Full-body workout. Humble BMW 316 E30 transformed into fully-custom, carb’d M20-powered Alpina B6 tribute. The Works Spectacular, fully-custom E30. What started out life as a shabby 316 has now been transformed into a completely custom Alpina B6 homage with a motorsport twist, powered by an M20 on carbs, and it’s utterly spectacular. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Lee Cant.
There were many things that blew us away about this incredible, fully-custom E30 build when we first set eyes on it at the Santa Pod BMW Show last year but perhaps what we loved – and still love – most of all is the owner.
The modded car scene is very much a family affair; go to any show and you’ll see whole families wandering around and it’s fantastic to see the older generation’s enthusiasm being passed down to the youngsters, who then take up the reins and keep the scene going. Start them young, as they say. There does, however, seem to be a bit of a cut-off point when it comes to age; go to a show and most of the guys and girls there will fall into a certain age range and you tend not to see many of the older generation. We guess it’s because maybe they grow out of the modded scene, perhaps, and move onto other cars. There are, of course, a few exceptions to that rule and Christopher Scutt might just be our favourite modified BMW owner ever. When we first saw this completely-custom and utterly wild E30 we would never for one second would have imagined that the distinguished gentleman standing nearby in his flat cap and waistcoat was the owner. Christopher is the sort of car enthusiast we want to be when we grow up.
Christopher cut his driving teeth on a Mini (“Austin not BMW!”) and then proceeded to spend his entire life modifying cars – of which there have been an awful lot – and his previous projects have included everything from classic Minis and Ford Escorts to such gems as an AC Cobra replica and a Lotus Seven-based Dax Rush. He’s clearly a man who loves his cars and loves modding them, but what about his love for BMWs? Well here there is an interesting twist to the traditional father and son story… “I’ve always had an interest in BMWs,” Christopher begins, “I remember in my early 20s seeing a rally-prepared 2002 tii and thinking how absolutely fantastic it looked and how marvellous it would be to own such a car.
However, in my youth my brand loyalty was to Ford and I would have never considered owning anything but an RS.
It was my son, Ashley, who has always loved BMW. I can even pinpoint the exact day the love started,” he says with a smile. “Back in the late ’80s I had a Mk 2 Golf GTI 16-valve and every Saturday I would make the journey to York with Ashley (who was about seven at the time) to go shopping. Every week it ended up, as it normally did back then, in a race. One particular Saturday the race was with an E30 325i, which sadly overtook me on a straight with relative ease… It was from that day that Ash was consumed with all things BMW and this interest eventually passed on to me.”
Christopher has enjoyed numerous BMWs over the years, starting with an E32 730i (“An absolutely fantastic car and as an all-rounder is one of, if not the best, cars I have ever owned.”), an Inka orange 2002 tii that was fully restored into a DRM tribute and, sitting alongside this E30, you will currently find a 2002, an E21 320, E32 740i, E39 520i Touring and an E46 Alpina B3 3.3.
Wonderful as that collection may be, it’s this E30 that we’re really interested in and it actually began life as little more than a tired 316, which makes the transformation it’s undergone all the more impressive.
“The reason for buying this poverty spec 316 was that I wanted the car to have a motorsport look and therefore needed a non-sunroof car,” explains Christopher. “Cars with bigger engines more often than not have sunroofs. The car we bought even had manual windows and a factory blank for the stereo… it was perfect for the build! The car was found via eBay and it was collected from an E30 dealer near Felixstowe. When I collected the car it looked incredibly sorry for itself but was a sound shell just requiring small amounts of welding to the floor and in the spare wheel well. We knew the plan from the outset was to fit a fibreglass M3 kit to give the car the same look as an Alpina B6 3.5S. The car was to have a track look yet retain a classic appearance. I wanted to fit an M20 2.5 along with a triple Weber setup. I envisaged the finished car to be a 316 with a serious attitude problem!” he grins and it’s safe to say that he’s achieved that and so much more. But this project couldn’t be achieved with simply the 316, a few additional purchases had to be made.
“In addition to the 316 I also bought an E30 325i Convertible for its engine and gearbox along with an E36 318Ti Compact to get onto five-stud hubs. We even used the Compact on the road for a year before needing the parts….a great little car!”
So, with three cars purchased, Christopher could begin the build process, which started with the rear end of the car; what you also need to know is that he did all the work you see before you himself, bar the paint. The boot was stripped out before a custom rear strut brace was added along with a dry cell racing battery and twin fuel pumps while the standard fuel tank was replaced with a spare wheel well-mounted item and the fuel filler was relocated to the rear of the car, just like the touring cars of the period, before the M3 boot and rear spoiler were added. With this early stage completed, work could now begin on the engine. As he mentioned earlier, Christopher’s plan was to swap in an M20 on carbs and a swift glance into that magnificently clean engine bay tells you that’s exactly what he’s done and, while carbs might seem an odd choice to some, for him they make the car. “My favourite modification has to be the triple Weber 45 carbs,” he beams. “Although modern motorsport engines retrofitted into old cars look amazing it’s getting to be a common sight on the show scene. I wanted to go in a different direction which retained the M20 yet still looks impressive due the triple Weber setup. The sound of the triple Webers is fantastic,” he grins.
“The choice of engine was a source of some disagreement with my son as he wanted to fit an S50B32 and was even on eBay trying to source a suitable car. I think he’s now happy with direction we took,” Christopher adds with a laugh.
The Webers are just a small part of the engine, however, and a lot of work has gone into that M20 and the bay it sits within. First of all, inside the engine you will fi nd a Cat Cams camshaft which, when combined with the Webers, full stainless steel exhaust manifold and exhaust system, takes this M20 to 208hp, a very impressive increase over the 170hp output of the stock engine. Christopher has used an E21 header tank and relocated it from the original location, fitted a custom-made throttle linkage, removed the now-obsolete battery tray, added an E46 M3 aluminium radiator and removed the factory brake servo, adding a remote dual-circuit brake servo and fitting the brake master cylinder directly to the bulkhead. There’s also a custom-made strut brace while an Alpina rocker cover finishes things off nicely.
As the plan was to create an Alpina B6 3.5S-lookalike with a motorsport twist, it first needed to look like an E30 M3 and that meant getting hold of the necessary body parts for the transformation. “I wanted a fibreglass M3 kit, huge Touring Car-spec rear spoiler and Touring Carstyle mirrors,” says Christopher. “The front fibreglass M3 arches were appalling so I ended up buying genuine front Sport Evo wings from BMW York. I knew that the Sport Evo wings would be better to fit the 17” Alpinas, as these arches were made slightly larger to accommodate the 18” Touring Car rims.” The end result is nothing short of spectacular; you’ve got the M3 styling, which looks fantastic, the added Alpina enhancements and then you start to notice the additional elements that make it even more special. There are the Cibie headlights and front brow, the single wiper conversion, bonnet and boot pins, the tiny Touring Car-style door mirrors and there are even Alpina door handles, as well as that gigantic rear wing, of course.
Such a spectacular build needed a suitably spectacular colour and the original silver that this E30 was finished in was never an option, so Christopher had the whole car resprayed in stunning Porsche Guards Red, a seriously bright, solid red that suits it perfectly.
Another thing that suits the car perfectly are the genuine, staggered 17” Alpina Softlines, as found on the B12 E32, that Christopher opted for and they work so well with the whole look of this E30. “I’ve seen so many other style wheels but the period correct style-rims with a deep dish just look fantastic. The combination of flared arches, deep dish rims and a sensible amount of camber is always a great look. We didn’t consider any other style of rims,” he says and we don’t blame him. The suspension, meanwhile, has been comprehensively upgraded, with AVO remote-reservoir coilovers up front and a custom rear setup that Christopher built up using AVO shocks, with poly bushes fitted all-round. The brakes have not been forgotten about either and here you’ll find four-pot Subaru Impreza STi calipers up front with E36 drilled and grooved discs while at the back there are two E36 calipers fitted to each hub, meaning this E30 has four rear brake calipers in total, because why not?
Now it was finally time to move onto the interior and it is an absolute riot in here, no less wild or exciting than the exterior and no less custom or individual. The first thing you’ll no doubt spot are the seats and we wager that you can guess all you want but there’s no way you’ll be able to work out what they’re out of… “As both myself and my son are tall we have to choose a seats with flat bases,” explains Christopher. “Retrofitting modern electric BMW seats into the car like we did in the 2002 tii (where we fitted E63 seats) isn’t the greatest for us. The seats we used are from a Toyota Celica which, strangely, have a similar look to the seats from a Sport Evo.” So there you go, mystery solved, they are Celica seats. Some people might turn up their nose at that but they certainly look the part and both Christopher and Ash fi t, which is the most important thing. The seats have been equipped with Schroth four-point racing harnesses, which are mounted to a custom-made parcel shelf, and there’s also a full roll-cage. There’s a lovely, genuine Momo Alpina steering wheel, chunky gear knob with an exotic-looking gaiter and auxiliary gauges for oil pressure and fuel level and then things start going a bit mental. “I fitted a brake line lock for burnouts and a drift handbrake… I think I’ve perhaps watched too much Ken Block!” laughs Christopher and you know what else this car has? Air jacks. It’s got air jacks but then again, why not fi t air jacks if you can?
Based on the absolutely insane amount of work that has gone into this build it’s fair to say that Christopher does not do things by halves; he’s just gone all-out on this build and where most people would have stopped, he just kept going. Don’t like the fi t and finish of fibreglass M3 wings?
Buy genuine Sport Evo ones. Why fit a single caliper when you can construct a twin caliper setup? Why use a jack and axle stands like a chump when you can fi t air jacks? There are no half measures here, no compromises but what we like is that Christopher hasn’t just done things for the sake of it, he’s done things the way he has because that’s the way he wanted to do them. Take those seats, for example – he could easily have got hold of any seats you might care to mention but then he and Ash might not have been able to fi t properly, so he went for the Celica seats. And he could have easily thrown an S50 or even an S54 under the bonnet but he wanted an M20 on carbs so he built an M20 on carbs and it’s his favourite mod on the whole car.
The whole thing is just a bit mindboggling, really, and it’s been built by an amazing man with amazing skills and creative vision. 2018 has only just begun and we’ve already found what we reckon is going to be one of our favourite feature cars of the entire year. The question is, where do you go after a build like this?
Can you even go anywhere? “I vowed that this car was going to be my last build…” says Christopher, “but I’m now back on eBay looking at potential projects, although the next project probably will not have a BMW badge.” Clearly this is a man with a thirst for modifying that cannot be slaked and what a hell of an awesome experience building this project truly was. Suddenly growing old doesn’t seem scary any more, certainly not if it means we’ll be building cars like this, in which case bring it on.
DATA FILE BMW E30 Alpina B6 tribute
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six M20B25, Cat Cams camshaft, triple Weber 45 carburettors, Alpina rocker cover, E46 M3 radiator, stainless steel exhaust manifold, stainless steel exhaust system, relocated E21 header tank, custom-made throttle linkage, distributor cap removed and custommade blanking plate fitted, battery tray removed, brake master cylinder mounted to bulkhead. Five-speed manual gearbox
POWER 208hp @ 6950rpm
CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) Alpina Softlines with 225/40 (front) and 255/40 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, AVO coilovers (front), custom-made rear suspension using AVO shocks, custom strut brace (front and rear), fully poly bushed, four-point front lower strut brace bar fitted, remote dualcircuit brake servo, four-piston Subaru Impreza STi calipers with vented, drilled and grooved E36 discs (front), twin E36 calipers on each hub with drilled and grooved E36 discs (rear)
EXTERIOR Porsche Guards Red, front eyebrow, Cibie headlights, DTM-style single wiper conversion, LHD scuttle plates, genuine E30 M3 Sport Evo front arches, fibreglass E30 M3 front and rear bumpers, side skirts, rear arches, C-pillar, boot lid and rear spoiler, bonnet and boot pins, perspex rear window, relocated fuel filler, Touring Car-style door mirrors, Alpina door handles, Touring Car-look window stickers, replica Alpina B6 3.5S badges
INTERIOR Toyota Celica front and rear seats, Schroth racing harnesses, full roll-cage, custom-made rear parcel shelf, Momo Alpina steering wheel, Smiths auxiliary oil pressure and fuel gauges, AP Racing air jacks, brake line lock, drift handbrake, dry cell racing battery, spare wheel well fuel tank, twin fuel pumps
THANKS Lee Smiley at LDS Automotive Refinishing, Motorscope of Northallerton for engine setup and rolling road, BMW performance specialists J C Racing of Thirsk for advice and parts, Andy at M4UK Ltd of York for stickers and sticker fitment
“Another thing that suits the car perfectly are the genuine, staggered 17” Alpina Softlines as found on B12 E32s”
“I wanted to go in a different direction which retained the M20 yet still looks impressive due the triple Weber setup”
Interior is no less full-on than the exterior and, yes, those are air jacks…
Toyota Celica seats Hydraulic handbrake and line lock Auxiliary oil pressure and fuel gauges.
BMW E46 M3 radiator has been fitted.
Malpassi Filter King FPR.
Dual-circuit remote brake servo. AVO remote reservoir coilovers up front.
Twin fuel pumps in boot. Boot-mounted dry cell racing battery.