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    WILD 600HP E36 Elite D’s turbo’d 3 Series

    This Elite Developments 600hp E36 is the result of years of development and a love for all things turbocharged… Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Steve Hall.

    Elite Developments’ turbo E36

    THE BOOSTED ELITE

    The E36 328i Sport is a car that’s been appreciating in value of late. However, six years ago they didn’t quite have the same worth and so made the perfect project base for Steve Dixon, owner of BMW-specialised tuning shop Elite Developments. Steve’s plans soon escalated from a simple reworking to a complete overhaul, complete with a 600hp turbocharged heart…

    “I bought the car off eBay completely unseen. It was down in Bognor Regis,” Steve explains. “At the time it was really difficult to get a 328i Sport as there wasn’t many of them for sale. I contacted the guy and made him an offer based on his description of the condition and the pictures on eBay. I then took a four-hour train journey from Essex to go and get it. It was a completely mint, standard car, as described. I was looking for one to convert into a drift car.

    “Initially my plans were just to weld the diff and put some coilovers on it, and that was it. I fitted the coils while my mate welded the diff. It was just going to be a daily drifter but then we went to Gatebil 2012 and saw that nearly every BMW there was running a turbo M5x engine. That got me thinking…

    “After speaking to a few of the locals about how they’d done it, I came to the realisation that building a turbo #BMW wasn’t as hard as I first thought. Then came the process of pricing up all the bits I needed.”

    The 328’s alloy-block M52 isn’t the perfect base for turbocharging as they tend to allow the head to lift and generally aren’t as strong as iron block variants, so Steve sourced an #M50B25-non-Vanos engine and set about making a hybrid of the two. This meant using the M50 block, head and pistons but with the M52’s crank and rods, creating a 2.8-litre M50 – an ‘M50B28’ as they’re often known. The bottom end was tied together with coated big-end bearings and ARP bolts, with #ARP studs and a Cometic 0.140” multi-layer steel head gasket used up top for a drop in compression and an increase in reliability.

    The end result is an engine about as strong as it’s possible to get without going for fullon aftermarket forged rods and pistons – perfect for Steve’s plans for big boost.

    “The hardest part was trying to source a right-hand drive turbo manifold as nobody seemed to sell one,” Steve explains. “This is why we started to design what is now the Elite Developments cast RHD turbo manifold. It took three years to create but we are now very happy with the final product.”

    The Elite Developments manifold was formulated to fit all M5x engines that use a four-bolt-per-cylinder pattern, fitting around all of the steering and usual headache areas and allowing bottom-mount fitment of any T3-flanged turbo along with an external wastegate. Steve’s particular setup uses a Garrett GT3582R turbo and a Tial 38mm wastegate, pushing boost through a 600x300x80mm intercooler and into the M50 intake manifold.

    Air is sucked into the turbo through a K&N filter, while fuelling is taken care of with Siemens 60lb injectors and a Walbro 255lph pump. To keep oil temperatures in check, Steve’s used an S50 oil filter housing converted to run AN lines, which are linked to a Mocal oil cooler. A neat product from Elite Developments allowed the intercooler and oil cooler to be bolted into the E36’s front end without any troubles. To control the whole thing Steve’s used a VEMs standalone ECU with the result being a dyno-proven 495hp and 480lb ft at 0.8bar. Steve has since had it mapped to run at 1.5bar which should be good enough for around 600hp.

    All that power is well and good but without being able to transmit it to the ground, it’s useless. Steve retained the strong five-speed ZF gearbox that came with the 328i, with a six-paddle ceramic clutch sandwiched between it and the boosted M50. Out back is a 328i Sport 2.93 LSD, rebuilt for a 40% lockup and braced into position to guard against failure.

    The final step of getting power to the ground is, of course, the wheel and tyre setup. The E36 isn’t always the easiest car to get a wide tyre onto but Steve solved that with a set of ABS plastic rivet-on arches from US firm Hard Motorsport. These have allowed the comfortable fitment of 8.5x18” front and 10x18” rear Rota Grids wrapped in grippy 235/40 and 265/35 Yokohama Advan AD08s respectively. Not only do they look great but they enable fast progress when the M50 comes up on boost. The arches offer a rub-free fit, too.

    The chassis setup has seen plenty of work to get it all working happily, both when travelling in a straight line and sideways. Before anything was bolted underneath it Steve took care of the usual E36 weak spots using parts raided from the Elite Developments stock room. Subframe mounting and trailing arm pocket reinforcement plates were welded into the shell, with the front crossmember reinforced to stop the engine mounts tearing themselves free.

    To get the steering lock that Steve needed for drifting, TND extended lower arms and modified hubs were fitted, along with BC Racing coilovers and an E46 330i brake setup. At the rear Steve used BC Racing again to convert the suspension from a shock and spring setup to a true coilover one, adding adjustable camber arms to get the setup dialled-in. Finally the whole lot has been polybushed and Steve’s added a BMW front lower crossbrace as well as GCFabrications front and rear strut braces to stiffen the shell.

    Another element that adds stiffness is the Safety Devices roll-cage, nicely painted in contrasting Porsche GT3 RS green – aside from that the interior doesn’t contain a great deal as weight reduction has been the main aim. The rear firewall has been nicely blocked off with an Elite Developments plate and there’s a supportive Recaro bucket for the driver, complete with four-point harness.

    Recent additions to the exterior have included a genuine Rieger carbon-fibre GT splitter and a new Elite Developments product: a huge rear wing. However, sadly, since our shoot Steve has actually broken the car for parts, moving his M50 turbo experience onto a cool new project – a Techno violet E34 525i.

    Steve’s E36 goes to show that we can all get carried away – even the simplest intentions can turn into a far bigger project than originally planned, especially with a little inspiration from overseas. It also shows how experiencing a problem can turn up a great solution – Elite Developments’ turbo manifolds have now been selling for almost a year, helping RHD BMW drivers all over the UK solve the somewhat historic issue of steering clearance when running a turbo. From a hardcore E36 drifter Steve’s now looking to add some turbocharged flair to his old-school Five, and we can’t want to see what happens next.

    “We saw that nearly every BMW there was running a turbo M5x engine. That got me thinking”

    DATA FILE / #BMW-Elite-Developments / #BMW-E36 / #BMW / #BMW-E36-Elite-Developments / #BMW-328i-Sport / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-328i-Sport-E36 / / #BMW-328i-Elite-Developments / #Elite-Developments / #BMW-328i-Elite-Developments-E36 / #Rota-Grid / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36

    ENGINE ‘ #M50B28#non-Vanos , #M50B25 block and head, #M52B28 / #M50 / #BMW-M50 crankshaft and con rods, M50B25 pistons, performance coated main bearings, performance coated big-end bearings, ARP rod bolts, #ARP head studs, #Cometic 0.140” MLS head gasket, Elite Developments RHD turbo manifold, #Garrett-GT3582R turbo, #Tial 38mm wastegate, #K&N filter with #GCFabrications heat shield, ram air feed from foglight, AC #Schnitzer exhaust, #Siemens 60lb injectors, #Walbro 255lph fuel pump, #VEMS-ECU , Mocal oil cooler with AN lines, S50 oil filter housing, #Vorschlag nylon competition engine mounts

    TRANSMISSION E36 328i five-speed #ZF-manual-gearbox , six-paddle ceramic clutch, Elite Developments bolt-through polyurethane gearbox mounts, #IRP shifter, 328i Sport 2.93:1 LSD fully rebuilt with 40% lockup, diff brace

    CHASSIS 18x8.5” (front) and 18x10” (rear) #Rota-Grid-Drifts with 235/40 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Advan Neova AD08 tyres, Elite Developments wheel stud conversion, full #BC-Racing coilover setup with 12kg front and 8kg rear spring rates, TND modified hubs for extra lock, TND extended lower arms, adjustable camber arms, polybushed throughout, Elite Developments front subframe reinforcement kit, Elite Developments rear subframe reinforcement kit, Elite Developments rear trailing arm reinforcement kit, Elite Developments rear topmount reinforcement kit, #BMW-Motorsport front crossbrace, #GC-Fabrications front and rear strut braces, E46 330i front brakes, E36 M3 Evo brake servo and master cylinder

    EXTERIOR Rieger carbon fibre GT splitter, Hard Motorsport rivet-on wide arches, Elite Developments rear spoiler, foglight air intake

    INTERIOR Safety Devices roll-cage painted in Porsche GT3 RS green, Elite Developments rear firewall block-off plate, Recaro driver’s seat, AEM wideband AFR gauge, Defi boost gauge

    CONTACT www.elite-d.co.uk
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    RELUCTANT HERO Stripped-out, hardcore Rocket Bunny E36

    This Rocket Bunny E36 has it all – the looks, the poise, the power, the high-end motorsport parts. Must be the product of a full-on E36 obsessive, right? Er, no, not really… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photots: Sebas Mol.

    “I didn’t really like E36s much until recently,” says Selo Bilgic, in perhaps the most unexpected and unsettling opener we’ve heard in a while. Think about it – how do you go from not liking a certain car to building one of the coolest examples out there? It defies logic. Ah, but then much of Selo’s thought processes seem to follow this serpentine path. “I only got into BMWs in 2014,” he shrugs. “My first car was a Mk3 Golf GTI, and before this car I’ve always driven VWs and Audis.” For the sake of scene-setting, you’ll have to bear with us for a moment as we sidle over to the corner of the office occupied by sister-title Performance VW magazine to see what’s what.

    “Yup,” drawls PVW man David Kennedy, adjusting his snapback with a flourish, “this guy had a Mk4 R32 on Porsche centre-locks, a Mk5 R32 with R8 carbon-ceramics and more Porsche centre-locks, an S4-ified A4 Avant, a Mk3 VR6, and a bagged ’78 Passat.” Well, that’s cleared that up. Selo’s a guy who likes a lot of VAG. So what changed his mind?

    “My parents bought a brand-new E39 back in 2003, and I loved that car,” Selo admits, the mask falling as the Bavarian truth begins to escape from its Wolfsburg shackles. “The lines of it were so simple and clean, I guess that was ultimately my inspiration to start a BMW project one day.” Aha. The pieces of the jigsaw begin to shuffle themselves into place. But an E39 is not an E36. There must have been some other persuading factor?

    “Not really,” he smirks, enigmatically. “Like I say, I never liked the E36, but somehow over the years they started to win me over, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to build a custom one.” We can all be glad that this fractured decisionmaking process, however faltering, was allowed to run its course, as Selo’s experience in modding Dubs has certainly stood him in good stead this time around. It also helps that he works for H&R Suspension, and finds himself surrounded by and working on hot lowered cars all the time; his various Golf projects all ran custom H&R setups, and this E36 follows the pattern. But we’ll get to that later…

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s no great and protracted story about scouring the globe for the perfect 3 Series. “I had the idea, and a couple of weeks later I bought the car,” Selo says, with admirable nonchalance. “My friend Dima wanted to build an E36 stance project, but he lost motivation and sold me the car.”

    Okay, so perhaps we’re framing this all a little unfairly. Selo is not an indifferent sort of guy; in fact, as his history of modifying clearly demonstrates, he goes all-in with everything he does. The results here speak for themselves – this isn’t a case of simply bolting on some off-the-shelf parts and rolling up to a few low-rent show ’n’shines; no, this is a detailed and fastidious effort that’s resulted in a sort of caricature of a 1990s Touring Car. It’s magnificent to behold.

    “The plan came about by chance in early 2015 while I was sharing a hookah with my friend Göksu,” he explains. “It was a picture of a Rocket Bunny E36 that got me thinking; owned by Brian Henderson from Rotiform, I’d first seen that car at Wörthersee in 2013 and I decided that I wanted to build a race car with that body kit.”

    So that’s exactly what happened. With the donor acquired from Dima, Selo set about tearing the thing down to first principles like some kind of furious Tasmanian Devil, bits of trim flying all over the workshop as he single-mindedly reduced the E36 to a bare shell. And from that point, it was time to perfect the base – after all, there’s no point starting a race car project with a frilly shell.

    Every iota of imperfect metal was hunted down and either straightened or strengthened – or, if need be, cut out entirely and replaced. So with a freshly renewed starting point, it could all be sprayed in a shimmering, dazzling coat of purest white. The Rocket Bunny kit for the E36 comprises a number of pieces, with the most obvious being the vastly protruding arches. The fact that Selo’s slathered his car in racer livery actually reduces their imposing impact at first glance, as you expect a Touring Car to have bullish width, but it’s in viewing the car in profile that you realise just how much surface area these arch extensions cover.

    They’re not the only part of the body kit, of course; bridging them fore and aft are a pair of broad side skirts, while there’s also a front splitter and ducktail spoiler. The latter, however, isn’t present here, as you’ve probably noticed. “I decided to go with an M3 GT wing instead,” Selo reasons. “I just love the elevated look of the Class 2 spoiler.” Fair enough. You’ll notice as well that the bumpers have been replaced with M3 items, as their aggression sits more neatly with the comically fat Rocket Bunny addenda.

    This theme, understandably for a trackoriented project, blows through to the interior with gusto. “A Rocket Bunny E36 can’t be comfortable,” he says, matter-of-factly. “It must have the spirit of a race car, which is why it’s got the Cobra race seats, plumbed-in extinguisher and the full Pleie Sport roll-cage.” And ‘the spirit of a race car’ very much informed the choice of wheels too: “At first I wanted to fit a set of BBS E88 Motorsport wheels – in fact, I have a set of staggered 18s,” says Selo. “But I just love the OZ Challenge HLTs, they’re so light and the car really looks like a badass racer with the these.” What he’s modestly neglecting to mention here is that the rims in question were actually sourced from a Porsche GT2 race car, which is a pretty cool boast.

    “Under the body kit, everything is adapted for the big wheels,” he grins. Yeah, we’re not surprised. Just look at the rears, they’ve got 295-section tyres! And we love the massive BMW M Performance six-pots peeping out from behind the fronts. Very cheeky.


    A car with such racy focus must have a fairly fiery motor under the bonnet, then? “Yeah, kinda,” he smiles. “It’s a 2.5-litre with the M50 intake upgrade, which has been remapped, plus I’ve lightened the flywheel. But I’ve got big plans for this very soon, as that motor was only for shakedown in the 2016 season. For 2017, the car’s going to have a turbocharged M50 with around 800hp.” Crikey. This guy really doesn’t mess about, does he?

    One area that we have to talk about, for obvious reasons, is the suspension. You don’t work at H&R without picking up a few tricks for your own projects, after all. “The car’s running custom H&R race suspension,” he says, entirely out of pride and clearly not just toeing the company line. “It’s got adjustable aluminium shocks at the front with 50mm-diameter springs; same at the rear but with coilover shocks.” And the infinite adjustability is exactly what you need in a race car project. “My daily driver is an F30 BMW with H&R Deep suspension, which is amazing for how I use that car, but this track setup up really takes it up a level. This is my fun car.”

    You can see what’s happened here, can’t you? Selo’s been indoctrinated. This isn’t just an E36 to get out of his system before he dives back into VWs; he’s having so much fun with it that he’s paired it with an F30, just to ensure a creamy 3 Series hit every single day. And after eight months of serious effort on the Rocket Bunny racer, the results are shouting for themselves. “Its first show was the Essen Motor Show,” he casually throws out there, like it’s the most normal thing in the world. “I hope they liked it…”

    We can assume that they probably did. And the rumblings from this corner of Westfalia, and the promise of a new livery for 2017 – along with that colossal power hike and, yes, perhaps those BBS E88s – suggest that this car will be winning over new fans for some time to come. It’s not bad for someone who didn’t really like E36s, is it?

    DATA FILE Rocket-Bunny / #BMW-E36 / #BMW / #BMW-E36-Rocket-Bunny / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M52B25 / #BMW-M52 / #M52 / , M50 intake, remapped, lightened flywheel, five-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 11x18” (front) and 12x18” (rear) #OZ / #OZ-Challenge-HLT wheels from Porsche 911 GT2 with 265/35 (f) and 295/30 (r) tyres, #BMW-M-Performance six-pot calipers (front), E36 M3 brakes (rear), #H&R custom race suspension with 50mm-diameter springs with adjustable aluminium shocks (front), adjustable coilovers with 50mm-diameter springs (rear)

    EXTERIOR Restored shell, bare-shell respray, Rocket Bunny kit, M3 bumpers, M3 GT rear spoiler
    INTERIOR Stripped, Pleie Sport roll-cage, plumbed-in extinguisher system, Cobra Imola race seats, OMP deep-dish steering wheel, carbon fibre doorcards
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    The hottest E36 – the brilliant M3 R White Gold.

    One of the rarest of all E36 M3s, and some might say the best, came from Australia: the brilliant M3 R. The very best E36 M3 didn’t come from Europe, or America… it came from a land Down Under. Words and photography: Chris Nicholls.

    Mention special E36 M3 derivatives and most people’s minds will inevitably go to the M3 GT or Lightweight. After all, these sold in relatively large numbers and, thanks to being designed for BMW’s two largest markets (Europe and the US respectively), got the most media exposure. However, the rarest, most powerful E36 M3 ever made (GTR aside) didn’t come from either of those continents. It came from the relatively tiny market of Australia, where, in #1995 , a highly talented group of people from both within and outside the company came together to build 15 very special M3s. These came to be known as the M3 Rs.

    Now, some of our regular readers may already know about the M3 R, especially as we featured another one back in (March 2006), but given the time gap, we thought it was best to look at it again because it is without a doubt one of the best factory M3s ever made.


    The M3 R story first dates back to mid-1993, when BMW Australia investigated the possibility of building a near race-spec M3 for the road, the idea being that they could be sold to enthusiasts who tracked their cars on the weekend or even competed in state and national events. The payoff for BMW Australia being a homologation special that it could develop for Australian GT Production car racing.

    Having been given the green light, the local BMW team worked closely with the legendary Paul Rosche, then M GmbH’s head of motorsport, and team members from the famous Australian Frank Gardner’s outfit, who ran the Australian M Team at the time, to help design, develop and spec the cars. It’s worth noting before we go any further that one of the Gardner staffers was Ralph Bellamy, whom older readers and F1 nuts may remember as chief engineer at Brabham, McLaren, Lotus (where he, along with Colin Chapman, Peter Wright and Martin Ogilvie invented ground effects), Lola and Fittipaldi, before moving onto BMW M to work on the international Super Tourer programme. So, as you can see, when we said a highly-talented group of people helped make this car, we weren’t lying.

    As for the car BMW Australia ended up producing, it really was a road-going racer. The air conditioning and stereo were removed (although, as usual, owners could refit them) and sound deadening, central locking, foglights, rear seats and the on-board tool kit all went, too. Even with the standard twin fire extinguishers (although obviously not the optional bolt-in roll-cage) the end result was a car that weighed nearly 200kg less in its most hardcore form than a stock M3.

    Of course, the modifications didn’t end there. The engine gained more aggressive camshafts, shorter intake trumpets and a different cold air intake that drew from where the driver’s side fog light used to be, as well as a Motorsport-designed sump and dual oil pick-ups to avoid the common S50 30B starvation issue. On top of that came a lighter flywheel (matched to either an AP Racing 7.25-inch sintered twin-plate racing clutch or a cerametallic twin-plate for road use) and new management software to yield an overall output of 325hp – more than any non-GTR E36 M ever sold elsewhere. It goes even harder than the weight and power would suggest, too, thanks to a shorter-than-standard 3.25:1 final drive ratio.

    Unsurprisingly, the brakes also copped significant upgrades in the form of AP Racing four-piston callipers, two-piece vented rotors, Pagid RS 4-4 pads and front cooling ducts that ran from holes next to the now-deleted foglights. As for the suspension, almost every part was replaced with Group N Motorsport parts, right down to the hubs, which run different length studs (not bolts) front and rear to hold the unique 17-inch staggered BBS wheels. To ensure the looks matched the potential, the team also fitted the M3 GT body kit in its entirety, plus the Super Touring dual-level rear wing and a sliding front splitter. The whole lot was assembled at the BMW Australia Performance Driving Centre under the close supervision of M engineers and Ralph Bellamy himself. Three completed cars went to the local M Team for competition use and the remaining 12 were made available to the general public.

    However, in keeping with the whole ‘race car for the road’ thing, only members of the general public armed with a CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motorsport) racing licence could buy one, unless they were willing to undertake the relevant training and tests before delivery.

    As you can see, the M3 R is thus a rare and incredibly desirable special edition. One designed to maximise driving pleasure both on road and track, and in the sole colour available (Alpine white III), quite the stunner.

    The owner of this particular example (number 14 of 15) is very well aware of just how special it is, too. Ian Burke has been a BMW enthusiast for many years, starting with an E46 323i in 2000, before moving up to an E46 330i three years later. These two impressed him enough that he bought an E92 335i sight unseen before they arrived in the country when the lease on his 330i expired, after which he upgraded to an E92 M3, which he still owns. Burke also has an original M Roadster, has done a factory tour and visited BMW Welt and would have bought an F80 M3, too, until a test-drive convinced him it was “a bit too boy racer-ish” for him. Thus, when he says it provides a special driving experience, you know he’s not wrong: “It’s a treat to drive. I would say on the open road it’s got better shock absorption and handling than my E92 M3. When you go over a bump the shocks absorb everything – they’re quite amazing. It handles extremely well, too. I’ve had it around Sandown Raceway a couple of times, and the performance is not like a modern-day car, although it’s still pretty quick, but the point is that it’s good around there because the braking is so superior to a modern saloon car. You can get the brakes red hot and really stamp on them into a corner and the whole suspension is race-tuned.”


    How Burke came to own this car is a lovely piece of father-son serendipity as well. Burke isn’t really a tech guy – he has no social media accounts at all – but his son, Andrew, like most people his age, is on the web a lot. And unsurprisingly spends a large portion of that time looking at cars. Thus, a while after purchasing his M Roadster, Burke got an email from his son telling him about this example, which at the time resided in Sydney, complete with a link to the advert. “I looked at it and thought it looks pretty cool and that it could be a reasonable investment and a nice car to get around in so I went up to Sydney to see it,” he says.

    The shop selling it was called Classic Throttle Shop, a renowned establishment which houses a huge number of special cars at any one time. Upon visiting, Burke senior was impressed enough by the car that he bought it on the spot and had it shipped back down to his home in Melbourne.

    Not that the car was perfect, of course. The steering wheel leather had a small cut in it, which necessitated refurbishing, and many of the rubber seals were in such bad condition that they had to be replaced. This perishing and the fact the car had only done 17,000km at the time of purchase suggested that the car had previously spent a lot of time in a garage but as it ran fine and all the other components seemed alright Burke wasn’t bothered.

    Once freshened-up, Burke made a couple of small changes to suit his personal taste and needs. First was swapping out the intake system for a lovely Gruppe M carbon number, purchased simply because he liked the noise. Second was the clutch. Apparently the original race-spec version was “virtually undriveable in the city”, so he changed it to a UUC model with a solid lightweight flywheel and an E34 M5 sprung disk.

    Now, keen-eyed M3 nuts might also spot the car came with some non-standard modifications that Burke didn’t make, namely the Remus exhaust and an unknown brand thick alloy strut bar, as well as the original radio/cassette player and air-con, but all of these are minor changes and should he ever desire, Burke can always swap everything back to stock-spec pretty easily, especially as every component on the car has an official BMW part number.

    Rather amusingly, there is one extra part Burke does own that he’d love the put on the car more regularly, but certain family members won’t allow it: a custom numberplate. “I’ve actually got a Victorian licence plate ‘E36 M3R’ but I’m not allowed to put it on because I’d look too much of a tosser,” he says. That said, Burke readily admits that “you’ve got to fly under the radar when you own a car like this”, so he isn’t too fussed – especially as he is allowed to bolt the private ’plate on when he attends the odd #BMW Car Club of Victoria meet.

    “The BMW people know what it is without the ’plates,” Burke grins, “and, of course, when you lift the bonnet up, their eyes pop out of their head when they see the originality of the engine. It’s even got all the original stickers.”

    Remarkably, given his penchant for regular spirited drives, Burke has only put about 4000km on it in the three year’s he’s owned it, but then he also has his M Roadster and E92 M3 on offer as toys, and his daily driver is a VF Holden ute (“it’s so damn convenient to throw all your rubbish in the back”), so perhaps the low number of kilometres travelled are less surprising in that regard.

    As for the future, Burke says he plans to “just sit on it”, especially as S50 engines are so hard to come by these days, and eventually he’ll pass it onto his son. No doubt Burke junior will enjoy driving it as much as his old man.

    “It’s a treat to drive. I would say on the open road it’s got better shock absorption and handling than my E92 M3”

    TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3-R / #BMW-M3-R-E36 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-S50 / #S50 / #S50B30 / #BMW-M3 / #Getrag / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E36

    ENGINE: 2990cc, DOHC S50 30B straight-six, cast iron block, 24-valve alloy head, 10.8:1 compression ratio, 264-degree inlet cam, 265-degree exhaust cam, oil restrictor in head, Motorsport sump, twin oil pick-ups, Motorsport air filter and intake pipe, Motorsport lightened flywheel (currently UUC solid lightened), Remus exhaust, updated engine management software

    MAX POWER: 325hp @ 7200rpm

    MAX TORQUE: 258lb ft @ 4400rpm

    DRIVELINE: #Getrag-420G six-speed manual, #AP-Racing CP2961 7.25-inch twin-plate sintered (road/race) or #AP-Racing-CP4112 cerametallic twin-plate (road). Currently fitted with #UUC Stage 2 Ultimate clutch with E34 M5 sprung disk. Standard clutch master cylinder with travellimiting stop, E34 M5 driveshaft, 3.25:1 final drive ratio

    SUSPENSION: Motorsport Group N Bilstein dampers, Motorsport Group N springs, Motorsport Group N upper and lower spring plates, Motorsport Group N struts (f), Motorsport Group N upper and lower wishbones (r), Motorsport Group N adjusting sleeves, Motorsport Group N damping sleeves, Motorsport Group N hubs with studs (f&r), aftermarket strut bar (f)

    BRAKES: AP Racing four-piston front callipers with twopiece vented rotors (f&r), Pagid RS 4-4 pads (RS12 optional), front brake cooling ducts

    WHEELS AND TYRES: 7.5x17-inch ET37 (f) and 8.5x17- inch ET41 (r) #BBS mesh wheels with 225/45 (f) and 245/40 (r) Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 tyres

    INTERIOR: Anthracite M cloth/Amaretta suede trim, aircon delete, radio/cassette delete (both since re-installed), rear seat delete, central locking delete, sound deadening removed, twin fire extinguishers (driver’s side removed for convenience), spare wheel delete, jack and wheel brace delete, toolkit delete, boot floor mats and trim delete, limited edition plaque under handbrake

    EXTERIOR: M3 GT body kit, Motorsport sliding front splitter, Motorsport Super Touring dual-level rear wing, foglight delete (driver’s side replaced with air intake vent)

    “Their eyes pop out of their head when they see the originality of the engine. It’s even got all the original stickers”
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    CUSTOM E36 Wide-body and #S50-swap

    With its custom, handmade, wide-arch bodywork, the eye-popping Unique Customs E36 certainly lives up to its name. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andy Tipping.

    BODY WORK Custom wide-body S50-swapped E36

    Not all enthusiasts are hands-on enough to get down and dirty when it comes to modifying their BMs. But there are some who really build their projects, assembling the whole thing in a driveway or garage and being personally involved with the entire project. However, for some people that’s still not enough; people like Chris Pattrick, for example, owner of Unique Customs (www.unique-customs.co.uk). When it came to building his E36 M3 project car, he went the extra mile of actually making his own body panels!

    We first spotted Chris’ E36 at the Santa Pod BMW show back in 2015 and it really stood out from the crowd, mainly thanks to that, appropriately enough, unique widebody kit which was not only a pretty outlandish thing to behold but also exceptionally well-built and finished. That was before we even spotted the wheels, the interior or realised that there was an S50 under the bonnet, making it as much about performance as it is styling. It’s a comprehensive package for sure and one which has the added appeal of being a unique build, which is not something many people can say about their car.

    Chris has spent plenty of his 25 years playing with various cars, including a Saxo and a Peugeot 106, along with a spate of VWs. That was going great until a Caddy project which had got right up to the paintwork stage before Chris realised it must have had a significant front-end shunt at some point in its life as none of the panels would line up. “I stormed out of the bodyshop,” he says, “and, having recently bought an E90 320d as a daily and liking how it drove compared with VWs, I decided to get myself an E36 as a toy and new project.

    The car started out life as a 323i and I found it online; it was in good condition with no rust and nice wheels and just needed paint really. It was exactly what I was after and perfect for what I had in mind.”

    Most of what Chris had in mind was in regards to bodywork, which is what took up most of the work that went into the project as a whole. “We started working on the body one panel at a time. I just had a vision of what I wanted it to look like. We handcrafted everything from start to finish which took us around ten months in total. The main problem I had when it came to doing the body was deciding what would actually suit it. It’s all well and good spotting parts on another car and deciding whether or not you like them, but when you’re actually starting from scratch and making body panels by hand, you’re putting a lot of time into them and so you’re constantly thinking ‘is it enough?’ or ‘is too over the top?’ and trying to reach a happy medium.”


    If you prefer your BMWs leaning towards the more subtle, standard end of the styling spectrum then Chris’ creation probably won’t be for you but in terms of making an impact and showing off what Unique Customs is all about, it definitely hits the spot. The most attention-grabbing elements are without doubt the wings, the front ones being a two-piece design with those aggressive vents, and all four are significantly wider than stock – 30mm a side up front and 50mm each at the rear, which equates to an extra 10cm, four-inches of total width at the back.

    The front bumper has been fitted with a deep chin splitter and there’s a vented bonnet up front along with a set of modified headlights sporting a Unique Customs shroud kit, which looks great. Side skirts and flair blades beef up the car’s flanks and the rear has undergone extensive restyling, with Unique Customs rear bumper extensions, rear diffuser with fins and a pronounced ducktail spoiler. Additional exterior finishing touches include gunmetal grey trims and a matt grey roof wrap, both of which make a nice change from black.

    Obviously with that sort of visual heavy artillery on board Chris needed to make sure his E36 sat right and had the right wheels to fill out those massive arches: “I went for HSD coilovers, which offer up a nice but firm drive and with the polybushes the car drives really well. I also added E46 bottom arms as I love the way they kick the wheels out but keep them really flat on full lock.”

    Speaking of wheels, there was only one choice here as far as Chris was concerned: “I’ve always loved the Z3 M Style 40 alloys, but only the rears, so I knew I had to get a set of four rears for this car. It took some doing as the wheels are getting rare, so I had to buy two sets to achieve the look I wanted.” It was definitely worth the effort, though, as they look awesome and, most importantly, do a fantastic job of filling out those fat arches.

    When it came to the interior, stock certainly wouldn’t do and it needed to tie in with the exterior styling. “I decided that the stripped-out look would be perfect,” says Chris. “The roll-cage was a pain, though, as it needed painting and fitting in the car before the car itself could be painted as we did not want the car getting damaged while fitting the cage. John at Unique Customs painted it and it came out amazing.”

    The cage in question is a six-point OMP item finished in white with extra door bars and an extra rear bar, while the pair of Cobra Monaco leather seats, which are fitted with TRS harnesses and sit on Sparco subframes, are the only ones you’ll find in the car as the rears have long since been disposed of, along with the rear alloy bulkhead. Other interior modifications include an alloy passenger footrest and Total Dynamic Motorsport doorcards.

    So that’s all the style taken care of, but what about the substance? Now that’s where that 3.0-litre S50 swap comes in because as good as the 323i’s M50 is, it’s not as good as the M3’s spectacular ’six. “I bought an M3 engine and running gear and switched everything over into the E36. While I was doing it I also gave the engine some new parts, seals and removed the secondary air pump. There were also a lot of split air pipes around the engine so we changed those as well as having the Vanos rebuilt and changing all the sensors around engine.”


    Suitably refreshed, the engine was dropped in along with an aluminium rad, a set of Samco hoses, a K&N air filter and a stainless steel exhaust, finished off with a pair of suitably large upturned tips. The fivespeed gearbox, meanwhile, has been fitted with an uprated clutch and braided clutch hose and lightened 4kg flywheel. With the E36 finished, Chris is planning to move on to either a 1 Series or an E30 and, judging by this E36, we can’t help but wonder what the next build is going to look like. Purists and those of a nervous disposition won’t be fans of this E36, but in terms of making a statement and getting noticed it’s the perfect machine and, most importantly of all, Chris has built the car he wanted and it is something truly unique.

    “I bought an M3 engine and running gear and switched everything over into the E36”

    DATA FILE Unique Customs E36 / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-S54 / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #S50B30 / #BMW-S30 / #ZF / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW / #BMW-M-Style-40 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six S50B30 , #K&N air filter, stainless steel exhaust system, #Samco hoses, alloy radiator, #ZF-Type-C five-speed manual gearbox, lightened 4kg uprated flywheel, uprated clutch, braided clutch line

    CHASSIS 9x17” (f&r) BMW Z3 M Style 40 wheels with 215/40 (f&r) Nankang Ultrasport NS2 tyres, HSD coilovers, E46 bottom arms, front and rear strut braces, fully polybushed, EBC RedStuff pads (f&r), drilled and grooved discs (f&r), braided brake hoses (f&r)

    EXTERIOR Unique Customs vented bonnet, vented two-piece front wing kit 30mm wider per side, front deep chin splitter Evo lip, side skirts and flair blades, rear overfenders 50mm wider per side, rear bumper extensions, rear diffuser with fins, rear ducktail spoiler, modified headlights with Unique Customs shroud kit, LED light upgrade and xenons, gunmetal grey tims, matt grey roof wrap

    INTERIOR Six-point OMP roll-cage with extra door bars and extra rear bar, Cobra Monaco leather seats on Sparco subframes, TRS harnesses, alloy passenger footrest, alloy rear bulkhead delete, Total Dynamic Motorsport plastic doorcards

    THANKS John at Unique Customs for all the paint work and Joe Graver for all the mechanical work

    Custom exhaust is finished off with a pair of suitably-sized tips; rear bulkhead has been removed and an extra brace has been fitted.

    Interior is now home to a pair of Cobra seats and an OMP cage.
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    NUMBER CRUNCHING 1040whp turbo E36 M3

    We see a lot of modified cars here at PBMW but a 1000hp E36 M3 is something that never fails to impress… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andreas Wibstad.

    They say that you shouldn’t chase numbers when building a car. You should build a car that will drive well and suit your needs rather than delivering big peak power but becoming undriveable in the process. Of course, if you happen to be building a car where big power is your need, then why not aim high and punch through the 1000hp barrier? It’s the sensible thing to do.

    If we told you that Ole Ivar Seem, the owner of this E36, comes from Norway you probably wouldn’t be surprised because it would seem that Scandinavians have a predisposition for building stupidly powerful cars. And, unlike those of us having to find time during evenings and weekends to work on our cars due to our 9-5s taking up the vast majority of our time, Ole works on offshore oil platforms, which means he works hard but then has plenty of time to play hard when he’s back on dry land. And play hard he does.

    Funnily enough Ole says that while he’d always liked BMWs he didn’t become properly interested in them until about 2003, when Vidar Strand from V.S Motor hit 1000hp with his E34 M5. That got his attention and got him thinking about the possibilities of what could be achieved with a BMW. And judging by one of his previous projects – a 426hp Sierra Cosworth, which was featured in our ex-sister title Performance Ford back in 2003 – it was clear that unless big power could be achieved Ole wasn’t interested. Of course, his first #BMW project was never going to make anywhere near that power output, being as it was an ’1986 E30 320i, but then again Ole only bought it for a bit of winter fun and threw a few mods at it. However, it started the sequence of events that mean we’re now standing here today with his 1000hp E36 M3.

    With the Cosworth sold and a lump sum burning a hole in his pocket, Ole cast his car-catching net to see what he could snag. That’s when he came across this M3. “I found the car on a BMW forum here in Norway,” he explains. “It was a virtually completed street build with lots of good parts but that looked completely stock on the outside. Initially the plan was really to run with the parts that were on it but a thought crossed my mind about building a car for Gatebil Extreme [Gatebil’s own time attack and racing series]. After driving the car for a bit back in summer 2008, I got problems with water in the oil, leaking between the pyramid rings and water channels. So the real story of the car and engine you see today started when I picked up the phone to Vidar at V.S Motor.

    “The motor building began with solving the problem of water in the oil. Vidar had a separate patent which, in principle, removes the head gasket and uses rings in a special metal. Vidar also fitted new custom cams from V.S Motor, new custom V.S Motor pistons, uprated Pauter con rods built to V.S Motor’s specifications, stainless steel valves, tighter valve springs and he did a general update of the whole engine. He then put it on the dyno bench at V.S to get it mapped properly. With it running perfectly we went for a power run and it made 772hp and 723lb ft of torque at 1.3bar, but tremendous back pressure on the exhaust side prevented any more power. The problem was an exhaust manifold that was not quite optimal and a Turbonetics turbo that was completely the wrong setup. I drove the rest of the summer and next spring running this setup but I was bothered by the fact that it did not deliver optimally when I knew I could get much more from the engine.

    “After a few more conversations with Vidar we agreed that he should build a new manifold and a new turbo, then test it. The engine was ready in April 2011. This tested Vidar’s patience to the limit as it’s really cramped around the engine for building a manifold. You really need a lot of space. I think someone would have to pay him a lot of money to do this again!” laughs Ole. “On test day the engine really stood up to our demands, and on E85 fuel it delivered 1039hp and 817lb ft of torque at 2.1bar. You can say we were delighted with it.” And who wouldn’t be with over 1000hp on tap? But Ole and Vidar weren’t finished with the engine just yet. “In summer of last year we found out that we were going to start with new fuel as E85 was phased out from petrol stations in Norway, so we chose to use the Ignite E98 race ethanol fuel that Vidar sells.

    We counted on a power increase so in July 2015, before going to the E30 meet in Rudskogen. I went with Vidar to Jonus Racing to run the car on the dyno. After roughly four to five hours of fine-tuning, the numbers that it put down really made our eyes pop! We got 1040whp and 855lb ft wheel torque which, when converted to power at the crank, becomes 1196hp and 959lb ft at 2.2bar. It goes without saying that were extremely pleased with this outcome,” smiles Ole.

    We would be too. That’s an absolutely monstrous amount of power, especially considering he’s still running the 3.0-litre S50. That works out at 399hp per litre; that’s like the E39 M5, with its 4.9-litre V8, making all of its power from a 1.0-litre engine, which is a bit mental when you break it down like that. As far as engine spec is concerned, we simply haven’t got the space to go through all of it here, just take a look at the spec list and you’ll see it’s exactly as long as you would expect it to be on a powerful engine like this. Highlights include the Precision billet 7675 turbo – such a key part of this incredible build, adjustable cam pulleys, a Tial 60mm wastegate, 4.5” downpipe, 3.5” Edgeperformance exhaust, ARP bolts, a 26-row oil cooler, custom header tank, Griffin radiator, custom 6” thick intercooler, 580lph Aeromotive lift pump, twin A1000 fuel pumps, and a set of six absolutely ridiculous 1699cc flow matched fuel injectors. All of which is really just scratching the surface. It’s as heavy-duty a build as you can imagine.

    You can’t just make a 1000hp engine, stuff it into an E36 M3 and hope for the best because things would go south in a big way almost immediately. You need to put in just as much work on the transmission and chassis fronts to make sure everything works in perfect harmony. There’s no messing about when it comes to the gearbox on this car, with Ole fitting a Sellholm MPG sequential ’box made specifically for this car and combined with a Tilton 7.25” threeplate, 26 spline rally clutch and Alcon hydraulic release bearing. A 3” chromoly propshaft rated to 1500hp delivers all that turbocharged power to a modified 210 diff from a 3.2 M3 sitting on reinforced mounts, and a pair of 38mm driveshafts.

    As for the suspension, well, we’ll let Ole explain: “Everything under the car is solid mounted or uses aluminium uni ball components. I run custom road coilovers from Sellholm Tuning made specifically for the weight of the car and supporting chassis mods. These include: Sellholm Tuning front and rear fully adjustable blade anti-roll bars; custom front suspension turrets and custom adjustable top mounts; Turner Motorsport aluminium bushes and rear lower control arms; and PeeBee Motorsport adjustable rear upper control arms.

    “When it came to choosing the parts, Vidar knew exactly what was required, having been involved in so many builds, not to mention his racing experience. I trust him 100% and he is the man to talk to when one is stuck with ideas or problems, although these phone calls can be expensive. That’s how I ended up with the sequential gearbox!” With over 1000hp on tap, you need some seriously big brakes to haul the E36 down from the sort of speed it can achieve, and Ole hasn’t cut any corners here. Up front, eight piston K-Sport calipers have been fitted, clamping 355mm discs, while at the rear sit six-pot calipers with 330mm discs and EBC’s BlueStuff track day pads have been fitted all-round. Wheel choice was guided by necessity rather than aesthetics, as you’d expect on a build like this. “The choice of rims came after lots of searching on forums and chatting with acquaintances in the racing world. To make most of the rubber on the ground, without extending the arches or anything like that, the wheels had to be lightweight, withstand a lot punishment and with widths matching the chassis. I chose the Apex EC-7 as there were really no other wheels that matched the car. They fitted well with the look that I had in mind for the car.”

    The tough, lightweight wheels measure 9x18” up front and 9.5x18” at the rear and are mounted on the car via a set of NMS Racing 75mm studs.

    Just by glancing at the outside of this E36 you’d really be hard pressed to tell what’s going on beneath the surface as Ole has kept everything looking extremely stock. “My goal has always been to retain the original lines that I like so much,” he says. “Generally original but sassy, a look with a little more muscle. There’s a fully removable carbon bonnet, a carbon sunroof blank and the only change to the body itself is that the rear wheel arches have been rolled.”

    Of course, the interior is another matter entirely and there was only ever going to be one direction to take it in. “The choice was easy,” says Ole. “It should be for racing! It had to be as light as possible and, ideally, with parts that no one else in Norway or Europe had tried before. Plenty of time went into building the roll-cage, which was done by a colleague and myself with Vidar providing all the technical information. It is made from about 80 metres of chromoly 4130 tubes and has been built down towards the chassis to really get it rigid, to the suspension turrets, to the diff and many other reinforcements against the chassis, which you can’t see in the pictures. In reality it is a tubular frame inside the car.”

    Beyond that there’s a QSP steering wheel mounted on a Sparco Group N quick-release steering boss, Cobra Suzuka seats with six-point harnesses and a Racepak UDX data logger dash with auxiliary Autometer gauges. To keep things as light as possible, the car has been fitted with ACM carbon fibre doorcards and even a carbon firewall, carbon dash and carbon centre console while the boot is home to fuel system, with a 60-litre Aeromotive aluminium fuel cell and aluminium swirl pot.

    After a hell of a lot of planning and almost seven years of work, it’s unsurprising that the end result was so damn spectacular.

    What is surprising, though, is that Ole sold the car not long ago but, he says, it’s gone to a man who really knows what he’s doing so it’s in good hands and will be used as intended by its new owner.

    So, what’s next for Ole? Time to give up the modifying game and relax with pipe and slippers watching gardening programmes? In a word, no. “I already have plans going around in my brain but one thing is for sure, it gets wilder!” he exclaims. “This car will probably take a few years to finish. And I have a problem: I’m never satisfied until I have spent a lot of time on everything from planning to execution, so those who wait will see. The rest is a huge secret,” he adds with a grin. We’re instantly as excited as he is. Judging by his track record, it’s going to be something special.

    Interior is slathered in sexy carbon panels.

    Apex EC-7 wheels were chosen as they’re light and tough; massive eight-pot K-Sport calipers sit up front with six-pots at the rear.

    That’s what you need for 1000hp. S50B30 has been fully built and features massive Precision 7675 turbo.

    “My goal has always been to retain the original lines I like so much”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE Turbo #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #S50B30 / #S50 / #BMW-S50 / #V.S-Motor / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series / #Precision / #Precision-7675-turbo / #Autronic / #Sellholm / #Aeromotive / #BMW-M3-V.S-Motor / #BMW-M3-V.S-Motor-E36 / #Pauter-Motorsport /

    ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30, #Autronic-SM4 , MSD coil packs, #Autronic boost solenoid, V.S Motor custom exhaust manifold, #Precision-billet-7675-turbo , Edgeperformance Vanos block-off kit, adjustable cam pulleys, Tial 60mm wastegate, V.S Motor 4.5” downpipe, Edgeperformance 3.5” stainless steel exhaust, #Tial 50mm BOV, #ARP bolts throughout, Pauter Motorsport H-rods, V.S Motor spec valve springs, V.S Motor spec custom cams, JE custom pistons built to V.S Motor spec, original intake manifold modified for forced induction, Samco intake hose, head and block modified to remove head gasket, special head gasket replacement rings designed by V.S Motor, Turner Motorsport oil cooler hoses, Earl’s 26-row oil cooler, #GS-Performance oil distribution block, #Griffin aluminium radiator, AN-20 fittings, custom header tank, custom three-litre oil catch tank with AN-16 fittings, 2x12” Flex-a-Lite fans, V.S Motor design Precision bespoke 6” thick intercooler, Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, 19-row Ethanol cooler with 10” fan, Edgeperformance fuel rail, 6x flow matched 1699cc E85 injectors, VEMS wide band lambda sensor and EGT

    POWER AND TORQUE 1040whp and 855lb ft wheel torque at 2.2bar

    TRANSMISSION #Sellholm-MPG sequential gearbox, #Tilton 7.25” three-plate 26-spline rally clutch, #Alcon hydraulic release bearing, 1500hp 3” chromoly custom propshaft, M3 3.2 210 diff modified by V.S Motor, 38mm drive shafts, reinforced diff mounts and suspension attached to roll-cage, Omega gearbox/diff oil

    CHASSIS 9x18” (front) and 9.5x18” (rear) #Apex-EC-7 wheels with 255/35 (front) and 265/35 (rear) #Nankang Sportnex NS-2R tyres mounted on 75mm #NMS-Racing studs, custom Sellholm asphalt coilovers, #Sellholm adjustable suspension turrets, custom top mounts, Sellholm fully adjustable blade anti-roll bars (front and rear), Turner Motorsport aluminium trailing arm bushes, aluminium front control arm bushes, #PeeBee-Motorsport adjustable upper rear control arms, #Turner-Motorsport adjustable lower rear control arms, aluminium diff bushes, K-Sport eight-piston calipers with 355x32mm discs (front), #K-Sport six-piston calipers with 330x32mm discs (rear), #EBC BlueStuff pads (front and rear)

    EXTERIOR Removable ACM carbon race bonnet, carbon sunroof blank, rear arches rolled

    INTERIOR Full chromoly 4130 roll-cage connected to suspension turrets, diff and throughout the chassis, QSP steering wheel with #Sparco Group N quick-release steering wheel boss, OBP pedalbox, Sellholm hydraulic handbrake, Cobra Suzuka seats with six-point 3” harnesses, Racepak UDX dash data logger, Autometer Sport-Comp gauges for oil pressure, oil temperature, boost pressure, fuel level and water temperature, OMP 4.24-litre central fire extinguisher, ACM carbon doorcards, carbon fibre firewall, complete carbon dash and carbon DTM centre console, Fibervac carbon panels, 580lph Aeromotive SS series lift pump, 2x Aeromotive A1000 fuel pumps, Aeromotive fuel filter/holder, Aeromotive 60-litre aluminium fuel cell, aluminium swirl pot, Earl’s fittings and hoses

    THANKS An extremely big thanks to Vidar Strand at V.S Motor, without him this car would not have been possible, he has always been cheerful and helpful no matter what time I’ve called. Thanks also to Robin, Kay Ove, Stig P, Kurt Magnar, Kjell Inge, Jørgen, Terje, and Thomas at Edgeperformance
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    PAUL’S #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-328i-Coupe / #BMW-328i-Coupe-E36 / #BMW-328Ci / #BMW-328Ci-E36 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36 / #BMW

    Let’s get something out there before we start – when it comes to modding cars, there are certain modifications that I pretty much apply to everything I own – even if it’s just a daily driver! Everything gets a slam of some sort, wheels and tyres always get swapped, factory exhausts are a no-no, and everything gets tinted! Why? Well, put simply, if done tastefully, in my humble opinion it really improves the lines of the car, adding an extra degree of definition and contrast between the bodywork and glass, as well as keeping the cabin a little cooler and adding a little extra security for ICE and valuables. On a silver or light-coloured car like the E36, I also think that it visually elongates the glasshouse, making the car seem longer and much sleeker in the process.

    Window tints are one of those true hit or miss-type mods. Done badly, as so many are, with bubbles and imperfections, poorly cut and peeling edges, or even that horrendous ‘blue’ shade reminiscent of ’70s limos, then it can look worse than having no tint at all. Done to factory perfection, however, they can be a really cost effective mod, and one that will dramatically change the appearance of the car for a couple of hundred quid.

    Having been down this road many times before, I wisely decided to call upon the services of my old partners-in-crime and similarly grizzled veterans, Executive Tints in Burton upon Trent. Simon and Eric have been applying films of various kinds to all manner of vehicles, buildings and specialist applications for over two decades now, meaning that they have been there and done that in tinting terms.

    As well as looking after a great many of the Midlands’ top-end dealerships, the company’s client book reads a lot like an automotive industry ‘who’s who’ with Lexus UK, Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin regularly calling upon this affable outfit for special projects and motorshow work. A few years ago, this dynamic duo were responsible for tinting many of the cars for the James Bond Skyfall movie, so if their talents are good enough for Hollywood, my thinking was they’d be alright on my old tub!

    With Eric enjoying a well-earned morning off, it was down to Simon to work his usual magic on the old Three. Even though we’ve known each other a long time, Simon always relishes talking me through each tint spec, what is and isn’t legal – and the advantages of each type of film. Executive Tints use only ‘Technical Films’ for its work, as opposed to the more common ‘metallic’ or ‘dyed’ alternatives. They may be the most expensive of all three types, but Technical Films has a huge advantage over the others. It holds its colour permanently, unlike dyed films, which will often go blue or purple after a while, and better still, unlike metallic films, Technical Films won’t interfere with the signal requirements of aerial elements in heated rear windows, or GPS antennae for sat nav systems. If you’ve had tints fitted recently and have these problems now you know why! Cheap film!


    The Executive Tint way is always to stress that a customer should keep a lighter, legal tint on the sides and darken the rear window. This would avoid any potential brushes with the law, while allowing a marked contrast with the Autoglym-prepped paintwork. Simon would also be fitting ‘one-way’ films, which allows almost all of the exterior light to pass into the vehicle, stopping the age-old problem of gloomy interiors and poor visibility after dusk.

    For cars that they often work on, the lads have a pre-cut template to work from to save a little bit of time. With the E36 being a bit of an old stager though, this pattern has long since fallen out of the ‘greatest hits’ pile, meaning that Simon would need to start afresh, measuring and cutting rough blanks, before finely trimming them on the outside of each pane before he began. The curved rear window was first carefully shrunk into the correct profile with a heat gun, before Simon went around each edge, cutting a perfect line that just overlapped the factory black with a steadiness of hand that most surgeons would aspire to. Then, after yet more cleaning and scrubbing, the adhesive backing was peeled off and each piece of tint was carefully slid into place on a bed of water and soap.

    The rear pop-outs needed very special attention, with the threaded plugs that hold each bracket needing to be carefully undone to allow the trim to sit underneath it. Anything that can be removed always is, to make sure that the tint sits properly even where you can’t see. This avoids problems later down the line. After this Simon spent a great deal of time with more heat and an intriguing variety of squeegees in order to remove every little crease and bubble. This was definitely the part of the task where most care was taken, with every little imperfection being chased to the edge of the glass before it disappeared for good.

    In the case of the front drop-glasses, Simon fastidiously removed all trim panels to allow him to sit the tint as low as possible on the pane, to avoid the possibility of even the smallest gap at the bottom. Similar care was taken around the interior mirror scraper rubber, too. As usual, it was a masterclass in perfection, with the tint being ‘edged’ into the outer reaches of the drop glasses to ensure a totally OEM-like finish.

    After thoroughly cleaning the glass again, and removing the sheets that he had conscientiously placed around the car to avoid marking the trim (always much appreciated) the door panels were properly refitted and the car moved outside for shots. Usually, tinted windows can’t be touched for 48 hours to allow the adhesive to ‘go off’, but such is the quality of the films used by Executive Tints, and the quality of the way they fit them, Simon reckoned that they would be safe to use later that day. Now that’s confidence! At around £220 for the whole job, it didn’t exactly break the bank either, bearing in mind the graft and talent that sat behind it all.


    What I’ve got now is a cleaner, smarter looking car that appears to have neater and simpler lines to set off those classic body creases. The E36 is a great looking car anyway, but with a few tasteful mods, they can look stunning. I had better get the staggered 17s back on now then! If you’re in the market for a set of tasteful tints, make sure you head over to Burton and see these guys!

    CONTACT Executive Tints / www.executivetints.co.uk / 01283 566981
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    LIFE ON BOOST
    Turbos make everything better, as demonstrated by this hardcore, stripped-out, 356hp, turbocharged E36 325i. Finished in stunning Atlantis blue and with a turbo strapped to the engine, this E36 325i is a serious piece of kit. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andy Tipping.

    Generally speaking, adding a turbo to something will only make it better. Except if it makes it blow up… But apart from that, from humble turbo diesels to mental turbo drag cars with many thousands of horsepower, turbos make everything better, make people happier and generally make the world a better place. Just look at Brad Wherrett. He started out his motoring life with a Honda Jazz, followed by a modified Polo and a tuned Honda Civic. Then he bought an E36 325i and, understandably, life got better, but then he added a turbo…

    The E36 is 21-year-old vehicle technician Brad’s first BMW, and his profession has endowed him with the skills that make this sort of project somewhat easier than for those of us who can just about tell one end of a spanner from the other. His move from Japanese metal to Bavaria’s finest was seemingly an inevitable one. “The love for BMWs has run through the family for years,” explains Brad. “Since I can remember my dad and brothers have had BMWs – standard ones and modified ones – so I’ve been interested in them from a young age. For my first #BMW I decided to buy an E36 because I always liked the look of my brothers’ ones and I developed a soft spot for them.

    “I found the car on Autotrader, in good condition for its age, but a few dings here and there,” says Brad, “and I quite liked the idea of ‘stancing’ the car on BBS wheels or something similar.” That idea never came to fruition, and we’re glad of it because the end result is something a lot more special. In our humble opinion, we reckon Brad has struck just the right balance between wild and tasteful with his E36. The striking shade of Atlantis blue and the GT spoiler are the most eye-catching elements of the build, even more so than the top of the turbo peeking out of the bonnet cut-out, but it’s actually a pretty subtle car. There’s a lot of matt black elements that tone down that hit of blue and it just looks like a really meaty, purposeful piece of kit, which it most definitely is.

    It wouldn’t seem right talk about anything other than what’s going on under the bonnet of this car first and, usefully, the whole thing lifts off to give an uninterrupted view of what’s happened in the engine bay since Brad took charge of this 325i.
    Six months of work have been poured into the engine you see here, made up of late nights and weekends, but this was not simply a case of strapping a turbo to an M50 and hoping for the best, this engine has been stripped down and fully built to deal with the stresses and strains that forced induction was going to place upon it.

    This recipe for a turbocharged E36 begins with single a Vanos M50B25TU to which you then add M54B30 pistons mated to non-Vanos M50 con rods plus an M52B28 crankshaft. At this point it is a good idea to completely rebuild the engine with new timing chains, guides, tensioners, gaskets and so on because you don’t want to spend all that time building up an awesome engine only to have it break on you. The next step is to add ACL race bearings, ARP head studs, a decompression plate, monster Siemens Deka 630cc injectors and our old friend, the Bosch 044 fuel pump. With all that done, you’re finally ready to add your turbo and Brad opted for a Garrett GT35 twin-scroll snail, sitting on a custom top mount twin scroll exhaust manifold, with a Tial 50mm external wastegate and 50mm blow-off valve, feeding air through custom 3” pipework to a 600x300x76mm FMIC and into the engine via a serious-looking custom intake plenum.

    Brad then handed the car over to JamSport to wire in the ECU Master DET3 engine management and put together a base map. The end result of all that work is 356hp at 10psi of boost, which is a massive 164hp increase over the standard engine’s 192hp, a gain of more than 85%. You can’t be attempting to put that much power down without some suitably beefy transmission upgrades and here Brad has opted for an E36 328i five-speed gearbox with solid mounts, a Clutch.net stage five paddle clutch, braided clutch hoses and a 2.93 limited-slip diff from an E36 328i to help put the power down/do massive burnouts with.

    It’s fair to say that, as good as the stock E36 chassis is, it would struggle to deal with all that extra power, but Brad has not neglected this area of his E36 build. “If I’m honest, I got the TA Technix coilovers cheap and couldn’t say no,” he says. “I do have plans to upgrade them but I’m unsure of what brand to go for yet. I polybushed the car as some bushes were showing signs of wear and I decided to upgrade rather than fit OEM bushes.” This is definitely the way to approach any repairs on a project car and in addition to this, Brad has also added front and rear strut braces. The stock front brakes have been replaced with E46 330mm Brembo discs and pads while the rear brakes have also been replaced with standard-sized Brembo discs and pads.

    “When it came to wheels, I decided on Rota Grid Drifts because I’ve always liked the look they give. I considered something a bit more eye catching but in the end I settled for the Rotas.” The chunky, concave sixspoke design really suits the E36, especially in black against the Atlantis bodywork, and they are wrapped in Yokohama rubber at the rear with Maxxis tyres up front.

    Brad’s approach to the styling was the OEM+ look and it was definitely the right approach as everything he’s done to this car looks good. The M3 body kit gives it the cleaner, more aggressive styling the standard car needs and is further enhanced with the addition of the GT front lip and aforementioned GT rear spoiler. The stock mirrors have been retained but now wear carbon caps and the bootlid has been painted gloss black to match the spoiler. Brad has removed the exterior covers from the headlamps, giving them a more pronounced appearance while at the rear there’s a single, massive, Japanese-style exhaust tip.

    With the overall look and feel of the car, there was only ever really one direction to take with the interior and that was the hardcore, stripped-out route. The rear seats have been given the heave-ho while the fronts have been replaced with a pair of single-piece Corbeau Clubsport buckets with four-point harnesses. Brad has also fitted a deep-dish steering wheel, metal gear knob, an EGT gauge and HKS turbo timer plus the carbon fibre triple gauge panel from a Mitsubishi Evo VIII showing volts, water temp and boost, which looks great mounted below the clock on the centre console. The interior really suits the character of the car and with this much performance on tap, those seats and harnesses are most definitely not for show.

    This E36 is an awesome car. Everything about it looks right, the colour scheme is killer and it’s got a real sense of purpose about it. But the cherry on the top of this delicious slab of Atlantis blue goodness, and Brad’s favourite mod on the car, is the turbo. The fact that so much work has gone into the engine means 356hp is barely scratching the surface of what this setup is capable of and that means there’s scope for more power in the future, a lot more power. Brad is aiming for 550-600whp when the car is fully finished and running spot-on, which is going to be utterly insane and absolutely awesome with it. Whichever way you look at it, one thing’s for certain: everything is better with boost.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E36 / #BMW-325i-turbo / #BMW-325i-E36 / #M50B25TU / #M50B25 / #M50 / #BMW-M50 / #BMW-325i-turbo-E36 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW / #ECU-Master-DET3 / #M50-turbo / #Garrett-GT35 / #Garrett / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36 / #BMW-E36-Coupe / #BMW-325Ci / #BMW-325Ci-E36 /

    ENGINE 2.5-litre straight-six #M50B25TU / , fully rebuilt including new timing chains, guide tensioners, gaskets etc. M54B30 pistons, M50 non-Vanos con rods, M52B28 crankshaft, #ARP head studs, ACL race bearings, decompression plate, #Siemens-Deka-630 630cc injectors, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, custom top mount twin-scroll turbo manifold, GT35 twin-scroll turbo, 50mm Tial external wastegate, 50mm blow-off valve, 3” custom exhaust, 3” intercooler hardpipes, 600x300x76mm intercooler, custom intake plenum, Toyosports oil catch can, solid engine mounts, ECU Master DET3 engine management

    TRANSMISSION E36 328i five-speed manual gearbox with solid mounts, Clutch.net stage five paddle clutch, braided clutch hose, 2.93 328i limited-slip differential

    CHASSIS 9x17” (front and rear) Rota grid drift wheels with 235/40 (front) Maxxis MAZ1 tyres and 245/40 (rear) Yokahoma Advan AD08R tyres, TA Technix coilovers with adjustable top mounts, front and rear strut braces, polybushed all-round, E46 330mm Brembo discs and pads (front), E36 325 brakes (rear) with #Brembo discs and pads

    EXTERIOR Full Atlantis blue respray, M3 body kit, GT front lip, GT rear spoiler with risers, delensed headlamps

    INTERIOR Corbeau Clubsport bucket seats, four-point harnesses, stripped-out rear seats, dished steering wheel, exhaust gas temperature gauge, Mitsubishi Evo VIII carbon fibre gauge panel, HKS turbo timer

    THANKS The Paint Shop in Bruntingthorpe and JamSport in Northampton
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