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My Swan Vs The Ugly Duckling

 

If you’ve read the previous post about my latest acquirement you’ll know I purchased a mint BMW E36 325i coupe that left me a little confused. Having wanted a potential drift missile to stamp my mark upon, the words “strip”, “gut” and “hoon” all circulated my mind as I drove HeLLga (yeah, yeah, yeah, I named her) home. I knew from the pictures and paperwork she was a great example, but I had to keep reminding myself she was a 19 year-old car as I looked around at the pristine leather and marvelled at the familiar raucous engine note (I owned an E46 M3) and the solid ride.

The aforementioned words circulating my mind seemingly matching the engine revs and picked up speed, a full-on whirlwind reminding me why I bought the car – “I’ve bought the wrong car,” I countered, knowing my appreciation of well-maintained and non-molested cars wouldn’t allow any of these words to be directed at my Bavarian beauty.

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I have, however, installed a K&N panel filter and bought a straight through back box with DTM tips for both aesthetics and to enhance HeLLga’s fantastic vocal range. Although the straight-pipe on the M50 engine is a symphony of spitting, crackling and popping, going down this route seemed a little undignified for my clean E36 – imagine Mariah Carey singing vocals for Slipknot – entertaining for a few songs but a bloody headache after an entire album.

So whilst I will try my best at maintaining HeLLga’s stock appearance and refraining from any more sideways action when it’s a little damp (on quiet and empty roads), I’ll have to make do with videos until I find a suitable E36 beater missile. Check out The Ugly Ducking below, what a beauty… hang on, that didn’t make sense. Ah well, you know what I mean.

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My New Girl, HeLLga

Hellga

I’ve been very busy of late. My mind has been 24/7 on cars… mine in particular. The picture above is my latest affair, a German coupe that took a lot of searching for and a lot of changing of minds. Up until purchasing her I’ve also been very confused, and now she’s mine, I still am. You see, it’s all to do with drifting…

HeLLga takes the place of my Subaru WRX. I loved my Scooby and it’s surge of turbo but the AWD didn’t allow for drifting unless you entered at high speed, murdered the engine and felt the horrible resistance of Jap technology – a lot of noise and unsettling vibrations – reminding you a trip to the bank was imminent. As we all know, RWD is the only way to go if sliding is your game, so I watched more videos, read more articles and had my mind on something a little different. However, HeLLga wasn’t on the list at the beginning.

I ended up dismissing the RX-8 and S2000 because of their low torque compared to other rivals. The RX-7 and Nissan 240ZX were out of the question, as were the Skyline R32 & 33 because I simply couldn’t bring myself to butcher and abuse such great classics. As for the Silvias, meh, they just don’t do anything for me. Although the S13 could’ve been a possibility, finding a solid example that wasn’t automatic and painted gold was impossible – they’ve all been snapped up, slammed, and had their innards ripped out by hardcore drifters.

So I was 100% sure I wanted an MR2 Turbo, the mid-engined lunatic above I knew could be drifted (albeit with some different approaches and methods). Yeah, I was going to be a little different and the MR2 Turbo was going to be my daily/drift missile…

…until I remembered the late Giorgi Tavzadze and his BMW E34 M5. I then found myself re-watching the E34 325i chase scene in Ronin. I’d seen some mean-looking old-school Bimmers as drift missiles before, and the decision was finally made after witnessing The Ugly Duckling, a stock-engined E36 325i climb a carpark sideways.

Having owned an E46 M3 and remembering how powerful yet planted it was, I did a little research into why the former E36 M3 and 325i models were so popular as drifters. Because they are lighter, have a 50/50 weight ratio and good torque, the E36 chassis was perfect for the job. The 325i seemed the most popular because of its bombproof and revvy 2.5-L inline 6, plus its cheaper repair and maintenance bills over the M3. Many welded the diff, too, something I was thinking of getting done. Although turbos were a popular add-on to the 325i, I’ve seen enough videos to know they can be drifted with the right set-up.

However, after I handed over the cash and sunk into HeLLga’s leather embrace, I realised what a beauty I had aquired. Spotless, 62K miles all accounted for with 8 BMW stamps in the service book. The small white torch, tool kit and first aid kit were all present, and as for the interior, well, I knew I wouldn’t be ripping it out any time soon. I realised all of this whilst driving her home, a car I couldn’t believe was 19-years-old. She was solid, taut and her 6-cylinders hummed and let out that familiar hiss and BMW rasp at high revs.

So what do I do now?

After a rather reserved effort but enough to maintain a slide (this was on a quiet road in the evening with no traffic whatsoever), I came to only one conclusion: Buy a high mileage 325i beater, of course.

 

Ed: If you enjoyed this post or love old school Bimmers, check out the 2nd part with HeLLga.