205hp modified 1998 BMW 328i Coupe E36/2

205hp modified 1998 BMW 328i Coupe E36/2

There are different ways to keep the memory of a beloved deceased person alive. In this case, it is Nils Höltmann from Castrop-Rauxel's 1998 E36 328i that keeps the memory of his best friend Hikmet, who succumbed to cancer, alive.

A Monument Set

Hikmet acquired the E36 in 2012 for the used car dealership operated by him and his family in Bochum, where Nils worked after school. Prior to that, the BMW had been driven by the managing director of a carpentry business in Bochum for twelve years.

205hp modified 1998 BMW 328i Coupe E36/2

Hikmet liked the E36, which he purchased for 800 euros, so much that he kept it and prepared it for the TÜV inspection. Until 2015, Hikmet, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, used the BMW as his daily driver. Nils visited Hikmet, who had long become his best friend, in the hospital until his last day, accompanying him through the difficult times.

205hp modified 1998 BMW 328i Coupe E36/2

Hikmet's wish was for the E36, which his brother had placed in one of Nils' garages, to return to the road. «My task was clear: The E36 should shine again as it did when it left the factory in 1998,» says Nils, adding that after the BMW had been standing for a year, he enlisted the help of A.H Car Service from Dortmund to take care of the initial necessary tasks to create a monument for Hikmet. Minor welding work was done, electrical faults were fixed, and a major inspection was carried out. «It was important to me that the E36 goes to capable hands for repairs, and I was present for all the work,» explains Nils.

After Hikmet's death, his family returned to their home country, where he was buried on a mountain in Istanbul. Nils took care of the remaining car dealership, and he set a goal of driving the E36 to the cemetery. He wanted his best friend to be close to the BMW once again. Nils decided that the E36 should be restored in Turkey by Hikmet's brother, who is a certified automotive mechanic. The engine was completely overhauled, received new pistons, and much more. All the rust was removed, the panels were welded, and the paint was completely renewed, making the coupe shine again like on its first day. Before and after the work, the BMW was parked at the cemetery, close to Hikmet.

When the car returned to Germany in 2018, Nils tackled the interior. The E36 originally came with the rarely ordered M-package. The front axle and the differential were also overhauled or replaced. Additionally, the BMW received a small spoiler for the trunk lid and polished BBS «RC090» wheels in 8 x 17 inches, which are suitable for the model year. The well-preserved original wheels, which are now traded at exorbitant prices, were fitted with Hankook Ventus tires in 205/45-17 and 215/45-17. The previous owner had already installed 60/40 H&R springs and had them approved.

Nils then worked with a well-known E36 expert in the scene to take care of several extras that were not originally ordered with the vehicle. The BMW received a multifunction steering wheel with telephone integration and cruise control. Furthermore, an original Business CD radio, which is on par with a modern sound system, was installed to replace the previously retrofitted HK sound system. In the trunk, an original BMW telephone with a computer found its place. Finding components from rarely chosen equipment options was anything but easy. The whole conversion process took several weekends, during which all seats and carpets were removed, and everything was rewired. It is worth mentioning that the BMW also received an ultrasonic-based electronic parking aid (PDC), which is very rare for the E36. Nils found the rare E36 birchwood interior at Clubsport Automobile in Bochum after a long search. It immediately catches the eye. Additionally, the BMW received a large onboard computer with steering wheel control. As a tribute to the 21st century, Nils had a USB port from the E90 installed, which also functions. «It was important to me that every button in the car has a function. Many people just add buttons to make it look like something,» explains Nils. Finally, the E36 received well-preserved leather sports seats, which are electrically adjustable for the driver and even the passenger. As for wear parts, Nils always chooses components of original equipment quality. As part of the maintenance, the original five-speed manual transmission was replaced in 2019 with another one that had only been used for 50,000 kilometers.

The E36 is meticulously maintained, just as the first owner did. Nils continues this tradition. All the modifications and registrations now fill a complete folder, with all the modifications actually registered! In this context, Nils also mentions that his E36 was originally equipped with a 2-liter engine, and he had the engine upgraded to a 328i in close collaboration with the TÜV. «All 328i parts, from the control unit to the drive shafts, brakes, differential, and much more, are properly registered,» assures the BMW enthusiast.

In 2020, Nils tried to reach the former owner of the vehicle over several months. He wanted to show him what had become of the E36. Eventually, he succeeded. The previous owner had assumed that the BMW had been exported to Africa. «He was very happy about our meeting. Of course, he was allowed to drive his old E36 again. Many memories came flooding back,» Nils reports. Currently, he only drives the BMW about 1,500 kilometers per year, mostly to meetings and events. It is important to him that the E36 remains something special and doesn't become a daily driver. «Every time I get in, old memories of my deceased best friend come back,» says Nils. Someday, he will probably drive the BMW to Istanbul again to present the final result of all the conversion and rebuilding work in front of the cemetery...

Text: Michael Stein

Photos: Frank Schwichtenberg

NH NH — Nils Höltmann registered the E36 in Sonneberg for a single day, doubling his initials on the license plate, and then again in Castrop-Rauxel, North Rhine-Westphalia.

All maintenance intervals are meticulously observed.

Even the first owner had lowered the E36 using registered H&R springs, 60mm at the front and 40mm at the rear.

The multifunction steering wheel comes from an E39. Nils searched for a long time for the E36 birchwood interior. The telephone is original from BMW.

The original Business CD radio is on par with a modern sound system. There is also a functioning USB connection.

FEATURE FACTS 1998 BMW 328i Coupe E36/2

  • Engine: M52-B28 inline-six cylinder 328i, 2793 cc, 193 hp at 5300 rpm from the factory (currently 205 hp with software adjustment), 280 Nm at 3950 rpm (stock), Eisenmann exhaust system after the catalytic converter
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual
  • Suspension: Stock with H&R springs (60/40)
  • Brakes: Disc brakes (original 328i)
  • Wheels: Original BBS «RC090» in 8J × 17 inches
  • Tires: Hankook «Ventus» in 205/45-17 (front) and 215/45-17 (rear)
  • Body: Two-door coupe, steel sliding roof, M-package, front lip and rear spoiler retrofitted, pre-facelift lens headlights, ultrasonic-based electronic parking aid (PDC)
  • Interior: E36 birchwood interior, E39 multifunction steering wheel, original electric leather sports seats (adjustable for driver and passenger), seat heating, cruise control, original Business CD radio, large onboard computer with steering wheel control, original BMW telephone, Bluetooth, USB

All maintenance intervals are meticulously observed.

The extensively equipped E36 also features a steel sliding roof. The 2-liter inline-six engine has been upgraded to a 328i. An Eisenmann exhaust system is installed after the catalytic converter.

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