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    FINCREDIBLE HULK #BMW-M535i-E28

    Once a mild-mannered E28 #BMW-M535i , this Finnish 5 Series is now a fearsome rage monster brandishing a terrifying 886hp courtesy of its turbocharged M30. Mental turbo E28 shows the kids how it’s done. This might look like a mild-mannered E28 but you wouldn’t like it when it’s angry… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Jape Tiitinen.

    BMW E28s need love. They’re getting rusty, rare and actually quite expensive to buy, certainly in the UK, and much like any classic they are not often casual, off-the-cuff purchases. You have to want an E28 because it requires commitment. Buying an E28 is a serious undertaking, one often reserved for lifelong BMW enthusiasts who’ve always wanted to own this classic saloon. Enthusiasts like Tobias Holmkvist, perhaps? “Well, when I bought this M535 my interest in the marque started to grow but I can’t really say I’m a #BMW guy,” he reveals. Oh, guess not then…

    So, just what attracted this 20-something car enthusiast to the sharkey E28? Well, for our Finnish truck body builder, this car presented itself as the perfect proposition for what he was planning. “I wanted to build a crazy car for street use,” he says in the matter-of-fact manner that someone might use when telling you that they’ve just bought a new shirt. “And to me the E28 is an old and beautiful model, plus this car already had a lot of performance parts installed. It was in pretty bad shape, though, and needed a rebuild so I bought it to have something to spend my time on.”

    Purchased in Sweden, Tobias’ E28 needed more than a little TLC to get it roadworthy again, requiring no less than a complete interior overhaul, rust removal and a respray, making this far more than just a casual project. But then again Tobias is a man who enjoys a challenge and likes building cars that are a little different from the norm (such as the 415hp Mercedes diesel estate he built back in 2008), so the prospect of restoring this E28 and turning it into a fire-breathing monster was no doubt a tantalising one.

    Now, if you want to build yourself a crazy powerful road car, you’re going to need to build yourself one serious engine. Luckily the M30B35 is the perfect candidate for turbocharging and makes the ideal base for building up a serious powerplant. Tobias has left no stone unturned, or at least no engine component unmodified, in his quest for power. The engine has undergone numerous evolutions but the current spec is its most impressive incarnation.

    First off, the block has been fitted with a reinforced bottom plate to stabilise it; it’s been bored out by 0.5mm and CP forged pistons have been fitted, though the crank has been left stock. The head was ported by Tobias himself and fitted with an Enem Z55 turbo camshaft, steel rocker arms and Stage 2 valve springs while ARP bolts ensure it stays clamped tightly to the block. Initially, Tobias was running a Holset HX55 turbo with a Megasquirt standalone ECU but he wasn’t happy with the way the car performed. “The Holset was too small,” he says, being rated for about 570hp, “so I removed the Megasquirt and the Holset and replaced it with the Precision turbo and MaxxECU engine management, which got the car running like a dream with better spool, more power and better engine control.” The turbo in question is a 7275, rated to 1015hp, offering the sort of horsepower potential that Tobias was looking for. In addition, it’s been fitted with a 46mm Precision wastegate. The intake and exhaust manifolds were both made by Tobias, with a 4” downpipe running from the turbo into a 3.5” exhaust with a single silencer, while on the intake side there’s a seriously beefy intercooler, measuring 600x450x100mm with a 3” inlet and a 4” outlet. You’ll also find 1680cc injectors sitting on a billet fuel rail, a VAG COP ignition system, a PWM controlled electric water pump and electric cooling fan. It’s a heavyweight list of mods and it results in some seriously heavyweight performance figures, with 2.3bar of boost resulting in 886hp and 758lb ft of torque, which is more than any sane person could ever possibly need, but whether it’s more than someone like Tobias could possibly want is another matter altogether…


    To go with all that power, Tobias has opted for an E39 M5 gearbox uprated with a Sachs 765 pressure plate and sintered clutch along with a homemade propshaft with M5 joints and an LSD at the rear, which allows him to put down some very long 11s on the Tarmac. The brakes have also been uprated, naturally, with 348mm discs up front and 320mm items at the rear, offering much needed enhanced stopping power. When Tobias bought the car it had already been fitted with lowering springs and uprated dampers, so he’s suck with that combo, adding Powerflex bushes throughout and M5 anti-roll bars to try and quell the car’s slightly tail-happy nature, though we wager that ramping up the power to over 800hp has probably undone most of his hard work on that front.

    Of course, even when you’re building a mental fast road machine like this, you can’t forget about the aesthetics and while Tobias has kept things looking pretty OE on the outside, there are plenty of hints that let you know this is most definitely not your run-of the-mill E28. Up front, one of the high beam lights has been replaced by a colour-coded air intake that feeds air directly to the massive cone filter wedged into the corner of the engine bay, while at the rear you’ll find an E30 M3-style spoiler crowned with a home-made gurney flap, complete with a message for anyone foolish enough to have attempted to tangle with this E28. And there’s no need for multiple exhausts here when one fat tailpipe does the job just fine, thank you very much.


    The AC Schnitzer Type 1 Racing wheels, Tobias reveals, were actually on the car when he bought it, and he liked them so much that he almost bought the car just for them, though they were in very bad shape and he spent 20 hours rebuilding them. Not that you’d know, mind, as they look absolutely spotless and the gold-on-white combo is pretty much perfect.

    The interior is a blend of OE calm and hardcore aftermarket additions. “I had always wanted a car with a full roll-cage,” explains Tobias, “so I decided to build one. A friend helped me with the TIG welding but I built it myself. It was very hard to make but the result was very good. I also fitted a set of E34 M5 leather seats and I made my own leather door panels, suede steering wheel and lowered steering column.” Tobias also chucked in a hydraulic handbrake, because that’s the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a 800hp E28 that’s very good at going sideways!

    The boot is home to numerous fuel system components, plonked unceremoniously to one side, but with the most exquisite components and the engine bay most definitely deserves a mention because while it might not be a polished-up show bay, it’s very clean and tidy. We particularly love the colour-coded piping and intake plenum.

    It’s taken Tobias four years to get the car to where it is today, a slow steady process of annual evolution, and this E28 has become something of a beast. It’s an epic machine that’s fulfilled Tobias’s brief of being “a crazy car for street use”. Judging from the pictures, Tobias seems pretty happy with the results, too, and it’s good to see a car like this being used in anger; then again, how else could you possibly use it?

    DATA FILE #BMW-E28 M30B35 Turbo

    ENGINE: 3.5-litre straight-six #M30B35 , bore increased by +0.5mm, stock crank, CP forged pistons, reinforced bottom plate to stabilise block, ported #M30 B35 head, #ARP bolts, Enem Z55 turbo camshaft, steel rocker arms, Stage 2 valve springs, custom intake and exhaust manifolds, #recision-7275 turbo, 1680cc injectors, #VAG coil-on plug ignition system, #MaxxECU ECU, PWM-controlled electric water pump, #PWM -controlled cooling fan, billet fuel rail, Precision 46mm wastegate, 4” downpipe with 3.5” exhaust and single silencer, 600x450x100mm intercooler with 3” inlet and 4” outlet. 886hp and 758lb ft @ 2.3bar.

    TRANSMISSION: #Getrag-Type-D six-speed manual gearbox from E39 M5 #Getrag , #Sachs-765 pressure plate, sintered clutch disc, home-made propshaft with M5 joints, LSD.

    CHASSIS: 8.5x17” (front) and 9.5x17” (rear) #AC-Schnitzer-Type-1 Racing #AC-Schnitzer wheels with 225/45 (front) and 255/40 (rear) Federal semi-slick tyres, single-piston callipers (front and rear) with 348x30mm discs (front), 320x22mm discs (rear).

    EXTERIOR: High beam air intake, E30 M3-style spoiler with custom gurney flap.

    INTERIOR: Full roll-cage, E34 M5 leather seats, custom leather doorcards, suede steering wheel and lowered steering column.

    THANKS: My friends that have helped me with this project, all your help has really been appreciated.
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