Ade’s BMW 323i E36/4

Ade’s BMW 323i E36/4

My E36 has been getting tons of use as ever, equal to that of my alleged ‘daily’ E34. It’s typically very reliable, but there was a recent hiccup, that being a burst CV joint while hundreds of miles from home in Birmingham. A known weak spot to most owners, and yes, I have exacerbated the issue of course with a Ade’s E36 323i welded diff, lots of lowering and some harsh drift action! One upside of a locked diff, though, is that you don’t lose all drive when a CV joint fails, so you can stay mobile. Yes, it is utterly horrible, causes lurching about, and seriously not advised, but you’re not a sitting duck like you would be with an open diff!

On asking around for a replacement shaft, I found a whole back end available from a 325i. Still a medium case and the slightly shorter ratio from the older model is a nice, subtle upgrade for acceleration without badly affecting top-end cruising.

The 323i has a 2.93:1 ratio, but this replacement setup is 3.15:1. Not a dramatic difference, but in practice feels like adding 10hp (so says my utterly unscientific backside-dyno). I managed to gently nurse the E36 back up north, via collecting a lot of heavy parts loaded up in the boot and headed straight to NHP Motorsport for the diff to be welded, replacement shaft fitted, also thicker shaft spacers as well to decrease the strain on the CV joints. During the brief hiatus from the road, I had sourced a bargain set of staggered Style 32 18” alloys. These are eight and 8.5” but with a very high offset, so some chunky spacers and extended bolts were put into action to get the stance sorted.

Calculating the fitment showed that these are a tiny fraction narrower than the previous Style 66s and with a slightly larger rolling radius, even with super-slim 215/35 tyres. Not a problem, though, as less arch gap and slightly higher ground clearance let the E36 breathe a sigh of relief. These may not be a permanent fixture on the car, but I like the BTCC-inspired look, and a spare set of wheels lets me get the 17s refurbed at my leisure! The E36 was, once again, thrown back into the chaos of the drift scene. Well, twice, actually; one visit to Driftland and another to Crail in the northeast of Fife. Crail’s ‘8val’ was the first place I properly attended drift days almost 15 years ago, and I still love the simple little track, which although rough and ready, allows upwards of 70mph sideways speeds through the central figure-eight crossover. Lately, the venue has had to wet the track to dampen tyre squeal due to overzealous complaining residents, but this is still preferable to losing such a fun track. Next up is a track of quite another league, the Nürburgring! Time to get the car ready for that…

325i back end collected and ready to fit; the E36 ready to get sideways on track. Plenty of fun at Crail with the E36

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