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BMW E30 Club - Thirtieth series BMW - was the second generation of cars of middle class automotive brand from Bavaria. T...
BMW E30 Club - Thirtieth series BMW - was the second generation of cars of middle class automotive brand from Bavaria. These machines have a wide range of engines and body styles. Even during the life of the conveyor this machine has earned the title of the cult. And now having passed the test of time and has a huge range of kilometers and miles fans and avid owners. Our club dedicated to everything that is connected with this model and its numerous modifications. Namely operation, test drives, repair and tuning of course. Tuning E30 is now a whole industry, even say more - it's a real industry and enthusiasm of thousands of fans of the famous thirty. Our community brings together owners and enthusiastic amateur trio of second generation all continents and countries. All communication in our outdoor club is in English as a universal means of communication.

Welcome - E30 with love and forever!

Like the E28 5 Series, the second-generation 3 Series E30 concentrated on the consistent improvement of a successful concept. With improved styling, technology and equipment levels, the 3 Series offered a wide range of engines for all customer demands. From 1983 all models were also available with four doors. In 1988 the 324td introduced the first-ever electronic diesel injection system, and newly developed four-cylinder units replaced the engines that had proven their merits millions of times over 26 years.

1982 – 1991 E30 3 Series Saloon 2 doors and 4 doors

BMW 316, 1982 – 1988 4-cyl. ohc 1766 cc 66 kW (90 hp)
BMW 316i, 1988 – 1991 4-cyl. ohc 1596 cc Cat. 74 kW (100 hp)
BMW 316i, 1987 – 1988 4-cyl. ohc 1766 cc Cat. 75 kW (102 hp)
BMW 318i, 1982 – 1987 4-cyl. ohc 1766 cc 77 kW (105 hp) Cat. 75 kW (102 hp)
BMW 318i, 1987 – 1991 4-cyl. ohc 1796 cc Cat. 83 kW (113 hp)
BMW 318is, 1989 – M42 1991 4-cyl. ohc 1796 cc Cat. 100 kW (136 hp)
BMW 320i, 1982 – 1991 M20B20 6-cyl. ohc 1990 cc 92 kW (125 hp) Cat. 95 kW (129 hp)
BMW 323i, 1982 – 1986 M20B23 6-cyl. ohc 2316 cc 102 kW (139 hp) 110 kW (150 hp)
BMW 325e, 1983 – 1988 M20B27 6-cyl. ohc 2693 cc Cat. 90 kW (122 hp) Cat. 95 kW (129 hp)
BMW 324d, 1985 – 1990 M21 6-cyl. ohc 2443 cc 63 kW (86 hp)
BMW 324td, 1987 – 1990 M21B24 6-cyl. ohc 2443 cc 85 kW (115 hp)
BMW 325i, 1985 – 1991 M20B25 6-cyl. ohc 2494 cc 126 kW (171 hp) Cat.125 kW (170 hp)

1985 – 1991 E30 325iX Permanent four-wheel drive, central power divider, viscous locks.
BMW 325iX 1990 – 98 6-cyl. ohc 2494 cc Cat. 125 kW (170 hp) 126 kW (171 hp)

1982 – 1990 E30 3 Series Baur Top-Convertible
With the introduction of the new 3 Series, Baur again offered a Convertible model with rollover bar. Then, in 1986, BMW themselves introduced a brand-new fourseater Convertible. The elaborately constructed roof was easy to operate and disappeared completely into a com - partment behind the rear seats.

1986 – 1993 E30 3 Series Convertible
BMW 318i Convertible
1990 – 1993 4-cyl. ohc 1796 cc 83 kW (113 hp)
BMW 325i Convertible 1986 – 1993 6-cyl. ohc 2494 cc Cat. 125 kW (170 hp) 126 kW (171 hp)
BMW 320i Convertible 1986 – 1993 6-cyl. ohc 1990 cc 95 kW (129 hp)


1988 – 1994 E30 3 Series touring

Another variant in the E30 3 Series was the dynamic and luxurious Touring with the same wheelbase but a completely different rear end. This car came with petrol and diesel engines as well as four-wheel drive.

BMW 316i touring, 1991 – 1994 4-cyl. ohc 1596 cc 74 kW (100 hp)
BMW 320i touring, 1988 – 91 6-cyl. ohc 1990 cc 95 kW (129 hp)
BMW 318i touring, 1989 – 1994 4-cyl. ohc 1796 cc 83 kW (113 hp)
BMW 325i touring, 1988 – 1993 6-cyl. ohc 2494 cc 125 kW (170 hp)
BMW 325iX touring, 1988 – 1993 M20B25 6-cyl. ohc 2494 cc 125 kW (170 hp)
BMW 324td touring, 1988 – 1993 M21 6-cyl. ohc 2443 cc 85 kW (115 hp)
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  •   Graham Leigh reacted to this post about 8 months ago
    Daniel 1982 uploaded a new video
    RX Automotive S50 E30 BMW Hill Climb
    Fibreglass front bumper created using a mould of a B&H-sponsored Australian Touring Car E30, custom aluminium front splitter, BMW 2002 Turbo-style fibreglass wheel arch flares over the original guards after 70mm had been cut away, taped over and...
    Fibreglass front bumper created using a mould of a B&H-sponsored Australian Touring Car E30, custom aluminium front splitter, BMW 2002 Turbo-style fibreglass wheel arch flares over the original guards after 70mm had been cut away, taped over and colour-coded chrome rear bumper, carbon fibre bonnet and bootlid with pins (replaced by standard steel items for Improved Production racing), Toyota Rukus Voodoo blue paint by Jo Seeger Smash Repairs, colour-coded kidney-grille surround, black plastic wrap over headlight lenses with custom painted chrome rings clipped on, E30 DTM mirrors
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  •   Rob Scorah reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    KING OF THE MOUNTAINS Turbo, wide-arch E30 Cab

    Logically, this E30 should have been scrapped long ago. But when you’re building a big-power toy for motorsport thrills and early-morning mountain runs, logic doesn’t always factor very highly… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Scott Sturdy.

    The Blue Ridge Parkway, running through North Carolina and into Virginia represents one of America’s great fusions of nature and technology. Scenic roads were something that American developers did uncannily well in the early half of the 20th century, and this particular one – a ribbon of Tarmac winding through gorgeous vistas of the Appalachian Mountains – is where Matthew Koppi’s love for BMWs was born. He’s the man behind this Olive green E30, and his passion for the marque stretches back decades. “I first fell in love with the BMW brand in my childhood,” he reminisces. “I live in the scenic mountains of Western North Carolina, and I used to see BMWs all over the twisty Blue Ridge Parkway in the ’80s. As a carobsessed kid the BMW was something that seemed like perfection; so graceful and nimble with timeless design.


    “I bought my first #BMW in 1999,” he continues, “while stationed in Vicenza, Italy. It was a 1983 323i with Alpina cams and other goodies that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. I bought it because of my childhood infatuation – plus the price was right for a young army private! It was the first car I owned with fully independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes, and also the first that I could drive over 100mph for extended periods of time without worrying about it exploding. I’ve been a devotee ever since!”

    All of this rather explains Matthew’s latest career move, setting up North Fork Autoworks in Barnardsville, North Carolina. Having turned wrenches for much of his adult career, this seemed like a logical move, although he’s keen to point out that throughout this E30’s build he was a full-time student, working on a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science.

    “All of the work on the car, from fabrication to paint, both in the engine bay and outside, was done by me,” he proudly explains. “The only thing I didn’t do completely on my own was the machine work, but I was there for every step of the process and even ran some of the machines!

    Basically, I was either directly responsible for every aspect of the car or I was intimately involved.” And with that forthright mission statement dealt with, we should probably rewind and take a peek at where this all started…

    Back in 2010, having returned to school and requiring a sensible-ish runabout Matthew was driving an old Suzuki Sidekick (that’s a Vitara to you and me) and questioning his choices somewhat. It was boring. And life’s too short for boring cars. So the idea of a fixer-upper E30 began to percolate, and you know what happens when the spark of inspiration’s arrived. It’s pretty much a done deal.

    This cabriolet appeared as a shabby little ragamuffin on Craigslist, but crucially the price was low. “The ad stated that the car ran when parked, but now wouldn’t start,” Matthew recalls. “It also disclosed that the interior and top were trashed. I arrived to find a car parked in tall grass behind a tiny house way back in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere! The previous owners were very nice and were at their wits’ end with the car. And they were painfully honest about it all. Truly the thing should have been parted out or crushed, but I was in love.

    It had bad rear wheel bearings, one front hub bearing was shot, bald tyres, ruined leather interior that had hardened and cracked beyond repair or comfort, the paint on every panel was faded and peeling, the battery tray was rusted through, it had an automatic transmission, wrong front wings, cracked aluminium bumpers, and the top was so far gone that there was water pooled in the floor despite the car being under two tarps. True to the ad, the engine would turn over but wouldn’t start, so the condition of the drivetrain was unknown.” Quite a catch, right? So as you can imagine, Matthew snapped it up and lovingly caressed it homeward, all the time reminiscing about those swooping mountain heroes on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    “First and foremost, I wanted to get it running and replace the top,” he explains. “It needed to be good enough to comfortably drive my young daughters around in as I continued to fix it up, and I originally planned to follow my old formula of decent wheels and lowered suspension… but that was before my first autocross event!” That’s right. The goalposts just shifted. First, though, is the matter of a knackered E30 which needs pretty much everything fixed…

    Job one was to get the old M20 ticking over sweetly and mated to a manual gearbox, something that Matthew did right away before fiddling with chips and fuelling and so on, and this setup lasted a couple of seasons of autocross. But power corrupts, and he was craving more, so he started pooling resources for an M5x swap… until the idea of a boosted M30 caught his eye, and from then on there was only one way forward.

    Now, M30s (that is, straight-six motors as found in the likes of the E28 5 Series, E24 6 Series and so on) have been swapped into E30s many times before, so there was a wealth of information available. What Matthew had to do was figure how to tailor the swap to his own unique requirements. After much consideration and research, he opted for an M30B34 block – for strength – with an M30B35 head and #Getrag 260/6 transmission. That was the base spec. Then the fun could begin.

    The block was bored out to take 94mm Wiseco pistons, increasing displacement to 3.6-litres, while the crankshaft was balanced and the head received all sorts of handcrafted custom work. A Rapid Spool Industries exhaust manifold allowed the fitment of that all-important turbo (originally a Holset HX40, now upgraded to a Borg Warner EFR 7670), and naturally the fuelling and management were beefed up to suit. A trick exhaust system soon followed, as did a Volvo intercooler, some more appropriate cams, and upgrades to the valvetrain. Piece by piece, Matthew’s masterpiece was falling into place. On a conservative tune and at just 13.8psi, the M30 was making 450hp – which certainly helped with those corruptive power cravings.

    So, the engine box was firmly ticked. Still a lot of other things to sort though, weren’t there? “I tried several different combinations of springs and dampers,” says Matthew.

    “Ultimately I used autocross and mountain roads to dial in my suspension; my current configuration consists of Bilstein Sport struts and shocks, H&R J-spec front springs, GE adjustable rear perches and springs, reinforced rear shock mounts, Vorshlag front camber plates, drop hats, and Treehouse Racing control arm bushings. I swapped in an E36 steering rack and, of course, replaced both front hub assemblies. For the rear subframe I installed the AKG 75D 12mm offset frame, diff mount bushings and trailing arm bushings.”

    Okay, so the thing works well now. But it needs to look good. What next? Aha, the body! “When I began fixing the bodywork issues, I ended up with five different colours on the car,” he laughs. “I couldn’t afford a traditional paint job due to being a student, and I still had a huge list of maintenance and repairs to tackle, so the idea of painting it myself in flat military green was very appealing. It had an aggressive feel to it, and allowed me to easily change and add body panels as needed. It also made all the trim work that much easier, because subdued black and flat green are perfectly paired!

    “The entire attitude of the car followed the suspension setup and colour choice, although modifications such as the Kamotors arch flares were a product of necessity – especially with 8”-wide wheels and 245-section tyres on the rear – that just happened to enhance the overall demeanour of the car.” That Foha three-piece spoiler was certainly a lucky find too, it complements the hammered-together-by- The-A-Team vibe perfectly.

    Of course, it’s no good having a car that goes like a train, handles like a sticky panther, and looks like a militaristic warlord if you don’t actually have anywhere to sit.

    That rain-saturated tan leather trim had to go. “The interior of the car was in a horrible state of decay and disrepair,” Matthew grimaces. “When I replaced the battery tray, I took the opportunity to swap the dash with a crack-free one; I then followed that with converting the interior to black since I wasn’t a fan of the tan anyway! Through the forums I made contact with Kevin Chinn of Creative Options to discuss an upholstery kit, and after several conversations I decided on microsuede centres on the seats with vinyl bolsters for ease of maintenance. The seams were done with factory-style French stitching in light Olive green.

    Before the seats went back in I dyed the carpet black, and so the weekend ended with me having stained and sore fingers but amazing upholstery!” When we ask Matthew what his favourite result of all this homegrown dabbling is, he’s quick to answer: it’s the engine bay. The functional, severe exterior just doesn’t prepare people for the sorted, shaved, shiny bay that hides under the bonnet, and it certainly raises eyebrows at shows. And raising eyebrows is what this car was built to do.

    All sorted, then? Job done? Oh, no – Matthew’s far from finished here. “My list of mods isn’t based on winning the lottery, it’s based on money over time,” he says. “I’ve slowly but surely built it to be what you see now, and as time goes on it will only improve. Stay tuned!” We certainly will. But in the meantime, Matthew, you’d better head off along that Parkway. There are childhood dreams there waiting to be fulfilled…

    Ultimately I used autocross and mountain roads to dial in my suspension.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE Turbo #BMW-E30 Cab / #BMW-M30 / #M30 / #Borg-Warner-EFR / #Borg-Warner / #M30-Turbo / #Megasquirt-MS2 / #Megasquirt / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-E30-Turbo / #BMW-E30-M30 / #H&R

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 bored out to 3573cc, #Borg-Warner-EFR-7670 turbo, #Tial 44mm wastegate, 94mm #Wiseco 8.7:1 forged pistons, #ARP head studs, Cometic MLS head gasket, M30B34 high-speed balanced and tuned crankshaft, 9.5 aluminium #Aasco flywheel, M30B35 ported and smoothed head, Cat Cams dual-profile turbo camshaft, IE heavy duty rockers, rocker locks, high performance springs, Rapid Spool Industries exhaust manifold, #Siemens-Deka 60lb/h injectors, Megasquirt MS2 engine management, custom fabricated oil distribution block for turbo feed and gauges, #Qbang engine mounts, Volvo 960 intercooler, Innovate LC-1 wideband controller, heat-wrapped 3.5” downpipe and wastegate piping, 3” straight-through exhaust with Magnaflow resonator and vband couplers, #Getrag-260/6 five-speed manual gearbox, Spec Racing stage 3+ clutch, Z3 short-shift

    POWER 450whp @ 5200rpm, 524lb ft of torque @ 4550rpm

    CHASSIS 8x16” ET20 (front and rear) XXR 521 wheels with 225/50 (front) and 245/45 (rear) #BF-Goodrich G-Force Sport tyres, #H&R-J-Spec front springs with #Bilstein Sport shocks, 650lb rear GE springs and adjusters, #Vorshlag camber plates, E36 steering rack, Treehouse Racing control arm bushings - powdercoated silver, stainless steel brake lines, ATE Orbital grooved front discs with Pagid pads, #Bremmerman cross-drilled rear discs, wheel stud conversion, #AKG 75D 12mm offset rear subframe and diff bushings, #AKG 75D trailing arm bushings

    EXTERIOR Kamotors arch flares, E30 front lip, DIY smoked Hella Ellipsoid lights, all-red taillights, plastic bumper swap, third brake light delete, three-piece Foha spoiler, DIY double brake light upgrade, Shadowline trim, satin finish Olive Drab green paint, Euro grilles, Euro plate filler, late model rear lower valance

    INTERIOR M-Tech 1 steering wheel, #VDO oil pressure, oil temperature and Innovate AFR gauges in DIY centre console, E36 rear view mirror, E34 leather handbrake handle, Justrack Econometer boost/vac gauge, Jaywood digital voltmeter, E36 window switches, brushed aluminium cluster rings and Alpina stripe, Creative Options interior upholstery kit, clutch stop, carpet dyed black, recovered windscreen, UUC weighted gear knob
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  •   Rob Scorah reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Jim Amelinckx’s E30 is far more than simply a nicely painted 3 Series on shiny wheels. It’s the product of a steamy automotive love affair that’s seen the car transformed in every conceivable area… Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: Kevin Raekelboom M30 E30 335i #Big-Six-swapped stunner.

    FROM BRUSSELS WITH LOVE #M30-swapped E30

    Love is a smoke, raised with the fume of sighs.’ A line from Romeo and Juliet, in which Shakespeare isn’t trying to be lewd – at least, not overtly, although he’s always up to something, isn’t he? Instead he is encapsulating the nature of love manifested by that most deeply personal and intimate of sounds: when you emit a sigh of passion, there really is no more honest or truthful expression of your pleasure.

    In the case of the low-down bruiser of an E30 you’re looking at here, that couldn’t be more true. But the smoke here isn’t merely the manifold sighs emitted by its owner and creator, Jim Amelinckx, impassioned as he is by the myriad custom alterations he’s made. No, we can throw in the crackling hydrocarbons of high-octane fuel and the whiff of scorched and atomising rubber into this heady soup of fumes – the love for this man and his car builds upon Shakespearean intimacy and takes us to a whole other place.

    “It all started at the end of last year,” he says, affectionately caressing the car’s silkysmooth flanks as he flutters his besotted eyelashes. “I bought this car from a very good friend in Holland with the intention of using it as a daily driver, but that only lasted for about three weeks before suddenly that wasn’t my plan any more!”

    What happened? He must have seen something in the E30 – some spark of potential, a glimmer of a hope that the bogstandard beige retro plodder could be something more, something special.

    “So we began the task of painting the car, and after that… well, we did all the rest. We worked on it five days a week for six months, with a lot of friends pitching in to get this car beautiful before the summer. You see, that’s what we do here over the winter…”

    You may have heard this sort of talk before in Scandinavia, this idea of hunkering down and riding out the harsh and freezing winter months by locking the garage door, sticking the kettle on, donning a set of thermal long johns and setting about the task of building an incredible car, ready for when the snow thaws and the roads are suitable for tyre-squealing mischief again.


    But in fact, Jim doesn’t live in Scandinavia – he lives in Belgium. You get the idea though. And the ‘we’ he’s talking about? There’s two names you need to know: first, Brussels Finest – an online collective of real-world modified car buddies whose main aim is to hammer together badass rides and generally support each other in their hobby. And second, the amusinglytitled Racepoutin’s – the fellas who roll up their sleeves and engineer the solutions to the self-imposed problems that modifying cars brings to the table.

    We’ll start with the paintwork, then. If the colour looks familiar, it’s because it’s a shade you’d normally find on a shiny new 5 Series: Mineral grey. But don’t go thinking that this car is just a straight and solid car with a nice paint job… Jim may have found himself a decent donor (albeit a beige one), but that didn’t stop him tearing into pretty much every aspect of it with the aim of increasing the love. “It’s a 1984 335i,” he grins mischievously, which should give you some idea as to what’s gone on under the bonnet. Indeed, if you’re an engine nerd and you’ve glanced over to the underbonnet pics, you’ll already have guessed what the score is: the Racepoutin’s crew have creatively buttered an #M30B35 in there. The very same engine that you’d expect to find inside an E28 M535i; the 3.4-litre straight-six (don’t let the name fool you, it has a 3428cc displacement) that kicks out a long way north of 200 horses and makes all manner of aggressive rumbling noises.


    Jim’s mated it to a Getrag five-speeder to keep things appropriately racy and, of course, to keep those fumes of love evaporating into the surrounding atmosphere. These guys have imparted an amusing spin on the folkloric 335i concept, and the work really does pay dividends. But wait, there’s more! A neat paint job and a swanky drivetrain upgrade are a supercool combo but Jim and his cronies had far more planned in order to fill up those long winter days. The devil makes work for idle hands, and all that.

    “The E30 is one of the best old-skool Beemers out there,” Jim beams, “so there were a lot of cool things I wanted to do. One of them was to fit a custom air-ride system…” He’s intriguingly tight-lipped on the specs here, and that’s a very race-team approach; after all, the cunning strategists behind, say, a Le Mans squad or a BTCC outfit wouldn’t go about giving away all their secrets to all and sundry. No, they play it like a sneaky game of poker. The thing’s airedout and it looks awesome. They’re the salient points here.

    “Let’s talk about the brakes,” Jim enthuses, hurrying us along. He encourages us to take a look, and it all appears familiar… so what’s the source? “We upgraded it to E36 M3 brakes all-round,” he grins. Which makes sense, really – a chunky set of stoppers to haul in the extra grunt brought forth by that meatier motor. A wise and sound move.

    “Ah, I’ve spent way too much on this car,” Jim laughs, opening a door to help demonstrate why. “Way too much. I’ve stopped counting it all up otherwise I’d just have to find myself another hobby! But I’m proud to say I did it myself along with the help of my friends, who provided a lot of great company on all those late nights.”

    Part of the reason for the spiralling budget is staring us in the face as we peer inside. The interior treatment really is very cool, centring around a pair of gorgeously trimmed Recaro CS buckets with diamondquilted leather that cheekily harks back to the car’s original paint colour. And the rear seats? They’ve been junked entirely, in favour of a shiny polished roll-cage that further speaks to the inherent race car vibe that’s bundled up inside this subtle but gorgeously finished build.


    The term ‘sleeper’ gets thrown around a lot and it’s not always appropriate. Hell, it’s not totally appropriate here – there are clues to the knowledgeable that all isn’t as it seems, from the custom widened steel arches and the über-slick Kerscher wheels to the glimpse of the cage peeking out through the rear windows – but at the same time, this is by no means an ostentatious or shouty car. At first glance it appears to simply be a wellkept example of an ’80s BMW rather than an obviously low-down, powerful hot rod. But that, of course, is all part of its charm. Whispering has far more impact than shouting in cases like this. And the sighing whispers of love? Doubly so.


    “I really wouldn’t improve a thing about the way the car drives,” says Jim, happily proving that this is far more than simply a polished show car. “I’d describe it as optimal; the power, the brakes, the acceleration – no words needed, it’s just love. And I reckon the fitment of the wheels is probably my favourite element of the car; the 18” Kerschers are exactly what I imagined the car should have, and I’d never consider changing them. Why would you change a winning team?” Well, quite.

    “I see a lot of guys taking pictures of the car while I’m driving it around, and people are always curious to find out what’s under the bonnet when they see me burning rubber,” he continues. “It’s the product of inspiration really, and the internet and Google are my best friend when it comes to researching new ideas.”

    The best way to really describe it, though, is simply as a labour of love. There was a spark of inspiration that inspired Jim to rope in his mates and turn this E30 into something infinitely more special than merely a cheap runaround, and the result is a creation that reflects his personality as much as it does his obvious, unashamed love for the self-styled 335i. “Oh, and you should see her shimmy around Zolder,” he whispers.

    See, this is more than simply the product of a group of friends cracking open a set of spanners and a case of beers – this is true love. Jim and his E30 are a Shakespearean tale of infatuation with a retro-styled but super-modern twist. The fume of sighs, and a full-on 99-RON love affair.

    DATA FILE BMW #BMW-M30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-335i / #BMW-335i-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-E30-M30 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E30

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B35 / #M30 , #Getrag five-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 8.5x18” (front) and 9.5x18” (rear) #Kerscher wheels with 215/35 (front) and 225/35 (rear) Toyo tyres, custom air-ride system with Racepoutin’s boot build, E36 M3 brake conversion (front and rear)

    EXTERIOR Full respray in Mineral grey, steel arch flares (1.5cm wider than stock)

    INTERIOR Custom-trimmed Recaro CS seats, roll-cage, M-Tech 1 steering wheel, 318iS red digit dials, Viair pressure gauge in clock console, custom Alcantara trim
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  •   George Dziedzic reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Desert Strike. With 400whp courtesy of a turbocharged M20, this stunning, home-built E30 is a real weapon. Words: Seb de Latour. Photos: Gil Folk y first car was a 1.0-litre #Citroen Saxo.

    It was Admiral blue and the only thing I did to it was fit an air freshener and, as it was the days before technology existed, one of those tape deck adapters that let you plug your Discman into the stereo. What’s a Discman? Ask your parents. Kameron Baker’s first car was this #1989 #E30 #325i and over the ensuing eight years he’s built it up into something rather spectacular. It was thanks to his father that Kameron came to own this #BMW-E30 , as he explains: “My dad worked at a car lot at the time and someone traded the E30 in.

    He brought it home one day and I fell in love with it. Being only $800 it was prefect for a high schooler. It was actually in very good condition. The interior was mint and apart from a small spot of peeling clear coat the paint was great. Also it had less than 100,000 miles on it.” As well as being a bit of a bargain and a pretty sweet first car, it opened Kameron’s eyes to the world of classic BMWs: “This little E30 is what got me into older BMWs.

    Before this I had never been in or even thought of owning one but as soon as I drove it I knew it was something special. The way it handled and the smoothness of the 2.5-litre in-line six got me hooked.” And so another #BMW fan was born. So, you’re 16, you’ve got a bright red BMW and there’s a 2.5-litre straight-six under the bonnet – there’s clearly only one way this story was ever going to go. “This was the first car I ever modified,” says Kameron. “I owned it for less than a month before I started changing and modifying things on it, sometimes things I regretted later but to be fair, I was only 16 at the time. I just kept it clean for a few weeks and then started modifying.

    My first modifications were a cold air intake and cat-back exhaust. Basically the two easiest things you can do to make a car sound better and drive better.” But, of course, we all know that you can never stop with just a couple of mods and Kameron was about to get seriously stuck into his E30 project: “When I first got the car my dad and I always talked about how we wanted to get it down to a five-second 0-60 time. In the ’80s the car’s 170hp M20 ran a 0-60 in seven seconds. My car was also an automatic so achieving that time took a lot of work. The best I got it down to as a naturally aspirated auto M20 was 6.8 seconds; that was with weight reduction, a MAF conversion, long tube headers, and a 4.27 Torsen differential out of a #BMW-Z3 . Back then I would have been happy with 200hp.

    “Before this project I had no real-world experience with modifying cars. Before I turbo’d the E30 I got a 2004 Subaru WRX and that really opened my mind to what a proper turbo setup can do to a car.

    I saw 21 that the car had lots of potential and at the time I’d always be looking up E30 videos on the internet watching the crazy Euro/Swedish/Norwegian E30s that can smoke the tyres at 60mph; it was just something that I wanted to do. I wanted a crazy E30, something that never gets boring and is always an adrenaline rush to drive. It was only after getting out of high school that I could afford to turbo the car. It originally started as a budget build but I just kept on improving the setup and eventually ended up with a 400whp turbo M20 that I could drive everyday without issue. “The car was 100% built by me in a little garage that doesn’t even have a door on it. When you start out that young you can hardly afford the parts so there is no way you can pay someone to install the parts as well.

    I just had to give it a try. My dad helped me until I got the hang of things and I never stopped.” So in a short space of time Kameron went from an intake and exhaust to a 400whp selfbuilt turbo setup; that’s about 470hp at the crank and in a car weighing around 1300kg, that gives this E30 a power-to-weight ratio similar to that of an Audi R8 GT V10, a 5.7-litre V12 Lamborghini Diablo or a Ferrari 599. That means it’s fast with a capital F. “I did all modifications to the engine as well. The first timing belt/head swap I did took around ten hours; I have it down to around five hours now. For the M20 I kept it simple. It ran a Bimmerheads cylinder head with dual pattern turbo cam and HD rocker arms.

    The bottom end was left 100% original and I ran ARP head studs with a Goetze head gasket. I had the turbo build done in around a month or two. It worked so much better than I expected, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I’d never been in a sixcylinder car before so the first time I went WOT with the Holset turbocharger it blew my mind. I was only at 7psi and I couldn’t believe how much faster the car was. At this point the car was still an automatic. This was its weak link and so the auto ’box had to go, although it was very still fast with an auto. The Getrag 260 manual swap followed shortly.” Along with the manual ’box, Kameron added a Stage 3 Spec clutch and a 13lb flywheel. At the rear sits a 3.73 ratio LSD with #Porsche 2.1mm discs. It certainly does the job, as can be seen in Kameron’s YouTube videos (search for Kameron Baker). So, this E30 delivers on the performance front, and then some, but it also looks damn delicious. A red two-door is a great base to start from and Kameron has really put a lot of effort into the styling and made a really unique-looking car that stands out from the crowd and blends OE subtlety with a wild streak perfectly.

    “OEM+ was the goal,” he says, “although I may have lost that look since I had to hack up the body to fit my flares and wide tyres. I just really like the old-skool BMWs and Alpina cars, so going with an authentic Alpina kit was always the goal. Plus my flares are similar to what you’d see on a 2002 turbo so I feel it still has a nice ’80s look to it.” And those wild flares are filled with something that isn’t a crossspoke split-rim, for a change. “I’ve always liked the sportier-looking wheels as opposed to the deep-dish wheels. This means I’ve run wheels including TRM C1s, OZ Superleggeras and now the STR 518s. I change wheels every time I burn through a set of tyres and I’ve gone through three sets in the last year, so goodness knows what wheels I’ll have next. You can always make back a good amount of money selling your old wheels off so I like to try different looks out.” True enough and variety is the spice of life after all, so why not have some fun? The 9x17” 518s look seriously tough in black and tie-in perfectly with the whole black and red colour scheme on the car. Kameron’s also achieved pretty much the perfect stance thanks to a set of Ground Control coilovers, which help the tyres tuckin nicely under the pumped-up arches. The arches are actually Kameron’s own design and are available from his Kamotors store.

    As a result the car just sits so right and looks mean. Despite being modern rims, the motorsport-style of the wheels fits perfectly with the ethos of the whole car and suit the E30 shape. We love the styling of the car as a whole – the black and red colour scheme is really bold and striking and those front and rear Alpina spoilers add an extra splash of aggression, especially with the addition of that custom front splitter. The side skirts come courtesy of #Zender and there are loads of little details that are easy to miss but make all the difference, such as the rear plate filler, Euro grilles, the #Alpina -inspired M20 Turbo front grille badge and the carbon fibre foglight blanks, also from Kamotors. We also love what Kameron’s done on the inside.
    At first glance it looks completely stock, bar the addition of boost and wideband gauges, but take a glance in the back and you’ll notice that it’s been completely stripped out, shedding some weight in the process but without making things uncomfortable for the two people up front. You might think that Kameron’s E30 has reached its zenith but an unfortunate incident gave him the perfect excuse for a bit of an upgrade. “Since this photoshoot I actually ended up swapping out the #M20 for an #M30B35 running a Precision 6266 turbocharger. I actually overheated the M20 whilst having a bit too much fun at around 25psi and the block cracked, allowing coolant to slowly leak up a head stud hole and pollute my oil. I still drove over 1000 miles to Bimmerfest but after that the engine was pulled and replaced with the much torquier #M30 .”

    Every cloud and all that… So, with a new engine and even more performance you’d think that maybe Kameron was done but that’s a case of easier said than done. “I’m not sure what to move onto now,” he says. “I’ve had the E30 for around eight years so it’s hard to stop. I’m thinking of something like a Volvo 240 with a large turbo. Basically I want a collection of brick-shaped cars from the ’80s.” That would be very cool indeed… People have been strapping turbos to E30s for donkey’s years but Kameron’s car really has that special something that makes it stand out. The styling is pretty unique and we love the little personal flourishes and the attention to detail. It’s a real enthusiast’s build and a real performance BMW.

    DATA FILE

    ENGINE: 2.5-litre straight-six M20B25 with original bottom end, Bimmerheads cylinder head, dual pattern turbo cam, HD rockers, Kamotors turbo setup with TD06SL2-20g turbo, 3” charge pipe, 3” exhaust, methanol injection, PNP Megasquirt ECU with wasted spark, 400whp @ 19psi.

    TRANSMISSION: Getrag 260 with Spec Stage 3 clutch and 13lb flywheel, 3.73 LSD with Porsche 2.1mm discs.

    CHASSIS: 9x17” (front & rear) STR 518 alloys with 245/40 tyres, Ground Control coilovers, 22mm front anti-roll bar, Eibach 16mm rear anti-roll bar, #AKG adjustable lollipop brackets, UUC camber plates, polybushes all-round, UUC BBK with fourpiston calipers and two-piece 298mm drilled discs.

    EXTERIOR: Authentic Alpina front and rear spoiler with a custom front splitter, Zender side skirts, Kamotors standard width arch flares, smoked smiley headlights, smoked tail-lights, rear plate filler, Euro grilles, Kamotors carbon fibre foglight delete.

    INTERIOR: Original seats and steering wheel, boost gauge and wideband gauge, rear stripped out.

    THANKS: I need to thank my friends who helped me do things like transmission swaps with nothing more than jack stands and a cheap set of sockets and those of you on the forums who helped me with the build and bought parts from me to help fund the build.
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  •   George Dziedzic reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Charged #BMW #325i #E30 #Touring . As an established trendsetter, Dips of Custom Cars knows a thing or two about breaking the mould. His latest project, a subtly styled E30 325i, has all the hallmarks of originality you’d expect. Oh, did we mention it’s also the UK’s first supercharged E30 Touring? Words: Joel Newman. Photos: Mark Fagelson.

    Those of you out there who have been involved in the BMW scene over the years can’t have failed to notice how far things have progressed. Back in #2003 , PBMW’s cover cars consisted of mainly bodykitted and, if we’re honest slightly bling Bavarian metal. At a time when less certainly didn’t mean more, the cars with all their bolt-on parts, chrome detailing and lairy paint schemes lacked a certain amount of class. The boundaries and realms that modifiers and tuners wished to breach were undeniably more restricted, there was far less innovation.

    As the old saying goes, ‘you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been’, and it’s a sentiment that is utterly relevant to modifying, and indeed many facets of life. Even BMW itself has to continually keep the ball rolling, by developing new technologies, and designing and marketing its cars around modern ideals and fashions. We live in a world that changes constantly, an #iPod generation, and it requires rapid evolution. Our TVs are getting bigger and flatter, our diets are far healthier and most importantly our expectations are at an alltime high.

    So, it’s no surprise really that the bar has been raised, with stunning cars shooting up like pubescent teenagers. People are starting to really go to town on their motors, especially within the UK and it has kicked the BMW scene firmly up the backside. In fact even established modifiers have been at it, like Dips, the man behind this, Britain’s first supercharged E30 Touring.

    Many of you will already know Dips, the owner of Custom Cars in Heston. He’s built a reputation around assembling one-off projects that tick all the right boxes, many of which have been featured in this very mag. He also currently owns 12 BMWs including a #2002 once belonging to David Bowie, a 3-door E30 Touring, one of only four ever made, two #E21 s and an E30 pickup. He’s probably better known for the turbo’d E30 with 3.5-litre #M30 powerplant he produced, the first of its kind in the UK (PBMW 03/05). More recently Dips and his business partner Jas have created a turbo’d two-tone touring which featured in the 02/07 edition of PBMW. Today, however, we are here for a different reason, Dips has decided to pull the covers off his latest project, a Malachite green E30 Touring with a difference. A gigantic, #M90 #Eaton long nose supercharger lifted from a four-litre #Jaguar XKR. A project that proves he and his company is capable and willing to take on virtually anything, whether it has been done before or not.

    The idea for this car came about in 2001 when Dips and Jas lightly modified a similar model. Sporting angel eyes, 19” wheels and a sound system, the car went down a treat on the show scene, but as Dips pointed out, “back then big wheels and a decent stereo was all you needed to impress people”. What the duo soon realised was using a more unique base car such as an estate also helped grab people’s attention; it also opens up doors for those who cannot afford the latest and greatest BMW offerings.

    Eventually Dips decided that he wanted to use this project to make another huge impact on the UK scene. He wanted to create something that could be reproduced for customers, something that would get him and his company noticed and, of course, something that would be a hoot to drive. It wasn’t long before he decided to resurrect the E30 Touring concept, but this time he was going to add the most enormous supercharger he could find.

    Dips began by finding the right car, a Malachite green E30 325i Touring. He wanted to create the ultimate street sleeper so it was important the body work was in mint condition as the car was, externally speaking, going to be left relatively standard. Once the motor was sourced, it was time to go ’charger hunting; step up good old eBay.

    Dips searched long and hard, his criteria, to find the biggest ’charger he could and strap it to the #M20 lump. Eventually he opted for an Eaton long nosed system, commonly used on the Jag XKR, Ford Thunderbird and the Mercury Cougar XR-7. Generally found on V8 engines, you might be wondering why Dips opted for such a distinctive setup. “The truth is people thought it couldn’t be done. I like to change people’s perceptions and when I hear the words ‘can’t’ or ‘impossible’ it makes me more determined.”

    Clearly this man is determined, as the installation required more than a tad of customisation. Firstly Dips needed to fabricate mounting brackets for the ’charger in order to make use of the engine bay’s spare space, remember we are dealing with an epic bit of kit! Then a custom inlet was manufactured with twin returns so the dump valves and idle stabilisers could be recalculated. Thirdly Dips needed to make a custom inlet plate with take offs for the recirculating dump valves.

    To make sure spool up was ninja quick Dips removed the original pulleys and replaced them with #E36 2.22” 6 rib variants capable of handling 8psi of boost. He also needed to fabricate a new crank pulley. This was achieved by splicing the E36 face to the original E30 part. To aid with supercharger belt tension, E36 power steering pulleys were also employed. To increase fuel pressure a power boost valve was popped in, facilitated with an additional EMF-2 fuel computer that is activated via an adjustable boost switch. Fuelling can now be controlled from 2000rpm to 8000rpm at a predetermined boost level. Apart from fiddling, to put it lightly, with the new installation, Dips also had to relocate many of the car’s original components from the air flow meter to the ECU relays. “I’ve learnt a lot and the knowledge and experience I’ve gained will hopefully be passed down to customers. I like to experiment with my own cars, so I get everything right first time for clients,” he says, and it’s a great business strategy.

    Since the unit has been up and running, Dips has done his best to find a weakness in the system, in other words, ragging the sheet out of it! So far the only problem has been one he predicted: “Forced induction cars use head bolts that do not stretch under high pressure. As the E30 was naturally aspirated the 80bhp power hike the ’charger brought to the party was simply too much for the original gasket and bolts to take.” He had to throw in a new, original but slightly thicker head gasket and ARP no-stretch head bolts. The resulting engine is not only visually impressive; it has got the clout to back it up. It produces approximately 250bhp and oodles of torque. Dips tells me that a recent encounter with a #E46 #330d left the opposing driver ever so slightly embarrassed: “We both floored it and the gap just kept on growing. Because the car is so stealthy he had no idea what was under the bonnet. I love that, the surprise element.” As surreptitious as this ride is, the keen eye will spot a few subtle modifications to the interior and exterior. Clearly Dips’ years of experience have given him a very clear idea of what should, and importantly what should not be fiddled with. Externally he’s tinted the windows, and to maintain the car’s clean and sleek appearance the locks, side-repeators and the badges removed, the door handles and mirrors colour-coded. Up front the kidney grille has been blackened, highlighting the car’s imposing front end. This look is reaffirmed by the smoked Hella headlights, iS front lip spoiler and SE side skirts.

    On the interior the saga continues. Cloth Recaro beige seats look smart and work well with the car’s green hue, while the colour-coded steering wheel also helps with the subtle but provoking styling. Some of you may also have noticed the beige dashboard that could come as a surprise considering they were only ever available in black. So what’s the deal? In a moment of inspiration Dips decided to colonise the original dashboard. In layman’s terms this meant removing it, and colouring it with beige leather dye. He tells me, “I wasn’t sure if it would work but I thought it was worth a try. It came out so well that everyone thinks it’s an original item. I don’t know why BMW never thought to do it themselves, it really does transform the interior space.”

    I have to agree with Dips here, it’s a fantastic idea that looks like a factory option. He tells me he is able to do this for customers too, and the good news is it’s extremely affordable, and one modification I sincerely recommend for any BMW owner. Finally, the ride is set off with 16” Borbet C wheels that are more than fitting and in keeping with the old skool theme. Dips also had one last treat for us: a colourcoded Mini Moto housed in the boot! Straight pimpin’ I think you’ll agree.

    As the day draws to a close I ask Dips if the car is finished. Laughing, he tells me, “Nowhere near, we’re ripping out the engine next week and sticking in the S70 5.6 litre V12 from the #850CSi #E31 . I’ve got an E30 #M3 with a 4.6-litre #TVR V8 lump and it’s getting lonely!”

    Dips is an addict, he loves and needs modified BMWs in his life, and plainly if the scene is to keep on moving forward, the BMW community needs him too.

    DATA FILE

    ENGINE: 2.5-litre straight-six M20, Eaton M90 long nose supercharger with custom mounting brackets, custom inlet plate with twin returns, E36 2.22” 6 rib drive pulley, modified E36 crank pulley, E36 power steering pulleys, fuel power boost valve, EMF-2 fuel computer, relocation of the ECU relays and air flow meter, Custom Cars stainless steel exhaust system, NOS setup. Custom Cars short shift kit CHASSIS: 7.5x16” Borbet C wheels shod in 205/45 Falken tyres all round. 60mm drop on Spax springs and shocks, Custom Cars front strut brace. Standard brake discs and pads.

    EXTERIOR: iS front lip spoiler, black kidney grille, SE side skirts, colour-coded mirrors and door handles, de-locked, de-badged, side repeaters deleted, flushed boot lid, smoked Hella headlights and indicators, smoked rear lights, light smoked window tints.

    INTERIOR: Cloth beige Recaro interior, dyed beige dashboard, colour-coded steering wheel, colour-coded mini moto in boot ICE: Pioneer MP3 player, Focal 5” speakers.

    THANKS: Custom Cars (07958 432167) and everyone that helped with the project, especially my mate Clive Anderson for the fabrication work.

    Classic Borbet C alloys reflect the Touring’s subtle styling while a colour-coded mini moto is a tasty extra.

    M90 Eaton long nosed ’charger takes up plenty of room; at least it’s bringing an additional 80bhp to the party years of experience have give.

    Dips a clear idea of what should and, importantly, what should not be fiddled with.

    Colonised beige dash looks beautiful and updates the cabin perfectly, green steering wheel adds a neat touch.
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  •   George Dziedzic reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    What’s in your Garage?

    We meet a man with a fine selection of rare and modified BMWs in South Africa.

    The finest BMW collection on the African continent and arguably one of the best in the southern hemisphere, each one of these eight machines is a masterpiece in its own right Words: Johann Venter. Photography: Oliver Hirtenfelder.

    Jack Kaplan’s reputation precedes him. His cars have been featured in BMW Car multiple times over the years and won countless accolades. Indeed, they continue to do so, including numerous classes at the South African BMW Car Club’s annual Concours. This year was no exception, his #2002 Turbo taking top honours in the d’Honneur Modified, Best Classic and Best 2002 classes.

    As we arrive at Jack's home under the cover of darkness for our 5.30am shoot, snapper Oli cannot contain himself and starts shooting before Jack can completely raise the garage door. Each masterpiece is neatly cocooned in a grey car cover; six cars are housed in the one garage while the remaining two share a second garage with less favourable stablemates. Once all the covers are removed one is completely seduced as some of the most revered models that BMW has ever spawned are revealed – it is truly a sight to behold.

    Jack is a true petrolhead, having raced his own cars and several dragsters, with an astonishing ensemble of BMWs, yet he is the most softly-spoken gentleman I have come across. After Oli has snapped away to his heart’s content Jack treats us to breakfast before we delve into his collection. It is hard to believe that before buying his first #BMW in #1983 Jack was considering a #Skyline #GTX 2.8. Thankfully a friend intervened – pointing Jack in the direction of an #E30 #323i – and sanity prevailed. Jack’s immediate impressions were that the BMW was much better put together in terms of the fit and finish and once he had driven the car he was sold. Ever since then he has been infatuated with BMW.

    Jack confesses that he has had quite a few BMWs over the years. That’s nothing to be ashamed of Jack, we like the fact that you've had multiple BMWs! “I regret not having kept all of them but then I could not afford to get a new one without trading in the old one. Once I could afford to not have to trade them in I kept all of them,” he explained.

    They say that you always remember your first true love, so what impression did the 323i leave on Jack? “The 323i led me to bigger and better things,” he replied. “These cars were known for cambelt failure and mine was no different so while my engine was being repaired I traded it in for an #E30 #325i Saloon, in Henna red. It was a great car, I really loved it. The handling was superb, it was a true driver’s car.” Jack then opted for the first version of the E30 #325iS (commonly known as the Evo 1) in silver, a South African special with a 2.7-litre engine partly developed with #Alpina . It had a power output of 197hp (145kW) and a maximum torque figure of 195lb ft (265Nm). “Not to get into too much detail but let’s just say that the iS was too much car for me to handle at that point,” he told us.

    True to form, Jack then followed this by getting the second iteration of the iS: the Evo 2. It’s the Alpine white one you can see in the photos. Jack got it as a company car in 1991. It still has the original windscreen and the air-con has never been regassed yet it can create an Arctic atmosphere in seconds. It’s a bit of a sleeper – bog standard on the outside except for the grille that has been colour-coded like E30 racers of old. “The engine has been enhanced by gas-flowing the cylinder head and installing a 280-degree camshaft. The late great Tony Viana [legendary BMW race driver in South Africa] installed the Unichip, the air-box was modified and a specially fabricated Sports exhaust was fitted,” Jack revealed.

    South Africans were denied the E30 M3 as it was produced in left-hand drive only and were therefore so much more receptive to the launch of #E36 M3 in South Africa 21 years ago, compared to the lukewarm reception it received in Europe. The initial batch that landed in South Africa predominantly had cloth seats that were structurally different from the leather ‘Vader’ seats. Jack elaborated: “I wanted the black Nappa leather seats so I had to wait for what seemed like an eternity. Fortunately I managed to keep the iS and used the #M3 as my daily-driver, but soon thereafter decided on a V6 Ford Ranger bakkie [pick-up] as a runaround. It used to jump around a lot on the road so I put a bag of cement in the boot.” The Alpine white car we see here, however, is very different from the car that Jack took delivery of in #1993 . A picture on the garage wall shows the M3 fitted with a front spoiler that made it look more like a snow plough and although the original bumper has been refitted, things are not that subtle at the rear as the boot spoiler looks like it belongs on a Learjet. The upgrades are not all cosmetic, though, as Jack explained: “It still has the original #S50 , 3.0-litre motor but to spice things up a Vortech supercharger producing 0.9bar (13.05psi) of boost was fitted and, to add to the fireworks, nitrous was added resulting in 428hp at 7000rpm.”

    At this point it seems that Jack tired of sporty Bavarian coupés and opted for an American peoplecarrier: “In #1996 I imported a brand-new left-hand drive #Chevy #Surburban 5.7-litre V8. It has three rows of seats that can comfortably seat eight people and weighs 2.7 tons. It has a cavernous boot, ideal for long stints and that is exactly what I use it for – travelling to Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape, although it only has 116,000km (72,079 miles) on the clock.” Thereafter Jack bought his first BMW 5 Series in the form of an #E39 #540i Individual with the six-speed ‘box, not a bad first choice for a 5 Series. “I really didn’t enjoy it and it didn’t fit in my collection. My wife drove it for a while and then we tired of it,” he said.

    The next car in his collection is probably the biggest show-stopper in the collection. Apparently traffic comes to a standstill and people swarm around the car whenever he takes it out to an event. “The E30 M3 is such an icon and unfortunately we never got it in South Africa,” Jack explained. “In fact, I think there are only three road-going examples in the country so you can understand why people react the way they do. I acquired this Lachs silver example in #1997 after two years of pursuing the owner with whom I conducted business with. Unfortunately his business was liquidated; I tracked down the liquidators and bought the car from them.” This is a very attractive colour and the car looks like it has just driven off the production-line. “Thousands of hours have been invested trying to achieve perfection,” Jack said. “The car was completely stripped and rebuilt from the bottom up.” Purists will once again be raising their eyebrows as Jack has fitted #E36-M3 Motorsport rims. “The E30 M3 was fitted with the #BBS crossspoke rims, as was the E30 Shadowline and iS.

    However, I really wanted my E30 M3 to be different and standout from the rest as it truly is a special car and even more so in the South African context,” Jack justified. “Those E36 M3 Motorsport rims are my ultimate favourite, you’ll see that my whole garage is full of them and if I can find another set I will buy it.” Many folk give Jack plenty of flak for not keeping his cars – especially the ones that are so collectable – completely original: “People often ask me why I don’t keep my cars as BMW intended. Whenever I get a car I change at least the pedals, exhaust and the steering wheel; this is something that I have always done. But I keep all the original parts. I always remove the radios as I prefer listening to the exhaust.” So what changes has Jack made underneath the skin of his E30 M3? “The engine has been enlarged to 2493cc through the replacement of the crankshaft and connecting rods. The cylinder head was gas-flowed and a 260-degree Schrick camshaft was installed, together with a Unichip. Better breathing apparatus was also fitted in the form of a #K&N air filter, modified air-box and a stainless steel Sports exhaust.”

    Jack does have a bit of a thing for the E30 shape though and his iS indulgence does not end with the white one he’s owned from new. “In #1999 I came across a panel beater who had managed to find an iS bodyshell. His intention was to build the car to his specifications, unfortunately he ran into financial difficulty so I bought it from him. He’d already painted the car in the colour you see here, which is a metallic dark green [this was definitely not a factory option], slightly lighter than British racing green. That is all that he had done to the car. This really gave me the opportunity to build the iS the way I wanted to.”

    We’ve seen Jack’s need for speed so we can’t resist but ask what lies underneath the bonnet? “I managed to source a 3.5-litre Alpina #M30 motor and went the whole hog again by fitting a Vortech supercharger producing 0.9bar (13.05psi) of boost and nitrous was added resulting in 373hp at 6209rpm,” he replied. That sounds like a lot of power for such a small and lightweight car. “Initially I really struggled to put all the power down onto the road. The car suffered from massive wheelspin in virtually ever gear,” he continued. “The car was also fitted with two Unichips but it was undrivable until I took it to Gavin Wilkens – the well-known South African drag champion who runs GW Racing, a specialist in high performance upgrades. Gavin advised that we fit a Domingo management system, so we did, and now you can use the car as a daily driver. It is actually now a pleasure to drive.” This iS wasn’t just used on the road though, as Jack has also raced it. “Why else do you think I had the nitrous installed?” he grinned. “I used to do the quarter-mile and top-end runs but I don’t think I will race it again in those type of events. I will most likely enter it into Fastest Street Car events or gymkhanas.”

    Jack definitely has a need for speed but we can’t help but wonder where this came from? “I developed my love for speed when I was knee-high, building soap boxes with pram wheels. In #1962 I progressed to a 50cc two-stroke Zundapp bike and then a 50cc Suzuki and then moved to the big league in the form of a Honda 300s. I first saw guys racing legally at the Tarlton International Raceway drag strip. I also raced the white iS, the E36 M3, and the #Z3 , doing Fastest Street Car races, hillclimbs, quarter-mile and top-end runs. I like gymkhanas with a quarter-mile included. I also like doing the 1km top-end races.”

    So far we’ve talked about what you could call the iconic machinery in this collection but in most people’s eyes the Z3 wouldn’t fall into that category. So what prompted Jack to buy one? “I bought my wife a brand-new red Z3 in #1999 and the following day I bought the white one you see here today. As is the case with virtually all of my cars I set out to put my own finishing touches to the car and decided on a set of ATS rims. Unfortunately the rims were too wide for the car but I bought them anyway and took the car to a panel beater that I had been using for many years. The rear fenders [wings] were summarily cut and extensions of about 75mm were fabricated and welded in. The plastic bumper was then heated and stretched to accommodate the wider wheels. I also then opted to lower the car by about 70mm; I subsequently had to raise it by 15mm as it was too low.”

    Jack’s Z3 was one of the early ones with the 2.8-litre engine so we asked if it felt a little slow in comparison to the rest of his fleet? “At that stage I was driving the E36 M3 more than anything else so there was a massive difference in power when I got into the Z3 which I just could not get used to. To remedy the situation a Powerdyne supercharger with 0.45bar (6.52psi) of boost was fitted. Needless to say I was not satisfied so we removed the motor and replaced it with the E36 M3 3.2-litre engine which had been gasflowed and at the same time fitted a Vortech supercharger with 0.9bar (13.05psi) of boost and a six-speed ‘box. From the outside it’s very apparent that this is not a standard car – it is 150mm wider and 55mm lower. It goes very well, though. The roadholding is superb, although on the top-end you do get a little bit of drift. The highest speed I achieved with it was at Waterkloof which was just over 280km/h. Strangely enough the 3.0-litre E36 M3, although heavier is faster on the top end. The #Z3 has only done 46,000km (28,583 miles).”


    Once Jack had amassed a selection of BMWs from the late 1980s and ’90s he turned his attention to those that he hankered after from the 1970s. “You’ll see I have a picture of a silver Batmobile on my garage wall as well a picture of a 2002 Turbo. I put these pictures up long before I got the cars. They served as a constant reminder that I needed to add these machines to my collection; these cars were always part of my BMW aspirations.”

    The E9 ‘Batmobile’ could be taken for a genuine example at first glance but despite being a replica it looks absolutely magnificent. “I agree,” said Jack, “although this was not the case when I initially got it. I was contacted by the owner who wanted to sell through the BMW Club, so I went and looked at it. The car was very rough and had been in an accident but not well repaired. It was originally a #CSi but fortunately the owner had the entire aero kit that was fitted to the Batmobile, so I decided to take it and got it at a real steal. The car was stripped down completely. It was initially red so we resprayed it Polaris silver. The seats were recovered by #BMW-SA in Rosslyn (tri-colour inserts included) and the front seats were replaced with Recaro Sport seats, as found in the E30 M3.

    “The car had a 3.5-litre #M30 motor which was rebuilt, a set of BBS cross-spoke rims were fitted to complement the chrome mirrors, beadings and wheel arches. I struggled to find the wheel arches. The first set I sourced secondhand from the UK. I shouldn’t have bothered, what was sent was appalling.

    Eventually I managed to find a set in the States. It took four years to do the restoration, but it was worth it as the car now looks fantastic… and goes even better.”

    Jack’s #2002-Turbo should need no introduction as it featured in the September issue of BMW Car. It’s a lovely car. Jack told us its history: “When I acquired the car it was already Chamonix white. When Nicky Oppenheimer ordered it in #1974 he had three requests: that it be Golf yellow and fitted with electric windows and an electric sunroof. According to Robert Gruenberger, founder of the 2002 Turbo Club in Germany, four of these cars were shipped to Angola.

    To make it more drivable I had a Turbonetics turbo fitted with 0.62bar (8.9psi) of boost, together with a purpose-built intercooler. In addition, an Electromotive direct ignition system was fitted, the cylinder head gas-flowed and a custom-built Sports exhaust installed. To improve the ride and handling Bilstein dampers and a front custom-made strut-brace were fitted. The brakes were uprated with 305mm ventilated cross-drilled Wilwood discs with matching Superlight 4-pod callipers in the front and 255mm drums at the rear.”


    The last machine in Jack’s collection – a #635CSi #E24 – is a trifle unusual as it hasn’t been treated to the usual set of upgrades, as Jack explained: “In my opinion it’s the most handsome GT BMW has ever produced. Mine is an #1984 model with the #E28 running gear which makes for better handling. This car is completely original, I have done absolutely nothing to it. It even has the radio that I bought it with. It is Opal green with a Perlbeige interior and came with all the extras of a luxury GT of the day including leather Sports seats (unfortunately not Recaros), air-con, electric windows, sunroof and seats. The drive is superb thanks to the manual ‘box together with the limited-slip differential. It’s definitely one of the great touring cars of its time”.

    All of Jack’s cars are pristine and completely spotless. He’s achieved this through his lifelong dedication to cleaning, maintaining and enhancing each of these paragons. What stands out most for us, however, is the craftsmanship, precision and attention to detail that is found underneath each bonnet. This is in part achieved through the extensive use of Russell braided fuel lines, adaptors, hoses, hose ends, tube nuts and Raceware aerospace-quality engine fasteners. One side of Jack’s garage wall is covered in certificates, a testament to what he has achieved with these shining examples of Bavarian metal.

    We can’t leave without asking which one of this superb fleet is Jack’s favourite? “Without a doubt, it’s definitely the white iS,” he said with a grin. “The only cars I drive regularly, though, are the green iS and the Z3. The others I only take to shows and events, although I mostly drive my V8 #Chevrolet #Lumina SS 6.0-litre bakkie.”

    “In my opinion it’s the most handsome GT BMW has ever produced”

    The newest car Jack has is the #1999 Z3. We ask him why this is? “The newer BMWs are fantastic but they don’t give me that driving by the seat-of-yourpants experience,” he told us. “It’s almost as if the car is driving you. Newer BMWs give me the sensation that I am in a plane that is on auto-pilot.”

    While a modern BMW might not feature in Jack’s plans there is one more icon that’s still missing from his collection, a machine that has so far eluded him: “There is a picture of an #M1 on my garage wall that still needs to come to fruition,” he revealed. Well, knowing Jack’s attention to detail you can guarantee that when one does arrive it’ll be the best on the African continent!

    “It took four years to do the restoration, but it was worth it as the car now looks fantastic… and goes even better”
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  •   George Dziedzic reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    BMW E30 M3 vs 333i vs 325iS Three of the Best #M30 #M20 #S14

    We pitch the South African 333i and 325iS Evolution against an M3 for an E30 battle. Everyone loves E30s and this triumvirate must rate as three of the most desirable of the breed. The iconic M3 goes head-to-head with the South African-only 333i and 325iS Evolution Words: Johann Venter. Photography: Oliver Hirtenfelder.

    So finally the day has come where we can measure up these legendary box-shaped beauties. This has to be one of the BMW showdowns of the century and who would have thought it would happen under African skies?

    In the left corner we have the two contenders, the E30 333i and the #E30 325iS Evolution. The 333i is painted in Aero silver and weighs in at 1256kg. It develops 197hp (145kW) at 5500rpm and has a maximum torque of 210lb ft (285Nm) at 4300rpm. The 325iS is painted in Ice white and weighs1147kg. It develops 210hp (155kW) at 5920rpm, and has a maximum torque of 195lb ft (265Nm) at 4040rpm. In the right corner the reigning world champion, the E30 M3, is painted in Lachs silver and weighs in (from new) at 1200kg and develops 200hp (140kW) at 6750rpm and has a maximum torque of 177lb ft (238Nm) at 4750rpm.

    Today is going to be a brawler; we are out in the west of the province of Gauteng approximately 40 kilometres outside of Johannesburg at the Delportan Hill in Krugersdorp which has been a popular hillclimb venue since the ‘60s. We are in ‘Cradle’ country not too far off from here are the Sterkfontein Caves – a World Heritage Site where ‘Mrs Ples’, a 2.1-millionyear- old skull, and ‘Little Foot’, an almost complete skeleton that’s three-million-years-old were found.

    According to some it’s the birth place of humanity, giving rise to the name Cradle of Humankind, but enough of that, let’s get back to the job at hand. To appreciate the significance of the E30 3 Series in South Africa we need to take a step back and understand the relevance of this model in South African car culture.

    The E30 with its three-box outline can trace its DNA back directly to the 2002 which was an integral part of the Neue Klasse, which followed the Bauhaus design philosophy that lasted for 40 years within BMW; with a distinguished sculpted shoulder-line, airy glass-house cabin, slender roof-lines and minimalistic cockpit. This was carried over to the E21 3 Series and is firmly rooted into the E30 3 Series. Sadly, though, the 2002 was never manufactured in South Africa and imported in rather small numbers. Worse still is the fact that the E21 was never officially imported. South Africans were therefore starved of a compact sporting BMW saloon until 1982 when the Rosslyn plant starting producing the E30 3 Series, which has resulted in an absolute cult following of the model this far south of the equator.

    This immaculate Aero silver example of the 333i, with just 90,000km on the clock, happens to be the nicest of the four colours in which they were offered. The other colours included Diamond black, Henna red and Ice white. This is number 103 of the 204 that were sold in South Africa between 1985 and 1987, a total of 210 were produced including prototypes and test mules. It cost R41,300 (£16,312) when new in 1985.

    This car is no stranger to BMW Car’s pages and was featured in the January 2013 edition – complied by the then deputy editor Sebastian de Latour who was fortunate enough to pilot this rarity with me in tow. This car is in fact part of a prodigious BMW collection that was also featured in BMW Car in the August 2013 edition.

    Vic Doolan and Bernd Pischetsrieder (of BMW South Africa at the time) are credited for the innovation of the 333i. The original intent was to compete in Group One racing but this was never to be as Group One racing was summarily cancelled at the end of the 1985 season – remember the M1 suffered a similar fate.

    The concept was pretty straightforward: find one of the biggest engines in the BMW arsenal and cram it into the smallest, lightest body. The engine came from the E23 733i, which was partially chosen for its free-revving characteristics (3.2-litre, in-line, sixcylinder, 12-valve) – producing a maximum power output of 197hp (145kW) at 5500rpm and maximum torque of 210lb ft (285Nm) at 4300rpm.

    The development of the 333i was a collaboration between BMW SA, BMW Motorsport and Alpina. Just like with the E23 745i (which was also unique to South Africa, see BMW Car May 2013 edition) an extensive development and testing programme was embarked upon to ensure that the optimum cooling, gearing and noise levels were achieved.

    Alpina played a crucial role in the development of the 333i providing the specially developed inlet and exhaust manifolds and plenum chamber, heavy-duty copper cored radiator and various other cast alloy bits. The Bosch L-Jetronic fuel management system was revised accordingly, all of which resulted in a substantially altered torque curve, boosting it substantially in the lower rev range. Alpina also provided the 296mm vented, grooved discs upfront, the suspension was fitted with Bilstein gas dampers with slightly stiffer springs, and it rolled on 16-inch 20-spoke Alpina alloys. The 333i was fitted with a dog-leg close-ratio Getrag ‘box and 25 per cent ZF limited-slip diff.

    On the inside the most distinguishing Alpina component is the digital display pod mounted on the right central vent. It shows engine and rear diff oil temperatures, the engine oil pressure and manifold vacuum readings. The instrument cluster is also provided by Alpina with a speedo reading of up to 270km/h, with red needles normally reserved for M cars. The interior is rounded off with Sport leather seats, leather-covered Sport steering and a gear lever marked with the M tricolour stripe.

    The exterior is rather attractive in that ‘80s kind of way, with integrated aero appendages which include a deep front spoiler, side skirts, a sweeping lip at the rear, and a black boot spoiler finishing it off. Owners had a choice between air-con and powersteering but could not have both as there wasn’t sufficient room under the bonnet. Telling them apart is easy: on air-conditioned cars the foglamps are absent, creating apertures that feed air to the condenser unit.

    Just as South Africans were getting used to the idea of having fast compact Bavarian saloons around we were dealt a blow – the E30 M3 would not be coming our way as it was only produced in left-hand drive. That did not mean that the local motorsport scene would cease to exist. On the contrary and if #BMW-SA wanted to remain competitive it would have to develop its own track specials. So let’s try to get behind the myth that is the 325iS in order to decipher the legend.

    The year 1985 saw the introduction of one of the most fiercely contested race series in South Africa, Group N for production cars. To remain competitive in 1986 BMW introduced the 325iS (Sport), more commonly known as the Shadowline among racing enthusiasts. To increase power from the standard 325i the compression ratio was upped to 9.8:1 thus increasing power output from 163hp (120kW) to 171hp (126kW). In this initial version the M Technik aero kit was definitely absent and not even an option – however, more importantly, Tony Viana won the championship that year and the following two years in his 325iS. In 1989 BMW offered the 325iS at a price of R60,080 (£13,735) with the option of the M Technik aero kit at R4095 (£936) – which included the front and rear spoiler, rear apron and side skirts.

    The more significant changes to the car came in 1990 as BMW was struggling to keep up with the Opel (Vauxhall) Kadett which had also gone through various iterations in Group N racing, from Boss to BigBoss to SuperBoss. The SuperBoss was, as you can imagine, the daddy of the bunch, in essence a Kadett 200 GSi 16v uniquely designed for South African racing, pushing out 170hp (125kW). These cars were devastating track weapons especially with Mike Briggs behind the wheel and has a cult following second only to that of the E30.

    The 1990 325iS sold at a price of R92,720 (£18,870) and came standard with the M Technik aero kit which is the first significant difference. The more fundamental changes happened underneath the skin with an uprated 2.7-litre engine and cylinder head, care of Alpina, increasing power output by 26hp (19kW) to 197hp (145kW) at 5800rpm reaching a maximum torque figure of 195lb ft (265Nm) at 4000rpm. With serious intentions of reducing weight the bonnet, wings and doors were made from aluminium. In order to better transfer the increased power to the road the E30 M3’s suspension was put into use, including the 15-inch cross-spoke #BBS alloys running on 205/60 15-inch VR Goodyear rubber. In this iteration locals refer to it as the Evo 1 although that was never the official name that BMW assigned to it. Officially it was still known as the 325iS but the legend had just grown another tenfold. Unfortunately this was not enough to fend off the attack by the Opel Kadett.

    The final incarnation of the 325iS was introduced in 1991 with the E36 knocking at the factory door, but BMW had no choice if it were to take on its main competitor, the Opel SuperBoss. It sold for R105,100 (£20,815) in 1991 and its official designation was the BMW 325iS Evolution (more commonly known as the Evo 2 among South African motoring enthusiasts). Outwardly the car remained exactly the same except for a flexible black lip extending from the deep front spoiler. Underneath the car an aerodynamic cover was installed to improve airflow and ultimately front end grid. The aluminium bonnet, wings and door panels reverted back to steel. The ride height was lowered by 10mm with the installation of stiffer, shorter springs and a thicker rear anti-roll bar was installed to keep the tail in check.

    The engine remained as the 2.7-litre unit but modifications were made to the cylinder head (supplied by Alpina together with the pistons) to increase compression ration from 9.8:1 to 10.4:1 and so inlet ports from the inlet manifold were adapted to accommodate the enlarged diameter of the inlet ports of the cylinder head. The intake manifold plenum chamber, airflow meter and throttle butterfly were uprated to that of the E28 535i and incorporated into the Motronic system to enhance the airflow. A cross-piece was installed in the larger diameter downpipe of the exhaust. All of this led to an increase in power to 211hp (155kW) at 5920rpm, with maximum torque remaining at 196lb ft (265Nm) at 4040rpm. This resulted in improved acceleration and mid-range performance, eventually culminating in a Group N championship win for Robbi Smith in his 325iS in 1993.

    This factory-fresh example we see here today in Ice white belongs to Jack Kaplan a serious car enthusiast with an even more serious car collection. Most noteworthy are the eight exceptional BMWs which also includes the M3 we see here, the only 2002 Turbo on the African continent and an absolutely gorgeous Batmobile replica in Polaris metallic, to mention but four. Jack likes to put his own touch to his cars and these two examples are no exception.

    This might not be to everybody’s liking, especially the purists who believe cars should be kept exactly as the automaker intended, but we appreciate the fact that Jack puts his own personal touch to each of his cars. It makes them stand out and more personalised. Jack does not stop with the aesthetics and the mechanicals; he is more hardcore than that and that is why most of his BMW fleet runs on 102 avgas jet fuel including the two you see here.

    Jack acquired this 325iS from new in #1991 and used it as a company car. It’s done 96,000km and, from a cosmetics perspective, the grille has been colour-coded with slits cut into it on the left-hand side where the lights meet for additional cooling. He has also added darker indicators, racing pedals and a Nardi steering wheel. Other than that, from a cosmetics perspective the car is completely original. The mechanicals have definitely been tweaked. A Stage One performance upgrade was carried out which included gas-flowing the cylinder head and installing a 280-degree camshaft, a Unichip ECU, a K&N air filter with a modified air-box and a special sports exhaust, which pushes the compression ratio to 10.9:1.

    So much has been written about the #BMW-E30 M3, with just about every motoring scribe worth their salt at some point contributing to the growing documented volumes on the M3. In my opinion the M3 is the most significant BMW model post Second World War. Yes, it does not have the halo image of the M1 (the closest BMW came to producing a supercar) but its contribution to the success of BMW is unprecedented. Unfortunately the development of the M1 was plagued with problems, which is putting it rather mildly. But where the M1 might have failed the M3 was triumphant winning virtually every form of competition it was entered into.

    As so much has been written about the #BMW-M3 I thought I would just give a brief summary of the highlights of this most illustrious model. The M3 was developed from the ground up as a racer. Paul Rosche was tasked to develop a suitable engine and what he came up with is ingenious: a 2302cc four-cylinder, 16-valve, dual-overhead cam. For all intents and purposes the S14 engine is two thirds of the M88 motor (although the block is based on the cast-iron M10 engine), developed for the M1, the M635CSi and the South African-only 745i. This engine was further honed for the E28 M5 (second generation) to become the S38. BMW’s initial intention was to sell 5000 units to ensure eligibility for racing but such was the demand that it ended up manufacturing over three times this number during 1986-1990. In its first iteration it developed a maximum power output of 200hp (140kW) at 6750rpm and 177lb ft (238Nm) of torque at 4750rpm. It sold for £22,750 (R57,599) in 1985.


    During its five-year production run BMW Motorsport kept on honing the performance and agility of the M3 giving rise to the Evo 1, Evo 2, Europa Meister, Cecotto and Ravaglia Editions. It was, however, most lethal in its final incarnation known as the Sport Evolution. The engine capacity had been increased to 2467cc which was achieved through an increase in bore and stroke. This necessitated larger valves and camshaft, plus special spigots to spray oil under the pistons to keep temperatures under control. Power was up to a staggering 238hp (177kW) at 7000rpm and torque remained the same at 177lb ft (238Nm) at 4750 rpm.

    The M3’s war paint clearly defines its intentions (it is rather different to its regular 3 Series brethren) with flared wheel arches to accommodate wider rubber, and at the rear sits a large wing on a raised bootlid with a separate cowling over the rear window aperture, all of which help improve the aerodynamics. All of this translated into the M3 being the most successful Touring Car racer of all time, with more than 1500 individual victories and more than 50 international championship titles. These included a World Touring Car Championship, two European Touring Car Championships, two German Touring Car Championships, several other individual European titles including, Nürburgring 24 Hours, Spa 24 Hours and even a few Rally titles.

    The second of Jack’s cars is this pristine Lachs silver M3. It is the first version of the M3, imported to South Africa in 1995, and Jack acquired it in 1997. This is only one of three M3s in South Africa, as mentioned previously it was never imported as it was left-hand drive only. There is also a Cecotto and a racer, which has just undergone a complete restoration; it competed in the Touring Car race series in the ‘90s. It was piloted by well-known motoring and racing enthusiast Farouk Dangor, who also competed with his 325iS in the Group N racing championship earlier on in his racing career.

    So the car we see here is ultra-rare and has just 94,600km on the clock. Legislation in South Africa has changed (since about 2000) in such a way that left-hand drive cars can no longer be imported, with very few exceptions, racing cars being one of them. The first thing we notice is that Jack has fitted the rims from the E36 M3 (in certain circles he would be lynched for doing this), running on Bridgestone SO2 225/35/17 rubber. The capacity of the engine has been increased to 2493cc by changing the crankshaft and connecting rods. Further upgrades include gas-flowing the cylinder head, installing a 260-degree Schrick camshaft, a Unichip ECU, a K&N air filter with a modified air-box, and a special stainless steel sports exhaust, plus a 228mm organic spring disc clutch – pushing the compression ratio to 11.8:1.

    Now all that is said and done, what is it like to actually drive them? In a word: fantastic! This is by no stretch of the imagination going to be a completely fair contest with the substantial modifications done to the 325iS and M3, not forgetting that they both run on aviation fuel.

    Let’s start with the 333i, which I have spent quite a significant amount of time in. At idle it has that nice straight-six BMW bass and once on the go it has that familiar BMW big-block exhaust note. The most distinguishing factor about this car is the amount of torque that has been bestowed upon it. One gets the sensation that it has more bottom-end grunt than both the other competitors put together. It really is the hooligan among the lot and is always keen to get its tail sideways. Key in getting the most out of it is figuring out how to regulate the throttle feed; letting go while going through a bend will result in you facing the wrong way. This thing will snap your neck if you don’t give it the attention and respect it deserves.

    In July 2012 I was fortunate enough to be taken on a few hot laps around Aldo Scribante Raceway in Port Elizabeth while shooting a 2002tii Alpina replica for BMW Car (see October 2012 edition). The 333i was definitely nose-heavy with the 3.2-litre lump in the front but the owner knew the twisty track like his own back yard, using the insurmountable amount of torque and making good use of the limited-slip diff to power-slide through the corners – definitely the quickest way around the track with the 333i.

    Although the #BMW-333i-E30 has a close-ratio gearbox the gear throws are long which detract from the experience when pushing in the redline. As stated throttle control is paramount and once you have mastered this the chassis is actually quite compliant. The Bilsteins and stiffer strings holding things together nicely. The 333i is better suited for the open road, with the extended torque flow even from low revs making it a great continental cruiser.

    The #BMW-325iS-E30 is definitely a more balanced and focused car. The Nardi steering wheel, being smaller than the standard item, gives very good feedback and much better turn-in. This car is based on the M3’s suspension so handling is superb and direction changes are ultra-sharp. The short-shift gearbox is definitely one of the highlights, making gear changes easy and precise when pushing on, in vast contrast to the 333i. Surprisingly, though, things only really start to come alive at 4000rpm, which is reached with ease. The whole experience is addictive, though, which leads to unnecessary downshifts just to achieve the giddy sensation once again. The standard exhaust on the 325iS is a real charmer, belting out plenty of delightful notes but the custom item fitted to this car is so much better, especially when one trounces the throttle and then lifts off immediately to be rewarded with a truly delightful crackle.

    Everything in the M3 is turned up a couple of notches. Even when at optimum temperature the idle is erratic, a strong indication that something extraordinary is happening. The M3 picks up revs far easier and quicker than in both other cars and the redline seems much further down the line. The car displays amazing levels of grip and is extremely wellplanted on the asphalt. Turn-in is razor-sharp and even on a charge going through hairpins seem to require far less braking and instead more acceleration. But when one does need to stop, the retardation happens so instantaneously that there is a newfound appreciation for seatbelts. Gear changes are instant and make you appreciate why this car is the most successful Touring Car ever produced and, to my ears, the sound from the tailpipes puts Beethoven’s Fifth Concerto to shame.

    This M3 is everything I had hoped it would be and so much more; this experience is definitely part of my motoring Nirvana.

    All three of these cars were developed out of a need to race and it clearly shows. Each car has displayed its own unique characteristics and each has its own special charm. Yes, outwardly the M3 is more dramatic with its flared arches but the M Technik aero kit on the #BMW-325iS still gives it an assertive sporting look and the 333i has its own aero appendages, though slightly more subtle. On the inside all three cars feel and look very similar (and one is transported back to the ‘80s), with Sports/Recaro seats, #BMW Sports three-spoke leather steering wheels, leather gearlevers with M tricolour stripes and instrument binnacles housing speedos and rev counters the size of flying-saucers. The cabins are airy with very thin A-pillars that are virtually in the upright position and, by today’s standards, these cars seem rather rudimentary. The driving experience is so much more involved, though. These are cars you need to take by the scruff of the neck to get the most out of them. If you want a sensible choice get a 1 Series.

    So which one is the winner? As a South African I am definitely biased but I have to say that the M3 on the day was definitely the best driver’s car – the one to tackle track days and sweeping back roads with. The M3, however, feels like it is all or nothing all of the time; maybe it’s just the way Jack set it up. The 333i is definitely the hooligan of the bunch and I’d say is much better suited for long distances. The 325iS is the better balanced car and much better suited for everyday use. Interestingly, editor Bob Harper did a direct comparison between the #325iS and the #Alpina C2 2.7 #M20 and gave the 325iS the nod (see BMW Car January 2008 edition).

    However, despite my personal preferences, driving anyone of them is an occasion in itself will always puts a smile on your face. And as the old Louis Armstrong song goes, “when you’re smiling the whole world smiles with you”.

    Special thanks to: Ron Silke.

    Ultimate E30s: #BMW-333i-E30 , #BMW-325iS-Evolution-E30 and #BMW-M3-E30
    E30 333i E30 325iS Evolution E30 M3
    YEAR: #1986 #1991 #1989
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC, 12-valve #M30B33 Straight-six, SOHC, 12-valve #M20B27 Four-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve #S14B23
    CAPACITY: 3210cc 2683cc 2302cc
    MAX POWER: 145kW (194hp) @ 5500rpm 155kW (208hp) @ 5920rpm 140kW (200hp) @ 6750rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 285Nm (210lb ft) @ 4300rpm 265Nm (195lb ft) @ 4040rpm 238Nm (177lb ft) @ 4750rpm
    0-62MPH: 7.23 seconds 7.1 seconds 6.7 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 231km/h (144mph) 235km/h (146mph) 235km/h (146mph)
    WEIGHT: 1256kg 1340kg 1200kg
    PRICE (NEW): R41,300 (£16,312) R105,100 (£20,815) R57,599 (£22,750 in 1985)
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