- Post is under moderationWILD 600HP E36 Elite D’s turbo’d 3 Series
This Elite Developments 600hp E36 is the result of years of development and a love for all things turbocharged… Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Steve Hall.
Elite Developments’ turbo E36
THE BOOSTED ELITE
The E36 328i Sport is a car that’s been appreciating in value of late. However, six years ago they didn’t quite have the same worth and so made the perfect project base for Steve Dixon, owner of BMW-specialised tuning shop Elite Developments. Steve’s plans soon escalated from a simple reworking to a complete overhaul, complete with a 600hp turbocharged heart…
“I bought the car off eBay completely unseen. It was down in Bognor Regis,” Steve explains. “At the time it was really difficult to get a 328i Sport as there wasn’t many of them for sale. I contacted the guy and made him an offer based on his description of the condition and the pictures on eBay. I then took a four-hour train journey from Essex to go and get it. It was a completely mint, standard car, as described. I was looking for one to convert into a drift car.
“Initially my plans were just to weld the diff and put some coilovers on it, and that was it. I fitted the coils while my mate welded the diff. It was just going to be a daily drifter but then we went to Gatebil 2012 and saw that nearly every BMW there was running a turbo M5x engine. That got me thinking…
“After speaking to a few of the locals about how they’d done it, I came to the realisation that building a turbo #BMW wasn’t as hard as I first thought. Then came the process of pricing up all the bits I needed.”
The 328’s alloy-block M52 isn’t the perfect base for turbocharging as they tend to allow the head to lift and generally aren’t as strong as iron block variants, so Steve sourced an #M50B25-non-Vanos engine and set about making a hybrid of the two. This meant using the M50 block, head and pistons but with the M52’s crank and rods, creating a 2.8-litre M50 – an ‘M50B28’ as they’re often known. The bottom end was tied together with coated big-end bearings and ARP bolts, with #ARP studs and a Cometic 0.140” multi-layer steel head gasket used up top for a drop in compression and an increase in reliability.
The end result is an engine about as strong as it’s possible to get without going for fullon aftermarket forged rods and pistons – perfect for Steve’s plans for big boost.
“The hardest part was trying to source a right-hand drive turbo manifold as nobody seemed to sell one,” Steve explains. “This is why we started to design what is now the Elite Developments cast RHD turbo manifold. It took three years to create but we are now very happy with the final product.”
The Elite Developments manifold was formulated to fit all M5x engines that use a four-bolt-per-cylinder pattern, fitting around all of the steering and usual headache areas and allowing bottom-mount fitment of any T3-flanged turbo along with an external wastegate. Steve’s particular setup uses a Garrett GT3582R turbo and a Tial 38mm wastegate, pushing boost through a 600x300x80mm intercooler and into the M50 intake manifold.
Air is sucked into the turbo through a K&N filter, while fuelling is taken care of with Siemens 60lb injectors and a Walbro 255lph pump. To keep oil temperatures in check, Steve’s used an S50 oil filter housing converted to run AN lines, which are linked to a Mocal oil cooler. A neat product from Elite Developments allowed the intercooler and oil cooler to be bolted into the E36’s front end without any troubles. To control the whole thing Steve’s used a VEMs standalone ECU with the result being a dyno-proven 495hp and 480lb ft at 0.8bar. Steve has since had it mapped to run at 1.5bar which should be good enough for around 600hp.
All that power is well and good but without being able to transmit it to the ground, it’s useless. Steve retained the strong five-speed ZF gearbox that came with the 328i, with a six-paddle ceramic clutch sandwiched between it and the boosted M50. Out back is a 328i Sport 2.93 LSD, rebuilt for a 40% lockup and braced into position to guard against failure.
The final step of getting power to the ground is, of course, the wheel and tyre setup. The E36 isn’t always the easiest car to get a wide tyre onto but Steve solved that with a set of ABS plastic rivet-on arches from US firm Hard Motorsport. These have allowed the comfortable fitment of 8.5x18” front and 10x18” rear Rota Grids wrapped in grippy 235/40 and 265/35 Yokohama Advan AD08s respectively. Not only do they look great but they enable fast progress when the M50 comes up on boost. The arches offer a rub-free fit, too.
The chassis setup has seen plenty of work to get it all working happily, both when travelling in a straight line and sideways. Before anything was bolted underneath it Steve took care of the usual E36 weak spots using parts raided from the Elite Developments stock room. Subframe mounting and trailing arm pocket reinforcement plates were welded into the shell, with the front crossmember reinforced to stop the engine mounts tearing themselves free.
To get the steering lock that Steve needed for drifting, TND extended lower arms and modified hubs were fitted, along with BC Racing coilovers and an E46 330i brake setup. At the rear Steve used BC Racing again to convert the suspension from a shock and spring setup to a true coilover one, adding adjustable camber arms to get the setup dialled-in. Finally the whole lot has been polybushed and Steve’s added a BMW front lower crossbrace as well as GCFabrications front and rear strut braces to stiffen the shell.
Another element that adds stiffness is the Safety Devices roll-cage, nicely painted in contrasting Porsche GT3 RS green – aside from that the interior doesn’t contain a great deal as weight reduction has been the main aim. The rear firewall has been nicely blocked off with an Elite Developments plate and there’s a supportive Recaro bucket for the driver, complete with four-point harness.
Recent additions to the exterior have included a genuine Rieger carbon-fibre GT splitter and a new Elite Developments product: a huge rear wing. However, sadly, since our shoot Steve has actually broken the car for parts, moving his M50 turbo experience onto a cool new project – a Techno violet E34 525i.
Steve’s E36 goes to show that we can all get carried away – even the simplest intentions can turn into a far bigger project than originally planned, especially with a little inspiration from overseas. It also shows how experiencing a problem can turn up a great solution – Elite Developments’ turbo manifolds have now been selling for almost a year, helping RHD BMW drivers all over the UK solve the somewhat historic issue of steering clearance when running a turbo. From a hardcore E36 drifter Steve’s now looking to add some turbocharged flair to his old-school Five, and we can’t want to see what happens next.
“We saw that nearly every BMW there was running a turbo M5x engine. That got me thinking”
DATA FILE / #BMW-Elite-Developments / #BMW-E36 / #BMW / #BMW-E36-Elite-Developments / #BMW-328i-Sport / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-328i-Sport-E36 / / #BMW-328i-Elite-Developments / #Elite-Developments / #BMW-328i-Elite-Developments-E36 / #Rota-Grid / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36
ENGINE ‘ #M50B28 ’ #non-Vanos , #M50B25 block and head, #M52B28 / #M50 / #BMW-M50 crankshaft and con rods, M50B25 pistons, performance coated main bearings, performance coated big-end bearings, ARP rod bolts, #ARP head studs, #Cometic 0.140” MLS head gasket, Elite Developments RHD turbo manifold, #Garrett-GT3582R turbo, #Tial 38mm wastegate, #K&N filter with #GCFabrications heat shield, ram air feed from foglight, AC #Schnitzer exhaust, #Siemens 60lb injectors, #Walbro 255lph fuel pump, #VEMS-ECU , Mocal oil cooler with AN lines, S50 oil filter housing, #Vorschlag nylon competition engine mounts
TRANSMISSION E36 328i five-speed #ZF-manual-gearbox , six-paddle ceramic clutch, Elite Developments bolt-through polyurethane gearbox mounts, #IRP shifter, 328i Sport 2.93:1 LSD fully rebuilt with 40% lockup, diff brace
CHASSIS 18x8.5” (front) and 18x10” (rear) #Rota-Grid-Drifts with 235/40 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Advan Neova AD08 tyres, Elite Developments wheel stud conversion, full #BC-Racing coilover setup with 12kg front and 8kg rear spring rates, TND modified hubs for extra lock, TND extended lower arms, adjustable camber arms, polybushed throughout, Elite Developments front subframe reinforcement kit, Elite Developments rear subframe reinforcement kit, Elite Developments rear trailing arm reinforcement kit, Elite Developments rear topmount reinforcement kit, #BMW-Motorsport front crossbrace, #GC-Fabrications front and rear strut braces, E46 330i front brakes, E36 M3 Evo brake servo and master cylinder
EXTERIOR Rieger carbon fibre GT splitter, Hard Motorsport rivet-on wide arches, Elite Developments rear spoiler, foglight air intake
INTERIOR Safety Devices roll-cage painted in Porsche GT3 RS green, Elite Developments rear firewall block-off plate, Recaro driver’s seat, AEM wideband AFR gauge, Defi boost gauge
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- Post is under moderationMASTERCHEF
Simple on the outside, exciting on the inside, this sexy Aegean blue E30 has been treated to a 3.2 S50-swap.
SLICK S50 E30
Awesome 3.2-litre two-door. With some seriously tasty mods and an S50 under its carbon bonnet, owner Nicholas Arnold has rustled up one cooking E30. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Woods.
Could the E30 be the most engine-swapped #BMW of all time? Judging by the number of feature cars we run that have been fitted with something other than their standard engine, it’s got to be up there. While V8s are a great and popular choice, sometimes you’re just not in the mood and fancy something more traditional where the 3 Series is concerned, like a howling, high-output straight-six, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here.
Chef Nicholas Arnold is its custodian and the man behind the swap. He’s no stranger to modified cars and BMWs, having worked his way up from a Vauxhall Nova 1.2 through to a selection of Hondas, including an EG Civic that he performed a full DC2 conversion on, and on to a number of BMWs, starting with an E34 525i (as it was cheap and RWD), and including a previous E30, which met an untimely end… “I wrote it off on black ice and I just felt I had to own another one. I found this car on eBay, located in Scotland – it was in good condition and had just had a respray,” says Nicholas. There was also the small matter of it already being endowed with an M52 under the bonnet. “It had a straight-through exhaust, was on cheap Jom coilovers and had an open diff. I changed the inlet manifold and ECU before making bigger plans,” he says – those plans being the swapping in of a more potent powerplant.
“I put a S50B32 in it as the M52 wasn’t fast enough,” explains Nicholas. “I bought new AKG engine mounts, custom wiring loom, aluminium triple core radiator, Ramair air filter, got a custom-built manifold, ACL race bearings, ARP con rod bolts, M3 3.0-litre oil pump with an E34 baffle sump and a Simons race silencer with a full stainless steel system. It took me six months to put together all the parts for the build and a week’s-worth of work to put it all together. The only problems I had was the servo had to be moved across by 45mm and I had to have a brake linkage bar made up.”
They say that the waiting is the hardest part and we have no doubt that was definitely the case here as six months to go from capable M52 to 321hp of ferocious #S50B32 goodness must have felt like an age. Let’s not beat about the bush here – the E36 M3 Evo is not a slow car, so just having that rev-hungry lump in the lightweight surroundings of an E30 would result in an absolute rocket ship. But that’s not all, the transmission has also been beefed-up to suit and there’s a five-speed Getrag ’box mated to an E34 M5 Sachs clutch with a 4.5kg billet steel flywheel, E36 propshaft and an E36 2.8 LSD in an E30 medium diff case.
With some serious power on tap, Nicholas turned his attention to the chassis as it needed some upgrades to be able to cope with the massive increase in engine. “I went for a set of BC Racing coilovers as they’re mid-range and suitable for road and track, Purple Series polybushes with E30 M3 lollipop bushes, again suitable for both roadand track-use, fitted all-new drop links, H&R uprated anti-roll bars, Ultra Racing strut braces to stiffen the chassis and I also had the subframes powdercoated and the rear subframe reinforced due to the increase in power.” The car no doubt drives spectacularly and sits beautifully low. It just looks right, especially on its black 16” Rota Grid Vs, which tie in perfectly with the numerous black details across the bodywork, and make a change from the usual suspects when it comes to E30 wheel choice, as Nicholas explains: “I have the Rota Grid Vs as I like to be different. I also like the Jap, aggressive look rather than following the crowd and having Borbets or #BBS reps.” The wheels are wrapped in Toyo Proxes tyres and sit on a stud conversion, while Ferodo DS2500 pads and EBC discs sit behind the spokes.
In terms of looks, the E30 really doesn’t need much help – subtle is often best to enhance the styling and that’s definitely been the approach here. The Aegean blue paintwork looks stunning, rich and deep, and the unpainted carbon bonnet is no less gorgeous. Other exterior additions include an eyebrow, crosshair headlights and all-red tinted rear lights. The interior, on the other hand, has received a bit more attention, as Nicholas tells us. “The car started off with a plain standard non-Sport interior but I’ve always had Sport seats in my previous E30s and knew how comfy they were so wanted another set in this car.”
He spent months searching for a pair of Sport seats but, having drawn a blank, he changed tactic and bought a pair of OMP buckets instead. Of course, no sooner had he installed them in the E30 than a pair of chequered Sport seats appeared at a good price, so he snapped them up and got rid of the buckets. And, as luck would have it, a few weeks later a rear bench, complete with headrests, and in the same pattern, popped up so Nicholas jumped on it, so to speak, and in a very short space of time had put together a rather lovely Sport interior.
In addition to that he’s fitted a suederimmed #OMP steering wheel with snap-off boss, AC #Schnitzer short-shift gear knob plus a rear blind-equipped parcel shelf. It’s smart, clean, period and suits the rest of the car, with a few subtle hints to suggest that there’s more going on here than meets the eye. We are well and truly in love with Nicholas’ E30, he’s really built himself an amazing machine. From the outside it looks so right – the colour is stunning, the carbon bonnet is spectacular and it really delivers the perfect blend of subtlety and aggression, with no single element feeling over the top or out of place, and that too can be said about the engine. It sits in the bay perfectly, looking so at home, and it’s turned this E30 into an absolute weapon.
“The huge engine is my favourite mod on the E30,” smiles Nicholas, “because the car is very inconspicuous looking.” He’s going to keep it looking that way, too, when he carries on with the mods this year: “I plan to add some fatter tyres and beef up the brakes as I’m only currently running 2.5 brakes allaround with DS2500 pads and EBC discs which fade after a couple of minutes of hard driving, and supercharge it,” he says, which is really going to turn the heat up on this E30 and take it to the next level.
Gorgeous Aegean blue on the outside, sexy Sport seats on the inside.
The S50 fits perfectly in the E30 engine bay and took owner Nicholas a week of work to get it fitted and running.
The engine is my favourite modification on the E30 because the car is inconspicuous looking Nicholas Arnold.
DATA FILE #BMW-E30-S50 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #Rota-Grid
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S50B32 / #S50 / #BMW-S50 from E36 M3 Evo, #ACL race bearings, #ARP con rod bolts, #Ramair filter, Millers Nano Drive oil, custom manifold and steering linkage, Simons race silencer and full stainless system with single dolphin tip, custom plug and play wiring loom, #AKG engine mounts, M3 3.0-litre oil pump, E34 sump, sump baffle.
TRANSMISSION Five-speed #Getrag gearbox, #Racing-Dynamics short shift kit, E34 M5 Sachs clutch with 4.5kg billet steel flywheel, E36 prop, E36 2.8 LSD in E30 medium diff case.
CHASSIS 8x16” (front and rear) black #Rota-Grid-V wheels with 195/40 (front and rear) Toyo Proxes T1-R tyres, stud conversion, fully polybushed except Z3 diff bush, #H&R anti-roll bars, #BC-Racing coilovers, #Ultra-Racing strut braces, M3 eccentric lollipop bushes, reinforced rear subframe, E30 91mm brakes and hubs, #Ferodo-DS2500 pads, #EBC discs.
EXTERIOR Respray in Aegean blue, Lite Tuned carbon fibre bonnet, crosshair headlights, eyebrows, red tinted rear lights.
INTERIOR Chequered Sport cloth interior, OMP steering wheel with snap off boss, #AC-Schnitzer short-shift gear knob, rear blind parcel shelf.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTURNING JAPANESE
If you want big power, you can’t go wrong with a bit of Japan’s finest, as this 2JZ-powered E46 #BMW-M3-E46 demonstrates. It looks and feels like a beautifully set up E46 M3 but this Irish racer conceals a host of Oriental charms. Words: Iain Curry / Photos: Paddy McGrath
“I know every nut and bolt on this car,” said Colm Murray from Cork in Ireland. Now how many of us can honestly say that about the modified cars we own? A few, certainly, but those who build or rebuild modern cars with all their electric complexities are a rare breed today. Trouble is, we’re not quite sure if he’s a BMW modifier or not…
On the outside, of course he is. Pictured is his #2003 E46 M3. Great stance, nice rims with big brakes and a roll-cage spied through the glass. Underneath, it’s all a bit less German. In fact, it’s practically all Japanese – cue grumbles from the ‘foreign invader’ brigade – but here lies Colm’s expertise and the result is around 600hp and a drift machine of engineering quality rarely seen.
Key to this build was the Irish VW mechanic doing all the work himself. “It was not a big budget build and, like a lot of the guys who drift here in Ireland, I built and maintain the car myself,” the 32-year-old said. “Drifting is a rough and tumble sport and if I couldn’t fix and maintain the car myself I simply couldn’t afford it. I like to try and use parts that are relatively cheap and available to me, this is why I used the 2JZ engine as it was familiar to me and I knew there are big horsepower gains to be had for small money.”
Yep, it’s our old friend the 3.0-litre 2JZ Toyota Supra lump that we see cropping up in many BMWs. And whether you agree with a Japanese heart for your BMW or not, it’s a brilliant engine, highly tuneable and extremely tough, allowing for the sort of power gains that can cost frightening sums if you start boosting your Munich motors.
Would it not have been easier for Colm to just go to work on a Supra or a Skyline, some will be asking? Thing is, Colm’s a true BMW fan, has history with the marque and likes the fact he’s got something different. “I loved the look of an E46 M3, and my goal was to keep it looking stock,” he said. In his younger days he had plenty of E30 BMWs, from 318s to a 325i Sport – an ideal training tool for any budding drifter. “My 325i Sport was the first car I drifted in but the scene got a bit more serious in Ireland so I bought my first Nissan Silvia which is where I learned all my suspension knowledge and fabrication skills,” he said.
“I was building and drifting numerous Nissans for about ten years so I knew what worked and what parts were reliable.” During this time Colm sampled an E46 M3 and said he liked the feel of it and that if it had more power and less weight it’d be an interesting thing to drive and drift. “I heard about a guy in Dublin racing an E46 M3 and that he had a spare bodyshell,” he explained. “After many phone calls I purchased it, but it wasn’t rolling and was completely stripped. I mean it was just bare metal.”
Already with a 2JZ Supra engine and transmission in his garage the measuring began. “The install was actually very easy,” he said. “I think I had it fitted in about two hours after making up two engine mounts and a gearbox mount. I didn’t have to modify any part of the bodyshell to fit it.” But before you start thinking these 2JZ engine swaps are fine for everyone, even with Colm’s expertise to get the car as it is today has taken the best part of two years. Only able to work on it during evenings or weekends, and when funds allowed, it has been a real labour of love.
The all-important suspension followed the engine transplant. “Of course I stuck to what I knew, which was Nissan parts, so I set about mixing bits of #BMW and Nissan parts together and somehow it all works,” Colm explained with a laugh.
Nissan Silvia suspension has been used up front, including modified coilovers, while out back Nissan 180SX rear coilovers feature with custom top mounts. Rims are Japanese tuning scene Rota Grids in 10x18” dimensions, shod in track rubber. Key to fitting these rims has been converting the E46’s hubs to the full brake and hub assemblies from an R33 Skyline GTR, allowing for a far greater range of relevant wheels. It also means Nissan Skyline brakes are used, featuring four-pot and two-pot calipers behind the rims.
The underbody work was necessarily substantial, not least to allow fitment of a Nissan R33 Skyline GTR V-Spec differential and driveshafts: ideal hardware to endure the forces at work from top level drift competitions. The Toyota Supra’s six-speed Getrag gearbox also made the leap into the M3’s shell during the build, while an Exedy twin-plate clutch has been fitted for durability. Despite Colm’s M3 being a pure track car without road registration, it could easily pass as a street car with its near-standard looks. A carbon bonnet and bootlid came up for sale from a friend so they were added, and although previously it was wrapped in camouflage style, the Irish drifter is happier with its more stock look of today.
The stripped cabin gives far more racing hints away. Colm custom-made and fitted the roll-cage himself (“what a pain in the ass that was!”), while a pair of BiMarco Grip race seats with Sparco harnesses hold driver and passenger in place, the pilot getting to grab the all-important hydraulic handbrake. The dash is a delight. It’s been stripped and flocked to prevent sun glare on the windscreen, while behind the gorgeous dished steering wheel is a Haltech Racepak digital display dash. “This was simple to fit because the Haltech is so easy to work with,” Colm said. “I couldn’t run the BMW clocks with the Toyota engine but with the Haltech it’s a dash which could just plug into the ECU.”
Serious racing machine? Without question. Colm said the car is good for 600hp at present, and hopes to see 700hp with a little more work. Key is his choice of turbo. “I had seen the #Garrett-GTX turbos on other cars and the response and power they create is awesome; it was an easy choice,” Colm said. The work around it is substantial, too, with more custom fabrication needed for the exhaust manifold and full four-inch system, while helping things keep cool (no easy task in a drift car of this magnitude) are an alloy radiator, four-inch front-mount intercooler and 12- row oil cooler. High octane juice comes from the boot-mounted fuel cell using a pair of #Bosch 044 pumps and is fed into the engine via mighty 1000cc injectors.
All this work has allowed Colm to compete in the #Irish-Drift-Championship , certainly the place a machine like this deserves to be seen, appreciated and enjoyed. It is something of a subtle masterpiece from the outside, hiding one of the most competent and complete Japanese builds underneath. It may not have much #BMW-DNA remaining but it is an incredible modified offering with that hard-to-beat E46 #BMW-M3 body. It’s an engineering marvel carried out by a very talented modifier.
DATA FILE #BMW-E46 #Toyota-2JZ-GTE / #Toyota / #BMW-M3-CSL
ENGINE: 3.0-litre straight-six #2JZ-GTE from #Toyota-Supra , #Garrett-GT35-GTX turbo / #Garrett , custom exhaust manifold, custom full four-inch exhaust system, #Tial wastegates, alloy radiator, four-inch front-mount intercooler, 12-row oil cooler, 1000cc fuel injectors, #GReddy intake plenum, custom 90mm throttle body, #Haltech ignition module, #Haltech-Pro2000 ECU.
TRANSMISSION: Toyota six-speed #Getrag gearbox, Exedy twin-plate clutch, Nissan R33 Skyline GTR V-Spec R200 differential and driveshafts.
CHASSIS: 10x18” (front and rear) #Rota-Grid alloys with 235/40 Toyo R1R track tyres (front) and 265/35 #Achilles-ATR Sport Drift tyres (rear), #Nissan-Silvia front suspension swap including modified Kei Office coilovers, hubs with custom top mounts and modified steering knuckles for more steering lock, custom lower control arms extended 40mm, Nissan 180SX rear coilovers with custom top mounts, rear subframe modified to take #Nissan differential and driveshafts, custom strengthening of rear subframe mounting points and tied into the rollcage, #Nissan-Skyline front and rear brakes with fourpiston and two-piston calipers respectively.
EXTERIOR: #Vorsteiner-VRS -style carbon fibre vented bonnet, E46 #BMW-M3-CSL-E46 -style carbon fibre bootlid, rear diffuser.
INTERIOR: #Haltech-Racepak dash, full custom T45 welded in roll-cage, original dash stripped and flocked, #BiMarco Grip racing seats, Sparco harnesses, hydraulic handbrake, 30-litre Jazz foam-filled fuel cell, twin #Bosch-044 fuel pumps with 2.0-litre swirl pot.
Just the essentials in here with #BiMarco-Grip seats, #Sparco harnesses, a hydraulic handbrake and a #Haltech-Racepak dash.
While it’s clearly not standard, exterior is surprisingly subtle for a drift car with #Vorsteiner VRS-style carbon bonnet, CSL-style carbon bootlid and rear diffuser.
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