Modern Cars Are Gaining An Extra Spare Tyre

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The subject of modern cars gaining weight through the evolution of safety and performance has been touched upon here before, the main angle focused upon power-to-weight ratios and whether older cars are more fun to drive than their more powerful yet heavier counterparts.

However, this time around the angle is focused upon actual weight and the sheer glutinous nature of modern design and technology. Did you ever think the quintessentially British Mini Cooper would outweigh a BMW sedan?

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I read an article on the 2015 Mini Cooper S in bed this morning and noticed a familiar bhp figure: (189). That’s a horse shy of my BMW E36 325i, I thought.

Descending further through the Cooper S spec sheet I made a note of the curb weight (1495-Kg).

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Wow, I said out-loud, the 3 Series of yesteryear is 35-Kg lighter – and that’s with a larger 2.5-L in-line 6 lump.

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BMW took over and manufactured Minis in 2000, but even back then the relatively large new concept compared to its Rover predecessor was nearly 300-Kg lighter than the 2015 model. As for its Austin grandaddy, the German sibling is over double the Kgs…

Despite being a horse under power and 35-Kgs heavier, the Cooper S performs well.

Or does it?

Two decades or so separate the E36 and Cooper S, and despite the modern technology, the Mini only manages to knock half a second off the E36 0-60 time.

I do wonder how the Minis of 2030 will fare. Will they weigh in heavier than the BMW F30s of today? Will they need twin turbos just to make it out of the garage. Will a rocket and parachute be required to make a run to the shops?

What do you think? Can manufacturers continue to increase power whilst the added weight of safety and handling software and devices continue to hamper genuine performance gains?

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Give me a 236-hp per ton featherweight any day.

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BMWs & Preparing Lithuanian Sledges

Owning a BMW E36 325i (HeLLga) and possessing a passion for sideways action, it was only a matter of time before I’d stumble across the ‘The Ugly Duckling’, the incongruously placed BMW above. Its owner hails from a part of Europe boasting scented forests and pristine lakes, a seemingly serene and peaceful place… until you look a little closer.

There are some pretty cool goings-on taking place in Lithuania at the moment, a combination of old school BMWs, mad driving skills, and a creativity and enthusiasm captured in a series of short films.

Norbertas Daunoravičius (pictured above) is the brains behind Norbe Films, a vision shared through his website and YouTube channel. Here he reveals both his love of retro Bimmers and his ability to make them slide. Referring to what is commonly known as the ‘Drift Missile’, Norbertas prefers the name ‘Sledge’, a term coined from the current Lithuanian car culture. 

Norbe Films presents useful videos on Sledge preparation, primarily involving an old BMW and wrenching on it until it will drift. The film below is the longest – and perhaps considered his feature piece – The Ugly Duckling. Although the 15 minutes of footage features hardcore Hooning and antisocial driving, Norbetas manages to convey intelligence, humour and a real passion for cars. The Ugly Duckling also captures the spirit and culture of Lithuania, its people strong-willed, inventive and industrious.

If you haven’t got 15 minutes to spare, check out the excerpt above, a little taster, a lesson in Lithuanian parking.

Wings, Box Flares & Lots Of Paint

Not only is the BMW pictured above a thing to behold, this 1976 3.0-L CSL boasts a splendid array of colours that somehow work and highlight the car’s features. Art purists will smirk at the idea of using a car as a canvas, but artist, Alexander Calder, known for surrealism, modern art, and his kinetic sculptures, represents his chosen genres well here.

 

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The above image may not be to everyone’s taste, but take in the style and compare with the rather brilliant image below. I know which “canvas” I’d rather have presented/parked in my living room.

Calder isn’t the only artist to take inspiration from the Bavarian Motor Company. Everyone has heard of Andy Warhol, right? He’s the chap responsible for Pop Art – take in the piece below and you’ll immediately recognise the style.

So what does a modern (slightly mad) artist do when he takes hold of a 1979 BMW M1 and some brushes? Take a look below and marvel at the solid German engineering combined with the insanity of an artist let loose with his paint box.

The M1 was BMW’s supercar, a fact Warhol seemed to know when he went to work on it. What would look ghastly on a human, this mix of clashing colours just looks right on this boxy retro sports car.

I’m a big BMW fan and have owned a black E46 M3 and currently drive a black E36 325i coupe. I couldn’t do a Bimmer art post without including one of my favourite looking cars, the E30 M3. Not only is the E30 iconic, this collection of car art boasted a wonderful example of simplistic and solid German design painting by an artist known for his simplistic shapes and colours.

I’d never heard of Ken Done until I saw this collection featured on BMWism.com – click the link and check out the other BMWs and the varying styles lavished and embellished upon their boxy and retro bodies.

 

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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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BMW E30 Drift Animals

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I don’t really need to write much about or justify my reason for publishing this post as the title has “BMW E30” in it. Car guys the world over have a lot of respect for this chassis, especially the E30 M3, a car now quickly becoming a sought after classic, whether it’s a minter or a converted track car.

The title also features the word “Drift”, so combine the two and you have great reason to view the clip below. What the guys have done to these E30s may offend the majority of purists looking to restore a car back to something resembling its assembly line days, however, whilst I respect car restoration Gargling Gas is all about car culture and the trends bringing communities together. Drifting is one such trend that has grown so much over the last decade, many varying car communities come together as one.

I’m not sure I’d go as far and or extreme as these mental E30s, but I’d love to turbocharge one and stick a roll-cage inside.

Engine Fever

We all know the engine is the heart of the car, it’s chambers an explosive mix of oxygen, fuel and fire. Like the human heart, an engine throbs and ticks and gives life to the car. An engine even injects personality, from loud and powerful, to refined and economical – it’s not all about BHP and torque figures.

I’ve owned a fair few cars and I’ll have to say the BMW S54B32 unit from my old e46 M3 is the ultimate engine. I had the pleasure of a Mercedes 3.5-L V6, some turbo engines, and even a Maserati 4.2-L V8, but the M3’s engine surpassed them on every level.

It’s only a 3.2-L naturally aspirated inline 6, but it’s so revvy and raw. The M3′s S54B32 made 343hp at a screeching 7,900rpm and 365Nm of torque at 4,900rpm. With the rev counter’s lights signifying how hard you should drive until the engine has reached it’s proper operating temperature, it feels as though it’s a tuned engine. The acceleration is hard and the power-band wide. Instead of grunting and burbling like the Italian V8, the S54B32 spits out it’s exhaust as though it’s inhaled a swarm of wasps. Don’t get me wrong, the V8 is an incredible sounding piece of kit, and I love the feel of turbo power, but the M3 will always remain a top engine in my books.

It came as great news when I found out the new M3/M4 cars (albeit with turbos) would feature the inline 6 after a few models of V8s.

So with this in mind, what are you favourite engines, even if they’re not inside of your favourite car? What would be your ultimate engine swap?

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Hipster Appeal, Petrolhead Heaven

If you’re unsure as to what a Hipster is, just think ‘Hippy’ with a little extra cash and a better haircut. The Hipster subculture takes elements of 1940s fashion and is derived from a movement from the same era. Hipsters are usually aged between 18-34, including the middle-class adult. You’ll never see a Hipster wearing mainstream clothing; they prefer thrift/vintage stores for that authentic look. Indie bands and labels are their choice of music. Sustenance would come from an independent sandwich shop or cafe and most definitely not a McDonalds or Burger King.  In one sentence, a Hipster is an independent thinker, possess progressive political opinions, appreciates art and creativity, intelligence and witty banter.

Most Hipsters prefer bicycles (especially fixed wheel) for transport, however, those selecting an automobile go for 80s, boxy and usually European. Mercedes are a good choice, but the king of the Hipstermobile is the Volvo. Take an 80s Swedish car (preferably a wagon/estate), remove the hub caps, add ironic bumper stickers and voila. Those willing to spill a drop or two of oil onto their vintage tweed or chequered shirts may even slam it.

Now this is where the second part of the title comes in. I agree the 80s boxy cars are fantastic looking and becoming fashionable again – think BMW E30 – and whilst I like the Hipster fashion and some of their attitudes and perceptions on the world, one of my biggest Hipster downfalls  is my lack of sympathy for the environment – the closest I’ve come to the whole wagon revival is owning a tuned 235-bhp Subaru WRX wagon.

Hipsters are P.C. in every way; they are open-minded and carefree. They wear sensible trousers, and horn-rimmed specs are a prerequisite to join the club.

So how would I fit in with my need to hoon whilst maintaining that Hipster vibe?

Okay, that’ll do nicely…