BMW E92 M3 with a Corvette LT4 engine swap

As a BMW enthusiast, I’m unsure how I feel about this particular engine swap. Yes, the LT4 Corvette engine makes more horsepower and torque than a stock BMW S65, but you’re now rockin’ a BMW that’s no longer BMW powered. What about putting an ESS, VF or Gintani supercharger on your S65 to make the same power, but stay true to BMW? What about swapping in a BMW M5 twin turbo V8? There are plenty of options, but Driftworks went the way of a completely different powertrain and I must say, it’s pretty cool.

The engine bay looks like it all fits pretty well. This engine takes well to power mods when it’s in a Corvette, so I’m sure Driftworks has plenty of room left to increase power even further. With the E92 M3’s wonderful chassis, and the torque of the LT4, his must be an extremely fun and capable car.

What do you guys think of this swap? Would you do it? What swap or power mod would you rather have?

2005 BMW E46 M3 Alpine White with 18″ Satin Black APEX ARC8 Square

I wanted to have a classic look for my future classic BMW E46 M3. After much debate and back and forth, I picked the APEX ARC8 setup. I went with the 18×9.5 square setup with +35 offset front and rear. I was debating going with the +22 offset, which would be a better fit in the rear, but was on the fence if I like the look of the front wheels sticking so far out. It’s a popular fitment, but I think for me, the +35 square worked out better to my liking.

The wheels are strong, light, and not very expensive. APEX has a good replacement policy if you happen to bend one at the track and it was also a big plus that I was able to reuse the OEM BMW center caps.

I shot a quick video so you can get a nice walk around of the car and see how the wheels look with the sun light reflecting off of them. I think I would prefer if the wheels were gloss black, but the satin black is pretty nice.

As a side note, after watching this video I realized I need to lower the rear some! 🙂

What do you guys think?

I love the stance of the car from the front. Now I just need to decide if I want to get the CSL front bumper, or keep the USDM bumper. I like both.

Nice shot of the Redline360 sticker in the sun 🙂

Top 10 Cars Under $10k For Drifting

Drifting is a rush. It takes a sense of adventure, a love of high speeds, driving skill and the perfect car to properly experience the power and the adrenaline you can get from going sideways.

As the sport has grown in popularity, so has the numbers of people looking to own or build the perfect drift car. This also means the ability to own a drift car for cheap has become more and more difficult. It is not easy to get a good car at a good price, but it is not impossible.

If you know what you are looking for, you can find the ideal car for a price that still leaves you enough room to perform some awesome upgrades and mods, allowing you to finally own your dream ride.

To help you out, we have created a list of the top 10 cars that are perfect for drifting that will cost you less than $10k to purchase. Here they are, in no particular order:

AE86 Corolla

The Toyota Corolla is one of the granddaddies of all drift cars. With this popular car, you’ll want to look for a GT-S model (1985-1987, if you can find one). The major complaint with the AE86 tends to be its lack of power and because the car is so well balanced — which is part of its appeal — the available engine replacements are limited. Turbo kits can provide a decent solution but if you are looking for an engine swap, consider the Honda S2000 F20/22A.

This can be an affordable option that leaves you the chance for any mods or adjustments you hope to make. Most owners of this car have found it useful to make early mods to the steering angle, switching to a non-power steering rack with added tie rod spacers.

BMW E36 or E46

E36s and E46s are incredible drifting cars and, thankfully, they also remain incredibly cheap! The suspension geometry is perfect and if the car includes the “winter package,” it will likely also have a limited slip differential, which is a huge bonus.

While they are cheap to purchase, you may have to sink a bit of money into upgrading the factory installed cooling system. And like many German cars, parts can become expensive when the drivetrain starts to fail. But the good news is that you can buy a complete swap kit for a full Mustang drivetrain. It is an expensive swap but you’ll be left with a near perfect piece of machinery that will blow people’s minds on the track.

Nissan 240SX

Look for this classic drift car in the S13 (1989-1993) and S14 (1994-1998) models. Like the Corolla, this one is generally pretty drift ready. The lower end prices for these cars will likely have automatic transmissions in which case, you might want to consider a full pedal swap. But if you are new to drifting or car mods, it is best to let someone with more experience handle this move.

This lightweight car has excellent handling. The chassis balance and the long-ish wheelbase help keep stability during a drift while at the same time making it easier to change directions.

Fox-Body Mustang

Strong V-8 engines and rear wheel drive means you can get a fox-body Mustang sideways in a heartbeat. These cars are also lightweight and have a short wheelbase which makes them easy to handle in a drift. And with over a couple of million sold over the course of their 15-year run, you will not have any trouble getting your hands on one. Parts are inexpensive and easy to find which, again, makes this car an affordable option, especially for a first-time buyer.

Aston Martins

You can get an Aston from the 1990s for next to nothing these days. Known to be a bit of a junk heap, you can purchase them cheap, rip out the drivetrain, add a small block from Ford or Chevy and you’ll be drifting like a boss. Look for a non-running vehicle and use the money you save to build it the way you want.

Mazda Miata

Might not be the toughest car on the list but a Miata MX-5 can be bought for cheap and built into one hell of a drifter. Generally known as an excellent driving car, Miata’s do not necessarily have the power for your purposes but there are many solutions and mods available. In fact, the aftermarket support for this car is incredible which bodes well for any fine tuning you may require.

Fox-Body Thunderbird or Cougar

All of the positives that fit the fox-body Mustang, can be applied to both the Ford Thunderbird and the Mercury Cougar. From 1980-1988 these cars were just basically Mustangs with a slightly longer wheelbase. And because they are not the first car people think of when considering a drift car, they are easier to find than Mustangs. More often than not, you can find a really well priced Thunderbird or Cougar in really good condition. So if you are not able to find a 5.0 Mustang, do not be afraid of this slightly larger car. They have all the same features, and you never know, you might even like these ones better.

Lexus SC

If you are someone who loves luxury and loves cars with all the bells and whistles, the Lexus SC is probably for you. This car was the upmarket version of the killer drift car, the Toyota Supra.

The North American versions of this vehicle did not come with the Supra’s celebrated twin-turbo 2JZ-GTE but it does have the non-turbo version and can easily be upgraded. This is the best choice if you’ve been pining for a Supra but can’t find or afford one. The SC can often be found in good condition and if you went for the six-cylinder, you should have no trouble finding upgrade parts and turbo kits for much less than you would with a Supra.

G-Body Buick Regal

People tend to avoid the g-body cars like the Regal, Monte Carlos, and El Caminos, because they think they are big cars. But the truth is, they have basically the same wheelbase as an E36 and are more narrow than one. The chassis is perfect, it is just the overhangs that make them look big.

These cars are available everywhere at a great price and upgrade parts are just as easy to find. And because the engine bay will hold just about anything, turbo engine upgrades are simple as can be.

Ford Ranger

Sometimes the best car for drifting is a truck. But not just any truck, a compact truck like the Ford Ranger or a Chevy S-10. Perfect for power sliding, pickups are rear drive and lightweight in the back end. All pickups will drift but most are too big and heavy for any competitive uses. With most engines around 300 horses, mini trucks give you everything you need to drift on a budget. In a mini truck, they will never see you coming.

This list is a perfect place to start when looking to invest in a car for drifting that is below $10,000. Did we miss anything on the list? Drop us a line in the comments below ↓


Muffler Deletes – What are they and are they good or bad?

Back when performance and modifying your car was just starting, everyone was doing whatever they could for weight loss, performance and sometimes a just a bit of noise and show. There’s many ways to achieve these goals, but some are more widely adopted due to the fact hat they’re inexpensive and easy to do.

One of the easiest and most popular mods that help your car get a lighter is the classic muffler delete. Quite simply, it’s a pipe that bolts in place of the bulky factory muffler and essentially makes your car loud! Factory mufflers, especially on dual exhaust cars and trucks, are extremely heavy and can weigh up to 100 pounds. Most muffler deletes, depending on type of material, flanges and tip size can be up an 80% reduction in weight. That’s noticeable.

Most muffler deletes come with tips that make your exhaust have a modified look. But if you couldn’t tell from the look of the new exhaust, you’ll certainly be able to tell by the sound. Since there are no mufflers, the exhaust becomes really loud.

We always hear people ask is it legal to remove a muffler? Technically, a muffler delete does not increase emissions as it removes no smog equipment. But some cities and towns can have laws against an exhaust that goes over a certain decibel level limit or even just having a modified exhaust at all. We recommend checking with your local laws to find out what’s considered illegal.

Another common question we hear is a muffler delete the same as a straight pipe? 99% of the time, a straight pipe is referring to a catalytic converter delete. It’s a straight pipe that simply replaces the cat. This absolutely is not smog legal, BTW. A catalytic converters job is to reduce emissions while a muffler’s job is to reduce noise.

And of course, everyone wants to know does a muffler delete add power? Just about every modern car has a very efficient oem factory muffler. It’s able to tone down exhaust sound levels while still allowing smooth flow that doesn’t rob much power, if any. So for most cars, the muffler delete will not add any power. Some cars will gain some power, but generally it’s not much, usually under 5 horsepower. However, if you have a car modified for more power, and still has the stock mufflers, then you’ll have more gain.

We thought it might be good to come with a muffler delete pros and cons list.

Muffler Delete Pros

  • Inexpensive when compared to an axle back or exhaust system.
  • Lightweight and a significant weight difference over stock.
  • Perfect for someone looking for a louder exhaust without breaking the bank

Muffler Delete Cons

  • Can drone in the cabine
  • Can be too loud for some

If you have anything to add to his article or if you have any questions about muffler deletes, exhausts or anything for your car at all, please leave a comment below.

Best Sounding Exhausts For A Nissan 350Z

The Nissan 350Z is a killer car for drifting. But as perfect as it is for drifting, it has an unfortunately restrictive OEM exhaust system. Improving performance and function in this area is essential but just as important is making your car rumble and roar with power. If people do not hear you coming, is it even worth showing up?

There are few things in life better than the sound of a fast and powerful car. There are many aftermarket parts available to help you highlight the engine exactly the way you want.

From sweet purrs at low rpms to full-throated roars at top speeds, from all out volume to cleaner, more refined tones, there are so many options to choose from. To see exactly what we mean, take a listen to the beauties in this video:

Here is a closer look at our favorite exhausts from the video.

Invidia N1 Exhaust

If you want to not only drive like a legend but sound like one too, this is the exhaust for you. Engineered to increase horsepower and torque, the Invidia N1 exhaust will improve mid to top end power. With ultra high flow N1 style mufflers, it delivers a throaty purr at low rpms but a full, aggressive rumble when at cruising speeds. Reasonably priced exhaust with a straightforward fitment. Good value AND easy install! Perfect!

Tomei Extreme Ti Titanium Exhaust

For earth-rattling volume and flawless performance, this is an excellent choice. Made from titanium, this exhaust system is strong and durable and will not add extra bulk and weight to your car, allowing you to maintain speed and performance on the track. If you want to truly hear your engine strength and power, the Tomei Extreme Ti Titanium exhaust delivers in a big way.

Spec-D Tuning Exhaust

This exhaust will allow you to hear a full range of sounds from your 350z from a low rumble at low rpms to a full howl when fully opened up. Mandrel bent piping allows for smooth exhaust flow and minimal restriction. This exhaust has the occasional fit problem so unless you have the garage space and the skill set, the install is best left to a professional. The extra spend is a bit of a pain but it will be more than worth it when you open up the throttle and hear it for the very first time.

GReddy SP Elite Exhaust

If your tastes run towards a more refined, sporty sound, give the GReddy SP Elite a try. With a deeper sound than stock and much prettier finish, this exhaust delivers for people who are looking to improve sound and the look of their 350z. It does increase horsepower and torque without reducing drivability but this mod is best for audio and visual improvements, not necessarily for performance gains.

Best Sounding Exhausts For A Nissan 350Z Tachometer of a 350Z, revved

HKS Hi Power Exhaust

This is potentially one of the best sounding exhaust systems on the market. Producing a deep, mean, growl, this system will give you the sound you want without teeing off your neighbors by setting off car alarms up and down the block. A well respected Japanese classic, you really need to hear it to believe it. Just one drive and you will understand why it is so popular. Suitable for both street and race cars, the straight muffler design allows for the flow of large amounts of exhaust. This is one of the more expensive exhaust systems but if you know anything about HKS than you know that the fitment, sound, and performance more than justify the price tag.

Megan Racing OE-RS Exhaust

If you want a beautiful sounding exhaust that really shows off the natural sounds of your engine, this is a wise choice. It is designed to be like the factory installed exhaust but with larger pipes and a high flow muffler. These adjustments improve performance and horsepower while keeping your ride looking sleek. Easy to install, the OE-RS exhaust is perfect for people doing their own mods.  If you are not looking to go over the top in terms of volume or price, start here.

Magnaflow Exhaust

For a classic purr, check out this exhaust from Magnaflow. For years they have been known to deliver performance and sound enhancing exhaust systems so this is definitely a name you can trust. This system delivers superior exhaust flow with minimal flow resistance. The superior mufflers will give your 350z a deep and powerful roar. And the best part, this sound is unobtrusive and will not impact your comfort while driving the car. Sounds great without being uncomfortable? Does it get better?

Best Sounding Exhausts For A Nissan 350Z rear end of Nissan350Z

APEXi N1 Exhaust

With a strong racing heritage, the N1 will give you the ultimate in dyno power gains. Designed for track use, the N1 is strong and durable and will deliver performance results. When it comes to sound, the APEXi N1 will give you the loud, strong rumble that makes you think of fast and powerful cars. If you are looking for an amplified sound that will turn heads while also improving your horsepower, look no further.

Tanabe Medalion Touring Exhaust

The Tanabe Medalion Touring Exhaust is great if you want a smooth, deep, and clean tone to your exhaust. It displays power without offending the senses. Strong and refined, it is known as the “gentleman’s exhaust.” Powerful but polite! This system is perfect for people who want to maximize power and performance throughout the car while still being able to hold down a conversation when driving it. It is a drivable modification that offers steady low rumbles at a very affordable price.

These exhausts are some of our favorites for showing off the power and performance of your 350z. A big part of driving this car is experiencing the purr of the engine and all of these exhausts will help you experience it to the max.

Have you made mods to the exhaust on your 350z? Which one did you choose?

2019 C7 Corvette ZR1 Dyno Video – wow!

As of just a few days ago, the new 2019 Corvette ZR1 was dyno’d, and the numbers are impressive!

The car is rated at 750 crank horsepower and it looks accurate as this ZR1 ripped the dyno at 668 whp and 644 torque.

The power is amazing for a stock ZR1 and we know that with some headers, exhaust, intake and tune it’ll be making much more. We wouldn’t be surprised if with bolt ons the car can make 800whp.

What a beast!

Eibach Lowering Springs: Pro Kit vs Sportline


Eibach Lowering Springs are some of the most popular springs on the market – and for good reason. Eibach is the leader on street and race technology with everything from direct replacement lowering springs to high performance coilover springs in various sizes and spring rates.

Of their lowering springs line, Eibach offers two main choices, the Eibach Pro Kit Lowering Springs and the Eibach Sportline Lowering Springs. Many people do not know the differences between the two, so we decided to create this point to easily reference the difference of the Pro Kit vs Sportline.

Eibach Pro Kit Lowering Springs
The most popular amongst Eibach’s offering is the Pro Kit lowering springs. These lower your vehicle enough to clean up a lot of the wheel gap, but are not very aggressive in their spring rates or drop rate. This allows for you to keep your ride quality and be able to use the OEM shocks, usually with no problem for many years (unless if your OEM shocks are old and worn).

Eibach Sportline Lowering Springs
These lower your vehicle more than the Pro Kit and also have stiffer and spring rates. Usually, with Sportline, we recommend to replace your shocks to be able to handled the extra amount of lowering and stiffer springs, but generally many customers use Sportlines with stock shocks with no problems.

Eibach Pro Kit vs Sportline
So while the Sportline lowers more than Pro Kit, they do share some features in common. For example, they both lower your center of gravity, have progressive spring rates, excellent ride quality and a million-mile warranty.

More info
Click here for more info on our offering of Eibach Lowering Springs.

Fortune Auto 500 vs 510 Coilovers – What’s the difference?


We often get a lot of questions on Fortune Auto Coilovers, but one especially stands out. People ask if they should get the Fortune Auto 500 Coilovers or the Fortune Auto 510 Coilovers.

The Fortune Auto 500 series are built and valved for a street vehicle, that sees occasional track use. They use a Digressive piston which allows for a stiff low-speed rebound force. That helps give better control of driver inputs such as dive, pitch, and roll. At high-speed the suspension is kept subtle when bumps and irregularities come up in the road.

We recommend the Fortune Auto 510 series for track driven vehicles, with to no little street use, as they have a very harsh ride on the street and you will feel every blemish in the road. The 510 series uses the same architecture as the 500s, with different color anodizing, and the internals of the shock are completely revamped. They use a much more digressive piston (Our CFD Piston) and revised shim stacks which gives much greater low speed rebound force than the 500 series. At high speed, the piston is designed to “blow off” when going over any large imperfections or bumps in the road, such as pot holes or curbing on a track, which helps the car remain stable. The 510 series also includes a dyno graph of all 4 shocks, and Radial Bearing Mounts are standard on McPherson applications

Please contact us for any questions on these coilovers and for pricing.

2018 Nissan GT-R – Is this the R36 Hybrid we’ve been waiting for?


There’s been many talks of the next Nissan GT-R. The current R35 GT-R has been around since 2008 (2009 in the United States), and while Nissan continues to make incremental improvements to the platform each year, the car is getting stale and old. The R35 GT-R used to be the king of the road, and while it still is in many respects, the new competition coming out is getting faster and more capable.

In order for Nissan to compete, it needs to release it’s next generation of the GT-R… the R36. There has been lots of talk and lots of rumor over the power train for the R36 GT-R, but the most important is that it will feature a hybrid power train. Thoughts are the combined output of the ICE (internal combustion engine) and electric motors will be around 700 horsepower, powered through a highly advanced all wheel drive system as in the R35.

We’re expecting the R36 GT-R Premium will be around the $110-120K range, while the Black Edition will be roughly $10K more and the Nismo to be roughly 40-50K more.

The fastest of the R35s is the 2013 and 2014, which do 0-60 in 2.7 seconds. We expect the R36 GT-R to beat this time and once again regain its self as ring leader.

The thing we are most interested in seeing is how the R36 GT-R is going to take to modifications. The R35 is begging to be modified and has so far produced up to 2500 horsepower at the wheels from it’s V6. With simple mods such as a GT-R Exhaust, GT-R Midpipe, tune and supporting mods, you can make 600+whp from just these bolt ons! We hope the new hybrid power train will lend itself to be a highly capable machine, but only time will tell.

From the photo above, you can see the planned 2018 GT-R will share many of the same design traits as the R35, but the R36 GT-R looks to be much sleeker.

Personally, I love it.

BMW M3 E36 vs E46 vs E92 vs F80 – Ultimate Comparison

M3 E36 vs E46 vs E92

We get it all of the time – What’s the best BMW M3 for for track? Should I get an E36 M3? Should I swap an S54 into an E36? Should I get an E46 M3 with the S54? Should I get an E92 M3 with the S65 V8 and available DCT? We feel each car has it’s pros and cons and we decided to lay it all out here to give you as much info as possible so you can make a decision based on what’s right for you. Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with any of these generation M3s!

We know there is an E90 M3, an E30 M3, an F82 M4 and convertible variations, but we decided to leave those out to keep the comparison as focused as possible. We picked the ones that are the most popular track cars to compare.

Comparison overview (Factory Specs)
Off the showroom floor

E36 M3 (96-99) E46 M3 (01-05) E92 M3 (08-13) F80 M3 (15+)
Engine S52 I6 S54 I6 S65 V8 S55 I6 Twin Turbo
Horsepower 240 333 414 425
Torque 240 262 295 406
Weight 3,219 lbs 3,415 lbs 3,649 lbs (DCT) 3,516 lbs (DCT)
HP to Weight 13.41 lb/hp 10.26 lb/hp 8.81 lb/hp 8.27 lb/hp
TQ to Weight 13.41 lb/tq 13.03 lb/hp 12.37 lb/hp 8.66 lb/hp

Comparison overview (Standard Bolt on Modifications)
Here we take the factory cars above and add standard bolt on power mods. (Intake/Exhaust/Headers/Tune)

E36 M3 (96-99) E46 M3 (01-05) E92 M3 (08-13) F80 M3 (15+)
Horsepower 270 375 465 550
Torque 260 285 330 550
Weight 3,219 lbs 3,415 lbs 3,649 lbs (DCT) 3,516 lbs (DCT)
HP to Weight 11.92 lb/hp 9.11 lb/hp 7.85 lb/hp 6.39 lb/hp
TQ to Weight 12.38 lb/tq 11.98 lb/hp 11.05 lb/hp 6.40 lb/hp

Comparison overview (Bolt ons and heavy weight reduction)
Lightweight exhaust, remove rear seats, speakers, interior pieces, etc

E36 M3 (96-99) E46 M3 (01-05) E92 M3 (08-13) F80 M3 (15+)
Horsepower 270 375 465 550
Torque 260 285 330 550
Weight 2,600 lbs 2,850 lbs 3,150 lbs (DCT) 3,250 lbs (DCT)
HP to Weight 9.63 lb/tq 7.60 lb/hp 6.77 lb/hp 5.90 lb/hp
TQ to Weight 10.00 lb/tq 10.00 lb/hp 9.55 lb/hp 5.91 lb/hp

As you can see above, the F80 is a monster when it comes to power to weight ratio, both factory spec as well as with bolt ons and with weight reduction. In order to obtain the weights above, you have to go through some pretty serious weight reduction. The weights are estimated without a driver and are based on our experience with heavily stripped cars. You can get each car a little lighter and most are going to be above these weights, but this will give you a comparison of about where most of the generations currently sit in terms heavy weight reduction.

Comparison overview (Supercharged and Forced Induction)
A clean title, good condition example of each one, picked with the earliest year

E36 M3 (96-99) E46 M3 (01-05) E92 M3 (08-13) F80 M3 (15+)
Horsepower 360 550 625 550
Torque 300 310 420 550
Weight 3,219 lbs 3,415 lbs 3,649 lbs (DCT) 3,516 lbs (DCT)
HP to Weight 8.94 lb/hp 6.20 lb/hp 5.83 lb/hp 6.39 lb/hp
TQ to Weight 10.79 lb/tq 11.02 lb/hp 8.69 lb/hp 6.39 lb/hp

Above is the most horsepower that is currently recommended for each car, with the factory motor, on the track. The F80 can make much more power, but we haven’t seen power levels over about 550 be reliable (yet) on the track. The E92 has a 650 horsepower kit as well, but it requires higher octane, and most customers run the 625 horsepower kits. Each platform is capable of more power, but this is a demonstration of track readiness. In this case, the E92 is the shining star for horsepower to weight. However, any one of the supercharged cars will require modification beyond a standard kit in order to run cool on the track.

Comparison overview (Problem Areas)
General Problem Areas – Most common problems

E36 M3 (96-99) E46 M3 (01-05) E92 M3 (08-13) F80 M3 (15+)
Problem Area Subframe
Shock Towers
Cooling System
Trailing Arm Bushings
Transmission Mounts
Rod Bearings
SMG Pump
Throttle Actuators
Crank Pin
Mileage 180,000 140,000 80,000 5,000

Comparison overview (Cost of engine and transmission replacement)
Forum and eBay prices as of the date of this post

E36 M3 (96-99) E46 M3 (01-05) E92 M3 (08-13) F80 M3 (15+)
Engine $2,750 $4,000 $9,000 $16,000
Transmission $400 $800 $1,800 (DCT)
$2,500 (6MT)
$3,350 (DC)

The E36, being the oldest car here, is going to have the most little problems. Generally, the S52 is pretty stout and once refreshed can be used very reliably as a track car. Commonly, the cooling system is not up to par and there are some oil starvation issues, but both can be fixed relatively easily. We recommend replacing all bushings and as many “easy to access” gaskets as possible to have the most reliable motor. Most customers replace their valve cover gaskets and do a head gasket job as preventative maintenance when they are going to be tracking the car. The manual transmissions are solid. The E36 suffers from the same subframe problems as the E46, but since the E46 is a heavier car it’s more prevalent in the E46.

The E46 arguably has the most small issues of the bunch, but is also a big jump up in moving pieces over the E36. While the S54 is generally a strong motor, the vanos, valve cover gasket, head gasket and other issues pop up frequently. Earlier cars had a rod bearing recall. Subframes are known to crack. We highly recommend having the subframe checked and if uncracked, reinforced before tracking. We also recommend getting full maintenance done on the motor as generally most S54’s have gone over 100,000 miles and probably weren’t babied. SMG has been known to have issues, and the SMG pump is very expensive (over $3,000). Most do a SMG to manual conversion to save on cost and improve reliability.

The E92 has been one of the most reliable M cars yet. There are cases of rod bearing failure and premature rod bearing wear, but for the most part the S65 is very strong. Many people have reported over 140,000 miles, 50+ track days, and not a single problem. Many people also have supercharged high mileage cars and also generally report no problems. While no car is perfect, the S65 has proven to be very reliable.

The F80 is very new still, but aside from some issues with the crank pins, the motor has taken a lot of boost, upgraded turbos, and many other mods and hasn’t broken a sweat. There are a few rare cases of blown motors, but for the most part, which a solid tune, the motors have proven to be very reliable. We will see over time if this holds out.

On the track – The real world

The various generation M3s all share what BMW calls “The Ultimate Driving Machine”. This means BMW builds these cars to not only perform on the track, but also be a comfortable daily driver. They are supposed to do everything well. However, each one does share something unique over the others, especially in modified form that really makes them completely different cars on the track.

The E36 M3 is the lightest of the bunch, has the least amount of computer intervention and is arguably the most “raw” of this bunch. The S50 (found in the 1995) and the S52 (used above, found in the 1996 to 1999), is not the most powerful motor at 240 horsepower. However, for those who want a starter track car, it doesn’t get much better than the E36 M3. Easier to manage on the track with it’s power level, light and nimble, lower cost of consumables and lower entry cost.

Next up is the E46 M3 which makes almost 100 horsepower more than the E36 but doesn’t weigh that much more, making it that much more of a handful on the track but also that much more potent. The S54 is a masterpiece and loves to rev. The E46 suspension offers lots more grip and feedback and the car is arguable the perfect size. The car can be made pretty light and the S54 takes well to modifications, which makes this an awesome track weapon.

The E9X series, E90 and E92 specifically, have a glorious 4.0L V8 S65 engine that screams to a 8600 RPM (tuned) redline, has linear power delivery and weighs less than the S54 in the E46. The E92 is heavier, but also has a more advanced suspension setup and as seen in this video is the only BMW M3 to go under 7 seconds on the Nurburgring with a stock motor at this time. This is Porsche 918 Nurburgring territory! While the heaviest M3, it is also one of the most capable.

The F8X series introduces the first turbocharged M3. This changes the dynamic of the M3 line up due to the turbo engine power delivery. No longer is there the all motor linear power build which many claim helps to propel the older generations with more confidence and grip around corners. The F80 and F82 make significant amounts of horsepower and torque over the other models, and with proper cooling have no problem putting the power down lap after lap. However, the suspension continues to improve, and users are looking to add wider and wider tires to gain more traction. While the E9X still holds lap records that the F8X has yet to beat, we feel confident that as tuners and racers dive deeper into this new platform, the F8X chassis will be the track champ.

Opinions and thoughts from owners

E36Racer From my experience with the E36 chassis, replacing the headgasket is a must. I see it is listed as a recommendation; however, for some reason if you take a S50/52 that has only been driven on the street and then use it as a track only car the headgasket will fail. But, if you change it before ‘track only’ duty, it will last forever. I’ve always done ARP studs at the same time. So far, 5 years and approx. 20k track miles and no issues. Motor had 42k miles when put into the car and can do a 15 hour endurance race and not even burn a drop of oil. Also, one key trick to an S52 is to install an S54 oil pump and pan and you can forget about any oil starvation issues. Plus it all bolts right on…

ec_E92 For the E36 issues to address, I’d add the oil pump nut (weld, safety wire, or go with Achilles Motorsports oil pump)

admranger The big change in suspension bits, especially in the rear, of the E9xM3’s on makes a substantial difference in my opinion. I raced an E36M3, have driven a ton of track miles in an E46M3 (including multiple days on the ‘ring), and now have enough experience in the E90M3 to know the E90M3 is more fun and easier to drive fast even though it’s heavier. Haven’t driven an F80 on track but have sat in the right seat while TC Kline took me around Laguna. F80 is stupid fast. Ridiculous really.

Mike B The e36 is probably the best driving experience of the bunch. I have driven all pretty extensively and next to the e36 the f80 is the only one better in my opinion. A euro s50 motor swap on a e36 really ups the game pushing it up to 322 out of the box in a very light car. The us spec cars should of had the euro s50. There are quite a few running around. Euro s50 motors are relatively affordable as well. S52’s respond awesome to cam swaps too and really wake the s52 up.

I love the the s54 in the e46. The platform works too. I’ve always disliked the feel of the the drive train. I don’t know if it is the m diff in it or the way the clutch engages or what. But the car feels fragile for some reason. I know it’s not but it doesn’t instill the same confidence the e36 does. I don’t maybe it’s just me.

The e90 is fun and sounds awesome. But it is also my least favorite if the bunch. I don’t really have a great reason why other then feel. To me it doesn’t feel like a M3. Once again it’s a personal preference thing. The f80 in my opinion has rectified that. The f80 is a absolute hoot. I think most of that is all the extra turbo torque.

At the end of the day they are awesome choices and you basically can’t go wrong with any of them!

David M I’ve driven Lots of sports cars and I still think the E36 was the most balanced and fun to drive with it can crush even newer cars that are supposed to easily!
Obviously not blindingly fast but more than fast enough for most!

cherry-M3 Summed it up perfectly. The e9x has a superior suspension to the e46 and 36, allowing it to feel like it carries its weight better. The confidence it gives you going into a turn is incredible. On the ring I’m sure the the e9x really shines, compared to slower more technical tracks where you definitely feel the weight. Nonetheless its the most capable out of all the generations (save for the f80 as I have no track experience in one just yet).

How about a video?

CarThrottle did a nice comparison of these generation M3s. Check out this video:

What did we miss?

There are so many differences between the various generations of M3 that it would be near impossible to capture them all in an easy to read post. However, we realize we didn’t capture everything important here, so we’re looking for your help to make this as complete as possible. We look forward to your feedback in the comments!