- Post is under moderationJPS E30 M3
The story behind this fully restored motor racing icon. A Very Special Player One of Australia’s most famous BMW race cars, the JPS E30 M3, under the spotlight. Banged up, shipped across the Tasman Sea twice and, until two years ago, a bit worse for wear, this JPS stunner is now back to its former glory Words and photography: Chris Nicholls.
BMW race cars have been lucky enough to wear some of the iconic competition liveries over the years. Whether it’s the various Art Cars, the Jägermeister colours, the Warsteiner and Fina liveries or just the M stripes by themselves, Bavaria’s best racers have always looked the business. However, while we in the northern hemisphere have been spoilt for choice with these beauties, we have missed out on one truly iconic racing design that only ever competed on BMWs down under – the JPS livery.
Obviously most famous for its stint on Lotus F1 machines, the JPS colours have been applied to many other cars over the years, but F1 Lotuses aside, only the Australian JPS E21 320i Turbos, 635CSis and E30 M3s, which ran from 1981-’1987, used the livery officially in any four-wheeled racing capacity. And my, doesn’t it look good on this M3? The deep, jet black paint is perfectly offset by the gold pin striping that runs along the car’s flanks, accentuating those blistered arches, while the other sponsors’ logos and of course, the laurel wreath JPS crest itself all add to that golden lustre. Oh, and let’s not forget those sexy matching gold Australian Simmons centre-lock wheels, either.
This particular example is an ex-factory Team JPS BMW car from 1987 – the last year the Frank Gardner-run team that built the machine existed – and was relatively recently restored to nearimmaculate condition (hence the shine) by the current owner Peter Jones and the team at Ecurie Bowden, whose M1 and Schnitzer 635CSi we’ve featured in past months as well. We say nearimmaculate as Peter has deliberately kept some of the patina via a faded and chipped bonnet roundel and cracked right-rear light lens, as well as damage to the driver’s footwell; the result of a nasty shunt at the 1989 Bathurst 1000 when it was racing as part of the John Sax Racing Team from New Zealand. Other than that, though, the car is as straight and clean as you could possibly want, and walking around the car to shoot it, it was impossible not to be blown away by the paint’s lustre (even inside the car) and the sense of mechanical solidity. BMW master mechanic Jason Matthews and paint and panel man Phil Milburn, as well as all the other Ecurie Bowden crew members, should be rightly proud of their work.
Of course, such a high-level restoration doesn’t take place overnight, and from the time Peter purchased the car in 2014 until it was ‘finished’, a full 15 months had passed, and even now, he’s is still tweaking and fettling the car – particularly the rebuilt engine – as it doesn’t quite achieve what he wants on track yet. However, that’s all part of racing, irrespective of the car and its level of restoration, and even in its current state, the project has definitely been worth it. So what prompted Peter to buy this car in the first place? Well, it turns out this isn’t his first Group A M3, having owned a Benson & Hedges racer back in the mid-’90s that he purchased from Frank Gardner himself (Gardner was a long-time family friend), and it was his love for that machine, and the hole in his heart it left when he sold it, that prompted him to seek out a replacement.
“I’ve been involved in motorsport since the ‘80s. The highest level I ever did was the CAMS Gold Star [Australia’s top open-wheeler class]. I raced that in Formula 2, only as a bit of an also-ran, and I’ve also raced Formula Fords and Sports Sedans and Historic cars over the years. From about 1997 to 2012 I basically had a bit of a hiatus due to family and the demands of business and then got back into it in 2012, running around in a Formula Ford. I still enjoyed it and have always missed the E30 M3 that I owned and spoke to [Ecurie Bowden boss] Chris Bowden about it and kept him on the look-out for me.”
And look-out Chris did, but in the end, it actually turned out that another contact, BMW and JPS nut Stewart Garmey (whose E28 M5 we featured in October 2014), knew the right people and gave Peter a nudge in the direction of this car’s previous owner, David Towe.
“Stuart warned me that I’d either love it or hate it, but that it’s a great car,” says Peter. “When I looked at it, I realised it had suffered in its life, but you can’t replace history, and that’s what it has.” Indeed, it has a lot of history, and not just of the type that causes battle scars. Built in 1987, it was one of the first two Group A E30s Team JPS BMW brought over from Europe after phasing out its 635CSis (one of which you’ll also see in a future issue). Initially, both cars actually ran 325i suspension, such was the European demand for parts, but by midway through the season, each car got the legs it deserved. And despite being designed for flowing European circuits and down on power compared to some rivals, the E30’s innate talents, and those of drivers Jim Richards and Tony Longhurst, meant the team quickly got results. This ex-Longhurst car, for example, managed a best of third at round three of the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) even before it got proper M3 suspension, but for some reason it got sold before the end of the year and could prove its worth with proper footwork. If you want to see what the potential was, though, just look at Jim Richards taking his M3 to the ATCC title in the car’s first year.
When this particular machine was offloaded, it got sent to the aforementioned John Sax Racing Team, with Sax and fellow Kiwi Graham Lorimer behind the wheel until midway through the 1990 season. They took it to a best of eighth at the ’87 Castrol 500 at Sandown, as well as a 10th at the Wellington round of the inaugural World Touring Car Championship that year, but sadly, the car’s biggest headlines came when it speared off at Forest Elbow at the ’89 Bathurst 1000, stoving in much of the front-right side. The team did repair the damage (albeit not to a high standard, as we’ll see later) and it soldiered on until Kiwi Racing purchased it midway through the 1990 season. Having not had much luck with the car bar a second in class at the ’91 Nissan Mobil 500 at Pukekohe, Kiwi racing then sold the E30 to Auckland Ferrari specialist Allan Cattle in late ’93, who proved any issues may not have been with the beast itself by promptly winning his class, along with co-driver Brett Taylor, at the Wellington Nissan Mobil 500 and taking second in class at a shorter 300km race at Pukekohe.
Finally, this now well-travelled M3 went to another two Kiwi owners, Trevor Bills and Kevin Underwood, before heading back home to Australia and new owner James Searley in 1999. There it sat in James’ collection for four years until noted Sydney BMW nut David Towe got hold of it and immediately started racing the car again, first at the 2003 Winton Historic meeting, then at numerous classic and historic events around the country. Notably, David converted the car back to its JPS livery (because why wouldn’t you?) and even managed to take away the Murray Carter Cup at the 2009 Phillip Island Classic in it. Indeed, such was the love affair that he only gave it up to switch to a later-built 1987 JPS M3 in 2011.
However, not able to part with it entirely, David held onto the machine until 2014, when current owner Peter Jones came into the picture.
Now, as we hinted at, the car wasn’t perfect when Peter got it. The John Sax team had repaired the Bathurst damage, but removing the right-hand quarter panel showed the chassis rail underneath was still further back than the left, so stretching and rebuilding was needed. And while David had done his best at the time, there were also cracks in the rear arms and the front callipers (among other parts) were way past their use-by date. Knowing personally that Frank Gardner wouldn’t have accepted anything other than perfection were he still alive, Peter thus decided to go for a bare-metal resto to bring it back to its best. And thanks to the talents of the Ecurie Bowden crew, it’s now as gorgeous as you can imagine.
“It’s just magic when you walk around it and underneath it. The job’s been done very well,” says Peter. “All the chassis’s perfect now and when we put it on the scales, we measured where it should be, dropped it down and it just plumbed up beautifully on the corner weights.” And as you’d expect, even with the fettling still needed, it goes pretty well, too.
“It’s a very lovely car to drive – a very fast car… It’s a heavier car by 20kg [than the Evos], but the earlier cars, because they run the 17-inch wheels not the 18s, can drop the nose a little bit lower, so what they lose in some respects they pick up in others. And I think it sits well on the road. The 2.3 motor’s still a powerful little engine, and whilst a good 2.5 should beat a 2.3 every day, you’re not going to be that far behind.”
Once the car’s engine has been brought back to its full Group A peak, it should be even quicker, too. And yes, in case you were wondering, all this testing means that despite the superb condition it’s in now, this JPS beauty will see the race track as often as possible in the future, with Peter planning to enjoy it at every historic meet in Australia he can get to. Of course, he doesn’t relish the idea of getting it banged up again, but says that “once I get one stone chip on it, it won’t hurt so much”.
“Because it’s not the original paint on the car from day one, you’re not disturbing or risking something that hasn’t already been repainted or repaired, unlike the Sierra I’ve got [a Group A RS500] which is the original paint that Rudy Eggenberger used and it’s never had a mark on it. That’s a car you don’t want to put in harm’s way. Whereas, I don’t want to hurt this car either, but if in two years I have to give it a bit of a respray to make it pretty again, we’re not ruining history in doing that.”
In a world of collectors that never use their cars as intended, that’s refreshing to hear. Long may this black beauty continue to run.
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-Group-A-JPS / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #Group-A-JPS / #BMW-M3-E30 / #Group-A-JPS / #BMW-M3-Group-A-JPS / #BMW-M3-Group-A-JPS-E30 / #BMW-M3-JPS-E30 / #BMW-S14 / #S14 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW /
ENGINE: 2332cc DOHC S14 in-line four, cast iron block, 16-valve alloy head, 12:1 compression ratio, forged crankshaft and con rods, forged alloy pistons, #Bosch electronic fuel injection, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, 40-litre #ATL fuel cell with in-tank swirl-pot, 300hp @ 8400rpm, 199lb ft @ 7000rpm
GEARBOX: #Getrag five-speed manual gearbox, sintered metal clutch, LSD with 75 percent locking ratio
CHASSIS: Unitary steel with welded-in roll-cage, 52mm #JLS-Motorsport air jacks (front), 62mm AP Racing air jacks (rear)
SUSPENSION: McPherson struts with original Group A #Bilstein dampers (overhauled and re-valved by MCA Suspension), MCA custom main springs, #Eibach helper springs, anti-roll bars (front), semi-trailing arms with original Group A Bilstein dampers (overhauled and re-valved by MCA Suspension), MCA custom main springs, Eibach helper springs, anti-roll bars (rear)
BRAKES: AP Racing four-piston callipers with #AP-Racing 330x32mm two-piece slotted rotors and #Ferodo DS3000 pads (front), Lockheed four-piston callipers with AP Racing 300x20mm two-piece slotted rotors and #Ferodo-DS3000 pads (rear)
WHEELS AND TYRES: 8x17-inch (front) and 9x17-inch (rear) #Simmons three-piece centre-lock mesh wheels with 225/625-17 (front) and 240/620-17 (rear) Pirelli or Michelin slicks
INTERIOR: Custom-embroidered #Racetech-RT9009HR seat with orange Racetech HANS-compatible belts
Despite the superb condition it’s in now, this #JPS beauty will see the race track as often as possible in the future.
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- Post is under moderation912hp from four cylinders? Turbo S14-powered E30 will blow your mind.
912hp turbocharged #S14 E30
We’re not sure what’s scarier: building a 912hp turbocharged S14 E30 or driving it. Neither experience is for the fainthearted… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: RonV Photography.
Let’s talk about specific output. Whatever horsepower figure you may lay bragging rights to, generally speaking it doesn’t matter how you got there, all that matters is what you’ve actually got. We all love power and having lots of it is great. But, what impresses everybody is making a lot of power from a little engine. Big V8s with big turbos are awesome, we’re big fans, but to get a small engine to produce some big numbers takes an inordinately large amount of effort and it’s something that elicits the universal respectful head nod because you have to be pretty flipping hardcore to go down this route. Surely only some sort of madman would attempt to extract 900hp from a 2.3-litre, four-cylinder S14? Surely?
Well, in this case only a Maatman would attempt to do that. Tim Maatman, that is. Tim Maatman is hardcore. One glance at his purple monster of an E30 should tell you that. The car you see before you started out life as a shell, with no interior and no engine. It did have the Sport body kit already attached but that was it. Tim bought it off a friend and it was crying out for a greater purpose in life. That purpose was to serve as the host for a turbocharged engine, which itself had started out life in Tim’s E30 Touring and had been built up to 430hp. However this wasn’t enough to slake his thirst for power and so the past two years have been dedicated to the evolution of that original turbo engine concept into the beast of a powerplant you see before you here.
Okay, Tim probably had a life around all that engine building but the idea of him locked away like a mad scientist working on his doomsday machine is the one we’d like to stick to.
This mental image is given weight when Tim tells us that he’s done most of the work on the car himself. As you can imagine, a project like this requires a huge amount of work and most of that has been poured into the engine. It really is an incredible thing to look at, that engine, so industrial, mechanical and more than a little bit intimidating. It’s like the rest of the car has been built around it as some sort of containment system trying to rein in all that raw energy.
The road to turbocharged S14 glory begin with Tim swapping his Touring’s original M40 to a slightly more potent M42 and the addition of a turbo running a KMS MP25 management system and, later, H profile con rods and turbo pistons. So far, so good. At least it was for a few weeks until the head cracked. “I spoke to John at KMS and he offered me an alternative: to supplement the parts ordered and my M42 engine for an S14 engine they had ready for a turbo,” Tim relates. “It was such an attractive offer that I couldn’t say no! The S14 was just fitted with CP turbo pistons while the other parts of the S14 were OEM, even the head gasket and head bolts. I picked up that engine and connected the MP25 management and an exhaust system made with a Precision 6262 turbo and it made 430hp at 0.8bar of boost.”
Tim was happy, as any of us would have been, and ran the car in that configuration for a couple of years, taking it to his local drag strip numerous times with his personal best being an extremely impressive 11.7sec quarter-mile. But Tim had developed a taste for power and he wanted more…
“I came into contact with Pure Performance Factory in Sweden and started to collect all the turbo information on the company’s forum. I then began buying all the beautiful parts I needed for a major renovation because I wanted at least 700hp,” Tim explains with a grin.
The first incarnation of the new engine was ready in 2014 and Tim headed over to DP Engineering to see how much power he was making. “Over 680hp the V-belts were flying off and started breaking and we managed to hit 745hp before anything broke,” Tim continues. “I then fitted a larger turbo, a Precision 6466 dual ball bearing Gen 2, and we hit the dyno again; we started out on the old wastegate spring, which had held 0.8bar at 500hp but with the bigger turbo the boost creep caused this to shoot up to 1.3bar and on the first full run it made 700hp. This was not according to plan and less power than before so I changed the wastegate spring and this time we hit 850hp. Pieter at DP Engineering asked me how far I really wanted to go so I told him that 900hp is a nice number, so he started increasing the boost. At 1.9bar the engine made 880hp and at 2.0bar it hit 912hp and 685lb ft of torque so we stopped there; we then did numerous runs for fine tuning and the day ended with a big smile.” We’d be equally happy if we’d just come away with 912hp from a turbocharged S14. And, if you want to talk about specific output, that works out at 397hp/litre, which is eye-watering stuff. Absolutely awesome.
The final spec list for this S14 is nothing short of astonishing but you’d expect nothing less from an engine making this sort of power, especially one this small. The engine runs the stock S14 crankshaft, although it’s been polished and balanced, along with H-profile con rods, CP pistons and an oil pump modified as per DTM specs. Larger intake and exhaust valves have been fitted as well as PPF valve springs and a custom PPF cam, adjustable camshaft pulleys and an S50B32 chain tensioner.
We’ve mentioned the monster Precision turbo above and it sits on a custom manifold, sucking in air via a massive 130mm BMC cone filter and it runs a Precision 46mm wastegate, 50mm PPF blow-off valve and a custom 3.5-inch exhaust with a single Simons silencer while the exhaust itself exits under the offside sill.
A massive 600x300x100mm front-mount intercooler helps to keep the intake air temperature down and it all feeds into the engine via a custom aluminium intake. As you’d expect from a car like this, the boot is filled with the E85-based fuel system, with a 45-litre Jaz fuel cell, twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps, and a number of Nuke Performance components including a Y splitter, fuel filter, fuel rail with four massive 2200cc Bosch motorsport injectors, FPR and vacuum station.
Building your 900hp engine is one thing but keeping control of all that power is another matter altogether. And with so much effort having been expended under the bonnet you’d be shocked if Tim had scrimped elsewhere. Don’t worry, he didn’t…
Step one was to sort the transmission because there’s a hell of a lot of power and torque trying to get to the rear wheels and you need something strong enough to cope with all of that, especially when drag racing, as Tim planned to. The gearbox in this E30 is an E60 530d six-speeder mated to a lightweight PPF 6kg chromoly flywheel, a Sachs motorsport clutch rated to 811lb ft of torque, and a custom propshaft by DriveteQ. An E28 M535i 210mm diff has been fitted, modified by Hardeman Motorsport with 30º/45º ramp angles and 75% locking, along with custom driveshafts and uprated CV joints. On the suspension front, KW V2 coilovers have been fitted up front along with GAZ camber plates from Hardeman Motorsport. At the rear you’ll find AVO drag coilovers with compression and rebound adjustment and rear camber and toe adjustment for maximum grip, Ireland Engineering anti-roll bars all-round, Powerflex rear subframe bushes, and Tim’s also carried out a five-stud conversion allround. The benefits of this are two-fold: it means he can run those extremely sexy AC Schnitzer Type II Racing wheels; more importantly, it also means he can run his 334mm Tarox discs with Porsche Brembo four-pot calipers up front on custom brackets with Ferodo DS2500 pads. The rears haven’t been forgotten about, sporting E30 Touring calipers (as they have a slightly larger piston), Tarox discs and Ferodo DS2500 pads with Goodridge hoses fitted all-round. Now often when a car is built for outright performance, aesthetics take a bit of a backseat. However, when you’re starting with an E30 you’re starting with a car that can’t help but look good, especially when it’s wearing the Sport kit like Tim’s is. Painting it Daytona violet certainly hasn’t done any harm either. The front spoiler has been drilled for lightness, there’s a lightweight Einzel Motorsport bonnet, and a Hartge rear spoiler as well.
The interior is most definitely all business and we like the fact there’s nothing glamorous here: it’s all about making this E30 light, safe, and giving Tim somewhere to sit while he pilots it down the drag strip. There are no carpets or doorcards but neither are there are fancy metal chequer plate floor sections or lightweight door panels; there’s just bare metal and wires. The dash has been flocked and there’s a plethora of Stack gauges mounted where the central air vents would be to enable Tim to keep an eye on boost pressure, fuel pressure, oil pressure, the oil temp and EGT. There’s also an OMP steering wheel, a pair of single-piece Toora buckets with QSP fourpoint harnesses, plus a full, TIG-welded chromoly steel roll-cage.
With 912hp and weighing just 1130kg, thanks to Tim’s extensive weight reduction programme, this E30 has 807hp per ton, more than any road-going Koenigsegg, Porsche, Lamborghini or Ferrari. This means that when Tim gets the chance to take it down the strip it’s going to be absolutely insane. Until he gets there he’s been enjoying it on the street: “It’s nice on the highway, the acceleration is delicious!” Of course, if you think 912hp is enough, you’re wrong because Tim is already thinking of more power, as he tells us: “There is still more to come with this setup. Four digits would be nice, though there are other things that I would like to do first, like install a carbon diffuser, the cage needs a little work, and I may even also go for methanol injection. My goal was always to build a nine-second car and I will achieve that. The question is ‘when’? If the engine survives this season then maybe in winter 2016/2017 I’ll try for 1000hp and then this project will be closed.”
For a minute Tim looks deep in thought. “Given that I know I can build up an S54 to 1500hp I wonder if it would fit in the engine bay with a turbo on it?” he questions. We get the feeling he’d be up for finding out. For now, though, he’s got 900hp of turbocharged E30 to enjoy on the street, in sprint events and on the drag strip. And while building it may have been daunting, we wager that driving it is going to be an awful lot of fun.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW / Turbo / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-Turbo / #S14B23 / #S14-Turbo / #BMW-S14 / / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #Precision / #CP-Carrillo / #Bosch-XR4CS / #VAC-Motorsport / #AC-Schnitzer-Type-II-Racing / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E30 /
ENGINE 2.3-litre four-cylinder S14B23 from E30 M3, polished and balanced S14B23 crankshaft with 84mm stroke, #ARP-2000 main studs, ARP block girdle, H-profile con rods with ARP 2000 bolts, CP Carrillo 94.5mm pistons, 9.0:1 compression ratio, HD piston pins, #Athena cut-ring head gasket, M52B28 piston oil squirters, modified DTM-style oil pump, 39mm Supertech Teflon-coated intake valves, 33mm #Supertech Inconel exhaust valves, S50B32 valve buckets, uprated PPF valve springs, custom PPF 283/283 11mm/11mm camshaft, adjustable camshaft pulleys, BMW S50B32 chain tensioner, engine blueprinted, 7.0-litre sump with VAC Motorsport oil pan baffle, custom T321 steel turbo exhaust manifold, aluminium intake, #Precision-6466-DBB-Gen-2-V-Band .82 AR turbo, Precision 46mm wastegate, PPF 50mm blow-off valve, 130mm BMC Twin Cone filter, 600x300x100mm tube and fin intercooler, three-inch intercooler piping, Samco connectors, 3.5-inch exhaust with single Simons silencer and exhaust tip exiting from sill, #Mocal oil cooler, Griffin aluminium radiator, Goodridge hoses and connectors, Jaz 45-litre fuel cell, 2x Bosch 044 fuel pumps, Nuke Performance Y-splitter, fuel filter, fuel rail, FPR and Vacuum Station, 4x Bosch motorsport 2200cc fuel injectors, #Goodridge PTFE AN08 feed, Goodridge PTFE AN06 return, Flex Fuel sensor (not connected), E85 fuel used, VEMS ECU, 2x EGT, Lambda, fast air temperature sensor, turbo back pressure logged, custom cam sensor, MAC four port boost control valve, Bosch XR4CS spark plugs, VAG coils, Moroso spark plug wires
POWER AND TORQUE 912hp (2bar) @ 7500rpm. 685lb ft of torque (2bar) @ 6600rpm
TRANSMISSION E60 530d six-speed gearbox, PPF 6kg chromoly flywheel, Sachs 811lb ft motorsport clutch, DriveteQ custom propshaft, #Hardeman-Motorsport E28 M535i 201mm diff with 30º/45º ramp angles and 75% locking, custom driveshafts, uprated CV joints
CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front) and 9.5x17” (rear) AC Schnitzer Type II Racing wheels with 215/40 (front) Toyo or Zestino semi-slick tyres and 255/45 (rear) Dunlop SP9000 or Zestino semi-slick tyres or Hoosier D06 9.0/26/15.0” drag racing slicks, #KW-V2 coilovers with adjustable rebound (front), #GAZ camber plates, uniballs and M3 supporting arms, AVO drag coilovers with compression/rebound adjustment (rear), rear camber/toe adjustment Ireland Engineering anti-roll bars, #PowerFlex rear subframe polybushes, five-stud hub conversion, Porsche Brembo four-pot calipers with custom brackets and #Ferodo DS2500 pads and Tarox 335x32mm discs (front), E30 Touring calipers with Tarox discs and Ferodo DS2500 pads (rear), Goodridge brake hoses (f&r)
EXTERIOR Daytona violet, M Tech II body kit, #Hartge boot spoiler, lightened front bumper, Einzel Motorsport fibreglass bonnet
INTERIOR Full chromoly TIG-welded roll-cage, flocked dashboard, Stack boost pressure, fuel pressure, oil pressure, oil temperature, exhaust gas temperature gauges, OMP steering wheel, Toora bucket seats, Samsonas H-pattern shifter, QSP three-inch four-point harnesses, VEMS app on tablet/phone
THANKS Thanks to my friend Robin Kal for helping with building my engine, Pieter Oonincx from DP-Engineering for mapping the car, Gerben Vlogman and Robin Langeslag for all the custom machined parts, my wife Chantal for all her help with money and all the times I was away from home!
“It’s nice on the highway the acceleration is delicious!”
“At 2.0bar the engine hit 912hp and 685lb ft of torque so we stopped there”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHE GRIM SLEEPER
It started life as an unassuming #BMW-318i / #BMW-318i-E36 , but an #S54-swap totally transformed this E36. Parked up, Chris Lunn’s stripped E36 318i certainly wouldn’t turn heads. However turning the key unleashes 348bhp of unbridled E46 M3 power. Could this be the UK’s finest street sleeper? Words: Joel Newman. Photos: Dan Pullen.
To own a feature-worthy project car you’ve got to be clinically insane or just plain mental. Okay, okay maybe that’s a little harsh, but I think you’ll agree that to put all your time, money and soul into any inanimate object requires an ounce of lunacy far outweighing that of the average Joe. The star of this next feature has those characteristics in spades. His hunger for performance has led him through every nook and cranny of the E36 318i M40 modifying underworld. After succeeding in pushing the envelope as far as it could he got his hands on a brand new, much larger, much more shiny envelope, the S54 lump from the E46 M3.
The story begins in 1994, soon after Chris fell in love with and purchased the feel and thrill of the front engined rear-wheel drive 3 Series Saloon. It is, by his own admission, his first and only car and its evolution is of such fairytale proportions that, if we hadn’t seen and ridden in it ourself, we would scarcely believe.
Back then, with a mere 115bhp 1.8-litre four-cylinder lump, power was never on the generous side. Despite this, the trained electrician and musician gained as much track time as possible, kicked off with an open pit session at Castle Combe in 1995 as Chris explains: “To start off the car was awful. The handling was reasonable but on the straights anything and everything went past me.”
It was soon after this that Chris started reading car magazines, and in conjunction with the people he was meeting at the track events, he had at his disposal all the expertise he would require to create the car that he longed for.
After a chance meeting at a track day Chris started talking to Graham Lee owner of Lee’s BMW in Wembley. Together they fitted a performance exhaust and air filter, then had the car remapped at AmD Technik in Oxfordshire. Soon after the car was dyno’d where it produced only 3bhp over standard – something needed to be done.
With help from Torque Development International in Barking Chris set about fitting Shrick cams, porting the cylinder heads, installing enlarged throttle bodies and remapping the car once again. After the work, like a crazed father the car was marched back to AmD, this time it put down an additional 20bhp. Once again Chris peered disappointingly into his now empty wallet…
Feeling somewhat dejected, as strange as it seems he had grown fond of his beloved four-pot. Like a belligerent child he wanted to stick with it and after a chance meeting, this time with Bexley Motor Works, Chris carried on further down into the, dare we say it, money pit.
Bexley felt that to best improve the car, the rear drum brakes needed to go. The guys managed to find a rear axle from an E36 328i complete with rear disc brakes. Chris himself then purchased and fitted a dBilas individual throttle body kit and Bexley worked on the MBE engine management system.
During this period our man fitted E36 M3 front and rear bumpers and side skirts, which although offer no form of protection from impact, help reduce weight quite significantly. To shed further pounds he stripped out the interior and fitted a carbon bonnet. Finally Chris installed four-pot Brembos and floating discs up front. The car was once again rolling roaded and produced a more impressive 158bhp and 153lb ft of torque but the 318i – and Chris for that matter – were at the end of their tether. The M40, although a willing comrade could not, without force induction at least, be pushed a millimetre further. As sad as it was, Chris knew he had to move on.
He began hunting for a replacement lump. The first port of call for the engine swap was the 2.5-litre 220bhp S14 from the E30 M3. Used by some E36 touring cars this powerplant is renowned for its lightweight, rev hungry attitude and is ideally suited to track driving. It was only financial reasons that stopped Chris making this swap, as the lads at Bexley pointed out that for the money, the power increase he would achieve would be minimal.
He then began looking for an E36 M3 Evo lump but could find nothing to match his criteria. He was about to give up when, after an inquisitive snoop on eBay, he stumbled on the greatest bargain of the century. There before him, with just five minutes remaining on the sale was an E46 M3 engine with just 20k on the clock, the current price just £1100. Chris bid £1300 for it and in an instant it was his as he recalls: “At the time I just thought ‘what have I done?’ but I just went with it and prayed! I called the guy and asked if I could come and look at it and he said ‘no’ I’ll come to you. He turned up and had the engine complete with gearbox on a B&Q palette. He said I could have the lot for £1500.” Chris gave it a good once over but the seller guaranteed it was legitimate and he took a chance and went for it. There is no doubting it was a massive gamble.
One of the main reasons the project was so difficult from the outset was because it is quite literally a first. In Europe at least, no one has ever done this before and Chris wasn’t sure if it had ever been legitimately achieved anywhere before. It was therefore down to Bexley to confirm that the mounting points for the E36 and E46 M3 engines were relatively close and that the S54 from the E46 should fit. They explained, however, that the gearbox on the E46 is longer and as a result the E36’s propshaft would have to be cut. Problems spiralled further as Bexley encountered yet another major issue. The E36 318i runs an open diff. In an E46 the diff is controlled by the engine management system, however since all the electronic gizmos would need to be eradicated if the S54 was to run smoothly in the E36, the limited slip diff from the E46 could not be installed, there simply wouldn’t be the technology necessary to run it. To scupper the problem Nigel and Jags at Bexley had to utilise the mechanical E36 M3 diff. The running gear for Chris’s ride would have to be a mixture of amalgamated E36 and E46 technology resulting in an E46 gearbox and propshaft front end welded and integrated into the E36 M3’s propshaft. This enabled it to operate with the E36 rear differential and rear axle. Interesting stuff when you’re reading about it, mind numbingly difficult and problematic when you’re building it!
The next dilemma that the team faced was the E36’s steering column. On the E46 the rack narrowly misses the manifold, and if this was not the case with the E36 it would really threaten the project. Through some sort of divine intervention it just so happens that the E36’s steering column ran exactly the same way as the E46’s. Chris points out that this was a real turn up for the books as both the E46’s engine and bay are wider; by pure chance fate was playing along with Chris’ wild plans.
As mentioned, because it was impossible to run the E46s software in the E36, the fly-by-wire throttle found on the E46 M3 had to be replaced and exchanged for a manual throttle cable. Unfortunately because of the way the new engine sat, the E36 M3’s variant didn’t fit into Chris’s car, so Bexley fabricated the piece themselves.
Finally with the project looking like it was on track it was time to take on the cooling system. The E36 M3’s radiator was fabricated and mounted on new brackets and after a few trial runs it was supplying sufficiently cool air to the new lump. To complete the car final touches included a Heigo bolt-in roll-cage, relocating the battery behind the passenger’s seat, Full Black Art Design coilover race suspension, a UUC magnesium front strut brace and enlarged ITG air filter. With a Recaro bucket and Sabalt harness already installed and a rear wing fitted the car was ready to roll.
Just two days before the shoot, one of the UK’s greatest sleepers was unveiled to its proud owner. On its first rolling road the car put down a hefty 348bhp and 277lb ft. The once budget 318i is now one of the fastest BMW’s in the UK thanks to Bexley, as well as being one of the most understated performance cars you’ll ever come across. Capable of 185mph, this thing accelerates with such ferocity that it definitely outstrips the performance of the E46 M3 and quite possibly the E46 M3 CSL. It may have been expensive, it may be hugely impractical, but to all of you that look at your pride and joy and dream of more, listen up. Whether it takes you a year or two decades, persistence pays off. A dollop of insanity, a piggy bank and a die hard mission can lead you to uncharted territory. After fitting his first air filter Chris kept his cool and followed the mantra ‘one day at a time’. Fourteen years later, and without any sudden cash windfall he now owns a car that drives and behaves like the one he desired all those years ago. With future plans to install a lightweight flywheel and clutch, slick tyres and a carbon airbox, power will only increase, and whether it takes him a week or five years to get this sorted, Chris can attest to one thing: good things come to those who wait.
The running gear for Chris’s ride would have to be a mixture of amalgamated E36 and E46 technology.
He turned up and had the engine complete with gearbox on a B&Q palette. He said I could have the lot for £1500. There is no doubting it was a massive gamble.
DATA FILE #BMW-E36 / #BMW-E36-S54 / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54 / #BMW-S54 / #S54B32 engine, ITG air filter, #Scorpion de-cat, #Sebring-DTM exhaust. E46 M3 six-speed gearbox with #UUC short-shift, E36 M3 rear axle and differential, E36 and E46 M2 fabricated propshaft, E36 M3 transmission tunnel cross brace
CHASSIS: 17” #AC-Schnitzer-Type-2 wheels shod in Yokohama AVS 235/40 tyres with #Eibach wheel spacers. Black Art Design coilovers, Ground Control front camber plates, UUC magnesium front strut brace and AC Schnitzer rear strut brace, #Eibach anti-roll bars, TC Kline racing monoball rear trailing arms and aluminium bushes. #Brembo four-pot front brake conversion with 238mm discs and #Ferodo DS3000 pads, #Zimmermann crossdrilled and vented discs with Ferodo DS2500 pads rear
INTERIOR: Fully stripped with Heigo bolt-in rollcage, Recaro SPG seat with Sabelt four-point harness, AC Schnitzer steering wheel and pedal set, AC Schnitzer gear knob
EXTERIOR: E36 M3 bumpers and side skirts, carbon fibre bonnet, AC Schnitzer mirrors, Hamann STW rear spoiler with carbon fibre lip, Race Tech tow ring
The M40, although a willing comrade could not, without force induction at least, be pushed a millimetre further. As sad as it was, Chris knew he had to move onStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAC SCHNITZER S5
Hiding in Plain Sight It might not be as well-known as the M5 but this #Schnitzer E34 S5 still packs a punch.
The AC Schnitzer S5 Silhouette is nowhere near as well-known as the M5. And that’s exactly the way its owner Jani Ylönen likes it. Nobody suspects a thing… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photography: Jape Tiitinen.
The concept of the sleeper is one that’s endured for generations – the idea that you can wrap up a whole bundle of hairraising performance and handling prowess into a relatively unassuming package, thereby dropping jaws and raising eyebrows along with pulses as you blow away the competition in the traffic light grand prix.
There are countless examples of bona fide sleepers that really highlight the success of the formula – regular visitors to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, for example, will no doubt be familiar with the near-anonymous white Transit van that has the engine and running gear from a Jaguar XJ220 squirreled away inside. But that’s just a one-off build; manufacturers love to build Q-cars too – look at the Rover 75 V8 (as dull to behold as your grandpa’s runabout, but there’s a Mustang engine in there!), the pseudo-mundane four-door version of the R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R, the Renault Espace V6, the Volvo 850R, the Lancia Thema 8.32 (a drab-looking saloon with a Ferrari V8, for goodness’ sake) and, of course, the original, E28-generation BMW M5. This last one, arguably more than any, really nailed the sleeper idea: a sensible, everyday executive saloon hiding a supercar engine of phenomenal might.
Now, a pedant might argue that the car we’re looking at here isn’t exactly a sleeper. And they’d be right. Just take a peep at the boisterous, aggressive wheel arches and the girth of those shimmering splitrims – it’s an E34 in a party frock, a 5 Series that’s been up close and personal with a glitterball. But the Q-car analogy still holds up, because this AC Schnitzer special fits into a handy sleeper offshoot that was blossoming in the 1990s, a sort of officially modified alternative to a mainstream model.
The obvious poster boy of this generation was the Lotus Carlton, a tremendously dull base car that suddenly became very exciting when Vauxhall carted it off to Lotus. It returned with a couple of turbos, some frighteningly wide arches, and a 177mph top speed. Sure, manufacturers and aftermarket tuners have been monkeying around in this arena from time immemorial, but the idea of taking a humdrum production model and turning up the wick for a handful of moneyed customers really built up a head of steam in the ’90s, and AC Schnitzer was more than happy to exploit this enthusiasm by having a little tinker with the E34 chassis.
This, naturally, was a tremendously logical notion. While the E34 5 Series range wasn’t exactly wanting for performance variants – the M5 was a hand-built lunatic with comfortably north of 300hp, and the North American market got an M-Sport version of the 540i, which made good use of that shiny new V8 – that’s never been the point of Schnitzer road cars.
These are race-bred machines (or so they’d tell you), the connoisseurs’ choice for the sort of discerning customer who thought a little more laterally than just swaggering into the local BMW dealership, slapping a fat wad on the counter and leering ‘gimme the fastest 5 Series you have’. With roots in the iconic Schnitzer Motorsport team, which was founded way back in 1967, AC Schnitzer was established as a brand in its own right in 1987, and it was well into its stride when the E34 chassis reared its head and started tentatively begging for attention like a curious kitten. The E34 and AC Schnitzer are basically the same age – a match written in the stars, no?
Arriving at the crux of the matter, the car you’re looking at here is an AC Schnitzer S5 Silhouette. This represented one of the first holistic E34 tuning programmes, something that effectively said ‘the M5 is an astonishing machine, but it’s not the only performance option here’. So what was interesting about it? Well, just drink in the aesthetic… the size of the arch extensions is notable for starters – not quite Lotus Carlton-like levels of beef, granted, but certainly enough to earn a cocked glance from an aficionado.
The hook with the Silhouette was that, unlike other contemporary body kits – not least from Schnitzer itself, the kit wasn’t made from polyurethane or injection-moulded plastic, but lovely lightweight fibreglass, with a bit of Kevlar reinforcement in the rear spoiler to ensure it was doing its job. In addition to the arches, the S5 wore chunky side skirts, a front spoiler and a rear apron, and all this does much to ramp up the aggressiveness of the profile. Particularly when you stir in the timeless breadth of the Type I wheels, their contact patch being comically large by early 1990s standards. How does a 12.75x17-inch rear rim grab you? ‘By the throat’ is probably the correct answer there…
This tidy example belongs to Jani Ylönen of Vehmersalmi, Finland – a certified BMW nut and thus an eminently sensible curator for such a slice of history: “I’ve always been a big fan of BMWs. My first car was an E21 323i, and it’s difficult to imagine how I’d want to drive any other make.” Indeed, sitting alongside this E34 on the Ylönen driveway is an F11- generation 5 Series, which suggests that the seed planted so early on is blossoming with alacrity.
“My E21 was in bad condition when I bought it,” he recalls. “I fully rebuilt it from the ground up in 1994-’95. I think it’s a good thing to really know the car you drive, it fuels the passion.” This was again the case with the S5 Silhouette. Did he save it from the ignominy of the crusher? Ah, no, thankfully not… “I saw it for the first time in around 2005, and I knew it would be mine,” Jani grins. “It was owned by a friend who kept it in great condition – the way I bought it is pretty much the way it is now.”
The reason for his enthusiasm is clear to see, it’s obvious how one might fall in love with such a machine on first sight. After all, AC Schnitzer put the hours in to ensure that the S5 Silhouette was a formidable machine. A number of engine options were available, but this was the mightiest and brawniest; using the 535i’s 3.5-litre straight-six as a base, it was stretched out to 3.7-litres (well, 3627cc to be precise, with a 92.5mm bore and 90mm stroke compared to the 92mm and 82mm of the stock 535i) and treated to Schnitzer’s own cams, pistons, con rods and crankshaft, along with a modified cylinder head and intake, and custom management.
To all of this, Jani has added a Reuter Motorsport exhaust system and a set of larger injectors from an E34 M5, with the verified results being a healthy 282hp. A 38 per cent horsepower gain over the standard 535i is not to be sniffed at, is it?
With such clear roots in motorsport, Schnitzer was keen to talk in its contemporary literature about the increased downforce and reduced lift resulting from the respective fibreglass accoutrements, and the single wiper and aero mirrors give the S5 a nifty Touring Car vibe. The tuner’s own suspension setup was dialled in as well; developed with Bilstein, the custom springs and dampers dropped the car by around 35mm.
The manner in which the tuner spoke about its baby back then was telling in its forthrightness, that ‘a consistent application of proven racing mechanics on road-suitable versions is possible without any restrictions in view of everyday use and motoring comfort’. You see what it’s doing? It’s justifying the purchase for you, to save you the bother – yes, it’s a brutish road-racer, but don’t worry, it’s every bit as much of a comfortable cruiser as any factory BMW.
What a fabulously logical marketing strategy that is. Certainly an easy one to sell to a reluctant spouse. And ACS has always been fierce and stern selfpromoters, sticking the company logo anywhere it could; take a peep into that sumptuous, leather-clad interior and you’ll spot a chunky and robust branded three-spoke steering wheel, Schnitzer pedals and footrest, Schnitzer wood trim on the dash… there’s no ambiguity about where you are. And where you are is somewhere very special indeed.
This E34, then, is not a sleeper by traditional standards, but it does fit very neatly into the mainstream-sidestep of the early 1990s that saw machines like this suddenly making a lot of sense. The name itself is evocative of a keen race heritage – silhouette racers, after all, are the ultimate manifestation of the basic sleeper ethos, stuffing otherworldly performance into sensible-trousers shells – and it’s this above all else that drew Jani to purchasing it. “I just love the fat body kit and wide wheels,” he laughs. “And people’s reactions at shows can be great – if they know, they know.” But the real point is that most people don’t know.
The S5 Silhouette, as brash as it is in the details, is a car that flies under the radar. It’s not an M5, that much is obvious, so the untrained observer will pigeonhole it as ‘just another E34’ before moving on to the next exhibit. Which is a mistake, as they’ll soon discover when they have their tanned backside handed to them on a country lane on the way home. Such is the entertaining in-joke of the Q-car genre.
AC Schnitzer’s contemporary tuning brochure had a section dedicated to the E34 Five and the S5 Silhouette featured heavily, and much was made of bringing motorsport technology to the road.
“I think it’s a good thing to really know the car you drive, it fuels the passion…”
“I just love the fat body kit and wide wheels and people’s reactions at shows can be great”
TECHNICAL DATA #AC-Schnitzer-S5 / #AC-Schnitzer-S5 / #AC-Schnitzer-S5-E34 / #AC-Schnitzer-E34 / #AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-E34 / #BMW / #BMW-E34-AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: #M30B35 / #M30 / #BMW-M30 / #M30-AC-Schnitzer 3.7-litre straight-six, AC Schnitzer cams, pistons, con rods and crankshaft, modified cylinder head and intake, #Reuter-Motorsport exhaust system, AC Schnitzer valve cover and ECU, S38 E34 M5 injectors, #Getrag five-speed manual 282hp, 270lb ft
CHASSIS: 9.75x17-inch (front) and 12.75x17-inch (rear) #AC-Schnitzer-Type-I wheels, 215/45 (front) Nankang NS-II and 255/40 (rear) Falken Azenis, AC Schnitzer/ #Bilstein sport suspension, drilled/grooved discs and #Ferodo pads, strut brace
EXTERIOR: AC Schnitzer S5 Silhouette fibreglass kit comprising wide arches, side skirts, front spoiler and rear apron, Kevlarreinforced AC Schnitzer rear spoiler, AC Schnitzer heated sport mirrors
INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer three-spoke leather steering wheel, AC Schnitzer short shift with leather gear knob, AC Schnitzer footrest, AC Schnitzer wood trim, leather upholsteryStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAUDI RS6 C5 2015 TUNING UNLEASHED
Stunning C5 is packing 573ps, 881Nm C5 perfection. Absolute Perfection. Not much can beat the appeal of a really well done C5 RS6 and this 573ps beast has to be one of the finest examples in the world…
Reputations mean everything. In this day and age of social media, if something isn’t right, then someone will quickly post an online review or comment to tell the world exactly what they think. This poses something of a quandary. On the one hand, an honest review can help – after all, who wants to buy something that’s likely to break? On the other, just because an individual has had a bad experience doesn’t mean you should run for the hills.
The C5 RS6 is a classic example of this interweb hysteria. Yes, the big, biturbo avant can be devilishly expensive to put right if it breaks. The weak points – the DRC suspension, gearbox, intercoolers – are all well documented. Make no mistake, if you buy a poor one, you will face some big bills. But there’s more to the C5 RS6 than a list of known faults.
You don’t buy a C5 if you’re after something sensible and cheap to service and maintain; if that’s what you’re after, buy a new A6 TDI. People buy C5 RS6s with their hearts.
The combination of V8 twin-turbo performance and that iconic wide-shouldered style, means it’s still one of the best looking and most desirable RSs ever made. Add to this the fact that they can be tuned to over 600bhp, and are available in both saloon and avant form, and it’s clear to see why they are still so well loved.
Darren Burt, owner of this immaculate C5, has always loved Audis. We displayed it on our stand at this year’s AITP, which is where we caught up with him to find out more.
“Me and my pals used to walk past a brand new Noggy-blue RS2 on the way to school, so I’ve always likes avants; especially the C5 RS6,” he smiles. Having run a D2 4.2 A8, he really wanted an RS6 and often looked at them in the classifieds.
“I left it for a while, then had a quick squiz one day and spotted this one for sale in London,” he recalls. “I was working offshore, so I thought, I’ll leave it to fate – if it’s still for sale when I get back, then it’s meant to be and I’ll buy it.” Then, barely 24 hours into his trip, he flew down to London and did the deal on the tidy C5.
Previously owned by a guy on the AudiSRS forum, it had been well looked after. “It was lowered, remapped and had some MTM Bimoto wheels,” says Darren. “It was in decent condition with 80k miles; it had a few knocks on the paint and a chip on the windscreen, but I loved it; this was my dream car,” he smiles.
However, his fun was short lived. A spirited 165mph run was caught short when an errant hare ran into his path, destroying the front bumper.
“While the bumper was replaced, I decided to get a full respray as I wasn’t happy with the rest of the paintwork,” says Darren. This is where things began to get expensive.
“The parts bill was over five pages long,” he laughs, “every time the bodyshop removed a grille or piece of trim, a clip or bracket would snap.” Fortunately everything was readily available, but came with the usual high dealer prices. So many parts have been replaced on this 2003 car, that much of it really is like new. The door trims, alloy boot lid trim, plus numerous clips and fittings are all factory fresh.
When it came to the paint, it could only be Daytona Grey. This original hue suits the C5 to a tee and the full, glass-out respray looks fantastic.
The optics, including window and grille surrounds, plus roof rails have also been painted. “They’d been wrapped by the previous owner, but they didn’t look right, so I had them done in gloss black,” says Darren. “I didn’t do them in matt like an RS6 Plus, as I wasn’t trying to make this look like a Plus,” he adds. The final touch was having the mirrors done in Daytona grey. This RS may be over 12 years old now, but it looks like it just rolled out of Ingolstadt.
With a fresh paint job, Darren has been very particular about how it’s maintained. His missus, Mandy, explains, “We were out for dinner and Darren noticed a bird had poo’d on his car, so he drove home to clean it, leaving me in the restaurant!” To be fair it’d only just come out of the paintshop and home was only around the corner, but it goes to show the care he’s taken with this RS6. Unfortunately, the bird-poo incident was about to get a whole lot worse.
“The gearbox decided to let go on the way back to the restaurant.” laughs Darren. Not one to mess around, he sent the C5 over to respected Audi tuners, #Unit20 , to have a reconditioned box with uprated torque converter fitted.
Of course, he couldn’t leave it at that. “While it was in, I decided to get some #TTE650-hybrid-turbos fitted, together with Milltek race downpipes,” he smiles. “I also had some #Wagner-intercoolers ready to go on, so they were fitted too.”
With a freshly uprated engine and a stronger gearbox ready to take some punishment, the RS was then shipped off to MRC Tuning for a pair of ITG filters and its custom map. Here it made 573ps with a corresponding 881Nm of torque.
So, how did this compare to the previous spec? “90 to 190mph is ferocious,” says Darren. “I had 196mph out of it before the TTE turbos were fitted and it’s geared for over 200mph – I’m just waiting for a dry day to really test it!” he laughs. In a world where every other Audi we see appears to have airride, it makes a refreshing change to see something dropped very low on a static set-up. But this is no ordinary kit.
Put together by Simon Sweetland from Still Static, this bespoke system has been designed to get the RS6 as low as possible, without ruining the handling. “It annoys me when people say ‘that must drive really badly; it’s too low’” says Darren. “They don’t know what they’re talking about. Everything has been custom modified for the C5 by AH Flachwerk.” The H&R race ultralow coilovers have been re-valved, with shortened damper bodies. With Hotchkiss anti-roll bars, and a full geometry set-up, the suspension is both low and compliant. There’s a lot more to this bespoke kit than a set of off the- shelf coilovers wound down as far as they’ll go.
The set-up allows Darren to drop the car hard over the beefy set of 10x20in alloys, which came off a Q7. These OEM wheels really do look the part with polished lips and ceramic coated centres. Look behind the fronts and you’ll find a set of Brembo calipers gripping 380mm discs, which were kindly donated by a Lamborghini Gallardo. The C5 is no lightweight and with 190+mph on tap, it needs good stoppers.
Pop your head inside and you’ll find a typical RS6 leather interior. But look more closely and you’ll notice it looks brand new. The leather was removed, stripped back, re-dyed and treated before being re-fitted for that factory-fresh look. “I’ve got a set of Recaro CSs to go in it,” says Darren, “but I’m still not happy with the retrim on them; they’ve been done three times now,” he grimaces. But, aside from the Recaro issues, the RS6 was looking truly awesome and ready for its first show.
Then, just weeks before Audis in the Park, disaster struck. “I’d been sanding the headlights and on the way home noticed a rubber smell,” says Darren. Thinking he’d run over a plastic bag, he continued. “When I got home I could really smell burning and see smoke, so I opened the bonnet and the engine was on fire!” he exclaims. “I ran inside, got an extinguisher and managed to put it out very quickly.” A roll of tape had been left in the bay and the V8 had cooked it, along with part of his engine. Fortunately, the damage was relatively limited – the radiator overflow pipe had melted, some of the loom, and one of the coils.
The car was rushed down to MRC Tuning to have it all fixed ready for AITP. While it was in, Darren had all the coils replaced, together with the cam belt, water pump, vacuum pipes and alternator. It was finished, ready for the show, where it took pride of place on the AudiTuner stand.
“This is my first show in two years,” says Darren, “I just want to drive it and enjoy it now.” With plans for uprated manifolds to maybe unleash a bit more power, there’s plenty more to come for this stunning RS6. It really is a credit to Darren and the companies involved in tuning and maintaining it. The fact he drives it properly is just the icing on the cake.
SPECIFICATION #2003 #Audi-RS6-C5 / #Audi-A6-C5 / #Audi-A6 / #Audi-RS6 / #Audi-RS6-Avant / #Audi-RS6-Avant-C5
ENGINE 4.2 FSI biturbo V8, #TTE650 custom hybrid turbos, #Milltek race downpipes with 100cell cats, full #Milltek exhaust system, #Wagner intercoolers and shrouds, #ITG air filters, MRC Tuning custom ECU map
POWER 573ps and 881Nm
TRANSMISSION Unit 20-supplied recon gearbox with uprated torque converter and gearbox map
BRAKES Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggara #Brembo upgrade with 380mm front discs, #Ferodo race pads
SUSPENSION #AH-Flachwerk modified #H&R race ultralow coilovers from Still Static , #Hotchkiss anti-roll bars, 034 diff mount
WHEELS AND TYRES #Audi Q7 10x20in Speedlines with ceramic polished centres and hand polished lips with silver powder coated barrels, Michelin Pilot Supersport 245/30x20s, H&R adaptors
EXTERIOR Full windows-out respray in factory Daytona Grey pearl, all exterior trim (windows, grille surrounds, rear plinth, roof rails) painted gloss black, mirrors colour coded Daytona Grey
INTERIOR Factory Euro Recaro interior fully re-Connolised in original silver, full Audi S6/RS6 plus blue flash carbon interior pack, highly polished and re-fitted
TUNING CONTACTS Grizz and the crew at Unit 20, Doug and the crew at #MRC-Tuning , Simon at TTE, Del at Optimus Trimmers, Dave at Prestige Leather, Colin at Performance Bodyshop, Si Sweetland at Still static, Mike the polisher and Stevie Bryce
“This is my first show in two years, I just want to drive it and enjoy it now”
Top: Darren is happy, but there’s more to come.
“90 to 190mph is ferocious... I had 196mph out of it before the TTE turbos...”
Left: Milltek pipe, polished of course Below: Interior is mint Right: The V8 powerhouse.
Left: Rear ends don’t get much better Above: Twin TTE 650 turbos are inside Below: Static drop is impeccable.
“The parts bill was over five pages long”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- 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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