Words: Aron Norris | Photography: Alex Bednarik
From time to time, a car just comes along and knocks our little RollHard socks off, the kind of car that makes us stop what we're doing and appreciate.
What we look for in a RollHard feature car is very different to traditional magazines and websites, because, in short, we’re massive car enthusiasts and if we like a car, we just like it and we bloody well feature it. There are NO rules.
The sort of cars that make it onto our blog are usually a little different, but this time we’re breaking that trend, for very good reason…
…Because, in a car community where modified E36s are a pretty common sight, it takes something a little different to stand out from the crowd. Peter Czarnecki's E36 takes to the ring with confidence, and certainly packs punch. This is a clever build from top to bottom and there's not a chequebook in sight.
One of the most photogenic E36s ever? We think so...
For me, this is one of those cars. It grabbed our attention, that’s for sure. We were so excited to shoot this car that we had Peter stick around straight after our Belgian Chapter event in Aarschot, Belgium for photos. Now, I can be a little stubborn at times and there was no way I was letting this car leave our event before Alex Bednarik had grabbed some shots of it, and the results speak for themselves...
My favourite thing about this car is without a doubt, the colour – a cause of much confusion and intrigue. At first, I couldn’t work out where I’d seen this green before. The colour probably looks familiar to many of you reading this, not because it’s a common colour, but because it’s an OEM colour from another manufacturer, hmmm cryptic, all will be revealed…
The real reason this car isn’t a chequebook build comes down to the fact that Peter works at a car bodyshop in his hometown of Niederkassel, Germany, so when he wants a full colour change, this guy just stays late and gets it done, and that’s a nice job perk if you ask us!
This car is all about simple, OEM looks. The E36 is most definitely a modern classic in the making, thanks to it's clean 90s lines. BMW started developing the E36 in 1981 and finalised their assignment in 1988, packing the E30 off to the retirement home in the process.
The E36 range provided the early 90s entry-level luxury car sector with saloon and touring body shapes but by far the most desirable was the 2 door coupe, which is why so many coupes get slapped with the modifying stick 20 years on.
“If it looks good, it is good” is a personal mantra of mine and if you ask me, this perfectly applies to the E36 you see here – when it looks this damn good it stands tall against any competition.
When Peter bought the car in late 2015 it was in completely Cosmos Schwartz (black) stock form which meant a totally blank canvas to work with. His previous cars included an Astra F and an E36 convertible, both of which Peter had modified, so he knew exactly what he wanted with this particular car from day one. Whilst planning out his dream E36 coupe build, Peter knew he would have to make plenty of changes to the bodywork on the car, as it was a non-M-Sport with smaller bumpers and no side-skirts.
So, being a lower spec E36, Peter knew from the very beginning that he’d be in the market for a set of M-Sport or M3 bumpers and side-skirts to toughen things up in the looks stakes. After some searching he managed to find the right set in the right condition and made the purchase, transforming the looks of the E36 in one fell swoop. Peter’s plan was starting to come together very nicely.
Another item on Peter’s wish list was a GT spoiler, which for those who aren’t overly clued up on BMWs/E36s, is a rear wing is based on the OEM spoiler BMW added only to the very special and very limited edition “run out” M3 GT editions. We’ve seen this spoiler pop up on a few E36s over the years, not least our very own Alex Flanagan’s 328i coupe, which we featured a while back. The original OEM M3 GT items are hideously expensive but thankfully replica versions do the same job for a fraction of the price.
With the parts all offered up, Peter set about choosing a suitable colour for the E36. Not an easy task by any means, but a process that ended up with a Volkswagen colour. Not just any VW colour, no, this is L63Y, Manilla Green, a very rare and very cool Mk1 Volkswagen Golf colour, which was exclusive to the Canadian market only. Not a common choice by any means, but a combination which works incredibly well. E36 x L63Y might sound more like a maths equation, but it looks absolutely spot on.
As this car was always going to be about the looks, Peter wasn’t overly bothered about power output but the 2.0 DOHC 6 cylinder M50-B20 more than does the job under the bonnet and sounds great through the custom exhaust system. The ride height is dealt with via JOM coilovers and this car sits rather well as a result.
The wheels and BBS fans are a clever combination of real and replica, but no less effective. With Peter carrying out extensive arch work to accommodate 17x8.5s in the front and dishy17x10s in the rear, the outcome is almost so subtle most people wouldn't notice 30mm more arch at the front and 40mm at the rear. Wrapped with stretched tyres, the wheel and tyre combo fills the arches really rather well and the replica BBS Turbo fans complete the E36s look, with gold details perfectly contrasting against the body colour. From a distance, you wouldn’t know these weren’t the real deal.
So there we have it, not just another E36, but a product of blood, sweat and tears, built from the ground up by a guy who just loves cars. Peter Czarnecki’s E36 just goes to show that you don’t need a huge budget to deliver a knockout blow.
As good as Peter’s E36 looks, it’s clear that he built this car for one person and one person only, himself. In a project team of one, Peter called the shots and did things his way from start to finish and we share Peter’s outlook that cars are just a means to meeting new friends and having new adventures and experiences.
This is all about community.
Great ideas beat blank cheques every time and, with a little imagination, anything is possible. We salute Peter - Let his build be a lesson to us all...