Click above for a high-res shot of our newest project.

As regular listeners to the podcast know, Project MR-S met its untimely demise when a truck driver clipped the rear end of our 2ZZ-powered daily-driver, spinning it into the center divider with my fiancée behind the wheel. Fortunately, Melissa made it out okay. Unfortunately, said truck driver sped off and has yet to be found. Karma's a bitch, so we sleep soundly with the knowledge that what goes around comes around.

But life goes on. So with summer fast approaching, we set out to find a suitable replacement that would serve double-duty as daily driver and part-time track tool. The criteria was simple: something rear-wheel-drive, with a manual transmission, a small displacement engine and a blogger-friendly price tag. After a few weeks of research, we narrowed the list down to an NA Mazda Miata (MX-5) or something of the BMW variety. Having to install a roll bar (required for some track events) in the Miata quickly knocked it out of the running, so an E30 or E36 Bimmer became the focus of our late night, highly-caffeinated searches through Craigslist. And then, as if guided by the all-knowing entity upstairs, our friends at Modacar found a 1992 BMW 318is at an auction. It met all the criteria and had a price we couldn't pass up. Two days later, we drove it home and Project Track Slut was born.

  • Photo Courtesy of Brad @ Shutterflick.com
  • Near perfect weight distribution makes up for the lack of grunt.
  • A 40s-era tread pattern is replaced with something a bit more modern... and stiffer... with more grip... on the cheap.
  • Night and Day
  • Sexy and functional. What more can we ask for?
  • Mmmm BBS.
  • This small scrape has turned into an issue while transporting bodies in the back.
  • The office.
  • Due to legal reasons, we won't be covering the installation of the MOMO steering wheel. Our lawyers insist that showing people how to remove their airbag opens us up to litigation. However, if you do a search on the 'Net...


The goal of our newest entrant into the Project Garage is pretty straightforward (for now): take care of some basic maintenance to ensure that the 1.8-liter four doesn't go 'pop' while hammering through turn 7 at Laguna, and swap out the stock suspension and rollers so we're not scraping door handles while snaking through Thunderhill.

A few days after our purchase, we did a thorough inspection of anything that could wear -- from belts to bushings – and came away content that the 16-year-old Bimmer was up to snuff and for the planned day-long lapping sessions.



Our first order of business was to get rid of the stock pizza-cutter wheels that were wrapped with tire technology developed during the Carter administration. After spending some time scouring a few forums, we came across a set of E38 7-series wheels, sized 16x8 (with a 23mm offset) and wrapped in Falken ZE512 tires, sized 225/45R16 at all four corners. Rubbing isn't an issue, since the swap is somewhat common on E36s, but a small dent in the right-rear fender (inflicted by the previous owner, ahem) caused some occasional scraping. It wasn't common, but if we ransacked Safeway or someone over 200 pounds was forced into the back seat, we would cringe every time we hit a bump or expansion joint.


New rubber replaces tread technology from the 40s.

But it was a small price to pay. The new hoops and grippy rubber with stiff sidewalls proved the old edict that tires and wheels make the car. It's the most cost-effective upgrade, adding ease and confidence to everything from sweeping on-ramps to twisting coastal roads. Naturally, we're far from done.

In the next installment, we'll be swapping out the tired stock suspension with something that balances rigidity with civility, and rolling the rear fenders to make sure that when things get low, our rubbing issue isn't exacerbated. From there, it's all about a tune-up, new brakes, pads and lines, and some lightweight wheels wrapped in sticky summer rubber. We might even hit the junkyard to find an LSD. In early July, we'll be hitting up our first scheduled track event to see how the car and our mods are fairing, providing continuous updates and technical tidbits throughout. Stay tuned. Fast, cheap fun is on the way.

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