Now that I’ve run the BMW E36 at the first event, I thought it would be good to address some viewer questions and comments that I’ve received so far.
First, I apparently need to clear something up that I didn’t think even needed to be addressed. I’m not autocrossing the BMW Formula 1 car seen behind me in the homepage picture! I wish that was the case but, unfortunately, that was Ralph Schumacher’s car (chassis FW22-02) from the 2000 Formula 1 season where he put it on the podium three times:
Also very unfortunate is that my E36 doesn’t have the BMW E41/4 V10 engine from Ralph’s F1 car that produced 810 horsepower at 17,500 rpm. However, the 2.5 liter straight six (developing around 190 horsepower) in my BMW E36 is powerful enough to propel my car to a measured 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds (another viewer question).
Another question that I received was why I didn’t change the differential ratio when I installed the LSD unit? The chart above shows the different gear ratios available on the various BMW E36 models over the years. My LSD differential came from an “M3 3.0” which has a 3.15:1 ratio, which is the same as my “325i” originally came with. I could’ve easily used an “M3 3.2” with a 3.23:1 ratio as well.
I chose to stick with the same 3.15:1 ratio because, in autocross, I think it’s advantageous in a manual car to not have to shift into 3rd gear and just be able to run the full course in 2nd gear. You can see in my videos that I only need to shift one time, from 1st gear into 2nd gear right at the start. My E36 can hit just over 60 mph in 2nd gear at redline. That addresses another viewer question, normal max speed on an autocross course.
My current alignment specs are the following (another question):
- Camber = -3.5 degrees
- Caster = 5 degrees
- Toe In = 0.00 degrees
- Camber = -2.5 degrees
- Toe In = 0.10 degrees
Now that I have the car working pretty good (from what I can tell so far), it’s time to work on the aesthetics a bit. This is not related to a viewer question but something I need to address nonetheless.
First up was removing the rear “325 is” badge from the car. Race cars don’t have factory badges! After YouTubing the badge removal process, I got out my heat gun and began heating up the badge evenly. I then used a piece of fishing line to cut the badge off the car. Pretty easy but there was some adhesive mess left behind.
I needed to use something to rub the major adhesive off of the car. It had to be soft enough to not scratch the paint but hard enough to get the stuff off. I tried a few plastic tools (including the orange level seen in the picture above) but the carpenter pencil end seemed to work the best. After the majority of the adhesive was removed, I used some TurtleWax Bug & Tar Remover solvent to get rid of the rest. I was concerned that the paint may look different under the badge area since it hadn’t been exposed to the elements for 20+ years but I can’t see a thing different. Paint colors other than white may have different results though.
Another area that was bothering me was some rust on the trim. After examining the rust, it became clear that I was going to have to strip off all the peeling paint from the entire trim piece. It looked like this was going to take a fair amount of prep work.
After I peeled all the old trim pain off, I proceeded with sanding the rust and then taping off the trim so that I didn’t get paint anywhere else on the car. The painting went well and you’ll be able to see the finished results in a future blog post.
Another question that I got was in regards to what I take with me to an autocross event (tools, spare parts, etc).
Here’s the list of what I keep in my large, red, waterproof tub at the event:
- Lug nut removal tool
- Large socket wrench
- BMW jack
- Jack stands
- Wheel chocks
- Air pump
- Crescent wrench
- Screw driver multi bit tool
- Engine accessory belt
- Zip ties
- Duct tape
- Rain gear
- Waterproof blanket
- Bottled water
Here’s what I keep in the car (so I have access to it between runs):
- Koni shock adjuster knob
- Tire air gauge
- Bottled water
- Jumper cables
- Microfiber towel
The next update should hopefully be full of pictures of the car in its new racing guise. As everyone knows, stickers make you faster!