BMW M3 A few months ago we were emailed by a reader who had caught sight of a particularly wild E36 M3 GTR online. He wanted to know more about it and requested our help.
As it turns out, our search was easy since the car clearly belonged to Japanese BMW specialist, Studie AG. Regular readers will be familiar with its history of producing some of the coolest BMW project cars in the world, and we've made it our goal to try and feature them all. To date, we've photographed Studie's bright blue 130i widebody, Pink E92 M3, orange 335i/M3 replica, bright green Z4 M Coupe widebody and there are others we've forgotten.
Anyway, the E36 M3 in question had all the trademarks of a Studie car - a motorsport-inspired widebody, clean exterior, competition interior, lack of stickers (very rare for a Japanese tuner) and the shop's name on the front screen - that was what gave it away!
On behalf of our reader we contacted Yasuaki Suzuki, who owns the Studie empire, and requested a photoshoot with the car. He kindly obliged and provided his brand new Tokyo store as the ideal location (see separate story on the world's coolest tuner shop).
With our limited communication skills, we were able to ascertain the history of this impressive BMW. And while it may look like its ready for a GT race at the Nürburgring, it was actually built as a road car in homage to those racers.
Unlike previous projects, such as the 130i and Z4MC, the body kit on this M3 isn't genuine BMW Motorsport equipment. In fact, the entire body kit was custom-built by Studie for the project, including both bumpers, the side skirts and all four fenders.
The body kit is an almost perfect replica of the M3 GTR built for GT racing by PTG in the American Le Mans series. However, the carbon rear wing from SARD Racing is closer to those used in European competition. Up front, the tuner also sourced a carbon hood from Japanese supplier, Varis.
The extremely wide fender flares allowed a set of 10x18" BBS GT2 wheels to be fitted. In keeping with the motorsport theme, these lightweight rollers were manufactured in magnesium to reduce the unsprung weight. However, the tires are relatively narrow to exploit the wider track but keep the car agile. In this instance they are Conti's latest SportContact 3 tires, sized 225/35 R18 front and 245/45 rear.
The Bilstein coilovers are also motorsport-derived, allowing variations in ride height and damping forces. The AP Racing brakes use four-piston calipers with 330mm rotors.
Whereas many of the Studie project cars have minor engine mods, this E36 is the exception. It boasts an Arqray stainless steel rear muffler from Japan and a Göke Carbon Technik air box from Germany. The latter is a popular motorsport application for genuine M3 GTR racers in Europe. However, the star of the show is the MoTeC M800 engine management system. Designed for modern engines such as the double-Vanos S52 3.2L engine, precise tuning of the ignition and injection maps has allowed super-fast throttle response and a higher rev-ceiling, boosting the 321hp motor to 350hp.
The motorsport theme was continued inside, where the M3 boasts a pair of Recaro SPG seats surrounded by a Weichers 12-point rollcage. Viewed through the Momo steering wheel is a custom carbon-fiber dashboard housing a Stack display with an analog rev counter and digital readouts for road speed, temperatures, etc. The tuner also provided a series of warning lights for oil pressure, brake fluid level, ABS operation, etc.
Occasionally seen wandering the streets of Tokyo, this M3 GTR must strike fear into the hearts of the domestic machinery as it traverses the crowded highways and narrow city streets. But it's another cool Euro that's bound to be winning converts in the Japanese domestic market.
1996 BMW M3
Owner: Yasuaki Suzuki
Location: Yokohama, Japan
Occupation: owner of Studie AG
Engine: 3.2 liter S52 motor with MoTeC M800 engine management system, Göke Carbon Technik air box, Arqray stainless steel rear muffler
Drivetrain: stock six-speed manual with short shifter
Brakes: AP Racing four-piston calipers front and rear, 330mm two-piece rotors
Suspension: Bilstein motorsport adjustable coilovers
Wheels & Tires: 10x18" BBS GT2 wheels with 225/35 front, 245/45 R18 rear Continental SportContact 3 tires
Exterior: Studie AG custom front and rear bumpers, fender flares and side skirts, Varis carbon hood, SARD Racing GT Wing Pro rear wing, painted BMW Alpine white
Interior: Recaro SPG seats, Weichers 12-point rollcage, Momo steering wheel, custom carbon fiber dashboard, Stack display, auxiliary warning lights