Track Car BUild DIlemma

How Far to do I go with this thing? How uncomfortable do I really want to be?

4y ago

Well, I've hit that inevitable point that all car builds come to. A potential point of no return. I have to decide if I really want to turn this car into something that will be as noisy on the road as a city bus, and as comfortable as 1980's farm machinery. All for the sake of driving around in circles slightly faster than some other dude can drive around in circles. The way I see it, is that it's like going on a big vacation somewhere, and then being super picky about spending too much money on a plate of pasta. If I fly halfway around the world, spend thousands on travel and hotels, then I don't bother cheaping out on the food. I swipe my credit card and laugh at future me, who will inevitably have to eat ramen for the following 6 months back home.

Head to head with a Miata in a recent Budget track car comparison for "One Track Mind"

Head to head with a Miata in a recent Budget track car comparison for "One Track Mind"

No this isn't an M3, or even a 330i. Its a 325i. With 4 doors, seat heat, and an integrated ski bag. It was never meant to be a track car. But since it is a BMW, the inline 6 is inside the front axle, the battery is in the trunk for better weight distribution, and drive goes to the rear tires. So now that I have done sway bars, coilovers, and a quicker final drive ratio, it is simply a riot on the track. It feels wonderfully balanced, and everything about it is very responsive and engaging. I can tell though that it could be so much more. I want it to be lighter, more powerful, and safer so I can get out there and do lap after lap to try and set a better time than buddy over there in the civic or whatever.

So now I need to decide if I start ripping the seats out, and finding someone to weld in a roll cage. That's the big question. Do I try and keep some semblance of a car that I could drive to work in? Or do I park it except for track days... Some might argue that I would be ruining a perfectly good well kept e46. They would be right. I guess I would. But in some way I feel like I would be doing the car justice by going all out with it. Showing the M3's and 330s what the little 325i can do. At least that's what I'll be telling myself when I start ripping up carpet...

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Comments (6)

  • I'd be tempted to pull thout stck seats out, put lightweight buckets in and keep it looking fairly standard. And maybe a half cage, but not a full strip down. Would be a great car for long distance track days then.

    Lot of lightweight panels available for these to save weight without losing refinement

      4 years ago
  • Yep! great suggestions guys. All of those things are bang on what I have been doing and will be doing. Ill be doing headers soon, and a full brake upgrade with stock calipers.

      4 years ago
  • The good news as well is the 325/330 is noticeably lighter than the M3 to begin with - that 3.2L is a heavy iron lump up front

      4 years ago
  • I agree with everything James has said below. A couple of suggestions I'd like to make:

    a) Purchasing a set of very lightweight wheels to reduce the unsprung mass of the car - I'd suggest the Enkei RPF1. They aren't exactly the most stylish or good looking wheels but they're very strong, very light, inexpensive and come in a large variety of fitments, which should also help you maximize the amount of rubber you're running on the car (be sure to pair this with sticky rubber-nothing crazier than a semislick like a Toyo R888)

    b) A performance exhaust system: most aftermarket exhausts systems will let you drop a considerable amount of weight compared to the stock system and you'll also have a more aggressive sounding car as a result (win-win). Be sure to go for the most comprehensive system you can find (Whole exhaust including headers, header-back or catback systems would be the best)

    c) Upgrade the braking system, you probably won't need a Big Brake Kit (BBK) but upgrading the pads, rotors, fluid and brake lines should help you with long-term performance on track. There is a large variety of products to choose from and you can tailor parts like these to your budget.

    Hope this helps!

      4 years ago
  • Yeah, I know a stripped out track car "looks" cool, but let's be honest - you're going to sacrifice 100% of the car's day-to-day usability for a tiny, tiny gain. The stock seats weigh a huge amount, they've definitely got to go

      4 years ago