- Post is under moderationNEW JACK HUSTLER
A lot of people talk about thinking outside the box when it comes to building a car, but few actually do. Jack Smith is someone who definitely walks the walk though.
/ #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-I / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf / #VW-Golf / #VW-Golf-I / #VW / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Rabbit / #Volkswagen-Rabbit-I / VW / #VW-Golf / #VW-Rabbit / #Tarmac / #Volkswagen-Golf-US-Spec-Mk1
“As soon as the old stock colour started coming up all my ideas about painting it Silver went out of the window”
“It would have been so much easier to import a full car myself, but with the money I already loaded into the car I thought I’d just build one”
“It’s something different and I can say that I built it, there’s a sense of pride in that... it's art to me"
Jack Smith’s Mk1 may look like a genuine #US-spec Rabbit… until you notice it’s right-hand-drive. And that’s just the start of the madness…
A lot of people talk about thinking outside the box when it comes to building a car, but few actually do it. Jack Smith is someone who steps right outside of it... Words: Tony Saggu Photos: Si Gray
To say Yorkshireman Jack Smith has eclectic tastes in automotive faire would be something of an understatement, with less than a decade on his driver’s license the twenty something Rotherham based paint sprayer has auditioned more style and makes of motors than most. “Me, I love building cars, the make and model or even the style isn’t as important as actually making the thing,” he told us. “It gets my mind working, thinking of things that not many people have done before, you know, taking something bland and making it something amazing." His latest metal massaging makeover takes the shape of a German born, English market, Americanised runabout with a petrol to diesel swap, newfangled technology and old fashioned looks... if you’re looking for predictable, keep walking.
“I actually started with a Renault 5 1.2 five door before I could drive,” laughed Jack, “My dad bought it for me so I had something to work on. That went matt black on lowering springs with some P slot wheels.” Once the 'L' plates had been discarded French fancies were replaced with a little German flair in the shape of a shiny Red 1.0 Mk3 Polo. The rims and springs added gave the car the right look until Jack introduced the coupe to a spot of unintended custom bodywork, “It ended up in the window of a local computer shop...” we’ll say no more. Sadly the lad’s luck didn’t improve much with the wrecked red Polo’s replacement, “Yeah, I had a white Mk3 1.3 Polo coupe after that, almost identical to the red one but with wider arches on the front,” he recalled. “That had a Corsa go into the side of it.” After the two crumpled coupes Jack tried his luck with a five door, another Polo, another Mk3, and tempting fate another 1.3. Thankfully the blue-hued saloon worked out well and was only given up when Jacks present project came along. “I’ve had a Golf, a Vento and even a bagged Mazda 3 along the way,” he told us, “I currently have a daily Lexus GS300 that is VIP inspired on Weds Kranze LZX and D2 air suspension with a fair bit of camber.”
Switch hitting Japanese gangster rides aside, Jack admits if he’s honest it’s the Dub life that pushes his buttons. “I think it all started from seeing people I used to ride BMX with buying and modifying them,” he recalled. “I found a German modified VW magazine while I was on holiday in Europe years ago, I couldn't understand anything in it but the cars looked pretty cool and I knew I wanted a piece of that, I started getting PVW after that and as soon as I could drive I bought myself the Polo coupe.” The latest Smith built sensation which you see here began like many makeovers with a chance encounter, “I wasn’t really looking to buy a Mk1,” explained Jack, “I had the blue Polo at the time and was pretty happy with it. My mate Ricky had bought it and done a bit of welding and other stuff so he could sell it on,” he continued. “Then it eventually just came up on a local forum that Ricky was selling it soon and at a good price. I didn’t need another car, but who doesn’t want a nice cheap Mk1? I put the Polo up for sale straight away and got on the phone to Ricky.” At seven hundred quid the antique '83 Golf was a steal, it had plenty of issues in all areas but the Yorkshireman wasn’t daunted. “It was pretty tired looking,” he told us, “and it had the typical MK1 rust problems. The paint was very faded paint and honestly it needed a good general tidy up to make it acceptable.” The car ran though, not too bad either according to Jack, the alternator was a bit dodgy but the car came with coilovers. “I had to take it for a MOT and there with a decent list of problems for me to fix,” he recalled.
A couple of hundred quid’s worth of parts and a spit and polish would have been the sensible thing to do, the resulting ratty but reasonable ride would have kept most Dub fanatics satisfied and smiling. A steady diet of Max Power, Revs, Fastcar and Redline magazines growing up had put Jack in a different frame of mind though, not to mention a couple of older cousins who had done nothing to take the edge off the custom car craving. “There wasn’t a chance of it staying standard,” laughed Jack, “ Initially I wanted to make it like every other MK1 you see at shows, it was going to be silver on polished BBS RS's, but when I actually started working on the car all that changed.” Job one, after the coilovers had been wound down to the limit and a set of Minilites from the old Polo had been bolted on, was to give the car a good clean and go over with a polishing mop to restore the righteous retro Pragus Blue. “As soon as the old stock colour started coming up all my ideas about painting it Silver went out of the window,” recalled Jack, “The blue is just perfect, it suits the car so well.” The next few months saw the car more often than not in pieces on the Jack’s driveway, the Mk1 was a sweet little motor but it was teaching young senior Smith a valuable if hard lesson... it was old, and old things break down and stop working a lot. “One of the biggest reasons the car looks and drives the way it does now is that basically everything needed to be repaired or replaced,” explained Jack, “if I was going to fix something anyway I thought I may as well make it better.”
Straightening the generally abused and rust riddled bodywork set the direction of the project and gave the car is final character. “When it came to the look I wanted It was mainly the US cars that got my attention,” revealed Jack, “The American lads were doing really low cars, with half the floors cut out and full of exotic custom suspension work. I knew I'd never go that far as it was out of my skill set, but I knew after looking at their cars that I wanted to make my car look like an American style VW.” The internet had taught our man that when it came to true US spec, there was only one direction he could go.
“The Westmoreland Rabbit,” he smiled, “Once I started thinking about it I realised I’d never seen a US spec Rabbit over here. Everyone was making MK2/3/4/5s US spec, but I couldn't understand why no one had imported or made a Mk1 over here. It would have been so much easier to import a full car myself, but with the money I already loaded into the car I thought I’d just build one.” It wasn’t long before Jack realized that giving his German built hatch the American look was going to take more than just slapping a Rabbit badge on the boot. The American built Mk1s have a look all of their own with more than a few US only exterior details and body panels. “Getting the parts was no joke,” lamented Jack, “A lot of the bits like the Hella rear lights, turn signals, side markers and the grill I got from Mexico via dodgy websites and ebay. The front panel was found on VWvortex after months messaging people who were breaking cars for parts,” he continued. “It a big piece to post over so convincing someone to do it took a while, finally someone decided to do it for me. I can’t remember his name but the bloke was a legend. He only charged me about $60 then $60 shipping as I only got the top half of the front panel to save on shipping costs.”
The all important and decidedly unique Hella Projector headlights were apparently liberated from some sort of Jeep and sourced through the Edition38 forums for a reasonable £90. “The front wings were a major headache,” recalled Jack. “The driver’s side came from #VW-Heritage over here and only cost £30 delivered, it was a brand new genuine wing. I couldn't believe my luck when I found that.” The passenger side 'fender' however wouldn’t be such an easy acquisition, “The other side I was really struggling,” he explained, “Everyone wanted $500 for shipping and I couldn't justify spending that much for one wing. It took a lot of hunting but after talking to someone on #VW-Vortex from a place called Old-Skool-VW we worked out a way to get around the postage.” Clued up VW heads will already know that the major difference between the German wing and the Pennsylvania panel is the leading edge around the US spec corner light. “He agreed to cut me a spare wing up and sent me only the front part which wraps around the turn signal,” revealed Jack. “He cut it just big enough to fit in a USPS Fixed Rate shipping box. I think this was also $60 plus $45 shipping. Once it arrived I had to figure out how I was going to graft it into a Euro wing.” A good deal of careful measuring, delicate cutting and skillful welding had the wing looking every part the perfect stock American example. While the welder was out the rear panel needed to be similarly cut and shut to house the long rear lights the Yanks like so much. Unsurprisingly Smith has strapped on a pair of Westmoreland issued bumpers fore and aft to complete his American auto adventure, the heavy girder style steel protrusions are normally the first US styling faux par to be binned by Stateside Dubbers, in favour of the slim and sexy Euro examples.
Toned down with matt black paint and pushed closer to the body with custom crafted brackets however, it seems Jack has made VW of North America’s design department’s bumper blunder a thing of stylish beauty. It’s no surprise, with our man being a painter by trade, that the reapplied Pragus Blue top coat is smooth, silky and to our eyes perfectly refinished, Jack though, ever the perfectionist, reckons he could have done better. “I’d like to go back and redo the bodywork,” he told us, “Since I've gained more experience in the trade over the years, I've got more of a eye for detail now than when I first painted it, I was only in an apprenticeship back then.”
Jack told us the original 1.1 under the bonnet was on its last legs, pumping out more oil than horsepower. “I got offered a 1.8 conversion and tried fitting that, but it would never run and no one could figure out why it wouldn't start,” he told us, “I got so annoyed and decided just to rip it all out and find a cheap engine to chuck into it. I saw a 1.6 #GTD for sale for £150, it had everything including the fuel pump and turbo.” Jack admits his experience with engine conversions is pretty limited, but dropping in the diesel was a doddle, “essentially its four mounts, a custom downpipe and about six wires,” he enthused. “Obviously there's a little more to it than that, I had to get a gearbox and some other stuff, but me and my mate Kyle could take it out in less than two hours.” Although originally the cheap oil burner was just supposed to be a temporary engine to get the car mobile, Jack told us it wasn’t long before the diesel started to grow on him, “I soon fell in love with it,” he smiled, “ turning the fuel and boost up made it really nippy and it was still stupidly economical.
The kinda reason I decided to keep it and refine it,” he continued, “I took it out a couple of years ago to clean it up and smooth the engine bay. It still makes me smile when you look in the rear view mirror and see a cloud of black smoke.”
Despite the nicely detailed diesel swap and skillfully executed body conversion, Jack reckons his favorite part of the build lays elsewhere, “It’s without a doubt the wheels,” he smiled proudly, “The Fifteen52 Tarmac348 wheels, I wanted them the day they got released but I couldn't afford them.” A good deal of overtime and skipping a few nights out with the lads, as well as selling his Fifteen52 Snowflakes had the prized rollers bought though, to up the ante a touch the boys at the legendary California style haus custom made the rims in two piece with brushed centres and polished lips for the Mk1.“The suspension is a Havair strut kit with paddle valve management,” continued Jack, “I think they were the only MK1 struts available at the time when I was wanting to get air for the car. To be fair I've had them a fair few years and it’s all still working fine, which is not bad seeing I used to use this car daily as well.”
Raising the turrets and giving the frame a little notching love helps the bags put the little Mk1 in the weeds, “The wishbone mounts and sump sit on the ground now,” he assured us. “The front struts have been drilled out to give me more negative camber and the rear suspension has some camber disks behind the stub axle to do the same at the back.” The dropped and diesel swapped hatch from oop north is certainly unique, not just in the land of dales and moors either, Jack’s built himself something very different from a familiar platform and we reckon you would be hard pressed to find a twin on either side of the Atlantic ,” he smiled, “Its art to me, creating something special out of something ordinary.” We think he nailed it.
1.6-litre Mk2 Golf GTD lump provides plenty of smiles with the 'boost and fueling would up." Looks sweet too!
Air install out back is simple but clean and nicely functional. Well, what more do you need really?
"Heeeeres Jacky!" Jack's plan to chop Si Gray up with an axe thankfully didn’t pan out. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy...
Old-skool Cobra buckets work brilliantly up front with rears trimmed to match.
ENGINE: 1.6-litre GTD from a MK2 Golf, ‘fuelling wound up, boost wound up’, Mk1 Series 1 radiator, front mount intercooler, custom solid boost pipes painted gloss black, Mk3 8v GTI rocker cover painted gloss black.
CHASSIS: 8x16” #Fifteen-52 #Tarmac-348 two-piece wheels, ET5 front and ET0 rear with 165/45/16 Nankang NS2 tyres, #Havair #air-suspension struts, paddle valve management with a five gallon tank, #Viair-380 compressor, raised turrets, camber holes extended on front struts and turrets, camber disks on the rear hubs.
EXTERIOR: Full repaint in the original Pragus Blue colour, late Westmoreland Rabbit front end conversion with #Hella Projectors, late Westmoreland Rabbit Long rear lights, Late Westmoreland Rabbit bumpers refinished in matt black, Rabbit rear side markers, GTI plastic arches, GTI A-Piller trims, #Zender three-piece spoiler, flared and cut arches, partially smoothed bay with the scuttle panel removed and hidden wiring.
INTERIOR: Renewed door cards, new carpet, 80's Cobra bucket seats with the original rear bench trimmed to match, boot build fully carpeted with tank and compressor on show with hardlines. Gloss black painted Mountney steering wheel with a chrome centre.
SHOUT: I would like to thank Cayla for putting up with my love for my cars, supporting me and helping me out with them. Big thank you to everyone at Rollhard, they helped me out massively last year, I couldn't have met a nicer bunch of people. Also a big thank you to the guys at Autoperfekt for keeping my cars clean. I would also like to thank Brad for the welding, Kyle and anyone else that's helped me along with the build process.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCONTINENTAL DRIFT
It’s become an international sensation but the heart of drifting is in Japan. That’s not to say you have to use a Japanese car, however; you just have to get a little creative… 400HP E34 M5 V8-powered drift 5 Series S62 V8-swapped E34 drift machine. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Ade Brannan.
Drifting has come a long way from being the sole preserve of mischievous Japanese outlaws sneaking out for touge battles after dark. The sport has spread like wildfire across the globe, consuming everything in its path in a fug of dense tyre smoke. Of course, there are drifters and there are good drifters; any fool can kick a clutch and light up the rears but the true connoisseur has an ingrained knowledge of entry angles, balletic transitions, and all those technical tricks that are earned and learned rather than simply assumed.
Interestingly, the rise of the modern obsession with drifting neatly overlaps the demise of what archaeologists of the future will probably call ‘the fibreglass body kit era’. The modding fraternity’s enthusiasm for bolting massive, extravagant plastic addenda to humdrum shopping hatchbacks rapidly tailed off when they started seeing footage of big-power RWD cars atomising their tyres at high speed. And the timing of the fall of one phenomenon and the rise of the other is no coincidence. And Jeek Federico, owner of this slightly scary E34, straddles the two scenes rather effectively.
Now, it’s all very well teaching yourself to drift and honing a few cheeky skills, but it’s not like you can just do it out there on the Queen’s highway. You’ll be tugged by the fuzz in short order. And if you try to hang the tail out at Brands or Silverstone, you’ll be black-flagged straightaway, and probably blacklisted, too. But thankfully there’s a place on these innocent isles where such smoky shenanigans are actively encouraged: Driftland. It’s up there in Lochgelly in Scotland. Oh, and by chance, Jeek just happens to be the owner of the place. Handy, eh?
Driftland is the UK’s only dedicated drift venue, and it caters to all levels of enthusiasts who prefer to do their driving while looking through the side windows; seasoned veterans are welcome, but Jeek also runs a fleet of 15 or so E36 Drift School cars. Naturally he needs something pretty boisterous for his own car as well, to act as a showcase for all the place offers. And that’s where this E34 comes in. “I was looking for something to replace my E39 540i drift car that I’d owned for years,” he recalls. “I tried a few different Japanese models but hated them all. I’d known of this particular car for quite a few years and it came up for sale at just the right time; it had all the best bits of a big V8 German beauty that I loved, mixed with the agility and weight of a nimble Japanese car.”
Aha, you’re intrigued now, aren’t you? Because, you see, this isn’t just a strippedout travelling salesman special – it’s a custom-engineered lightweight with a German heart and a Japanese soul. The front end of the car is pretty much all Nissan S14 200SX, converted to run a JDM steering rack rather than the heavy old steering box. And the commitment to weight saving throughout the car is extensive and farreaching; even the single-wiper conversion runs an E46 Compact motor to shave off a few grams.
But don’t go wringing your hands just yet. It’s not all Japanese. Take a look at what’s going on under the bonnet, for example: the eagle-eyed and nerdy of engine code will have recognised this as an S62B50 – the hyperactively enhanced variant of the solid-as- a-rock M62 that you’d usually find under the bonnet of an E39 M5 (or, for those of a more exotic persuasion, the retro-futurist Z8 – y’know, the car James Bond sawed in half in that questionable 007 movie). This is a mighty motor, offering 400hp in factory tune; it’s got eight individual throttle bodies, hollow camshafts, and it’s just peachy.
“These engines don’t need a lot of modification,” Jeek assures us. “I’m running Huxley Motorsport exhaust manifolds and an Alpha N map with MAF delete but, aside from that, it hasn’t been messed with and it makes a solid 401hp.” He’s got it running through a five-speed manual ’box with a super-lightweight flywheel (this isn’t like a lazy, rumbling American V8, it’s an eager revver), while a Helix paddle-clutch makes short work of those fourth gear clutch kicks.
As you might imagine, the chassis that underpins all of this culture-clash fury is a bit of a mixed bag – part German, part Japanese, but all awesome. “The brakes are from an R33 Nissan Skyline at the front,” Jeek explains, “along with an E36 M3 Evo pedalbox and cylinder. The rear end is all E34 540i – it’s running zero camber to give perfect tyre wear and maximum grip from those 265/35s at 15psi.” Custom Apex coilovers suspend the thing, and you’ll find a variety of oriental flavours in the mix, too, from the likes of Tein and Doritech among others. The overriding theory behind the build is to ensure that every element of the car is focused on doing its job correctly; there’s nothing superfluous here, it’s all just hell-bent on destroying tyres in the most aesthetically alluring way possible. “The plan with it was always just to have fun, wreck tyres, and do huge top-of-fourth-gear smoky skids, all while advertising my business,” laughs Jeek. And his sense of fun is palpable throughout the E34. Sure, it’s aggressive and mean, but it’s also a little bit mischievous.
The choice of wheels presented a bit of head-scratching, not least because the car’s running different PCDs on either axle: 5x114 front and 5x120 rear. “I have always been a fan of dish and width,” he says. “My old E39 ran 10”-wide Rondels all-round, so the new car’s wheels had to be beefy specs, as well as being easily replaceable in the event of one getting damaged. I opted for the STYLE49 wheels from 7Twenty, in 10x17” on the front and 10.5x18” on the rear.”
They certainly complement the gorgeous paintwork very well. If the colour’s left you scrabbling through your memory banks of all the paint codes, it’s actually a Citroën shade named Whisper Purple. “I originally bought the car from my mate at Jankes BMW Spares,” says Jeek. “It was high off the ground, had crap wheels, and a terrible paint and sticker scheme. I had the body and paint all sorted out by the good guys at Toole Design. Along with the paintwork, the car was lowered and received a set of side skirts and a 1980s Zender splitter. The paint’s definitely my favourite thing that’s been done, as it looked rubbish before.”
While the look may be pin-sharp and ready to mingle with the heavies, it’s important to remember that this E34’s real party piece is its extraordinarily light weight. “It weighs just 1150kg wet,” Jeek explains. “To put that in context, that’s about the same as a new Fiesta.” Just absorb that fact for a moment: imagine a new Fiesta with 400hp, then consider the fact that they’re not even rear-wheel drive… the dedication to weight saving has been relentless and ruthless here.
“The theme for the interior was, quite simply, race car,” he grins. “There’s nothing in there that the car doesn’t need. That steering wheel is actually a genuine carbonfibre item from one of Ken Block’s M-Sport Focus rally cars. There’s also a pair of Motordrive seats with Driftland-branded harnesses (because sometimes you need to scare a passenger), a hydraulic handbrake, extinguishers, and that’s pretty much it.”
Which, of course, is just as it should be. The base car was a non-sunroof 530i but there’s not a whole lot of that left here now, aside from the essential silhouette. The attention to detail stretches way into the recesses that you wouldn’t spot, too. All the underseal has been scraped from the underneath, which has been painted grey, while the insides are a complementary grey and blue. Everything about the car screams purpose, but at the same time it’s a very considered build. The perfect tool, in fact, for advertising Driftland.
Is it the ultimate BMW drift car, then? Has Jeek nailed it this time? “Ah, I don’t know,” he considers, scratching his chin thoughtfully. “I often think about what the next car might be, but I’m not sure what could be better – this engine in a 1M shell maybe? Or maybe some V10 M60 goodness?”
It’s a moot point for now, however, as this shouty workhouse is a harsh taskmaster. “It got quite crashed up this year, so it’ll be getting some fibreglass rear quarters made up, and at the same time the car might end up a different colour, as well as going a little lower,” he confirms. “And, hey, if money were no object, a flat-shift sequential and a supercharger would be nice.” Well, if this E34 is as effective an advert as it is a drift car, those dreams may well be coming true before long.
The plan was always to have fun, wreck tyres and do huge skids, all while advertising my business.
Interior has been stripped-out and fitted with a Huxley Motorsport roll-cage plus a pair of Motordrive seats
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-S62 / #BMW-V8 Drift / #BMW-E34 / #BMW / #7Twenty / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E34 / #BMW-5-Series-Drift / #BMW-E34-V8 / #BMW-E34-S62 / #BMW-E34-V8 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-E34-Drift
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 / #S62 , #Alpha-N map, new shells, Huxley Motorsport exhaust manifolds, #Doritech exhaust system (with V-bands for quick removal), #TTV-Racing lightweight single-mass flywheel with custom paddle and #Motorsport-Helix cover plate, 35-litre alloy tank underneath rear floorpan with #Bosch-044 pump and pressure gauge in bay, five-speed #ZF gearbox, 3.23 welded diff
CHASSIS 10x17” 5x114 (front) and 10.5x18” 5x120 (rear) #7Twenty-STYLE49 wheels, #Nissan-GTS 320mm fourpot front calipers with ventilated discs, 540i rear calipers with ventilated discs, rear subframe reinforced with adjustable camber and toe, #Powerflex bushes, front subframe modified to use Nissan steering rack, bottom #Nissan arms, front Nissan knuckles with adaptors to use #BMW wheels, #Doritech knuckles for extra lock, #Tein tie rods, #GKT-Tech castor arms and GKT Tech lower arms, hydraulic handbrake with 0.650 Wilwood pump, #Apex custom coilovers – 10/8kg damping adjustable
EXTERIOR E34 530i non-sunroof shell, Citroën Whisper Purple paint, underside painted grey, inside painted grey/blue, side skirts, #Zender splitter from the 1980s
INTERIOR #Huxley-Motorsport roll-cage with extension to front turrets, #M-Sport/Ken Block carbon fibre steering wheel, E34 #BMW-M5-E34 instrument cluster and kick plates, #Motordrive seats, #Driftland harnesses, Coolerworks gearshifter, power steering cooler, #Lexan windows, flocked dash, M3 Evo servo and pedalbox, extra gauges for oil/water temperature/oil pressure/fuel, flick switches, custom wiring with fuse/relay panel, single wiper conversion running E46 Compact motor, #Zero-2000 plumbed-in extinguisher, 1kg hand-held fire extinguisher, small battery with fibreglass box and cut-off switchStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLITTLE MONSTER TURBO’D E21 320i
With a turbo strapped to its 2.0-litre M10, this E21 makes a healthy 190hp and looks great with it. This little E21 looks fairly unassuming, but that bonnet scoop suggests something a bit tasty underneath. Oh yes, we’ve got a turbo! Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Max Earey.
What is it with BMW and not turbocharging its petrol models? The company basically pioneered turbos on production cars with the beautiful 2002 Turbo in 1974, but what since? Well, there was the rather strange 1980s E23 7 Series with 3.2-litre or 3.5-litre KKK turbo’d engine available (badged 745i for some reason), and er, that’s it. So, is it any wonder we’re seeing more and more private tuners and modifiers producing the forced induction vehicles BMW didn’t?
From our many visits to Scandinavia it has become apparent that the older BMW engines are the easier ones to strap a turbo to. Less electronic nonsense to fuss around with it seems, and these old blocks appear to be practically bulletproof. Seeing E30s with turbocharged M20 or transplanted S38 M5 engines is not uncommon in these Nordic lands, but it is still a rarity to see an E21 with its original M10 or M60 engine boosted.
For that we have had to travel a little further afield than Sweden or Norway, to a dusty mountain road high above Los Angeles. Here I meet a young modding enthusiast named Attila Acs and his 1978 320i. “I never really saw too many E21s that had been turbocharged,” the Californian said, “and I thought it would be different. And also because I want a fast car.”
Okay, so this little E21 isn’t pumping out the sort of crazy horsepower figures we’ve witnessed in Sweden of late, but Attila’s car is a genuine everyday driver. Besides, an estimated 190bhp and 200lb ft of torque at the flywheel is certainly a healthy performance leap over the standard E21 320i. “It’s very hard to pull those kind of performance numbers from such an old car,” Attila continued. “Especially from one with mechanical (K-Jet), and not electronic fuel injection.”
With the help of his father, a mechanic, Attila has stayed pretty true to BMW’s original spec for the 320i. The 2.0-litre fourcylinder M10 engine remains – it just now has a Garrett T3 turbocharger in place that was never offered from the factory. And we all like a bit of forced induction.
You could consider this turbo evolution as a natural progression for Attila’s E21. It was owned from new by a family friend in Hungary, they had it shipped to the US, and then Attila’s parents bought it from them in 1994. On turning 16 Attila was given the car, and he openly admits it wasn’t really his thing at first. “I had contemplated selling it,” he said, “but before long I fell in love with her and started to make small modifications.”
As with most young men, the draw of owning a fast car was irresistible for Attila. Respect to the guy though – instead of selling out and buying a tacky Japanese car for a bit of extra straight-line speed, he stayed true to his much-loved E21 and started talking with his dad about a turbo conversion. A basically brand new T3 turbo had been sitting around at his dad’s garage for some time, and it was just too tempting not to.
“The car was shut down for about nine months,” Attila explained. “Me and my dad would work on the car after work until late, and even come in on Saturdays sometimes. The whole process was not easy by any means, and even after the likes of the turbo and intercooler had been fitted, we found the motor was not getting enough fuel and the timing was way off.”
Once a few problems had been ironed out, and by impressively retaining the almost antique K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection, the now boosted E21 was a whole new weapon. “We had it running like a bat out of hell,” Attila said. After having a thrill ride along the twisty mountain blacktop I was pretty convinced there was enough power on tap in this little E21 to keep most people honest. It is at that magical point of being a lot of fun without being dangerous. On these roads, it’s a long way down if you lose it.
As well as the T3 turbo (running 14-15psi) and Starion intercooler, a turbo cam, HKS blow-off valve, bigger fuel injectors and high flow fuel pump have all necessarily been added. A custom intake and exhaust have had to be fabricated, while the whole package is that bit sportier with a transplanted five-speed gearbox from another E21, a custom short-shift and 228mm sports clutch.
There’s no sense having all this engine and drivetrain work without considering the chassis as well, and it’s good to report Attila’s E21 had no problems sticking like a limpet through the corners. Eibach Pro Kit springs lower the car suitably, while Bilstein shocks, front strut brace and rear anti-roll bars tighten it all up. Lovely stuff.
It’s pointless trying to stuff mighty wheels under the arches of such a car, and it’s great to see Attila has stayed true to an original #BMW style by fitting 7x15” BBS RA rims. The body sits low enough so the car doesn’t look under-wheeled, while a 15” size ensures there will be no arch rubbing or a loss in handling characteristics.
The standard E21 body is a very attractive shape already, but as Attila has proved, a few upgrades here and there truly make the difference. Notice the BBS front spoiler, Zender skirts, Zender rear apron and nice custom boot spoiler, all working well with the European front and rear bumpers. Some clear lights and headlight eyebrows to work with the gleaming bodywork truly finish things off nicely.
So you may think Attila’s E21 is just a well-looked- after, tastefully modified classic at first glance. Then you notice the bonnet scoop. This is an original Subaru WRX item cut down and moulded to fit into the 320i’s bonnet, allowing cool air to reach the turbo, and let its hot air escape. Not a bad plan, as the temperature coming out of this vent after a quick play would easily melt anything remotely close to that T3 turbo.
So there are certainly enough performance hints to suggest this fine example of BMW’s first 3 Series is a handy little toy. Strapped into the Corbeau CR1 race seat with threepoint harness, staring at Autometer gauges and operating the push-button start, the driver knows this is something special too. The car is a true gem from head to toe, but it’s the fact it is turbocharged that deserves the most respect. Attila stayed faithful to the car he was given, and when the teenage lust for pure performance came knocking, he did what he could with what he had. The rewards he’s reaping from such a quick, tight and beautiful car are rightfully justified.
A twisty mountain road thrill ride convinces you this E21 has power and traction in bucketloads.
DATA FILE #BMW-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #Garrett / #BMW-320i-E21 / #BMW-320i / #BBS / #BMW-320i-Turbo-E21 / #BMW-320i-Turbo /
ENGINE: 2.0-litre fuel injected four-cylinder #BMW-M10 / #M10 / #M10-Turbo engine with #Garrett-T3 turbocharger running 14-15psi, turbo cam, Starion front-mounted intercooler, #HKS SSQV blow-off valve, custom intake, custom exhaust, bigger fuel injectors, high flow fuel pump, 1.8-litre intake manifold on a 2.0-litre block. E21 five-speed transmission conversion, custom shortshift, 228mm sports clutch setup. Standard CIS engine management system upgraded, #MSD #Boost-Timing-Master
PERFORMANCE: 190bhp and 200lb ft torque at the flywheel
CHASSIS: 7x15” #BBS-RA wheels shod in 205/55 Kumho 711 tyres. #Eibach Pro Kit springs, #Bilstein shocks, front strut brace, rear anti-roll bar, vented front brakes
EXTERIOR: BBS front spoiler, #Zender side skirts, Zender rear apron, custom boot spoiler, European bumpers, European indicators, custom headlight eyebrows, H4 headlights, custom bonnet scoop modified from Subaru WRX item
INTERIOR: Corbeau CR1 race seats, Corbeau three-point harnesses, Autometer shift light, Autometer gauges, push-button starter
THANKS: My dad – without him this car would not be at the stage it is. Also my family and Katie for their support, Lee at BMWPlanet.com and the E21 Legion!
An estimated 190bhp and 200lb ft of torque at the flywheel with the turbocharger is certainly a healthy performance leap over the standard E21 320i.
Above: Original E21 M10 engine remains, but benefits from Garrett T3 turbocharger. Result is 190bhp and 200lb ft torque in this little monster.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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Gorgeous bagged #BMW E30 with an #S52 swap and shaved bay
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
In the same family for almost 30 years, this ridiculously clean E30 has undergone quite a transformation in that time. Some heirlooms leave a more lasting impression than others, as we discover when we meet Nick Lanno from Ohio. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Patrick McCue.
It’s not often a car stays in the same family for almost 30 years, yet this 1987 325iS is the very same car that delivered Nick Lanno – the subject of our story – from hospital when he was born, and 15 years later became his first car.
That was in 2009, and Nick, now aged 22, has completely transformed the car from what it once was. He takes up the story: “My father bought the car brand-new from David Hobbs BMW in Chillicothe, Ohio, and he drove it on a daily basis right up until my teens, so it was always in the garage while we were wrenching on other vehicles together. That’s where my passion for cars started.”
Nick couldn’t help but fall in love with the E30 and as soon as he was old enough he began to research these cars. That’s when he got hooked on the blue and white roundel, as he explains: “The fact that they are truly a driver’s car is what attracted me to them the most. The heritage and history behind all these classic BMWs that people own is so interesting and they almost always carry a great story. I love every car BMW has made to this day and I will always be a BMW enthusiast.”
This was the car that took Nick to school, to soccer games, to friends’ houses, you name it – it was a huge part of his life and quite often he would while away the hours thinking how incredible it would be to own it one day. In 2000 it went into storage, and then, much to Nick’s surprise, nine years later it was taken out of storage and given to him on his 15th birthday! His childhood dream had come true.
“There was no other E30 I would rather have had than this car. It was perfect and despite having clocked up 120k, it was immaculate; all OEM parts, original paint, absolutely rust-free, and it had a full service history,” he recalls.
Needless to say it did not stay 100 per cent original for long. In fact, the first thing Nick did as soon as it was in his possession was lower it on a set of Ireland Engineering race springs. Other modifications included all red tail-lights, smoked Euro Smiley headlights and side repeaters, a later model front valance and a Zender rear valance. Shortly after that, the car then went back into storage so that over the next few years Nick could save some money and let the real transformation begin.
Once again it was the suspension that demanded Nick’s attention first: “After pouring through different forums looking at the various setups, I knew that to get the drop I really wanted I’d have to look into a custom air-ride setup.” Up front he’s installed Air Lift’s Crafter Series struts, while Air House II bags and Bilstein shocks reside out back. The rear spring perches were modified for the bags, as were the front spindles for the struts. The system is managed by Air Lift’s Autopilot V2, with plenty of presets all at the tip of Nick’s fingers in the centre console. “The setup is so convenient, making road trips as comfortable as can be, yet the car still handles fantastically in the corners. I have the best of both worlds,” he adds.
The car remained in this guise for the next three months, until one fateful day when the timing belt from the original M20B25 snapped. This prompted the next stage of the build. “I sourced a low-mileage S52B32 out of a 1999 M3 from a good friend in Cincinnati with roughly 70k on it,” Nick says. “I completely regasketed the motor from top to bottom, as well as safety wiring the oil pump nut, before fitting 21.5lb injectors, a lightened flywheel, and a 3.5” intake setup.” Together with a few friends, the swap took about a week to do. Apparently the maiden voyage with open headers put one of the biggest smiles on Nick’s face to this day. Not surprisingly it came to life as a completely different beast that day.
After two years of driving it across the States to various shows, Nick wanted to take the car to a new level – he wanted to shave, tuck and customise the engine bay. Fortunately a good friend of his owned a body shop so once Nick had pulled out the engine to take care of tidying up the wiring harness and deleting any non-essentials such as air-con and power steering, the car was sent off for six months to begin its transformation. “Everything looks so neat and beautiful under the bonnet now, but the star of the show has to be S52. It is so reliable and has plenty of power to make the car feel a blast to drive. It brings a smile to my face every time I’m behind the wheel.”
Whilst this car’s spec is a far cry from when Nick’s father bought it all those years ago, it’s still managed to retain its factory charm. And that’s because his objective throughout the build has been to keep things clean, simple and classy. The same philosophy has been applied to the cabin of the car, which is relatively stock save for the Nardi steering wheel, custom stitched M-Tech style gear knob and gaiter and Coco mats, which are all period-correct for the car. “I wanted the car to retain its original feel,” Nick says. “I’ve even kept the seats, which are fairly worn now, but it gives it character.”
Like any true project, the car has gone through various incarnations of wheels, including BBS RSs and CCWs, but Nick eventually settled for 8.5x16” (front) and 9.5x16” (rear) Schmidt TH Line wheels shod in 205/40 rubber that you see on the car now, and we have to say that they suit the stance, lines and age of the car perfectly.
This is not a car created with a blank cheque book; it is a car with tons of sentimental value to the owner and gradually improved over time with the help of friends and family. It’s been built to drive and to enjoy, it doesn’t sit in a garage or on a trailer and we love the fact that whilst Nick put his own stamp on it he’s taken a wholly sympathetic approach in his choice of modifications. Now it’s finally complete all he plans to do is simply drive it. “It has taken a lot of effort to get the car to where it is today but it was a journey which has led me to meet a lot of fantastic friends and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. The car is a big part of me and something I am most definitely proud of.”
Along with the life lessons and skills that a father teaches a son, there are also certain material things that you pass down – like a tool kit or, in Nick’s case, a dream car. In these increasingly disposable times, fewer and fewer items are worth saving and giving to your children, so we hope Nick sticks to family tradition and passes his treasured 325iS to his own son or daughter.
DATA FILE #BMW-325iS #S52 air-ride #E30 / #BMW-325iS / #BMW-325iS-S52-E30 / #BMW-325iS-S52-Air-Ride-E30 / #BMW-325iS-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #S52B32 / / #BMW-S52 / #Bimmerworld / #Getrag-260 / #BMW /
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / , 21.5lb injectors, 3.5” #Euro-MAF , 3.5” #Bimmerworld-Silicone intake boot, air-con and power steering delete, #M42 radiator, TMS remap, Condor Speed Shop engine mounts, custom longtube headers and 2.5” exhaust including #Vibrant race resonator; shaved, tucked and resprayed engine bay
TRANSMISSION OEM #Getrag 260 five-speed gearbox, #Sachs-HD clutch, #MWorks-Garage custom transmission crossmember, #Condor-Speed-Shop Speed Shop transmission mounts, lightweight flywheel
CHASSIS 8.5x16” (front) and 9.5x16” (rear) #Schmidt-TH-Line wheels with 205/40 (f&r) Nitto Neogen tyres, #Air-Lift universal front struts, #Air-House II rear bags, #Bilstein rear shocks, #AutoPilot V2 management including five-gallon tank and #Viair-400C compressor, drilled and slotted brake discs and Hawk pads, brake booster delete, E21 master cylinder, tucked brake lines, stainless steel braided clutch slave line
EXTERIOR Later model front valance, iS front spoiler and bootlip, smoked Euro Smiley headlights and side repeaters, all red tail-lights, #Zender rear valence, #Shadowline trim
INTERIOR Nardi Classic steering wheel, custom stitched #M-Tech-style gear knob and gaiter, Coco mats, #Dynamatted back seat and boot
THANKS All of my good friends in BHC, and those that had a hand in the build, my father and Anthony at ASC Autoworks
Front end, like the rest of the car, is incredibly clean, with a late model valence and iS front spoiler. #AutoPilot-V2 management offers eight presets and countless options; gorgeous 16” Schmidt splits suit the E30 perfectly.
The car is a big part of me and something I am definitely proud of.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLOVE IS… #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen
Every now and again a car comes along, seemingly out of nowhere, that completely blows us away. Be prepared to fall in love with Robin Varley’s Volkswagen Golf Mk1… Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Andrew Holliday.
We don’t want to blow our own trumpets or anything but we like to think that we’re pretty switched on when it comes to knowing what’s going on out there in the modified VW world. It’s far easier these days thanks to social media, of course. A quick bit of thumb action on Instagram or a move of a mouse on Facebook and you can see all manner of builds being put together all over the world. The reason for saying this is a simple one: we wanted to convey how blown away we were when Robin Varley’s Mk1 dropped in to our email inbox, courtesy of snapper Andrew Holliday. “I saw the car for the first time in person two days ago and it is immaculate,” Andrew exclaimed. “It’s the best water-cooled VW build out of Vancouver I have ever seen!” Pretty big talk we thought. And then we saw Andrew’s awesome photos pop up on Dropbox. Woah, he wasn’t exaggerating!
“The Mk1 is just an icon,” owner Robin explained when we got in touch with him some time later. “Not to mention it’s the car I grew up with. I begun my career with one of the top VW tuners of the ’90s and I was just immersed in the culture and technology of making these little cars very fast and well-sorted.” Robin’s career path might have changed a little, he now earns his Loonies as a technical supervisor on Stuttgart’s very finest, but his passion is still rooted in what came out of Wolfsburg back in the day. “My friend’s #BBS -kitted 1988 GTI is what got me into VWs in the first place, back in 1990,” Robin remembered, “although I’ve always been a car person at heart. I’ve been watching and following Formula One and Le Mans since 1985.”
Robin is now 38-years-old and he’s had a fair few Veedubs pass through his hands over the years but this one came in to his possession in a pretty unusual way, as he explains: “It was originally owned by my friend Chester. I was his mechanic on the car and he wanted to have a repaint on it. I talked him into removing the engine to paint the bay. He liked the ideas I had for some improvements and it exploded from there. It had already been built up and ran a gnarly old-school, solid lifter 2.0-litre with an Audi 80 block. It had all the best of the old-school performance parts and a set of ultra-rare forged ATS Limited Line Cups on it.”
At the time, the European scene was moving forward and cars with smoothed and simplified bays were starting to become more common. And when Robin saw Marco Haeger’s legendary Mk1, it pretty much blew his mind! “Seeing that car opened up my eyes to a whole new world of tuning and modifying. The attention to detail on his cars were really ground-breaking. It set the bar,” Robin remembered.
“The entire build took 13 years and went through two owners before me: Chester and Jenkin. They both allowed me the freedom to experiment and had a lot of belief in the vision I had for the car,” Robin continued. Confused? Yeah, we were too. Allow us to explain before we go in to too much detail. Chester owned the car for the first eight years, and with Robin working on it with essentially a free rein to do what he liked it got to the stage of the car having an engine, and the bodywork and paint had been done, too, but not much else. Then Chester had to leave the country for work, so another friend, Jenkin, took over ownership of it. While Jenkin had it Robin got it wired up and running. Then Jenkin had to part with the car to fund his wedding and Robin finally bought it for himself. “I never charged Chester or Jenkin a dime in labour. I was building it for the love of it in my spare time so when I bought the car it felt like I was buying back the last ten years of my life,” he remembered.
So, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? And to make things simpler, we will tell the story from Robin’s point of view. “Chester wasn’t a modified car guy but he loved VWs so I was allowed to basically build the car the way I envisioned from the start,” he explained. When Chester first got hold of the car it was in good shape, aside from a little bit of rust in the common areas. Most importantly, though, it was an original German-built round headlight Mk1. About a year later, the car was stripped to the bare metal and put on a jig Robin had fabricated. Now after looking at his car it should come as no surprise that Robin is something of a perfectionist, and that’s putting it lightly. “The bodywork and paint took close to three years to complete. The car was walnut blasted, resealed and painted in every nook and cranny. The polishing alone took weeks. It was the only part of the build that I didn’t do myself,” he proclaimed proudly.
We can’t jump forward to the paint stage without first talking about the mind-boggling attention to detail that adorns every area of this Mk1. “All of the smoothing was done in metal first. I wanted the bay to last, so having the least amount of body filler was essential,” Robin explained. “I blended all the seams and filled all the holes that didn’t fit. I still wanted to retain the look of a Mk1 bay, though, so finding the balance was quite difficult. I built a new wiper motor tower to replace the wimpy stock support and I also smoothed the firewall and eliminated a lot of the mass production stamping sections, too.” And that’s not even the half of it. All the mounting locations for the wings had metric hardware welded to the back of them to get rid of the factory screw fixings, the rear of the bumper rails have been boxed in for the wiring to go through, and the front apron and radiator support has been plated with steel to stiffen the front end up. The radiator itself has been sunk in to the support and notched for the cap, too. “I wanted an obsessive hot rod level of detail in the car,” justified Robin.
It wasn’t just the engine bay that received attention from Robin and his obsessive compulsive welding regime, the rear shock towers were seam welded, cleaned up and smoothed, too.
After all that work on getting the bay looking incredible, engine choice was critical. “It had to have eight valves – it was the purist in me. It just looks oh-so-right in the bay,” he explained. “I started out at a time when two-litres worth of engine was all you needed to have a very potent Mk1.” The 2.0-litre ABA engine was taken from a ’94 Jetta and before it was dropped in to the Mk1’s immaculate bay, it was given the full works. The bottom end was rebuilt and balanced, the combustion chambers rebuilt with back-cut intake valves, the head ported and polished and Techtonics Tuning lightweight lifters, titanium valve spring seats, dual valve springs, an adjustable camshaft sprocket and 276-degree cam all dropped in. A BBM fuel rail was hooked up along with -6 AN feed lines and balanced injectors, Autotech supplied the ignition leads and Robin fab’d up a custom intake with an integrated MAF mount, too. The gearbox saw a Peloquin limited-slip differential, a lightened flywheel and a Stage 3 ACT clutch slipped in. Motronic injection with everything changed over to CE2 to suit was hooked up, and the manifold is a hand-built four-in-to-one affair going out to a 2.5” hand-built exhaust. So far, so impressive and that’s before we mention the amount of chrome-dipped parts or the attention to detail with the paintwork. “I believe that the perfect amount of power for a street Mk1 is around the 180hp mark which, while I’ve not dyno’d it, I’d estimate it makes based on other builds I’ve seen. It makes great sounds and revs very easily with amazing throttle response. I kept the intake tube short for that reason. It surprises the hell out of anyone that has a ride in it,” Robin smiled.
It almost goes without saying that the underside of the car is perfectly finished, too. The control arms and rear beam were stiffened, seam welded and powdercoated. The tank was powdercoated with chrome tank strips and everything was polybushed. Even the brace underneath was hand-built and chromed! The brakes are 10” Wilwoods up front and Scirocco 16v discs with Mk4 calipers at the back, complete with a Mk3 brake booster modified to fit in the Mk1 pedal cluster and a Wilwood adjustable bias valve sits next to the handbrake on the inside. Getting the Mk1 sitting just perfectly is a set of KW Variant 1 coilovers and, boy, does it sit just right. “There was no way to package air-ride in the car without compromising several of the areas I was trying to simplify,” Robin explains. “I think slammed cars look great when parked up but I love the ‘ready to pounce’ look of a properly setup Mk1.”
Choosing what wheels to run was an easy choice for Robin: “When I started on VWs one of the first things I had was a Zender Catalogue from the mid-’80s. I built this car to emulate the feel of the Zender catalogue cars. The little German bruisers were so cool, and the wheels were very non-conformist for the time.”
Moving to the inside and, well, just look at it. Recaro CS buckets are the focal point up front thanks to the tartan trim and colour-coded stitching, Sabelt harnesses and perfectly formed brackets. “Because deleting the rear seats is such a visually dramatic part of the interior, I wanted a way to retain the essence of a Mk1 GTI,” he explained. “The rear has been boarded out and then trimmed in black vinyl with a GTIstyle inlay with Olive green stitching. I then taught myself how to make carbon fibre (like you do ~ All) and produced parts for the car, and then mixed those with chrome details inside.”
Even the pedal arms and CAE shifter assembly have been chromed and don’t get us started on the speaker pods in the kicks that Robin made or the high-end JL Audio Reference Series speakers, 12w6 subwoofer and 500w amplifier hidden away.
It goes without saying that the exterior is absolutely flawless. The Olive green metallic is glass smooth, the shaved side trim, aerial, hatch lock and badges are just right and the Audi 80 handles and Mattig Cup mirrors are a blast from the past in the right way. There are even parts you can’t see that have been totally refinished, such as the sunroof mechanism being chromed. “In the span of this build, I got married two years into it and have had a beautiful daughter for the past eight. Juggling my career on top of all that mean I’d say that having time to work on the car has been the most difficult part of the whole build,” Robin said. “That and creative execution, as I call it. I looked at some individual parts of this build for months before actually doing them.”
For someone who has built a car as good as this, Robin is pleasingly humble about the whole thing and, for that matter, about how people have reacted to it. “I showed it for the first time at Great Canadian VW Show in 2015; it was very humbling having people thank me for showing the car. I felt it was a honor and a relief to be able to share it with the people in the scene that I have always enjoyed,” Robin smiled. “I guess I have become used to the car, having had it around for so long, so seeing people react to it in a positive way reminded me of how special it is.”
Robin tells us the Mk1 is now back in the garage while he works on a few top secret changes, although he assures us nothing too drastic: “I’m taking the detail work and simplifying things further. Other than that, any other ideas I’ve had will be done on future builds as I love the car the way it is.”
Still, if the urge to do some major work gets too much for him to deal with he can always take it out on his track car: a 500bhp VRT Syncro. “It needs to go on a diet, get stiffened up and I want to fit Voorman flares, small bumpers and go hunting some of my Porsche customers on track days,” he smiled. “I think the it would be cool to see more motorsportinspired cars out there – stuff inspired by the late ’70s to the early ’90s IMSA and Le Mans stuff, too,” he continued.
Although Robin is clearly inspired by the past we can help but ask him where he sees the future of the scene going. “The future? It would be really cool to see hybrid technology bloom and become the engine and drivetrain swap of choice. I work on the 918 Spyder, and to drive that car with the V8 and both e-machines in action is mind-bending. E-machines integrated into a Mk1 chassis would be just about the pinnacle for me right now…” Well, if anyone can figure out how to do it we think Robin here might just be that man!
DUB TECHNICAL DATA DETAILS
ENGINE: 2.0-litre #ABA from a 1994 Jetta GL, bottom end rebuilt and balanced, ported and polished head, combustion chambers rebuilt with back-cut intake valves, .050” removed from head, Techtonics Tuning adjustable camshaft sprocket with 276-degree hydraulic camshaft, TT 276 OBD1 software, TT lightweight lifters with TT titanium valve spring seats, TT dual-valve springs, intake manifold smoothed and 2.0L badge welded and filled, intake manifold gasket matched, custom intake tube with integrated MAF mount, Autotech ignition leads, BBM Fuel rail with -6 AN feed lines, balanced injectors, custom side coolant inlet tube to allow for AN fittings for the heater core and for the Stack cluster, Autotech lightweight intermediate shaft sprocket, #ACN ’box five-speed with Peloquin 80% diff locker, 100mm CVs, lightened flywheel with Stage 3 ACT clutch kit, all motor mounts seam welded, powdercoated or chromed, hand-built 1 5/8 primary stainless 4-1 race header with 2.5” handbuilt stainless exhaust, heavy-duty exhaust hangers, chromed oil pan with factory windage tray, early Mk1 non-overflow radiator, Motronic injection with all electrics replaced with CE2, custom fuel hardlines chrome dipped with -6 AN ends, Bosch fuel pump, everything on the engine was either powdercoated, chromed or coated in some way.
CHASSIS: 7x15” #Zender Turbo wheels, ET20 4x100 with 5mm shaved from the mounting face and 165/45/15 #Formoza tyres, #KW Variant 1 coilovers, polybushed throughout, control arms and rear beam seam welded and powdercoated, all hardware chromed, high-strength or stainless steel, early Mk1 front upper strut mounts with custom caps and Autotech polybushings, MMP Wilwood 10” front caliper kit, MMP lines and adapters, #Scirocco 16V knuckles powdercoated and rebuilt, Scirocco 16v rear disc swap with Mk4 calipers, #GMP conversion lines and Hawk HPS pads, Powerslot discs front and rear, Mk3 brake booster modified to fit Mk1 pedal cluster, 22mm Mk3 master cylinder and reservoir Wilwood bias valve plumbed-in, custom lower stress bar chrome dipped with chrome hardware.
EXTERIOR: Full respray in Olive Green Metallic, Mattig Cup mirrors on custom bases, Audi 80 door handle swap, shaved side trim, antenna, rear hatch lock, and emblems, fluted 7” crosshair headlamps, early powdercoated Mk1 steel bumpers with smoked front markers, Mk1 Postal Golf tail lamps, clear rear glass, sunroof linkage chrome dipped with stainless hardware, all seals replaced with new OEM parts, smoothed bay.
INTERIOR: Recaro Sportster CS seats with colour matched with tartan inlays and Olive green stitching, wedge seat brackets, Sabelt four-point harnesses with matching tartan inlay, black vinyl with early GTI-style inlay with Olive green stitching in rear, carpet panels made from loop style carpet with Olive green stitching, CAE shifter with chromed brackets and base, black headliner, reshaped and smoothed rear strut towers, carbon sunroof crank trims and stereo enclosure, custom false floor with battery disconnect switch, battery mounted in rear with custom cover, new door panels with billet lock pulls and window cranks, Mk1 Cabriolet dash with custom knee bar, Stack race instrument cluster in custom carbon bezel, instrument cluster surround rebuilt and modified for CE2 Mk2 switches and to fit the stack cluster, late Mk2 wiper and turn signal stalks, custom carbon column surrounds and kick panel pods, JL Audio reference series 6” separates, 12w6 subwoofer and 500w amp, Alpine headunit, Momo Retro steering wheel, pedal arms chromed.
SHOUT: My beautiful, patient and loving wife Cindy. Her support and understanding for my obsessive hobbies goes beyond the norm. And also to my future team-mate in the garage, my daughter Mia: Lego today, Mk1s tomorrow! Special thanks to Chester and Jenkin for believing, and wanting me to be part of this amazing build. I’m honoured to know you two. More special thanks to all my family and friends who encourage and nurture obsessiveness with understanding. Thanks to Terry and the crew at As New Autobody and Glass for the body and paint. Shawn Lang at Momentum Motor Parts. Shawn Van Neer at VND Motorsport. My elementary school teachers. Tim at Velocity Upholstery for turning my vision on the interior into exactly what I wanted. Mk1 Autohaus for hooking me up hard to find bits. All the guys at RPI Equipped. Techtonics Tuning for supplying all of the top notch engine gear. Porsche Vancouver for the photoshoot location.
Seats, trim choice and the detail work is all perfectly-thought- out and well-executed. Robin’s goal was to build a complete car that was at the highest level inside and out and he can be proud of doing just that.
“I wanted an obsessive hot rod level of detail in the car”
‘The best water-cooled #VW / #VAG build out of Vancouver’ was the claim by photographer Andrew Holliday. And after seeing it for ourselves we have to say we don’t think he’s wrong…Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation#1972 #BMW #2002 Turbo orange crush. Here before you is a BMW fusion of looks and performance that is as close to perfection as you’re ever likely to find on God’s green earth. Take an old-school orange 2002, add a wide-arch kit, mix in a turbocharged engine and you’ve got yourself a classic showpiece M3-slayer for all to adore. 2002 Turbo - Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Max Earey.
Isn’t it funny how sometimes your words can come back to haunt you? Almost 10 years ago I was writing a feature on the very car you see before you. This charming 1972 2002 was in the magazine thanks to its subtle good looks and due to its Floridian owner, Curtis Engel, transplanting an 1989 BMW 325i E30 lump into its bright orange engine bay. Weighing about as much as an empty crisp packet and with 180bhp to play with, I commented that it was about as much fun as you could have with your pants on.
To finish the feature, remarking on Curtis’s desire to ultimately boost the car, I wrote: “The word ‘deathtrap’ springs to mind when I think of this little car turbocharged, but would I do it if I had the opportunity? Life’s too short not to.”
Curtis, much to my amusement, obviously thought the same. This is why I found myself some years later strapped into his 2002 once again, fingernails firmly embedded in the dashboard, as he plants his right foot to the floor and awakens the new, improved and markedly more powerful 2.5-litre six-cylinder. With turbocharged kick, of course.
180bhp doesn’t sound too much on paper these days, but in a little 2002 a while ago it was plenty. Well, that was then and this is now. 270hp at the crank is the current figure for this 1075kg road-legal go-kart, and that forced induction kick has turned this old classic into a confirmed M3 and M5-beater. On the quarter-mile track, Curtis ran a 13.71 against the 13.79 of an E46 M3, and a 13.45 against the 13.61 from an E39 M5. “The crowds laugh at me when I line up to race such cars,” the 23-year-old said, “but boy do they laugh when they see the outcome.”
Such respect from crowds spectating at the tracks is equalled by those who witness it on the street as Curtis’s daily driver. And this respect is wholly deserved. Bought for $1000 when he was just 15, the car has been a labour of love for the Orlando resident. From cleaning up the bodywork, sorting the suspension, improving braking and then doing a few subtle old-school styling mods, Curtis has focused his attentions and skills on really making this car shift.
A rebuilt #1989 #E30 #325iS M20 engine found its way into the engine bay, but not before cutting the nose of the car to help it fit, and finding new motor and transmission mounting locations. There were custom brackets and mounts, a VW Scirocco radiator, while a five-speed gearbox from a #1980 #E21 #323i came all the way from Australia. The work list was already substantial, but Curtis needed more.
“The turbo conversion definitely used up all of the free room still remaining in the engine bay,” Curtis said. “The turbo idea had always been there even before I did the M20 conversion. At the time though, I figured an M20 swap would be more reliable than turbocharging the stock M10 engine, but then with the M20 in, I realised I still needed more power. Always will…”
Even though it’s a very tight squeeze, it’s great to see a Garrett T04E turbo on full display in the engine bay. It’s shock enough lifting the bonnet to reveal an M20 engine in a 2002, but having the likes of a stonking ’charger in there as well can’t help but raise your testosterone levels.
The required accoutrements that go with boosting a car have been taken care of suitably, with a Forge Motorsport intercooler, Metric Blue head bolts, custom Xtreme Boost ceramic coated exhaust manifold, JSG Precision wastegate and Blitz blow-off valve. There are bigger injectors from a Ford Lightning, a Walbro 255 fuel pump, SPEC Stage 3+ clutch (good for 540 lb ft) and JB Racing flywheel, while the very tricky electronics are taken care of by a MegaSquirt standalone management system.
Technical stuff aside, the final dyno readings tell us all we need to know about the lethal-weapon status of Curtis’s now boosted ’02. Running just 8psi boost, the figures are 270hp at the crank and 280lb ft of torque at 6000rpm. As mentioned earlier, this car weighs just over a ton wet, so the power-to-weight ratio is enough to bring a smile to all admirers of Colin Chapman’s principles.
“Lag is definitely evident,” Curtis explained, “but it’s just to make races fair. Once boost is spooled up, get off the runway, there’s a 747-sounding 2002 coming for you!” So yes, it’s very quick, but is it a complete handful to drive? “Tyre spin is pretty ridiculous,” Curtis replied. “It will spin them to about 80mph if you want it to. Before the car used to rev very fast in idle if I wanted to free-rev it, now it won’t rev too quick because of the huge restrictor on the exhaust. But once you are at 3,000rpm, prepare to shift because 6,500 comes up fast.
” It appears this boosted 2002 just takes some getting used to, and it’s a good sign that Curtis can use the Inka orange beauty as a daily driver as well as a humbler of more exotic machinery. During our photoshoot, a friend of Curtis’s was on hand with his supercharged E46 M3 to join in the fun. Incredibly, Curtis’s ’02 as good as matched the ’charged M3 in both a rolling start race and a standing start one. As they flew off into the distance, at the very least, the blown M3 certainly could not pull away. Very impressive.
It’s never plain sailing with turbo cars of course, and Curtis is no stranger to breaking the odd component. In fact, as Curtis dropped us off after our photoshoot, he dumped the clutch in a farewell display of spinning wheels and tyre smoke. And a distinctive mechanical clunk. Yep, a lot of torque going through the diff resulted in its unfortunate demise. “I’ve done two diffs,” Curtis explained. “One ripped all the teeth off the pinion gear and one broke a spider gear in two clean places. The stuff dreams are made of!”
This is a fine quality in our Orlando-based modifier. Curtis is all about producing a car that is a perfect plaything and one that he’s not scared about using properly. If something breaks, he’ll replace it with a stronger part to ultimately improve the driver enjoyment of the ’02. It’s no strict show and shine car – the body and interior do have their battle scars – but we’re happy Curtis spends less time with the sponge and car wax bottle and more time fixing problems caused by a heavy right foot. It’s much more rewarding that way.
Okay, so the body isn’t immaculate up close, but the sheer style and colour of this old classic is too damn sexy not to love. Since we last photographed the car, a front air dam and set of 2002 Turbo flares have been attached to the body, transforming the look to pure racer. These arches are stuffed (helped by a custom Ground Control, Eibach and Bilstein suspension setup) with 8x15” Zender Sport Wheels possessing the perfect size lip for an old-school race style. “Nothing like a 225 tyre on a tiny car like this,” Curtis commented. Too right.
The interior features the expected racestyle upgrades of bucket seats, harnesses, Momo steering wheel and roll-cage – plus some rather tasty gauges to keep an eye on what that boosted engine is up to. Even with these aftermarket upgrades, the inside retains its early ’70s look and feel, with Inka orange surrounding the classic black and white original dials, and that unique impression that the doors and roof will offer as much impact protection as a Chinese takeaway tinfoil box should anything hit you. But this just adds to that greater connection with the road and increased respect for this car.
Above all else, Curtis’s ’02 is a thing of stylistic beauty that just happens to have a wonderful, more modern and sensibly boosted six-cylinder engine. The lack of any modern weighty additions such as airbags, impact protection bars, air conditioning, electric seats et al means it can’t help but be a little bat out of hell. The flamboyant Inka orange merely adds to its appeal, so you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who fails to love or respect this adorable M3-beater. Long live the old-school.
A beautiful-looking car at speed, the Inka orange 2002 boasts 270hp at the wheels.
It’s a shock to see an M20 engine in a 2002, but having a stonking ’charger too can’t help but raise your testosterone levels.
It’s a tight squeeze, but a #Garrett TO4E turbo is now strapped to the 2.5-litre engine.
ENGINE: 1989 M20 2.5-litre six-cylinder with porting and minor polishing work, 1980 E21 323i fivespeed transmission, Metric Blue head bolts, Garrett 57mm T04E turbocharger, .68 A/R inlet, .68 A/R hotside, custom ceramic coated 1.75” tubular Xtreme Boost exhaust manifold, JSG precision wastegate dumped to atmosphere, SPEC Stage 3+ clutch, 8lb JB Racing flywheel, VW Scirocco radiator, Blitz blow off valve, 3” downpipe, Forge Motorsport intercooler, MegaSquirt standalone fuel management, Ford Racing 42lb Ford Lightning injectors, Walbro 255 fuel pump, Autometer oil pressure and boost pressure gauges, PLX wide band oxygen sensor. 3.64 40% lockup LSD
PERFORMANCE: 270hp at the crank, 280 lb ft of torque at 6,000rpm running 8lbs boost. 1/4-mile time of 13.45@107mph. 1075kg wet weight.
CHASSIS: 8x15” 0 ET #Zender Sport Wheel shod in 205/50 (front) and 225/50 (rear) Kumho tyres. Ground Control coilovers with 450lb springs, #Eibach Pro Kit rear springs, Bilstein shocks all round, Suspension Techniques anti roll bars, urethane bushes all round. E21 320i vented brake discs with Volvo calipers.
EXTERIOR: Factory 2002 wide-body flares and front air dam, BMW original 1972 Inka orange paint.
INTERIOR: Dynamic Auto Design race seats, Schroth harness for driver, Momo Prototipo steering wheel, NRG Quick Release steering adapter, all sound deadening removed to reduce weight, rear seat removed and carpeted over, Kirk four-point roll-cage, battery relocated to boot. Autometer oil pressure and boost pressure gauges, PLX wide band oxygen sensor.
THANKS: Frank at Xtreme Boost for a ridiculously awesome tubular turbo manifold, SPEC Clutches for a gorgeous looking clutch, Matt McGinn for a great diff and always Josh at The Bimmer Place in Orlando for helping me fix what my heavy right foot broke.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who fails to love this adorable car.
Old-skool interior, with a few sporty upgrades.
Momo Prototipo steering wheel.
Old car, new technology: an iPod kit.
The boost gauge keeps tabs on all that turbo fun.
MegaSquirt Standalone fuel management ideal for turbo cars.
Original 2002 Turbo flares give Curtis’s classic the tougher race-look.
The perfect final touch for any classy BMW.
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- Post is under moderationDesert Strike. With 400whp courtesy of a turbocharged M20, this stunning, home-built E30 is a real weapon. Words: Seb de Latour. Photos: Gil Folk y first car was a 1.0-litre #Citroen Saxo.
It was Admiral blue and the only thing I did to it was fit an air freshener and, as it was the days before technology existed, one of those tape deck adapters that let you plug your Discman into the stereo. What’s a Discman? Ask your parents. Kameron Baker’s first car was this #1989 #E30 #325i and over the ensuing eight years he’s built it up into something rather spectacular. It was thanks to his father that Kameron came to own this #BMW-E30 , as he explains: “My dad worked at a car lot at the time and someone traded the E30 in.
He brought it home one day and I fell in love with it. Being only $800 it was prefect for a high schooler. It was actually in very good condition. The interior was mint and apart from a small spot of peeling clear coat the paint was great. Also it had less than 100,000 miles on it.” As well as being a bit of a bargain and a pretty sweet first car, it opened Kameron’s eyes to the world of classic BMWs: “This little E30 is what got me into older BMWs.
Before this I had never been in or even thought of owning one but as soon as I drove it I knew it was something special. The way it handled and the smoothness of the 2.5-litre in-line six got me hooked.” And so another #BMW fan was born. So, you’re 16, you’ve got a bright red BMW and there’s a 2.5-litre straight-six under the bonnet – there’s clearly only one way this story was ever going to go. “This was the first car I ever modified,” says Kameron. “I owned it for less than a month before I started changing and modifying things on it, sometimes things I regretted later but to be fair, I was only 16 at the time. I just kept it clean for a few weeks and then started modifying.
My first modifications were a cold air intake and cat-back exhaust. Basically the two easiest things you can do to make a car sound better and drive better.” But, of course, we all know that you can never stop with just a couple of mods and Kameron was about to get seriously stuck into his E30 project: “When I first got the car my dad and I always talked about how we wanted to get it down to a five-second 0-60 time. In the ’80s the car’s 170hp M20 ran a 0-60 in seven seconds. My car was also an automatic so achieving that time took a lot of work. The best I got it down to as a naturally aspirated auto M20 was 6.8 seconds; that was with weight reduction, a MAF conversion, long tube headers, and a 4.27 Torsen differential out of a #BMW-Z3 . Back then I would have been happy with 200hp.
“Before this project I had no real-world experience with modifying cars. Before I turbo’d the E30 I got a 2004 Subaru WRX and that really opened my mind to what a proper turbo setup can do to a car.
I saw 21 that the car had lots of potential and at the time I’d always be looking up E30 videos on the internet watching the crazy Euro/Swedish/Norwegian E30s that can smoke the tyres at 60mph; it was just something that I wanted to do. I wanted a crazy E30, something that never gets boring and is always an adrenaline rush to drive. It was only after getting out of high school that I could afford to turbo the car. It originally started as a budget build but I just kept on improving the setup and eventually ended up with a 400whp turbo M20 that I could drive everyday without issue. “The car was 100% built by me in a little garage that doesn’t even have a door on it. When you start out that young you can hardly afford the parts so there is no way you can pay someone to install the parts as well.
I just had to give it a try. My dad helped me until I got the hang of things and I never stopped.” So in a short space of time Kameron went from an intake and exhaust to a 400whp selfbuilt turbo setup; that’s about 470hp at the crank and in a car weighing around 1300kg, that gives this E30 a power-to-weight ratio similar to that of an Audi R8 GT V10, a 5.7-litre V12 Lamborghini Diablo or a Ferrari 599. That means it’s fast with a capital F. “I did all modifications to the engine as well. The first timing belt/head swap I did took around ten hours; I have it down to around five hours now. For the M20 I kept it simple. It ran a Bimmerheads cylinder head with dual pattern turbo cam and HD rocker arms.
The bottom end was left 100% original and I ran ARP head studs with a Goetze head gasket. I had the turbo build done in around a month or two. It worked so much better than I expected, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I’d never been in a sixcylinder car before so the first time I went WOT with the Holset turbocharger it blew my mind. I was only at 7psi and I couldn’t believe how much faster the car was. At this point the car was still an automatic. This was its weak link and so the auto ’box had to go, although it was very still fast with an auto. The Getrag 260 manual swap followed shortly.” Along with the manual ’box, Kameron added a Stage 3 Spec clutch and a 13lb flywheel. At the rear sits a 3.73 ratio LSD with #Porsche 2.1mm discs. It certainly does the job, as can be seen in Kameron’s YouTube videos (search for Kameron Baker). So, this E30 delivers on the performance front, and then some, but it also looks damn delicious. A red two-door is a great base to start from and Kameron has really put a lot of effort into the styling and made a really unique-looking car that stands out from the crowd and blends OE subtlety with a wild streak perfectly.
“OEM+ was the goal,” he says, “although I may have lost that look since I had to hack up the body to fit my flares and wide tyres. I just really like the old-skool BMWs and Alpina cars, so going with an authentic Alpina kit was always the goal. Plus my flares are similar to what you’d see on a 2002 turbo so I feel it still has a nice ’80s look to it.” And those wild flares are filled with something that isn’t a crossspoke split-rim, for a change. “I’ve always liked the sportier-looking wheels as opposed to the deep-dish wheels. This means I’ve run wheels including TRM C1s, OZ Superleggeras and now the STR 518s. I change wheels every time I burn through a set of tyres and I’ve gone through three sets in the last year, so goodness knows what wheels I’ll have next. You can always make back a good amount of money selling your old wheels off so I like to try different looks out.” True enough and variety is the spice of life after all, so why not have some fun? The 9x17” 518s look seriously tough in black and tie-in perfectly with the whole black and red colour scheme on the car. Kameron’s also achieved pretty much the perfect stance thanks to a set of Ground Control coilovers, which help the tyres tuckin nicely under the pumped-up arches. The arches are actually Kameron’s own design and are available from his Kamotors store.
As a result the car just sits so right and looks mean. Despite being modern rims, the motorsport-style of the wheels fits perfectly with the ethos of the whole car and suit the E30 shape. We love the styling of the car as a whole – the black and red colour scheme is really bold and striking and those front and rear Alpina spoilers add an extra splash of aggression, especially with the addition of that custom front splitter. The side skirts come courtesy of #Zender and there are loads of little details that are easy to miss but make all the difference, such as the rear plate filler, Euro grilles, the #Alpina -inspired M20 Turbo front grille badge and the carbon fibre foglight blanks, also from Kamotors. We also love what Kameron’s done on the inside.
At first glance it looks completely stock, bar the addition of boost and wideband gauges, but take a glance in the back and you’ll notice that it’s been completely stripped out, shedding some weight in the process but without making things uncomfortable for the two people up front. You might think that Kameron’s E30 has reached its zenith but an unfortunate incident gave him the perfect excuse for a bit of an upgrade. “Since this photoshoot I actually ended up swapping out the #M20 for an #M30B35 running a Precision 6266 turbocharger. I actually overheated the M20 whilst having a bit too much fun at around 25psi and the block cracked, allowing coolant to slowly leak up a head stud hole and pollute my oil. I still drove over 1000 miles to Bimmerfest but after that the engine was pulled and replaced with the much torquier #M30 .”
Every cloud and all that… So, with a new engine and even more performance you’d think that maybe Kameron was done but that’s a case of easier said than done. “I’m not sure what to move onto now,” he says. “I’ve had the E30 for around eight years so it’s hard to stop. I’m thinking of something like a Volvo 240 with a large turbo. Basically I want a collection of brick-shaped cars from the ’80s.” That would be very cool indeed… People have been strapping turbos to E30s for donkey’s years but Kameron’s car really has that special something that makes it stand out. The styling is pretty unique and we love the little personal flourishes and the attention to detail. It’s a real enthusiast’s build and a real performance BMW.
ENGINE: 2.5-litre straight-six M20B25 with original bottom end, Bimmerheads cylinder head, dual pattern turbo cam, HD rockers, Kamotors turbo setup with TD06SL2-20g turbo, 3” charge pipe, 3” exhaust, methanol injection, PNP Megasquirt ECU with wasted spark, 400whp @ 19psi.
TRANSMISSION: Getrag 260 with Spec Stage 3 clutch and 13lb flywheel, 3.73 LSD with Porsche 2.1mm discs.
CHASSIS: 9x17” (front & rear) STR 518 alloys with 245/40 tyres, Ground Control coilovers, 22mm front anti-roll bar, Eibach 16mm rear anti-roll bar, #AKG adjustable lollipop brackets, UUC camber plates, polybushes all-round, UUC BBK with fourpiston calipers and two-piece 298mm drilled discs.
EXTERIOR: Authentic Alpina front and rear spoiler with a custom front splitter, Zender side skirts, Kamotors standard width arch flares, smoked smiley headlights, smoked tail-lights, rear plate filler, Euro grilles, Kamotors carbon fibre foglight delete.
INTERIOR: Original seats and steering wheel, boost gauge and wideband gauge, rear stripped out.
THANKS: I need to thank my friends who helped me do things like transmission swaps with nothing more than jack stands and a cheap set of sockets and those of you on the forums who helped me with the build and bought parts from me to help fund the build.
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