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'95 BMW M3
15 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey W124ers! I'll hopefully be joining your ranks sometime this winter. I currently drive a 1995 BMW M3 that I've had since I was 18. I bought it with 142k, its about to click over to 178k right now, and thanks to many, many, many projects, it's only gotten better with age.

As much as I love the car, its loud, stiff, and not really the most comfortable car to commute in every day in DC area traffic. I'd also like to be able to tackle larger, long term projects where I can focus on replacing and refinishing everything properly, instead of always having to rush to get it back together for Monday morning.

I drove a 500E when I was 16. I had only really driven stickshifts aside from my dad's Diesel F-250 and the driver's ed car, so I have a distinct memory of scaring the bejeezus out of myself kicking that bad sumbitch down into 2nd gear. As much as I'd love to own a 500E/E500 for myself, paying $12k+ for secondary daily driver doesn't seem wise.

Instead, I've been thinking of picking up a facelifted '94 or '95 E320, or ideally an E420 in black or gray to mimick this look.

I'd do the monoblocks, the drop and the tint. I might gently pull the front fenders but nothing extravagant, and certainly no sheetmetal work.

I've owned quite a few vehicles in my relatively short driving career, and I have a track record of ending up with a car/motorcycle and big dreams, with no money left to make it happen. This time I plan to save the total cost of the project up front, so that I can buy a car, all needed parts to bring it back into "solid driving" condition, refurbish it cosmetically and do a full paint correction, and buy the wheels and suspension. If I choose to go down this path, I want to buy the car and have everything I need to "build it" before I even start using it on a daily basis.

I'm still in the conceptual stages, so all I really wanted to do was introduce myself on the forum. I will be lurking here over the next few months trying to get a feel for the market value of these cars and the cost of parts, as well as all the common issues, so I can craft a budget and set a savings goal.


1995 E320
2,539 Posts

An E420 won't have the same "kick" as a 500E because of the gearing.

You'll probably want to source a 2.82 diff or a 2.65 to replace the long legged 2.24 in the E420. Of course that will increase your fuel consumption.

1,879 Posts
I find it I put my 400E in 1st at a stop light and floor it I accelerate fairly briskly. If I leave it in "D" it is somewhat leisurely.

2005 E55
785 Posts
Nice e36! I love those m3's and the e30's and the e34's and e24's ;)

Actually I'm in the process of helping my friend out with his e34 525i. His car keeps dying cause it runs out of juice randomly. Looks like the voltage reg on the alternator is gone. I love the OBC's on those old bimmers, so ahead of their time.

MB's are just something else though. You gotta own one to know.

One thing to keep a eye out if your buying later model cars are the wiring harnesses. Do some research and you will see what I'm talking about.

Good luck!

Premium Member
2005 CLK500 w/30K
842 Posts
good e36 to W124 perspective

Wow, I had an E36 right before my 400e. It was also a 1993, like my W124.

It was a 325is Coupe and as someone said, the OBC was fun and useful. That said, I had a couple real issues with the E36. Mainly, the interior was coming unglued (literally) faster than I could put it back together. The driver's side door card had a vinyl face that was glued to a particle board backing. The vinyl came unglued and pulled tight, making it impossible to use the armrest.

I got used to keeping my arm on the window sill but ended up seeing a doctor about pain in my arm, you guessed it, it was the angle I had to use to keep arm in the air. So I got a new door card from Ebay and discovered that it was a slightly different color.

The beige leather seats were cracking and color was flaking off. They looked used and gross, especially after I took some leather cleaner to them.

The valve cover gasket leaked oil in exactly the perfect way to send vile smelling oil smoke right into the ventilation system.

I worked a few days on a movie in the Mojave and the AC was working great in the E36. I stopped for a quick slash and the AC never worked again. It was 114 F and I sweated myself into a sopping mess on my way back to LA. Never really forgave it for that.

One weekend I flew to Dallas and drove my brother's MB E63. I came back and started looking for a V8 Mercedes in my price range. The BMW was "sportier" but I never grew to love that buzzy straight 6.

My 400e has had it's share of issues but the interior is holding up much better. I imagine black leather has an easier time, but keep in mind that the e36 looked like garbage in 2006 and the 400e still looks better 6 years later.

I will be selling the 400e soon. It currently needs an ETA/TPS unit or rewire and a set of brake pads. But many of the W124 issues have already been dealt with in the 4 years I have had car.

1. Transmission completely rebuilt, has nice long warranty.
2. New motor mounts
3. New Fan Clutch
4. New front flex disc (didn't need it, so I still have original as spare)
5. New wiring harness (used one, but made long after MB switched to real wire)
6. New driver's window regulator
7. New front brake rotors
8. New cap & rotors (distributor)
9. New Goodyear 215 tires in last 5K miles.
10. Has the 1992 ECU for an extra splurt of gas at WOT. Good for 7-15hp.
11. Added the Rainbow front speakers in dash, much nicer high frequencies. ($400)

I just got a W209 so as soon as I have the 400e running smoothly, I will be selling it. I just flew to Seattle to see a car that someone LIED extensively about so my goal will be to be as gratuitously honest as possible.

The poster who stated that a rear end switch is what these cars need was right and probably worth thinking about. I actually called some places up in Sun Valley about this. I seem to recall that an SL had same rear end, they called it a "pumpkin" and said they had 2.65 on hand for $800. I found another place near there that would install it for $400.

The car is kind of "meh" from 0-35 or so then seems to come "on the cam" and tries to make up for the less than sparkling start it got. From 40-100 it is solid and fast. The 70-90 kickdown will surprise & startle you. And while my E36 was pretty good there, the 400e would definitely leave it for dead past 70 MPH.

The only reason I never did the rear end swap was I have always LOVED the mileage I got on long runs up the 5. While I have never gotten to hit 30 MPG, I have had several runs that hit 29 MPG and can count on 27-28 even going 80-90 MPH. Errands around stop & go LA with the AC on will net you less than half that, but I get a kick out of reading posts from the straight 6 folks getting all excited about getting the same MPG on highway when I know that my 400e can match their highway MPG AND leave them blown into the weeds with it's extra HP. So lowering that rear axle would improve 0-60 by a second or so, but would take some bite out of that fuel mileage. I also imagine that having 120,000 miles with a 2.24 rear end is similar to having 90,000 with a 2.72 rear end. So the engine will have an unnaturally long life due to that "let's make the 500e seem extra special by kneecapping the 400e" rear end.

The 400e is a far more solid and substantial car then the BMW E36. The doors close like a bank vault and the interior seems content to stay glued together. If you want a solid, rust free California 400e mine will be up for sale in next 2 weeks.

The '94-95 look a little better and I think they have much easier to deal with sound systems but otherwise they are pretty much identical. (I think you can put 94-95 headlights & hood on a 92-93 and get same look)

Good luck with whatever car you purchase !!!
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