- 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
CONTACT www.elite-d.co.ukStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationHIDDEN STRENGTH
With its subtle looks, this 135i can slip under the radar, which is handy as it’s got 460whp on tap. This 135i might look fairly ordinary but appearances can be deceptive and there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye… Words and photos: Chris Nicholls.
Disappointment is sometimes a powerful motivator. Sports teams that lose the championship one year have been known to turn that negative feeling into a springboard that pushes them to win it the next. So it was with Pete Agas and his 135i.
Initially, he wanted a 1M Coupé, but only 200 came to Australia and he missed out on the allocation. He didn’t let that get him down, though. Instead, he purchased an E82 135i and used the leftover funds to change almost every mechanical component to make it much faster than a stock 1M ever was.
The story begins back in late 2012, when he first purchased this Alpine white example fresh from the dealer. Having been inspired to tune cars ever since his youth (when watching Stephen Spielberg’s debut feature – Duel – made him think about tuning cars so he could outrun a psychotic truck driver), Pete wasn’t going to leave it untouched for long, and after posting a few pictures of it in its factory state on his online build thread (complete with the caption: ‘stock… yuck’), he started to modify it to suit his tastes.
As for those tastes? “I build, tune and customise my vehicles for performance over appearance,” he says, and as you can see, the finished car reflects that. APEX ARC-8 wheels, StopTech BBK, #Hartge silencer and M Performance carbon bits aside, there is no indication from the outside that this machine puts out 460whp at low boost and pounds around race tracks with ease. Even looking under the bonnet yields nothing to the casual observer, and unless they were looking hard, enthusiasts would only spot the AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 intake and M Performance Power Kit 2 as well. Almost everything that means anything is hidden on this build, and that’s the way Pete likes it, especially as it makes it that much easier to goad other, supposedly faster, cars into a little challenge. “I frequently drive around the South Yarra area in Victoria where there are plenty of beautiful Porsches. I may have completely decimated a couple of them in a quick squirt contest…” he says with a grin.
Of course, his E82 didn’t become this fast overnight. Indeed, having missed out on a 1M, he initially wanted just to match that car’s handling, with pure grunt not really on the radar. And even then, for the first year, Pete only drove it around with limited mods. An M Performance exhaust and exterior bits and some Rays G25 wheels upped the game from stock, but they were hardly going to help Pete reach even his initial goal. That’s why, after that 12 months, he started amassing E9x M3 suspension parts in bulk, along with other bits and pieces, so he could be ready for the next stage.
Those E9x parts included sway bars, control arms, bushings, camber link kit and strut tower brace, to which he added Swift springs. Having basically matched the 1M’s key suspension elements, Pete then moved onto the brakes, with M Performance discs, Cool Carbon brake pads and Hard Braking front titanium shims. For a little extra grunt, he added the aforementioned Power Kit 2 and controlled it via a Quaife 3.08 helical LSD in a VAC finned, clear anodised cover. A Burger Motorsports clutch delay valve and clutch stop helped in the driveline department as well. Finally, a few extra M Performance exterior and interior parts helped round it off. Until the most recent major upgrades, the diff was actually Pete’s favourite component as it improved traction no end. “The LSD just puts the power down without the e-Diff having a field day. It was easily the most notable change when driving the car back home from the workshop for the first time.” The fact the Quaife diff works with the stock traction control is a bonus, too, even if Pete doesn’t need it in the dry.
Now, you might think at this stage, having reached his initial goal, Pete would be satisfied and call it a day. After all, he had already created a very quick, but still very usable road car. However, the fact you see this rather faster beast before you shows he wasn’t done. What prompted him to go further were two new discoveries. Firstly, having gone this far into the BMW tuning world, he’d found a “huge amount of aftermarket potential within the BMW brand”, as well as a highly supportive and knowledgeable community to go with it.
Secondly, having built a track-oriented car, Pete was hardly likely to keep it purely on the road, and a visit to Phillip Island one day proved rather comprehensively that while strong, his build wasn’t perfect.
“I quickly discovered the platform needed brakes and cooling,” Pete tells us. “I also learned very quickly of the possibility of a spun rod bearing when pushing wet-sumped platforms on the track, so I quickly picked up an oil pan baffle to prevent this from happening to me.”
Having discovered these weaknesses, Pete also bolted on an oil cooler and decided that even the upgraded brakes he had weren’t going to cut it. So, as part of the final stage of mods, he purchased a StopTech BBK, with ST60 six-pot calipers on the front and ST40 four pots on the rears, matched with StopTech’s own Street Performance pads.
These clamp down on with Trophy Sport two-piece slotted discs to provide a significant upgrade in braking ability. Indeed, these are now Pete’s new favourite parts. “The new brakes not only look great, but they have an amazing pedal feel, are completely modular and replaceable and have a huge range of available pads.”
That they sit this high in his estimation is a big endorsement, given the rest of the upgrades he fitted at this stage. In the engine bay, he installed a Pure N55 Stage 2 turbo, an AR Design downpipe, Maddad midpipes and the aforementioned Hartge silencer on the hot side. He also fitted the previously mentioned AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 intake, an ETS five-inch intercooler and lower charge pipe, an Evolution Raceworks black anodised chargepipe and GFB N55 diverter valve upgrade on the cool side. Unsurprisingly, given the company’s reputation, a Dinan Stage 3 135iS tune controls the lot.
To further enhance the car’s abilities on the track, Pete also added Dinan Racing adjustable rear toe arms, Dinan front control arm bushings, Turner Motorsport solid aluminium rear subframe bushings and Ohlins Road and Track dampers. Finally, some sticky Hankook RS-3s on those handsome APEX ARC-8 wheels put all the power to the ground.
The results are quite startling. Given the sticky rubber and LSD, you’d think traction wouldn’t be a problem, but with TC off, Pete was able to spin up the wheels well into third gear on our short spot-shoot drive. “This is with the turbo at 15psi, remember,” Pete reminds us. “It’s capable of 27 or even 30psi. Frankly, I think it’d be undriveable on the street like that. I would need drag slicks or something.”
He’s probably right. The biggest impact, though, came from the fact that the power just kept on coming. Starting from around 3000rpm, it genuinely didn’t stop until very close to the redline. Owners of modern, well-tuned turbo cars will no doubt be nodding along to this in recognition, but for those who haven’t experienced such a longlasting rush, it’s quite the memorable event.
Thankfully, all of Pete’s suspension changes keep the car a lot more pinned to the ground, even if traction is a bit of an issue. It’s firm, no doubt, but even the harsh, sharp-edged bumps on Melbourne’s often lumpen roads didn’t jar particularly. It’s a testament to both the quality of the parts and Pete’s careful selections. “I like to think with the right amount of planning and research, most, if not all risks [when building a car] can be mitigated,” he says knowingly. “I checked, re-checked and triple-checked the parts that were chosen for the car and I paid very close attention to their fitment and quality before proceeding with the purchase. That research, coupled with the highly talented team over at SouthernBM (his chosen workshop), made the process easy.”
So, having now built a sleeper that can not just match a 1M but surpass it in every measure (bar width), is Pete satisfied? Is he done? Of course he isn’t. Soon after the shoot, he fitted some Kerscher 1Mstyle front wings and eventually, plans to turn it into a roadregistered track car, complete with rear seat delete, half-cage, Recaro Pole Positions, lithiumion battery, Evolution of Speed N55 manifold, E85 tune and carbon bonnet.
This would leave him without a daily driver, though, so what gives? Well, on 14 October last year, Pete watched the livestream as #BMW introduced the M2, and soon after, strode into his local dealership and ordered a manual one in Long Beach blue. We guess he never did get over the disappointment of the 1M after all…
StopTech ST60 front BBK boasts 355mm discs and six-pot calipers, necessary when you’ve got 460whp to play with.
DATA FILE #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-E82 /
ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six turbo #N55B30 / #N55 / #BMW-N55 , #M-Performance-Power-Kit-2 , #Pure-Stage-2 N55-turbo, Pure N55 inlet pipe, Evolution Racewerks N55 Type III Hard Anodised Black charge pipe, #AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 N55 intake, ETX 5” FMIC with lower chargepipe, GFB N55 diverter valve upgrade, #AR-Design N55 catted downpipe with ceramic coating, Maddad midpipes, Hartge quad-exhaust outlet silencer, 42 Draft Designs O2 sensor spacer, Dinan High Capacity oil cooler, Burger Motorsports oil catch can, JB4 ISO 5.9 with flex fuel wires - Map 6, Dimple Magnetic sump plug, Walbro 455 E85 Low Pressure Fuel Pump, Dinan Stage 3 Performance Engine Software map, VAC Motorsports N54 oil pan baffle
TRANSMISSION Standard six-speed manual transmission, Burger Motorsports modified clutch valve, Burger Motorsports Short Throw clutch stop, Quaife 3.08 helical LSD, VAC Motorsports finned differential cover (clear anodised), Dimple Magnetic transmission plug (x2), Turner Motorsport Delrin differential bushings, E46 M3 transmission bushings
CHASSIS 8.5x18” ET45 (front) and 9.5x18” ET62 (rear) #APEX-ARC-8-Hyper-Black wheels with 235/40 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Hankook Ventus RS-3 tyres, #Apex / #Apex-ARC-8 wheel stud conversion kit, #Project-Kics open-ended lug nuts, BMW E9x M3 strut tower brace, E92 M3 front and rear sway bars, E92 front upper and lower control arms, E92 rear upper control arms, E9x M3 rear lower camber link kit, Ohlins Road and Track dampers with E82 135i 7” 60Nm/MM Swift Springs (front) and E82 1M 9” 120Nm/MM Swift Springs (rear), Swift Thrust Sheets, Ohlins rear damper adjuster extenders, #Vorschlag camber plates, #Dinan-Racing adjustable rear toe arms, #Dinan Monoball front control arm bushings, #Turner-Motorsport aluminium subframe bushings, #StopTech ST60 #BBK with 355x32mm slotted, zinc-coated discs and StopTech Trophy Sport Aerohat hats (front) and #StopTech-ST40-BBK with 345x28mm slotted, zinc-coated discs and Trophy Sport Aerohat hats (rear), StopTech Street Performance pads, StopTech braided brake lines, calipers painted silver
EXTERIOR M Performance front grille in black, M Performance carbon rear lip spoiler, BMW Blackline LCI taillights, 1M mirror conversion, Hartge dual outlet exhaust diffuser PU-RIM in gloss black, Carbon roundel decals, Philips Silver Vision indicator globes, T10 W5W Amber Chrome side indicator globes, Lux H8 V4 LED angel eyes, Final Inspection Rejuvenation Detail and Full Metal Jacket
INTERIOR M Performance aluminium pedals, M Performance Alcantara steering wheel with yellow stripe, M Performance gear knob and Alcantara shift boot, M Performance handbrake handle and Alcantara boot, M Performance interior in carbon, M Performance illuminated door sills, Alcantara binnacle cover, JB4 Bluetooth module with Android integration, Precision LED E82 LED interior package, 35 per cent window tint
THANKS Harold at HP Autosport, Andrew Brien and the crew at SouthernBMStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.