Engine: M52B28 with M50B25 inlet manifold
Transmission: Standard 328i Sport limited-slip diff’
Chassis: HSD coilovers, Eibach anti-roll bars front and rear, SuperPro poly bushes
Brakes: E46 M3 front callipers, E36 M3 front discs
Wheels: BBS RC041 and RC042 face-mounted split rims
Tyres: Toyo R888r 225/45/17 front and 255/40/17 rear tyres
Body: Satin graphite grey wrap by UTWS
Interior: Sparco multi-point roll cage with additional door bars, dash bar, harness bar and gusseting
Welcome to another unfinished 3 Series project. Yes, a second grey BMW coupe sat in the corner of our showroom waiting to be finished; another stripped-out, roll-caged 3 Series that’s been built for the track (but not actually gone near a track in a great many months). But that’s ok because being true petrolheads we can easily rationalise this extravagant duplication.
There are some major differences between our two 3 Series track cars, for a start. While the E46 has a big old S85 V10 with around 500hp (more at some point) and a curb weight that’s probably about the same as a stock M3 (1500kg), this E36 is way lighter (1100kg) and less powerful (230hp). And that means their driving experiences will be different enough to absolutely justify having both of them. No question.
Sparco roll cage with custom door, dash and harness bars, added gusseting and red respray
Stainless-steel exhaust system with custom slash-cut tail pipes
Satin graphite grey wrap by UTWS
E46 M3 front calipers and E36 M3 front discs
1998 BMW E36 328i Coupe
Plug and play?
Although currently in more individual pieces than the V10, the smaller 3er is probably closer to completion. We bought it as a working track car with some go-faster bits already attached and the mods we’ve since accumulated are all of the bolt-on variety, so it should be quite straightforward to put back together. Quite unlike the V10. We hope.
The majority of the upgrades centre on the chassis: HSD coilovers, Eibach anti-roll bars, lots of polyurethane bushes, a Purple Tag steering rack from an E46 (fewer turns lock to lock) and the odd brace and strengthening bar here and there. And they’ll be plenty of adjustment so we can get lost in a melee of clicks and spanner turns. We’ve even got a set of cheating slicks (on Team Dynamics rims) to get the most out of the chassis, so this should be a real corner speed king once it’s up and running.
All show, some go
This is just as well because we’re not going to chase big power, at least not yet. We’ve already got the basic mods covered (stainless exhaust system, remap and less-restrictive M50 inlet manifold) and that’ll do for now. Combined with the well-sorted chassis and sticky slicks, it at least means we don’t need much in the way of stopping power; the E36/46 M3 front brake setup and EBC pads should be good enough. The transmission is stock (until something breaks?), but we’re off to a good start with a factory LSD.
Obviously, it has all the usual track car mods. That means a roll cage (an off-the-shelf Sparco cage that we’ve upgraded with additional dash, door and harness bars, lots of gusseting and a sexy red paint job), bucket seats, a well-worn suede wheel and a fire extinguisher that we’ll hopefully never use. It’s also meant a comprehensive weight-loss programme resulting in polycarb’ windows, a lightweight heater and a stripped interior (good), along with a wiring loom that’s sat in the boot of the car while we work out whether it’s worth stripping for less weight (bad).
Fix up, look sharp
Of course, we’ll also make sure this is the sharpest-looking E36 in all of track day-land. We’re already partway there, what with that bright-red roll cage popping off the lovely satin grey wrap. Plus, we’ve got all sorts of BMW M (cough, replica) body parts to go on, including an M3 GT front bumper and carbon splitter and an M3 GT Class II rear boot spoiler. Because if your car looks good, that’s half the track day battle won, right?