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    KING OF THE MOUNTAINS Turbo, wide-arch E30 Cab

    Logically, this E30 should have been scrapped long ago. But when you’re building a big-power toy for motorsport thrills and early-morning mountain runs, logic doesn’t always factor very highly… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Scott Sturdy.

    The Blue Ridge Parkway, running through North Carolina and into Virginia represents one of America’s great fusions of nature and technology. Scenic roads were something that American developers did uncannily well in the early half of the 20th century, and this particular one – a ribbon of Tarmac winding through gorgeous vistas of the Appalachian Mountains – is where Matthew Koppi’s love for BMWs was born. He’s the man behind this Olive green E30, and his passion for the marque stretches back decades. “I first fell in love with the BMW brand in my childhood,” he reminisces. “I live in the scenic mountains of Western North Carolina, and I used to see BMWs all over the twisty Blue Ridge Parkway in the ’80s. As a carobsessed kid the BMW was something that seemed like perfection; so graceful and nimble with timeless design.


    “I bought my first #BMW in 1999,” he continues, “while stationed in Vicenza, Italy. It was a 1983 323i with Alpina cams and other goodies that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. I bought it because of my childhood infatuation – plus the price was right for a young army private! It was the first car I owned with fully independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes, and also the first that I could drive over 100mph for extended periods of time without worrying about it exploding. I’ve been a devotee ever since!”

    All of this rather explains Matthew’s latest career move, setting up North Fork Autoworks in Barnardsville, North Carolina. Having turned wrenches for much of his adult career, this seemed like a logical move, although he’s keen to point out that throughout this E30’s build he was a full-time student, working on a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science.

    “All of the work on the car, from fabrication to paint, both in the engine bay and outside, was done by me,” he proudly explains. “The only thing I didn’t do completely on my own was the machine work, but I was there for every step of the process and even ran some of the machines!

    Basically, I was either directly responsible for every aspect of the car or I was intimately involved.” And with that forthright mission statement dealt with, we should probably rewind and take a peek at where this all started…

    Back in 2010, having returned to school and requiring a sensible-ish runabout Matthew was driving an old Suzuki Sidekick (that’s a Vitara to you and me) and questioning his choices somewhat. It was boring. And life’s too short for boring cars. So the idea of a fixer-upper E30 began to percolate, and you know what happens when the spark of inspiration’s arrived. It’s pretty much a done deal.

    This cabriolet appeared as a shabby little ragamuffin on Craigslist, but crucially the price was low. “The ad stated that the car ran when parked, but now wouldn’t start,” Matthew recalls. “It also disclosed that the interior and top were trashed. I arrived to find a car parked in tall grass behind a tiny house way back in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere! The previous owners were very nice and were at their wits’ end with the car. And they were painfully honest about it all. Truly the thing should have been parted out or crushed, but I was in love.

    It had bad rear wheel bearings, one front hub bearing was shot, bald tyres, ruined leather interior that had hardened and cracked beyond repair or comfort, the paint on every panel was faded and peeling, the battery tray was rusted through, it had an automatic transmission, wrong front wings, cracked aluminium bumpers, and the top was so far gone that there was water pooled in the floor despite the car being under two tarps. True to the ad, the engine would turn over but wouldn’t start, so the condition of the drivetrain was unknown.” Quite a catch, right? So as you can imagine, Matthew snapped it up and lovingly caressed it homeward, all the time reminiscing about those swooping mountain heroes on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    “First and foremost, I wanted to get it running and replace the top,” he explains. “It needed to be good enough to comfortably drive my young daughters around in as I continued to fix it up, and I originally planned to follow my old formula of decent wheels and lowered suspension… but that was before my first autocross event!” That’s right. The goalposts just shifted. First, though, is the matter of a knackered E30 which needs pretty much everything fixed…

    Job one was to get the old M20 ticking over sweetly and mated to a manual gearbox, something that Matthew did right away before fiddling with chips and fuelling and so on, and this setup lasted a couple of seasons of autocross. But power corrupts, and he was craving more, so he started pooling resources for an M5x swap… until the idea of a boosted M30 caught his eye, and from then on there was only one way forward.

    Now, M30s (that is, straight-six motors as found in the likes of the E28 5 Series, E24 6 Series and so on) have been swapped into E30s many times before, so there was a wealth of information available. What Matthew had to do was figure how to tailor the swap to his own unique requirements. After much consideration and research, he opted for an M30B34 block – for strength – with an M30B35 head and #Getrag 260/6 transmission. That was the base spec. Then the fun could begin.

    The block was bored out to take 94mm Wiseco pistons, increasing displacement to 3.6-litres, while the crankshaft was balanced and the head received all sorts of handcrafted custom work. A Rapid Spool Industries exhaust manifold allowed the fitment of that all-important turbo (originally a Holset HX40, now upgraded to a Borg Warner EFR 7670), and naturally the fuelling and management were beefed up to suit. A trick exhaust system soon followed, as did a Volvo intercooler, some more appropriate cams, and upgrades to the valvetrain. Piece by piece, Matthew’s masterpiece was falling into place. On a conservative tune and at just 13.8psi, the M30 was making 450hp – which certainly helped with those corruptive power cravings.

    So, the engine box was firmly ticked. Still a lot of other things to sort though, weren’t there? “I tried several different combinations of springs and dampers,” says Matthew.

    “Ultimately I used autocross and mountain roads to dial in my suspension; my current configuration consists of Bilstein Sport struts and shocks, H&R J-spec front springs, GE adjustable rear perches and springs, reinforced rear shock mounts, Vorshlag front camber plates, drop hats, and Treehouse Racing control arm bushings. I swapped in an E36 steering rack and, of course, replaced both front hub assemblies. For the rear subframe I installed the AKG 75D 12mm offset frame, diff mount bushings and trailing arm bushings.”

    Okay, so the thing works well now. But it needs to look good. What next? Aha, the body! “When I began fixing the bodywork issues, I ended up with five different colours on the car,” he laughs. “I couldn’t afford a traditional paint job due to being a student, and I still had a huge list of maintenance and repairs to tackle, so the idea of painting it myself in flat military green was very appealing. It had an aggressive feel to it, and allowed me to easily change and add body panels as needed. It also made all the trim work that much easier, because subdued black and flat green are perfectly paired!

    “The entire attitude of the car followed the suspension setup and colour choice, although modifications such as the Kamotors arch flares were a product of necessity – especially with 8”-wide wheels and 245-section tyres on the rear – that just happened to enhance the overall demeanour of the car.” That Foha three-piece spoiler was certainly a lucky find too, it complements the hammered-together-by- The-A-Team vibe perfectly.

    Of course, it’s no good having a car that goes like a train, handles like a sticky panther, and looks like a militaristic warlord if you don’t actually have anywhere to sit.

    That rain-saturated tan leather trim had to go. “The interior of the car was in a horrible state of decay and disrepair,” Matthew grimaces. “When I replaced the battery tray, I took the opportunity to swap the dash with a crack-free one; I then followed that with converting the interior to black since I wasn’t a fan of the tan anyway! Through the forums I made contact with Kevin Chinn of Creative Options to discuss an upholstery kit, and after several conversations I decided on microsuede centres on the seats with vinyl bolsters for ease of maintenance. The seams were done with factory-style French stitching in light Olive green.

    Before the seats went back in I dyed the carpet black, and so the weekend ended with me having stained and sore fingers but amazing upholstery!” When we ask Matthew what his favourite result of all this homegrown dabbling is, he’s quick to answer: it’s the engine bay. The functional, severe exterior just doesn’t prepare people for the sorted, shaved, shiny bay that hides under the bonnet, and it certainly raises eyebrows at shows. And raising eyebrows is what this car was built to do.

    All sorted, then? Job done? Oh, no – Matthew’s far from finished here. “My list of mods isn’t based on winning the lottery, it’s based on money over time,” he says. “I’ve slowly but surely built it to be what you see now, and as time goes on it will only improve. Stay tuned!” We certainly will. But in the meantime, Matthew, you’d better head off along that Parkway. There are childhood dreams there waiting to be fulfilled…

    Ultimately I used autocross and mountain roads to dial in my suspension.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE Turbo #BMW-E30 Cab / #BMW-M30 / #M30 / #Borg-Warner-EFR / #Borg-Warner / #M30-Turbo / #Megasquirt-MS2 / #Megasquirt / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-E30-Turbo / #BMW-E30-M30 / #H&R

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 bored out to 3573cc, #Borg-Warner-EFR-7670 turbo, #Tial 44mm wastegate, 94mm #Wiseco 8.7:1 forged pistons, #ARP head studs, Cometic MLS head gasket, M30B34 high-speed balanced and tuned crankshaft, 9.5 aluminium #Aasco flywheel, M30B35 ported and smoothed head, Cat Cams dual-profile turbo camshaft, IE heavy duty rockers, rocker locks, high performance springs, Rapid Spool Industries exhaust manifold, #Siemens-Deka 60lb/h injectors, Megasquirt MS2 engine management, custom fabricated oil distribution block for turbo feed and gauges, #Qbang engine mounts, Volvo 960 intercooler, Innovate LC-1 wideband controller, heat-wrapped 3.5” downpipe and wastegate piping, 3” straight-through exhaust with Magnaflow resonator and vband couplers, #Getrag-260/6 five-speed manual gearbox, Spec Racing stage 3+ clutch, Z3 short-shift

    POWER 450whp @ 5200rpm, 524lb ft of torque @ 4550rpm

    CHASSIS 8x16” ET20 (front and rear) XXR 521 wheels with 225/50 (front) and 245/45 (rear) #BF-Goodrich G-Force Sport tyres, #H&R-J-Spec front springs with #Bilstein Sport shocks, 650lb rear GE springs and adjusters, #Vorshlag camber plates, E36 steering rack, Treehouse Racing control arm bushings - powdercoated silver, stainless steel brake lines, ATE Orbital grooved front discs with Pagid pads, #Bremmerman cross-drilled rear discs, wheel stud conversion, #AKG 75D 12mm offset rear subframe and diff bushings, #AKG 75D trailing arm bushings

    EXTERIOR Kamotors arch flares, E30 front lip, DIY smoked Hella Ellipsoid lights, all-red taillights, plastic bumper swap, third brake light delete, three-piece Foha spoiler, DIY double brake light upgrade, Shadowline trim, satin finish Olive Drab green paint, Euro grilles, Euro plate filler, late model rear lower valance

    INTERIOR M-Tech 1 steering wheel, #VDO oil pressure, oil temperature and Innovate AFR gauges in DIY centre console, E36 rear view mirror, E34 leather handbrake handle, Justrack Econometer boost/vac gauge, Jaywood digital voltmeter, E36 window switches, brushed aluminium cluster rings and Alpina stripe, Creative Options interior upholstery kit, clutch stop, carpet dyed black, recovered windscreen, UUC weighted gear knob
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    912hp from four cylinders? Turbo S14-powered E30 will blow your mind.
    DUTCH COURAGE
    912hp turbocharged #S14 E30
    We’re not sure what’s scarier: building a 912hp turbocharged S14 E30 or driving it. Neither experience is for the fainthearted… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: RonV Photography.

    Let’s talk about specific output. Whatever horsepower figure you may lay bragging rights to, generally speaking it doesn’t matter how you got there, all that matters is what you’ve actually got. We all love power and having lots of it is great. But, what impresses everybody is making a lot of power from a little engine. Big V8s with big turbos are awesome, we’re big fans, but to get a small engine to produce some big numbers takes an inordinately large amount of effort and it’s something that elicits the universal respectful head nod because you have to be pretty flipping hardcore to go down this route. Surely only some sort of madman would attempt to extract 900hp from a 2.3-litre, four-cylinder S14? Surely?

    Well, in this case only a Maatman would attempt to do that. Tim Maatman, that is. Tim Maatman is hardcore. One glance at his purple monster of an E30 should tell you that. The car you see before you started out life as a shell, with no interior and no engine. It did have the Sport body kit already attached but that was it. Tim bought it off a friend and it was crying out for a greater purpose in life. That purpose was to serve as the host for a turbocharged engine, which itself had started out life in Tim’s E30 Touring and had been built up to 430hp. However this wasn’t enough to slake his thirst for power and so the past two years have been dedicated to the evolution of that original turbo engine concept into the beast of a powerplant you see before you here.

    Okay, Tim probably had a life around all that engine building but the idea of him locked away like a mad scientist working on his doomsday machine is the one we’d like to stick to.

    This mental image is given weight when Tim tells us that he’s done most of the work on the car himself. As you can imagine, a project like this requires a huge amount of work and most of that has been poured into the engine. It really is an incredible thing to look at, that engine, so industrial, mechanical and more than a little bit intimidating. It’s like the rest of the car has been built around it as some sort of containment system trying to rein in all that raw energy.

    The road to turbocharged S14 glory begin with Tim swapping his Touring’s original M40 to a slightly more potent M42 and the addition of a turbo running a KMS MP25 management system and, later, H profile con rods and turbo pistons. So far, so good. At least it was for a few weeks until the head cracked. “I spoke to John at KMS and he offered me an alternative: to supplement the parts ordered and my M42 engine for an S14 engine they had ready for a turbo,” Tim relates. “It was such an attractive offer that I couldn’t say no! The S14 was just fitted with CP turbo pistons while the other parts of the S14 were OEM, even the head gasket and head bolts. I picked up that engine and connected the MP25 management and an exhaust system made with a Precision 6262 turbo and it made 430hp at 0.8bar of boost.”

    Tim was happy, as any of us would have been, and ran the car in that configuration for a couple of years, taking it to his local drag strip numerous times with his personal best being an extremely impressive 11.7sec quarter-mile. But Tim had developed a taste for power and he wanted more…

    “I came into contact with Pure Performance Factory in Sweden and started to collect all the turbo information on the company’s forum. I then began buying all the beautiful parts I needed for a major renovation because I wanted at least 700hp,” Tim explains with a grin.

    The first incarnation of the new engine was ready in 2014 and Tim headed over to DP Engineering to see how much power he was making. “Over 680hp the V-belts were flying off and started breaking and we managed to hit 745hp before anything broke,” Tim continues. “I then fitted a larger turbo, a Precision 6466 dual ball bearing Gen 2, and we hit the dyno again; we started out on the old wastegate spring, which had held 0.8bar at 500hp but with the bigger turbo the boost creep caused this to shoot up to 1.3bar and on the first full run it made 700hp. This was not according to plan and less power than before so I changed the wastegate spring and this time we hit 850hp. Pieter at DP Engineering asked me how far I really wanted to go so I told him that 900hp is a nice number, so he started increasing the boost. At 1.9bar the engine made 880hp and at 2.0bar it hit 912hp and 685lb ft of torque so we stopped there; we then did numerous runs for fine tuning and the day ended with a big smile.” We’d be equally happy if we’d just come away with 912hp from a turbocharged S14. And, if you want to talk about specific output, that works out at 397hp/litre, which is eye-watering stuff. Absolutely awesome.

    The final spec list for this S14 is nothing short of astonishing but you’d expect nothing less from an engine making this sort of power, especially one this small. The engine runs the stock S14 crankshaft, although it’s been polished and balanced, along with H-profile con rods, CP pistons and an oil pump modified as per DTM specs. Larger intake and exhaust valves have been fitted as well as PPF valve springs and a custom PPF cam, adjustable camshaft pulleys and an S50B32 chain tensioner.

    We’ve mentioned the monster Precision turbo above and it sits on a custom manifold, sucking in air via a massive 130mm BMC cone filter and it runs a Precision 46mm wastegate, 50mm PPF blow-off valve and a custom 3.5-inch exhaust with a single Simons silencer while the exhaust itself exits under the offside sill.

    A massive 600x300x100mm front-mount intercooler helps to keep the intake air temperature down and it all feeds into the engine via a custom aluminium intake. As you’d expect from a car like this, the boot is filled with the E85-based fuel system, with a 45-litre Jaz fuel cell, twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps, and a number of Nuke Performance components including a Y splitter, fuel filter, fuel rail with four massive 2200cc Bosch motorsport injectors, FPR and vacuum station.

    Building your 900hp engine is one thing but keeping control of all that power is another matter altogether. And with so much effort having been expended under the bonnet you’d be shocked if Tim had scrimped elsewhere. Don’t worry, he didn’t…

    Step one was to sort the transmission because there’s a hell of a lot of power and torque trying to get to the rear wheels and you need something strong enough to cope with all of that, especially when drag racing, as Tim planned to. The gearbox in this E30 is an E60 530d six-speeder mated to a lightweight PPF 6kg chromoly flywheel, a Sachs motorsport clutch rated to 811lb ft of torque, and a custom propshaft by DriveteQ. An E28 M535i 210mm diff has been fitted, modified by Hardeman Motorsport with 30º/45º ramp angles and 75% locking, along with custom driveshafts and uprated CV joints. On the suspension front, KW V2 coilovers have been fitted up front along with GAZ camber plates from Hardeman Motorsport. At the rear you’ll find AVO drag coilovers with compression and rebound adjustment and rear camber and toe adjustment for maximum grip, Ireland Engineering anti-roll bars all-round, Powerflex rear subframe bushes, and Tim’s also carried out a five-stud conversion allround. The benefits of this are two-fold: it means he can run those extremely sexy AC Schnitzer Type II Racing wheels; more importantly, it also means he can run his 334mm Tarox discs with Porsche Brembo four-pot calipers up front on custom brackets with Ferodo DS2500 pads. The rears haven’t been forgotten about, sporting E30 Touring calipers (as they have a slightly larger piston), Tarox discs and Ferodo DS2500 pads with Goodridge hoses fitted all-round. Now often when a car is built for outright performance, aesthetics take a bit of a backseat. However, when you’re starting with an E30 you’re starting with a car that can’t help but look good, especially when it’s wearing the Sport kit like Tim’s is. Painting it Daytona violet certainly hasn’t done any harm either. The front spoiler has been drilled for lightness, there’s a lightweight Einzel Motorsport bonnet, and a Hartge rear spoiler as well.

    The interior is most definitely all business and we like the fact there’s nothing glamorous here: it’s all about making this E30 light, safe, and giving Tim somewhere to sit while he pilots it down the drag strip. There are no carpets or doorcards but neither are there are fancy metal chequer plate floor sections or lightweight door panels; there’s just bare metal and wires. The dash has been flocked and there’s a plethora of Stack gauges mounted where the central air vents would be to enable Tim to keep an eye on boost pressure, fuel pressure, oil pressure, the oil temp and EGT. There’s also an OMP steering wheel, a pair of single-piece Toora buckets with QSP fourpoint harnesses, plus a full, TIG-welded chromoly steel roll-cage.

    With 912hp and weighing just 1130kg, thanks to Tim’s extensive weight reduction programme, this E30 has 807hp per ton, more than any road-going Koenigsegg, Porsche, Lamborghini or Ferrari. This means that when Tim gets the chance to take it down the strip it’s going to be absolutely insane. Until he gets there he’s been enjoying it on the street: “It’s nice on the highway, the acceleration is delicious!” Of course, if you think 912hp is enough, you’re wrong because Tim is already thinking of more power, as he tells us: “There is still more to come with this setup. Four digits would be nice, though there are other things that I would like to do first, like install a carbon diffuser, the cage needs a little work, and I may even also go for methanol injection. My goal was always to build a nine-second car and I will achieve that. The question is ‘when’? If the engine survives this season then maybe in winter 2016/2017 I’ll try for 1000hp and then this project will be closed.”

    For a minute Tim looks deep in thought. “Given that I know I can build up an S54 to 1500hp I wonder if it would fit in the engine bay with a turbo on it?” he questions. We get the feeling he’d be up for finding out. For now, though, he’s got 900hp of turbocharged E30 to enjoy on the street, in sprint events and on the drag strip. And while building it may have been daunting, we wager that driving it is going to be an awful lot of fun.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW / Turbo / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-Turbo / #S14B23 / #S14-Turbo / #BMW-S14 / / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #Precision / #CP-Carrillo / #Bosch-XR4CS / #VAC-Motorsport / #AC-Schnitzer-Type-II-Racing / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E30 /

    ENGINE 2.3-litre four-cylinder S14B23 from E30 M3, polished and balanced S14B23 crankshaft with 84mm stroke, #ARP-2000 main studs, ARP block girdle, H-profile con rods with ARP 2000 bolts, CP Carrillo 94.5mm pistons, 9.0:1 compression ratio, HD piston pins, #Athena cut-ring head gasket, M52B28 piston oil squirters, modified DTM-style oil pump, 39mm Supertech Teflon-coated intake valves, 33mm #Supertech Inconel exhaust valves, S50B32 valve buckets, uprated PPF valve springs, custom PPF 283/283 11mm/11mm camshaft, adjustable camshaft pulleys, BMW S50B32 chain tensioner, engine blueprinted, 7.0-litre sump with VAC Motorsport oil pan baffle, custom T321 steel turbo exhaust manifold, aluminium intake, #Precision-6466-DBB-Gen-2-V-Band .82 AR turbo, Precision 46mm wastegate, PPF 50mm blow-off valve, 130mm BMC Twin Cone filter, 600x300x100mm tube and fin intercooler, three-inch intercooler piping, Samco connectors, 3.5-inch exhaust with single Simons silencer and exhaust tip exiting from sill, #Mocal oil cooler, Griffin aluminium radiator, Goodridge hoses and connectors, Jaz 45-litre fuel cell, 2x Bosch 044 fuel pumps, Nuke Performance Y-splitter, fuel filter, fuel rail, FPR and Vacuum Station, 4x Bosch motorsport 2200cc fuel injectors, #Goodridge PTFE AN08 feed, Goodridge PTFE AN06 return, Flex Fuel sensor (not connected), E85 fuel used, VEMS ECU, 2x EGT, Lambda, fast air temperature sensor, turbo back pressure logged, custom cam sensor, MAC four port boost control valve, Bosch XR4CS spark plugs, VAG coils, Moroso spark plug wires

    POWER AND TORQUE 912hp (2bar) @ 7500rpm. 685lb ft of torque (2bar) @ 6600rpm

    TRANSMISSION E60 530d six-speed gearbox, PPF 6kg chromoly flywheel, Sachs 811lb ft motorsport clutch, DriveteQ custom propshaft, #Hardeman-Motorsport E28 M535i 201mm diff with 30º/45º ramp angles and 75% locking, custom driveshafts, uprated CV joints

    CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front) and 9.5x17” (rear) AC Schnitzer Type II Racing wheels with 215/40 (front) Toyo or Zestino semi-slick tyres and 255/45 (rear) Dunlop SP9000 or Zestino semi-slick tyres or Hoosier D06 9.0/26/15.0” drag racing slicks, #KW-V2 coilovers with adjustable rebound (front), #GAZ camber plates, uniballs and M3 supporting arms, AVO drag coilovers with compression/rebound adjustment (rear), rear camber/toe adjustment Ireland Engineering anti-roll bars, #PowerFlex rear subframe polybushes, five-stud hub conversion, Porsche Brembo four-pot calipers with custom brackets and #Ferodo DS2500 pads and Tarox 335x32mm discs (front), E30 Touring calipers with Tarox discs and Ferodo DS2500 pads (rear), Goodridge brake hoses (f&r)

    Weight: 1130kg

    EXTERIOR Daytona violet, M Tech II body kit, #Hartge boot spoiler, lightened front bumper, Einzel Motorsport fibreglass bonnet

    INTERIOR Full chromoly TIG-welded roll-cage, flocked dashboard, Stack boost pressure, fuel pressure, oil pressure, oil temperature, exhaust gas temperature gauges, OMP steering wheel, Toora bucket seats, Samsonas H-pattern shifter, QSP three-inch four-point harnesses, VEMS app on tablet/phone

    THANKS Thanks to my friend Robin Kal for helping with building my engine, Pieter Oonincx from DP-Engineering for mapping the car, Gerben Vlogman and Robin Langeslag for all the custom machined parts, my wife Chantal for all her help with money and all the times I was away from home!

    “It’s nice on the highway the acceleration is delicious!”

    “At 2.0bar the engine hit 912hp and 685lb ft of torque so we stopped there”
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    BINARY LOVE

    Building a drift car requires a certain degree of barely contained madness, and this 520hp turbo E30 is exactly the sort of crazy that floats our boat. What was your first car like? Was it anywhere near as hardcore as this E30? Daniel Lavman’s drift-focused build is a lesson to us all… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Hjalmar van Hoek.

    If there’s one piece of advice from Red Dwarf’s neurotic android Kryten that we need to hold close to our hearts for all of our days, it’s this: ‘If you don’t #GOSUB a program loop, you’ll never get a subroutine’. Or, in more Lister-friendly parlance: ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’. It’s an obvious point but nevertheless one that stands to be remembered. You only live once and there’s no point spending your life thinking about what could have been. Why go off half-cocked? You’ll only regret it on your deathbed. ‘Why did I spend my thirties driving a diesel Vectra and trying to maximise my mpg instead of building a badass drift car?’ you may wonder.

    That, of course, is not going to be a concern for Daniel Lavman. He, as you’ve probably guessed, is the chap who nailed together this particular badass drift car and it doesn’t really need pointing out that he’s pretty happy with it. I mean, wouldn’t you be?

    The most eyebrow-raising element of this project (or, at least, the first eyebrow-raising element, for as you’re soon to discover there are a great many) is that this is Daniel’s first car. I know, let that sink in, give it some thought. I’ll just stew for a moment in the fact that my first car was a rusty 1.0-litre Nova, and we’ll regroup shortly when we’ve reassessed a few basic issues of perspective and lifestyle. Better? Okay, let’s find out what the deal is…

    “Yep, this was my first ever car,” Daniel confirms. Well, that’s cleared that up. “I’ve had a few other cars over the years but no full race builds of this scale.” The implication here is that there’s a certain sentimental attachment to this project, which will probably make a lot of sense to more than a few of you. How many can say that your current car is your first car? Probably not a huge number. But you’ll never forget your first car; it means freedom and enlightenment. It’s also a means to an end, probably bought cheaply and scrapped when it broke. I know my Nova was.

    (Although, to be fair, scrapping it was the kindest thing. The fewer cars in the world with 45hp engines the better.) But Daniel’s fledgling steps into E30 ownership evidently made quite an impression, as he just didn’t want to let the damn thing go.

    “I’ve always liked the E30 as a model,” he says. “I think it’s because of the size, you can build it into anything. It doesn’t get much cooler than a sick E30.” This is a view that we know is shared by a lot of readers given that our voting for the 2015 PBMW Car of the Year ultimately saw three different E30s vying for the title. The retro Eighties three-box is at its zenith right now, still being relatively affordable and representing a strong ‘my dad/neighbour/BTCC hero had one of those’ vibe.


    “I don’t even remember what the car was like when I got hold of it, it was that bad,” Daniel laughs. “But I know that it was in really, really bad shape; the grinder loved it! Just a few weeks after I bought it I’d totally stripped it down and welded in a roll-cage, changed the roof from steel to fibreglass, and swapped the M20B20 engine to an M50B25.” This last move was an act that planted a flag in the ground as a statement of intent, proving that Daniel wasn’t messing around. The M20 offered a sturdy but sober 120-something horsepower whereas its M50 successor knocked things up a notch with such treats as DOHC, coil-on-plug ignition, four valves per cylinder and a whole world of tuning opportunities. And with such mischief in mind the motor was never destined to remain stock; the idea behind slamming in a stronger motor was to sprinkle in a pocketful of stardust and see just how stellar the thing could be. We’re talking about a billet Precision 6262 turbo, a cooling system so clever it’s got a doctorate in engineering (er, possibly), and a Pinky and the Brain-style ECU calling the shots with a frightening demeanour hellbent on world domination. The upshot of Daniel’s relentless rebuilding and refining both inside and outside the engine? A mighty 518hp at 1.3bar of boost, bolstered by 502lb ft of torque. That really is quite a lot of torque, isn’t it?

    But this car hasn’t been built for pulling tree stumps from the ground. Take a look at the pictures, you’ll soon figure out the purpose of this thing: it’s a bona fide, dyedin- the-wool drift machine, taking no prisoners but plenty of names. The selfstyled ‘Dirty E30’ spends so much time going sideways it should have wipers fitted to the doors, and the strong spec list enables this smoky prowess to be done in fine style. Consider, as a starting point, the squareon view of the tail-end. Between the smoked tail-lights, where you’d generally expect to find a numberplate, you’ll see a seductively canted radiator setup with twin fans blowing a farewell salute to whoever happens to be behind – which, realistically, is basically everyone. The bodywork has been unceremoniously sliced away beneath the bumper, while the top half sports a spoiler like a skate ramp and a neatly drilled sheet of plastic to titillate the rear-view mirror. And that’s just one aspect of the aesthetic!

    Take a peep through the side window and you’ll spot a natty gear shifter with two elbows (don’t you wish you had two elbows on each side? The things you could do…), a whacking great hydraulic handbrake, an ohso- contemporary tablet to monitor the EMU ECU readouts, forthright fluid reservoirs, and an overall aura of Mad Max-meets-Ken Block. It’s a little frightening, frankly. “Back at the start, my plan was just to build a nice and fast street car,” Daniel recalls with no small amount of nostalgic amusement, “but that escalated quite fast and I changed my plans! I started to build it into a pure drift car for track use. One thing that I think is common for all car builds is that you always want to step things up, to upgrade the build, even when it seems like it’s finished. So after a few events in 2013 I decided to take the car to the next level, with a total rebuild centring around a new roll-cage from Divina Performance.”

    Daniel was absorbing all manner of treats from the drift scene and the E30 chassis found itself wearing drift-tuned D2 coilovers and a fairly astonishing lock kit, along with some stupefyingly large brakes to rein in the lunacy. After all, let’s not forget we’re talking about 518hp. That’s a lot!


    Remember those eyebrow-raising elements we were talking about? Yeah, we said they were plentiful. Daniel has been keen not just to build a devastatingly competitive skidder but to craft something that rewards onlookers with every glance, each fresh vista offering something new and exciting. There’s the fuel filler in the rear window, the towing-eye on the strut top (something that’s becoming a real darling of the scene these days), the way the vast turbo’s pipework snakes over the angled M50 head, the pins holding the bumpers on, the exhaust exiting through the front wing, the Aeroquip fittings… ah, hell, this list could go on all day. The point is that this E30 is a triumph of both function and form, and that’s by no means an easy thing to achieve. It goes like Thor himself has jammed a lightning bolt up its backside. It slips sideways with the ease and precision of a good ol’ boy line dancer. And it looks so animalistic it makes small children lose sleep. Now, some of you may be looking at this car and thinking ‘I’d have done such-and-such differently’ or ‘those aren’t the wheels I’d have chosen,’ but you have to remember that this is an evolving thing. It’s alive. Daniel is endlessly shaking up the formula, those ones and zeroes of its very binary code being reshuffled on a week-by-week basis.


    “Shortly after this photoshoot, something happened…” he reveals. “It must have been those beers in the workshop that did it, and then the grinder came out – and soon enough the car started morphing into E30 version 3.0! Even more extreme, I started working on removable wide-body wings and bash bars, an E34 M5 rear axle and, of course, more boost. I’m building a new engine for next season, too: a fully forged M50B28 which should have 750hp+. Watch this space!” You can follow his progress on Facebook, at facebook.com/DrtyE30.

    So you see this constant evolution is shaping the 3 Series into something formidable and always surprising and fresh. Daniel’s taken it out to a few Gatebil events to wow the crowds, along with a variety of local meets and drift events, and he feels so totally keyed into the car that he’ll indulge in a lot more drifting through 2016. It’s getting a lot of good reactions, too. And although a build like this polarises people – like a certain sticky breakfast spread, you either love it or hate it – if you’re anything like us, you’ll be in the former camp, your face resembling that particular Emoji that has hearts for eyes. This is binary love. And the drift-specific focus of this E30? It’s a hell of a subroutine.


    Custom widened arches front and rear look the part and help to accommodate nine-inch 16s.

    It must have been those beers in the workshop that did it, and then the grinder came out Daniel Lavman.

    The ‘Dirty E30’ spends so much time going sideways it should have wipers fitted to the doors Daniel Bevis

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE Turbo Drift #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-M50 / #BMW-E30-Turbo /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six M50B25 / M50 / #BMW-M50 (non-VANOS), #EMU #ECUMaster tuned by #PSI-Motor , #Precision-6262 billet turbo / #Precision , custom exhaust manifold and system, rearmounted cooling system, Z3 rear axle with 4.10 diff, #ZF five-speed gearbox, rebuilt M20 flywheel with #Sachs 618 pressure plate and sintered clutch, 518hp and 502lb ft at 1.3bar


    CHASSIS 9x16” (f & r) #OZ-Vega wheels with 215/40 (front) and 225/40 (rear) tyres, D2 Drift Spec coilovers, #T-Parts steering lock kit, #Brembo four-pots with 315mm discs (front) and two-pots with 270mm discs (rear) #OZ

    EXTERIOR Fully shaved and smoothed, rear doors welded up, custom wide arches front and rear, removable bash bar, custom aluminium rear spoiler, fibreglass roof

    INTERIOR #Custom-Divina-Performance TIG-welded cage, #Driftworks Cobra FIA fibreglass seats, #QSP six-point FIA harnesses, custom aluminium details, #Tilton-600 Series pedal assembly, custom shifter mechanism and handbrake, Samsung tablet for EMU ECUMaster readouts

    THANKS All of my friends who have been involved in the build! Also PSI Motor, Idefix Autoworkshop, #Divina-Performance , #TBM-Performance , Thagesson Motorsport, DDESIGN.NU, Flatoutperformance.se, T-Parts, Oljemagasinet.se, Brothers Garage, Spacers.se, and Svensk Turboservice AB

    Interior suitably stripped-out, with multiple gauges and a Samsung tablet displaying essential information.

    Multiple cooling hoses are fed by NACA ducts in the rear quarterlights in order to supply boot-mounted rad with air.

    Engine bay, and pretty much whole front end, dominated by massive 6262 turbo; vast intercooler occupies entire front area so rad (bottom right) now lives in the boot.
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