Where do we begin? In September of 2017 I bought an e46 M3. My first BMW. I had been building trucks for a little while, but after shooting photos on a few commercial shoots I decided it was time to drive fast. To get sideways. So I bought the M3. A few mods later, some autocrosses, and a track day, and I was ready to drop a roll cage in it and go for broke. Only problem was a slight lack of confidence in my car building abilities.
I had never built a race car before. So, after saving up for my roll cage, I decided that instead of messing up a beautiful M3 I should play around with an e30 project car first. Way cheaper, easier to work on, and I wouldn’t have any problem cutting it up and building a race car. After convincing my wife that I just had a stroke of genius, I found a good deal on a 1991 BMW 318is.
You know, the one they made for only one year.
With the M42B18 engine.
The last year of the e30, with all the kinks worked out… at least by BMW standards. I kid, I kid. But I found this one, a slick top, with unknown miles showing as only 77k on the odometer and a horrible respray. It was almost 1,000 miles away, so after convincing my wife that it would be fun to take a road trip (I’m a pretty good salesman I guess), we drove and picked up the little beemer.
It had more problems than I realized. The engine is sound. The interior, super clean. The trunk even looks brand new, with a new stock spare. Maybe those 77k miles are for real? But underneath, the death knell: rust. Not a lot of it, but enough to make me wish I had trucked a car in from southern California (like the M3).
So here we stand, knee deep in an e30 project car. The best kind of project car. Exactly the opposite of the M3. A car I’m not afraid to cut up, and one that I can learn on and build to spec. As for the plans on the e30, they go a little something like this:
I want a car I can pound the track with. That I can learn to drift in. That I can learn how to drive sideways and thread the needle like Rhys Millen in those commercials I worked on that sparked this whole wild idea. The perfect mix of race and show.
Race it and then drive it to SEMA. Full DTM or GTLM on the inside: Caged and super clean, painted (no dirty spec e30 project car here), switches, hydraulic handbrake, quick release steering wheel, door cards, electronics, etc. We continue the theme on the outside: lowered with coilovers, wide fenders with wide tires and perfect fitment, maybe a carbon fiber hood with vents and aerocatches. A drilled front bumper, good headlights, one removed for the air intake. Fuel cell with a quick filler. And the engine? Swap it for an s54. No. Turbo s54. Then build the same engine in both cars.
That’s the dream anyway. But did I tell you I’m a pretty good salesman? And I work really really hard.
Keep track of how this car transforms, as it happens, on my YouTube channel. I’ll be updating it frequently as I go through the moves to get this car from “clean” classic to “clean” track rat, the best type of car there is.