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Jack of all Trades: Baron's E36 M3

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Jack of all Trades: Baron's E36 M3

Performance Technic

What does your BMW do for you? If you had to classify its purpose in one general term, what would that purpose be? Is it a high horsepower race machine? Is it inspired by the stance/show crowd? Does it give you a thrill at the track? Usually, your car can fit into one of these categories. However, when it comes to Baron’s E36 M3, the boundaries of classification become rather blurred. This car is what I would call extremely well rounded; it’s a little bit of everything. When I say a little bit, I mean exactly that. It’s got the right amount from just about all angles: it’s aesthetically beautiful, the track is where it excels, and it’s simply sorted. 

Before going into much further detail, a little background seems necessary. Baron is no stranger to Performance Technic. In fact, his M3 is one of the first builds on the shop’s books. Back when PTech was first starting out, Baron had stopped by out of curiosity. Little did he know, it would be the beginning of a great partnership. “The shop was unlike any mechanic I had ever visited,” Baron explained. “Most shops you go to, especially if you know nothing about cars (like I did at the time), you feel very intimidated. I never got that vibe, and they even took me into the work area and showed me everything about my car.” 

Baron had originally found his affection for BMW during high school, and it came in the form of his parents’ Alipne E39 528i. He loved the element of luxury the car possessed, and decided to do some research. Once he learned about M cars, he knew he had to have one. At the time, he wasn’t sure the cost would be practical; but with the help of a friend, he stumbled upon his very first E36 M3. 

The Estoril car you see here entered the modified world in April of 2010. The project has spanned over the course of five years, and Baron says that it’s been a slow but steady process. “I wanted to go slowly, so that with each modification, I could feel the differences and get a better understanding of what the change did to the car.”  The latest edition to the car is the Stoptech Trophy Kit, which fill out the TE37s nicely. 

After the car was built into something more track ready, Baron found himself heavily involved with autocross events with the GGC BMWCCA. He had attended his first event with his original M3, and he describes that his addiction was all “downhill” from there. He currently participates in anywhere from eight to ten autocrosses per year. 

Among his favorite things about the car, the chassis styling and drivability are top. “Getting into the car and driving it, it’s out of this world,” he said. “It may not be the fastest when compared to some newer cars, but it can keep up in the turns.” With that said, this M3 isn’t meant to be the fastest. It isn’t meant to be anything absolutely mind boggling, but in a way, I think that’s the beauty of it. This car’s purpose is to deliver to its driver a fun, thrilling ride. As far as power is concerned, he has some essentials that give the car a bit more of a kick: intake, Dinan stage 2 software, and exhaust. I think there is something to be said for those who don’t build a car to be the most insane, costly project out there. This gives the driver the chance to really learn the car inside and out, to know what to expect from it, and to “pull its capabilities,” as Baron said. 

Inside the cab is a friendly combination of performance and comfort. The color matched half cage gives the car its rigidity, while the Recaros hug the driver (and passenger). All in all, the interior is a nice mixture of all the things that allow the car to be friendly to all elements of driving.

While this car is both street and track friendly in its present form, Baron’s ultimate goal is to push it into being strictly track oriented. This would mean that, while we would no longer see the car on the street, it would likely undergo surgery for a new power plant. “Many are suggesting S54,” he said, “but I’m leaning toward doing something different.” He also has plans for another car brewing. Would it be cool to say he wants to build a second E36 M3, also Estoril, but primarily for the street? The obvious answer is “yes.” If you ask why, Baron’s answer is, “Twins!” 

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When Baron set out to build this car, he envisioned a “dual purpose street/performance” car. He wanted something that he could take to an autocross day, and also canyon carve on the weekends. While his future plans may suggest that the M3 will eventually transition into the life of a dedicated track car, we’ll just enjoy it for what it is now: a well rounded, beautiful, ultimate driving machine.