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    Exceedingly smooth and bagged E36. Clean and smooth, this head-turning Touring is brimming with individual touches that really help it stand out from the crowd. Photos: Si Gray. Words: Elizabeth de Latour.

    You know what really impresses us when we visit a show? It’s not the wild, no-holds-barred builds that get all the attention and steal all the headlines (though they are undeniably impressive), it’s actually the cars that look great but their owners have taken a much more modest route to making that happen. These builds are all about the subtle, individual touches that really make them stand out and allow their builders to put their own mark on their projects.

    Take Andy Guyett’s E36 Touring, for example. There’s no wild body kit, no custom three-piece wheels, nothing outlandish, but it just looks so good and while the applied mods appear to be quite simple at first glance, there’s definitely a lot more here than meets the eye…

    “I’ve always been into cars, never football,” begins Andy, “as growing up I was always around cars; my two brothers had all sorts of cool Yank stuff and while I never followed them down that road I have had all sorts of cars over the years. I started off with a white Opel Manta GTE when I was 18 followed by a Fiesta XR2 after which I decided to build something, which took the shape of a 1971 Cali-look Beetle. I ran it as a daily and it wasn’t great as it was very low and just not very well-suited to the task.”

    The Beetle was followed by another couple of classic VWs before Andy decided to come over to the Bavarian way of life. “My friend bought an E30,” he explains, “and I loved it. It looked cool so I sold the Beetle I had at the time and bought myself a champagne E30 320i four-door with brown velour seats.” That might not sound like the sexiest of places to start but it ticked Andy’s boxes and started him on the road of BMW ownership which, almost six and a half years ago, led to the purchase of the 323i Touring you see before you.

    “My girlfriend had a Clio at the time and after the cambelt snapped twice in two years we decided to get shot of it. The garage where I found this E36 for sale did a straight swap for the Clio and I had a good feeling about the car, it just felt right.” His gut was clearly on the money considering the Touring is still a part of the family, and while it had been purchased bone stock, the fact that Andy had modified every car he’d owned in some way meant that it was not going to remain that way for long. “I always knew what I wanted to do,” says Andy, “but I didn’t know I would go this far with it!”

    The styling has been given plenty of attention and this Touring wears a blend of different parts that all combine to give it a seriously meaty look. Step one to its outstanding freshness is a full respray in its original shade of Orient blue and then comes the onslaught of Sport addenda, with genuine front and rear bumpers, side skirts and wide door trims.

    The Sport additions make a big difference to the Touring’s looks just on their own, but these have been further enhanced with another layer of styling. Up front, a replica AC Schnitzer deep splitter has been added and this is matched at the rear with a replica #ACS boot spoiler, while a set of genuine ACS mirrors with custom decals complete the Schnitzer triumvirate, and the splitter, diffuser and roof bars have all been painted in Azurite black, which changes from black to blue in the light, adding a subtle individual aspect to proceedings.

    The arches have been rolled (you can see why, with the rears receiving a bit of a pull) and there’s been a lot of smoothing going on across the body. The bonnet badge has gone, as has the boot badge and the model inscription. The side repeaters have been removed and smoothed, the petrol filler flap has been smoothed and the rear wiper has been removed altogether, using the first ever Kill All Wipers kit for the E36 Touring. The end result is a car that’s smoother than a wellused bar of soap. The finishing touches are the all-red rear lenses, angel eye headlights and pre-face-lift nosecone. You may have also noticed that Andy is all about those orange highlights, with the custom decals on his mirrors carrying orange script, his stickers printed in orange, the amber front indicator lenses and the flashes of orange paint on his calipers.

    That’s something he’s carried through into the interior too. In fact, there have been some big changes in here and the first thing that hits you are the Recaro CS front seats because they look awesome; big sporty seats always make a big statement and act as a centrepiece for car’s interior, which is why it’s so disappointing when high performance models don’t have them, but always exciting when someone’s gone to the effort of fitting a set in their car. Here they sit on custom subframes made by Hard Knocks Speed Shop, while the rear bench has been trimmed to match the half-leather finish of the front seats and fitted with different headrests.

    The headlining and A-pillars have been finished in an Alcantara-style material and the doorcard inserts, glovebox lid and trim, centre console, driver’s knee roll and inner mirror covers have all been trimmed in black fauxsuede; it makes for an extremely luxuriousfeeling interior. That’s impressive enough on its own, but that’s not even the half of it; Andy has replaced all of the previously grey interior trim panels with black ones and that includes the entire dash itself, which makes the whole interior look infinitely smarter and he has also replaced the carpet with a black one, none of which is no small job.

    The steering wheel has been retrimmed by Royal Steering Wheels, with perforated leather on the sides, Nappa leather on the top and bottom sections, M tricolour stitching and an orange centre marker. A Schmiedmann suede handbrake gaiter has been fitted and Andy has also retro-fitted the 18-button OBC and the start button from a Honda S2000. We’re not done in here yet because the lacklustre standard audio has received a serious upgrade, with an Alpine head unit hooked up to a set of orange-coned Hertz three-way components, powered by no less than two JL Audio amps along with a 12” JL sub in the boot, which is also where you’ll find the simple air install with just the single polished tank on display.

    “I had HSD coilovers before the air,” says Andy as we move onto discussing his comprehensive chassis mods, “but it was going to the Players show that helped me make the decision to switch to air. I saw so many cars on air-ride, including Ed Johnston’s E36 Touring back when it was cream, and knew that was what I wanted. I ended up buying a three-month-old kit from one of Riiva Design’s cars, an Air Lift setup with V2 management and I fitted it over a long weekend with my son Tom and a friend of mine.”

    The air-ride is just the tip of the iceberg, though, as the front end has been fitted with polybushed lollipops and ARB mounts with E30 front wishbones and an ECS Tuning strut brace under the bonnet. The whole rear end has been fully polybushed, with SPC Performance adjustable rear camber arms and an M3 rear anti-roll bar plus a set of Phoenix Motorsport rear damper reinforcement plates. The brakes haven’t been forgotten about either, with an E46 330Ci front setup plus an M3 servo and master cylinder and Goodridge hoses all-round.

    With the wheels, Andy went through five or six sets before he settled on these 18” M Parallels: “I started off with some 17” Alpina reps, then I had BBS RKs, ACS Type 3 reps, all sorts, but I’d always liked the Paras,” he says. “They look like a strong wheel and these ones are in a staggered fitment from the E38 7 Series. I had to have the rear hubs shaved in order to be able to get them to fit under the arches.” M Parallels are the perfect example of a very clean, simple, classic design that works well on everything and looks good on everything, and in this particular staggered 18” form with diamond cut faces and lips they look absolutely stunning on this Touring.

    Finally we come to the engine and, while there’s not a lot going on under the bonnet at the moment, with just a DaveF induction kit and 328i manifold-back exhaust, Andy has some big plans for that M52: “I’m really happy with the styling but now I want to make it go faster and I’m currently building an #M52B28 – I’ve actually had the engine for almost two years now,” he laughs. “The head will be gas-flowed, there will be a stainless exhaust manifold, an Alpina527 adapted M50 intake manifold, a Hark Knocks Speed Shop custom exhaust and I’ll get it remapped by Enda Ward at End Tuning.” That lot will add up to one pretty impressive lump that will definitely endow this Touring with some proper performance.

    This really is a seriously nice car. It’s got a perfect blend of mods that combine to give it some real presence and plenty of individuality, all while retaining the essence of the E36 Touring. Andy’s built himself a cracking machine and the engine swap he’s got up his sleeve will be the icing on an extremely tasty cake…

    DATA FILE #BMW / #BMW-E36 / #BMW-323i-Touring / #BMW-323i-Touring-E36 / #BMW-323i-E36 / #BMW-323iA-Touring-E36 / #BMW-323iA / #BMW-323iA-E36 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E36 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M52B25 / #M52 / #BMW-M52 , #DaveF induction kit, 328i manifold-back exhaust, five-speed auto gearbox #ZF5HP / #ZF

    CHASSIS 8x18” (front) and 9.5x18” (rear) #Style-37M-Parallel wheels with diamond cut faces and lips with 215/40 (front) and 225/40 (rear) Kumho Ecsta tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance #Airride with #Air-Lift-V2 management, front strut brace, polybushed front lollipops and #ARB mounts, E30 front wishbones, fully polybushed rear end, #SPC-Performance adjustable rear camber arms, M3 rear anti-roll bar, #Phoenix-Motorsport rear damper reinforcement top plates, E46 330Ci front brakes, M3 servo/master cylinder, Goodridge braided hoses (front and rear), #BMW hardlines (front and rear)

    EXTERIOR Full respray in original Orient blue metallic, bonnet badge removed and smoothed, pre-face-lift front nosecone, angel eye headlights with shrouded HID projectors, Sport front bumper, replica #AC-Schintzer deep front splitter, AC Schnitzer door mirrors with custom decals, side repeaters removed and smoothed, Sport side skirts, smoothed petrol flap, Sport wide door trims, Sport rear bumper, replica AC Schnitzer rear spoiler, all-red rear lenses, boot badge removed and smoothed, 323i badge removed, Kill All Wipers rear wiper delete, arches rolled all-round and rears pulled, front splitter, rear diffuser and roof bars painted in #BMW Azurite black, LED number plate lights

    INTERIOR #Recaro-CS front seats on custom Hard Knocks Speed Shop subframes, rear bench retrimmed/coloured to match fronts, different rear headrests, all interior panels and carpet changed from grey-to-black, headlining and A-pillars recovered in black faux-Alcantara, doorcard inserts, glovebox lid and trim, centre console, drivers knee roll and inner mirror covers trimmed in black fauxsuede, Royal Steering Wheels retrimmed Sport steering wheel with M stitching and orange centre stripe, Schmiedmann suede handbrake gaiter, Sport inner sill covers custom painted in BMW Azurite black, Honda S2000 start button, retro-fitted 18-button OBC, #Alpine-CDA-9887R head unit, 2x JL Audio amps, Hertz threeway components, JL Audio 12” sub, LED bulbs

    INTERIOR Big thanks to my son Tom Guyett, good friends Cliff Judson and Sam Hendrie for their continued help with the car and my fiancé Fiona for her patience with a stream of car parts in the front room and my constant absence! Dips at Custom Cars for his huge efforts with the paint and body mods, Richard at Ruislip Tyres for his sterling efforts getting the wheels ready (twice!) and constant tyre swapping, Ray Boultwood, Neil Chapman and all the members of BMWEnthusiasts forum for the (usually!) kind words during the build and for the camaraderie at meets and Badger Bourton of Hard Knocks Speed Shop for his outstanding fabrication skills
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    WILD 600HP E36 Elite D’s turbo’d 3 Series

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

    Elite Developments’ turbo E36


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    The E36 Compact has a bit of an unfortunate reputation in certain quarters but Dávid Haas’ example is here to prove that potential is everywhere, and these offbeat hatchbacks can be turned into proper little jaw-droppers… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Krisztian Bolgar.

    2.8-swapped E36 Compact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    INTERIOR Camo trim, OMP steering wheel, E46 front seats, rear seats removed 2.8 E36 Compact
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    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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    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 ( 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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    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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    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.
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    ‘TAKE TWO’ / #BMW-E21 / #BMW-E21-M52 / #BMW-3-Series / #1982 #BMW-316-E21 / #BMW-316

    BMW E21 - E21s look great as standard – they look even better dropped over a set of Rotas and packing a 2.8 M52 lump! Mark Brown’s first foray into BMW E21 ownership ended in a fiery, frustrating mess, so he set out to go one better with his second example – we think he might just have managed it! Words: Jarkle. Photos: Rick Davy.

    BMW can stake a fairly watertight claim to have invented the concept of the big-power family saloon with their original 2002 Turbo, a car that paved the way for all manner of M-power Munich legends like the E30, E36 and the even larger 5 and 7 series cars. The fact that #BMW has long prided itself on producing a range of potent straight six, V8 and even V12 motors has created a somewhat unexpected upside though, and that’s that these motors can, with a bit of thought and a lot of elbow grease, be transplanted into cars lower down the range. Fitting more modern M engines into base spec BMWs isn’t exactly a new practice but it is something that never ceases to amaze, particularly when you lift the bonnet and see a relatively new motor transplanted into a car that rolled off the line when the Cold War was still raging.

    Mark Brown knows a thing or two about squeezing modern powerplants into retro BMWs, with this car being the second E21 to have benefited from his spannering skills. The first one, an orange E21 that eventually found itself running E36 power, sadly went up in flames in spectacular fashion about three years ago, an experience that must’ve been made all the more sickening for it happening on his drive.

    “It’d always been a fairly temperamental car and had suffered from electrical gremlins in the past, but I never expected it to do that,” he explains with a grimace. “I’d started it and doubled back to my house to get something, then turned round to find my neighbour frantically pointing at the flames. It burnt out very quickly.”

    Evidently not one to mope around or drag his heels, Mark opted to cure the pain of losing his beloved E21 by throwing himself headlong into another Munich-flavoured project, the one that eventually culminated in the car you see here. Bought by an Australian in Spain (hence the right hand drive layout), the car slowly made its way north under the ownership of various individuals, spending time in the Channel Islands before finally finding itself in Scotland. It was still there when Mark came knocking and before long the beige car was in bits, totally stripped and prepared for shot-blasting. It was only then that Mark could truly appreciate the gem of a car he’d stumbled upon; it was totally rot free, had covered a mere 50,000 miles and was rock solid in every respect. The perfect project in other words.

    “The whole thing was made much easier thanks to help from my friend Mick Rogers of Pristine Bodyworks. He’s a bit of a BMW specialist and has owned E21s himself, so it did make finding parts a little easier and problem solving that much swifter – two heads are better than one.”

    At this point Mark was fairly certain he wanted to repaint the car in some kind of orange hue, with the vibrant ‘Fire Orange’ supplied on the limited edition three series GTS being the most likely candidate. Actually tracking down the paint in any volume proved trickier than expected though, and when the trial paint reacted badly with the engine bay, well, then it was time for a rethink.

    “I pretty much decided to paint it in Laguna Seca Blue there and then, it was a spur of the moment call and one that I think went really well.” We’re inclined to agree with him. Mick’s contacts in the BMW world eventually unearthed the powerplant now found under the bonnet of Mark’s E21, the M52 six-pot from a 2.8 E36. All manner of BMW engines have been stuffed into the bay of the E21 over the years but we think Mark’s done the right thing by sticking to a six cylinder. For starters it’s the engine that’s best associated with fast BMWs and one that delivers a very handy 228bhp to the rear wheels, plus there’s the fact that getting an E36 motor into one of these isn’t a process that requires extensive surgery, it simply drops in using the mounts from the 323. It can also be used in conjunction with the E20 E36 gearbox, though Mark admits that he used custom mounts to get it sitting exactly where
    he wanted.

    “I was considering the bigger S50 M3 engine for the 282bhp it’d bring, but in the end it made more sense to stick with the 2.8. For starters it was a known, low mileage engine, plus there’s the fact that the half-shafts are a known weak spot and start throwing in the towel over 250bhp.”

    Not that Mark’s in any danger of being stranded by a transmission failure any time soon, not with the E21 now running the tough as nails differential from an E12 535i, a unit that’s so far proved more than up to the task of dealing with anything thrown its way. Discussing the build with Mark you’re struck by just how easy it all sounds, something that the man himself is keen to highlight. “The engine conversion went really smoothly, and the bodywork was simple because it was pretty much perfect at the start,” he laughs. “In fact the only really tricky bit was sorting the brake servo out and making it work in a reliable manner.”

    BMW might have a reputation for engineering excellence nowadays but back in the 70s when the E21 was first penned things were apparently a little more relaxed, and when it came to producing a right hand drive version it’d probably be fair to say that they cut a few corners. A spaghetti-like maze of cables, junctions and wires transferred braking force from the servo mounted on a piece of iron at the front of the engine bay to the bulkhead, and though this arrangement worked very well three decades ago, by the time Mark got the car it’d begun to show its age.

    “Finding the correct remote servo to use with a dual servo brake setup proved to be one of the toughest aspects of the whole project, mainly as actually tracking one down was an utter nightmare! In the end we rebuilt and serviced one to cut down on delivery time, but we still had to redesign the whole brake system.” With the bulk of the head-scratching work done and dusted, Mark turned his attention to other, less pressing aspects of the build.

    The standard 13in steels BMW bolted to the hubs in the mid 70s were entirely typical for the period but didn’t look quite right once the car had been lowered on coilovers all round, hence the decision to swap for Rotas in 9x15in flavour. The idea to paint them in black with a gold overlay was actually drawn from one of Magnus Walker’s Porsche 911s and is, we think, one of the standout aspects of the whole build. Rotas aren’t exactly a rare wheel in the old car world (and for good reason), but the ones on Mark’s car look utterly different thanks to their interesting finish.

    Then there’s the interior, an area where the age old adage of ‘less is more’ rings true. It isn’t stripped out to bare metal, dozens of glaring gauges don’t litter the place and you won’t find an insane, FIA-pleasing cage encroaching on the front seats. What you will find are a pair of natty Recaro buckets formerly housed in an Audi (and bought for a very reasonable sum), a small race wheel, oil pressure and temperature gauges discreetly tucked away and a subtle rear cage with the carpets modified to fit. It’s the perfect blend of parts for a car like this, one which will spend the majority of its time on roads, not race tracks.

    The car finally came together a number of months ago and was immediately pressed into service, Mark using it regularly throughout the summer and taking the time to appreciate and enjoy the fruits of his and Mick’s handiwork. He then made the painful decision to sell it on and move to something else, specifically a bright red E30 M3. Mark makes no qualms about it being a fraught call and certainly not one he took lightly, but the fact that, in his words, he’ll never be able to afford an E30 M3 ever again, sealed the deal. The E21 has since gone on to delight its new owner and Mark, with his E21 itch well and truly scratched (for now at least), has moved onto BMW pastures new.

    “The engine conversion went really smoothly, and the bodywork was simple because it was pretty much perfect at the start.”

    Not a lot of weight, and over 220bhp means that tail-out antics are only ever a twitch of the foot away.

    M52 engine was a surprisingly simple swap – helped no doubt by being fitted into an immaculate engine bay.

    TECH DATA Specification / #BMW-M52 / #M52B28

    ENGINE: #M52 2.8 inline six cylinder with custom engine mounts, #USDM M Power coil pack cover, custom alloy radiator from AH Fabrications, modified six branch E36 exhaust manifold and 323 type twin silence system, remapped ECU, 228bhp.

    TRANSMISSION: #Getrag-M20 / #Getrag five-speed, uprated clutch and lightened flywheel, custom propshaft, E12 M535 LSD conversion including dual billet ‘’dog bone’’

    SUSPENSION: Front: LEDA coilovers rebuilt by #GAZ UK, polybushes, #F&R strut-brace Rear: Ford Escort coilovers modifed to fit and rebuilt by #Gaz-UK , polybushes.

    BRAKES: Front: #WMS billet four-pot brake calipers and Hawk fast road pads, braided hoses, SMC Remote servo install with whole braking system redesigned and rebuilt. Rear: E30 rear calipers, Hawk fast road pads, braided hoses.

    WHEELS AND TYRES: 9x15in Rota alloys painted in gold and black, 205/50x15in (front) and 215/50x15in (rear) Marangoni tyres.

    INTERIOR: #Recaro seats on custom mounts, Safety Devices harnesses, dash mounted panel for additional STACK gauges, #MOMO Prototipo wheel, Storm billet gear knob, rear half cage, new carpets cut to fit, custom concealed fuse box.

    EXTERIOR: 1982 316 BMW E21 non sunroof repainted E46 M3 Laguna Seca Blue, modified wheel arches with subtle flair, single wiper Conversion.

    THANKS: Thanks to Mick Rodgers @ Pristine Bodyworks, Joe Geach @ ARM BMW, Lars @ AH Fabrication, Claire (for her being extremely patient & understanding), Kyle Clinton for re-making and improving the quick rack and Kevin ‘’I’ll sort that bodged exhaust’’

    “I pretty much decided to paint it in Laguna Seca Blue there and then, it was a spur of the moment call and one that I think went really well.”

    Resisting the temptation to do this whenever you set off must be difficult!

    Half cage and Audi-sourced Recaros live in a largely (and understandably) standard interior.

    With its baby ‘shark-nosed’ profile it’s still an imposing saloon.
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    PEER PRESSURE #BMW-328i-E30 / #BMW-E30-M52B28 / #BMW-E30-M52 / #BMW-328i

    This slick air-ride E30, finished in Sakhir orange, boasts a 2.8-swap and delivers the perfect blend of show and go. You sometimes find yourself doing things simply because that’s what all your mates are doing. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re blindly following the herd – sometimes you’ll end up creating something that serves as an inspiration to the group… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Rick Di Corpo.

    Acouple of my buddies own E30s,” says Luca Colaneri. “Back in 2010 they were taking part in a #BMW driving school event at Circuit Mont-Tremblant which I attended for the weekend. After seeing them fly around the track, the monster with four headlights kept growing on me, the purr of the exhaust note with each pass got me holding my breath… as soon as I got back home and I started scrolling through forums to gather up as much information as I possibly could. I soon learnt that so much can be done with this model of car, it was fascinating. After a drive in one of my friends’ E30s, I was in love.”

    Sometimes it really is that simple. There are a lot of cars out there, and it’s not always obvious which path you’ll end up following in your fledgling years of motoring, but with influences like this you don’t really have to give the decision-making process a lot of consideration. Yes, peer pressure led Luca into E30 ownership, but peer pressure gets a bad rap. There’s nothing wrong with sharing a common interest with your mates, is there?

    “Following my research, I was looking for this specific model – a 318iS,” Luca recalls. “The black shadow mouldings it came with were just like the M3’s! So I kept searching online, and after visiting maybe four or five different vehicles, I stumbled upon this gem and wasted no time in purchasing it. In a matter of 24 hours, the seller and I were trading signatures and the car was mine.” The fact that this particular car didn’t have a sunroof removed an element of concern for Luca, while he was also attracted by the notion of the M42 motor having timing chains rather than the fragility of a cambelt – not that the M42 would end up having much of a look in… but we’ll come to that.

    “When I first purchased the car, I knew it was going to be a rebuilding process,” he admits. “I figured I was going to dump it on the ground, as low as possible, slap on some replica wheels and call it a day. The car ran perfectly, there wasn’t any urgent work to do on it, so I stored it for the winter ready to bring out in the springtime.” But when the sepia majesty of spring arrived, Luca had changed his mind. Pulling together some funds, he arrived at the conclusion that if any modifications were going to happen, it was going to be all or nothing. Go big or go home. “I knew that after all was said and done, this would be unrivalled and incomparable with all the other E30s in Montreal,” he remembers. And he’s not done badly in chasing that dream, has he?

    It certainly helped that he’d started with a solid base for the project. Sure, he was looking at a bit of work whatever happened, but the 318iS had a mint interior – no cracked dash or worn bolsters here – with an intact headlining and rear seats that looked as if they’d never been sat on. It was the body that was presenting a few hurdles – the established E30 flashpoints of rotten rear wheel wells and battery tray, along with various bumps and scrapes to the paintwork that had lost its lustre. It was bloodied but unbowed, and Luca had the impetus to make the thing shine again. But he didn’t foresee quite how carried away he’d get!

    The 318iS was duly despatched to Strasse Autowerks, a respected and revered outfit that just so happens to be owned by a great friend of Luca, who was only too happy to offer endless advice and expertise. “I approached him with the idea of rebuilding the car with a budget,” says Luca. “We started talking about what I envisaged for the car, and I ended up telling him the budget was out the window! Whatever it would cost to get it done right, so be it.”

    And so the strip down began, the #BMW-E30 being torn back to first principles, with the dash and a few wires the only things remaining in situ. The floors were cut out and replaced, the wheels wells repaired, and every single iota of rust eradicated and replaced with fresh metal. While all this was going on, the engine bay was shaved to impeccable smoothness and, with the body shop in control of the metalwork, Luca focused on rebuilding the M52.

    Yes, you read that right. While the car’s original M42 engine had initially been a selling point, the lure of a bigger bang proved too strong to resist. “I bought an M52 out of an E36 328i Convertible,” he smiles. “After reading up on forums, I was sold on converting it into an ODB1 motor, so I went out and found myself everything I needed. I also found a great deal on some S52 cams, so I thought I might as well…” Luca’s intention was to build the motor for longevity, so he replaced the timing chains and guide rails, along with the water pump, injectors and seals, gaskets, the works, as well as skimming the head. “I wasn’t looking for a beast of a powerplant under the hood. I just wanted to drive the car for hours at a time, one hand out the window, cruising with a reliable motor.” To be fair, the #M52B28 offers a fairly healthy horsepower hike over the E30’s original unit, so this solution offers power and reliability without compromise.

    Back in the bodyshop, the subframe, trailing arms and crossmember had all returned from being sandblasted and powdercoated, and once everything was bolted back together and ready to get back on the lift it was time to set about piecing together the jigsaw of all-new AKG polybushes, fuel and brake lines, fuel tank, brakes, air-ride, anti-roll bars… the list just kept going, with everything underneath the skin being either rebuilt or brand-new.

    With one eye always on subtlety, Luca was keen to keep the aesthetics relatively stock, and the plan was always to keep the body panels as factory as possible. A few choice Euro-spec conversions make all the difference here – smiley headlights, kidney grilles, the different-shaped numberplate recess – while it’s the colour that really speaks volumes. “The paint is my favourite modification to the car,” he explains. “This colour caught my eye and it stuck. I was searching and searching when I finally heard news that the new M6 would have this vibrant, bright orange; when I finally saw the colour in person at the Montreal Auto Show, it was the one of the most exciting times about this build. At that time, my painter told me the paint suppliers weren’t able to create the colour because the car hadn’t been released on the market here in North America, but after convincing them, they somehow contacted BMW in Germany to get the formula.” The shade is called Sakhir orange, and the photos really can’t do justice to how this paint pops and crackles like Rice Krispies in fresh milk. It’s borderline effervescent.

    “The decision to put the car on air-ride was simply because most of my friends had it, and were pretty convincing about its usefulness,” Luca concedes. See, we’re back to that notion of peer pressure again. But if such pressures lead you to bagging your ride, that’s not something you can really complain about. You’re not a sheep, you’re a wily fox. “There are mixed feelings out there about how cars handle on air, but to be honest it was the best decision I made. It’s comfortable and very practical. When people see a lowered E30, most of the time they just glance at it; when they see a slammed E30 laying frame, that’s when they fall in love!”

    And if you think the paint and the stance are a killer combo, just get a load of the wheels. There’s some next-level awesomeness going on under those four corners, in the form of a set of Compomotive TH601s. “The way they’re simultaneously convex and concave blows my mind,” Luca laughs. “I wanted something rare and wild – a set of wheels that would grab people’s attention and have them ask me, ‘yo, what wheels are those?’ When I saw these ones, I was certain they were going to end up costing as much as (or maybe even more than) a new set of wheels, but on the other hand I’d never seen another set of wheels like it before. Being the type of person who loves rare and unique things, I had to have them.”

    The Compomotives fit with the plan perfectly, complementing the idea of keeping the lines stock and studding the silhouette with gorgeous detail. Simple, classy and sporty were Luca’s watchwords, and it’s safe to say that he’s pulled it off with alacrity. The crowds at Eurokracy (aka ‘Canada’s Finest European Automotive Event’) certainly thought so. “I’d been updating my build threads daily and the online reaction was buzzing in the run-up to the show,” Luca tells us. “It was a gorgeous day and the sun was shining, so the paint was looking on point.

    Hood off, laying frame, parked at the Strasse Autowerks booth beside all my buds, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.” And that just about brings us full circle. This is a tale of one man’s automotive proclivities being influenced by those of his friends, who then helped him to bring into being a vision that they could enjoy together. Bringing home Eurokracy’s ‘Best BMW’ trophy was merely the cherry on the cake, but the real message here is that Luca bowed to peer pressure in the best possible way. And we’re very glad he did.


    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 2.8-litre straight-six #M52B28 / #M52 / #BMW-M52 / from E36, M50 intake manifold, sensors, fuel rail and throttle body, OBD1, S52 cams, 3.5” 740iL MAF, Bimmerworld silicone intake, #TRM-Tuning ODB1 tune, 21.5lb/hr injectors, 2.5” custom stainless steel downpipes and exhaust with Vibrant high-flow cat and silencer, E36 M3 #Sachs clutch and pressure plate, E36 M3 F1 Racing 14lb lightweight flywheel, E36 M3 #ZF manual gearbox, Z3M differential, UUC DSSR and stainless steel clutch line, E36 328 propshaft, Z3 short-shifter.

    CHASSIS 8.5x16” (front) and 10x16” (rear) ET-12 Compomotive TH601 with custom powdercoat and gold spiked bolts, 195/40 Federal 595 Evo (front) and 215/40 Toyo T1R (rear) tyres, new front and rear OEM calipers with Brembo discs and EBC Green Stuff pads, universal Air Lift struts (front) and Universal Air Airhouse 2 bags over Bilstein Sport struts (rear), #AKG bushes for rear subframe, trailing arms, diff mounts, front control arms and transmission, AKG engine mounts and steering rack spacers, ST anti-roll bars, E36 M3 steering rack and tie rods.

    EXTERIOR #BMW Sakhir orange, Euro-spec bumper trims, 318iS front lip and bootlip, Euro-spec blackout kidney grilles, Euro smiley headlights, Euro numberplate filler, MHW taillights, smoked front fogs.

    INTERIOR OEM black Sport seats and black doorcards, M Tech 2 steering wheel, M Power leather gearstick and handbrake gaiters, Pioneer radio, speakers and 12” sub, custom boot build for audio and air tank.

    THANKS I want to thank my parents for not giving me hell for spending all those hours and cash on a car. I want to thank everyone who was involved in this project of mine and enduring long conversations about this car. Also, all my closest friends who helped me never give up. Vitali, from Strasse Autowerks for allowing me to spend very long hours and months using his tools and shop. The support of my boys, Jamie, Flavio, Dave, Anatoli and the rest of 2LO CREW! I also want to thank everyone who’s approached me in person, or on forums and social media, giving me props on the great work that has been done on the car. Of course, #Drive-My for giving me the chance and opportunity to get my story out and show people who have inspiring goals, that anything can be accomplished when having the right mindset. Yes, money does help too! Lastly, my beautiful fiancée, Amanda. Through anything and everything, especially this build, she is my supporter, my rock.

    “When they see a slammed E30 laying frame, that’s when they fall in love”
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