- DREAM MACHINE / GOING TO EXTREMES / #BMW-E21-Dreamworks-Car-Tuning / #BMW
Stripped, caged and 2.7-swapped E21 will blow your mind! One of the most amazing E21s we’ve ever come across. Utterly spectacular from top to toe, this Dutch E21 really is something a bit special. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Ron Veth.
There are still cars that can stop us in their tracks, and this E21 is definitely one of them. In terms of visual spectacle, you’d be hard pressed to beat it on any level.
The amount of work that has gone into this car is truly mind-blowing. Based on this, and some of the other Dutch cars we’ve had the pleasure of featuring recently, there’s clearly something in the water in Holland…
It belongs to Marc Joosten, owner of #Dreamworks-Car-Tuning – a real one-stop shop for all your modifying needs.
Dreamworks is able to tackle everything from suspension and exhaust work to bodywork and paint, and this E21 is a mighty fine testament to what Marc and his team can achieve.
“I was inspired by different tuning shops like Foose, Gas Monkey Garage, Kindig-It Customs and so on,” Marc tells us. “And I also wanted to put the ideas that I have in my head down on a car, making it one-of-a-kind because most of the details on our cars are hand-made. My idea of a great modified car is of the ‘less is more’ approach, making it clean and giving it a bigger, bolder look without ruining the lines that make the car popular in the first place.” This is something that Marc has definitely achieved with this E21 because behind the classic DTM-inspired BMW M Warsteiner paintwork this remains unmistakably an E21.
It wasn’t always all about BMWs for Marc, though. “My first car was a Honda Prelude; don’t hate me for it!” he exclaims with a laugh. “It was a nice-handling car. I had a lot of fun with it. After the Honda I fell in love with BMWs because of their aggressive looks, their great engines and their reputation for being so sporty to drive. My first BMW was an E30; I always wanted to have one as, owning a car customising shop, I’ve built a lot of them over the past ten years. I found this E21 on the internet. It was ready for the scrapyard. It was literally falling apart. The bodywork was rotten and it had also failed the Dutch equivalent of the MoT inspection.” You’d be hard pressed to tell any of that now, though, as Marc treated the E21 to a full restoration before completely transforming it.
“I already had in mind the styling I wanted for the E21,” he explains, “although I also went on the internet and looked up some new cool ideas from other car enthusiasts which I then added to the car. Of course, there were several problems along the way but that’s the challenge of building cars. In life you sometimes have to crawl through the mud to get to higher ground and it’s no different with building cars.”
Funnily enough it was actually the work that Marc and his crew did on the engine bays of his other cars that inspired him to take a similar route with the styling of the E21. “When it comes to cool looks I always go for a clean engine bay,” Marc says. “It’s always a lot of work to do but it’s worth it.”
The engine bay here has been tucked and shaved to within an inch of its life and looks insanely clean. Anything that hasn’t been removed has been perfectly integrated and Marc’s attention-to-detail is insane. The brake master cylinder has now been colourcoded in white, as have all the hoses, the radiator top tank, and even the blades on the cooling fan. And then there’s the polishing that’s been going on; the cam cover, oil cap, intake manifold and even the suspension top mount covers have all been polished to perfection. The panels that cover the back of the headlights are actually stock E21 items but here they’ve been colour-coded to blend in perfectly with the rest of the engine bay and as a result look custom. The electrical wiring had to be made longer in order to be routed out of sight. You could happily spend hours just staring at the sheer bright whiteness of it all. Unsurprisingly, it’s Marc’s favourite mod on the car. “I think it’s the ultimate thing to do on a show car,” he says. “Anybody can put wheels, suspension and an exhaust on a car but there are only a few people that go all the way with their love for cars (and their craftsmanship) to do the ultimate modifications. This separates the wannabes from the professionals.”
At first glance, the engine itself might not look like anything particularly special (insanely polished intake manifold aside) but there’s more to it than meets the eye. “The engine is a 2.7 Eta from an E28 525e,” explains Marc. “After restoring it we added a Schrick camshaft, an M20B25 head and fuel injection. We also fitted a performance air intake and a tubular exhaust manifold.” The latter looks particularly sexy nestling in the white expanse of the engine bay. The whole lot is finished off with a custom RVS exhaust system that culminates in a pair of up-angled polished pipes that extend past the rear bumper.
With such a ridiculously clean bay it was only right that the rest of the E21 was given a similar treatment. The rubbing strips have been removed from the wings and doors, the locks and badges have been removed and smoothed, and the chrome has been replaced with Shadowline trim. Up front smoked E30 headlights have been fitted, along with smoked indicator lenses and a black kidney grille. You’ll also spot a single wiper conversion, too.
Then there’s the rear panel which is so clean you could eat your dinner off it. The grille section between the rear lights has been removed and the whole section has been completely smoothed, with just the two light clusters left, sitting slightly proud of the bodywork. The front and rear bumpers are custom-made items and they look fantastic on the car, the former with its low, aggressive, angular chin spoiler while the latter is a clean, minimalist design that ties-in perfectly with the smoothed rear section.
The finishing touch was the #Warsteiner DTM colour scheme, made up of the BMW M tricolour stripes painted over a custom shade of white. It really suits this E21, especially with that aggressive front bumper being only a hair’s breadth from the Tarmac, and it looks every inch the classic racer.
Of course, bodywork alone isn’t enough, especially when you’ve got a wild colour scheme to pull off. When it came to the suspension Marc knew, as he’s not an airride fan, that he was going to keep things static with the E21 but just a bit of lowering wasn’t going to be enough for him. As a result, Eibach Sportline springs and shorter Bilstein B6 shocks were drafted in. Together they deliver some seriously aggressive lowering, with Marc carrying out numerous chassis modifications in order to end up with a massive 120mm drop (that’s eight inches) over the standard car! Going so low did result in several problems with wheel clearance but the work required to sort that out was well worth it as the BBS RSs are the perfect partners to go with the whole look of the car.
The wheels measure 9x16” all-round, pretty wide for something of this vintage. On one side the centres have been painted white, while on the other they have been ceramic polished for a dazzling finish. Both pairs of wheels have been topped off with bolts and chunky, polished centre caps.
Considering the amount of work and effort that has gone into the outside and the engine bay, it’s no surprise to find that Marc and the Dreamworks team have done an equally amazing job on the inside, too.
The racing-look Marc opted for really suits the DTM-theme better than any full interior could ever have done. Everything deemed unnecessary, including doorcards, carpets and rear seats, has been removed and the interior was then painted in the same custom white as the exterior. Following this, a highly polished Wiechers aluminium roll-cage was then installed. The upper part of the E21’s dash has been retained, though it’s been given a sporty look with the addition of some white dials plus a quartet of supplementary VDO gauges. There’s a Matrix TypeX steering wheel, a snazzy Alpina gear knob, chequer plate floor protection, and single-piece Recaro seats with four-point harnesses.
It took about a year to go from scrapheap basket case to the car you see before you now, though you’d never know how close it came to meeting an untimely end before Marc rescued it. The amount of work that’s gone into it has been truly immense and it shows in every single aspect of the build. It’s the sort of thing classics BMWs like this deserve, though, and Marc was fortunate enough to be in a position to give it the attention it deserves. When it comes to this E21, it’s fair to say Marc’s living the dream.
“When it comes to cool looks I always go for a clean engine bay”
DATA FILE 2.7 #BMW-E21 / #BMW-325e / #BMW-325e-E21 / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-E21-M20 / #BBS
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.7-litre straight-six #M20B27 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 , shaved and tucked bay with colour-coded and polished components, #Schrick camshaft, M20B25 head, fuel injection and engine management, high-flow air filter, tubular exhaust manifold, RVS custom exhaust system. Fivespeed gearbox, welded diff, #Sachs clutch. 210hp
CHASSIS 9x16” (f&r) #BBS-RS wheels with polished lips, ceramic polished centres (nearside), white centres (offside) and 15mm spacers (rear) with 215/35 (f) and 215/40 (r) Dunlop SP 9000 tyres, #Eibach Sportline springs, shortened #Bilstein B6 shocks, 120mm drop, Opel OPC front #BBK with vented discs
EXTERIOR Custom white respray, #DTM-Warsteiner colour scheme, custom hand-made front spoiler and bumpers, single wiper conversion, Hella smoked E30 headlights, smoked turn signal lenses, all-red rear lights, de-badged, de-locked, rubbing strips removed, bodywork smoothed
INTERIOR Stripped, painted custom white to match bodywork, Wiechers polished aluminium roll-cage, white gauges, #VDO gauges for oil temperature and pressure, water temperature and rev counter, Matrix TypeX steering wheel, Alpina gear knob, Recaro seats, four-point harnesses
THANKS KSC import for hardware, Nico Kunzler for technical support, Ronald Veth for shooting the feature, PBMW for featuring the car and everyone else I forgot