Drift machines tend to be quite extreme, and this 6.2-litres V8, wide-body orange #BMW-E30
is no exception.
Anyone who’s owned an E30 knows they were built to go sideways but with a 6.2-litre V8 up front and comprehensive chassis tuning, Andy Hateley’s E30 drift special introduces us to angles we scarcely believed possible. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Matt Petrie.
Let’s start with a little history lesson. Back in #1962
an American chap called Carroll Shelby had the bright idea of planting a high performance lightweight Ford V8 engine in the attractive British-made #AC-Ace
roadster. The little Ace’s stock sixcylinder engines – some of pre-World War II design – were hardly what you’d call sporting so Shelby’s plan was to give the puny Brit some American muscle. The result? The legendary AC Cobra which combined power and grace to a degree rarely bettered these past 50 years.
So what’s all this got to do with performance BMWs? Well, Californian drift racer Andy Hateley has done something not too dissimilar to another European beauty: the E30 3 Series. Under his one-time #1989 #325i
’s shapely pinned bonnet rests a 6.2- litre V8 LS3 lump from #General-Motors
, familiar to Brits as powering the storming #Vauxhall-VXR8
and typically found in American muscle machines such as the Chevy Corvette and Camaro SS. The result is an estimated 550-600hp and when combined with an extensive suite of drivetrain, chassis, interior and exterior upgrades, Andy has built one of the most extensive and brilliant BMW drift cars we’ve yet seen.
The 31-year-old spends his working life crafting custom furniture and doing small fabrication jobs on friends’ cars. His skills with using his hands has translated into tackling the build of this world-class drift E30. He is aware, however, of the age-old grumbles from BMW purists not keen on having anything but a made-in-Munich motor doing the pulling. But this is where Andy makes a good point and draws on fellow countryman Shelby’s efforts to put some fireworks in a not-so-quick standard car.
“I’m not a purist guy at all,” Andy said. “I respect cars that are kept original but that’s not for me. Like when Shelby dropped some Detroit muscle in a lightweight European chassis, nobody sees anything wrong with that, and I see nothing wrong with making my own car with whatever parts I want. I love what BMW did when it designed the E30 but it’s not my design and the factory version is definitely not my dream car. I’ve put more hours into the car than BMW ever did so it’s more my car than theirs. That’s why people modify their cars – to be individuals and express their style.”
It’s hard to argue with such sentiments, and if we look at Andy’s individual style, there’s plenty to love. It truly is one of the most brutal-looking E30s the BMW scene has witnessed and throughout the entire build the quality of parts, attention to detail and innovative custom work all impress. But they all have to. Andy competes in Formula Drift (FD) in the USA, where competition is stiff, to say the least, and only the best of the best drivers and their machines can hope to stay in the series.
Andy said he started drifting back in 2004 with a #Nissan-350Z
, gaining an FD licence for 2006. The following year the Nissan was getting tired so Andy took a break from competing to get the funds together to build what he calls a ‘real’ FD car, choosing the E30 as his platform. It was many years in the building but after doing local FD Pro-Am events he regained his FD licence for 2012.
He’s up against an array of Japanese and American high-horsepower machinery in FD but said a few E36s and E46s also keep him company on the #BMW
front. “Most of them are using big V8s with either nitrous or forced induction,” Andy told us, “and the average hp number would be around 750hp, with cars going as high as 1300hp.” And even though Andy’s GM-powered #E30
is at around half that figure, the recent season still saw numerous teething problems due to the stress on components. “Our best result was a top eight finish at FD Pro 2 in Seattle,” he said. “We may have made it further but we broke both axles during our top eight run. We definitely found the weak points of the car at Long Beach the throttle pedal started to detach itself from the floor; in Atlanta the throttle cable melted; I broke an axle in New Jersey; the pinion gear broke in Texas; and the clutch started slipping at Irwindale.” It’s a lot of work, this drifting business!
Returning to the car itself, Andy originally chose an E30 as a drift car because of the visceral feel he got when driving it: “I fell in love with the E30’s oversteer that would come on so progressively and smoothly; it was a car that represented my style as a person and driver perfectly.”
Andy flirted with fitting an #S54
motor from BMW’s stable but ordering a box-fresh #LS3-GM-V8
would speed the build process up considerably. “With the LS3 I had the Tex Racing SR-1 transmission bolted up and was fitting the engine and cutting the trans tunnel for clearance the day it arrived,” Andy said.
The build went into overdrive from there. It only takes one glance at the pictures and our Data File to see the huge lengths gone to in reaching this E30’s current state. To explain it all would fill this entire magazine! Simply put, the V8 came from GM with upgraded camshafts, while Andy added high rpm lifters, better valve springs and upgraded chromoly pushrods all to create a more reliable engine during long periods of high rpms – integral for this high level of drifting. The exhaust and manifold were all crafted by Andy’s hands, while a custom one-piece driveshaft and a modified E30 diff all endure the huge stresses Andy asks of them during competition use. The standard E30 axles – rebuilt by Andy – are apparently holding up well to the abuse the drivetrain receives during drifting.
The underbonnet install – where the LS3 V8 fits with surprising ease – is impressive enough but the boot build almost trumps it. Here you find the extensive cooling system, again an integral part of all serious drift cars. Somehow Andy has squeezed in a mighty radiator, a ten-gallon fuel cell, countless fans, a large oil cooler, an oil filter, a four-gallon water sprayer and much more, all mounted in what’s known as the ‘safe zone’ far forward in the boot.
The chassis is another fine piece of work. Andy learned an incredible amount at Groma Fabrications where he used a lift at the back of their shop to work on the E30. “I gutted the E30 chassis and Ed at Groma did some work on the roll-cage to get it up to FD-spec,” Andy said. He did his first sheet metal work and welding, and soon the E30 had its distinctive DTM Fibrewerkz wide body kit (making it eight inches wider than a standard E30) and Lexan windows in place. Andy made his own carbon fibre panels to mount the myriad gauges in the dash, and finally it was off to be sprayed what he calls ‘Oh Sh*t orange’, based on Honda’s CBR 600RR motorcycle colour.
To make a car this talented in FD requires a daunting amount of chassis work (see the Date File), but most will appreciate the 18” ESM wheels, JRZ RS-Pro dampers and a full coilover setup for the rear. The rest of the underneath has needed comprehensive remodelling, welding, strengthening and protection, all to ensure this brutal E30 can continue performing at its best while under such extreme forces.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the superb work carried out here and neglect just how visually appealing Andy’s drift E30 is. It is fat and squat, aggressive and beautiful with its owner particularly appreciating the body kit, not least because he said it allows the smoke to flow off the tyres very well. And as with most racing machines, they truly are at their best when in action, and to see the plumes of burning rubber coming from the rear of this delightful orange missile when in full drift mode makes it hard not to love. When asked about a rear wing however (drift cars are typically seen with oversized ones), Andy said he’d been debating fitting one but with the E30 having very good forward traction at present, it isn’t really needed yet.
As for the cabin, well, it’s a place you’d happily go to work in any day of the week thanks to the dished Driven steering wheel, the beautifully ergonomic gear shifter, a view full of carbon fibre and gauges, and the Sparco Circuit seats gripping you tight. Everything looks immaculate making you wonder how Andy can ever risk such a beautifully-crafted machine in the hotbed of drift competition. But it races because it was born to do it. “There is no shortage of talent at any FD event and these drivers are on-point and have balls of steel,” Andy explained. “I love it. It really makes you a better driver. I drive with the best and aspire to be the best.”
As for his E30, Andy said he’ll be sticking with it for a long time to come but he’s not averse to upping the horsepower figure even more. “Plans are for a 750-800hp engine next year,” he said. “Once we have more power we’ll see what breaks, fix it, then add more power. It’s a sick and twisted cycle!”
ENGINE: 6.2-litre #GM-LS3-V8
, uprated camshafts, Hateley Motorsports custom stainless steel exhaust and manifold, upgraded chromoly pushrods, link bar lifters and high rpm valve springs, Nitrous Express progressive controller running a 50-shot from a 10lb bottle, 42 AN hoses, rear-mounted radiator, oil cooler, oil filter, Accusump, radiator water sprayer and three Spal fans, two extra six-inch fans on licence plate filler, 1600cfm fan for radiator, threegallon water reservoir plumbed to 200gph water pump, custom wiring, Electromotive Tec3R standalone ECU tuned by Nelson Racing Engines.
TRANSMISSION: Tex Racing SR-1 four-speed manual, custom one-piece driveshaft, 4.27 E30 differential modified by Precision Gearing for near-100% lock, factory E30 axles.
CHASSIS: 9x18” (front and rear) ESM wheels with 225/35 (front) and 275/35 (rear) Falken 615k tyres, JRZ RS-Pro dampers with 520lb rate spring up front and 225lb rate at rear (full coilover for rear), E46 M3 hubs, #E46
M3 CSL brake discs with Wilwood calipers at front, Ireland Engineering twin-caliper rear brake kit using Wilwood callipers, Wilwood drop-down pedals with twin master cylinders and balance bar, solid aluminium bushings for the rear subframe, Ireland Engineering toe and camber adjustment tabs, modified trailing arms, SLR angle kit using E46 spindles, Ireland Engineering urethane bushes and rear anti-roll bar, custom Hateley Motorsports chassis with removable tube frame front and rear sections, Formula D spec roll-cage.
EXTERIOR: DTM Fiberwerkz fibreglass wide-body kit including front and rear bumpers, side skirts and front and rear wheel arches (total eight inches wider than standard E30), Lexan windows, ‘Oh Sh*t orange’ from Honda CBR 600RR motorcycle.
INTERIOR: Sparco Circuit seats with Sparco harnesses, Driven steering wheel, Hateley Motorsports custom carbon fibre dash panels for Auto Meter gauges, Powered by Max hydraulic handbrake, custom fuel cell.
THANKS: Falken Tires, ESM wheels, DTM Fiberwerkz, JRZ Suspension, Sparco Motorsports, SLR Speed, Nitrous Express, OMGdrift.com, Driven Steering, Clutchmasters, Ireland Engineering, Precision Gearing, my dad, my team and manager Ross Fairfield.
CONTACT: Instagram @hateleydrift12, FB – Andy Hateley Drift, www. nationalmssociety. com (Andy represents the society).
Interior has been stripped-out and fitted with Sparco Circuit seats and harnesses plus a custom carbon fibre panel to house all the gauges.
DTM Fiberwerkz wide-body kit delivers a ton of track presence, adding 8” to the car’s width.
6.2-litre LS3 V8 dominates this E30’s engine bay, which is itself an engineering riot; boot houses cooling system and ten-gallon fuel cell.