- Post is under moderationOUR CARS MARK B’S E30 M3
/ #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-S14 / #resto-mod /
As I write this, last week was the first Retro Rides Gathering at Goodwood and a date I had marked in my diary a good few months back. The chaps at Retro Rides always put on a good show, with their August events at Shelsey Walsh being just about my favourite of the year. Goodwood was a first, though, and with a combination of static show and track action it was also going to be popular. There was also bound to be a good selection of classic BMWs, with many having a resto-mod flavour.
Personally though, I was looking forward to getting my E30 M3 out on track and enjoying all the hard work done over the past year or so. Living in Cornwall is lovely but the only real downside is everywhere being so far away. I could have camped at Goodwood but opted to use Airbnb and find myself a place to stay close by instead. Before leaving, though, I figured I would get local valeters iShine to come work their magic and get the M3 looking its best. Much as I love my car, detailing just isn’t my thing! I also did a thorough spanner and fluid check to make certain all was as it should be, before loading my suitcase and crash helmet, then heading off towards Goodwood. In fact, it was Chichester I was staying at and the journey up couldn’t have been better. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the M3 was in its element on the twisting A roads of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. Being so warm, as I headed through the New Forest I opened the windows and enjoyed the induction noise, with pops and bangs from the exhaust on overrun. It had to rank as one of the best journeys I’ve done in the M3. I arrived at the #B&B in good time and was up early on Saturday, getting petrol en route to the circuit, with the sun still shining.
Goodwood is a fantastic circuit. It’s fast and flowing, with some double-apex right-handers that really suit the E30 M3. The warm ambient temperature also meant the Nankang AR-1 tyres were at their best and I was looking forward to putting them through their paces. I knew they were good from using them on the street but that simply doesn’t compare to lapping a circuit. On a track day I would have dropped cold air pressures to around 20 psi but this was a sprint format that consisted of a standing start from the pit lane and two flying laps. There was also a second chicane that had been added to the back straight, in an effort to slow things down a little. There were morning and afternoon sessions, with 40 cars in each that were divided into groups of five. Cars were released one at a time, with about 15 seconds between them, so as to spread the cars out on track. Overtaking was also forbidden. The track action was always going to be about fun rather than competition with such an eclectic group of cars anyway. I had a Studebaker ahead of me and a ’60s Ford Galaxy behind, so you see what I mean.
My first two laps were more about remembering the corners than pushing the limits of the car. Even so, it wasn’t long before I found myself riding the rear of the Studebaker. I backed off, enjoyed the views and once the gap had grown again, nailed the accelerator, enjoying the sound of the S14 revving up toward its redline. I know I’m biased but it sounded glorious. In the past I have always tried to short-shift the gears and get the M3 settled into the corners, carrying as much speed as I can.
I must say I was incredibly happy with the performance of the #Nankang-AR-1 tyres. The levels of grip were excellent right from the off and they were certainly consistent. My first introduction to Nankang was of a cheap tyre most often used by drifters and, if honest, there was a bit of a stigma attached to the name. It is pretty clear that Nankang have done some serious development and, as a control tyre for the #M3 cup, the general consensus was it’s a very good tyre indeed. It will be interesting to see how well they last, when compared to the likes of the Toyo R888R, but their performance is certainly next level. Yes, they’re not exactly ideal in wet weather but they were never meant to be. It’s hard to see how you could get a better track day tyre for the money, though. The only negative being there isn’t quite the choice in sizes I would like, but hopefully that may change in the future? Anyway, big thanks to Ben Lawson at Nankang UK.
The M3 runs KW Competition suspension and it felt so planted, really giving me the confidence to carry so much speed through the corners. My previous experience had been with my old #BMW-325i-Coupe-E30 race car but the M3 is in a whole other league. As I passed the chequered flag I was able to scroll through the various readings on the Stack dash display and everything was well within the limits so we rolled around to the paddock and awaited our next laps.
Whilst sat in the paddock we shuffled our group of five cars around, with the M3 going first as it was the fastest. Now I could really push on without catching slower traffic, although I was also mindful of this being fun and not competitive. As we had a few minutes I was able to take a look at some of the other cars and especially the other BMWs. How about a 1970 1600-2? I love ’02s anyway, but this one belonged to James of JFi Classics in Brecon. James and I have been friends for a few years now and he has put together some terrific cars. This ’02 has a real sting in the tail, with a supercharged #M42 under the bonnet. The registration plate FLY is pretty apt and the whine of the supercharger is phenomenal. There was also another E30 M3, but rather than being powered by an S14 it has what was the first #LS1-V8 conversion. Power is around 450hp so it was always going to be quick. My personal favourite is a car I have known since I first discovered BMWs 30 plus years ago! It’s a 2002 Touring but with M30 3.5 power and triple Weber carbs. It has to be said, this is just about my perfect ’02 specification and a credit to Ian Elliott who has built and developed it over many years.
As time came around for my next laps, James from JFi’s son jumped in as a passenger, having never ridden in an E30 M3 before. Obviously with such a valuable cargo I wasn’t going to go 10/10ths but after the first lap we were both enjoying the performance of the M3 and all those clichés that have been written for the past 30+ years. The second lap was certainly my quickest of the day, carrying more speed through Woodcote and braking hard for the right, left of Chicane as we entered the pit straight and crossed the finishing line. It was as we passed that line the dash warning light flashed and the Stack display showed ‘Low Oil Pressure!’ accompanied by the unmistakable sound of bearing knocking. I immediately killed the engine and coasted to a halt. My weekend had just taken a nosedive.
The next half hour was mainly spent staring in disbelief. I had done everything I could to guard against this scenario yet here I was, looking at yet another incredibly expensive engine rebuild. What I just couldn’t understand, though, was why? The reason I had installed the digital dash display from Stack Ltd, was that it allowed me to keep a close eye on exactly what goes on with the engine. The custom rad, larger oil cooler and baffled sump were also fitted to allow the S14 to be used as it was designed to be, on track. I’ve been almost obsessive in keeping watch over fluid levels and temperatures yet here I was with another engine failure. As you can imagine, my enthusiasm for the rest of the weekend took quite a knock so I opted to get the M3 transported back home so that ARM could get the engine out and back to the builder.
A could of days later Joe at ARM took off the sump and it was soon clear that cylinder number one’s big end shell had spun. Added to that, the rest of the bearings look to have worn prematurely and you’d never believe this was an engine that had run for just 300 hours. What we couldn’t see though, was a reason to explain the failure and without that I couldn’t rebuild and gamble that it could happen again.
The next couple of days saw me calling and emailing anyone with experience of using BMWs S14 in competition. They all agreed that I appeared to have taken pretty much every precaution and both the ECU and Stack memories confirmed that there were no excessive coolant or oil temperatures, the engine had never been over-revved and the only thing that was shown was a momentary (and pretty catastrophic) loss of oil pressure. It was then that I mentioned that the crank had been subjected to a +0.75 regrind and it is this that seems most likely to have been behind the failure, due to its removing the nitriding that gives the crank strength. In fact a few people have since told me that they just wouldn’t regrind an S14 crankshaft at all, let alone as much as +0.75 and that I need a new crankshaft before I rebuild my engine once again. I also need to replace at least one of the Arrow con rods as the end cap has blued from the heat generated by the spun shell. Thankfully Russ, at JC Racing in Thirsk, has come to the rescue. So there we go. As it stands today (and things may well change between now and your reading this) I have a pretty expensive parts list to fill. I had no idea that the S14 crank couldn’t be reground but as they say, every day is a school day and this was an expensive lesson!
BIG THANKS TO Joe at ARM BMW, Kirby at C3 BMW Russ at JC Racing, James at JFi Classics Nigel at Moseley Motorsport I also owe a huge amount to my long-suffering partner Claire. I think it’s fair to say she hates the M3 and would rather I sold it and took up knitting instead
Nankang AR-1s impressed on track. The M3 was treated to a detailing session. Compbrake #BBK great on track. #BMW-E30-LS1 #V8-swapped-BMW-M3-E30 was also on track.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationA PERFECT PAIR Gorgeous matching modded 2002 and R75/6 Retro Rides
Building one project can be challenging enough but building a matching modified car and bike combo at the same time takes some real dedication. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.
Matching modded #BMW-2002 and #BMW-R75/6
Until now, you won’t have seen many motorbikes in PBMW. While we admire BMW’s two-wheeled offerings and respect those who ride (because we’re not quite brave enough to rocket down the road gripping an engine between our thighs ourselves), they’re not really PBMW fodder. However, if you happen to be the sort of BMW enthusiast whose garage is home to both a modified car and a modified bike, and who has poured just as much passion into two wheels as four, then you’re definitely our sort of person. And here we have just such a person. His name is Michael Le and he owns both a stunning, modified 1975 #BMW-2002-E10 and a stunning, modified 1975 R75/6.
“I grew up on imports,” begins Michael, his first car having been a 1994 Honda Civic Coupé. “Then I crossed the bridge to an R53 MINI Cooper and then moved over to classic BMWs about ten years ago, after I learned more about their aesthetics, performance, heritage, and relative rarity. I feel that cars are my way of self-expression and art. A costly form of self-expression. My first BMW was a 1991 325iS. I got it for $2000 and had quite a few problems with it but for my first BMW it was affordable and a good place to start from.” Once he’d got a taste for German motoring there was no holding Michael back and the 325iS was followed by a 2002, a 1976 Porsche 911, a Euro 635CSi, an E30 318iS and, most recently, another 635CSi. But what we’re really interested in is this really interesting pairing of 2002 and R75/6.
“I have a habit of abandoning projects and an even worse habit of coordination and matching,” explains Michael. “I wanted to have a unique canvas that few people have, and I wanted to continue the matching four-wheel-and-two-wheel theme that started with my MINI Cooper and Vespa. It’s personally satisfying to walk out to a parking lot and know exactly which vehicle is yours. They stand alone in a sea of modern, bland vehicles and are an extension of my eccentric, old-soul/new-school personality.” Indeed.
“My focus for these two in particular was a matching set of vintage and unique smog-free machines I could daily drive given my mood,” he continues. “I learned a few things from my first 2002, such as OEM is usually best and that it’s a good idea to keep it tasteful and respectable with just a few personal touches. As for the motorcycle, this is my first bike but my second two-wheel vehicle. I’m a proud self-taught rider with scars to prove it. I knew it would be a cafe racer; the style and simplicity is so appealing.” A café racer, for those not well-versed with modified bike styles, is a lightweight bike built for speed, handling and short, fast rides rather than comfort. The name originates from the ’60s when members of the British rocker subculture (as in mods and rockers) used fast, personalised bikes to ride between transport cafes along the newly-built motorways and Michael’s R75/6 has the classic café racer-look.
The 2002 was purchased from an enthusiast and already had a number of attractive mods, with an M42 up front, a five-speed gearbox, an LSD, Recaros and metal bumpers. “It was halfway done!” Michael exclaims. “The bike’s previous owner commuted over 50 miles each way on a daily basis for a few years; it had some leaks, as to be expected from a 40-year-old vehicle, but it was useable.” And with both machines in his possession, the projects could begin.
When Michael says he has a thing for coordination he’s not kidding as the work he’s put in to get these two matching on virtually every level is outrageous. With an emphasis on the individual, styling was extremely important for the both the 2002 and the R75/6, especially as the café racer-look is distinctive and calls for certain mods to achieve the desired style.
The 2002’s pumped-up look was achieved with a selection offbeat styling additions. “Everyone has turbo flares,” says Michael, “so I got OEM replica flares from 2002 GarageWerks. And everyone has access to the standard 2002 turbo front air dam, so I got a Jaymic front air dam.” He’s also added an Ireland Engineering rear spoiler and rear chrome shorty bumpers, deleted the antenna, and fitted a Cibie third brake light and flat Euro front turn signals. You can’t build a bad-looking 2002 and this one in particular looks fantastic, with period styling that’s got an individual twist to it.
The bike, by comparison, was a far more involved build as there’s a lot of work required to go from regular old motorcycle to café racer. “Modernised café racers usually retain the exterior gauges or eliminate them completely,” explains Michael, “but I located the gauge in the headlight bucket for a clean look. Garage builders usually don’t do any cutting and keep the two-up tail; I had to get a seat that went along the clean lines of a single seat bike and cut the rear subframe, along with de-tabbing anything unnecessary. When I say I, I mean my friend and firsttime builder Fernando at Morales Custom Cycles. He did nearly everything for the bike except the paint. Let me tell you, for a first timer, he’s professional-grade in my book. We both learned together. His patience was tried and my wallet was tried, but it was worth it.”
Even if you’re not a bike fan you have to admit that Michael’s R75/6 looks achingly cool. Of course, as good as the car and bike looked, they didn’t match at that point, so Michael took them both down to Affordable Auto Body in Hayward where they were sprayed in #BMW Individual Moonstone metallic. He even got his crash helmet sprayed in the same colour. “The finishing touch was done by Lyle’s Vinyl Styles in San Carlos. He does custom vinyl wraps and did some seriously clean BMW M pinstripes on both the car and bike as a subtle theme tie-in,” Michael explains.
Now, matching paint colours and stripes are one thing but matching the car and bike’s wheels was a much bigger challenge, especially as far as the bike was concerned. “I started off with some black/silver 13” ATS Classics on the 2002 to go with the theme at the time,” Michael tells us. “A few months later I was browsing eBay Germany and came across these vintage gold BBS E76s. I wanted mesh wheels for the car but felt the BBS RS look has been done time and time again. But magnesium 15” E76s? Yes please! I bid on them for fun and ended up winning them. So I then had to change the whole game plan for the car and bike to accommodate the colour scheme of new the wheels,” he laughs. 2002s and cross-spokes go together like toast and jam and the E76s look so good on this car they could have been custom-made for it.
The gold centres and polished lips are the perfect match for the silver paintwork and they do a fantastic job of filling out those fat little arches. “Since the BBSs were vintage gold with polished hardware, polished lips and red BBS logo stickers, for the bike I had a set of wheels custom-made at Woody’s Wheel Works in Colorado,” Michael continues. “They’re such helpful, friendly and professional people. They made some custom vintage gold spokes, polished nipples, and polished Akront rims. Then I bought some red Akront stickers to place on the rims.” The end result is about as good as you can get considering how different bike wheels are to car wheels. Hats off to Michael for going to these lengths to get the two looking as similar as possible.
The interior on the 2002 is absolutely gorgeous, a perfect blend of wood and black leather, and Michael has spent some time on the finishing touches. “The car came with these great quality, smooth and perforated leather black Recaro front seats, so I carried the theme throughout the rest of the car and over to the bike,” he says. “The 2002 interior and the bike seat were sent to Super Auto Upholstery in Hayward. The E24 rear buckets were given the same treatment, as well as the door panels to match. Even the headlining was done in black. The car also came with a wooden Nardi steering wheel, a wooden gear knob, and a wooden gauge cluster with black face gauges and red needles. The bike seat is an identical replica of the car seats, down to the size of the stitching, piping, and materials used. I sourced some Harley wood grips that matched the steering wheel as closely as possible. Fernando made them work on the bike and Lyle did a vinyl wrap around the gauge trim to mimic the wood and, yes, the bike’s gauge is black with a red needle.”
This pair is not simply a case of style over substance, though, as Michael’s put the work in where it counts: the engine and chassis. “The 2002 came with the M42 out of an E30 318iS mated to a Getrag 240 gearbox from an E21 and a 3.73 LSD – really the perfect combo for the peppy and light E10 chassis,” he says. “I considered a turbo to go along with the turbo tribute look and it would have meant having to go turbo with the bike as that’s how anal I am, but I found a good deal on a set of Dbilas ITBs which I couldn’t pass up.” In addition to the ITBs, the engine’s had a coilover plug conversion, a Midnight tuning chip and a straight-through exhaust system with a Scorpion silencer. “When it came to chassis mods, my research suggested that Ground Control coilovers and Koni Yellow adjustable struts were the way to go, along with Ireland Engineering anti-roll bars and a nonadjustable camber kit. It’s the perfect setup for a comfortable daily driver that’s also good for some spirited twisty canyon driving when needed.”
There’s a lot less that can be done on the bike, according to Michael, so he’s kept things simple: “On the engine front I went for maintenance, cleanliness, and reliability! I had all the seals replaced, valve adjustment done, and cleaned the cylinders, heads, rings, valve covers etc. In terms of chassis mods you can’t do too much for a café racer besides beef-up the suspension and weight reduction, so I ordered some Redwing rear struts and lowered the front with new fork fluid. It looks good and still rides comfortably.”
On their own, this 2002 and R75/6 are magnificent builds with incredible attention to detail and some really fantastic, unique mods. However, taken as a matching pair they are truly something special. “I spent two-and-a-half painstaking years developing both vehicles. I have the vision but don’t possess the talent or patience. There were a lot of favours, switching back and forth between vehicles, and a lot of restless nights in which I nearly abandoned these projects,” says Michael. Fortunately he didn’t and the end result is unquestionably worth all that effort. We all know what we’re signing up for when we take on a new project but not all of us have the mettle to see them through. It’s doubly difficult when you’re working on two projects at once.
Michael just has a few finishing touches to add on both the 2002 and R75/6. He’s currently working with Dbilas on a chip tune specific to his combination of M42 on ITBs, while for the bike he’s lined-up a big bore kit, lightened flywheel, and a rear monoshock conversion. You’d think once that was done he’d be ready to put his feet up and enjoy the fruits of his labours but he’s clearly a glutton for punishment as he’s got an E24 635CSi project in its infancy. “My goal is to make my ideal black-on-black Euro E24 and if I had to continue my four-and-two-wheel theme, I may opt for a motorised bicycle built by Dutchman Motorbikes,” he muses. “They build custom motorised bicycles, either cruiser or café racer style, to your specifications. It would seem fitting to go on the Euro E24’s roof rack!” he laughs, but we don’t think he’s joking.
“I spent two-and-a-half painstaking years developing both vehicles”
Leather seat material and design has been mimicked on the bike, as have all the wooden interior details.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #1975 / #BMW-2002 / #BMW-2002-M42 / #M42 / #BMW-M42 / #BBS / #BMW-2002-Tuned / #BMW-E10
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 1.8-litre four-cylinder #M42B18 , coilover plug conversion, #Dbilas ITBs, custom straight-through exhaust with Scorpion silencer, #Midnight-Tuning chip, E21 five-speed gearbox, 3.73 LSD, Z3 short-shift.
CHASSIS 9x15” ET10 (front and rear) #BBS-E76 vintage gold magnesium wheels with 12mm spacers (front) and 15mm spacers (rear), 205/50 (front and rear) Kumho Ecsta tyres, 2002tii front hubs, E21 250mm rear drum brakes, #Ground-Control coilovers, #Koni-Yellow struts, Ireland Engineering front and rear anti-roll bars.
EXTERIOR #Jaymic-2002-Turbo-style front air dam, 2002 #GarageWerks Turbo-style arch flares, Ireland Engineering rear spoiler, rear chrome shorty bumpers, antenna delete, #Cibie rear third brake light, flat Euro front turn signals, Vinyl Styles M stripes.
INTERIOR #Recaro front seats, E24 rear seats, matching fabric and stitch pattern, black pillars and headlining, #Ireland-Engineering Turbo-style gauge pods, Autometer gauges, Nardi wooden steering wheel, wooden gear knob, custom Honda Civic armrest, Esty salt and pepper carpet.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE 1975 / BMW-R75
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 749cc flat-twin 247, all-new gaskets, rebuilt #Bing carbs, #K&N air filter pods, sport exhaust, #Battery-Tender lightweight battery, #BoxerCafe starter cover, five-speed gearbox, new fluids, seals, and gaskets.
CHASSIS 19” (front) and 18” (rear) #Akront aluminium rims and vintage gold spokes, 3.25/19 (front) and 4.00/18 (rear) Michelin tyres, stock front springs with new fluid, remanufactured rear drum brakes, #ToasterTan triple tree, Redwing rear struts, #Boxer-Metal rear sets, clip-on bars.
EXTERIOR De-tabbed and shaved Ural headlight bucket, Motogadget dummy lights, Autometer digital gauge, custom extended bucket ears, shortened rear subframe, frame and body de-tabbed, battery relocated under Thorsten Strenger fibreglass singleseat rear cowl, X-Arc LED integrated turn signals/brake lights, chrome bar end mirrors.
INTERIOR Custom seat with matching fabric and stitch pattern, wood-style grips, colour-matched Biltwell Gringo helmet and bubble shield, black leather Members Only jacket with custom-sewn armour pockets.
THANKS My girlfriend Cindy for her patience and letting me ‘express’ myself; Frank and Jesus at Super Auto Upholstery, Joel at Affordable Auto Body, the team at Woody’s Wheel Works, Bryant and Jeriko at Bryko Motors, Le from 2002 GarageWerks, Lyle at Vinyl Styles, eBay.de for not letting me retract my best offer for the BBS wheels, Phill and Jessa for chauffeuring me around, Patrick for letting me borrow his car, Matt for the continual optimism and inadvertent help with naming the vehicles, Tristan for both the motivation and keeping me grounded, Courtney for spotting my 2002 at a local car show, befriending me, and giving me the opportunity to share my art in PBMW. Ultimately, Fernando at Morales Custom Cycles for his patience with my vehicular sickness and making my car and motorcycle visions a reality. Without him, I don’t think my motorcycle would be as ideal as it is. My mom for her sense of art and meticulousness that rubbed off on me while I grew up, and my dad for encouraging me to create my visions growing up as a child via a seemingly endless supply of Lego sets.
Car and bike have been finished in matching Moonstone metallic and wear matching vinyl M stripes.
Not something you expect to see in PBMW but this classic café racer is a gorgeous retro machine.
“Cars are my form of self expression and art. A costly form of expression”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationThe Everett Fleet / #BMW-318i-Convertible-E36 / #BMW-318i-E36 / #BMW-E36 / #BMW /
Of the various cars in the fleet, the Touring, Convertible, E32 730i and the 318iS track car are on the road. Starting with the green Touring, a few things have happened in the last six months. A weird growling noise turned out to be the bearings in the original 160,000 mile water pump so this was swiftly replaced. A Z3 gear lever with a new white plastic bush has sharpened up the gearshift whilst I splashed out £250 on a set of new Goodyears when it became clear that new 225 section 15s were no longer available anywhere – I went for five new Efficient Grip 205/60x15s to include the ropey spare. That and a split in the original intake boot have been the main things with this excellent old bus, and it sailed through the MoT without an advisory. The front struts were getting a bit tired so I fitted a pair of new Bilstein B8s I’d bought years ago but never used, and a set of new Eibach springs. Even so it sat a bit lower on the front than I’d like so I replaced the original top mounts with a pair of alloy E46 ones (they’re an inch taller) and it sits just right now.
Before the #BMW-318i-Convertible was put back on the road in April, it received a good black leather interior with the comfy sport seats – £150 and three hours well spent to get rid of the miserable cloth. The old front doorcards are now on the track car to replace the horrid ones, whilst I donated the old seats to a spectacular bonfire at a do hosted by a local farmer. Before the MoT I spent a couple of hours underneath it, removing any flaky underseal and treating any rusting bits but overall it’s pretty good. It sailed through the MoT and to match the freshly painted passenger side (the driver’s side was done in 2015) I located an excellent bonnet in Orient blue to replace the tidy but far-from-perfect original.
Couple that with the new rear window I had put in after the splits in the original suddenly got much bigger and it’s now a very tidy thing indeed.
Here’s a tip for removing the wrinkles in a new rear screen after the hood’s been down in warm weather: with the hood up, pour decently hot but not boiling water on it and the ‘glass’ straightens out instantly.
The track car has blotted its copy book somewhat. Despite running perfectly in 2015, this year it’s been a pain. Starting with the MoT in February, it developed a dreadful misfire/spluttering that I just couldn’t cure. It wouldn’t talk to diagnostics so by a process of elimination I started to replace bits – ECU, coil, all the engine sensors, air flow meter, fuel pump, filter… I thought I’d cured it but no – on the morning of my annual trip to Cadwell Park I got five miles up the road before the spluttering came back. Returning to base I tried everything before throwing in the towel and replacing the engine loom – perhaps there was a broken wire in there? The loom came from my old M reg 316i – the #M42 and #M43 looms are virtually identical. With it all connected up… it wouldn’t start. I mean nothing from the starter. A process of elimination and another set of eyes located a loose earth strap on the engine mount so this was unbolted from the (fractured) earth lead lug on the arm and bolted to the front of the engine via one of the 13mm timing case bolts. With that it burst into life and 45 miles later, hadn’t missed a beat. What’s the betting that earth strap caused all the trouble? With a cleaned set of injectors and new inlet gaskets to cure a rough idle, I’m hoping that it’ll behave now. I fitted Eibach rear track control arms last year, and used the 15-inch #BBS alloys from a 525i E34 I broke for parts as a set of spare wheels, now shod with a new set of 205/50x15 Uniroyal Rain Sport tyres. Should the car make it to Croft and it’s wet, these will be getting a good workout.
Finally the 730i starts on the button after 313,000 miles and goes where I need it to. It still cleans up well and I need to actually use it this year and put some miles on it. I bought the car in 2003 with 204,000 miles, so I’ve had my money’s worth from it – I used it every day until 2011 and even now it’s remarkable how comfy it is but at 22mpg overall it’s just a bit too thirsty for everyday use.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFOREVER YOUNG
A beautiful bronze E21 rocking Ronals, M5 paint and perfect stance. M5 paint, 15” Ronal wheels, individual styling and a stance to die to for; this E21 is without doubt better than when it left the factory 35 years ago. Words & Photos: Michael Burroughs.
It’s not every day that one can look at a car and honestly say it’s better than the day it rolled off the showroom floor. Nic and Stephanie Foster of Tucson, Arizona, however, can make the claim without hesitation. From E60 M5 paint and Ronal Racing three-piece mag wheels, to a completely custom houndstooth interior, nothing was spared on this car… and that’s just the aesthetics. With an M42 resting under the bonnet and Leda race-spec coilovers suspending the car, there’s little left that remains untouched.
Most people reach an age where they decide investing hard earned cash into a 30-year-old BMW simply isn’t responsible. It’s not that those who say such things can’t enjoy such cars, but it makes for an easy way to separate them from us. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, you decide. True enthusiasts are a rare breed, and finding someone who prefers to restore the lesser-loved BMWs of the era as opposed to a 3.0 CSL or 2002 Tii is something special.
Nic Foster, a 29-year-old mechanical engineer, is one such man. Many ask why someone would put so much effort into such a lowly model. “E21s are not necessarily coveted BMWs to own,” suggests Nic. And while he’s right, even when the Hartge and Alpina counterparts do hold some significance and status, there’s little more in the E21 world that brings guys like Nic in. For him, it’s about doing something different. He’s not one to sit back and watch what others are doing – and he’s not alone in that mindset either.
His wife, Stephanie, has her own ’72 Bavaria. That’s certainly not a car you see hopped-up every day… and with a 3.0-litre with triple side-draft Webers, it certainly fits into that category.
But back to the E21; its journey began as many others – it was first leased, and then bought in 1981 by Nic’s grandmother. He then received the car as a 17th birthday present from his aunt and uncle 13 years ago. “The car was stock. Regular M10, Polaris metallic paint, sunroof, basic blue interior and automatic,” he recalls. Not one to leave things lackluster, Nic started work with a racer’s mindset: the best coilies he could get his hands on, and an M42 (from the E30 318 – a popular engine swap for 2002s and E21s) were rounded up. After three months of working weekends, Nic’s 320i was finally powered by the 1.8-litre motor and coupled with a five-speed manual transmission.
The E21 remained like this well into Nic’s adult life. Once the couple married, Steph wondered what the potential for the car might be. While Nic knew that his project wasn’t finished, he didn’t predict that the car they built would one day grace the pages of a magazine and turn the head of every person it passed.
It wasn’t until ten months ago that Nic’s plan completely changed direction. “From day one it was about autocross. Now I’m more interested in creating a statement. I think cars can tell a story and evoke emotions. What we do with cars is try to make the emotion as strong as possible.” From circuit basher to show stopper, the Fosters decided to bring everything they had to the table and unleash some new life into the E21.
The most striking part of the car is the paintwork. After a lot thought, they decided on the original colour Steph had suggested; Sepang bronze, sprayed by Photofinish in Tucson. It was the perfect match for the lines of the car. An outstanding change from bright gold to dark bronze and brown reveals itself around the car. But paint isn’t the only thing setting its body off. Nic was quick to get rid of the American bumpers in favour of the slimmer European counterpart, and he also swapped the rear panels and boot floor.
“My father and I drilled the spot welds that held the floor in and swapped out the floor. It was quite a bit of work, but we got all four pieces swapped over and lead filled some of the common rust areas so the final product was strong,” he says.
No short cuts have been taken: this 320i is as immaculate as they get. Blacked out bumpers and shadow-line trim, sanded and sprayed by Nic, accentuate the dark tones of the car, something the couple spent a lot of time considering. They went to extraordinary lengths to perfect the trimming on the car, including resealing the windshield with black lock strip instead of painting the factory parts. It’s that level of dedication that separates this E21 from others. Nic explains: “I remember spending hours in the garage with Steph, pulling and replacing the dash and fitting the carpet. She really is an amazing individual – she’s just as dedicated to the car as I am.”
The mag splits that the E21 sits on are the perfect choice for the car and are an interesting story in their own right. “I found the Ronals for sale and started talking to the seller. It’s not everyday they pop up for sale.
But when the seller stopped returning my messages, I panicked. I thought they had been sold to another buyer. No matter what I did he didn’t respond. Then, on my birthday, a huge box arrived at my front door. Steph had purchased them for me as a birthday gift – I nearly passed out! How many wheel geeks actually have a wife that buys rare splits for them?”
Nic and Steph colour-matched the magnesium centers of the Ronals to the body of the car. Widened with Kodiak lips and assembled with custom black hardware, the 8.5x15” and 9x15” Ronals look better than new. Toyo 195/45T1Rs were stretched on to the wheels, matching the custom flaring of the fenders, done by Nic himself with a hammer and dolly. To complete the setup, Nic’s Leda coilovers are wound quite low, with room still left to go. Unavailable in America, Nic opted for the European fourcylinder front end – if only to help let others know that this car isn’t your normal E21.
Steph’s chance to truly work her magic came when it was time to redo the interior of the car. Originally equipped with blue cloth, the pair agreed to go custom. “Steph is really the one to thank for all the interior goodies in the car,” explains Nic. “She sourced the black door panels and back seat, even the carpet kit. She did every piece of houndstooth on the car by hand, wrapped the sun visors, disassembled the door cards, she even shrouded the rear bootlid in the perfect fabric. Steph also cut and wrapped the A-pillars – I just pressed the gaskets over them.” Now finished, the interior is perfect and I doubt anyone could argue with that. Nic isn’t done yet though. He plans to add a supercharger to get the car in the 200bhp range: more than enough to make it break traction.
As for immediate plans, it sounds as though Nic and Steph are ready to tackle the Bavaria. Hopefully they’ll build a car of equal caliber but outdoing this E21 will be a serious challenge. A perfect blend of old and new, Nic and Steph Foster’s Euro-converted 320i has redefined the E21 game entirely.
Not only did Nic’s wife buy the wheels she also helped build it... legend!
DATA FILE #BMW-E21 / #BMW / #BMW-E21-M42 / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-3-Series
ENGINE: 1.8-litre straight-four #M42 / #BMW-M42 / with #Dinan software, cone filter
CHASSIS: 8.5x15” and 9x15” #Ronal-Racing magnesium wheels with colour-matched centres, #Kodiak lips and custom black hardware. #Leda coilovers, #Hartge front strut brace, #TEP rear strut brace
EXTERIOR: Full respray in Sepang bronze, replaced rear sheet metal to Euro-spec including boot floor, European blacked-out bumpers and four-cylinder front end, rear panels and boot floor, shadow-line trim, windshield resealed with black lock strip, flared wheel arches, smoothed rocker
INTERIOR: Black door panels, rear bench and carpet kit, front Integra seats, retrim in houndstooth fabric including front Integra seats, door cards, sun visors, bootlid and A-pillars, battery relocated to boot, Euro green to red tacho
THANKS: My wife Stephanie, dad, my aunt and uncle for giving me the car, Photofinish for the respray, stanceworks and the E21 Legion, the Pima Air and Space Museum and Million Air
An outstanding change from bright gold to dark bronze and brown reveals itself around the car.
1.8-litre from the E30 fits the E21’s bay perfectly and gives it a bit more oomph.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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Gorgeous bagged #BMW E30 with an #S52 swap and shaved bay
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
In the same family for almost 30 years, this ridiculously clean E30 has undergone quite a transformation in that time. Some heirlooms leave a more lasting impression than others, as we discover when we meet Nick Lanno from Ohio. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Patrick McCue.
It’s not often a car stays in the same family for almost 30 years, yet this 1987 325iS is the very same car that delivered Nick Lanno – the subject of our story – from hospital when he was born, and 15 years later became his first car.
That was in 2009, and Nick, now aged 22, has completely transformed the car from what it once was. He takes up the story: “My father bought the car brand-new from David Hobbs BMW in Chillicothe, Ohio, and he drove it on a daily basis right up until my teens, so it was always in the garage while we were wrenching on other vehicles together. That’s where my passion for cars started.”
Nick couldn’t help but fall in love with the E30 and as soon as he was old enough he began to research these cars. That’s when he got hooked on the blue and white roundel, as he explains: “The fact that they are truly a driver’s car is what attracted me to them the most. The heritage and history behind all these classic BMWs that people own is so interesting and they almost always carry a great story. I love every car BMW has made to this day and I will always be a BMW enthusiast.”
This was the car that took Nick to school, to soccer games, to friends’ houses, you name it – it was a huge part of his life and quite often he would while away the hours thinking how incredible it would be to own it one day. In 2000 it went into storage, and then, much to Nick’s surprise, nine years later it was taken out of storage and given to him on his 15th birthday! His childhood dream had come true.
“There was no other E30 I would rather have had than this car. It was perfect and despite having clocked up 120k, it was immaculate; all OEM parts, original paint, absolutely rust-free, and it had a full service history,” he recalls.
Needless to say it did not stay 100 per cent original for long. In fact, the first thing Nick did as soon as it was in his possession was lower it on a set of Ireland Engineering race springs. Other modifications included all red tail-lights, smoked Euro Smiley headlights and side repeaters, a later model front valance and a Zender rear valance. Shortly after that, the car then went back into storage so that over the next few years Nick could save some money and let the real transformation begin.
Once again it was the suspension that demanded Nick’s attention first: “After pouring through different forums looking at the various setups, I knew that to get the drop I really wanted I’d have to look into a custom air-ride setup.” Up front he’s installed Air Lift’s Crafter Series struts, while Air House II bags and Bilstein shocks reside out back. The rear spring perches were modified for the bags, as were the front spindles for the struts. The system is managed by Air Lift’s Autopilot V2, with plenty of presets all at the tip of Nick’s fingers in the centre console. “The setup is so convenient, making road trips as comfortable as can be, yet the car still handles fantastically in the corners. I have the best of both worlds,” he adds.
The car remained in this guise for the next three months, until one fateful day when the timing belt from the original M20B25 snapped. This prompted the next stage of the build. “I sourced a low-mileage S52B32 out of a 1999 M3 from a good friend in Cincinnati with roughly 70k on it,” Nick says. “I completely regasketed the motor from top to bottom, as well as safety wiring the oil pump nut, before fitting 21.5lb injectors, a lightened flywheel, and a 3.5” intake setup.” Together with a few friends, the swap took about a week to do. Apparently the maiden voyage with open headers put one of the biggest smiles on Nick’s face to this day. Not surprisingly it came to life as a completely different beast that day.
After two years of driving it across the States to various shows, Nick wanted to take the car to a new level – he wanted to shave, tuck and customise the engine bay. Fortunately a good friend of his owned a body shop so once Nick had pulled out the engine to take care of tidying up the wiring harness and deleting any non-essentials such as air-con and power steering, the car was sent off for six months to begin its transformation. “Everything looks so neat and beautiful under the bonnet now, but the star of the show has to be S52. It is so reliable and has plenty of power to make the car feel a blast to drive. It brings a smile to my face every time I’m behind the wheel.”
Whilst this car’s spec is a far cry from when Nick’s father bought it all those years ago, it’s still managed to retain its factory charm. And that’s because his objective throughout the build has been to keep things clean, simple and classy. The same philosophy has been applied to the cabin of the car, which is relatively stock save for the Nardi steering wheel, custom stitched M-Tech style gear knob and gaiter and Coco mats, which are all period-correct for the car. “I wanted the car to retain its original feel,” Nick says. “I’ve even kept the seats, which are fairly worn now, but it gives it character.”
Like any true project, the car has gone through various incarnations of wheels, including BBS RSs and CCWs, but Nick eventually settled for 8.5x16” (front) and 9.5x16” (rear) Schmidt TH Line wheels shod in 205/40 rubber that you see on the car now, and we have to say that they suit the stance, lines and age of the car perfectly.
This is not a car created with a blank cheque book; it is a car with tons of sentimental value to the owner and gradually improved over time with the help of friends and family. It’s been built to drive and to enjoy, it doesn’t sit in a garage or on a trailer and we love the fact that whilst Nick put his own stamp on it he’s taken a wholly sympathetic approach in his choice of modifications. Now it’s finally complete all he plans to do is simply drive it. “It has taken a lot of effort to get the car to where it is today but it was a journey which has led me to meet a lot of fantastic friends and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. The car is a big part of me and something I am most definitely proud of.”
Along with the life lessons and skills that a father teaches a son, there are also certain material things that you pass down – like a tool kit or, in Nick’s case, a dream car. In these increasingly disposable times, fewer and fewer items are worth saving and giving to your children, so we hope Nick sticks to family tradition and passes his treasured 325iS to his own son or daughter.
DATA FILE #BMW-325iS #S52 air-ride #E30 / #BMW-325iS / #BMW-325iS-S52-E30 / #BMW-325iS-S52-Air-Ride-E30 / #BMW-325iS-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #S52B32 / / #BMW-S52 / #Bimmerworld / #Getrag-260 / #BMW /
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / , 21.5lb injectors, 3.5” #Euro-MAF , 3.5” #Bimmerworld-Silicone intake boot, air-con and power steering delete, #M42 radiator, TMS remap, Condor Speed Shop engine mounts, custom longtube headers and 2.5” exhaust including #Vibrant race resonator; shaved, tucked and resprayed engine bay
TRANSMISSION OEM #Getrag 260 five-speed gearbox, #Sachs-HD clutch, #MWorks-Garage custom transmission crossmember, #Condor-Speed-Shop Speed Shop transmission mounts, lightweight flywheel
CHASSIS 8.5x16” (front) and 9.5x16” (rear) #Schmidt-TH-Line wheels with 205/40 (f&r) Nitto Neogen tyres, #Air-Lift universal front struts, #Air-House II rear bags, #Bilstein rear shocks, #AutoPilot V2 management including five-gallon tank and #Viair-400C compressor, drilled and slotted brake discs and Hawk pads, brake booster delete, E21 master cylinder, tucked brake lines, stainless steel braided clutch slave line
EXTERIOR Later model front valance, iS front spoiler and bootlip, smoked Euro Smiley headlights and side repeaters, all red tail-lights, #Zender rear valence, #Shadowline trim
INTERIOR Nardi Classic steering wheel, custom stitched #M-Tech-style gear knob and gaiter, Coco mats, #Dynamatted back seat and boot
THANKS All of my good friends in BHC, and those that had a hand in the build, my father and Anthony at ASC Autoworks
Front end, like the rest of the car, is incredibly clean, with a late model valence and iS front spoiler. #AutoPilot-V2 management offers eight presets and countless options; gorgeous 16” Schmidt splits suit the E30 perfectly.
The car is a big part of me and something I am definitely proud of.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.