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.