My 1999 M3 turns 13 this April, one of the last E36 M3 coupes produced. I usually publish a post in April to acknowledge the birthday, starting with this one in 2008. It’s description of how I feel about the car is still accurate today.
This year, I decided the car needed new wheels. Last year I wrote about how the car needed new tires. It got late in the year, and I decided it didn’t make sense to get tires right before the winter since I don’t drive the car much in those months. Plus, I started thinking about new wheels and I didn’t want to limit my options by getting 18 inch tires required by the CSL replicas I had on the car.
I decided to go with one of the three original equipment (OE) wheels offered by BMW on the E36 M3. The style 24 forged allow double spoke wheels were a $1,500 option when the car was new, and subsequently is by far the rarest OE E36 M3 wheel. The wheel is forged not cast, so it is the lightest and strongest of the three. Early versions had BMW Motorsport stamped on the rim, later versions were polished but did not have the lettering.
The stamped version was what I wanted. I decided to go with the wheel size that came standard on the 1995 M3, 17×7.5 wheels with 235×40 tires all around. Getting four of them turned into an involved process that took quite some time.
Buying four brand new wheels from BMW would have been very expensive. I decided to go with refurbished OE wheels to cut some of the cost. After some research, I called AllFactoryWheels.com, who advertised that they had the wheels I wanted. Lots of places show all sorts of wheels on their web sites — I wanted to be sure they actually had them before I ordered.
I called All Factory Wheels in late February, and they confirmed they had four 7.5 width wheels ready to ship. So I ordered four, and then waited. For over a week my order said “unfulfilled” when I looked it up online. So I called, and asked what’s up. I was told it would ship out the next day.
It did not, so the next day I called again. That’s when I learned they only had three BMW wheels, the other was a replica. I’m glad All Factory Wheels didn’t ship the wrong wheel, but I shouldn’t of had to work so hard for the information.
I finally got Phil on the line who said he was the owner, and he offered me a full refund if I wanted one. No, I wanted them to send the three they had and refund me 1/4 of the price, and I’d source the fourth wheel on my own. They did that and when I received the three wheels they looked great.
No one of the forums was selling a single wheel, and the stamped version with lettering is rarer than the polished. So I ordered a brand new wheel through TheBMWPartStore. I paid more this way, but less than going through a dealership and I enjoyed dealing with their parts guy Mike. He explained there would be a delay getting the wheel from Germany and going through customs, but gave me an accurate timeline.
Finally last Tuesday it arrived. Now I needed tires. I couldn’t get any of the tires I mentioned in my post last year since none of them came in the 235x40x17 size. Luckily for me Tire Rack was having a sale on the Yokohama S.Drive tire, an ultra high performance tire that had come in first place in a recent tire test. I had them mounted and balanced at Hollin Hall Automotive, who offer high quality service and who I’ve gotten to know well over the past few years.
So the M3 finally has new some great looking new shoes. There is still a little work to do, since two of the tires didn’t balance exactly right using the Hunter GSP9700 balancing system. When I called Tire Rack to tell them, they sent out two replacement tires to me without even asking for the read outs. So those will go on soon. It’s an example of why Tire Rack is so great to work with.
There’s more work to do this year on the maintenance front for the M3, mostly preventative stuff after so many years. I’m happy to invest some time and money to keep her as good as she can be. Newer BMWs are more powerful, but also bigger, heavier and more software dependent. My car only has 55K miles, so hopefully there will be many more birthdays to celebrate in style.