Catch My Drift Presents: THE LITTLE E36 THAT COULD
Car: 1997 BMW 328i
My earliest memory of racing is watching tractor pulling on a fuzzy TV station while on a vacation in Rhode Island with my family when I was 4. I remember sitting in our rental house in awe of these crazy wheeled machines dragging things down a mud track, of course not understanding a bit of what I was watching. I tried to find it on TV when I got home (I think, the early years are a lil’ fuzzy) but was disappointed because I couldn’t. (Who would a thought that Tractor Pulling wasn’t a national phenomena).
My next interaction with racing, and what really got me into it was my introduction to stock car racing (We’ll call it MASCAR to save our lawyers some work). I’m not sure of the reason, but I attached myself to the Jeff Gordon Bandwagon. Hearing the roar of the engines and watching the cars speed, and sometimes crash, past the barrier cameras infatuated me, and I wanted more.
Unfortunately, I was born into the wrong family. My father is a master craftsman. He has been building, fixing and doing custom renovations on houses since he was 15. He can build, engineer and create anything...with wood. Regrettably, that talent doesn’t translate over to motor toys. I never had a project car in the garage, never had a motorcycle to tinker on, never even had as much as a riding mower to take apart and put back together. Hell, the tools to do so didn’t even exist in my house. (and still don’t, really. Makes working on my car incredibly difficult). My grandfather was into kart racing and car stuff, but he passed away when I was 7, so I never was able to glean knowledge from him.
So I was on my own. I walked the line that most kids walk. I started in car audio, throwing subs in the back of my first 3 cars. I also dabbled in street racing. Not at any dangerous speed, though, as I was driving a Saturn and a Volkswagen. My Honda got me my 1st speeding ticket, and it was a doozy. Wrote off speed at that point. Too expensive, not worth it. A few years and a few motorcycles went by, but I still had an itch for a project car, but it wasn’t until late 2016 that I realized what I wanted to pursue.
I wanted a 240.
I mean, I wanted to drift, but I guess those are synonymous with each other.
Unfortunately, 240s come with 240 problems, and as I learned, I REALLY don’t want 240 problems. (Hole in the floor pan, frame rails that were absolutely not safe, but were “not the worst” the next owner saw, all of which were the least of my worries. This 240 was shady).
The 240 was a stepping stone, however. I traded one of my motorcycles [insert pic of bobber] for it, then was able to turn around and sell the car and buy my current car, a 97 328i.
I had seen this car in action in January and February of 2017, driven by fellow Dumpedling’s driver Tim (we affectionately call him Yakuza Onramp for his desire to constantly slide highway entrances and exits), so I knew it had great potential. So when Tim decided he wanted to sell it and buy an E36 M3, I jumped at the chance of owning a turnkey, reliable drift car.
A little background on my experience with vehicles. I have owned 10 cars and 5 motorcycles at the ripe old age of 22, and I’m shooting for 30 by 30. I can always see potential in a project, but I don’t always have the skills or know-how to help the project realize its full potential, and I end up selling. I also get very discouraged and over a project when it leaves me stranded or no-starts on me for no easily apparent reason. It has happened with 3 of my 5 motorcycles and just about every project car up to the BMW. It will no-start once, I’ll “fix” what I think the issue is, and it will do it again and I will just throw it up for sale and get rid of it the same day. This is why I jumped on the E36 so excitedly.
I started my relationship with the car by just driving it around for a week, learning its quirks. City driving, highway driving, even a 5 hour trip. The car was flawless (in my twisted mind anyway). I was now ready to mod.
I have now owned the car for approximately a month.
It already had Koni shocks up front, an LSD and steering rack spacers, so it was a good project to build on. I got an open differential from Tim and welded it and bought a race seat and a set of harnesses.
I have installed the welded differential and began to slide around a little bit, feeling the car out. I work a crazy schedule at work, so I haven’t really been able to do much learning so far, but I am getting more comfortable as each day passes. I have yet to install the seat, and I have a set of tires I have to burn off so I can throw some race slicks on the front that Yakuza Onramp randomly came into possession of.
One of the questions that interests me the most is “What do you do when you’re not drifting?”, so you will see this pop up in most of the interviews I do with other drivers. For me, I work for a high volume Mortuary Transport Company and Crematory. Yes, they are dead. No, they have never sat up. No, it’s not weird. When I’m not doing that, I play bass and piano in a rock band. Music comes naturally to me, so you would think I would pursue that instead of cars, of which I know nothing about, but hey. I never claimed to be smart.
My future plans are to intake swap with some other BMW (no idea what. I don't know all the BMW jargon yet) to get more high-end torque. I am also planning to make a body kit and paint it some random color. (apparently S chassis aftermarket front and rear bumpers can be made into a kit?..again BMW jargon)
After that? Who knows. I might slide it, might sell it, might keep it and buy something else. I am really in love with the RX7 FC, so if you know of anyone giving one away, give me a shout.