If we haven’t had enough interesting discussion and varying opinions about what a proper performance car should be with the recent 1974 Mustang Cobra II V8 here on Barn Finds then this entry should provide additional food for thought. This one is a first for me and I’m a BMW fan who tries to keep up to date with performance developments in the brand. But this performance development is something the engineers back in Munich never thought to create: a tiny Z3 roadster with a honkin’ big V8 engine courtesy of Corvette via the recent Pontiac GTO. Find this hot rodded BMW Z3 here on eBay with the reserve not yet met and 4 days to go.
It’s the old hot rodder’s trick: stuff the biggest V8 you can find into a small, lightweight chassis – and then hold on! The fellow who came up with the idea of transplanting a 5.7 liter LS1 from a 2004 GTO must have had no reservations about how much power this little German roadster should have, 470 HP in this case. Mind you, this is a project even though it looks complete. The engine has been hot rodded beyond what Corvette and Pontiac did, and is already installed. It has an exhaust system and some professional reinforcements to the BMW’s subframe. That last part answered most of my questions about how the little roadster will handle the enormous torque that the LS1 puts out, but one question remains: will the stock diff be able to stand up to the power?
We don’t know the answer to that last question because the car does not appear to have been run – at least, not in anger. That’s because the car has an overheating problem that still needs to be corrected. That’s probably because the stock radiator is still in the car and likely doesn’t move enough of the heat produced by the LS1 into the air flowing through it. The car doesn’t seem to have a fan, at least between the rad and the engine. But assuming that problem can be solved, the question comes up: Does the vehicle as a whole work? Is this a proper modern version of the hot rodder’s dream of big engine small car? Or should we be going back to Deuces and T-Buckets, even if most new builds will have to make do with “Glass” bodies?