The car in the video above started life as a simple 1995 BMW 325 sedan. It was heading to the scrapyard when Carl Balzer, owner of Hidden Motorsports, found and bought it, hoping to turn it into something much more fun to drive. We wager that say he achieved his goal with this tuned E36. He didn’t buy it in its stripped-down state, but the project snowballed into what it is today.
While the BMW looks like it has seen better days in the new Top Gear video, especially some of the remaining body panels, the build is safe, and NHRA-certified thanks to the roll cage, harnesses, and safety seats. According to the owner, he designed it to go quicker than eight seconds legally, and it certainly has the power-to-weight ratio to do that.
Powering the sedan is a twin-turbocharged LS engine that couldn’t be contained with a typical hood. The street-legal BMW makes 1,200 horsepower (894 kilowatts), sending power to the rear wheels through a T-56 Magnum transmission and a rear differential from an M5. It also runs on E85.
Once Balzer completed the build, he drove the car to the Ohio State Patrol for a proper inspection. He wanted to make sure the car was road legal, and almost all of it was, except the exhaust, which the police deemed too loud for public roads. Everything else was up to snuff, including the exterior lights.
Rob Dahm, Top Gear’s tuning correspondent, gets behind the wheel in the video, taking the BMW to Flat Rock Speedway south of Detroit for some fun at the track. It didn’t go as planned, though, with Dahm’s smoky drifts nuking the differential and leaking fluid on the course. However, it wasn’t the end of the outing as the car was still drivable, Dahm took it back out for even more drifting action.
BMW never designed the E36 to handle 1,200 horsepower from a beastly American V8, but Balzer made it happen. It took time to build, and while the car evolved from a drag racer into a drift machine, its true purpose did not. According to Balzer, “The point of the car is to have fun.”