LS36: An M3 With A Taste Of America (& Japan)

Do you ever sit in your refined, sensible and calculated German car and find yourself thinking ‘I wish it was just a bit more, American…?’

If you have, then here’s an answer for you. This is the LS36 – a German car with an American heart, enhanced with Japanese obsessive compulsion. It’s the vision of Hikaru Taguchi, owner of Moontech in Gunma Prefecture.


Taguchi-san and his team have built a number of seriously cool cars over the years, and won plenty of show awards along the way. The LS36 is right up there too.


When I arrived at Moontech, I was greeted by a few tasty builds in the yard. A built-not-bought ‘GT-R’ (read: replica) and a nice Rocket Bunny-kitted RX-7 immediately caught my eye, but they were both rather tame compared to what I’d driven three hours to see.


That would be this – a BMW E36 M3 that was imported from the USA earlier this year. At that point the engine swap had already been completed, but the car was otherwise stock-looking. In other words, it was a prime candidate for a Moontech makeover.


I think you’ll agree that it has plenty of road presence. It sits on a Ploom air suspension system controlled by Air Lift Performance 3P management, and rolls on a set of very cool O.Z. Racing-made AC Schnitzer Type-1 3-piece wheels measuring 17×8.5-inch up front and 17×9.5-inch at the rear.


It’s been resprayed BMW Oxford Green, which was not an E36 M3 colour, but used mostly on 5 and 8 Series cars.


Inside, well, what can I say – it’s all very, very orange. If you’re a pumpkin with a driver license it’ll likely be right up your alley, but for us human folk… I’ll let you decide for yourself. You should know that it’s all real leather stitched together by the guys at Moontech. And credit where credit is due, because it’s some top-notch craftsmanship.


There’s a reason why LS swaps are so popular – just look how snug this one fits into a space designed for a straight six. This specimen is a 2002 LS1 5.7L with Texas Speed ported 243 heads. It’s been fettled with a Brian Tooley Racing Stage 2 camshaft and fitted with a custom exhaust system.


The bay is a shaved and tucked which keeps the 450 wild thoroughbreds nicely corralled.


Whatever your take is on LS swaps, E36 M3s or orange interiors, I think you’ll agree that there’s something here for everyone. And it’s something pretty wild.

But don’t just take my word for it, check out some big skids here.

Toby Thyer
Instagram _tobinsta_

BMW E36 related stories on Speedhunters



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Well orange is my favorite color so I guess I could run with that. That FC RX7 is crazy though, I'd love to see a feature on it!


This E36 is tastefully done
The LS-swap makes it even crazier too


Nice coverage! Can you also do mini shop features when you visit these awesome places? It'd be great to see where the magic happens!


Putting that V8 ruins the sweet E36 handling and balance all in pursuit of straight line performance. After all BMW had meticulously engineered the car to achieve near 50-50 weight distribution. May as well stuff in big block 502 and strapped huge turbos.


All said and done it makes it like 20kg more nose heavy than before. It's really nothing.


So you know more than BMW engineers? 20 kg (45 lbs) according to you. Figure pulled out of air? Some performance cars have their battery located in the trunk for weight distribution reason. Most battery weighs less than 45 lbs.


S54 is an iron block 6cyl which is quite long. With a LS that's fitted properly, its obviously much shorter, and that keeps the engine's centre of mass further back than with the 6cyl.
You can just admit that you don't like the car, without having to make up shit about how it drives


Like it or not is irrelevant. BMW engineers are smarter than you and most. Period. They know their products. They design them, make them test them and install them. Go and apply for a job with BMW and see if they accept you being so smart.


the funniest thing about this thread is that you're focusing on an extra hundred or two pounds at most instead of the fact it's on air suspension.


Chill James


The leap in your logic is astounding. I feel dumber for trying to comprehend your comment.


Brother, im sure the ls3's all aluminum architecture is lighter than the cast iron block s50/s52 that most US m3 came with. Not to mention the V8 places the weight further back. So most likely that 50/50 weight balance has been retained. I can assure you the v8 wasnt what made this car a "straight line" only car. If you've ever driven a c5/c6 Corvette you'd know just how potent these engines are in a good chassis.


Braxton, the US S50 weighs 290 pounds and an LS3 weighs 466 pounds.


You're giving out numbers where they do not have equally dressed accessories on the motor. Example, ac compressor, power steering pump, alternator. Stop giving out false info gman


Jason, 2 things.

1. When doing an engine swap, nobody knows what is kept and what is not from the old one. Running gear ia highly variable. BMW is not selling iron blocks in crates so I did the best I could with the info available.
2. StOP gIvInG fAlSE InForMaTiOn man get out, this is the comment section of an internet article not the court of law.


Which would only shift it like 6 or 7 percent at most, and that's not accounting for anything added to the trunk, like the air suspension.


Aluminum LS 1-2-3 motors are lighter than most people think, around 430-450lbs I believe. They may not be very original, but for the power and efficiency per dollar they are difficult to beat.


The Green Bug Eye deserves a review for sure!


Like to talk to you about 1997m3extreme nice 80000 miles


I thought m3 which I have was mpower official m


When did Chevy do something with BMW?


AC Schnitzer rims and V8 is cool and all, but is nobody goin comment on that Rocket Bunny-kitted RX-7 ?


I do wish my German car was easier to work on, the reliability and quality of the build is above average, but the time it takes to change out the serpentine belt is unnecessarily long.


Anyone who wants to "americanize" anything about a BMW is an idiot and should be dragged into the street and shot. If you want a piece of garbage, go buy anything from a US manufacturer....if you want a great car, go buy a BMW and leave it alone.



I heard that! Buy a Corvette if you want an American "car." I wouldn't shoot them but I would laugh REALLY hard!!!! GDM. German Domestic Market. Tired of hearing JDM. My neighbor just bought an M8 Competition. Ridiculous!


That interior is sweet! Love the contrast! Tired of dark, depressing colors! Are you folks depressed! Get some color people! My dusty mauve Jetta is gonna have tasteful lime green wheels in the spring.


FC please!


Very nice car well done to the owner , thanks for sharing great photos


Great shots! As some already said; the orange interior is a taste thing. But it's unique, that's for sure! My own E36 has the same color, thought of making the interior tan.
Never saw someone going with a color like this. Only in Japan.