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    KEEPING IT REAL Turbo M50 E30.

    UK two-door is the perfect blend of style and pace. #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E30

    What was once an unassuming #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW-318i has been comprehensively transformed into a turbocharged beast. Words: Aron Norris. Photos: Scott Paterson.

    The BMW E30. Some would say it’s flavour of the month. Others would say it’s their favourite ’80s BMW. Perhaps the infidels among us might even say it’s a little bland. Wherever you stand on the E30, you can’t deny that those Claus Luthe penned lines have aged very, very well. Like a fine wine, these Bavarian compacts are becoming hot property amongst collectors.

    Whilst concours classics might be some people’s idea of BMW perfection, others, like Steve Foxall, prefer to use a stock car as a template, a blank canvas if you will. Whilst the 1983 318i you see here might look all sweet and innocent at first glance, there’s a secret lurking. If you’re an OE concours purist, look away now…

    Now, when Steve bought the E30, it was in pretty good stock condition because the previous owner had it repainted 12 years ago, which meant Steve could get straight onto the fun of making the 318i his own, something a little less, er, 318i. This is a true driveway project car. Let’s be straight here, it doesn’t take much to make an E30 look great. With those handsome ’80s lines it almost seems perverse to suggest messing too much with BMW’s original formula much at all. I mean, the OE Schwarz black really gleams against the chrome bumpers and trims, all as you would expect I suppose.

    Visually, the E30 has lost a few stock items and gained some choice add-ons, but nothing terribly drastic. The front numberplate and foglights have been deleted, which neatens things up nicely, making way for a Jimmy Hill front lip and M Tech 1 rear spoiler to add some ’80s indulgence. There are no wide arches here, nothing untoward you might say. Well, until you peer under the bonnet, that is…

    You see, from the very beginning, Steve knew the original M10 engine in his 318i formed no part of his future plans. His vision was always to build a turbocharged sixcylinder M50 beast. Never again would this be a well-behaved practical car. Nobody wants that anyway, right? As luck would have it, Steve managed to find a 1993 E36 325i donor at the scrapyard, which meant things were coming together rather nicely. Operation strip down could begin. Goodbye M10, it was nice knowing you. The donor #M50B25TU powerplant was to provide the perfect base.

    For the geeks out there, TU stands for ‘technical update’ which means variable valve timing, i.e single Vanos to you and me. In preparation for the turbo, ARP big end bolts, head studs, race mains, big end bearings, valves, springs and rings were thrown into the mix and a 0.120” MLS Cometic head gasket to lower the compression. Stock pistons, crank and block more than do the job, having been honed to reliably deliver an impressive level of tune.


    In order to fulfil his turbo dreams, Steve knew he’d need a fully custom manifold, so a twin-scroll setup was built for his Holset HX35 turbo with 12cm housing. With everything in place, the next step was to build an exhaust. No surprises for guessing that, again, Steve went for a custom setup, this time a Hard Knocks Speedshopfabricated 3” downpipe and exhaust with hidden tip. Continuing the custom fabrication theme, an E34 oil pan (with turbo drain) was shortened and widened to keep the little E30 nicely lubricated at all times. While the old 318 lump was out, Steve took the opportunity to completely smooth and weld the bay, with a fresh helping of Schwarz paint to spruce things up. Blood, sweat and tears ensured the new engine would to take centre stage in the bay, and quite rightly, too.

    With the engine taking shape nicely, Steve’s attention moved towards the transmission. His dream M50 build was mated to a Getrag 260 gearbox with a lightened and balanced M20 flywheel to improve throttle response. An uprated six-puck composite clutch, Sachs 618 pressure plate and M3 release bearing were acquired to more effectively handle the increase in power, along with a lightened and balanced propshaft. Steve got in touch with Hack Engineering to order a solid prop ring and the good guys over at SS Autowerks were called upon to provide a set of solid transmission mounts for the build.

    To keep everything running just so, Vems management was purchased and a completely custom tucked wiring loom was fitted in the freshly smoothed and painted bay. After some testing, tweaking and mapping, Steve’s E30 was almost ready for action.

    Next on Steve’s radar was chassis and handling. The steering rack was swapped out for a Z3 item with custom linkage and a 3.64 LSD was rebuilt with Porsche plates (for tighter locking). Braking was sharpened up with uprated pads and discs, teamed with a Porsche 944 brake booster and braided hoses. SS Autowerks was again involved with the build, supplying BC coilovers with custom springs, front and rear. For a fast road setup, fully polybushed, this car both looks savage and handles as it should.

    In the wheel department, the E30 needed grippy tyres, so the obvious choice was to kill two birds with one stone and bolt up some girthy Schmidt TH Line three-piece splits with Toyo rubber. These 16” beauties in staggered 8.5” and 9.5” fitment suit the E30 a treat. Polished dishes with silver centres contrast beautifully with black bodywork.

    With over 350hp on tap, this little black beauty is lively on the road to say the least. In fact, the truth is you have to be on the ball just to keep it in a straight line. This is pure man and machine stuff. If you overcook it, there’s no computer to save your bacon, as this car will make you pay for any mistake or lapse in concentration.

    The interior of Steve’s E30 is pretty minimalist. You won’t find anything more than you need here. With the focus of this car well and truly centred on the driver, you’ve got a Nardi steering wheel, Delrin shifter, Recaro Pole Positions with TRS harnesses and a custom half roll-cage. That’s it. There’s no fuss – just as it should be with this type of car.

    The original black leather interior just didn’t cut the mustard on B-road blasts, so Steve was on the lookout for a pair of replacement front seats and the black cloth Recaros were the perfect upgrade whilst keeping things simple. The rear seats were binned to save some weight and the battery was moved to the boot by using an S2000 mount with shut off. The interior changes have kept things period-correct, which is a definite winner and suit the E30 down to a tee.


    Steve’s E30 is testament to home-brew engineering and modification. It might look like a regular E30 from the outside but, make no mistake, this is a driver’s car which will quite happily trounce most modern competition in the performance stakes. There’s something very grass roots about this car and we love it.


    Stunning polished Schmidt TH Line 16s are the perfect wheel choice for the E30.

    M50 has been treated to a whole host of internal mods plus an HX35 turbo with custom manifold and exhaust system. The bay has been beautifully smoothed.

    DATA FILE #BMW / #M50-Turbo / #BMW-M50 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-M50 / #M50B25 / #Getrag

    ENGINE 2.5-litre straight-six #M50B25TU / #M50 , 0.120” #MLS-Cometic headgasket, #ARP big end bolts and head studs, race mains, big end bearings, valves, springs and rings, stock honed pistons, crank and block, custom twin-scroll exhaust manifold, #Holset-HX35 turbo with 12cm housing, #Tial-BOV and wastegate with screamer pipe, custom shortened and widened oil pan based on E34 pan and turbo drain, semi-solid custom engine mounts, A/C delete, PAS delete, switched #Bosch-044 in-line pump with Siemens 660cc injectors, Vems management with custom wiring loom completely tucked, 3” downpipe and exhaust with hidden tip by Hard Knocks Speed Shop, Mishimoto switched 14” fan, intake elbow and aluminium E36 fan with header tank delete

    TRANSMISSION #Getrag-260 five-speed manual gearbox, M20 lightened and balanced flywheel, Sachs 618 pressure plate, custom six-puck composite clutch, M3 release bearing, Hack Engineering solid prop ring, custom transmission brace, #SS-Autowerks solid transmission mounts, lightened, balanced propshaft, 3.64 LSD rebuilt with Porsche plates for tighter lock

    CHASSIS 8.5x16” (f) and 9.5x16” (r) #Schmidt-TH-Line Lines with #Radinox dishes and 195/40 Toyo TR1 (f) and 205/40 Nankang NS2-R (r) tyres, BC coilovers supplied by SS Autowerks with custom springs, fully polybushed, reinforced subframe, Z3 steering rack with custom linkage, Z3 short shifter linkage, underside running gear completely rebuilt, shot blasted and powercoated in gloss black, 944 brake booster with braided lines all-round, uprated pads and discs with stock calipers

    EXTERIOR Engine bay totally welded smooth, battery tray delete, front foglight delete, M Tech 1 rear spoiler, Jimmy Hill front lip, genuine blue tinted mirror glass, custom front numberplate delete

    INTERIOR Delrin gear knob, Stack oil pressure and oil temperature gauges, rear seat delete and carpeted, black headlining, Recaro Pole Position seats with Recaro sliders and custom seat mounts, TRS harnesses with reinforced chassis mounts, custom half roll-cage with reinforced chassis mounts, Nardi steering wheel, battery relocated in boot using S2000 mount with shutoff

    THANKS Fourseasons, SS Autowerks, RollHard (www.rollhard.co.uk), Hack Engineering, all my mates who helped
    • Steve Foxall’s Turbo M50 E30 Is it any surprise that the first car in our top three happens to be an E30? Certainly not when that car is Steve Foxall’Steve Foxall’s Turbo M50 E30
      Is it any surprise that the first car in our top three happens to be an E30? Certainly not when that car is Steve Foxall’s stunning UK machine, as it really is an awesome build and proved very popular with all of you, and with good reason. We saw it in person at a couple of shows and it was a real head-turner, not least of all because of what’s under the bonnet. At its heart is an M50B25, swapped into a wire-tucked bay, with a Holset HX35 turbo strapped to it for plenty of power. There’s also a removable bonnet to show the whole lot off. BC Racing coilovers deliver a sizeable drop over a set of gorgeous, fully polished 16” Schmidt TH Lines, while the interior has been treated to, among other things, a pair of Recaro Pole Position seats and a gorgeous Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel. The perfect blend of elegant, classic style and serious power, it’s pretty much E30 perfection in a nutshell.
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    LIFE ON BOOST
    Turbos make everything better, as demonstrated by this hardcore, stripped-out, 356hp, turbocharged E36 325i. Finished in stunning Atlantis blue and with a turbo strapped to the engine, this E36 325i is a serious piece of kit. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andy Tipping.

    Generally speaking, adding a turbo to something will only make it better. Except if it makes it blow up… But apart from that, from humble turbo diesels to mental turbo drag cars with many thousands of horsepower, turbos make everything better, make people happier and generally make the world a better place. Just look at Brad Wherrett. He started out his motoring life with a Honda Jazz, followed by a modified Polo and a tuned Honda Civic. Then he bought an E36 325i and, understandably, life got better, but then he added a turbo…

    The E36 is 21-year-old vehicle technician Brad’s first BMW, and his profession has endowed him with the skills that make this sort of project somewhat easier than for those of us who can just about tell one end of a spanner from the other. His move from Japanese metal to Bavaria’s finest was seemingly an inevitable one. “The love for BMWs has run through the family for years,” explains Brad. “Since I can remember my dad and brothers have had BMWs – standard ones and modified ones – so I’ve been interested in them from a young age. For my first #BMW I decided to buy an E36 because I always liked the look of my brothers’ ones and I developed a soft spot for them.

    “I found the car on Autotrader, in good condition for its age, but a few dings here and there,” says Brad, “and I quite liked the idea of ‘stancing’ the car on BBS wheels or something similar.” That idea never came to fruition, and we’re glad of it because the end result is something a lot more special. In our humble opinion, we reckon Brad has struck just the right balance between wild and tasteful with his E36. The striking shade of Atlantis blue and the GT spoiler are the most eye-catching elements of the build, even more so than the top of the turbo peeking out of the bonnet cut-out, but it’s actually a pretty subtle car. There’s a lot of matt black elements that tone down that hit of blue and it just looks like a really meaty, purposeful piece of kit, which it most definitely is.

    It wouldn’t seem right talk about anything other than what’s going on under the bonnet of this car first and, usefully, the whole thing lifts off to give an uninterrupted view of what’s happened in the engine bay since Brad took charge of this 325i.
    Six months of work have been poured into the engine you see here, made up of late nights and weekends, but this was not simply a case of strapping a turbo to an M50 and hoping for the best, this engine has been stripped down and fully built to deal with the stresses and strains that forced induction was going to place upon it.

    This recipe for a turbocharged E36 begins with single a Vanos M50B25TU to which you then add M54B30 pistons mated to non-Vanos M50 con rods plus an M52B28 crankshaft. At this point it is a good idea to completely rebuild the engine with new timing chains, guides, tensioners, gaskets and so on because you don’t want to spend all that time building up an awesome engine only to have it break on you. The next step is to add ACL race bearings, ARP head studs, a decompression plate, monster Siemens Deka 630cc injectors and our old friend, the Bosch 044 fuel pump. With all that done, you’re finally ready to add your turbo and Brad opted for a Garrett GT35 twin-scroll snail, sitting on a custom top mount twin scroll exhaust manifold, with a Tial 50mm external wastegate and 50mm blow-off valve, feeding air through custom 3” pipework to a 600x300x76mm FMIC and into the engine via a serious-looking custom intake plenum.

    Brad then handed the car over to JamSport to wire in the ECU Master DET3 engine management and put together a base map. The end result of all that work is 356hp at 10psi of boost, which is a massive 164hp increase over the standard engine’s 192hp, a gain of more than 85%. You can’t be attempting to put that much power down without some suitably beefy transmission upgrades and here Brad has opted for an E36 328i five-speed gearbox with solid mounts, a Clutch.net stage five paddle clutch, braided clutch hoses and a 2.93 limited-slip diff from an E36 328i to help put the power down/do massive burnouts with.

    It’s fair to say that, as good as the stock E36 chassis is, it would struggle to deal with all that extra power, but Brad has not neglected this area of his E36 build. “If I’m honest, I got the TA Technix coilovers cheap and couldn’t say no,” he says. “I do have plans to upgrade them but I’m unsure of what brand to go for yet. I polybushed the car as some bushes were showing signs of wear and I decided to upgrade rather than fit OEM bushes.” This is definitely the way to approach any repairs on a project car and in addition to this, Brad has also added front and rear strut braces. The stock front brakes have been replaced with E46 330mm Brembo discs and pads while the rear brakes have also been replaced with standard-sized Brembo discs and pads.

    “When it came to wheels, I decided on Rota Grid Drifts because I’ve always liked the look they give. I considered something a bit more eye catching but in the end I settled for the Rotas.” The chunky, concave sixspoke design really suits the E36, especially in black against the Atlantis bodywork, and they are wrapped in Yokohama rubber at the rear with Maxxis tyres up front.

    Brad’s approach to the styling was the OEM+ look and it was definitely the right approach as everything he’s done to this car looks good. The M3 body kit gives it the cleaner, more aggressive styling the standard car needs and is further enhanced with the addition of the GT front lip and aforementioned GT rear spoiler. The stock mirrors have been retained but now wear carbon caps and the bootlid has been painted gloss black to match the spoiler. Brad has removed the exterior covers from the headlamps, giving them a more pronounced appearance while at the rear there’s a single, massive, Japanese-style exhaust tip.

    With the overall look and feel of the car, there was only ever really one direction to take with the interior and that was the hardcore, stripped-out route. The rear seats have been given the heave-ho while the fronts have been replaced with a pair of single-piece Corbeau Clubsport buckets with four-point harnesses. Brad has also fitted a deep-dish steering wheel, metal gear knob, an EGT gauge and HKS turbo timer plus the carbon fibre triple gauge panel from a Mitsubishi Evo VIII showing volts, water temp and boost, which looks great mounted below the clock on the centre console. The interior really suits the character of the car and with this much performance on tap, those seats and harnesses are most definitely not for show.

    This E36 is an awesome car. Everything about it looks right, the colour scheme is killer and it’s got a real sense of purpose about it. But the cherry on the top of this delicious slab of Atlantis blue goodness, and Brad’s favourite mod on the car, is the turbo. The fact that so much work has gone into the engine means 356hp is barely scratching the surface of what this setup is capable of and that means there’s scope for more power in the future, a lot more power. Brad is aiming for 550-600whp when the car is fully finished and running spot-on, which is going to be utterly insane and absolutely awesome with it. Whichever way you look at it, one thing’s for certain: everything is better with boost.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E36 / #BMW-325i-turbo / #BMW-325i-E36 / #M50B25TU / #M50B25 / #M50 / #BMW-M50 / #BMW-325i-turbo-E36 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW / #ECU-Master-DET3 / #M50-turbo / #Garrett-GT35 / #Garrett / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36 / #BMW-E36-Coupe / #BMW-325Ci / #BMW-325Ci-E36 /

    ENGINE 2.5-litre straight-six #M50B25TU / , fully rebuilt including new timing chains, guide tensioners, gaskets etc. M54B30 pistons, M50 non-Vanos con rods, M52B28 crankshaft, #ARP head studs, ACL race bearings, decompression plate, #Siemens-Deka-630 630cc injectors, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, custom top mount twin-scroll turbo manifold, GT35 twin-scroll turbo, 50mm Tial external wastegate, 50mm blow-off valve, 3” custom exhaust, 3” intercooler hardpipes, 600x300x76mm intercooler, custom intake plenum, Toyosports oil catch can, solid engine mounts, ECU Master DET3 engine management

    TRANSMISSION E36 328i five-speed manual gearbox with solid mounts, Clutch.net stage five paddle clutch, braided clutch hose, 2.93 328i limited-slip differential

    CHASSIS 9x17” (front and rear) Rota grid drift wheels with 235/40 (front) Maxxis MAZ1 tyres and 245/40 (rear) Yokahoma Advan AD08R tyres, TA Technix coilovers with adjustable top mounts, front and rear strut braces, polybushed all-round, E46 330mm Brembo discs and pads (front), E36 325 brakes (rear) with #Brembo discs and pads

    EXTERIOR Full Atlantis blue respray, M3 body kit, GT front lip, GT rear spoiler with risers, delensed headlamps

    INTERIOR Corbeau Clubsport bucket seats, four-point harnesses, stripped-out rear seats, dished steering wheel, exhaust gas temperature gauge, Mitsubishi Evo VIII carbon fibre gauge panel, HKS turbo timer

    THANKS The Paint Shop in Bruntingthorpe and JamSport in Northampton
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