- Post is under moderation’CHARGED Z3 M Track-focussed monster. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Patrick Lauder. From bone stock to supercharged autocross monster, this Z3 M Coupé has spent 14 years becoming the best machine it can be.
Supercharged / #BMW-Z3M-Coupe / #BMW-Z3M-Coupé-E36/8 / #BMW-Z3M-E36/8 / #BMW-Z3-E36/8 / #BMW-E36/8 / #BMW-Z3M / #BMW-Z3M-Coupe-Supercharged / #BMW-Z3-Supercharged / #BMW-Z3M-Coupe-Supercharged-E36/8 / #BMW-Z3 / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E36/8 / #BMW
In America they call it the clown shoe; in the UK we call it the bread van but whatever you choose to call it the Z3 Coupé remains an incredibly special and unique machine. #BMW attempted to recapture the magic of its quirky miniature shooting brake with the E86 Z4 Coupé and while it was arguably a better car, it was also a lot more conventional and lost a lot of the appeal of its quirky forebear. Being unconventional may have caused people to fall in and out of love with the Z3 Coupé throughout its life but standing out from the crowd has most definitely worked in favour of the eye-catching machine and that is exactly why Grant Gillum ended up buying this car.
“I wasn’t a BMW guy per se,” Grant begins, “but I knew they made a quality product. As college was ending I began researching nice used cars to purchase after graduation. I wanted a front engine, rear-wheel-drive car that could be modified and used for autocross and track days. It would also be my daily for a while. After considering several cars including Corvettes, Camaros, Porsche 944s and 928s, the Pontiac GTO (not a used car at the time), Datsuns and Nissans of many years and models, I decided on an E36 M3. I liked the styling, the daily sensibilities and the aftermarket availability. They were also uncommon and more exclusive. All that changed the day that I saw a Z3 Coupé in traffic,” he says. “I had seen a million Z3 Roadsters and wasn’t really interested in a convertible. But this was different and I wasn’t even sure what I was looking at. I certainly didn’t recognize it as a Z3. It had a BMW logo so I started researching all their models, eventually finding information on the M Coupé. All the engine of an M3 but lighter, with a factory wide body, staggered wheels and a look that was comparable to some exotics. Sold. I had to have one,” he smiles. “It took nine months of scouring the internet to find the right one.
I bought a 22k mile example, bone stock but for a Dinan CAI and a stage one tune and still under warranty. I bought it sight unseen except photos and had it shipped cross country. I realized right away too that the M Coupé was a limited production run vehicle and so would be a cheap way for a blue collar guy to own something special. I bought the car knowing it would be a lifelong project car. I’ve known plenty of grey haired dudes that sold the hot rod of their youth and regretted it the rest of their lives. Not me. Hopefully,” he adds.
Unlike other owners who buy their cars and start out with no plans for modifying, Grant knew he was going to mod the Z3 and knew exactly which direction he wanted to take it in. “I wanted to race it right away and joined an autocross club soon after buying it,” he says, and his passion for autocross is shared by his wife. “Six years ago she came with me for a day at the track. She rode along on a couple runs and decided to give it a try. Except when pregnant, she’s raced in nearly every autocross event that I have since then. Averaging our times to a 60 second run, she’s about a half second off me. She’s been as close as a tenth second off my time. I’m much more of a fundamental driver, she drives much more by the seat of her pants. As soon as she tightens up her fundamentals, she’ll beat me,” he says. While you can take any car to an autocross event, if you’re serious about this particular form of motorsport, as Grant is, then your car will need to be modified and in a focussed way that will enable you to get the most out of it, which is why virtually everything he’s done to his Z3 has been all about making it a more finely-honed, precision autocross instrument.
It’s also why the supercharger that you can see strapped to the side of the engine came last and everything else came first as the chassis, handling and dynamics were the priorities here.
Wheels and tyres were the first items on what would become quite an extensive shopping list and while aesthetics do obviously play a part, lightness was mostly the deciding factor as far as wheel choice was concerned. “I went online and found the lightest wheels I could for the car,” explains Grant. “I bought a set of OZ Alleggerita HLTs in 8x17” and 8.5”x17”. They were light at less than 17lbs (7.7kg) per corner and dropped considerable unsprung weight over the stock wheels and I converted to wheel studs too.
I ran those wheels for a couple of autocross seasons before switching the rears to the front and widening the fronts to 10” and putting them on the rear. Now they weigh 16.8lbs (7.6kg) and 17.9lbs (8.1kg) front and rear; they are light, strong and handsome,” and what more could anyone ask for from a wheel? “I also run a set of 8x18” and 9x18” ASA AR1 wheels with black centres and 2” and 3” polished lips front and rear on the street,” he adds. The 17s really suit the Z3, as you can see in the photos, especially with the fat sidewalls of the super-sticky BF Goodrich g-Force R1 tyres filling out the arches and those tyres let you know that this M Coupé means business.
With lightweight wheels and track tyres taken care of, the next item on Grant’s to-do list was the suspension, and while he started off small, things quickly escalated. “I started with H&R springs and kept them for a few years until they sagged,” he says, “then I switched to Ground Control coilovers and adjustable spring perches. But not before modding the anti-roll bars with reinforcements, adding differential reinforcements, rear shock mounts, sub frame reinforcements and rear camber and toe adjustments. Then I poly bushed it followed by aluminium control arms.
“Disaster struck at the autocross one day when the diff pulled away from the subfloor and the rear end went squishy,” says Grant. “I thought that one of the rear anti-roll bar end links had given way. That’s how I got a tube frame rear subfloor that is way stiffer than the stock car ever thought of being. I love the coilovers, of course, but the single greatest suspension mod was poly bushing the rear subframe. It really changed the way the car transitioned weight in-corner to being much more predictable,” he says. As is often the case when it comes to modding, when things go wrong, break or fail, rather than just replacing them you upgrade them so, as with his boot floor, when the clutch started to slip Grant fitted an F1 Racing stage two clutch and 14lbs chromoly flywheel as well as a stainless steel clutch line and then added a UUC short shift kit and double shear selector rod plus a Z3 2.3 steering rack. Further drivetrain upgrades include a poly differential bush, UUC aluminium engine and transmission mounts and a rebuilt diff with four clutch zero preload and 80/60 ramping, polished ring and pinion gears and a 3.64 final drive in place of the standard 3.23 item. “Before the supercharger, lowering the final drive was a really dramatic NA mod. It went a long way to help pull me out of slow second gear turns,” explains Grant.
With the suspension and drivetrain taken care the Z3 was a far sharper machine but now the car’s stopping abilities needed to be addressed. “When I started doing a lot of track days it was apparent that the stock brakes were not up to long days of abuse,” he says. “That’s when I did the brake conversion and ducting. What a difference and zero fade. I didn’t go too big on the disc diameter as I was concerned with reducing as much rotational weight as possible, as autocross is more of a low speed competition.” The Z3 now wears Wilwood six-pot Superlite front calipers with 330mm GT-48 floating discs and Wilwood Dynalite four-pot rear calipers with 312mm lightweight discs and Wilwood B pads allround, while the ducting ensures that the brakes receive plenty of cool air to deliver peak performance at all times.
Having carried out all the groundwork to make sure that all aspects of the chassis and drivetrain were at peak performance, Grant could now turn his attention to extracting more power from the engine.
Unlike our Euro-spec Z3 M models, the US cars were fitted with the S52B32 engine, based on the M52, which had to make do with 240hp and 236lb ft of torque so it’s no surprise that Grant wanted to up these numbers. “I started with keeping the engine NA and wanted to let it breathe better,” he says. “I upgraded the cooling system with a rad, water pump thermostat and cover immediately. I kept the CAI and did the M50 intake manifold exchange and I also did the BBTB at the same time. A cat-back exhaust followed and a year later came exhaust manifolds and a mid-pipe. In general I would wait until OE parts needed replacement and would upgrade at that time; that way the financial hit of modifying was lessened by taking the money I would be spending on OE parts and putting that towards upgrades.
I replaced all the water hoses throughout and the oil cooler followed when I started doing more track days, as I live a 40 minute drive from Thunderhill Raceway here in California. While on track there one day the bottom radiator hose slipped off and started spewing out coolant; I realised it had happened within seconds but even though I coasted into the pits the water temp gauge showed hot and that’s how I got the new head and I went to under-driven pulleys then as well.
“After the rest of the car was pretty modified I bought the supercharger kit. I had become a dad and my wife wanted me to do less high speed track driving and just drive autocross, so after close to two dozen track days at Thunderhill my focus changed with regard to driving. I needed just a little more low-end torque to pull me out of slow second gear turns when I didn’t want to shift to first gear at autocross,” and the supercharger kit has certainly given Grant the grunt he was after. It’s an Active Autowerke Stage 1 kit with a Rotrex C38-92 supercharger and is accompanied by numerous supporting mods. “I removed the air con, replaced the alternator, installed the power steering cooler, did the oil pan/pump upgrade and fitted an ATI Super Damper, crank pulley and carried out a CCV delete with the supercharger kit,” he says. “The baseline dyno when I bought the car was 205hp and 203lb ft of torque at the wheels; the NA mods took that up to 230whp and 222lb ft and it now makes 312whp and 262lb ft at the wheels on the same dyno. Active Autowerke claims that this kit makes 360hp on a stock car; I’ve done a lot of other work to the engine, so if they want to claim 360hp I want to claim somewhere in the 380hp range,” says Grant. “That seems excessive, though, and I usually just quote my dyno numbers,” and that’s still plenty to enjoy both on road an track, and a huge increase over stock.
While Grant has focussed mainly on the performance and dynamic elements of the car he has not forgotten about aesthetics, both inside and out. The exterior as been enhanced with Motion Motorsports front splitters and aluminium undertay, a one-off AC Schnitzer rear diffuser centre section, the roof spoiler has been raised by 8mm to enhance the roofline and Grant’s also fitted black kidney grilles, black lower mesh grilles and carbon-look roundels among other things. The interior, meanwhile, has been treated to a Momo Competition steering wheel on a quick release hub, chrome handbrake handle, E46 M3 short shift gearknob, black leather gaiter with tricolour stitching and M Tech pedals and dead pedal. There’s also a H3R black HalGuard fire extinguisher, but this was added as a necessity following a scary incident…
“While testing the car after installing the M50 manifold a fuel hose wasn’t secured completely and popped off and sprayed fuel over the exhaust manifold,” says Grant. “Thank god the car wasn’t warmed up all the way and only billowed white smoke. I pulled over immediately and ran. It continued to smoke for a long, heart-pounding five minutes. I fitted the fire extinguisher after that,” he says.
Grant’s Z3 is a focussed build that’s been taken in a specific direction and the results speak for themselves. While it looks great it’s the changes that you can’t see and that we can’t experience or appreciate that make this car. It’s the vast amount of chassis work, the brakes, the hundreds of seemingly minor secondary mods that are so important for the success of the whole and which all add up to make a such big difference. This Z3 has evolved hugely during the 14 years that Grant has owned it, from autocross machine to track monster and back to autocross beast but this time with the wick turned way, way up, becoming more and more focussed at each stage and it’s not reached its final form just yet…
“In the not-too-distant future this car will retire from competition after nearly 80,000 miles that saw it driving to almost monthly autocross events (10 months a year). I have a pile of class win trophies adding, in my small way, to BMW’s racing heritage. I’ll paint and mount the new bumper and splitters I have waiting. I’ll delete the fog lights and the antenna for a cleaner look. At that time I’d also like a nice set of multipiece step-lipped wheels,” he nods, painting an attractive picture. At that point it’ll become a different animal altogether but whether or not that will be its final stage of evolution will remain to be seen…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Supercharged E36/8 Z3 M Coupé / #Active-Autowerke-Stage-1 / #Active-Autowerke / #Rotrex / #VAC / #Dinan /
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / #BMW-S52 / #S52 / #S52-Supercharged , #UUC engine mounts, Active Autowerke Stage 1 supercharger kit with #Rotrex-C38-92 supercharger, CAI, 3” MAF, High flow Bosch fuel injectors, supercharger oil cooler, AA stage 1 programming for BBTB and M50 intake with 7k redline, polished supercharger bracket, #ATI-Super-Damper , #VAC-lightweight crank pulley, #Dinan big bore throttle body, M50 intake manifold and fuel rail cover, intake runner heat shields, Dr. Vanos stage 2 kit with cam gears, timing chains and solenoid, Turner shorty ceramic coated exhaust manifolds, ARP header studs, fiberglass manifold and exhaust wrap, SAS Racing dual 2.5” mid-pipes with stock cats, dual 2.75” Supersprint stainless cat-back exhaust, #BMP design exhaust tips, #VAC oil pump upgrade, VAC oil pan baffle, #Behr S54 E46 triple row radiator, 80° thermostat, power steering cooler, Stewart high-flow water pump with steel impeller, polished aluminum thermostat housing, polished aluminum water pump nut, 80/88º fan switch, Spal 16” electric puller fan, clutch fan delete, new overflow tank, BMP brass water bleeder, VAC 5x7” oil cooler with polished Euro oil filter housing, stock head gasket, #ARP head studs, head polished and gasket matched, new valve guides, lashes, locks and retainers, valve job, resurfaced head, hydraulic belt tensioner, CCV delete, new Valeo 115 app alternator, AC delete, radiator baffle.
POWER and torque 312whp and 262lb ft wtq
TRANSMISSION #ZF-Type-C / #ZF five-speed manual gearbox, #F1-Racing 14lbs chromoly flywheel and stage 2 clutch, stainless clutch line, UUC short shifter and double shear selector rod, poly differential bush, UUC aluminium transmission mounts, rebuilt diff with four clutch zero pre-load and 80/60 ramping, 3.64:1 final drive, polished ring and pinion gears
CHASSIS 8.5”x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #OZ-Alleggerita-HLT / #OZ wheels with 255/45 (front and rear) BF Goodrich g-Force R1 tyres, #Ground-Control front coilovers with Koni adjustable shocks, Eibach 500lbs front springs and 600lbs rear springs, Ground Control adjustable rear spring perches, Ground Control front camber and caster plates, #Racing-Dynamics 21mm front and 19 mm rear anti-rolls bars and end links, SAS Racing rear anti-roll bar reinforcements, #SAS-Racing differential reinforcements, SAS Racing rear shock mount reinforcements, Turner Motorsport aluminium and poly rear upper shock mounts, Ireland poly control arm bushes, #Turner front subframe reinforcements, Ireland poly rear trailing arm bushes, Turner rear camber and toe adjustments, 90mm rear and 75mm front lug stud conversion, E30 M3 polished aluminum control arms, Turner front hub extenders, Ground-Control bump stops, SAS Racing tube frame rear sub-floor, Z3 2.3 steering rack, #Wilwood sixpiston Superlite calipers with 330mm GT-48 floating discs with aluminium hats (front), Wilwood four-piston Dynalite calipers with 312mm lightweight discs (rear), Wilwood B pads (front and rear), stainless brake lines, Turner front brake backing plates and duct work, SAS Racing vented rear brake backing plates, new master cylinder and reservoir
EXTERIOR Arctic silver, Motion Motorsports front splitters and aluminium undertay, #AC-Schnitzer one-off rear diffuser centre section, OEM fog light kit, rear roof spoiler adjusted up 8mm and colour-matched, polished wiring harness brackets, door jamb stickers removed, carbon-look roundels, passenger wiper delete, HID headlamps with side markers and corner lamps colour matched, stealth turn signal bulbs, tinted tail lights, colour-matched wiper nozzles and hatch latch, black kidney grilles, black mesh lower grilles, rear wiper delete, clear front corner markers, front plate holder delete, new windscreen and exterior mouldings
INTERIOR Black and grey two-tone leather interior, Momo 350mm Competition steering wheel with hub, 15 mm spacer and adaptor, carbon-look roundel, Snap-off Industries steering wheel quick release hub, chrome handbrake handle, E46 M3 short gear knob, M Tech pedals and dead pedal, front and rear M logo floor mats, E36 M3 window button surrounds, black leather gaiters with tricolour stitching, windscreen and window tints, sun visor stickers removed, glove box facelift, carbon horn pin adapter, H3R black HalGuard fire extinguisher, poly seat bushes, custom rear hatch parcel shelf
Thanks My wife, for her all patience and participation. Jerard Shaha at SAS Racing, my 30-year mechanic and friend. He rebuilt my El Camino in 1987! SAS Racing has done all the work on this car over the years. Their specialty is racecar setup but they perform all mechanical work and fabrication to an expert level as well as engine building and auto transmission rebuilds (firstname.lastname@example.org). Jason Shaha, my childhood best friend and Jerard’s brother. Thanks for planting that competitive seed from your family into me. See you at the next race? The long-standing crew at Trinity Touring Club. Thanks for your loyalty to our sport and dedication to our club. If I didn’t have to drive 90 minutes each way I’d be at all the club meetings (trinitytouringclub.com)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBMW’s iconic #BMW-Art-Cars have been setting hearts a-flutter since #1975 but your chances of actually owning one are pretty much zero. There is, however, little stopping you from building your own… Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photos: Patrik Karlsson / #BMW-Art-Car /
Art Attack E9 and E21 resto-modded Art Car replicas
The BMW Art Car series is something that’s been capturing the imagination of motoring enthusiasts for generations. It all began in 1975, when French racing driver Hervé Poulain commissioned American artist and friend Alexander Calder to paint the 3.0 CSL that he was to drive at Le Mans. Using bold primary colours, Calder transformed the already eye-catching form of the #Group-5 E9 into something that looked like it was rapidly swishing through the scenery even when it was sitting still. It turned out to be one of the last art pieces Calder produced before his death, and in the mid-seventies it was actually a pretty astonishing move to present a car to the world as a work of art; it was, as you might imagine, even more astonishing that the flawless museum piece was then entered in the Le Mans 24hr.
The Calder Art Car sparked off a chain reaction that resonated through the decades. The following year, Frank Stella painted an E9 CSL; the year after that, Roy Lichtenstein had a go at a Group 5 E21, then it was Andy Warhol’s turn with an M1, with the snowballing project building momentum until it all came to a head with the recently unveiled John Baldessari M6 GTLM, the 18th official #Art-Cars Car .
Now, there have been quite a lot of other BMWs to be decorated by artists in unusual ways over the years, but these core 18 are the official ones, the bona fide commissioned #Art-Cars . They haven’t all been race cars (David Hockney’s, for example, was an 850CSi and Matazo Kayama’s was an E34 535i), but they have all been devastatingly beautiful and incomparably desirable.
To BMW’s endless credit, the collection isn’t kept safe and secure in a hermetically sealed and top-secret location – they get toured around the world from Goodwood to Pebble Beach and beyond, and the PR bods even took them on a sort of world tour in 2012 which included a brief but comprehensive exhibition in, er, a multistory car park in Shoreditch (which was very weird, but an utter joy to attend – BMW didn’t publicise it widely, so very few people turned up; those of us that did got to enjoy some rather special alone-time with these magnificent creations).
But just having a little look-see at the occasional show was never going to be enough for Swedish retro race enthusiast Jonas Nilsson. He had a dream, an all-consuming aspiration, to possess an Art Car of his very own. But obviously BMW would never sell him one, they’re far too valuable, so he was left with just one option: to build his own tribute to these iconic slices of history.
As you can see here, he got a bit carried away. He hasn’t built one Art Car, but two – and that’s just about pushing the very limits of awesomeness that our brains are able to cope with. So let’s try and piece it together in as logical a way as possible, without our minds dribbling out of our ears at the sheer magnificence of it all…
“BMWs have been special to me ever since I was a little boy, and our neighbour came driving home in his brand-new E21,” Jonas recalls. “I’ve always thought that they have very nice car models and very good performance.” Yep, no arguments here. And that early infatuation clearly planted a seed, as things have gone a bit nuts in the intervening few decades.
“The first #BMW I owned was an E36 318iS,” he continues. “It was white, with a subtle body kit – just right for a guy in his twenties.” It wasn’t, we must point out, all about the BMWs for Jonas though, as he’s also pretty keen on Opels. His first car was a Monza GSE, and over the years he’s built some fairly impressive modified examples including a twin-turbo Monza with nitrous and a ’caged, supercharged Kadett GSi on slicks. It’s this passion for brutal performance and race car thrills that ultimately informed what you’re seeing here, allied to that early passion for BMWs. It turned out to be the perfect recipe.
“It had always been my dream to build an Art Car, so when the opportunity to do it came up, I had to take it,” he says, matter-of-factly. “The Roy Lichtenstein E21 tribute was the first one I built, and when that was finished I felt ready to tackle another one, so I attempted the Frank Stella E9, which was the one I’d really wanted to build all along.” Blimey. He makes this deranged behaviour all sound so normal, doesn’t he? What’s arguably most impressive is that Jonas built up everything you see here himself, as you can’t just nip to Halfords and pick up a Group 5 body kit for an E21. “All the bodywork is made in steel and cannot be bought, so I made it all by myself to a plan I had in my mind,” he explains, like some kind of automotive voodoo shaman.
“To create these two Art Cars, I actually used four cars,” he goes on. “I took two cars and cut the body from the base, then I took one base and welded it together with the other body, and to make everything fit I had to adjust the length and trim the base car to make everything match up.”
Looking inside either one should give you a bit of a giveaway as to what resides beneath their respective skins; the E21 is all E36 inside, while the sharknose E9 has an E34 M5 hiding down there. It’s all utterly bonkers, and phenomenally impressive that he’s made it work.
“I found the E21 at a friend’s place,” says Jonas. “It was in okay condition, but the engine didn’t work.” And what better remedy for a misfiring first-gen 3 Series than to slice the body off, plonk it on to an E36 325i chassis, and bolt on some outrageous retro racer bodywork?
You’ll spot that the E36’s M50 engine is nestled beneath that colourful bonnet, while the 1990s underpinnings have allowed a little flexibility in upgrading things, which is why you’ll find some serious D2 coilovers in the mix along with 19” wheels. On the whole, though, the spec is relatively mild when you look at just how extreme the E9 ended up becoming.
“I found the E9 on a car sales website, almost in mint condition,” Jonas grins, plainly unconcerned about chopping the thing up. “Whereas the E21 took about a year to build, this one took more like 18 months as there was a lot more to do.” Part of the reason for this is that he opted to complement the forthright race car looks with some appropriate power in the form of an S38 engine from an E34 M5 (which is the donor car beneath, remember) to which he’s added a Rotrex C38-81 centrifugal supercharger. It’s an astonishingly quick machine, which is just what you would hope for when you look at its angry angles and pointy aero.
“Every detail and measurement of both cars were made from a model in 1:18 scale, including the wrapping,” Jonas explains, again shrugging off an incredibly complex engineering endeavour as if it’s all in a day’s work, and reducing us to shimmering pools of jealousy in the process. “The Art Car livery is vinyl-wrapped though if money were no object then of course I would have them painted on! And there’s not a part of either car that hasn’t been taken out and perfected before being put back in. I try to do as much as I can by myself, because I love a good challenge!” Well, yes, evidently. The work here really does speak for itself, and while Jonas’ bread-and-butter lies in the mill industry, he hopes one day to transition into building cars like this for a living; a passion that’s currently being fuelled by his new project, a race-inspired, street-legal 635CSi. If all goes well, he could one day be commissioning famous artists to adorn his creations with their colourful daubings… but for now, this pair of Art Car tributes is a fabulous showcase of his skills. BMW may take the official ones out and about, but they don’t tear around in anger like Jonas’ do. As dream two-car garages go, this one really is a work of art.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE BMW #Frank-Stella / #BMW-E9 / #Rotrex / #Rotrex-C38 / #BMW-E9-Frank-Stella / #BMW-E9-Art-Car / #BMW-E9-Art-Car-Replica /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.5-litre straight-six #S38B36 / #BMW-S38 / #S38 , #Rotrex-C38-81 centrifugal supercharger, chargecooler, race aluminium cooler with Evans waterless coolant, Nuke Blackline linear FPR, Nuke fuel rail, #Nuke-Blackline filter, #ECUMaster management, five-speed #Getrag-280 manual gearbox, Tilton racing clutch, modified cardan shaft, 40% locking diff, 2.87:1 final drive, 210 diff housing, forged CrMo driveshafts
CHASSIS 10x19” (front) and 13x19” (rear) HRE 508 wheels with 265/30 (front) and 345/35 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, E34 D2 coilovers, D2 Racing big brake kit with eight-pot calipers and 380mm discs (front) and six-pot calipers and 380mm discs (rear)
EXTERIOR Custom handmade all-steel Group 5 bodywork, Frank Stella Art Car tribute livery
INTERIOR E34 M5 dash, Cobra Misano Anniversary seats, custom-trimmed matching rear seats and doorcards
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Roy-Lichtenstein / #BMW-E21 / #BMW-E21-Roy-Lichtenstein / #BMW-E21-Art-Car / #BMW-E21-Art-Car-Replica / #BMW-Art-Car-Replica / #Art-Car-Replica
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M50B25 / #BMW-M50 / #M50 , five-speed #Getrag manual gearbox
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) #Rennsport wheels with 265/30 Hankook Ventus S1 Evo (front) and 325/30 Dunlop Sport Maxx Race (rear) tyres, E36 D2 coilovers, #Powerflex bushes
EXTERIOR Custom handmade all-steel Group 5 bodywork, #Roy-Lichtenstein-Art-Car tribute livery
INTERIOR E36 interior blended with original E21Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHE HERETIC
Sticking a supercharged Honda-S2000 engine under the bonnet of a 2002 might sound like heresy, but it makes for one hell of an awesome machine. Classic looks with a modern heart make Elliott Norris’ supercharged 2002 the ideal track day warrior to drive round the Alps… Words: Mike Renaut. Photos: Matt Richardson.
We heard Elliott Norris’ 2002 approaching before we saw it… and that’s quite a trick with a car this brightly painted. So, why a 2002? “I’ve always loved them,” replies Elliott. “I love the shark nose and the profile – it’s a perfect little car. It’s also the first car you drive in the Forza 4 Xbox game.” Curiously, that’s more or less the way this car developed. In the game you put in a different engine, add performance parts, make the car lighter, then paint it a bright colour. Elliott has turned that armchair build process into reality.
His garage contains immaculate, stock examples of a 1974 2002 Turbo, a 1988 M3 Evo II, a 1987 M635 CSi and a 1973 3.0 CSL. He’s also got an M2 on the way, so it’s a slight surprise to learn this BMW sports Honda power. “I spotted the car on eBay in 2012,” explains Elliott. “It’s been changed pretty dramatically since then though. I bought it for fun and I paid about £8000. It’s a genuine 2002 and it came with the Honda S2000 engine and gearbox in factory tune part-fitted.
“I wanted a car I could drive to the track, race, then drive home again,” explains Elliott. “It will never go anywhere on a trailer. It’s already been round Europe twice – that’s how I develop it. It’s a perfect size to drive around the Alps. But then I took it around the Spa circuit and it turned out a temperature sensor wasn’t working so the engine was detonating the whole time. Of course, being a Honda it didn’t break but it was obvious it would need a rebuild. I thought that, as we were stripping it, I might as well add a supercharger.” Well, it makes perfect sense to us… Although, on opening the bonnet, we have to question the presence of the Magic Tree air freshener in the engine bay. “I kept getting fumes leaking into the interior,” laughs Elliot. “I bought four different flavoured air fresheners to attempt to discover the source of the leak!”
But back to the serious business of power. “With the standard S2000 running gear it was putting out about 220hp,” Elliott continues. “Now we’ve added the Rotex S2000 supercharger on a full-race engine with a slightly smaller blower pulley it’s currently got 382hp and 306lb ft of torque. It would be nice to go to 400+ brake with a bigger pulley.
When it was mapped it had 388hp at the wheels but I’ve since fitted a more restrictive exhaust – the old one was basically like a bit of old drainpipe.”
A custom-made Hayward and Scott stainless steel exhaust now resides under the car, connected to a bespoke manifold. The change was to quieten the beast a little, since race tracks weren’t happy with decibel readings of 110 or more! “I had a Decibel Devil fitted to get on the Nürburgring but half way round it spat it out onto the track…”
In the nicest possible way, this car is an odd mix. It’s loud and raw with dizzying acceleration but there’s also a comfortable interior with a heated windscreen (it genuinely does get used all year round) and a USB port on the dashboard. It’s got quality carpets and custom-made doorcards. There’s also hand-made brushed aluminium inserts and a roll bar that’s mainly an anchor for the race harnesses. “I’d like a full cage but I think they’re dangerous for road driving if you’re not wearing a helmet,” Elliott says.
We suggest that the car reminds us of those limited edition, lightweight race versions that Porsche or Mercedes are always releasing, and Elliott agrees: “That’s part of the feel I was after.” To get the car like this he sought a lot of expert advice along the way, as he explains: “Hanger 111 managed a lot of the initial build, particularly the interior and suspension work. The suspension it came with was shot. The front dampers were so poor it constantly locked the front wheels. My research led me to Ireland Engineering in the US and we fitted its full race dampers and spring strut braces.
“The body was shabby when I got it so I stripped it down. It had 2002 Turbo arches and front spoiler but we fitted a Group 2 body kit after we widened the wheel track.”
The paintwork was tackled by the man who Elliott trusts to do all of his car’s bodywork: Robin Middleton of RJM Body Repairs in Stowmarket. “Fitting the bonnet pins was tricky,” remembers Robin. “I only had one chance to drill them but I had to take account of the way the front-hinged bonnet opened. The wheels also took a lot of time as at first they were touching the arches with the steering on full lock. I bought two new front wings then cut them up to fit the wide arches. At once point I all but begged Elliott to let me raise the front by just two millimetres for extra clearance but he wouldn’t let me.
“I also blended in the rear valance around the exhaust pipe and cut the front spoiler to fit the intercooler. Elliott wanted the beltline trim removed so I filled the mounting holes. He gave me a tight deadline and I worked through a bank holiday to get it done on time. Elliott wanted Inca orange paint from the 1973 BMW palate so I scanned it to get the exact shade and then finished it in lacquer. The car came out really nicely. I’m still waiting for Elliott to give me a ride in it though!”
When Elliott first installed the supercharger he immediately noticed the original S2000 gearbox was crunching when shifting between first and second. “Basically it couldn’t handle the power of the supercharger,” he explains. So it was pulled out in favour of a quick-shift Quaife 69G sixspeed that was built to cope with 750hp and allows shifts without lifting off the accelerator – meaning you’re hurled forward without any break in momentum. “It changes gear in 0.3 of a second. However, it’s since been fitted with helical gears as, much as I love the sound of straight-cut gears, they’re difficult to use in traffic and I’m also keen to keep my hearing,” grins Elliott. “Thanks must go to Lee at Auto Shack who has a great mind for altering things. He fitted the Quaife gearbox and put up with my constant crazy schemes.”
The steering column from a Vauxhall Corsa mates to a Quaife quick rack originally intended for a Peugeot 205, but with an ECU kit from DC Electronics the electric power steering is now fully mappable and changes the amount of assistance offered according to torque input and output. It even has a super-light mode for parking in tight spaces – see what we mean about it being a roadfriendly race car?
The custom ‘Ketzer’ badge on the bootlid is the German for ‘heretic,’ while those Honda badges on the front wings came from a motorbike and are a relatively subtle hint that things are no longer standard underneath. More obvious are the BBS E50 wheels. “They were originally highly polished until I drove it round the Alps,” admits Elliott. The wheels were narrowed recently from eight-and-a-half inches on the front down to seven, and nine inches on the rear to eight-and-a-half, meaning the car now turns-in a lot better. “Since the BBSs are true split-rims we just moved the front inner barrels to the rear and replaced the front inner barrels with new ones. The main issue being the larger width was reducing the steering lock due to clearance. Running a narrower wheel has meant we now have the full lock back.” Although it’s cured a lot of the understeer Elliott mentions, it’s made the 2002 a lot harder to drift. However, surely Elliott hasn’t spent all this time building a fast road/track car only to now use it for drifting? “It was built to handle but not necessarily to grip,” he tells us. “It was designed to be a driver’s car. It’s purely about entertainment and having fun in any race event, but it was certainly never about setting lap times.”
An E30 325i rear axle with an E30 M3 differential puts down the power, although Elliott has to be careful, as he explains: “The rear squats massively under hard acceleration – it actually hits cat’s eyes in the road.” Wilwood disc brakes on all four corners haul the 2002 down from those supersonic speeds.
“A fully-mappable Emerald ECU means I can alter the engine map for regular fuel, race fuel, and ‘big flames from the exhaust on liftoff’ mode.” Of course, the upgrades meant the engine’s thirst for fuel has increased dramatically – so much so that a full race fuel system was required including a baffled tank with a swirl pot. The tank is now topped up via a cap in the boot. “I often get announcements over the tannoy at petrol stations because they think I’m pouring petrol straight onto the floor of the car,” grins Elliott. That means the original fuel filler in the rear wing is now redundant. “I was toying with putting a comedy springy snake in there in case anyone ever opens it…” he chuckles.
The body is all steel with the exception of the fibreglass bonnet, although Elliott says: “I might go back to a steel one. The fibreglass tends to vibrate at speed.” The latest addition to the car is a genuine new old stock Autoplas rear window louvre. “They’re super-rare. I found it in Latvia still in the original box.”
One of the few standard parts remaining is the handbrake mechanism. “I haven’t changed it but I should – it’s rubbish.”
Also not quite up to par is the speedometer, which decided to break on the way to the photoshoot meaning we couldn’t get any performance times. But Elliott knows 60mph comes up in under four seconds and, having experienced the car’s wall of acceleration, we completely agree. We hit 60mph in less time than it took to write this sentence (and I type with four fingers!). “It will outrun a new Porsche GT3 on a track,” says Elliott.
Generally the car has been very well received, although not by everyone. “I took it to a BMW Car Club meet and two guys told me it was the most horrible car they’d ever seen,” he laughs. However, given that Elliott already owns some quick cars including a Plymouth Superbird (go on, Google it), a Noble M12, and a 2011 Caterham he built himself (and in which he has recently won a race series), is he impressed with his 2002? “It’s an on-going labour of love, most of the modifications had to be done twice. I’m not sure I’d do it again – as I’ve spent well over ten times the original purchase price. If I was going to change it then I’d alter the look of the rear arches – there’s too much space between the tyre and the arch – but I’m not going to lower it since it sits just right. The suspension still requires some tweaking. I want the handling perfect for track use and it’s not quite there yet. With the supercharger fitted it needs more damping but currently they’re not adjustable and heat ingress is still a problem. But on the plus side it’s the most frightening car I’ve ever driven.”
Interior has been trimmed by Corbeau and fitted with a half cage and GT8 front seats with TRS harnesses.
DATA FILE Supercharged S2000 / #BMW-2002 / #BMW-2002-Supercharged / #BMW / #Rotrex / #Honda / #BBS / #BMW-2002-E10 / #BMW-E10 / #BMW-2002-Honda-S2000 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 1997cc #Honda-F20C engine from S2000, #Rotrex-C38-81 supercharger, #TTS mounting kit with eight-row poly vee pulleys, #CP-Carrillo 10:1 comp pistons, #Brian-Crowler steel con rods, #Deutsche-Werks 1000cc injectors, #Rotrex-supercharger oil system, reservoir, filter and radiator, #Emerald-ECU with dash switchable mapping, custom-made #Hayward-and-Scott stainless steel exhaust manifold and exhaust, pro-alloy baffled fuel tank with swirl pot and pumps, #Quaife-69G sequential ’box, E30 325i rear and M3 large case diff. 382hp, 306lb ft
CHASSIS 7x16” (front) and 8.5x16” (rear) #BBS-E50 three-piece magnesium wheels with 195/45 (front) and 215/40 (rear) Toyo Proxes TR1 tyres, #Ireland-Engineering race dampers, springs, strut braces and anti-roll bars, #Quaife Peugeot 205 quick rack with #DC-Electronics mappable electric #PAS
EXTERIOR Inca orange paint, Group 2 body kit, 2002 turbo front spoiler, Autoplas rear window louvre
INTERIOR Smiths gauges in custom dashboard, custom centre console, interior trimmed by Corbeau, GT8 front seats with TRS harnesses, BMW 635 rear seats, colour matched stitching and upholstered in Alcantara, half cage
THANKS Hanger 111 (www.hangar111.com), RJM Body Repairs (www.rjmbodyrepairs.co.uk / 01449 771962), Auto Shack (01394 548675)
Custom-made Hayward and Scott exhaust manifold connects to custom exhaust system; Magic Trees helped trace the source of fumes leaking into the interior.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGENERATION GAME / #BMW-M535i / #BMW-M535i-E28 / #BMW-M535i-Eaton-supercharged-E28 / #BMW-M535i-Rotrex-supercharged-E28 / #BMW-E28 / #BMW /
The UK’s only supercharged E28s are an impressively eclectic pair owned by an equally different father and son duo with a long-standing love of BMWs.
SUPERCHARGED UK E28s Classic Fives with power!
Owning the only two supercharged E28s in the UK, this father and son duo are the custodians of some seriously cool metal. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Woods.
BMW E28s are precious things. Long gone are the days when you could pick one up for £400 (like I once did) and with the vast majority of the shabby ones now having rusted away, those that remain need to be cherished. Whilst the E24 6 Series might be the obvious choice for those looking for something sleek and ‘sharky’ to slam, the E28 is currently getting lots of love, too. Last year no less than three bigpower classic Fives appeared in DRIVE-MY and there are plenty of extremely attractive examples around, like this pair, for example.
Kris Rourke and dad Jon are the custodians of this unlikely pair – one an exceptionally clean sleeper, the other more of a retro hot rod, with the two cars reflecting their owners’ personalities and motoring preferences.
The very clean red car belongs to Jon, with Kris driving the brown bad boy. While both cars are without doubt very different, they share one significant similarity: they are both supercharged. That elevates this pair from being merely modified to really rather special, not least because of how rare a thing a supercharged E28 is.
That father and son own E28s is unsurprising when you learn that Jon has been at it for years, which means Kris was destined to follow. “Dad’s always had BMWs and has had about six or seven E28s,” says Kris. “They were always in my life when I was growing up and my first car was a 2002ti, mum and dad’s 2002 in fact, which they gave me when I passed my test. It all started from there really. I’m also into Jap stuff and have had loads of J-tin, all modified and all with big power.” So the draw of another powerful, modified car was inevitable and the odds of it being a BMW were good.
Pay attention, because things get a bit complicated now. “Two years ago I had a Fiat Cinquecento and loved it but then my other half and I had a baby and I couldn’t get the baby seat in the car so it had to go. Dad had a blue M535i at the time so he gave me that as it was more practical and bought himself the red supercharged car. I then sold the blue one to buy dad’s red one, which is now my brown one, and when I started modding that dad realised he missed it and bought himself the red supercharged one he now owns.” Got it? Good.
For Jon, a London cabbie by trade, the appeal of the E28 is easy to see. “It’s a lovely retro classic car,” he says. “It stands out and it has road presence. All my previous E28s have been standard – as long as they go and work I’m happy,” he chuckles. “This red one is much more of a hooligan car, though. I was just looking around on eBay for interesting cars, spotted it and went for it. It had been in a garage for about seven or eight years and while the body was good, underneath it was rotten,” he says.
Not that you’d have any clue as to the car’s previous state of disrepair now thanks to the amount of time and money that Jon has invested in it. The whole floor has been repaired, as have the sills, while the suspension has been renewed and new brakes have been fitted. Jon also replaced the chrome exterior trim with Shadowline, while inside the original cloth seats have been replaced with leather Sport seats. Thankfully having a rust-free body meant one less area that needed attention and the red colour really looks fantastic on the E28. So too do the 17” Style 5s – easily one of the greatest wheel collaborations between #BBS and #BMW .
Of course, what’s really exciting here, on both these cars, is what’s under the bonnet, and these are the only two supercharged E28s in the UK. Jon’s car has the slightly more stock-looking engine bay, though there’s no missing the supercharger and its accompanying pipework. The kit here is a Jamsport setup, which cost whichever previous owner that decided to fit it a cool £6500, and uses a more traditional centrifugal supercharger.
This E28 may be no spring chicken but you can still appreciate the work that has gone into fabricating the pipework for the kit. It’s all expertly finished and assembled and there’s a lot of engineering squeezed into here. The most impressive part of this setup is the custom alloy rad, intercooler and associated pipework, which originally cost an eye-watering £5000 and comes courtesy of McLaren (hence the price tag and quality of the work itself). The FMIC is tucked behind the kidney grilles and ahead of the rad. On top of that sits an oil cooler for the supercharger, as this older design requires an external feed. It’s not for show, either, with Jon telling us that running at around 6-7psi it’s making 303whp, which is an awful lot of power in a car as light as the E28 and definitely makes it a bit of a handful. Not that he’s complaining, mind, he’s loved every minute of the 18 months he’s spent with the E28 – a long time for him as he likes to change his cars often.
And so we come to the brown E28, Kris’s rowdy, raucous, unashamedly showy counterpart to his dad’s more demure example. Kris was fortunate in that his E28 was in a better state, though as it had come from his dad that’s not much of a surprise. A quick glance at the exterior of the E28 is enough to tell you that there’s clearly something going on here. There’s a sort of rough-edged charm to the whole car, visible in the interior with its auxiliary gauges mounted on a bright red backing plate and that well-used Nardi steering wheel. Where the engine bay of the red E28 is a relatively discreet affair, on the brown car it’s much more of a mad scientist affair. What you’re looking at here is an extremely impressive home brew positive displacement supercharger setup.
In case you don’t know, a centrifugal supercharger produces more boost as engine speed increases, normally producing peak boost very near to the engine’s redline and where it would normally be producing peak power in naturally aspirated form. A positive displacement blower, like a Roots or twin-screw item, on the other hand, produces peak boost instantly, meaning you get massive low-end torque and immediate response from the engine when you put your foot down, making for awesome mid-range thump. Positive displacement superchargers are also a lot more complicated to fit.
Generally speaking they are large, bulky items that are traditionally mounted directly on a custom inlet manifold, feeding air into the engine via a chargecooler. In contrast, centrifugal superchargers are smaller and run cooler, so they can happily operate without any sort of intercooling. The fact that Kris’s car is running a positive displacement blower, an Eaton M90 to be precise, and a home-made installation at that, is very impressive.
Of course, the fact that it’s a homebrewed setup means that it wasn’t perhaps running as best as it could have been when Kris took over custody of the car. “I’ve improved a lot of things since I bought this E28,” he says. “It had no management for starters and was just running a fuel pressure regulator, so I fitted a Megasquirt ECU and had the cam blueprinted. I changed every boost hose and pipe and replaced the FMIC with a chargecooler.” This is that big metal box on the front left of the engine bay. It cools the intake air by passing it through a core filled with water, which is itself passed through and cooled by a heat exchanger mounted at the front of the engine bay, hidden beneath a clever lift-off panel. “This saw intake temperatures drop from 90ºC to 40ºC,” says Kris, “and I’m planning on adding methanol injection, which should bring them down to about 20ºC and help the engine make more power.”
The rather industrial-looking pipework under the bonnet is a bit of a maze but it all begins at the air filter which is shrouded in carbon and fed with cooling air via the hole in the front grille where the passenger-side high beam unit would normally sit. The air travels through the black flexi-pipe and into the supercharger inlet, then up through the outlet on top, round the back of the engine bay and into the chargecooler, through the core, and then into the original inlet manifold on top of the engine. The fact that the E28’s engine bay is quite capacious and allows for the supercharger to be mounted by the side of the engine and to feed into the original inlet manifold is a bonus. There’s a lot more beneath the bonnet beyond the supercharger, though, including a B35 Stage 3 head with bigger valves, a Schrick 296 cam and a Fritz’s Bitz exhaust manifold.
It’s a monstrously impressive installation but how does it perform? According to Kris, the car made 252whp, which is definitely enough to be getting on with, but also an amazing 350lb ft of torque at just 1800rpm, which is the beauty of a positive displacement blower. When Kris had nitrous on the car it ran an 11.8-second quarter-mile, which is extremely impressive and puts it in the company of cars like the Jaguar XJ220, Audi R8 V10 and Aston Martin V12 Vantage S.
“I took the nitrous off as I knew I would never really use it,” he continues. “I was too scared of blowing the engine up… but I might put it back on. I really want 400hp and the supercharger is holding the car back – it’s not making as much boost as it should and I need to run more boost to make more power.
I’m considering my options. I might rebuild the supercharger or I might go for a turbo conversion. It’s quite a lot of money but it would definitely mean I could hit 400hp. And I like the idea of having a turbo. I have 90% of the parts I need, so I’m almost ready.”
Of course, we can’t discuss Kris’s car without discussing its colour. It’s not paint or a wrap but is, in fact, Plasti Dip – the spray-on, peel-off rubbery coating that can provide a quick and easy way to change the colour of your car and then change it back again when you get bored! “I was approached by DipMyVehicle, who offered to dip my car for free in exchange for having it on the company’s stand at the Santa Pod show, so I went for it,” Kris explains. The colour is called Sunset bronze. Although it may look pretty brown when the light hits it there’s a subtle change in colour and you can see a light metallic element in the coating. Combined with the aggressive drop on Spax springs and black, 19” CSL-wheels it makes this E28 into a bit of a bad boy.
The brakes have also been uprated, with E34 540i discs and calipers front and rear running Mintex pads, while the gearbox is a 260/6 unit running the ratios from the E28 dog-leg transmission with a separate bellhousing, Black Diamond Stage 3 clutch, and modified centre donut on the propshaft.
Both cars have had a vast amount of time and effort devoted to them – Jon’s car on the bodywork and Kris’s on the mechanicals – but the results speak for themselves. E28s need love and attention so we’re delighted that this father and son team stepped up to the plate.
It’s a lovely retro classic car. It stands out and has road presence.
DATA FILE Eaton supercharged E28 M535i
3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 , compression ratio lowered to 8.1:1, #B35 Stage 3 head with 1mm bigger valves, #Schrick 296 cam, B35 inlet manifold, 550cc injectors, #Sytec FPR, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, 8-micron fuel filter, CDA carbon air box with cold air feed, custom crank pulley, #Eaton-M90 supercharger, ported top hat, custom charge cooler system, #Brownlow alloy radiator, Fritz’s Bits heat wrapped manifold and full system, #Megasquirt ECU running MS2. 252whp, 350lb ft wtq
/ #Getrag-260/6 gearbox with separate bellhousing, #Black-Diamond-Stage-3 clutch, modified centre donut on propshaft, factory #LSD / #Getrag-260
8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) M3 CSL wheels with 225/40 (front) and 245/35 (rear) Bridgestone tyres, #Bilstein gas dampers all-round, #Spax lowering springs, polyurethane front torque arm bushes, E34 540i discs and floating calipers front and rear, #Mintex racing pads all-round
Plasti Dipped in Sunset bronze over original #Zinnobar red, driver’s-side high beam removed for cold air feed, clear front and rear indicator lenses
Standard E28 M535i leather, three-spoke Nardi leather steering wheel, M5 gear knob, Innovative wideband #AFR gauge and boost gauge in centre pod
Paul Higgs, Ed at Fusion Motorsport and Justin from dipmyvehicle.com
DATA FILE Rotrex supercharged E28 M535i
3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 / #M30 / #BMW-M30 , #Rotrex supercharger, custom alloy radiator and intercooler system, 440cc injectors, #Gotech-Pro-X-ECU with custom wiring loom, #Ram air filter, Fritz’s Bits manifold and exhaust system. 303whp @ 7psi
Standard M535i dog-leg ’box, standard factory LSD
8.5x17” (front) and 9.5x17” (rear) #BBS-RC090 Style 5 wheels with 225/40 (front) and 245/40 (rear) tyres, #Bilstein dampers, uprated lowering springs, front and rear strut braces, #Black-Diamond drilled and grooved discs, EBC Redstuff pads
Zinnobar red, dechromed, clear front indicator lenses,
Standard M535i leather seats
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- Post is under moderationEXTRA RARE CITROEN BX 297bhp, supercharged GTi
This immaculate BX was saved from the scrappy and now makes a very healthy 297bhp... Words Midge. Photos: Matt Woods.
“There are so few of these cars left now, it’s even more impressive”
It could be argued that the #Citroen-BX-GTi-16V is one of the most underrated hot hatches of all time. It’s certainly one of the rarest. That’s not to say they didn’t make a few, between 1987 and 1993 they rolled-out around 3000 of ‘em, but the fact is nowadays there’s probably only about 30 left and, by anyone’s standards, that’s a pretty rapid demise. On the face of it this motor had all the performance credentials. Along with its ‘in-house’ brother, the Peugeot 405 Mi16, it was the first French car to be fitted with a 16V lump. It was slightly faster than the Pug too with a 0-60 time of 7.2-seconds and a top speed in excess of 140mph… and don’t forget that was way back in 1987. The special edition bits and pieces on the body, especially when it came to the 1990 Phase II model, were sweetly distinctive and the all-round disc brakes that had been fitted to the whole BX range since 1982 didn’t go unnoticed either. Some say it was ahead of its time. I’m pretty sure they’re right.
So, what happened to them all? You would think that enthusiasts would be all over these right? Well, the trouble is they’re unbelievably complex and, being from #Citroen , when they went wrong it was generally something a tad more expensive than a thermostat. Fitted with Citroen’s hydropneumatic suspension system (albeit one of the coolest inventions ever) it wasn’t exactly a car that was easy to fix and that’s probably why over the years many have donated their Mi16 innards to keep a 405 or the odd converted 205 ticking along. It just goes to show that sometimes being totally different to the competition doesn’t always help with longevity. And that’s a massive shame.
Of course the other reason may have a little to do with the styling. Like many of the older Citroens the BX has always been something of an acquired taste. Some, like myself, think the shape is extremely cool, in a retro kinda way. Others say these look like the bastard child of Robocop and your nan’s Zanussi washing machine. Either way there’s no denying they all have a face that only a mother could love.
Ian Nixon, the creator of this particular supercharged beast agrees with me on that. He fully admits he’s never been a fan of Citroens but equally he couldn’t step away from the serious performance the BX GTi 16 offers. “I hated them until I realised the potential. I tried to blow one of these off in my Audi 80 when I was a kid and before I looked round it was gone. I couldn’t believe it.” Years later Ian had a Xantia run-around and was impressed by the handling the hydropneumatic system serves up so, with that in mind, an old school BX build was always on the cards – the only trouble was finding one.
Locating a base car that’s rarer than a load of hen’s teeth nestling in a pile of rocking horse shite is one of those neighon impossible tasks. I guess Ian was lucky coming across a car collector that wasn’t exactly impressed with his. Then again ‘lucky’ is a relative term and a blown head gasket on the drive home kicked off an epic re-build quicker than he may have imagined.
Still, like many of us, Ian isn’t the type of fella to pull off a head, chuck on another gasket and leave it at that. Being an engineer and a bloke who looks after all sorts of highend exotica, race cars and performance motors he asked himself the eternal question “why just repair when you can improve?” And I suppose the rest is history.
If you read through the engine spec you’ll see it’s extensive to say the least. Even though Ian specifically states that on a car like this “everything’s a mission” he’s managed to squeeze 297bhp from the 1.9-litre lump with the help of everything from a fully re-worked head, forged internals and a custom Rotrex supercharger install. There’s even a 6-speed box conversion! What’s more, the real talent lies in how it’s all been put in – if you ignore the fact it’s not covered in oil like many an old Citroen out there, it almost looks factory. That’s not an easy task to pull off.
The rest of the car is just as immaculate because it’s taken nearly as much work as under the bonnet. Then again, you don’t go throwing 8-grand’s worth of lump in a 400-quid motor with over 20 owners on the logbook without wanting to sort out a few bits along the way. Ian contracted the bodywork out to a local restoration shop and I’d like to say the rest was easy, but unfortunately it wasn’t. With the car stripped and not a whole load of work completed in 6-months he actually had to go and get it back before they destroyed the whole thing.
Handily they managed to lose most of the special 16V parts too meaning Ian had to find another whole BX 16V, just to get the bits needed to compete the job. It was another seriously lucky find, even if the circumstances were a little infuriating. The second time around Ian enlisted the help of paint supremo Steve Bell, and after a serious amount of welding (yes, it’s a proper Citroen) and fettling it left the booth pretty much as you see it today. With the stunning Dolmen Grey respray and a few exterior touches it’s clear that he’s chosen to keep the styling true to the original. Even the 17-inch BBS wheels are somewhat reminiscent of the standard 14-inch Speedlines fitted at the factory. A subtle but undeniably nice touch.
In all, it’s not been the simplest of jobs but you have to commend Ian for his never-failing persistence. Without bringing that quality to the table this could have so easily been yet another BX 16V relegated to the scrappy. Instead he’s not only built himself one of the sweetest retro motors in the UK but, perhaps most importantly, he’s kept another super-rare French legend on the streets.
TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATIONS #1991 #Citroen-BX-GTi-16V-Phase-II / #Citroen-BX / #Citroen-BX-GTi
Engine: 1.9 #XU9J4DFW engine ( Mi16 ), stage 5, high flow head, big valve #Siamese ported cylinder head, #Kent-PT81 inlet cam/ PT82 exhaust, #Kent VS34 double valve springs and titanium retainers, Kent vernier pulleys, #Richard-Longman 4-1 manifold, #Cosworth-57X exhaust manifold fixing kit D6C block with #DFW pistons (comp 9:5:1), PEC performance H section light weight conrods with #ARP bolts, #Peugeot-Motorsport GPA 1:1 oil pump, Constella Sump baffle, Mocal oil breather system, #Accusump 4 quarts oil accumulator system, #Rotrex SP30/74 centrifugal supercharger, Pace charge cooler from RS turbo, Range Rover P38 intercooler, #Samco intake and discharge pipe work, #Baker BM coolant hoses, #Baker-BM engine hung mounts and solid stabiliser mount, Standard #Bosch-Motronic 4.1 ECU live mapped by Wayne Scofield of Chipwizards, #Astra-VXR injectors, #Sytec high flow fuel filter, Sierra #Cosworth GPA fuel pump, #FSE fuel pressure regulator.
Transmission: Peugeot 306 GTI-6 BE-6 gearbox, #Quaife-ATB differential, Royal Purple oil.
Chassis: 17-inch #BBS-RX alloys, 205/45 R17 tyres.
Interior: Standard 16v Le-Mans cloth trim, #VDO boost gauge, Quaife nylon gear knob.
Exterior: Extended bumpers to accommodate intercooler, additional air intake on NSF wing, fog lights removed and turned into brake ducts, steel bonnet, Mk3 Golf gas bonnet struts, resprayed respray in original Citroen Dolmen Grey.
Thanks Steve Bell for the paintwork, Peter Greenwood for the fibreglassing expertise, Wayne Schofield for the mapping and advice and Jackie for spanner passing, making tea and towing around the country on trailer.
“I hated them until I realized the potential...”
Period interior is also in decent nick. #BBS 17s look almost OEM.
The fat pipe gives you a clue...
Mi16 unit makes 297bhp.
“There are so few of these cars left now, it’s even more impressive”
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- Post is under moderationFULL 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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- Post is under moderationLET’S GET REDDY TO RUMBLE - BMW M3 E46
Most of us buy mods for our cars, not cars for our mods, but Rahul Reddy bought his E46 M3 with three reasons in mind: a riotous #Kreis-Sieg F1 tuned exhaust, rare 19” RAC Monolite RG41 rims and as close to 500bhp on stock internals as safely possible; all to terrorise the highways of New Jersey. Words: Neil. Hunt Photos: Adam Kahn.
The way we see it, you’re either into modifying or you’re not. There are no half measures. You either get the raging horn from a set of deepdishes or you see them as excess and frown: “What’s wrong with the normal wheels, anyway?” Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you fall into the first group (well, we had to check). But our man Rahul Reddy here wasn’t interested in modified cars until he fell head over heels for the E46 when it came out. We’ll let him do the talking: “I’ve had a few Beemers before this and ever since the days of the #E30 and ##E34, , I’d dreamed of owning a BMW. I told myself to work at it and it would become a reality. I test-drove a #1999 E46 #328i and fell in love straight away.”
That car, however, remained as it was when it first left the factory, with Rahul citing his only tool-wielding experiences as gingerly swapping a set of blown bulbs. He graduated to the M3 after a disappointing stint with a 4.3-litre #Mercedes-Benz CLK: “The M3 is everything the Mercedes wasn’t. I completely adore it,” he grins.
So how do you go from regular cleaning and maybe occasionally topping up the washer fluid to a slammed ride rolling on hand-made rims and nearly 500bhp? We asked our convert to explain: “I had lusted after the M3 for a long time and just wanted to fulfil my dream. In August #2004 that became real, and so did the fully-loaded $60k price tag. Since then I’ve probably spent at least another $40k. So far…” That’s 51 grand in total to you and me and just £8550 off the price of a 2006 M3 in the UK. We’re missing out on something here!
Like many of us, Rahul was keen to be part of the club, but an individual within it. He wanted to be different to everyone else and put his own twist on his car. And those custom touches don’t come any more exclusive than the shopping list we’ve got here. All the dream choice add-ons are present and the first one to answer the roll call are those amazing and utterly delicious rims. If you don’t know much about RAC, then listen up wheel whores because they’re the closest thing a BMW fan can get to a bespoke set of rims. Like the world’s finest Cubans, cigars that is not high heeled men’s shoes (should we be worried Neil? – Ed Drive-MY) rolled on the thighs of virgins, these wheels are the hand-rolled creations of the #BMW wheel world. RAC’s Monolite wheels have been developed by a couple of E46 nuts that understand what people like me, you and Rahul need.
You can shove your mass-produced wheels in the Panama Canal, we want these. When wheels get this big they can be detrimental to a car’s acceleration, handling and braking, so not only did they have to be lightweight but they had to be a classic style which would suit the exquisite lines of the Bavarian super saloon and, practically, they had to clear Brembo calipers. More importantly perhaps, RAC Monolites are perfect for the, how can we put it, ‘enthusiastic’ driver. What we’re saying here is these bad boys are as at home looking refined and classy on the street as they are hangin’ hard inside raped rubber at the track.
And speaking of the track, Rahul feels the RAC love so much he even has a set of 18s for the circuit. You can see where this is heading. Lightweight race wheels were just the start, as Rahul was somewhat hooked on the BMW tuning scene. Soon the urge for more power was eating away at his conscience and a chat with the guys at Rogue Engineering sealed the fate of the M3. While Rahul wanted more power, you have to remember his car was brand new when he started building it. To make the most of the stock internals, the team at Rogue recommended the Active Autowerke supercharger conversion. Reputed to have pioneered the first proven supercharger conversion for the E46, the process of bolting the Rotrex blower on the side of the six-shooter motor has been dyno’d over and over again to give proven #E46 M3 Carbon – the only dressing for something as exclusive as the M3’s cabin reliability and big bhp.
So as you can imagine, there wasn’t any other setup for Rahul and his M3. The Stage 1 kit, which uses a Rotrex C38-71 supercharger is bolted to an AA intake manifold and blowing 7psi of boost through an alloy intercooler. Fuel is fired into the engine through uprated injectors and to help the additional load on the motor, an external oil cooler is fitted too. It’s no good just bolting the ’charger to the engine without the management throwing a strop, though. Additional uprated fuel and ignition settings are controlled using Generation 3 AA Alpha-N custom software. All this adds up to an impressive power output of 478bhp and 383lb ft of torque. These figures drop the sprint to 60mph time to only 4.3 seconds. The management remap junks the restrictions to mean the only speed limiter is Rahul’s right foot and the rapidly approaching horizon. “I’m happy for now,” grins Rahul, “but that’s not to say I might just get the itch for more power.” If he does, AA is happy to sort him with a Stage 2 or Stage 3 upgrade to effortlessly take power to safely over 500bhp.
If the big-boosting supercharger soundtrack, laid over the M3 howl isn’t enough aural sex for your ears, Rahul insisted on the pinnacle of exhaust systems. The Kreis-Sieg F1 VT system is unique in giving performance and sound control to the driver. For tame driving, the Normal mode sees the exhaust gases take a normal route through the exhaust’s 70mm diameter system and catalysts. Flick the dash switch controlling the butterfly valves in the exhaust and you’ll unleash F1 mode. This path bypasses both silencer chambers sending the gases straight from the manifold to the rear tips. F1 Mode gives the best possible bhp gain with an F1 sound to trumpet your arrival.
The aggressive tuning is matched with the stunning RAC rims, but Rahul’s not stopped there. No, this M3 has benefited from a generous coating of carbon fibre with Vorsteiner’s line of CSL replica styling. Colour-coded to the car, our man reckons this part of the project was quite a time consuming task: “It was probably one of the most involved jobs on the car. It required a lot of prep work to get the finish that was critical to me. They had to match perfectly.”
With an exhaust which Rahul describes as “not sounding like anything on the market” and 478bhp to play with, his two years’ work is worth it, especially passing any mirrored shop window. But when the slow moving city traffic has gone and the road opens, Rahul’s not hung about. “My most fun with the car was on an abandoned road where I just pushed and pushed to take the car close to its limits. It felt amazing. Until the day I don’t wear this massive grin, the car will continue to amaze me.”
ENGINE: 3.0-litre straight-six #M54 with Active Autowerke Generation 3 Stage 1 supercharger utilising a #Rotrex C38- 71 trim unit (7psi) with 75mm pulley, Alpha-N custom software engine management, Active Autowerke cast intake manifold, front-mounted air-to-air intercooler, bypass valve, larger injectors and spark plugs, mass air meter housing and oil cooler, K&N air filter, #M3-CSL manifold and Supersprint race cats, Meisterschaft second pipe, Kreis-Sieg cat back #F1 Valvetronic exhaust. Rogue Engineering oil filter lid.
CHASSIS: 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) anthracite RAC Monolite RG41 wheels shod in 265/30 and 275/30 Michelin PS2 Pilot Sport tyres respectively. FK Konigsport coilovers and Ground Control anti-roll bars. #Brembo Gran Turismo 15” kit (front) with 380mm drilled discs and four-pot custom #Ferrari Fly yellow calipers and 13.6” kit (rear) with 345mm drilled discs and two-pot calipers, Goodridge stainless steel brake lines all round.
EXTERIOR: Vorsteiner GTR carbon fibre bonnet, CSL-style bumper and one-piece race lip, bootlid and rear diffuser painted Silver grey, Strassentech carbon fibre roof spoiler and side vents. Bimmian.com matt black kidney grille and body colour-coded keyhole cover, 50% #3M tinted windows, Depo smoked corner indicators, Solaris Invisibulbs, Jlevi. com enhanced DDEs and #XTEC 6000k HID headlights.
INTERIOR: Carbon fibre interior trim, handbrake handle, steering wheel trim, SMG Dome, Valentineone.com 1 hardwired ICE: Three 10” LCD monitors and a pair of 10” JL Audio W6 subs “My most fun was on an abandoned road, I just pushed it to its limits. Until the day I don’t wear this massive grin, the car will continue to amaze me”.
Carbon – the only dressing for something as exclusive as the M3’s cabin.
Active Autowerks’ Stage 1 ’charger yields nearly 500bhp, enough for now but will Rahul be craving for more?
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