View Full Version : Which 'ring project E36 M3? 3.0 or 3.2?

03-01-2009, 08:01 PM
Hi guys. First post so here goes.

I'm a complete petrolhead and my darling wife has just bought me a weekend at the Nurburgring as a Chrsitmas present (I know, she's great!).

Anyhow, I've been hinking of preparing an appropraite car for the trip and for a bit of road use and the odd track day.

I know there are lots of them on here but I fancy an E36 M3 but can't decide on a 3.0 or 3.2. Both have their arguments for and against. Or do I go for something else that someone can recomend?

My criteria is as follows:

Must be suitable for the Nurburgring.
Must be usable on the motorway in reasonable comfort.
Must be a road and track car. Can't go all out racer.
Must be less than 8k all in.

The M3 seems the obvious choice. I will be doing some mods such as,

Decent tyres.
Uprated suspenion or even colovers.
Refresh of busches and alignment.
Uprated ARB's and strut braces.
Uprated pads (apparently Pagid are the best).
Dave F induction, or similar.
Decent exhaust.
Bucket seats (as i believe there is a big weight saving over the vadars).
Basic weight saving measures.

Other than a E36 M3 I'm thinking of a 944 turbo, Elise 135 or 111s, S2000, Evo, Impreza etc. I've come from various quick FWD's and more recntly lerned RWD in a Eunos Rs-Ltd. I really got on well with front engined RWD, so that's my preference.

Thanks in advance,


03-01-2009, 08:06 PM
Russ is your man for BMW advice (runs an independant specialist).

There a few owners on here that run them as DRT's, most use the 3.0 ltr due to it not suffering from Vanos issue and having the better gearbox.

If you search through the member projects section you we find a few there.


03-01-2009, 08:36 PM
First off, the VANOS thing on the 3L or 3.2L is not a problem at all.

Its a massively overrated issue and very few cars suffer from it, and you get plenty warning when they do start to go.

But I think you're right on the money with an E36 M3 as they are reasonable money, a fantastically powerful car, hugely upgradeable, RWD and very good road manners.

The M test center is at Nurburg, so M cars naturally are tested and refined there, I had a huge amount of fun in a totally standard E36 M3 last year and I know Martin from the Burgstube also has a standard E36 M3.

If you go M3 I personally dont think you 'need' ARBs or strut braces until you start making it a more dedicated track car, the standard ones are fine.

E36 M3s are also 50/50 weight distribution so very well balanced.

Vadar seats ARE heavy, you would benefit from bucket seats in terms of weight but it would make it a less comfortable road car. You could also keep the vadars and invest in a Schroth quick fit 4 point harness, which would mean you have a good seat/harness for the track and proper seats and 3 point belt for the road.

I know Russ has a very good 3.2 Evo for 4500 right now (my old car), its the right colour, 6 speed manual and it already has some basic weight saving measures and good track wheels/tyres.

03-01-2009, 10:34 PM
LOL you 2 are like good cop/bad cop salesmen.


03-01-2009, 10:42 PM
Originally posted by pye21@Jan 3 2009, 09:06 PM
Russ is your man for BMW advice (runs an independant specialist).

Cheers Ian ;)

Hi Matt, welcome to Northloop :thumb:
Does your wife have any idea what a can of worms she has opened :o My wife did the same for me the other year, now it's a monthly pilgrimage :whistle:

Your right, both the 3.0 & 3.2 have their for and against but both are equally suited to the task. The ideal scenario is a mix of the two in my view :thumb:

I have used both at the ring extensively and their isn't much between them, the thing i like about the e36 m3's is that as a standard car they are great but fettled they can be absolutely EPIC and i think you'd find it hard to justify moving on to something else(quicker?) because they are a great long term project, what i mean by that is you don't need to pile loads of money into one to start enjoying them on track but over time carry out mod's and improvements to suit your budget and in time you, if done right you will end up with a weapon!!! Parts aren't a major issue either.

Don't hesitate to contact me if you feel the need :thumb:

And, Dave is right, the m3 evo 3.2 that i have for sale is a great car at a very sensible price and would be an ideal base for a drt project ;)


03-01-2009, 10:45 PM
Originally posted by EmmaW@Jan 3 2009, 11:34 PM
LOL you 2 are like good cop/bad cop salesmen.

:lol: :lol: :lol: @ Emma

04-01-2009, 10:57 AM
Thanks guys.

If the Vanos is overhyped on the Evo, as I had read, I may well go for one of these. It seems to be the beter car I just had doubts about the Vanos and 'box. I also have heard the engine on the 3.0 is stronger than the 3.2. Is this true?


04-01-2009, 11:01 AM
I ran my M3 totally standard except AP brakes for about six trips and loved it. Yes they wallow around a bit but the softer suspension allows you to take huge liberties with kerbs :D

I have now gone the whole hog and stripped, bilsteined, bucket/harnessed etc. One hing I would say is that mine is a non evo 3.0 and it has not even coughed in 40,000 hard miles, a third of which have been going to, lapping at and returning from the Ring :thumb:

04-01-2009, 11:14 AM
The 5 speed box in the non Evo is stronger.

People often speak about the 3L engine being better 'out' the box in terms of they tend to produce more power than standard, and the Evos usually produce less power than standard.

However, even considering this, the Evo do give out slightly more power.

The dual oil pickup and sump of the Evo is vastly superior to the 3L also.

As well as the brakes, shorter ratio steering, some suspension parts etc. So in reality, for a standard to standard comparison you may be better off with the evo.

However, the non-evo can be upgraded in every way to be as good as or better as the evo model, so its not a consideration really unless you intend to leave it totally standard and never ever upgrade anything. For a project car, either will do fine.

As Russ says, mixing and matching produces the best overall car.

04-01-2009, 03:04 PM
AS the OP mentioned an S2000 here's the usual spiel (i ran one for 3 years)

Out of the box they need uprated pads, and a modicum of driving skill. You need to wring its neck to get the best out of it.

Earlier ones are snappier at the limit and drink oil. They're great fun, I did 50 odd laps of the ring plus about 15 UK tracks days, 56k miles and the only thing that went wrong was 1 wheel bearing which cost 60 to replace. Servicing is cheap. I got through stupid amounts of tyres and brakes though. Didn't even require a new clutch.

Although I've not driven an E36 M3 yet, I still think the Beemer will give you more bang for your buck. More room for improvement on a budget too.

I bloody loved my S2000 though. So if you want to know anything let me know.

Das Chin
04-01-2009, 03:11 PM
hi mat and welcome

8k should get you a very nice e36 m3 in coupe or 4 door shape for that sort of money so depends on what you want really.

Russ is your man as he has a lot of contacts around cars and how to source....or even build you one.

before u make a decision then try and come to a northloop track day where a few of us will be there with the m3s and other cars to make an informed decision.

I have always wanted a 36 m3 in track guise and was convinced by going out with pooky, simon and russ.

great cars, lots of poke and well balanced. I stepped up from a mk2 golf and its lots of change in lots of ways....as well as the parts and cost of running them! :rolleyes: :thumb:

regarding the 3 or 3.2 route then I would be more worried about the car istelf, good shell, previous work and history, getting one with a cage for track work (absolute MUST!), suspension, brakes and other lighter bits.

the 3.2 is a more modern design so if you can get one with all the track bits for that money then go for it. mine is a 3 litre with single pick up (no twin like the 3.2) but I was not bothered and the whole car was the right one for me. ideally I would like a 3.2, single vanos, 3.2 head and twin pick so maybe one day or if the 3 litre went pop or sth.

good luck with your search and keep your eyes on pistonheads - track days cars as there is always some on there for sale.


04-01-2009, 03:34 PM
Originally posted by mat59@Jan 3 2009, 09:01 PM
Bucket seats (as i believe there is a big weight saving over the vadars).

you will struggle to lift them out by yourself...put it that way :lol:

i was sort of in the same boat as you mate, i took my 3.0 m3 out to the ring in july 2008, all it had was H&R roll bars/bushes and some cheap suspension. it performed very well (albiet a bit lardy lol)

now its more track focused

bearing in mind mine has still got carpets/door cards etc etc so its comfortable to do a 1000miles in, just cage, suspension (all adjustable) , brakes, carbon fibre here and there to keep the weight down, buckets/harnesses... and its still very usable on the road but on track its perfect alot more poised .. see build thread for more info buddy.

they really are an awesome track weapon, but dont forget that little M Badge can add a few more to your budget

04-01-2009, 06:30 PM
Thanks for the info so far.

Anyone where i could find a build link for an E36 M3 and S2000. These two have always been my two front runners for this project. Still not sure what to go for.

Also, I'd really appreciate it if someone could suggest some basic modifications to make an E36 M3. It needs to be a road car that isn't out of it's depth on the track. i think roll cages etc may be a bit further down the line yet, unless it can be done without too much expense.



04-01-2009, 06:33 PM
Look in the members motors here for several M3 builds.

Basic modifications for an M3 would be brakes pads, tyres and wheels.

As a standard car otherwise it'll be great on the ring.

04-01-2009, 06:41 PM
yes, in the "Members cars and projects" section on this website, there are a few M3 builds.

This one is ok :fishing:

Saving an M3 (http://z8.invisionfree.com/Northloop/index.php?showtopic=12270)

04-01-2009, 07:24 PM
There's tons of stuff on www.s2ki.co.uk. It's mostly US guys that have the equivalent of DRTised an S2000. Prepare to spend LOTS of money .

04-01-2009, 07:30 PM
Originally posted by Sim@Jan 4 2009, 07:41 PM
yes, in the "Members cars and projects" section on this website, there are a few M3 builds.

This one is ok :fishing:

Saving an M3 (http://z8.invisionfree.com/Northloop/index.php?showtopic=12270)
:lol: :lol: @ Sim


05-01-2009, 07:39 PM
This thread is giving me very bad thoughts about building up an M3. You can pick em up for 3.5k now!

05-01-2009, 07:44 PM
Originally posted by chilled@Jan 5 2009, 08:39 PM
This thread is giving me very bad thoughts about building up an M3. You can pick em up for 3.5k now!
Paid just over 3K for mine 15 months ago :thumb:

05-01-2009, 08:38 PM
Hi Matt

Seeing as everyone has commented on the E36 M3 I thought I would do my bit for Porsche.

The 944 Turbo you mentioned will also be a very safe bet by meeting all the requirements you listed, great everyday with reasonable comfort but plenty of capability at the Ring. The price of parts is reasonable with good aftermarket availability and a high number of Porsche Independants to service your needs.

To find a good car you would be looking to spend between 5 - 7k therefore a bit more expensive than the M3 however this would get you a very late 80's / early 90's car which would be the 250 BHP Silver Rose or SE version which came standard with the larger brakes and LSD. Other mods that would help (but not essential) are a suspension upgrade to KW or something similar.

The 944 Turbo has bags of easy to find extra ponies by simply going down the re-chipping route, you can safetly expect 300 BHP (subject to the engine condition) which will remain very reliable. The weight balance of a 944 is nigh on 50/50 as the car runs with a 5 speed transaxle gearbox. The handling therefore is very neutral and confidence inspiring.

Overall the 944 is a great car and relatively speaking a hidden gem at reasonable prices.

You will find cheaper cars 220 BHP versions for less than 4K however if you are going to take the plunge I would go for a 250BHP version as this is a much better starting point.


05-01-2009, 08:39 PM
Originally posted by chilled@Jan 5 2009, 08:39 PM
This thread is giving me very bad thoughts about building up an M3. You can pick em up for 3.5k now!
Paid 2.5k for the last one i had but you can double that in labour and double that again in parts :blink: Obviously depending on how far you go :thumb:

05-01-2009, 09:15 PM
I'd go all the way I think if I wanted one

05-01-2009, 09:21 PM
Originally posted by Weeman@Jan 5 2009, 10:15 PM
I'd go all the way
Usually on the first date so i've heard


05-01-2009, 09:30 PM
Originally posted by Weeman@Jan 5 2009, 10:15 PM
I'd go all the way I think if I wanted one
Knock Knock at weemans door :thumb:


05-01-2009, 09:36 PM
what you want is an s14 silvia import that has had all the money spunked on it already in japan

Jim Cameron
05-01-2009, 09:37 PM
Saw this the other week. Awful paint :(

06-01-2009, 08:13 AM
Originally posted by Jim Cameron@Jan 5 2009, 10:37 PM
Saw this the other week. Awful paint :(
Is that the car that used to live at Tom Schirmers place? It was not the best example of a GT iirc :(

06-01-2009, 10:30 AM
Originally posted by lizard@Jan 6 2009, 12:30 AM
Knock Knock at weemans door :thumb:

I'd only go all the way for you russ my little bearded bundle of fun.

I'll have a standard one please, I dont do uber modded engines , std is the way forward

06-01-2009, 10:28 PM
PMSL @ Weeman... ditto ;)