- Post is under moderationKING OF THE MOUNTAINS Turbo, wide-arch E30 Cab
Logically, this E30 should have been scrapped long ago. But when you’re building a big-power toy for motorsport thrills and early-morning mountain runs, logic doesn’t always factor very highly… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Scott Sturdy.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, running through North Carolina and into Virginia represents one of America’s great fusions of nature and technology. Scenic roads were something that American developers did uncannily well in the early half of the 20th century, and this particular one – a ribbon of Tarmac winding through gorgeous vistas of the Appalachian Mountains – is where Matthew Koppi’s love for BMWs was born. He’s the man behind this Olive green E30, and his passion for the marque stretches back decades. “I first fell in love with the BMW brand in my childhood,” he reminisces. “I live in the scenic mountains of Western North Carolina, and I used to see BMWs all over the twisty Blue Ridge Parkway in the ’80s. As a carobsessed kid the BMW was something that seemed like perfection; so graceful and nimble with timeless design.
“I bought my first #BMW in 1999,” he continues, “while stationed in Vicenza, Italy. It was a 1983 323i with Alpina cams and other goodies that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. I bought it because of my childhood infatuation – plus the price was right for a young army private! It was the first car I owned with fully independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes, and also the first that I could drive over 100mph for extended periods of time without worrying about it exploding. I’ve been a devotee ever since!”
All of this rather explains Matthew’s latest career move, setting up North Fork Autoworks in Barnardsville, North Carolina. Having turned wrenches for much of his adult career, this seemed like a logical move, although he’s keen to point out that throughout this E30’s build he was a full-time student, working on a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science.
“All of the work on the car, from fabrication to paint, both in the engine bay and outside, was done by me,” he proudly explains. “The only thing I didn’t do completely on my own was the machine work, but I was there for every step of the process and even ran some of the machines!
Basically, I was either directly responsible for every aspect of the car or I was intimately involved.” And with that forthright mission statement dealt with, we should probably rewind and take a peek at where this all started…
Back in 2010, having returned to school and requiring a sensible-ish runabout Matthew was driving an old Suzuki Sidekick (that’s a Vitara to you and me) and questioning his choices somewhat. It was boring. And life’s too short for boring cars. So the idea of a fixer-upper E30 began to percolate, and you know what happens when the spark of inspiration’s arrived. It’s pretty much a done deal.
This cabriolet appeared as a shabby little ragamuffin on Craigslist, but crucially the price was low. “The ad stated that the car ran when parked, but now wouldn’t start,” Matthew recalls. “It also disclosed that the interior and top were trashed. I arrived to find a car parked in tall grass behind a tiny house way back in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere! The previous owners were very nice and were at their wits’ end with the car. And they were painfully honest about it all. Truly the thing should have been parted out or crushed, but I was in love.
It had bad rear wheel bearings, one front hub bearing was shot, bald tyres, ruined leather interior that had hardened and cracked beyond repair or comfort, the paint on every panel was faded and peeling, the battery tray was rusted through, it had an automatic transmission, wrong front wings, cracked aluminium bumpers, and the top was so far gone that there was water pooled in the floor despite the car being under two tarps. True to the ad, the engine would turn over but wouldn’t start, so the condition of the drivetrain was unknown.” Quite a catch, right? So as you can imagine, Matthew snapped it up and lovingly caressed it homeward, all the time reminiscing about those swooping mountain heroes on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“First and foremost, I wanted to get it running and replace the top,” he explains. “It needed to be good enough to comfortably drive my young daughters around in as I continued to fix it up, and I originally planned to follow my old formula of decent wheels and lowered suspension… but that was before my first autocross event!” That’s right. The goalposts just shifted. First, though, is the matter of a knackered E30 which needs pretty much everything fixed…
Job one was to get the old M20 ticking over sweetly and mated to a manual gearbox, something that Matthew did right away before fiddling with chips and fuelling and so on, and this setup lasted a couple of seasons of autocross. But power corrupts, and he was craving more, so he started pooling resources for an M5x swap… until the idea of a boosted M30 caught his eye, and from then on there was only one way forward.
Now, M30s (that is, straight-six motors as found in the likes of the E28 5 Series, E24 6 Series and so on) have been swapped into E30s many times before, so there was a wealth of information available. What Matthew had to do was figure how to tailor the swap to his own unique requirements. After much consideration and research, he opted for an M30B34 block – for strength – with an M30B35 head and #Getrag 260/6 transmission. That was the base spec. Then the fun could begin.
The block was bored out to take 94mm Wiseco pistons, increasing displacement to 3.6-litres, while the crankshaft was balanced and the head received all sorts of handcrafted custom work. A Rapid Spool Industries exhaust manifold allowed the fitment of that all-important turbo (originally a Holset HX40, now upgraded to a Borg Warner EFR 7670), and naturally the fuelling and management were beefed up to suit. A trick exhaust system soon followed, as did a Volvo intercooler, some more appropriate cams, and upgrades to the valvetrain. Piece by piece, Matthew’s masterpiece was falling into place. On a conservative tune and at just 13.8psi, the M30 was making 450hp – which certainly helped with those corruptive power cravings.
So, the engine box was firmly ticked. Still a lot of other things to sort though, weren’t there? “I tried several different combinations of springs and dampers,” says Matthew.
“Ultimately I used autocross and mountain roads to dial in my suspension; my current configuration consists of Bilstein Sport struts and shocks, H&R J-spec front springs, GE adjustable rear perches and springs, reinforced rear shock mounts, Vorshlag front camber plates, drop hats, and Treehouse Racing control arm bushings. I swapped in an E36 steering rack and, of course, replaced both front hub assemblies. For the rear subframe I installed the AKG 75D 12mm offset frame, diff mount bushings and trailing arm bushings.”
Okay, so the thing works well now. But it needs to look good. What next? Aha, the body! “When I began fixing the bodywork issues, I ended up with five different colours on the car,” he laughs. “I couldn’t afford a traditional paint job due to being a student, and I still had a huge list of maintenance and repairs to tackle, so the idea of painting it myself in flat military green was very appealing. It had an aggressive feel to it, and allowed me to easily change and add body panels as needed. It also made all the trim work that much easier, because subdued black and flat green are perfectly paired!
“The entire attitude of the car followed the suspension setup and colour choice, although modifications such as the Kamotors arch flares were a product of necessity – especially with 8”-wide wheels and 245-section tyres on the rear – that just happened to enhance the overall demeanour of the car.” That Foha three-piece spoiler was certainly a lucky find too, it complements the hammered-together-by- The-A-Team vibe perfectly.
Of course, it’s no good having a car that goes like a train, handles like a sticky panther, and looks like a militaristic warlord if you don’t actually have anywhere to sit.
That rain-saturated tan leather trim had to go. “The interior of the car was in a horrible state of decay and disrepair,” Matthew grimaces. “When I replaced the battery tray, I took the opportunity to swap the dash with a crack-free one; I then followed that with converting the interior to black since I wasn’t a fan of the tan anyway! Through the forums I made contact with Kevin Chinn of Creative Options to discuss an upholstery kit, and after several conversations I decided on microsuede centres on the seats with vinyl bolsters for ease of maintenance. The seams were done with factory-style French stitching in light Olive green.
Before the seats went back in I dyed the carpet black, and so the weekend ended with me having stained and sore fingers but amazing upholstery!” When we ask Matthew what his favourite result of all this homegrown dabbling is, he’s quick to answer: it’s the engine bay. The functional, severe exterior just doesn’t prepare people for the sorted, shaved, shiny bay that hides under the bonnet, and it certainly raises eyebrows at shows. And raising eyebrows is what this car was built to do.
All sorted, then? Job done? Oh, no – Matthew’s far from finished here. “My list of mods isn’t based on winning the lottery, it’s based on money over time,” he says. “I’ve slowly but surely built it to be what you see now, and as time goes on it will only improve. Stay tuned!” We certainly will. But in the meantime, Matthew, you’d better head off along that Parkway. There are childhood dreams there waiting to be fulfilled…
Ultimately I used autocross and mountain roads to dial in my suspension.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE Turbo #BMW-E30 Cab / #BMW-M30 / #M30 / #Borg-Warner-EFR / #Borg-Warner / #M30-Turbo / #Megasquirt-MS2 / #Megasquirt / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-E30-Turbo / #BMW-E30-M30 / #H&R
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 bored out to 3573cc, #Borg-Warner-EFR-7670 turbo, #Tial 44mm wastegate, 94mm #Wiseco 8.7:1 forged pistons, #ARP head studs, Cometic MLS head gasket, M30B34 high-speed balanced and tuned crankshaft, 9.5 aluminium #Aasco flywheel, M30B35 ported and smoothed head, Cat Cams dual-profile turbo camshaft, IE heavy duty rockers, rocker locks, high performance springs, Rapid Spool Industries exhaust manifold, #Siemens-Deka 60lb/h injectors, Megasquirt MS2 engine management, custom fabricated oil distribution block for turbo feed and gauges, #Qbang engine mounts, Volvo 960 intercooler, Innovate LC-1 wideband controller, heat-wrapped 3.5” downpipe and wastegate piping, 3” straight-through exhaust with Magnaflow resonator and vband couplers, #Getrag-260/6 five-speed manual gearbox, Spec Racing stage 3+ clutch, Z3 short-shift
POWER 450whp @ 5200rpm, 524lb ft of torque @ 4550rpm
CHASSIS 8x16” ET20 (front and rear) XXR 521 wheels with 225/50 (front) and 245/45 (rear) #BF-Goodrich G-Force Sport tyres, #H&R-J-Spec front springs with #Bilstein Sport shocks, 650lb rear GE springs and adjusters, #Vorshlag camber plates, E36 steering rack, Treehouse Racing control arm bushings - powdercoated silver, stainless steel brake lines, ATE Orbital grooved front discs with Pagid pads, #Bremmerman cross-drilled rear discs, wheel stud conversion, #AKG 75D 12mm offset rear subframe and diff bushings, #AKG 75D trailing arm bushings
EXTERIOR Kamotors arch flares, E30 front lip, DIY smoked Hella Ellipsoid lights, all-red taillights, plastic bumper swap, third brake light delete, three-piece Foha spoiler, DIY double brake light upgrade, Shadowline trim, satin finish Olive Drab green paint, Euro grilles, Euro plate filler, late model rear lower valance
INTERIOR M-Tech 1 steering wheel, #VDO oil pressure, oil temperature and Innovate AFR gauges in DIY centre console, E36 rear view mirror, E34 leather handbrake handle, Justrack Econometer boost/vac gauge, Jaywood digital voltmeter, E36 window switches, brushed aluminium cluster rings and Alpina stripe, Creative Options interior upholstery kit, clutch stop, carpet dyed black, recovered windscreen, UUC weighted gear knobStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationROUGH DIAMOND
Purists may argue that the Mk3 GTI wasn’t exactly the Golf’s finest hour, but Kyle Wilinsky begs to differ. He’s a ‘never say never’ kinda guy… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Jonathan DeHate.
The concept of the ‘difficult second album’ is something muchdocumented in the music press.
Bands that come in strong with their first long-players can find themselves mired in their own hype, their early work becoming an impossible act to follow – look at The Stone Roses’ Second Coming, The Strokes’ Room on Fire, or The Clash’s Give ’Em Enough Rope; following the success of such strong debuts, these LPs were always doomed to be sidelined. And it can be true of third albums too – a band may manage to hurdle Difficult Second Album Syndrome, only to come crashing headfirst into Questionable Third Album territory. Just ask Oasis about Be Here Now.
This is precisely where Volkswagen’s GTI sub-brand found itself in the early 1990s, with the advent of the Mk3 Golf and all of the peaks and troughs that car entailed. With the Mk1 GTI having woven itself firmly and celestially into the firmament of all-time greats, the Mk2 carrying on the good work with forthright decisiveness, and then ramping up the levels of excellence with casual aplomb in the sublime 16v evolution, the third-generation hot hatch came as something of a damp squib. 150bhp-odd was handy enough, but the thing suffered from a bit of middle-age spread, it was podgier and less agile. Perfectly okay for some, but not really good enough for others.
However, in the USA that fabled GTI badge could also be found glued next to one that read ‘VR6’ (rather than being separate entities like in Europe), and the addition of a couple of cylinders and a further 20bhp or so helped to liven things up a bit. And that’s where the story begins for the Golf we’re looking at today…
The story of its owner, Kyle Wilinsky, starts rather earlier: “My love for Volkswagens began when I was 15 years old,” the smiley Pennsylvanian explains. “I was introduced to the VWVortex forum, and that was that; when the time came to purchase my first vehicle, it had to be a #VW – in the end, it was a Mk2 Jetta.” You can see the seeds being sown here, can’t you?
An all-consuming online community, a fledgling first-hand introduction to the Golf platform, there was only one way this was destined to go. And it wasn’t long before those seeds grew up and bore fleshy Teutonic fruit. “After a couple more years and a couple more cars, a friend had this Mk3 Golf for sale; we came to a deal on the price and it was mine for $1800. It wasn’t in the best condition, quite neglected, but I only bought it as a cheap second car so I wasn’t too worried. I just gave it some basic maintenance and cleaned it up a bit.”
As you’ll have deduced from the photos (or if you’ve cheated and have already read the spec box), however, this wasn’t where the project stalled. As we hear so often from feature car owners, there was one sole spark of inspiration that crystallised into the kernel of an idea, and went on to dictate the ethos of the project from that date forth. In Kyle’s case, this spark showed itself during a joyride in a buddy’s car.
“I was offered a ride in a friend’s VR6 turbo, and from that moment I was completely hooked on the idea of fitting a turbo to my car,” he laughs. “I started ordering parts, and after a couple of months I had everything I needed to start the project. I guess I must mention that I had no real mechanical experience, and basically had to learn everything as I went, along with the help of some friends.” Kyle seems to be a man who enjoys a steep learning curve though, as it was only a matter of weeks before the newly force-induced motor was back together and offering an eye-watering 411bhp, which is certainly enough to quieten the Mk3 naysayers. “It was an absolute blast to drive,” he enthuses, as you might expect from someone who’s way more than doubled his car’s factory output using little more than a set of spanners and some well-placed advice. The sense of achievement must have been nearimmeasurable.
And naturally, with things going so well under the bonnet, Kyle’s eye began to turn to the rest of the car – after all, once you’ve started putting the effort in, you need to make it an object of personal pride, don’t you?
“The stock interior was pretty neglected, so I decided to pay it some attention,” he says. “I got it professionally detailed and the factory black really came to life; I was shocked at the result, and that’s when I started to gather parts for the exterior. I’d always loved the look of the Euro-spec GTI, so I knew that was the direction I was headed: I started purchasing everything I could get hold of for the full Euro makeover!”
Piece by piece the aesthetic transformation came together, with the ’98 GTI receiving bona fide texture-top bumpers, mouldings and arch flares, along with a shaved CL tailgate with its Euro-sized numberplate recess. Kyle hasn’t gone full OEM though; in fact, he’s cannonballed square-on into the choppy waters of obscure parts-hunting that define the builds of so many of you out there – when was the last time, for instance, that you saw a Henri Lloyd Yachting edition front lip? These appeared on an obscure Italian version of the Mk3 estate, and watercooled obsessives pay through the nose for them, if and when they can track them down.
“Eventually I started to get used to the power and decided to turn the boost up,” he recalls, slightly uneasily. “About 30 miles after I’d cranked it up to 22psi, the gearbox decided it wasn’t going to hold and shattered third gear! After doing some research I found that if I kept the power levels where they were, I was either going to deal with breaking and replacing gears regularly or I was going to have to build a stronger gearbox. I opted to park the car and save my money for some hardened straight-cut gears to ensure I would no longer have issues.”
By this point Kyle was around two years into ownership, and over the course of the next two years the car saw a number of changes to complement the evolving powertrain, with the Golf being reworked during the cold winter months to emerge from its chrysalis anew in the springtime – seats, wheels, they were changing all the time. “I’m never satisfied!” he laughs. “I’m always looking for fresh things to do with the car. I embarked upon a full engine bay shave and wire-tuck which, with the help of some friends, was a three-month marathon of grinding and welding… the bay and the motor are what I’m most proud of with this car, I spent countless hours and nights in the garage with friends and cheap beer to get the car ready.”
‘Ready’? Ah yes, Kyle had a target in mind to showcase the fruits of his labours – a Pennsylvania show entitled Cult Classic. With the date drawing ever nearer, our man was in the garage at all hours trying to get the thing tip-top, and his tireless endeavours paid off with gusto.
“I ended up winning ‘Best In Show’, out of around 500 cars,” he says, still flabbergasted. “Without a doubt it was the best feeling knowing that all my hard work was worth it and people were really enjoying the car.”
This was all going off in 2014, and the car has changed a fair bit since then. Well, as you might expect, really. People like Kyle aren’t prone to kicking their heels or watching the grass grow. Indeed, for this feature alone the car had to be reshot twice because Kyle kept changing things. “I really do have a problem,” he says, but it’s a pretty good problem to have.
“As I’m talking to you about it now, I’m only just realising that I’ve owned the car for seven years,” he continues, evidently slightly shellshocked by the telescoping effect of time’s relentless pendulum. “I can’t express how grateful I am for all the people that have helped me turn wrenches, given advice, or simply kept me company during this journey – it’s really what the car community is all about for me. The car has surpassed any of my expectations, and people really seem to love it and appreciate what I’ve built. The Golf has won multiple awards, was invited into Top Dawg class at H2Oi, and now this feature. Wow, what a feeling!” All of which serves to prove that you don’t need to be a scene darling or an Instagram celebrity to nail this VW lark. You can set out with an unloved example of a maligned model and, starting with a knowledge base and skillset close to zero, still manage to totally kill it on the showground time and time again.
The fact that this Golf is just as fast and agile as it is easy on the eye is solid testament to Kyle’s tenacity. He has put in the hours to make it work, and that’s what makes him a winner. He’s really got a taste for it now too… reckon the car’s looking the same today as it does here in print? No, of course it isn’t. Kyle’s always got plans. You’ll just have to keep an eye on the Mid-Atlantic water-cooled scene – this old-skool rough diamond is only going to keep getting sharper…
“The car has surpassed any of my expectations, and people really seem to love it and appreciate what I’ve built”
Dub Details / #VW-Golf-III / #VW-Golf-Mk3 / #VW-Golf-Mk-III / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk3 / #Volkswagen-Golf-III / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf-VR6-Mk3 / #Volkswagen-Golf-VR6-III / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf-VR6-Mk-III / #VW-Golf-VR6 / #VW-Golf-VR6-Mk3 / #VW / #Volkswagen-Golf-VR6 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Precision
ENGINE: Shaved and wire-tucked bay, 2.8-litre #VR6 , polished engine covers, #Megasquirt standalone ECU, #Precision-6262-T4 turbo, #ATP exhaust manifold, custom heat shield, #DEI turbo blanket, 3” stainless steel turbo-back exhaust, #Tial wastegate and blow-off valve, Precision 600 intercooler, custom intercooler piping, #Schimmel intake manifold, #Accufab 75mm throttle body with custom manifold adaptor, 034 fuel rail with 630cc injectors, #Walbro 255 fuel pump, #Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, #Mishimoto aluminium radiator, dual slim fans, custom aluminium coolant lines and overflow tank, Eurosport oil cooler, relocated temp sensors, hidden coilpack, custom front crossmember with #Black-Forest motor mounts, O2A gearbox with #APTuning straight-cut gears, #Quaife differential, #ARP hardware, reinforced clutch fork, #SPEC Stage 3 clutch, Euro-spec lightened flywheel, CAE shifter, O2J shift tower and cables
CHASSIS: 8.5x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) #CCW-D240 with brushed faces, polished lips, #ARP gold wheel bolts and goldplated lug nuts, Falken tyres, #Air-Lift suspension, #AccuAir-ELevel management, five gallon aluminium air tank, two #Viair-444C 444cc / #Viair compressors, #H&R 25mm front anti-roll bar, Eurosport rear strut brace, Audi TT 312mm front brakes with cross-drilled discs
EXTERIOR: Euro texture-top bumpers, shaved Euro CL tailgate, Euro textured mouldings and arch flares, shaved windscreen squirters, custom shortened mirrors, badgeless grill, Henri Lloyd Yachting front lip, Kamei air ducts, smoked indicators, Hella tail-lights, E-code headlights, #Bonrath mono wiper
INTERIOR: Recaro Sportster CS with suede inserts, suede wrapped A, B, and C pillars, suede headlining, custom rear seat delete with leather-wrapped air tank, Wiechers roll-cage, AEM digital boost controller, AEM air/fuel gauge, AEM oil PSI gauge, GReddy turbo timer, NRG quick release hub, Momo steering wheel, Alpine head unit, Pioneer speakers, JL Audio stealthbox with 10” JL audio subwoofer, JL audio amp
SHOUT: Thanks to my fiancée Lisa for always understanding and supporting my hobby. Borek, Adam, Jacob, Thompson, Jarad, Steve, Bergey, Rick at DEFIV, Jason at 4everkustoms, Andrew at Open Road Tuning, DeHate for the pics, and everyone else who has helped along the wayStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation
ALL AMERICAN TAKE OVER
Fitting a massive Yank V8 lump into your BM is nothing new, but doing that and then strapping a pair of turbos on for good measure takes things to a whole other level….
Rebel yell Utterly insane twin-turbo V8 E30 with almost 900hp.
After tiring of turbo M20 reliability issues, Ross Bradley went back to his hot rod roots and rebuilt his E30 using American V8 power… with two turbos this time. Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Matt Woods.
Meet Ross Bradley, an E30 nut who likes to do things his own way, particularly if it involves a twin-turbo V8. The story begins back in March 2010 when he bought this black 325i and, like so many of us, he formulated a plan to make it his own. “It was sitting on a drive for about four years with moss growing up the sides. I used to see it when I was out at work,” explains 35-year-old Ross. “It was pretty solid body-wise, so I offered the guy some money and bought it for £275. I got it home, changed the plugs and put fresh fuel in and it fired up first time!”
Fast forward a year or so and his E30 was something we’d all be proud to call our own, featuring Borbet A wheels, a nice drop in ride height and a full M Tech 2 body kit, among other tricks. However, having grown up around American hot rods and other powerful machinery, it was only a matter of time before the engine bay got something of a shake-up.
“I’ve always had turbo cars. I just have a passion for them,” Ross tells us. “And the BMW needed more power so the only way to go was turbo!” Ross laughs. The car’s transformation started with him taking the original M20 and turbocharging it, earning him the bragging rights of having over 400hp under his right foot. Having been an engineer by trade in the past he made it all look easy, building up the M20 with forged pistons, a custom intake plenum and plenty more goodies. Ross was happy until an oil pressure issue left him with a knocking bottom end and feeling thoroughly disheartened. Fortunately Ross isn’t the kind of guy to remain demoralised for long and he used this temporary upset as a chance to refocus. “I’ve always been a fan of proper V8s – not the little BMW ones but full-blown Ford or Chevy motors,” he explains. “Now that I had the chance, I decided to get rid of the old turbo engine which kept going wrong, and I sold all the parts to fund a new engine.”
Ross’s plan for Yank horsepower made good sense. “I considered the newer GM LS engines but at the time they cost more than a complete S50, and you can just as easily build an old type V8 with EFI for half the price.” A decision was made and Ross was soon the owner of a small-block, 350ci (5.7-litre) block ready for building up. While Ross pressed on with using the bare block for test-fitting purposes, his shopping list started becoming a reality. A #GM forged crank, Eagle forged rods, a hightorque starter motor, alloy roller rockers and a new sump all arrived, with Ross’s plans continuously evolving for how the engine would fit in the car and how it would be built.
“The gearbox I chose was the manual gearbox from the Mk3 Toyota Supra: the R154. With a couple of little mods they can be bombproof, but not cheap at £600 for the box alone!” Ross says. He was still waiting on engine parts but could at least get the gearbox built up. This would allow him to finalise the engine location once and for all.
All new bearings went in, along with an uprated first gear thrust washer, before the front end was built up with a Chevy bellhousing, hydraulic clutch release bearing and all the necessary conversion parts. What soon became clear was that the E30’s transmission tunnel just wasn’t going to be big enough. Luckily it wasn’t beyond the call of a few hour’s work with a hammer. The next obstacle was the crossmember and anti-roll bar. A conversion to an E36 anti-roll bar (which sits ahead of the crossmember) had that issue solved easily enough thanks to some fabrication work, but Ross also had to notch the crossmember for clearance and ended up moving the steering rack forwards by 20mm to clear the starter motor.
This left Ross with the small block sitting happily in his engine bay, as low and as far back as was possible. “The shifter even ended up in the right place!” laughs Ross. “There was just a sensor that I had to add clearance for, so things were going well.” With his engine and gearbox mounts fabricated, Ross then threw on the aluminium heads that he’d ordered and checked the clearance of everything with his turbo manifolds fresh from the States. Sure enough, his engine mounts had to come back out for some further clearance work and he had to make plans for relocating his brake servo and master cylinder to under the dashboard. For Ross this was all in a day’s work.
With the engine position decided, Ross pulled the V8 block back out so that he could finally start transforming it into a functioning engine. The local machine shop was tasked with boring out the cylinders by .030”, taking displacement to beyond the 5.8-litre mark. Probe forged pistons were mated to the Eagle rods, with the crank going in with Clevite bearings and ARP hardware. His camshaft of choice was a Comp Cams 256/263-degree grind, made especially for turbo applications.
Such is the aftermarket support for these engines that Ross managed to get his aforementioned aluminium cylinder heads for just £200 and set about porting them himself by hand to make the most of a set of massive Manley valves (2.02” inlet and 1.60” exhaust, in fact). This V8 may only have 16 valves but it makes up for that with sheer size. The heads were finished with Edelbrock valve springs and titanium retainers, which are operated by Comp Cams billet rockers and Edelbrock Magnum pushrods. No stone has been left unturned with this Yank powerhouse.
A good old Holley carb was initially used to get the engine running alongside a Megasquirt ECU and Ford coil packs. Ingeniously Ross used a few of the old M20 sensors and brackets to feed the ECU with all the needed info, which allows the V8 to run normally aspirated for a few miles as a gentle run-in. A huge Pro Cool radiator, a custom intercooler and a day’s worth of custom fab work by Ross got the E30 roadworthy but he was far from done.
When the time came to switch to fuel injection Ross, as usual, didn’t do things by halves. With the rear boot floor in bits (more on that in a moment) he plumbed together a fuel system capable of supplying enough jungle juice for the monstrous powerplant now sitting up front. A high-flow lift pump feeds a two-litre swirl pot, with twin Bosch 044 pumps then feeding the engine through front-to-rear braided AN lines. All that fuel is supplied to 770cc injectors mounted in an Edelbrock intake manifold, fitted with a 90mm Procomp throttle body.
That swirl pot setup is mounted onto a flat rear floor. Ross’s car has no spare wheel well and for a very good reason. With the extra power and monstrous torque that he was going to be feeding through the rear end, some serious reinforcement was needed. The entire rear beam was dropped and stripped and Ross’s work began.
The first thing on the ingredients list was an E28 large case diff; though it bolts right up to the E30 rear beam, that’s about where the compatibility ends; not a problem for someone like Ross. The beam was sent away for blasting and once back, he could begin. “I started by going over the old welds to make them a little stronger and I went around the trailing arm brackets again as some of them aren’t fully welded,” he explains. “Then I started the reinforcing.”
These reinforcements included plating over the diff mounts and bridging together the various factory joins with extra material. Bars were then also added between the diff mount and beam itself before a thick plate was placed over the diff recess. In short, Ross’s work is so solid we reckon it would withstand even a nuclear strike.
Next up was getting that diff mounted up. The E30’s single-ear rear diff mounting is famed for a lack of strength and so after some experimenting Ross found that an E36 M3 Evo diff cover and mounting bracket would bolt up to the E28 diff (with the addition of a spacer he made), giving him two ears to mount with. However, the E30 doesn’t have the provisions to bolt such an arrangement up, hence Ross had cut the boot floor out of his. A new crossmember was made out of box section, bridging the chassis rails and including mounts for that large case diff and the anti-roll bar brackets.
“With the rear crossmember done I started the rear strut bracing,” Ross tells us. This included strengthening plates on the rear strut towers along with a welded-in strut brace. This was then joined to the diffmounting crossmember with a set of bars tying the whole lot together for maximum rigidity before everything could be sheeted over to form a new floor.
The trailing arms were also braced with bars and then the whole lot bolted back under the car, complete with the new diff and a revision of Ross’s UJ driveshafts. However, he still wasn’t done, using the opportunity to also convert the car to fivestud all-round. Rather than the usual way, this arrangement was completed using Compact or Z3 parts with a bit of a custom setup. This consisted of Z3 wheel bearings and hubs, which needed a little machining to fit. “I used 300mm Z4 discs on the Z3 hubs, and then used Porsche Boxster Brembo fourpot calipers,” smiles Ross.
Up front the E30 stub axles were sleeved to allow E36 wheel bearings and hubs to be used, enabling the use of an XYZ brake kit. It was originally meant for a Japanese application using a 5x114.7 PCD and Ross also had to make his own brackets, too. Nothing phases this E30 fanatic.
Of course, the most noticeable change Ross had to make was to fit new wheels. The old 4x100 Borbet As would no longer fit but Ross found something else that would work nicely. It doesn’t get much better than three-piece Hartges, made by OZ back in the day. He found them in Poland and had them shipped over. They had polished lips and gold centres, which looked great, but weren’t quite what Ross had in mind. Therefore the wheels were stripped right down for the centres and lips to be repolished, and a lack of centre caps saw Ross approaching UK firm and BMW specialist Hack Engineering to reproduce the original plastic caps in billet aluminium so that it could all be polished up with the same mirror shine. Mirror-polished hardware finished the wheels off, with grippy Federal RSR tyres put in charge of getting all that power down.
This meant that phase two of the build was complete, and Ross enjoyed using it for the latter half of last year’s show season, clocking up the miles attending every show possible. Having witnessed it personally, we can confirm that when Ross’s E30 pulls up at the showground, a serious number of heads turn thanks to the appearance of a tidy E30 with the soundtrack of a lumpy, all-American V8. It really is quite something.
The way Ross has gone about building his E30 is like no other. While absolutely nothing on the car itself can be considered off-the-shelf, he’s also shown incredible ingenuity when it comes to building a reliable powerplant thanks to the strength (and low prices) of the American aftermarket. In fact, though untested, it’s estimated that the junkyard-rescued small block is currently pushing around 880hp and 750lb ft at 1.3bar. Could American power in an E30 be the way to go? You wouldn’t want to argue otherwise after seeing this machine.
Boot houses fuel system with two-litre swirl pot and twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps.
If you’re a keen show-goer in the UK you’re likely to see Ross’s monster throughout the year. However, do be warned – by the time it’s show season the E30 will be looking quite different. Ross didn’t want to tell us exactly what he was up to but you can rest assured that the E30 will be even better, very soon.
DATA FILE #Twin-turbo #V8 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-V8 / #Bosch-044 / #Garrett-T04E / #Garrett /
ENGINE #Chevrolet-small-block-V8 , rebored 0.030” to 5.82-litre, #GM / #GM-V8 forged crank, #ARP main studs, #Eagle H-section forged con rods, #Clevite big end bearings, Probe oversized forged pistons, high volume oil pump, ported and polished alloy heads, #Manley-Severe-Duty stainless steel swirl-polished oversized valves (2.02” inlet, 1.6” exhaust), Edelbrock valve springs with titanium retainers, #Cloyes three-piece solid timing gears, Clevite cam bearings, Comp Cams 256/263-degree blower cam and lifters, #Edelbrock #Magnum chromoly pushrods, #Comp-Cams 1.5:1 alloy roller rockers, #Brodix rocker covers, ARP hardware (rocker arm studs, intake manifold bolts, sump bolts, timing cover bolts, engine mount bolts, exhaust header bolts, crank pulley bolts, bellhousing bolts), ARP oil pump driveshaft, custom engine mounts, customised turbo headers, twin Garrett T04E turbos, Tial wastegates, custom twin 3” turbo-back exhaust with Simons silencer, custom intercooler, Tial dump valve, #Edelbrock Pro-flo inlet and matching fuel rails, #Procomp 90mm throttle body, 770cc injectors, swirl pot with high flow lift pump, twin #Bosch 044 engine feed pumps, #Torques fuel pressure regulator, #March serpentine pulley kit, #Pro-Cool alloy radiator, #Megasquirt ECU, Ford coil packs, fully lightened and balanced flywheel
TRANSMISSION #Toyota-Supra-R154 gearbox rebuilt and uprated with #Marlin-Crawler thrust washer bearing retainer and selector forks, #McLeod clutch release bearing, #ARP clutch bolts, Spec R Stage 4+ paddle clutch, alloy fluid reservoir, #Cube shifter, custom propshaft, E28 210mm LSD with 3.07 final drive and M3 Evo twin-ear rear mount, custom driveshafts with #UJs , custom gearbox crossmember
CHASSIS 17x9” ET25 (front) and 17x10” ET20 (rear) Hartge fully polished three-piece wheels, 215/40 and 235/40 Federal RSR tyres, modified front crossmember for engine clearance, reinforced rear beam, E36 M3 front anti-roll bar with custom mounts and rosejointed droplinks, reinforced rear trailing arms, custom rear strut brace tied into custom rear diff mounting bar, #GAZ coilovers, GAZ adjustable front top mounts, stainless steel steering linkage joints and custom linkage, steering rack moved 20mm forwards, alloy power steering reservoir and custom lines, incar brake servo conversion using Renault Clio servo, VW Sharan brake master cylinder, #XYZ six-pot front calipers and 330mm discs, fivelug conversion using E36 and Z3 hubs, Porsche #Brembo six-pot rear calipers, #Apec-Z4 rear discs
EXTERIOR M Tech 2 body kit, carbon bonnet, E36 M3-style mirrors, widened rear arches, smoked rear lights, smoked front indicators, yellow foglights
INTERIOR Full red leather Sport interior, black carpets, custom gauge illumination (blue with red needles), A-pillar mounted auxiliary gauges (boost, #AFR , oil pressure), fuel system in boot
THANKS Dad for all of the paintwork, Shaun from V8 Development for all the mapping and wiring.
Red leather Sport interior looks fantastic and features custom gauge illumination and auxiliary gauges in the A-pillar.
I’ve always been a fan of proper V8s… full blown Ford or #Chevy-motors .Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGENERATION GAME / #BMW-M535i / #BMW-M535i-E28 / #BMW-M535i-Eaton-supercharged-E28 / #BMW-M535i-Rotrex-supercharged-E28 / #BMW-E28 / #BMW /
The UK’s only supercharged E28s are an impressively eclectic pair owned by an equally different father and son duo with a long-standing love of BMWs.
SUPERCHARGED UK E28s Classic Fives with power!
Owning the only two supercharged E28s in the UK, this father and son duo are the custodians of some seriously cool metal. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Woods.
BMW E28s are precious things. Long gone are the days when you could pick one up for £400 (like I once did) and with the vast majority of the shabby ones now having rusted away, those that remain need to be cherished. Whilst the E24 6 Series might be the obvious choice for those looking for something sleek and ‘sharky’ to slam, the E28 is currently getting lots of love, too. Last year no less than three bigpower classic Fives appeared in DRIVE-MY and there are plenty of extremely attractive examples around, like this pair, for example.
Kris Rourke and dad Jon are the custodians of this unlikely pair – one an exceptionally clean sleeper, the other more of a retro hot rod, with the two cars reflecting their owners’ personalities and motoring preferences.
The very clean red car belongs to Jon, with Kris driving the brown bad boy. While both cars are without doubt very different, they share one significant similarity: they are both supercharged. That elevates this pair from being merely modified to really rather special, not least because of how rare a thing a supercharged E28 is.
That father and son own E28s is unsurprising when you learn that Jon has been at it for years, which means Kris was destined to follow. “Dad’s always had BMWs and has had about six or seven E28s,” says Kris. “They were always in my life when I was growing up and my first car was a 2002ti, mum and dad’s 2002 in fact, which they gave me when I passed my test. It all started from there really. I’m also into Jap stuff and have had loads of J-tin, all modified and all with big power.” So the draw of another powerful, modified car was inevitable and the odds of it being a BMW were good.
Pay attention, because things get a bit complicated now. “Two years ago I had a Fiat Cinquecento and loved it but then my other half and I had a baby and I couldn’t get the baby seat in the car so it had to go. Dad had a blue M535i at the time so he gave me that as it was more practical and bought himself the red supercharged car. I then sold the blue one to buy dad’s red one, which is now my brown one, and when I started modding that dad realised he missed it and bought himself the red supercharged one he now owns.” Got it? Good.
For Jon, a London cabbie by trade, the appeal of the E28 is easy to see. “It’s a lovely retro classic car,” he says. “It stands out and it has road presence. All my previous E28s have been standard – as long as they go and work I’m happy,” he chuckles. “This red one is much more of a hooligan car, though. I was just looking around on eBay for interesting cars, spotted it and went for it. It had been in a garage for about seven or eight years and while the body was good, underneath it was rotten,” he says.
Not that you’d have any clue as to the car’s previous state of disrepair now thanks to the amount of time and money that Jon has invested in it. The whole floor has been repaired, as have the sills, while the suspension has been renewed and new brakes have been fitted. Jon also replaced the chrome exterior trim with Shadowline, while inside the original cloth seats have been replaced with leather Sport seats. Thankfully having a rust-free body meant one less area that needed attention and the red colour really looks fantastic on the E28. So too do the 17” Style 5s – easily one of the greatest wheel collaborations between #BBS and #BMW .
Of course, what’s really exciting here, on both these cars, is what’s under the bonnet, and these are the only two supercharged E28s in the UK. Jon’s car has the slightly more stock-looking engine bay, though there’s no missing the supercharger and its accompanying pipework. The kit here is a Jamsport setup, which cost whichever previous owner that decided to fit it a cool £6500, and uses a more traditional centrifugal supercharger.
This E28 may be no spring chicken but you can still appreciate the work that has gone into fabricating the pipework for the kit. It’s all expertly finished and assembled and there’s a lot of engineering squeezed into here. The most impressive part of this setup is the custom alloy rad, intercooler and associated pipework, which originally cost an eye-watering £5000 and comes courtesy of McLaren (hence the price tag and quality of the work itself). The FMIC is tucked behind the kidney grilles and ahead of the rad. On top of that sits an oil cooler for the supercharger, as this older design requires an external feed. It’s not for show, either, with Jon telling us that running at around 6-7psi it’s making 303whp, which is an awful lot of power in a car as light as the E28 and definitely makes it a bit of a handful. Not that he’s complaining, mind, he’s loved every minute of the 18 months he’s spent with the E28 – a long time for him as he likes to change his cars often.
And so we come to the brown E28, Kris’s rowdy, raucous, unashamedly showy counterpart to his dad’s more demure example. Kris was fortunate in that his E28 was in a better state, though as it had come from his dad that’s not much of a surprise. A quick glance at the exterior of the E28 is enough to tell you that there’s clearly something going on here. There’s a sort of rough-edged charm to the whole car, visible in the interior with its auxiliary gauges mounted on a bright red backing plate and that well-used Nardi steering wheel. Where the engine bay of the red E28 is a relatively discreet affair, on the brown car it’s much more of a mad scientist affair. What you’re looking at here is an extremely impressive home brew positive displacement supercharger setup.
In case you don’t know, a centrifugal supercharger produces more boost as engine speed increases, normally producing peak boost very near to the engine’s redline and where it would normally be producing peak power in naturally aspirated form. A positive displacement blower, like a Roots or twin-screw item, on the other hand, produces peak boost instantly, meaning you get massive low-end torque and immediate response from the engine when you put your foot down, making for awesome mid-range thump. Positive displacement superchargers are also a lot more complicated to fit.
Generally speaking they are large, bulky items that are traditionally mounted directly on a custom inlet manifold, feeding air into the engine via a chargecooler. In contrast, centrifugal superchargers are smaller and run cooler, so they can happily operate without any sort of intercooling. The fact that Kris’s car is running a positive displacement blower, an Eaton M90 to be precise, and a home-made installation at that, is very impressive.
Of course, the fact that it’s a homebrewed setup means that it wasn’t perhaps running as best as it could have been when Kris took over custody of the car. “I’ve improved a lot of things since I bought this E28,” he says. “It had no management for starters and was just running a fuel pressure regulator, so I fitted a Megasquirt ECU and had the cam blueprinted. I changed every boost hose and pipe and replaced the FMIC with a chargecooler.” This is that big metal box on the front left of the engine bay. It cools the intake air by passing it through a core filled with water, which is itself passed through and cooled by a heat exchanger mounted at the front of the engine bay, hidden beneath a clever lift-off panel. “This saw intake temperatures drop from 90ºC to 40ºC,” says Kris, “and I’m planning on adding methanol injection, which should bring them down to about 20ºC and help the engine make more power.”
The rather industrial-looking pipework under the bonnet is a bit of a maze but it all begins at the air filter which is shrouded in carbon and fed with cooling air via the hole in the front grille where the passenger-side high beam unit would normally sit. The air travels through the black flexi-pipe and into the supercharger inlet, then up through the outlet on top, round the back of the engine bay and into the chargecooler, through the core, and then into the original inlet manifold on top of the engine. The fact that the E28’s engine bay is quite capacious and allows for the supercharger to be mounted by the side of the engine and to feed into the original inlet manifold is a bonus. There’s a lot more beneath the bonnet beyond the supercharger, though, including a B35 Stage 3 head with bigger valves, a Schrick 296 cam and a Fritz’s Bitz exhaust manifold.
It’s a monstrously impressive installation but how does it perform? According to Kris, the car made 252whp, which is definitely enough to be getting on with, but also an amazing 350lb ft of torque at just 1800rpm, which is the beauty of a positive displacement blower. When Kris had nitrous on the car it ran an 11.8-second quarter-mile, which is extremely impressive and puts it in the company of cars like the Jaguar XJ220, Audi R8 V10 and Aston Martin V12 Vantage S.
“I took the nitrous off as I knew I would never really use it,” he continues. “I was too scared of blowing the engine up… but I might put it back on. I really want 400hp and the supercharger is holding the car back – it’s not making as much boost as it should and I need to run more boost to make more power.
I’m considering my options. I might rebuild the supercharger or I might go for a turbo conversion. It’s quite a lot of money but it would definitely mean I could hit 400hp. And I like the idea of having a turbo. I have 90% of the parts I need, so I’m almost ready.”
Of course, we can’t discuss Kris’s car without discussing its colour. It’s not paint or a wrap but is, in fact, Plasti Dip – the spray-on, peel-off rubbery coating that can provide a quick and easy way to change the colour of your car and then change it back again when you get bored! “I was approached by DipMyVehicle, who offered to dip my car for free in exchange for having it on the company’s stand at the Santa Pod show, so I went for it,” Kris explains. The colour is called Sunset bronze. Although it may look pretty brown when the light hits it there’s a subtle change in colour and you can see a light metallic element in the coating. Combined with the aggressive drop on Spax springs and black, 19” CSL-wheels it makes this E28 into a bit of a bad boy.
The brakes have also been uprated, with E34 540i discs and calipers front and rear running Mintex pads, while the gearbox is a 260/6 unit running the ratios from the E28 dog-leg transmission with a separate bellhousing, Black Diamond Stage 3 clutch, and modified centre donut on the propshaft.
Both cars have had a vast amount of time and effort devoted to them – Jon’s car on the bodywork and Kris’s on the mechanicals – but the results speak for themselves. E28s need love and attention so we’re delighted that this father and son team stepped up to the plate.
It’s a lovely retro classic car. It stands out and has road presence.
DATA FILE Eaton supercharged E28 M535i
3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 , compression ratio lowered to 8.1:1, #B35 Stage 3 head with 1mm bigger valves, #Schrick 296 cam, B35 inlet manifold, 550cc injectors, #Sytec FPR, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, 8-micron fuel filter, CDA carbon air box with cold air feed, custom crank pulley, #Eaton-M90 supercharger, ported top hat, custom charge cooler system, #Brownlow alloy radiator, Fritz’s Bits heat wrapped manifold and full system, #Megasquirt ECU running MS2. 252whp, 350lb ft wtq
/ #Getrag-260/6 gearbox with separate bellhousing, #Black-Diamond-Stage-3 clutch, modified centre donut on propshaft, factory #LSD / #Getrag-260
8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) M3 CSL wheels with 225/40 (front) and 245/35 (rear) Bridgestone tyres, #Bilstein gas dampers all-round, #Spax lowering springs, polyurethane front torque arm bushes, E34 540i discs and floating calipers front and rear, #Mintex racing pads all-round
Plasti Dipped in Sunset bronze over original #Zinnobar red, driver’s-side high beam removed for cold air feed, clear front and rear indicator lenses
Standard E28 M535i leather, three-spoke Nardi leather steering wheel, M5 gear knob, Innovative wideband #AFR gauge and boost gauge in centre pod
Paul Higgs, Ed at Fusion Motorsport and Justin from dipmyvehicle.com
DATA FILE Rotrex supercharged E28 M535i
3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 / #M30 / #BMW-M30 , #Rotrex supercharger, custom alloy radiator and intercooler system, 440cc injectors, #Gotech-Pro-X-ECU with custom wiring loom, #Ram air filter, Fritz’s Bits manifold and exhaust system. 303whp @ 7psi
Standard M535i dog-leg ’box, standard factory LSD
8.5x17” (front) and 9.5x17” (rear) #BBS-RC090 Style 5 wheels with 225/40 (front) and 245/40 (rear) tyres, #Bilstein dampers, uprated lowering springs, front and rear strut braces, #Black-Diamond drilled and grooved discs, EBC Redstuff pads
Zinnobar red, dechromed, clear front indicator lenses,
Standard M535i leather seats
Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.