Right now, the E36 M3 is probably fully depreciated. A low mileage one in great condition will cost $9-$11K and still require $3-$5K of work. A high mileage one in fair condition like this one might fetch $3-$6K. The owner of this car wanted to sell it, but was not attracting any buyers at his price point. It makes no sense at all to drop $10K on a restoration and $5K on suspension, tires, and repairs to have a $10-$12K car when you’re done. That’s where the idea of preservation not restoration plays out.
It looks like the whole car has been resprayed at least once with some areas getting resprayed 2 or 3 more times. The paint was heavily oxidized, scratched, and cracked on the hood. The cracking is probably due to excessive amounts of filler that were not allowed to cure before respraying at some point. Not much I can do about the cracks, but I can bring it back to an even shine so it looks great from 5 feet away.
I worked on this car for about three days and would typically charge between $750 and $900 depending on total effort and supplies expended. After a long soak, pressure wash, and clay bar, I wet sanded the hood and compounded the entire car before polishing. The trim was flaking off so it was repainted in satin black before coating the car in Reflex Pro II ceramic coating. I then framed the car in ceramic trim coat. With regular maintenance washes the coating should last 1-2 years.
The key to a black car (or white for that matter) is actually the trim. Sure, you need to get the paint to a uniform level of shine, but getting the trim as dark as possible makes it pop. The leather seats were also worn and cracked, but after a deep cleaning, minor repairs, and a good sanding, they came back very nicely with several applications of Leather Fresh as did the steering wheel.
It’s not often that you get to drive a new circuit at your home track. But for our recent HPDE at the Summit Point Shenandoah Circuit, we got to do just that by driving counter race for a session.
The Shenandoah Circuit has a couple of different configurations in the normal (counter clockwise) race direction. Most of these involve adding chicanes or extra corners in the Pistol Grip section which just make an already busy track even busier. If you don’t want to drive the Karussel, there’s the inner apron, or the outer apron available to you. You can also cut off the Karussel entirely by taking the bus-stop cut over to the Corkscrew under the Bridge. I wanted to try something completely different. So for the first session on Friday, I had the instructors drive the track clockwise with the corkscrew to bus-stop cut over. As you can see from the video it was a very different track.
I have a greater appreciation for the elevation changes in various parts of the circuit, and also a sense of just how many of the turn entries and exits are off camber. And on a predominately right handed circuit with off camber entries, I realized I sit too low in the car now and cannot see the majority of the right hand apexes. Given that no one in the group really knew the line, it was a great learning experience and will be repeated in the future. I think next time, I’ll have the instructors and advanced students drive this direction for a half-day on Friday.
Assuming that you’re not going back to a stock wheel with airbag any time soon, you just need to grind back the connectors, leaving the two pins circled in the photo for the horn. Use a continuity tester to figure out which is ground and hook up your connectors on the Quick Release hub. Then hook the horn button to the wheel half of the QR and you’re all set.
For a more detailed write up of how to do this yourself, see this post from 2017. The parts on the E46 M3 and the R53 MINI are almost identical.
I have the opportunity this month to have two events on the same track. At the beginning of June I instructed with PCA at the Shenandoah Circuit, Summit Point Motorsports Park, and at the end of June I return with BMW. I’ve always wanted to see if I could gather data to answer two common questions: How much faster will I be on track tires? And, how effective is coaching an experienced driver?
So the answer to the first one is fairly straight forward, but since this track can have several different layouts, let’s establish some controls. We will not use the banked Karussel, but instead take the inside apron. We will run the Old Ram cut-off instead of running through the hot grid, and we will drive the Range Straight instead of the Range Esses.
I have 75+ days on this track and data on several hundred laps, that until now, were always on max performance summer tires (treadler 200 or greater.) My best recorded time was 1:44.73. At the start of this first weekend in June, I did a few sessions on Falken 615Ks (treadwear 200) and then switched to Toyo RRs (treadwear 40.) The best on the Falkens was 1:44.87 (so 0.14 sec off of my best). The best on the Toyos was 1:42.96, an improvement of 1.77 sec over my best, and 1.91 sec better than the Falkens on the same day. Average the two together and that’s a 1.84 sec improvement or just about 1.75%. So, just by spending money on better tires, I was faster, but that doesn’t mean I was better.
Armed with my new faster tires, I then asked one of my fellow instructors, Paul Bylis to ride along and coach me. I listened to his advice for a session, and then went out on my own again. This time, my best lap was a 1:41.97. A further improvement of 0.99 sec. So now I have a rough comparison of the value of coaching (which for me is free since I just have to ask for it) vs. spending money on more expensive tires.
The Catalyst tells me I’m still leaving a three fourths of a second on the table.
On Monday, it was my privilege to be able to instruct at the Ferrari of Washington track day at Summit Point. It was a beautiful fall day, with great people and wonderful food. Thanks to all who pulled this together.