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1995 BMW M3 GT - Sveinn Helgason

490hp turbo conversion from Luxembourg

By Dave Putty, Photography by

We like all the cars we feature. The fact we chose to feature them should make that an obvious statement but we'll also admit there are some we like more than others. And this 1995 BMW M3 GT turbo is one of them. BMW only made 356 of the M3 GT and Sveinn Helgason's has number 111. We certainly admire that he was prepared to modify a car some might consider a museum piece, but the Luxembourg native clearly prefer to enjoy his car than garage it.

Sveinn's M3 has that hard-to-define combination of subtle exterior mods paired with massive performance upgrades that never fail to raise a smile. Add to that the unicorn-status of the factory model and engine options that never came to the US, and it's clear Sveinn's car ticks all the right boxes.

The British Racing Green E36 M3 GT was tasked with a job it could never achieve: playing the role of daily-driver and track-day car that would (wait for it) never need modifications.

Yes, we've all heard that before. And some $80k later, Sveinn has once again reaffirmed the only constant found in the car enthusiast scene: thou shalt not keep any car stock.

The M3 GT had the European-spec 321hp 3.0-liter S50B30 engine under the hood, and that in itself would make for a pretty desirable for any deprived US enthusiast. But this one has been highly modified.

To start, the single-Vanos engine was fitted with the S52B32 3.2-liter head, but he didn't go all the way and use the 3.2L block. Why not? Well the single-Vanos works better with the forced induction that was planned.

We're not talking about a single turbo here: this E36 has two of them - two Garrett GT2252 turbos (with internal wastegates), to be precise.

From the referenced amount of money invested in the project, you'd be correct in thinking the S50B30/32 was built properly, from bottom to top. Jaws Motorsports forged rods were connected to forged Carillo pistons that dropped the compression ratio to 8.5:1 to aid boost and engine life.

Up top, Sveinn added a Jaws Motorsport custom tubular exhaust manifold, 750cc RC injectors, modified S50B30GT/B32 intake manifold, Supersprint exhaust system and a VEMS V3.6 standalone management system.

All these goodies add up to a very usable 490hp, and the twin little GT2252 turbos spool-up quickly to give a wide powerband - exactly what you want for street and road-course duty.

Putting all the horses to the tarmac is a combination of a Sachs Racing five-puck clutch, original ZF five-speed transmission and a 25% limited-slip diff.

Taking it from there is a set of 18x8.5" BBS RC wheels wrapped in 255/35 R18 Federal semi-slick tires (245/35 up front).

H&R Clubsport coilovers and adjustable anti-roll bars handle cornering duties, while a pair of Intrax front camber/caster plates provide alignment options.

A large chunk of Sveinn's change went toward an awesome set of brakes. Plucked from an unsuspecting McLaren SLR (not literally), the monster carbon-ceramic front rotors measure 370mm and are controlled by eight-piston Brembo calipers.

The rear brakes aren't nearly as impressive - stock E36 M3 calipers handling drilled Zimmermann discs - but only because they don't need to be as hardcore.

Inside, the E36M is all business. A pair of Recaro Pole Position fixed buckets bring support, while five-point Schroth harnesses, a Momo wheel and a Heigo rear cage create the proper environment for road and track.

Besides the gently flared rear arches, the exterior remains mostly stock. "Because that's the way I prefer it," Sveinn added before we could even ask.

Believe it or not, the M3 GT is Sveinn's daily transport. "This is my daily car, even if it looks a bit odd for me to be driving a 17 year-old, British Racing Green BMW with a rollcage and harnesses, shooting flames, while I'm dressed in a suit," he explained.

"I drive approximately 6000miles each year, which is quite a lot considering the car is often in the workshop getting new modifications." Indeed, that is a lot of driving for such a heavily modified car, but Sveinn pointed out he did most of the work himself. As a result he isn't intimidated by the prospect of something breaking. "I bought the car in 2007 as a 35th birthday gift to myself but decided it would be no good if it can't be enjoyed every day."

You're preaching to the choir, Sveinn. And we wish you many more birthdays with your BRG M3 GT turbo.

Tech Spec

1995 BMW M3 GT

Owner: Sveinn Helgason

Location: Luxembourg-Cessange, Luxembourg

Occupation: Private Banking

Engine: 3.0L S50B30 six-cylinder 24v with S50B32 single-Vanos head, 8.5:1 forged CP-Carillo pistons, Jaws Motorsport forged connecting rods, ARP bolts, ARP2000 head studs, VAC Motorsport con rod bearings, twin Garret GT2252 turbos with internal wastegates, Jaws Motorsport ceramic coated tubular exhaust manifold, modified S50B30GT/B32 intake manifold, 750cc RC injectors, in-tank Walbro 255 lb fuel pump, S50B32 upgraded fuel tank, adjustable fuel pressure regulator, custom crankcase ventilation (closed system), VEMS V3.6 standalone engine management, Zeitronix Zt2 wideband monitor, SuperSprint stainless steel exhaust

Drivetrain: original ZF five-speed transmission, 25% LSD, Sachs Racing five-puck clutch and heavy-duty pressure plate, JB-Racing lightweight flywheel

Brakes: 370x38mm carbon-ceramic Brembo/McLaren SLR front rotors and eight-piston calipers, Yellowstuff pads, stainless lines, Zimmermann drilled rear rotors with Ferodo Racing DS2500 pads, Ate SuperBlue fluid

Suspension: H&R Clubsport coilovers and adjustable sway bars, BMW lower front cross-brace, BMW E46 M3 rear strut mounts, Intrax front camber/caster plates, Powerflex bushings, M3 GT adjustable strut brace

Wheels & Tires: 18x8.5" ET38 BBS RC303 wheels, painted white, center caps deletes, 5mm front, 8mm rear spacers, 90mm wheel studs and lug upgrade, 245/35 R18 front, 255/35 R18 rear Federal 595RS-R tires

Exterior: flared rear fenders, foglight delete

Interior: Heigo rear rollcage, Recaro Pole Position seats with custom stitching, five-point Schroth harnesses, Momo MOD.07 steering wheel, Asus glovebox laptop for datalogging and wideband monitor, 7" touchscreen LCD for wideband and access to VEMS, Zeitronix LCD backup wideband

Thanks: My wife and kids, Jaws Motorsport, VEMS, Eric's Performance Parts, Renn-Reifen, Gunnar at GSTuning, Garage Marchione Luxembourg, Jorge at BMW Arnold Kontz Luxembourg, BMWKraftur Iceland, Jake and MrX

By Dave Putty
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