Talk me into selling my E36 for a 94-98 Cobra - Ford Mustang Forums : Corral.net Mustang Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 04-24-2009, 08:57 AM Thread Starter
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Talk me into selling my E36 for a 94-98 Cobra

I think i'm just tired of worrying if/when something is going to break. I've had my 1995 M3 for 8 months now, have yet to track it, and dont know if i want to keep it. Love how my 93 GT starts right up every time, even after sitting for 6 months at a time. M3 seems to be that super hot GF that takes your money just because she is present.

Basically i'm looking for people with E36 and SN95 Cobra experience, that also lightly track their cars, to chime in. Either remindi me that its an M3 and its worth the price of admision to have such a well rounded car, or tell me to sell the thing and get in the "more economical" choice that'll be just as fast for my needs/wants.

PS: I'm also 6'7" and dont fit that great in the M3... test fitting recaro SRDs this weekend but if that doesnt work then the SRDs will go great in a cobra


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post #2 of 37 Old 04-24-2009, 10:06 AM
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If you like the way the E36 M3's feel you'll be disappointed with the SN95 Cobras. A New Edge Cobra or '03/'04 Mach 1 is a better alternative to the E36's than the SN95's.


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post #3 of 37 Old 04-24-2009, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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while i do like the steering and brake feel of my E36, i just commute to work and go on weekend cruises with the car most of the time. I prefer the look of SN95 cobras to the Mach1/terminator cars and they're cheaper to get into.

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post #4 of 37 Old 04-24-2009, 12:02 PM
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I've typed and deleted a response several times and I'm having a hard time conveying my thoughts. I have a 96 GT which, sans motor, is essentially the same or better than a Cobra and a relatively stock 97 M3 sedan, the only changes that have been made are Bilstein PSS9s and a Remus exhaust.

The cars each have a completely different feel; the M3 is more composed and fluid, however the mustang is a little more raw (mostly in regards to NVH) which doesn't bother me at all, and in some respects adds to its value. I have yet to drive the M3 on track, but based upon street manners I would not expect anything different. The mustang is a blast on track because it makes relatively no power for its weight (~210hp) and performs well for what it is. The consumables (pads, rotors, etc.) are relatively cheap (mostly because the car struggles to hit triple digits on big straights, i.e. VIR) and are easy to swap. Since installing some newer suspension components (Griggs coil overs front and rear, control arms, etc.) the car should feel a lot better, but I haven't had time to get on track since.

Since I've already spent more than I care to tally up on the Mustang I don't see myself getting rid of it anytime soon. The same can be said for the M3; the car is just fun to drive because it does everything well in stock form. I eventually want to do wheel-to-wheel racing, so I'm going to stick with the Mustang for track purposes, but I'd have 0 problems using the BMW on track. However if I were using the car only for HPDE and maybe a Time Trial the M3 would win out. It would be a car that I could drive to and from the track without sacrificing anything.

Would I sell my M3 to buy a Cobra? Not a chance.

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post #5 of 37 Old 04-24-2009, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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What kind of recaros do u have in ur GT and how much lower/further back do they sit? Are you using factory recaro sliders?

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post #6 of 37 Old 04-24-2009, 12:42 PM
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I have an old SRD in the driver's side and a Sport in the passenger side. Both are on Wedge brackets and what I assume are the factory Recaro sliders. I'm 6'0" and have a sufficient space in the driver's side and have a little more room to slide back, but not a lot as I have a roll bar. I am somewhat cramped when I ride in the passenger side; not really enough space to stretch my legs out and if I bring them towards me my knees will touch the dash. I haven't had stock seats in the car in a while (I had a pair of Corbeaus in the car prior to the Recaros) but I do know it sits lower; by how much I could not say.

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post #7 of 37 Old 04-24-2009, 02:14 PM
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Having driven several E36 M3's and more SN95 Cobras than I can count on a road course, there's no comparison between the M3 and any Mustang, prepped or not. The M3 is MUCH more capable. Plus, there's almost as much aftermarket support for the M3 as for the Mustang. I wouldn't be any more concerned about maintaining, repairing, or modifying the E36 M3 than I would be the Cobra.

Given the choice between the M3 and the Cobra, I'd opt for the M3 almost any time. It's simply a better car in almost all respects.

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post #8 of 37 Old 04-24-2009, 03:35 PM
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I would only ditch an E36 for a S197. And even then only maybe.

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post #9 of 37 Old 04-24-2009, 03:50 PM
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What would you like to do with the car? A M3 is pretty much better at everything compared to '79 fairmont with a body kit. It does cost more to own, but I would say you get what you pay for. If you want a track whore, I'd get something cheap with RWD (fox cars are great for this). If you want a drivable street car, I'd stick with the M3 between those two choices, but there are tons of other cars that are fun to drive around on the street too.
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post #10 of 37 Old 04-24-2009, 06:05 PM
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Fox, SN95, New Edge mustangs all handle pretty much the same, like crap. You can get them to perform really well, but it takes a lot of money. The M3 is better in every way. But if I were you I'd sell all three cars and buy a C5 Z06.


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post #11 of 37 Old 04-25-2009, 04:13 AM
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My ol' 97 Cobra has been a great car. It was a daily driver/drag car for a few years. At 103K miles I started Open tracking it. It handles well enough to have fun. I even won my time trial class last year ( mostly because I made every event ). I've averaged about 15 HPDE days a year for the last 4 years, and have never returned from the track on a tow truck.

A few negatives, the 4V engine and parts are expensive. You learn far more about brakes than you really want to. And to keep up with the BMW's and pesky spec miata's you have to run real stiff springs and R-compound tires, which start messing with your routine street driving.

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post #12 of 37 Old 04-27-2009, 03:34 PM
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A buddy of mine with a '98 M3 with all the suspension bells and whistles is about 4 seconds per lap slower (Road Atlanta) than my '98 Cobra with a full MM suspension. He is a BMWCCA instructor, so I assume he knows how to drive the thing. That said, if I were going to spend any time on the street, I would go with the M3 for sure.

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post #13 of 37 Old 04-27-2009, 07:57 PM
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I have a 91 mustang gt with full mm and basically 250whp. Both my brothers have 328 with springs and shocks. There cars arnt that fast(strait line), and if i could only choose 1 I would pick the mustang, but my next car would be a e36 bmw. These are my 2 favorite cars in the world. Knowing u already have a mustang, keep the m3.

Side note. I am 6 foot and with a helmet my head almost hits the ciling in the bmw, by my brother is 6'3" and his head has to be cocked with a helment, so im guessing there is no chance u can wear a helmet and drive the bmw.

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post #14 of 37 Old 04-28-2009, 10:38 AM
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If you are talking out of the box, the BMW is probably the way to go...

If you have a couple grand, I would for sure do the cobra.

I love my 96 cobra, it is a much better built car in every imagineable way (other than maybe weight) than a fox, and this is coming from a 10+ year fox owner.

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post #15 of 37 Old 04-28-2009, 11:47 PM
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There are plenty of mods for the E36 M3 and especially because yours is the last year of OBD1. You can do a lot with that computer and also follow the aftermarket parts with them just like the Mustangs. Would I sell one to get a 94-98 Cobra? Probably not if I drove it every day. The big thing on the M cars is routine maintenance. That particular year and model M3 is pretty sought after in the BMW crowd. They were a well built chassis, light compared to the late models, computer mods are easy for hp upgrades through 1995, and a lot of aftermarket parts are made for them.

Luke, it has to be a matter of taste. I've driven a fully MM prepped 96 Cobra and the power band of the motor just wasn't as fun to me as 5.0. The one thing you didn't do to your LX (the TA) would have sealed the deal for you. But, you're pretty chatty about this Cobra, so I'm sure you're happy with it. The 94-98's just aren't for me.

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post #16 of 37 Old 04-29-2009, 12:32 AM
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that really would be a tough choice... It all depends on personal taste. I'veridden in a few m3's and really liked them. for me, the nearly constant (and sometimes) expensive maintenance routines were the killer for me. it's been the main reason I've never owned a car of that marquee. If you are already cramped, the seat will just be a band-aid. you'll still feel cramped at some point. besides, if that car already has a set me 'vader" seats, you reallyaren't going to find a much more comfy seat.

the cobra has a lot of potential, but that requires some commitment to mods, and deciding how much nvh you can/will tolerate. a mustang with 800-1000# springs up front doesn't exactly side like a cadillac, but it isn't unbearable. I've been on 8hr road trips in my H&r Race sprung gt, and made it home with nary a concern or issue.

On mods, the modular cars are almost exponentially more expensive when it comes to engine mods than the windsor-based cars the linear feel to the modular is kind of eerie at first, but itdelivers power so smoothly, it almost feels effortless. On the other hand, the grunt of that tried and true windsor is something every car nut should experience, and the brakes and better suspension geometry make for almost the cake, and you can eat it too!

On a side note, they both sound so sexy with the right exhaust!

disclaimer: if this post appears to be ramblings of an exhausted college student, it is because that's exactly what it is. Finals week sucks donkey genitals. sorry for whoring up your thread-carry on.

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post #17 of 37 Old 04-29-2009, 05:15 AM
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Buy me a "99" silver M3, and I'll give you my fox. Extra brakes, parts, and all receipts...all yours

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post #18 of 37 Old 04-29-2009, 01:36 PM
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what are these expensive routine matinence cost your talking about. My brothers 3 series rarley brake and its usually somthing easy to figure out. Maybe they are just lucky.

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post #19 of 37 Old 04-30-2009, 09:23 AM
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Maximum, the E36's can survive pretty well without the regular maintenance suggested by BMW. The M motors need to have the valves adjusted and timing belt changed at certain mileages. The E46 bodystyle isn't as forgiving because the motor has over 100hp per liter. That motor is something that really should have the maintenance done on the schedule suggested by BMW. It's a matter of the car being much more reliable long term with that correct maintenance. The E36 should have it's maintenance if you want the car to be trouble free a majority of its life span. If you use the dealer for the recommended service it gets expensive very quick. There are smaller shops that can do the service but I would do some research on the small independent shops before taking my M3 to them. Racers Edge is here local to me and they have a shop for Porsche's and BMW's with friends of mine who used to work at BMW and Porsche dealerships as techs. That's the kind of place I'd want to take my M3.

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post #20 of 37 Old 04-30-2009, 01:50 PM
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I have a DD & "light" open track Cobra. I've driven a few M3s on the street and one on the track.
Yeah, no comparison stock or nearly stock.
I wouldn't want to commute in an older M3 for damn sure. But if you want a really capable Stang it means the full rig from Max Motorsports or Griggs and you've lost the "commuterness" of the Cobra.
Otherwise, I can't say I've seen a Mustang break at the track. I've seen a couple M3s have major issues. They're built kinda at the ragged edge and that means it won't be as realiable as any near stock car.
For a DD the Cobra is better; for OT the M3. Which is more important?

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post #21 of 37 Old 04-30-2009, 02:43 PM
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I've seen a couple M3s have major issues. They're built kinda at the ragged edge and that means it won't be as realiable as any near stock car.
For a DD the Cobra is better; for OT the M3. Which is more important?
I just can't agree. It's awfully hard to bean an M-car for providing good track manners along with good street manners. BMW nailed it and with each sucessive generation it just gets better. The E36's ride is a little stiff, but MUCH more comfortable than a Mustang's who's been prepped to where it can run similar lap times. Later M3's just widen the gap.

I know PLENTY of M3's (from E30s up to the present,) that are open-tracked monthly by several of my co-instructors, and they rarely, if ever break. And when they do, it's generally something minor. An these cars get beat on a LOT. They're on the track generally once a month. They're driven in 5 or 6 20-minute sessions each day, and many of them run an extra two or three sessions per weekend to take students out for specific reasons. these cars a hardly garage queens.

I know a certain '01 M3 that races in GT1 with a bone-stock motor that has well over 100k miles on it and it's never been touched.

I also know PLENTY of Mustangs that break regularly.

My point is, it's more about how you maintain the car than it is who's badge is on the fender. You take care of it and it'll last, no matter who made it.

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post #22 of 37 Old 04-30-2009, 11:04 PM
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Goodson, I guess I was not thinking about paying for things to get done, in that case things can get really expensive.

Though no matter what way you look at it, this is a tough decision and you cant go wrong either way. It took me like 9 months to save up for my mustang, and it was like 2 months before I bought it that i knew i wanted a mustang over a bmw, though in the end I hope to have both.

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post #23 of 37 Old 05-17-2009, 04:38 AM
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I used to own a '98 M3 Coupe before replacing it with our present 540i. I miss that car. Haven't had a chance to really play with our '94 Cobra yet, but the guy who owned it before me spent a fair amount of money on the suspension as he enjoyed auto cross and such. That said, from what I have seen / experienced, it's pretty fun; but just doesn't compare in terms of handling, control and overall composure to the M3. This shouldn't be surprising. After all, we're talking about apples and oranges here. One car sold new for, what? $20k? The other twice that plus some good sized change? I'm not a brand snob, trust me, but if you've owned the cars in question it's not too hard to see that money didn't just go towards the badges & name. And that engine... smooth, linear, damn near bullet proof, will bounce off the rev limiter all day long... not nearly as powerful as the Mustang in the torque department, but BMW really knows their stuff when it comes to the inline six. (Actually, it's really more of a slant-six, but anyway...) Auto crossed it a few times, did a few laps around Thunderhill... but I do live in the mountains... so hard driving was frequently the order of the day.

One area the Mustang has the BMW beat, without question, is the affordability of upgrades in the power department. Want to supercharge your M3? That'll be $5k. Want to turbo? That'll be $10k+. Want to do cams? Start at a grand, work your way up. Suppose suspension is a wash. Stock brakes on the M3 are leaps and bounds better than the Cobra. If you want, grab some Euro rotors, some uprated pads, spiffy gold/blue fluid and you're pretty much set for anthing other than serious track use. The Cobra? Yeah... ummm... lots of money to bring it on par? (No idea what a great brake kit costs for these cars, but would wager $1.5k to start?)

Anyway... sorry for rambling. I'm a tired SOB today and nothing realted to installing my motor went right to boot. They're both fun cars. But in all honesty, if I had to chose between an E36 M3 and a SN95 Cobra? I'd keep the M3... power deficit and all.

BTW - if a guy pushing 7' could drive a E36, so can you. (No, not me, I'm only 6'6") All about the right seat and the right people making the right brackets for you.

Oh... sorry... BTW #2. I drove my M3. A LOT. 600+ miles a week a lot. For about two years. Lots, and LOTS, of twisty mountain roads. Am thinking hard here... but honestly don't recall any serious problems with the car. Tires, sure. And brakes too. Run of the mill maintainence stuff. (Don't forget the transmission & diff fluids... fuel filter too) But IIRC we never replaced the clutch. Passenger side seatbelt buckle had a gremlin related to the airbag sensor. Oh, a O2 sensor went bad. Ah, and yes, the water pump & radiator shortly after buying. (Will admit, BMW and cooling systems are a strange thing. At least the new cars seem to have solved that... finally.) Ummmm.................... ??? Put around 65k on it during the short time I owned it. Was really quite a solid and reliable car. YMMV of course and not saying a Mustang wouldn't be just as good... just not understanding why people think BMW's are so high maintainence.

Right - good night!

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Project - '94 Cobra + 331 now running & driving; still need to get everything working smoothly & fix some kinks.
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post #24 of 37 Old 05-17-2009, 07:03 AM
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5k SC and 1k+ cams setup doesn't sound much different from buying off the shelf parts for a 32v mod motor...

I'd never sell an M3 for a mustang.
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post #25 of 37 Old 05-17-2009, 03:39 PM
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Sorry, was only thinking about the old 302's when listing prices. Mod motor stuff isn't familiar to me. But surely a basic entry level SC can be had for less than $5k?
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post #26 of 37 Old 05-17-2009, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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i think around $5K is right for a blower for a mod motor... with all the trim of course...

im thinking at this point that i'm gonna get rid of my M3 if my asking price is met and keep the garage clean for now. We'll see how the sale goes. Kinda hope it doesnt happen but i'd rather get rid of the car before a new "project" takes off and gets out of control...

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post #27 of 37 Old 05-17-2009, 03:50 PM
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For the hell of it I looked @ superchagersonline.com and their price for a 96-97 Vortech V-1 SC-Trim, satin is $3,650. Just FWIW and to satisfy my curiosity.
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post #28 of 37 Old 05-18-2009, 12:10 AM
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If you're going to really track it, M3. Period. My brother (98 M3) and I (Novi'd 99 Cobra) hit the track 5-8 times per year. I just spent the weekend pretty much doing triple duty in his car since mine broke after the first session. His car is my backup car and his primary car.

Its now a gutted track you know what but completely stock suspension and drive train. Sub-3k weight. Drop, Dead, Reliable and fast.

It really does need a suspension upgrade but its a hoot to drive and very easy to do so competently versus any Mustang short of an all out modified track you know what.

You're not going to get that out of Mustang. Enjoy it. Track it.

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post #29 of 37 Old 05-18-2009, 10:10 AM
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Wow, if this thread/idea were a boat, I would be in the same one, but going the opposite way! I have a busted 98 Cobra sitting in my garage, and am having a tough time deciding what to do with it. One one hand, I REALLY like the car and want to rebuild the motor to ~330rwhp and upgrade the suspension (was thinking of the MM road and track pack). On the other hand, I always have wanted a 96-99 M3.

I priced out everything I want to do with the mustang, and once I'm done, I will have spent roughly $10k on it. Figure a starting value of $3-4k. Not to mention all the work I would be doing myself. So my question is: do I do the rebuild, or unload it to some poor soul to do himself and buy a M3 at the end of the summer for ~12k?

Good luck on your decision. If you want a project mustang send me an PM. If I were in your shoes, I would keep the M3. About fitting well in the car: you're 6'7". You're not going to fit well in ANY car. Just accept your gift (I'm 5'6") and move on
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post #30 of 37 Old 05-18-2009, 12:35 PM
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my buddy had a 97 M3, i cant tell you how much he had to put into it after he started driving it hard, he snapped a few of the bolts holding the rear assembly, on several occasions, not to mention when the trunklid got dented in about an inch it was over $1500 to fix, and it was found that the frame was slightly tweaked from the driving abuse (not what dented the trunklid)

that all said, it was a sick car to drive though, and it would give me a problem deciding too, but i'd be more inclined to go for the cobra, personally, my stepdad's 97 vert wasnt too far off from the m3 IMHO (both blew away my 90 and my 86 fox's in handling and braking, lol)
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post #31 of 37 Old 05-18-2009, 02:53 PM
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I've owned a 99 BMW M3 (currently own a 93 325is w/M3 cams and software; also setup like a M3 suspension wise and getting a 302 ) and I'm looking a Cobra for a daily as well.

The M3 was really not a maintenance whore if you get a non-abused, well maintained car. It can nickle and dime you to death. As far as the E36 chassis, the only thing other than consumables (oil, gas, plugs, and fluids) was water pump and belts. Yes you have the guibo flex disc, center driveshaft bearing, trailing arm bushing, and motor/trans mounts to deal with, but other than that it's been pretty rock solid.

Where it fell down was the power dept. 325is w/ M3 cams and software = ~200-210whp and 190 wtq. My M3 was ~220-225whp and 220wtq. Both power plants provided ultra smooth power up to 7300rpm. But after driving V8s (302 Fox and LS1 GTO), I crave the POWA!!

My 325is should come in at ~2400# + mild 320whp 302 would be nuts for XP (AutoX) and some OT/TT fun! On the E36 chassis I recommend H&R shocks and springs, good brake fluid, throw on some OEM AutoZone blank rotors, some GOOD pads and deal out death defying threshold braking virtually all day. Then ride home knowing you DD your car without taking outta kidney or a filling on the way to work the next day. All that for the price of the car + ~1K in suspension stuffs.

-=PJ
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post #32 of 37 Old 05-19-2009, 08:00 AM
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Wouldn't you ruin the balance by throwing a V8 in an M3?
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post #33 of 37 Old 05-19-2009, 08:58 AM
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Not really. The I-6 weights about 450-470lbs fully accessorized. And some of it hangs off in front of the axle.

If wanted more power, the forced induction bits would easily bring that up to 520+lbs. The only thing that would be lighter is my wallet

A 302 with aluminum heads + alternator and P/S will sit behind the front axle and weight about 450lbs.

And if I want to get fancy, I can corner weight it (too involved for this build).

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post #34 of 37 Old 05-19-2009, 09:05 AM
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Wouldn't you ruin the balance by throwing a V8 in an M3?
Vorshlag www.vorshlag.com has had kits for years to put an LS1 6 speed combo into the E36 BMW body. I remember following the article of the first car they did that to. It was just a basic 325 two door that they used. That's been several years ago. I want to say they chose the all aluminum LS1 to help keep the balance like the M3. I'm sure it affected the balance of the car. But, I'd say the power made up for that.

If Strike is right then the balance of the car may be better with the LS1. The 6 speed would put more of the weight towards the rear. The car may be more balanced with the right suspension pieces.

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post #35 of 37 Old 05-19-2009, 09:12 AM Thread Starter
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if i keep the M3 an LS1 is in its future... but im really hoping that the car sells and i get to work on my fox a bit more than i have been.

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