- Post is under moderationAMERICAN BEAUTY / #BMW-E28 / #BMW-E28-S52-swapped / #BMW-E28-S52 / #BMW-E28-CAtuned / #BMW / #CAtuned /
Utterly stunning supercharged BMW E28 with built S52 swap. CAtuned’s latest creation is this absolutely stunning S52-swapped supercharged E28. Mixing classic Euro styling with some eccentric touches and a whole heap of power, this gorgeous E28 does things a bit differently and we love it… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Denis Podmarkov.
As far as feature cars are concerned, 2015 was a good year for the E28 and its fans. We had no less than four stunning examples of the classic Five, each very different to the other. Three of them were big-power turbocharged examples and the other was a lush S38- swapped machine from the UK. It was a good spread of great cars and a strong sign that the E28 is a firm favourite on the modified BMW scene. We’ve barely scratched the surface of 2016 and we’ve already had the pleasure of a supercharged E28 pair last month and now we’ve got another E28 to enjoy that boasts both an engine swap and forced induction. It really is a stunner.
When this car popped into the PBMW inbox it elicited a very positive reaction from us all. Big smiles and lots of head nodding all-round because it’s that sort of car, the kind of car that makes your day. There’s so much attention to detail, so many special details, it just makes us happy. Not as happy, though, as its owner. Ash Evans is the lucky guy who, when he’s not overhauling light rail trains, gets to enjoy cruising in the California sunshine in this E28.
For Ash, the car recalls fond memories. “My dad had a 1986 Bahama Beige 528e,” he tells us, “and I remember tagging along with him on the weekends to the local race track where he was a trackside announcer. I can distinctly remember him loving that car. And, as all young lads want to be like their dads, I knew then that I wanted a 5 Series.
Like every first love there is something about the smell, sound and understated styling that was intoxicating and addictive. There is also something special about the handling of BMWs in the twisties to which no other automaker can compare.”
Ash began his Bavarian journey with a 2001 E46 330Ci, which he loved and, as a self-confessed tinkerer, it was inevitable that his cars would end up modified. Although, when the E28 appeared in his life, going this far was not part of the plan. “I was looking for a classic BM and received some good advice from a friend,” Ash revealed. “He advised that when shopping for an old car, it’s best to find the cleanest example you can so you have a solid foundation.
“My preference was a Bahama Beige or Schwartz E28. I shopped for six months, finally deciding on this Schwartz that I nicknamed Black Shug. The previous owner of the car was an estate agent from Boulder, Colorado. She purchased it new from Beverly Hills #BMW and used it to sell homes in Los Angeles until she moved to Colorado. It was always stored in her garage and this was evident by the lack of corrosion. In my profession, corrosion is a nightmare and a budget killer.”
The car in question is a 528e, exactly like the one his dad owned all those years ago. In Europe we know it as the 525e. Both badges are numerically incorrect anyway, as the low-revving, efficiency-orientated M20 under the bonnet is a 2.7.
Ash says initially his plan was to keep things simple, replacing worn components, upgrading the suspension and fitting some more attractive wheels. As he admits, though, this is a slippery slope and everything changed when he came into contact with the team at CAtuned.
This name will be familiar to anyone into modified BMs as the Californian contingent has been behind numerous PBMW feature cars. Brothers Igor, Max and Co. always produce incredible builds, finished to the highest standards. “When I moved to Sacramento, I reached out to CAtuned because I was interested in its E28 coilover setup, big brake kit and subframe bushes.
After the suspension installation, I casually asked about the cost to complete a motor overhaul. After walking through its shop and observing the incredible builds and swaps the guys were capable of, I knew instantly the overhauled M20 would need to be replaced with something more powerful and perhaps unusual. The S52 was practically decided on that day and, as with any project, the goal quickly amplified. Soon we were discussing the copper trim, a custom gauge cluster, and a sport interior!”
The S52 is an interesting choice for an E28 swap; the non-e M20 or the M30, both period-correct engines for the E28, are great candidates for forced induction and what you’d usually expect to see on a Euro car rocking a serious turbo setup. The US-only iron block S52, though, is readily available in the States and has plenty of aftermarket support in terms of power upgrades, not least because of its 81hp shortfall compared to the European S50B32 which, usefully, includes off-the-shelf supercharger kits for plenty of power with minimal fuss. “The engine was a transplant from a 2001 E36 M3. It’s not a direct swap so CAtuned’s engineers built custom mounts,” explains Ash. “During the disassembly of the donor engine, we found some scarring on the cylinder walls so we sent the block to the machine shop, ordering all forged internals, porting and polishing the head, installing high flow valves and springs, and a Schrick cam. It’s all held together properly with ARP bolts. It was my goal to have a powerful engine and make the swap something unique and the VF Engineering V3 Si-trim supercharger kit was an excellent option for a reliable increase in power. The tuning and engine management was completed by RKtunes and maximises all the power available with the 8-9psi. The overhauled ZF gearbox, limited-slip differential and short-throw linkage makes for an incredible connection to the abundant power.”
And just how much power is this E28 putting out? Well, the S52 VF kit is good for 350hp and 295lb ft of torque on a stock engine at 6psi. With the extensively uprated internals and increased boost pressure it’s got to be at least 400hp, which is going to feel like a whole lot more in an E28.
“The engine transplant is my favourite modification on the whole car,” grins Ash. “The power is linear, controlled and very addictive. Simply put, the car eats Tarmac in a hurry and I could not be happier with this decision.”
And what about those CAtuned coilovers and chassis upgrades, the reason he went to CAtuned in the first place? “Most Americans love drag racing in a straight line,” he says, “but this chassis was designed to canyon carve with the most driver feedback possible. Therefore, CAtuned engineers helped decide on a coilover setup that would allow for a very sporty and responsive feel, predictable handling and allow a proper aesthetic. I could not be happier with their setup, especially considering the adjustable dampening for the front and rear.”
As you can see, Ash is not a man who does things by halves and that extends to the styling of the car, both inside and out, which is both incredibly subtle yet at the same time absolutely wonderful. At first glance, you might not notice much but once you get up close, that’s when you can drink in all the delicious details.
“I love having the performance of a race car but I do not want to be too obvious,” explains Ash. “I was aiming to keep the general styling of the E28 but wanted something very unique.” Well he’s achieved exactly that, with copper brightwork sitting aside the original chrome trim. On paper the idea of copper trim components perhaps doesn’t sound like it should work but the copper is incredible subtle, not overdone or overused. It’s very pale and delicate, almost leaning more towards a gold tone than a copper penny. “In general, I feel that the copper and chrome trim complements the Schwartz paint,” says Ash.
And we agree. Adding the copper highlights to the door handles, E12 door mirror (there’s only one), and bumper trims gives the styling an extra visual element. It’s as unusual as it is inspired and an eye-catching touch on a car that otherwise has been largely left unspoiled by the addition of unwanted addenda.
The wheels are a slightly unusual choice for an E28, a car which naturally seems to suit cross-spokes. Ash was even planning to refurbish a set of Style 5s for the car but then Igor stepped in and offered up something that was too special to turn down. “Igor always has something up his sleeve and I could not be happier with the extremely rare one-off two-piece HRE fivespokes he suggested,” says Ash. “When he sent me a picture showing me the wheels on the car, I was sold.”
The simple five-spokes look fantastic on the Five. The polished lips and faces tie in nicely with the rest of the shiny exterior details but our favourite part of the car’s styling has got to be that side exit exhaust. It’s just so unexpected on a car like this and really stands out. There’s a hint that something’s going on here, its bolted-on heat shield stained black, a tell-tale sign that Ash enjoys driving this car properly.
Inside the changes are, once again, subtle but purposeful and the devil is in the details. “Similar to the exterior, I wanted the interior to be refreshed but keep its OEM feel,” says Ash. “It was a CAtuned team effort and we decided on black cloth Corbeau GT2 driver and passenger seats, refurbished doorcards, new black cloth headliner, new black carpet with upgraded sound deadening and insulation, a Blaupunkt stereo, a subtle gauge cluster, and an Alpina steering wheel. You’ll also find some #BMW-Motorsports bits.”
The seats look fantastic and not at all out of place in the E28. The auxiliary gauges are neatly mounted in custom pods, tucked away, visible but not showy. There’s a modern Sport gear knob and we love the classic, freshly refurbished four-spoke Alpina steering wheel. The custom instrument cluster from Bavarian Restoration has had the needles and instrument bezels gilded and even the palm tree element of CAtuned’s logo has received a touch of gold. It’s a lovely touch, and indicative of the level of detail that’s gone into the whole build.
To our eyes this is a car that’s got it right on every level. It has been assembled with as much care for the details as for the overall ethos of the build. Modifications have been done in moderation. The subtle changes have created a sleeper that embraces various styling elements. We love how Ash has managed to surprise us with unexpected additions yet he brings them all together in perfect harmony. It’s a car you cannot fail to admire and one you can easily love.
DATA FILE Supercharged E28
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / #S52 / #BMW-S52 , forged internals including custom forged pistons, custom camshafts, custom Stage 3 supercharger with #RK-Tunes tune, custom exhaust system with side-exit tip, five-speed manual gearbox, LSD.
CHASSIS 8x17” (front and rear) one-off HRE Vintage two-piece wheels with 215/45 (front and rear) Falken Ziex ZE950 tyres, #Motorsport-Hardware spacers and studs, CAtuned coilovers, heavy duty front and rear anti-roll bars, CAtuned polybushes throughout, CAtuned rear camber kit, all E28 M5 suspension upgrades, CAtuned big brake upgrade front and rear.
EXTERIOR Euro styling upgrades, Renewed Finishes copper finish on all metal parts, E12 exterior mirror and passenger filler, 35 per cent tint all-round.
INTERIOR Custom Bavarian Restoration gauge cluster with exclusive CAtuned insignia, custom readout gauges in dash, Corbeau GT2 cloth seats, custom CAtuned black headliner, custom glass sunroof.
THANKS A very special thank you to all the guys at the CAtuned shop, it was a team effort. Igor with the amazing vision, Stan for the bodywork and paint, Max for the incredible fabrication, Alex for headliner and interior, and Ivan for helping to keep me focused. I would also like to thank Greg from Bavarian Restoration for the gauge cluster and Dave from Renewed Finishes for the beautiful copper work.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationMichael Divine #BMW-E30 / #BMW-325iS / #BMW-325iS-E30 / #1989 / #S52 / #BMW-S52 / #BMW-325iS-S52-E30
Owning this E30 is the fulfilment of a boyhood dream for Michael, particularly a 1989 car like this as that’s the year he was born. Michael bought his example a year ago and he’s clearly been busy as it’s looking sharp.
On the suspension front he’s fitted #Koni Adjustables with #H&R Race springs along with #Condor-Speed-Shop solid bushings and mounts all-round. Genuine Style 5s have been mounted with 42 Draft 18mm 5x120 adapters while the chrome trim has been blacked out.
There’s also an iS front lip and the high beams and fogs have been tinted. Inside, Michael has fitted some sexy E36 M3 Vader seats and a Nardi wooden steering wheel. Future plans include an S52 swap and #CAtuned coilovers. This daily driven E30 is certain to keep Michael busy and happy for a long time.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBEN’S #BMW-E36 / #BMW-323i TOURING / #BMW-323i-Touring / #BMW-323i-Touring-E36 / #BMW-E36 /
Last time I covered a couple of new parts that I’d fitted in time for the Gaydon #BMW Festival however, there was one thing I needed to fix that I needed help with.
My hectic last minute rush to get it looking presentable (and driving as I wanted it to) all took place over the week running up to the event. Thursday morning saw me leaving the house at 6.30am for an important visit to RAW Motorsport in Southampton. The reason for my trip was that my nearside rear wheel bearing had been sounding poorly for some time and after a trip to the Nicky Grist Stages rally in Wales the noise just got to the point where I was unhappy to drive the car at all. RAW Motorsport has extensive experience with all things M3 and there’s no one else I trust with the car, so I got myself booked in with RAW front man and namesake Robin Welsh.
I’m usually more than happy to get out the spanners and have a crack at things myself but the wheel bearings on the rear of E36 are a known problem area, with the driveshafts usually getting stuck into the back of the bearings and all sorts. With the risk of leaving my car stranded in the workshop, doing it myself wasn’t something I fancied. On top of this, RAW has a method it uses which works perfectly every time.
Onto the shopping list. I’ve always highly rated Meyle parts and so using its rear wheel bearings was a no-brainer. I have Meyle front wheel bearings, too, so why not keep things matching? Coupled with these, I opted for a set of CAtuned chromoly heavy-duty driveshafts.
Not only do the shafts look fantastic but they use a solid 4340 chromoly shaft at their centre for seriously beefed-up strength. This is without any extra weight over the standard shafts – a win/win. Luckily, both the bearings and the shafts are available in the UK through Hack Engineering, making buying it all nice and easy.
Once up on the ramp at RAW Motorsport, technician Tom could start disassembling the rear end. Sure enough, the nearside wheel bearing was very noisy indeed and both driveshafts were also very much worse for wear. The offside wheel bearing seemed to be in perfect health but was changed anyway.
I also asked Tom to check the rear trailing arm bushing bolts as I’d been having a strange clunk from that area and, sure enough, I had good reason to be cautious. The track action that the Touring has been through is taking its toll on the poor girl, with the trailing arm mounts being close to torn out of the underside of the car. In the usual RAW Motorsport style there was no deliberation about a fix and Tom and Clive simply got straight on with a repair, welding the damaged area, undersealing it and then remounting the trailing arm.
Of course, this is not the end of it. I’ll shortly be back at RAW with a set of reinforcement plates to have the job finished off. Thankfully my subframe mounting points are showing no signs of damage. One last request I had for Robin was to see whether he had a set of secondhand seats. The GT3 replica seats look great but on track they just don’t have enough support. I needed something proper and, of course, Robin had just the thing: a set of FIA Sparco Corsas. Of course, they’re out of date (in fact, the production date on them is only a few months after that of my E36) but they’re in great nick.
Thanks to my #VAC-Motorsports Race Seat Installation Kit, swapping between seats was a relatively straightforward process, and the new seats were fitted in no time at all. They feel fantastic and allow a whole new level of feel and support. I can’t wait to use them on track. Finally, the E36 was given a quick detail over at Soap Grenade Detailing, leaving it ready for the show and looking pretty respectable! There’s still a ton more work I’d like to do to get it looking its best, but for now, I’m pretty happy.
COSTS THIS MONTH
Meyle rear wheel bearings – £29 each #CAtuned chromoly driveshafts – £602
THANKS & CONTACT Hack Engineering 01444 617365 www.hackengineering.co.uk
RAW Motorsport (Now at Thruxton Race Circuit) 07795 563223 www.rawmotorsport.co.ukStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationHACK ENGINEERING’S #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #CAtuned / #BMW
Finding time for our own projects around completing work for customers is always a struggle, and this E30 is unfortunately the victim of it, hence our lack of updates of late. However, we are very pleased to announce that some work has finally happened!
Our last Our Cars piece centred around the removal of the rear suspension; something that was also done up front. The control arms and struts were taken off the car ready for complete renewal – the front crossmember will get the same treatment when it comes to getting the M62 under the bonnet, but for now our main aim is to get the chassis sorted and rolling under #BMW-M40 / #M40 power.
Once off, the front struts were stripped down ready for modification; the top mounts came off, the springs were thrown away and the shock inserts removed. The hubs and bearings were also removed along with the brake backing plates, taking everything down into component form.
From here, we could chop the shock tube down, and the base part for our CAtuned coilovers were carefully welded on. These parts were then painted, ready to be refitted to the car. However, before this could happen, we needed new front control arms. These came courtesy of Meyle, which is a German manufacturer of OE parts. We’ve used these for years due to their superior quality, which extends to the company’s brilliant ‘Heavy Duty’ range.
The HD range consists of direct bolt-in parts (like our control arms) that feature redesigned and uprated balljoints, meaning that they far outlast even genuine BMW parts in our experience. The control arms were fitted with VAC Motorsports offset Delrin control arm bushes for added castor.
With these bolted into the car, the struts could be assembled with the shocks and upper assembly, and were bolted into the car. CAtuned’s coilovers have such precision-made threading that it was easy to quickly get the ride height to roughly where we expect to need it, and camber was adjusted to the maximum for now. A job well done.
Now all that we are waiting for is a new steering linkage from Ergen Motorsport, which will mean that we can get the Z3 1.9 steering rack bolted in and functioning, leaving only the wheel bearings and brakes to complete the front end. It’s getting close!
THANKS AND CONTACT
001 215 462 4666
www.vacmotorsports.comStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationIRON PATRIOT
The seriously gorgeous Henna red, S50-swapped finale to CAtuned’s tri-colour E30 triumvirate. The CAtuned E30s are among the best in the world; here’s the final of the set, the #S50-swapped Henna red example, which completes the patriotic red, white and blue trio. Words: Ben Koflach / Photos: Courtney Cutchen
It’s amazing how some cars can just fall by the wayside. Sure, we can all fall on hard times and cars can be an easy thing to push to one side but sometimes this abandonment becomes sacrilege. Luckily, though, one man’s nuisance E30 is another man’s perfect base for a project. US tuning house, CAtuned, demonstrated this perfectly with this Henna-coloured car as it turned this classic 3 Series from a wreck into a car to be proud of.
When we say ‘wreck’, we mean it. This #1990 325i, which was originally #Calypso red, came into CAtuned’s ownership with a snapped timing belt, an interior that was as good as gone, damaged bodywork and smashed lights. To many, it was destined for the scrapheap. Fortunately, CAtuned front man, Igor Polishchuck, thought differently… “It was bought four years ago at a donation auction,” explained Igor. “I think I overpaid at the time, purchasing it for $1200 but I wanted to get something bad to show what we can do. It needed everything: the engine was toast, the interior was a goner, and the paint was unrecognisable.” After being rolled into the CAtuned workshop, though, it would never look the same again.
“I chose the Henna red colour because I always liked it and since BMW never made a late model E30 in that colour I figured, why not?” Igor explained. Of course, before it was packed off to the bodyshop, Igor and his team had a few of their own touches to add. The E30 was stripped to its core, and the body was restored, along with a few tweaks. The damaged parts were stripped or repaired and a central windscreen wiper mount was welded in.
While the E30, now no more than a rolling shell, was away at the bodyshop, CAtuned purchased a crashed 1995 E36 M3 in order to utilise its S50B30 heart in the E30. The 240hp US-spec lump was completely rebuilt with all new bearings, seals and gaskets, as well as an E34 sump to make it ready for the transplant. Reliable horsepower is hard to argue with, and this E30 was built with speed in mind.
Once the shell, now fully painted in the beautiful PPG Henna red hue you see here, was back at CAtuned, the rebuild began. The glass was refitted with all new seals and surrounds, and the team also had Euro bumpers and trims prepared for the car to get rid of the US-spec ‘diving board’ pedestrian safety items. CAtuned’s own splitter was bolted to the bottom of an iS front lip; no stone was left unturned. The original suspension was used to roll the car in and out of the bodyshop but beyond that its life was over. It was binned, with CAtuned coilovers fitted in its place. Igor worked for a number of years specifically designing and testing CAtuned’s suspension systems, and the guys have got it nailed. On this car you’ll find full coilovers all-round with separately adjustable ride height and pre-load, along with 32-stage adjustable monotube dampers. They’re perfect for on-road comfort and performance.
While they were at it every bush was replaced with polyurethane items, with a #Z3 rack and Eibach anti-roll bars to boot. Everything was bolted back under the car along with new wheel bearings fitted, leaving just the brakes to do. For these, Igor used new OE rear calipers with ceramic pads and grooved discs. All new brake lines were run from front to rear, with the aging rubber flexi-hoses replaced by CAtuned stainless steel braided items front and rear, as well as the clutch hose. Upgrading the braking at the front end – to match the planned horsepower – was done with a CAtuned Stage 2 big brake kit. It’s yet another product that Igor and his team have formulated over the years of building E30s and other classic BMWs; it comprises 285mm grooved discs and beefy four-piston Wilwood calipers.
The final addition to the chassis setup was, of course, the wheels. Igor had nothing but the best in mind, sourcing a set of BBS’s timeless RSs for the E30. These were finished with white centres and polished dishes, measuring 8.5x16” ET6 up front and 9.5x16” ET6 at the rear, fitted with nicely stretched BF Goodrich rubber – perfect for tucking up into those arches. As a finishing touch, Igor used Motorsport Hardware wheel studs to mount the wheels – what better way to promote your trade partners, after all?
With the chassis work done and the exterior well on the way, the CAtuned crew began work on getting that freshly rebuilt S50 mounted up. It was treated to a Fidanza lightweight flywheel and a new OE clutch before being reunited with its partnering #ZF five-speed gearbox and bolted into the little E30 using polyurethane swap mounts. The final step, ensuring that the S50 power could get down to the ground effectively, was a 3.25 final drive LSD, modified to have an aggressive 60% lock.
Of course, getting the engine bolted in was only half the story – there was a little more work to do before it would run. The front half of the exhaust system was left factory, with the rear half swapped for a custom stainless steel system with a Magnaflow muffler to keep things civilised. Next up: cooling. As a distributor for Mishimoto’s range of alloy cooling products, it was only natural that a Mishimoto radiator ended up in the car, plumbed-in with Rogue Engineering silicone hoses.
The occupants can be kept cool, too, which is vital in the California heat; the CAtuned guys retained the S50’s air conditioning pump and made custom lines to get it plumbed-in and fully functional. A Walbro 225lph fuel pump feeds the S50 with juice through all-new fuel lines, while the CAtuned guys got everything neatly wired in. Until recently the S50 was supercharged, using a VF Engineering system to deliver a hefty 350hp hit.
However, this has been removed for the time being and even a normally aspirated S50 in a lightweight E30 is still pretty potent. There was talk of going turbo with the car but for now a Castro intake does a fine job of getting fresh air into the lump. Igor estimates that it’s making about 250hp. With the running gear sorted, CAtuned just needed to finish the interior in order to complete the project. Fortunately CAtuned is an expert in doing interiors. A full black leather rear half was sourced, with Monaco reclining front buckets and red BMW Motorsport seat belts. A suede-rimmed M Tech 2 steering wheel, custom Bavarian Restorations dash cluster and genuine BMW floormats finish it off nicely.
The sound system was given a boost, too. The entire interior has been treated to Fat Mat sound insulation, with a German Car Audio boot box housing an Infinity amp and sub, all custom wired in.
CAtuned’s third and final E30 demonstrates a different take on the classic 3 Series to the ‘Miss blue’ and Alpine white M Tech 1 cars that you’ll have seen previously in the magazine. An updated powerplant and a thorough chassis upgrade give it some serious performance yet it retains all the classic cool of the late model E30 that it started out life as. This E30 hasn’t just been rescued from the scrapheap – it’s been completely reborn as an entirely new creation.
Three-piece RSs have been finished with polished lips and white centres; Motorsport door handles add the finishing touch.
DATA FILE #1990 #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i / #BMW-325i-CAtuned-E30 / #BMW-E30-CAtuned / #BMW-E30
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30 / #S50 (fully rebuilt), #Castro-Motorsport intake, original #BMW exhaust manifold and catalytic converters, custom rear exhaust system with #Magnaflow muffler, #Walbro 255lph fuel pump, #Mishimoto alloy radiator with #Rogue-Engineering coolant hoses, #Spal electric fan, custom A/C lines, #Fidanza lightweight flywheel, polyurethane engine mounts, five-speed manual gearbox, #UUC short shifter and dual-shear selector rod, polyurethane transmission mounts, 3.25 final drive ratio LSD with 60% lock.
CHASSIS: 8.5x16” (front) and 9.5x16” (rear) #BBS-RS three-piece splits with 205/45 (front) and 225/45 (rear) #BF-Goodrich tyres, #Motorsport-Hardware wheel studs and nuts, Z3 steering rack, #CAtuned Motorsport steering coupling, CAtuned full coilover conversion, #Eibach antiroll bars, reinforced trailing arms, CAtuned front big brake kit (consisting of #Wilwood calipers and 285mm slotted discs), slotted rear discs, ceramic rear pads, all new brake lines and CAtuned braided hoses.
EXTERIOR: Fully restored and repainted in #PPG-Henna red (originally Calypso red), Euro bumper conversion, single wiper conversion, iS front lip and sideskirts, CAtuned splitter, glass sunroof, all new locks, yellowed Euro ‘smiley’ headlights.
INTERIOR: Suede headlining, M Tech 2 steering wheel, Husco armrest, E46 ZHP gear knob, #BMW-Motorsport red seatbelts, custom stereo panel, German Car Audio rear sub box and amp box with all independent wiring, Fat Mat sound insulation throughout, #Bavarian-Restorations dash cluster, fully functional air conditioning.
Interior has been treated to suede headlining, an M Tech 2 steering wheel and a pair of Monaco reclining front bucket seats.
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- Post is under moderationReaching The Zenith
With 600hp from its supercharged S54 , this RHD converted #BMW-E30 M3 is at the top of its game. An S54-swapped, supercharged, 600hp E30 M3 is about as good as it gets… Words: Elizabeth de Latour / Photos: Steve Hall
You know this is going to be good. You’ve seen the front cover, you’ve read the taster, you’ve probably not been able to restrain yourself and may have already been drooling over the pictures, so you know that you’re about to read about something special. Certainly it’s going to upset some people because there’s a lot going on here, including the RHD conversion and the S54 swap carried out on a genuine E30 M3, so in the eyes of many purists that’s it ruined, basically. But we’re open-minded here at PBMW towers and if you’re reading this mag then we’d like to think that you’re cut from the same cloth and can appreciate cars that might offend those of a more delicate disposition. And this is a car that most definitely deserves some appreciation.
BMWs have always been a big part of Sam Le Fevre’s life. The 31-year-old construction company director first fell for the Bavarian marque when his oldest brother picked him up from school in an E30 325i. “For me, it’s the four decades of motorsport heritage and the connection between driver and machine that makes BMW so special. You just don’t get that with other affordable marques,” explains Sam. And the E30 M3 is arguably the ultimate definition and concentration of that BMW essence.
He began his BMW journey with an E46 M3 Convertible and while his car history is mixed, with a couple of fast Fords in there for good measure, his passion for BMWs, and particularly for the E30 M3, has clearly bubbled to the top. “I’ve always loved the E30 M3; it is a true homologation model with a chassis that draws you in and gives you confidence,” he says. And with the means available, a purchase seemed inevitable, though it was not without some drama, as he explains: “I found the car on PistonHeads advertised at a trader for £16,000. I arranged to see it and travelled down to Sussex. I looked the M3 over and told the trader the car had been in an accident and that he needed to revise his price. I said the car needed to go on a jig as I noticed the passenger wheel was sitting back 15mm towards the skirt. He refused and said that it was just an alignment issue. I left my details and told him to contact me if he didn’t have any luck. A month passed and I got a call asking me if I wanted to come down and view the car again. I said there would be no point if he was still asking for the same sort of money. I went and viewed the car for the second time and told them I wouldn’t be coming back if we couldn’t do a deal on this occasion. We haggled and eventually agreed a sale for £11,000.”
Even with the potential chassis problem that was something of a bargain, especially considering the selection of #Alpina additions the car was sporting and the small matter of the freshly rebuilt engine, totalling a cool £6000 in bills.
Now all that was needed was some inspiration and, luckily, Sam’s favourite BMW magazine happened to provide just what he was after: “I was reading #Drive-My when I came across Del Sanchez’s masterpiece: the E30 M3 with a S54 powerplant. To me this was perfection – BMW’s best chassis combined with its best six-cylinder engine! So I thought I would have some of that in my flavour. As soon as I picked the car up I drove it straight to the transplant centre, aka Munich Motors in Wokingham, to see the man himself, Clive Sanchez. He checked the car over, said it needed some jig or bulkhead work and he booked it in for two months later. I got impatient after a fortnight and phoned Sue, his wife, and said I was dropping the car down because I was doing my driveway (a poor excuse, I know). He started doing the teardown ready for the S54 transplant and that’s where we ran into problems as the shell needed major surgery!”
The engine came first, though, and while Sam knew he was fitting an S54, he wanted to add a little extra spice: “The plan was to build something with forced induction, either a turbo or supercharger. I spent a Saturday at Munich Motors with Clive looking around the engine bays of the two S54 transplanted E30s that they had down there. After careful consideration, measuring and thinking about the driveability of the car, I decided that the supercharger route was the only sensible option. The engine came from Quarry Motors and while there was a problem with the Vanos system the guys at Quarry sorted it out with little fuss and we then added an ESS VT2-550 supercharger.” On its own the 550 kit makes an impressive 550hp according to ESS along with 340lb ft of torque. But, of course, there’s a lot more to a build like this than simply slapping a supercharger onto a stock engine. Sam’s powerplant has been beefedup with a few supporting mods to assist with its longevity and add some additional power because, you know, 550hp isn’t nearly enough in an E30…
On the sensible and practical front, the engine has been fitted with an M50 sump for space reasons and the Vanos was rebuilt with Z4 M bolts. The big end bearings have been uprated and fitted with stronger ARP bolts, there are custom crank and supercharger pulleys, a Storm Developments Garrett chargecooler, a custom E36 M3 Docking Engineering radiator, Denso iridium spark plugs, Bosch coil packs, Bosch Motorsport grey injectors, a Bosch 044 fuel pump and a Fuel Labs fuel filter. The secondary air pump and rear lambda sensors have been deleted and the engine has been treated to an Alpha N conversion and a Setrab oil cooler.
“Once the engine had been put in the bay, that’s when we hit the serious problem,” Sam continues. “We realised that the chassis legs and bulkhead had been repaired very poorly. I was in utter despair thinking I was going to have to scrap the car but I decided that the car was not going to beat me. I couldn’t find a decent E30 M3 shell anywhere so I figured that, as #BMW had built every other M3 in RHD, I’d make my own RHD E30 M3. I managed to source a clean 316 shell that had covered only 50k miles and had blown a head gasket with a plan to re-shell the car completely and take all the quarter panels etc. off. But after dropping the shell off to Eddie at Crash Repairs in Edmonton he said just bring in the front end from the 316 shell and he would take care of it. To say that I was a little apprehensive was an understatement. I went up to Big Bavarian Beauties on a Saturday morning with my petrol disc cutter and set about cutting the front half of the car and roof skin off, and putting it in the back of my van, ready for the journey back down to London. I dropped the front end down to Eddie and he said that he’d need the car for four weeks and that the shell needed two new inner and outer seals and a few other parts. I got all the bits and dropped everything off with him on a Friday.
When I got a call on Monday asking me to come over I was expecting the worst, but I was amazed to see the car complete and sitting on jig pins. Eddie had basically drilled out all the spot welds from the A-pillars, bulkhead and floorpans and grafted the 316 front end straight on back in the factory spot welds in a weekend. I was gobsmacked. We picked the shell up and drove straight up to SPL for a full acid dip and e-coat session.”
With the chassis drama dealt with, Sam and the guys could get on with the task of getting everything running right, but that wasn’t an easy process either, as he explains: “Once Clive had the car running we started coming across numerous problems. The biggest one was that the car was down on power dramatically compared to what it should have been making. Clive suggested I visit Storm Developments in Aldermaston so I drove over there where owner Andy and I instantly clicked.”
Andy used his engineering superpowers to diagnose the problem and had Sam removing the front bumper to access the chargecooler, which Andy duly whipped off and bypassed before telling him to take the car for a spin up the road. “Well that’s exactly what happened,” laughs Sam. “I pulled out of the workshop, stabbed the throttle and the rear wheels lit up! The car had rocketed from 260hp to 325hp in an instant but it was still down on what we were expecting.”
So Andy’s next plan of action was to fit a Garrett chargecooler. This helped take power up to 410hp but now the exhaust wasn’t pulling its weight. “Andy suggested getting the exhaust modified,” says Sam, “so I contacted Hayward & Scott and dropped the car off with them along with a drawing Andy had produced so they knew what sort of system was required. It now sounds amazing.”
Exhaust sorted, Sam headed back up to Storm Developments where Andy changed the plugs and coils before strapping it onto the dyno. “We were very disappointed when it only made 450hp,” says Sam, “so Andy measured the boost and it was way down on the 7psi it should have been producing. He worked out the sizes for the pulleys we needed to get the boost we were aiming for and I went off to get them made up. I popped back to Storm a few weeks later.
Andy took the pulleys off me as soon as I got out the car and fitted them on the spot before he told me to put the car on the ramp.” This was the moment of truth and the numbers didn’t disappoint: the M3 putting down a seriously impressive 580hp and with a few tweaks to the map the final run produced 604hp. That’s more like it! So, Sam now had a RHD E30 M3 running one hell of an engine setup. But that alone does not make for a complete package. It was time to address the suspension, and Sam was very particular about his upgrades in this department. “I took a ride in some cars with H&R and KW coilovers and found them all to be uninspiring with both manufactures unable to do custom damper designs,” he explains. “I was recommended a company called AST by Demlotcrew who raved about the products so I contacted them and spoke to Curtis Woodman who told me to bring the car up for him to have a look at and see what we could come up with. After driving over to Cheltenham and discussing the options we nailed down a damper design for the rear, which is basically an inverted wasted shaft DTM replica with custom valve and spring rates.
The car has also had the front subframe reinforced, aluminium control arms, Eibach anti-roll bars, Treehouse Racing front control arm bushes, dual diff mount and BMW Motorsport bushes as well as countless other additions and tweaks.” The brakes also needed attention and for some serious stopping power Sam turned to AP Racing, fitting the car with a set of sixpot front calipers with 330mm discs and four-pot rear calipers with 315mm discs, which are more than enough to slow the E30’s lightweight frame down from silly speeds. The drivetrain has also been beefedup, with the S54 mated to a ZF five-speed gearbox from an E36 M3 3.0 that’s been fitted with a TTV lightened flywheel and Sachs Hybrid HD clutch. A CAtuned modified chromoly driveshaft (this E30 M3 has a bit of an appetite for driveshafts) and a Demlotcrew 3.15:1 Motorsport diff with a Z3 M modified diff cover were also fitted.
While the performance modifications are absolutely full-on and barely contained, the styling is the complete opposite and Sam has kept things very subtle, allowing the E30 M3’s iconic good looks to shine through with only the slightest smattering of visual tweaks. We’ve got to go for the wheels first.
They are genuine BBS LMs – one of the Holy Grails of the wheel world – and are pretty rare to boot. There’s quite a story behind Sam’s acquisition of them. “I’ve always loved BBS splits rims,” says Sam, “and couldn’t have the usual BBS RS type of wheel as they wouldn’t fit over the AP Racing BBK, so the hunt started for a set of staggered LMs. Well let me tell you, you have more chance of your numbers coming up than you do of finding a set. After being let down by a couple of sellers, I was contacted through one of the forums by a guy called Angel from Toledo in Spain. He had the wheels I wanted but wasn’t willing to post them; no problem, I said, I could come and collect them myself but that ended up being rather sooner than I anticipated as I received a call after work one Friday from Angel saying that I needed to collect them before the next weekend or he had another buyer lined up.
So my brother and I rushed home, picked up the family 335i and told my wife that I was going to Spain for the weekend, leaving her to cope alone with our four-month-old baby boy. We’d also been burgled just two days previously, so she was not impressed! We booked the tickets anyway, chucked a case of Red Bull in the car and set off on a mini endurance race from London to Toledo and back again!” Now that is dedication and shows just how far some people are willing to go for the right set of wheels, but the impromptu road trip was absolutely worth it as these wheels look insanely good on the car, especially after their recent refurb and darker centres.
For the outside, Sam looked to BMW’s other M3 offerings for inspiration, opting for an Evo 2 chin spoiler with carbon splitter and an Evo 3-style spoiler with a carbon gurney flap. A set of smoked Hella front lenses and indicators were added and Sam tinted the rear indicators for the finishing touch. Inside, the car already had a set of very rare Recaro LS seats in mint condition but covered in the very dated check pattern that Sam was not a fan of. Having seen an E30 Europameister and fallen for that interior, Sam took his interior over to Adam at B Trim. The seats have been trimmed in black Nappa leather with silver stitching, with B Trim also making a non-sunroof black headlining in BMW fabric and recovering all the pillar trims in black vinyl. You’ll also find an M Tech 2 steering wheel and an E36 M3 3.0 gear knob.
It’s taken Sam three years to get to this stage with the car and we wager that back when he was struggling to decide whether or not to even keep it he couldn’t have imagined it ending up like this. For a lot of people, their projects seem more like a sprint rather than a marathon, with owners desperate to meet show deadlines for the big reveal. This build, however, has definitely been the latter. And while it’s been far from plain sailing for Sam, the journey has been well worth every hardship as the end result delivers the sort of pleasure and enjoyment nothing else can. “The look on a Ferrari F430 owner’s face after being wasted by my scrap yard survivor was priceless! I was laughing like a child!” Sam says. For some, this car might go too far but for us, going that bit further is what it’s all about.
“I pulled out of the workshop, stabbed the throttle and the rear wheels lit up!”
“I’ve always loved the E30 M3; it is a true homologation model with a chassis that draws you in and gives you confidence”
DATA FILE 2015 #BMW-E30-S54B32 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3-E30
ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 , #M50 sump, Vanos rebuilt with Z4M bolts, uprated big end bearings with ARP bolts, custom #Vortech-V3Si supercharger kit, ESS inlet plenum, custom crank and supercharger pulleys, Storm Developments Garrett chargecooler, Docking Engineering custom E36 M3 radiator, Denso Iridium Racing IXU01 spark plugs, Bosch coil packs, Bosch Motorsport grey injectors, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, Fuel Labs fuel filter, secondary air pump deleted, rear lambda sensors deleted, #Alpha-N-ECU conversion, #Setrab oil cooler, Hayward and Scott stainless steel custom exhaust with 3” piping and crosspipe.
TRANSMISSION: E36 M3 3.0 #ZF Type C five-speed gearbox, #TTV lightened flywheel, #Sachs Hybrid HD clutch, modified Rogue Engineering short shifter, #CAtuned chromoly driveshafts, #Demlotcrew 3.15 Ratio Motorsport diff, Z3 M modified diff cover.
CHASSIS: Summer wheels: 8.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #BBS LM wheels with 235/40 (front) and 255/40 (rear) Michelin PS2 tyres. Winter wheels: 8.5x17” (front and rear) BBS CH wheels with 235/40 (front) and 255/40 (rear) Michelin PS2 tyres. AST 5100 and 5200 custom coilovers, Sparco front strut brace, Ultra Racing rear strut brace, Eibach anti-roll bars (front and rear), E46 Clubsport steering rack, #Siemens #VDO hydro-electric power steering pump, reinforced front subframe, rear beam modified with camber and toe correction, aluminium front control arms, Treehouse Racing front control arm bushes, E46 M3 guibo, #BMW-Motorsport Group N rear beam bushes, #AKG rear trailing arm bushes, AP Racing six-pot calipers with 330x28mm discs and PFC Z-rated pads (front), #AP-Racing four-pot calipers with 315x25mm discs and #Ferodo DS2500 pads (rear), Stainless steel brake lines.
EXTERIOR: Shell acid dipped and e-coated, full bare metal rebuild and RHD conversion consisting of RHD front end, new inner and outer sills, non-sunroof roof skin, rear light panel, front slam panel, Sport Evo front wings, BMP carbon/Kevlar bonnet & front bumper, Evo II brake ducts, Evo II front chin spoiler, Sport Evo carbon fibre front splitter, Sport Evo rear spoiler with carbon fibre adjustable gurney flap, full respray in Alpine white, smoked Hella headlights, smoked front indicators, smoked side repeaters, red tinted rear lights, US rear numberplate filler, pop-out rear window conversion.
INTERIOR: Full retrim in black Nappa leather with silver stitching on Recaro LS front seats, rear bench, centre console, handbrake and gearstick gaiter, #M-Tech II 370mm steering wheel, Z4 M sport button, black carpet and mats, map reading light, rear blind, custom dials, BMW premium rear shelf speaker shells, under seat front fire extinguisher.
AUDIO: #Alpine CD-177BT CD head unit, Focal poly glass 5.25” components front and rear, #JL-Audio 12W3V3-2 12” 500W RMS 2ohm subwoofer, #Alpine-PDXV9 4x100W plus mono 500W digital power amplifier.
THANKS: Munich Motors, Jay at NV Workshop, Storm Developments, Sol at E30 Parts, Big Bavarian Beauties, Crash Repairs Edmonton, Surface Processing Limited, Lee at Quarry Motors, Fab Recycling, Hans at ESS Tuning, Alan at Docking Engineering, Jody at Atec, Andy at Streamline Motors, Dips at Custom Cars, Adam at B-Trim, ESP Blasting & Powder Coating, Nigel at Moseley Motorsports, the parts department at Stephen James BMW Enfield, Park Lane BMW Battersea, Kirby at C3BMW, Vac Motorsports, David at BG Developments, Curtis at AST Suspension, Ian at Hayward & Scott, Igor at CAtuned, Nick at Alarms N Sounds Chingford, Paul at Glasstec, Xworks, Pete at PMW, Andrew at Demlotcrew, Andrew Johnson, Kos, my wife Aleyna and my son Leo.
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- Post is under moderationOLD SCHOOL, NEW RULES
CAtuned knows a thing or two about modding E30s as this stunning two-door example goes to show. An #BMW #E30 build is an exercise in measured restraint and quality workmanship. The devil really is in the detail… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.
Subtlety goes a long way these days, the less-is-more approach often saying way more than ostentation and wackiness ever could. Look at it this way: Batman and Superman have a clear and obvious sense of purpose – they’ve got the eye-catching costumes, the superhero actions, the uncompromising and forthright approach to getting the job done… but you wouldn’t exactly want to have them round for dinner, would you? There’d be a palpable sense of tension in the air, they’d have one eye on the door. Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, however… they’ve got a sense of mystery about them. It’s not what they’re saying or doing, it’s the obvious potential brimming beneath those sober suits. These are the people that you want to have a conversation with.
In many ways, then, this gleaming white #BMW-E30 is the Clark or Bruce of the 3 Series world. It doesn’t shout about its abilities, it’s not shoving itself into your line of sight. No, it’s casually hanging back, in the knowledge that it has the skills to pay the bills. It doesn’t need to seek out your attention, it knows you’ll be double-taking as you pass and going in for a closer look.
This approach has #CAtuned written all over it. Regular readers will recognise the name, as this is by no means the first of its builds to feature in these pages. CAtuned is the motorsport and custom wing of Auto Heaven, a full-service maintenance and repair outfit in Sacramento, California. AH was established in 1995, and branched out into this sort of specialist custom work in 2002, focusing principally on retro BMWs – #2002 s, #E28 s, E30s and #E34 s are their particular favourites, and that passion is keenly demonstrated in the car you see here. “This came to us as a no-rust California car,” says Igor Polishchuk, head honcho at CA. ‘It’s a #325es, and it was a non-runner with an auto ’box when we got it. It had been stationary for about eight years – solid, but in need of a bit of love!’ We’ve seen pictures of the resto and he’s definitely understating the work involved here – the federal-bumpered project base was largely complete, but that didn’t stop the team totally stripping it back to first principles and starting anew.
This is pretty much the ethos of a CAtuned build, you see – it’s not just a case of modifying and optimising, it’s effectively renewing everything that can be renewed in order to make the car the best that it can be; indeed, as close to a ‘new’ E30 as is possible given current parts availability.
And in the case of this car, they really went all-out. Look at the engine, for example – it’s not a mega-horsepower hot rod motor, but instead a refreshed and breathed-upon unit; the US-spec 2.5-litre #M20 has received new pistons, rings, rods, main bearings, gaskets, seals, sensors, plugs, cap, rotor, wires, belts, hoses, tanks, water pump and thermostat, so that the modifications could be applied to a good-as-new base. Then the guys added their own proprietary valve cover, intake manifold and stainless-steel exhaust system. “It’s got that note that you love to hear!” Igor enthuses.
Rather than tying all of this gently rasping, eagerly revving retro splendour down with a slushy old self-shifter, they junked the auto in favour of a fresh Getrag five-speeder, the old-school thrust running back to a rebuilt 3.73 diff complete with spiffy powdercoated casing. So now the thing had the shove to match the trademark CAtuned aesthetic – the next step was to make the look happen.
And they’ve done a pretty damn fine job, wouldn’t you say? The subtlety of the white hue adds to the stealthy ethos of the build, and it’s pleasantly old-school too, being the car’s original paint. And once it was all buffed to perfection, the federal bumpers being swapped out for Euro-size items, the shell was treated to all manner of shiny new goodies: all the window glass and rubbers, the roundels, a set of Bosch ‘smiley’ headlights, Euro front grilles (which have a full-length lip at the top rather than having a gap above the lights like US-spec grilles do), a Euro-size rear number plate recess filler and some Motorsport door handles all help to lend a sense of 1980s Bavarian freshness. “One of the hardest parts of the build was pulling together all of the pieces to make the car a complete Euro package,” Igor explains. “Finding all of those Euro-spec pieces and trim isn’t always easy. It was an ongoing part of the project though, as the build wasn’t rushed through – it took about 16 months from start to finish.”
Having crafted a cohesive and comprehensive European look, the guys threw an M Tech 1 kit into the mix, complete with the hard-to-find spoiler; it’s an oldschool kit that’s subtle rather than shouty – all, of course, in keeping with the theme. The attention to detail outside is mirrored in the interior too, which feels as near-asdammit like a brand-new E30. The original tired seats have been junked in favour of a super-fly set in Cardinal red, which acts as a shock of lipstick when you open the door of the sober and sensible white shell – it’s like peeping a glimpse of the ‘S’ logo between the buttons of Clark Kent’s shirt. “We were lucky to find an interior that had the rare ‘ski pass’ option,” says Igor, meaning that if they ever fancy popping up to the Donner Ski Ranch, they won’t be needing a roof-rack. The dials are pretty cool too – they were custom made by Bavarian Restoration, incorporating the Cardinal red with the CAtuned palm tree logo.
If you were to hoist the car up on to a ramp, you’d find some pretty serious stuff going on under there. Although it was already rust-free and solid, the guys have taken the precaution of giving it a thorough rust-proofing beneath with a thick, sticky coat of underseal and inhibitor. The corners have been treated to CAtuned’s own custom coilovers in order to get the car sitting in a modern and respectable manner; castor and camber adjustment are all part of the game, as well as endless height adjustability. It’s all about making the thing as usable as it is easy on the eye.
Also keeping up with modern developments is the brake setup – the rears sport cross-drilled discs with performance pads, while up front there’s a custom CA big brake ensemble with four-pot Wilwood calipers. Just the thing for ensuring contemporary stopping power, to complement that 21st-century handling; an E36 steering rack adds to the sense of driver engagement, while comprehensive body strengthening eliminates any unwanted flex. You’ve probably already spotted the wheels. While Fifteen52’s Tarmac design has been a runaway success for the brand, it’s not all that often that you find them on an E30. They look spot-on though, don’t they? The mixture of flat surfaces, angles and curves ties the look in precisely with the 3 Series’ own lines, and it gives the purposefully low #325 a cheeky hint of motorsport aggression.
Having expended such energies in effectively creating a new E30, the finished product is no museum piece. “It’s now used as a daily commuter,” Igor assures us. “The M Tech 1 cars aren’t a huge reaction or inyour- face type of car – especially being that it’s white, and that’s what makes it more enjoyable. You can drive it everywhere.” And that’s just the way it should be – a considered and thorough build, with quality parts, eager handling, just enough performance to entertain, comfortable appointments, and built to be used. A wonderful notch in the bedpost of CAtuned’s projects, then, and very much the Bruce Wayne of the bunch – it doesn’t need to scream its credentials out loud. If you know, you know.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.5-litre straight-six #M20B25 , rebuilt with all-new pistons, rings, rods, main bearings, gaskets, seals, sensors, plugs, cap, rotor, wires, belts, hoses, tanks, water pump and thermostat. CAtuned valve cover and intake manifold, #Walbro fuel pump, Mishimoto #E36 radiator with Spal electric fan, custom CAtuned exhaust system, #Getrag 260 five-speed transmission, rebuilt 3.73 diff with powdercoated cover.
CHASSIS: 8x17” (front & rear) Fifteen52 Tarmac wheels with Toyo tyres, custom CAtuned coilovers, castor and camber adjustment welded in with Polybushes, CAtuned / #Wilwood stage 2.0 brake kit, stainless brake lines, Motorsport Hardware studs, extra body reinforcements welded in, rebuilt E36 steering rack with upgraded poly steering link.
INTERIOR: All-new Cardinal red interior, Motorsport mats, rare ‘ski pass’ rear bench, custom Bavarian Restoration CA Tuned gauge cluster.
EXTERIOR: #M-Tech 1 kit with rare M Tech 1 spoiler, new glass, new roundels, Bosch ‘smiley’ Euro headlights, M3 foglights, Euro grilles, Euro rear number plate filler, Motorsport handles.
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- Post is under moderationFROM THE GROUND UP
CAtuned knows its way around a BMW and the company’s stunning Estoril E30 on air is one of the best examples about.
Few shops have the understanding to carry out a comprehensive bare shell rebuild, let alone the passion and drive to do it for themselves. CAtuned, though, built this example in just 12 days and it happens to be one of the best E30 show cars out there. Impressed? You should be. Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Watson Lu.
I think it’s fair to say that there aren’t that many shops out there that really know the E30 inside out, but one that certainly does is CAtuned; the guys there use their extensive knowledge of older BMWs to create some of the world’s finest 2002s and E30s. This is one of them; it’s a shop project owned by CAtuned’s CEO and founder, Igor Polishchuk. This is ‘Miss Blue’, and here’s the crazy story of its 12-day creation. CAtuned was created in 2002, though it exists as a division of Auto Heaven, which first opened its doors back in #1995 . The latter covers all makes and models, while CAtuned specialises purely in the restoration and modification of older #BMW models from the #2002 to the #E34 , with a large focus being on people’s favourite, the E30.
This particular E30, a #1987 #325is , started life in Igor’s hands as a completely bare shell. “The car was bought as a last minute item – it wasn’t planned at all. We were in San Diego picking up an S54 for a client in Texas, and the seller mentioned an E30 he had for sale,” smiled Igor. “We saw some pictures of the shell – a completely bare car. $450 later the car had been purchased, completely unseen. We paid another $600 to ship it to us and then the fun began. “Originally the goal was just to get the car painted, assembled to an OEM+ standard, and then sold to a good home. But that quickly changed,” Igor laughed. “We can’t leave anything alone!” These changes included a late model body conversion, allowing the car to run plastic bumpers instead of the original chrome, and a number of other tweaks.
“We prepared the body and delivered it to our painter with the instruction to prepare and paint it in the original Alpine white,” Igor told us. “The very next day I changed my mind and went over to the painter to tell him to paint it code 335, Estoril blue! He said we were crazy but got right to work. It took the painter about a month to get everything sorted and painted – so when we got it back we had just 12 days to finish the car, from a shell to a fully driving vehicle and at the Waterworks show.”
With the rush on, the CAtuned team couldn’t hang around. That said, the fit and finish on the E30 is second-to-none – no corner has been cut and no area has been left untouched. Several areas of the body were reinforced and the crossmembers, wishbones and trailing arms were all powdercoated black before being bolted up using polybushes throughout. An #E36 #M3 steering rack and Ireland Engineering antiroll bars can be found underneath, too. The rear brakes consist of new OE parts throughout with the addition of ceramic brake pads, while the front uses one of CAtuned’s Stage 3.0 kits, featuring four-pot Wilwood calipers and 305mm discs. The suspension chosen was CAtuned’s own coilovers, which are fast becoming the industry standard for older Bavarian vehicles, whether it be for track or road.
With all of this sorted, the powertrain could now be installed. For this Igor chose to keep things relatively original. An M20B25, as the car would have originally had, was chosen but it wasn’t fitted before it had been given the full CAtuned treatment. This included a top-to-bottom rebuild, refreshing every bearing, bolt, belt, pulley, seal and gasket on the way. The cylinder head was ported and polished in-house before being bolted down to the freshly-painted block, while the intake manifold was port-matched and powdercoated, along with a number of other components, by CAtuned’s operating partner, Renewed Finishes. The guys also had the exhaust manifolds ceramic coated, with the finishing touch being a CAtuned rocker cover, powdercoated blue to match the inlet manifold.
Ensuring that the motor would run at its absolute best, the entire ignition system was renewed and upgraded with blue silicone leads as well as Bavarian Restoration wiring upgrades, which were taken from the CAtuned storeroom. The intake is a custom CAtuned item, as is the exhaust system, which has neatly been powdercoated black. To help control the upgrades and give the #M20 a bit more shove, a Miller performance software chip has been applied. Keeping things cool in the Cali climate can be a challenge so Igor specified a Mishimoto E36 M3 aluminium radiator which was fitted with a Spal electric fan and plumbed in with Ireland Engineering silicone hoses.
This engine was bolted to a Getrag 260 five-speed manual gearbox – also fully rebuilt – with a Stage 1 clutch and flywheel combo in the middle. Brand-new clutch master and slave cylinders were also used along with a CAtuned braided clutch line. This sends the power to the rear wheels through a 3.73 LSD, which has been rebuilt with uprated Porsche clutches.
“The interior arrived on the fourth or fifth day from overseas,” explained Igor. “We had six or seven people working on the car around the clock. I even slept in the car a few times.” Luckily Igor’s choice of sleeping location was a full (and very rare) M Tech cloth interior, which was finished off with black carpet, black headlining, a rare Euro rear view mirror with map lights, and a Euro analogue clock. The heater blower motor was refreshed with new OE parts and all the wiring was tidied up, too. The CAtuned guys don’t hang about!
All that was left to do was to get the exterior finished. During the project Igor had been in touch with the guys at Fifteen52 who agreed to ship over a set of their Classic wheels in a forged two-piece format. Measuring 8x16” up front and some 9.5x16” at the rear, they were the perfect choice for the E30. #Fifteen52 also requested that the car be on its stand at the fast approaching Waterworks show, adding to the pressure that the team was under.
Euro bumpers and grilles were bolted up along with an iS front lip, while lighting was taken care of with Bosch Euro ‘smileys’ and LTW tail-lights. Neat finishing touches include a CAtuned splitter, Mtechnic embossed door handles and custom roundels – yet more items that Igor luckily keeps in stock.
“The wheels actually arrived on the day before the show. The tyres went straight on and the car went out for its first test-drive.” Igor grinned. “The following day we drove an hour-and-a-half to the show and it was an amazing reveal. Looking back it was a lot of fun. What made it possible was having 90% of the parts ready to go and our team of guys available to work on it.
“The reaction to the car was nothing short of amazing and that remains the case. We have since changed the car to its air setup and it’s made it even better. The car is mostly used at shows but I do love to drive it – it’s one of the best driving E30 cars we have built to date.”
Few shops know E30s quite like #CAtuned , and Miss Blue just proves that. To build an E30 to this level – let alone in essentially 12 days – is no mean feat. Igor has every right to be extremely proud of what has been achieved and yet for the CAtuned guys this kind of work is an everyday occurrence. If there’s something they don’t know about E30s then it isn’t worth knowing; few shops just ‘get it’ like they do. This isn’t the first or the last time you’ll be seeing the CAtuned name in the magazine – you can be sure of that.
CAtuned’s E30 is absolutely stunning both inside and out; interior has been treated to a rare set of cloth M Tech seats from the UK.
ENGINE: 2.5-litre straight-six M20B25, fully rebuilt, ported and polished cylinder head, CAtuned rocker cover, port-matched intake manifold, ceramic coated exhaust manifolds, custom exhaust system, custom CAtuned air intake, Miller performance software, Mishimoto E36 M3 radiator with Spal electric fan, Ireland Engineering coolant hoses, Bavarian Restorations power and ground wire upgrade kit, Stage 1 clutch and flywheel, fully rebuilt #Getrag 260 five-speed manual gearbox, new OE clutch master and slave cylinders, CAtuned braided clutch line, 3.73 final drive LSD rebuilt with Porsche clutches.
CHASSIS: 8x16” (front) and 9.5x16” (rear) Fifteen52 Forged two-piece Classic wheels shod in 205/40 (front) Nitto Neo Gen and 215/45 (rear) Yokohama S Drive tyres, custom Because Bags air suspension with Accuair E-level management, Ireland Engineering front and rear anti-roll bars, all-new wheel bearings, #E36-M3 steering rack, CAtuned solid steering coupling, CAtuned polybushes throughout, Condor solid offset front control arm bushes, CAtuned Stage 3 front big brake upgrade using 305mm discs and Wilwood four-piston calipers, all-new rear brake discs and calipers with ceramic brake pads, CAtuned stainless steel braided hoses.
EXTERIOR: Full respray in BMW Estoril blue (code 335), late model body conversion with all new parts, iS body parts including lip, CAtuned splitter, custom roundels and badges, Mtechnic door handles, Euro kidney grilles, smoked Euro ‘Smiley’ headlights, LTW tail-lights.
INTERIOR: M Technic cloth interior imported from UK, new black headliner, Euro analogue clock, Euro rear view mirror with map lights, new black carpet.
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