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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 9 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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  •   Wilhelm Lutjeharms reacted to this post about 8 months ago
    Into hibernation for the winter

    CAR: 1989 BMW 320i Convertible
    OWNER: Glen Waddington

    / #1989-BMW-320i-Convertible / #1989 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B20 / #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-E30-M20 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet-M20 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet-E30

    I feel somewhat bereft this evening. My final autumn drive was to take the BMW to its winter storage location. My garage will soon be a building site, as part of it is converted into a home office. And RH Classics (rhclassics.co. uk), based near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, kindly offered the BMW a winter home at its expanding storage facility.

    I got very lucky with the weather. Not warm, but bright and crisp, so I gave the E30 a wash and buff-up, lowered the roof and headed out on the 40-mile drive. It’s at times like this that I’m glad the first owner shelled out for heated seats – and that I shelled out for a new blower motor a couple of years ago, when the original packed in. With the windows up you get the full daylight yet not too much buffeting, and the cabin stays cosy. There’s a fabulous road heading out from Market Harborough for the second half of the journey: this part of Leicestershire is relatively empty, very pretty and home to some seriously snaky tarmac. If you fancy seeking it out, it’s the B6047, and it’s especially enjoyable north of the A47, with bend after bend accompanied by matching changes in altitude as it rolls across and through the landscape.

    RH Classics offers several storage options, but all are in a secure, discreet and extremely dry location: the buildings once stored potatoes! Every car is valeted and inspected, and a condition report is agreed with the owner. Fluid levels are checked, the battery disconnected, and the car is fitted with a breathable cover. Optionally the car can be connected to a trickle charger and run up to temperature fortnightly, with a condition check each time, and you can pay extra for bubble-storage. Although I know my car is safe, it was still an emotional process, leaving in the knowledge that this will be the last time I drive it for some time.

    Thankfully, I have a busy season to look back on, with lots of family trips out (that’s what we bought the E30 for, nearly nine years ago now) plus plenty of excuses for a solo blast, not to mention the odd work thing. Most memorable of the latter was in September, the Octane Tour to the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court. We met for early-morning bacon sandwiches at Cliveden, in the Buckinghamshire countryside, then set off with a road book that took us via Marlow and Henley on Thames. The sun was out, but that early start provided the first hint that autumnal weather was imminent. Still, by the time we were queueing along the road in from Staines, the sun was at full strength and jacket and scarf were quickly discarded. Roofoff, naturally, a state of affairs that continued for the 100-mile trip home late that afternoon. Readers might remember that an altercation with the foglamp bracket on a 4x4’s bull-bar had left my tail-light lens cracked. This, at last, has been replaced. The new lens and fixings arrived from BMW Group Classic (bmwgroup-classic.com) and I was pleased to find that it was simply a case of disconnecting the bulb carrier and removing a few nuts with an 8mm spanner.

    Easing the lens away revealed perfectly preserved paint around the aperture – I’m so thankful that the lens took the impact, and not the metalwork. A quick clean, then the new one went straight in and was soon tightened into place. This is a genuine replacement from Munich and, of course, a perfect fit. Job done.

    Now, as I look up from my desk at the darkness outside, spring seems a long time away. I’ll pay RH Classics a visit at some point but, for now, the BMW is snuggled under a cover, resting. At least I’ve still got the Porsche 944 to hand.

    Left and below: BMW arrives at its hibernation lair, RH Classics; study in dark metallic blue with Mark Dixon’s Range Rover at Cliveden House; new tail-light lens about to be installed; some of the 320i’s winter companions.
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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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  •   Greg MacLeman reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Seems spring has arrived early

    CAR: 1989 BMW 320i Convertible
    OWNER: Glen Waddington
    PHOTOS: Robert Hefferon

    / #1989-BMW-320i-Convertible / #1989 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B20 / #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-E30-M20 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet-M20 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet-E30

    This Time last year we had snow. My 944 had just recently blown its rep by blowing out its own electrics, and the Beemer was tucked up safely in my garage. Where it spends too much time. But I don’t like taking it out on wintry roads, because it’s nearly 30 years old, factory-original and in damn fine fettle.

    As I write this on the last day in February, I’m looking out onto a sunlit garden, daffodils swaying gently in the breeze, birdsong drifting through an open window. Two record-breakingly warm days preceded this one. But tomorrow it’s back to normal. Whatever counts for normal in 2019.

    Anyway, I’ll stop wittering, because my point is that this is the first winter during my eight-year tenure of the BMW – today is its anniversary – during which it’s been driven with anything like regularity. I was even out giving it an early spring clean last weekend, ahead of driving it to Bicester Heritage for an editorial meeting with the #Drive-My team. And I drove home with the roof down. That has rarely happened this side of April. I’m generally an advocate of use rather than storage, although I admit that when the BMW crept past 50,000 miles last year, I fleetingly wondered if I should mothball it. Winter hibernation can cause the odd issue: I’ve lost count of the new batteries I’ve fitted (even if the last one was terminally discharged when I left the bootlid slightly ajar – can’t blame the car or the weather for that one), plus I’ve been through a master cylinder, a clutch slave cylinder, a heater blower motor and a seized brake caliper. All these failures occurred within the first post-hibernation drive.

    There have been no such problems this year, and I’ll count my sunburnt forehead as a freak of the highly unseasonable weather. We’ve had a lot of frosty nights, mind. Frosty enough to make the 944 a tardy starter one morning. Rather than drain the battery, I reached for the Energizer 400A jump-starter kit I got late last summer. It wasn’t cheap at around £100, but it’s about the size of a large smartphone and can be used to charge one of those so you can cycle its battery between boosts. Connection is easy – it’s great not having to lug something heavy around – and the 944 sprang instantly to life. Indispensible for any car that is parked up for just a touch too long.
    So I’m glad I’ve got it, ready for when we have snow in June…

    Above and below: BMW bowls along at Bicester; it was joined by editor Elliott’s Triumph not-2000 – and a McLaren 12C Spider.
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  •   Mark Williams reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Time for the autumn chill-out

    1989 BMW 320i Convertible Glen Waddington

    / #1989-BMW-320i-Convertible / #1989 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B20 / #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-E30-M20 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet-M20 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet-E30

    As I write this the sun is shining outside. It’s bloody cold, though. Autumn is setting in quickly and suddenly and it’s only just over a month since I spent a balmy late-summer evening with a whole bunch of BMW convertibles near Henley-on-Thames, as regular readers might remember. I had a fantastic time piloting such beauties as a BMW-328-Roadster , a #BMW-507 , a #BMW-Z1 and a #BMW-Z8 (see right), before sunset called a halt to proceedings.

    Thing is, I’d already had a fabulous drive down there in my own #BMW-Convertible . And no matter what the charms of those other cars were - only one of which I could even imagine owning, if you bear their market values in mind - mine more than held its own. In fact, it was rather enjoyable to have some of the other assembled journalists take a look over it; one or two of them even assumed it had been brought down as part of BMW’s own fleet!

    The journey was a hundred miles or so, much on trunk roads plus a spell on the M40. But the scenery turns bucolic in a major way on the stretch south from Stokenchurch, narrow lanes winding and plunging through dense woodland with the sun barely filtering through at times, thee leafy smell and the birdsong make a convertible a real treat to be in - quite a different effect from the more usual roof-down/howling exhaust scenario.

    A few hours later I had to think about my route home, those thread-like lanes could easily hide the occasional inebriated local, lurking in a 4x4 without thought to a delicate 1980s soft-top, so I headed out of Henley towards Nettlebed and Watlington and was treated to some fabulously sinuous B-roads, perfect for the innate balance and modest yet useful power of my 320i. Even the roundabouts on the A43 past Brackley did their bit to make this a properly life-affirming high-speed late-night trek. One I’ll remember during the winter evenings ahead.
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  •   Tiff Needell commented on this post about 2 years ago
    Renewing the vows

    OWNER: Glen Waddington

    CAR: #1989-BMW-320i-Convertible / #1989 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B20 / #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-E30-M20 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet-M20 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet-E30

    Sometimes I find it difficult to believe that the Beemer is 28 years old. The body’s in such fine (and still original) fettle, it’s such a vivacious drive, and it’s still got less than 50k on the clock. I love it to bits, but I use it sparingly.

    A little too sparingly over the last year, though. Life got in the way, in exactly the manner described by John Simister in his How to reconnect with your classic piece in #Drive-My . The 320i had languished over winter yet flew through its MoT in April, though when I wanted to press it into service for a rare romantic weekend away with Mrs W, a shudder through the steering the night before we headed off put paid to that. And I’d already been putting up with a non-functioning heater blower for 14 months or so. So I booked it in for a once-over with my mate Stuart Templeton.

    The night before it headed off to Templeton’s Garage (www. templetonsgarage.co.uk) I washed and buffed the bodywork: step 1 of the reconnection. And it came back a few days later, following a short service and with the maladies rectified (step 2).

    The shaky wheel? A seized brake caliper was the culprit, as Stuart had diagnosed on the phone. With that replaced (on exchange), plus a new blower motor, the Beemer was back to singing along. Just in time for the early-June heatwave.

    And so step 3 of the reconnection was suddenly there for the taking: get back out and enjoy the car, reminding myself what it was I always loved about it in the first place.

    This is our seventh summer together. I always said it’d be a keeper. And that remains true, especially now it’s running that little bit sweeter – amazing what fresh oil can do, even if it’s all in the mind. And yes, I’d swear it’s that little bit faster too.

    As a family, the four of us headed down to the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the Beemer, roof-down for the stretch across the Downs from Winchester. Reconnection complete.
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  •   Rob Scorah reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    / #M20-heads and #M20-headbolts / #BMW-325i-Touring / #BMW-325i-Touring-E30 / #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B25 / #M20 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E30 / #1988

    Back in 1995 I was working, not as a waitress in a cocktail bar, but as a salesman for a now defunct outfit called #SGT (Station Garage Taplow), a well-regarded multi-franchise garage with a distinct villagy feel – Alfa, Lotus, Morgan, Subaru and Mitsubishi – a fine mix. We also took the odd BMW in part exchange including an E28 M5 that, oddly, had to be road tested by everyone.

    One car we saw that caused some consternation was a 1988 BMW-325i-Touring that had been fitted with a new engine under warranty by BMW in 1993… when it was five years old? It turns out that a rare problem had occurred – the head of one of the 19mm cylinder head bolts had sheared off and a cam lobe had punched it clean though the waterway. BMW replaced the engine free of charge but I was reminded of this ten years ago when I bought an insanely cheap #1986 520i and found a bolt head resting in a corner of the head – talk about lucky!

    On this occasion, I bit the bullet and replaced every head bolt, one by one, with the 1989 onwards stretch bolts that #BMW had introduced. Do it in the same pattern you would use when torquing up head bolts after a gasket job and it will be fine. But there are still thousands of M20 units out there and I heard of another failed bolt recently. In other words, if you have an M20 remove the oil filler cap, check all the bolts and if you have 19mm hex headed ones – get them changed… sharpish.
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  •   Lester Dizon reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Classic Alpina Superb #BMW E30 C2 2.7 fully-restored by #Alpina-GB . Vitamin C A glorious E30 Alpina C2 2.7 fully restored by Alpina GB. Top dog in the non-M E30 line-up was the sublime Alpina C2 2.7 and this glorious example that has been painstakingly restored by Alpina GB must be one of the best in the world. Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.

    There’s something about the E30 that’s just so right – it’s one of the icons of BMW’s past and it seems almost impossible that it’s now nigh-on 23 years since the last examples rolled off the production line. No BMW fan worth their salt can argue against it being a turning point for the company – it moved the game on significantly from the E21 and became a virtual blueprint for what we expect of a modern era BMW. Back in the mid- to late-’80s it was the darling of the red-braced, Filofax-clutching, oversized mobile phone wielding yuppie, but even this didn’t seem to put folk off yearning to own one.

    No matter which version you’re talking about the E30 has an intrinsic quality that flows from its every pore; from the way the electric window switches operate to the silky smooth steering column stalks, it exudes a wonderfully engineered feel. Each and every one of the major controls, from the clutch to the brake pedal to the well-balanced throttle to the steering, all have that same engineered feel and operate as if they are perfectly lubricated. As an exercise in tactility the E30 is just about perfect.

    Over the years the E30 has also become the darling of the modified BMW enthusiast and just about every BMW engine you care to name, from the humble M50 through to the more exotic S50 to the outrageous S85 V10, has found its way under the car’s delicately sculpted bonnets with varying degrees of success. These days, though, the E30 is also being dragged by its rusty scuttle panel into the realm of the classic car world. And with good reason. It doesn’t matter which version you covet, two- or four-door, Convertible or Touring, they’re all sublime machines and have a strong following these days. Obviously the bonkers nature of the classic car bubble has made the motorsport icon that is the E30 M3 into an obscenely overpriced irrelevance for all but the very well-heeled or those who were lucky enough to hold onto them when they were just a secondhand 3 Series but there are still plenty of other E30s worth coveting.

    If you’ve not had a look at used values of E30s recently then you could be in for a bit of a shock when you go looking, as they’re definitely on an upward spiral with the larger-engined machinery now fetching pretty good money. While you’d have thought that the ultimate E30 is the M3, many actually prefer the way the six-cylinder cars drive, with their torquey six-cylinder engines providing a less frenetic experience than the all-or-nothing S14 in the M3 which doesn’t really do all that much below 4000rpm. Fine for when you’re chasing apices, but less relaxing when you’re simply cruising. And of the six-cylinder variants it’s the Alpina models that are perhaps the most coveted. After all, BMW made thousands and thousands of 325is but Alpina only made a few of its take on the ultimate E30.

    But which one of Alpina’s E30s was the best? Its model line-up ranged from the C1 2.3, through the C2 models to the larger-engine B6 2.8- and 3.5-litre examples, with the ultimate incarnation perhaps being the B6 3.5S based on the E30 M3 and packing 260hp of straight-six goodness. That latter car is ultrarare though – just 62 were built – and all were lefthand drive. A better bet would be one of the less extreme models – still desirable, made in small numbers, and perhaps most crucially, offering something a little extra in the way of performance than what was available at the time from BMW itself. While the Alpina 2.3- and 2.5-litre machines were pretty decent they didn’t offer a huge amount over the 323i or 325i so in the middle ground of the Alpina E30 range are the 2.7-litre machines, initially badged as C2s in both Germany and the UK before the German market machines took on the B3 moniker in the latter part of 1987.


    No matter which version of the C2 (or B3) 2.7 you talk about, all shared the same basic engine architecture using BMW’s small-block six-cylinder M20 engine as a base. The block used was the same as the 2.7-litre ‘eta’ engine used in the E28 525e which shared the 325i’s 84mm bore but had a longer stroke at 81mm, but the magic came from Alpina specific changes such as Mahle pistons and a reworked head, along with a tubular manifold and a reprogrammed Motronic system. These extensive revisions completely changed the character of the unit from the low-powered, torque-rich eta to a much higher-revving sporting unit. Power was up to 210hp at 5800rpm while torque was rated at 197lb ft at 4500rpm – gains of roughly 25 and 20 per cent respectively over a contemporary 325i. Alpina claimed a 0-62mph time of 6.9 seconds which looks to be just about spot on as Autocar tested the first UK example built and found its 0-60mph time to be 6.6 seconds.


    Interestingly the example tested by Autocar was actually the very first C2 2.7 produced, lovingly assembled by Alpina GB’s technicians from parts supplied by Alpina in Buchloe. Naturally enough the transformation to full C2 2.7-spec involved more than just an engine swap, with the new car receiving specially tuned springs, Bilstein dampers, a limited-slip differential and Alpina’s aerodynamic addenda. There were the trademark 20-spoke 16-inch alloys – initially seven inches wide all-round, but as on the example we have here today a staggered set was generally fitted with wider eight-inch rears. Inside there was an Alpina steering wheel and wooden gear knob and the production plaque but after that it was up to the individual customer to decide how far they wanted to go with their interior embellishments.

    So what about the stunning example you can see here? It’s one of the UK-built examples produced at Sytner Nottingham, home of Alpina GB, and was built when it was new by its top technician, Mark Adkin, who assembled the best part of 250 Alpinas during his tenure there between 1983-1989. This particular C2 must now be one of the best in the world as it’s been subject to a full restoration and is absolutely gorgeous. Having been brought up on this generation of machinery when I worked in the dealer network back in the late 1980s this C2 brings the memories flooding back and I’m almost expecting that new car smell when I unlock the driver’s door and slip into the cockpit. It’s not actually that far off – thanks to the recently trimmed leather cockpit – and twisting the key and hearing the straight-six erupting into life with its familiar burble keeps me firmly planted in the 1980s. But before we get onto how this remarkable example drives we should really have a quick look at its journey towards being one of the finest C2s on the planet.


    It’s probably fair to say the story started almost two years ago when Alpina GB recreated an E21 (the first generation 3 Series) C1 2.3 which attracted a huge amount of interest, not only from marque fans but from paying customers, too, with Alpina turning down some pretty substantial offers for the car. With the continued growth of the classic car market the folk at Alpina wondered whether there was actually a business case for buying older Alpinas in need of refurbishment, restoring them back to as-new condition and then selling them, and the C2 was the first of these projects. And the icing on the cake was that Alpina managed to secure the services of its former employee, Mark Adkin, who had originally built the cars when they were new. Who better to restore a 1980s UK-built Alpina that the man who had originally created the car?


    Since he left Alpina Mark has been involved in many automotive projects, from working for Porsche to restoring super-rare rally cars of the 1980s to building F3 engines, so he really was the ideal person to tackle the restoration. Once the car had been sourced Mark set about stripping it down in Alpina GB’s workshops and despite the reputation the E30 has garnered for being a little rust prone he was amazed at the overall condition of the shell, as he explains: “It was very good with virtually no rust – it just needed a little bit of welding around the front jacking points, which is a common place for E30s to rust. The rest of the car was absolutely fantastic. We did a full strip on it, everything came off – engine, gearbox, all the brake pipes, all the fuel pipes, fuel tank – everything was taken off it and I undersealed it all and put it back to what it should be. It was absolutely immaculate. I was rather surprised quite how good it was – one of the best ones I’ve seen.”

    Part of the reason for its excellent overall condition was its low mileage – it was still showing less than 70k miles when we tested it – and the fact that it had been dry stored since 1998. Quite often when taking on this sort of restoration one can find that parts availability is a problem but Mark was able to source everything he needed from BMW – including new brake pipes that he painstakingly bent and fitted (they come from BMW in straight lengths), but he was adamant about using OE parts as he reckoned that if you make them yourself they never look original or quite right. Just about the only part he was concerned about was the tubular exhaust manifold, as Mark explains: “I think the only thing we were worried about was the exhaust manifold as they’re like finding hen’s teeth new these days but this one was in reasonable condition so we sent it away to a company called Zircotec. I’ve used it several times in the past for coating and it does a brilliant job. The coating keeps 50 per cent more heat inside the manifold so you get less heat in the engine bay, too.”

    Mark was expecting to need to rebuild the engine, but when he took it out and inspected it he was amazed by its condition: “I had a look inside the engine when I got that out and it looked perfect. It was the same with the camshaft; the compressions on it were good and the cylinder leakage test on it was unbelievable. I think the worst was six per cent out, which is fine – especially when you consider you expect four to six per cent on a new engine!”


    Naturally enough Mark completely refreshed the suspension with new springs, Bilstein dampers and new bushes where required, the steering rack was checked and thoroughly cleaned, the propshaft was removed and sent for specialist examination and returned with a clean bill of health… by now you should be getting the picture that if it could be removed and checked it was! The brakes also came in for attention. “I took the callipers off, totally stripped them down, put them in a blaster, cleaned up the pistons, fitted new seals and they’re now absolutely like brand-new… basically it’s a brand-new car, or as good as you’re going to get!” Mark says with a grin. As I mentioned earlier the interior has also been given a refresh; air conditioning has been retrofitted and the leather has been redone, too. Mark explains how this happened back in the day: “The basic car that arrived with us was just a bog-standard, steelwheeled, standard suspension, plastic steering wheeled, cloth interiored 325i. If the customer wanted the Alpina interior we had a local guy who used to do the retrimming for us – he actually did the interior on this car even though he’s semi-retired now. He did it when it was new and has now done it again for us, which is a nice touch. Basically whatever the customer wanted we built it for them so virtually every one I built was slightly different.”

    Other nice touches in the interior are the dials which now sport red needles. Mark fills us in on the background of this: “The painted needles on the dials were an optional extra – the customer could basically choose to have them or not. From what I can remember when the very first M3 came out Frank [Sytner] saw it and said, ‘oh, they’re got red needles; why don’t we paint ours red?’ We put the Alpina lettering on all of the dials and then if the customer wanted the needles painting red then I’d do that as well, stripping the dashboard down. It took about a day to do that. The worst thing was that if you didn’t let the paint dry properly before building it back up the speedo used to stick on the bottom stop. You’d be driving down the road registering zero miles per hour until you got to about 40mph when all of a sudden it would jump up! You had to be absolutely certain it was completely dry before building it back up and if you put too much paint on again it would affect it, with the speedo reading too low so you had to be very precise when painting those needles!”


    From talking to Mark it’s clear that this C2 has had a significant amount of time, love and affection – not to mention money – thrown at it over a seven or eight month period and it didn’t take long for it to find a new owner. A customer who was actually looking at buying a new car popped into the showroom and virtually bought it on the spot! Kindly he’s returned it to allow us to have a drive in it and as I mosey out of Sytner’s Nottingham HQ I think I’m actually more nervous about damaging this machine then virtually any other new BMW or Alpina I’ve driven recently. In the event I really shouldn’t have worried as the car is so easy and enjoyable to drive. The clutch bite point is perfect, the throttle response is silky smooth and the brake pedal has plenty of feel and just the right amount of travel. And, of course, compared to a modern car the E30 feels absolutely tiny so you always feel like there’s plenty of space around it.

    Threading it through traffic out of Nottingham is a joy and as confidence grows you almost start wanting to dive into gaps left by slower moving traffic – it just feels so wieldy and taut in its responses. Fortunately it doesn’t take long to get out of the city centre and as soon as I’m on more flowing, less congested country roads the C2 really comes into its own.


    The whole car feels completely solid as if it’s been hewn from a single piece of steel and finely honed, and now I can use a few more revs and explore the performance it’s easy to see why the motoring press of the day generally raved about the C2. Rapid progress is easily made without breaking into a sweat – there’s plenty of torque from the enlarged M20 unit and the engine feels hugely flexible and unburstable. Floor it at 60mph in fifth and it accelerates rather briskly thanks to its excellent spread of torque. Drop it down a cog or two and it really flies, and bearing in mind that as this machine is someone else’s pride and joy I was by no means using all the revs either.

    It’s not all about the car’s straight line go though as the chassis feels wonderfully balanced and seems to have perfect poise. On some pretty undulating and bumpy straights the suspension absorbs everything you can throw at it, even when the speed picks up, and compared to today’s stiffly-sprung BMWs there’s real compliance here, leading to an excellent ride quality yet without feeling soggy or under-damped. Add some faster sweeping corners into the mix and it again feels perfectly planted with just the right combination of body roll and grip. And while the standard E30 rack does call for a fair amount of arm twirling in the tighter corners you’re never in any doubt as to what the front wheels are doing thanks to the feelsome mechanical rack.

    In short it feels wonderful. Yes, I’m sure you’d be travelling much faster and far more economically in a 120d but you’ll be having much more fun in the Alpina, and with a classic it’s not about the speed but the enjoyment. And there are few more joyous ways of spending a day than punting around the Nottinghamshire back roads in this C2 2.7 – it’s a testament to the car’s original design and the man that both built and rebuilt it. Find another and we’re pretty sure he’d do it all again…

    A new Alpina exhaust came with the car and sounds absolutely glorious; period decals look wonderful.

    “Basically it’s a brand-new car, or as good as you’re going to get!”

    TECH DATA #1988 #BMW-E30 / #Alpina-C2-2.7 / #Alpina-C2-2.7-E30 / #Alpina-C2-E30 / #Alpina-E30 / #BMW-Alpina-C2-2.7 / #BMW-Alpina-C2-2.7-E30 / #BMW-E30-Alpina / #BMW-Alpina / #Alpina / #Alpina-C2

    ENGINE: #M20 Six-cylinder, SOHC 12-valve / #BMW-M20 / #M20B27 / #M20-Alpina
    CAPACITY: 2693cc
    MAX POWER: 210hp @ 5800rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 213lb ft @ 4500rpm
    0-62MPH: 6.9 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 143mph
    ECONOMY: Approx 22mpg
    WEIGHT: 1300kg
    PRICE: £27,000 (1988)

    There’s plenty of torque from the enlarged M20 unit and the engine feels hugely flexible and unburstable.
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  •   Lester Dizon reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    E30 325i TOURING SWEET LIKE CHOCOLATE

    This gorgeous brown E30 Touring is good enough to eat. Fed up of seeing the same old shit? Aside from a ground-scrapingly low stance, unique wheels and paint job, Custom Cars’ latest demo vehicle proves that with a few special touches and not much money you can produce a feature car. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Simon Dodd.

    In my opinion, the reason why the VW scene is at the forefront of the modifying game and continually moving on to the next level, is ultimately down to two factors. Firstly, they’re not afraid to put their hands in their pockets, and when 19” Phaeton wheels and a twin-turbo W12 Bentley engine pushes the ceiling, they’re not reluctant to think outside the box either. Unfortunately, it’ll be a while until we fully hit it, but owner of this quite sublime E30 Touring, Dipesh Amin, is desperate to give the UK scene a new injection of life. No doubt most of you will already know the name, an influential member of the PBMW forum and the man behind styling specialist Custom Cars. His first creation, a turbo’d E30 M3 with 3.5 conversion, was featured in March 2005, and has since spurred a number of one-off force induced E30 Tourings, and more recently, Patrick Samuels’ E34 M5-engined E30 M3 Cabriolet.


    Built for £7000, this 325i is proof that you don’t need to remortgage your house to create a car worthy of being splashed on these very pages. Ultimately, the key ingredients to this ride are hard slammed suspension, unique wheels and an individual colour scheme, oh, and a few special styling touches to give it the edge. It’s clean as heck. Too clean perhaps, as Dips mentioned to me that on more than one occasion he has had to actually point out what he’s done to admiring onlookers, but there’s no denying that OEM+ along with a bit of imagination gets attention, even if you’re not sure what has been done.


    Unfortunately, and it’s a view that Dips very clearly shares with us, a lot of BMW owners suffer from blinkered vision. Rather than setting trends and being original, they prefer to stick with what’s safe, which frankly, is just boring. While the overall standard of Bavarian metal in the UK has been raised over the past few years, we’re still going to shows and finding row upon row of very similarly styled and tuned cars.

    Surely modifying is about pushing boundaries and making an individual statement, so okay you may borrow a few ideas here and there, but there really are no set rules or regulations, especially if you want to make a statement with your creation. And this car certainly does that!

    When you’re the owner of an independent workshop, customers’ cars take priority over your own, meaning this ’88 Touring sat unloved and untouched for three years, bought back when he first had the idea of building a retro car. Fortunately, the engine had been rebuilt by the previous owner, so all that remained was for Dips to freshen up the mechanicals; new wishbones, bushes, drop links and rod ends, among other things, were sourced and fitted. Being an automatic, internal engine upgrades or forced induction were never part of the agenda. Instead a Quikshift air filter was employed, which uses extremely fine stainless steel wire mesh to maximise air flow, along with a Powerflow exhaust system, and bringing that magical 150bhp to the party is a Dynotune nitrous oxide direct port kit. In some respects, it is considered the most complicated to install due to the required plumbing, but Dips tells me the benefits far outweigh the complexities. Not only are direct port systems nicer to look at, but because the injector nozzles are screwed into each runner of the intake manifold, you can jet per cylinder and control how much fuel and nitrous go into each for optimum power delivery (in this case up 1300bhp).

    Sadly the car wasn’t ready for the Ultimate #BMW show at Santa Pod, but they’re hoping to test it at the Flame and Thunder event later this month.

    Now it may look as though this car is on air-ride, but Dips’ Touring has been lowered the traditional way – on coilovers. The prototype three-way adjustable setup (height, damper and rebound) with remote reservoirs has been supplied by Automac and has enabled Dips to drop the front by a highly respectable 100mm and 80mm at the rear. Aiding the slam job is the original set of 16” BBS RM wheels, but to make them stand out they were sent to Germany for bigger dishes, once 6.5” in width they now measure 8” up front and 9” out back. And if that wasn’t enough, the rims were then steam cleaned, sprayed black and the face fully polished. Custom shallower centre caps were made and fitted and each bolt plated in 24-carat gold, although Dips got the shock of his life when he realised it would set him back £3 a bolt and with 32 on each corner, that amounts to quite a bit! The rims look superb however, especially against the sumptuous, rich and silky smooth brown bodywork, and the tyres are so low profile, they look like they have been painted on!

    While the motoring consumers’ preference for silver and black continues to grow, Dips decided to throw a spanner in the works with his custom Renault brown hue flecked with gold pigments. Once staple of the earth-tone ’70s, brown is now the colour synonymous with 21st century high-end luxury cars and, it seems, fitting for the beautifully proportioned E30 – now the epitome of retro cool. “If you’re going to spend 2k on a paint job, why not go for something completely different? We experimented for weeks with different shades from various manufacturers but it was worth it, this colour works so well with the rims and interior,” explained Dips.

    It’s not just the colour that aids this car visually, it’s the subtle approach Dips has taken with his careful choice of adding and deleting certain parts. One of the original reasons for buying this Touring was because of the electric glass sunroof, a rare factory option that modifiers in the States apparently pay up to £500 for, and the first we’ve ever come across. The M-Tech 2 kit already fitted was unfortunately in a bad way, so it was stripped down before being resprayed, at which time the handles and mirrors were colour-coded, the kidney grille de-chromed and smoked MHW rear lights and Hella fronts employed. This car is a real test for people who claim to know their E30s; the rear wiper, side repeaters and locks for example have been deleted, so has the notch in the petrol cap, and the bonnet and bootlid flushed. The front and rear arches have both been flared and the diffuser is custom-made from plumbers’ copper piping, a real testament to the handiwork of Dips. In a bid to continually evolve, he was even thinking of going for a bronze window tint, but with the factory tinge being slightly green it wouldn’t have worked. Being an E30 owner myself, it really made me think just what is possible with the right vision and mindset, the detailing is in abundance.


    Similarly, the interior left me feeling very ashamed of my own efforts. The roof lining was sagging, so it was retrimmed in black Alcantara along with the A, B and C pillars.

    The carpet was dyed the same colour, and to provide a contrast, the glove box, centre console, under dash tray, outer trim of the door cards, centre section of the steering wheel and even the nitrous activation switch were colonised and colour matched to the beige leather sports seats. These are perhaps the more noticeable changes, but did you spot the rear headrests that were fitted along with the 15lb nitrous bottle and unique rectangular shaped Vibe 6x9s in the boot, both sprayed to match the exterior?

    No, what about the auto shift, which Dips swapped for an E46 item and retrimmed the inner section of in brown Alcantara to match the steering wheel? Not exactly retro but a definite improvement over the old Tshape knob. In keeping with the two-tone theme, the face of the instrument cluster was smoked with additional LEDs fitted to help the dials stand out, and a black CD tuner was sourced, in this case the Sony CDX-CA900. And if you think all of that’s anal, you’ve got another thing coming.

    “No one ever modifies their rear view mirror so I thought why not use it to house the auxiliary gauges. Impractical as hell, but cool,” Dips explained. You’re telling us! Having paid £50 for an M-Tech 2 sports mirror in order to utilise the wire within the stalk for the map reading light, people thought he was mad when they heard he was going to cut it up, and then reduce the gauges to almost a quarter of their size in order to get them to fit!

    For Dips this car combines two of his most favourite aspects in a car – it looks good but you can also cane the shit out of it – it’s no cotton wool show car, that’s for sure! Having bought it for next to nothing, he’s turned what he literally describes as a shed into what is in our view, one of the best E30 Tourings to date. Perhaps more impressive is the strict budget he adhered to, and the fact it was built in his garage with the help of few friends in just three weeks, proof that almost anyone can create a car of the same level. Okay, so he’s been working with cars for the past 20 years, and he learnt mechanics working in main dealerships, but the bodywork side of things was self-taught. “E30s are limited as to what you can do with them but you have to work with what you’ve got. If you have the right ideas and the vision to see what the car will look like finished you can’t go wrong,” he explained to us. Our point exactly, and if you needed any further evidence, just look at what he’s done for customers to date. In Dips’ endless quest to keep modifying, pushing the scene forward and open up people’s eyes to just what’s possible, we’re glad to tell you there’s still a lot more to come from the Custom Cars stable.

    Direct-port nitrous oxide kit not for the faint-hearted. We’d sure like to see what it brings to the party at Santa Pod.

    Special thanks to RAC Auto Windscreens that kindly agreed to let us use its Feltham fitting centre for the shoot.

    Low enough for you? We love strict regime of colour-coding and deleting Dips has adhered to.

    “No one ever modifies their rear view mirror so I thought why not use it to house the auxiliary gauges. Impractical as hell, but cool.” You’re telling us!

    DATA FILE / #1988 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-325i-Touring-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-325i-Touring / #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i / #DynoTune / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E30 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 2.5-litre straight-six #M20 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B25 rebuilt with #M20-DynoTune direct-port nitrous oxide system jetted to 150bhp including braided fuel lines and nitrous lines, #Quikshift air filter and #Powerflow stainless steel straight-through exhaust system with twin 3” rolled pipes, four-speed EH auto switchable Sport gearbox

    CHASSIS: 8x15” (front) and 9x15” (rear) #BBS-RM / #BBS custom wheels with 24-carat gold plated bolts and custom centre caps shod in 195/45 Toyo tyres and 215/40 Dunlop tyres respectively, 15mm spacer on the rear, Automac prototype three-way adjustable coilovers (lowered 100mm up front and 80mm out back) with new wishbones, bushes, drop links and rod ends, #Brembo brake discs and #Pagid pads all round

    EXTERIOR: #M-Tech 2 body kit, custom rear diffuser, flared front and rear arches, flushed bonnet, tailgate and petrol cap, side repeaters and locks deleted, colour-coded door handles and mirrors, kidney grille de-chromed, MHW smoked rear lights and Hella fronts, full respray in custom Renault brown with gold flake

    INTERIOR: Sports beige leather seats with M logo, colour matched and colonised glove box, centre console, under dash tray, outer trim of door cards and centre section of the steering wheel, A, B and C pillars and roof lining retrimmed in black Alcantara, rear headrests fitted, E46 auto shifter with inner section retrimmed in brown Alcantara to match steering wheel, M-Tech aluminium pedals, smoked instrument cluster face with additional LEDs, smoked auxiliary gauges (oil and water temperature, and oil pressure) custom fitted to an M-Tech 2 rear view mirror, carpet dyed black, beige mats and load cover, colour-coded 15lb nitrous bottle in boot

    ICE: Sony CDX-CA900 CD tuner, Vibe SEK50 5.25” components and QB69 rectangular shaped 6x9 speakers

    THANKS: Custom Cars (07957 432167, 07956 605065) & all the boys that helped out, Automac GB Ltd (020 8440 8700)

    Have you ever seen anything like it? Auxiliary gauges fitted to the rear view mirror, just one of many custom touches.

    “We experimented for weeks with different shades from various manufacturers but it was worth it, this colour works so well with the rims and interior”
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  •   Bob BMW reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    LOW AND BEHOLD

    We’re in a purple daze after seeing this gorgeous bagged E30.

    This ground-hugging bagged E30 has been a true labour of love. Words: John Tallodi / Photos: Denis Podmarkov

    E30s have always been popular in these pages and their retro lines have become even more desirable as time passes, with some amazing builds making the most of that effortless ’80s style. They are a great canvas for any aspiring modder and whether slammed, cut, turbo’d, track-prepared or ICE’d, you can expect to find at least one E30 nestling among these pages each month. And this month is no exception…

    Zach Dunn is not your usual 21-year-old, having been involved with BMWs from an early age. His first taste of the Blue and White Roundel was with a manual E36 325i. “My first BMW was a birthday present from my parents. I had tons of fun driving it and I couldn’t have asked for a better gift and something to start out with,” he says. Since then he has owned half a dozen BMWs, working his way through most of the back catalogue of 3 Series models, with two E30 325s (including this one), an E36 M3, an E46 328Ci, as well as a pair of classic 02s.

    Having grown-up learning everything he could from his dad (who owns a bodyshop), none of his cars escaped without receiving some sort of modification. “They generally all get modified in the same way: I do some type of suspension setup to make them a little bit lower and I always like to change the wheels to something that is more unique. I also tend to do a few exterior upgrades, like the paint, bumpers, lips, lights and other little details.” In fact, lowering BMWs has become something of a passion for Zach. He got into it when the trend caught on in his area and all his friends started lowering their cars – although all his creations all bear his own distinct style.

    Having been exposed to such a variety of machinery, Zach decided that his next project had to be an E30. He felt that the older cars had more character and that the E30 had limitless modding potential as well. Having seen so many E30s done, he just had to have a go at making one that was just right for his tastes. Cue his latest project: a choice-looking E30 two-door. With its 17” AC Schnitzer wheels and air suspension it hunkers low over its arches and looks just the right kind of menacing without resorting to massive spoilers or wide-body kits. It is a far cry from the state it was in when Zach first laid eyes on it. Sitting forlornly at a local shop that specialises in older BMWs, it was a non-runner and in a relatively sorry state, generally needing a bit of TLC in every department. “I wasn’t really worried about the shape it was in,” explains Zach, “because I knew I was going to totally transform it. The shop got it running and I picked it up a few months later.”

    Zach likes to have everything pre-planned well before the actual purchase, as he tells us: “Before I even bought the car I had everything that I wanted to do with it figured out. From the wheels, to the colour, to the suspension, I knew how I wanted the car to be, inside and out. I could see it all in my head, which really helped me throughout the whole process.”

    Having had lots of experience with lowering cars in the past using coilover setups, Zach knew that he needed to go down the air route if he wanted to go lower and still maintain the driveability of the car. After some research he settled on an Air Lift setup from Bag Riders. Up front he’s running off-the-shelf E30 struts and adjustable camber plates, while at the rear there’s a set of Air House 2 bags. In the boot there’s a simple wood-mounted install with a fivegallon tank and a single Viair compressor.

    Thanks to his knowledgeable family and friends, Zach was not alone when it came to getting his E30 to the spec he wanted. “Everything was done at my dad’s shop, Dunn’s Auto Body and Repair. My friend Jason Hower did most of the air install with the help of my uncle Jason Longenecker. I did the air tank while they got the bags, management and lines figured out.” The pristine-looking exterior was also helped along by Zach’s brother Ryan, his friend Jared, and his dad – who helped spray the car and sort out the body panels.

    Many hands make light work and the car took a total of about one month to get to a level Zach was happy with. The bodywork took about two weeks with a respray completed over a weekend. Smaller items, such as the trim and interior dyeing, took a couple of weekends and the air install was done in three days. Extra help and motivation came from Zach’s wife as well as good friend Denis Podmarkov.

    Looking at the finished product, the paint colour could have been plucked right out of BMW’s own catalogue but it is actually a Volvo colour and it suits the car’s looks down to the ground. “My favourite modification on the car was probably the paint. It was something that my dad and I could do together and it turned out exactly how I was hoping,” Zach grins. “The colour was something I hadn’t really seen before on an E30 and I was constantly asked what the paint code is, no matter where I went.”

    When it came to choosing a set of wheels, it took Zach a while to come to a decision. “I had a set of 16” CCW LM20s built for the car and I left those on for about a year,” he says. But the AC Schnitzer Type 1s are his all-time favourite wheels so when he finally managed to find a set of 17” Racing splits, his wife bought them for him and they look awesome on the E30. The wheels sit on 4x100 to 5x120 adapters and measure 7” wide up front and 10” at the rear, wrapped in 195/40 and 215/40 rubber front and rear respectively. With the car aired-out the edges of the polished lips sit absolutely flush with the arches. Other changes to the exterior include a Volvo front lip, US ellipsoid headlights, blacked-out trim and a shaved antenna. They’re all subtle mods that add up to a head-turning result.

    The interior retains its standard trim save for an M Tech 1 steering wheel, and a redyeing of the seats in a different colour to match the paintwork better. “I didn’t get to do too much with the interior. It was tan when I bought it but I didn’t like the idea of tan and purple together so I kept all the original seats but dyed them, the carpet, and the headliner black,” Zach tells us.

    As it stands, visually the car looks perfect, appealing in equal parts to both traditionalists and more extreme modders alike. However, with the eye-catching paintwork and wheels, you may be surprised to find that under the bonnet all is still as BMW intended. Zach’s primary focus was getting the car aesthetically right and as the original M20 lump and running gear were all in good nick he decided to leave them as is. There is definitely a retro charm in a wellmaintained straight-six M20 coupled to a five-speed manual ’box.

    Having planned and executed everything out in such detail, this build must have been a true labour of love. However, needing funds for new projects meant the car had to go. Having put so much of his own style into it Zach would love to buy the car back someday, though. “It taught me so much, and it will always be ‘the one that got away’,” he muses. In fact, he’s even mentally planned additional mods he’d do if he did ever get it back: “It would be nice to put an S54 engine in there. I’d also go with a full M cloth interior, upgraded seats, Smiley headlights, M Tech 2 steering wheel, MHW tail-lights, side skirts, and Euro trim/grille and bumpers.” Clearly the man has style and an appreciation for the finer points of classic Beemer modding. Here’s hoping this automotive relationship was meant to be and the low riding E30 will find its way back into Zach’s life further down the road.

    In the meantime, with a BMW shaped hole to fill in his driveway, what is Zach thinking of working on next? “I’m hoping to have an E30 M3 someday. The shape and design, the performance, the history behind them, pretty much everything about them makes me want to have one. And I have every single detail in my head about what I would do with it!” Judging from his past record there is no doubt that whatever changes he undertakes, they will surely make for a show-stopping car.

    Three-piece 17” AC Schnitzer Type 1 Racing wheels look awesome and suit the E30 perfectly.

    DATA FILE Air-ride #BMW-E30 / #BMW-325i / #BMW-325i-E30 / #AC-Schnitzer-Type-1-Racing / #AC-Schnitzer-Type-1 / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-325i-Air-ride / #BMW-325i-Air-ride-E30 /
    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M20B25 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 , stock five-speed manual gearbox
    CHASSIS 8x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) AC Schnitzer Type I Racing wheels with 4x100 to 5x120 adapters,195/40 (front) and 215/40 (rear) tyres, #Air-Lift-V2 Management, #Air-Lift E30 front struts, adjustable camber plates, Air House 2 rear bags
    EXTERIOR Volvo purple respray, Volvo front lip, US ellipsoid headlights, blacked-out trim, shaved antenna
    INTERIOR Black dyed interior, M Tech 1 steering wheel, 1/4” airlines, five-gallon air tank, single Viair compressor
    THANKS Gabrielle Dunn, ‘Spike’ Dunn, Lorrie Dunn, Ryan Dunn, Jason Longenecker, Jason Hower, Jared ‘Shorty’ Hower, Denis Podmarkov, Dunn’s Auto Body and P #BMW
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  •   Dan Furr reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    BODY DROP E30 Air-ride 325i hits all time low

    BODY DROP TOP / Anyone can bag their car to get it low, but hitting the ultimate low takes dedication, as this E30 Cab ably demonstrates.

    If you’re truly dedicated to the pursuit of lows then you need to go beyond basic air-ride, as this Northern Irish E30 Cab demonstrates. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Steve McCann.

    Air-ride is a wonderful thing. It might still have its naysayers, but almost everyone else on the modified #BMW scene has welcomed it with open arms and it almost feels like there are more bagged BMs about these days than static ones. It’s practical when driving out and about, and then when you park up you simply hit a button and boom instant lows. But for some people, that’s not quite enough, and one of those people is John Peden, owner of this E30 Cab and MD of Peden Conceptz, which specialises in bodywork, air-ride and hydraulic suspension.

    “It sounds daft now but when I started the company years ago, we were building fibreglass monstrosities and putting a ‘z’ on your business name was all the rage,” he laughs. Running such a company puts John on the frontline of the air suspension (and juice) scene, so it makes sense that he’s got a few examples of his own that utilises it: “I’ve got a Porsche 964 on hydraulic suspension and as well as the E30 I’ve got an E21 316; that was my first BMW and I bought it 12 years ago specifically with the aim of fitting air suspension on it. I spotted this 325i for sale and was interested as I like older cars, plus it had a good spec, black with black leather, manual and with the factory LSD. It was advertised locally but the guy selling it was a bit dodgy – after I bought the car he did a runner on his missus and made off with her money, cars and my tax book…” Oh. Thankfully that dramatic start to his E30 ownership experience hasn’t extended any further and John wasted no time in getting stuck in with the mods.

    That the car was going to end up on airride was a given but the suspension here goes beyond your plain old, off-the-shelf airride setup. For starters, John actually built his own air suspension and we don’t mean he used universal components and adapted them to fit the E30, he started from scratch and made the kit. “I started with Bilstein monotube shocks, because they are the best in my opinion, and added Firestone bags. I made spherical top mounts and modified most components and finished it off with AutoPilot V2 management.”

    But that was just for starters, the next stage involved cutting the front end of the car apart and body dropping it. “The car is lowered 20mm over the running gear,” explains John. “It’s further than any other air kit. I took 10mm off the chassis legs, then I cut the sump in half and removed 20mm from it and shortened the oil pump in order to get more ground clearance.” The results speak for themselves because this car is low.

    At the front, it’s about as low as it can go, the forward edges of the sills sitting on the ground and you’d struggle to slip a Rizla between the air dam that sits under the front bumper and the Tarmac. The rear sits barely any higher, the Sebring exhaust’s back box given hardly any breathing space. The car looks awesome with the wheels stuffed way up into the arches. “I wanted 15” wheels because I favour the undersized look,” he explains, “and it made it more of a challenge to get them to fill the arches. I was told by a lot of people that they would be too small to be able to get the arch to touch the rim…” An inspection of the wheels clearly shows that the naysayers have been proven wrong.

    The wheels themselves are HTN Rennsport splits. They look fantastic and are a nice change from the classic cross-spokes we often see. Interestingly, John explains, the 15s actually have the same size centres as the 13” wheels, with some serious lip action going on to bring the overall diameter up by two inches. “It exaggerates how small they look, which I think really suits the classic appearance of the car,” he says and we are inclined to agree. The 195/45 Nankang Ultra Sport NS-II tyres also deliver the perfect amount of stretch to get them tucked up past the rolled arches.


    As far as styling goes, John has left everything well alone and we don’t blame him. “For the outside, I just focused on the way the wheels and tyres sat. I resprayed the car myself in 2k direct gloss black. As for the interior, I didn’t do anything with it as I like the classic appearance of it – what’s to improve in that respect?” He’s got a point. Inside, there’s an aftermarket head unit, a wooden gear knob and the AutoPilot V2 controller has been custom-mounted in the driver’s side air vent, which not only looks great but also puts it within easy reach.

    A few months of work have resulted in a lot of visual drama for this E30 and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what John loves most about his car. “It’s the suspension, because it’s just so low. The pinch weld of the sill touches the floor,” he grins. “I set out to build the lowest E30 and I really haven’t seen any lower… yet.” Best of all, despite being so crazy low, the beauty of air-ride means John is able drive his E30 daily. It’s nice to see someone building car like this and then actually using it rather than just tucking it away and only bringing it out on sunny days.

    While he’s not got any more plans for this particular car, he has got another project on the go: “I’m building the E21 I bought years ago. It’s nearly finished. It has hydraulic suspension, custom one-off Peden Conceptz wheels, a Saab 9000 engine and a Holset turbo off a digger,” he says matter-of-factly. Well, that sounds suitably mental, and as John is a clearly a man who knows his way around a modified BMW, we can’t wait to see how that one turns out.

    Body-drop involved taking 10mm off the chassis legs, 20mm off the sump and shortening the oil pump for maximum ground clearance.

    “set out to build the lowest E30 and I haven’t seen any lower…”

    DATA FILE Body-dropped #BMW-E30 / #BMW-325i-Convertible / #BMW-325i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-E30-Convertible / #BMW-325i-Cabrio / #BMW-325i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i / #AutoPilot / #Sebring /


    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M20B25 / #M20 / #BMW-M20 , #Sebring back box, shortened sump, shortened oil pump, five-speed manual gearbox
    CHASSIS 8x15” (front and rear) #HTN-Rennsport multi-piece wheels with gold centres and staggered offsets with 195/45 (front and rear) Nankang Ultra Sport NS-II tyres, custom #Bilstein air struts, #Firestone bags, custom top mounts, raised turrets, #AutoPilot-V2 management, body dropped 20mm
    EXTERIOR 2k direct gloss black respray, rolled arches
    INTERIOR #Wooden gear knob, custom mounted air-ride controller

    “wanted 15” wheels because it was more of a challenge to get them to fill the arches.”
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