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    Into hibernation for the winter

    CAR: 1989 BMW 320i Convertible
    OWNER: Glen Waddington

    / #1989-BMW-320i-Convertible / #1989 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B20 / #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-E30-M20 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet-M20 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet-E30

    I feel somewhat bereft this evening. My final autumn drive was to take the BMW to its winter storage location. My garage will soon be a building site, as part of it is converted into a home office. And RH Classics ( uk), based near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, kindly offered the BMW a winter home at its expanding storage facility.

    I got very lucky with the weather. Not warm, but bright and crisp, so I gave the E30 a wash and buff-up, lowered the roof and headed out on the 40-mile drive. It’s at times like this that I’m glad the first owner shelled out for heated seats – and that I shelled out for a new blower motor a couple of years ago, when the original packed in. With the windows up you get the full daylight yet not too much buffeting, and the cabin stays cosy. There’s a fabulous road heading out from Market Harborough for the second half of the journey: this part of Leicestershire is relatively empty, very pretty and home to some seriously snaky tarmac. If you fancy seeking it out, it’s the B6047, and it’s especially enjoyable north of the A47, with bend after bend accompanied by matching changes in altitude as it rolls across and through the landscape.

    RH Classics offers several storage options, but all are in a secure, discreet and extremely dry location: the buildings once stored potatoes! Every car is valeted and inspected, and a condition report is agreed with the owner. Fluid levels are checked, the battery disconnected, and the car is fitted with a breathable cover. Optionally the car can be connected to a trickle charger and run up to temperature fortnightly, with a condition check each time, and you can pay extra for bubble-storage. Although I know my car is safe, it was still an emotional process, leaving in the knowledge that this will be the last time I drive it for some time.

    Thankfully, I have a busy season to look back on, with lots of family trips out (that’s what we bought the E30 for, nearly nine years ago now) plus plenty of excuses for a solo blast, not to mention the odd work thing. Most memorable of the latter was in September, the Octane Tour to the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court. We met for early-morning bacon sandwiches at Cliveden, in the Buckinghamshire countryside, then set off with a road book that took us via Marlow and Henley on Thames. The sun was out, but that early start provided the first hint that autumnal weather was imminent. Still, by the time we were queueing along the road in from Staines, the sun was at full strength and jacket and scarf were quickly discarded. Roofoff, naturally, a state of affairs that continued for the 100-mile trip home late that afternoon. Readers might remember that an altercation with the foglamp bracket on a 4x4’s bull-bar had left my tail-light lens cracked. This, at last, has been replaced. The new lens and fixings arrived from BMW Group Classic ( and I was pleased to find that it was simply a case of disconnecting the bulb carrier and removing a few nuts with an 8mm spanner.

    Easing the lens away revealed perfectly preserved paint around the aperture – I’m so thankful that the lens took the impact, and not the metalwork. A quick clean, then the new one went straight in and was soon tightened into place. This is a genuine replacement from Munich and, of course, a perfect fit. Job done.

    Now, as I look up from my desk at the darkness outside, spring seems a long time away. I’ll pay RH Classics a visit at some point but, for now, the BMW is snuggled under a cover, resting. At least I’ve still got the Porsche 944 to hand.

    Left and below: BMW arrives at its hibernation lair, RH Classics; study in dark metallic blue with Mark Dixon’s Range Rover at Cliveden House; new tail-light lens about to be installed; some of the 320i’s winter companions.
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    Seems spring has arrived early

    CAR: 1989 BMW 320i Convertible
    OWNER: Glen Waddington
    PHOTOS: Robert Hefferon

    / #1989-BMW-320i-Convertible / #1989 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B20 / #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-E30-M20 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet-M20 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet-E30

    This Time last year we had snow. My 944 had just recently blown its rep by blowing out its own electrics, and the Beemer was tucked up safely in my garage. Where it spends too much time. But I don’t like taking it out on wintry roads, because it’s nearly 30 years old, factory-original and in damn fine fettle.

    As I write this on the last day in February, I’m looking out onto a sunlit garden, daffodils swaying gently in the breeze, birdsong drifting through an open window. Two record-breakingly warm days preceded this one. But tomorrow it’s back to normal. Whatever counts for normal in 2019.

    Anyway, I’ll stop wittering, because my point is that this is the first winter during my eight-year tenure of the BMW – today is its anniversary – during which it’s been driven with anything like regularity. I was even out giving it an early spring clean last weekend, ahead of driving it to Bicester Heritage for an editorial meeting with the #Drive-My team. And I drove home with the roof down. That has rarely happened this side of April. I’m generally an advocate of use rather than storage, although I admit that when the BMW crept past 50,000 miles last year, I fleetingly wondered if I should mothball it. Winter hibernation can cause the odd issue: I’ve lost count of the new batteries I’ve fitted (even if the last one was terminally discharged when I left the bootlid slightly ajar – can’t blame the car or the weather for that one), plus I’ve been through a master cylinder, a clutch slave cylinder, a heater blower motor and a seized brake caliper. All these failures occurred within the first post-hibernation drive.

    There have been no such problems this year, and I’ll count my sunburnt forehead as a freak of the highly unseasonable weather. We’ve had a lot of frosty nights, mind. Frosty enough to make the 944 a tardy starter one morning. Rather than drain the battery, I reached for the Energizer 400A jump-starter kit I got late last summer. It wasn’t cheap at around £100, but it’s about the size of a large smartphone and can be used to charge one of those so you can cycle its battery between boosts. Connection is easy – it’s great not having to lug something heavy around – and the 944 sprang instantly to life. Indispensible for any car that is parked up for just a touch too long.
    So I’m glad I’ve got it, ready for when we have snow in June…

    Above and below: BMW bowls along at Bicester; it was joined by editor Elliott’s Triumph not-2000 – and a McLaren 12C Spider.
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    Time for the autumn chill-out

    1989 BMW 320i Convertible Glen Waddington

    / #1989-BMW-320i-Convertible / #1989 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B20 / #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-E30-M20 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet-M20 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet-E30

    As I write this the sun is shining outside. It’s bloody cold, though. Autumn is setting in quickly and suddenly and it’s only just over a month since I spent a balmy late-summer evening with a whole bunch of BMW convertibles near Henley-on-Thames, as regular readers might remember. I had a fantastic time piloting such beauties as a BMW-328-Roadster , a #BMW-507 , a #BMW-Z1 and a #BMW-Z8 (see right), before sunset called a halt to proceedings.

    Thing is, I’d already had a fabulous drive down there in my own #BMW-Convertible . And no matter what the charms of those other cars were - only one of which I could even imagine owning, if you bear their market values in mind - mine more than held its own. In fact, it was rather enjoyable to have some of the other assembled journalists take a look over it; one or two of them even assumed it had been brought down as part of BMW’s own fleet!

    The journey was a hundred miles or so, much on trunk roads plus a spell on the M40. But the scenery turns bucolic in a major way on the stretch south from Stokenchurch, narrow lanes winding and plunging through dense woodland with the sun barely filtering through at times, thee leafy smell and the birdsong make a convertible a real treat to be in - quite a different effect from the more usual roof-down/howling exhaust scenario.

    A few hours later I had to think about my route home, those thread-like lanes could easily hide the occasional inebriated local, lurking in a 4x4 without thought to a delicate 1980s soft-top, so I headed out of Henley towards Nettlebed and Watlington and was treated to some fabulously sinuous B-roads, perfect for the innate balance and modest yet useful power of my 320i. Even the roundabouts on the A43 past Brackley did their bit to make this a properly life-affirming high-speed late-night trek. One I’ll remember during the winter evenings ahead.
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    Renewing the vows

    OWNER: Glen Waddington

    CAR: #1989-BMW-320i-Convertible / #1989 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B20 / #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-E30-M20 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet-M20 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet-E30

    Sometimes I find it difficult to believe that the Beemer is 28 years old. The body’s in such fine (and still original) fettle, it’s such a vivacious drive, and it’s still got less than 50k on the clock. I love it to bits, but I use it sparingly.

    A little too sparingly over the last year, though. Life got in the way, in exactly the manner described by John Simister in his How to reconnect with your classic piece in #Drive-My . The 320i had languished over winter yet flew through its MoT in April, though when I wanted to press it into service for a rare romantic weekend away with Mrs W, a shudder through the steering the night before we headed off put paid to that. And I’d already been putting up with a non-functioning heater blower for 14 months or so. So I booked it in for a once-over with my mate Stuart Templeton.

    The night before it headed off to Templeton’s Garage (www. I washed and buffed the bodywork: step 1 of the reconnection. And it came back a few days later, following a short service and with the maladies rectified (step 2).

    The shaky wheel? A seized brake caliper was the culprit, as Stuart had diagnosed on the phone. With that replaced (on exchange), plus a new blower motor, the Beemer was back to singing along. Just in time for the early-June heatwave.

    And so step 3 of the reconnection was suddenly there for the taking: get back out and enjoy the car, reminding myself what it was I always loved about it in the first place.

    This is our seventh summer together. I always said it’d be a keeper. And that remains true, especially now it’s running that little bit sweeter – amazing what fresh oil can do, even if it’s all in the mind. And yes, I’d swear it’s that little bit faster too.

    As a family, the four of us headed down to the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the Beemer, roof-down for the stretch across the Downs from Winchester. Reconnection complete.
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    SIDEWAYS SHOW CAR Turbo #BMW-E30-Drift-Car

    Sometimes we find a #BMW that’s had so many changes it’s hard to spot them all. Ian Walpole’s E30 drifter is one such car and he did it all in his garage at home… Words: Mike Renaut. Photos: Matt Richardson.

    Don’t think of this one as a modified E30. It’s better described as a hand-built race car with a lot of BMW parts. At first glance it looks like a stripped M3 until you realise those arches aren’t quite the same and the back end looks different too… The guys with all the answers are owner Ian Walpole and his mate John Amor who helped him greatly with the build. Between them they’ve built and raced everything from a rally Vauxhall Viva HB to a trials Land Rover. They like a bit of everything, so in 2013 decided it was time for a drift car. “I’ve been into BMWs for a while,” says Ian, “I’ve got an E46 Touring I use for MCC Reliability trials with my dad as navigator – that’s all about stopping in boxes on hills and car control. This E30 was something different again.

    “It took us three years to build,” continues Ian, “I don’t know how my wife Sasha put up with it. Just before we went travelling - around 2011 - I’d bought a #1987 #BMW-325i-Sport-M-Tech-1 purely to drive about. It sat on the driveway unused and when we returned I saw rain had got inside and it was all mouldy. After an MOT and some TLC I tried selling but it wasn’t even worth £1000 so I bought an HX40 turbo and a manifold kit for it. The kit was awful, the ports were offset in the wrong place and John and I like to do things properly, so we started to modify parts to fit and the whole build spiralled out of control.”

    Caged Laser Engineering laser-cut a plate to fit the turbo and another to fit the cylinder head. “We then cut up the cheap manifold and fabricated new flanges and pipes creating a split pulse manifold with external 60mm wastegate and a screamer pipe exiting from the offside wing,” says Ian. “Then someone offered me £700 for the Sport body kit meaning we had money to play with. We pulled the motor apart and the crank was worn, so in went a 2.8 crank from an M52 and shorter rods, we balanced it all to within 0.1 of a gram and honed the block.” As you can tell, Ian has a well-equipped workshop…

    Next the head was reworked by Simon at Orchard Performance for a broad torque band, with oversized valves and porting allowing decent horsepower from a non-aggressive Schrick camshaft. The combustion chambers were modified to improve detonation resistance under boost and optimise combustion, resulting in a fastburning compact chamber that now runs cooler than stock. That alone resulted in an engine with torque enough to get the rear wheels spinning from 2500rpm to the redline. One of the few other areas the guys didn’t do themselves was the baffled sump, “We made one,” says John, “but kept thinking it didn’t quite look right. We reasoned that big companies know what they’re doing when it comes to designing parts, and the idea of oil starvation because we’d made a design mistake was scary, so we bought an off-the-shelf baffle for the sump and welded it in.”

    Currently the car runs 6psi of boost, which means 250whp. “On the first dyno run the boost was cranked up to 12psi which produced a puff of steam from the expansion tank and a misfire,” remembers Ian. “I knew the head gasket was the weakest point but I briefly saw 350whp! We’ve now fitted a Cometic multilayer steel gasket which is thicker than the old one, lowering the compression from 9:1 to 8.5:1 and allowing us to safely run extra boost.” That nitrous bottle in the back actually connects to the chargecooler, a £1000 item bought for just £70 on eBay, “We made a spray nozzle on the lathe so 2bar of pressurised nitrous is fired into the cooler, which freezes the inner radiator veins at -136ºC. This provides constant cool air to the engine,” he says. “I didn’t like the idea of injecting nitrous straight into the engine,” explains Ian, “but used this way it’s a great method of keeping the temperature regulated. When the car’s on the dyno being tuned it’s going to have a different temperature to when it’s outside on a track in hot sunshine.

    This set up keeps it constant to the dyno temperature conditions.” Waste nitrous exits via a pressure relief valve and homebuilt spray bar over the outside of the charge cooler – again helping it keep an optimum temperature. After all that, the boys kept things simpler with the gearbox; it’s the standard 265 Getrag five-speed unit with uprated pressure plate, although the friction plate has been modified with six sintered paddles and uprated springs by Precision Clutches of Yeovil.

    When it came to the body work, there was a clear plan, as Ian explains: “Building this car was all about airflow and weight saving.” The standard bonnet slam panel was getting in the way of that airflow so out came the angle grinder and the front 10” of BMW dropped to the workshop floor to be replaced by a removable lightweight 25mm tube version. “Yeah it’s a bit frightening doing that,” admits John, “but there are two of us so we knew we could fix anything between us.” Keeping the engine cool is a radiator from a 3.0-litre Mitsubishi GTO, but even then the guys couldn’t leave it stock and have handmade an alloy cowling for the 16” fan, “We also cut off the filler neck/cap and ran a bleed hose to an alloy expansion tank.” The fuel cell in the boot was bought from a hill climb car, “It’s an ATL-style bag tank with alloy shroud and the original BMW fuel cap – one of the few original parts that survived the build,” laughs Ian. Fuel travels via a low-pressure pump into a pump feed surge tank to a modified fuel rail and 600cc injectors, then returns to the tank via an adjustable pressure regulator.

    The front spoiler and bumper came from eBay; “It was a cheap part that arrived broken in two. We salvaged it and reinforced it with 0.5” alloy tubing and fibreglass, then cut out the indicator and number plate recesses for better air flow before hanging the bumper on quarter-turn Dzus fasteners,” explains John. The new arches were inspired by a modification Ian made to an Alfa Romeo many years ago and are hand-formed from 16- and 18-gauge steel, while each of the side skirts was made from a single sheet of aluminium, likewise the rear bumper.

    “The straight bends for the side skirts were much easier than the two days of TIG welding that bumper needed,” admits Ian. As for the final colour, “The guy who painted it – Luke Harvey of Tytherington Body and Paint - suggested adding rainbow flake into the lacquer over the black base.” It looks like a normal black until sunlight hits it, then it sparkles. Almost everything else is colour coded in Ian’s favourite Kawasaki Green.

    The boot lid is steel but there’s a carbon fibre one under consideration, “With a drift car you need a certain amount of weight over the back wheels,” says Ian, “we’re still experimenting – it’s more about balance than pure weight reduction.” That’s an M3 boot spoiler but with homemade adaptor plates to fit the non-M3 boot lid. “I fear we might have to fit a huge spoiler for stability in the future though…” says Ian. The weight saving even extends to having the door internals completely gutted and making up new lightweight door latching mechanisms from 15mm billet alloy – drilled, of course, for reduced weight.

    The E30 originally had a sunroof but now even the roof panel is fibreglass - saving 18kg and lowering the centre of gravity. “The roof was £67 on eBay but turned out to be in Glasgow,” laughs John, “we went in a van and did about £200 in fuel; I drove up and fell asleep exhausted when we arrived, so they just dropped the roof in on top of me and Ian drove back. It fitted alright once we cut the steel one off but the glue you use to bond it is £50 a tube.”

    The front screen is the glass one fitted at the factory but the rest of the windows are Lexan, “I bought the door pieces ready cut but made the others myself with a jigsaw to cut the air scoops into the quarter windows,” explains Ian. There are four scoops in total: two force air over the fuel pumps and swirl pot, the other pair are powered by two 12-volt in-line boat fans blowing air through the gearbox and differential coolers – mounted between the rear lights – with the air exiting through the space where the rear number plate used to be.

    The wheels came from Ian’s 2000 750iL; rear hub adaptors were employed to go from four- to five-stud and give an 80mm wider track. The rear suspension comprises HSD Monopro shocks and springs and adjustable trailing arms, all shod with Powerflex Black series bushes. The rear beam lower supports, meanwhile, are now also stronger and longer, which leads us to the front axle. It’s comprised of E36 HSD coilovers with re-drilled strut turrets and top mounts that are adjustable for caster and camber. E36 front hubs run homebuilt hub adaptors and connect to a Z3 steering rack via E46 inner and outer tie rods with four mm rack spacers added for greater lock. The power steering rack is re-engineered by cutting slots internally, allowing free movement of the rack lubricated by a smear of grease and meaning the pipework, pump and reservoir could be removed. That change not only saves weight but also gives better feedback during drifting.
    As for the exhaust system, would it surprise you to learn Ian and John hand built that too from 3” stainless steel tubing? “I cut two 90º bends and joined them to form a T-piece, the exhaust exits just ahead of the rear wheels and as well as being designed for free flow it helps push the tyre smoke back. And there’s plenty of it,” laughs Ian, “I’ve got specialised Achilles purple smoke tyres.”

    Inside two Sparco seats make up the minimalist interior with a Momo wheel and gauges from AEM. The handmade dashboard is covered in Alcantara while all the other important control switches – fans, gearbox and diff pumps – are in a strip console across the top of the windscreen. “It looks great,” says John, “but when you’re strapped into the car we found that was the only place where Ian could still reach the switches.” Low fuel, nitrous engage and low oil pressure warning lights are also fitted. The handbrake lever is carved from a single piece of billet aluminium, as are the door handles. The roll cage has been extensively modified too; it’s lightweight 45mm chromoly seamless tube and started out as a six-point cage but now has double that - along with dash bars, more crossbars and strengthened mounting plates. Even the stock heater is now housed in a much smaller homemade alloy surround, “There’s not much of this car we haven’t touched,” admits John.

    “When I first saw it in paint I didn’t recognise it as my car,” remembers Ian, “it was stunning. We’re both really pleased with how it turned out.” Did working together ever lead to any arguments about parts choices? “I just left all the difficult decisions to Ian,” laughs John, “Yeah and all the difficult jobs too,” jokes Ian. “It was 50% planning and 50% experimenting, some pieces were a bit scary but we bounced ideas off each other.”

    Ian and John both insist this is a drift car, and was never intended to be a show car, but then Ian reveals just how many hours John has spent polishing the engine bay for our photos. “I used an entire tube of Autosol,” admits John, “we weren’t aiming to build a show car but, yes, it did get out of hand.” Thanks also go to Ian’s wife Sasha who apparently “cleans all the bits no one normally sees.”

    Surely then, and this is a sentiment echoed by almost everyone who has seen the BMW, the car is too nice to risk smacking into an Armco by drifting? “Of course it’s going to get hammered,” agrees Ian, “but it’s designed to be hardy. The body is mainly steel, the fibreglass panels can be changed in a few seconds since they’re all on Dzus fasteners and we can rebuild anything we damage on the track - I just hope Luke can match the paint again!”

    THANKS To the staff and visitors at Castle Combe Circuit (, 01249 782417) for their assistance with this feature.

    DATA FILE Turbo Drift #BMW-E30 / #Getrag / #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i / #Holset-HX40 / #Holset / #1987 / #BMW-325i-Turbo-E30 / #BMW-325i-Turbo / #BMW-325i-Drift-Car / #Drift-Car / #BMW-325i-Drift-Car-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #Bosch / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E30

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.8-litre single-turbo straight-six M20, aciddipped #M20B25 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 block, modified baffled sump and oil windage tray for better oil return, M52B28 84mm-stroke crankshaft, #M20B20 conrods, M20B25 low-compression pistons with new rings, modified oil pick up and oil filter relocation kit, #ARP big end and main bearing bolts, #ACL-Racing Race Series crankshaft bearings, Saab 9000 turbo 3bar MAP sensor, original cylinder head gas flowed, ported and polished, 1mm-oversized valves with uprated springs, custom torque-focused inlet porting, high gas velocity exhaust ports, custom combustion chambers, improved oil return galleries, uprated rocker arms, 272 #Schrick cam, #Vernier cam pulley, titanium retainers and collets, #Holset-HX40 turbo from a Cummins diesel, bespoke split pulse exhaust manifold, 60mm external wastegate and screamer pipe exiting offside front wing, Mitsubishi GTO radiator with aluminium expansion tank, Ford V6 coil pack and Canems ECU, crank position, intake air temperature, throttle position and manifold absolute pressure sensors, ATL fuel cell, Facet low-pressure fuel lift pump, fuel surge tank, 255lpm #Bosch-044 fuel pump, modified fuel rail, 600cc injectors, adjustable fuel pressure regulator, low-friction AN-6 Teflon hoses, Aeroquip fittings

    TRANSMISSION E30 325i #Getrag-265 five-speed manual, uprated pressure plate, friction plate modified with six sintered paddles and uprated springs, rebuilt E30 limited slip differential

    CHASSIS 8x18” (front) and 9x18” (rear) #BMW-Style-32 wheels with 215/35 Yokohama Prada Spec 2 (front) and 265/35 Achilles ATR Sport Violet purple smoke tyres (rear), E36 HSD Monopro adjustable coilovers, re-drilled strut turrets and adjustable top mounts, E36 front hubs with homebuilt hub adaptors, Z3 steering rack, E46 inner and outer tie rods with 4mm rack spacers, standard subframe with HSD dampers, uprated Powerflex Black Series bushes, adjustable trailing arms and anti-roll bars, E36 #EBC-Turbo grooved 286mm discs with E36 calipers and EBC Yellowstuff pads (front), EBC Turbo Groove 258mm discs (rear), line lock and hydro handbrake with standard handbrake shoes, mechanism and lever removed

    EXTERIOR 901 Black with rainbow glitter lacquer, other details in Kawasaki Green, handmade steel wide-arch front and rear quarters, handmade side skirts, fibreglass roof panel, hand-fabricated removable lightweight 25mm tube slam panel, hand-formed aluminium inner wings, heavily modified reinforced fibreglass front bumper, flushed door locks and filler cap, Lexan windows with air ducts, Titanium exhaust guards, spare tyre well and battery box removed from boot, handmade aluminium boot floor, original number plate recess, boot hinges and bulkhead removed, new handmade ally bulkhead riveted in, Anodised green motorcycle floodlights, front and rear strobes

    INTERIOR Fully stripped out, all sound deadening removed, floor cut and tunnels for side exiting exhausts fabricated, six-point half roll-cage modified into 12-point cage with 45mm crossbars, handfabricated aluminium dashboard, modified heater box to fit behind cage, hydro handbrake and homemade mounting, Sparco seats and STR 3” harnesses, new door inners with home-fabricated lightweight harness material door pulls and latch mechanisms, carbon fibre door cards
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    No stranger to seriously modified BMWs, photographer Kevin Raekelboom’s latest creation may be his wildest yet. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Kevin Raekelboom.

    If you like your E30s to be jaw-droppingly spectacular, you’re going to enjoy this one . Not only is Belgium resident Kevin Raekelboom a talented photographer with one of the best names in the business, he also has a talent for building utterly spectacular project cars. His last effort was a bagged E21 that we featured back in June ’13 and over the past year and a bit he’s been at it again, building the #BMW E30 you see before you here. Kevve’s approach when it comes to builds is most definitely of the ‘allout’ variety and it’s certainly working for him.

    His BMW E21 had been a mix of classic exterior elegance contrasting with an adventurous carbon and Kevlar interior mix, which created a striking juxtaposition. For his next project, Kevve decided to push the boat out just that little bit further… Step one was choosing a car. Here he decided to keep it 3 Series; it had served him well before, after all, and he had the perfect project car starting point in the family: an unassuming #1983 six-cylinder 320i manual that surely had no idea what was about to happen to it. “I bought it from my brother who didn’t have the time for it,” explains Kevve. “He bought it two years ago to restore it but then he bought a house and did a lot of construction on it and had no more time for the car. It was in pretty good condition but needed some attention.”

    The engine here has been left completely stock, as this is very much a visual exercise, though Kevve has had a straight-through custom exhaust made, which handily meant that there was no need to worry about any sort of audio upgrades: “There’s no need for music with an engine sound like this!” So, with all efforts and energy channelled into the aesthetics, it’s no surprise that the finished article is so utterly spectacular. Having bagged his previous build, Kevve knew that his next project would also be on air-ride but with an E30 that’s no simple task. “There was nothing standard available for the car off-the-shelf at the time,” he explains, “so I had to go with a custom air suspension setup. Thanks must go to Kean Suspensions for helping and supplying the parts for this. I don’t know how much lower it is than standard but it touches the floor with the engine, front lip and exhaust line, so can’t go any lower.”

    There are numerous exterior modifications, some obvious, others less so. For example, the inner wheel arches have been widened both front and back and you may or may not notice that the passenger-side mirror has been removed. The front-end is a very clever mix or elements – Kevve has opted for a facelifted front but matched to a pre-facelift bumper onto which he’s grafted a DTM front lip – giving the car a face that spans two incarnations of the E30 and then spears off on a motorsport tilt, further reinforced by the addition of the Speedhunters towing strap.

    The finishing touch is the set of four original OE #Hella yellow headlights which not only add a flash of retro charm but also offer a fantastic contrast to the all-grey exterior. Ah yes, that paint. For such a special project a special hue was needed and after a bit of searching, the decision was made to go for Lamborghini Grigio Telesto (the same as the E46 M3 on p8). “I saw it on a Lamborghini Gallardo in Las Vegas and fell in love,” says Kevve. This is an awesome shade of solid grey with incredible impact yet it’s surprisingly rich and light enough to allow the light to pick up on the details in the bodywork. It looks fantastic on the classic E30 shape and really makes it stand out.

    Of course, choose the wrong wheels and nothing else will matter, regardless of how much effort you’ve put into making your car look amazing, so making the right choice was incredibly important for this project. There was never any doubt in our minds that Kevve would do anything other than blow us all away with his wheel selection and he’s done exactly that with these utterly gorgeous #VIP-Modular-VXS210 s. “I’ve always loved these VIP Modular wheels,” says Kevve, “and I wanted something else other than the BBS RS wheels. Don’t get me wrong, I had them on the BMW E21 but I wanted to step up the game and try something different.”

    When it comes to wheel selection on E30s, size matters; but it’s a case of going too big that can often be the problem, so these VIPs measure a modest 17” across and a very reasonable 8”-wide up front and 9” at the rear. Their finish is utterly mesmerising – a gloss copper that looks incredible in the sunlight, rich and warm.

    Matching centre caps and the step lips help to further catch the light and add an extra visual dimension to the wheels. Going for a single colour across the entire wheel is a brave, bold move that can look incredible with the right colour and it’s definitely working here. As a final subtle touch, the bolts are finished in gold, adding a little something extra that only the most eagleeyed observer will be able to spot. The contrast against the expanse of grey bodywork is incredible and the overall effect is stunning.

    So, the outside delivers a big visual hit thanks to some amazing details in an otherwise clean and simple style but the interior certainly holds its own. It’s actually difficult to know where to start here, there’s so much work that has gone into transforming the cabin. The carpets are gone, there’s not a single strand of fibre left across the entire interior, and everything that would have once been carpeted has now been painted matt black. The rear seats have been removed and in their place sits a Wiechers roll-cage, while the front seats have been replaced with a pair of the most alien sport seats out there – all-metal Kirkeys, which look utterly mental. They also look incredibly uncomfortable but are actually meant to be pretty gentle on your butt; Kevve drove this car over to the UK from Belgium for the Players Classic show, so that tells you a lot. The deep-dish sport steering wheel is the perfect partner for the no-frills, no-nonsense seats but the vast expanse of caramel leather offers a delicious luxury contrast. The entire dashboard, doorcards and mid-tunnel are lovingly coated in the buttery soft and beautiful leather. It’s quite literally like the fondant topping on an already amazing cake and gives the incredible interior one more layer, one more tasty treat to enjoy.

    Kevve’s E30 is an astonishing machine built to an incredible standard but, based on his tenure with the E21, we had the feeling that the E30 wasn’t going to be hanging around long for him to enjoy… and that’s exactly what happened. Despite the vast amount of time, effort and, of course, money Kevve’s spent on this car, after just a mere few months of pleasure with it, he’s now sold it to an enthusiast right here in the UK. Fortunately, Kevve’s pretty pragmatic about the whole situation: “I only drove the E30 once a month and I really needed space in my garage so it had to go.

    “I don’t know what’s next. I’m focussing on my business at the moment but I’ll probably build something for Wörthersee.” Whatever that ends up being, you can guarantee it’s going to be awesome. We can’t wait…

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-320i

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 2.0-litre straight-six #M20B20 / #M20 , custom straight-through exhaust, five-speed manual gearbox.

    CHASSIS 8x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) #VIP-Modular VXS210 copper coloured wheels with gold bolts with 185/30 (front) and 195/40 (rear) Nankang NS20 tyres, custom air suspension built from scratch with #AccuAir management, Viair compressors, refurbished brakes throughout.

    EXTERIOR Custom respray in Lamborghini Grigio Telesto, widened inner wheel arches (front and back), new face-lift front with pre-face-lift bumper, #DTM front lip, all towing hooks removed, Speedhunters towing strap, windscreen wipers removed, original OEM Hella yellow headlights, deleted right hand mirror.

    INTERIOR Carpets removed, floor surfaces painted matt black, rear seats removed, Wiechers roll-cage, Kirkey racing seats, leather-trimmed dashboard, doorcards and mid-tunnel, built-in air gauges, deep-dish sport steering wheel.

    THANKS A massive thanks must go to my brother who helped me with loads of things on the car, even during the long nights working hard to get it ready, my girlfriend for the many, many hours together in the garage working on the car and helping me find parts on the internet, my sister for picking up parts for me everywhere, my brother-in-law for helping me with building the seat rails, John for painting the car, Kean Suspensions for supplying the air suspension parts, Christophe from Sexy Wheels for getting the VIP Modular Wheels.

    This E30 is about as low as you can go and looks absolutely incredible aired out.

    “I wanted to step up the game and try something different”

    Dashboard, doors and transmission tunnel have been covered in beautiful caramel-coloured leather.

    Interior has been stripped of all audio, carpets and rear seats, with cage and Kirkey seats added.

    “It touches the floor with the engine, front lip and exhaust line, so can’t go any lower”
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    BMW E30 Want to know what the next level is? Take a look at this Belgian beauty to find out.


    The #BMW E30 is one of those cars that once littered the streets of the UK. It was a common sight and though undoubtedly a good looking and fine handling car, their sheer ubiquity meant that only the likes of the M3 and the larger capacity six-pot models really attracted much attention from the tuning fraternity. It was a similar story around the globe, with the cars steadily building up a hardline, intensely loyal following, something that’s only grown in size and fervour as the E30’s numbers have begun to dwindle. A rich motorsport history and a career spent kicking the stuffing out of all comers in touring car championships across the world helped as well. And that goes a long way towards explaining why the vast majority of tuned E30s tend to stick with the racing theme. All of the above makes this car a welcome breath of fresh air.

    It’s been put together by long time Fast Car photographer Kevve Raekelboom, and, in looks at least, it’s about as far from those pristine, inch-perfect race cars as it’s possible to be. Not that that’s a bad thing of course. Kevve’s car just looks a lot more brutal, raw and, dare we say it, menacing.

    Those bare-metal Kirkey bucket seats are a case in point. They look like they’ve been lifted straight from the cockpit of a B52 bomber! In fact the whole interior wouldn’t look too out of place in some kind of Cold War plane. With all traces of carpet removed and replaced with matt black paint, the rear bench having been dumped, the extensive Wiechers roll cage poking its way into every corner and no ICE at all! “Who needs music with a car that’s this loud and sounds this good,” chuckles Kevve. In fact the only minor concessions to comfort and everyday usability to be found anywhere inside are the leather-clad dashboard, doorcards and transmission tunnel – all of which provide a foil to all that uncompromising exposed metalwork.

    This brings us onto what’s under that pristine bonnet, in this case a carefully fettled BMW six-pot. Now BM’s six-bangers really are the stuff of legend, blending performance with everyday usability and, of course, one hell of a soundtrack. The proof of this is in the pudding, with the unit between the front wings boasting a handy 190bhp. That’s a figure that’s been coaxed from the 2.0 by simply adding a custom side-exit exhaust system, an aftermarket induction kit, and a few other minor fuelling and cooling mods. Okay so 190bhp isn’t exactly going to cause GT-R owners to wake in the middle of the night sweating with fear, but it’s plenty in something as lightweight and well balanced as this E30. Gear selection duties are ably handled by a tight, six-speed manual – again chosen as it makes the most of the modest power available.

    The drivetrain is all very conventional and wouldn’t look at all out of place on a budget E30 track car, but that stunning grey paintwork undoubtedly would. It’s actually Lamborghini Gallardo grey, and makes the boxy, bluff looking Beemer appear even more aggressive and moody, with the result being that the car now has more than a hint of navy fighter jet going on. “I’d been wondering what colour to go for for months. I hadn’t spotted anything that really appealed to me,” Kevve recalls. “It was only when I spotted this on a Gallardo in Las Vegas that I made up my mind – it was love at first sight!”

    There’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye, with Kevve having blended soughtafter OEM extras (like that deep DTM front valance) with carefully selected aftermarket parts, all of which make the car look that much more purposeful.

    Fully paid up Beemer-geeks will no doubt have spotted that Kevve’s also taken the slightly unusual step of fitting the facelifted E30 front end with pre-facelift chrome bumpers. This is a mod that, on paper at least, really shouldn’t work. And yet there’s no doubting that it really, really does, with the bright chrome helping to break up the dark grey paintwork perfectly.

    While it’s probably the shade of Lambo grey that grabs most people’s attention to start with, it’s Kevve’s choice of wheels and his car’s sump-botheringly low stance that really get them talking.

    The former are 17in VXS210 VIP Modular Wheels and were chosen precisely because they’re so rarely seen on BMWs, with most E30 owners opting to run BBSs or something flat-faced and motorsporty. Their copper colour also helps them stand out against the grey and black bodywork, though their considerable width (8in at the front, 9in at the rear) meant the inner arches did have to be modified to provide enough clearance for them. The suspension is actually a custom air kit from Kean Suspensions, Kevve having decided that only bags would leave him the stance he knew the car demanded. “There’s nothing available off the shelf that goes low enough, so I had to go the bespoke route,” he says. “I don’t know how much lower it is than standard, but it touches the floor with the engine, front lip and exhaust, so I can’t go any lower!”

    Two long years of hard work have resulted in one of the best BMWs currently on the modding scene, one that’s all the better for looking totally different from pretty much every other E30 out there.

    There’s no doubting that Kevve’s looked far and wide and drawn on all manner of influences when building it, with the mix of OE hardware and exotic parts offering pretty much the perfect blend, and all on a model that’s now a very rare sight on our roads. Kevve’s still tight lipped when pressed about plans for the future, though he does admit that he might move on to tackle something totally different.

    “I’ll either start afresh and build something new, or I’ll go to town on the engine with some kind of crazy, big-power turbo setup!” Whatever he chooses to do, we’re confident that Kevve’s eye for detail and knack for thinking outside the box will result in something that’s seriously cool and, with a bit of luck, massively powerful too!

    TECH SPEC: #BMW-E30 - #Lamborghini-paintwork / #BMW-320i / #BMW-320i-E30

    STYLING: #1983 BMW E30 with Lamborghini grey paintwork; custom widened inner arches front and back; facelift front end with pre-facelift front bumpers and trim; #DTM front lip; #Speedhunters towing hook; windscreen wiper delete; OEM #Hella yellow headlights; deleted right side mirror.

    CHASSIS: Custom air suspension from #Kean-Suspensions , with #AccuAir management and #Viair compressors; 8x17in and 9x17in VIP #Modular-Wheels-VXS210 in custom copper, golden bolts; 185/30x17 and 195/40x17 Nankang NS20 sport tyres; rebuilt #OE brakes with aftermarket pads.

    INTERIOR: #Kirkey-Racing lightweight bucket seats; matt black interior; rear bench deleted; leather-clad dashboard, doorcards and transmission tunnel; multi-point Wiechers roll cage; deep dish sport steering wheel.

    TUNING: E30 #M20 2.0 I6 / #M20B20 with aftermarket induction kit; custom stainless exhaust with straight through centre section and side exit; six-speed manual gearbox.

    THANKS A massive thanks to my brother, who helped me on loads of things on the car, even during the long nights working to get it ready; my girlfriend for the many, many hours together in the garage working on the car and helping me find parts on the internet; my sister, for picking up parts for me everywhere!; my brother in law for helping me with building those seat-rails; John for painting the car; Kean Suspensions for supplying the air suspension parts; Christophe from Sexy Wheels for getting the VIP #Modular-Wheels .

    There’s an invitation we can’t refuse.


    You’ve got a bit of a thing for modified BMWs, haven’t you?

    “Yeah I do. And some of you might remember my old E21 on #BBS alloys. I just love the look of retro BMWs.”

    Why did you decide to build the car in the way that you have?

    “I can’t stand stock cars, so it was always going to be tuned to some degree. I love building project cars that stand out from the crowd, hence why I draw inspiration from all over the place.” How long did it take to build?“

    A long, long two years!

    What’s on the telly tonight then? Stylish all round. You’d never kick a six-pot out of bed. How low can you go? “The wheels were chosen precisely because they’re so rarely seen on BMWs”
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    BUYING GUIDE #BMW-520i-E28 , #BMW-525e-E28 , #BMW-525i-E28 and #BMW-528i-E28

    Buying Guide All you need to know if you’re looking at a smaller-engined version of the classic E28 5 Series.

    The E28 is fast becoming an appreciating classic and if you want one to enjoy on a regular basis, it’s the six-cylinder non-M versions you should be looking at… Words: Simon Holmes Photography: Dave Smith.

    It’s hard to imagine that BMW started work on the second generation of 5 Series some six years before it was launched, but there was good reason for the pre-planning. The previous E12 had been hugely successful and BMW was keen to maintain the lead it had pulled on its rivals. However, when the E28 arrived in the UK in early 1982 it was immediately criticised for its conservative styling that didn’t seem to look a whole lot different from the previous model launched some nine years before! But although the two models shared the same roof pressing, virtually every other panel, part and component was different and improved upon.

    For a start, the E28 platform was lighter, lower and more aerodynamic. It featured a shorter wheelbase and the suspension incorporated a double-pivot design at the front, borrowed from the E23 7 Series. At the rear, there was an improved axle design to increase both stability and ride comfort. Comfort was also a focus inside, as the seats were bigger and the rear cabin space increased for both headroom and legroom. The dashboard was also angled towards the driver and double door seals reduced road noise.

    Electronics played a bigger part this time round, as an on-board computer and a new sophisticated Service Interval Indicator were introduced, along with other optional, modern day luxuries such as power steering, central locking, electric windows and ABS. Power-wise, the E28 was launched with a number of engines ranging in size, all of which were carried over from the E12, but modern upgrades such as fuel injection ensured they were up to scratch. The straight-six range started with the 520i, powered by a fuel injected 1990cc ‘small-block’ #M20B20 engine, producing 125hp and 122lb ft of torque. This equated to a 0-62mph time of 11.8 seconds and a top speed of 115mph when connected to the standard manual gearbox. Next in the six-pot family came the #BMW-525i , which was fitted with the larger ‘bigblock’ M30 engine #M30B25 . Capacity was up to 2494cc and power output increased to 150hp and 159lb ft of torque, which produced a 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds with a top speed of 125mph, again with the manual transmission option. Last up, fitting in before the more sporting M535i model was the #BMW-528i , which again used the larger M30 engine. In the 528i, the #M30B28 2788cc unit produced a gusty 184hp and 177lb ft of torque, which offered impressive performance thanks to a 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 134mph. A five-speed manual gearbox was standard but on all six-cylinder cars there was also an automatic option. At first, this was a ZF3HP three-speed transmission but that was soon replaced with an updated four-speed #ZF4HP in 1983.

    By #1984 , BMW was forced to address a demand by the public for more fuel-efficient models. This is where the 525e entered the picture. The ‘e’ designation stood for ‘eta’ and the model was based upon the American-spec #BMW-528e that had been introduced a year-and-a-half earlier. The #BMW-525e featured a unique 2.7-litre version of the ‘small-block’ M20 engine, fitted with a new Bosch fuel injection system for more accurate control of the engine, which improved performance and emissions. Power was down to 125hp but with 177lb ft of torque to match and in the UK it was only available with the four-speed automatic. This affected performance, which was listed as 0-62mph in 12.2 seconds with a top speed of 118mph.

    Other enhancement updates followed in the final years of the E28, and in #1985 the #BMW-520i received a mild revamp that saw an improved fuel injection system increase engine output to 129hp and 128lb ft of torque. To accompany the changes, the axle ratio was also lowered for manual transmission cars and low profile tyres were added for the first time. In 1986, the 520i was upgraded to discs at the rear, bringing it in line with the rest of the six-cylinder cars that already had them as standard and the interior received some minor changes across the range. A majority of cars from this time until the E28’s end were equipped with the ‘Lux’ specification pack, which included alloy wheels, electric windows and mirrors, central locking and a sunroof.

    The E28 outsold the previous E12 but the styling quickly aged the car, which meant its lifespan wasn’t as long as its predecessor. Production ended in #1987 after a six-year worldwide run to make way for the replacement E34 model.

    Buying one

    As a classic car to live with and enjoy on weekends, the E28 is ideal. It’s modern and practical enough to actually use whilst still feeling decidedly retro. And if you plan on using it regularly, then the six-pot cars make more sense than the less torquey four-pot, as the silky smooth engines suit their character. Plus they are usually better spec’d.

    If you do want one, be aware there aren’t many to choose from, so be prepared to make compromises rather than deciding on a particular model, in a certain colour. Also consider that there’s not a whole lot of difference between the 520i and 525e in terms of performance, it’s only the 525i manual and 528i that feel notably faster than the other models. You should be buy based on the condition over anything else. There is plenty to check so make sure you’re up to scratch and always take the car on a testdrive. An E28 that feels unresponsive and tired, both in terms of engine power and general handling, will indicate how well it’s been looked after and loved. Look for proof of that, too. A car that’s 30 years old should have a good amount of history to show it’s been treated well.

    Price-wise, it’s hard to find a working six-pot E28 below £1500 now. Decent cars that are in good shape will easily cost double that, so budget as much as you can or if you’re limited, at least be prepared to take on a car in need of work. At the top end of the scale, we found a mint looking 528i with 51,000 miles for a shade under £9000.


    The E28 wears its miles well, although the driver’s seat bolster tends to wear at high miles. A specialist trimmer can repair them but it’s not cheap. The other option is to find a good replacement, which is hard to do, although it helps that E30 3 Series seats bolt straight up to the E28 runners. With some modification the later E34 5 Series seats can also fit. Over the years, the sun can fade the parcel shelf colouring and crack the top of the dashboard. Both can be either repaired or replaced.

    Electrics are your next problem, so find out if everything works as it should. Slow or seized electric windows or mirrors will be down to either the motors or switches and these can both be cleaned and lubricated, which usually brings them back to life. Sunroofs can seize through lack of use, while a broken heater is more likely to be a faulty matrix or valve. If the central locking is showing signs of dying then check and replace its control module that is fitted in the driver’s side A-pillar.

    More serious issues can occur with the instrument clusters. If the service indicator is dead then there’s a good sign that other gauges will soon follow if they haven’t already stopped working, as the cluster incorporates a battery that corrodes and damages the circuit board its mounted to. The earlier, pre-1986 cluster boards cannot be repaired, so a good secondhand one has to be sourced, but supply is drying up. Later, face-lifted clusters can be repaired. The faulty cluster will also tend to knock out the OBC and, eventually, every other gauge.

    Steering and suspension

    There are plenty of reasons why an E28 might feel a bit vague, lifeless and tired when it comes to the handling and steering side of things. This tends to ruin the feel of the car but it can usually be cured relatively simply and cheaply.

    Starting with the rear, if there’s a light knocking noise when pulling away or if the car has fishtailing tendencies at speed, then the axle beam bushes are most likely worn and it will slowly get worse. However, it’s quite a tricky job to replace them unless you have the correct tools and it’s always worth fitting high quality replacements that will last. If the car experiences wheel hop or a harsh vibration when pulling away quickly, then the trailing arm bushes will need replacing.

    At the front end, TCAs wear out, as do the bushes fitted to them and a shudder when braking is a sign they are on the way out. A knocking noise when moving the steering wheel at stationary indicates the Pitman arm bushes or tie rods are worn. A light rattle when driving is more likely to be worn anti-roll bar bushes. Worn ball joints are a little more serious as, left to get worse, they can cause further damage to other components, so any strange handling tendencies should be investigated immediately.

    Another common fault that makes the car drive badly is the steering box mount failing, which causes a terrible wayward feeling from the front end. Although the mount can be welded back in place, it can break again, so it’s advisable to add a reinforcing locating dowel at the same time. Last of all, dampers often get tired and corrode if they haven’t been replaced in a while. Even if they aren’t leaking fluid it’s worth replacing them if they look a bit dilapidated, as the spring cups have been known to rot and fail, which is dangerous.

    Transmission and drivetrain

    The manual ‘boxes are near unbreakable, even after huge miles, but they can begin to feel a little loose and tired after time. This is due to worn linkages, selector shafts and bushes. Replacing these will make the ‘box feel tight again. Often just replacing the gear stick bush alone will cure most of the slack feeling, but it can be tricky.

    The ZF auto ‘boxes are generally pretty reliable units but they require regular fluid changes to remain in tiptop state so look for evidence of this in the service history. Otherwise, high mileage begins to kill them and the torque converters can also fail. Both the manual and automatics are prone to leaking a little oil, which is usually caused by faulty selector shaft and/or output shaft seals. #ZF4HP22 / #ZF3HP

    Elsewhere, the transmission, diff mounts, propshaft centre bearings and couplings all tend to perish over time, creating ‘donk’ noises and vibrations at low speeds. Also make sure that the clutch master cylinder mounting bracket is in one piece as they are known to break.


    Both the M20 and #M30 engines are very strong but they do require regular maintenance, especially as they get older. Oil changes are recommended every 6000 miles and coolant should also be changed regularly. The #M20 engine in the 520i and 525e uses a timing belt and this should be changed every 50,000 miles or so, though as these cars get older it seems popular to change them even more regularly than that. It’s always worth doing the water pump at the same time as it’s far more accessible with the belt off.

    The M30 engine in the 525i and 528i uses a timing chain instead of a belt, and it shouldn’t need replacing unless, for example, the engine has done 300,000 miles and it sounds rattly. The plastic chain guides are worth replacing if the engine is apart, though.

    If either engine has a hesitant idle then check for corroded vacuum lines first, before moving on to air-flow meter and the cold start valve. If there’s a smell of fuel either in the cabin or under the bonnet then it’s likely the fuel tank is leaking where it meets the filler neck, or the fuel lines are beginning to corrode, which doesn’t cost much to replace but take time.

    Other than that, it’s the cooling system on any E28 that needs close inspection. On the testdrive make sure the temperature gauge doesn’t read erratically. It should go up to and remain around the halfway point, even in traffic. If it does show strange signs then the viscous fan is the first place to look; make sure it is engaging and disengaging as it should. Then it’s time to check the radiator as these tend to corrode and then leak from the end caps. Also check that the hoses and expansion tank haven’t perished and are leaking coolant as, although it’s fairly rare, this could kill a headgasket.

    Wheels, tyres and brakes Secondhand E28s tend to wear either their original wheels, alloys borrowed from another model, or aftermarket replacements. As long as they fit properly and are in keeping with the car then it doesn’t make much of a difference. Be aware, though, that any wheel wobble at speed could be linked to the wheels and tyres, no matter how good they look.

    While you’re inspecting the wheels it’s always worth checking the tyres closely, both front and rear, as odd wear patterns are a certain indication that something is wrong suspension-, chassis- or steering-wise.

    When it comes to brakes, there are a few common faults. The calipers tend to seize over time, dragging on the disc. It this happens it will require a refurb to make them new again. A faulty master cylinder can also cause dragging brakes, and is likely to be the main culprit for a poor pedal-feel, too. Brake lines are known to corrode and replacing them front to back is a tricky job but should improve a lifeless brake pedal, as will lubricating the linkage to the master cylinder. If the ‘brake’ icon ever illuminates on the dashboard whilst braking then it’s most likely that the brake booster or power regulator, known as a ‘bomb’, is at fault. Warped discs will cause a brake judder, which will start at high speed but can get worse.

    Finally, there’s the ABS system, if it has one fitted. The easiest way to check if it does is by looking for the ‘anti lock’ or ABS light on the dashboard, or the ABS pump under the bonnet, although the washer fluid bottle hides it quite well. When you start engine the anti lock/ABS light should come on and then go off again quickly. If it stays on, or if goes out and then comes back on when you’re driving, it means there is a problem. It’s most likely to be the trigger rings, located in each of the hubs. These often rust up and so simply cleaning them with a wire brush can cure the issue. Otherwise, it could be down to a faulty sensor, pump, or control unit (which is located above the glovebox).

    If the anti lock/ #Bosch #ABS icon is on the dashboard but the light doesn’t come on at all then the bulb has been taken out or the entire ABS system has been removed. The latter is fine to pass an MoT still, the former is not, so physically check for the pump, control unit and sensors.


    As you might expect with an ’80s #BMW , rust is a major problem so it’s wise to inspect any #BMW-E28 vigilantly. That’s because most of the worst rot comes from the ground up, so get a good look underneath the car if you can. Look for crunchy-looking jacking points and sills. Then check the front floorpans where they meet the bulkhead and inner sills. Ideally, lift the carpets on the inside on both sides. If this is not feasible then just feel if it’s damp. This will indicate if the drainage holes are blocked (and further possible rot) or possibly there’s a broken heater matrix.

    At the rear, the axle mounts are prone to corrosion, which is costly to repair. Also check the rear panel around the numberplate lights, lock mechanism and below the tail-light area for bubbling paint, as this means rot is coming though. Then open the boot and look for signs of moisture. Both the bootlid and taillight seals are known to fail, leaking water into the boot area which will damage the carpet, trim and electrics. Inspect the boot floor and then take a look inside the spare wheel well for signs of corrosion. Working forwards, the doors can rot at the hinges and from the bottom up, as can the front wings – and this can continue along the lip of the arch. Up top, the sunroof panel can rot and any corrosion around the A-pillars and scuttle panel is particularly bad news as repairs here are complex and costly. Under the bonnet, rot can begin in between the inner wings and strut tops, again often due to blocked drainage holes. Finally, the plastics and any chrome work as these bits are hard to find and expensive to replace, if missing or damaged.


    The E28 is fast maturing into a BMW icon, and whilst the M5 models are already there, the more basic six-pot cars are becoming more sought after. Prices are on the up and the days of buying a tidy car for a few hundred pounds have long gone.

    There are plenty of things to look out for when buying one, but mechanically, there’s less to worry about as virtually everything is easy enough to sort. But getting into a full restoration of the bodywork quickly becomes time-consuming and wallet deflating so buy the most rot-free one you can find. That’s no reason to avoid an E28, just source a car wisely and enjoy it as a practical and wellpriced modern classic whilst you still can.

    E28 520i
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 1990cc
    MAX POWER: 125hp
    MAX TORQUE: 122lb ft
    0-62MPH: 11.8 seconds (14.4)
    TOP SPEED: 115mph (111)

    E28 520i post-1985
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 1990cc
    MAX POWER: 129hp
    MAX TORQUE: 128lb ft
    0-62MPH: 11.4 seconds (13.3)
    TOP SPEED: 118mph (114)

    E28 525i
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 2494cc
    MAX POWER: 150hp
    MAX TORQUE: 159lb ft
    0-62MPH: 9.8 seconds (11.9)
    TOP SPEED: 125mph (121)

    E28 525e
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 2693cc
    MAX POWER: 125hp
    MAX TORQUE: 177lb ft
    0-62MPH: 12.2 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 118mph

    E28 528i
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 2788cc
    MAX POWER: 184hp
    MAX TORQUE: 177lb ft
    0-62MPH: 8.4 seconds (10.8)
    TOP SPEED: 134mph (129)
    Figures in brackets for automatic
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    The #BMW-E28 seems to be getting a lot of love these days and this super-slick bagged example is proof of that. Kevin Sköld doesn’t let such trivialities as distance or complexity get in the way of building his dream car. He just grits his teeth and gets on with it... Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Scott Paterson.

    “There and then I decided that it was the car for me… the only issue was that it was 800 miles away from my home”

    It’s a shame you’re so far away’. How many times have you seen that phrase appear on forum for sale threads? Whether the item in question is a pair of seats, a set of wheels, or an entire car, there’s a good chance that someone on the thread’s going to pipe up with ‘that’s just what I’m looking for, I wish you were closer’.

    This, if you’ll permit a moment’s cynicism, just isn’t good enough. Let’s say you’re on the lookout for – to pluck a random example out of the ether – a red E34 with a grey interior, with low mileage and original paint. Quite a specific aspiration, yes. But then one becomes available at a price you’d be foolish to baulk at, with the only perceived hurdle being that it’s 200 miles away from where you live. What do you do? If it was me, I’d be in like Flynn.

    Straight up there on the next train, readies in hand, eager to get to know the new car in the best way possible: by driving it, and a really decent distance too. Ditto wheels – so what if you’re in Canterbury and they’re in Glasgow? Fly up there, bring ’em home in a suitcase. You’re not Levison Wood, hiking the length of the Nile on foot over a nine month period, living off starlings and bushrats that you’ve taken down with a home-made catapult. If the thing in question is what you want, then it’s what you want. You only live once. Go get it.

    I’m massively over-simplifying, of course. Time and travel costs can always be significant factors, every case is unique. But if it’s a question of taking a couple of days of your life to bring home the car of your dreams, and you’re in a position to do so, then you’ll find yourself inducted into the oh-so-cool club of everyday automotive adventurers – those who are prepared to go the extra mile to make stuff happen.

    Sweden’s Kevin Sköld is one such person. “I’ve always wanted an E28,” he explains. “The precision with which it’s formed, the design, the fact that it’s a little less common than other old-school BMWs over here… and, of course, Mike Burroughs was a huge influence.” For those of you who don’t know what an internet is, the revered Burroughs is the brains behind the perennially popular Stanceworks franchise; his cherished ‘Rusty Slammington’ 5 Series developed online like a TV series, with twists in the tale including custom rust effects, a slammed trailer, a roofchop, WWII bomber aesthetics, and ultimate destruction by fire. It was like Scorsese directed it, and the E28 became the poster boy of retro stance for a generation of fashion-forward young enthusiasts.

    “I just knew it was the car I had to have,” says Kevin. “I was particularly on the lookout for a black or grey one, but their scarcity in Sweden meant that I was looking for a long time with no luck. And then one day, the perfect car popped up on, which is like our version of Craigslist or Gumtree.

    There and then, I decided that it was the car for me – it was a #BMW-520i in Dolphin grey, it had straight bodywork, was unrestored and still wearing its original paint… the only issue was that it was in Pajala, which is around 800 miles from my home. But it was the car I wanted, so I got a flight to Pajala, bought it, and drove it home.” Interestingly, he’s not presenting this as a great hardship, or an achievement that he’s expecting plaudits and slaps on the back for – it’s just what he did.

    He wanted to buy a particular car, he found one, he went to get it. Simple as that. “It ran great all the way home, there wasn’t a single problem,” he says. Again, he’s not expressing surprise, it’s just a statement of fact. Classic BMW reliability, eh?

    Having got the thing home, it was time to figure out the next step. This kind of story never ends with the acquisition of the car; yes, it’s an ambition fulfilled, but this would be a short magazine if it was all about people searching for used cars and then buying them. Not a lot of intrigue there. So where does the intrigue arise in the saga of Kevin’s E28?

    Well, in a sense you could say that it stems back to 2007, when Mike Burroughs first acquired his E28 and set about altering the landscape of the retro modifying scene by harnessing social media to disseminate some radical ideas about wheels and ride height.

    While there’s no direct link between his build and Kevin’s, there’s an ideological thread that ties them forever together. This pretty much informs the answer when Kevin is asked what his initial reaction to the car was when he got it home after that lengthy road trip. “I was thinking about wide old split-rim wheels and air-ride suspension,” he deadpans.

    Well, why not? If you’ve grown up surrounded by aspirational images of such things circulating online, it’s an understandable approach. It’s easier to make your dreams come true if you set them out to be achievable in the first place, right? “So then it was just a case of saving up the money to make it happen,” he continues. “This isn’t easy when you’re still at school. But after a couple of years, I got there.” You have to admire his clarity of vision.

    The suspension setup he ended up going with came courtesy of those nice folks at Air Lift. To keep things affordable, Kevin bought a universal air-ride kit comprising bags, struts and the highly regarded AutoPilot V2 management. “I fitted it all myself, all of the welding and fabrication that was required happened at home in my garage,” he explains. “For the wheels, I sourced a set of OZ Breytons.” We don’t ask where he got them, as we prefer to believe that they were hundreds of miles from his home, and he had to forge a swashbuckling adventure to collect them, setting out on foot in his snowshoes, wrestling bears and fighting off dragons with his mighty flaming sword. This may or may not be the case. But however it happened, you have to agree that the Breytons are a fine choice – they’re one of those designs that look oh-so-right on any number of cars, and they’re not all that common so they’re just the thing for point-scoring in Scene Top Trumps, if that kind of thing is your bag.

    “I wanted to finish the wheels in a colour that’d stand out, to make them even more eye-catching,” Kevin recalls, “and after a lot of thinking I decided that a lollipop red powdercoat would complement the stock Dolphin grey paint well.” He’s right, they look fantastic under those factory-standard (if slightly teased and tickled) arches.

    We’ve got to hand it to Kevin – his homegrown engineering skills have truly come into their own with the chassis mods on this car, something which is most evident when he flicks the switch and airs the thing out. The amount of trial-and-error and time-consuming infinitesimal adjustments to get it all just-so don’t really bear thinking about – although for somebody with his perspective on distance-versus-reward, he probably views time as an equally malleable and potentially sacrificial commodity. You just do what you’ve got to do to achieve the fancy idea in your head. There are no difficult tasks, just as there are no difficult journeys… some just take longer than others.

    You can’t argue with the results, either – stretched tyres and the whole tuck/poke/ flush debate may leave a sour taste with some of you, but others will lap it up, and the latter group will undoubtedly doff their caps to the manner in which the rear arches sit perfectly between the Breytons’ lips and the tyres’ sidewalls when the E28 lowers itself. Such precision measurement is a work of art – or, more accurately, a work of craft.

    You may also be unsurprised to learn that we catch Kevin’s #BMW 520i in a state of flux. Never one to cool his heels when there’s a-modifyin’ to be done, he’s been working hard to push the project onward to its next phase of evolution. “The stock drivetrain remains for now,” he says, “but it’s always been the plan to get a Toyota 1JZ engine in there at some point. Although the original M20 has done about 345,000km now, so it might seem like a bit of a shame to eventually take it out!” Yeah, we bet – Kevin probably managed to clock all of that up in half a dozen journeys…

    And while our lens has captured the BMW in arguably its finest state of dress, wearing as it does its original paint, Kevin has since seen fit to perfect a few minor niggles and repaint the whole thing, again in Dolphin grey. Oh, and he’s fitted a black leather interior from an E34 (we don’t ask where that came from either, Iceland or something probably) as well as a set of JDM Work VS-XX wheels, much like you’ll find on the E46 M3 elsewhere in this issue. We imagine he had to sail to Japan in a boat he made from hope and twigs in order to haul them back to Sweden.

    It’s often said that projects, like so many things in life, are as much about the journey as the destination, and that’s very much the case here. But sometimes, it’s also just about doing what you want to do, and to hell with any perceived difficulties or hurdles. ‘It’s a shame you’re not closer’? Ah, it’s only a shame for you – someone with more tenacity will be along shortly to snap that project up. No-one ever looks back on their life in their dotage and says ‘I wish I’d been less impulsive’. Kevin Sköld certainly won’t.

    “I wanted to finish the wheels in a colour that would stand out and decided that a red powdercoat would complement the stock Dolphin grey paint well”

    DATA FILE #BMW-520i-E28 #M20

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.0-litre straight-six #M20B20 , #Getrag #Getrag-260 five-speed manual.

    CHASSIS: 10.5x17” ET -10 (front) and 11x17” ET -15 (rear) #OZ Breytons with 205/40 Dunlop (front) and 215/40 Hifly (rear) tyres, universal Air Lift system incorporating bags, dampers and AutoPilot V2 management.

    EXTERIOR: Stock #E28 with original Dolphin grey paint, pulled arches

    INTERIOR: Stock E28, Junction Produce neck pillows, Nardi steering wheel and matching wood gear knob

    Stance and fitment are absolutely on point with this E28 while a couple of tasteful woody additions finish off the interior.
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    Not all original #Amsterdam owned E30 Cabrio #M20 engine 2.0-liter.

    #BMW #320i #E30 #BAUR Cabriolet

    #M20B20 S6 / 1.991 cc / 125 PS / 125 ft/lb (170 Nm) @ 4.000
    0 - 62 mph (100 km/h): 9,8 s
    Max: 124 mph (200 km/h)
    #DEPO front and rear optics – not original
    #BBS replica – not original
    Interior all original, but look not like new car
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