- Post is under moderationADE’S E36 #BMW-323i-E36 / #BMW / #BMW-323i
As clean as the #BMW-E36 was, original owner Malcolm had a few mishaps with it in his later days of ownership. Nothing serious, but a bump on the front and rear corners were enough to persuade the 90-year-old to give up driving and sell up. Fast forward a few months and I’ve sorted the basics, had some fun on track and now I’m ready to freshen up the cosmetics.
As much as I like the simple SE looks I do prefer the Sport styling, and when both front and rear bumpers were required I couldn’t bring myself to not have some M3 influence coming into play! Up front, a cheap but surprisingly good-quality reproduction bumper was bought new from eBay for under £100. Complete with all fittings, trim and even an M3 Evo splitter it’s a total bargain! At the rear, the M3 rear bumper is subtly different in its shape towards the lower edges with a boxier design, plus there’s also the obvious rear diffuser. This isn’t such a bargain new, so a good used example was sourced locally. Same goes for the ‘twist’ side skirts, which will nicely bulk out the sills. The nose cone was also damaged, so the chance was taken to fit a new pre-facelift version which houses more discreet sunken grilles. Lower down the 323i’s front end was also personalised with some amber crystal fog lights. An unusual touch, but one which perfectly suits the car’s colour scheme.
With all the parts collected it was time to deliver it to a capable #bodyshop , and there are few places more on the ball than #KD-Kustoms in Lochgelly, Fife. Just down the road from Driftland and more than used to dealing with old cars, drift cars and E36s in particular, they really are the right team for the job. A full respray would be nice in an ideal world, but this is meant to be a budget fun car, so Neil and the team got to work on repairing and blending-in the areas which needed TLC. Tricky areas like the rear quarter with its integrated seam were pulled out and tidied expertly. The rear arches were also trimmed and sealed around the inner lip as I was having hassle with rubbing. It wasn’t even tyre rubbing, but instead the actual wheel lip!
With spray gun guru Toole finished applying the fresh Canyon red metallic it was time for assembly and then on to KD’s sister company, HyperKleen, for a full detailing session by Kara. The results speak for themselves and are way beyond what I ever expected from a budget tidy up job. Now the E36 is back to the condition it was in for most of Malcolm’s ownership, just now with a bit of an M3 flavour sprinkled on!
The E36 ready for its transformation. The E36 was delivered to KD Kustoms for its makeover. Damaged areas were repaired prior to the fitting of the M3 parts. M3 bumper looks great and Ade has added some amber foglights as well. Replica M3 bumper with Evo splitter. The E36 was treated to a full detailing session. ‘Twist’ side skirts and M3 rear bumper
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- Post is under moderationDUE DILIGENCE Stunning super-rare E21 323i / #JPS / #BMW-E21 / #BMW-323i / #BMW-323i-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-323i-JPS / #BMW-323i-JPS-E21 / #Getrag / #Getrag-245 / #M20B27 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 / #BMW /
Due Diligence The story of one man’s love affair with JPS BMWs and in particular his stunning E21 323i example. Hard work, combined with a bit of luck, can take you a long way. In Australian Stewart Garmey’s case, it took him around the world as he helped other BMW enthusiasts, and also led him to possibly one of the rarest limited edition BMWs made. Words and photography: Chris Nicholls.
It takes a unique level of dedication to spend a quarter of a century committed to a brand. And not just committed for your own purposes, but working tirelessly to help fellow enthusiasts enjoy their BMWs, wherever in the world they may be. That’s the kind of dedication Australian, Stewart Garmey has, though. A BMW fan since 1977, when a friend let him drive his then-new 2002 in New Zealand, Stewart finally got his own ‘02 in 1989 (a Taiga green Tii) after his mother passed away. “I always promised myself a 2002, and when my mum passed away in 1989, she left me a small inheritance. My wife said my mum had always promised me a BMW, so I better go and do it!”
Having taken the plunge, he undertook a bare metal restoration of the car and also joined the BMW Club of Victoria, spending the next 25 years attending club meets, participating in show ’n’ shines and organising things. From 1997-2001 he worked as club president, eventually joining the board of BMW Clubs Australia, and in 2004 he even became the Australian delegate to the International Council of BMW Clubs – a position he held for the next ten years. In 2015, in recognition of all his hard work, Stewart received the ‘Friend of the Marque’ accolade, becoming only the 48th council member to be awarded it, and the sixth Australian. It’s something he is justifiably proud of, saying it was like “getting the Brownlow” (the Aussie Rules equivalent of the PFA Player’s Player of the Year award).
Of course, just owning a BMW (no matter how nicely restored) and working hard for club members worldwide was probably not going to get him Friend of the Marque, but Stewart proved his love for the brand over many years with further acquisitions. There was an immaculate Henna red South African-built E28 M5 we featured in our October 2014 issue that was so spectacular Stewart even received an offer for it from Ralf Rodepeter at the BMW Museum (a sale that only fell through because BMW claimed it would have trouble insuring the RHD car in Germany). He’s also owned a JPS 323i that he sold a while back, and he currently has a E92 325i Coupé and E91 323i Motorsport Touring he and his wife use as their current daily drivers respectively. Oh, and because clearly he hasn’t done enough for BMW as it is, Stewart runs a register of JPS BMWs (both the Australian factory race cars and road-going special editions made to order in Australia to commemorate them) in his spare time, as no factory records are thought to exist now.
Now, for those who may not know, here’s a little more information on these Australian-only specials… Covering many different models, they were commissioned by BMW Australia to cash-in on the Team JPS BMW Group 5 and Group A cars of the ’80s. Available only by request, each one came with gold-centred BBS-Mahle wheels, rib-back Recaro seats, an M1 steering wheel, #JPS badges, a build numberplate and the signature black-with-gold-pinstripe livery. According to Stewart’s research, there was only one E12 sold, 100 E21s, perhaps only four or five E24s, just two E28s (one each for JPS team boss #Frank-Gardner and lead driver Jim Richards), and around 30 E30s. Stewart believes only about 15 E30s, 20 E21s, one E28 and an unknown number of the rest survive today, making them very rare beasts.
It’s thanks to this research and subsequent knowledge of these JPS cars that Stewart was quickly able to discover that his second E21 323i example might be one of the rarest of them all – a 2.7-litre special order version, not fitted with the lazy M20B27 used in other factory BMWs over the years, but a stroker built locally using the 2.3-litre block and fitted with new crankshaft and rods, giving it a totally different character to the factory motor, as well as more power. “We’ve had people look at it and play with it, and almost beyond doubt now, it is one of the three [known] 2.7-litre strokers,” he says. “The fact it’s got the close-ratio 245 dog-leg Getrag and #LSD behind it suggests that it is the big engine. It certainly goes like it is, and when you hear it idle, it’s very cammy and lumpy.”
Having heard the car during the shoot, that’s something we can definitely confirm. And with Stewart revealing one of the three 2.7s was written off in a crash a while back, that makes his – number 47 of the 100 E21s, according to the dash-mounted build plate – possibly one of two.
The rather amusing thing is that, while Stewart’s hard work was responsible for him discovering how rare this car might be, it was just dumb luck that led him to it in the first place. Having sold off his other toys due to the need to downsize his house, he was apparently experiencing “withdrawal symptoms”, and decided to start looking around to see what was available. Lo and behold, this little example appeared on his radar, although it was, by Stewart’s reckoning, rather overpriced at first.
“I saw it advertised for $27,000, rang the bloke and told him he was dreaming. He replied that that was what the car owed him, to which I retorted that what it owes him and what it’s worth are two very different stories indeed! However, I watched it for nine months, and kept in touch. Then one day he asked me what it was worth, which was $10-12,000 tops. After a bit of soul-searching he finally told me he wouldn’t take less than $10,000 for it and I told him I’d see him on Saturday morning! So I flew up to Brisbane, saw it and bought it.”
Obviously neither Stewart nor the previous owner knew at the time that it was likely a 2.7, so clearly Stewart ended up with a bit of a bargain, although its imperfect mechanical condition meant he had to spend quite a lot of time and money ensuring it was back to its former glory. Perhaps oddly, Stewart revealed it didn’t seem too bad on his initial test drive, but once he got it trucked back to Melbourne (a wise decision in retrospect), the full extent of the issues revealed themselves.
“I drove it while I was there and I was impressed by the way it went, but after 2000 kilometres in a car that hadn’t done a lot of work for a while (it had been a sit-around toy) combined with the fact I didn’t know it… it was too far, so I paid for it to come back to my house on a truck. Which is just as well that I did, as it had things like the exhaust system [being] held on with pull-up ties. It was also missing bits in the front suspension and the brake sensors weren’t fitted… silly little bits like that, so it was a good move.”
This all happened back in July last year, and Stewart’s spent all the time until now fixing it up. That meant, on top of sorting the aforementioned urgent issues, Stewart had to replace many items in the engine bay, such as the strut-top caps, as well as order custom-made JPS C-pillar badges as they were missing. To match his high standards, he also had to get all five original wheels restored, replace all four headlight lenses, remove an additional gold pin-stripe that wasn’t meant to be there, put in a new dashboard, get the M1 wheel retrimmed and recover the unique Recaro seats.
This last job proved quite the challenge, as the black side bolster fabric he needed was only used on those seats in period and was no longer in production. However, here again Stewart’s nouse and hard work paid off as many phone calls later, he eventually found out via a Sydney shop that the same material, albeit in green, was used on Holden Commodore SLEs at the time, and due to the Commodore’s enduring popularity, Stewart easily found the fabric and had it dyed black. After getting them done by his friend Ray at Bray Mills Automotive Trimming in Heidelberg in Melbourne’s north east, Stewart says the seat material “worked beautifully”.
Amazingly, despite how good the car looks now as a result of all this work, Stewart’s not done yet. At the time of the shoot, he’d just ordered a new headliner from America as the original one had rust stains in it, and the carpets were nowhere near his usual standards, so he was going to replace those, too.
Indeed, as you might have gathered, Stewart is pretty meticulous about his cars in general. His 2002 and M5 won so many BMW Club of Victoria concours events other members complained there was no point entering their cars – to which he responded “I’m not going to back down – if somebody beats me, they beat me, fair enough, but I’m not going to roll over.”
He also never allows anyone other than he and his wife to sit in his toys with regular outdoor shoes on, and even he and his wife dust their shoes off before getting in. When it came to detailing this car, he says: “It lived up on wheel stands for about three months because I was detailing under the guards.” He also detailed the suspension while he was there and, because it had aftermarket stainless mufflers fitted by a previous owner, Stewart polished those up, too.
All this graft is, perhaps, more evidence that effort, combined with luck, can indeed net you amazing results. As you can see, even in the car’s supposedly incomplete state, it’s a stunner. The sheer gloss Stewart’s managed to achieve with the original paint, and the near flawless finish on the (unfinished) interior all point to how much effort’s gone into it.
Refreshingly, as you can see by the fact he was happy to get the car shot on a dirt road, Stewart isn’t overly precious about using it, either. He plans on taking it out regularly for club events and while there will, no doubt, be times when he’s too busy polishing it to make every meet, he always makes as much of an effort as he can. Because clearly, the rewards are worth it.
“The fact it’s got the close-ratio 245 dog-leg Getrag and LSD behind it suggests that it is the big engine. It certainly goes like it is”
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An awesome E46 323i four-door packing a #BBK , carbon goodies and #Schnitzer styling galore. At a loss how to modify your four-door E46? Let Alan Lam and #AC-Schnitzer show you how. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Matt Barnes.
There are some BMWs that effortlessly ooze class. These are the cars that when cruising past, you stare longingly at, not because they’re intrusively loud or garishly decorated, but because they’ve been beautifully and thoughtfully modified. Money’s been thrown in all the right places, and the owner has insisted on the best to make his ride become even more of a rewarding driving machine and easier on the eye.
With BMW’s current 3 Series, most choose the Coupé variant as the base for modifying work. And who can blame them? The two-door is indeed a design marvel in terms of beauty and desirability, so it’s an ideal starting block. Those with the saloon version are presented with more of a modifying challenge. It’s by no means an ugly car, but a little more thought has to go into how to bring the best out of the practical four-door. Looking at Alan Lam’s ’00 323i, we think he’s pretty much cracked it.
The native New Yorker is by all accounts one of the most enthusiastic BMW modifiers we’ve ever met – you’d be lucky to find anyone more knowledgeable and helpful about what it takes to make these cars a pleasure to look at and drive. So it’s no surprise to discover the sheer amount of work put into turning his Orient blue 323i into the feature car we have here today.
Alan’s love affair with the marque goes back to his high school days, where the E36 M3 was his dream car. “It was only after BMW released the pictures of the new E46 I knew I had to get one, though,” he told us. “My first BMW was therefore delivered in December ’99, and it was used as my daily driver to school and work, so modifications were kept at a minimum and nothing major was planned.”
And how many times have we heard that? It seems Alan started customising the little things, beginning with OEM clear lights all round, and realised there was no way of stopping. The bug had bitten. Before long a Supersprint exhaust and ECIS cold air intake found their way onto the car, and the results were addictive.
“The E46 was too quiet,” Alan said, “especially driving a manual. You want to hear the engine to let you know when to shift. The exhaust and cold air intake made a dramatic difference in the car’s performance and fun factor, and I found myself blipping the throttle downshifting just to hear the lovely sound the engine now made. I even had the front and rear resonators removed to make it even louder and deeper, and it now sounds just like a stock E36 M3.”
As you can tell from the photos, however, these mods were just the beginning. Alan discovered Dtmpower.net, Bimmervibe.com and E46fanatics.com on the Internet, and these forums opened up a whole new world of potential tuning ideas. “I found myself browsing on it all day and night learning more about what I could do to the car,” the 26-year-old IS administrator said. Inevitably he met up with like-minded enthusiasts, and knew he wanted more from his car. A lot more.
Having an overall gameplan is an absolute necessity if you’re modifying to attain a certain look. It’s best to gain inspiration from others, see what there is on the market you think works best, and add your own personal touches. Alan can’t be faulted for his choice of AC Schnitzer styling; a brand, he tells us, he chose due to its racing heritage and reputation as the most widely respected BMW tuner in the world. We’re not about to disagree.
“I wanted my car to be a Schnitzer car,” he said. “First thing was ordering a full Schnitzer body kit along with a set of 18” rims. I didn’t like the rear spoilers offered by Schnitzer so I decided to go with a Racing Dynamics one instead.” Also at this time, Eibach springs and BogeSachs BMW sport shocks tightened everything up, while a modern styling touch in the shape of xenon front lights courtesy of bekkers.com found their way on. With Hamann eyebrows and shadow grilles added as well, Alan had reached the end of the second stage of modifying. Once again he was satisfied with the car’s look, so you’d have thought he’d have stopped here. No way.
Styling is one thing, but finding more power really is best for putting a smile on your face. “There were virtually no turbo kits available,” said Alan, “nor any reliable supercharger kits making any decent power at the time. Instead, Rogue Engineering had connections with an excellent BMW technician who was able to do some motor work for me. I got hold of Schrick cams, Jim Conforti Shark Injector software and ended up swapping my ECIS intake in favour of a beautiful Gruppe M carbon fibre unit.” Good choice.
Soon after, Alan was collecting a first place trophy in the Mild category at Bimmerfest East, and was recruited by TWCompetition. Things were looking up, and so were the planned mods to his 323i. These final mods are basically the look the car sports in the photos, and the sheer amount and quality of work is commendable. Nineteen-inch HRE wheels were custom made by Peter Lee at wheelexperts.com, while the suspension was swapped for H&R coilovers set at maximum drop for the rear and about 90% at the front. That’s seriously low. Riding that close to the tarmac has obvious drawbacks, so, in Alan’s own words, “to help scan the crappy New York roads rolling on big 19s, I swapped the standard halogen foglights for 5300K xenons.”
Nestled behind those beautiful custom wheels are some serious anchors, 320mm up front courtesy of Brembo, with a Rogue Engineering/Porsche 329mm hybrid setup at the rear. Alan assures us at the time this was done, no other E46 had both front and rear big brakes. Ever the groundbreaker, with the front bumper sporting an Schnitzer add-on becoming more common, Alan changed his for an OEM E46 M3 bumper. With this being almost 2” wider than the 323i item on each side, Ultimate Collision had a hell of a task making it fit, but have certainly excelled themselves with the finish. The addition of a new Schnitzer carbon fibre splitter completes the very tasty new look. Soon after, Schnitzer was called upon again to provide an M3 racing spoiler, a truly unique look for a saloon car.
Then there’s the final hurrah. If you put a carbon fibre bonnet on the wrong car it’s an expensive mistake, but on Alan’s modified E46 323i it’s a revelation. It blends in nicely with the Orient paint, and completes what is a stunning four-door.
Standing back to admire it, the final look is a thing of beauty. The custom front bumper, the large but tasteful rear wing, the huge brakes primed for action behind the flawless, polished alloys. It may be a four door, but how many coupés look this desirable? Alan tells us he knows of no other saloon in the US with this look, but we’re hoping many will take inspiration from him to create something even half as nice as his stunning 323i.
GruppeM carbon fibre air intake – every #BMW should have one!
DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-323i / #BMW-323i-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #M52TUB25 / #BMW-M52 / #M52B25 / #M52 / #BMW
ENGINE: 2.5-litre six-cylinder with #Schrick performance 248° cams, #Rogue-Engineering underdrive pulleys, #Gruppe-M carbon fibre air intake, #Jim-Conforti engine software, #Supersprint 76mm cat-back exhaust with both resonators removed, Imola red valve covers
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” #HRE-448R three-piece forged alloys shod in Toyo T1-S 235/35 tyres. H&R fully adjustable coilover suspension system, #H&R Trak Plus 5mm spacers, #Racing-Dynamics anti-roll bars, #Turner-Motorsports rear shock mounts, silver M3 front strut brace. #Brembo 320mm big brake kit (front), #Rogue-Engineering /Porsche 329mm big brake kit (rear), #Hawk-HPS racing pads, #Goodridge stainless steel brake lines, #ATE Super Blue brake fluid. Rogue Engineering short-shifter, weighted selector rod and tranny mounts. Redline synthetic fluids
EXTERIOR: Euro-spec OEM M3 bumper custom fitted onto a saloon chassis, #AC-Schnitzer carbon fibre M3 front spoiler, aluminium stabiliser struts, rear apron, roof spoiler, sport mirrors, racing wing and badges, Fiber Images carbon fibre bonnet. Hamann shadow grilles, Hamann eyebrows, #M-Tech side skirts, Nova 4 professional strobe kit, custom fitted facelift ’02 BMW rear lights, Euro-spec clear side repeaters, xenon 5200K foglight kit, xenon 5200K ellipsoid headlights.
INTERIOR: M3 leather sport seats custom fitted into saloon, two-tone leather treatment, Sparco Clubman threepoint safety harnesses, AC Schnitzer full pedal set and floor mats. Aluminium interior trim and gear shift, NR Auto aluminium gauges, Isotta chrome gear shift surround
ICE: Alpine 7965 CD head unit, CHA 1214 12-disc changer, SPR 176A 6.5” components, SPR 172A 6.5” coaxial. Rockford Fosgate 400 four-channel amp, 360 two-channel amp, 1.0 Farad capacitor. Allumapro BP10 subwoofer enclosure
THANKS: TWCompetition, Peter at wheelexperts.com, Samir at Rennsport.com, Tom Chang at Bimmerfesteast.com, Ooro and Drea at Bimmervibe.com, Jimmy at Pfactor.com, Mark and Ben at Rogueengineering.com, Barry at Race Technologies, Dtmpower.net, E46fanatics.com, Cave Crew, Michael Cajayon, Rich Pinto at Rtechnic, my girlfriend Mabel, friends and family
Above: Rogue Engineering/Porsche 329mm big brake kit for the rears! Up front are Brembo 320mm. Left: Plenty of lovely carbon fibre.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBUILT FROM THE BLUE
Starting from scratch, Mark Brown has completely transformed his E21 with an M52-swap, a Laguna Seca blue respray, and perfect stance.
Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Steve Hall From its perfect Laguna Seca paintwork to its M52 swap, this E21 is classic perfection with a modern twist. Glorious stanced and caged E21 with M52 swap.
Take a good long look at this car, not just because it’s awesome, but take a look at it and try to form a picture of the owner. Whatever mental image you may have conjured up, we guarantee you it’s wrong. You see, the owner of this car, Mark Brown, is older than you might expect. He’s a criminal justice worker. He walks with a limp and he uses a walking stick. Society might expect Mark Brown to be driving around in a Volvo or a Kia, in mauve perhaps, but Mark Brown would, very politely, tell society where to stick its Korean blandmobile. That’s because Mark Brown loves cars. In particular, he loves modifying cars. He’s been doing just that for a very long time and we reckon Mark Brown might be a little bit of a secret hooligan. We like him already, and that’s before we even get onto the matter of his stunning E21, which shares garage space with a 2002 and a track-orientated E30 M3. We told you he loves cars…
“I’ve been interested in BMWs since buying my first one in 1987,” begins Mark. “It was a ropey mint green 1502. I loved the look of it. Then I started going to my local track (Brands Hatch) to watch testing. I was there when Vic Lee was doing a press day and that’s when I got to see my first M3 race car up close. As I couldn’t afford one, I bought a 3 Series I could afford, an E21. It was £250! It was faster than my mate’s Triumph Dolomite 1850 and I really loved the way it drove. It just felt ‘right’. A few months later I bought an earlier, round taillight car in white and I still have the same model 29 years later. Now when I drive it, though, it’s like a time machine and I feel just as I did back then.”
Mark’s clearly got a long-standing passion for BMWs but looking at just how much work has gone into this E21 we wonder when the modifying bug first bit? “Even my first ever car was modified. It’s just what you do, isn’t it?” he laughs. He’s absolutely right. “I’ve never wanted to drive the same thing as everyone else. I want my car to reflect me. I want a car that I can’t help but look back at as I walk away from it. I don’t build cars for other people’s reactions, although that’s a nice thing to happen, I build them for myself.” And there it is, he’s nailed it, the reason why I’m writing this, why you’re reading this, and why we willingly spend thousands on modifying our cars: it’s simply because it’s what we like doing!
This is actually Mark’s third E21, replacing an orange #BMW-323i which sadly caught fire. But perhaps if that hadn’t happened he wouldn’t have ended up building this car. “I’d owned the orange 323i a few years and tried out all sorts of mods,” Mark continued, “so it ended up being a kind of trial run. I tried some proper dodgy mods, such as German look numberplates, but this time I tried to be more restrained. Well kind of…
“The base car I bought was one of the cleanest E21s I have ever seen in the UK. It had a minuscule amount of corrosion and, being a non-sunroof car, even the sills were mint. When it came to the mods, I knew I wanted a car that could be driven every day and looked cool. I knew 99% of the mods I wanted done and so it was relatively straightforward process.
“I spoke at great length with Mick Rodgers at Pristine Bodyworks, as he has owned an E21 for years. He also looked after my other cars and is one of the best bodywork people out there. The quality of his work is incredible really. It took over two years to build this car but when you see it in the metal, it’s easy to understand why.”
Pristine’s paint expertise clearly shows in the finish on this E21. Mark opted for vibrant Laguna Seca blue from the E46, which is a bold choice, but on the smallerbodied classic Three it looks awesome and suits the car perfectly.
Of course, such a strong body colour really needs the right wheels and Mark’s choice of design and colour is absolutely on point. “I bought the wheels ages ago,” he explains. “I wanted Cromodoras but had to settle for Rota’s version, the BM8. They look awesome though. When I told Mick I wanted them a dark gold colour he wasn’t convinced. I was actually inspired by Magnus Walker’s blue 911 and the bronze gold finish is perfect against the Laguna Seca blue paint. The arches have been pretty extensively modified to accommodate the wheels but it’s one of those mods you’ll only see if you park next to an OE car. Overall we figured that less is more, so there’s nothing obviously not stock apart from the wheels and the stance. The amount of camber was also crucial.”
He’s right about those arches, as only those with an encyclopaedic knowledge of E21 bodywork would be able to say that the flared arches are anything but stock. The fitment is spot-on, too, those chunky 8x15” Rotas just poking past the arch lips and the Marangoni Sport tyres they’ve been wrapped in just sneak past the edges of the arches.
Whatever angle you view the car from it just looks so squat and purposeful, and Mark’s choice of suspension is a key player here. “The suspension was a combination of Leda and Gaz, who refurb’d everything to ‘as new’. The freshly-painted shell was so nice that only new parts were going to be up-to-scratch! I decided against adjustable top mounts and the like as this was always going to be a road car. I think too many people fit parts like that for bragging rights, whereas their cars would be so much nicer to drive if they just held back a bit,” says Mark, sensibly.
The main suspension work is done by a custom Leda and Gaz coilover setup, bolstered by a pair of front and rear strut braces for a little bit of additional stiffness.
We wager it’s a riot to drive, especially with the additional chassis mods that Mark has carried out. “The quick-rack was developed by a company in the Midlands. I hassled them for months and eventually they had the tooling made. If you have an E21 do yourself a favour and buy a quick rack,” Mark advises. “The OE steering is way too slow at four turns lock-to-lock; no wonder people couldn’t catch the oversteer! This quick-rack takes just 2.5 turns and it’s awesome! The big brake kit came from WMS, who actually copied a Cosworth setup Mick had adapted. A remote servo meant we lost all that convoluted RHD linkage and the huge OE servo and mount.”
That was handy as for his next trick Mark decided to carry out an #M52B28-swap , opting for a shaved bay. The less clutter the better. “The engine has been fitted with a modified E36 six-branch exhaust manifold and a 323 twin silencer system,” says Mark.
“Joe Geach at ARM BMW and Motorsport in Cornwall sorted the ECU and there’s 220hp+ going through the E12 LSD conversion and twin billet mounts. There’s an uprated clutch, a short-shifter, and a Storm billet gear knob. The alloy rad is custom from AH Fabrications. The guys there couldn’t have been more helpful. It’s quality kit, too.”
The M52 looks fantastic, nestling snuggly in the E21’s compact engine bay. If you didn’t know better, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a factory job. The bay itself is outrageously clean, just acres of beautiful blue bodywork unsullied by unsightly cables, brackets and whatever else.
Considering how much work and attention-to-detail has been lavished on the exterior, chassis and engine, we would be very surprised if the interior was lackluster.
Fortunately there are no unwelcome surprises here. While it has been purposefully kept subtle there’s still a lot of cool additions. A pair of leather and Alcantara-trimmed Recaros have been fitted up front on custom runners, along with custom black carpets. They look fantastic and quite period in their design. These have been mated to a pair of Safety Devices fourpoint harnesses. The rear bench has been deleted, with a colour-coded half-cage now mounted in its place, and the aforementioned rear strut brace is tied into the cage and dual billet diff mounts. Mark has also fitted a very smart Momo Prototipo steering wheel, an exceedingly sexy Storm V2 billet gear knob, and a trio of Stack gauges mounted above the ventilation controls displaying oil and water temperatures and voltage readings. Finally, the audio has been upgraded and is headed up by a Nakamichi head unit… although we get the feeling it doesn’t see much use. “The engine sounds way better,” grins Mark. We don’t doubt him for a moment.
A huge amount of work has gone into this car over the past two years but it’s far from finished. “My plans are for Jenvey ITBs and DTA Pro 90 engine management,” Mark reveals. “Jenvey does a fantastic kit that it developed specifically for the M50 engines. The quality is about as good as it gets and it will mean that I can then delete the plastic inlet manifold. I also have an alloy coil pack cover, so the engine back will look oldschool again. I did think about a turbo but, for me, performance BMWs are about normally aspirated, high-revving engines. The ITBs also sound glorious. The only other plan, then, is to drive it,” he laughs.
It’s time to ask Mark the classic theoretical question: if his budget had been unlimited, was there anything he would have done differently? “Money no object, I wouldn’t change a thing,” he replies without hesitation. “I’m not rich and you don’t need to be to build something special. If I was rich, though, I’d have an M1 on the drive and I’d modify that…” We now hope that Mark will win the lottery because that’s something we’d love to see! As for the E21, well it’s really rather magnificent, isn’t it? Mark has achieved exactly what he wanted to with this build and at no point has he gone off the rails and thrown any ridiculous mods at it. For a lowered, stanced, bright blue E21 on bronze wheels, it’s about as subtle a build as you could imagine, and about as awesome a car as you could dream up.
This E21’s stance is perfect from every angle. I don’t build cars for other people’s reactions, I build them for myself. M52 swap looks so good it could pass for a factory job; shaved bay is crazy clean.
DATA FILE BMW #M52-swapped / #BMW-E21 / #BMW-E21-M52 / #Pristine-Bodyworks / #BMW / #AH-Fabrication /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.8-litre straight-six #M52B28 / #M52 / #BMW-M52 conversion by Pristine Bodyworks, uprated engine mounts, shaved bay and deleted all unused brackets etc, AH Fabrication alloy radiator and Kenlowe fan, custom ARM BMW alloy big-wing sump, Cat Cams performance camshaft, big-bore throttle body, #ARM BMW remap, E36 sixbranch manifold and 50mm 323i twin silencer system. BMW M20 five-speed gearbox and uprated clutch, Big Bavarian Beauties lightened flywheel, Z3 short-shift kit
CHASSIS 8x15” (front and rear) #Rota-BM8 alloys painted in bronze finish with 205/50 (front) and 215/50 (rear) Marangoni Sport tyres, LEDA and Gaz custom coilover suspension, front and rear strut braces with rear tied into cage and dual billet diff mounts, high ratio steering rack, #WMS big brake conversion with billet four pot calipers and Hawk pads, remote servo conversion and custom pedal linkage by Pristine Bodyworks
EXTERIOR Full bare metal respray in Laguna Seca blue by Pristine Bodyworks, wheel arches reworked
INTERIOR Recaro front seats on custom runners, custom black carpets, rear seat delete, colour-coded half cage, Safety Devices four-point harnesses, #Momo-Prototipo steering wheel, #Storm-V2 billet gear knob, Nakamichi ICE, Stack dash mounted gauges for oil, water and volts
THANKS Special thanks to Pristine Bodyworks for putting up with me and for doing work of such a high standard. Kyle Clinton for manufacturing one of the best mods you can do to an E21. Jenvey for the excellent ITB kit. Joe Geach at ARM BMW and Motorsport in Cornwall who helped with the finishing touches, ECU map, dyno runs, geo setup and general help and advice, Rally Prep, #DTA-Engine-Management AH Fabrications, #Zero-Exhausts
Rota BM8 15s have been finished in a custom bronze gold colour, which looks fantastic against the Laguna Seca bodywork.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBEN’S #BMW-E36 / #BMW-323i TOURING / #BMW-323i-Touring / #BMW-323i-Touring-E36 / #BMW-E36 /
Last time I covered a couple of new parts that I’d fitted in time for the Gaydon #BMW Festival however, there was one thing I needed to fix that I needed help with.
My hectic last minute rush to get it looking presentable (and driving as I wanted it to) all took place over the week running up to the event. Thursday morning saw me leaving the house at 6.30am for an important visit to RAW Motorsport in Southampton. The reason for my trip was that my nearside rear wheel bearing had been sounding poorly for some time and after a trip to the Nicky Grist Stages rally in Wales the noise just got to the point where I was unhappy to drive the car at all. RAW Motorsport has extensive experience with all things M3 and there’s no one else I trust with the car, so I got myself booked in with RAW front man and namesake Robin Welsh.
I’m usually more than happy to get out the spanners and have a crack at things myself but the wheel bearings on the rear of E36 are a known problem area, with the driveshafts usually getting stuck into the back of the bearings and all sorts. With the risk of leaving my car stranded in the workshop, doing it myself wasn’t something I fancied. On top of this, RAW has a method it uses which works perfectly every time.
Onto the shopping list. I’ve always highly rated Meyle parts and so using its rear wheel bearings was a no-brainer. I have Meyle front wheel bearings, too, so why not keep things matching? Coupled with these, I opted for a set of CAtuned chromoly heavy-duty driveshafts.
Not only do the shafts look fantastic but they use a solid 4340 chromoly shaft at their centre for seriously beefed-up strength. This is without any extra weight over the standard shafts – a win/win. Luckily, both the bearings and the shafts are available in the UK through Hack Engineering, making buying it all nice and easy.
Once up on the ramp at RAW Motorsport, technician Tom could start disassembling the rear end. Sure enough, the nearside wheel bearing was very noisy indeed and both driveshafts were also very much worse for wear. The offside wheel bearing seemed to be in perfect health but was changed anyway.
I also asked Tom to check the rear trailing arm bushing bolts as I’d been having a strange clunk from that area and, sure enough, I had good reason to be cautious. The track action that the Touring has been through is taking its toll on the poor girl, with the trailing arm mounts being close to torn out of the underside of the car. In the usual RAW Motorsport style there was no deliberation about a fix and Tom and Clive simply got straight on with a repair, welding the damaged area, undersealing it and then remounting the trailing arm.
Of course, this is not the end of it. I’ll shortly be back at RAW with a set of reinforcement plates to have the job finished off. Thankfully my subframe mounting points are showing no signs of damage. One last request I had for Robin was to see whether he had a set of secondhand seats. The GT3 replica seats look great but on track they just don’t have enough support. I needed something proper and, of course, Robin had just the thing: a set of FIA Sparco Corsas. Of course, they’re out of date (in fact, the production date on them is only a few months after that of my E36) but they’re in great nick.
Thanks to my #VAC-Motorsports Race Seat Installation Kit, swapping between seats was a relatively straightforward process, and the new seats were fitted in no time at all. They feel fantastic and allow a whole new level of feel and support. I can’t wait to use them on track. Finally, the E36 was given a quick detail over at Soap Grenade Detailing, leaving it ready for the show and looking pretty respectable! There’s still a ton more work I’d like to do to get it looking its best, but for now, I’m pretty happy.
COSTS THIS MONTH
Meyle rear wheel bearings – £29 each #CAtuned chromoly driveshafts – £602
THANKS & CONTACT Hack Engineering 01444 617365 www.hackengineering.co.uk
RAW Motorsport (Now at Thruxton Race Circuit) 07795 563223 www.rawmotorsport.co.ukStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationKYLE COLLINGWOOD #BMW-E21 / #BMW-323i / #BMW-323i-E21 / #BMW
Australian Kyle Collingwood’s example might look like a rally refugee but it’s actually his daily, as well as being something of an on-going drift project. He says it’s pretty stock underneath the skin but is slowly becoming more and more of a drift machine. We think it’s got a lot of charm and that is enhanced by the striking blue wrap, the unnamed splits and copious underbonnet stickers (we spy a bit of Superman in there). Inside there are bucket seats with a drift steering wheel and at the back there’s a welded diff for maximum sideways action. As far as E21s go, it’s different and we love it. Bonzer!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBEN’S #BMW-E36 323i TOURING / #BMW-323i-Touring / #BMW-323i-Touring-E36 / #BMW-323i-E36 / #BMW-323i
The other month was an absolutely hectic one to get ready for the Gaydon #BMW Festival. I haven’t done many shows at all this year and so I wanted to make an effort to tidy up the Touring for it, as this year’s various thrashes around Wales had taken their toll.
Not only was my M3 splitter missing but my bonnet cable had snapped, meaning that a crude and ugly roadside fix (having the cable hanging out in front of the radiator) was still there, and the power steering pulley had taken a hit and had a chunk missing, which was pretty unsightly. I’d also picked up a set of rare saloon-fitment #AC-Schnitzer Cup mirrors, which I was keen to get on. I set aside a few days, assembled the parts I needed and got to work. As it’s becoming more and more of a track car, I decided there was little point in carrying out the fiddly task of replacing the bonnet cable. So that was cut out and I fitted a set of quick-release bonnet pins instead. Drilling through my bonnet was a little bit daunting but after some careful measuring the job was done.
There is now no need to go into my cockpit area to open my bonnet, which makes things easier for me, as I’m quite often tweaking something. The only down side to this type of bonnet pin is that they’re not legal for use at the Nürburgring, but I’m not planning on going over there for a while yet. I’ll probably also have a fibreglass bonnet by that time, which will be a good excuse to fit some AeroCatches, which are ’Ring legal and do look that bit nicer.
Reattaching my splitter was an easy task and I complemented it with some foglight blanks, ordered from my local dealer. The mirrors were the icing on the cake. I’ve wanted a set of these for as long as I can remember, so when a slightly shabby black set came up on eBay, which I won for the starting price of just £100, I was pretty thrilled. One of the threaded inserts on each mirror was missing, and there was evidence of a dodgy attempt at a fibreglass repair on the backs, too, but nothing that put me off.
Once the mirrors arrived, I popped the glass out and took them straight to my painter, Paul from Automotive. He set about sorting them and giving them a beautiful coating of the allimportant Hell red, of which he keeps a stock of ready-mixed for me at all times. Once I had them back from him, I finished off the repair with a new threaded insert for each mirror, and popped the glass back in. The finishing touch was a pair of domed Hack Engineering stickers to replace the original ACS ones.
The final bit of work was to get the power steering pulley replaced. The vibration caused by the missing chunk of pulley actually seems to have done the pump’s bearings some damage as that’s become noisy of late, but more on that in a later issue. Needing to replace a damaged part is always a great excuse to upgrade and underdrive pulleys are something I’ve been wanting to fit for some time. After a customer cancelled an order for a set of #VAC-Motorsport pulleys from me, I knew that it was meant to be, and they made their way onto the S54 . The T6061 billet aluminium pieces not only look fantastic but give a claimed 8whp and 7lb ft of torque on an otherwise standard engine, achieved by underdriving the water pump and power steering pump. The upshot of this is that it also brings a welcome touch of added weight to the steering. It reduces the power assistance just enough to really improve the amount of feedback through the steering. I plan to add VAC’s alternator pulley to the setup at some point, said to be good for another 3whp and 2lb ft of torque. There were now just a few items left to sort before Gaydon; more on this next month.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBite to Match the Bark #2015
It may look like a pampered show queen but don’t be fooled, this E21 is packing a fearsome punch under the bonnet that more than matches its looks… Words: Simon Holmes and Photography: Chris Wallbank
Generally we find there tends to be two different routes owners follow when it comes to modifying a classic #BMW such as the E21. There are those that choose to lavish their time and attention on making their car look like an immaculate show piece, usually with a few well chosen added extras. And then there are those who prefer to concentrate on the performance side of things, heavily uprating the underpinnings and shoehorning in a larger engine to create a fast and fun road car. Rarely do the two paths cross, however, this is one of those few occasions. Over the last three years that he’s owned it, Naeem Arshad (Nas for short) has transformed what was once a standard 316 in a fetching shade of gold into the finely finished, subtly modified show car you see here. Only, despite its pristine appearance, this is no show queen. Lurking under the beautiful paintwork is a tuned 2.8-litre M52 six-cylinder and there’s uprated brakes and suspension to match.
The long and winding journey for Nas and his E21 began with help from the unlikely combination of a Volkswagen Corrado, a bad driver and an insurance company, as Nas explains: “I used to have a VW Corrado that I was doing up but someone drove into it on my way to work one day and wrote it off. I had nearly finished it so I wasn’t too happy but I got paid out for it and so I ended up sitting on some cash.”
Nas has always enjoyed tinkering with cars since his student days when he adopted a #DIY philosophy but now he was carless he found himself getting bored in the evenings. So inevitably he decided to buy a new project car; the only issue was deciding what one. That’s when a work colleague came to the rescue with a perfectly timed passing comment about a neighbour’s E21 that was up for sale. “It wasn’t actually advertised anywhere but it was for sale,” tells Nas. “An old boy owned it, so I went round there and bought it taxed and MoT’d for a good price. It wasn’t a bad car at all and I drove it home. It just needed a few little bits doing.”
Nas actually promised the previous owner that he would keep the cherished #BMW-323i-E21 standard at first but, as you can see, that didn’t quite go to plan. Initially, it was put to use as a weekend car to enjoy and after owning it a few months Nas even picked up a trophy at a local classic car show as it was, although the experience was somewhat dampened by the fact it then broke down and had to be towed home from the very same show! “The gear linkage broke so the first thing I did on the car since buying it was pull the gearbox out and get it rebuilt,” he recalls with a smile.
That set the ball rolling and boxes of parts soon began to arrive as Nas ordered up larger Wilwood four-pot callipers and stiffer GAZ coilover suspension amongst other things. These were upgraded not just because the old items were tired and worn but because Nas had a long-term plan in mind, which would centre around an engine conversion. So, wisely, he wanted all of the key ingredients to be in place beforehand so the engine could be converted over into the ready and waiting chassis at a later date. However, the tipping point in motivation to get the engine changed came quicker than Nas anticipated after a run-in with a Toyota Prius of all things! “I was on the motorway driving it home one day and I just couldn’t get past this Toyota Prius that was in front. It was such a frustrating experience and the people in the Prius were grinning,” tells Nas, now able to laugh about the tortuous moment. “So the very next day I started looking at the engine swap. I did think about an #M20 but I didn’t want to do what everyone else had done so I turned to the M50. Everyone told me it was too much work but there was a guy on an internet forum I use who was doing it too, although he was in Australia.”
Undeterred and comparing notes with his Australian counterpart along the way, Nas started by making things easier for himself and got hold of a very rotten E21 323i to harvest all of the key running gear from. Once he had the rear axle, struts, gearbox and prop ready and waiting he then bit the bullet and bought a perfectly good E34 525i Touring to use as the next donor vehicle for the other key pieces he required. A taxed and tested example with 200,000 miles under its belt was snapped up for just £250, although Nas did have to change a seized calliper on the seller’s driveway before he could take it home. Despite this, and the high mileage, the engine ran beautifully, Nas tells us, which is why he pulled out everything he needed and began fitting it inside the cramped E21 engine bay. Always up for making the challenge harder, Nas didn’t actually have a garage in which to perform the conversion.
Instead it was carried out on a friend’s driveway! “I did all the hard work in a month, and that included modifying the sump as it had to be cut and welded for ground clearance due to the angle the engine sat to clear the brake linkage. I then brought it home and took another week off work to finish it up and wire it myself,” Nas says.
A custom radiator was also made up from an adapted aftermarket Mk1 Ford Escort item so it fitted perfectly and the exhaust system was made from scratch by a local firm, who also adapted the original manifold to clear the steering linkage.
Despite the initial negative comments about fitting the M50, Nas tells us the conversion wasn’t too bad although being prepared to have to modify or fabricate parts rather than fit items straight-off-theshelf became the norm. But it was worth it thanks to how the car drove. Out on the road it proved to be lively, reliable and fun, even proving itself a surprisingly good motorway cruiser thanks to its 30mpg fuel economy. Naturally, Nas loved driving it and used the car as much as he could, even travelling all the way down to Cornwall from his native Leeds to pick up the new seats. “They are a really rare optional Recaros from an E21 323i,” he relates. “I was lucky to get hold of them but they were looking a bit tired and so was the rest of my interior so I wanted it all re-done in leather. Luckily, I ended up getting the number of a local trimming company named SG Styling who was really good. I didn’t know what colours I wanted so just told the guys there to surprise me. They did everything including the carpet and it only took a week. I’m really happy with it.”
At this point Nas had built himself a very capable E21, complete with M50 power, uprated running gear and a full leather retrim. But as the car continued to improve, Nas realised that the engine installation wasn’t meeting the higher standards set in other areas, primarily because it had been completed in such a short time frame. “It was always supposed to be a temporary installation really, but it ended up staying like that for a year,” Nas says. “So I decided I wanted to do it again and take more time to make it look neat and tidy. I also decided to respray the engine bay at the same time.”
Nas now had a garage to work from at his house, which made things easier, and once the engine was removed he prepped the bay by removing any unsightly holes for a smooth look and painted it himself. However, he still wasn’t satisfied. “The colour match just wasn’t good enough and I noticed some rust beginning to come up around the windscreen and in a few other places, too, so I decided to save up some cash, get it done properly and send it for a full respray.”
To prepare the car Nas stripped it down to its shell, calling in someone to complete the welding. He then painstakingly steam cleaned the underside before treating it to a coat of special underseal rust treatment. With a full rebuild on the cards it just so happened that another engine came up for sale that caught his eye, too: an upgraded 2.8-litre M52 fitted with rare US-spec M3 cams. It didn’t take him long to decide what to do. “The plan had always been to fit a 2.8-litre in the future, so the timing seemed right,” Nas declares. “I took a chance, paid someone in Ireland for an engine I hadn’t seen and crossed my fingers. It was a relief when it arrived a couple of days later on a pallet.”
In preparation for the new power increase a bigger and stronger E12-sourced LSD differential was also fitted whilst Nas bit the bullet and did away with the cumbersome servo setup in favour of a brake bias pedalbox. Although he reports it was a nightmare to fit it did free up some space inside the engine bay. A new sump was modified for ground clearance again and an E36 M3 gearbox was also fitted to replace the previous item.
By now it was October 2012 and it was time to send the car away for paint, as he explains: “I told the sprayer I wanted a show car finish and I knew I wanted to change the colour so I decided on this BMW Individual shade called Champagne Quartz. I saw it on a new 5 Series and loved it as I wanted something with some bronze and gold in it to match the bronze tinted windows and interior.”
With the paint finished the car was put back together with virtually every nut and bolt replaced for a new one along the way. The tanks and all suspension parts were refurbished and powdercoated and with the new engine in place the last thing to change were the wheels. These 16-inch Klutch items, measuring eight inches wide at the front and nine inches at the back, finished off the exterior nicely and offered a wider tyre for some much needed added grip, too. “It’s supposed to be a fast road car and it happens to look good but I always wanted the car to be performance-oriented more than anything else. It goes really well as it doesn’t weigh much and it puts out around 250bhp. Plus it sounds lovely!” Nas tells us.
With talk of taking the car out on track later this year it’s fair to say the project is now complete, although Nas does admit he’s already missing having something to tinker with in his garage. Luckily, a neighbour has just bought an E21 shell to build up so Nas is lending a helping hand now he’s become so used to working on them.
“People say I have an eye for it. I tackle most things and have a go but this car has been a learning curve for me and at the same time I’ve taught myself a lot. I’ve never gone this far with a car and I think I’ve done everything to a good level,” Nas concludes. We reckon that’s a bit of an understatement and if this car is anything to go by his neighbour’s E21 will turn out to be a peach, too. We have a sneaky feeling that it may well be another one with the bite to match the bark if Nas has anything to do with it.
M52 ENGINED #BMW-E21 / #BMW-E21-M52B28
ENGINE & GEARBOX: #M52B28 / #M52 2.8-litre 24-valve straight-six, refurbished, ported and polished head, US-spec M3 camshafts, multilayer steel headgasket, big bore throttle body, #M50 inlet manifold, End Tuning remap, modified E34 sump, custom radiator with a WRC forest-spec core, Spal electric fan, in-tank fuel pump conversion, mandrel bent exhaust system front to rear with heat wrapped manifold, E36 M3 #ZF-gearbox , Z3M short-shift, E30 paddle clutch and lightened M20 flywheel.
CHASSIS: Adjustable #GAZ coilovers all-round, fully adjustable suspension geometry front and rear, E12 LSD differential on modified rear axle, rare #ZF quick rack (2.4 turns) with a custom steering link to clear manifold, Superpro polybushes throughout.
BRAKES: Willwood superlight four-pot callipers, E30 rear callipers with #DS2500 pads, universal #OBP brake bias pedalbox, home-made braided brake lines
WHEELS & TYRES: #Klutch 16x8 and 16x9-inch wheels with Dunlop tyres.
INTERIOR: #BMW-E21 #BMW-323i #Recaro seats retrimmed in Nappa leather with custom-made carpets, #Dakota digital GPS and E28 electronic speedo in standard binnacle, Alpina steering wheel and #AC-Schnitzer gear knob, Richbrook alloy pedals.
EXTERIOR: Restored and resprayed Champagne Quartz metallic, smoothed front valance, body coloured sills, single headlights, de-locked, new chrome bumpers and trim.
THANKS: My dear wife Shaheen, friends and family for helping me out along the way, all at www.bmwe21.net owners’ forum, Mals Customs and Classics for the paintwork (www.mals-customs-classics.co.uk), AH Fabrications (www.ahfabrications.com) for the coolant system, Pitstop Motors (0113 244 1206) for the setup, tyres and random use of a ramp, Zorstec (www.zorstecexhaustsolutions.co.uk) for the exhaust, SG styling (07836 368971) for the interior, Bogg Brothers (www.boggbros.co.uk) for all the fabrication work it carried out and DRIVE-MY site.
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