What An E36 Engine Bay Should Always Look Like

A tidy boat is a happy boat is a common saying among mariners and it’s clear why such a simple saying can hold so much truth and meaning. The organization of anything technical is critical especially when it comes to heavy machinery. Why should a car be any different? BMW is well known for being exceptionally forward-thinking in its technological endeavors.

They have always prioritized a tidy-looking vehicle, inside and out, compared to almost every other brand. Should the engine bay be any different? This quick blog post is going to cover a little bit of background information on the BMW E36 as well as some info about the E36 engine bay as well as looking into the importance of a meticulously tidy engine bay. And, we will even have a little head-to-head between the E36 engine bay and the E37 engine bay. Just for fun. Let’s get into it right here and now.

A Summary Of The BMW E36

The BMW E36 is one of the most popular vehicles that BMW has ever put out and may well be the most popular vehicle that BMW manufactured and sold during the 90s. Why? Because it is a real workhorse that not only looks great but stands the test of time in terms of reliability and performance.

The E36 is to this day an exceptional car and one that most BMW owners look back on fondly if that is they don’t still potentially own an E36. Then they are simply looking at it fondly. The E36 was designed to be an entry-level luxury car that came as either a Sedan or a Saloon. The E36 was sold from 1990 until 1999/2000. Though you will still see plenty of E36’s around all these years later.

What Is An Engine Bay?

Just for clarity’s sake when discussing the BMW E36 engine bay it might be worth briefly discussing what we mean by that. The engine bay is essentially the space under the hood that the engine occupies. However, while some people may simply be referring to the physical limitations of space that the engine itself is sat in we are discussing every aspect of the engine and indeed everything that’s under the hood itself.

Washer fluid, intake valves, power steering reservoir, etc. The engine bay, while being a clearly defined area, is sometimes a little ambiguous in conversations like this when it is not clear whether someone might be discussing the actual engine itself or everything under the hood.

What Should An E36 Engine Bay Look Like?

The first part of this section will be inarguable and without controversy. The second half might grind some people’s gears but it is our article so, there you go. Firstly, and without question, the E36 engine bay should be clean and tidy. There are two meanings to this.

Firstly, the actual components of the E36 engine bay should all be in the correct place, fitted tightly with clean joints and fasteners, and secure enough that they aren’t “wobbling” about as you drive.

Secondly, it should be physically clean. Whether you agree with the principle that the engine bay should be immaculate or not having a clean engine bay will make you, and your mechanic, feel far happier. Especially if you end up needing to spend any meaningful time in the engine bay yourself.

Secondly, and perhaps controversially, the E36 engine bay looks so much better when all of the components are of the same color. If you decide you want blue OEM parts like the intake manifold or cylinder heads more power to you. But, they should all be the same color. Not a rainbow of aftermarket parts causing you to be blinded whenever you pop the hood. Bonus points if your E36 engine bay matches the external paint job on your car!

Does A Tidy E36 Engine Bay Matter?

Some people may disagree but a tidy engine bay does make a huge difference for many reasons. One, it is obviously far more aesthetically pleasing to look at a nice and tidy engine bay than one that is covered in grease and oil with fluid reservoirs holding on for dear life.

A tidy engine bay free of debris and oil is less likely to wear down in certain areas and so will last longer as well as if you come to sell the vehicle you can display a higher level of care for the vehicle that will allow you to fetch a higher price for it.

Which Has A Nicer Engine Bay The E36 Vs The E37?

There may be some bias here given we are here to talk about the E36 engine bay, not the E37 engine bay. But, we will share our biased view anyway. The E36 engine bay looks far slicker and actually the lack of pure metal that the E37 “suffers” from when electing to move to poly-carbon and plastic manifolds, etc., makes the E36 come out on top with very little contest.

Can I Re-Arrange My E36 Engine Bay?

You could theoretically re-arrange your E36 engine bay, but the problem is that there isn’t much spare room in the engine bay anyway (which plays a part in why the E36 engine bay looks so nice) and in actual fact, although you could make some changes you are so limited that you are better off leaving everything well enough alone. Unless you are planning on swapping in a large set of aftermarket parts then you are probably pretty limited in your options for “re-arrangement”.


So, now you know what the E36 engine bay should look like as well as some opinion-based “facts” about how well the newer E37 holds up to its predecessor the E36. Whether or not you agree with us that a tidy engine bay is a happy engine bay we can surely all agree that the E36 is a phenomenal bit of machinery and that even 30 years later it still holds up incredibly well to modern standards.

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