Jettaboy1884's Avatar
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      I agree, really great writing!

      I have barely even driven my B5 A4 yet, but the way you feel and describe your experience with the M3 just makes me more excited to get it on the road already. I fully expect it will be a maintenance hog and possibly leave me on the side of the road, but I agree that it's part of the process.

      There's really something about a naturally aspirated six cylinder, and the 90's were (I feel) the sweet spot of NA-6 manual transmission options. You picked probably one of the best ones, and in a package that lets you enjoy it for a large amount of the year.
      Last edited by Jettaboy1884; 10-10-2020 at 11:45 PM.

    12. #61
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      Thanks for posting this, I have been wanting one for a LONG time, glad to see someone making it happen!

    13. #62
      Member x(why)z's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by DrivinAW8 View Post
      I echo the statement above, you write beautifully. Please produce more content.

      Also, now you have me looking for Boston Green M3/4/5s. Or maybe a Techno Violet coupe, if I could be so lucky.
      Thank you! It means a lot. I've considered practicing and trying to find outlets to write some stuff, but that's a bit of a dream. My work is all-consuming.

      Quote Originally Posted by ADDvanced View Post
      Maybe I'm in the minority but E36 sedans get me hot and bothered, and the coupes do basically nothing for me. I think the proportions of the sedan are FAR superior.
      I don't disagree. I'm way more into the sedans than the coupes unless the coupe has a high spoiler.

      Quote Originally Posted by kiznarsh View Post
      The ambers really work well on the E36. I prefer clears on E39s but whether it's the fact that E36s are older or just the design itself, ambers just seem to blend better with the overall character.

      How are your side trim pieces on the doors/bumpers? Freshly-painted or new ones also have a big impact.

      And agreed, the sedans have better proportions, similar to F80 > F82.
      Agreed. As for my trim, it's in above-average shape for sure. One piece is starting to show some wear and getting looser than the rest, but it isn't a worry yet.
      Also, I subscribed to your youtube channel! I'm in to it!

      Quote Originally Posted by dan of montana View Post
      Right there with you. Same with E30s. They were definitely originally designed as a four door sedan.


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
      The proportions are incredibly good. I'm still amazed at just how small it really is. Anytime anyone gets in it, they make a comment about its diminutive proportions.

      Quote Originally Posted by Sold Over Sticker View Post
      Really enjoyed the update. Great writing.

      My 540 did something similar with the water pump. Bearing failed, ton of shaft play, and it was walking around everywhere. I got off the freeway, and the car was shaking like it had a big block in it. I shut it off, and saw that the fan lost three of the four bolts holding the fan clutch to the water pump. Installed three bolts, thought that was it, but then a week later the water pump start pissing water out of the weep hole and that was that. Gotta love BMW's and cooling systems.
      Thanks! I really do appreciate it. And what the **** was BMW thinking when they designed these cooling systems? Luckily it isn't hard to work on; it's just so brittle and bizarre.

      Quote Originally Posted by Jettaboy1884 View Post
      I agree, really great writing!

      I have barely even driven my B5 A4 yet, but the way you feel and describe your experience with the M3 just makes me more excited to get it on the road already. I fully expect it will be a maintenance hog and possibly leave me on the side of the road, but I agree that it's part of the process.

      There's really something about a naturally aspirated six cylinder, and the 90's were (I feel) the sweet spot of NA-6 manual transmission options. You picked probably one of the best ones, and in a package that lets you enjoy it for a large amount of the year.
      As I mentioned to you, I absolutely love the B5, too. In fact, I adore almost all Audis of that generation. The feeling of solidity is really wonderful while wafting down the road. They feel immensely capable to me.

      Quote Originally Posted by gtimusings View Post
      Thanks for posting this, I have been wanting one for a LONG time, glad to see someone making it happen!
      Do it while they're cheap! I can assure you that you would not regret it. And prices are climbing so you'd almost certainly be above water instantly if you buy it well.

    14. #63
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      Quote Originally Posted by ADDvanced View Post
      Maybe I'm in the minority but E36 sedans get me hot and bothered, and the coupes do basically nothing for me. I think the proportions of the sedan are FAR superior.
      Totally agreed, and I'll extend that to all platforms with 2D and 4D variants: the sedans always look a lot better.

    15. #64
      How do I resize a picture? Cabin Pics's Avatar
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      Great write up. Love your journey with this car.

      How old is your daughter? Mine is three and she absolutely loves going for spirited drives with me.

      RE: Sway bars, go for it. Totally changed the way the car behaves. I've got H&R race springs and dampeners, I've had them for over a year now. I thought that was a huge transition from the stock suspension, and it was. The car drove beautifully. Doing sway bars was equally as big of an enhancement. I don't know that I'd do sway bars before better than stock suspension, but paired with a solid suspension it's a beautiful thing.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Sold Over Sticker View Post
      You take that fake rich sled back to the toothless masses and rub their stupid meth faces in your success. Do it for me.

    16. #65
      Member x(why)z's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by StressStrain View Post
      Totally agreed, and I'll extend that to all platforms with 2D and 4D variants: the sedans always look a lot better.
      In almost any case, I agree. I just love sedans, especially fast ones.

      Quote Originally Posted by Cabin Pics View Post
      Great write up. Love your journey with this car.

      How old is your daughter? Mine is three and she absolutely loves going for spirited drives with me.

      RE: Sway bars, go for it. Totally changed the way the car behaves. I've got H&R race springs and dampeners, I've had them for over a year now. I thought that was a huge transition from the stock suspension, and it was. The car drove beautifully. Doing sway bars was equally as big of an enhancement. I don't know that I'd do sway bars before better than stock suspension, but paired with a solid suspension it's a beautiful thing.
      Thanks! Means a lot.

      Our daughter is two and loves anything with wheels. She has an awesome little all-metal push car like the one below but with red wheels. Can't get her off the thing.


      I've had a set of KW V1s in my Turner Motorsports cart for like three months but every time I go to buy them, something breaks at our house. It's never-ending. I'm up for promotion to the next rank at work later this fall, and I think I'm going to say **** it and treat myself if all goes as planned. Sway bars included.

    17. #66
      How do I resize a picture? Cabin Pics's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by x(why)z View Post
      I'm going to say **** it and treat myself if all goes as planned. Sway bars included.
      This is the right answer.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Sold Over Sticker View Post
      You take that fake rich sled back to the toothless masses and rub their stupid meth faces in your success. Do it for me.

    18. #67
      Member x(why)z's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Cabin Pics View Post
      This is the right answer.
      All the convincing I needed.

    19. #68
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      This thread keeps getting better and better. Lovely write up.

      And I snorted at the waterpump failure. Now you're officially an E36 owner. I've had a whole bunch of BMWs, on literally ALL of them (that is two E36s, two E39s, one E34, one E38) except my E30 (which I never actually registered and thus never actually drove) the cooling system failed in one way or another. On some the waterpump broke, on some it was the radiator, on some it was even both combined. I've never had a waterpump explode itself off the car, though.
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    20. #69
      Member x(why)z's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Dr.AK View Post
      This thread keeps getting better and better. Lovely write up.

      And I snorted at the waterpump failure. Now you're officially an E36 owner. I've had a whole bunch of BMWs, on literally ALL of them (that is two E36s, two E39s, one E34, one E38) except my E30 (which I never actually registered and thus never actually drove) the cooling system failed in one way or another. On some the waterpump broke, on some it was the radiator, on some it was even both combined. I've never had a waterpump explode itself off the car, though.
      I really appreciate that.

      As for the cooling systems, I think I may just do a full system upgrade at some point in the sort of near future. Especially because I plan to keep this thing forever. I'd love the peace of mind.

    21. #70
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      Your last pic made me think you should look at picking up some wheel spacers. Cheap, and would have less sink.
      I <3 Weird & Fast. Weirst? Faseird?

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    22. #71
      Geriatric Member ValveCoverGasket's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by ADDvanced View Post
      Maybe I'm in the minority but E36 sedans get me hot and bothered, and the coupes do basically nothing for me. I think the proportions of the sedan are FAR superior.
      x2

      and i think its true for all the later m3s i can think of off the top of my head. the 4drs look better proportioned


      whats the price range for these things lately?

      i really really like the pale yellow color these came in, but havent ever been a bmw guy...

    23. #72
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      Quote Originally Posted by ADDvanced View Post
      Your last pic made me think you should look at picking up some wheel spacers. Cheap, and would have less sink.
      Not a bad idea. I've never bought or run spaces. Any recommendations?

      Quote Originally Posted by ValveCoverGasket View Post
      x2

      and i think its true for all the later m3s i can think of off the top of my head. the 4drs look better proportioned


      whats the price range for these things lately?

      i really really like the pale yellow color these came in, but havent ever been a bmw guy...
      Prices vary. I bought mine in scruffy aesthetic condition but top-notch mechanically. It was $9k which is pretty dang low for one with such a thorough maintenance history and a clean title. They are getting more expensive by the week, though. A nice driver with a good history and average mileage (mine has 130k) can be anywhere from $12-$16k in sedan form.

      Low mileage Dakar yellow cars bring bigger numbers. Mileage isn't what you should watch for though. Maintenance history is key. They're robust cars if taken care of, but things WILL fail.

    24. #73
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      Not really. I'd just go on ebay and type in 5x120 spacers, there are all sorts of hubcentric ones that should work with your factory alloys in a variety of widths. Would probably find better info on a BMW board, but ... yeah. Cheap mod, OEM+, and should technically improve handling a miniscule amount.
      I <3 Weird & Fast. Weirst? Faseird?

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    25. #74
      Senior Member danny_16v's Avatar
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      I'd definitely go with a reputable brand on spacers. H&R, Turner, Bimmerworld, Rogue Engineering, or Motorsport hardware.

      While you're at it, may as well convert to studs, so you don't have to mess with different sized lug bolts. I used Motorsport Hardware. BMW enthusiast owned and lots of track guys use them.
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    26. #75
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      I would definitely NOT go with a reputable brand. It's a chunk of metal with some holes in it. It has no loads whatsover other than compression. You could technically make them yourself with a lathe and a drill press if you were careful about it. They're not high tech, save your money and buy ebay spacers and buy reputable versions of more important parts.

      Source: have been using ebay spacers for years, absolutely zero problems or issues ever.

      Now if we were talking about actual adapters, then I would agree with you.
      I <3 Weird & Fast. Weirst? Faseird?

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