- Post is under moderationLIFE ON BOOST
Turbos make everything better, as demonstrated by this hardcore, stripped-out, 356hp, turbocharged E36 325i. Finished in stunning Atlantis blue and with a turbo strapped to the engine, this E36 325i is a serious piece of kit. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andy Tipping.
Generally speaking, adding a turbo to something will only make it better. Except if it makes it blow up… But apart from that, from humble turbo diesels to mental turbo drag cars with many thousands of horsepower, turbos make everything better, make people happier and generally make the world a better place. Just look at Brad Wherrett. He started out his motoring life with a Honda Jazz, followed by a modified Polo and a tuned Honda Civic. Then he bought an E36 325i and, understandably, life got better, but then he added a turbo…
The E36 is 21-year-old vehicle technician Brad’s first BMW, and his profession has endowed him with the skills that make this sort of project somewhat easier than for those of us who can just about tell one end of a spanner from the other. His move from Japanese metal to Bavaria’s finest was seemingly an inevitable one. “The love for BMWs has run through the family for years,” explains Brad. “Since I can remember my dad and brothers have had BMWs – standard ones and modified ones – so I’ve been interested in them from a young age. For my first #BMW I decided to buy an E36 because I always liked the look of my brothers’ ones and I developed a soft spot for them.
“I found the car on Autotrader, in good condition for its age, but a few dings here and there,” says Brad, “and I quite liked the idea of ‘stancing’ the car on BBS wheels or something similar.” That idea never came to fruition, and we’re glad of it because the end result is something a lot more special. In our humble opinion, we reckon Brad has struck just the right balance between wild and tasteful with his E36. The striking shade of Atlantis blue and the GT spoiler are the most eye-catching elements of the build, even more so than the top of the turbo peeking out of the bonnet cut-out, but it’s actually a pretty subtle car. There’s a lot of matt black elements that tone down that hit of blue and it just looks like a really meaty, purposeful piece of kit, which it most definitely is.
It wouldn’t seem right talk about anything other than what’s going on under the bonnet of this car first and, usefully, the whole thing lifts off to give an uninterrupted view of what’s happened in the engine bay since Brad took charge of this 325i.
Six months of work have been poured into the engine you see here, made up of late nights and weekends, but this was not simply a case of strapping a turbo to an M50 and hoping for the best, this engine has been stripped down and fully built to deal with the stresses and strains that forced induction was going to place upon it.
This recipe for a turbocharged E36 begins with single a Vanos M50B25TU to which you then add M54B30 pistons mated to non-Vanos M50 con rods plus an M52B28 crankshaft. At this point it is a good idea to completely rebuild the engine with new timing chains, guides, tensioners, gaskets and so on because you don’t want to spend all that time building up an awesome engine only to have it break on you. The next step is to add ACL race bearings, ARP head studs, a decompression plate, monster Siemens Deka 630cc injectors and our old friend, the Bosch 044 fuel pump. With all that done, you’re finally ready to add your turbo and Brad opted for a Garrett GT35 twin-scroll snail, sitting on a custom top mount twin scroll exhaust manifold, with a Tial 50mm external wastegate and 50mm blow-off valve, feeding air through custom 3” pipework to a 600x300x76mm FMIC and into the engine via a serious-looking custom intake plenum.
Brad then handed the car over to JamSport to wire in the ECU Master DET3 engine management and put together a base map. The end result of all that work is 356hp at 10psi of boost, which is a massive 164hp increase over the standard engine’s 192hp, a gain of more than 85%. You can’t be attempting to put that much power down without some suitably beefy transmission upgrades and here Brad has opted for an E36 328i five-speed gearbox with solid mounts, a Clutch.net stage five paddle clutch, braided clutch hoses and a 2.93 limited-slip diff from an E36 328i to help put the power down/do massive burnouts with.
It’s fair to say that, as good as the stock E36 chassis is, it would struggle to deal with all that extra power, but Brad has not neglected this area of his E36 build. “If I’m honest, I got the TA Technix coilovers cheap and couldn’t say no,” he says. “I do have plans to upgrade them but I’m unsure of what brand to go for yet. I polybushed the car as some bushes were showing signs of wear and I decided to upgrade rather than fit OEM bushes.” This is definitely the way to approach any repairs on a project car and in addition to this, Brad has also added front and rear strut braces. The stock front brakes have been replaced with E46 330mm Brembo discs and pads while the rear brakes have also been replaced with standard-sized Brembo discs and pads.
“When it came to wheels, I decided on Rota Grid Drifts because I’ve always liked the look they give. I considered something a bit more eye catching but in the end I settled for the Rotas.” The chunky, concave sixspoke design really suits the E36, especially in black against the Atlantis bodywork, and they are wrapped in Yokohama rubber at the rear with Maxxis tyres up front.
Brad’s approach to the styling was the OEM+ look and it was definitely the right approach as everything he’s done to this car looks good. The M3 body kit gives it the cleaner, more aggressive styling the standard car needs and is further enhanced with the addition of the GT front lip and aforementioned GT rear spoiler. The stock mirrors have been retained but now wear carbon caps and the bootlid has been painted gloss black to match the spoiler. Brad has removed the exterior covers from the headlamps, giving them a more pronounced appearance while at the rear there’s a single, massive, Japanese-style exhaust tip.
With the overall look and feel of the car, there was only ever really one direction to take with the interior and that was the hardcore, stripped-out route. The rear seats have been given the heave-ho while the fronts have been replaced with a pair of single-piece Corbeau Clubsport buckets with four-point harnesses. Brad has also fitted a deep-dish steering wheel, metal gear knob, an EGT gauge and HKS turbo timer plus the carbon fibre triple gauge panel from a Mitsubishi Evo VIII showing volts, water temp and boost, which looks great mounted below the clock on the centre console. The interior really suits the character of the car and with this much performance on tap, those seats and harnesses are most definitely not for show.
This E36 is an awesome car. Everything about it looks right, the colour scheme is killer and it’s got a real sense of purpose about it. But the cherry on the top of this delicious slab of Atlantis blue goodness, and Brad’s favourite mod on the car, is the turbo. The fact that so much work has gone into the engine means 356hp is barely scratching the surface of what this setup is capable of and that means there’s scope for more power in the future, a lot more power. Brad is aiming for 550-600whp when the car is fully finished and running spot-on, which is going to be utterly insane and absolutely awesome with it. Whichever way you look at it, one thing’s for certain: everything is better with boost.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E36 / #BMW-325i-turbo / #BMW-325i-E36 / #M50B25TU / #M50B25 / #M50 / #BMW-M50 / #BMW-325i-turbo-E36 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW / #ECU-Master-DET3 / #M50-turbo / #Garrett-GT35 / #Garrett / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36 / #BMW-E36-Coupe / #BMW-325Ci / #BMW-325Ci-E36 /
ENGINE 2.5-litre straight-six #M50B25TU / , fully rebuilt including new timing chains, guide tensioners, gaskets etc. M54B30 pistons, M50 non-Vanos con rods, M52B28 crankshaft, #ARP head studs, ACL race bearings, decompression plate, #Siemens-Deka-630 630cc injectors, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, custom top mount twin-scroll turbo manifold, GT35 twin-scroll turbo, 50mm Tial external wastegate, 50mm blow-off valve, 3” custom exhaust, 3” intercooler hardpipes, 600x300x76mm intercooler, custom intake plenum, Toyosports oil catch can, solid engine mounts, ECU Master DET3 engine management
TRANSMISSION E36 328i five-speed manual gearbox with solid mounts, Clutch.net stage five paddle clutch, braided clutch hose, 2.93 328i limited-slip differential
CHASSIS 9x17” (front and rear) Rota grid drift wheels with 235/40 (front) Maxxis MAZ1 tyres and 245/40 (rear) Yokahoma Advan AD08R tyres, TA Technix coilovers with adjustable top mounts, front and rear strut braces, polybushed all-round, E46 330mm Brembo discs and pads (front), E36 325 brakes (rear) with #Brembo discs and pads
EXTERIOR Full Atlantis blue respray, M3 body kit, GT front lip, GT rear spoiler with risers, delensed headlamps
INTERIOR Corbeau Clubsport bucket seats, four-point harnesses, stripped-out rear seats, dished steering wheel, exhaust gas temperature gauge, Mitsubishi Evo VIII carbon fibre gauge panel, HKS turbo timer
THANKS The Paint Shop in Bruntingthorpe and JamSport in NorthamptonStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationNO COMPROMISE RS4 B5 Mint, 500bhp daily driver RS4 B5 One of the most complete UK B5s. With a solid 500bhp and some careful chassis upgrades, Carl ‘CJ’ Johnson proves you can use a tuned B5 RS4 every day… Words Davy Lewis. Photography AJ Walker.
Daily driver. For many of us, this means something boring – the kind of vehicle that’s sole purpose is to get you from A to B as reliably and cost effectively as possible. For many of us into tuning our Audis, the daily is just a run around. There’s no emotional investment. No quick look over your shoulder as you walk away after parking up. No love.
Which is totally understandable. Think about the mileage; the depreciation, and the fuel that a big-power Audi would incur. Who’d be crazy enough to run something like that every day? Say hello to Carl Johnson or CJ, as he’s better known.
CJ is a committed B5 fan and knows these things inside out. Having owned a tuned S4 for several years, he fancied moving up the B5 ladder – into the holy grail of RS4 ownership. “I’d always wanted one since I MoT’d them when they were three-years old,” comments CJ. “I’d actually gathered many of the parts needed to do a B5 ‘RS4’ widebody conversion,” he continues, “then my missus said, ‘Why don’t you sell all the parts, plus your motorbike and just buy an actual RS4.’” With the green light from the missus, he wasted no time in looking for a suitable car.
“I wanted something bone stock that I could put my own stamp on, “ he explains. “I looked at some 500bhp tuned B5s, which were great, but they were already done. Plus I didn’t know how well they’d been built.” Determined to find the best example he could, this black model ticked nearly all the boxes. “It was really well specced and even had the Alcantara steering wheel and gear knob options, as well as the nav; the only thing it didn’t have was the sunroof.” Most importantly it was 100 percent standard. All was not well though…
“When I drove it, I thought I’d made a big mistake,” laughs CJ. “It felt slower than my 360bhp S4!”
The initial disappointment soon became a positive, as CJ began planning how to make it faster and more exciting.
“First came a Milltek exhaust system complete with de-cats and a modified air box, before I took it to MRC Tuning for a remap.” The RS4 was now much more fun and had the power to see off his old S4. But there was more to come.
“I fitted larger intercoolers, bigger injectors and uprated fuel pump, and with an MRC Stage 3 map, it made 500bhp and 700Nm,” smiles CJ. “The power with the Stage 3 is aggressive and the traction control kicks in in first, second and third. The mapping is second to none and the 0-60mph is less than 4-seconds.”
Although CJ takes advantage of the flat-shift function, he admits to only using launch control on three or four occasions to preserve his clutch. This thing really is an animal when you want it to be. But it’s also docile as anything when you don’t.
Part of the reason this RS4 handles so compliantly on the road is due to the chassis upgrades. CJ lives in an area littered with speed bumps, and although he fitted lowering springs, they didn’t suit him as they were too crashy. At the time of writing, a set of Bilstein B8 dampers are ready to go on the car to complement the OEM RS4 springs.
There’s a lot more to it underneath, though.
034 Motorsport anti-roll bars have been added, along with an AWE drive train stabiliser, which CJ says has transformed the way the B5 handles. You’ll also find an 034 snub mount. With a full complement of new bushes and a geometry set up, this RS4 now offers pin sharp steering and can be persuaded to corner at phenomenal speed. It feels tight and responsive – not at all like a 15-year old car. In fact, the only area letting it down now was the brakes.
“The stock brakes were useless,” admits CJ, “so I got hold of a set of B7 RS4 brakes front and rear.” The calipers have been painted bright yellow and feature the logo of a rather high-end Italian supercar manufacturer.
Throughout the entire build CJ has been careful to keep everything very OEM. One area where he was prepared to go aftermarket was the wheels. “I had the original RS4 wheels refurbed as two were buckled,” recalls CJ, “but I really wanted something to show off the big brakes better.” Not wanting anything too fussy, good mate and serial Audi tuner, Julian Loose, suggested a set of quality MTM alloys in the perfect size and fitment for his B5. These nicely understated wheels are different enough to notice, yet subtle enough not to spoil that OEM look of the car. And with 10mm spacers they fill the arches to perfection.
The rest of the exterior has been left pretty much as Ingolstadt intended, except for a SEAT Cupra splitter and Wagner foglight delete grilles. The glossy black paint receives regular TLC using Auto Finesse products, as well as a full Scholl Concepts three-stage mop several times a year. “I get the wheels off and clean them with Ph-balanced cleaner, as well as regularly doing inside the arches – it gets pampered!” smiles CJ. But then it should.
As we’ve said before, the only way to keep on top of an older RS model like this is with regular, preventative maintenance and cleaning. This is doubly so with it being used daily. Incidentally, when pressed on the matter of fuel consumption, CJ confesses that he gets about 16mpg, which makes the fact he still uses it all the more remarkable. But he sums it up by saying, “What’s the point of being into a car for £20k and not using it?” It’s this refreshing attitude that has seen CJ get to the heart of the B5 community. He looks after the maintenance for owners across the UK and has worked on many of the UK’s finest B5s including Julian’s B5 wide body from the cover of AT013. He can regularly be found on the Audi SRS and B5 owners’ forums.
Inside, as you’d expect, things are very OEM. The sat nav unit has been upgraded to the later RNSE system, and there’s a boost gauge nestling in one of the air vents, but aside from that it’s all standard RS4 fair. Even the Alcantara steering wheel and gear knob were factory options, which CJ sent off to be refreshed – “they were black,” he adds.
The RS4 is now at the stage where CJ is happy with it and he’s even booked his first track day at our own event, VAG Tuner Live at Donington on 10 July. “I only live five minutes away, so if I break it, I can walk home!” he laughs. We don’t think that’s likely though and can see him continuing to have one of the best commutes to work of any of us.
SPECIFICATION #Audi-RS4-B5 / #Audi-RS4 / #Audi-A4-B5 / #Audi-A4 / #Audi / #Audi-RS4-Milltek-B5 / #Tanoga-Engineering / #MTM-Bimoto / #MTM / #Carl-CJ-Johnson /
Engine 2.7 biturbo #V6 , #Milltek dual exhaust system, Originial Fabrications 3in catless downpipes, #Siemens-Deka-630 fuel injectors, #Bosch-413 fuel pump, #Wagner intercooler kit, #MRC-Tuning panel filter with MRC modified air box, 034 silicone intake hoses, 034 TFSI coil conversion with copper plugs, MRC Stage 3 remap with launch control and flat shift, Devil’s Own water methanol kit
Power 500bhp and 700Nm
Transmission 6-speed manual box with #Tanoga-Engineering short shifter
Brakes B7 RS4 brakes front and rear with braided lines
Suspension #Bilstein B8 dampers, OEM RS4 springs, 034 Motorsport front ARB, 034 rear ARB with billet strengthening brackets, 034 snub mount, AWE drive train stabiliser, new bushes throughout
Wheels MTM ‘Bimoto’ alloys in 9.5x18in with 255/30x19in tyres and H&R 10mm hubcentric spacers
Interior RnsE headunit conversion with 2015 maps and factory integrated Bluetooth, Podi boost gauge mounted in air vent, Alcantara refreshed
Exterior Stock RS4 with SEAT Leon Cupra front splitter, Wagner foglight delete grilles, genuine Audi headlight protectors, stubby roof aerial, tinted windows, Jaguar front wing stone deflectors
Contacts/thanks MRC Tuning for the map, Cookie and Caddy for the detailing, Julian Loose, WOT Motorsport and my long suffering wife Natalie
Above: A man who knows his B5s Bottom: Audi gecko.
Above: B5 perfection? It can’t be far off Left: Original interior has been subtly updated.
“This thing really is an animal when you want it to be”
Above: Water/meth kit in the boot Below: Alcantara wheel has been fully renovated
Left: Who doesn’t love the front end of a B5 RS4? Above: Fog light delete Below: Those brakes aren’t shy!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.