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Motorsports, Racing & Track
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  #1  
Old 05-30-2003, 07:14 AM
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Track Car: Late E30 or Early E36? 2 doors or 4?

I am now thinking about getting myself a dedicated track car as a result of becoming increasingly concerned about wrecking my daily driver (2001 325xi) at the track. An older car like a 325is would be cheap, I could add in a full roll cage and harnesses, and if I wreck it, it?s not as big a deal. Would not have to worry about insurance, etc. And maybe I will want to get into racing. So I could have a car for stock class racing. I could keep it street legal so I could drive it to the track and pretty much stock so I could try the low cost stock racing.

The E30 and E36 325 cars are what I am thinking about. Maybe a 325i/is of some sort. A late E30 325is can be found a little bit cheaper than an early E36 325is. But the price difference is not huge. An E36 is more appealing in that it is a more current model. Parts availability should be good for quite some time. Maybe a better, newer car. And I have a nice set of wheels and tires I could use on an E36, but probably not an E30 (17? BBS RK with 235/40/17 SO3). For me, price is definitely a concern. So some questions:

-E30 or E36?

-Any reason to go for a 325i versus a 325is? It seems that the early E36 325i (4 doors) is getting almost as cheap as the late E30, but the 325is (2 doors) is not quite as cheap. So any pros or cons going with a 4 door versus a 2 door?

-Where can one find listings of track cars for sale, ones that are already dedicated track cars (gutted interiors, role cage, etc.)? I suspect those might actually be cheaper in some cases. I have not seen much for ads in my quick looking around.
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  #2  
Old 05-30-2003, 07:31 AM
Chris325i Chris325i is offline
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I'd be inclined to go with the E30...lighter, more reliable than the E36, easy to work on, parts are pretty cheap and readily available. If you want to race there's a new spec E30 series.

Also, a 4-door should have a stiffer chassis than the 2-door.

14" tires will be a LOT cheaper than 17"

Last edited by Chris325i; 05-30-2003 at 07:36 AM.
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  #3  
Old 05-30-2003, 07:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chris325i
I'd be inclined to go with the E30...lighter, more reliable than the E36, easy to work on, parts are pretty cheap and readily available. If you want to race there's a new spec E30 series.

Also, a 4-door should have a stiffer chassis than the 2-door.

14" tires will be a LOT cheaper than 17"
Agree-- a late e30 is a better built car than an early e36.
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  #4  
Old 05-30-2003, 07:43 AM
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Re: Track Car: Late E30 or Early E36? 2 doors or 4?

Quote:
Originally posted by JonW
-Where can one find listings of track cars for sale, ones that are already dedicated track cars (gutted interiors, role cage, etc.)? I suspect those might actually be cheaper in some cases. I have not seen much for ads in my quick looking around.
You might want to look in the classifieds in the back of Roundel. I'd also think about sending email saying that you are looking to buy to any BMW related mailists that are centered near your location.
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  #5  
Old 05-30-2003, 08:12 AM
Mystikal Mystikal is offline
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I have a European Car mag here, and it has a special on the history of E36's. One of main points they make at the end of the article is that although the E36 is by no ways a "poorly built car" (after all the bashing, they were putting it nicely) it has many problems that the E30 simply didn't. Things like structural issues were just not an issue with the E30, as they mention you can mount products that are 200% stiffer onto the E30 suspension with no ill effect or something like that.

To put it blunty, after this report, there was no way I was going to get an E36 non-M. I was seriously considering 92-95 325is models before I opened the mag.

In the end, I really think I made the right decision. And my wheels weigh 13lbs each.
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  #6  
Old 05-30-2003, 08:33 AM
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Chris Rappas here at XP Engineering loves the spec E30 racing. You can get a car and be raced prepped for about $10K total.
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  #7  
Old 05-30-2003, 08:53 AM
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Thanks guys. I would have guessed that an E36 would be better given that it's a newer design. Sounds like that's not the case. Very interesting.
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  #8  
Old 05-30-2003, 09:11 AM
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You can also buy pre-built, track ready E30s that racers have discarded to move up in class. Most times club racers moving from stock class to say, mod or prepared classes would start from scratch and build a new car instead. A race prepped E30 would have all the roll bars and harness points built in and be relatively cheap.

Contact your local BMWCCA chapter and talk to the club racing/driving event coordinator, and see if he/she knows some instructors or racers that's thinking about moving to a different class and is ditching their current ride. Sure is a lot easier and cheaper to buy a car that's already prepped than to buy a stock car and then put all that work into it.
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  #9  
Old 05-30-2003, 09:12 AM
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Re: Track Car: Late E30 or Early E36? 2 doors or 4?

Quote:
Originally posted by JonW
-E30 or E36?
It depends on how serious you plan to be. The E36 chassis would make a better dedicated race car (more rigid, larger wheelbase, updated suspension, etc.) And most of the problem areas like the sub-frame or the electronics would be either be reinforced or eliminated.

It would be a lot of fun to run Spec e30 though....and definitely cheaper.

In addition to Roundel, here are some links to places that usually have race cars for sale:
Turner Motorsport

North American BMW Racing

VAC Motorsports
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  #10  
Old 05-30-2003, 10:06 AM
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Another point to throw in teh mix, there is now an E30 spec class for racing. So with what would be normal dedicated track car mods, you can go racing and be reasonably competitive.
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  #11  
Old 05-30-2003, 05:04 PM
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In addition to everyone else's excellent points, I think that the E30s are less complicated in terms of electronics and such, and therefore easier and cheaper to fix.
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  #12  
Old 05-31-2003, 03:00 PM
Mystikal Mystikal is offline
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Re: Re: Track Car: Late E30 or Early E36? 2 doors or 4?

Quote:
Originally posted by bren
[B]It depends on how serious you plan to be. The E36 chassis would make a better dedicated race car (more rigid, larger wheelbase, updated suspension, etc.) And most of the problem areas like the sub-frame or the electronics would be either be reinforced or eliminated.[b]
The E36 is larger and heavier. Don't start on rigidity either, with the subframe issues and such. The suspension is also more prone to expensive repair as it became a lot more complex.

And early E36's are electronic NIGHTMARES. It was BMW's first forray into CAD design, and it shows.
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  #13  
Old 05-31-2003, 04:09 PM
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Re: Re: Re: Track Car: Late E30 or Early E36? 2 doors or 4?

Quote:
Originally posted by Mystikal
The E36 is larger and heavier. Don't start on rigidity either, with the subframe issues and such. The suspension is also more prone to expensive repair as it became a lot more complex.

And early E36's are electronic NIGHTMARES. It was BMW's first forray into CAD design, and it shows.
Hmm. I'll say that my early E36 was great. The only issue it ever had was the recall to bolt the steering column down.

*looking around patiently for an '87-'89 325is*
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  #14  
Old 05-31-2003, 08:55 PM
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Re: Re: Re: Track Car: Late E30 or Early E36? 2 doors or 4?

Quote:
Originally posted by Mystikal
The E36 is larger and heavier. Don't start on rigidity either, with the subframe issues and such. The suspension is also more prone to expensive repair as it became a lot more complex.

And early E36's are electronic NIGHTMARES. It was BMW's first forray into CAD design, and it shows.
Well you quoted my post but I'm not sure you read it....what I said was that the E36 makes a better pure racer. Yes, it is bigger and *marginally* heavier, both of which can actually aid stability at high speed. And the chassis IS significantly more rigid..whether you care to believe it or not. All of that added suspension complexity you spoke of was added because it greatly improves performance...I am not aware of any significant increase in repair costs either.

Yes there are subframe issues but these are easily remedied, and how many track cars have you seen with complex electrical systems?
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  #15  
Old 06-02-2003, 06:35 AM
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Re: Re: Track Car: Late E30 or Early E36? 2 doors or 4?

Quote:
Originally posted by bren
In addition to Roundel, here are some links to places that usually have race cars for sale:
Turner Motorsport

North American BMW Racing

VAC Motorsports
Excellent links. Thanks. I didn't know about those. Are there any other good sites to keep an eye on?
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  #16  
Old 06-02-2003, 08:43 AM
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Are you only interested in BMWs?
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  #17  
Old 06-02-2003, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by The Roadstergal
Are you only interested in BMWs?
To be honest, I'm not sure. I do like BMW's. They handle well and all. And I'm comfortable with them in that I'm getting familiar with working on my car a bit, the BMW driver school circuit, have read some about club racing, spec E30 racing, etc. But I guess there's no real reason to restrict myself to BMW's. Any other recommendations?
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  #18  
Old 06-02-2003, 07:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by JonW
To be honest, I'm not sure. I do like BMW's. They handle well and all. And I'm comfortable with them in that I'm getting familiar with working on my car a bit, the BMW driver school circuit, have read some about club racing, spec E30 racing, etc. But I guess there's no real reason to restrict myself to BMW's. Any other recommendations?
Spec Miata
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  #19  
Old 06-03-2003, 07:17 AM
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Spec Miata
Is that a safe car for the track, given that there is no solid roof?
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Old 06-03-2003, 04:46 PM
Mystikal Mystikal is offline
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Track Car: Late E30 or Early E36? 2 doors or 4?

Quote:
Originally posted by bren
Well you quoted my post but I'm not sure you read it....what I said was that the E36 makes a better pure racer. Yes, it is bigger and *marginally* heavier, both of which can actually aid stability at high speed. And the chassis IS significantly more rigid..whether you care to believe it or not. All of that added suspension complexity you spoke of was added because it greatly improves performance...I am not aware of any significant increase in repair costs either.

Yes there are subframe issues but these are easily remedied, and how many track cars have you seen with complex electrical systems?
I did read it. Maybe you should again.

So, bigger and heavier is better for the track. Bring on the E65's! For real stability, give me spoilers, thank you very much.

In rigidity, yes, it is more rigid. But it also has problems in areas of high stress, much more so than the E30.

Do you seriously think a Z-axle is cheaper to buy than a semi-trailing arm?

And, unless you are a World Challenge driver, I don't see you modifying all of the electronics. Therefore, you'd still have all of the same issues. Track racing can be dangerous, if, say, the instrument cluster stops functioning. Not that this is a specific E36 problem, but just an example.

Everything I say is just compiled knowledge from speaking with local BMW race car builders and the odd magazine. I don't hate the E36, it just a lot of repair issues, and wasn't as "over-engineered" (not my words) as previous BMW's.
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  #21  
Old 06-03-2003, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by JonW
Is that a safe car for the track, given that there is no solid roof?
With a proper roll cage, yes. HOWEVER, many schools (such as NCC BMWCCA) forbid convertibles.
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  #22  
Old 06-03-2003, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by JonW
Is that a safe car for the track, given that there is no solid roof?
Roll cage.
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  #23  
Old 06-04-2003, 06:33 AM
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Track Car: Late E30 or Early E36? 2 doors or 4?

Quote:
Originally posted by Mystikal
I don't hate the E36, it just a lot of repair issues, and wasn't as "over-engineered" (not my words) as previous BMW's.
So you're not trying to convince yourself that the E30 was a better buy?

FWIW I would go for the E30 too
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  #24  
Old 06-04-2003, 03:36 PM
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Track Car: Late E30 or Early E36? 2 doors or 4?

Quote:
Originally posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
Hmm. I'll say that my early E36 was great. The only issue it ever had was the recall to bolt the steering column down.

*looking around patiently for an '87-'89 325is*

I agree with Nick( on the years he's chosen) I miss my '88 325is, I've been thinking of getting another one.
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