If you follow us on social media, you know that we recently acquired a 2001 BMW 330i sedan. The car has already gone through some major transformation in the last couple of weeks. We're not sure where this car's origins are from exactly (it probably spent most of its life driving people to and from work, or the mall).
But now that it's in our capable hands, we plan on turning it into a proper NASA Spec E46 (SE46) race car. We may also consider doing some endurance racing with it too. So, what does that mean? Some serious planning, lots of hard work, and progressive testing throughout the transformation process.
Phase 1: Gutting the car
We gutted the car and removed all of the interior, HVAC parts, and sound deadening; leaving just the seats and dash. We also did some basic maintenance since the car had been sitting for a while.
Phase 2: First shakedown at Laguna Seca
After shedding over 300 lbs of weight, we took the car to Laguna Seca and entered Bimmer Challenge with Speed Ventures just for fun.
The car was driven by Graham Downey, Tom Tang, Gabby Buendia, and our very own Jon Vo. It did well and won 1st place in B5 class, with Graham's winning time of 1:47. Not bad, considering the car was on old Hankook RS3 street tires and an open diff.
Phase 3: Building the SE46 roll-cage
As soon as we got back from Laguna Seca, we got back to...more work! We removed the windshield to make room for a proper roll-cage build. The cage adds value in two ways. First, it's critical for safety and required by the sanctioning body. And second, it increases the rigidity of the chassis and thus improves handling.
Next, we removed all the unnecessary wiring from the DSC (stability control), EWS (immobilizer), SRS (airbags), and door harnesses.
Now the really fun part could begin...fabricating the cage.
We also added a battery kill switch, an OMP suede steering wheel with quick release, Schroth 6 point harnesses, an Epic Motorsports tuned ECU (required for SE46), an AiM SmartyCam HD 2.0, and an AiM Solo2 DL.
Phase 4: More testing at Auto Club Speedway during "OnGrid For Charity"
Labor Day Weekend - the crew headed down to Fontana, CA to do more testing after the roll-cage was completed. OnGrid had their first annual OnGrid for Charity event at Auto Club Speedway and it was fun!
Peace out! Me (Victoria) about to go out for some hot laps with our driver, Tom Tang.
Our "margaritas!" faces on Saturday.
Comparing the AiM data, Tom shows Jon where he can brake later, carry more speed into corners, and get on the throttle sooner. The simple recipe for better lap times.
TS Technician, Grace, gets a ride along with Jon. Her S2K build is coming along, so watch for her to be out on track soon!
The car did well and everyone got plenty of seat time in the soon-to-be Spec E46 car. It ran 3 consecutive run groups all day long on Saturday and half a day on Sunday with no issues. We're excited to see the car's full potential in SE46 trim! Keep in mind, it is still missing E36 M3 headers, the spec Bimmerworld exhaust, MCS single adjustable spec dampers, Hyperco springs, a fire system, center and window nets, a 3.46 LSD rear end, and spec Toyo RR tires.
Given what we saw in terms of performance and lap times with the car in its current state, we remain very optimistic about it's potential.
Check back soon for Phase 5: even more race car conversion things!