Since beamers are getting cheaper in the early 90's range, are RWD and available with a 6 cyl, i'm starting to lurk for one for auto-x and solo once in a while.
I've seen quite a few perform well, i'm not worried about the cars potential. I also did quite some reading in the faqs on different BMW forums.
3 things i'm still wondering about.
How much lower does someone sit with an aftermarket seat? Last time I took a E36 for a ride, it had a sunroof and it was quite cramped. No sunroof would surely help but I'll have to fit a helmet in there too I'm 6'4" 240lbs so I need some room.
Since motors are getting cheaper also, I really like the way the 318IT looks, are motor swaps easily done for a 328 motor in there? Or i'm better off shopping for a 325-328 off the bat? Some people told me to stay away from a 318IT but could not give me a "real" reason why other then they dont like it.
Lastly, what should I look for when shopping for one? I'm pretty good mechanicly, did a few swaps in some hondas and nissans but german engeering is new to me... This wont be a daily driver but will be a week-end warrior driven with the intention of having FUN.
You can ajust the ride height.all the way down should fit you fine including helmet. If you wanna compete in the 1.8 litter and under then go for it. If you wanna compete in all areas go for a 325 or 328 or if you go the pocket for it a M3 I suggest a coupe.
My buddy is 6'4" little skinny bastard and he sold his last truck because he didn't fit and is buying one of these now. Also I believe that seats like recaro and sparcos do sit lower. However if you get the power seats the seat can be taken as low if not lower than the sliders.
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Engine swaps are not easy to do with a i4 to a i6. The engine mounts are all in different areas. Of course this can easily be rectified withmoney. The enigne will fit, but due to the much heavier engine, you'll have to redo many of the suspension compnents.
If you are just looking for the power from a 328 in your 4 banger, I'd recomend a supercharger. Of course there are different types to suit your needs, but thats where you need to research what is availible for the 318.
I'm 6'1 and about your weight and I fit very comfortably in the car.
For your other questions, there are some positive to getting the 318ti but also some negatives. The 318ti is the lightest E36 bar none. You can do an M3 swap into it and the thing is fast. However, make sure you know what that will do to your classification. The 318ti also uses the E30 rear end. The suspenion, axles, diiff ect in the rear are all E30. There are some nice ratio's in E30 diffs and would be a direct swap to an E30 325 or M3 rear diff. I am not sure about the compatability between the E30 parts and an E36 M3 engine.
I auto-x a 318i and usually win in H-stock (SCCA), and when I was competeing as a novice was at the top of the novices on PAX. It really just depends on your abilities as a driver. If you can carry speed through corners, find the best lines and have a good feel for when to accelerate ect. then the 318i/ti IMO would be more comptetitive due to the lighter weight (better handling). But I will admit they lack power which turns a lot of people off to them. So if you don't mind a 9-9.5 second 0-60 time with the benifit of better handling the 318i/ti/is might be the better way to go. If you want something with a bit more power that most people find more fun to drive simply because of the extra power not minding the extra weight, the 325i, 328i would be a better choice. A M3 of course would be the best, but most people do not have the money for one. Hope it helps.
If you have the time and effort to do a engine swap then instead buy a 318is have a port and polish followed by an engine balance. Which will keep you at 1.8L but will give you enough HP to equal a 325 but with lighter weight So you get an extra advantage. Add a new chip, muffler, intake, O2 sensor and you should be well over 200HP but your still under the 1.8L mark.
My 318is was used for serious auto crossing. The guy had work done to the engine its at 160HP with need of a O2 sensor real soon. It has lowered springs and high performance shocks. The guy used to put on a body kit and spoiler at race time and change everything brakes and wheels. On the way home he put all the OEM stuff back on. When he sold the car he removed ALL the upgrades(exhuast, intake, chip, short shifter, ect; except the engine(cant be reversed) and the spring/ shocks. He then sold the car to a friend of mine and sold the other parts to either fellow auto cross people or ebay.
Swaping from a 318i/is to a M3 would not be worth the money. The rear subframe, driveshaft, front suspension, and diff are all different and would have to be changed. Like I said, before, it would be worth doin gon a 318ti because of the reduced weight, it would be faster than a M3 and handle better with the right suspension parts.
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