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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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  •   MaxNew reacted to this post about 8 months ago
    SIDEWAYS SHOW CAR Turbo #BMW-E30-Drift-Car

    Sometimes we find a #BMW that’s had so many changes it’s hard to spot them all. Ian Walpole’s E30 drifter is one such car and he did it all in his garage at home… Words: Mike Renaut. Photos: Matt Richardson.

    Don’t think of this one as a modified E30. It’s better described as a hand-built race car with a lot of BMW parts. At first glance it looks like a stripped M3 until you realise those arches aren’t quite the same and the back end looks different too… The guys with all the answers are owner Ian Walpole and his mate John Amor who helped him greatly with the build. Between them they’ve built and raced everything from a rally Vauxhall Viva HB to a trials Land Rover. They like a bit of everything, so in 2013 decided it was time for a drift car. “I’ve been into BMWs for a while,” says Ian, “I’ve got an E46 Touring I use for MCC Reliability trials with my dad as navigator – that’s all about stopping in boxes on hills and car control. This E30 was something different again.

    “It took us three years to build,” continues Ian, “I don’t know how my wife Sasha put up with it. Just before we went travelling - around 2011 - I’d bought a #1987 #BMW-325i-Sport-M-Tech-1 purely to drive about. It sat on the driveway unused and when we returned I saw rain had got inside and it was all mouldy. After an MOT and some TLC I tried selling but it wasn’t even worth £1000 so I bought an HX40 turbo and a manifold kit for it. The kit was awful, the ports were offset in the wrong place and John and I like to do things properly, so we started to modify parts to fit and the whole build spiralled out of control.”

    Caged Laser Engineering laser-cut a plate to fit the turbo and another to fit the cylinder head. “We then cut up the cheap manifold and fabricated new flanges and pipes creating a split pulse manifold with external 60mm wastegate and a screamer pipe exiting from the offside wing,” says Ian. “Then someone offered me £700 for the Sport body kit meaning we had money to play with. We pulled the motor apart and the crank was worn, so in went a 2.8 crank from an M52 and shorter rods, we balanced it all to within 0.1 of a gram and honed the block.” As you can tell, Ian has a well-equipped workshop…

    Next the head was reworked by Simon at Orchard Performance for a broad torque band, with oversized valves and porting allowing decent horsepower from a non-aggressive Schrick camshaft. The combustion chambers were modified to improve detonation resistance under boost and optimise combustion, resulting in a fastburning compact chamber that now runs cooler than stock. That alone resulted in an engine with torque enough to get the rear wheels spinning from 2500rpm to the redline. One of the few other areas the guys didn’t do themselves was the baffled sump, “We made one,” says John, “but kept thinking it didn’t quite look right. We reasoned that big companies know what they’re doing when it comes to designing parts, and the idea of oil starvation because we’d made a design mistake was scary, so we bought an off-the-shelf baffle for the sump and welded it in.”

    Currently the car runs 6psi of boost, which means 250whp. “On the first dyno run the boost was cranked up to 12psi which produced a puff of steam from the expansion tank and a misfire,” remembers Ian. “I knew the head gasket was the weakest point but I briefly saw 350whp! We’ve now fitted a Cometic multilayer steel gasket which is thicker than the old one, lowering the compression from 9:1 to 8.5:1 and allowing us to safely run extra boost.” That nitrous bottle in the back actually connects to the chargecooler, a £1000 item bought for just £70 on eBay, “We made a spray nozzle on the lathe so 2bar of pressurised nitrous is fired into the cooler, which freezes the inner radiator veins at -136ºC. This provides constant cool air to the engine,” he says. “I didn’t like the idea of injecting nitrous straight into the engine,” explains Ian, “but used this way it’s a great method of keeping the temperature regulated. When the car’s on the dyno being tuned it’s going to have a different temperature to when it’s outside on a track in hot sunshine.

    This set up keeps it constant to the dyno temperature conditions.” Waste nitrous exits via a pressure relief valve and homebuilt spray bar over the outside of the charge cooler – again helping it keep an optimum temperature. After all that, the boys kept things simpler with the gearbox; it’s the standard 265 Getrag five-speed unit with uprated pressure plate, although the friction plate has been modified with six sintered paddles and uprated springs by Precision Clutches of Yeovil.


    When it came to the body work, there was a clear plan, as Ian explains: “Building this car was all about airflow and weight saving.” The standard bonnet slam panel was getting in the way of that airflow so out came the angle grinder and the front 10” of BMW dropped to the workshop floor to be replaced by a removable lightweight 25mm tube version. “Yeah it’s a bit frightening doing that,” admits John, “but there are two of us so we knew we could fix anything between us.” Keeping the engine cool is a radiator from a 3.0-litre Mitsubishi GTO, but even then the guys couldn’t leave it stock and have handmade an alloy cowling for the 16” fan, “We also cut off the filler neck/cap and ran a bleed hose to an alloy expansion tank.” The fuel cell in the boot was bought from a hill climb car, “It’s an ATL-style bag tank with alloy shroud and the original BMW fuel cap – one of the few original parts that survived the build,” laughs Ian. Fuel travels via a low-pressure pump into a pump feed surge tank to a modified fuel rail and 600cc injectors, then returns to the tank via an adjustable pressure regulator.

    The front spoiler and bumper came from eBay; “It was a cheap part that arrived broken in two. We salvaged it and reinforced it with 0.5” alloy tubing and fibreglass, then cut out the indicator and number plate recesses for better air flow before hanging the bumper on quarter-turn Dzus fasteners,” explains John. The new arches were inspired by a modification Ian made to an Alfa Romeo many years ago and are hand-formed from 16- and 18-gauge steel, while each of the side skirts was made from a single sheet of aluminium, likewise the rear bumper.

    “The straight bends for the side skirts were much easier than the two days of TIG welding that bumper needed,” admits Ian. As for the final colour, “The guy who painted it – Luke Harvey of Tytherington Body and Paint - suggested adding rainbow flake into the lacquer over the black base.” It looks like a normal black until sunlight hits it, then it sparkles. Almost everything else is colour coded in Ian’s favourite Kawasaki Green.

    The boot lid is steel but there’s a carbon fibre one under consideration, “With a drift car you need a certain amount of weight over the back wheels,” says Ian, “we’re still experimenting – it’s more about balance than pure weight reduction.” That’s an M3 boot spoiler but with homemade adaptor plates to fit the non-M3 boot lid. “I fear we might have to fit a huge spoiler for stability in the future though…” says Ian. The weight saving even extends to having the door internals completely gutted and making up new lightweight door latching mechanisms from 15mm billet alloy – drilled, of course, for reduced weight.

    The E30 originally had a sunroof but now even the roof panel is fibreglass - saving 18kg and lowering the centre of gravity. “The roof was £67 on eBay but turned out to be in Glasgow,” laughs John, “we went in a van and did about £200 in fuel; I drove up and fell asleep exhausted when we arrived, so they just dropped the roof in on top of me and Ian drove back. It fitted alright once we cut the steel one off but the glue you use to bond it is £50 a tube.”

    The front screen is the glass one fitted at the factory but the rest of the windows are Lexan, “I bought the door pieces ready cut but made the others myself with a jigsaw to cut the air scoops into the quarter windows,” explains Ian. There are four scoops in total: two force air over the fuel pumps and swirl pot, the other pair are powered by two 12-volt in-line boat fans blowing air through the gearbox and differential coolers – mounted between the rear lights – with the air exiting through the space where the rear number plate used to be.

    The wheels came from Ian’s 2000 750iL; rear hub adaptors were employed to go from four- to five-stud and give an 80mm wider track. The rear suspension comprises HSD Monopro shocks and springs and adjustable trailing arms, all shod with Powerflex Black series bushes. The rear beam lower supports, meanwhile, are now also stronger and longer, which leads us to the front axle. It’s comprised of E36 HSD coilovers with re-drilled strut turrets and top mounts that are adjustable for caster and camber. E36 front hubs run homebuilt hub adaptors and connect to a Z3 steering rack via E46 inner and outer tie rods with four mm rack spacers added for greater lock. The power steering rack is re-engineered by cutting slots internally, allowing free movement of the rack lubricated by a smear of grease and meaning the pipework, pump and reservoir could be removed. That change not only saves weight but also gives better feedback during drifting.
    As for the exhaust system, would it surprise you to learn Ian and John hand built that too from 3” stainless steel tubing? “I cut two 90º bends and joined them to form a T-piece, the exhaust exits just ahead of the rear wheels and as well as being designed for free flow it helps push the tyre smoke back. And there’s plenty of it,” laughs Ian, “I’ve got specialised Achilles purple smoke tyres.”

    Inside two Sparco seats make up the minimalist interior with a Momo wheel and gauges from AEM. The handmade dashboard is covered in Alcantara while all the other important control switches – fans, gearbox and diff pumps – are in a strip console across the top of the windscreen. “It looks great,” says John, “but when you’re strapped into the car we found that was the only place where Ian could still reach the switches.” Low fuel, nitrous engage and low oil pressure warning lights are also fitted. The handbrake lever is carved from a single piece of billet aluminium, as are the door handles. The roll cage has been extensively modified too; it’s lightweight 45mm chromoly seamless tube and started out as a six-point cage but now has double that - along with dash bars, more crossbars and strengthened mounting plates. Even the stock heater is now housed in a much smaller homemade alloy surround, “There’s not much of this car we haven’t touched,” admits John.

    “When I first saw it in paint I didn’t recognise it as my car,” remembers Ian, “it was stunning. We’re both really pleased with how it turned out.” Did working together ever lead to any arguments about parts choices? “I just left all the difficult decisions to Ian,” laughs John, “Yeah and all the difficult jobs too,” jokes Ian. “It was 50% planning and 50% experimenting, some pieces were a bit scary but we bounced ideas off each other.”

    Ian and John both insist this is a drift car, and was never intended to be a show car, but then Ian reveals just how many hours John has spent polishing the engine bay for our photos. “I used an entire tube of Autosol,” admits John, “we weren’t aiming to build a show car but, yes, it did get out of hand.” Thanks also go to Ian’s wife Sasha who apparently “cleans all the bits no one normally sees.”

    Surely then, and this is a sentiment echoed by almost everyone who has seen the BMW, the car is too nice to risk smacking into an Armco by drifting? “Of course it’s going to get hammered,” agrees Ian, “but it’s designed to be hardy. The body is mainly steel, the fibreglass panels can be changed in a few seconds since they’re all on Dzus fasteners and we can rebuild anything we damage on the track - I just hope Luke can match the paint again!”

    THANKS To the staff and visitors at Castle Combe Circuit (castlecombecircuit.co.uk, 01249 782417) for their assistance with this feature.


    DATA FILE Turbo Drift #BMW-E30 / #Getrag / #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i / #Holset-HX40 / #Holset / #1987 / #BMW-325i-Turbo-E30 / #BMW-325i-Turbo / #BMW-325i-Drift-Car / #Drift-Car / #BMW-325i-Drift-Car-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #Bosch / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E30

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.8-litre single-turbo straight-six M20, aciddipped #M20B25 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 block, modified baffled sump and oil windage tray for better oil return, M52B28 84mm-stroke crankshaft, #M20B20 conrods, M20B25 low-compression pistons with new rings, modified oil pick up and oil filter relocation kit, #ARP big end and main bearing bolts, #ACL-Racing Race Series crankshaft bearings, Saab 9000 turbo 3bar MAP sensor, original cylinder head gas flowed, ported and polished, 1mm-oversized valves with uprated springs, custom torque-focused inlet porting, high gas velocity exhaust ports, custom combustion chambers, improved oil return galleries, uprated rocker arms, 272 #Schrick cam, #Vernier cam pulley, titanium retainers and collets, #Holset-HX40 turbo from a Cummins diesel, bespoke split pulse exhaust manifold, 60mm external wastegate and screamer pipe exiting offside front wing, Mitsubishi GTO radiator with aluminium expansion tank, Ford V6 coil pack and Canems ECU, crank position, intake air temperature, throttle position and manifold absolute pressure sensors, ATL fuel cell, Facet low-pressure fuel lift pump, fuel surge tank, 255lpm #Bosch-044 fuel pump, modified fuel rail, 600cc injectors, adjustable fuel pressure regulator, low-friction AN-6 Teflon hoses, Aeroquip fittings

    TRANSMISSION E30 325i #Getrag-265 five-speed manual, uprated pressure plate, friction plate modified with six sintered paddles and uprated springs, rebuilt E30 limited slip differential

    CHASSIS 8x18” (front) and 9x18” (rear) #BMW-Style-32 wheels with 215/35 Yokohama Prada Spec 2 (front) and 265/35 Achilles ATR Sport Violet purple smoke tyres (rear), E36 HSD Monopro adjustable coilovers, re-drilled strut turrets and adjustable top mounts, E36 front hubs with homebuilt hub adaptors, Z3 steering rack, E46 inner and outer tie rods with 4mm rack spacers, standard subframe with HSD dampers, uprated Powerflex Black Series bushes, adjustable trailing arms and anti-roll bars, E36 #EBC-Turbo grooved 286mm discs with E36 calipers and EBC Yellowstuff pads (front), EBC Turbo Groove 258mm discs (rear), line lock and hydro handbrake with standard handbrake shoes, mechanism and lever removed

    EXTERIOR 901 Black with rainbow glitter lacquer, other details in Kawasaki Green, handmade steel wide-arch front and rear quarters, handmade side skirts, fibreglass roof panel, hand-fabricated removable lightweight 25mm tube slam panel, hand-formed aluminium inner wings, heavily modified reinforced fibreglass front bumper, flushed door locks and filler cap, Lexan windows with air ducts, Titanium exhaust guards, spare tyre well and battery box removed from boot, handmade aluminium boot floor, original number plate recess, boot hinges and bulkhead removed, new handmade ally bulkhead riveted in, Anodised green motorcycle floodlights, front and rear strobes

    INTERIOR Fully stripped out, all sound deadening removed, floor cut and tunnels for side exiting exhausts fabricated, six-point half roll-cage modified into 12-point cage with 45mm crossbars, handfabricated aluminium dashboard, modified heater box to fit behind cage, hydro handbrake and homemade mounting, Sparco seats and STR 3” harnesses, new door inners with home-fabricated lightweight harness material door pulls and latch mechanisms, carbon fibre door cards
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  •   BimmerPost reacted to this post about 8 months ago
    Buying Guide

    An unusual one this month as we take a look at buying and importing the baby M3, an E30 320iS. We never got the E30 320iS in the UK but if you want to bag yourself a slice of M3 without the price tag to match you might want to consider finding one… Words: Simon Holmes. Photography: KGF Classic Cars.

    When it comes to sharing their models, BMW has always been pretty kind to us in the UK. Aside from a few exceptions we’ve been well catered for over the years but one model we did miss out on was the 320iS version of the E30. It’s actually a little ironic that this gem never came to the UK due to the fact we already had what were considered the superior M3 and 325i models. Italy and Portugal weren’t so lucky, though, or at least their tax laws for cars with over 2.0-litre displacements meant severe penalties, which made the high-end E30s other countries were blessed with hard to justify.

    So, keen to let those two countries in on sporty 3 Series action, in 1987 #BMW kindly built a whole new model to specifically cater for those looking for a sportier alternative to the six-cylinder 320i, which was otherwise the range-topper there.

    Available only in left-hand drive format but in both two- and four-door platforms, the 320iS was essentially a hybrid mix of 325i Sport and detuned E30 M3. There were no swollen arches, splitters or spoilers in place and despite sharing the iconic M car’s powerplant there were no M badges present.

    Virtually all of its major running gear, exterior and interior trim parts were shared directly with the 325i Sport but at the heart of the car was the twin-cam, 16-valve S14 engine from the M3. From the outside the engine looked identical to a regular S14, complete with #BMW-M-Power cam cover. But inside it was different. To conform to the sub-2.0-litre tax stipulations, capacity was decreased and instead of the usual 2302cc displacement the 320iS’ S14 had a shorter stroke of 72.6mm compared to the regular M3’s 82mm. This brought capacity down to a more tax-friendly 1990cc and the all-important free-flowing head and individual throttle bodies were left untouched. Despite the fairly substantial drop in displacement power wasn’t affected as much as you might have thought. The peak figure was listed at a slightly lower 192hp compared to the M3’s 200hp and it made that power at the same point in the rev range at 6750rpm. Torque did decrease more substantially, falling from 177lb ft to 155lb ft at 4900rpm but the healthy power output still equated to lively performance, although not quite as sharp as its M related brother. From rest, 62mph came in 7.9 seconds, just over a second slower than an M3 but a second faster than a 318iS, whilst top speed was an impressive 141mph.

    The engine was attached to the same M3 derived five-speed dog-leg gearbox and transferred its power to the wheels via a slightly shorter ratio 3.46:1 differential, complete with LSD. The power-assisted steering rack was the same ratio as the six-cylinder 325i at 20.5:1, making it very slightly slower than an M3’s rack but with less weight up front response was slightly improved. The brakes were also shared with the six-cylinder E30 models, which meant 260mm discs all-round that were solid at the rear and vented at the front, whilst ABS was standard fitment on all cars. Covering the brakes were 14-inch alloy wheels, although the four-door featured slightly narrower sixinch wide items compared to the two-door wheels, which were half-an-inch wider.

    The two-door also featured a full M Tec body kit, shared with the UK-spec 325i Sport. This was made up of a larger front spoiler that covered the whole front valance, side-skirts and upper and lower rear spoilers. The four-door version was a lot subtler, featuring only a basic splitter and spoiler. Aside from the rear badging, there was nothing else to tell the 320iS apart.

    Inside, the interior was standard E30 specification, although the rev counter was similar to the M3 version, which meant it also featured an integrated oil temperature gauge, but without the M badging or red needles. Specification otherwise was fairly basic but central locking, electric windows and mirrors were all standard. The two-door also came fitted with sports seats, an M Tech steering wheel and matching gear knob, which were all options on the four-door. Other options for either model included larger 15-inch alloys, leather trim, heated seats, air-con, an electric or manual sunroof and an on-board computer, among a few other little things.
    Production ran till the end of 1990 and the model was not replaced. Less than 3750 were built in total, around two thirds of those being two-door models.

    Buying one

    As you might expect from a car that was made in limited numbers and only officially available in two countries (both outside of the UK), these cars aren’t exactly easy to find. If you plan on finding one in the UK then be prepared to wait. There are a handful of 320iS’ already living here but no more than a dozen or so and they rarely come up for sale. But if you don’t want to tackle the task of finding one abroad and importing it then it’s worth putting the feelers out with the specialist modern classic companies such as KGF Classic Cars, who supplied the car pictured here some time ago. Munich Legends, 4 Star Classics and Classic Heroes are also worth a contacting but as it’s very much a seller’s market prices tend to start at the £12,000 mark and a really good example will cost nearer £15,000 from a specialist.


    Your other option is to source a car abroad and import it. Sourcing one isn’t too hard and Italian used car websites such as www.autoscout24.it are a good start. We found six for sale relatively easily and prices range from £6500 to £11,500 depending on condition, mileage and specification.

    Once you have found a car and, ideally gone to see it, then getting it back to the UK can be done one of two ways. The easiest solution is to get someone to do the hard work for you and there are plenty of specialist companies that will arrange to bring the car back and do all the paperwork for you. Prices will vary depending on how far the car is from the UK, so get a couple of quotes.

    The other option is to do the legwork yourself by finding a car and then bringing home on your own. If you’re doing this and also want to drive the car home then make sure it has the valid equivalent of an MoT and that it is insured. Insurance can be done through a UK classic car specialist as the E30 is old enough to qualify as a classic now. The car can also be insured through its VIN number, as the foreign registration plate will not be valid. Make sure you get a receipt of the sale and equivalent V5 registration document during the purchase and once back in the UK you will need to send the car for an MoT. When it has passed that, a V55 form from the DVLA is required to register the car, as well as a document to show vehicle type approval, which is available from BMW itself. An HM Revenue and Customs form is also required but, as the car is coming from a European country, it should be void of any VAT charges, although a fee of around £55 will be due. The DVLA may then want to inspect the car but after everything is approved it should be issued with an age-related plate. Taxing it is then a normal procedure and there are plenty of specialist insurers to cater for imported classic cars, too.

    Bodywork

    Sadly, over the years the E30 has tended to succumb to rust. Okay, the 320iS has a better chance of being rot-free than a UK car due to the climate but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be thoroughly inspected, especially as there isn’t exactly a wealth of cars to choose from.

    Check the front end over carefully. The twodoor cars wore the larger M Tec lower spoiler, which helps protect the front valance but try and feel behind it to make sure it’s not rotten or damaged. The four-door cars featured a simpler lower spoiler, so the valance is exposed making it susceptible to both damage and rust. For either car, make sure the spoilers are intact.

    Working backwards, the wings tend to start rotting by the bottom edge where they meet the sill. Also check to see if the plastic inner wheel arch liners are still in place, as these protect the inner wings from rotting. If they are missing then inspect up above and around the wheel for signs of corrosion. The bonnet doesn’t usually rust but what’s underneath it does. With the bonnet open, inspect the scuttle panel by the wipers and vents and down in the corners of the engine bay where the header tank and fuse box are located. Whilst you’re there, also check the condition of the paint nearest the exhaust manifold as it can burn away over time.

    The doors themselves are solid but blocked drainage holes will make the bottoms rot from the inside out. Above the doors, if the car has a sunroof then check for signs of rust and corroded seals. Below the doors, check the sills for corrosion, particularly around the jacking points. On the rear arches, inspect the outside lip for signs of bubbling, which may require a comprehensive repair. Lastly, open the boot and check for signs of damp behind the bootlid seals, inside the spare wheel well and behind the carpet on the rear strut towers.

    Interior

    Inside, the E30 is very much back to basics and there’s little to go wrong. However, wear and tear is more of a problem and some parts of the interior don’t take the miles or years too well. All cars came with cloth trim as standard but leather was an option. The driver’s seat does tend to show signs of age first but it can be repaired as long as the seat itself isn’t damaged. The dashboards are known for cracking if they’ve spent some time in the hot sun, which is more likely given the model’s origins, so inspect the area nearest to the windscreen, particularly on the passenger side. Sourcing another E30 dashboard wouldn’t usually be too hard but the fact it’s left-hand drive makes it a little tricky as it will need to be sourced abroad.

    There aren’t many electricals to worry about but check that anything it does have works as it should including options such as the on-board computer or electric sunroof. Make sure the gauges aren’t temperamental and the windows operate as they should. If they don’t work but make a clicking noise they are likely stuck from lack of use. Try taking the doorcard off and lubricating the motor itself, which also helps if there’s a slow moving window.

    Wheels, tyres and brakes

    The standard wheels were cross-spoke alloys measuring 14 inches and the two-door and four-door models had different designs and widths. 15-inch wheels were an option but plenty of cars seem to be running the alloys from other models, which isn’t a problem other than the fact that they aren’t original.

    Brake lines corrode over time, so it’s worth getting underneath to at least get a visual. If the car has been looked after well it’s quite likely these have already been replaced but whilst the parts are relatively cheap, fitting them is a labour intensive task. The front flexi-pipes are also prone to corrosion, particularly if the car has been laid up in storage for any amount of time. Lastly, make sure the ABS light goes out on the dash. If it doesn’t, it’s likely to be a faulty sensor but if you’re unlucky it could the pump, which is more expensive.

    Engine

    Being an engine essentially developed for racing the S14 is generally a strong unit and serious failures are few and far between. It’s also an engine that can cover big miles happily just as long as it’s been looked after well. Maintenance is key here, so look for signs it’s been cared for. Regular oil changes are vital and although these engines are naturally a little loud and lumpy on tickover, make sure neither is excessive. If it seems particularly rough or hesitant at idle then it may well be down to perished vacuum hoses that cause air leaks to the inlet. Faulty HT leads, idle valves or split breather hoses are also common poor running issues. Slightly more concerning is the possibility it’s been abused particularly hard on track, as it’s possible to bend valves through over-revving.

    If the top-end is noisy then it’s likely the tappets will need to be re-shimmed as these need adjustment from time to time. If they haven’t been done in a while it can be a sign the engine has not been well maintained. Also listen out for excessive timing chain noise. The double row duplex chain has no fixed mileage for when it should be replaced, so it’s best to keep a vigilant ear and if it sounds too loud for comfort get it replaced. Whilst its apart, it’s best advised to replace the tensioner with the upgraded item from a later E36 M3 Evo.

    Elsewhere, exhaust manifolds can sometimes blow but check the studs aren’t just loose as it’s a fairly common cause. The valve stem seals are also known to wear out over time and will show up with a puff of smoke on overrun during a test-drive. Also on the test-drive make sure the temp gauge doesn’t go past the middle area as water pumps, thermostats and radiators all degrade over time. Last of all, check for oil leaks from the sump and front cover gaskets.

    Steering and suspension

    Upgrades are fairly common here and it’s not unusual to see aftermarket springs and dampers fitted. As long as the car is level and not sitting too low then it’s not a major issue. Maintenance-wise, the E30 likes to go through its rear sub-frame bushes. If this happens you will know about it as the car drives strangely, as though the rear is trying to steer by itself. A rattle from the rear end indicates a rear shock mount which, again, is a common E30 fault.

    At the front, the outer track rod ball joints tend to wear out and cause odd tyre wear, so check to make sure all looks normal. Inspect the steering rack gaiters to see if they have any oil in them as this is a surefire sign the rack itself needs replacing. Also check the steering column for play and listen for odd wheel bearing noises at the same time.

    Transmission and drivetrain

    All 320iS models will have been fitted with the M3 sourced #Getrag dogleg gearbox, which means first gear is located down and to the left below reverse and all other gears move down a place. It’s a motorsport-derived ’box that is generally strong although, over time, a worn layshaft will develop a rattle at idle. It can be rebuilt easily enough and it’s worth upgrading the gear linkage, too, as these can also wear, giving a clunky and in-direct feel.

    Elsewhere, check the differential to see if it’s weeping oil. If it’s a little damp, then that’s acceptable but if it’s physically wet, get it looked at straight away. These are known to weep from both the input and output seals, both of which are easy to replace and worth doing before the diff runs low on oil and begins to whine.

    Verdict

    If you want a slice of #E30-M3 without the inflated price tag then the #BMW-320iS is it. In some ways, it could even be considered the better car; it does a lot of what the M3 can without shouting about it through spoilers, flared wheel arches and aerofoils. Then there’s the fact the car is rarer than an M3. There are typical #BMW-E30 related issues to be aware of but the rest of the car is easy enough to maintain, although expect to pay M3 prices for an engine build if it does need one. Last of all, there’s value to think about. With the way prices are going for all of the particularly desirable E30 models it’s a matter of time before the 320iS becomes out of financial reach for many people, just like the M3 has done. Then it will be too late to own and enjoy one in the same way you could do right now.

    The #1990 #BMW-320iS-E30
    ENGINE: Four-cylinder, DOHC #S14 #S14B20
    CAPACITY: 1990cc
    MAX POWER: 192hp @ 6750rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 180lb ft @4750rpm
    0-62MPH: 7.9 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 141mph

    THANKS TO:
    KGF Classic Cars
    Tel: 01733 425140
    Web: www.kgfclassiccars.co.uk
    • Exclusively produced for the Italian and Portuguese markets the 320is was manufactured by BMW Motorsport to take advantage of the reduced taxes inExclusively produced for the Italian and Portuguese markets the 320is was manufactured by BMW Motorsport to take advantage of the reduced taxes in those countries for cars that displace two litres or less. It is powered by the same four cylinder S14 engine but produces 192bhp at 6900rpm opposed to 200bhp at 6750rpm for the regular M3. Only 2542 units were produced compared to 18204 units of all M3 variants. (Source BMW M Registry).  More ...
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    • Curved dual exhaust tips, complete M-Technic II aero package, shadowline window trim, front airdam, tachometer with integrated oil temperature gauge,Curved dual exhaust tips, complete M-Technic II aero package, shadowline window trim, front airdam, tachometer with integrated oil temperature gauge, power mirrors, central locking, power front windows, map lights in the rear view mirror, three-spoke alcantara-wrapped M-Technic steering wheel, leather shift knob, air conditioning, interior headlight adjustment, digital clock with outside temperature display, on-board computer, rear sunshade, leather upholstery.  More ...
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    • EXTERIOR
      This stunning example is finished in Brilliant Red, (Paint Code 308), and retains the factory finish and deep gloss of a pampered, garagedEXTERIOR
      This stunning example is finished in Brilliant Red, (Paint Code 308), and retains the factory finish and deep gloss of a pampered, garaged car. The front airdam was painted in September 2009 due to the owners quest for perfection. One microscopic mark is evident on the rear bumper and O/S/F door edge. There is no colour fade but a tiny ding can be seen on the O/S/R panel and a touched in mark on the N/S/R wheel arch. This example really is a show winner.

      INTERIOR
      A truly amazing E30 interior with no wear or damage. The optional Black Leather is soft, supportive and has no scuffs or creases. All the carpets have been protected by genuine BMW velour mats from new which themselves are clean and wear free. All the dials, vast array of gauges, computers and controls are functioning with accuracy and quality. A colour coded Sony stereo has been fitted and navigation disc. The anthracite headlining is tight. Simply stunning.

      ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
      A must drive for all car enthusiasts. This high revving S14 engine produces 192bhp, just 8bhp down on a regular M3. It has a four-valve head, individual throttle plates for each cylinder, machined intake and exhaust ports and a crankshaft with eight counterweights for smooth power delivery. Lift up the bonnet and the clean engine bay has an identical appearance to the unit found in the E30 M3 with the ‘BMW M Power’ inscription on its cam cover. A five speed manual close-ratio Getrag transmission with a dogleg shift pattern is a delight to use and again identical to a regular E30 M3.


      WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES
      15-inch cross-spoke and bolted polished chrome wheels have a mirror shine but tiny blemishes can be seen. All shod in quality tyres. The 260mm vented disc brakes in the front 260mm solid disc brakes in the rear keep the cars performance safely under control.


      HISTORY FILE
      Manufactured in May 1990, (the final year of all E30 M3 production), this car was registered on the 21 June 1990 to the first of its two Italian owners. Kept within the Italian BMW Main Dealer Network with a full complement of service stamps up until 34,725 miles when it was imported in 2004 by a reputable company. Sold to the only UK owner, Mr Jefferies, the vehicle has now covered just 45,141 miles and has been maintained annually under his careful ownership.

      Presented with all handbooks including; Stamped Libretto Di Servizo, (Service Book), Uso E Manutenzione, (Owners Manual), BMW Italia Identity Card and BMW Service Dealer Network Booklet.

      A Thatcham Category 1 Alarm and Immobiliser has been installed and two original keys are included.

      The vehicle is HPi clear, recently serviced with 5 green lights on the service interval indicator and has 12 months MOT.

      A unique opportunity for the discerning BMW Motorsport enthusiast wanting an original, unmodified low mileage example for the exclusive collection.
        More ...
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  •   Rob Scorah reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    JPS E30 M3
    The story behind this fully restored motor racing icon. A Very Special Player One of Australia’s most famous BMW race cars, the JPS E30 M3, under the spotlight. Banged up, shipped across the Tasman Sea twice and, until two years ago, a bit worse for wear, this JPS stunner is now back to its former glory Words and photography: Chris Nicholls.

    BMW race cars have been lucky enough to wear some of the iconic competition liveries over the years. Whether it’s the various Art Cars, the Jägermeister colours, the Warsteiner and Fina liveries or just the M stripes by themselves, Bavaria’s best racers have always looked the business. However, while we in the northern hemisphere have been spoilt for choice with these beauties, we have missed out on one truly iconic racing design that only ever competed on BMWs down under – the JPS livery.

    Obviously most famous for its stint on Lotus F1 machines, the JPS colours have been applied to many other cars over the years, but F1 Lotuses aside, only the Australian JPS E21 320i Turbos, 635CSis and E30 M3s, which ran from 1981-’1987, used the livery officially in any four-wheeled racing capacity. And my, doesn’t it look good on this M3? The deep, jet black paint is perfectly offset by the gold pin striping that runs along the car’s flanks, accentuating those blistered arches, while the other sponsors’ logos and of course, the laurel wreath JPS crest itself all add to that golden lustre. Oh, and let’s not forget those sexy matching gold Australian Simmons centre-lock wheels, either.

    This particular example is an ex-factory Team JPS BMW car from 1987 – the last year the Frank Gardner-run team that built the machine existed – and was relatively recently restored to nearimmaculate condition (hence the shine) by the current owner Peter Jones and the team at Ecurie Bowden, whose M1 and Schnitzer 635CSi we’ve featured in past months as well. We say nearimmaculate as Peter has deliberately kept some of the patina via a faded and chipped bonnet roundel and cracked right-rear light lens, as well as damage to the driver’s footwell; the result of a nasty shunt at the 1989 Bathurst 1000 when it was racing as part of the John Sax Racing Team from New Zealand. Other than that, though, the car is as straight and clean as you could possibly want, and walking around the car to shoot it, it was impossible not to be blown away by the paint’s lustre (even inside the car) and the sense of mechanical solidity. BMW master mechanic Jason Matthews and paint and panel man Phil Milburn, as well as all the other Ecurie Bowden crew members, should be rightly proud of their work.

    Of course, such a high-level restoration doesn’t take place overnight, and from the time Peter purchased the car in 2014 until it was ‘finished’, a full 15 months had passed, and even now, he’s is still tweaking and fettling the car – particularly the rebuilt engine – as it doesn’t quite achieve what he wants on track yet. However, that’s all part of racing, irrespective of the car and its level of restoration, and even in its current state, the project has definitely been worth it. So what prompted Peter to buy this car in the first place? Well, it turns out this isn’t his first Group A M3, having owned a Benson & Hedges racer back in the mid-’90s that he purchased from Frank Gardner himself (Gardner was a long-time family friend), and it was his love for that machine, and the hole in his heart it left when he sold it, that prompted him to seek out a replacement.

    “I’ve been involved in motorsport since the ‘80s. The highest level I ever did was the CAMS Gold Star [Australia’s top open-wheeler class]. I raced that in Formula 2, only as a bit of an also-ran, and I’ve also raced Formula Fords and Sports Sedans and Historic cars over the years. From about 1997 to 2012 I basically had a bit of a hiatus due to family and the demands of business and then got back into it in 2012, running around in a Formula Ford. I still enjoyed it and have always missed the E30 M3 that I owned and spoke to [Ecurie Bowden boss] Chris Bowden about it and kept him on the look-out for me.”

    And look-out Chris did, but in the end, it actually turned out that another contact, BMW and JPS nut Stewart Garmey (whose E28 M5 we featured in October 2014), knew the right people and gave Peter a nudge in the direction of this car’s previous owner, David Towe.

    “Stuart warned me that I’d either love it or hate it, but that it’s a great car,” says Peter. “When I looked at it, I realised it had suffered in its life, but you can’t replace history, and that’s what it has.” Indeed, it has a lot of history, and not just of the type that causes battle scars. Built in 1987, it was one of the first two Group A E30s Team JPS BMW brought over from Europe after phasing out its 635CSis (one of which you’ll also see in a future issue). Initially, both cars actually ran 325i suspension, such was the European demand for parts, but by midway through the season, each car got the legs it deserved. And despite being designed for flowing European circuits and down on power compared to some rivals, the E30’s innate talents, and those of drivers Jim Richards and Tony Longhurst, meant the team quickly got results. This ex-Longhurst car, for example, managed a best of third at round three of the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) even before it got proper M3 suspension, but for some reason it got sold before the end of the year and could prove its worth with proper footwork. If you want to see what the potential was, though, just look at Jim Richards taking his M3 to the ATCC title in the car’s first year.

    When this particular machine was offloaded, it got sent to the aforementioned John Sax Racing Team, with Sax and fellow Kiwi Graham Lorimer behind the wheel until midway through the 1990 season. They took it to a best of eighth at the ’87 Castrol 500 at Sandown, as well as a 10th at the Wellington round of the inaugural World Touring Car Championship that year, but sadly, the car’s biggest headlines came when it speared off at Forest Elbow at the ’89 Bathurst 1000, stoving in much of the front-right side. The team did repair the damage (albeit not to a high standard, as we’ll see later) and it soldiered on until Kiwi Racing purchased it midway through the 1990 season. Having not had much luck with the car bar a second in class at the ’91 Nissan Mobil 500 at Pukekohe, Kiwi racing then sold the E30 to Auckland Ferrari specialist Allan Cattle in late ’93, who proved any issues may not have been with the beast itself by promptly winning his class, along with co-driver Brett Taylor, at the Wellington Nissan Mobil 500 and taking second in class at a shorter 300km race at Pukekohe.

    Finally, this now well-travelled M3 went to another two Kiwi owners, Trevor Bills and Kevin Underwood, before heading back home to Australia and new owner James Searley in 1999. There it sat in James’ collection for four years until noted Sydney BMW nut David Towe got hold of it and immediately started racing the car again, first at the 2003 Winton Historic meeting, then at numerous classic and historic events around the country. Notably, David converted the car back to its JPS livery (because why wouldn’t you?) and even managed to take away the Murray Carter Cup at the 2009 Phillip Island Classic in it. Indeed, such was the love affair that he only gave it up to switch to a later-built 1987 JPS M3 in 2011.

    However, not able to part with it entirely, David held onto the machine until 2014, when current owner Peter Jones came into the picture.

    Now, as we hinted at, the car wasn’t perfect when Peter got it. The John Sax team had repaired the Bathurst damage, but removing the right-hand quarter panel showed the chassis rail underneath was still further back than the left, so stretching and rebuilding was needed. And while David had done his best at the time, there were also cracks in the rear arms and the front callipers (among other parts) were way past their use-by date. Knowing personally that Frank Gardner wouldn’t have accepted anything other than perfection were he still alive, Peter thus decided to go for a bare-metal resto to bring it back to its best. And thanks to the talents of the Ecurie Bowden crew, it’s now as gorgeous as you can imagine.

    “It’s just magic when you walk around it and underneath it. The job’s been done very well,” says Peter. “All the chassis’s perfect now and when we put it on the scales, we measured where it should be, dropped it down and it just plumbed up beautifully on the corner weights.” And as you’d expect, even with the fettling still needed, it goes pretty well, too.

    “It’s a very lovely car to drive – a very fast car… It’s a heavier car by 20kg [than the Evos], but the earlier cars, because they run the 17-inch wheels not the 18s, can drop the nose a little bit lower, so what they lose in some respects they pick up in others. And I think it sits well on the road. The 2.3 motor’s still a powerful little engine, and whilst a good 2.5 should beat a 2.3 every day, you’re not going to be that far behind.”

    Once the car’s engine has been brought back to its full Group A peak, it should be even quicker, too. And yes, in case you were wondering, all this testing means that despite the superb condition it’s in now, this JPS beauty will see the race track as often as possible in the future, with Peter planning to enjoy it at every historic meet in Australia he can get to. Of course, he doesn’t relish the idea of getting it banged up again, but says that “once I get one stone chip on it, it won’t hurt so much”.

    “Because it’s not the original paint on the car from day one, you’re not disturbing or risking something that hasn’t already been repainted or repaired, unlike the Sierra I’ve got [a Group A RS500] which is the original paint that Rudy Eggenberger used and it’s never had a mark on it. That’s a car you don’t want to put in harm’s way. Whereas, I don’t want to hurt this car either, but if in two years I have to give it a bit of a respray to make it pretty again, we’re not ruining history in doing that.”

    In a world of collectors that never use their cars as intended, that’s refreshing to hear. Long may this black beauty continue to run.

    TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-Group-A-JPS / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #Group-A-JPS / #BMW-M3-E30 / #Group-A-JPS / #BMW-M3-Group-A-JPS / #BMW-M3-Group-A-JPS-E30 / #BMW-M3-JPS-E30 / #BMW-S14 / #S14 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW /

    ENGINE: 2332cc DOHC S14 in-line four, cast iron block, 16-valve alloy head, 12:1 compression ratio, forged crankshaft and con rods, forged alloy pistons, #Bosch electronic fuel injection, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, 40-litre #ATL fuel cell with in-tank swirl-pot, 300hp @ 8400rpm, 199lb ft @ 7000rpm

    GEARBOX: #Getrag five-speed manual gearbox, sintered metal clutch, LSD with 75 percent locking ratio

    CHASSIS: Unitary steel with welded-in roll-cage, 52mm #JLS-Motorsport air jacks (front), 62mm AP Racing air jacks (rear)

    SUSPENSION: McPherson struts with original Group A #Bilstein dampers (overhauled and re-valved by MCA Suspension), MCA custom main springs, #Eibach helper springs, anti-roll bars (front), semi-trailing arms with original Group A Bilstein dampers (overhauled and re-valved by MCA Suspension), MCA custom main springs, Eibach helper springs, anti-roll bars (rear)

    BRAKES: AP Racing four-piston callipers with #AP-Racing 330x32mm two-piece slotted rotors and #Ferodo DS3000 pads (front), Lockheed four-piston callipers with AP Racing 300x20mm two-piece slotted rotors and #Ferodo-DS3000 pads (rear)

    WHEELS AND TYRES: 8x17-inch (front) and 9x17-inch (rear) #Simmons three-piece centre-lock mesh wheels with 225/625-17 (front) and 240/620-17 (rear) Pirelli or Michelin slicks

    INTERIOR: Custom-embroidered #Racetech-RT9009HR seat with orange Racetech HANS-compatible belts

    Despite the superb condition it’s in now, this #JPS beauty will see the race track as often as possible in the future.
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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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  •   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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  •   Rob Scorah reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    SIZE MATTERS

    A period-styled early-’90s E30 is a very desirable thing these days. So what happens if you exaggerate all of the details just a little bit? Ernie Hofstetter is the man to ask… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Anna Taylor.

    / #BMW-E30-M50-swapped / #BMW-E30-Cab / #M50-swapped

    Exaggeration, despite what your teachers at school told you, is nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed, it can be helpful in getting ahead in life to artfully embellish and subtly big up the finer points of your character and achievements, to massage the salient facts into something more colourful. Doesn’t hurt anybody, does it?

    Ernie Hofstetter is a man who appreciates the nuances of this sort of behaviour. We’re not saying he’s a show off, of course – not by any means. But he’s reached the stage in his life when he’s seen a few automotive scenes come and go, ebb and flow, and he’s been taking notes all the way through. And here, with this E30, we find his meisterwerk; the physical manifestation of his years of careful observation, made real in glorious style. He’s taken the archetypal retro #BMW convertible, made it look sort of like a spec’d-up period example, but cunningly exaggerated the details. Thanks to this carefully thoughtthrough approach, the car’s almost like a cartoon – it looks like it would have done rolling through his hometown of Howell, New Jersey back in 1991, but something’s different… it’s lower, broader, meaner, more aggressive. Those subtle small details have added up to a mighty whole.

    “Back when I was 18, I thought these E30s were the coolest thing,” Ernie remembers. “When the time came around decades later that I wanted a fun car, that model immediately came to mind. Throughout the years my cars have always been modified – one of my favourites was my 2006 Lincoln Mark LT pick-up truck – but this a bit different. I’ve always been interested in BMWs, it’s a quality European driving machine, so it was the clear choice this time.”

    Ernie happily admits that he didn’t have a distinct plan for the car when he first got hold of it, and was willing to let inspiration be his guide. The cabriolet was found for sale in Philadelphia, and was in reasonable condition – not amazing and certainly not up to Ernie’s high standard but, of course, it was never the intention to buy someone else’s project. He wanted to create something unique of his very own: “Let the modding begin,” he mischievously grins.

    The first area that was primed for exaggeration was the big oily bit under the bonnet. While M20 motors have their merits, Ernie wanted to go harder, better, faster, stronger, and the way to achieve this was to swap the thing out for the rather mightier choice of the M50. Specifically, an #M50B25 : the 2.5-litre #straight-six that you’d normally find powering an E36 325i. “The M20 was boring and ugly,” he says, somewhat mercilessly, “and the M50 is much cleaner and sleeker. Any non-essential parts were removed from the engine bay, along with any unnecessary brackets and so on, to make it all look as clean as possible; the battery was relocated to the boot to help with this too. I uprated the cooling system with a Mishimoto radiator and a Spal fan, and the exhaust system consists of ceramic-coated exhaust manifolds with heat wrap, a Borla mid-section and a Vibrant muffler – all custom, of course!

    The car also started off as an automatic, but we couldn’t have that so it’s been swapped to a manual Getrag 260 five-speed transmission, with a Z3 shifter and aluminium shift carrier.”

    A pretty comprehensive transformation, you’ll surely agree, but Ernie was just getting started. Having substantially beefed up the muscularity of the old drop-top, neatly morphing it from cruiser to bruiser, it was time to address the question of altitude.

    Now, Ernie’s seen a thing or two, as we said, so he’s observed the stance scene evolving from grass roots to comparative mainstream. However, while air-ride has been around since World War II, its presence at the forefront of custom car culture is a relatively recent thing; back when our man was a teenager, the way to get your ride hopping was to slam in some hydros. So is that what Ernie’s opted for here? Not quite… you see, that exaggeration factor has come into play again. “I’ve always had the need to go lower,” he explains (note that he uses the word ‘need’ – that’ll no doubt be familiar to a number of you. This isn’t just playing, it’s a lifestyle). “The only thing that could satisfy me with this project was air suspension. So now the car has a full Air Lift system, with 3P management, rolling sleeves up front and Slamit Industries bags in the rear with Bilstein shocks. I custom-painted the airtank in the trunk, which gives a good supply of air at all times!” Well, that’s good to hear.

    The next logical step was to put some thought into the wheels. No good slamming the thing over a set of weedy stock steels, right? So Ernie bolted on some 17” rims from iForged… but then he quickly changed his mind. The period style of the early Nineties was calling, and he found himself drawn toward the timeless charms of the BBS RS, knocking the diameter down an inch but beefing up the girth to amusing degrees: these things are 7.5” wide at the front, 8.5” out back, and the way it sits is so aggressively juicy that it almost makes your eyes water. Imagine an automotive cartoonist in the early 1990s sketching up a BBS-shod E30, slamming it to the ground with improbable lows – that’s the look Ernie’s achieved in real life. Once again, it’s a masterstroke of considered exaggeration. “Whatever happened to the car, I wanted it to be as clean as possible,” he assures us.

    “The small details count to me. So this car was a real labour of love! The bulk of it was actually built by Michael Hockman, who is a legend in the E30 community, and has now become a great friend of mine. But all the fine finishing work was done by me, with great pride, as well as some talented people: Levent from Guten Parts, Andrew from Open Road Tuning, Rich from County Line Auto Body, and of course my fantastic wife Michelle who has the patience of a saint!”

    What’s clear as Ernie talks us through the detail points of the car is that this sits somewhere on the mid-point of the scale between evolution and revolution; some of the changes he’s made are pretty extreme, and yet the whole ethos of the thing is to consider a period build and artistically amp it up for a 21st century audience. Take the treatment of the interior: “I wanted the insides to be as stock as possible, but I still wanted the modern amenities,” he says. “So that meant an AV audio receiver, iPod interface, reversing camera, satellite radio, navigation – all of the things that make it more comfortable.” And that’s exactly what we find in there, all subtly and tastefully integrated into the old-skool vibe. It certainly helps that work like this is his bread-and-butter, being a salesman of stereo and security systems for cars as well as all manner of bolt-on performance gizmos, and this E30 ’vert is a solid manifestation of his skills as well as his aspirations.

    “It took a good six months to get the car to a quality I was happy with,” Ernie explains. “But there’s always fine-tuning going on – they’re never really finished, are they?” Well, no, he’s hit the nail on the head there. We always find new things to fiddle with. And when you’ve been observing the scene for as long as Ernie has, your mind can’t help but be constantly swimming with fresh ideas and new things to try. So this E30 is bound to change in the near future – possibly unrecognisably – but in this cheery little snapshot of the here-and-now, it’s pretty much perfect. An early-Nineties style convertible, with all the details cleverly exaggerated to turn it into a thoroughly modern creation.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E30-M50 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i-E30-M50 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-325i-Cabriolet / #BMW-325i-Cabriolet-E30 / #Getrag / #Viair / #BMW-E30-Air-Lift

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M50B25TU / #M50 / #BMW-M50 / #M50B25 from E36 325i, #Mishimoto radiator, Spal 16” fan, battery relocated to boot, #Raceskids skid plate, 318i harness cover, ceramic-coated headers with heat wrap, custom Y-pipe, #Borla mid-pipe and #Vibrant rear box with 2.5” piping, shaved and wire-tucked bay, #Getrag-260 five-speed conversion, custom transmission brace, Z3 shifter, aluminium shift carrier, 3.73 LSD

    CHASSIS 7.5x16” (front) and 8.5x16” (rear) ET14 #BBS-RS / #BBS , 180 slant lip (front) and 247 slant lip (rear), with 195/45 (front) and 215/40 (rear) Yokohama S-Drive tyres, full #Air-Lift suspension system with front rolling sleeves and Slamit Industries rear bags, Autopilot 3P management, dual #Viair-444C compressors

    EXTERIOR Smoked projector headlights with integrated indicators, 6k low- and 3k high-beam HID lights, Euro grilles, rear impact strip fitted to front bumper, smoked tails and corner lights, front and rear valances with Ryan G splitter

    INTERIOR #M-Tech-II suede steering wheel, suede gaiters, chrome gauge rings with Alpina tach strip and painted needles, #ZHP illuminated gear knob, #BMW pedal set including foot rest, Alpine AV receiver with navigation and reversing camera, JL Audio speakers, subwoofer and amplifier

    Gorgeous 16” #BBS RSs boast impressive width and have serious dish going on.

    Air Lift 3P #Air-ride setup lets Ernie go as low as he wants to while custom boot build shows off both air components and upgraded audio elements, which include JL Audio speakers, subwoofer and amp.

    “The small details count to me. So this car was a real labour of love!”
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  •   Rob Scorah reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    PASSION WAGON #BMW-M3

    Griot’s Motors unleashes its V8-powered, two-door, #BMW-M3-bodied E30 #BMW-M3-Touring . Two-door, M3-bodied, #V8-powered E30 Touring.

    Astonishing in its vision, astounding in its execution, just plain awesome by its very existence, the Griot’s Motors two-door, #V8-swapped , #M3-bodied E30 #BMW-M3-Touring-E30 is quite unlike anything we’ve ever seen… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Kevin Uy.

    What’s amazing about the modified BMW scene is that, just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone comes along and produces something the likes of which you’ve never seen before. It’s no mean feat, and you’re looking at one such creation right now. It is a two-door, #M3-bodied-E30-Touring powered by a 4.0-litre M60 V8. This creation is the brainchild of the Griot’s (pronounced Gree-oh’s) Motors team, itself the skunkworks division of Griot’s Garage – a car care manufacturing company based over in Tacoma, Washington, USA. If you’ve never heard of Tacoma, look up Galloping Gertie, an infamous bridge that collapsed in 1940 due to strong winds. And if you’ve never heard the term skunkworks before, it’s basically a name given to an experimental department of a company.


    Griot’s Motors was started by Richard and Phillip Griot. “The garage buys, sells, restores and modifies a wide variety of classic cars,” says Nick Griot. “Our main restoration shop is actually part of the Griot’s Garage headquarters.” Skunkworks it may be but Griot’s Motors is an impressive operation in itself, with around 70 cars currently held in the company’s collection, which is constantly changing as cars are completed, sold on and new ones purchased. BMWs naturally make up a portion of this collection, with a number of modern and classic examples along with a couple of motorbikes. “BMWs have always been of interest to us as they represent a perfect blend of design and function which carries through to the people who buy them,” explains Nick.

    “BMW owners are passionate about racing, preserving, modifying and maintaining their cars – which is pretty much us in a nutshell. Griot’s Garage is also the exclusive Car Care Provider for the BMW Car Club of America so we are actively invested in the BMW community and do a lot with the club every year.”

    That’s all well and good but it doesn’t explain how this insane E30 Touring came about. “At Griot’s Motors we basically focus on modernising cars without losing any of their vintage attributes,” explains Nick. “And we are constantly looking for unique, hard-to- find cars. This was a car we wanted to own just because we finally could. E30 Tourings were never imported to the States and, generally, a car must be over 25-yearsold to be able to be imported and registered. We found this car for sale in Florida and it had made its way there from Germany via Japan. It was in good original condition, and very complete, so we bought it thinking it would remain relatively stock and would be enjoyed as it was. However, once we got the car and saw the wear and tear and significant paint degradation we knew it was in need of restoration, which is where we went a little mad and cooked up a crazy vision for the car – one that had never been done before.”


    The blame for everything that you see here can really be placed on Richard’s shoulders, as Nick explains: “After sitting in the car he stated that visibility was not up to his standards and he wondered aloud about the potential of longer doors from an E30 Coupé to improve visibility. That started the discussion of the two-door conversion, which led us all the way to M3 body work, an engine swap, and custom fabrication.”

    The bodywork didn’t come first, though, that honour goes to the engine, but it’s too big a deal for us not to get excited about it. The sheer amount of extensive custom fab work that’s gone into making the dream a reality is mind-boggling. With the seed sown, the Griot’s Motors team started exploring the idea of the two-door conversion and, after taking some measurements from their pair of E30 M3s, they realised that the M3 bodywork would work very well. With what might seem like an insane idea now looking eminently achievable the car was delivered to J-Rod & Custom who began the Herculean task of turning four doors into two and making it all look like a factory job.

    The B-pillar had to be moved back nine inches in order to be able to accept the longer doors. A completely custom frame had to be built into the space vacated by the rear doors. And new inner wheel wells were created to accommodate the wider M3 rear arches (the quarter panels having been sourced from Germany). The rear light housings had to be modified to fit the standard light clusters, new window trim was also created and the glass from the rear saloon doors was used between the B- and C-pillar. The front arches fitted straight on and all the remaining body parts are OE #BMW items with bumpers and side skirts acquired from local BMW enthusiasts. The finishing touch involved six coats of PPG Deltron Griot’s Red. The end result is nothing short of spectacular. Nick says the goal was to create a car that looked like a factory product, and that’s been achieved and then some. The bodywork is perfect, the paint finish flawless, and the combination of Touring body, two-door configuration, and M3 arches is breathtaking. No doubt there are plenty of Touring enthusiasts out there choking with rage right now but you’d have to be a fool to look at this E30 and think it doesn’t look anything less than perfect.

    As we briefly touched upon earlier, the engine was actually the first step in the build process and, when it came to the V8 swap, the Griot’s team worked to the same exacting, obsessive standards to ensure that, bonnet up, the engine bay would leave onlookers as floored as the rest of the car. Before all this madness began there was a 2.5-litre M20 under the bonnet but that simply wouldn’t do for a car of this calibre, which is why an engine swap was a necessity. The engine in question is from a #1995 E34 540i, purchased in its entirety to provide the E30 Touring with not only that lusty 4.0-litre #V8 but also a six-speed manual gearbox and engine wiring harness, making for an easy engine exchange, with the V8 sitting on custom mounts along with a fabricated transmission saddle and tunnel reinforcement to support it. But the engine swap itself isn’t the only impressive part, it’s the work that’s gone on around it, the attention to detail, that impresses the most. Prior to the insertion of the V8, the engine bay was shaved and smoothed to remove any and all holes and brackets. “The plan,” says Nick, “was to have an extremely simple engine bay that showed off the most beautiful aspects of the engine without the clutter of wiring and engine accessories.”


    The brake booster, he says, was removed and has been replaced with a full pedal assembly inside the car and then reservoirs were fabricated in-house for coolant, brake/clutch, and power steering fluids.

    These were then machined with threads that corresponded with the factory reservoir caps, giving the custom parts a factory appearance. As a result of this painstaking attention to detail the engine bay is nothing short of a work of art. It’s clean enough to eat your dinner off and it ensures that all eyes are immediately drawn to that V8, itself embellished with red painted rocker covers and a classic BMW roundel on the engine cover. A custom cold air feed, utilising a large velocity stack located in the passenger side high beam hole and an in-line filter, supplies the big V8 with all the air it can ingest. Elsewhere the Griot’s team has fitted V8 X5 exhaust manifolds with a custom T304 stainless steel exhaust system, while a custom driveshaft and 2.93 LSD-equipped rear end have also been fitted.

    Killer one-off styling and a sweet engine swap are all well and good but it’s only a job half done where a major project like this is concerned. Now came the turn of the chassis to be comprehensively overhauled. Step one involved removing the front and rear subframes and completely refreshing them, with both being reinforced in key areas before being powdercoated satin black. The E30 received polybushes throughout and camber adjustment was added to the rear trailing arms. “The front strut assemblies were sent to Ground Control and the guys there worked their magic, shortening and reinforcing the strut housings so we could get the car as low as we wanted,” explains Nick. “They also provided us with the Koni shocks, front camber plates, spring perches, and new springs that would accommodate the increase in weight from the V8.”

    With the Ground Control coilover setup endowing the E30 with pretty much the perfect ride height, all that was needed now was the perfect set of wheels to adequately fill those swollen arches. You’ve no doubt been staring at the pictures for a while now so you’ve probably identified what the Griot’s Motors team decided to fit: HREs. Is it wrong to get excited about HREs? Like, really, really excited? They just look so good here. Choosing a flat-faced wheel rather than the default dished design is a bit of a ‘woah’ moment but, despite being a thoroughly modern wheel, the classic crossspoke design brings to mind the BBSs that the E30 M3 originally wore so well. And that’s exactly why these 501Ms were selected for this build. They allowed the Griot’s team to keep that factory look while giving them the modern size and width options they wanted for an aggressive stance. And while deciding on the final colour took some time, the brushed gold that was chosen is not only gorgeous but a perfect match for that bright red body.

    Right now, you’re probably reeling because, let’s be honest, there’s a hell of a lot to take in here, but Griot’s isn’t finished with you just yet because now we come to the interior. And, well, it’s a bit special. Up front, the M3 theme has been carried over from the outside with reproduction tricolour M Tech cloth applied to the doorcards and front seats, a retrimmed M Tech I steering wheel with tricolour stitching, and an M gear knob.

    In the back, however, well that’s where everything goes crazy. The rear passenger and luggage area has been transformed into a mobile product display and valeting station: this is a car that can wash itself.

    Well, not literally, but you know what we mean. The rear seats have been replaced with a custom aluminium water tank and hose while the entire boot has been fitted with a custom enclosure that allows the entire range of Griot’s Garage detailing products and polishers to be displayed. The whole affair has been beautifully finished and looks magnificent. It’s a very different boot build to the ones we’re used to seeing but no less impressive.

    The Griot’s Motors E30 Touring is the vehicular embodiment of what Griot’s Garage and its skunkworks outfit stand for. It’s an incredible creation, one that’s come about from the vision and imagination of a small group of guys and one that could only have been created by people with nothing less than absolute passion for cars and for modifying them – because what kind of person decides to build a two-door Touring?

    So much care and attention has been poured into not just making sure that the end result looks absolutely perfect, which it does, but also making sure that everything has been built to the highest possible standard and finished to absolute perfection. The goal was to make a car that looked like it could have rolled out of BMW’s own factory, and this car is that and so much more. And beyond showcasing what Griot’s Motors is capable of creating, the on-board valeting station showcases what Griot’s Garage is all about. This really might be the cleanest car we’ve ever shot. Best of all, this Touring isn’t about to be tucked away or sold, it’s going to be hitting the 2017 shows across the USA. And after that it’s going into rotation for regular driving whenever anyone wants to because, after all, that’s what it was built for. And that makes us very happy indeed.

    “We went a little mad and cooked up a crazy vision for the car – one that had never been done before”

    DATA FILE #Griotʼs-Motors two-door #BMW-E30 / #BMW-V8 / #BMW-Touring / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E30 / #BMW / #Griot's-Garage / #BMW-E30-Griotʼs-Motors / #BMW-Touring-2-door / #BMW-E30-M60 / #BMW-E30-V8 / #Getrag / #HRE /


    FILE ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #BMW-E30-M60B40 / #M60B40 / #BMW-M60 / #M60 , custom engine mounts, rocker covers painted red, engine bay shaved and smoothed, custom coolant and power steering reservoirs, tucked wiring harness, custom cold air feed from full beam headlight hole, X5 exhaust manifolds, custom #T304 stainless steel dual 2.5” exhaust, #Getrag six-speed manual gearbox, fabricated transmission saddle, tunnel reinforcement, custom propshaft, 2.93 LSD rear end

    CHASSIS 8x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) #HRE-501M wheels in brushed gold with 215/40 (front) and 235/40 (rear) Falken Azenis RT615K tyres, reinforced subframes, fully polybushed, rear trailing arm camber adjustment, shortened and reinforced front strut housings, fully-adjustable #Ground-Control coilovers with adjustable #Koni struts, camber plates

    EXTERIOR Full OEM steel E30 M3 body panels including front and rear quarter panels, E30 coupé doors, side skirts, M3 bumpers (front and rear), full respray in #PPG-Deltron Griot’s Red

    INTERIOR Seats and door panels retrimmed in reproduction M Tech cloth, retrimmed M Tech I steering wheel, six-speed M gear lever, new OE carpet, rear seats removed, custom aluminium water tank and hose, water jet-cut product display area in boot

    THANKS Thank you to our sponsors, HRE Wheels, Brembo Brakes and Ground Control Systems. Thank you to J-Rod & Custom, McFarland Upholstery, Kassel Performance, Falken Tire and the hard work of Forrest Davis and Tim Willard of Griot’s Motors – without them, this project would have never been completed

    “The plan was to have an engine bay that showed off the most beautiful aspects of the engine”

    Shaved and smoothed bay ensures that all eyes are on that V8 when the bonnet’s up.
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  •   Louise Woodhams reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    MASTERCHEF
    Simple on the outside, exciting on the inside, this sexy Aegean blue E30 has been treated to a 3.2 S50-swap.

    SLICK S50 E30

    Awesome 3.2-litre two-door. With some seriously tasty mods and an S50 under its carbon bonnet, owner Nicholas Arnold has rustled up one cooking E30. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Woods.

    Could the E30 be the most engine-swapped #BMW of all time? Judging by the number of feature cars we run that have been fitted with something other than their standard engine, it’s got to be up there. While V8s are a great and popular choice, sometimes you’re just not in the mood and fancy something more traditional where the 3 Series is concerned, like a howling, high-output straight-six, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here.

    Chef Nicholas Arnold is its custodian and the man behind the swap. He’s no stranger to modified cars and BMWs, having worked his way up from a Vauxhall Nova 1.2 through to a selection of Hondas, including an EG Civic that he performed a full DC2 conversion on, and on to a number of BMWs, starting with an E34 525i (as it was cheap and RWD), and including a previous E30, which met an untimely end… “I wrote it off on black ice and I just felt I had to own another one. I found this car on eBay, located in Scotland – it was in good condition and had just had a respray,” says Nicholas. There was also the small matter of it already being endowed with an M52 under the bonnet. “It had a straight-through exhaust, was on cheap Jom coilovers and had an open diff. I changed the inlet manifold and ECU before making bigger plans,” he says – those plans being the swapping in of a more potent powerplant.


    “I put a S50B32 in it as the M52 wasn’t fast enough,” explains Nicholas. “I bought new AKG engine mounts, custom wiring loom, aluminium triple core radiator, Ramair air filter, got a custom-built manifold, ACL race bearings, ARP con rod bolts, M3 3.0-litre oil pump with an E34 baffle sump and a Simons race silencer with a full stainless steel system. It took me six months to put together all the parts for the build and a week’s-worth of work to put it all together. The only problems I had was the servo had to be moved across by 45mm and I had to have a brake linkage bar made up.”

    They say that the waiting is the hardest part and we have no doubt that was definitely the case here as six months to go from capable M52 to 321hp of ferocious #S50B32 goodness must have felt like an age. Let’s not beat about the bush here – the E36 M3 Evo is not a slow car, so just having that rev-hungry lump in the lightweight surroundings of an E30 would result in an absolute rocket ship. But that’s not all, the transmission has also been beefed-up to suit and there’s a five-speed Getrag ’box mated to an E34 M5 Sachs clutch with a 4.5kg billet steel flywheel, E36 propshaft and an E36 2.8 LSD in an E30 medium diff case.

    With some serious power on tap, Nicholas turned his attention to the chassis as it needed some upgrades to be able to cope with the massive increase in engine. “I went for a set of BC Racing coilovers as they’re mid-range and suitable for road and track, Purple Series polybushes with E30 M3 lollipop bushes, again suitable for both roadand track-use, fitted all-new drop links, H&R uprated anti-roll bars, Ultra Racing strut braces to stiffen the chassis and I also had the subframes powdercoated and the rear subframe reinforced due to the increase in power.” The car no doubt drives spectacularly and sits beautifully low. It just looks right, especially on its black 16” Rota Grid Vs, which tie in perfectly with the numerous black details across the bodywork, and make a change from the usual suspects when it comes to E30 wheel choice, as Nicholas explains: “I have the Rota Grid Vs as I like to be different. I also like the Jap, aggressive look rather than following the crowd and having Borbets or #BBS reps.” The wheels are wrapped in Toyo Proxes tyres and sit on a stud conversion, while Ferodo DS2500 pads and EBC discs sit behind the spokes.

    In terms of looks, the E30 really doesn’t need much help – subtle is often best to enhance the styling and that’s definitely been the approach here. The Aegean blue paintwork looks stunning, rich and deep, and the unpainted carbon bonnet is no less gorgeous. Other exterior additions include an eyebrow, crosshair headlights and all-red tinted rear lights. The interior, on the other hand, has received a bit more attention, as Nicholas tells us. “The car started off with a plain standard non-Sport interior but I’ve always had Sport seats in my previous E30s and knew how comfy they were so wanted another set in this car.”

    He spent months searching for a pair of Sport seats but, having drawn a blank, he changed tactic and bought a pair of OMP buckets instead. Of course, no sooner had he installed them in the E30 than a pair of chequered Sport seats appeared at a good price, so he snapped them up and got rid of the buckets. And, as luck would have it, a few weeks later a rear bench, complete with headrests, and in the same pattern, popped up so Nicholas jumped on it, so to speak, and in a very short space of time had put together a rather lovely Sport interior.


    In addition to that he’s fitted a suederimmed #OMP steering wheel with snap-off boss, AC #Schnitzer short-shift gear knob plus a rear blind-equipped parcel shelf. It’s smart, clean, period and suits the rest of the car, with a few subtle hints to suggest that there’s more going on here than meets the eye. We are well and truly in love with Nicholas’ E30, he’s really built himself an amazing machine. From the outside it looks so right – the colour is stunning, the carbon bonnet is spectacular and it really delivers the perfect blend of subtlety and aggression, with no single element feeling over the top or out of place, and that too can be said about the engine. It sits in the bay perfectly, looking so at home, and it’s turned this E30 into an absolute weapon.

    “The huge engine is my favourite mod on the E30,” smiles Nicholas, “because the car is very inconspicuous looking.” He’s going to keep it looking that way, too, when he carries on with the mods this year: “I plan to add some fatter tyres and beef up the brakes as I’m only currently running 2.5 brakes allaround with DS2500 pads and EBC discs which fade after a couple of minutes of hard driving, and supercharge it,” he says, which is really going to turn the heat up on this E30 and take it to the next level.

    Gorgeous Aegean blue on the outside, sexy Sport seats on the inside.

    The S50 fits perfectly in the E30 engine bay and took owner Nicholas a week of work to get it fitted and running.

    The engine is my favourite modification on the E30 because the car is inconspicuous looking Nicholas Arnold.

    DATA FILE #BMW-E30-S50 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #Rota-Grid

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S50B32 / #S50 / #BMW-S50 from E36 M3 Evo, #ACL race bearings, #ARP con rod bolts, #Ramair filter, Millers Nano Drive oil, custom manifold and steering linkage, Simons race silencer and full stainless system with single dolphin tip, custom plug and play wiring loom, #AKG engine mounts, M3 3.0-litre oil pump, E34 sump, sump baffle.

    TRANSMISSION Five-speed #Getrag gearbox, #Racing-Dynamics short shift kit, E34 M5 Sachs clutch with 4.5kg billet steel flywheel, E36 prop, E36 2.8 LSD in E30 medium diff case.

    CHASSIS 8x16” (front and rear) black #Rota-Grid-V wheels with 195/40 (front and rear) Toyo Proxes T1-R tyres, stud conversion, fully polybushed except Z3 diff bush, #H&R anti-roll bars, #BC-Racing coilovers, #Ultra-Racing strut braces, M3 eccentric lollipop bushes, reinforced rear subframe, E30 91mm brakes and hubs, #Ferodo-DS2500 pads, #EBC discs.

    EXTERIOR Respray in Aegean blue, Lite Tuned carbon fibre bonnet, crosshair headlights, eyebrows, red tinted rear lights.

    INTERIOR Chequered Sport cloth interior, OMP steering wheel with snap off boss, #AC-Schnitzer short-shift gear knob, rear blind parcel shelf.
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