e36 first autocross!

My BMW e36 first autocross event is here.

I have been spending the last few months getting my 1994 e36 BMW ready for racing. My e36 first autocross event was this past weekend at the Rocky Mountain BMW CCA autocross event #4! The car great and was very fun to drive. In addition, I came away with a surprisingly good result in my class. Right now, the e36 has all the basic suspension and component upgrades installed, the first step in getting the car race ready. The video below not only covers the car setup, but also some autocross race footage.

APEX ARC-8 wheels

APEX ARC-8 wheels are in for my e36 BMW.

APEX is well know for their high quality, and also lightweight racing wheels. In addition, they are a very popular wheel for BMW’s. Again, these APEX ARC-8 wheels are very light, coming in at just under 18lbs per wheel in the 17×9″ size. The lower weight helps reduce the rotating mass which enables the car to accelerate quicker. Furthermore, I can now fit larger sized tires on the 9″ wide wheel. The plan is to get 255/40/r17 tires for the car which should provide a big increase in available grip. The ARC-8 styling in the silver color should also look great on my 1994 BMW 325is!

1994 BMW 325is race car project!

My new project car has arrived, a 1994 BMW 325is.

It’s about time for an update and boy, do I have a good one today! 🙂 It has been a few months or so since I sold my last autocross and track car, the 1999 Mazda Miata. That car was outfitted with quite a few suspension goodies and was a blast to drive. However, after driving Miata’s for the past couple years, I felt like I needed a change. I wanted something with a fixed roof, was relatively lightweight, RWD,  and cheap. It also had to be a good platform for an autocross and track car. After much consideration, I decided to look for a e36 generation BMW. These cars meet all my requirements and on top of that, are hugely popular and have tons of aftermarket support.

The search was on and it took about 6 months of on and off craigslist hunting to find the car that met my requirements and was in my budget (<$2000). Finally, I found a 1994 BMW 325is with about 197k miles on it, for a mere $1700! The car is jet black with black interior and runs strong with a good shifting 5 speed manual transmission. It is in need of some cosmetic care and minor maintenance, but what 20 year old car isn’t? As for the future plans, I will be preparing the car for the STX class in SCCA autocross. Stay tuned as I plan to video log all my upgrades as well as racing activities on my YouTube channel, Justin’s Pit Lane.

1994 BMW 325is

Dinan exhaust BMW 335i

Dinan exhaust sounds from my 2009 BMW 335i.

Dinan is well know for their high quality performance parts for BMW’s. They produces various parts from engine upgrades to suspension upgrades. In addition, they also have engine tuning options which change the ECU variables for more power. This company is unique in the aftermarket world because their parts still support factory BMW warranty. My personal BMW 335i has a handful of Dinan upgrades including a stage 2 ECU flash and suspension. In addition, I have the Dinan axle-back exhaust as well as some cosmetic upgrades. The Dinan exhaust produces a unique sound for the turbo-charged 335i which can be heard in my startup video below!

BMW gloss black grills

A couple cosmetic upgrades for my BMW 335i including BMW gloss black grills.

I bought a couple more cosmetic parts for my BMW 335i just recently. A set of paint matched Alpine White front reflectors that replace the stock amber colored reflectors as well as some OEM BMW gloss black grills. The install of the reflectors was a bit tricky. You must peel the stock reflectors from their double sided tape on the inside of the fender. I ended up pulling off the wheel well splash guard to make things easier. In addition, I used a wood chisel to slowly pry them off. Be sure not to twist the blade when prying the reflectors off, because it will bubble the outside of the fender. The instructions (from JleviSW) say to use a flat head screw-driver but that will very easily damage the outside of the fender. In any case, take care when removing the stock reflectors.

The BMW performance gloss grills were a snap to install. Simply remove the 4 hex screws that hold the bumper on the top, reach behind the bumper, and pop off the snap tabs one by one until you can pull out the grill. Snap the new ones in then re-install the 4 screws and you are done.  A few pictures below and more notations on the picture site:

Dual cone intake install

Burger Motorsports dual cone intake install for my BMW 335i.

I picked up some Burger Motorsports dual cone intakes (BMS DCI) recently. The DCI replace the stock airbox and filter found in the BMW 335i. Furthermore, they increase the airflow to the engine by reducing the air restriction from the stock air box. The dual cone intake install process was pretty simple and did not take that long at all.  Follow the simple instructions on the BMS Installation page and you should not have any problems. I snapped some installation pictures of the BMS DCI install process with a few of them below.

2009 BMW 335xi

 The iconic BMW 3-series, my 2009 BMW 335xi.

The road to my 2009 BMW 335xi. I have been looking off and on for a new car for the past year or so. Originally, I was aiming for a c6 Corvette and keeping it as a 3rd car strictly for fun. As time passed and I had time to think about things, having 3 cars in the family was not the best idea. Mostly because we don’t have the space. I began looking at BMW’s, at first the 1 series BMW’s. However, I soon realized 2 doors would not cut it if I had to haul kids around.

Next up on the list, 3 series sedans with slush boxes and manual paddles. These cars are kid friendly yet still fun in sport mode. I have been watching the used and dealer market for the past 6 months or so, waiting for something to show up that met my requirements. Losing my patience, I was about ready to give up until next summer. Then, I saw a 2009 BMW 335xi that was fully loaded, had the M-sport package (rare!) and the exact color combo I like. I was upset when the seller told me it was pending sale. I began looking at other cars and was really close to buying a monaco blue 2007 335i.  Surprisingly, I got an email from the seller of the 335xi. He said the car was back on the market!

I talked to the buyer and found out the car had some Dinan modifications done to it as well. So, I went to look at it as soon as I could. This car is exactly what I wanted in a BMW; Alpine White, Premium pkg, Cold weather pkg, M-Sport pkg, Navigation, and black leather interior. In addition, the seller added some great modifications including BBS 19″ RGR wheels, Dinan stage 2 DME upgrade and suspension upgrades, Dinan exhaust, and Dinan upgraded oil cooler. All things that I would have done to a stock BMW 335. I went after the opportunity. Test drive, inspection, done. Needless to say I bought the car and I am loving it. This car is amazing! Enough talk, onto the pictures, you can see them all in my BMW 335xi album.

2009 BMW 335xi 2009 BMW 335xi 2009 BMW 335xi