Real race cars have wings!

My two young sons recently informed me that in order for a car to be a “race car” it needs to have a rear wing. Apparently fast run times at events don’t matter to six year olds. I guess that’s not too surprising and rear wings do naturally make cars more cool, so on to another project! I could probably throw in a few other things as well…

In this post I’ll discuss the following recently performed upgrades:

  • Clear front corner light lenses
  • European style rear light lenses
  • Rear wing
  • M3 style lightweight side mirrors
  • Front strut tower brace

 

On my way to the first practice this year I had a front corner light lens fall out while driving to the event. Somehow the bracket had failed on the corner lens. They simply pop in and don’t seem to be very securely installed. A bit of a strange design from BMW.

A quick look on eBay and I saw numerous choices for the front lenses. The picture above shows the old lens on the left and the new lens on the right.

I also noticed that there were numerous rear light lenses available on eBay. My stock ones weren’t sealing so well anymore so I decided to upgrade those to the European style (no yellow lenses). Simply changing to yellow bulbs for both and the upgrade was complete.

In the effort for further wait reduction, and better aesthetics, I saw that another simple swap was side view mirrors. Removing the stock units was as simple as snapping off an interior panel and removing three bolts.

You can see in the pictures above that the stock mirrors weigh 1 lb 12.0 ounces and the replacement M3 style units (plastic) weigh 1 lb 2.3 ounces each. That’s a pretty decent weight savings for a couple mirrors that look better and only cost about $30 for the pair.

 

Rear wing

I found a suitably large rear wing assembly on eBay from a guy actually located in Bulgaria. He had great reviews and the price was pretty attractive so I figured why not? It came in 4 pieces consisting of a base plate, two risers and the top wing. It’s modeled after a BMW E36 M3 Lightweight (LTW) rear wing.

The rear wing assembly actually arrived in just about 3 weeks which I thought was pretty impressive as it was made to order and came from Eastern Europe! The construction was pretty good and the finish was smooth enough that I decided to not even paint it.

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The base plate fit really well and was tight across most of the surface of the trunk lid.

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The first step was to position the base plate exactly in the middle of the trunk lid, secure it in place, and then drill the four mounting holes. I chose a drill bit that was perfectly centered in the pre-drilled holes in the fiberglass base plate. It was also the same size of the mounting bolts. Drilling the holes was pretty quick but a little nerve wracking.

Wing mount

The holes are in a really great place next to a seam in the trunk. If they were moved just slightly to the left or right then there would be real issues. The base plate was really well designed to allow for easy mounting.

I placed a bead of gasket sealant around each hole to keep water out of the area. With the screws tightened, the base plate was fully installed on the trunk.

I then mounted the risers on the upper wing and lowered the entire assembly onto the base plate. After a tedious amount of screw tightening with an allen wrench, the rear wing was successfully secured in place.

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In the quest for the tightest suspension and least amount of chassis compliance, I decided to add a strut tower brace. This is basically just an aluminum tube that ties together the top of the car across the span of the engine bay. Megan Racing makes a very well designed unit that’s competitively priced. Super easy install by only removing six nuts, installing the bar on the strut bolts, and then reinstalling the nuts.

I think the car’s looking pretty sweet now!

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The first event is just around the corner. Now that my E36 is looking the part, let’s see if the “go” will match the “show”.

Stay tuned!

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