If we had to choose the best invention of the new millennium we'd give two answers: the Internet and eBay. One technology brings millions together, and the other lets us benefit from it. There is so much right about eBay's simple methodology it boggles the mind-how did we ever survive without it?
We'd been kicking the idea around for months: purchase a car from eBay and utilize its staggering database to trick it out. It was a project vehicle we could conceptualize and complete without leaving the desk. And now that Half-Life 2 is out, we've spent hours in a game coma with a death-grip on the keyboard. This would give us some exercise, a break from saving the virtual world. Yeah, exercise.
EBay beat us to the punch and designed a challenge comprised of ten teams. Each team was given $25,000 and few simple instructions: buy a car on eBay, modify the bejesus out of it with eBay-purchased goods, and several months later duke it out with our fellow contestants. Noble bastards that they are, eBay asked we auction the vehicles online and give the proceeds to Charity Cars. Established in 1996, Charity Cars is the first organization of its kind in the nation, providing vehicles that have been refurbished and redone to ensure safety and reliability, a license plate, the down payment for insurance, an emergency roadside assistance membership, a service warranty and case management services to families willing to work. Charity Cars is made up of dedicated and caring people who can change the lives of deserving families in our community.
Over the screams and moans of certain staffers, we all agreed this was a good thing, one more star for a ticket to Heaven.
Obviously, the first thing we had to do was find a vehicle. We narrowed our search down to an E36 M3. Even in stock form the M3 has style, an outstanding chassis and a 3.0-liter, 24-valve 240-hp engine. We found what we knew to be a winner in this screaming yellow example for $13,000. Sold. One problem: It was in Chicago, we are in L.A. Two one-way tickets later and we had ourselves a road trip. Woo-hoo.
The M3's original 240 horses just weren't going to cut it in this competition. To boost the count we scored an Active Autowerke stage one turbo kit. Once we had the turbo kit in hand we took it along with the intake, exhaust, wheels and tires to DAI Motorsports (AA's California distributor) in Laguna Niguel to have everything installed by ace tech Jack Dayeh. Since we were already elbow deep in the engine compartment we also had Dayeh install a lightened flywheel and an uprated clutch kit at the same time.
The somewhat high-mileage suspension was replaced with a set of coilovers from KW Suspensions. To fill the space behind the 18-inch RH wheels, shod with Michelin Pilot PS 2 rubber (225/40 fr; 255/35 rr), a 13-inch big brake kit was sourced from RPI Equipped.
A carbon-fiber hood and trunk lid from VIS Racing Sports replace the heavy steel units. To reduce weight even more the back seat was removed. Sparco Siena race seats were installed up front to cradle the driver and one passenger. Additional exterior enhancements come by way of Umnitza headlights which give a 5-Series look to the nose; a matching set of taillights was added to the rear.
Duties for the audio install fell to Serenity Auto Sound and Performance tech Thai Nguyen. Audio components consisted of a Clarion head unit, two Precision Power amplifiers, and an Alumapro Alchemy 12-inch subwoofer. A Pioneer 7-inch LCD monitor adds visuals to the audio.
When the day finally came, we took names and kicked ass, mostly. We took second in the car class (there were also trucks involved) and fourth overall. The quarter-mile time was a respectable 13.44 seconds at 107.31 mph. Acceleration from zero to 60 was measured at the same time, which we ran in 5.0 seconds. The big brake kit proved its worth too as it only took 118 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph. And with an average slalom speed of 68.5 mph, we topped all four-wheel comers in that event.
For more information on this or any of the other cars that competed visit: www.editorscharitychallenge.com.