Beauty is a complicated entity. It is difficult to describe, as beauty manifests itself in many different forms. It is not synonymous with taste though an observer’s opinion of beauty is heavily dependent on their personal tastes. The complexity of beauty is evident in the variety of styles throughout the world; from houses to gardens and most certainly in reference to automobiles. Maybe what I’m trying to convey is that beauty is not black and white; sometimes it is black and orange.
Photos By: Pawel Czech exclusively for StanceNation.com
Damian Kowalski of Wadowice, Poland began his quest for automotive beauty with this E36 328i in the winter of 2008. He was drawn to the purposeful silhouette and ’90s styling of the popular chassis, as many are. The E36-generation of the BMW 3-series is a perennial favorite worldwide, with its sporting elements and RWD layout it has plenty to offer enthusiasts. I most definitely agree with Damian’s selection, being an E36 328i owner myself. Beauty is popular.
Aside from the deep black paint and some interior work, Damian’s project has been completed almost entirely by his own hands. This E36 convertible rides on an impressive, highly adjustable custom air suspension — it is his proudest achievement for the build. The system features independent wheel control as well as the option to toggle between fast and slow valving, utilizing two separate air tanks. With adjustable camber plates and arms front and rear, the beautiful orange OZ Futura wheels nestle merely a millimeter from the fenders. Sized 17×9.5″ +18 and 17×11″+12, the Futuras have a perfect, period-correct look with a bit of splendid color to excite the senses. Beauty can be colorful and pneumatic.
Exterior changes have been minimal, with trim and aero provided by BMW M. The OEM Hella-produced headlamps are from a French model, featuring yellow internal lenses. Over the past 5 years Kowalski took care to replace many of the wear items throughout the vehicle, in order to maintain a fresh look and like-new feel. Black kidney grills and amber-hue foglights enhance the continuity of the color theme. Beauty is often found in simplicity.
Upgraded 325mm/320mm brakes do a great job of filling the voids behind those Futura spokes. The factory-issue M52B28 remains untouched, though Damian plans on adding forced induction in the near future. A custom 40% locking 3.45 LSD adds fun and function to the driveline; as many BMW enthusiasts can testify, a well-built LSD is one of the most effective modifications one can make to a later-model non-M 3-series. Beauty is mechanical.
Of course, my personal favorite aspect of this E36 is the interior. Easily visible with the convertible top in its rightful position (down), the bright orange leather interior quickly commands your attention. The orange hide covers M3 Vader seats and flows throughout the cabin onto the door panels and the lower half of the dash. With a heavy contrast to the deep black paint and factory-issue interior components the balance is just right. Such loud upholstery likens this 3-series to newer and more exotic vehicles without looking out of place, especially with the multi-function M steering wheel, late model instrument cluster, and OEM BMW wooden trim. The package comes together with flawless execution, absolutely wonderful. Beauty is found within.
So there you have it, Damian’s concept of beauty. To him beauty is topless, slammed, and orange in all the right places — and I’m definitely not talking about a weekend at the Jersey Shore. The color choices are daring, while a rapper may be fond of black and yellow — black and orange can certainly turn out well too. This relatively simple build has got it where it counts in quality, taste, and detail with only more to come. Beauty is found in many places, but this time it’s found in Poland.