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    FULL METAL ALCHEMIST #2015

    You’d have to go a long way to find an E30 more ferocious than this 520hp, supercharged metal wide-body beast.

    With a custom metal wide-body kit and a supercharger for good measure, this E30 has undergone a magical transformation. Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: Si Gray

    Approaching Clive King’s E30 in profile causes the black paintwork to hide the incredible amount of work that’s gone into creating the body. Viewed in profile it just looks like a black E30, really, but, like one of those 3D illusion sculptures, as you start to move towards the front or back of the car the reflections on its flanks begin to twist and distort and that’s when you begin to realise that actually there is a lot more going on here than first meets the eye…

    Incredibly, this is Clive’s ninth E30, a habit he’s sustained since he was 21, though he says he’s been into cars since the dawn of time, which does make us question exactly how old he might be. The car you see before you was never meant to be like this. Clive bought it with the intention of turning it into a cheap sleeper but things don’t always go to plan.

    The story all started with the engine, which was originally in a Cab. “The engine started out as 2.5 and I built it up to a 2.7 before adding the Rotrex supercharger which was modified specifically to fit,” says Clive. “It actually sits where the air-con pump would be. The engine was fantastic and made 321hp but it was a bit too lively in the Cab – there was loads of scuttle shake, it was always lighting the wheels up and even though the Cab was heavier than the other body shapes, with the engine it was just too sketchy. I wanted something else to put it in and I had the opportunity to buy this E30 shell for £70, so I did. It was supposed to be a clean, low, sleeper Chromie!”

    Clearly that’s not what happened and, in a roundabout sort of way, it’s Clive’s wife’s fault, really. “These wheels,” he says, pointing to his striking blue Rota RBXs, “appeared for sale on Pistonheads and I liked the retro look, they’re like big Minilites. I mentioned the fact that I liked them to my wife and she bought them for me as a surprise. When I put them on the car they stuck out. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I had to build some arches to fit over the wheels!


    “I built the whole car at my workshop. The bumpers are fibreglass but I handfabricated the arches from sheet steel. I trained in bodywork but I gave it up as a job as it took away the enjoyment from my doing it as a hobby, so now I just do it for myself and my friends. The bumpers are copies of the M Tech 2 kit but they didn’t fit so I bought two jigs for the bumpers and had to cut and reshape them to make them fit, then re-fibreglass them. The skirts are fibreglass copies of some Ford Granada Scorpio sideskirts I had lying around. I had to cut them, flare them out by 4” and then re-fibreglass them. The spoiler is a copy of the E30 M3 spoiler but with a carbon gurney flap added on. The bonnet I made six years ago but never finished until I built this car. I started with the standard bonnet, measured it up, made the side spacers and then welded them in.”


    The whole car looks absolutely awesome thanks to Clive’s handiwork, and while it’s not going to suit all tastes you can’t argue with the visual impact it delivers. The arches are a work of art, beautifully finished, smooth and rounded, quite unlike anything you normally see and only when looking down the car’s flank do you get the full effect. The interior is no less impressive and a lot of hard work has gone into making it as good as it is. The seats are from a Honda Accord Type R, which Clive’s wife also bought for him, and sit on custom mounts.


    His verdict? “They’re very comfortable,” he says. Most of the interior is taken up by the 18(!) point roll-cage and it really is quite something. “I knew I wanted a roll-cage,” he says, “and I got this one from ‘mrben’ on the E30zone forum. I had to take it out three times while I was doing the rest of the interior though, which was a bit of a nightmare!” Clive has also de-de-skinned the sunroof and fitted a Union Jack headlining, which was actually a duvet that sacrificed itself for the greater good. Impressive as all this is, most of all we love the digital gauges in the instrument cluster. They look absolutely awesome but weren’t fitted because of their appearance. “The original gauges just couldn’t keep up with the engine,” explains Clive, “so I went for these digital gauges from Drift Iridium.” The company offers a full selection of gauges and Clive’s E30 is sporting what is pretty much the dream dash combo, with speedo, rev counter, fuel gauge and temperature all matching Drift Iridium items, with an additional boost gauge mounted in a small pod where the air vent near the door would normally be.


    So to the star of the show: the engine. As we already mentioned above, it started out as a 2.5 before Clive built it up to a 2.7, which is where we pick the story up. “After I’d taken it up to 2.7 and supercharged it, the supercharger seized. It was starved of oil and the Megasquirt ECU I was running also died. I got hold of a #DTA-S80-Pro ECU and took the engine up to 2.8 myself, with an E36 M50 2.8 crank, M20 2.0 rods and M20 2.5 pistons and then I added the same Rotrex supercharger as before. The 2.8 was great but it blew a couple of head gaskets very badly as the compression was too high.


    It was making 423hp but it was unreliable and while I don’t use the car often, when I do I like to enjoy it so I didn’t want it to keep breaking down on me.

    “At this point I hit rock bottom and I really didn’t know what to do. I was ready to just put a 2.5 in the car and sell it. Then my wife suggested building the best engine that I could afford so with her blessing I decided to do just that. Byron on the E30zone forum runs the Engine Shed Co. in Wales; he does brilliant work, and I spoke to him about what route I should go down. After plenty of research I turned to Ireland Engineering in California to build me the engine I wanted. I sent it the specs for the block and eight weeks later the finished product turned up on my doorstep. It’s actually closer to a 2.9 than a 2.8 and the craftsmanship on the block was amazing, it was almost a shame to put it all together and stick it in the car! I took it to Byron who built the botttom end, bored the block and matched the pistons before I added the finishing touches.”


    Clive set out to build the best engine he could and looking through the spec list it certainly looks like mission accomplished. There are Ireland Engineering forged rods, custom-spec Ross Racing pistons, a Cometic multi-layer steel headgasket, ARP bolts, a 264-degree custom cam from Cat Cams, along with a six-branch manifold leading to a Sportex exhaust. The boot is home to the fuel system components, with a 551 fuel cell and 2.5-litre surge tank, ‘red top’ lift pump, Bosch 044 pump and braided lines throughout. “The engine is absolutely flawless,” says a grinning Clive. “It’s making roughly 510-520hp and it’s absolutely insane. I’ve never put my foot flat to the floor because it’s too scary.” Considering that with the stripped-out interior and homemade arches it’s now significantly lighter than standard, that makes 520hp an absolutely ridiculous amount of power to be running, especially when all of it is attempting to funnel its way to the Tarmac via 225 rear tyres. Clive is clearly crazy – which means he fits right in with the likes of us then, really.

    As we wrap up the shoot, we ask Clive (as we always do) if there’s anything else he’d like to do to the car. His answer is as decisive and absolute as everything else to do with this project. “There’s nothing more to do,” he states. “It’s finished.” Taking one last look at this E30, drinking in the curves of its outrageous arch work, the exquisitely executed interior, that masterpiece of an engine, we don’t doubt it.


    DATA FILE SUPERCHARGED WIDE-BODY #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-WIDE-BODY

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION Custom-built six-cylinder #M20 2.9 / #M20B29 stroker, Ireland Engineering forged rods, custom-spec Ross racing pistons, #Cometic MLS steel head gasket, #ARP bolts allround, steel windage tray, reworked head, 264-degree custom Cat Cam, six-branch manifold, #Sportex mild steel exhaust, VR6 coil packs, #Magnecor HT leads, #Rotrex-C30-94 / #Rotrex supercharger kit, #ITG air filter, front mount intercooler, E36 radiator, Kelowe twin-speed main fan and two 8” auxiliary fans. #DTA S80 Pro ECU – wiring harness traction and launch control ready, uprated injectors, urban camo #Samco hose kit, 551 fuel cell, 2.51 surge tank, red top lift pump, #Bosch-044 pump, twin filters, adjustable pressure regulator and braided fuel lines. Five-speed manual gearbox, Z3 short-shift, lightened flywheel with Stage 3 DriveTorque clutch, 3.64 LSD


    CHASSIS 9.5x17” (front and rear) ET-19 #Rota-RBX wheels painted in Candy Fantasy blue with 205/45 (front) and 225/45 (rear) #Maxxis Maz 1 tyres, FK High Sport coilovers, #H&R adjustable roll bars, rear camber kit, M3 eccentric front bushes, Powerflex polybushes all-round, strengthened sub frames, #Sparco twin-tube strut brace, #Wilwood ultra-light four-pot #BBK with 310mm discs (front), drilled/grooved rear, tubbed rear arches, front inner arches removed

    EXTERIOR Custom steel wide arches flared 4”, hand-built side skirts, stretched #M-Tech 2 bumpers, custom swage lines, smoothed body, custom vented bonnet, carbon fibre boot spoiler, Startec rear lights, smoked headlights, carbon wrapped mirrors and door trims, side indicators removed, M3 bonded windscreen, sunroof panel lightened and bonded, airbrushed Union Jack/German flag on rocker cover, car finished in high gloss jet black


    INTERIOR Recaro front seats on custom mounts, rear seats removed, deep-dish steering wheel, Drift Iridium digital gauges, centre switch panel, 18-point Safety Devices roll-cage, Sparco three-point harnesses, custom Union Jack headliner


    THANKS My wife, Charlotte, Cotswold Airport (01285 771177 ‘Come and see us some time’), Circuit Motorsport Ltd trading as Sabre Tuning (Paul Shepherd, 01249 782596), The Engine Shed (Byron, 07788 454083), my dad for helping me and my mum for making him!
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