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315s on an E36 M3: Dream or Reality?

June 22, 2012

In November of last year, the SCCA reorganized many of its Street Prepared classes. With the Mitsubishi Evo, Subaru STi, and to a lesser extent the Nissan 370Z, moved out of BSP, the plans to prepare our M3 for BSP started. We used the car to compete locally in BSP last year, but made no changes from its STU preparation other than mounting some smallish 245 Kumho v710s tires on our 17×9 wheels. To make a more serious attempt this year, drastic changes would be needed.

The first priority was to fit a wider tire. A popular modification for E36 BMWs is to cut the fenders and graft on the fender contours from E46 non-M front fenders. This allows Hoosier 285/30/18 tires to fit. We considered doing the same, but opted to use E46 M3 front fenders instead so that we could fit with Hoosier 315/30/18 tires.

I made a call to the guys at Complete Custom Wheel to order a couple of 18×11 wheels. They knew exactly what backspace was needed and shipped the wheels within a few weeks. PJ Corrales, a local SM competitor, generously lent us a couple of used 315/30/18s that we could mount and use for test fitting during body work.

Finding a body shop to perform the work was an unanticipated and time consuming challenge. Many shops told us that fitting 315/30/18s was impossible, while others gave us sky-high estimates, and some even were afraid to attempt such a task. One, who will remain nameless, agreed to do the work only to back out after having the car for a week. The only positive side effect of our travels to the numerous body shops was the discovery of a fantastic pizza place located near one of them. It was a surprise that, regardless of the interest level from each shop, they all wanted to see the car in person before discussing the work.

Finally, Steve Hazard referred us to Mike’s Auto Body in Malden, MA. They were excited with the project, had done something similar on his E36 in the past, and could get started right away. I brought the car to them along with four E46 M3 front fenders and two 18×11 wheels with the 315/30/18 tires already mounted.

The following are just some of the pictures I took during my many visits to ensure that the modifications would be BSP-legal. There are many more in the Flickr album – just click on one to see the rest.

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After picking it up, I drove right to Ace Performance to have a set of Enkei NT03+M wheels w/tires installed. The fronts are 285/30/18 and rears are 295/30/18. The rears left so much room that I stuck a 20 mm spacer in there just to make it look a little better. These will be used for street use until we have a proper tow vehicle.

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Finally, a few pictures from the first test with a fresh set of 315/30/18s installed. The ride height is set a bit too high here, but I wanted to be sure that everything cleared.

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Thanks to Mike’s Auto Body for doing an amazing job (and putting up with my frequent visits), Steve Hazard for recommending Mike’s, Miguel Aponte-Rios for more help than could be explained here, Mike Simanyi for information about the fender work done on his car, PJ Corrales for letting me borrow tires for test fitting, and Lana Tsurikova for helping me survive the many weeks that I was without a car.

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