We had, so to speak, rescued this vehicle right from the scrap press. First! But more on that later. For the BMW E36 restoration, we selected a facelift model BMW E36 316i built in 1997, which, at first glance, was actually still in very good condition for its age. After we had taken a closer look at it at home, the reality looked a little different. The mounted side skirts have hidden a lot. In terms of rust, everything was ok! All known weak points in the E36 could be found on the body. The brown plague bloomed everywhere and that in a vehicle built in 1997. This showed us that all E36 sedans, whether before the facelift, i.e. before 03.1996, also with the facelift up to the phase-out of the E36 series, all have the big rust problem. So it makes no difference “rust technically” whether you buy an early model or a later model.

In the course of the political control in the Federal Republic of Germany, the government decided to give the auto industry a helping hand, and the purchase of “environmentally friendly new vehicles” is known to result in no emissions and therefore no environmental pollution, so the confused theory of the political decision-makers who sit on the executive boards of the auto industry, or even the state, as in the case of Volkswagen is even the main shareholder. In the course of this “cold renovation”, many good vehicles and future, potential candidates for classic young and old-timers have fallen victim to the state-subsidized “scrapping premium” and thus to the artificially created consumer promotion to stimulate new vehicle registrations. These vehicles are now gone … well a large proportion at least … the rest of the people who made it will probably retire somewhere in Africa as a “shared taxi” or something like that, as we know that there are no more harmful emissions and if so, then they adhere to the national borders …

The very early models also had manufacturing defects, which were noticeable by unpleasant wind noises and an allegedly too direct steering on the part of the German press of his shows. These models could be recognized by a smooth plastic strip above the glove compartment between the air nozzles. At the time, BMW AG had bought all of these vehicles back from its customers, at least as far as possible, in order to minimize the damage to its image.

Due to the “rust-constant reliability” of the BMW E36, we were aware from the outset that an E36 restoration would not be limited to purely cosmetic interventions in order to return the vehicle to a relatively close “used new car” Age, at least not in general terms, looks like it.

The further task was that we wanted to accomplish this BMW E36 restoration with normal tools, hobby tools that every hobby screwdriver and car enthusiast has safely at home, in order to see what an overall result so, with these few resources, can be achieved.

We found this car in a junkyard in summer 2019. The last owner, an American, had driven the engine without water and oil and the engine block had a hole where the rest of the piston and the torn off connecting rod had made their way onto the road. Unfortunately, the vehicle had already been slaughtered too far, otherwise we would have taken the vehicle back with us and rescued it again, even with this major engine damage, there were already some nice memories and emotions associated with this BMW E36 restoration and the vehicle.

Here in the following the picture documentation of the E36 restoration …

Headlights and all attachments were cleaned before assembly and treated and protected with various care products.
It has been shown that a BMW E36 restoration can certainly be accomplished with normal budgetary resources of a “hobby mechanic”. Also with a view to maintaining or increasing value. Certainly it is not as professional as it could have been in a paint shop under optimal conditions, since environmental influences play a major role. But it shows that you also have the option to do all the preliminary work yourself and only let the paint shop do the final paint job.
Overall a good result.
I think the result of our BMW E36 restoration is impressive.
You should have at least 2.5 liters of paint and approx. 1.5 liters of clear lacquer ready for such a surface, as this is also supplemented with hardener and 5% thinner. If the roof is also included, you should plan in half a liter more. And the same applies here: Always choose a high-quality product !!!
We have completely filled all add-on parts, especially the plastic parts to be painted, such as the front and rear aprons of our BMW E36 restoration, and sanded them with 800 wet sandpaper in order to achieve the smoothest possible surface and also to get rid of the small scratches. The additional expenditure of time is worth it.
As can be seen, the front bumper has been badly damaged over the years. However, since this was an original M technology, this effort certainly makes sense, not only in our BMW E36 restoration but in general and in general. Because these are also used if it is an original part, which you should definitely pay attention to with a view to maintaining value, outrageously expensive.
The vehicle had an M package from the factory. This was often damaged over the years and had many cracks, breaks and dents that we had to remove. The age just doesn’t pass without a battle. But these are the smallest things in a BMW E36 restoration.
This is also often found in old vehicles in general, not only in a BMW E36 restoration, the rear door had often been unprofessionally filled by the previous owners. We therefore removed all of the spatula and paint on the outside and made everything new.
The filled and treated areas should always be treated with filler and sanded smooth (wet) so that the surfaces are as smooth as possible.
Wet finishing is a basic requirement for a good end result. This does not only apply to the BMW E36 restoration, but basically to all painting work.
In our BMW E36 restorations, the rust was actually above the sill, apart from every door Didn’t know much. Just a little on each sheet metal, so that in the end the entire car, except for the roof, is completely repainted due to the constant small areas. Especially the models, like ours in the color AVUS blue, have a big rust problem ex works, so to speak, which has already arisen in the factory during production, among other things, due to the composition of the color components for the color mixture. So rather a BMW E36 restoration on a vehicle in a different color!
Rust on every body part in our BMW E36 restoration. Not a lot but really every area.
One of the previous owners apparently once tried to partially paint the door with the spray can …
Dents and dents are always found in all used vehicles, not just in the E36 restoration. Eliminating these again often takes a lot of time and effort. Therefore it is often better to get a new one.
Rust all over the place, especially behind the sills
We were lucky here, the cover plate was still in very good condition for our BMW E36 restoration.
This is also the case with most E36 restorations. Here you can find the problem under the trunk – rubber seal. The knuckles in which the rubber sits rust away.
Is always stands on the list on a for  E36 restoration …. Rust around the license plate bar of the tailgate.
In the E36 restoration, you often come across these spots on the rear wheel arch.
These doors should no longer be attempted to “save” in a BMW E36 restoration, which with a view to maintaining or increasing value, such as a Class 2, Clubsport special models. Here you save at the wrong end. You can still find good used doors at the recycler. If the edges are rusted, they are rusted under the double folded metal sheets and therefore rust from the inside. In other words, either constantly stripping paint and re-coating using the KTL process, replacing with good, used doors or new ones. You don’t get happy here. After six months at the latest, the rust comes through again and then you get angry, precisely because of all the effort and time and money that you have invested in it.
If the door edges look like this during the E36 restoration, you should look for new ones. The rust between the folded metal sheets can only be removed by stripping paint from the entire door, which then has to be coated in the KTL immersion bath, which is currently more expensive than a good, used door
With the E36 restoration, one can assume that if the lower part on the rear wheel arch looks like this, the rear water drain was definitely clogged and the sill is definitely rusted through. A guarantee for welding work.
Especially when it comes to restoring the BMW E36, you often think … well, considering its age, it doesn’t look so bad, a small sheet of metal and … the restoration begins. The damage is always far bigger than you first see. Most of the time, the inner frames to the passenger cell are through, if it looks like that. The reason for this is that the water from above collects in the sills and the drains are blocked or once were. This can be seen from the fact that the water runs out of the rubber parts of the jack support. Actually, this water should escape through a small drainage hole at the front under the fender and at the rear in the area of ​​the trailing arm towards the axle.
BMW E 36 restoration means, above all, to make sure that the stable jack mountings behind the sills are not yet rusted. If these are lifted, preferably always individually and so high that both wheels are in the air, still hold stable and nothing happens or can be heard, then everything is still good. Then it is high time for the sealing cure (rust converter and cavity preservation
If the fenders below, especially if they were installed on the vehicle sills, already look like this, then you can look for a new fender right at the beginning of the E36 restoration, or, if you want it cheaper, plan a repair, repair of molded sheet metal from the accessories . The accessories fenders (front side walls) are very tempting and affordable compared to the originals, which (as of September 2018) are still available from BMW for a proud € 281.45 each for around € 50, but the processing (gap dimensions) accordingly. If you want quality and workmanship, especially with a view to increasing / maintaining the value of the vehicle, you cannot avoid the original ones. Finding good used ones in the junkyard is hopeless. Usually the accessories are already there (recognizable by the wavy insides at the front of the tips to the turn signal, where the fenders are attached under the bonnet.
When buying the E36 restoration, you should pay particular attention to the rear areas on the underbody of the sill in the area of ​​the jack mount. This is a particularly striking point
For all BMW E36 restorations or projects, the jack recordings are always on the slip … if they have not already been made by one of the previous owners.
During the BMW E 36 restoration, you should lift the vehicle as far as you can safely, as shown in the picture, so that if everything is later dismantled and the vehicle has to be raised further, you do not have to mount the wheels again. You should therefore also look beforehand to find out where you have to go for the BMW E36 restoration.
The beginning … A free space ideally in the garden where nobody can go and a small pavilion that protects you a bit from the sun and rain and later also the vehicle, e.g. when the doors are removed, should already be available. If you don’t have one, you should invest the 40 € for the E36 restoration of your BMW