Steven Appleby

STEVEN: BMW e36 323i

Q. Have you always been into cars from a young age or is it something you have grown into and how?
A. My dad’s always been in to watching F1, from a young age I’ve always enjoyed watching it too, the speed and the sound used to amaze me, I guess that’s what got me started on taking a liking to nice cars that I would see around on the streets.
Then my sister’s boyfriend when I was about 10 had a Vauxhall Nova with a few bits done to it.
As I got older it somehow rubbed off on me and I became more interested in different scenes and in to wanting to modify cars.

Q. What age did you pass your driving test, 1st attempt?
A. I had my first lesson on my 17th birthday which was just before winter, after the weather got better I had a couple more lessons and past my test first time.

Q. what was Your first car, Make model colour?
A. Obviously with how bad insurance hits young drivers these days there wasn’t that many cars I could get insured on.
My first car was a 2006 MK3 Renault Clio, lowered on AP coilovers, 16X8J Rota Grid Vs, I changed the seats for a pair of Clio 197 Renault sport seats and threw a couple Rockford Fosgate subs in the boot.
It was painfully slow but like anyone I had a lot of fun in it and it was a nice looking car.


Q. How many cars have you owned to date?
A. To date I have owned 7 cars, most of which have been for very brief periods of time in the last 12 months:

• MK3 Renault Clio 1.2
• MK2 Mazda MX5 1.8i S
• E39 BMW 523i SE
• B5 Audi A4 2.5 v6 TDI Quattro Sport
• MK1 Mazda MX5 1.8i
• Vauxhall Vectra B SXI
• E36 BMW 323i SE

Q. Has there been an all-time favourite, And why?
A. I’ve always been a jap fanboy at heart and my absolute favourite has always been a Nissan Skyline, either the original Hakosuka, an R32 or an R34 would be a dream to own and I aim to own one eventually.
As for a reason why, honestly I have no idea, but for as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted an R34, probably because of its aggressive shape.
Q. What is your current car/cars? and how long have you owned it/them?
A. Currently I own an E36 323i Saloon with some work already done to it. As it is I’ve only owned it about a week but so far I absolutely love it.
It isn’t perfect, it has a couple daft problems, but that’s always the case with buying old used cars, it’s a labour of love.


Q. Your current car, was it by choice or accidental ownership / what made you decide on your current car?
A. It was sort of by choice and a sort of an accident. Since getting rid of my E39 I always wanted another BMW, and the E36 is something that always appealed to me.
In the weeks leading up to my purchase I was looking at E36’s but was really after a coupe. But everywhere I looked this saloon kept popping up for sale, then a friend of mine tagged me in a sale post on facebook and there it was again.
So I decided to go for a look and in hindsight so far I think I made the right choice to buy it.

Q. Do you think there has to be an element of passion and individuality with owning certain cars and why?
A. I think there’s a lot of cars that ordinary people would look at and would think it was pointless to own, or couldn’t justify owning it for whatever reason. Say for example with myself, my parents don’t understand why I keep buying what in their eyes are “old, unreliable” cars.
I think it’s down to passion and individuality that creates a difference in opinion on what makes a good car and why everyone has different tastes and leads people to owning certain cars.
In some cases, that may come from things like childhood memories of a relative’s car, but its reasons like this that grow in to passion.

Q. How much time and money have you spent on your car?
A. Like I say I’ve only had the E36 just over a week, so I haven’t put anything in to it yet other than fuel, but with all the plans in my head I get a feeling it’s going to get very expensive and time consuming sometime soon!


Q. How important to you is making your car your own?
A. A lot of people like to buy cars with the work already done, saves them the money, time and hassle. Like this E36 I’ve bought it already has all the common aesthetic mods done, but it won’t be staying as it is.
To me the build is the fun part, putting in your effort and time to something that gives you more of a connection to your car, and gives you a sense of achievement once it’s done and you can look at it and see it as a reflection of your personality and what you wanted from it.

Q. What have been the last 3 modifications done to your car?
A. With my current car I haven’t owned it long enough to do anything, my last car the Vectra I owned temporarily was just to get to work and back so I never did anything with it. Before that I owned a mk1 mx5 for a few months, when I got it, it looked like it was sat on stilts, so I had coilovers fitted, then the 16″ wheels looked ridiculous so I fitted some 14’s too, then fitted a nice stainless steel centre pipe and backbox to give it a nicer note.

Q. What will be the next modification?
A. At the minute I’ve got a few little niggles to fix, once these are done I plan on having the arches rolled to give a bit more clearance to the wheels and get the speakers upgraded as the standard ones are terrible!


Q. Do you try and do some of your own work on the car …if not who takes care of that for you?
A. I try to do stuff that I know I can do, or with the help of friends as long as it’s not too challenging and we’ve got the right tools.
Anything mechanical I have a good friend who I trust to do any work out of my capability and any other bits I need doing I’ll use local companies that I know and trust, so say for speaker and interior upgrades I’d use Bassmechanix.
Check Out BassMechanix here.


Q. How often do you wash or polish and clean your car?
A. That depends on how much I like the car ha-ha! Some of them I’ve been pretty careless about and have just gave a wash when they’ve been dirty, but in the week I’ve owned it I’ve washed the BMW about 4 times now, the Boston Green is such a nice colour when looked after!

Q. Have you got a favourite brand of car cleaning products?
A. There are a few big names that I like and use, such as Dodo Juice for wax, Poorboys polish.
But at the same time I’d rather support local business to help out friends, Tamz is a great local brand whose products I highly rate, and newly on the market Element 7 Performance – which I’ve been using a lot recently being good friends with them and the R&D that’s went in to the products has been a lot and it shows in the quality of the products they’ve so far released.


Q. Have you got any personal tips or tricks on your car care routine?
A. A lot of the time I’m quite lazy and try to get it cleaned as quickly as possible, but other than that it’s just standard practice, Snowfoam, shampoo with 2 bucket method, wheels, polish and wax.
Other than that in terms of care I religiously check tyre pressures and service the car around every 3 months.

Q. Have you changed any of your cars original audio / if yes what exactly?
A. So far I haven’t, other than it has a none standard head unit in, but I’ve been talking to Monty at Bassmechanix about we can be done to drastically improve the E36’s terrible standard system!


Q. If you had to choose a scene i.e. jap / euro / oe / slammed/stance / horse power chaser / hot hatch etc. Or similar what scene would you choose?
A. Jap scene has always been my favourite, I’ve always preferred jap manufacturers over European/American etc. although I do like the look of a clean OEM styled car.
But more than just the cars with the Jap scene, its more the whole attitude and approach that seems to be shown in Japan, where they seem to focus on positives and just doing their own thing, instead of being highly critical and following the crowd which is the impression that shows from certain other scenes.

Q. Do you follow any motorsport or watch any car related TV programmes or go to any live events or shows, if so what?
A. I like to watch F1 when I’m free the same weekend as an event. Other than that the main motorsport I follow is drifting, I tend to watch the livestreams of the BDC events and the IDC occasionally.
I like to go watch the practise drift days at Teesside Autodrome on bank holiday Mondays, being free for spectators it’s a good way to spend a day. A lot of the time I tend to go to car shows, either local or any big ones around the UK.

Q. what forums / social media or car clubs are you a member of?
A. I’m a member of a lot, far too many to list them all!
But the main ones I regularly use or look for parts to buy.
All On Facebook:
• Summer MaDDness
• German Roots
• Element 7 Performance
• Beemers Northeast
• E85 Society
• SlammedSocial

Q. What is your top 5 car orientated websites?
A. My all-time No.1 website for media/coverage and features is Speedhunters.
The variety and the quality of the articles are amazing.
No.2 would have to be Stance:Nation – because again some of the articles they write are fascinating although there’s not as much variety to the style there’s a lot of awesome cars featured.
3rd choice would be Stanceworks – being a big BMW fan it’s good to see some of the builds of the original shapes being restored to such a high quality.
4th would probably be – some good quality features of drifting events and cars from all over the world, including plenty of videos to help pass the time.
5th one – I like the Driftworks website, although the blog isn’t updated all that regularly but the forum is good and the shop has some nice products in.


Q. In your dream car garage, what would you choose for…
1 Commuting vehicle = Rolls Royce Phantom – if I had a long commute I’d want to be as comfortable as possible, what could be better?
2 Family vehicle = BMW X5M – soft spot for them, such a beautiful car and plenty space.
3 Sunny day vehicle = Aston Martin Vanquish Volante – such a beautiful car, convertible for the weather and a V12 soundtrack!
4 Bad weather 4×4 vehicle = Toyota Land Cruiser – not as glamorous as other choices, but a well proven successor off road.
5 Project vehicle = Would have to be a KPGC10 Nissan Skyline, the absolute dream project for me!
6 Your vehicle = Just for a bit of everything? R34 GT-R!


Current vehicle:
Make: BMW

Model: E36 323i SE

Year: 1997

Spec list……
Exterior: M sport bumpers, Boston green

Interior: Standard cloth seats and door cards, M sport steering wheel and gear knob.

Wheels: 17″ x 7.5J BBS RC041 with hubcentric spacers fitted to fill the arches.

Suspension: FK coilovers, although hopefully not too much longer!

Brakes: standard

Engine: 2.5L straight 6, enclosed K&N induction kit, full stainless steel exhaust system.

Estimated power: I’d be happy if it had the 170hp it left the factory with!


Thanks To:
Claire, Davey & Jamie @ Element7 for all their help and business

Monty and David at Bassmechanix

David at North Jesmond Garage

Craig White for the awesome photos