- Post is under moderationThe hottest E36 – the brilliant M3 R White Gold.
One of the rarest of all E36 M3s, and some might say the best, came from Australia: the brilliant M3 R. The very best E36 M3 didn’t come from Europe, or America… it came from a land Down Under. Words and photography: Chris Nicholls.
Mention special E36 M3 derivatives and most people’s minds will inevitably go to the M3 GT or Lightweight. After all, these sold in relatively large numbers and, thanks to being designed for BMW’s two largest markets (Europe and the US respectively), got the most media exposure. However, the rarest, most powerful E36 M3 ever made (GTR aside) didn’t come from either of those continents. It came from the relatively tiny market of Australia, where, in #1995 , a highly talented group of people from both within and outside the company came together to build 15 very special M3s. These came to be known as the M3 Rs.
Now, some of our regular readers may already know about the M3 R, especially as we featured another one back in (March 2006), but given the time gap, we thought it was best to look at it again because it is without a doubt one of the best factory M3s ever made.
The M3 R story first dates back to mid-1993, when BMW Australia investigated the possibility of building a near race-spec M3 for the road, the idea being that they could be sold to enthusiasts who tracked their cars on the weekend or even competed in state and national events. The payoff for BMW Australia being a homologation special that it could develop for Australian GT Production car racing.
Having been given the green light, the local BMW team worked closely with the legendary Paul Rosche, then M GmbH’s head of motorsport, and team members from the famous Australian Frank Gardner’s outfit, who ran the Australian M Team at the time, to help design, develop and spec the cars. It’s worth noting before we go any further that one of the Gardner staffers was Ralph Bellamy, whom older readers and F1 nuts may remember as chief engineer at Brabham, McLaren, Lotus (where he, along with Colin Chapman, Peter Wright and Martin Ogilvie invented ground effects), Lola and Fittipaldi, before moving onto BMW M to work on the international Super Tourer programme. So, as you can see, when we said a highly-talented group of people helped make this car, we weren’t lying.
As for the car BMW Australia ended up producing, it really was a road-going racer. The air conditioning and stereo were removed (although, as usual, owners could refit them) and sound deadening, central locking, foglights, rear seats and the on-board tool kit all went, too. Even with the standard twin fire extinguishers (although obviously not the optional bolt-in roll-cage) the end result was a car that weighed nearly 200kg less in its most hardcore form than a stock M3.
Of course, the modifications didn’t end there. The engine gained more aggressive camshafts, shorter intake trumpets and a different cold air intake that drew from where the driver’s side fog light used to be, as well as a Motorsport-designed sump and dual oil pick-ups to avoid the common S50 30B starvation issue. On top of that came a lighter flywheel (matched to either an AP Racing 7.25-inch sintered twin-plate racing clutch or a cerametallic twin-plate for road use) and new management software to yield an overall output of 325hp – more than any non-GTR E36 M ever sold elsewhere. It goes even harder than the weight and power would suggest, too, thanks to a shorter-than-standard 3.25:1 final drive ratio.
Unsurprisingly, the brakes also copped significant upgrades in the form of AP Racing four-piston callipers, two-piece vented rotors, Pagid RS 4-4 pads and front cooling ducts that ran from holes next to the now-deleted foglights. As for the suspension, almost every part was replaced with Group N Motorsport parts, right down to the hubs, which run different length studs (not bolts) front and rear to hold the unique 17-inch staggered BBS wheels. To ensure the looks matched the potential, the team also fitted the M3 GT body kit in its entirety, plus the Super Touring dual-level rear wing and a sliding front splitter. The whole lot was assembled at the BMW Australia Performance Driving Centre under the close supervision of M engineers and Ralph Bellamy himself. Three completed cars went to the local M Team for competition use and the remaining 12 were made available to the general public.
However, in keeping with the whole ‘race car for the road’ thing, only members of the general public armed with a CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motorsport) racing licence could buy one, unless they were willing to undertake the relevant training and tests before delivery.
As you can see, the M3 R is thus a rare and incredibly desirable special edition. One designed to maximise driving pleasure both on road and track, and in the sole colour available (Alpine white III), quite the stunner.
The owner of this particular example (number 14 of 15) is very well aware of just how special it is, too. Ian Burke has been a BMW enthusiast for many years, starting with an E46 323i in 2000, before moving up to an E46 330i three years later. These two impressed him enough that he bought an E92 335i sight unseen before they arrived in the country when the lease on his 330i expired, after which he upgraded to an E92 M3, which he still owns. Burke also has an original M Roadster, has done a factory tour and visited BMW Welt and would have bought an F80 M3, too, until a test-drive convinced him it was “a bit too boy racer-ish” for him. Thus, when he says it provides a special driving experience, you know he’s not wrong: “It’s a treat to drive. I would say on the open road it’s got better shock absorption and handling than my E92 M3. When you go over a bump the shocks absorb everything – they’re quite amazing. It handles extremely well, too. I’ve had it around Sandown Raceway a couple of times, and the performance is not like a modern-day car, although it’s still pretty quick, but the point is that it’s good around there because the braking is so superior to a modern saloon car. You can get the brakes red hot and really stamp on them into a corner and the whole suspension is race-tuned.”
How Burke came to own this car is a lovely piece of father-son serendipity as well. Burke isn’t really a tech guy – he has no social media accounts at all – but his son, Andrew, like most people his age, is on the web a lot. And unsurprisingly spends a large portion of that time looking at cars. Thus, a while after purchasing his M Roadster, Burke got an email from his son telling him about this example, which at the time resided in Sydney, complete with a link to the advert. “I looked at it and thought it looks pretty cool and that it could be a reasonable investment and a nice car to get around in so I went up to Sydney to see it,” he says.
The shop selling it was called Classic Throttle Shop, a renowned establishment which houses a huge number of special cars at any one time. Upon visiting, Burke senior was impressed enough by the car that he bought it on the spot and had it shipped back down to his home in Melbourne.
Not that the car was perfect, of course. The steering wheel leather had a small cut in it, which necessitated refurbishing, and many of the rubber seals were in such bad condition that they had to be replaced. This perishing and the fact the car had only done 17,000km at the time of purchase suggested that the car had previously spent a lot of time in a garage but as it ran fine and all the other components seemed alright Burke wasn’t bothered.
Once freshened-up, Burke made a couple of small changes to suit his personal taste and needs. First was swapping out the intake system for a lovely Gruppe M carbon number, purchased simply because he liked the noise. Second was the clutch. Apparently the original race-spec version was “virtually undriveable in the city”, so he changed it to a UUC model with a solid lightweight flywheel and an E34 M5 sprung disk.
Now, keen-eyed M3 nuts might also spot the car came with some non-standard modifications that Burke didn’t make, namely the Remus exhaust and an unknown brand thick alloy strut bar, as well as the original radio/cassette player and air-con, but all of these are minor changes and should he ever desire, Burke can always swap everything back to stock-spec pretty easily, especially as every component on the car has an official BMW part number.
Rather amusingly, there is one extra part Burke does own that he’d love the put on the car more regularly, but certain family members won’t allow it: a custom numberplate. “I’ve actually got a Victorian licence plate ‘E36 M3R’ but I’m not allowed to put it on because I’d look too much of a tosser,” he says. That said, Burke readily admits that “you’ve got to fly under the radar when you own a car like this”, so he isn’t too fussed – especially as he is allowed to bolt the private ’plate on when he attends the odd #BMW Car Club of Victoria meet.
“The BMW people know what it is without the ’plates,” Burke grins, “and, of course, when you lift the bonnet up, their eyes pop out of their head when they see the originality of the engine. It’s even got all the original stickers.”
Remarkably, given his penchant for regular spirited drives, Burke has only put about 4000km on it in the three year’s he’s owned it, but then he also has his M Roadster and E92 M3 on offer as toys, and his daily driver is a VF Holden ute (“it’s so damn convenient to throw all your rubbish in the back”), so perhaps the low number of kilometres travelled are less surprising in that regard.
As for the future, Burke says he plans to “just sit on it”, especially as S50 engines are so hard to come by these days, and eventually he’ll pass it onto his son. No doubt Burke junior will enjoy driving it as much as his old man.
“It’s a treat to drive. I would say on the open road it’s got better shock absorption and handling than my E92 M3”
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3-R / #BMW-M3-R-E36 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-S50 / #S50 / #S50B30 / #BMW-M3 / #Getrag / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E36
ENGINE: 2990cc, DOHC S50 30B straight-six, cast iron block, 24-valve alloy head, 10.8:1 compression ratio, 264-degree inlet cam, 265-degree exhaust cam, oil restrictor in head, Motorsport sump, twin oil pick-ups, Motorsport air filter and intake pipe, Motorsport lightened flywheel (currently UUC solid lightened), Remus exhaust, updated engine management software
MAX POWER: 325hp @ 7200rpm
MAX TORQUE: 258lb ft @ 4400rpm
DRIVELINE: #Getrag-420G six-speed manual, #AP-Racing CP2961 7.25-inch twin-plate sintered (road/race) or #AP-Racing-CP4112 cerametallic twin-plate (road). Currently fitted with #UUC Stage 2 Ultimate clutch with E34 M5 sprung disk. Standard clutch master cylinder with travellimiting stop, E34 M5 driveshaft, 3.25:1 final drive ratio
SUSPENSION: Motorsport Group N Bilstein dampers, Motorsport Group N springs, Motorsport Group N upper and lower spring plates, Motorsport Group N struts (f), Motorsport Group N upper and lower wishbones (r), Motorsport Group N adjusting sleeves, Motorsport Group N damping sleeves, Motorsport Group N hubs with studs (f&r), aftermarket strut bar (f)
BRAKES: AP Racing four-piston front callipers with twopiece vented rotors (f&r), Pagid RS 4-4 pads (RS12 optional), front brake cooling ducts
WHEELS AND TYRES: 7.5x17-inch ET37 (f) and 8.5x17- inch ET41 (r) #BBS mesh wheels with 225/45 (f) and 245/40 (r) Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 tyres
INTERIOR: Anthracite M cloth/Amaretta suede trim, aircon delete, radio/cassette delete (both since re-installed), rear seat delete, central locking delete, sound deadening removed, twin fire extinguishers (driver’s side removed for convenience), spare wheel delete, jack and wheel brace delete, toolkit delete, boot floor mats and trim delete, limited edition plaque under handbrake
EXTERIOR: M3 GT body kit, Motorsport sliding front splitter, Motorsport Super Touring dual-level rear wing, foglight delete (driver’s side replaced with air intake vent)
“Their eyes pop out of their head when they see the originality of the engine. It’s even got all the original stickers”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCUSTOM E36 Wide-body and #S50-swap
With its custom, handmade, wide-arch bodywork, the eye-popping Unique Customs E36 certainly lives up to its name. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andy Tipping.
BODY WORK Custom wide-body S50-swapped E36
Not all enthusiasts are hands-on enough to get down and dirty when it comes to modifying their BMs. But there are some who really build their projects, assembling the whole thing in a driveway or garage and being personally involved with the entire project. However, for some people that’s still not enough; people like Chris Pattrick, for example, owner of Unique Customs (www.unique-customs.co.uk). When it came to building his E36 M3 project car, he went the extra mile of actually making his own body panels!
We first spotted Chris’ E36 at the Santa Pod BMW show back in 2015 and it really stood out from the crowd, mainly thanks to that, appropriately enough, unique widebody kit which was not only a pretty outlandish thing to behold but also exceptionally well-built and finished. That was before we even spotted the wheels, the interior or realised that there was an S50 under the bonnet, making it as much about performance as it is styling. It’s a comprehensive package for sure and one which has the added appeal of being a unique build, which is not something many people can say about their car.
Chris has spent plenty of his 25 years playing with various cars, including a Saxo and a Peugeot 106, along with a spate of VWs. That was going great until a Caddy project which had got right up to the paintwork stage before Chris realised it must have had a significant front-end shunt at some point in its life as none of the panels would line up. “I stormed out of the bodyshop,” he says, “and, having recently bought an E90 320d as a daily and liking how it drove compared with VWs, I decided to get myself an E36 as a toy and new project.
The car started out life as a 323i and I found it online; it was in good condition with no rust and nice wheels and just needed paint really. It was exactly what I was after and perfect for what I had in mind.”
Most of what Chris had in mind was in regards to bodywork, which is what took up most of the work that went into the project as a whole. “We started working on the body one panel at a time. I just had a vision of what I wanted it to look like. We handcrafted everything from start to finish which took us around ten months in total. The main problem I had when it came to doing the body was deciding what would actually suit it. It’s all well and good spotting parts on another car and deciding whether or not you like them, but when you’re actually starting from scratch and making body panels by hand, you’re putting a lot of time into them and so you’re constantly thinking ‘is it enough?’ or ‘is too over the top?’ and trying to reach a happy medium.”
If you prefer your BMWs leaning towards the more subtle, standard end of the styling spectrum then Chris’ creation probably won’t be for you but in terms of making an impact and showing off what Unique Customs is all about, it definitely hits the spot. The most attention-grabbing elements are without doubt the wings, the front ones being a two-piece design with those aggressive vents, and all four are significantly wider than stock – 30mm a side up front and 50mm each at the rear, which equates to an extra 10cm, four-inches of total width at the back.
The front bumper has been fitted with a deep chin splitter and there’s a vented bonnet up front along with a set of modified headlights sporting a Unique Customs shroud kit, which looks great. Side skirts and flair blades beef up the car’s flanks and the rear has undergone extensive restyling, with Unique Customs rear bumper extensions, rear diffuser with fins and a pronounced ducktail spoiler. Additional exterior finishing touches include gunmetal grey trims and a matt grey roof wrap, both of which make a nice change from black.
Obviously with that sort of visual heavy artillery on board Chris needed to make sure his E36 sat right and had the right wheels to fill out those massive arches: “I went for HSD coilovers, which offer up a nice but firm drive and with the polybushes the car drives really well. I also added E46 bottom arms as I love the way they kick the wheels out but keep them really flat on full lock.”
Speaking of wheels, there was only one choice here as far as Chris was concerned: “I’ve always loved the Z3 M Style 40 alloys, but only the rears, so I knew I had to get a set of four rears for this car. It took some doing as the wheels are getting rare, so I had to buy two sets to achieve the look I wanted.” It was definitely worth the effort, though, as they look awesome and, most importantly, do a fantastic job of filling out those fat arches.
When it came to the interior, stock certainly wouldn’t do and it needed to tie in with the exterior styling. “I decided that the stripped-out look would be perfect,” says Chris. “The roll-cage was a pain, though, as it needed painting and fitting in the car before the car itself could be painted as we did not want the car getting damaged while fitting the cage. John at Unique Customs painted it and it came out amazing.”
The cage in question is a six-point OMP item finished in white with extra door bars and an extra rear bar, while the pair of Cobra Monaco leather seats, which are fitted with TRS harnesses and sit on Sparco subframes, are the only ones you’ll find in the car as the rears have long since been disposed of, along with the rear alloy bulkhead. Other interior modifications include an alloy passenger footrest and Total Dynamic Motorsport doorcards.
So that’s all the style taken care of, but what about the substance? Now that’s where that 3.0-litre S50 swap comes in because as good as the 323i’s M50 is, it’s not as good as the M3’s spectacular ’six. “I bought an M3 engine and running gear and switched everything over into the E36. While I was doing it I also gave the engine some new parts, seals and removed the secondary air pump. There were also a lot of split air pipes around the engine so we changed those as well as having the Vanos rebuilt and changing all the sensors around engine.”
Suitably refreshed, the engine was dropped in along with an aluminium rad, a set of Samco hoses, a K&N air filter and a stainless steel exhaust, finished off with a pair of suitably large upturned tips. The fivespeed gearbox, meanwhile, has been fitted with an uprated clutch and braided clutch hose and lightened 4kg flywheel. With the E36 finished, Chris is planning to move on to either a 1 Series or an E30 and, judging by this E36, we can’t help but wonder what the next build is going to look like. Purists and those of a nervous disposition won’t be fans of this E36, but in terms of making a statement and getting noticed it’s the perfect machine and, most importantly of all, Chris has built the car he wanted and it is something truly unique.
“I bought an M3 engine and running gear and switched everything over into the E36”
DATA FILE Unique Customs E36 / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-S54 / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #S50B30 / #BMW-S30 / #ZF / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW / #BMW-M-Style-40 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six S50B30 , #K&N air filter, stainless steel exhaust system, #Samco hoses, alloy radiator, #ZF-Type-C five-speed manual gearbox, lightened 4kg uprated flywheel, uprated clutch, braided clutch line
CHASSIS 9x17” (f&r) BMW Z3 M Style 40 wheels with 215/40 (f&r) Nankang Ultrasport NS2 tyres, HSD coilovers, E46 bottom arms, front and rear strut braces, fully polybushed, EBC RedStuff pads (f&r), drilled and grooved discs (f&r), braided brake hoses (f&r)
EXTERIOR Unique Customs vented bonnet, vented two-piece front wing kit 30mm wider per side, front deep chin splitter Evo lip, side skirts and flair blades, rear overfenders 50mm wider per side, rear bumper extensions, rear diffuser with fins, rear ducktail spoiler, modified headlights with Unique Customs shroud kit, LED light upgrade and xenons, gunmetal grey tims, matt grey roof wrap
INTERIOR Six-point OMP roll-cage with extra door bars and extra rear bar, Cobra Monaco leather seats on Sparco subframes, TRS harnesses, alloy passenger footrest, alloy rear bulkhead delete, Total Dynamic Motorsport plastic doorcards
THANKS John at Unique Customs for all the paint work and Joe Graver for all the mechanical work
Custom exhaust is finished off with a pair of suitably-sized tips; rear bulkhead has been removed and an extra brace has been fitted.
Interior is now home to a pair of Cobra seats and an OMP cage.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationNUMBER CRUNCHING 1040whp turbo E36 M3
We see a lot of modified cars here at PBMW but a 1000hp E36 M3 is something that never fails to impress… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andreas Wibstad.
They say that you shouldn’t chase numbers when building a car. You should build a car that will drive well and suit your needs rather than delivering big peak power but becoming undriveable in the process. Of course, if you happen to be building a car where big power is your need, then why not aim high and punch through the 1000hp barrier? It’s the sensible thing to do.
If we told you that Ole Ivar Seem, the owner of this E36, comes from Norway you probably wouldn’t be surprised because it would seem that Scandinavians have a predisposition for building stupidly powerful cars. And, unlike those of us having to find time during evenings and weekends to work on our cars due to our 9-5s taking up the vast majority of our time, Ole works on offshore oil platforms, which means he works hard but then has plenty of time to play hard when he’s back on dry land. And play hard he does.
Funnily enough Ole says that while he’d always liked BMWs he didn’t become properly interested in them until about 2003, when Vidar Strand from V.S Motor hit 1000hp with his E34 M5. That got his attention and got him thinking about the possibilities of what could be achieved with a BMW. And judging by one of his previous projects – a 426hp Sierra Cosworth, which was featured in our ex-sister title Performance Ford back in 2003 – it was clear that unless big power could be achieved Ole wasn’t interested. Of course, his first #BMW project was never going to make anywhere near that power output, being as it was an ’1986 E30 320i, but then again Ole only bought it for a bit of winter fun and threw a few mods at it. However, it started the sequence of events that mean we’re now standing here today with his 1000hp E36 M3.
With the Cosworth sold and a lump sum burning a hole in his pocket, Ole cast his car-catching net to see what he could snag. That’s when he came across this M3. “I found the car on a BMW forum here in Norway,” he explains. “It was a virtually completed street build with lots of good parts but that looked completely stock on the outside. Initially the plan was really to run with the parts that were on it but a thought crossed my mind about building a car for Gatebil Extreme [Gatebil’s own time attack and racing series]. After driving the car for a bit back in summer 2008, I got problems with water in the oil, leaking between the pyramid rings and water channels. So the real story of the car and engine you see today started when I picked up the phone to Vidar at V.S Motor.
“The motor building began with solving the problem of water in the oil. Vidar had a separate patent which, in principle, removes the head gasket and uses rings in a special metal. Vidar also fitted new custom cams from V.S Motor, new custom V.S Motor pistons, uprated Pauter con rods built to V.S Motor’s specifications, stainless steel valves, tighter valve springs and he did a general update of the whole engine. He then put it on the dyno bench at V.S to get it mapped properly. With it running perfectly we went for a power run and it made 772hp and 723lb ft of torque at 1.3bar, but tremendous back pressure on the exhaust side prevented any more power. The problem was an exhaust manifold that was not quite optimal and a Turbonetics turbo that was completely the wrong setup. I drove the rest of the summer and next spring running this setup but I was bothered by the fact that it did not deliver optimally when I knew I could get much more from the engine.
“After a few more conversations with Vidar we agreed that he should build a new manifold and a new turbo, then test it. The engine was ready in April 2011. This tested Vidar’s patience to the limit as it’s really cramped around the engine for building a manifold. You really need a lot of space. I think someone would have to pay him a lot of money to do this again!” laughs Ole. “On test day the engine really stood up to our demands, and on E85 fuel it delivered 1039hp and 817lb ft of torque at 2.1bar. You can say we were delighted with it.” And who wouldn’t be with over 1000hp on tap? But Ole and Vidar weren’t finished with the engine just yet. “In summer of last year we found out that we were going to start with new fuel as E85 was phased out from petrol stations in Norway, so we chose to use the Ignite E98 race ethanol fuel that Vidar sells.
We counted on a power increase so in July 2015, before going to the E30 meet in Rudskogen. I went with Vidar to Jonus Racing to run the car on the dyno. After roughly four to five hours of fine-tuning, the numbers that it put down really made our eyes pop! We got 1040whp and 855lb ft wheel torque which, when converted to power at the crank, becomes 1196hp and 959lb ft at 2.2bar. It goes without saying that were extremely pleased with this outcome,” smiles Ole.
We would be too. That’s an absolutely monstrous amount of power, especially considering he’s still running the 3.0-litre S50. That works out at 399hp per litre; that’s like the E39 M5, with its 4.9-litre V8, making all of its power from a 1.0-litre engine, which is a bit mental when you break it down like that. As far as engine spec is concerned, we simply haven’t got the space to go through all of it here, just take a look at the spec list and you’ll see it’s exactly as long as you would expect it to be on a powerful engine like this. Highlights include the Precision billet 7675 turbo – such a key part of this incredible build, adjustable cam pulleys, a Tial 60mm wastegate, 4.5” downpipe, 3.5” Edgeperformance exhaust, ARP bolts, a 26-row oil cooler, custom header tank, Griffin radiator, custom 6” thick intercooler, 580lph Aeromotive lift pump, twin A1000 fuel pumps, and a set of six absolutely ridiculous 1699cc flow matched fuel injectors. All of which is really just scratching the surface. It’s as heavy-duty a build as you can imagine.
You can’t just make a 1000hp engine, stuff it into an E36 M3 and hope for the best because things would go south in a big way almost immediately. You need to put in just as much work on the transmission and chassis fronts to make sure everything works in perfect harmony. There’s no messing about when it comes to the gearbox on this car, with Ole fitting a Sellholm MPG sequential ’box made specifically for this car and combined with a Tilton 7.25” threeplate, 26 spline rally clutch and Alcon hydraulic release bearing. A 3” chromoly propshaft rated to 1500hp delivers all that turbocharged power to a modified 210 diff from a 3.2 M3 sitting on reinforced mounts, and a pair of 38mm driveshafts.
As for the suspension, well, we’ll let Ole explain: “Everything under the car is solid mounted or uses aluminium uni ball components. I run custom road coilovers from Sellholm Tuning made specifically for the weight of the car and supporting chassis mods. These include: Sellholm Tuning front and rear fully adjustable blade anti-roll bars; custom front suspension turrets and custom adjustable top mounts; Turner Motorsport aluminium bushes and rear lower control arms; and PeeBee Motorsport adjustable rear upper control arms.
“When it came to choosing the parts, Vidar knew exactly what was required, having been involved in so many builds, not to mention his racing experience. I trust him 100% and he is the man to talk to when one is stuck with ideas or problems, although these phone calls can be expensive. That’s how I ended up with the sequential gearbox!” With over 1000hp on tap, you need some seriously big brakes to haul the E36 down from the sort of speed it can achieve, and Ole hasn’t cut any corners here. Up front, eight piston K-Sport calipers have been fitted, clamping 355mm discs, while at the rear sit six-pot calipers with 330mm discs and EBC’s BlueStuff track day pads have been fitted all-round. Wheel choice was guided by necessity rather than aesthetics, as you’d expect on a build like this. “The choice of rims came after lots of searching on forums and chatting with acquaintances in the racing world. To make most of the rubber on the ground, without extending the arches or anything like that, the wheels had to be lightweight, withstand a lot punishment and with widths matching the chassis. I chose the Apex EC-7 as there were really no other wheels that matched the car. They fitted well with the look that I had in mind for the car.”
The tough, lightweight wheels measure 9x18” up front and 9.5x18” at the rear and are mounted on the car via a set of NMS Racing 75mm studs.
Just by glancing at the outside of this E36 you’d really be hard pressed to tell what’s going on beneath the surface as Ole has kept everything looking extremely stock. “My goal has always been to retain the original lines that I like so much,” he says. “Generally original but sassy, a look with a little more muscle. There’s a fully removable carbon bonnet, a carbon sunroof blank and the only change to the body itself is that the rear wheel arches have been rolled.”
Of course, the interior is another matter entirely and there was only ever going to be one direction to take it in. “The choice was easy,” says Ole. “It should be for racing! It had to be as light as possible and, ideally, with parts that no one else in Norway or Europe had tried before. Plenty of time went into building the roll-cage, which was done by a colleague and myself with Vidar providing all the technical information. It is made from about 80 metres of chromoly 4130 tubes and has been built down towards the chassis to really get it rigid, to the suspension turrets, to the diff and many other reinforcements against the chassis, which you can’t see in the pictures. In reality it is a tubular frame inside the car.”
Beyond that there’s a QSP steering wheel mounted on a Sparco Group N quick-release steering boss, Cobra Suzuka seats with six-point harnesses and a Racepak UDX data logger dash with auxiliary Autometer gauges. To keep things as light as possible, the car has been fitted with ACM carbon fibre doorcards and even a carbon firewall, carbon dash and carbon centre console while the boot is home to fuel system, with a 60-litre Aeromotive aluminium fuel cell and aluminium swirl pot.
After a hell of a lot of planning and almost seven years of work, it’s unsurprising that the end result was so damn spectacular.
What is surprising, though, is that Ole sold the car not long ago but, he says, it’s gone to a man who really knows what he’s doing so it’s in good hands and will be used as intended by its new owner.
So, what’s next for Ole? Time to give up the modifying game and relax with pipe and slippers watching gardening programmes? In a word, no. “I already have plans going around in my brain but one thing is for sure, it gets wilder!” he exclaims. “This car will probably take a few years to finish. And I have a problem: I’m never satisfied until I have spent a lot of time on everything from planning to execution, so those who wait will see. The rest is a huge secret,” he adds with a grin. We’re instantly as excited as he is. Judging by his track record, it’s going to be something special.
Interior is slathered in sexy carbon panels.
Apex EC-7 wheels were chosen as they’re light and tough; massive eight-pot K-Sport calipers sit up front with six-pots at the rear.
That’s what you need for 1000hp. S50B30 has been fully built and features massive Precision 7675 turbo.
“My goal has always been to retain the original lines I like so much”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE Turbo #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #S50B30 / #S50 / #BMW-S50 / #V.S-Motor / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series / #Precision / #Precision-7675-turbo / #Autronic / #Sellholm / #Aeromotive / #BMW-M3-V.S-Motor / #BMW-M3-V.S-Motor-E36 / #Pauter-Motorsport /
ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30, #Autronic-SM4 , MSD coil packs, #Autronic boost solenoid, V.S Motor custom exhaust manifold, #Precision-billet-7675-turbo , Edgeperformance Vanos block-off kit, adjustable cam pulleys, Tial 60mm wastegate, V.S Motor 4.5” downpipe, Edgeperformance 3.5” stainless steel exhaust, #Tial 50mm BOV, #ARP bolts throughout, Pauter Motorsport H-rods, V.S Motor spec valve springs, V.S Motor spec custom cams, JE custom pistons built to V.S Motor spec, original intake manifold modified for forced induction, Samco intake hose, head and block modified to remove head gasket, special head gasket replacement rings designed by V.S Motor, Turner Motorsport oil cooler hoses, Earl’s 26-row oil cooler, #GS-Performance oil distribution block, #Griffin aluminium radiator, AN-20 fittings, custom header tank, custom three-litre oil catch tank with AN-16 fittings, 2x12” Flex-a-Lite fans, V.S Motor design Precision bespoke 6” thick intercooler, Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, 19-row Ethanol cooler with 10” fan, Edgeperformance fuel rail, 6x flow matched 1699cc E85 injectors, VEMS wide band lambda sensor and EGT
POWER AND TORQUE 1040whp and 855lb ft wheel torque at 2.2bar
TRANSMISSION #Sellholm-MPG sequential gearbox, #Tilton 7.25” three-plate 26-spline rally clutch, #Alcon hydraulic release bearing, 1500hp 3” chromoly custom propshaft, M3 3.2 210 diff modified by V.S Motor, 38mm drive shafts, reinforced diff mounts and suspension attached to roll-cage, Omega gearbox/diff oil
CHASSIS 9x18” (front) and 9.5x18” (rear) #Apex-EC-7 wheels with 255/35 (front) and 265/35 (rear) #Nankang Sportnex NS-2R tyres mounted on 75mm #NMS-Racing studs, custom Sellholm asphalt coilovers, #Sellholm adjustable suspension turrets, custom top mounts, Sellholm fully adjustable blade anti-roll bars (front and rear), Turner Motorsport aluminium trailing arm bushes, aluminium front control arm bushes, #PeeBee-Motorsport adjustable upper rear control arms, #Turner-Motorsport adjustable lower rear control arms, aluminium diff bushes, K-Sport eight-piston calipers with 355x32mm discs (front), #K-Sport six-piston calipers with 330x32mm discs (rear), #EBC BlueStuff pads (front and rear)
EXTERIOR Removable ACM carbon race bonnet, carbon sunroof blank, rear arches rolled
INTERIOR Full chromoly 4130 roll-cage connected to suspension turrets, diff and throughout the chassis, QSP steering wheel with #Sparco Group N quick-release steering wheel boss, OBP pedalbox, Sellholm hydraulic handbrake, Cobra Suzuka seats with six-point 3” harnesses, Racepak UDX dash data logger, Autometer Sport-Comp gauges for oil pressure, oil temperature, boost pressure, fuel level and water temperature, OMP 4.24-litre central fire extinguisher, ACM carbon doorcards, carbon fibre firewall, complete carbon dash and carbon DTM centre console, Fibervac carbon panels, 580lph Aeromotive SS series lift pump, 2x Aeromotive A1000 fuel pumps, Aeromotive fuel filter/holder, Aeromotive 60-litre aluminium fuel cell, aluminium swirl pot, Earl’s fittings and hoses
THANKS An extremely big thanks to Vidar Strand at V.S Motor, without him this car would not have been possible, he has always been cheerful and helpful no matter what time I’ve called. Thanks also to Robin, Kay Ove, Stig P, Kurt Magnar, Kjell Inge, Jørgen, Terje, and Thomas at EdgeperformanceStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationMODERN CLASSIC
The E36 M3 is fast becoming something of a modern classic and this bagged ’vert is as clean as they come. Alex Barnett’s E36 M3 proves that with simple, well-executed modifications and a clean base you can make your BMW a real modern classic… Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Matt Dear.
What makes something classic? It’s an almost unanswerable question. While BMW’s own parts computer now designates the E36 as a classic model, is that a label that can truly be assigned to it? Looking over Alex Barnett’s E36 M3, though, you’d be hard-pushed to deny it of its status as something of a modern classic. So many E36s are left in a poor state of fettle, demonised for the track, or have been modified just that bit too far that the original ’90s feel they left the factory with has been lost. The E36 M3 was a special car and fortunately 24-year-old Alex’s retains its original nature yet with his own twist on it. Here’s a car that’s more about what hasn’t been done than what has. It has ‘cool classic’ written all over it.
“I’ve owned the M3 for around 18 months now,” explains Alex. “I had a 323i Coupé before which I was planning to turbo or S54 swap, but when I thought about what I wanted from a car in the long run, I thought an M3 might be a better bet. I looked at eBay and saw this M3 for sale at a good price in Colchester. I messaged the seller, Ross, and headed down there the same weekend to view it. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it.”
One of Alex’s many talents is paint correction and detailing. He could see the potential in the M3 even though it wasn’t looking its best when he picked it up. “The car was in reasonable condition,” he says. “The paintwork was okay but really flat and the rear arches were starting to rot – which the E36 is known for. Other than being on some FK coilovers, it was standard. Once I’d bought it I got straight to work on getting the paintwork up to my standards.”
In the end every panel apart from the doors and boot was repainted before Alex was completely happy with it but, as you can see, it was worth it. Alex’s trusted bodyshop Chappell Coachworks (near Brands Hatch race circuit) has done a sublime job. “The plan was always to stance it; if it had been an M3 Coupé I’d most likely would have turned it into a track car but, being a convertible, I thought the right path would be to stance it… which I received a lot of hate for!” laughed Alex.
“I put my Borbet A wheels on the car, wound the coilovers right down and started attending shows,” he smiles. However, there was always a plan in the back of Alex’s mind. He didn’t want to ruin the E36’s undercarriage by running low and static. He knew air was the best way to go. “With it being an M, I think keeping it OEM+ is an investment so that one day I can turn it back to standard and sell it – not that I plan to do that just yet! After about a year of driving it static, Joey Hazell pointed me in the direction of Jamie Hitchcock, who was selling an E36 air-ride combo.”
The air-ride combo system is simple but functional and ticks all the boxes as far as Alex is concerned. It’s a two-way manual setup with the pump and tank stowed in the boot. The struts, meanwhile, are #GAZ units with matching front bags and Air Lift rears. Of course, a wheel upgrade was what was needed to make the most of the newfound lows, and Alex chose an all-time classic – the #BBS RF, which he found in Germany and had shipped over. “The wheels I got in June 2014 from Germany as I couldn’t find a set I wanted in the UK,” Alex tells us. “They’re 8.5x17” and 10x17” with 2.5” and 3” dishes, which I stripped down before Players Classic this year for a freshen-up.”
This reworking included the centres being powdercoated in the white you see before you, and the dishes were given a thorough polish, too. Finally, Alex consulted split-rim guru Dan Taylor at Wheel Unique for a complete set of gold spike hardware, black and red BBS badges and metal hex centre caps to replace the original plastic items.
“Once I got the centres back I got straight on with building them back up in time for the all-important Players event,” Alex says. “The tyres were refitted and tested for leaks. They held pressure, which I was pretty stoked with, as it was my first time building split-rims and with all the horror stories I’d heard I was really worried in case I hadn’t done the job correctly.”
E36 geeks will also spot that there are a few additions to the exterior aside from those wheels but it’s been very much Alex’s plan all along to keep it as BMW intended but with his own touch. Therefore the foglights have been blanked and the orange indicators have gone in favour of subtly smoked versions. The rears lights Alex carefully painted red and, aside from a gentle arch roll, everything else is original and as perfect as can be.
“My favourite part of the car, I would have to say, is the air-ride system as I can have mad lows when parked up and still drive the car at normal height and keep the underside in good condition,” reveals Alex. “I still love the noise of the air releasing out of the solenoids and confusing people in traffic by making the car go up and down quickly.
“I plan to keep the car looking pretty similar to how it is now in future but eventually doing a nut and bolt rebuild, making it nice and clean underneath and inside. The shell is rot-free which is great for a 20-year-old car, so first up will be small changes like new bushes and a good lick of Waxoyl to extend its life. As the M3 is now becoming a classic it’s really in my best interests.”
Alex certainly considers the E36 M3 to be a classic, and with the way he’s treated his, it has every right to be titled as such. His masterful modifications have made it a car that draws attention for all the right reasons, even E36 purists will find plenty of details to enjoy, and yet the whole thing has been brought bang up-to-date with his own twists. This is a true modern classic.
M3 Coupé Vader seats replace the standard items. Below: manual air-ride setup uses a single air tank.
Far left: Milltek exhaust looks and sounds great.
Left: Front fogs have been blanked. #BBS RFs look fantastic on the E36. Below: Adjustable front top mounts.
DATA FILE #Air-ride #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-Cabrio / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-M3-Convertible / #BMW-M3-Convertible-E36 / #BMW-E36-Convertible / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-Cabrio-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-Cabrio
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30 / #BMW-S50 / #S50 , #Milltek decat centre section and backbox, five-speed manual gearbox, #AC-Schnitzer short-shift
CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #BBS-RF three-piece wheels (with white centres, red/gold caps, gold spike hardware and metal hex centres) with 205/40 (front) and 215/40 (rear) Nankang NS2 tyres, two-way manual air-ride using #GAZ-Gold shocks, #Gaz front airbags, #Air-Lift rear bags, adjustable front top mounts, #Powerflex trailing arm polybushes
EXTERIOR Avus blue paint, smoked front and side indicators, all-red rear lights, foglights blanked
INTERIOR Factory black leather interior with M3 Coupé Vader front seats
THANKS My girlfriend Jess for helping me throughout the show season with the car and putting up with me working on the car near on every evening, Dan Taylor at Wheel Unique for fulfilling all my wheel needs, Gary Chappell for doing all the bodywork and always squeezing it in, Auto Finesse for all of the products I use to get the car to the standard I like
I love confusing people by making the car go up and down quickly.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSWEDE SPEED
With 1137hp, this turbo E30 is an absolute beast. After years of building cars renowned for being safe and steady, Sweden’s best modifiers have now gained a well-earned reputation for being fast and furious. Forget the Volvo, handy in the snow and with the shopping. With 1137bhp this E30 323i is a lot more fun, and is contributing to global warming a treat, we love it. Words: Louise Woodhams /// Photos: Anders Odeholm
POWER: Approximately 1137bhp (at the flywheel) @ 6850rpm
TORQUE: Approximately 880lb ft @ 5950rpm
TOP SPEED: 208mph
BEST QUARTER MILE: 9.78 seconds @ 153mph
KERB WEIGHT: 1340kg (including driver)
I do freelance work for various publications in Scandinavia and I have shot a few BMWs you might want to take a peek at,” read the email from a snapper based in Sweden. Admittedly I was feeling a little apprehensive - quite often a photographer's idea of a feature ear can be a little off the mark. To his credit, though, he found us the beautiful wide-body 2002 Turbo from February 2004 so there was a glimmer of hope. There’s also the fact Scandinavia is synonymous with designing and building cars with enough performance to make the finest of supercars feel slow and pointless, including the world’s fastest production car in the world, the Bugatti Veyron. So chances were it was going to be pretty wild.
When the post arrived a few days later I ripped open the envelope and sure enough one of them was an M3-bodied 323i packing a European-spec E36 M3 engine with a huge Schwitzer S400 turbo strapped to it. The end result? Approximately 1137bhp at 6850rpm (at the flywheel) and 880lb ft of torque at 5950rpm! This, ladies and gentleman is the planet's most powerful street-legal BMW, and probably one the most remarkable things a Swede has done with a car to date. The penny drops when I hear the man responsible, Daniel Liimatainen from Goteborg, runs a business that specialises in restoring and tuning cars called Linuuet Speedfactory (www.Hnimet.se), and prior to tills worked as a Peugeot mechanic.
The 27-year-olds love for the E30 blossomed in 1999 after he test-drove, and then subsequently bought, a lightly tuned 320i. Hooked on the combination of the glorious in-line six, relative low kerb weight and nimble rear wheel handling, it was apparently a lot more fun than his Audi 80. A few years later he then upgraded to this current 1984 BMW 323i E30. Having always been interested in modifying (his previous project was a yellow checker taxi - a party mobile apparently!) it was inevitable the car wouldn't slay stock for long. “A buddy of mine had a tricked-out Audi S2 and he literally blew the doors off my BMW. It made me realise that a hot cam and air filter were far from cool and a dead end. I knew forced induction was the only way to go - I wanted revenge,” he explained. First off though was an engine swap. Having parted with 8000 kroner (that’s just over £600 to you and me) for an S50B30 engine and transmission he then got to work; at this point in time however, the company wasn’t established, so amazingly the swap was carried out with the most basic of tools in a garage that stunk of manure, as it was next to a field of cows!
Daniel’s initial plan was to make 800bhp, but as is often the case, things got a little out a hand and having already bored out the engine to 3030cc he then compiled a monster shopping list of high quality, uprated internals, including a set of custom 8.0:1 JE oil cooled pistons, slightly longer than standard Carillo con-rods and 1600cc injectors to name a few. The cylinder head was, of course, ported and polished, the combustion chambers modified and then sealed with pyramid’ rings. The car's claimed 1137bhp output is primarily attributed to the modified and lightened Schwitzer S400 turbo, with two Tial 38mm external wastegates to regulate the massive boost and make the custom exhaust route more viable. To cool the giant a modified Volvo truck double cell intercooler with a 3” intake and 3.5” outlet and Volvo 940 radiator were bolted in place. The engine work took Daniel and the lads from Christer Next Level Racing six months to carry out. There were a few problems to get over, though, as he explained: ‘The exhaust manifold was a real bitch to fit, there wasn't a whole lot of space so we had to modify the floor pan. We also had a big setback with the Haltech E11 engine management system - it took a week to find the fault to stop it misfiring - and problems with the camshaft sensor, which took another week to solve. It nearly drove me crazy but the performance is better than I ever expected.” In fact, his exact words were, “it’s like being kicked hard in the arse”, later recalling a time he left a Yamaha R1 in his dust! Much to his bemusement, his friends stopped asking for passenger rides a while ago.
As well as using the car for track days and drag racing, it’s also driven on the road, Daniel having covered almost 12,500 miles in it. For the car to behave itself the power had to be harnessed. To prevent shredding the gears on power launches he employed an E36 M3 six-speed manual ’box with a 3.07 ratio mated to an E28 535i limited-slip. A more durable Tilton triple-plated clutch weighing a total of just 12 pounds helps to increase grip, whilst a custom NUKE Performance aluminium driveshaft is stronger and more reliable.
There’s no sense in making a car go if you can’t make it stop, so Daniel decided to factor in TarOx 355x28mm discs and 10-piston calipers up front and 284x22mm discs with 6-piston calipers out back. It’s all well and good being rapid in a straight line, but if you can’t sling it into corners it’s no better than an American muscle car. Other chassis upgrades include Bilstein shocks and custom IGMAB springs with E30 M3 struts and spindles and Powerflex urethane bushings to add further security within the suspension components. According to Daniel it’s like any other grocery-getter, well balanced and a pleasure to drive.
One glance over the interior tells you all you need to know about this car’s intentions. To improve the power-to-weight ratio, the rear bench, carpet, headlining and air-con were binned and while the original dashboard and door panels survived the cull, the original seats have been replaced by a pair of Sparco Pro2000 buckets with four-point Sabelt harnesses and a steel roll-cage welded in place. As well as the carbon dash display there is also a bank of Autometer metric gauges, including the speedo, rev counter, boost pressure, oil and coolant temperature and oil pressure, not to mention switches on the gear shift including launch control. The boot floor is now lined in diamond plating with a custom 30-litre fuel cell and battery.
As expected there are also a few external modifications to give the game away, the E30 M3 arches are the most obvious additions and have been extended a further 40mm to help accommodate the wider and taller than standard 8x18” (front) and 10x18” (rear) white Compomotive wheels shod in 215/35 and 265/35 Kumho tyres respectively.
Combined with the Rieger E46 M3-style bumper up front, vented bonnet and air inlet residing in the chasm where the left headlight was – the body styling not only looks the part but also serves a purpose, enhancing aerodynamics. Just for that added flair, Daniel had the car resprayed black with a satin clear coat, which in some lights looks like a matt finish. Certainly an improvement over the original metallic blue.
This car is simply as good, and as powerful, as it gets. Okay, so no one will insure you with your five years' no-claims, the fuel bill will be similar to a small plane and the plod would assign a new division just to keep stopping you around town, but who cares? It is a work of art and the very pinnacle of motor engineering - the owner should be incredibly proud of himself. Question is, where can he go from here? Despite working on it for over five years and spending over 30 grand he says the car will probably never be finished and is already talking of a bigger turbo to make it even quicker, so it seems things can only move forward. Keep your eyes peeled!
DATA FILE #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-S50 / #Schwitzer-S400 / #Schwitzer / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #NUKE-Perfomance /
ENGINE: 2997cc straight-six #S50B30 / #BMW-S50 / #S50 engine from the European-spec E36 M3 bored to 3030cc with NUKE-Perfomance dry sump and Barnes 6-stage pump, custom-made 10mm main bearing girdle, Peteterson 18-litre oil tank, 8.0:1 custom JE oil cooled pistons, Total Seal gapless rings, Carlllo custom con-rods with SPS MULTIPHASE bolts, #Kilander-Racing head studs (M11,12.9), head ported and polished by Christer NLR, modified combustion chambers, ‘pyramid’ rings to seal combustion, #K&N air filter, Schwitzer-S400 turbo modified and lightened by Christer NLR, 78mm compressor housing and 74.5mm exhaust housing, custom 4” downpipe, Ummet twin exit stainless steel 3.5” exhaust system with two Tial 38mm wastegates corrected for even distribution, 31.5mm stainless steel exhaust valves, Simons full flow mufflers with twin 2.5” tailpipes, 19 Row Setrab engine oil cooler, modified stock manifold, 1600cc injectors, Weldon fuel pump (5 bar) and pressure regulator, two 10" #Perma-Cool cooling fans, 1994 Volvo 940 radiator, modified Volvo truck double cell Intercooler (130cm wide, 20cm high, 18cm deep) with 3” intake and 3.5” outlet Haltech E11 engine management system, six MSD singletower coils, 4-channel AEM cdi Ignition, Taylor 10mm HT leads, Teknik Products engine mounts
TRANSMISSION European-spec E36 M3 six-speed manual ’box with 3.07 gear ratio, Tilton triple-disc clutch, E34 M5 drive joints with custom NUKE Performance 80x5mm air-craft quality aluminum driveshaft, M20 flywheel. E28 535 limited-slip
CHASSIS 8x18" (front) and 10x18" (rear) white Compomotive wheels (ET15) shod in 215/35 and 265/35 #Kumho tyres respectively. #Bilstein front and rear shocks, custom IGMAB front and rear springs, E30 M3 struts and spindles, #Powerflex M3 urethane bushings with eccentric offset, custom-made 40x2mm strut brace. Dual circuit brake system with Tarox 355x28mm discs with aluminum centre and 10-piston calipers (front) and 284x22mm discs with 6-piston calipers, copper and braided steal brake lines
EXTERIOR E30 M3 front and rear arches (extended a further 40mm), doors, rear bumper and spoiler, custom Rieger E46 M3-style front bumper, vented bonnet, left headlight removed and replaced with air inlet, E36 M3 mirrors, Hella rear lights, full respray in black with satin dear coat
INTERIOR #Sparco-Pro2000 bucket seats with four-point Sabelt race harnesses, rear bench, carpet and headlining removed, Memo steering wheel, IGMAB gear shift and pedals, GunnarsjG Svets and Smide AB seamless steel 45x3mm roll-cage, carbon dash display, Autometer Sportcomp metric gauges, including speedo, rev counter, boost pressure, oil and coolant temperature and oil pressure, NLR AMS-1000 boost controller, switches on gear shift including launch control, line lock, 3 AMS ON (activates boost controller), and AMS CLUTCH (activates clutch switch to boost controller), 5" Tacho white shift light, M3 rear view mirror, aluminium diamond plating in boot with custom-made 30-litre fuel cell and battery
TANKS Peter at Pelemaskinteknik, Peter at GIK Turbo, Svensk Turboservice Anders at PRO, NUKE Performance, Forza, Mocomp, IGMAB, PRO motorsport and all the others that helped make my car what it is today
With more controls than the Houston control centre (maybe) and stripped of all its luxuries this 323i is not your average E30.
Huge #Schwitzer S400 turbo supplies the boost, whilst the rest of the power comes from the E36 M3 lump and uprated internals. No rubber or jubilee clips here – all motorsport-spec fittings and hoses.
M3 body styling, white Compomotive wheels and compressor housing sticking out of the bonnet, it doesn't gel any sexier than this.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationACCEPTABLE IN THE EIGHTIES
This super-clean, white, S50-swapped, two-door E30 is a perfect slice of modified ’80s motoring.
William Green’s E30 harks back to a time when such cars had to be tuned a certain way, and rock a certain look. But he’s given it a modern twist, and a whole lot more horsepower… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: C3Photography.
The 1980s have a lot to answer for. Shoulder pads, Filofaxes, music with synths, Fox-body Mustangs, Grease 2 – there was a lot going on, and much of it was made of brightly coloured plastic. However, the decade wasn’t without its charms; it brought us Cheers, Appetite for Destruction, perestroika, and the charmingly infuriating Rubik’s Cube. And while the TV shows of the era seemed to represent a society eager to eulogise about the easy-going nostalgia of the 1960s – Happy Days, The Wonder Years and so on – the man on the street was firmly on the cutting edge of up-to-the-minute 1980s fantasticality, the sleeves rolled up on his pastel-hued suit, a pair of Wayfarers atop his slicked-back hair, and the keys to an icewhite E30 in his hand.
Oh yes – in the 1980s, the secondgeneration 3 Series was very much where it was at. From South London to South Central LA, there was one aesthetic that anyone who was anyone aspired to: a white E30, preferably a 325i, low-slung over big wheels, with an M-Tech II spoiler proudly adorning the bootlid. That was the real deal. Sure, Magnum P.I. had his Ferrari 308, Miami Vice was all about the Testarossas, and Michael Knight had his sentient Trans Am, but this was the real world. Real people dreamed of Beemers.
The lusted-after look of the era is pretty much as you see here, in the form of William Green’s retro-styled throwback. The exterior is so ’80s it hurts, white-on-white-on-white, with merely a whisper of clearance between those crisp glacier-like arches and the broad, chunky five-spokes beneath. All of the requisite M-Tech II accoutrements are in place. If you can ignore the crowds of excitable teenagers Instagramming the thing with their iPhones and tune out the chemtrails from all the wi-fi signals, you could almost be glimpsing into an authentic late-1980s scenescape.
Ah, but there’s a twist. All’s not as periodcorrect as you might think here – when you peel back the skin and scratch around among the pulpy flesh below, you’ll discover that William’s got one or two restomod tricks up his sleeve…
“I’ve always been a car modifier,” he says, enigmatically. “It all started with my first car, a 1986 VW Golf GTI with a supercharged G60 Corrado engine swap; BMWs came second to VWs at the time, as I then went on to own a ’92 GTI and a ’95 GTI.”
‘Yes,’ I can hear you shouting into the magazine, ‘but when do we get to the E30?!’ Alright, chill out – we’re coming to it. But before we reap the rewards of patience, we need to sow the seeds of an entirely different 3 Series.
“I came across my first E30 when I was in college,” William reminisces, an orchestral James Horner soundtrack swelling in the background. “It was a gunmetal grey 1988 325ix – two-door, five-speed – that was completely refurbished, it looked like a brand-new car. Being a broke college student, I begged my mother to get me that car; she did, and it was the best gift I ever received! I brought it back to college in the Catskill Mountains of NY and the ix really lived up to its name – the all-wheel drive system was flawless.” A handful of wellchosen modifications followed – a custom exhaust, chip tune, intake and coilovers – but nothing too extreme. This wasn’t like that first, manic, engine-swapped project, this was a super-tidy base so he was taking baby steps. The quality of the car spoke for itself really, as three years later a chap drove two thousand miles to make William an offer he couldn’t refuse. And with that chapter behind him, it’s safe to say that he’s firmly made the ideological leap from Wolfsburg to Bavaria. A 2006 530i followed, and then a 2002 M3, but it wasn’t too long before our protagonist began once again hankering for the old-skool. His retro yearning was twofold; firstly after the nostalgia of the 1980s that so many of us of a particular age are unable to escape from, but secondly due to the absolute perfection of his first E30. It was time for history to repeat itself.
Okay, people may say ‘never go back,’ but that’s a load of old toffee. ‘Once bitten, forever smitten’ – that’s more of an appropriate mantra here (ignoring the fact that it comes from an old Vauxhall advert, obviously), and William was more than ready to dive back into the rose-scented waters of E30 ownership.
“I found this ’80s baby in a high-end luxury car dealer just south of Los Angeles,” he explains, effortlessly reeling off a phrase that you could imagine on a T-shirt in H&M. “The car was being sold on consignment, and belonged to the son of the owner’s best friend. It was an unfinished project, and the exterior was probably an 8/10 – and that’s what sealed the deal on buying the car! I knew that everything still left to do was stuff I could take care of myself.”
The car was already fitted with an S50 motor – y’know, like you’d find in an E36 M3 – but it was, shall we say, well used, having chalked up over 140,000 miles. William’s initial plan was to swap it out for an S54, although having weighed up the costs and taken an objective view, he decided to persevere with the S50 and give it a refresh and rebuild. After all, they’re robust old lumps. Hell, 140k is barely run in, right?
“It needed a rebuild pretty much straight away,” he reasons. “The compression was off on two cylinders, so I went ahead and had the head rebuilt and that took care of the engine problems. I also went with the M50 manifold and the S52 exhaust manifold, custom pulleys, injectors, high-flow MAF, and 3.25 LSD. There were a lot of modifications made along the way but these were the initial mods to get the car the way I wanted it.”
The fact that the previous owner had made inroads into the project helped out a lot, as it was already wearing a fresh, periodperfect, ice-white 1980s paint job when William took delivery. He was able to augment this with the oh-so-cool M-Tech II goodies to create that retro style, and it has created what William describes as ‘a neck-breaker’.
“This car has always been a conversation starter at pretty much every car meet or gas station I go to. People love the body kit and the Magnum 17s. Most people go with BBS rims so I decided to stick with a wheel that’s different and displays all the inner workings. I recently started doing autocross too, and this build is perfect for the courses.”
You can imagine how that newergeneration M3 motor helps out when it comes to sporting endeavours, but this car is far from a laser-focused track build; indeed, the interior is something quite special. Up front are a pair of E36 M3 Vaders in black leather, with an E30 M3 bench out back trimmed to match. The E30 M3 gauge cluster was painstakingly rebuilt by an Instagram user by the handle @e30_dad, while the vacuum-of-space effect of all the blackness (the seats, the carpet, the headlining, it’s everywhere) is neatly complemented by a cunning custom audio install that, among much else, features a pair of 8” subs hidden inside the rear panels.
William, like so many feature car owners we talk to, has an obsessive and completist eye for the details, manifested here in the fresh lights, the commitment to the Stormtrooper black/white colour-coding, the OEM+ interior embellishments of disparate provenance, and the cherry picked chassis parts that comprise E36 M3 suspension and brakes, some M Coupé bits and bobs, and a super-tight Z3 steering rack.
In fact, it’s fair to say that this is more than just a car to him. “This car has also inspired me to start my own small business, www.e30head.com,” says William. “I designed an E30 centre console cupholder that was once an old BMW idea that I brought back to life. The enthusiasts love it! And yes, the S54 swap is still a plan that will get executed – I put that build on hold last time because we were having our first child and those funds needed to go to more important purchases, but the timing will be right one day.” And in the meantime, he gets to enjoy a nice thick slice of aspirational nostalgia, rolling the kind of ride that everybody looked up to back in the good ol’ days. Acceptable in the Eighties? Ah, it was more than acceptable. It was rad, def, way cool, totally tubular. And it still is.
The exterior was probably an 8/10 and that’s what sealed the deal on buying the car!
DATA FILE S50-swapped #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-S50 / #BMW
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30US / #S50B30 / #S50 / #BMW-S50 / , custom 3” #Magnaflow exhaust system with high-flow cat and resonator, TMS underdrive pulleys, custom underdrive crank pulley, TMS Jim Conforti remap, new water pump, thermostat, alternator, intake, oil pump, gaskets, TPS, radiator and hoses, E30 M3 wiring harness cover, OBDII E36 exhaust manifolds, E30 Motor Werks skid plate, E36 M3 five-speed gearbox, E30 M3 propshaft, E36 M3 guibo, 3.25 LSD with M Coupé cover, M Coupe halfshafts
CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front and rear) #MVR-Magnum wheels with 215/40 (front and rear) Falken 512 tyres, TC Kline S/A coilovers, #Vorshlag front camber plates, #K-Mac rear adjustable camber/toe bushings, E36 M3 front suspension and brakes, E36 M3 five-lug rear conversion including brakes, #Zimmerman drilled discs all-round, ’96 Z3 2.7 lock-to-lock steering rack, E32 750il brake master cylinder, custom brake booster
EXTERIOR Full respray, #M-Tech II bumpers, side skirts, lip and spoiler, replica #M-Tech II front valance, 6000K Xenon headlights and foglights, new tail-lights, smoked front indicators, black kidney grilles, colour-coded door handles, headlight wipers
INTERIOR E30 M3 gauge cluster, E36 M3 gear knob, E32 leather handbrake handle and gaiter, E36 M3 Vader seats, E30 M3 rear seats, black door panels, M-Tech II steering wheel, black carpet, black headlining, #Alpine CD head unit, 2x custom hidden #MTX-Thunder6000 8” subs in rear panels, Rockford Fosgate 250 two-channel amp and 600 four-channel amp, Kicker speakers
THANKS I’d like to give special thanks to my wife, Ashleigh, who inspired me to start E30Head. To Raphael with Ore Photography Group – without his excellent shots of my car, I don’t think we’d be doing this interview. Diego, the E30 Cluster Master @e30_dad, my biggest supporter from the start. Scott with Renown USA for being one of the first to support my E30 centre console cupholder design
S50-swap is so neat it looks like it could have been a factory job and it gives this E30 some serious go.
This car has always been a conversation starter at pretty much every car meet or gas station I go to.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationPURPLE HEARTS
Built to commemorate its owner’s late father, this Daytona E36 Cab is a poignant purple project. Kevin Love’s dear departed father used to rock a boisterous purple muscle car. So what better way to celebrate his memory than with a fresh new build in the same vein? Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Kevin Love.
From 1969 to 1973, American muscle car enthusiasts were treated to a stimulating palette of glistening new colours in the Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth model ranges. These new HIP shades (standing for High Impact Paint) came to aggressively assault the retinas of passers-by with a lurid and shocking take on the generally considered conventions of the car hue genre.
And the best thing about all of this corporate playfulness was the names that were chosen for these paints: Top Banana, Go Mango, Sub-Lime, Panther Pink, Citron-Yella, and of course Plum Crazy. These were extrovert cars, they deserved extrovert colours.
“My father had a 1968 Dodge Charger in Plum Crazy,” recalls Kevin Love, as he casts a fond eye over his own purple toy. “It was his Purple Haze, and when he passed away I wanted to create my own personal tribute to him, my own Purple Haze.” And that’s just what you see here – a #1995 E36 M3 in Daytona Violet. Sure, its origins lie on the other side of the Atlantic to his father’s old car, but the ethos of the project is the same: a beautiful, aggressive, eye-catching machine with far more horsepower than necessary and race track DNA clearly on display.
“Following the success of my M3 convertible, I was ready to hit the ground running with another unique build,” Kevin continues. “That was my first BMW project and it was ten years in the making, culminating in a feature in DRIVE-MY in August 2014.” He’d set the bar high then, having already appeared in these hallowed pages. So, how might one ensure that lightning strikes twice? Presumably by getting things off on the right foot and starting with a solid, decent project base, yes?
“Er, no!” he laughs. “When I bought this car it was in rough shape. I had two choices at that point – either I make it a track rat and just gut it, or turn it into another beauty queen. I did a little research and found the M-Cross interior, and that was the moment I knew which direction I wanted to go with the build. I am an OEM fanatic and I strive to find the rare parts to make the car that little bit more noteworthy.” He’s not kidding – seasoned DRIVE-MY readers may recall how Kevin transformed his convertible 318i auto into an M3-powered show-stopper with an Anthrazit Rain interior and all manner of rare original-equipment bits. If it’s obscure and Bavarian, Kevin will find it.
“I’d created the Colorado BMW Groupë on Facebook, and a fellow member had listed this car for sale,” he recalls. “I liked the car but I wasn’t in the position to pull the trigger at that time. A few months later it was listed once again; the more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. The colour is what truly sold me – we arranged to meet up, and when I saw the colour in person I was convinced. And I didn’t waste any time in tearing into the thing either… pretty much as soon as I got it home I went through the car on all the maintenance, refreshing all the suspension components, and I detailed it inside and out. Then I started replacing weather-stripping and seals; I knew exactly what I needed to do right away to make this car have a great starting point to build from.”
The thing with talking to Kevin about his #BMW love affair is that it’s like flicking the switch on a Duracell bunny, you just set him going and he’s off for hours, absorbed in his own passion. It’s endearing – this is a guy who just can’t restrain himself from spending countless hours online, on the phone, in lock-ups and breaker’s yards, and on social media hunting down rare parts, garnering and giving advice, just living the BMW dream. It swims in his blood. Passion that his beloved Charger-toting father, Rodney, would surely be hugely proud of.
“I wanted to challenge myself, I never wanted to look back and be known from my previous build and fall short,” Kevin asserts. “Most of all, this car is my own build and not built for others’ approval. I consider myself an OEM fanatic, but I also appreciate the stance movement, and at the end of the day this is just my perfect M3.
“The first big modification was the Air Lift V2 suspension,” he continues. “I wanted reliability, and not to have to plan my route around town in advance.” Wise sentiment indeed, and something we hear time and time again from owners who’ve made the switch to air-ride – there will always be people hating on the format, but it really can be an all-things-to-all-men solution.
Kevin’s next big decision, having got those arches markedly closer to the ground, was to figure out what to fill them with. “I got in contact with a vendor in Germany selling Carline CM6 wheels – easily my favourite wheel style that I always dreamed of owning,” he enthuses. “With that life goal ticked off, and the wheels’ hardware swapped for 24-carat gold items for good measure, I then fitted my very rare and obscure Dove Alcantara M-Cross interior. In fact, throughout the build I sourced every Motorsport item I could, ending with the strut brace.”
It’s been, as we’ve come to expect from Kevin, an exhaustive exercise in partshunting, touching on such desirable treats as the red Motorsport seat belts, the door handles and, most noticeably from outside, that outrageous GT2 Class II boot spoiler. “I wanted to keep the car as clean and classy as I could make it,” he assures us. “I wanted everything to be as OEM as possible. That Class II spoiler is my favourite and most noticeable exterior modification, and I’ve added lots of little touches to make it my own – for example the headlight retrofit and M-colour pinstriping. I don’t want them to be immediately obvious, more that they’ll be picked up on by people who know what they’re looking for. This is how I feel BMW should have released the M3 from factory!”
Of course, a healthy outlook toward increased thrust is key to a build such as this, not least because we’re talking about an M3, but also in the interest of authentically continuing the Love family line of Purple Haze tuning. Under the bonnet you’ll find the #S50B30 US, based on the M50 with that engine’s less complex head design and twostage Vanos, and lower compression than its European counterpart plus a normal throttle body rather than ITBs, making 240hp.
However, improvements can be made to get the engine feeling a little healthier. The brawny six now enjoys an M50 manifold with an AFE intake, and Kevin’s a sucker for a Rogue Engineering exhaust – possibly, we speculate, because the back box looks a bit suggestive when viewed from behind – so you’ll find one of those under there too. It’s all been electronically tickled by RK-Tunes, with the package finished off neatly by a 3.38 LSD at the rear. Show and go in one brightly coloured and slightly frightening package – much like a ’68 Charger, really. A little more technologically advanced, perhaps, but certainly on the same page.
It’s easy to be blasé about a car such as this, and maybe assume that it’s a chequebook build, particularly coming hot on the heels of another equally detailed project, but it’s important to bear in mind the sheer effort that Kevin’s put into this. His BMW obsession is an all-consuming force in his life; the engine work, for example, was all carried at by Kevin in his garage, along with his buddy Brandon, and he wears the results as a deserved badge of honour. And his focus on the aesthetics is well on par with his mechanical nous.
His description of the interior work is modest, but implies so many hours of work: “The interior was in real bad shape to begin with – typical 20-year-old wear and tear. Dove seats just never look clean, and it had the usual saggy headliner and wilting doorcards. I stripped the whole interior down in order to swap over to Grau Alcantara M-Cross cloth. I also added in the Euro three-spoke wheel wrapped in new Alcantara, along with the shift and e-brake boots matched with M-stitching. It’s finished off nicely with Motorsport door seals, seat belts and OEM carbon-fibre trim pieces.” That he makes it sound like all in a day’s work tells you more about his modesty than anything else.
“I have found parts for this car from all over the world,” he continues. “Luckily the interior was purchased from a seller in California, so shipping wasn’t as dramatic. The wheels came from Germany as well as a lot of the Motorsport items; I started with a clear idea of what I wanted to do with the build, and the only thing that really slowed me down was sourcing all the parts I wanted on the car. I made lots of contacts though, and was fortunate enough to have smooth transactions. And there are so many things I love about my car now – the body lines just work so well together, and I focused a lot on the interior as that’s where I spend most of the time. It has a calming, yet sporty feel. The reliability of the air-ride really makes a big difference too; I can go for my stance for daily driving, then turn the car into a weekend track warrior, beefing up the suspension with a push of a button!”
Kevin has much to be proud of here. The fruits of his labours shout loudly about a man who knows whereof he speaks. There’s an inherent conflict of approach in that, on the one hand, he’s eager for it to have all of the correct parts and look just-so, and on the other hand that he doesn’t do shows and would rather just be out driving the thing… but it’s safe to say that he’s balancing the whims of the two demons effectively. While he describes his kinship with the car as being ‘a love-hate relationship’, he’s fooling no-one. This car is all about love. It’s baked right into it, a Love family tradition. And you can be sure that Kevin’s old man would be proud to see his Purple Haze legacy living on in such fine, muscular style.
Carline CM6 wheels look stunning; DJ Auto headlights with projector retrofit are one of the many smart, subtle additions on this car.
“I can go for my stance for daily driving, then turn the car into a weekend track warrior, beefing up the suspension with a push of a button!”
US-spec S50 has been treated to an M50 manifold and tuned by RK Tunes.
DATA FILE #BMW E36 M3 / #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-M3
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30 / #S50 / #BMW-S50 / US tuned by #RKTunes , #Rogue-Engineering DMS exhaust, UUC poly engine mounts, #Mishimoto radiator with electric fan, M50 manifold, #AFE 2 intake, #ZF fivespeed gearbox, #UUC poly transmission mounts, #Autosolutions Ultra Short Shift Kit, 3.38 LSD
CHASSIS 9x17” ET14 (front) and 10x17” ET20 (rear) polished Carline-CM6 wheels with gold hardware with 205/45 (front) and 215/45 (rear) tyres, #Neo-Chrome lugnuts, #Air-Lift-V2 / #Air-Lift digital air-ride, #BMW-Motorsport strut brace, ECS-Geomet cross-drilled and grooved discs, PBR-Axxis-Ultimate brake pads
EXTERIOR Daytona Violet, M Power-coloured pinstriping, #DJ-Auto headlights with FX-R 3.0 projector retrofit, Lux bumper grille, foglight covers, BMW Motorsport door handles, shaved filler cap lid, GT2 (Class II) spoiler with risers, LTW spoiler tray, carbon fibre side skirt splitters, modified GT rear splitters
INTERIOR Alcantara Grau M-Cross seats and panels, OEM carbon fibre centre console and glovebox trim, Motorsport International door sills, #BMW-Motorsport red seatbelts, Alcantara-wrapped Euro three-spoke steering wheel with Tri stitching, Alcantara gear and handbrake gaiters with Tri stitching, Alcantara armrest, E39 autodimming rear view mirror, #ZHP gear knob, #BSW speakers with subwoofer
THANKS Big thanks to my beautiful wife Cori, for supporting me through my builds, and my great buddies Brandon and James for helping me with all the maintenance and retrofits. I call this build my Purple Haze – a tribute to my dad and his Plum Crazy purple 1968 Charger.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBOX OF TRICKS
Building a competitive hillclimb and circuit machine is no mean feat, as this S50-powered E30 ably demonstrates. Taking the Australian race circuit and hillclimb tracks by storm, this M3-powered 1983 E30 proves age is no barrier to speed and fun. Words and photos: Iain Curry.
Old BMWs never die, they just get faster’. As bumper stickers go it’s a pretty corny one, but for a certain Australian E30 the line was so perfectly relevant owner Piers Harrex couldn’t resist adding it to his racing car’s rump. With as good as 300 horses at the rear wheels, this 32-year-old E30 has been saved from the scrapheap and turned into one of Australia’s most accomplished and feared circuit and hillclimb weapons.
It’s the latest creation from the dream factory that is Brisbane-based RX Automotive, a BMW specialist that is the go to place for any serious racing or fast road upgrades in the Sunshine State of Queensland. Piers is the current star driver of the family business, established nearly 40 years ago by his British-born father Simon Harrex, himself having enjoyed a stellar racing career Down Under. Harrex senior kept busy away from the track with a race car fabrication and preparation business, and soon discovered the benefits of specialising in BMWs; growing a passion for the marque that son Piers has inherited. Harrex junior began an apprenticeship at his dad’s workshop as soon as he finished school, but before venturing into BMWs began enhancing a Toyota Celica and then created a Group A-style SD1 Rover with a worked engine. “With the Rover being an English car, it got to the point where the interior was breaking all the time,” Piers said. Dad Simon may be of English heritage, but he knew the Germans trumped the Brits in a car’s reliability stakes, so suggested his son try a BMW – specifically an E30 model – if he wanted to start hitting the race track.
Ever since his first introduction to the E30, Piers has never budged from his belief they are superb race cars. “I’ve had six now I think, either wrecks to take parts from or racers,” he said. The most desirable from his point of view are pre-1986 E30s as this year is the cut-off point for many permitted modifications in the Improved Production racing class he’s competing in this year.
This brings us to his immaculate E30 racer, which began life in 1983 as a white 323i. It had been sitting in a car yard practically abandoned for a few years before the Harrexes handed over $250 (just over 100 quid) and trailered it away. “The driver’s window had been smashed and rubbish was being thrown into it,” Piers said. “One of my first jobs with the car was to remove a mouldy loaf of bread from the interior!”
Progress then moved apace. Piers stripped the interior entirely and took a high pressure cleaner to the shell, repaired the small amount of rust he found and had a roll-cage welded in. For a more enhanced racing look he sourced fibreglass wheel arch flares in the shape of BMW’s venerable 2002 Turbo models from 1973, cut out 70mm of the original guard and fibreglassed them in place. He then gave the rolling body to Queensland paint guru and PBMW feature car owner Julian Seeger, who applied Voodoo blue paint from Toyota’s funky Rukus model. “As a race car it needed to be a colour that was bright and stood out against all the other cars out there,” Piers explained, and the modern colour certainly adds more verve to this E30’s body.
The exterior has also been modernised with a fibreglass front bumper created using a mould of Australian Touring Car legend Tony Longhurst’s Benson and Hedgessponsored BMW E30 racer. A custom aluminium splitter was added to this, while the #1983 BMW’s chrome rear bumper – which had to remain in situ for the Improved Production series – was taped over and colour-coded for a sleeker style. Under the wider arches are Alpina 7x15” rims from the first generation E21 3 Series, which proved ideal for an old school style and meeting the size requirements stipulated by the Improved Production rules. These are shod in Yokohama A050 semi-slick tyres, which Piers said were ideal for hillclimbs as they are sticky even when cold: there are no warm up laps in hillclimbs remember.
A common upgrade well-known in E30 circles is using VW Corrado brake discs and Mazda RX-7 four-piston callipers front and twin-piston Nissan Skyline callipers rear. Piers has done just this to improve stopping power, and in a nice touch to hide the imposter brake parts, he’s added yellow BMW Motorsport stickers to the calipers. Suspension-wise the racer has opted for a Ground Control setup – using Eibach springs and Koni shocks – which Piers said is well-proven for track and hillclimb use. The serious work has really come under the bonnet. The Improved Production class allows for certain engine swaps, and Piers has done so by transplanting a 3.0-litre sixcylinder and its five-speed gearbox from an early E36 M3. This engine had detonation problems, so Piers used just its original block and head, building up the rest using brand new components.
It has been enhanced with 308/315 Schrick cams, larger VAC Motorsport stainless one-piece valves, high compression CP forged pistons and Carrillo rods, then given a carbon fibre air box and Exhaust Innovations manifold leading in to a full custom system. A Bosch 044 fuel pump helps deliver Powerplus 108+ race fuel from a boot-mounted aluminium tank and through Teflon braided hoses, with the whole setup managed by a Motec computer.
It means this 1983 one-time 150hp 323i is now good for a confirmed 298hp at the rear wheels and 384lb ft of torque. Incredible stuff for a naturally aspirated S50B30 sixcylinder, but to be expected from a racing workshop no stranger to getting the best out of these BMW M Motors. And with the old E30 weighing in at just 1010kg with Piers in the car, that’s a very handy power-to-weight ratio. The gearbox that came with the 3.0- litre E36 M3 motor – the old five-speed manual – has been retained and given an adjustable throw gearstick, while an E36 328i driveshaft and E30 M3 75% locking diff give more confidence for race weekend. It’s true racing business in the cabin, and like the rest of this car, beautifully finished. The driver has a carbon kevlar race seat – from a former V8 Supercar (the Aussie version of our touring cars) – and is held in place by a Sparco four-point harness. Piers has custom-made the dash panel and centre console to contain all the switches, lights and instruments, headlined by white Auto Meter Pro-Comp gauges. Another nice touch – and wonderfully lightweight – is the woven cloth for the dash and doorcards, custom-made by specialist #Aerospec .
So, in reflection, quite the race tool. We caught up with Piers competing at one of his favourite Australian events, the infamous Noosa Hillclimb. It is just under one mile of steep gradient and 14 turns, with the course lined with concrete barriers one side and tree-lined drops the other. In other words, mistakes are always expensive. Piers said he was able to run the whole course in third gear alone once he’d got away from the start line thanks to the 4.67 ratio diff he used from an E30 M3 (this is one of ten he chooses from depending on the type of race event). Thinking about every hundredth of a second as a race driver should: “Why waste time changing gears?” he said.
Taking class honours in the 2014 Noosa Hillclimb and 15th out of 153 overall, it wasn’t a bad weekend’s work for the E30. With a happy grin Piers explained that his latest creation is a lot more animal than anything he’s made before. “Even so, it’s very neutral to the driver; I thought it would be more taily,” he said. “It still lights its wheels up, but it’s very predictable. Yet so versatile is this old E30 – helped by Piers’ expert mechanical setup – that the blue beastie can be tackling one of Australia’s race circuits almost immediately after a hillclimb. And rest assured it will be terrorising 911s on long track straights just as much as it does Subaru Imprezas in the bends.
“As a race car it needed to be a colour that was bright and stood out against all the other cars out there”
“One of my first jobs with the car was to remove a mouldy loaf of bread from the interior!”
DATA FILE #Hillclimb #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-Hillclimb / #BMW-E30-S50 /
ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30 / #S50 , 308/315 #Schrick cams, #VAC-Motorsport stainless one-piece valves, high compression CP forged pistons and #Carrillo rods, carbon fibre air box, Exhaust Innovations manifold leading into a full stainless steel exhaust system, #Bosch-044 fuel pump feeding #Powerplus 108+ race fuel from boot-mounted aluminium fuel tank, #Motec-M84 engine management system. 298whp and 384lb ft of torque.
TRANSMISSION #ZF-Type-C five-speed manual from E36 M3 3.0-litre, E36 328i driveshaft, E30 M3 75% locking diff.
CHASSIS 7x15” (front and rear) #Alpina E21 wheels with Yokohama A050 semi-slick tyres, #Ground-Control suspension using #Eibach springs and Koni shocks, VW Corrado brake discs with Mazda RX-7 four-piston callipers (front) and Nissan Skyline twin piston callipers (rear).
EXTERIOR Fibreglass front bumper created using a mould of a B&H-sponsored Australian Touring Car E30, custom aluminium front splitter, #BMW 2002 Turbo-style fibreglass wheel arch flares over the original guards after 70mm had been cut away, taped over and colour-coded chrome rear bumper, carbon fibre bonnet and bootlid with pins (replaced by standard steel items for Improved Production racing), Toyota Rukus Voodoo blue paint by Jo Seeger Smash Repairs, colour-coded kidney-grille surround, black plastic wrap over headlight lenses with custom painted chrome rings clipped on, E30 DTM mirrors.
INTERIOR Fully stripped interior with V8 Supercar carbon kevlar racing seat, #Sparco four-point harness, Momo suede steering wheel, white Auto Meter Pro-Comp gauges in custom panel, adjustable throw gear stick, custom Barsted Rollcages roll-cage, Aerospec woven cloth for dash and door cards, boot-mounted aluminium fuel tank with Teflon braided hoses and ProFlow pressure gauge.
THANKS #RX-Automotive Brisbane, Jo Seeger Smash Repairs Hervey Bay, Robert Novak of Definition Motorsport for the Motec and dyno work.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSTAR OF CCTV #2015
All eyes are on this stunning, slammed Stateside E36 M3 which ticks all the boxes when it comes to visual impact. Josh Berger’s E36 M3 is a luxurious show-stopper in a post-apocalyptic frenzy of eyes and ears. That it’s also hilarious fun to drive seems to be merely a fringe benefit… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Mike Kuhn.
George Orwell had a paradoxical eye on this car back in 1949. When his frighteningly prescient dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four hit the shelves, the idea of an all-pervading culture of authoritarian surveillance shocked and disturbed, seeming inconceivable to a postwar society of scarcity and simplicity. And yet it’s pretty much come true: every facet of your modern existence is performed before a lens.
It’s never a surprise to learn that any act, movement or indiscretion has been backed up on a hard-drive somewhere. We barely notice those yellow triangular signs any more, we just assume we’re being watched. And there are three ways to react to this: you do the Orwellian thing and toe the line, never putting a foot wrong for fear of reprisals; you rebel, throwing authority’s diktat back in its face, and screw the consequences; or you follow the example of Josh Berger, the gentleman in the driving seat of this E36 M3, and just get on with things. Make yourself happy. The world is watching, so what’s the point in not being yourself?
Josh has always found himself under scrutiny and observation, it doesn’t bother him any. “I grew up heavily influenced by extreme sports and motorsports,” he explains. “I raced dirt bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles, and pretty much anything with an engine.” All of which sets him squarely in the searchlight – these are noisy, visible sports, the sort of thing that doesn’t easily blend you into the white noise of everyday society. And it was only natural that this exuberance would lead him into the colourful world of modified #BMW ownership, right? We’re all somewhere along that path, after all. We know the score. “I got my first BMW at the age of 17,” he says, “which was a nice little E30 ’Vert that I lightly modified before moving onto an E34.
E36s were always one of my favourites, though, and a few of my family members had some really nice M3s which is what got me hooked. At age 19 I bought my first E36… and it was a total shitbox! It had primer, bondo, scrapes, the interior was trashed, all of that stuff. After four years of work to get it up to scratch, and about $25k, the car was completely resculpted to my liking – before a drunk-driver decided to slam into it while it was parked and totalled it. So it began again. I bought another chassis, swapped all the parts over to it, got it a fresh coat of paint and I had another nice E36 for a while. After a year or so I sold it and went in and out of several other cars, experimenting with new ideas, as you do.”
It was around this time that Josh started working at Atlanta Motorsports Park as a driving instructor, and soon enough had the urge for another E36 M3. Again, he’s in a pretty visible position in a role like that, and he’s not showing any wallflower tendencies, is he? “I told myself that this time was going to be different,” he recalls. “At this point I had just got married, and my wife was expecting a baby girl, too. But that didn’t stop my dad and I from trying to find a great little track car… lo and behold, we found this little gem online. It belonged to another father/son duo who used it for HPDE (High Performance Driver Education) and track days. The car was pretty rough, showing all its years on the track, with thousands of stone chips peppering the whole front of the car; the interior was half-gutted. It was perfect!”
A quick test-drive was all that it took to convince the guys that this was the ideal base for their project, warts-and-all, and a truckload of extra parts sweetened the deal, along with comprehensive service info documenting the car’s entire history. The plan in embryo was to spin the thing up into a budget track car for weekend use, although life got in the way, as it’s so compelled to do, and Josh found himself yearning for a change of pace. “After a few months of it just sitting there after the birth of my daughter, I decided to slow things down a little bit and enjoy some time with my friends doing the ‘low and slow’ thing,” he says. “And so it began…”
Everyday life for Josh involves running an exotic and luxury car dealership by the name of GAS Motorcars, just outside Atlanta, Georgia. A mosey through the company’s stock list reveals such swanky trinkets as 356 Speedsters, Mercedes-Benz 600 Grossers W100, modern Ferraris and classic ’50s Chevys. When you’re surrounded by this sort of metal, you clearly get a keen sense of quality, finish and finesse. And it’s this environment that dictated the logical direction of the forlorn M3. It also helped the car’s character that it was specced with the Luxury Package (as opposed to the Sport Package which was, er, sportier); while the engine, transmission and suspension were the same, the Lux came from the dealer with unique wood trim inside, different non-twisty sideskirts, alternative doorcards and seat leather without M-stripes, and a raft of style changes to accentuate the premium accent. So, a concours-standard build to luxurious spec it was, then. Decision made.
As the myriad CCTV cameras refocused on the transmuting M3, Josh started to draw up a plan of action. And sorting the suspension had to be the first thing on the list. He was eager to get the thing nice and low but also retain a decent level of ride quality – essential if you have a tiny person to ferry about – and that’s where the experts at Broadway Statics came into play, their 500 Series coilovers fitting the bill perfectly. “I was going for a quality build this time – no shortcuts, just good, solid work,” Josh says with a deservedly heightened level of pride. “I purchased all new lights and got the windows tinted, and it started to clean up pretty well. And then it was time to think about the wheels.”
With the stance sorted and a vision for a quality finish in mind, choosing the right rims for the project was no easy task. After much headscratching and mocking up, Josh picked up a set of CCW LM5Ts from a friend who had them fitted to an E46 Saloon. “Then I had to find a way to make them fit!” he laughs. “This was the time to shine for Tim and Dan at TL Collision. Together we stripped down the entire car – glass, weatherstripping, all the panels – and then we pulled, rolled, hammered until we got the arches pushed out well enough. After smoothing the wings and recreating the factory body contours we wanted to keep, the car went in for paint.”
Oh, and what paint it is. Resplendent in a fresh and mile-deep slathering of BMW’s own Arctic silver, the colour is perfect to represent the class and quality that Josh was shooting for from the off – understated and subtle yet utterly beguiling in conjunction with the other modifications. It’s a shimmering masterstroke. “On the car’s return we put it back together with all new weatherstripping, new clips and grommets, and new glass all-round. I then decided to have a bit of fun in building a fully custom diffuser for the rear; it began its life as an OEM Lotus Evora diffuser, and it provided a lot of amusement for me creating this rear section, which was my first shot at metalwork and sculpting.”
With the body looking tip-top and the way the M3 sat being pretty much bang-on, Josh had his buddy Geordie at Butler Tire wrap the freshened-up CCWs in lo-pro rubber before bolting the whole shebang back together. From thereon in, it was simply a case of throwing a set of black Vader seats inside and enjoying the show season!
“I took it out to the Import Alliance show, Southern Wörthersee, Offset Kings, Southrnfresh and a few other shows this year and people’s reactions have been great,” he smiles. “People here in Atlanta have a good understanding and appreciation of the hard work involved in building a proper show car.” There’s also a lot of entertainment to be gleaned from the dropped-jaw bystanders who inevitably ask the same questions of a car like this: ‘how on earth do you actually drive it that low and with that camber?’ “It just makes me laugh really,” says Josh. Well, yeah – he’s built this car for him; people will either get it or they won’t. He called it a show car there but that really doesn’t do justice to the holistic view Josh has taken with putting this E36 together and pulling it back from the ignominy of being a tired, thrashed track car. The refreshed S50 straight-six has enjoyed a lot of bespoke headwork which, along with the custom exhaust (straight-through, no cats, really quite noisy) and the Stage 2 air intake, really gets the 3.0 singing from the motorsport song-sheet. It’s not just a show car, it’s a track car and a daily driver, too, and the focus on quality means it’s truly a car for all seasons. He’s really kept a focus on having a usable machine as well: “It’s all genuine OEM inside with an armrest delete, stock radio, nice and simple, just the way I like it. No CD upgrade either, it’s still got the original radio-cassette!”
It’s this attention-to-detail in terms of following a personal agenda that demonstrates just how Josh has built a car to be used, and used hard. Sure, he selfeffacingly refers to it as a show car – and it’s a bona fide show winner – but it’s a proper, everyday performance BMW, too. And while the CCTV cameras squeak on their pivots as they strain to keep track of him, he’s always keeping one step ahead of the game. Yeah, everybody’s watching, and he knows it… and that’s all the impetus he needs to keep it fresh. But it is, first and foremost, fun to drive, and that’s all an M3 needs to be. All eyes on Josh – but he’s having too much fun to care. In your face, Orwel.
Lotus Evora diffuser has been modified to fit the rear bumper.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-M3 /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30US / #S50 #BMW-S50 / #S50B30 , #AFE-Magnaforce Stage 2 air intake, polished head with five-angle valves, #Turner-Motorsports chip, full 3” straighthrough decat exhaust, five-speed manual gearbox, UUC M5 clutch.
CHASSIS 9.5x17” ET4 (front) and 10.5x17” ET9 (rear) CCW LM5T wheels with brushed faces with satin clear and polished lips (3.5” front; 4.5” rear), 215/40 (front) and 235/40 (rear) Nexen tyres, polished #ARP bolts, #Broadway-Static 500 Series coilovers with 16-18k spring rates, #Driftworks front camber shim kit, #Megan-Racing rear camber arms (-8 degrees of camber at rear, -6 degrees at front), factory-sized #StopTech grooved discs, #Hawk-Performance pads, steel braided lines, carbon-fibre brake duct with carbon-fibre backing plate.
EXTERIOR Body resto and respray in Arctic silver, all four arches pulled 1”, all new weatherstripping, new glass, lightly smoked corner lenses and rear lights by #DEPO , OEM headlights running 6000K HIDs, #AC-Schnitzer-Duraflex / #AC-Schnitzer front lip, 1995 M3 Sport centre grille, OEM paint-matched fog blanks and black kidney grilles, custom modified Lotus Evora rear diffuser.
INTERIOR Black Vader seats, ZHP gear knob, OEM centre console with armrest delete, OEM radio-cassette.
THANKS Thanks to my wife and family for all their support in this project. Also huge thanks to everyone who made this build possible: my BEAST COBB Squad, Tim at TL Collision for the paint, Dan Ho for the help on bodywork/suspension/fitment, Geordie at Butler Tire, John at Fastlane for his continued mechanical support, John at Global Imports #BMW for the OEM parts hookup, and all my friends who have turned wrenches on this thing with me. Much love!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationIRON PATRIOT
The seriously gorgeous Henna red, S50-swapped finale to CAtuned’s tri-colour E30 triumvirate. The CAtuned E30s are among the best in the world; here’s the final of the set, the #S50-swapped Henna red example, which completes the patriotic red, white and blue trio. Words: Ben Koflach / Photos: Courtney Cutchen
It’s amazing how some cars can just fall by the wayside. Sure, we can all fall on hard times and cars can be an easy thing to push to one side but sometimes this abandonment becomes sacrilege. Luckily, though, one man’s nuisance E30 is another man’s perfect base for a project. US tuning house, CAtuned, demonstrated this perfectly with this Henna-coloured car as it turned this classic 3 Series from a wreck into a car to be proud of.
When we say ‘wreck’, we mean it. This #1990 325i, which was originally #Calypso red, came into CAtuned’s ownership with a snapped timing belt, an interior that was as good as gone, damaged bodywork and smashed lights. To many, it was destined for the scrapheap. Fortunately, CAtuned front man, Igor Polishchuck, thought differently… “It was bought four years ago at a donation auction,” explained Igor. “I think I overpaid at the time, purchasing it for $1200 but I wanted to get something bad to show what we can do. It needed everything: the engine was toast, the interior was a goner, and the paint was unrecognisable.” After being rolled into the CAtuned workshop, though, it would never look the same again.
“I chose the Henna red colour because I always liked it and since BMW never made a late model E30 in that colour I figured, why not?” Igor explained. Of course, before it was packed off to the bodyshop, Igor and his team had a few of their own touches to add. The E30 was stripped to its core, and the body was restored, along with a few tweaks. The damaged parts were stripped or repaired and a central windscreen wiper mount was welded in.
While the E30, now no more than a rolling shell, was away at the bodyshop, CAtuned purchased a crashed 1995 E36 M3 in order to utilise its S50B30 heart in the E30. The 240hp US-spec lump was completely rebuilt with all new bearings, seals and gaskets, as well as an E34 sump to make it ready for the transplant. Reliable horsepower is hard to argue with, and this E30 was built with speed in mind.
Once the shell, now fully painted in the beautiful PPG Henna red hue you see here, was back at CAtuned, the rebuild began. The glass was refitted with all new seals and surrounds, and the team also had Euro bumpers and trims prepared for the car to get rid of the US-spec ‘diving board’ pedestrian safety items. CAtuned’s own splitter was bolted to the bottom of an iS front lip; no stone was left unturned. The original suspension was used to roll the car in and out of the bodyshop but beyond that its life was over. It was binned, with CAtuned coilovers fitted in its place. Igor worked for a number of years specifically designing and testing CAtuned’s suspension systems, and the guys have got it nailed. On this car you’ll find full coilovers all-round with separately adjustable ride height and pre-load, along with 32-stage adjustable monotube dampers. They’re perfect for on-road comfort and performance.
While they were at it every bush was replaced with polyurethane items, with a #Z3 rack and Eibach anti-roll bars to boot. Everything was bolted back under the car along with new wheel bearings fitted, leaving just the brakes to do. For these, Igor used new OE rear calipers with ceramic pads and grooved discs. All new brake lines were run from front to rear, with the aging rubber flexi-hoses replaced by CAtuned stainless steel braided items front and rear, as well as the clutch hose. Upgrading the braking at the front end – to match the planned horsepower – was done with a CAtuned Stage 2 big brake kit. It’s yet another product that Igor and his team have formulated over the years of building E30s and other classic BMWs; it comprises 285mm grooved discs and beefy four-piston Wilwood calipers.
The final addition to the chassis setup was, of course, the wheels. Igor had nothing but the best in mind, sourcing a set of BBS’s timeless RSs for the E30. These were finished with white centres and polished dishes, measuring 8.5x16” ET6 up front and 9.5x16” ET6 at the rear, fitted with nicely stretched BF Goodrich rubber – perfect for tucking up into those arches. As a finishing touch, Igor used Motorsport Hardware wheel studs to mount the wheels – what better way to promote your trade partners, after all?
With the chassis work done and the exterior well on the way, the CAtuned crew began work on getting that freshly rebuilt S50 mounted up. It was treated to a Fidanza lightweight flywheel and a new OE clutch before being reunited with its partnering #ZF five-speed gearbox and bolted into the little E30 using polyurethane swap mounts. The final step, ensuring that the S50 power could get down to the ground effectively, was a 3.25 final drive LSD, modified to have an aggressive 60% lock.
Of course, getting the engine bolted in was only half the story – there was a little more work to do before it would run. The front half of the exhaust system was left factory, with the rear half swapped for a custom stainless steel system with a Magnaflow muffler to keep things civilised. Next up: cooling. As a distributor for Mishimoto’s range of alloy cooling products, it was only natural that a Mishimoto radiator ended up in the car, plumbed-in with Rogue Engineering silicone hoses.
The occupants can be kept cool, too, which is vital in the California heat; the CAtuned guys retained the S50’s air conditioning pump and made custom lines to get it plumbed-in and fully functional. A Walbro 225lph fuel pump feeds the S50 with juice through all-new fuel lines, while the CAtuned guys got everything neatly wired in. Until recently the S50 was supercharged, using a VF Engineering system to deliver a hefty 350hp hit.
However, this has been removed for the time being and even a normally aspirated S50 in a lightweight E30 is still pretty potent. There was talk of going turbo with the car but for now a Castro intake does a fine job of getting fresh air into the lump. Igor estimates that it’s making about 250hp. With the running gear sorted, CAtuned just needed to finish the interior in order to complete the project. Fortunately CAtuned is an expert in doing interiors. A full black leather rear half was sourced, with Monaco reclining front buckets and red BMW Motorsport seat belts. A suede-rimmed M Tech 2 steering wheel, custom Bavarian Restorations dash cluster and genuine BMW floormats finish it off nicely.
The sound system was given a boost, too. The entire interior has been treated to Fat Mat sound insulation, with a German Car Audio boot box housing an Infinity amp and sub, all custom wired in.
CAtuned’s third and final E30 demonstrates a different take on the classic 3 Series to the ‘Miss blue’ and Alpine white M Tech 1 cars that you’ll have seen previously in the magazine. An updated powerplant and a thorough chassis upgrade give it some serious performance yet it retains all the classic cool of the late model E30 that it started out life as. This E30 hasn’t just been rescued from the scrapheap – it’s been completely reborn as an entirely new creation.
Three-piece RSs have been finished with polished lips and white centres; Motorsport door handles add the finishing touch.
DATA FILE #1990 #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i / #BMW-325i-CAtuned-E30 / #BMW-E30-CAtuned / #BMW-E30
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30 / #S50 (fully rebuilt), #Castro-Motorsport intake, original #BMW exhaust manifold and catalytic converters, custom rear exhaust system with #Magnaflow muffler, #Walbro 255lph fuel pump, #Mishimoto alloy radiator with #Rogue-Engineering coolant hoses, #Spal electric fan, custom A/C lines, #Fidanza lightweight flywheel, polyurethane engine mounts, five-speed manual gearbox, #UUC short shifter and dual-shear selector rod, polyurethane transmission mounts, 3.25 final drive ratio LSD with 60% lock.
CHASSIS: 8.5x16” (front) and 9.5x16” (rear) #BBS-RS three-piece splits with 205/45 (front) and 225/45 (rear) #BF-Goodrich tyres, #Motorsport-Hardware wheel studs and nuts, Z3 steering rack, #CAtuned Motorsport steering coupling, CAtuned full coilover conversion, #Eibach antiroll bars, reinforced trailing arms, CAtuned front big brake kit (consisting of #Wilwood calipers and 285mm slotted discs), slotted rear discs, ceramic rear pads, all new brake lines and CAtuned braided hoses.
EXTERIOR: Fully restored and repainted in #PPG-Henna red (originally Calypso red), Euro bumper conversion, single wiper conversion, iS front lip and sideskirts, CAtuned splitter, glass sunroof, all new locks, yellowed Euro ‘smiley’ headlights.
INTERIOR: Suede headlining, M Tech 2 steering wheel, Husco armrest, E46 ZHP gear knob, #BMW-Motorsport red seatbelts, custom stereo panel, German Car Audio rear sub box and amp box with all independent wiring, Fat Mat sound insulation throughout, #Bavarian-Restorations dash cluster, fully functional air conditioning.
Interior has been treated to suede headlining, an M Tech 2 steering wheel and a pair of Monaco reclining front bucket seats.
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