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E36 M3 (1992-1999) {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999


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Old Mon, Apr-20-2015, 05:40:44 AM   #1
Shimp52
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Default 97 M3 Track Toy

So been a member here for a while since I bought my first BMW 2 years ago and feel my build has enough ohh and ahh to warrant a build thread. It's been through quite a lot and I almost had to sell it several months after I bought it. 1997 Alpine White E36 M3 Coupe with a ZF 5 Speed. Bought as a project car to make into a budget race car and immediately removed the non functioning A/C compressor and system and repainted the wheels for a temporary look.





The clutch immediately went up a week after I bought it and got so bad the car was almost undrivable. Bought for cheap there was an understanding there would be problems but and the guy lied about there being a M5/Lightweight clutch combo Opened it to find an OE clutch worn to the rivets. Trans out for service, replaced the detent pins and all the seals.











Went with a ClutchNet Green Organic Clutch rated 20% more clamping than stock which is all I'll need for quite a while. I've been very happy with it, very grippy.





Also with the muffler out took the opportunity to gut the muffler and have been more than pleased with the outcome. Used 2.5" perforated tubing welded to the pipes and 2 lbs of stainless steel wool. The insides probably weighed about 25-30 pounds and were a hot mess of tubes. Welded it all back together and sprayed it with black exhaust paint leaving the tips polished all for about $80. It's no louder at idle or really until 3K then a nice raspy M3 noise comes on.













Also made a Home Depot Short Ram Intake for $50 using sheet metal, a 3" PVC bend, an Autozone filter and a toilet gasket. Can't beat intake/exhaust on a BMW for under $150.







The brakes the car came with were soooooo bad, mostly because someone put non-M rotors on M pads that overlapped the rotor by about 5mm. The front of the car would shake badly and the steering wheel wobble every time you slammed the brakes. I went with Centric High Carbon Blanks with Hawk HPS-Plus pads using ATE Super Blue DOT4 for a phenomenal upgrade the initial bite of the pads is great though they are getting a bit squealy lately. Hopefully regreasing will take care of it.







First attempt at passing inspection was a failure as the car hit what apparently is a well known bump on rt29 a mere 2 miles from the station. the bump popped the slave cylinder rod out of the clutch fork and disconnected the main engine harness. Needless to say it didn't pass



Upon passing I immediately set about removing all of the interior. Removing seats, carpet, sound deadening, panels and the 40 lbs of tar that was lining the bottom of the chassis.









Also ditched the sunroof by removing the metal shell from the mechanism and welding it back in place for an OE look. 40 lbs taken down, 7 put back up.









Also took a swing at making my own race door panels for less than the 300-400 i saw online. These I made out of .040" aluminium using a flat aluminium bar for a door pull.





The door handle had to be spaced out about an inch to meet the faceof the door so I just used wood as a spacer and bolts through the handle.





The door pull spaced the same and bolted it directly to the door for a sturdy pull, its kind of a pain to install but I like it over the fabric straps I saw on others.



I also like music so I put speakers in these doors and placed them wherever I could find a cavity in the sheet metal. Also kept functional power mirrors.







Also replaced the Rogue Shock Mount inserts that had gone very bad



The car dialed in at around 350 lbs less than stock or about 2800 curb weight at this point but it was about to gain some weight in the form of a 10 point roll cage. I used the weld in kit from S&W Racecars in Pennsylvania plus 24 feet of extra to make a subframe brace. I went with a Lincoln WeldPak 180 HP, a 220v MIG welder to do the work myself. I first cut holes in the floor to gain access to the mounting points for the subframe





Back subframe brace and strut tower brace





Cut plates out to go over the subframe posts and give a clean appearance







Tacked the back of the post to the chassis as well





Advanced toilet paper template technology was used to get the spacing right







With the subframe cradle made I began on the main hoop, halo, and A-pillars. First I had to make plates to deal with the slope in the floor so the cage pipe would lay flat.







Drilled holes in the floor in order to drop the assembly down to weld the tops.









Many a late night on this project, I would cut as many pipes as I could each day at work and weld as much as possible at night or days off. All in all this took up about 2 weeks of my free time.



Mocking up the final pieces of the puzzle at work



















And that's where we are now. I'll be repainting the interior and exterior some shade of blue soon. But for now am enjoying the unbelievable handling improvement this has made on the car and its just sitting on old Bilstein/H&Rs from the previous owner.

Last edited by Shimp52; Mon, Apr-20-2015 at 06:58:14 AM.
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Old Mon, Apr-20-2015, 06:08:26 AM   #2
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Default Re: E36 M3 Track Toy

Nice project, looking forward to future updates.
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Old Mon, Apr-20-2015, 01:31:50 PM   #3
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Default Re: E36 M3 Track Toy

Nice work. You have some mad skills!
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Old Mon, Apr-20-2015, 03:41:44 PM   #4
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Default Re: 97 M3 Track Toy

Good stuff. That cage looks like it was a lot of work.
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Old Mon, Apr-20-2015, 07:32:42 PM   #5
Shimp52
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Default Re: E36 M3 Track Toy

Thanks guys, the cage took me about 2 weeks of my free time to build, it was my first time welding and first time building a cage so it's a bit rough around the edges but solid.
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Old Mon, Apr-20-2015, 10:20:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: E36 M3 Track Toy

Looks like you have a pretty good start on this project!

Have you already rebuild the rear suspension and subframe? (new bushings and ball joints etc?) If not, how are you going to get the subframe out to do this, since it is welded to that cradle thingie?

As for the welds, try turning up the heat and slowing down your wire speed. That should help eliminate all the "dingleberries" The weld will flow better in a more liquid form instead of spit and sputter.

Are you planning on building more side impact protection? NASCAR style side protection is a great safety improvement. Also, are you gonna have any X bracing above the main driver compartment or a lower dash cross bar?

Not trying to be negative, just curious if you are building to just have a cage for Drivers Ed events or is this being built to spec for a series? Good luck either way!
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Old Mon, Apr-20-2015, 10:22:36 PM   #7
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Default Re: E36 M3 Track Toy

Nice work. Have you subjected your sunroof to the rain? My sunroof delete panel leaked like a sieve last week when I had to keep the car parked outside.
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Old Tue, Apr-21-2015, 12:22:32 AM   #8
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Default Re: E36 M3 Track Toy

Nice work. I got about the same thing going with an s54 thrown in the mix.
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Old Tue, Apr-21-2015, 01:06:56 AM   #9
Shimp52
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Default Re: E36 M3 Track Toy

Magic, I built the cage mainly for chassis stiffening, obviously I want it to protect me in an actual roll. I wish I had a pic myself as the subframe stuff had no write-ups anywhere I just kept seeing it in the serious cages. Its welded to the top of the thread for the bolt for the subframe reinforcing the mounting point below, the subframe can still be serviced normally and the previous owner took care of many bushings in the rear end. I plan to hit up open track days at Summit or Dominion Raceway due to finish construction late this year. I'll see how I do then decide whether I want to be in a specific class or just stick to open days.

For now the cage is done as I'm out of pipe lol I probably won't do NASCAR style but just add another to make an X at the door.

Solaris it has a tiny drip from a welded bracket and that's it, like all day rain and maybe a shot glass of water on the seat. I used seam sealer on the inside an pressed black RTV on the outside. When I begin my exterior restoration I'll just mold it to the roof.
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Old Tue, Apr-21-2015, 01:36:24 AM   #10
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Default Re: E36 M3 Track Toy

Would be good to see another E36 M3 at Summit!
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Discussing E36 M3 Track Toy in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999 at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)