The E36 M3 in this video uses the aforementioned naturally-aspirated LS1 V8 engine to make a hefty 420 horsepower, up from the 286-ish horsepower of the standard car. That pairs to a Tremec T56 six-speed manual transmission and powers just the rear wheels. It also only weighs 3,200 lbs, so it’s seriously quick.
Opposite the E36 M3 at the starting grid was a Jeep Wrangler with a 6.1 liter Hemi V8, also with 420 horsepower. Except it gets an automatic transmission, four-wheel drive and a curb weight almost double the M3’s. So which is faster at the strip?
It’s quite obvious which car is faster — the E36. With a monster V8 and very little weight to worry about, it’s an absolute drag-strip weapon. Sure, the driver missed a shift here and there and the car had some trouble with traction but once it hooked up, it was dominant. That’s not surprising, given the Jeep’s far inferior power-to-weight ratio but it’s still cool to see. It also makes us kind of want an LS-swapped E36 M3, as it seems like a lot of fun.
While a free-breathing BMW straight-six is an absolute thing of beauty, and is more characterful than an LS1 V8, sometimes there’s just no replacement for displacement.