- Post is under moderationS52-SWAP E30
Slick, static and on Pokal splits
Still waters run deep. And if you think this E30 is simply a case of fancy wheels and a suspension drop, you’re about to get schooled at the next set of traffic lights… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Steve Hall.
With ultra-clean looks and sitting static over Pokal splits, this S52-swapped E30 is a slice of modified BMW perfection.
‘Ultimate’ is one of those words that gets thrown around hyperbolically these days, rather like ‘awesome’. If someone were to tell you that your shoes are awesome, you might reasonably hope that they’d then drop to their knees, speechless, agog, unable to mentally process the sheer magnificence of said shoes. No? Of course not! Language evolves by the manner in which it’s spoken.
‘Awesome’ just means ‘good’ nowadays. But ‘ultimate’, that should still carry some weight, surely? The term either means a) the final point of a process or b) the best or most extreme example of something. So we’re going to shock you here and posit that the car you’re looking at is a strong contender for the title of ‘the ultimate E30’.
I know, it’s a bit of a melon-twister, but stick with it. It may seem an extraordinary claim, given the sheer wealth of high-quality second-gen 3 Series out there, many of which have been adoringly showcased in these very pages, but this one’s owner – Scott from Renown Steering Wheels, no less – makes a pretty strong case for it. “It’s all in the details,” he grins. “The best colour, a very clean interior, the best engine with strong power everywhere, amazing looks, light weight – it’s hard to beat!”
Compelling indeed but is that little shopping list enough? The answer is yes, but let’s make the scenery go all wibbly for a second as we hop back in time to build a bit of back-story. It’ll help you see where all of this came from.
“I’ve loved cars my whole life, mostly ’80s motorsport themed cars,” Scott explains. “When I was a kid, my uncle had an E30 M3, and from the first time sitting in it I was mesmerised. Everything about it was so driver-centric – how the dash was angled towards the driver, the instantaneous response, its composure in corners…
“My first car was an ’87 Supra in metallic brown; not great in Wisconsin winters but a superb GT car, and to this day I love an in-line six noise. Then I got one of my dream cars, a Mk2 Golf GTI, and I’ve had a dozen Mk2s since. I still have one. I got my first E30 while finishing college. I’ve had over 60 cars, ranging from my ’90s WRC dream cars – like the GC8 STi and a few screaming S2000s – to many, many old BMWs.”
Okay, so he’s set the scene pretty neatly. That E30 of his college days must have made quite a lasting impression, then, in conjunction with the memories of his uncle’s old M3? “Yes, I’ve had lots of E30s,” Scott confirms, “and I couldn’t resist this one. I bought it within hours of it being listed online. It was a very well-looked-after 318iS in my favourite colour, Diamond Schwartz Metallic, with a cloth interior and a few very tasteful mods. I just knew I could turn it into the ultimate E30… and I’ve had it for six years now; while I’ve had several other E30s in that time, this has always been the one that’s received the most love.”
Now, we’re going to cut to the chase and face up to the one thing that’ll really annoy classic BMW purists: the engine swap. For while the 318iS is much sought after for its purity and cult classic status, that wasn’t enough to encourage Scott to keep it all stock. “I am a huge fan of the M42 engine,” he assures us, “and the car handled amazingly and could be driven 100% because, while it isn’t very powerful, the balance is incredible and requires good driving to be fast. But the motor got tired eventually, so the decision was made to go for a naturally aspirated S52 setup with mods to get the most power out of it and to remain reliable.”
He says this airily, as if it’s all in a day’s work, but an S52 swap is a very cool thing indeed for an E30. In a nutshell, the S52 is a high-performance variant of the venerated M52 straight-six, and you’d normally find it in the North American-market face-lifted E36 M3. You’re looking at a 3.2-litre displacement and an output of 240hp right out-of-the-box. Saucy stuff for a 318iS, right?
Of course, this was a considered conversion, Scott didn’t just say ‘okay, my M42’s knackered, let’s find something else to plonk in there’. The OBD1-converted M3 motor brought its native gearbox and propshaft along for the ride, with an LSD out back facilitating the hijinks. The sump has been necessarily truncated and wears an armoured skidplate – you’ll see why in a moment – while the engine also enjoys an M50 intake manifold, juicy fuelling, and a robust remap. Quite a lot of shove to shoehorn into a 318iS, then, but Scott’s kept it subtle, the custom exhaust culminating in an iS-style tailpipe to keep people guessing. So why armour-plate the underneath?
Because this thing is low, that’s why. And static, too, not hopping on air or hydros. Ground Control coilovers keep the rubber snugly acquainted with the arches and again Scott’s taken a holistic approach to the chassis: chunky anti-roll bars, M3 control arms and a quick Z3 steering rack make the E30 eminently chuckable. Then there’s a set of E30 M3 Brembos to rein it all back in again. Perfect for canyonrunning, as well as the odd trip to the track. “It’s been a battle to get the car as balanced as it was before with the added weight and power,” Scott says, “but it is deceivingly fast in just about any situation!” Which is just the way it should be. We like ‘deceivingly fast’, together they’re two of our favourite words.
What really stands out when Scott’s waxing lyrical about his E30 is how much he cares about the details. There are a lot of people out there who’ll just farm a project out to a professional builder on the assumption that the right choices will be made but Scott really does sweat the small stuff. It’s no coincidence that he’s the driving force behind Renown USA – he likes things done right, and if the right way doesn’t yet exist, he does it himself.
“I started Renown at the end of 2014, because I couldn’t find the parts I wanted for my cars,” he explains. “I’ve always been fascinated with steering wheels, and for many of the cars I love, the original steering wheel isn’t that interesting and definitely not the best choice for spirited driving. So I wanted to create a brand that would offer products that feel like they belong in the car, have proper aesthetics that don’t look like they’re begging for attention, and enhance the driving experience.” Naturally he needs the most extrovert Renown wheel possible in his own car, which is why you see a startlingly blue example here – a clear focal point for the interior. “I started Renown with the help of this E30’s character, and continue to test all products in this car,” he says. “I plan to continue making it the best it can be – that’s why, for me, it’s the ultimate E30. You can follow my BMW adventures on Instagram too, on @renownusa – things are always changing.”
What Scott enjoys most about his car is its initial stealth-like element of surprise. When he’s not out driving the canyons or commuting through San Francisco, he can often be found at car shows and meets across LA, where he constantly enjoys the double-takes of passers-by who at first assume that it’s just another clean 3 Series, before zooming in for a closer look and unearthing all the work that’s gone into it. Because there’s a lot. While a first glance may sideline the car as a simple stop-drop-and- roll, there’s so much going on under the surface, like the frantically flapping feet beneath a serenely floating swan.
So is it the ultimate E30? No, we’re not going to go that far – there’s a lot of you out there doing cool stuff, and we know you’ll continue to push the boundaries. But it is Scott’s ultimate E30, and that’s all it needs to be. He’s set the bar pretty damn high with this one, hasn’t he? Power, looks, poise, quality, subtlety… it’s the product of relentless refinement, and it shows.
Interior has been treated to a bright blue Renown Monaco steering wheel and sexy Renown Carousel carbon gear knob.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE S52-swapped #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-S52 / #Pokal-Felgen / #BMW /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / #S52 / #BMW-S52 from US E36 M3, OBD1 conversion, M50 intake manifold, E39 M5 3.5” intake, #Bosch-Cobra injectors, #Turner-Motorsport tune, shortened oil pan, #Red46 Sump Armor skidplate, custom exhaust with OEM 318iS-style tailpipe, E36 M3 #ZF320 gearbox, E36 M3 propshaft, OEM Z4 short-shift, OEM 2.93 LSD
CHASSIS 9x17” (front) and 10.5x17” (rear) #Pokal-Felgen-GRB10SC wheels with 215/40 (front) and 235/40 (rear) Falken Azenis F tyres, E30 M3 five-stud hubs, E30 M3 aluminium control arms, #Ground-Control coilovers, #AKG bushings, front and rear anti-roll bars, Z3 steering rack, Sparco Motorsport solid tower bar, E30 M3 Brembo brakes, stainless steel brake lines, Porsche brake booster
EXTERIOR Diamond Schwartz Metallic, non-sunroof, shaved keyholes, windscreen washer jets and antenna, smoothed bumpers, OEM Euro grilles, trim and numberplate panel, OEM Hella smiley headlights, iS sideskirts, Hella smoked indicators, DDM 5k HID lights, BBS spoiler
INTERIOR Renown Monaco Motorsport steering wheel in blue suede, Renown Carousel carbon-fibre gear knob, Renown Motorsport gaiters, OEM Euro Recaro cloth interior and rear headrests, E87 1M floor mats, OEM black carpet and map light mirror, E30Head console cupholder
THANKS Elizabeth at PBMW, Adam Radzi, Sutton, Evan Van Tran, Yoshi of Pokal, Tyson of DirtyThirty, Fatlace, my fiancée, and the entire Renown family around the world
“It is deceivingly fast in just about any situation”
“I plan to continue making it the best it can be – that’s why it’s the ultimate E30”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationHULA-FLUSH
A stunning #S52-swapped E30 from Hawaii. Hawaii’s Wil Snyder may have started his E30 build whilst at high school, but now he’s doing nothing but schooling others with an S52 swap and a stance to die for – did someone say Hellaflush? Words: Ben Koflach /// Photos: Sam Dobbins
Hawaii. It’s not a big place, but there’s a lot more to it than pineapples and hula skirts. Take Wil Syder’s E30 for example; since buying it at high school, he’s built it up bit-by-bit to create what is – I’d be willing to bet – Hawaii’s finest.
Things began with Wil’s first car, which was also an E30. It gave him the bug that no doubt resulted in the car you see before you, but his first car wasn’t to be… It was working fine until, in 2005, a pair of 80- something-year-olds didn’t spot it and crashed into it head on. So it was time for Wil to look for another car, and that same day he spotted what was, in his eyes, the perfect replacement. “It was like it was meant to be, though the car was pretty bad,” he says, “the bodywork was oxidised and the clutch was seized, but I knew I had to have it.”
Fitting working on the car around high school, it was always Wil’s plan to build his new E30 into a race car, “then stance really came out, and I got into it. I loved it,” he laughs. So with that in mind, Wil set about preparing the car for paint. With budget a particular key factor, he decided to complete the work himself, and after getting the exterior prim and proper – as well as removing the aerial, washer jets and rear spoiler whilst binning the chunky chrome bumpers and fitting slicker plastic items from the later E30s – it was almost time for the paint.
As with any stance-pursuing build, it was going to be essential to run the tyres as close to the arches as possible, and therefore some arch rolling was in order. “Out of everything I’ve done on the car, getting the arches rolled nicely was really difficult. The rear arch fold is really thick on E30s – in the end it was easier to cut it out.” With that completed and the car freshly painted, it was time to really take the gloves off…
“I found the wheels in a junkyard next door to where I used to work,” explains Wil, “they were the wrong PCD but the guy selling them didn’t have a clue what they were so I picked them up cheap and set about rebuilding them myself.” Wil started with the centres, which were sent to Rotiform for redrilling, taking them from 114x4 to an E30-friendly 4x100. At the same time, they were powdercoated in silver for a fresher appearance when compared to the shabby state they’d been in. Next up, Wil placed an order for gold bolts and monstrous 3” stepped lips, which he used to rebuild the wheels himself. The result? Going from a 6.5x15” ET36 to a 9x15” ET4 with deeper dishes than I think I’ve ever seen on a set of RS’.
You might expect the decision of what to shoe the BBS’ in to be a simple one – the skinniest tyre that can be stretched on it, right? Well, wrong. Harking back to his original intention of building a race car, chunky 225/50 Falkens grace each corner.
It’s certainly controversial, but it really works and spells out a bit of menacing intention. For keeping the tyres nicely snug with the arches, Wil has used Ground Control coilovers, comprising Koni struts which have been shortened 2” at the front, with 525lb springs at the front and 750lb items at the rear. Combine those with Treehouse Racing front control arm bushes, as well as the other bushes, which have been swapped out for superior polyurethane items, Ground Control camber plates and Suspension Techniques anti-roll bars, and you’ve got a rather promising looking chassis. Wil hasn’t been shy with the stance either – with front camber set to the maximum and the tyres practically skimming the arches, it sure as hell looks effective.
The next area to catch Wil’s attention was under the bonnet. S52 swaps are becoming more and more popular over the Pond, and with it being a relatively simple conversion, he decided it was time he got involved. Being on a tight budget, Wil decided that the best way to achieve the swap was by going along to a car auction which was selling insurance write-offs. As it turned out, he managed to bag himself an accident damaged ’98 Z3 M for just $1400. And once it was home, it wasn’t long before Wil had stripped it of its S52 engine and running gear to put into the E30. “The motor swap was straight forward – four days after picking up the first spanner, it was in and running,” smiles Wil.
Some guys have all the luck, eh? And skill. With 3.2 litres of straight-six now nestled under the bonnet, a Z3M gearbox, propshaft and a 3.23 final drive ratio limited-slip differential, Wil really had the performance he’d always sought after. But for him, it wasn’t quite enough.
As well as having been converted to OBD1 for the engine swap, Wil fitted a 3” custom exhaust to make everything fit properly, and to give it some extra shout. This was linked to free-flowing Euro-replica exhaust manifolds, and to match air and fuel flow at the other end, Wil’s utilised a 3.5” air mass meter (from Euro-spec E36 M3s and E39 5 Series V8s) and 21.5lb/hr injectors. A Turner Motorsport chip and underdrive pulleys finish it off. Wil also fitted an E34 M5 master cylinder, brake servo and custom remote reservoir – making more room under the bonnet – and saving the sump from certain death is a RaceSkids 24v-specific skid plate, which sits 1.25” off the floor.
During a recent dyno session, the results Wil’s E30 achieved were very respectable – despite only being relatively mildly tuned, the S52 managed to peak at 219.98bhp and 211.52lb ft of torque at the wheels – certainly enough to propel the E30 along the Hawaiian roads at quite a speed.
Finishing the car off, and sticking to the race car dreams that he’d always had, Wil decided to strip out all of the carpet, sound deadening and quite a few chunks of interior trim. He then installed a few gauges and a dished Sparco steering wheel – a quirky contrast with the black leathers. Wil’s debating whether to install a roll-cage in the future, but whatever he does, I’m sure it’ll only enhance this rather cool E30.
Still think Hawaii hasn’t got much to offer the #BMW scene? Think again. Wil’s shown that loving a trend doesn’t mean you have to build the same as everyone else. Love it or loathe it, you can’t deny that this E30 has impact. Built not bought, DIY… however you want to describe it, Wil’s done it all himself, and the results are as slick-as-you-like. Who says cars built on a budget can’t rule?
An S52 swap with some mild tuning sees Wil’s E30 performing like the race car he’s always dreamed of, while camber plates are set at maximum negative camber for a killer stance!
Chunky 225/50 Falkens grace each corner. It’s certainly controversial, but it really works and spells out a bit of menacing intention.
DATA FILE #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-S52 / #BMW-E30-Coupe / #Turner-Motorsport / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre straight-six #S52 / #BMW-S52 , converted to OBD1, 3.5” #MAF sensor, 21.5lb/hr injectors, #Turner-Motorsport underdrive pullies, #Euroreplica exhaust manifolds, 3” custom exhaust, Turner chip, #Raceskids 24V skid plate, Z3 M Roadster gearbox and diff (3.23 LSD)
CHASSIS: 9x15” #ET4 #BBS-RS three-piece split-rims, 3” lips and gold bolts, centres powdercoated and redrilled for 4x100 PCD, shod in 225/50 Falken tyres. #Ground-Control coilovers using front adjustable Koni shocks and rear #Koni yellow shocks, front strut housings cut 2”, 525lb front springs, 750lb rear springs, Ground Control camber plates, Suspension Techniques front and rear anti-roll bars, Treehouse racing front control arm bushings and fully polybushed elsewhere, new ball joints, Z3 M Roadster steering rack and pinion. Standard brakes with E34 M5 master cylinder and servo with custom remote reservoir
EXTERIOR: Full respray in #Misano red, plastic bumpers, washer jets and aerial removed, iS splitter
INTERIOR: #Sparco dished steering wheel, carpets and sound deadening removed, various gauges added
THANKS: My girlfriend for supporting me and putting up with the long nights and money spent on the car, Rotiform for sorting the wheels, everyone else who has got involved with the car, Sam Dobbins for the shootStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.