- Post is under moderationBlast from the Past. We don our rose-tinted specs and sample Hartge’s 5.0 V8 E53 X5… it’s still a hoot to drive. It’s been a while since we drove an E53 generation X5 but this Hartge-fettled example reminded us what was so great about the original V8-engined softroader. Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Gus Gregory.
We may well be on the third iteration of the X5 softroader, or Sports Activity Vehicle, as #BMW still insist on calling it, but there’s something that’s still rather wonderful about the original E53 incarnation. In the right colour and sitting on the right alloys it’s still a pretty good-looking piece of kit that has aged well, although conversely in the wrong colour and on the smaller wheels it does also show its age. I still have a pretty soft spot for the car – a wonderful, if slightly expensive to run, workhorse in 3.0d form, and hilariously quick and well-mannered in the fruitier V8 varieties. Even after all these years one of my favourite car launches was the face-lift E53 X5 over in South Carolina riding the Blue Ridge mountains in a raunchy V8. Stunning scenery, hospitable locals and a great car to be let loose in.
Even today in my slightly madder moments I can’t help but have a quick trawl of used X5 values (usually in their brawniest factory 4.6iS and 4.8iS formats) so when the chance came up to sample the wildest of X5s this side of the one-off X5 Le Mans I jumped at the chance. The car in question is a Hartge 5.0-litre X5, fully converted when new by Hartge and its UK agent Birds. I can still remember sampling Hartge’s demonstrator out in Germany back in 2002 and finding it hilariously entertaining to punt along with prodigious shove from the fully-fettled Hartge V8 accompanied by a fruity NASCAR-style soundtrack.
On a recent visit to Birds’ Iver HQ to sample its divine 435d xDrive that you can read about elsewhere in the issue we spotted this dark green example, looking ever so slightly incongruous in amongst the more modern fare. One often has the chance to sample heavily modified BMWs when they’re new, but to come across one 15 years down the line is a rare treat and we couldn’t pass up the chance to sample this car to see how it has stood the test of time. Would it live up to my fond memories of the model, or would it be a huge disappointment?
Before we put the pedal to the metal though it’s probably worth having a quick recap as to what exactly went into this Hartge X5 conversion. At its heart was an engine conversion that took the V8 to 4930cc thanks to an increase in bore (by 2mm) and stroke (up 6.1mm) to develop figures of 380hp and 376lb ft of torque, good enough to propel this brick on wheels to 150mph while knocking off the benchmark 0-62mph dash in a smidgen under six seconds. It wasn’t just about a capacity increase though as there was a bespoke Hartge exhaust with four howitzer-sized tailpipes and to ensure it handled the extra power the chassis came in for some upgrades, too. There were stiffer anti-roll bars and a Hartge suspension set up that lowered the car by around 30mm to ensure that the big SAV’s bulk was kept in check when pushing on.
Rounding off the package was a styling kit that included a hugely aggressive front apron and a very sexy set of 22-inch rims. Even today 22s are pretty big, but 15 years ago these really were something to write home about. And it would seem that the past 15 years have been pretty kind to this particular X5 and it’s still in excellent condition as befits a car that’s covered less than 50k miles during its life. It’s also benefited from a few pleasant upgrades such as an M3 steering wheel complete with paddle-shift gear change and a well-integrated aftermarket sat nav and entertainment system in place of the outdated standard fit nav screen.
The proof of the pudding though is in the driving and simply twisting the key (remember keys – a joy to use after the modern fad of keyless go and push button starts) elicits a wonderful throaty roar from the rear of the car before it settles down into a bassy idle that’s just a tad more menacing than the regular X5 V8. Trundling away from Birds the X5 is certainly eager to get a move on and feels a little bit like a caged tiger prowling the streets. On rougher roads those gumball wheels and tyres do make the car fidget quite a bit and be under no illusion that this machine will provide a billiard smooth ride, but despite this the X5 starts to wheedle its way under your skin, making you smile every time you prod the loud pedal and grin a little as it tries to take off into the next county.
Crusing up the motorway to our shoot location and the X5 garners plenty of glances from other motorists and that bold front end styling that Hartge gave to the car proves to be very effective at clearing slower moving traffic from your path as other drivers seem to be convinced the X5 is simply going to Hoover them up through the huge air intakes. If we were to let it off the leash it feels like it would still hit its 150mph maximum, but that’s a game best not played on the M40 so we make do with entertaining ourselves once we reach the backroads.
On A roads and fast B roads it’s a real hoot to punt along, feeling pretty rapid in isolation, no doubt a feeling partially assisted by the wonderful V8 soundtrack. Its outright speed is to a certain extent put into context by the 435d that I’m chasing, but as you can read elsewhere in the issue that machine is insanely fast. The X5 corners pretty well too – grip is never an issue thanks to the huge footprint and the four-wheel drive, but when the roads get rougher and more bumpy you do end up being a little more circumspect as those big wheels can upset the ride to quite a degree.
Overall though the Hartge 5.0 X5 still convinces as well as it did back in 2002. This one has been lovingly looked after and seems to be in fine fettle. If you’re after the ultimate X5 pop along to Birds and give it the once over, you won’t be disappointed.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE: #2002 / #BMW-Hartge / #BMW-X5-5.0 / #BMW / #Hartge / #BMW-X5 / #BMW-X5-E53 / #BMW-E53 / #BMW-E53-Hartge / #BMW-X5-Hartge / #BMW-X5-Hartge-E53 / #Hartge-X5-5.0 / #Hartge-X5-5.0-E53
ENGINE: #V8 32-valve / #M62 / #BMW-M62
MAX POWER: 380hp / DIN
MAX TORQUE: 376lb ft / DIN
TOP SPEED: 150mph
0-62MPH: 5.9 seconds
Contact Birds where the car is for sale for more information
CONTACT: Birds Garage
Tel: 01753 657444 Web: www.birdsgarage.co.ukStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationThis BMW-E30 may appear relatively unassuming, but to the trained eye there are clues that all is not as it seems. No-one, however, will be expecting the self-styled 360i’s firepower…
WILD CARD: BMW E30 WORDS DAN BEVIS / PHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS FROSIN 360 Kickflip 800BHP 5.8-litre E30!
/ #BMW-E30-V8 / #BMW-E30-GM-V8 / #BMW-360i-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-360i / #BMW-E30-800bhp / OK, #BMW didn’t make a 360i. But a chap called Ross did and it has two turbos, 800bhp and 5.8-litre engine!
One of the questions I hear most often is ‘How did you get that in there?’” grins Ross Bradley, standing proudly beside his gleaming Black Cherry E30, exhaust ticking and pinging after another urgent country lane blast. “And that’s exactly the point – you make things fit. They don’t just go in there on their own.” That very much sums up Ross’s outlook on life.
The joy of the project is as much in the build as the driving. ‘Built, not bought’ is a common phrase on the scene these days. Modifiers who’ve solely achieved their goals in the confines of a single garage with just a cup of tea and a crackly radio for company are rightly proud to wear their achievements on their sleeve. That’s not to sideline the opposing ‘bought, not built’ crowd, of course – we can’t all be experts, and there’s a whole flourishing industry set up to serve such purposes. But Ross’s history is very much hands-on, and that has informed this creation. He fancied doing stuff. Then he did it. It really is that simple.
“I’ve always been toying with cars ever since I was little, being brought up with my dad building Yanks and hot rods,” he says. “I remember helping my dad build his Ford Pop when I was about seven years old, always doing what I could. With every car I’ve owned I’ve always had to rebuild something, be it the engine or interior for whatever reason, to make it better or make it my own.” And this is the case with the E30. The reasons for calling it a ‘360i’ will become apparent in due course. Suffice to say it’s very far from being a bone-stock 1980s three-box.
“I always liked the E30,” Ross ponders. “I was going to get one for my first car when I started driving, but was talked out of it due to running and repair costs at the time. This was the late ’90s, so I went the Ford route and ended up having numerous Escort RS Turbos and so on.”
Fast-forward to 2006, however, and we see that starry-eyed yearning of youth starting to come full circle. “I was out working and I saw this car on someone’s drive,” he recalls. “It had been sat there for about four years – it was a 320i, the body was in pretty good shape, although it had moss growing up the side of it, flat tyres, the usual. I offered the owner some money for it and he took it right away… I bought it for £275.”
Game on, then. A childhood dream fulfilled and pretty cheaply too. All Ross had to do now was to make it his own. But he wasn’t going to rush into anything, he’d been waiting long enough to realise his E30 ambition so there was no need to charge in like a bull in the proverbial porcelain emporium. He used the car as a daily driver for a few years, doing bits and pieces here and there as he saw fit. New wheels, an M-Tech 2 kit, swapping the 2.0-litre motor for a 2.5. But then it all started to get a bit hairy. Suddenly that idea of doing it ‘cheaply’ wasn’t going to cut the mustard any more. It was time to commit, and commit hard.
“About four years in I took it off the road and gave it a major overhaul,” he says. “New paint, new interior, suspension, wheels, brakes, the works. And I built the engine into a 2.5 turbo.” Of course, as your eager magpie eye will have probably spotted, that’s not the spec that the car enjoys today. You will no doubt have glanced over to the engine bay shots and spied quite a lot of cylinders in there. So just what the hell happened next?!
“I used it like that for a few more years, until about four years ago when I again took it off the road and swapped out the motor for the Chevy V8,” says Ross, casually, as if that’s a perfectly normal thing to do. “It took me a further two years to build it from there; it was always going to be boosted right from the start - and then I had it on the road until, after a few problems last year with a couple of fires due to burst hoses, oil leaks, and turbos eating bearings, I’d had enough of the niggles. So last winter I took it off the road again and had another major overhaul!”
OK. While you catch your breath and try to take in the sheer majesty of the spec list, let’s distil it down to the base elements: Ross is running a small-block V8 bored out to 5.8-litres (near as dammit to six litres, hence why he calls the car ‘360i’) with a massively juicy fuelling system, a pair of turbos that originally called an Iveco truck home, the sort of brutal internals more commonly found on drag cars, and a peak power figure somewhere around the 800bhp mark. Given the 1,300kg-odd kerb weight, that gives the car a similar power-to-weight figure to a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport – around 590bhp/tonne. All this from a reliable 3 Series built by one man in his garage.
“During the most recent overhaul, I remade the exhaust manifolds and downpipes, and replaced the turbos with a set of Holset HX35s, and then got them ceramic coated,” says Ross. “I also sold my old red leather interior and put a new one together, with Recaro CS front seats and an E30 M3 rear bench, all custom-retrimmed by Lawrence at LG Trimming in north London.”
While this car is all-motor on the face of it, the interior is one of our favourite elements. With the astonishing attention to detail going on under the bonnet it’d be easy to turn this E30 into a stripped-out drag monster, jettisoning anything that’d add unsavoury weight.
So we love that Ross has brightened up his day-to-day commute with such a flawlessly executed and fashion-forward cabin. “With the interior sorted, me and my dad stripped the car down and repainted it in Black Cherry Candy, and after refitting with all new BMW window rubbers and so on it’s now what you see today… all the work apart from the interior was done by me, everything hand-made in my garage. So anything that I needed to make this work, I had to fabricate, as you couldn’t buy it off the shelf – the engine mounts, chopped-out rear end, remade gearbox mounts, you name it.”
What Ross has created here is arguably the ultimate stealth weapon. Those who aren’t in on the secret may find themselves drawn to the car simply because it’s so beautifully presented. But there’s little to suggest anything’s radically altered aside from the subtle clues of the flared arches and front-mount intercooler. Indeed, peering through the window and spying that interior may convince you that it’s a mere show-pony. “That’s very much not the case,” laughs Ross. “I drive it as much as I can.” And with Bugatti-shaming power, wouldn’t you? It’s safe to say this car gets a pretty hard time on a regular basis.
“I just love it,” he smiles, with the satisfaction of a job well done.
“Most of my friends think I’m mental. But you only live once!”
Ross is running a small-block V8 bored out to 5.8-litres.
The car has a similar power-to-weight figure as a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.
Recaro CS front seats and an E30 M3 rear bench, all custom-retrimmed.
You’ve put quite a lot of work into this, then?
“Yeah, the amount of time I’ve put into it… I couldn’t put into numbers, really. It’s years. Years and years of hard labour!”
Not really a budget build either, given the massive spec?
“Ha! No, I’ve always thrown what I’ve got at it. It’s taken everything I have.”
All plain sailing, though?
“No real dramas. Couple of fires, turbos letting go, oil leaks… That’s just customising, isn’t it? There were points when I thought ‘It’ll never get done, never see the road,’ but I got it there. You’ve just got to keep pushing, haven’t you?”
TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATIONS: BMW E30 #GM-V8
STYLING Resprayed in Black Cherry Candy; rear arches flared and rewelded; M-Tech 2 BMW Sport body kit; front valance modified for intercooler.
TUNING Early Chevrolet small-block #V8 rebored 0.030in to 5.8-litre; GM forged crank; #ARP main studs; #Eagle H-section forged conrods; #Clevite big end bearings; Probe oversized forged pistons; Melling high-volume oil pump; ported and polished alloy heads; Manley severe-duty stainless steel swirl-polished oversized valves (2.02in inlet, 1.6in exhaust); #Edelbrock valve springs with titanium retainers; Cloyes double roller timing gear and chain; Clevite cam bearings; Comp Cams 256/263-degree blower cam and lifters; Edelbrock magnum chrome moly pushrods; Comp Cams 1.5:1 alloy roller rockers; #Brodix rocker covers, ARP hardware (rocker arm studs, intake manifold bolts, sump bolts, timing cover bolts, engine mount bolts, exhaust header bolts, crank pulley bolts, bellhousing bolts); ARP oil pump driveshaft; custom engine mounts; hand-built custom turbo headers and downpipes; twin Holset HX35 turbos with 12cm² turbines; twin Tial 44mm wastegates; two-stage boost control; handbuilt custom twin 3in turbo-back exhaust with Simons silencer; custom intercooler; Tial 50mm dump valve; Edelbrock Pro-floinlet and matching fuel rails; Pro Comp 90mm throttle body; 770cc injectors; swirl pot with high-flow in-tank lift pump; twin Bosch 044 engine feed pumps; Torques pressure regulator; March serpentine pulley kit; Pro Cool alloy radiator; Megasquirt ECU; Ford Ka coil packs; fully lightened and balanced flywheel and rotating assembly; Toyota Supra Mk3 R154 gearbox with custom Chevy bellhousing adaptor – rebuilt and uprated with Marlin Crawler thrust washer; billet bearing retainer and selector forks; McLeod hydro clutch release bearing; ARP clutch bolts; Spec R Stage 4+ full-face paddle clutch; alloy fluid reservoir; Cube short shifter; custom propshaft; E28 M5 210mm LSD with 3.07 final drive and M3 Evo twinear rear mount; custom rear crossmember; custom driveshafts with UJs; custom gearbox crossmember.
CHASSIS 9x17in #ET25 (front) and 10x17in ET20 (rear) #Hartge polished three-piece wheels; 215/40 (f) and 235/40 (r) #Federal-RSR tyres; custom billet aluminium centre caps; modified front crossmember for engine clearance; reinforced rear beam; E36 M3 front anti-roll bar with custom mounts and rose-jointed droplinks; reinforced rear trailing arms; custom rear strut brace tied into custom rear diff mounting bar; #Gaz-GHA coilovers; #GAZ adjustable front top mounts; stainless steel steering linkage joints and custom linkage; steering rack moved 20mm forwards; alloy power steering reservoir and custom lines; in-car brake servo conversion using Renault Clio servo; VW Sharan brake master cylinder; AP Racing six-pot front callipers and 330mm discs; five-lug conversion using E36 and Z3 hubs; Porsche Brembo six-pot rear callipers; Apec Z3 rear discs.
INTERIOR Full custom retrim in Ruby Red nappa leather and black Alcantara; Recaro CS front seats with custom rails; E30 M3 rear bench in nappa leather with quilted design; doorcards in black Alcantara with quilted nappa leather inserts; dash, centre console, glovebox, handbrake, gear gaiter and roof lining in black Alcantara with matching stitching – by Lawrence at LG Trimming in Enfield, London.
THANKS Thanks to Shaun at V8 Developments for the wiring and mapping; Dad for helping me paint it; and Lawrence at LG Trimming for the retrim.
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- While you lot usually love to hate anything wearing a BMW badge that doesn’t have a BMW engine under the bonnet, in the case of Ross Bradley’s twin-tuWhile you lot usually love to hate anything wearing a BMW badge that doesn’t have a BMW engine under the bonnet, in the case of Ross Bradley’s twin-turbo Chevrolet V8-engined E30, you just loved it as it is your 2016 Performance BMW Car of the Year.
The engineering that’s gone into building this absolute beast of a machine, all of it done by Ross himself, is both mind-blowing and eye-watering in equal measure. The fully built, rebored Chevy small block V8 now sits at 5.82-litres and has been bolstered with a pair of Garrett T04E turbos resulting in a staggering 880hp. Fully polished 17” three-piece Hartges sit under widened rear arches, there’s a fully removable carbon bonnet, while the red Sport interior adds a bold splash of colour. You might not approve of that V8 swap, but this is such an impressive build that it’s impossible to hate. More ...
- Post is under 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 moderationHIDDEN STRENGTH
With its subtle looks, this 135i can slip under the radar, which is handy as it’s got 460whp on tap. This 135i might look fairly ordinary but appearances can be deceptive and there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye… Words and photos: Chris Nicholls.
Disappointment is sometimes a powerful motivator. Sports teams that lose the championship one year have been known to turn that negative feeling into a springboard that pushes them to win it the next. So it was with Pete Agas and his 135i.
Initially, he wanted a 1M Coupé, but only 200 came to Australia and he missed out on the allocation. He didn’t let that get him down, though. Instead, he purchased an E82 135i and used the leftover funds to change almost every mechanical component to make it much faster than a stock 1M ever was.
The story begins back in late 2012, when he first purchased this Alpine white example fresh from the dealer. Having been inspired to tune cars ever since his youth (when watching Stephen Spielberg’s debut feature – Duel – made him think about tuning cars so he could outrun a psychotic truck driver), Pete wasn’t going to leave it untouched for long, and after posting a few pictures of it in its factory state on his online build thread (complete with the caption: ‘stock… yuck’), he started to modify it to suit his tastes.
As for those tastes? “I build, tune and customise my vehicles for performance over appearance,” he says, and as you can see, the finished car reflects that. APEX ARC-8 wheels, StopTech BBK, #Hartge silencer and M Performance carbon bits aside, there is no indication from the outside that this machine puts out 460whp at low boost and pounds around race tracks with ease. Even looking under the bonnet yields nothing to the casual observer, and unless they were looking hard, enthusiasts would only spot the AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 intake and M Performance Power Kit 2 as well. Almost everything that means anything is hidden on this build, and that’s the way Pete likes it, especially as it makes it that much easier to goad other, supposedly faster, cars into a little challenge. “I frequently drive around the South Yarra area in Victoria where there are plenty of beautiful Porsches. I may have completely decimated a couple of them in a quick squirt contest…” he says with a grin.
Of course, his E82 didn’t become this fast overnight. Indeed, having missed out on a 1M, he initially wanted just to match that car’s handling, with pure grunt not really on the radar. And even then, for the first year, Pete only drove it around with limited mods. An M Performance exhaust and exterior bits and some Rays G25 wheels upped the game from stock, but they were hardly going to help Pete reach even his initial goal. That’s why, after that 12 months, he started amassing E9x M3 suspension parts in bulk, along with other bits and pieces, so he could be ready for the next stage.
Those E9x parts included sway bars, control arms, bushings, camber link kit and strut tower brace, to which he added Swift springs. Having basically matched the 1M’s key suspension elements, Pete then moved onto the brakes, with M Performance discs, Cool Carbon brake pads and Hard Braking front titanium shims. For a little extra grunt, he added the aforementioned Power Kit 2 and controlled it via a Quaife 3.08 helical LSD in a VAC finned, clear anodised cover. A Burger Motorsports clutch delay valve and clutch stop helped in the driveline department as well. Finally, a few extra M Performance exterior and interior parts helped round it off. Until the most recent major upgrades, the diff was actually Pete’s favourite component as it improved traction no end. “The LSD just puts the power down without the e-Diff having a field day. It was easily the most notable change when driving the car back home from the workshop for the first time.” The fact the Quaife diff works with the stock traction control is a bonus, too, even if Pete doesn’t need it in the dry.
Now, you might think at this stage, having reached his initial goal, Pete would be satisfied and call it a day. After all, he had already created a very quick, but still very usable road car. However, the fact you see this rather faster beast before you shows he wasn’t done. What prompted him to go further were two new discoveries. Firstly, having gone this far into the BMW tuning world, he’d found a “huge amount of aftermarket potential within the BMW brand”, as well as a highly supportive and knowledgeable community to go with it.
Secondly, having built a track-oriented car, Pete was hardly likely to keep it purely on the road, and a visit to Phillip Island one day proved rather comprehensively that while strong, his build wasn’t perfect.
“I quickly discovered the platform needed brakes and cooling,” Pete tells us. “I also learned very quickly of the possibility of a spun rod bearing when pushing wet-sumped platforms on the track, so I quickly picked up an oil pan baffle to prevent this from happening to me.”
Having discovered these weaknesses, Pete also bolted on an oil cooler and decided that even the upgraded brakes he had weren’t going to cut it. So, as part of the final stage of mods, he purchased a StopTech BBK, with ST60 six-pot calipers on the front and ST40 four pots on the rears, matched with StopTech’s own Street Performance pads.
These clamp down on with Trophy Sport two-piece slotted discs to provide a significant upgrade in braking ability. Indeed, these are now Pete’s new favourite parts. “The new brakes not only look great, but they have an amazing pedal feel, are completely modular and replaceable and have a huge range of available pads.”
That they sit this high in his estimation is a big endorsement, given the rest of the upgrades he fitted at this stage. In the engine bay, he installed a Pure N55 Stage 2 turbo, an AR Design downpipe, Maddad midpipes and the aforementioned Hartge silencer on the hot side. He also fitted the previously mentioned AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 intake, an ETS five-inch intercooler and lower charge pipe, an Evolution Raceworks black anodised chargepipe and GFB N55 diverter valve upgrade on the cool side. Unsurprisingly, given the company’s reputation, a Dinan Stage 3 135iS tune controls the lot.
To further enhance the car’s abilities on the track, Pete also added Dinan Racing adjustable rear toe arms, Dinan front control arm bushings, Turner Motorsport solid aluminium rear subframe bushings and Ohlins Road and Track dampers. Finally, some sticky Hankook RS-3s on those handsome APEX ARC-8 wheels put all the power to the ground.
The results are quite startling. Given the sticky rubber and LSD, you’d think traction wouldn’t be a problem, but with TC off, Pete was able to spin up the wheels well into third gear on our short spot-shoot drive. “This is with the turbo at 15psi, remember,” Pete reminds us. “It’s capable of 27 or even 30psi. Frankly, I think it’d be undriveable on the street like that. I would need drag slicks or something.”
He’s probably right. The biggest impact, though, came from the fact that the power just kept on coming. Starting from around 3000rpm, it genuinely didn’t stop until very close to the redline. Owners of modern, well-tuned turbo cars will no doubt be nodding along to this in recognition, but for those who haven’t experienced such a longlasting rush, it’s quite the memorable event.
Thankfully, all of Pete’s suspension changes keep the car a lot more pinned to the ground, even if traction is a bit of an issue. It’s firm, no doubt, but even the harsh, sharp-edged bumps on Melbourne’s often lumpen roads didn’t jar particularly. It’s a testament to both the quality of the parts and Pete’s careful selections. “I like to think with the right amount of planning and research, most, if not all risks [when building a car] can be mitigated,” he says knowingly. “I checked, re-checked and triple-checked the parts that were chosen for the car and I paid very close attention to their fitment and quality before proceeding with the purchase. That research, coupled with the highly talented team over at SouthernBM (his chosen workshop), made the process easy.”
So, having now built a sleeper that can not just match a 1M but surpass it in every measure (bar width), is Pete satisfied? Is he done? Of course he isn’t. Soon after the shoot, he fitted some Kerscher 1Mstyle front wings and eventually, plans to turn it into a roadregistered track car, complete with rear seat delete, half-cage, Recaro Pole Positions, lithiumion battery, Evolution of Speed N55 manifold, E85 tune and carbon bonnet.
This would leave him without a daily driver, though, so what gives? Well, on 14 October last year, Pete watched the livestream as #BMW introduced the M2, and soon after, strode into his local dealership and ordered a manual one in Long Beach blue. We guess he never did get over the disappointment of the 1M after all…
StopTech ST60 front BBK boasts 355mm discs and six-pot calipers, necessary when you’ve got 460whp to play with.
DATA FILE #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-E82 /
ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six turbo #N55B30 / #N55 / #BMW-N55 , #M-Performance-Power-Kit-2 , #Pure-Stage-2 N55-turbo, Pure N55 inlet pipe, Evolution Racewerks N55 Type III Hard Anodised Black charge pipe, #AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 N55 intake, ETX 5” FMIC with lower chargepipe, GFB N55 diverter valve upgrade, #AR-Design N55 catted downpipe with ceramic coating, Maddad midpipes, Hartge quad-exhaust outlet silencer, 42 Draft Designs O2 sensor spacer, Dinan High Capacity oil cooler, Burger Motorsports oil catch can, JB4 ISO 5.9 with flex fuel wires - Map 6, Dimple Magnetic sump plug, Walbro 455 E85 Low Pressure Fuel Pump, Dinan Stage 3 Performance Engine Software map, VAC Motorsports N54 oil pan baffle
TRANSMISSION Standard six-speed manual transmission, Burger Motorsports modified clutch valve, Burger Motorsports Short Throw clutch stop, Quaife 3.08 helical LSD, VAC Motorsports finned differential cover (clear anodised), Dimple Magnetic transmission plug (x2), Turner Motorsport Delrin differential bushings, E46 M3 transmission bushings
CHASSIS 8.5x18” ET45 (front) and 9.5x18” ET62 (rear) #APEX-ARC-8-Hyper-Black wheels with 235/40 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Hankook Ventus RS-3 tyres, #Apex / #Apex-ARC-8 wheel stud conversion kit, #Project-Kics open-ended lug nuts, BMW E9x M3 strut tower brace, E92 M3 front and rear sway bars, E92 front upper and lower control arms, E92 rear upper control arms, E9x M3 rear lower camber link kit, Ohlins Road and Track dampers with E82 135i 7” 60Nm/MM Swift Springs (front) and E82 1M 9” 120Nm/MM Swift Springs (rear), Swift Thrust Sheets, Ohlins rear damper adjuster extenders, #Vorschlag camber plates, #Dinan-Racing adjustable rear toe arms, #Dinan Monoball front control arm bushings, #Turner-Motorsport aluminium subframe bushings, #StopTech ST60 #BBK with 355x32mm slotted, zinc-coated discs and StopTech Trophy Sport Aerohat hats (front) and #StopTech-ST40-BBK with 345x28mm slotted, zinc-coated discs and Trophy Sport Aerohat hats (rear), StopTech Street Performance pads, StopTech braided brake lines, calipers painted silver
EXTERIOR M Performance front grille in black, M Performance carbon rear lip spoiler, BMW Blackline LCI taillights, 1M mirror conversion, Hartge dual outlet exhaust diffuser PU-RIM in gloss black, Carbon roundel decals, Philips Silver Vision indicator globes, T10 W5W Amber Chrome side indicator globes, Lux H8 V4 LED angel eyes, Final Inspection Rejuvenation Detail and Full Metal Jacket
INTERIOR M Performance aluminium pedals, M Performance Alcantara steering wheel with yellow stripe, M Performance gear knob and Alcantara shift boot, M Performance handbrake handle and Alcantara boot, M Performance interior in carbon, M Performance illuminated door sills, Alcantara binnacle cover, JB4 Bluetooth module with Android integration, Precision LED E82 LED interior package, 35 per cent window tint
THANKS Harold at HP Autosport, Andrew Brien and the crew at SouthernBMStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFOREVER YOUNG
A beautiful bronze E21 rocking Ronals, M5 paint and perfect stance. M5 paint, 15” Ronal wheels, individual styling and a stance to die to for; this E21 is without doubt better than when it left the factory 35 years ago. Words & Photos: Michael Burroughs.
It’s not every day that one can look at a car and honestly say it’s better than the day it rolled off the showroom floor. Nic and Stephanie Foster of Tucson, Arizona, however, can make the claim without hesitation. From E60 M5 paint and Ronal Racing three-piece mag wheels, to a completely custom houndstooth interior, nothing was spared on this car… and that’s just the aesthetics. With an M42 resting under the bonnet and Leda race-spec coilovers suspending the car, there’s little left that remains untouched.
Most people reach an age where they decide investing hard earned cash into a 30-year-old BMW simply isn’t responsible. It’s not that those who say such things can’t enjoy such cars, but it makes for an easy way to separate them from us. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, you decide. True enthusiasts are a rare breed, and finding someone who prefers to restore the lesser-loved BMWs of the era as opposed to a 3.0 CSL or 2002 Tii is something special.
Nic Foster, a 29-year-old mechanical engineer, is one such man. Many ask why someone would put so much effort into such a lowly model. “E21s are not necessarily coveted BMWs to own,” suggests Nic. And while he’s right, even when the Hartge and Alpina counterparts do hold some significance and status, there’s little more in the E21 world that brings guys like Nic in. For him, it’s about doing something different. He’s not one to sit back and watch what others are doing – and he’s not alone in that mindset either.
His wife, Stephanie, has her own ’72 Bavaria. That’s certainly not a car you see hopped-up every day… and with a 3.0-litre with triple side-draft Webers, it certainly fits into that category.
But back to the E21; its journey began as many others – it was first leased, and then bought in 1981 by Nic’s grandmother. He then received the car as a 17th birthday present from his aunt and uncle 13 years ago. “The car was stock. Regular M10, Polaris metallic paint, sunroof, basic blue interior and automatic,” he recalls. Not one to leave things lackluster, Nic started work with a racer’s mindset: the best coilies he could get his hands on, and an M42 (from the E30 318 – a popular engine swap for 2002s and E21s) were rounded up. After three months of working weekends, Nic’s 320i was finally powered by the 1.8-litre motor and coupled with a five-speed manual transmission.
The E21 remained like this well into Nic’s adult life. Once the couple married, Steph wondered what the potential for the car might be. While Nic knew that his project wasn’t finished, he didn’t predict that the car they built would one day grace the pages of a magazine and turn the head of every person it passed.
It wasn’t until ten months ago that Nic’s plan completely changed direction. “From day one it was about autocross. Now I’m more interested in creating a statement. I think cars can tell a story and evoke emotions. What we do with cars is try to make the emotion as strong as possible.” From circuit basher to show stopper, the Fosters decided to bring everything they had to the table and unleash some new life into the E21.
The most striking part of the car is the paintwork. After a lot thought, they decided on the original colour Steph had suggested; Sepang bronze, sprayed by Photofinish in Tucson. It was the perfect match for the lines of the car. An outstanding change from bright gold to dark bronze and brown reveals itself around the car. But paint isn’t the only thing setting its body off. Nic was quick to get rid of the American bumpers in favour of the slimmer European counterpart, and he also swapped the rear panels and boot floor.
“My father and I drilled the spot welds that held the floor in and swapped out the floor. It was quite a bit of work, but we got all four pieces swapped over and lead filled some of the common rust areas so the final product was strong,” he says.
No short cuts have been taken: this 320i is as immaculate as they get. Blacked out bumpers and shadow-line trim, sanded and sprayed by Nic, accentuate the dark tones of the car, something the couple spent a lot of time considering. They went to extraordinary lengths to perfect the trimming on the car, including resealing the windshield with black lock strip instead of painting the factory parts. It’s that level of dedication that separates this E21 from others. Nic explains: “I remember spending hours in the garage with Steph, pulling and replacing the dash and fitting the carpet. She really is an amazing individual – she’s just as dedicated to the car as I am.”
The mag splits that the E21 sits on are the perfect choice for the car and are an interesting story in their own right. “I found the Ronals for sale and started talking to the seller. It’s not everyday they pop up for sale.
But when the seller stopped returning my messages, I panicked. I thought they had been sold to another buyer. No matter what I did he didn’t respond. Then, on my birthday, a huge box arrived at my front door. Steph had purchased them for me as a birthday gift – I nearly passed out! How many wheel geeks actually have a wife that buys rare splits for them?”
Nic and Steph colour-matched the magnesium centers of the Ronals to the body of the car. Widened with Kodiak lips and assembled with custom black hardware, the 8.5x15” and 9x15” Ronals look better than new. Toyo 195/45T1Rs were stretched on to the wheels, matching the custom flaring of the fenders, done by Nic himself with a hammer and dolly. To complete the setup, Nic’s Leda coilovers are wound quite low, with room still left to go. Unavailable in America, Nic opted for the European fourcylinder front end – if only to help let others know that this car isn’t your normal E21.
Steph’s chance to truly work her magic came when it was time to redo the interior of the car. Originally equipped with blue cloth, the pair agreed to go custom. “Steph is really the one to thank for all the interior goodies in the car,” explains Nic. “She sourced the black door panels and back seat, even the carpet kit. She did every piece of houndstooth on the car by hand, wrapped the sun visors, disassembled the door cards, she even shrouded the rear bootlid in the perfect fabric. Steph also cut and wrapped the A-pillars – I just pressed the gaskets over them.” Now finished, the interior is perfect and I doubt anyone could argue with that. Nic isn’t done yet though. He plans to add a supercharger to get the car in the 200bhp range: more than enough to make it break traction.
As for immediate plans, it sounds as though Nic and Steph are ready to tackle the Bavaria. Hopefully they’ll build a car of equal caliber but outdoing this E21 will be a serious challenge. A perfect blend of old and new, Nic and Steph Foster’s Euro-converted 320i has redefined the E21 game entirely.
Not only did Nic’s wife buy the wheels she also helped build it... legend!
DATA FILE #BMW-E21 / #BMW / #BMW-E21-M42 / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-3-Series
ENGINE: 1.8-litre straight-four #M42 / #BMW-M42 / with #Dinan software, cone filter
CHASSIS: 8.5x15” and 9x15” #Ronal-Racing magnesium wheels with colour-matched centres, #Kodiak lips and custom black hardware. #Leda coilovers, #Hartge front strut brace, #TEP rear strut brace
EXTERIOR: Full respray in Sepang bronze, replaced rear sheet metal to Euro-spec including boot floor, European blacked-out bumpers and four-cylinder front end, rear panels and boot floor, shadow-line trim, windshield resealed with black lock strip, flared wheel arches, smoothed rocker
INTERIOR: Black door panels, rear bench and carpet kit, front Integra seats, retrim in houndstooth fabric including front Integra seats, door cards, sun visors, bootlid and A-pillars, battery relocated to boot, Euro green to red tacho
THANKS: My wife Stephanie, dad, my aunt and uncle for giving me the car, Photofinish for the respray, stanceworks and the E21 Legion, the Pima Air and Space Museum and Million Air
An outstanding change from bright gold to dark bronze and brown reveals itself around the car.
1.8-litre from the E30 fits the E21’s bay perfectly and gives it a bit more oomph.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHE MASTERPIECE / #BMW-E21 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E21 / #BMW
This E21 wows with its Euro-look styling, race-inspired interior and E30 M3 Evo 2 S14 under the bonnet. It is a very rare occasion when a modified BMW comes up that simply excels in every area. This German E21 is one such car. Sublime Euro-look, race-style interior, custom boot install and the inspired choice of dropping an S14 E30 M3 Evo 2 engine into the immaculate bay. A masterpiece indeed. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Max Earey.
I’m in love. I never thought it would happen this way, but it has. Yet I regret I’m cheating on another. At home I have my E21: a stylish, attractive and reasonably reliable partner. Yes, she’s let me down a few times, and is a bit ropey around the edges, but she deserves better than this. One short business trip on the continent, one sunny afternoon in the country, and I’ve fallen for a 24-year-old German beauty. A quick look at the automotive pornography on these pages is my only defence. How can this car not be adored by all?
For a start, no BMW from 1982 has a right to look this good. When I say it is immaculate, I mean immaculate. There is not a flaw anywhere on the body, inside the cabin, in the boot or under the bonnet. Even the fuse box is spotlessly clean. You could almost accept a concours original E21 that’s kept in a heated museum 365 days a year to be of this incredible standard, but not one that’s been so brilliantly modified with around treble the power over its factory figure.
Forced induction for this staggering fact? Not in this instance. This car started life as a 1982 BMW 315, a car sold in Germany with the dizzying performance figure of 73bhp. When 35-year-old Michael Pietsch bought the gutless white classic in 1990 – his first car no less – no one could have envisaged the remarkable transformation that would take place over the years. At the heart of the whole operation is the inspired choice of installing an E30 M3 Evo 2’s 2.3-litre S14 engine. The performance difference doesn’t even bare thinking about.
The standard Evo 2 engine is good for 215bhp, and with Michael adding a Hartge engine management chip, Eisenmann E36 M3 exhaust parts and a K&N air filter, he can expect a few more ponies on top of that as well. With around 150 extra horsepower over a standard 315’s output thanks to the engine transplant and upgrades, the little E21 has been transformed into a true road racer. A conservative estimate of 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds ensures it would embarrass many more exotic machines at a traffic light grand prix, and could even shame a few modern so-called performance BMWs with a four-cylinder powerplant (that means you, E90 320si owners).
When modifiers complete engine swaps, it’s usually a good plan to fit the corresponding gearbox at the same time. Michael has obliged by adding the E30 M3’s race-style dogleg ’box (with first gear usually where second gear is, and second gear where third normally is and so on). To make the gear changes even quicker, there’s also a shorter gear throw thanks to an M3 short-shift kit. While this was going on, an Alpina LSD was also fitted to increase traction and improve handling.
As impressive as the engine and drivetrain set up is, this is just one part of a quite phenomenal customising job. As is de rigueur with Euro-look cars, Michael has dropped the body perfectly on deep-dish alloys to give that unbeatably squat, menacing stance. KW Variant 1 coilovers lower the body 80mm at the front and 60mm out back, enveloping the impossibly clean 8.5x16” and 9.5x16” Chevlon Racing Mesh split rims.
Behind these delightful polished rollers sits a brake upgrade suitable for the three-fold increase in power over a standard E21 315. TarOx 307mm discs are squeezed by six-pot calipers at the front, while E30 325i discs with Ferodo pads grace the back. To round off the impressive chassis upgrades to go with the coilovers and bigger anchors, Michael has fitted front and rear strut braces and an E21 323i antiroll bar. As you’d expect, this little E21 is one hell of a good laugh to be piloting along twisty German roads.
Looking as good as it does, it’s no surprise to find Michael doesn’t go into battle with it at the Nürburgring every weekend. A shame considering its performance, but it ensures the exterior remains looking this good. The body itself has had very little done to it: the E21 is such an attractive retro car as standard it simply doesn’t need tacky add-ons.
Instead, Michael has ensured the body has been resprayed to the highest level in its vivid red hue, while he’s had the arches subtly pulled out 10mm at the front and 15mm at the rear to accommodate the wide wheels and lowered body. What more needs doing? A quick bit of de-badging, white indicators and a black kidney grille combined with the slightly fatter body and the look is perfect. Simplicity at its finest.
As for the interior, well, what can you say? 34-year-old cars should smell old, be thoroughly worn through and have all the bells and whistles that came as standard back in the early Eighties (ie none). This is the case with my musty, tatty old E21 but Michael’s is an altogether different animal.
He has managed to retain the period feel of the E21’s standard inside and combine it with delightful modern touches to make all E21 fans go weak at the knees. There is simply no other word for it: perfection.
From the König sport seats with Schroth harnesses to the black Porsche carpets, everything has been chosen to ensure this cabin is an exceptional place to be. A Raid 320mm steering wheel is a vast improvement over the standard E21’s bussized offering, the speedo dials are Alpina items, while #VDO gauges have been tastefully mounted in the centre console with a custom aluminium surround.
Thanks to Michael’s skills learnt in his job, he has been able to fabricate plenty of these custom aluminium parts that give the unique feel to the interior. The craftsmanship of the window winders, gear stick and surround (very Ferrari-esque), handbrake handle, door sills and door pins is exceptional, complemented with the likes of metal pedals and plenty of M badges dotted around paying homage to the improved lump under the bonnet.
You’ll notice the Brax MultiController embedded in the dashboard, and this keeps a close eye on the highly professional ICE install in the boot. Michael was keen to show off his E21’s impressive sound quality, treating us to a selection of his German death metal hits. Well, it was certainly an improvement on the usual Euro-pop that gets blared out at German shows.
Have you ever seen a tidier boot install? There’s still space for a few bags after embedding the Kicker Punch 1000W amp in the spare wheel well (covered by Perspex) and the 400W amp in the side pod, while two 12” Kicker Freeair subs have been neatly placed at the boot’s rear, mounted on tasteful chequer plating. There’s also a Strike LCB1200 battery on show, and a Resolution two-way crossover, while the finish is, once again, in quality Porsche black carpeting. For a bit of extra show, there are also three blue neons illuminating the boot come sundown.
As with the rest of this E21, the boot is impossibly clean. But no matter where you look throughout Michael’s 1982 classic, there is nowhere it can be faulted. From top to toe it is nothing short of flawless, and how a car that is nearly a quarter of a century old looks in such fantastic condition is a miracle. The rebuilding job performed by Michael is the work of a genius. The engine could be from an S14 museum, the custom aluminium detailing is desirably fresh, and the body looks as though it has just left the finest paint shop in Germany. Is it any wonder he’s walked away with 56 show trophies since 1999?
It may look as though it is trailered to every show it enters, but Michael hasn’t had all the performance upgrades done for no reason. He told me the former 315’s top speed is now 150mph, and he knows this because he’s done it on the autobahn. Must be a strange feeling in an E21! But with the incredible chassis setup and well over 200bhp on tap, how could you not enjoy exploring its potential? Best of all, when playtime is over, give it a quick polish and it’s ready to be a show-winner once again. There’s no way you can not love this quite brilliant little car.
An inspired modification for the humble E21: transplanting an E30 M3 Evo 2’s 2.3-litre, 215bhp engine. Even though the bay is 34 years old and the engine 25, everything you see is immaculate.
…no BMW from 1982 has a right to look this good. When I say it is immaculate, I mean immaculate. There is not a flaw anywhere on the body, inside the cabin, in the boot or under the bonnet.
As with the rest of the car, the E21’s ICE install is perfection. Kicker subs and amps mounted delightfully with chequer plating and black Porsche carpets.
E30 M3 Evo 2 engine swap means the gearbox comes with it. Racing dogleg it is then.
Custom aluminium parts include window winders, door sills, gear stick, handbrake and gauge surrounds.
Interior is still classically E21, but custom aluminium goodies and the Raid steering wheel modernise the flawless cabin.
Above: Alpina speedo adds a custom flavour. Below: As close to an E21 M3 as there’s been.
Michael has managed to retain the period feel of the E21’s standard inside and combine it with delightful modern touches to make all E21 fans go weak at the knees. There is simply no other word for it: perfection.
Black BMW badges offer a finishing touch.
Michael said the former 315’s top speed is now 150mph, and he knows this because he’s done it on the autobahn. Must be a strange feeling in an E21!
DATA FILE #BMW-E21 / #BMW-E21-S14 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #Alpina
ENGINE: 2.3-litre four-cylinder #S14 / #BMW-S14 with custom stainless steel exhaust system using #Eisenmann E36 M3 parts, #K&N air filter, #Hartge engine management chip, braided hoses throughout. E30 M3 five-speed dogleg transmission with short-shift from M3, #Alpina-LSD with 40% diff lock
PERFORMANCE: 215bhp with top speed of 150mph and 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds
CHASSIS: 8.5x16” ET7 (front) and 9.5x16” ET7 (rear) #Chevlon-Racing-Mesh split-rim alloys shod in 215/40 (front) and 225/40 (rear) Dunlop SP9000 tyres. #KW-Variant-1 / #KW coilovers lowering 80mm front and 60mm rear, front strut brace with custom aluminium strut covers, rear strut brace, E21 323i anti-roll bar. TarOx 307mm brake discs with 6-pot #TarOx calipers up front, E30 325i discs with Ferodo S 2000 pads at rear
EXTERIOR: Arches pulled out 10mm front and 15mm rear, de-badged boot, M3 badge on front grille, black BMW roundels, custom white indicators front and rear
INTERIOR: Black and red König sports seats, Schroth harnesses, Raid 320mm steering wheel with black BMW logo and M emblem, metal pedals with M logos, black Porsche carpets, Alpina dials, custom aluminium door sills, window winders, gear stick, gear stick housing, handbrake handle, door pins and gauge surround, VDO gauges, custom chrome screws throughout (over 100 in total)
ICE: Clarion DRZ 960Z head unit with 12-disc CD changer, Brax MultiController in dashboard, two 12” Kicker Freeair subs, Kicker Punch 1000W amp, Kicker Punch 400W amp, Resolution two-way crossover, Rockford Fosgate 1 Farad capacitor, Strike LCB1200 battery, custom boot floor with Perspex covering, chequer plate detailing, three blue neon lights
THANKS: Roger Hiller (painting), Armin Betzelberger (electrics)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationNever before has there been a more elegant and successful synthesis of sports car and luxury saloon then the new 7-series E32 BMW. Accordingly, this gave us the best ever basis for cur work.
/ #1989 / #BMW / #BMW-E32 / #BMW-7-series-E32 / #BMW-7-series / #Hartge-E32 / #BMW-E32-Hartge / #Hartge-H7S / #Hartge-H7-24 / #Hartge-H7-E32 / #Hartge /
If is hardly surprising therefore, that the criterion for defining a 7-series HARTGE automobile is not just one of taste but rot her on ideological question. A car such as this defines its owner as someone who leads the way in his sphere of influence - the embodiment of dynamism and agility - and who does net regard driving as a tiresome necessity but rather as a further dimension of pleasure.
There are two models m the HARTGE 7-series: the H7S and the H7-24.
A common feature of both models is their outward appearance characterized by the sporting elegant HARTGE aerodynamic modifications.
In addition, both the H7S and the H7-24 hove sports suspension, 20 mm lower thon standard, with BILSTEIN gas shock absorbers. Together with wide PIRELLI low-profile tyres, the unmistakable HARTGE 16’ aluminium wheels provide outstanding contact with the road and a combination of comfort and ultimate road holding ability unlikely to be surpassed by any other car in the world today. The mam differences between the two models are to be found in their engines.
The H7S is fitted with an optimized 3.4-litre engine. With or without metallic catalyst, 185 kW (250 bhp DIN) make it on ideal high-speed touring car. With 244 kW (330 bhp DIN), the heart of the H7-24 is a modified version of the 24-valve BMW M5 E34 and M635CSi E24 engine, which is based on the legendary M1 M88 motor.
In keeping with the sporting character of the engine, power is transmitted via a 5-speed close-ratio gearbox.
The sum of these factors make this HARTGE automobile into a high-speed luxury saloon with the dynamic characterise of a thoroughbred sports car.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationNIGHT RIDER
With custom styling, custom wheels and attention to detail to die for, this is one of the best E39s around. Prowling the dark streets of London is a devilish #BMW-5-Series that makes grown men go weak at the knees… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Rash Bajwa.
While the 3 Series may still rule the roost when it comes to the modified #BMW scene, it’s nice to see that the E39 is most definitely coming on strong. Back when I bought mine two years ago, there didn’t seem to be many Fives about and hardly any BMs on air-ride at all in general, but now it’s become a killer combination, and there are some stunning E39s about, such as this one, arguably one of the best E39s anywhere. Its owner is Sumil Pancholi and what makes his beautiful 5 Series all the more impressive is not just the painstaking level of detail but the fact that he’s gone from stock to show car in just six months.
Now, Sumil is no stranger to modified cars, as he tells me when we meet one chilly night for his shoot: “I’ve definitely always been into cars and modding,” he says, “and I used to read Max Power and Fast Car when I was younger. When it was my turn to start modifying cars people had stopped playing with Corsas and Saxos and moved onto German cars so it got more expensive.”
After a stint with VWs and then Audis, Sumil decided to move on to BMWs to “see what all the fuss was about” and judging by the fact that I’m here writing about his E39 it’s fair to say that he realised the fuss was fully justified and stuck with BMWs.
The 530i is his third BMW, having been preceded by an E46 330d and an E92 330d: “After the E92 I wanted something a bit different and practical,” he says. “I thought the E39 was a beautiful car originally but I’d never seen one that had been extensively modified. I bought the car as a daily and while I knew I wanted to modify it, it was never the plan to take it this far,” he laughs. “It’s a Champagne I limited edition model. I specifically wanted a Champagne car – only 150 examples were produced and I’d never had a black car before plus I liked the lightcoloured interior.” Having been produced in such small numbers, however, means that Champagnes are not easy to come by and it took Sumil around five months of searching before this car appeared in Leicester. “I took the coach up, test drove the car, fell in love with it and bought it on the spot,” he grins and while during the first four months of ownership the car remained stock, the last six have been a whirlwind…
We really should talk about the wheels first because not only are they a main attraction on this E39, Sumil’s actually owned them for four years. We’ll let him explain… “The wheels were originally Hartge Design Es and I had them on the E92 – originally they were Sparkling graphite to match the car and then I went for Midnight purple but for the E39 I wanted something different. On the E92 they were 8.5s and 9.5s but I wanted wider dishes, so I had them resurfaced to make them into Design C, the reason being that on the C the lips are facemounted so you get to see all of them so you get a bigger dish. For the extra width I ordered Radinox lips from Germany, which have taken the wheels to 10.25” wide up front and 10.75” at the rear, and I had the centres finished in a custom red with gold bolts. I knew when I was buying the car that I wanted air-ride so it’d be practical and I could drive it low but still get over speed bumps so I had an Air Lift kit fitted but that was all I had been planning on doing…”
Before Sumil had bought the E39 it hadn’t been used much and the front arches had started rusting and the rears were also bubbling so he decided to have the car resprayed before deciding to do a bit of work on the styling front. “I hadn’t seen anything I liked and I wasn’t keen on the off the- shelf stuff so I knew that I was going to go down the custom route.” Dips at Custom Cars was tasked with handling all of the styling work on the car, beginning with the front bumper, blending in an E46 M3 front splitter onto the Sport bumper and also blending in a pair of Hamann foglight covers that Sumil got his hands on. The fogs themselves were then tinted and the front plate was made removable to give the car a cleaner look. With the front taken care of, Sumil turned his attention to the rear end, with the intention of giving the car a CSL bootlid and bought an add-on spoiler. This was to be blended onto the existing bootlid, but not before also deciding to go for a shorter rear number plate recess. In order for that to happen, a donor bootlid was purchased for £25 and Dips used the outer sections of the recess to create the requested smaller recess, blending it and the CSL lip seamlessly onto the existing bootlid.
It has been trimmed down a touch, though, as it was just a bit too high and now, according to Sumil, it looks much better. After the boot came the bonnet with its E92 M3 power bulge. It’s probably the most impressive and dramatic of the styling modifications but making it happen was no easy task: “I wanted the bonnet to be a focal piece,” says Sumil, “and after a lot of searching I found an aftermarket M3 mould in Germany – it was a nightmare to get hold of, it was hard to source and it was hard to communicate with the seller, but in the end I managed to get my hands on it.”
The job of adding the power bulge to the bonnet began as well as removing the BMW roundel and smoothing the recess. “I hate join lines,” says Sumil, “I like having everything blended in so the car looks like it could have come from the factory like that and so it looks subtle so people won’t necessarily notice the changes. I took a risk by doing something different with the E39 but it was worth it as I love the way the car looks now.” We’re inclined to agree, as the three hit combo of front lip, bonnet and boot is a seriously powerful one, not only endowing this E39 with a sense of aggression and drama that even the Sport models lack, but makes for a truly individual statement, and it’s one that has really made this Five stand out from the crowd.
That is, however, only the beginning, as that aforementioned attention to detail is what really makes the difference and there are countless additional styling touches throughout the car that bring all the elements together. Now, red wheels on a black car is a great combination, but Sumil’s theme for the whole car is champagne and strawberries, and so there are actually countless red details throughout the car.
On the outside the front lip, grilles, spoiler lip and rear diffuser have all been finished in a custom black red shade, so they look black until the light hits them and that’s when you get a subtle flash of dark red, though less subtle are custom blacked-out headlights with red angel eyes… The red theme extends to the engine bay, too, with numerous red highlights plus the fan cowling has been painted black red, but what you’re really going to be looking at under the bonnet, aside from the sexy Gruppe M carbon intake, is the rather flamboyant washer bottle setup: “So, I love vodka,” says Sumil, “and in the E92 I actually had a Grey Goose washer bottle – I wanted to do that again but with the E39 I needed something that would tie in with my colour scheme, so I opted for a Ciroc Red Berry bottle and Dips added a red LED so I can light it up when I’m parked up at a show with the bonnet open.”
The interior has also been treated to some love and attention; the steering wheel has been retrimmed by Royal Steering Wheels, the rim now being thicker and there’s Champagne stitching to match the seats, which has also been added to the gear selector and handbrake gaiters, while the trims have also been sprayed in the same shade of black red as the exterior elements, with that deep red metallic flake catching the light beautifully. There’s also a custom mounting pod for the Audison Bit Ten DRC controller, as Sumil’s quite into his sounds, as demonstrated by the absolutely astonishing boot build. The E39’s sound system is pretty dire and with in-car audio being so important to Sumil, it was inevitable that he would turn his attention to this area of the Five. Inside, Morel components have been fitted up front while JL coaxials reside on the parcel shelf, all powered by a JL 600/4 HD amp with an Audison Bit Ten processor, while the boot is home to two JL 10W7AE subs powered by a JL 1200/HD amp, and the whole system allows for full wireless music streaming.
The boot is also where you’ll find the airride install, with the twin tanks painted in the same custom red as the wheels, with gold hardlines just like the bolts on his Hartges, with everything trimmed in Alcantara. It’s seriously spectacular, just like the rest of the car.
“I’ve done a lot in ten months,” muses Sumil as we stand admiring his E39, and he’s not wrong. It’s been pretty much a non-stop whirlwind of activity from the moment the project got off the ground until now, but it’s been more than worth it as he’s created an amazing machine. “For now I’m very happy,” he says, and while there is talk of a supercharger that’s got to wait a while until his funds recover. There’s no rush, though – as far as Sumil’s concerned, this car is most definitely a keeper and that comes as no surprise as it has become an extension of Sumil himself and is going to be a big part of his life for a very long time to come…
I took a risk by doing something different but it was worth it Sumil Pancholi.
19” three-piece Hartges are absolutely stunning while the subtle black red highlights include the spoiler lip.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Air-ride #BMW-E39 / #BMW-530i / #BMW-530i-E39 / #BMW-530i-AirRide-E39 / #BMW
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , Grüppe M carbon intake, custom Ciroc Red Berry vodka screen wash bottle, red engine bay highlights, five-speed #Steptronic #ZF5HP gearbox.
CHASSIS 10.25x19” (front) and 10.75x19” (rear) #Hartge Design C wheels with 3.25” Radinox lips, custom red centres and gold bolts with 235/35 (front and rear) Falken FK453 tyres, #AirLift-Performance air-ride with V2 management, K-Sport #BBK with eight-piston calipers and 356mm grooved discs (front).
EXTERIOR Custom bonnet with powerdome, #BMW roundel delete, washer jets moved to windscreen wipers, custom front bumper with Hamann foglight covers and custom CSL splitter moulded in, custom air intake holes in centre grill, smoked foglights, custom blacked-out headlights, red angel eyes, rear diffuser, custom CSL-style bootlid with custom red lip, shortened numberplate recess, M5 door mirrors, custom LED lit door handles, AC Schnitzer roof spoiler.
INTERIOR Fully refurbed Champagne interior, thicker steering wheel with Champagne stitching by Royal Steering Wheels, gear selector and handbrake gaiters with Champagne stitching, air tanks painted custom red, gold hardlines.
AUDIO 5.25” Morel components (front), JL coaxials (rear), JL 600/4 HD amp, 2x JL 10W7AE subwoofers, JL 1200/HD amp, Audison Bit Ten processor, #Audison-Bit-Ten DRC controller, KnuKonceptz wiring.
THANKS Dips for all his work on the car, my mum, my sister and my partner Vanika for being so patient with me for talking about cars all the time and spending most of my time with Dips or on the phone to him.
Red colour-coding abundant in engine bay, including funky Cirroc Red Berry vodka washer bottle.
While I knew I wanted to modify it, it was never the plan to take it this far Sumil Pancholi.
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- What’s this? An E39 in the PBMW CotY top three? Believe it, as Sumil Pancholi’s bagged beauty got enough votes to break the E30 stranglehold and punchWhat’s this? An E39 in the PBMW CotY top three? Believe it, as Sumil Pancholi’s bagged beauty got enough votes to break the E30 stranglehold and punched its way to the silver medal position. A Champagne edition E39 530i is a great place to start and this one has been treated to some extensive custom body work, including a custom bonnet with power dome, custom front bumper and custom CSL-style bootlid. A set of custom-finished Hartge Design C wheels with Radinox dishes and red centres have also been added and air-ride fitted for good measure, with a spectacular boot build. The engine bay has red detailing throughout and there’s even a Ciroc Red Berry vodka screenwash bottle with red illumination. With some sensational mods and stunning attention to detail throughout, it’s one of the best E39s about. More ...
- Post is under moderationSTROKE GENIUS HARTGE 2.7-LITRE Z1 Is a Z1 fitted with a Hartge 2.7 a good bet? / #BMW-Z1 / #BMW-Z1-Hartge-2.7 / #BMW-Z1-Hartge / #Hartge / #Hartge-Z1 / #1989 / #Hartge-Z1-2.7 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B27 / #M20
Stroke of Genius. We love the #BMW-Z1 and here’s one that answers the lack of power criticism with a #Hartge 2.7 engine. If you thought the Z1 looked gorgeous and handled brilliantly but was lacking in the power stakes you could always have endowed it with some more urge thanks to a Hartge 2.7 conversion. Words: Adam Towler. Photography: Gus Gregory.
‘Look, that car is driving along with no doors’ – that’s what the assorted traffic cruising on the M40 this morning is thinking, it’s written all over their faces and readily decipherable from a spot of lip reading; confirmed by the camera phones that are being raised as we pull alongside. I could drive this Z1 with the doors ‘up’, of course, but for the sake of novelty it just has to be tried, even if it means a decidedly fresh blast of slipstream air up my left-hand trouser leg. Given the ‘motorway’ speed we’re moving along at that’s hardly surprising, but then this is no ordinary Z1 – as if the word could ever be applied to BMW’s late ‘80s sports car in the first place.
I’ve never driven a Z1 before today, but I’ve certainly been curious ever since my school bus passed a black Z1, parked, usually, en-route to and from school. It was an attractive, exotic sort of machine, and that perception was more than just skin deep. For the time, the Z1 was quite unlike any other car in production.
Said to have been inspired, at least in part, by comments from a journalist made to then-BMW chairman Eberhard von Kuenheim, the Z1 (Z for ‘zukunft’ meaning ‘future’) project was expedited by Wolfgang Reitzle, the famous head of BMW R&D in the 1980s and who would later go on to head up the Premier Automotive Group at Ford, before exiting the industry under something of a cloud.
The car was first seen in concept guise during 1986, and was built by BMW Technik GmBH as a way of exploring new methods of production. Technik decided to illustrate its new thinking through the medium of the roadster, with another famous name at the helm: Ulrich Bez, later of Porsche and finally CEO at Aston Martin for many years. Production began in 1988, with cars delivered from 1989 - 1991 .
The core of the Z1 is a galvanised steel monocoque, with notably high sills and an additional tubular frame that runs up the A pillars, increasing the rigidity of the structure. The floor is a sandwich of GRP and foam, bonded and bolted into place. This has three advantages: it’s strong, it won’t rust and it provides a ready-made smooth underfloor to the benefit of aerodynamics. In fact, #BMW maximised this feature by exiting the air over an aerodynamic rear silencer and gap in the rear valance, thereby negating the need for a fixed rear spoiler.
The actual body you see, the skin if you like, is not in any way structural. It’s made from a mixture of Xenoy thermoplastic (the front, rear and side panels) and an epoxy glassfibre for the bootlid, roof cover and the bonnet. A special painting process was developed to maintain the required quality of finish on the panels. As for those iconic doors, they disappear down into the sills, and are operated by a push button in the rear panel from outside the car, and by pulling the door handle from inside in the normal fashion: it’s an odd feeling to do this for the first time and watch the door automatically drop rather than swing outwards.
It wasn’t just the construction of the Z1 that was ground breaking; it actually contained a very forwardlooking mechanical layout that still has ramifications for today. Although the car is based heavily on the E30 325i of the same period, the inline ‘six’ was moved back within the wheel base and sits behind the front axle line, giving the car the near 50:50 weight distribution once so heavily marketed by BMW. The McPherson struts of a regular #BMW-E30 are used on the front axle, but the Z1’s other major innovation was the introduction of the so-called ‘Z-axle’ rear, a form of more advanced multi-link suspension that would transform the stability and handling of the forthcoming E36 3 Series that the Z1 pre-dated.
What of that sonorous 2.5-litre engine? In standard form it cranks out 170hp, which although sounds faintly quaint by modern standards, it looks altogether more promising when you consider the diminutive proportions of the Z1. That is until you look up the kerbweight, and notice that at 1250kg, it’s 105kg heavier than a 325i. That may only be the weight of a very rotund passenger, but when your power-to-weight ratio is constructed more from a lack of mass than outright horsepower, these numbers matter. Correspondingly, the Z1’s performance stats were impressive, but hardly scorching for a car that promised so much in the handling stakes. Michael Scarlett, writing in Fast Lane magazine during December 1988, commented that: “It’s an exhilarating performer without being quite as quick as such a secure and responsive chassis deserves”.
That’s where the car I’m due to drive today comes in. It’s parked to the rear of Birds Garage when I arrive, accessed by a stroll through a showroom full of nearly new BMWs of various descriptions. Next to them, the Z1 appears tiny, and in its resolutely dour and functional Urgrün Metallic paint it makes a completely different sort of impression. The design is very much of its time, but particularly attractive if you can appreciate the proportions, the restraint in the details and the precise nature of what styling flourishes there are. It’s especially successful at including the BMW kidney grille into a low-slung sports car shape, while the treatment at the rear of the car is redolent of the E36 3 Series. Talking of low slung, its meagre stature and the provision to drop the doors vertically was apparently inspired by Reitzle’s fond memories of his uncle’s Triumph TR6, where a cigarette end could be stubbed out on the road when pulled up at some traffic lights because the car was so low to the ground.
‘H5 KWR’ is for sale at Birds when I drive it, but has subsequently sold by the time this story will reach print. What makes it even more special than the other 25 Urgrün Z1s imported into the UK, out of a total UK allocation of 85 cars, is that it features a Hartge 2.7- litre conversion. The increase in displacement has been achieved by lengthening the stroke of the ‘six’ from 75mm to 81mm, with a bore size unchanged at 84mm. So configured, the total capacity is 2693cc, and by then shaving some material from the cylinder head the compression ratio has been taken from 8.8:1 to 9.7:1. Together with a remapping of the ECU, the peak power output jumps to 205hp (at 6100rpm instead of the 5800rpm peak in the standard car), with torque rising from 164lb ft at 4300rpm to 189lb ft at a slightly lower 4000rpm. Both figures make for exciting reading on paper, so I’m very keen to see how that will translate on the road.
Before I thumb that incongruous door-opening button, there’s just one more thing to consider: price. The Z1 was always a very expensive car, retailing in Germany for around £26,000 once production started flowing. Opting for the Hartge engine meant forking out another £5201.39, including fitting, to Birds Garage, then based in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. As a comparison, this would take the list price well beyond that of a new entry-level Porsche 911 of the period. Modifications didn’t end there either, with a full Hartge conversion – including wheels, body modifications and all the other usual tuner items – costing £11,500.
The driver’s door falls down with a chuntering sound that doesn’t match the visual sophistication of the operation. It takes a bit more effort to climb in over the high sill, but once inside it strikes a nice balance between being a cosy sports car and not cramped. I take a look around the cabin and smile, because everything has that late-‘80s west German look and feel to it that as enthusiasts always raises a smile. For a sports car – a concept sports car brought to life at that – it is unerringly pragmatic, with a simple dial pack straight ahead and the familiar BMW switchgear of the time grouped closely together on a small central panel. The leather bucket-style seats have a curious ‘camo’ effect on their darker sections, which looks more like the sort of material you might find on a ladies winter jacket of the period, complete with chunky shoulder pads. The pre-airbag steering wheel is another Bauhaus-like example of simplicity, with a very small central boss: it’s a bit too much of a reach away for me, but fairly comfortable nonetheless.
The hood has already been lowered; it was simple enough, requiring manual unlatching from the header rail and then folding underneath the panel behind the occupants’ heads. The M20 engine fires up with a fabulously organic rasp and rumble, and I’ve already decided I’m going to enjoy this car a great deal. You don’t get that sort of noise from a modern, lowpressure turbocharged four-cylinder engine, after all.
The Hartge Z1 is very easy to drive around in slowly. The assisted steering requires no real effort, although at 3.9-turns lock-to-lock there’s a reasonable amount of arm-twirling to be done. The star so far is the gearbox, which again easily trumps anything modern in the way you can feel one cog giving way to the next. Maybe it’s the 24 years that have passed since it left the factory, grinding it down to smoothed perfection, but it’s just so nice to swap gears, often purely for the sake of it. Why can’t modern cars get these details so right?
It’s the combination of the engine and ‘box that preoccupy the initial attention, the car snapping forward under hard acceleration but hardly forcing my torso back into the seat. But as soon as I’ve dropped the doors then it’s these that take over. It reminds me of those post office Sherpa vans you’d once see: hurtling around with the bare legs of a shorts-wearing postie pumping the pedals with the sliding door always swept back in the open position. If that sounds as though the feeling is one of being exposed in the Z1 then that’s only half true, for me, because the high sills mean you don’t feel as on show as you might, but the sudden blast of cold air confirms this is much more than simply dropping the side windows.
There’s no structural downside to driving along like this, and not only does it garner plenty of kerbside attention, it also brings you closer to the sensations of driving – like you might get from a two-wheeled device. The Z1 turns out to be a smooth character. Predictably it’s much softer in setup and character than a more recent BMW roadster, which gives it a relaxed way of approaching a decent road. The steering response is a little slow, but that works with rather than against the initial roll rate, and once you have the car pointed into a corner it does feel very composed. The ‘six’ has a lusty response to the pedal, and a really invigorating soundtrack when wound out, although would I feel it was fast enough if I’d just dropped over five grand on it (bearing in mind five grand was a considerable sum 24 years ago)?
That I’m not completely convinced by, but then I think that same sentiment applies to the whole Z1 package. It’s a car from the left-field, so there’s not a great deal of point in comparing it with any rival, either at the time or now with our ‘classic’ spectacles on. It does what it does; looks like nothing else, and dishes up a drive that gets more enjoyable the more you experience it.
While we don’t have the weather today to truly maximise those sensations, it seems obvious to me that the Z1 is an esoteric sort of experience – a car that appeals to someone who thinks deeply about the package of talents it offers, and what it represents, and simply wants one. If the only real Achilles’ heel of the Z1 was its lack of outright performance, then this Hartge conversion neatly slays that criticism in one lunge of acceleration – doors open or closed.
Thanks to: The car’s owner and Gordon Ince at Birds Garage – www.birdsgarage.co.uk or 01753 657442 – this car has now sold, but contact Birds for any enquiries on other stock.
EVERYTHING HAS THAT LATE-’80S WEST GERMAN LOOK AND FEEL TO IT THAT AS ENTHUSIASTS ALWAYS RAISES A SMILE
THE M20 ENGINE FIRES UP WITH A FABULOUSLY ORGANIC RASP AND RUMBLE. I’M GOING TO ENJOY THIS CAR A GREAT DEAL
IT’S AN ODD FEELING TO WATCH THE DOOR AUTOMATICALLY DROP RATHER THAN SWING OUTWARDSStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGRAND SLAM / #BMW-3-Series
Good as the E30 #BMW-M3 / #BMW may be, there’s always room for improvement – like fitting air-ride, swapping in an S54 and strapping on a supercharger for good measure. If you like your E30s extremely fast, stunning, and seriously lairy, this Finnish fireball will set your world alight. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Jape Tiitinen.
There’s a lot to be said for keeping things pure. We’re big fans of it here when it comes to cars, and we’re forever banging on about how you don’t need to do much to certain models, such as the E30, to end up with a fantastic-looking car. The past few issues have been home to prime examples of this super-clean, OE+ aesthetic. But, conversely, we’re also big fans of the utterly mental brigade who pull out all the stops and go well and truly bananas with their builds, sticking two fingers up at the purists in the process. We’re not the sort to judge, really. We’ve had a few of those, too. There was Nick Sahota’s S54-swapped orange M3 with air-ride back in 2014, Sam Le Fevre’s supercharged S54-powered RHD E30 M3 this year (you might see a pattern emerging here), and now we have Matti Jussila’s supercharged S54-swapped E30 M3 that’s also on air-ride for good measure. It’s like the ultimate combination of the two ultimate sins one can commit with an E30 M3: carrying out an engine swap and bagging it… and we love it.
You’re welcome to confront truck-driver Matti about his exploits, although that would involve travelling to Finland and, if watching Ice Road Truckers has taught us anything it’s that people who drive trucks in cold places tend to be pretty tough. From what we can tell he has a beard. That’s enough for us. Of course, you should not be surprised to see another wild build emerging from the cold north of Scandinavia, it’s most definitely the done thing over there, and while this E30 might be tame in terms of power when compared to some of its modified brethren, it’s not tame in any other way.
So, how does one get from some sort of starting point to building a car like this? Well, Matti has been into BMWs for a long time now, since before he got his licence in the early ’90s, and has indulged his passion to the max, starting his BMW journey with a 1987 E30 325i Sport which he owned from 1995 to 2000 and still regrets selling. But onwards and upwards and all that. With numerous BMWs following his first, including a supercharged air-ride E46 M3 Cab, it’s clear that Matti’s not new to all this modifying malarkey…
So, to the E30 M3, which shares parking space with an E118, a 1.8 Neue Klasse from 1970 – strange bedfellows if ever we did see them. “I was looking for an original E30 M3 for a long time,” Matti says. “This one was just good enough and completely standard,” which is unsurprising because, you know, it’s an E30 M3 and who on earth modifies those…?! But it was also good because what you see before you is what Matti had planned out long before buying the car and, after two-and-a-half years of hard graft, he’s turned that vision into a reality.
We’ll get onto the engine and all that in a minute but what we really need to talk about is how this car looks: it’s utterly gorgeous, all thanks to what has to be one of the most stunning colours we’ve seen in a long time. The car has been finished in Standox Red Rocket, part of the company’s Exclusive Line paint, which was launched on Wiesmann’s GT model and is an incredible shade. It’s predominantly a sort of rich ruby red with a hint of wine to it but the minute it catches the light all sorts of magic starts to happen and you get bright flashes of orange. It’s really hard to describe and utterly mesmerising. It’s rare that a paint job will leave you speechless but that’s most definitely the case here. It’s like a smack in the mouth but for your eyes instead and it draws you in, at which point you can then start appreciate the rest of the styling details.
We also need to talk about the bonnet – at first glance you might think it’s matt black but get up close and you realise it’s furry! ‘Upholstered’ is how Matti describes it but whichever way you look at it, if you didn’t like the idea of someone modifying an E30 M3 you’re definitely not going to like the idea of someone putting an ‘upholstered’ bonnet on one!
There’s far more here than just a stunning paint job and upholstery, though, and Matti has put plenty of work into getting the car’s styling just so, cherry picking some of the tastiest E30 M3 additions to give his example a bit more aggression. You’ll notice the Sport Evo front spoiler, arches and rear spoiler, along with shaved antennas, tinted front and rear lights and tinted windows. With the wheels, Matti has hit the size sweet spot, opting for staggered 17” three-piece Hartge Classics, measuring 9.5” wide at the front and 10” at the rear. With seriously shiny stepped-lips and dish to die for, plus light gold bolts offering just that little bit of contrast to the rich red paint, we think they are awesome.
Seeing as Matti had already experienced the joys of air-ride once before, it’s perhaps no surprise to see him going back to bags for his ultimate E30 build, despite how many teeth that might put on edge. He turned to K-Sport’s E46 M3 offering which was modified to fit yet it clearly does its job well. The air-ride has been combined with some decently stretched tyres and the arches rest on the tyre sidewalls when the car is aired-out. Hovering like this, with the deep front spoiler sitting a fraction above the ground, we defy anyone to try and say it doesn’t look good. Compared with the attention-grabbing exterior, the interior is more restrained but definitely lets you know that this E30 means business. A pair of Recaro buckets have been fitted up front, while the dash, centre console and A-pillars have been flocked and a custom removable bolt-in roll-cage has been fitted in the back.
And so, finally, we come to what’s going on under the bonnet. Clearly S54s and E30 M3s go together, seeing as everyone seems to be doing it. The combination of a powerful engine in an awesome chassis is a winner. You can’t really go wrong with an S54 when it comes to performance. And although Matti had already experienced the joys of a supercharged S54, he hadn’t experienced that level of power in such a lightweight car as the E30. It’s a whole different ball game and really takes things to the next level. The engine itself is running stock internals with new bearings, a modified E46 M3 rad and a modified oil pan has been fitted to clear the subframe and retain stock oil capacity. The supercharger is an intercooled Vortech V3 setup with a remapped and modified E46 M3 ECU running the show, while a Martelius Exhausts modified S54 exhaust manifold connects up to a custom stainless steel Martelius exhaust. The result is a rather serious 560hp and 406lb ft of torque at 0.7bar of boost. In a car as light as the E30 M3 that makes for an explosive driving experience, especially with all that power making its way to the road via a pair of 225/35 tyres. The drivetrain has obviously been thoroughly reworked in order to be able to cope with all that power, with a Getrag Type D six-speed gearbox from the E46 M3 being transplanted into the E30, along with an E46 M3 flywheel, Sachs race clutch and a modified E30 M3 propshaft. Matti’s M3 is a stunning car that wows and delights at every turn, impressing more and more the further you delve into its details and you can see that it’s been built with a money-no-object approach.
Everything that Matti wanted to do, everything that he pictured in his mind before he’d even bought the car, has been done and his work is clearly appreciated by BMW fans, with the car winning best in show at the BMW Syndikat 2015 show in Germany, which sounds even more impressive when you learn that some 10,000 cars were in attendance. Matti has built himself a stand-out E30 M3, and then some. As Matti tells us before he speeds off: “ The only thing left to do now is drive it and look after it.”
The combination of a powerful engine in an awesome chassis is a winner.
DATA FILE Supercharged air-ride #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #BMW-M3-Supercharged-E30 / #BMW-E30-Supercharged /
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54 , stock internals, new bearings, modified oil pan, modified E46 M3 radiator, #Vortech-V3 / #Vortech intercooled supercharger kit, remapped and modified E46 M3 ECU, Martelius Exhausts modified S54 exhaust manifold and full custom stainless steel exhaust. 560hp @ 8100rpm, 406lb ft of torque at 0.7bar boost.
TRANSMISSION #Getrag-Type-D / #Getrag six-speed manual from E46 M3, E46 M3 flywheel, #Sachs race clutch, modified E30 M3 propshaft, stock E30 differential, stock E30 driveshafts.
CHASSIS 9.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #Hartge Classic three-piece wheels with gold bolts and 215/25 Hankook (front) and 225/35 #Falken (rear) tyres, K-Sport E46 airbag coilovers with slimmer rear bags, E30 stock suspension arms, Powerflex bushes, E30 M3 stock brakes.
EXTERIOR Standox Red Rocket paint, E30 M3 Sport Evo front spoiler, front arches and rear spoiler, shaved antennas, upholstered black hood, tinted head- and tail-lights, tinted windows.
INTERIOR Recaro front seats, custom-upholstered dashboard, centre console and A-pillar covers, custom removable bolt-in roll-cage behind front seats.
Interior a lot more subtle than vibrant exterior with lots of nice touches like the sexy Recaros, flocked dash and bolt-in roll-cage.
The arches rest on the tyre sidewalls when the car is aired-out.
S54 fits neatly into the E30’s engine bay and has been bolstered with an intercooled Vortech supercharger setup for a healthy 560hp.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.