StanceWorks is no stranger to classic BMWs with air ride, or E30 M3s brought a lot closer to the ground thanks to coilovers, but a genuine E30 M3 on bags? That’s blasphemous on all counts. You’ve probably already worked out that this is a car that will annoy the purists, but the controversy goes on, with the original S14 being pulled out in exchange for the well known S54 of the E46 M3, and the lesser-known Z4M and late Z3M models. Step inside, and it also has a full reference level audio install, complete with boot setup. This car isn’t for everyone – more specifically, Nick built it for himself (partially melting the UK car social media was a side effect, and at Ultimate Dubs of all places), but even if you’re unsure of this car, I urge you to read on, otherwise you’ll miss out on what I believe to be one of the nicest modified E30 M3s you’ll ever come across.
Now I have to admit this is one of my first times getting truly up close and personal with an E30 M3, so maybe you think for me to make such a statement is very bold. Perhaps it is a little, but I stand by it, because of the impression this car has left on me. I spent a good week struggling to filter the images I shot during my brief morning with it, because it looks astounding from every angle. It has also left me invariably searching the many online sources for an E30 M3 to call my own. It had always been a car I’d like to own, not only as a fan of the BMW marque, but as a general petrol head, and I’m sure many others feel the same way. But that short overcast morning spent on the docks of Southampton, where Nick grew up and still lives, has made it clear to me that I need to own one.
Nick is no stranger to the BMW brand, its 3 Series model lineup, or the M Tuning arm of the company. Owning 3 E30’s including the one you see here, and 2 other M cars, it’s probably fair to say he is partial to a slice of Bavarian metal, old or new. None of them are stock though, Nick preferring to put his own touch on to each of his collection, and as I have already said, this one is no exception. The car started as a black 1986 German import, fairly standard and usable, but with some rust starting to show in areas such as the roof and scuttle panel. After 6 months, Nick new things had to change, and he started to assemble a group of companies, some of the best in the UK, to give this tired old ‘Bahn Stormer a new lease of life, with plans to have the car ready for Ultimate Dubs 2014 on the 8th of March. A bright orange BMW being unveiled at a VAG show? It’s slowly becoming more brand diverse, but it was a bold move nonetheless.
Starting the process off, the standard S14 was replaced by Ergen Motorsport for the S54B32 engine from a 2003 E46 M3, paired with an E36 M3 5-Speed gearbox. Ergen are a BMW specialist and are well-versed with S54 swaps, meaning that the conversion looks almost OEM, despite the fact that the bay originally housed a 4 cylinder, 197hp engine now had a straight 6 producing 343hp shoehorned in. This also meant that the inside the car looks virtually standard, with the original clocks working completely, and with further work to be done, more modern touches such as the DSC from the E46 will be fully functional. It doesn’t end there for performance, as the plan is to have the engine supercharged; a common way to push more power from the S54. Nick is aiming to land around 550bhp, paired with supporting modifications to make sure the car is happy producing nearly 3 times it’s standard power. When increasing the power, you can’t over look the brakes, and hidden behind the motorsport rolling stock are a set of HiSpec four-pot calipers clamping down on to some 300mm rotors with custom bells.
Next, the car took a trip to Stylehaus, where the bodywork was freshened up with the excellent choice of Inka Orange, a colour originally offered on the 2002, and was also the same orange the well-known Jagermeister M3s ran in. Whilst there, the arches were rolled to give maximum clearance for Nick’s plans to get it sitting perfectly. The E30 M3 was pretty much perfect aesthetically from the factory, but the addition of the Evo 2 front spoiler, genuine smoked Hella front lamps, Startec smoked rear lights, Sport Evo bumper strips and bonnet rubbers, and metal BMW Motorsport door handles added the finishing touches to make the car look brilliantly original, but with a slight personal twist. To accompany all these new touches, all the rubbers and plastics were replaced with genuine new items direct from BMW, something that quickly adds up to a huge amount of money on it’s own! The PUR35T numberplate you see in the images is the cars real registration number, and is a poke of fun at the fact that this car is anything but.
Now that the exterior was ready, the car needed to be brought closer to the ground, and thanks to the guys at Studio InCar and Air Lift, their Performance line of bags and struts were fitted to the E30 M3, the first to be done in the world. Their V2 management means it’s simple to use, and camber plates were fitted to allow the fitment to be perfectly dialled in, which as you can see is classic DTM influenced tuck. As you can expect, all bushings and links were uprated at the same time, following Nick’s scheme to leave no stone unturned in this build. For those of you who haven’t experienced Air Ride, or only cheaper systems, I was blown away; the car rode better than my standard E91 BMW – it has the firmness you expect with a good set of coilovers, but the dampening and rebound was much more controlled, and not at all crashy. The choice Nick made to go for air not only allows him to park it with that killer stance, but also means he can drive it, and use it as he wants, which includes travelling to Belgium the day after the shoot to attend a show, and it will be over at Worthersee in May.
The wheels currently fitted to the car were only sourced a week before the show, despite having searched for them for months. The attentive may have noticed they are in fact Compomotive TH’s, measuring 17×8 ET15 all round. Nick chose to apply the OZ Racing stickers as he much preferred the look compared to the much more dated Compomotive logo the wheels would have originally had. The wheels are nigh on identical to the OZ version, and Nick is still searching for an elusive set of centre lock OZ’s to add even more of a DTM influence to the car. If you couldn’t tell from the increasingly popular tyre wall writing, the car connects to the road via a set of Yokohoma Parada Spec 2s in 215/40/17, a slight stretch was all that was needed to get the tyres up in the arch thanks to the M3’s iconic box arches.
Stepping inside once again, the car has been completely refreshed, every surface either replaced with a new part, or retrimmed by the talented guys of Studio InCar in Charcoal Alcantara with orange stitching. When the shoot was carried out, the car still had it’s original steering wheel and dashboard, due to them not being ready for the 8th of March deadline, but they are also due to be retrimmed in matching Alcantara to tie the interior together. After the full inside and out respray, the car was fitted with sound deadening to give the car that well-made feel, and to accompany what is considered Studio InCars forte, audio. This is an area where no expense was spared, as when Nick isn’t listening to the war cry of the S54, he’s enjoying perfectly setup music, such as some period correct Michael Jackson when we were driving to the different locations. After all, if you’re going to be spending time enjoying the car and travelling to shows all over the UK and Europe, you need some quality music to accompany you! The system is all Audison except for the Pioneer head unit, with their 3 way front end custom trimmed in to the interior, with the Mid Bass drivers placed in the front footwells, the mids in the A Pillars, and the sculpted in to the door cards (sadly they were sent back to the Audison factory in Italy to be repaired, as they are no longer produced due to being too expensive to produce anymore). The front sound stage was accompanied by 2x 10” Subwoofers in the rear which can be seen through the window in the expertly created boot build, which shows off the impressive looking Audison Thesis HV Venti, and the twin air tanks trimmed in Orange Alcantara. SIC have also made some covers to hide the gaps that are caused by the boot hinges when the boot is open, a small touch that makes the build look even more complete. Attention to detail is a running theme on this project.
Nick’s build goes both with the grain, and against it. Nevertheless, from top to bottom, nothing has been left unchanged. In what is undeniably one of the cleanest and most thorough BMW builds of the year, it leaves only one variable for fans to interpret: style. Whether you’re in love, or offended, Nick Sahota’s E30 M3 represents what makes for a quality build. Since completion, Nick has stacked more than 6,000 miles on the car, driving it almost non-stop. Even if no one else does, we’re glad he enjoys it.