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    …It’s what you know

    Looking for an #BMW-E34 sump to enable you to drop an #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i engine into an #BMW-E30 ? You might struggle as E34s are rare beasts now and a sump and dipstick kit will make up to 200 quid now, maybe even more. But fear not because the #BMW-E38 / #BMW-728i-E38 sump does the same job – unlike the E39 sump, the oil bulge on the E38 is at the front. The difference is, you’re far more likely to find a time expired 728i in a breaker’s – and they’re so cheap, a complete 728i (single Vanos only) engine will often be the best option – we’ve seen complete running cars for well under £500.

    On the subject of sumps and #BMW-M52 / #BMW-54 engines, don’t be taken in by expensive used M54 units for the #BMW-E60 because the #BMW-E39 unit is to all intents and purposes identical – the sump is the same. E39 engines are half the price though and whilst you’ll need to swap the engine loom over, it’ll fit and work as per the factory. And, a 1998-2000 #BMW-M52TU (double Vanos) from an E39 523i will drop into a pre-2006 E60 520i/525i just fine with that loom and manifold swap whilst a 2.8 from a double Vanos 528i gives a 525i E60 a touch of extra oomph.

    We touched on E90 diffs above – what a pity #BMW cast the iron diff casing on the E46 diff so that the front mounting bolt holes are an inch apart – I can feel an entrepreneurial moment and a nicely made adaptor plate coming on…
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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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    JAMES’ #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 /

    There has been a long hiatus since the last update due to completing my engineering master’s degree! However some progress has been made to my 328i. The main priority was to sort out the gear selection issues and the original clutch. After some detailed investigation, the stiffness in the linkage and the reluctance to engage gears was traced to within the gearbox, so a good used replacement was sourced. It was surprising really as the five-speed #ZF ’box used in the 328i and 3.0 M3 is known to be incredibly strong, but thankfully a replacement was less than £150. At the same time the clutch was replaced, with the old one certainly looking like it would not be good for many more gear changes!

    Another issue that appeared was a rather loud ticking sound from the #M52 lump. It sounded to many trained ears (and even my own!) that the exhaust manifold was leaking, either from a crack or the gasket. However when I tested it with the incredibly scientific ‘piece of tissue near the manifold’ test, there was no movement whatsoever, indicating that gasses were not escaping at all! A rethink was required so I took it down to Rob at Autobahn. After giving the engine a flush and replacing it with fresh high quality oil, the sound had disappeared! It seems most likely that it was a blocked hydraulic lifter, a common occurrence on M52 engines.

    So what is on the to-do list now? Well, really the underside needs stripping, as the factory underseal is starting to come away in places and although the whole underside is very solid, the rear edges of the sills are starting to look a little crusty, so it seems sensible to treat this before it becomes serious. Also having spent a lot of time and money on maintenance, it would be nice to fit some thicker ARBs to complement the coilovers and x-brace as well as uprated ARB bushes as these are looking tired as well.

    THANKS AND CONTACT Autobahn Servicing / www.autobahnservicing.co.uk / 0121 585 9146
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    THE LOST CITY

    A pair of nicely-modded UK E36 Tourings finished in rare Atlantis blue.

    Atlantis blue is a rare colour, so to find two E36 Tourings in the hue and both on the UK’s scene is pretty special – especially when they’ve been modified too. Words: Ben Koflach /// Photos: Gary Hawkins

    If we had to name a car that’s gained a lot of popularity on the modified scene lately it would have to be the E36 Touring. Sure, the Coupé is undoubtedly the king of the modified E36 generation, but the Touring has been finding a stronger following than ever before. The estates, for whatever reason, often seem to be better looked after, and with plenty of engine options available there’s a car out there for everyone. The reason they’ve been getting stronger on the scene, though, is perhaps partly due to these two. The Atlantis blue pair are both quite different despite their shared hue – we found out more about them and their owners, Oliver Ross and Dips Amin.

    Ollie’s #BMW-328i-SE / #BMW-328i-SE-E36

    Of the two Tourings you see before you here, Ollie’s could perhaps be described as the longtermer. He’s had it for almost six years now, and in that time he’s completely transformed it into the ultimate all-rounder.

    Being a family man and needing to use the car every day, it had to do everything well, and he’s certainly achieved that.

    When purchased, the rare Atlantis blue Touring already had some goodies fitted, namely an M Tech front bumper and rubstrips, black kidney grilles and 18” MV2 wheels from an E46. From the factory it had white indicators all-round and a full leather interior with Individual piping, so as you can imagine it looked pretty good to start with!

    As you may have guessed, Ollie had some different plans for it. In the long-term, he knew he had a couple of rust issues to tidy up, but in the meantime he set about changing the rolling stock and improving the 2.8’s soundtrack. Unfortunately Ollie’s first wheel change didn’t exactly go to plan – he managed to source some Schnitzer reps going cheap. Being one of his favourite wheel designs he snapped them up; unfortunately part of the cheapness was due to the fact that he was buying blind. See where this is going?


    Yep, you guessed it – the offset of the wheels was far too low, meaning that they were a completely unviable solution. “I was absolutely gutted!” said Ollie. “Dips PM’d me on the DRIVE-MY forum, saying that he could roll my arches – but I didn’t want that. Dips bought the wheels from me at the price I paid – this was my first dealing with Custom Cars. Most of my work is now done by them, the standard is so high that I will happily travel two hours to get work done there.”

    With the wheels gone to a good home, Ollie just got on with what he could – he had a second-hand custom exhaust sitting around, which he simply had to fit. It actually had upswept #DTM-style tailpipes and posed a few fitting problems; nothing Ollie and a good mate of his couldn’t tackle, however. A couple of the mounting bolts needed tweaking to allow fitment, while the style of the exhaust was also changed. Using an angle grinder the upswept parts of the exhaust were cut off, with the remaining pipes left in a staggered tip formation and finished off with a touch of filing. “I don’t know what brand it is,” Ollie said, “but it’s damn loud!”

    Though understandably happy with the exhaust, Ollie still had that wheel disaster in his mind. It was all about to change, though, as he ordered a set of 8.5x18” #BBS-GT -RS replicas for the Tourer. They look mighty good, as you can see, but there was a series of touches planned for the 2011 season…

    Ollie had been lucky enough to pick up a pair of M3 mirrors, a Raid steering wheel and a few other cool touches, though the main addition was Hottuning coilovers; none of the new parts, however, cost Ollie too much thanks to his various contacts and a keen eye for a deal. Indeed, the same can be said for almost every part of the build.

    A Storm gear knob was sourced soon after, meaning the Touring was treated to quite some makeover. Pressed steel plates were added, too, followed by one of our favourite details on this Touring, colour-coded BBS centre badges, which were sourced through a fellow DRIVE-MY forum member.

    Many of you will have no doubt seen the Touring at shows throughout 2011 but it was in preparation for this year that Ollie really stepped things up a notch…

    As well as a set of M3 side skirts and a rear bumper, Ollie sourced a spoiler, M3 front bumper mesh and intake trumpets. Booked into Custom Cars so that Dips could work his magic, it was also the perfect opportunity for the various small bubbles of rust and other imperfections to be eliminated. The front roundel was removed and smoothed at the same time. Inside, a JVC DVD headunit was added, as well as screens linking to it in the headrests, perfect for keeping the kids happy.

    To keep Ollie happy too, more power was needed to keep his right foot entertained, no matter which pedal it was pushing down on. For the right-hand pedal, the popular M50 manifold conversion was carried out, along with the fitment of a big bore throttle body, while finishing off the under-bonnet appearance is a US M3 engine cover and colour-coded strut brace end plates.

    A recent dyno run over at BW Chiptune suggests that it’s making a very healthy 222.8bhp. And the upgrade for the middle pedal? That’s an E46 330i front brake setup, consisting of 325mm ATE discs (up from 286mm) and beefier calipers than the standard E36 affair.

    Ollie’s final touch, and one that really makes his E36 stand out, is the gold centres on the wheels. Inspired by Robbie Langelier’s BMW E30 3-Series, he had Dips lay down those perfect golden coats, making them really stand out and contrast with the Atlantis blue to great effect.

    Subtly smoked front indicators complete the exterior, while Ollie played a clever trick for the final interior touch. He managed to strike up a deal with a mate of his who happens to be a handy seamstress. Being a cookery teacher by day, he’s pretty good with a stove to say the least, so he baked her a cake in exchange for her redoing the stitching on his gaiters in an Atlantis blue- matching thread – a very neat touch.

    The last addition in the story so far is M3 door sill trims, which are genuine parts he managed to get second-hand from an M3 saloon. “They’re £90 each from the dealers – there was no way I was paying that!” he laughed. They make a perfect addition, especially considering Ollie’s future plans.

    “I’ve wanted to put an M3 engine in for some time,” he said. “It’s become a case of not if but when. Even my kids Megan and Dylan always ask about when I’ll do the M3 conversion – they adore the Touring.”

    Being able to keep the whole family happy is no mean feat, but the fact it’s been managed with this E36, and on a budget, proves that nothing is impossible.

    Dips’ 323i

    In comparison to Ollie’s lengthy build, the time scale of Dips’ Touring is minuscule – it was turned around in just a week! That makes it no less effective mind you. As a serial parts hoarder and a man with all the skills and owner of Custom Cars, this was simply an exercise in turning a standard Tourer into something very effective indeed.

    “I’d spent the show season working on customer’s cars at my company Custom Cars and so hadn’t actually built anything for myself,” Dips told us. “When this Atlantis Touring came up it was just too good to say no – at the time Ollie’s was the only other one on the scene, so once I’d checked he didn’t mind and promised to do it differently, I went to collect it. My good friend Richard Ansari came with me to collect it from Somerset. It only cost £1000 and started as a basic 323i manual – you can’t be fussy if you want a rare colour like Atlantis.”

    With the Players show just around the corner, Dips had his work cut out, and so got straight into turning the Touring into a show-worthy stunner. “The boys down at HTS Motorsport really helped me out – I was so busy with customer cars and rims still that I just didn’t have the space. They were absolutely fundamental in bringing it all together,” Dips revealed.

    The helping hands at HTS kindly fitted the interior you see before you. Dips sourced it on eBay and Sunny at HTS had it fitted after two days of work – to say it looks better than the black cloth previously fitted would be a real understatement. A Storm gear knob, custom gaiters and an M-Tech steering wheel are the only additions other than that extended cream and champagne cow-hide – you’ll probably have noted that even the headliner was swapped.

    “To be honest most of the car was pretty plain sailing,” Dips explained. “It’s actually quite a simple car compared to some of the other projects I’ve had, but everyone seems to love it.” Part of what made it simple was the fact that all of the bodywork, and indeed the wheels, were already in Dips’ collection. But more on that later – there were quite a few steps to be taken before it was ready to be put back together. JOM coilovers were fitted, and the arches were treated to a roll so that they’d be more homely for the planned footwear. The exhaust was also swapped for a full T304 stainless item, including the manifold, which was purchased very cheaply from eBay. “It needed a bit of fabrication work from Sunny to get it fitted perfectly, but it looks and sounds really good,” Dips added. 6000k HIDs, angel eyes and Brembo brake components completed the first part of the makeover – from then on it was time to raid Dips’ hoard and get busy with the paint gun.

    Ultra-rare parts are one of Dip’s speciality, which was fortunate as, after all, he’d promised to go down a different look to Ollie’s Touring and that meant he couldn’t use M3 parts. The route he’s chosen is to use an AC Schnitzer kit, consisting of front and rear bumpers as well as mirrors. He’s after the side skirts to complete the set, but in all honesty it looks good without them.

    Of course, the new parts needed painting to match the Atlantis blue finish, which Dips carried out as well as smoothing the front and rear roundels. “The base car was really good, so we only needed to paint the bits we added, the bonnet, bootlid and lower quarters,” Dips explained. “Kos then spent two days detailing it. We were up until 2am the night before Players to get it ready!”

    The final step was the wheels; classic RH Toplines in 8.5x17” and 10x17” are pretty hard to come by, and with some fairly substantial tyre stretch they’ve been made to fit rather nicely indeed. In fact, the fronts have even been spaced out 15mm to match the boundary-pushing rear fitment.

    “I can’t keep spending money on this Touring – it owes me £5.5k so far, which isn’t too much, but I really need to get on with my other 17 projects!” Dips laughed. Don’t think this is the end of his plans for E36 Tourings, mind you – he’s also got a Sierra red 328i which will be getting some pretty spectacular treatment in the coming months.

    This one may have had a quick turnaround, but it’s fair to say it looks spectacular – whist keeping it distinctively different look to Ollie’s – Dips certainly kept his promise.

    By themselves these Tourings look stunning, but together they’re even better.

    Custom stitching and Champagne leather – a nice combination!

    DATA FILE #BMW-E36 / #BMW-E36-Touring / #BMW-325i-E36 / #BMW-325i-Touring-E36 / #BMW-325i-Touring / #BMW-325i / #BBS

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 2.5-litre straight-six #M52B25 , custom painted covers, full T307 stainless steel exhaust including headers. Standard transmission with short-shift kit

    CHASSIS: 8.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) RH Toplines shod in 205/40 and 235/35 Falken tyres respectively, 15mm front spacer. JOM coilovers. #Brembo discs and pads all-round

    EXTERIOR: #AC-Schnitzer front bumper, AC Schnitzer rear bumper, AC Schnitzer electric mirrors, front numberplate blank, smoked front and side indicators, smoked foglights, all-red rear lights, bonnet and bootlid debadged, M3 rubstrips (colour-coded), 6000k HIDs and angel eyes

    INTERIOR: Extended cream/champagne leather interior, black leather gaiters with custom blue stitching, dog guard, Storm gear knob, #M-Tech steering wheel

    THANKS: Custom Cars, HTS Motorsport, Jason at BW Chiptune, Kos for the detail work before every show and shoot, all the forum boys and girls for the support and all the boys for their running around

    Ollie’s aim to keep the whole family happy has been met thanks to his series of mods.

    DATA FILE #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-328i-Touring-E36 / #BMW-328i-Touring / #BMW-328i /

    ENGINE: 2.8-litre straight-six #M52B28 / #M52 / #BMW-M52 , #M50 manifold conversion, big-bore throttle body, debaffled airbox, US M3 engine cover, stainless steel cat-back exhaust with customized tips. Five-speed manual gearbox, short-shifter

    CHASSIS: 8.5x18” #BBS-GT-RS replica wheels with polished lips and gold centres, gold valve caps and custom centre caps, 225/40 Falken 452s. Hottuning coilovers. E46 330i front brake conversion with #ATE discs and Pagid pads, OEM rear brakes

    EXTERIOR: M3 front bumper, M3 mesh with colourcoded air trumpets, M3 splitter, M3 rear bumper, rear diffuser adapted to fit exhaust, M3 side skirts, M3 electric mirrors, M3 bumpstrips, debadged bonnet, gloss black kidney grilles, smoked front indicators

    INTERIOR: Standard black leather with Individual Atlantis blue piping, Raid steering wheel, Storm Motorwerks gear knob, custom stitching on gaiters, M3 sill covers

    THANKS: Dips and Kos and Damien at Tyreweb in Ashford, Eleanor from work and all the guys on the #Drive-My and e36coupe forums but ultimately to Lucy (wife) and Megan and Dylan (kids) for their time and patience
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    AMERICAN AT HEART
    A supercharged #LS1 has created a monster of an E36. Whilst many E36 owners might dream of M3 straight-six or M5 V8 conversions, Ian Sutton has gone down a whole different route by fitting a supercharged LS1 V8… Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Gary Hawkins.

    Engine options on the E36 from the factory were fairly plentiful – from the 102bhp 1.6-litre M40 to the 321bhp 3.2-litre S50 M3 Evo powerplant, BMW had it pretty well covered. But for some people – especially once you start talking modified car owners – too much is never enough, and we’re seeing E46 M3 straight-six, E39 M5 V8 and even some E60 M5 V10 conversions taking place more and more often. But while Bavarian horsepower is all well and good, why not think out of the box?

    The General Motors LS-series of engines, or #Crate-V8 s as they’re often known, are a common choice for those wanting a simple, effective and proven way of reliable horsepower. There’s simply no denying it – there’s no replacement for displacement – and these engines are being seen fitted to all manner of cars, from Corvettes to Camaros, trucks to 4x4s, and (most importantly in this story) even the Holden Monaro, otherwise sold as the Vauxhall Monaro and Pontiac GTO. Far from the small block Chevrolet V8 many people seem to mix it up with, most LS engines have an all-aluminium construction, fuel injection, and are generally a far more modern proposal than you might think. And considering their displacement, they’re pretty compact units too.


    Rewind just over five years, and you’d find BMW technician Ian Sutton thinking just the same – why doesn’t someone put the well-proven LS engine into an E36? He had the first part of the recipe, an E36 328i Sport, already, which he’d bought when he finished his apprenticeship at Coventry BMW and used for a couple of years before the Yank engine idea came up. Ian is also lucky enough to have a good friend who specialises in breaking the aforementioned Holden/Vauxhall Monaro, so you can see where the inspiration came from.

    Ian’s engine of choice was the 5.7-litre LS1 from early Monaros, his in fact coming from the US-spec Pontiac GTO. And once it was in his hands it was time to get to work.

    Not wanting to risk damaging his 328i in the process, he bought another one from work to use as a test shell for all the fabrication that would be involved. It was separated from its engine and the bay removed of all its clutter. Ian makes it sound so simple, but the next step was to hoist the GM V8 into the position he wanted it to sit and then fabricate mounts on the E36’s crossmember to suit – albeit after a bit of sump alteration to get it to fit behind the crossmember. At the same time it seemed the perfect opportunity to baffle it to avoid oil starvation during hard cornering. With the sump being off at that time, Ian decided to replace the standard con rod bolts with ARP items for added strength and durability.

    With that done and the engine positioning perfected, the gearbox mounts could be fabricated, and stage one of the build was complete. Of course, the engine and gearbox weren’t hooked up to anything other than each other, but at least they were positioned in the car.

    A full M3 Evo rear axle was to be used, so as with any engine transplant of this kind, a custom propshaft had to be manufactured first. Custom gear linkage was also created so that the gearstick could remain in the original position in the cockpit while governing the Tremec T56 six-speed gearbox from the Pontiac. Not content with leaving it standard though, Ian fitted a lightweight Spec aluminium flywheel, LS7 clutch, XRP braided clutch line and a GMM Ripshifter for faster revving and shifting.

    Around the same time, Ian’s Monarobreaking friend was over in Australia and had got talking to Scotty at Capa Superchargers, which is well known Down Under for offering forced induction for many different cars, including the Holden Monaro. It didn’t take long for Ian to be convinced, and before he knew it, the Vortech-based ’charger kit was sitting on his doorstep.

    Adding a whole new dimension to the build, it was soon discovered that the supercharger simply wasn’t going to fit the E36’s relatively narrow engine bay – not with the standard supercharger bracket anyway. With the help of good friend Gary, and with Ian having been part-trained as an engineer before becoming a mechanic, a plan was made, and the pair got straight on with measuring up the engine and bay (a painstaking process in itself, making sure all the pulleys lined up absolutely perfectly), then designing thier own bracketry for a variety of the components and having a local engineer construct it from billet aluminium. To keep the whole lot cool, Ian had Allisport fabricate the radiator, intercooler and oil cooler to his specifications, which all sit just behind the front bumper.

    The exhaust was yet another challenge, as not only did it need to take the gases from the V8 as efficiently as possible, it was a pretty tight squeeze between the E36’s chassis legs, too. The only solution was to go custom, and Wye Valley Garage – where the project spent much of its time – was able to help. A fully TIG-welded stainless steel exhaust system from the manifolds to the tailpipes is the result of their hard work, and we have to say it looks absolutely perfect, and the silencers are repackable too. Finishing off the installation itself is an almost headache-inducingly well planned combination of parts. From the custom power steering fluid tank (with a #BMW cap mind you), to the E46 M3 header tank, OEM (but not necessarily 328i, in case you start thinking this is the easy bit) hoses that can be found all around the engine bay, to the XRP aeroquip fuel and oil lines used throughout, it doesn’t lack in attention to detail. Such was Ian’s quest to make it all look as factory as possible, he’s even used OEM BMW hose clips rather than Jubilees! When the time came to move the engine, gearbox, supercharger, exhaust, crossmember and gearbox mounts over to his prized E36 – he wasn’t going to do it by halves either.

    They say a picture tells a thousand words, but let me tell you, even a thousand pictures couldn’t tell the story of just how immaculate this E36 is; Ian has rebuilt it bolt-for-bolt, using new components throughout, and powdercoating every part he could. You name it, it’s been uprated, replaced, or painted. The M3 Evo rear subframe and axle, M3 Evo front wishbones and hubs and brakes all-round, all new bushes, balljoints, links, Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, Eibach anti-roll bars… the list goes on. And it’s not just the underside that’s better than new, the bodywork is too, thanks to a bare metal respray. It really is astonishing, and it perhaps is only justified by seeing it in the metal.

    Fuelling and management was dealt with surprisingly simply – being an engine so popular for transplants, especially over the Pond, management solutions are very well catered for. First, the ECU was sent over to Capa to be unlocked, having all of its security limitations taken off and being given a base map on HP Tuners software. To match the airflow that the supercharger was bringing to the table, a Walbro fuel pump rated to 255 litres per hour pushes the fuel through a Fuel Lab filter and adjustable fuel pressure regulator, before being flung into the engine by 42lb injectors. It’s certainly a promising sounding combination.

    Rolling stock duties are put to #BBS LM replicas – Ian had originally wanted black centres with a polished lip, but there were differences between the 8.5”- and 9.5”-wide variants, so he went for all black rims with a subtle red line around the edges, and measuring 19” in diameter. The rest of the styling is a very much OEM affair, with a combination of M3 GT components, AC Schnitzer mirrors and subtle rebadging; the front and rear roundels having been swapped for carbon items, while the side rub strip badges – which Ian had custom-made by a local signwriter – now read supercharged.

    One of the final steps was the interior, which Ian wanted kept as stock as possible. Again, nothing but the best would do, so perfect black leather and as little clue as possible as to what engine lies beneath. M3 gauges are cleverly hooked up to work with the new engine, made possible by the HP Tuners software, and to keep a really close eye on what’s going on underneath the bonnet, Ian’s installed a trio of Autometer gauges in the centre console, monitoring oil pressure, fuel pressure and boost. Not only are they installed neatly, but Ian took a long time researching to find a range of gauges that matched the factory orange lighting so as not to look out of place – his attention to detail really is mind-blowing.


    The car made it’s debut at Santa Pod last year with great success, and on the strip it managed a 12.7 quarter-mile at 110mph – impressive, especially considering it was on a base map, and Ian was taking it easy. Of course he was keen to have it fully mapped to see what it could do, though, and John Sleath Racing was put in charge of the mapping, and the results were mightily impressive. A peak of 530.4bhp is only half the story – 550lb ft of torque is the kind of figure hardly any tuned BMW engine can boast, and especially not delivered in the same effortless way as the ’charged LS1, making it the ideal road car.

    While the engine may not be a traditional choice for an E36, Ian’s more than proved it’s a good one. With power and torque in abundance, as well as an incredible V8 soundtrack, an overall feel of OEM quality (and then some!) and increased driveability and performance, he’s really shown that it doesn’t have to be a BMW engine to feel original. So the purists may hate it, but there’s no denying that it’s incredible. If for some reason BMW had made its own LS1- powered E36, I can’t help but think it would struggle to beat the perfection that Ian has struck upon. Thinking out of the box? Pah, he’s blown it to bits.

    DATA FILE #Vortech / #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-328Ci / #BMW-328Ci-E36 / #BMW-E36-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-E36-V8 / #BMW-E36-LS1 / #BMW-E36-GM-LS1 / #GM / #BMW / #Tremec /

    ENGINE: 5.7-litre #V8 #GM-LS1 / , #Vortech-V2 supercharger, #ARP con rod bolts, custom #ZF-PAS pump and mounting bracket, custom billet aluminium supercharger bracket and auto tensioner, custom baffled oil pan, #Earls-Performance oil thermostat, #Allisport custom front mount oil cooler, radiator, PAS tank with #BMW cap, front mount intercooler and pipework and oil catch tank, E46 M3 header tank, #Vortech-Maxiflow blow-off valve, 42lb injectors, #Walbro 255l/h fuel pump, #Fuel-Lab fuel filter and adjustable fuel pressure regulator, #XRP-Aeroquip fuel and oil lines, custom front cross member and engine mounts, custom fully TIG-welded exhaust including manifolds and repackable silencers, custom engine wiring harness, GM ECU with 2bar map and fully remappable HP Tuners software

    TRANSMISSION: #Tremec-T56 six-speed gearbox, custom gearbox mounts, Spec lightweight aluminium flywheel, LS7 clutch, custom propshaft, #XRP clutch lines and remote bleeder, #GMM-Ripshifter with custom gear lever, full E36 M3 Evo rear axle

    CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) #BBS-LM replicas shod in 225/40 and 265/30 Falken FK452s respectively. Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, #Eibach anti-roll bars, M3 Evo front wishbones and hubs, AC Schnitzer carbon front strut brace, custom lower strut brace, Z3 M quick steering rack; full nut and bolt rebuild including all new bushes, balljoints and links with all new components powdercoated. E36 M3 Evo brakes all-round (315mm discs front, 312mm discs rear) with Performance Friction pads all-round and XRP braided lines

    EXTERIOR: Full bare metal respray in original Arctic silver, face-lift nose cone, M3 Evo front splitter, M3 GT corner splitters and M3 bumper mesh, M3 GT two-piece rear spoiler, AC Schnitzer mirrors, carbon fibre front and rear roundels, supercharged badges in rubstrips

    INTERIOR: OEM full black leather interior, #AC-Schnitzer short shift gear knob, E36 M3 clocks with oil temperature gauge, #Autometer boost, fuel pressure and oil pressure gauges, Alpine CDA 105 RI head unit

    THANKS: www.wyevalleygarage.co.uk for the exhaust, fabrication, workspace and storage (01989 565001), www.lsxv8.co.uk for LS spares and conversions, Allisport (01452 751187), Scotty at Capa Superchargers (006 1885 823499), John Sleath Racing for the mapping (07976 751742), Nic J Racing (07970 192715), Gaz, Slim and Zip, Sytner BMW Birmingham Parts Department

    Ian and the friends that have helped him make it look easy – modifying and baffling the sump and fabricating engine mounts, the exhaust and the supercharger bracket as well as many other parts. There’s also the tuning itself to consider, with the lightened flywheel and other uprated transmission components,
    the supercharger and intercooler, and of course all the pipework and hoses, which all look OEM. A dimple had to be made in the inner wing to fit the ’charger too.

    Combine that with practically rebuilding the entire car with everything renewed and powdercoated, and you can see what makes the car quite so amazing.

    Other than the noise, the average passenger wouldn’t know the difference.
    Unshakeable power – 5.7 supercharged American litres worth of it in fact – oof!
    There’s simply no denying it – there’s no replacement for displacement.
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    PERFECT EXAMPLE #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-328Ci / #BMW-328Ci-E36 / #BMW-E36-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe /

    This full-on E36 328i combines aggressive styling with serious turbocharged performance. Many have tried, and many have failed. The quest for the perfect modified #BMW is an arduous one, but our US contributor thinks he may just have found it. Words & Photos: Eric Eikenberry.

    In the days of yore, men of differing opinions used to gather in remote locations to shout vociferously at one another, clash shield upon shield, sword upon sword, all in the name of settling the score. In today’s infinitely more modern arenas, the shields and swords have been discarded in favour of wings and air dams, ICE and carbon fibre. The battle cry is far different too. ‘JDM’ or ‘DTM’. Where do your allegiances lie? If you’ve picked up this magazine, that choice is pretty clear. As such, we present to you your champion, Ryan Castro’s #1997 E36 328i. All hail your king!

    At a recent JDM-DTM shootout held in California, Ryan not only laid to rest the JDM dragon, he also captured an overall show trophy for Best Modified. With his comprehensive and well thought out modifications, not only is this ride an incredible showpiece, it packs the punch necessary to decimate its rivals on the strip or track.

    Ryan has a dream job that allows him a great deal of leeway in his choice of transportation. Sure, it’s not as grand as what us motoring journalists do for a living – testing cars for you, our readers – but still it’s the tops. Ryan is one-third owner of DP Engineering (www.dpengineering.cc). This means he gets to play with forged wheels all day long – just like the wheels you see here on this car.

    These gorgeous 8.5x19” and 10x19” two-piece, fully-forged R06VS beauties are produced by DP Engineering, and are wearing 235/35 and 275/35 Falken Azenis rubber. The black anodised centres are polished to a high gloss. Since he prefers the deep-dish look, the fronts feature a 3” lip, while the rears sprout a staggering 5” shelf.

    Tucked away inside are front and rear Brembos, silver-painted and the size of dinner plates. 15” cross-drilled front rotors ride on floating pins, while 11.6” rear rotors are gripped by two-pot, lightweight calipers; fronts by four-pot F50 units. Looking a bit further under the car reveals a KW Variant II coilover suspension setup and Racing Dynamics roll-bars. These six-way adjustable suspenders, with ride comfort adjustment, ensure that Ryan gets the look he wants without the need to keep his chiropractor’s number on speed-dial.

    Helping him achieve that look is the überrare (here in the US) Esquiss’ Rafale Widebody kit with carbon fibre inserts. Very subtle E30 M3-style flares are combined seamlessly with wild arches to cover the massive wheel/tyre combo. Over the top of that Ryan laid the BMW Chrome Shadow concept paint. This trick paint is composed of a base layer which is black, while the top layer is ultra-smooth silver. In full sunlight, the finish is like a pewter-coloured mirror.

    At night, it becomes a dark grey. “I wanted the car to have a clean, classic look that would always be in fashion,” he explained. “Kind of like an Armani suit, it will always look good.”

    But what would any good suit be without the additional accessories to top it off? Browsing through the supplied spec sheet, we wondered if it would be easier to just list the items Ryan didn’t modify! The emblems have all been shaved and there are carbon fibre mirrors, side skirt inserts, front splitter and rear wing. There’s a custom roof spoiler, bonnet vents, E46 headlight eyebrows and an aviation-style fuel filler cap. A set of Kool Kustoms E46 M3 painted mouldings and M-Tech side mouldings complete the look, while Euro Clear’s custom smoked clear marker lights fill the corners. On top of all of this, there are no windscreen wipers! Clearly, this is a testament to the car’s enviable Southern California residence.

    Ducking one’s head inside provides a plethora of extravagant eye candy in every direction. We particularly liked the Blitz DC turbo, oil pressure, and temperature gauges mounted directly to the windshield and cabled to a Blitz Live Unit controller. Just like on the outside of the car, if you can find an original part here, we’ll give you a big pat on the back.

    Like the rest of the interior, the front Cobra Sidewinder fully adjustable seats have been retrimmed in grey and black with red trim by Kreative Interiors. Wedge Engineering seat rails ensure a safe place to park one’s bum while Sabelt three-point safety harnesses keep you there during even the most hair-brained manoeuvres.

    A custom chrome, four-point roll-cage helps to stiffen the already rigid BMW coupé’s chassis. Carbon fibre again abounds, noticeable in the dash, gauge surrounds, gauge rings, airbag lid, centre console, door inserts and rear panels. Not to be outdone, aluminium puts on a good show as the BMW gear knob, UUC pedals and left footrest, UUC handbrake handle, and custom diamond-plate Legend 5 floor mats are all made of the polished metal. Ryan’s hands grip a Momo Champion steering wheel during the rare occasions he actually gets to drive this stunning ride to the local McDonald’s.

    Where a rear seat once resided, there’s a chromed Nitrous Oxide bottle and two 12” Massive Audio subs. Naturally, they’re mounted in a carbon fibre enclosure. In fact, there’s so much of the stuff in this one car we’re afraid Ryan’s driven the price of the world’s supply to a new peak!

    The centre console is home to a 7” NESA screen, and there are even Game Port plug-ins for Ryan’s favourite video games. A Pioneer DEH-840MP DVD/VCD/MP3 head unit drives the tunes to the three 600W Massive Amps amplifiers and the Diamond HEX 500 S components.

    Hidden somewhere are two Optima Blue Top batteries and two 1.5-farad Massive capacitors. Ryan’s also installed a High Tech RV Isolator to keep the current clean and noise-free. In the boot, his carbon fibre (yes, still more) amp rack is topped by custom Plexiglass amp surrounds lit by glowing blue neon.
    Of course, all of this show gear would barely be enough to turn heads here in the States if there was no power backing it up. A wise man would think twice before picking on this car in a drag race. A polished Turbonetics 60-1 T3/T4 Turbocharger boosts the 328’s engine into orbit, placing 430hp on the tarmac at the rear wheels.

    Carbon fibre and polished aluminium again rule supreme, providing a wicked silver/black appearance throughout the compartment. The fully custom Stage 2 turbo setup utilises an Aquamist water/alcohol injection system, a Blitz SBC-iD sequential boost controller, along with an HKS Super-Sequential blow-off valve and a Turbonetics Deltagate external wastegate to keep the hyped-up airflow under tight control.

    The Nitrous Express Stage 2 kit purges the intercooler while a high flow fuel pump, boostsensitive fuel pressure regulator and RC Engineering 35lb injectors feed the beast.

    Billetwerks black anodised engine caps keep all fluids in their intended locations. The DME is reprogrammed and there’s a Euro mass airflow meter, and yet, surprisingly, the car remains emissions-legal as far as expelling gases is concerned.

    Speaking of exhaust, Ryan had a custom 3” piping system constructed with a custom race muffler and Borla carbon fibre tips. It seems that he has a CF fetish (Nothing to be ashamed of ~ Ed): Vortiel CF engine cover and fuel rail cover, CF fusebox cover, and a CF radiator cover ensure that the entire compartment is appropriately dressed. Sun Auto supplied its Hyper Ground and Hyper Voltage systems, keeping the current flow more than adequate. Ryan is even planning a Standalone ECU upgrade in just the next few days.

    The car’s original five-speed transmission (one of the few non-modified items on the car) is in fact surrounded by helpful bits. A UUC short-shifter keeps the gears on target while Delrin bushing hold it securely in place. Redline synthetic lube swishes around inside, keeping the gears happy under the abuse dished out by the motor. The rear differential has been upgraded to a limited-slip item with 3.15:1 ring and pinion. A UUC aluminium 8.5lb racing flywheel and a 1993-95 M5 clutch ensure that horsepower isn’t needlessly wasted.

    In the end, is it indeed a rolling Armani suit? Let’s crunch the facts and see. Classic pre-Bangle Germanic good looks? Check. Tasteful accessories integrated flawlessly into the package? Check. Outrageously good-looking black shoes? Check. An ICE system so intense it could host movie premieres? Check. Rocket-ship acceleration and ‘hand of God’ braking? Check. Yep, it’s the real deal. If Armani made clothing for Robocop, this is probably what it would look like, and that has Ryan’s JDM competition running scared.

    “not only is this ride an incredible showpiece, it packs the punch to decimate its rivals on the strip or track”

    DATA FILE / #Turbonetics / #Turbonetics-60-1-T3 / #Turbonetics-Deltagate / #Apexi-GTR / #M52B28 / #BMW-M52 / #M52 / #M52-Turbonetics / #DP-Engineering /

    ENGINE: 2.8-litre six-cylinder with polished #Turbonetics 60-1 T3/T4 turbocharger, Turbonetics Deltagate external wastegate, #HKS super sequential blow-off valve, HKS Type I turbo timer, #Blitz SBC-iD sequential boost controller, polished AA intake elbow, custom turbo manifold, chromed downpipe and intercooler piping, polished #Apexi GTR intercooler, Turbonetics custom end tanks, #RC-Engineering 35lb injectors, custom #K&N turbo intake. Custom Aquamist water-alcohol injection kit, #Nitrous-Express-Stage-2 kit for custom intercooler purge, NX bottle warmer. NGK race plugs, high flow fuel pump, boost sensitive fuel pressure regulator, HKS air/fuel ratio control, Vortiel carbon engine cover and fuel rail cover, carbon fusebox and radiator cover, Euro mass airflow meter, BMP oil filter cooling fins, reprogrammed DME, custom race exhaust with carbon fibre #Borla tips, 3” racing exhaust piping, Billetwerks black anodised engine caps, Sun Auto hyper ground system and hyper voltage system. Standard five-speed manual with UUC short-shifter, Delrin bushings, Redline fluids. Upgraded LSD to 3.15, UUC aluminium 8.5lb lightweight flywheel, E34 M5 clutch, custom tranny mounts

    PERFORMANCE: 430bhp at the rear wheels

    CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) #DP-Engineering-R06VS alloys with 3” lip (front) and 5” lip (rear) shod in 235/35 and 275/30 Falken Azenis tyres respectively. #KW-Variant-II coilovers with ride comfort adjustment and six-way height adjustment, Racing Dynamics sway bars and strut tower bar. 15” #Brembo four-pot brakes (front) and 11.5” two-pot brakes (rear) with silver calipers all-round, cross-drilled rotors, stainless steel brake lines, Brembo pads, racing DOT 5 brake fluid

    EXTERIOR: Full Esquiss’ Rafale Widebody kit with carbon fibre pieces painted in Chrome Shadow #BMW concept paint, carbon fibre mirrors, side skirt inserts, front splitter, roof spoiler and bonnet vents. Fibreglass inner wheel wells, E46-style headlight eyebrows, de-badged, aviation-style fuel filler cap, Kool Kustoms E46 M3-style painted mouldings, M-Tech side mouldings, de-wipered. Euro front clear lights and side repeaters, custom smoked rear lights, 4300K HID low beams, custom H7 foglights, angel eyes with fibre-optic lighting, Showoff Krypton bulbs, H1 high beams

    INTERIOR: Full Kreative Interiors interior retrim in grey/black with red trim, two Cobra Sidewinder fully adjustable seats, Wedge Engineering seat rails, #MOMO Champion steering wheel, custom four-point roll-cage, Sabelt three-point safety harnesses. Carbon fibre dash, gauge surround, airbag lid, centre console, door inserts and rear panels, silver gauges, chrome gauge rings, custom painted centre console, BMW OEM aluminium gear knob, UUC pedals, clutch stop and handbrake handle, Legend 5 aluminium chequerplating floor mats, Blitz DC turbo, pressure and temperature gauges, Blitz live unit

    ICE: 7” Nesa monitor, Pioneer DEH840MP, DVD/VCD/MP3 player, pair of Massive Audio 12” subs, 3x600W Massive amps, Diamond mid-bass, Diamond HEX 500S components, pair of Massive farad capacitors, pair of Optima Blue-Top batteries, High Tech RV isolator, game port plug-ins, custom carbon fibre box enclosure and amp rack, custom Plexiglass amp surrounds, blue neon lighting, Accessories 12V transformer, sandblasted ‘Kinetix’ sign-board

    “I wanted the car to have a classic look that would always be in fashion; like an Armani suit, it will always look good”
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    LOW PROFILE
    With countless subtle mods, this is one smooth E36 Cab. Everyone modifies E36s but it takes dedication and a keen eye for detail to build one that’s packed with as many subtle yet significant tweaks as this one. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Richardson.

    The E36 really is the perfect BMW when it comes to modifying. Think about it: it’s cheap, there are plenty to choose from, and the selection of aftermarket upgrades is truly unsurpassed. If you want to build yourself a modified E36 project car, you are spoiled for choice on all fronts and you can really go to town. But, and herein lies the rub, because of all these factors, building a car that stands out from the crowd is much more of a challenge; it requires dedication to take your E36 the extra mile. Luckily for us, Tony Munn (@M2onys on Instagram) has dedication in spades which means we can share his lovely bagged E36 Cab with you…

    “I’ve always been into modifying,” Tony begins. He went through numerous cars in his youth; however, the responsibilities of adulthood eventually caught up with him and a house purchase put an end to his carbuying ways. Fortunately, you can’t keep a good man down. “After a little while, I decided I wanted something nice so I saved up and bought this in 2004,” Tony continues. “It’s a 1994 E36 328i with a manual gearbox, which is exactly what I wanted, and I bought it completely standard. I drove a few M3s but the insurance was much higher and I felt the 328 drove better. The hardest part was finding a manual, it took me three months of searching.


    “My plan was to just have a nice car and not do anything to it, but then came the wheels. I bought a set of 18” E46 M3 reps because they fitted but with them on the car looked a bit high, so I started looking at springs…” We all know where this is going! “In the end I decided to go for a set of Eibach coilovers instead of just some springs and then I decided to get the paint done. The car was tidy but there were a few dents and nicks and a bit of rust so I wanted to get it looking like new. Then came the decision to do some smoothing.”

    Here is where we start getting into the details that set Tony’s car apart from the myriad modified E36s out there, details that you might not notice at first glance, subtle tweaks that make a big difference to the overall look of the car. Tony had the bonnet badge, washer jets, boot badge and lock, and fuel filler all smoothed. The aerial and locks have been deleted while the numberplate mounts to the front bumper via magnets, meaning it can be quickly and easily removed at shows for a super-clean front end. The whole car looks incredibly clean and smooth as a result.

    “I wasn’t sure if I should colour-code the trims,” Tony says. “I had to make a decision over the phone with my painter. I said ‘yes’ and I’m glad I did,” he smiles. We agree, the smoothed elements of the body work really well with the silver trim strips around the whole car. The door handles have also been colour-coded for that finishing touch, eliminating all traces of black trim from the exterior, while the standard mirrors have been replaced with a sleeker-looking pair of AC Schnitzer items.


    “I stuck with the original Arctic silver colour but with a House of Kolor lacquer,” explains Tony. “As a result it looks slightly different to factory Arctic silver.” And while some cars can look uninspiring in silver, here the colour really suits this E36 and works perfectly with Tony’s approach to modifying the car, as he explains: “When I started modifying the E36 I thought to myself ‘if BMW was modifying a car, how would it do it?’ I then applied that concept to all the styling on the car, keeping it subtle, OE but with a difference.”

    With fresh paint and a raft of subtle visual tweaks, Tony needed to up his wheel game as those E46 M3 reps just weren’t going to cut it anymore. “I’d wanted a set of splitrims for ages,” he says, “and these kept coming and going on eBay. In the end I managed to get them with tyres and they’d had a full refurb.” Patience most definitely paid off here then. The wheels are OZ Futuras, ET13 8.5x17s all-round and while the fronts went on okay, the rear arches required some rolling before the wheels would fit. As you can see, Tony’s also dialled-in a fair amount of camber via the adjustable rear camber arms he’s fitted. “People always ask me how long my tyres last,” he laughs.

    Arguably the biggest modification was the move from coilovers to air-ride, and that only happened last year in fact. “I bumped into a young guy with a brown Merc on air from the hangar at Players. It turned out he only lives up the road from me and he’s part of the Gütenstance Kent club, which was started up last year. I joined the club and the fact that most of the members are on air must have rubbed off on me,” he chuckles. “I decided to bite the bullet and go for it but I didn’t want to spend a fortune. I got the Air Lift bag and struts from Neil at Carbon Motive in Sittingbourne and went for an Air Zenith compressor, which is more expensive but you only need one. I built the rest myself and went for a manual system following the advice of the Gütenstance guys, as it’s cheaper and I couldn’t justify the cost of a digital setup.” The single compressor and air tank have been neatly installed in the boot by Tony, tucked out of the way and leaving plenty of usable space boot space. “I love the air-ride,” he adds, “and it drives better now than it did on coilovers.”

    The analogue controls for the air-ride have been neatly and discreetly integrated into the cabin and, as with the exterior, the interior, with its unusual but extremely nice dark blue leather and accompanying upholstery, has had a lot of work done to it, even though you might not even realise it at first! The trio of air pressure gauges, with their white dials and silver bezels, sit in a carbon-wrapped panel located beneath the MID panel on the lower dash while the switches that control the front and rear suspension have been hidden away in the ashtray – a neat touch. The rather lovely brushed stainless steel gear knob (which is mounted to a Z3 short-shift kit), handbrake and window switches all come from Storm Motorwerks and Tony’s made his own hazard light switch, door lock buttons and door pins to match. There’s a snap-off Momo Race steering wheel and what you can’t see is the fact that all the interior lighting is now blue. “That was a bit of a mission. I did it a long time ago and it was a lot of work,” Tony admits. We think it was definitely worth it as it is original and co-ordinates with the seats’ blue leather.


    This E36 is not all about styling, though, as under the bonnet the M52B28 has a tuning potential that would be a shame not to tap into. As a result, Tony’s custom fitted a K&N cone filter and a Supersprint de-cat pipe which connects to a Scorpion stainless steel exhaust system. He’s even got plans to fit an M50 inlet manifold and big bore throttle body to squeeze every last bit of available performance from that beefy straight-six, which sounds absolutely glorious thanks to the unrestricted exhaust system.

    Talk turns to life after the E36 but this is one car that is always going to remain a part of the Munn family, as Tony explains: “I’ve had the car for 11 years now and there’s no point selling it. I mean, how much is it worth? And, more importantly, what could I possibly replace it with? The only time I offered to sell it was when I was getting married but my wife told me to stop being silly. When we had our daughter I SORN’d it for a couple of years but otherwise it’s always getting used.

    “Very occasionally I wish I’d done an M3,” he muses, “but mainly because of the value. I’m not that into performance; I’m not fussed about driving fast. I’d rather be seen!”

    Despite all the work that’s gone into the car, Tony’s not finished with it just yet. “This car will never be finished,” he chuckles. “After owning it for 11 years I am still playing with it. I’ve got an M3 rear bumper, but I’m not sure if that will fit with the rest of the styling as I like the smooth look. I definitely want to remove the parking sensor strip, though, along with the repeaters and I want to fill in the front bumper trim strip where the numberplate used to be. I’ve been away from the scene for years, and I want to keep doing my own thing. I built the car for myself, not for anyone else, and I want to keep the car, and keep enjoying it, for as long as I can.”

    DATA FILE #Air-ride #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i-Convertible / #BMW-328i-Convertible-E36 / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-328i / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW / #BMW-328i-Convertible-Air-ride / #BMW-328i-Convertible-Air-ride-E36 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.8-litre straight-six #M52B28 / #BMW-M52 / #M52 , #K&N cone filter, #Supersprint decat, Scorpion stainless steel exhaust, Z3 M quick-shift, five-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 8.5x17” ET13 (front and rear) #OZ-Futura / #OZ three-piece split-rims with 205/40 (front) and 225/35 (rear) tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance / #Air-Lift front struts and rear bags, custom-made manual air-ride management, adjustable rear camber arms

    EXTERIOR De-badged front and rear, washer jet delete, aerial delete, fuel flap smoothed, smoothed #AC-Schnitzer mirrors, front numberplate delete, de-locked, fully colour-coded in Arctic silver and House of Kolor lacquer, rolled rear arches

    INTERIOR Storm Motorwerks stainless steel gear knob, handbrake and electric window switches, custommade stainless steel hazard switch and door pins, full blue LED dash lights, snap off Momo Race steering wheel, dash mounted air-pressure gauges

    THANKS My wife Claire and daughter Evie for everything, Neil at Carbon Motive for supplying the air-ride, Ben for Paint, Arron at Kent Automotive for Advice, Auto Perfection for cleaning products, all the boys at Gütenstance for keeping me motivated
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    JAMES’ #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW

    The main development since my last report has been on the car’s bodywork. The entire front end of my 328 has been resprayed, so the extensive stone chips seen on the bonnet and front bumper, along with the grille panel rust, are now a thing of the past. Rust removal has also been undertaken on the door edges and on the rear arches. Now only strong steel remains. Also both front and rear wheel arches have been rolled in order to enable the Schnitzers to fit a little more comfortably in the arches with the 12mm spacer required to clear the Eibach coilovers at the front. Long-term this should also allow the fitment of some lovely lightweight Apex ARC-8 wheels (when funds allow!).


    The finish now looks superb and all of the paintwork has been seamlessly blended into the rest of the bodywork, which is a testament to the effort that Jack at Bodytone put into the car. The arches now look factory fresh and you’d never know that they have been rolled, which was exactly the look we were hoping to achieve. Now all I have to do to keep it looking like this is to dodge the gritters!

    I have been driving an E90 330d while my 328 was at Bodytone and despite the 330d’s immense capability, getting my 328 back reminded me how much fun it is and why I’m happy to invest time and money in it! However, getting back behind the wheel of my 328 also highlighted that the gear selection problems present before the car went to Bodytone had not gone away! Thus the clutch and gearbox linkages will be investigated to find the root cause. The clutch is most likely original to the car and after 142,000 miles it has definitely seen better days, so will need replacement anyway. At the same time it would be sensible to remove the dual mass flywheel and convert to a solid lightened flywheel, so I’d better start saving!

    THANKS AND CONTACT Bodytone / www.bodytone.co.uk / 01344 307207 / Autobahn Servicing / www.autobahnservicing.co.uk / 0121 585 9146
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    PAUL’S #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW /

    There is a theory in motorsport that the stiffer a shell on a car is, the more effective the suspension beneath it will become.

    Take a look inside any competition motor and have a serious squint at the cage. Sure, its primary function is to keep the driver safe should the unthinkable happen but when you start to see where many chassis pick up points go on a really top-level car, you begin to appreciate that a fair degree of competition car cage prep (along with the gusseting and seam welding that augments it) goes towards making it stiffer and stronger. The rationale being that if the shell itself flexes very little, then the suspension is left to perform its function with much greater accuracy and with ever-replicable movements to give consistency in handling.

    Let’s be honest here, there’s no way I am ever going to prep my car into a full racer (famous last words! ~ Ed) but I am keen to get things working as well as I can for the occasional track outing and a little fast-road work. A few months back I fitted an Ultra Racing front strut brace and noticed a tangible improvement in the sharpness of the front end. It was clear that reducing the movement of the top mounts really had made an efficiency difference to the whole suspension package – and the result was a more positive steering feel. Therefore, I was keen to see whether I could add any other similar tweaks.

    Searching the company’s UK website I found the rather smart item you see here: an interior brace that fits over the transmission tunnel and in front of the rear seats. Using a centre turnbuckle and lock nuts, you basically wind it out to brace against the sides of the chassis, improving torsional rigidity. But, I’ll be frank here, I also thought it looked rather trick! As my budget won’t quite stretch to a GT3 just yet, the idea of having a bit of pretty scaffolding in the back of an otherwise well-appointed coupé appeals to me greatly.

    The brace arrived the day after ordering, and was a doddle to fit. Simply wind the turnbuckle out until the feet firmly grip the chassis sides and then lock off with the lock nuts that sit either side. The kit also has holes pre drilled to allow the bar to be properly tied into the chassis with bolts, so next time I’m in the workshop, I’ll add that extra level of integrity to make things even more effective.

    Improving the torsional rigidity of the 328 won’t just enhance its handling, of course, but it should also give me a real sense of confidence, with the car feeling more precise and steering response being quicker and more responsive. All of the Ultra Racing bars have been carefully designed on custom jigs and feature crash deformation characteristics that work in harmony with each individual car’s carefully designed crumple zones. The bars use the shortest and most direct bracing route possible to ensure maximum rigidity – a fact augmented by the fact that the bolting flanges are a substantial 4mm thick – significantly more than many other aftermarket offerings. With a complete lack of pivot points or hinges, it becomes an integral part of the chassis, particularly when I take advantage of those extra bolt holes!

    So, there’s a little extra work to do to really feel the full benefit but in the meantime I’m loving the look! And, seeing as it fits so flush to the seat, I haven’t even lost any practicality either. Double win!

    CONTACT / #Ultra-Racing / www.ultraracinguk.co.uk /
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    JAMES’ #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW

    My interest in all things BMW was kindled by watching great names such as Winkelhock, Soper and Cecotto drive their E30 DTM and E36 Supertourers around the race tracks of the world – my DVD collection is testament to this!

    So when I bought this 328i saloon around four years ago it felt like I had my very own Supertourer! However, in reality, what I had was a very original and totally standard 328i – which seemed fantastic until I realised that this ‘originality’ also extended to most of the suspension components!

    Over the last four years it has been transformed into a fast road vehicle, with most areas receiving attention. The tired shocks and broken springs were replaced with height-adjustable Eibach coilovers, a purple tag E46 quick steering rack was fitted and the ever-popular E46 330i front brake and M3 master cylinder conversion was employed to improve stopping power. With the much stiffer suspension I often found myself embarrassingly smoking the inside rear wheel when pulling away swiftly, so the next modification was an M3 3.0 LSD. Other M3 parts to feature included engine mounts, top mounts, a convertible cross brace and an electric red leather interior to replace the very ’90s grey velour! The cross brace in particular impressed me, really helping front end turn-in.

    With these modifications done my E36 was now ready to use on a few track days in preparation for my ARDS test, a job which, apart from a failed water pump at Oulton Park, it did faultlessly. In fact, I enjoyed driving it so much that for the last two years I have used it everyday, a job which it has also done brilliantly. It is amazing how the sound of a straight-six can make the morning rush-hour drive seem so much more bearable! However two years of speed bumps and terribly potholed roads has taken its toll, so the 328 is now overdue some further modification and maintenance!

    Before starting any further work, though, I wanted to do a quick health check on my engine, as it is still fitted with the original Nikasil-lined block. Much has been said about Nikasil issues over the years and many of these engines were replaced by BMW but with modern fuel being low sulphur and the engine feeling strong I was hopeful that there would be no immediate issues. So first it was off to ED Motorsport for a rolling road session on its very accurate MAHA system.

    With a completely standard engine anything around the factory 193hp would’ve been good, although I was aware that this figure is widely understood to be conservative. Sure enough a peak figure of 205.6hp with a healthy torque curve left me feeling very pleased to say the least! A compression test also gave a positive result, with strong and very even pressures across all cylinders – happy days!

    This all means that I can now move on to sorting issues with the car. The first few that will need looking into consist of an unnerving clunking from the rear of the vehicle (so either top mounts or trailing arm bushes will likely be the culprits), an ever-growing patch of lacquer peel on the bootlid, and some underseal peeling off around the jacking points. As it is a really solid car that has never been welded I would like to keep it that way, so I will be investigating underbody restoration and clear undersealing options.
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