- Post is under moderationFIRST WORDS
First things first, we begin this issue with an announcement: we have new bosses as PBMW now belongs to Kelsey Media Ltd, whereas before we were owned by Unity Media Plc. Obviously what you’re interested in is how this affects you, and it’s all good news. Most importantly, #PBMW isn’t going anywhere so you’re still going to get your regular modified BMW fix, no worries there, and while both cover and subscription prices have been adjusted you’re now getting 13 issues a year rather than 12, as the magazine will now be on sale every four weeks rather than once a month. This means even more modified #BMW goodness to wrap your reading gear around throughout the year. No complaints then!
Hopefully January didn’t drag you down too far and you’re on the up, getting excited about the prospect of warmer weather and hitting the shows. Got exciting new plans? New wheels? New paint? Ready to go or still planning? Whatever your situation, we can’t wait to see what’s new on the BMW scene once show season kicks off.
As for the right now, you’ve got the March issue in your hands to put a smile on your face and it’s packed full of awesomeness. Where to begin? How about with our cover car? Griot’s-Motors rocked SEMA with its insane E30 Touring and now it’s here to rock your world. This two-door, #V8-powered , M3-bodied machine is unlike anything we’ve ever seen and it’s an incredible build from top to bottom. We’ve also got 2M Autowerks’ awesome E46, which started out life as a 330Ci but now boasts a custom metal wide-body rear end, sits on HRE splits and then there’s the small matter of that S54 swap. Closer to home there’s an insane, #BMW-S62 #V8-swapped E34 drift beast, a wild 476hp 135i, and a super-clean E36 Touring for you to enjoy, plus our Car of the Year results!
In fact, there’s so much to enjoy that we should stop wasting time with idle chat and let you get on with reading the issue. We’ll see you next month.
Griotʼs-Motors two-door #BMW-E30 / #BMW-V8 / #BMW-Touring / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E30 / #BMW / #Griot's-Garage / #BMW-E30-Griotʼs-Motors / #BMW-Touring-2-door / #BMW-E30-M60 / #BMW-E30-V8 / #Getrag / #HRE /Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationPASSION WAGON #BMW-M3
Griot’s Motors unleashes its V8-powered, two-door, #BMW-M3-bodied E30 #BMW-M3-Touring . Two-door, M3-bodied, #V8-powered E30 Touring.
Astonishing in its vision, astounding in its execution, just plain awesome by its very existence, the Griot’s Motors two-door, #V8-swapped , #M3-bodied E30 #BMW-M3-Touring-E30 is quite unlike anything we’ve ever seen… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Kevin Uy.
What’s amazing about the modified BMW scene is that, just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone comes along and produces something the likes of which you’ve never seen before. It’s no mean feat, and you’re looking at one such creation right now. It is a two-door, #M3-bodied-E30-Touring powered by a 4.0-litre M60 V8. This creation is the brainchild of the Griot’s (pronounced Gree-oh’s) Motors team, itself the skunkworks division of Griot’s Garage – a car care manufacturing company based over in Tacoma, Washington, USA. If you’ve never heard of Tacoma, look up Galloping Gertie, an infamous bridge that collapsed in 1940 due to strong winds. And if you’ve never heard the term skunkworks before, it’s basically a name given to an experimental department of a company.
Griot’s Motors was started by Richard and Phillip Griot. “The garage buys, sells, restores and modifies a wide variety of classic cars,” says Nick Griot. “Our main restoration shop is actually part of the Griot’s Garage headquarters.” Skunkworks it may be but Griot’s Motors is an impressive operation in itself, with around 70 cars currently held in the company’s collection, which is constantly changing as cars are completed, sold on and new ones purchased. BMWs naturally make up a portion of this collection, with a number of modern and classic examples along with a couple of motorbikes. “BMWs have always been of interest to us as they represent a perfect blend of design and function which carries through to the people who buy them,” explains Nick.
“BMW owners are passionate about racing, preserving, modifying and maintaining their cars – which is pretty much us in a nutshell. Griot’s Garage is also the exclusive Car Care Provider for the BMW Car Club of America so we are actively invested in the BMW community and do a lot with the club every year.”
That’s all well and good but it doesn’t explain how this insane E30 Touring came about. “At Griot’s Motors we basically focus on modernising cars without losing any of their vintage attributes,” explains Nick. “And we are constantly looking for unique, hard-to- find cars. This was a car we wanted to own just because we finally could. E30 Tourings were never imported to the States and, generally, a car must be over 25-yearsold to be able to be imported and registered. We found this car for sale in Florida and it had made its way there from Germany via Japan. It was in good original condition, and very complete, so we bought it thinking it would remain relatively stock and would be enjoyed as it was. However, once we got the car and saw the wear and tear and significant paint degradation we knew it was in need of restoration, which is where we went a little mad and cooked up a crazy vision for the car – one that had never been done before.”
The blame for everything that you see here can really be placed on Richard’s shoulders, as Nick explains: “After sitting in the car he stated that visibility was not up to his standards and he wondered aloud about the potential of longer doors from an E30 Coupé to improve visibility. That started the discussion of the two-door conversion, which led us all the way to M3 body work, an engine swap, and custom fabrication.”
The bodywork didn’t come first, though, that honour goes to the engine, but it’s too big a deal for us not to get excited about it. The sheer amount of extensive custom fab work that’s gone into making the dream a reality is mind-boggling. With the seed sown, the Griot’s Motors team started exploring the idea of the two-door conversion and, after taking some measurements from their pair of E30 M3s, they realised that the M3 bodywork would work very well. With what might seem like an insane idea now looking eminently achievable the car was delivered to J-Rod & Custom who began the Herculean task of turning four doors into two and making it all look like a factory job.
The B-pillar had to be moved back nine inches in order to be able to accept the longer doors. A completely custom frame had to be built into the space vacated by the rear doors. And new inner wheel wells were created to accommodate the wider M3 rear arches (the quarter panels having been sourced from Germany). The rear light housings had to be modified to fit the standard light clusters, new window trim was also created and the glass from the rear saloon doors was used between the B- and C-pillar. The front arches fitted straight on and all the remaining body parts are OE #BMW items with bumpers and side skirts acquired from local BMW enthusiasts. The finishing touch involved six coats of PPG Deltron Griot’s Red. The end result is nothing short of spectacular. Nick says the goal was to create a car that looked like a factory product, and that’s been achieved and then some. The bodywork is perfect, the paint finish flawless, and the combination of Touring body, two-door configuration, and M3 arches is breathtaking. No doubt there are plenty of Touring enthusiasts out there choking with rage right now but you’d have to be a fool to look at this E30 and think it doesn’t look anything less than perfect.
As we briefly touched upon earlier, the engine was actually the first step in the build process and, when it came to the V8 swap, the Griot’s team worked to the same exacting, obsessive standards to ensure that, bonnet up, the engine bay would leave onlookers as floored as the rest of the car. Before all this madness began there was a 2.5-litre M20 under the bonnet but that simply wouldn’t do for a car of this calibre, which is why an engine swap was a necessity. The engine in question is from a #1995 E34 540i, purchased in its entirety to provide the E30 Touring with not only that lusty 4.0-litre #V8 but also a six-speed manual gearbox and engine wiring harness, making for an easy engine exchange, with the V8 sitting on custom mounts along with a fabricated transmission saddle and tunnel reinforcement to support it. But the engine swap itself isn’t the only impressive part, it’s the work that’s gone on around it, the attention to detail, that impresses the most. Prior to the insertion of the V8, the engine bay was shaved and smoothed to remove any and all holes and brackets. “The plan,” says Nick, “was to have an extremely simple engine bay that showed off the most beautiful aspects of the engine without the clutter of wiring and engine accessories.”
The brake booster, he says, was removed and has been replaced with a full pedal assembly inside the car and then reservoirs were fabricated in-house for coolant, brake/clutch, and power steering fluids.
These were then machined with threads that corresponded with the factory reservoir caps, giving the custom parts a factory appearance. As a result of this painstaking attention to detail the engine bay is nothing short of a work of art. It’s clean enough to eat your dinner off and it ensures that all eyes are immediately drawn to that V8, itself embellished with red painted rocker covers and a classic BMW roundel on the engine cover. A custom cold air feed, utilising a large velocity stack located in the passenger side high beam hole and an in-line filter, supplies the big V8 with all the air it can ingest. Elsewhere the Griot’s team has fitted V8 X5 exhaust manifolds with a custom T304 stainless steel exhaust system, while a custom driveshaft and 2.93 LSD-equipped rear end have also been fitted.
Killer one-off styling and a sweet engine swap are all well and good but it’s only a job half done where a major project like this is concerned. Now came the turn of the chassis to be comprehensively overhauled. Step one involved removing the front and rear subframes and completely refreshing them, with both being reinforced in key areas before being powdercoated satin black. The E30 received polybushes throughout and camber adjustment was added to the rear trailing arms. “The front strut assemblies were sent to Ground Control and the guys there worked their magic, shortening and reinforcing the strut housings so we could get the car as low as we wanted,” explains Nick. “They also provided us with the Koni shocks, front camber plates, spring perches, and new springs that would accommodate the increase in weight from the V8.”
With the Ground Control coilover setup endowing the E30 with pretty much the perfect ride height, all that was needed now was the perfect set of wheels to adequately fill those swollen arches. You’ve no doubt been staring at the pictures for a while now so you’ve probably identified what the Griot’s Motors team decided to fit: HREs. Is it wrong to get excited about HREs? Like, really, really excited? They just look so good here. Choosing a flat-faced wheel rather than the default dished design is a bit of a ‘woah’ moment but, despite being a thoroughly modern wheel, the classic crossspoke design brings to mind the BBSs that the E30 M3 originally wore so well. And that’s exactly why these 501Ms were selected for this build. They allowed the Griot’s team to keep that factory look while giving them the modern size and width options they wanted for an aggressive stance. And while deciding on the final colour took some time, the brushed gold that was chosen is not only gorgeous but a perfect match for that bright red body.
Right now, you’re probably reeling because, let’s be honest, there’s a hell of a lot to take in here, but Griot’s isn’t finished with you just yet because now we come to the interior. And, well, it’s a bit special. Up front, the M3 theme has been carried over from the outside with reproduction tricolour M Tech cloth applied to the doorcards and front seats, a retrimmed M Tech I steering wheel with tricolour stitching, and an M gear knob.
In the back, however, well that’s where everything goes crazy. The rear passenger and luggage area has been transformed into a mobile product display and valeting station: this is a car that can wash itself.
Well, not literally, but you know what we mean. The rear seats have been replaced with a custom aluminium water tank and hose while the entire boot has been fitted with a custom enclosure that allows the entire range of Griot’s Garage detailing products and polishers to be displayed. The whole affair has been beautifully finished and looks magnificent. It’s a very different boot build to the ones we’re used to seeing but no less impressive.
The Griot’s Motors E30 Touring is the vehicular embodiment of what Griot’s Garage and its skunkworks outfit stand for. It’s an incredible creation, one that’s come about from the vision and imagination of a small group of guys and one that could only have been created by people with nothing less than absolute passion for cars and for modifying them – because what kind of person decides to build a two-door Touring?
So much care and attention has been poured into not just making sure that the end result looks absolutely perfect, which it does, but also making sure that everything has been built to the highest possible standard and finished to absolute perfection. The goal was to make a car that looked like it could have rolled out of BMW’s own factory, and this car is that and so much more. And beyond showcasing what Griot’s Motors is capable of creating, the on-board valeting station showcases what Griot’s Garage is all about. This really might be the cleanest car we’ve ever shot. Best of all, this Touring isn’t about to be tucked away or sold, it’s going to be hitting the 2017 shows across the USA. And after that it’s going into rotation for regular driving whenever anyone wants to because, after all, that’s what it was built for. And that makes us very happy indeed.
“We went a little mad and cooked up a crazy vision for the car – one that had never been done before”
DATA FILE #Griotʼs-Motors two-door #BMW-E30 / #BMW-V8 / #BMW-Touring / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E30 / #BMW / #Griot's-Garage / #BMW-E30-Griotʼs-Motors / #BMW-Touring-2-door / #BMW-E30-M60 / #BMW-E30-V8 / #Getrag / #HRE /
FILE ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #BMW-E30-M60B40 / #M60B40 / #BMW-M60 / #M60 , custom engine mounts, rocker covers painted red, engine bay shaved and smoothed, custom coolant and power steering reservoirs, tucked wiring harness, custom cold air feed from full beam headlight hole, X5 exhaust manifolds, custom #T304 stainless steel dual 2.5” exhaust, #Getrag six-speed manual gearbox, fabricated transmission saddle, tunnel reinforcement, custom propshaft, 2.93 LSD rear end
CHASSIS 8x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) #HRE-501M wheels in brushed gold with 215/40 (front) and 235/40 (rear) Falken Azenis RT615K tyres, reinforced subframes, fully polybushed, rear trailing arm camber adjustment, shortened and reinforced front strut housings, fully-adjustable #Ground-Control coilovers with adjustable #Koni struts, camber plates
EXTERIOR Full OEM steel E30 M3 body panels including front and rear quarter panels, E30 coupé doors, side skirts, M3 bumpers (front and rear), full respray in #PPG-Deltron Griot’s Red
INTERIOR Seats and door panels retrimmed in reproduction M Tech cloth, retrimmed M Tech I steering wheel, six-speed M gear lever, new OE carpet, rear seats removed, custom aluminium water tank and hose, water jet-cut product display area in boot
THANKS Thank you to our sponsors, HRE Wheels, Brembo Brakes and Ground Control Systems. Thank you to J-Rod & Custom, McFarland Upholstery, Kassel Performance, Falken Tire and the hard work of Forrest Davis and Tim Willard of Griot’s Motors – without them, this project would have never been completed
“The plan was to have an engine bay that showed off the most beautiful aspects of the engine”
Shaved and smoothed bay ensures that all eyes are on that V8 when the bonnet’s up.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationThis BMW-E30 may appear relatively unassuming, but to the trained eye there are clues that all is not as it seems. No-one, however, will be expecting the self-styled 360i’s firepower…
WILD CARD: BMW E30 WORDS DAN BEVIS / PHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS FROSIN 360 Kickflip 800BHP 5.8-litre E30!
/ #BMW-E30-V8 / #BMW-E30-GM-V8 / #BMW-360i-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-360i / #BMW-E30-800bhp / OK, #BMW didn’t make a 360i. But a chap called Ross did and it has two turbos, 800bhp and 5.8-litre engine!
One of the questions I hear most often is ‘How did you get that in there?’” grins Ross Bradley, standing proudly beside his gleaming Black Cherry E30, exhaust ticking and pinging after another urgent country lane blast. “And that’s exactly the point – you make things fit. They don’t just go in there on their own.” That very much sums up Ross’s outlook on life.
The joy of the project is as much in the build as the driving. ‘Built, not bought’ is a common phrase on the scene these days. Modifiers who’ve solely achieved their goals in the confines of a single garage with just a cup of tea and a crackly radio for company are rightly proud to wear their achievements on their sleeve. That’s not to sideline the opposing ‘bought, not built’ crowd, of course – we can’t all be experts, and there’s a whole flourishing industry set up to serve such purposes. But Ross’s history is very much hands-on, and that has informed this creation. He fancied doing stuff. Then he did it. It really is that simple.
“I’ve always been toying with cars ever since I was little, being brought up with my dad building Yanks and hot rods,” he says. “I remember helping my dad build his Ford Pop when I was about seven years old, always doing what I could. With every car I’ve owned I’ve always had to rebuild something, be it the engine or interior for whatever reason, to make it better or make it my own.” And this is the case with the E30. The reasons for calling it a ‘360i’ will become apparent in due course. Suffice to say it’s very far from being a bone-stock 1980s three-box.
“I always liked the E30,” Ross ponders. “I was going to get one for my first car when I started driving, but was talked out of it due to running and repair costs at the time. This was the late ’90s, so I went the Ford route and ended up having numerous Escort RS Turbos and so on.”
Fast-forward to 2006, however, and we see that starry-eyed yearning of youth starting to come full circle. “I was out working and I saw this car on someone’s drive,” he recalls. “It had been sat there for about four years – it was a 320i, the body was in pretty good shape, although it had moss growing up the side of it, flat tyres, the usual. I offered the owner some money for it and he took it right away… I bought it for £275.”
Game on, then. A childhood dream fulfilled and pretty cheaply too. All Ross had to do now was to make it his own. But he wasn’t going to rush into anything, he’d been waiting long enough to realise his E30 ambition so there was no need to charge in like a bull in the proverbial porcelain emporium. He used the car as a daily driver for a few years, doing bits and pieces here and there as he saw fit. New wheels, an M-Tech 2 kit, swapping the 2.0-litre motor for a 2.5. But then it all started to get a bit hairy. Suddenly that idea of doing it ‘cheaply’ wasn’t going to cut the mustard any more. It was time to commit, and commit hard.
“About four years in I took it off the road and gave it a major overhaul,” he says. “New paint, new interior, suspension, wheels, brakes, the works. And I built the engine into a 2.5 turbo.” Of course, as your eager magpie eye will have probably spotted, that’s not the spec that the car enjoys today. You will no doubt have glanced over to the engine bay shots and spied quite a lot of cylinders in there. So just what the hell happened next?!
“I used it like that for a few more years, until about four years ago when I again took it off the road and swapped out the motor for the Chevy V8,” says Ross, casually, as if that’s a perfectly normal thing to do. “It took me a further two years to build it from there; it was always going to be boosted right from the start - and then I had it on the road until, after a few problems last year with a couple of fires due to burst hoses, oil leaks, and turbos eating bearings, I’d had enough of the niggles. So last winter I took it off the road again and had another major overhaul!”
OK. While you catch your breath and try to take in the sheer majesty of the spec list, let’s distil it down to the base elements: Ross is running a small-block V8 bored out to 5.8-litres (near as dammit to six litres, hence why he calls the car ‘360i’) with a massively juicy fuelling system, a pair of turbos that originally called an Iveco truck home, the sort of brutal internals more commonly found on drag cars, and a peak power figure somewhere around the 800bhp mark. Given the 1,300kg-odd kerb weight, that gives the car a similar power-to-weight figure to a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport – around 590bhp/tonne. All this from a reliable 3 Series built by one man in his garage.
“During the most recent overhaul, I remade the exhaust manifolds and downpipes, and replaced the turbos with a set of Holset HX35s, and then got them ceramic coated,” says Ross. “I also sold my old red leather interior and put a new one together, with Recaro CS front seats and an E30 M3 rear bench, all custom-retrimmed by Lawrence at LG Trimming in north London.”
While this car is all-motor on the face of it, the interior is one of our favourite elements. With the astonishing attention to detail going on under the bonnet it’d be easy to turn this E30 into a stripped-out drag monster, jettisoning anything that’d add unsavoury weight.
So we love that Ross has brightened up his day-to-day commute with such a flawlessly executed and fashion-forward cabin. “With the interior sorted, me and my dad stripped the car down and repainted it in Black Cherry Candy, and after refitting with all new BMW window rubbers and so on it’s now what you see today… all the work apart from the interior was done by me, everything hand-made in my garage. So anything that I needed to make this work, I had to fabricate, as you couldn’t buy it off the shelf – the engine mounts, chopped-out rear end, remade gearbox mounts, you name it.”
What Ross has created here is arguably the ultimate stealth weapon. Those who aren’t in on the secret may find themselves drawn to the car simply because it’s so beautifully presented. But there’s little to suggest anything’s radically altered aside from the subtle clues of the flared arches and front-mount intercooler. Indeed, peering through the window and spying that interior may convince you that it’s a mere show-pony. “That’s very much not the case,” laughs Ross. “I drive it as much as I can.” And with Bugatti-shaming power, wouldn’t you? It’s safe to say this car gets a pretty hard time on a regular basis.
“I just love it,” he smiles, with the satisfaction of a job well done.
“Most of my friends think I’m mental. But you only live once!”
Ross is running a small-block V8 bored out to 5.8-litres.
The car has a similar power-to-weight figure as a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.
Recaro CS front seats and an E30 M3 rear bench, all custom-retrimmed.
You’ve put quite a lot of work into this, then?
“Yeah, the amount of time I’ve put into it… I couldn’t put into numbers, really. It’s years. Years and years of hard labour!”
Not really a budget build either, given the massive spec?
“Ha! No, I’ve always thrown what I’ve got at it. It’s taken everything I have.”
All plain sailing, though?
“No real dramas. Couple of fires, turbos letting go, oil leaks… That’s just customising, isn’t it? There were points when I thought ‘It’ll never get done, never see the road,’ but I got it there. You’ve just got to keep pushing, haven’t you?”
TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATIONS: BMW E30 #GM-V8
STYLING Resprayed in Black Cherry Candy; rear arches flared and rewelded; M-Tech 2 BMW Sport body kit; front valance modified for intercooler.
TUNING Early Chevrolet small-block #V8 rebored 0.030in to 5.8-litre; GM forged crank; #ARP main studs; #Eagle H-section forged conrods; #Clevite big end bearings; Probe oversized forged pistons; Melling high-volume oil pump; ported and polished alloy heads; Manley severe-duty stainless steel swirl-polished oversized valves (2.02in inlet, 1.6in exhaust); #Edelbrock valve springs with titanium retainers; Cloyes double roller timing gear and chain; Clevite cam bearings; Comp Cams 256/263-degree blower cam and lifters; Edelbrock magnum chrome moly pushrods; Comp Cams 1.5:1 alloy roller rockers; #Brodix rocker covers, ARP hardware (rocker arm studs, intake manifold bolts, sump bolts, timing cover bolts, engine mount bolts, exhaust header bolts, crank pulley bolts, bellhousing bolts); ARP oil pump driveshaft; custom engine mounts; hand-built custom turbo headers and downpipes; twin Holset HX35 turbos with 12cm² turbines; twin Tial 44mm wastegates; two-stage boost control; handbuilt custom twin 3in turbo-back exhaust with Simons silencer; custom intercooler; Tial 50mm dump valve; Edelbrock Pro-floinlet and matching fuel rails; Pro Comp 90mm throttle body; 770cc injectors; swirl pot with high-flow in-tank lift pump; twin Bosch 044 engine feed pumps; Torques pressure regulator; March serpentine pulley kit; Pro Cool alloy radiator; Megasquirt ECU; Ford Ka coil packs; fully lightened and balanced flywheel and rotating assembly; Toyota Supra Mk3 R154 gearbox with custom Chevy bellhousing adaptor – rebuilt and uprated with Marlin Crawler thrust washer; billet bearing retainer and selector forks; McLeod hydro clutch release bearing; ARP clutch bolts; Spec R Stage 4+ full-face paddle clutch; alloy fluid reservoir; Cube short shifter; custom propshaft; E28 M5 210mm LSD with 3.07 final drive and M3 Evo twinear rear mount; custom rear crossmember; custom driveshafts with UJs; custom gearbox crossmember.
CHASSIS 9x17in #ET25 (front) and 10x17in ET20 (rear) #Hartge polished three-piece wheels; 215/40 (f) and 235/40 (r) #Federal-RSR tyres; custom billet aluminium centre caps; modified front crossmember for engine clearance; reinforced rear beam; E36 M3 front anti-roll bar with custom mounts and rose-jointed droplinks; reinforced rear trailing arms; custom rear strut brace tied into custom rear diff mounting bar; #Gaz-GHA coilovers; #GAZ adjustable front top mounts; stainless steel steering linkage joints and custom linkage; steering rack moved 20mm forwards; alloy power steering reservoir and custom lines; in-car brake servo conversion using Renault Clio servo; VW Sharan brake master cylinder; AP Racing six-pot front callipers and 330mm discs; five-lug conversion using E36 and Z3 hubs; Porsche Brembo six-pot rear callipers; Apec Z3 rear discs.
INTERIOR Full custom retrim in Ruby Red nappa leather and black Alcantara; Recaro CS front seats with custom rails; E30 M3 rear bench in nappa leather with quilted design; doorcards in black Alcantara with quilted nappa leather inserts; dash, centre console, glovebox, handbrake, gear gaiter and roof lining in black Alcantara with matching stitching – by Lawrence at LG Trimming in Enfield, London.
THANKS Thanks to Shaun at V8 Developments for the wiring and mapping; Dad for helping me paint it; and Lawrence at LG Trimming for the retrim.
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- While you lot usually love to hate anything wearing a BMW badge that doesn’t have a BMW engine under the bonnet, in the case of Ross Bradley’s twin-tuWhile you lot usually love to hate anything wearing a BMW badge that doesn’t have a BMW engine under the bonnet, in the case of Ross Bradley’s twin-turbo Chevrolet V8-engined E30, you just loved it as it is your 2016 Performance BMW Car of the Year.
The engineering that’s gone into building this absolute beast of a machine, all of it done by Ross himself, is both mind-blowing and eye-watering in equal measure. The fully built, rebored Chevy small block V8 now sits at 5.82-litres and has been bolstered with a pair of Garrett T04E turbos resulting in a staggering 880hp. Fully polished 17” three-piece Hartges sit under widened rear arches, there’s a fully removable carbon bonnet, while the red Sport interior adds a bold splash of colour. You might not approve of that V8 swap, but this is such an impressive build that it’s impossible to hate. More ...
- 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 moderationSWEET LIKE CHOCOLATE #BMW
With a 4.4 V8 under the bonnet, this is one tasty E30 Cab. With a delicious paint job good enough to eat and a V8 under the bonnet, this E30 Cab is a treat for the eyes and ears. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Richardson.
A few years ago, all manufacturers suddenly decided that now would be the time that brown cars were ‘in’ and every new car we saw in photos from motor shows etc were brown. And, you know what? It was alright. Jakub Wojciechowski thought similarly, and with his E30 Cab rocking a luscious cookies and cream colour scheme, he’s got a car that seriously works. Though if you still need convincing there’s also the V8 under the bonnet… Yeah, we thought that might win you over.
Originally from Poland, Jakub has spent the past eight years in the UK and all of his life lusting after BMWs: “My first car was a E30 325e Coupé. I wanted an E32 7 Series but they were too expensive so I ended up with the E30 instead; it was nice but after six months I found myself wanting more power so I sold it.” Two weeks later he found himself a resident of the UK and not long after that he found himself behind the wheel of a SEAT Toledo. “It was fun to drive,” he says, “but FWD is never as much fun as a rear-wheel drive car...”
One fortuitous day, whilst out on a job in London for the automotive window repair firm he works for, Jakub drove into the wrong car park and instead of finding his customer’s car, he found this car. “It was a Dolphin grey 325i that had been crashed into. The nearside of the car was damaged, and there was a ‘for sale’ sign in the window...”
£750 later he was the proud owner of a rather sorry-looking German E30 (hence the left-hand drive), but he had plans, big plans: “I wanted to put something else under the bonnet, so I spent a lot of time on various forums and sites seeing what I could fit; I wanted the biggest and best engine I could get, so it had to be the 4.4-litre M62 V8.”
When Jakub gets an idea in his head, he doesn’t waste time: “I had it for four days and then drove it over to Poland and left it with a friend of mine who was going to do the work for me.” Car deposited and ready for its transformation, step two was getting hold of a donor car, so Jakub did just that: “I bought an E38 740i for £1300, drove it to Poland, gave my friend the engine and gearbox then broke the car and made my money back.”
Once back in the UK again, Jakub’s friend informed him that the 740’s auto ’box wasn’t going to fit into the E30, so Jakub went shopping once more, snapping up a V8- powered E34 530i with a five-speed manual for £525 and once again hit the road, delivering it to his friend. Jakub then left his friend to get on with it, happy in the knowledge that before too long he’d be hitting the streets in his very own V8-powered E30. Unfortunately, things rarely work out exactly the way they’re meant to…
After a year and a half, Jakub’s friend gave up on the project, telling him it was too involved. A disillusioned Jakub left the car sitting for another year before he could find the energy to try and get the project off the ground again. Attempt number two, however, proved to be a lot more successful as his research led him to the doors of PUZ Drift Team Polska; not only was this outfit extremely successful when it came to drifting, winning the Monster Energy King of Europe series, it also happened to have no less than four M62-powered E30s.
“The guys there knew what they were doing,” grins Jakub. Seeing a V8 under an E30’s bonnet never fails to impress – there’s just so much engine stuffed into such a small space and if you can look at those pictures without making V8 noises in your head (or with your mouth, we won’t judge) and imagine it doing a massive smoky burnout, there must be something wrong with you. The engine’s been equipped with a set of X5 exhaust manifolds as they fit in the confines of the E30’s engine bay and there’s a 2.5” manifold-back, cat-free exhaust that runs to a rear silencer and is finished off with a pair of 60mm tailpipes, the drop-top allowing Jakub to really enjoy that awesome V8 soundtrack. The five-speed ’box has been mated to a shortened propshaft which connects up to an LSD, because when you’ve got that much grunt up front, you need to be able to put it down where it counts.
While the V8 swap was a major part of this build, there’s so much more going on here and Jakub really has left no stoned unturned. We need to talk about the interior, because it’s going to raise a few eyebrows but, hey, at least it’s not dull grey or boring black, right? “The car was originally twotone,” explains Jakub, “gold on top and bronze on the bottom so I wanted an interior that would match; I left everything with my mum’s friend and one year later the interior had been transformed to look like this.” A two-tone car with a two-tone interior is a bold look that some people might find challenging, but it was exactly what Jakub wanted. “I had the car in its twotone colours for three years,” he says, “and then I saw an X1 in Marrakesh brown and I immediately knew that I wanted that colour for the E30,” he says. Marrakesh is a lush, rich brown, with a gorgeous metallic flake to it – it’s the kind of deep colour you just want to dive into and it looks fantastic with the light on it, picking out all the details on the bodywork. And, even though the interior was created with a different exterior colour in mind, it still works here, adding a second shade of brown, like hot fudge sauce on a rich chocolate cake, and then topping the whole lot off with some cream. Delicious.
A five-stud conversion has been carried out, using E36 Compact rear components and E30 M3 front components, the latter being far from cheap but generally regarded as the right way to do a front-end five-stud conversion if funds allow, with everything bolting straight on and requiring no modifications. E36 328i brakes have also been fitted, giving this E30 rocket ship a useful increase in stopping power.
With the five-stud conversion the world is your oyster when it comes wheel choice, though actually finding a set that Jakub liked and that were the correct fitment for the car proved tricky. “Initially I had some 18” Alpina wheels from an E34 on it but the offset was all wrong. I was going to get another set but the offset on all the ones I looked at was either too low or too high. Then I found these 7.5x17” wheels in white and the right offset so I bought them. They were cheap and they suit the car,” says Jakub and we have to agree. The arches have been pulled by 8mm to fully accommodate them and they work with the brown, the interior and they definitely work with the drop that the E36 eBay coilovers Jakub’s fitted deliver. The car also sports a pair of replica M Tech 2 bumpers, which have had the rubbing strips removed and have been fully colour-coded. Jakub’s carried out a quad projector HID headlight conversion with LED angel eyes.
“It’s been to three different garages, three different bodyshops and two different upholsterers,” says Jakub wistfully, “and parts have gone missing. The guy who did the leather died before he could finish the soft top panel and the person I took it to couldn’t match the interior colour so it’s been trimmed in black leather for now. I’m still looking for some Shadowline trim as I’m not a fan of the chrome and I would love a set of BBS LMs, RSs or a set of E32 Alpina 17s,” he adds, “but I eventually want to sell this car and buy an E28 M535i but I’m going to keep that standard.
“I sometimes wish I hadn’t touched this car in the first place. I like it and it makes me happy, but on such a big project there’s always something to do,” he sighs.
He is right, of course, a project like this is a big undertaking and it can easily turn into one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time but that you end up regretting when there just doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
For some people, the thrill is the build but it’s actually probably a more normal emotional response to want to finish a project car so you can enjoy it, though we doubt many of us can relate to that. “Having said that,” says Jakub with a smirk, “I don’t regret a single penny I’ve spent on it.”
There it is, that little spark of joy that is always there with any modified car, even when you’re fed up with it, even when you wish you’d never started a project in the first place and when you can’t stand the sight of the thing – all it takes is that single moment where you realise that, actually, despite all that, deep down you still love your car. No one can go through the drama of building your car but you, we as outsiders only see the finished product that we admire at the petrol station, on the street, at a show. Jakub’s journey with the E30 has been long and arduous, a lot of downs fighting with the ups, but all it takes is that one moment of joy and you’ll be reminded that what you’ve built is something pretty delicious.
DATA FILE #BMW-V8 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-Cabrio / #BMW-E30-V8 / #BMW-E30-M62 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabriolet / #BMW-3-Series-Cabriolet-E30 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.4-litre #V8 #M62B44 / #M62 / #BMW-M62 , X5 exhaust manifolds, twin 2.5” custom stainless steel exhaust system, back box with twin 60mm tips, E34 530i V8 five-speed manual gearbox, 25% locking LSD
CHASSIS 7.5x17” (front and rear) wheels with 205/40 (front and rear) Blacklion BU66 Champoint tyres, five-stud hub conversion, E36 adjustable coilovers, double brake servo moved behind headlights
EXTERIOR Debaged front and rear, side trims removed from doors and wings, aerial and door locks removed, wheel arches pulled 8mm
INTERIOR Full leather retrim in custom twotone finish including dash, steering wheel and centre console, heated front seats
THANKS To my mum Dorota for all the running around she’s done, car hire and garage, Furman in Lubon Poland, RS PUZ in Torun Poland
“I saw an X1 in Marrakesh brown and I immediately knew I wanted that colour for the E30”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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ALL AMERICAN TAKE OVER
Fitting a massive Yank V8 lump into your BM is nothing new, but doing that and then strapping a pair of turbos on for good measure takes things to a whole other level….
Rebel yell Utterly insane twin-turbo V8 E30 with almost 900hp.
After tiring of turbo M20 reliability issues, Ross Bradley went back to his hot rod roots and rebuilt his E30 using American V8 power… with two turbos this time. Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Matt Woods.
Meet Ross Bradley, an E30 nut who likes to do things his own way, particularly if it involves a twin-turbo V8. The story begins back in March 2010 when he bought this black 325i and, like so many of us, he formulated a plan to make it his own. “It was sitting on a drive for about four years with moss growing up the sides. I used to see it when I was out at work,” explains 35-year-old Ross. “It was pretty solid body-wise, so I offered the guy some money and bought it for £275. I got it home, changed the plugs and put fresh fuel in and it fired up first time!”
Fast forward a year or so and his E30 was something we’d all be proud to call our own, featuring Borbet A wheels, a nice drop in ride height and a full M Tech 2 body kit, among other tricks. However, having grown up around American hot rods and other powerful machinery, it was only a matter of time before the engine bay got something of a shake-up.
“I’ve always had turbo cars. I just have a passion for them,” Ross tells us. “And the BMW needed more power so the only way to go was turbo!” Ross laughs. The car’s transformation started with him taking the original M20 and turbocharging it, earning him the bragging rights of having over 400hp under his right foot. Having been an engineer by trade in the past he made it all look easy, building up the M20 with forged pistons, a custom intake plenum and plenty more goodies. Ross was happy until an oil pressure issue left him with a knocking bottom end and feeling thoroughly disheartened. Fortunately Ross isn’t the kind of guy to remain demoralised for long and he used this temporary upset as a chance to refocus. “I’ve always been a fan of proper V8s – not the little BMW ones but full-blown Ford or Chevy motors,” he explains. “Now that I had the chance, I decided to get rid of the old turbo engine which kept going wrong, and I sold all the parts to fund a new engine.”
Ross’s plan for Yank horsepower made good sense. “I considered the newer GM LS engines but at the time they cost more than a complete S50, and you can just as easily build an old type V8 with EFI for half the price.” A decision was made and Ross was soon the owner of a small-block, 350ci (5.7-litre) block ready for building up. While Ross pressed on with using the bare block for test-fitting purposes, his shopping list started becoming a reality. A #GM forged crank, Eagle forged rods, a hightorque starter motor, alloy roller rockers and a new sump all arrived, with Ross’s plans continuously evolving for how the engine would fit in the car and how it would be built.
“The gearbox I chose was the manual gearbox from the Mk3 Toyota Supra: the R154. With a couple of little mods they can be bombproof, but not cheap at £600 for the box alone!” Ross says. He was still waiting on engine parts but could at least get the gearbox built up. This would allow him to finalise the engine location once and for all.
All new bearings went in, along with an uprated first gear thrust washer, before the front end was built up with a Chevy bellhousing, hydraulic clutch release bearing and all the necessary conversion parts. What soon became clear was that the E30’s transmission tunnel just wasn’t going to be big enough. Luckily it wasn’t beyond the call of a few hour’s work with a hammer. The next obstacle was the crossmember and anti-roll bar. A conversion to an E36 anti-roll bar (which sits ahead of the crossmember) had that issue solved easily enough thanks to some fabrication work, but Ross also had to notch the crossmember for clearance and ended up moving the steering rack forwards by 20mm to clear the starter motor.
This left Ross with the small block sitting happily in his engine bay, as low and as far back as was possible. “The shifter even ended up in the right place!” laughs Ross. “There was just a sensor that I had to add clearance for, so things were going well.” With his engine and gearbox mounts fabricated, Ross then threw on the aluminium heads that he’d ordered and checked the clearance of everything with his turbo manifolds fresh from the States. Sure enough, his engine mounts had to come back out for some further clearance work and he had to make plans for relocating his brake servo and master cylinder to under the dashboard. For Ross this was all in a day’s work.
With the engine position decided, Ross pulled the V8 block back out so that he could finally start transforming it into a functioning engine. The local machine shop was tasked with boring out the cylinders by .030”, taking displacement to beyond the 5.8-litre mark. Probe forged pistons were mated to the Eagle rods, with the crank going in with Clevite bearings and ARP hardware. His camshaft of choice was a Comp Cams 256/263-degree grind, made especially for turbo applications.
Such is the aftermarket support for these engines that Ross managed to get his aforementioned aluminium cylinder heads for just £200 and set about porting them himself by hand to make the most of a set of massive Manley valves (2.02” inlet and 1.60” exhaust, in fact). This V8 may only have 16 valves but it makes up for that with sheer size. The heads were finished with Edelbrock valve springs and titanium retainers, which are operated by Comp Cams billet rockers and Edelbrock Magnum pushrods. No stone has been left unturned with this Yank powerhouse.
A good old Holley carb was initially used to get the engine running alongside a Megasquirt ECU and Ford coil packs. Ingeniously Ross used a few of the old M20 sensors and brackets to feed the ECU with all the needed info, which allows the V8 to run normally aspirated for a few miles as a gentle run-in. A huge Pro Cool radiator, a custom intercooler and a day’s worth of custom fab work by Ross got the E30 roadworthy but he was far from done.
When the time came to switch to fuel injection Ross, as usual, didn’t do things by halves. With the rear boot floor in bits (more on that in a moment) he plumbed together a fuel system capable of supplying enough jungle juice for the monstrous powerplant now sitting up front. A high-flow lift pump feeds a two-litre swirl pot, with twin Bosch 044 pumps then feeding the engine through front-to-rear braided AN lines. All that fuel is supplied to 770cc injectors mounted in an Edelbrock intake manifold, fitted with a 90mm Procomp throttle body.
That swirl pot setup is mounted onto a flat rear floor. Ross’s car has no spare wheel well and for a very good reason. With the extra power and monstrous torque that he was going to be feeding through the rear end, some serious reinforcement was needed. The entire rear beam was dropped and stripped and Ross’s work began.
The first thing on the ingredients list was an E28 large case diff; though it bolts right up to the E30 rear beam, that’s about where the compatibility ends; not a problem for someone like Ross. The beam was sent away for blasting and once back, he could begin. “I started by going over the old welds to make them a little stronger and I went around the trailing arm brackets again as some of them aren’t fully welded,” he explains. “Then I started the reinforcing.”
These reinforcements included plating over the diff mounts and bridging together the various factory joins with extra material. Bars were then also added between the diff mount and beam itself before a thick plate was placed over the diff recess. In short, Ross’s work is so solid we reckon it would withstand even a nuclear strike.
Next up was getting that diff mounted up. The E30’s single-ear rear diff mounting is famed for a lack of strength and so after some experimenting Ross found that an E36 M3 Evo diff cover and mounting bracket would bolt up to the E28 diff (with the addition of a spacer he made), giving him two ears to mount with. However, the E30 doesn’t have the provisions to bolt such an arrangement up, hence Ross had cut the boot floor out of his. A new crossmember was made out of box section, bridging the chassis rails and including mounts for that large case diff and the anti-roll bar brackets.
“With the rear crossmember done I started the rear strut bracing,” Ross tells us. This included strengthening plates on the rear strut towers along with a welded-in strut brace. This was then joined to the diffmounting crossmember with a set of bars tying the whole lot together for maximum rigidity before everything could be sheeted over to form a new floor.
The trailing arms were also braced with bars and then the whole lot bolted back under the car, complete with the new diff and a revision of Ross’s UJ driveshafts. However, he still wasn’t done, using the opportunity to also convert the car to fivestud all-round. Rather than the usual way, this arrangement was completed using Compact or Z3 parts with a bit of a custom setup. This consisted of Z3 wheel bearings and hubs, which needed a little machining to fit. “I used 300mm Z4 discs on the Z3 hubs, and then used Porsche Boxster Brembo fourpot calipers,” smiles Ross.
Up front the E30 stub axles were sleeved to allow E36 wheel bearings and hubs to be used, enabling the use of an XYZ brake kit. It was originally meant for a Japanese application using a 5x114.7 PCD and Ross also had to make his own brackets, too. Nothing phases this E30 fanatic.
Of course, the most noticeable change Ross had to make was to fit new wheels. The old 4x100 Borbet As would no longer fit but Ross found something else that would work nicely. It doesn’t get much better than three-piece Hartges, made by OZ back in the day. He found them in Poland and had them shipped over. They had polished lips and gold centres, which looked great, but weren’t quite what Ross had in mind. Therefore the wheels were stripped right down for the centres and lips to be repolished, and a lack of centre caps saw Ross approaching UK firm and BMW specialist Hack Engineering to reproduce the original plastic caps in billet aluminium so that it could all be polished up with the same mirror shine. Mirror-polished hardware finished the wheels off, with grippy Federal RSR tyres put in charge of getting all that power down.
This meant that phase two of the build was complete, and Ross enjoyed using it for the latter half of last year’s show season, clocking up the miles attending every show possible. Having witnessed it personally, we can confirm that when Ross’s E30 pulls up at the showground, a serious number of heads turn thanks to the appearance of a tidy E30 with the soundtrack of a lumpy, all-American V8. It really is quite something.
The way Ross has gone about building his E30 is like no other. While absolutely nothing on the car itself can be considered off-the-shelf, he’s also shown incredible ingenuity when it comes to building a reliable powerplant thanks to the strength (and low prices) of the American aftermarket. In fact, though untested, it’s estimated that the junkyard-rescued small block is currently pushing around 880hp and 750lb ft at 1.3bar. Could American power in an E30 be the way to go? You wouldn’t want to argue otherwise after seeing this machine.
Boot houses fuel system with two-litre swirl pot and twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps.
If you’re a keen show-goer in the UK you’re likely to see Ross’s monster throughout the year. However, do be warned – by the time it’s show season the E30 will be looking quite different. Ross didn’t want to tell us exactly what he was up to but you can rest assured that the E30 will be even better, very soon.
DATA FILE #Twin-turbo #V8 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-V8 / #Bosch-044 / #Garrett-T04E / #Garrett /
ENGINE #Chevrolet-small-block-V8 , rebored 0.030” to 5.82-litre, #GM / #GM-V8 forged crank, #ARP main studs, #Eagle H-section forged con rods, #Clevite big end bearings, Probe oversized forged pistons, high volume oil pump, ported and polished alloy heads, #Manley-Severe-Duty stainless steel swirl-polished oversized valves (2.02” inlet, 1.6” exhaust), Edelbrock valve springs with titanium retainers, #Cloyes three-piece solid timing gears, Clevite cam bearings, Comp Cams 256/263-degree blower cam and lifters, #Edelbrock #Magnum chromoly pushrods, #Comp-Cams 1.5:1 alloy roller rockers, #Brodix rocker covers, ARP hardware (rocker arm studs, intake manifold bolts, sump bolts, timing cover bolts, engine mount bolts, exhaust header bolts, crank pulley bolts, bellhousing bolts), ARP oil pump driveshaft, custom engine mounts, customised turbo headers, twin Garrett T04E turbos, Tial wastegates, custom twin 3” turbo-back exhaust with Simons silencer, custom intercooler, Tial dump valve, #Edelbrock Pro-flo inlet and matching fuel rails, #Procomp 90mm throttle body, 770cc injectors, swirl pot with high flow lift pump, twin #Bosch 044 engine feed pumps, #Torques fuel pressure regulator, #March serpentine pulley kit, #Pro-Cool alloy radiator, #Megasquirt ECU, Ford coil packs, fully lightened and balanced flywheel
TRANSMISSION #Toyota-Supra-R154 gearbox rebuilt and uprated with #Marlin-Crawler thrust washer bearing retainer and selector forks, #McLeod clutch release bearing, #ARP clutch bolts, Spec R Stage 4+ paddle clutch, alloy fluid reservoir, #Cube shifter, custom propshaft, E28 210mm LSD with 3.07 final drive and M3 Evo twin-ear rear mount, custom driveshafts with #UJs , custom gearbox crossmember
CHASSIS 17x9” ET25 (front) and 17x10” ET20 (rear) Hartge fully polished three-piece wheels, 215/40 and 235/40 Federal RSR tyres, modified front crossmember for engine clearance, reinforced rear beam, E36 M3 front anti-roll bar with custom mounts and rosejointed droplinks, reinforced rear trailing arms, custom rear strut brace tied into custom rear diff mounting bar, #GAZ coilovers, GAZ adjustable front top mounts, stainless steel steering linkage joints and custom linkage, steering rack moved 20mm forwards, alloy power steering reservoir and custom lines, incar brake servo conversion using Renault Clio servo, VW Sharan brake master cylinder, #XYZ six-pot front calipers and 330mm discs, fivelug conversion using E36 and Z3 hubs, Porsche #Brembo six-pot rear calipers, #Apec-Z4 rear discs
EXTERIOR M Tech 2 body kit, carbon bonnet, E36 M3-style mirrors, widened rear arches, smoked rear lights, smoked front indicators, yellow foglights
INTERIOR Full red leather Sport interior, black carpets, custom gauge illumination (blue with red needles), A-pillar mounted auxiliary gauges (boost, #AFR , oil pressure), fuel system in boot
THANKS Dad for all of the paintwork, Shaun from V8 Development for all the mapping and wiring.
Red leather Sport interior looks fantastic and features custom gauge illumination and auxiliary gauges in the A-pillar.
I’ve always been a fan of proper V8s… full blown Ford or #Chevy-motors .Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSPACE RAIDER V8 TOURING
Wide arched #BMW-E30 flexes its muscles. The combination of E30 Touring and V8 is hard to beat. Forget keeping it original, this #V8-powered E30 Touring is all about doing what looks good and feels right. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Woods.
While the thought of straying from the Bavarian region when it comes to tuning BMWs gets some enthusiasts ranting about desecrating engine bays with American and Japanese engines, or destroying the sanctity of M cars with air-ride and big ICE installs, we really couldn’t give two hoots. We think that building a car that looks good and makes you happy is far more important than building one that keeps other people happy.
That’s Paul Harding’s philosophy too because, when someone builds an E30 running Porsche wheels and a Ferrari steering wheel, you know they’re not going to care what anyone else says on the matter.
Paul’s previous big build, a supercharged beast of an E39 M5, popped up in these pages last year and he’s a man who has been afflicted with the chronic modifying disease – he just can’t leave cars alone. It’s funny to think that when the E30 was launched and BMW designed the practical Touring for family sorts, they could never have imagined that it would become something of a darling of the modified #BMW community. Fourdoors, two-doors, soft-tops… they’re all well and good but, for some reason, when it comes to the E30 it’s arguably the Touring that has the most appeal.
It’s a great-looking car for starters, with something so very right about the long boxy shape and it requires very little work to get it looking absolutely spectacular, a hugely beneficial E30 trait. Of course, whether or not you consider the application of Porsche wheels to result in spectacular looks is another matter entirely, but you can probably guess which way we’re leaning on the matter…
Paul bought this car because of the V8. His friend, Phil Nobes, had an M60-powered E30 and, having sampled the combination of big, brawny bent eight and small, lightweight 3 Series, Paul fell in love and wanted some of that in his life as well. “I found this car on eBay for sale up in Dundee,” says Paul. “The swap was already completed, though it was unfinished – there was no rad, for example, and it wasn’t ready to be driven. It was a really nice car, though, with full leather, an LSD and BBS RMs, plus someone else had already done the work to get the engine in the car and running, so I bought it and trailered it down from Scotland.
“I had a vision that the E30 was going to replace the E36 M3 drift car I had at the time and was planning to do a supercharged S62 swap. I bought the blue E39 M5 that ended up being featured in PBMW as I was going to use the engine from that for the swap. I stripped the E30 completely but then changed my mind – the shell was so solid that I had to put it back together and ended up supercharging the M5 instead, which I’ve since sold. I thought about supercharging the E30, but actually I’m going to supercharge another E39 M5 instead. I bought a Chromie E30 in the meantime as well, but ended up selling that as this Touring was just too good. That’s when I decided not to turn it into a drift car and make it into a road car instead as there are so few really clean V8 E30s about. It’s actually harder to build a full interior road car as it takes some thought and planning, rather than just pulling everything out.”
The engine bay needed a bit of work when Paul first got his hands on the car: “I knew I didn’t want a full shaved and tucked bay, but I wanted to tidy it up and make it look good.
I made the effort with the attention to detail as I wanted the engine to look like it belonged in there; the brake servo, for example, is now in the glovebox, and I fitted a 530i air box as I didn’t just want a generic induction kit.” The result is an exceedingly neat and tidy but functional, working engine bay rather than something that looks like it was built more for display purposes than acting as the business end of a car. Further helping to complete it, along with a fullyfunctioning rad, is the stainless tubular exhaust manifold which leads to a custom exhaust system that makes a wonderful noise, which is a requirement from anything with a V8 under the bonnet.
The interior has been significantly changed from its original configuration. Gone are the leather seats, with a cloth bench at the back and a pair of Vabric buckets up front, which happens to be Paul’s seat company, which he runs alongside his garage, Super Duper Garage. Yes, really. It’s an awesome place that Paul has put a lot of thought and flair into. It carries with it the same passion that flows through all the cars he owns and the projects he’s got on the go, and there are quite a few of those.
Alongside the seats there’s a digital water temp gauge by the driver’s right knee, a Z3 short-shift and then there’s the small matter of that well-worn, Ferrari-badged Momo steering wheel. It is attached to an E36 steering rack and has something of a story behind it: “I actually bought the steering wheel when I was 19 as I liked how it looked but had no idea it was actually the exact same Momo that was fitted to the Ferrari 348 from the factory. I have fitted it to countless cars that I’ve owned so naturally I had to have it in the E30. I also wanted to wind people up…” he chuckles. So, while it may have not worn a Ferrari badge originally, it’s entirely entitled to do so and is guaranteed to put a few noses out of joint with it. Finally, the load space is home to something that purists will most definitely approve of: a genuine, rare, BMW E30 boot liner, which is a nice period touch in a car with so much else going on.
As far as looks are concerned, the car’s been dropped to within an inch of its life and you’re definitely not going to miss those custom bolt-on arch extensions. Paul had originally made them for Phil’s E30 but he couldn’t resist making them for his Touring as well. We don’t blame him, they look awesome. The body-coloured finish mean they aren’t overly aggressive, but definitely give the slimline E30 a bit more of a purposeful stance, as well as creating more room for those wheels: “I’ve had quite a few sets of wheels on the car – 16” RSs, Rondells, 17” Dares and then these Eta Beta Turbo Twists, which weren’t meant to go on this car at all. I bought them for an ’84 Porsche I had but I hadn’t fitted them when I was thinking about wheels for this. I wasn’t sure what to go for so considered putting these on – people said they wouldn’t fit, so that made me determined to get them on. They’re a 5x130 PCD, measuring in at 9x18” and 9.5x18”. They took a little work but I got them on, despite what everyone told me.”
Now, technically, they’re not Porsche wheels, but they’re very Porsche-looking and that’s even before you add the Porsche crest centre caps. They’re good looking wheels too and they suit the E30 perfectly. 18s are a big wheel for the car to pull off, but the stepped lips and 17” matt anthracite centres make the wheels look a bit smaller, meaning they don’t dominate the car at all.
While they may not have been destined for the E30, with that drop giving it an awesome stance, they add something extra that catches your eye on an otherwise very stealthy build.
“I tinker with the car every now and again when I get the time, which isn’t often,” says Paul sullenly, with Super Duper Garage taking up the bulk of his time, and other projects also wanting attention. “I am really sad that I’ve not had a chance to drive it much; I’ve done just five miles in it in three years, which is bad. Those five miles were fun though and it’s a really practical car, but I’ve fallen in love with E39 M5s – I like to drive hard and I prefer their longer wheelbase as they are less snappy. In fact, I’ve got one waiting to be supercharged when I get a chance. I’m going to sell the Touring, and I always sell my cars completely done up, with all the bits and pieces fixed for someone else that I was meant to do for myself.”
That’s something that really strikes a chord. We get our cars to their absolute best and then end up selling them rather than being able to enjoy them, with someone else getting to enjoy the fruits of our labours. Such is life. The Touring has, in fact, been sold since we completed this feature and whoever’s bought it has landed themselves an awesome machine that’s fully sorted. As for Paul, he doesn’t have time to be sad about selling the E30 as he’s got his hands full with numerous other project cars, all vying for his attention and in varying states of progress. The important thing is that he got to build and own an awesome and rather unique E30 Touring.
decided to make it into a road car as there are so few really clean V8 E30s about.
Single-piece Vabric buckets inside along with that Ferrari Momo steering wheel and a water temp gauge.
DATA FILE #V8 #BMW-E30-Touring / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-M60B40 / #BMW-E30-M60 / #BMW-E30-V8 / #BMW-E30-V8-M60B40
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre V8 #M60B40 / #M60 / #BMW-M60 from E34 540i, hand-made and wrapped tubular exhaust manifolds and exhaust system with switchable #Vabric cut-out valve, E36 M3 auto radiator, #Mocal remote oil filter, electric fan with switch-in rad and override button in the car, E36 steering rack, battery relocated to boot and hidden, brake servo hidden inside the car behind the glovebox, relocated header tank, 530i air box, five-speed manual, 3.64 LSD
CHASSIS 9x18” (front) and 9.5x18” (rear) #Eta-Beta-Turbo-Twist three-piece wheels with polished lips and matt anthracite centres, with 215/35 (front) and 225/35 (rear) tyres, #Koni inserts (front), #GAZ adjustable dampers (rear), extensive polybushing, 325i rear beam and front brakes.
EXTERIOR Custom-made bolt-on arch extensions
INTERIOR Vabric side mount bucket seat on adjustable rails with grey Alcantara centres, grey Alcantara headlining, Z3 short shift, hidden temp gauge, ’80s boot linerStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation03 Rich Hardesty-DeMenge’s #Air-ride LS1 V8 #BMW-E30-V8 / #BMW
People love to have a moan about feature cars that have had non-BMW engine swaps carried out, questioning why on earth would you remove the original engine in favour of something ‘inferior’ but when it comes to the crunch you clearly can’t hate them that much, as this LS1- powered E30 takes this year’s bronze medal position. Mind you, there’s no way you couldn’t love such an incredibly well-executed car and from the dash-riding frog plushie to the small matter of 5.7-litres of American muscle nestling under the bonnet, this is an awesome car.
We all clearly loved the fact that it’s so clean and really gives nothing away about the fact that it’s got almost 400hp to play with, courtesy of that breathed-on V8. Factor in the perfectly polished #BBS 17s and air-ride that combine to deliver the sort of stance and fitment that will have people breaking out the #goals on Instagram and you’ve got yourself one drop-dead gorgeous E30.
02 Nick Singh Sahota’s #V8 #BMW-E30
Little more than two fistfuls of votes separated the runner-up spot from this year’s winner and the former is occupied by Nick Sahota and his rather tasty #V8-powered E30 Chromie. Nick took home the (virtual) trophy last year with his orange, S54-powered, air-ride E30 M3 in an equally exciting battle for the top spot, and while this year’s entry from the Sahota stable was a rather more low-key affair, it clearly struck a chord with you guys out there as it quickly established itself in a strong second spot before surging after the eventual leader in the latter stages of voting.
Another exceedingly clean E30, there is a lot to love about this car, such as the incredibly rare rear window louvres combined with the delightfully retro heckblende panel, the highly-polished 16” Schmidt splits, the immaculately executed interior with its Recaro Highbacks and Nardi steering wheel and gear knob and, of course, the 4.0-litre M60 V8 sitting snugly in the immaculate engine bay. This all adds up to a heady mix of E30 goodness that’s impossible to resist.
01 Truls Johansen’s 580hp turbo E30 M3
When we were compiling the shortlist for this year’s Car of the Year, we couldn’t help but speculate which car might be the potential victor this time around, but we could never have predicted this result. It’s as pleasant a surprise as we could have ever imagined. In a sea of spotlight-stealing show cars and insanely intricate big power builds, it was this turbocharged E30 that captured your imagination and you subsequently propelled it into the lead with such force we wondered if anything could possibly catch it. Please don’t think we’re taking anything away from Truls and his E30 M3, we loved it enough to put it on our June cover after all, but when the BMW-loving public is concerned, we never know what the outcome might be.
So just what is it about this car that made it such a crowd pleaser in this year’s contest? Well, you certainly can’t go wrong with an E30 M3, and this one is arguably the very definition and embodiment of a performance BMW. With minimal styling additions, including some Evo 2 aero accoutrements and some lush Porsche seats, this car is all about power and rather than swapping in a larger engine, Truls chose to stick with the S14, carrying out some seriously extensive internal upgrades before strapping on a fat turbo and hitting 583hp, all with just four cylinders to play with. We love the end result and, clearly so do you. Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGERMAN MUSCLE 300HP #V8 #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-V8-E30 / #BMW-E30-V8 / #BMW-E30-M60 / #BMW-E30-M60B40 /
Classic chromie packs a punch. Whack a V8 in an E30 chromie and fun is guaranteed. Big V8s in small cars are the muscle car tradition, and this right here is the BMW way of doing it. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Sunny Ryait.
So, imagine this: you’ve already had two #Drive-My feature cars, one DRIVE-MY cover and you’ve just won DRIVE-MY Car of the Year. What are going to do next? If you said you’re going to Disney World, you’re clearly an American Football fan but if you’re Nick Sahota, the answer is: build another car! It’s not really a surprise considering he’s a serial modifier and a huge BMW fan.
Nick’s no stranger to E30s or combining them with V8s, his Calypso two-door appearing in our May ’14 issue before it had a slight incident and he went on to build his unstoppable orange entity, so another E30 project was inevitable really. “I wanted to build something a bit different from the norm,” explains Nick when we ask him about the E30, “a completely standardlooking chromie sleeper. Then it just developed from there and I added rare and desirable parts. For example, the louvres, which as far as I’m aware are the only E30 specific ones currently run in the UK. I bought the car in almost perfect original condition. It had only had one owner and just 36k miles on the clock. It was a South African import that had spent most of its life in storage. I bought it in December of 2013.
It was in near original condition and completely immaculate. When the purists realised that I had got such an original car for this project they hit the roof, but I have absolutely no interest in an M10-engined 318i. I never even drove it before the conversion. I took my friend Sukhi Kang with me to see the car and he drove it back to his. He stripped it and sold off all the running gear and interior on his drive for me, so the shell cost me nothing in the end.”
Nick then dropped it off to Shaz at Just E30z. “I have spent way, way too much on the build but now it’s exactly what I want. It’s one of my favourite cars that I’ve ever owned or driven,” he tells us. Considering how many BMs Nick has had (and still has), that’s really saying something.
“Just E30z did the majority of the conversion work and it took it a couple of months to finish the engine conversion,” Nick continued. “Liquid Metal / Hard Knocks speed shop did the custom manifold and exhaust work. Duda-Garage did everything else. There are always little niggles with these kind of modifications but between Just E30z and Duda Garage they have all now been ironed out and it’s perfect.”
A V8 under the bonnet is all well and good but until you’ve sourced yourself some killer wheels for your E30, you ain’t nobody, kid. When it came to wheels, Nick’s first choice was an unsurprising one. “I wanted BBS RSs,” he says, everyone’s favourite wheels, “so I bought a set of 4x100s and had them built to the correct fitment. But while I was waiting for them to be completed, I went to see my friend Sandeep Gill one evening and he told me about a set of wheels that another friend, Parm Bhamra, was currently selling. So we went over and I ended up buying two more sets of wheels for it, one set of which are the Schmidt TH Lines that are currently on the car. I just fell in love with them and the ease of maintaining the Radinox dishes. The RSs may make an appearance at some point, though.”
The multi-piece Schmidts look absolutely killer and suit the E30 perfectly, with that retro-look styling and those polished faces, which offer a nice, striking contrast to the subtlety of the rest of the car. RSs are great but it’s nice to see someone rocking something a bit different from the norm on their E30 and as part of the whole package these Schmidts are the perfect choice, especially when Nick’s brought that body down tight over the wheels with a set of GAZ Gold coilovers.
Styling-wise, it’s very much a case of less is more with this build and Nick has favoured a few choice additions that make a statement without going over the top or spoiling the look of the car. “The styling is pretty much as the factory built it, bar the wheels and a bit of colour-coding,” Nick says. “The louvres and heckblende add a retro feel to it in my opinion as they are period-correct additions.” Up front there’s what Nick describes as a ‘Jimmy Hill chin lip’, balanced by a Tech 1 spoiler at the rear and the colour-coding he’s talking about has seen the mirrors and sills matched to the body. But arguably the parts making the biggest difference to the whole look of the car are the extremely rare rear window louvres and the heckblende – that red rear trim panel. The two combined are so incredibly ’80s that they just transform the car, giving it such a unique look that really sets it apart from other E30s. The interior is no less rare, even though it’s not the interior that will be staying in the car. We’ll let Nick explain: “Well the interior I have for it includes a very rare set of electric Recaros and a M3 rear bench, currently being retrimmed in saddle brown. But for the time being it is running Sukhi’s spare, extremely rare, genuine Recaro LS Highback M3 interior.” The current seats are ridiculously sexy and the wood-rimmed Nardi steering wheel and Nardi gear knob add the classic finishing touches.
Amazingly we’ve come this far in the feature and not really talked about the big deal here: the engine swap. V8s and the E30 are pretty much a perfect combination and that big lump seems entirely happy nestled in the 3 Series engine bay. This is the 4.0-litre M60 from an E32 740i fitted with custom exhaust manifolds and a full custom system with a remote electric cutout valve – I’ve heard this in action in both videos and real life and it sounds ferocious. There’s a fivespeed manual gearbox from an E34 530i, with an LSD at the back to help Nick put the power down and a WMS four-pot brake kit helps him stop. He needs it because a) we know for a fact that he’s a ‘keen’ driver and b) having experienced the combination of E30 and V8, we can tell you that it is a most potent one, the M60 giving the lightweight E30 a serious turn of speed. Drive one and you’ll instantly understand why so many people do these swaps and why Nick’s had so many weaponised E30s.
“I love everything about this car,” he grins, “the engine, the torque, the sound… My girlfriend hates it, although she hates all my cars other than my daily X5! My friends who know what it is love it. The rest that haven’t got a clue can’t understand why I have these old cars.”
Being a serial modifier, Nick already has another project under construction (“but that’s top secret…”) but this E30 is going nowhere and will join his ever-growing collection of cars. He’s not finished with the mods either. He’s got that fancy new interior to go in yet and you never know what rare parts he’ll unearth on his travels. “I might even put it on air…” he lets slip. Whatever he does, 2015 is going to be an exciting year for Nick’s E30 and the purists are not going to be happy. Oh well.
ENGINE: 4.0-litre V8 #M60B40 / #M60 / #BMW-M60 from an E32 740i, custom exhaust manifold, custom exhaust with a remote electric cutout, five-speed manual gearbox from an E34 530i, LSD.
CHASSIS: 8x16” (front) and 9x16” (rear) multipiece #Schmidt TH Lines, #GAZ-Gold coilovers, WMS four-pot brake kit.
EXTERIOR: ‘Jimmy Hill’ front lip, colour-coded door mirrors and sills, Tech 1 rear spoiler, rear window louvres, heckblende.
INTERIOR: E30 M3 #Recaro LS Highbacks and rear bench, #Nardi wooden steering wheel and gear knob, genuine rear blind, genuine armrest, black sport carpet.
THANKS: Sukhi Kang, Shaz (Just E30z 07903 717333), Mariusz (Duda Garage 07922 443509), Liquid Metal / Hard Knocks speed shop (018692 408119), Dave at Signco, Steve and the guys at Clean Getaway (www.cgacw.co.uk), my family and friends.
I wanted to build something from the norm a bit different.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFAMILY JEWELS / #2015
As first cars go, a V8-powered #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3-E30 rep that you built with your dad is a pretty good start to your motoring life. Believe it or not, this is Daniel Larsson’s first car, purchased when he was just 13. Today, having picked ‘M3’, ‘V8’ and ‘brown’ out the buzzword bag, he and his father have created something brilliantly unique… Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photos: Patrik Karlsson
The idea of building a car in tribute or homage to another is a tricky and potentially troubling one. Look at the Ford GT40, for example, or the AC Cobra – these are iconic, revered and widely beloved motors with instantly recognisable silhouettes, race provenance in spades, and hordes of borderline-obsessive fans who would genuinely consider chopping in their own blood relatives in part exchange for a true example of the breed. They’re ethereal and, for most, unobtainable things – and, as such, countless replicas exist. Some of them are precise re-creations, built by craftsmen who’ve remained faithful to the original specs, are insistent on only using the materials and tolerances that would have been employed in period, and want to own something as close to the original as possible. Others, conversely, are thrown together for a few grand, on a Cortina chassis with a tired Pinto shoving the wonky fibreglass panels down the road. It’s a mixed bag, to say the least. That’s not to devalue the kit car genre of course, merely to highlight certain differences in perspective.
The point of all of this is that we’re not looking at a genuine E30 M3 here. This will be cheery news to the purists among you… although we’re guessing there aren’t many, as the modified M3s we’ve featured before (of which we’ve lost count, it’s a competitive game) have always been so well received. But anyway, this particular E30 rolled out of the factory as a humble 318i, and it’s taken its owner Daniel Larsson, along with his father Anders, a lot of effort, research, and tenacity to get it to this finished state. You see, turning a cooking E30 into an M3 replica isn’t simply a case of bolting on a new set of arches; while the trademark motorsport-bred box arches are very much a defining feature of the body, it’s a fairly welldocumented fact that the M3 didn’t share a lot of panels with the lesser models – while the basic shell was shared, the M3 had a dozen different panels designed to optimise airflow and help it cut through the air like a buttered lark, with pretty much just the bonnet and roof being carried over. The Larssons, then, took a holistic approach to getting the job done right.
But let’s begin at the beginning, shall we? “My dad bought this car as a 318i when I was 13 years old,” says Daniel, taking it back to the old school with aplomb (yes, if you follow that thought process to its logical conclusion, you’ll arrive at the fact that this is his first car. And there’s not a lot of folk who can boast as cool a first car as this…). “The idea was always that we’d build my first car together, and the initial plan was to make a sort of M3 replica in fibreglass.”
However, we all know how easily these plans can spiral out of control, and it wasn’t long before the eager Swedish duo were sizing up a set of genuine steel M3 wings – after all, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it properly. And the obsession with authenticity snowballed from there. “My dad’s a perfectionist, and it’s easier to get everything to line up properly if you’re starting with the genuine wings,” Daniel reasons. With the perfect fit achieved, the blistered haunches were soon augmented by topnotch fibreglass M3 bumpers at either end, along with the side-skirts to suit. The tail end received a lot of work too, as the genuine M3s had a re-angled rear window, again for aerodynamic purposes. You’ll note that the angle is correct on this car, the shiny brown C-pillars here neatly flow into the boot just as they’re supposed to – and that’s a genuine M3 spoiler too, sitting atop a perfect fibreglass interpretation of the classic raised M3 bootlid.
In a roundabout sort of way, it was always going to be a logical move for this build to get elbows-deep in the shell and start replacing things left, right and centre. “The car looked to be in pretty good shape when we first got it, although the more we tore it down the more rust we found in the classic E30 places,” Daniel recalls. Reason enough for an M3 tribute then, right? “When he started looking for a car for me, my dad’s initial plan was to find a solid car with a sunroof (which pretty much all M3s had, and that helped the project idea along!), a leather interior and a small engine so I could afford to insure it when I reached 18.” But once again we find a fairly significant deviation from the plan: you’ve almost certainly noticed that there’s a V8 in there, and that’s neither a small engine nor an M3 engine. That’s an idea that came way out of left-field. “In my childhood it was The Fast And The Furious that inspired me and made me want to build something cool, so I just wanted big spoilers for the car at first – I was 15! – and from there we customised an aftermarket body kit; it wasn’t until later that, older and wiser, we got a little more tasteful with it and went for the OEM M3 style. And then we started thinking about the engine…”
Just for a minute, let’s play a little game of six-degrees-of-separation. How do we get from the GT40 and the Cobra we were thinking about back there in the opening paragraph to the Larssons’ E30? Well, those two blue-chip classics were powered by highly-tuned Ford V8s, of course. So was another contemporary dream car, the De Tomaso Mangusta (whose name, incidentally, meaning ‘Mongoose’, was so chosen because mongooses eat cobras – another link to our opener there). De Tomaso went on to make a model called the Guarà in the 1990s, which was powered by a BMW M60B40 V8. And that’s the engine that we find sitting in this E30. There you go, we did it in just three steps.
“I wanted a V8 because I love the sound,” Daniel grins. “And the advantage of a bigcapacity engine is that you get a lot of unstressed power from it in stock form, so it won’t be breaking down all the time.” It also helps, naturally, that the process of fitting an M60 into an E30 is a pretty well-trodden path; not common by any means, but certainly something that’s been done before, so there’s plenty of advice to be sought online, and all sorts of shared wisdom on which are the optimal parts to make the whole thing work happily. It’s worth noting too that the M60 was designed with lightness in mind; it’s not the case that Daniel and Anders have slung a boat anchor in the nose of the 3 Series and cocked up the weight balance, because this particular V8 features an aluminium block and cylinder heads, as well as a plastic intake manifold – so the guys were free to revel in all of that extra horsepower without having to compromise on weight or wonky dynamics. They’ve gone all-out to make a feature of the engine too – the bay has been shaved, smoothed and wire-tucked to make the mighty bent-eight even more prominent, while the motor itself enjoys gold accents to complement the oh-so-retro brown. Oh, and what a magnificent shade it is!
BMW’s own Marrakesh brown is the sort of colour you can imagine Oompa-Loompas swimming in, all gloopy and cocoa-rich. It’s a shade you’d usually find on an X1 or possibly X6, although certain brave enthusiasts have bought into the old-school appeal of the hue and slathered it across E9x 3 Series, 1Ms and all sorts. There really should be more brown cars in the world, and Daniel’s M3 rep rocks the look far better than the phrase ‘brown E30’ might suggest. It also serves to really irritate the stuffy pipe-smokers of the concours world: jamming ‘E30 M3’, ‘V8’ and ‘brown’ into the same title is enough to see a few monocles clattering to the floor, but it really does make for a compelling combo. See, it pays to think outside of the proverbial box.
“People tend to like it, I think,” says Daniel, somewhat guardedly. “If you’re out driving and someone gives you a thumbs-up, or you see them rotating their head through 360 degrees like an owl as you drive past, that’s probably a good sign.” But, of course, winning respect was never the point of this build: it was about Daniel and his father building a car together, and the finished product is far greater than that Fast and Furious-obsessed teenager could have ever envisaged. “The car gets a lot of compliments, and it has won some trophies at big shows as well as local meets, but we built it to be driven really. I drive it as much as I can – seeing friends, taking it on holiday, even using it on track.” And it’s the latter that must surely be the most jarring for any onlookers – a brown M3 is strange enough, but one this clean being used in anger, with the bellow of a V8? Well, you’re only young once, right? No point building a car just to stand in the background polishing the thing, there’s a world of race heritage to live up to. Why not raise a few eyebrows and take a few scalps?
As tributes go, this E30 represents a modern, offbeat take on the M3 with a number of retro cues stirred in for good measure: the quest for authenticity has resulted in a bona fide homologation-model look, while the saccharine brown harks back to the 1970s and beyond. Conversely, the chassis is bang up to date, and that engine? You can’t argue with 280-odd horses and a rumble that shakes the Tarmac. It has taken countless hours in the garage to get the car this way, but Daniel and Anders cherish every late night, every blackened thumb, every moment of the father-and-son bonding experience. Some families do puzzles together. Some go sailing. Some play football. The Larssons? Well, they sketch out their dreams, then use power tools to turn them into real, tangible things. And if E30s like this are the result of such ambition, that’s something to be seriously encouraged.
Outside and engine bay get all the attention, but the interior’s not been forgotten about, with E36 M3 Vader seats and custom black headlining.
“The car gets a lot of compliments and has won trophies at big shows but we built it to be driven”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E30-V8 /// #BMW-E30-V8-M60B40 /// #BMW-E30-M60
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre V8 #M60B40 / #M60 , gold detailing, smoothed bay, five-speed manual #ZF gearbox
CHASSIS 7.5x17” (front) and 8.5x17” (rear) #Lenso BSX wheels with Hankook Ventus V12 tyres, #K-Sport Street coilovers, #Brembo four-pots (front) with 305x28mm discs, E30 325i brakes (rear)
EXTERIOR Resprayed in #BMW Marrakesh brown, genuine M3 wings, fibreglass front and rear bumpers, side skirts, C-pillars and bootlid, genuine #BMW-M3 boot spoiler, angel eyes
INTERIOR E36 M3 Vader seats, M Tech II steering wheel, custom audio, custom black headlining
THANKS Special thanks to my dad, Anders Larsson, who did this project with me, he’s the best! Also thanks to Speeding.nu and Bakaxeldelar.se
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