BMW and Audi Experiences

Home      BMW 328iC (E36)
Print this pageAdd to Favorite

BMW 328iC (E36)


My baby is a 1997 328i Convertible, bought new in May, 1997, from Morristown BMW in NJ. Options include the upgraded 18-button on-board computer (OBC) and leather seats. I wanted the 2.8 liter engine as opposed to the 1.8 liter because of its superior acceleration (my other car at the time was the the 528e, so I know what lack of acceleration feels like!). I did not have the dealer install either the alarm system or CD changer, because I figured I could do these myself for much less money (and I was right!).


  • Stereo.  I added a factory CD player, two subwoofers from JL Audio, replaced the stock front speakers with two-ways from MB Quart, replaced the stock amp with a 4-channel Rockford Fosgate amplifier, and replaced the stock C33 radio cassette with the newer CD43 Compact Disc radio. In short – nothing in my stereo system is stock!  See the E36 Stereo Upgrade page for details.
  • Adding a factory alarm system. Save yourself some $$, and do this yourself.
  • Bilstein HD Shocks - slightly stiffer than stock, but a pretty good match for the OEM springs.
  • Cold Air Intake from Cosmos Racing - I can't swear that this adds any real power, but it sur sounds great, and the ca rfeels qiucker.  I chose teh Cosmo Racing version because I like the long tub style, which allows the CAI to get fresh air from low down near the brak duct area, and you don't ned a heat shield as on the short tube style.
  • Shark Injector from Turner Motorsport.  Adds a bit more power anbd torque, especially abovve 3500 RPM.
  • Camber Shim Plates from Bimmer World.  You get three sets of plates in the kit - 0.120, 0.060, and 0.030 inches thick - plus a set of longer bolts.  Yu can stack them if you want, but I installed the 0.120 inch version only, which gives about 1 degree negative camber.  I was considering adding the 0.60 inch plat as well, but I am concerned that the inside of the tire gets awfully close to the strut and so could rub.  I am running 225/50/R16 tires, so should probably add whel spacers before increasing the negative camber any further.
  • Wind Deflector. I definitely recommend getting a fold-down wind deflector. It works incredibly well! With the wind screen in place you can drive on the highway in comfort. It cuts down on wind turbulence that would otherwise make driving at high speeds quite annoying. It also allows the climate control (A/C or heating) to actually have some effect with the top down, which makes driving on both hot and cold days much more enjoyable. As with the other factory-supplied accessories, you can probably get it for less money through mail order than from your local dealer. Check the ads in the Roundel!
  • Upgraded Anti-Sway Bars.  After much on-line research I decided to go with a set of Eibach bars, which I purchased from Tire Rack.  The diameter of these are 28 mm front and 21 mm rear, compared to stock 24 mm front and 15 mm rear.   So this gives an 85% incrase in antisway bar effectiveness in the front and a  284% increase in the rear.  Some other versions have even fatter rear dimensions (UUC is 28 mm, for example), but I felt that would be overkill, and could put too much stress on the rear suspension components.  By increasing the rar stiffness more than the front I hpoe to dialout some of the inherenet understeer in the car. 
  • Super Sprint Exhaust.  I bought the round tip version from Pelican Auto Parts. It was relatively inexpensive compared to teh alternatives I researced, and I've heard some good things about the  quality of this exhaust.
  • Powerflexbushings from  I upgraded the Front Control Arm Bushings (FCAB) and Rear Trailing Arm Bushings (RTAB).


Cosmos Racing CAI 
Conforti Shark Injector 
Bimmer World Camber Kit 

Super Sprint Exhaust 
Wind Deflector 

Useful Information:

Use the menu on the left or click on the following links:
Convertible Top Reset Procedure. The convertible top is fully automatic -- even the augers (the clamps that lock the top firmly onto the windshield) are electric. No locking handles to turn! There's an emergency release handle under the rear seat that disengages the electric motors from the gear mechanism that drives the top, which allows you to manually close the top in case the top is down and your battery is dead and it starts to rain. If you pull the release handle, you will need the reset procedure before the top will work properly again.

BMW Radios. Some little-known features of the stock C33 business radio, including how to adjust the speed-sensitive volume and check radio station signal strength, and also installation and user tips for the upgraded CD43 Business Radio. There's also information on the stock stereo system - is it really a 200 watt system???
How to enter your radio security code.  If you disconnect the car battery so that the radio loses power you must enter a security code before it will work again - this page tells you how.
On Board Computer (OBC) Info. There is a lot of interesting info you can get from your OBC, if you know how to access the hidden codes. There is also information on hidden codes in the HVAC system -- go to:

Tricks with the instrument display. There are hidden codes that can be used to test the instrument display (it's fun to see both the tach and speedometer maxed out!), and to reveal some of the data stored in the cluster.

My wonky fuel gauge
-- what to do if the fuel gauge reads empty right after you fill the car with gas.


At the Tire Rack in South Bend, IN, in conjunction with the Windy City Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America in June, 2009
At the tire Rack in South Bend, with the Audi Car Club Chicago Chapter  in April 2009.
At Maywood Park, Illinois, with the Windy City BMW CCA in August 2009.  Looks like I could use a good set of anti-sway bars!  (Note - this is BEFORE installing my new anti-sway bars from Eibach)