724HP TURBO 2.8 E30 RED ALERT
The appeal of the E30 is undeniable: it is a classic BMW icon and it fits in so incredibly well with the modded BM community, being such a versatile platform that, no matter what you’re building, you can mould an E30 to perfectly suit your needs. Here at PBMW we will never get bored of seeing stunning modded E30s, but what we love beyond all other things is seeing one taken to the absolute extreme. We can appreciate the E30 at all levels and in all forms, but seeing one that’s just beyond anything else is something that will always make us smile, so you can imagine our reaction when Niko Laurikainen’s magnificent monster appeared before us. This E30 is so outrageous that it almost doesn’t look real, it’s like a Hot Wheels model that’s been blown up to full size or a cartoonish caricature of an E30 conjured up by someone with a serious Photoshop talent, but we can assure you that it’s very real and here in the metal in all its turbocharged glory.
The car’s flanks are without doubt the most dramatic aspect, not just because of those arches but also because of the vast side skirts with their exposed rivets and those absolutely massive vents”
For the second time this issue (or first, depending on what sort of order you like to read magazines in) we find ourselves in Finland, somewhere we’ve been visiting a lot in these pages recently and there’s a very good reason for that – they build some of the wildest big-power BMs about and you’re looking at one of them right here. Niko is a young guy, a truck mechanic by day, so’s used to getting his hands dirty and he’s also used to handling a turbo or two, and he also happens to be a huge BMW fan, which is unsurprising considering the car he’s built here. “I’ve been interested in BMWs for about 10 years,” Niko tells us as we chat. “I don’t know what it is in BMWs that interests me, but I have always dreamed of turbo E30,” he says with a smile and he’s finally made that dream a reality.
As for modding, you might be expecting him to be a serial builder of huge-horsepower cars but that couldn’t be further from the truth, and while Niko has dabbled with some tuning in the past it’s been diesel power that he’s been playing with, having built a 350hp Audi 90 S2 replica and a twin-turbo VW Passat 1.9tdi making 320hp. Now, both of those sound like nice builds but even with the total combined power of those two cars they still fall short of the insane power level of this E30, so just how did he end up building this wild machine?
The turbo is a Holset HX50 MFS (at the time of the photo shoot it was still an HX40) with a 60mm wastegate, a 3.5” stainless exhaust, 1300cc injectors, and a Haltech Platinum Sport 1000 ECU and the car runs on ethanol
“I found this car sitting abandoned in a field for three years,” says Niko, “I heard about it from a friend of mine. It had a healthy and rust-free body and a roll-cage already built, plus an E34 M5 rear end, otherwise it was stripped completely. It used to have an M30 turbo but after engine failure it was mostly sold as parts. I had another E30 project which turned out to be too corroded and I already had an M30 engine for that, so I gave it up and picked this up,” he explains and so the origin story of what would become this beast was established, and Niko started down the long road that would take this car from empty E30 shell to wild red rocket.
As wild as this build is to look at, it’s the engine that’s the most impressive element of the car and it’s the area that has undergone the most revisions, as Niko explains. “First came the M30 turbo engine which lasted for three weeks before the block cracked. After that I went with an M50B25 with all stock internals and a Holset HX40, which this time started pinging and after investigating I found four split pistons. Next came the M50B28, which had 436hp at 0.6 bar of boost. This also started pinging on the dyno; the engine was disassembled several times and no damage or anything weird was found. Later in 2017 it blew the head gasket, so I took the head off and dried the cylinders, and that’s when I found out that one piston was clanking in the cylinder. After that I started tearing the whole car apart for the body kit and a new engine among many other modifications,” he says. This E30 has been on quite a journey and through numerous stages of evolution before reaching the level you see before you, and the engine that powers it now is a serious piece of kit that has been overbuilt to ensure it will make huge power reliably.
“The engine is an M50B28,” says Niko, “the block is an M50B25 iron block and has an M52B28 crank. I’ve added Wiseco pistons with 84.5mm bore and ZRP rods with ARP 2000 bolts, ACL Race bearings, S50 valve springs, 276°/276° cams, stock-sized valves with a three angle cut, an Athena Cooper Ring head gasket, homemade headers and intake. The turbo is a Holset HX50 MFS (at the time of the photo shoot it was still an HX40) with a 60mm wastegate, a 3.5” stainless exhaust, 1300cc injectors, and a Haltech Platinum Sport 1000 ECU and the car runs on ethanol,” says Niko with a grin and that’s an epic spec with some serious components on board. A lot of work has gone into ensuring that M50 hybrid motor can take everything the HX50 can throw at it, and that happens to be 2 bar of boost and 724hp and 728lb ft of torque, which is a monster amount of power, especially in something as small and light as an E30, and especially an E30 that’s been completely stripped so we can only imagine how utterly wild this thing is to drive.
The next thing we have to talk about is the look of this car because it’s so utterly outrageous – it’s so wild that it’s actually unreal, and while we fully appreciate that the styling will absolutely divide opinion, we love it. “The car was already a bit hacked and had an M3 body kit,” says Niko, “so starting with that I decided to take it to the next level, taking impressions from old DTM racers. It took one winter to accomplish, all made by me with a little help from friends, and it’s all sheet metal,” he explains and that makes it even more impressive. Up front you’ve got that huge black splitter that juts out from beneath the bumper, and then you’ve got black grilles and a twin, yellow-tinted headlight conversion with black brows, with the air filter poking out of a now-redundant high-beam housing hole. Then there are those wide arches, which sweep out of the front and rear wings and their flat tops accentuate their size and make this E30 look even wider than it already is. The car’s flanks are without doubt the most dramatic aspect, not just because of those arches but also because of the vast side skirts with their exposed rivets and those absolutely massive vents, which begin beneath the front arches and look like something you’d find on an ’80s supercar. And then you get to the back and realise that, actually, maybe this is the most dramatic part of the whole car. For starters, there’s no rear bumper, just exposed tyres and possibly the biggest diffuser we’ve ever seen, and the whole lot is topped off with one of the biggest wings we’ve ever seen, which sits on top of a little boot lip spoiler for good measure. It’s all finished off with that gorgeous shade of Imola red 2 and the car is just so insane to look at that we’re at a loss for words, really, and we love it for that.
Of course, arches like that need wheels suitably wide and stunning to fill them, and Niko’s done a great job with his choice here. “The wheels had to be wide enough for the body kit, I had not done any planning on wheels and these came to me almost by accident: they are OZ Futuras,” he says and these 17s measure a hefty 9.5”-wide up front and 11” at the rear and not only do they fill those fat arches out perfectly, they look awesome while doing it. Niko has kept things simple, opting to polish the faces and those stepped lips and they work so well against that red body work and look so good on the E30 in general, making them a superb choice.
As for the rest of the chassis, Niko has done plenty of work to ensure that his E30 can handle all 724hp; up front you will find BC Racing coilovers with an MRT Products roll-centre bump steer angle kit, while at the rear sit GAZ shocks and there are poly bushes all-round. Niko has also fitted an E36 steering rack and a 2:1 ratio steering quickener, the rear end has been moved 70mm towards the rear of the car, and with that much power on tap the brakes also needed a serious upgrade and so he’s fitted E46 discs up front with Brembo four-pot calipers and he’s running the stock E34 M5 rear brakes that came with the rear end, and everything has been chosen to make this E30 handle as best as it possibly can on both street and track.
Finally we come to the interior, and there’s really not a lot here, but then that comes as no surprise considering the kind of hardcore build this is. “The interior was, at the time of photo shoot, made from parts I could scavenge,” says Niko, “but at the moment it has a flocked dash and centre console, upholstered roof, new Sparco Rev II seats, and the roll-cage was painted black.” In addition to that there’s a Momo steering wheel, custom switch panel mounted on the dash, and replacing the gauge cluster you’ll find a Defi Advance ZD digital multifunction display.
Niko has built himself an incredible E30 and it’s without doubt one of the wildest machines we’ve seen in a long time. It looks utterly insane, thanks to that classic DTM-inspired custom body work that makes it stand out like nothing else, and then there’s the small matter of that massively reworked M50 contained beneath the bonnet, and it all combines to create an absolute monster. It’s taken Niko three-and-a-half years to get his E30 to this stage and while he is understandably infatuated with it and it is, by his own admission, not far off being a money-no-object build he’s far from finished… “I will be swapping cams, injectors, turbo and transmission. I’m going for closer to 1000hp,” he grins and that’s the thing, no matter how much power you have, there comes a point where you get used to it and you want more, even when you’re starting with 724hp. But that craving for more is what makes the modded scene so damn good and what inspires builds like this, and it’s what we live for.
DATA FILE Turbo M50 BMW E30 Coupe
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION Straight-six BMW M50B28 built with M50B25 block and M52B28 crank, 84.5mm bore Wiseco pistons, ZRP rods, ARP 2000 bolts, ACL Race bearings, S50 valve springs, 276°/276° cams, stock-sized valves with a three angle cut, Athena Cooper Ring head gasket, homemade exhaust manifold and aluminium intake, Holset HX50 MFS turbo (HX40 in photos), 60mm wastegate, 3.5” stainless exhaust, 1300cc injectors, Wika fuel pressure gauge, Haltech Platinum Sport 1000 ECU. ZF GS6-37DZ six-speed manual gearbox
MAX POWER 724hp @ 8000rpm at 2.0 bar
MAX TORQUE 728lb ft @ 6500rpm at 2.0 bar
CHASSIS 9.5×17” (front) and 11×17” (rear) OZ Futura wheels with polished faces and lips, 215/40 (front) and 275/35 (rear) Bridgestone Expedia S-01 tyres, BC Racing coilovers (front), GAZ dampers (rear), MRT Products roll-centre bump steer angle kit, E36 steering rack, 2:1 ratio steering quickener, E34 M5 rear end moved 70mm further back, Brembo four-piston calipers with E46 discs (front), E34 M5 calipers and discs (rear)
EXTERIOR Full respray in Imola red 2, custom front splitter, black grilles, twin headlight conversion, high-beam air intake, homemade metal wide arches and vented metal side skirts, side-exit exhaust, rear bumper delete, rear diffuser, rear wing
INTERIOR Momo seats (now Sparco Rev II), Sparco and OMP harnesses, roll-cage (now black), Sparco steering wheel (now Momo), custom switch panel, Defi Advance ZD digital multifunction display, flocked dash and centre console and upholstered roof fitted after photo shoot
Wika fuel pressure gauge The engine uses an M50 block with an M52B28 crank. Massive Holset helps make 724hp. This whole car is just outrageous. Sparco steering Custom switch panel wheel Rear roll-cage Momo buckets and race harnesses. Custom side skirts with huge vents High-beam hole houses air filter. 724hp makes this sort of thing very easy to do. Massive rear diffuser.