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BMW 325

Bimmer´s story by Mikko:

Making a rally car out of 325 started to interest when I read stories about then new BMW 325 class. BMW has lots of good qualities when considering from rallying point of view: the engine doesn´t need much tuning, transmission has short gearing, lots of parts easily available and before all with reasonable price. The biggest problem with the car is the heavy weight, mostly because of six cylinder engine and modern(?) chassis.

My previous rally car (Opel Manta) was sold fast so it was easy starting to look for a base car. It didn´t take long when I found a suitable 325 coupe from Northern Sweden. The car was well equipped so there were lots of parts for sale. And even though the price was higher than in normal spec model I counted it was worth while to pick the car from Sweden. So then one morning at 3am in -25 degree temperature I towed a trailer towards Haaparanta. From Haaparanta there was still 40km to Ylitornio in Sweden.

In Ylitornio I spent a couple of hours checking the car and filling the necessary paperwork. Luckily I had a trailer that was able to get the lowered BMW onboard. Still it needed some gimmicks to get it done. Half past 8pm I was back in Joensuu with the BMW. Have to admit that it was quite a drive for one day. The journey totalled 1200km (about 750 miles). 

Coupe´s chassis is most likely a bit lighter than sedan´s  and atleast in my eyes better looking. I also thought the regulations of the 325 class a bit too tight (the roll bar is more tightly regulated, brakes and steering has to be left alone). All the spare time during the left of the spring went by nicely building the car. The was a lot of parts to dismantle and to be sold. I got rid of all the parts sooner or later.

Next summer we had the first chance to test the car. And the test was quite a shock. Compared to Manta it felt like changing a race car to a local bus. The brakes (only the pads had been changed) were terrible, with standard steering and the front of the car was setup too low. Even the missus saw it in my face back home that everything wasn´t OK. I have to admit that it crossed my mind to sell the car right away. To second test session I removed power assistance from the steering and lifted the front of the car. Now the car felt a bit better, but still the steering felt too slow. I simply didn´t have the nerve to drive sideways and the brakes felt to be too forward biased.

Before the first rally in Imatra I didn´t have a chance to do any more setting up for the car so the plan was to drive carefully. We stuck to the plan and drove so slowly that I felt embarrassed. I thought that how could anybody drive any slower. Well we weren´t last, but not far off either. 
We went to rally in Vilppula with the same game plan as to Imatra. Better setup for the car was scheduled to be done during the winter. Noy much of a result from Vilppula. On the second special stage we took a wrong line over a crest and started to "float" on wet mud covering the road. When going of the road I managed to aim the car into a ready whole in the forest. We weren´t the first ones taking the same line into the forest.

Somehow the long waited winter caught us by surprise and we only managed to enrol to rally in Iisalmi early spring. Now the BMW had the same parts as nowadays, except the brakes were too rear biased. Also mild winter and lack of snow caused the testing to be minimal. Looking for braking points was difficult, the roads more bumby than normally (that was the same for everybody) and the rear of the car was setup way too soft for those roads.

Nowadays the BMW starts to feel good to drive and the more I drive the better the car feels. Only if I would have the routine to transport the speed I have in the test to the real special stages i would be possible to have a decent result. Atleast the car isn´t to be blamed for the lack of speed. All we need is the driver to drive as if in the test stage and it´s going to be all OK. 

BMW mechanics->

In front Kittelä´s Bilstein dampers, in the rear WP´s  adjustable dampers, hard rubber bushings, in the rear adjustable radius arms by Porttikivi. Quick steering by Sellholm.
Ferodo 3000 pads all around, rear brake calibers from BMW 523 E39 (lighter material aluminium vs iron), bedalbox ja hydraulic handbrake.
Exhaus header from BMW 523 E39, changed because of the weight. Flywheel lighter steel version. Exhaust 2,5" with one muffler.
Stock, except shorter throw on the gearlever.
Rear axel:
Original lock and 4.45 gearing.
Roll bar made so that it goes all the way from front damper mountings to rear damper mountings. Chassis made lighter by removing all sound insulations and unnecessary clamps. Glassfibre bumpers. Spare wheel space removed from the trunk. Underpan from 10mm thick aluminium. Door interior faces out of aluminium.
Lighter battery, all the extra wiring removed, viscous coupling changed to Volvo´s electric coupling (it´s narrow enough to fit between the radiator and the engine).

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