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BMW M3 E36: Buying guide and review (1992-1998)

BMW M3 E36: Buying guide and review (1992-1998) Classic and Performance Car
BMW M3 E36 BMW M3 E36 BMW M3 E36 BMW M3 E36
The second generation BMW M3 was the equivalent of a slightly difficult follow-up to a brilliant breakthrough album. With the E30 M3 having received praise from all quarters for its dynamic abilities as well as motorsport success, its larger more luxuriously positioned replacement was always going to have its work cut out to convince buyers that it too shared the same sporting genes.
 
Released in 1992 with a 282bhp straight six under its bonnet, the new M3 was a different beast. Safety regulations and the continuous drive to move upmarket meant that the new car was heavier and more luxurious than its predecessor. It was also considerably more powerful, and significant work on the suspension turned it into one of the best handling sports cars of its generation.
 
Straight line performance was now approaching junior supercar levels and continuous improvements to engines and chassis as well as the introduction of more body styles ensured that the E36 M3 remained popular throughout production. While not as coveted as some of the other M3s from the past, these cars are rising in popularity and there is little doubt that well looked after examples will follow in the footsteps of the highly collectable E30 M3.
 
Which one to buy?
 
The E36 M3 was initially available in coupe form, with convertible and saloon body styles following soon after. Early models had five-speed gearboxes and came with a 3.0-litre 282bhp engine. Facelift models introduced at the end of 1995 brought in a larger 3.2-litre 316bhp engine and the option of a six-speed manual or SMG sequential manual gearbox. Being a first generation unit, the SMG can be jerky for town use, and the manual versions are generally more preferable from a reliability and usability point of view.
 
US-spec cars were detuned versions of their European counterparts, with a 243bhp 3-litre engine and the option of an automatic gearbox.
 
The manual coupes, especially in face lifted 3.2-litre Evo form are the ones to have, and second hand values reflect this. The rare saloons do add an extra level of practicality, and the convertibles are great for sunny days. however the added complexity of the folding roof mechanism can add to the running costs. Be very wary of abused or overly modified cars as restoring them can be an expensive proposition.
 
Performance and specs
 
1994 M3 3.0 Coupe
Engine 2996cc, 24valve DOHC I6 
Power 282bhp @ 7000rpm 
Torque 236lb ft @ 3600rpm
Top speed 155mph (limited)
0-60mph 5.4 seconds 
Fuel consumption 21.7 mpg 
Gearbox Five-speed manual
Insurance group 20
 
Dimensions and weight 
 
1994 M3 3.0 Coupe
Wheelbase 2700mm
Length 4433mm
Width 1710mm
Height 1335mm
Weight 1460kg
 
Common problems
 
• There are a huge number of specialists that specialise in M3s, with parts and spares are readily available. Certain M specific trim items and smaller parts may require a bit of searching for, and can be very expensive.

• Engines can tick at idle and this is normal, however a grumbly, rough sound may indicate Vanos issues. This is sadly not uncommon, especially if frequent oil services have not been adhered to. Leaking solenoid seals are generally the culprit with Vanos units, and can be replaced cost effectively at a specialist.

• Rear shock mounts and trailing arm bushes wear out and can be diagnosed by a wallowy or unstable rear end through mid- to high-speed corners. Mounts are easy to replace however the trailing arm bushes require specialised tools to fit.

• If the steering has a lot of play, and noises can be heard when turning at low speeds, the lower control arm bushes may require replacing.

• The cooling system is a known problem area and water pumps tend to require replacement every 60,000miles. Coolant expansion tanks can also rupture so it is best to get the system pressure tested.

• Manual gearboxes can suffer from worn second gear synchros while SMG ‘boxes will pop out of gear if the hydraulic fluid levels are too low. Hydraulic clutch pipes tend to expand leading to delayed clutch action, replacement pipes are easy to source.

• Original exhaust systems are very expensive OEM items and most cars will have had aftermarket items fitted.

• Rust tends not to be a major issue however water leaking past the boot seals can collect in the spare wheel well and this combined with leaking acid from the boot mounted battery can badly corrode this area.
 
Model history

1992: E36 M3 coupe introduced with 282bhp 3-litre straight six engine
1994: M3 GT introduced as a homologated racing special. 356 units built all in British racing green for the UK market. Convertible and saloon body styles introduced
1995: M3 coupe and sedan upgraded to 316bhp 3.2 litre engines. Facelift included twin airbags, digital climate control and clear indicator lenses. Six-speed manual and optional SMG gearboxes replaces five-speed manual. M3 Lightweight built in very limited numbers available only in white, with weight saving measures reducing weight by 90kg. 
1996: Convertible models receive face lifted changes
1997: Saloon ceases production with over 12,600 built
1998: Coupe ceases production with over 46,500 built
1999: Last E36 M3 convertible rolls off the production line with a total of over 71,000 of all body styles manufactured.
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• forums.m3cutters.co.uk
• www.bmwcarclubgb.uk
• www.m3forum.com
 
Summary and prices
 
Pristine early coupes and GTs command the highest prices with some trading for up to £25,000. This is the exception rather than the rule and useable well maintained examples range between £5000 and £7000. 
A fully documented service history is essential though, as these cars tend to lead harder lives than most. One of the best handling cars of the ‘90s with the now legendary straight-six engines, the E36 M3 added luxury and practicality into the mix which was to become the way for M cars that followed. Prices are about as low as they will get for these underrated cars and if you get the right one you may even have an appreciating classic in the years to come.

Words: John Tallodi
BMW M3 E36 BMW M3 E36 BMW M3 E36 BMW M3 E36
Last updated: 11th Dec 2015
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  • BMW M3

    POA POA

    Variant name:Coupe ,Derivative:M3 ,Variant: M3 2dr BMW M3 M3 2dr

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 49000 mi
    • Engine size: 4
    For sale
    Prestige Cars Kent-Prestige Cars Kent
    01689 660603 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • 2002 BMW M3 M3 2dr

    POA POA

    In Beautiful Condition And Extremely Well Cared For With A High Level Of Factory Options, Upgrades - Leather Upholstery, Electric Glass Sunroof, Electric Folding Exterior Mirror, Navigation System with On-Board Monitor & TV, Alloy Wheels - 19in, Backrest Width & Lumbar Adjustment, Front Centre Armrest, Headlight Cleaning System, Xenon Lights, Park Distance Control, Rain Sensor, 6 months warranty, 12 months MOT, Service history, Black Full leather interior, Standard Features - Air-Conditioning (Automatic), Cruise Control, Alarm, Computer, Electric Windows (Front), Open 6 Days A Week (Sundays and Bank Holidays by appointment), Part Exchange Up Or Down, Anything Considered, Warranty Included, Competitive Finance Options. Vehicles Purchased.

    • Year: 2002
    • Mileage: 41000 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3

    £24,990 £24,990

    Variant name:Saloon ,Derivative:M3 ,Variant: M3 4dr DCT Up Graded Asbo Wide Track Alloys Satellite Navigation Bluetooth Heate Electric Front Seats FBMWSH Stunning Colour Combination Multi award-winning prestige car dealership John Holland is excited to offer this beautifully presented BMW M3 M3 4dr DCT. Finished in Alpine White with Fox Red Extended Novillo Leather Upholstery with Anthracite Interior Inlays. This stunning example comes with a huge specification to include, 19" Upgraded Pro Race Wide Track Asbo Alloy Wheels, Carbon Fibre Front Bumper Inlets, Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth, Multi Function Leather Steering Wheel, Paddle Shift, Cruise Control, DAB Radio with ipod Connection, Heated Electric Front Seats with Drivers Memory, Climate Control, Rear Park Assist, Privacy Glass, Auto Lights, Xenon Headlights, and Electric Folding Mirrors. Also benefiting from a full BMW service history completed on the 02/11/10 at 1203 miles running in service, 09/03/13 at 15095 miles at Blue Bell BMW, 14/06/14 at 21197 miles, 01/11/14 at 24842 miles, 09/03/15 at 25954 miles all at Vines of Red hill BMW and again on the 09/11/16 42342 miles at Broad Oak BMW Canterbury. Supplied with 2 keys and all its original owners manuals and wallet. John Holland has been established for over 40 years supplying a premium level of service in the sale of sports, prestige and collectors cars. We have a team of experienced buyers who hand pick our cars from all parts of the UK so you can buy with confidence all vehicles are HPI Clear and prepared to the highest standard, full dealer facilities available call the sales team for further information.

    • Year: 2010
    • Mileage: 47986 mi
    • Engine size: 4
    For sale
  • BMW M3

    £21,990 £21,990

    Bluetooth, Xenon Headlamps, Electric Seats, Cruise Control, Parking Sensors, Driver Memory, Satellite Navigation, Powerfold Door Mirrors NEW DISCS AND PADS ALL ROUND - BMW M3 Dakar Edition 4.0L V8 DCT Automatic registered November 2009 finished in Dakar Yellow with Full Black Extended Leather interior with Yellow Stripe and Stitching, Carbon Fibre Exterior trim and Carbon Fibre effect interior trim, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Professional Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth, Logic7 Professional Loudspeaker System, 19 inch M Double Spoke Alloys in Black, Electric Seats with Lumbar Control and Driver Memory, Powerfold Door Mirrors, Climate Control, Xenon Headlamps, Cruise Control, Leather Multifunction M Sport Steering Wheel, Automatic Lights and Wipers, BMW Online and Assist, Carbon Fibre Roof. Finance available on request - subject to status and terms. Ask about our Company Directors packages. Fully Valeted; UK Wide Delivery Available; Part Exchange Welcome.

    • Mileage: 58800 mi
    • Engine size: 4000
    For sale
  • BMW M3

    £23,990 £23,990

    Parking Sensors, Bluetooth, Heated Seats, Keyless Entry, Cruise Control, Xenon Headlamps, Electric Seats, Satellite Navigation, Powerfold Door Mirrors, Driver Memory, Full service history BMW M3 Convertible 4.0 V8 DCT Automatic registered May 2010 (10 reg) finished in Alpine White with Full Red Novillo Leather interior and Titanium Silver Trim, Keyless Entry and Go, 19 inch M Double Spoke Style 220M Alloys in Black,New Discs and Pads all Around, Heated Front Electric Seats with Driver Memory and Lumbar Support, Comfort Access System, Front and Rear Parking Sensors with Park Distance Control, Professional Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth, Cruise Control, Voice Control, Powerfold Door Mirrors, BMW Online and Assist, Start/stop, Xenon Headlamps, Automatic Lights and Wipers, Full Service History at BMW on 21/06/10 at 3,473 - running in; 30/11/11 at 16,855; 28/03/12 at 18,917; 30/01/13 at 36,440; Oil and Filters at 3D Cars on 05/09/14 at 51,205; Snows BMW on 07/05/16 at 51,736 and 16/06/16 at 51,993. Finance available on request - subject to status and terms. Ask about our Company Directors packages. Fully Valeted; UK Wide Delivery Available; Part Exchange Welcome.

    • Mileage: 55000 mi
    • Engine size: 3999
    For sale
  • BMW M3

    £30,995 £30,995

    Variant name:Coupe Special Editions M Performance Edition ,Derivative:M3 M Performance Edition ,Variant: 4.0 M Performance Edition BMW M3 M3 M Performance Edition 2dr DCT

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 49510 mi
    • Engine size: 4
    For sale
  • BMW M3 4.0 V8 DCT 2dr INDIVIDUAL MINERAL WHITE Petrol Auto 2011 40000 White

    £26,995 £26,995

    A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO PURCHASE AN INDIVIDUAL MINERAL WHITE E92 M3 COUPE WITH JUST 2 OWNERS FROM NEW, RARE DESIRABLE SPEC, FULL BMW SERVICE HISTORY AND IN PRISTINE ORIGINAL CONDITION!;;Upgrades/Spec Includes: Mineral White Individual Paintwork, Extended Novillo Leather In Palladium Silver, EDC Electronic Damper Control, Harman Kardon Logic 7 Surround Sound, DAB Radio, Heated Seats, Lights Package, Bi Xenon Headlights, Navigation System Professional, Electric Seats With Memory, Electric Lumbar Support, Daytime Running Lights, Auto Dimming Mirrors, Auto Lights/ Wipers, Cruise Control, Front And Rear Parking Sensors, Bluetooth Handsfree Including Bluetooth Audio, USB Audio Interface, Storage Compartment Package, Interior Trim Leather Carbon Structure, BMW Assist, BMW Online, Voice Control, Front And Rear Cup Holders, 19" BMW LA Style Polished Wheels Completely Unmarked.;;SPEAK TO US ABOUT OUR FLEXIBLE LOW RATE FINANCE OPTIONS!;

    • Mileage: 40000 mi
    • Engine size: 3.999
    For sale
  • BMW M3 DCT 2dr

    £27,950 £27,950

    Body: Coupe Transmission: Semi-Automatic Mileage: 25,000 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 2012 (62) Doors: 2 Engine Size: 4.0 Finished in: SPACE GREY METALLIC WITH BLACK LEATHER 19" alloys

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 25000 mi
    For sale
  • 2008 BMW M3 4.0 V8 DCT 3 DOOR IN BLUE WITH BLACK LEATHER LOVELY CAR

    £19,500 £19,500

    BMW 3 series 4.0 V8 M3 DCT 3 DOOR IN BLUE WITH BLACK LEATHER LOVELY CAR finished in Blue (Auto), 61,000 miles with blacl leather interior only 3 previous owners from new. this car comes complete with a full service history.;;Features include SAT NAV - Professional, Climate Control, Traction Control, Electric Windows, HPI Clear, 19inch Alloys, Power Assisted Steering, Bi Xenon Headlights, Split Folding Rear Seats, Digital Climate Control, Front, Side, Rear Airbags, Leather Interior, Alarm, Remote Locking, Central Locking, Television, Electric Mirrors, Heated Seats, Paddle Shift, Auxiliary Heating, Spare Key, Cruise Control, Warranted Mileage, Front Parking Sensors, Ipod / Bluetooth Conn, Air Conditioning, Rear Parking Sensors, CD Player, Sports Suspension, Electric Adjustable Seats, Heated Door Mirrors, Multi Function Steering Wheel, AUX Port, Service Indicator, COMAND, V5 Reg Doc, Front Heated Seats, Independent Vehicle Inspection, Adjustable Steering Wheel, Radio, Catalytic Converter, Sports Seats, Elec Memory Drivers Seat, Headlight Washers, MOT, Auto Wipers, Seat Height Adjustment, Colour Coded, Trip Computer, Front Arm Rest, Immobiliser, ABS, Privacy Glass, Bluetooth Phone Conn, Spoiler, Elec Folding Mirrors, Full Service History, Metallic Paint, Auto Lights.;;Only GBP 19,500;;

    • Mileage: 61000 mi
    • Engine size: 3.999
    For sale
  • BMW M3 DCT 2dr

    £27,950 £27,950

    Body: Coupe Transmission: Semi-Automatic Mileage: 24,000 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 2013 (13) Doors: 2 Engine Size: 4.0 Finished in: SPACE GREY METALLIC WITH BLACK LEATHER 18" alloys

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 24000 mi
    For sale
  • BMW E46 M3 CSL

    £46,995 £46,995

    The engine used in the CSL has an increased output over the regular S54 by 17hp and 4 lb-ft of torque, compared to the European M3. This is due to the use of sharper profile camshafts, a bigger air intake with a carbon fibre manifold, and refinement of the exhaust manifold. Under the bonnet of this example you'll find a pristine engine bay laced with carbon fibre. The car is complete with a full service history, with the most recent service having been carried out little over 1k miles ago.

    • Year: 2004
    • Mileage: 62035 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3

    £44,950 £44,950

    Variant name:Saloon ,Derivative:M3 ,Variant: M3 4dr DCT Leven Car Company Present This BMW M3 4dr DCT Finished in Metallic Black Sapphire with Black Extended Merino Leather Interior. Contact Us For More Information Or For An HD video. Tailored Finance Packages Available With Excellent Rates.

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 15978 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
  • BMW M3 E92 4.0 V8 2009

    £24,995 £24,995

    2009 (59) E92 M3 4.0 Silverstone II metallic ;28184 miles reg number NK59 JBZ;Full BMW service history. Last at 28100 miles 26/06/17.;Mot March 18;4 new continental Tyres done 1k;Extensive paperwork and receipts.;;Only ever serviced by BMW main dealers at the following milages.;;1084mls / 5755mls / 8645mls / 9402mls / 15997mls / 18722mls / 28081mls;;Optional extras inc:;DTC ( dynamic traction control ) ;EDC ( electric damper control);Electric folding mirrors;Comfort access ;Seat belt Butler ;Sliding armrest ;High beam assist ;Adaptive xenon lights ;Leather heated seats;Carbon lightweight roof;BMW m logo side skirts and boot lip-spoiler ;Parking assist ;Adaptive headlights;Logic 7" LCD screen and surround sound;Split screen satnav;Trip computer;BMW privacy glass ;Ipod/USB and amp; Bluetooth hands free ;19's m sport alloys ;Cruise control;Dual climate control.;;Recently Fitted ;;Hayward and amp; Scott exhaust (original included) sounds amazing and not loud ;BMW sports package (cost GBP 1,595) including Eibach Pro Springs (originals included);Hel brake lines,Front end polybushed, Hunter 4 corner alignment.;BMW health check and inspection 1.;;Purchased From BMW main dealer and It is an AUC vehicle and still under warranty with Bmw untill March 2018 ;;Probably the nicest available totally unmarked inside and out. Still smells new inside, first to see will buy. ;;24995 p/x and down trades on request.;;Delivery available to your door nationwide.;Viewing 7 days a week by appointment only please;Similar cars always wanted for stock please go to web site for more details on selling your car

    • Mileage: 28000 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3 DCT

    £26,950 £26,950

    Body: Convertible Transmission: Semi-Automatic Mileage: 35,000 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 2012 (12) Doors: 2 Engine Size: 4.0 Finished in: SPACE GREY METALLIC WITH FOX RED LEATHER 19" alloys

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 35000 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3

    €11,000(£9,829.60) €11,000(£9,829.60)

    BMW M3 E30 año 1987 151.000 kms gasolina 200 hp Coche recien pintado y tratado, muchas piezas nuevas, todo funciona , todo, aire acondicionado, techo solar electrico, ventanillas, cierre, cuero original en perfecto estado, matricula original,coche nacional,etc. Color Blanco

    • Year: 1987
    • Mileage: 98350 mi
    For sale
    Perez Cid
    6752543256 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • BMW M3

    £24,990 £24,990

    Competition pack, Carbon roof, Harmon Kardon, Sport seats, Bluetooth hands-freeVVS are delighted to offer this 2010/60 BMW M3 Frozen Silver edition presented in Frozen matt grey metallic with full Novillo black leather. This car has a high specification including DCT transmission, carbon leather trim, carbon roof, front heated and electric memory seats, competition package, Harmon Kardon sound system, enhanced bluetooth function, full bmw service history and the balance of a BMW warranty. Be quick as these special edition cars with this spec are becoming hard to find in this condition., Please visit www.vvsuk.co.uk for 20 High Definition photographs of this car.

    • Mileage: 76000 mi
    • Engine size: 3999
    For sale
  • BMW M3 Convertible

    POA POA

    - Jersey car from new, factory Harman Kardon sound system and recent set of M3 Continental tyres - 63,000 recorded miles supported by nine stamps (running-in service, main dealer and specialist) - Imola red leather upholstery, six-speed manual gearbox, said to be 'a very good running and driving car' - No Reserve but guide price: _6,000 - _10,000 Introduced at the March 2000 Geneva Salon, the E46 M3 combined four-seater practicality with near supercar performance. Reputedly capable of 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds and 155mph (limited), the newcomer boasted a muscular 3.2-litre straight-six engine (rated at 338bhp/269lbft) and sophisticated M Differential Lock. According to the M Registry, 13,052 Coupes and 7,234 Convertibles were built to RHD Euro-spec (3,480 of the latter being fitted with six-speed manual rather than SMG transmission). Finished in Titanium Silver Metallic with Imola Red leather upholstery, this particular example was supplied new to Jersey and is described by the vendor as a 'very good running and driving car' that is also 'very straight and honest'. Deeming the bodywork, paintwork, engine and manual transmission to be 'very good' and the interior trim 'good', he furthe

    • Year: 2003
    For sale
  • BMW M3

    £10,500 £10,500

    This BMW is a stunning example of an M3 convertible. Excellent condition all round. All alloy wheels are like new. Finished in silver with grey leather and a blue roof.The roof is in excellent condition. Had run in service at 1201 miles, then a further 7 services up to 80000 miles, last serviced on 30/05/2017. First 4 services are all BMW then at local garages. Comes with a silver hard top which again is in very good condition. Drives without fault. Please feel free to call if you require any more information. The car will also come with a one year MOT when sold.

    • Mileage: 80000 mi
    • Engine size: 3246
    For sale
  • BMW M3 CRT

    POA POA

    Features : CRT Limited Edition "Carbon Racing Technology" No. 26/67 copies. 4.4L V8 450ch, gearbox 7-speed DKG dual clutch. Comment : GPS, parking sensors.

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 17091 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3 DCT 4.0 V8 COUPE. MINERAL WHITE METALLIC

    £24,995 £24,995

    Late Model M3 4.0 V8 DCT 2012/12 Registration.;Mineral White Metallic ;Carbon Roof;Factory Sun Protection Glass;Black Novillo Leather;Leather Centre Armrest and Door Cards;Multi-Function Leather Thick Rim Steering Wheel;Fully Electric / Memory Seats;Titan Shadow Inlays ;Anthracite Headlining;220 M Double Spoke Forged Alloys In Gloss Gunmetal ;4X M3 Conti-Sport Tyres;DCT 7 Speed ( M Double-Clutch Gearbox with Drivelogic);Start Button ;Power Mode ;Switchable DSC;Navigation System Proffesional;USB/Audio Interface;Bluetooth Phone Preparation;Dual Automatic Climate Controlled Air Conditioning;LED Tail Lamps ;Xenons with Headlamp Wash;Daytime Running Lights;;Only 2 Previous Owners with FBMWSH. Supplied and Serviced by Cooper BMW From New Including Running In Service. Complete Supplying Leather Book Pack, Tool Kit, Compressor and Spare Keys. Drives Superb. Immaculate Condition Throughout. Absolutely Stunning Car! Value at Only GBP 24995.;;In Stock - Please Call For Appointment to View.;Part Exchange / Finance Packages Available ;Nationwide Delivery / Shipping.;;;

    • Mileage: 58000 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3

    £42,989 £42,989

    Head Up Display, Professional Sat Nav, Rear View Camera, Teleservices, Real Time Traffic, Online Entertainment, Concierge Services, Connected Drive Services, Climate Control, Cruise Control with Braking Function, Electric Heated Memory Sports Seats with Lumbar and Back Width Adjustment, DAB Radio, Harman Kardon, Adaptive Xenon Headlamps, Park Distance Control, High Beam Assist, Secrecy Glass, Adaptive M Suspension, Lights Package, Tyre Pressure Monitor, Carbon Fibre Trim, Multi Function Steering Wheel inc Gear Shift Paddles, Full M Sport Suspension and 19" M Double Spoke Alloys. Full BMW Service History. Balance of Manufacturers Warranty. Balance of Service Pack. www.imperials.co.uk ------ Please call us to Confirm which of our 3 Essex Showrooms your desired vehicle is located at before travelling to see us, Everyone of Our Cars Goes Through Our In House Work Shop Prior to Sale by Our Fully Qualified and Experienced Technicians - Buy with Confidence, For up to 20 images of this vehicle and an Instant Finance Quote please view www.imperials.co.uk, For Out of Office Hours Enquiries please call Tony 07956 564440 and he will be happy to help, We are also good buyers of all prestige, Sp

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 36000 mi
    For sale
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