- Post is under moderationBMW ALPINA B10 / #Alpina-B10-3.5 / #Alpina-B10 / #Alpina-B10-E28 / #BMW-E28 / #Alpina / #BMW / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E28 / #BMW-E28-Alpina / #M106 / #BMW-M106 / #M30B34MAE / #M30 / #BMW-M30 /
Year of manufacture #1985
Recorded mileage 98,282
Asking price £38,000
Vendor Frazer Williams, Suffolk Sports Cars, near Woodbridge; tel: 07967 339424; www. suffolksportscars. com
WHEN IT WAS NEW
Max power 261bhp
Max torque 256lb ft
0-60mph 6.4 secs
Top speed 155mph
This is number 4 of 25 Sytner-built Alpinas (one right-hand-drive car was also done at Buchloe) based on a 535i SE (chrome-edged bumpers, rear window blind). The 3430cc M106 ‘six’ was unchanged in capacity, but, thanks to higher compression and different cam, plus reprogrammed Motronic management, power was increased by about 40bhp and torque by 30lb ft or so. The suspension was reworked, 16in Alpina ‘turbine’ alloys fitted and the dash changed, along with the trademark stripes added.
The car was restored about 10 years ago by an Alpina parts specialist, windows-out repainted and fitted with new bumpers. The result is superb, and even the Alpina wheels have been correctly finished with a 5mm overlap on the black centres. Fastened by two different types of security bolt, they are shod with well-treaded Kumho Ecstas, with a matching spare. The jack and wheelbrace are still present. Plus, the bootlid tray still has the full tool and bulb kit and – a detail to please ardent E28 fanciers – even the little plastic widget for winding the windows closed should the electrics fail. They all work, by the way, as you’d expect. Inside, the dashboard, headlining and glass sunroof were all replaced, as were the front door cards, and the rears recovered. The Alpina-striped seat upholstery shows no wear, just a little bagginess.
It’s like new under the bonnet, with various items powder-coated and fresh stickers to the airbox, strut tower and a mint fusebox. The fluids are clean, to the right levels. Even the washer bottle and plumbing look new. It starts instantly with no smoke or tappety noises, feeling lively and free-revving. The ride, on Powerflex bushes and Bilsteins, is on the firm side of taut, plus it has lovely direct steering. The switchable auto responds correctly to E, Sport (in which it holds the gears longer and gives snappier changes) and intermediate slots for ice, snow or general hooning. It is as good as a Porsche Tiptronic and more intuitive to use. Coolant temperature is steady just under the middle of the gauge, the econometer works and the test button illuminates all the check lights on the service computer. It will come with a fresh MoT, and the registration number B10 ALP.
EXTERIOR Superbly repainted, and set off with the signature Alpina decals.
INTERIOR Excellent: quite a lot of it is new; a little stretch to the cloth trim.
MECHANICALS Feel super-fit, and sorted.
For Rare, cool and fast
Against Dare we say the automatic gearbox? It’s pretty good though
SHOULD I BUY IT?
Almost like a new one and so very drivable – addictively so. It might bring out your inner hooligan.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationJim Amelinckx’s E30 is far more than simply a nicely painted 3 Series on shiny wheels. It’s the product of a steamy automotive love affair that’s seen the car transformed in every conceivable area… Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: Kevin Raekelboom M30 E30 335i #Big-Six-swapped stunner.
FROM BRUSSELS WITH LOVE #M30-swapped E30
Love is a smoke, raised with the fume of sighs.’ A line from Romeo and Juliet, in which Shakespeare isn’t trying to be lewd – at least, not overtly, although he’s always up to something, isn’t he? Instead he is encapsulating the nature of love manifested by that most deeply personal and intimate of sounds: when you emit a sigh of passion, there really is no more honest or truthful expression of your pleasure.
In the case of the low-down bruiser of an E30 you’re looking at here, that couldn’t be more true. But the smoke here isn’t merely the manifold sighs emitted by its owner and creator, Jim Amelinckx, impassioned as he is by the myriad custom alterations he’s made. No, we can throw in the crackling hydrocarbons of high-octane fuel and the whiff of scorched and atomising rubber into this heady soup of fumes – the love for this man and his car builds upon Shakespearean intimacy and takes us to a whole other place.
“It all started at the end of last year,” he says, affectionately caressing the car’s silkysmooth flanks as he flutters his besotted eyelashes. “I bought this car from a very good friend in Holland with the intention of using it as a daily driver, but that only lasted for about three weeks before suddenly that wasn’t my plan any more!”
What happened? He must have seen something in the E30 – some spark of potential, a glimmer of a hope that the bogstandard beige retro plodder could be something more, something special.
“So we began the task of painting the car, and after that… well, we did all the rest. We worked on it five days a week for six months, with a lot of friends pitching in to get this car beautiful before the summer. You see, that’s what we do here over the winter…”
You may have heard this sort of talk before in Scandinavia, this idea of hunkering down and riding out the harsh and freezing winter months by locking the garage door, sticking the kettle on, donning a set of thermal long johns and setting about the task of building an incredible car, ready for when the snow thaws and the roads are suitable for tyre-squealing mischief again.
But in fact, Jim doesn’t live in Scandinavia – he lives in Belgium. You get the idea though. And the ‘we’ he’s talking about? There’s two names you need to know: first, Brussels Finest – an online collective of real-world modified car buddies whose main aim is to hammer together badass rides and generally support each other in their hobby. And second, the amusinglytitled Racepoutin’s – the fellas who roll up their sleeves and engineer the solutions to the self-imposed problems that modifying cars brings to the table.
We’ll start with the paintwork, then. If the colour looks familiar, it’s because it’s a shade you’d normally find on a shiny new 5 Series: Mineral grey. But don’t go thinking that this car is just a straight and solid car with a nice paint job… Jim may have found himself a decent donor (albeit a beige one), but that didn’t stop him tearing into pretty much every aspect of it with the aim of increasing the love. “It’s a 1984 335i,” he grins mischievously, which should give you some idea as to what’s gone on under the bonnet. Indeed, if you’re an engine nerd and you’ve glanced over to the underbonnet pics, you’ll already have guessed what the score is: the Racepoutin’s crew have creatively buttered an #M30B35 in there. The very same engine that you’d expect to find inside an E28 M535i; the 3.4-litre straight-six (don’t let the name fool you, it has a 3428cc displacement) that kicks out a long way north of 200 horses and makes all manner of aggressive rumbling noises.
Jim’s mated it to a Getrag five-speeder to keep things appropriately racy and, of course, to keep those fumes of love evaporating into the surrounding atmosphere. These guys have imparted an amusing spin on the folkloric 335i concept, and the work really does pay dividends. But wait, there’s more! A neat paint job and a swanky drivetrain upgrade are a supercool combo but Jim and his cronies had far more planned in order to fill up those long winter days. The devil makes work for idle hands, and all that.
“The E30 is one of the best old-skool Beemers out there,” Jim beams, “so there were a lot of cool things I wanted to do. One of them was to fit a custom air-ride system…” He’s intriguingly tight-lipped on the specs here, and that’s a very race-team approach; after all, the cunning strategists behind, say, a Le Mans squad or a BTCC outfit wouldn’t go about giving away all their secrets to all and sundry. No, they play it like a sneaky game of poker. The thing’s airedout and it looks awesome. They’re the salient points here.
“Let’s talk about the brakes,” Jim enthuses, hurrying us along. He encourages us to take a look, and it all appears familiar… so what’s the source? “We upgraded it to E36 M3 brakes all-round,” he grins. Which makes sense, really – a chunky set of stoppers to haul in the extra grunt brought forth by that meatier motor. A wise and sound move.
“Ah, I’ve spent way too much on this car,” Jim laughs, opening a door to help demonstrate why. “Way too much. I’ve stopped counting it all up otherwise I’d just have to find myself another hobby! But I’m proud to say I did it myself along with the help of my friends, who provided a lot of great company on all those late nights.”
Part of the reason for the spiralling budget is staring us in the face as we peer inside. The interior treatment really is very cool, centring around a pair of gorgeously trimmed Recaro CS buckets with diamondquilted leather that cheekily harks back to the car’s original paint colour. And the rear seats? They’ve been junked entirely, in favour of a shiny polished roll-cage that further speaks to the inherent race car vibe that’s bundled up inside this subtle but gorgeously finished build.
The term ‘sleeper’ gets thrown around a lot and it’s not always appropriate. Hell, it’s not totally appropriate here – there are clues to the knowledgeable that all isn’t as it seems, from the custom widened steel arches and the über-slick Kerscher wheels to the glimpse of the cage peeking out through the rear windows – but at the same time, this is by no means an ostentatious or shouty car. At first glance it appears to simply be a wellkept example of an ’80s BMW rather than an obviously low-down, powerful hot rod. But that, of course, is all part of its charm. Whispering has far more impact than shouting in cases like this. And the sighing whispers of love? Doubly so.
“I really wouldn’t improve a thing about the way the car drives,” says Jim, happily proving that this is far more than simply a polished show car. “I’d describe it as optimal; the power, the brakes, the acceleration – no words needed, it’s just love. And I reckon the fitment of the wheels is probably my favourite element of the car; the 18” Kerschers are exactly what I imagined the car should have, and I’d never consider changing them. Why would you change a winning team?” Well, quite.
“I see a lot of guys taking pictures of the car while I’m driving it around, and people are always curious to find out what’s under the bonnet when they see me burning rubber,” he continues. “It’s the product of inspiration really, and the internet and Google are my best friend when it comes to researching new ideas.”
The best way to really describe it, though, is simply as a labour of love. There was a spark of inspiration that inspired Jim to rope in his mates and turn this E30 into something infinitely more special than merely a cheap runaround, and the result is a creation that reflects his personality as much as it does his obvious, unashamed love for the self-styled 335i. “Oh, and you should see her shimmy around Zolder,” he whispers.
See, this is more than simply the product of a group of friends cracking open a set of spanners and a case of beers – this is true love. Jim and his E30 are a Shakespearean tale of infatuation with a retro-styled but super-modern twist. The fume of sighs, and a full-on 99-RON love affair.
DATA FILE BMW #BMW-M30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-335i / #BMW-335i-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-E30-M30 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E30
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B35 / #M30 , #Getrag five-speed manual gearbox
CHASSIS 8.5x18” (front) and 9.5x18” (rear) #Kerscher wheels with 215/35 (front) and 225/35 (rear) Toyo tyres, custom air-ride system with Racepoutin’s boot build, E36 M3 brake conversion (front and rear)
EXTERIOR Full respray in Mineral grey, steel arch flares (1.5cm wider than stock)
INTERIOR Custom-trimmed Recaro CS seats, roll-cage, M-Tech 1 steering wheel, 318iS red digit dials, Viair pressure gauge in clock console, custom Alcantara trimStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationJAWS 2 Ten years ago we featured this E24 in its original incarnation but now it’s back and meaner than ever. We’re going to need a bigger magazine… Words and photos: Andy ‘Sharkey’ Starkey
/ #JAWS-2 UK air-ride E24 #BMW-635CSi-JAWS-2 / #BMW-635CSi-Highline-E24
The iconic Spielberg movie, Jaws, put a whole new spin on suspense and horror, and we have never looked back. This movie was responsible for making an entire generation of film fans squeal, hide behind their popcorn and give them involuntary bowel movements. It was such a success and a landmark in cinema history that it spawned several sequels. Now, I have a problem with the whole sequel thing. If you have made something good, I guess it’s a given that you want to continue the success and do it all again.
That’s all well and good if the subject matter can cope with the return, and if the public want it. The big difficulty for the moviemakers is that we’ve already seen the shark, the villain, the hero or whatever in the first one; we’ve had the shocks, the cheers and the laughs. This usually results in a very loose link to the first instalment which develops into almost the same story but with more blood, scares, laughs, bangs or car chases; all a bit disappointing really.
There are exceptions of course: Indiana Jones, Jason Bourne, Austin Powers and naturally Mr Bond – all have had continual success with their ongoing escapades and adventures, and that’s all because the key character has what it takes for audiences to keep coming back for more. They all have charisma, attitude and presence, which is exactly what this E24 has in abundance and this too is something of a sequel.
We think you’ll agree that this particular 6 Series possesses the kind of credentials that any movie icon would give their right arm for. That’s because this #BMW-635CSi-Highline is a continuing story of ownership and development. It even graced the pages of this very magazine some ten years ago and was dubbed ‘Jaws’ by us at the time. For once, this is where a sequel really has paid off, although maybe sequel isn’t the right word, a ‘continuation’ is probably better…
Way back when, this 635 was owned by a certain Kabir Miah and both he and his brother Lala had a very particular idea for this car in mind. The shark theme was to be played out by having the original paintwork in a two-tone scheme; grey on top graduating into a much paler off-white towards the sills, just like the skin of a shark. The front wings also got the ‘big fish’ look by having a large, striking set of gill slits added. These were not just a stick on adornment, either, these gills were actually pressed through the wings and the finishing touch was the addition of the Jaws number plate.
That was then, but what about now? To start with, the car now belongs to Lala himself. It may have been Kabir’s car but Lala was the one to make the transformation happen both ten years ago and now. This is wholly because he’s a fully trained painter. In fact he co-owns and runs a Birminghambased styling business, LA Modz, specialising in window tints and wraps, so he’s going to know a thing or two about making cars look good. He still does some bodywork but, as he told me: “Tints and wraps are so much cleaner to work with.”
As you have probably noticed the, two- tone paint job has gone this time around in favour of clean, bright Nogaro silver with a fabulously deep gloss. The trademark gills and numberplate still identify the car as the original Jaws but now a lovely set of rims highlight the new look.
Lala does have an eye for detail so the choice of wheel that was to achieve the desired effect had to be right, and boy, are they right. They started out life as a set of M System II Style 21 ‘Throwing Stars’ but they’ve been made into a special set of bespoke three-piece splits by CR Customs in Poland. The guys there have added extra diameter and width, taking them from lowly 17s to a whopping 19”, with the fronts measuring 9.5” wide while the rears are now a massive 11”. The hardware has also been plated in 18ct gold and the wheel nuts had nifty covers made for them from 12 bore shotgun cartridges.
The interior has been redesigned this time around too; the tired black has now been replaced with luscious terracotta leather. Lala has taken the lead from an M5 he’d seen with a Fox red interior and rather liked the contrast. The style and choice of covering carries on with modified and decluttered doorcards and centre console. The craftsmanship of the interior is something to behold and the stark difference between some of the retained interior scheme and the new is striking. Hats off to Autotrims UK for a sterling job. The whole interior theme has been topped off by the addition of an MTech 2 steering wheel and the all-important shark tooth hanging from the mirror.
Ten years ago most suspension setups comprised springs and shocks but today air is where it’s at and it’s all about getting your car so low that sometimes you think you could sneak under a snake’s belly wearing a top hat. With its low roof and sleek look, the CSi is the perfect candidate for air and dropping it to the ground accentuates those long, low lines. Lala’s done something very smart here too; sure the air-ride gets the car down low but the clever bit is the use of a specially made M3-style chin spoiler and the fitment of, would you believe, Volvo 850 side skirts.
These additions make the whole profile look even lower and very sleek. As Lala explains: “The idea with the spoiler was really to give the impression of a shark’s open mouth, but it does lengthen his nose.”
His nose, did you say? “Definitely,” Lala says. “Jaws was certainly male, so this car must be a bloke too.” Looking at the car now after that statement, you have to agree it does look masculine. It has a sharp, angular feel to it and we’re sure that’s pure testosterone coming out of the exhaust…
Having a wrap expert on-hand would make you think that this car would be littered with the stuff but on initial scrutiny you’d say there wasn’t any wrapping going on at all. Well, you’d be wrong. Look a little closer and you’ll find something very subtle, but very nicely done: the window surrounds. It may not look much but, while all the glass was out for the paint job, Lala took all the mouldings that fit between the glass and bodywork, and wrapped them in a fabulously deep gloss black wrap. Not only does this look really neat, but you just have to think of how much of a nightmare it must have been to do.
Externally the look gets further enhancements with the fitment of American side marker lights, smoked headlamps, taillights and badges. The window glass has been replaced with some from a pre-1985 model, purely because the glass had a tasteful bronze tint to it (unlike this 1989 version). This was then made deeper by adding another layer of tint, thus creating a totally unique shade.
How many times do you feel a tad disappointed when you’ve read all the interesting guff about the fancy bodywork and the trick bits only to be told that the engine has been left totally standard? Well, brace yourself, because this motor is pretty standard too but, before you go all ‘I told you so’ on us, remember one thing, this is a 635CSi which has the lusty 3.4-litre ‘Big Six’ under the bonnet. That’s over 200 feisty ponies in there wanting to get out so – why mess with something that good? Lala has added an induction kit, though, and a bespoke exhaust, making the tuneful straight-six sound even better, from air going in to exhaust gases coming out. To top off the whole package the standard 635 brakes up front have been swapped for the beefier ones from an 840.
With the subtle changes, bespoke additions and attention to detail, Lala has given us a worthy sequel to his original Jaws, and just when you thought it was safe to go back on the road… This is real proof that sequels can work and work well, providing the main character has what it takes, of course, and this 635 has exactly that.
“The idea of the chin spoiler was to give the impression of a shark’s open mouth”
DATA FILE #Air-ride / #BMW-E24 / #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-635CSi-E24 / #BMW-6-Series / #BMW-6-Series-E24 / #M-System / #BMW-E24-Air-ride / #BMW-635CSi-Air-ride / #BMW-635CSi-Air-ride-E24 / #BMW /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B35 / #M30 / #BMW-M30 , induction kit, stainless steel exhaust system, four-speed auto gearbox #ZF-4HP / #ZF
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) custom three-piece #M5-M-System-II-Style-21 ‘Throwing Stars’ with 3.5” (front) and 4” (rear) polished lips and 18ct gold-plated hardware, 235/35 (front) and 255/30 (rear) tyres, Air Lift Performance air suspension, 840Ci brakes (front)
EXTERIOR Full respray in BMW Nogaro silver, gloss black wrapped window surrounds, pressed metal gills in front wings, custom E30 M3 chin spoiler, Volvo 850 side skirts, pre-1985 bronze window glass with additional tint, American side marker lights, smoked headlights and tail-lights
INTERIOR Re-trim in terracotta leather, modified doorcards and centre console, #M-Tech 2 steering wheel, custommounted #AutoPilot-V2 digital air-ride controller, single #ViAir compressor, single air tank, 2x #Pioneer Champion Series 12” subs
“The idea of the chin spoiler was to give the impression of a shark’s open mouth”
The craftsmanship of the interior is something to behold…
“Jaws was certainly male, so this car must be a bloke too”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationKING OF THE MOUNTAINS Turbo, wide-arch E30 Cab
Logically, this E30 should have been scrapped long ago. But when you’re building a big-power toy for motorsport thrills and early-morning mountain runs, logic doesn’t always factor very highly… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Scott Sturdy.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, running through North Carolina and into Virginia represents one of America’s great fusions of nature and technology. Scenic roads were something that American developers did uncannily well in the early half of the 20th century, and this particular one – a ribbon of Tarmac winding through gorgeous vistas of the Appalachian Mountains – is where Matthew Koppi’s love for BMWs was born. He’s the man behind this Olive green E30, and his passion for the marque stretches back decades. “I first fell in love with the BMW brand in my childhood,” he reminisces. “I live in the scenic mountains of Western North Carolina, and I used to see BMWs all over the twisty Blue Ridge Parkway in the ’80s. As a carobsessed kid the BMW was something that seemed like perfection; so graceful and nimble with timeless design.
“I bought my first #BMW in 1999,” he continues, “while stationed in Vicenza, Italy. It was a 1983 323i with Alpina cams and other goodies that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. I bought it because of my childhood infatuation – plus the price was right for a young army private! It was the first car I owned with fully independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes, and also the first that I could drive over 100mph for extended periods of time without worrying about it exploding. I’ve been a devotee ever since!”
All of this rather explains Matthew’s latest career move, setting up North Fork Autoworks in Barnardsville, North Carolina. Having turned wrenches for much of his adult career, this seemed like a logical move, although he’s keen to point out that throughout this E30’s build he was a full-time student, working on a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science.
“All of the work on the car, from fabrication to paint, both in the engine bay and outside, was done by me,” he proudly explains. “The only thing I didn’t do completely on my own was the machine work, but I was there for every step of the process and even ran some of the machines!
Basically, I was either directly responsible for every aspect of the car or I was intimately involved.” And with that forthright mission statement dealt with, we should probably rewind and take a peek at where this all started…
Back in 2010, having returned to school and requiring a sensible-ish runabout Matthew was driving an old Suzuki Sidekick (that’s a Vitara to you and me) and questioning his choices somewhat. It was boring. And life’s too short for boring cars. So the idea of a fixer-upper E30 began to percolate, and you know what happens when the spark of inspiration’s arrived. It’s pretty much a done deal.
This cabriolet appeared as a shabby little ragamuffin on Craigslist, but crucially the price was low. “The ad stated that the car ran when parked, but now wouldn’t start,” Matthew recalls. “It also disclosed that the interior and top were trashed. I arrived to find a car parked in tall grass behind a tiny house way back in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere! The previous owners were very nice and were at their wits’ end with the car. And they were painfully honest about it all. Truly the thing should have been parted out or crushed, but I was in love.
It had bad rear wheel bearings, one front hub bearing was shot, bald tyres, ruined leather interior that had hardened and cracked beyond repair or comfort, the paint on every panel was faded and peeling, the battery tray was rusted through, it had an automatic transmission, wrong front wings, cracked aluminium bumpers, and the top was so far gone that there was water pooled in the floor despite the car being under two tarps. True to the ad, the engine would turn over but wouldn’t start, so the condition of the drivetrain was unknown.” Quite a catch, right? So as you can imagine, Matthew snapped it up and lovingly caressed it homeward, all the time reminiscing about those swooping mountain heroes on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“First and foremost, I wanted to get it running and replace the top,” he explains. “It needed to be good enough to comfortably drive my young daughters around in as I continued to fix it up, and I originally planned to follow my old formula of decent wheels and lowered suspension… but that was before my first autocross event!” That’s right. The goalposts just shifted. First, though, is the matter of a knackered E30 which needs pretty much everything fixed…
Job one was to get the old M20 ticking over sweetly and mated to a manual gearbox, something that Matthew did right away before fiddling with chips and fuelling and so on, and this setup lasted a couple of seasons of autocross. But power corrupts, and he was craving more, so he started pooling resources for an M5x swap… until the idea of a boosted M30 caught his eye, and from then on there was only one way forward.
Now, M30s (that is, straight-six motors as found in the likes of the E28 5 Series, E24 6 Series and so on) have been swapped into E30s many times before, so there was a wealth of information available. What Matthew had to do was figure how to tailor the swap to his own unique requirements. After much consideration and research, he opted for an M30B34 block – for strength – with an M30B35 head and #Getrag 260/6 transmission. That was the base spec. Then the fun could begin.
The block was bored out to take 94mm Wiseco pistons, increasing displacement to 3.6-litres, while the crankshaft was balanced and the head received all sorts of handcrafted custom work. A Rapid Spool Industries exhaust manifold allowed the fitment of that all-important turbo (originally a Holset HX40, now upgraded to a Borg Warner EFR 7670), and naturally the fuelling and management were beefed up to suit. A trick exhaust system soon followed, as did a Volvo intercooler, some more appropriate cams, and upgrades to the valvetrain. Piece by piece, Matthew’s masterpiece was falling into place. On a conservative tune and at just 13.8psi, the M30 was making 450hp – which certainly helped with those corruptive power cravings.
So, the engine box was firmly ticked. Still a lot of other things to sort though, weren’t there? “I tried several different combinations of springs and dampers,” says Matthew.
“Ultimately I used autocross and mountain roads to dial in my suspension; my current configuration consists of Bilstein Sport struts and shocks, H&R J-spec front springs, GE adjustable rear perches and springs, reinforced rear shock mounts, Vorshlag front camber plates, drop hats, and Treehouse Racing control arm bushings. I swapped in an E36 steering rack and, of course, replaced both front hub assemblies. For the rear subframe I installed the AKG 75D 12mm offset frame, diff mount bushings and trailing arm bushings.”
Okay, so the thing works well now. But it needs to look good. What next? Aha, the body! “When I began fixing the bodywork issues, I ended up with five different colours on the car,” he laughs. “I couldn’t afford a traditional paint job due to being a student, and I still had a huge list of maintenance and repairs to tackle, so the idea of painting it myself in flat military green was very appealing. It had an aggressive feel to it, and allowed me to easily change and add body panels as needed. It also made all the trim work that much easier, because subdued black and flat green are perfectly paired!
“The entire attitude of the car followed the suspension setup and colour choice, although modifications such as the Kamotors arch flares were a product of necessity – especially with 8”-wide wheels and 245-section tyres on the rear – that just happened to enhance the overall demeanour of the car.” That Foha three-piece spoiler was certainly a lucky find too, it complements the hammered-together-by- The-A-Team vibe perfectly.
Of course, it’s no good having a car that goes like a train, handles like a sticky panther, and looks like a militaristic warlord if you don’t actually have anywhere to sit.
That rain-saturated tan leather trim had to go. “The interior of the car was in a horrible state of decay and disrepair,” Matthew grimaces. “When I replaced the battery tray, I took the opportunity to swap the dash with a crack-free one; I then followed that with converting the interior to black since I wasn’t a fan of the tan anyway! Through the forums I made contact with Kevin Chinn of Creative Options to discuss an upholstery kit, and after several conversations I decided on microsuede centres on the seats with vinyl bolsters for ease of maintenance. The seams were done with factory-style French stitching in light Olive green.
Before the seats went back in I dyed the carpet black, and so the weekend ended with me having stained and sore fingers but amazing upholstery!” When we ask Matthew what his favourite result of all this homegrown dabbling is, he’s quick to answer: it’s the engine bay. The functional, severe exterior just doesn’t prepare people for the sorted, shaved, shiny bay that hides under the bonnet, and it certainly raises eyebrows at shows. And raising eyebrows is what this car was built to do.
All sorted, then? Job done? Oh, no – Matthew’s far from finished here. “My list of mods isn’t based on winning the lottery, it’s based on money over time,” he says. “I’ve slowly but surely built it to be what you see now, and as time goes on it will only improve. Stay tuned!” We certainly will. But in the meantime, Matthew, you’d better head off along that Parkway. There are childhood dreams there waiting to be fulfilled…
Ultimately I used autocross and mountain roads to dial in my suspension.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE Turbo #BMW-E30 Cab / #BMW-M30 / #M30 / #Borg-Warner-EFR / #Borg-Warner / #M30-Turbo / #Megasquirt-MS2 / #Megasquirt / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-E30-Turbo / #BMW-E30-M30 / #H&R
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 bored out to 3573cc, #Borg-Warner-EFR-7670 turbo, #Tial 44mm wastegate, 94mm #Wiseco 8.7:1 forged pistons, #ARP head studs, Cometic MLS head gasket, M30B34 high-speed balanced and tuned crankshaft, 9.5 aluminium #Aasco flywheel, M30B35 ported and smoothed head, Cat Cams dual-profile turbo camshaft, IE heavy duty rockers, rocker locks, high performance springs, Rapid Spool Industries exhaust manifold, #Siemens-Deka 60lb/h injectors, Megasquirt MS2 engine management, custom fabricated oil distribution block for turbo feed and gauges, #Qbang engine mounts, Volvo 960 intercooler, Innovate LC-1 wideband controller, heat-wrapped 3.5” downpipe and wastegate piping, 3” straight-through exhaust with Magnaflow resonator and vband couplers, #Getrag-260/6 five-speed manual gearbox, Spec Racing stage 3+ clutch, Z3 short-shift
POWER 450whp @ 5200rpm, 524lb ft of torque @ 4550rpm
CHASSIS 8x16” ET20 (front and rear) XXR 521 wheels with 225/50 (front) and 245/45 (rear) #BF-Goodrich G-Force Sport tyres, #H&R-J-Spec front springs with #Bilstein Sport shocks, 650lb rear GE springs and adjusters, #Vorshlag camber plates, E36 steering rack, Treehouse Racing control arm bushings - powdercoated silver, stainless steel brake lines, ATE Orbital grooved front discs with Pagid pads, #Bremmerman cross-drilled rear discs, wheel stud conversion, #AKG 75D 12mm offset rear subframe and diff bushings, #AKG 75D trailing arm bushings
EXTERIOR Kamotors arch flares, E30 front lip, DIY smoked Hella Ellipsoid lights, all-red taillights, plastic bumper swap, third brake light delete, three-piece Foha spoiler, DIY double brake light upgrade, Shadowline trim, satin finish Olive Drab green paint, Euro grilles, Euro plate filler, late model rear lower valance
INTERIOR M-Tech 1 steering wheel, #VDO oil pressure, oil temperature and Innovate AFR gauges in DIY centre console, E36 rear view mirror, E34 leather handbrake handle, Justrack Econometer boost/vac gauge, Jaywood digital voltmeter, E36 window switches, brushed aluminium cluster rings and Alpina stripe, Creative Options interior upholstery kit, clutch stop, carpet dyed black, recovered windscreen, UUC weighted gear knobStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationIN THE LAP OF LUXURY GERMAN
Ultra-plush, ultra-rare, ultra-cool E23 L7 on air. Achingly cool and visually awesome, this bagged E23 L7 really is a thing of beauty. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Faiz Rahman.
LAYING LOW Air-ride E23 L7
Old cars are cool. Just take a look at the number of E30s, E28s and E34s that are cropping up on the BM scene all around the globe. These are all cars that look great as standard, and just a few simple mods are all that’s required to get the head-nodding seal of approval wherever you may go. However there is life beyond the well-worn paths of the E30 and E28 and there are numerous treasures nestling in BMW’s back catalogue that serve as excellent candidates for some thoroughly modern modifications, and you’re looking at one of them right now.
Regular readers may recognise the name Darren Hattingh because back in the June 2015 issue we featured his supercharged E38 740iL, and what a fine machine it was. Now the man with the 7 Series penchant is back with his latest creation, and it’s a modern twist on a classic that is most definitely not a regular on the scene. “Ever since seeing pictures of my dad after he brought home his E23 I’ve wanted one for myself,” says Darren. “He’s had every body shape Seven up to the E66, but the E23 and E38 have always made me double-take! The thing that really draws my attention to the E23 is the shark nose, I love the way it encapsulates the grilles, and the staggered headlights have such a presence about them.”
He’s certainly not wrong. The E23 is a fantastic-looking car with a distinctive design that really sets it apart from its contemporaries and really makes it stand out on the road. E23s aren’t exactly easy to come by, though, but fortunately for Darren he just so happens to have a friend who is as keen on Sevens as he is. “My buddy Stephen owned the car previously, and he and I traded cars: my E32 750iL for his E23 L7.
The condition of the car was very well used, which was perfect for me. It made changing almost every aspect of an already rare car easier and the day I saw Stephen pull up in the car, I instantly had a completed concept in mind of how I wanted it to look,” he says.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, just what on earth is the L7? In E23 speak it means luxury, which is what we assume the L stands for. That includes a leather dashboard and leather in place of the wood trim on the doorcards, a powered glass sunroof, electric everything and BMW’s first ever driver’s airbag, which results in a massive steering wheel. Seriously, it’s massive. So, the American-market exclusive L7 is basically an ultra-luxurious and extremely rare version of an already rare and luxurious car. It’s an E23 but more.
So, with his hands on an E23 Darren was ready to start modifying according to his plan, and that plan involved air. “Currently the L7 has a fully custom built Air Lift air ride suspension setup, with Air Lift V2 management.” Keeping classic static is cool, but bagging them is even better and judging by the result of this pairing we can safely say that air and E23 go together like toast and jam. That long, sharkey 7 Series shape looks so good slammed into the ground, and it really does go outrageously low.
But mad lows alone aren’t enough, you’ve got to get the right wheels to go with your drop and here Darren has absolutely nailed it. “The wheels are Impul Silhouettes,” he explains. “I chose these wheels because of the period correctness of the style, the fact that they are functional, and of course their rarity. I honestly didn’t consider any other wheels because I knew I had to have these to complete the concept I had in mind.”
Trying to pair the right wheels to a car like the E23 is a lot like trying to match the right wine to a particularly complex dish – in isolation both could be brilliant but bring them together and it could all go wrong. The fact that Darren didn’t even consider a classic cross-spoke is laudable and we wager that the Silhouette is not a wheel many people with a BM of this vintage would have floating around at the forefront of their brains as a go-to wheel choice. But we’re so very glad that it was the only choice for Darren. On paper, a full-face, arguably motorsport-themed wheel would seem like an odd choice for a classic luxury cruiser and, having had a gander on Google, it’s not an instant win on every car it’s applied to but here, against all odds, it looks absolutely killer.
On the chassis front, beyond that custom air-ride setup, Darren has also completely rebuilt the steering system, adding E24 and E28 polybushes and there’s also a Bavarian Auto front strut brace.
As far as styling goes, this E23 is definitely a looker but at first glance you might not be able to put your finger on exactly what it is that’s making you feel so right about looking for so long, but once you start picking apart the details you realise that Darren has put in a huge amount of work… but work that only true aficionados will be able to appreciate: “I wanted to keep the styling of the car very subtle, almost to the point where you can’t really tell what has been changed.” Well, mission accomplished as far as we’re concerned!
“My buddy Stephen converted the nose and rear bumper to Euro spec while he briefly owned the car. I added the E38 front bumper, which was problematic as I had to design and weld up a frame that mounted the E38 bumper reinforcement to the factory E23 bumper shocks. I also fitted rear Euro quarter trim, ’1979 E23 chrome mirrors and Formuling Wind Splitters,” which might possible be the best name for anything we’ve ever heard. In case you’re wondering, those are the CSL Batmobile-style fins that sit on the front wings either side of the bonnet.
The high beams have been given the classic French look and are now actually foglamps, with Darren converting the dipped beam housings to a bi-xenon setup and there are new old stock front grilles keeping things period and fresh. The changes are subtle, almost to the point of being invisible just as Darren planned, but together they really do make a big difference in terms of how the E23 looks, giving it a smoother, more dynamic appearance that you’re definitely unlikely to see anywhere else, anytime soon.
If you find all that a bit too subtle for your liking, don’t worry, because the interior is where things get wild. Being an L7, everything is covered in leather and the distant mooing of the ghosts of the cows that gave their lives for the greater good of upholstering this E23 can be heard drifting through the interior on a still summer’s evening. But more eyebrow elevating than even the concept of ghost cows is the fact that Darren has redone the entire interior himself. “The factory interior was dark grey carpet, light grey and dark grey leather,” he explains, which is clearly isn’t that anymore.
“I wanted to keep the interior as factorylooking as possible because I love the factory styling of the L7, but I also wanted to bring it into modernity with the new leather and colour change while keeping the original stitch patterns and style. I did a complete interior tear down and makeover with new leather everywhere, including the seats, centre console, dashboard, pillars and headliner.”
The colour, Darren tells us, is not red but Burnt Sienna Spice, a sort of orangey-brown hue that just happens to look very red in pictures but is awesome nevertheless. However, simply retrimming his entire interior wasn’t enough for a man like Darren and he’s gone all-out in here. The rear seats are now heated and there’s a rather sexy Italvolanti Formal steering wheel along with new old stock factory switches and custommade chrome door lock pulls: “I added 2000 E38 7 Series Sport Contour heated front seats, an E38 factory homelink, E38 PDC, completely keyless ignition with push button start/stop, and iPhone app control for remote start.”
To drown out those ghost cows, the speakers have been upgraded to Harman Kardon items and there’s a Kenwood head unit supplying the soundtrack to E23 life. “All switches are housed in a custom panel that I made along with the V2 controller for the air-ride. The sound system has all-new wiring to each of the Harmon Kardon speakers as well as the head unit. I have done absolutely everything inside the interior myself by hand – leather, electrical and sound etc. The biggest issue I had was learning to sew leather seats and console parts and understanding BMW’s technique, all while not wasting the limited amount of leather I had to do everything”, he laughs.
The ample boot houses the twin compressors and single matt black air tank, complete with chrome L7 emblem, mounted on snazzy custom wood flooring. The work that’s gone into creating this interior is really exceptional and the end result is utterly spectacular, the sort of interior you dream of doing. It’s what the cows would have wanted…
The M30 nestling under the bonnet is a great engine that really suits the nature of the L7 and Darren is in full agreement there. “I really enjoy the M30’s subtle grunt and its great sewing machine noise while idling,” he says with a smile. While there are no plans to swap or change anything under the bonnet, he has carried out some work on the big six to ensure it’s operating at its very best. “The engine has simply been rebuilt and the internals have been set to factory specifications,” he explains. “I added a Dinan chip, M62TU injectors and an aftermarket fuel pressure regulator and ignition parts. After I converted to the M62TU injectors the car started to run rich, so I had to add an uprated MSD coil and build my own MSD spark plug wires so I could run more spark through the thicker wires to the late style Bosch Platinum 4 spark plugs.”
Three years of work have resulted in Darren creating a marvellous machine and it has not only been a journey of discovery but a learning experience too and, if you can come out of a build having created a stunning car and are now able to trim an entire interior, well, that’s a job well done as far as we’re concerned.
So complete is Darren’s L7, in fact, that the only thing left on his ‘to do’ list is a complete respray in Moonstone metallic, which is silver with a dash of pale frosty blue, that he says will happen eventually. But whilst this project may be all but complete it certainly won’t be his last. This is no surprise; what is a surprise is that his next build won’t be a 7 Series, with Darren fully committed to adding an E3 saloon, aka Bavaria, to his collection. Though really it’s a 7 Series in everything but name, being as it is the E23’s predecessor. While he hunts for one, though, Darren can enjoy the fruit of his labours and when that fruit is an L7, there’s a whole lot of enjoyment to be doing…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE Air-ride #BMW-E23 / #BMW-L7 / #BMW-L7-E23 / #BMW / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-E23 / #M30 / #BMW-M30 / #Pro-Tuning-Lab / #BMW-7-Series-L7 / #1979 / #BMW-E23-Air-ride
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 , fully rebuilt with all new parts and gaskets, rebuilt cooling system, #Pro-Tuning-Lab fuel pressure regulator, #MSD ignition coils, MSD 9mm wires, M62TU injectors, #Dinan Chip, brand-new factory full two-piece exhaust system and Silverline tips, four-speed automatic gearbox
CHASSIS 8x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) Impul Silhouette wheels with 205/40 (front) and 215/40 (rear) Falken tyres, custom built #Air-Lift air-ride suspension, #Air-Lift-V2 management system, #Powerflex polyurethane bushes, factory BMW steering parts, Bavarian-Automotive strut brace
EXTERIOR E38 front bumper, Euro front shark nose, Euro rear bumper, Euro rear quarter trim, new old stock Formuling Wind Splitters, Hella yellow French foglights in factory high beam location, bi-xenon high/low beams in main beam housings, xenon bulbs in the foglight housings, early E23 factory chrome mirrors
INTERIOR Complete interior tear down and makeover in Burnt Sienna Spice leather on centre console, dashboard, A/B/C pillars, rear parcel shelf, front seats, rear seats, headlining, sunroof panel, doorcards, door arm rest pulls, glovebox, driver lower dash, new old stock Italvolanti Formal steering wheel, E38 Contour front seats, heated rear seat kit, Harman Kardon speakers, Kenwood head unit, new old stock factory switches and custom-made chrome door lock pulls, E38 factory front under seat fuse panel placed in boot for air-ride system, custom wood flooring in boot, twin compressors, single air tank, E38 boot cargo net and rubber grips, re-wrapped leather bootlid liner to match the interior
THANKS Firstly a big thank you to Stephen Sayer for bringing the L7 into my life, as well as connecting me with the air-ride system, Italvolanti (through Rennstall), and the Impul Silhouettes, Timothy Polljonker at Bavarian Retro Classics for the hookup on difficult to find Euro trim pieces, Jason McAllister for, once again, bringing his amazing skills to the paint and bright work, Mark and Carlson for helping me grab and store the E38 front seats, my wife, Alyssa, for dealing with my late nights cutting out leather for the interior, and my mother in law Janet for helping me learn to sew complicated patterns
“I really enjoy the M30’s subtle grunt and its great sewing machine noise while idling”
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- Post is under moderationBASKING SHARK
The E24 6 Series is a masterpiece of classic design and one that with a just a few mods becomes something special. This classic CSi isn’t the sort of shark that’ll rip your leg off without hesitation or warning – it’s a mellow, low-and-slow cruiser. Although with 200hp-odd from the factory, you’d still do well to keep an eye on it… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Henry Phull.
“BMWs are in my blood,” says Henry Phull, as he nonchalantly rumbles to a halt before the photographer’s lens in his shimmering retro sharknose. This, of course, sets alarm bells ringing – you know what happens when you mix sharks with the suggestion of blood, you’ve seen Jaws. We step back cautiously and allow him to elaborate: “My dad had numerous Beemers when I was growing up, the most notable being an E24 M635CSi in red – that was his favourite car, and I’ve wanted a sharknose of my own ever since.”
It’s a story oft-told, the my-dad-had-one-of- those aspiration, and it’s played beautifully into Henry’s hands as he strategised the long game. Starting out his driving career in an Audi runabout before graduating to an E34 525i, the stepping stones were inexorably leading him toward an old-skool 6 Series… although when it happened, it came out of left-field, as it turned out that the lure of the E34 5 Series distracted him somewhat. “I just fell in love with the noise and the leather of the 525i,” he grins, “and after that I had a V8 530i, with both cars receiving Throwing Stars, coilovers and M5 interiors. I was then on the hunt for a 540i – and I test drove a few which turned out to be lemons – when a 635CSi turned up at the right price, in the right place at the right time…”
This move of celestial serendipity was enough to jolt Henry’s childhood dreams back on track. Receiving a message from a friend saying that a mate of theirs in the motor trade had just taken in an E24 in partexchange was enough to prick Henry’s ears up. He called the seller in question, who turned out to be vague on the details and sent over some low-quality photos of the car. Not a lot to go on, there – but it had one key hook: “It was white!” says Henry, triumphantly. “A white 635CSi is an uncommon sight, so I was interested.”
From there on in the whole thing was inevitable, really. The cherry on the cake was that the vendor was planning to put it into his bodyshop to freshen up the front wings and sort out any rust the car may have, and this – combined with the low, low price (undisclosed here, but undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime deal) – was enough to twist Henry’s arm. Although to be fair, it was already pretty much twisted. The chance to own the car of his childhood dreams? Yeah, you’d have been right in there too.
“I told him I would go up and view the car as soon as it was out of the paint shop,” he recalls. “A week later I made my way to Basingstoke to take a closer look. On first inspection the car was dirty and tatty, like it was in the photos I’d seen previously, but the paint was decent and they’d done a good job on the wings. It needed a few niggly things sorting; the floor was wet, the windows didn’t work properly, the indicators didn’t work, the engine had a couple of oil leaks and sounded tappy… but I decided that the car was being sold to me so cheap, it was worth the risk, and I could break it for more than I paid for it if the car turned out to be bad.” With no prior experience of owning M30-engined cars, this was something of a step into the unknown for Henry, but it represented more of the good sort of fear that you get from, say, rollercoasters than the bad fear you associate with axe murderers and PPI cold calls. And so a deal was struck.
Such was the thrall in which the E24 held Henry that he kept it completely bone-stock for a year before any thoughts of modifying crossed his bows. But inevitably the dark thoughts crept in, as they’re always prone to do, and he found himself bolting on a set of Throwing Stars (hey, stick with what you know…) and chopping a few coils off the springs. Appearances at a few shows yielded universal praise, although at this stage he was focusing more on maintenance than modification. But with the car mechanically tip-top and aesthetically up-to-scratch, it was time to do things properly.
“I’d always fancied split-rims, and this was the car that finally pushed me to do it,” he says. “I’d always gone with OEM+ wheels before, but I found myself scanning the internet, looking for the right splits.” He’d already decided that they had to be 17s or 18s, and initially favoured a mesh design that would evoke the CSi’s original metric wheels. But then a set of OZ Futuras popped up on Stanceworks and changed all of that.
“They were up for sale in Germany, and it was a bit of a scary purchase as they were used and I would never know the true condition of them until they arrived,” he recalls with a grimace. “I wasn’t even after this sort of wheel design but this set had gold centres; gold on a white car was what I wanted. It’s just so period-correct. A quick photoshop later and it was clear that they would look amazing!”
The specs were aggressive and Henry found that the judicious use of spacers would push them right into the arch lips in fine style. The next inevitable quandary, of course, was how to lower the thing…
This was a weighty decision indeed, with Henry having recently devoted himself full time to Slam Sanctuary, the site he founded to showcase badass low-down rides. He had to walk the walk, right? But at the same time there was a tight budget to consider – going it alone employment-wise is a financial tightrope. This was the initial impetus that swayed him away from air-ride and toward rolling static, although we all know that this is more than a cost-based decision; air vs coilies is a lifestyle thing. They both have their merits, but it’s down to how you use your car and what sort of character you want to give it.
A long chat with SS Autowerks resulted in a set of well-priced BC Racing coilovers winging their way to him, in drool-worthy Extra Low flavour with custom spring rates. To complement this new attitude to altitude, SSA also threw some engine raisers to get the M30 20mm further from the Tarmac which, brilliantly, raise the base of the sump above the subframe, so the car doesn’t even need a sump guard. Who says static rides are all oily heartache and tow trucks?
The vagaries and mechanical complexities of the E24 (shall we just call it quality engineering?) meant that the fitment of coilovers wasn’t a walk in the park, so Henry entrusted the job to the irrepressible Paul of Coltech Classics, who set about ripping out the MacPherson strut setup and welding the Extra Low units to the hubs.
“Paul said the BCs were a dream to work with,” Henry enthuses. “We couldn’t believe how low they allowed the car to run while maintaining drivability, I’d recommend them to anyone with an E24.”
The nature of Henry’s sloped driveway meant that the centre exhaust box was catching with these new-found lows, which gave him the excuse to rip the thing off and replace it with straight-through pipes – a nifty little fringe benefit – while some trimming of the rear arches was the final job Paul needed to carry out in order to make the thing day-to-day streetable.
And that, in a nutshell, was the realisation of Henry’s boyhood dream. You’ll note that the car’s exterior remains resolutely unmodified – “Why alter the body of an already beautiful car?” he reasons – and much the same is true of the factory interior, save from the addition of an MTech I steering wheel. This is textbook ‘stop, drop and roll’ stuff, and it’s all the better for it.
“The first show I took it to with the new look was the Players Classic, and the attention it received was just on another level,” he grins. “And then the BMW Festival at Gaydon… people were constantly asking me if it was bagged, which just goes to show what the right sort of coilovers can achieve.” Such is the menace of the bona fide shark; you don’t need to be flash – you just have to bare your teeth.
DATA FILE #BMW-E24 / #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-635CSi-E24 / #BMW-6-Series / #BMW-6-Series-E24 / #BMW / #OZ
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B35 / #BMW-M30 / #M30 , engine raisers, centre exhaust silencer removed, four-speed auto / #ZF4HP / #ZF
CHASSIS 8.5x17” ET13 (front) and 10x17” ET19 (rear) #OZ-Futura wheels with 25mm (front) and 30mm (rear) spacers and 205/45 (front) and 245/35 (rear) tyres, #BC-Racing Extra Low Type RA coilovers with custom spring rates
INTERIOR Stock with full factory leather, M Tech 1 steering wheel
THANKS Paul at Coltech Classics for going the extra mile to lower the car, Nick and Alex at SS Autowerks for supplying BC coilovers and engine raisers, Tom Etheridge for servicing and helping to maintain the car in his spare time, Paul at MVT Poole for general maintenance and always sorting me out at the last minute whenever there’s an issue, Simon and Nathan at The Wheel Specialist Bournemouth for assisting with fitment and tyres. Last but not least, my parents for letting me park the car in their garage!
“The attention it received was on another level!”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGloriously original Schnitzer 635CSi racer
A True Original Squirrelled away down in Australia you’ll find perhaps the most original Schnitzer E24 635CSi race car in existence – it’s an absolute peach!
‘It came second in every major race it entered’ – hardly a claim to fame, especially when it comes to a race car’s value post-retirement. Thankfully it’s not the only deciding factor, as this ex-Schnitzer 635CSi proves. Words and photography: Chris Nicholls.
A TRUE ORIGINAL
As with many things in life, originality is key. Whether it’s the arts, sciences, or even consumer goods, a truly unique idea or product will stand out. It doesn’t even have to be the best in its class. It just has to be one of a kind. The same can be said of racing cars. Tyrell’s six-wheeler was hardly the most successful F1 car of all time, but it’s still revered today because it tried something new. Similarly, this #Group-A 635CSi never won a single race in its life but its remarkable career, despite the lack of wins, and originality (being possibly the most complete Schnitzer Group A E24 in existence) means it truly is a standout car.
Now sitting in the Bowden Collection warehouse in Queensland, Australia, we decided our trip up there earlier this year would be a great opportunity to both shoot and delve into the history of this amazing machine. And thanks to the generous assistance of the Bowden clan, we were able to do just that. Looking into the car’s past, it’s perhaps remarkable such a storied machine could have started its career so badly. Entered into the 1985 European Touring Car Championship as the factory Schnitzer / #BMW #M-Technic car, chassis RA2-55 didn’t even finish its first three 500km endurance races at Monza, Vallelunga and Brno due to mechanical problems. And it only managed sixth and seventh at the Salzburgring and Nürburgring events respectively. And that was despite having drivers like Emanuelle Pirro, Dieter Quester and Johnny Cecotto at the wheel. A huge effort from both the team and drivers Quester, Oestreich and Cecotto did yield a second behind its sister car at the Spa 24-hours that year, but that was as good as it got in its European run.
Thankfully, the late-season pick-up in fortune meant British team manager John Siddle still decided to bring the car Down Under for the Bathurst 1000 later that year. Originally, he wanted the Spa winner, but given it ran the famous ‘parts car’ livery, one that would have cost around AU$10,000 to replace when it returned to Europe, Siddle settled on buying its sister car outright instead and had it painted in ‘Bob Jane T-Marts’ orange. After a complete rebuild by Schnitzer and testing by Quester, it ended up on a boat to Australia.
Remarkably (at least when viewed through the lens of 2016), this was fairly normal for the time. The team’s driver line-up for ‘the great race’ originally consisted of Nelson Piquet (whom Siddle managed) and Nikki Lauda, but a date clash with a Brands Hatch F1 race meant Johnny Cecotto and Roberto Ravaglia had to be flown in instead. To help ensure the best possible result, Siddle also brought in two Schnitzer mechanics and a BMW factory engineer to bolster the local crew.
Qualifying eighth, the bright orange 635 suffered a terrible start due to the kind of engine trouble Siddle had spent so much time and money trying to avoid. Thankfully it cleared by lap three, only to be replaced by a computer wiring fault on lap 17, which left the car down on power for the remainder of the race.
Despite this, after two hours in the car was up to fourth and eventually moved up to third behind the TWR Jaguars. At one stage it even snatched second place before a charging Peter Brock went past in his Commodore. Thankfully for the BMW fans, though, Brock’s timing chain later broke and chassis RA2-55 took its second consecutive number two spot in a major race. Rather frustratingly, a post-race inspection by the team revealed the wiring problem probably cost them a second a lap and therefore the win, but such is Bathurst.
After Australia’s biggest enduro, the Bob Jane car competed in an F1 support race at Adelaide, driven by none other than Gerhard Berger, before a brief retirement until the tail end of the 1986 Australian season. There, thanks to Garry Rogers (who now runs the Volvo V8 Supercars team) destroying his ex-JPS 635CSi at Oran Park, it was pressed back into service to run with Charlie O’Brien as the second driver at the Calder Park South Pacific 300 (where it finished seventh), the Sandown 500 (where it finished 11th) and once again at the Bathurst 1000, where sadly it DNF’d. Finally, the CSi finished off its racing career by being shipped to Japan to compete at the Fuji InterTec 500, piloted by O’Brien and Pirro, where it finished (yet again) in second.
Upon returning to Bob Jane’s ownership, the former racer and tyre magnate changed the vinyl numbers to replicate the 1985 Bathurst livery and left it at that, using it as a promotional vehicle at his various tyre and wheel stores around Australia. Indeed, it seems he thought little more about the car until he showed it at the 2012 Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne. There, a chance encounter with some Red Bull mechanics made him realise what a special piece of history he had on his hands.
According to current custodian Chris Bowden, these Red Bull mechanics were ex-Schnitzer and, after examining it, said to Bob they used to work on the car and they couldn’t believe how original it was. “They told Bob that it was the only one left of the original (Schnitzer) 635CSis,” says Chris.
Having realised quite how valuable it was, Bob decided to find some caretakers who could look after it better than he could, and thanks to being friends with the Bowden family, chatted to them first.
“Bob called us after that event and said, ‘I’ve just found out this car’s a lot more special than what I thought it was, and I think you should have it,” Chris explains. “So we started talking from that point onwards and a deal was struck not that long after.
Obviously it was Bob Jane [a man renowned for his business nous], so we had to pay – we had to pay well – but let’s just say all parties were happy and, to date, I’m yet to have seen another 635 like it. It’s just a time-warp, and its fantastic race history backing it up is really cool, too.”
Chris’s description of the car as a ‘time warp’ is apt. Looking over the car, you can see every little detail from its racing career remains intact. Outside, the completely original paint is chipped and worn, as are the wheel centres, and the aluminium fuel tank still has dirt streaks running down it. The windscreen even has a crack in it from its last race in Japan. Lift up the bonnet and bootlid and you’ll see every mechanical component remains untouched and the rubber seals are long past their use-by-dates. Even the tyres are the original Pirelli P7 slicks it last raced with back in 1986. Inside, the time capsule feel continues. The original Recaro carbon bucket is now completely yellowed by the ageing resin, while the kick marks on the doorcards and aluminium roll-cage, as well as the partly-faded plastics surrounding the switchgear behind the gear knob and shiny leather on the wheel itself, all further reinforce how old and well-used the car was. (On a separate note, the completely stock road-car gear knob, door panels and dashboard are a bit of a throwback, aren’t they? It’d be impossible to think about seeing such items on a modern race car).
The car’s originality and condition makes it all the more amazing that, far from leaving it as a museum piece, Chris has had it out for a test run at Queensland Raceway. Admittedly it was just one test, and the original ’80s tyres and safety gear meant it was hardly flat-out, but after getting his mechanics to ensure it all still worked, he did indeed drive it. And to prove that age never wearies a great car, Chris says it was still a peach and rather friendlier than his other Group A 635CSi – a JPS car we’ll also be featuring. “The JPS car is very much set up for sprint racing – it’s got a huge cam in it,” Chris says. “There’s literally nothing going on below 4000rpm. Getting it out of the pits is an absolute nightmare. And the JPS car (like all Group A 635s) runs a huge amount of caster and the gearbox ratios are extremely tight. It’s a real purpose-built sprint car. Whereas in the Schnitzer the clutch in it is quite friendly, the gear ratios are spread a little bit wider and it’s got power steering. It does run a pretty big cam, but nothing like the JPS car. It generates power from about 3000rpm; you could take the Schnitzer car to the shops.”
Of course, Chris says this doesn’t mean the car isn’t utterly vice-free, as it’s still “a little bit cranky” at low speeds, but for a purpose-built race car, he says it’s a nice drive and very clearly one set up for endurance racing, where outright speed is less important than ensuring the driver isn’t exhausted by lap ten.
Thankfully for race fans, Chris even says he plans to drive the car at future events, too, if only for demonstration runs: “This particular 635, given I’ve never seen another one like it – as original – I don’t think racing is what should be done with the car. I’d love to but I don’t think I’d be doing a favour to mankind by giving it a big rub or blowing up the engine or doing those things that happen when you decide to enter a race with a car. The JPS car, definitely, there’ll be a time in the future when we do race that, but the Bob Jane car, no. It’s a time-capsule – it’s something that should be kept for future generations so that in 30, 50, 100 years from now, when they talk about the early Group A cars, and the ones that ruled the roost and what they were really like, this car should be an example of that.”
Wise words indeed. We look forward to seeing the car on track at future events, where no doubt it will wow people with its originality, history and bewitching M30 song.
Above: The ‘Bob Jane’ 635CSi as it was when campaigned by Schnitzer in European events – this is it finishing second at Spa in 1985.
Looking over the car, you can see every little detail from its racing career remains intact.
TECHNICAL DATA Bob Jane #Schnitzer #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-635CSi-E24 / #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-635CSi-Schnitzer / #BMW-635CSi-Schnitzer-E24 / #BMW / #BMW-E24 / #BMW-Schnitzer / #Bob-Jane / #Getrag / #BBS / #AP-Racing /
ENGINE: 3475cc SOHC #M30 / #BMW-M30 straight-six, cast iron block, 12-valve alloy head, #Bosch injection, 310hp @ 6900rpm
GEAR BOX: Getrag five-speed gearbox
CHASSIS: Steel monocoque
SUSPENSION: McPherson struts, coil springs, shock absorbers, anti-roll bars (front), semi-trailing arms, coil springs, shock absorbers, anti-roll bars (rear)
BRAKES: AP-Racing four-piston callipers (f) and Lockheed two-piston callipers (r) with 297x26mm two-piece discs
WHEELS AND TYRES: 8x17-inch (f&r) BBS centre lock mesh wheels with 285/630 (f&r) Pirelli P7 racing slicks
For a purpose-built race car, it’s a nice drive and very clearly one set up for endurance racing.
The Bob Jane 635CSi that now resides in the Bowden collection retains a wonderful patina – it’s probably the most original E24 race car anywhere in the world.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSOLD FOR: £6820 / #1989 / #BMW-E24 / #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-635CSi-E24 / #BMW
This example was one of the last of the Highlines and had covered 111k miles. It came from a deceased estate, and had been put away in 2003 where it had remained unused since. A fine covering of dust obscured the #Zinnober red paintwork which looks like it would respond well to a good cut and polish and the black leather interior looks to be in good order. The lusty #M30 six-cylinder had been coaxed into life with some fresh petrol and idled smoothly while on site at Brightwells, although the car has yet to be driven and would obviously require recommissioning and a new set of rubber before use.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ #1972 / #BMW-3.0CSi-wide-body / #BMW-3.0CSi-E9 / #BMW-3.0CSi / #BMW-E9 / #BMW /
SOLD FOR: £42,750
Described as ‘an extremely rare example of a roadgoing aluminium wide-bodied lightweight BMW, with the looks and performance of a ‘Group 2’ #ETC car of the early 70s. The car was converted by #Alpina , BMW’s motorsport partners, we believe in the late Seventies’. This right-hand drive machine had had a three-year ground-up £80k restoration and featured a 3.5-litre #M30 straight-six breathing through three twin-choke #Weber carbs. We bet it goes well and at £42,750 it looked like good value given its restoration cost.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBMW Art Cars Ernst-Fuchs : #BMW-E24 / #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-635CSi-E24 / #1982 / #BMW-635CSi-E24-Ernst-Fuchs / #BMW-Art-Cars / #BMW / #BMW-6-Series / #BMW-6-Series-E24 /
The fifth of BMW’s Art Cars was the first machine in the series not to have been based on a race car
The fifth machine in BMW’s Art Car collection was quite a departure from what had come before for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was the first of the five cars that wasn’t a competition car – it never raced at Le Mans, which had been the main drive behind the four previous cars – and secondly, the artist, Ernst Fuchs, was the first one who wasn’t an American.
Ernst Fuchs, born in Vienna in 1930, studied sculpture and painting between 1943 and 1950. In the late 1940s he founded the ‘Vienna School of Fantastic Realism’ along with other young artists. Until 1961 Fuchs lived and worked mainly in Paris together with his fellow countryman Friedensreich Hundertwasser. From 1974 he devoted himself to music theatre as well as the design of scenery and costumes. With his increasing interest in poetry and music, his paintings became more intense in colour. As Fuchs was mainly known for his monumental paintings of saints, BMW had no idea what he was going to do with one of its vehicles. The answer was something completely different to what had come before as Cornelia Eibl, former director of the Ernst Fuchs museum in Vienna said: “With the Art Car he entered a new creative period. Painting this car gave a new drive to his pictures which can still be seen today and the BMW is the highlight from this time.”
Commenting on the 635CSi that he painted, Fuchs said: “A machine should not be made to look better. It has its own aesthetics. I call this car ‘Fire Fox on a Hare Hunt’. I see a hare at night running across the autobahn and leaping over a burning car – a primeval fear and a bold dream of surmounting a dimension in which we live. It shows me its colours, I read them in its lines, in its contours, I hear its voice calling out emphatically and see that beautiful hare leaping through the flames of love, averting all fears.”
In painting the car Fuchs drew very much on his own personal experience: “Leaving a burning car at the very last moment has happened to me before,” he said. “It is a very cathartic matter, so that is the incantation – nothing of that sort should happen.”
The car itself was a standard 1982 635CSi complete with its 218hp 3430cc #BMW-M30 / #M30 straight-six and it was never registered, driven on the road, or intended for use on track.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.