- Post is under moderationMK1 TT
1.8T with 353bhp
WIDE BOY With big arches and 10.5x18in alloys, this 352hp TT has some serious road presence…
The original TT still ranks as one of the most significant Audis ever made. When this curvaceous, bold design was unveiled back in the late 90s, it made a huge impact. Here was a production car that looked very much like the original concept, and it was available to buy. Not only did it look fantastic, its performance credentials were strong, too.
The venerable 1.8 20v turbo found in the S3 8L saw some upgrades, which took it to 225PS (221bhp). This gave the cool coupe lively performance, matched to a slick 6-speed manual box. With quattro drive, it hooked up the power and was quick off the mark, as well as surefooted when the going got slippery.
With heated leather seats, a very cool looking dash and xenon lights it was a very nice thing to own. Back in 1999, a new TT would have set you back almost £30k. Today, you can pick one up for under £2,000, making them a bit of a bargain.
Laszlo, the owner of the TT pictured saw the potential with a TT immediately.
Having owned a big old Mercedes, he wanted something, small and sporty that was also fun to drive. A TT made sense – it was the right money and offered lots of tuning potential. “I wanted to switch from the yacht like feel of the Benz, to a stiffer, lighter sports coupe,” he says.
Things began slowly with a simple air filter upgrade and ECU remap. But having seen lots of big power Audis around, it wasn’t long before the silver TT was sent to respected local tuning firm, Turbotuning.
Here, the 1.8T was stripped down and rebuilt with fully forged internals including Mahle pistons and race spec bearings. The plan was to make the car as reliable as possible, so boost was held back to a relatively modest 1.5bar. Even so, with a Garrett GT2871 turbo, plus supporting upgrades, the TT made a very handy 352hp and 531Nm. Although we hear about plenty of 400+bhp models with large turbos, I have to say around the 350bhp mark seems to offer a great balance of performance and drivability for the road. I’ve been out in lots of TTs with this sort of power and they’re great fun. Plus, there’s less stress on the relatively small capacity 1.8-litre engine – something to take into account unless you liken spending time getting things fixed all the time.
But there’s more to this TT than a decent bit of poke under the bonnet.
Up front, Laszlo has fitted a set of six-pots from a Porsche 996. These big brakes required adapting to fit, but do an admirable job of stopping the little TT. With four pots at the rear and Ferodo DS pads, this thing scrubs off speed with aplomb.
One area that any TT will benefit from upgrades is the chassis. In stock trim they’re quite soft feeling and set up for a neutral handling – as you’d expect. But with some tweaks, you can transform them. With a full complement of Powerflex bushes, the chassis and steering components now feel reassuringly tight, which translates into a much more positive feel to the steering and general handling. Bushes may not be the sexiest of upgrades, but they really do make a huge difference – especially on an older car, where the stock items are likely to be worn. With uprated anti-roll bars, the chassis is well set for hard use.
One thing you can’t miss is the rather wide wheels. The 18in Japan Racing alloys are a huge 10.5 wide, which is why a set of, what the Americans like to call “overfenders” have been fitted. Some will love them others not so much, but you can’t deny they give this little TT serious road presence.
A V6 TT front bumper has also been fitted together with the rear bumper insert, which looks much fresher. There’s also a V6 rear wing.
Inside, Laszlo has really gone to town. The bucket seats have been trimmed in leather with yellow stitching with cheeky R8 logos. The R8 theme continues with the steering wheel and gearknob, complete with open gate.
So there we have it. A Mk1 TT with an aggressive, OEM+ look, that’s also packing a nice punch thanks to the engine tuning – with the potential for a lot more should he wish to increase the boost and maybe fit a larger turbo.
Top: Rear seats have been removed Below: 1.8T is forged and runs a GT2871.
SPECIFICATION #Audi-TT-225 / #Audi-TT-8N / #Audi-TT / #Audi / #Audi-TT-Quattro / #Audi-TT-Quattro-8N / #Audi / #Quattro / #Garrett / #Garrett-GT2871 /
Engine 1.8 20v turbo, Turbotuning shop rebuilt with #Eagle rods, #Mahle pistons, stronger bearings, low compression with rebuilt head, #Rothe turbo manifold, GT2871 Garrett turbocharger, 76mm exhaust system, custom exhaust with 90mm tips, custom intake, #Ramair filter, #HG-Motorsport intercooler 12-row #Motec oil cooler, F#orge BOV and boost controller, 630cc injectors, Walbro fuel pump
Transmission 6-speed manual, stronger clutch with Kevlar disc, #Torsen rear diff
Power 352hp and 531Nm at 1.5bar
Brakes Porsche 996 fronts with 6-piston calipers, 4 piston rears, Ferodo DS pads and braided lines
Suspension Custom rear control arms (GL), #Powerflex bushings all around, GL front strut bearing without damping, custom ARBs, #Eibach spacers, wheel bearings converted to studs, #Sachs dampers, custom air-ride setup with Viair compressor and #Airlift-Autopilot - #Air-Lift-V2 (tuned by #Fakukac )
Wheels 10.5x18in #Japan-Racing-JR-11 wheels with 255/35 tyres
Exterior V6 TT front bumper and rear insert, SEAT Cupra front lip, V6 TT rear wing, #EPMAN Racing bumper mount, Porsche green mirror housings, custom arch flares made up from Nissan SX kit
Interior Bimarco bucket seats with Porsche-style leather upholstery and stitching, custom rear seat delete and crossbar, R8 steering wheel and gear knob, custom open gate, Osir gauge holder, Defi Stepmaster gauges, Porsche green details
Left: Porsche 6-pots Below: R8 open gate gear lever.
Right: R8 themed interior Below: R8 wheel and gearknob.
“The TT made a very handy 352bhp and 531Nm”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationMASTERCHEF
Simple on the outside, exciting on the inside, this sexy Aegean blue E30 has been treated to a 3.2 S50-swap.
SLICK S50 E30
Awesome 3.2-litre two-door. With some seriously tasty mods and an S50 under its carbon bonnet, owner Nicholas Arnold has rustled up one cooking E30. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Woods.
Could the E30 be the most engine-swapped #BMW of all time? Judging by the number of feature cars we run that have been fitted with something other than their standard engine, it’s got to be up there. While V8s are a great and popular choice, sometimes you’re just not in the mood and fancy something more traditional where the 3 Series is concerned, like a howling, high-output straight-six, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here.
Chef Nicholas Arnold is its custodian and the man behind the swap. He’s no stranger to modified cars and BMWs, having worked his way up from a Vauxhall Nova 1.2 through to a selection of Hondas, including an EG Civic that he performed a full DC2 conversion on, and on to a number of BMWs, starting with an E34 525i (as it was cheap and RWD), and including a previous E30, which met an untimely end… “I wrote it off on black ice and I just felt I had to own another one. I found this car on eBay, located in Scotland – it was in good condition and had just had a respray,” says Nicholas. There was also the small matter of it already being endowed with an M52 under the bonnet. “It had a straight-through exhaust, was on cheap Jom coilovers and had an open diff. I changed the inlet manifold and ECU before making bigger plans,” he says – those plans being the swapping in of a more potent powerplant.
“I put a S50B32 in it as the M52 wasn’t fast enough,” explains Nicholas. “I bought new AKG engine mounts, custom wiring loom, aluminium triple core radiator, Ramair air filter, got a custom-built manifold, ACL race bearings, ARP con rod bolts, M3 3.0-litre oil pump with an E34 baffle sump and a Simons race silencer with a full stainless steel system. It took me six months to put together all the parts for the build and a week’s-worth of work to put it all together. The only problems I had was the servo had to be moved across by 45mm and I had to have a brake linkage bar made up.”
They say that the waiting is the hardest part and we have no doubt that was definitely the case here as six months to go from capable M52 to 321hp of ferocious #S50B32 goodness must have felt like an age. Let’s not beat about the bush here – the E36 M3 Evo is not a slow car, so just having that rev-hungry lump in the lightweight surroundings of an E30 would result in an absolute rocket ship. But that’s not all, the transmission has also been beefed-up to suit and there’s a five-speed Getrag ’box mated to an E34 M5 Sachs clutch with a 4.5kg billet steel flywheel, E36 propshaft and an E36 2.8 LSD in an E30 medium diff case.
With some serious power on tap, Nicholas turned his attention to the chassis as it needed some upgrades to be able to cope with the massive increase in engine. “I went for a set of BC Racing coilovers as they’re mid-range and suitable for road and track, Purple Series polybushes with E30 M3 lollipop bushes, again suitable for both roadand track-use, fitted all-new drop links, H&R uprated anti-roll bars, Ultra Racing strut braces to stiffen the chassis and I also had the subframes powdercoated and the rear subframe reinforced due to the increase in power.” The car no doubt drives spectacularly and sits beautifully low. It just looks right, especially on its black 16” Rota Grid Vs, which tie in perfectly with the numerous black details across the bodywork, and make a change from the usual suspects when it comes to E30 wheel choice, as Nicholas explains: “I have the Rota Grid Vs as I like to be different. I also like the Jap, aggressive look rather than following the crowd and having Borbets or #BBS reps.” The wheels are wrapped in Toyo Proxes tyres and sit on a stud conversion, while Ferodo DS2500 pads and EBC discs sit behind the spokes.
In terms of looks, the E30 really doesn’t need much help – subtle is often best to enhance the styling and that’s definitely been the approach here. The Aegean blue paintwork looks stunning, rich and deep, and the unpainted carbon bonnet is no less gorgeous. Other exterior additions include an eyebrow, crosshair headlights and all-red tinted rear lights. The interior, on the other hand, has received a bit more attention, as Nicholas tells us. “The car started off with a plain standard non-Sport interior but I’ve always had Sport seats in my previous E30s and knew how comfy they were so wanted another set in this car.”
He spent months searching for a pair of Sport seats but, having drawn a blank, he changed tactic and bought a pair of OMP buckets instead. Of course, no sooner had he installed them in the E30 than a pair of chequered Sport seats appeared at a good price, so he snapped them up and got rid of the buckets. And, as luck would have it, a few weeks later a rear bench, complete with headrests, and in the same pattern, popped up so Nicholas jumped on it, so to speak, and in a very short space of time had put together a rather lovely Sport interior.
In addition to that he’s fitted a suederimmed #OMP steering wheel with snap-off boss, AC #Schnitzer short-shift gear knob plus a rear blind-equipped parcel shelf. It’s smart, clean, period and suits the rest of the car, with a few subtle hints to suggest that there’s more going on here than meets the eye. We are well and truly in love with Nicholas’ E30, he’s really built himself an amazing machine. From the outside it looks so right – the colour is stunning, the carbon bonnet is spectacular and it really delivers the perfect blend of subtlety and aggression, with no single element feeling over the top or out of place, and that too can be said about the engine. It sits in the bay perfectly, looking so at home, and it’s turned this E30 into an absolute weapon.
“The huge engine is my favourite mod on the E30,” smiles Nicholas, “because the car is very inconspicuous looking.” He’s going to keep it looking that way, too, when he carries on with the mods this year: “I plan to add some fatter tyres and beef up the brakes as I’m only currently running 2.5 brakes allaround with DS2500 pads and EBC discs which fade after a couple of minutes of hard driving, and supercharge it,” he says, which is really going to turn the heat up on this E30 and take it to the next level.
Gorgeous Aegean blue on the outside, sexy Sport seats on the inside.
The S50 fits perfectly in the E30 engine bay and took owner Nicholas a week of work to get it fitted and running.
The engine is my favourite modification on the E30 because the car is inconspicuous looking Nicholas Arnold.
DATA FILE #BMW-E30-S50 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #Rota-Grid
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S50B32 / #S50 / #BMW-S50 from E36 M3 Evo, #ACL race bearings, #ARP con rod bolts, #Ramair filter, Millers Nano Drive oil, custom manifold and steering linkage, Simons race silencer and full stainless system with single dolphin tip, custom plug and play wiring loom, #AKG engine mounts, M3 3.0-litre oil pump, E34 sump, sump baffle.
TRANSMISSION Five-speed #Getrag gearbox, #Racing-Dynamics short shift kit, E34 M5 Sachs clutch with 4.5kg billet steel flywheel, E36 prop, E36 2.8 LSD in E30 medium diff case.
CHASSIS 8x16” (front and rear) black #Rota-Grid-V wheels with 195/40 (front and rear) Toyo Proxes T1-R tyres, stud conversion, fully polybushed except Z3 diff bush, #H&R anti-roll bars, #BC-Racing coilovers, #Ultra-Racing strut braces, M3 eccentric lollipop bushes, reinforced rear subframe, E30 91mm brakes and hubs, #Ferodo-DS2500 pads, #EBC discs.
EXTERIOR Respray in Aegean blue, Lite Tuned carbon fibre bonnet, crosshair headlights, eyebrows, red tinted rear lights.
INTERIOR Chequered Sport cloth interior, OMP steering wheel with snap off boss, #AC-Schnitzer short-shift gear knob, rear blind parcel shelf.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationUR-QUATTRO Stunning, 380bhp #Quattro
This immaculate, 330bhp Ur-quattro has been owned by the same man for 23 years, and to think he almost sold it for an Evo 6… Words Davy Lewis. Photography AJ Walker.
Sometimes you just find yourself in the right place at the right time. Whether it’s because the planets have aligned, or that lady luck is smiling down on you when the golden opportunity arises, the trick is to spot it and then grab it – fast. Nowhere is this more relevant than when it comes to buying a car.
We’ve all seen the ‘perfect’ car appear in the classifieds. It might be that rare colour you’ve always wanted. It could be the exact list of options that excites you. It could be the price. But for many of us, it’s nothing more than a dream, as nine times out of ten, these things pop up when we can’t take advantage. You’ll always think back to the one that got away, the what-might-have-been. However, a lucky few are able to get their perfect car; and what’s more, hang onto it.
John Edgar is no stranger to performance Audis and VWs. His garage boasts an enviable collection that includes an original and mint, Mk2 Golf GTi 16v, a supercharged Golf R32, a 460bhp B5 RS4 and the jewel of the collection, this stunning 20v quattro – a car he’s managed to love and cherish for over 23 years.
“It started back in the 80s, when I was driving an Escort XR3i and I saw this car coming the other way towards me,” says John. “I thought to myself, one day, I’d like to get one of those.” It was of course a Ur-quattro, and, he began looking into getting one. He spotted a 10v for sale in his local paper and realised it was in his old hometown. “I arranged to view it and ended up buying it,” he recalls. “It became my daily for the next two years.” John fell in love with the boxy arches, that glorious five-cylinder grumble, and the way the quattro drive hooked up to the road. But when the 20v was announced, he was intrigued.
“In 1990/91 I read about the new 20v quattro. It was getting great reviews in the press – even Jeremy Clarkson voted it car of the year,” comments John. So in 1992 he started looking for a 20v to buy. In those days there was no AutoTrader or indeed Internet, so the Sunday Times motoring supplement was where he spotted a quattro for sale. “The guy selling it was a haulage contractor and also had a Mercedes 190 Cosworth and Supra for sale, as well as the quattro – I think his business was in trouble,” says John. “It was 400 miles away from me, but it got the all clear from an AA inspection and I bought it a week later.”
So how did the 20v compare to his previous 10v? “There was a big difference in performance,” enthuses John. “Especially when I had it chipped to 271bhp and 300lb/ft.” The quattro really got under his skin and was put to good use with some spirited drives in the Scottish highlands. But remember, at this stage, it was still fairly new, and John, like many of us, likes to change his cars regularly. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the Ur-quattro had not yet reached the semi-legendary status we know today.
It was at this point that John had, what may be termed, a ‘moment of madness’. “I fancied a Mitsubishi Evo 6,” he says with a chuckle. If you think back to 1999 when the Japanese rally-rep was launched, it’s easy to see why he may have been tempted towards the dark side. With Tommi Makinen winning everything in the WRC version, the road car had masses of publicity. I’ve driven several and they are good fun – no doubt about it. However, 17 years later, there’s no doubt which car has stood the test of time. Fortunately for John, he made the right choice.
“While I was thinking of getting an Evo, I took a work mate out in the quattro, and he said to me, ‘Why are you thinking of selling this? It’s amazing!’” With a reality check fully in place, John decided to steer clear of the Mitsi and stick with his quattro. You need only look at the regard with which these cars are now held (and indeed their value) to see that he made the right decision!
Now he’d decided to keep the quattro, John wanted to give it a refresh. Having heard good things about Dialynx Performance, he took the car to the Swindon-based #Audi specialists, where it was treated to some goodies. A KKK 26 hybrid turbo was bolted on to the 2.2 five-pot, together with a bunch of RS2-spec upgrades including injectors, intercooler and exhaust manifold. With a 2.5 bar map sensor, Ramair filter and Dialynx de-cat pipe, the quattro made a very healthy 330bhp and 380lb/ft or torque – good by today’s standards, let alone at the turn of the Millennium.
“My RS4 is running 460bhp, but when I take my missus out in the quattro she says it feels faster,” laughs John. This may be due to the way the power is delivered, the less refined nature of the older (and indeed lighter car) or, just down to that Ur magic that newer cars cannot recreate. Mind you, which of us wouldn’t love to have the choice of a stunning quattro or B5 RS4 every day…?
In fact, the B5 was another fast Audi that John had spotted years before and made a resolution that one day he’d have. “We went on a tour to the Audi factory in Germany, and at the time, the RS4 hadn’t been launched. We saw a few lined up outside – I knew I’d have one – one day.”
Cars like these are keepers. There are so few left, and fewer still in this amazing original condition that to sell it would be a crime.
As John says, “It would have to be a ridiculous offer for me to even consider selling it.”
John has been fastidious in maintaining this car and has tried hard to keep it as OEM-looking as possible. In fact, the only slight giveaways are the AP racing calipers and 300mm discs peeping out from behind the original 15in wheels (now wrapped in 225/50 Toyo rubber). With Goodridge lines and 5.1 fluid, this quattro now stops better than the original car ever could.
The suspension has also been given a modern day refresh. A set of Koni adjustable dampers are joined by H&R springs, which offer a more sporty, yet compliant ride. There’s less pitch and roll, but the car retains its original character.
These days the Ur is mainly used for shows, plus the odd special cross country drive that only those fortunate enough to live close to the quiet highland roads of Scotland can take advantage of. “I’m only 30 miles from Glasgow, then over the Erskine Bridge and the roads are empty,” says John.
John tells me a story that sums up why these things are so special. “I was driving down to the VAG Tuner Expo and stopped at Scotch Corner services. A young lad of about ten shouted to his dad, ‘come and see this old square Audi.’ His dad, who’d just got out of his new Audi, just looked over and gave me a knowing smile.” There are few cars that can span a generation and fewer still that almost everyone has a soft spot for. There’ll never be another car like it – God bless the quattro!
SPECIFICATION #Audi-Ur-quattro / #Audi-Ur-quattro / #Audi-Quattro / #KKK / #Audi /
Engine 2.2 20v turbo, #KKK-23-turbo , RS2 exhaust manifold, RS2 intercooler, RS2 injectors, 2.5bar map sensor, #RamAir air filter, #Dialynx de-cat pipe.
Power 330bhp and 380lb/ft
Transmission 5-speed manual
Brakes #AP-Racing calipers with 300mm drilled and grooved discs and APF 404 pads, Goodridge braided lines, Dot 5.1 fluid.
Suspension #Koni adjustable dampers with #H&R springs
Wheels and Tyres OEM 15in alloys with Toyo 225/50 tyres
Interior OEM quattro
Exterior OEM quattro in white
Tuning contacts/thanks Keith at Dialynx Performance www.dialynx.co.uk Cummings
Automotive, Glasgow for looking after the maintenance and my wife Bernadette for putting up with my obsession!
Top: One of the most iconic rear ends around.
Far left: Looks stunning in white Left: 20v lump has been tuned to 330bhp Bottom left to right: Interior is immaculate, includes digital dash.
Top: Looks even better from the side Left: AP Racing brakes make a big difference Above: All about the Quattro.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationRECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Everyone loves an E28 and this unassuming 525e has been transformed by an S38B36 swap.
Take one #BMW-525e-E28 . Garnish with an obscure colour. Stir in a vast engine. Sprinkle over a few unique touches, and infuse with a piquant fusion of childhood dreams and heartfelt tributes. That’s the recipe for a delicious E28… Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: Andy Tipping
There’s a perennial and enduring problem with motorists in the world today: misplaced ‘M’ badges. Every day we see BMWs with erroneous badging glued to their rumps in a haphazard and higgledypiggledy manner, fooling no-one and diluting the specialness of true M-ness for everybody else. Bone-stock 520i saloons with M5 emblems, M-badged E46s with 320d motifs still in place, chunky SUVs wonkily rebranded ‘MX5’, despite that being the name of a rather different kind of car. It seems that everyone wants to tap into that hallowed motorsport heritage, regardless of such frivolous fripperies as honesty, logic, or appropriateness.
Sometimes, however… sometimes it’s acceptable. Bear with us on this, it’ll all make sense. You see, the E28 you’re looking at here is, in fundamental DNA at least, a #BMW-525e . And yet it’s wearing the fabled M badge, and we’re perfectly okay with that. How can this be? Fear not, all will become clear…
But let’s start with the who rather than the how, shall we? Jim Mountain is the name to note down, and he’s a man who’s been perving over Beemers since you were in short trousers. “I’ve been into BMWs as long as I can remember,” he reminisces with a smidge of whimsy. “I did an apprenticeship in the bodyshop of the local main dealer and stayed there for ten years or so before moving into the family business. As a kid I remember pictures of M1 Procars in my uncle’s MotorSport magazines, and a photo of an airborne 3.0 CSL at the Nürburgring – I was hooked from then, and knew I had to have an E30 as soon as I could insure one!”
Sure enough, after rolling the dice with fate in a protracted bout of ‘the waiting game’, Jim found himself with the keys to an E30 318i two-door in his hand, a car he wasted no time lowering over some oh-soperiod MiM rims. The scene was set, the passion was firing on all cylinders, and it was only a matter of time before more blueand- white propellers followed: an #1986 325i introduced his right foot to the torquey swells of the straight-six, quickly usurped by an engine-failure 318i that Jim and his mates hoiked the motor out of before spraying Dakar yellow and slathering in Recaros and 17” Hockenheims, before moving on to another 325i and a bona fide E30 M3 Evo 1 on BBS RSs and Konis. It’s fairly safe to say, then, that he’s a man who knows what he likes. And what he likes is modifying BMWs. We’re in good company.
“I also had an #BMW-E28 520i, largely thanks to Mike Burroughs,” Jim recalls. Funny how the name of the ubiquitous Stanceworks founder crops up so often in our E28 features, isn’t it? The dude has a lot to answer for. “It was rough, but fun,” he continues, “but I wanted to find a better one – something more solid, but still cheap enough that I could modify it without feeling too bad about it! And when I saw this one on eBay – in Akazien green, which I hadn’t seen before – I knew it had potential, despite being a 525e auto. It was in pretty good condition, in fact – all original paint, with a few age-related marks and dents, and it’s still like that today. I like its timeworn look.”
That said, it wasn’t a car that wanted Jim to just jump in and enjoy. In addition to the usual front footwell and inner sill rust issues, it wasn’t all that keen on starting up and letting him take it home. “It wouldn’t fire up at all when I went to view it in Nottingham,” he says, “so I left it and went to look at another one in Derby. That one was quite a rare manual 525e – but really rotten. Then I got a call from the guy with the green car, which he’d got running; we made a deal, and I drove back to Norfolk in it.” So far so good, then. But where does the M badge enter the story? Patience, reader, patience – we’ll get there in due course. Jim’s just got his car home, let’s see what he does next…
“The modifying didn’t actually start for another year,” he says. “I took the car over to my mate Spen’s, and he pulled out the old 2.7 lump and autobox after I had stripped the interior. It then spent about six months on blocks on his shingle drive! I’d wanted to put an S50 in it but Spen convinced me to fit the S38B36 for strength and reliability reasons.” And there we have it, ladies and gentlemen: a logical rationale for stuffing an E34 M5 engine in there. Strength and reliability. Sure. And there’s the fringe benefit of having enough horsepower to knock the Earth ever-so-slightly off its axis, of course.
Jim was sufficiently enthused by the idea to dive into buying the first S38 he came across, complete with transmission, and Spen set about wriggling the oily bits into the appropriate position while Jim busied himself with fabricating various mounts for the engine, gearbox, and assorted ancillaries, including a setup to relocate the coil. “Spen dealt with the loom mods, which was no easy job as E34 ECUs live on the opposite side of the car to the E28’s, but he sorted that,” he says. “Then we tackled the brakes, fitting the E34 M5 setup along with a Clio servo custom-fitted to clear the plenum. When Spen was happy with all the work so far, he took the engine out again and I took the car over to another mate Terry’s workshop to take care of the rust issues, while Spen took the head off and rebuilt it.”
It was all looking rosy at this stage, with the mods progressing well and the car not really fighting back to any great degree, and with the refreshed engine back in situ it was treated to a custom Pro Alloy radiator and a Fritz’s Bits manifold and exhaust system to keep everything functioning at maximum efficiency. At least, that was the theory. You know how annoying it is when your grandma says things like ‘patience is a virtue’, and ‘everything comes to he who waits’? Yeah, she’s right. You should always listen to your grandma, no matter how deranged she may appear. Jim shouldn’t have bought the first M5 engine he found. It turned out to be a bit of a pig.
“It was all running, just… not well,” Jim grimaces. “Spen spent a few weeks swapping bits on and off from his own M5, testing everything for weak links, trying to identify what was wrong. He unpicked his loom mod and then refitted it, but it still wouldn’t run properly. The head came off for testing but there was nothing amiss there. We were mystified.” What would you do in this situation? Persevere with a relentless programme of trial-and-error testing, ultimately stripping the whole thing back to first principles? Or would you take the ‘sod it’ approach? Jim opted for the latter. “Time was slipping away, we’d been at it 18 months, so I just bought another engine,” he says. And guess what? That one didn’t want to play ball either. “It was pulled apart, rebuilt, refitted, but it didn’t run well. We just couldn’t get the emissions down.
After chasing problems round and round, we finally deduced that the brand-new lambda sensor we’d bought was faulty – having replaced that, everything was fine!” A merry dance, then, but it all came good in the end. The upshot of all this enduring endeavour is a healthy 315hp coming from a legitimate M5 motor, with an M5 gearbox, running through a modified E12 propshaft to an M5 LSD. That M badge is fully justified after all then, right?
Of course, you can’t just throw a load of 1990s supercar-baiting grunt into a 1980s chassis and expect everything to be sunshine and lollipops. We’ve already touched upon how the lads grafted in the E34 M5’s beefier brakes, but there was more to be done under the skin in order to make a car that was as competent as it was cocky. Suspension is key to a build like this, and Jim had charged the coil-toting eggheads at Gaz with the task of building up a set of bespoke coilovers to be fit for purpose. And with the stopping and the handling taken care of, it was time to tackle the aesthetics. Just what would be the right thing to do with the revered ol’ sharknose?
“I knew I wanted to keep the original paint, it’s such an unusual colour,” Jim enthuses. “Aside from the wheels and stance, I wanted the whole car to look as original as possible. I did initially remove all the trim, ready to prep for a respray, but I quickly changed my mind and put it all back together again so it could wear its 30-year-old paintwork with pride! It’s got a slightly nosedown stance, and I wanted the rims pushed right to the edge of the arches, so the rears have been rolled to accommodate.” The rims in question are a set of staggered #BBS RCs, which Jim originally sprayed with bodycoloured centres, although the gold that they’re rocking now is certainly more of an eye-catcher on the showground. There’s also a set of Schnitzer Type 1 Racing three-pieces that appear on the car from time to time, just to mix things up a bit. The interior enjoys plenty of this keenness for detail, too, with the black-and-charcoal houndstooth fabric from the seats of Jim’s other E28 having been liberated to re-cover the Recaros that are now in place here. It’s little details like this that really make a build, isn’t it? “I had to leave the Harry Moss motion sensor on the dash, too, as a tribute to the ’80s!” he grins.
“My favourite mod is the engine, for sure,” Jim assures us, and it’s pretty obvious why that is. “It makes me smile every time I’m behind the wheel. But when I park it up, I also love looking back at the car as I’m walking away, seeing my dad’s old numberplate on there that I fitted as a tribute to him when he died.” This has all been a very personal journey for Jim, with the help of his buddy Spen and a whole cast of extras, and you can be damn sure that his dad would be proud of the achievement. And Jim’s not finished yet, not by a long shot. “Air-ride is a possibility,” he says, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “And a V8, naturally.” So yes, we can forgive the M badge here. It actually fits rather nicely.
“Aside from the wheels and stance, I wanted the whole car to look as original as possible”
“Spen convinced me to fit the S38B36 for strength and reliability reasons”
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.5-litre straight-six #S38B36 #S38 (from E34 M5), Fritz’s Bits stainless steel manifold and exhaust system, #Ramair filter, custom alloy radiator with Spal electric fan from Pro Alloy, Mocal oil cooler, custom mounts, brackets and fittings, 5-speed E34 M5 gearbox, E12 propshaft, E34 M5 LSD.
CHASSIS: 8x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) #BBS-RC009/010 wheels with 205/40 (front) and 215/40 (rear) Yokohama Parada Spec 2 tyres, custom #Gaz coilovers with adjustable rebound, 550lb front springs, 275lb rear springs, Whiteline anti-roll bars, #Powerflex bushes in front suspension arms, #BMW E34 M5 brakes.
EXTERIOR: Original #Akazien green paint, rolled rear arches.
INTERIOR: Black and charcoal houndstooth interior with recovered #Recaro-Speed front seats, #AC-Schnitzer steering wheel, 160mph speedo.
THANKS: Spen (now set up in business as BMP Conversions), my mates Terry and Ray for workshop space and their help, my mum and dad for garage space, Guy’s mum for upholstery, and Patty for precision machine work. And my girlfriend Nic for her love of cars!
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