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Old 12-22-2011, 04:26 AM   #1
paddyhong
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Hello maXbimmer!

Hello!

Not the first time here in the forums but I've decided to bring the current situation I am in to BMW owners and see what you guys have to say.

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I have come into ownership of an E36 325is that was previous a track/daily car. I am currently driving a 1998 Honda Civic and I'm contemplating between the 2 cars. Since this is a BMW forum, I'd like to ask for non-biased opinion as to which car I should keep. Both cars need work and I like doing most of the work myself where possible but just looking at the sheer difference in the amount of parts on a E36 compared to a Civic is just night and day.

I've already done the math for gas consumption and I'm only paying $0.01 more per km to drive the E36, which is more than acceptable for almost double the horsepower to the wheels. I was going to sell the E36 but after driving it around my neighborhood for a few minutes and comparing it to other cars with similar horsepower and/or drivetrain layouts that I've driven (S2000, WRX, 350z, G35, etc, etc), I'm seriously stuck between the two. I know I can make the Civic just as fast and handle good but that would mean spending anywhere from 3-5k and up, where as most of the modifications that need to be done on the E36 have already been done since it was a track/daily.

The current list of modifications:

- koni struts and some spring/coilover sleeve setup
- beefier sway bars
- Active Autowerke front and rear strut towers
- Active Autowerke c.a.i
- BMW Motorsports X-Brace
- Active Autowerke short shifter kit
- motor/tranny were rebuilt about 30k ago
- carbon fiber hood
- Genuine BMW EDM hid projector headlight housings

And I'm sure I'm missing a few other things.

The current list of problems or things that need replacing that I currently know of:

- exhaust leak (located)
- driver side window regulator
- rear passenger rear bearing
- heater control resistor pack
- cluster is turning on and off intermittently and randomly (needs replacement)
- tires
- and of course the typical flush/replacement of all fluids, plugs and filters
*edit:
- low/high beam do not work
- needs new battery
- needs door and truck locks to match with ignition

So after all that, a few questions:

1. After fixing all the current problems on the car, how much more does it cost to maintain an E36 compared to a Civic?
2. How much harder is it to work on a BMW? For example, do I need special tools?
3. And anything else I need to know please!

Thanks in advance folks!

p@dDy

Last edited by paddyhong; 12-22-2011 at 05:04 AM.
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:19 AM   #2
richie_s999
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E36 hands down, We have owned an 93 325is and a 95 318i and the wife had a 2000 civic for a few years when we meet. The civic felt like a brick in the twisties compared to even a bone stock 318i, the wife couldn't believe how much more she enjoyed the handling of the e36.

Other then a driveshaft and rear diff booth cars have the same parts, so no concerns with number of parts and e36 parts are not expensive and easy to find.

E36 is easy to work on and not to many jobs require special tools
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Old 12-22-2011, 07:24 AM   #3
cormier
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Lmao this is even a question? I'm tryin not to be biased lol but no matter what you do to your civic the e36 will feel better. Besides its always better to have the power stock than try to upgrade a sub par car to that power (especially Hondas which have that happen far too often)

Bottom line -- you have a better car now, why take a step backwards lol

E36s aren't that hard to work on, an there are loads of places for aftermarket parts or even deals we get on OEM that bring the prices down.
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Old 12-23-2011, 12:05 AM   #4
paddyhong
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richie_s999 View Post
E36 hands down, We have owned an 93 325is and a 95 318i and the wife had a 2000 civic for a few years when we meet. The civic felt like a brick in the twisties compared to even a bone stock 318i, the wife couldn't believe how much more she enjoyed the handling of the e36.

Other then a driveshaft and rear diff booth cars have the same parts, so no concerns with number of parts and e36 parts are not expensive and easy to find.

E36 is easy to work on and not to many jobs require special tools

Haha someone with a similar situation as me. This was one of the points I had on my mind when debating between the two. All of the Civic's from 1996-2000 models (except SiR) required to have at least a spring/strut combo, sways and strut tower bars in order to handle decent. It's not like you won't do that on an E36 but I imagine doing it on an E36 will take it to a level beyond a Civic. But then on second though, the weight difference between the two cars is about 600 pounds with the Civic weighing in at approximately 2500lbs and the E36 at approximately 3100lbs. And weight is always an issue, especially with plans to take either tracking this coming summer.

But just looking at retail value of Genuine BMW compared to Genuine Honda parts is quite staggering usually ranging in the 10-50% range. And this is talking about after employee discounts for both manufacturers. Even comparing aftermarket OE replacement parts there's a 10-30% difference.

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Originally Posted by cormier View Post
Lmao this is even a question? I'm tryin not to be biased lol but no matter what you do to your civic the e36 will feel better. Besides its always better to have the power stock than try to upgrade a sub par car to that power (especially Hondas which have that happen far too often)

Bottom line -- you have a better car now, why take a step backwards lol

E36s aren't that hard to work on, an there are loads of places for aftermarket parts or even deals we get on OEM that bring the prices down.
This is true. Both cars have similar modifications and E36 stands out much more after I drove it recently. To make similar power figures safely would mean either an engine swap or low psi turbo setup, either costing well over 3000 dollars. This was one of the points that I had in my mind when debating between the two. E36 that I have makes 200whp while the Civic made 110whp, if that.



But thank you for the prompt and honest answers! I am leaning a little more towards the E36 because of the rebuild 30k ago which will give me peace of mind. Also because driving the E36 just feels more natural and you don't have to reach for everything. But sadly, one of the things holding me back is the cost of ownership. Like I said in my first post, gas cost is negligible with the difference of a whopping $0.01/km. But a few normal wear and tear items off the top of my head on a Civic would cost:

- pads and rotors all round $250
- PCV valve $5
- spark plugs $25
- timing belt/tensioner/waterpump $100
- head gasket $100

As a comparison, what would the above cost for an E36?



p@dDy
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Old 12-23-2011, 01:20 AM   #5
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Sell both cars, buy something without issues.
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Old 12-23-2011, 01:47 AM   #6
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head gasket job is 100 bucks on the civic??
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Old 12-23-2011, 08:07 AM   #7
Bullet Ride
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paddyhong View Post
E36 that I have makes 200whp while the Civic made 110whp, if that.



But thank you for the prompt and honest answers! I am leaning a little more towards the E36 because of the rebuild 30k ago which will give me peace of mind. Also because driving the E36 just feels more natural and you don't have to reach for everything. But sadly, one of the things holding me back is the cost of ownership. Like I said in my first post, gas cost is negligible with the difference of a whopping $0.01/km. But a few normal wear and tear items off the top of my head on a Civic would cost:

- pads and rotors all round $250
- PCV valve $5
- spark plugs $25
- timing belt/tensioner/waterpump $100
- head gasket $100

As a comparison, what would the above cost for an E36?



p@dDy
Care to elaborate on the 200whp figure, the only power mod you listed was a CAI?

-Pads and rotors for an E36 will probably run around $400, but that's not a big surprise because the E36 has bigger brakes than the civic.
-pcv...wouldn't worry about it
-spark plugs... anywhere from $30-$60 depending on the quality.... you do have 2 more plugs than the civic
- there is no timing belt on E36 it's timing chain thats a plus, water pump $75
-head gasket...wouldn't worry about it
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Old 12-23-2011, 11:05 AM   #8
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The e36 should feel better -- remember you're comparing a rwd sports-oriented car (for its time) to a fwd economy winter beater. Sorry, I dont understand why the heck so many people continue to pour money into Hondas -- they weren't meant to do what you're trying to do. I know it's cheap and light power but heck an e30 or e36 is comparable with rwd and much better capability. Especially if youre looking to track it-- you'll be more happy if start with a better base. You can track an e36 stock-- your civic may have problems


Quote:
Originally Posted by Daonhathai View Post
Sell both cars, buy something without issues.
This, if you're looking to spend 3k+ on making it what you want. E36s are cheap cheap these days, heck you can get an e46 if thats you're thing for not much more

Hey ps we haven't seen pix of either car yet!
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Old 12-23-2011, 11:41 AM   #9
richie_s999
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nickle and diming when considering performance to take a car to the track is so the wrong thing to do.

You want the best handling car with balance and power your driving skill can handle.

Your already thinking how to match the handling and power in the E36 with the civic, this shows you know the E36 is better in current form then the civic, so spend the money on maintenance of current condition instead of mods on the civic to try and get it to the point of the E36, take the extra money you save and invest in some performance driving schools and build your level of skill up. If you spend $1500 and do 3 schools next summer (each 2 days on Mosport GP track with trillium BMW club, also tax deductible so say about $450 in tax returns off the $1500, as you seem to like to know every dollar spent) your going to be way ahead of people dumping large coin and not knowing how to drive modded eco cars.
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Old 12-23-2011, 03:34 PM   #10
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PPffft, keep the civic man!! Way better car.

I'll pick up that garbage E36 off you, $300.
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Old 12-23-2011, 11:43 PM   #11
paddyhong
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noodles101 View Post
head gasket job is 100 bucks on the civic??
Parts alone. And while you have everything apart, mind as well do the timing belt/water pump and shops I know usually charge around 150-200 bucks in labour and it takes about 2 hours to do if you've done it before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daonhathai View Post
Sell both cars, buy something without issues.
Also something else I've thought about but I'd rather do it myself so I learn about my car. Not afraid to ask if I screw up either. Everyone starts somewhere. Same thing happened with the Civic. Same thing will happen with the E36, when the time comes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bullet Ride View Post
Care to elaborate on the 200whp figure, the only power mod you listed was a CAI?

-Pads and rotors for an E36 will probably run around $400, but that's not a big surprise because the E36 has bigger brakes than the civic.
-pcv...wouldn't worry about it
-spark plugs... anywhere from $30-$60 depending on the quality.... you do have 2 more plugs than the civic
- there is no timing belt on E36 it's timing chain thats a plus, water pump $75
-head gasket...wouldn't worry about it
200whp is from c.a.i, exhaust and chipped ecu and that was stated by the previous owner. It does feel like it has around the same pull as an 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX so it's not off by much. Also don't know what chip/tune is in there at the moment. Keep forgetting to look.

Thanks for giving me a comparison. Exactly what I'm looking for. That's actually not bad. I guess I'm looking at the wrong place for parts then lol I knew the E36 has a chain instead of a belt but what on what occasion will the chain need to be replaced and how much does it usually cost?

Last edited by paddyhong; 12-24-2011 at 12:19 AM.
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Old 12-24-2011, 12:12 AM   #12
paddyhong
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cormier View Post
The e36 should feel better -- remember you're comparing a rwd sports-oriented car (for its time) to a fwd economy winter beater. Sorry, I dont understand why the heck so many people continue to pour money into Hondas -- they weren't meant to do what you're trying to do. I know it's cheap and light power but heck an e30 or e36 is comparable with rwd and much better capability. Especially if youre looking to track it-- you'll be more happy if start with a better base. You can track an e36 stock-- your civic may have problems




This, if you're looking to spend 3k+ on making it what you want. E36s are cheap cheap these days, heck you can get an e46 if thats you're thing for not much more

Hey ps we haven't seen pix of either car yet!
From stock perspective, I think the Civic will limit you to certain tracks that you can have fun on.

I got this one for about 1k.

They're on my other computer. I'll post them when I get back in town.

Quote:
Originally Posted by richie_s999 View Post
nickle and diming when considering performance to take a car to the track is so the wrong thing to do.

You want the best handling car with balance and power your driving skill can handle.

Your already thinking how to match the handling and power in the E36 with the civic, this shows you know the E36 is better in current form then the civic, so spend the money on maintenance of current condition instead of mods on the civic to try and get it to the point of the E36, take the extra money you save and invest in some performance driving schools and build your level of skill up. If you spend $1500 and do 3 schools next summer (each 2 days on Mosport GP track with trillium BMW club, also tax deductible so say about $450 in tax returns off the $1500, as you seem to like to know every dollar spent) your going to be way ahead of people dumping large coin and not knowing how to drive modded eco cars.
I do plan to go to performance driving school this coming summer. I've seen a youtube video of an instructor teaching someone how to drive a prelude around Mosport. It's probably one of those days that you're talking about. It's the driver that makes the car go fast BUT he or she is limited by the capabilities of the car, or so I've been told.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Flyview View Post
PPffft, keep the civic man!! Way better car.

I'll pick up that garbage E36 off you, $300.
How about...








NO...







Doctor

But seriously, the answer is no and I might end up keeping both cars or give the Civic to my brother or something

Last edited by paddyhong; 12-24-2011 at 12:23 AM.
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Old 01-04-2012, 07:18 AM   #13
paddyhong
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Thanks again for the replies folks. Here's some pictures of the car, as requested.






Lots of work ahead of me...

p@dDy
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Old 01-04-2012, 07:43 AM   #14
richie_s999
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Seeing the rust on the back you should check the rear subframe mounting points, if they aren't already cracked get the reinforcement kit, also if the jack points on the rockers match the rear wheel wells car might not be worth fixing up
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Old 01-04-2012, 08:27 AM   #15
paddyhong
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Originally Posted by richie_s999 View Post
Seeing the rust on the back you should check the rear subframe mounting points, if they aren't already cracked get the reinforcement kit, also if the jack points on the rockers match the rear wheel wells car might not be worth fixing up
Thanks for the tip!

What do you mean by matching? Like rusted through? If it is, will a body guy be able to fix it?

All the inspections and final decision will come in spring. It's just too cold right now to spend even an hour outside. At one point, it was -19 degrees today with windchill.

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