Business or BMWs? For Ryan Gangemi of Monterey, CA, he put himself through school seeking a business degree, "but it didn't pan out," he told us. "I didn't like school and my passion was cars. I found out by becoming a tech that I could still make money and do what I love."
Ryan's career shift redirected his studies towards the complexities of automotive engineering and design, and shortly before graduating from college he became a BMW tech. For the past four years, he's continued in the BMW scene and built three incredible project cars, including this '92 325i Convertible.
"This is my third big project," Ryan said. "I had an E30 M3 with 19" wheels, bored and stroked motor, carbon airbox, flared fenders - basically everything. I also built a '87 535is with 17" M3 wheels, suspension, built motor and a full repaint."
Despite this experience, the Convertible proved to be a challenging endeavor. When Ryan purchased the car it already had a rebuilt motor and turbo. "The previous owner did a half-ass job on the rebuild," he claimed. So Ryan started piecing together a new motor, but was unexpectedly rear-ended on the freeway before he was able to complete it. "The car was totaled, so I went out and bought a car just like this one," he disclosed. "It was the exact same color and model, everything."
After finding an identical twin, Ryan took apart the 2.5 liter motor and overhauled it with quality parts. "If I wasn't rear-ended, the car would have given me problems later down the line. The previous owner did everything in the cheapest possible way. When I tore the motor apart, it already had a cracked piston ring - it wasn't going to last."
The only thing Ryan kept from the previous build was the idea of forced induction. The motor was bored to 2.6 liters using JE pistons. Forged M50 rods, an M20 crankshaft, a metal head gasket and Metric Blue head bolts ensured a resilient engine capable of withstanding boost.
"I chose to run a large T70 turbo with ball-bearing internals," Ryan said. "I wanted lots of boost but no back pressure, since it's easier on the motor. So I also fabricated 2.5" piping and a tubular exhaust manifold modified for an external wastegate."
For fueling, 42 lb injectors were installed, along with a Walbro 255 lph pump and adjustable fuel pressure regulator. The revamped motor put down 305whp on the dyno.
After this initial power measurement, Ryan implemented MegaSquirt's standalone fuel management, as well as water injection. So more horsepower is undeniably there, but Ryan has yet to return to the dyno to re-evaluate.
For the transmission, the five-speed from his previous 325i was used. To handle the extra power, he installed a Spec stage 3 clutch and JB Racing 8.5 lb flywheel.
The suspension was also carried over from his previous car. Ryan had designed a custom coilover kit from C3-Motorsport using 500 lb front and 800 lb rear Eibach springs matched to Koni SA shocks. Vorschiag camber and castor plates guarantee that the suspension is tuned accurately for his driving adventures, while RD Sport sway bars reduce the amount of body roll through corners.
Ryan had successfully developed an excellent performance package for this elderly E30, but still needed to address the styling. "Five months after I got the car running, I was involved in another accident," he revealed. "Since it needed bodywork, I decided to repaint and flare the fenders. The fronts are 3/8" wider and the rears are 1/2" wider. I went through everything to make it perfect again. It was then painted a newer three-stage Alpine white that uses a clearcoat rather than it being a plain color. It also has less yellow in it than the original white paint."
Additionally, Ryan shaved the door locks, washer nozzles and side markers for a sleeker appearance. The headlights are Euro ellipsoid units with 6500k HID bulbs. Finally, the side grilles and rear plate recess were ditched for Euro pieces.
For wheels, Ryan decided to try the Japanese brand Work. "The wheels were air freighted from Japan before Bimmerfest," he mentioned. "I wanted wheels for the show but Work told me they were out of stock on silver centers, so I got gold instead. Even though they weren't my first choice, I'm really happy with how they turned out."
The 17" VS-XXs measured 8" wide in the front and 9" in the rear, easily filling the pulled fenders. Goodyear Eagle GS-D3 tires were then mounted, providing ample grip for the street.
With the Convertible complete, Ryan enjoys driving it every day, but admits it's become impractical for daily use. So he plans to sell it and move on to something else in the BMW family. And we're confident the fourth project will be just as glorious, thanks to this technician's touch.
Tech Spec1992 BMW 325iOwner: Ryan GangemiLocation: Monterey, CAOccupation: BMW Technician
Engine: 2.5 liter 12v i-6 bored to 2.6 liters with forged JE pistons, forged M50 rods, M20 crankshaft, MLS head gasket, Metric Blue head bolts, upgraded bearings and oil pump, T3/T4 Super T70 ball-bearing turbocharger, tubular polished manifold, modified 38mm external wastegate with 3" stainless downpipe, front-mount intercooler with 2.5" intercooler piping, 50mm blow-off valve, Megasquirt V2.2 fuel management, custom software, Walbro 255 lph in-tank pump, 42 lb injectors, adjustable FPR, Cooling Mist water injection
Drivetrain: five-speed manual with JB Racing 8.5 lb flywheel and Spec stage 3 six-puck clutch
Suspension: C3 Motorsport coilovers, 500 lb front, 800 lb rear Eibach springs, Koni SA shocks, RD Sport front and rear sway bars, Vorschiag camber and castor plates, M3 offset control arm bushings
Brakes: Brembo rotors and PBR ceramic pads front and rear
Wheels & Tires: 17x8" front, 17x9" rear Work VS-XX wheels with 215/40-17 front, 245/35-17 Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3 tires
Exterior: M-Technic 2 front and rear valances, side skirts and spoiler, shaved door locks, washer nozzles and side markers, flared fenders, PPG Alpine Weiss paint, smoked Euro ellipsoid headlights with 6500K HID bulbs, OE Euro grilles and rear plate filler, Shadowline trim
Interior: black interior with "M" embroidered in seats, Momo steering wheel, M pedals
Audio/Visual: Blaupunkt Business CD radio
Thanks: John Sautto at 212 Body & Restoration, Jason Steele at C3 Motorsport, Adam at WeakSauce and my girlfriend Lisa Wojcik