- Post is under moderationGENERATION GAME / #BMW-M535i / #BMW-M535i-E28 / #BMW-M535i-Eaton-supercharged-E28 / #BMW-M535i-Rotrex-supercharged-E28 / #BMW-E28 / #BMW /
The UK’s only supercharged E28s are an impressively eclectic pair owned by an equally different father and son duo with a long-standing love of BMWs.
SUPERCHARGED UK E28s Classic Fives with power!
Owning the only two supercharged E28s in the UK, this father and son duo are the custodians of some seriously cool metal. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Woods.
BMW E28s are precious things. Long gone are the days when you could pick one up for £400 (like I once did) and with the vast majority of the shabby ones now having rusted away, those that remain need to be cherished. Whilst the E24 6 Series might be the obvious choice for those looking for something sleek and ‘sharky’ to slam, the E28 is currently getting lots of love, too. Last year no less than three bigpower classic Fives appeared in DRIVE-MY and there are plenty of extremely attractive examples around, like this pair, for example.
Kris Rourke and dad Jon are the custodians of this unlikely pair – one an exceptionally clean sleeper, the other more of a retro hot rod, with the two cars reflecting their owners’ personalities and motoring preferences.
The very clean red car belongs to Jon, with Kris driving the brown bad boy. While both cars are without doubt very different, they share one significant similarity: they are both supercharged. That elevates this pair from being merely modified to really rather special, not least because of how rare a thing a supercharged E28 is.
That father and son own E28s is unsurprising when you learn that Jon has been at it for years, which means Kris was destined to follow. “Dad’s always had BMWs and has had about six or seven E28s,” says Kris. “They were always in my life when I was growing up and my first car was a 2002ti, mum and dad’s 2002 in fact, which they gave me when I passed my test. It all started from there really. I’m also into Jap stuff and have had loads of J-tin, all modified and all with big power.” So the draw of another powerful, modified car was inevitable and the odds of it being a BMW were good.
Pay attention, because things get a bit complicated now. “Two years ago I had a Fiat Cinquecento and loved it but then my other half and I had a baby and I couldn’t get the baby seat in the car so it had to go. Dad had a blue M535i at the time so he gave me that as it was more practical and bought himself the red supercharged car. I then sold the blue one to buy dad’s red one, which is now my brown one, and when I started modding that dad realised he missed it and bought himself the red supercharged one he now owns.” Got it? Good.
For Jon, a London cabbie by trade, the appeal of the E28 is easy to see. “It’s a lovely retro classic car,” he says. “It stands out and it has road presence. All my previous E28s have been standard – as long as they go and work I’m happy,” he chuckles. “This red one is much more of a hooligan car, though. I was just looking around on eBay for interesting cars, spotted it and went for it. It had been in a garage for about seven or eight years and while the body was good, underneath it was rotten,” he says.
Not that you’d have any clue as to the car’s previous state of disrepair now thanks to the amount of time and money that Jon has invested in it. The whole floor has been repaired, as have the sills, while the suspension has been renewed and new brakes have been fitted. Jon also replaced the chrome exterior trim with Shadowline, while inside the original cloth seats have been replaced with leather Sport seats. Thankfully having a rust-free body meant one less area that needed attention and the red colour really looks fantastic on the E28. So too do the 17” Style 5s – easily one of the greatest wheel collaborations between #BBS and #BMW .
Of course, what’s really exciting here, on both these cars, is what’s under the bonnet, and these are the only two supercharged E28s in the UK. Jon’s car has the slightly more stock-looking engine bay, though there’s no missing the supercharger and its accompanying pipework. The kit here is a Jamsport setup, which cost whichever previous owner that decided to fit it a cool £6500, and uses a more traditional centrifugal supercharger.
This E28 may be no spring chicken but you can still appreciate the work that has gone into fabricating the pipework for the kit. It’s all expertly finished and assembled and there’s a lot of engineering squeezed into here. The most impressive part of this setup is the custom alloy rad, intercooler and associated pipework, which originally cost an eye-watering £5000 and comes courtesy of McLaren (hence the price tag and quality of the work itself). The FMIC is tucked behind the kidney grilles and ahead of the rad. On top of that sits an oil cooler for the supercharger, as this older design requires an external feed. It’s not for show, either, with Jon telling us that running at around 6-7psi it’s making 303whp, which is an awful lot of power in a car as light as the E28 and definitely makes it a bit of a handful. Not that he’s complaining, mind, he’s loved every minute of the 18 months he’s spent with the E28 – a long time for him as he likes to change his cars often.
And so we come to the brown E28, Kris’s rowdy, raucous, unashamedly showy counterpart to his dad’s more demure example. Kris was fortunate in that his E28 was in a better state, though as it had come from his dad that’s not much of a surprise. A quick glance at the exterior of the E28 is enough to tell you that there’s clearly something going on here. There’s a sort of rough-edged charm to the whole car, visible in the interior with its auxiliary gauges mounted on a bright red backing plate and that well-used Nardi steering wheel. Where the engine bay of the red E28 is a relatively discreet affair, on the brown car it’s much more of a mad scientist affair. What you’re looking at here is an extremely impressive home brew positive displacement supercharger setup.
In case you don’t know, a centrifugal supercharger produces more boost as engine speed increases, normally producing peak boost very near to the engine’s redline and where it would normally be producing peak power in naturally aspirated form. A positive displacement blower, like a Roots or twin-screw item, on the other hand, produces peak boost instantly, meaning you get massive low-end torque and immediate response from the engine when you put your foot down, making for awesome mid-range thump. Positive displacement superchargers are also a lot more complicated to fit.
Generally speaking they are large, bulky items that are traditionally mounted directly on a custom inlet manifold, feeding air into the engine via a chargecooler. In contrast, centrifugal superchargers are smaller and run cooler, so they can happily operate without any sort of intercooling. The fact that Kris’s car is running a positive displacement blower, an Eaton M90 to be precise, and a home-made installation at that, is very impressive.
Of course, the fact that it’s a homebrewed setup means that it wasn’t perhaps running as best as it could have been when Kris took over custody of the car. “I’ve improved a lot of things since I bought this E28,” he says. “It had no management for starters and was just running a fuel pressure regulator, so I fitted a Megasquirt ECU and had the cam blueprinted. I changed every boost hose and pipe and replaced the FMIC with a chargecooler.” This is that big metal box on the front left of the engine bay. It cools the intake air by passing it through a core filled with water, which is itself passed through and cooled by a heat exchanger mounted at the front of the engine bay, hidden beneath a clever lift-off panel. “This saw intake temperatures drop from 90ºC to 40ºC,” says Kris, “and I’m planning on adding methanol injection, which should bring them down to about 20ºC and help the engine make more power.”
The rather industrial-looking pipework under the bonnet is a bit of a maze but it all begins at the air filter which is shrouded in carbon and fed with cooling air via the hole in the front grille where the passenger-side high beam unit would normally sit. The air travels through the black flexi-pipe and into the supercharger inlet, then up through the outlet on top, round the back of the engine bay and into the chargecooler, through the core, and then into the original inlet manifold on top of the engine. The fact that the E28’s engine bay is quite capacious and allows for the supercharger to be mounted by the side of the engine and to feed into the original inlet manifold is a bonus. There’s a lot more beneath the bonnet beyond the supercharger, though, including a B35 Stage 3 head with bigger valves, a Schrick 296 cam and a Fritz’s Bitz exhaust manifold.
It’s a monstrously impressive installation but how does it perform? According to Kris, the car made 252whp, which is definitely enough to be getting on with, but also an amazing 350lb ft of torque at just 1800rpm, which is the beauty of a positive displacement blower. When Kris had nitrous on the car it ran an 11.8-second quarter-mile, which is extremely impressive and puts it in the company of cars like the Jaguar XJ220, Audi R8 V10 and Aston Martin V12 Vantage S.
“I took the nitrous off as I knew I would never really use it,” he continues. “I was too scared of blowing the engine up… but I might put it back on. I really want 400hp and the supercharger is holding the car back – it’s not making as much boost as it should and I need to run more boost to make more power.
I’m considering my options. I might rebuild the supercharger or I might go for a turbo conversion. It’s quite a lot of money but it would definitely mean I could hit 400hp. And I like the idea of having a turbo. I have 90% of the parts I need, so I’m almost ready.”
Of course, we can’t discuss Kris’s car without discussing its colour. It’s not paint or a wrap but is, in fact, Plasti Dip – the spray-on, peel-off rubbery coating that can provide a quick and easy way to change the colour of your car and then change it back again when you get bored! “I was approached by DipMyVehicle, who offered to dip my car for free in exchange for having it on the company’s stand at the Santa Pod show, so I went for it,” Kris explains. The colour is called Sunset bronze. Although it may look pretty brown when the light hits it there’s a subtle change in colour and you can see a light metallic element in the coating. Combined with the aggressive drop on Spax springs and black, 19” CSL-wheels it makes this E28 into a bit of a bad boy.
The brakes have also been uprated, with E34 540i discs and calipers front and rear running Mintex pads, while the gearbox is a 260/6 unit running the ratios from the E28 dog-leg transmission with a separate bellhousing, Black Diamond Stage 3 clutch, and modified centre donut on the propshaft.
Both cars have had a vast amount of time and effort devoted to them – Jon’s car on the bodywork and Kris’s on the mechanicals – but the results speak for themselves. E28s need love and attention so we’re delighted that this father and son team stepped up to the plate.
It’s a lovely retro classic car. It stands out and has road presence.
DATA FILE Eaton supercharged E28 M535i
3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 , compression ratio lowered to 8.1:1, #B35 Stage 3 head with 1mm bigger valves, #Schrick 296 cam, B35 inlet manifold, 550cc injectors, #Sytec FPR, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, 8-micron fuel filter, CDA carbon air box with cold air feed, custom crank pulley, #Eaton-M90 supercharger, ported top hat, custom charge cooler system, #Brownlow alloy radiator, Fritz’s Bits heat wrapped manifold and full system, #Megasquirt ECU running MS2. 252whp, 350lb ft wtq
/ #Getrag-260/6 gearbox with separate bellhousing, #Black-Diamond-Stage-3 clutch, modified centre donut on propshaft, factory #LSD / #Getrag-260
8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) M3 CSL wheels with 225/40 (front) and 245/35 (rear) Bridgestone tyres, #Bilstein gas dampers all-round, #Spax lowering springs, polyurethane front torque arm bushes, E34 540i discs and floating calipers front and rear, #Mintex racing pads all-round
Plasti Dipped in Sunset bronze over original #Zinnobar red, driver’s-side high beam removed for cold air feed, clear front and rear indicator lenses
Standard E28 M535i leather, three-spoke Nardi leather steering wheel, M5 gear knob, Innovative wideband #AFR gauge and boost gauge in centre pod
Paul Higgs, Ed at Fusion Motorsport and Justin from dipmyvehicle.com
DATA FILE Rotrex supercharged E28 M535i
3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 / #M30 / #BMW-M30 , #Rotrex supercharger, custom alloy radiator and intercooler system, 440cc injectors, #Gotech-Pro-X-ECU with custom wiring loom, #Ram air filter, Fritz’s Bits manifold and exhaust system. 303whp @ 7psi
Standard M535i dog-leg ’box, standard factory LSD
8.5x17” (front) and 9.5x17” (rear) #BBS-RC090 Style 5 wheels with 225/40 (front) and 245/40 (rear) tyres, #Bilstein dampers, uprated lowering springs, front and rear strut braces, #Black-Diamond drilled and grooved discs, EBC Redstuff pads
Zinnobar red, dechromed, clear front indicator lenses,
Standard M535i leather seats
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- Post is under moderationEXTRA RARE CITROEN BX 297bhp, supercharged GTi
This immaculate BX was saved from the scrappy and now makes a very healthy 297bhp... Words Midge. Photos: Matt Woods.
“There are so few of these cars left now, it’s even more impressive”
It could be argued that the #Citroen-BX-GTi-16V is one of the most underrated hot hatches of all time. It’s certainly one of the rarest. That’s not to say they didn’t make a few, between 1987 and 1993 they rolled-out around 3000 of ‘em, but the fact is nowadays there’s probably only about 30 left and, by anyone’s standards, that’s a pretty rapid demise. On the face of it this motor had all the performance credentials. Along with its ‘in-house’ brother, the Peugeot 405 Mi16, it was the first French car to be fitted with a 16V lump. It was slightly faster than the Pug too with a 0-60 time of 7.2-seconds and a top speed in excess of 140mph… and don’t forget that was way back in 1987. The special edition bits and pieces on the body, especially when it came to the 1990 Phase II model, were sweetly distinctive and the all-round disc brakes that had been fitted to the whole BX range since 1982 didn’t go unnoticed either. Some say it was ahead of its time. I’m pretty sure they’re right.
So, what happened to them all? You would think that enthusiasts would be all over these right? Well, the trouble is they’re unbelievably complex and, being from #Citroen , when they went wrong it was generally something a tad more expensive than a thermostat. Fitted with Citroen’s hydropneumatic suspension system (albeit one of the coolest inventions ever) it wasn’t exactly a car that was easy to fix and that’s probably why over the years many have donated their Mi16 innards to keep a 405 or the odd converted 205 ticking along. It just goes to show that sometimes being totally different to the competition doesn’t always help with longevity. And that’s a massive shame.
Of course the other reason may have a little to do with the styling. Like many of the older Citroens the BX has always been something of an acquired taste. Some, like myself, think the shape is extremely cool, in a retro kinda way. Others say these look like the bastard child of Robocop and your nan’s Zanussi washing machine. Either way there’s no denying they all have a face that only a mother could love.
Ian Nixon, the creator of this particular supercharged beast agrees with me on that. He fully admits he’s never been a fan of Citroens but equally he couldn’t step away from the serious performance the BX GTi 16 offers. “I hated them until I realised the potential. I tried to blow one of these off in my Audi 80 when I was a kid and before I looked round it was gone. I couldn’t believe it.” Years later Ian had a Xantia run-around and was impressed by the handling the hydropneumatic system serves up so, with that in mind, an old school BX build was always on the cards – the only trouble was finding one.
Locating a base car that’s rarer than a load of hen’s teeth nestling in a pile of rocking horse shite is one of those neighon impossible tasks. I guess Ian was lucky coming across a car collector that wasn’t exactly impressed with his. Then again ‘lucky’ is a relative term and a blown head gasket on the drive home kicked off an epic re-build quicker than he may have imagined.
Still, like many of us, Ian isn’t the type of fella to pull off a head, chuck on another gasket and leave it at that. Being an engineer and a bloke who looks after all sorts of highend exotica, race cars and performance motors he asked himself the eternal question “why just repair when you can improve?” And I suppose the rest is history.
If you read through the engine spec you’ll see it’s extensive to say the least. Even though Ian specifically states that on a car like this “everything’s a mission” he’s managed to squeeze 297bhp from the 1.9-litre lump with the help of everything from a fully re-worked head, forged internals and a custom Rotrex supercharger install. There’s even a 6-speed box conversion! What’s more, the real talent lies in how it’s all been put in – if you ignore the fact it’s not covered in oil like many an old Citroen out there, it almost looks factory. That’s not an easy task to pull off.
The rest of the car is just as immaculate because it’s taken nearly as much work as under the bonnet. Then again, you don’t go throwing 8-grand’s worth of lump in a 400-quid motor with over 20 owners on the logbook without wanting to sort out a few bits along the way. Ian contracted the bodywork out to a local restoration shop and I’d like to say the rest was easy, but unfortunately it wasn’t. With the car stripped and not a whole load of work completed in 6-months he actually had to go and get it back before they destroyed the whole thing.
Handily they managed to lose most of the special 16V parts too meaning Ian had to find another whole BX 16V, just to get the bits needed to compete the job. It was another seriously lucky find, even if the circumstances were a little infuriating. The second time around Ian enlisted the help of paint supremo Steve Bell, and after a serious amount of welding (yes, it’s a proper Citroen) and fettling it left the booth pretty much as you see it today. With the stunning Dolmen Grey respray and a few exterior touches it’s clear that he’s chosen to keep the styling true to the original. Even the 17-inch BBS wheels are somewhat reminiscent of the standard 14-inch Speedlines fitted at the factory. A subtle but undeniably nice touch.
In all, it’s not been the simplest of jobs but you have to commend Ian for his never-failing persistence. Without bringing that quality to the table this could have so easily been yet another BX 16V relegated to the scrappy. Instead he’s not only built himself one of the sweetest retro motors in the UK but, perhaps most importantly, he’s kept another super-rare French legend on the streets.
TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATIONS #1991 #Citroen-BX-GTi-16V-Phase-II / #Citroen-BX / #Citroen-BX-GTi
Engine: 1.9 #XU9J4DFW engine ( Mi16 ), stage 5, high flow head, big valve #Siamese ported cylinder head, #Kent-PT81 inlet cam/ PT82 exhaust, #Kent VS34 double valve springs and titanium retainers, Kent vernier pulleys, #Richard-Longman 4-1 manifold, #Cosworth-57X exhaust manifold fixing kit D6C block with #DFW pistons (comp 9:5:1), PEC performance H section light weight conrods with #ARP bolts, #Peugeot-Motorsport GPA 1:1 oil pump, Constella Sump baffle, Mocal oil breather system, #Accusump 4 quarts oil accumulator system, #Rotrex SP30/74 centrifugal supercharger, Pace charge cooler from RS turbo, Range Rover P38 intercooler, #Samco intake and discharge pipe work, #Baker BM coolant hoses, #Baker-BM engine hung mounts and solid stabiliser mount, Standard #Bosch-Motronic 4.1 ECU live mapped by Wayne Scofield of Chipwizards, #Astra-VXR injectors, #Sytec high flow fuel filter, Sierra #Cosworth GPA fuel pump, #FSE fuel pressure regulator.
Transmission: Peugeot 306 GTI-6 BE-6 gearbox, #Quaife-ATB differential, Royal Purple oil.
Chassis: 17-inch #BBS-RX alloys, 205/45 R17 tyres.
Interior: Standard 16v Le-Mans cloth trim, #VDO boost gauge, Quaife nylon gear knob.
Exterior: Extended bumpers to accommodate intercooler, additional air intake on NSF wing, fog lights removed and turned into brake ducts, steel bonnet, Mk3 Golf gas bonnet struts, resprayed respray in original Citroen Dolmen Grey.
Thanks Steve Bell for the paintwork, Peter Greenwood for the fibreglassing expertise, Wayne Schofield for the mapping and advice and Jackie for spanner passing, making tea and towing around the country on trailer.
“I hated them until I realized the potential...”
Period interior is also in decent nick. #BBS 17s look almost OEM.
The fat pipe gives you a clue...
Mi16 unit makes 297bhp.
“There are so few of these cars left now, it’s even more impressive”
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