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    V8 E36 6.2-litre LS3-powered Saloon. Subtle on the outside, brutal on the inside, this super-clean M3 packs a 500whp V8 punch. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Jordan Unternaher

    STREET FIGHTER 6.2-litre #GM-LS3 / #V8-swapped / #BMW-E36 /

    It would seem that if you wish to insert a large, American V8 into a BMW then the E36 is the vehicle of choice. While BMW never put anything bigger than a straight-six into that capacious engine bay, Alpina squeezed eight cylinders under the bonnet for its B8 4.6 way back in #1994 , showing everyone that not only could it be done but that it was definitely a good idea.

    We must have featured more LS-swapped E36s than any other model of BMW that has undergone the heart transplant but we’re certainly not complaining. And how could you when you’re being stared down by an LS3 E36 M3 that’s as clean and downright sexy as Brian Cain’s example? The exterior exudes nothing but subtlety while the engine bay is clean enough to eat your dinner off. And the interior drives the point home that this E36 ain’t nothing to mess with…

    That Brian’s ended up with a hunk of American muscle in his E36’s engine bay is less of a surprise when you learn that his first car was a 1987 Pontiac Trans Am and that he currently owns no less than nine BMWs. This car is the perfect blend of home-grown V8 from his youth and the Bavarian marque that stole his heart ten years ago. “I was always fascinated by the engineering and the history of BMWs,” he tells us. “But I was never able to afford one while I was growing up. I love the history of automobiles and how they came to be. #BMW has always kept its roundel logo, the kidney grille design and the signature Hofmesiter kink on the rear quarter glass. Small details like that just speak to me.

    “My first BMW was actually this M3. As I was growing up, I remember the E36 M3 being released. It was such a great looking car. I had model cars of it and posters but I always thought it would be out of my reach. When I was finally able to afford one, I had to jump on it. I was searching for an E36 M3 Saloon. It had to be a Saloon. I wanted either Hell red or Dakar yellow and I found this red car in Las Vegas, about 2000 miles from where I live.” But when a car is good it’s worth travelling for, and this M3 was very good indeed. “It was a one-owner, low-mileage, flawless example,” Brian grins. “The next thing I knew, I’d booked a plane ticket and flew out to get the car. I drove it home over a three-day span, collecting a couple speeding tickets along the way!”

    Initially, the M3 served as Brian’s daily driver but, having grown up around hot rods, having owned a Trans Am, and having modified a selection of Hondas, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place – although Brian never anticipated taking things quite this far. “I knew I was going to do coilovers, the exhaust, the wheels and other basic things,” Brian says. “And I drove the car as a daily driver for almost six years. It was always kept in amazing condition but after putting nearly 100k miles on it I wanted to redo it. I have always been into hot rods and V8 cars, so I knew I wanted to do an LS swap. This was still when LS swaps were relatively uncommon on these cars. I started to doing research on what I would need and how I would set everything up. I had a general plan on paper before I even started. I went to a local wrecking yard where I sourced an LS3 engine from a wrecked Corvette. I took it home and immediately stripped it back to a bare block.”


    Clearly the best time to add stuff that’s going to make even more power is while the engine is out of the car and no corners were cut when it came to slathering it in go-faster bits, as Brian explains: “Items I added included: Katech rod bolts; a high volume oil pump; CNC-ported heads; a custom grind cam; Comp push rods and rockers; LS7 lifters and seven-layer head gaskets; a ported intake manifold; a FAST 92mm throttle body and fuel rails; and 60lb injectors with Aeromotive Stealth fuel pump handle fuelling. The Vorshlag engine mounts are the only swapped parts used.

    Everything else was custom fabricated in-house at the shop Brian owns, MWorks Garage. The 4” intake was custom-made in-house and American Racing headers are mated to our custom dual three-inch exhaust. The cooling system utilises a Zionsville radiator with heat shrink hose clamps for a clean look and I made the entire engine harness from scratch; I wanted it clean looking to complement the shaved engine bay but still serviceable so the engine runs on a completely separate fuse box and control from the rest of the car. Everything under the hood is powdercoated by Killer Koatings in Covington, Kentucky. The transmission is a T56 from a 2002 Camaro SS which has been completely rebuilt as well. Pretty much anything you could do to strengthen the transmission has been done, and gears are changed through a custom MGW shifter. Mike at Proxses Tuning in Dayton, Ohio tuned the car and currently it produces 496whp and 477lb ft.” Brian says this with the sort of casual understatement you would not expect from someone with a V8-powered E36 putting out somewhere in the region of 550hp.

    Of course, putting together an engine that powerful is one thing but building a car that can handle it is another matter altogether, and no stone has been left unturned, no component left unmodified when it came to ensuring the chassis was up to the task. “The suspension has been completely overhauled,” says Brian, “with a combination of both stock and aftermarket parts.

    The coilovers are all completely custom and have been built using Ground Control custom valved double adjustable dampers and custom spring rate Eibach springs. We made the adjustable control arms in-house while camber is controlled through Vorshlag camber plates up front.” While the transmission had been suitably beefed-up to handle all that power and torque, Brian still had to ensure that it would actually reach the rear wheels without obliterating any components along the way, so the drivetrain has undergone some heavy modifications. Power is sent along a custom-made three-inch aluminium propshaft with 1350 U-joints to a Ford Mustang Cobra 8.8 IRS diff using a Detroit TrueTrac LSD with 4.10 gears and onto the wheels via DriveShaft Shop axles. “I went with the Ford differential after going through two 188mm BMW diffs and completely twisting up a subframe after the second differential broke apart,” says Brian.

    “Needless to say, it took some creative design, planning, and geometry to get everything working correctly together but it should be good for the 1000hp range.” This should provide ample future-proofing for whatever further mods Brian might have up his sleeve.

    With masses of power on tap, the importance of stopping cannot be overlooked and while this E36 hasn’t been fitted with a BBK, the brakes have been suitably uprated and are now more than up to the job. Brembo discs have been fitted along with Performance Friction pads and Bimmer World braided hoses. The ABS has been deleted and Brian has added a Tilton proportioning valve to adjust the brake bias.

    As far as the styling is concerned, Brian has opted to keep things subtle but, while at first glance this E36 might appear almost completely standard on the outside, there’s more going on here than meets the eye; there are lots of subtle modifications that are easy to miss. Up front, the foglights have been shaved to give the bumper a much cleaner, unique look and an AC Schnitzer front lip has been added to make the car look even lower. Euro headlights have been fitted and smoked indicators, markers and rear lights have been added. At the rear the boot spoiler has also been shaved.

    However, the most involved exterior modification, which also happens to be Brian’s favourite mod on the entire car, was a direct result of his wheel choice. “I have always been a fan of CCW wheels,” he says. “And I wanted a wheel that had my exact specifications and finish: 9x17” fronts and 10.5x17” rears. Killer Koatings of Covington, Kentucky did the powdercoating and I did this when black wheels were almost taboo, everyone was still running polished wheels. Now you see almost every company offering this look of gloss lips with matt faces. When we were fitting the wheels, we didn’t want excessive camber, so we cut the rear quarter panels under the rear bumper and pulled them out by almost an inch on each side. The result is factory-looking car (most people would never notice the wider rear arches) whilst still being able to fit an aggressive wheel with less than one degree of camber.” Once you know what he’s done here you know, but from anything other than the right viewing angle those pumped-up rear arches disappear completely, blending into that blindingly brilliant red bodywork. Even gazing down the car’s flanks you still need to know what you’re looking for to actually notice the subtle swelling.

    While the exterior is a picture of subtlety, the interior definitely means business and there are some choice mods in here. The original grey interior was swapped for an all-black one and Brian retrimmed the headlining and pillar panels in black suede. A pair of red and black Recaro Wildcat seats were added, along with red Scroth Racing harnesses, and there’s also a Nardi steering wheel and Euro M3 gauge cluster. The finishing touches are custom gear and handbrake gaiters made by Brian’s girlfriend Kaitlin, who runs StitchBoots and does custom automotive interior work.

    In case you couldn’t tell, we are big, big fans of Brian’s E36. The engine swap is awesome but it’s all the other performance upgrades that take this car to the next level. It’s the level of dedication that has been applied to every aspect of the build that makes it so special. A lot of work has been poured into this build and you can see it everywhere you look, it’s the sort of build you aspire to. There’s more to come, too, as Brian explains: “The car was recently sponsored by Vortech Superchargers who sent me a V3 setup. I hope to have it on soon, set in the 22-26lbs of boost range. It should make for a pretty wild ride.” Considering how wild this E36 already is, we can’t wait to see it.

    DATA FILE BMW #BMW-LS3 / #V8 / #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-M3-LS3-E36 / #BMW-M3-LS3 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 /

    ENGINE 6.2-litre V8 / #GM-LS3 / #Corvette-engine , #Katech rod bolts, Telling high volume oil pump, LS1 oil pan, LS1 accessory drive, SLP crank damper, CNC-ported heads, custom grind #Comp-Cams camshaft, Comp Cams pushrods, rockers and timing chain, #LS7 lifters, LS7 seven-layer head gaskets, #ARP head bolts, ported LS3 intake manifold, FAST 92mm throttle body, #FAST fuel rails, #DeatschWorks 60lb injectors, #Aeromotive-Stealth 340gph fuel pump, AN-6 fuel lines, Vorschlag engine mounts, MWorks Garage wiring harness, MWorks Garage throttle bracket, MWorks Garage full V-Band exhaust, American Racing Headers exhaust manifolds, Zionsvile radiator, #MWorks-Garage expansion tank, MWorks Garage four-inch intake

    TRANSMISSION 2002 #GM-Camaro-SS-T56 six-speed manual gearbox, #MGW shifter, steel shift forks, bronze shift pads, hardened steel bearing spacers and sleeves, #McLeod-RXT twin-disc clutch, Cincinnati Driveline propshaft, Ford 8.8 rear differential, Detroit TrueTrac LSD, 4.10 Ford Racing ring and pinion gear set

    CHASSIS 9x17” ET20 (front) and 10.5x17” ET20 (rear) #CCW-LM20 wheels with matt black centres and gloss black lips, 235/45 (front) and 255/40 (rear) Falken tyres, #Ground-Control double adjustable coilovers, #Eibach custom rate springs, Vorshlag camber plates, Ground Control rear upper shock mounts, MWorks Garage rear lower control arms, Treehouse Racing front LCA bushings, MWorks Garage LSx power steering setup, Tin Soldier Race Cars modified subframe, Performance Friction brake pads, #Brembo discs, Bimmer World braided brake hoses, ABS delete, Tilton proportioning valve, MWorks Garage ABS delete hardlines

    EXTERIOR Rear quarter panels widened one-inch, shaved front foglights, Shadowline grilles, Euro face-lift headlights, smoked corner lights, smoked side markers, smoked taillights, shaved rear spoiler, AC Schnitzer front lip, CQuartz Finest paint coating

    INTERIOR #Recaro-Wildcat seats, MWorks Garage seat brackets, #Nardi steering wheel, Euro M3 gauge cluster, Schroth Racing harnesses, #Bavarian-Sound-Werks speakers, suede headliner, A-, B-, C-pillars and rear deck, black interior conversion, #StitchBoots gear and handbrake gaiters

    THANKS I want to thank my parents first and foremost – they always told me to follow my dreams and supported me 100% in my decisions. Unfortunately, my mother passed away three months before we did this photoshoot. My girlfriend Kaitlin, owner at StitchBoots Automotive Interiors. She is with me every day at the shop, wanting to participate in all our projects. Eddie Wright and Greg Huber at Fast Eddies Auto Salon. Paul Montgomery at Eastside Auto Spa. Mike Pirnia at Proxses Tuning. Kenny Meade and Mike Karwath at Killer Coatings. Everyone at 1310 Motorsports
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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 .
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    NOW AND THEN, A BAD-ASS MUSCLE CAR ROLLS INTO TOWN AND TRUE TO TRADITION, WE’RE THE FIRST TO GIVE YOU THE SCOOP!

    Gavin Wilkins gave us a call explaining to us that he has a very important car laying in his workshop. In true Gavin Wilkins' tradition, he gave us a few basic clues, like the car was supposedly an American muscle car with a hefty 8-cylinder motor, and was supposedly modified there too. But a few weeks before, we came to hear of a rather unique #1971 #Plymouth #Cuda , a 2-door coupe which had arrived on our shores, and I began wondering if this was the said Unicorn. Now, dear readers: photos and print media do not tell the true mastery of this Cuda. It has to be seen in person to understand this car's enormity. A few years back, a chassis building company in the USA named Morrison were commissioned to oversee the project of restoring an old Plymouth. Over and above the channelling process where the Cuda's body was lowered to hang 4" over the frame, subtle mods such as shaved drip rails, a custom front valance and air dam, and those erotic side fender grilles were all crafted by the team at Morrison.

    But in all honesty, I think it’s the way the meticulous matte paintwork contrasts against the bits of orange which adorn the rear fenders. Or maybe it's the way the fenders hug those devilishly custom-made Intro Wheels which are 20 and 18" large? Or could it be the way the Strange coilovers are joined in holy matrimony with the Watts link rear suspension and the Corvette C5 front suspension which together, have created the perfect stance for the perfect American muscle car? I just don’t know. But what I do know is that this blurry indecision makes me yearn for a cup of tea.

    Swing open the driver's door, and nothing much grabs your attention except for those white dials, the Momo steering wheel and those RCi 5-point race harnesses. But weirdly though, once you sit in those superbly covered sport seats, and run your hand over the suede roof lining and notice the Morrison-built rollcage, you begin to understand that everything inside the cockpit is there for a reason. Besides the welcoming addition of electric windows, those elegant billet pieces on the steering column, and the TCi Outlaw shifter - which screams to be grabbed - is all part and parcel of the Cuda's theatre.

    The front of the car is where the party happens: Over and above the grille and headlights which came off a 2009 Challenger, the hand built shaker hood (a fancier name for the air intake which moves with the engine f movement)is what lures you to the bonnet in a trancelike state.

    Unclick the bonnet latches to pop the Cuda's hood and the motor resembles something out of Hollywood. Coated in what looks like sugary candied orange, the Hemi motor is a work of art, and when it awakens, things start a-shaking...

    I can honestly say that the engine is massive. Last time I saw something this huge, I flew in it to Europe. Barely squeezed into that painstakingly smoothed and shaven engine bay, lies an angry, 605 cubic inches Hemi monster, and let me tell you, it swallows fuel at an alarming rate.

    “Look, this thing guzzles hey." laughs Gavin. “You can let it idle, and in a few minutes, that fuel gauge needle will start going down. If you had to drive from Alberton to Eastgate, you’ll probably run out of fuel." The impetus for this whole project began in Indiana by a specialist cylinder head company named Indy Cylinder Heads. In addition to their line of big and small block #Mopar and AMC heads, Indy also build complete engines and are synonymous for the being the best at what they do.

    The motor powering this 'Cuda is a spare-no-expense, take-no-prisoners powerplant using a Maxx aluminum block, an Eagle 4750 steel crank, and humungous Diamond 4.500 forged pistons-115mm in diameter (let that sink in for a while)- down below.

    Topside is a pair of their Legend series heads with full CNC port and polish, bigger valves and thicker L19 ARP bolts and studs. Naturally, a COMP Cams solid roller thumps the lifters up and down and gives just the right signal to the big #King-Demon-1,050-cfm carb sitting atop the high-rise intake. In addition to the 511 hp on the wheels - which Gavin proudly states is the highest street car reading he's ever had at GWR - this bad boy rips the dyno in half with over 780Nm of torque, even more impressive on pump gas!

    “When the car arrived at my workshop, the engine needed some TLC - it was tired and the body had to be reprayed by Dinos. There were so many other niggles which we sorted out too - mainly after hours because there was no way I was going to work on an engine of this magnitude with other distractions happening around me. One mistake can be very costly."

    When the metal industry closes up shop for the weekend, and the roads in and around GWR have quietened down, Gavin takes the car around the block for a quick test and returns with a smile from ear to ear.

    “The car rides beautifully. It's built right and it shows as it drives perfectly and solidly without any drama. It's a real cruiser and attention grabber!" explains Gavin as he switches off the car.

    The car is to be returned to the owner in a matter of days, and as Gav wipes off a bit of dirt off the fender, he ends, "This particular owner loves his cars to be done right: he's a perfectionist who appreciates the finer forms of the automobile, and I'm grateful to have worked on this' Cuda. It's a one of a kind car, with a one of a kind attitude."


    THE ENGINE BAY LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING FROM A TRANSFORMERS MOVIE.

    QUKKSPECS #1971 #Plymouth-Cuda-2 Door-Coupe / #Plymouth-Cuda-2-Door-Coupe / #Plymouth-Cuda

    ENGINE: #605-Hemi / #Hemi - Maxx aluminium Hemi block - Eagle con-rods - #Eagle 4.750 crank - #Diamond 4500 pistons – #Federal-Mogul race bearings - #ARP L19 bolts and studs - Indy aluminium hemi cylinder heads - Indy roller rockers - #Comp-Cams solid roller camshafts - 3" exhaust - #Flowmaster mufflers - MSD 6AL custom fuel tank - Edelbrock fuel pump and fuel pressure regulator – #King-Demon 1050cfm carburetor.

    TRANSMISSION / DRIVETRAIN: 2-speed auto transmission - 9" Ford rear differential - TCi heavy case #Powerglide transmission - 3" Morrison propshaft - 35-spline #Morrison driveshafts.

    WHEELS / TYRES: Custom 20" x 12j Intro Wheels (rear) and matching 18" x 8j (front) Intro wheels in the front - #Pirelli tyres. Suspension: Full Corvette C5 front suspension - Watts Link rear suspension - Strange coilovers.

    BRAKES: 6-pot Wilwood calipers -14" #Wilwood brake discs. Exterior: Full respray by Dino’s Autobody - Morrison-built full chassis - 2009 Challenger grille and headlights - hand-built #Shaker hood - billet hood hinges - shaved drip rails - custom front valance and air dam.

    INTERIOR: Full leather and suede interior - RCi 5-point harnesses electric windows with power steering - Morrison-built rollcage - TCi shifter - custom white guages - billet aluminium column stalks.

    The custom intro wheels are spectacular. Wilwood provides the stopping power. The rear is rounded off with two Flowmaster mufflers. The modern #MOMO steering wheel pops against the classic interior. RCi 5-point harnesses clip you in.
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    VL CALAIS - HATE BAIT - IF YOU’RE A FORD LOVER, STEER WELL CLEAR OF THIS CALAIS

    The #Holden-Commodore-VL #Holden-Commodore #1986 #Holden-Commodore-VL-Calais #Holden

    We’ve seen many a provocative plate here at St Comms, but surely this has to take the cake. If you’re #Blue-Oval fan, this is your kryptonite. It’s got the balls to back up the big talk as well, currently putting out well over 500hp at the back bum with a measly 8psi running through that blown LS3.

    Fencer #Adam-Hodge (31) is clearly a Holden fan, and there are fewmodels as iconic as the humble VL. It’s hard to believe this 1986 #Holden-VL-Calais was made all those years ago. No doubt many of you have equally impressive memories of all kinds of mischief created in something just like this, but we can also assure you you’ve never seen a VL quite like Adam’s either.

    The biggest draw is that literal tower of an engine. It rises from between the strut towers like a supercharged Eye of Sauron, polished trumpets announcing its performance intent wherever it goes… and go it does.

    IT’S AN ATTENTION-SEEKING COLOUR FOR AN ATTENTION-SEEKING CAR

    How’s that for a tower of power? The blower’s running only 8psi, but it still makes for 520rwhp. Creamy and plush – Just the way we like it.

    You can look at a paintjob like this and know straight away it’s a 2SUS jobbie.

    The blocks been completely worked from top to bottom, including all the relevant testing and blueprinting for the internals to follow. The head’s received a port and polish and can now flow 1000hp. But the block and head are only half of the monstrosity. Making up the rest is a The Blower Shop supercharger and #BG-Engines inlet manifold for the kind of whine only something giving birth could come out with. Holed up, smoothed and cleaned of all wiring, there are few engine bays more beautiful.

    The other eye-clincher is the paintwork. You can look at a bold metallic colour like this and almost instantly know it’s the work of the team down at 2SUS Custom Resprays. The Sydney boys have built up a real rep for this kind of immaculate work, the custom teal here popping under our studio lights and the sun outside. It’s an attention seeking colour for an attention-seeking car – if those plates hadn’t already given it away.

    Inside it’s a classic VL interior with Walky seating front-side and a full retrim in cream leather by Sewtime Interiors. This is not the kind of living room you want your kids crawling over, even though Adam’s do love the car. There are the relevant Auto Meter gauges and a shifter that should give some clue as to the built auto that runs underneath making for butt-puckering launches courtesy of the 4000rpm Dominator.

    King Springs are matched to Koni shockers below. The popular VE HSV calipers by AP Racing are used all ’round and mated to dinner plate-sized rotors both front and back. It’s pretty funny to think the rotor diameter now isn’t far off the stock wheels’ total circumference, but that’s no concern thanks to the new rollers.

    The 20in ShowWheels V Rods are big, billet and proud. Just like the rest of the car, you can’t help but stop and stare, getting lost in that immense dish at the back. Minitubs by Elite Fabrication make it work, with Elite tackling basically all fabrication throughout.

    VLs built to this standard don’t land on our desk every day, nor ones with such a tongue-in-cheek approach to stirring the Ford-vs-Holden pot. As for what the Blue Oval boys think, Adam doesn’t know. For some reason they’re always stick in his rear-view.

    Thanks: “My partner Ashlee and kids Brayden and Braxten, the 2SUS boys Bas and Fuf for the paint on the car, Mick from Sewtime for the trim, Nath at Elite Fabrication for all the fab and everything else on the car, and all the boys, Roser, Tony, Adam S, Dwayne, Stooge (Hubibi) for all their efforts on the car.”

    NITTY-GRITTY
    ENGINE: 376 LS3 eight-cylinder

    PERFORMANCE: 520rwhp

    ENGINE HARDWARE: Block machined, balanced, chemically cleaned, blueprinted and bored with crack-testing, #Comp-Cams retainers and springs, ported and polished head, Kings mains and rod bearings, Callies rods, Howard custom grind camshaft (hydraulic), Comp Cams lifters, Trend pushrods, Rollmaster timing chain, #ARP stud kit, Mellings oil pump, PWR custom radiator, custom oil pan, #MSD leads, LS1 harness and computer, #BG-Engines billet inlet manifold, TBS blower (8psi), 70lb injectors, 1 7/8in into 2in headers, 3.5in custom twin layout exhaust system with Hooker muffl ers, battery relocated.

    DRIVETRAIN: Turbo 400 gearbox, Dominator stall convertor (4000rpm), 9in shortened and braced diff (full spool, 4:11)

    BRAKES/SUSPENSION: King springs and Koni shocks, 365mm rotors front with VE HSV AP Racing calipers, 330mm rotors rear with VE HSV AP Racing calipers, Bendix brake pads, custom billet brake brackets to suit car.

    WHEELS/TYRES: 20x8.5in front and 20x10in rear Show Wheels V Rod wheels, 225/30 front and 285/35 rear tyres.

    BODYWORK: Custom teal respray, minitubs.

    INTERIOR: Full custom re-trim in leather including seats, dash, console and door trims, #Momo steering wheel, VL Walkinshaw seats front, modified standard rear seat, custom headlining, #Auto-Meter gauges, #Kenwood DVD player.


    The focus of the car scene seems to go in cycles. For a few years the priority will be on the quality of the finished product with car owners and workshops doing their best to build something properly, rather than just build it to finish it. Before long though, the pendulum inevitably swings back to quantity, where having more of something is more important than how well the job has been done.

    This theory could once best be witnessed in the to-ing and fro-ing of the show car scene where the importance judges place on quantity when picking which of two points-identical cars should win out. Since the demise of shows like Autosalon where the focus was almost solely on the ‘how much’ of something a vehicle had, the show scene has improved and very nearly standardised in many of the biggest shows around the country. That’s a good thing and despite the subjective nature of the act of judging it’s probably as good and as fair as it’s ever going to get.

    There is a better example though. Horsepower. Ask yourself whether you’d rather the best quality possible engine build imaginable or the one that made the most power. There’s no correct answer but it’s an interesting thing to think about, especially when you ask enough people and find that it’s far from roughly split down the middle as you might imagine. Plenty of people want the most horsepower possible for the amount of coin outlaid while others want things done properly and will sacrifice outright grunt for that all important longevity and reliability, but from my listening and reading, we seem to be in the age of quality right now.

    For a given budget, let’s say $10,000 including parts and labour, what would you build and how hard would you lean on it when it came to tuning? You can buy stroker kits for #Holden-V8 s for well under $1000 if you look but would you be happy with the end result? Would you feel better about making 350hp instead of 400hp if you knew it would last five times as long? A lot of this comes down to personal preference but when you have magazines, manufacturers, You- Tube and Facebook constantly telling you how much power one engine is making over another you could be forgiven for letting the focus shift away from how good it is and onto how much it makes. We’re guilty of it every issue with the numbers in each car feature telling you what the cars make, either at the engine or the wheels.

    It’s our job to show you quality cars and give you some insight into how they came together from start to finish, not just tell you a number that may or may not have come from a happy dyno or even the owner’s imagination. With the overwhelming number of people telling us they’d rather their engine was built right than made the most power, it seems our focus might need to shift as well.
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