- Post is under moderationCUSTOM 2002 Metal wide-body with a 2.7 swap.
Bought in a state far beyond saving, the only way this #BMW-2002 could survive was to be transformed into something completely different.
SHOW, NO SHINE Custom, wide-body 2.7 2002 / Words: Elizabeth de Latour / Photos: Matt Richardson
It feels like we maybe we should be apologising, again, because for the second month running we’re featuring a 2002 that a lot of people are going to find upsetting. But we won’t be, because we like it too much to care what anyone else thinks. It’s unapologetically a personal project, built solely for the pleasure of its owner, Josh Parker, to hone his skills and then show them off. From top to bottom, inside and out, everything you see before you has been crafted by Josh’s own two hands, with a bit of help from dad along the way, which makes this already spectacular 2002 even more so.
Josh has always been into cars, he tells us, and it all began at the tender age of 12 when he was given a petrol-powered R/C car and building that set him on path he walks today. After passing his test he was chomping at the bit to get modding on something, though insurance restrictions meant he had to make do with an R56 MINI JCW, spiced up with some coilovers and other bits until he could make his dream of doing a full build come true. The fact that he had no mechanical or motorsport experience was not going to stop him and there was no practice run or warm up before getting this car, he went straight from 0-2002.
“I bought the car in Thame just over three years ago,” explains Josh, “and it was awful,” he adds, laughing. “It had been off the road since 1989 and was in terrible condition, completely rusty, but because of that I only paid £1200 for it. It took two years to put it together, though in its first form it had a different engine, Golf arches and different wheels. Starting out, I knew nothing about welding or anything like that,” he says, “so the first step was getting it on the road and then, having developed my skills, I knew I could do everything better the second time around so 18 months ago it went through a big change,” and the result of that is what you’re looking at here. “The fact that I wanted to do everything on the car myself was a big influence on how the car has come out, “ he explains, “as I went my own way with it. I spent a year making the chassis strong and replacing stuff. The car was a blank canvas, it was so bad I couldn’t make it any worse,” he laughs. “The whole car looked like Swiss cheese, but at least I got to practice welding. The whole project has been hard, though, it’s taken a long time as I was starting from nothing. I spent a lot of time doing individual things, weeks at a time, and sometimes I needed to take a break, step away, but I never gave up.
“My decision to change how the car looked came about when I realised that too many people were doing Golf arches, it wasn’t low enough and that I didn’t like the wheels. I decided to pick the wheels I wanted and then built the new, custom arches around them and doing that meant I could go for a really aggressive offset. I chose a set of 7Twenty Style44s in bronze, 9x15” ET0 all-round with 215/50 tyres; I didn’t want too much stretch but needed a bit to get the wheels to tuck under the arches.” The resulting fitment is absolutely perfect, but even with that zero offset Josh is still running 20mm spacers up front and 10mm at the rear, taking the final offset well into the negative. The wheels themselves are certainly handsome, single-piece items with stepped lips and plenty of dish, while the matt bronze finish looks great against the car’s patchwork quilt bodywork.
Where Josh felt the car wasn’t low enough before there’s no such concern now, with Gaz coilovers delivering a serious drop, but that wasn’t enough for him… “I’ve raised the front and rear strut towers by 40mm to lower it even further,” he grins and the end result is spectacular, the tyres disappearing up into those magnificent arches and the 2002’s belly sitting a hair’s breadth above the ground. The arches themselves are custom metal items measuring a monstrous 60mm wider per side up front and 50mm per side at the rear, giving this 2002 a stance far beyond its diminutive dimensions.
The brakes have also been comprehensively upgraded, with four-pot Wilwood calipers mounted on custom carriers up front with 260mm drilled and vented discs along with E21 323i hubs, while at the rear you’ll find Mk3 Golf rear calipers matched to Mk1 Golf front discs while Hel braided brake lines have been fitted throughout. You might think that all that brake work seems like overkill for a 2002 but you see it isn’t, because there’s something a bit special going on under the bonnet.
“I always knew I was going to do an engine swap,” Josh tells us, and what he’s done is taken a low-revving, M20B27 eta engine from BMW’s 325e and 525e models, designed for efficiency, and comprehensively reworked it to better suit his performance-driven needs. Sitting on custom engine mounts, the once-docile 2.7 has been transformed with a 325i top end, M21 forged crank, forged, reground stage one cam, Alpina B3 2.7 chip, a honed intake manifold, 185cc injectors and Magnecor ignition leads. He’s also fitted an M50B25 radiator and added a custom six-branch exhaust manifold that connects up to a custom 2.5” exhaust with twin pipes. It’s an impressive list of mods and it makes for some impressive numbers, with the 2.7 now pushing out 240hp thanks to Josh’s handiwork, which makes this 2002 a real road rocket. Naturally the transmission required a bit of work to make sure it was up to the task of dealing with the 2.7’s grunt and Josh was more than happy to get his hands dirty. “The gearbox itself is a Getrag 260 Sport five-speed on custom mounts with a stage one clutch and I’ve also fitted a 3.64 small case LSD from an E21 with custom-drilled output flanges.”
The exterior might, at first glance, appear to be a mess to some but there’s a lot more going on here than first meets the eye. The arches steal the show but there’s also a custom front lip and a custom drag spoiler, custom bash bars and a back-dated rear panel that allowed Josh to fit the arguably much cooler round rear lights. One of our favourite parts of the exterior work, though, is the quick-release front clip, that allows for the entire front end to be removed in a matter of minutes. While it’s designed to allow easy access to the engine for mods and maintenance, seeing a car driving around with no front end is pretty cool. With a race car-inspired exterior you’d expect the theme to carry on inside the car, and you’re not going to be disappointed here. “This car was originally a Lux model,” explains Josh, “so it had a nice, powder blue interior though when I bought the car it was smelly and had started to rot, but I always knew that I was going to strip the interior, I just wanted to have the bare essentials to have the car running,” and he’s certainly stuck to that philosophy. About the only part of the interior that is still recognisable is the ’02 dashboard and instrument cluster but beyond that it’s all change. There’s a big convex Longacre rear-view mirror, single Cobra Sebring Pro seat with a TRS four-point harness, a Momo Model 69 suede steering wheel and a custom switch panel, custom pedal box and there’s also a hydraulic handbrake and a custom dual fulcrum short shifter. “I wanted to feel like I was in a Touring car,” explains Josh, “so I wanted the wheel high and close and a tall gearlever close to the wheel. The cage is actually a historic-spec one for the ’02 that I bought and then modified to make it stronger,” explains Josh. “It just bolts in but I want to make a new cage for it, eight-to-ten point, fully welded-in, which is one of my next big plans.” Meanwhile, in the boot you’ll find a 30-litre aluminium fuel tank with a surge tank, which is fed by one of the two Bosch 044 fuel pumps, the other feeding the engine.
As much work as has gone into this car over the past three years, it’s only the beginning of what is going to be a much longer journey and Josh’s plans for the car are numerous and substantial. “I want to do a front-mid-engine conversion,” he says matter-of-factly, “I’ve come this far so I might as well keep going,” he laughs, but that’s just scratching the surface. “I’m currently working on a secret E30 project and that’s going to pave the way for the 2002. I want to make the car more useable and more reliable, but no less crazy,” he grins. “I want to iron out the bugs, modernise the underpinnings to make it more enjoyable; for example, currently if I’m taking it to a show and it’s too far, I will trailer it, which takes away from the experience and I want to be able to drive it everywhere.” All this work isn’t just for Josh’s amusement, though, it’s for the benefit of his company, Under Development Motorsport, and some of what he’s made will be for sale there, like his short shift kit. “It’s billet and should fit everything from E21s to E9x models,” he says.
This 2002 is really an automotive expression of sheer joy and you can feel how much love and enthusiasm Josh has for this car when you talk to him about it. “It’s great to drive something that gets so much attention and that you genuinely built yourself, it’s just a great feeling,” he says with a smile. We can’t wait to see where he takes the ’02 and judging by what he’s achieved here so far, that E30 is going to be something really special too…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Wide-body 2.7 #BMW-2002 / #Alpina-B3 / #Alpina / #BMW-2002-Wide-body / #BMW-2002-Alpina / #BMW-2002-Alpina-2.7 / #7Twenty / #BMW-2002-E10 / #BMW-E10 / #BMW / #BMW-2002-Alpina-E10
ENGINE 2.7-litre straight-six #M20B27 eta / #BMW-M20 / #M20 / #M20B27ETA , M21 forged crankshaft, stage one cam, #Alpina-B3-2.7-chip , #K&N cone filter, honed intake manifold, #Magnecor ignition leads, custom engine mounts, 185cc injectors, custom stainless six-branch exhaust manifold, custom 2.5” exhaust with twin blast pipes, fully silicone-hosed cooling system, M50B25 radiator
TRANSMISSION #Getrag-260 / #Getrag five-speed manual gearbox, stage one clutch, custom gearbox mounts, E21 3.64 small case #LSD with custom-drilled output flanges
CHASSIS 9x15” ET0 (front and rear) #7Twenty-Style44 wheels in matt bronze with 215/45 (front and rear) Toyo TR1 tyres, #GAZ-GHA coilovers with adjustable top mounts, #GAZ front camber plates, front and rear strut towers raised 40mm, custom front anti-roll bar relocation and drop links, fully poly bushed and reinforced front and rear subframes, custom rear subframe camber and toe adjustment plates, custom gearbox and exhaust tunnels, reinforced sills and various other chassis bracing throughout, rear strut tower brace, Wilwood four-pot calipers and custom carriers with 260mm drilled and vented discs and E21 323i hubs (front), Mk1 Golf front discs with Mk3 Golf rear calipers and custom caliper carriers (rear), Hel braided brake lines (front and rear)
EXTERIOR Custom metal wide arches, custom front lip, bash bars, custom drag spoiler, custom racing livery, back-dated rear panel work to allow for round rear lights and fuel filler cap delete, custom quick release front clip for fast removal of front-end
INTERIOR #Cobra-Sebring-Pro seat, TRS four-point harness, #Driftworks quick release hub, #Momo model 69 suede steering wheel, custom dual fulcrum short shift, hydraulic handbrake, custom pedal box, sixpoint bolt-in cage, custom switch panel, 30-litre aluminium race tank in boot with surge tank and twin #Bosch-044 fuel pumps
THANKS Graham, Nicola and Hannah for all the support! All the @76build Instagram followers, all the other people showing love for the 02 and last but not least Thierry and Lewis at www.7twenty.co.uk. Cheers guys.
“From top to bottom, inside and out, everything you see before you has been crafted by Josh’s own two hands”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationDUE DILIGENCE Stunning super-rare E21 323i / #JPS / #BMW-E21 / #BMW-323i / #BMW-323i-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-323i-JPS / #BMW-323i-JPS-E21 / #Getrag / #Getrag-245 / #M20B27 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 / #BMW /
Due Diligence The story of one man’s love affair with JPS BMWs and in particular his stunning E21 323i example. Hard work, combined with a bit of luck, can take you a long way. In Australian Stewart Garmey’s case, it took him around the world as he helped other BMW enthusiasts, and also led him to possibly one of the rarest limited edition BMWs made. Words and photography: Chris Nicholls.
It takes a unique level of dedication to spend a quarter of a century committed to a brand. And not just committed for your own purposes, but working tirelessly to help fellow enthusiasts enjoy their BMWs, wherever in the world they may be. That’s the kind of dedication Australian, Stewart Garmey has, though. A BMW fan since 1977, when a friend let him drive his then-new 2002 in New Zealand, Stewart finally got his own ‘02 in 1989 (a Taiga green Tii) after his mother passed away. “I always promised myself a 2002, and when my mum passed away in 1989, she left me a small inheritance. My wife said my mum had always promised me a BMW, so I better go and do it!”
Having taken the plunge, he undertook a bare metal restoration of the car and also joined the BMW Club of Victoria, spending the next 25 years attending club meets, participating in show ’n’ shines and organising things. From 1997-2001 he worked as club president, eventually joining the board of BMW Clubs Australia, and in 2004 he even became the Australian delegate to the International Council of BMW Clubs – a position he held for the next ten years. In 2015, in recognition of all his hard work, Stewart received the ‘Friend of the Marque’ accolade, becoming only the 48th council member to be awarded it, and the sixth Australian. It’s something he is justifiably proud of, saying it was like “getting the Brownlow” (the Aussie Rules equivalent of the PFA Player’s Player of the Year award).
Of course, just owning a BMW (no matter how nicely restored) and working hard for club members worldwide was probably not going to get him Friend of the Marque, but Stewart proved his love for the brand over many years with further acquisitions. There was an immaculate Henna red South African-built E28 M5 we featured in our October 2014 issue that was so spectacular Stewart even received an offer for it from Ralf Rodepeter at the BMW Museum (a sale that only fell through because BMW claimed it would have trouble insuring the RHD car in Germany). He’s also owned a JPS 323i that he sold a while back, and he currently has a E92 325i Coupé and E91 323i Motorsport Touring he and his wife use as their current daily drivers respectively. Oh, and because clearly he hasn’t done enough for BMW as it is, Stewart runs a register of JPS BMWs (both the Australian factory race cars and road-going special editions made to order in Australia to commemorate them) in his spare time, as no factory records are thought to exist now.
Now, for those who may not know, here’s a little more information on these Australian-only specials… Covering many different models, they were commissioned by BMW Australia to cash-in on the Team JPS BMW Group 5 and Group A cars of the ’80s. Available only by request, each one came with gold-centred BBS-Mahle wheels, rib-back Recaro seats, an M1 steering wheel, #JPS badges, a build numberplate and the signature black-with-gold-pinstripe livery. According to Stewart’s research, there was only one E12 sold, 100 E21s, perhaps only four or five E24s, just two E28s (one each for JPS team boss #Frank-Gardner and lead driver Jim Richards), and around 30 E30s. Stewart believes only about 15 E30s, 20 E21s, one E28 and an unknown number of the rest survive today, making them very rare beasts.
It’s thanks to this research and subsequent knowledge of these JPS cars that Stewart was quickly able to discover that his second E21 323i example might be one of the rarest of them all – a 2.7-litre special order version, not fitted with the lazy M20B27 used in other factory BMWs over the years, but a stroker built locally using the 2.3-litre block and fitted with new crankshaft and rods, giving it a totally different character to the factory motor, as well as more power. “We’ve had people look at it and play with it, and almost beyond doubt now, it is one of the three [known] 2.7-litre strokers,” he says. “The fact it’s got the close-ratio 245 dog-leg Getrag and #LSD behind it suggests that it is the big engine. It certainly goes like it is, and when you hear it idle, it’s very cammy and lumpy.”
Having heard the car during the shoot, that’s something we can definitely confirm. And with Stewart revealing one of the three 2.7s was written off in a crash a while back, that makes his – number 47 of the 100 E21s, according to the dash-mounted build plate – possibly one of two.
The rather amusing thing is that, while Stewart’s hard work was responsible for him discovering how rare this car might be, it was just dumb luck that led him to it in the first place. Having sold off his other toys due to the need to downsize his house, he was apparently experiencing “withdrawal symptoms”, and decided to start looking around to see what was available. Lo and behold, this little example appeared on his radar, although it was, by Stewart’s reckoning, rather overpriced at first.
“I saw it advertised for $27,000, rang the bloke and told him he was dreaming. He replied that that was what the car owed him, to which I retorted that what it owes him and what it’s worth are two very different stories indeed! However, I watched it for nine months, and kept in touch. Then one day he asked me what it was worth, which was $10-12,000 tops. After a bit of soul-searching he finally told me he wouldn’t take less than $10,000 for it and I told him I’d see him on Saturday morning! So I flew up to Brisbane, saw it and bought it.”
Obviously neither Stewart nor the previous owner knew at the time that it was likely a 2.7, so clearly Stewart ended up with a bit of a bargain, although its imperfect mechanical condition meant he had to spend quite a lot of time and money ensuring it was back to its former glory. Perhaps oddly, Stewart revealed it didn’t seem too bad on his initial test drive, but once he got it trucked back to Melbourne (a wise decision in retrospect), the full extent of the issues revealed themselves.
“I drove it while I was there and I was impressed by the way it went, but after 2000 kilometres in a car that hadn’t done a lot of work for a while (it had been a sit-around toy) combined with the fact I didn’t know it… it was too far, so I paid for it to come back to my house on a truck. Which is just as well that I did, as it had things like the exhaust system [being] held on with pull-up ties. It was also missing bits in the front suspension and the brake sensors weren’t fitted… silly little bits like that, so it was a good move.”
This all happened back in July last year, and Stewart’s spent all the time until now fixing it up. That meant, on top of sorting the aforementioned urgent issues, Stewart had to replace many items in the engine bay, such as the strut-top caps, as well as order custom-made JPS C-pillar badges as they were missing. To match his high standards, he also had to get all five original wheels restored, replace all four headlight lenses, remove an additional gold pin-stripe that wasn’t meant to be there, put in a new dashboard, get the M1 wheel retrimmed and recover the unique Recaro seats.
This last job proved quite the challenge, as the black side bolster fabric he needed was only used on those seats in period and was no longer in production. However, here again Stewart’s nouse and hard work paid off as many phone calls later, he eventually found out via a Sydney shop that the same material, albeit in green, was used on Holden Commodore SLEs at the time, and due to the Commodore’s enduring popularity, Stewart easily found the fabric and had it dyed black. After getting them done by his friend Ray at Bray Mills Automotive Trimming in Heidelberg in Melbourne’s north east, Stewart says the seat material “worked beautifully”.
Amazingly, despite how good the car looks now as a result of all this work, Stewart’s not done yet. At the time of the shoot, he’d just ordered a new headliner from America as the original one had rust stains in it, and the carpets were nowhere near his usual standards, so he was going to replace those, too.
Indeed, as you might have gathered, Stewart is pretty meticulous about his cars in general. His 2002 and M5 won so many BMW Club of Victoria concours events other members complained there was no point entering their cars – to which he responded “I’m not going to back down – if somebody beats me, they beat me, fair enough, but I’m not going to roll over.”
He also never allows anyone other than he and his wife to sit in his toys with regular outdoor shoes on, and even he and his wife dust their shoes off before getting in. When it came to detailing this car, he says: “It lived up on wheel stands for about three months because I was detailing under the guards.” He also detailed the suspension while he was there and, because it had aftermarket stainless mufflers fitted by a previous owner, Stewart polished those up, too.
All this graft is, perhaps, more evidence that effort, combined with luck, can indeed net you amazing results. As you can see, even in the car’s supposedly incomplete state, it’s a stunner. The sheer gloss Stewart’s managed to achieve with the original paint, and the near flawless finish on the (unfinished) interior all point to how much effort’s gone into it.
Refreshingly, as you can see by the fact he was happy to get the car shot on a dirt road, Stewart isn’t overly precious about using it, either. He plans on taking it out regularly for club events and while there will, no doubt, be times when he’s too busy polishing it to make every meet, he always makes as much of an effort as he can. Because clearly, the rewards are worth it.
“The fact it’s got the close-ratio 245 dog-leg Getrag and LSD behind it suggests that it is the big engine. It certainly goes like it is”
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- Post is under moderationBrightwells June sale #1989 / Z1 / #BMW-Z1 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B27 / #M20 / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E30 / #BMW / SOLD FOR: £ 25,000
It seems like the Z1 has been on the cusp of going up in value for many years now and we’re somewhat surprised that they’ve not attracted investors and collectors in greater numbers. This example had covered just 53,000km (approximately 33k miles) and had a large history folder packed full of receipts and invoices. At £25,000 it looked like good value for money.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationDREAM MACHINE / GOING TO EXTREMES / #BMW-E21-Dreamworks-Car-Tuning / #BMW
Stripped, caged and 2.7-swapped E21 will blow your mind! One of the most amazing E21s we’ve ever come across. Utterly spectacular from top to toe, this Dutch E21 really is something a bit special. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Ron Veth.
There are still cars that can stop us in their tracks, and this E21 is definitely one of them. In terms of visual spectacle, you’d be hard pressed to beat it on any level.
The amount of work that has gone into this car is truly mind-blowing. Based on this, and some of the other Dutch cars we’ve had the pleasure of featuring recently, there’s clearly something in the water in Holland…
It belongs to Marc Joosten, owner of #Dreamworks-Car-Tuning – a real one-stop shop for all your modifying needs.
Dreamworks is able to tackle everything from suspension and exhaust work to bodywork and paint, and this E21 is a mighty fine testament to what Marc and his team can achieve.
“I was inspired by different tuning shops like Foose, Gas Monkey Garage, Kindig-It Customs and so on,” Marc tells us. “And I also wanted to put the ideas that I have in my head down on a car, making it one-of-a-kind because most of the details on our cars are hand-made. My idea of a great modified car is of the ‘less is more’ approach, making it clean and giving it a bigger, bolder look without ruining the lines that make the car popular in the first place.” This is something that Marc has definitely achieved with this E21 because behind the classic DTM-inspired BMW M Warsteiner paintwork this remains unmistakably an E21.
It wasn’t always all about BMWs for Marc, though. “My first car was a Honda Prelude; don’t hate me for it!” he exclaims with a laugh. “It was a nice-handling car. I had a lot of fun with it. After the Honda I fell in love with BMWs because of their aggressive looks, their great engines and their reputation for being so sporty to drive. My first BMW was an E30; I always wanted to have one as, owning a car customising shop, I’ve built a lot of them over the past ten years. I found this E21 on the internet. It was ready for the scrapyard. It was literally falling apart. The bodywork was rotten and it had also failed the Dutch equivalent of the MoT inspection.” You’d be hard pressed to tell any of that now, though, as Marc treated the E21 to a full restoration before completely transforming it.
“I already had in mind the styling I wanted for the E21,” he explains, “although I also went on the internet and looked up some new cool ideas from other car enthusiasts which I then added to the car. Of course, there were several problems along the way but that’s the challenge of building cars. In life you sometimes have to crawl through the mud to get to higher ground and it’s no different with building cars.”
Funnily enough it was actually the work that Marc and his crew did on the engine bays of his other cars that inspired him to take a similar route with the styling of the E21. “When it comes to cool looks I always go for a clean engine bay,” Marc says. “It’s always a lot of work to do but it’s worth it.”
The engine bay here has been tucked and shaved to within an inch of its life and looks insanely clean. Anything that hasn’t been removed has been perfectly integrated and Marc’s attention-to-detail is insane. The brake master cylinder has now been colourcoded in white, as have all the hoses, the radiator top tank, and even the blades on the cooling fan. And then there’s the polishing that’s been going on; the cam cover, oil cap, intake manifold and even the suspension top mount covers have all been polished to perfection. The panels that cover the back of the headlights are actually stock E21 items but here they’ve been colour-coded to blend in perfectly with the rest of the engine bay and as a result look custom. The electrical wiring had to be made longer in order to be routed out of sight. You could happily spend hours just staring at the sheer bright whiteness of it all. Unsurprisingly, it’s Marc’s favourite mod on the car. “I think it’s the ultimate thing to do on a show car,” he says. “Anybody can put wheels, suspension and an exhaust on a car but there are only a few people that go all the way with their love for cars (and their craftsmanship) to do the ultimate modifications. This separates the wannabes from the professionals.”
At first glance, the engine itself might not look like anything particularly special (insanely polished intake manifold aside) but there’s more to it than meets the eye. “The engine is a 2.7 Eta from an E28 525e,” explains Marc. “After restoring it we added a Schrick camshaft, an M20B25 head and fuel injection. We also fitted a performance air intake and a tubular exhaust manifold.” The latter looks particularly sexy nestling in the white expanse of the engine bay. The whole lot is finished off with a custom RVS exhaust system that culminates in a pair of up-angled polished pipes that extend past the rear bumper.
With such a ridiculously clean bay it was only right that the rest of the E21 was given a similar treatment. The rubbing strips have been removed from the wings and doors, the locks and badges have been removed and smoothed, and the chrome has been replaced with Shadowline trim. Up front smoked E30 headlights have been fitted, along with smoked indicator lenses and a black kidney grille. You’ll also spot a single wiper conversion, too.
Then there’s the rear panel which is so clean you could eat your dinner off it. The grille section between the rear lights has been removed and the whole section has been completely smoothed, with just the two light clusters left, sitting slightly proud of the bodywork. The front and rear bumpers are custom-made items and they look fantastic on the car, the former with its low, aggressive, angular chin spoiler while the latter is a clean, minimalist design that ties-in perfectly with the smoothed rear section.
The finishing touch was the #Warsteiner DTM colour scheme, made up of the BMW M tricolour stripes painted over a custom shade of white. It really suits this E21, especially with that aggressive front bumper being only a hair’s breadth from the Tarmac, and it looks every inch the classic racer.
Of course, bodywork alone isn’t enough, especially when you’ve got a wild colour scheme to pull off. When it came to the suspension Marc knew, as he’s not an airride fan, that he was going to keep things static with the E21 but just a bit of lowering wasn’t going to be enough for him. As a result, Eibach Sportline springs and shorter Bilstein B6 shocks were drafted in. Together they deliver some seriously aggressive lowering, with Marc carrying out numerous chassis modifications in order to end up with a massive 120mm drop (that’s eight inches) over the standard car! Going so low did result in several problems with wheel clearance but the work required to sort that out was well worth it as the BBS RSs are the perfect partners to go with the whole look of the car.
The wheels measure 9x16” all-round, pretty wide for something of this vintage. On one side the centres have been painted white, while on the other they have been ceramic polished for a dazzling finish. Both pairs of wheels have been topped off with bolts and chunky, polished centre caps.
Considering the amount of work and effort that has gone into the outside and the engine bay, it’s no surprise to find that Marc and the Dreamworks team have done an equally amazing job on the inside, too.
The racing-look Marc opted for really suits the DTM-theme better than any full interior could ever have done. Everything deemed unnecessary, including doorcards, carpets and rear seats, has been removed and the interior was then painted in the same custom white as the exterior. Following this, a highly polished Wiechers aluminium roll-cage was then installed. The upper part of the E21’s dash has been retained, though it’s been given a sporty look with the addition of some white dials plus a quartet of supplementary VDO gauges. There’s a Matrix TypeX steering wheel, a snazzy Alpina gear knob, chequer plate floor protection, and single-piece Recaro seats with four-point harnesses.
It took about a year to go from scrapheap basket case to the car you see before you now, though you’d never know how close it came to meeting an untimely end before Marc rescued it. The amount of work that’s gone into it has been truly immense and it shows in every single aspect of the build. It’s the sort of thing classics BMWs like this deserve, though, and Marc was fortunate enough to be in a position to give it the attention it deserves. When it comes to this E21, it’s fair to say Marc’s living the dream.
“When it comes to cool looks I always go for a clean engine bay”
DATA FILE 2.7 #BMW-E21 / #BMW-325e / #BMW-325e-E21 / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-E21-M20 / #BBS
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.7-litre straight-six #M20B27 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 , shaved and tucked bay with colour-coded and polished components, #Schrick camshaft, M20B25 head, fuel injection and engine management, high-flow air filter, tubular exhaust manifold, RVS custom exhaust system. Fivespeed gearbox, welded diff, #Sachs clutch. 210hp
CHASSIS 9x16” (f&r) #BBS-RS wheels with polished lips, ceramic polished centres (nearside), white centres (offside) and 15mm spacers (rear) with 215/35 (f) and 215/40 (r) Dunlop SP 9000 tyres, #Eibach Sportline springs, shortened #Bilstein B6 shocks, 120mm drop, Opel OPC front #BBK with vented discs
EXTERIOR Custom white respray, #DTM-Warsteiner colour scheme, custom hand-made front spoiler and bumpers, single wiper conversion, Hella smoked E30 headlights, smoked turn signal lenses, all-red rear lights, de-badged, de-locked, rubbing strips removed, bodywork smoothed
INTERIOR Stripped, painted custom white to match bodywork, Wiechers polished aluminium roll-cage, white gauges, #VDO gauges for oil temperature and pressure, water temperature and rev counter, Matrix TypeX steering wheel, Alpina gear knob, Recaro seats, four-point harnesses
THANKS KSC import for hardware, Nico Kunzler for technical support, Ronald Veth for shooting the feature, PBMW for featuring the car and everyone else I forgotStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSTROKE GENIUS HARTGE 2.7-LITRE Z1 Is a Z1 fitted with a Hartge 2.7 a good bet? / #BMW-Z1 / #BMW-Z1-Hartge-2.7 / #BMW-Z1-Hartge / #Hartge / #Hartge-Z1 / #1989 / #Hartge-Z1-2.7 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B27 / #M20
Stroke of Genius. We love the #BMW-Z1 and here’s one that answers the lack of power criticism with a #Hartge 2.7 engine. If you thought the Z1 looked gorgeous and handled brilliantly but was lacking in the power stakes you could always have endowed it with some more urge thanks to a Hartge 2.7 conversion. Words: Adam Towler. Photography: Gus Gregory.
‘Look, that car is driving along with no doors’ – that’s what the assorted traffic cruising on the M40 this morning is thinking, it’s written all over their faces and readily decipherable from a spot of lip reading; confirmed by the camera phones that are being raised as we pull alongside. I could drive this Z1 with the doors ‘up’, of course, but for the sake of novelty it just has to be tried, even if it means a decidedly fresh blast of slipstream air up my left-hand trouser leg. Given the ‘motorway’ speed we’re moving along at that’s hardly surprising, but then this is no ordinary Z1 – as if the word could ever be applied to BMW’s late ‘80s sports car in the first place.
I’ve never driven a Z1 before today, but I’ve certainly been curious ever since my school bus passed a black Z1, parked, usually, en-route to and from school. It was an attractive, exotic sort of machine, and that perception was more than just skin deep. For the time, the Z1 was quite unlike any other car in production.
Said to have been inspired, at least in part, by comments from a journalist made to then-BMW chairman Eberhard von Kuenheim, the Z1 (Z for ‘zukunft’ meaning ‘future’) project was expedited by Wolfgang Reitzle, the famous head of BMW R&D in the 1980s and who would later go on to head up the Premier Automotive Group at Ford, before exiting the industry under something of a cloud.
The car was first seen in concept guise during 1986, and was built by BMW Technik GmBH as a way of exploring new methods of production. Technik decided to illustrate its new thinking through the medium of the roadster, with another famous name at the helm: Ulrich Bez, later of Porsche and finally CEO at Aston Martin for many years. Production began in 1988, with cars delivered from 1989 - 1991 .
The core of the Z1 is a galvanised steel monocoque, with notably high sills and an additional tubular frame that runs up the A pillars, increasing the rigidity of the structure. The floor is a sandwich of GRP and foam, bonded and bolted into place. This has three advantages: it’s strong, it won’t rust and it provides a ready-made smooth underfloor to the benefit of aerodynamics. In fact, #BMW maximised this feature by exiting the air over an aerodynamic rear silencer and gap in the rear valance, thereby negating the need for a fixed rear spoiler.
The actual body you see, the skin if you like, is not in any way structural. It’s made from a mixture of Xenoy thermoplastic (the front, rear and side panels) and an epoxy glassfibre for the bootlid, roof cover and the bonnet. A special painting process was developed to maintain the required quality of finish on the panels. As for those iconic doors, they disappear down into the sills, and are operated by a push button in the rear panel from outside the car, and by pulling the door handle from inside in the normal fashion: it’s an odd feeling to do this for the first time and watch the door automatically drop rather than swing outwards.
It wasn’t just the construction of the Z1 that was ground breaking; it actually contained a very forwardlooking mechanical layout that still has ramifications for today. Although the car is based heavily on the E30 325i of the same period, the inline ‘six’ was moved back within the wheel base and sits behind the front axle line, giving the car the near 50:50 weight distribution once so heavily marketed by BMW. The McPherson struts of a regular #BMW-E30 are used on the front axle, but the Z1’s other major innovation was the introduction of the so-called ‘Z-axle’ rear, a form of more advanced multi-link suspension that would transform the stability and handling of the forthcoming E36 3 Series that the Z1 pre-dated.
What of that sonorous 2.5-litre engine? In standard form it cranks out 170hp, which although sounds faintly quaint by modern standards, it looks altogether more promising when you consider the diminutive proportions of the Z1. That is until you look up the kerbweight, and notice that at 1250kg, it’s 105kg heavier than a 325i. That may only be the weight of a very rotund passenger, but when your power-to-weight ratio is constructed more from a lack of mass than outright horsepower, these numbers matter. Correspondingly, the Z1’s performance stats were impressive, but hardly scorching for a car that promised so much in the handling stakes. Michael Scarlett, writing in Fast Lane magazine during December 1988, commented that: “It’s an exhilarating performer without being quite as quick as such a secure and responsive chassis deserves”.
That’s where the car I’m due to drive today comes in. It’s parked to the rear of Birds Garage when I arrive, accessed by a stroll through a showroom full of nearly new BMWs of various descriptions. Next to them, the Z1 appears tiny, and in its resolutely dour and functional Urgrün Metallic paint it makes a completely different sort of impression. The design is very much of its time, but particularly attractive if you can appreciate the proportions, the restraint in the details and the precise nature of what styling flourishes there are. It’s especially successful at including the BMW kidney grille into a low-slung sports car shape, while the treatment at the rear of the car is redolent of the E36 3 Series. Talking of low slung, its meagre stature and the provision to drop the doors vertically was apparently inspired by Reitzle’s fond memories of his uncle’s Triumph TR6, where a cigarette end could be stubbed out on the road when pulled up at some traffic lights because the car was so low to the ground.
‘H5 KWR’ is for sale at Birds when I drive it, but has subsequently sold by the time this story will reach print. What makes it even more special than the other 25 Urgrün Z1s imported into the UK, out of a total UK allocation of 85 cars, is that it features a Hartge 2.7- litre conversion. The increase in displacement has been achieved by lengthening the stroke of the ‘six’ from 75mm to 81mm, with a bore size unchanged at 84mm. So configured, the total capacity is 2693cc, and by then shaving some material from the cylinder head the compression ratio has been taken from 8.8:1 to 9.7:1. Together with a remapping of the ECU, the peak power output jumps to 205hp (at 6100rpm instead of the 5800rpm peak in the standard car), with torque rising from 164lb ft at 4300rpm to 189lb ft at a slightly lower 4000rpm. Both figures make for exciting reading on paper, so I’m very keen to see how that will translate on the road.
Before I thumb that incongruous door-opening button, there’s just one more thing to consider: price. The Z1 was always a very expensive car, retailing in Germany for around £26,000 once production started flowing. Opting for the Hartge engine meant forking out another £5201.39, including fitting, to Birds Garage, then based in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. As a comparison, this would take the list price well beyond that of a new entry-level Porsche 911 of the period. Modifications didn’t end there either, with a full Hartge conversion – including wheels, body modifications and all the other usual tuner items – costing £11,500.
The driver’s door falls down with a chuntering sound that doesn’t match the visual sophistication of the operation. It takes a bit more effort to climb in over the high sill, but once inside it strikes a nice balance between being a cosy sports car and not cramped. I take a look around the cabin and smile, because everything has that late-‘80s west German look and feel to it that as enthusiasts always raises a smile. For a sports car – a concept sports car brought to life at that – it is unerringly pragmatic, with a simple dial pack straight ahead and the familiar BMW switchgear of the time grouped closely together on a small central panel. The leather bucket-style seats have a curious ‘camo’ effect on their darker sections, which looks more like the sort of material you might find on a ladies winter jacket of the period, complete with chunky shoulder pads. The pre-airbag steering wheel is another Bauhaus-like example of simplicity, with a very small central boss: it’s a bit too much of a reach away for me, but fairly comfortable nonetheless.
The hood has already been lowered; it was simple enough, requiring manual unlatching from the header rail and then folding underneath the panel behind the occupants’ heads. The M20 engine fires up with a fabulously organic rasp and rumble, and I’ve already decided I’m going to enjoy this car a great deal. You don’t get that sort of noise from a modern, lowpressure turbocharged four-cylinder engine, after all.
The Hartge Z1 is very easy to drive around in slowly. The assisted steering requires no real effort, although at 3.9-turns lock-to-lock there’s a reasonable amount of arm-twirling to be done. The star so far is the gearbox, which again easily trumps anything modern in the way you can feel one cog giving way to the next. Maybe it’s the 24 years that have passed since it left the factory, grinding it down to smoothed perfection, but it’s just so nice to swap gears, often purely for the sake of it. Why can’t modern cars get these details so right?
It’s the combination of the engine and ‘box that preoccupy the initial attention, the car snapping forward under hard acceleration but hardly forcing my torso back into the seat. But as soon as I’ve dropped the doors then it’s these that take over. It reminds me of those post office Sherpa vans you’d once see: hurtling around with the bare legs of a shorts-wearing postie pumping the pedals with the sliding door always swept back in the open position. If that sounds as though the feeling is one of being exposed in the Z1 then that’s only half true, for me, because the high sills mean you don’t feel as on show as you might, but the sudden blast of cold air confirms this is much more than simply dropping the side windows.
There’s no structural downside to driving along like this, and not only does it garner plenty of kerbside attention, it also brings you closer to the sensations of driving – like you might get from a two-wheeled device. The Z1 turns out to be a smooth character. Predictably it’s much softer in setup and character than a more recent BMW roadster, which gives it a relaxed way of approaching a decent road. The steering response is a little slow, but that works with rather than against the initial roll rate, and once you have the car pointed into a corner it does feel very composed. The ‘six’ has a lusty response to the pedal, and a really invigorating soundtrack when wound out, although would I feel it was fast enough if I’d just dropped over five grand on it (bearing in mind five grand was a considerable sum 24 years ago)?
That I’m not completely convinced by, but then I think that same sentiment applies to the whole Z1 package. It’s a car from the left-field, so there’s not a great deal of point in comparing it with any rival, either at the time or now with our ‘classic’ spectacles on. It does what it does; looks like nothing else, and dishes up a drive that gets more enjoyable the more you experience it.
While we don’t have the weather today to truly maximise those sensations, it seems obvious to me that the Z1 is an esoteric sort of experience – a car that appeals to someone who thinks deeply about the package of talents it offers, and what it represents, and simply wants one. If the only real Achilles’ heel of the Z1 was its lack of outright performance, then this Hartge conversion neatly slays that criticism in one lunge of acceleration – doors open or closed.
Thanks to: The car’s owner and Gordon Ince at Birds Garage – www.birdsgarage.co.uk or 01753 657442 – this car has now sold, but contact Birds for any enquiries on other stock.
EVERYTHING HAS THAT LATE-’80S WEST GERMAN LOOK AND FEEL TO IT THAT AS ENTHUSIASTS ALWAYS RAISES A SMILE
THE M20 ENGINE FIRES UP WITH A FABULOUSLY ORGANIC RASP AND RUMBLE. I’M GOING TO ENJOY THIS CAR A GREAT DEAL
IT’S AN ODD FEELING TO WATCH THE DOOR AUTOMATICALLY DROP RATHER THAN SWING OUTWARDSStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationClassic Alpina Superb #BMW E30 C2 2.7 fully-restored by #Alpina-GB . Vitamin C A glorious E30 Alpina C2 2.7 fully restored by Alpina GB. Top dog in the non-M E30 line-up was the sublime Alpina C2 2.7 and this glorious example that has been painstakingly restored by Alpina GB must be one of the best in the world. Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.
There’s something about the E30 that’s just so right – it’s one of the icons of BMW’s past and it seems almost impossible that it’s now nigh-on 23 years since the last examples rolled off the production line. No BMW fan worth their salt can argue against it being a turning point for the company – it moved the game on significantly from the E21 and became a virtual blueprint for what we expect of a modern era BMW. Back in the mid- to late-’80s it was the darling of the red-braced, Filofax-clutching, oversized mobile phone wielding yuppie, but even this didn’t seem to put folk off yearning to own one.
No matter which version you’re talking about the E30 has an intrinsic quality that flows from its every pore; from the way the electric window switches operate to the silky smooth steering column stalks, it exudes a wonderfully engineered feel. Each and every one of the major controls, from the clutch to the brake pedal to the well-balanced throttle to the steering, all have that same engineered feel and operate as if they are perfectly lubricated. As an exercise in tactility the E30 is just about perfect.
Over the years the E30 has also become the darling of the modified BMW enthusiast and just about every BMW engine you care to name, from the humble M50 through to the more exotic S50 to the outrageous S85 V10, has found its way under the car’s delicately sculpted bonnets with varying degrees of success. These days, though, the E30 is also being dragged by its rusty scuttle panel into the realm of the classic car world. And with good reason. It doesn’t matter which version you covet, two- or four-door, Convertible or Touring, they’re all sublime machines and have a strong following these days. Obviously the bonkers nature of the classic car bubble has made the motorsport icon that is the E30 M3 into an obscenely overpriced irrelevance for all but the very well-heeled or those who were lucky enough to hold onto them when they were just a secondhand 3 Series but there are still plenty of other E30s worth coveting.
If you’ve not had a look at used values of E30s recently then you could be in for a bit of a shock when you go looking, as they’re definitely on an upward spiral with the larger-engined machinery now fetching pretty good money. While you’d have thought that the ultimate E30 is the M3, many actually prefer the way the six-cylinder cars drive, with their torquey six-cylinder engines providing a less frenetic experience than the all-or-nothing S14 in the M3 which doesn’t really do all that much below 4000rpm. Fine for when you’re chasing apices, but less relaxing when you’re simply cruising. And of the six-cylinder variants it’s the Alpina models that are perhaps the most coveted. After all, BMW made thousands and thousands of 325is but Alpina only made a few of its take on the ultimate E30.
But which one of Alpina’s E30s was the best? Its model line-up ranged from the C1 2.3, through the C2 models to the larger-engine B6 2.8- and 3.5-litre examples, with the ultimate incarnation perhaps being the B6 3.5S based on the E30 M3 and packing 260hp of straight-six goodness. That latter car is ultrarare though – just 62 were built – and all were lefthand drive. A better bet would be one of the less extreme models – still desirable, made in small numbers, and perhaps most crucially, offering something a little extra in the way of performance than what was available at the time from BMW itself. While the Alpina 2.3- and 2.5-litre machines were pretty decent they didn’t offer a huge amount over the 323i or 325i so in the middle ground of the Alpina E30 range are the 2.7-litre machines, initially badged as C2s in both Germany and the UK before the German market machines took on the B3 moniker in the latter part of 1987.
No matter which version of the C2 (or B3) 2.7 you talk about, all shared the same basic engine architecture using BMW’s small-block six-cylinder M20 engine as a base. The block used was the same as the 2.7-litre ‘eta’ engine used in the E28 525e which shared the 325i’s 84mm bore but had a longer stroke at 81mm, but the magic came from Alpina specific changes such as Mahle pistons and a reworked head, along with a tubular manifold and a reprogrammed Motronic system. These extensive revisions completely changed the character of the unit from the low-powered, torque-rich eta to a much higher-revving sporting unit. Power was up to 210hp at 5800rpm while torque was rated at 197lb ft at 4500rpm – gains of roughly 25 and 20 per cent respectively over a contemporary 325i. Alpina claimed a 0-62mph time of 6.9 seconds which looks to be just about spot on as Autocar tested the first UK example built and found its 0-60mph time to be 6.6 seconds.
Interestingly the example tested by Autocar was actually the very first C2 2.7 produced, lovingly assembled by Alpina GB’s technicians from parts supplied by Alpina in Buchloe. Naturally enough the transformation to full C2 2.7-spec involved more than just an engine swap, with the new car receiving specially tuned springs, Bilstein dampers, a limited-slip differential and Alpina’s aerodynamic addenda. There were the trademark 20-spoke 16-inch alloys – initially seven inches wide all-round, but as on the example we have here today a staggered set was generally fitted with wider eight-inch rears. Inside there was an Alpina steering wheel and wooden gear knob and the production plaque but after that it was up to the individual customer to decide how far they wanted to go with their interior embellishments.
So what about the stunning example you can see here? It’s one of the UK-built examples produced at Sytner Nottingham, home of Alpina GB, and was built when it was new by its top technician, Mark Adkin, who assembled the best part of 250 Alpinas during his tenure there between 1983-1989. This particular C2 must now be one of the best in the world as it’s been subject to a full restoration and is absolutely gorgeous. Having been brought up on this generation of machinery when I worked in the dealer network back in the late 1980s this C2 brings the memories flooding back and I’m almost expecting that new car smell when I unlock the driver’s door and slip into the cockpit. It’s not actually that far off – thanks to the recently trimmed leather cockpit – and twisting the key and hearing the straight-six erupting into life with its familiar burble keeps me firmly planted in the 1980s. But before we get onto how this remarkable example drives we should really have a quick look at its journey towards being one of the finest C2s on the planet.
It’s probably fair to say the story started almost two years ago when Alpina GB recreated an E21 (the first generation 3 Series) C1 2.3 which attracted a huge amount of interest, not only from marque fans but from paying customers, too, with Alpina turning down some pretty substantial offers for the car. With the continued growth of the classic car market the folk at Alpina wondered whether there was actually a business case for buying older Alpinas in need of refurbishment, restoring them back to as-new condition and then selling them, and the C2 was the first of these projects. And the icing on the cake was that Alpina managed to secure the services of its former employee, Mark Adkin, who had originally built the cars when they were new. Who better to restore a 1980s UK-built Alpina that the man who had originally created the car?
Since he left Alpina Mark has been involved in many automotive projects, from working for Porsche to restoring super-rare rally cars of the 1980s to building F3 engines, so he really was the ideal person to tackle the restoration. Once the car had been sourced Mark set about stripping it down in Alpina GB’s workshops and despite the reputation the E30 has garnered for being a little rust prone he was amazed at the overall condition of the shell, as he explains: “It was very good with virtually no rust – it just needed a little bit of welding around the front jacking points, which is a common place for E30s to rust. The rest of the car was absolutely fantastic. We did a full strip on it, everything came off – engine, gearbox, all the brake pipes, all the fuel pipes, fuel tank – everything was taken off it and I undersealed it all and put it back to what it should be. It was absolutely immaculate. I was rather surprised quite how good it was – one of the best ones I’ve seen.”
Part of the reason for its excellent overall condition was its low mileage – it was still showing less than 70k miles when we tested it – and the fact that it had been dry stored since 1998. Quite often when taking on this sort of restoration one can find that parts availability is a problem but Mark was able to source everything he needed from BMW – including new brake pipes that he painstakingly bent and fitted (they come from BMW in straight lengths), but he was adamant about using OE parts as he reckoned that if you make them yourself they never look original or quite right. Just about the only part he was concerned about was the tubular exhaust manifold, as Mark explains: “I think the only thing we were worried about was the exhaust manifold as they’re like finding hen’s teeth new these days but this one was in reasonable condition so we sent it away to a company called Zircotec. I’ve used it several times in the past for coating and it does a brilliant job. The coating keeps 50 per cent more heat inside the manifold so you get less heat in the engine bay, too.”
Mark was expecting to need to rebuild the engine, but when he took it out and inspected it he was amazed by its condition: “I had a look inside the engine when I got that out and it looked perfect. It was the same with the camshaft; the compressions on it were good and the cylinder leakage test on it was unbelievable. I think the worst was six per cent out, which is fine – especially when you consider you expect four to six per cent on a new engine!”
Naturally enough Mark completely refreshed the suspension with new springs, Bilstein dampers and new bushes where required, the steering rack was checked and thoroughly cleaned, the propshaft was removed and sent for specialist examination and returned with a clean bill of health… by now you should be getting the picture that if it could be removed and checked it was! The brakes also came in for attention. “I took the callipers off, totally stripped them down, put them in a blaster, cleaned up the pistons, fitted new seals and they’re now absolutely like brand-new… basically it’s a brand-new car, or as good as you’re going to get!” Mark says with a grin. As I mentioned earlier the interior has also been given a refresh; air conditioning has been retrofitted and the leather has been redone, too. Mark explains how this happened back in the day: “The basic car that arrived with us was just a bog-standard, steelwheeled, standard suspension, plastic steering wheeled, cloth interiored 325i. If the customer wanted the Alpina interior we had a local guy who used to do the retrimming for us – he actually did the interior on this car even though he’s semi-retired now. He did it when it was new and has now done it again for us, which is a nice touch. Basically whatever the customer wanted we built it for them so virtually every one I built was slightly different.”
Other nice touches in the interior are the dials which now sport red needles. Mark fills us in on the background of this: “The painted needles on the dials were an optional extra – the customer could basically choose to have them or not. From what I can remember when the very first M3 came out Frank [Sytner] saw it and said, ‘oh, they’re got red needles; why don’t we paint ours red?’ We put the Alpina lettering on all of the dials and then if the customer wanted the needles painting red then I’d do that as well, stripping the dashboard down. It took about a day to do that. The worst thing was that if you didn’t let the paint dry properly before building it back up the speedo used to stick on the bottom stop. You’d be driving down the road registering zero miles per hour until you got to about 40mph when all of a sudden it would jump up! You had to be absolutely certain it was completely dry before building it back up and if you put too much paint on again it would affect it, with the speedo reading too low so you had to be very precise when painting those needles!”
From talking to Mark it’s clear that this C2 has had a significant amount of time, love and affection – not to mention money – thrown at it over a seven or eight month period and it didn’t take long for it to find a new owner. A customer who was actually looking at buying a new car popped into the showroom and virtually bought it on the spot! Kindly he’s returned it to allow us to have a drive in it and as I mosey out of Sytner’s Nottingham HQ I think I’m actually more nervous about damaging this machine then virtually any other new BMW or Alpina I’ve driven recently. In the event I really shouldn’t have worried as the car is so easy and enjoyable to drive. The clutch bite point is perfect, the throttle response is silky smooth and the brake pedal has plenty of feel and just the right amount of travel. And, of course, compared to a modern car the E30 feels absolutely tiny so you always feel like there’s plenty of space around it.
Threading it through traffic out of Nottingham is a joy and as confidence grows you almost start wanting to dive into gaps left by slower moving traffic – it just feels so wieldy and taut in its responses. Fortunately it doesn’t take long to get out of the city centre and as soon as I’m on more flowing, less congested country roads the C2 really comes into its own.
The whole car feels completely solid as if it’s been hewn from a single piece of steel and finely honed, and now I can use a few more revs and explore the performance it’s easy to see why the motoring press of the day generally raved about the C2. Rapid progress is easily made without breaking into a sweat – there’s plenty of torque from the enlarged M20 unit and the engine feels hugely flexible and unburstable. Floor it at 60mph in fifth and it accelerates rather briskly thanks to its excellent spread of torque. Drop it down a cog or two and it really flies, and bearing in mind that as this machine is someone else’s pride and joy I was by no means using all the revs either.
It’s not all about the car’s straight line go though as the chassis feels wonderfully balanced and seems to have perfect poise. On some pretty undulating and bumpy straights the suspension absorbs everything you can throw at it, even when the speed picks up, and compared to today’s stiffly-sprung BMWs there’s real compliance here, leading to an excellent ride quality yet without feeling soggy or under-damped. Add some faster sweeping corners into the mix and it again feels perfectly planted with just the right combination of body roll and grip. And while the standard E30 rack does call for a fair amount of arm twirling in the tighter corners you’re never in any doubt as to what the front wheels are doing thanks to the feelsome mechanical rack.
In short it feels wonderful. Yes, I’m sure you’d be travelling much faster and far more economically in a 120d but you’ll be having much more fun in the Alpina, and with a classic it’s not about the speed but the enjoyment. And there are few more joyous ways of spending a day than punting around the Nottinghamshire back roads in this C2 2.7 – it’s a testament to the car’s original design and the man that both built and rebuilt it. Find another and we’re pretty sure he’d do it all again…
A new Alpina exhaust came with the car and sounds absolutely glorious; period decals look wonderful.
“Basically it’s a brand-new car, or as good as you’re going to get!”
TECH DATA #1988 #BMW-E30 / #Alpina-C2-2.7 / #Alpina-C2-2.7-E30 / #Alpina-C2-E30 / #Alpina-E30 / #BMW-Alpina-C2-2.7 / #BMW-Alpina-C2-2.7-E30 / #BMW-E30-Alpina / #BMW-Alpina / #Alpina / #Alpina-C2
ENGINE: #M20 Six-cylinder, SOHC 12-valve / #BMW-M20 / #M20B27 / #M20-Alpina
MAX POWER: 210hp @ 5800rpm
MAX TORQUE: 213lb ft @ 4500rpm
0-62MPH: 6.9 seconds
TOP SPEED: 143mph
ECONOMY: Approx 22mpg
PRICE: £27,000 (1988)
There’s plenty of torque from the enlarged M20 unit and the engine feels hugely flexible and unburstable.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationEVERY CLOUD… #BMW-525e / #BMW-525e-E28 / #BMW-E28 / #BMW /
This show-stopping E28 has gone from rags to riches. Words: Josh Wilson. Sometimes your dream purchase can turn out to be a bit of a nightmare. Fortunately, a bit of TLC can make all the difference, as this sexy E28 demonstrates. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.
“Something about the lines and old-school styling grabbed my attention right away”
Finding the right car for pouring our hard earned wages into can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to vintage chassis. Scouring for sale ads, dealing with sellers and getting all the details can be a bit of a chore but at some point we reach the rewarding conclusion and find ‘the one’. For some we get exactly what was expected in our newly purchased project car but others, like Rob Amason, find themselves desperately seeking a silver lining when a purchase tailspins into a downward spiral. In 2011, Rob began the search for his next project after migrating from the Volkswagen scene to the BMW community. Originally Rob was set on an elegant white five-speed E34 but during the search came across a well-maintained E28 and thoughts of owning an E34 became a distant memory.
“Something about the lines and old-school styling grabbed my attention right away,” he explained. “I immediately started daydreaming about the possibilities of what the car could become.”
Once Rob had made contact with the owner he quickly realised that he was speaking to a devoted BMW enthusiast who had decided to let go of his E28 as he had moved to newer models. Even though the owner was keen to sell the car he didn’t want to sell it to just anyone. He had found it sitting under a tree years ago and nursed it back to health and the thought of some young kid buying the car and just hacking it up made him cringe.
So in the end, it took Rob two months of trading emails and calls trying to coax the owner to sell the E28. His persistence finally paid off, though, and he became the owner of what he thought would be the perfect base for his build. But after his E28 rolled off of the car hauler fresh from California, Rob found himself with a car that wasn’t in the condition that the previous owner had stated.
He quickly noticed that the respray lacked quality, the interior had more wear than the pictures revealed and the Style 5s that came with the car were beyond saving due to being chipped and kerbed. The beginning of his build had begun with heartbreak but then came the silver lining: under the cheap paint was a body that was completely rust-free. Even the floor was intact.
The exterior of this classic looking E28 has been kept clean, showcasing its timeless body lines. Rob carried out a full respray in the original Royal Blau that this car would have come off the production line with back in 1988. He also did us all a favour by tossing the original US-spec bumpers in the dumpster and replacing them with European-spec items, which we think help massively clean up the look of not just this but all older BMWs. Other accents like Euro headlamps, Euro grilles and Euro all-red tail lamps were added to complete the look.
Next on Rob’s ‘to-do’ list was the interior as he wasn’t a fan of the original pearl beige and black interior. The car was completely gutted with the help of Will Villegas – a fellow enthusiast. Recaro Evo 8 front seats and a rear seat from an M5 now reside inside his E28 which have been completely reupholstered along with the doorcards, handles and gear gaiter. Custom upholstery seems to be hard to pull off in vintage BMWs but Rob has managed to give the interior a fresh look while still keeping the overall feel of the car the same, a seemingly simple task that is rarely accomplished as well as this.
The biggest challenge for Rob to tackle was the air suspension. Today, finding an air setup for older BMWs is a pretty simple task but back in 2011 before the air suspension explosion it was not so easy. The only E28 on air at this time, in the States at least, was the infamous Rusty which was built by Mike Burroughs who has graced these very pages.
Knowing that Mike’s setup was a one-off setup, Rob enlisted the expertise of Drew Dorbritz from Dorbritz Design in Texas. Rob and Drew sat down and brainstormed what they hoped to accomplish and also what options existed out there to use as a base. Once they had done the groundwork, they worked alongside performance air suspension specialist Air Lift to create a setup with a balance of form and function.
This pioneering work would also serve as a roadmap for future E28 and E30 owners looking to do similar modifications. As you can imagine, in order to get an E28 with its control arms sitting on the pavement it was necessary to carry out some fabrication work, mainly due to the stock spindles and struts. However, despite the low ride height no modifications to the E28’s body was required, leaving the elegant lines unmolested. To manage the Air Lift suspension, Rob went with Accuair’s eLevel Air Management which is tucked away – adding to the car’s clean composition.
Speaking of being tucked away, Rob has been through a multitude of wheels with this E28 but currently the BMW is sitting on a set of chrome Rotiform SJC Race wheels. These fill the arches nicely as they measure 9x17” in each corner. Peeking out behind those eye-grabbing Rotiforms is a custom Futura Design Big Brake Kit up front with E32 750iL brakes helping out in the rear.
Even with all the upgrades to the suspension, interior, and drivetrain Rob still loves the fact that this E28 still has that oldschool feel. “I love all the quirky little things that come with being the caretaker of an antique class car,” he told us with a big smile. “The fact that sometimes I have to give the dash a gentle tap to get the lights to turn on or that in cold weather I have to allow the car to warm up a bit before getting on the road doesn’t matter at all.
That’s what I like about it! It has real character. I even love the smell of the interior… it’s a scent that only a 26-year-old car can give you.” We agree, it’s an encompassing experience that carmakers can only dream to achieve with their modern offerings. It’s a shame that some will never experience it as they don’t see it as character, rather it’s an inconvenience. It’s been a three-year love affair for Rob and his beautiful #1988 E28, a journey that began with its troubles but has resulted in a resurrection of a beloved chassis with an elegant aura. For Rob, though, it has been more than just building and restoring this E28 as he’s made some good friends through his hobby. “Thankfully this build has helped introduce into my life a great number of relationships that I normally wouldn’t have had the opportunity to enjoy,” he said. “And while I built this car with a specific vision in mind, it was also with determination that I wanted to build something that was a true reflection of who I am as a person and something that everyone could appreciate. There is never an instance where everyone will be satisfied with what you’ve done but when I take account the relationships that have been forged over this build, the best trophy of all as been the friendships I’ve made.”
ENGINE: 2.7-litre straight-six #M20B27 / #M20 / #BMW-M20 , upgraded head with 885 casting and dual-valve springs, upgraded camshaft, upgraded intake and exhaust valves, upgraded harness and ECU to 173 #Bosch-Motronic with performance chip, powdercoated intake manifold and valve cover, fully polished and upgraded throttle body.
CHASSIS: 9x17” ET10 (front and rear) #Rotiform / #Rotiform-SJC Race wheels with 3” lips and Falken Ziex tyres. #Air-Lift-Universal-Double-Bellow bag with air strut (front), #Air-Lift Universal Sleeve Bag air strut (rear), #AccuAir #eLevel air management system with rocker control, Dual polished tanks with hardlines in custom trunk enclosure, Dual chrome #Viar silent compressors, custom #Futura-Design Big Brake Kit with two-piece discs with anodised blue hats, calipers powdercoated in #Alpine white with blue logos (front), drilled and grooved discs (front), stainless brake hoses (front), new master cylinder, rear brakes upgraded to E32 750iL brakes.
EXTERIOR: Full European conversion comprising Euro front and rear bumpers, Euro headlamps, front Euro grill, rear Euro all-red tail lamps.
INTERIOR: Custom Recaro Evo 8s (front), custom M5 rear seats, custom doorcards, handles and gear gaiter, NRG quick release steering wheel hub and adapter, NRG Wood grain steering wheel and matching gear knob.
AUDIO: #Sony GS Series Audio with XS-GS1720 and XSGS1720S speakers, 12” XS-GS120LD DVC subwoofer, XM-GS400 4/3/2 channel amplifier, XM-GS100 Class D subwoofer amplifier, MEX-BT4100P Bluetooth receiver with Pandora, custom sub and amp enclosure built by German Audio Specialists.
THANKS: First and foremost, I’d like to thank my sons who’ve spent their fair share of hours handing me wrenches, cleaning parts and pushing it in and out of the garage when it wasn’t running. Those friends that took time from their own busy schedules to turn a wrench here and there in exchange for beer and laughter: Will Villegas, Greg Strube, Drew Dorbritz and Team16NiSS. My supports: Meguiars, Futura Designs, German Audio Specialists, Sony Audio, #UndergroundGrfx , Accuair , Kustomz Unlimited and Dorbitz Designs Kustom Shoppe. Special thanks to Courtney Cutchen for the photography work, Josh Wilson for the literary work and CAtuned for the opportunity.
Custom Futura Design BBK sits behind 9x17” Rotiform SJC Race wheels, which tuck perfectly when aired-out.
Easily one of the shiniest air-ride boot builds we’ve seen, with polished hardpipes galore, and it’s immaculate.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBMW E30 M3 vs 333i vs 325iS Three of the Best #M30 #M20 #S14
We pitch the South African 333i and 325iS Evolution against an M3 for an E30 battle. Everyone loves E30s and this triumvirate must rate as three of the most desirable of the breed. The iconic M3 goes head-to-head with the South African-only 333i and 325iS Evolution Words: Johann Venter. Photography: Oliver Hirtenfelder.
So finally the day has come where we can measure up these legendary box-shaped beauties. This has to be one of the BMW showdowns of the century and who would have thought it would happen under African skies?
In the left corner we have the two contenders, the E30 333i and the #E30 325iS Evolution. The 333i is painted in Aero silver and weighs in at 1256kg. It develops 197hp (145kW) at 5500rpm and has a maximum torque of 210lb ft (285Nm) at 4300rpm. The 325iS is painted in Ice white and weighs1147kg. It develops 210hp (155kW) at 5920rpm, and has a maximum torque of 195lb ft (265Nm) at 4040rpm. In the right corner the reigning world champion, the E30 M3, is painted in Lachs silver and weighs in (from new) at 1200kg and develops 200hp (140kW) at 6750rpm and has a maximum torque of 177lb ft (238Nm) at 4750rpm.
Today is going to be a brawler; we are out in the west of the province of Gauteng approximately 40 kilometres outside of Johannesburg at the Delportan Hill in Krugersdorp which has been a popular hillclimb venue since the ‘60s. We are in ‘Cradle’ country not too far off from here are the Sterkfontein Caves – a World Heritage Site where ‘Mrs Ples’, a 2.1-millionyear- old skull, and ‘Little Foot’, an almost complete skeleton that’s three-million-years-old were found.
According to some it’s the birth place of humanity, giving rise to the name Cradle of Humankind, but enough of that, let’s get back to the job at hand. To appreciate the significance of the E30 3 Series in South Africa we need to take a step back and understand the relevance of this model in South African car culture.
The E30 with its three-box outline can trace its DNA back directly to the 2002 which was an integral part of the Neue Klasse, which followed the Bauhaus design philosophy that lasted for 40 years within BMW; with a distinguished sculpted shoulder-line, airy glass-house cabin, slender roof-lines and minimalistic cockpit. This was carried over to the E21 3 Series and is firmly rooted into the E30 3 Series. Sadly, though, the 2002 was never manufactured in South Africa and imported in rather small numbers. Worse still is the fact that the E21 was never officially imported. South Africans were therefore starved of a compact sporting BMW saloon until 1982 when the Rosslyn plant starting producing the E30 3 Series, which has resulted in an absolute cult following of the model this far south of the equator.
This immaculate Aero silver example of the 333i, with just 90,000km on the clock, happens to be the nicest of the four colours in which they were offered. The other colours included Diamond black, Henna red and Ice white. This is number 103 of the 204 that were sold in South Africa between 1985 and 1987, a total of 210 were produced including prototypes and test mules. It cost R41,300 (£16,312) when new in 1985.
This car is no stranger to BMW Car’s pages and was featured in the January 2013 edition – complied by the then deputy editor Sebastian de Latour who was fortunate enough to pilot this rarity with me in tow. This car is in fact part of a prodigious BMW collection that was also featured in BMW Car in the August 2013 edition.
Vic Doolan and Bernd Pischetsrieder (of BMW South Africa at the time) are credited for the innovation of the 333i. The original intent was to compete in Group One racing but this was never to be as Group One racing was summarily cancelled at the end of the 1985 season – remember the M1 suffered a similar fate.
The concept was pretty straightforward: find one of the biggest engines in the BMW arsenal and cram it into the smallest, lightest body. The engine came from the E23 733i, which was partially chosen for its free-revving characteristics (3.2-litre, in-line, sixcylinder, 12-valve) – producing a maximum power output of 197hp (145kW) at 5500rpm and maximum torque of 210lb ft (285Nm) at 4300rpm.
The development of the 333i was a collaboration between BMW SA, BMW Motorsport and Alpina. Just like with the E23 745i (which was also unique to South Africa, see BMW Car May 2013 edition) an extensive development and testing programme was embarked upon to ensure that the optimum cooling, gearing and noise levels were achieved.
Alpina played a crucial role in the development of the 333i providing the specially developed inlet and exhaust manifolds and plenum chamber, heavy-duty copper cored radiator and various other cast alloy bits. The Bosch L-Jetronic fuel management system was revised accordingly, all of which resulted in a substantially altered torque curve, boosting it substantially in the lower rev range. Alpina also provided the 296mm vented, grooved discs upfront, the suspension was fitted with Bilstein gas dampers with slightly stiffer springs, and it rolled on 16-inch 20-spoke Alpina alloys. The 333i was fitted with a dog-leg close-ratio Getrag ‘box and 25 per cent ZF limited-slip diff.
On the inside the most distinguishing Alpina component is the digital display pod mounted on the right central vent. It shows engine and rear diff oil temperatures, the engine oil pressure and manifold vacuum readings. The instrument cluster is also provided by Alpina with a speedo reading of up to 270km/h, with red needles normally reserved for M cars. The interior is rounded off with Sport leather seats, leather-covered Sport steering and a gear lever marked with the M tricolour stripe.
The exterior is rather attractive in that ‘80s kind of way, with integrated aero appendages which include a deep front spoiler, side skirts, a sweeping lip at the rear, and a black boot spoiler finishing it off. Owners had a choice between air-con and powersteering but could not have both as there wasn’t sufficient room under the bonnet. Telling them apart is easy: on air-conditioned cars the foglamps are absent, creating apertures that feed air to the condenser unit.
Just as South Africans were getting used to the idea of having fast compact Bavarian saloons around we were dealt a blow – the E30 M3 would not be coming our way as it was only produced in left-hand drive. That did not mean that the local motorsport scene would cease to exist. On the contrary and if #BMW-SA wanted to remain competitive it would have to develop its own track specials. So let’s try to get behind the myth that is the 325iS in order to decipher the legend.
The year 1985 saw the introduction of one of the most fiercely contested race series in South Africa, Group N for production cars. To remain competitive in 1986 BMW introduced the 325iS (Sport), more commonly known as the Shadowline among racing enthusiasts. To increase power from the standard 325i the compression ratio was upped to 9.8:1 thus increasing power output from 163hp (120kW) to 171hp (126kW). In this initial version the M Technik aero kit was definitely absent and not even an option – however, more importantly, Tony Viana won the championship that year and the following two years in his 325iS. In 1989 BMW offered the 325iS at a price of R60,080 (£13,735) with the option of the M Technik aero kit at R4095 (£936) – which included the front and rear spoiler, rear apron and side skirts.
The more significant changes to the car came in 1990 as BMW was struggling to keep up with the Opel (Vauxhall) Kadett which had also gone through various iterations in Group N racing, from Boss to BigBoss to SuperBoss. The SuperBoss was, as you can imagine, the daddy of the bunch, in essence a Kadett 200 GSi 16v uniquely designed for South African racing, pushing out 170hp (125kW). These cars were devastating track weapons especially with Mike Briggs behind the wheel and has a cult following second only to that of the E30.
The 1990 325iS sold at a price of R92,720 (£18,870) and came standard with the M Technik aero kit which is the first significant difference. The more fundamental changes happened underneath the skin with an uprated 2.7-litre engine and cylinder head, care of Alpina, increasing power output by 26hp (19kW) to 197hp (145kW) at 5800rpm reaching a maximum torque figure of 195lb ft (265Nm) at 4000rpm. With serious intentions of reducing weight the bonnet, wings and doors were made from aluminium. In order to better transfer the increased power to the road the E30 M3’s suspension was put into use, including the 15-inch cross-spoke #BBS alloys running on 205/60 15-inch VR Goodyear rubber. In this iteration locals refer to it as the Evo 1 although that was never the official name that BMW assigned to it. Officially it was still known as the 325iS but the legend had just grown another tenfold. Unfortunately this was not enough to fend off the attack by the Opel Kadett.
The final incarnation of the 325iS was introduced in 1991 with the E36 knocking at the factory door, but BMW had no choice if it were to take on its main competitor, the Opel SuperBoss. It sold for R105,100 (£20,815) in 1991 and its official designation was the BMW 325iS Evolution (more commonly known as the Evo 2 among South African motoring enthusiasts). Outwardly the car remained exactly the same except for a flexible black lip extending from the deep front spoiler. Underneath the car an aerodynamic cover was installed to improve airflow and ultimately front end grid. The aluminium bonnet, wings and door panels reverted back to steel. The ride height was lowered by 10mm with the installation of stiffer, shorter springs and a thicker rear anti-roll bar was installed to keep the tail in check.
The engine remained as the 2.7-litre unit but modifications were made to the cylinder head (supplied by Alpina together with the pistons) to increase compression ration from 9.8:1 to 10.4:1 and so inlet ports from the inlet manifold were adapted to accommodate the enlarged diameter of the inlet ports of the cylinder head. The intake manifold plenum chamber, airflow meter and throttle butterfly were uprated to that of the E28 535i and incorporated into the Motronic system to enhance the airflow. A cross-piece was installed in the larger diameter downpipe of the exhaust. All of this led to an increase in power to 211hp (155kW) at 5920rpm, with maximum torque remaining at 196lb ft (265Nm) at 4040rpm. This resulted in improved acceleration and mid-range performance, eventually culminating in a Group N championship win for Robbi Smith in his 325iS in 1993.
This factory-fresh example we see here today in Ice white belongs to Jack Kaplan a serious car enthusiast with an even more serious car collection. Most noteworthy are the eight exceptional BMWs which also includes the M3 we see here, the only 2002 Turbo on the African continent and an absolutely gorgeous Batmobile replica in Polaris metallic, to mention but four. Jack likes to put his own touch to his cars and these two examples are no exception.
This might not be to everybody’s liking, especially the purists who believe cars should be kept exactly as the automaker intended, but we appreciate the fact that Jack puts his own personal touch to each of his cars. It makes them stand out and more personalised. Jack does not stop with the aesthetics and the mechanicals; he is more hardcore than that and that is why most of his BMW fleet runs on 102 avgas jet fuel including the two you see here.
Jack acquired this 325iS from new in #1991 and used it as a company car. It’s done 96,000km and, from a cosmetics perspective, the grille has been colour-coded with slits cut into it on the left-hand side where the lights meet for additional cooling. He has also added darker indicators, racing pedals and a Nardi steering wheel. Other than that, from a cosmetics perspective the car is completely original. The mechanicals have definitely been tweaked. A Stage One performance upgrade was carried out which included gas-flowing the cylinder head and installing a 280-degree camshaft, a Unichip ECU, a K&N air filter with a modified air-box and a special sports exhaust, which pushes the compression ratio to 10.9:1.
So much has been written about the #BMW-E30 M3, with just about every motoring scribe worth their salt at some point contributing to the growing documented volumes on the M3. In my opinion the M3 is the most significant BMW model post Second World War. Yes, it does not have the halo image of the M1 (the closest BMW came to producing a supercar) but its contribution to the success of BMW is unprecedented. Unfortunately the development of the M1 was plagued with problems, which is putting it rather mildly. But where the M1 might have failed the M3 was triumphant winning virtually every form of competition it was entered into.
As so much has been written about the #BMW-M3 I thought I would just give a brief summary of the highlights of this most illustrious model. The M3 was developed from the ground up as a racer. Paul Rosche was tasked to develop a suitable engine and what he came up with is ingenious: a 2302cc four-cylinder, 16-valve, dual-overhead cam. For all intents and purposes the S14 engine is two thirds of the M88 motor (although the block is based on the cast-iron M10 engine), developed for the M1, the M635CSi and the South African-only 745i. This engine was further honed for the E28 M5 (second generation) to become the S38. BMW’s initial intention was to sell 5000 units to ensure eligibility for racing but such was the demand that it ended up manufacturing over three times this number during 1986-1990. In its first iteration it developed a maximum power output of 200hp (140kW) at 6750rpm and 177lb ft (238Nm) of torque at 4750rpm. It sold for £22,750 (R57,599) in 1985.
During its five-year production run BMW Motorsport kept on honing the performance and agility of the M3 giving rise to the Evo 1, Evo 2, Europa Meister, Cecotto and Ravaglia Editions. It was, however, most lethal in its final incarnation known as the Sport Evolution. The engine capacity had been increased to 2467cc which was achieved through an increase in bore and stroke. This necessitated larger valves and camshaft, plus special spigots to spray oil under the pistons to keep temperatures under control. Power was up to a staggering 238hp (177kW) at 7000rpm and torque remained the same at 177lb ft (238Nm) at 4750 rpm.
The M3’s war paint clearly defines its intentions (it is rather different to its regular 3 Series brethren) with flared wheel arches to accommodate wider rubber, and at the rear sits a large wing on a raised bootlid with a separate cowling over the rear window aperture, all of which help improve the aerodynamics. All of this translated into the M3 being the most successful Touring Car racer of all time, with more than 1500 individual victories and more than 50 international championship titles. These included a World Touring Car Championship, two European Touring Car Championships, two German Touring Car Championships, several other individual European titles including, Nürburgring 24 Hours, Spa 24 Hours and even a few Rally titles.
The second of Jack’s cars is this pristine Lachs silver M3. It is the first version of the M3, imported to South Africa in 1995, and Jack acquired it in 1997. This is only one of three M3s in South Africa, as mentioned previously it was never imported as it was left-hand drive only. There is also a Cecotto and a racer, which has just undergone a complete restoration; it competed in the Touring Car race series in the ‘90s. It was piloted by well-known motoring and racing enthusiast Farouk Dangor, who also competed with his 325iS in the Group N racing championship earlier on in his racing career.
So the car we see here is ultra-rare and has just 94,600km on the clock. Legislation in South Africa has changed (since about 2000) in such a way that left-hand drive cars can no longer be imported, with very few exceptions, racing cars being one of them. The first thing we notice is that Jack has fitted the rims from the E36 M3 (in certain circles he would be lynched for doing this), running on Bridgestone SO2 225/35/17 rubber. The capacity of the engine has been increased to 2493cc by changing the crankshaft and connecting rods. Further upgrades include gas-flowing the cylinder head, installing a 260-degree Schrick camshaft, a Unichip ECU, a K&N air filter with a modified air-box, and a special stainless steel sports exhaust, plus a 228mm organic spring disc clutch – pushing the compression ratio to 11.8:1.
Now all that is said and done, what is it like to actually drive them? In a word: fantastic! This is by no stretch of the imagination going to be a completely fair contest with the substantial modifications done to the 325iS and M3, not forgetting that they both run on aviation fuel.
Let’s start with the 333i, which I have spent quite a significant amount of time in. At idle it has that nice straight-six BMW bass and once on the go it has that familiar BMW big-block exhaust note. The most distinguishing factor about this car is the amount of torque that has been bestowed upon it. One gets the sensation that it has more bottom-end grunt than both the other competitors put together. It really is the hooligan among the lot and is always keen to get its tail sideways. Key in getting the most out of it is figuring out how to regulate the throttle feed; letting go while going through a bend will result in you facing the wrong way. This thing will snap your neck if you don’t give it the attention and respect it deserves.
In July 2012 I was fortunate enough to be taken on a few hot laps around Aldo Scribante Raceway in Port Elizabeth while shooting a 2002tii Alpina replica for BMW Car (see October 2012 edition). The 333i was definitely nose-heavy with the 3.2-litre lump in the front but the owner knew the twisty track like his own back yard, using the insurmountable amount of torque and making good use of the limited-slip diff to power-slide through the corners – definitely the quickest way around the track with the 333i.
Although the #BMW-333i-E30 has a close-ratio gearbox the gear throws are long which detract from the experience when pushing in the redline. As stated throttle control is paramount and once you have mastered this the chassis is actually quite compliant. The Bilsteins and stiffer strings holding things together nicely. The 333i is better suited for the open road, with the extended torque flow even from low revs making it a great continental cruiser.
The #BMW-325iS-E30 is definitely a more balanced and focused car. The Nardi steering wheel, being smaller than the standard item, gives very good feedback and much better turn-in. This car is based on the M3’s suspension so handling is superb and direction changes are ultra-sharp. The short-shift gearbox is definitely one of the highlights, making gear changes easy and precise when pushing on, in vast contrast to the 333i. Surprisingly, though, things only really start to come alive at 4000rpm, which is reached with ease. The whole experience is addictive, though, which leads to unnecessary downshifts just to achieve the giddy sensation once again. The standard exhaust on the 325iS is a real charmer, belting out plenty of delightful notes but the custom item fitted to this car is so much better, especially when one trounces the throttle and then lifts off immediately to be rewarded with a truly delightful crackle.
Everything in the M3 is turned up a couple of notches. Even when at optimum temperature the idle is erratic, a strong indication that something extraordinary is happening. The M3 picks up revs far easier and quicker than in both other cars and the redline seems much further down the line. The car displays amazing levels of grip and is extremely wellplanted on the asphalt. Turn-in is razor-sharp and even on a charge going through hairpins seem to require far less braking and instead more acceleration. But when one does need to stop, the retardation happens so instantaneously that there is a newfound appreciation for seatbelts. Gear changes are instant and make you appreciate why this car is the most successful Touring Car ever produced and, to my ears, the sound from the tailpipes puts Beethoven’s Fifth Concerto to shame.
This M3 is everything I had hoped it would be and so much more; this experience is definitely part of my motoring Nirvana.
All three of these cars were developed out of a need to race and it clearly shows. Each car has displayed its own unique characteristics and each has its own special charm. Yes, outwardly the M3 is more dramatic with its flared arches but the M Technik aero kit on the #BMW-325iS still gives it an assertive sporting look and the 333i has its own aero appendages, though slightly more subtle. On the inside all three cars feel and look very similar (and one is transported back to the ‘80s), with Sports/Recaro seats, #BMW Sports three-spoke leather steering wheels, leather gearlevers with M tricolour stripes and instrument binnacles housing speedos and rev counters the size of flying-saucers. The cabins are airy with very thin A-pillars that are virtually in the upright position and, by today’s standards, these cars seem rather rudimentary. The driving experience is so much more involved, though. These are cars you need to take by the scruff of the neck to get the most out of them. If you want a sensible choice get a 1 Series.
So which one is the winner? As a South African I am definitely biased but I have to say that the M3 on the day was definitely the best driver’s car – the one to tackle track days and sweeping back roads with. The M3, however, feels like it is all or nothing all of the time; maybe it’s just the way Jack set it up. The 333i is definitely the hooligan of the bunch and I’d say is much better suited for long distances. The 325iS is the better balanced car and much better suited for everyday use. Interestingly, editor Bob Harper did a direct comparison between the #325iS and the #Alpina C2 2.7 #M20 and gave the 325iS the nod (see BMW Car January 2008 edition).
However, despite my personal preferences, driving anyone of them is an occasion in itself will always puts a smile on your face. And as the old Louis Armstrong song goes, “when you’re smiling the whole world smiles with you”.
Special thanks to: Ron Silke.
Ultimate E30s: #BMW-333i-E30 , #BMW-325iS-Evolution-E30 and #BMW-M3-E30
E30 333i E30 325iS Evolution E30 M3
YEAR: #1986 #1991 #1989
ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC, 12-valve #M30B33 Straight-six, SOHC, 12-valve #M20B27 Four-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve #S14B23
CAPACITY: 3210cc 2683cc 2302cc
MAX POWER: 145kW (194hp) @ 5500rpm 155kW (208hp) @ 5920rpm 140kW (200hp) @ 6750rpm
MAX TORQUE: 285Nm (210lb ft) @ 4300rpm 265Nm (195lb ft) @ 4040rpm 238Nm (177lb ft) @ 4750rpm
0-62MPH: 7.23 seconds 7.1 seconds 6.7 seconds
TOP SPEED: 231km/h (144mph) 235km/h (146mph) 235km/h (146mph)
WEIGHT: 1256kg 1340kg 1200kg
PRICE (NEW): R41,300 (£16,312) R105,100 (£20,815) R57,599 (£22,750 in 1985)
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- Post is under moderationAll original Berlin - owned #E30 2-door sedan M20-engined.
#1985 #BMW E30 C2 2,7 #Alpina
#M20B27 S6 / 2.693 cc / 210 PS
197 ft/lb (267 Nm) @ 4.500 rpm
0 - 62 mph (100 km/h): 6,9 sec
Max speed (tested) 143 mph - 230 km/h
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