The Beauty of Balance // Masatoshi Sakuma BMW E36.

The E36 chassis BMW has an interesting place in the euro car scene, for many years (and to this day for some) BMW enthusiasts have shunned the E36 as the ugly stepchild. It holds a place between two of the most beloved sport coupes of all time, the E30 and the E46 and more specifically the M3 variants of those chassis. For the JDM car nuts, it’s something like an R33 Skyline. A great car that was forgotten in the shadow of both the younger and older siblings that found cult car status much easier.

As the years have gone on and the previous generation cars have become much more difficult to acquire, the E36 has started to gain it’s own religious group of followers. Nothing attests to that theory quite like seeing a euro spec car heavily modified on the streets of Japan. That’s exactly what Masatoshi Sakuma has done with his own 1994 BMW 318is, as well as a handful of others for customers of his shop in Fukushima, WILD LINE.

Exterior changes are mostly minimal, with one huge exception. This car has a rear fender radius job that completely changes the look of the car in the subtlest way possible. When you lower the E36, it becomes very apparent that the rear arches are cut much lower than the front. This creates a strange optical illusion that makes the car look like the front is raised up when the car sits level at the rockers. It’s one of those details that most people don’t notice. But, once you do, it’s very obvious. Sorry to ruin some great cars for all of the readers! Anyway, other bullet points for Masatoshi’s car on the outside include shaved foglight grilles in the bumper and a gorgeous repaint in the factory Morea Green paint.

Nothing quite blends together like a well-sorted euro car and a set of BBS mesh wheels. This BMW is no exception, running a perfectly spec’d set of BBS LM’s, 17×9 +3 up front and 17×9 -12 in back. They’re wrapped in a staggered 195/40 and 205/40r17 tires, respectively. Masatoshi has this car on the ground thanks to Air Lift Performance air ride.

It’s not for everyone, but personally I’m a huge fan of the fender to lip fitment and the way this car sits flat out from the side. I’d say the owner couldn’t have done any better on the overall fitment/stance. It’s a seamless transition visually, everything working together to make the car look as smooth and sleek as possible.

Since this car is a simple/clean build, not a wild show stopper that can’t be driven, the rest of the modifications run in line with the exterior. Very simple with a perfect blend of precision. The engine bay is OEM looking and clean, with some paint matched parts and nothing else to ruin the aesthetic. Inside, more custom color that looks like it should have come from the factory, a Nardi steering wheel, and a BMW Performance shift knob are all it needs to impress occupants.

Here’s my broken record moment. If you’ve read any of my articles, you know what I’m about to say. Simple cars put together for fun with quality parts always work. The recipe is easy; the execution however, is not always that easy. Masatoshi puts it perfectly, “my car demands simpler and more beautiful things. I made it to pursue the beauty of balance.” To me, that’s the statement of a car person that completely gets it. Good work sir, thanks for sharing your creation with the world!