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Newbie Questions

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  • Newbie Questions

    OK, so I've been lurking around here for a little while as I shopped for my car. I finally got my long lusted after M3 and am loving it. I have a few questions though:

    Here's a little background on the car. My mechanic has owned this car for the last 5 years or so. I've been stalking it since he first came across it. He bought it from a customer who rear-ended someone in it. Insurance totalled the car and the mechanic bought and fixed it. Wound up replacing the hood, grill, and both front fenders. No serious structural damage. The title has been restored and is now clean but that history allowed me to buy the car for what I consider a steal: $8000.

    Part 2: This car is a 1987 model that was imported into the US by European Car Centre. The car originally had a dogleg tranny that was damaged some how. The mechanic replaced it with a US spec M3 tranny after seeing the price of a dogleg unit.

    I'm trying to do a little research and have hit some roadblocks.

    First off, the VIN. I can't find anything that matches up to the VIN on the car: WBSAK0500011891496. I'm trying to find the production date of the car to see just how early it was produced.

    Secondly: How many of the features are specific to the Euro car? This car has a cloth interior which I don't believe was available in the US. Black and Grey houndstooth pattern on the seats and doors. There is a rear window shade built into the rear valance. Was this available on US cars? There is an auxilary fuel tank in the trunk. Was this US, Euro, or optional?

    And last: the car had several things done to it as a part of the import. A Cat was added, seat belt warning light, different speedometer, and I believe the side marker lights. I've looked at MANY pictures of M3s and some have side marker lights and some don't. On the cars that do, they are made into the indent that goes all the way around the bumper cover. These sit below the indent and are a different shape.

    So, does anyone have any information? Lots of questions, I know but I'm just getting started and not finding a lot of answers. I have LOTS of pictures of the car on my website.
    I've been really enjoying the car and I hope to piece some of the puzzle together.

    This board is GREAT! Thanks!

  • #2
    I don't know. It depends on your budget, but if you can stretch another five large you can pick up a car without any stories. All of that extraneous stuff sort of worries me. Personally, I've never seen those sidemarkers before on any US or European version car, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

    But, Henna would be a fantastic model. It doesn't seem to me like it would warrant any sort of price premium so 8 grand is a fair price, but like I said, if you are willing to stretch that a bit you can find a car with full and proper documentation.
    1988 BMW M3
    2010 Ferrari 599
    2013 BMW X1


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply. I've actually already purchased the car. I didn't have a lot of money to spend and this one seemed a little special. This BMW-only mechanic has been working on my cars for over ten years so I trust him on what details he has. I feel pretty good about the purchase, the car is solid, tracks straight, and pulled some good baseline numbers on the dyno. I love the fact that this car is even more rare/unusual than the basic M3 (as if there is such a thing!).

      I'm just trying to track down some more information about it.



      • #4
        Steve, he already bought the car.

        To answer some of your questions:

        Production date should be just aft of the driver's door, on the b-pillar.
        Cloth interior was standard on euro cars, not available in the US.
        As far as I know, the sunshade wasn't an option on US cars.
        All US M3s have the sidemarker lights in the bumper indent. Yours are in a different place, but unless it bothers you I wouldn't worry about it.

        Other nitpicky things I noticed from the photos:
        Your car was repaired with US-spec front grilles. Some prefer the way the euro grilles look.
        The rear M3 badge really isn't in the right place.

        Looks like a nice car. Enjoy it!
        Seattle, WA
        1988 M3 ex j-stock
        1984 911 RoW 3.2


        • #5
          ***First off, the VIN. I can't find anything that matches up to the VIN on the car: WBSAK0500011891496. I'm trying to find the production date of the car to see just how early it was produced.***

          01/87 i entered the last 7 of the vin in my etk ;-)

          those side markers look like regular e30 units, you are correct, they are in the wrong spots, should be in the indentations of the bumpers. part of the federalization process when it was imported, i'm sure.

          the aux fuel tank, cloth interior and rear sunshade were euro only features. front seats look way better than what came in the us cars. i have some alpina seats that look to be the same model as those. looks like a nice car, especially for the price.

          congrats on the find!



          • #6
            With a car that clean looking, I wouldn't be worried about the unkown history of the car, but I do understand how you would want to know the production date.
            Clean car, and what a steal.
            Austin Driggers
            11/86-535is Da Red Rocket
            Some Coils, Some Rims, Some Euro, Some Win


            • #7
              Nics, that is definitely a great find! It looks clean and has the euro features that people pay a pretty penny to convert to here in the US.
              "It is needless to say that self-propelling vehicles, like other machines, will never do as much for one who does not understand them as for one who does."


              • #8
                Great looking car, congratulations. Looks like you've got Recaro seats which I imagine are pretty good to sit in. Cheers, Tim.


                • #9
                  Forgot to say that if you go into and search on your VIN then it suggests you have an M3 from 01/1987 and this fits pretty well with what you see on the BMW M registry ( for Euro M3 E30s.


                  • #10
                    nice car ! I would change the sealed beams back to Euro smileys


                    • #11
                      Did he change the diff from 3.25:1 to 4.10:1 when he changed the g'box


                      • #12
                        i see you have the 2-button fog switch on the dash

                        if the bumpers really annoy you, you could have the holes filled in, forget about sidemarkers or recut the holes in the right spot, and the bumper resprayed

                        neat car overall and unique here in the states. i picked up my car for $7500 as it had "issues" but i've enjoyed fixing them all and have learned alot about the car in the process.


                        • #13
                          the car is sweet, who cars about the seats, you can always change them if you want. i see that you didn't get the "wind my down" non-powered windows. cool.


                          can you take pictures of the rear shade interior and exterior? i want to see how they did it, maybe i could do it to my usa m3. did they make a shade for the front?

                          also, take a pic of the aux fuel tank, interesting to see what that looks like.



                          • #14
                            forgot, got any engine pics


                            • #15
                              Wow! Thanks for all of the great responses. I'm really excited you guys like the car. I'll try to answer most of the questions you've asked.

                              "Your car was repaired with US-spec front grilles. Some prefer the way the euro grilles look. The rear M3 badge really isn't in the right place."
                              I hadn't noticed a difference in the grills. I do know that I'm missing the front M3 badge and that's on order. I'm also ordering a rear badge since I noticed this one looks a little -off-. Colors are faded anyway.

                              "01/87 i entered the last 7 of the vin in my etk ;-) "
                              Thanks, I finally found this. What had me scratching my head is that the "AK05" part of the VIN isn't showing up anywhere. "AK03" is usually listed as an M3. Then the 0001 doesn't tell me the manufacturing plant or model year. The plate on the door only lists 1987 as date of manufacture.

                              "Did he change the diff from 3.25:1 to 4.10:1 when he changed the g'box"
                              I'm not sure of this. Stock is 4.10, correct? Is there an easy way to tell which diff is in there?

                              "i see you have the 2-button fog switch on the dash"
                              Yes, it's the two button switch. The fogs haven't worked since I got the car but last night I figured out that the switch was bad. I took it apart and cleaned everything up and now everything works fine, including the rear fog light (pretty cool...).

                              "i see that you didn't get the "wind my down" non-powered windows. cool. "
                              I'm actually curious about this. I think that the power windows were added to the car here in the US. The windows are tinted and the tint is slowly being scuffed up by the motor mechanism. There is also a bit of a clunk as the window passes the 3/4 mark on the way down. ALSO, the doors have blanking plates where the window crank would be. These are just observations, I don't have a preference either way. I like power windows but if they weren't there I could brag about how Germans aren't lazy and can roll their own windows down! ;-)

                              There is a picture of the back seat area with the shade up on my website. If you want to see more pics of the shade I'll happily get some specific pics for you. I'll also get a few pics of the fuel tank posted. I asked the mechanic about it and he had no idea it was even there! It's back behind a trim panel.

                              I wanted to get the engine compartment all cleaned up before taking any pictures under the hood (I'm pretty picky about that kind of stuff, in fact, most people consider me to be AR!). I've gotten it -mostly- cleaned up but pics will be forthcoming.

                              I have some more questions but they're about specific things so I'll start a new thread for those.

                              Thanks again!