Spac's adventures in BMW

SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
edited May 26 in Non-Volvo

After MUCH head scratching and discussion about what I want from my next rally car (simple version: RWD, 4 cylinder, cheap/readily available bodyshell), the E36 Compact won out.

It has a few bonuses too: the steering rack in front of the crossmember, and the semi-trailing arm rear end are both less than ideal for circuit work, but are positives for gravel work.
Plus the gearbox ratios are good - the ratios from 2nd to 5th are pretty much identical to 1st to 4th in an Escort Rocket Box. Add in a 4.44 diff from an auto Compact, and you have achieved what would cost several thousand dollars for virtually any other car.

This one is a twin cam 1.8, so is less hopeless than the more common 1.6 single cam version.
It is quite funny how the BMW guys all rag on the 4-cylinder motors (apart from the S14 from the E30 M3), even though the M44 in this car is rated at 103kW - which is 100% in line with other NA 1800-2000cc motors of its age.

Also scored a free 318is (twin cam coupe) with a blow HG, and a free running 316i, which vindicates the "disposable car" part of the decision.

Next step is to get it rego'd in my name.



  • lasercowboyRico @lasercowboy SE Suburbs, Melbourne
    Ha! Love it! My last non-Volvo car was an E36 compact (316i). It was slow as balls, but omg that manual box hits the spots with ratios for buzzing around town. Nice low-slung driving position, and so much tail happiness when it rains...

    Happy memories!
  • DCW242Duncan @DCW242 - Western Victoria
    Nice, should be good. My brother has a twin cam coupe. they seem to go forever, Expect it to use loads of oil. I have a K&N air filter for one here if it's any help, plus a few other parts.
  • PaddlerEdPaddler Ed @PaddlerEd New England Region, NSW
    Do they have the same glass rear end as the other E36s? I've heard that they pull the diff out the mounts... and seen Jonbot do it to one...

    Otherwise, I really like them! Did they get delivered in Australia with the 2.5? I know they did in Europe (they also came as a diesel, but let's gloss over that option...)
  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    edited April 2018
    No 6-cylinder E36 Compacts in Australia. The rear end is basically the semi-trailing arm set up as the E30. They seem to avoid the "tearing out of the body" problems that the other E36s and the E46s have.
  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    Picked up the second Compact today. Bloke refused even a six pack for it.

    Drove it the 200m home. Despite having sat around for at least four years, everything (including the air con!) works.

    Started pulling the interior out so I can dummy up the seat mounts for the rally car. All making sense so far - no "what the hell were the engineers thinking!?" moments yet.

  • Nice find!

    Always been a BMW person before Volvo, Owned the following:

    E9 320
    E12 520i
    E12 528
    E24 635CSI (E12 based pre-1984)
    E30 318i
    E32 735i x 2
    E36 318i
    E39 525i
    E61 530i (This is where my love for BMW ended and I've upgraded to a Volvo 240 GL)

    If you need any technical information on engines, parts, part numbers, diagrams or electrics just let me know, particularly E3x as I know these inside out!

    2 favourite engines were M30B35, and M10B20. M30B35 versatile, as long as you kept it cool it was the perfect torqey low end engine that is ready for turbo. Anything M10 is solid (M30 is just a 6 cyl M10 really). M10 is versatile and you can push the engines on completely stock settings extremely far. BMW BT52 F1 set a world record by using M10 block from a mechanic's car that had done 300,000 miles. Welded a DOHC top end, smacked a turbo on it and ran 1500hp qualifying.

    You can pick up an M73B54 for about $1k these days (5.4L V12), they fit in the E36 bonnet, that would make for some fun :dizzy:
  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    Interior out of the 316. Some vague thoughts of making it the khanacross car.

    More importantly, I weighed stuff. gqNpaJBh.jpg

    Realistically, this means that the built rally car should be around 1250kg WITH air conditioning (assuming the published weight ot 1250kg is accurate).
  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    edited April 2018
    Apart from the harness and a few tidy-ups, the 316 is ready for the khanacross on Saturday.

    The race seats are only in the car as "proof of concept". They are destined for the rally car - no mods to the bodyshell, so they should go straight into the silver one when the time comes (stoxk seat will go back into this car when that happens).
    That said, the nav's side mount is too flexible - due to the extra overhang behind the rear mount on the floor, the seat moves a bit too much. The driver's one is rock solid - I am surprised by how different they are, TBH.
    Not sure if I will add bracing or remake it.

    Sexy foil tape to stop the doors from getting full of dust. Bit disappointed that it looks less ghetto than I had hoped. :)


    The silver one passed a RWC yesterday. Will transfer it to my name tomorrow.

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    Shit, they're multiplying.

    Also bought the 4.44 diff today.
  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    Used the 316 at the khanacross today.
    Came nowhere after a few flags and a WD (after El Wifeo had WD'd that test and I laughed at her... :) ).

    But it has reassured me that the idea isn't a bad one. Handles great, and steers beautifully on the throttle.
    For a khanacross, the 316 isn't even obviously short of grunt - although I am sure it would be tragic as a rally car.

    One significant negative is that the steering is too slow. When everything is going well, it's fine - but it is easy to get into making pizzas.
    There are two main options to fix this: A rack from a Z3 or the rack from a 330i - the difference is 2.7 turns lock-to-lock and $880 to buy vs 3.0 turns L2L and $295...
    Need to work out which way to go.
  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    edited April 2018
    Quick and easy solution to the flexy seat mount problem...

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    A whole lot of nothing has been done to the car since my last post.
    Main thing is mopping up the engine oil that had filled up two of the spark plug wells and was causing a low RPM misfire. Caused by a leaky cam cover gasket.
    Also getting 7.4 litres per 100km fuel economy which is not too bad. Still the V40 goes harder, has a better safety rating, has more space and uses less fuel... If the BMW had been bought as a road car, I would be running straight back to an x40!

    But I have made a lot of phone calls!

    1. Quad throttle bodies from RHD Engineering bolt straight on and the stock ECU is happy to run them. $2100.
    An otherwise stock motor makes 85kW ATW with these with no losses anywhere (stock is usually in the mid 70s).
    Trying to get hold of a set is proving to be more difficult than expected.

    2. Have bought the 4.4:1 diff from an automatic compact. Cost me $165.

    Was going to weld it, but now contemplating an LSD. A reco LSD is about $1000, but apparently they have a habit of breaking the cover plates. Upgraded cover plates are $290. Need to speak to the diff guru about this - previous Mazda experience says that broken LSD covers are usually the result of a worn out LSD.

    3. New 2.25" exhaust is going to be $400ish. Is booked in, but the shop is busy for the next few weeks.

    4. Going with a bolt in rollcage. $1650 from Bond Roll Bars.
    I'm going bolt in because the whole idea is that the bodyshell is disposable if I crash it. Putting a $3500+ weld-in cage into anything stops it being disposable...
    I will be adding bars beyond the minimum required.
    Will collect the cage early May.

    5. Blathering on the steering rack. Currently has 3.5 turns lock-to-lock, and a variable ratio. It is pretty terrible, particularly in slalom type situations.
    I can buy a good used E46 rack with 3.0 turns L2L for $295, or a Z3 rack with 2.7 turns L2L for $880. Both are linear ratio, so are even faster at the straight ahead position than the numbers imply (compared to the Ti rack).

    The blathering is because I'm not sure if the Z3 rack is worth the extra money over the 330 rack.

    6. Bought a new winged Sparco race seat from a mate for $600 (cheap!) Am now trying to justify buying a matching one for the navigator for $1000. The secondary benefit to doing this is that it frees up the Velo seats for something else.

    7. Rally valved Bilsteins are on order from Capital Steering and Suspension. I am being looked after on price, but about $2000 retail. Stock springs seem to be about right in rate and height, so will stay until I have reason to change them.

    8. Going with Ferodo DS2500 pads. About $450 for the whole car worth off ebay. Need to sus out which of the two types of front pads I need before I order them or hit up the local supplier for a price.

    That looks after most of the 'big' expenditure, I think. This is helped by the part where I have most of the other rally gear already (harnesses, trip meter, etc). There's always tons of other ways to spend money, of course - Stage Zero and all that.

  • Spac @Spac wrote: »
    7. Rally valved Bilsteins are on order from Capital Steering and Suspension.

    Do Capitol do Bilstein re-valving?
  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    Not that I am aware of.
  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    A couple of big days spent on it this week.

    Bit the bullet and stripped the interior on Wednesday. Unlike my previous rally car builds, this one began with a tidy, running and registered non-shitbox, so there was a bit of a mental hurdle to 'wrecking it'.

    I also pared back the wiring loom. Small weight saving, but the real value is that I now have my head around how it all works, and it is much simpler (both of these are good things when something goes wrong in the middle of the night in some freezing forest).

    I have deleted everything related to the airbags, the (ridiculously overly complicated) rear demister/powered antenna, central locking for the tailgate & fuel flap, brake pad wear indicators and ABS.
    Lots of globes removed from the instrument cluster... :)

    I haven't proven the point with the ABS stuff, but everything that is supposed to work still does! I know that I should be able to back my abilities, but you never know when some marketing or management fuckwit at the factory has demanded some shitty algorithm that screws everything up because some minor thing isn't working...

    Specifically keeping the stereo and air conditioning.

    With ever-increasing safety requirements making it harder and harder to keep cool, plus getting older and whingier, simply "dealing with the heat" is not really an option.
    A friend runs a cool suit in her Evo rally car, and reckons that it is a very good thing. After a fifteen minute discussion about it, I asked "how does it compare to aircon?", and she immediately replied with "oh, you'd keep air conditioning if you had it!".
    So I took that on board.

    The stereo is purely for longer transport sections. I figure that the head unit and speakers weigh about 1.5kg, so are a bareable weight penalty. I have kept the speakers in the door trims and the kick panels (next to your feet, below the dash).
    After screwing up and buying a non-Bluetooth Pioneer head unit for the V40, the BMW came with a BT Pioneer head unit. So I swapped head units between cars. :)

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    edited May 2018
    Have also spent some money.

    Just over $1000 on "stuff":
    Camber adjustable strut tops;
    Ferodo DS2500 brake pads;
    Cam cover gasket;
    Wheels studs (to replace the wheel bolts);
    Strut brace;
    Tow straps;
    HID conversion;
    $28 quick shift;
    Power steering cooler.

    I have decided to go with the E46 steering rack after reading that the Z3 rack might have a restricted steering locks (so the reduced turns L2L isn't because it has a faster ratio, just less lock).

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    Spent all day on it today, but can't really tell you where the time went...

    Got the seat mounts mostly finished. Considering that I thought they were pretty much finished, they definitely took up some time.

    Also fitted the tailgate spring holders.


    Oh wait, that's where the time went: the bloody sunroof!
    I know that three pieces of aluminium don't look like much, but there was a lot of work in getting it right.
    There's short lengths of fuel hose between the sunroof skin and the brackets, so each bolt can be tightened down to get the right height. DydGJgMh.jpg

  • Don't know how I missed this thread, nice work
  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    Cage fitted.
    Two enthusiastic thumbs up for Bond Roll Bars. $1650 worth with single door bars - I got the second door bars for a very good price because of my raw sex appeal or something ( :open_mouth: ... :lol: ).

    Both seats need to be brought forward slightly - the Sparco seats end up slightly further back than the Velo seats that the mounts were made for. The nav's seat interferes with the cage slightly, while the driver's seat is just a bit too much of a stretch the the clutch pedal.

    Oh, yeah, I bought a matching Sparco nav's seat. New, on special for $950. So my average price is $775, compared to the usual $1100-1200.

    Most of the stuff I ordered (see a couple of posts up) has arrived. Brake pads and wheel studs are the only parts that I am still waiting for.
    Shocks are in, but I can't go and get them until next week. :(

    (Sorry, no photos: "Server responded with 0 code").

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