To say this BMW 3 Series has been modified would be quite an understatement since you can barely identify the car as an E36. What is? The project started out with a neglected 325i saved from a scrapyard and transformed into the ultimate drift machine. You can count the surviving body panels on the fingers of a single hand as the owner stripped it down to the essentials. It now looks more along the lines of an oversized buggy with an external roll cage.

Top Gear magazine went to Detroit to chat with Carl Balzer about his radical take on a third-generation 3 Series manufactured in 1995. It has lost the original inline-six M50 engine to make room for an LS with a pair of turbochargers strapped on for good measure. While the stock 325i made less than 200 horsepower from the factory back in the day, this E36 now pushes out a colossal 1,200 hp while somehow remaining perfectly street-legal.

The OEM transmission also had to be removed and replaced with a Tremec T56 Magnum gearbox while the differential comes from an old M5. Carl’s ludicrous go-kart has an NHRA-certified roll cage, and while his original goal was to have a fun street car, it was gradually transformed into a drag car before taking its final form – a drift car.

Top Gear’s Rob Dahm took the unconventional E36 to Flat Rock Speedway and it didn’t take too long before the car broke down. Due to the sheer amount of torque generated by the engine, the twin-turbo LS obliterated the brace holding the differential. Mind you, the diff itself was still working, so they strapped it back onto the car and turned the 325i into a veritable smoke machine.

Purists might raise their eyebrows looking at this heavily modified 3 Series and what it has become, but without Carl Balzer, it likely would’ve ended up in a crusher. It’s still putting a smile on the owner’s face and all the people who are given the opportunity to drive it, which is all that really matters at the end of the day.

Source: Top Gear / YouTube