- Norwegian 1048bhp #E30 - bad to the bone. The magic 1000bhp figure was broken by this utterly stunningly, jaw-droppingly brilliant E30 from Norway, one of the most powerful road-legal BMWs in the world. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Andrew Brown.
It’s a long way to go, but over the years Performance #BMW has been making numerous trips to Scandinavia to hunt out what we consider to be some of the finest examples of Bavarian metal on the planet, putting America’s high standards to serious shame with mind-blowing performance figures. Cast your mind back to July 2004. If your memory’s a little hazy, let us refresh it for you. We unveiled what was, at the time, the most powerful road-legal M3-styled E30 325i with an outrageous 875bhp and 932lb ft of torque. Over the next few months, we uncovered two more turbo’d Swedish beauties, a 400bhp #E21 and a 745bhp E30, along with a supercharged 480bhp M3 CSL in November. Not surprisingly, in January 2005 the turbo experts at VS Motor in Norway raised the bar once again with a 1033bhp #E34 M5. The various other cover cars that were to follow from the Nordic lands over the next 24 months confirmed our suspicions; no obstacle is too big for these boys.
In a bid to push things even further forward, Tarjei Christiansen from Porsgrunn has created the hardest E30 we’ve ever seen with a mighty 1048bhp and 778lb ft of torque running through road tyres and wheels. That’s right, this #1987 former 320i is fit for the streets and it’s not afraid to come out and play. For those who don’t know, Tarjei is the founder of tuning specialist SS Performance, and is already becoming a big name in the street racing community, so it’s understandable that his own car would be a bit special. It all started four years ago when he got into the notorious Gatebil festivals. Having spent his childhood tinkering under the bonnet of BMWs with his dad during the cold and dark winter months, it was almost inevitable he would eventually open up his own workshop. One of the most common complaints we hear from readers is the number of UK specialists that lack passion and enthusiasm, but Tarjei’s got stacks of it to back up his knowledge and expertise. This is a man who quite happily spends 16 hours a day, six days a week working on cars, they are his life.
His first project was an #Alpina E30 2.7, he sold that before his 18th birthday to buy an #E36 Compact and spent the remaining money sourcing and fitting a 5.6-litre V12 #S70 from the #850Csi #E31 . And as if that wasn’t enough he had an #M3 on the side. As you’ll have heard a thousand times before though, things were never meant to get quite so serious, as the Nordic lad explained: “When I bought the E30, the stock lump had been replaced by the 325i unit but the previous owner had never upgraded the brakes or suspension, so my original plan was to use it for drifting until the engine blew up. Upon closer inspection however, I realised the bodywork was completely straight and in remarkably good order for its age with no rust, so I decided to save it.” Little did he know at that stage, he would create what is now Norway’s most legendary car on the tuning scene.
Not surprisingly, the first thing on the list was an engine. Tarjei fitted a 2.7 Alpina lump but soon got bored and that’s when he decided to do something mad with it, managing to source a 3.5-litre #S38 lump from the E34 #M5 . After stripping the engine bay he started the laborious task of fitting the new powerplant, which needed to sit 280mm further back and 40mm lower to help create space for the big turbo and aid with weight distribution. Sadly the language barrier meant communication was difficult but we managed to muddle through the interview with the help of Tarjai’s friends, whose grasp of English was better than my Norwegian. Hand gestures and diagrams also played a big part in the translation process!
Being founder of a reputable tuning specialist, Tarjei is partners with some of the most well-known players in the industry, so he’s got access to a lot of quality parts. A quick glance down at the list of sponsors that adorn the side of his car will tell you that. The starting point was, as ever, the block, which was bored out to 3600cc. He then fitted a set of forged JE lowcompression pistons and slightly longer than standard Carillo con-rods, along with a Motorsport crank to provide better top-end power and higher revving capabilities. Attention was then turned to the cylinder head, which was ported and polished with a set of SSP 292º camshafts bolted in. And here comes the most exciting part, the massive Turbonetics super 60 twin-turbo which was mounted on an SSP aluminium intake manifold, with a PPF external wastegate employed to regulate the massive boost the ’charger is capable of producing. The inlet side of the engine is equally impressive, with a specially-made SSP aluminium part being the main component, fitted with huge 1640cc injectors to supply the necessary fuelling.
At the end of the process, an SSP stainless steel straightthrough side-exit exhaust with fat 4” tailpipe blasts out the spent gasses.
Somehow the giant had to be cooled, which is why the E30 has a ViS Racing carbon fibre bonnet with four vents, and a huge custom intercooler and radiator. The complete engine was taken to the VS Motor workshop and bolted to the dyno for running in and mapping. Connected up to the laptop, the boys set about tweaking and adjusting the settings of the Autronic sequential SM2 ECU. The decision was made to cap the boost at 1.7bar and after a slight increase in boost and a small ignition tweak, the magic figure of 1048bhp was realised, making it the fastest street-legal BMW in the world. Not surprisingly, he’s apparently managed to scare a few passengers.
The problem, when you achieve this sort of power, is making it driveable, so Tarjei got to work stripping off the tired suspension and running gear ready for the new and improved items that he had been busy stockpiling. The drivetrain was the first to benefit with a stronger and more reliable Tremag five-speed gearbox. An E34 M5 rear differential was then fitted to improve traction, along with a custom driveshaft to complete the bullet-proof setup. Not convinced? Take it from us that the car is driven hard, plus it also takes regular abuse at the Nürburgring and Hockenheim circuits. Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, it obliterates the 0-60mph sprint in just over 2.5 seconds, screaming at a rate of 110 decibels before the needle even hits 3000rpm.
Driving in Scandinavia requires some special skills, if we had even a tenth as much snow, police would advise motorists to stay at home, but here residents just cope. Well, they do more than that. In a country where forced induction is a proven way of life, they love nothing more than putting on an incredible show of car control in a wild display of wheelspin, opposite lock, and high-speed sideways driving. The cars are, of course, heavily modified to cope with the extreme nature in which they’re driven, and in this case Tarjei has sourced Wiecher strut braces and anti-roll bars, along with a set of fully adjustable KW Variant 3 coilovers, which allows him to adjust the rebound and compression damping. Everything was then connected with Powerflex poly and ally mountings to eliminate all unwanted movement.
Of course, every car of this calibre needs some decent anchors, when you can cover the length of a football pitch in a few seconds, the standard setup might have you running out of road, through the Pearly Gates and halfway across God’s breakfast table. Thankfully, a big brake kit consisting of AP Racing four-pot calipers with 335mm (front) and 355mm (rear) grooved discs mounted on alloy bells, with Endless pads, do an adequate enough job.
Building a full-on track car means ridding the cabin of any unnecessary luxuries, so out came the seats, stereo system, door cards, carpet and sound deadening and in went the Momo buckets and Schroth four-point harnesses. Commonly seen in WRC car interiors, the entire dash was then flocked. This coating of nylon fibres using high voltage, electrostatic equipment, gives it a dense and durable finish along with excellent antiglare qualities. Providing additional rigidity, a Wiechers six-point roll-cage was fitted and the standard wheel was ditched for a snapoff Momo item. The Tilton pedals and hydraulic handbrake, along with the carbon fibre gear knob, Racepak Pack digital data logger and gauges add to the motorsport theme a treat. The dry sump tank, swirl pot for the fuel, oil cooler shroud, fuel pump and filter, Aeroquip hosing and gel battery are now housed in the boot.
It was then the turn of the exterior to receive the benefits of some credit card abuse. With 9.5”-wide custom Löwenhart Superstar wheels destined for the front and 12” out back, new arches were painstakingly fabricated in metal and extended 120mm and 150mm respectively. Although it’s heavier compared to fibreglass, it’s much stronger and robust, and he’s managed to save weight elsewhere by fitting a carbon fibre bonnet and rear wing, which indecently also helps to generate greater downforce along with the Rieger front splitter. The same German body styling specialists also supplied the more aggressively fashioned front and rear bumpers and side skirts, lending it an even tougher guise, whilst the custom carbon fibre roof scoop, BMW Motorsport mirrors and Audi TT fuel cap finish off the race-car look that Tarjei was going for.
How this car is not covered in stone chips and dents with body panels hanging off is beyond me, especially when you know it’s driven to utilise all that’s been done under the bonnet. It later emerges that showroom gleam is thanks to a recent respray, a definite improvement over the Dolphin grey and more in keeping with the car’s styling. The M3 GT British Racing green paint now adorns every nook and cranny, and I think you’ll agree when I say it looks like a brute.
Having lost 3000 man hours and £80,000 to this project, I asked if Tarjei was happy with the outcome, he replied: “It’s the world’s fastest and most extreme E30, of course I like it. I love it. I’ve poured so much of my time and money into it but it’s turned out better than I could have ever imagined, I will never sell it.” When quizzed about his future plans he added: “My next project will be carbon’d wide-body 1 Series with the new M5 V10 engine, and I’m hoping it will be ready for Gatebil’s biggest event of the year in July.” That’s not a lot of time, but considering he built this monster in just ten months, we have every confidence he’ll do it. We just wish UK-based tuners and owners would follow suit and ditch the more traditional methods for something a bit different. If only we weren’t so conservative as a nation and tight with money, the world would be a far better place. Come on guys, let’s go for broke!
Friend Helge Vik, another BMW nut, helped Tarjei build the car.
On the track they’re each others’ worst rivals, in the garage they’re best mates Carbon fibre detailing not only looks the part but serves a purpose too.
An AP Racing brake upgrade helps rein in the 1048 raging horses stuffed under the bonnet.
The dry sump tank, swirl pot for fuel, oil cooler shroud, fuel pump and filter Aeroquip hosing and gel battery are housed in the boot Interior is minimal yet fully equipped for all of Tarjei’s needs.
A Racepak digital data logger displays all the important engine information Christiansen: “It’s the world’s fastest and most extreme E30, of course I like it. I love it. I’ve poured so much of my time and money into it, I will never sell it”.
ENGINE: 3.5-litre E34 M5 engine bored out to 3600cc, forged JE low-compression pistons, Carillo connecting rods, ARP rod and head bolts, 1640cc injectors, Motorsport crank, SSP 292º camshafts, ported and polished head, Autronic sequential SM2 ECU, three double Haltec coils, Aeromotive fuel pump, four-step oil pump, aluminium sump, Turbonetics super 60 twin-turbo, SSP aluminium intake manifold, PPF external wastegate, custom PPF 3” dump valve, custom 800mm high and 600mm wide intercooler and aluminium radiator, SSP TIG-welded stainless steel straight-through side-exit exhaust with 4” tailpipe.
TRANSMISSION: Tremag 5-speed gearbox, gearbox tunnel raised and widened, Tilton triple-plate clutch, E34 M5 rear differential and custom driveshaft, custom 3” propshaft.
CHASSIS: 9.5x18” (front) and 12x18” (rear) custom Löwenhart Superstar wheels shod in 225/40 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Yokohama semi-slicks. KW Stage 3 coilovers, Powerflex poly and ally mountings, Wiechers strut brace, front and rear anti-roll bars. AP Racing four-pot calipers with 335mm (front) and 355mm (rear) grooved discs mounted on alloy bells, Endless pads all round.
EXTERIOR: Custom fabricated metal wide-arch body kit extended 120mm at the front and 150mm out back, VIS Racing carbon fibre bonnet, Rieger front splitter, colour-coded upper eyebrows, Rieger Infinity front and rear bumpers and side skirts, custom fabricated carbon fibre roof scoop, BMW Motorsport carbon-look mirrors, Audi TT fuel cap, APR Racing carbon fibre rear wing, MHW smoked rear lights (moved 2cm out on each side), custom SSP roundels, colour-coded rubbing strips, door handles and kidney grille, resprayed 1995 M3 GT British Racing Green.
INTERIOR: Fully stripped-out, (seats, stereo system, door cards, carpet and sound deadening removed), plastic panes, flocked dash, Wiechers six-point roll-cage, Momo seats with Schroth four-point harnesses, Momo snap-off steering wheel, Tilton pedals and hydraulic handbrake, custom carbon fibre gear knob, Racepak digital data logger and gauges for boost, oil and water temperature, alloy floor mats, OMP fire extinguisher. Dry sump tank, swirl pot for fuel, oil cooler shroud, fuel pump and filter Aeroquip hosing and gel battery in boot.
THANKS: Steiner Cristiansen, Knut Grave, Andreas Buoen, Johnny Slaen, Jons Dekk Og Felg, Extremedesign.no and everyone else who helped build this car.
Scandinavia has some of the finest examples of Bavarian metal on the planet, putting America’s high standards to serious shame with mind-blowing performance figures.
Special thanks to Sheighla Bilgrami at Network Languages Limited for helping us out with a translator (01344 870 700/ networklanguages.com)
Tarjei’s masterpiece! A huge custom SSP intercooler keeps the air to the Turbonetics twin-turbo nice and cool.