- Post is under moderation
AMERICAN AT HEART
A supercharged #LS1 has created a monster of an E36. Whilst many E36 owners might dream of M3 straight-six or M5 V8 conversions, Ian Sutton has gone down a whole different route by fitting a supercharged LS1 V8… Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Gary Hawkins.
Engine options on the E36 from the factory were fairly plentiful – from the 102bhp 1.6-litre M40 to the 321bhp 3.2-litre S50 M3 Evo powerplant, BMW had it pretty well covered. But for some people – especially once you start talking modified car owners – too much is never enough, and we’re seeing E46 M3 straight-six, E39 M5 V8 and even some E60 M5 V10 conversions taking place more and more often. But while Bavarian horsepower is all well and good, why not think out of the box?
The General Motors LS-series of engines, or #Crate-V8 s as they’re often known, are a common choice for those wanting a simple, effective and proven way of reliable horsepower. There’s simply no denying it – there’s no replacement for displacement – and these engines are being seen fitted to all manner of cars, from Corvettes to Camaros, trucks to 4x4s, and (most importantly in this story) even the Holden Monaro, otherwise sold as the Vauxhall Monaro and Pontiac GTO. Far from the small block Chevrolet V8 many people seem to mix it up with, most LS engines have an all-aluminium construction, fuel injection, and are generally a far more modern proposal than you might think. And considering their displacement, they’re pretty compact units too.
Rewind just over five years, and you’d find BMW technician Ian Sutton thinking just the same – why doesn’t someone put the well-proven LS engine into an E36? He had the first part of the recipe, an E36 328i Sport, already, which he’d bought when he finished his apprenticeship at Coventry BMW and used for a couple of years before the Yank engine idea came up. Ian is also lucky enough to have a good friend who specialises in breaking the aforementioned Holden/Vauxhall Monaro, so you can see where the inspiration came from.
Ian’s engine of choice was the 5.7-litre LS1 from early Monaros, his in fact coming from the US-spec Pontiac GTO. And once it was in his hands it was time to get to work.
Not wanting to risk damaging his 328i in the process, he bought another one from work to use as a test shell for all the fabrication that would be involved. It was separated from its engine and the bay removed of all its clutter. Ian makes it sound so simple, but the next step was to hoist the GM V8 into the position he wanted it to sit and then fabricate mounts on the E36’s crossmember to suit – albeit after a bit of sump alteration to get it to fit behind the crossmember. At the same time it seemed the perfect opportunity to baffle it to avoid oil starvation during hard cornering. With the sump being off at that time, Ian decided to replace the standard con rod bolts with ARP items for added strength and durability.
With that done and the engine positioning perfected, the gearbox mounts could be fabricated, and stage one of the build was complete. Of course, the engine and gearbox weren’t hooked up to anything other than each other, but at least they were positioned in the car.
A full M3 Evo rear axle was to be used, so as with any engine transplant of this kind, a custom propshaft had to be manufactured first. Custom gear linkage was also created so that the gearstick could remain in the original position in the cockpit while governing the Tremec T56 six-speed gearbox from the Pontiac. Not content with leaving it standard though, Ian fitted a lightweight Spec aluminium flywheel, LS7 clutch, XRP braided clutch line and a GMM Ripshifter for faster revving and shifting.
Around the same time, Ian’s Monarobreaking friend was over in Australia and had got talking to Scotty at Capa Superchargers, which is well known Down Under for offering forced induction for many different cars, including the Holden Monaro. It didn’t take long for Ian to be convinced, and before he knew it, the Vortech-based ’charger kit was sitting on his doorstep.
Adding a whole new dimension to the build, it was soon discovered that the supercharger simply wasn’t going to fit the E36’s relatively narrow engine bay – not with the standard supercharger bracket anyway. With the help of good friend Gary, and with Ian having been part-trained as an engineer before becoming a mechanic, a plan was made, and the pair got straight on with measuring up the engine and bay (a painstaking process in itself, making sure all the pulleys lined up absolutely perfectly), then designing thier own bracketry for a variety of the components and having a local engineer construct it from billet aluminium. To keep the whole lot cool, Ian had Allisport fabricate the radiator, intercooler and oil cooler to his specifications, which all sit just behind the front bumper.
The exhaust was yet another challenge, as not only did it need to take the gases from the V8 as efficiently as possible, it was a pretty tight squeeze between the E36’s chassis legs, too. The only solution was to go custom, and Wye Valley Garage – where the project spent much of its time – was able to help. A fully TIG-welded stainless steel exhaust system from the manifolds to the tailpipes is the result of their hard work, and we have to say it looks absolutely perfect, and the silencers are repackable too. Finishing off the installation itself is an almost headache-inducingly well planned combination of parts. From the custom power steering fluid tank (with a #BMW cap mind you), to the E46 M3 header tank, OEM (but not necessarily 328i, in case you start thinking this is the easy bit) hoses that can be found all around the engine bay, to the XRP aeroquip fuel and oil lines used throughout, it doesn’t lack in attention to detail. Such was Ian’s quest to make it all look as factory as possible, he’s even used OEM BMW hose clips rather than Jubilees! When the time came to move the engine, gearbox, supercharger, exhaust, crossmember and gearbox mounts over to his prized E36 – he wasn’t going to do it by halves either.
They say a picture tells a thousand words, but let me tell you, even a thousand pictures couldn’t tell the story of just how immaculate this E36 is; Ian has rebuilt it bolt-for-bolt, using new components throughout, and powdercoating every part he could. You name it, it’s been uprated, replaced, or painted. The M3 Evo rear subframe and axle, M3 Evo front wishbones and hubs and brakes all-round, all new bushes, balljoints, links, Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, Eibach anti-roll bars… the list goes on. And it’s not just the underside that’s better than new, the bodywork is too, thanks to a bare metal respray. It really is astonishing, and it perhaps is only justified by seeing it in the metal.
Fuelling and management was dealt with surprisingly simply – being an engine so popular for transplants, especially over the Pond, management solutions are very well catered for. First, the ECU was sent over to Capa to be unlocked, having all of its security limitations taken off and being given a base map on HP Tuners software. To match the airflow that the supercharger was bringing to the table, a Walbro fuel pump rated to 255 litres per hour pushes the fuel through a Fuel Lab filter and adjustable fuel pressure regulator, before being flung into the engine by 42lb injectors. It’s certainly a promising sounding combination.
Rolling stock duties are put to #BBS LM replicas – Ian had originally wanted black centres with a polished lip, but there were differences between the 8.5”- and 9.5”-wide variants, so he went for all black rims with a subtle red line around the edges, and measuring 19” in diameter. The rest of the styling is a very much OEM affair, with a combination of M3 GT components, AC Schnitzer mirrors and subtle rebadging; the front and rear roundels having been swapped for carbon items, while the side rub strip badges – which Ian had custom-made by a local signwriter – now read supercharged.
One of the final steps was the interior, which Ian wanted kept as stock as possible. Again, nothing but the best would do, so perfect black leather and as little clue as possible as to what engine lies beneath. M3 gauges are cleverly hooked up to work with the new engine, made possible by the HP Tuners software, and to keep a really close eye on what’s going on underneath the bonnet, Ian’s installed a trio of Autometer gauges in the centre console, monitoring oil pressure, fuel pressure and boost. Not only are they installed neatly, but Ian took a long time researching to find a range of gauges that matched the factory orange lighting so as not to look out of place – his attention to detail really is mind-blowing.
The car made it’s debut at Santa Pod last year with great success, and on the strip it managed a 12.7 quarter-mile at 110mph – impressive, especially considering it was on a base map, and Ian was taking it easy. Of course he was keen to have it fully mapped to see what it could do, though, and John Sleath Racing was put in charge of the mapping, and the results were mightily impressive. A peak of 530.4bhp is only half the story – 550lb ft of torque is the kind of figure hardly any tuned BMW engine can boast, and especially not delivered in the same effortless way as the ’charged LS1, making it the ideal road car.
While the engine may not be a traditional choice for an E36, Ian’s more than proved it’s a good one. With power and torque in abundance, as well as an incredible V8 soundtrack, an overall feel of OEM quality (and then some!) and increased driveability and performance, he’s really shown that it doesn’t have to be a BMW engine to feel original. So the purists may hate it, but there’s no denying that it’s incredible. If for some reason BMW had made its own LS1- powered E36, I can’t help but think it would struggle to beat the perfection that Ian has struck upon. Thinking out of the box? Pah, he’s blown it to bits.
DATA FILE #Vortech / #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-328Ci / #BMW-328Ci-E36 / #BMW-E36-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-E36-V8 / #BMW-E36-LS1 / #BMW-E36-GM-LS1 / #GM / #BMW / #Tremec /
ENGINE: 5.7-litre #V8 #GM-LS1 / , #Vortech-V2 supercharger, #ARP con rod bolts, custom #ZF-PAS pump and mounting bracket, custom billet aluminium supercharger bracket and auto tensioner, custom baffled oil pan, #Earls-Performance oil thermostat, #Allisport custom front mount oil cooler, radiator, PAS tank with #BMW cap, front mount intercooler and pipework and oil catch tank, E46 M3 header tank, #Vortech-Maxiflow blow-off valve, 42lb injectors, #Walbro 255l/h fuel pump, #Fuel-Lab fuel filter and adjustable fuel pressure regulator, #XRP-Aeroquip fuel and oil lines, custom front cross member and engine mounts, custom fully TIG-welded exhaust including manifolds and repackable silencers, custom engine wiring harness, GM ECU with 2bar map and fully remappable HP Tuners software
TRANSMISSION: #Tremec-T56 six-speed gearbox, custom gearbox mounts, Spec lightweight aluminium flywheel, LS7 clutch, custom propshaft, #XRP clutch lines and remote bleeder, #GMM-Ripshifter with custom gear lever, full E36 M3 Evo rear axle
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) #BBS-LM replicas shod in 225/40 and 265/30 Falken FK452s respectively. Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, #Eibach anti-roll bars, M3 Evo front wishbones and hubs, AC Schnitzer carbon front strut brace, custom lower strut brace, Z3 M quick steering rack; full nut and bolt rebuild including all new bushes, balljoints and links with all new components powdercoated. E36 M3 Evo brakes all-round (315mm discs front, 312mm discs rear) with Performance Friction pads all-round and XRP braided lines
EXTERIOR: Full bare metal respray in original Arctic silver, face-lift nose cone, M3 Evo front splitter, M3 GT corner splitters and M3 bumper mesh, M3 GT two-piece rear spoiler, AC Schnitzer mirrors, carbon fibre front and rear roundels, supercharged badges in rubstrips
INTERIOR: OEM full black leather interior, #AC-Schnitzer short shift gear knob, E36 M3 clocks with oil temperature gauge, #Autometer boost, fuel pressure and oil pressure gauges, Alpine CDA 105 RI head unit
THANKS: www.wyevalleygarage.co.uk for the exhaust, fabrication, workspace and storage (01989 565001), www.lsxv8.co.uk for LS spares and conversions, Allisport (01452 751187), Scotty at Capa Superchargers (006 1885 823499), John Sleath Racing for the mapping (07976 751742), Nic J Racing (07970 192715), Gaz, Slim and Zip, Sytner BMW Birmingham Parts Department
Ian and the friends that have helped him make it look easy – modifying and baffling the sump and fabricating engine mounts, the exhaust and the supercharger bracket as well as many other parts. There’s also the tuning itself to consider, with the lightened flywheel and other uprated transmission components,
the supercharger and intercooler, and of course all the pipework and hoses, which all look OEM. A dimple had to be made in the inner wing to fit the ’charger too.
Combine that with practically rebuilding the entire car with everything renewed and powdercoated, and you can see what makes the car quite so amazing.
Other than the noise, the average passenger wouldn’t know the difference.
Unshakeable power – 5.7 supercharged American litres worth of it in fact – oof!
There’s simply no denying it – there’s no replacement for displacement.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationOLD DOG NEW TRICKS
With a turbo’d S54 stuffed into its engine bay, this E21 has an eye-watering 1000whp to play with.
Jørgen Aune’s got an addiction to old-skool BMWs, big engines and big turbos. There was only one way his E21 project was going to turn out, and we love it… Words: Ben Koflach Pics: Arild Dyrkorn.
I’ve been interested in cars all my life,” explained 27-year-old Norwegian, Jørgen Aune. “I grew up on a farm, so I began to drive at 13 years of age on the fields. My first car was a Datsun 120Y that I owned with some buddies, but BMW has always been my favourite brand. My first BMW was an E21, which I shared with a friend. I fell in love with the six-cylinder noise and the E21’s looks.
“Then I had an E21 323i with an M30B35 engine, E30 M Tech interior, Brock B1 wheels and LSD. After that, I had an E30 325, into which I put an M106B35 turbo engine. I put a huge truck turbo on it and ran it with about 400bhp at the wheels through an E30 M3 dog-leg gearbox.
“I studied industrial mechanics, and this enabled me to make the turbo manifold and rebuild the intake, as well as make many other custom parts. A couple of cars later, I had an E30 again, this time with a S38B36. I decided to turbocharge it, so bought forged pistons and rods, as well as a Borg Warner S475 turbo. I made the intake plenum, turbo manifold and all the other custom parts required to make the engine fit myself. I also made the car into an M3 replica using only original BMW parts and painted it Daytona violet. It had 802hp at the wheels at its peak.”
Gulp… well, while some of us can claim to have messed around with various project cars in our time, Jørgen’s really got stuck in at the deep end since the start. With his fabrication and engine-building skills, as well as the fact that he now works in a bodyshop, you could say that he’s got all the areas covered. You could, in fact, say that his entire car history has built up to building his latest E21, which is one of the most comprehensive and best-looking first-gen Threes we’ve ever seen.
“I decided to build this E21 when I felt that the E30 M3 rep was done,” Jørgen told us. “I was either going to rip the E30 apart and rebuild it or sell it and use the money to build a new car. I wasn’t sure what I’d use as a new car, but the ’78 E21 320 sitting outside my garage did cross my mind – it was in very bad condition though, so I went to Kristiansund in October 2010 and bought this ’82 316 for 3000 kroner.”
Not one to waste time, Jørgen immediately set to work on his new project. “The car had been standing outside for around seven years, so the floorpan was rusty, as were the rear fenders and trunk,” Jørgen explained. “It really looked bad but was still better than the 320!” The first thing he did was strip the E21 right down to a bare shell, giving him a clean pallet to work from, as it were. Then he started to cut away the firewall and transmission tunnel to make space for the engine and gearbox. “The plan at first was to use an S38B36 turbo again, but I decided to go for the S54 when I found one very cheap,” he explained.
Having driven the somewhat front-heavy S38 E30, Jørgen was keen to make this project a little different, too. The engine was mocked-up in the engine bay, though placed 30cm further back than usual to even up weight distribution. This meant that he had to build a new firewall and gearbox tunnel to allow fitment of the chunky E39 530i gearbox he intended to use. Next up, he moved to the rear axle as with a target figure of 800bhp he needed something stronger to equip the E21 with. “I used the entire rear suspension from the E28 535,” Jørgen said. “Naturally it was too wide, but I narrowed the mounts to make it fit. E28s are 80mm wider at the back, so there was very limited space for wheels in the arches.”
Jørgen’s solution? He cut the rear arches out and then welded them back in with extra metal to make them 40mm wider on each side, resulting in him having enough room to run monstrous 10x17s out back if he wanted.
“The wheels were the first thing I bought when I started the project,” Jørgen revealed. “I like old-skool wheels and the AC wheels fit well on the E21.” We couldn’t agree more, and in 8.5x17” and 9.5x17”, with stretched tyres, they look absolutely spot-on. Having said that, since the shoot they’ve been sold. What will come next remains to be seen. Getting back to the car itself, if you’re somehow not impressed yet, then you’re about to be…
“For the front suspension I modified E34 M5 control and caster arms to fit the E21’s chassis.” Jørgen said. “I welded new brackets and mounting points to the body, all of which were raised up so that the geometry wouldn’t be affected; the plan was always to have a low car!” This level of forward thinking and clever fabrication is something we don’t often see – Jørgen’s entire E21 is a feast of details both above and below the skin. “I then bought an RHD E46 M3 steering rack. The E21 and E34 have the rack behind the wheels, whereas the E46 has it in front of the wheels – a left-hand drive E46 rack would have meant that I’d have reversed steering, so I mounted the RHD rack upside down!”
Completing Jørgen’s innovative and effective setup is a set of fully adjustable XYZ coilovers, which were actually designed for an E30 but have been custom-fitted to E34 M5 struts to tie in with the rest of the setup. The brakes are also from an E34 M5 – it really is a comprehensive setup, and is governed by an OBP bias-adjustable pedalbox, as well as the all-important hydraulic handbrake.
While the welder was out, Jørgen addressed the rotten parts of the boot floor and floorpan. He also fabricated a custom eight-point roll-cage, which not only triangulates to the front suspension turrets but is linked to the rear subframe and diff mounts, creating a seriously rigid and strong shell. The spare wheel well was removed, while everything was measured up and prepared, where necessary, for the pile of parts Jørgen was waiting to fit.
Before adding anything else, though, all of the sound-deadening and other clutter was stripped right back, meaning that a thick coat of stunning Space grey could be applied, both inside and out, having been prepped by Jørgen and his friend Per Egil Hendset, with Frode Øyane applying the paint. AC Schnitzer mirrors and an Alpina front lip were also dropped off at the painters, too. “Since I love the looks of E21 I didn’t want to put on much styling,” Jørgen pointed out.
With that completed, the E21 ready to be built back up into the spectacle that it now is. Beginning with the interior, thanks to that pedalbox and a custom steering column, Jørgen has been able to fit the seats nice and far back, assisting weight distribution and easing the fitment of parts around the custom bulkhead. The seats he opted for were Sparco buckets, which along with sixpoint harnesses and a Sabelt steering wheel make for a rather purposeful inside. The dashboard is the original E21 item, though the standard clocks have gone. In their place sits a neat sheet of aluminium with only the vital readings to ensure Jørgen knows the state of the engine’s vitals when attacking at full pelt.
In the boot you’ll find a 40-litre alloy fuel cell, along with a pair of Bosch 044 pumps and an Aeromotive filter, all designed for one thing: maximum performance. Which is just as well, considering the work Jørgen’s put in under the bonnet. As already mentioned, he’d managed to pick up an S54 nice and cheap, but there was no way it was going to stay anything like standard. “When I started the engine mods the plan was 800 horsepower at the wheels,” he grinned. “I built the engine myself. It took about a month. Once I’d received all the parts I needed the job was easy.”
The block itself has retained the standard 3.2-litre capacity, though understandably Jørgen saw it fit to upgrade the internals using forged Pauter rods and pistons from CP Pistons, which give a compression ratio of 9.0:1. ARP main studs finish the bottom end. The head also remains in standard specification, although it was completely overhauled and bolted down with ARP studs, too. The VANOS was blanked off with JAAS Performance plates. Even the original headgasket remains; it’s a real testament to just how strong the OEM components can be.
Where things have really been stepped up is in the gas flow in and out of that head. In case you didn’t guess, that lowered compression ratio isn’t just for the sake of it – it’s to allow huge amounts of forceinduced air into the cylinders. This comes courtesy of a sizeable Precision 7675 billet turbo, which is low-mounted on a custom JAAS Performance manifold. Out the back of the turbo is a custom JAAS 4” exhaust, while the intake tract goes from the turbo to a custom intercooler, which is actually quite well hidden in front of the radiator. From there the air is forced into a custom JAAS intake plenum. With all the crackle black powdercoating and the fact that Jørgen has chosen to retain the standard engine cover, it’s a surprisingly OEM-looking installation.
Managing the boost pressures comes down to a 75mm PPF dump valve and a 60mm PPF wastegate, while the fuelling is taken care of by huge 1680cc Bosch injectors as well as an Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, all linked up with neat AN8 lines and fittings. Governing the whole lot is a Elektromotive Tec GT standalone management system, while cooling has been left to an alloy radiator, electric water pump and electric fan.
“I’m very happy with the engine,” Jørgen said. “The only problem we had was the cam adjustments. The first time we had it on the dyno the powerband was terrible. But after a little adjustment together with Geir Haugen from Bjørnstad Cars we dyno’d it again and it was much better providing a wide powerband and peaks of 1000hp and 675lb ft of torque at the wheels at just 2 bar of boost! It blew my mind!”
There’s certainly one thing for sure – with the level of re-engineering and performance that this E21 boasts, it’s got to be one of the best in the world. In the pursuit of such lairy specifications it could have easily ended up looking like something from a horror movie, but with a clear love for the original 3 Series, Jørgen’s respect for simple styling and engineering, it’s become a real spectacle.
The interior may be built for purpose, but it looks really good, too!
A lot of work has gone into this E21, and it really shows…
Check out the spec list and you’ll see a number of parts on this E21 that were made by JAAS Performance. Well, you may be interested to hear that it is in fact the title under which Jørgen and his good friend Anders Skei operate. The pair fabricate all sorts of incredible components, as can be seen from Jørgen’s E21. Anders is a BMW fanatic too, as it happens, though he chose Toyota 2JZ power for his E34 M5. With 894bhp at the wheels, it’s no slouch!
I built the engine myself. It took about a month. Once I’d received all the parts the job was easy.
DATA FILE #BMW-E21 / #BMW / #BMW-E21-S54 / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #Elektromotive / #Bosch
ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54 , forged CP pistons for 9.0:1 compression ratio with heavy-duty wrist pins, forged #Pauter con rods, #ARP 119 headstuds, ARP 2000 main studs, original head overhauled, VANOS removed with JAAS Performance blanking plates, original head gasket, #Precision 7675 billet turbo, 60mm PPF wastegate, JAAS Performance custom turbo manifold and 4” exhaust, #JAAS-Performance custom intake plenum with 75mm #PPF dump valve, custom intercooler, #Elektromotive-Tec-GT engine management, Elektromotive ignition coils, #Moroso ignition leads, twin #Bosch-044 fuel pumps, Bosch 1680cc injectors, AN8 fuel lines and fittings, Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, Aeromotive fuel filter, 40-litre fuel cell, alloy radiator, electric water pump, electric fan, custom oil breather tank, S38B36 flywheel, custom engine mounts to move engine 30cm rearward
TRANSMISSION: E39 530i gearbox, adjustable short-shifter, #Tilton triple-plate clutch, custom gearbox mounts to move 30mm rearward, #JAAS custom propshaft, customised E28 535i rear axle and driveshafts, welded E23 745i diff with 2.91 final drive ratio
CHASSIS: #AC-Schnitzer-Type-1 Racing wheels, 8.5x17” front and 9.5x17” rear, 215/35 and 225/35 tyres respectively. Custom-mounted E28 535i rear arms and hubs, custom mounted E34 M5 front control and caster arms, lower suspension mounting points all raised 40mm, XYZ E30 coilovers (custom welded on to E34 M5 struts at front), flipped E46 M3 RHD steering rack, custom steering arms with M14 uniballs, E21/E10 hybrid steering column, polybushed throughout. E34 M5 brakes all-round using 315mm front discs and 300mm rear discs
EXTERIOR: Full respray in #BMW Space grey, rear arches widened 40mm each side, #Alpina front lip, #AC-Schnitzer wing mirrors, clear indicators all-round
INTERIOR: Firewall and gearbox tunnel custom made, spare wheel well removed, custom eight-point roll-cage including links to front turrets and rear subframe mounts, Sparco seats, SRS six-point harnesses, Sabelt steering wheel, OBP pedalbox with adjustable brake bias, hydraulic handbrake, all sound deadening removed and interior repainted BMW Space grey, original E21 dashboard with #Autometer gauges (tacometer, boost, oil pressure, oil temperature, water temperature)
THANKS: Anders Skie, Gunnar Heggset and Ole Buvarp for the wiring, Per Egil Hendset for his help with the prep work before paint, and Frode Øyane for the beautiful paintworkStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationROTOR PERDITION
There must be something in the water Down Under judging by this amazing turbo rotary-swapped E30. A lifetime of E30 obsession has led Ehsan Hazrati to build many insane projects. His latest project is stuffed with enough triangles to make Pythagoras weep, yet you’d never guess it from the outside. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Andrew Parliaros.
Now everybody from the 313, put your motherflippin’ hands up and follow me.” So spat Eminem in 8 Mile (kinda), allowing the previously unremarkable three-digit number a little screen time. Until this point, 313 had merely been a truncatable prime, Donald Duck’s registration number or, of course, the year in which Rome’s Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine was completed. But now, rather splendidly, we have a new function for the number 313. Even more aggressive than a riled-up Eminem, ladies and gentlemen, we present the E30 #BMW 313i.
I know, it doesn’t sound exciting when you put it like that, does it? But all is not as it seems here. True, the E30 harks back to an era when the boot badges did mostly relate to what was under the bonnet (a 318i was a 1.8, a 325i was a 2.5… you get the idea), so are we looking at an obscure variant with a 1.3-litre engine? And why would anyone want that?
Stick with the story, for your perceptions are about to be blown away in the most spectacular way possible. But first, let’s meet the man behind it. “My parents tell me that at the age of five I was drawing the round headlights and kidney grilles of the E30 BMW without really even knowing what it was,” says Ehsan Hazrati, the Sydneysider behind the steering wheel. “As I got older and got my licence, I had E30 after E30. I did all the modifications myself, from servicing to tuning, overhauling to suspension, bushings, sound systems etc. I did extensive research into E30 DTM race car suspension, brakes, and making them handle around corners at high speeds. I spent a lot of hours calculating and testing power-to-weight combinations, high RPM engines, and turbocharging power graph outputs. And a lot of trial-and-error!”
This, it’s pretty safe to say, is a man obsessed. After a long line of retro 3 Series, he finds himself today with three E30s making a nuisance of themselves on his driveway: a 900hp drag car that’s currently under construction; the family daily-driver four-door 316i that just happens to be running a 450hp Corvette LS1 V8; and the cheeky red number that’s splashed across these pages. This, for us, is the pick of the bunch – hence why it’s here – because, well, it’s just insane; not just the quality of finish and attention to detail but the fact that it’s running a Mazda rotary engine.
Aha. That cacophonous clanging is the sound of the penny dropping throughout the Drive-My readership. The 313i badge refers to the 13B rotary engine’s swept volume of 1308cc. Although, being a Wankel unit, you can’t really equate its displacement to that of a piston engine, its twin-654cc chambers aren’t even on nodding terms with a crank and- piston arrangement. But whichever way you cut it, this is a feisty manoeuvre. Ehsan’s opted for the 13B-REW variant, as found in twin-turbo form in the third generation RX-7, and it’s a bit of a cult icon.
It’s a bold play, but Ehsan has form with this sort of caper. His first three E30s may have enjoyed tweaked BMW four- and sixpots, but the fourth ended up with a 13B from a Mazda Cosmo, and it seems that this wacky experiment really flicked his switch, and he stuck with the formula. That part-built drag car we mentioned? That’s rocking rotors too. This fella just really digs triangles.
“From as long ago as I can remember, all I ever wanted was an old-school BMW,” he assures us. “I live by ‘classic not plastic’ and ‘built not bought’. The BMWs of this era represented great European design and true workmanship, and the last perfect lightweight rear-wheel drive chassis compared to the competitors – the KE Corolla, Mercedes 230E, Mazda RX-7 and so on – from that time.” You’ll note that he’s slipped a Mazda reference in there, though. Clearly a fusion was always on the cards – a greatest hits of the period, if you like. Well, it’s all subjective isn’t it?
“Yeah, I’ve always had a passion for E30s as well as for the lightweight, high-RPM feel of a turbo rotary engine,” Ehsan admits. “I had a picture in my head of what I wanted it to look and feel like; people from the E30 scene tend either to have a really clean slow-and-standard car or a roughened-up fast one. I wanted to build an all-rounder – a show-stopper that drops jaws but that could also be used as a street-legal weapon. Something I can take to the drag strip, run consistent ten-second passes on street tyres, then drive home and the next day go on an E30 club cruise to the beach, have it on display at a car show, and win trophies. This build was my total package.”
Blimey. Talk about your stereotypical Aussie confidence! There’s not a single element of that paragraph that isn’t writing a massive cheque, but thankfully Ehsan’s the sort of dude with the skills to cash it. And so it began. A project base was sourced from a guy who’d had the car slumbering in the shadows of his garage for around six years – all immaculate and original, and you’ll no doubt be impressed to learn that it’s still wearing its original factory Brilliantrot paint. The seller refused to let the car go before Ehsan promised to give the car a new lease of life, a good home and, most of all, not to crash it – after all, he’d owned it from new. Imagine what he must be thinking when he sees this feature! Good vibes, we hope.
Ehsan took it home, and immediately installed it in his garage for another dusty year-long slumber. You don’t want to rush these things, do you? Although he wasn’t dragging his heels by any means – our effervescent protagonist had been to see his friendly local engine builder.
“I did everything else on this car myself, but it was George and Rocky at PAC Performance Racing who built and ported the engine, and dyno tuned the car,” Ehsan explains. The motor is bridge-ported, and porting rotaries is something of a black art: a great way to get more power out of them is to effectively smash some holes into the intake side, although the more extreme the ports are, the more lairy and tricky the motor becomes.
Bridge-porting basically involves opening out the standard ports, then adding an additional eyebrow port above – it all gets a bit techy, but the short version is you get an amusing lumpy idle, oodles more power, and a hell of a lot of noise. Which is all good fun. “At the time of getting the engine built I was looking for around 400hp,” says Ehsan.
“It currently makes around 550rwhp at 7000rpm on 22psi, which is approximately 620hp at the engine… in a car weighing only 992kg! It’s safe-tuned at 22psi, although the engine is built for 35psi+, so there’s plenty more to come.”
The results really do speak for themselves, too. “It performed far better than expected,” Ehsan grins. “But the power band was so high, I went through axles like underwear. Obviously the factory axle broke but then it ate through a brand-new OEM 325i setup, Z3 M Coupé items, hybrid E30/E28 M5 units… then, after the Garrett GTX4088R turbo upgrade, it even chewed through custom 108mm 500hp Porsche billet axles!” The build is undoubtedly a bit of a monster, echoing those early years of trial-and-error to get it all running right, but you can see from the muscular spec box that Ehsan’s really pulled it all together neatly. And, of course, as the man himself was eager to tell us, this E30 is as much about show as go…
A very important marker for this build was to make it something of a sleeper – not totally stealthy but certainly not showing its hand too early. That mint-condition, 25-yearold paint certainly helps here, and Ehsan has had all manner of chuckles taking on Skyline GT-Rs and a kaleidoscope of Porsches who never saw it coming and didn’t see where it went. “There’s no modern paint colours here, no fibreglass body kits, no big wings screwed to the boot,” he says, with no small amount of satisfaction. “I kept it all factory – the only thing I added was a new OEM iS front apron lip, and M-Tech 1 boot spoiler. All genuine add-ons from the ’80s era!”
The wheels are an interesting choice too and no doubt gave some of you wheel nuts pause for though. They’re actually the third set of rims that the car’s enjoyed since completion; it started off on satin black Watanabes before moving onto BBS LMs with polished lips, but I think we can all agree that the 16” mesh wheels give it an appropriately period look that’s in keeping with that quasi-sleeper vibe.
This keenness for stealth carries over to the interior, too. “One of my rules is that there should be no extra gauges on top of the dash,” Ehsan asserts. “That would give the game away immediately. I replaced the trip computer with an eBoost2 gauge, and also utilised the E30 Alpina air vent digital dash idea, with an analogue boost gauge.” Stealth, as ever, is the watchword.
This is, by all measures, a phenomenal build – without a hint of hyperbole, one of the finest E30s to grace these pages in some time. And with that colossally powerful engine and pristine period exterior, what do you reckon is Ehsan’s favourite element of the project?
“Oh, it has to be my rear diff brace,” he grins. “I designed and patented it myself on a CAD programme, checking the stress tolerance points for maximum strength and so on, and it truly is a work of art. People at car shows see that and know this car means serious business; it’s not just a pretty show pony. That brace is what’s needed to consistently put six hundred horses to the ground on both street and track.” It’s impressive, but unsurprising, that his top pick would be a thing of pure function.
Ehsan’s proud to describe how the initial build of the whole car took just three months, but it was then a further 18 months of tweaking suspension heights, spring rates, diff ratios, tyre diameters, ET formula calculations, and axle and tailshaft options before it was all truly fit to get that phenomenal power down.
“What it is, basically, is a brand-new race engine in a retro shell,” he says, in a charming display of matter-of-factness. “People’s reactions at shows have been amazing – the looks on their faces when they found out what’s in there, and that it’s all street-legal. And next year – that’s when I’m going to be chasing to beat my personal best drag time. It ran a 10.86 at 120mph on the old turbo with 385rwhp on 225/50 street tyres. With the new GTX4088R and 550rwhp on 225/40 semislicks, I reckon it could run a 9.9.”
All very ambitious but you get the feeling that he’s got all of this precisely calculated. There’s no margin for error here, and that’s what the number 313 should henceforth represent. Forthrightness. Function.
Desirability. A new number-of-the-beast for the 21st century. And when you see those digits on the tail end of a shiny red E30, you’d better not dismiss it as a lesserengined also-ran – there’s hidden mischief here, and its furious anger makes Eminem look like a primary school teacher. Everybody from the 313, put your rotorflippin’ shafts up…
“I wanted to build an all-rounder – a show-stopper that drops jaws but that could also be used as a street-legal weapon”
Bridge-ported 13B rotary sports a massive #Garrett-GTX4088R turbo and makes 550rwhp.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-313i-E30 / #BMW-313i-Rotary-E30 / #BMW-313i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW /
ENGINE #13B-REW 2x654cc #Mazda-RX-7 / Mazda rotary, bridge-ported to PAC Racing specs, race doweled and balanced rotors, #PAC-Racing unbreakable apex/corner seals, #Power-Ported intake and ports, custom PAC Racing 13B turbo exhaust manifold, #Garrett GTX4088R turbo, Turbosmart 50mm ProGate wastegate, #Turbosmart 34mm dual port blow-off valve, #Turbosmart fuel pressure regulator, 3.5” dump pipe with full 3” exhaust and Rotaflow silencers, #Haltech PS2000 ECU and Haltech boost controller solenoid, custom fabricated engine mounts, custom dual-core PWR intercooler, PWR oil cooler, #PWR dual-core radiator, custom alloy radiator shroud and high #CFM-Engineering output 16” Spal fan, dual #Bosch-044 fuel pump, three litre surge tank and #Walbro primer pump, quad #Haltech LS1 ignition coils. 620hp at flywheel (542rwhp) at 22psi safe tune; engine built for 35psi+.
TRANSMISSION R154 Supra Turbo five-speed gearbox with aftermarket strengthened billet gearset and synchros, custom gearbox mounts, custom PAC billet bellhousing adapter, PAC RBR550 heavy-duty clutch and pressure plate, billet lightened flywheel, billet short-shifter with E30 DTM white Delrin nylon gear knob, custom Mark Williams 3” wall chromoly tailshaft with 1350-series Strange uni-joints.
CHASSIS 9x16” #BBS mesh wheels with 215/45 (front) and 255/45 (rear) #Kumho Ecsta tyres, custom 1000hp halfshaft axles with 120mm chromoly treated CVs and bearing cages, reinforced rear #BMW subframe and trailing arms, custom fabricated rear diff brace mount, E28 M5 diff with #Alpina finned diff cover, cryogenically strengthened and shot-peened crown and pinon, #OS-Giken Superlock shimmed 28-plate tightened LSD centre (85% lock), #AKG solid 75D subframe, trailing arms, control arm and diff mount bushing kit, Ireland Engineering heavy duty front and rear racing anti-roll bar kit with adjustable rose-joint links, custom 315mm front and rear brake kit with ADR/CAMS approved braided line throughout, OEM E32 740i brake master cylinder, modified #Z3M power steering rack with 2.7 lock-to-lock, solid billet alloy steering shaft coupler, 5/8” Mark Williams drag racing rear wheel studs, custom #Bilstein front coilovers and solid camber plates, heavy-duty rear Beehive King Springs, welded AKG anticamber squatting plates in rear trailing arms, Sparco 1.5” front and rear strut braces, Ultra Racing four-point lower crossmember reinforcement bar.
EXTERIOR 1990 325i two-door shell, original 25-year-old Brilliantrot paint, 318is lip spoiler, M Tech 1 boot spoiler, rolled and flared arches.
INTERIOR #MOMO Prototipo 350mm Retrotech steering wheel, E30 M3 black leather seats, #Sparco PRO2000 fixed driver’s seat, #Sparco fixed race seat rails, Sparco six-point 3” harness, #Autometer #Ultra-Light gauges, Turbosmart eBoost2 with 3x boost pre-set stages (street, track, drag racing), E46 M3 pedals, all sound/cavity deadening and heat shield removed, drilled-out circular holes behind doorcards, parcel tray, behind back seat and sunroof for weight reduction – total car weight 992kg.
THANKS George and Rocky at #PAC-Performance-Racing , Leon Sokalski at Performance Metalcraft, Mark Callinan at British European Motor Works, and my family and girlfriend for picking me up when I broke the CV axles on the street.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.