- PASSION WAGON #BMW-M3
Griot’s Motors unleashes its V8-powered, two-door, #BMW-M3-bodied E30 #BMW-M3-Touring . Two-door, M3-bodied, #V8-powered E30 Touring.
Astonishing in its vision, astounding in its execution, just plain awesome by its very existence, the Griot’s Motors two-door, #V8-swapped , #M3-bodied E30 #BMW-M3-Touring-E30 is quite unlike anything we’ve ever seen… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Kevin Uy.
What’s amazing about the modified BMW scene is that, just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone comes along and produces something the likes of which you’ve never seen before. It’s no mean feat, and you’re looking at one such creation right now. It is a two-door, #M3-bodied-E30-Touring powered by a 4.0-litre M60 V8. This creation is the brainchild of the Griot’s (pronounced Gree-oh’s) Motors team, itself the skunkworks division of Griot’s Garage – a car care manufacturing company based over in Tacoma, Washington, USA. If you’ve never heard of Tacoma, look up Galloping Gertie, an infamous bridge that collapsed in 1940 due to strong winds. And if you’ve never heard the term skunkworks before, it’s basically a name given to an experimental department of a company.
Griot’s Motors was started by Richard and Phillip Griot. “The garage buys, sells, restores and modifies a wide variety of classic cars,” says Nick Griot. “Our main restoration shop is actually part of the Griot’s Garage headquarters.” Skunkworks it may be but Griot’s Motors is an impressive operation in itself, with around 70 cars currently held in the company’s collection, which is constantly changing as cars are completed, sold on and new ones purchased. BMWs naturally make up a portion of this collection, with a number of modern and classic examples along with a couple of motorbikes. “BMWs have always been of interest to us as they represent a perfect blend of design and function which carries through to the people who buy them,” explains Nick.
“BMW owners are passionate about racing, preserving, modifying and maintaining their cars – which is pretty much us in a nutshell. Griot’s Garage is also the exclusive Car Care Provider for the BMW Car Club of America so we are actively invested in the BMW community and do a lot with the club every year.”
That’s all well and good but it doesn’t explain how this insane E30 Touring came about. “At Griot’s Motors we basically focus on modernising cars without losing any of their vintage attributes,” explains Nick. “And we are constantly looking for unique, hard-to- find cars. This was a car we wanted to own just because we finally could. E30 Tourings were never imported to the States and, generally, a car must be over 25-yearsold to be able to be imported and registered. We found this car for sale in Florida and it had made its way there from Germany via Japan. It was in good original condition, and very complete, so we bought it thinking it would remain relatively stock and would be enjoyed as it was. However, once we got the car and saw the wear and tear and significant paint degradation we knew it was in need of restoration, which is where we went a little mad and cooked up a crazy vision for the car – one that had never been done before.”
The blame for everything that you see here can really be placed on Richard’s shoulders, as Nick explains: “After sitting in the car he stated that visibility was not up to his standards and he wondered aloud about the potential of longer doors from an E30 Coupé to improve visibility. That started the discussion of the two-door conversion, which led us all the way to M3 body work, an engine swap, and custom fabrication.”
The bodywork didn’t come first, though, that honour goes to the engine, but it’s too big a deal for us not to get excited about it. The sheer amount of extensive custom fab work that’s gone into making the dream a reality is mind-boggling. With the seed sown, the Griot’s Motors team started exploring the idea of the two-door conversion and, after taking some measurements from their pair of E30 M3s, they realised that the M3 bodywork would work very well. With what might seem like an insane idea now looking eminently achievable the car was delivered to J-Rod & Custom who began the Herculean task of turning four doors into two and making it all look like a factory job.
The B-pillar had to be moved back nine inches in order to be able to accept the longer doors. A completely custom frame had to be built into the space vacated by the rear doors. And new inner wheel wells were created to accommodate the wider M3 rear arches (the quarter panels having been sourced from Germany). The rear light housings had to be modified to fit the standard light clusters, new window trim was also created and the glass from the rear saloon doors was used between the B- and C-pillar. The front arches fitted straight on and all the remaining body parts are OE #BMW items with bumpers and side skirts acquired from local BMW enthusiasts. The finishing touch involved six coats of PPG Deltron Griot’s Red. The end result is nothing short of spectacular. Nick says the goal was to create a car that looked like a factory product, and that’s been achieved and then some. The bodywork is perfect, the paint finish flawless, and the combination of Touring body, two-door configuration, and M3 arches is breathtaking. No doubt there are plenty of Touring enthusiasts out there choking with rage right now but you’d have to be a fool to look at this E30 and think it doesn’t look anything less than perfect.
As we briefly touched upon earlier, the engine was actually the first step in the build process and, when it came to the V8 swap, the Griot’s team worked to the same exacting, obsessive standards to ensure that, bonnet up, the engine bay would leave onlookers as floored as the rest of the car. Before all this madness began there was a 2.5-litre M20 under the bonnet but that simply wouldn’t do for a car of this calibre, which is why an engine swap was a necessity. The engine in question is from a #1995 E34 540i, purchased in its entirety to provide the E30 Touring with not only that lusty 4.0-litre #V8 but also a six-speed manual gearbox and engine wiring harness, making for an easy engine exchange, with the V8 sitting on custom mounts along with a fabricated transmission saddle and tunnel reinforcement to support it. But the engine swap itself isn’t the only impressive part, it’s the work that’s gone on around it, the attention to detail, that impresses the most. Prior to the insertion of the V8, the engine bay was shaved and smoothed to remove any and all holes and brackets. “The plan,” says Nick, “was to have an extremely simple engine bay that showed off the most beautiful aspects of the engine without the clutter of wiring and engine accessories.”
The brake booster, he says, was removed and has been replaced with a full pedal assembly inside the car and then reservoirs were fabricated in-house for coolant, brake/clutch, and power steering fluids.
These were then machined with threads that corresponded with the factory reservoir caps, giving the custom parts a factory appearance. As a result of this painstaking attention to detail the engine bay is nothing short of a work of art. It’s clean enough to eat your dinner off and it ensures that all eyes are immediately drawn to that V8, itself embellished with red painted rocker covers and a classic BMW roundel on the engine cover. A custom cold air feed, utilising a large velocity stack located in the passenger side high beam hole and an in-line filter, supplies the big V8 with all the air it can ingest. Elsewhere the Griot’s team has fitted V8 X5 exhaust manifolds with a custom T304 stainless steel exhaust system, while a custom driveshaft and 2.93 LSD-equipped rear end have also been fitted.
Killer one-off styling and a sweet engine swap are all well and good but it’s only a job half done where a major project like this is concerned. Now came the turn of the chassis to be comprehensively overhauled. Step one involved removing the front and rear subframes and completely refreshing them, with both being reinforced in key areas before being powdercoated satin black. The E30 received polybushes throughout and camber adjustment was added to the rear trailing arms. “The front strut assemblies were sent to Ground Control and the guys there worked their magic, shortening and reinforcing the strut housings so we could get the car as low as we wanted,” explains Nick. “They also provided us with the Koni shocks, front camber plates, spring perches, and new springs that would accommodate the increase in weight from the V8.”
With the Ground Control coilover setup endowing the E30 with pretty much the perfect ride height, all that was needed now was the perfect set of wheels to adequately fill those swollen arches. You’ve no doubt been staring at the pictures for a while now so you’ve probably identified what the Griot’s Motors team decided to fit: HREs. Is it wrong to get excited about HREs? Like, really, really excited? They just look so good here. Choosing a flat-faced wheel rather than the default dished design is a bit of a ‘woah’ moment but, despite being a thoroughly modern wheel, the classic crossspoke design brings to mind the BBSs that the E30 M3 originally wore so well. And that’s exactly why these 501Ms were selected for this build. They allowed the Griot’s team to keep that factory look while giving them the modern size and width options they wanted for an aggressive stance. And while deciding on the final colour took some time, the brushed gold that was chosen is not only gorgeous but a perfect match for that bright red body.
Right now, you’re probably reeling because, let’s be honest, there’s a hell of a lot to take in here, but Griot’s isn’t finished with you just yet because now we come to the interior. And, well, it’s a bit special. Up front, the M3 theme has been carried over from the outside with reproduction tricolour M Tech cloth applied to the doorcards and front seats, a retrimmed M Tech I steering wheel with tricolour stitching, and an M gear knob.
In the back, however, well that’s where everything goes crazy. The rear passenger and luggage area has been transformed into a mobile product display and valeting station: this is a car that can wash itself.
Well, not literally, but you know what we mean. The rear seats have been replaced with a custom aluminium water tank and hose while the entire boot has been fitted with a custom enclosure that allows the entire range of Griot’s Garage detailing products and polishers to be displayed. The whole affair has been beautifully finished and looks magnificent. It’s a very different boot build to the ones we’re used to seeing but no less impressive.
The Griot’s Motors E30 Touring is the vehicular embodiment of what Griot’s Garage and its skunkworks outfit stand for. It’s an incredible creation, one that’s come about from the vision and imagination of a small group of guys and one that could only have been created by people with nothing less than absolute passion for cars and for modifying them – because what kind of person decides to build a two-door Touring?
So much care and attention has been poured into not just making sure that the end result looks absolutely perfect, which it does, but also making sure that everything has been built to the highest possible standard and finished to absolute perfection. The goal was to make a car that looked like it could have rolled out of BMW’s own factory, and this car is that and so much more. And beyond showcasing what Griot’s Motors is capable of creating, the on-board valeting station showcases what Griot’s Garage is all about. This really might be the cleanest car we’ve ever shot. Best of all, this Touring isn’t about to be tucked away or sold, it’s going to be hitting the 2017 shows across the USA. And after that it’s going into rotation for regular driving whenever anyone wants to because, after all, that’s what it was built for. And that makes us very happy indeed.
“We went a little mad and cooked up a crazy vision for the car – one that had never been done before”
DATA FILE #Griotʼs-Motors two-door #BMW-E30 / #BMW-V8 / #BMW-Touring / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E30 / #BMW / #Griot's-Garage / #BMW-E30-Griotʼs-Motors / #BMW-Touring-2-door / #BMW-E30-M60 / #BMW-E30-V8 / #Getrag / #HRE /
FILE ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #BMW-E30-M60B40 / #M60B40 / #BMW-M60 / #M60 , custom engine mounts, rocker covers painted red, engine bay shaved and smoothed, custom coolant and power steering reservoirs, tucked wiring harness, custom cold air feed from full beam headlight hole, X5 exhaust manifolds, custom #T304 stainless steel dual 2.5” exhaust, #Getrag six-speed manual gearbox, fabricated transmission saddle, tunnel reinforcement, custom propshaft, 2.93 LSD rear end
CHASSIS 8x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) #HRE-501M wheels in brushed gold with 215/40 (front) and 235/40 (rear) Falken Azenis RT615K tyres, reinforced subframes, fully polybushed, rear trailing arm camber adjustment, shortened and reinforced front strut housings, fully-adjustable #Ground-Control coilovers with adjustable #Koni struts, camber plates
EXTERIOR Full OEM steel E30 M3 body panels including front and rear quarter panels, E30 coupé doors, side skirts, M3 bumpers (front and rear), full respray in #PPG-Deltron Griot’s Red
INTERIOR Seats and door panels retrimmed in reproduction M Tech cloth, retrimmed M Tech I steering wheel, six-speed M gear lever, new OE carpet, rear seats removed, custom aluminium water tank and hose, water jet-cut product display area in boot
THANKS Thank you to our sponsors, HRE Wheels, Brembo Brakes and Ground Control Systems. Thank you to J-Rod & Custom, McFarland Upholstery, Kassel Performance, Falken Tire and the hard work of Forrest Davis and Tim Willard of Griot’s Motors – without them, this project would have never been completed
“The plan was to have an engine bay that showed off the most beautiful aspects of the engine”
Shaved and smoothed bay ensures that all eyes are on that V8 when the bonnet’s up.