- HERE COMES THE ‘BOOM
No stranger to seriously modified BMWs, photographer Kevin Raekelboom’s latest creation may be his wildest yet. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Kevin Raekelboom.
If you like your E30s to be jaw-droppingly spectacular, you’re going to enjoy this one . Not only is Belgium resident Kevin Raekelboom a talented photographer with one of the best names in the business, he also has a talent for building utterly spectacular project cars. His last effort was a bagged E21 that we featured back in June ’13 and over the past year and a bit he’s been at it again, building the #BMW E30 you see before you here. Kevve’s approach when it comes to builds is most definitely of the ‘allout’ variety and it’s certainly working for him.
His BMW E21 had been a mix of classic exterior elegance contrasting with an adventurous carbon and Kevlar interior mix, which created a striking juxtaposition. For his next project, Kevve decided to push the boat out just that little bit further… Step one was choosing a car. Here he decided to keep it 3 Series; it had served him well before, after all, and he had the perfect project car starting point in the family: an unassuming #1983 six-cylinder 320i manual that surely had no idea what was about to happen to it. “I bought it from my brother who didn’t have the time for it,” explains Kevve. “He bought it two years ago to restore it but then he bought a house and did a lot of construction on it and had no more time for the car. It was in pretty good condition but needed some attention.”
The engine here has been left completely stock, as this is very much a visual exercise, though Kevve has had a straight-through custom exhaust made, which handily meant that there was no need to worry about any sort of audio upgrades: “There’s no need for music with an engine sound like this!” So, with all efforts and energy channelled into the aesthetics, it’s no surprise that the finished article is so utterly spectacular. Having bagged his previous build, Kevve knew that his next project would also be on air-ride but with an E30 that’s no simple task. “There was nothing standard available for the car off-the-shelf at the time,” he explains, “so I had to go with a custom air suspension setup. Thanks must go to Kean Suspensions for helping and supplying the parts for this. I don’t know how much lower it is than standard but it touches the floor with the engine, front lip and exhaust line, so can’t go any lower.”
There are numerous exterior modifications, some obvious, others less so. For example, the inner wheel arches have been widened both front and back and you may or may not notice that the passenger-side mirror has been removed. The front-end is a very clever mix or elements – Kevve has opted for a facelifted front but matched to a pre-facelift bumper onto which he’s grafted a DTM front lip – giving the car a face that spans two incarnations of the E30 and then spears off on a motorsport tilt, further reinforced by the addition of the Speedhunters towing strap.
The finishing touch is the set of four original OE #Hella yellow headlights which not only add a flash of retro charm but also offer a fantastic contrast to the all-grey exterior. Ah yes, that paint. For such a special project a special hue was needed and after a bit of searching, the decision was made to go for Lamborghini Grigio Telesto (the same as the E46 M3 on p8). “I saw it on a Lamborghini Gallardo in Las Vegas and fell in love,” says Kevve. This is an awesome shade of solid grey with incredible impact yet it’s surprisingly rich and light enough to allow the light to pick up on the details in the bodywork. It looks fantastic on the classic E30 shape and really makes it stand out.
Of course, choose the wrong wheels and nothing else will matter, regardless of how much effort you’ve put into making your car look amazing, so making the right choice was incredibly important for this project. There was never any doubt in our minds that Kevve would do anything other than blow us all away with his wheel selection and he’s done exactly that with these utterly gorgeous #VIP-Modular-VXS210 s. “I’ve always loved these VIP Modular wheels,” says Kevve, “and I wanted something else other than the BBS RS wheels. Don’t get me wrong, I had them on the BMW E21 but I wanted to step up the game and try something different.”
When it comes to wheel selection on E30s, size matters; but it’s a case of going too big that can often be the problem, so these VIPs measure a modest 17” across and a very reasonable 8”-wide up front and 9” at the rear. Their finish is utterly mesmerising – a gloss copper that looks incredible in the sunlight, rich and warm.
Matching centre caps and the step lips help to further catch the light and add an extra visual dimension to the wheels. Going for a single colour across the entire wheel is a brave, bold move that can look incredible with the right colour and it’s definitely working here. As a final subtle touch, the bolts are finished in gold, adding a little something extra that only the most eagleeyed observer will be able to spot. The contrast against the expanse of grey bodywork is incredible and the overall effect is stunning.
So, the outside delivers a big visual hit thanks to some amazing details in an otherwise clean and simple style but the interior certainly holds its own. It’s actually difficult to know where to start here, there’s so much work that has gone into transforming the cabin. The carpets are gone, there’s not a single strand of fibre left across the entire interior, and everything that would have once been carpeted has now been painted matt black. The rear seats have been removed and in their place sits a Wiechers roll-cage, while the front seats have been replaced with a pair of the most alien sport seats out there – all-metal Kirkeys, which look utterly mental. They also look incredibly uncomfortable but are actually meant to be pretty gentle on your butt; Kevve drove this car over to the UK from Belgium for the Players Classic show, so that tells you a lot. The deep-dish sport steering wheel is the perfect partner for the no-frills, no-nonsense seats but the vast expanse of caramel leather offers a delicious luxury contrast. The entire dashboard, doorcards and mid-tunnel are lovingly coated in the buttery soft and beautiful leather. It’s quite literally like the fondant topping on an already amazing cake and gives the incredible interior one more layer, one more tasty treat to enjoy.
Kevve’s E30 is an astonishing machine built to an incredible standard but, based on his tenure with the E21, we had the feeling that the E30 wasn’t going to be hanging around long for him to enjoy… and that’s exactly what happened. Despite the vast amount of time, effort and, of course, money Kevve’s spent on this car, after just a mere few months of pleasure with it, he’s now sold it to an enthusiast right here in the UK. Fortunately, Kevve’s pretty pragmatic about the whole situation: “I only drove the E30 once a month and I really needed space in my garage so it had to go.
“I don’t know what’s next. I’m focussing on my business at the moment but I’ll probably build something for Wörthersee.” Whatever that ends up being, you can guarantee it’s going to be awesome. We can’t wait…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-320i
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 2.0-litre straight-six #M20B20 / #M20 , custom straight-through exhaust, five-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS 8x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) #VIP-Modular VXS210 copper coloured wheels with gold bolts with 185/30 (front) and 195/40 (rear) Nankang NS20 tyres, custom air suspension built from scratch with #AccuAir management, Viair compressors, refurbished brakes throughout.
EXTERIOR Custom respray in Lamborghini Grigio Telesto, widened inner wheel arches (front and back), new face-lift front with pre-face-lift bumper, #DTM front lip, all towing hooks removed, Speedhunters towing strap, windscreen wipers removed, original OEM Hella yellow headlights, deleted right hand mirror.
INTERIOR Carpets removed, floor surfaces painted matt black, rear seats removed, Wiechers roll-cage, Kirkey racing seats, leather-trimmed dashboard, doorcards and mid-tunnel, built-in air gauges, deep-dish sport steering wheel.
THANKS A massive thanks must go to my brother who helped me with loads of things on the car, even during the long nights working hard to get it ready, my girlfriend for the many, many hours together in the garage working on the car and helping me find parts on the internet, my sister for picking up parts for me everywhere, my brother-in-law for helping me with building the seat rails, John for painting the car, Kean Suspensions for supplying the air suspension parts, Christophe from Sexy Wheels for getting the VIP Modular Wheels.
This E30 is about as low as you can go and looks absolutely incredible aired out.
“I wanted to step up the game and try something different”
Dashboard, doors and transmission tunnel have been covered in beautiful caramel-coloured leather.
Interior has been stripped of all audio, carpets and rear seats, with cage and Kirkey seats added.
“It touches the floor with the engine, front lip and exhaust line, so can’t go any lower”