- Post is under moderationEvolution Not Revolution Gorgeous US E30 M3. There’s a purity to the E30 M3 that’s ensured a strong and devoted following over the years. But that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to tweak and refine them… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Jordan Unternaher.
High-end resto-modding is big business these days. We see it in all corners of the automotive world – Eagle will sell you a Jaguar E-Type, if your pockets are sufficiently deep, with better-than-new bodywork, classic looks, and thoroughly modern power, suspension and brakes. Singer will do the same for a Porsche 911, Icon offer a new-old Ford Bronco, it’s everywhere. Jensen Interceptors, Peugeot 205 GTIs, you name it.
The E30 we see here, however, is a slightly different interpretation of the timeworn resto-mod ethos. It hasn’t been stripped down to its component nuts and bolts in a hermetically sealed lab then rebuilt as a sort of retro-modern pastiche of its former self.
No, its owner, James Dallas of Ohio, has instead chosen to optimise and contemporise his iconic three-box 3 Series by following two distinct paths: firstly, to cherry pick the finest parts from the evolutionary E30 timeline, and secondly to bring all of that glorious power and tactility screaming into the 21st century. This, then, is an M3 re-imagined – a fulfilment of a cerebral vision, spirited into reality via the medium of methodical and careful planning. Like a chef who’s ever so precise about the measurements of their ingredients, this is proper less-is-more stuff.
An interesting approach, really, given how more-is-more the E30 M3 was in spirit in the first place. What’s key to remember is that time has mellowed the lines of this box-arched whippet; it’s no longer a hooligan bruiser, but a bona fide collectors’ item honed for B-road blasts and spirited forays into licence-losing velocity.
“I’ve been into BMWs forever, really,” says James. “I owe it all to my uncle Dennis for properly getting the obsession going - they are such amazing vehicles, and the drivability of the E30 is unprecedented; a true driver’s car. The first BMW I bought was actually a 1998 M3 sedan,” he continues. “It offers the best bang for your buck, hands down! Simple as that.” This practical everyday-superhero still sits on the Dallas driveway, but it’s the older upstart that’s drawing all the attention today. James had dabbled in modifying the newer car with uprated suspension, Dinan parts and basic bolt-ons, but the acquisition of this poster-boy of homologation allowed the scales to fall from his eyes as he began to view BMW ownership in a fresh light. Well, not so much ownership, not any more – call it curatorship.
“It’s the true benchmark of the M3 family,” he enthuses, “the way it connects you to the road and really makes you drive the thing is something you just can’t experience in newer cars. It’s also the one car that I’ve genuinely always wanted to own - the body lines are something we’ll never see the like of again.” He’s right; it is impressive how the reworked E30 transformed the svelte everyday saloon into something pumped-up and muscular. It’s worth remembering just how many body panels were junked from the standard car by BMW M to create this near-mythical beast.
“This M3 originally came from the East Coast – New Jersey, I think,” says James. “I actually purchased it from California – I’d say the condition was fair-to-good at that time. And yes, I definitely had a plan in mind for the car right from the start; I knew the exact wheels I wanted, the overall style…
I’ve always enjoyed the look and excitement of the old DTM cars, so that was definitely a major influence and a huge inspiration.” First things first, though – these have always been function-over-form cars, it’s just a happy coincidence that they happen to look frickin’ awesome, so James’s first job was to ensure that the oily bits were all just so. That iconic S14 engine (employing just four cylinders, chosen because it was small and light, but more than happy to make mincemeat of contemporary six-pots) was lovingly torn to bits and fully refreshed: all-new OEM parts - the thermostat, belts, plug wires, and then came the addition of cams, head studs, and a Turner chip to imbue a fresh sense of urgency. Any S14 is a good S14, but one that’s operating as-new and then a little bit more is very much a thing to aspire to. Stay in school, kids – these things can be yours… “I didn’t really run into any problems, but it was a long and tedious process to say the least,” he recalls with a grimace. “There was a lot of sourcing BMW factory parts. A lot!”
One area that will definitely stick in the craw of the purists is the suspension, as many will argue that there’s not a damn thing wrong with the stock setup. But in the spirit of resto-modding, James was keen to make sure that the handling matched the power in a thoroughly modern sense, and that’s the reason why you’ll find a set of high-end Ground Control coilovers nestling perkily beneath those lantern-jawed arches. “I felt it was the best overall choice for response and handling for the car,” he shrugs. And it’s his motor, so what he says goes.
The styling is what’s really interesting here, as it eagerly feeds that whole overarching less-is-more ethos with a keen sense of the historic timeline of the E30 M3’s evolution. You see, the timeline in a nutshell (heavily edited, as we don’t have space to chew over the full history here) is that the model arrived in early 1986 in Europe – America had to wait another year – and it immediately embarked upon a programme of constant reinvention. The M3 Evolution arrived in 1987, rocking a revised cylinder head, and then 1988’s Evolution II knocked things up a notch with all sorts of engine upgrades – compression ratio, intake, management, all sorts. It also had thinner glass, a deeper front airdam, an additional rear lip spoiler and lighter bumpers.
Befuddlingly, the Evo II is generally referred to as the M3 Evolution as BMW didn’t recognize the original M3 ‘Evo’ as sufficiently different to merit a different name.
Confused? Try the subsequent Evolution III then, which was actually the Sport Evolution – this #1989 model had further extensive engine upgrades along with adjustable front and rear spoilers, lower suspension and wider wings…
But let’s not get bogged down in history, or nitpicking, we don’t need to discuss the minutiae of the Tour de Corse, Europameister, Cecotto or Ravaglia editions here. Suffice it to say that James had read up on his history and carefully chosen the best bits from each of these evolutionary steps to turn his E30 into what he deemed to be perfect: the Evolution II front lip, the adjustable Sport Evo rear spoiler, the Evo air box, the Evo II steering wheel – subtle differences, probably only noticeable to true E30 nerds, but vital stuff nonetheless. It’s this dedication to geekery that really makes the build pop.
“It was always going to have BBS RS wheels,” says James. “Truly, I feel they are the best period-correct wheel for this vehicle, and I think they look fantastic. It fits perfectly with the old-school DTM look I was going for. I didn’t want to change anything with the interior though, as the M3 has the Cardinal carpets, which are pretty rare, so I left it factory. Just freshened it up, cleaned and re-bolstered the front seats.”
A few further modifications were carefully stirred into the mix over the course of the eighteen-month resto-mod exercise, in the form of a short-shifter and a tighter Z3 steering rack, and James’s favourite upgrade of them all is the diff: “I swapped in a 4.27 LSD, and I love it,” he smiles. “It gives you that immediate response as you come out of a turn or as soon as you hit the gas.”
And that’s the point of an E30 M3, isn’t it? Immediate response, granular feedback, the synthesis of man and machine working harmoniously as one. Sure, this example might have concours judges turning up their stuffy noses, but they’re not the ones driving it. James’s modern reinterpretation of this iconic and dreamlike car is pretty much spot-on – less-is-more, and at the same time utterly outrageous.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BBS / #BMW-M3-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-M3
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.3-litre four-cylinder #S14B23 / #S14 / #BMW-S14 , #Eisenmann exhaust system with DTM tips, #Evolution air box, #Turner chip, #Schrick cams. Five-speed manual gearbox, 4.27 LSD
CHASSIS 8x16” (front) and 8.5x16” (rear) #BBS-RS wheels with 255/40 (front and rear) BF Goodrich tyres, Ground Control coilovers, Ground Control camber plates, cross-drilled discs, Z3 steering rack
EXTERIOR Salmon silver paint, Evo II front lip, Sport Evo rear spoiler
INTERIOR Original Cardinal Red interior, Evo II steering wheel
THANKS First and foremost, my uncle Dennis. Also, Cam Peugh, Ian Simon, Robert Santen, Chris Balich, and Brian from Mworks for helping refinish the RSsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTOP BANANA 1.8T-powered euro-look mk3
/ #VW-Golf-III / #VW-Golf-Mk3 / #VW-Golf-Mk-III / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk3 / #Volkswagen-Golf-III / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf-1.8T-Mk3 / #Volkswagen-Golf-1.8T-III / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf-1.8T-Mk-III / #VW-Golf-1.8T / #VW-Golf-1.8T-Mk3 / #VW / #Volkswagen-Golf-Bi-Turbo / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-Bi-Turbo-Mk3
Big-turbo Mk3 runs US-spec bumpers, air-ride, full cage and stripped interior. Words: Daniel Bevis Pics: Patrick Hille For Mitch van Werven, the act of building his dream car has been a life-altering journey of friendship and inspiration. And not just life-altering – this unmissably yellow GTI has some mind-altering properties too…
If we’re to believe the late- 1960s Donovan song Mellow Yellow, it’s possible to get high on bananadine. This is, of course, nonsense – you can no more experience a psychotropic buzz with a banana than you can brush your teeth with it or use it to hammer an IKEA wardrobe together.
A hoax recipe for bananadine was published in the Berkeley Barb, an underground counterculture newsletter in California, in 1967; it detailed how it was possible to extract a psychoactive substance from banana skins, which you could then smoke to achieve LSDlike effects. This gained some credence when William Powell, who thought it was true, reproduced it in The Anarchist Cookbook in 1970. In fact, the original feature in the Barb was a satirical piece questioning the ethics of criminalising psychoactive drugs; smoking banana skins may create a placebo high at best, but there’s no scientific reason why you could actually get stoned on bananas. You can’t.
That said, there must be some manner of mind-altering substance swirling around the city of Lochem that’s enabled the coming-to-life of this trippy little Golf. Lochem’s in the Netherlands, and we’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions there; suffice to say that this is one Mk3 Golf that dabbles in the more colourful fringes of our everyday perceptions of reality.
Still, we’d never suggest that this car’s owner, Mitch van Werven, was under the influence of anything beyond strong coffee and a pocketful of dreams throughout the Golf’s reinvention; indeed, the evidence seems to suggest that he’s singularly focused on automotive mischief rather than anything chemical. “Why spend so much time, money and energy on a car?” he grins. “Because we can, and we enjoy it very much. Some people go to the club, we go to the garage and build our dream cars.”
Stirring sentiments indeed, and the inclusive ‘we’ here refers to a disparate but close cast of characters who feature strongly in Mitch’s own everyday interpretation of garage life; Bernd, Joran, Stevie, Roberto, Thomas, Mike, Martijn, these are the personalities who’ve helped our protagonist mould and shape his vision from questionable base to yellow dream machine. “I bought this car when I was sixteen, back in 2009,” Mitch explains. “Back then I was working at a garage and this Golf arrived in part-exchange – a #1996 GTI 16v. I saw it, and immediately called my dad to say ‘I want this car!’ It had been really well used – 266,000 kms on the clock and plenty of rust, but I think the Mk3 is the best model of Golf. The original Dusty Mauve paint was bad, too, but it was an all-original, three-door GTI 16v, so I just had to have it.”
As tales of first cars go, it’s not a bad one – so often it’s the case that the best first car in people’s minds is ‘any car – literally any car’, but Mitch is clearly a man of principle and ambition. “The car owns me, not the other way around,” he laughs. “It’s taken years to get it to this point, and it’s not finished – project cars never are, are they? And having started the transformation back in 2010, it’s come a long way.” He’s not kidding. You’d certainly never look at the car and think ‘high-mileage rust bucket’ these days. What about that colour, then? Swapping purple for yellow is a proper Art Attack move. “Yeah, I’m not telling you what the paint code is,” Mitch smirks. “I wanted to have a colour that you don't see very often. Most cars nowadays seem to be blue, grey or black, so I chose a bright shade. Also, I just like yellow…”
Naturally there was quite a lot of work involved in shuffling the various skeletons in the Golf’s closet before it was ready for paint. The first job on commencing the project was to totally strip the car down to see what was what, then stalk through the thing with lethal force, like some kind of enraged sniper, mercilessly eradicating corrosion and letting in new metal to cover the tracks. While this was going on, Mitch and his crew also removed everything superfluous from the car, following an over-arching ideal of exploiting power-to-weight ratios once the thing was completed. The Mk3 Golf is by no means a lard arse, but there are always savings to be made. A gram here, a gram there, it makes a difference. And we’re not just talking about the bananadine here.
“I made the choice of which engine I wanted, and once I’d settled on the 20vT I went out looking for one,” Mitch recalls. “With some happiness I found another Mk3 that had already been 20VT-swapped, so I bought that as a donor, stripping it completely and selling everything I didn’t need.” The finished product in that shiny bay wears a Garrett GT28 turbo along with some fairly racy manifolds and a #Kdata #kdFi ECU to keep everything humming. And with the shell prepped and the engine spec’d, that sunglass-baiting paint shade entered the fray. “After the car came back from the paint shop, the fun could really start,” he says. “First we built the engine in the car and made it all work, then took it back out again to clean everything – and let me tell you that was a lot of work! The cleaning alone took over three-hundred hours.” And when he says ‘cleaning’, we’re not talking about a duster and a can of Pledge here – take a look at the fastidiously shaved, smoothed and slippery engine bay.
You could challenge a passerby to wedge a toothpick in there and they’d be confounded for hours. You could drop a handful of toothpicks over the motor and every single one of them would make it down to the garage floor.
“Together with my best friend Bernd, we put the car back together,” Mitch continues. “We drove across the whole country for parts; this was almost the best part of build, being with my bro, having fun and getting new stuff for the Golf. After we had collected everything we needed, we started really putting the car together and piece-by-piece it blossomed. Every step brought us closer to the final result, and after years of hard work we could finally do some shows. Last year was the best year for us – the car got a ‘Best in Show’, the offer of a PVW feature and a place on display at the Essen Motor Show. This was the point when we said to each other, ‘Yay, we did it’!”
From the genesis of the idea right to the very end, Mitch’s buddies were deeply ingrained in the process, and it’s this communal all-in-it-togetherness that made the build so memorable. Not that there is an ‘end’ of course, not really – he’s already talking about air-ride, new seats, another yellow repaint, and some serious engine mods too.
“I can’t honestly say I had a clear idea in my head of how this would turn out, back when I was sixteen,” he admits. “Sure, I had a lot of ideas, but I never thought I’d achieve this unique look.” Indeed, the project today sports a variety of disparate styling cues from across the scene; our American cousins lent some inspiration in the form of their bumpers and wings, while the Jetta nose is a nod to the old-school stables that are mirrored in the choice of BBS RS rims.
The fact that it sits this low on coilovers rather than ’bags assures credibility and bravado points, and the interior really is something else: that Wiechers ’cage in particular is a shimmering manifestation of the scaffolders’ art, brutally complex and frighteningly purposeful.
“I was influenced a lot by other Mk3s on the internet, but also just by mine and Bernd’s keenness to try out our own ideas,” says Mitch. “I guess I’d describe it as OEM+ with a race-car influence, but it’s its own thing, really. And the reactions it gets now are crazy; I like to take it out for a drive with my girlfriend over some nice roads, and the feeling of doing that in your dream car is cool, but then when you arrive at a show and people are coming over and saying they love the car – it’s the best feeling. I can honestly say that building this Golf was the best time of my life.” And we can tell by the sparkle in his eye that this isn’t just the bananas talking – this guy’s tripping off his little box on Wolfsburg dreams, and that kind of thing is thoroughly addictive.
With bright yellow paint, side markers and shiny BBS, Mitch's Mk3 has more than a hint of the US scene.
Left: Look closer at the weave and you realise this is indeed the real deal. Below: With 742bhp on tap no wonder Andreas is happy!
HKS Turbo Timer times the turbo and ensures all turbo related things are kept in time. Like the speaking clock.
Hardcore Wiechers Sport roll cage is not messing about is it?
Dub Details / #Garrett / #BBS-RS / #BBS /
ENGINE: #Rebuilt-1.8T 20v with #Garrett-GT28 turbo, rear-mounted exhaust manifold with 3” downpipe, H-profile conrods, kdFi V3 ECU, #Ross-Machine-Racing intake manifold, battery relocated to rear, six-speed manual
CHASSIS: 17” #BBS-RS-320 (front) and 17” #BBS-RS-350 (rear) with 185/35 Nankang NS-2 tyres. #Weitec-Hicon-TX-Plus coilovers and Audi S3 312mm front brakes
EXTERIOR: Secret yellow paintwork, US bumpers and wings, Jetta front conversion, ‘cleaned’ boot, smoked tails, shaved bay
INTERIOR: Stripped and painted, custom Wiechers Sport roll cage, Cobra Monaco Pro seats, Schroth harnesses, #HKS turbo timer
SHOUT: Bernd Nijdam, Joran Meijerink, Stevie van der Vaart, Roberto Polo, Thomas Kevelham, Mike Temminck, Martijn Maat – thanks to these guys, without them the car would never be completed
“I guess I’d describe it as OEM+ with a race-car influence, but it’s its own thing, really. And the reactions it gets now are crazy"
“Most people assume it’s a 3M wrap so it’s always good fun to invite them to take a closer look…”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ #S14-swapped / #BMW-2002 . In the wastelands of postapocalyptic Sweden, one man and his extraordinary 2002 fight for survival amidst the ruins of civilisation… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Patrik Karlsson.
Supercharged S14 2002 rat rod
The future. Mankind has destroyed itself. The earth is barren. Pockets of survivors remain, scattered across the globe. They travel the desolate landscapes of a ruined world they once knew in search of food and shelter, driving machines created from the scavenged remains of cars from the past. In the charred remains of postapocalyptic Sweden the silence is broken only by the howl of the wind and the whine of a supercharger. A flash of orange through the trees. The bark of an exhaust drifting across the ravaged landscape. Then, the smoke parts, and something ungodly and terrifying thunders across the lonely tarmac, a man at the wheel with fi re in his eyes, and then it’s gone as quickly as it appeared and all is silent once more. That man is Thomas Nyman. This is his 2002. This is their story.
You will already know if this is your sort of car. You will have looked at the pictures and made a decision about whether or not you want to read this feature. You don’t need us to tell you that it’s not for everyone, but we will anyway, because it’s really not. For some of you, this might be the greatest crime ever committed against BMWs. Even those of you who normally love this sort of anarchic approach to modifying might be struggling a little. But if you get, really get it, you’re about to enjoy a car that’s really unlike anything else out there.
Browsing his automotive history, it’s clear that Thomas is a man who is obsessed with cars, to put it mildly… “I have owned and worked with several cars in my short life (he’s only 28) and right now I have nearly 100 vehicles on my conscience.” 100 cars. What can you even say to that? Unsurprisingly there have been some wild builds in amongst that lot and a huge variety of machinery, from the 1974 Beetle that served as his first car, to his first #BMW , a 1988 E34 530i, and the car he never finished and still regrets selling. “It was an E12 528i from 1978, light green with a #BBS front spoiler and chrome bumpers, ” Thomas reminisces. “I bought an S38B36 M5 engine that I rebuilt and was going to fi t in the car, and my vision was to build a 100% sleeper with perfect patina. But I was young and impulsive so the car was sold before it was done…” In that case it may have worked against him but, in the case of this 2002, his impulsive nature was definitely on his side.
“I knew about this car for a long time, a friend of the owner had told me about it, and one day in spring of 2010 the owner himself came walking past the garage I rented in the city at the time. I asked him if he wanted to sell the car, and he said yes, so we actually walked over to his garage together to take a look at it then and there. It was in terrible shape at the time; it had been standing outside with smashed windows so the weather had caused some very big rust holes in the body and many parts were missing, like the engine, gearbox, rear axle, the whole interior and the windows. The next day I picked the car up and put it in my garage instead,” grins Thomas. On paper this project sounds like a nightmare and the sort of car that no one in their right mind would have dreamed of touching, which does make us wonder about Thomas’ mental state…
The initial plan, he says, was to make the whole body rusty and give it even more of a rat-look than it’s ended up with, but he realised he couldn’t bring himself to do it. “My conscience became too strong,” he says, “and I felt I could not destroy an historic collector’s car that the 2002 Tii really is today, which is way I kept the original paint.”
So if you don’t like how this car looks now, just bear in mind that it could have looked a whole lot worse… “Our first goal was to get the car finished in one month for an event so we welded and fixed all the rust on the undercarriage in three weeks and fixed what we needed to so it was actually road legal. Then, after that, the whole thing escalated,” he says, and he’s not wrong.
With the decision made to continue down the rat route, Thomas got stuck into the mods and set about getting some stiffer springs, cutting them down by about 50% to get the car down on the ground, and combined them with a set of Bilstein Sport shocks. This was followed by the addition of the four wonderfully retro Marchal driving lights mounted on the front bumper and then came the roof rack, filled with what Thomas describes as “curiosities,” which include an S14 air box and valve cover and an old suitcase, naturally. The four-speed gearbox was swapped out for a five-speed Getrag ’box from an early 5 Series and he also changed the exhaust, both mods carried out specifically for a road trip to southern Sweden and Denmark. Then the time came for the serious business of building that engine…
“I think my vision was to do something no one had done before,” muses Thomas. “You’re probably wondering why I chose the S14 out of an E30 M3, and I’m wondering the same thing! I thought that this engine will fit well in the car and would probably get many types of reactions from people and BMW enthusiasts,” and he’s certainly right about that. “Initially I thought that I would just fit the engine and leave it at that, but then I started thinking about it and decided to add a supercharger on top to ensure that I was doing something new and different,” he grins. The supercharger is a rebuilt GMC 471 positive displacement Roots unit from the 1940s but impressive as it looks, there’s a lot more going on with this engine than meets the eye, and it’s the reason why the build took him one and a half years rather than six months (little more than a Swedish winter, he says) as he’d originally anticipated.
There’s a special head gasket and ARP head bolts for the cylinder head, four Siemens 688cc injectors fed by a Nuke fuel rail while the supercharger itself is cooled and lubricated by a water/ethanol system using a Bosch 988cc injector. The blower itself sits on a custom 4mm steel intake manifold and there’s a custom exhaust manifold connected up to a custom 3” stainless steel exhaust with three silencers, though Thomas says that they really don’t do much silencing. Peer into the 2002’s engine bay and you will notice a small problem: there’s no room for a radiator, which is kind of important if you want to have a fully functioning engine.
The solution? Stick all the cooling gubbins in the boot, which is exactly what Thomas has done, building a custom cooling system consisting of an electric water pump, cooling fan and a massive aluminium rad, which sits in a custom housing that seals tightly up against, and is fed cooling air by, the louvred boot lid. The boot is also where you’ll find the aluminium fuel cell with an Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump located inside, and assorted fuel supply components. As you can see, it’s a comprehensive engine build, but it almost put Thomas off the car altogether. “After one and a half years of building the engine, I was so tired of this car and the project,” he sighs. “If I had been younger at the time, the car probably would have ended up being sold, just like my E12 project. But then I fired it up and rolled out of the garage for the first time and I was totally in love again! I cannot describe the feelings I had on the first test-drive…” he says with a massive grin.
Along with the aforementioned five-speed gearbox swap, Thomas has strengthened the drivetrain to be able to deal with all the power and torque being put through it by the S14 and supercharger combo, fitting an uprated clutch and homemade cardan shaft. The rear axle is a custom affair, constructed from a concoction of various different BMW components. “The original axle didn’t last long so I decided to build a bullet-proof one,” explains Thomas. “I took the 3.07 diff and joints from an E34 535i and ordered custom shafts made from spring steel and the hubs are also made from special steel. I made the wishbones thicker by adding 2mm of steel to every area and on top of this I also deleted the bushes between the body and the axle.” The brakes, meanwhile, are from a 2002 Turbo, with larger, vented discs up front and bigger 250mm drums at the rear.
As far as styling is concerned, Thomas has definitely stayed true to his original rat rod vision and while he may not have taken things quite as far as he originally planned, aside from the welding and repairs required to get the 2002 road worthy in the first place, the exterior has received no special attention. This makes the fact that the original Inca orange paint, where rust or repairs haven’t obscured it at least, remains as bright and vibrant as ever all the more impressive. If you’ve made it this far without choking on whatever you might be currently eating or drinking then Thomas’ wheels might just push you over the edge…
“I decided to go for BBS RS splits,” he says, gleefully, “because these are very expensive wheels today for those of us who collect and drive ’70s cars. The ones I have are in very bad shape, with loads of scuffs and scrapes all over them, so they’re a perfect match for the car!” As for the interior, it’s also a perfect match for the exterior and, just like the rest of the car, looks like it’s just about survived the apocalypse; the 2002 Turbo seats that he’s fitted are torn, a bank of auxiliary gauges juts up against the centre console, while the massive gear lever was chosen as it resembles an old tool.
So, there you have it. We’re not really sure what to say. We could definitely do with a sit down and a cup of tea after that. One thing we’d like to think is that, despite how Thomas’ 2002 might make you feel, you can at least summon some modicum of admiration or respect for what he’s created because he really has put so much into this car, and proved a lot of people wrong along the way. “The engine is my favourite part of the whole build because no one believed in my project and told me that this engine would never run, but they were wrong!” he exclaims with a smile. “I’m also really pleased that I managed to fit my homemade rear axle without cutting the body. The ‘experts’ told me there was no chance in hell it would work because they had ‘tested’ it without success, but I proved that it could be done.”
If you think that, after pouring so much time and effort into this 2002 over so many years, he’s done with it, you’re really rather wrong as there’s a lot more to come. “I bought the car in 2010 and I’m still not finished; it’s 2017 now, right?” he laughs. “My next plan is to build an air-ride system for it and I also need to build a new exhaust system as well as a new intake with a front-mount intercooler to get the intake temperatures down, then new wiring inside the car, maybe a new ECU. I’m also thinking about a mounting a turbo under the rear bumper…” But Thomas doesn’t finish his sentence. The light is fading and, if there’s one thing we all know, it’s that you don’t want to be caught outside at night after an apocalypse because that’s when the “things” come out of hiding… Thomas fires up the 2002 and, just like that, he’s gone, tail lights fading into the twilight, supercharger howling, S14 roaring, headed for the security of his bunker, safe in the knowledge that he lives to mod another day.
DATA FILE DATA FILE #Supercharged-S14 / #BMW-2002-Rat-Rod / #BMW-2002 / #BMW-2002-S14 / #BMW / rebuilt 1940s #GMC 471 Roots supercharger / #BMW-2002-E10 / #BMW-E10
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.3-litre four-cylinder #S14B23 / #S14 / #BMW-S14 from 1988 E30 M3, rebuilt 1940s / #GMC / #GMC-471 / #Roots-supercharger, custom 4mm steel intake manifold, special head gasket, #ARP cylinder head bolts, #Aeromotive #A1000 fuel pump, aluminium fuel cell, #Nuke fuel rail, 4x #Siemens 688cc injectors, water/ethanol cooling system for supercharger with #Bosch 988cc injector for cooling and lubrication, #Nira-ECU, custom 3.6mm steel exhaust manifold, custom 3” stainless steel exhaust with three silencers, custom cooling system in boot with electric water pump, cooling fan and aluminium radiator. Five-speed #Getrag gearbox, uprated clutch, custom cardan shaft, custom rear axle with E3 2500 and E28 535i components, E34 535i 3.07 diff and joints, custom driveshafts
CHASSIS 15” (front and rear) / #BBS / #BBS-RS three-piece wheels with 195/50 (front and rear) tyres, stiffer springs cut by 50%, #Bilstein dampers, BMW Turbo brakes with vented discs (front) and 250mm drums (rear), thicker rear wishbones, bushes between body and axle removed
EXTERIOR Original Inca orange paint, Marchal driving lights, roof rack, green louvred boot lid, extra rear light
INTERIOR 2002 Turbo seats, auxiliary gauge pod, old toolstyle gear lever, custom short-shift
THANKS To everyone that did not believe in this project, it only made me more determined to complete it and get the car running again, and also thanks to everyone who helped me with the car over the years
“decided to add a supercharger to ensure that I was doing something new and different”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSIZE MATTERS
A period-styled early-’90s E30 is a very desirable thing these days. So what happens if you exaggerate all of the details just a little bit? Ernie Hofstetter is the man to ask… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Anna Taylor.
/ #BMW-E30-M50-swapped / #BMW-E30-Cab / #M50-swapped
Exaggeration, despite what your teachers at school told you, is nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed, it can be helpful in getting ahead in life to artfully embellish and subtly big up the finer points of your character and achievements, to massage the salient facts into something more colourful. Doesn’t hurt anybody, does it?
Ernie Hofstetter is a man who appreciates the nuances of this sort of behaviour. We’re not saying he’s a show off, of course – not by any means. But he’s reached the stage in his life when he’s seen a few automotive scenes come and go, ebb and flow, and he’s been taking notes all the way through. And here, with this E30, we find his meisterwerk; the physical manifestation of his years of careful observation, made real in glorious style. He’s taken the archetypal retro #BMW convertible, made it look sort of like a spec’d-up period example, but cunningly exaggerated the details. Thanks to this carefully thoughtthrough approach, the car’s almost like a cartoon – it looks like it would have done rolling through his hometown of Howell, New Jersey back in 1991, but something’s different… it’s lower, broader, meaner, more aggressive. Those subtle small details have added up to a mighty whole.
“Back when I was 18, I thought these E30s were the coolest thing,” Ernie remembers. “When the time came around decades later that I wanted a fun car, that model immediately came to mind. Throughout the years my cars have always been modified – one of my favourites was my 2006 Lincoln Mark LT pick-up truck – but this a bit different. I’ve always been interested in BMWs, it’s a quality European driving machine, so it was the clear choice this time.”
Ernie happily admits that he didn’t have a distinct plan for the car when he first got hold of it, and was willing to let inspiration be his guide. The cabriolet was found for sale in Philadelphia, and was in reasonable condition – not amazing and certainly not up to Ernie’s high standard but, of course, it was never the intention to buy someone else’s project. He wanted to create something unique of his very own: “Let the modding begin,” he mischievously grins.
The first area that was primed for exaggeration was the big oily bit under the bonnet. While M20 motors have their merits, Ernie wanted to go harder, better, faster, stronger, and the way to achieve this was to swap the thing out for the rather mightier choice of the M50. Specifically, an #M50B25 : the 2.5-litre #straight-six that you’d normally find powering an E36 325i. “The M20 was boring and ugly,” he says, somewhat mercilessly, “and the M50 is much cleaner and sleeker. Any non-essential parts were removed from the engine bay, along with any unnecessary brackets and so on, to make it all look as clean as possible; the battery was relocated to the boot to help with this too. I uprated the cooling system with a Mishimoto radiator and a Spal fan, and the exhaust system consists of ceramic-coated exhaust manifolds with heat wrap, a Borla mid-section and a Vibrant muffler – all custom, of course!
The car also started off as an automatic, but we couldn’t have that so it’s been swapped to a manual Getrag 260 five-speed transmission, with a Z3 shifter and aluminium shift carrier.”
A pretty comprehensive transformation, you’ll surely agree, but Ernie was just getting started. Having substantially beefed up the muscularity of the old drop-top, neatly morphing it from cruiser to bruiser, it was time to address the question of altitude.
Now, Ernie’s seen a thing or two, as we said, so he’s observed the stance scene evolving from grass roots to comparative mainstream. However, while air-ride has been around since World War II, its presence at the forefront of custom car culture is a relatively recent thing; back when our man was a teenager, the way to get your ride hopping was to slam in some hydros. So is that what Ernie’s opted for here? Not quite… you see, that exaggeration factor has come into play again. “I’ve always had the need to go lower,” he explains (note that he uses the word ‘need’ – that’ll no doubt be familiar to a number of you. This isn’t just playing, it’s a lifestyle). “The only thing that could satisfy me with this project was air suspension. So now the car has a full Air Lift system, with 3P management, rolling sleeves up front and Slamit Industries bags in the rear with Bilstein shocks. I custom-painted the airtank in the trunk, which gives a good supply of air at all times!” Well, that’s good to hear.
The next logical step was to put some thought into the wheels. No good slamming the thing over a set of weedy stock steels, right? So Ernie bolted on some 17” rims from iForged… but then he quickly changed his mind. The period style of the early Nineties was calling, and he found himself drawn toward the timeless charms of the BBS RS, knocking the diameter down an inch but beefing up the girth to amusing degrees: these things are 7.5” wide at the front, 8.5” out back, and the way it sits is so aggressively juicy that it almost makes your eyes water. Imagine an automotive cartoonist in the early 1990s sketching up a BBS-shod E30, slamming it to the ground with improbable lows – that’s the look Ernie’s achieved in real life. Once again, it’s a masterstroke of considered exaggeration. “Whatever happened to the car, I wanted it to be as clean as possible,” he assures us.
“The small details count to me. So this car was a real labour of love! The bulk of it was actually built by Michael Hockman, who is a legend in the E30 community, and has now become a great friend of mine. But all the fine finishing work was done by me, with great pride, as well as some talented people: Levent from Guten Parts, Andrew from Open Road Tuning, Rich from County Line Auto Body, and of course my fantastic wife Michelle who has the patience of a saint!”
What’s clear as Ernie talks us through the detail points of the car is that this sits somewhere on the mid-point of the scale between evolution and revolution; some of the changes he’s made are pretty extreme, and yet the whole ethos of the thing is to consider a period build and artistically amp it up for a 21st century audience. Take the treatment of the interior: “I wanted the insides to be as stock as possible, but I still wanted the modern amenities,” he says. “So that meant an AV audio receiver, iPod interface, reversing camera, satellite radio, navigation – all of the things that make it more comfortable.” And that’s exactly what we find in there, all subtly and tastefully integrated into the old-skool vibe. It certainly helps that work like this is his bread-and-butter, being a salesman of stereo and security systems for cars as well as all manner of bolt-on performance gizmos, and this E30 ’vert is a solid manifestation of his skills as well as his aspirations.
“It took a good six months to get the car to a quality I was happy with,” Ernie explains. “But there’s always fine-tuning going on – they’re never really finished, are they?” Well, no, he’s hit the nail on the head there. We always find new things to fiddle with. And when you’ve been observing the scene for as long as Ernie has, your mind can’t help but be constantly swimming with fresh ideas and new things to try. So this E30 is bound to change in the near future – possibly unrecognisably – but in this cheery little snapshot of the here-and-now, it’s pretty much perfect. An early-Nineties style convertible, with all the details cleverly exaggerated to turn it into a thoroughly modern creation.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E30-M50 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i-E30-M50 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-325i-Cabriolet / #BMW-325i-Cabriolet-E30 / #Getrag / #Viair / #BMW-E30-Air-Lift
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M50B25TU / #M50 / #BMW-M50 / #M50B25 from E36 325i, #Mishimoto radiator, Spal 16” fan, battery relocated to boot, #Raceskids skid plate, 318i harness cover, ceramic-coated headers with heat wrap, custom Y-pipe, #Borla mid-pipe and #Vibrant rear box with 2.5” piping, shaved and wire-tucked bay, #Getrag-260 five-speed conversion, custom transmission brace, Z3 shifter, aluminium shift carrier, 3.73 LSD
CHASSIS 7.5x16” (front) and 8.5x16” (rear) ET14 #BBS-RS / #BBS , 180 slant lip (front) and 247 slant lip (rear), with 195/45 (front) and 215/40 (rear) Yokohama S-Drive tyres, full #Air-Lift suspension system with front rolling sleeves and Slamit Industries rear bags, Autopilot 3P management, dual #Viair-444C compressors
EXTERIOR Smoked projector headlights with integrated indicators, 6k low- and 3k high-beam HID lights, Euro grilles, rear impact strip fitted to front bumper, smoked tails and corner lights, front and rear valances with Ryan G splitter
INTERIOR #M-Tech-II suede steering wheel, suede gaiters, chrome gauge rings with Alpina tach strip and painted needles, #ZHP illuminated gear knob, #BMW pedal set including foot rest, Alpine AV receiver with navigation and reversing camera, JL Audio speakers, subwoofer and amplifier
Gorgeous 16” #BBS RSs boast impressive width and have serious dish going on.
Air Lift 3P #Air-ride setup lets Ernie go as low as he wants to while custom boot build shows off both air components and upgraded audio elements, which include JL Audio speakers, subwoofer and amp.
“The small details count to me. So this car was a real labour of love!”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFULL-ON ’02 Classic beauty boasts race-spec M10 power
SITTING PRETTY Race-spec M10-powered ’02
It’s easy to get carried away with getting your car’s stance spot-on, with achieving that perfect look but, as this flawless ’02 demonstrates, sometimes form just follows function… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Seb Mol.
Stance. That’s a tricky word, isn’t it? A loaded buzzword that, in recent times, has become an allencompassing way of life for some and anathema to others. Vast swathes of modifiers devote every waking hour to calculating with millimetric precision how the lips of their new rims will kiss their arches just-so, while others merely look on appalled, using words like ‘ruined’ and ‘pointless’. This game wouldn’t be any fun if everyone was playing by the same rules, though, would it? Diversity is what motivates us and we’re sure that’s the case for you too. And today we’re taking it old-school.
We thumbed through our dog-eared and crumbling copy of the Oxford English Dictionary to help determine the embodiment of stance and came up with two timeless definitions: first, ‘the position or bearing of the body while standing; posture’. And second, there were no words, just a photo of this silver ’02. Really, there was. It’s a pretty strange dictionary, to be honest, but a handy one to have kicking about the office.
Now, language evolves by virtue of how it’s used, that’s obvious – this is why you can use the phrase ‘totes amaze’ in Facebook comments without the enraged spirit of Shakespeare rising up and jabbing you in the eye with his quivering quill – but today we’re looking back to a time when ‘stance’ was synonymous with race car aggression and purposeful squat. Not pan-scraping lows but the sort of taut gait that suggests a peppy up-and-at-’em attitude and a no-nonsense approach to clipping apexes and dominating straights. This 1502 is effectively a 1970s race car with numberplates.
It’s the brainchild of a shadowy German figure going only by the name of Patrick. (We suspect that he’s like Shakira or Voltaire, an enigmatic entity in and of himself. We’re reticent to ask, he’s just so focused on the car that he’s positively exuding waves of Bavarian eagerness.) “I modify all cars,” Patrick tells us, matter-of- factly, with that economy of words that’s so peculiarly Teutonic. “My first was a Fiesta XR2i, followed by a #BMW E30 Cabriolet, a Toyota MR2, another E30 Cab, an E36 Cab, an E46 M3, and now a Porsche 964.” Pretty strong list there, we can see a clear path of stepping stones from zero to hero (not saying that the XR2i is a zero per se, but… y’know) with each step appearing stronger than the last. So where does this shiny silver ’02 fit in?
“Well, it was about ten years ago and I was looking for an old, small, rear-wheel drive car,” Patrick explains. And then he unexpectedly breaks character, his face cracking into a broad smile. “I wanted to have some fun. An NSU TT? No. But a BMW ’02? Most definitely yes!”
There you go, there doesn’t really need to be any greater motivation than that. Fans of retro saloons will always effusively wax lyrical about the merits of the ’02-series over its contemporary rivals – it has proper suspension instead of cart springs, for starters – so there’s no better base for an old-school project. And the mononymous Patrick was planning to keep it old-school through-and-through. “I was looking for a car just like this,” he grins. “The body was okay, the engine was… well, it was too small, but I had a vision in my head for something better. The suspension? That was pretty horrible but two days after buying it I’d replaced it all!” This is a man who gets things done. So let’s dive in and see just what he was up to.
Under the bonnet, replacing the car’s original 1500 motor is a spankingly refreshed 2.0-litre M10, tuned the oldfashioned way. Regular readers will have enjoyed ’02s in these pages in the recent past sporting Honda S2000 motors or E30 S14s, but this right here is the archetypal traditional racer approach: twin-Weber 45s for maximum juiciness, forged Mahle pistons, spiky cams, lightened and polished internals, trick valve gear – the works. It rocks an uprated radiator and oil cooler, and there’s also an Alpina fuelling system comprising long-range tank and twin pumps. Hanging off the back of all of this retro splendour is the bullish five-speed cogswapper from an E30 M3 Sport Evo, along with a short-shifter and a lightweight flywheel to keep Patrick constantly and firmly believing that he’s nailing it around Monza in 1975. Which he might as well be. This thing’s a little time warp.
“I built up the engine over the winter season,” he says. “I also fitted the rear axle and braking setup from a 2002 Turbo. There’s a 4.11 diff with 75% locking and a diff cooler with an additional tank. And the front axle’s been fully reinforced in the style of the period Works rally cars.” All very fit for purpose, and you’ll have no doubt noted that all of this mechanical excellence is neatly wrapped up in a gloriously straight-and- true shell. “Every modification on the car was carried out by me,” says Patrick, rightly proud, “aside from the paintwork, which was done by a friend of mine. Like I say, the body was in pretty good condition, and now it’s all flawlessly finished in silver, including the underside.” It’s the sort of finish that you sometimes happen across on showgrounds, where effusive owners have placed mirrors around the car to give you a cheeky ‘upskirt’ view of the car’s shiny underbelly. And while Patrick was cleaning up the bowels of the build he took the time to galvanise and powdercoat the axles, too.
Belt and braces, and so on. But don’t go thinking he’s one of these showground concours buffers – he built this car to be used, and used hard. Just check out the interior for evidence of this…
“It’s fully stripped-out. There’s no carpet or sound deadening or anything like that,” he points out. It’s impressive to note, however, that this isn’t just some functional track build, all rough edges and sticky patches: the interior is just as clean as the underside, every inch of it looks freshly stamped and exquisitely clean, like being in the belly of some vast robot. The Heigo roll-cage is a statement of fortitude, squeezing in around the race seats and harnesses and joined by a few oh-so-period accoutrements – the Alpina steering wheel, for example, and supplementary Alpina gauges. It’s a riot of retro race intent.
And so we must return to that issue of stance. How has Patrick managed to get this car sitting so perfectly? The answer, somewhat unsurprisingly, is that form follows function; it looks good because it is good. “The original suspension was in a pretty horrible state. I really have no words for how bad it was,” Patrick shudders. “But now it’s wearing custom Bilstein coilovers with uniball camber plates.” The wheels are the classic BBS RS design – chosen here not because it’s a scene-darling rim but simply because it makes sense for a retro BMW to have retro BBS wheels – staggered in fitment and running just enough sidewall to hint at formidableness on the track while also slightly irking the classic car purists.
Wherever you look on, in or around this 1502, you find aesthetics that just make sense – everything about it bristles with quintessential rightness. The engine bay is resplendent in snaking silver hoses, fruity carbs and boisterous blue cam cover; the interior shimmies to the rhythm of 1970s testosterone battles at Spa and Zandvoort; the exterior, while unadorned, exudes just the right amount of purpose to suggest that you’re only a set of race number decals away from the grid. It all adds up to a thing of greatness.
“When I drive this car, everybody seems to like it,” says Patrick, entirely understandably. “Wherever I look, I see smiling people. There’s only one problem, though… you can’t drive the car slowly, and the police don’t smile!” We don’t doubt it. But with a car this good-looking, we’re sure they can find it in their hearts to forgive. Patrick may have adopted one or two of the trappings of that modern, ethereal notion of ‘stance’, but it’s all simply an offshoot from his pursuit of vintage road-racer perfection. Everything here is exactly as it should be. It is race car stance. It is its own entity. And that commands a lot of respect.
Race-spec M10 boasts forged Mahle pistons, 316 cams, lightened and polished rods and Weber 45 carbs.
Interior has been fully stripped-out and fitted with Bimarco seats and Heigo roll-cage while the boot houses the Alpina race fuel tank, catch tank and twin pumps
TECHNICAL DATA FILE 2.0-swapped #BMW-1502 / #BMW / #BMW-M10 / #M10 / #BMW / #BMW-Typ-114 / #BMW-1502-Typ-114 / #BBS-RS / #BBS / #Weber
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION Race-spec 2.0-litre M10, forged #Mahle pistons, 316 cams, #Weber-45 carburettors, lightened and polished rods, titanium valve seats, polished rocker arms, 47mm inlet valves; 38mm exhaust valves, highperformance oil cooler, aluminium race radiator, E30 M3 sump, Alpina race fuel tank, catch tank and twin fuel pumps, E30 M3 Sport Evo five-speed gearbox with short-shift, lightweight flywheel, E30 M3 clutch
CHASSIS 7x15” ET16 (front) and 8x15” ET18 (rear) #BBS RS wheels with 195/45 tyres (front and rear), custom #Bilstein coilovers with uniball camber plates, 2002 Turbo rear axle and brakes, 4.11 diff with 75% lock, diff cooler with additional pump, reinforced rallystyle front axle, Alpina anti-roll bar
EXTERIOR De-bumpered front, full respray in silver including underside, axles galvanised and powdercoated
INTERIOR Stripped, #Bimarco race seats, Sabelt harnesses, #Alpina steering wheel, Heigo aluminium roll-cage, battery relocated to interior, Alpina gaugesStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationWIDE-ARCH M3 Stunningly modified E30
With its flawless finish, custom wide arches and blood-red innards, this E30 M3 is a rare beast indeed. And Ricardo Oliveira’s lengthy unicorn hunt has certainly been quite a journey… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Anna Taylor.
Wide-arch E30 M3
When we interview feature car owners, we always ask if they have anyone they’d like to thank – and it’s very telling that Ricardo Oliveira chooses to thank ‘all the people that laughed at my plans’. His, you see, is a tale of following his own path, cutting against the grain, and numerous other inspirational fridge-magnet clichés that have led to one of the cleanest and most eye-watering E30 M3s we’ve seen.
Oh yes, and it is a bona fide M3. Haters be damned, Ricardo’s ‘ruined’ it to his own dream specs, and he really couldn’t be happier about that: “This whole thing dates back to 1997, when I was 11 years old,” he explains. “My brother, Pedro, purchased his first E30 M3; it was a #1989 car, Alpine white, with 60k miles on the clock. I fell in love with it as soon as I laid eyes on it, there was something about the box arches and the way the little four-cylinder engine sounded coming down the street. I would wash it and go for rides in it any chance I had. I still remember the smell of the fresh leather and sitting in the rear seat listening to the Borla exhaust like it was yesterday.”
It’s safe to say that this early obsession showed little sign of abating; Ricardo was in deep, and there was no way he wouldn’t own an M3 one day. He was totally single-minded about that. “By the time I was 20, I had saved up enough money to buy one,” he says, “and heard of someone local selling a Lachs silver example that had a salvage title. It needed work, but was fairly priced… although as I prepared it for restoration, I began to have doubts about spending money on something that had been a weekend track car – which had evidently seen a barrier or two!”
As you may have deduced, that car is not the M3 you’re looking at today. Ricardo pulled the cord on that one and set about hunting down a better example to fulfil that childhood dream. In the course of his search he happened across a Henna red shell with matching numbers and all the right bits which he ended up buying, but then selling once he realised that the magnitude of the work, combined with his having been accepted into police academy, meant that realistically it just wouldn’t get done.
Fast-forward a few years and, at the age of 24, our man found himself graduating from police academy and, of course, the E30 fire was still very much burning away in the depths of his soul. “I began working my regular night shift, along with countless morning overtime shifts,” he recalls. “I remember going to bed at 4pm and waking at 10pm, only to grab a bite and head right back to work – just so I could purchase another E30 M3!” Ricardo really was committed to this dream, and those previous false starts did nothing but spur him on. And so, having saved enough money (rather more than the $7500 he paid for his first one – these cars certainly aren’t getting any cheaper) the search was resumed and, after quite some hunting, a 1990 Diamond black car presented itself in Clearwater, Florida. “It was being sold by a guy named Mike, who was getting progressively sicker from cancer and could no longer enjoy the car,” Ricardo explains. “I bought the car sight unseen after numerous hours on the phone discussing every detail – and a week and a half later, it was home with me in New Jersey!”
A fairytale ending? Er, no, not quite. Unfortunately it turned out that Mike had been, shall we say, a little creative with the detail, particularly in his use of the word ‘perfect’. Knowing E30 M3s inside out by this point, Ricardo started to feel some serious buyer’s remorse when he began to comb through the car. “I’d been told it was perfect, 100% rust-free and had recently been repainted,” he laments, “but it had been sprayed at a #MAACO body shop where even the window trims had been painted over; it was a very poor masking and spraying job, and in addition to that it’d painted over some surface rust that was already starting to bubble. I began to feel like Nicholas Cage in Gone In 60 Seconds – just like he continuously ran into problems with Eleanor, his ‘Unicorn’, so was I with the E30. That’s why I nicknamed it ‘Unicorn’.”
Ricardo tried to take these issues up with Mike, but he understandably had bigger fish to fry; shortly afterwards, word came through that he’d succumbed to the cancer. A sad turn of events, but it served to harden Ricardo’s resolve: the car would get sorted, and done right – Mike’s work would be finished properly, and Ricardo’s own childhood dreams would be fulfilled. So, where to start?
“I spent the first year ordering and collecting parts,” he says. “It was so bad, the house looked like a BMW parts department! I became a regular at the local BMW dealership, and the guys there now all know me by first, middle and last name. Probably even by credit card number…” In addition to all the new OEM stuff, he was hoarding period aftermarket addenda like some kind of eager magpie. It was all leading to the end-goal vision he had in his head.
And so with parts collected and boxes ticked, the work began in earnest. “The first step was the engine bay overhaul,” he says. “The engine came out along with all the sound and heat insulation, the bay was shaved and wire-tucked, and the motor was fully rebuilt. All the brackets, covers, pans, throttle bodies, belts, wires, gaskets, housings and bolts were either galvanised, polished, powdercoated, or replaced.” While stalking through the shell with militaristic force, it goes without saying that any rot Ricardo came across was swiftly eliminated and remedied with fresh metal. This was to be a better-than-new finish, no compromises.
With the bay sorted, Ricardo chose to focus on the wheels and arches. “I knew I wanted to do something no-one had done before,” he grins. “I decided to widen the rear arches to match the curves of the front wings – look closely and you’ll see that the standard rear quarters are flat while the front wings are round – and I aimed to extend them 1.5” further than stock. I basically wanted to widen the car, but to look as if BMW had originally done it.” You’ve got to admit that it works. The finish is flawless, and you might be hard pushed to put your finger on exactly what he’s done, had he not just explained it to you.
Impressive arches demand impressive wheels, so after a period of head-scratching and careful consideration, Ricardo acquired a set of BBS RS faces and sent them over to Paul at Ehrlich Wheel Works; a proven favourite design for the E30 M3, but these were to be finished with a twist. “To set these wheels apart from others, Paul and I planned to not only have the normal 3” slant lips people use for their rears fitted to the fronts instead, but we’d also be doing 4” lips on the rears – and we’d be doing them on a set of soon-to be-18” #BBS RSs.”
Much like the treatment of the arches, this is an exercise in tricking the eye – onlookers will see something familiar, and perhaps not immediately notice how radically different it actually is. This is Ricardo’s style – the car’s packed with features that fly under the everyday radar, but consistently drop the jaws of true-blue enthusiasts.
Once Ricardo got started on the exterior, it seems he couldn’t quite restrain himself from spreading yet more custom touches throughout the build. The rear panel was shaved to mimic the period AC Schnitzer offerings, a Euro front bumper arrived which was quickly shorn and smoothed, custom tail-lights were made up, and the rear spoiler received an Evo II lower item, an Evo III upper (with its famous threeposition adjustment – Monza, Normal, Nürburgring) and even a ’1992-spec carbon fibre DTM flap. “The custom bodywork took up most of the restoration, two years to be exact,” he recalls, “which then gave me the time to start the interior.”
Oh, and what an interior it is! Sending the parts out to Charlie of Branch Brook Auto Top for refreshing, Ricardo admits that he may have “decided to go a little crazy”, choosing the M3-correct shade of Cardinal red as his colour scheme, he opted to imbue a little Porsche style into the cabin by making literally everything red. Everything.
“I had Charlie wrap the dashboard, headlining, pillars, rear deck, and the Evo steering wheel in either Cardinal red GAHH leather or Alcantara, along with installing the discontinued BMW Cardinal carpet,” he smiles, like a cheeky schoolboy who knows he’s done something a bit mischievous.
All-in-all, Ricardo’s restoration and programme of modification represents a hell of a lot of work, and every last minute of it shows. The car’s certainly come a long way from that first disheartening meeting, when he found himself with a tired car that had been partially rotted out by the harsh Florida sunshine. His commitment to crafting a sort of OEM++ vision is what sets this car apart from regular M3s; it took four years of hard graft, but he finally has the E30 that his 11-year-old self dreamed of. His own personal unicorn.
Sure, he may get grief from the purists about how he’s ‘ruined’ a classic, but who gives a tuppenny squat about that? When the mission is this personal – and the ultimate results this stunning – then it’s okay to relax the rules a bit. In European folklore, the unicorn is fabled as a creature of purity and grace, and we just love how Ricardo’s turned that on its head in a US context – old world values, new world thinking. It’s the American dream.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #S14B23 / #BMW-S14 / #S14 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E30 / #BMW /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.3-litre four-cylinder S14B23 , fully rebuilt, new #CP-Pistons (stock compression ratio), polished throttle bodies, powdercoated valve cover and air plenum with polished script, shaved engine bay with wire tuck, #Miller-Performance-MAF conversion/chip, custom air intake for #Miller-MAF , Evo plug wires, Mishimoto aluminium radiator, #Samco silicone hoses, custom aluminium reservoirs for power steering and coolant, stainless steel braided lines with AN fittings, electric fan, custom stainless steel exhaust with V bands, Supersprint silencer, ceramic-coated headers, new OEM engine mounts, water pump, ignition coil, cap and rotor, five-speed manual gearbox, Sachs clutch
CHASSIS 9x18” (front) and 10x18” (rear) #BBS-RS three-piece split-rims with 215/35 (front) and 235/35 (rear) Continental ExtremeContact tyres, BC coilovers, #Ireland-Engineering 25mm anti-roll bars and links (front and rear), Ireland Engineering polished front strut brace, rear subframe and trailing arm urethane bushings, new control arms, cross-drilled #StopTech discs
EXTERIOR Full respray in original Diamond black, widened and rolled front arches and rear quarters, shaved boot and numberplate panel, shaved window cowl with #AC-Schnitzer single wiper, shaved rear bumper to delete USDM city lights, new Euro front bumper with shaved tow hook covers, Evo III front spoiler and splitter, Evo II and Evo III rear spoilers and ’92 carbon fibre DTM rear spoiler flap, Evo III brake ducts, AC Schnitzer power/ heated mirrors, conversion to pop-out quarter glass, new BMW roundels and M3 badges, powdercoated window trims in satin black, all rubber seals for windows, doors, bonnet, boot and sunroof replaced, Hella smoked E-code headlights, custom rear smoked/red tail-lights, smoked indicators, LED city lights, LED numberplate lights
INTERIOR Cardinal red leather retrimmed by Branch Brook Auto Top (complete dashboard, front and rear centre console and Evo steering wheel also trimmed in Cardinal red leather), headlining, pillars and rear shelf trimmed in Cardinal red Alcantara, Euro sunshade on rear shelf, OEM Cardinal Red carpet, E46 M3 floor mats, Evo door sills, Alpine head unit, Alpine front and rear component speakers
THANKS My parents who gave me the support to complete this project, my brothers for their support – Joao Oliveira and especially Pedro Oliveira, who made me fall in love with the E30 M3 since 1997, Wally the painter, Paul Ehrlich from Ehrlich Wheel Works, Charlie ‘Suede’ from Branch Brook Auto Top & Interiors, Ben Barron, Mike Chin, and Francois Rodrigues from BMW of Springfield, Don Fields of Mr. M Car, Rich the machinist, Sidney Almeida for assisting me in building the engine, and all the people who laughed at my plans…
“It was so bad, the house looked like a parts department!”
“I knew I wanted to do something no-one had done before…”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBOOTYLICIOUS AUDI 100 GL C1 ARE YOU READY FOR THIS JELLY? SUITED AND BOOTED retro saloons through the decades / #1975 / #Audi-100-C1 / #Audi-100 / #Audi / #Audi-100GL / #Audi-100GL-C1 /
Audi 100 Is this the cleanest retro saloon on the planet? We’d certainly bet our last couple of Deutsche Marks on it!
Ruben Mellaerts’ Audi 100 is as clean as a surgeon’s slab and as sharp as his scalpel. But there’s so much more to this build than just rims, altitude and a dab of polish…
RETRO RIDE: AUDI 100
“The closer you look, the more delicious details you find”
Running a retro car means different things to different people. For some it’s about reliving the honest simplicity of a lost age; of maintaining an old car as a sort of rolling time capsule, keeping every element true to its original state. For others, it’s about using a cool old motor as a base to build something thrilling, optimised for modern use in a form that pre-dates moulded plastic bumpers and catalytic converters. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the former are all concours pedants and the latter are bloodthirsty jigsaw-wielders with no sense of heritage – us car geeks can’t be pigeonholed that easily. What it basically comes down to is that we all like driving old cars, and we all have different ideas about what happens under the skin. Right?
With that in mind, Ruben Mellaerts’ mission statement is clear: “I wanted to retain the classic look,” he explains, and it’s just as simple as that… except that, no, this ’1975 Audi is very far from simple. Ruben appears to be some sort of dark master of artifice, hiding in plain sight while he mischievously wisps a cloud of retro magic before your very eyes. Sure, at first glance this car may appear to be a shiny, original mid-seventies saloon that’s sitting artfully low, but the closer you look, the more delicious details you find yourself unearthing. If he just wanted to ‘retain the classic look’, he’d have carried out a straight resto, wouldn’t he? But these still waters, they run deep.
Ruben’s hoodwinking you with details, and you’ve inadvertently sleepwalked right into his cunning scheme. Don’t feel bad though, we all did just the same. But as the myriad tweaks unfurl, you’ll be so glad you did.
“I bought the Audi on the internet from two old people in Peer, here in Belgium,” he begins, with the world-weary look of a man who’s, y’know, seen things. “It was completely rusted on the inside and underneath the car, but it looked very good at the outside… that was the biggest problem!” He uses the word ‘problem’, but Ruben’s evidently not fazed by such trivialities – there’s no more mention of rust throughout the remainder of the conversation, it’s just implicit that he dealt with it in the manner of a mobster with a leaky informant. He just settled it, no questions asked.
“I did the deal with the old folks, poured in some fresh oil, drove it home, sorted it out,” he says, brilliantly enigmatically. The dude’s a pro.
Well, in fact that literally is the case, as the name RM Concept should demonstrate – for that is the name plastered across the bespoke air-ride setup. Yep, Ruben doesn’t just dabble in retro tinkering, he develops systems for others to buy too. And yes, that low-slung stance is indeed thanks to air-ride. “It’s running a custom RM Concept system,” he elaborates, “with shortened Bilstein dampers, my own bespoke uniball topmounts, twin Viair compressors and AccuAir valves.” The rear axle’s been shortened as well, owing to the fact that he’s bolted on some uber-scene-friendly rims that rock quite a lot more girth than stock; the fashionforward #BBS RS sixteens measure 7.5-inches apiece on the front axle, and a robust 8.5-inches out back.
Of course, any chump can pull off the simple ‘stop, drop and roll’ trick, jamming natty rims and suspension onto a stock old motor and letting that be that. But that’s very much not Ruben’s style. You know how we were talking about this car revealing more and more swanky details? Well, let’s dive in.
For starters, there’s the paint. It may look factory stock, but there’s a twist: “It’s a little bit different to the original,” Ruben grins. “It’s a bit of a secret, couple of shades of blue, little bit more iso green...” The exterior chrome has been refinished, with the bumpers neatly contemporised with carbonfibre end caps, and have you clocked the roof? Gorgeous bit of hot-rod lace paint there – it’s an old trick whereby you stretch a sheet of lace over the panel, fog it with a few light coats of contrasting paint, then remove it and enjoy the adoring gazes of passers-by. Lace paint is for winners.
Another mind-blowing element of the build resides beneath the bonnet. Now, your eyes may well already have flitted to the filthy shots of the spreadeagled bay, in which case you’ll have an inkling of what’s gone on: in essence, Ruben’s retained the stock 1,900cc motor (albeit fully rebuilt and treated to some shimmering chrome accoutrements), and focused on giving it the most sumptuous home it could possibly desire. The whole bay’s been shaved, smoothed, wire-tucked and painted to resemble the kind of scene you’d encounter if you dropped the engine from your 1/24-scale Airfix model into the bizarrely smooth lap of your unclothed Action Man figure. It’s all just improbably unadorned, aside from the all-action classic four-banger. Impressive, no?
But despite the huge amount of effort that’s been expended beneath the hood, that’s not actually Ruben’s favourite part of the build. “I just love the interior,” he smiles. “It was trimmed by R&R Autbekleding; the headrests and rear armrest were removed, and the seats covered in leather along with the centre console and doorcards.” It’s a magnificent job, the door trim wearing Bentley-style diamonds to imbue an element of the louche, while the seats feature studs that call to mind a wingback chair in the smoky corner of a 1920s London gentlemen’s club. It’s sort of meta-retro really, and the diamond/leather interface seemingly can’t be contained either, spilling across into the engine bay like some vast swarm of irrepressible opulence.
“It took about three or four months to get the car this way, working day and night on it, and in total it’s probably cost me about Ð12,000,” says Ruben. “But if customisation is in your blood, you cannot resist, can you? I had some ideas, and once I started working the ideas kept coming. In fact, I still have ideas, it’s not done yet; I’d like to have a completely new and much younger engine in there for more power, and do further work with leather and chrome.”
This is all entirely understandable. For people like Ruben, such things are never finished, they’re relentlessly subject to improvement. Which seems like an odd thing to say, because from the current standpoint, we reckon it’s pretty much perfect already. “I built the car with a lot of love,” he smiles. “She’s an old lady, and I treated her with respect. And people like the results, she’s a proper neckbreaker now!”
Observers certainly get a lot of time to check out those crisp lines, as Ruben loves to cruise low ‘n’ slow in this slick old-school barge. He may say that more power’s on the cards, but for now it’s exactly what it needs to be – a casual, low-slung badass, built unpretentiously to rumble as an art piece in the sunshine. Ruben’s definition of ‘retro’ is hard to argue with.
TECHICAL SPECIFICATIONS: ‘1975 Audi 100 C1
TUNING: 1.9-litre four-cylinder petrol, fully rebuilt, #Weber carb, optimised cooling, engine block painted, chromed air filter and cam cover, fully shaved, smoothed and wiretucked engine bay, 5-speed manual ’box
CHASSIS: 7.5x16- inch (front) and 8.5x16-inch (rear) #BBS-RS ceramic polished 3-piece split-rims with black hardware, #RM-Concept custom air-ride system with shortened #Bilstein dampers, bespoke uniball top-mounts, #AccuAir valves and 2x Viair 480c compressors, shortened rear axle, stock brakes painted in high gloss black
EXTERIOR: Fully repainted, chrome refinished, lace paint roof, carbon-fibre bumper end caps
INTERIOR: Custom leather retrim by R&R Autobekleding, headrests and rear armrests removed, period wood trim, new carpets, centre console trimmed in leather, sills trimmed in wood, custom leather doorcards, retro-styled MP3 stereo with Rockford Fosgate speakers, custom boot install comprising wood floor, compressors, air-tank and plumbed-in retro toolbox
Retro headunit is a master stroke! As is the classy retro toolbox.
Good job Ruben likes blue eh?
You could eat your waffle off that!
DRIVER: Ruben Mellaerts
You’ve got form with this sort of thing, then?
“Yes, my first car was a Mk3 Golf, and since then I’ve had a 3C Passat on air, a custom Mk5 Golf, I completely restored a Mk1 Golf, some scooters… and, of course, motorcycles. I love motorcycles.”
Why did you choose an Audi 100 C1 this time?
“It was love at first sight, and I wanted something unique.”
Anyone you want to thank? “Just me, myself and I…”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationDREAM MACHINE / GOING TO EXTREMES / #BMW-E21-Dreamworks-Car-Tuning / #BMW
Stripped, caged and 2.7-swapped E21 will blow your mind! One of the most amazing E21s we’ve ever come across. Utterly spectacular from top to toe, this Dutch E21 really is something a bit special. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Ron Veth.
There are still cars that can stop us in their tracks, and this E21 is definitely one of them. In terms of visual spectacle, you’d be hard pressed to beat it on any level.
The amount of work that has gone into this car is truly mind-blowing. Based on this, and some of the other Dutch cars we’ve had the pleasure of featuring recently, there’s clearly something in the water in Holland…
It belongs to Marc Joosten, owner of #Dreamworks-Car-Tuning – a real one-stop shop for all your modifying needs.
Dreamworks is able to tackle everything from suspension and exhaust work to bodywork and paint, and this E21 is a mighty fine testament to what Marc and his team can achieve.
“I was inspired by different tuning shops like Foose, Gas Monkey Garage, Kindig-It Customs and so on,” Marc tells us. “And I also wanted to put the ideas that I have in my head down on a car, making it one-of-a-kind because most of the details on our cars are hand-made. My idea of a great modified car is of the ‘less is more’ approach, making it clean and giving it a bigger, bolder look without ruining the lines that make the car popular in the first place.” This is something that Marc has definitely achieved with this E21 because behind the classic DTM-inspired BMW M Warsteiner paintwork this remains unmistakably an E21.
It wasn’t always all about BMWs for Marc, though. “My first car was a Honda Prelude; don’t hate me for it!” he exclaims with a laugh. “It was a nice-handling car. I had a lot of fun with it. After the Honda I fell in love with BMWs because of their aggressive looks, their great engines and their reputation for being so sporty to drive. My first BMW was an E30; I always wanted to have one as, owning a car customising shop, I’ve built a lot of them over the past ten years. I found this E21 on the internet. It was ready for the scrapyard. It was literally falling apart. The bodywork was rotten and it had also failed the Dutch equivalent of the MoT inspection.” You’d be hard pressed to tell any of that now, though, as Marc treated the E21 to a full restoration before completely transforming it.
“I already had in mind the styling I wanted for the E21,” he explains, “although I also went on the internet and looked up some new cool ideas from other car enthusiasts which I then added to the car. Of course, there were several problems along the way but that’s the challenge of building cars. In life you sometimes have to crawl through the mud to get to higher ground and it’s no different with building cars.”
Funnily enough it was actually the work that Marc and his crew did on the engine bays of his other cars that inspired him to take a similar route with the styling of the E21. “When it comes to cool looks I always go for a clean engine bay,” Marc says. “It’s always a lot of work to do but it’s worth it.”
The engine bay here has been tucked and shaved to within an inch of its life and looks insanely clean. Anything that hasn’t been removed has been perfectly integrated and Marc’s attention-to-detail is insane. The brake master cylinder has now been colourcoded in white, as have all the hoses, the radiator top tank, and even the blades on the cooling fan. And then there’s the polishing that’s been going on; the cam cover, oil cap, intake manifold and even the suspension top mount covers have all been polished to perfection. The panels that cover the back of the headlights are actually stock E21 items but here they’ve been colour-coded to blend in perfectly with the rest of the engine bay and as a result look custom. The electrical wiring had to be made longer in order to be routed out of sight. You could happily spend hours just staring at the sheer bright whiteness of it all. Unsurprisingly, it’s Marc’s favourite mod on the car. “I think it’s the ultimate thing to do on a show car,” he says. “Anybody can put wheels, suspension and an exhaust on a car but there are only a few people that go all the way with their love for cars (and their craftsmanship) to do the ultimate modifications. This separates the wannabes from the professionals.”
At first glance, the engine itself might not look like anything particularly special (insanely polished intake manifold aside) but there’s more to it than meets the eye. “The engine is a 2.7 Eta from an E28 525e,” explains Marc. “After restoring it we added a Schrick camshaft, an M20B25 head and fuel injection. We also fitted a performance air intake and a tubular exhaust manifold.” The latter looks particularly sexy nestling in the white expanse of the engine bay. The whole lot is finished off with a custom RVS exhaust system that culminates in a pair of up-angled polished pipes that extend past the rear bumper.
With such a ridiculously clean bay it was only right that the rest of the E21 was given a similar treatment. The rubbing strips have been removed from the wings and doors, the locks and badges have been removed and smoothed, and the chrome has been replaced with Shadowline trim. Up front smoked E30 headlights have been fitted, along with smoked indicator lenses and a black kidney grille. You’ll also spot a single wiper conversion, too.
Then there’s the rear panel which is so clean you could eat your dinner off it. The grille section between the rear lights has been removed and the whole section has been completely smoothed, with just the two light clusters left, sitting slightly proud of the bodywork. The front and rear bumpers are custom-made items and they look fantastic on the car, the former with its low, aggressive, angular chin spoiler while the latter is a clean, minimalist design that ties-in perfectly with the smoothed rear section.
The finishing touch was the #Warsteiner DTM colour scheme, made up of the BMW M tricolour stripes painted over a custom shade of white. It really suits this E21, especially with that aggressive front bumper being only a hair’s breadth from the Tarmac, and it looks every inch the classic racer.
Of course, bodywork alone isn’t enough, especially when you’ve got a wild colour scheme to pull off. When it came to the suspension Marc knew, as he’s not an airride fan, that he was going to keep things static with the E21 but just a bit of lowering wasn’t going to be enough for him. As a result, Eibach Sportline springs and shorter Bilstein B6 shocks were drafted in. Together they deliver some seriously aggressive lowering, with Marc carrying out numerous chassis modifications in order to end up with a massive 120mm drop (that’s eight inches) over the standard car! Going so low did result in several problems with wheel clearance but the work required to sort that out was well worth it as the BBS RSs are the perfect partners to go with the whole look of the car.
The wheels measure 9x16” all-round, pretty wide for something of this vintage. On one side the centres have been painted white, while on the other they have been ceramic polished for a dazzling finish. Both pairs of wheels have been topped off with bolts and chunky, polished centre caps.
Considering the amount of work and effort that has gone into the outside and the engine bay, it’s no surprise to find that Marc and the Dreamworks team have done an equally amazing job on the inside, too.
The racing-look Marc opted for really suits the DTM-theme better than any full interior could ever have done. Everything deemed unnecessary, including doorcards, carpets and rear seats, has been removed and the interior was then painted in the same custom white as the exterior. Following this, a highly polished Wiechers aluminium roll-cage was then installed. The upper part of the E21’s dash has been retained, though it’s been given a sporty look with the addition of some white dials plus a quartet of supplementary VDO gauges. There’s a Matrix TypeX steering wheel, a snazzy Alpina gear knob, chequer plate floor protection, and single-piece Recaro seats with four-point harnesses.
It took about a year to go from scrapheap basket case to the car you see before you now, though you’d never know how close it came to meeting an untimely end before Marc rescued it. The amount of work that’s gone into it has been truly immense and it shows in every single aspect of the build. It’s the sort of thing classics BMWs like this deserve, though, and Marc was fortunate enough to be in a position to give it the attention it deserves. When it comes to this E21, it’s fair to say Marc’s living the dream.
“When it comes to cool looks I always go for a clean engine bay”
DATA FILE 2.7 #BMW-E21 / #BMW-325e / #BMW-325e-E21 / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-E21-M20 / #BBS
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.7-litre straight-six #M20B27 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 , shaved and tucked bay with colour-coded and polished components, #Schrick camshaft, M20B25 head, fuel injection and engine management, high-flow air filter, tubular exhaust manifold, RVS custom exhaust system. Fivespeed gearbox, welded diff, #Sachs clutch. 210hp
CHASSIS 9x16” (f&r) #BBS-RS wheels with polished lips, ceramic polished centres (nearside), white centres (offside) and 15mm spacers (rear) with 215/35 (f) and 215/40 (r) Dunlop SP 9000 tyres, #Eibach Sportline springs, shortened #Bilstein B6 shocks, 120mm drop, Opel OPC front #BBK with vented discs
EXTERIOR Custom white respray, #DTM-Warsteiner colour scheme, custom hand-made front spoiler and bumpers, single wiper conversion, Hella smoked E30 headlights, smoked turn signal lenses, all-red rear lights, de-badged, de-locked, rubbing strips removed, bodywork smoothed
INTERIOR Stripped, painted custom white to match bodywork, Wiechers polished aluminium roll-cage, white gauges, #VDO gauges for oil temperature and pressure, water temperature and rev counter, Matrix TypeX steering wheel, Alpina gear knob, Recaro seats, four-point harnesses
THANKS KSC import for hardware, Nico Kunzler for technical support, Ronald Veth for shooting the feature, PBMW for featuring the car and everyone else I forgotStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationHULA-FLUSH
A stunning #S52-swapped E30 from Hawaii. Hawaii’s Wil Snyder may have started his E30 build whilst at high school, but now he’s doing nothing but schooling others with an S52 swap and a stance to die for – did someone say Hellaflush? Words: Ben Koflach /// Photos: Sam Dobbins
Hawaii. It’s not a big place, but there’s a lot more to it than pineapples and hula skirts. Take Wil Syder’s E30 for example; since buying it at high school, he’s built it up bit-by-bit to create what is – I’d be willing to bet – Hawaii’s finest.
Things began with Wil’s first car, which was also an E30. It gave him the bug that no doubt resulted in the car you see before you, but his first car wasn’t to be… It was working fine until, in 2005, a pair of 80- something-year-olds didn’t spot it and crashed into it head on. So it was time for Wil to look for another car, and that same day he spotted what was, in his eyes, the perfect replacement. “It was like it was meant to be, though the car was pretty bad,” he says, “the bodywork was oxidised and the clutch was seized, but I knew I had to have it.”
Fitting working on the car around high school, it was always Wil’s plan to build his new E30 into a race car, “then stance really came out, and I got into it. I loved it,” he laughs. So with that in mind, Wil set about preparing the car for paint. With budget a particular key factor, he decided to complete the work himself, and after getting the exterior prim and proper – as well as removing the aerial, washer jets and rear spoiler whilst binning the chunky chrome bumpers and fitting slicker plastic items from the later E30s – it was almost time for the paint.
As with any stance-pursuing build, it was going to be essential to run the tyres as close to the arches as possible, and therefore some arch rolling was in order. “Out of everything I’ve done on the car, getting the arches rolled nicely was really difficult. The rear arch fold is really thick on E30s – in the end it was easier to cut it out.” With that completed and the car freshly painted, it was time to really take the gloves off…
“I found the wheels in a junkyard next door to where I used to work,” explains Wil, “they were the wrong PCD but the guy selling them didn’t have a clue what they were so I picked them up cheap and set about rebuilding them myself.” Wil started with the centres, which were sent to Rotiform for redrilling, taking them from 114x4 to an E30-friendly 4x100. At the same time, they were powdercoated in silver for a fresher appearance when compared to the shabby state they’d been in. Next up, Wil placed an order for gold bolts and monstrous 3” stepped lips, which he used to rebuild the wheels himself. The result? Going from a 6.5x15” ET36 to a 9x15” ET4 with deeper dishes than I think I’ve ever seen on a set of RS’.
You might expect the decision of what to shoe the BBS’ in to be a simple one – the skinniest tyre that can be stretched on it, right? Well, wrong. Harking back to his original intention of building a race car, chunky 225/50 Falkens grace each corner.
It’s certainly controversial, but it really works and spells out a bit of menacing intention. For keeping the tyres nicely snug with the arches, Wil has used Ground Control coilovers, comprising Koni struts which have been shortened 2” at the front, with 525lb springs at the front and 750lb items at the rear. Combine those with Treehouse Racing front control arm bushes, as well as the other bushes, which have been swapped out for superior polyurethane items, Ground Control camber plates and Suspension Techniques anti-roll bars, and you’ve got a rather promising looking chassis. Wil hasn’t been shy with the stance either – with front camber set to the maximum and the tyres practically skimming the arches, it sure as hell looks effective.
The next area to catch Wil’s attention was under the bonnet. S52 swaps are becoming more and more popular over the Pond, and with it being a relatively simple conversion, he decided it was time he got involved. Being on a tight budget, Wil decided that the best way to achieve the swap was by going along to a car auction which was selling insurance write-offs. As it turned out, he managed to bag himself an accident damaged ’98 Z3 M for just $1400. And once it was home, it wasn’t long before Wil had stripped it of its S52 engine and running gear to put into the E30. “The motor swap was straight forward – four days after picking up the first spanner, it was in and running,” smiles Wil.
Some guys have all the luck, eh? And skill. With 3.2 litres of straight-six now nestled under the bonnet, a Z3M gearbox, propshaft and a 3.23 final drive ratio limited-slip differential, Wil really had the performance he’d always sought after. But for him, it wasn’t quite enough.
As well as having been converted to OBD1 for the engine swap, Wil fitted a 3” custom exhaust to make everything fit properly, and to give it some extra shout. This was linked to free-flowing Euro-replica exhaust manifolds, and to match air and fuel flow at the other end, Wil’s utilised a 3.5” air mass meter (from Euro-spec E36 M3s and E39 5 Series V8s) and 21.5lb/hr injectors. A Turner Motorsport chip and underdrive pulleys finish it off. Wil also fitted an E34 M5 master cylinder, brake servo and custom remote reservoir – making more room under the bonnet – and saving the sump from certain death is a RaceSkids 24v-specific skid plate, which sits 1.25” off the floor.
During a recent dyno session, the results Wil’s E30 achieved were very respectable – despite only being relatively mildly tuned, the S52 managed to peak at 219.98bhp and 211.52lb ft of torque at the wheels – certainly enough to propel the E30 along the Hawaiian roads at quite a speed.
Finishing the car off, and sticking to the race car dreams that he’d always had, Wil decided to strip out all of the carpet, sound deadening and quite a few chunks of interior trim. He then installed a few gauges and a dished Sparco steering wheel – a quirky contrast with the black leathers. Wil’s debating whether to install a roll-cage in the future, but whatever he does, I’m sure it’ll only enhance this rather cool E30.
Still think Hawaii hasn’t got much to offer the #BMW scene? Think again. Wil’s shown that loving a trend doesn’t mean you have to build the same as everyone else. Love it or loathe it, you can’t deny that this E30 has impact. Built not bought, DIY… however you want to describe it, Wil’s done it all himself, and the results are as slick-as-you-like. Who says cars built on a budget can’t rule?
An S52 swap with some mild tuning sees Wil’s E30 performing like the race car he’s always dreamed of, while camber plates are set at maximum negative camber for a killer stance!
Chunky 225/50 Falkens grace each corner. It’s certainly controversial, but it really works and spells out a bit of menacing intention.
DATA FILE #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-S52 / #BMW-E30-Coupe / #Turner-Motorsport / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre straight-six #S52 / #BMW-S52 , converted to OBD1, 3.5” #MAF sensor, 21.5lb/hr injectors, #Turner-Motorsport underdrive pullies, #Euroreplica exhaust manifolds, 3” custom exhaust, Turner chip, #Raceskids 24V skid plate, Z3 M Roadster gearbox and diff (3.23 LSD)
CHASSIS: 9x15” #ET4 #BBS-RS three-piece split-rims, 3” lips and gold bolts, centres powdercoated and redrilled for 4x100 PCD, shod in 225/50 Falken tyres. #Ground-Control coilovers using front adjustable Koni shocks and rear #Koni yellow shocks, front strut housings cut 2”, 525lb front springs, 750lb rear springs, Ground Control camber plates, Suspension Techniques front and rear anti-roll bars, Treehouse racing front control arm bushings and fully polybushed elsewhere, new ball joints, Z3 M Roadster steering rack and pinion. Standard brakes with E34 M5 master cylinder and servo with custom remote reservoir
EXTERIOR: Full respray in #Misano red, plastic bumpers, washer jets and aerial removed, iS splitter
INTERIOR: #Sparco dished steering wheel, carpets and sound deadening removed, various gauges added
THANKS: My girlfriend for supporting me and putting up with the long nights and money spent on the car, Rotiform for sorting the wheels, everyone else who has got involved with the car, Sam Dobbins for the shootStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationMk1 Caddy R32 Exclusive: the UKʼs hottest Caddy revealed!
/ #VW-Golf-I / #VW-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Rabbit / #Volkswagen-Rabbit-I / #VW / #VW-Golf / #VAG / #VW-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-R32 / #Volkswagen-Golf-R32-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Caddy / #VW-Caddy / #Volkswagen-Caddy-I / #Volkswagen-Caddy-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Caddy-R32 / #Volkswagen-Caddy-R32-Mk1
WALK THE WALK
With a day job that involves getting other people’s paintwork spot-on it is no surprise that north east Dub nut Paul Walker’s own project is beyond flawless. Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Si Gray.
I’ve got to say, it was DRIVE-MY that got me in to modified Veedubs in the first place,” 37-year-old Paul Walker explains. “I’ve always been in to cars and then one day I randomly picked up DRIVE-MY and, well, it all escalated from there really.”
We would like to take this opportunity right now to apologise for inflicting him with his Veedub addiction, something that has no doubt taken huge amounts of money from his bank account as he chases the high that is modified #VW ownership. Maybe copies of DRIVE-MY should have warnings printed on them like they do with cigarette packets these days. ‘Buying this magazine can be damaging to your bank balance!’. Or ‘modified VW ownership harms you and others around you’. That kind of thing.
“I had an Evo 7 that was just emptying my pockets and I decided enough was enough, it was time for a change in direction,” Paul continues. We’re not going to question how a Mk1 Caddy show car, especially one as good as this, could possibly be any cheaper than a Mitsubishi Evo 7… all we can be sure of is we’re very glad that Paul decided to make the switch because if he hadn’t we wouldn’t be looking at one of the finest Mk1 Caddys the UK has ever turned out.
The Caddy you see here wasn’t Paul’s first foray in to modded German metal ownership. Before the little truck he’d built himself a bagged and beautifully trimmed New Beetle which, although a very nice car indeed, must have been a bit of a shock to the system after a hardcore Evo!
“I’ve always been a fan of Mk1 Golfs, though, I mean, who isn’t eh? But good ones come up for sale so rarely that I started looking at Caddys instead,” Paul explains. “I made myself a promise, though; that I would keep it simple – just air and a nice set of wheels. It all went south when I started paying more attention to what some of the Euro Mk1 boys were turning up in…”
It’s probably worth mentioning that Paul earns his nine-to-five money as a dent man, or to give it the proper title, a paintless dent removal technician. This means that he is something of a perfectionist when it comes to cars and in particular, when it comes to the finer details. “I bought the car in 2014,” he remembers.
“I found it on the Edition38 classifieds but there was only one problem, it was in Portsmouth and I live so far north I’m almost in Scotland. This made checking it out in person difficult,” he continues. “Luckily the Kleen Freaks guys are like family and Adam Gough and Natalie Poulton, who live down that way, offered to go check it out for me, which was really nice of them.” With Adam and Natalie giving the truck the once over and confirming it was a good ’un, Paul bought it over the phone. “The guys got it right, it was in really good condition, which is pretty rare for a Caddy these days. I was always going to repaint it anyway so I was more concerned with it being structurally sound, which it was.”
The Caddy didn’t go home to Darlington straight away though; it went straight from the south coast to JH Pro Paint in Sheffield to have the Air Lift Performance air-ride, V2 management, and the custom four-link rear end fitted. “It was so low on its coilvers that I had to bag it immediately otherwise it wouldn’t have gotten onto my driveway, so it was a kind of a necessity as much as it was for looks,” he explains. Regular readers of the mag will need no introduction to the name JH Pro Paint. The Sheffield-based outfit is getting quite a name for itself in the modified VW scene for turning out more than a few awesome show-winning cars, not least owner Jon Hinchcliffe’s amazing everevolving Mk1 R32. “I’ve always been a big fan of Jon’s Mk1, so it’s fair to say his car was the inspiration for mine,” Paul grins. “It wasn’t until later on that Jon would become such an evil influence in my life!”
Two months later Paul had the Caddy resprayed at a local bodyshop, Autospray Darlington. “It was already white but I wanted it to stand out more so I had it painted in a muchbrighter, cleaner white,” he explains. “Thankfully as the Caddy was in such good condition it didn’t need too much repair work doing before it was painted.”
Next up was to sort out a pair of seats. “As I’m tall I wanted a pair of seats that would give me the most legroom, which the Vabrics would,” Paul continues. “Then it was a joint decision between me and the Mrs to do them in Harris Tweed, along with the doorcards, too, which I really think works nicely.”
Then Paul set about rebuilding a set of 15” #BBS-RS s, 8” in width and face-mounted before bolting them on the car ready for Ultimate Dubs 2015, where it went down very well. “For the rest of 2015 it pretty much stayed the same, other than a few bits of carbon fibre trim being fitted here and there. Stuff like the mirrors, A-pillar trims, window cranks, and the handbrake cover were all changed,” he recalls. “And then in June it went back to its second home at JH Pro Paint where, well, things got out of hand, I’ll admit.”
The Caddy came with a nicely-built 2.0-litre 16v in it which, while being a nice, dependable lump, didn’t quite tick the boxes for our man Paul here. We’re sure Jon’s show stealing Mk1 R32 had nothing to do with what was to come… “I’ll freely admit that Jon’s Mk1 was one of my main inspirations,” Paul smiles.
“After all, how could you not be inspired by that thing? But on a more personal note, I wanted a more-modern, less-revvy engine than the 16v. Plus, you just can’t beat that R32 soundtrack, can you?”
Over the next few months Paul and Jon spent so much time on the phone to each other that their respective partners though they might be playing away! But the lads had important build details to discuss and hard-to-find parts to track down. While Paul set about finding a suitable donor car, Jon set about pulling the old motor and getting to work on the bay. 74 welded up holes later, not to mention all the custom jobs that are required to squeeze the big six-shooter in to a tiny Mk1 bay, the whole thing was bare metalled ready for the next stage. That doesn’t really do justice to how much work was involved in getting the bay ready for paint, as anyone who has smoothed an engine bay will know. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are or how good you are at your craft, it’s a difficult, time-consuming and at times downright frustrating job. “It took Jon the best part of a month’s solid work to do the bay as it’s so time-consuming removing all the sealer and making sure every single millimetre is flawless,” Paul tells us. “Thankfully as the Caddy was in such good condition in the first place there wasn’t any major extra work to be done other than a few rust areas and the typical battery tray issues.”
While Jon was hard at work Paul found a suitable car and engine, shipped off a few odd bits to be colour-coded and got in touch with Andy Outhwaite from ACR to have a custom loom made up for the car and set about lengthening parts of the wiring to ensure it would slot easily into the smooth bay.
There’s no doubting Jon and the JH Pro Paint team know how to put out a top-level paint job and Paul’s bay is absolutely flawless from top to bottom, no matter how close you get or what angle you look at it from.
To break up the white, the sidestrips, arch spats, A-pillar trims and mirrors were all carefully reproduced in carbon fibre. We’re big fans of the carbon fibre strips in the bed, too, and the Volkswagen text has been reproduced on the rear wall of the cab, mirroring the text on the tailgate.
“I think the hardest part about the whole build, or at least the most frustrating anyway, was having to take the engine in and out about ten times to test fit everything and get it all right,” Paul reveals. “My wings are welded and smoothed to the front panel, so getting it all offevery time was a right pain, especially as we had to be so careful.”
Once the engine was in properly and the fuelling issues were ironed out, hearing that classic R32 off-beat burble was more than enough to make Paul forget all about any frustrations he had endured. “Oh, hearing it fireup properly the first time was definitely the best part of the build; you just can’t beat that noise, can you?” he says with a beaming smile. “I’ve had a few people say it’s too heavy an engine for a Mk1 but since when has a Caddy been meant to handle like a race car? They were built to carry sheep and stuff around! Some have also said that the Caddy is pointless as I can’t put stuff in the bed anymore but that’s usually the kind of thing people who don’t quite ‘get it’ would say…”
With people who do ‘get it’ the Caddy has gone down very well indeed. It debuted at Ultimate Dubs back in March (we got this shoot in the bag the day before), and since then Paul has taken it to Elsecar, Early Edition and Letstance over in Belfast, where it’s gone down an absolute treat.
It’s no surprise that Paul’s Caddy has had crowds around it at every event it’s been to so far. It is one of the best Caddys the UK has ever turned out, it’s just such a complete car. The amazingly clean engine bay is the star of the show but you don’t need to look too far to realise that no corners have been cut. It really is an incredibly complete car, not just for a Mk1 Caddy but for a Mk1 in general, and that’s no easy task these days with the level of Mk1s being as high as it is.
And yet perfectionist Paul isn’t finished yet. “Since the shoot I’ve put some Fifteen52 two-piece F40 Tarmacs on it so I can run bigger brakes, and I’m planning to transform it in to what I’m calling ‘the race Caddy’ over next winter too,” he chuckles. “Watch this space…”
Consider it watched Paul, consider it watched!
Dub Details / #VR6 / #Volkswagen-Caddy-VR6-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Caddy-VR6 / #BBS / #Air-Lift
ENGINE: Mk4 #R32 engine, VR6 #VW-Racing induction kit, #Time-Attack map, full carbon-skinned VR6 gearbox with #Wavetrac limited-slip diff, custom manifold and exhaust system, custom engine mounts and driveshafts, custom radiator, #Forge-Motorsport coolant pipes, full wire tuck and smooth bay, hidden battery under bed with positive and negative terminals behind driver’s seat.
CHASSIS: 8x15” #BBS-RS043 wheels totally rebuilt and face-mounted, #Air-Lift-V2 management with #Air-Lift Lift rear bags and #GAZ front struts, tank and compressors hidden under the bed, four-link rear axle with drop plates, G60 280mm front brakes with braided hoses.
EXTERIOR: Resprayed in bright white, carbon fibre sidestrips, arch spats, A-pillar trims, door mirrors, strips in the bed and strips on the front bumper, custom front and rear bumpers, Volkswagen script on the rear of the cab.
INTERIOR: Vabric half-back seats trimmed in ‘houndstooth’ Harris Tweed and grey Alcantara, Harris Tweed and Alcantara doorcards, flocked dash, Alcantara headlining and A-pillar trim, carbon handbrake, cover and window winders.
SHOUT: Jon Hinchcliffe at JH Pro Paint, Justin, Pete and Aidy at Autospray Darlington for my paint and detailing, Mike and Vick at Kleen Freaks for their backing, Alex Begley at Fifteen52, my good mates Anthony Warrior and Warwick French, and, most importantly, my wife for putting up with me while I did it!
If ever there was a face that summed up being obsessive about a car being absolutely spot-on, this is it. Paul takes the job of keeping his Caddy spotless very seriously, and who can blame him when the results look this good?!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.