- Post is under moderationDUE DILIGENCE Stunning super-rare E21 323i / #JPS / #BMW-E21 / #BMW-323i / #BMW-323i-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-323i-JPS / #BMW-323i-JPS-E21 / #Getrag / #Getrag-245 / #M20B27 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 / #BMW /
Due Diligence The story of one man’s love affair with JPS BMWs and in particular his stunning E21 323i example. Hard work, combined with a bit of luck, can take you a long way. In Australian Stewart Garmey’s case, it took him around the world as he helped other BMW enthusiasts, and also led him to possibly one of the rarest limited edition BMWs made. Words and photography: Chris Nicholls.
It takes a unique level of dedication to spend a quarter of a century committed to a brand. And not just committed for your own purposes, but working tirelessly to help fellow enthusiasts enjoy their BMWs, wherever in the world they may be. That’s the kind of dedication Australian, Stewart Garmey has, though. A BMW fan since 1977, when a friend let him drive his then-new 2002 in New Zealand, Stewart finally got his own ‘02 in 1989 (a Taiga green Tii) after his mother passed away. “I always promised myself a 2002, and when my mum passed away in 1989, she left me a small inheritance. My wife said my mum had always promised me a BMW, so I better go and do it!”
Having taken the plunge, he undertook a bare metal restoration of the car and also joined the BMW Club of Victoria, spending the next 25 years attending club meets, participating in show ’n’ shines and organising things. From 1997-2001 he worked as club president, eventually joining the board of BMW Clubs Australia, and in 2004 he even became the Australian delegate to the International Council of BMW Clubs – a position he held for the next ten years. In 2015, in recognition of all his hard work, Stewart received the ‘Friend of the Marque’ accolade, becoming only the 48th council member to be awarded it, and the sixth Australian. It’s something he is justifiably proud of, saying it was like “getting the Brownlow” (the Aussie Rules equivalent of the PFA Player’s Player of the Year award).
Of course, just owning a BMW (no matter how nicely restored) and working hard for club members worldwide was probably not going to get him Friend of the Marque, but Stewart proved his love for the brand over many years with further acquisitions. There was an immaculate Henna red South African-built E28 M5 we featured in our October 2014 issue that was so spectacular Stewart even received an offer for it from Ralf Rodepeter at the BMW Museum (a sale that only fell through because BMW claimed it would have trouble insuring the RHD car in Germany). He’s also owned a JPS 323i that he sold a while back, and he currently has a E92 325i Coupé and E91 323i Motorsport Touring he and his wife use as their current daily drivers respectively. Oh, and because clearly he hasn’t done enough for BMW as it is, Stewart runs a register of JPS BMWs (both the Australian factory race cars and road-going special editions made to order in Australia to commemorate them) in his spare time, as no factory records are thought to exist now.
Now, for those who may not know, here’s a little more information on these Australian-only specials… Covering many different models, they were commissioned by BMW Australia to cash-in on the Team JPS BMW Group 5 and Group A cars of the ’80s. Available only by request, each one came with gold-centred BBS-Mahle wheels, rib-back Recaro seats, an M1 steering wheel, #JPS badges, a build numberplate and the signature black-with-gold-pinstripe livery. According to Stewart’s research, there was only one E12 sold, 100 E21s, perhaps only four or five E24s, just two E28s (one each for JPS team boss #Frank-Gardner and lead driver Jim Richards), and around 30 E30s. Stewart believes only about 15 E30s, 20 E21s, one E28 and an unknown number of the rest survive today, making them very rare beasts.
It’s thanks to this research and subsequent knowledge of these JPS cars that Stewart was quickly able to discover that his second E21 323i example might be one of the rarest of them all – a 2.7-litre special order version, not fitted with the lazy M20B27 used in other factory BMWs over the years, but a stroker built locally using the 2.3-litre block and fitted with new crankshaft and rods, giving it a totally different character to the factory motor, as well as more power. “We’ve had people look at it and play with it, and almost beyond doubt now, it is one of the three [known] 2.7-litre strokers,” he says. “The fact it’s got the close-ratio 245 dog-leg Getrag and #LSD behind it suggests that it is the big engine. It certainly goes like it is, and when you hear it idle, it’s very cammy and lumpy.”
Having heard the car during the shoot, that’s something we can definitely confirm. And with Stewart revealing one of the three 2.7s was written off in a crash a while back, that makes his – number 47 of the 100 E21s, according to the dash-mounted build plate – possibly one of two.
The rather amusing thing is that, while Stewart’s hard work was responsible for him discovering how rare this car might be, it was just dumb luck that led him to it in the first place. Having sold off his other toys due to the need to downsize his house, he was apparently experiencing “withdrawal symptoms”, and decided to start looking around to see what was available. Lo and behold, this little example appeared on his radar, although it was, by Stewart’s reckoning, rather overpriced at first.
“I saw it advertised for $27,000, rang the bloke and told him he was dreaming. He replied that that was what the car owed him, to which I retorted that what it owes him and what it’s worth are two very different stories indeed! However, I watched it for nine months, and kept in touch. Then one day he asked me what it was worth, which was $10-12,000 tops. After a bit of soul-searching he finally told me he wouldn’t take less than $10,000 for it and I told him I’d see him on Saturday morning! So I flew up to Brisbane, saw it and bought it.”
Obviously neither Stewart nor the previous owner knew at the time that it was likely a 2.7, so clearly Stewart ended up with a bit of a bargain, although its imperfect mechanical condition meant he had to spend quite a lot of time and money ensuring it was back to its former glory. Perhaps oddly, Stewart revealed it didn’t seem too bad on his initial test drive, but once he got it trucked back to Melbourne (a wise decision in retrospect), the full extent of the issues revealed themselves.
“I drove it while I was there and I was impressed by the way it went, but after 2000 kilometres in a car that hadn’t done a lot of work for a while (it had been a sit-around toy) combined with the fact I didn’t know it… it was too far, so I paid for it to come back to my house on a truck. Which is just as well that I did, as it had things like the exhaust system [being] held on with pull-up ties. It was also missing bits in the front suspension and the brake sensors weren’t fitted… silly little bits like that, so it was a good move.”
This all happened back in July last year, and Stewart’s spent all the time until now fixing it up. That meant, on top of sorting the aforementioned urgent issues, Stewart had to replace many items in the engine bay, such as the strut-top caps, as well as order custom-made JPS C-pillar badges as they were missing. To match his high standards, he also had to get all five original wheels restored, replace all four headlight lenses, remove an additional gold pin-stripe that wasn’t meant to be there, put in a new dashboard, get the M1 wheel retrimmed and recover the unique Recaro seats.
This last job proved quite the challenge, as the black side bolster fabric he needed was only used on those seats in period and was no longer in production. However, here again Stewart’s nouse and hard work paid off as many phone calls later, he eventually found out via a Sydney shop that the same material, albeit in green, was used on Holden Commodore SLEs at the time, and due to the Commodore’s enduring popularity, Stewart easily found the fabric and had it dyed black. After getting them done by his friend Ray at Bray Mills Automotive Trimming in Heidelberg in Melbourne’s north east, Stewart says the seat material “worked beautifully”.
Amazingly, despite how good the car looks now as a result of all this work, Stewart’s not done yet. At the time of the shoot, he’d just ordered a new headliner from America as the original one had rust stains in it, and the carpets were nowhere near his usual standards, so he was going to replace those, too.
Indeed, as you might have gathered, Stewart is pretty meticulous about his cars in general. His 2002 and M5 won so many BMW Club of Victoria concours events other members complained there was no point entering their cars – to which he responded “I’m not going to back down – if somebody beats me, they beat me, fair enough, but I’m not going to roll over.”
He also never allows anyone other than he and his wife to sit in his toys with regular outdoor shoes on, and even he and his wife dust their shoes off before getting in. When it came to detailing this car, he says: “It lived up on wheel stands for about three months because I was detailing under the guards.” He also detailed the suspension while he was there and, because it had aftermarket stainless mufflers fitted by a previous owner, Stewart polished those up, too.
All this graft is, perhaps, more evidence that effort, combined with luck, can indeed net you amazing results. As you can see, even in the car’s supposedly incomplete state, it’s a stunner. The sheer gloss Stewart’s managed to achieve with the original paint, and the near flawless finish on the (unfinished) interior all point to how much effort’s gone into it.
Refreshingly, as you can see by the fact he was happy to get the car shot on a dirt road, Stewart isn’t overly precious about using it, either. He plans on taking it out regularly for club events and while there will, no doubt, be times when he’s too busy polishing it to make every meet, he always makes as much of an effort as he can. Because clearly, the rewards are worth it.
“The fact it’s got the close-ratio 245 dog-leg Getrag and LSD behind it suggests that it is the big engine. It certainly goes like it is”
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- Post is under moderationJPS E30 M3
The story behind this fully restored motor racing icon. A Very Special Player One of Australia’s most famous BMW race cars, the JPS E30 M3, under the spotlight. Banged up, shipped across the Tasman Sea twice and, until two years ago, a bit worse for wear, this JPS stunner is now back to its former glory Words and photography: Chris Nicholls.
BMW race cars have been lucky enough to wear some of the iconic competition liveries over the years. Whether it’s the various Art Cars, the Jägermeister colours, the Warsteiner and Fina liveries or just the M stripes by themselves, Bavaria’s best racers have always looked the business. However, while we in the northern hemisphere have been spoilt for choice with these beauties, we have missed out on one truly iconic racing design that only ever competed on BMWs down under – the JPS livery.
Obviously most famous for its stint on Lotus F1 machines, the JPS colours have been applied to many other cars over the years, but F1 Lotuses aside, only the Australian JPS E21 320i Turbos, 635CSis and E30 M3s, which ran from 1981-’1987, used the livery officially in any four-wheeled racing capacity. And my, doesn’t it look good on this M3? The deep, jet black paint is perfectly offset by the gold pin striping that runs along the car’s flanks, accentuating those blistered arches, while the other sponsors’ logos and of course, the laurel wreath JPS crest itself all add to that golden lustre. Oh, and let’s not forget those sexy matching gold Australian Simmons centre-lock wheels, either.
This particular example is an ex-factory Team JPS BMW car from 1987 – the last year the Frank Gardner-run team that built the machine existed – and was relatively recently restored to nearimmaculate condition (hence the shine) by the current owner Peter Jones and the team at Ecurie Bowden, whose M1 and Schnitzer 635CSi we’ve featured in past months as well. We say nearimmaculate as Peter has deliberately kept some of the patina via a faded and chipped bonnet roundel and cracked right-rear light lens, as well as damage to the driver’s footwell; the result of a nasty shunt at the 1989 Bathurst 1000 when it was racing as part of the John Sax Racing Team from New Zealand. Other than that, though, the car is as straight and clean as you could possibly want, and walking around the car to shoot it, it was impossible not to be blown away by the paint’s lustre (even inside the car) and the sense of mechanical solidity. BMW master mechanic Jason Matthews and paint and panel man Phil Milburn, as well as all the other Ecurie Bowden crew members, should be rightly proud of their work.
Of course, such a high-level restoration doesn’t take place overnight, and from the time Peter purchased the car in 2014 until it was ‘finished’, a full 15 months had passed, and even now, he’s is still tweaking and fettling the car – particularly the rebuilt engine – as it doesn’t quite achieve what he wants on track yet. However, that’s all part of racing, irrespective of the car and its level of restoration, and even in its current state, the project has definitely been worth it. So what prompted Peter to buy this car in the first place? Well, it turns out this isn’t his first Group A M3, having owned a Benson & Hedges racer back in the mid-’90s that he purchased from Frank Gardner himself (Gardner was a long-time family friend), and it was his love for that machine, and the hole in his heart it left when he sold it, that prompted him to seek out a replacement.
“I’ve been involved in motorsport since the ‘80s. The highest level I ever did was the CAMS Gold Star [Australia’s top open-wheeler class]. I raced that in Formula 2, only as a bit of an also-ran, and I’ve also raced Formula Fords and Sports Sedans and Historic cars over the years. From about 1997 to 2012 I basically had a bit of a hiatus due to family and the demands of business and then got back into it in 2012, running around in a Formula Ford. I still enjoyed it and have always missed the E30 M3 that I owned and spoke to [Ecurie Bowden boss] Chris Bowden about it and kept him on the look-out for me.”
And look-out Chris did, but in the end, it actually turned out that another contact, BMW and JPS nut Stewart Garmey (whose E28 M5 we featured in October 2014), knew the right people and gave Peter a nudge in the direction of this car’s previous owner, David Towe.
“Stuart warned me that I’d either love it or hate it, but that it’s a great car,” says Peter. “When I looked at it, I realised it had suffered in its life, but you can’t replace history, and that’s what it has.” Indeed, it has a lot of history, and not just of the type that causes battle scars. Built in 1987, it was one of the first two Group A E30s Team JPS BMW brought over from Europe after phasing out its 635CSis (one of which you’ll also see in a future issue). Initially, both cars actually ran 325i suspension, such was the European demand for parts, but by midway through the season, each car got the legs it deserved. And despite being designed for flowing European circuits and down on power compared to some rivals, the E30’s innate talents, and those of drivers Jim Richards and Tony Longhurst, meant the team quickly got results. This ex-Longhurst car, for example, managed a best of third at round three of the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) even before it got proper M3 suspension, but for some reason it got sold before the end of the year and could prove its worth with proper footwork. If you want to see what the potential was, though, just look at Jim Richards taking his M3 to the ATCC title in the car’s first year.
When this particular machine was offloaded, it got sent to the aforementioned John Sax Racing Team, with Sax and fellow Kiwi Graham Lorimer behind the wheel until midway through the 1990 season. They took it to a best of eighth at the ’87 Castrol 500 at Sandown, as well as a 10th at the Wellington round of the inaugural World Touring Car Championship that year, but sadly, the car’s biggest headlines came when it speared off at Forest Elbow at the ’89 Bathurst 1000, stoving in much of the front-right side. The team did repair the damage (albeit not to a high standard, as we’ll see later) and it soldiered on until Kiwi Racing purchased it midway through the 1990 season. Having not had much luck with the car bar a second in class at the ’91 Nissan Mobil 500 at Pukekohe, Kiwi racing then sold the E30 to Auckland Ferrari specialist Allan Cattle in late ’93, who proved any issues may not have been with the beast itself by promptly winning his class, along with co-driver Brett Taylor, at the Wellington Nissan Mobil 500 and taking second in class at a shorter 300km race at Pukekohe.
Finally, this now well-travelled M3 went to another two Kiwi owners, Trevor Bills and Kevin Underwood, before heading back home to Australia and new owner James Searley in 1999. There it sat in James’ collection for four years until noted Sydney BMW nut David Towe got hold of it and immediately started racing the car again, first at the 2003 Winton Historic meeting, then at numerous classic and historic events around the country. Notably, David converted the car back to its JPS livery (because why wouldn’t you?) and even managed to take away the Murray Carter Cup at the 2009 Phillip Island Classic in it. Indeed, such was the love affair that he only gave it up to switch to a later-built 1987 JPS M3 in 2011.
However, not able to part with it entirely, David held onto the machine until 2014, when current owner Peter Jones came into the picture.
Now, as we hinted at, the car wasn’t perfect when Peter got it. The John Sax team had repaired the Bathurst damage, but removing the right-hand quarter panel showed the chassis rail underneath was still further back than the left, so stretching and rebuilding was needed. And while David had done his best at the time, there were also cracks in the rear arms and the front callipers (among other parts) were way past their use-by date. Knowing personally that Frank Gardner wouldn’t have accepted anything other than perfection were he still alive, Peter thus decided to go for a bare-metal resto to bring it back to its best. And thanks to the talents of the Ecurie Bowden crew, it’s now as gorgeous as you can imagine.
“It’s just magic when you walk around it and underneath it. The job’s been done very well,” says Peter. “All the chassis’s perfect now and when we put it on the scales, we measured where it should be, dropped it down and it just plumbed up beautifully on the corner weights.” And as you’d expect, even with the fettling still needed, it goes pretty well, too.
“It’s a very lovely car to drive – a very fast car… It’s a heavier car by 20kg [than the Evos], but the earlier cars, because they run the 17-inch wheels not the 18s, can drop the nose a little bit lower, so what they lose in some respects they pick up in others. And I think it sits well on the road. The 2.3 motor’s still a powerful little engine, and whilst a good 2.5 should beat a 2.3 every day, you’re not going to be that far behind.”
Once the car’s engine has been brought back to its full Group A peak, it should be even quicker, too. And yes, in case you were wondering, all this testing means that despite the superb condition it’s in now, this JPS beauty will see the race track as often as possible in the future, with Peter planning to enjoy it at every historic meet in Australia he can get to. Of course, he doesn’t relish the idea of getting it banged up again, but says that “once I get one stone chip on it, it won’t hurt so much”.
“Because it’s not the original paint on the car from day one, you’re not disturbing or risking something that hasn’t already been repainted or repaired, unlike the Sierra I’ve got [a Group A RS500] which is the original paint that Rudy Eggenberger used and it’s never had a mark on it. That’s a car you don’t want to put in harm’s way. Whereas, I don’t want to hurt this car either, but if in two years I have to give it a bit of a respray to make it pretty again, we’re not ruining history in doing that.”
In a world of collectors that never use their cars as intended, that’s refreshing to hear. Long may this black beauty continue to run.
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-Group-A-JPS / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #Group-A-JPS / #BMW-M3-E30 / #Group-A-JPS / #BMW-M3-Group-A-JPS / #BMW-M3-Group-A-JPS-E30 / #BMW-M3-JPS-E30 / #BMW-S14 / #S14 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW /
ENGINE: 2332cc DOHC S14 in-line four, cast iron block, 16-valve alloy head, 12:1 compression ratio, forged crankshaft and con rods, forged alloy pistons, #Bosch electronic fuel injection, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, 40-litre #ATL fuel cell with in-tank swirl-pot, 300hp @ 8400rpm, 199lb ft @ 7000rpm
GEARBOX: #Getrag five-speed manual gearbox, sintered metal clutch, LSD with 75 percent locking ratio
CHASSIS: Unitary steel with welded-in roll-cage, 52mm #JLS-Motorsport air jacks (front), 62mm AP Racing air jacks (rear)
SUSPENSION: McPherson struts with original Group A #Bilstein dampers (overhauled and re-valved by MCA Suspension), MCA custom main springs, #Eibach helper springs, anti-roll bars (front), semi-trailing arms with original Group A Bilstein dampers (overhauled and re-valved by MCA Suspension), MCA custom main springs, Eibach helper springs, anti-roll bars (rear)
BRAKES: AP Racing four-piston callipers with #AP-Racing 330x32mm two-piece slotted rotors and #Ferodo DS3000 pads (front), Lockheed four-piston callipers with AP Racing 300x20mm two-piece slotted rotors and #Ferodo-DS3000 pads (rear)
WHEELS AND TYRES: 8x17-inch (front) and 9x17-inch (rear) #Simmons three-piece centre-lock mesh wheels with 225/625-17 (front) and 240/620-17 (rear) Pirelli or Michelin slicks
INTERIOR: Custom-embroidered #Racetech-RT9009HR seat with orange Racetech HANS-compatible belts
Despite the superb condition it’s in now, this #JPS beauty will see the race track as often as possible in the future.
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- Post is under moderationThis time tomorrow I’m very much hoping I’ll be lying on a beach, or by the pool, with a good book in one hand and a cold beer in the other… but knowing my luck I’ll probably still be fighting with airport security or arguing with check-in staff about the weight of our bags or, assuming we’ve reached our destination, causing a ruckus at the car hire desk! Ah, the joy of summer holidays. I’m sure it’ll be worth it when I get there but burning the midnight oil for weeks before going away and then the inevitable stress of coming back to thousands of emails and another shortened magazine schedule does sometimes take the shine off it a little, but I guess we’re all probably in the same boat these days… too much to do, too little time!
I must admit I do somewhat relish the hire car lottery of discovering what each company deems to be a suitable ‘or equivalent’ car to the model you’ve actually booked. I vividly remember being told by one member of staff at a hire car company in South Africa that I’d booked a luxury vehicle and seeing the rumps of several #BMW-5-Series and Mercedes C-Class saloons through the window I thought my luck was in. I was a little confused when he presented me with a Chevrolet key fob and gobsmacked when I reached the car to discover it was a Chevvy Cruze… effectively a rebadged Daewoo Lacetti! Not a luxury vehicle in my book.
Perhaps we are spoilt as BMW owners but so often when I drive a car from another manufacturer I do come away somewhat disappointed with the experience. Sometimes this can be simply down to unfamiliarity with the car in question – just because a car’s controls don’t operate in a BMW fashion doesn’t mean it’s a bad car, but once you’re familiar with a particular brand you can get a little set in your ways. Thus I was a little surprised when a colleague in the office borrowed the 120d M Sport from our Longtermer fleet and returned the keys saying he thought it would be better than he found it. He didn’t like the steering, the ride, the suspension and felt it was a little slower than he remembered a 120d being. This was particularly surprising given that his everyday machine is a Lexus CT 200H – effectively a Toyota Prius in drag. I didn’t have time to go and drive the cars back-to-back but I’d be utterly gobsmacked if most people preferred the Lexus to the BMW. I’ll take them both for a spin when I return from my holiday and desperately hope I don’t end up eating my words.
Before I head off to the airport there’s just space to say that I hope you enjoy the issue, especially if you’ve picked #BMW Car up as a bit of light holiday reading. I think there’s just about something for everyone in here from our first drive of the new 3 Series GT to our look at a wonderfully restored motorsport icon in the form of the #JPS #BMW-E30 M3 from Australia. Wherever you’re heading this summer, I hope you have an enjoyable and restful trip… you’ll need those batteries recharged for when you get back to office chaos on your return, or perhaps that’s just my office!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.