- Post is under moderationGREED IS GOOD #BMW-Alpina-B7-Turbo-E28 vs. #BMW-M5-E28 #Hartge-E28
In the 1980s many people had money to burn, and it is thanks to them #Alpina and #Hartge found a ready market for their wild Fives. Words: Bob Harper. Pictures: James Mann.
Back in the 1980s economies were booming and there were plenty of well heeled individuals who were prepared to pay handsomely for something a little bit more exclusive than your standard #BMW . Although the original #BMW-M5 was not a run-of the mill machine, both Alpina and Hartge offered alternatives which were snapped up by rich businessmen after an individual touch. Given the excellence of BMW's own product, could it be two small but dedicated manufacturers could actually improve on the M5?
But why is the M5 such an all time great? Firstly it has the sort of performance which in its day was simply staggering. This was the first of the real supersaloons from a major manufacturer, and it can still embarrass many of today's high performance machines.
Secondly, it handled The #E28 5 Series was often criticised for its wayward behaviour - it was not unknown for the front and rear ends to swap positions without much provocation, and while Munich's M-men were unable to completely eradicate this behaviour, its handling was fantastic. Only a ham fisted pilot would lose an M5. such was its communicative nature.
Alpina had actually been producing faster fives for longer than #BMW itself.
The #E12 #M535i was BMWs first attempt at a really quick saloon and was introduced in 1980 to very favourable review. Alpina, however, had had a devastating quick #BMW-5-Series in its armoury since 1978, the E12 B7 Tuftx), which featured a 3-litre turbocharged straight-six.
Thus when the #BMW-E12 evolved into the #BMW-E28 5 Series, it was a logical progression on Alpina's part to re-manufacture it into a second generation of fire- breathing saloons. The #BMW-E28-Alpina B7 Turbo utilised the latest generation of BMW's big six with a swept volume of 3430cc, but with significant internal changes. There was a modified cylinder head, lighter #Mahle pistons, a new camshaft, a custom exhaust manifold and a #KKK #KKK-K27 turbocharger. Power was quoted as 300bhp at 5800rpm, 14bhp more than the yet to arrive twin-cam engined M5, while torque was way up on the M-car, 331lb ft at 3000rpm, compared to 250lb ft at 4500rpm for the M5.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the B7 Turbo was quicker than Munich’s finest, I66mph compared to 150mph, and a quoted 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds, compared to the M5's 6.3 seconds. Strangely, very few contemporary motoring magazines tested the Alpina, but the Swedish magazine Teknikens Varfd did strap a fifth wheel to the car, and the figures it achieved makes Alpina's own look somewhat conservative: 0-62mph in £.8 seconds, 0-125mph in 17 seconds and a top speed of 168mph. Even the new M5 struggles to match these results.
Naturally this level of performance demanded changes in the suspension and braking departments, as well as the fitment of Alpina’s trademark multispoke wheel rims. The suspension featured #Bilstein gas pressure dampers with progressive rate springs, while the brakes were upgraded with #Girling discs, ventilated at the front. Sixteen-inch wheels were shod with 205/55 tyres at the front, and 225/50s at the rear.
Like other Alpina's, the interior was upgraded with extra instruments, including the company's neat digital readout incorporated into one of the fresh air vents, as well as the trademark green and blue flash on the seats. The steering wheel and gearknob were substituted for Alpina items, and an adjustable boost control was mounted on the centre console next to the handbrake. Externally, there was to be no mistaking the B7 Turbo for a lesser model, its spoilers and decal kit saw to that.
If the Alpina wore its heart on its sleeve, the Hartge M5 was externally more muted, but that's not to say it was any less impressive. Like Alpina. Hartge had been remanufacturing 5 Series’ for a number of years before it released its ultimate version. Poor to the release of the M5, it too concentrated on the 3430cc unit, modifying the head, fitting a special camshaft and manifold, as well as adding a freer flowing exhaust system. These changes improved both power and torque, to rival Alpina's nonturbo charged B9 3.5 litre models.
However, unlike Alpina, who always concentrated on the 12-valve units, Hartge decided to base its ultimate 5 Series on the M5. Thus BMW's twin-cam 24 valve 3453cc masterpiece was breathed on by Hartge to produce 330bhp, up from the original's 286bhp. This was achieved mainly via the use of high-lift camshafts and a special exhaust, and the conversion sacrificed torque in the quest for ultimate power.
Naturally Hartge upgraded the suspension to include stiffer dampers and lowered springs, dropping the car by approximately 25mm. The chassis was further tightened with the adoption of a strut brace between the front suspension turrets, and a set of 16-inch #Hartge classic wheels wearing 225/50 rubber at the front and 245/45 at the rear completed the basic conversion.
Where Alpina produced a standard car with an options list, Hartge's approach was slightly more flexible. There was the basic conversion, and customers could stop there if they wanted. However, you could add front and rear spoilers to improve high speed stability, a decal set to announce that this was no ordinary M5, and the interior could be fitted with a variety of enhancements from steering wheels and gearknobs to extra instruments.
Unfortunately, no motoring magazine tested a Hartge M5, but with 330bhp it was no slouch and you can expect the benchmark 0-60 dash to be dispensed with quicker than BMW's standard offering, while top speed was also improved.
But enough of the history, how do the cars compare today? To find out we took a #1984 #Alpina-B7-Turbo and pitched it against a remarkably standard looking #1987 Hartge M5. The Alpina shows its intent straightaway with its deep front air dam and stripes leaving you with no illusions that this is going to be a quick car. The Hartge on the other hand is far more discrete, and, as 'our' car was entirely debadged, a quick glance could easily mistake it for a 518i on a tasty set of alloys, one would believe this car can frighten virtually any supercar you choose to name.
Despite the different methods employed to achieve their power outputs we expected both cars to behave in a similar manner - all or nothing. The Alpina has massive reserves of torque, but below 3000rm when the turbocharger has yet to spin in anger we thought it would be flat in the extreme. Similarly, the high lift cams of the Hartge should produce low rev lethargy with high-end frenzy.
In reality things were quite different Put quite simply, the performance of the Alpina is awesome. At low revs it feels quicker than say an M535i, but when the turbocharger kicks in it really does force you back into your seat as if you were strapped into a jet fighter at take off. You find yourself constantly slewing down, just so you can speed up again to provide yourself with another adrenaline buzz.
The Hartge delivers in a different manner. This particular car has had some changes made to its engine management control unit to eradicate a flat spot at around 2000rpm and to provide more midrange torque, and it is estimated it now has in the region of 280lb ft at one's disposal. Where a standard M5 takes time to get going, the Hartge flies from the word go.
There is no noticeably step in its delivery, with the rev counter needle simply flying round to its redline, allowing you to repeat the process in the next gear. On first acquaintance it doesn't have the immediate kick of the Alpina, but a quick glance at the speedo reveals it to deceptively quick. The only drawback is its real urge comes at the sort of speeds where the authorities tear up your licence and throw away the key.
Subjectively, the Alpina feels the quicker car in a straight line, but once some challenging bends are thrown into the equation, the tables start to turn in the Hartge's favour. This is in part due to its lower stance and more overtly sporting set up. Like the standard M5, the steering is wonderfully communicative, providing plenty of feel and feedback, allowing the car to be precisely placed in bends. Crip is of the highest order, better than both the Alpina and the original M5. The linear nature of the car’s power delivery also helps to inspire confidence when pressing on, as you know it is not going to suddenly come on cam mid bend.
In a straight line the Alpina's power delivery is its trump card, but when it comes to cornering it becomes the car's Achilles heel, particularly on a damp road It is not wayward in its behaviour, but you have to make sure you don’t make the transition from no boost to full boost mid-bend. The steering is direct and has a meaty feel to it, partially the result of having a smaller diameter wheel. It is by no means as stiffly sprung as the Hartge, so there is a lot more bodyroll to accompany spirited comenng. It grips well enough, but is not as composed as the Hartge.
Once again, the tables are turned when it comes to ride quality. The Hartge has a much firmer ride, which deteriorates quite markedly on poorly surfaced B-roads. On smooth roads it is fine, but passengers are likely to complain if you take to the back roads. The #Alpina is a more comfortable companion in terms of ride, a payback for its less than perfect cornering manners.
While much of what came out of the 1980s should be confined to the history books, we have to say we are delighted that the decade's culture of greed prompted such fine machinery as the Hartge M5 and the Alpina B7 Turbo.
As a complete package, the Hartge is hard to beat. It has staggering performance, excellent grip and its handling inspires confidence. The Alpina is slightly rougher round the edges; its power delivery could certainly catch out the unwary, but despite this flaw its spoilers and stripes sum up the era better than the discrete Hartge. Of the two cars, it is the one that lingers in our minds. The B7 Turbo's performance is addictive and as we handed back the keys we knew withdrawal would be painful.
It should there-fore come as no surprise that the B7 Turbo was quicker than Munich’s finest
Hartge utilise M5 standard gearbox... while Alpina uses a dog-leg #Getrag box.
No badge makes #BMW-E28-Hartge a real Q car .
At least you know what passed you.
No one would believe this car can frighten virtually any supercar you choose to name.
Two variations on a theme. Turbo or multi-valve #M88 or #M30 . Both offer huge performance. #BMW-M5-Hartge-E28
Neat digital readout shows boost pressure and temperature.
The Left-hand drive only Alpine's cockpit typical of the era.
Classic, simple 16-inch rims. Hartge-version on the left. Alpina's on the right.
Hartge interior is more sober, but M5 spec is comprehensive.
The Alpina's looks leave you in no doubt this is a serious performance machine.
Hartge’s lower stance ensures excellent grip and inspired handling.
#E28 #BMW-M5 - #Alpina-B7-Turbo - #Hartge-M5
Engine 24 valve - 12 valve, Turbocharged, - 24 valve
Capacity 3453cc - 3430cc - 3453cc
Stroke/bore 84x93.4mm - 88x92mm - 84x93.4mm
Power 285hp @ 6500rpm - 300bhp @ 5800pm - 330bhp @ 7000rpm
Torque 250lb ft @ 4500rpm - 331lb ft @ 3300rpm - 280lb ft @ 3600rpm
front 225/50 ZR16 - 205/55 ZR16 - 225/50 ZR16
rear 225/50 ZR16 - 225/50 ZR16 - 245/45 ZR16
Maximum speed - 153mph - 167mph - 160mph (est)
0-62mph 6.3 seconds – 4.8 seconds – 5.5 seconds (est)
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- Post is under moderationSouth African Special Taking a look at the #BMW-E12/8 #M535i , a rare model unique to the South African market. Just when you thought you knew all about the unique South African #BMW models another one comes to light, the unusual E12/8 M535i Words: Johann Venter. Photography: Oliver Hirtenfelder.
Internally known as ‘model 4709’ this hybrid #BMW-E12 M535i comprised E28 components before the E28 was even manufactured in South Africa. Sounds like going back to the future. Today the word hybrid is all too common in motoring diction. In #1982 it was almost unheard of in motoring circles, but what we see in front of us today is exactly that: a hybrid. Was the #BMW-M535i-E12 the first mass offering by BMW’s M Division? In a word, no. That honour was reserved for another South African special: the #BMW-530MLE (Motorsport Limited Edition). Regular readers will be familiar with the four models unique to South Africa as documented by then deputy editor Sebastian de Latour on his visit to South Africa in 2012. During the ‘70s and ‘80s, the height of the Apartheid era in South Africa where world isolation was the order of the day, BMW South Africa was producing some of its most sought-after models.
How and where did BMW get a foothold in a country positioned on the southern tip of Africa? Like in all corners of the world immigrants bring along their culture to the new frontier they settle in and South Africa is no different. A German immigrant was so attached to his motorcycle he brought it with him to South Africa and so it became the first BMW vehicle to land on South African shores, in 1928.
Another German, #Gunter-Ludwig , started a small garage in 1931 named Club Garage, which later went on to become Club Motors. In 1932 Gunter acquired the rights to become the sole importer of BMW motorcycles to South Africa. By the late 1950s Club Motors imported the first BMW car, the Isetta, and continued to import a range of BMW vehicles until 1968. Club Motors would go on to become one of the biggest independently owned BMW dealerships in South Africa. So what has all this to do with the E12 M535i? Indulge us, if you will, and let us elaborate briefly on how South Africa started a trend of developing unique BMW models.
In the mid-’60s BMW was firmly on the mend; expansion was on the cards, and it set its sights on acquiring the Glas factory in Dingolfing which had been hit by financial difficulties. Glas was relatively well-known for its Goggomobil, somewhat of a rival to the Isetta. The sexiest thing to leave the Glas production-line was arguably the 1700GT designed by Italian Pietro Frua which BMW continued to produce for a short stint as the 1600GT. Glas also produced a 1700 Saloon (also penned by the Frua design studio in Turin) which would have been in direct competition to BMW’s 1800.
And so with the constellations aligned a path was set in motion in 1968 whereby Pretoria businessman Hannes Pretorius, together with Gunter Ludwig (of Club Motors), his son and several other shareholders formed Euro-Republic Automobile Distributors (Pty) Ltd. This is the very company that would assemble the Glas-bodied 1700 into the 1800 SA and 2000 SA under license at the Rosslyn plant just outside Pretoria. BMW AG shipped the four-door bodies and tooling it inherited from the Glas outfit to Rosslyn where they were fitted with the M10 1773cc and 1990cc motors. Brazil was the only other country in the southern hemisphere that these cars were exported to. In 1972 BMW AG took complete ownership of Euro-Republic Automobile Distributors (Pty) Ltd which became a subsidiary of the German company, by which time the operation was also assembling the larger E3 2500 and 2800 saloons, followed eventually by the 3.0S.
In 1974 the SA models were updated (by raiding the parts-bin of other models) and brought closer inline with the look of BMW models of the time. The taillights from the E12 were installed upside down, the front received the grille from the E3 and front indicators from the E9 Coupés. At last, sporting the BMW kidney in the centre of the grille, these models were renamed the 1804 and 2004.
Talk about hybrids! After it took complete ownership, BMW AG invested 9 million Rand (approximately £5.6 million) on tooling and assembly setup for the E12 5 Series which was launched in South Africa in 1974, two years after it had made its European debut.
In 1972 BMW was brimming with excitement as it was in the final stages of constructing its four-cylinder headquarters and BMW Museum in Munich, a stone’s throw away from the Olympic Park where Germany hosted the 1972 Olympics. It also launched the E12 5 Series, named as such either because it happened to be the fifth in the range of the Neue Klasse or because it fitted in the middle slot in the new range/series… you decide! The Five was, however, the car that started the naming ‘Series’; penned by Paul Bracq with more rounded edges, a sloping rear and front indicators integrated into the bumper. It definitely was a more modern automobile, with a more driver-focused instrument layout; it consisted of a safety cell, reinforced sills and strengthened frontal structure. The introduction of the E12 5 Series, however, made BMW less of an exotic and more of a mainstream car manufacturer.
One can’t possibly talk about the South African M535i without mentioning the 530 MLE, developed as a homologation special in South Africa to go racing in. The initial production figure was 100 but demand was such that over 200 were produced. This is truly the first car to make it out of the M stable – even relying on Schnitzer expertise with the development. The 530 MLE is probably the most significant of the unique BMWs produced in South Africa, a race car offered in race trim to the road-going motorist – designed for the track and sold to the public in order to qualify to go racing. It is the closest BMW came to producing a track car for public roads prior to the M3.
It would also have a consequential outcome on the development of the #BMW-M535i . Let’s make a very brief acquaintance. Exterior: deep front spoiler and boot spoiler, made of fibreglass with extended wheel arches. M tricolour stripes adorned the shoulder of the car as well as the front and rear spoilers. Lightweight construction: body fabricated from aluminium and lighter gauge steel, drilled boot hinges and foot pedals. Interior: Scheel front bucket seats, foam base rear-bench and special Motor Sport steering. Engine: #M30 3.0-litre overhead cam motor tweaked by Schnitzer, with twin Zenith down-draught carburetors, special cam, competition flywheel plus an engine oil cooler. Running gear: close-ratio five-speed dog-leg ‘box with a limited-slip diff, Bilstein dampers, stiffer springs and thicker anti-roll bars. This all resulted in the MLE achieving 197hp at 6000rpm and 204lb ft of torque at 4300rpm.
The 530 MLE achieved tremendous success on the track in South Africa over a short racing career but it was the most successful E12 racer in the world and in no small part thanks to Eddie Keizan and Paddy Driver behind the wheel. In his book, Unbeatable BMW Jeremy Walton attributed these cars as the closest to a works 5 Series BMW achieved in a road car. Sebastian de Latour did a feature on a replica 530 racer in the 2011 September issue of BMW Car and as part of his South African trip did a full feature on the 530 MLE in the 2013 March issue of BMW Car.
After the 200 odd 530 MLEs sold, BMW SA continued to produce the 530 as the flagship in the 5 Series range. These cars, however, were far removed from the homologation special, still sporting a 3.0-litre M30 motor. They had little in common with the original and were really just sporting luxury saloons. It is significant to look at the M535i when it was launched in Europe as the car that was introduced in South Africa two years later was slightly different. At the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1979 BMW unveiled for the first time a car that would be mass produced that would wear the Motorsport badge. The E12 M535i was available in European markets from 1979 to the end of May 1981 with a total of 1410 being made, of which 450 were right-hand drive.
The engine was the same unit used in the E24 635CSi which had been developed from the in-line six-cylinder found in the Batmobile and closely linked to the #M88 motor which powered the M1 supercar. The 3453cc engine has a bore of 93.4mm and a stroke of 84mm with a SOHC iron-block using Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection resulting in 218hp at 5200rpm and 224lb ft of torque at 4000rpm. The suspension geometry was similar to that of a regular Five with Macpherson struts in the front and semitrailing arms in the rear. The M division did, however, provide uprated springs with Bilstein dampers. Brakes comprised the standard four-pot brake callipers but with 3mm thicker ventilated discs up front. To put the power down a five-speed close-ratio Getrag gearbox with a limited-slip differential was fitted.
What really got pulses racing were the embellishments: the deep colour-coded air dam, a chunky rubber boot spoiler, and BBS 6.5x14-inch cross-spoke alloys. Ice white cars got the tricolour BMW Motorsport stripes running down the side (by now made famous by the 2002 Turbo). In keeping with the sports theme Recaro Sports seats and an M1 steering were also on offer.
You could, however, order a sleeper devoid of the trimmings which even meant excluding the M badges. The M535i was the fastest Saloon car on the planet, a trend which BMW still tries to uphold today with the Five. At the time it was good for 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 138mph.
The South African M535i was launched in 1981, two years after the European version. It was to be the replacement for the more civilised 530 that had been sold after the departure of the MLE. The South African M535i was not offered with the front air dam, rear spoiler or M tricolour stripes of the European model, which was pretty strange given that just a few years earlier BMW SA had offered the 530 MLE race car as a road-legal vehicle with all the fireworks including the war-paint to anyone with the right amount of cash. The MLE literally paved the way for the M535i, demonstrating what could be done with a big block six-cylinder in a medium-sized saloon. BMW SA also did not see the need on launch to offer the close-ratio gearbox, instead a normal H-pattern ’box with overdrive was fitted.
Other than that it pretty much was standard fare, on the outside with just the usual smattering of M badges. Also standard were the 7x14-inch #BBS crossspoke alloy wheels with the centre caps bearing the BMW Motorsport logo.
Underneath it again had the M30 3453cc engine with #Bosch-L-Jetronic injection, strengthened stabiliser bars front and rear with Bilstein gas dampers and a ZF 25 per cent limited-slip diff. On the inside there were Sports Recaro seats, an M1 steering, a Pioneer radio/tape deck with amp (European markets mostly got Blaupunkt), electric windows, air-con, electric mirrors, power-steering and central-locking all as standard. An electric steel sunroof was a cost option. The M535i produced 218hp (160kW) at 5200rpm and 228lb ft (310Nm) at 4000rpm and was good for 138mph (222km/h) at the top end. Wheels magazine compared it to a Porsche 928 and Car magazine in South Africa had the following to say: “The new M535i is difficult to categorise. It’s not a pure sports sedan like the 530, nor is it pure luxury car. To some extent it combines the best elements of both to produce a really fast car with a high standard of comfort and equipment.”
While the rest of the world in 1982 was gearing up to become acquainted with the E28 5 Series, South Africa continued with its hybrid philosophy. With manufacturing volumes too low and retooling deemed too expensive the entire E12 5 Series model range received instead the new E28 5 Series dashboard (which became known as the E12/8) and fuel-injection also became standard across the range. With the new E28 dash the cockpit inside the M535i definitely became more driver- centric with the instrument cluster and controls focused on the driver. New technological marvels were introduced equipping the car with a service interval indicator, fuel consumption indicator, and active check control above the rear view mirror in a padded safety panel – checking seven key functions.
Unfortunately, the South African M535i was once again deprived of the M aero-kit but for the first time the close-ratio Getrag five-speed dog-leg ‘box was available as a free option. Both gearboxes (five-speed overdrive) were paired with a taller 3.07:1 final drive. The M535i also had a unique set of tyres and wheels: metric-sized 165x390mm alloy wheels, as used on some European E28s fitted with 200/60VR390 #Michelin-TRX tyres. When Car magazine South Africa tested it, it concluded: “It’s a great car – developed specially by the Motor Sport Division of BMW A.G. for the motorist who wants exceptional performance in a luxury sedan.” Only 1416 examples of the Model 4709 E12 M535i hybrid were assembled in South Africa until production ended in December 1984. It was then replaced by the E28 M535i in January 1985.
Enough with the #BMW-SA history lesson, let’s get acquainted with this M hybrid. It’s hard to believe that the M535i in front of us is 33 years old and yet this is a very honest car that gets driven regularly. It is definitely no show queen; the odometer shows 110,203 miles (177,355km). One definitely gets the sense that BMW’s philosophy at the time was to build cars that would stand the test of time. The Polaris silver paint works well with the chrome accents. The #Alpina shovel-spoiler in the front suits the car much better than the standard air dam that was fitted to European models as the lines are just so much cleaner and sharper. Step to the back and the spoiler found on the boot is also from Alpina. It’s smaller in size than the M article and again cleaner, in my opinion. Sometimes less is more. The stance is perfect thanks to a set of BBS cross-spoke rims 7x16 inches in the front and 8x16 inches at the rear as found on the E23 745i. It is rounded off with ContiPremiumContact 2 rubber (205/55R16 in the front and 225/50R16 at the rear) which fills the arches nicely. As I open the door I am transported back to my youth, the E12 is the very reason for my fascination with BMW. I remember there was a car that I drooled over almost every day. I could not miss it as it was on my way home from school. It was a Petrol blue E12 528i. A few years later a friend bought an E12 M535i in Henna red. It was my first experience with a dog-leg ’box, it went like a bat from hell. Then being inside the M535i was like being inside the Starship Enterprise, with an orange glow from the instrument binnacle and the red lights from the check control. Such fond memories!
Once inside I am completely gobsmacked; it is immaculate. There is not a crack or a blemish on the dash, it virtually looks new. The Recaros, covered in Marine blue velour, do not even have a scuff. The M gear lever perfect and the biggest show piece has to be the four-spoke Alpina Sports steering.
One turn of the key and the engine sparks to life and in true BMW fashion of cars of this era it quickly settles down into a big block six-cylinder hum. I find these dog-leg boxes still tricky today and the clutch is quite heavy. Drop the clutch and flatten the loud pedal and, exactly as I remember, the M535i squats down on its haunches and the nose reaches for the stratosphere. The exhaust lets off a mechanical growl that’s much different to BMWs of today. This car still feels quick today. Then again it only weighs 1465kg.
The ride is compliant but the trade-off is the body-roll, which is more prevalent than in more modern Bavarian metal. Turn-in is good but not sharp as it relies on a recirculating ball setup but this car feels as solid as when it was new. The fit and finish is perfect. There are no rattles or vibrations. The four-pot brake callipers make easy work of dissipating high speeds and the Bilsteins ensure the wheels stay planted. The owner of the M535i, Shaun Sing, is a BMW Master Technician who started Tune Tech 20 years ago. It’s one of the most reputable independent BMW workshops in South Africa. Tune Tech not only services BMW products it does tuning and performance upgrades and builds race cars. Strangely enough Shaun qualified as an aircraft mechanic but found BMW far more appealing and in 1987 joined the Stuart Bromfield BMW dealership. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ten years ago the original owner brought the car into Tune Tech to have the brakes looked at. Shaun somehow convinced him to part with this rarity. Shaun received the car with all the books/manuals, including the original brochure and a file with all the receipts for work that had been carried out. Since then very little has been done except that the fuel tank has been replaced, as well as all four headlamps, and the Bilsteins have been refurbished. Thankfully Shaun also removed the foglights, got the front spoiler and rear spoiler from Alpina, fitted the Alpina steering and the 745i BBS rims – all cosmetic enhancements that really set off this magnificent piece of South African motoring history.
BMW set the trend for building the fastest Saloon cars in the world and the M535i really is the benchmark from where it all started. The BMW Rosslyn plant continued to build a variety of BMWs which included the E28 M5 and E34 M5, which was also the last in the 5 Series range made at the plant. Today Rosslyn is referred to as plant nine in BMW’s global hierarchy and only manufactures the F30 3 Series Saloon, 330 a day or one every four minutes; 85 percent of production is shipped to about ten markets worldwide. It’s a far cry from the days of the E12/8 M535i.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Ron Silke and Ulrich Thieme of www.e12.de
The M535i was the fastest Saloon car on the planet, a trend which BMW still tries to uphold today with the Five.
These three cars above can be viewed as the forefathers of the ‘South African Special’. The white car at the top is a 2000 SA which was built in South Africa using the shell of a Glas 1700 with BMW mechanicals. (This particular example hails from Rhodesia and was originally known as a Cheetah). The green machine is a post 1974 2000 SA with a BMW grille and upside down E12 rear lights while the E12 below it was the 530 MLE – a locally built homologation special.
Drop the clutch and flatten the loud pedal and the M535i squats down on its haunches and the nose reaches for the stratosphere.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 moderationBLACK EAGLE
This, quite literally, show-stopping UK #E28 boasts an impossibly shiny #M106 under the bonnet, a massive turbo and the small matter of 500hp. In a word: epic. Built with sheer passion and devotion, this stunning 500hp #BMW-E28 is the ultimate evolution of a near decade-long project. Photos: Steve Hall.
We all love our cars (when they’re working) but it’s rare to come across someone for whom their car really is everything to them. Marsel Theodhori is one such man. His passion for his E28 is unrivalled in anyone I’ve ever met, and it’s this raw, unbridled passion for what was once a humble E28 that has driven him to build one of the finest examples out there. I have a soft spot for the E28 – I owned a #518i Lux for a year some time ago, which I bought for the princely sum of £400. It was so charming, characterful and modern in the way it drove, that it instantly became a member of the family. It didn’t miss a beat over those 12 months and when the time came to sell it, I was genuinely sad to see it go. I think about it often and the way it has lodged itself in my memory and affections means I can definitely relate to the way Marsel feels about his.
Marsel is an interesting man – passionate, intense, intimidating perhaps, but a really nice guy and one with more than a few stories to tell. And his E28 is even more interesting. His love for the second generation 5 Series began when he was just 14 years old. “Growing up in Albania, my neighbour had a white E28 #Alpina and every time I saw it, I thought it looked fantastic. I loved the looks and my dream was to one day have a car like that.”
Fast forward to 2005 and by now Marsel was in the UK when he spotted this humble #E28 #525e . He had loved it from afar, with it belonging to his good friend, Nick Rundall. When Nick wanted to move on to a newer model (and knowing that it needed work and that Marsel was in the motor trade), he gifted him the car, beginning a nine-year journey which resulted in the car you see in front of you.
Marsel has named this car the Black Eagle, a touching patriotic nod to his homeland of Albania (whose red flag bears the image of a black double-headed eagle) and the Order of the Black Eagle, the highest title that could be bestowed upon a citizen of Albania.
The last time the E28 saw the outside world was in September 2012. Marsel had spent seven years working on the car at this point and had built it up to a very high standard. He had sourced an M106 engine for it, which was fitted to an #E23 #745i – a 3.4-litre turbocharged straight-six that was loosely based on the #M30 , developing 252hp at 6psi (0.4bar) of boost. That’s a good starting point, but Marsel wasn’t content with that so a whole host of work went into the engine to get it uprated to handle a serious increase in power.
Marsel’s E28 was suitably recognised at that point for the great car it was; it even had a brief moment of fame in print: “It had a feature in Total #BMW in April 2012 and it had been appearing at most of the shows that year. It was putting out 360hp+ and I travelled to a lot of places, enjoying the result of a very long build. I was just making the most of it so I was really driving it hard and the car was responding well. It made an impressive appearance at the Gaydon BMW Festival and the Santa Pod BMW Show that same year where it won Best of Show.”
Show glory is one thing, but 360hp is another and Marsel is the sort of person who enjoys driving his cars. “I’m an engineer by trade but also a very heavy-footed driver,” he says. “I really love driving sports cars to their limits. Well, that pleasure cost me one day when I blew the #K27 turbo, which was the original item fitted to the M106 by BMW. That turbo was designed originally for 0.4bar and I was pushing close to 1bar for about 3000 miles until it started to smoke off throttle. The car came off the road at the end of September 2012.” That’s when Marsel started to think big. He decided to make the most of the unfortunate situation and realise the true potential of his E28: “I wanted to build a car that would win shows and blow people away. I wanted to build the best E28 that I could,” he says.
Step one was choosing a new turbo that would give Marsel the power he was hungry for. “The K27 was removed and I started making plans for a new, more sophisticated turbo. Considering the potential of these engines, I had to seriously consider a major upgrade on all fronts. Unfortunately, in this country we have a limited market for such applications and turbochargers. Therefore there was only one place I could look to: the USA. In the States there are hundreds if not thousands of stockists and manufacturers of performance parts and turbochargers.
“Hunting for the best deals, I came across a #Garrett-GT4202 turbo for half of the UK price and bought it straight away.” The #GT4202 is rated for up to 1000hp, giving Marsel plenty of headroom on the power front. However, it is significantly larger than the K27 so it gave Marsel a bit of a headache when it came to fitting. “I had the turbo hanging from the ceiling at one point,” he explains, “and I was lowering it into the engine bay so I could tie it into place. That meant I could start calculating how it would sit in the engine bay and what sort of manifold I would need to fabricate for it.” The massive turbo fits in the engine bay, just, but there was the small matter of the bonnet getting in the way, so Marsel had a custom item made with a neat cut-out for the turbo to peep through.
While the whole car is finished to an incredibly high standard, the engine is what this car is all about. When the bonnet pops, the engine bay draws in BMW fans like bees to honey. Every square inch of the bay has been polished to within an inch of its life, every hose is braided, every pipe is blue and the blue-and-red colour scheme has been executed with serious attention to detail – the oil filler cap is blue and even the washer fluid and coolant are red and blue.
The turbo sits on a beefy modified M106 manifold with a custom stainless steel top mounted flange neck, with a 4” downpipe, which slims to 3.5” to clear the bulkhead before expanding to 5” for minimum restriction and splitting into two 2.5” pipes which run to a custom Frtiz’s Bits back box. The turbo itself is served by a 5.5” core chargecooler with a custom top panel, itself mated to a 55mm twin-core 500x630mm chargecooler rad. You won’t find any highflow induction kits here – the turbo has been fitted with some silver mesh, presumably to stop people and animals from being sucked in, and that’s it. Beyond the bling, there’s serious engineering evident wherever you look: the turbo is braced against the engine and the entire engine is braced against the strut brace. This is because once, under hard braking, the engine tilted forward a fraction and that was enough to push the viscous fan into the thicker rad that Marsel had fitted. To ensure that doesn’t happen again, he took the precaution of bracing the engine to stop any unwanted movement.
Of course, the dazzlingly shiny exterior is just the tip of an extremely comprehensive iceberg. The data file reads like an engine builder’s wish list and no expense has been spared in building an engine that will deliver a lot of power happily and comfortably, day in, day out.
The H-pattern con rods and #Mahle forged low compression pistons have been carried over from the previous build, along with the #Glyco race bearings, but the ported and polished NA cylinder head is new, as are the titanium double valve springs, sodium-filled exhaust valves and titanium rockers and rocker shaft lockers. The engine is fed by twin #Bosch 044 fuel pumps, and there’s a fuel cooler, 1000cc Bosch injectors and Marsel has used an #E34 #535i inlet manifold with an original 3” reverse-mounted throttle body. It is the engine you would build if you could.
As the old saying goes, power is nothing without control, and Marsel has ensured that every supporting component has been suitably upgraded to ensure that the rest of the E28 can handle all the power that’s being developed by the engine. On the transmission front there’s a fully-rebuilt dogleg gearbox with a custom short clutch master cylinder, M535i driveshaft and propshafts, restored 3.07 M5 LSD and upgraded race-spec motorsport diff mount. Peer under the rear of the car and, as well as an immaculate and impossibly polished back box, you will see the diff cooler and diff pump mounted below. On the suspension front you’ll find #GAZ Gold race coilovers all-round with 550lb springs up front and 250lb rears, which have been carried over from the first build, with fully adjustable rose jointed front upper top mounts, fully adjustable rear top upper mounts, front and rear thicker, uprated antiroll bars, with Powerflex bushes all-round, new wheel bearings and all the various suspension components have either been renewed or reconditioned.
The brake setup that Marsel had first time around worked well enough for him to keep it so he just renewed the components with four-pot front Brembos calipers from an E31 840Ci and 324mm discs and 300mm rear discs mated to E28 #M535i calipers, with Goodridge braided hoses throughout. Marsel hasn’t forgotten about the looks in all of this and has poured his heart into getting the exterior styling exactly to his tastes. The body was stripped and the car was given the full M5 treatment, while new headlights and chrome rear lights have also been fitted. Various components have been polished and rechromed, such as the window surrounds, door handles and the C-pillar inserts, with the resulting brightness contrasting beautifully against the Jet black paint.
The wheels are an interesting choice. Previously, Marsel was running #BBS RSs before switching to these Fomb 17s, which he’d had refurbed in black for its big reveal in 2014. He had been planning to get the BBSs ready for our shoot, but as they needed to be refurbed and have new barrels, it was no small task. Also, as he pointed out, everyone has BBS RSs – they’re gorgeous, classic and iconic wheels, but they are a bit of a trend right now. Marsel wanted something different for the E28 and that’s when he decided to stick with the Fomb wheels, and give them a fresh look by getting the dishes diamond cut. The end result? Pretty spectacular. With an all-black finish, the dishes were completely lost, but now you can really appreciate just how dishy they are and they tie in perfectly with the polished elements across the whole car.
The interior hasn’t been touched during the past two years but it was so nice there was no need to do anything. The retrimmed front seats still looks like new, as do the recolonised rears and, despite the colour, the carpets, door carpets and doorcards are completely original, which is particularly impressive as they are insanely clean.
“I really wanted to impress the UK BMW world by getting out to all the shows this year. I badly wanted this car to shine like a star and drive like a bullet so the final piece of the puzzle was to give the car another remap,” Marsel explains. “The only man that I would ever trust in tuning this car is Sam Borgman at TDI in Lakeside, Essex. Sam and I have spent a considerable amount of time together in perfecting this car. On 3 August the car was on the hub dyno being tuned and ready for the road. Sam had it set within a couple of hours and managed to get a comfortable 500hp which I think is more than enough for driving pleasure. The car is now running like a dream – just like I wanted it to be.” And with that, it was time to unveil his creation to the world.
“The first major show I took the car to was the Gaydon #BMW Festival. It got a lot of interest from all the visitors throughout the day and I had the chance to meet and chat with some true motoring enthusiasts. I had plenty of tech talks during the day and I really enjoyed it. It was actually the first time I had taken my wife Leonora to a car show and she was also amazed as to how many people really loved the car. That day I won Best of Show and I felt very happy and proud of this achievement.”
That’s been pretty much the formula for Marsel and his E28 – turn up to a show, wow the crowd and take home silverware. Almost Famous at the Ace Café? Best of Show. Players? First out of the top 20. Santa Pod BMW Show? Best of Show, which, as we mentioned, he’d already won with the car in its previous incarnation back in 2012. Then there was the time he went along to VAGRoots for fun and, despite it being a VW Audi event, he also won the show. But Marsel said he had set out to build a showwinning car, and that’s exactly what he’s got.
“I believe that I might just have built something extra special. An E28 with a great character and amazing features, fine definition and desirable styling. A powerful, black, mean, luxurious, classic BMW E28 from the ’80s had to be the car for me. Building a car like this has not been easy. I’ve had a real love/hate relationship with the car. Throughout the build it has tested my patience many times but I never gave up and, having spent nearly ten years building it, I have had the opportunity to meet some great guys along the way that have become good friends.”
Ultimately, it’s all been worth it and the results speak for themselves. It’s an astounding build, technically outstanding and finished to a very high standard. More than anything, it’s fantastic to see someone pouring this much love into an E28 and helping to preserve one of these classics in such spectacular fashion. Furthermore, with no intention of ever selling it, this E28 will always remain part of Marsel’s family.
ENGINE: 3.4-litre straight-six M106 ( #M30B34MAE also called version M30 engine with turbo and pistons), new H-pattern con rods, Mahle forged low compression pistons, Glyco race bearings, ARP full bottom end bolt kit, lapped fully balanced crankshaft, flywheel, clutch and front vibration damper. #S38 clutch and non-dual mass flywheel, E34 535i modified oil pump (50psi idle) crown cooler spray oil jets located at the main block housings, M5 engine relocated oil cooler, ported and polished NA cylinder head, forged M106 turbo camshaft, titanium double valve springs, sodium filled exhaust valves, new stainless steel valve seats and new re-cut inlet valves, titanium rockers and rocker shaft lockers from PPM, custom head gasket made by PPM, full engine gasket kit, new water pump, customised aftermarket #E36 M3 60mm core radiator, #E39 #M5 viscous clutch and blade, 41mm Samco top and bottom hoses, new expansion tank and level sensor, Omex standalone 710 ECU, Bosch lambda sensor, Vauxhall V6 Vectra coil pack, new custom cut and made to suitable lengths 8mm silicone high performance HT leads, #NGK heat range nine spark plugs, 3bar map sensor, Omex TPS, fully stripped and rebuilt polished alternator and fixings, new Bosch starter motor, twin Bosch 044 gravity fed fuel pumps, fuel cooler, 1000cc Bosch EV14 injectors, Aeromotive A-1000 FPR, AN-8 Aeroquip teflon supply and AN-6 return fuel pipes, modified E34 535i inlet, 3” original reversemounted throttle body, 3” aluminium and Samco pipe work, 5.5” core aftermarket chargecooler, Bosch EVT water pump, 55mm twin core 500x630 chargecooler radiator, AN12 Aeroquip feed and return water pipes and fixings, modified #BMW-M106 turbo manifold, custom stainless steel flange top mounted neck, original M106 stainless #M10 exhaust studs x 12, GT4202 Garrett turbo, HKS 60mm external wastegate, 4” downpipe reduced to 3.5” by the bulkhead, 5” by 300mm flexi joint then split to 2x2.5” pipes all the way to custom turbo Fritz’s Bits back box, 4x M10 rose jointed supportive custom alloy bars.
TRANSMISSION: Fully rebuilt five-speed dog-leg gearbox, custom short clutch master cylinder and relocated fluid container, M535i driveshafts and propshaft, restored 3.07 M5 LSD, diff cooler and pump AN-10 Aeroquip fixings and braided teflon hoses, upgraded race-spec Motorsport diff mount, all bolts and mountings replaced with stainless spec and chrome plated items.
CHASSIS: 8.5x17” (front and rear) Fomb wheels with 235/45 Bridgestone tyres, GAZ gold race coilover kit with 550lb front springs and 250lb rears, fully adjustable front upper top mounts rose jointed, fully adjustable rear top upper mounts rose jointed, rose jointed rear lower shock pin mounts, all suspension components replaced or reconditioned, all steering linkages renewed, new front Motorsport anti-roll bars 25mm front and 19mm rear, Powerflex bushes all-round, reinforced front lower alloy brace under the bumper, #E31 #840Ci four-pot #Brembo calipers (front) with 324x30mm discs, E28 M353i calipers (rear) with 300x15mm discs, Goodridge braided hoses all-round, E32 master cylinder, all original hard pipes re-powdercoated green.
EXTERIOR: M5-spec body styling, new wings doors and bootlid, Shadowline bumpers, custom turbo bonnet, Motorsport rear spoiler with carbon fibre top section, green tinted cabin glass with blue front windscreen upper sun visor, Moon roof glass panel with purple fibre wind deflector, new headlights and chrome rear lights, original rear number plate, window trims and door handles polished and rechromed by Ospreys metal finishers in Borehamwood, all window rubber weather strips were replaced.
INTERIOR: Front seats retrimmed by B-Trim, rears recolonised, new dashboard, original carpet, doorcards and headlining, new gear knob colour-coded in interior leather, new Motorspost odometer, new tachometer, new M Tech 1 steering wheel.
THANKS: All the people that have contributed to the build and to maintaining this vehicle: Daryl, Paul, John and Ryan at Osprey Metal Finishers, Rob, Miles and Chris at Hartoms Engineering, Alex Austin at Torques UK, Richard and Dave at Fritz’s Bits, Guy Higgs at Omex UK, Neil, Adam and John at BTrim, Sam and Mark at TDI, Simon, Eldwin and Dave at EMP Exhausts, Richard Ryan and Carlos at Manor Body in Enfield, also thank you to my family for their support and to Drive-My.
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- Post is under moderationLIMITLESS
Many of us dream of building a seriously big-power #BMW , but few people make that into a reality. This 1004whp E21 sleeper is a very real dream build. With 1004whp, this incredible turbocharged #E21 goes above and beyond the concept of fast… Words: Seb de Latour. Photos: Patrik Karlsson.
You might, having just read that little intro, be wondering how much power is too much power. If you’re thinking that, this feature probably isn’t for you. In fact, maybe you should just put down #Drive-My and pick up a copy of Crochet Monthly or something along those lines. The correct answer to the above question is, of course, that there is no such thing as too much power. Okay, if we’re being absolutely sensible then, yes, 1004whp might be a little tricky to deploy in the middle of a downpour or, more likely in owner Joni Simila’s home country of Sweden, in the middle of a crisp, white winter but then you can either jump in something more suitable or travel in a far more sideways fashion. More power means you can go faster and going fast is most definitely a good thing. And when you reach, and manage to break through, the 1000hp barrier, well, there are few bigger feathers for your cap. 1000hp is a magical, almost fantasy realm of power, a number so large and incomprehensible to mere mortals that attempting to understand what 1000hp could possibly be like will see your brain melting and dripping out through your ears. True fact.
For Joni, 1000whp, and just a fraction more, is something he’s most definitely managed to wrap his brain around and something he’d wanted from the off when he started this build. His interest in cars began when he was young, watching and helping his dad fix them. When he was a bit older he bought a motocross bike which he worked on. At school he took a course in car mechanics. During this time he also watched his brother play around with various modified cars. The seeds were sown and as Joni grew so did his passion for all things automotive.
His first car was a 1.6 1988 #Honda-Civic hatchback and that’s fine, because we’ve all got to start somewhere, but having sampled the particular pleasures offered by rearwheel drive in his brother’s E28 M535i, a BMW purchase was inevitable. It began with an #E30 #323i Exclusive with a #325i engine but the first big project was an E28 M535i sleeper which featured a turbo and made 715whp and 634lb ft of torque at 2bar of boost. He sold it in 2012, inspired to go bigger and better, as he explains: “When I sold my E28, I only sold it because I wanted to build a 1000whp sleeper car and it’s hard to get that sort of power from the E28’s M30 engine. After the E28 sold I bought an E36 M3 to build up. I bought it in the middle of summer and took it to some meets. However, all the other cars I saw at meets were also E36s in different styles. As a result I decided that it wasn’t a special enough car, like the E28 was, so I traded it in for an E21 with one of the owners of Pure Performance Factory (PPF).”
Joni may have known that he wanted a big project but it all got going a lot sooner than expected as, approximately one-hour into E21 ownership, the diff broke. “I towed the car home, rolled it into the garage, lifted it up and started planning,” says Joni, matter-of-factly.
With a target of 1000whp the engine had to be rebuilt to be able to generate (and deal with) that sort of power level, and that’s after you’ve chosen an engine for the task in hand. Joni opted for the S50B32 before taking the whole thing to pieces. “I dismantled and reassembled the engine with the help of my cousins and a friend did the headwork and lined up the camshafts,” he explains. The intake and exhaust channels were ported and then the cylinder head was fitted with chromoloy retainers, PPF valve springs, a copper ring head gasket, ARP bolts and all-new gaskets throughout. The block was sent off to an engine specialist and treated to CP pistons with heavy-duty pins, PPF forged H-beam rods with ARP bolts, a support girdle with ARP bolts, new bearings, a new oil pump, new water pump and gaskets before everything was balanced and checked for bearing play.
With the foundations set, Joni was now able to put together the turbo setup. As his day job is being a welder and iron worker he was able to do all of the pipework manufacture and welding himself. For the turbo, he turned to Precision Turbo and opted for a monster PT7675, which carries a horsepower rating of 1160 and features a 76mm compressor wheel and 75mm turbine wheel, along with a 46mm wastegate. This giant snail needed a home, so a suitably beefy manifold was constructed along with a custom intake and then a custom 3.5” turboback exhaust was fabricated, which then splits into two 3” pipes running to the rear bumper with a silencer on each. A PPF intercooler and 76mm blow-off valve were selected along with an Allstar aluminium radiator and Spall fan plus a 19-row oil cooler. With such a massive turbo chucking so much air into the engine, the S50 has developed a voracious appetite for fuel and needs some pretty heavy-duty hardware to ensure it gets enough of what it needs. The engine runs 1600cc Racetronix injectors, two Aeromotive A1000 fuel pumps, a custom-built 60-litre fuel cell with a 2.5-litre catch tank, VAG COM ignition coils and the whole thing is looked after by MaxxECU engine management.
The end result is 1004whp, somewhere in the region of 1200hp at the flywheel, with 780lb ft of torque, which is enough to be getting on with. That’s going to put a serious strain on the drivetrain so every component along the way has been uprated. There’s a Sachs 765 pressure plate mated to a fourpuck sintered clutch disc and an M30 flywheel; the five-speed gearbox is from an #E39 #530d and there are 128mm chromoly CV-joints with super durable driveshafts. On the suspension front there are Bilstein dampers all-round with custom-built coilovers up front along with Strongflex bushes and an #E28 #M535i rear end with camber and toe adjustment. The brakes have been upgraded but perhaps not as much as you’d expect and rather than a massive off-the-shelf BBK Joni has opted for a set of four-piston E32 750i calipers mated to E36 M3 discs and GreenStuff pads, while at the rear there’s a set of E34 540i calipers and discs, also with GreenStuff pads.
Aesthetically speaking, this is one extremely sexy E21 and you couldn’t really ask for more of a sleeper. “The plan for the exterior was pretty clear,” explains Joni on his route with the styling and colour choice.
“My cousin, who is a car painter, decided the colour, otherwise he would not paint the car! I wanted the car to have a clean, original look so the BBS front spoiler, single headlights, clear turn signal lights, slightly tinted rear lights and BMW Motorsport handles was enough.” The car was painted in a lovely Fiat metallic grey called Grigio Vinci that really suits the E21 and looks great when the light hits it and picks out the flake; plus it adds to the subtle look of the whole project. On the wheel front, Joni wanted 10x17s at the rear with a wide lip and found these staggered Keskin KT1s for sale online at a good price. Fake splits they may be but they’re good-looking wheels, having taken their inspiration from OZ Futuras, though Joni plans to get rid of these and move to a set of real split-rims at some stage.
Inside, things have been kept pretty simple. The seats are the stock items and the only real changes are the RRS steering wheel and the modified instrument cluster, with Hartge speedo and additional VDO gauges, while the dash has also been given a good flocking. A custom leather retrim is planned for the winter, says Joni.
This is an incredibly comprehensive build, more than a year’s worth of work culminating in an unfeasibly powerful E21 that many a BMW fan would aspire to. However, in retrospect there are a number of things Joni would have done differently if he could and things that he plans to change. “If money was no object I would replace the stock camshafts with some meaner ones, fit a Vanos unit and replace the stock valves with some oversized race valves,” he says. “But my plans for next season, as well as getting new wheels and a custom leather interior, are to fit some stronger driveshafts and I will probably find many other things to change along the way. Winter time here in Sweden is long.”
A lot has gone into building this #BMW-E21 but Joni’s now got exactly what he wanted and he’s over the moon with the car. 1000hp takes dedication and a whole lot of hard work but one look at this E21 will tell you that it’s worth it, and then some.
ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S50B32 , ported intake and exhaust channels, chromoly retainers, PPF valve springs, copper ring head gasket, ARP bolts, all-new gaskets, CP pistons with heavy duty pins, PPF forged H-beam rods with ARP bolts, support girdle with ARP bolts, new bearings, new oil pump, new water pump, new gaskets, everything balanced and checked for bearing play, Precision Turbo PT7675 a/r 0.96 turbocharger, Precision Turbo 46mm wastegate, custom turbo manifold, custom 3.5” downpipe and 3.5” exhaust with x2 3” rear pipes with single silencer one each side, PPF 600x300x76mm intercooler, PPF 75mm blow-off valve, custom intake, Allstar aluminium radiator, 19-row oil cooler, Spal radiator fan, MaxxECU engine management, VAG COP ignition coils, 1600cc Racetronix injectors, two Aeromotive A1000 fuel pumps, Aeromotive 13109 regulator, custom 60-litre fuel cell with built-in 2.5-litre catch tank, An8 fuel feed and An6 fuel return.
TRANSMISSION: E39 530d Getrag five-speed manual gearbox, Sachs 765 pressure plate, four-puck sintered clutch disc, BMW M30 flywheel, 128mm chromoly CV joints with super durable driveshafts.
CHASSIS: 8.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #Keskin KT1 wheels with 205/40 (front) and 225/45 (rear) tyres, E28 M535i rear end, modified to fit with camber and toe adjustment, Strongflex bushes front and rear, custom front coilovers, Bilstein dampers front and rear, #BMW-E32 #750i four-piston calipers with #E36 #M3 discs and GreenStuff pads (front), #BMW-E34 #540i calipers and discs with GreenStuff pads (rear).
EXTERIOR: Full respray in Fiat Grigio Vinci metallic grey, BBS front spoiler, single headlights, clear indicators, slightly tinted rear lights, BMW Motorsport door handles.
INTERIOR: Standard seats, flocked dashboard and centre console, RRS suede-rimmed steering wheel, BMW M gear knob, modified gauge panel with BMW E30 Hartge speedo and VDO oil pressure and oil temp gauges.
THANKS: Pure Performance Factory, Keijo, Toni, Mika, Henka, Jim, Robban, Promille, Lars, PPG, Weldor AB, Lackspecialisten Köping, Kolsva Vattenskärning and all of you who have helped in one way or another.
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- Post is under moderationDouble Trouble. A pair of #BMW-E30 #M3 s over in Australia that are modified in very different ways to do very similar things. We meet two owners in Australia with a pair of modified E30 M3s for the track and road that follow very different paths to achieve similar goals… Words: Simon Holmes. Photography: Brodie Butler.
If there was ever an automotive example to best capsulate the expression ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’ then it’s this pair of E30s. These two Australian-based cars are both genuine M3s and both are heavily modified to be hugely effective on both the road and track. But their owners Phil Peak and Scott Lockhart have taken very different approaches and their cars are as different as chalk and cheese, or black and white to use a more accurate analogy. Exterior-wise they may seem similar, aside from the polar opposite Touring Car liveries, but inside and, more importantly, under the bonnet they are very different machines.
We’ll start with Phil’s car, the Diamond black example that perhaps represents the more orthodox side of M3 tuning. Powered by a heavily breathed upon S14 engine that’s pumping out 217hp at the wheels, with the rev limit set to only 7200rpm, it certainly suits the Touring Car theme! As you might expect, Phil is no stranger to a #BMW , particularly an E30, although he admits he was actually an avid VW enthusiast before making the transition over to BMWs. It began with an #E30 #325is he purchased in 1997 from a friend but he admits he’s been fond of them for much longer. “I’ve always liked BMWs really,” recalls Phil. “I was in my late teens living in West Germany when the E30s were released. They had an M3 at the local dealership and I remember looking at it every time I went past thinking ‘one day…’.”
He’s since owned several rather fine E30s over the years including a convertible fitted with an S50 engine from an E36 M3. But his boyhood dream to own a genuine M3 took a little longer to fulfill as other commitments had always posed a problem and it wasn’t helped by the fact E30 M3s are rather difficult to find in Australia. So when the right chance came up at the right time to own this car he jumped at it. “I was lucky enough to know the previous owner,” tells Phil. “He had just imported the car from Japan after buying it blind at auction and after taking delivery he got a job offer he couldn’t turn down. He didn’t want to take the car with him so I knew he had to sell it before he moved. We came to an agreement on price and I bought it off him.”
Finally, the elusive E30 M3 was his, except this particular car was in what Phil describes as “fairly average condition”, having been fitted with an aftermarket front fibreglass bumper and a mismatched interior. The car had also received a poor quality blow over respray in Japan for the auction and then there was the small matter of mechanical health. “The performance was a big let down after driving the #S50 -powered convertible. Even though this only had 114,000km on the clock the engine most definitely needed a freshen up but I knew I could sort all that out,” he explains.
A mechanical fitter by trade, and not one to do things by halves, Phil developed a plan to thoroughly restore the tired M3 and rebuild it into a usable and capable all-rounder for both the road and track: “My intentions with the car have always been to bring it back to its former glory no matter how long it takes, as this car is a keeper. And I wanted to drive it on the track as I don’t believe in garage queens.”
Initially, Phil intended to address the bodywork first but after testing the water with the car at a track day he decided it would be best to sort out the mechanical side of things before anything else. “The engine was lacking a bit of power so I decided to tear the whole thing down and do a full rebuild with the aim of improving things along the way,” he says. “I set about finding all the various parts for the rebuild and once I had them I sent the block away to be rebored and the cylinder head went to VAC Motorsports in the USA for one of their Stage 3 head builds.”
The block was treated to a 2.3-litre competition spec rebuild with heavily uprated internals. Ready for the head’s return, Schrick cams and a carbon fibre DTM-style intake were put aside along with plenty of other tasty bits. The engine build actually took nearly two years to complete from start to finish due to other commitments, or “life getting in the way” as Phil puts it. In the meantime, with the engine build at least started Phil began on other areas that required his attention and the interior was next on the list.
First of all he sourced the correct front seats and then got hold of a full retrim kit from Germany, along with an M3 Sport Evo steering wheel, gear knob and footrest. “I like to have a few creature comforts. I didn’t want to gut the interior and stick a cage in as it’s not a dedicated track car, plus it’s illegal over here to drive around in a stripped-down car with a cage.”
With that covered, next came the exterior. Not wanting to deviate too far from the M3’s iconic look, Phil chose his additions carefully in the shape of an M3 Evo rear wing and matching front lip spoiler along with smoked headlights, tail-lights and indicator lenses. The look is finished off perfectly with the 8x16-inch BBS three-piece split-rims that closely mimic the original style. However, it’s the livery that makes the biggest visual impact and it was fitted in an effort to brighten up the Japanese blow over paint job, which certainly seems to have worked. “Of course, the car is the wrong colour for the original Warsteiner graphics but I thought they looked okay in reverse colours so decided to go for it,” Phil reveals. “The graphics don’t look too out of place. When I eventually get the paint done I will be happy with the black-on-black look as I think that’s the best exterior/interior colour combo but I think it will be like this for a while as I want to enjoy the car a bit before getting it painted.”
When the engine was eventually back together it was time for the first drive and thankfully it proved to be everything he had hoped for. “The first real drive after the rebuild was great,” Phil grins. “On the dyno we set the rev limit to 7200rpm to be safe and got 217hp at the wheels with it still pulling really strong at the limiter. It’s not far off my cabriolet in terms of power but so much better to drive.”
The rebuild took three whole years to complete and Phil tells us the hardest and most frustrating part was actually sourcing bits and getting them delivered, as virtually everything had to be imported. The car isn’t completely finished yet but Phil is understandably pretty happy with what he’s achieved since owning it as the M3 already puts a lot of bigger power cars in their place on track. “Over here they are all into big V8s and muscle cars and it certainly holds its own,” Phil says. “The noise from the carbon fibre intake is my favourite part – it just screams and puts a huge grin on people’s faces. The suspension needs improvement now the power is sorted but this build still has a long way to go to get the car where I want it to be. But as it’s a work in progress I’m really happy with the way things are going.” Future plans also include a revised engine map so then the rev limit can be raised to the untold reaches of 8500rpm and that should release a bit more power, too.
Speaking of more power, now seems like a fine time to introduce Scott’s Alpine white M3. Whereas Phil has gone to town on the original S14, Scott’s car is a little less conventional, having been fitted with an S50 six-cylinder that happens to be turbocharged to produce a huge 480hp at the wheels. Fair to say it’s a beast, but it’s just at home on a track as Phil’s car is and that was always the intention.
Much like Phil, Scott’s interest for BMWs also developed some years ago and it began with an E30. It started in 1995 when he was lucky enough to stumble across a rare John Player Special E30 323i Coupé at an upmarket car dealership in Perth. A very limited number of these special edition cars were built to celebrate BMW’s victories at the famous Bathurst race in Australia during the 1980s. The cars featured iconic black paintwork with gold pinstripes, Recaro seats, an LSD and gold JPS insignias on the C-pillars. Scott was still at uni at the time but it was love at first sight for him and he had to have it.
He bought the car and then lavished his time and money on the car over the next few years, spending nearly every pay check he had upgrading the engine, suspension and wheels. It rewarded him with a lifelong appreciation for the brand, though. “That car, and the shear ease with which it connected me as a driver started my obsession with BMWs and it’s been a love affair ever since,” he states.
That’s not an understatement either as he’s since gone on to own a vast array of interesting BMWs. He still owns a fine fleet, worthy of a What’s in your Garage? feature, comprising an #E60 #M5 , an #E24 #635CSi , an #E28 #M535i and an #E30 #323i Coupé. “I love collectible BMWs, preferably with some sort of motorsport connection,” he says. His dream car is a #BMW-M1 but the E30 M3 is a close second, and that’s the one we’re interested in – for now, at least.
For Scott, the M3 has always been an iconic car and when it came to eventually replacing his first E30 love there was only one suitable choice, as he explains: “I never got over having to sell my E30 JPS when I left Australia in #1998 to further my career in London. While I owned that car I always wanted an M3 but couldn’t afford one. I’m lucky that my wife, Marissa, is also a huge car fan and when I told her I was considering adding another BMW to our fleet she immediately took to the shape of the E30 M3.”
However, as Phil found, finding an #BMW-M3-E30 in Australia is tricky and Scott had to use all his resources, both near and far, to locate one. “I had friends looking in the USA and the UK for me, while I spent most nights glued to my computer screen checking out VIN numbers, history and pictures,” he explains. “After about a month my wife asked, ‘why haven’t you looked locally?’ to which I replied, ‘well, honey there aren’t very many of these cars, so finding one in Perth would be a longshot.’ At that point she had already found one for sale, 20 minutes from our house, and in Alpine white no less. With only a very small handful of these cars in Australia, I was amazed, and now I listen intently when my wife talks BMWs,” he admits.
The car was not exactly what you would call a perfect standard example, though. Far from it, in fact. The original S14 motor was long gone, apparently having made its way into a 2002. In its place was the S50 conversion complete with turbo already fitted. This wasn’t an issue for Scott as it happened to suit his overall plan for the car as the #M3 was destined for heavy track use. “I wanted something that was able to produce more power than the S14 with track car reliability. S14s can create great power but they can become quite fragile on long events. The newer #BMW-M3 engine with a little boost added for a bit more of a surprise was the way to go for me,” Scott tells us.
Having competed in club level events for a few years in a modified R32 Nissan Skyline GTR, the intention was to introduce his love of BMWs into his competitive racing. But with the likes of heavily modified Mitsubishi Evos and Nissan GTRs to compete against, the more modern engine helped level the playing field in terms of power. However, there was work to do before it could start battling on track with tuned Japanese machinery as although the turbocharged S50 engine was in place it was barely running, largely due to electrical issues. There were also plenty of other problems to address. “It looked great when I purchased it but it needed time spent on it to deal with the electrical gremlins. It also needed new wiring, brakes, wheels, a livery and a decent tune,” Scott states.
On the plus side, the paintwork was in good condition having recently been resprayed to a high standard. Influenced by the Touring Cars he watched when growing up, Scott decided the Warsteiner livery would suit the car well. The 1980s Touring Carinspired theme extended into the cabin and although the car was already stripped of an interior when he got it, Scott had it blasted, cleaned and painted Touring Car-style glossy grey inside. The DTM gearshift knob will soon be joined by a full DTM dash to replace the current Stack unit, too.
The build to bring the car up to a good, working standard took nearly a year and plenty was changed in that time. The work was entrusted to Galvsport in Perth and the guys there spent many hours on the car. Scott remembers the first time he went out in it as it was actually Josh from Galvsport who first took me for a spin. “It was in the Warsteiner colours, numbers on the doors, no bonnet, race tyres, race seats and harnesses and all in peak hour traffic, it was a blast. I was stunned how quick it was from the passenger seat, and it wasn’t long before I got a chance to drive it on the track,” he enthuses.
Scott reports that the car does, in fact, handle the power very well on track and on occasion it’s also driven on the road, usually to and from events or for a spin up and down the coast. But wherever he goes it gets a great reaction. “Everyone young and old loves it and it gets a lot of attention. Nobody knows what to expect from it and not only is it rare, it is well balanced and easy to drive, it puts a smile on your face every time,” says Scott. “They say that a good track car drives terribly on the road and while my M3 certainly is no M5, it still drives very well. The power delivery is like a light switch in low gears but if you cruise in fourth or fifth it is very enjoyable to squeeze on some of that boost on the open roads.”
Future plans for the car involve improving grip further as there’s more development work to be done on the suspension setup to improve what’s there. There’s even talk of a bit more boost and Scott would like to enter the car in Targa road rallies once the suspension has been fine tuned to deal with the bumpy roads.
So there you have it. Two very different ways to effectively achieve a very similar impact. We would happily take either one.
Phil’s Black M3
ENGINE & GEARBOX: #S14 2.3-litre producing 217hp @ 7200rpm at the wheels, VAC Motorsport Stage 3 cylinder head, 1mm oversized valves, balanced and blueprinted, VAC valve springs with titanium retainers, Schrick 284 intake and 276 exhaust cams, VAC adjustable cam sprockets, 48mm throttle bodies, Volvo green injectors, carbon fibre DTM-style intake plenum, 50/50 headers mated to full stainless steel Supersprint race exhaust, Miller MAF Conversion with WAR Chip engine management, fully rebuilt /balanced bottom end by Galloways race engineering using CP 2.3 competition spec pistons (11:1 compression), OS Gieken clutch and lightweight flywheel, Dogleg gearbox 3.7:1 differential with LSD.
CHASSIS: Tein coilovers all round, AC Schnitzer front and rear anti-roll bars, polyurethane bushes throughout BRAKES: Standard M3 callipers with uprated discs and pads all-round, braided brake lines, uprated pedalbox WHEELS & TYRES: 8x16-inch BBS RS three-piece split-rims with 215/45/16 Toyo R888 tyres.
INTERIOR: Original seats retrimmed black leather, Sport Evo steering wheel, gear knob, footrest and centre armrest, Hartge centre console gauge holder with AEM data logging.
EXTERIOR: Diamond black paint, colour reversed Warsteiner livery, smoked indicators, tail-lights and crosshair headlights, carbon fibre front splitter and brake ducts, Sport Evo rear spoiler with carbon fibre wing.
THANKS: Simon Gunson at GTI Performance Centre (service @ gtipc.com.au), David at Galloway Race Engineering (08 9531 1366) and VAC Motorsports sales @ vacmotorsports. com.
Scott’s White M3
ENGINE & GEARBOX: S50 3.0-litre producing 480hp @ 7500rpm at the wheels, standard crankshaft, Carillo steel conrods, custom-made forged pistons with 7.5:1 compression ratio, custom turbocharger with Tial 50mm external wastegate, custom-made tubular exhaust manifold, standard inlet manifold with uprated injectors and billet fuel rail, PWR front mount intercooler, custom downpipe and stainless steel exhaust system, custom alloy radiator with electric fan, custom alloy breather and header tanks, Bosch 044 fuel pump, Haltech ECU, standard E36 M3 five-speed gearbox, one-piece propshaft, 4.3:1 differential with LSD.
CHASSIS: Bilstein coilovers all round, Racing Dynamics front and rear antiroll bars, Ireland Engineering adjustable camber top mounts, strut braces, OMP rollcage, #BMW-Z4 close ratio steering rack, polyurethane bushes throughout.
BRAKES: Front: StopTech four-pot callipers with 330mm discs. Rear: Standard E30 M3 discs and callipers, Pagid yellow pads all-round, braided brake lines, AP Racing pedalbox with remote reservoirs.
WHEELS & TYRES: 8x18-inch and 9x18-inch Compomotive TH18 wheels with a range of track or road tyres.
INTERIOR: OMP fixed back bucket seats, OMP steering wheel, Stack dash, M3 DTM gearknob and footrest.
EXTERIOR: Alpine White paint, E30 M3 Evo spoiler and splitter, Warsteiner livery.
THANKS: Josh Gardner & Gav Jones at Galvsport.com, Gavin Fairchild at GT-graphics.com.au, Brett Airey at ExecutiveTowing.com.au, Jim Black at Performancefriction.com.au and Barry Dixon at Compomotive. com.
“I wanted to drive it on the track as I don’t believe in garage queens”
“Not only is it rare, it is well balanced and easy to drive, too”
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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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- "Heated" sedan BMW M535i E28 (1985-1987 ) Was different from the usual "five-E28" décor and the list of options was "automatic gearbox ZF4HP22". Relea"Heated" sedan BMW M535i E28 (1985-1987 ) Was different from the usual "five-E28" décor and the list of options was "automatic gearbox ZF4HP22". Released 9483 machine More ...
- Post is under moderationAutomatically breath taking!
Howard Walker finds B-road joy in Alpina’s B9 — a car that starts life as a #BMW #528i #E28 , gains a 3.5 litre, 245 bhp engine ( #M30 B35 ), ZF four-speed automatic gearbox ( #ZF #4HP22 ), reworked suspension and chunky P72 en route to a motoring paradise that’s never in danger of turning into Valhalla.
The treatment is subtle and under-stated — refreshing in a world of catch-me-if-you-can body kits and pearlescent paintwork. Just a deepish nose spoiler and fine-ribbed alloy wheels; items which almost go unnoticed on roads where cooking hatchbacks come similarly clad.
And the BMW 5-series itself reaches pinnacles of understatement with its now staid, razor-edged lines and growing old looks. A piece of stockbroker belt machinery if there ever was one.
You hardly notice the B9 badging on the bootlid and for the grey morass of commuter motorists it would have no meaning anyway. Sheep's clothing for a mean wolf indeed, for this low-key exterior is pure camouflage for one of the most potent pieces of machinery around.
The #Alpina-B9 is super fast, super powerful with its 3.5 litres of BMW straight "six" hidden beneath that familiar bonnet line. And with the suspension and brakes to match its projectile performance, the B9 could be the ultimate in sporting saloons.
The grapevine has it, though, that BMW itself is about to pull the wraps off its own highly-potent 5-series, the #M535i E28 which should debut at the Birmingham NEC Motor Show in October and hit the streets early next year.
Yet it won’t be the first time the lusty 218 bhp 3.5-litre "six" from the #635i #E24 and 735i E23 models has been shoe-horned into the engine bay of the smaller #5-series . Back in #1980 . BMW sold around 200 of the old-style #535M #E12 s in Britain alone.
But the factory's decision to get back into the "big banger" performance market with the M535i could well have been prompted by the huge success of Herr Burkard Bovensiepen's #Alpina tuning operation and his version of the 3.5-litre 5-series.
Alpina's B9 3.5 went on sale in the UK just over a year ago with the cars being built to Alpina's specification by the Nottingham BMW dealer and tin-top racer Frank Sytner. But despite the expected arrival of Bee-Emm's own 535i. Sytner is not too worried for there is one subtle difference between the Alpina version and the factory's car — and that's a solid 27 bhp. While the M535i is likely to come with a more-than-ample 218 bhp driving its rear wheels, the B9 flexes more muscle with its tuned 245 bhp.
Motor got to grips with the first Sytner-built B9 back in March last year and came away highly impressed with its staggering saloon car performance — top speed 142 mph and 0-60 mph acceleration in 6.4 sec — and superb road manners. That was with the five-speed manual version. We certainly couldn't let the opportunity go by of assessing the latest version of the B9 to emerge from Nottingham fitted with ZF's highly commended four-speed automatic.
As you might expect, the price of performance and individuality comes high. In automatic form, the B9 would set you back a hefty £24,095 which seems a little on the steep side when judged against the well-stacked 1984 E28 #BMW-528i SE automatic at £16.925 or the larger #735i #E23 at £19,395. For the same kind of outlay, you could also be looking at an #Audi Quattro (£20.402 – #1984 in GB) or a 1984 #Jaguar #Sovereign V12 (£21,995 - 1984 in GB) and still come away with a pocketful of cash.
So what do you get for your investment? The answer is quite a lot. The B9 starts its life as a standard 528i built on the factory line with the only mechanical changes being the fitting of the more robust #ZF four-speed auto 'box used in the 635i plus a limited slip differential. It is then shipped to Nottingham "where Sytner's merry men haul out the engine and replace it with an Alpina- prepared 3.5-litre unit.
The engine itself comes with an Alpina cylinder head incorporating hemispherical combustion chambers; Mahle domed-topped pistons; a high-liftcam; and larger valves. Out goes the Bosch L-Jetronic injection which is replaced by the more sophisticated Bosch LE-Jetronic system and Bosch digital ignition. There are also new manifolds and a dual system exhaust to allow the gases to flow better. In standard form, the 3.453 cc unit fitted to the 735i E23 turns out 218 bhp at 5,200 rpm with peak torque of 228 lb ft at 4,000 rpm while running on a 9.3:1 compression ratio. In Alpina form, the torque is only marginally improved to 236 lb ft at 4,500 but the power goes up to a useful 245 bhp at 5,700 rpm with the engine running on a 10.2:1 compression ratio.
While the engine is being sorted out, the Bee-Emm's suspension is worked on. Out go the standard springs and dampers to be replaced with #Bilstein damper units front and rear, Alpina's own prcgressive-rate coil springs at the rear plus thicker front and rear anti-roll bars. And to keep the B9 firmly glued to the asphalt, chunky #Pirelli P7 tyres (205/50 VR 1 6 on 7J front rims, with 225/50 VR 16 on 8J rears) are fitted. A limited slip differential is also standard as too is ABS braking.
While the top speed of a car like the B9 may be academic to velocity- restricted British drivers, it's important for us to check the maker's claims. The problem with the Alpina E28 was that every time the throttle was floored in order to time a flying lap around the Millbrook high-speed bowl, the B9's automatic gearbox tried its damndest to kickdown from fourth to third. So we came away with a recorded top speed of 131.9 mph, not badby any means but there was more still to come. The German built B9s use a long 2.93:1 rear axle ratio and reach maximum speed in third gear. The manual version we tested last year reached a maximum of 142.2 mph.
There was no such problem with standing start acceleration runs, the B9 scorching from rest to 60 mph in 7.2 sec (6.4 sec for the manual) and on to 100 mph is 17.8 sec (16.2 sec) with 1 20 mph coming up in 27.4 sec (26.8 sec). Equally impressive is the car's kickdown performance with the 30-50 mph increment being covered in 2.4 sec and 50-70mph is just 3.6 sec. To put this all into some kind of perspective the 5.3-litre #Jaguar-XJS-HE reaches 60 in 7.5 sec and covers the 30-50 and 50-70 mph increments in 2.9 and 3.5 sec respectively. That means the B9 can more than match the acceleration of the Jaguar while a #Porsche #928S auto lags behind both of them.
That's quick and on the road these figures translate into the kind of performance that starts the adrenalin pumping and the palms sweating. At low revs and in slow driving conditions the urge from the engine is good rather than impressive, but find a clear road and bury the throttle in the carpet and the B9 comes alight. The real power is up past the 4,000 rpm mark when the engine takes on a glorious, powerhouse note that's a delight to the ear of any enthusiast —there's no roughness, just smooth efficiency which changes little in quality right up to the 6,500 red line and beyond. It pays to fix your eye on the speedo for the ease at which the B9 increases speed can put a licence
under serious threat. At 120 mph the B9 puts so little strain on the driver —so smooth and refined is the engine —that it almost becomes a chore to keep to the legal limit on the motorway.
And the automatic transmission certainly doesn't dilute the B9’s on- the-road performance. So responsive is the kickdown, so smooth are the changes that for the majority of our testers, it actually enhanced driving pleasure. The change down characteristics are such that the ZF 'box almost anticipates which gear is needed and it changes up so smoothly if you are forced to lift off suddenly, like aborting an overtaking manoeuvre."
With so much performance under your right toe, economical driving techniques tend to go out of the window — after all, if you want economy you go and buy a Fiat Uno. Viewed in this light, the 18.7 mpg overall fuel consumption isn't excessive and on long motorway journeys with the four-speed ZF 'box locked into top. most drivers should see well over 20 mpg.
As it stands our figure compares with 17.9 mpg for the manual B9, 21.6 mpg for the standard 528i E28 and 18.3 mpg recorded for the heavier 735i E23.
With 33 per cent more power on tap. the suspension changes are much appreciated. Standard 528i Bee-Emms come with quite a bit of body roll and an annoying characteristic of the inside back wheel spinning all too easily on a bend even in the dry.
On the B9, uprated springs and dampers and beefier anti-roll bars have cut down the roll and made sure all four "boots" stay firmly in touch with the road. The trade-off comes in the ride quality which is now much more firm than standard, though the B9's ride is like floating on air com-pared with that of the #Alpina-C1 3- series BMW #E30 we tested recently.
Around town, the Alpina's suspension feels firm and thumpy over small bumps, but it smooth’s out the faster you go. Considering the extra power provided, the ride quality is certainly an acceptable enough compromise.
But the B9 shows its true mettle when you point it in the direction of a twisty B-road. Talk of understeer and oversteer is almost meaningless in the context of the grip available from those sticky P7s. In the dry the cornering balance is basically neutral with just the right degree of stabilising understeer to make the B9 feel safe and predictable. The chassis shrugs off mid-bend bumps and even cutting the throttle provokes nothing unruly to catch out the inexperienced. With so much power available, more care has to be taken in the wet -B too much throttle mid-bend can send the back end slithering out of line. But that said, the effect is undramatic and not usually terminal. The steering, although power- assisted, has a direct meaty feel which communicates plenty of information back to the driver, allowing tail-out slides to be corrected swiftly and with precision.
The beauty of the B9 is that it allows a flowing driving style which was certainly not possible with the Treser-prepared #Audi-200 (1984 C3) we tried recently which never let the driver forget, that its front wheels were being driven.
Standard 528i brakes are retained with ventilated discs at the front, solid at the rear but with the addition of BMW's superb ABS anti-lock braking system, the set-up is powerful and progressive though the pedal does feel rather spongey arid dead in its action. In the wet, ABS is simply worth its weight in gold, taking the trauma out of hauling the B9 to a halt.
Part of the Alpina conversion includes ditching the standard 528i front seats in favour of superbly-l shaped, body-hugging Recaros. And they really do a great job, offering more than enough lateral and lumbar support. Yes. they are on the firm side but all of our testers found them superbly comfortable. The drawback is that they come trimmed with the most horrible gunge green and yuck blue striping which sinks to new depths of bad taste. More bad news: the rear seats are trimmed in the same cloth. Despite the fitting of the Recaros, there is still a surprising amount of rear seat legroom available which fulfills the B9's role as a true four-seater sports car unlike many of its rivals.
Other Alpina "goodies" include a classy leather-bound steering wheel! which looks and feels good but does in fact mask the top of the instruments; and Alpina logos on the horn push and gear lever knob. Also standard are electric windows, central door locking, an electric steel» sunroof, remote door mirror adjustment and headrests on all seats, front and rear.
Judged in terms of price alone — particularly when set against a standard 528i — the B9 does appear expensive. But what price exclusivity? The fact that Sytner has to take a standard car apart and virtually rebuild it does prove extremely expensive particularly when the volumes are low. That said, the B9 does offer truly remarkable performance coupled with superb road manners and in automatic form must be a highly tempting proposition for the well-heeled enthusiast who spends a lot of time driving in town. We loved it.
Still photographs taken at the recently completed Chelsea Fields Trading Estate. Western Road, London, SW19 - letting agents Bafley Cox & Edwards (01-729 3859)
ROAD TEST BMW ALPINA B9 3.5 AUTO
MAXIMUM SPEEDS B9 mph mph 528i E28 manual
Banked Circuit See text 129.8
ACCELERATION FROM REST
mph sec sec
0-30 3.1 2.8
0-40 4.2 4.3
0-50 5.1 6.0
0-60 7.2 7.7
0-70 9.1 10.6
0-80 11.4 13.2
0-90 14.2 16.6
0-100 17.8 22.0
Standing km 28.9 29.4
mph sec sec
20-40 2.4 8.7
30-50 2.4 8.6
40-60 3.0 8.1
50-70 3.6 8.1
60-80 4.2 8.3
70-90 5.1 8.1
80-100 6.4 8.9
Overall mpg 18.7 21.6
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