Ok, I thought I'd give another update of the work I've done to date and my opinions on the car. Spread over the past couple of weekends I've fitted a timing belt kit & waterpump, auxiliary drive belt, oil & filter change, pollen filter change, air filter change, fuel filter change, replaced the springs with eibachs all round, fitted new top wishbones on each side and fitted 235/40 r19 Accelera tyres all round.
The oil hadn't been changed in about 23000 miles and was really black but still very slippery to the touch. When I change engine oil I always put wynns engine flush in the old oil first to flush out any unwanted grime. This seems to have made a big difference as fuel economy has improved by 10-15%. I achieved 44mpg on a 20 mile run which I've previously only been able to get 39mpg on. The engine is much smoother & quieter and overall I'm really happy with the improvement. I think oil changes in the region of 10K miles maximum are in order from now on. I'll probably do another one in a couple of thousand miles or so just to make sure the crud from previous owners is well & truly gone.
Although i now need an alignment done updating the suspension has made a massive difference. Turn in is much sharper and direct than before & the suspension is so much more refined. I expected the eibachs to be harsh but in fact the opposite is true. The car no longer floats over crests nor crashes in dips, uneven road surfaces are dealt with spectacularly well. The standard dampers seem very well matched to these springs. I would definitely recommend eibachs instead of standard springs. Also ride height seems to have raised at the rear (prob due to previously having a broken spring & the other was prob very tired) & very slightly lowered at the front.
I've done all the work myself, I'm no mechanic but over the years between myself & my brother we have amassed a decent set of garage equipment all of which was required. This car is not one to be worked on with a standard 1/4 drive socket set! The car has not been 2 bad to work on, engine room is tight and it seems that to work on what you want to work on a lot of others items need to be removed first. At the end of the day though its only nuts & bolts and if you work methodically, thinking each step through, before you know it the jobs done. I did have a real fight with 1 off the suspension bolts though, I spent almost 1 hour fighting with it.
Since doing the work I've really got to enjoy the driving of the car. Previously I always thought it just another car, definitely not a 3 series BMW but my opinion has now changed to it being a slight compromise between the all out sporty driving characteristics of an msport BMW and a mildly sporting cruiser, GT would be the correct term. I would prefer this car for my commute & a m-sport bmw for when I would really want to drive which these days are few and far between. Also its a real looker compared to anything from BMW these days.