BMW E36 M3 Evo - Estoril Blue, road legal track day car
South Molton, United Kingdom
BMW E36 M3 Evo - Estoril Blue, road legal track day car
BMW E36 M3 Evo - Estoril Blue, 110,310 miles
Owned twice by me, from 2010 to 2014, and from 2018 to date.
Converted to road legal track day specification in 2010-2011, ongoing development since. Sub 8 minutes BTG at the Ring, 2 mins 50 secs at Spa.
M3SWX is a very special car to me, the only one I have owned twice, and the car that I have spent more time, energy and quite a bit of money on than any other.
Like many other petrolheads, I have always been interested in driving and motorsport, and first became aware of the Nurburgring Nordschleife after watching Stefan Roser in the RUF CTR1 “Yellowbird” on a grainy VHS tape in the 1990s. It became an ambition of mine to visit and drive the track, which first happened in 2001 when I took a day trip (!) from London with a couple of mates in my then current “sensible family car” – a BMW E34 M5 Touring. We had time for a few laps in the M5, I think it was 8 Euros a lap with paper tickets bought from a man in a hut.
Life got in the way for the next few years, but having moved to Devon in 2005 and met up with a couple of other car-mad dads, we hatched a plan to get back to the Nurburgring. A local chap had an E36 325i saloon stashed away in his garden, so having paid him £250 we dragged it out and set about creating a budget “Ring tool”. Without much money to put into it, this was limited to reducing weight, adding seats and harnesses, and putting some decent suspension, brakes and tyres on it. The resulting car was then shipped out to the ‘Ring, put in some decent laps but never felt entirely safe without a rollcage (which would no doubt have punched through the slightly rotten floor anyway).
In 2010, with a new job and slightly more budget to play with, I resolved to “do it properly” and build a high quality, reliable and safe car for UK track days and the occasional Spa/Nurburgring tour. I sourced M3 SWX from a nice chap in Bath, it had 98k miles on it and lots of history, including a Vanos replacement by BMW in 2007 at 87,320 miles. In stunning Estoril Blue with full black leather interior, it drove really nicely and weighed in at 1545kg with its electric seats, sunroof and climate control.
Over the next year, the car was converted by Martin Reed, a North Devon based Porsche specialist and classic rally car preparer. Martin is an old school engineer, and applied a lot of thought and some considerable fabrication skills into the job.
If you are looking for a track day car with loads of big brand name parts and dripping in “go faster” carbon tat, then this is probably not for you. Our emphasis was always on function first, focussing on making the car fast, efficient and reliable. We did this by concentrating on reducing weight, improving brakes and suspension, and adding stiffness and safety to the chassis, whilst retaining road legal status which is compulsory for TF days at the Ring.
M3SWX now weighs in at just under 1200kg with all fluids and half a tank of fuel (no Ferrari style “dry weights” here!), there are literally hundreds of modifications but the key elements are as follows:
• Interior stripped completely, including dash, wiring loom and all sound deadening materials
• Rear bulkhead removed (allows spare set of wheels/tyres to be carried in the car)
• Custom Cages Multipoint T45 FIA certified roll cage. This starts at the front suspension turrets, runs through the cabin to the rear suspension turrets and rear diff/floor area. Gusseted to A pillars, X braces to roof, door bars, main roll bar and rear diagonals. Hugely strong and provides a super stiff platform for the suspension
• Harness eyebolt mounting plates installed
• Sunroof and mechanism removed, aluminium panel riveted and sealed
• Interior, roll cage, engine bay and roof professionally repainted Estoril Blue
• E36 Cabriolet X-brace installed below transmission
• All glass removed, rear, side and door glass replaced with Lexan polycarbonate panels, black surround to match OEM. Rear quarter windows open on standard latches
• Door windows with Clubman sliders and porthole vents
• Custom fabricated door window supports (took three attempts to stop frameless side windows “popping out” due to pressure differential at high speed – now rock solid!)
• Aluminium doors (standard on E36 M3 Evo) with all internals and strengthening bars removed
• Correx door panels, fabric door pulls, custom blanking plates for wiring
• DTM style door mirrors, painted Estoril Blue
• Battery relocated to behind passenger seat, in red fibreglass battery box with custom fabricated mounting tray and strap
• Cobra Imola Pro seats (out of date), side mount brackets onto custom floor mounts
• Sabelt 4 point harnesses (in date to end 2023)
• OMP steering wheel
• Lifeline fire extinguisher
• Custom fabricated aluminium driver heel board and passenger foot rest, coated with MOB skateboard grip tape
• ECU 12V battery in fabricated mounting tray, with dedicated wiring harness (see below under Engine/Drivetrain)
• ECU 12V battery voltmeter in dash
• Dashboard lightened, custom blanking plates for airbag cover and stereo apertures
• HVAC system removed entirely, except for fresh air blower which retains ambient fresh air supply to interior, exits below the dash
• Front and rear bumper crash bars removed
• 3.2 litre S52 straight six in standard specification
• Coil pack cover removed
• Cold air feed to airbox from front bumper
• Smaller crank pulley to gear down ancillaries (alternator, power steering)
• Issue with voltage spikes to ECU and excessive engine bay temps causing car to go into “limp home” mode. Voltage rectifier regulator struggling to cope with converting AC to DC at consistent high revs. Solution twofold: ECU moved to cooler cabin side of bulkhead, and fed with a steady 12V DC current from a small ancillary battery fitted in the cabin, with a switchable wiring harness
• Viscous coupling and fan removed, Kenlowe electric fan installed
• ABS system removed, custom fabricated brake lines installed
• AC system removed
• Lightweight single mass flywheel
• Milltek stainless exhaust system
Suspension, brakes, wheels and tyres
• GAZ Gold adjustable dampers
• Bespoke springs fitted (lower spring rates to take account of lighter car)
• Geometry set up for track use (negative camber on front axle), still compliant enough for occasional road use with no bump steer
• Wheel studs fitted to hubs
• New front wheel bearings June 2022
• Front brakes from E46 M3 CSL, calipers mounted on CNC custom fabricated carriers
• Rear brakes standard E36 M3
• Performance Friction Z rated brake pads (0394.11)
• ATE race brake fluid
• Cold air ducts fitted to front bumper
Wheels and tyres
• 2 sets of wheels and tyres, both 17”
• Hartge 11-spoke wheels: Front 8J x 17 ET40, Rear 8.5J x 17 ET45
• Alpina 20-spoke wheels: Front 8J x 17 ET 46, Rear 8J x 17 ET46
• Both fitted with Nankang NS-2R tyres: Front 225/45/17, Rear 255/40/17
• All tyres dated 2018, lightly used, even wear
On track, M3SWX provides a really well balanced, progressive drive with great feel to the primary controls, and a neutral handling balance in the dry. Understeer on warmed tyres is almost non-existent, although like all rear driven cars, it rewards a slow in, fast out approach. Braking is superb, with good pedal feel and no fade. Performance is good, and the car will deliver lap times similar to a track prepared E46 M3 or a standard 996 GT3. Lord knows how much time and money has been spent over the years, but I think it would cost probably double the asking price to recreate another one. I am only selling as I have been fortunate enough to buy the only car I would want to replace it – a 996 Mk 2 GT3 Clubsport.
Call Sean on 07595 455568 for more details or to arrange to come and see the car. The car has a current MOT to May 2023 so test drives on our local roads are possible.
Reference #13596547 | Trade advert