This BMW E36 Broke Its Engine—Then It Became a Dream Car

This might be the cleanest BMW E36 I’ve ever seen. Spectacular color combo, mint paint, and beautifully executed M3 engine swap. The owner’s story is a good one, too.

byAndrew P. Collins|
This BMW E36 Broke Its Engine—Then It Became a Dream Car
Tom Gorelik


Raised around cars, professionally trained in elite restorations, and now helping run his family's specialty auto shop—Michael Spyropoulos's gearhead resume is strong. His personal project car, a '97 BMW 3 Series, looks pretty modest from 20 feet away. But up close and under the hood, you can tell this is one of the cleanest E36s on the road.

The BMW E36 was the 3 Series of the '90s. It enjoyed a few eras of popularity within various niches of the car scene as it got older, and for a while there an E36 was a super-cheap ticket to the world of sporty rear-drive German cars. Well, until you had to start fixing it.

But it's a funny thing about car design—after a period of looking "old," some vehicles start to re-emerge on our radar as classics. That's about where the E36 is now. Not just an old car, but an emblem of its time. That makes clean examples like Spyropoulos's green coupe all the more captivating.

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I'm a huge sucker for the color scheme on this car. But the stance, the sound, the immaculate work inside and out ... there's a lot to admire before even getting to the S54 engine under the hood.

Tom Gorelik

As BMW nerds will know, the S54 is the inline-six that powered the E46 M3, Z3 M cars, and Z4 M cars. Power output varied a little depending on which of those it was in, but the M3 model claimed 333 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque.

As for how this humble 328is ended up with that engine, well, watch the video already. But I'll give you a hint: Like our friends at Donut say, cars are pain.

If your car's a pain and you're in the NY area, that shop Spyropoulos and his family's at is Pit Stop Foreign Car Service in Yonkers. They didn't ask for a plug, but, I'm always happy to celebrate outfits working to keep cool cars alive in the Northeast.

Tom Gorelik