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  •   Antonio Ghini reacted to this post about 7 months ago
    Aron Norris posted a new blog post in BMW E21 3-series Club
    Stunning Epic BMW E21 M50-Swapped
    •   Cars
    •   Friday, 12 October 2018
    Sensational M50-swapped E21 Built over six years with absolute passion, this gorgeous, M50-swapped E21 is the very definition of classic perfection. Words: Aron Norris. Photos: Si Gray.
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  •   Bob BMW reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Aron Norris posted a new blog post in BMW E28 - my best shark
    Air-ride using KYB shocks 1985 BMW 520i E28
    •   Cars
    •   Saturday, 10 November 2018
    Hungary Shark. Finished in a stunning shade of custom blue, wearing a genuine Hartge body kit and enhanced with a selection of period additions, this air-ride E28 is a slice of seriously cool retro-chic. Words: Aron Norris. Photos: Krisztian Bolgar.
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  •   Robb Pritchard reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Air-ride BMW 120d E82
    •   Cars
    •   Tuesday, 26 March 2019
    Stunning 1-Series Coupe. Dripping with stunning carbon fibre and outrageously wide Work Equip wheels, Harvey Howe’s aggressive E82 brings a unique US flavour to UK shores. Words: Aron Norris. Photos: Andy Tipping.
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  •   Elizabeth reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Aron Norris posted a new blog post in BMW E46 3-series Club
    657hp 2JZ-engined BMW M3 E46 drift monster
    •   Cars
    •   Tuesday, 11 December 2018
    It’s not easy being green Die-hard purists better run for cover because this genetically modified Java green drift mutant is powered by a rabblerousing Japanese straight-six. Prepare to wrap your head around a BMW that Frankenstein would be proud of… Words: Aron Norris. Photos: Matthew Moscone.
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  •   Rob Scorah reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    KEEPING IT REAL Turbo M50 E30.

    UK two-door is the perfect blend of style and pace. #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E30

    What was once an unassuming #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW-318i has been comprehensively transformed into a turbocharged beast. Words: Aron Norris. Photos: Scott Paterson.

    The BMW E30. Some would say it’s flavour of the month. Others would say it’s their favourite ’80s BMW. Perhaps the infidels among us might even say it’s a little bland. Wherever you stand on the E30, you can’t deny that those Claus Luthe penned lines have aged very, very well. Like a fine wine, these Bavarian compacts are becoming hot property amongst collectors.

    Whilst concours classics might be some people’s idea of BMW perfection, others, like Steve Foxall, prefer to use a stock car as a template, a blank canvas if you will. Whilst the 1983 318i you see here might look all sweet and innocent at first glance, there’s a secret lurking. If you’re an OE concours purist, look away now…

    Now, when Steve bought the E30, it was in pretty good stock condition because the previous owner had it repainted 12 years ago, which meant Steve could get straight onto the fun of making the 318i his own, something a little less, er, 318i. This is a true driveway project car. Let’s be straight here, it doesn’t take much to make an E30 look great. With those handsome ’80s lines it almost seems perverse to suggest messing too much with BMW’s original formula much at all. I mean, the OE Schwarz black really gleams against the chrome bumpers and trims, all as you would expect I suppose.

    Visually, the E30 has lost a few stock items and gained some choice add-ons, but nothing terribly drastic. The front numberplate and foglights have been deleted, which neatens things up nicely, making way for a Jimmy Hill front lip and M Tech 1 rear spoiler to add some ’80s indulgence. There are no wide arches here, nothing untoward you might say. Well, until you peer under the bonnet, that is…

    You see, from the very beginning, Steve knew the original M10 engine in his 318i formed no part of his future plans. His vision was always to build a turbocharged sixcylinder M50 beast. Never again would this be a well-behaved practical car. Nobody wants that anyway, right? As luck would have it, Steve managed to find a 1993 E36 325i donor at the scrapyard, which meant things were coming together rather nicely. Operation strip down could begin. Goodbye M10, it was nice knowing you. The donor #M50B25TU powerplant was to provide the perfect base.

    For the geeks out there, TU stands for ‘technical update’ which means variable valve timing, i.e single Vanos to you and me. In preparation for the turbo, ARP big end bolts, head studs, race mains, big end bearings, valves, springs and rings were thrown into the mix and a 0.120” MLS Cometic head gasket to lower the compression. Stock pistons, crank and block more than do the job, having been honed to reliably deliver an impressive level of tune.


    In order to fulfil his turbo dreams, Steve knew he’d need a fully custom manifold, so a twin-scroll setup was built for his Holset HX35 turbo with 12cm housing. With everything in place, the next step was to build an exhaust. No surprises for guessing that, again, Steve went for a custom setup, this time a Hard Knocks Speedshopfabricated 3” downpipe and exhaust with hidden tip. Continuing the custom fabrication theme, an E34 oil pan (with turbo drain) was shortened and widened to keep the little E30 nicely lubricated at all times. While the old 318 lump was out, Steve took the opportunity to completely smooth and weld the bay, with a fresh helping of Schwarz paint to spruce things up. Blood, sweat and tears ensured the new engine would to take centre stage in the bay, and quite rightly, too.

    With the engine taking shape nicely, Steve’s attention moved towards the transmission. His dream M50 build was mated to a Getrag 260 gearbox with a lightened and balanced M20 flywheel to improve throttle response. An uprated six-puck composite clutch, Sachs 618 pressure plate and M3 release bearing were acquired to more effectively handle the increase in power, along with a lightened and balanced propshaft. Steve got in touch with Hack Engineering to order a solid prop ring and the good guys over at SS Autowerks were called upon to provide a set of solid transmission mounts for the build.

    To keep everything running just so, Vems management was purchased and a completely custom tucked wiring loom was fitted in the freshly smoothed and painted bay. After some testing, tweaking and mapping, Steve’s E30 was almost ready for action.

    Next on Steve’s radar was chassis and handling. The steering rack was swapped out for a Z3 item with custom linkage and a 3.64 LSD was rebuilt with Porsche plates (for tighter locking). Braking was sharpened up with uprated pads and discs, teamed with a Porsche 944 brake booster and braided hoses. SS Autowerks was again involved with the build, supplying BC coilovers with custom springs, front and rear. For a fast road setup, fully polybushed, this car both looks savage and handles as it should.

    In the wheel department, the E30 needed grippy tyres, so the obvious choice was to kill two birds with one stone and bolt up some girthy Schmidt TH Line three-piece splits with Toyo rubber. These 16” beauties in staggered 8.5” and 9.5” fitment suit the E30 a treat. Polished dishes with silver centres contrast beautifully with black bodywork.

    With over 350hp on tap, this little black beauty is lively on the road to say the least. In fact, the truth is you have to be on the ball just to keep it in a straight line. This is pure man and machine stuff. If you overcook it, there’s no computer to save your bacon, as this car will make you pay for any mistake or lapse in concentration.

    The interior of Steve’s E30 is pretty minimalist. You won’t find anything more than you need here. With the focus of this car well and truly centred on the driver, you’ve got a Nardi steering wheel, Delrin shifter, Recaro Pole Positions with TRS harnesses and a custom half roll-cage. That’s it. There’s no fuss – just as it should be with this type of car.

    The original black leather interior just didn’t cut the mustard on B-road blasts, so Steve was on the lookout for a pair of replacement front seats and the black cloth Recaros were the perfect upgrade whilst keeping things simple. The rear seats were binned to save some weight and the battery was moved to the boot by using an S2000 mount with shut off. The interior changes have kept things period-correct, which is a definite winner and suit the E30 down to a tee.


    Steve’s E30 is testament to home-brew engineering and modification. It might look like a regular E30 from the outside but, make no mistake, this is a driver’s car which will quite happily trounce most modern competition in the performance stakes. There’s something very grass roots about this car and we love it.


    Stunning polished Schmidt TH Line 16s are the perfect wheel choice for the E30.

    M50 has been treated to a whole host of internal mods plus an HX35 turbo with custom manifold and exhaust system. The bay has been beautifully smoothed.

    DATA FILE #BMW / #M50-Turbo / #BMW-M50 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-M50 / #M50B25 / #Getrag

    ENGINE 2.5-litre straight-six #M50B25TU / #M50 , 0.120” #MLS-Cometic headgasket, #ARP big end bolts and head studs, race mains, big end bearings, valves, springs and rings, stock honed pistons, crank and block, custom twin-scroll exhaust manifold, #Holset-HX35 turbo with 12cm housing, #Tial-BOV and wastegate with screamer pipe, custom shortened and widened oil pan based on E34 pan and turbo drain, semi-solid custom engine mounts, A/C delete, PAS delete, switched #Bosch-044 in-line pump with Siemens 660cc injectors, Vems management with custom wiring loom completely tucked, 3” downpipe and exhaust with hidden tip by Hard Knocks Speed Shop, Mishimoto switched 14” fan, intake elbow and aluminium E36 fan with header tank delete

    TRANSMISSION #Getrag-260 five-speed manual gearbox, M20 lightened and balanced flywheel, Sachs 618 pressure plate, custom six-puck composite clutch, M3 release bearing, Hack Engineering solid prop ring, custom transmission brace, #SS-Autowerks solid transmission mounts, lightened, balanced propshaft, 3.64 LSD rebuilt with Porsche plates for tighter lock

    CHASSIS 8.5x16” (f) and 9.5x16” (r) #Schmidt-TH-Line Lines with #Radinox dishes and 195/40 Toyo TR1 (f) and 205/40 Nankang NS2-R (r) tyres, BC coilovers supplied by SS Autowerks with custom springs, fully polybushed, reinforced subframe, Z3 steering rack with custom linkage, Z3 short shifter linkage, underside running gear completely rebuilt, shot blasted and powercoated in gloss black, 944 brake booster with braided lines all-round, uprated pads and discs with stock calipers

    EXTERIOR Engine bay totally welded smooth, battery tray delete, front foglight delete, M Tech 1 rear spoiler, Jimmy Hill front lip, genuine blue tinted mirror glass, custom front numberplate delete

    INTERIOR Delrin gear knob, Stack oil pressure and oil temperature gauges, rear seat delete and carpeted, black headlining, Recaro Pole Position seats with Recaro sliders and custom seat mounts, TRS harnesses with reinforced chassis mounts, custom half roll-cage with reinforced chassis mounts, Nardi steering wheel, battery relocated in boot using S2000 mount with shutoff

    THANKS Fourseasons, SS Autowerks, RollHard (www.rollhard.co.uk), Hack Engineering, all my mates who helped
    • Steve Foxall’s Turbo M50 E30
      Is it any surprise that the first car in our top three happens to be an E30? Certainly not when that car is SteveSteve Foxall’s Turbo M50 E30
      Is it any surprise that the first car in our top three happens to be an E30? Certainly not when that car is Steve Foxall’s stunning UK machine, as it really is an awesome build and proved very popular with all of you, and with good reason. We saw it in person at a couple of shows and it was a real head-turner, not least of all because of what’s under the bonnet. At its heart is an M50B25, swapped into a wire-tucked bay, with a Holset HX35 turbo strapped to it for plenty of power. There’s also a removable bonnet to show the whole lot off. BC Racing coilovers deliver a sizeable drop over a set of gorgeous, fully polished 16” Schmidt TH Lines, while the interior has been treated to, among other things, a pair of Recaro Pole Position seats and a gorgeous Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel. The perfect blend of elegant, classic style and serious power, it’s pretty much E30 perfection in a nutshell.
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  •   Tariq Vadgama reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Bagged E46 Coupé DIALLED

    With US-influenced styling, air and killer stance, this E46 Coupé is one sweet daily. Words: Aron Norris. Photos: Scott Paterson.

    The modifying world is in a rich vein of form these days. We can’t remember a time when so many different styles hit the pages of this magazine. Take your pick between stretched tyres, wide wheels, negative camber, chunky rubber, big brakes, downforce and weight saving. The choice is entirely yours.

    To some, the word ‘stance’ is a dirty one. The rise of air-ride has flipped the modifying game on its head. The trend of low cars is here to stay as more and more owners opt for the all-round abilities of bags. Drive low, park lower and all that jazz.

    One thing we can all agree on is that we all like BMWs and it’s safe to say 25-year-old Alex Hurd is a BMW guy through and through. This is his fourth and they’ve all been E46s. The boy’s got issues. Now, the E46 3 Series has become somewhat of a stalwart in modifying circles. Still modern enough not to look dated but cheap enough to leave money in the pot for modifications.

    Alex’s first foray into the world of #BMW came courtesy of a super-clean bright red pre-face-lift 318Ci at 19 but he would be the first to tell you he perhaps wasn’t the most careful of drivers back then and, well, his first E46 didn’t last long.

    With his red one having met its sorry end, Alex was on the lookout for another E46, this time a face-lift. After nearly drowning in a sea of rough 318 Coupés, he’d had almost given up on his search before finding a peachy looking 2004 example with black leather on the internet. Arrangements were made over the phone and before he knew it Alex was on his way from Leicester to Reading to view the car. Thankfully, it was as clean as described and a deal was done there and then to bring it home.

    Alex didn’t actually buy this car with the intention of turning it into a project. “I bought the car with every intention of keeping it standard,” he says. Famous last words we can all relate to! After falling in with the wrong crowd, however, there was no escaping the RollHard influence and he started to envisage his E46 looking lower, wider and all-round sassier.

    When it came to getting his E46 sitting lower to the ground, Alex had a game plan from the beginning. In order to achieve his dream fitment it would have to be air – nothing else would do. Following advice from people running this kit his mind was made up and the full Air Lift Performance kit with 3P management was ordered and soon winging its way over to Leicestershire from the States. With his stock suspension finding a new home in the bin and his shiny new Air Lift kit bolted up, Alex was pleased as punch but the fettling didn’t stop there.

    Achieving his vision of perfect fitment wasn’t going to be a five-minute job. The fitment in these photos certainly didn’t happen by accident, that’s for sure.

    Adjustable rear camber arms were added to the mix to allow him to squeeze some serious girth under his arches and to ensure his E46 was nice and taught on the road the wishbones were also polybushed.

    When it comes to any modified car, we think you’ll agree, wheel choice is one of the most important decisions of any build and Alex chopped and changed his way through several sets before arriving at the setup you see here. Starting initially with 19” BMW Style 132s (X5 five-spokes), he quickly moved over to dishy three-piece 17” BBS RFs after being wowed by Thom Williams’ E46 saloon at Ultimate Stance.

    Having fallen hard for Thom’s E46, Alex was determined to run arch-to-lip fitment and there was no turning back. His Air Lift struts just wouldn’t let him get the front any lower yet there was still 5mm separating him from his arch to lip goal. This meant only one thing: bigger wheels.

    Having promised himself a set of brand-new wheels this time, Alex had many options. He was after a timeless three-piece, five-spoke design and, after many WhatsApp group chat conversations about offsets and tyre choices with his friends, plans were starting to come together. Alex loosened his purse strings and treated himself to a set of 18” Work Meister S1s; in three-piece flavour, wheel specs are fully customisable and so he opted for 9x18” ET10 at the front and 10x18” ET18 on the rear – wide wheels by anyone’s standards, especially on a non-M body E46. In fact, it took -8 degrees of camber on the rear to stuff those Work Meister S1s inside the arches. That’s dedication.

    Talking of bodywork, Alex didn’t feel the need to meddle too much with the overall look, with subtlety being the name of the game here. With factory M-Sport bumpers and skirts, his first step was to smooth the front numberplate to clean up the front end and provide some US flavour. The US influences didn’t stop there as Alex was on a mission to hunt down rare US parts. Top of his wish list was a set of ultra-rare, genuine amber face-lift headlights. “It took me ages to find a set as it seems nobody in the UK spec’d ambers on a face-lift from the factory,” Alex explains. After literally months of detective work he finally tracked down what he was after.

    Bingo. Teamed with US-spec amber LED rears and side repeaters, these provide a subtle flash of colour against the perfect silver paintwork. This car is definitely all about small changes making a big difference.

    When it came to sprucing up the E46’s original black leather innards, nothing but an M3 Individual interior would do for Alex. After trawling the internet for a full interior in perfect condition, he struck gold, finding the Kiwi M3 set you see here.

    A straight swap for his existing black leather, the M3 perches really hit the spot by upgrading the boring original trim. On paper, perhaps Kiwi was a brave choice against the silver paintwork but it’s nice to see someone mixing things up and Alex’s outside-the-box thinking has definitely paid off – it looks swish.

    Alex’s intention for a “nice daily” meant this car was never going to be about driving fast, so engine choice wasn’t a huge factor when he was on the hunt for another E46 to replace his first car. As he was buying purely on body condition and spec level he wasn’t put off by the 1.8 powerplant one bit. However, being a 2004 E46, this 318 is actually powered by the 2.0 16v N42B20 engine which puts out 143hp and 148lb ft of torque, which makes it a perfectly suitable Wörthersee cruiser, whilst keeping running costs down.

    On the subject of Wörthersee, Alex always had it in mind to use his car to get out on the open road and see Europe. Too many people assume ‘stance’ cars are just for looking at, like expensive ornaments, but the truth is air-ride has changed that. Getting on and off the Eurotunnel/ferry is, with air-ride, a piece of cake. Many air-ride cars rack up the miles exploring mainland Europe. Alex is one of those guys.

    “I had always wanted to make the road trip to lake Wörthersee in Austria with the E46, so I booked up the trip with the RollHard guys. It’s not a VW but that didn’t matter. It was an incredible experience; nothing beats the feeling of driving your own car round the mountains.”

    So there we have it, Alex’s E46: a car built for the enjoyment of getting out on the open road and meeting new people and we’re pleased this one didn’t stay stock.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE Air-ride #BMW-E46 / #BMW-318Ci / #BMW-318Ci-E46 / #BMW-318Ci-Air-Ride / #BMW-318Ci-Air-Ride-E46 / #Air-Lift / #N42B20 / #N42 / #BMW-N42 / #BMW-318Ci-N42 / #BMW-318Ci-N42-E46 / #Work-Meister / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-E46

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.0 four-cylinder N42B20, five-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 9x18” ET10 (front) and 10x18” ET18 (rear) #Work-Meister-S1 three-piece wheels with 215/35 (front and rear) tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance struts, #3P-management adjustable rear bottom arms, polybushed wishbone bushes, -4° camber front -8° camber rear, drilled/grooved discs (front and rear)

    EXTERIOR Full respray in stock colour, front bumper smoothed, genuine OEM amber lights all-round, US running lights coded in, wiper delete, black kidney grilles

    INTERIOR E46 M3 Individual Kiwi Nappa leather, flush mounted 3P controller, US-spec cup holders, #Eonon-D5150v head unit, E9x gear knob

    THANKS My dad, Andy, for all his help and support with the build, the RollHard guys for making cars fun (www.rollhard.co.uk), Brian at Jackson’s Coachworks for his talents with the paint gun, Rich at Driftworks for providing additional girth, Dale and Tom at Meguiar’s for laughing at 40% of my jokes

    “I bought the car with every intention of keeping it standard”
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