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BMW E30 Want to know what the next level is? Take a look at this Belgian beauty to find out.
THIS BMW E30 BOASTS BARKINF SIX-POT, STEALTHY PAINTWORK AND A WHOLE HOST OF COLD WAR STYLING CUES – IT’S A LONG WAY FROM YOUR AVERAGE TRACK-DAY BEEMER!
The #BMW E30 is one of those cars that once littered the streets of the UK. It was a common sight and though undoubtedly a good looking and fine handling car, their sheer ubiquity meant that only the likes of the M3 and the larger capacity six-pot models really attracted much attention from the tuning fraternity. It was a similar story around the globe, with the cars steadily building up a hardline, intensely loyal following, something that’s only grown in size and fervour as the E30’s numbers have begun to dwindle. A rich motorsport history and a career spent kicking the stuffing out of all comers in touring car championships across the world helped as well. And that goes a long way towards explaining why the vast majority of tuned E30s tend to stick with the racing theme. All of the above makes this car a welcome breath of fresh air.
It’s been put together by long time Fast Car photographer Kevve Raekelboom, and, in looks at least, it’s about as far from those pristine, inch-perfect race cars as it’s possible to be. Not that that’s a bad thing of course. Kevve’s car just looks a lot more brutal, raw and, dare we say it, menacing.
Those bare-metal Kirkey bucket seats are a case in point. They look like they’ve been lifted straight from the cockpit of a B52 bomber! In fact the whole interior wouldn’t look too out of place in some kind of Cold War plane. With all traces of carpet removed and replaced with matt black paint, the rear bench having been dumped, the extensive Wiechers roll cage poking its way into every corner and no ICE at all! “Who needs music with a car that’s this loud and sounds this good,” chuckles Kevve. In fact the only minor concessions to comfort and everyday usability to be found anywhere inside are the leather-clad dashboard, doorcards and transmission tunnel – all of which provide a foil to all that uncompromising exposed metalwork.
This brings us onto what’s under that pristine bonnet, in this case a carefully fettled BMW six-pot. Now BM’s six-bangers really are the stuff of legend, blending performance with everyday usability and, of course, one hell of a soundtrack. The proof of this is in the pudding, with the unit between the front wings boasting a handy 190bhp. That’s a figure that’s been coaxed from the 2.0 by simply adding a custom side-exit exhaust system, an aftermarket induction kit, and a few other minor fuelling and cooling mods. Okay so 190bhp isn’t exactly going to cause GT-R owners to wake in the middle of the night sweating with fear, but it’s plenty in something as lightweight and well balanced as this E30. Gear selection duties are ably handled by a tight, six-speed manual – again chosen as it makes the most of the modest power available.
The drivetrain is all very conventional and wouldn’t look at all out of place on a budget E30 track car, but that stunning grey paintwork undoubtedly would. It’s actually Lamborghini Gallardo grey, and makes the boxy, bluff looking Beemer appear even more aggressive and moody, with the result being that the car now has more than a hint of navy fighter jet going on. “I’d been wondering what colour to go for for months. I hadn’t spotted anything that really appealed to me,” Kevve recalls. “It was only when I spotted this on a Gallardo in Las Vegas that I made up my mind – it was love at first sight!”
There’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye, with Kevve having blended soughtafter OEM extras (like that deep DTM front valance) with carefully selected aftermarket parts, all of which make the car look that much more purposeful.
Fully paid up Beemer-geeks will no doubt have spotted that Kevve’s also taken the slightly unusual step of fitting the facelifted E30 front end with pre-facelift chrome bumpers. This is a mod that, on paper at least, really shouldn’t work. And yet there’s no doubting that it really, really does, with the bright chrome helping to break up the dark grey paintwork perfectly.
While it’s probably the shade of Lambo grey that grabs most people’s attention to start with, it’s Kevve’s choice of wheels and his car’s sump-botheringly low stance that really get them talking.
The former are 17in VXS210 VIP Modular Wheels and were chosen precisely because they’re so rarely seen on BMWs, with most E30 owners opting to run BBSs or something flat-faced and motorsporty. Their copper colour also helps them stand out against the grey and black bodywork, though their considerable width (8in at the front, 9in at the rear) meant the inner arches did have to be modified to provide enough clearance for them. The suspension is actually a custom air kit from Kean Suspensions, Kevve having decided that only bags would leave him the stance he knew the car demanded. “There’s nothing available off the shelf that goes low enough, so I had to go the bespoke route,” he says. “I don’t know how much lower it is than standard, but it touches the floor with the engine, front lip and exhaust, so I can’t go any lower!”
Two long years of hard work have resulted in one of the best BMWs currently on the modding scene, one that’s all the better for looking totally different from pretty much every other E30 out there.
There’s no doubting that Kevve’s looked far and wide and drawn on all manner of influences when building it, with the mix of OE hardware and exotic parts offering pretty much the perfect blend, and all on a model that’s now a very rare sight on our roads. Kevve’s still tight lipped when pressed about plans for the future, though he does admit that he might move on to tackle something totally different.
“I’ll either start afresh and build something new, or I’ll go to town on the engine with some kind of crazy, big-power turbo setup!” Whatever he chooses to do, we’re confident that Kevve’s eye for detail and knack for thinking outside the box will result in something that’s seriously cool and, with a bit of luck, massively powerful too!
TECH SPEC: #BMW-E30 - #Lamborghini-paintwork / #BMW-320i / #BMW-320i-E30
STYLING: #1983 BMW E30 with Lamborghini grey paintwork; custom widened inner arches front and back; facelift front end with pre-facelift front bumpers and trim; #DTM front lip; #Speedhunters towing hook; windscreen wiper delete; OEM #Hella yellow headlights; deleted right side mirror.
CHASSIS: Custom air suspension from #Kean-Suspensions , with #AccuAir management and #Viair compressors; 8x17in and 9x17in VIP #Modular-Wheels-VXS210 in custom copper, golden bolts; 185/30x17 and 195/40x17 Nankang NS20 sport tyres; rebuilt #OE brakes with aftermarket pads.
INTERIOR: #Kirkey-Racing lightweight bucket seats; matt black interior; rear bench deleted; leather-clad dashboard, doorcards and transmission tunnel; multi-point Wiechers roll cage; deep dish sport steering wheel.
TUNING: E30 #M20 2.0 I6 / #M20B20 with aftermarket induction kit; custom stainless exhaust with straight through centre section and side exit; six-speed manual gearbox.
THANKS A massive thanks to my brother, who helped me on loads of things on the car, even during the long nights working to get it ready; my girlfriend for the many, many hours together in the garage working on the car and helping me find parts on the internet; my sister, for picking up parts for me everywhere!; my brother in law for helping me with building those seat-rails; John for painting the car; Kean Suspensions for supplying the air suspension parts; Christophe from Sexy Wheels for getting the VIP #Modular-Wheels .
There’s an invitation we can’t refuse.
You’ve got a bit of a thing for modified BMWs, haven’t you?
“Yeah I do. And some of you might remember my old E21 on #BBS alloys. I just love the look of retro BMWs.”
Why did you decide to build the car in the way that you have?
“I can’t stand stock cars, so it was always going to be tuned to some degree. I love building project cars that stand out from the crowd, hence why I draw inspiration from all over the place.” How long did it take to build?“
A long, long two years!
What’s on the telly tonight then? Stylish all round. You’d never kick a six-pot out of bed. How low can you go? “The wheels were chosen precisely because they’re so rarely seen on BMWs”
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