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1992 BMW 320i - Too Nice To Drift

When You Make It Look This Good Yourself, You Wouldn't Drift It, Either

Austin Lott
Aug 21, 2019
Photographer: Jack Howells

Sometimes you have it all figured out from the beginning. The project car goes from idea, to purchase, to vision in a linear fashion. Niels Christiaens started off building this '92 BMW 320i into a drift project, but when things went sideways, it wasn't as literal as he had planned. "After some serious mods, I decided the car was too expensive of a build to drift it!" he tells us.

1992 BMW 320i USDM M GT Wing Photo 17/17   |   1992 BMW 320i - Too Nice To Drift

Coughing up the hard-earned cash for this kind of project might make you think twice about taking it out drifting and tapping a wall. The Belgium native, however, had a much more personal reason to think twice: He did all the labor himself, including the bodywork. Niels is a welder by trade but admits he basically had no idea what he was doing when it came to aesthetics. You sure wouldn't know it, though!

The Felony Form four-piece widebody kit is one of the few "bolt-on" options for the E36 that extends the arches 45mm from factory. However, the fiberglass fenders do require some trimming and filling to get 'em to line up with the body perfectly, which Niels revealed was one of the hardest things he's ever done.

1992 BMW 320i M50 Valve Cover Photo 17/17   |   1992 BMW 320i - Too Nice To Drift

After the fenders were finished and things like the U.S.-spec M3 front bumper and GT rear wing were installed, he had his E36 wrapped in Nardo Grey, a color made popular by Volkswagen and Audi.

1992 BMW 320i Ferari Speedline Mistral Wheel Photo 17/17   |   1992 BMW 320i - Too Nice To Drift

Next, Niels had to get the stance just right for his drift-car-turned-street-car. A set of KW Variant 1 coilovers was modified by Kean Suspensions to get the car down to where the BMW sits perfectly. For wheels, well, they're a bit unorthodox. A good friend offered him something truly unique: a set of 17-inch Speedline Mistrals-OEM Ferrari wheels commonly found on the Testarossa and 308 GTB/GTS. The three-piece wheels were modified with wider barrels, resulting in 8.5 inches up front and a whopping 11.25 inches out back. A set of wheel adapters accepts the odd 5x108 bolt pattern of the BMW, and the results are nothing short of stunning.

1992 BMW 320i M3 Dashboard Photo 17/17   |   1992 BMW 320i - Too Nice To Drift

Inside the cabin, you can tell Niels was going for the drift look. The hydraulic handbrake is offset by the flocked dash and carbon-fiber center console pieces. There's also a set of cradling Sparco seats, a small-diameter Sparco steering wheel, and a custom rollcage.

Niels admits his 320i doesn't have a lot of power, but its 2.5L straight-six has been rebuilt to be reliable and lightly upgraded with cams and valves from the 2.8L iteration of the same engine.

1992 BMW 320i USDM M3 Front Bumper Photo 17/17   |   1992 BMW 320i - Too Nice To Drift

So while this project didn't turn out to be the drift missile it was originally intended to be, it does have a character of its own with modified Ferrari wheels, an Audi-inspired wrap, and priceless hours spent by its young owner to make it one of the coolest BMW builds in Europe right now.

1992 BMW 320i US Spec M3 GT Wing Photo 17/17   |   1992 BMW 320i - Too Nice To Drift

 

1992 BMW 320i US Spec M3 Front Bumper Photo 17/17   |   1992 BMW 320i - Too Nice To Drift
By Austin Lott
26 Articles
1992 BMW 320i - Too Nice To Drift
Tuning Menu
Owner: Niels Christiaens
Hometown: Belgium
Occupation: Optical Welder
Engine: Rebuilt M50B20 block; M50B28 valves; custom camshafts, K&N intake; Inox exhaust
Drivetrain: Five-speed manual transmission
Footwork & Chassis: KW Variant 1 coilovers with custom springs by Kean Suspensions
Wheels & Tires: 17x8.5 front, 17x11.25 rear Ferrari Speedline Mistral wheels; 165/45R17 front Nankang tires, 225/45R17 rear Hankook tires; custom wheel adapters
Exterior: USDM M3 front bumper, GT wing, GT window spoiler, taillights; carbon-fiber kidney grille; Felony Form widebody arches; Avery Dennison Nardo Grey wrap by Wrapjunkies
Interior: Sparco R333 seats and steering wheel; Driftworks quick-release hub, shift knob, and hydraulic handbrake; Sabelt six-point harnesses; custom rollcage; flocked M3 dashboard and door cards; carbon-fiber dash trim, center console, handbrake; JBL speakers

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