As frustrating as the E36 M3 can be, from a reliability standpoint, there’s so much to love about it. For one, its looks. The E36 M3 Coupe has wonderfully simple, squared-off edges, a slightly boxy design, and near-perfect proportions. Its interior is also wonderfully simple and ergonomic (even if it does feel like it’s made of cardboard). It’s also a blast to drive. However, its engine was underpowered in the U.S. and it was woefully unreliable. So this owner had their E36 M3 completely restored and given an engine upgrade, making it a near-perfect M3.
In this new video from Photographer Larry Chen, we get to check out this from-the-ground-up E36 M3 build and I’m now searching for E36 M3 classifieds.
The build was done by PSI (Precision Sport Industries) and it started out as an old, ratty E36 that was used on a farm. It was bought for cheap and then completely stripped out and torn down to bare metal. Then it was painted in Gulf Blue, which is a Porsche color that I’m now obsessed with, and done exactly as it’s done from the factory. After that, all of its exterior and interior rubber, plastic, and trim bits were replaced with new parts, making it look like it rolled off the showroom floor. It also sits on M double-spoke wheels, which are my favorite E36 M3 wheels.
Inside, it has a roll cage, fantastic Recaro seats, and a Sparco steering wheel, which make it look both comfy and fun. Also, any part upgrades in the E36 M3 interior are welcome, as its stock interior is, let me try and say this politely… garbage.
However, the biggest upgrade comes under the hood. The stock S52 engine was thrown out and replaced with a completely rebuilt S54 engine, the 3.2-liter naturally aspirated inline-six from the E46 M3. The stock E46 M3 made about 333 horsepower at the crank. However, this one has a CSL carbon fiber intake, upgraded headers, an upgraded exhaust system, and a slight tune, so it makes around 360 horsepower to the wheels, which is more than enough for the lightweight E36 M3.
As much as I love the E36 shape, the M3 never really made me desire it, due to its relatively lackluster engine, crappy interior, and reliability concerns. However, this one is making me swoon.