- 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 moderationGENERATION GAME / #BMW-M535i / #BMW-M535i-E28 / #BMW-M535i-Eaton-supercharged-E28 / #BMW-M535i-Rotrex-supercharged-E28 / #BMW-E28 / #BMW /
The UK’s only supercharged E28s are an impressively eclectic pair owned by an equally different father and son duo with a long-standing love of BMWs.
SUPERCHARGED UK E28s Classic Fives with power!
Owning the only two supercharged E28s in the UK, this father and son duo are the custodians of some seriously cool metal. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Woods.
BMW E28s are precious things. Long gone are the days when you could pick one up for £400 (like I once did) and with the vast majority of the shabby ones now having rusted away, those that remain need to be cherished. Whilst the E24 6 Series might be the obvious choice for those looking for something sleek and ‘sharky’ to slam, the E28 is currently getting lots of love, too. Last year no less than three bigpower classic Fives appeared in DRIVE-MY and there are plenty of extremely attractive examples around, like this pair, for example.
Kris Rourke and dad Jon are the custodians of this unlikely pair – one an exceptionally clean sleeper, the other more of a retro hot rod, with the two cars reflecting their owners’ personalities and motoring preferences.
The very clean red car belongs to Jon, with Kris driving the brown bad boy. While both cars are without doubt very different, they share one significant similarity: they are both supercharged. That elevates this pair from being merely modified to really rather special, not least because of how rare a thing a supercharged E28 is.
That father and son own E28s is unsurprising when you learn that Jon has been at it for years, which means Kris was destined to follow. “Dad’s always had BMWs and has had about six or seven E28s,” says Kris. “They were always in my life when I was growing up and my first car was a 2002ti, mum and dad’s 2002 in fact, which they gave me when I passed my test. It all started from there really. I’m also into Jap stuff and have had loads of J-tin, all modified and all with big power.” So the draw of another powerful, modified car was inevitable and the odds of it being a BMW were good.
Pay attention, because things get a bit complicated now. “Two years ago I had a Fiat Cinquecento and loved it but then my other half and I had a baby and I couldn’t get the baby seat in the car so it had to go. Dad had a blue M535i at the time so he gave me that as it was more practical and bought himself the red supercharged car. I then sold the blue one to buy dad’s red one, which is now my brown one, and when I started modding that dad realised he missed it and bought himself the red supercharged one he now owns.” Got it? Good.
For Jon, a London cabbie by trade, the appeal of the E28 is easy to see. “It’s a lovely retro classic car,” he says. “It stands out and it has road presence. All my previous E28s have been standard – as long as they go and work I’m happy,” he chuckles. “This red one is much more of a hooligan car, though. I was just looking around on eBay for interesting cars, spotted it and went for it. It had been in a garage for about seven or eight years and while the body was good, underneath it was rotten,” he says.
Not that you’d have any clue as to the car’s previous state of disrepair now thanks to the amount of time and money that Jon has invested in it. The whole floor has been repaired, as have the sills, while the suspension has been renewed and new brakes have been fitted. Jon also replaced the chrome exterior trim with Shadowline, while inside the original cloth seats have been replaced with leather Sport seats. Thankfully having a rust-free body meant one less area that needed attention and the red colour really looks fantastic on the E28. So too do the 17” Style 5s – easily one of the greatest wheel collaborations between #BBS and #BMW .
Of course, what’s really exciting here, on both these cars, is what’s under the bonnet, and these are the only two supercharged E28s in the UK. Jon’s car has the slightly more stock-looking engine bay, though there’s no missing the supercharger and its accompanying pipework. The kit here is a Jamsport setup, which cost whichever previous owner that decided to fit it a cool £6500, and uses a more traditional centrifugal supercharger.
This E28 may be no spring chicken but you can still appreciate the work that has gone into fabricating the pipework for the kit. It’s all expertly finished and assembled and there’s a lot of engineering squeezed into here. The most impressive part of this setup is the custom alloy rad, intercooler and associated pipework, which originally cost an eye-watering £5000 and comes courtesy of McLaren (hence the price tag and quality of the work itself). The FMIC is tucked behind the kidney grilles and ahead of the rad. On top of that sits an oil cooler for the supercharger, as this older design requires an external feed. It’s not for show, either, with Jon telling us that running at around 6-7psi it’s making 303whp, which is an awful lot of power in a car as light as the E28 and definitely makes it a bit of a handful. Not that he’s complaining, mind, he’s loved every minute of the 18 months he’s spent with the E28 – a long time for him as he likes to change his cars often.
And so we come to the brown E28, Kris’s rowdy, raucous, unashamedly showy counterpart to his dad’s more demure example. Kris was fortunate in that his E28 was in a better state, though as it had come from his dad that’s not much of a surprise. A quick glance at the exterior of the E28 is enough to tell you that there’s clearly something going on here. There’s a sort of rough-edged charm to the whole car, visible in the interior with its auxiliary gauges mounted on a bright red backing plate and that well-used Nardi steering wheel. Where the engine bay of the red E28 is a relatively discreet affair, on the brown car it’s much more of a mad scientist affair. What you’re looking at here is an extremely impressive home brew positive displacement supercharger setup.
In case you don’t know, a centrifugal supercharger produces more boost as engine speed increases, normally producing peak boost very near to the engine’s redline and where it would normally be producing peak power in naturally aspirated form. A positive displacement blower, like a Roots or twin-screw item, on the other hand, produces peak boost instantly, meaning you get massive low-end torque and immediate response from the engine when you put your foot down, making for awesome mid-range thump. Positive displacement superchargers are also a lot more complicated to fit.
Generally speaking they are large, bulky items that are traditionally mounted directly on a custom inlet manifold, feeding air into the engine via a chargecooler. In contrast, centrifugal superchargers are smaller and run cooler, so they can happily operate without any sort of intercooling. The fact that Kris’s car is running a positive displacement blower, an Eaton M90 to be precise, and a home-made installation at that, is very impressive.
Of course, the fact that it’s a homebrewed setup means that it wasn’t perhaps running as best as it could have been when Kris took over custody of the car. “I’ve improved a lot of things since I bought this E28,” he says. “It had no management for starters and was just running a fuel pressure regulator, so I fitted a Megasquirt ECU and had the cam blueprinted. I changed every boost hose and pipe and replaced the FMIC with a chargecooler.” This is that big metal box on the front left of the engine bay. It cools the intake air by passing it through a core filled with water, which is itself passed through and cooled by a heat exchanger mounted at the front of the engine bay, hidden beneath a clever lift-off panel. “This saw intake temperatures drop from 90ºC to 40ºC,” says Kris, “and I’m planning on adding methanol injection, which should bring them down to about 20ºC and help the engine make more power.”
The rather industrial-looking pipework under the bonnet is a bit of a maze but it all begins at the air filter which is shrouded in carbon and fed with cooling air via the hole in the front grille where the passenger-side high beam unit would normally sit. The air travels through the black flexi-pipe and into the supercharger inlet, then up through the outlet on top, round the back of the engine bay and into the chargecooler, through the core, and then into the original inlet manifold on top of the engine. The fact that the E28’s engine bay is quite capacious and allows for the supercharger to be mounted by the side of the engine and to feed into the original inlet manifold is a bonus. There’s a lot more beneath the bonnet beyond the supercharger, though, including a B35 Stage 3 head with bigger valves, a Schrick 296 cam and a Fritz’s Bitz exhaust manifold.
It’s a monstrously impressive installation but how does it perform? According to Kris, the car made 252whp, which is definitely enough to be getting on with, but also an amazing 350lb ft of torque at just 1800rpm, which is the beauty of a positive displacement blower. When Kris had nitrous on the car it ran an 11.8-second quarter-mile, which is extremely impressive and puts it in the company of cars like the Jaguar XJ220, Audi R8 V10 and Aston Martin V12 Vantage S.
“I took the nitrous off as I knew I would never really use it,” he continues. “I was too scared of blowing the engine up… but I might put it back on. I really want 400hp and the supercharger is holding the car back – it’s not making as much boost as it should and I need to run more boost to make more power.
I’m considering my options. I might rebuild the supercharger or I might go for a turbo conversion. It’s quite a lot of money but it would definitely mean I could hit 400hp. And I like the idea of having a turbo. I have 90% of the parts I need, so I’m almost ready.”
Of course, we can’t discuss Kris’s car without discussing its colour. It’s not paint or a wrap but is, in fact, Plasti Dip – the spray-on, peel-off rubbery coating that can provide a quick and easy way to change the colour of your car and then change it back again when you get bored! “I was approached by DipMyVehicle, who offered to dip my car for free in exchange for having it on the company’s stand at the Santa Pod show, so I went for it,” Kris explains. The colour is called Sunset bronze. Although it may look pretty brown when the light hits it there’s a subtle change in colour and you can see a light metallic element in the coating. Combined with the aggressive drop on Spax springs and black, 19” CSL-wheels it makes this E28 into a bit of a bad boy.
The brakes have also been uprated, with E34 540i discs and calipers front and rear running Mintex pads, while the gearbox is a 260/6 unit running the ratios from the E28 dog-leg transmission with a separate bellhousing, Black Diamond Stage 3 clutch, and modified centre donut on the propshaft.
Both cars have had a vast amount of time and effort devoted to them – Jon’s car on the bodywork and Kris’s on the mechanicals – but the results speak for themselves. E28s need love and attention so we’re delighted that this father and son team stepped up to the plate.
It’s a lovely retro classic car. It stands out and has road presence.
DATA FILE Eaton supercharged E28 M535i
3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 , compression ratio lowered to 8.1:1, #B35 Stage 3 head with 1mm bigger valves, #Schrick 296 cam, B35 inlet manifold, 550cc injectors, #Sytec FPR, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, 8-micron fuel filter, CDA carbon air box with cold air feed, custom crank pulley, #Eaton-M90 supercharger, ported top hat, custom charge cooler system, #Brownlow alloy radiator, Fritz’s Bits heat wrapped manifold and full system, #Megasquirt ECU running MS2. 252whp, 350lb ft wtq
/ #Getrag-260/6 gearbox with separate bellhousing, #Black-Diamond-Stage-3 clutch, modified centre donut on propshaft, factory #LSD / #Getrag-260
8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) M3 CSL wheels with 225/40 (front) and 245/35 (rear) Bridgestone tyres, #Bilstein gas dampers all-round, #Spax lowering springs, polyurethane front torque arm bushes, E34 540i discs and floating calipers front and rear, #Mintex racing pads all-round
Plasti Dipped in Sunset bronze over original #Zinnobar red, driver’s-side high beam removed for cold air feed, clear front and rear indicator lenses
Standard E28 M535i leather, three-spoke Nardi leather steering wheel, M5 gear knob, Innovative wideband #AFR gauge and boost gauge in centre pod
Paul Higgs, Ed at Fusion Motorsport and Justin from dipmyvehicle.com
DATA FILE Rotrex supercharged E28 M535i
3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 / #M30 / #BMW-M30 , #Rotrex supercharger, custom alloy radiator and intercooler system, 440cc injectors, #Gotech-Pro-X-ECU with custom wiring loom, #Ram air filter, Fritz’s Bits manifold and exhaust system. 303whp @ 7psi
Standard M535i dog-leg ’box, standard factory LSD
8.5x17” (front) and 9.5x17” (rear) #BBS-RC090 Style 5 wheels with 225/40 (front) and 245/40 (rear) tyres, #Bilstein dampers, uprated lowering springs, front and rear strut braces, #Black-Diamond drilled and grooved discs, EBC Redstuff pads
Zinnobar red, dechromed, clear front indicator lenses,
Standard M535i leather seats
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- Post is under moderationGiant road test #BMW-635CSi-E24 vs. #Mercedes-Benz-380SLC-C107 / #Mercedes-Benz-380SLC / #Mercedes-Benz / #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-E24 / #BMW / #Mercedes-Benz-C107 / #Mercedes-C107 /
The two luxury coupes from #BMW AG and #Mercedes-Benz are not only impressive with shapely elegance. As expensive top models they combine luxury with performance. On the Boulevard of longing drive them way ahead.
What a nice car, I muse, while the BMW 635 CSi E24 slowly moving in its me. I sit in the Mercedes 380 SLC, its contemporary counterpart, both with exactly 218 hp. Both once with a price of just under 60 000 marks as expensive. The six is a six-cylinder, which follows the SLC Daimler privilege and provides an eight-cylinder, whose supple sovereignty is supported by a four-speed automatic.
I look through the wide, but low Mercedes-windscreen on the shark-like face of BMW. The typical brand dual headlights act not aggressive, but determined the distinctive kidney is modeled perfectly in the center. It is stamped from the plate, and not merely a cheap panel as detailed in the later sevens.
The beautiful BMW turns a wide circle arc in the courtyard of fairgrounds in order to place next to my Mercedes. Here I see clearly its elegant profile. I notice the low waistline with the large side windows as well as the bold wheel cutouts on.
The slightly short wheelbase, otherwise like criticizes the six acts from my perspective hardly disturbing. True beauty, I think, always has something to do with sexy imperfection. Deep relaxed I sit in the Mercedes on a wide blue leather chair, have before me the large star-wheel with the strange cattle engraved around the rim.
Even a mundane SL or SLC is here the common 200D is, there is not a privilege of athleticism - but the tachometer.
Sound and form in harmony
The frameless side window of the silver blue SLC is half open. So I hear the sonorous sound of the BMW unobtrusive, gently modulated by only one shift. His driver rotates, probably inspired as well, cocky a few circles too much. It is the perfect accompaniment to the attractive form, this unheard cultured shakes the whole force of its 304 Newton meters casually from the front pipe.
The interior of the Mercedes animated indeed to such contemplative viewing of sound and style. Dignified burled walnut, blue, light patinated leather with intense odor and familiarity that radiates all, also just been criticized steering wheel calm. The SLC is as an Abraham-lap, which makes you forget a lot of kilometers, but also defeated an accelerated procedure. From the rugged beauty of the SLC I've always been convinced even with car connoisseurs with a strong sense of aesthetics I had to justify it often.
When SLC running length compared to squat SL Roadster something of beautiful, and the proportions jubilant 36-centimeter longer wheelbase.
Even the louver windows, derided by others as a styling gimmick, I find downright erotic and consistently. For lamellae, if you will, can also be found in the rear lights, the radiator grille and in the basement of the profile again. The almost dome-shaped rear window of the Mercedes also is one of the specific details of this extravagant form that created chief stylist Friedrich Geiger. Paul Bracq, in earlier years of Mercedes-services nor father of pagoda, Stroke Eight and tailfin Coupé, drew the six, who despite their beauty offers less formal extravagance, but polyphonic harmony as the SLC.
The irrationality of the V8
The photo tours on the open fairgrounds be completed with restrained dynamics, no tire squeal, no kickdown. The automatic wins just once in third gear, their shifts are barely noticeable, speeds above 2500rpm hardly be achieved on the smooth asphalt Fair. My SLC obeys precise, accelerating gently, but firmly, steers easily with a little game about the central position, also comes very familiar and Daimler-typical. Acoustically it pleased me even more than the BMW, the casual-cool flap-flap-flap of the rather low volume aluminum eight-cylinder makes a nice accompaniment to quite emotional feeling of the heavy car. Got serious about only later, on the highway.
Only then I will give him the spores to use his time in proverbial tests revving to rapid acceleration. I want to hear when the soaked Flap-flap-flap a hoarse staccato, and sense when the shifts are tougher. No one believes that under the beautiful bodywork of the SLC, the Stroke Eight chassis infected. It has with its rugged wishbones front and semi-trailing arms rear reserves without end. Although he was raised to brave understeer, could beat him at long-distance rallies like the Bandama transverse drifting on gravel roads.
Finally switch to the long-awaited BMW six that will catch me again, by neutralizing my SLC euphoria slowly. I even had an E24, a mild 628 CSi of the first series, of course, with ZF three-speed automatic (ZF3HP 22). Our 635 CSi comes the second series, uses a platform already more mature in quality and driving dynamics fives E28 instead of playful E12 with its pronounced tendency to oversteer. I sit much higher in BMW, the ambience is dominated despite leather of cool functionality. The steering wheel is exaggerating it so, it seems strange mannered.
For sheer driving pleasure
But I feel nevertheless probably already with its dominant driving position affects the 635 CSi gripping. The large bulbous, super-elastic six-cylinder, which you can also drive in third gear, pawing already just above the idling speed with the powerful hooves. He wants to show what it can do, and with him the whole six-ser.
Sometimes I look instinctively to first gear left behind, but the Getrag five-speed gearbox a protected and no sports transmission. The handling of the nimble BMW is clearly better than that of almost ponderous Mercedes - he looks much more alive, the shorter wheelbase provides advantages in agility, the steering is direct and the car feels much total curve willing to.
The switching cars irritates course much more for turning the gears, subjectively created when 635 CSi the impression significantly more overwhelming temperament. The running gear, MacPherson struts in front and oblique handlebar rear, bought streets not position by hardness. Again, the six remains exemplary harmony. He is a sports car, but not an ascetic, the feeling of space front came luxuriant, the build quality is solid.
Nevertheless, it remains a typical BMW, as the SLC is a typical Mercedes, with more opulence in the cylinders and in space, rather than command Lounge Chair armchair. At the end of the SLC wins the duel just because he is the better GranTurismo, and because I'd rather go with him from Hamburg to Milan.
I almost forgot what is for a racy car of sixes. The back - torrential form, the high driving dynamics, the exciting motor. At 635 CSi of Sport weighs - dare in Gran Turismo. When formally equally enchanting SLC is reversed. Despite the actual superiority of the BMW my heart beats for the V8.
The 635 CSi is a luxurious sports car and the 380 SLC a sporty coupe. Motor Klassik editor Alf Cremers.
Mercedes-Benz 380 SLC, C107 ( #1981 ) FACTS & FIGURES
ENGINE Type #M116 / #Mercedes-Benz-M116 , water-cooled eight-cylinder V-engine (cylinder angle 90 degrees) Bore x stroke 92 x 71.8 mm, displacement 3818 cm3, output 218 hp at 5500rpm, max. Torque 299 Nm at 4000 rpm, compression 9.0: 1, five crankshaft bearings, cylinder heads and block made of light metal, Reynolds 390, cylinder surfaces with silicon grain, per cylinder bank an overhead camshaft, driven by duplex chain, arranged in parallel valves via cam followers operated mechanical injection Bosch K-Jetronic, transistorized ignition, oil content 7.5 liters engine
TRANSMISSION DB-automatic, four-speed planetary gearbox with hydraulic torque converter, rear-wheel drive
BODY AND CHASSIS Self-supporting steel body, front double wishbone, coil springs, stabilizer to crossmember, rear oblique beam axle, springs screws, stabilizer, front and rear auxiliary rubber springs, servo recirculating ball steering, disc brakes, a. W. ABS, wheels 6.5 J x 14, tires 205/70 VR 14
WEIGHT Wheelbase 2820 mm, length x width x height 4750 x 1790 x 1330 mm, weight 1650 kg, fuel tank capacity 90 l
PERFORMANCE AND CONSUMPTION Vmax 215 kmh, 0-100 km h 9.5 s, consumption 14.5 liters / 100 km
CONSTRUCTION AND NUMBER All C107 1971-1981: 62,888 copies, 380 SLC 1980-1981: 3789 Pieces
1 length runs, the slender silhouette of SLC also benefits from lush wheelbase. 2 Melodious 3.8-liter V8 from light metal in the early version with 218 instead of 204 hp. 3 The SLC is a true four seats, not scarcer 2 + 2, part in blue leather. 4 A beautiful face, chrome instead of aerodynamics, headlamp washers as a fine extra. 5 The 107er has pioneered the new star designs with. the typical profile luminaires. 6 air, leather, burr walnut, the SLC-feel-good interior.
Mercedes-Benz 280-500 SLC
The SLC is a relic of time before the rust prevention was improved when 107er. The complex technology is not to be underestimated.
Before buying you should definitely pay attention to bubbles in the paint which are manifested mainly on the headlights, in the lateral games, in the rear wheel arches and the area of the rear side portions of the rear window. Here a duck to swan is often painted with a new selling paint - that goes for Roadster and Coupe. Rust problems manifest themselves when 107er also the boot floor, on the A-pillar, the side sills, at the jacking points and at the tips, where they flow into the wheel arches.
Recommendable are the eight-cylinder with cast iron block, not only because they provide with good care extremely high performance, but also because of its wonderful bass-heavy sound. The problem child mimes the DOHC six-cylinder M110 whose elaborate cylinder head must be overhauled frequently at 200 000 kilometers. For such an overhaul one will go after all the 4000 Euro. A typical problem is the excessive play in the steering, it is a full-proposed steering gear fault. After long periods the fuel injection (D or K-Jetronic) can cause problems.
When introducing 1980 (Mercedes-Benz 380 SLC) ..................... 57 700 Mark
Classic Analytics Award 2016 (State 2/4) ..................... 19 500/3500 €
From Mercedes-Benz is a healthy supply of spare parts. Although the prices are not low, but apart from equipment parts rare variants you get just about anything. Rare Spares there may be the 107er-Club (www.mercedesclubs.de).
CLUBS AND SPECIALISTS
Mercedes-Benz R / C 107 SL Club Germany e. V., Krieger 40, 42115 Wuppertal, Tel. 02/695 02 44 66, www.107sl-club.de
SLS GmbH, spare parts for older Mercedes-Benz models, Industriestrasse 2-4, 22885 Barsbüttel, Tel. 040/656 93 90, www.sls-hh-shop.de
Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, Stuttgarter Straße 90, 70736 Fellbach, Tel. 07 11/173 00 00, www.mercedes-benz.com/classic-center
Fender bow and floor plates
2 wheel arches and end points
4 A-pillar and sill
5 boot floor
6 windshield frame
8 timing chain (380, 500 SLC)
9 Transmission Automatic
10 Steering Gear
BMW 635 CSi, E24 ( #1984 ) FACTS & FIGURES
ENGINE Type #M30 / #BMW-M30 / #M30B34 , water-cooled six-cylinder in-line engine, bore x stroke 92 x 86 mm, displacement 3430 cm3, output 218 hp at 5200 rpm, max. Torque 304 Nm at 4000rpm DIN, compression 10.0: Operated 1, cast iron block, cylinder head made of light metal, seven crankshaft bearings, a overhead camshaft, driven by duplex chain, two v-shaped arranged valves per cylinder, of rocker arms , Three ball whirlpools-combustion chamber, electronic fuel injection #Bosch-Motronic , map-controlled ignition, oil content engine 5.75 liters
TRANSMISSION five-speed manual transmission, a. W. with sporting character, ZF four-speed automatic transmission #ZF4HP with torque converter, rear-wheel drive
BODY AND CHASSIS
Self-supporting all-steel body, front MacPherson struts, lower wishbones, stabilizer, rear trailing arm, spring struts, coil springs, stabilizer, ZF recirculating ball power-power steering, disc brakes front and rear, wheels 6.5 J x 14 (aluminum), tires 205/70 VR 14 or 202/55 VR 390 TRX on specific TR-aluminum wheels
WEIGHT Wheelbase 2626 mm, length x width x height 4755 x 1725 x 1365 mm, weight 1475 kg, fuel tank capacity 70 l
PERFORMANCE AND CONSUMPTION Vmax 225 km / h, 0-100 km / h 8.0 s, consumption 15 l / 100 km
CONSTRUCTION AND NUMBER E24 all models: 86 224 copies, 635 CSi: 45,213 copies
1 Typical BMW: factual cockpit of clear, edged rigor, driver-oriented
2 Leather in pearl beige blends well with lacquer in graphite metallic, no sport seats
3 The great Bracq design has only one drawback: The wheelbase is 2.63 m too short
4 Unfortunately something installed. Under throttle bodies and ECU lives the M30 six-cylinder
5 The impressive front end with an evil eye the chocolate load side of the six
6 Check Control in Italian: Is the oil level?
BMW 630 CS and 635 CSi Early sixes are very susceptible to rust. The second series from 1982 are located not so much love for detail, but is much better in quality and rust prevention.
Especially from the early models up to 8/1977, which were built entirely by Karmann, had only a few receive. Rust is found mainly on the fenders, the floor plates in the engine compartment and the front spring strut domes. To inspect the rear wheel arches and the spring dome, the trunk liner is removed. Besides - the help to look at the moldings and bumpers, because here replacement is expensive. From little things like fatigued gas pressure regulators of the bonnet, defective motors for window regulators and sunroofs or frayed leather seats and the six will not be spared.
The six-cylinder M30 is practically just go on forever - if one starts with regular maintenance and the engine is not cold chasing what provokes cracks in the cylinder head. Pay attention to rattling noises, because that might indicate broken-camshaft, rocker defective or worn rocker arms. Bearing failures are very rare, since the crank mechanism is designed such that it without grumbling turbocharging or the high-performance four-valve head from the M1 and M 635 CSi endures. Are they well treated, then keep the Getrag manual transmission and the ZF automatic transmission as long as the motor.
When introducing 1982 (BMW 635 CSi, 2nd series) ........................ 56 750 Mark
Classic Analytics Award 2016 (State 2/4) ..................... 23 000/4000 Euro
Technik replacement is easy to get on the E24. The second series from July 1982 shall be based on the widely used E28 fives, and there are equal parts with the first sevens. The early models with E12 technology prepare few problems except for equipment and trim.
CLUBS AND SPECIALISTS
BMW 6 Club (E24) e. V., Wolfgang Krammel, to Weiden 11, 40764 Langenfeld, Tel. 021 73/752 50, www.bmw6er-club.com
Walloth & Nesch Spare parts for classic BMW, Im Ohl 69, 59757 Arnsberg, Tel. 029 32/90 04 50, www.wallothnesch.com
BMW Group Classic, Petuelring 130, 80788 Munich, Tel. 089/38 22 70 21, www.bmwgroup-classic.com
Fenders and floor panels
2 hidden accident damage
3 sills and door bottoms
4 strut towers front
5 Headlight (refl)
6 tie rod ends
7 rear wheel, wheel arches
8 Rear axle
9 cylinder head
10 Motronic control unit
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- Post is under moderationTHE JIGSAW MAN
Take one exceptionally clean E28 535i, slather it in a whole heap of Hartge goodies and this is the ravishing result. Sweden’s Christopher Björåsen has developed a habit for E28s that borders on the obsessive. This Hartge tribute throws into focus just how easy it is to get carried away with trying to find matching period upgrades… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Hjalmar van Hoek.
There’s a line between a homage and a poor imitation, and it’s not always a thin one. If you’ve got, say, a bone-stock E36 320i and you replace the badges with those from an M3 and maybe slap on a set of wheels from a better-spec’d model, that’s not going to fool anyone. It’s just a bit embarrassing, claiming it’s something it’s not. If, however, you spent some time collecting a variety of appropriate parts, building the thing up piece by piece, you could be onto something – M3 wheels with the appropriate brakes behind them, the suspension, the body addenda of the superior variant, the interior accoutrements and embellishments, the hallowed drivetrain… you’d be incrementally building something genuinely interesting there. It’s never going to be a real M3, but with care, patience and dedication, you can make a fairly close approximation. That’s a decent homage, a tribute, a job done well.
So it is with the E28 5 Series you see here. It’s not a genuine Hartge E28, but its owner, Christopher Björåsen, is slowly but surely ticking off the details to make it a thoroughly respectable homage. The idea he’s shooting for here is a sort of modern interpretation of the old Hartge H5S; the legendary aftermarket tuner (who, incidentally, was approved as a manufacturer in its own right in 1985, a couple of years before Chris’s own 535i left the factory) raised the 3.4-litre M30’s power output from 218hp to 240hp, then tweaked various elements of the car to suit. The suspension was uprated and necessarily lowered and some spangly wheels appeared. Front and rear spoilers were bolted on – naturally, it was the Eighties – and a lesser H5 variant was offered based on the 528i powertrain. Most importantly of all, it had in your- face side-stripes. Again, Eighties. All of this forms a neat picture of what Chris sought to emulate and, given the inherently retro nature of the concept, we can assume that it’s an aspiration that’s been simmering away for some time, right? “Er… no, not really,” he says, cutting us down in short order. “The first time I saw an E28, I thought it was really ugly. I was about 12 years old, I was at a friend’s house, and his grandparents came down the street in a stock beige 5 Series. I thought it was horrible. I couldn’t think why anyone would choose to buy such an ugly car.”
Well, that’s a pretty damning analysis. But time makes fools of us all and, as you’ve no doubt guessed, Chris’s sensibilities toward shark-nosed Bavarian executive saloons has mellowed somewhat over the decades. “A few years after that, when I was 18 and working toward getting my driving licence, I was at a local hangout on a Friday night when this maroon E28 with the M package and 17” Contour wheels came drifting around corner with its straight-six screaming… from that moment I flipflopped, and decided that I had to have one!”
Now we’re getting somewhere. If only that elderly couple had been a bit more aggressive in their beige runabout, maybe the ball could have got rolling a little bit earlier! But heigh-ho, here we are, and things seem to have turned out all right in the end. As luck would have it, a friend of a friend happened to have an 1983 528i for sale at this time, so with a fresh licence in hand, Chris pulled the trigger on a new era of sharkfancying.
Which is rather a lot cooler than the average first car. “From the first time I drove it I was hooked!” he enthuses, revelling in the heady stew of rich, tasty memories. “I did a few small mods on it – lowering springs, 17” throwing stars and so on – but after a year I managed to slide it into a lamp post and totally trashed the front end. So that was the end of that one.”
But by this point, of course, the passion was set in stone. Grown-up Chris was thumbing his nose at his 12-year-old self, the enthusiasm for E28s growing ever stronger by the day. That early foray is something he describes affectionately but realistically as “just my first E28”, and there have been an impressive seven more since, ranging from a daily-driven 518 up to an M535i. He’s really been ticking the boxes across the model range, keen to try every flavour. This is beginning to border on obsession.
The story of this suave Hartge-alike begins with its predecessor, the aforementioned M535i. “That was a Lachssilber example that I modded quite a lot,” Chris recalls. “I experimented with all kinds of different springs and dampers to get it low as well as quick, but one day my eye was caught by a 535i on a Swedish E28 forum. The owner had just bought a 635CSi and was thinking of selling the saloon, so I called him straight away to go and have a look at it! Since I already had a 535 in good condition and this one looked like it’d cost a bit much, I told myself that I was only going to take a look and I wouldn’t be coming home with it. But, boy, was I wrong! The thing was in mint condition. It was love at first sight.”
The car, it turned out, had been sold new in Nuremburg in 1987, and had stayed with the same owner right up until 2007, covering just 82,000km. At that point it found its way over to a new Swedish owner, who kept it for a couple of years before passing it onto the keeper who ended up selling it to Chris. It’s a pretty rare thing to be able to trace back the entire ownership of a car of this age, so that almost makes the purchase worth it in itself.
And the fact that the fella who sold it to our plucky hero had thrown a lot of cash at the chassis was the real clincher. “It had E34 M5 brakes and E28 M5 anti-roll bars, as well as new arms and bushes,” Chris says, which made it seem pretty attractive. “He’d started the Hartge theme, too, although when I bought it a lot of things were stock 535i – the wheels, the dampers and so on. So the first thing I did was to throw on a set of coilovers.” The units in question are superadjustable #XYZ Super Sport items, something the manufacturer describes as ‘suitable for daily use and weekend racing’ – perfect for Chris. They also help the car get nice and low, taking the original old-school Hartge stance and refracting it through a modern filter. These new lows were swiftly augmented by a set of Hartge Type C threepiece splits that were already waiting in the garage, destined for the old M535i but suddenly feeling far more appropriate for the new project. And from this point on, the car became a sort of cross between a jigsaw puzzle and a retro treasure hunt.
“With the Hartge decor on the exterior and the wheels to match, I started hunting for the other period parts to complete the picture,” he explains, casually tossing into the conversation a concept that actually represents months of tireless and exhausting scavenging across the internet and beyond. Inside the car, complementing the leather dash and nifty heated leather M-Sport seats, you’ll find a Hartge steering wheel, gear knob, gauge cluster with unique rev counter, and the sought-after finned dead pedal on the floor. It’s all as Herbert Hartge would surely have intended in there, and the exterior was shaping up rather neatly, too.
Working alongside the stripes ’n’ rims combo are an M5 front spoiler and a #BBS spoiler on the bootlid, and it’s worth noting as well how utterly, mind-bogglingly clean the whole thing is. It’s a proper period-tuned showcase.
Now, as previously alluded to, Hartge’s own approach to tweaking the M30 motor was to liberate an extra 30hp+ by fiddling with the fuelling and ignition, as well as reworking the cylinder head and fitting a redesigned exhaust manifold. This isn’t the route that Chris has gone down, although his straight-six is rather feistier than you might expect. “I bought a genuine Hartge exhaust manifold from a guy in Montenegro, and I made a custom 2.5” stainless steel exhaust to fit,” says Chris, eager to assure us that his classic homage isn’t all mouth and no trousers. He’s certainly added some bark to it. “Because I run so low, and the oil pan on the M30 sits so low anyway, I had to modify it to stop it from hitting the ground all the time,” he continues. “It now sits 28mm higher from the road. I’ve had too many close calls, so this just seemed to make sense!” Indeed it does – particularly when you factor in that this car isn’t just harddriven but daily driven, too.
“The reaction to the car has been great. E28 fans around the world really seem to love it,” Chris enthuses. “I even had Stanceworks’ Mike Burroughs getting in touch to talk about it. But I’m not finished yet, far from it… I’m still always on the lookout for period-correct Hartge parts for the car; I’ve already picked up a Hartge rear wing, and I’d really like a matching valve cover, too.” He seems keenly aware of the performance-oriented nature of the original H5S as well, and he’s certainly not done with the engine. New cams are on the cards, along with some head porting and a fresh management system, which should pull everything beyond that tweaked 1980s power figure. There’s talk of rebuilding the wheels, too, to provide a bit more dish from wider lips. Again, it’s all about reworking that classic tuning for the modern era.
Subtle, but devastatingly effective. So no, this isn’t a genuine Hartge H5S. But with every day that passes, it gets closer to being a faithful replica, with a few fun tweaks to contemporise it for modern use and a new-wave audience. This is no disrespectful parody. This is a loving and aspirational homage, and it just keeps on getting better.
Interior boasts Sport seats, leather dash and Hartge gauges, gear knob and steering wheel.
“With the Hartge decor on the exterior and the wheels to match, I started hunting for the other period parts to complete the picture”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E28 / #BMW-535i / #BMW-535i-E28 /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 / #M30 , #Hartge exhaust manifold with custom 2.5” stainless system, custom oil pan, modified oil pump, five-speed manual.
CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front) and 9.5x17” (rear) Hartge Type C three-piece split-rims with 205/40 (front) and 215/40 (rear) tyres, XYZ Super Sport coilovers, E34 M5 front brakes with braided lines and E32 750i master cylinder, E28 M5 anti-roll bars (25mm front, 18mm rear).
EXTERIOR Period-style Hartge stripes, #BBS-Sport boot spoiler, M5 front spoiler.
INTERIOR Full leather dash, Hartge gear knob, Hartge steering wheel, Hartge gauge cluster, #Hartge-RPM gauge, #Hartge dead pedal, black leather electric Sport seats.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationIT ALWAYS TAKES THE 39 STAGES TO PAINT OF BMW AND SOMETIMES IT TAKES 40 / #BMW-635CSi-E24 / #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-E24 / #BMW / #Promo / #1981
The finishing touches to the BMWs on the right didn't come from #BMW , #Alexander-Calder , #Frank-Stella and Roy Lichtenstein made those final brush strokes.
The result, however, as you might expect from BMW, is more than just a piece of modern art. For each of these cars have actually raced at tracks ranging from #Le-Mans to #Nurburgring .
And in those races they were a moving demonstration of BMWs philosophy that, in an era of mass produced cars, there's still a place for the individualist.
If you find the examples on the right a little too ostentatious, the philosophy is equally well reflected by the more sober example on the left: the BMW-635CSi-E24 . Individualism, after alt is never to be equated with exhibitionism.
Rather, in the world of motoring, it concerns the ability to create a car that's an extension of the driver’s personality.
And that means we won't start building a BMW 6 Series E24 for you until you've specified tow you'd like it built (a procedure which partly explains why we’ll only be able to build around 6.000 BMW 6 Series E24 for the entire world in 1981).
So even without resorting to the 40th stage of the painting process, we still offer you the pick of 19 different colours.
Each one can be co-ordinated with any of a dozen different upholsteries, seven of which are in the supplest of leathers.
The attempt to create a precise match of machine with man goes well beyond the choice of creature comforts.
The gearbox, for example, can be three speed automatic, five speed overdrive, or five speed sports close ratio.
For though others may be prepared to make automatic transmission compulsory, to us it reveals an inflexibility that belongs more to the world of mass production Even the engine of the BMW 635CSi E24 is continually adapting to your driving style.
Up to 100 times every second its computer re-tunes the engine to enable it to extract the maximum amount of power from the minimum amount of petrol.
Which explains too surprising facts: First, that this 3.5 litre engine actually develops more power than the 4.5 litre engine of another sports coupe.
Secondly, it uses up to 30% less petrol than sports coupes of similar performance.
For not only does exhibitionism have no place in the BMW concept of individualism, neither does wanton extravagance Of course, constructing a car for individuals is more costly than building a vehicle for the masses.
The BMW 6 Series starts at £16,635 for the new #M30B28 / #M30 2.8-litre #BMW-628CSi , and £18,950 for the #M30B34 #BMW-635CSi .
Which is no more than cars that are still several stages away from being a BMW.
THE ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE 1981
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- Post is under moderationSHARKNADO #BMW-E24 #BMW
Rampant in VW Tornado red, this Hungarian E24 6 Series is one seriously sexy animal, boasting air-ride and custom 18s. Finished in VW Tornado red, sitting on bags and a truly unique set of wheels, this classic Six is coming on strong. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: #Si-Gray .
Sometimes we come across a car that stops us in our tracks and that’s exactly what happened when Máté Szőcs’ red E24 popped up on the PBMW Instagram feed. When that picture appeared on our iPhone, we knew the car in question was destined for the pages of this magazine, though Máté was blissfully unaware of this at the time. He was sitting at home in Hungary over 1000 miles away from the PBMW headquarters, possibly staring out of the window at his sexy E24, though we can’t be sure. But we reached out to him, and by a stroke of good fortune both he and the car were heading to annual car-fest Wörthersee in Austria, putting him within shooting distance of a gaggle of photographers and suddenly we had a feature on our hands.
A feature of what, exactly? Well, it’s an awesome, shiny red 6 Series and the first interesting thing is that this is an early 635 (from 1979), which aren’t very common. This makes it E12-based, which means it’s got the square E12 instrument binnacle. However, it also means it’s got the E12’s cool rotary heater controls, and if you can’t get excited about a BMW’s heating controls, you’re not a true enthusiast…
The other, more striking and arguably more exciting thing is the wheels. Yes, they’re gold but you might well be looking at them and thinking that they look pretty big. And they are, because they’re 18s, and that’s definitely not something you see on a 6 Series of this vintage very often. 18s on an #E24 is brave, tucking 18s on a bagged E24 is impressive. But what the hell are they? Well, first of all our UK readers will have to educate themselves on the Chrysler LHS, a rather bland American saloon sold both in its home country and Europe in the late ’90s. If you Google said sedan, you will see that the first generation cars often came fitted with some intricate if rather uninspiring 16” wheels. But Máté didn’t see small wheels from an American car, he saw potential and was struck by inspiration.
Previously he’d already managed to squeeze a set 18s on his Six (a stupidly wide complement of #OZ-Futuras , measuring 10” up front and 11.5” at the rear), so he’d already done the research and hard work required to get a set of 18s squeezed under the arches. The Futuras were subsequently sold, meaning the 6 Series needed a new set of rims and after a wheel like the Futura you don’t want to downgrade, which would be all too easy.
A set of 16s might not seem like the greatest place to start from when you’ve got dreams of show-stopping wheels in mind, but Máté knew where he was going to take these, and that involved turning them into three-piece splits, stepping them up to 18s before polishing the lips to within an inch of their lives and painting the centres gold. The end result is nothing short of stunning – the wheels definitely look big on the classic Six, but not stupidly so and the complex spiral centres look like they were designed using a Spirograph (turns out you can still buy them!). Compared with the OZs, the fronts here are a slightly more modest 9.65” while the rears are once again an arch-busting 11” wide. Not only are they a proper showstopping set of wheels, they are absolutely unique and that in itself is a massive achievement, so hats off to Máté for nailing it so comprehensively.
Of course there’s more to this car than its wheels and the bodywork that surrounds them is no less impressive. From the sound of things this E24 was less than mint when Máté got his mitts on it, which is unsurprising considering how badly they can rust when not looked after. It had spent ten years in a garage so there were a lot of parts that needed changing in order to make it driveable once more and then it was a case of Máté putting his own stamp on it.
The front wings have been widened by a surprisingly modest 15mm, just enough to help those front wheels tuck up into the arches, while the rear wings were replaced altogether and the arches rolled. With all that bodywork going on a respray was required and Máté fancied a fresh new look for his freshly finished Six: “Picking a colour was not easy,” he says, “I knew I did not want a metallic colour and in the end the colour I liked the most was VW Tornado red.” This is the colour you see before you now and it looks perfect on the 6 Series.
Initially, this Six was static but then Máté decided to go down the air-ride route, partly for the practical aspect but mainly, we suspect, because he reckons it looks great with the car. No-one makes an off-the-shelf air-ride kit for the E24 so this was very much a custom job, using bags with the original dampers. It definitely works on all fronts and what’s arguably most impressive is just how flipping low this car goes even sitting on 18s. Inside, where you might expect to find an all-singing, all-dancing high-tech air management system, Máté has kept things decidedly old school with a pair of simple switch and analogue gauges and their utilitarian look sits well with the rest of the interior… Hold on. Are those E46 Sport seats? Yes they are. Okay. That’s different. It also has a wooden gear knob and an original BBS steering wheel; well, it’s a bit of mix, then, but you know what? It works, it really does, despite the fact that it’s not the sort of combination most people would go for but then again this whole car is not your straight down-the line sort of build, really.
As for the outside, well Máté has worked some serious magic out here too – all the mouldings have been removed and the whole car has been colour-coded in black and red. Where normally the E24 6 Series is sharp and angular, here it looks so very different, smooth and slippery and these subtle changes have made a big difference when it comes to the car’s appearance. The combination of super clean exterior and those big impact wheels is a heady one that really delivers a knockout visual blow. It’s a devastatingly good-looking car, pure automotive sex and quite unlike any other 6 Series we have seen, which makes it instantly both brave and brilliant and we love it.
DATA FILE #BMW-635i-E24
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.4-litre straight-six #M30 #M30B34 , dual 2” exhaust system, five-speed manual gearbox, LSD.
CHASSIS: 9.65x18” (front) and 11x18” (rear) #Chrysler-LHS16 ” wheels rebuilt as three-piece 18s with gold centres and polished lips with 215/35 (front) and 245/35 (rear) tyres, custom air-ride setup with air bags over original dampers.
EXTERIOR: Resprayed in #VW-Tornado red, dechromed, side mouldings removed.
INTERIOR: #BBS steering wheel, E46 Sport leather seats, wooden gear knob, manual air-ride controls with dual analogue gauges.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFIVE ALIVE #Alpina-B10-E28 #1985
The 5-Series B10 E28 is a near-perfect Q-saloon, a little less refined than the M535i, but gloriously quick.
Alpina's B10 engine is essentially a #M30B34 BMW 92x86mm 3,430cc six doctored by Herr Bovensiepen's merry men to produce 260PS at 6,000rpm and 254lb ft of torque at 4,000rpm instead of the standard engine’s 218PS at 5,500rpm (DIN) and 229lb ft at the same 4,000 engine speed. Those figures represent 19 per cent more power and 11 per cent more torque, to propel what is essentially the same body assembly as you would find in the production #BMW-E28 #M535i-E28 , which has just started to come on to the British market.
There are other changes compared with the #M535i #E28 tested in Autocar, 16 January. That car was fitted with the relatively wide-ratio, overdrive top five-speed #ZF gearbox, allied to a 3.07 final drive, and ran on 220/55VR390 #Michelin-TRX tyres on 165mm (6 ½ -in) rims. The same car can be specified with the closer ratio sports-five- speed Getrag gearbox found on the Alpina test car, which also had a higher (numerically lower) final drive (2.93 to 1) and slightly different tyre sizes front and rear — 205/55VR16in front. 225/50 VR16in rear. Tyres are #Pirelli P7s on 7in and 8in wide rims respectively. What that array of figures boils down to is that the Alpina car is geared overall at 24.52mph per 1.000rpm in fifth — perfect for its apparent maximum speed when measured against obvious tyre losses on the 2-mile circumference Millbrook banking - where the standard M535i’s nearest comparable gear, fourth, is slightly lower geared, at 23.49 mph per 1,000.
Alpina, which is not prone to the unwisely immodest claims of some conversion firms, says that the 5 series #Alpina-E28 B10 is capable of an absolute mean maximum speed, measured properly as the average of runs in each direction on a clear level road, of around 155mph. The Millbrook banking’s fast lane has a hands-off maximum speed of 100 mph — in other words, in windless conditions, you can lap it at 100 mph without having to hold the steering wheel. The faster you go, the more you have to push the car up to a non-existent steeper-inclined lane of banking - and the more of the engine’s power is lost overcoming the energy used by the tyres in supplying the necessary side force.
So it was that, in spite of a 12 to 17 mph wind at Millbrook, we recorded a timed lap speed of 146.9 mph. with a best speed during the lap of 148. Since all three #Alpina cars tested are particularly quick, it had been planned to take the trio to Germany for a proper autobahn measurement of their respective true maxima, but the last bout of traditional February weather put paid to that, most irritatingly, until after these exclusive Autocar reports had to be written. In our experience, 147 mph round Millbrook is equivalent to something appreciably higher in level road maximum speeds, so we are more than inclined to believe Alpina here.
Returning from the general to the particular, the 5-series #B10 is a near perfect O-saloon. The normal #BMW-M535i-E28 doesn't feel quite as fast as it is, partly because it is pretty refined. The Alpina is very little less refined, but it does feel quick, most gloriously quick. The engine’s power delivery is extraordinary; you perceive this most dramatically not in full-blooded start acceleration — although even in the slightly damp conditions in which we figured it, that is more than dramatic — but when measuring the acceleration in one gear. The engine has all of the usual delightful #BMW flexibility. so that in fourth gear it is not difficult to take figures from 10 mph (500 rpm) and it pulls well from 1,500 rpm (30 mph). The power comes in extra strongly a little earlier than you expect, from around 55 mph (2,800 rpm) — but almost as if one of the more mildly tuned turbochargers suddenly started working, there is a perceptible
extra boost at around 4,000 rpm (close to 80 mph, the torque peak in fourth). You can see the effect of this interesting power curve by looking at the 20 mph interval times for any of the intermediate gears; normally, certainly in a highish gear like fourth, the interval times are shortest in the upper middle speed range, as they are here, but appreciably longer before. In the Alpina case, they begin to drop below six seconds between 40 and 60 mph (2,000 to 3,100 rpm) and stay that way right up to 100, in spite of the cubically rising requirement of power to overcome drag.
The standing start advantage over the normal wide-ratio M535i is best shown in the table; when looking at the getaway to 30 mph, it must be remembered that the Alpina had to be tested in not quite dry conditions, so that in spite of its 25 per cent limited slip differential, its power had to be limited carefully to reduce wheelspin.
All this is done with such ease and, relatively speaking, considerable refinement — even if after the 2.5-litre 3-Series C2 Alpina #E30 , one is reminded that the first of BMW’s modern sixes (the 86x71.6mm, 2,495cc 2500) was the smoothest it ever made, the subsequent enlargements being progressively a little less so. Fuel consumption overall was measured during generally less demanding conditions than for the #M535i , so not too much should be deduced from the fact that we recorded 17.7 mpg for the normal car, and 22.5 for the Alpina. Generally, we would expect no penalty for the extra performance of the Alpina if both cars were driven identically, but a small advantage in the latter’s favour.
The stiffer springing of the Alpina is obvious in a more choppy low speed ride which however smoothes out highly acceptably as the speed rises; one is never uncomfortable in the car, partly but not entirely because of the superbly locating driving seat. Flandling benefits usefully; the Alpina is, as usual, not such a handful as the standard car, even if you obviously have to be careful with such a power-to-weight ratio at low speed and in the wet. It sticks very well, with initial understeer — not much, in typical BMW fashion — and its change to oversteer is less severe and easier to control than normal. Stability is excellent in a straight line.
Overall, this is the ideal conversion — entirely complete, as its brakes are up to the job, and everything is done properly. A big, well-tuned engine for the size of car is always far, far preferable to any turbocharger job, and the Alpina B10 5-series E28 is a perfect example of how to make such cars.
Standing start acceleration (secs)
Mph M535i 5-series
0-30 2.8 2.8
40 4.2 3.7
50 5.7 5.5
60 7.4 6.8
70 10.4 8.6
80 12.9 10.4
90 15.8 12.6
100 19.5 16.0
110 24.4 19.5
120 30.8 24.2
130 42.2 31.3
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- Post is under moderationPOWERHOSE ALPINA #1986
Now imported into Britain the Bavarian #Alpina-B9 -3.5 is a blisteringly fast version of BMW's Five Series #E28 saloon. In its performance the car simply has no peers.
The world's fastest production saloon comes from Bavaria. At a glance, the four-door powerhouse looks very much like a humble 118mph #BMW-518i-E28 . but when the throttle is opened, this inconspicuous metamorphosis of a Five Series BMW will instantly blow off any five seater rival - from Munich's own #BMW-745i-E23 , through the #Mercedes 500SE #W126 to Jaguar's XJ 5.3 HE. On an empty stretch of road, preferably dry, the car will top an honest 153mph (that's it, one hundred fifty-three) with the tachometer needie nudging the redline at 6100rpm. The lair of the performance giant is in the picturesque village of Buchloe halfway between Munich and the Tyrolean border, where a performance car addict called Burkard Bovensiepen has devoted himself to the production of very special motor cars named Alpina. But now, there’s a brand new British connection. BMW (GB) have just begun importing Alpina converted cars, plus Alpina parts and accessories, and Sytners, the Nottingham dealers, are to build and retail the cars. This first model, the B9, costs £22,894, and will be sold here at a rate of about 40 a year, something which will ensure the B9’s exclusivity.
Alpina’s latest creation wears the full model designation B9-3.5. Burkard Bovensiepen explains: ‘We used "A” to cover our development of BMW's small fours, and B labels the modified sixes. The figure ‘‘9" denotes the ninth improvement we made to this unit, and 3.5 of course, indicates the engine capacity.'
The #Alpina-E28 B9-3.5 is based on a BMW 528i #M30B28 fitted with a revised big-bore 3.4-litre slant-six #M30B34 BMW engine that is also used in the #735i #E23 saloon and in the #635CSi #E24 coupe. In true #Alpina tradition, the standard BMW engine undergoes thorough modifications, in the course of which the power output is increased from 218bhp to a very effective 245bhp at 5700rpm. ‘Top priority is more torque, better acceleration and a significantly higher top speed', marketing manager Gunter Schuster explains, ‘but the one thing we did not want to end up with was some nervous, pseudo racing car powerplant that would inevitably be hit by reliability problems and excessive thirst, would be difficult to service and too fragile for everyday use’.
Bovensiepen, who hates being called a mere car tuner, and engine specialist Wolfgang Siebert together set out to breathe new life into the engine without affecting its longevity and serviceability, but with the ambitious aim of at the same time increasing the power output and improving the fuel economy. The engines getredesigned camshafts, the compression ratio is raised from 9.3 to 10.2 to one, their special, balanced pistons have a quench zone for superior thermodynamic efficiency, and the cylinder head with its hemispherical combustion chambers, like the inlet manifold, are shaped and polished to make the gases flow more freely. Other modifications include revised fuel injection settings and minor changes made to the #Bosch #Bosch-Motronic engine computer that monitors fuel feed, ignition and exhaust emission.
‘While many so-called tuning firms often just attend to the engine without touching the rest of the car, we don’t do anything by halves,' Bovensiepen claims.
‘Like all our products, B9-3.5 has uprated suspension and a redesigned interior.’ To teach the basic #BMW-528i better road manners and to attune the chassis to the extra potential of 61bhp more than standard, suspension expert Alois Wiesinger fits progressive-rate coil springs, specially developed adjustable #Bilstein gas-pressure shock absorbers and 16in alloy wheels, shod with fat 205/55VR #Pirelli P7 tyres at the front and with even wider 225/50VR rubber behind. To improve wet road traction, a limited-slip differential with a 25percent locking ratio is installed. The long-legged Getrag five-speed gearbox is taken unchanged from the standard production model: a three-speed automatic is optional.
Although the 'basic' B9-3.5 is a vastly understated car that can only be distinguished from its mass-market brothers by its wider wheels and tyres, most buyers opt for the full Alpina trim pack which includes a prominent front spoiler, a black rubber lip on the bootlid and several feet of contrasting stripework stuck on the flanks, which gives the car rather boy- racer looks. According to Alpina, the aerodynamic aids are ‘an absolute necessity’, which help redTjce the aerodynamic drag factor by 9.0 percent, increase the top speed by 6.0 mph, cut front axle lift by 57 percent and rear axle lift by 4.0 percent. The spoilers are also claimed to have a positive effect on the car’s exceptional high-speed fuel economy. The Alpina B9-3.5 returns 37.7mpg at a steady 56mph and 30.9mpg at a constant 75mph, but even with the speedo indicating 125mph-plus wherever possible, the 245bhp Bavarian bullet will better 20mpg. Our hard- driven test car averaged an astonishing 24.1mpg over several hundred miles.
Inside, the Alpina B9-3.5 feels far sportier and more purposeful than a standard #BMW-528i-E28 . The well-contoured bucket seats and the rear bench are trimmed in the ‘house colours' - black, blue and green. The tacho and speedometer wear Alpina logos, the dished, rather big-diameter standard steering wheel is replaced by a four-spoke leather-rimmed device, and an anodised vehicle identification plate mounted on the dashboard identifies the test car as the 20th B9 to leave Alpina, ‘makers of exclusive automobiles’. Standard equipment also includes a sophisticated sound system, tinted glass, electric door mirrors and a rear axle oil cooler. Extra cash can buy any option listed in the official #BMW brochure; such goodies as ABS anti-lock brakes, air-conditioning or electrically operated windows.
Without extras, a B9 sells in Britain at a premium of £7400 over the already-expensive #E28 #BMW-528i-SE . ‘I know that our cars are not exactly cheap,' Gunter Schuster concedes, 'but Alpina cars do offer a unique combination of performance, prestige and exclusivity. Our production capacity is limited to a mere 200 cars per year, and less than half of those will be sold abroad. At present, our export efforts concentrate on Switzerland, France, Japan and Britain. The UK will soon be number one export market for us.’
When you first sit in the relatively confined cabin of the B9, the environment is not as familiar as expected. The firmly- padded seats have little in common with the soft velour- trimmed originals. Alpina's own buckets seem to wrap your torso in a cocoon, minutely adjustable in rake, reach and height. The heavily-modified engine under the short, square bonnet sounds alien, too - marginally less civilised than the #528i unit, it answers all throttle inputs during warm-up with a hoarse, growl, impatiently awaiting the departure from city limits. The quick steering is ideally weighted to cope with really fast motorway esses and zig-zagged country lanes. In town, however, it feels a bit slow and slightly heavy, and it takes a firm hand to keep the car on course when longitudinal ripples make the fat wheels tramline. The handling is tough and precise, not sharp or nervous. Quickly and willingly the Alpina turns exactly where it is pointed. Treated decisively but with due respect, the Alpina is close to the perfect partner - responsive, precise, fairly docile; never acting on its own initiative.
This obedience makes the #Alpina-B9-3.5 reassuringly safe, even at very high speeds. Stability and imperturbability are perhaps the two qualities which impress most. Even at 140mph the big saloon will cut through motorway bends with surprising ease and unerring precision. Back off and brake to stay clear from an overtaking truck, and there will be no drama: the rear end may go a little light while the nose is pressing into the road, and you may have to reduce lock an inch to maintain your chosen line, but that is all the car will need. The body remains composed and stable, trusting the chassis to sort out the conflict of forces. The fact that bump steer is virtually absent and that the camber changes are minimal also pays off on really bad roads tackled at speed. Here the #B9 doesn't even pretend to be a comfortable car- what the suspension cannot absorb is transmitted faithfully to steering and seats - and occupants- butthe reactions and reflexes of the chassis make up for it, by tying the car firmly to the ground when others would have lifted wheels.
Like the model it is based on, the Alpina oversteers at the roadholding limit. But compared to a standard Five Series BMW, the car from Buchloe has enough oomph to hang its tail with superb control where its tame brother rolls and lurches rather more.
The B9 can be pushed sideways with power, even in third or fourth gears, and in the wet, any overdose of torque needs to be administered with extreme caution. I remember drawing enormous black marks on the road in second gear when a nudge of the throttle promptly kicked the back out in the middle of a tightish corner - exciting, spectacular, but expensive and, ultimately, slow. I tried the bend faster and in third and, voila, the car bounded through on the edge of a well-behaved four-wheel drift, smooth and faster. The rear wheels broke eventually, when I floored the accelerator, but the control was very satisfying. It takes some time to get attuned to the Alpina's behaviour at the limit, indeed to actually locate precisely where the limit lies. At that stage, the owner will admire and respect the car's abilities in full.
Put your mind to it. and the big Alpina will rush from 0 to 60mph in 6.8sec and in under 18sec from standstill to 100mph. Floor the throttle when lazily strolling along in fifth at 40mph. and the car can be doing 75mph in 15sec. Rev the engine to 4500rpm in first and second, and the maximum torque of 231lb ft will spin the fat P7s with ease. The Alpina B9 is a high performance car, but it is neither a rowdy handful only macho men can tame, nor a perfectly neutral, totally domesticated tool for beginners. It is a blend of both characters - competent, fast, and a lot of fun. What irony that the most desirable BMW saloon was not conceived by the original manufacturers themselves.
Alpina B9 buyers can have car in standard BMW trim or go the whole hog with spoilers and side stripes. Alpina say first are necessity.
Cabin is distinguished by sporty trim on seats, #Alpina logos on dash and four-spoked steering wheel. Much modified version of BMW 3.4-litre six replaces standard 2.8-litre engine under bonnet, pumps out 245 bhp at 5700 rpm for genuine 153 mph top speed. 6.8 sec 0-60mph. Engine flexibility is excellent, economy remarkable.
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- Post is under moderationDESIGNER OUTLET
The #E28 is one of those BMWs that doesn’t need much to make it look good, as this exceedingly clean example proves. What better way to appreciate the important contribution Claus Luthe made to BMW design than with a super-slammed and super-cool #BMW-E28-M535i . Words: Gitter. Photos: Kevin Raekelboom.
If we asked readers of this magazine to recall the name of a BMW designer, whom do you think they would remember? Would it be a modern stylist like Chris Bangle or Adrian van Hooydonk? The answer would probably be dictated by the youth of the model that person drives or which side of the ‘flame surfacing’ debate they sit on.
If we asked the same question of Swiss enthusiast Daniel Hauptmann, we are convinced he would immediately pull Claus Luthe’s name out of the air because this stunning #1985 E28 #M535i is the fourth model he’s owned that originated from Luthe’s drawing board.
Arguably the most popular of all BMW’s chief designers, Claus Luthe penned the proportions and styling cues that informed the appearance of the most fondly remembered machines in the Munich marque’s back catalogue, including the E28 and #E34 5 Series, #E30 and #E36 3 Series, and #E31 8 Series coupé. The E28 was the first production car to benefit from Claus’ rectilinear approach, although the model was actually a comprehensive reworking of the outgoing #E12 . Despite this inauspicious reality, Daniel still regards the E28 as “the most iconic and wellproportioned 5 Series ever made”.
You can see why the 34-year-old mechanical engineer feels this way. He’s evidently mature enough to realise that the car’s razor-sharp lines and thrusting sharknose front-end are a million miles from the organic curves, confusing intersections and almost apologetic, pedestrian-friendly faces of many modern vehicles. Think about it this way: How often do we ever see a crisp, unbroken belt line that runs through the full circumference of a car these days?
Because of his sympathy for the car’s standout design, Daniel resisted the temptation to alter anything externally. All the subtle cosmetic details that identify the M535i as a product of the M-Technic team are still present and correct: colour-coded bumper covers, deeper chin spoiler, side skirts and rear valance with ribbed graphic, subtle wheel arch extensions, rear boot spoiler and ‘M’ badge. There was, however, some rust to address in the engine bay and tired paintwork elsewhere. Therefore the only item you will find in the Tech Spec box that relates to its outward appearance is the inclusion of a meticulous respray in the original Polaris metallic paintwork.
Instead, Daniel is attracting attention through other means – an impressive combination of belly-scraping ride height and super-rare alloy wheels inspired by vehicles on the StanceWorks website. Most examples of the M535i were not specified with the optional Bilstein suspension upgrade, so Daniel had no misgivings about removing the car’s original springs and dampers as they are shared with lesser models and not particularly special. In their place now resides an HP Drivetech air suspension system custom-developed for this project at huge expense.
Details of this conversion are scarce, as HPD does not list the E28 among its normal #BMW applications. All we know is that it is based around #Bilstein shock absorbers modified to include height-adjustable bellows instead of springs. These are driven via a neatly plumbed air management system in the boot. The components here are mounted on a bed of aluminium panels butted up together in an intriguing Tetris-like pattern that is an attractive contrast to the symmetry of the compressor and solenoid units.
When Daniel bought the E28 in #2011 it was already missing its M-Technic rims, which is a shame as they are one of the car’s most unique elements. But let’s not get overly sentimental about originality because this set of 18” BBS beauties is a worthy replacement and ticks every box in a wheel whore’s check list. Much to everybody’s surprise, Daniel reported that the wheels were unearthed locally. And considering the countless hours put into polishing and rebuilding each of the three pieces, we wouldn’t be surprised if they had been literally unearthed.
Interestingly, the wheel was traditionally supplied in a staggered fitment, the RS 285 being of a narrower 8.5” width for front-end fitment compared to its RS 286 sibling that features a 9.5” width and slightly longer slanted lip to fill out broader rear-ends. But fitting the same size wheel all the way around and relatively narrow 215/35 tyres allowed Daniel to set the geometry in such a way that the wheels could post themselves up into the arches on maximum suspension drop without having to modify the metalwork.
For the most part, the interior is similarly unmodified, apart from an eye-catching item of contemporary literature on the parcel shelf and some subtle suspension-related controls in the lower console.
The engine bay, however, is totally original, which makes a pleasant change from the magpie-like obsession many people have with aftermarket ancillaries. Although the 3.5-litre (actually 3428cc) #M30 straight-six in the M535i is not an M-Technic powerplant, this European variation was not strangled by the catalyst installed for the North American market. It was therefore able to run a higher compression ratio that resulted in more bang for your buck – in this instance 218hp and 224lb ft torque. After fixing a number of electrical and mechanical gremlins, Daniel is now convinced the engine is humming along beautifully.
Indeed, the car’s first outing was something of a baptism of fire; not only in terms of distance but also for the possibility of receiving criticism from enthusiasts of an entirely different brand. Daniel chose a specialist Volkswagen meet at Wörthersee, in the south of Austria, to debut his new project. Would it stand out among the hordes of modified Veedubs, he wondered? More to the point, would it even make the 700km journey?
Fortunately, the BMW ran faultlessly there and back and was really well received by the gathered enthusiasts. And why wouldn’t it? At the end of the day, we’re all car fans and we all appreciate fine examples of automotive art; especially when, like the E28, it is recognised as a vehicle that defined the appearance of many future generations of BMWs. We’re sure Daniel left Wörthersee having converted a few more to Luthe’s looks.
DATA FILE 1985 #BMW E28 M535i Tuned
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 , standard Getrag 265 five-speed gearbox.
CHASSIS: 8.5x18” ET13 (front and rear) BBS RS 285 alloys with 215/35 #Dunlop tyres, HP Drivetech air suspension.
EXTERIOR: Resprayed in original Polaris metallic paint.
INTERIOR: Air-ride lines in boot, aluminium panel lining.
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