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Mad Max's - Dakar Z3M Coupe S50

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  • Mad Max's - Dakar Z3M Coupe S50

    Ok, about time I got around to doing this, and if I don't do it now then I'll get too far and miss stuff off. These journals are a great way of recording what has been done to a car if nothing else.

    Back story... my previous BMs:

    1996 e36 323i coupe

    1994 e36 M3 3.0 coupe

    1998 e36/7 Z3 1.9

    2002 e36/7 Z3 3.0 Sport

    (access to required)

    History lesson over.

    Over the winter I had the M3 all sorted after her... misadventure at the 'ring. New alternator and radiator were popped in her and she was all ready to go! Then one Saturday night I kicked myself off the sofa and I went out in her for a thrash... sublime! I put her up against my mates stock e46 M3 and from both a standing and a rolling start she literally handed him his arse... To say she was quick was an understatement! The combination of weight reduction and mods had made her into a real weapon.

    When I got home, after tucking her up safely in the garage I sat on the sofa with a cold Peroni and I pondered... Whilst I loved the 3.0 Z3 I kinda felt as if I wanted something M for daily use. I was fed up of saying "But my other car is a monstrous M3... (honest!)". I had tried taking the M3 to work one day but it scuffed over the one speed hump on the way to work... so I carried on drinking the Peroni until I came to the conclusion that what I wanted was a Z4M Coupe, sell both the cars I owned and buy one I'd love and use every day.

    Great, now I had something to think about, so I found one, went to look at it and... meh.

    I wasn't bowled over if I'm honest. Very capable, very pretty, very rare... but just missing something. I didn't fall in love. So I went home and carried on my search for another, before spotting a Z3M Coupe. Quickly I changed the search parameters on Piston Heads and AutoTrader and there she was, a Dakar Yellow beast. I had always loved the M Coupe's looks, real Marmite. Splits people down the middle. You can't help but notice it, especially in yellow.

    So I went to look at it in the Z3 3.0, left that there and drove the MC home! Is it time for pics yet? I think so, this is how I found her:

    Initial mods were carried out on the spot, carrying over things like the strut brace, e46 ClubSport knob, LED front side markers, sport aerial, iridium front , SilverVision rear and silver side indicator bulbs, aero wipers, etc.

    The car itself came with a great chunk of history. Highlights of that were a new Dr VANOS unit just 5k ago, a pair of replacement clutches, the first one at a local garage for £400, which the owner at the time had written "NEW CLUTCH RUBBISH" on the receipt!), the second was carried out by BMW with a new flywheel too and that came in at £1900. The BMW technician had written on the top of it "You might want to fit a braided line as the new clutch feels the same as the old one"! Haha! The next receipt was from Munich Legends who'd fitted a "braided clutch hose, supplied in car", hehe! On top of that on a visit to BMW the service guys there had informed me that the boot floor had been replaced by BMW for a rather large sum of money just 5k miles ago. Awesome, that's all the weak bits covered then!

    One thing I had noticed was that the rear number plate holder was in the boot... rather than being ON the boot as it should have been! A little fiddling and it was back on with some nice new BMW number plates:

    Job done! Next up, whilst driving to work, the clutch assistor spring had fired out of the pedal, it worked fine without it but when I went to replace it I found that the trim down by the pedals is missing, so that got replaced:

    I fitted the old OEM fire extinguisher from the 3.0 Z3:

    New rear wiper blade, check the box it arrived in too! Haha!

    Last edited by Mad Max; 16-06-2013, 08:24 PM.

  • #2
    Another thing that was bugging me was the stereo, there was a bit of trim missing:

    Now because I couldn't find any of these on eBay I figured it can't be more than a few quid from my local dealership, especially with my discount... even Carl my parts advisor was shocked when it came in at £15!

    Still, it got done!!! I also threw some Goodridge braided brake lines on there with some AP Racing DOT5.1 fluid for good measure. I've also given her a good oil change with genuine BMW oil and VANOS filters, a K&N panel filter and a load of Gulf Competition 5w 40, some Castrol diff oil and fresh coolant. The thermostat, cam cover gaskets and throttle cable have also been changed.

    Then something awful happened. After over ten years of driving without doing it, I kerbed a wheel :( ...and I did it well!!

    Never one to sit still this was the perfect excuse to do this:

    Which involved a whole lot of palaver as one of the old tyres was so old that it had cracked and wouldn't hold air... so I had to do this:

    To get myself over to Demon Tweeks who appear to be the only place in the world that holds stock of decent tyres in my sizes. I had to go for Toyo T1Rs on the front and T1 Sports on the back as they're phasing the Rs out now for the Sports, but they don't have an Rs left in 245/45/17 and they haven't made any Sports in 225/40/17 yet! All I can say is that the T1 Sports feel awesome on the back, highly recommended!

    The badges that were on it looked quite old, they must have been original. Pricing up replacements at BMW scared me (almost £90 for the three!) so I found Aceman who does a vinyl kit for it, worth a punt at £13 or so:

    Much better! At the same time I ordred some of the rear arch protectors and some of the replacement seat bushes that I fitted... no pics, but they're just seat bushes... they stop the seats rocking back and forth, which is nice! :)

    Then the solenoid saga began... I was driving along one day, stopped at some lights and noticed that I had an idle that was lumpier than school dinner custard! When I got into work I checked the obvious air pipes but couldn't find anything. I rung my local indy who said "oooh, that sounds like what happened to my old Evo - it was the exhaust solenoids!". Fearing the worst I popped in on my way home from work and my fears were confirmed when the Auto Logic brought back the exhaust advance solenoid. Queue the VANOS test and every single one clicked bar the exhaust advance. Gutted!

    Last edited by Mad Max; 16-06-2013, 08:26 PM.


    • #3
      These little buggers are the exhaust advance and retard solenoids. They are about £600 from BMW for the pair! Still, I didn't pay that, I spoke to a few people who pointed out that the main cause of the failure is a little bit of solder on the solenoid. Off to work I went, took the car apart in the car park and then had my soldering-ninja guy at work do the work... checked it on a meter and it was perfect. Reinstalled it and... that's one creamy idle! :)

      Happy... for now. I was driving her the next day and she felt underpowered below 4k rpm, after that she was fine. I ran a diagnostic on the old laptop that I've got at home and what did it bring up? VANOS solenoids! Only this time it was the intake one... annoyed by this and owning a soldering iron I decided that I could do what I'd seen my mate do at work the other day, and I did. I took the intake solenoids out, soldered them up and checked on a meter... perfect. Great, so I put the VANOS back together and went for a spin... she felt great for 100m but then after that the performance went again! Back home, another diagnostic and it flagged exactly the same. I started to take it all apart again, but then I noticed that the intake solenoid was unplugged - how odd, I'd just plugged it in minutes ago, so I took off the black cowl underneath and plugged it back in, tightened the bolts up on the cover, gave the plug a wiggle and it fell back out again!

      It turns out that if you over-torque the nuts on the black plastic cover it flexes and presses on the release for the intake plug! My own bloomin' fault..! Haha!

      After getting over these fears I booked Enda to come down and work his usual magic on the engines brain... which he did, thanks again matey :)

      I have fitted these:

      ...but I'm not yet completely sold, I'd much rather have the originals properly vinyl'd in black as I think they look better (along with the side vents and rear boot lifter). I'll be keeping the originals in case!

      As the M3 departed I stole the Storm gearknob out of her...:

      A little bit of the M3 will carry on in the MC.

      A final bit of whoring:

      Oh and a nice double-Dakar shot at BlueBell BMW:

      I even painted the garage floor for her:

      She's tiny in there compared to the old M3!

      Pimping it at the BTCC:

      So, that's how far I've got... I'm currently waiting for BMW in Germany to send me the under-body aero parts that the car is missing (it actually has a very impressive flat underbody all the way back past the gearbox!) and Bilstein to make some B8 shocks for her - as soon as they do that she's going into Demon Tweeks for the B8 shocks, H&R -30mm springs, H&R ARBs and a whole load of purple PowerFlex bushes. Should sort out the body roll but not be too harsh.

      I'm going to mod this car a bit, but not too much, it's too collectable to go silly with. Sensible mods and keep her usable every day, rather than just going for out and out speed as I did with the M3. I've had so many nice comments from car enthusiasts about this car since I've bought her, she really is a special beast! Then again, there's been just as many people who've told me how awful it looks, haha! I love her, that's all that matters :)

      Thanks for reading, if you've made it this far you deserve a beer! ;)


      • #4
        A great read indeed, sure you will be writing lots more as it really seems you have the bug again

        Car looks great too!
        2002 '52 S54 - Titanium Silver with 18" BBS LMs, AP Racing BBK, KW V3, H&R anti roll bars & ACS flippers (previously 2000 'X' S50 - Arctic Silver)


        • #5
          Great read! Love Dakar, but I'm not feeling the black wheels, like on that e90, you can't see them!


          • #6
            Cheers guys :)

            I am loving the little bonkers yellow beast.

            There'll be a few more updates, mostly the suspension mods and keeping her sweet.

            The engine is 99% the same as the one in my old M3 (S50B32 in the MC, S50B30 in the M3), but with a few good improvements... the sump, the oil pumps and the 1mm bigger valves spring to mind! I love the extra torque through the midrange that it's got over the 3.0.

            I've had the remap done and a K&N panel filter... exhausts seem like a lot of money for a good weight saving but very little bhp... and I don't want the lumpy idle of a carbon airbox or hot cams, so I can't see many more bhp coming from the engine. Maybe an e46 M3 crank pulley like I had on the old M3, that wouldn't hurt.

            I've gotta say though, I'm a little concerned about lowering her any more, I've already had one scrape down the underside that ended up tearing a bit of chassis just in front of the fuel tank, fortunately my local BMW (BlueBell Crewe) sorted that for a good price, welded up the tear and re-undersealed that part of the car.

            Then again tonight I went over a medium sized bump and heard a noise - checked underneath and it looks like I've cracked the part of the undertray that covers the cross brace! May as well put that on the order with all the other bits of underbody aero! :(

            C_W - I get what you're saying about the wheels, they aren't going to be to everyone's taste... like the rest of the car really! Haha! They do look much better in the flesh that through a computer screen and a crappy phone camera ;)


            • #7
              Well I turned up at Demon Tweeks first thing on Tuesday morning:

              Straight up on the ramps to get work started:

              Here's a nice pair of front wishbone bushes, RTABs and rear subframe bushes are purple PowerFlex too now:

              On with some Bilstein B8s and H&R springs, you can just about see the H&R ARB in the pic too (plus the Goodridge lines):

              The rear end wasn't as easy - the exhausts had to be dropped to fit the rear ARB:

              Whilst under there it's always good to check that the diff hanger is in the correct position!


              All that went on with a full set of new top mounts, a new set of spring pads for the rear and finally a 4WA on the Hunter machine at DT. Good job, but it took a little longer than their estimated time of 5hrs... it actually took three times that! Still, they didn't charge me any more than they'd quoted, so that made the labour come out at just £16 per hour! Awesome, I don't know anywhere I can get a mechanic that cheap! ;)

              The handling has been transformed, much more responsive and much less body roll. I'm getting a bit of understeer on the limit now so I'm considering stiffening up the front ARB, they're both set of soft at the moment.

              Next up for this car will be a replacement o-ring on the constant presssure oil valve below the exhaust manifold, hopefully that'll cure the drip I've got. I've also got a full underbody aero kit from BMW, over the years the car had lost and/or broken what was there. It's a pretty impressive set actually, it goes right back past the gearbox!

              I'm also considering 10mm spacers front and rear... just to widen her up a bit :) Maybe later.

              Today Alex and I gave her a quick wash, polish and sealant. I've never had a car that bugs stick to like this one, it's insane! :( Right pain getting them off!! Still, I'm hoping the sealing wax or whatever it is will help stop them sticking in the future... I hope!!!

              These could be my worst pictures ever but just as we finished it started to spit with rain so had to push her back in, quick!

              Still, I hope they demonstrate the shine that comes from four hours work!! As I'm sure the bugs will appreciate it as they impact upon her... still, she was always bought to be driven and enjoyed rather than polished and taken to shows :)

              Thanks for reading :)


              • #8
                Good to meet you last week, hopefully next time it will be on the other side of the pit entrance :-)

                Car was looking good - I have recently gone done a very similar suspension route and it has transformed the car.


                • #9
                  A colleague of mine had a yellow car,which attracted every form of flying insect...i think they associated with pollen! ended up with a load of bees in the carefull when putting your blowers on!


                  • #10
                    Nice to have met you too Mike - I was just saying to Alex that I can't remember the last time I saw an M Coupe in the flesh, and I've seen three others apart from mine this week! Yours, CWs and the Phoenix one from Hexagon is local to me, caught up with him at my local Shell garage the other day.

                    Turns out I'm not longer the only yellow M Coupe in the village... damn! Haha!!

                    I think you're right with the pollen/yellow cars thing Kwoffa, even whilst we were polishing it there were bugs landing all over her! Maybe I should wash, polish, wax and then insect repelent the car...! Haha!


                    • #11
                      you have been busy I bet the handling is transformed


                      • #12
                        Had a great run out this morning to put the car through it's paces.

                        At the start of the Evo Triangle:

                        Then at Ponderosa for a big old fry up:

                        The car was flawless bar a little bit of pulling to the left under heavy braking, I think that's down to the left front calliper being new and the right one being old. Guess that's a good excuse to get a matching new one for the other side!


                        • #13
                          Nice shots - good choice of friends too
                          2002 '52 S54 - Titanium Silver with 18" BBS LMs, AP Racing BBK, KW V3, H&R anti roll bars & ACS flippers (previously 2000 'X' S50 - Arctic Silver)


                          • #14


                            • #15
                              Spooks - My neighbour actually asked me the other day "Is it only people with fast cars who are allowed to be your friends..?", haha! Common interests and all that.

                              M1ke - Jonny, the guy with the e36 M3, put that thread up and another on M3 Cutters. Nice comments on the one on 'Cutters thread about Z3MCs.