1999 BMW 328i (E46) – Project Introduction

Hey everyone, Mitchell here.

Today I’m excited to announce the start of GB Productions’ second major car project, my recently purchased 1999 BMW 328i. This is a E46 sedan model, the coupe, convertible, wagon, and M3 models weren’t launched until 2000 with the M3 coming a bit later still. It should be noted that for the 1999 model year, the previous generation E36 Coupe and Convertible were still available. Lets begin the article with a story of how I came to buy this car. When I decided in September 2020 that I was going to go ahead and purchase a BMW 3 series (either E36 or E46), one of my dream cars, I set out with a budget of $1500. When we first set out, I was intending to acquire a 330i coupe, since M3’s were far outside my budget (and also I couldn’t imagine insurance costs on a sports car as a 22 year old male university student, anyway I digress). So Greg and myself had found a 330i that was listed for $1000 but the seller was willing to take $750, so we offered $750. But because we couldn’t go get the car until later in the week, we missed out. We also put offers in on a 1996 328i and a 2004 325xi, but we were too late making an offer on those as they were already in the process of selling them. A few weeks later, around mid-October, with the second wave of the pandemic just getting going, we found the listing for this 328i sedan. The seller wanted $1500 for it. Since I was a bit concerned about the mileage being around 300 000 km, among other things, we decided to offer $1000 for it and the rest was history! I wanted to procure it as quickly as possible since lockdowns were coming which would essentially prevent us from acquiring it until the spring. One complicating factor is I was considering purchasing a Mk. 4 Volkswagen Jetta with the VR6 engine, mainly for the novelty of a V6 in a compact car. One issue we constantly had was my bipolar indecision of which one I wanted to get. I eventually decided on the BMW for sure as while I still intend to get a VR6 at some point in the future (now leaning towards a Golf), the BMW is much more interesting to me otherwise and would be better for changing up website content since we had just finished filming Greg’s Mk. 4 Jetta project a couple weeks earlier.

Let’s move onto the car. As I mentioned in the video, the car has a 2.8 L M52TU “Technical Update” Inline-6 engine. This engine, at least here in North America, has a couple differences compared with the M52 engine used in the E36 models. Probably the biggest one is that the M52TU uses an aluminum block whereas the M52 uses an Iron Block. And as mentioned in the video, there is variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust on this engine versus just intake on the M52. When new, the engine in my car would have made about 193 bhp @ 5500 rpm and 210 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm. Now my assumption is that we’re making a fair bit less than that. We have a faulty exhaust side camshaft sensor and an issue with VANOS (BMW’s term for Variable-Valve Timing) that need to be repaired to have the engine back to full working order.

So I hope you enjoy the video! Don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube, leave a comment, and check out our Instagram page @gbproductions1, where we have some additional pictures from our ongoing projects!