Entries for 'JonathanL'

30

Project E36 M3: Part 6 - Short Shifter and Engine Mounts

Project E36 M3: Part 6 - Short Shifter and Engine Mounts

by Jonathan Lawson

After reading the glowing magazine reviews for two and half years in the mid-90s, I finally test drove my first BMW E36 M3 back in 1997. That drive was all I could think about until July of 1999 when I finally gave in and bought my first M3. I was coming from a 1994 DC4 Acura Integra LS, so everything about the E36 M3 was incredible to me… Except the shifter. The first thing I remember from that very first test drive was the feeling of churning butter just to shift gears. The overall feel was acceptable, but the length of the throws was ridiculous compared to the notchy goodness of the Acura, so that was the first thing I changed on my original ’99 M3, and it’s the first thing I’ve changed on each E36 I’ve owned since then.


 

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01

Race Ramps Portable Pit Stop BMW

Race Ramps: Portable Pit Stop

by Jonathan Lawson

Every car guy with a garage dreams of owning a lift, but not all of us have the room for one. Sure, there are small and even portable lift options that don’t require a ton of space, but for those times when you want full access to the underside of your car with the wheels supported, ramps are the ticket. Speaking from experience, however, I’ve never had much confidence in the plastic ramps you can pick up from chain stores, and those can cause a hassle when it comes to getting both ends of the car up, let alone the limited ground clearance they offer. Enter Race Ramps!


 

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03

Jef Groff's Castro Motorsports LSM3 Drift Car

Jef Groff's Castro Motorsports LSM3 Drift Car

by Jonathan Lawson

Headed up by Chris Castro, Castro Motorsports has a knack for putting out some high-quality work. If you haven’t seen the airbox on Pablo Mazlumian’s Project E46 M3, take a moment and give it a gander. It’s a beautifully crafted piece of art. Castro Motorsports is full of true die-hard enthusiasts with performance oozing through their blood. They do everything from custom fabrications to motor swaps and big-turbo builds, and speaking of motor swaps, who wouldn’t love flinging an LS3-powered E36 M3 around? Well, drifter extraordinaire and professional stunt man Jef Groff sure doesn’t mind… 


 

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06

Project E36 M3 Suspension Version 1.1

Project E36 M3: Part 5 - Suspension V1.1 - Sway Bars, Control Arms, and Fender Rolling

by Jonathan Lawson

Coming off an unplanned hiatus, we’re ready to get back into full swing with Project E36 M3. In part 4 we covered our new ARC-8 wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 tires with a sneak peak of the finishing touches on V1.0 of our suspension, and that brings us to the present…


 

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21

Project E36 323is Part 8 - Proper Wheels, Studs, and Tires

by Jonathan Lawson

Project E36 323is is continuing its transformation from the mildest of inline 6 cylinder options from the BMW factory into a well prepped street car that isn’t afraid of some track time. 


 

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26

Project E36 323is: Part 7 - Cleaning Up the Office With Driven Steering and BMWPedals.com

Project E36 323is: Part 7 - Cleaning Up The Office with Driven Steering and BMWPedals.com

by Jonathan Lawson

There’s something to be said for having a comfortable and productive work space, and that goes for your regular work desk or your driving office. We decided to clean up the look and feel of the Project E36 323is office with a new suede steering wheel from Driven Steering mounted to a MOMO hub adapter, and with some new pedals from BWMPedals.com, all as a way to increase driver focus, and to simply make it look a little better.


 

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27

APEX Arc-8 on M3

Project E36 M3: Part 4 - APEX Arc-8 Wheels and Michelin PSAS3 Tires

by Jonathan Lawson

I remember the first time I strolled onto a BMW lot back in the mid-90s to see the new E36 M3 in person. I fell in love with everything about it, including some of the factory wheel offerings. The wheels were considered large at the time, with 17" diameters, and no one knew that APEX would have their 18" x 9" Arc-8s within wheel wells. The M3s were also delivered from the factory with the then-impressive Michelin Pilot MXX3 tires, with no one ever thinking that the "all-season" Pilot Sport A/S 3 would not only perform even better, but allow you to drive in all but the most foul of winter weather conditions.


 

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06

Project E36 M3: Part 3 - Suspension Version 1.0: HVT

Project E36 M3: Part 3 - Suspension Version 1.0

by Jonathan Lawson

Now we’re getting into the exciting bits of Project E36 M3.  It’s been a joy to drive in mostly-stock form, but it’s time to get into the real fun: Suspension!

The groundwork for our suspension project began a few months ago when I had a meeting with Brian Hanchey of Hanchey Vehicle Technologies (HVT) while we were at Kansas Speedway’s GRAND AM race weekend.  The prospects of our discussion had me bouncing off the walls with excitement.


 

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23

Project E36 M3: Part 2 - Wheel Studs, Motorsport Bracing and... Cup Holders?

Project E36 M3: Part 2 - Wheel Studs, Motorsport Bracing and... Cup Holders?

by Jonathan Lawson

We managed to get the handling of our E36 M3 back up to a stock-like feel in Part 1, so the car has been feeling almost new.  With some exciting parts on the way, we decided to keep ourselves busy while we wait by adding a bit of convenience which the Germans didn’t seem to have as a priority.  We also wanted something a little fun to help us pass the time, so we increased the crisp feel of our chassis with a simple but effective part from the BMW Motorsport division... 


 

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16

Lockton Motorsports Cayman R

Lockton Motorsports: HPDE Insurance

by Jonathan Lawson

Back when I first became a track junky in the late-90s, it was very a different scene.  High-performance driving events (HPDEs) would sell out within hours of being announced, and people were starting to show up in brand-new cars instead of their old track rats.  Most of them didn’t think for a moment about the chance of losing their car in an on-track incident.  They were golden times for some.


 

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08

Project 323is guibo vibrationProject E36 323is: Building the Poor Man's M3, Part 6: Tales of a Guibo: What The Hell is That Vibration?

by Jonathan Lawson

Not too long after we finished installing our Turner Motorsports Power Package 1 update with aFe intake and Jim Conforti tune, our 323is developed a vibration under acceleration in 2nd gear. The vibration would only occur between 3,000-4,000 RPM, and it was limited to just second gear under heavy acceleration. After a few more days, however, the vibration was noticeable in all gears, and through the entire RPM range. Things were getting serious.


 

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26

Project E36 M3: Part 1 - Taming the Wobbly BeastProject E36 M3: Part 1 - Taming the Wobbly Beast

by Jonathan Lawson

I'm an addict.  A full-fledged, mainlining, E36 M3 addict, and I haven't been able to lift myself out of it since 1995 when the E36 M3 was released in the U.S. By the summer of 1999 I jumped in at the tail end of the production run.  I'll save you from all of the boring in-between details for now, but after trying to shake the chassis out of my system, my fourth example now sits in our garage.


 

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21

Grand-Am Road Racing at Kansas SpeedwayGrand-Am Road Racing at Kansas Speedway

by Jonathan Lawson

While Kansas City has had its share of professional racing at Kansas Speedway, the only thing missing was a professional road race series coming to town.  With the recent addition of a 2.37-mile roval (road coarse plus oval) utilizing most of the speedway banking on top of the new infield layout, that problem has been solved.


 

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06

Project E36 323is: Building the Poor Man's M3, Part 5 - Intake and Software

Project E36 323is: Building the Poor Man's M3, Part 5 - Intake and Software

By Jonathan Lawson

In Part 4 of our Poor Man's M3 project, we added a more serious soundtrack to our 323is with the help of a Corsa exhaust.  A great side effect was that it also happened to give a boost to our horsepower output.  That brought us from 141.1 wheel horse power (whp) to 146.8 whp, and it increased our torque output from 142.9 ft/lb to 149.5 ft/lb.  Better breathing is always a good thing, so we decided to get a bit more flow to the exhaust with a Stage 1 Turner Motorsport Performance Package, which includes an aFe intake and Shark Injector performance software.


 

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18

Project E36 323is: Building the Poor Man's M3, Part 4 - Exhaust

Project E36 323is: Building the Poor Man's M3, Part 4 - Exhaust

By Jonathan Lawson

Now that our E36 323is is hustling through the corners a bit more sure-footedly, there's one thing that seems to be missing.  A soundtrack!  While our car is not packing the most powerful engine in the world, it's still got a bullet-proof and (potentially) great sounding BMW M52B25 inline 6, yet it's almost as if the factory put the whole car on mute.  The engine loves to rev, and is sewing machine smooth at any RPM thanks to the motor's inherent balance, but it really feels like it wants to sing a bit louder, and who are we to stop it?


 

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02

Project E36 323is: Building the Poor Man's M3, Part 3 - Brakes, Wheels, Tires 

By Jonathan Lawson

Next up on our Project E36 323is is giving it more grip and better braking.  Stopping distances will almost always come down the moment you put good rubber on a car, but for short and repeatable braking, you want to maximize the braking system itself, and that's where the StopTech brakes come in.


 

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14

Suspension Overhaul Completion

Project E36 323is: Building the Poor Man's M3, Part 2
-Suspension Overhaul Completion
 

By Jonathan Lawson 

The next stage of our suspension overhaul—replacing dampers and springs—is where most of the handling magic happens. Internet legend would have you believe that the original dampers on most any E36 are shot at about 60-90,000 miles.  Based on personal experience over the years we can put that rumor to rest… It's true.  Our project 323is was purchased with 60,000 miles on it and we switched to H&R Sport springs and fresh OE shocks and struts at about 80,000 miles.  Having reached 150,000 miles, however, it was now time to replace the OE dampers again, but why go stock when you can go better?  Much better!

 

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12

Project E36, Building the Poor Man's M3 Part 1 - Suspension Overhaul Basics

By Jonathan Lawson

The BMW 3-series has been widely accepted as one of the best handling cars for many decades.  That holds particularly true for the E36 chassis, which had some nice technological advances in suspension layout over its E30 predecessor, and could also still be considered fairly light and "tossable" by modern standards.  Of course, ending production in the late-90s, the E36s have grown a little long in the tooth... 


 

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