1997 BMW 318ti
A few months after I bought my M3, my wife decided she was bored with her 1989 325i. After months of looking for a five speed E36 325is or 318ti (there aren't many around here) we found her 318ti. It was exactly what we had been searching for, very low miles, 5-speed, leather, great condition and a California Roof!
Well Almost Perfect
The factory 15" wheels and 4X4-like stance just wouldn't do for this awesome ride. So a week after picking up the 318ti we installed Eibach springs and 17" O.Z. Competition wheels. Along with the suspension went 35% window tint and a Momo shift knob.
Over one weekend we made three upgrades to the rear of the car. First we installed a BMW M-Technic trunk spoiler to smooth the lines of the little hatchback. Next we unbolted the stock exhaust. While the exhaust was out of the way, we installed a limited slip differential out of a '95 318ti Club Sport edition. After the diff was installed we bolted a Stromung exhaust in place of the anemic sounding stock system.
The stock clutch was a mere 215mm with light clamping force. It was plenty stiff enough to break loose a single 205mm tire, but after upgrading to a LSD and sticky 225/45/17 the clutch would slip a bit when launching hard from a stand still. That was cured with a 240mm clutch from a '96+ M3. Of course you need a M3 flywheel to go with the larger clutch, so we chose an aluminum M3 flywheel from TC Kline. The flywheel is made by Fidanza Flywheels and weighs in at 11.5lbs vs the stock 27lbs. Now when you launch hard the motor just bogs down 8)
The stock shocks lasted about 20k miles with the Eibach springs before they started to get weak. To fix the boat-like ride we installed Koni Sport shocks to match the Eibach springs. We also found a set of used swaybars from a '95 318ti Clubsport edition, 2mm larger rear and 1mm larger front.
While the exhaust and the light weight flywheel help acceleration, we were still looking to get a few more HP out of the M44 motor. "Fogging" the airbox by adding a 4" intake pipe in addition to the original 2" airbox opening helped free up a little power in the upper RPMs. Of course, that little bit of extra HP only satisfied us for about a year before the itch to accelerate bit. Off went the "Fogged" airbox along with the entire stock intake maifold. In their place went a Downing Atlanta supercharger! Good thing we bolted on that M3 clutch. The DASC install went great, no problems at all. The power increase is amazing, it's like a whole different car.
After getting sick of removing Downing's rising rate fuel pressure regulator at every oil change, I decided to upgrade to Technique Tuning's Stage 3 software and fuel injector package. The set also does away with the DISA valve and the fuel injector air bypass lines, so it really cuts down on the underhood clutter. With the custom tuning and addition fuel, it's possible to up the boost as well, so an IIAS 3.4" DASC pulley went on at the same time to step the boost up to ~10psi. With the stock DASC setup the car dynoed at 191rwhp, it's now up to 200rwhp with much smoother mid throttle acceleration and lots more torque. Stock DASC versus Stage 3 upgrade dyno.
By 2005 the leather on the driver seat had seen better days, the finish was cracked and had a small hole in one spot. BMW's leather is ~$400 per seat section and we knew it didn't have the best durability. Instead of simply shelling out $800 just to refinish the driver seat, we picked up a complete set of new leather made by Classic Soft Trim. In the process the factory non-sport seat foam was replaced with the sport style foam (taller side bolsters) and pull out leg rests. The new leather is a subtle two tone to match original light and dark sand grey door panels. Installation took about 2 hours per seat to remove the old foam and install the new leather. The end results are stunning... it looks better than new! New UUC floor mats replaced the worn factory mats.