Dustin Latimer’s LS Powered E36 Pickup Truck

This truck feels like what would happen if for some reason all of the individual, fragmented automotive obsessions I have gone through in the past couple of years somehow manifested themselves into one fever-dream of an automotive singularity. And it turned out pretty damn cool.

It’s all there- from the pickup truck thing, to the stripped interior thing, to the me desperately wanting to drop an LS into something– anything…thing, followed by a quick stop in C4 Corvette land before we head straight over to M3 territory. We met up with owner/builder Dustin Latimer to check out the machine in person, snap some photos, and breathe in a little tire smoke.

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I should point out that while this isn’t the only E36 pickup out there, it’s definitely my favorite for a number of reasons:

The profile. The roof’s been chopped three inches, and it makes a huge difference in this conversion. The factory E36 roofline looks great on the car in coupe or sedan form but comes off corny and downright Richard Scarryesque on a pickup truck- just way too upright. This looks great. It’s even more impressive when you consider that a guy built it by himself in his garage!

It’s actually a truck. Sure, one could argue that the lack of a proper frame excludes this machine from officially carrying such a title, but that doesn’t stop Honda from insisting that we refer to their formless pickup approximation as a truck. As far as I’m concerned, a truck better at least have a sliding rear window and a goddamn functioning tailgate if I’m expected to consider it a truck, two features which seem to be lacking on the rest of the E36 conversions I’ve seen.

The motor. I’m sure this aspect of the car catches more flak than the pickup conversion itself does from the BMW snobs purists. Dustin did originally swap in an S38B35, but there is no better bang for the buck than Chevy power and when the BMW powerplant done blowed up, he crossed over to the dark side. I get a real kick out of watching the dichotomy of the German air of haughty sophistication and the Bud Light-chugging crassness of an American V8 behaving so well together all in the name of ruining tires. It’s just beautifully garish. Which brings me to my last point…

The Function. This thing wasn’t built to sit around and look pretty. It was built for the track. I’ve seen photos of the miles of square tubing that was used to reinforce the under bed area and it looks like Biosphere 2 down there. There’s no doubt this thing is seriously stiff, but there’s more to it than that. Dustin wanted to retain the 50/50 weight distribution the car came with from the factory and the framework under the bed is tied into that goal. He ended up with a perfect balance front and rear, and likely with a much lower center of gravity than BMW gave it in the first place.

It goes beyond that though. Between the gutted interior, the um …many… point roll cage, and all of the suspension work done to the car, it’s clear that Dustin is not fucking around.

2t9b2825Details on the car are all over the build threads which I’ve linked below. The car is based on a 92 coupe and the motor is a cammed 408 Stroker. I don’t have the specs on the cam but it sounds pretty healthy and it’s putting out well over 400 lb-ft at the wheels. More than enough to break the rear loose on a whim. The transmission is a ZF S6-40 6 speed out of a ZR-1 and there is a laundry list of suspension upgrades as well.

Several photos I’ve found of the car online show it sporting C4 Salad Shooters early in the build which would probably be my first choice for wheels out of sheer novelty but I have to admit that the current BMW Style 5’s fit really well with the look of the car.

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The car (truck… man I keep doing this) spent a good portion of it’s post-op life in a state of raw metal, something we can get away with pretty easily here in Arizona. But eventually Dustin had the body straight enough to get it sprayed in a shade of dark blue from a Nissan Xterra. Yes, they actually did make Xterras in other colors besides yellow. I had to double check that one.

See below for all of our photos of the car, and you can also check out Dustin’s original build thread here: Part 1 Part 2

Oh, and by the way, it’s for sale! Here’s a link to an older “for sale” thread on Bimmerforums with more information. If you have any questions about purchasing the car, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot us an email here and we will pass them on to Dustin.

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About Mike Ross

I love anything you can drive. But I love it even more if it has a small block Chevy or Ford motor, a turbo, four wheel drive, is a hatchback, or was made in the 80s. My ideal car would be a combination of all of these things, and I'm working on building a time machine so I can go back to the 80's and convince Chevy and Ford to collaborate on a twin-engine, single turbo 4x4 XR4Ti/Fox Mustang/Third Gen F-body and hide one in a mineshaft for me to recover in brand new condition. Look for a blog post about it just as soon as it happens. Or maybe it already did, and I've already posted about it in the future and the internet just needs to catch up with it. Okay, my head hurts, never mind.

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