- Post is under moderation/ #1990-BMW-318i-E30 / #1990 / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW-318i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW / #1990-BMW-318i-Automatic-E30 / #BMW-318i-Automatic-E30
Brightwells, Leominster, March 6 Quentin delved into the BMW E30’s rising status in the last issue, where he understandably favoured the 2.5-litre cars. It seems that collective enthusiasm has already spread to lesser models – this was an overestimate result for a four-pot, four-door E30 with an auto ‘box. Balancing all that out was pretty minimal mileage at 38,350, most of its life with the same family, plus plenty of history.
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- Post is under moderationIt has been a long while since I last had an update on the E30 and to be honest, along with saving for a wedding and another non-BMW project I purchased at the end of last summer requiring unexpected attention, I have just been lacking motivation. Still, I did manage to fi t my new engine mount bushes. My two new bushes were ordered from Schmiedmann in Denmark, which is fantastic for BMW parts; I’m sure you could almost build a whole car from scratch with parts from its online catalogue.
/ #BMW-E30 / #BMW-318i / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #M10 / #BMW-M10
I ordered standard bushes and not uprated polyurethane or solid items for one main reason: the price. They cost me around £13 for the pair while poly or solid mounts would have set me back closer to £100, which I just couldn’t afford. Luckily after receiving my new mounts they appear to be slightly beefier from the original bushes currently on the car. Access to the mounts was easy on my #M10-engined model; once I had removed the air box and connected intake piping to access the passenger side mount, and put the steering rack on full lock to reach the bottom nut, a squirt of the always useful WD40 and the bolts were swiftly removed. To get the bushes out involved gently jacking up the engine to raise it away from the chassis, which was done with care as the risk of bending something or severing a pipe or wire was a possibility. As you can see from the side-by-side photos the old bushes were severely worn, probably the original items and much overdue a replacement. The new bushes have locating tabs so it was impossible to get them mounted incorrectly and the only stumbling block was having to jack the engine up further to fi t them in the same gap the compressed old ones came out of. Both sides in and tightened, it was time to fi re her up and see the difference and it was huge.
The lumpy idle from the Schrick cam is now supported much better and twist under load has been severely reduced. After taking her out for a short drive I can also confirm the issue I had last year whilst travelling to Le Mans of the exhaust hitting the floor has been cured, thanks to less movement from the engine mounts, so all in all a great bit of maintenance.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCAR: #BMW-318i / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW /
Name Ian Martindale
Location Ellendale, Tasmania, Australia
First classic Mini Cooper ‘S’
Dream classic AC Ace
Daily driver BMW 318i
Best trip the Eyre Highway from Perth to Adelaide
MUNCHING MILES BAVARIAN-STYLE
About 12 years ago, when living in Perth, in Western Australia, I was looking to replace the boring frontdrive hatchback that had served me well for more than 10 years. I was after a rear-wheel-drive model with a four-cylinder engine of about 2 litres and manual transmission (I hate automatics). I also wanted a decent-sized boot and preferably four seats, because we usually travel with our dog Sam. After a bit of searching, in early ’06 I found a two-door BMW 318i with aircon and a sunroof, finished in Delphin Metallic, which I think really suits the shape. It came with full service history, so after going over the car thoroughly I bought it.
The following summer, my wife Pat and I decided to visit relatives near Adelaide in South Australia, in order to watch the Tour Down Under bike race (I have always been a keen cyclist). Because the event takes place in January, which is the middle of summer here, it meant making the journey during potentially very hot weather. I carefully went over the BMW – I carry out all my own maintenance – and stocked up on the usual spares, including belts, hoses and so on.
I organised the trip so that we would cover the c2700km in three legs, driving only during daylight hours: the wildlife here is too large to risk travelling at night without a substantial roo bar. My wife is not keen on driving, so I would do it all. The first day entailed 915km from Perth to Balladonia, the second 1013km from Balladonia to Ceduna, while the third was an easy run of just under 800km to McLaren Vale, where we would be staying.
I planned to stop roughly every three hours or 300km to top up the petrol, have a bite to eat, and give Sam the chance to have a stretch. On average, each 300km required 21-22 litres of fuel, which is c40mpg.
On one such stop at Madura, Sam leapt out of the car, yelped and jumped back in. Pat had to carry him to a shaded spot because the ground was so hot: the guy in the roadhouse said that it was 47ºC in the shade, which meant about 60ºC on the concrete.
The BMW never missed a beat, the temperature gauge never moved from just under halfway, and the air-conditioning worked very well. At the Nullabor Roadhouse, Pat took Sam for a stretch while I filled up the car. As I was waiting for them to return, people suddenly started running to their vehicles: as I turned around, a dingo strolled past.
On the return trip, we went back from Balladonia via Esperance, which adds about another 200km to the trip. More than 80km of that was gravel roads, which the BMW handled very easily, cruising at 80kph. In order to make up for lost time once we got back onto tarmac, I held the car at more than 140kph (which is only 3500rpm) for a couple of hours. In total, we covered just under 1100km during daylight.
I have had the BMW now for 11 years and it is a superb long-distance car. We have done four trips on the Eyre Highway in it, and it now has almost 300,000km on the clock. I change the oil (Penrite HPR30) every six months or 8000km, and have never had to top it up.
Over the past couple of years, in between travelling around Aus in our motorhome, I have replaced the E30’s suspension, including bearings, bushes, anti-roll bar links and dampers, as well as the brake discs and pads, balljoints and track rods, so it’s as good as new.
I intend to keep the 3 Series for as long as I can because it is easy to work on, OEM parts are cheap and readily available and, to use BMW’s own advertising slogan, it is ‘sheer driving pleasure’. I’m not interested in trailer queens – cars are meant to be driven, otherwise the designers wouldn’t bother with engines.
The well-travelled 3 Series pauses outside Australia’s National Motor Museum in Birdwood, near Adelaide (see Shrines, March 2015). Eyre Highway includes a 90-mile straight. Dusty BMW is unfazed by long distances. Abandoned Holden FJ near the roadside. Dingo spotted en route to South Australia. Brief rest stop on epic cross-country trip.
‘The guy in the roadhouse said that it was 47ºC in the shade, which meant about 60ºC on the concrete’Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationKEEPING 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
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- 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.
- Post is under moderationBrightwells June sale / #BMW / #1992 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-318i-Convertible / #BMW-318i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / BMW / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio
Brightwells had a glut of BMWs on offer at its June sale and this #BMW-E30-Cabriolet was one of three 318i examples it had up for sale and the only one that sold. Its mileage might have been on the high side at 136k but there was plenty of history with the car showing it had been loved during its life. At £4500 it looked like reasonable value for money but as an investment the 325i sold by ACA looked to be a better bet.
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- Post is under moderationROB’S #BMW-E30 / #BMW-318i / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 /
The Le Mans Classic is a bi-annual event at the historic La Sarthe circuit just south of the city of Le Mans. Much like the 24-Hour event for the technically brilliant modern hybrids and GT cars, the Classic runs throughout 24 hours but for six different grids of cars ranging from the inception of the 24-Hour race way back in 1923 all the way through to the Group 5 racers and prototypes of the late ’70s and early ’80s, and this year a support race from the awesome Group C cars.
The racing is only part of it though, with club stands, live music, a paddock area open to the public and much more. A huge part of the enjoyment for me and the group of guys I travelled there with was the 400-mile road trip down to the circuit from Surrey. This was the fourth time I’d made the trip down to the Classic but only the second I’ve done in the E30 and last time I still had a full interior, minus the carpets, electric windows and a sunroof all of which would have been useful in the 30ºC heat that we had throughout the part of France I drove through. Problems started at Dover when, even in the cool British air at 7am, sat in a traffic jam at passport control after a long motorway run, the engine started to get a little on the hot side. Putting the heater on full blast for ten minutes brought the temperature down to a more sensible level and in the cool morning air it wasn’t too uncomfortable but later on in the journey it would prove very uncomfortable.
The channel crossing was gloriously smooth but maybe five miles out of Calais whilst driving along the coastal road I could feel a knocking from underneath the car. Cue a quick roadside check and nothing was obvious, other than a mildly worn ball joint which wouldn’t have created the knock I could feel, so we carried on with a view to jack the car up and have a proper look underneath at a service station. After blasting along the coastal road we took to the motorway to get some miles under our belts and at our first fuel stop we got a jack under the car to suss the source of the knock. Lo and behold the exhaust bracket that supports the exhaust downpipe, funnily enough right under my feet, had been hitting against the heat shield above, as evident by the large gouge.
After a little more exploring into the cause of this a worn engine mount bush was most likely to blame but certainly wouldn’t ruin my trip. We chose to stay on the motorway until we at least got through Rouen, which if you have ever made the pilgrimage to Le Mans you’ll know it can be a nightmare to drive through. This year we didn’t even make it that far before hitting a big jam. The A28 past Neufchatel-en-Bray was closed causing a huge traffic stoppage with all traffic being forced off at the next junction, through the small town, causing even larger jams.
Being stuck in very slow moving traffic the E30 was really struggling again with its cooling and again required me to put the heater on, which was hideously uncomfortable, so when a section of the motorway was slightly downhill it was engine off and let the car roll. After close to two hours slowly creeping off the motorway the decision was made to go the opposite way from the traffic and try and work out a way south towards Rouen and back onto the motorway further down, where hopefully it was open again.
After a wrong turn or two we found our way back to the A28 further south where, thankfully, it was open and we made good progress down to Le Mans, using motorways the whole way to make up for lost time. Once we finally made it to our campsite right next to the circuit, I discovered another couple of small problems. First was my aluminium sunroof panel; the urethane I had used to stick it to the roof, possibly due to the heat but mostly due to poor preparation by me, had come unstuck. Luckily I had added rivets for what turned out to be much-needed added security. The second small issue was with the pins used to hold on my boot panel; the bolts that held the plate on had shaken loose with only one out of the three to be found in the boot. Cue the gaffer tape to hold it on.
The racing at the Le Mans Classic was fantastic throughout all six grids, with BMW represented in three of them from the earliest 328 of 1937 through to the 2002Ti and the M10-powered Chevrons of the late ’60s, all the way to the 3.0 CSL and M1 Pro Cars of the ’70s. Seeing these cars race flat-out around one of, in my opinion, the greatest circuits on the planet was something to behold. With the final classification being a combination of all three races from each grid the BMWs put up a good showing, with a 328 finishing third overall in grid one for years 1923-1939. The M10-powered Chevron B8 finished a eighth overall and first in class in grid five for years 1966-1971 with the 2002Ti down in 45th but also first in class. The fire-spitting M1s of grid six (1972-1981) put in a fine showing, not only stirring the senses with sight and sound but finishing 13th overall and second in class.
One of the highlights for me was being able to walk around the paddocks at night watching all these historic cars being worked on, engines out, suspension work, clutch swaps and everything in between really evoking what it must have been like when they were racing originally. A walk around the car clubs lined up on the Bugatti Circuit turned up an interesting BMW oddity that I had to research, a Glas 2600. Turns out Glas was a German car manufacturer bought out by BMW in the ’60s with the last-of-the-line cars badged as BMWs before all Glas models were retired and BMW incorporated Glas into the company.
There was a whole host of other beautiful BMWs in the club area, my favourite being a nice chrome bumper E30 I caught driving by. BMW also had a fantastic display in the village behind the pits, using some historic cars from its past and mirrors to create a highly interesting piece of what can only be called art. My photos certainly don’t do it enough justice.
After a fantastic weekend, Monday morning rolled around far too soon, I could have seriously spent a few weeks there. After packing up the tent, some belt and braces remedial work was required to the E30 just to make sure nothing flew off on the drive back to Calais. I used a large amount of gaffer tape to ensure the boot panel was securely fixed and the sunroof panel was a little more airtight.
The drive back up through France still wasn’t trouble free though. I again noticed the temperature creeping up through towns but then it would return back to normal. After having problems with my electric fan during the engine rebuild I suspected an intermittent fault with the fan was to blame. Pulling into a petrol station just north of Rouen gave me the opportunity to fully diagnose the problem. It turned out to be a loose connection, most likely stemming from when I had the head off and strapped the wiring harness out of the way. No matter, some basic tools and electrical tape sorted it and the rest of the trip went smoothly… apart from yet another huge traffic jam heading into Calais.
So, after a long drive, I was finally home and the E30 did me proud. I was especially pleased with how the reconditioned head and new camshaft stood up to the 800-mile round trip. Now with a new list of jobs to do to the E30 along with the improvements I already had lined up, I have plenty to be getting on with…Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationROB’S #BMW-E30 / #BMW-318i / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 /
Finally I have come to the end of my replacement cylinder head saga. I ended last month with my new head assembled on the bench and now was the time to return it to its home on top of the block. Handily the block has locating dowels in it so plonking the head back on was a piece of cake and it’s as simple as placing the head bolts into place and using a torque wrench to tighten them to the correct torque as specified in the workshop manual. The pain of reassembly is in bolting on the manifolds due to the awkward positioning of the studs, which makes things very fiddly but just about doable with some unusual hand and arm contortions. Remembering where all the connections for the loom went on to the intake manifold and fuel system was made easier by looking at some detailed photos I took before I removed the head. In this age of smart phones with high quality cameras I recommend anyone to do the same if you’re undertaking any work which may include removing electrical connections which need to be reattached later.
With everything reattached and double and triple checked it was where it was supposed to be and tight, it was time to start the engine… after I had replaced the HT leads on the distributor in the right order. Oops. Stupid brain fade moments over with, the old girl fired up after a few turns to prime the fuel system. The engine was running but the timing was ever so slightly out. Without much knowledge on how to correctly set the ignition timing I took it down to a friend of mine who owns a garage to try and correctly set the timing and the idle, which he kindly did in about 15 minutes. Now, seeing as I have quite a racy Schrick cam it’s not running as smoothly as possible due to still having the standard L-Jetronic fuel injection, which can’t be remapped or chipped. It can, however, be tricked into running better by gapping the spark plugs a little more than standard to create a larger spark along with a 10º advance on the ignition timing and a tweak of the air flow meter spring to release pressure on the flap and allow more air in and trick the ECU in supplying more fuel.
The car is now running fairly smoothly. I had five days before my trip to Le Mans Classic and I needed to run the new head in before checking the valve clearances and a final torque of the head bolts. 500 miles and four days later I had the cam cover back off to check the clearances and rather fortuitously they had all stayed where I had originally set them. To finish off my preparations for Le Mans Classic I riveted the aluminium sunroof blank down as added security, fitted a wide-angled interior mirror and a mould-your-own-earplug kit, which will be handy while driving a stripped-out car on an over 800-mile round trip.
Tune in next month to find out how the trip went and if I even got there…Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationThis may have been Sean Clark’s first car in high school, but it’s all grown up now, with a level of refinement fit for a whiskey lounge. Words: Marcus Gibson / Photos: Adam Croy
BODY-SLAMMED BMW E30 TEST LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS OF BUILDING A DRIFT CAR / #1987 / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW-318i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #Toyota-1UZ-FE / #BMW-E30-Toyota-1UZ-FE / #Toyota / #Accuair-i-Level / #BMW-E30-V8 / #V8
Purchased as his first car in high school, Sean Clark’s E30 is all grown up now with a class that belongs in a whiskey lounge. V8 powered, with Accuair i-Level, one-off Rotiforms, candy paint and a killer interior, this E30 ticks all the boxes.
As the NZPC team members stood around with our tongues out, drooling over Sean Clark’s #BMW E30 during the photo shoot, in walked the guys from our sister magazine NZ Classic Car, who proceeded to make tongue-in-cheek remarks about how the suspension must be broken and ask where the hell the tyres were. Now, these guys know their way around an E30, but, given that the IS front lip was literally sitting on the ground while its rim lip was touching the guard, we could see how those old boys would be somewhat perplexed by what they saw in front of them. This car is a statement made with no apologies — it was engineered this way, what with its millimetre-perfect fitment and extremely deep candy paint, which grabs and holds your attention long enough to take in all the custom touches that can be found.
It all began during Sean’s high-school days (actually, four years ago, to be exact), when he came across an E30 already fitted with a Toyota 1UZ-FE 4.0-litre V8. A fan of the German ’80s icon, Sean hadn’t been looking for V8 power, but, when this popped up already cert’d, he saw it as a good base on which to build his dream E30. It was in need of some TLC, but, being a high-school student, he would have to wait until he got his first full-time job before he could sink some coin into the project. In the meantime, though, he was probably only the only kid at his high school rocking a V8 on a daily basis.
The air-management system runs a set of polished custom hard lines to feed the tank, AccuAir A4, and Air Lift air bags. The system has a wireless remote and can even be controlled by an iPhone app.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Sean is mainly influenced by mostly European-based E30s, which led to the first of the big modifications, as he told us: “All of my favourite E30s are on air. That was the first major modification I did. Simon from Get Low imported and installed the kit.” Getting the E30 down was a simple bolt-in affair using Air Lift struts with adjustable dampers. Like most of the latest air-ride kits we feature these days, Sean opted for a complete height-management system, in this case, AccuAir. With three preset heights — low, lower, and slammed — it’s a no-brainer over the finicky switch box and separate valve blocks of the past.
Those kits were loud, high maintenance, and it was a battle to get the height perfect. Having the control that Sean now does is a good thing when the lip of the rim actually sits square on the guard when fully deflated.
It was around that time that the E30 received its first set of rims, though those BBS Rs were soon replaced with custom fifteen52 Tarmacs, then, more recently, with a set of custom Rotiforms. To say Sean has a thing for wheels would be a gross understatement — but his size preference certainly made it hard. “I get bored of wheels pretty easy, and wanted to go three-piece and have something that would pop against the paint more,” he explained. “I talked to just about every wheel company out there, but the problem is that no one really makes three-piece 16s any more. I ended up getting James from 360 Link to convince Brian from Rotiform to produce these.” We are unsure what James from 360 Link said — perhaps he has a stash of questionable photos of Brian, or maybe Brian thinks all Kiwis are like Jake the Muss; either way, Rotiform obliged and put together this one-off set using BBS lips and gold hardware.
To further customize them once they landed in New Zealand, the boys at GT Refinishers laid down some candy and gold leaf on the centre caps.
The boys were also charged with a complete facelift conversion last year. Now, it might be a bolt-on conversion up front, but the rear took a little more commitment, as the team had to graft in the in the rear sheet metal from a later E30 around the boot and tail lights.
This required a facelift E30 to donate its life to the cause. The tail lights Sean chose are rare BMW Motorsport items imported from Germany, along with the Bosch smiley headlights and an MTech wing. The last job at GT was the reshaping of the rear guards to suit the super-low ride height. It was then on to deciding a colour — a job we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy. A four-month internal battle ensued as Sean went back and forth with his decision, eventually landing on custom candy red, sprayed over a silver base coat. “There are 10 coats all up I think, as I kept wanting it darker and darker. I was actually out of the country when he was spraying it so it was a little nerve-racking,” he said.
But, needless to say, Sean is hyped with how the exterior has turned out, and he has since shifted his focus inwards. First up, he went for a full interior retrim from Midnight Upholstery. Taking cues from the king of refinement, Singer, the front and rear seats were trimmed in a similar fashion to those beautiful Porsches. The front seats are actually Recaro fishnets from an Isuzu Bighorn that Sean scored for $100, and the rear is a not-so-common E30 variant with a centre armrest. As for the rest of the interior, it was kept all class in black — simple yet effective. The finishing touch, a vintage Momo Prototipo wheel.
Next on his hit list is attacking the engine bay. While the build has never been about all-out power or speed, and with the four litres there’s more than enough juice to decimate the factory equivalent, Sean still feels there is room for refinement, and he’s currently considering his plan of attack — individual throttle bodies (ITBs)? A supercharger? Who knows what he’ll end up with? We guess we will all have to wait and see. But, in the meantime, there is a long hot summer ahead of us, and Sean is ready to make the most of it with one push of the e-Level.
SEATS: (F) Retrimmed #Recaro LX, (R) retrimmed factory
STEERING WHEEL: #Momo Prototipo 350mm
INSTRUMENTATION: AccuAir e-Level
EXTRA: Custom headliner and carpet, custom boot set-up.
PAINT: Custom candy red by GT Refinishers
ENHANCEMENTS: Facelift conversion, IS front lip, IS sideskirts, custom front splitter, MTech 1 wing, German smiley headlights, German MHW tail lights, custom round Condor door handles.
GEARBOX: Toyota four-speed auto
DIFF: BMW E30
The body has recieved a facelift alongside some subtle upgrades such as the IS front lip and #MTech rear wing. Although it was bagged long before the facelift, yet the lip sits perfectly flush on the ground.
DRIVER/OWNER: Sean Clark
BUILD TIME: Four years
LENGTH OF OWNERSHIP: Four years
THANKS: A huge thanks to GT Refinishers; Get Low Customs; Midnight Upholstery; Rotiform New Zealand; my mate Daniel, for listening to me stress over the smallest of things and helping out
Discovered in an Isuzu Bighorn bought for $100, the Recaro fishnets have been retrimmed by Midnight upholstery in a Singer style, with bronze rivet vents.
ENGINE: #Toyota-1UZ-FE , 4000cc, eight-cylinder
EXHAUST: Custom headers, dual 2.5-inch pipes into single muffler
COOLING: Fenix radiator
STRUTS: Air Lift Performance air ride, KYB rear shocks, #AccuAir-E-Level , #AccuAir #iLevel
BRAKES: (F) #Wilwood four-pot calipers, #StopTech rotors, Wilwood pads, braided lines; (R) factory
WHEELS: (F) 16x8.5-inch #Rotiform three-piece forged CCV, gold hardware; (R) 16x9.5-inch Rotiform three-piece forged CCV, gold hardware
TYRES: (F) 195/40R16 Falken, (R) 205/40R16 Falken
Fitting the Lexus into the engine bay required a set of custom headers and has left little room for anything else, which could become a problem if Sean does decide to supercharge down the track.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ BMW / ROB’S / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-318i / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW
This month I discovered that you get what you pay for. I was just checking everything was kosher on the spare head I had been planning on using before bolting it onto the block but alas when I started checking it all was not as it seemed. I bought this head from eBay about four years ago. I was the only bidder and won it for a measly ten English pounds. Upon picking it up from a very friendly chap in Southampton I was informed he had rebuilt and refurbished it but it was no longer required. I handed over a crisp note and went gleefully on my way.
Fast forward four years and I am now dismantling the head I bought for a tenner. With a lot of help from my dad, who has built an engine before, we stripped down the head with a lot of swearing and some persuasion tools. It should not have been such a struggle but on inspection of the rocker shafts and cam it appears that, when it had been rebuilt by the chap I purchased it from, he had been rather rough and hammered the shafts back in, which in turn has warped them, so new shafts and a Schrick 292 degree cam were ordered, as well as new rockers and valve stem oil seals. The good news with the head is that the valve guides are new and it appears to have been skimmed so I’ll get a little extra compression. All in all, still a bargain for a tenner. Top tip, though, if you ever buy a cylinder head or any part of an engine secondhand, even if it looks good, strip it down if you can, to ensure all is in good working order.
Once the head was completely stripped down the first job was to lap the valves. This involves what is essentially a small plunger on a stick, known as a lapping tool, and two abrasive pastes, one coarse one fine, which are used to file away any imperfections in the valve seat and valve to create a perfect seal. You can get powered lapping tools but I only had a manual one to hand and it’s very labour intensive, dull, monotonous work. But with iTunes on shuffle, the three hours it took to finish the job passed quickly enough.
Next up, it was time to refit the valves. This was far simpler than I expected and actually really quite enjoyable. We used a special grease that’s designed for use when assembling precision engineering to coat the valve stems.
Then the valves are dropped into their guides and the oil seals are pushed over the stem onto the top of the guide. The trickier part of the valve assembly are the springs. They need to be compressed with a valve spring compressor (go figure!) and to get my compressor to sit properly was a little bit of a pain and took a couple of attempts with a few of the valves. However, it was not too annoying. The really fiddly bit, though, is fitting the collets onto the top of the valve stem while the compressor is in the way!
Using needle nose pliers and a small screwdriver to position the two collets onto each stem felt like I was playing that children’s board game Operation, just without that annoying buzzing when you got it wrong. With a little patience and steady hands all eight valves were installed. With the valves in, the cam was the next part of the puzzle. Again, with liberal amounts of grease, the cam slid into its journals without issue.
A couple of other things this month: I have had a set of 325i brake calipers blasted and now I’ve painted them silver they look almost new. This is quite something seeing as previously they looked like they had been dragged up from the bottom of the North Sea. I will hopefully have them installed as soon as I get the correct size seals for them, as the ones I was supplied with are too large. Also I thought I would point out what a superb workbench the front panel of an E30 makes; it’s perfect for storing all your tools during a head rebuild!
By the time you read this the E30 and I will be on our way to France for the Le Mans Classic, as I hope to have the head back on and engine running in a week or two. I should have another update before you can find out if both myself and the car make it to Le Mans…Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationROB’S #BMW-E30 / #BMW-318i / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW /
It’s been a busy month for me. Working split shifts and weekends restricts the amount of time I can spend on the E30 but every spare hour I’ve had this month has been spent on measuring, cutting and installing hard-coated polycarbonate to replace the glass. This should give me a 50% weight saving over the original glass items. Pre-cut polycarbonate windows are available but seeing as I’m trying to keep to a budget and my dad specialises in classic and race car glass, a full sheet was ordered for the same price as pre-cut. The bonus of this is that there will be enough to do my brother’s E30 318iS and probably even my Dad’s Mk1 Austin Mini. We’ll split the price so it’s a real bargain! The first job was to strip the doors down.
This included doorcards, windows and window regulators. The doorcards were easy to remove as they were just held on with a few clips. The front drop glasses were much the same – they came out easily. It was slightly harder to remove the rear drop glasses and the window regulators. It’s not that they were hard to get out, just fiddly. Eventually all the bits were out and I used the original glass as a template for the new polycarbonate. The new windows slotted back into the runners without any issues but here’s a top tip for you: remember to take the backing off both sides of the polycarb before you get it all back in the runners because otherwise you’ll have to take it all out again… like I had to.
Oops! The rear screen was also fairly easy to get out and cut into shape. Putting it back in without any help, though, was slightly more of a pain. It was almost like a ‘round peg, square hole’ situation with the flat polycarb and the curved aperture but after a small struggle I got it in. I still need to order and install a slider kit for the driver’s side and to make up some aluminium doorcards but I just ran out of time this month. Like I said, work does rather get in the way. So things to be getting on with asap include: welding in new metal where the small amount of rust is; getting rid of the sunroof; and installing a roll-cage. I’m hoping to take part in a sprint local to me in May so it’s all hands on deck for the next few months trying to get the old girl ready.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.