rwdsport Reader
1/5/14 1:55 a.m.

Hey Gents,

So my current DD is an FRS, which I was planning to slowly convert into a serious track capable machine over the next two years. I told myself this time around I would do it properly and try not to compromise on parts: AP brakes, JRZ doubles (or Ohlins/Motons), a nice OMP seat, oil cooler...etc. The thing is, suddenly I am in 10k, only half done and I have ruined a really, really nice street car that I enjoy immensely.

So I thought about seeing if I can find anything locally with said ~10k to have as the toy for the same money as the mods and leave the car "in the family" without ruining it. Found what looks like to be a proper low key well thought out e36 build with most of the parts that I would want anyway, except I know very little about BMW's other than the spec sheets that we all know off by heart (coming from miata + boost background). I have seen the e36 recommended here as a durable dual purpose track rat that seem to be reliable. From reading GRM literature I know that cooling is always something to look out for and soft BMW bushings (subframes are knocking at the memory bank for some reason?).

So here is the car and mods, anything that looks odd or I should look out for/check when I see her?

BMW e36 325is with SB50B30 conversion by racing dynamics. Headers (no idea what brand), autowerke exhaust, evosport pulleys and 8100rpm tune. Particularly not sure about the following details: Polished gear, 50/50, 3.46, RE cover Differential, Gear box M5 with UCC evo 3 shortshift +DSSR.

It has the brakes, suspension and wheels done that I would be happy with, possibly go to a more serious coilover down the road. From what I have researched years ago when I was looking at importing a euro M3, the euro motor requires a bit more upkeep with valve adjustments but is relatively durable.

So yet, please enlighten me all you can.

D_Eclipse9916 New Reader
1/6/14 8:12 a.m.

Not enough information really to say yay or nay. What bushings have been replaced? How recently were the control arms done? RTAB and subframe reinforcements welded in?

Polished Gear, 50/50, 3.46 RE cover differential, is probably just a 3.46 geared differential that has been built with 50/50 and REM polished gears and Rogue Engineering diff cover that cools better. M5 clutch is a popular upgrade as it is lighter, but can tend to chatter. UUC (not UCC) Evo 3 short shifter is a nice shifter with a DSSR (dual sheer selector rod), just makes the shifting a bit tighter.

Euro motor will require more maintenance than a US Motor. And the special tools for valve adjustment in the Euro motor are somewhat pricey.

MINIzguy New Reader
1/6/14 8:28 a.m.

Bushings and cooling system are big ticket items on these cars. Make sure the cars you look at have had these items replaced or factor into the purchase price to have them replaced.

If heavily tracking it, you may need to think about getting the rear subframe and trailing arm pockets reinforced. They tend to tear out. If running bigger sway bars, the sway bar brackets also need to be reinforced too.

And I'm not sure about your engine. I don't recall of any tune allowing an S50 to rev to 8100 RPM. The harmonics of that motor would probably destroy itself by backing its oil pump nut off when revved to that speed for a prolonged time period.

z31maniac UltimaDork
1/6/14 8:35 a.m.

I'd pass because the guy is advertising a tune based on a ridiculous RPM.

I'd trying to find one that hasn't been messed with and start there. It costs a little more, but in the end you know it wasn't hacked together.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker MegaDork
1/6/14 8:52 a.m.

The difference between an E36 with a motor swap, headers and some nice bolt-ons and a serious, reliable track/race car is all in the details. Engines and suspensions on these cars are easy swaps. You will find a million $6000 325s with a different mill, half a cage and the easy stuff in place but if you are serious about the "doing it right" part above you are looking for a car with some or all of the following:

  • A proper roll cage
  • An aluminum radiator, cowling to route air and an electric fan
  • An oil cooler with a thermostat
  • Oil pan baffles, welded oil pump nut (US motors)
  • Good instrumentation
  • Reinforcement plates installed for rear sub frame bushings, rear control arm cups, sways
  • Front diff bolt modification to put it in double sheer.
  • Recent rear balljoints (M3 version top and bottom), wheel bearings, non-rubber bushings or sphericals throughout
  • Adjustable camber arms
  • Is there bump and roll center correction up front?
  • Quality lightweight clutch/flywheel?
  • A log book from a racing sanctioning body
  • A price tag commensurate with all that work, There is more - but if you get all the stuff here that requires welding, you likely will find a good bit of the rest too.

Happy hunting.

Strike_Zero SuperDork
1/6/14 9:49 a.m.

^ This . . .

We should "sticky" stuff like this on popular chassis somewhere.

motomoron SuperDork
1/6/14 3:56 p.m.

As usual, "^What Mister Snorklewacker says^".

I have a ~really~ nice '98 e36 M3 track day car. The intake/ecu flash/under drive pulleys/exhaust are the easiest bolt-on stuff. Having every possible weld-in chassis reinforcement, every single bushing + bearing replaced, VAC oil pump shaft+baffle and full Zionsville cooling system is the stuff that makes the difference. I paid $14k for the car in '07. Bone stock, 58k miles. What I've done cost another 75% at least.

That said, I've driven it to VIR from DC, gotten 2nd place in NASA TTC class, and driven it home. With the AC and stereo on. It's totally bullet proof, but I'll lose my ass when I sell it. People would rather buy a "cheap" one.

alleykat New Reader
1/7/14 12:25 p.m.

As the owner of a 94 325I, I am adding a comment for no other reason than to be able to find it later.

rwh11385 New Reader
8/6/16 8:35 p.m.

There is some good info in this thread - just got a well cared for street E36 M3 (with high mileage) and looking to do all the smart things before hitting the track. I have my eyes on covering the oil pump issues and most of the reinforcements. Radiator is recent but long term would go with Zionsville, like on my 540.

Do these cars need the motor mounts replaced proactively (like E30s)? What are good pads for the street and track days (or do I need two different sets)?

jr02518 Reader
8/6/16 10:16 p.m.

Full disclosure, I own a 1994 325is M-Tech. The car has 211,000 miles and does not have the original engine.

The car has been a constant challenge to keep smog legal for California but I have been able to keep it on the right side of the law. This year the car has been driven at VARA University at Buttonwillow, a BMW Club driving school at Chuckwalla and I will be driving the car to Monterey for the BMW Octoberfest, to include two track sessions.

I would spend some time at events that will give you seat time with the car in its current configuration, to get an idea of what the car could do and if in fact it will meet you needs. The Vara event confirmed that both the car and the driver could carry speed into the corners but I could not out accelerate a Z3 2.8 on exit. The Chuckwalla event confirmed that if I was the last car out it did take the entire session for the V8 M3's to catch me, on the last lap.

If I was going to build a track rat it would be a 4 door M3. Having access to the back seat area is priceless for race weekend stuff.

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