- Post is under moderationRETRO MODDING
This very clean #E30 from Oz combines a few simple elements, like an M50 swap, retrim and respray, to make a lovely car. Bringing some old-skool E30 modifying back, this classic Australian 3 Series is an appreciated blast from the past. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Brodie Butler.
BMW E30s are kind of addictive. Chances are if you’ve ever owned one you either buy yourself another soon afterwards or forever regret selling your original. To those of us who owned one in our younger years (I had three – a 325i, a 320iS and an #M3 ), I know I’m not alone in often trawling the classifieds for a replacement to relive those fun carefree days when our boxy E30s oversteered easily with no annoying traction control kicking in to spoil playtime. And they still just look so good.
In Melbourne, Australia, Josh Bossong couldn’t agree more. “After owning four E30s I had to have one in the garage,” said the 26-year-old. His current ride is this 1990 318iS E30 where nothing too outrageous has been done on the modifying front, but it serves as a reminder of how good a clean and tastefully uprated E30 can look.
But while this car doesn’t feature a 1000hp turbocharged brute of an engine, nor the kind of suspension setup that would have many tin-top race teams blush, this E30 remains a car you can drive every day, have boundless fun in and enjoy the appreciation of others who recognise a job well done. “The best thing about the car is other people’s reaction to it after I’ve put in so much time, effort and money,” Josh said. “The compliments people give me is a good reward, plus I did most of the work myself so to see it all finished and working well is very rewarding.”
The Melbourne machine operator said his goals for this build were to have something showy and also boost the performance of the 318iS’s motor and chassis to make it faster through the Australian hills. With light weight, great build quality, nice handling and LSD as standard the E30 #318iS an ideal classic to own and improve on, but by modern standards it is a bit low on power with an ageing 1.8-litre four-cylinder. Josh has remedied this thanks to not one but two engine swaps, and has stayed faithful to the motors used in the BMW range of the day.
“The factory four-cylinder went okay and I never had a problem with it, which was quite surprising considering the hard time I gave it,” Josh said. “I bought an E30’s complete M20B25 engine and gearbox from Tasmania, fitted it all and it ran very well, quicker even than my dad’s E30 325iS, even though we could never work out why.” Sometimes it’s better not to question and just enjoy the boost in performance, which is exactly what Josh did for about a year when it was time for a change once more.
Josh’s friend Nick suggested he try an M50 engine to give him the increase he was seeking, and after doing some research decided it was the right way to go. For a start, out-of-the-box the #M50 2.5-litre offers around 20hp over the M20 six-cylinder. While the #M20 is SOHC with two valves per cylinder, the later #M50B25 is DOHC with four valves per cylinder, and typically is an engine more receptive to tuning.
With a friend, Nick, working for a towing company, he sourced Josh a smashed #1994 #E34 #525i (with a M50 engine and a manual gearbox) and a deal was quickly done. “I got to work straight away after getting it home, pulling out the motor, gearbox and everything else needed,” he said. Josh was able to do the vast bulk of the work himself with a good friend, but admitted he’s no good with wiring so had to outsource that job. Even so, the wiring on the M50 was less complicated than on later #BMW engines, meaning it was a more practical choice than trying to fit a more powerful, newer engine, even though the extra horses and sophistication would have been appreciated.
As it stands, Josh said his #BMW-E30 is now good for 192hp: a healthy leap over a stock E30 318iS’s 140hp. He’ll have found a few extra horses thanks to the custom exhaust system, incorporating a ceramic-coated 1.7- inch manifold leading into a 2.4-inch stainless steel mandrel bent system with an #XForce rear box. All the rest is as standard as the engine was in the E34 donor car; for now this is power enough for Josh and he has instead focused on the E30’s style.
And it has it in spades. Striking paintwork, subtly lowered over deep-dish rims and featuring attractive body mods that take nothing away from the E30’s original clean lines. Some of these mods are as oldskool as the E30 itself. Check out the shaved off side indicators – backed up by the once ubiquitous E36 M3-style mirrors with integrated LED indicators (remember when they were the latest must-haves?!), Angeleye headlights and headlight eyebrows.
Clear front indicators and uprated rear lights stand out well against the extrovert colour scheme. Josh said he originally had no plans for a respray, but a bit of a smash made it an ideal time to change the hue, and he opted for something from the Australian Holden’s metallic colour chart named Voodoo blue, which coats the body, bumpers and rubbing strips.
Josh has done well fitting 17-inch #BBS RS replica rims under the arches, not least because the rears are 10-inches wide. With polished lips and black centres they stand out superbly against the body, while still retaining the traditional E30 look of multispoke BBS wheels. The body sits neatly over the rolling stock thanks to H&R lowering springs, dropping it around 30mm. Not much more has been needed, and a bonus of not seeking silly power figures means the only brake upgrade required has been some aftermarket pads and an #E21 brake booster.
Such an exterior look should be matched with a more show-orientated interior, and Josh has obliged with E30 325iS Recaro front seats, plus the rear bench also from the 325iS. He’s managed to integrate rear headrests for the back seat passengers where previously there were none, and covered everything in a cream leather with blue piping – excellent retro E30 modifying. A 7-inch monitor mounted in a custom built centre console is a bit more modern – again finished in cream – alongside the colour coded handbrake and gear stick gaiters. The boot also gets in on the party with a custom sub box holding a pair of 12-inch Pioneers, backed up by 6.5-inch JVC speakers through the cabin and a couple of amps controlling things.
Josh’s E30 is an impressive show car as it stands, but he said perhaps the money spent on it could have been better spent on a house deposit. “But life’s too short not to enjoy it,” he laughed. With the M50 motor in place he said he’s not ruled out a turbo setup down the track, but for now it’s an ideal cruiser with that bit of extra shove needed for a blast through the hills when the mood takes him.
“To see it finished and working well is very rewarding”
“The best thing about the car is people’s reactions to it”
ENGINE: Transplanted 2.5-litre straight-six M50B25 from 1994 E34 525i with custom ceramic coated 1.7-inch exhaust manifold leading to custom 2.4-inch stainless steel mandrel bent exhaust system with single XForce muffler.
TRANSMISSION: Standard #Getrag 260 five-speed manual and standard E30 tailshaft with big case diff LSD and 3.9:1 ratio diff gears.
CHASSIS: 8.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) BBS RS replica rims shod in 205/40 Nankang tyres (front) and 215/45 Jinyi tyres (rear), #H&R lowering springs allround dropping around 30mm, #Bremtec brake pads, E21 brake booster.
EXTERIOR: Shaved off side indicators, #E36 M3-style mirrors with LED indicators, Angel eye headlights with headlight eyebrow, clear front indicators, uprated rear lights, Holden Voodoo blue respray with colour-coded bumpers and side rubbing strips.
INTERIOR: Factory #E30-#325iS #Recaro seats, E30 #325iS rear seat with modified head rests to fit, retrimmed in cream leather with blue piping, cream centre console and cream leather for gear stick and handbrake gaiters.
ICE: #JVC-KD-DV7205 head-unit, 7-inch Soundstream television custom mounted in centre console alongside two remote holders, JVC 6.5” two-way speakers front and rear, two Pioneer 12” subs in ported custom sub box, Boss four-channel amp powering speakers, #JVC two-channel amp powering subs.
THANKS: Andreas Doelling and the crew at German Auto Haus, Barney and the boys at Hallam Performance, Matty from proworkzfabriaction, Nick from Road Runner Towing, Hak Kouch and the crew at Hing Cheong Profinish, Sam and the boys and Auto Image Interiors, Unique Auto interiors and my mum, dad and family.
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- Post is under moderationOddballs.
The ballistic GKD Legend Six. With 330hp in a 700kg body, the #GKD-Legend-Six is a ferociously fast road machine.
We’ve previously covered the GKD Legend that utilised E36 #318iS mechanicals and we were mightily impressed, but with #E36-M3-Evo power under the bonnet, this version is even more spectacular. The machine we have here, built by owner Jason Spencer, was the first Legend Six that’s been fully assembled and registered on the road but if our driving experience is anything to go by, it certainly won’t be the last.
The Legend Six is ferociously fast. Not fast like an #F10 #M5 , fast like a Lockheed Lightening jet. With around 330hp in a car that weighs a little over 700kg, think 0-62mph in less than 3.5 seconds and a 0-100mph time of less than eight. But perhaps what’s most impressive is the way that it delivers its performance – by all means go chasing the headline figures by using all the #M-Power ’six’s revs, but even if you knock it back a notch and short-shift at 4000rpm you’re still going to be travelling faster than most supercars. And the lack of a windscreen in Jason’s example makes it seem ten times faster than it is.
Where this kit car really scores is that with a kit from #GKD and a donor #E36 or #E46 the vast majority of the build is plug ’n’ play and as the standard ECU is used it makes the tricky electronic side of this much easier for the amateur builder. How far you go with the spec is up to you, but Jason’s machine here has been assembled to a very high standard and features Racelogic traction control, comfy yet supportive seats, a removable steering wheel, Stack instrumentation and a Stack data logger.
With a power-to-weight ratio of somewhere in the region of 450hp/tonne it should come as no surprise that the GKD is devastatingly quick. Twist the key, hear that BMW ’six erupt into life and there’s a sense of drama even when sitting still, especially as the glorious exhaust exits just below your right elbow. Slotting the stubby-machined gear knob into first (and this is a five-speed unit as it saves around 17kg over the six-speed version) and pulling away is strangely undramatic. All the controls have a nice BMW-esque feel to them and you can easily potter about in a high gear letting the torque do the work as you get used to the driving experience.
Dropping a couple of cogs and flooring the throttle elicits a howl of approval from the #S50 up front while the rear Toyos dig deep and somehow find the grip to launch you at the horizon. Straight-line speed is all well and good, but what’s going to happen when you hit the twisties? The Mintex/Black Diamond brake combo washes off speed without any drama and the GKD simply turns in and goes where you point it. You try again, but with a little bit more speed and the effect is the same – grip levels are huge. I’ve never driven a machine with such brilliantly adjustable handling – it flatters your driving, whether you choose to drive slow-in, fast-out, or play the hooligan and chuck it sideways at every opportunity. In short the GKD will do exactly what you ask it to do and this must be testament to the quality of the kit, but also Jason’s attention to detail during the build that included having the car corner weighted for the perfect setup.
The GKD is hugely entertaining, ballistically quick, yet can also be docile and comfortable – it even rides the B-roads very well. It’ll return over 30mpg and if it had the optional windscreen and some weather gear it would be practical, too. Jason spent around £13k assembling his high-spec example, GKD reckons you could build a lower spec one for £9k. That’s massively tempting…
2015 GKD Legend Six
Engine: 3.2-litre straight-six #S50B32 (M3 E36 3-series #BMW )
Transmission: Five-speed manual
How many: There’s a few about
What is it: Ballistic British Bavarian-powered kit car
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- Post is under moderationDOWN UNDER THUNDER
V8 swaps are common in the BMW world but a drift #E30 with a 6.0-litre V8 on carbs? Definitely not your average 3 Series.
Subtle on the outside, serious on the inside, this V8-powered drift E30 is a unique Australian-flavoured slice of German muscle. Words: Seb de Latour. Photos: Brodie Butler.
Australia. Land of the free and the home of the brave. No, wait, that’s America. Well, seeing as my entire knowledge of Australia is based on Neighbours I’m not really much of an authority on all things Antipodean but I know one thing about our cousins in Oz: they love their V8s and they clearly love their BMWs. Oh, that’s two things. Never mind, you get the idea.
Our case today is that of one Joshua Bossong, owner of two very different E30s – the beast you see here and something rather more palatable for those with delicate dispositions, which you can read about in next month’s issue. Actually, an apology might be in order because just as you’re getting over one ridiculous Australian V8-powered #BMW with something poking out of the bonnet, you now have to deal with another one. So, sorry, and stuff.
A cursory glance at the pictures will tell you that this is clearly not a daily driver that Josh uses to pop to his local store to stock up on Tim Tams, he has a Toyota Hilux ute for that purpose. No, this E30 is a full-on drift beast that is equally happy attacking tracks as it is going sideways. But what I really like about his car, honking great V8 aside, is the fact it is a very clean and wellcared- for car rather than a slightly battered drift slag and while it’s certainly not one for the purists, it’s a good looking car for sure.
Josh’s car history is pretty ute-heavy, with no less than three previous examples, but there have also been four E30s, so he is clearly no newcomer to Bavarian metal and E30s are his poison. “I love E30s and I’ve currently got four in my garage: my #1990 #318iS , 1989 #325iS and our #1989 E30 325i Convertible, and this one of course. They are just so much fun to drive and the way they handle is just amazing,” he says when explaining the reasoning behind the build of this car. “I built this E30 for drifting but at the same time I wanted a car I could take to the track and do grip days in as well.” And while the engine dominates the car, there’s been a lot of work elsewhere to make sure that this E30 is much more than just a onetrick, sideways pony.
But before we can get onto any of that we have to take a good, long look at the engine swap. What I find interesting is that, despite appearances, the engine here is actually a recent one. It’s an L98, an evolution of the L76 (which itself was Holden’s version of the 6.0-litre GM fourth-generation small-block V8), and was derived from the LS2, which was introduced in 2005. So, a nice modern engine yet we’ve got a carb on top of it, so what gives?
“I purchased the #Holden L98 6.0-litre from a mate who had removed the fuel injection system and fitted the motor with an Edelbrock Victor JNR carburettor manifold and a Demond 850 carb,” Josh explained. “As the car was going to be built for drifting I didn’t know if this was the right way to go or not but after doing some research and speaking to some friends and shops I decided to keep the carb system and not return to the fuel injection system as I had been told the engine may make more power like this.” Not that the L98 is short on power, you understand, making as it does 367hp out-of-the-box, but the example in Josh’s E30 dyno’d at 335hp at the wheels, which works out as a slight increase over stock power and was plenty to be getting on with in an E30, that’s for sure.
Custom two-inch exhaust manifolds feed into a stainless steel system with a Magnaflow Tru X silencer to ensures that this car makes all the right noises and with plenty of volume.
Unsurprisingly, Josh ran into a few problems attempting to get everything to fit into the E30: “As the six-speed manual is so big and the E30 BMW transmission tunnel is so small, we decided to cut the whole factory fitted tunnel out and make our own so we could get the motor as far back to the firewall as possible. We also ran into problems with the starter motor being so close to the steering column, so we got in touch with Castlemaine Rod Shop and bought one of its left-hand side starter motor conversion kits.” Job done. So, there’s a massive V8 up front but that alone wasn’t enough to turn this E30 into a drift machine that would also be at home on track; it’s been treated to more than a couple of supporting mods beneath the surface, too. The drivetrain has been bolstered with an uprated Excedy clutch and Excedy flywheel. There’s a custom driveshaft, tailshaft and axle halfshafts along with a Kazz two-way LSD with a 3.9:1 final drive. Surprisingly, the brakes have been left virtually standard throughout, bar the addition of some drilled and grooved discs up front and Duratec pads all-round, but the suspension has received a thorough reworking. BC Racing coilovers have been fitted front and rear, with Josh opting for a pretty serious 60mm drop and uprated Whiteline anti-roll bars have also been fitted. On the wheel front Josh has opted for a set of XXR 002s, which measure 8x15” all-round and are wrapped in Federal 595 Evo tyres up front and Achilles ATR Sport rubber at the rear.
The exterior is completely stock, except for the hole in the bonnet that was required to fit the air filter, and Turquoise metallic that the car has been finished in is really gorgeous, with a wonderful blueygreen shimmer. Inside, though, there’s barely a hint of the original left. Virtually everything has been stripped out in the pursuit of weight saving. Up front, there’s a pair of Bride seats with green Takata harnesses along with a stylish Nardi steering wheel. A custom instrument pod straddles the steering column with a large central rev counter and additional gauges for fuel level, water temperature, voltage and oil pressure. You get a good view of that custom transmission tunnel as well, while the doorcards have been replaced with bare metal panels. The rear is taken up by the JDI fabrication six-point weld-in roll-cage while the boot is full of 60-litre fuel cell.
Josh has built a seriously impressive drift machine and it’s most definitely been worth all the hard work and effort. “I would have to say the trickiest part of the build was the transmission tunnel but with the help of my good mate Matty from Proworkz Fabrication it was very much sorted,” he explains. “The most rewarding bit of the whole process was completing the car and being able to compete with it. I love the aggressive look of the car, with the air cleaner sitting high out of the bonnet, and that V8 sound. I also love the reaction people have to the car. It puts a huge smile on my face every time I get behind the wheel of this beast!” Future plans include a Wisfab steering lock kit, some bigger wheels and uprated brakes, which should make it an even more formidable proposition. “I’m not sure how much I’ve spent on the car,” muses Josh in closing, “but it would have definitely been enough for a good house deposit… but life is too short not to enjoy it!” Amen to that.
ENGINE: #Holden-L98 6.0-litre V8, Edelbrock Victor JNR carb, #K&N air filter, MSD ignition 6LS, custom 2” exhaust manifolds, Magnaflow Tru X silencer, 335whp @ 5344rpm.
TRANSMISSION: T56 six-speed manual, custom transmission tunnel, Excedy flywheel, Excedy clutch, custom 4340CV axle halfshafts, custombuilt 2.5” tailshaft, Kazz two-way LSD with 3.9:1 final drive.
CHASSIS: 8x15” (front and rear) XXR 002 wheels with 195/50 Federal 595 Evo tyres (front) and 195/55 Achilles ATR Sport tyres (rear). BC Racing coilovers, Whiteline anti-roll bars, drilled and grooved discs (front), Duratec pads (front and rear).
EXTERIOR: Repainted Turquoise metallic.
INTERIOR: Bride seats, Takata harnesses, #Nardi steering wheel, Holden gear knob, Autometer Pro Com Ultralite gauges, JDI Fabrication six-point weld-in roll-cage, 60-litre fuel cell, Perma fuel filter.
THANKS: Matty from Proworkz Fabrication, Jake from JDI Fabrication, Heath from HG AutoBody, Danko from Addicted Performance, Glen Poulton for doing all the wiring on the hole car, Pure Performance Motorsport, GJ Drivelines, Jack McNamara Differential, Race Radiators, Exhaust Fix, Speedpro Distributors, Avon Tyre Service, Eagle Auto Parts, Road Runner Towing, and a big huge thank you to my mum and dad and family for all their help and support over the years; without all these people this car would not have been done, so thank you.
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