- Post is under moderation’CHARGED Z3 M Track-focussed monster. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Patrick Lauder. From bone stock to supercharged autocross monster, this Z3 M Coupé has spent 14 years becoming the best machine it can be.
Supercharged / #BMW-Z3M-Coupe / #BMW-Z3M-Coupé-E36/8 / #BMW-Z3M-E36/8 / #BMW-Z3-E36/8 / #BMW-E36/8 / #BMW-Z3M / #BMW-Z3M-Coupe-Supercharged / #BMW-Z3-Supercharged / #BMW-Z3M-Coupe-Supercharged-E36/8 / #BMW-Z3 / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E36/8 / #BMW
In America they call it the clown shoe; in the UK we call it the bread van but whatever you choose to call it the Z3 Coupé remains an incredibly special and unique machine. #BMW attempted to recapture the magic of its quirky miniature shooting brake with the E86 Z4 Coupé and while it was arguably a better car, it was also a lot more conventional and lost a lot of the appeal of its quirky forebear. Being unconventional may have caused people to fall in and out of love with the Z3 Coupé throughout its life but standing out from the crowd has most definitely worked in favour of the eye-catching machine and that is exactly why Grant Gillum ended up buying this car.
“I wasn’t a BMW guy per se,” Grant begins, “but I knew they made a quality product. As college was ending I began researching nice used cars to purchase after graduation. I wanted a front engine, rear-wheel-drive car that could be modified and used for autocross and track days. It would also be my daily for a while. After considering several cars including Corvettes, Camaros, Porsche 944s and 928s, the Pontiac GTO (not a used car at the time), Datsuns and Nissans of many years and models, I decided on an E36 M3. I liked the styling, the daily sensibilities and the aftermarket availability. They were also uncommon and more exclusive. All that changed the day that I saw a Z3 Coupé in traffic,” he says. “I had seen a million Z3 Roadsters and wasn’t really interested in a convertible. But this was different and I wasn’t even sure what I was looking at. I certainly didn’t recognize it as a Z3. It had a BMW logo so I started researching all their models, eventually finding information on the M Coupé. All the engine of an M3 but lighter, with a factory wide body, staggered wheels and a look that was comparable to some exotics. Sold. I had to have one,” he smiles. “It took nine months of scouring the internet to find the right one.
I bought a 22k mile example, bone stock but for a Dinan CAI and a stage one tune and still under warranty. I bought it sight unseen except photos and had it shipped cross country. I realized right away too that the M Coupé was a limited production run vehicle and so would be a cheap way for a blue collar guy to own something special. I bought the car knowing it would be a lifelong project car. I’ve known plenty of grey haired dudes that sold the hot rod of their youth and regretted it the rest of their lives. Not me. Hopefully,” he adds.
Unlike other owners who buy their cars and start out with no plans for modifying, Grant knew he was going to mod the Z3 and knew exactly which direction he wanted to take it in. “I wanted to race it right away and joined an autocross club soon after buying it,” he says, and his passion for autocross is shared by his wife. “Six years ago she came with me for a day at the track. She rode along on a couple runs and decided to give it a try. Except when pregnant, she’s raced in nearly every autocross event that I have since then. Averaging our times to a 60 second run, she’s about a half second off me. She’s been as close as a tenth second off my time. I’m much more of a fundamental driver, she drives much more by the seat of her pants. As soon as she tightens up her fundamentals, she’ll beat me,” he says. While you can take any car to an autocross event, if you’re serious about this particular form of motorsport, as Grant is, then your car will need to be modified and in a focussed way that will enable you to get the most out of it, which is why virtually everything he’s done to his Z3 has been all about making it a more finely-honed, precision autocross instrument.
It’s also why the supercharger that you can see strapped to the side of the engine came last and everything else came first as the chassis, handling and dynamics were the priorities here.
Wheels and tyres were the first items on what would become quite an extensive shopping list and while aesthetics do obviously play a part, lightness was mostly the deciding factor as far as wheel choice was concerned. “I went online and found the lightest wheels I could for the car,” explains Grant. “I bought a set of OZ Alleggerita HLTs in 8x17” and 8.5”x17”. They were light at less than 17lbs (7.7kg) per corner and dropped considerable unsprung weight over the stock wheels and I converted to wheel studs too.
I ran those wheels for a couple of autocross seasons before switching the rears to the front and widening the fronts to 10” and putting them on the rear. Now they weigh 16.8lbs (7.6kg) and 17.9lbs (8.1kg) front and rear; they are light, strong and handsome,” and what more could anyone ask for from a wheel? “I also run a set of 8x18” and 9x18” ASA AR1 wheels with black centres and 2” and 3” polished lips front and rear on the street,” he adds. The 17s really suit the Z3, as you can see in the photos, especially with the fat sidewalls of the super-sticky BF Goodrich g-Force R1 tyres filling out the arches and those tyres let you know that this M Coupé means business.
With lightweight wheels and track tyres taken care of, the next item on Grant’s to-do list was the suspension, and while he started off small, things quickly escalated. “I started with H&R springs and kept them for a few years until they sagged,” he says, “then I switched to Ground Control coilovers and adjustable spring perches. But not before modding the anti-roll bars with reinforcements, adding differential reinforcements, rear shock mounts, sub frame reinforcements and rear camber and toe adjustments. Then I poly bushed it followed by aluminium control arms.
“Disaster struck at the autocross one day when the diff pulled away from the subfloor and the rear end went squishy,” says Grant. “I thought that one of the rear anti-roll bar end links had given way. That’s how I got a tube frame rear subfloor that is way stiffer than the stock car ever thought of being. I love the coilovers, of course, but the single greatest suspension mod was poly bushing the rear subframe. It really changed the way the car transitioned weight in-corner to being much more predictable,” he says. As is often the case when it comes to modding, when things go wrong, break or fail, rather than just replacing them you upgrade them so, as with his boot floor, when the clutch started to slip Grant fitted an F1 Racing stage two clutch and 14lbs chromoly flywheel as well as a stainless steel clutch line and then added a UUC short shift kit and double shear selector rod plus a Z3 2.3 steering rack. Further drivetrain upgrades include a poly differential bush, UUC aluminium engine and transmission mounts and a rebuilt diff with four clutch zero preload and 80/60 ramping, polished ring and pinion gears and a 3.64 final drive in place of the standard 3.23 item. “Before the supercharger, lowering the final drive was a really dramatic NA mod. It went a long way to help pull me out of slow second gear turns,” explains Grant.
With the suspension and drivetrain taken care the Z3 was a far sharper machine but now the car’s stopping abilities needed to be addressed. “When I started doing a lot of track days it was apparent that the stock brakes were not up to long days of abuse,” he says. “That’s when I did the brake conversion and ducting. What a difference and zero fade. I didn’t go too big on the disc diameter as I was concerned with reducing as much rotational weight as possible, as autocross is more of a low speed competition.” The Z3 now wears Wilwood six-pot Superlite front calipers with 330mm GT-48 floating discs and Wilwood Dynalite four-pot rear calipers with 312mm lightweight discs and Wilwood B pads allround, while the ducting ensures that the brakes receive plenty of cool air to deliver peak performance at all times.
Having carried out all the groundwork to make sure that all aspects of the chassis and drivetrain were at peak performance, Grant could now turn his attention to extracting more power from the engine.
Unlike our Euro-spec Z3 M models, the US cars were fitted with the S52B32 engine, based on the M52, which had to make do with 240hp and 236lb ft of torque so it’s no surprise that Grant wanted to up these numbers. “I started with keeping the engine NA and wanted to let it breathe better,” he says. “I upgraded the cooling system with a rad, water pump thermostat and cover immediately. I kept the CAI and did the M50 intake manifold exchange and I also did the BBTB at the same time. A cat-back exhaust followed and a year later came exhaust manifolds and a mid-pipe. In general I would wait until OE parts needed replacement and would upgrade at that time; that way the financial hit of modifying was lessened by taking the money I would be spending on OE parts and putting that towards upgrades.
I replaced all the water hoses throughout and the oil cooler followed when I started doing more track days, as I live a 40 minute drive from Thunderhill Raceway here in California. While on track there one day the bottom radiator hose slipped off and started spewing out coolant; I realised it had happened within seconds but even though I coasted into the pits the water temp gauge showed hot and that’s how I got the new head and I went to under-driven pulleys then as well.
“After the rest of the car was pretty modified I bought the supercharger kit. I had become a dad and my wife wanted me to do less high speed track driving and just drive autocross, so after close to two dozen track days at Thunderhill my focus changed with regard to driving. I needed just a little more low-end torque to pull me out of slow second gear turns when I didn’t want to shift to first gear at autocross,” and the supercharger kit has certainly given Grant the grunt he was after. It’s an Active Autowerke Stage 1 kit with a Rotrex C38-92 supercharger and is accompanied by numerous supporting mods. “I removed the air con, replaced the alternator, installed the power steering cooler, did the oil pan/pump upgrade and fitted an ATI Super Damper, crank pulley and carried out a CCV delete with the supercharger kit,” he says. “The baseline dyno when I bought the car was 205hp and 203lb ft of torque at the wheels; the NA mods took that up to 230whp and 222lb ft and it now makes 312whp and 262lb ft at the wheels on the same dyno. Active Autowerke claims that this kit makes 360hp on a stock car; I’ve done a lot of other work to the engine, so if they want to claim 360hp I want to claim somewhere in the 380hp range,” says Grant. “That seems excessive, though, and I usually just quote my dyno numbers,” and that’s still plenty to enjoy both on road an track, and a huge increase over stock.
While Grant has focussed mainly on the performance and dynamic elements of the car he has not forgotten about aesthetics, both inside and out. The exterior as been enhanced with Motion Motorsports front splitters and aluminium undertay, a one-off AC Schnitzer rear diffuser centre section, the roof spoiler has been raised by 8mm to enhance the roofline and Grant’s also fitted black kidney grilles, black lower mesh grilles and carbon-look roundels among other things. The interior, meanwhile, has been treated to a Momo Competition steering wheel on a quick release hub, chrome handbrake handle, E46 M3 short shift gearknob, black leather gaiter with tricolour stitching and M Tech pedals and dead pedal. There’s also a H3R black HalGuard fire extinguisher, but this was added as a necessity following a scary incident…
“While testing the car after installing the M50 manifold a fuel hose wasn’t secured completely and popped off and sprayed fuel over the exhaust manifold,” says Grant. “Thank god the car wasn’t warmed up all the way and only billowed white smoke. I pulled over immediately and ran. It continued to smoke for a long, heart-pounding five minutes. I fitted the fire extinguisher after that,” he says.
Grant’s Z3 is a focussed build that’s been taken in a specific direction and the results speak for themselves. While it looks great it’s the changes that you can’t see and that we can’t experience or appreciate that make this car. It’s the vast amount of chassis work, the brakes, the hundreds of seemingly minor secondary mods that are so important for the success of the whole and which all add up to make a such big difference. This Z3 has evolved hugely during the 14 years that Grant has owned it, from autocross machine to track monster and back to autocross beast but this time with the wick turned way, way up, becoming more and more focussed at each stage and it’s not reached its final form just yet…
“In the not-too-distant future this car will retire from competition after nearly 80,000 miles that saw it driving to almost monthly autocross events (10 months a year). I have a pile of class win trophies adding, in my small way, to BMW’s racing heritage. I’ll paint and mount the new bumper and splitters I have waiting. I’ll delete the fog lights and the antenna for a cleaner look. At that time I’d also like a nice set of multipiece step-lipped wheels,” he nods, painting an attractive picture. At that point it’ll become a different animal altogether but whether or not that will be its final stage of evolution will remain to be seen…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Supercharged E36/8 Z3 M Coupé / #Active-Autowerke-Stage-1 / #Active-Autowerke / #Rotrex / #VAC / #Dinan /
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / #BMW-S52 / #S52 / #S52-Supercharged , #UUC engine mounts, Active Autowerke Stage 1 supercharger kit with #Rotrex-C38-92 supercharger, CAI, 3” MAF, High flow Bosch fuel injectors, supercharger oil cooler, AA stage 1 programming for BBTB and M50 intake with 7k redline, polished supercharger bracket, #ATI-Super-Damper , #VAC-lightweight crank pulley, #Dinan big bore throttle body, M50 intake manifold and fuel rail cover, intake runner heat shields, Dr. Vanos stage 2 kit with cam gears, timing chains and solenoid, Turner shorty ceramic coated exhaust manifolds, ARP header studs, fiberglass manifold and exhaust wrap, SAS Racing dual 2.5” mid-pipes with stock cats, dual 2.75” Supersprint stainless cat-back exhaust, #BMP design exhaust tips, #VAC oil pump upgrade, VAC oil pan baffle, #Behr S54 E46 triple row radiator, 80° thermostat, power steering cooler, Stewart high-flow water pump with steel impeller, polished aluminum thermostat housing, polished aluminum water pump nut, 80/88º fan switch, Spal 16” electric puller fan, clutch fan delete, new overflow tank, BMP brass water bleeder, VAC 5x7” oil cooler with polished Euro oil filter housing, stock head gasket, #ARP head studs, head polished and gasket matched, new valve guides, lashes, locks and retainers, valve job, resurfaced head, hydraulic belt tensioner, CCV delete, new Valeo 115 app alternator, AC delete, radiator baffle.
POWER and torque 312whp and 262lb ft wtq
TRANSMISSION #ZF-Type-C / #ZF five-speed manual gearbox, #F1-Racing 14lbs chromoly flywheel and stage 2 clutch, stainless clutch line, UUC short shifter and double shear selector rod, poly differential bush, UUC aluminium transmission mounts, rebuilt diff with four clutch zero pre-load and 80/60 ramping, 3.64:1 final drive, polished ring and pinion gears
CHASSIS 8.5”x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #OZ-Alleggerita-HLT / #OZ wheels with 255/45 (front and rear) BF Goodrich g-Force R1 tyres, #Ground-Control front coilovers with Koni adjustable shocks, Eibach 500lbs front springs and 600lbs rear springs, Ground Control adjustable rear spring perches, Ground Control front camber and caster plates, #Racing-Dynamics 21mm front and 19 mm rear anti-rolls bars and end links, SAS Racing rear anti-roll bar reinforcements, #SAS-Racing differential reinforcements, SAS Racing rear shock mount reinforcements, Turner Motorsport aluminium and poly rear upper shock mounts, Ireland poly control arm bushes, #Turner front subframe reinforcements, Ireland poly rear trailing arm bushes, Turner rear camber and toe adjustments, 90mm rear and 75mm front lug stud conversion, E30 M3 polished aluminum control arms, Turner front hub extenders, Ground-Control bump stops, SAS Racing tube frame rear sub-floor, Z3 2.3 steering rack, #Wilwood sixpiston Superlite calipers with 330mm GT-48 floating discs with aluminium hats (front), Wilwood four-piston Dynalite calipers with 312mm lightweight discs (rear), Wilwood B pads (front and rear), stainless brake lines, Turner front brake backing plates and duct work, SAS Racing vented rear brake backing plates, new master cylinder and reservoir
EXTERIOR Arctic silver, Motion Motorsports front splitters and aluminium undertay, #AC-Schnitzer one-off rear diffuser centre section, OEM fog light kit, rear roof spoiler adjusted up 8mm and colour-matched, polished wiring harness brackets, door jamb stickers removed, carbon-look roundels, passenger wiper delete, HID headlamps with side markers and corner lamps colour matched, stealth turn signal bulbs, tinted tail lights, colour-matched wiper nozzles and hatch latch, black kidney grilles, black mesh lower grilles, rear wiper delete, clear front corner markers, front plate holder delete, new windscreen and exterior mouldings
INTERIOR Black and grey two-tone leather interior, Momo 350mm Competition steering wheel with hub, 15 mm spacer and adaptor, carbon-look roundel, Snap-off Industries steering wheel quick release hub, chrome handbrake handle, E46 M3 short gear knob, M Tech pedals and dead pedal, front and rear M logo floor mats, E36 M3 window button surrounds, black leather gaiters with tricolour stitching, windscreen and window tints, sun visor stickers removed, glove box facelift, carbon horn pin adapter, H3R black HalGuard fire extinguisher, poly seat bushes, custom rear hatch parcel shelf
Thanks My wife, for her all patience and participation. Jerard Shaha at SAS Racing, my 30-year mechanic and friend. He rebuilt my El Camino in 1987! SAS Racing has done all the work on this car over the years. Their specialty is racecar setup but they perform all mechanical work and fabrication to an expert level as well as engine building and auto transmission rebuilds (firstname.lastname@example.org). Jason Shaha, my childhood best friend and Jerard’s brother. Thanks for planting that competitive seed from your family into me. See you at the next race? The long-standing crew at Trinity Touring Club. Thanks for your loyalty to our sport and dedication to our club. If I didn’t have to drive 90 minutes each way I’d be at all the club meetings (trinitytouringclub.com)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationThe E36 Compact has a bit of an unfortunate reputation in certain quarters but Dávid Haas’ example is here to prove that potential is everywhere, and these offbeat hatchbacks can be turned into proper little jaw-droppers… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Krisztian Bolgar.
2.8-swapped E36 Compact
There’s a popular saying that you may have heard: ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ The kind of mawkish sentiment that seems to make some sort of sense when you see it on a cheesy pink fridge magnet or in somebody’s Twitter bio, but it is, in fact, a pretty dumb statement. If you find yourself with free lemons, just sell them. That’s 100% profit. If you’re going to turn them into lemonade, you’re committing yourself to all manner of time, effort, the expense of ingredients and equipment… the saying should really go: ‘When life gives you lemons, brilliant, free lemons.’ Why overcomplicate things?
Now, as us car people know, the term ‘lemon’ has a darker meaning. It’s a scathing word applied to cars that are, well, not quite up to par; cars that sometimes feature noteworthy flaws (like the Ford Pinto having those bolts near the fuel tank that means the thing catches fire if it’s rearended), or that have a secret cut-and-shut past, or sometimes simply aren’t considered to be as good as they could have been. And in the eyes of some, the E36 Compact falls into this latter category. The first generation Compact, designated E36/5, was identical to a regular E36 from the front bumper back to the A pillars, but the truncated tail hid the suspension setup from the older E30. This allowed for a lower boot floor and undermounted spare wheel and thus maximised the utility of the hatchback, though many saw it as a compromise.
But screw that. There’s enough negativity in this world, let’s spin the Compact’s reputation around, shall we? And we’ll let Hungary’s Dávid Haas lead the charge. He’s probably the man for the job – just look at his Compact! The thing’s so aggressive you have to tip-toe up to it in case it nips your hand. Angry, scary thing. “I bought the car to be a daily driver in 2012,” he explains. “It was in quite bad condition but it came with the factory MSport option, which made it attractive.”
This trim level comprised M-tweaked suspension, foglights, alloys, sports seats, and a few other trinkets to elevate it above the lesser base models. This car as bought came equipped with an M52B25 – the spiciest option that the E36/5 came with; North American readers will probably only be familiar with four-cylinder Compacts, but the European market 323ti served up 170hp from a straight-six, which makes it easier to swap in bigger engines… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Where did Dávid go from here, with his ratty but brimming-with-potential motor?
“It didn’t take much time to decide on the first few mods,” he grins. “I run a small BMW shop here called Han’s Garage, so I had the means at my disposal to make the changes I wanted. This began with hiding the original tired silver paint under a white wrap, and fitting a set of 9.5x16” Hayashi Racing wheels, along with fully adjustable coilovers.” A strong start, but the game was only just beginning to hot up…
It’s worth noting that Han’s Garage, while Dávid describes it as ‘a small BMW shop’, walks pretty tall in the Hungarian tuning scene. Before this car, he enjoyed much internet celebrity thanks to his E30 cabriolet, E36 coupé, another E30, and a bagged E36 Touring, each one sporting a variety of unexpected home-grown tricks. Any possibility of this Compact retaining a semblance of factory originality was really dead in the water.
“After a couple of months of use, I decided to make a few further changes as I wasn’t happy with the setup,” Dávid explains, ever the perfectionist. “I replaced the wheels with a set of 10x18” rims from Japan Racing, although the sizing threw up some immediate fitment problems.” He’s used the word ‘problems’, but this is a guy who really only sees challenges as a path to further excellence.
The sleeves were rolled up, the tongue was poking out of the corner of the mouth, he was in deep: “I fitted a set of 3D camber plates,” Dávid continues, “along with BMW E46 control arms and eccentric bushes to solve the problem, but even all of this couldn’t help me avoid widening the arches… in the end, however, everything was perfect. But I made a wrong move and sold the car in order to turn to a whole new project.”
Wait, what?! We were just getting into the story Dávid! You’re such a tease… “Yeah, I totally regretted it,” he ponders, scratching his chin thoughtfully. “After about six months I really had the urge to finish what I had started – I’d been having a lot of ideas for the car after I’d sold it. Thankfully the buyer was a friend of mine though, and I managed to convince him to sell it back to me! He’d barely touched the car throughout his time owning it too, so I was able to pick up pretty much where I left off.”
This buyback move took a lot of Dávid’s friends by surprise. With his strong legacy of building desirable and unique BMWs, why was he wasting his time monkeying about with such a lemon? There are plenty of other ’90s BMWs out there in need of salvation, why take the retrograde step of going back to this Compact again?
“They were wrong, I guess,” he laughs. “I knew the potential was in there, I just had to let the car do the talking. The first job was to begin the transformation to Army Compact: I painted it flat military green with the help of my friend 819Lacika. Then I ordered a set of zero offset JR11 wheels from #Japan-Racing – 9.5x18” up front, 10x18” out back.” Blimey. And he thought he had fitment issues before! This is real go-big-or-go-home stuff.
“At this point, I just knew it had to go lower,” Dávid smirks, with the malevolent air exuded by all full-bore modifying addicts. “The TA coilovers were good but they had their limits, so I shortened the bodies and made the shocks stiffer.” This had the desired effect of ensuring that the car has very little in the way of suspension travel at all, which is just what was required. Look at the wheel-to-arch interface, you’ll understand why.
From this point on, Dávid was keen to really up the game of the aesthetics, and his next move was to acquire an adjustable front splitter from the super-obscure E36 M3 GT homologation model. Trust us, these things make hen’s teeth seem rapaciously abundant in comparison. And to complement this, he added a set of MHW tail-lights, projector headlights and, just for the sheer modern screw-you-ness of it all, some quick release bumper mounts. Because motorsport, yeah?
“Christmas was coming by this point, and I decided to pause the project for a while,” Dávid recalls. “But my girlfriend thought differently! She put a Wilwood hydraulic handbrake lever under the tree, which of course made me very happy! And that spurred me on to carry out further interior mods – along with the army camo trim, I bolted in a set of E46 front seats, junked the rears along with lots of other superfluous stuff back there, and fitted an OMP steering wheel.” Proceedings are largely dominated by that towering hydro ’brake though, and no bad thing.
Oh yes – and we should probably return to the idea of power, shouldn’t we? Remember how we were talking about the opportunities created by BMW’s decision to shoehorn an M52B25 into the 323ti? Well, that was just the sort of thing Dávid was keen to capitalise upon.
“I swapped in an M52B28,” he beams. And he’s right to do so – this is the 2.8-litre motor you’d find in the likes of the 328i and various others, and it’s a lot of displacement for a little hatchback.
He hasn’t left it stock, either; well, would you expect anything less? “It’s running an OEM BMW Motorsport ECU,” he explains, “along with the usual M50 intake manifold swap, a BMC filter and a full custom exhaust. It’s probably running about 220-230hp now.” And that’s a fairly staggering amount for a 1990s hot hatch. It’s evident that this car was always intended to be as much about ‘go’ as ‘show’.
What Dávid’s done here, in essence, is to go against the flow and actively seek out one of life’s lemons. And while he may have taken our advice (not always recommended…) and sold the lemon, he quickly pulled it back and decided to make it into something fresh. Not just lemonade, but a full three course meal of lemon sole canapés, oriental lemon cashew chicken, lemon drizzle cake, and a shot of limoncello to round things off. This is his riposte to the lemon-haters, and it’s finger-lickin’ good.
Interior has been given the same army treatment as the exterior and also features E46 front seats and hydraulic handbrake.
“I knew the potential was in there, I just had to let the car do the talking”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE 2.8 / #BMW-E36-Compact / #BMW-328i-Compact / #BMW-328i-Compact-E36 / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-E36 / #Japan-Racing-JR-11 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Compact / #BMW-3-Series-Compact-E36 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.8-litre straight-six #M52B28 / #M52 / #BMW-M52 , OEM #BMW-Motorsport ECU, M50 intake manifold, #BMC air filter, custom exhaust system with carbon rear box, power estimated at 220-230hp, five-speed manual gearbox
CHASSIS 9.5x18” (front) and 10x18” (rear) #ET0-Japan-Racing-JR11 wheels with 215/35 (front) and 225/35 (rear) tyres, 3D camber plates, E46 control arms, eccentric bushes, custom-shortened TA coilovers, #Wilwood hydraulic handbrake
EXTERIOR Flat military green, adjustable E36 M3 GT splitter, MHW tail-lights, quick release bumper mounts, projector headlights
INTERIOR Camo trim, OMP steering wheel, E46 front seats, rear seats removed 2.8 E36 CompactStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationRETRO RIDE: DATSUN 240Z WORDS: Jarkle PHOTOS: #Larry-Chen / #Sung-Kang / #1973 / #Datsun-240Z / #Nissan-240Z / #Nissan / #Datsun
FILM STAR CAR / HAN SHOT FIRST
All Hollywood stars drive Italian exotica, right? Well no, not the rather Fast-and-Furious Sung Kang…
And there was us thinking movie stars only drive Ferraris and Range Rovers… obviously not when they’re feeling Fast and Furious.
Where were you when you saw your first Fast and Furious film? If you’re a petrol head and a modified car fan with even the most fleeting of interests in movies, then chances are you’ll know exactly where you were when you first met Dom, Brian, Letty and the rest of the gang. Me? Well my introduction to brake caliper-less Jettas, endlessly long gearboxes and suspect tribal vinyl graphics happened back in 2001, when me and a group of mates snuck our way into the Milton Keynes multiplex cinema overloaded with popcorn and fizzy pop, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Plenty of you clearly feel the same way, as not only has the F&F franchise grown out of all proportion, but it’s left an indelible mark on modified car culture. You only need to recall the outpouring of grief that followed Paul Walker’s tragic death to realise this.
These films have always strived to blur the line between make believe and reality of course, so it’s wrong to assume all the actors who appeared behind the wheel on screen (and boy are there a lot of them) were fully paid-up petrol heads. That said, some most definitely are and were, Paul Walker being the most famous example, Sung Kang (Han in the films) another. It’s the latter’s car that you see before you, a jawslackening Datsun 240Z that’s better known by its nickname ‘FuguZ.’
Debuting at last year’s SEMA show, Sung’s ’73 Datsun is a case study in how to do a 240. Each and every area of it groans under the weight of cool aftermarket hardware, clever thinking and one-off styling. Cars have been a part of Sung’s life for a long time. Tuning, modifying and generally being able to stamp his personality onto them was always a huge part of the appeal. So you could say he was always destined to build something like this eventually.
The thing that it’s pretty much impossible to overlook when you first clock Sung’s Z is its bodywork, specifically those bulging arches. They’re an unmistakable product of the chaps at Rocket Bunny, plus a little help from their official US importer (and a name that’s cropped up more than once in the F&F films themselves), GReddy.
The result is without doubt one of Kei Miura’s best efforts to date. A fantastically mean looking kit that manages something that not all his creations do: it looks right at home, working with the factory lines of the 240Z instead of simply swamping them with layers of hyper-aggressive plastic. There’s more at play than mere aesthetic showboating though, much more. The Z’s chassis received extensive strengthening and bracing (plus an imposing bespoke roll cage that dominates the car’s interior) before the kit was fitted, while the overhauled suspension setup has been painstakingly developed in order to maximise the car’s already polished handling characteristics. Techno Toy Tuning coilovers are largely responsible for this Datsun’s ability to corner with the kind of composure you normally associate with far more modern offerings. But the brand new suspension bushes and lightweight RAYS Volk Racing alloys also play a part, while cutting unsprung weight in the process.
There’s no point in pretending that cars like the 240Z aren’t ingrained in Japan’s automotive culture, and this in turn means that messing with them carries a certain amount of risk: get it wrong, go too far or otherwise ruin the car, and people from all sections of the car world won’t hesitate to tell you exactly what they think!
A good example of this is this car’s engine, now a RB26DE and created by removing the forced induction hardware from an RB26DETT, then recalibrating it to run in naturally aspirated form. The result is that this is far from the most powerful 240Z to have ever graced these pages, but it’s perhaps one that pays most respect for the original running gear first bolted into place by Datsun themselves. It is after all still a straightsix, and one still fed in a naturally aspirated fashion, albeit now via a sextuple of individual throttle bodies controlled via a standalone ECU.
Keeping the ethos behind the 240 was import ant for Sung. That doesn’t mean he was adverse to modifying it of course. It has a forged bottom end and a ported head, but he was keen to preserve its, ahem, Datsun-ness.
The result is that this car can now call on a very handy 220bhp, a figure that can be fully exploited pretty much anywhere you care to mention. Particularly when you factor in the trick OS Giken LSD that brings up the rear of the drivetrain.
There’s no point making a street car stupidly powerful, not if you want to enjoy using it on a regular basis and Sung is happy with how it drives; there’s a good balance of power and handling.
Sung went to great lengths to ensure this theme of balance and respect for the car’s origins continued into the interior, where you’ll now find CarbonSignal Automotive bucket seats, dash and doorcards, a smattering of attractive gauges to monitor the engine’s vital signs, and the aforementioned roll cage. No, it doesn’t look stock and was never intended to. But neither does it look overtly modern or out of place. Once again, the balance has been struck perfectly.
The chances of any of you reading this actively disliking Sung’s car are, let’s face it, slim. And that’s because he’s done a simply amazing job in modifying it to his tastes. But what really sets this Z apart from the herd is its owner. Namely that his passion for cars, messing about in them and with them, remains resolutely undiluted. Some of the stunts, scenes and CGI present in the earliest Fast and Furious films might have started to show their age, but as long as the films continue to hold a mirror up to modified car culture (or an idealised version of it), we’ll certainly continue to watch… and maybe even be closet super fans.
TECH SPEC: ‘1973 240Z
ENGINE: GReddy built #Nissan-RB26DE with high compression pistons; forged con rods; ported head; custom individual throttle bodies; AEM standalone management; Nissan 5-speed manual gearbox; #OS-Giken clutch and LSD; R200 differential.
CHASSIS: Fully braced and strengthened chassis with custom #GReddy multi-point roll cage; Techno Toy Tuning coilovers; #Wilwood discs and callipers; aftermarket high pads and braided lines; 17in RAYS Volk Racing TE37V SL forged wheels; Nitto NT01 tyres.
STYLING: Signature Auto Body restored 1973 Datsun 240Z in Kilimanjaro white; Rocket Bunny wide arch kit; JDM-style front-mounted wing mirrors; custom ‘FuguZ’ badging.
INTERIOR: Custom GReddy roll cage; custom CarbonSignal dash, door panels, bucket seats; multi-point Takata harnesses; oil, temp and pressure gauges.
Well, he’s not gonna be rolling in a Hyundai, right?
Now that’s the face of a superstar!
No added sound effects needed here!
And not a tank of NOS in sight!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationThis may have been Sean Clark’s first car in high school, but it’s all grown up now, with a level of refinement fit for a whiskey lounge. Words: Marcus Gibson / Photos: Adam Croy
BODY-SLAMMED BMW E30 TEST LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS OF BUILDING A DRIFT CAR / #1987 / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW-318i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #Toyota-1UZ-FE / #BMW-E30-Toyota-1UZ-FE / #Toyota / #Accuair-i-Level / #BMW-E30-V8 / #V8
Purchased as his first car in high school, Sean Clark’s E30 is all grown up now with a class that belongs in a whiskey lounge. V8 powered, with Accuair i-Level, one-off Rotiforms, candy paint and a killer interior, this E30 ticks all the boxes.
As the NZPC team members stood around with our tongues out, drooling over Sean Clark’s #BMW E30 during the photo shoot, in walked the guys from our sister magazine NZ Classic Car, who proceeded to make tongue-in-cheek remarks about how the suspension must be broken and ask where the hell the tyres were. Now, these guys know their way around an E30, but, given that the IS front lip was literally sitting on the ground while its rim lip was touching the guard, we could see how those old boys would be somewhat perplexed by what they saw in front of them. This car is a statement made with no apologies — it was engineered this way, what with its millimetre-perfect fitment and extremely deep candy paint, which grabs and holds your attention long enough to take in all the custom touches that can be found.
It all began during Sean’s high-school days (actually, four years ago, to be exact), when he came across an E30 already fitted with a Toyota 1UZ-FE 4.0-litre V8. A fan of the German ’80s icon, Sean hadn’t been looking for V8 power, but, when this popped up already cert’d, he saw it as a good base on which to build his dream E30. It was in need of some TLC, but, being a high-school student, he would have to wait until he got his first full-time job before he could sink some coin into the project. In the meantime, though, he was probably only the only kid at his high school rocking a V8 on a daily basis.
The air-management system runs a set of polished custom hard lines to feed the tank, AccuAir A4, and Air Lift air bags. The system has a wireless remote and can even be controlled by an iPhone app.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Sean is mainly influenced by mostly European-based E30s, which led to the first of the big modifications, as he told us: “All of my favourite E30s are on air. That was the first major modification I did. Simon from Get Low imported and installed the kit.” Getting the E30 down was a simple bolt-in affair using Air Lift struts with adjustable dampers. Like most of the latest air-ride kits we feature these days, Sean opted for a complete height-management system, in this case, AccuAir. With three preset heights — low, lower, and slammed — it’s a no-brainer over the finicky switch box and separate valve blocks of the past.
Those kits were loud, high maintenance, and it was a battle to get the height perfect. Having the control that Sean now does is a good thing when the lip of the rim actually sits square on the guard when fully deflated.
It was around that time that the E30 received its first set of rims, though those BBS Rs were soon replaced with custom fifteen52 Tarmacs, then, more recently, with a set of custom Rotiforms. To say Sean has a thing for wheels would be a gross understatement — but his size preference certainly made it hard. “I get bored of wheels pretty easy, and wanted to go three-piece and have something that would pop against the paint more,” he explained. “I talked to just about every wheel company out there, but the problem is that no one really makes three-piece 16s any more. I ended up getting James from 360 Link to convince Brian from Rotiform to produce these.” We are unsure what James from 360 Link said — perhaps he has a stash of questionable photos of Brian, or maybe Brian thinks all Kiwis are like Jake the Muss; either way, Rotiform obliged and put together this one-off set using BBS lips and gold hardware.
To further customize them once they landed in New Zealand, the boys at GT Refinishers laid down some candy and gold leaf on the centre caps.
The boys were also charged with a complete facelift conversion last year. Now, it might be a bolt-on conversion up front, but the rear took a little more commitment, as the team had to graft in the in the rear sheet metal from a later E30 around the boot and tail lights.
This required a facelift E30 to donate its life to the cause. The tail lights Sean chose are rare BMW Motorsport items imported from Germany, along with the Bosch smiley headlights and an MTech wing. The last job at GT was the reshaping of the rear guards to suit the super-low ride height. It was then on to deciding a colour — a job we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy. A four-month internal battle ensued as Sean went back and forth with his decision, eventually landing on custom candy red, sprayed over a silver base coat. “There are 10 coats all up I think, as I kept wanting it darker and darker. I was actually out of the country when he was spraying it so it was a little nerve-racking,” he said.
But, needless to say, Sean is hyped with how the exterior has turned out, and he has since shifted his focus inwards. First up, he went for a full interior retrim from Midnight Upholstery. Taking cues from the king of refinement, Singer, the front and rear seats were trimmed in a similar fashion to those beautiful Porsches. The front seats are actually Recaro fishnets from an Isuzu Bighorn that Sean scored for $100, and the rear is a not-so-common E30 variant with a centre armrest. As for the rest of the interior, it was kept all class in black — simple yet effective. The finishing touch, a vintage Momo Prototipo wheel.
Next on his hit list is attacking the engine bay. While the build has never been about all-out power or speed, and with the four litres there’s more than enough juice to decimate the factory equivalent, Sean still feels there is room for refinement, and he’s currently considering his plan of attack — individual throttle bodies (ITBs)? A supercharger? Who knows what he’ll end up with? We guess we will all have to wait and see. But, in the meantime, there is a long hot summer ahead of us, and Sean is ready to make the most of it with one push of the e-Level.
SEATS: (F) Retrimmed #Recaro LX, (R) retrimmed factory
STEERING WHEEL: #Momo Prototipo 350mm
INSTRUMENTATION: AccuAir e-Level
EXTRA: Custom headliner and carpet, custom boot set-up.
PAINT: Custom candy red by GT Refinishers
ENHANCEMENTS: Facelift conversion, IS front lip, IS sideskirts, custom front splitter, MTech 1 wing, German smiley headlights, German MHW tail lights, custom round Condor door handles.
GEARBOX: Toyota four-speed auto
DIFF: BMW E30
The body has recieved a facelift alongside some subtle upgrades such as the IS front lip and #MTech rear wing. Although it was bagged long before the facelift, yet the lip sits perfectly flush on the ground.
DRIVER/OWNER: Sean Clark
BUILD TIME: Four years
LENGTH OF OWNERSHIP: Four years
THANKS: A huge thanks to GT Refinishers; Get Low Customs; Midnight Upholstery; Rotiform New Zealand; my mate Daniel, for listening to me stress over the smallest of things and helping out
Discovered in an Isuzu Bighorn bought for $100, the Recaro fishnets have been retrimmed by Midnight upholstery in a Singer style, with bronze rivet vents.
ENGINE: #Toyota-1UZ-FE , 4000cc, eight-cylinder
EXHAUST: Custom headers, dual 2.5-inch pipes into single muffler
COOLING: Fenix radiator
STRUTS: Air Lift Performance air ride, KYB rear shocks, #AccuAir-E-Level , #AccuAir #iLevel
BRAKES: (F) #Wilwood four-pot calipers, #StopTech rotors, Wilwood pads, braided lines; (R) factory
WHEELS: (F) 16x8.5-inch #Rotiform three-piece forged CCV, gold hardware; (R) 16x9.5-inch Rotiform three-piece forged CCV, gold hardware
TYRES: (F) 195/40R16 Falken, (R) 205/40R16 Falken
Fitting the Lexus into the engine bay required a set of custom headers and has left little room for anything else, which could become a problem if Sean does decide to supercharge down the track.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationHYBRID THEORY
They most definitely do things differently in Japan, as this absolutely glorious 2002 goes to show. Blending European styling elements from its homeland and Japanese influences from its current home, this 2002 is something special. Words: Chris Nicholls. Photos: Mark Kawaguchi.
Say ‘hybrid’ today, and car folks will generally picture some dreary econocar, complete with skinny tyres and the driving excitement of a hearse. Of course, recent hybrid supercars, including BMW’s own i8, have done much to change these perceptions, but outside those lofty realms, the word hybrid is still seen with suspicion by most petrolheads.
However, until the introduction of the Insight and the Prius, hybrid used to refer to something different, of course – the end product of combining two elements into one. And this unique 2002tii is very much a hybrid in that sense. Because while the 2002 has become a popular tuning base for many around the world, none really combine both the original European influences and more recent Japanese ones like this example. That’s perhaps because, ironically, it’s the product of a singular mind – one that prides itself on building exactly what it wants. The mind of Hirotaka Fujiwara. Fujiwara-san runs Ultrabox in Hiroshima, a European car modification specialist that he set up 14 years ago purely to allow him to bring his ideas into reality. “Back when I first got into tuning, I thought that if I can’t be satisfied with what’s out there right now, I should build it myself.”
So he did. And thanks to he and his teams’ years of dedication and hard work, Ultrabox is now established as one of the go-to European car modification shops in the region. It’s also thanks to the skills he’s acquired since opening Ultrabox that he’s been able to turn this 2002tii – a car he fell in love with many moons ago due to its history – from the dilapidated shell he found back in January 2012, into the beauty you see before you.
The first job, given the car’s initial state, was to restore the chassis and body panels; prepping everything for the modifications to come. Having done that, Fujiwara-san and his team could apply the basic recipe: a static drop, bolt-on overfenders, more power and show car fit and finish levels. Of course, this itself is hardly an original recipe, but like all great builds, it’s how everything came together that makes this 2002 stand out. Starting with the body, Fujiwara-san looked to Japanese racing history to create the unique custom overfenders. Far larger than anything fitted to a racing 2002 in the past, these beauties evoke the glory days of massive Works flares bolted on to local tintop heroes like the 240Z. The fact they work so beautifully with the 2002’s clean factory lines just show how right Fujiwara-san got it, and how you really can make hybrid design work when you have the skills.
After that came the custom front and rear bumpers, custom adjustable splitter and fixed rear wing and custom, modernised headlights. Together, they all work to turn the 2002tii from a cute, petite sports car into a racing-inspired street fighter. Albeit one in an impeccably tailored suit.
Once the chassis and all the bolt-on parts were ready, they were shifted off to be painted in another of the car’s signature visual elements – the Porsche Oak green colour. Period-correct, albeit for another marque, the unusual hue really helps the car stand out in a sea of modified 2002s. Asked why he chose it, Fujiwara-san says simply that “it is the most beautiful colour, in [his] mind”. Applying it wasn’t easy, though. As you might have guessed, Fujiwara-san is a perfectionist, and to meet his high standards: “It had to go back and be repainted three times,” he says. Thankfully, his persistence paid off, as the paint is undeniably flawless and looks as if it came that way from the factory. Inside the car, too, Fujiwara-san’s dedication and eye for detail is very clear.
Matching the Oak green paint and green floor mats with contrasting custom-trimmed red leather Cobra Classic front seats, matching retrimmed rears, red carpet, red Wiechers roll-bar and red belts is a genius move, and one that highlights his aesthetic sense and knowledge. The leather-trimmed dash, complete with customised original gauges, also adds a sense of luxury the 2002tii never really had from the factory. Add in a custom retrimmed deep-dish wheel, aftermarket gear knob and three Auto Gage gauges to sit above a matching Smiths clock, and you have a driving space far superior to that which rolled off the dealer lot in 1976.
Moving to the engine, Fujiwara-san again combined the best of German and Japanese engineering by boring out the original M10 block to 2080cc (up from 1998cc) and fitting his own custom pistons and rods to match.
He also customised the factory camshaft to suit his tastes. Visually, the biggest difference, though, is the switch from Kugelfischer mechanical injection to dual Weber 45mm carbs and machined aluminium trumpets. “We just couldn’t make the power we wanted with the Kugelfischer injection in place,” he says. Having taken care of the intake side, Ultrabox also fabricated the exhaust headers and highly unusual muffler, which gets pride of place under the rear bumper. It’s a great Japanesestyle visual finishing touch to an already very distinctive car and one that ensures you can hear it coming a mile away.
Putting the extra grunt to the ground is the job of the strengthened stock clutch and lightened flywheel (40 per cent lighter than normal), transferring power through the stock gearbox and into a Quaife LSD. Given this 2002’s show car appearance, you might wonder why Fujiwara-san went to the effort of adding an LSD, but as you will soon find out, there is a distinct method to his madness…
Suspension, meanwhile, is handled by Ultrabox original coilovers and springs, wound down to ensure the car sits right on its Hayashi Racing CR wheels and Toyo T1R tyres. A Wiechers strut tower bar adds further stiffness to the front end and it’s in the same shade of red as the roll bar inside. Slowing the whole lot down is a set of Wilwood fourpiston calipers up front and two-piston rears of unknown origin (they came with the car and Fujiwara-san didn’t see the point of junking them for no good reason), both clamping down on two-piece rotors.
The end result is a totally unique build that combines the best of east and west and does so flawlessly. The clean, sleek Germanic lines of the 2002 are now enhanced by Japanese racing aggression, and its Teutonic mechanical excellence is now all the better for meeting Japanese customisation and visual flair. The fact it’s put together with an obsessiveness only the Japanese could muster just makes it all the more wonderful.
“I love everything about it,” Fujiwara-san says, and it’s not hard to see why. It may surprise some, then, that he now plans to move on from this machine. Not that he’s going to stop driving it (as you’ll soon find out), but as with all creative people, he needs new challenges, and while the 2002 combines show car looks with trackable performance, he still feels it sits more on the dress-up side of things, and that’s what he wants to move away from, at least for the time being.
“I feel satisfied that I’ve got everything out of the dress-up world for now, so I’d like to try my hand at serious tuning. If that goes well, I’ll use the money from that to build another dress-up car,” he elaborates. Given Ultrabox already has a Golf Mk2 time attack car, you might consider that a strange statement, but apparently Fujiwara-san wants to build more Golf race cars.
Anything from a Golf Mk1 to a Golf Mk3 is on the cards. As for that potential future dress-up car? Tantalisingly, he says he wants to do a Lotus Europa.
But what of the 2002? As we said, it’s still going to be driven, but in a decision that will likely make plenty cringe (certainly the purists, who may already be outraged that someone took a knife to a 2002 in the first place), it’s going to be used in an upcoming local drift series Fujiwara-san is organising with other local shops. Yes, this flawless show car, complete with paint that needed applying three times to ensure the perfect look, will soon be hooning around the local tracks, spattering its gorgeous rear-wheel arches with molten rubber and possibly even trading that Oak green paint with other cars. Or the wall.
Despite the shocking nature of this revelation, if you think about it, Fujiwarasan’s future plans for the 2002 are still well within the bounds of his original mission for Ultrabox. As he said, he founded the company so he could make his dreams a reality; building things he wanted to standards that only he would be satisfied with. If he wants to realise his dream of drifting, in a car he built to such standards, who is anyone to argue with him?
“I thought that if I can’t be satisfied with what’s out there right now, I should build it myself…”
DATA FILE / #BMW / Ultrabox / 2002tii / #BMW-2002tii / #BMW-2002 / #BMW-2002tii-Ultrabox / #BMW-2002-Ultrabox / #BMW-2002 / #BMW-2002-Ultrabox /
ENGINE #M10 / #BMW-M10 engine bored out to 2080cc, Ultrabox custom pistons and con rods, machined stock camshaft, stock crankshaft, dual 45mm #Weber carburettors, aluminium intake trumpets, #Ultrabox custom exhaust manifold, Ultrabox 80mm custom muffler, custom painted cam cover, #SamcoSport coolant hoses.
TRANSMISSION Strengthened stock clutch, Ultrabox machined stock flywheel (lightened 40 per cent), stock #Borg-Warner four-speed gearbox, Quaife LSD.
CHASSIS 9.5x15”, ET-15 (front) and 10.5x15”, ET-25 (rear) Hayashi Racing CR wheels with 205/45 (front) and 215/45 (rear) Toyo T1R tyres, Ultrabox custom coilovers front and rear with Ultrabox custom springs, Wilwood four-piston monobloc brake calipers (front), two-piston calipers (rear), two-piece #Wilwood discs front and rear, Wieschers front strut brace.
EXTERIOR Ultrabox custom wheel arch flares, Ultrabox custom front and rear bumper, Ultrabox custom front splitter, Ultrabox custom rear wing, Ultrabox customised stock headlights with HID conversion, NRG Innovations tow hooks front and rear, three-coat Porsche Oak green paint.
INTERIOR Stucky Trim Service custom retrimmed Cobra Classic front seats and stock rear seats, Wiechers roll-cage, Stucky Trim Service trimmed leather dash, Stucky Trim Service retrimmed deep-dish wheel, Ultrabox customised stock binnacle gauges, Autogage oil, water and voltage gauges, Smiths clock, green and black cheque floor mats, Pioneer head unit, Nakamichi speakers.
There’s no missing that massive rear wing or unconventional exhaust; Porsche Oak green paint job took three goes before it was deemed perfect enough for the car.
Custom arch flares make a huge impact and are joined by a custom front bumper, splitter and headlights.
Interior no less special than exterior, with retrimmed Cobra Classic seats, leather dash and customised gauges.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 moderationNOW AND THEN, A BAD-ASS MUSCLE CAR ROLLS INTO TOWN AND TRUE TO TRADITION, WE’RE THE FIRST TO GIVE YOU THE SCOOP!
Gavin Wilkins gave us a call explaining to us that he has a very important car laying in his workshop. In true Gavin Wilkins' tradition, he gave us a few basic clues, like the car was supposedly an American muscle car with a hefty 8-cylinder motor, and was supposedly modified there too. But a few weeks before, we came to hear of a rather unique #1971 #Plymouth #Cuda , a 2-door coupe which had arrived on our shores, and I began wondering if this was the said Unicorn. Now, dear readers: photos and print media do not tell the true mastery of this Cuda. It has to be seen in person to understand this car's enormity. A few years back, a chassis building company in the USA named Morrison were commissioned to oversee the project of restoring an old Plymouth. Over and above the channelling process where the Cuda's body was lowered to hang 4" over the frame, subtle mods such as shaved drip rails, a custom front valance and air dam, and those erotic side fender grilles were all crafted by the team at Morrison.
But in all honesty, I think it’s the way the meticulous matte paintwork contrasts against the bits of orange which adorn the rear fenders. Or maybe it's the way the fenders hug those devilishly custom-made Intro Wheels which are 20 and 18" large? Or could it be the way the Strange coilovers are joined in holy matrimony with the Watts link rear suspension and the Corvette C5 front suspension which together, have created the perfect stance for the perfect American muscle car? I just don’t know. But what I do know is that this blurry indecision makes me yearn for a cup of tea.
Swing open the driver's door, and nothing much grabs your attention except for those white dials, the Momo steering wheel and those RCi 5-point race harnesses. But weirdly though, once you sit in those superbly covered sport seats, and run your hand over the suede roof lining and notice the Morrison-built rollcage, you begin to understand that everything inside the cockpit is there for a reason. Besides the welcoming addition of electric windows, those elegant billet pieces on the steering column, and the TCi Outlaw shifter - which screams to be grabbed - is all part and parcel of the Cuda's theatre.
The front of the car is where the party happens: Over and above the grille and headlights which came off a 2009 Challenger, the hand built shaker hood (a fancier name for the air intake which moves with the engine f movement)is what lures you to the bonnet in a trancelike state.
Unclick the bonnet latches to pop the Cuda's hood and the motor resembles something out of Hollywood. Coated in what looks like sugary candied orange, the Hemi motor is a work of art, and when it awakens, things start a-shaking...
I can honestly say that the engine is massive. Last time I saw something this huge, I flew in it to Europe. Barely squeezed into that painstakingly smoothed and shaven engine bay, lies an angry, 605 cubic inches Hemi monster, and let me tell you, it swallows fuel at an alarming rate.
“Look, this thing guzzles hey." laughs Gavin. “You can let it idle, and in a few minutes, that fuel gauge needle will start going down. If you had to drive from Alberton to Eastgate, you’ll probably run out of fuel." The impetus for this whole project began in Indiana by a specialist cylinder head company named Indy Cylinder Heads. In addition to their line of big and small block #Mopar and AMC heads, Indy also build complete engines and are synonymous for the being the best at what they do.
The motor powering this 'Cuda is a spare-no-expense, take-no-prisoners powerplant using a Maxx aluminum block, an Eagle 4750 steel crank, and humungous Diamond 4.500 forged pistons-115mm in diameter (let that sink in for a while)- down below.
Topside is a pair of their Legend series heads with full CNC port and polish, bigger valves and thicker L19 ARP bolts and studs. Naturally, a COMP Cams solid roller thumps the lifters up and down and gives just the right signal to the big #King-Demon-1,050-cfm carb sitting atop the high-rise intake. In addition to the 511 hp on the wheels - which Gavin proudly states is the highest street car reading he's ever had at GWR - this bad boy rips the dyno in half with over 780Nm of torque, even more impressive on pump gas!
“When the car arrived at my workshop, the engine needed some TLC - it was tired and the body had to be reprayed by Dinos. There were so many other niggles which we sorted out too - mainly after hours because there was no way I was going to work on an engine of this magnitude with other distractions happening around me. One mistake can be very costly."
When the metal industry closes up shop for the weekend, and the roads in and around GWR have quietened down, Gavin takes the car around the block for a quick test and returns with a smile from ear to ear.
“The car rides beautifully. It's built right and it shows as it drives perfectly and solidly without any drama. It's a real cruiser and attention grabber!" explains Gavin as he switches off the car.
The car is to be returned to the owner in a matter of days, and as Gav wipes off a bit of dirt off the fender, he ends, "This particular owner loves his cars to be done right: he's a perfectionist who appreciates the finer forms of the automobile, and I'm grateful to have worked on this' Cuda. It's a one of a kind car, with a one of a kind attitude."
THE ENGINE BAY LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING FROM A TRANSFORMERS MOVIE.
QUKKSPECS #1971 #Plymouth-Cuda-2 Door-Coupe / #Plymouth-Cuda-2-Door-Coupe / #Plymouth-Cuda
ENGINE: #605-Hemi / #Hemi - Maxx aluminium Hemi block - Eagle con-rods - #Eagle 4.750 crank - #Diamond 4500 pistons – #Federal-Mogul race bearings - #ARP L19 bolts and studs - Indy aluminium hemi cylinder heads - Indy roller rockers - #Comp-Cams solid roller camshafts - 3" exhaust - #Flowmaster mufflers - MSD 6AL custom fuel tank - Edelbrock fuel pump and fuel pressure regulator – #King-Demon 1050cfm carburetor.
TRANSMISSION / DRIVETRAIN: 2-speed auto transmission - 9" Ford rear differential - TCi heavy case #Powerglide transmission - 3" Morrison propshaft - 35-spline #Morrison driveshafts.
WHEELS / TYRES: Custom 20" x 12j Intro Wheels (rear) and matching 18" x 8j (front) Intro wheels in the front - #Pirelli tyres. Suspension: Full Corvette C5 front suspension - Watts Link rear suspension - Strange coilovers.
BRAKES: 6-pot Wilwood calipers -14" #Wilwood brake discs. Exterior: Full respray by Dino’s Autobody - Morrison-built full chassis - 2009 Challenger grille and headlights - hand-built #Shaker hood - billet hood hinges - shaved drip rails - custom front valance and air dam.
INTERIOR: Full leather and suede interior - RCi 5-point harnesses electric windows with power steering - Morrison-built rollcage - TCi shifter - custom white guages - billet aluminium column stalks.
The custom intro wheels are spectacular. Wilwood provides the stopping power. The rear is rounded off with two Flowmaster mufflers. The modern #MOMO steering wheel pops against the classic interior. RCi 5-point harnesses clip you in.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFULL METAL ALCHEMIST #2015
You’d have to go a long way to find an E30 more ferocious than this 520hp, supercharged metal wide-body beast.
With a custom metal wide-body kit and a supercharger for good measure, this E30 has undergone a magical transformation. Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: Si Gray
Approaching Clive King’s E30 in profile causes the black paintwork to hide the incredible amount of work that’s gone into creating the body. Viewed in profile it just looks like a black E30, really, but, like one of those 3D illusion sculptures, as you start to move towards the front or back of the car the reflections on its flanks begin to twist and distort and that’s when you begin to realise that actually there is a lot more going on here than first meets the eye…
Incredibly, this is Clive’s ninth E30, a habit he’s sustained since he was 21, though he says he’s been into cars since the dawn of time, which does make us question exactly how old he might be. The car you see before you was never meant to be like this. Clive bought it with the intention of turning it into a cheap sleeper but things don’t always go to plan.
The story all started with the engine, which was originally in a Cab. “The engine started out as 2.5 and I built it up to a 2.7 before adding the Rotrex supercharger which was modified specifically to fit,” says Clive. “It actually sits where the air-con pump would be. The engine was fantastic and made 321hp but it was a bit too lively in the Cab – there was loads of scuttle shake, it was always lighting the wheels up and even though the Cab was heavier than the other body shapes, with the engine it was just too sketchy. I wanted something else to put it in and I had the opportunity to buy this E30 shell for £70, so I did. It was supposed to be a clean, low, sleeper Chromie!”
Clearly that’s not what happened and, in a roundabout sort of way, it’s Clive’s wife’s fault, really. “These wheels,” he says, pointing to his striking blue Rota RBXs, “appeared for sale on Pistonheads and I liked the retro look, they’re like big Minilites. I mentioned the fact that I liked them to my wife and she bought them for me as a surprise. When I put them on the car they stuck out. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I had to build some arches to fit over the wheels!
“I built the whole car at my workshop. The bumpers are fibreglass but I handfabricated the arches from sheet steel. I trained in bodywork but I gave it up as a job as it took away the enjoyment from my doing it as a hobby, so now I just do it for myself and my friends. The bumpers are copies of the M Tech 2 kit but they didn’t fit so I bought two jigs for the bumpers and had to cut and reshape them to make them fit, then re-fibreglass them. The skirts are fibreglass copies of some Ford Granada Scorpio sideskirts I had lying around. I had to cut them, flare them out by 4” and then re-fibreglass them. The spoiler is a copy of the E30 M3 spoiler but with a carbon gurney flap added on. The bonnet I made six years ago but never finished until I built this car. I started with the standard bonnet, measured it up, made the side spacers and then welded them in.”
The whole car looks absolutely awesome thanks to Clive’s handiwork, and while it’s not going to suit all tastes you can’t argue with the visual impact it delivers. The arches are a work of art, beautifully finished, smooth and rounded, quite unlike anything you normally see and only when looking down the car’s flank do you get the full effect. The interior is no less impressive and a lot of hard work has gone into making it as good as it is. The seats are from a Honda Accord Type R, which Clive’s wife also bought for him, and sit on custom mounts.
His verdict? “They’re very comfortable,” he says. Most of the interior is taken up by the 18(!) point roll-cage and it really is quite something. “I knew I wanted a roll-cage,” he says, “and I got this one from ‘mrben’ on the E30zone forum. I had to take it out three times while I was doing the rest of the interior though, which was a bit of a nightmare!” Clive has also de-de-skinned the sunroof and fitted a Union Jack headlining, which was actually a duvet that sacrificed itself for the greater good. Impressive as all this is, most of all we love the digital gauges in the instrument cluster. They look absolutely awesome but weren’t fitted because of their appearance. “The original gauges just couldn’t keep up with the engine,” explains Clive, “so I went for these digital gauges from Drift Iridium.” The company offers a full selection of gauges and Clive’s E30 is sporting what is pretty much the dream dash combo, with speedo, rev counter, fuel gauge and temperature all matching Drift Iridium items, with an additional boost gauge mounted in a small pod where the air vent near the door would normally be.
So to the star of the show: the engine. As we already mentioned above, it started out as a 2.5 before Clive built it up to a 2.7, which is where we pick the story up. “After I’d taken it up to 2.7 and supercharged it, the supercharger seized. It was starved of oil and the Megasquirt ECU I was running also died. I got hold of a #DTA-S80-Pro ECU and took the engine up to 2.8 myself, with an E36 M50 2.8 crank, M20 2.0 rods and M20 2.5 pistons and then I added the same Rotrex supercharger as before. The 2.8 was great but it blew a couple of head gaskets very badly as the compression was too high.
It was making 423hp but it was unreliable and while I don’t use the car often, when I do I like to enjoy it so I didn’t want it to keep breaking down on me.
“At this point I hit rock bottom and I really didn’t know what to do. I was ready to just put a 2.5 in the car and sell it. Then my wife suggested building the best engine that I could afford so with her blessing I decided to do just that. Byron on the E30zone forum runs the Engine Shed Co. in Wales; he does brilliant work, and I spoke to him about what route I should go down. After plenty of research I turned to Ireland Engineering in California to build me the engine I wanted. I sent it the specs for the block and eight weeks later the finished product turned up on my doorstep. It’s actually closer to a 2.9 than a 2.8 and the craftsmanship on the block was amazing, it was almost a shame to put it all together and stick it in the car! I took it to Byron who built the botttom end, bored the block and matched the pistons before I added the finishing touches.”
Clive set out to build the best engine he could and looking through the spec list it certainly looks like mission accomplished. There are Ireland Engineering forged rods, custom-spec Ross Racing pistons, a Cometic multi-layer steel headgasket, ARP bolts, a 264-degree custom cam from Cat Cams, along with a six-branch manifold leading to a Sportex exhaust. The boot is home to the fuel system components, with a 551 fuel cell and 2.5-litre surge tank, ‘red top’ lift pump, Bosch 044 pump and braided lines throughout. “The engine is absolutely flawless,” says a grinning Clive. “It’s making roughly 510-520hp and it’s absolutely insane. I’ve never put my foot flat to the floor because it’s too scary.” Considering that with the stripped-out interior and homemade arches it’s now significantly lighter than standard, that makes 520hp an absolutely ridiculous amount of power to be running, especially when all of it is attempting to funnel its way to the Tarmac via 225 rear tyres. Clive is clearly crazy – which means he fits right in with the likes of us then, really.
As we wrap up the shoot, we ask Clive (as we always do) if there’s anything else he’d like to do to the car. His answer is as decisive and absolute as everything else to do with this project. “There’s nothing more to do,” he states. “It’s finished.” Taking one last look at this E30, drinking in the curves of its outrageous arch work, the exquisitely executed interior, that masterpiece of an engine, we don’t doubt it.
DATA FILE SUPERCHARGED WIDE-BODY #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-WIDE-BODY
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION Custom-built six-cylinder #M20 2.9 / #M20B29 stroker, Ireland Engineering forged rods, custom-spec Ross racing pistons, #Cometic MLS steel head gasket, #ARP bolts allround, steel windage tray, reworked head, 264-degree custom Cat Cam, six-branch manifold, #Sportex mild steel exhaust, VR6 coil packs, #Magnecor HT leads, #Rotrex-C30-94 / #Rotrex supercharger kit, #ITG air filter, front mount intercooler, E36 radiator, Kelowe twin-speed main fan and two 8” auxiliary fans. #DTA S80 Pro ECU – wiring harness traction and launch control ready, uprated injectors, urban camo #Samco hose kit, 551 fuel cell, 2.51 surge tank, red top lift pump, #Bosch-044 pump, twin filters, adjustable pressure regulator and braided fuel lines. Five-speed manual gearbox, Z3 short-shift, lightened flywheel with Stage 3 DriveTorque clutch, 3.64 LSD
CHASSIS 9.5x17” (front and rear) ET-19 #Rota-RBX wheels painted in Candy Fantasy blue with 205/45 (front) and 225/45 (rear) #Maxxis Maz 1 tyres, FK High Sport coilovers, #H&R adjustable roll bars, rear camber kit, M3 eccentric front bushes, Powerflex polybushes all-round, strengthened sub frames, #Sparco twin-tube strut brace, #Wilwood ultra-light four-pot #BBK with 310mm discs (front), drilled/grooved rear, tubbed rear arches, front inner arches removed
EXTERIOR Custom steel wide arches flared 4”, hand-built side skirts, stretched #M-Tech 2 bumpers, custom swage lines, smoothed body, custom vented bonnet, carbon fibre boot spoiler, Startec rear lights, smoked headlights, carbon wrapped mirrors and door trims, side indicators removed, M3 bonded windscreen, sunroof panel lightened and bonded, airbrushed Union Jack/German flag on rocker cover, car finished in high gloss jet black
INTERIOR Recaro front seats on custom mounts, rear seats removed, deep-dish steering wheel, Drift Iridium digital gauges, centre switch panel, 18-point Safety Devices roll-cage, Sparco three-point harnesses, custom Union Jack headliner
THANKS My wife, Charlotte, Cotswold Airport (01285 771177 ‘Come and see us some time’), Circuit Motorsport Ltd trading as Sabre Tuning (Paul Shepherd, 01249 782596), The Engine Shed (Byron, 07788 454083), my dad for helping me and my mum for making him!
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- Post is under moderationSPIRIT OF #1977 #BMW-E12 530i RACE CAR
A wonderful evocation of the #BMW-E12-UFO Five under the spotlight. Phil Perryman’s E12 #BMW-530i-E30 caused quite a stir at Goodwood’s 73rd Members’ Meeting this year – those swirling stripes had everybody hypnotised. We get to grips with 2015’s most colourful tribute act… Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photography: Gary Hawkins
It may be painted like a big top, but it’s more scary than it is jovial. And the sound from that cannon-bore side-exit exhaust? It’s shouty on an interstellar level.
A heartfelt tribute is a wonderful thing. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as the hackneyed old cliché goes, and the world is jam-packed with people and places paying tribute to the things that inspire them. When notable art forgers are arrested, they usually claim that their efforts are in tribute to their creative heroes rather than trying to steal a little of their reflected glory, and you can see the logic of that (even if it’s not always true). The glimmering city of Las Vegas is so enamoured of global architecture that it features its own replica Colosseum, Eiffel Tower, Egyptian pyramids, and even a little Statue of Liberty. And there’s another Statue of Liberty replica in Kosovo; Thames Town near Shanghai replicates much of London; heck, in Virginia there’s even a copy of Stonehenge made entirely of foam. It’s called, as you might imagine, Foamhenge. A little respectful copying is what keeps creativity vibrant and alive – this sort of behaviour is effectively a dedicated real-world version of clicking Facebook’s ‘like’ button. Wear your influences on your sleeve, that’s the key.
The car you’re looking at here is a very real embodiment of this train of thought. Its colourful lines seek to evoke the #1977 Luigi Racing #BMW-530i , a brawny Big Six-powered Bavarian bruiser that proudly wore the disco livery of UFO Jeans. UFO was a brand noted for its ostentation and flair – literally, in the case of its galactically broad bell-bottoms – so the swooping stripes of the race car do much to reinforce this corporate ethos. It’s like World War I dazzle camouflage, refracted through the lens of LSD culture.
The original car was a very notable thing as well, taking copious scalps over a reign of terror that took in much of Europe, pivoting around the team’s Belgian base. It had a long and illustrious racing career, entering the Spa 24 Hours no less than five times and campaigning in the #ETCC in #1977 , #1978 , #1979 , #1980 and #1981 , as well as kicking no small amount of backside on the Belgian Touring Car Championship.
The livery may not be as iconic and ubiquitous as, say, Jägermeister or #BASF , but to those who remember, this UFO 5 Series was pretty hot stuff. It really seems to mean something at Goodwood too, which is where we first laid eyes on this loving tribute in all its technicolour glory. Indeed, as the 530i’s owner Phil Perryman cheerfully admits, it was the organisers at Goodwood who helped him come up with the livery. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though… if this isn’t the original UFO 530i, what is it? “Well, it’s actually a car that I remember racing against in the early 1990s,” Phil recalls, luxuriating into the tale like a pub raconteur in an old leather armchair. “When Goodwood announced the 72nd Members’ Meeting for 2014, and that it would include a race for 1970s Group 1 cars, I immediately thought of this BMW. I contacted the owner, but unfortunately he refused to sell at that time, and I ended up failing to find a car for that meeting. But by October of last year, the car ended up becoming available to buy, it was offered to me, and I snapped it up! I approached Goodwood, which was very excited about the idea of having such an iconic car on the grid, and the scene was set…”
It’s worth pointing out at this juncture that Phil is a racer with some pedigree. A few of you will be familiar with his form already, of course, but for the uninitiated, here it is in a dinky little nutshell: He began racing in the 1970s with grasstracking, hot rods on short ovals, all the kinds of motorsport that involve picking flies out your teeth and having a fairly broad view of one’s own mortality. Some karting and a smattering of circuit racing followed through the 1980s, since which time he’s been heavily involved in race car preparation. “I have been building and preparing historic race cars for myself and customers for many years now,” he explains, “including Austin Westminsters, Corvettes, Camaros, Cobras, Capris, Minis, GT40s…” (this list continues for some time – he’s been a very busy man – and we return from sticking the kettle on to catch the tail end of it) “…BMW CSis, CSLs, M5s, and now this E12.” So we can say that he’s a man of manifold talents, both figuratively and literally, and his CV speaks for itself.
Having a grounding in hands-on motorsport certainly does develop a keen eye for what a race car needs. So, back to this E12. A classic and proven entity, ready for action at Goodwood and all plain sailing, right? Er, no, not quite: “Having purchased a race car and thinking I could just make some modifications and it would all be done, it turned out not to be the case. In fact, the E12 revealed itself to be a very well used and tired old race car – although full of character, there just wasn’t enough performance for Goodwood! After dismantling the thing, it was clear that we would have to do a complete nut-and-bolt rebuild, and this took a full three months of sevendays- a-week and long hours, including Christmas and New Year; all of this was done in-house at Wheelbase by myself and my colleague Paul, who almost lived at the workshop for three months! On completion, we only had time for two shakedowns at Brands Hatch and a test at Goodwood, and this threw up more work as you would expect!” A true labour of love, then, and a mark of the dedication that Phil effervescently pours into his race car builds. He’s like the Terminator – when he’s got a job to do, the world transcends into neon-flashed binary darkness, with targets and goals the only things visible.
What resulted from this epic slog of all-nighters and tea-stirred-with-oily-spanners was an E12 that’s as straight as an arrow, its trusty Big Six M30 motor accessorising its brawny 3.0-litres of displacement with a big-valve race head, Schrick cams, a modified inlet and tubular exhaust manifold to get the engine acting as a more effective sort of air pump, and a peak power figure of 270hp. Oh, and there’s that jazzy colour scheme, of course…
“The livery was chosen in conjunction with Goodwood. It’s a car that’s been racing for many years and although it’s white all over, there were bits of red paint around the car in various places, so we decided to recreate the UFO colours. We painted all the red livery with lining tape and spray, copying the design exactly from a photo of the car at Zandvoort in 1977. This was a solid week’s work for two of us!”
It must have been a lot of fun to draw up, if perhaps a little stressful. In profile, the arcing lines mimic the whorls of a fingerprint, humping up and down like some deranged rollercoaster. The fat stripes offer a beautiful counterpoint to the delicacy of the car’s brightwork and slender window frames, whilst perfectly complementing the high, chunky sidewalls of those Dunlop control tyres. And you can just imagine what an intimidating presence it would create thundering up in your rear-view mirror, jutting sharknose flanked by brutal deckchair bonnet stripes and large-scale ‘UFO’ lettering. It may be painted like a big top, but it’s more scary than it is jovial. And the sound from that cannon-bore side-exit exhaust? It’s shouty on an interstellar level.
“The car’s certainly caused a lot of interest!” grins Phil, rightly proud of his colourful creation. “There were pictures in the motoring press even after its first shakedown, and its first race appearance at the 73rd Members’ Meeting this year saw it being a star attraction – we spent most of the weekend talking to enthusiasts about it, and it seemed to dominate the TV coverage!
“After #Goodwood had sent me the official invite, it offered Emanuele Pirro as a celebrity driver,” he continues. “He’s a very nice man and a fantastic driver, and having worked with him at the previous year’s Members’ Meeting while preparing John Young’s Capri, I jumped at the chance to have him in the car.” We don’t doubt that – having sacrificed so much daylight and human contact in the task of getting the 530i race-ready, it’s a ringing endorsement to have such a big name giving the car a thorough workout for the crowds, particularly given his history in the #ETCC with the #Schnitzer #BMW team.
It may have been an arduous journey to transform the car from tired old racer to tight-as-a-drum contender in time for its stellar debut in the UFO colours, but the job’s been done with alacrity. And as a tribute to that relentless, unstoppable meisterwerk of 1977? Well, it couldn’t be any better. Luigi would undoubtedly be proud.
TECH DATA BMW ‘ #BMW-UFO ’ 530i E12 /// #BMW-530i-E12-UFO
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: #M30 / #M30B30 3.0-litre straight-six, big-valve race head, #Schrick cams, tubular exhaust manifold, modified inlet, #Getrag gearbox, #ZF limited-slip diff, 3.6:1 ratio. 270hp.
CHASSIS: 8x15-inch #BBS replicas with 475/1000-15 #Dunlop CR65 control tyres, #GAZ shocks and modified front legs with bespoke springs and valving set up, #Polyflex bushes and rose-joints (to permitted specs), modified anti-roll bars, solid-mount rear subframe, strut brace, adjustable top mounts, #Wilwood front brakes with #Pagid pads and cooling ducting, stock rear brakes.
EXTERIOR: Stock body, hand-painted recreation #UFON Jeans 1977 livery.
INTERIOR: Original dash with #Alpina clocks, extra gauge pod with #VDO gauges, original doorcards, full #FIA rollcage, Sparco seat, Sabelt harness.
THANKS: Paul at Wheelbase for his dedication and hard work with us getting this car ready and competitive in such a short time – without his efforts it would not have got done.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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