Project 90: Introduction

In 2014 we started our first project series with an BMW E46 330Ci. It was a car that we could bring back to its former glory and make some improvements along the way, proving that things were neither as expensive or as difficult as people can sometimes think they are. Project 46 turned out to be a huge success, as it not only showcased the products we offer and why we offer them, but it also showed everyone just how easy it was to restore a car back to its original baseline (or better) with minimal time, effort, and cost. You can read the final article on Project 46 here, along with links to the previous posts.

Today we’re excited to announce Project 90. Our 2009 BMW E90 335i LCI M Sport was actually purchased some time ago, but it’s taken us a little while to get around to kicking off the series here. Ever since the car came to Clickable, we’ve been working hard to improve our stock availability, expand our product range and work on a new online store (launching later this year). We’ve had to focus our attention on managing growth and all the things that go with it. Our customers always come first, so the project was put on hold.

Our general concept for Project 90 is to create a car that shares some of the excitement and handling characteristics closer to classic BMW models, but offers the benefit of modern conveniences for everyday use, along with the potential to access huge performance. We approached the project in the spirit of having fun with a mission of correcting some of BMW’s compromises.

But let’s talk about the car for a minute: The 335i itself was originally bought on a company lease for the CEO of a local goods producer. While it was always serviced on time, it’s fair to say the vehicle wasn’t owned by an enthusiast. We purchased the vehicle directly off lease in ‘as-is’ condition. With no effort from the seller to prepare the vehicle prior to sale, we were offered it for about 30% less than market value at the time of purchase – basically the same price that a dealer would pay on trade.

With the E90 in the Clickable warehouse, it was obvious that the first things to tackle would be cosmetic. The inside had not been cleaned in a long while, with marks on the hard plastics, sticky food remnants in the usual places, and a surprising amount of sand strewn about the place. The previous owner was an avid golfer but on evidence spent most of his time playing out of the sandtraps. After a comprehensive vacuum to the floors and seats, Interior Cleaner was used strategically on all the hard surfaces. The Leather Cleaner and Conditioner were applied to all the leather, and Glass Cleaner was sprayed on all interior windows. The key to good interior detail is to (carefully) deep clean each surface to remove the contaminants, and not to merely seal in the dirt with an interior dressing.

The result was almost unbelievable. The interior was virtually unrecognisable, and it’s no exaggeration to say it was looking practically brand-new. This transformation was not a quick process by any means, taking hours to bring it to that standard, but the effort would have added meaningful value that the previous owner lost due to its below average presentation. A good result for a day’s work and $50 worth of cleaning products.

The exterior was better, but still obviously in need of some love. The bodywork was straight with only a few minor dents, but the paintwork had marring and other common imperfections from being regularly cleaned without a proper washing technique. Once again, we started by deep cleaning and claying the exterior to remove all the dirt and bonded contaminants from the surface, before a two-stage paint correction, finishing off our hard work with Autoglym’s HD wax paint sealant to really bring the shine back and protect the Sapphire Black paint.

Now our 335i looked nearly new. However, we knew the biggest improvements to come were to the driving experience. When the E9x 335i was first released, it offered performance close to that of the outgoing E46 M3, only with the next generation of technology and safety. The twin-turbo N54 engine gave easy access to the performance, but with significant tunability options not previously seen. The standard power in our 335i was still more than enough for us, so our attention was directed to what we could do with the suspension and chassis.

The greatest surprise to us was the steering. BMWs have always had wonderfully communicative steering, with good ratios and weight and feedback from the front wheels. But the 335i seemed to be a disappointment by normal BMW standards. Opinion amongst the Clickable team was that the steering was overly heavy and didn’t centre itself quickly enough, nor did it provide the typical feedback or character we had loved from previous 3 Series generations.

On the road we loved the driving position and comfortable yet supportive seats, the low-down torque, and positive feeling from the brakes. Curiously though, the ride quality was quite firm without actually providing the driver with fine control of the weight transfer on small winding roads – a worst of both worlds compromise in our view. The DTC stability and traction control systems were also easily upset over bumps, disconnecting the driver from the driving experience.

So, we began a wish list. Within a reasonable budget, what would we do to our 335i to try and make it a wonderful, enjoyable, and usable performance sedan? Then we set about doing it.

We’re really excited to be able to bring you this story. In this series, you’re going to see how you can take a low-mile E90 335i and make it better than it was from new. Be sure to follow our Instagram and Facebook accounts to see when we update Project 90, and call or email us if you have your own project you need parts for.

New Mechanical Repairs: Nil New

Non-Essentials: Detailing Supplies $50

Total Cost of Additions: $50

Total Cost To Date: $50

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