315s on an E36 M3: Dream or Reality?

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 wider tires. 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 Steve’s E36 M3 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.


After picking it up, I drove right to a local shop 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.


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


Thanks to Mike’s Auto Body for doing an amazing job (and putting up with my frequent visits), Steve Hazard for recommending Mike’s, 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.


M3 Rear Subframe Bushings

The 135i was at Ace Performance Tuning yesterday having the stock rear subframe bushings replaced with BMW Motorsport M3 bushings. These bushings are much stiffer than the stock ones and should dramatically improve the 135i’s responsiveness and handling. (The image here shows 2, but we had all 4 replaced.)

I had been contemplating doing this work myself, but cannot explain how happy I am that we took it to ACE instead. They of course have a lift, which is a big help, and their tech was able to finish the work much faster than I would have. Special thanks to Hp Autowerks for the bushing tool rental.

PCA Zone1 Pictures

Lana and I were asked to help the NCR team at this year’s PCA Zone1 competition. Lana impressed everyone by winning her class by a large margin in a Porsche GT3 RS, while I just missed first place by .4 seconds in my class driving a Porsche C2S. It was a close finish, but the NCR team came away with the win! Congrats to the whole NCR team!

Below are a few pictures of the event. That’s Lana in the Viper Green GT3 RS and me in the (mostly) Black C2S.

Borla Exhaust

The quest to drop weight from the M3 continues. A Borla Cat-back Muffler has been installed. The Turner web site states that it will result in a 5 hp increase, but I am just as interested in it being 26 lbs lighter than the stock system. It’s built from exhaust_borla_e36_tips_close_lgT-304 stainless steel (inside and outsize) and comes with a 1,000,000 mile warranty. It is a bit louder than stock, but not so much that it will wake the neighbors.

Installation was quite easy. I consider myself lucky that the bolts for the stock exhaust, although rusty, were removed without incident.



Here are the "before and after” videos (taken with my iPhone 3GS).

Lightweight Battery Installed

In an effort to reduce the weight of the M3, I’ve installed a Russ Wiles battery box from BimmerHaus along with a Hawker Odyssey battery. The battery box is designed to hold this small battery and be mounted in the stock location using factory cables and hold down clamp.

The stock battery weighted 43 lbs. The new battery box + battery weighs 18 lbs.


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BMW Motorsport parts now available in the U.S.

Weekend racers can now buy BMW Motorsport parts at four locations in the U.S. Parts catalogs are available at BMW Motorsport or by visiting one of four BMW centers in IL, GA, NH, and OH. Catalogs are available for the 2008 BMW Z4, 1995-present BMW M3, and 2006+ 3 Series Sedan. Read more here.

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