Juicing up a Classic – Introducing Jon Volk’s Tesla Powered E30

Tesla Powered E30

At any given time, there are untold number of projects going on.  Everything from headgasket jobs to performance exhaust installations.  However, sometimes you come across something really special, and you may do a quick google search to see if anyone’s EVER done it before.  Those are the types of projects that deserve some attention.  Jon Volk’s creation is about to stand on its own after months of meticulous planning and lots of insanely detail oriented modern age fabrication.  Using the Instagram handle @tesla_bimmer, Jon’s intentions are pretty clear.  Transport the high torque heart out of a Tesla Model S P85, and use it to provide heaps of power to a very clean 92 BMW 325i.  You read the headline right, a Tesla powered E30.

Tesla powered E30 Front Batteries

It would be easy to cobble a project like this together.  A huge battery pack here, some fat battery cables there, zip tie it all together and see if it works….. Refreshingly, that’s not the approach being taken with this build.  Lots of care is being put into every tiny detail, and everything is custom.  From the high voltage control box to the battery tray mounting… and of course the custom hinged kidney grill that will fold out to reveal the charging port.  Everything is done cleanly via 3D software and then either laser cut or 3D printed.  No scrap re-appropriation here.

Tesla Powered E30 Subframe

Even though the clearance looks low in the photo, it’s actually over 2in more than a stock E30 with a 3in exhaust!

Battery packs were borrowed from a Chevy Volt, and each is comprised of hundreds of individual liquid cooled LG Chem Lithium Manganese Oxide cells.  This car will have two complete banks.  Together, they store around 32 kWh with a nominal operating voltage around 355v, which should be enough for around a 100 mile range.  That’s enough voltage to do a lot of damage if you were to accidentally short the main terminals.  The result of which would be a burst of energy of around 1000amps, so extra care must always be taken.  It won’t just be a quick oopsie if these accidentally get shorted to ground like your car battery.  The main fuse for this system is about the size of a baseball, and can be seen in his video listed below.

Two car’s worth of battery packs should give the Tesla powered E30 a range of around 100 miles

Mechanically, the excellent E30 OEM front and rear suspension mounting and geometry will remain remarkably unchanged.  The electric motor assembly in back will be cradled by a custom laser cut boxed sub frame, and deliver power via high quality OEM E30 axles (something our friend at Black Flagged recently did on his E30).

Tesla E30 Adapters

The way this is possible is with custom machined adapter pucks to allow OEM axles to bolt straight up to the drive unit.  Between the two axles is a freshly upgraded final drive, complete with LSD.

Tesla LSD Install

That limited slip is going to come in handy too.  With the new electric drivetrain, this Tesla powered E30 should be able to put down several times more power than the stock Bimmer could have ever dreamed of in 1992.  This comes with a massive change in weight distribution as well, moving the CG to that of a rear engine Porsche.  On the scales, this 2,969lb car (a stock Tesla Model S comes in over 4,000) has a 35/65 rearward bias, about the same as a Porsche 930.  Luckily, when looking at the rear suspension setups on both cars, the main trailing arm design is quite similar.  We are excited to see what it’s actually like to drive.

Speaking of suspension.. Starting off, this Tesla powered E30 will be running on universal racing style Eibach springs rated at 400lbs for the front and 1000lbs for the rear.  They will slide over Bilstein sport shock inserts and mount on special threaded coilover perches.  The front sway bar is a 25mm unit, and the rear will go bar-less to start.  A set of double adjustable KONI‘s may be in the future, but for now the current setup is what the car will hit the road on. Steering is delivered via electric motor driving a hydraulic power steering pump and standard hydraulic steering rack.  The stock E30 brakes will be boosted via electric vacuum pump.  These will all help in making this feel more like a normal car.  The stock shift knob and boot are retained, the pattern is just a little different as the H has been converted to a linear 3-way switch.  Forward for forward, back for back, center for neutral.  Slick.

eEuroFest 2019

Fortunately for us, this isn’t a project that is off in some far away internet land, Jon recently signed up for VIP tickets to eEuroFest this June 7-8 at Lime Rock Park.  There he will be able to show the car, give it a good shakedown on the way there and on the Autocross, and enjoy all the rest of the VIP perks such as catered hospitality.  It will even be able to take advantage of Lime Rock’s convenient Tesla charging stations.  We can’t wait to see the Tesla powered E30 hit the autocross.  Follow along with this project on the Tesla Bimmer YouTube Channel, his Instagram, and see it live in action at eEuroFest!  [Learn More].


Posted in BMW, DIY How-To
5 thoughts on “Juicing up a Classic – Introducing Jon Volk’s Tesla Powered E30
  1. Michael

    Before I read it I assumed he’d be using the Tesla batteries. Then after the Volt batteries were mentioned, I was surprised to hear the Tesla charger would still be used. Is it just impossible to get the Tesla batteries or is it more complex than that?

  2. Hi Jon – I love your work, and I have been a gear head for 50 years. I live relatively close by in Newington, CT. I would love to stop by and take you up on your magnanimous offer to see your work in person, at your convenience. I am building a Tesla powered 1963 split window Vette. I don’t do social media. Could you please get back to me at robert.sliwa@airflowtruck.com Thanks, Bob Sliwa

  3. Guy Peters

    Maybe you already talked about this, I think you will need to reinforce the rear strut mts for the weight. I’ve seen some break out with age. I wonder with the weight bias how nec. the power steering put will be, comfortable but maybe not nec.? Looks very good!

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