- Post is under moderationV8 E36 6.2-litre LS3-powered Saloon. Subtle on the outside, brutal on the inside, this super-clean M3 packs a 500whp V8 punch. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Jordan Unternaher
STREET FIGHTER 6.2-litre #GM-LS3 / #V8-swapped / #BMW-E36 /
It would seem that if you wish to insert a large, American V8 into a BMW then the E36 is the vehicle of choice. While BMW never put anything bigger than a straight-six into that capacious engine bay, Alpina squeezed eight cylinders under the bonnet for its B8 4.6 way back in #1994 , showing everyone that not only could it be done but that it was definitely a good idea.
We must have featured more LS-swapped E36s than any other model of BMW that has undergone the heart transplant but we’re certainly not complaining. And how could you when you’re being stared down by an LS3 E36 M3 that’s as clean and downright sexy as Brian Cain’s example? The exterior exudes nothing but subtlety while the engine bay is clean enough to eat your dinner off. And the interior drives the point home that this E36 ain’t nothing to mess with…
That Brian’s ended up with a hunk of American muscle in his E36’s engine bay is less of a surprise when you learn that his first car was a 1987 Pontiac Trans Am and that he currently owns no less than nine BMWs. This car is the perfect blend of home-grown V8 from his youth and the Bavarian marque that stole his heart ten years ago. “I was always fascinated by the engineering and the history of BMWs,” he tells us. “But I was never able to afford one while I was growing up. I love the history of automobiles and how they came to be. #BMW has always kept its roundel logo, the kidney grille design and the signature Hofmesiter kink on the rear quarter glass. Small details like that just speak to me.
“My first BMW was actually this M3. As I was growing up, I remember the E36 M3 being released. It was such a great looking car. I had model cars of it and posters but I always thought it would be out of my reach. When I was finally able to afford one, I had to jump on it. I was searching for an E36 M3 Saloon. It had to be a Saloon. I wanted either Hell red or Dakar yellow and I found this red car in Las Vegas, about 2000 miles from where I live.” But when a car is good it’s worth travelling for, and this M3 was very good indeed. “It was a one-owner, low-mileage, flawless example,” Brian grins. “The next thing I knew, I’d booked a plane ticket and flew out to get the car. I drove it home over a three-day span, collecting a couple speeding tickets along the way!”
Initially, the M3 served as Brian’s daily driver but, having grown up around hot rods, having owned a Trans Am, and having modified a selection of Hondas, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place – although Brian never anticipated taking things quite this far. “I knew I was going to do coilovers, the exhaust, the wheels and other basic things,” Brian says. “And I drove the car as a daily driver for almost six years. It was always kept in amazing condition but after putting nearly 100k miles on it I wanted to redo it. I have always been into hot rods and V8 cars, so I knew I wanted to do an LS swap. This was still when LS swaps were relatively uncommon on these cars. I started to doing research on what I would need and how I would set everything up. I had a general plan on paper before I even started. I went to a local wrecking yard where I sourced an LS3 engine from a wrecked Corvette. I took it home and immediately stripped it back to a bare block.”
Clearly the best time to add stuff that’s going to make even more power is while the engine is out of the car and no corners were cut when it came to slathering it in go-faster bits, as Brian explains: “Items I added included: Katech rod bolts; a high volume oil pump; CNC-ported heads; a custom grind cam; Comp push rods and rockers; LS7 lifters and seven-layer head gaskets; a ported intake manifold; a FAST 92mm throttle body and fuel rails; and 60lb injectors with Aeromotive Stealth fuel pump handle fuelling. The Vorshlag engine mounts are the only swapped parts used.
Everything else was custom fabricated in-house at the shop Brian owns, MWorks Garage. The 4” intake was custom-made in-house and American Racing headers are mated to our custom dual three-inch exhaust. The cooling system utilises a Zionsville radiator with heat shrink hose clamps for a clean look and I made the entire engine harness from scratch; I wanted it clean looking to complement the shaved engine bay but still serviceable so the engine runs on a completely separate fuse box and control from the rest of the car. Everything under the hood is powdercoated by Killer Koatings in Covington, Kentucky. The transmission is a T56 from a 2002 Camaro SS which has been completely rebuilt as well. Pretty much anything you could do to strengthen the transmission has been done, and gears are changed through a custom MGW shifter. Mike at Proxses Tuning in Dayton, Ohio tuned the car and currently it produces 496whp and 477lb ft.” Brian says this with the sort of casual understatement you would not expect from someone with a V8-powered E36 putting out somewhere in the region of 550hp.
Of course, putting together an engine that powerful is one thing but building a car that can handle it is another matter altogether, and no stone has been left unturned, no component left unmodified when it came to ensuring the chassis was up to the task. “The suspension has been completely overhauled,” says Brian, “with a combination of both stock and aftermarket parts.
The coilovers are all completely custom and have been built using Ground Control custom valved double adjustable dampers and custom spring rate Eibach springs. We made the adjustable control arms in-house while camber is controlled through Vorshlag camber plates up front.” While the transmission had been suitably beefed-up to handle all that power and torque, Brian still had to ensure that it would actually reach the rear wheels without obliterating any components along the way, so the drivetrain has undergone some heavy modifications. Power is sent along a custom-made three-inch aluminium propshaft with 1350 U-joints to a Ford Mustang Cobra 8.8 IRS diff using a Detroit TrueTrac LSD with 4.10 gears and onto the wheels via DriveShaft Shop axles. “I went with the Ford differential after going through two 188mm BMW diffs and completely twisting up a subframe after the second differential broke apart,” says Brian.
“Needless to say, it took some creative design, planning, and geometry to get everything working correctly together but it should be good for the 1000hp range.” This should provide ample future-proofing for whatever further mods Brian might have up his sleeve.
With masses of power on tap, the importance of stopping cannot be overlooked and while this E36 hasn’t been fitted with a BBK, the brakes have been suitably uprated and are now more than up to the job. Brembo discs have been fitted along with Performance Friction pads and Bimmer World braided hoses. The ABS has been deleted and Brian has added a Tilton proportioning valve to adjust the brake bias.
As far as the styling is concerned, Brian has opted to keep things subtle but, while at first glance this E36 might appear almost completely standard on the outside, there’s more going on here than meets the eye; there are lots of subtle modifications that are easy to miss. Up front, the foglights have been shaved to give the bumper a much cleaner, unique look and an AC Schnitzer front lip has been added to make the car look even lower. Euro headlights have been fitted and smoked indicators, markers and rear lights have been added. At the rear the boot spoiler has also been shaved.
However, the most involved exterior modification, which also happens to be Brian’s favourite mod on the entire car, was a direct result of his wheel choice. “I have always been a fan of CCW wheels,” he says. “And I wanted a wheel that had my exact specifications and finish: 9x17” fronts and 10.5x17” rears. Killer Koatings of Covington, Kentucky did the powdercoating and I did this when black wheels were almost taboo, everyone was still running polished wheels. Now you see almost every company offering this look of gloss lips with matt faces. When we were fitting the wheels, we didn’t want excessive camber, so we cut the rear quarter panels under the rear bumper and pulled them out by almost an inch on each side. The result is factory-looking car (most people would never notice the wider rear arches) whilst still being able to fit an aggressive wheel with less than one degree of camber.” Once you know what he’s done here you know, but from anything other than the right viewing angle those pumped-up rear arches disappear completely, blending into that blindingly brilliant red bodywork. Even gazing down the car’s flanks you still need to know what you’re looking for to actually notice the subtle swelling.
While the exterior is a picture of subtlety, the interior definitely means business and there are some choice mods in here. The original grey interior was swapped for an all-black one and Brian retrimmed the headlining and pillar panels in black suede. A pair of red and black Recaro Wildcat seats were added, along with red Scroth Racing harnesses, and there’s also a Nardi steering wheel and Euro M3 gauge cluster. The finishing touches are custom gear and handbrake gaiters made by Brian’s girlfriend Kaitlin, who runs StitchBoots and does custom automotive interior work.
In case you couldn’t tell, we are big, big fans of Brian’s E36. The engine swap is awesome but it’s all the other performance upgrades that take this car to the next level. It’s the level of dedication that has been applied to every aspect of the build that makes it so special. A lot of work has been poured into this build and you can see it everywhere you look, it’s the sort of build you aspire to. There’s more to come, too, as Brian explains: “The car was recently sponsored by Vortech Superchargers who sent me a V3 setup. I hope to have it on soon, set in the 22-26lbs of boost range. It should make for a pretty wild ride.” Considering how wild this E36 already is, we can’t wait to see it.
DATA FILE BMW #BMW-LS3 / #V8 / #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-M3-LS3-E36 / #BMW-M3-LS3 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 /
ENGINE 6.2-litre V8 / #GM-LS3 / #Corvette-engine , #Katech rod bolts, Telling high volume oil pump, LS1 oil pan, LS1 accessory drive, SLP crank damper, CNC-ported heads, custom grind #Comp-Cams camshaft, Comp Cams pushrods, rockers and timing chain, #LS7 lifters, LS7 seven-layer head gaskets, #ARP head bolts, ported LS3 intake manifold, FAST 92mm throttle body, #FAST fuel rails, #DeatschWorks 60lb injectors, #Aeromotive-Stealth 340gph fuel pump, AN-6 fuel lines, Vorschlag engine mounts, MWorks Garage wiring harness, MWorks Garage throttle bracket, MWorks Garage full V-Band exhaust, American Racing Headers exhaust manifolds, Zionsvile radiator, #MWorks-Garage expansion tank, MWorks Garage four-inch intake
TRANSMISSION 2002 #GM-Camaro-SS-T56 six-speed manual gearbox, #MGW shifter, steel shift forks, bronze shift pads, hardened steel bearing spacers and sleeves, #McLeod-RXT twin-disc clutch, Cincinnati Driveline propshaft, Ford 8.8 rear differential, Detroit TrueTrac LSD, 4.10 Ford Racing ring and pinion gear set
CHASSIS 9x17” ET20 (front) and 10.5x17” ET20 (rear) #CCW-LM20 wheels with matt black centres and gloss black lips, 235/45 (front) and 255/40 (rear) Falken tyres, #Ground-Control double adjustable coilovers, #Eibach custom rate springs, Vorshlag camber plates, Ground Control rear upper shock mounts, MWorks Garage rear lower control arms, Treehouse Racing front LCA bushings, MWorks Garage LSx power steering setup, Tin Soldier Race Cars modified subframe, Performance Friction brake pads, #Brembo discs, Bimmer World braided brake hoses, ABS delete, Tilton proportioning valve, MWorks Garage ABS delete hardlines
EXTERIOR Rear quarter panels widened one-inch, shaved front foglights, Shadowline grilles, Euro face-lift headlights, smoked corner lights, smoked side markers, smoked taillights, shaved rear spoiler, AC Schnitzer front lip, CQuartz Finest paint coating
INTERIOR #Recaro-Wildcat seats, MWorks Garage seat brackets, #Nardi steering wheel, Euro M3 gauge cluster, Schroth Racing harnesses, #Bavarian-Sound-Werks speakers, suede headliner, A-, B-, C-pillars and rear deck, black interior conversion, #StitchBoots gear and handbrake gaiters
THANKS I want to thank my parents first and foremost – they always told me to follow my dreams and supported me 100% in my decisions. Unfortunately, my mother passed away three months before we did this photoshoot. My girlfriend Kaitlin, owner at StitchBoots Automotive Interiors. She is with me every day at the shop, wanting to participate in all our projects. Eddie Wright and Greg Huber at Fast Eddies Auto Salon. Paul Montgomery at Eastside Auto Spa. Mike Pirnia at Proxses Tuning. Kenny Meade and Mike Karwath at Killer Coatings. Everyone at 1310 MotorsportsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCRAZY V8 ESPRIT / LOTUS ESPRIT / PUNK AND DISORDERLY
If you want to annoy the purists, what better way than a #V8 #Lotus-Esprit-S3 running on air ride and Jap wheels. A lot of people don’t like this Lotus. It’s got the wrong engine, the wrong suspension, the wrong attitude. But this Lotus doesn’t really care what you think, it’s got its own stuff going on… Words: Dan Bevis. Photos: Chris Frosin.
It’s a matter of pride here at Retro Cars that we seek out cars which don’t follow the welltrodden path; the mavericks, the outlaws, the oddballs – the cars with a bona fi de punk ethos that thumb a nose to authority and cock a snook at the naysayers. There are plenty of people within the traditional classic car scene who’ll tell you that there is a correct way of doing things, and to deviate from the norm is to invoke their ire. But screw them.
Where’s the creativity in building a car that dozens of people have built before? Where’s the sense of achievement? The lifestyle we celebrate is one of brash weirdness, and they certainly don’t get a lot more brash or weird than Rob Howard’s Series 3 #Lotus-Esprit . We’re talking gruff supercar power, scene-friendly altitude, down-with-the-kids rims fresh from Japan… this is the polar opposite to a pipe-and- slippers concours resto. This is a punk collage, a scrapbook of ideas pasted together from all corners of the modifying world, and we couldn’t be more in love with it.
Now, we know what some of you will be thinking – ‘Oh, it’s another old Lotus on air-ride’. Sure, there are a few of these on the scene these days, and we’ve featured a couple of ’em ourselves; Dean Meeson’s Esprit and Luke Gilbert’s Elite. But if a surfeit of bagged Lotuses is the biggest problem you encounter today, then you should probably take a few minutes out to consider how damned lucky you are. Besides, this is very far from ‘just another old Lotus on air-ride’ – this is nothing short of a work of art.
“I’ve always been into cars, even when I was a kid,” says Rob. “I started working on cars when I was about fourteen years old, always wanting to change them, to fi t bigger engines and bigger wheels. I guess it’s in my blood? Anyway, the Esprit was my childhood dream car – James Bond driving into the sea had me hooked! Someone in my town had one when I was growing up, and I knew I just had to have one… one day.”
While Bond’s Lotus may have been modified to cope with the salty rigours of sub-aqua mischief, Rob’s would eventually end up taking an altogether different turn – but, of course, he had to find one first. And that sort of thing doesn’t always go as well as you might think.
“This is actually my second Esprit,” he explains. “The first one I had was a yellow Series 1, which had a Rover V8 already fitted. But it was crap – horrible to drive, and the 130bhp P6 engine was really underpowered. They do say ‘Never meet you heroes’, and I was just so disappointed with it.”
As you’ve probably deduced, however, Rob is not the sort of man who gives up easily. Having harvested the V8 conversion parts and squirrelled them away, he waved goodbye to the disheartening yellow cheese-wedge and went on the hunt for the car he’d really wanted all along: a white Series 3. “These have a much better chassis,” he explains, “and an improved rear suspension setup. Much better for sticking a V8 in there!” And, naturally , there’s that spectre of 007 lurking in the broad rear aspect, ready to indulge in racy espionage at the drop of a Martini glass…
“I found the car for sale on a Lotus forum, totally stock and needing a little work,” Rob recalls. “The exhaust manifold was cracked, and the interior was horrible; very faded and turning green! It ran crap but was perfect for my needs – and it was white! I had no use for the four-pot engine anyway, I already had an engine lined up to transplant into it. V8 power was, of course, at the top of the list for the project. I just love the sound. There’s no stereo in here, it doesn’t need one! And another high priority was the wheels; I hate stock wheels, very boring. This car needed to have something unusual. The Esprit is a tricky one to change wheels on though, and it can look horrible if you choose the wrong type or size. I got lucky, I think my wheels look killer – maybe I’m biased? But lots of people that see it also agree the wheels look great! Anyway, after the V8 and the wheels it was all about making it better and faster, and a tad lower…”
Heh. ‘A tad’. Rob really does run a masterful line in understatement. Being an avid fan of American hot rod shows of the Fast ‘N’ Loud ilk, air-ride was increasingly permeating its way into Rob’s subconscious as a viable option. Having experimented on various previous projects with lowering springs, coilovers and what-have-you, he knew what he wanted and, more importantly, what he didn’t want. There would be no crashy ride or smashed sumps here, this was going to be a suspension setup done right and done well. “I thought air-ride would be the best of both worlds,” he shrugs. “Any height I like, and any spring rate? What’s not to like? OK, it’s not quite as simple as that, and the ride is still fairly harsh, but it’s way lower than I could have got it by other means.” The most cunning part is that Rob’s combination of coilovers and Universal Air bags is managed by AccuAir’s E-Level system, which keeps the car at whatever height you determine regardless of external influence – so, say, if you tell it to run at a particular height, then stuff the boot and passenger seat with bags of cement, it’ll still run at that height you’d told it to. Isn’t it great living in the future?
The ride-height’s taken care of then, so let’s talk about that engine. It’s a Rover V8, like in his maligned old yellow Lotus, but in this instance it’s a pukka TVR unit. What’s more, it’s been stretched yet further into the realms of motorsport excess; the already-formidable 4.3-litre TVR Griffith engine has been reworked by V8 developments into a rumbling 4.5-litre monster. “I found a hillclimb car for sale that had this engine fitted, and I knew it’d be perfect for my Esprit,” Rob grins mischievously. If you cast an eye over the spec box, you’ll see why he’s grinning. The motor really is a monster, with a torque-rich spec designed for propelling light things up tall things at alarming speed. Just the job!
“Fitting the V8 was actually quite straightforward, using the gearbox adaptor I had kept from the Series 1,” he says. “I had to make new mounts and carry out a lot of cutting to the rear body to make room for the big-bore 3in twin exhaust, and things kept changing throughout the build as parts got altered and made better; more often things wouldn’t work out how I planned, so had to be reworked or changed completely. The exhaust was re-done three times before I got it how I wanted! The air-ride was a nightmare to fit too - getting it to go a lot lower than Lotus ever intended meant that, with a car that’s well over thirty years old, a lot of the suspension parts were a pain to remove due to neglect and rust. Jobs take a long time to do as it’s all done on my driveway; the car has spent most of its time on axle stands and in bits since I’ve owned it due to always changing things and waiting for parts. And I still have plans to improve the car, it’ll always be evolving and getting better. Working on cars is like childbirth - you forget the pain until you get the spanners out…”
Thank goodness Rob’s enthusiasm lies in modifying old cars rather than delivering babies, we’re a bit concerned about where he’s planning to stick his torque wrench. But thankfully his skills are entirely well suited to Esprit rebirth, as the results you see here demonstrate; sure, he says it’s unfinished, but that’s true of pretty much every feature car owner we speak to. We particularly love his choice of wheels, too – that James Bond influence of international mystique has led him to source a set of three-piece Super Star split-rims straight from Japan, the rears arriving 9in wide apiece and being rebuilt to a meaty 11.5in girth using Image 5in lips. That’s the sort of forthrightness that gives the car proper supercar presence, something that the old-school wedge always deserved.
“I like to get out in it as much as I can – when it’s working, that is,” Rob laughs. “It’s a Lotus, so something generally needs fixing, but it’s fun to take it to work and there’s always a buzz around it wherever it goes. My colleagues are always saying ‘I saw someone taking pictures of your car again’! And yeah, I know it’s annoyed a few Lotus purists, but who cares about them? It’s my car.”
…and that’s exactly the right attitude. This badass Esprit doesn’t care what you think, it just does what it wants. It doesn’t always work, but that doesn’t matter either. The Low-tus exists on its own terms, and that’s enough.
Monster 11.5in wide rear wheels transmit the 4.5 litre V8’s torque to the tarmac.
“Working on cars is like childbirth - you forget the pain until you get the spanners out…”
“The Esprit was my childhood dream car – James Bond driving into the sea had me hooked!”
James Bond eat your heart out, you can keep your submersible Esprit, we’d rather have this!
Thumping great V8 soundtrack means that Rob has no need for a stereo install.
SPECIFICATION #Lotus-Esprit-V8 / #Lotus-Esprit-V8-TVR / #Lotus-Esprit-TVR / #Lotus-Esprit / #Rover-V8 / #Lotus / #AccuAir /
ENGINE: 4.5-litre #TVR (Rover) #V8 , fully balanced, forged 93.5mm bore #Cosworth pistons and #HRC1037 rods, cross-drilled and balanced #HRC1400 Iceberg crank (80mm stroke), high-volume oil pump, Stage 3 big valve heads, stainless steel 42.8mm inlet and 36.8mm exhaust-valves, fully ported and gas flowed, uprated valve springs ( #VSSV8 ), Piper steel vernier timing chain set, #Piper-BP270 camshaft, Rhoades anti pump lifters, John Eales billet rocker posts and head stud kit, #Edelbrock-Performance inlet manifold - fully ported and gas-flowed to match heads, Edelbrock Performance 1404 (500cfm) 4-barrel #Weber carburettor, #K&N turbo plenum with large K&N cone filter, #Mallory Performance billet distributor with electronic ignition, #Mallory Pro 8mm plug leads and high output coil, TVR big bore exhaust manifolds reversed, twin 3in bore custom stainless steel exhaust system, Rover SD1 sump, Esprit Developments engine conversion kit, custom mounts and turbo rubbers, Sierra Cosworth 60mm core alloy radiator, twin electric 12in rear-mounted fans, Davies Craig EWP 80 pump and controller, extra cooling booster pump fitted at rear, Mocal remote oil filter and oil cooler rad, alloy header tank and swirl pot. 289bhp @ 5500rpm; 300lb/ft @ 4500rpm
TRANSMISSION: Esprit/Citroën SM 5-speed transaxle, alloy bellhousing adaptor and custom input shaft, lightened race steel flywheel, uprated clutch
SUSPENSION: #Gaz-Gold-Racing / #GAZ adjustable front alloy coilovers, #Protech rear alloy coilovers, Universal-Air Aero Sport airbags, #AccuAir-E-Level management, #Air-Zenith-OB2 compressor, #Dakota-Digital quad air pressure and tank gauge kit, twin seamless alloy 3-gallon air tanks, front top and bottom suspension arms modified, uprated polybushes, hubs modified to 5x112 PCD and 66.6 centre bore, Canley Classics forged front uprights (trunnion free)
BRAKES: Front: Audi 100/200 314x30mm cross-drilled vented discs, custom fitted to rear of hubs, Porsche 996 Brembo 4-pot alloy calipers on custom billet mounts.
Rear: Mondeo 280x12mm cross-drilled and slotted discs custom fitted to rear shafts, Esprit rear calipers, carriers modified for larger discs, stainless braided hoses
WHEELS & TYRES: 8x17in +25 (front) and 11.5x17in +20 (rear) Super Star 3-piece split-rims with 205/45 Yokohama Parada Spec 2 (front) and 315/35 BFGoodrich Comp T/A (rear)
EXTERIOR: Side scoop ‘ears’ widened and modified into quad intakes, rear hatch locked ajar with flush-locking bonnet pins, modified front air intake and revised radiator location, rear bumper drilled to improve airflow output, rear engine bay floor removed, extra spaceframe chassis brace fitted with alloy heatshielding
INTERIOR: Stock ‘teddy bear’ cloth refreshed with black dye, #Nardi Personal 350mm steering wheel, MX-5 suede gearstick gaitor, leather #Lotus gearknob, Stack wideband lambda gauge, #Dakota-Digital air pressure gauge, SJ Sportscars black carpet set, Accuair Switchspeed controller
THANKS: “ #Gerald-Moors for all the machining work - A4 Engineering, Unit 7 Manor Park, 35 Willis Way, Poole, BH15 3SZ, Tel:¬01202 676047”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGERMAN MUSCLE 300HP #V8 #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-V8-E30 / #BMW-E30-V8 / #BMW-E30-M60 / #BMW-E30-M60B40 /
Classic chromie packs a punch. Whack a V8 in an E30 chromie and fun is guaranteed. Big V8s in small cars are the muscle car tradition, and this right here is the BMW way of doing it. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Sunny Ryait.
So, imagine this: you’ve already had two #Drive-My feature cars, one DRIVE-MY cover and you’ve just won DRIVE-MY Car of the Year. What are going to do next? If you said you’re going to Disney World, you’re clearly an American Football fan but if you’re Nick Sahota, the answer is: build another car! It’s not really a surprise considering he’s a serial modifier and a huge BMW fan.
Nick’s no stranger to E30s or combining them with V8s, his Calypso two-door appearing in our May ’14 issue before it had a slight incident and he went on to build his unstoppable orange entity, so another E30 project was inevitable really. “I wanted to build something a bit different from the norm,” explains Nick when we ask him about the E30, “a completely standardlooking chromie sleeper. Then it just developed from there and I added rare and desirable parts. For example, the louvres, which as far as I’m aware are the only E30 specific ones currently run in the UK. I bought the car in almost perfect original condition. It had only had one owner and just 36k miles on the clock. It was a South African import that had spent most of its life in storage. I bought it in December of 2013.
It was in near original condition and completely immaculate. When the purists realised that I had got such an original car for this project they hit the roof, but I have absolutely no interest in an M10-engined 318i. I never even drove it before the conversion. I took my friend Sukhi Kang with me to see the car and he drove it back to his. He stripped it and sold off all the running gear and interior on his drive for me, so the shell cost me nothing in the end.”
Nick then dropped it off to Shaz at Just E30z. “I have spent way, way too much on the build but now it’s exactly what I want. It’s one of my favourite cars that I’ve ever owned or driven,” he tells us. Considering how many BMs Nick has had (and still has), that’s really saying something.
“Just E30z did the majority of the conversion work and it took it a couple of months to finish the engine conversion,” Nick continued. “Liquid Metal / Hard Knocks speed shop did the custom manifold and exhaust work. Duda-Garage did everything else. There are always little niggles with these kind of modifications but between Just E30z and Duda Garage they have all now been ironed out and it’s perfect.”
A V8 under the bonnet is all well and good but until you’ve sourced yourself some killer wheels for your E30, you ain’t nobody, kid. When it came to wheels, Nick’s first choice was an unsurprising one. “I wanted BBS RSs,” he says, everyone’s favourite wheels, “so I bought a set of 4x100s and had them built to the correct fitment. But while I was waiting for them to be completed, I went to see my friend Sandeep Gill one evening and he told me about a set of wheels that another friend, Parm Bhamra, was currently selling. So we went over and I ended up buying two more sets of wheels for it, one set of which are the Schmidt TH Lines that are currently on the car. I just fell in love with them and the ease of maintaining the Radinox dishes. The RSs may make an appearance at some point, though.”
The multi-piece Schmidts look absolutely killer and suit the E30 perfectly, with that retro-look styling and those polished faces, which offer a nice, striking contrast to the subtlety of the rest of the car. RSs are great but it’s nice to see someone rocking something a bit different from the norm on their E30 and as part of the whole package these Schmidts are the perfect choice, especially when Nick’s brought that body down tight over the wheels with a set of GAZ Gold coilovers.
Styling-wise, it’s very much a case of less is more with this build and Nick has favoured a few choice additions that make a statement without going over the top or spoiling the look of the car. “The styling is pretty much as the factory built it, bar the wheels and a bit of colour-coding,” Nick says. “The louvres and heckblende add a retro feel to it in my opinion as they are period-correct additions.” Up front there’s what Nick describes as a ‘Jimmy Hill chin lip’, balanced by a Tech 1 spoiler at the rear and the colour-coding he’s talking about has seen the mirrors and sills matched to the body. But arguably the parts making the biggest difference to the whole look of the car are the extremely rare rear window louvres and the heckblende – that red rear trim panel. The two combined are so incredibly ’80s that they just transform the car, giving it such a unique look that really sets it apart from other E30s. The interior is no less rare, even though it’s not the interior that will be staying in the car. We’ll let Nick explain: “Well the interior I have for it includes a very rare set of electric Recaros and a M3 rear bench, currently being retrimmed in saddle brown. But for the time being it is running Sukhi’s spare, extremely rare, genuine Recaro LS Highback M3 interior.” The current seats are ridiculously sexy and the wood-rimmed Nardi steering wheel and Nardi gear knob add the classic finishing touches.
Amazingly we’ve come this far in the feature and not really talked about the big deal here: the engine swap. V8s and the E30 are pretty much a perfect combination and that big lump seems entirely happy nestled in the 3 Series engine bay. This is the 4.0-litre M60 from an E32 740i fitted with custom exhaust manifolds and a full custom system with a remote electric cutout valve – I’ve heard this in action in both videos and real life and it sounds ferocious. There’s a fivespeed manual gearbox from an E34 530i, with an LSD at the back to help Nick put the power down and a WMS four-pot brake kit helps him stop. He needs it because a) we know for a fact that he’s a ‘keen’ driver and b) having experienced the combination of E30 and V8, we can tell you that it is a most potent one, the M60 giving the lightweight E30 a serious turn of speed. Drive one and you’ll instantly understand why so many people do these swaps and why Nick’s had so many weaponised E30s.
“I love everything about this car,” he grins, “the engine, the torque, the sound… My girlfriend hates it, although she hates all my cars other than my daily X5! My friends who know what it is love it. The rest that haven’t got a clue can’t understand why I have these old cars.”
Being a serial modifier, Nick already has another project under construction (“but that’s top secret…”) but this E30 is going nowhere and will join his ever-growing collection of cars. He’s not finished with the mods either. He’s got that fancy new interior to go in yet and you never know what rare parts he’ll unearth on his travels. “I might even put it on air…” he lets slip. Whatever he does, 2015 is going to be an exciting year for Nick’s E30 and the purists are not going to be happy. Oh well.
ENGINE: 4.0-litre V8 #M60B40 / #M60 / #BMW-M60 from an E32 740i, custom exhaust manifold, custom exhaust with a remote electric cutout, five-speed manual gearbox from an E34 530i, LSD.
CHASSIS: 8x16” (front) and 9x16” (rear) multipiece #Schmidt TH Lines, #GAZ-Gold coilovers, WMS four-pot brake kit.
EXTERIOR: ‘Jimmy Hill’ front lip, colour-coded door mirrors and sills, Tech 1 rear spoiler, rear window louvres, heckblende.
INTERIOR: E30 M3 #Recaro LS Highbacks and rear bench, #Nardi wooden steering wheel and gear knob, genuine rear blind, genuine armrest, black sport carpet.
THANKS: Sukhi Kang, Shaz (Just E30z 07903 717333), Mariusz (Duda Garage 07922 443509), Liquid Metal / Hard Knocks speed shop (018692 408119), Dave at Signco, Steve and the guys at Clean Getaway (www.cgacw.co.uk), my family and friends.
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- Post is under moderationADAM GRITZ #BMW-E28 / #BMW-518i / #BMW-518i-E28 / #BMW /
Not only does Adam from Poole have an excellent sounding surname the likes of which you might find attached to a ’70s TV detective, he also happens to have a rather lovely E28 518i. Bought for the princely sum of £650 in late 2014, it has received a substantial amount of TLC and is now a mighty fine example.
It’s been resprayed in its original – and rare – burgundy hue and was then fitted with a pair of E23 chrome mirrors and E12 grille styling. Adam has lowered it on #Spax-Adjustables with #KAW springs and it sits on 16” #BBS -style Dare wheels. He’s also fitted a full stainless steel exhaust system. Inside, he’s carried out a full pearl beige leather interior swap, added a #Nardi steering wheel and an Alpina gear knob plus a new headunit and speakers. Adam has built himself a gorgeous car; it’s an E28 to be proud of.
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- Post is under moderationBAGS OF FUN
Finally E21 cover car number three belongs to Steven Doe and his tidy white wonder on CCWs. Now quite the classic, BMW’s E21 doesn’t need much to draw the eye, and air suspension is a simple way to do so. Words: Iain Curry Photos: Anna Taylor.
Forty years ago #BMW brought us its very first 3 Series. It’s hard to imagine a time when the compact executive car wasn’t in BMW’s lineup, such is the importance of the model to the brand, but it was 1975 that saw the unveiling of the E21 that has over the decades ultimately evolved into the sixth generation F30 of today. Looking at the modern 3 Series and the old E21 it’s hard to believe they could possibly be related: they are a veritable world away in terms of size, design, technology and performance.
This makes the #E21 a genuine classic, and a real rarity to find on our roads. Time can be very cruel to cars and BMWs are no exception, many E21s have been confined to the scrap heap once repairs become uneconomical or rust has worked its way through the body and chassis. There are survivors, of course, but most of these are now hidden away as hopeful appreciating classics only taken out for the odd Sunday drive. Finding any on the modified scene can be tough, but they’re still out there as real old-school fan favourites, and you have to say the E21’s classic good looks with a dash of cuteness can’t be found on any of its 3 Series successors.
Keeping the modified E21 flag flying is Steven Doe of Southampton. His #1983 example was one of the last E21s off the production line before the legendary E30 arrived, and even though you can’t help but notice its air-bagged stance, the body itself retains all of its old-world BMW charm. Impressively, Steven has pretty much left the E21 exterior as BMW intended so as not to sully the classic lines, but has ensured it’s one of the most eye-catching things on the road thanks to the outrageous way it sits. Check out the incredible camber on the rears and it just looks so squat, so clean and so much fun.
Performance isn’t this E21’s strong point, and Steven has made sure the back end still proudly sports the original 316 badge. That means the 1.8-litre M10 carburettor engine with a rather sad 91hp, but this is a modified BMW built for cruising, fun and admiring glances, not the race circuit.
“I’d wanted an E21 for years but it was hard to find one in decent condition,” Steven said. “Most of the 320s out there were more expensive having been restored, and I couldn’t afford to spend the eight-ten grand people were asking for something I wanted to modify anyway.” As hard as his search was, Steven was adamant he wanted the first 3 Series model thanks to its style: “Its shark nose appealed; they have that pointed look about them, and with the chrome as well it’s the era of BMWs I like the most.”
He eventually chanced upon an advert on a classic car website where an E21 was up for sale but with minimal details nor any pictures. “I called the owner up, who was an elderly gentleman, and he said he’d owned the E21 since new, it’d only done 113,000 miles and had been garaged all its life,” Steven said. “I had some time to go and view it and couldn’t believe how clean it was, with all its original glass and paint, and it was the colour I wanted. I’d found the one I’d been looking for.”
Steven shelled out £2500 for the old E21 two-door with its five-speed manual and began the modifying almost immediately. Keen on having the little 316 sitting as perfectly as possible, his first quandary was whether to go the coilover or air-ride route. “I’d fitted air-ride before and have always been a fan of it, plus with coilovers there’s always the likelihood of dragging it over speed bumps and damaging it; not something I wanted to do on this car,” Steven said.
Keen on the ability to drop the car for cruising or shows, but being able to raise it for everyday driving or for tackling those pesky speed bumps, air-ride was the best answer. On a work trip to the States Steven picked up a full AccuAir air suspension kit for a decent price and managed to get the complete kit back to England in his luggage. With his expertise (Steven’s day job is as a composite laminator) and experience in air installs, the kit went on simply enough and the results were excellent. “On full drop it is just great to look at,” he said.
The little shark sits impossibly low at rest, with most kudos for the rear wheels in profile or when seen from behind. The rears angle in to the E21’s stuffed arches for a stunning stance, and the somewhat different style of rim for a modded E21 is also worthy of praise. “I wanted to go with Hartge rims, but they are only really available as 17s or 15s when this car really needed 16s,” Steven said. “And Hartge 16s are impossibly rare.”
He managed to source CCW three-piece custom wheels instead; the D110 multi-spoke model are of a similar style to the Hartges: “I like them because they have the OEM-style protruding centre caps as BMW did. Plus the BBS RS rims on E21s have been done to death, so I wanted something different.” With the exterior left standard, Steven was going to do likewise for the cabin but chanced upon some Ford Fiesta RS front seats that offered to clean up what was a tired original interior. “I could pick these up cheaper – far cheaper than E21 Recaros – so made the interior switch and had a local trimmer make tweed inserts to have it as old school as possible,” he said. “I also had them do tweed for the parcel shelf and new black carpet throughout, while I went for a second-hand Nardi classic steering wheel as a wood one was too obvious.”
A bit of entertainment has been added by modernising the sound system, but the underbonnet has remained practically untouched. “The only engine mod is the exhaust with centre delete to help it sound sportier,” Steven said. “I’m keen on keeping the original engine, but plan to clean up the bay, add twin 45 carbs and a cam, and polish it all up. I want to keep it pretty original and am not interested in an engine swap.” But performance isn’t what this E21 is about. Steven said he likes to use the car as much as possible, regularly taking it on a 70-mile trip to work or cruising it out on evenings for pure driving enjoyment. “It has no power steering, a manual choke and it’s so old it feels like you’re really driving something rather than being driven,” he said. As for the ride on the air suspension, Steven said it’s quite manageable and feels very much like it’s just on coilovers, but with the ability to raise things up to tackle annoying bumps or kerbs. Simplicity itself really. The E21 as a standard car is a bit of a head-turner these days, but with this example’s wonderful air suspension, standout rims and classy period-style interior you have a modified BMW that is timelessly desirable and won’t break the bank to have it looking this good.
DATA FILE #BMW-E21 #M10B18
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 1.8-litre four-cylinder #M10 , full stainless steel exhaust system and centre box delete, standard five-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS: 8.5x16” (front) and 9x16” (rear) three-piece custom CCW D110 wheels with 205/40 (front and rear) Falken ZIEX ZE-912 tyres, fully adjustable Air Lift air struts, #AccuAir management, #Viair 444c compressor.
INTERIOR: Ford Fiesta RS Turbo front seats with custom subframes, full retrim with tweed centres, custom tweed floor mats and parcel shelf, new black carpet throughout, #Nardi classic steering wheel with #MOMO boss, boot-mounted three-gallon seamless tank with 200psi liquid needle gauge and custom hardlines.
AUDIO: #Alpine Bluetooth head unit, Hertz 6x4” front and rear speakers, Vibe 8 Active subwoofer under driver’s seat.
THANKS: Mum and dad, Jonathan Dehate at CCW (Complete Custom Wheels), Joe at Trim Deluxe, Andrew at Open Road Tuning for supplying the air management and struts, Greg (Swoops) for fittings and help with the hardlines, Luke Robinson for welding and fabrication on the air struts, John at Auto Cosmetics Gosport for bodywork, Tim at The Phirm, Solly Snow at The Wheel Specialist, Fareham for tyres and help with test fitting of the wheels, Paul McGrath for the lifts, Chris Phillips for detailing.
Three-piece 16” CCWs are not a common sight and make a change from the usual suspects.
“It has no power steering, a manual choke and it’s so old it feels like you’re really driving something rather than being driven”
Boot install is understated but clean, simple and rather elegant with it.
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- Post is under moderationDOWN UNDER THUNDER
V8 swaps are common in the BMW world but a drift #E30 with a 6.0-litre V8 on carbs? Definitely not your average 3 Series.
Subtle on the outside, serious on the inside, this V8-powered drift E30 is a unique Australian-flavoured slice of German muscle. Words: Seb de Latour. Photos: Brodie Butler.
Australia. Land of the free and the home of the brave. No, wait, that’s America. Well, seeing as my entire knowledge of Australia is based on Neighbours I’m not really much of an authority on all things Antipodean but I know one thing about our cousins in Oz: they love their V8s and they clearly love their BMWs. Oh, that’s two things. Never mind, you get the idea.
Our case today is that of one Joshua Bossong, owner of two very different E30s – the beast you see here and something rather more palatable for those with delicate dispositions, which you can read about in next month’s issue. Actually, an apology might be in order because just as you’re getting over one ridiculous Australian V8-powered #BMW with something poking out of the bonnet, you now have to deal with another one. So, sorry, and stuff.
A cursory glance at the pictures will tell you that this is clearly not a daily driver that Josh uses to pop to his local store to stock up on Tim Tams, he has a Toyota Hilux ute for that purpose. No, this E30 is a full-on drift beast that is equally happy attacking tracks as it is going sideways. But what I really like about his car, honking great V8 aside, is the fact it is a very clean and wellcared- for car rather than a slightly battered drift slag and while it’s certainly not one for the purists, it’s a good looking car for sure.
Josh’s car history is pretty ute-heavy, with no less than three previous examples, but there have also been four E30s, so he is clearly no newcomer to Bavarian metal and E30s are his poison. “I love E30s and I’ve currently got four in my garage: my #1990 #318iS , 1989 #325iS and our #1989 E30 325i Convertible, and this one of course. They are just so much fun to drive and the way they handle is just amazing,” he says when explaining the reasoning behind the build of this car. “I built this E30 for drifting but at the same time I wanted a car I could take to the track and do grip days in as well.” And while the engine dominates the car, there’s been a lot of work elsewhere to make sure that this E30 is much more than just a onetrick, sideways pony.
But before we can get onto any of that we have to take a good, long look at the engine swap. What I find interesting is that, despite appearances, the engine here is actually a recent one. It’s an L98, an evolution of the L76 (which itself was Holden’s version of the 6.0-litre GM fourth-generation small-block V8), and was derived from the LS2, which was introduced in 2005. So, a nice modern engine yet we’ve got a carb on top of it, so what gives?
“I purchased the #Holden L98 6.0-litre from a mate who had removed the fuel injection system and fitted the motor with an Edelbrock Victor JNR carburettor manifold and a Demond 850 carb,” Josh explained. “As the car was going to be built for drifting I didn’t know if this was the right way to go or not but after doing some research and speaking to some friends and shops I decided to keep the carb system and not return to the fuel injection system as I had been told the engine may make more power like this.” Not that the L98 is short on power, you understand, making as it does 367hp out-of-the-box, but the example in Josh’s E30 dyno’d at 335hp at the wheels, which works out as a slight increase over stock power and was plenty to be getting on with in an E30, that’s for sure.
Custom two-inch exhaust manifolds feed into a stainless steel system with a Magnaflow Tru X silencer to ensures that this car makes all the right noises and with plenty of volume.
Unsurprisingly, Josh ran into a few problems attempting to get everything to fit into the E30: “As the six-speed manual is so big and the E30 BMW transmission tunnel is so small, we decided to cut the whole factory fitted tunnel out and make our own so we could get the motor as far back to the firewall as possible. We also ran into problems with the starter motor being so close to the steering column, so we got in touch with Castlemaine Rod Shop and bought one of its left-hand side starter motor conversion kits.” Job done. So, there’s a massive V8 up front but that alone wasn’t enough to turn this E30 into a drift machine that would also be at home on track; it’s been treated to more than a couple of supporting mods beneath the surface, too. The drivetrain has been bolstered with an uprated Excedy clutch and Excedy flywheel. There’s a custom driveshaft, tailshaft and axle halfshafts along with a Kazz two-way LSD with a 3.9:1 final drive. Surprisingly, the brakes have been left virtually standard throughout, bar the addition of some drilled and grooved discs up front and Duratec pads all-round, but the suspension has received a thorough reworking. BC Racing coilovers have been fitted front and rear, with Josh opting for a pretty serious 60mm drop and uprated Whiteline anti-roll bars have also been fitted. On the wheel front Josh has opted for a set of XXR 002s, which measure 8x15” all-round and are wrapped in Federal 595 Evo tyres up front and Achilles ATR Sport rubber at the rear.
The exterior is completely stock, except for the hole in the bonnet that was required to fit the air filter, and Turquoise metallic that the car has been finished in is really gorgeous, with a wonderful blueygreen shimmer. Inside, though, there’s barely a hint of the original left. Virtually everything has been stripped out in the pursuit of weight saving. Up front, there’s a pair of Bride seats with green Takata harnesses along with a stylish Nardi steering wheel. A custom instrument pod straddles the steering column with a large central rev counter and additional gauges for fuel level, water temperature, voltage and oil pressure. You get a good view of that custom transmission tunnel as well, while the doorcards have been replaced with bare metal panels. The rear is taken up by the JDI fabrication six-point weld-in roll-cage while the boot is full of 60-litre fuel cell.
Josh has built a seriously impressive drift machine and it’s most definitely been worth all the hard work and effort. “I would have to say the trickiest part of the build was the transmission tunnel but with the help of my good mate Matty from Proworkz Fabrication it was very much sorted,” he explains. “The most rewarding bit of the whole process was completing the car and being able to compete with it. I love the aggressive look of the car, with the air cleaner sitting high out of the bonnet, and that V8 sound. I also love the reaction people have to the car. It puts a huge smile on my face every time I get behind the wheel of this beast!” Future plans include a Wisfab steering lock kit, some bigger wheels and uprated brakes, which should make it an even more formidable proposition. “I’m not sure how much I’ve spent on the car,” muses Josh in closing, “but it would have definitely been enough for a good house deposit… but life is too short not to enjoy it!” Amen to that.
ENGINE: #Holden-L98 6.0-litre V8, Edelbrock Victor JNR carb, #K&N air filter, MSD ignition 6LS, custom 2” exhaust manifolds, Magnaflow Tru X silencer, 335whp @ 5344rpm.
TRANSMISSION: T56 six-speed manual, custom transmission tunnel, Excedy flywheel, Excedy clutch, custom 4340CV axle halfshafts, custombuilt 2.5” tailshaft, Kazz two-way LSD with 3.9:1 final drive.
CHASSIS: 8x15” (front and rear) XXR 002 wheels with 195/50 Federal 595 Evo tyres (front) and 195/55 Achilles ATR Sport tyres (rear). BC Racing coilovers, Whiteline anti-roll bars, drilled and grooved discs (front), Duratec pads (front and rear).
EXTERIOR: Repainted Turquoise metallic.
INTERIOR: Bride seats, Takata harnesses, #Nardi steering wheel, Holden gear knob, Autometer Pro Com Ultralite gauges, JDI Fabrication six-point weld-in roll-cage, 60-litre fuel cell, Perma fuel filter.
THANKS: Matty from Proworkz Fabrication, Jake from JDI Fabrication, Heath from HG AutoBody, Danko from Addicted Performance, Glen Poulton for doing all the wiring on the hole car, Pure Performance Motorsport, GJ Drivelines, Jack McNamara Differential, Race Radiators, Exhaust Fix, Speedpro Distributors, Avon Tyre Service, Eagle Auto Parts, Road Runner Towing, and a big huge thank you to my mum and dad and family for all their help and support over the years; without all these people this car would not have been done, so thank you.
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