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    Guiding Light. Thank you so much for publishing my letter in the November issue of BMW Car (‘Compact Queries’) – the issue was very enjoyable, as it always is, but with my own letter in it, it was even more special. I will follow your advice and have my radiator replaced sooner rather than later, using an original BMW one because Mr Everett has been warning quite a lot recently about aftermarket radiators not being very good from a quality/durability point of view. It would definitely be nice if he could do some articles focused on BMW engines at some point in the future. In the meantime, is there any chance he could shed some light on the plastic chain guides as fitted to the engine in my #BMW-E46 / #BMW-316ti / #BMW-316ti-E46 / #BMW-E46/5 / #BMW-316ti-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-316ti-Compact / #BMW-3-Series-Compact ? Would he advise to have these replaced on older engines, just to be on the safe side?
    • The engine in your Compact hasn’t covered itself in glory over the years Marnix and we would certainly recommend a preventative replacement of the chaThe engine in your Compact hasn’t covered itself in glory over the years Marnix and we would certainly recommend a preventative replacement of the chain guides in yours, especially if you’re planning on keeping the car for the foreseeable future. It’s not the cheapest of repairs, but it’s much more cost effective to do the replacement before there’s a problem rather than after. We hope you enjoy the Buying Guide on page 78 which goes into a little more detail on this issue…   More ...
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    Oliver von Mizener #BMW-E36 / #BMW-318ti / #BMW / #BMW-318ti-E36 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Compact / #BMW-3-Series-Compact-E36 / #BMW-318ti-Compact-E36 / #BMW-318ti-Compact /

    Typical, you wait ages for an E36 Compact and then two come along at once! Oliver hasn’t gone quite as wild with his example as the owner of the armyinspired machine you’ll find, but he has built himself a great-looking Compact. Oliver’s owned the car for just over a year, initially planning simply to use it as a daily before the modding bug took hold and it transformed into a pretty serious project. K Sport coilovers have been employed to drop it nice and low over the BBS RC090s that have been fitted and the styling has been enhanced with the addition of M3 door mirrors, a matching M3 front bumper with functional Hella rally lights (one of Oliver’s favourite mods) and clear repeaters and Euro tail-lights. Inside he’s fitted M3 Vader seats and a Condor gear knob while the chassis has been uprated with Condor delrin bushes and engine and transmission mounts, E30 axles and an E28 M5 LSD. Future plans, says Oliver, include an #S52 / #BMW-S52 / #ZF / #S52-swap , black interior swap and a Felony Form wide-body kit.
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    The E36 Compact has a bit of an unfortunate reputation in certain quarters but Dávid Haas’ example is here to prove that potential is everywhere, and these offbeat hatchbacks can be turned into proper little jaw-droppers… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Krisztian Bolgar.

    2.8-swapped E36 Compact

    There’s a popular saying that you may have heard: ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ The kind of mawkish sentiment that seems to make some sort of sense when you see it on a cheesy pink fridge magnet or in somebody’s Twitter bio, but it is, in fact, a pretty dumb statement. If you find yourself with free lemons, just sell them. That’s 100% profit. If you’re going to turn them into lemonade, you’re committing yourself to all manner of time, effort, the expense of ingredients and equipment… the saying should really go: ‘When life gives you lemons, brilliant, free lemons.’ Why overcomplicate things?

    Now, as us car people know, the term ‘lemon’ has a darker meaning. It’s a scathing word applied to cars that are, well, not quite up to par; cars that sometimes feature noteworthy flaws (like the Ford Pinto having those bolts near the fuel tank that means the thing catches fire if it’s rearended), or that have a secret cut-and-shut past, or sometimes simply aren’t considered to be as good as they could have been. And in the eyes of some, the E36 Compact falls into this latter category. The first generation Compact, designated E36/5, was identical to a regular E36 from the front bumper back to the A pillars, but the truncated tail hid the suspension setup from the older E30. This allowed for a lower boot floor and undermounted spare wheel and thus maximised the utility of the hatchback, though many saw it as a compromise.

    But screw that. There’s enough negativity in this world, let’s spin the Compact’s reputation around, shall we? And we’ll let Hungary’s Dávid Haas lead the charge. He’s probably the man for the job – just look at his Compact! The thing’s so aggressive you have to tip-toe up to it in case it nips your hand. Angry, scary thing. “I bought the car to be a daily driver in 2012,” he explains. “It was in quite bad condition but it came with the factory MSport option, which made it attractive.”

    This trim level comprised M-tweaked suspension, foglights, alloys, sports seats, and a few other trinkets to elevate it above the lesser base models. This car as bought came equipped with an M52B25 – the spiciest option that the E36/5 came with; North American readers will probably only be familiar with four-cylinder Compacts, but the European market 323ti served up 170hp from a straight-six, which makes it easier to swap in bigger engines… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Where did Dávid go from here, with his ratty but brimming-with-potential motor?

    “It didn’t take much time to decide on the first few mods,” he grins. “I run a small BMW shop here called Han’s Garage, so I had the means at my disposal to make the changes I wanted. This began with hiding the original tired silver paint under a white wrap, and fitting a set of 9.5x16” Hayashi Racing wheels, along with fully adjustable coilovers.” A strong start, but the game was only just beginning to hot up…

    It’s worth noting that Han’s Garage, while Dávid describes it as ‘a small BMW shop’, walks pretty tall in the Hungarian tuning scene. Before this car, he enjoyed much internet celebrity thanks to his E30 cabriolet, E36 coupé, another E30, and a bagged E36 Touring, each one sporting a variety of unexpected home-grown tricks. Any possibility of this Compact retaining a semblance of factory originality was really dead in the water.

    “After a couple of months of use, I decided to make a few further changes as I wasn’t happy with the setup,” Dávid explains, ever the perfectionist. “I replaced the wheels with a set of 10x18” rims from Japan Racing, although the sizing threw up some immediate fitment problems.” He’s used the word ‘problems’, but this is a guy who really only sees challenges as a path to further excellence.

    The sleeves were rolled up, the tongue was poking out of the corner of the mouth, he was in deep: “I fitted a set of 3D camber plates,” Dávid continues, “along with BMW E46 control arms and eccentric bushes to solve the problem, but even all of this couldn’t help me avoid widening the arches… in the end, however, everything was perfect. But I made a wrong move and sold the car in order to turn to a whole new project.”

    Wait, what?! We were just getting into the story Dávid! You’re such a tease… “Yeah, I totally regretted it,” he ponders, scratching his chin thoughtfully. “After about six months I really had the urge to finish what I had started – I’d been having a lot of ideas for the car after I’d sold it. Thankfully the buyer was a friend of mine though, and I managed to convince him to sell it back to me! He’d barely touched the car throughout his time owning it too, so I was able to pick up pretty much where I left off.”

    This buyback move took a lot of Dávid’s friends by surprise. With his strong legacy of building desirable and unique BMWs, why was he wasting his time monkeying about with such a lemon? There are plenty of other ’90s BMWs out there in need of salvation, why take the retrograde step of going back to this Compact again?

    “They were wrong, I guess,” he laughs. “I knew the potential was in there, I just had to let the car do the talking. The first job was to begin the transformation to Army Compact: I painted it flat military green with the help of my friend 819Lacika. Then I ordered a set of zero offset JR11 wheels from #Japan-Racing – 9.5x18” up front, 10x18” out back.” Blimey. And he thought he had fitment issues before! This is real go-big-or-go-home stuff.

    “At this point, I just knew it had to go lower,” Dávid smirks, with the malevolent air exuded by all full-bore modifying addicts. “The TA coilovers were good but they had their limits, so I shortened the bodies and made the shocks stiffer.” This had the desired effect of ensuring that the car has very little in the way of suspension travel at all, which is just what was required. Look at the wheel-to-arch interface, you’ll understand why.

    From this point on, Dávid was keen to really up the game of the aesthetics, and his next move was to acquire an adjustable front splitter from the super-obscure E36 M3 GT homologation model. Trust us, these things make hen’s teeth seem rapaciously abundant in comparison. And to complement this, he added a set of MHW tail-lights, projector headlights and, just for the sheer modern screw-you-ness of it all, some quick release bumper mounts. Because motorsport, yeah?

    “Christmas was coming by this point, and I decided to pause the project for a while,” Dávid recalls. “But my girlfriend thought differently! She put a Wilwood hydraulic handbrake lever under the tree, which of course made me very happy! And that spurred me on to carry out further interior mods – along with the army camo trim, I bolted in a set of E46 front seats, junked the rears along with lots of other superfluous stuff back there, and fitted an OMP steering wheel.” Proceedings are largely dominated by that towering hydro ’brake though, and no bad thing.

    Oh yes – and we should probably return to the idea of power, shouldn’t we? Remember how we were talking about the opportunities created by BMW’s decision to shoehorn an M52B25 into the 323ti? Well, that was just the sort of thing Dávid was keen to capitalise upon.

    “I swapped in an M52B28,” he beams. And he’s right to do so – this is the 2.8-litre motor you’d find in the likes of the 328i and various others, and it’s a lot of displacement for a little hatchback.

    He hasn’t left it stock, either; well, would you expect anything less? “It’s running an OEM BMW Motorsport ECU,” he explains, “along with the usual M50 intake manifold swap, a BMC filter and a full custom exhaust. It’s probably running about 220-230hp now.” And that’s a fairly staggering amount for a 1990s hot hatch. It’s evident that this car was always intended to be as much about ‘go’ as ‘show’.

    What Dávid’s done here, in essence, is to go against the flow and actively seek out one of life’s lemons. And while he may have taken our advice (not always recommended…) and sold the lemon, he quickly pulled it back and decided to make it into something fresh. Not just lemonade, but a full three course meal of lemon sole canapés, oriental lemon cashew chicken, lemon drizzle cake, and a shot of limoncello to round things off. This is his riposte to the lemon-haters, and it’s finger-lickin’ good.

    Interior has been given the same army treatment as the exterior and also features E46 front seats and hydraulic handbrake.

    “I knew the potential was in there, I just had to let the car do the talking”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE 2.8 / #BMW-E36-Compact / #BMW-328i-Compact / #BMW-328i-Compact-E36 / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-E36 / #Japan-Racing-JR-11 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Compact / #BMW-3-Series-Compact-E36 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.8-litre straight-six #M52B28 / #M52 / #BMW-M52 , OEM #BMW-Motorsport ECU, M50 intake manifold, #BMC air filter, custom exhaust system with carbon rear box, power estimated at 220-230hp, five-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 9.5x18” (front) and 10x18” (rear) #ET0-Japan-Racing-JR11 wheels with 215/35 (front) and 225/35 (rear) tyres, 3D camber plates, E46 control arms, eccentric bushes, custom-shortened TA coilovers, #Wilwood hydraulic handbrake

    EXTERIOR Flat military green, adjustable E36 M3 GT splitter, MHW tail-lights, quick release bumper mounts, projector headlights

    INTERIOR Camo trim, OMP steering wheel, E46 front seats, rear seats removed 2.8 E36 Compact
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    Compact queries / #BMW-325ti-Compact-E46 / #BMW-325ti-Compact / #BMW-325ti-E46 / #BMW-325ti / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Compact / #BMW-3-Series-Compact-E46 / #BMW /

    First of all, thank you for making such a great magazine every month! It must be a very busy job for such a small crew, but you are probably having a lot of fun too. I’ve certainly been enjoying reading every issue since buying my own BMW back in September 2007. My favourite sections are the Buying Guide, Longtermers and all the technical advice.

    The latter may have even saved me a lot of trouble, as I had the chain tensioner on my E46 316ti Compact replaced with the modified type after you wrote an article about it. I did not think there was anything wrong with mine but had it changed anyway and it cured the light chain rattle I occasionally heard on start-up after the car had been sitting for a couple of days. Who knows what might have happened if my tensioner hadn’t been replaced?

    This particular case also provided excellent proof of your expertise: my official BMW dealer did not know BMW modified the tensioner and I had to bring in your article to enable them to source the part with the part number you indicated.

    Most of the tech info in the mag is written by Mr Everett these days, I believe. He does not seem to like the E46 much but it’s very helpful reading his comments on what can go wrong with these cars. In recent issues he repeatedly mentioned the N42 engine has a lot of common problems.

    Personally I know of many, unfortunately from my own experience (oil leaks from vacuum pump, valve cover gasket and Vanos units, and oil separator) and from other sources (ignition coils, Valvetronic motor and eccentric shaft, and plastic chain guides). I was wondering if Mr. Everett could write a comprehensive article on all of the woes that can occur with the N42? I would highly appreciate this and hope and think it could be helpful to many other readers either driving N42-engined cars or looking into buying one. Quite a few are still around after all.

    In the September issue the Tech Focus section was about cooling systems. Very interesting, but it left me with some questions I am hoping you can answer. You advised to replace the radiator every 75,000 miles because the plastic housing tends to crack. Is wear on the cooling system mileagerelated or age-related? Or is it the number of heat cycles it has gone through? My #2002 E46 #BMW-316ti-Compact has 115,000km (approx 71,500 miles) on the odometer at the moment and it still has its original radiator. Would you advise to replace the radiator soon?

    And what about other parts of the cooling system? I already had the water pump and thermostat replaced as a precautionary measure a couple of years ago at about 80,000km (50,000 miles), because those are known to fail prematurely on many BMWs. Last but not least I had the coolant changed at least every five years as specified in BMW’s maintenance schedule. Do you think there is anything more one can do to maintain this everso-fragile cooling system?

    Well, this email got rather long and I hope I did not take too much of your valuable time. After all, you have a magazine to make, haven’t you? Just keep up that excellent work, please! Best regards from an enthusiastic BMW driver and BMW Car magazine reader.
    • Thanks for your kind words Marnix, and we’re glad you’re enjoying your Compact and the magazine. We’ve given some thought to running specific engine gThanks for your kind words Marnix, and we’re glad you’re enjoying your Compact and the magazine. We’ve given some thought to running specific engine guides and perhaps this is something we can commission Andy Everett to do – if this is an idea that comes to fruition we’ll ask him to start with the N42!

      As far as your cooling system is concerned you seem to be doing all the right things, especially replacing the water pump and thermostat as a precautionary measure. How long your radiator will last is a trickier question but they can start to clog as the mileage rises and the plastic parts become brittle with age and heat cycles. As your car has now covered nearly 75,000 miles we’d probably reckon on doing it sooner rather than later… it’s not a hugely costly item and it would be a major inconvenience if it failed on a cold wet night when you’re far from home.
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    ADAM’S #BMW-E36 / #BMW / COMPACT / #BMW-3-Series-Compact-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Compact / #BMW-3-Series /

    So, seeing the Compact reappear may be a surprise to some of you, I really can’t believe how fast time flies by, it’s been nearly a year since my last update, I think! Due to having so many commitments I’ve been whizzing around everywhere like a headless chicken but don’t worry, the Compact has seen some use! The car’s paintwork was starting to look tired so the main update is the colour. Choosing a bright turquoise, the car certainly now stands out from the crowd. Hopefully I’ll be arranging some vinyl to go on in the coming months… once my friend’s cutting machine is set up! This should definitely help towards stepping the car up to the next level.

    Another upgrade I had my heart set on for a long time was the exhaust. The original exhaust after doing the engine swap wasn’t the best of jobs; modifying the OE system to try and fit a Compact meant it was forever snapping exhaust rubbers and it generally hung pretty poorly. So I popped down to my local fabricator, Flux Fabrication, and explained that I needed a new system which would fit the car properly and allow me to disconnect the rear section in case I had to drop the rear beam down, and happily it was finished three days before a event I was due to attend! Flux did a great job. With no catalytic converters and one, rather short, silencer it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted, especially as it resonates through the inside of the car pretty badly! As the photos show, the interior is also changing colour, slowly, to a dark grey and the footwells will be covered with aluminium chequer plate due to the uneven floorpan.

    Now, on to more important things, the drifting! Just after completing some work the car went up to Santa Pod for a practice day as I wanted to make sure the car was all up together with no gremlins and I must admit, the car was perfect!

    The change of geometry had given me so much more grip, which enhanced my confidence further, allowing me to push harder and faster than I had previously. I spent the day looping the track in third happily. Unfortunately the day didn’t get off to the best of starts, after a slight mishap with a Toyota on track, but there no major damage and both drivers involved continued to enjoy the day. I have also recently attended another event at Rockingham Raceway, but with no photos appearing yet, you’ll have to wait till next month to hear more!
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