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.
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.