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      11-20-2020, 09:15 AM   #1
Bewstd
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Thinking about building an E36 or E46 champ car

I'm thinking about building a champ car (endurance racing) - something that I can take to track days and enjoy without fear of destroying my M2. I've been looking around and I'm thinking about snagging a cheap E46 330i Coupe or cheap E36 325i/328i Coupe/Sedan. anyone use these platforms for endurance racing?

Luckily I have some highly skilled people who would be on my team so fab and mechanical work is no issue. One of the members has tube benders and a plasma table so we can get wild with it.
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      11-23-2020, 12:02 PM   #2
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Spec E46 has a ton of support and momentum to go with it. Plenty of cheap donor cars to be found or partial builds (save $$) - you'll want to find a 330 coupe/sedan. The E36 is showing its age somewhat and I am not sure if parts, etc. are as easy to find and cheap as the E46.

Check out the rules of the series you intend to run with and do your homework on the 5 vs 6 speed (5 is lighter, 6 is more stout - maybe...). You'll want to address the cage, chassis and diff reinforcements first obviously.

I was moments away from buying a 330i coupe donor and ultimately shifted towards a Miata platform after tallying up the expected costs.
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      11-24-2020, 10:54 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by 86Zed View Post
Spec E46 has a ton of support and momentum to go with it. Plenty of cheap donor cars to be found or partial builds (save $$) - you'll want to find a 330 coupe/sedan. The E36 is showing its age somewhat and I am not sure if parts, etc. are as easy to find and cheap as the E46.

Check out the rules of the series you intend to run with and do your homework on the 5 vs 6 speed (5 is lighter, 6 is more stout - maybe...). You'll want to address the cage, chassis and diff reinforcements first obviously.

I was moments away from buying a 330i coupe donor and ultimately shifted towards a Miata platform after tallying up the expected costs.
I have a few people wanting to go down this rabbit hole, and luckily one guy was a forumla Drift driver at one point so we can build anything.
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      11-25-2020, 01:47 PM   #4
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I'd go E46, but 86Zed brings up a good point. Miata is very popular for a good reason and you would save a good amount of $. Do you track your M2 though? I track my F80 and that's enough for me to scratch that itch, but I'm feeling that want to go fully built after 2 years of tracking.
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      11-25-2020, 02:07 PM   #5
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Ahh so you want to build something first and track something second. You can easily buy full Miata or similar level track setups from people getting out of the sport. You just need to be on the right forums and have a little patience. It saves a lot of money. But again, it feels like you're more interested in building something first and tracking something second.
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      11-26-2020, 07:55 AM   #6
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I'd go E46, but 86Zed brings up a good point. Miata is very popular for a good reason and you would save a good amount of $. Do you track your M2 though? I track my F80 and that's enough for me to scratch that itch, but I'm feeling that want to go fully built after 2 years of tracking.
I do like tracking the M2 but I know myself and i'm going to push the car very hard and it's my daily. I already have a truck and trailer so why not build something
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      11-26-2020, 09:08 AM   #7
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I do like tracking the M2 but I know myself and i'm going to push the car very hard and it's my daily. I already have a truck and trailer so why not build something
Your in my head man! I track my M2 in NASA TT3/4 plus a ton of HPDE...heading to Road Atlanta this weekend. I have been racing in Chump/Champ for years driving an e30 and several Miatas. Next month racing Champ at Barber in NA Miata. So I thought for 2021 I would build a new car for Champ based on the most recent rules. It looks like the e46 is one of the latest cars of choice. You may want to avoid the 330 because itís over 500 points with penalty laps. The Gen 1 Boxster is also tearing things up at Champ...4 of them at Barber. The NA/NB Miatas are dirt cheap to run and a lot of fun. The NC cars are now legal and they are also competitive. You should go to the Barber race and talk to several teams and look at the builds....everyone is very willing to share information with you. Good luck.
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      11-26-2020, 10:17 PM   #8
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I’ve been tracking my E36 since 1999. Most parts are readily available either from BMW or aftermarket, but some items like brake booster, ABS unit are only available as rebuilt parts now. Quality TBD. Miata will always win the cost argument, but the E36 makes a solid platform to build. I bought a ZL1 1LE to replace it, but it’s only marginally faster than my M3 and costs a lot more to operate, so it’s on the market now.

PS, I’ll be at Road Atlanta this weekend too. Red M3 #27. Stop by Twt. I’d like to chat about your M2.
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      11-27-2020, 08:16 AM   #9
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Iíve been tracking my E36 since 1999. Most parts are readily available either from BMW or aftermarket, but some items like brake booster, ABS unit are only available as rebuilt parts now. Quality TBD. Miata will always win the cost argument, but the E36 makes a solid platform to build. I bought a ZL1 1LE to replace it, but itís only marginally faster than my M3 and costs a lot more to operate, so itís on the market now.

PS, Iíll be at Road Atlanta this weekend too. Red M3 #27. Stop by Twt. Iíd like to chat about your M2.
I will be at the Corsa Crew trailer putting on my tires in the morning...white #2. Tom
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      11-27-2020, 12:26 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by m3bs View Post
I've been tracking my E36 since 1999. Most parts are readily available either from BMW or aftermarket, but some items like brake booster, ABS unit are only available as rebuilt parts now. Quality TBD. Miata will always win the cost argument, but the E36 makes a solid platform to build. I bought a ZL1 1LE to replace it, but it's only marginally faster than my M3 and costs a lot more to operate, so it's on the market now.

PS, I'll be at Road Atlanta this weekend too. Red M3 #27. Stop by Twt. I'd like to chat about your M2.
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PS, I'll be at Road Atlanta this weekend too. Red M3 #27. Stop by Twt. I'd like to chat about your M2.

The Miata isn't even on my radar right now to be honest lol. Just want something I don't have to put track insurance on every weekend.


Wish I could run down and check out the E36 and show you the M2.
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      11-27-2020, 02:58 PM   #11
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You should totally do it. Low buck racing is an absolute blast, I compete in lemons with a POS Pontiac and even that is hugely fun. Champ car is more serious but they’re still very interested in keeping costs down which is great. I’d bet good money that you’d have more fun wheel to wheel racing a slower car than driving a faster car on a track with strict rules and the worry that if you wreck, you’re paying a pretty penny.
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      11-28-2020, 05:52 PM   #12
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You should totally do it. Low buck racing is an absolute blast, I compete in lemons with a POS Pontiac and even that is hugely fun. Champ car is more serious but theyíre still very interested in keeping costs down which is great. Iíd bet good money that youíd have more fun wheel to wheel racing a slower car than driving a faster car on a track with strict rules and the worry that if you wreck, youíre paying a pretty penny.
my thoughts! Why i won't actually tune the M2 because I want to get good as possible with stock HP. Focusing on grip and chassis etc.


at Barber Motorsports park i've seen well built Aero E36's keep up with GT3's, but thats a tight track with only a couple of spots for higher HP dominating
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      11-29-2020, 03:21 PM   #13
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my thoughts! Why i won't actually tune the M2 because I want to get good as possible with stock HP. Focusing on grip and chassis etc.


at Barber Motorsports park i've seen well built Aero E36's keep up with GT3's, but thats a tight track with only a couple of spots for higher HP dominating
Yup, i have no plans to ever track the M2. Don't get me wrong, driving a fast street car to its limits is still super fun, but there really isn't much in this world that can compete with the sheer thrill of honest to goodness wheel to wheel racing. It doesn't matter if your car is slow or even if you finish near the back of the pack. If you find yourself another similarly fast car with a good driver and have a full on battle with them on the track, you'll both be grinning ear to ear for the next several days no matter who ended up getting the last word.

I doubt there's anyone on this forum who didn't dream of growing up and being a race car driver. Real life didn't work out like that for the vast majority of us, but out on the track, in a low buck racecar, you sure as hell feel like it might have.
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      12-10-2020, 10:12 AM   #14
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Yup, i have no plans to ever track the M2. Don't get me wrong, driving a fast street car to its limits is still super fun, but there really isn't much in this world that can compete with the sheer thrill of honest to goodness wheel to wheel racing. It doesn't matter if your car is slow or even if you finish near the back of the pack. If you find yourself another similarly fast car with a good driver and have a full on battle with them on the track, you'll both be grinning ear to ear for the next several days no matter who ended up getting the last word.

I doubt there's anyone on this forum who didn't dream of growing up and being a race car driver. Real life didn't work out like that for the vast majority of us, but out on the track, in a low buck racecar, you sure as hell feel like it might have.
IDK dude, there are peeps on here more concerned with carbon fiber key covers and rolling shots to drive their car hard
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      12-10-2020, 10:16 AM   #15
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IDK dude, there are peeps on here more concerned with carbon fiber key covers and rolling shots to drive their car hard
Why not both?

My e46m is full track, no street.
My f82 is full street, HIGHLY doubt it'll see track. Nothing wrong with either IMO.
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      12-11-2020, 06:30 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bewstd View Post
IDK dude, there are peeps on here more concerned with carbon fiber key covers and rolling shots to drive their car hard
Why not both?

My e46m is full track, no street.
My f82 is full street, HIGHLY doubt it'll see track. Nothing wrong with either IMO.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fiveohwblow View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bewstd View Post
IDK dude, there are peeps on here more concerned with carbon fiber key covers and rolling shots to drive their car hard
Why not both?

My e46m is full track, no street.
My f82 is full street, HIGHLY doubt it'll see track. Nothing wrong with either IMO.


Long as that f82 sees some twisty back roads I'm all for that.
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