The E30 chassis is one of the most recognizable, widely known BMW body styles, and for great reason. With confident body lines, sharp but friendly features, and wide availability, it is quite often the first foray for many BMW enthusiasts’ addiction to vintage cars. For this exact reason it has become increasingly difficult to find a pristine and polished example of an E30 in the enthusiast world.
Enter Dave DelTorto with his beautifully refined 325is. It has seen quite a few changes in his ownership, but not in the attention seeking fashion that the community has found itself wrought with. The car was purchased as an all-original bone-stock 325is in 2011 from a “tennis playing, nerd yuppie,” as Dave puts it, in Hartford, Connecticut. It didn’t remain untouched for long. A little get-up-and-go was in order with an M52 engine swap over the first winter, and a full respray of the car due to two faded panels (because Dave is an all-or-nothing kind of guy.)
The suspension was pieced together using Ground Control parts, as well as other quality components, yielding a full coilover conversion, which of course tightened up all of the handling, braking, and general driving characteristics. Dave was constantly adding to the car, changing small parts in search of the perfect dynamics for a great looking and feeling car. These additions include ST sway bars, Treehouse Racing control arm bushings, all new hawk HPS pads and copper plated brake lines, and a fresh undercoat to prevent any future rust, just to name a few. Balance was his goal from the beginning and it has lead to one of the most fun E30s that I have ever had the pleasure of riding in and driving.
Fast forward to the following year and Dave was already chomping at the bit for a bit more grunt. An S52 (found in late model E36 M3s) began stealing his time (and money) as it received a full rebuild and then some additional love in preparation to be dropped into the the chassis. At the end of what was supposed to be a simple rebuild, Dave came out with a drivetrain that made somewhere in the realm of 290 wheel horsepower and 280 lb/ft of torque (up from the stock 240/240 at the crank, stock) delivered to the ground by a ZF transmission and a custom 3 clutch 3.15 ratio differential. The engine bay was shaved and the driveline was installed, leaving the inside of the bay just as beautiful as the outside of the car.
A set of BBS RSes were sourced and refinished, then happily took their place underneath of the beautifully polished body of this subtly aggressive E30.
The result of a seemingly logical series of modifications that most E30 owners talk about (but interestingly rarely achieve) resulted in one of the most beautiful early models driving around the New England area, preserving much of the OE and untouched aesthetic many E30 owners initially fall in love with.
A beautiful, quick, fun car is exactly what Dave had intended, and it is exactly what this example has shown itself to be. The car was built as an expression to how Dave felt his car needed to be. Composure and chaos come to mind when you’re strapped in the passenger seat, ripping around with the rear wheels spinning far too fast for the front to keep up with (which is coincidentally when Dave seems to be his happiest).
A simple and clean Italvolanti Indianapolis Formel 3-spoke wheel adorns the full leather interior, providing something pleasing to grasp when putting the car through its paces. Otherwise, the interior is left as-is, embracing a no-frills utilitarian aspect to the car’s innards.
BMW seems to be Dave’s forte, but he also has a few other projects up his sleeve, including a Volvo 242 track car with a very interesting powerplant and an S6 clone wagon as a daily driver. Spotted around the shop he works in are quite a few exciting projects that will be quite the handful when they see completion.
People far too often believe that there’s only one true route to go when it comes to their projects. Balance is an element of automotive enthusiasm that can be overlooked by those seeking pure power figures, pure grip, or even the perfect fitment. Each pursuit is admirable and difficult to perfect, but seeking an eclectic mix of automotive styles often yields incredibly interesting and polished results. So here’s to all you in-betweeners, whose apparent indecision creates things that are just as exciting as the extremes.