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    Best buys 2019 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW /

    Thoroughly enjoyed Mr Quentin Willson’s recent piece on Smart Buys, all lovely cars and sage words indeed. Many years ago, I decided to hunt down a nice BMW-E30 when they were plentiful and relatively cheap – a £1000 or so would get you on the ladder and £3-4k would buy a really nice one. After looking at several saloons that didn’t quite tick the box I chanced upon a nice manual #BMW-325i-Touring-E30 in Malachite Green and snapped it up. I still have it today and although I bought the E30 so I could enjoy driving it and without consideration to future values, it’s reassuring to know it has earned its keep over the years.
    • Smart BMW, smarter Alfa? I can’t help sharing Quentin Willson’s advice (Smart Buys) on the E30 Touring – stylish, relatively practical and just magi Smart BMW, smarter Alfa?

      I can’t help sharing Quentin Willson’s advice (Smart Buys) on the E30 Touring – stylish, relatively practical and just magical with that straight-six. I had been considering buying one but a Dutch ad for a 72,000km, one-family-owned Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon 2.5 V6 24v in light metallic green with natural leather made me change my mind – even though I had sworn I wouldn’t buy another Italian car after selling my beloved but troublesome Lancia HP Executive.

      They are not as in-demand as the E30 Touring, but in my opinion just as stylish and enjoyable. Moreover, they are much cheaper – at least to buy – if you can find one of course. The only fault identified so far is that they turn like trucks, and I am of course (mentally and financially) preparing for the €2000+ timing belt and water pump replacement. With that, a full service, tyres and compete detailing, the Alfa will cost me €10,000 – about half the price of a 325i in the same condition! That’s just unbeatable as far as I’m concerned.
        More ...
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    / #1990-BMW-318i-E30 / #1990 / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW-318i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW / #1990-BMW-318i-Automatic-E30 / #BMW-318i-Automatic-E30

    £6820

    Brightwells, Leominster, March 6 Quentin delved into the BMW E30’s rising status in the last issue, where he understandably favoured the 2.5-litre cars. It seems that collective enthusiasm has already spread to lesser models – this was an overestimate result for a four-pot, four-door E30 with an auto ‘box. Balancing all that out was pretty minimal mileage at 38,350, most of its life with the same family, plus plenty of history.
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    E30 M3 STAYS COOL AT 215MPH / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-E30

    A tuned E30-generation #BMW-M3 has broken the ice speed record in Sweden. Buldre Racing Team recorded an average speed of 212mph at the Swedish Speedweek in Årsunda, recording a high of 215.5mph on one run.

    As you might have guessed, it’s no factory-spec M3, though – under the bonnet is a #Toyota-2JZ pumping out 1300bhp. This beats the team’s previous effort in an Audi RS4, which had the safety net of four-wheel drive...Watch it at
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    Seems spring has arrived early

    CAR: 1989 BMW 320i Convertible
    OWNER: Glen Waddington
    PHOTOS: Robert Hefferon

    / #1989-BMW-320i-Convertible / #1989 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B20 / #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-E30-M20 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet-M20 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet-E30

    This Time last year we had snow. My 944 had just recently blown its rep by blowing out its own electrics, and the Beemer was tucked up safely in my garage. Where it spends too much time. But I don’t like taking it out on wintry roads, because it’s nearly 30 years old, factory-original and in damn fine fettle.

    As I write this on the last day in February, I’m looking out onto a sunlit garden, daffodils swaying gently in the breeze, birdsong drifting through an open window. Two record-breakingly warm days preceded this one. But tomorrow it’s back to normal. Whatever counts for normal in 2019.

    Anyway, I’ll stop wittering, because my point is that this is the first winter during my eight-year tenure of the BMW – today is its anniversary – during which it’s been driven with anything like regularity. I was even out giving it an early spring clean last weekend, ahead of driving it to Bicester Heritage for an editorial meeting with the #Drive-My team. And I drove home with the roof down. That has rarely happened this side of April. I’m generally an advocate of use rather than storage, although I admit that when the BMW crept past 50,000 miles last year, I fleetingly wondered if I should mothball it. Winter hibernation can cause the odd issue: I’ve lost count of the new batteries I’ve fitted (even if the last one was terminally discharged when I left the bootlid slightly ajar – can’t blame the car or the weather for that one), plus I’ve been through a master cylinder, a clutch slave cylinder, a heater blower motor and a seized brake caliper. All these failures occurred within the first post-hibernation drive.

    There have been no such problems this year, and I’ll count my sunburnt forehead as a freak of the highly unseasonable weather. We’ve had a lot of frosty nights, mind. Frosty enough to make the 944 a tardy starter one morning. Rather than drain the battery, I reached for the Energizer 400A jump-starter kit I got late last summer. It wasn’t cheap at around £100, but it’s about the size of a large smartphone and can be used to charge one of those so you can cycle its battery between boosts. Connection is easy – it’s great not having to lug something heavy around – and the 944 sprang instantly to life. Indispensible for any car that is parked up for just a touch too long.
    So I’m glad I’ve got it, ready for when we have snow in June…

    Above and below: BMW bowls along at Bicester; it was joined by editor Elliott’s Triumph not-2000 – and a McLaren 12C Spider.
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    MARK B’S #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW

    Well it’s been a busy month or so and I’m pleased to be able to say that all remains well with my E30 M3. In fact, a recent trip up to Silverstone for the Pistonheads Sunday Service saw me cover nigh-on 550 miles in one day.

    The only real drawback with living here in Cornwall is everything else is just so bloody far away! Oh and that we don’t have a race circuit, although once my lottery millions roll in I plan to remedy that situation with a mini Nürburgring! I simply need to win the lottery first! Anyway, I had never driven Silverstone before, but the Pistonheads event had 30 minute sessions available for just £40, so I figured it was worth the trip. As well as a chance to get out on track there is usually a good mix of cars there to drool over and there was even a bit of sun forecast to make an appearance. I also knew that Sam Ratcliffe was due to be there in his stunning E46 M3 track car, which is just about my perfect specification. Added to which he can pedal a bit and who doesn’t like seeing an M3 getting used properly on track? In fact, look up DannyDC2 on YouTube and you can see both Sam and Dan driving their M3s back at Silverstone a week or so later.

    Anyway, the trip up in the E30 went without incident, although it has to be said that the Nankang AR-1 tyres aren’t exactly ideal on a cold autumn morning. I did consider swapping over to my spare wheels that wear an all-weather Toyo TR1, but as the forecast was for dry and bright weather I figured it best to stay with the Nankang and just be a bit more careful driving up. Once I was within a few miles of Silverstone I soon began to spot other cars heading to the same event. I ended up in convoy with a pair of serious-looking Caterhams, a stunning blue 911 GT3 and a Clio Sport. It reminded me just how useful a roof and windscreen are as the Caterham looked a bit of a chilly and damp place to be thanks to the early morning drizzle.

    Once we reached the circuit I was directed to the pit garages, while the rest of the convoy went into the main car park and joined the rest of the event. There were so many great cars there and a few rarities, such as the Renault 5 Turbo 2 and a pair of Nobles. There were several of the usual suspects that you see at track days, such as a 911 GT3 RS and the later incarnations of the M3 and M5, with a lovely track-prepared E34 M5 being a favourite of mine. The drizzle had stopped but the track was still pretty wet and there was certainly no visible dry line. Sadly one unlucky M3 owner had a pretty big off and wiped out the front of his car in a big way. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt, though, and an initial inspection suggested his M3 wasn’t beyond repair. It was still a sobering reminder of how quickly things can go wrong if you push a little too hard or get caught unaware by changing track conditions.

    The time for my sessions soon rolled around and I lined up in the pit lane behind a lovely-looking Noble. The track had been drying out but there were still lots of wet patches to look out for and I knew my tyres needed a bit of heat before they’d have any real grip. There was also the added factor that my only experience of Silverstone was driving it at home on the PS4 and Project Cars, where spinning out in a Group A E30 M3 doesn’t matter. I opted to try and stay to the right (letting the faster cars past with a cursory flick of the indicators to confirm my intentions) and simply enjoy being on such a historic track and being able to really stretch the E30’s legs. One of the many things I love about the E30 M3 is just how communicative the chassis is. It’s just so easy to feel exactly what the car is doing beneath you and the feedback through the steering means that even clumsy amateurs like myself can make a reasonable job of putting a respectable lap in. The more laps I did, the drier the racing line got and the more my confidence grew. The only downside was that the KW Competition suspension I run is just a bit too firm for wet conditions. Ideally you want a bit of body roll, so the weight shifts and pushes the tyre contact patch into the tarmac, so I could have disconnected the ARB if I’d had more time, but it was still great fun all the same and reminded me just how capable the E30 M3 really is out on track. I had a couple of moments going into the faster corners where the inside rear caught the wet outer edge of the track and lost grip but it just made me more determined to go back once spring gets here next year.

    The drive home (after checking the engine oil, coolant, tyre pressures etc.) was just as uneventful as the drive up. I always enjoy seeing people react to spotting a track prep’d E30 M3 go past amongst a sea of modern Euro boxes, though. The engine has been great and, even out on track, the oil and coolant temperatures stayed perfectly constant, as did the oil pressure. I’m off to Mallory Park in late November so will need to change the oil and filter before then and have Joe at ARM BMW do a spanner check. I also plan on fitting some new brake pads from Pagid and fitting a vinyl sun strip on the windscreen now that the winter sun is so much lower, as the cage stops the OE sun visors from being used. I’m also thinking of getting Apex to supply a set of their stunning dished ARC-8 alloys.

    THANKS Joe @ ARM as ever Pistonheads Sunday Service Silverstone Circuit Nankang UK Apex

    BMW E30 M3 felt at home around Silverstone.
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    Time for the autumn chill-out

    1989 BMW 320i Convertible Glen Waddington

    / #1989-BMW-320i-Convertible / #1989 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B20 / #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-E30-M20 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet-M20 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet-E30

    As I write this the sun is shining outside. It’s bloody cold, though. Autumn is setting in quickly and suddenly and it’s only just over a month since I spent a balmy late-summer evening with a whole bunch of BMW convertibles near Henley-on-Thames, as regular readers might remember. I had a fantastic time piloting such beauties as a BMW-328-Roadster , a #BMW-507 , a #BMW-Z1 and a #BMW-Z8 (see right), before sunset called a halt to proceedings.

    Thing is, I’d already had a fabulous drive down there in my own #BMW-Convertible . And no matter what the charms of those other cars were - only one of which I could even imagine owning, if you bear their market values in mind - mine more than held its own. In fact, it was rather enjoyable to have some of the other assembled journalists take a look over it; one or two of them even assumed it had been brought down as part of BMW’s own fleet!

    The journey was a hundred miles or so, much on trunk roads plus a spell on the M40. But the scenery turns bucolic in a major way on the stretch south from Stokenchurch, narrow lanes winding and plunging through dense woodland with the sun barely filtering through at times, thee leafy smell and the birdsong make a convertible a real treat to be in - quite a different effect from the more usual roof-down/howling exhaust scenario.

    A few hours later I had to think about my route home, those thread-like lanes could easily hide the occasional inebriated local, lurking in a 4x4 without thought to a delicate 1980s soft-top, so I headed out of Henley towards Nettlebed and Watlington and was treated to some fabulously sinuous B-roads, perfect for the innate balance and modest yet useful power of my 320i. Even the roundabouts on the A43 past Brackley did their bit to make this a properly life-affirming high-speed late-night trek. One I’ll remember during the winter evenings ahead.
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    MARK B’S #BMW-E30-Coupe / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-S14

    Since rebuilding the engine a few months back, I have tried to use the M3 whenever I can and it finally has the reliability it should have had. The engine performance is really strong and using the M3 in competition meant I was able to really drive it harder than regular driving allows. I kept the rev limit to just over 8000rpm for longevity and while 250hp isn’t much by modern M3 standards, combined with a shorter final drive and the low weight of a partially-stripped #BMW-E30 , you have a car that’s quicker than you might imagine. The combination of induction noise (thanks to the DTM carbon air box) and harder edged exhaust tone (from Eisenmann’s excellent Race exhaust system) only add to the experience. Whilst I always loved the look of the old ex-works race car clocks, they just didn’t allow me to keep close enough an eye on what was going on within the engine, which is why STACK suggested I run their classic analogue rev counter and LCD display. I must say, I am glad I followed their advice as having literally every parameter covered and the information available at my finger tips has meant I have total confidence in the BMW-S14 and its health. I can’t say it hasn’t been a pretty steep learning curve, especially when it comes down to learning which modifications work and which don’t, but I’m finally at a point where everything has come together. The additional cooling (thanks Rad-Tec) and tricks like remounting the oil cooler (albeit a slightly larger Mocal unit) mean the engine now runs at its optimum with power and performance being consistent no matter ambient temperature and altitude, thanks to running DTA Fast engine management. This wasn’t the case with Alpha-N, when the car could feel totally different from one day to the next. It just seemed incredibly sensitive to changes and I’m sure that wasn’t good for the engine. Thankfully that’s all in the past now.

    This past week saw MOT time roll around again (where does the time go?!). Thankfully ARM take care of this for me and as I know there’s no corrosion to worry about, plus the mechanical side is about as well maintained as it’s possible to be, I really didn’t have too many concerns. Usually it’s something trivial like the headlight adjustment or a blown bulb but this time it was a straight pass with no advisories. Job done! We also did a gearbox and LSD oil change as I plan on doing a track session at Silverstone at the end of November. I’ve never driven Silverstone before, apart from in Project Cars on the PS4, so I’m really looking forward to driving such an iconic track. The video from Petrolicious is also live now and I must say thank you for the positive comments. It’s been a tough few years if I’m honest and I have some more tough times ahead, so I’m extremely grateful. Sadly this may mean my selling the E30, although I am currently trying to find an alternative solution, but please feel free to contact me should you be interested.

    Mark’s awesome M3 in action
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    MARK B’S E30 M3 #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-S14 / #resto-mod /

    There are some events that simply stand head and shoulders above the rest and the Retro Rides Gathering is one of them. Despite a few location changes over the years, it continues to be the class of the field as far as I am concerned. This year saw a multitude of cars descend upon Shelsey Walsh where, set in the hills of Worcestershire, is one of the UK’s premier hill climb tracks. Established in 1905 it has seen a glorious array of cars and drivers, stopping only for the two world wars. I had been before, so knew what to expect and although this was very much a ‘for fun’ event, it doesn’t stop you trying once the light goes green.

    In the days before Retro Rides I was able to get Joe Geach of ARM BMW and Motorsport to spanner check the car and change the oil. I had already backed off the KW suspension to full soft, so as to afford as much compliance as possible. It’s still very firm but allows for some roll and better grip on the slower, tighter corners. In the quick stuff the M3 still felt totally planted and gave me loads of confidence to push on. Now, I’m no natural talent and certainly haven’t missed out on a career in the BTCC or DTM, but I’ve driven a fair few race cars (including an outing in a Formula Opel Euroseries car. A genuine slicks and wings formula) and my personal best in a race-prepared E30 325i is a 59.7. Now considering I’m built for comfort and not speed, I was pretty happy with that.

    I usually leave Cornwall at 3am and make my way up to Shelsey, but this time I went all posh and got myself an Air BnB in Hereford. This meant I could have a lie-in till 7am, grab a shower and enjoy some of the beautiful roads that area has to offer. I’d driven up the day before and crossed the Severn Bridge for some B road fun en route. I even managed to find a jet wash close to Shelsey and got the M3 pretty clean considering the 250+ miles I’d covered and beat the queues to boot. Driving from Hereford to Shelsey, with the sun shining, windows down and the S14 singing, is a cracking start to any Sunday, let alone one with the Gathering to follow.

    One of the great things about Retro Rides is the eclectic mix of cars, with nothing newer than 1995. It really doesn’t matter what you drive so long as it’s old enough, and the atmosphere is terrific. On a personal note, I’m always made to feel so very welcome and it’s a real pleasure seeing the many familiar faces year-on-year. It’s that which keeps me going back time and again.

    As those of you who read my ramblings will know, it has been a tough year or so with my M3. It seemed that every time I left Cornwall the engine would let me down, and not in a small way. Much as I love the S14, it is extremely expensive to rebuild and I’ve been chasing reliability issues for months now. The biggest problem has been with the bearings and the supply of OE quality from independent suppliers. Hopefully, it appears to have been third time lucky and the M3 is now running better than it ever it has. Even with some of the hottest ambient temperatures of 2018, power was a strong 250hp+ on ARM’s dyno, with the rev limit set at 8.5k for engine longevity. It sounds absolutely glorious, especially now there are a few miles on the Eisenmann/Supersprint exhaust system. The pops and crackles on overrun are epic and, along with the induction noise from the carbon air box, it almost sounds like a proper DTM car.

    The mix of cars at Shelsey included a selection of Bavaria’s finest, including a ’60s 1600-2 with a supercharged M42 that was owned and built by James of JFi Classics in Brecon. There was also an S54-powered E28 flying up the hill and sounding glorious. Very much a home-brewed M5 and one of my personal favourites of the day.

    As well as having fun on the hill at Shelsey Walsh, I have been working with Thomas Garner Films and Mumbo Vlogs, who were shooting on behalf of Petrolicious. I’m going to hazard a guess that if you’re reading this, you’ll know Petrolicious and the content they put out on YouTube. If you don’t, you’re in for a real treat. The video will be up in October so just search for ‘Petrolicious BMW E30 M3,’ sit back and enjoy. You’ll also find relevant content on Instagram at mark_e30m3 and official-mumbo.

    Finally, if you’re in Cornwall around mid September, be sure to pay a visit to Watergate Bay and see what is billed as being the UK’s first closed road speed event. It takes place over the weekend of the 15/16th September 2018 and you’ll see a brace of E30 M3s being driven as they were designed to be. There are some very special cars and drivers entered so check out www.watergatebayhillclimb.co.uk for further information. Feel free to come say hello if you visit the pits too! If you can’t make it, I’ll try and bring you an in depth report after the event.

    E30 looked the part at Shelsey Walsh. BMW M3 E30 will be a YouTube star very soon. M3 received plenty of attention.
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    OUR CARS MARK B’S E30 M3

    / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-S14 / #resto-mod /

    As I write this, last week was the first Retro Rides Gathering at Goodwood and a date I had marked in my diary a good few months back. The chaps at Retro Rides always put on a good show, with their August events at Shelsey Walsh being just about my favourite of the year. Goodwood was a first, though, and with a combination of static show and track action it was also going to be popular. There was also bound to be a good selection of classic BMWs, with many having a resto-mod flavour.

    Personally though, I was looking forward to getting my E30 M3 out on track and enjoying all the hard work done over the past year or so. Living in Cornwall is lovely but the only real downside is everywhere being so far away. I could have camped at Goodwood but opted to use Airbnb and find myself a place to stay close by instead. Before leaving, though, I figured I would get local valeters iShine to come work their magic and get the M3 looking its best. Much as I love my car, detailing just isn’t my thing! I also did a thorough spanner and fluid check to make certain all was as it should be, before loading my suitcase and crash helmet, then heading off towards Goodwood. In fact, it was Chichester I was staying at and the journey up couldn’t have been better. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the M3 was in its element on the twisting A roads of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. Being so warm, as I headed through the New Forest I opened the windows and enjoyed the induction noise, with pops and bangs from the exhaust on overrun. It had to rank as one of the best journeys I’ve done in the M3. I arrived at the #B&B in good time and was up early on Saturday, getting petrol en route to the circuit, with the sun still shining.

    Goodwood is a fantastic circuit. It’s fast and flowing, with some double-apex right-handers that really suit the E30 M3. The warm ambient temperature also meant the Nankang AR-1 tyres were at their best and I was looking forward to putting them through their paces. I knew they were good from using them on the street but that simply doesn’t compare to lapping a circuit. On a track day I would have dropped cold air pressures to around 20 psi but this was a sprint format that consisted of a standing start from the pit lane and two flying laps. There was also a second chicane that had been added to the back straight, in an effort to slow things down a little. There were morning and afternoon sessions, with 40 cars in each that were divided into groups of five. Cars were released one at a time, with about 15 seconds between them, so as to spread the cars out on track. Overtaking was also forbidden. The track action was always going to be about fun rather than competition with such an eclectic group of cars anyway. I had a Studebaker ahead of me and a ’60s Ford Galaxy behind, so you see what I mean.

    My first two laps were more about remembering the corners than pushing the limits of the car. Even so, it wasn’t long before I found myself riding the rear of the Studebaker. I backed off, enjoyed the views and once the gap had grown again, nailed the accelerator, enjoying the sound of the S14 revving up toward its redline. I know I’m biased but it sounded glorious. In the past I have always tried to short-shift the gears and get the M3 settled into the corners, carrying as much speed as I can.

    I must say I was incredibly happy with the performance of the #Nankang-AR-1 tyres. The levels of grip were excellent right from the off and they were certainly consistent. My first introduction to Nankang was of a cheap tyre most often used by drifters and, if honest, there was a bit of a stigma attached to the name. It is pretty clear that Nankang have done some serious development and, as a control tyre for the #M3 cup, the general consensus was it’s a very good tyre indeed. It will be interesting to see how well they last, when compared to the likes of the Toyo R888R, but their performance is certainly next level. Yes, they’re not exactly ideal in wet weather but they were never meant to be. It’s hard to see how you could get a better track day tyre for the money, though. The only negative being there isn’t quite the choice in sizes I would like, but hopefully that may change in the future? Anyway, big thanks to Ben Lawson at Nankang UK.

    The M3 runs KW Competition suspension and it felt so planted, really giving me the confidence to carry so much speed through the corners. My previous experience had been with my old #BMW-325i-Coupe-E30 race car but the M3 is in a whole other league. As I passed the chequered flag I was able to scroll through the various readings on the Stack dash display and everything was well within the limits so we rolled around to the paddock and awaited our next laps.

    Whilst sat in the paddock we shuffled our group of five cars around, with the M3 going first as it was the fastest. Now I could really push on without catching slower traffic, although I was also mindful of this being fun and not competitive. As we had a few minutes I was able to take a look at some of the other cars and especially the other BMWs. How about a 1970 1600-2? I love ’02s anyway, but this one belonged to James of JFi Classics in Brecon. James and I have been friends for a few years now and he has put together some terrific cars. This ’02 has a real sting in the tail, with a supercharged #M42 under the bonnet. The registration plate FLY is pretty apt and the whine of the supercharger is phenomenal. There was also another E30 M3, but rather than being powered by an S14 it has what was the first #LS1-V8 conversion. Power is around 450hp so it was always going to be quick. My personal favourite is a car I have known since I first discovered BMWs 30 plus years ago! It’s a 2002 Touring but with M30 3.5 power and triple Weber carbs. It has to be said, this is just about my perfect ’02 specification and a credit to Ian Elliott who has built and developed it over many years.

    As time came around for my next laps, James from JFi’s son jumped in as a passenger, having never ridden in an E30 M3 before. Obviously with such a valuable cargo I wasn’t going to go 10/10ths but after the first lap we were both enjoying the performance of the M3 and all those clichés that have been written for the past 30+ years. The second lap was certainly my quickest of the day, carrying more speed through Woodcote and braking hard for the right, left of Chicane as we entered the pit straight and crossed the finishing line. It was as we passed that line the dash warning light flashed and the Stack display showed ‘Low Oil Pressure!’ accompanied by the unmistakable sound of bearing knocking. I immediately killed the engine and coasted to a halt. My weekend had just taken a nosedive.

    The next half hour was mainly spent staring in disbelief. I had done everything I could to guard against this scenario yet here I was, looking at yet another incredibly expensive engine rebuild. What I just couldn’t understand, though, was why? The reason I had installed the digital dash display from Stack Ltd, was that it allowed me to keep a close eye on exactly what goes on with the engine. The custom rad, larger oil cooler and baffled sump were also fitted to allow the S14 to be used as it was designed to be, on track. I’ve been almost obsessive in keeping watch over fluid levels and temperatures yet here I was with another engine failure. As you can imagine, my enthusiasm for the rest of the weekend took quite a knock so I opted to get the M3 transported back home so that ARM could get the engine out and back to the builder.


    A could of days later Joe at ARM took off the sump and it was soon clear that cylinder number one’s big end shell had spun. Added to that, the rest of the bearings look to have worn prematurely and you’d never believe this was an engine that had run for just 300 hours. What we couldn’t see though, was a reason to explain the failure and without that I couldn’t rebuild and gamble that it could happen again.

    The next couple of days saw me calling and emailing anyone with experience of using BMWs S14 in competition. They all agreed that I appeared to have taken pretty much every precaution and both the ECU and Stack memories confirmed that there were no excessive coolant or oil temperatures, the engine had never been over-revved and the only thing that was shown was a momentary (and pretty catastrophic) loss of oil pressure. It was then that I mentioned that the crank had been subjected to a +0.75 regrind and it is this that seems most likely to have been behind the failure, due to its removing the nitriding that gives the crank strength. In fact a few people have since told me that they just wouldn’t regrind an S14 crankshaft at all, let alone as much as +0.75 and that I need a new crankshaft before I rebuild my engine once again. I also need to replace at least one of the Arrow con rods as the end cap has blued from the heat generated by the spun shell. Thankfully Russ, at JC Racing in Thirsk, has come to the rescue. So there we go. As it stands today (and things may well change between now and your reading this) I have a pretty expensive parts list to fill. I had no idea that the S14 crank couldn’t be reground but as they say, every day is a school day and this was an expensive lesson!

    BIG THANKS TO Joe at ARM BMW, Kirby at C3 BMW Russ at JC Racing, James at JFi Classics Nigel at Moseley Motorsport I also owe a huge amount to my long-suffering partner Claire. I think it’s fair to say she hates the M3 and would rather I sold it and took up knitting instead

    Nankang AR-1s impressed on track. The M3 was treated to a detailing session. Compbrake #BBK great on track. #BMW-E30-LS1 #V8-swapped-BMW-M3-E30 was also on track.
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