- Post is under moderationThis BMW-E30 may appear relatively unassuming, but to the trained eye there are clues that all is not as it seems. No-one, however, will be expecting the self-styled 360i’s firepower…
WILD CARD: BMW E30 WORDS DAN BEVIS / PHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS FROSIN 360 Kickflip 800BHP 5.8-litre E30!
/ #BMW-E30-V8 / #BMW-E30-GM-V8 / #BMW-360i-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-360i / #BMW-E30-800bhp / OK, #BMW didn’t make a 360i. But a chap called Ross did and it has two turbos, 800bhp and 5.8-litre engine!
One of the questions I hear most often is ‘How did you get that in there?’” grins Ross Bradley, standing proudly beside his gleaming Black Cherry E30, exhaust ticking and pinging after another urgent country lane blast. “And that’s exactly the point – you make things fit. They don’t just go in there on their own.” That very much sums up Ross’s outlook on life.
The joy of the project is as much in the build as the driving. ‘Built, not bought’ is a common phrase on the scene these days. Modifiers who’ve solely achieved their goals in the confines of a single garage with just a cup of tea and a crackly radio for company are rightly proud to wear their achievements on their sleeve. That’s not to sideline the opposing ‘bought, not built’ crowd, of course – we can’t all be experts, and there’s a whole flourishing industry set up to serve such purposes. But Ross’s history is very much hands-on, and that has informed this creation. He fancied doing stuff. Then he did it. It really is that simple.
“I’ve always been toying with cars ever since I was little, being brought up with my dad building Yanks and hot rods,” he says. “I remember helping my dad build his Ford Pop when I was about seven years old, always doing what I could. With every car I’ve owned I’ve always had to rebuild something, be it the engine or interior for whatever reason, to make it better or make it my own.” And this is the case with the E30. The reasons for calling it a ‘360i’ will become apparent in due course. Suffice to say it’s very far from being a bone-stock 1980s three-box.
“I always liked the E30,” Ross ponders. “I was going to get one for my first car when I started driving, but was talked out of it due to running and repair costs at the time. This was the late ’90s, so I went the Ford route and ended up having numerous Escort RS Turbos and so on.”
Fast-forward to 2006, however, and we see that starry-eyed yearning of youth starting to come full circle. “I was out working and I saw this car on someone’s drive,” he recalls. “It had been sat there for about four years – it was a 320i, the body was in pretty good shape, although it had moss growing up the side of it, flat tyres, the usual. I offered the owner some money for it and he took it right away… I bought it for £275.”
Game on, then. A childhood dream fulfilled and pretty cheaply too. All Ross had to do now was to make it his own. But he wasn’t going to rush into anything, he’d been waiting long enough to realise his E30 ambition so there was no need to charge in like a bull in the proverbial porcelain emporium. He used the car as a daily driver for a few years, doing bits and pieces here and there as he saw fit. New wheels, an M-Tech 2 kit, swapping the 2.0-litre motor for a 2.5. But then it all started to get a bit hairy. Suddenly that idea of doing it ‘cheaply’ wasn’t going to cut the mustard any more. It was time to commit, and commit hard.
“About four years in I took it off the road and gave it a major overhaul,” he says. “New paint, new interior, suspension, wheels, brakes, the works. And I built the engine into a 2.5 turbo.” Of course, as your eager magpie eye will have probably spotted, that’s not the spec that the car enjoys today. You will no doubt have glanced over to the engine bay shots and spied quite a lot of cylinders in there. So just what the hell happened next?!
“I used it like that for a few more years, until about four years ago when I again took it off the road and swapped out the motor for the Chevy V8,” says Ross, casually, as if that’s a perfectly normal thing to do. “It took me a further two years to build it from there; it was always going to be boosted right from the start - and then I had it on the road until, after a few problems last year with a couple of fires due to burst hoses, oil leaks, and turbos eating bearings, I’d had enough of the niggles. So last winter I took it off the road again and had another major overhaul!”
OK. While you catch your breath and try to take in the sheer majesty of the spec list, let’s distil it down to the base elements: Ross is running a small-block V8 bored out to 5.8-litres (near as dammit to six litres, hence why he calls the car ‘360i’) with a massively juicy fuelling system, a pair of turbos that originally called an Iveco truck home, the sort of brutal internals more commonly found on drag cars, and a peak power figure somewhere around the 800bhp mark. Given the 1,300kg-odd kerb weight, that gives the car a similar power-to-weight figure to a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport – around 590bhp/tonne. All this from a reliable 3 Series built by one man in his garage.
“During the most recent overhaul, I remade the exhaust manifolds and downpipes, and replaced the turbos with a set of Holset HX35s, and then got them ceramic coated,” says Ross. “I also sold my old red leather interior and put a new one together, with Recaro CS front seats and an E30 M3 rear bench, all custom-retrimmed by Lawrence at LG Trimming in north London.”
While this car is all-motor on the face of it, the interior is one of our favourite elements. With the astonishing attention to detail going on under the bonnet it’d be easy to turn this E30 into a stripped-out drag monster, jettisoning anything that’d add unsavoury weight.
So we love that Ross has brightened up his day-to-day commute with such a flawlessly executed and fashion-forward cabin. “With the interior sorted, me and my dad stripped the car down and repainted it in Black Cherry Candy, and after refitting with all new BMW window rubbers and so on it’s now what you see today… all the work apart from the interior was done by me, everything hand-made in my garage. So anything that I needed to make this work, I had to fabricate, as you couldn’t buy it off the shelf – the engine mounts, chopped-out rear end, remade gearbox mounts, you name it.”
What Ross has created here is arguably the ultimate stealth weapon. Those who aren’t in on the secret may find themselves drawn to the car simply because it’s so beautifully presented. But there’s little to suggest anything’s radically altered aside from the subtle clues of the flared arches and front-mount intercooler. Indeed, peering through the window and spying that interior may convince you that it’s a mere show-pony. “That’s very much not the case,” laughs Ross. “I drive it as much as I can.” And with Bugatti-shaming power, wouldn’t you? It’s safe to say this car gets a pretty hard time on a regular basis.
“I just love it,” he smiles, with the satisfaction of a job well done.
“Most of my friends think I’m mental. But you only live once!”
Ross is running a small-block V8 bored out to 5.8-litres.
The car has a similar power-to-weight figure as a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.
Recaro CS front seats and an E30 M3 rear bench, all custom-retrimmed.
You’ve put quite a lot of work into this, then?
“Yeah, the amount of time I’ve put into it… I couldn’t put into numbers, really. It’s years. Years and years of hard labour!”
Not really a budget build either, given the massive spec?
“Ha! No, I’ve always thrown what I’ve got at it. It’s taken everything I have.”
All plain sailing, though?
“No real dramas. Couple of fires, turbos letting go, oil leaks… That’s just customising, isn’t it? There were points when I thought ‘It’ll never get done, never see the road,’ but I got it there. You’ve just got to keep pushing, haven’t you?”
TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATIONS: BMW E30 #GM-V8
STYLING Resprayed in Black Cherry Candy; rear arches flared and rewelded; M-Tech 2 BMW Sport body kit; front valance modified for intercooler.
TUNING Early Chevrolet small-block #V8 rebored 0.030in to 5.8-litre; GM forged crank; #ARP main studs; #Eagle H-section forged conrods; #Clevite big end bearings; Probe oversized forged pistons; Melling high-volume oil pump; ported and polished alloy heads; Manley severe-duty stainless steel swirl-polished oversized valves (2.02in inlet, 1.6in exhaust); #Edelbrock valve springs with titanium retainers; Cloyes double roller timing gear and chain; Clevite cam bearings; Comp Cams 256/263-degree blower cam and lifters; Edelbrock magnum chrome moly pushrods; Comp Cams 1.5:1 alloy roller rockers; #Brodix rocker covers, ARP hardware (rocker arm studs, intake manifold bolts, sump bolts, timing cover bolts, engine mount bolts, exhaust header bolts, crank pulley bolts, bellhousing bolts); ARP oil pump driveshaft; custom engine mounts; hand-built custom turbo headers and downpipes; twin Holset HX35 turbos with 12cm² turbines; twin Tial 44mm wastegates; two-stage boost control; handbuilt custom twin 3in turbo-back exhaust with Simons silencer; custom intercooler; Tial 50mm dump valve; Edelbrock Pro-floinlet and matching fuel rails; Pro Comp 90mm throttle body; 770cc injectors; swirl pot with high-flow in-tank lift pump; twin Bosch 044 engine feed pumps; Torques pressure regulator; March serpentine pulley kit; Pro Cool alloy radiator; Megasquirt ECU; Ford Ka coil packs; fully lightened and balanced flywheel and rotating assembly; Toyota Supra Mk3 R154 gearbox with custom Chevy bellhousing adaptor – rebuilt and uprated with Marlin Crawler thrust washer; billet bearing retainer and selector forks; McLeod hydro clutch release bearing; ARP clutch bolts; Spec R Stage 4+ full-face paddle clutch; alloy fluid reservoir; Cube short shifter; custom propshaft; E28 M5 210mm LSD with 3.07 final drive and M3 Evo twinear rear mount; custom rear crossmember; custom driveshafts with UJs; custom gearbox crossmember.
CHASSIS 9x17in #ET25 (front) and 10x17in ET20 (rear) #Hartge polished three-piece wheels; 215/40 (f) and 235/40 (r) #Federal-RSR tyres; custom billet aluminium centre caps; modified front crossmember for engine clearance; reinforced rear beam; E36 M3 front anti-roll bar with custom mounts and rose-jointed droplinks; reinforced rear trailing arms; custom rear strut brace tied into custom rear diff mounting bar; #Gaz-GHA coilovers; #GAZ adjustable front top mounts; stainless steel steering linkage joints and custom linkage; steering rack moved 20mm forwards; alloy power steering reservoir and custom lines; in-car brake servo conversion using Renault Clio servo; VW Sharan brake master cylinder; AP Racing six-pot front callipers and 330mm discs; five-lug conversion using E36 and Z3 hubs; Porsche Brembo six-pot rear callipers; Apec Z3 rear discs.
INTERIOR Full custom retrim in Ruby Red nappa leather and black Alcantara; Recaro CS front seats with custom rails; E30 M3 rear bench in nappa leather with quilted design; doorcards in black Alcantara with quilted nappa leather inserts; dash, centre console, glovebox, handbrake, gear gaiter and roof lining in black Alcantara with matching stitching – by Lawrence at LG Trimming in Enfield, London.
THANKS Thanks to Shaun at V8 Developments for the wiring and mapping; Dad for helping me paint it; and Lawrence at LG Trimming for the retrim.
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- While you lot usually love to hate anything wearing a BMW badge that doesn’t have a BMW engine under the bonnet, in the case of Ross Bradley’s twin-tuWhile you lot usually love to hate anything wearing a BMW badge that doesn’t have a BMW engine under the bonnet, in the case of Ross Bradley’s twin-turbo Chevrolet V8-engined E30, you just loved it as it is your 2016 Performance BMW Car of the Year.
The engineering that’s gone into building this absolute beast of a machine, all of it done by Ross himself, is both mind-blowing and eye-watering in equal measure. The fully built, rebored Chevy small block V8 now sits at 5.82-litres and has been bolstered with a pair of Garrett T04E turbos resulting in a staggering 880hp. Fully polished 17” three-piece Hartges sit under widened rear arches, there’s a fully removable carbon bonnet, while the red Sport interior adds a bold splash of colour. You might not approve of that V8 swap, but this is such an impressive build that it’s impossible to hate. More ...
- Post is under moderationCRAZY JAGUARS /
It’s not often you see a #Jaguar with a supercharged #V8 sticking out of the bonnet. Well here’s two of them!
In the average wedding car, you’d be lounging in the back in the swells of loved-up marital bliss. But these big cats would definitely have you calling shotgun… Words: Dan Bevis. Photos: Ben Hosking.
“What is a wedding? Well, Webster’s Dictionary describes a wedding as: the process of removing weeds from one’s garden.” So said Homer Simpson in the iconic 1994 episode ‘Secrets of a Successful Marriage’. Inspiring stuff.
Weddings, it goes without saying, are hard. Months of preparation, agonising over seating plans and the family politics of who you can and can’t invite without causing awkward tension and a cessation of future Christmas cards, grappling with suppliers who double the cost of everything simply because you’ve prefixed each item with ‘wedding’ (seriously, ‘wedding napkins’ are just napkins that happen to be at a wedding)… it’s enough to age you ten years in one. The honeymoon comes as a blessed relief simply because it’s a chance not to spend every evening doing bloody wedmin.
For people like us, of course, there’s an extra level of stress and jeopardy: what do you go for in terms of wedding transportation? For the average couple it’s easy enough to just get on the blower to Rent-a-Roller and rock up in a Silver Shadow, job done – but if you spend every day with engine oil under your fingernails and squinting through arc-eye, you need something a bit more eye-catching.
Something with a story. And that’s where Fat Cat Classics come in – at least, for residents of New South Wales, Australia. This is your one-stop shop for a badass wedding convoy; they’ve got a fleet of three matching Jaguars jam-packed full of shock-and-awe mischief and rumbling horsepower. You see them here bunched together in the workshop of Sydney’s Forza Performance, but this is an aggressive trio that loves nothing more than a blast on the open road, vying for tarmac-troubling supremacy as they each deploy sodding great gobs of torque. Sure, they’ll get the blushing bride to the church on time, but they’ll frighten the life out of her on the way there. Which, naturally, should set a precedent for the rest of the marriage.
You’ll spot that there are three cars in the package, each resplendent in shimmering silver paint and lipstick red interiors. There’s a 1963 Mark X, a 1971 XJ12, and a more modern S-Type – we’ll swerve the latter for the sake of keeping this spotlight squarely focused on the Retro Cars heartland, and take you on a journey in the former pair, each one eager to ruck up your suit and do unseemly things to your cummerbund.
…but before we do, let’s take a little look at their respective personas. You see, these cars have names, and names always carry weight; the Mark X is named Elizabeth, and you may call the XJ12 Marilyn. As you’ve no doubt deduced, this refers to the classic celebrity rivalry of the late 1950s and early ’60s, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. While history ultimately seems to have handed Monroe the trophy, it was Taylor who was winning the race for column inches, and her bank balance was pretty healthy too – she was earning $1m a movie while Marilyn was taking home $100k. It’s the classic tale of the eager up-and- comer in the shadow of established royalty, with both parties actually being enormously jealous of one another’s assets. And so the rivalry rages in the Fat Cat garage.
Elizabeth is imposing enough to immediately position herself as top cat here. The perky billet 8/71 supercharger poking through the savaged bonnet acts as a psiren song, an irresistible lure toward the danger within.
“The engine swap was easily the hardest part of the build,” says Fat Cat’s Sean Carolan. “We had to re-engineer the whole front end.” Indeed, with the Jag’s original motor swapped out for a meaty small block Chevy V8 – 6.3-litres, no less – you can imagine just what sort of upheaval was required. The floorpans were reconfigured, transmission tunnel reworked, and firewall modified to make room for the vast new powertrain. An XJ12 independent rear end sits out back to help deploy the growling fury of it all, ensuring that the engineering project wasn’t just confined to the car’s leading edge, and there’s a feel of solidity and dependability throughout the chassis. And that’s just as well really, as the last thing you want is your wedding car breaking down. “We made the decision to keep the power at a moderate level, to ensure that there were no annoying breakdowns or overheating when getting the bridal party to the chapel,” Sean explains. “As such, Elizabeth currently makes 450rwhp on 6psi, although more power could easily be found if we changed our minds!”
The natural balance to be reached here is that, no matter how powerful or extreme a wedding car may be, it must always be luxuriously appointed. No bride wants her five-grand dress being creased by a set of aggressive Takata harnesses or snagged on an exposed door innard. So Elizabeth’s interior has been artfully trimmed in fi nest scarlet leather – a hide plucked from the Aston Martin menu, no less. The carpets and headlining wear a similarly bright shade, with the overall vista being one of classic, timeless elegance. Well, until you peer over the chauffeur’s shoulder and spot that gargantuan blower poking out of the front, that is.
What of Marilyn, then? Is she a shrinking violet, in the thrall of the ruler of the roost? No, not a bit of it. Let’s not forget that Marilyn Monroe was a bit of a firecracker, and seldom happy to stand in another’s shadow. The logic of the respective names does falter somewhat when we look at linear chronology (Taylor was some years younger than Monroe, whereas the Marilyn Jaguar is the younger car here), but their positions make sense. The Mark X is the bigger, brasher, more imposing car, but the XJ12 snaps at its heels like a snarling puppy. The 1971 Series 1 was in fact born of a ten-day whirlwind of workshop activity in the run-up to Sean’s own marriage to his partner-in- crime Leigh. “We built Marilyn on a very tight timeline,” he says. “It was created from a rolling shell in just ten days, it was very intense – we were still working on it at 2am on the day of the ceremony. I was one tired groom!” Hey, it’s all about priorities, isn’t it? And if your wedding car is your business, you can’t show up in a half-finished motor. Particularly when your other car is so flawless.
You can see that the aesthetic is neatly carried over to the ’71; both cars wear the same 20in Vertini wheels and the same shade of silver paint, along with that shockingly red interior treatment with its old-school wood accents. They also share an absolute disregard for any semblance of subtlety when it comes to poking shiny slabs of mechanical equipment through the bonnet, and the XJ12 is also no slouch. Sean’s looking at the thick end of 420hp at the rear wheels, which should ensure that the bride’s mother arrives at the church sideways, screaming in terror and choking on acrid tyresmoke. In deference to her big sister, Marilyn wears just the one carb instead of two and a smaller blower, but the numbers still aren’t to be sniffed at. It’s more about hierarchy than compromise.
“If I had my time over again, I think I would have put a bigger supercharger on Marilyn,” says Sean thoughtfully, scratching his chin as he considers the implications. “In fact, I think I would have built both with injected setups instead of the carbs…” You can see the way his mind’s working, can’t you? These cars aren’t just built as static showpieces; they’re workhorses of course, but evolving ones. Work also happens to be pleasure here, and you can’t stop a man like this from playing with his toys. There are always treasons, stratagems, and spoils afoot. You can be pretty sure that if and when you were to see these cars again, they’d be subtly different – or perhaps, as befits their nature, not so subtle…
The act of planning a wedding is never going to run smoothly, but if you’re aiming to get married in the vicinity of this fleet of raucous Jags, that can at least be one major box ticked off the list. And if you need help with the rest of the planning, just remember the wisdomous advice that Homer Simpson had to offer on the subject: “That’s it! You people have stood in my way long enough. I’m going to clown college!”
Oh wait, no, not that. Er… “Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They’re about to announce the lottery numbers.” There you go. The Simpsons always offer a solution.
SPECIFICATION #1971 / #Jaguar-XJ12-Series-1 (MARILYN) / #Jaguar-XJ12 / #Jaguar-XJ-Series-1 / #Jaguar-XJ / #Jaguar-XJ12-Series-1-Marilyn /
ENGINE: 400ci (6.6-litre) small block #Chevy-V8 #V8 , 4-bolt mains, 4in stroke Scat crank, Scat H-beam rods, Probe forged 8.9:1 pistons, Clevite bearings, ARP head and mains studs, ported alloy heads, Isky springs and retainers, Cam Tech custom solid cam, Trend pushrods, Yella Terra 1.5:1 rockers, Rollmaster doublerow timing chain, Melling oil pump, 750cfm Barry Grant carb, 4/71 #GM supercharger (6psi), MSD Pro Billet dizzy, MSD coil and leads, MSD 6AL, Holley fuel pump, custom 4-into-1 headers, twin 3in mild steel exhaust, X-pipe, 420rwhp
TRANSMISSION: T400 auto, 3000rpm stall, Jaguar XJ12 LSD, custom tailshaft
SUSPENSION: Pedders shocks and springs
BRAKES: Series 3 front brakes, stock rears
WHEELS & TYRES: 8.5x20in Vertini wheels
INTERIOR: Momo steering wheel, Recaro front seats, red leather trim, Hurst shifter, red carpets, red headlining, satnav, Pioneer stereo, Autometer gauges
EXTERIOR: Stock restored XJ12, bonnet cutout
SPECIFICATION #1963 / #Jaguar-Mark-X (ELIZABETH) / JAGUAR MARK X / #Jaguar-MkX / #Jaguar-Mk10 / #Jaguar-MkX-Elizabeth /
ENGINE: 383ci (6.3-litre) small block #Chevy-V8 / #GM-V8 / #GM , Scat 3.750” crank, 4-bolt mains, #Scat H-beam rods, Probe blower 8.8:1 pistons, moly rings, #Clevite bearings, #ARP head and mains studs, ported cast heads, #Cam-Tech hydraulic roller cam, Crower lifters, Trend pushrods, Yella Terra 1.5:1 rockers, Rollmaster double row timing chain, Melling oil pump, HE sump, #B&M oil cooler, Edelbrock water pump, XR6 thermo fan and radiator, 120A alternator, custom billet pulleys, 2x 750cfm #Demon carbs, TBS 8/71 supercharger (6psi), MSD Pro Billet dizzy, MSD coil and leads, MSD 6AL, Holley Black fuel pump, block hugger pipes, twin 3” exhaust, custom X-pipe, 450rwhp
TRANSMISSION: #GM-T400 auto, 3000rpm stall, #Jaguar XJ12 diff , LSD, custom 2-piece tailshaft
SUSPENSION: Pedders shocks and springs
BRAKES: Factory #Jaguar twin-piston calipers
WHEELS: 8.5x20in (front) and 10x20in (rear) Vertini wheels
INTERIOR: Custom Aston Martin red leather trim, Hurst shifter, Autometer gauges, red carpets, red headlining, Pioneer head unit, power amp and speakers
EXTERIOR: Stock restored Mark X, bonnet cutout
“Elizabeth currently makes 450rwhp on 6psi, although more power could easily be found if we ever decided to change our minds”
How many wedding cars do you know of where the engine sticks through the bonnet! Christ, it’s enough to make you want to get married!
At the time of its launch the XJ12 was claimed to be “the fastest full four-seater in the world”. With a #Chevy-V8 it’s now even faster! #Jaguar-S-Type isn’t really retro Cars fodder, but it completes the Jag trio nicely.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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ALL AMERICAN TAKE OVER
Fitting a massive Yank V8 lump into your BM is nothing new, but doing that and then strapping a pair of turbos on for good measure takes things to a whole other level….
Rebel yell Utterly insane twin-turbo V8 E30 with almost 900hp.
After tiring of turbo M20 reliability issues, Ross Bradley went back to his hot rod roots and rebuilt his E30 using American V8 power… with two turbos this time. Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Matt Woods.
Meet Ross Bradley, an E30 nut who likes to do things his own way, particularly if it involves a twin-turbo V8. The story begins back in March 2010 when he bought this black 325i and, like so many of us, he formulated a plan to make it his own. “It was sitting on a drive for about four years with moss growing up the sides. I used to see it when I was out at work,” explains 35-year-old Ross. “It was pretty solid body-wise, so I offered the guy some money and bought it for £275. I got it home, changed the plugs and put fresh fuel in and it fired up first time!”
Fast forward a year or so and his E30 was something we’d all be proud to call our own, featuring Borbet A wheels, a nice drop in ride height and a full M Tech 2 body kit, among other tricks. However, having grown up around American hot rods and other powerful machinery, it was only a matter of time before the engine bay got something of a shake-up.
“I’ve always had turbo cars. I just have a passion for them,” Ross tells us. “And the BMW needed more power so the only way to go was turbo!” Ross laughs. The car’s transformation started with him taking the original M20 and turbocharging it, earning him the bragging rights of having over 400hp under his right foot. Having been an engineer by trade in the past he made it all look easy, building up the M20 with forged pistons, a custom intake plenum and plenty more goodies. Ross was happy until an oil pressure issue left him with a knocking bottom end and feeling thoroughly disheartened. Fortunately Ross isn’t the kind of guy to remain demoralised for long and he used this temporary upset as a chance to refocus. “I’ve always been a fan of proper V8s – not the little BMW ones but full-blown Ford or Chevy motors,” he explains. “Now that I had the chance, I decided to get rid of the old turbo engine which kept going wrong, and I sold all the parts to fund a new engine.”
Ross’s plan for Yank horsepower made good sense. “I considered the newer GM LS engines but at the time they cost more than a complete S50, and you can just as easily build an old type V8 with EFI for half the price.” A decision was made and Ross was soon the owner of a small-block, 350ci (5.7-litre) block ready for building up. While Ross pressed on with using the bare block for test-fitting purposes, his shopping list started becoming a reality. A #GM forged crank, Eagle forged rods, a hightorque starter motor, alloy roller rockers and a new sump all arrived, with Ross’s plans continuously evolving for how the engine would fit in the car and how it would be built.
“The gearbox I chose was the manual gearbox from the Mk3 Toyota Supra: the R154. With a couple of little mods they can be bombproof, but not cheap at £600 for the box alone!” Ross says. He was still waiting on engine parts but could at least get the gearbox built up. This would allow him to finalise the engine location once and for all.
All new bearings went in, along with an uprated first gear thrust washer, before the front end was built up with a Chevy bellhousing, hydraulic clutch release bearing and all the necessary conversion parts. What soon became clear was that the E30’s transmission tunnel just wasn’t going to be big enough. Luckily it wasn’t beyond the call of a few hour’s work with a hammer. The next obstacle was the crossmember and anti-roll bar. A conversion to an E36 anti-roll bar (which sits ahead of the crossmember) had that issue solved easily enough thanks to some fabrication work, but Ross also had to notch the crossmember for clearance and ended up moving the steering rack forwards by 20mm to clear the starter motor.
This left Ross with the small block sitting happily in his engine bay, as low and as far back as was possible. “The shifter even ended up in the right place!” laughs Ross. “There was just a sensor that I had to add clearance for, so things were going well.” With his engine and gearbox mounts fabricated, Ross then threw on the aluminium heads that he’d ordered and checked the clearance of everything with his turbo manifolds fresh from the States. Sure enough, his engine mounts had to come back out for some further clearance work and he had to make plans for relocating his brake servo and master cylinder to under the dashboard. For Ross this was all in a day’s work.
With the engine position decided, Ross pulled the V8 block back out so that he could finally start transforming it into a functioning engine. The local machine shop was tasked with boring out the cylinders by .030”, taking displacement to beyond the 5.8-litre mark. Probe forged pistons were mated to the Eagle rods, with the crank going in with Clevite bearings and ARP hardware. His camshaft of choice was a Comp Cams 256/263-degree grind, made especially for turbo applications.
Such is the aftermarket support for these engines that Ross managed to get his aforementioned aluminium cylinder heads for just £200 and set about porting them himself by hand to make the most of a set of massive Manley valves (2.02” inlet and 1.60” exhaust, in fact). This V8 may only have 16 valves but it makes up for that with sheer size. The heads were finished with Edelbrock valve springs and titanium retainers, which are operated by Comp Cams billet rockers and Edelbrock Magnum pushrods. No stone has been left unturned with this Yank powerhouse.
A good old Holley carb was initially used to get the engine running alongside a Megasquirt ECU and Ford coil packs. Ingeniously Ross used a few of the old M20 sensors and brackets to feed the ECU with all the needed info, which allows the V8 to run normally aspirated for a few miles as a gentle run-in. A huge Pro Cool radiator, a custom intercooler and a day’s worth of custom fab work by Ross got the E30 roadworthy but he was far from done.
When the time came to switch to fuel injection Ross, as usual, didn’t do things by halves. With the rear boot floor in bits (more on that in a moment) he plumbed together a fuel system capable of supplying enough jungle juice for the monstrous powerplant now sitting up front. A high-flow lift pump feeds a two-litre swirl pot, with twin Bosch 044 pumps then feeding the engine through front-to-rear braided AN lines. All that fuel is supplied to 770cc injectors mounted in an Edelbrock intake manifold, fitted with a 90mm Procomp throttle body.
That swirl pot setup is mounted onto a flat rear floor. Ross’s car has no spare wheel well and for a very good reason. With the extra power and monstrous torque that he was going to be feeding through the rear end, some serious reinforcement was needed. The entire rear beam was dropped and stripped and Ross’s work began.
The first thing on the ingredients list was an E28 large case diff; though it bolts right up to the E30 rear beam, that’s about where the compatibility ends; not a problem for someone like Ross. The beam was sent away for blasting and once back, he could begin. “I started by going over the old welds to make them a little stronger and I went around the trailing arm brackets again as some of them aren’t fully welded,” he explains. “Then I started the reinforcing.”
These reinforcements included plating over the diff mounts and bridging together the various factory joins with extra material. Bars were then also added between the diff mount and beam itself before a thick plate was placed over the diff recess. In short, Ross’s work is so solid we reckon it would withstand even a nuclear strike.
Next up was getting that diff mounted up. The E30’s single-ear rear diff mounting is famed for a lack of strength and so after some experimenting Ross found that an E36 M3 Evo diff cover and mounting bracket would bolt up to the E28 diff (with the addition of a spacer he made), giving him two ears to mount with. However, the E30 doesn’t have the provisions to bolt such an arrangement up, hence Ross had cut the boot floor out of his. A new crossmember was made out of box section, bridging the chassis rails and including mounts for that large case diff and the anti-roll bar brackets.
“With the rear crossmember done I started the rear strut bracing,” Ross tells us. This included strengthening plates on the rear strut towers along with a welded-in strut brace. This was then joined to the diffmounting crossmember with a set of bars tying the whole lot together for maximum rigidity before everything could be sheeted over to form a new floor.
The trailing arms were also braced with bars and then the whole lot bolted back under the car, complete with the new diff and a revision of Ross’s UJ driveshafts. However, he still wasn’t done, using the opportunity to also convert the car to fivestud all-round. Rather than the usual way, this arrangement was completed using Compact or Z3 parts with a bit of a custom setup. This consisted of Z3 wheel bearings and hubs, which needed a little machining to fit. “I used 300mm Z4 discs on the Z3 hubs, and then used Porsche Boxster Brembo fourpot calipers,” smiles Ross.
Up front the E30 stub axles were sleeved to allow E36 wheel bearings and hubs to be used, enabling the use of an XYZ brake kit. It was originally meant for a Japanese application using a 5x114.7 PCD and Ross also had to make his own brackets, too. Nothing phases this E30 fanatic.
Of course, the most noticeable change Ross had to make was to fit new wheels. The old 4x100 Borbet As would no longer fit but Ross found something else that would work nicely. It doesn’t get much better than three-piece Hartges, made by OZ back in the day. He found them in Poland and had them shipped over. They had polished lips and gold centres, which looked great, but weren’t quite what Ross had in mind. Therefore the wheels were stripped right down for the centres and lips to be repolished, and a lack of centre caps saw Ross approaching UK firm and BMW specialist Hack Engineering to reproduce the original plastic caps in billet aluminium so that it could all be polished up with the same mirror shine. Mirror-polished hardware finished the wheels off, with grippy Federal RSR tyres put in charge of getting all that power down.
This meant that phase two of the build was complete, and Ross enjoyed using it for the latter half of last year’s show season, clocking up the miles attending every show possible. Having witnessed it personally, we can confirm that when Ross’s E30 pulls up at the showground, a serious number of heads turn thanks to the appearance of a tidy E30 with the soundtrack of a lumpy, all-American V8. It really is quite something.
The way Ross has gone about building his E30 is like no other. While absolutely nothing on the car itself can be considered off-the-shelf, he’s also shown incredible ingenuity when it comes to building a reliable powerplant thanks to the strength (and low prices) of the American aftermarket. In fact, though untested, it’s estimated that the junkyard-rescued small block is currently pushing around 880hp and 750lb ft at 1.3bar. Could American power in an E30 be the way to go? You wouldn’t want to argue otherwise after seeing this machine.
Boot houses fuel system with two-litre swirl pot and twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps.
If you’re a keen show-goer in the UK you’re likely to see Ross’s monster throughout the year. However, do be warned – by the time it’s show season the E30 will be looking quite different. Ross didn’t want to tell us exactly what he was up to but you can rest assured that the E30 will be even better, very soon.
DATA FILE #Twin-turbo #V8 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-V8 / #Bosch-044 / #Garrett-T04E / #Garrett /
ENGINE #Chevrolet-small-block-V8 , rebored 0.030” to 5.82-litre, #GM / #GM-V8 forged crank, #ARP main studs, #Eagle H-section forged con rods, #Clevite big end bearings, Probe oversized forged pistons, high volume oil pump, ported and polished alloy heads, #Manley-Severe-Duty stainless steel swirl-polished oversized valves (2.02” inlet, 1.6” exhaust), Edelbrock valve springs with titanium retainers, #Cloyes three-piece solid timing gears, Clevite cam bearings, Comp Cams 256/263-degree blower cam and lifters, #Edelbrock #Magnum chromoly pushrods, #Comp-Cams 1.5:1 alloy roller rockers, #Brodix rocker covers, ARP hardware (rocker arm studs, intake manifold bolts, sump bolts, timing cover bolts, engine mount bolts, exhaust header bolts, crank pulley bolts, bellhousing bolts), ARP oil pump driveshaft, custom engine mounts, customised turbo headers, twin Garrett T04E turbos, Tial wastegates, custom twin 3” turbo-back exhaust with Simons silencer, custom intercooler, Tial dump valve, #Edelbrock Pro-flo inlet and matching fuel rails, #Procomp 90mm throttle body, 770cc injectors, swirl pot with high flow lift pump, twin #Bosch 044 engine feed pumps, #Torques fuel pressure regulator, #March serpentine pulley kit, #Pro-Cool alloy radiator, #Megasquirt ECU, Ford coil packs, fully lightened and balanced flywheel
TRANSMISSION #Toyota-Supra-R154 gearbox rebuilt and uprated with #Marlin-Crawler thrust washer bearing retainer and selector forks, #McLeod clutch release bearing, #ARP clutch bolts, Spec R Stage 4+ paddle clutch, alloy fluid reservoir, #Cube shifter, custom propshaft, E28 210mm LSD with 3.07 final drive and M3 Evo twin-ear rear mount, custom driveshafts with #UJs , custom gearbox crossmember
CHASSIS 17x9” ET25 (front) and 17x10” ET20 (rear) Hartge fully polished three-piece wheels, 215/40 and 235/40 Federal RSR tyres, modified front crossmember for engine clearance, reinforced rear beam, E36 M3 front anti-roll bar with custom mounts and rosejointed droplinks, reinforced rear trailing arms, custom rear strut brace tied into custom rear diff mounting bar, #GAZ coilovers, GAZ adjustable front top mounts, stainless steel steering linkage joints and custom linkage, steering rack moved 20mm forwards, alloy power steering reservoir and custom lines, incar brake servo conversion using Renault Clio servo, VW Sharan brake master cylinder, #XYZ six-pot front calipers and 330mm discs, fivelug conversion using E36 and Z3 hubs, Porsche #Brembo six-pot rear calipers, #Apec-Z4 rear discs
EXTERIOR M Tech 2 body kit, carbon bonnet, E36 M3-style mirrors, widened rear arches, smoked rear lights, smoked front indicators, yellow foglights
INTERIOR Full red leather Sport interior, black carpets, custom gauge illumination (blue with red needles), A-pillar mounted auxiliary gauges (boost, #AFR , oil pressure), fuel system in boot
THANKS Dad for all of the paintwork, Shaun from V8 Development for all the mapping and wiring.
Red leather Sport interior looks fantastic and features custom gauge illumination and auxiliary gauges in the A-pillar.
I’ve always been a fan of proper V8s… full blown Ford or #Chevy-motors .Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.