BMW is often touted as the Ultimate Driving Machine, while Ford's Mustang V8 is said to offer the biggest bang for the buck. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe 3-Series combines them both for what's maybe the Ultimate Banging Machine?
There was a lot of teeth-gnashing yesterday over the immobile RX-7 wide body, but there weren't enough biters to push it past a 62% Crack Pipe loss. The work-in-progress nature of that Mazda proved to be its downfall. . . well, that and the fact that the driver's Recaro looked like it had done a year on meth. In contrast, today's secret squirrel BMW arrives fully realized and ready to rock. That being said, if you genuflect at the altar of the Bavarian six, you might find this be-mustanged 1996 328i a tire-eating blasphemy on M3 wheels.
The E36 3-series never engendered the kind of rabid fanboyism of its boxy predecessor, the E30. That's a shame, because on paper, the later car is better in almost every stat, with only the exception being the iconic BMW-boxiness. Replacing the earlier car's trailing arm rear suspension on the E36 was the uber more competent Z-Link originally proven on the Z1. Sending its power back to that multi-link rear end was the a collection of mostly DOHC engines, including the M52B28 six, which managed in the 328i to pump out a gigolo smooth 193-bhp.
For some folks, that teutonic twin cam is all the engine they need, but for others, that's just not enough. Many go the turbo route, but that's expensive and shortens the life of what's already a bunch of pricy parts. Others go for displacement, replacing 2.8 with 3.0, 3.2 or larger. That's the path down which today's seller has trod, although he's left some pretty deep footprints as the displacement boost he has achieved meant carrying a Ford 5.0 for most of the way. Now, this E36 four-door carries it.
The M52 weighs in at about 400-lbs dressed for Thanksgiving, while a similarly be-accessorized fuelie 5.0 tips the scales at a robust quarter ton. Ay caramba! And that's all in a car that weighs in at about 3,300-lbs out the factory door. To account for that 100-or so extra pounds pushing the front wheels into the pavement, the seller notes the addition of a set of H&R sport springs and adjustable Koni shocks, Let's hope those Konis have a lard-ass setting. Making up for that weight increase is a commensurate upping of the ponies, as the 302 originally put out 225-bhp, and this one is claimed to have an Explorer intake and TB, which should give it. . . well, I don't know what that does for it, but a look at the video proves this car can move, even if the owner is a bit of a feather foot.
He may be shy about dropping the hammer, but he isn't when it comes to giving you the car's life story, and the conversion is documented extensively here on Picassa, including the adaptation of shorty Mustang headers flipped around backwards in order to fit the steering around the exhaust. This is also the first NPOCP car that I can recall which has had its own website. That's being pretty social, but the rest of the car is nearly the perfect sleeper, with only the 17" M3 rims to give things away.
The body, in original BMW white, looks straight and dent-free, while the 190K on the clock is a bit of a moot point as the parts with the most wearability potential are of unknown mileage. Of course, they're also Ford, or Tremec-sourced, so who cares? Rowing that T5 stick is done from an interior that also belies the big eight under the hood, and looks as well cared for as does the outside. Overall, the conversion appears to be fully sorted and, with the exception of the non-functioning A/C, a tach that still thinks there's a six under the hood, and tires that pass more air than the Boca Raton Bingo League, it all seems to work.
Those foibles are all minor annoyances, and they wouldn't stand between you and this undercover brother of a 3-series, would they? I didn't think so. What might turn this sleeper a comatose vegetable is its $9,000 asking price. What do you think, does eight into three equal nine grand? Or, for that price, would it need to come with the original motor, and the Mustang that came with the V8?
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