BC Racing

Features

Scott Paterson's E36 Touring

Photography by Scott Paterson @scottpatersonphoto

I will be the first to admit, before buying my Touring, I was never a “BMW Guy” I was too busy restoring two Classic Mini’s with my father at the time. It wasn’t until I found, my now good friend, Alex McArthur’s 328i Sport Touring on StanceWorks in 2009/10.  It all changed after that. Back then, Alex’s Touring was super low on staggered Style 5’s and it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I made the tough decision to part with the Mini’s, using the money to pay for the Touring and my first year of insurance. 

I knew I wanted a 6 cylinder, manual, relatively low miles and the colour didn’t matter too much, as long as it wasn’t Boston Green. After a few months of looking, the car you see before you showed up not too far away. A completely standard, 323i SE in Titan Silver. Being this would be my first car and at 19, I didn’t want to attract too much un-wanted attention, so the plan was to keep it subtle and not too flashy with an OEM+ approach. 

I was working part time at a body shop along the road from my house and shortly after, the car was in for paint. I had a full M Sport kit from a 3.2 M3 Evo to go on, I also had the arches rolled at the same time. Once the body work was sorted, I fitted some coilovers and a set of Staggered 17” Style 32’s and was super happy with the look. I gradually dialled the ride height as well as other things on the car. 

A year or two later, I took a job just north of London, 450 miles from my current place. The Touring was stored for a year as I got another Touring to daily instead. Before finally moving the Touring to London, I went back to the bodyshop with it and with my father, replaced both the sills, shaved the side indicators as well as shaving and relocating the washer jets and tidying up a few rough edges that showed up after driving it through the winter.

After I was finally happy with the bodywork again, I set about fitting my dream wheels - E31 M System 2 or Throwing Stars as they’re most commonly called. I spent a lot of time getting them to look as good as I possibly could, I had the covers finished in Titan Silver with micro rainbow flake. I ordered some BC Coilovers with some custom spring rates, but I have modified them a little bit, to get it sitting just how I want. I am trying to track down some M System Turbine covers, to hopefully complete the look.

Over the last year I’ve accidentally spent most of my time on the Interior. I managed to source and fit a lot of Extended Leather parts, so the centre console/arm rest, glove-box, drivers side kick panel and door cards are all leather – It is quite a stark contrast to the grey cloth it had as standard. I re-trimmed the M Sport headlining in new black material, as the one I got started to sag – That combined with all the extra leather, really makes it a nice place to sit. There’s still a few bits yet to find, however I am having thoughts about changing up the colour, as the black tends to get a little lost. 

I’ve also replaced most of the exterior trim from BMW. I think I just have the window rubbers left to do and a few little bits on the rear.

As far as future plans go, I just want to enjoy the car. I don’t plan on selling it, so the “To-do” list is about as long as my arm, I’m always doing little bits here and there, so I am happy for that just to continue. I’d just like to extend a quick wee thanks to Alex McArthur and Bastien Bochmann, without their advice and knowledge on Touring’s, I probably wouldn’t have mine. So thanks lads. And a thanks to my father as well, who’s been helping me ever since I got in to cars, his patience and willingness (sometimes un-willingness) to help has been amazing. 

Features

Dan Wagener's E53 X5 3.0i

Photography by Dan Wagener

It was in 2002 or 2003 when I first saw the BMW E53 X5. It was a video uploaded to DTMPower.net of some friends drifting in the snow. Then I saw it in the "Powder Keg" episode of the BMW film series The Hire... and once the 4.6is model came out I was in love with the E53 aesthetics. It was one of the most inspirational pioneers for making the high-end SUV market what it is today. BMW disregarded what the average consumer wanted from a traditional mid-size SUV; reliability, fair on gas, and great snow / off-roading capabilities (speaking with the 20" wheels in mind). What they did instead was create a "soccer mom car" deserving of an M badge. At the time known as "the fastest SUV in the world" with over 300hp, 20x9.5" 275/40 front tires & 20x10.5" 315/35 rear tires, and agility that defies logic — it was almost like driving a giant M5. Good thing that BMW knows their people aren't the average consumer and can appreciate a vehicle of this caliber.

I've wanted an X5 since I was in high school and when I was looking to get my first SUV about four years later, they were still out of my price range. I ended up with a Lexus RX300, which was very reliable but had zero soul. During the ownership of the Lexus I always felt like something was missing in my life so after a couple years I decided that I needed a BMW again. This was when I got my E46 330i and all was right again. The problem with the E46 however, was that I caught the modbug bad. So fast forward through a couple years of crazy spending, I felt the need to take it down a notch and step away from the modding temptation all together. But learning from my mistake with the Lexus, I was assuredly sticking with BMW.

I was dead set on an E53 X5—though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't extremely worried while doing my pre-purchase research. From what I could gather through the Xoutpost forum and others' experiences with the E53, it sounded like a nightmare. It seemed like the V8 models were more problematic though, so I decided to go with a 3.0i model. BMW's straight sixes are solid engines and figured I'd play it safe. The only problem was most 3.0i models came with ugly 17" wheels and being that my goal was to get away from modding, I wanted to find one that wouldn't trigger my addiction.

I finally found a 2003 3.0i Sport in Sapphire Black on Black with the 18" Style 69 wheels. It had everything I wanted albeit xenons and a manual transmission, so I traded in the E46. I immediately had to address a ton of maintenance issues within the first six months. It was starting to look like the 3.0i models weren't safe from the notorious E53 gremlins and issues like I had hoped. To be fair, it was probably not well maintained before I took ownership and was just due for everything all at once. Eventually it stopped breaking (for a little) and that urge to mess with things came back again. I upgraded to the 19" Style 132 facelift 4.4i model wheels. I was able to snag the last available OEM skid plate in the U.S (thanks Jay). The odd looking turn-down, dinky exhaust tips were replaced with a 4.4 muffler. Halogen headlights were swapped for a DEPO pair with projectors that allowed me to convert to HID's. The interior received an E46 M3 wheel upgrade, AC Schnitzer style pedals, red sharpie mod needles, DDM silver gauge rings, and a titanium E90 shift knob.

One day Chris Roth of CRbimmers sent me a text with a set of 20" Style 87 4.6is wheels he had for sale. I couldn't resist as they're one of the best OEM BMW wheel designs ever. Still not 100% happy with it I added the 4.6is fender flares, which subdued the mod beast within. I had the looks of the 4.6is with the "reliability" of the 3.0 model.

Even though it looked great it still lacked my touch.  In my opinion adjusting the stance of the vehicle is one of the biggest things you can do to accomplish that. You could have multiple cars with the same exact mods, but the stance can make the difference of looking good, or amazing. It's something that I think reflects the owner's taste; something that can't be bought. Although nowadays specs are expected to just be handed out and things can always be replicated, but you can usually tell when something's done with originality. I decided to go with a set of BC Racing coilovers to ensure it sat exactly how I wanted. The coilovers were able to go extremely low and were fairly comfortable with all things considered. It was definitely stiffer/harsher than the stock sport suspension, but it greatly improved the handling and body roll in the corners.

All throughout the modding process there were little problems that would pop up with the vehicle. Problems that shouldn't have happened as often as they did (in my opinion). It was almost like I would fix one thing and two new things would break. While I loved my X5, this little game got really old. It seemed like it was never going to stop and I just wasn't up for it anymore. It was time to move on. Not to mention the whole time I had it, I really missed driving a RWD manual car. So I sold a few of the upgraded parts off of it and got rid of it for my 2004 E46 M3. It was bittersweet letting my X go; I loved her but the upside is that I'm no longer in an abusive relationship.

Features

Bartek "Broder" Broda's E36 M3

Photography by JLZ1.com

Our story begins in February of 2012, on the Isle of Man. Bartek, who was already a BMW enthusiast, purchased a 1996 BMW E36 M3 Evolution Model. This particular car came with no sunroof, in the beautiful Estoril Blue color with beige interior. The car was a perfect starting point, as it had been largely untouched. The previous owner had daily driven the car, transporting her children to and from school in it – lucky kids, right?

Bartek began like most enthusiasts would – cleaning and maintenance, followed by maintenance and cleaning. But eventually the time came for the first modifications. Bartek installed black kidneys and an OEM front lip for subtle cosmetic changes. He then lowered the car with performance coilovers and what we all like the most – two-piece OZ Racing wheels. This state of affairs lasted for several months before Bartek took it further with his M3. Before he knew it new parts were coming in, only to disappear and be replaced by even more interesting and even more rare products to emphasize the specific character of this BMW and its owner. For a while Bartek had the car on BBS RC 300/301 wheel.. then a different set, and so on and so forth. But we’re here to focus on how the car looks now.

At first glance, your eyes are drawn to the BBS RC 300/301 wheels with parameters: 8.5" et13 accompanied by a 15mm spacer on the front, and 10" et25 with a 10mm spacer on the back. Bartek fitted Toyo T1R tires stretched to 205/35 on the front, and 235/30 on the back. Not hidden by the wheels are the upgraded brakes. Stock calipers and discs were replaced by a set of 337x30mm and dual-piston calipers and 328x20mm BMW Performance from the 135i. This M3 will have no problem stopping on a dime.

Bartek chose smoked xenon lights with matching smoked corner markers. He replaced the fog lights with plugs, and under the front bumper he’s gone with the timeless combo of GT Ecken front lip (occasionally) accompanied by GT Schwert. All of Bartek’s attention to detail ties in a very tidy front end with an aggressive demeanor.

Another detail of the M3 that Bartek searched long and hard for, are the authentic Racing Dynamics mirrors.  Moving on to the back of the M3 is the unmistakable LTW wing made of carbon fiber. Bartek says this wing brings to mind the adrenaline filled E36 DTM races. Stock exhaust was replaced with a Super Sprint X pipe and Scorpion back exhaust, along with the DTM end tips to complement overall DTM appearance.

The interior of this RHD M3 has not been spared the Bartek treatment. He has completely modified it leaving only the upper part of the dashboard. The steering wheel was replaced and wrapped in alcantara. An illuminated leather shift knob pokes out from an alcantara boot. Bartek has installed a RUFF short shift kit for rowing through the gears. Vader seats have been retrofitted to the m3 and the lower part of the dashboard and door bolsters swapped to black. Behind the front seats we will find a Staff’s roll bar, which took the place of the rear seats. The icing on Bartek’s DTM themed M3’s interior are the BMW Motorsport iconic red seatbelts.

Under the hood waiting for us is a red valve cover, OMP strut brace and Pipercross panel air filter. The gearbox also got an upgrade. Here we have a RUFF single mass flywheel (~ 5kg), and a new steel braided clutch line by HEL.

The suspension previously included a set of AP coilovers which were replaced by HSD Dualtech fully adjustable suspension, also added were camber arms and special springs on the rear axle – BC Racing 16kg. Traditional rubber bushings were replaced by polyurethane bushings all over.

The BMW E36 is nothing new on the tuning stage – either in Poland or in the world. Bartek realizes there may be others like his, but he also realizes that he created his car to the best of the best in his eyes. He idolized the DTM races and sought for a DTM racer of his own. Bartek took this car from daily driver to daily dose of dopamine. As often as possible he fitted parts that you can find in BMW Motorsport catalogs. Bartek’s favorite part of the E36 however, is driving it.