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BMW M3 -project started on the 20th of July 2009

In the beginning of summer 2009 Mikko bought the BMW project from Iisalmi. Reason for building a new car to replace the loyal BMW 325 was the fewness of rallies in the autumn. Also some more power would be useful to keep up with the competition

Some upgrades compared to the old car were thought already before starting the build. The M3 will have Sparco´s chromemoly roll cage and Reiger suspension. The new shocks were already tested in the old car. There was a lo more grip with the suspension and the shock eliminated bumps better than the old ones. Things are looking very bright suspension wise even before the car is ready. Otherwise the plan is to keep things as they were in the old car by keeping the weight as low as possible and make the car easy to drive. M3 has so much power that we are not going to touch the engine expect doing some normal maintenance work and test the car on a bench.

In the first pictures the car is on the dismantling phase. As you can see from the steering wheel the car has started   it’ s life in Great Britain. Removing the steering isn’t a problem since it would have had to be modified anyway to get the driver´s seat more towards the “backseat”. This enables better weight distribution and the driver is better protected in case of an accident.

More dismantling of the M3 on 5th of August 2009

Dismantling the chassis started surprisingly fast even though the project was meant to start a bit later in the autumn.


Only things left in the chassis are gas tank, windshield and rear window. Next step is to remove the windows, cut off the spare wheel space, clean the bottom of the car and put in the roll cage. So plenty to do…

Some of the wiring has been stripped, but there still plenty left. Some of the excessive wiring in the picture. There’s no use for those in a rally car so but you can always knit woolly socks or something as Christmas presents.

Modeling the roll cage and buying parts 15th of September 2009

As you can see from the pictures some more chassis cleaning has been done and all the windows have been removed. Roll cage tubing is finding it’s place with the help of some tape. Since we want the roll cage to be a good one we leave the welding to someone who knows his business. That is going to happen during the next couple of weeks.

Some time has been used finding suitable parts. Mostly shipping stuff from the USA. A bit time consuming to arrange the shipping and waiting the parts to fly to Finland. To be honest it’s hard to imagine how the companies haven´t heard about internet banking if they don’t have online credit card paying possibility. Well I guess this is doing it “old school”… Since the car was missing a rear differential we found one from Kuopio which only 150km away. Now the only thing is to figure out whether to use 4,45 or 4,75 gearing. Shorter one gives the car “more” power, but the longer one calms the car and makes it easier to handle. When the decision has been made the differential lock has to be assembled. From the USA we are still waiting for the pedal assembly, clutch and flywheel.

The brakes at least came from LA to Mikko’s place. We decided to use Porsche Boxster’s Brembo brake calibers. Boxster calibers are being used because of easy assembly, cheap price and lightness. An added bonus is that you can use standard brake discs from and E46 323 BMW.

Roll cage has been welded and some parts gathered 5th of November 2009

Well now the roll cage has been welded in its place. One can only be grateful for the standard of the seams. We couldn’t make that level of quality with our own skills.

Because of the roll cage welding we had to cut off the chassis quite a bit. Now we would have to weld the cage  to the A and B pillars, make seat mountings, build underpan mounting, reinforcing the cooler mountings, moving the gearlever place and installing the pedals.   


When the welding is finished we have to put the chassis back into the “grill” and paint the bottom, engine bay and the interior. We are not yet sure about the exterior colour, but in everywhere else we are planning on using white.

We have been ordering a lot parts and apart from some small stuff we are only missing rims at the moment. Although a couple of thousand euros will be gone before all the little things have been purchased. One of the biggest things left in the build are the breaks because we have to rebuild pretty much everything to fit the Brembos.


Finding the needed parts has been quite easy. Finally the rest of the parts shipped from the USA have arrived. Almost all of the technical side (steering, hand brake etc) we have bought from Kai Jäntti in motorsportm3finland. In our eyes the price/quality relationship has been spot on

With the gearing we ended up using 4,45. The decision was easy to make when we came across one the other day.

The steering wheel and seats have been positioned 6th of November 2009

Now the driver’s seat is in its place. The seat’s location and therefore moving the steering wheel and pedal assembly caused some extra work. Because of safety and weight distribution the driver now sits further back from the dashboard than in a standard car. Since we are putting a lot of effort on the safety aspects we are also using earflap seats and HANS-devices. Not much extra room inside the car with the new seating arrangements, but the placing for the crew is better now

The interior has been painted and assembly starts 16th of February 2010

A long time since we made any progress with the M3. It isn´t that we have been twirling our thumbs since we build one Peugeot 206 for the stock 1600 class. Now it’s back to business and building the BMW.

Finally we can start the assembly phase. The main objective is to get the car to a rolling condition. A lot of work to do, but the build is getting more motivating now that the endless welding is finally over. Luckily the original window wipers and heating system fit on their original places. At one point is looked like those would have had to be modified.



The axles and suspension are being fitted so that we can get the car rolling and it can be more easily moved around. At this point we are no going to modify the suspension arm mountings and keep them in their original positions

Suspension and brake modeling 16th of March 2010

After the winter rallies with the Peugeot 206 our BMW M3 is progressing again. We modeled axles, suspension and brakes in their places.


Brake discs and calibers are finding their places. Originally we were thinking about having the calibers facing the rear of the car, but now they sit on the their original place. Hawk Racing Blue brake pads have been ordered and hopefully will arrive in a couple of weeks.


The fluid tanks found their places in the engine bay.

BMW has been painted 16th of August 2010

We have really taken our time on building the BMW. There hasn´t been any rallies this summer except the WRC round. That means we haven´t been in any particular hurry to get the BMW on the road. There has been some progress though. The BMW went to a paintshop where Ari Lehikoinen painted the car with Ford Focus ST orange. It took 5 hours to spary and 4 layers of paint. A big thank you to Ari who managed to do this despite +30 degrees celcius temperatures this summer! 

BMW maalattavana

Pisara Väri A Lehikoisella maalattavana

Väriä pintaan

The BMW starts to look like a rally car now that building the chassis comes to and end.

Pisara Väri A Lehikoinen. Mestari itse.

The master of airbrush himself next to the BMW. The colour looks really nice when you see it in nature. After this the BMW went to a trailer and we got on with putting some parts in their places.

Käsijarru paikoillaan.

The hand brake found it´s place inside the car. The aim is to have it in a place where you can easily pull it, but in the same time it would be in your way when you are chaging gears.

M Power omalla paikallaan

We lifted the engine into the engine bay, Now the car is in a state where you can easily build it here and there when ever you have some spare time. Not finished though. Lots of electrical work to be done and all sorts of little things.

29th of September 2010 The gearbox and lights have been mounted

The radiator has been lifted into its place in the engine bay. Next we have to build stronger mounting brackets for the cooling fan and make sure it has enough room. Oil cooler is originally in a quite vulnerable place so that might have to move to another location.

The gearbox is now in its place and the electrical wiring is ongoing. The gearbox and hand brake are fitted so that both are easy to reach, but not on each others way.

After assembling the the lights and the bumper BMW starts to look like a car again. Soon it would be about time to cross your fingers and see what happens when you turn the ignition key...

12th of October 2010 Fitting the exhaust

We put some normal road tyres on the new rally rims so that we can move the car around in the garage. This is propably the last time the rims look so shiny.

Putting on the exhaust. Some cutting and welding needed to make the exhaust fit on it´s place.

The exhaust will be built using only one muffler. Reason for this being that one other BMW driver we know has been getting really low decibels from his M3 so we are trying to manage with just one. One muffler should give the M3 real rally car sounds and naturally it keeps the weight down.

21st of October 2010 It´s alive!

The BMW engine started for the first time during our ownership. The alternator belt kept such a high whining noise that we have to check what is causing the friction. Main purpose for starting the engine was checking that all the electrical wiring works. 

The positioning of the battery is a bit too vulnerable. Have to move that inside the car.

As you can see from all the wiring a quick engine start up was needed to check that everything works. It was certain we were going to face some problems. Only challenges turned out to be one loose socket near firewall and a loose fuel pump ground connection. With the electrical wiring we had a lot of help from BMW electrical pictures available in the internet. Here is the address for all the other people out there interested in do it yourself car electrics Before pressing the "print" button it´s worth noting that the document contains over 400 pages. Now we are going to remove all unnecessary wires and make the rest as simple as possible.

We have been fighting with the electrical wiring the whole time during the build. On the first phase we threw out all the wiring not necessary in a rally car. On the second hase we made the wiring more simple. On the third and final phase we lost all patience with the original BMW wiring and after that the wiring was made simple and functional. All the fuses are in front of co-driver. Different switches including power, start, lights, radiator fan etc have been moved on top of drive shaft tunnel. The original BMW dials was removed and warning light left for oil pressure in the dash. There is a small Vapor meter showing engine revs, distance, speed and engine temperature. Only thing needed is to pack the wiring nicely inside the dash/ next to the firewall and connect brake lights.

Now the dashboard plastics are in place. Although not secured in place with srews. On the dashboard you can also see oil pressure warning light. Adding an alternator warning light is also in the plans just to be sure.

20th of June 2011

This turned out to be a surprisingly long project. Sometimes I was searching for lost motivation when there where rumours about banning the M3 in Group F. The main reason however was the very familiar one for people building cars. I decided to change this and remodel that. The current version of electrics is the fourth one! Same goes for many other parts.

This M3 was meant to be an easy maintenance and durable hobby car. That's preatty much the only thing where I kept my head cool and stuck to the plan. The engine only has chip tuning, gearbox is standard and rear differential has shorter gearing. Suspension being the most important thing and it now has Reigers in place. The suspension turned out to be really good when we quickly tested it in the previous 325 E36. Lots of people said I should buy racing gearbox, but the standard box is cheap and almost bullet proof. One of my friends has the standard box for the sixth season and it has never been opened.

One thing where a lot of time has been spend is making the car lighter. Everywhere where the regulations allow I have tried to ged rid off weight. There doors haven't been changed to aluminium ones, but that's propably the only place that hasn't been touched. The only thing left of the original electrical wiring are the engine wires. When something was changed the replacing part always tried to be lighter and/or smaller. Keeping in mind of course that it should be atleast as durable as the orginal part. The only place where we put extra weight was the fire extinguisher system. I gave it a thought for some time. Then I weighted 300 euros against burned rally car and two burned people inside it. The 300 euros didn't seem to be such an issue anymore. Same goes for the "ear flap" seats and HANS-devices. I goes your're getting old when don't even believe in your own immortality anymore.   

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