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As a general rule, I try to do minimally invasive work, only removing enough paint to get the desired level of shine and clarity before coating. But occasionally there isn’t anything to work with as was the case with this fender flair. A good bit of paint was scraped off down to bare metal which had rusted.
Since this was a track car, I advised the owner that his best option was for me to just paint the flair, blend the arch, and compound the surrounding area. If it looks good from five feet, we’d call it a win. The result was better than expected.
After washing and using a clay bar to remove any rolled-up rubber on the surface, I sanded the edge down to bare metal. Given the amount of surface rust, I was surprised to see there wasn’t any pitting. There was evidence of some body filler so I didn’t roll the fender which I normally would have on a track car like this. Once sanded, I used a minimum amount rust inhibiting primer on the edge. I wet-sanded the primer flat, then scuffed the next two inches or so around it to prep for painting.
I cleaned it again and carefully sprayed the base coat on the lip and edge, blending only slightly into the fender where I had scuffed it previously. I waited 48 hours then wet-sanded the base coat along with a few more inches into the clear on the fender. This gave me about an eight inch margin to work with when I wet sanded the clear coat the next day.
After sanding, I used a wool cutting pad to compound, and finished with a foam polishing pad. After waiting a week, I coated the entire quarter panel with a ceramic coating. It’s not a lot of work and isn’t a complicated repair, but it takes a lot of time between the steps, so don’t rush it. And when someone tells you that you can’t get body shop results from a rattle-can, show them this. A special shout-out goes to Automotive Touchup Paint for such a great paint system.
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.
Most track event organizers (myself included) require in-car cameras and mobile devices to be securely mounted and tethered. This is to prevent the device from coming loose on track and possibly getting under the driver’s feet. This video looks at two solutions for securing the Garmin Catalyst: The Garmin Cage Mount as well as a 3D printed clip mount.
So whether you’re using the stock Garmin suction mount or have attached a fixed ball mount to your car, you need to think how to secure a tether. This video can help.
Click here to purchase the Garmin Catalyst Driving Performance Optimizer.
Click here to purchase the Garmin Cage Mount. (Which should be back in stock mid-November 2021)
Click here to download the files to 3D print your own clip.
If you installed brake ducts in your E46 M3 track car, chances are you also removed the windshield washer reservoir (aka, “windshield cleaning container” part number 61 67 7 895 571). The container wraps around the AC dryer and sits in the path of the Hardmotorsport bumper duct inlet. If you no longer drive your car on the street, this probably makes sense. After all, a track build is all about adding lightness and removing complexity. If you still drive it on the street, it can also be about bugs. Lots of bugs. Bugs smeared on your windshield. Since I still drive this car on the street, I decided I wanted to find a way to retrofit a smaller container in the smuggler’s hold.
The compartment already has mounting points you can attach to. All you need to do is fabricate a bracket and get a small container. I got this 2 quart one from US Plastic.
Once you locate the container, then all you need is power, ground, and the hose to the spray nozzles. (I just hooked up the windshield nozzles, not the headlight washers.) Ground is easy as there are multiple grounding points close-by. For power, I ran a wire along the existing wiring harness and picked up the positive connection in the wiring loom that I disconnected from the factory container. To get to the hose, I just had to measure the run I needed, then unwrap it from the wiring harness and cut to length. All in, it’s a very clean install.
When I gutted the interior of the M3 I had to find a new home for the combo door lock – emergency flasher switch. I originally used some Gorilla tape and stuck it to the shifter console, but it didn’t hold up to the 90+ degree days of summer. So I decided to fabricate a bracket with my 3D printer.
I found a CAD file to hold a BMW OBD II port and resized it. It turns out this switch is 93% as wide and 150% as long as the standard OBD II port.
I attached a couple of riv-nuts to the console and bolted it up. I may need to reprint it in ABS plastic, but lets see how it holds up.