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    The E36 M3 is fast becoming something of a modern classic and this bagged ’vert is as clean as they come. Alex Barnett’s E36 M3 proves that with simple, well-executed modifications and a clean base you can make your BMW a real modern classic… Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Matt Dear.

    What makes something classic? It’s an almost unanswerable question. While BMW’s own parts computer now designates the E36 as a classic model, is that a label that can truly be assigned to it? Looking over Alex Barnett’s E36 M3, though, you’d be hard-pushed to deny it of its status as something of a modern classic. So many E36s are left in a poor state of fettle, demonised for the track, or have been modified just that bit too far that the original ’90s feel they left the factory with has been lost. The E36 M3 was a special car and fortunately 24-year-old Alex’s retains its original nature yet with his own twist on it. Here’s a car that’s more about what hasn’t been done than what has. It has ‘cool classic’ written all over it.

    “I’ve owned the M3 for around 18 months now,” explains Alex. “I had a 323i Coupé before which I was planning to turbo or S54 swap, but when I thought about what I wanted from a car in the long run, I thought an M3 might be a better bet. I looked at eBay and saw this M3 for sale at a good price in Colchester. I messaged the seller, Ross, and headed down there the same weekend to view it. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it.”

    One of Alex’s many talents is paint correction and detailing. He could see the potential in the M3 even though it wasn’t looking its best when he picked it up. “The car was in reasonable condition,” he says. “The paintwork was okay but really flat and the rear arches were starting to rot – which the E36 is known for. Other than being on some FK coilovers, it was standard. Once I’d bought it I got straight to work on getting the paintwork up to my standards.”

    In the end every panel apart from the doors and boot was repainted before Alex was completely happy with it but, as you can see, it was worth it. Alex’s trusted bodyshop Chappell Coachworks (near Brands Hatch race circuit) has done a sublime job. “The plan was always to stance it; if it had been an M3 Coupé I’d most likely would have turned it into a track car but, being a convertible, I thought the right path would be to stance it… which I received a lot of hate for!” laughed Alex.

    “I put my Borbet A wheels on the car, wound the coilovers right down and started attending shows,” he smiles. However, there was always a plan in the back of Alex’s mind. He didn’t want to ruin the E36’s undercarriage by running low and static. He knew air was the best way to go. “With it being an M, I think keeping it OEM+ is an investment so that one day I can turn it back to standard and sell it – not that I plan to do that just yet! After about a year of driving it static, Joey Hazell pointed me in the direction of Jamie Hitchcock, who was selling an E36 air-ride combo.”

    The air-ride combo system is simple but functional and ticks all the boxes as far as Alex is concerned. It’s a two-way manual setup with the pump and tank stowed in the boot. The struts, meanwhile, are #GAZ units with matching front bags and Air Lift rears. Of course, a wheel upgrade was what was needed to make the most of the newfound lows, and Alex chose an all-time classic – the #BBS RF, which he found in Germany and had shipped over. “The wheels I got in June 2014 from Germany as I couldn’t find a set I wanted in the UK,” Alex tells us. “They’re 8.5x17” and 10x17” with 2.5” and 3” dishes, which I stripped down before Players Classic this year for a freshen-up.”

    This reworking included the centres being powdercoated in the white you see before you, and the dishes were given a thorough polish, too. Finally, Alex consulted split-rim guru Dan Taylor at Wheel Unique for a complete set of gold spike hardware, black and red BBS badges and metal hex centre caps to replace the original plastic items.

    “Once I got the centres back I got straight on with building them back up in time for the all-important Players event,” Alex says. “The tyres were refitted and tested for leaks. They held pressure, which I was pretty stoked with, as it was my first time building split-rims and with all the horror stories I’d heard I was really worried in case I hadn’t done the job correctly.”

    E36 geeks will also spot that there are a few additions to the exterior aside from those wheels but it’s been very much Alex’s plan all along to keep it as BMW intended but with his own touch. Therefore the foglights have been blanked and the orange indicators have gone in favour of subtly smoked versions. The rears lights Alex carefully painted red and, aside from a gentle arch roll, everything else is original and as perfect as can be.

    “My favourite part of the car, I would have to say, is the air-ride system as I can have mad lows when parked up and still drive the car at normal height and keep the underside in good condition,” reveals Alex. “I still love the noise of the air releasing out of the solenoids and confusing people in traffic by making the car go up and down quickly.

    “I plan to keep the car looking pretty similar to how it is now in future but eventually doing a nut and bolt rebuild, making it nice and clean underneath and inside. The shell is rot-free which is great for a 20-year-old car, so first up will be small changes like new bushes and a good lick of Waxoyl to extend its life. As the M3 is now becoming a classic it’s really in my best interests.”

    Alex certainly considers the E36 M3 to be a classic, and with the way he’s treated his, it has every right to be titled as such. His masterful modifications have made it a car that draws attention for all the right reasons, even E36 purists will find plenty of details to enjoy, and yet the whole thing has been brought bang up-to-date with his own twists. This is a true modern classic.

    M3 Coupé Vader seats replace the standard items. Below: manual air-ride setup uses a single air tank.

    Far left: Milltek exhaust looks and sounds great.

    Left: Front fogs have been blanked. #BBS RFs look fantastic on the E36. Below: Adjustable front top mounts.

    DATA FILE #Air-ride #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-Cabrio / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-M3-Convertible / #BMW-M3-Convertible-E36 / #BMW-E36-Convertible / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-Cabrio-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-Cabrio

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30 / #BMW-S50 / #S50 , #Milltek decat centre section and backbox, five-speed manual gearbox, #AC-Schnitzer short-shift

    CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #BBS-RF three-piece wheels (with white centres, red/gold caps, gold spike hardware and metal hex centres) with 205/40 (front) and 215/40 (rear) Nankang NS2 tyres, two-way manual air-ride using #GAZ-Gold shocks, #Gaz front airbags, #Air-Lift rear bags, adjustable front top mounts, #Powerflex trailing arm polybushes

    EXTERIOR Avus blue paint, smoked front and side indicators, all-red rear lights, foglights blanked

    INTERIOR Factory black leather interior with M3 Coupé Vader front seats

    THANKS My girlfriend Jess for helping me throughout the show season with the car and putting up with me working on the car near on every evening, Dan Taylor at Wheel Unique for fulfilling all my wheel needs, Gary Chappell for doing all the bodywork and always squeezing it in, Auto Finesse for all of the products I use to get the car to the standard I like

    I love confusing people by making the car go up and down quickly.
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    NIGHTCRAWLER UK 1600 Classic beauty on BBSs

    With a few simple mods this classic and extremely clean 1600 has been given a fresh new look.

    A classic is not a project to be undertaken lightly but with a bit of love, care and attention the results can be spectacular, as this 1600 demonstrates. Words: Elizabeth de La tour. Photos: Matt Richardson.

    Owning an older car takes dedication. Anything from the mid-’80s is okay, a little fragile now, perhaps, mainly due to age and/or mileage but could most definitely be daily driven with little or no problems to hamper ownership and enjoyment. I’m speaking from personal experience with a 1987 E28 518i. And with a bit of work and upkeep an ’80s car will most definitely bring you many years of motoring pleasure. Then there are the cars from the ’70s, or even earlier, that require a bit more dedication to look after properly. More things are likely to go wrong. There’s going to be more rust to worry about and owning a car of that vintage is not a decision to be made lightly as ownership will require commitment. Fortunately, Laurence Turner is very committed and both he and his carloving dad have the skills and hands-on approach that makes owning a car like this 1600 that much less painful.

    “I’ve always been into cars,” Laurence begins. “It’s dad’s fault! I’ve owned and modified a lot of cars over the years. I had a Corsa B that I wrote off, a Mk2 Golf that I did up and sold, then a Polo GTI but that was too ‘boy racer’. Then I had another Mk2 for four years which I turned into a show car on air. I decided that the next car I was going to build was something like a 2002; my dad had bought a VW split-screen camper and we started going to more retro shows, which were more fun and chilled. I wanted something that would crossover between the modified shows I was used to going to and the retro shows, so two days later I put the Mk2 up for sale and started looking for a car to buy.

    “This 1600 popped up and looked really tidy. It had just been imported from Ireland and was over in Leamington Spa. It was only running on three cylinders and needed some work but it was the best example I’d seen so I bought it. Going from a new car to one that’s 45 years old was a big change and I knew nothing about BMs before this! “The car was completely stock and the springs were pretty shot so my original plan was to change the springs and wheels. A lot of the US forums were very helpful and I bought the parts I needed from Jaymic, along with its restoration guide.

    I’d already bought a Haynes guide for the car but the Jaymic book is fantastic and was my bible for the project. The biggest problem was actually getting hold of parts. It was a real nightmare. I mainly found what I needed in the US and Germany but even then it took a long time to find bits. It took me six months to get a steering wheel boss, for example.”

    Of course, it was worth the wait when it came to all the parts for this 1600 and it took Laurence and his dad less than a year to get the car to where it is now, working on it every weekend and building it on the drive. Laurence’s friend, Luke from Decked Metals (hence the stickers), also helped with the project. The plan of changing the suspension and the wheels was accomplished but, as you can probably tell from looking at the photos, Laurence took his 1600 that little bit further…

    The wheels, 8x15” BBS RMs, were purchased from Racing Team Hofmann in Germany and the classic cross-spokes have been fully chrome powdercoated making them ridiculously shiny, which harmonises perfectly with the chrome brightwork that can be found around the car.

    While the original plan had been to change the springs for a fresh set, the opportunity to give the suspension a bit of an overhaul was too great to resist, and the 1600 now sits on a set of custom Gaz coilovers, with extended threaded bodies at the front. This means Laurence has been able to really drop the little 1600 on its belly and it looks awesome for it, those 15s sitting perfectly up in the arches.

    At the back there’s a window louvre and, you won’t be surprised to learn, these are rarer than rare. “I got lucky. It was listed on a forum as a plastic window vent.” explains Laurence with a wide grin. “The seller did not know what he was in possession of!” The window louvre adds the finishing touch and is the perfect period addition to a car that, stance aside, looks very original with those exceedingly cool foglights mounted on the front bumper and that vintage AA badge attached to the extremely shiny front grille.

    The interior is pretty standard, which we reckon is a good thing. Those mustardcoloured doorcards and the classic threedial dash design make it a wonderfully retro place to spend some time. There are a pair of Lux Tii seats and Laurence fitted a Grip Royal steering wheel – with the deep-dish design and light wood trim being the perfect choice to complement the overall interior ambience.

    You’d have to have a heart of stone to look at this 1600 and not fall in love with it. The BBS RMs are the perfect size and style for the car, the way it sits is spot-on. The fact that Laurence hasn’t messed around with the styling, bar the addition of the period-correct louvre, means you get to enjoy those classic lines uninterrupted.

    “I’ve taken it to as many shows as I possibly can,” says Laurence, “including one in Germany. I’m pleased to say the car was fine on the drive over. I really loved the experience and the car received a lot of attention.” But the ownership experience hasn’t been all smiles and sunshine, unfortunately, and it’s actually other owners that have soured the experience, sadly. “The 02 community isn’t about stanced cars and the US really hates the sort of car that I’ve built, so it’s been hard finding people who can help me,” explains Laurence. “I prefer a more chilled scene and, really, I’m not about the scene, I just want to hang out with my car friends, play with cars and have fun.” We think that is a great philosophy to have. It’s such a shame that purist elitists are ruining the classic BMW ownership experience for the younger crowd who want to do things their way; why can’t we all just get along?

    Ultimately, Laurence is looking to sell the 1600 but, thankfully, not because of some small-minded idiots; it’s purely due to a change in circumstances. And with a Polo as a daily and a history of modified VWs behind him, it’s no surprise to learn that he’s looking at a Jetta for his next project.

    Still, at least he explored the world of modified Bavarian machinery and his very first foray is one that neither he nor anyone else will forget in a hurry.

    DATA FILE #BMW-1600 / #BMW / BBS / #BMW-Typ-114 / #BBS / #BBS-RM

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 1.6-litre four-cylinder #M10 / #BMW-M10 / #M10B16 , four-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 7x15” (front) and 8x15” (rear) #BBS-RM002 wheels with Brilliant Silver powdercoated baskets, chrome coated bolts and genuine BBS centre caps with 165/50 (front) and 185/45 (rear) tyres, #GAZ-Gold custom coilovers, #GAZ billet adjustable camber top mounts

    EXTERIOR Zender-type fibreglass splitter, genuine Autoplas rear window louvre

    INTERIOR Lux Tii seats, Grip Royal ‘Woodie’ steering wheel

    THANKS Special thanks to dad, Luke and Alex for their help with the build, all the Decked Metals crew, Auto Finesse for its amazing products, Jaymic for all its knowledge and help, Mark Ikeda for building these amazing wheels, Heidi for letting me fill the house with car parts
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    GERMAN MUSCLE 300HP #V8 #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-V8-E30 / #BMW-E30-V8 / #BMW-E30-M60 / #BMW-E30-M60B40 /

    Classic chromie packs a punch. Whack a V8 in an E30 chromie and fun is guaranteed. Big V8s in small cars are the muscle car tradition, and this right here is the BMW way of doing it. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Sunny Ryait.

    So, imagine this: you’ve already had two #Drive-My feature cars, one DRIVE-MY cover and you’ve just won DRIVE-MY Car of the Year. What are going to do next? If you said you’re going to Disney World, you’re clearly an American Football fan but if you’re Nick Sahota, the answer is: build another car! It’s not really a surprise considering he’s a serial modifier and a huge BMW fan.

    Nick’s no stranger to E30s or combining them with V8s, his Calypso two-door appearing in our May ’14 issue before it had a slight incident and he went on to build his unstoppable orange entity, so another E30 project was inevitable really. “I wanted to build something a bit different from the norm,” explains Nick when we ask him about the E30, “a completely standardlooking chromie sleeper. Then it just developed from there and I added rare and desirable parts. For example, the louvres, which as far as I’m aware are the only E30 specific ones currently run in the UK. I bought the car in almost perfect original condition. It had only had one owner and just 36k miles on the clock. It was a South African import that had spent most of its life in storage. I bought it in December of 2013.

    It was in near original condition and completely immaculate. When the purists realised that I had got such an original car for this project they hit the roof, but I have absolutely no interest in an M10-engined 318i. I never even drove it before the conversion. I took my friend Sukhi Kang with me to see the car and he drove it back to his. He stripped it and sold off all the running gear and interior on his drive for me, so the shell cost me nothing in the end.”

    Nick then dropped it off to Shaz at Just E30z. “I have spent way, way too much on the build but now it’s exactly what I want. It’s one of my favourite cars that I’ve ever owned or driven,” he tells us. Considering how many BMs Nick has had (and still has), that’s really saying something.

    “Just E30z did the majority of the conversion work and it took it a couple of months to finish the engine conversion,” Nick continued. “Liquid Metal / Hard Knocks speed shop did the custom manifold and exhaust work. Duda-Garage did everything else. There are always little niggles with these kind of modifications but between Just E30z and Duda Garage they have all now been ironed out and it’s perfect.”

    A V8 under the bonnet is all well and good but until you’ve sourced yourself some killer wheels for your E30, you ain’t nobody, kid. When it came to wheels, Nick’s first choice was an unsurprising one. “I wanted BBS RSs,” he says, everyone’s favourite wheels, “so I bought a set of 4x100s and had them built to the correct fitment. But while I was waiting for them to be completed, I went to see my friend Sandeep Gill one evening and he told me about a set of wheels that another friend, Parm Bhamra, was currently selling. So we went over and I ended up buying two more sets of wheels for it, one set of which are the Schmidt TH Lines that are currently on the car. I just fell in love with them and the ease of maintaining the Radinox dishes. The RSs may make an appearance at some point, though.”

    The multi-piece Schmidts look absolutely killer and suit the E30 perfectly, with that retro-look styling and those polished faces, which offer a nice, striking contrast to the subtlety of the rest of the car. RSs are great but it’s nice to see someone rocking something a bit different from the norm on their E30 and as part of the whole package these Schmidts are the perfect choice, especially when Nick’s brought that body down tight over the wheels with a set of GAZ Gold coilovers.

    Styling-wise, it’s very much a case of less is more with this build and Nick has favoured a few choice additions that make a statement without going over the top or spoiling the look of the car. “The styling is pretty much as the factory built it, bar the wheels and a bit of colour-coding,” Nick says. “The louvres and heckblende add a retro feel to it in my opinion as they are period-correct additions.” Up front there’s what Nick describes as a ‘Jimmy Hill chin lip’, balanced by a Tech 1 spoiler at the rear and the colour-coding he’s talking about has seen the mirrors and sills matched to the body. But arguably the parts making the biggest difference to the whole look of the car are the extremely rare rear window louvres and the heckblende – that red rear trim panel. The two combined are so incredibly ’80s that they just transform the car, giving it such a unique look that really sets it apart from other E30s. The interior is no less rare, even though it’s not the interior that will be staying in the car. We’ll let Nick explain: “Well the interior I have for it includes a very rare set of electric Recaros and a M3 rear bench, currently being retrimmed in saddle brown. But for the time being it is running Sukhi’s spare, extremely rare, genuine Recaro LS Highback M3 interior.” The current seats are ridiculously sexy and the wood-rimmed Nardi steering wheel and Nardi gear knob add the classic finishing touches.

    Amazingly we’ve come this far in the feature and not really talked about the big deal here: the engine swap. V8s and the E30 are pretty much a perfect combination and that big lump seems entirely happy nestled in the 3 Series engine bay. This is the 4.0-litre M60 from an E32 740i fitted with custom exhaust manifolds and a full custom system with a remote electric cutout valve – I’ve heard this in action in both videos and real life and it sounds ferocious. There’s a fivespeed manual gearbox from an E34 530i, with an LSD at the back to help Nick put the power down and a WMS four-pot brake kit helps him stop. He needs it because a) we know for a fact that he’s a ‘keen’ driver and b) having experienced the combination of E30 and V8, we can tell you that it is a most potent one, the M60 giving the lightweight E30 a serious turn of speed. Drive one and you’ll instantly understand why so many people do these swaps and why Nick’s had so many weaponised E30s.

    “I love everything about this car,” he grins, “the engine, the torque, the sound… My girlfriend hates it, although she hates all my cars other than my daily X5! My friends who know what it is love it. The rest that haven’t got a clue can’t understand why I have these old cars.”

    Being a serial modifier, Nick already has another project under construction (“but that’s top secret…”) but this E30 is going nowhere and will join his ever-growing collection of cars. He’s not finished with the mods either. He’s got that fancy new interior to go in yet and you never know what rare parts he’ll unearth on his travels. “I might even put it on air…” he lets slip. Whatever he does, 2015 is going to be an exciting year for Nick’s E30 and the purists are not going to be happy. Oh well.

    ENGINE: 4.0-litre V8 #M60B40 / #M60 / #BMW-M60 from an E32 740i, custom exhaust manifold, custom exhaust with a remote electric cutout, five-speed manual gearbox from an E34 530i, LSD.

    CHASSIS: 8x16” (front) and 9x16” (rear) multipiece #Schmidt TH Lines, #GAZ-Gold coilovers, WMS four-pot brake kit.

    EXTERIOR: ‘Jimmy Hill’ front lip, colour-coded door mirrors and sills, Tech 1 rear spoiler, rear window louvres, heckblende.

    INTERIOR: E30 M3 #Recaro LS Highbacks and rear bench, #Nardi wooden steering wheel and gear knob, genuine rear blind, genuine armrest, black sport carpet.

    THANKS: Sukhi Kang, Shaz (Just E30z 07903 717333), Mariusz (Duda Garage 07922 443509), Liquid Metal / Hard Knocks speed shop (018692 408119), Dave at Signco, Steve and the guys at Clean Getaway (, my family and friends.

    I wanted to build something from the norm a bit different.
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    A slice of E28 perfection, this gorgeous static classic has been spiced-up with an M54B30 swap in its shaved bay. Mark van den Burg gives the Veedub boys a run for their money with this gloriously clean 230hp+ E28. Words Louise Woodhams. Photos: Ronald Veth.

    How did you get into cars? Perhaps you have fond memories of spending weekends in the garage alongside your father tinkering with spanners and watching him bring classics back to life. Maybe your father had his own workshop and you worked with him after graduating from college to follow in his footsteps? It could be as simple as a matchbox car that you had as a small child that sparked your love for all things automotive.

    Personally speaking, I’ve been obsessed with cars for as long as I can remember but I never had a direct influence or occasion that sparked my interest. My father certainly had an appreciation of nice, fast cars but, being a policeman, safety always came first so I grew up on a Swedish diet of Volvo. Not the most inspiring of car brands.

    Fortunately, as soon as I got my driving licence I chose to venture south of the Pearl of the Baltic, and after buying my first BMW I never looked back.

    The pivotal moment for the owner of this lovely E28, Mark van den Burg, was whilst working in a garage washing cars aged 18: “Funnily enough my grandfather was a car fanatic but I never really knew him as he died when I was so young. But genetics are strong and I think I inherited the bug from him – including the way I sit behind the wheel, according to what my mum tells me.”

    From washing cars he started to do repairs, which led him to his first foray into car customisation and he’s been unable to rid himself of the oil in his blood ever since. As such, most of his cars have been modified. One, a VW Mk1 Caddy, was even featured in our sister title Performance VW. It ticked all of the boxes with air-ride, 14” PLS Vitesse wheels, fully polished 2.0-litre GTI engine and a full leather interior – including the dash.

    A number of VWs followed, before he was finally able to indulge in a car he really admired just over four years ago now. “I’ve always had an interest in BMWs, especially the older Threes and Fives; they’re great cars and so technically advanced,” explains Mark. “I needed a new daily and decided on an E28 as they drive like a modern car. Also, in the Netherlands you don’t have to pay road tax on a car that is older than 25 years old.”

    After just a few months it went from a commuter car to a full-blown project car, but that’s when it became clear that it was not as solid as it first seemed. “It needed a lot of TLC, welding and mechanical repairs,” recalls Mark. Having owned quite a few Mk1 and Mk2 VWs he has become quite the expert in restoration, so he was able to carry out all of the body repairs himself. With the shell almost as good as new, he could turn his attention to the next phase of the build: styling.

    Like all of Mark’s previous projects, this E28 is as immaculate as they come with nuances of shaving and detail work; from the deleted antenna hole in the rear quarter panel and side repeaters to the M5 front spoiler and US rear lights. The Alpine white 1985 525e sits atop two-piece 18” BBS RC wheels with polished lips and gloss black centres; spaced out 10mm all-round and shod in the 215/35 Nankang tyres they fill the arches perfectly.

    Playing a key part in helping to achieve this, of course, and hunkering the car down over the wheels are the fully adjustable Gaz Gold coilovers. To provide extra clearance during hard cornering, Mark custom-made the camber plates which also drop the ride a further 30mm up front, to match the extra shortened springs out back. Although, if we’re going to be truthful here, the real reason why he made them was because the ones that you buy off-the-shelf have more bolts than are functionally necessary – which doesn’t fit the clean look that Mark was so keen to achieve. Looking at pictures of the engine bay, which we’ll come to in just a minute, I’m sure that won’t come as a surprise to you. He’s even had all of the suspension parts powdercoated and new rubbers fitted.

    Whilst we’re on the subject of the chassis we may as well fill you in on the brakes, which were swapped out for Brembo fourpot calipers from the E32 7 Series clamped to discs borrowed from the E60 5 Series.

    With the exception of a retrofitted gauge cluster that sits in place of where the radio was and which monitors oil pressure and temperature, it’s all original, as you might expect it to be. The coveted Recaro seats and doorcards together with an M Tech steering wheel were obviously optional items for the 525 and a bit tricky for Mark to source but they’re perfectly fitting for this car given what’s under the bonnet! Which, at last, leads us to what we’ve been itching to tell you about: the engine. It’s something of a masterpiece in the BMW community at least, and has taken Mark the best part of two years to complete.

    Replacing the old 2.7-litre #ETA unit is an M54B30 from a 2001 E46 330i. In standard form it pumps out 231hp and 221lb ft of torque, so with an ECU remap, #K&N air filter and custom exhaust system, Mark should be getting a smidgen over those figures. “The most challenging part of the engine swap was that I had to custom fabricate a lot of the mechanical parts,” he says. “Fortunately I have a lathe and milling machine in my garage. I also had to redo all of the electronics, including a full wire tuck.” That was only just the start to achieving what is quite possibly one of the cleanest engine bays we’ve ever seen in this magazine.

    Prior to this Mark had filled in any holes and deleted any unnecessary brackets before repainting it so that he could begin the process of hiding or simply binning as many parts as possible. The EWS system was removed, for instance, as was the ABS unit, whilst the viscous fan was replaced with an electric fan and mounted in front of the radiator together with the washer fluid reservoir. The radiator was swapped out for an E36 item, which has a custom cover built for it, and the fuse box relocated to where the original battery was. When you peer under the bonnet now, the only items on show are the engine block itself and the brake booster.

    What’s made the European VW scene so famous is the cleanliness and attention to detail you find in the cars, and this particular build incorporates both with its smoothed-out body work, beautiful paint and an engine bay that’s truly uncluttered. “I have never done an engine bay as clean as this. I am pretty proud of it,” Mark grins. “It’s not that common on the #BMW scene and so it’s great to bring something different to the table. Everyone seems to like it. Even at Wörthersee this year – predominantly a VW show – the reactions were great. These guys just know when a car is built the right way, VW or not. Cleanliness is the key to building a great project car and it just goes to show that you don’t need an endless budget or specialists to call upon.”

    Truer words have never been spoken. I’ve come across some people who are what I’d term ‘badge snobs’ who would never even think to look to owners of other car marques for inspiration. Thankfully this Dutch reader isn’t one of them. If you want a lesson in cleanliness then you look at the best – which in this case are the VW builds, and this project goes to prove that by learning from others we can inject something new into our community. Be it hot rods, customs, lowriders, drift cars or VIP saloons, there’s plenty of inspiration out there as each corner of the globe has its own unique approach. Come to think of it, perhaps it’s worth looking to Sweden – those guys combine aesthetics with (unfathomable) performance unlike anywhere else in the world. Those guys can even make a Volvo cool!

    Boot houses extremely neat audio install consisting of Rockford Fosgate amps and subs.

    Interior has been treated to some additional gauges along with a pair of original Recaros and M Tech wheel.

    18” BBS RC090 wheels have been finished with gloss black centres and polished lips; full custom stainless steel exhaust system is finished with a subtle single tip.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE BMW #M54-swapped E28 / #BMW-E28-M54 / #BMW-E28

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 , E36 radiator, custom radiator and battery cover, washer fluid reservoir and electric fan mounted in front of radiator, #EWS and #ABS removed, fuse box relocated to where the original battery was, E36 headers and full 2.5” custom exhaust system, #ECU remap, #K&N air filter, all holes filled in and brackets removed, custom engine mounts, engine bay completely resprayed, fivespeed manual gearbox.

    CHASSIS 8x18” (front) and 9x18” (rear) two-piece #BBS wheels (with 10mm spacers) with 215/35 (front and rear) Nangkang tyres, #GAZ-Gold coilovers with custom camber plates and shortened rear springs, 3cm blocks mounted between suspension arms and front struts, all suspension parts powdercoated, all-new suspension rubbers, 348x30mm (E60 5 Series) discs with Brembo four-pot calipers (E32 7 Series) and custom caliper brackets.

    EXTERIOR Deleted antenna hole and side repeaters, M5 front spoiler and US rear lights.

    INTERIOR Recaro seats and doorcards, oil pressure and oil temperature gauges, Sony head unit and Rockford Fosgate amps and subs in custom fibreglass enclosure.
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    Is it an #Audi , is it a #Ford , is it a Cossy? Read on. / #Ford-Escort-Cosworth-MkV / #Ford-Escort-MkV / #Ford-Escort

    This is a 900bhp #Ford-Escort-Cosworth . Except it’s not, because it’s powered by a five cylinder Audi engine connected to a Skyline gearbox with a rear subframe from a Nissan S14. Oh yeah, it also has electronically adjustable four-wheel drive…


    This Escort Cosworth, if you can call it that, is what marketing people would call ‘a game changer’. Now, this is a phrase that tends to get casually tossed about when someone does something just a teeny weeny bit different and people, who want you to think that that something is actually a lot more exciting than it really is, will call it ‘a game changer’ in the hope that it will grab your attention and make you all giddy. Well, this is more than just a bit different; this is a car that completely and utterly redefines what is possible with the Escort Cosworth and even if it has done so by removing almost all of the #Cosworth DNA, which we know is going to upset quite a few purists reading this, the finished article is so spectacular, so face-meltingly well engineered that anyone who dismisses it for being ‘not a proper Cossie’ needs to go and sit in the corner and have a quite word with themselves. This is proper alright, and it’s all down to the skill, determination and downright bloody-mindedness of its genius owner, Joakim Stigenburg.

    Part of the reason we’re getting so hot under the collar about this car. of course, is because the Escort Cosworth is such an iconic machine, most people are reluctant to mess around with it too much. And this is perfectly understandable, it is an appreciating classic after all. Yes, there have been plenty of stunning big power projects over the years, all based around the equally as iconic Cosworth YBT and yes, we’ve even featured one or two examples that have been the subject of an engine swap as well – but nothing like this. In a world where your typical modified EscCos has a stage four conversion, some coilovers, a set of AP Racing 6-pots and some Compomotive MOs, you have to admit that a five-cylinder Audi 20v turbo engine conversion that’s putting out 900hp at the hubs combined with a Nissan drivetrain and an electronically adjustable four-wheel drive system is something of an eye-opener to say the least – especially so when you consider that our man Joakim did the vast majority of the work himself, at home, and in an unheated garage. And that’s actually quite a big deal, because for starters Joakim is a carpenter by trade, not an engineer or mechanic, so he’s had to learn all the skills you might imagine are essential for a build like this from scratch. Secondly, he’s from Sweden, so on the nights when he started work on the car at 8 o’clock at night and would finish at two or three in the morning, having to do so in a freezing cold workshop really does highlight the determination and passion he has had for this project. How long did it take him to finish it? Ten long years. And it all started when he took delivery of a completely standard 1994 model year Escort Cossie.

    “I started off with a 330bhp stage three kit, but after only a couple of months I wanted more power, so I modified it to stage four and around 450bhp,” remembers Joakim. “At this point, I decided that I should really have a roll cage for safety reasons, so I stripped the interior out and started work on building myself one. I guess this was the point where things started to get out of hand!”


    We suspect that from the very start, Joakim had his sights set on more than just a stage four conversion – he’s Scandinavian after all, and when it comes to building big project cars, events like Gatebil are proof that these guys don’t tend to do things by halves. It was the Norwegians that made the quantum leap in Cosworth tuning at the start of the noughties, and we have to assume that these kind of extreme machines served as an inspiration for Joakim as well. In short, he had to have more power and as such, he set about building a fully forged Cosworth YB in order to achieve it and to extract as much potential as he could from the freshly caged shell.

    And when we say ‘more power’ we do mean just that, because rather than the 500-600bhp that most people would deem to be about the limit for anything approaching vaguely useable for a fast road car, Joakim had his heart set on double that – and as such, he decided that the standard Ford transmission just wasn’t going to be up to the task of processing that amount of grunt. So, an alternative was required, and as luck would have it, one was about to present itself in the form of a Skyline GT-R33 gearbox, complete with a Pftizner Performance ‘dog engagement’ gear set.

    According to Joakim, a similar set-up had been proven on a Skyline with around 2,000bhp so he was pretty confident it was going to be man enough to deal with the power he had planned for the Escort. All he had to do now, was find some way of getting it to fit. The answer to that was to spend many, many hours fabricating and welding in his garage, and whilst he did in the end manage to successfully get the Skyline ‘box in place, by the time he did so, he’d somehow managed to completely change his mind on what engine was going to be attached to it!


    The forged YB was built and dyno’d, but the consensus was that it was just going to take too much hard work in order to push it close to the 1000bhp mark and that, once there, it would just be too fragile. So, it was put to one side and the hunt for a replacement began. And for those that are thinking it’s a crime to discard a Cossie YB in such a careless manner, don’t fret – Joakim ended up de-tuning it to a mere 590bhp and 457lb/ft and slotted it into his Sapphire Cosworth instead.

    As it happens the Saph was to take centre stage for quite some time, because after finding a new engine for the Escort, which turned out to be a turbocharged Volvo five-cylinder unit tuned to around 700bhp, this engine ultimately proved to be more trouble that it was worth, and Joakim became so frustrated with it all that he put the Escort to one side in order to spend some time with the Sierra.


    That was until about two years ago, when the half finished Escort was dragged to the front of the workshop so that Joakim could finally finish what he’d started. Job number one was to find yet another engine, and whilst the six-cylinder turbocharged unit from a Skyline could have been an obvious contender in so much as it would have matched up to the gearbox and would have easily provided the power required, Joakim had other ideas. Again, we suspect that the final choice of engine was inspired largely by the no-holds barred creations that crop up at events like Gatebil, but whether that’s the case or not, with just over 900hp on tap the 2.5-litre Audi based 5-cylinder engine that now resides in the front of the Escort is an absolute monster.

    Built up around a super strong diesel spec 2.5-litre, five-cylinder Audi block, the top half of the engine incorporates an old school Audi 7a five-cylinder 20v head. Again, Joakim has done the vast majority of the engine build himself, which has included not just mating the head and the block, but fitting JE pistons and H-section rods, a VAG coil pack conversion, custom Cat cams, a custom dry sump and CPS inlet and exhaust manifold – not to mention the small matter of bolting on a Precision 6466 billet roller bearing turbo and then getting the whole package up and running with MaxxECU engine management. On top of that, he’s had to chop around the front of the Escort in order to get the engine to fit and match it up to that bulletproof Skyline gearbox as well.

    The time and effort that has gone into the engine build is one thing, but the amount of custom fabrication and engineering involved throughout the whole car is another thing altogether. For instance, Joakim had to design and build a custom suspension set-up at the front of the car, using a combination of custom driveshafts and Nissan hubs to get power to the front wheels. If that wasn’t complicated enough, the rear of the Escort has basically been converted to a semi-tubular chassis, with a Nissan S14 sub-frame in place that in turn accommodates a hybrid Ford/Nissan suspension set-up. And then there’s the Rallycross style rear mounted radiator, the dry sump tank and fuel cell boot install, the custom home-built cage, the custom centre console that houses all the switch gear…the list goes on and on.


    One of the Escort’s biggest party tricks, however, is not the top of the range hardware or bespoke fabrication, but the electronic wizardy that’s been employed to make the whole thing work in the first place. The heart of this is a MaxxECU engine management system, and whilst it does the normal things that ECUs do with regards to engine duties, it also supplies huge amounts of data to the large electronic screen situated behind the steering wheel and even allows Joakim to switch from super grippy four-wheel drive, to ultra skiddy rear-wheel drive at the flick of a switch.
    Considering the Escort has been built to contest both drift and regular motorsport events, it’s a brilliantly clever modification and one that we’ve never seen before on a Performance Ford feature car.

    But then, we’ve never seen a car like this before in PF full stop. Yes, we’re aware that it’s lacking its original Cosworth components and for some, this will always be a step too far, but we reckon that in this instance it doesn’t really matter. Think of this Escort as a source of inspiration, proof of what can be achieved with just a cold garage, lots of late nights and a sheer bloody-mindedness to see a dream project car through to completion. So grab yourself a second hand welder and get to it…

    TECH SPEC Ford-Escort / #Ford-Escort-Cosworth / Fifth generation / #Ford-Escort-MkV
    ENGINE: Audi 2.5-litre diesel block, JE pistons and #H-section rods, CrMo flywheel, ported Audi 20v turbo 7a head, #VAG coil pack conversion, Cat cams, bronze guides, #Supertech valves, #CrMo retainers, dual valve springs, Precision 6466 billet roller bearing turbo, Precision 46mm wastegate, Tial dump valve, custom dry sump, CP-S stainless exhaust manifold, CP-S inlet manifold, #Accufab throttle, #MaxxECU engine management, rear mounted radiator, dry sump tank and fuel cell, 904hp at the hubs, 752lb/ft

    TRANSMISSION: Electronically adjustable 4WD system allowing for full rear wheel drive or 50/50 four wheel drive, R33 Skyline ‘box with Pftizner Performance ‘dog engagement’ gear set and modified transfer box, Nissan S14 rear cradle with adjustable trailing arms, custom prop and driveshafts, Skyline differentials, custom trailing arms, knife edge anti-roll bar.

    BRAKES: #Alcon 6–pots with 356mm discs (front), Skyline GT-R 2-pot #Brembo s with 320mm discs at rear

    Suspension: custom front suspension with #GAZ-Gold adjustable dampers, Nissan S14 rear sub-frame with Cosworth spec #GAZ Gold adjustable dampers at rear.

    CHASSIS: #1994 Escort Cosworth, semi-tubular chassis at rear with #Nissan-S14 subframe, poly windows Interior: full weld-in custom roll cage, custom centre console, custom pedal box, Sparco Lico seats, Sparco plumbed in fire system, hydraulic handbrake.

    EXTERIOR: Audi Ibis white Wheels: Nissan hubs, 8.5x18-inch #Toora alloys, #Maxxis Ma-Z1 tyres.
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    Retro muscle: M3-powered #BMW-E28 . Daily Express. A finely-fettled #E28 5 Series fitted with an #S50 #M3 engine and six-speed gearbox to boot. With period perfect looks there’s nothing to give the game away that this E28 happens to be packing over 320hp from an M3 engine and matching six-speed gearbox… Words: Simon Holmes. Photography: Laurens Parsons.

    There’s something rather wonderful about a well-executed engine conversion, especially on an older car. The idea of transforming a conventional, run-of-the-mill model from the past into something exceptional by today’s standards demonstrates a unique sense of creativity and innovation. Of course, the real trick is tailoring the package to harmonise together and, truth be told, it can be a tricky formula to nail.

    This E28 seems to tick all the right boxes though. It looks virtually standard in every way both inside and out, yet there are small, understated touches inkeeping with the original theme, such as the wheels and seats. But beneath the bodywork is where it gets really interesting. Supplying the power is a 3.2-litre S50 engine from an E36 M3 Evo, producing over 320hp, and it’s coupled to a modern six-speed gearbox. With a mix of modified M parts and upgraded underpinnings to match, the 1980s 5 Series is brought firmly up-to-date and for the owner, James Cherrington, it also makes for an ideal daily driver and family car.

    James is the man behind JFI Classic Cars, a successful restoration business that specialises in BMWs. James appeared in this magazine before when we featured his 2002 back in September 2013. Although James’ beloved classic BMW was thoroughly modernised with fuel injection and uprated running gear, the stiff ride, roll-cage and lack of rear seats had made it whole lot less usable than he had intended for it to be. James soon found he couldn’t enjoy the car with his family and, not long after the feature, he decided to sell it.

    This left a project car-sized hole in his life and it was James’ wife who proposed the idea of trying a different route next time around. “She suggested building a car I could take the whole family out in, “ tells James. “Something more comfortable that I could use every day but still have some fun with or even take on track if I wanted to.” The concept appealed to James but with a taste for older BMWs he wanted something a little different to the average modern-day mile-muncher. Fortunately he didn’t have to look particularly far for the project base car as the ideal candidate just happened to be waiting patiently in his barn: an E28 528i.

    Being a man firmly in touch with the classic #BMW scene James had purchased the standard and original car around three years ago for no other reason than it was cheap and in very good condition. “I wasn’t looking for one, I just saw it advertised and it looked very clean. So I phoned the owner and bought it. I had it collected and delivered to me without even seeing it. It was almost a spur of the moment thing really,” tells James. The tidy Five was then, rather unceremoniously, stored in the barn for safekeeping until the right time presented itself. It spent the next year or so there but when the 2002 was sold, James knew it was time to bring the car out of hibernation.

    Whilst the E28 formed a firm footing for the project, the other key ingredients were still to be determined but then James had a brainwave. He’d previously owned various other BMWs, including a fine example of an E36 M3 Evo, and although it was perhaps a little too new for his liking the car made quite an impression. “I loved the combination of that engine with that gearbox,” he recalls. “So I decided it was a good idea to put that package in the 5 Series. It also seemed like a cheap way to more power. Where else could you get over 320hp for the money?”

    With a plan now gathering pace the hunt began for a suitable M3 to harvest the engine and gearbox from. After some searching for a bargain buy, James came across what seemed like the ideal donor in a cheap convertible. He promptly rushed up to see the car and, in doing so, made a grave error that actually worked out rather well for him! “The car was a quite a few miles away but I was in such a rush to see it I didn’t even think to ask if it was a manual!” he says. “When I got there I saw it was an SMG I said to the owner that I was sorry for wasting his time as it wasn’t what I was looking for.” However, keen to sell the car quickly, the owner asked James what he was prepared to offer him anyway. Although he didn’t really want the car at this point James gave a lowball figure and the seller ended up accepting. The hard top roof and remaining tax and MoT further sweetened the deal.

    The last piece to the puzzle was yet another donor car, this time a cheap E34 520i, which would yield a few essentials for the conversion, such as the sump and pick-up pipe. With the cars then stripped of their appropriate parts James gave the S50 M3 engine a thorough freshen up by treating it to new gaskets, oil and water pumps and uprated con rod bolts. The SMG transmission was retained but sent off to be converted over to manual engagement, as only the clutch and gear change operation are different. “It also made sense as I knew the gearbox hadn’t had a hard life having never been over-revved or crunched,” tells James.

    Bolted together and fitted with the correct sump it was then a matter of sliding the refreshed combo in the awaiting E28 shell. Unfortunately it wasn’t as simple as it sounds. “I thought it would be easier than it was. The gearbox was bigger than I realised and that proved to be a problem as I wanted to keep the transmission tunnel standard,” admits James. “So a lot of work went into mounting the engine and gearbox as low as possible to give clearance at the top the tunnel. It’s a little lower than I wanted really and the engine mounts are perhaps stiffer than I would have liked but it fits in there nicely now.”

    A custom-made exhaust system was fabricated for the car and Dave at Astbury Motorworks made a great job of the wiring as James wasn’t used to that side of things, having dealt mainly in simpler 2002s! A Walbro fuel pump was fitted in the existing tank to supply the fuel and a single-mass flywheel conversion installed to improve response and reduce weight. Once the engine and gearbox were in position James turned his attention to the rest of the car. Wanting a firm but comfortable ride and careful not to follow the same route as his previous 2002, #GAZ-Gold coilovers were installed as a way to allow the ride height and comfort levels to be easily altered when required. “I couldn’t run it too low for the road but this way I could still adjust it for track use. It’s also polybushed on Powerflex Black Series track bushes. I did try the yellow ones but it was too soft and there’s surprisingly little noise or vibration from them,” James says. He also used his superior brand knowledge when it came to the rear trailing arm bushes, which are now fitted with the items from a 3.8-litre E34 M5. “These were one of very few BMWs to use spherical bearings. They don’t use any rubber and required a bit of machining to make them work as they are an interference fit but they are really good and work even for this as a road car,” James adds.

    The brakes to complete the package are also from an E34 M5, both front and back, but these were subjected to a full rebuild and overhaul by James before fitting.

    With the hidden underpinnings firmly in place it then came to the finishing touches elsewhere. James’s approach was very much ‘less is more’. “I didn’t want anything on display. It’s not that I particularly wanted to build a sleeper, I just like the look of these cars as they are so I left it as it was. The plus side is that people don’t tend to realise what it is,” James explains.

    The wheels were one thing that had to be changed as the original metric items didn’t provide many tyre options, so James sourced these perfectly-suited 16-inch Style 5 replacements wrapped in a modern and grippy tyre. “I wanted it to look like a standard car so these were ideal. It’s hard to tell they aren’t original really and the tyres are excellent, which helps as they are only 235mm wide,” says James.

    For the last few remaining parts James then bought himself yet another donor car in the shape of a tired E28 525e. The car happened to have a few hard-tofind parts that would suit the project perfectly, such as the rare large-case LSD and interior trim. “I basically bought the car just for the sports seats, which are very rare and must have been an option. They were mint and even the right colour, too! The Germanmade #VDO gauges are from a 1980s Audi. I like them as they just look right. Other than that it’s all standard inside. It was a well-spec’d car anyway with an electric sunroof, rear blinds and ABS.”

    The project took about two years to finish as James only worked on the car when he could afford the time, as spare time is virtually non-existent in his line of work. He has since covered around 2000 miles in the car and drove it through the winter, proving its practicality. “The kids and wife love it and it drives like a normal car still. The only problem it had was a small electrical issue when I first got it running where the reverse switch was connected to the wrong sensor so the reverse lights came on in sixth gear! Other than that it’s been good really, but it was always going to be right as it’s been built properly,” James relates.

    James reports the S50 engine works well in the shell and the performance it offers can’t be beaten as a package, especially when the other options are taken into consideration. “It looks at home in the engine bay and it was much cheaper than modifying an M50 to make the power. The S38 M5 engine was an option but it’s a little long in the tooth now and the S50 is reasonably cheap to buy and offers good value. It’s a versatile engine, too, and I like the way they drive. The car goes a lot like an E36 Evo as it’s the same sort of weight and it puts the power down really well,” he says.

    But whilst the engine was a good idea James admits that the six-speed gearbox was perhaps more effort than it was worth in some ways: “Looking back, it was a lot of work for not that much gain really. If I were doing it again I’d use the five-speed to avoid the trouble it caused. I never thought about changing it though as once I was committed I wanted to finish it.” Despite James’ otherwise obvious delight with the #E28 he says it may soon be up for sale in order to make space for another family car he’s also been building up slowly on the side, this time a rather special 2002 Touring that’s nearing completion. There’s also a supercharged 2002 track car on the way and if either turn out anything like his previous cars then there’s a good chance we will be seeing more of him soon…

    JFI Classic Cars
    Tel: 07966 440609
    Web: www. jficlassiccars. co. uk

    “The car goes a lot like an E36 Evo as it’s the same sort of weight and it puts the power down really well”
    Interior is virtually just as BMW intended, although sports seats were a rare find, especially as they happened to be finished in the same colour!

    DATA FILE BMW E28 S50 engined

    ENGINE & GEARBOX: 3.2-litre #S50B32 and six-speed gearbox from E36 M3 Evo, custom-made stainless exhaust system, Walbro fuel pump, standard radiator.

    CHASSIS: GAZ Gold coilovers, adjustable top mounts, Powerflex Black Series bushes, E35 M5 rear trailing arm bushes, 3.64 large case differential with factory LSD option.

    BRAKES: E34 M5 discs and callipers all round with uprated vented rear discs.

    WHEELS & TYRES: 16-inch Style 5 alloy wheels with Toyo tyres.

    INTERIOR: Recaro Sports seats, VDO additional gauges.

    EXTERIOR: Standard.

    THANKS: Dave at Astbury Motorworks for the wiring.

    Style 5 wheels were chosen as they look very much like the original metric items. The new wheels are wrapped in much stickier Toyo tyres and James reports it puts down the power very well.
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