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Building a drift car requires a certain degree of barely contained madness, and this 520hp turbo E30 is exactly the sort of crazy that floats our boat. What was your first car like? Was it anywhere near as hardcore as this E30? Daniel Lavman’s drift-focused build is a lesson to us all… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Hjalmar van Hoek.
If there’s one piece of advice from Red Dwarf’s neurotic android Kryten that we need to hold close to our hearts for all of our days, it’s this: ‘If you don’t #GOSUB a program loop, you’ll never get a subroutine’. Or, in more Lister-friendly parlance: ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’. It’s an obvious point but nevertheless one that stands to be remembered. You only live once and there’s no point spending your life thinking about what could have been. Why go off half-cocked? You’ll only regret it on your deathbed. ‘Why did I spend my thirties driving a diesel Vectra and trying to maximise my mpg instead of building a badass drift car?’ you may wonder.
That, of course, is not going to be a concern for Daniel Lavman. He, as you’ve probably guessed, is the chap who nailed together this particular badass drift car and it doesn’t really need pointing out that he’s pretty happy with it. I mean, wouldn’t you be?
The most eyebrow-raising element of this project (or, at least, the first eyebrow-raising element, for as you’re soon to discover there are a great many) is that this is Daniel’s first car. I know, let that sink in, give it some thought. I’ll just stew for a moment in the fact that my first car was a rusty 1.0-litre Nova, and we’ll regroup shortly when we’ve reassessed a few basic issues of perspective and lifestyle. Better? Okay, let’s find out what the deal is…
“Yep, this was my first ever car,” Daniel confirms. Well, that’s cleared that up. “I’ve had a few other cars over the years but no full race builds of this scale.” The implication here is that there’s a certain sentimental attachment to this project, which will probably make a lot of sense to more than a few of you. How many can say that your current car is your first car? Probably not a huge number. But you’ll never forget your first car; it means freedom and enlightenment. It’s also a means to an end, probably bought cheaply and scrapped when it broke. I know my Nova was.
(Although, to be fair, scrapping it was the kindest thing. The fewer cars in the world with 45hp engines the better.) But Daniel’s fledgling steps into E30 ownership evidently made quite an impression, as he just didn’t want to let the damn thing go.
“I’ve always liked the E30 as a model,” he says. “I think it’s because of the size, you can build it into anything. It doesn’t get much cooler than a sick E30.” This is a view that we know is shared by a lot of readers given that our voting for the 2015 PBMW Car of the Year ultimately saw three different E30s vying for the title. The retro Eighties three-box is at its zenith right now, still being relatively affordable and representing a strong ‘my dad/neighbour/BTCC hero had one of those’ vibe.
“I don’t even remember what the car was like when I got hold of it, it was that bad,” Daniel laughs. “But I know that it was in really, really bad shape; the grinder loved it! Just a few weeks after I bought it I’d totally stripped it down and welded in a roll-cage, changed the roof from steel to fibreglass, and swapped the M20B20 engine to an M50B25.” This last move was an act that planted a flag in the ground as a statement of intent, proving that Daniel wasn’t messing around. The M20 offered a sturdy but sober 120-something horsepower whereas its M50 successor knocked things up a notch with such treats as DOHC, coil-on-plug ignition, four valves per cylinder and a whole world of tuning opportunities. And with such mischief in mind the motor was never destined to remain stock; the idea behind slamming in a stronger motor was to sprinkle in a pocketful of stardust and see just how stellar the thing could be. We’re talking about a billet Precision 6262 turbo, a cooling system so clever it’s got a doctorate in engineering (er, possibly), and a Pinky and the Brain-style ECU calling the shots with a frightening demeanour hellbent on world domination. The upshot of Daniel’s relentless rebuilding and refining both inside and outside the engine? A mighty 518hp at 1.3bar of boost, bolstered by 502lb ft of torque. That really is quite a lot of torque, isn’t it?
But this car hasn’t been built for pulling tree stumps from the ground. Take a look at the pictures, you’ll soon figure out the purpose of this thing: it’s a bona fide, dyedin- the-wool drift machine, taking no prisoners but plenty of names. The selfstyled ‘Dirty E30’ spends so much time going sideways it should have wipers fitted to the doors, and the strong spec list enables this smoky prowess to be done in fine style. Consider, as a starting point, the squareon view of the tail-end. Between the smoked tail-lights, where you’d generally expect to find a numberplate, you’ll see a seductively canted radiator setup with twin fans blowing a farewell salute to whoever happens to be behind – which, realistically, is basically everyone. The bodywork has been unceremoniously sliced away beneath the bumper, while the top half sports a spoiler like a skate ramp and a neatly drilled sheet of plastic to titillate the rear-view mirror. And that’s just one aspect of the aesthetic!
Take a peep through the side window and you’ll spot a natty gear shifter with two elbows (don’t you wish you had two elbows on each side? The things you could do…), a whacking great hydraulic handbrake, an ohso- contemporary tablet to monitor the EMU ECU readouts, forthright fluid reservoirs, and an overall aura of Mad Max-meets-Ken Block. It’s a little frightening, frankly. “Back at the start, my plan was just to build a nice and fast street car,” Daniel recalls with no small amount of nostalgic amusement, “but that escalated quite fast and I changed my plans! I started to build it into a pure drift car for track use. One thing that I think is common for all car builds is that you always want to step things up, to upgrade the build, even when it seems like it’s finished. So after a few events in 2013 I decided to take the car to the next level, with a total rebuild centring around a new roll-cage from Divina Performance.”
Daniel was absorbing all manner of treats from the drift scene and the E30 chassis found itself wearing drift-tuned D2 coilovers and a fairly astonishing lock kit, along with some stupefyingly large brakes to rein in the lunacy. After all, let’s not forget we’re talking about 518hp. That’s a lot!
Remember those eyebrow-raising elements we were talking about? Yeah, we said they were plentiful. Daniel has been keen not just to build a devastatingly competitive skidder but to craft something that rewards onlookers with every glance, each fresh vista offering something new and exciting. There’s the fuel filler in the rear window, the towing-eye on the strut top (something that’s becoming a real darling of the scene these days), the way the vast turbo’s pipework snakes over the angled M50 head, the pins holding the bumpers on, the exhaust exiting through the front wing, the Aeroquip fittings… ah, hell, this list could go on all day. The point is that this E30 is a triumph of both function and form, and that’s by no means an easy thing to achieve. It goes like Thor himself has jammed a lightning bolt up its backside. It slips sideways with the ease and precision of a good ol’ boy line dancer. And it looks so animalistic it makes small children lose sleep. Now, some of you may be looking at this car and thinking ‘I’d have done such-and-such differently’ or ‘those aren’t the wheels I’d have chosen,’ but you have to remember that this is an evolving thing. It’s alive. Daniel is endlessly shaking up the formula, those ones and zeroes of its very binary code being reshuffled on a week-by-week basis.
“Shortly after this photoshoot, something happened…” he reveals. “It must have been those beers in the workshop that did it, and then the grinder came out – and soon enough the car started morphing into E30 version 3.0! Even more extreme, I started working on removable wide-body wings and bash bars, an E34 M5 rear axle and, of course, more boost. I’m building a new engine for next season, too: a fully forged M50B28 which should have 750hp+. Watch this space!” You can follow his progress on Facebook, at facebook.com/DrtyE30.
So you see this constant evolution is shaping the 3 Series into something formidable and always surprising and fresh. Daniel’s taken it out to a few Gatebil events to wow the crowds, along with a variety of local meets and drift events, and he feels so totally keyed into the car that he’ll indulge in a lot more drifting through 2016. It’s getting a lot of good reactions, too. And although a build like this polarises people – like a certain sticky breakfast spread, you either love it or hate it – if you’re anything like us, you’ll be in the former camp, your face resembling that particular Emoji that has hearts for eyes. This is binary love. And the drift-specific focus of this E30? It’s a hell of a subroutine.
Custom widened arches front and rear look the part and help to accommodate nine-inch 16s.
It must have been those beers in the workshop that did it, and then the grinder came out Daniel Lavman.
The ‘Dirty E30’ spends so much time going sideways it should have wipers fitted to the doors Daniel Bevis
TECHNICAL DATA FILE Turbo Drift #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-M50 / #BMW-E30-Turbo /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six M50B25 / M50 / #BMW-M50 (non-VANOS), #EMU #ECUMaster tuned by #PSI-Motor , #Precision-6262 billet turbo / #Precision , custom exhaust manifold and system, rearmounted cooling system, Z3 rear axle with 4.10 diff, #ZF five-speed gearbox, rebuilt M20 flywheel with #Sachs 618 pressure plate and sintered clutch, 518hp and 502lb ft at 1.3bar
CHASSIS 9x16” (f & r) #OZ-Vega wheels with 215/40 (front) and 225/40 (rear) tyres, D2 Drift Spec coilovers, #T-Parts steering lock kit, #Brembo four-pots with 315mm discs (front) and two-pots with 270mm discs (rear) #OZ
EXTERIOR Fully shaved and smoothed, rear doors welded up, custom wide arches front and rear, removable bash bar, custom aluminium rear spoiler, fibreglass roof
INTERIOR #Custom-Divina-Performance TIG-welded cage, #Driftworks Cobra FIA fibreglass seats, #QSP six-point FIA harnesses, custom aluminium details, #Tilton-600 Series pedal assembly, custom shifter mechanism and handbrake, Samsung tablet for EMU ECUMaster readouts
THANKS All of my friends who have been involved in the build! Also PSI Motor, Idefix Autoworkshop, #Divina-Performance , #TBM-Performance , Thagesson Motorsport, DDESIGN.NU, Flatoutperformance.se, T-Parts, Oljemagasinet.se, Brothers Garage, Spacers.se, and Svensk Turboservice AB
Interior suitably stripped-out, with multiple gauges and a Samsung tablet displaying essential information.
Multiple cooling hoses are fed by NACA ducts in the rear quarterlights in order to supply boot-mounted rad with air.
Engine bay, and pretty much whole front end, dominated by massive 6262 turbo; vast intercooler occupies entire front area so rad (bottom right) now lives in the boot.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.