Saved from abandonment, enhanced with some serious old-school wide-body vibes, and then endowed with an insane dose of turbo power, this boosted E36 M3, with over 900bhp, is a build of epic proportions.
Feature from Performance BMW. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Jape Tiitinen
When you think about it, the modding scene has a rich and varied history and heritage. People have been modding cars almost since they’ve existed but the modern modding scene as we know it probably started to form its foundations in the ’70s and ’80s, really evolving and coming into its own in the ’90s and 2000s and it’s changed an unbelievable amount in that time. In fact, the scene is changing so quickly all the time that it’s already so different today to how it looked just five years ago. It’s constantly evolving and everything that we move on from becomes something we can revisit in the future; loads of old-school trends have come full circle and one of those is the wide-body. Back in the late-’90s it was all about the wide-body builds, that was the ultimate goal and dream mod for scene veterans and wide-eyed youngsters alike; the trend disappeared a while ago but, in recent years, it’s returned with a vengeance and has evolved, retaining the core of the wide-body concept, but bringing it bang up-to-date. Much like before, it divides opinion and it won’t be for everyone – which is almost the point of it – but whichever side of the fat-arch fence you’re on, there can be no denying that a wide-body build still has the power to turn heads like nothing else, as Joni Pursiainen’s boosted E36 M3 demonstrates. The difference between Joni’s build and most other wide-body BMs, however, is that this is not merely a car built for show, it also has the most incredible amount of go…
Once more we find ourselves in Finland with a huge horsepower BMW and Joni is a man very much in love with Bavaria’s finest; “10 years ago my big brother bought his first turbo BMW and I got crazy for them immediately. You can drive any car as long it is a BMW,” Joni grins and he’s not kidding because he’s got five of them and you know what else he’s also clearly crazy for? Turbos, because four out of his five BMs all have turbos and Joni says he’s considering one for the only car that’s still NA, which means it’s inevitably going to get one as well. Anywhere else in the world it’s extremely unlikely that you’d have this level of exposure to turbocharged BMs, but when it comes to BMWs and forced induction the Nordic region is a law unto itself. Where else in the world would your first BMW be a turbocharged one? And we don’t mean one that came with a turbo from the factory… “My first BMW was an E30 325i (I’ve still got it) which had a turbo already fitted. That was the main reason for my interest in the car, but it wasn’t much of a good deal though, I had do so much work on the car and the turbo modifications,” laments Joni but it got him hooked on the delights of forced induction and has led to him building some insane machines, with this E36 being quite possibly his magnum opus.
Right now we wager there are likely to be some very angry people reading this feature; not because it’s about a turbocharged M3, no way anyone can ever be angry about that, but because Joni took an E36 M3 and decided to do this to it. But hold your horses, because it wasn’t like that at all and, whether you approve of his styling choices or not, Joni saved this BMW E36 M3, and that’s something that should be celebrated. “I was looking for a 3.2 Evo Coupé body and this came up for sale at just the right time,” he tells us. “The car was abandoned in storage, it was completely stripped down and all the parts had been sold – it was just a body without an engine and interior, and the body was in terrible condition,” and to be honest he’s really not selling it to us. The car sounds like a complete basket case, something that no one in their right mind would want to touch or take on in any way, but Joni saw something different to anyone else. “I had this wide-body turbo vision immediately when I saw it for sale. Me and my girlfriend went to see it and she told me not to buy because it was in terrible condition and she said no one can make it look and run like a car again. That was the moment when I decided to buy it and show what can I do,” he grins and he’s certainly done that.
With Joni having a very definite plan of action for the car it was just a case of working out in what order he was going to get things done, and it’s no surprise that it was the engine bay that received all of his attention first. Sitting beneath the bonnet you will find an S50B30 built by Rewon Motors and it’s about as far removed from stock as you can imagine. The block’s bore has been increased by 0.5mm, there are Nissan SR20VE CP forged pistons with heavy-duty pins, S54 H-profile con rods, an Athena Cooper Ring head gasket, ARP head bolts, S50B32 ITBs, a Rewon Motors twin-chamber plenum, turbo exhaust manifold and fuel rail, a massive Garrett GTW3884R turbo, Bosch EV14 2000cc injectors and no less than two Walbro 450lph fuel pumps, with everything overseen by a MaxxECU V1 ECU. That’s a serious selection of mods that let you know Joni was not messing around when it came to this build and the end result is frankly ridiculous, with this S50 putting out 965hp and 724lb ft at 1.65 bar of boost, which is a monster amount of power. “Everything went as planned with the engine,” Joni tells us. “Maybe the missing 40hp would be nice to have someday,” he grins, but 965hp is most definitely enough to be getting on with for now and it’s an incredible
amount of power to have on tap. Amazingly the transmission hasn’t required much in the way of bolstering to help it cope with everything that this turbocharged powerhouse of an S50 is putting out; the gearbox itself is a GS6-37DZ, a six-speed manual found in numerous BMW 20d models, and it’s been fitted with a Sachs SRE 765 pressure plate and a BlingFactory flywheel.
With drivetrain sorted, Joni now turned his attention to the interior – or rather the lack of it – in order to give his M3 a suitably nice cabin and this was no small task. “All the broken interior parts were replaced. I think the E36 M3 interior looks amazing just as it came from the factory, except the black wasn’t nearly black enough for me so I painted the dashboard, door panels and all worn parts with super-deep black paint and matt lacquer, replaced the light brown carpet with black and upgraded the stereo,” he says and while the work that’s been done is subtle, it’s definitely made a difference. That ultra-black finish, combined with the black retrimmed Vaders and black carpets, looks fantastic and there are a few additional personal touches in here as well, like that suede-rimmed RRS steering wheel with red stitching, Alcantara gear and handbrake gaiters with matching red stitching, and an AC Schnitzer handbrake handle.
No part of this project was a small area to work on because of the state that the car was in when Joni bought it, but it’s fair to say that the exterior was quite possibly the largest undertaking, especially when you take into account the transformation that this M3 has undergone. Don’t forget that when Joni bought this car the exterior was almost completely ruined, so there was a hell of a lot of work involved here, and that’s even before we get onto the wide-body. “First of all I removed all the rust and dents and then I started cutting the body and installing the Pandem wide-body with my own modifications,” says Joni and, whether you approve or not, the result is spectacular. The sheer width of the kit is incredible and the presence that it delivers is unreal, especially finished in that absolutely dazzling shade of blue – its base is San Marino but Joni has blended it with his own special recipe to make it even richer and stronger and it’s utterly gorgeous and pops like you wouldn’t believe. The finishing touch is the trims, all of which have been changed for fresh ones and they’ve been painted with Joni’s own blend of black and textured matt finish.
With the bulk of the major work finished, Joni now turned his attention to the finishing touches, but when you’re building a car on this scale even the finishing touches are a big deal and nothing matters as much as your choice of wheels. Wheels make any car and can transform even the most subtle and simple of builds into an immediate attention-grabber, but when you’ve got a wide-body M3 finished in an incredible shade of blue you need a set of wheels that won’t get lost under those monster arches and won’t lose the fight for attention, and Joni’s choice is absolutely killer. He’s opted for a set of RH Alurad RAM (X)-Rad wheels with silver centres and absolutely monster polished stepped lips, and these 19s measure a fat 10.25”-wide at the front with a +7 offset and an absolutely vast 12.5”-wide at the rear with a +2 offset, and those aggressive fitments ensure that they are able to fill out those vast arches perfectly while the retro design suits the E36’s styling oh-so-perfectly, and they look awesome.
Of course, those wheels alone wouldn’t be enough to go with this build because without a drop to get those massive arches sitting perfectly over them it would all be for naught, but don’t worry, lows were always on Joni’s mind and his setup is serving them up in spades. “I chose a BC Racing Extreme Drop coilover kit because I wanted the car to go low and static,” he says and go low it has, the end result looking absolutely awesome and it makes everything come together perfectly.
Joni’s boosted E36 M3 is an absolute beast of a build and the dazzling end result is all the more spectacular when you think about the condition this car was in when he bought it. This is a project built with no compromises and with no limits and Joni is lucky enough to have been able to do absolutely all the mods he wanted to, so hats off to him for his commitment and dedication to creating exactly the car he wanted, and building it in the space of just a few months. Of course, he’s far from finished because a man like Joni with an addiction to mods and a passion for power is never done and never satisfied, and this M3 will soon be entering its next stage of evolution. “Maybe I’ll go for air suspension (that’s a big maybe),” he says, “and I have Hartge 18” three-piece wheels with huge lips to fit, I want to widen the body more, add wings and diffusers, lower it more, upgrade the differential, and add more power,” he smiles so no matter how wild this build might be at the moment, it’s nothing compared to how it’s going to look in the near future. Beyond that Joni is already thinking about his future projects; “An E30 turbo wide-body needs to be done or an E92 335i screaming for power and chubby cheeks,” he grins and this man’s love for BMs, wide-bodies and boost knows no limits.