Turn the back the clock six or seven years, and most of the young guys modifying Euros here in New Zealand were doing so by dropping them on big chrome wheels, and calling it a day. Engine work was not that popular, as most of these cars simply served as Saturday-night cruisers. But as the years ticked on the scene has evolved, and those same guys have begun the quest for speed. Gone are the chrome wheels, and in their place came roll cages and power.
One of the most popular models to ‘hot rod’ has been the E46 BMW, thanks to the fact it not only looks good, but you can pick one up relatively cheaply, and the rather large engine bay lends itself to all manner of conversions from LS V8s through to a 13B rotaries.
Jesse Remkes is one of those guys who got the Euro bug. His 320i E46 sedan has been on a journey of evolution over the past seven years of ownership, and ended up as a refined streeter with the heart of a lion.
This is actually Jesse’s second E46, as the self-confessed hoon managed to write off the first. But there was unfinished business, and he knew he had to build another, so he picked up a bone-stock 320i sedan in black. Like many Euros of the time, it was soon slammed on big shiny wheels, and even had the full sound system complete with head restraint–mounted TVs. Yip, it was a certified Euro cruiser through and through. The only real problem was that it was never really able to roll five deep, as any more than one passenger resulted in severe guard rub, as Jesse explained. “It’s pretty much rubbed since the day I bought it, so the back seat has never been used. It even had TVs that no one could look at. My dad was also at me to put a cage in it, so I priced one up and got it done.”
This set the tone for the interior, a tightrope walk between race and street. The seats and cage might be saying race, but the suede trim and lack of harnesses remind you of its true purpose. Don’t for a second think the race parts are for show though, as there are more than a few ponies hiding under that hood. Like the rest of the build, it’s been a steady progression which first began with 5psi of forced induction thanks to a Toyota SC14 supercharger and a piggyback ECU. Although that combination only netted small power gains, it did provide a great torque increase for the factory four-cylinder. However, over time the added boost began to do things to the engine that alerted Jesse to an imminent explosion.
Not one to mess around, he began researching new power-plant options, and he stumbled upon some 2JZ engine and gearbox conversion mounts on eBay. An engine was found in Christchurch and shipped north to the Bay of Islands with the help of friends, ATJ Drift, who were in Christchurch at the time. The engine-mount kit also arrived, and although it was rough and not really what he expected, after a little reworking the 2JZ and R154 gearbox were soon in, and he was onto the next stage of making all the bolt-ons fit.
Now, if he’d been dealing with most JDM 2JZ host engine bays, Sinco Customs would have had a jig, but they did not have one for a BMW. However, armed only with a bunch of the photos Jesse provided, it put together a manifold to house the Garrett GT35. The 2JZ received a bunch of custom components from DKM, including the intake manifold, and Convert Motorsport then took charge and wired in the Link G4 Black edition, along with a complete new loom, and also supplied one of its bellhousings to finish the manual conversion. With the goal set at 400kW at the wheels, six 1000cc Bosch injectors were installed, along with a Bosch 044 pump.
By the time you read this the car might have made it back onto the dyno for a power run or two. Jesse was clear that if the GT35 — which is kind of an unknown — doesn’t perform, a larger item will soon replace it in order to reach that power goal.
Making that sort of power means the driveline will be under some pressure, and knowing this Jesse has gone and raided Hell BM for as many E46 330i parts as possible, including the bigger diff and axles, plus the sway bars and brakes. It’s a combination that has the sedan handling right, and Jesse should have no issues putting all that expected power to the ground.
It’s been a long two-and-a-half years in the build, with a few roadblocks for the team to work through, but Jesse stuck it out, and we’re sure you will agree the end result is well worth it. This is a true street car, versatile enough to hit a local track day, or head to the beach on a Sunday arvo, and it will look good doing either.
With the build now all but finished, it’s on to getting it certed and finding out what a 400kW E46 handles like through some of Jesse’s favorite Northland roads.
1999 BMW 318i (E46)
- Engine: Toyota 2JZ-GTE, 3000cc, six-cylinder
- Block: Factory
- Head: Factory
- Intake: Four-inch intake pipe, Aeroflow pod filter, custom intercooler piping, custom plenum, 90mm throttle body, 600x300 intercooler
- Exhaust: Three-inch steel system, heat wrapped, three-inch Flowmaster muffler
- Turbo: Garrett GT35, Sinco Customs manifold
- Wastegate: 44mm MVR wastegate
- BOV: 50mm Race Port blow-off valve
- Fuel: Bosch 044 fuel pump, Turbosmart fuel reg, six 1000cc Bosch injectors
- Ignition: MicroTech X6
- ECU: Link G4 Extreme black series
- Cooling: Fenix radiator, Fenix oil cooler, electric fan
- Extra: Three-bar MAP sensor, Link boost-control solenoid, semi deloomed, custom oil catch can, remote oil filter set-up, Turbosmart clamps, braided lines
- Gearbox: Toyota R154 five-speed, Niteparts push converter bell housing kit
- Clutch: Exedy five-puck
- Flywheel: Niteparts lightweight
- Diff: E46 330i medium-case diff and axles
- Struts: BC Gold BR Series (F) 12kg spring (R) 14kg spring
- Brakes: (F) E46 330i calipers and rotors, TSW pads (R) E46 330i calipers and rotors, TSW pads
- Extra: Hardrace bushes, custom camber arms, 330i E46 sway bars
- Wheels: (F) 19x9.5-inch VarrsToen ES2 (R) 19x10.5 VarrsToen ES2
- Tyres: (F) 225/35R19 Toyo DRB (R) 245/35R19 Toyo DRB
- Paint: Resprayed in factory black
- Enhancements: E46 M3–style front bumper, E46 M sport rear bumper, pumped guards, tinted windows, aftermarket indicators, angel-eye headlights
- Seats: Replica Bride seats, NZKW rails
- Steering wheel: NZKW steering wheel, NRG quick-release hub
- Instrumentation: Prosport oil temp, oil pressure, boost, volt gauges
- ICE: JVC DVD head unit, Soundstream speakers
- Extra: Bolt-in half cage
- Power: Still to hit the dyno
- Driver/owner: Jesse Remkes
- Age: 25
- Location: Kerikeri
- Occupation: Plasterer
- Build time: 2.5 years
- Length of ownership: Seven years
- Thanks: DKM Fabrication, Tony from Orewa Panelbeaters, a big thanks to Brendan and JP from Convert Motorsport, Hell BM, and the bros Aron, Haratua and George for the helping hand
This article originally appeared in NZ Performance Car Issue No. 232. You can pick up a print copy or a digital copy of the magazine below: