- Post is under moderationReturn of veteran ’Vette. Replica honours the five original Corvette Grand Sports. Words Glen Waddington.
/ #GM-LT1-V8 / #Tremec-T-56 / #Tremec / #GM-LT1 / #GM-V8 / #GM / #V8 / #1962-Chevrolet-Corvette / #Chevrolet-Corvette-C2 / #Chevrolet-Corvette-Grand-Sports / #Chevrolet-Corvette-Grand-Sports-C2 / #Chevrolet-Corvette-GM-LT1-V8 / #Chevrolet / #Tremec-T56
A 1962 #Chevrolet-Corvette in the new car pages? Don’t worry, we haven’t gone mad. This is the latest offering from Superformance, the company that brought you the Pete Brockapproved Cobra Daytona Coupe replica.
Zora Arkus-Duntov isn’t around to sanction this one, but #GM has licensed its production. Duntov, the engineer behind the ’Vette, originally planned a run of 125 cars, set to dominate the international road racing community, and the Grand Sport qualified as a GT production car – but only five had been built before GM executives pulled the plug and ordered their destruction. All five survived, but try prising one from the hands of its collector owner.
Which is where Superformance comes in. The cars are sold as TKM: ‘turn-key minus engine/transmission’. But Superformance is on hand to offer the final jigsaw pieces too. This test car is fitted with a 460bhp 6.2-litre GM-LT1-V8 and Tremec T-56 six-speed manual gearbox. Out back is the regular transverse-leaf suspension layout and the whole is wrapped in an ‘aesthetically and dimensionally correct’ glassfibre body, just like the real thing. Inside there’s a periodstyle steering wheel but greater comfort: power steering for a start, plus air-con and electric windows. Optionally you can install a ‘Touring interior package’, which offers more of an authentic look. The wheels are the correct raw matt Halibrand alloys.
Price? Call it $170,000 built and finished to this spec, though you can spend above that to gain a more powerful engine and different cosmetics.
You’d have to question whether such power is necessary though: this car isn’t lacking. There’s massive shove from the off, accompanied by a traditional V8 beat and thrillingly raw exhaust – side-exiting, naturally. Heard the racing ’Vettes thunder down Goodwood’s start/finish straight? The loudest cars at the event, and that jackhammer racket is authentically replicated here. It’s worth the entry price on its own.
Control weights are surprisingly light, with excellent brake moderation, light yet extremely precise and feelsome steering, and a satisfyingly substantial yet free-moving gearshift. You soon settle in and enjoy the flow, despite the threatening noises-off from under the door. Over Laureles Grade from the Laguna Seca raceway, the Grand Sport looks as though it’s escaped from its natural environment, yet it feels perfectly at home, riding ruts with enough body movement to let you know what’s going on yet without too much harshness. Power oversteer can only ever be a twitch of the throttle away but, as this twisting rollercoaster road proves, the Grand Sport is really a benign yet rapid device. If one of those five originals remains beyond your means, you can have an awful lot of fun pretending in this one.
Left and below The right looks, inside and out, plus the correct chassis spec. Pictured car sports a period-correct 377 engine, too.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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AMERICAN AT HEART
A supercharged #LS1 has created a monster of an E36. Whilst many E36 owners might dream of M3 straight-six or M5 V8 conversions, Ian Sutton has gone down a whole different route by fitting a supercharged LS1 V8… Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Gary Hawkins.
Engine options on the E36 from the factory were fairly plentiful – from the 102bhp 1.6-litre M40 to the 321bhp 3.2-litre S50 M3 Evo powerplant, BMW had it pretty well covered. But for some people – especially once you start talking modified car owners – too much is never enough, and we’re seeing E46 M3 straight-six, E39 M5 V8 and even some E60 M5 V10 conversions taking place more and more often. But while Bavarian horsepower is all well and good, why not think out of the box?
The General Motors LS-series of engines, or #Crate-V8 s as they’re often known, are a common choice for those wanting a simple, effective and proven way of reliable horsepower. There’s simply no denying it – there’s no replacement for displacement – and these engines are being seen fitted to all manner of cars, from Corvettes to Camaros, trucks to 4x4s, and (most importantly in this story) even the Holden Monaro, otherwise sold as the Vauxhall Monaro and Pontiac GTO. Far from the small block Chevrolet V8 many people seem to mix it up with, most LS engines have an all-aluminium construction, fuel injection, and are generally a far more modern proposal than you might think. And considering their displacement, they’re pretty compact units too.
Rewind just over five years, and you’d find BMW technician Ian Sutton thinking just the same – why doesn’t someone put the well-proven LS engine into an E36? He had the first part of the recipe, an E36 328i Sport, already, which he’d bought when he finished his apprenticeship at Coventry BMW and used for a couple of years before the Yank engine idea came up. Ian is also lucky enough to have a good friend who specialises in breaking the aforementioned Holden/Vauxhall Monaro, so you can see where the inspiration came from.
Ian’s engine of choice was the 5.7-litre LS1 from early Monaros, his in fact coming from the US-spec Pontiac GTO. And once it was in his hands it was time to get to work.
Not wanting to risk damaging his 328i in the process, he bought another one from work to use as a test shell for all the fabrication that would be involved. It was separated from its engine and the bay removed of all its clutter. Ian makes it sound so simple, but the next step was to hoist the GM V8 into the position he wanted it to sit and then fabricate mounts on the E36’s crossmember to suit – albeit after a bit of sump alteration to get it to fit behind the crossmember. At the same time it seemed the perfect opportunity to baffle it to avoid oil starvation during hard cornering. With the sump being off at that time, Ian decided to replace the standard con rod bolts with ARP items for added strength and durability.
With that done and the engine positioning perfected, the gearbox mounts could be fabricated, and stage one of the build was complete. Of course, the engine and gearbox weren’t hooked up to anything other than each other, but at least they were positioned in the car.
A full M3 Evo rear axle was to be used, so as with any engine transplant of this kind, a custom propshaft had to be manufactured first. Custom gear linkage was also created so that the gearstick could remain in the original position in the cockpit while governing the Tremec T56 six-speed gearbox from the Pontiac. Not content with leaving it standard though, Ian fitted a lightweight Spec aluminium flywheel, LS7 clutch, XRP braided clutch line and a GMM Ripshifter for faster revving and shifting.
Around the same time, Ian’s Monarobreaking friend was over in Australia and had got talking to Scotty at Capa Superchargers, which is well known Down Under for offering forced induction for many different cars, including the Holden Monaro. It didn’t take long for Ian to be convinced, and before he knew it, the Vortech-based ’charger kit was sitting on his doorstep.
Adding a whole new dimension to the build, it was soon discovered that the supercharger simply wasn’t going to fit the E36’s relatively narrow engine bay – not with the standard supercharger bracket anyway. With the help of good friend Gary, and with Ian having been part-trained as an engineer before becoming a mechanic, a plan was made, and the pair got straight on with measuring up the engine and bay (a painstaking process in itself, making sure all the pulleys lined up absolutely perfectly), then designing thier own bracketry for a variety of the components and having a local engineer construct it from billet aluminium. To keep the whole lot cool, Ian had Allisport fabricate the radiator, intercooler and oil cooler to his specifications, which all sit just behind the front bumper.
The exhaust was yet another challenge, as not only did it need to take the gases from the V8 as efficiently as possible, it was a pretty tight squeeze between the E36’s chassis legs, too. The only solution was to go custom, and Wye Valley Garage – where the project spent much of its time – was able to help. A fully TIG-welded stainless steel exhaust system from the manifolds to the tailpipes is the result of their hard work, and we have to say it looks absolutely perfect, and the silencers are repackable too. Finishing off the installation itself is an almost headache-inducingly well planned combination of parts. From the custom power steering fluid tank (with a #BMW cap mind you), to the E46 M3 header tank, OEM (but not necessarily 328i, in case you start thinking this is the easy bit) hoses that can be found all around the engine bay, to the XRP aeroquip fuel and oil lines used throughout, it doesn’t lack in attention to detail. Such was Ian’s quest to make it all look as factory as possible, he’s even used OEM BMW hose clips rather than Jubilees! When the time came to move the engine, gearbox, supercharger, exhaust, crossmember and gearbox mounts over to his prized E36 – he wasn’t going to do it by halves either.
They say a picture tells a thousand words, but let me tell you, even a thousand pictures couldn’t tell the story of just how immaculate this E36 is; Ian has rebuilt it bolt-for-bolt, using new components throughout, and powdercoating every part he could. You name it, it’s been uprated, replaced, or painted. The M3 Evo rear subframe and axle, M3 Evo front wishbones and hubs and brakes all-round, all new bushes, balljoints, links, Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, Eibach anti-roll bars… the list goes on. And it’s not just the underside that’s better than new, the bodywork is too, thanks to a bare metal respray. It really is astonishing, and it perhaps is only justified by seeing it in the metal.
Fuelling and management was dealt with surprisingly simply – being an engine so popular for transplants, especially over the Pond, management solutions are very well catered for. First, the ECU was sent over to Capa to be unlocked, having all of its security limitations taken off and being given a base map on HP Tuners software. To match the airflow that the supercharger was bringing to the table, a Walbro fuel pump rated to 255 litres per hour pushes the fuel through a Fuel Lab filter and adjustable fuel pressure regulator, before being flung into the engine by 42lb injectors. It’s certainly a promising sounding combination.
Rolling stock duties are put to #BBS LM replicas – Ian had originally wanted black centres with a polished lip, but there were differences between the 8.5”- and 9.5”-wide variants, so he went for all black rims with a subtle red line around the edges, and measuring 19” in diameter. The rest of the styling is a very much OEM affair, with a combination of M3 GT components, AC Schnitzer mirrors and subtle rebadging; the front and rear roundels having been swapped for carbon items, while the side rub strip badges – which Ian had custom-made by a local signwriter – now read supercharged.
One of the final steps was the interior, which Ian wanted kept as stock as possible. Again, nothing but the best would do, so perfect black leather and as little clue as possible as to what engine lies beneath. M3 gauges are cleverly hooked up to work with the new engine, made possible by the HP Tuners software, and to keep a really close eye on what’s going on underneath the bonnet, Ian’s installed a trio of Autometer gauges in the centre console, monitoring oil pressure, fuel pressure and boost. Not only are they installed neatly, but Ian took a long time researching to find a range of gauges that matched the factory orange lighting so as not to look out of place – his attention to detail really is mind-blowing.
The car made it’s debut at Santa Pod last year with great success, and on the strip it managed a 12.7 quarter-mile at 110mph – impressive, especially considering it was on a base map, and Ian was taking it easy. Of course he was keen to have it fully mapped to see what it could do, though, and John Sleath Racing was put in charge of the mapping, and the results were mightily impressive. A peak of 530.4bhp is only half the story – 550lb ft of torque is the kind of figure hardly any tuned BMW engine can boast, and especially not delivered in the same effortless way as the ’charged LS1, making it the ideal road car.
While the engine may not be a traditional choice for an E36, Ian’s more than proved it’s a good one. With power and torque in abundance, as well as an incredible V8 soundtrack, an overall feel of OEM quality (and then some!) and increased driveability and performance, he’s really shown that it doesn’t have to be a BMW engine to feel original. So the purists may hate it, but there’s no denying that it’s incredible. If for some reason BMW had made its own LS1- powered E36, I can’t help but think it would struggle to beat the perfection that Ian has struck upon. Thinking out of the box? Pah, he’s blown it to bits.
DATA FILE #Vortech / #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-328Ci / #BMW-328Ci-E36 / #BMW-E36-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-E36-V8 / #BMW-E36-LS1 / #BMW-E36-GM-LS1 / #GM / #BMW / #Tremec /
ENGINE: 5.7-litre #V8 #GM-LS1 / , #Vortech-V2 supercharger, #ARP con rod bolts, custom #ZF-PAS pump and mounting bracket, custom billet aluminium supercharger bracket and auto tensioner, custom baffled oil pan, #Earls-Performance oil thermostat, #Allisport custom front mount oil cooler, radiator, PAS tank with #BMW cap, front mount intercooler and pipework and oil catch tank, E46 M3 header tank, #Vortech-Maxiflow blow-off valve, 42lb injectors, #Walbro 255l/h fuel pump, #Fuel-Lab fuel filter and adjustable fuel pressure regulator, #XRP-Aeroquip fuel and oil lines, custom front cross member and engine mounts, custom fully TIG-welded exhaust including manifolds and repackable silencers, custom engine wiring harness, GM ECU with 2bar map and fully remappable HP Tuners software
TRANSMISSION: #Tremec-T56 six-speed gearbox, custom gearbox mounts, Spec lightweight aluminium flywheel, LS7 clutch, custom propshaft, #XRP clutch lines and remote bleeder, #GMM-Ripshifter with custom gear lever, full E36 M3 Evo rear axle
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) #BBS-LM replicas shod in 225/40 and 265/30 Falken FK452s respectively. Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, #Eibach anti-roll bars, M3 Evo front wishbones and hubs, AC Schnitzer carbon front strut brace, custom lower strut brace, Z3 M quick steering rack; full nut and bolt rebuild including all new bushes, balljoints and links with all new components powdercoated. E36 M3 Evo brakes all-round (315mm discs front, 312mm discs rear) with Performance Friction pads all-round and XRP braided lines
EXTERIOR: Full bare metal respray in original Arctic silver, face-lift nose cone, M3 Evo front splitter, M3 GT corner splitters and M3 bumper mesh, M3 GT two-piece rear spoiler, AC Schnitzer mirrors, carbon fibre front and rear roundels, supercharged badges in rubstrips
INTERIOR: OEM full black leather interior, #AC-Schnitzer short shift gear knob, E36 M3 clocks with oil temperature gauge, #Autometer boost, fuel pressure and oil pressure gauges, Alpine CDA 105 RI head unit
THANKS: www.wyevalleygarage.co.uk for the exhaust, fabrication, workspace and storage (01989 565001), www.lsxv8.co.uk for LS spares and conversions, Allisport (01452 751187), Scotty at Capa Superchargers (006 1885 823499), John Sleath Racing for the mapping (07976 751742), Nic J Racing (07970 192715), Gaz, Slim and Zip, Sytner BMW Birmingham Parts Department
Ian and the friends that have helped him make it look easy – modifying and baffling the sump and fabricating engine mounts, the exhaust and the supercharger bracket as well as many other parts. There’s also the tuning itself to consider, with the lightened flywheel and other uprated transmission components,
the supercharger and intercooler, and of course all the pipework and hoses, which all look OEM. A dimple had to be made in the inner wing to fit the ’charger too.
Combine that with practically rebuilding the entire car with everything renewed and powdercoated, and you can see what makes the car quite so amazing.
Other than the noise, the average passenger wouldn’t know the difference.
Unshakeable power – 5.7 supercharged American litres worth of it in fact – oof!
There’s simply no denying it – there’s no replacement for displacement.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAMERICAN HUSTLE / #BMW / #2015 /
What may look like a nicely-modded but unassuming E30 hides a potent 5.7-litre #V8 secret…
This E30 may be low and exceedingly sexy, but it’s what’s lurking under the bonnet that will blow your socks off… Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: Patrick Lauder
You’re probably looking at this E30 and thinking that it looks good because, let’s be honest, it does. The colour is nice, it suits the E30 shape and, yes, it’s on air, but what isn’t these days right? Air is cool, you might be thinking, and it’s clean and subtly done – just a really nicely modded E30 that anyone would be happy to own. And then you spot that bonnet-up engine shot: ‘Cor… Corvette? Whaa…?’
Now maybe you’re confused and have a disapproving look on your face. Suddenly you’re probably feeling some conflicting emotions because maybe you’re just not down with Yank motors in German cars. We can understand that – engine swaps are cool, everyone loves an engine swap when it comes from within the BMW family, but venture outside that circle of safety and, well, things get a bit fuzzy around the edges. But here at #Drive-My we’re definitely down with this sort of engine swappery. Owner Rich Hardesty-DeMenge is a brave man for stuffing that vast ’Vette V8 into his E30 (affectionately called Evette) not only because it’s a massive undertaking both in terms of sheer effort and finances, but also because brave is the man who sullies the classic purity of the E30. We admire his commitment to worshipping at the V8 altar.
Usefully, the 26 year-old is in “the engineering field”, so he’s a bit handy with his hands, and that means he was wellsuited to tackling this crazy swap with a little help from his brother, Brendon. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, because when a man decides he wants to put an American V8 in his E30, you want to get to know that man a bit better…
“I’ve liked BMWs since I was a child playing with model cars, before I was even dreaming of what kind of car I would eventually drive,” says Rich. “I have always found BMWs to be one of the best looking cars on the road, and I really enjoy the feeling I get when driving mine. When I was 19 I wanted a BMW and ended up buying a 2005 325i, though I figured out later I should have done more research into exactly what kind of BMW I wanted as it turned out to be a SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle) model so I was stuck doing only suspension and visual modifications.”
He did attempt to get more power out of it, but it didn’t exactly go to plan: “I got screwed out of a $7000 deal on a supercharger kit that a company sold me, guaranteeing it could tune the M56 SULEV to run the kit. Of course when all was said and paid for I installed the kit, but the company couldn’t tune the computer after all, at least not without having the car. As I was in California and the company was in Florida, I took the kit off, tried to return it. It wouldn’t accept it, so I ended up selling the kit for around a $3000 loss and started hunting for an E30 instead.
“My plan was to build a turbo M20 from the start. Power was all I cared about at the time. I actually bought a spare M20 and started building it before I had even found the car,” and seeing as Rich had modified every car he’d previously owned, that doesn’t come as much of a surprise. “I bought the E30 in Milpitas, CA, maybe 20 minutes away from the dealership that originally sold it. It had a cracked head, the brakes were shot, it was an automatic, had no interior, and the person I bought it from had begun parting it out. It was in pretty sad shape, but the body was rust-free and straight, and that was all I cared about. It ended up with a built M20 stroker with a Holset HX35 turbo running 18psi that I put together myself before deciding on the engine swap…”
As a side note, while it may say Corvette on the rocker covers, the 5.7-litre (5665cc and about 346Ci if you want to keep things American) all-alloy LS1 V8 that fills the E30’s engine bay to brimming point was actually extracted from a 2002 Camaro Z28. This engine was used in the C5 Corvette, albeit in a slightly higher state of tune (350hp plays 305-325 depending on flavour of Camaro), though according to everyone and their Chevy-driving dog those figures are conservative to protect the Corvette’s status and in actual fact all the engines made about the same power at around the 350hp mark. Considering most people carrying out V8 swaps on E30s opt for the 4.0-litre M60, with its 286hp and 295lb ft of torque and find that more than enough thank you very much, an additional 40hp on paper and 50lb ft make for a silly fast car that gets to enjoy the massive spread of torque that comes with a huge capacity engine. Naturally, that wasn’t enough for Rich, so he added a few go-faster bits under the bonnet including a Texas Speed 228r cam, LS6 intake, having the head ported and polished and upgrading the valvetrain. These engines respond well to bolt-ons so we’d be guessing it’s got to be knocking on the door of 400hp now, which is just a bit silly really.
“The biggest issues my brother and I ran into was fabrication,” explains Rich. “as we did the entire swap on a set of jack stands over three years ago. There were no ‘swap kits’ available back then that allow you to simply drop the drivetrain in like there are today. We had to make our own motor, trans, hydroboost and second differential mount, along with fabricating the entire exhaust by hand, which is a dual 2.5” system that goes into a single 4” oval exhaust that runs back to a Magnaflow muffler.”
Considering that an LS-swap is still not exactly easy now, the fact that Rich and his brother did all this by themselves when things were even harder is very impressive. Of course all that go would be no good if Rich’s E30 couldn’t put it down effectively so the chassis has been thoroughly overhauled. Purists among you may question why he opted for air-ride over coilovers with such a serious engine lurking under the bonnet because, you know, bags don’t handle (#sarcasm). “I ran Ground Control coilovers for a while,” he says “but I knew I eventually wanted to put air-ride on the car. Having a bagged ride had been a dream since elementary school, and the days of reading Mini Truckin’ and Truckin’ magazine. So I did just that, I bought a DIY kit that required a fair bit of customisation, and my brother helped me fabricate everything. Overall, I have to say I really like the way it handles and rides with bags, even over coilovers,” so deal with that, bag haters.
Beyond that there’s the practicality that comes part and parcel of an air-ride setup plus the fact that, aired out with BBS RSs tucked up inside its arches, this E30 looks just plain badass.
“Wheels were a really tough choice,” muses Rich, “but I have always liked the mesh style with a polished lip, and the BBS RSs fit the bill quite nicely, I originally had a 16” set on Evette, which were stolen, so I ordered the current set that you see on the car and, as luck would have it, I found and managed to get back the stolen set of 16s within a couple days of receiving the new 17” set, leaving me with an extra set of RSs for my other E30.”
The final touch is a set of uprated brakes, because you can’t be driving around in an E30 with almost 400hp on the standard setup. Tucked away behind those BBSs you’ll find a set of Wilwoods front and back running 310mm discs all-round with six-pot front calipers and four-pots at the rear, delivering just as much stop as the engine does go.
Styling-wise things have been left pretty much standard and in our opinion this was most definitely the right thing to do because the E30 is such a perfect piece of design it would seem wrong to mess with it. “I find E30s to be a genuinely good looking car from factory minus a good drop and nice set of wheels, so I decided to keep it stock, although I did install a rear valence from a late model to help balance the car out,” Rich tells us.
The interior, too, has been left untouched, but why start messing around in there when you’ve got Sport seats and an M Tech I wheel? “I ended up finding a well-used but good condition full black interior after I bought the car,” he says, “which I cleaned up and installed. I do have a full red interior I would like to install, but it needs to be reupholstered first.” The only item that is alien is that baseball-sized gear knob attached to the six-speed Tremec T56 gearbox beneath.
While Evette might look finished to you and I, Rich has more plans in the pipeline, and they’re not just a new bumper or set of wheels… “I’m going to end up throwing a large single turbo on the passenger side of the engine bay at around 8psi,” he says casually and nonchalantly, like a man describing what he plans to order for lunch. “Plus the new interior eventually and another paint job – this car will never really be done,” which is of course how pretty much most of us feel about our project cars. For now, though, Rich and his brother have built something a little bit special, a seriously good-looking E30 with the sort of intoxicating power and thunderous soundtrack that will make you want to put a V8 in everything, and we certainly wouldn’t blame you for that…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E30-LS1 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #LS1
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 2002 5.7-litre #LS1-V8 / #GM-LS1 / #GM / #LS1 , #TSP-228r cam, ported and polished heads, LS6 intake, #Tremec-T56 / #Tremec six-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS 9x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #BBS-RS wheels with 205/35 (front) and 215/35 (rear) tyres, custom #DIY #Air-Lift Performance air suspension, #Wilwood #BBK with 310mm discs (front and rear) and six-pot calipers (front) and four-pot calipers (rear).
EXTERIOR Late model rear valence welded on, iS side skirts.
INTERIOR Black leather Sport seats, #M-Tech I steering wheel.
“Overall, I have to say I like the way it handles and rides with bags, even over coilovers”
“I’ve always found BMWs to be one of the best looking cars on the road, and I enjoy the feeling I get when driving mine”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationHorse flies / The #Shelby name returns – and makes this an extremely rapid #Ford-Mustang indeed / Words Glen Waddington / Photography Matthew Howell / #Ford-Mustang / #Ford-Mustang-MkVI / #2016 #Ford-Mustang-Shelby / #Shelby-GT-Mustang / #Shelby-GT350
John Simister has already raved about the latest #Ford Mustang in these pages, but on both occasions he was talking about the standard car. You know, the one that leaves the Ford factory as Ford intended. Just imagine if the original had done only that. No #Shelby-GT350-MkVI , no GT500. Less of a legend, in other words.
The Shelby name has been synonymous with power-pumpin’ Ford V8s and go-faster Fords for so long. And while the Mustang has basically been a bit crap for two or three (maybe four) decades, it has now undergone the kind of resurgence that can’t be ignored. And Shelby American Inc, even without ol’ Carroll himself in the saddle, hasn’t missed it either. The starting point is any Mustang 5.0 V8. A good car in its own right, with proper rear suspension at last (they had live axles out back until this year) and the kind of interior that won’t repulse Europeans any more. Yours, in right-hand drive no less, for about 40 grand, and sophisticated enough that you could think of it as a more distinctive alternative to a Mercedes-Benz E-class coupé, complete with a burbling V8 and six-speed #Tremec in place of a four-banger diesel auto. But what if you want an alternative to an E63 AMG?
This car (left-hand drive but completed by Surrey-based specialist Bill Shepherd Mustang; www.billshepherdmustang.com) is not only the car to do that but also the very first of the breed. Three packages are available, the first offering the carbonfibre bodykit (bonnet, tail panel, sills etc) and billet alloy grilles plus freeflow stainless exhaust and intake, a short-throw gearshift, 20in forged alloys and matching tyres, uprated springs, dampers and anti-roll bars and altered suspension geometry, as well as various cosmetic identifiers. To that you can add Shelby Wilwood brakes (six-pot calipers up-front, and vented, cross-drilled discs) and, finally, the Shelby Power Upgrade: Ford supercharger, intercooler, intake and ECU remap – for the full yee-haw corral of 627 horses (actually 618bhp).
This car has all three, plus uprated driveshafts and a sprint diff ratio, on top of a full-house option spec that would probably cost an extra mortgage on that Merc. You can have your own built to order (with a Shelby chassis number); meanwhile, this one is offered by Bill Shepherd Mustang for £79,950. It looks quite menacing: think Black Series Merc though at ‘production’ AMG prices. Americans tend to paint over carbonfibre and it’s fair to say that the raw weave here looks exactly that, with a few wobbles in the weft and the odd sharp edge. Inside, the ambience feels suitably transatlantic, referencing the 1960s ’Stang as well as the bodywork does yet without feeling overtly retro. Only ersatz stitching on the centre console jars. All of which you’ll forget when you put your foot down. Your ears are assailed by a proper oldfashioned V8 beat, overlaid with supercharger whoosh, while you push up through the gears (a proper stick on the floor, though first is almost redundant!) with utterly indecent haste.
The shift is extremely tight and precise, the steering feels organic and quick-witted, the ride is very refined yet, depite generous dimensions, the Shelby feels well-contained and superbly poised. That new rear suspension works very well indeed, and the Shelby upgrades haven’t introduced undue harshness.
If you’re not in rodeo mood you get to enjoy hushed though still insistent forward motion. This is one car that lives up to its GT moniker – and its Shelby badging – in equal measure.
Above. New Mustang expertly references 1960s original, and Shelby upgrades make it distinctive without being distasteful. Huge power, speed and nimbleness come at no cost to refinement.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCONTINENTAL DRIFT #BMW #BMW-E63-LS3
Think drifting and you probably don’t think #E63 6 Series but with a twin-turbo V8 under the bonnet, this stripped-out machine is as far from a cosseting GT as you can get. You might not think that a 6 Series would lend itself to drifting, but with a twin-turbo V8 under the bonnet all bets are off… Words: Peter Griffiths. Photos: Deniss Podnebess.
“The engine install and body kit are my favourite aspects. I like that it stands out in a crowd”
It is probably fair to say that the main reason you are adding performance to your BMW, and therefore reading this magazine, is because it has RWD. Before even passing my driving test, I vividly remember practising how to spin the wheels on my first car, an 1984 Cavalier, within the confines of my parents’ driveway after having worked out the logic of it in my head before going outside. ‘Clutch out, revs up, handbrake down, clutch in…’ I told my young self. The rush was real, having done it deliberately rather than accidentally, and only enhanced by the 40 foot long driveway. I knew FWD was good but, despite that, I knew that RWD was the key to driving heaven but it was a long time before I got a proper taste of it.
Not all of us are as lucky as Ingemārs Jēkabsons whose first car was an E36 of unspecified engine size. But you and I both know that the engine size matters not; the fact that the rear wheels are driven by the inline engine at the front is all any car fan needs to know. His passion was inherited, as he explains: “I have loved BMWs since childhood. My father drove me to my hockey training sessions in his BMWs. Our family had lots of different models over years ranging from E21s to E32s.”
At the fine age of 31, Ingemārs is enjoying life in Ādaži, a small village just outside the Latvian capital Riga and is a family man, who plays guitar in a metal band, and loves hockey, skateboarding, snowboarding and most of all, drifting. In fact, skidding sideways on low-grip surfaces is clearly in his genetic make-up.
During the day he is a co-owner of several service centres under the name of Concept Auto, providing a comprehensive range of general maintenance to the general public as well as a line of uprated performance parts for most marques. His dream BMW is the venerable E9, but the first car that he actually modified was an E28. This was quickly followed by a distinctive E34 in which he competed for a while, and then an E24 635 CSi into which he poured a huge engine, a trick gearbox, clutch and front arms.
The E24 had a distinctive look. With a Mopar-style grille and various battle scars, it really gave a powerful impression of postapocalyptic driving – y’know, drifting between the cars abandoned on the highways. This is the car with which Ingemārs first departed from BMW-derived combustion. Into the venerable executive coupé he poured a box-fresh 6.2L V8 Chevrolet #GM #LS3 , a Tremec TKO-600 gearbox, Tilton clutch, and a Wisefab front set to cover the geometry.
The next stage in the story is open to interpretation. The facts are that the E24 was Ingemārs’ first pro drift machine, it is what he piloted through various competitions around Europe, gaining some notoriety and silverware along the way. Then, out of the blue, he says: “I had an opportunity to change the body to new for a small amount of money, so I bought an accident-damaged E63 which had lost a wing and a door. I bought it cheap, but have spent a lot more money on modifying and racing since!”
Once he had bought the E63, he trailered it back to his workshop and started assessing the full extent of possibilities of how it could all go together. The first decision he made was to re-use the majority of the E24’s running gear in the newer, larger shell. Is that unsentimental of him? Was it harsh to strip the old warhorse of its new shoes and send it out to pasture without so much as a goodbye? Or was it more like honouring a retiring knight by handing on the tried and tested, battle-hardened sword and shield to the next upand-coming fighter from the new breed?
The rough plan for the engine alone went a little something like this: “I wanted upwards of 700hp at least, and it had this amount right after it got built, when the engine was not even running on full. Lauris Ruskuls spent two months with the engine and it ran fine right away. We had some previous experience and lots of details taken from the previous project, so everything went okay.”
Ingemārs and Lauris obviously had a lot of fun researching the best combination of parts for this particular stage in the LS3’s life, because their list of mods is strong. It begins with the twin German BorgWarner turbochargers strapped to each bank of American cylinders, enjoying oil pumped around by one of USA’s finest Melling double-chain oil pumps mated to a British oil rad by Setrab. In those cylinders reside 8 NASCAR-spec, All-American SRP pistons riding equally American Lunati con rods. A water pump from a dragster makes the USbased Meziere fire water through an Australian PWR radiator, which sits snugly next to an aesthetically pleasing custom intercooler made by a Riga-based company called Latvian Custom Radiators.
The multinational nature of the car was inevitable given its origins. The Drift Allstars European series is a hotbed of variety and Ingem rs’ big E63 stands out amongst the usual E36s and E46s that represent BMW. All nationalities are represented, sharing experience and technologies in a pursuit which is borne purely out of fun and that is so appealing.
Now, the elephant in the room is that the 6 Series is BMW’s grand tourer, a continentcrusher, a coastal cruiser full of comfort, refinement, power and some excellent handling characteristics for a relatively stately wafter. It’s big. However, Bangle’s controversial flame surfacing goes some way to disguising the dimensions, but it really isn’t as heavy as it might seem due to the whole front frame being aluminium and surrounded by mostly plastic panels.
We think it cuts a fine figure, and the snook it cocks at more conventional approaches to drifting is hugely appealing. Much of the main shape is retained, but there are several unique additions at the request of Ingemārs of a talented chap called Girts Tautkums. Girts installed the (Japanese) Liberty Walk body kit and fabricated a custom rear diffuser to suit.
“The engine install and bodykit are my favourite aspects,” he says, which pretty much covers it. “I especially like the way it stands out in a crowd. The interior needs to be functional but details are also important.”
It’s almost certain that the first thing that draws the eye when checking out this interior is that dash. On first glance it appears to be brushed aluminium or such, but closer inspection reveals that it is, in fact, wood. This unusual touch is definitely a nod to his sidewalk surfing days and almost certain to be a unique feature in the paddock. We think it’s a great idea, excellently applied. The row of neatly plumbed Stack dials is uncluttered and focussed, as per his requirements, while the grippy floor panelling picks out the darker areas and gives a fresh, open feel to the once luxuriously-appointed cabin.
The decision to fit the 21” Alpina Classic III wheels was a unilateral one and we’re not about to argue with him on that. The stark white picks out the detail of the wrap perfectly, as do the red highlights on each spoke, lending a very cohesive feel to the exterior. This all helps the huge twin air filters, currently nestling behind the headlights, to stand out in their luminous green glory while belting around track like the eyes of some demonic beast.
Seven whole months of building his perfect dream drift car later and he was ready to take it drifting: “The first competition I entered it into was the Latvian stage of the Drift Allstars but the car was not running as intended. It was fun, but we didn’t win anything! That has been the most frustrating moment with the car so far; the build itself went very well,” he remembers. Fortunately, he hasn’t met anyone that doesn’t like his car, such is the openness of the drift scene to all approaches.
Looking to the future, Ingemārs thinks: “It’s too early to modify anything; it is perfect as it is, especially since it hasn’t competed at 100% yet. So we will prepare it for that and get back to doing what I love most: drifting it on full throttle! I haven’t played with it enough to consider the next modification, let alone the next car.” We can’t wait to see what waves he can make in 2015 with his bold creation, and we wish him all the best.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 6.2-litre #GM-LS3 V8, twin #BorgWarner turbochargers, SRP pistons, Lunati con rods, Meziere electric water pump, Melling double chain oil pump, PWR radiator, Nitram custom intercooler, Setrab oil radiators, HGK safety piping, ATL fuel tank, Varley Red Top racing battery. #Tremec TKO 600 fivespeed manual with a Tilton clutch.
CHASSIS: 8.5x21” (front) and 10x21” (rear) #Alpina Classic III wheels, BC coilovers, Wisefab front geometry, standard #BMW-E63 brakes with hydraulic handbrake.
EXTERIOR: LibertyWalk body kit including front and rear bumpers, side skirts, all arches, ducktail, custom rear diffuser and a custom wrap.
INTERIOR: OMP seats and wheel, Sparco harnesses, Stack dials on custom wooden dash.
THANKS: Lauris Ruskuls, Girts Tautkums, everyone at Custom Auto, Latvia and my family.
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- Post is under moderation#BMW #V8-powered E30 #Muscular 5.3-litre two-door. THE PERFECT BLEND. A sublime two-door #E30 packing a 5.3-litre V8 punch. Stuffing V8s into E30s is definitely a good thing, and if you live in the States, well donor American muscle is always close at hand. Words: Seb de Latour. Photos: Anna Taylor.
I wanted people to know something was different about it but not easily pinpoint what the differences were.
While the E30 M3 and other E30 rarities are considered by many to be off-limits when it comes to modding, the rest of the classic 3 Series line-up is pretty much fair game. In fact, if you’re talking about the smallerengined members of the family, then carrying out an engine swap is almost encouraged. Of course, purists would love to see a Munich motor tucked under the bonnet but I don’t discriminate when it comes to engines and as a card carrying member of the V8 fan club (with a secret soft spot for American muscle), I don’t particularly care where your V8 is from, I just care that you’ve got one. That means that I’d get on just fine with Bret Gerding as this gentleman has built himself a rather tasty, good ol’ American LS V8-powered E30.
Bret’s automotive background saw him growing up in a household that embraced automobiles from both the US and Germany. His dad regaled the young Bret with tales of the cars of his youth, mostly the muscular sort, including Camaros and Chevelles, giving him a taste for homegrown talent, mainly Chevrolets, while an E12, E28 and E30 gave him an appreciation for Munich’s finest. “I actually cried at three years old when my parents traded their Five for a more family-friendly Isuzu Trooper when my sister was born,” he says. “I was very upset and said to my mom ‘I want the BMW!’”
Given the car-based education he had whilst growing up, his project is hardly surprising and Bret says, “I feel like it’s the perfect marriage of my car interests”. In a feat of impressive determination and direction, this E30 was purchased with the sole intention of getting an LS V8 under the bonnet. “I always loved the classic style and lines of the E30 chassis,” he says. “And once I knew that the LS engine would fit, I set out to find a project car to build.”
Handily, Bret has past hands-on experience of V8-based shenanigans as he and his dad built a #1994 Chevy S-10 pick-up truck, swapping out the anaemic fourcylinder for a 5.7 LS1 along with a whole host of other mods. “The S-10 was a blast,” says Bret, “and certainly fast in a straight line but I decided I wanted to build something that could tackle the turns as well as straights. I fell in love with the grunt of the LS1 and sixspeed in the truck, so I knew whatever I built would have to have the same drivetrain. After looking at a few different options, I settled on the classic E30 for its good looks and handling abilities. Ever since my dad had a #1986 #325es when I was younger, I liked the idea of having another BMW in the family, this time with more power!
“I searched around on Craigslist and other online sites for a few weeks and came across this one in Scranton, Pennsylvania, about anhour- and-a-half from my house. The guy wanted $1000 for it, which was at the lower end of most of the cars I found. It was in pretty shoddy condition but didn’t have much rust, which was all I was really concerned with. My buddy Chris took the trip out with me and I paid the seller’s asking price. All I wanted to know was if it would make it home. When he said it would be okay I handed him the cash. He probably thought I was nuts because I didn’t really ask many questions about it! Once I got it home, the engine and trans were promptly pulled and sold to make room for the new transplant.”
Before cracking on with that, Bret did a little housekeeping, carrying out some interior repairs and swapping out the dash before getting stuck into the meat of the project. “The car now runs a GM 5.3-litre L33 engine (LS family) and a #Tremec T56 from a #2004 #Pontiac #GTO ,” he explains. “The engine was originally from a pick-up truck and all the accessories and the intake manifold would not work for the swap, so it’s now equipped with an LS1 intake manifold and all LS1 Camaro accessories. The motor and transmission mounts were custom fabricated by me in my garage. I also modified the headers for better clearance around the steering (Sanderson units), and built the full exhaust system. The main goal was to make everything fit and operate in the E30 chassis, so not much was done in terms of engine mods aside from headers and the LS1 intake manifold. The engine also has a modified GTO front sump oil pan to clear the subframe/steering rack. I cut out a section and made a patch, which my dad welded in for me. The biggest issue was steering shaft clearance to the driver’s side header. Although it would have fitted without modification I chose to reroute the direction and bends of the pipes for more length and clearance. This was my first time building an exhaust and though I’m happy with the result I’d like to become more proficient with welding and reconstruct the whole system in stainless steel. Although I have not had it dyno tested, I’d predict the engine to now make between 325-350hp at the wheels.
“Body-wise, the car has a full plastic bumper swap including a grafted-in lower rear valance. All of the fitting was done by me. It also has Depo smoked Euro headlights and Euro grills. I envisioned the car having a very sleek appearance, slightly modernised, without straying too far from stock. It had to look somewhat factory but also look out of the ordinary at the same time. I wanted people to look at it and know that something was different about it but not be able to easily pinpoint what the differences were. I also had a vision of keeping a sort of black and white theme, so everything is either body coloured or has black accents, along with the charcoal wheels. I did not want to have any chrome on the car. The body mods and bodywork/paint were all done by me and it took a bit longer than expected. I spent a good six months getting everything to fit correctly, priming, and blocking to make it perfect. The effort in those initial stages really shines through in the final paint job. In staying true to the stock appearance, I wanted to keep the interior looking close to stock. I was lucky enough to have the car come with a houndstooth interior that was in decent condition, requiring only minor repairs, some of which I did and some of which my mother helped out on. I swapped in a crack-free dashboard, a junkyard score. The shift knob is from an original #1969 #BMW-2002 , so it keeps the vintage/stock-feel going. If you glance inside the car, you really can’t tell that it’s running anything other than BMW components underneath.
“In terms of suspension, it’s equipped with Ground Control coilovers, 550lb/inch at the front and 700lb/inch at the rear. I shortened the front strut assemblies one inch. Every bushing and bearing under the car was also replaced with either stock or upgraded aftermarket components. It runs brand-new stock brakes, though the fronts are soon to be swapped in favour of an Ireland Engineering big brake kit.”
We love how standard Bret has kept his E30 looking, inside and out, and the fact that a lot of work has been carried out but you really wouldn’t notice unless you started having a particularly careful nose around. The black grilles and smoked headlights give the car a fat, dark strip up front that ties in nicely with the Apex wheels which, despite being 17s, look a lot bigger, in part thanks to that perfect drop and those spokes reaching right to the edge of the wheels. “I wanted a wheel that had a classic Euro style,” explains Bret, “but was a bit larger than stock, making room for a future brake upgrade. I also wanted something that fitted the chassis properly with a decent size tyre. The Apex Arc-8s fit the bill exactly.”
These darker elements contrast perfectly with the paintwork which, despite looking white, is actually called Light Grey Metallic, as found on the BMW S 1000 RR motorbike. The iS additions give the car a little more visual muscle whilst still keeping things OE and that ridiculously clean interior hasn’t been messed around with, as it’s perfect in just about every way. Peering under the bonnet it’s clear that the L33 was a bit of a squeeze, taking up as it does most of the room in the engine bay, but it’s an incredibly neat install and Bret has done an amazing job. It took almost three years to get the car finished and ready for its first outing. “I took it to a show at Vargo dragway in Perkasie, Pennsylvania,” says Bret. “It’s really a vintage drag racer/muscle car show but I took the E30 anyway. Most people were very impressed with the engine swap and also commented on the paint. It was funny to listen to some people’s comments from a distance. An old couple were looking at it when the husband said to his wife something like ‘that must have been the optional engine. Mine didn’t have that’. My friends and I got a good laugh out of that one.” Aside from the aforementioned plans for a big brake kit, Bret’s not got much more planned for the E30 and it’s not going anywhere either. He says he’d like to get another E30, something with a straight-six, to have as a daily driver but he’ll keep his V8 creation. With it’s classic, subtle OE styling carrying a hint of aggression and that hulking great slice of pure Americana shoehorned into the engine bay, we can’t blame him.
2005 #Chevrolet 5.3-litre L33 from a Silverado (the aluminium block H.0. engine), modified GTO front-sump pan, LS1 intake manifold, LS1 F-Body water pump and accessory drive, Sanderson Headers, driver’s side heavily modified to properly clear steering shaft, full custom exhaust -2.5” from headers to Y-pipe into 3” cat, 3” back to Pypes M-80 glasspack with Pypes 68-69 Chevelle Tip.
T56 six-speed gearbox from a 2004 GTO with new stock LS1 flywheel, clutch, pressure plate, throwout, stock 2.93 LSD (now swapped for 3.25 LSD).
8x17” (front and rear) Apex ARC8 wheels with 215/40 (front) and 235/40 (rear) Yokohama S-Drive tyre, Apex 75mm stud conversion, Ground Control coil conversion, 550lb front 700lb rear, Touring camber plates, GC RSMs, E36 steering rack, Vorshlag E30 competition steering shaft (for use w/ #E36 rack), E36 diff cover with custom dual mounts in floor, Delrin M3-style offset CABs, poly trailing arm bushings with weld-in camber adjusters (e30tech), new Lemforder control arms, Meyle anti-roll bar end links F&R, Febi tie rods, new wheel bearings all four corners, stock brakes all-round, discs and pads from Turner, rebuilt calipers, steel braided line kit from ECS tuning, massive booster delete with modified pedal ratio (6.2:1), stock ATE master cylinder.
BMW Light Grey Metallic (motorcycle colour), plastic bumper conversion with shortened rear bumper, DIY Euro trim, new OEM front valance, iS lip, foglights, 88+ rear valance welded in, moulded into arch wells, Euro grilles, gloss black kidneys, smoked front turn signals, Depo smoked Euro smiley headlights, new Schwarz OEM iS spoiler, shaved side mouldings, new OEM iS skirts, DIY Shadowline trim, new Shadowline window locking strips, new PGW windscreen.
Pearl beige vinyl Sport seats and rear bench (now swapped for the car’s original houndstooth Sport seats and rear bench), houndstooth doorcards, 7000rpm tachometer, Garagistic ODO gears.
Thanks to any of my friends who helped me out at any time along the way during the project. Also thanks to my family for putting up with my takeover of the garage to build this car! Thanks to my dad for helping out along the way with various little projects, like any TIG or aluminum welding that had to be done.
Thanks (Seb & Anna) for the feature!
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