Login | Register
SearchMy Stuff
My ProfileMy PreferencesMy Mates RSS Feed
Tuesday 9th October 2012

PH Fleet: BMW 328i (E36)

Dale's getting over the loss of his RX-8 via the time honoured route of Buying A New Car



Last time I wrote about my car, I was a bit down. Actually, to be honest, I was gutted. My quirky and amazing-handling Mazda RX-8 had blown up, and I'd sold the non-running wreck for only a grand.

Evidence points to a different former life
Evidence points to a different former life
From idea to purchase, and purchase to driving, the world at large (and the PH forum) told me that the Wankel-motored RX-8 was a bad idea. But I ignored the accumulated knowledge of the PH massive, and in the end I was bitten.

So when replacing the rotary ring tool, it seemed like a good idea to listen to the opinions of others for a change. One car that I'd dismissed as too obvious and too boring quickly became the number one choice.

BMW's E36 3 Series was more than just a sales-rep status symbol during the '90s, it was a saloon-car racing superpower. And a quick ask around some of my Nurburgring friends revealed more local parts and knowledge for this car than any other option.

Plush for a car that'll live on track!
Plush for a car that'll live on track!
So I've gone with the flow, I've not done anything new or daring, I've bought an E36 328i. And I'm pleased to report that I'm happier with this car than ever before.

My particular car was sourced in the UK by a fellow British Nürburgring resident. Boasting a decently solid four-door shell, but a completely knackered motor, this car might not sound like an ideal purchase. But Richard sourced a nice nearly-new engine, fitted it and brought it across to his house at the 'ring for only a tiny bit more than the €1,000 euros I had left from the RX-8 sale.

I love the four-door shape, and a common bit of Nurburgring gossip will tell you that the shell of the four-door saloon car is the best choice for a race-car due to its superior stiffness and a lighter stripped weight than the coupe. Maybe that's true, maybe it's not. I don't really care.

Moment of truth: the 328 hits the 'ring
Moment of truth: the 328 hits the 'ring
One thing I do know is that the standard car is a long way away from being described as either stiff or light. Tipping the scales of the public weighbridge at 1,380kg with a full tank and that tow-bar, there's nearly a couple of hundred kilos to still lose. And the standard SE suspension doesn't just make the steering feel remote. Radio-controlled steering via satellite would probably be an improvement.

None of this stopped me taking the standard car out for a lap on the Schnelleschwaben event. In standard trim, with knackered, leaking dampers and questionable brakes the 328i recorded a 9min3sec BTG laptime. Not bad, but a country mile away from the nimble RX-8.

A few mods slashed the lap time (pic: Frozenspeed)
A few mods slashed the lap time (pic: Frozenspeed)
One week and a whole bunch of secondhand parts (plundered from both friends and friends of friends) later, the laptime improved significantly to a very pleasing 8min20sec BTG. New (OK, secondhand) H&R Cup struts and springs could never be called sophisticated, but they're a massive improvement over stock. Some borrowed wheels and an almost-dead set of Toyo R888s managed to find their way on the car, as well as some pattern discs, EBC Bluestuff pads and Goodrich brake lines. All the fluids were changed for Motul including their 300V racing oil and RBF660 brake fluid.

Since then I've put the car through it's German MOT, which it passed easily enough. Right now, I'm on a high with the 328i. It's quick, it's cost me comfortably less than €2,000 to get to this point and I'm not worried about the engine going pop. And even if it does, it's a few hundred euros of parts, not a few thousand. The RX-8 is dead to me. Long live the 328i.


Fact sheet
Car:
1997 BMW 328i SE
Run by: Dale Lomas
Bought: September 2012
Purchase price: £950
First month: Thrashed it, serviced it, modded it, thrashed it more, planned more mods

Onboard video of that 8min20sec lap

 

 

Dale Lomas
2 3 ... 6 7
Reply to Topic
Author Discussion

Motorrad

Original Poster:

4,949 posts

70 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
Quick on a budget........this I like.

marson

80 posts

78 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
IV got one of these i run on the track, a black 328i with a yellow roll cage and 140k on the clock
every couple of months i take it to a different track and thrash it to within an inch of its life and it still comes back
begging for more, they are fantastic cars and if you change the oil every few track days will last for ever !!!

drpep

1,098 posts

51 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
Yes!!! Good work! This makes me very happy indeed. I'm looking forward to embarking on a similar project. E46 M3 or E36 M3 or even a 328, strip, cage, lim. slip diff, bushes, suspension => Weapon.

Liquid Tuna

1,097 posts

39 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
That's better!!!!!!!!!!!!

s m

10,105 posts

86 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
I'm sure your friends have told you Dale.....get a Z3(non-M) rack or an E46 Compact one.
Advertisement

MarJay

1,859 posts

58 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
The best performance modifications you can do to an E36 BMW are as follows:

1.) Weight reduction, weight reduction and more weight reduction. Strip it right out to bare bones.

2.) Buy an 'X-brace' off of a scrap E36 cabrio. Its a kind of subframe that bolts under the engine to stiffen up the front end. It makes the steering much less remote.

3.) Z3 steering rack.

(and specifically for the 328i)
4.) 325i intake manifold and remap. Should net you a good 20bhp.

Enjoy!

marson

80 posts

78 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
drpep said:
Yes!!! Good work! This makes me very happy indeed. I'm looking forward to embarking on a similar project. E46 M3 or E36 M3 or even a 328, strip, cage, lim. slip diff, bushes, suspension => Weapon.
do it, i went for the 328i option much lighter parts a fraction of the cost and easy to work on also iv got KW v2 coilovers on mine and iv not met an M3 e36 yet who can keep up with me !!

chongwong

764 posts

30 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
I loved the sound effect at 8:10. Made me chortle biggrin

rossi1

708 posts

85 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
MarJay said:
The best performance modifications you can do to an E36 BMW are as follows:

1.) Weight reduction, weight reduction and more weight reduction. Strip it right out to bare bones.

2.) Buy an 'X-brace' off of a scrap E36 cabrio. Its a kind of subframe that bolts under the engine to stiffen up the front end. It makes the steering much less remote.

3.) Z3 steering rack.

(and specifically for the 328i)
4.) 325i intake manifold and remap. Should net you a good 20bhp.

Enjoy!
Excellent choice in car. as above says but also get hold of the larger E46 330ci calipers and carriers and disks plus if you end up doing the modded inlet manifold swap then how about sourcing some U.S M3 cams and not forgetting some coil-overs. Very easy motors to mod and source parts for. will make a tasty little track motor smile

abw280

76 posts

149 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
Great stuff - overtaking the M3 at the start - just goes to show that a sub 200 bhp car in the right hands can thrash 321 bhp! Also enjoyed the 2 911's towards the end of the lap(think one was a GT3?) trying to significantly gap the old barge and failing............class

s m

10,105 posts

86 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
rossi1 said:
MarJay said:
The best performance modifications you can do to an E36 BMW are as follows:

1.) Weight reduction, weight reduction and more weight reduction. Strip it right out to bare bones.

2.) Buy an 'X-brace' off of a scrap E36 cabrio. Its a kind of subframe that bolts under the engine to stiffen up the front end. It makes the steering much less remote.

3.) Z3 steering rack.

(and specifically for the 328i)
4.) 325i intake manifold and remap. Should net you a good 20bhp.

Enjoy!
Excellent choice in car. as above says but also get hold of the larger E46 330ci calipers and carriers and disks plus if you end up doing the modded inlet manifold swap then how about sourcing some U.S M3 cams and not forgetting some coil-overs. Very easy motors to mod and source parts for. will make a tasty little track motor smile
You might need the master cylinder swap bit too if you find the pedal too 'long' after

rossi1

708 posts

85 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
You would indeed need the master ^^ smile

StuB

5,488 posts

122 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
I loved my '96 328i SE. Sold it with 214k miles and it did 145 on the way to the dealer. Everyone should drive one of these.

g3org3y

8,877 posts

74 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
MarJay said:
The best performance modifications you can do to an E36 BMW are as follows:

1.) Weight reduction, weight reduction and more weight reduction. Strip it right out to bare bones.

2.) Buy an 'X-brace' off of a scrap E36 cabrio. Its a kind of subframe that bolts under the engine to stiffen up the front end. It makes the steering much less remote.

3.) Z3 steering rack.

(and specifically for the 328i)
4.) 325i intake manifold and remap. Should net you a good 20bhp.

Enjoy!
To add to point 4, BBTB. Works well with the M50 inlet manifold.

marcosgt

7,452 posts

59 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
OriginalArticle said:
and I'm not worried about the engine going pop. And even if it does, it's a few hundred euros of parts, not a few thousand.
Are BMW straight 6 engines really that cheap to fix if they go pop?

Surely a rebuild on a straight 6 isn't going to be cheap IF it does fail is it?

M.

rotbox

2 posts

22 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
I wish I had done some mods to my e36. Looks like epic fun. Nice driving.

rottie102

3,113 posts

67 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
marcosgt said:
Are BMW straight 6 engines really that cheap to fix if they go pop?

Surely a rebuild on a straight 6 isn't going to be cheap IF it does fail is it?

M.
What's the point in rebuilding when it's so easy and cheap just to put another engine in?

McSam

5,421 posts

58 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
M50 manifold and a bigger throttle body would be top of my shopping list now you've sorted the brakes and suspension basics, that would see you get close to 220bhp for only a couple of hundred quid.

Really glad to see this purchase, I'm considering one myself so watching with huge interest - but I also have to say (again), really top driving, you know just where the limits are and it's quite something to watch a 997 GT3 be totally incapable of pulling away biggrin

Wardy5

29 posts

89 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
Great choice. Enjoyed the video biggrin

sopaz

17 posts

52 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
Brilliant, I'm just about to go and view an R-reg silver E36 touring (It's a 323 though). This could prove dangerous to my wallet....
2 3 ... 6 7
Reply to Topic