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    JAWS 2 Ten years ago we featured this E24 in its original incarnation but now it’s back and meaner than ever. We’re going to need a bigger magazine… Words and photos: Andy ‘Sharkey’ Starkey

    / #JAWS-2 UK air-ride E24 #BMW-635CSi-JAWS-2 / #BMW-635CSi-Highline-E24

    The iconic Spielberg movie, Jaws, put a whole new spin on suspense and horror, and we have never looked back. This movie was responsible for making an entire generation of film fans squeal, hide behind their popcorn and give them involuntary bowel movements. It was such a success and a landmark in cinema history that it spawned several sequels. Now, I have a problem with the whole sequel thing. If you have made something good, I guess it’s a given that you want to continue the success and do it all again.

    That’s all well and good if the subject matter can cope with the return, and if the public want it. The big difficulty for the moviemakers is that we’ve already seen the shark, the villain, the hero or whatever in the first one; we’ve had the shocks, the cheers and the laughs. This usually results in a very loose link to the first instalment which develops into almost the same story but with more blood, scares, laughs, bangs or car chases; all a bit disappointing really.

    There are exceptions of course: Indiana Jones, Jason Bourne, Austin Powers and naturally Mr Bond – all have had continual success with their ongoing escapades and adventures, and that’s all because the key character has what it takes for audiences to keep coming back for more. They all have charisma, attitude and presence, which is exactly what this E24 has in abundance and this too is something of a sequel.

    We think you’ll agree that this particular 6 Series possesses the kind of credentials that any movie icon would give their right arm for. That’s because this #BMW-635CSi-Highline is a continuing story of ownership and development. It even graced the pages of this very magazine some ten years ago and was dubbed ‘Jaws’ by us at the time. For once, this is where a sequel really has paid off, although maybe sequel isn’t the right word, a ‘continuation’ is probably better…

    Way back when, this 635 was owned by a certain Kabir Miah and both he and his brother Lala had a very particular idea for this car in mind. The shark theme was to be played out by having the original paintwork in a two-tone scheme; grey on top graduating into a much paler off-white towards the sills, just like the skin of a shark. The front wings also got the ‘big fish’ look by having a large, striking set of gill slits added. These were not just a stick on adornment, either, these gills were actually pressed through the wings and the finishing touch was the addition of the Jaws number plate.

    That was then, but what about now? To start with, the car now belongs to Lala himself. It may have been Kabir’s car but Lala was the one to make the transformation happen both ten years ago and now. This is wholly because he’s a fully trained painter. In fact he co-owns and runs a Birminghambased styling business, LA Modz, specialising in window tints and wraps, so he’s going to know a thing or two about making cars look good. He still does some bodywork but, as he told me: “Tints and wraps are so much cleaner to work with.”

    As you have probably noticed the, two- tone paint job has gone this time around in favour of clean, bright Nogaro silver with a fabulously deep gloss. The trademark gills and numberplate still identify the car as the original Jaws but now a lovely set of rims highlight the new look.

    Lala does have an eye for detail so the choice of wheel that was to achieve the desired effect had to be right, and boy, are they right. They started out life as a set of M System II Style 21 ‘Throwing Stars’ but they’ve been made into a special set of bespoke three-piece splits by CR Customs in Poland. The guys there have added extra diameter and width, taking them from lowly 17s to a whopping 19”, with the fronts measuring 9.5” wide while the rears are now a massive 11”. The hardware has also been plated in 18ct gold and the wheel nuts had nifty covers made for them from 12 bore shotgun cartridges.


    The interior has been redesigned this time around too; the tired black has now been replaced with luscious terracotta leather. Lala has taken the lead from an M5 he’d seen with a Fox red interior and rather liked the contrast. The style and choice of covering carries on with modified and decluttered doorcards and centre console. The craftsmanship of the interior is something to behold and the stark difference between some of the retained interior scheme and the new is striking. Hats off to Autotrims UK for a sterling job. The whole interior theme has been topped off by the addition of an MTech 2 steering wheel and the all-important shark tooth hanging from the mirror.

    Ten years ago most suspension setups comprised springs and shocks but today air is where it’s at and it’s all about getting your car so low that sometimes you think you could sneak under a snake’s belly wearing a top hat. With its low roof and sleek look, the CSi is the perfect candidate for air and dropping it to the ground accentuates those long, low lines. Lala’s done something very smart here too; sure the air-ride gets the car down low but the clever bit is the use of a specially made M3-style chin spoiler and the fitment of, would you believe, Volvo 850 side skirts.

    These additions make the whole profile look even lower and very sleek. As Lala explains: “The idea with the spoiler was really to give the impression of a shark’s open mouth, but it does lengthen his nose.”

    His nose, did you say? “Definitely,” Lala says. “Jaws was certainly male, so this car must be a bloke too.” Looking at the car now after that statement, you have to agree it does look masculine. It has a sharp, angular feel to it and we’re sure that’s pure testosterone coming out of the exhaust…

    Having a wrap expert on-hand would make you think that this car would be littered with the stuff but on initial scrutiny you’d say there wasn’t any wrapping going on at all. Well, you’d be wrong. Look a little closer and you’ll find something very subtle, but very nicely done: the window surrounds. It may not look much but, while all the glass was out for the paint job, Lala took all the mouldings that fit between the glass and bodywork, and wrapped them in a fabulously deep gloss black wrap. Not only does this look really neat, but you just have to think of how much of a nightmare it must have been to do.

    Externally the look gets further enhancements with the fitment of American side marker lights, smoked headlamps, taillights and badges. The window glass has been replaced with some from a pre-1985 model, purely because the glass had a tasteful bronze tint to it (unlike this 1989 version). This was then made deeper by adding another layer of tint, thus creating a totally unique shade.

    How many times do you feel a tad disappointed when you’ve read all the interesting guff about the fancy bodywork and the trick bits only to be told that the engine has been left totally standard? Well, brace yourself, because this motor is pretty standard too but, before you go all ‘I told you so’ on us, remember one thing, this is a 635CSi which has the lusty 3.4-litre ‘Big Six’ under the bonnet. That’s over 200 feisty ponies in there wanting to get out so – why mess with something that good? Lala has added an induction kit, though, and a bespoke exhaust, making the tuneful straight-six sound even better, from air going in to exhaust gases coming out. To top off the whole package the standard 635 brakes up front have been swapped for the beefier ones from an 840.

    With the subtle changes, bespoke additions and attention to detail, Lala has given us a worthy sequel to his original Jaws, and just when you thought it was safe to go back on the road… This is real proof that sequels can work and work well, providing the main character has what it takes, of course, and this 635 has exactly that.

    “The idea of the chin spoiler was to give the impression of a shark’s open mouth”

    DATA FILE #Air-ride / #BMW-E24 / #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-635CSi-E24 / #BMW-6-Series / #BMW-6-Series-E24 / #M-System / #BMW-E24-Air-ride / #BMW-635CSi-Air-ride / #BMW-635CSi-Air-ride-E24 / #BMW /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B35 / #M30 / #BMW-M30 , induction kit, stainless steel exhaust system, four-speed auto gearbox #ZF-4HP / #ZF

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) custom three-piece #M5-M-System-II-Style-21 ‘Throwing Stars’ with 3.5” (front) and 4” (rear) polished lips and 18ct gold-plated hardware, 235/35 (front) and 255/30 (rear) tyres, Air Lift Performance air suspension, 840Ci brakes (front)

    EXTERIOR Full respray in BMW Nogaro silver, gloss black wrapped window surrounds, pressed metal gills in front wings, custom E30 M3 chin spoiler, Volvo 850 side skirts, pre-1985 bronze window glass with additional tint, American side marker lights, smoked headlights and tail-lights

    INTERIOR Re-trim in terracotta leather, modified doorcards and centre console, #M-Tech 2 steering wheel, custommounted #AutoPilot-V2 digital air-ride controller, single #ViAir compressor, single air tank, 2x #Pioneer Champion Series 12” subs

    “The idea of the chin spoiler was to give the impression of a shark’s open mouth”

    The craftsmanship of the interior is something to behold…

    “Jaws was certainly male, so this car must be a bloke too”
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    BUMP AND GRIND

    Think of Indonesia and you probably don’t think of modified BMs, but this bagged E46 is one impressive machine. As we strive to bring you the best creations from around the world, we uncover #Drive-My ’s first Indonesian E46, and what a star it is. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Muhammad Balbed.

    I probably say this every year, but I can’t quite believe how quickly March has come around, it seemed like only yesterday I was seeing in the new year, and now we’re almost a quarter of the way into 2009… It will be Christmas soon. More worryingly, this month marks a rather significant chapter in my life – six years on Performance #BMW , and what a long way it’s come in that time. I’m not just talking about the style and layout of the magazine but the content as well. Funnily enough, then Editor Greg Emmerson often complained of struggling to find enough BMWs in the UK to fill the magazine. Nothing’s changed there sadly, and whilst we still regularly turn to the States and Scandinavia for inspiration we’re now looking beyond the familiar European getaways to places like Finland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia to places in south east Asia including Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, the list goes on.


    Hailing from Indonesia this car is no different, but when it comes to styling cues interestingly, there are some similarities to what we were seeing over half a decade ago. Wide-body conversions, for example, were commonplace back then but it was more Japinfluenced (think Mitsubishi Evo or Nissan Skyline R34) what with the influx of the Fast and the Furious-styled cars dominating the tuning scene. Fortunately rice rockets no longer have the same status, and rather than the in-yer-face, ill-fitting, garish-coloured body kits, it’s now more about being restrained yet unique at the same time. The arches on this 2000 318i for instance are custom creations extending 4cm up front and 6cm out back, and for owner Arief Wibowo, quality has been key throughout the build, as he explains: “Not a lot of people know how to properly modify a BMW in this country, they come up with their own designs but without looking at what other tuners or individuals are doing. I wanted to prove you can still be different but also win contests.”

    Having bought it brand new and leaving it standard for five years, the modifying bug that was lying dormant (originally kickstarted by a stint with Hondas when he was studying in Melbourne, Australia, for eight years) finally took hold again. Contractor Arief takes up the story: “My partner (from Facelift workshop) and I thought long and hard about what to do with the exterior for a month, researching various magazines and websites before coming up with a design that we like to think is influenced by the European luxury car sector.” Over the next 18 months the transformation gradually began to take shape. M-Tech II bumpers and side skirts lent the car a more muscular appearance alongside those new meaty loins, which haven’t strayed too far from the E46’s original lines. Meanwhile a smattering of CSL-inspired carbon parts including a front lip, rear diffuser, roof and (genuine) boot lid adhere to current trends where mesh and chrome once dominated; where Lexus-style rear clusters would have perhaps sat are now M3 alternatives, thankfully.

    Moving inside and only the best leather in Indonesia would do for Arief, and it also happens to be the only car with this colour hide in the country as well. Rich Bordeaux red in hue and enveloping the seats, centre console and doors, with the headliner colour-matched in Alcantara and the dash resprayed it really is a sumptuous place to be. Those Recaro A8 seats are a lovely addition, and as if they weren’t distinctive enough Arief’s invested in carbon backs to match the interior trim but only left a section in the middle exposed, respraying the rest in white to tie in with the exterior. An install in the boot, just as lovingly and sympathetically executed as the rest of the car makes it the complete show-winner. In fact the first event he attended, Hot Import Nights in Surabaya, he took home seven trophies including Best Sedan and Hottest European.


    If you’ve got a good memory you’ll also recall it wasn’t that unusual to powdercoat the centre of your wheels, however, present fashion dictates you do the lips as well if you really want to stand out; a hint of the Orient you don’t mind embracing. Framed in Candy red with matt black spokes the Dronnel wheels work superbly against the crisp Super white paintwork and carbon weave. Believe it or not this is the second E46 318i to feature in DRIVE-MY with air-ride – an ever increasingly popular alternative to coilovers or lowering springs for that ultimate stance. It’s also meant that Arief has been able to fit the generously sized 20” wheels, measuring 9.5” in width up front, and a respectable 11” out back. “This is definitely my favourite modification, the roads in Indonesia are renowned for being terrible and I don’t want risk damaging the front bumper,” he explains.

    Other chassis upgrades include a big brake kit from Brembo, unnecessary you might think for a 1.9 four-pot until you later learn of the M3 engine he was planning to stuff under the bonnet; was, being the operative word. “It’s hard to find any quality parts for BMWs in Indonesia, never mind the workmanship to fit them. Fortunately money’s not a problem for me and although I’ve got all the parts I need for the swap, many of which had to be imported, sadly no one has the skills required to undertake such a job,” reveals the 26-year-old.

    Perhaps this is the reason why he’s now concentrating all his time and effort on his latest acquisition: a Nissan 350Z, although even he admits to finding it hard going from a European to a JDM car. What hasn’t changed is his passion for modifying – for him it’s more than a hobby, it’s a lifestyle, a philosophy I think we all assign to. Our constant compulsion to innovate is no less strong than it was six years ago, trends and technologies may come and go but one thing’s for sure, we’ll never grow tired of seeking them out in that ever-ending quest to attract attention and distinguish ourselves from the crowd, whatever part of the world you live in.

    THE FIRST EVENT HE ATTENDED, HOT IMPORT NIGHTS IN SURABAYA, HE TOOK HOME SEVEN TROPHIES

    M-Tech II bumpers and side skirts lent the car a more muscular appearance alongside those new meaty loins.

    DATA FILE #BMW-318i / #BMW-318i-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 /

    ENGINE: 1.9-litre four-cylinder #M43 / #BMW-M43 , GruppeM air intake, remap, carbon fibre engine, battery and switch cover

    CHASSIS: 9.5x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) #Dronnel forged magnesium wheels with powdercoated matt black centres and anodised Red Candy lips shod in 235/45 and 275/35 Continental CS2 tyres. #Air-Lift air-ride utilizing #H&R shocks with Dakota digital ride height controller, carbon fibre suspension tube. Front #Brembo GT Big Brake Kit including six-piston calipers and 335mm discs, rear #Brembo-GT Big Brake Kit including four-piston calipers and 322mm discs

    EXTERIOR: #M-Tech II front bumper, carbon fibre Arqray lip, side skirts and rear bumper with carbon fibre diffuser, Varis carbon fibre cooling bonnet, custom carbon fibre roof and #AC-Schnitzer spoiler, custom front (with vents) and rear arches extended 4cm and 6cm respectively, M3 CSL boot lid, custom carbon fibre headlight inserts, M3 LED rear lights, full respray in Spies Hecker Super white

    INTERIOR: Recaro A8 seats with carbon fibre backs resprayed white, carbon fibre interior trim, roof liner retrimmed in Alcantara, dashboard resprayed in Bordeux red, Hamann pedals, full retrim in Bordeux red leather

    ICE: Clarion HX-D2 head unit, Scanspeak 9600 special edition tweeter and 15W/40 mid, Zapco DCS1000.4 and DCS750.6 amplifier, three X-tant 10” subwoofers, two Critical Mass Engineering 1.2 farad cap banks, Van Den Hull cables, install retrimmed in Bordeux red Alcantara

    THANKS: God, my parents, wife Lita, Ultraman Kids, Mr Liangga Gunawan at Facelift Motorsport, Mr Cahyadi at RPM, Mr Chandra at Esprit Motorsport
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    STYLE CHALLENGE

    An awesome E46 323i four-door packing a #BBK , carbon goodies and #Schnitzer styling galore. At a loss how to modify your four-door E46? Let Alan Lam and #AC-Schnitzer show you how. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Matt Barnes.

    There are some BMWs that effortlessly ooze class. These are the cars that when cruising past, you stare longingly at, not because they’re intrusively loud or garishly decorated, but because they’ve been beautifully and thoughtfully modified. Money’s been thrown in all the right places, and the owner has insisted on the best to make his ride become even more of a rewarding driving machine and easier on the eye.

    With BMW’s current 3 Series, most choose the Coupé variant as the base for modifying work. And who can blame them? The two-door is indeed a design marvel in terms of beauty and desirability, so it’s an ideal starting block. Those with the saloon version are presented with more of a modifying challenge. It’s by no means an ugly car, but a little more thought has to go into how to bring the best out of the practical four-door. Looking at Alan Lam’s ’00 323i, we think he’s pretty much cracked it.

    The native New Yorker is by all accounts one of the most enthusiastic BMW modifiers we’ve ever met – you’d be lucky to find anyone more knowledgeable and helpful about what it takes to make these cars a pleasure to look at and drive. So it’s no surprise to discover the sheer amount of work put into turning his Orient blue 323i into the feature car we have here today.

    Alan’s love affair with the marque goes back to his high school days, where the E36 M3 was his dream car. “It was only after BMW released the pictures of the new E46 I knew I had to get one, though,” he told us. “My first BMW was therefore delivered in December ’99, and it was used as my daily driver to school and work, so modifications were kept at a minimum and nothing major was planned.”

    And how many times have we heard that? It seems Alan started customising the little things, beginning with OEM clear lights all round, and realised there was no way of stopping. The bug had bitten. Before long a Supersprint exhaust and ECIS cold air intake found their way onto the car, and the results were addictive.

    “The E46 was too quiet,” Alan said, “especially driving a manual. You want to hear the engine to let you know when to shift. The exhaust and cold air intake made a dramatic difference in the car’s performance and fun factor, and I found myself blipping the throttle downshifting just to hear the lovely sound the engine now made. I even had the front and rear resonators removed to make it even louder and deeper, and it now sounds just like a stock E36 M3.”


    As you can tell from the photos, however, these mods were just the beginning. Alan discovered Dtmpower.net, Bimmervibe.com and E46fanatics.com on the Internet, and these forums opened up a whole new world of potential tuning ideas. “I found myself browsing on it all day and night learning more about what I could do to the car,” the 26-year-old IS administrator said. Inevitably he met up with like-minded enthusiasts, and knew he wanted more from his car. A lot more.

    Having an overall gameplan is an absolute necessity if you’re modifying to attain a certain look. It’s best to gain inspiration from others, see what there is on the market you think works best, and add your own personal touches. Alan can’t be faulted for his choice of AC Schnitzer styling; a brand, he tells us, he chose due to its racing heritage and reputation as the most widely respected BMW tuner in the world. We’re not about to disagree.

    “I wanted my car to be a Schnitzer car,” he said. “First thing was ordering a full Schnitzer body kit along with a set of 18” rims. I didn’t like the rear spoilers offered by Schnitzer so I decided to go with a Racing Dynamics one instead.” Also at this time, Eibach springs and BogeSachs BMW sport shocks tightened everything up, while a modern styling touch in the shape of xenon front lights courtesy of bekkers.com found their way on. With Hamann eyebrows and shadow grilles added as well, Alan had reached the end of the second stage of modifying. Once again he was satisfied with the car’s look, so you’d have thought he’d have stopped here. No way.

    Styling is one thing, but finding more power really is best for putting a smile on your face. “There were virtually no turbo kits available,” said Alan, “nor any reliable supercharger kits making any decent power at the time. Instead, Rogue Engineering had connections with an excellent BMW technician who was able to do some motor work for me. I got hold of Schrick cams, Jim Conforti Shark Injector software and ended up swapping my ECIS intake in favour of a beautiful Gruppe M carbon fibre unit.” Good choice.

    Soon after, Alan was collecting a first place trophy in the Mild category at Bimmerfest East, and was recruited by TWCompetition. Things were looking up, and so were the planned mods to his 323i. These final mods are basically the look the car sports in the photos, and the sheer amount and quality of work is commendable. Nineteen-inch HRE wheels were custom made by Peter Lee at wheelexperts.com, while the suspension was swapped for H&R coilovers set at maximum drop for the rear and about 90% at the front. That’s seriously low. Riding that close to the tarmac has obvious drawbacks, so, in Alan’s own words, “to help scan the crappy New York roads rolling on big 19s, I swapped the standard halogen foglights for 5300K xenons.”

    Nestled behind those beautiful custom wheels are some serious anchors, 320mm up front courtesy of Brembo, with a Rogue Engineering/Porsche 329mm hybrid setup at the rear. Alan assures us at the time this was done, no other E46 had both front and rear big brakes. Ever the groundbreaker, with the front bumper sporting an Schnitzer add-on becoming more common, Alan changed his for an OEM E46 M3 bumper. With this being almost 2” wider than the 323i item on each side, Ultimate Collision had a hell of a task making it fit, but have certainly excelled themselves with the finish. The addition of a new Schnitzer carbon fibre splitter completes the very tasty new look. Soon after, Schnitzer was called upon again to provide an M3 racing spoiler, a truly unique look for a saloon car.

    Then there’s the final hurrah. If you put a carbon fibre bonnet on the wrong car it’s an expensive mistake, but on Alan’s modified E46 323i it’s a revelation. It blends in nicely with the Orient paint, and completes what is a stunning four-door.

    Standing back to admire it, the final look is a thing of beauty. The custom front bumper, the large but tasteful rear wing, the huge brakes primed for action behind the flawless, polished alloys. It may be a four door, but how many coupés look this desirable? Alan tells us he knows of no other saloon in the US with this look, but we’re hoping many will take inspiration from him to create something even half as nice as his stunning 323i.


    GruppeM carbon fibre air intake – every #BMW should have one!


    DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-323i / #BMW-323i-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #M52TUB25 / #BMW-M52 / #M52B25 / #M52 / #BMW

    ENGINE: 2.5-litre six-cylinder with #Schrick performance 248° cams, #Rogue-Engineering underdrive pulleys, #Gruppe-M carbon fibre air intake, #Jim-Conforti engine software, #Supersprint 76mm cat-back exhaust with both resonators removed, Imola red valve covers

    CHASSIS: 8.5x19” #HRE-448R three-piece forged alloys shod in Toyo T1-S 235/35 tyres. H&R fully adjustable coilover suspension system, #H&R Trak Plus 5mm spacers, #Racing-Dynamics anti-roll bars, #Turner-Motorsports rear shock mounts, silver M3 front strut brace. #Brembo 320mm big brake kit (front), #Rogue-Engineering /Porsche 329mm big brake kit (rear), #Hawk-HPS racing pads, #Goodridge stainless steel brake lines, #ATE Super Blue brake fluid. Rogue Engineering short-shifter, weighted selector rod and tranny mounts. Redline synthetic fluids

    EXTERIOR: Euro-spec OEM M3 bumper custom fitted onto a saloon chassis, #AC-Schnitzer carbon fibre M3 front spoiler, aluminium stabiliser struts, rear apron, roof spoiler, sport mirrors, racing wing and badges, Fiber Images carbon fibre bonnet. Hamann shadow grilles, Hamann eyebrows, #M-Tech side skirts, Nova 4 professional strobe kit, custom fitted facelift ’02 BMW rear lights, Euro-spec clear side repeaters, xenon 5200K foglight kit, xenon 5200K ellipsoid headlights.

    INTERIOR: M3 leather sport seats custom fitted into saloon, two-tone leather treatment, Sparco Clubman threepoint safety harnesses, AC Schnitzer full pedal set and floor mats. Aluminium interior trim and gear shift, NR Auto aluminium gauges, Isotta chrome gear shift surround

    ICE: Alpine 7965 CD head unit, CHA 1214 12-disc changer, SPR 176A 6.5” components, SPR 172A 6.5” coaxial. Rockford Fosgate 400 four-channel amp, 360 two-channel amp, 1.0 Farad capacitor. Allumapro BP10 subwoofer enclosure

    THANKS: TWCompetition, Peter at wheelexperts.com, Samir at Rennsport.com, Tom Chang at Bimmerfesteast.com, Ooro and Drea at Bimmervibe.com, Jimmy at Pfactor.com, Mark and Ben at Rogueengineering.com, Barry at Race Technologies, Dtmpower.net, E46fanatics.com, Cave Crew, Michael Cajayon, Rich Pinto at Rtechnic, my girlfriend Mabel, friends and family

    Above: Rogue Engineering/Porsche 329mm big brake kit for the rears! Up front are Brembo 320mm. Left: Plenty of lovely carbon fibre.
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    THE LOST CITY

    A pair of nicely-modded UK E36 Tourings finished in rare Atlantis blue.

    Atlantis blue is a rare colour, so to find two E36 Tourings in the hue and both on the UK’s scene is pretty special – especially when they’ve been modified too. Words: Ben Koflach /// Photos: Gary Hawkins

    If we had to name a car that’s gained a lot of popularity on the modified scene lately it would have to be the E36 Touring. Sure, the Coupé is undoubtedly the king of the modified E36 generation, but the Touring has been finding a stronger following than ever before. The estates, for whatever reason, often seem to be better looked after, and with plenty of engine options available there’s a car out there for everyone. The reason they’ve been getting stronger on the scene, though, is perhaps partly due to these two. The Atlantis blue pair are both quite different despite their shared hue – we found out more about them and their owners, Oliver Ross and Dips Amin.

    Ollie’s #BMW-328i-SE / #BMW-328i-SE-E36

    Of the two Tourings you see before you here, Ollie’s could perhaps be described as the longtermer. He’s had it for almost six years now, and in that time he’s completely transformed it into the ultimate all-rounder.

    Being a family man and needing to use the car every day, it had to do everything well, and he’s certainly achieved that.

    When purchased, the rare Atlantis blue Touring already had some goodies fitted, namely an M Tech front bumper and rubstrips, black kidney grilles and 18” MV2 wheels from an E46. From the factory it had white indicators all-round and a full leather interior with Individual piping, so as you can imagine it looked pretty good to start with!

    As you may have guessed, Ollie had some different plans for it. In the long-term, he knew he had a couple of rust issues to tidy up, but in the meantime he set about changing the rolling stock and improving the 2.8’s soundtrack. Unfortunately Ollie’s first wheel change didn’t exactly go to plan – he managed to source some Schnitzer reps going cheap. Being one of his favourite wheel designs he snapped them up; unfortunately part of the cheapness was due to the fact that he was buying blind. See where this is going?


    Yep, you guessed it – the offset of the wheels was far too low, meaning that they were a completely unviable solution. “I was absolutely gutted!” said Ollie. “Dips PM’d me on the DRIVE-MY forum, saying that he could roll my arches – but I didn’t want that. Dips bought the wheels from me at the price I paid – this was my first dealing with Custom Cars. Most of my work is now done by them, the standard is so high that I will happily travel two hours to get work done there.”

    With the wheels gone to a good home, Ollie just got on with what he could – he had a second-hand custom exhaust sitting around, which he simply had to fit. It actually had upswept #DTM-style tailpipes and posed a few fitting problems; nothing Ollie and a good mate of his couldn’t tackle, however. A couple of the mounting bolts needed tweaking to allow fitment, while the style of the exhaust was also changed. Using an angle grinder the upswept parts of the exhaust were cut off, with the remaining pipes left in a staggered tip formation and finished off with a touch of filing. “I don’t know what brand it is,” Ollie said, “but it’s damn loud!”

    Though understandably happy with the exhaust, Ollie still had that wheel disaster in his mind. It was all about to change, though, as he ordered a set of 8.5x18” #BBS-GT -RS replicas for the Tourer. They look mighty good, as you can see, but there was a series of touches planned for the 2011 season…

    Ollie had been lucky enough to pick up a pair of M3 mirrors, a Raid steering wheel and a few other cool touches, though the main addition was Hottuning coilovers; none of the new parts, however, cost Ollie too much thanks to his various contacts and a keen eye for a deal. Indeed, the same can be said for almost every part of the build.

    A Storm gear knob was sourced soon after, meaning the Touring was treated to quite some makeover. Pressed steel plates were added, too, followed by one of our favourite details on this Touring, colour-coded BBS centre badges, which were sourced through a fellow DRIVE-MY forum member.

    Many of you will have no doubt seen the Touring at shows throughout 2011 but it was in preparation for this year that Ollie really stepped things up a notch…

    As well as a set of M3 side skirts and a rear bumper, Ollie sourced a spoiler, M3 front bumper mesh and intake trumpets. Booked into Custom Cars so that Dips could work his magic, it was also the perfect opportunity for the various small bubbles of rust and other imperfections to be eliminated. The front roundel was removed and smoothed at the same time. Inside, a JVC DVD headunit was added, as well as screens linking to it in the headrests, perfect for keeping the kids happy.

    To keep Ollie happy too, more power was needed to keep his right foot entertained, no matter which pedal it was pushing down on. For the right-hand pedal, the popular M50 manifold conversion was carried out, along with the fitment of a big bore throttle body, while finishing off the under-bonnet appearance is a US M3 engine cover and colour-coded strut brace end plates.

    A recent dyno run over at BW Chiptune suggests that it’s making a very healthy 222.8bhp. And the upgrade for the middle pedal? That’s an E46 330i front brake setup, consisting of 325mm ATE discs (up from 286mm) and beefier calipers than the standard E36 affair.

    Ollie’s final touch, and one that really makes his E36 stand out, is the gold centres on the wheels. Inspired by Robbie Langelier’s BMW E30 3-Series, he had Dips lay down those perfect golden coats, making them really stand out and contrast with the Atlantis blue to great effect.

    Subtly smoked front indicators complete the exterior, while Ollie played a clever trick for the final interior touch. He managed to strike up a deal with a mate of his who happens to be a handy seamstress. Being a cookery teacher by day, he’s pretty good with a stove to say the least, so he baked her a cake in exchange for her redoing the stitching on his gaiters in an Atlantis blue- matching thread – a very neat touch.

    The last addition in the story so far is M3 door sill trims, which are genuine parts he managed to get second-hand from an M3 saloon. “They’re £90 each from the dealers – there was no way I was paying that!” he laughed. They make a perfect addition, especially considering Ollie’s future plans.

    “I’ve wanted to put an M3 engine in for some time,” he said. “It’s become a case of not if but when. Even my kids Megan and Dylan always ask about when I’ll do the M3 conversion – they adore the Touring.”

    Being able to keep the whole family happy is no mean feat, but the fact it’s been managed with this E36, and on a budget, proves that nothing is impossible.

    Dips’ 323i

    In comparison to Ollie’s lengthy build, the time scale of Dips’ Touring is minuscule – it was turned around in just a week! That makes it no less effective mind you. As a serial parts hoarder and a man with all the skills and owner of Custom Cars, this was simply an exercise in turning a standard Tourer into something very effective indeed.

    “I’d spent the show season working on customer’s cars at my company Custom Cars and so hadn’t actually built anything for myself,” Dips told us. “When this Atlantis Touring came up it was just too good to say no – at the time Ollie’s was the only other one on the scene, so once I’d checked he didn’t mind and promised to do it differently, I went to collect it. My good friend Richard Ansari came with me to collect it from Somerset. It only cost £1000 and started as a basic 323i manual – you can’t be fussy if you want a rare colour like Atlantis.”

    With the Players show just around the corner, Dips had his work cut out, and so got straight into turning the Touring into a show-worthy stunner. “The boys down at HTS Motorsport really helped me out – I was so busy with customer cars and rims still that I just didn’t have the space. They were absolutely fundamental in bringing it all together,” Dips revealed.

    The helping hands at HTS kindly fitted the interior you see before you. Dips sourced it on eBay and Sunny at HTS had it fitted after two days of work – to say it looks better than the black cloth previously fitted would be a real understatement. A Storm gear knob, custom gaiters and an M-Tech steering wheel are the only additions other than that extended cream and champagne cow-hide – you’ll probably have noted that even the headliner was swapped.

    “To be honest most of the car was pretty plain sailing,” Dips explained. “It’s actually quite a simple car compared to some of the other projects I’ve had, but everyone seems to love it.” Part of what made it simple was the fact that all of the bodywork, and indeed the wheels, were already in Dips’ collection. But more on that later – there were quite a few steps to be taken before it was ready to be put back together. JOM coilovers were fitted, and the arches were treated to a roll so that they’d be more homely for the planned footwear. The exhaust was also swapped for a full T304 stainless item, including the manifold, which was purchased very cheaply from eBay. “It needed a bit of fabrication work from Sunny to get it fitted perfectly, but it looks and sounds really good,” Dips added. 6000k HIDs, angel eyes and Brembo brake components completed the first part of the makeover – from then on it was time to raid Dips’ hoard and get busy with the paint gun.

    Ultra-rare parts are one of Dip’s speciality, which was fortunate as, after all, he’d promised to go down a different look to Ollie’s Touring and that meant he couldn’t use M3 parts. The route he’s chosen is to use an AC Schnitzer kit, consisting of front and rear bumpers as well as mirrors. He’s after the side skirts to complete the set, but in all honesty it looks good without them.

    Of course, the new parts needed painting to match the Atlantis blue finish, which Dips carried out as well as smoothing the front and rear roundels. “The base car was really good, so we only needed to paint the bits we added, the bonnet, bootlid and lower quarters,” Dips explained. “Kos then spent two days detailing it. We were up until 2am the night before Players to get it ready!”

    The final step was the wheels; classic RH Toplines in 8.5x17” and 10x17” are pretty hard to come by, and with some fairly substantial tyre stretch they’ve been made to fit rather nicely indeed. In fact, the fronts have even been spaced out 15mm to match the boundary-pushing rear fitment.

    “I can’t keep spending money on this Touring – it owes me £5.5k so far, which isn’t too much, but I really need to get on with my other 17 projects!” Dips laughed. Don’t think this is the end of his plans for E36 Tourings, mind you – he’s also got a Sierra red 328i which will be getting some pretty spectacular treatment in the coming months.

    This one may have had a quick turnaround, but it’s fair to say it looks spectacular – whist keeping it distinctively different look to Ollie’s – Dips certainly kept his promise.

    By themselves these Tourings look stunning, but together they’re even better.

    Custom stitching and Champagne leather – a nice combination!

    DATA FILE #BMW-E36 / #BMW-E36-Touring / #BMW-325i-E36 / #BMW-325i-Touring-E36 / #BMW-325i-Touring / #BMW-325i / #BBS

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 2.5-litre straight-six #M52B25 , custom painted covers, full T307 stainless steel exhaust including headers. Standard transmission with short-shift kit

    CHASSIS: 8.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) RH Toplines shod in 205/40 and 235/35 Falken tyres respectively, 15mm front spacer. JOM coilovers. #Brembo discs and pads all-round

    EXTERIOR: #AC-Schnitzer front bumper, AC Schnitzer rear bumper, AC Schnitzer electric mirrors, front numberplate blank, smoked front and side indicators, smoked foglights, all-red rear lights, bonnet and bootlid debadged, M3 rubstrips (colour-coded), 6000k HIDs and angel eyes

    INTERIOR: Extended cream/champagne leather interior, black leather gaiters with custom blue stitching, dog guard, Storm gear knob, #M-Tech steering wheel

    THANKS: Custom Cars, HTS Motorsport, Jason at BW Chiptune, Kos for the detail work before every show and shoot, all the forum boys and girls for the support and all the boys for their running around

    Ollie’s aim to keep the whole family happy has been met thanks to his series of mods.

    DATA FILE #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-328i-Touring-E36 / #BMW-328i-Touring / #BMW-328i /

    ENGINE: 2.8-litre straight-six #M52B28 / #M52 / #BMW-M52 , #M50 manifold conversion, big-bore throttle body, debaffled airbox, US M3 engine cover, stainless steel cat-back exhaust with customized tips. Five-speed manual gearbox, short-shifter

    CHASSIS: 8.5x18” #BBS-GT-RS replica wheels with polished lips and gold centres, gold valve caps and custom centre caps, 225/40 Falken 452s. Hottuning coilovers. E46 330i front brake conversion with #ATE discs and Pagid pads, OEM rear brakes

    EXTERIOR: M3 front bumper, M3 mesh with colourcoded air trumpets, M3 splitter, M3 rear bumper, rear diffuser adapted to fit exhaust, M3 side skirts, M3 electric mirrors, M3 bumpstrips, debadged bonnet, gloss black kidney grilles, smoked front indicators

    INTERIOR: Standard black leather with Individual Atlantis blue piping, Raid steering wheel, Storm Motorwerks gear knob, custom stitching on gaiters, M3 sill covers

    THANKS: Dips and Kos and Damien at Tyreweb in Ashford, Eleanor from work and all the guys on the #Drive-My and e36coupe forums but ultimately to Lucy (wife) and Megan and Dylan (kids) for their time and patience
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    E30 325i TOURING SWEET LIKE CHOCOLATE

    This gorgeous brown E30 Touring is good enough to eat. Fed up of seeing the same old shit? Aside from a ground-scrapingly low stance, unique wheels and paint job, Custom Cars’ latest demo vehicle proves that with a few special touches and not much money you can produce a feature car. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Simon Dodd.

    In my opinion, the reason why the VW scene is at the forefront of the modifying game and continually moving on to the next level, is ultimately down to two factors. Firstly, they’re not afraid to put their hands in their pockets, and when 19” Phaeton wheels and a twin-turbo W12 Bentley engine pushes the ceiling, they’re not reluctant to think outside the box either. Unfortunately, it’ll be a while until we fully hit it, but owner of this quite sublime E30 Touring, Dipesh Amin, is desperate to give the UK scene a new injection of life. No doubt most of you will already know the name, an influential member of the PBMW forum and the man behind styling specialist Custom Cars. His first creation, a turbo’d E30 M3 with 3.5 conversion, was featured in March 2005, and has since spurred a number of one-off force induced E30 Tourings, and more recently, Patrick Samuels’ E34 M5-engined E30 M3 Cabriolet.


    Built for £7000, this 325i is proof that you don’t need to remortgage your house to create a car worthy of being splashed on these very pages. Ultimately, the key ingredients to this ride are hard slammed suspension, unique wheels and an individual colour scheme, oh, and a few special styling touches to give it the edge. It’s clean as heck. Too clean perhaps, as Dips mentioned to me that on more than one occasion he has had to actually point out what he’s done to admiring onlookers, but there’s no denying that OEM+ along with a bit of imagination gets attention, even if you’re not sure what has been done.


    Unfortunately, and it’s a view that Dips very clearly shares with us, a lot of BMW owners suffer from blinkered vision. Rather than setting trends and being original, they prefer to stick with what’s safe, which frankly, is just boring. While the overall standard of Bavarian metal in the UK has been raised over the past few years, we’re still going to shows and finding row upon row of very similarly styled and tuned cars.

    Surely modifying is about pushing boundaries and making an individual statement, so okay you may borrow a few ideas here and there, but there really are no set rules or regulations, especially if you want to make a statement with your creation. And this car certainly does that!

    When you’re the owner of an independent workshop, customers’ cars take priority over your own, meaning this ’88 Touring sat unloved and untouched for three years, bought back when he first had the idea of building a retro car. Fortunately, the engine had been rebuilt by the previous owner, so all that remained was for Dips to freshen up the mechanicals; new wishbones, bushes, drop links and rod ends, among other things, were sourced and fitted. Being an automatic, internal engine upgrades or forced induction were never part of the agenda. Instead a Quikshift air filter was employed, which uses extremely fine stainless steel wire mesh to maximise air flow, along with a Powerflow exhaust system, and bringing that magical 150bhp to the party is a Dynotune nitrous oxide direct port kit. In some respects, it is considered the most complicated to install due to the required plumbing, but Dips tells me the benefits far outweigh the complexities. Not only are direct port systems nicer to look at, but because the injector nozzles are screwed into each runner of the intake manifold, you can jet per cylinder and control how much fuel and nitrous go into each for optimum power delivery (in this case up 1300bhp).

    Sadly the car wasn’t ready for the Ultimate #BMW show at Santa Pod, but they’re hoping to test it at the Flame and Thunder event later this month.

    Now it may look as though this car is on air-ride, but Dips’ Touring has been lowered the traditional way – on coilovers. The prototype three-way adjustable setup (height, damper and rebound) with remote reservoirs has been supplied by Automac and has enabled Dips to drop the front by a highly respectable 100mm and 80mm at the rear. Aiding the slam job is the original set of 16” BBS RM wheels, but to make them stand out they were sent to Germany for bigger dishes, once 6.5” in width they now measure 8” up front and 9” out back. And if that wasn’t enough, the rims were then steam cleaned, sprayed black and the face fully polished. Custom shallower centre caps were made and fitted and each bolt plated in 24-carat gold, although Dips got the shock of his life when he realised it would set him back £3 a bolt and with 32 on each corner, that amounts to quite a bit! The rims look superb however, especially against the sumptuous, rich and silky smooth brown bodywork, and the tyres are so low profile, they look like they have been painted on!

    While the motoring consumers’ preference for silver and black continues to grow, Dips decided to throw a spanner in the works with his custom Renault brown hue flecked with gold pigments. Once staple of the earth-tone ’70s, brown is now the colour synonymous with 21st century high-end luxury cars and, it seems, fitting for the beautifully proportioned E30 – now the epitome of retro cool. “If you’re going to spend 2k on a paint job, why not go for something completely different? We experimented for weeks with different shades from various manufacturers but it was worth it, this colour works so well with the rims and interior,” explained Dips.

    It’s not just the colour that aids this car visually, it’s the subtle approach Dips has taken with his careful choice of adding and deleting certain parts. One of the original reasons for buying this Touring was because of the electric glass sunroof, a rare factory option that modifiers in the States apparently pay up to £500 for, and the first we’ve ever come across. The M-Tech 2 kit already fitted was unfortunately in a bad way, so it was stripped down before being resprayed, at which time the handles and mirrors were colour-coded, the kidney grille de-chromed and smoked MHW rear lights and Hella fronts employed. This car is a real test for people who claim to know their E30s; the rear wiper, side repeaters and locks for example have been deleted, so has the notch in the petrol cap, and the bonnet and bootlid flushed. The front and rear arches have both been flared and the diffuser is custom-made from plumbers’ copper piping, a real testament to the handiwork of Dips. In a bid to continually evolve, he was even thinking of going for a bronze window tint, but with the factory tinge being slightly green it wouldn’t have worked. Being an E30 owner myself, it really made me think just what is possible with the right vision and mindset, the detailing is in abundance.


    Similarly, the interior left me feeling very ashamed of my own efforts. The roof lining was sagging, so it was retrimmed in black Alcantara along with the A, B and C pillars.

    The carpet was dyed the same colour, and to provide a contrast, the glove box, centre console, under dash tray, outer trim of the door cards, centre section of the steering wheel and even the nitrous activation switch were colonised and colour matched to the beige leather sports seats. These are perhaps the more noticeable changes, but did you spot the rear headrests that were fitted along with the 15lb nitrous bottle and unique rectangular shaped Vibe 6x9s in the boot, both sprayed to match the exterior?

    No, what about the auto shift, which Dips swapped for an E46 item and retrimmed the inner section of in brown Alcantara to match the steering wheel? Not exactly retro but a definite improvement over the old Tshape knob. In keeping with the two-tone theme, the face of the instrument cluster was smoked with additional LEDs fitted to help the dials stand out, and a black CD tuner was sourced, in this case the Sony CDX-CA900. And if you think all of that’s anal, you’ve got another thing coming.

    “No one ever modifies their rear view mirror so I thought why not use it to house the auxiliary gauges. Impractical as hell, but cool,” Dips explained. You’re telling us! Having paid £50 for an M-Tech 2 sports mirror in order to utilise the wire within the stalk for the map reading light, people thought he was mad when they heard he was going to cut it up, and then reduce the gauges to almost a quarter of their size in order to get them to fit!

    For Dips this car combines two of his most favourite aspects in a car – it looks good but you can also cane the shit out of it – it’s no cotton wool show car, that’s for sure! Having bought it for next to nothing, he’s turned what he literally describes as a shed into what is in our view, one of the best E30 Tourings to date. Perhaps more impressive is the strict budget he adhered to, and the fact it was built in his garage with the help of few friends in just three weeks, proof that almost anyone can create a car of the same level. Okay, so he’s been working with cars for the past 20 years, and he learnt mechanics working in main dealerships, but the bodywork side of things was self-taught. “E30s are limited as to what you can do with them but you have to work with what you’ve got. If you have the right ideas and the vision to see what the car will look like finished you can’t go wrong,” he explained to us. Our point exactly, and if you needed any further evidence, just look at what he’s done for customers to date. In Dips’ endless quest to keep modifying, pushing the scene forward and open up people’s eyes to just what’s possible, we’re glad to tell you there’s still a lot more to come from the Custom Cars stable.

    Direct-port nitrous oxide kit not for the faint-hearted. We’d sure like to see what it brings to the party at Santa Pod.

    Special thanks to RAC Auto Windscreens that kindly agreed to let us use its Feltham fitting centre for the shoot.

    Low enough for you? We love strict regime of colour-coding and deleting Dips has adhered to.

    “No one ever modifies their rear view mirror so I thought why not use it to house the auxiliary gauges. Impractical as hell, but cool.” You’re telling us!

    DATA FILE / #1988 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-325i-Touring-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-325i-Touring / #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i / #DynoTune / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E30 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 2.5-litre straight-six #M20 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B25 rebuilt with #M20-DynoTune direct-port nitrous oxide system jetted to 150bhp including braided fuel lines and nitrous lines, #Quikshift air filter and #Powerflow stainless steel straight-through exhaust system with twin 3” rolled pipes, four-speed EH auto switchable Sport gearbox

    CHASSIS: 8x15” (front) and 9x15” (rear) #BBS-RM / #BBS custom wheels with 24-carat gold plated bolts and custom centre caps shod in 195/45 Toyo tyres and 215/40 Dunlop tyres respectively, 15mm spacer on the rear, Automac prototype three-way adjustable coilovers (lowered 100mm up front and 80mm out back) with new wishbones, bushes, drop links and rod ends, #Brembo brake discs and #Pagid pads all round

    EXTERIOR: #M-Tech 2 body kit, custom rear diffuser, flared front and rear arches, flushed bonnet, tailgate and petrol cap, side repeaters and locks deleted, colour-coded door handles and mirrors, kidney grille de-chromed, MHW smoked rear lights and Hella fronts, full respray in custom Renault brown with gold flake

    INTERIOR: Sports beige leather seats with M logo, colour matched and colonised glove box, centre console, under dash tray, outer trim of door cards and centre section of the steering wheel, A, B and C pillars and roof lining retrimmed in black Alcantara, rear headrests fitted, E46 auto shifter with inner section retrimmed in brown Alcantara to match steering wheel, M-Tech aluminium pedals, smoked instrument cluster face with additional LEDs, smoked auxiliary gauges (oil and water temperature, and oil pressure) custom fitted to an M-Tech 2 rear view mirror, carpet dyed black, beige mats and load cover, colour-coded 15lb nitrous bottle in boot

    ICE: Sony CDX-CA900 CD tuner, Vibe SEK50 5.25” components and QB69 rectangular shaped 6x9 speakers

    THANKS: Custom Cars (07957 432167, 07956 605065) & all the boys that helped out, Automac GB Ltd (020 8440 8700)

    Have you ever seen anything like it? Auxiliary gauges fitted to the rear view mirror, just one of many custom touches.

    “We experimented for weeks with different shades from various manufacturers but it was worth it, this colour works so well with the rims and interior”
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    SLAMMED WAGON
    Awesome ultra-low E39 LOW LIFE / A slammed static E39 Touring that gets everything right.

    The E39 Touring has always been an extremely handsome machine and a few choice mods can get it looking even better. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Marcus Lundell.

    I remember reading the E39 Touring brochure back in #1997 (my aunt was thinking of getting one) and I recall thinking the E39 looked rather elegant and upmarket, shot as it was in that expensive brochure style. It remains a very smart-looking estate today, having aged well and retained a sense of grace and luxury. It is the sort of car you can imagine a well-to-do family driving down to their holiday home on the coast in. That is until someone like Henrik Karlsson gets his hands on it…

    Henrik is not married to someone called Arabella, does not have children with names like Tabitha and Quentin, and doesn’t holiday on the Devon coast – mainly because he lives in Sweden. And he’s clearly blessed with a discerning eye for design (a national trait perhaps?) as with just a few carefully considered selection of choice modifications, Henrik’s twisted the E39 Touring’s restrained elegance into something far sleeker.

    As he’s from Sweden, it is no surprise to learn that Henrik tried out some Volvos but when he got behind the wheel of what was to become his first BMW, a 523i (that he still owns), he fell in love and that was that. He made the 523i his and although it was fine, he had a hankering for a Sport Touring. With no previous record of modifying beyond audio upgrades, his plans for a potential estate were to simply leave it alone and use it as a daily. “That didn’t work out…” smiles Henrik sheepishly.

    A Touring was duly sourced from Blocket.se, Sweden’s largest used car site, and Henrik swiftly launched all plans for stock motoring out of the window and left them to rot in a ditch somewhere. As you can see, this E39 is far removed from stock.

    However, the list of mods isn’t an overflowing cascade of barely-restrained expenditure. Instead it’s a concise collection of clever alterations. This project is all about making a big impact with just a few modifications – something that’s far harder to achieve than it perhaps sounds, as it requires an innate understanding of the aesthetics of (car) design.

    So, first things first, this Touring is static. Considering how far up into the arches those awesome Hamann splits are tucked and the fact that there’s maybe 20mm between the bottom of that front lip and the Tarmac, that’s seriously impressive. We can’t help but think that even errant acorns might be enough to halt the Touring’s progress, wedging themselves between bumper and road. This level of low takes dedication to the cause, and Henrik’s clearly got that in spades. The job of dropping this E39 Touring on its arse falls to a set of BC Racing coilovers, or rather a pair, as they only do the work up front. At the back, Henrik’s wagon is rocking SLS, BMW’s self-levelling suspension setup, which is great at keeping the rear end flat when it’s full of shopping or kitchen appliances but somewhat restrictive when it comes to getting your Touring as low as possible. Getting the SLS to play ball can be achieved through the use of some special lowering links however Henrik took a slightly different route, as he explains: “There’s a sensor on each side of the wheel.


    This sensor has a little arm which controls the height of the SLS, so if you’re loading the car with stuff it will raise automatically to keep the right height level. I noticed that, so I took the arm off the sensor so I could control the height and made the cables to the sensor longer and brought it inside the car.”

    Handily, Henrik has shot a little video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBTI1oWSUw0) showing how it works and it really is as simple as it sounds, with the factory suspension now obeying his every command and essentially behaving like an air-ride system. It’s very clever stuff and cost him nothing, making it the best sort of mod. With the rear suspension successfully fiddled with, the Touring’s back end could now be brought in line with the front, which Henrik has wound down to within an inch of its life, and the end result is awesome.

    Whatever your viewing angle, this Touring looks spectacular. Outrageous lows achieved, it was only right that the car was paired with a suitably eye-catching set of wheels, and Henrik’s picked a classic rim that couldn’t look more at home on the Touring if it tried. “I was thinking about OZ Futuras,” he tells us, “but the Hamann PG1 was a little rarer, and when I saw these wheels I couldn’t resist buying them. I built the wheels to the measurements that I wanted as well, so they got pretty wide. I pulled the rear arches about 17mm on each side to make the wheels fit and about 10mm at the front.” The Hamanns measure 18” across with the fronts being 10.25” wide with an outrageous offset of -10, while the rears are 11.25” with an offset of +3. It’s no wonder, then, that the arches needed to be rolled and pulled so aggressively to get them to fit, but the effort was well worth it. It goes without saying that the wheels themselves look absolutely awesome; the dish is absolutely insane and the mirror lips and dark centres are a dream combo.

    A Sport trim Touring slammed on its arse with a set of killer wheels would be enough on its own for many of us. But Henrik isn’t like many of us; he’s the cool, calculating Swede with an eye for combining clean lines with big impact, remember? And, true to form, Henrik figured that there was a room for a bit more improvement on the styling front, just a little something to give his E39 a bit more impact. “I wanted some OEM styling,” he explains, “so I bought the Hamann front lip and black grille. I don’t like chrome so I had to change that and I also changed the door strips to black with the M badges.” Getting rid of the chrome was definitely the way forward and the Hamann lip adds an extra element of sheer meanness to the front end, dropping it even closer to the ground and giving it that square-jawed, hard-man look.

    The original interior, complete with its rather rare armrest-mounted car phone option, is exactly what Henrik wanted, finished as it is in black leather with the standard Sport seats. The only changes Henrik made here involved replacing the wood trim with aluminium, dyeing the steering wheel back to black as the leather had started to wear and adding a set of M Sport pedals.


    While the engine has been left alone, Henrik does say that a money-no-object mod would have been swapping in an S62 from the E39 M5 but a more realistic item on his to-do list (and next on the cards) is going for air-ride, in the form of Air Lift’s latest 3P system, along with a set of new wheels, which Henrik says are top secret.

    Considering how jaw-droppingly good this Touring looks with the small selection of choice mods that it’s been treated to, with a set of even more amazing wheels and air, the only way is up. Or rather, down.

    18” Hamann PG1s look awesome on the E39 and measure a monster 10.25” wide up front with an offset of ET-10; no wonder those arches have been seriously massaged!

    DATA FILE #BMW-E39 / #BMW-530i-Touring / #BMW-530i-Touring-E39 / #BMW-530i-E39 / #BMW-530i / #BMW /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 / , five-speed automatic gearbox
    CHASSIS 10.25x18” ET-10 (front) and 11.25x18” ET+3 (rear) #Hamann-PG1 wheels with 235/35 (front) and 255/35 (rear) tyres, #BC-Racing coilovers (front), modified SLS (rear), rolled and pulled arches 10mm (front) and 17mm (rear)
    EXTERIOR Hamann front lip, black kidney grille, black door trims with M badges, #M-Tech roof spoiler
    INTERIOR Aluminium interior trim strips, M Tech pedals
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    ACCEPTABLE IN THE EIGHTIES

    This super-clean, white, S50-swapped, two-door E30 is a perfect slice of modified ’80s motoring.


    William Green’s E30 harks back to a time when such cars had to be tuned a certain way, and rock a certain look. But he’s given it a modern twist, and a whole lot more horsepower… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: C3Photography.

    The 1980s have a lot to answer for. Shoulder pads, Filofaxes, music with synths, Fox-body Mustangs, Grease 2 – there was a lot going on, and much of it was made of brightly coloured plastic. However, the decade wasn’t without its charms; it brought us Cheers, Appetite for Destruction, perestroika, and the charmingly infuriating Rubik’s Cube. And while the TV shows of the era seemed to represent a society eager to eulogise about the easy-going nostalgia of the 1960s – Happy Days, The Wonder Years and so on – the man on the street was firmly on the cutting edge of up-to-the-minute 1980s fantasticality, the sleeves rolled up on his pastel-hued suit, a pair of Wayfarers atop his slicked-back hair, and the keys to an icewhite E30 in his hand.

    Oh yes – in the 1980s, the secondgeneration 3 Series was very much where it was at. From South London to South Central LA, there was one aesthetic that anyone who was anyone aspired to: a white E30, preferably a 325i, low-slung over big wheels, with an M-Tech II spoiler proudly adorning the bootlid. That was the real deal. Sure, Magnum P.I. had his Ferrari 308, Miami Vice was all about the Testarossas, and Michael Knight had his sentient Trans Am, but this was the real world. Real people dreamed of Beemers.

    The lusted-after look of the era is pretty much as you see here, in the form of William Green’s retro-styled throwback. The exterior is so ’80s it hurts, white-on-white-on-white, with merely a whisper of clearance between those crisp glacier-like arches and the broad, chunky five-spokes beneath. All of the requisite M-Tech II accoutrements are in place. If you can ignore the crowds of excitable teenagers Instagramming the thing with their iPhones and tune out the chemtrails from all the wi-fi signals, you could almost be glimpsing into an authentic late-1980s scenescape.

    Ah, but there’s a twist. All’s not as periodcorrect as you might think here – when you peel back the skin and scratch around among the pulpy flesh below, you’ll discover that William’s got one or two restomod tricks up his sleeve…

    “I’ve always been a car modifier,” he says, enigmatically. “It all started with my first car, a 1986 VW Golf GTI with a supercharged G60 Corrado engine swap; BMWs came second to VWs at the time, as I then went on to own a ’92 GTI and a ’95 GTI.”

    ‘Yes,’ I can hear you shouting into the magazine, ‘but when do we get to the E30?!’ Alright, chill out – we’re coming to it. But before we reap the rewards of patience, we need to sow the seeds of an entirely different 3 Series.

    “I came across my first E30 when I was in college,” William reminisces, an orchestral James Horner soundtrack swelling in the background. “It was a gunmetal grey 1988 325ix – two-door, five-speed – that was completely refurbished, it looked like a brand-new car. Being a broke college student, I begged my mother to get me that car; she did, and it was the best gift I ever received! I brought it back to college in the Catskill Mountains of NY and the ix really lived up to its name – the all-wheel drive system was flawless.” A handful of wellchosen modifications followed – a custom exhaust, chip tune, intake and coilovers – but nothing too extreme. This wasn’t like that first, manic, engine-swapped project, this was a super-tidy base so he was taking baby steps. The quality of the car spoke for itself really, as three years later a chap drove two thousand miles to make William an offer he couldn’t refuse. And with that chapter behind him, it’s safe to say that he’s firmly made the ideological leap from Wolfsburg to Bavaria. A 2006 530i followed, and then a 2002 M3, but it wasn’t too long before our protagonist began once again hankering for the old-skool. His retro yearning was twofold; firstly after the nostalgia of the 1980s that so many of us of a particular age are unable to escape from, but secondly due to the absolute perfection of his first E30. It was time for history to repeat itself.

    Okay, people may say ‘never go back,’ but that’s a load of old toffee. ‘Once bitten, forever smitten’ – that’s more of an appropriate mantra here (ignoring the fact that it comes from an old Vauxhall advert, obviously), and William was more than ready to dive back into the rose-scented waters of E30 ownership.

    “I found this ’80s baby in a high-end luxury car dealer just south of Los Angeles,” he explains, effortlessly reeling off a phrase that you could imagine on a T-shirt in H&M. “The car was being sold on consignment, and belonged to the son of the owner’s best friend. It was an unfinished project, and the exterior was probably an 8/10 – and that’s what sealed the deal on buying the car! I knew that everything still left to do was stuff I could take care of myself.”


    The car was already fitted with an S50 motor – y’know, like you’d find in an E36 M3 – but it was, shall we say, well used, having chalked up over 140,000 miles. William’s initial plan was to swap it out for an S54, although having weighed up the costs and taken an objective view, he decided to persevere with the S50 and give it a refresh and rebuild. After all, they’re robust old lumps. Hell, 140k is barely run in, right?

    “It needed a rebuild pretty much straight away,” he reasons. “The compression was off on two cylinders, so I went ahead and had the head rebuilt and that took care of the engine problems. I also went with the M50 manifold and the S52 exhaust manifold, custom pulleys, injectors, high-flow MAF, and 3.25 LSD. There were a lot of modifications made along the way but these were the initial mods to get the car the way I wanted it.”

    The fact that the previous owner had made inroads into the project helped out a lot, as it was already wearing a fresh, periodperfect, ice-white 1980s paint job when William took delivery. He was able to augment this with the oh-so-cool M-Tech II goodies to create that retro style, and it has created what William describes as ‘a neck-breaker’.

    “This car has always been a conversation starter at pretty much every car meet or gas station I go to. People love the body kit and the Magnum 17s. Most people go with BBS rims so I decided to stick with a wheel that’s different and displays all the inner workings. I recently started doing autocross too, and this build is perfect for the courses.”

    You can imagine how that newergeneration M3 motor helps out when it comes to sporting endeavours, but this car is far from a laser-focused track build; indeed, the interior is something quite special. Up front are a pair of E36 M3 Vaders in black leather, with an E30 M3 bench out back trimmed to match. The E30 M3 gauge cluster was painstakingly rebuilt by an Instagram user by the handle @e30_dad, while the vacuum-of-space effect of all the blackness (the seats, the carpet, the headlining, it’s everywhere) is neatly complemented by a cunning custom audio install that, among much else, features a pair of 8” subs hidden inside the rear panels.

    William, like so many feature car owners we talk to, has an obsessive and completist eye for the details, manifested here in the fresh lights, the commitment to the Stormtrooper black/white colour-coding, the OEM+ interior embellishments of disparate provenance, and the cherry picked chassis parts that comprise E36 M3 suspension and brakes, some M Coupé bits and bobs, and a super-tight Z3 steering rack.

    In fact, it’s fair to say that this is more than just a car to him. “This car has also inspired me to start my own small business, www.e30head.com,” says William. “I designed an E30 centre console cupholder that was once an old BMW idea that I brought back to life. The enthusiasts love it! And yes, the S54 swap is still a plan that will get executed – I put that build on hold last time because we were having our first child and those funds needed to go to more important purchases, but the timing will be right one day.” And in the meantime, he gets to enjoy a nice thick slice of aspirational nostalgia, rolling the kind of ride that everybody looked up to back in the good ol’ days. Acceptable in the Eighties? Ah, it was more than acceptable. It was rad, def, way cool, totally tubular. And it still is.

    The exterior was probably an 8/10 and that’s what sealed the deal on buying the car!

    DATA FILE S50-swapped #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-S50 / #BMW

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30US / #S50B30 / #S50 / #BMW-S50 / , custom 3” #Magnaflow exhaust system with high-flow cat and resonator, TMS underdrive pulleys, custom underdrive crank pulley, TMS Jim Conforti remap, new water pump, thermostat, alternator, intake, oil pump, gaskets, TPS, radiator and hoses, E30 M3 wiring harness cover, OBDII E36 exhaust manifolds, E30 Motor Werks skid plate, E36 M3 five-speed gearbox, E30 M3 propshaft, E36 M3 guibo, 3.25 LSD with M Coupé cover, M Coupe halfshafts


    CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front and rear) #MVR-Magnum wheels with 215/40 (front and rear) Falken 512 tyres, TC Kline S/A coilovers, #Vorshlag front camber plates, #K-Mac rear adjustable camber/toe bushings, E36 M3 front suspension and brakes, E36 M3 five-lug rear conversion including brakes, #Zimmerman drilled discs all-round, ’96 Z3 2.7 lock-to-lock steering rack, E32 750il brake master cylinder, custom brake booster

    EXTERIOR Full respray, #M-Tech II bumpers, side skirts, lip and spoiler, replica #M-Tech II front valance, 6000K Xenon headlights and foglights, new tail-lights, smoked front indicators, black kidney grilles, colour-coded door handles, headlight wipers

    INTERIOR E30 M3 gauge cluster, E36 M3 gear knob, E32 leather handbrake handle and gaiter, E36 M3 Vader seats, E30 M3 rear seats, black door panels, M-Tech II steering wheel, black carpet, black headlining, #Alpine CD head unit, 2x custom hidden #MTX-Thunder6000 8” subs in rear panels, Rockford Fosgate 250 two-channel amp and 600 four-channel amp, Kicker speakers

    THANKS I’d like to give special thanks to my wife, Ashleigh, who inspired me to start E30Head. To Raphael with Ore Photography Group – without his excellent shots of my car, I don’t think we’d be doing this interview. Diego, the E30 Cluster Master @e30_dad, my biggest supporter from the start. Scott with Renown USA for being one of the first to support my E30 centre console cupholder design

    S50-swap is so neat it looks like it could have been a factory job and it gives this E30 some serious go.

    This car has always been a conversation starter at pretty much every car meet or gas station I go to.
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    FRESH AIR

    Super-clean with devilishly delicious details, this gorgeous bagged E30 makes it look so easy. This super-clean bagged E30 keeps things deliciously clean, though the devil is in the detail. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.

    We probably say this about every E30 we feature but it really is a car that requires next to no exterior addenda to make it look awesome. The older BMWs are definitely blessed with this natural elegance and irresistible appeal that means even a wellkept standard E24 or E34 will look fantastic. And, when enhanced with even just a subtle drop and the right wheels, the ‘cool’ and ‘want’ factors go through the roof! Drop it on a killer set of special wheels and, well, you’ve pretty much achieved automotive perfection right there.


    Just look at this E30. It looks absolutely awesome, a visual treat that’s hard to beat but break it down and there’s been precious little done to the exterior, minimising the risk of ruining the whole thing. It kisses the Tarmac when parked up thanks to that front splitter and the copper centres on those polished Gottis (which are tucked to perfection) add a fantastic flash of colour, but that’s it. It’s just so super-clean, so simple and so damn good you’d never get tired of ogling this piece of petrolhead porn.


    Abraham Cruz is the American modifier behind this delicious build and, amazingly, this is his first ever BMW and only his second modified car, having come from a trio of Civics. Considering he’s conjured up this magnificent E30, we can forgive him for that. “I’ve been interested in BMWs since I sold my RHD Civic in 2011, which was a full show build. What makes BMW’s special to me is that they are incredible machines, mechanically and aesthetically. They are really fun to drive as well,” he says. “I have always loved the E30 model. Everything about it is beautiful. I also wanted a car that was an ’89, like the year I was born. I found ‘Eve’ on Craigslist. The condition she was in was pretty horrible, with faded paint, a bunch of dings and dents, a cracked dash, a beat up interior etc. I saw the potential in her and that’s why I decided to purchase her. She was actually supposed to be a daily driver but that quickly changed once I sent her in for paint.”


    With a fresh coat of black paint, the E30 was looking much better than when Abraham had purchased it and, presented with what was now an exceedingly clean car, the temptation to turn it into something even more special was too strong to resist. “I decided right from the beginning that I wanted to go with a simple but classy look,” he says, and that’s a philosophy he’s remained true to throughout the three years and numerous changes the car has been through during that time. The exterior perfectly captures this ethos, with minimal effort for maximum impact. Abraham turned his attention to the E30’s styling on our side of the Pond and opted for a Euro bumper trim, Euro rear plate filler and Euro grilles.


    These additions are complemented by a set of Hella Smiley headlights and a set of #MHW smoked taillights. This smokey theme continues with some ZKW smoked repeaters and smoked foglights. The finishing touches, a flourish of OE additions, include an M Tech 1 rear spoiler, an iS front lip enhanced with a Ryan G splitter for optimum Tarmac interface, a BMW front plate filler and a set of Motorsport door handles.


    The decidedly dark exterior theme looks fabulous, though Abraham clearly figured that a flash of colour would work wonders, retaining the amber indicators in the front bumpers and then adding those wheels. These were actually purchased in tandem with a set of BBS RSs but we’ve got to say the Gottis it’s currently wearing (8x16” ET11 G1001s allround) are a breath of fresh air, especially in that lush shade of copper. The custom colour is gorgeous but only covers the faces, including the faintest sliver between the edge of the lips and the centres; the sides of the spokes have been finished in gunmetal, along with the bolts, and then the lips have been polished to perfection. It’s a heady combination and the contrast against the allblack body really makes the wheels pop.



    On the suspension front, Abraham was already an advocate of the low lifestyle but his dedication to the cause was causing frustration as the poor E30 was scraping everywhere. So, in order to keep things lovely and low whilst also making the car that little more practical he decided to head down the air-ride route – now a road very well-travelled by many BMW owners. He grabbed himself an Air Lift kit with BC damping adjustable dampers, Viair compressor and a four-gallon tank, all watched over by Air Lift V2 digital management. Of course, when it comes airride, the suspension is only half the story; just as important is how it looks when it goes in your boot. Well, pop open Abraham’s boot and you’ll find a very clean, unique build, with the single air tank proudly on display, sitting on a wood grain floor.


    Under the bonnet you will notice two things: first, it’s very clean. Second, there be wood in here. Well, not actual wood, it’s a hydro-dipped wood grain valve cover that carries on the woody theme from the boot and interior. It’s certainly not something you see everyday, that’s for sure. The reason the bay looks so clean is because Abraham has carried out a mild wire tuck, just to make it all a little more presentable beneath the bonnet and he’s also added a few neat little touches like the E46 M3 oil filler cap, E30 M3 firewall harness covers, and the crackle black intake manifold. Dig a little deeper and you’ll also discover a chipped ECU and an Ireland Engineering cat-back exhaust.

    Abraham hasn’t done much to the interior but then again this is an interior that doesn’t really need much in the way of work to get the most from it, much like the rest of the car. While some of you out there might not be fans of light leather, we’re rather partial to it and the cream hide in here is the perfect contrast to the blacker-than-black exterior, with the front seats coming from an E30 Saloon. We mentioned more wood in the interior and it takes the shape of that gorgeous Nardi steering wheel and Nardi gear knob, which has also been treated to a leather gaiter. Another leather gaiter protects the E36 leather handbrake handle, while a set of Schnitzer pedals, an analogue Euro clock and a custom E30dad cluster finishes the whole lot off. We can’t think of many places that would be nicer in which to spend some quality time than this exceedingly clean, classic interior.


    As gorgeous as Abraham’s car now is, having gone through numerous incarnations during its time with him already, it is in no way surprising to learn that he has more planned for the future. “I’m going to tackle the interior next,” he says. “I’m fitting a new custom black headliner and I have some Recaro LS seats that I’m going to get reupholstered. There’ll possibly be an interior colour change from tan to peanut butter. I’ll be swapping in an LS2 engine from a Corvette in the near future as well!” That sounds amazing; it sounds like this E30 will continue to be a breath of fresh air.


    Ari Lift air-ride kit was chosen to allow this E30 to sit low but still remain practical to own and drive.

    Lots of wood about the place on this E30, from the gorgeous Nardi steering wheel to eye-catching air-ride install and even the engine…

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Air-Ride #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW /

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M20B25 / #M20 / #BMW-M20 , #K&N drop-in air filter, chipped ECU, #Ireland-Engineering cat-back exhaust, Hydro-dipped wood grain valve cover, OEM E46 M3 oil cap, E30 M3 firewall harness covers, crackle black intake manifold, mild wire tuck, five-speed manual gearbox.


    CHASSIS 8x16” ET11 (front and rear) #Gotti-G1001 wheels with custom copper faces and gunmetal windows and bolts, Yokohma S drive 195/40 (front and rear) tyres, #Adaptec 4x100 to 5x120 adapters with extended studs, #Air-Lift Performance air-ride, BC damping adjustable dampers, #Air-Lift-V2 digital management, #Viair compressor and four-gallon tank, drilled and slotted Brembo discs.


    EXTERIOR Euro bumper trim, Euro rear plate filler, Euro grilles, Hella smiley headlights, #MHW smoked taillights, #ZKW smoked turn signals, smoked foglights, #BMW front plate filler, OEM #M-Tech 1 rear spoiler, OEM iS lip/Ryan G splitter, #BMW-Motorsport door handles.


    INTERIOR Saloon front seats, #ACS Gen 1 pedals, Nardi Droopy Spoke wood grain steering wheel, Boss hub, Nardi Evo wood grain gear knob, leather gear and handbrake gaiters, E36 leather handbrake handle, Euro analogue clock, custom E30dad cluster, wood grain custom boot setup.
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    AMERICAN HUSTLE / #BMW / #2015 /
    What may look like a nicely-modded but unassuming E30 hides a potent 5.7-litre #V8 secret…

    This E30 may be low and exceedingly sexy, but it’s what’s lurking under the bonnet that will blow your socks off… Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: Patrick Lauder

    You’re probably looking at this E30 and thinking that it looks good because, let’s be honest, it does. The colour is nice, it suits the E30 shape and, yes, it’s on air, but what isn’t these days right? Air is cool, you might be thinking, and it’s clean and subtly done – just a really nicely modded E30 that anyone would be happy to own. And then you spot that bonnet-up engine shot: ‘Cor… Corvette? Whaa…?’

    Now maybe you’re confused and have a disapproving look on your face. Suddenly you’re probably feeling some conflicting emotions because maybe you’re just not down with Yank motors in German cars. We can understand that – engine swaps are cool, everyone loves an engine swap when it comes from within the BMW family, but venture outside that circle of safety and, well, things get a bit fuzzy around the edges. But here at #Drive-My we’re definitely down with this sort of engine swappery. Owner Rich Hardesty-DeMenge is a brave man for stuffing that vast ’Vette V8 into his E30 (affectionately called Evette) not only because it’s a massive undertaking both in terms of sheer effort and finances, but also because brave is the man who sullies the classic purity of the E30. We admire his commitment to worshipping at the V8 altar.

    Usefully, the 26 year-old is in “the engineering field”, so he’s a bit handy with his hands, and that means he was wellsuited to tackling this crazy swap with a little help from his brother, Brendon. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, because when a man decides he wants to put an American V8 in his E30, you want to get to know that man a bit better…

    “I’ve liked BMWs since I was a child playing with model cars, before I was even dreaming of what kind of car I would eventually drive,” says Rich. “I have always found BMWs to be one of the best looking cars on the road, and I really enjoy the feeling I get when driving mine. When I was 19 I wanted a BMW and ended up buying a 2005 325i, though I figured out later I should have done more research into exactly what kind of BMW I wanted as it turned out to be a SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle) model so I was stuck doing only suspension and visual modifications.”


    He did attempt to get more power out of it, but it didn’t exactly go to plan: “I got screwed out of a $7000 deal on a supercharger kit that a company sold me, guaranteeing it could tune the M56 SULEV to run the kit. Of course when all was said and paid for I installed the kit, but the company couldn’t tune the computer after all, at least not without having the car. As I was in California and the company was in Florida, I took the kit off, tried to return it. It wouldn’t accept it, so I ended up selling the kit for around a $3000 loss and started hunting for an E30 instead.

    “My plan was to build a turbo M20 from the start. Power was all I cared about at the time. I actually bought a spare M20 and started building it before I had even found the car,” and seeing as Rich had modified every car he’d previously owned, that doesn’t come as much of a surprise. “I bought the E30 in Milpitas, CA, maybe 20 minutes away from the dealership that originally sold it. It had a cracked head, the brakes were shot, it was an automatic, had no interior, and the person I bought it from had begun parting it out. It was in pretty sad shape, but the body was rust-free and straight, and that was all I cared about. It ended up with a built M20 stroker with a Holset HX35 turbo running 18psi that I put together myself before deciding on the engine swap…”

    As a side note, while it may say Corvette on the rocker covers, the 5.7-litre (5665cc and about 346Ci if you want to keep things American) all-alloy LS1 V8 that fills the E30’s engine bay to brimming point was actually extracted from a 2002 Camaro Z28. This engine was used in the C5 Corvette, albeit in a slightly higher state of tune (350hp plays 305-325 depending on flavour of Camaro), though according to everyone and their Chevy-driving dog those figures are conservative to protect the Corvette’s status and in actual fact all the engines made about the same power at around the 350hp mark. Considering most people carrying out V8 swaps on E30s opt for the 4.0-litre M60, with its 286hp and 295lb ft of torque and find that more than enough thank you very much, an additional 40hp on paper and 50lb ft make for a silly fast car that gets to enjoy the massive spread of torque that comes with a huge capacity engine. Naturally, that wasn’t enough for Rich, so he added a few go-faster bits under the bonnet including a Texas Speed 228r cam, LS6 intake, having the head ported and polished and upgrading the valvetrain. These engines respond well to bolt-ons so we’d be guessing it’s got to be knocking on the door of 400hp now, which is just a bit silly really.


    “The biggest issues my brother and I ran into was fabrication,” explains Rich. “as we did the entire swap on a set of jack stands over three years ago. There were no ‘swap kits’ available back then that allow you to simply drop the drivetrain in like there are today. We had to make our own motor, trans, hydroboost and second differential mount, along with fabricating the entire exhaust by hand, which is a dual 2.5” system that goes into a single 4” oval exhaust that runs back to a Magnaflow muffler.”


    Considering that an LS-swap is still not exactly easy now, the fact that Rich and his brother did all this by themselves when things were even harder is very impressive. Of course all that go would be no good if Rich’s E30 couldn’t put it down effectively so the chassis has been thoroughly overhauled. Purists among you may question why he opted for air-ride over coilovers with such a serious engine lurking under the bonnet because, you know, bags don’t handle (#sarcasm). “I ran Ground Control coilovers for a while,” he says “but I knew I eventually wanted to put air-ride on the car. Having a bagged ride had been a dream since elementary school, and the days of reading Mini Truckin’ and Truckin’ magazine. So I did just that, I bought a DIY kit that required a fair bit of customisation, and my brother helped me fabricate everything. Overall, I have to say I really like the way it handles and rides with bags, even over coilovers,” so deal with that, bag haters.


    Beyond that there’s the practicality that comes part and parcel of an air-ride setup plus the fact that, aired out with BBS RSs tucked up inside its arches, this E30 looks just plain badass.


    “Wheels were a really tough choice,” muses Rich, “but I have always liked the mesh style with a polished lip, and the BBS RSs fit the bill quite nicely, I originally had a 16” set on Evette, which were stolen, so I ordered the current set that you see on the car and, as luck would have it, I found and managed to get back the stolen set of 16s within a couple days of receiving the new 17” set, leaving me with an extra set of RSs for my other E30.”

    The final touch is a set of uprated brakes, because you can’t be driving around in an E30 with almost 400hp on the standard setup. Tucked away behind those BBSs you’ll find a set of Wilwoods front and back running 310mm discs all-round with six-pot front calipers and four-pots at the rear, delivering just as much stop as the engine does go.

    Styling-wise things have been left pretty much standard and in our opinion this was most definitely the right thing to do because the E30 is such a perfect piece of design it would seem wrong to mess with it. “I find E30s to be a genuinely good looking car from factory minus a good drop and nice set of wheels, so I decided to keep it stock, although I did install a rear valence from a late model to help balance the car out,” Rich tells us.

    The interior, too, has been left untouched, but why start messing around in there when you’ve got Sport seats and an M Tech I wheel? “I ended up finding a well-used but good condition full black interior after I bought the car,” he says, “which I cleaned up and installed. I do have a full red interior I would like to install, but it needs to be reupholstered first.” The only item that is alien is that baseball-sized gear knob attached to the six-speed Tremec T56 gearbox beneath.


    While Evette might look finished to you and I, Rich has more plans in the pipeline, and they’re not just a new bumper or set of wheels… “I’m going to end up throwing a large single turbo on the passenger side of the engine bay at around 8psi,” he says casually and nonchalantly, like a man describing what he plans to order for lunch. “Plus the new interior eventually and another paint job – this car will never really be done,” which is of course how pretty much most of us feel about our project cars. For now, though, Rich and his brother have built something a little bit special, a seriously good-looking E30 with the sort of intoxicating power and thunderous soundtrack that will make you want to put a V8 in everything, and we certainly wouldn’t blame you for that…


    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E30-LS1 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #LS1

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 2002 5.7-litre #LS1-V8 / #GM-LS1 / #GM / #LS1 , #TSP-228r cam, ported and polished heads, LS6 intake, #Tremec-T56 / #Tremec six-speed manual gearbox.

    CHASSIS 9x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #BBS-RS wheels with 205/35 (front) and 215/35 (rear) tyres, custom #DIY #Air-Lift Performance air suspension, #Wilwood #BBK with 310mm discs (front and rear) and six-pot calipers (front) and four-pot calipers (rear).

    EXTERIOR Late model rear valence welded on, iS side skirts.

    INTERIOR Black leather Sport seats, #M-Tech I steering wheel.

    “Overall, I have to say I like the way it handles and rides with bags, even over coilovers”

    “I’ve always found BMWs to be one of the best looking cars on the road, and I enjoy the feeling I get when driving mine”
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