The “Safari” trend of turning seemingly normal sedans and coupes into rugged off-road machines seem to really be catching on. Personally, I love it. Call me a hypocrite for liking Safari cars but hated lifted wagons like the Audi Allroad but I stand by my feelings. There’s just something so delightfully incongruous about taking a seemingly reasonable everyday car and turning it into a genuinely capable off-roader. Combine that with my love for the E36 3 Series and I’m starting to think dangerous thoughts.
You might be thinking that making an E36 3 Series Safari car is madness. That’s because it is. The E36 3 Series is a compact, lightweight (at least it’s considered lightweight nowadays), rear-wheel drive sport sedan. It has no business being an off-roader. Which is exactly why it’s also genius.
This wonderful madman who’s currently selling his lifted 1993 BMW 318i seemed to think so as well. This E36 3 Series looks like it’s seen better days and it’s by no means ready to be a daily driver, so don’t think about pulling a Matt Farah and getting this Safari car as your daily. It’s a rust-bucket and is very clearly meant to be a silly toy, as mentioned in the ad.
However, it’s an awesome toy. It still has its 1.9 liter four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive. Though, it’s differential has been upgraded to a 3.45 limited-slip diff to help it “off-road”. To lift it, it’s been given strut spacers at the front, which are actually just end caps to a strut brace, and adjustable spring perches at the back.
As for wheels and tires, it has a set of 16-inch wheels with BFGoodrich K02 tires. The latter of which are some of the best all-terrain tires on the planet, so it’s pretty cool to see them on an E36 3 Series. Even if its fenders had to be cut and rolled for them to fit.
This car is awesome. And while I wouldn’t want this specific car, because of its immense rust and having had an E36 myself and knowing how annoying that rust can be, I do now want to Safari an E36 3 Series. I’d also rather do it to a coupe, as I think it would look better. The beauty of it all is that E36 3ers are so cheap nowadays, you can get away with buying a very used one and doing all of this work for just a few thousand dollars in total. For instance, this specific car is currently for sale for $2,300. For a stupid-fun project car, that’s cheap and would certainly be worth the work.