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    4 THE WIN

    Bagged, with gorgeous HRE splits, this BMW E93 Convertible is one slick sun-seeking ride. Eva Verzelen isn’t your average modifier, she’s a female and back with her latest toy – an E93 320i – her fourth feature in just as many years. We think you’ll like her… Words: Joel Newman. Photos: Kevin Raekelboom.

    Successful aftermarket styling has been and will remain a subjective concept. What floats one person’s boat may invariably sink another. Whatever styling cues you take the chances are some will appreciate your work, others will not. However in the case of Eva Verzelen’s E93 320i we beg to differ. The subtle tweaks and revisions Eva has made to her latest motor have created one of the most desirable cars we’ve ever laid eyes on.

    Don’t be too surprised though, our heroine’s had rather a lot of practice. You’re currently looking at Eva’s fourth feature in Performance BMW. Previously her ICE’d up E46 316i graced our 01/04 issue. Developing and perfecting this same car, Eva was back in 09/04 with the addition of a two-tone paint scheme, wide-arch styling and fresh leather. Following on from this, a two-year gap gave Eva just enough time to completely overhaul the family pin-up. In 06/06 the final incarnation of the E46 was completed, and this time it had grown up somewhat. Gone was the two-tone paint, replaced by a marvellous House Of Kolor Brandy hue, in place of the Racing Dynamics rollers were a set of gold powdercoated HRE rims, styling was improved with M3 bumpers and a CSL boot lid. It had, unlike so many projects, matured and improved over time. As trends and attitudes changed, the less is more approach to modifying started to catch on and quite rightly Eva was leading this field.

    Like any good parent though, she also appreciated there comes a time when, however attached we’ve become, we must let go.

    Some two and a half years later Eva is back once again, and she’s got a brand new look. It’s often worrying when previous feature car owners get in touch to say their latest project is ready. It can be a rather awkward situation if we feel their new creation isn’t what our readers are looking for, especially when they’ve already got it right once before. Thankfully and impressively we can put our hand on our hearts and tell you that with each successive feature Eva’s cars have got better and better.

    For the past four years, Eva has steadily been building up her Internet business and the hard work has paid off. Like many of us she has always dreamed of owning a brand spanking new BMW, and deservedly she has finally achieved just that. “I’ve always been in love with the E46 Convertible, but when the E93 came out I fell in love all over again! When the hard-top arrived my lust developed to the point where it couldn’t be ignored; whatever the cost I had to have one.”

    As a Belgian resident Eva wasn’t struck with the usual performance dilemma as driving a car with any thing larger than a 2.0-litre engine on this side of the Channel is an offence punishable by death, or so we’re led to believe… As such the decision of which lump to go for was removed from the equation, leaving Eva with the enviable task of picking her favourite colour and determining how she would transform the car and earn an unbelievable fourth feature. Before we go any further you need to be furnished with the facts. Eva is married to a gentleman named Geert, who just so happens to be the director of the European chapter of US-based styling forum and drives a dazzling Alpine white, chrome rimmed E60 too.

    The pair enjoy weekend jaunts to various shows, sharing a passion for modified cars, as well as each other. I guess it’s fair to say it’s the kind of relationship we all hanker after; no one likes the sour look on a partner’s face when that passion is not shared and you’re trying to justify your latest outlay.

    “I know they cost two thousand pounds darling, I know you’ve been wanting to go on that holiday, but just look at her, she’s 30mm lower all round!” It takes a woman like Eva, or a husband like Geert to smile and say “what’s next?”

    So with ample encouragement and a sprightlier bank account than ever before, Eva jumped in head first and purchased a pristine Alpine White III E93. Being a new car Eva was free to spec it as she saw fit, which enabled her to get the foundations of her dream project in place. “I’ve always fantasised about a white BMW with Shadowline trim and a red leather interior and I was finally in a position to just tick a box and have it. Along with the six-speed manual transmission I knew I had all the bases covered, and I certainly had a good idea where I wanted to take the project.”

    Even before taking delivery, Eva and her friends on had discussed which direction to take the car and unanimously the OEM plus look won the day. “I’d done the wide-arch look, I’d had the two-tone paint and at the time they really captured the scene. In the past few years my tastes have changed and standards on the scene have gone up so it was important to me that my car reflected this.” After only two days of ownership her new toy was subjected to its first enhancements. In keeping with her new clean and simple ethos, Eva ordered a carbon Vorsteiner front lip spoiler and replaced her standard rollers with a set of polished lipped, powdercoated gold 19” 540R HRE rims, the perfect complement to the white paint scheme.

    Eva was then keen to get the car’s stance just right, an often under-appreciated side of chassis augmentation that can make or break a car. Regardless of which suspension you’ve opted for, getting the correct combination of ride height, wheel size and tyre profile is paramount to the way a car sits, and Eva knows it.

    So much so that she took the plunge and created the world’s first E93 Cabriolet with air-ride. Although common on street rods and mini trucks and OEM on many luxurious cars from the likes of Maybach, Rolls Royce and Lexus, air suspension is still viewed with scepticism, mostly through ignorance than anything else. While it is true that in the past ’bags have been a little unreliable, today, that is simply not the case. The truth is that air-ride is not suitable for everyone.

    Basically, if you don’t spend time on track and are more of a cruiser than a racer then air-ride should be recommended. It’s comfortable, useful and enables you to have your car far lower without the normal headaches. Yes it may be expensive but it makes a huge difference to the appearance of any car, and at the touch of a button makes the impractical practical. Eva entrusted the car to JV-Tuning who faultlessly installed the system, which is no mean feat considering it is a world first.

    Subsequently this E93 has got its stance just right, and it’s partly because of this that everything else falls into place. The success of the project cannot be gifted to the suspension and wheels alone, as they say the Devil is in the details.

    Starting with the exterior transformation Eva has been quick to personalise her ride, her first step being the redesign of the rear bumper. With the help of Jem Design the bumper has been smoothed and a custom rear carbon diffuser integrated. It’s a stunning piece of work that looks like a factory fitted item and hints at the E46 M3 CSL’s rear end. We’re aware Eva’s colour scheme adds to its appeal but BMW’s latest M3 could certainly have benefited from such defining styling cues. Alongside the custom quad exhaust Eva plumped for, it has rear of the year written all over it.

    Along with the delicate integration of carbon door mirrors, black kidney grilles and the aforementioned Shadowline trim, every facet that creates the car’s image adds something to the mix.

    With the car coming along rather well Eva was keen to break the mould even further. “The air-ride was something I’d always dreamed of but there were other chassis modifications I was desperate to acquire. For me, a big brake kit sets off any car and I had envisaged the look of big red calipers peering through my gold HREs. People thought it was a waste of money because it’s only a 2.0-litre engine, but it’s not the case. The brake kit not only stops the car on a penny and looks a treat, it also ties the interior in with the exterior and that for me completes the car. It is my favourite modification.”

    With 335mm front and rear discs and six- pot and four-pot calipers respectively, the XYZ big brake kit was complete and Eva was finally pleased with her car’s exterior.

    The interior was, as you’d expect, rather nice to begin with so with the addition of a few M-Tech goodies such as the steering wheel, handbrake, pedals and footrest, all that was left to do was throw in some custom Europrojektz mats, stuff a BMW Performance strut brace under the bonnet, take a few photos and email them to Performance BMW magazine.

    DATA FILE #BMW-E93 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E93 / #BMW-320i-E93 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E93 / #BMW-3-Series-Convertible / #BMW-3-Series-Convertible-E93 /

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: Four-cylinder 2.0-litre #N42 / #BMW-N42 / #BMW with reworked air box, custom quad exhaust system. Manual six-speed gearbox

    CHASSIS: 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) gold powdercoated 540R 19” #HRE wheels shod in 225/35 and 255/30 Pirelli PZero Nero tyres respectively. BSS air suspension with #Koni adjustable coilovers, #BMW-Performance strut brace. #XYZ big brake kit with six-pot front calipers and four-pot rear calipers mated to 355mm discs

    EXTERIOR: Shadowline exterior trim, de-badged, carbon #Vorsteiner front lip, custom rear bumper with integrated carbon diffuser, carbon door mirrors, matt black kidney grille

    INTERIOR: Sports seats in Coral red Dakota leather, High Gloss interior trim, black Alcantara carpets with Europrojektz logo, M-Tech steering wheel, handbrake handle and gear knob, pedals and footrest

    THANKS: Jurgen at JV-tuning, Dario, Yves and my husband Geert

    This E93 has got its stance just right, and it’s partly because of this that everything else falls into place
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    Joel Newman
    Joel Newman joined the group BMW E90 3-Series and family Club
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    The 330Ci is a fantastic machine, but with a supercharger strapped to its straight-six, it’s even better. For those not lucky enough to be able to afford a weekly runaround, compromise is something many BM owners have had to accept. Well compromising need no longer mean settling for less, as Harv Singh’s supercharged E46 330Ci demonstrates. Words: Joel Newman. Photos: Matt Barnes.

    When your good friend and cousin is Kav Bhamra, the owner of one of the finest E46 330Cis on the UK scene, what little money you do have is certainly hard to cling on to!

    Harv Singh, a 27-year-old IT systems analyst, has found out that chasing perfection needn’t be costly though, and can be a hugely rewarding business. Like a rolling snowball, his car has gathered a huge selection of custom Hamann parts over the past two years. But, like most modified cars this re-style was never really planned. “It has just kind of happened, I guess. I see things I like, whether online or through my friends, then I try to find them for reasonable money. I love a good deal so often I’ll buy things even if at the time I can’t afford to fit them,” explains Harv.

    Unlike many of the other modified BMs on the UK scene, this is no chequebook car. “I have had to work very hard to pay for every addition I have made, but, I think people who just pay to have their cars modified are missing the point. They don’t get half the satisfaction I do,” Harv says.

    He’s quite right too; in our experience all the best feature cars have taken years to create, and often arise through owner dedication over and above a bottomless bank account.

    This supercharged E46 330Ci is Harv’s second BMW. His first, an E36 328i Sport, was bought when he was an impoverished student. With the limited money he did have, he managed to upgrade the alloys to 19” Hartge Classics and improve the suspension with Eibach springs. Although modifications were not extensive, the car cemented Harv’s relationship with BMW, and provided him with enough passion and inspiration to take the next step into the tuning scene. Straight from university Harv found employment, and within six months had purchased, what is to date, one of the most perfectly proportioned Threes I’ve ever laid eyes on: an Estoril blue, 330Ci Clubsport.

    Harv purchased the car for a variety of reasons and is often asked why he didn’t choose an E46 M3. Surely by now, after all these mods he must have paid well over the asking price of the Motorsport coupé? Harv laughs: “You’re probably right, I have paid far more than the asking price of an M3, but what people forget time and time again is the running costs. As a daily driver the E46 M3 just isn’t practical. With the miles I do, the servicing and running costs are far higher than my 330Ci. It’s just more economical, even with the supercharger. I also don’t feel I could have made the M3 as beautiful as I have made my car, well not without selling the house!” Harv, you could just be right.

    As with most of our feature cars, Harv never intended to go this far, it just sort of spiralled out of control. Ironically, the whole process was kicked off because of a fault with the car when Harv found the original 18” factory split rims had corroded on the inside. The wheels, the previous owner assured, were covered under BMW’s anticorrosion policy. It turns out he was right, so the car was sent to BMW and a few days later a gleaming set of new rims adorned every arch. With the good fortune of having been gifted four shiny alloys Harv decided to sell them and put the money towards a set of 19s. So, with the help of Hamann, he settled for 19” HM2s, sourced by friend Scotty from Chapel Tyres. These wheels are by no means common, and what separates them is their width. At 10” a piece, Harv reckons these are the widest rears on any E46 330Ci in the UK. Standing behind the car I have to say I’m inclined to agree.

    With such wide rims Harv couldn’t simply pop them on so the arches were rolled by Style Dynamics to accommodate all that new rubber. With the wheels no longer rubbing, Harv and Kav set about fitting Boge lowering springs and four-pot racing calipers so the stance and stopping potential of the car would match the epic wheel proportions. Kav is in fact such a dab hand with all things BMW that he managed to do this on Harv’s front driveway! He then installed Generation 2 angel eyes, which he purchased through Teddy Hsu at SSDD Motorsport.

    To improve performance on went a Supersprint twin exhaust system, stainless steel back-box and GruppeM-style carbon fibre induction kit. At the rear of the car facelift LEDs were fitted, which was not as easy as it may sound. In truth, Harv had to take the car to Jason from B&W Chip Tune so the ECU could be recalibrated to accept the new lights, a time-consuming exercise but one that really freshens up the coupé.

    Subtle detailing such as the Projector indicators and upgraded silver bulbs also add a new dimension to this Three.

    As previously mentioned Harv was not in a position to fully customise his ride in one fell swoop. Therefore, like many modifiers, he acquired different body parts as and when they appeared online. Our man had no real strategy, just an insistence on buying genuine items for bargain prices, which is not an easy task at the best of times!

    Nonetheless, like a squirrel preparing for winter, Harv gathered, mostly from eBay, an original E46 CSL boot lid, E46 M3 front bumper and bonnet, and full black leather E46 M3 interior. Kav once again got right on the case, installing the new Nappa leather.

    To save money on paintwork and before Harv had the car resprayed he realised that now was the time to purchase any additional body parts. After much discussion and many an hour on Harv decided to go with Hamann once again, this time ordering GTR sideskirts, carbon fibre front splitter, brake duct mouldings and genuine M3 electric fold-up mirrors.

    Des, a friend of Harv’s took on the job of fitting and fabricating the new parts. Most went on without issue, but as those of you familiar with original M3 body parts will know, they don’t simply bolt on to the 330Ci.

    In fact, Des had to remove at least 2” either side of the front bumper just to get it to fit comfortably, and to fit the M3 bonnet needed to adjust and realign the front arches. The finish is flawless and the car genuinely looks like it’s fresh from the factory. There are no ill-fitting lines or minor disharmonies so common when modifiers stray from OEM parts. It could be Harv’s stringent policy of sticking with genuine Hamann items for the exterior body styling that makes this project such a success. It is wonderful to see BMWs that look like BMWs, especially when they are sharper, in our opinion, than the original design.

    Our day’s photoshoot with the car took place on an airfield, a setting that attracts clientele who, how can I say it, are filthy rich! Even in these upper echelons of society amateur pilots continually wandered over to get a closer look. And they didn’t even know about the supercharger!

    Let’s get back to the car. Harv considered his project complete once Des handed over the keys but things like superchargers don’t just happen, do they? The facts are as follows. An Evotechnik member decided to de-mod his car in order to sell it. He mentioned on the forum that his ’charger was for sale on a first come, first serve basis. Music to Harv’s (and let’s be honest Kav’s) ears. A few phone calls later and Harv had secured it, but there was a catch, as he explains: “He told me I had to un-install the part myself so I gave Kav a call. He went down there and got on with removing it.

    Surprisingly it came out without hassle.” Due to work commitments Harv was required to go to the US just days after acquiring his new toy but he was so excited that he decided to have the supercharger installed while he was away, hoping he could collect it on his return. However, with the project running so smoothly it was only a matter of time before Harv would reach a stumbling block, and this was it. The garage informed him that his new supercharger had seized and that his car was not only taking up room but was undrivable. The following few days were a nightmare, with Harv on and off the phone to Infinitus, the manufacturer of the original supercharger.

    Fortunately the previous owner had driven over to Germany to see it installed in his car personally and as such the company were well aware of this particular ’charger’s existence. Pure luck was on the side of Harv because during the period of complaint, the firm was busy testing Alpina superchargers. Harv’s insistence paid off because a few days, and many phone calls later with the huge workload the Infinitus boys had on, manager Dirk Ochmann decided to send Harv a brand new supercharger, replacing the failed unit.

    That’s right, brand new! The part was shipped directly to the garage holding the car and within days it was fitted.

    Harv arrived home to a car whose looks were now backed up by its performance. In fact at 300bhp Harv has got himself a really potent 330Ci that doubles up as an everyday cruiser. The sound alone is worthy of a Grammy, a deep burble harmonising with a high-pitched wail when he floors the throttle, music to any petrolhead’s ears.

    Harv explains: “The new performance is perfect; it’s fast, immediate to respond and unique. The supercharger has been my best modification to date, it’s transformed the car.”

    To complete the project Kav convinced Harv to update the cabin and fit a full CSL weave carbon interior pack, the perfect accompaniment to the M3 leather. With the aid of Ben Sweetman of Chromeline Design the car’s styling was complete.

    Harv’s car has really impressed us. Instead of the E46 M3 wannabe we had pictured what he’s actually done is far more appealing. A subtle, classically styled Three that does not need to boast via exaggerated arches or quad exhaust tailpipes. In my opinion, if the M3 were a person it would be brash, slightly crude and annoyingly wealthy; think Michael Carrol Lotto lout.

    Harv’s Hamann styled 330Ci is a far cry from the ASBO generation. A svelte, potent, yet reserved character more akin to James Bond. This is the kind of car that 007 might drive when the Aston’s in the garage, and that, I’m sure you will agree, is never a bad thing.

    DRIVE-MY’s new waistcoats went down a treat with Harv and Joel. Only a slightly better option than being run over by a plane.

    DATA FILE SUPERCHARGED #BMW-330Ci-E46 / #BMW-330Ci / #BMW-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged-E46 / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged / #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 / #M54-Supercharged / #Infinitas / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46

    ENGINE: 3.0-litre six-cylinder, #Infinitas-SK+ Supercharger, Infinitus air filter, carbon fibre engine cover, Supersprint twin stainless steel exhaust system with 80mm tips

    CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear), #Hamann-HM2 s shod in 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rears) with Dunlop Sport 9000 tyres, 12mm Spacers up front, #FK-Highsport coilovers suspension kit, #ATE 4-pot calipers (front) with Hamann decals, AC Schnitzer-style front strut brace

    EXTERIOR: OEM E46 M3 front bumper, #Active-Autowerkes M3-style bumper mesh, OEM E46 M3 bonnet, Hamann carbon fibre front splitter, Chromeline Design carbon fibre kidney grille, #Hamann-GTR side skirts, OEM E46 M3 electric fold-up mirrors, Hamann brake duct covers, sport rear bumper with colour-coded diffuser, OEM CSL boot lid, SSDD black projector indicators with silver bulbs, OEM xenon headlight conversion, Generation 2 CCFL angel eyes, OEM LED rear light clusters

    INTERIOR: Full M3 black Nappa leather, Chromeline Design carbon fibre dash kit and upper steering wheel section (CSL weave), Hamann handbrake handle, Hamann gear knob, Hamann carbon fibre door trims

    ICE: Pioneer head unit with 12-disc changer, Harmon Kardon factory upgrade speaker system

    THANKS: Kav Bhamra for ongoing advice and help with fitting, Des for all the painting of the external modifications, Jason of B&W Chiptune, Ben of Chromeline Design, Teddy of SSDD Motorsport, and Evotechnik forum members for ongoing guidance and support, Infinitas in Germany, my family for putting up with my addiction!

    19” Hamann HM2s look outstanding alongside the ATE 4-pot calipers and genuine Hamann decals Left: Full M3 interior adds a touch of class and provides additional support with the incresed power.

    Infinitas SK + supercharger dominates the engine bay while carbon fibre engine covers and AC Schnitzer-stlye front strut brace turn something already beautiful into a work of art.

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    Joel Newman
    Joel Newman joined the group BMW E46 3-series Club
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    Joel Newman
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    It started life as an unassuming #BMW-318i / #BMW-318i-E36 , but an #S54-swap totally transformed this E36. Parked up, Chris Lunn’s stripped E36 318i certainly wouldn’t turn heads. However turning the key unleashes 348bhp of unbridled E46 M3 power. Could this be the UK’s finest street sleeper? Words: Joel Newman. Photos: Dan Pullen.

    To own a feature-worthy project car you’ve got to be clinically insane or just plain mental. Okay, okay maybe that’s a little harsh, but I think you’ll agree that to put all your time, money and soul into any inanimate object requires an ounce of lunacy far outweighing that of the average Joe. The star of this next feature has those characteristics in spades. His hunger for performance has led him through every nook and cranny of the E36 318i M40 modifying underworld. After succeeding in pushing the envelope as far as it could he got his hands on a brand new, much larger, much more shiny envelope, the S54 lump from the E46 M3.

    The story begins in 1994, soon after Chris fell in love with and purchased the feel and thrill of the front engined rear-wheel drive 3 Series Saloon. It is, by his own admission, his first and only car and its evolution is of such fairytale proportions that, if we hadn’t seen and ridden in it ourself, we would scarcely believe.

    Back then, with a mere 115bhp 1.8-litre four-cylinder lump, power was never on the generous side. Despite this, the trained electrician and musician gained as much track time as possible, kicked off with an open pit session at Castle Combe in 1995 as Chris explains: “To start off the car was awful. The handling was reasonable but on the straights anything and everything went past me.”

    It was soon after this that Chris started reading car magazines, and in conjunction with the people he was meeting at the track events, he had at his disposal all the expertise he would require to create the car that he longed for.

    After a chance meeting at a track day Chris started talking to Graham Lee owner of Lee’s BMW in Wembley. Together they fitted a performance exhaust and air filter, then had the car remapped at AmD Technik in Oxfordshire. Soon after the car was dyno’d where it produced only 3bhp over standard – something needed to be done.

    With help from Torque Development International in Barking Chris set about fitting Shrick cams, porting the cylinder heads, installing enlarged throttle bodies and remapping the car once again. After the work, like a crazed father the car was marched back to AmD, this time it put down an additional 20bhp. Once again Chris peered disappointingly into his now empty wallet…

    Feeling somewhat dejected, as strange as it seems he had grown fond of his beloved four-pot. Like a belligerent child he wanted to stick with it and after a chance meeting, this time with Bexley Motor Works, Chris carried on further down into the, dare we say it, money pit.

    Bexley felt that to best improve the car, the rear drum brakes needed to go. The guys managed to find a rear axle from an E36 328i complete with rear disc brakes. Chris himself then purchased and fitted a dBilas individual throttle body kit and Bexley worked on the MBE engine management system.

    During this period our man fitted E36 M3 front and rear bumpers and side skirts, which although offer no form of protection from impact, help reduce weight quite significantly. To shed further pounds he stripped out the interior and fitted a carbon bonnet. Finally Chris installed four-pot Brembos and floating discs up front. The car was once again rolling roaded and produced a more impressive 158bhp and 153lb ft of torque but the 318i – and Chris for that matter – were at the end of their tether. The M40, although a willing comrade could not, without force induction at least, be pushed a millimetre further. As sad as it was, Chris knew he had to move on.

    He began hunting for a replacement lump. The first port of call for the engine swap was the 2.5-litre 220bhp S14 from the E30 M3. Used by some E36 touring cars this powerplant is renowned for its lightweight, rev hungry attitude and is ideally suited to track driving. It was only financial reasons that stopped Chris making this swap, as the lads at Bexley pointed out that for the money, the power increase he would achieve would be minimal.

    He then began looking for an E36 M3 Evo lump but could find nothing to match his criteria. He was about to give up when, after an inquisitive snoop on eBay, he stumbled on the greatest bargain of the century. There before him, with just five minutes remaining on the sale was an E46 M3 engine with just 20k on the clock, the current price just £1100. Chris bid £1300 for it and in an instant it was his as he recalls: “At the time I just thought ‘what have I done?’ but I just went with it and prayed! I called the guy and asked if I could come and look at it and he said ‘no’ I’ll come to you. He turned up and had the engine complete with gearbox on a B&Q palette. He said I could have the lot for £1500.” Chris gave it a good once over but the seller guaranteed it was legitimate and he took a chance and went for it. There is no doubting it was a massive gamble.

    One of the main reasons the project was so difficult from the outset was because it is quite literally a first. In Europe at least, no one has ever done this before and Chris wasn’t sure if it had ever been legitimately achieved anywhere before. It was therefore down to Bexley to confirm that the mounting points for the E36 and E46 M3 engines were relatively close and that the S54 from the E46 should fit. They explained, however, that the gearbox on the E46 is longer and as a result the E36’s propshaft would have to be cut. Problems spiralled further as Bexley encountered yet another major issue. The E36 318i runs an open diff. In an E46 the diff is controlled by the engine management system, however since all the electronic gizmos would need to be eradicated if the S54 was to run smoothly in the E36, the limited slip diff from the E46 could not be installed, there simply wouldn’t be the technology necessary to run it. To scupper the problem Nigel and Jags at Bexley had to utilise the mechanical E36 M3 diff. The running gear for Chris’s ride would have to be a mixture of amalgamated E36 and E46 technology resulting in an E46 gearbox and propshaft front end welded and integrated into the E36 M3’s propshaft. This enabled it to operate with the E36 rear differential and rear axle. Interesting stuff when you’re reading about it, mind numbingly difficult and problematic when you’re building it!

    The next dilemma that the team faced was the E36’s steering column. On the E46 the rack narrowly misses the manifold, and if this was not the case with the E36 it would really threaten the project. Through some sort of divine intervention it just so happens that the E36’s steering column ran exactly the same way as the E46’s. Chris points out that this was a real turn up for the books as both the E46’s engine and bay are wider; by pure chance fate was playing along with Chris’ wild plans.

    As mentioned, because it was impossible to run the E46s software in the E36, the fly-by-wire throttle found on the E46 M3 had to be replaced and exchanged for a manual throttle cable. Unfortunately because of the way the new engine sat, the E36 M3’s variant didn’t fit into Chris’s car, so Bexley fabricated the piece themselves.

    Finally with the project looking like it was on track it was time to take on the cooling system. The E36 M3’s radiator was fabricated and mounted on new brackets and after a few trial runs it was supplying sufficiently cool air to the new lump. To complete the car final touches included a Heigo bolt-in roll-cage, relocating the battery behind the passenger’s seat, Full Black Art Design coilover race suspension, a UUC magnesium front strut brace and enlarged ITG air filter. With a Recaro bucket and Sabalt harness already installed and a rear wing fitted the car was ready to roll.

    Just two days before the shoot, one of the UK’s greatest sleepers was unveiled to its proud owner. On its first rolling road the car put down a hefty 348bhp and 277lb ft. The once budget 318i is now one of the fastest BMW’s in the UK thanks to Bexley, as well as being one of the most understated performance cars you’ll ever come across. Capable of 185mph, this thing accelerates with such ferocity that it definitely outstrips the performance of the E46 M3 and quite possibly the E46 M3 CSL. It may have been expensive, it may be hugely impractical, but to all of you that look at your pride and joy and dream of more, listen up. Whether it takes you a year or two decades, persistence pays off. A dollop of insanity, a piggy bank and a die hard mission can lead you to uncharted territory. After fitting his first air filter Chris kept his cool and followed the mantra ‘one day at a time’. Fourteen years later, and without any sudden cash windfall he now owns a car that drives and behaves like the one he desired all those years ago. With future plans to install a lightweight flywheel and clutch, slick tyres and a carbon airbox, power will only increase, and whether it takes him a week or five years to get this sorted, Chris can attest to one thing: good things come to those who wait.

    The running gear for Chris’s ride would have to be a mixture of amalgamated E36 and E46 technology.

    He turned up and had the engine complete with gearbox on a B&Q palette. He said I could have the lot for £1500. There is no doubting it was a massive gamble.

    DATA FILE #BMW-E36 / #BMW-E36-S54 / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 /

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54 / #BMW-S54 / #S54B32 engine, ITG air filter, #Scorpion de-cat, #Sebring-DTM exhaust. E46 M3 six-speed gearbox with #UUC short-shift, E36 M3 rear axle and differential, E36 and E46 M2 fabricated propshaft, E36 M3 transmission tunnel cross brace

    CHASSIS: 17” #AC-Schnitzer-Type-2 wheels shod in Yokohama AVS 235/40 tyres with #Eibach wheel spacers. Black Art Design coilovers, Ground Control front camber plates, UUC magnesium front strut brace and AC Schnitzer rear strut brace, #Eibach anti-roll bars, TC Kline racing monoball rear trailing arms and aluminium bushes. #Brembo four-pot front brake conversion with 238mm discs and #Ferodo DS3000 pads, #Zimmermann crossdrilled and vented discs with Ferodo DS2500 pads rear

    INTERIOR: Fully stripped with Heigo bolt-in rollcage, Recaro SPG seat with Sabelt four-point harness, AC Schnitzer steering wheel and pedal set, AC Schnitzer gear knob

    EXTERIOR: E36 M3 bumpers and side skirts, carbon fibre bonnet, AC Schnitzer mirrors, Hamann STW rear spoiler with carbon fibre lip, Race Tech tow ring

    The M40, although a willing comrade could not, without force induction at least, be pushed a millimetre further. As sad as it was, Chris knew he had to move on
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    Joel Newman
    Joel Newman joined the group BMW E36 3-Series and M3 Club
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