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    HARDCORE S54 E30 Thunder from Down Under

    SKIN DEEP #S54-swapped E30. Words and photos: Chris Nicholls. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and Andrew Burke’s home-built, DIY-painted E30 is exactly the reason why.

    “Why are you shooting that little thing?” says a passer-by during the shoot. I casually pop the bonnet and see his eyes widen. “Jeez, there’s some work gone into that,” he says, before firing off a few photos on his phone and walking away. This sort of thing happens several more times during the shoot and it’s easy to understand why.

    From a distance, this is just another E30 track car. The matt black paint, done as a last resort after troubles with the painter, is hardly the last word in beauty and the stock M Tech II body kit isn’t going to set anyone’s world alight either. No, things only get interesting when you get close. It’s then that you see the custom Forgeline wheels and fat, circle-track StopTechs and imperial-sized AP Racing J-hook discs (chosen because imperial gear is cheaper than metric). Next, you peek inside and notice the #Motec M800 ECU sitting on a custom carbon plate on the floor. And the oil lines for the Peterson dry sump kit running next to it. And the Motec C127 colour dash logger and Tilton pedals. It just doesn’t stop. Finally, you pop that aforementioned bonnet and see the immaculate S54 with carbon cover and CSLreplica intake nestled in-between the strut towers, surrounded by Goodridge Teflon hoses and a Peterson oil pressure primer pump. If ever there was a car to prove that sometimes, the opposite of the idiom ‘beauty is only skin deep’ applies, this is it.

    The back story of this Australian E30, as you might suspect given the engineering involved, started several years ago (six to be precise) when owner-builder Andrew Burke picked up this 325is to be a street-registered track day build. Having got tired of risking his E92 335i road car on the track, he thought back to a 1989 E30 brochure he got as a kid and decided that would be a better bet. As most builds do, things started off small. Some H&R springs and Bilstein Sport dampers, rebuilt stock brakes and bolton exhaust, a short shifter and new Recaros did the trick for six months, but one track day at the wonderfully nicknamed Haunted Hills circuit (actually Bryant Park) in his home state of Victoria, Andrew noticed puffs of blue smoke on overrun thanks to some keen-eyed photographers. “That was all the excuse I needed to go ‘Oh, this motor could potentially have some kind of small issue in the next three, six, nine, 12 years, I should probably just swap the engine out right now’” he laughs.

    Thus began a long and involved process of finding and fitting a new motor. Having decided a resto-mod approach was best, he settled on an S50 and sourced one from the UK, but all was not well. “As all UK motors are, it was covered in corrosion, all the aluminium bits were all pitted from the salt and whatever other calamities occur over there in the middle of winter, so I didn’t do a whole lot with it other than strip it down to a short block and basically sand blast all the things,” Andrew says. Having cleaned it up, he found it still good enough to use, so left it standard internally and got to work fitting it. On went an E34 sump and 12° angled double-shear shift rod to get the now-twisted stock G250 five-speed to work with the AKG DTM shifter, some custom-made exhaust manifolds from Andrew Nicholls at Meridian Motorsport and a VFT E36 DTM-style carbon air box specifically designed to fi t S50s in E30s thanks to a notch cut into the back to clear the brake booster. To ensure that it all ran, Andrew cut and re-connected the stock harness himself and fitted an Alpha N ECU chip.

    However, while he may have cleaned it up, it turned out the engine’s not-so-perfect appearance was rather more indicative of its condition than first thought and sure enough, the number five journal went at a Winton Raceway track day in true S50 style. “A $350 tow truck ride home later [Andrew not having a trailer at the time and Winton being two hours from central Melbourne] we were sitting in the garage, the old man and I, saying ‘Well, we’re going to have to fix it, I guess’”. Andrew admits that even at that point, the idea of fitting an S54 came into his head, but he wasn’t quite ready to quit on the idea of an S50-engined E30 yet, especially having done so much work to make it fit.

    Thus, he decided that, rather than throw everything away, he would build a proper race-spec S50 and see what happened. Sadly, it’s here that Andrew suffered the all-too-common “bad workshop experience.”

    After searching around for a well-regarded builder, he thought he’d found one in a former Team JPS BMW factory race engineer in New South Wales, but while the specs were suitably serious, complete with 11.6:1 Wossner pistons, Pauter I-beam rods, 296° cams, Supertec Inconel valves and the current Peterson dry-sump system (designed to avoid ever spinning a bearing again), it “never made any real power.” “Without going into too much detail, it just fell on its face above 6000rpm,” he says. Worse still, it didn’t even last that long. A mere 500km of track work later and Andrew was sitting on the side of the Winton tarmac with two holes in the block from a rod and rod bolt respectively, oil pouring out everywhere and his car partially in flames thanks to starting a grass fire underneath it. The worst part? A postmortem found the likely cause to be poor assembly.

    “As I pulled the bits off the motor so I could get it out of the chassis, I found one of the ARP rod bolts was poking through the block on the exhaust side. I didn’t see it originally as a result, but it was poking through with all of its threads still intact. So it was not like the bolt snapped – it was like it completely unscrewed itself – and I can’t imagine a bolt that’s designed to be torqued to yield, if it was properly fastened, would have come undone. End of story. So that was that, which was a bit unfortunate.”

    Unfortunate indeed, and at around AU$30,000 (£17,000) for the engine, expensive. Andrew adds that figure doesn’t even include the cost of ancillaries fitted to deal with the extra power, the current 8x17” Forgelines, the previous SL6R and SL4R Wilwood calipers and discs (since replaced by the StopTechs because Andrew bought another road/track E30 he wanted to put those on), the custom-built AST two-way adjustable coilovers (again, since replaced by custom MCS two-ways) and several other mods besides. However, Andrew wasn’t prepared to throw it all away, so after convincing his wife he “wasn’t silly,” he pulled the trigger on a mint S54 with just 18,000 miles on it out of a wrecked Californian Z4 M.

    Being so new and from California, this motor was in stunning shape. There was no dust behind the water pump or alternator pulleys and even the internals, which Andrew inspected when he pulled off the sump to fit the Moroso dry sump pan, were unvarnished.

    Given he had no money to put new internals in it, this worked out perfectly. Plus, the S54 made more power stock than his built S50 anyway, so in it went, with only a Karbonius CSL-replica air box – fitted because the StopTechs meant he no longer needed the booster – a Racing Dynamics carbon engine cover, new custom exhaust manifolds (again from Andrew from Meridian, who by then had moved on to start his own venture called Trackart) and a few other mechanical pieces like an Eisenmann exhaust needed to make it work. At the same time, Andrew realised that to actually run the thing (especially given he was keeping Vanos and drive-by-wire), he would need to upgrade his dash from a set of Stack gauges to a Motec logger to ensure the necessary input and output numbers, and after contacting Jason Ingram at Advanced Motorsport Electrics to do the concentrically-wound, DR25 heat-shrunk harness and install it, he got it tuned by Lee at Melbourne Performance Centre and brought it up to Broadford State Motorcycle Centre for a shakedown, which is where we did the shoot.

    His impressions of the car now it’s finished (bar a cage)? “I was thrilled with the way that it handled and the way that it stopped even back when it had the second S50… but I was deeply disappointed on some level that it didn’t make as much power as I was expecting. It was certainly fast enough, but it never felt brutal, I guess. Whereas the S54 is still not crazy by any means, it just feels a lot more angry. It feels significantly more powerful.” Given this first shakedown was conducted at only half-throttle, that’s a brilliant portent and suggests that when this E30 is finally unleashed, its unassuming looks, combined with all that power and handling, will mean the opposition won’t see it coming.

    “If ever there was a car to prove that sometimes, the opposite of the idiom ‘beauty is only skin deep’ applies, this is it”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #S54 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-S54 / #BMW-S54 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E30 / #Bosch / #BMW-E30-S54B32

    ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 , #Karbonius CSL-replica dry carbon air box, #K&N air filter, #Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, #Aftermarket Industries swirl pot, #MagnaFuel dry break billet fuel filters, #NGK-Platinum plugs, Setrab 19-row oil cooler with -16 fittings, Roush Yates carbon catch can, Peterson R4 dry sump pump, #VAC-Motorsports mount kit, #C&V HTD belt drive with VAC/ATI fluid harmonic balancer, -16 feed and return oil hoses, -12 scavenge, #Peterson scavenge filters, -10 pressure feed to VAC Motorsports oil manifold, custom #Moroso dry sump oil pan, Peterson single-stage remote oil primer circuit, Peterson billet four-gallon dry sump tank with custom #CNC bracketing, dual breathers and 100 micron filter screen, Canton billet five micron oil filter on pressure stage, #C&R-Racing oil filter housing with provision for secondary oil cooler circuit in rear of car, #Wix-Racing 51222R filter, Goodridge XF 910 and Brown and Miller (BRMS) Teflon hoses, VAC-Motorsports lights, accessories and alternator pulleys, ATI damper by VAC Motorsports, AKG-Motorsport Group N engine mounts, #Racing-Dynamics dry carbon engine cover, Trackart custom equal-length exhaust manifolds and custom 2.5” exhaust, Eisenmann E36 M3 rear box, Motec-M800-ECU , #Motec SKN dual CAN knock module, Advanced Motorsport Electrics custom concentricwound wiring harness with Kevlar tracers, Raychem boots, Souriau and Autosport connectors

    TRANSMISSION #G250 five-speed manual gearbox, #AP-Racing 7.25” twin-plate clutch and lightened cro-mo flywheel from E36 M3 R, AKG DTM shifter, PPF axles, re-balanced OE driveshaft, OE diff with extra clutch packs, Z3 M housing, custom transmission mounts and subframe reinforcements


    CHASSIS 7.5x17” ET20 (front and rear) #Forgeline-SO3 wheels with 235/40 (front and rear) Nitto NT-01 tyres, VAC Motorsports 90mm studs, #Motorsport-Hardware cro-mo nuts, 3mm spacers (front), Motion Control Suspension custom two-way remote reservoir coilovers, #Eibach 60mm springs, AKG Motorsport polyurethane, #Treehouse-Racing and custom #Delrin bushes, custom Trackart T45-based cro-mo front strut brace, custom front arb and mounts, Dave Stillwell rear anti-roll bar with custom mounts and reinforcement, full Aurora rose joints, #StopTech STR43 calipers (front and rear), #AP-Racing J-hook fully-floating discs, custom Motorsport Connections Teflon braided lines, Performance Friction PFC01 pads (front and rear), custom-machined 7057 T6 rotor hats

    EXTERIOR OEM Tech II kit, custom bi-xenon headlights based on TRS projectors and 3D printed adaptors, rear lights lightly tinted with Diamond black

    INTERIOR #AKG-Motorsport Delrin shift knob, AKG Motorsport DTM shift lever and short-shift kit, Alcantara gear gaiter, #Tilton 600 Series pedals, Tilton -4 fluid tank, #Speedflow lines, Tilton billet brake bias adjuster, Tilton fluid bias and balance bar adjuster, #Motec C127 dash logger, Recaro SP-A Kevlar V8 Supercar special edition seat, VAC Motorsports billet rails, Sabelt Ultralight harnesses, Personal Grinta 330mm wheel, Lifeline Group N boss with custom spacer, custom carbon panel behind wheel for light controls, custom Trackart harness bar, custom aluminium scuff plates

    THANKS Andrew at Trackart for the exhaust, brake cooling duct, harness bar and strut bar fabrication work, Marcos at Motorsport Connections for the Speedflow bits and hoses, Jason Ingram at Advanced Motorsport Electrics for the incredible work on the harness and Lee Burley at Melbourne Performance Centre for the dyno tuning

    Carbon engine cover and replica CSL carbon air box make this S54 even sexier.

    Single Recaro SP-A Kevlar V8 Supercar special edition seat.

    “After convincing his wife he “wasn’t silly,” he pulled the trigger on a mint S54 with just 18,000 miles on it out of a wrecked Californian Z4 M”

    / #Motec-M800 ECU mounted on custom carbon plate.

    Swirl pot, pump and filters mounted in boot.
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    SIDEWAYS SHOW CAR Turbo #BMW-E30-Drift-Car

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    INTERIOR Fully stripped out, all sound deadening removed, floor cut and tunnels for side exiting exhausts fabricated, six-point half roll-cage modified into 12-point cage with 45mm crossbars, handfabricated aluminium dashboard, modified heater box to fit behind cage, hydro handbrake and homemade mounting, Sparco seats and STR 3” harnesses, new door inners with home-fabricated lightweight harness material door pulls and latch mechanisms, carbon fibre door cards
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    Jim Amelinckx’s E30 is far more than simply a nicely painted 3 Series on shiny wheels. It’s the product of a steamy automotive love affair that’s seen the car transformed in every conceivable area… Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: Kevin Raekelboom M30 E30 335i #Big-Six-swapped stunner.

    FROM BRUSSELS WITH LOVE #M30-swapped E30

    Love is a smoke, raised with the fume of sighs.’ A line from Romeo and Juliet, in which Shakespeare isn’t trying to be lewd – at least, not overtly, although he’s always up to something, isn’t he? Instead he is encapsulating the nature of love manifested by that most deeply personal and intimate of sounds: when you emit a sigh of passion, there really is no more honest or truthful expression of your pleasure.

    In the case of the low-down bruiser of an E30 you’re looking at here, that couldn’t be more true. But the smoke here isn’t merely the manifold sighs emitted by its owner and creator, Jim Amelinckx, impassioned as he is by the myriad custom alterations he’s made. No, we can throw in the crackling hydrocarbons of high-octane fuel and the whiff of scorched and atomising rubber into this heady soup of fumes – the love for this man and his car builds upon Shakespearean intimacy and takes us to a whole other place.

    “It all started at the end of last year,” he says, affectionately caressing the car’s silkysmooth flanks as he flutters his besotted eyelashes. “I bought this car from a very good friend in Holland with the intention of using it as a daily driver, but that only lasted for about three weeks before suddenly that wasn’t my plan any more!”

    What happened? He must have seen something in the E30 – some spark of potential, a glimmer of a hope that the bogstandard beige retro plodder could be something more, something special.

    “So we began the task of painting the car, and after that… well, we did all the rest. We worked on it five days a week for six months, with a lot of friends pitching in to get this car beautiful before the summer. You see, that’s what we do here over the winter…”

    You may have heard this sort of talk before in Scandinavia, this idea of hunkering down and riding out the harsh and freezing winter months by locking the garage door, sticking the kettle on, donning a set of thermal long johns and setting about the task of building an incredible car, ready for when the snow thaws and the roads are suitable for tyre-squealing mischief again.


    But in fact, Jim doesn’t live in Scandinavia – he lives in Belgium. You get the idea though. And the ‘we’ he’s talking about? There’s two names you need to know: first, Brussels Finest – an online collective of real-world modified car buddies whose main aim is to hammer together badass rides and generally support each other in their hobby. And second, the amusinglytitled Racepoutin’s – the fellas who roll up their sleeves and engineer the solutions to the self-imposed problems that modifying cars brings to the table.

    We’ll start with the paintwork, then. If the colour looks familiar, it’s because it’s a shade you’d normally find on a shiny new 5 Series: Mineral grey. But don’t go thinking that this car is just a straight and solid car with a nice paint job… Jim may have found himself a decent donor (albeit a beige one), but that didn’t stop him tearing into pretty much every aspect of it with the aim of increasing the love. “It’s a 1984 335i,” he grins mischievously, which should give you some idea as to what’s gone on under the bonnet. Indeed, if you’re an engine nerd and you’ve glanced over to the underbonnet pics, you’ll already have guessed what the score is: the Racepoutin’s crew have creatively buttered an #M30B35 in there. The very same engine that you’d expect to find inside an E28 M535i; the 3.4-litre straight-six (don’t let the name fool you, it has a 3428cc displacement) that kicks out a long way north of 200 horses and makes all manner of aggressive rumbling noises.


    Jim’s mated it to a Getrag five-speeder to keep things appropriately racy and, of course, to keep those fumes of love evaporating into the surrounding atmosphere. These guys have imparted an amusing spin on the folkloric 335i concept, and the work really does pay dividends. But wait, there’s more! A neat paint job and a swanky drivetrain upgrade are a supercool combo but Jim and his cronies had far more planned in order to fill up those long winter days. The devil makes work for idle hands, and all that.

    “The E30 is one of the best old-skool Beemers out there,” Jim beams, “so there were a lot of cool things I wanted to do. One of them was to fit a custom air-ride system…” He’s intriguingly tight-lipped on the specs here, and that’s a very race-team approach; after all, the cunning strategists behind, say, a Le Mans squad or a BTCC outfit wouldn’t go about giving away all their secrets to all and sundry. No, they play it like a sneaky game of poker. The thing’s airedout and it looks awesome. They’re the salient points here.

    “Let’s talk about the brakes,” Jim enthuses, hurrying us along. He encourages us to take a look, and it all appears familiar… so what’s the source? “We upgraded it to E36 M3 brakes all-round,” he grins. Which makes sense, really – a chunky set of stoppers to haul in the extra grunt brought forth by that meatier motor. A wise and sound move.

    “Ah, I’ve spent way too much on this car,” Jim laughs, opening a door to help demonstrate why. “Way too much. I’ve stopped counting it all up otherwise I’d just have to find myself another hobby! But I’m proud to say I did it myself along with the help of my friends, who provided a lot of great company on all those late nights.”

    Part of the reason for the spiralling budget is staring us in the face as we peer inside. The interior treatment really is very cool, centring around a pair of gorgeously trimmed Recaro CS buckets with diamondquilted leather that cheekily harks back to the car’s original paint colour. And the rear seats? They’ve been junked entirely, in favour of a shiny polished roll-cage that further speaks to the inherent race car vibe that’s bundled up inside this subtle but gorgeously finished build.


    The term ‘sleeper’ gets thrown around a lot and it’s not always appropriate. Hell, it’s not totally appropriate here – there are clues to the knowledgeable that all isn’t as it seems, from the custom widened steel arches and the über-slick Kerscher wheels to the glimpse of the cage peeking out through the rear windows – but at the same time, this is by no means an ostentatious or shouty car. At first glance it appears to simply be a wellkept example of an ’80s BMW rather than an obviously low-down, powerful hot rod. But that, of course, is all part of its charm. Whispering has far more impact than shouting in cases like this. And the sighing whispers of love? Doubly so.


    “I really wouldn’t improve a thing about the way the car drives,” says Jim, happily proving that this is far more than simply a polished show car. “I’d describe it as optimal; the power, the brakes, the acceleration – no words needed, it’s just love. And I reckon the fitment of the wheels is probably my favourite element of the car; the 18” Kerschers are exactly what I imagined the car should have, and I’d never consider changing them. Why would you change a winning team?” Well, quite.

    “I see a lot of guys taking pictures of the car while I’m driving it around, and people are always curious to find out what’s under the bonnet when they see me burning rubber,” he continues. “It’s the product of inspiration really, and the internet and Google are my best friend when it comes to researching new ideas.”

    The best way to really describe it, though, is simply as a labour of love. There was a spark of inspiration that inspired Jim to rope in his mates and turn this E30 into something infinitely more special than merely a cheap runaround, and the result is a creation that reflects his personality as much as it does his obvious, unashamed love for the self-styled 335i. “Oh, and you should see her shimmy around Zolder,” he whispers.

    See, this is more than simply the product of a group of friends cracking open a set of spanners and a case of beers – this is true love. Jim and his E30 are a Shakespearean tale of infatuation with a retro-styled but super-modern twist. The fume of sighs, and a full-on 99-RON love affair.

    DATA FILE BMW #BMW-M30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-335i / #BMW-335i-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-E30-M30 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E30

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B35 / #M30 , #Getrag five-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 8.5x18” (front) and 9.5x18” (rear) #Kerscher wheels with 215/35 (front) and 225/35 (rear) Toyo tyres, custom air-ride system with Racepoutin’s boot build, E36 M3 brake conversion (front and rear)

    EXTERIOR Full respray in Mineral grey, steel arch flares (1.5cm wider than stock)

    INTERIOR Custom-trimmed Recaro CS seats, roll-cage, M-Tech 1 steering wheel, 318iS red digit dials, Viair pressure gauge in clock console, custom Alcantara trim
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    KEEPING IT REAL Turbo M50 E30.

    UK two-door is the perfect blend of style and pace. #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E30

    What was once an unassuming #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW-318i has been comprehensively transformed into a turbocharged beast. Words: Aron Norris. Photos: Scott Paterson.

    The BMW E30. Some would say it’s flavour of the month. Others would say it’s their favourite ’80s BMW. Perhaps the infidels among us might even say it’s a little bland. Wherever you stand on the E30, you can’t deny that those Claus Luthe penned lines have aged very, very well. Like a fine wine, these Bavarian compacts are becoming hot property amongst collectors.

    Whilst concours classics might be some people’s idea of BMW perfection, others, like Steve Foxall, prefer to use a stock car as a template, a blank canvas if you will. Whilst the 1983 318i you see here might look all sweet and innocent at first glance, there’s a secret lurking. If you’re an OE concours purist, look away now…

    Now, when Steve bought the E30, it was in pretty good stock condition because the previous owner had it repainted 12 years ago, which meant Steve could get straight onto the fun of making the 318i his own, something a little less, er, 318i. This is a true driveway project car. Let’s be straight here, it doesn’t take much to make an E30 look great. With those handsome ’80s lines it almost seems perverse to suggest messing too much with BMW’s original formula much at all. I mean, the OE Schwarz black really gleams against the chrome bumpers and trims, all as you would expect I suppose.

    Visually, the E30 has lost a few stock items and gained some choice add-ons, but nothing terribly drastic. The front numberplate and foglights have been deleted, which neatens things up nicely, making way for a Jimmy Hill front lip and M Tech 1 rear spoiler to add some ’80s indulgence. There are no wide arches here, nothing untoward you might say. Well, until you peer under the bonnet, that is…

    You see, from the very beginning, Steve knew the original M10 engine in his 318i formed no part of his future plans. His vision was always to build a turbocharged sixcylinder M50 beast. Never again would this be a well-behaved practical car. Nobody wants that anyway, right? As luck would have it, Steve managed to find a 1993 E36 325i donor at the scrapyard, which meant things were coming together rather nicely. Operation strip down could begin. Goodbye M10, it was nice knowing you. The donor #M50B25TU powerplant was to provide the perfect base.

    For the geeks out there, TU stands for ‘technical update’ which means variable valve timing, i.e single Vanos to you and me. In preparation for the turbo, ARP big end bolts, head studs, race mains, big end bearings, valves, springs and rings were thrown into the mix and a 0.120” MLS Cometic head gasket to lower the compression. Stock pistons, crank and block more than do the job, having been honed to reliably deliver an impressive level of tune.


    In order to fulfil his turbo dreams, Steve knew he’d need a fully custom manifold, so a twin-scroll setup was built for his Holset HX35 turbo with 12cm housing. With everything in place, the next step was to build an exhaust. No surprises for guessing that, again, Steve went for a custom setup, this time a Hard Knocks Speedshopfabricated 3” downpipe and exhaust with hidden tip. Continuing the custom fabrication theme, an E34 oil pan (with turbo drain) was shortened and widened to keep the little E30 nicely lubricated at all times. While the old 318 lump was out, Steve took the opportunity to completely smooth and weld the bay, with a fresh helping of Schwarz paint to spruce things up. Blood, sweat and tears ensured the new engine would to take centre stage in the bay, and quite rightly, too.

    With the engine taking shape nicely, Steve’s attention moved towards the transmission. His dream M50 build was mated to a Getrag 260 gearbox with a lightened and balanced M20 flywheel to improve throttle response. An uprated six-puck composite clutch, Sachs 618 pressure plate and M3 release bearing were acquired to more effectively handle the increase in power, along with a lightened and balanced propshaft. Steve got in touch with Hack Engineering to order a solid prop ring and the good guys over at SS Autowerks were called upon to provide a set of solid transmission mounts for the build.

    To keep everything running just so, Vems management was purchased and a completely custom tucked wiring loom was fitted in the freshly smoothed and painted bay. After some testing, tweaking and mapping, Steve’s E30 was almost ready for action.

    Next on Steve’s radar was chassis and handling. The steering rack was swapped out for a Z3 item with custom linkage and a 3.64 LSD was rebuilt with Porsche plates (for tighter locking). Braking was sharpened up with uprated pads and discs, teamed with a Porsche 944 brake booster and braided hoses. SS Autowerks was again involved with the build, supplying BC coilovers with custom springs, front and rear. For a fast road setup, fully polybushed, this car both looks savage and handles as it should.

    In the wheel department, the E30 needed grippy tyres, so the obvious choice was to kill two birds with one stone and bolt up some girthy Schmidt TH Line three-piece splits with Toyo rubber. These 16” beauties in staggered 8.5” and 9.5” fitment suit the E30 a treat. Polished dishes with silver centres contrast beautifully with black bodywork.

    With over 350hp on tap, this little black beauty is lively on the road to say the least. In fact, the truth is you have to be on the ball just to keep it in a straight line. This is pure man and machine stuff. If you overcook it, there’s no computer to save your bacon, as this car will make you pay for any mistake or lapse in concentration.

    The interior of Steve’s E30 is pretty minimalist. You won’t find anything more than you need here. With the focus of this car well and truly centred on the driver, you’ve got a Nardi steering wheel, Delrin shifter, Recaro Pole Positions with TRS harnesses and a custom half roll-cage. That’s it. There’s no fuss – just as it should be with this type of car.

    The original black leather interior just didn’t cut the mustard on B-road blasts, so Steve was on the lookout for a pair of replacement front seats and the black cloth Recaros were the perfect upgrade whilst keeping things simple. The rear seats were binned to save some weight and the battery was moved to the boot by using an S2000 mount with shut off. The interior changes have kept things period-correct, which is a definite winner and suit the E30 down to a tee.


    Steve’s E30 is testament to home-brew engineering and modification. It might look like a regular E30 from the outside but, make no mistake, this is a driver’s car which will quite happily trounce most modern competition in the performance stakes. There’s something very grass roots about this car and we love it.


    Stunning polished Schmidt TH Line 16s are the perfect wheel choice for the E30.

    M50 has been treated to a whole host of internal mods plus an HX35 turbo with custom manifold and exhaust system. The bay has been beautifully smoothed.

    DATA FILE #BMW / #M50-Turbo / #BMW-M50 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-M50 / #M50B25 / #Getrag

    ENGINE 2.5-litre straight-six #M50B25TU / #M50 , 0.120” #MLS-Cometic headgasket, #ARP big end bolts and head studs, race mains, big end bearings, valves, springs and rings, stock honed pistons, crank and block, custom twin-scroll exhaust manifold, #Holset-HX35 turbo with 12cm housing, #Tial-BOV and wastegate with screamer pipe, custom shortened and widened oil pan based on E34 pan and turbo drain, semi-solid custom engine mounts, A/C delete, PAS delete, switched #Bosch-044 in-line pump with Siemens 660cc injectors, Vems management with custom wiring loom completely tucked, 3” downpipe and exhaust with hidden tip by Hard Knocks Speed Shop, Mishimoto switched 14” fan, intake elbow and aluminium E36 fan with header tank delete

    TRANSMISSION #Getrag-260 five-speed manual gearbox, M20 lightened and balanced flywheel, Sachs 618 pressure plate, custom six-puck composite clutch, M3 release bearing, Hack Engineering solid prop ring, custom transmission brace, #SS-Autowerks solid transmission mounts, lightened, balanced propshaft, 3.64 LSD rebuilt with Porsche plates for tighter lock

    CHASSIS 8.5x16” (f) and 9.5x16” (r) #Schmidt-TH-Line Lines with #Radinox dishes and 195/40 Toyo TR1 (f) and 205/40 Nankang NS2-R (r) tyres, BC coilovers supplied by SS Autowerks with custom springs, fully polybushed, reinforced subframe, Z3 steering rack with custom linkage, Z3 short shifter linkage, underside running gear completely rebuilt, shot blasted and powercoated in gloss black, 944 brake booster with braided lines all-round, uprated pads and discs with stock calipers

    EXTERIOR Engine bay totally welded smooth, battery tray delete, front foglight delete, M Tech 1 rear spoiler, Jimmy Hill front lip, genuine blue tinted mirror glass, custom front numberplate delete

    INTERIOR Delrin gear knob, Stack oil pressure and oil temperature gauges, rear seat delete and carpeted, black headlining, Recaro Pole Position seats with Recaro sliders and custom seat mounts, TRS harnesses with reinforced chassis mounts, custom half roll-cage with reinforced chassis mounts, Nardi steering wheel, battery relocated in boot using S2000 mount with shutoff

    THANKS Fourseasons, SS Autowerks, RollHard (www.rollhard.co.uk), Hack Engineering, all my mates who helped
    • Steve Foxall’s Turbo M50 E30 Is it any surprise that the first car in our top three happens to be an E30? Certainly not when that car is Steve Foxall’Steve Foxall’s Turbo M50 E30
      Is it any surprise that the first car in our top three happens to be an E30? Certainly not when that car is Steve Foxall’s stunning UK machine, as it really is an awesome build and proved very popular with all of you, and with good reason. We saw it in person at a couple of shows and it was a real head-turner, not least of all because of what’s under the bonnet. At its heart is an M50B25, swapped into a wire-tucked bay, with a Holset HX35 turbo strapped to it for plenty of power. There’s also a removable bonnet to show the whole lot off. BC Racing coilovers deliver a sizeable drop over a set of gorgeous, fully polished 16” Schmidt TH Lines, while the interior has been treated to, among other things, a pair of Recaro Pole Position seats and a gorgeous Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel. The perfect blend of elegant, classic style and serious power, it’s pretty much E30 perfection in a nutshell.
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