Stunning turbo M20 420bhp 1988 BMW 325i Coupe Turbo E30
With its dazzling blue bodywork, stunning stance and brutal turbo performance, this epic E30 is a masterclass in classic BM modding.
Words: Elizabeth de Latour
BOOSTED BE AUTY IS CL ASSIC MODDED BM PER FECTION!
WILD BLUE YONDER
Stunning turbo M20 E30
Everyone loves E30s. It’s a constant that exists within the BM community, and when you see an example like Matt Maddocks’ (@e30_lc) stunning example, it’s easy to see why.
It’s fair to say that Matt has come a long way since the days of his first car, an L-reg 1.1 Rover Metro. It was given to him by his great granddad when he stopped driving, though the signs of a modding mind were already there as Matt added some massive subs and a huge amp. “Unfortunately, I only had the car for six days before a driver in a Ford Ranger decided to take half of my Metro with him while leaving my college car park,” he winces.
But at least it was the first rung on the motoring ladder, and his passion for cars and modding has only grown from there. “I had a few Vauxhall Corsas that I had modified from engine swaps to paint jobs, and also a Honda Civic with a B18 swap. My most recent car was an Audi B9 S4 that I had tuned to 430hp, which was great fun on the straights but a bit of a boat in the corners, as I found out at Castle Combe,” he chuckles.
Now, that’s all well and good, but we’re here for the BMs, and while there haven’t been many in Matt’s motoring history, he’s been passionate about them for a long time. “I have been interested in BMWs from a young age as my dad bought my mum an E30 316 when I was about 10 years old. He also had a Mercedes-Benz 190E W201 2.5 16V that my brother now owns, so I’ve been around cars of this era for a fair few years, and when I drove my E30 for the first time, it brought back fond childhood memories,” he enthuses. “My E30 325i Sport is the first BMW I have owned,” Matt tells us. “My wife found the car for me after my Honda Civic had been written off. I had my eye on an E60 525d, but my wife knew it wouldn’t suit me and found my E30, which I pretty much bought the minute I saw the ad,” he grins. “I test-drove the car and fell in love immediately, though I completely overlooked the fact the oil pressure light was flickering at idle, and that the cheap coilovers had given it a bit of a rough ride as I had so much want for the car. After getting the car home and owning it for about a week, I realised the front strut tower was leaning in, giving quite a bit of camber on one side, and there was some rust in the rear arches which I swiftly resolved,” he says.
It’s clear that all that knowledge and experience he built up modding previous projects paid off in a big way when it came to getting stuck into this one because it’s simply awesome, though Matt’s original intentions were far more modest. “My plans were to keep the car Lachs silver, add subtle mods like H&R 40mm springs and some shocks, stainless exhaust and a few minor engine mods. I wanted to keep it close to original with some tweaks, but that all changed when I had it painted,” he laughs, and this is now a full-on build. Things did indeed start out small, with a set of the aforementioned H&R springs finding their way onto the car, before Matt threw a few engine mods at the project, in the shape of a 272 cam and custom stainless exhaust from Infinity Exhausts, but, things were about to get turned up to 11. “The big changes started when my friend Anil from Dream Car Body Works agreed to paint my car,” grins Matt. “I planned to shave the bay and refresh the whole car, and he asked if I wanted to change the colour considering how far we were going with the work. After a few days of thinking about it I decided to make the car my own and move away from original,” he says, and the end result is stunning. The colour that Matt chose is a custom metallic blue that Anil helped him to pick out, and it looks incredible. There’s some serious flake in the paintwork, it really pops in the sun, and it’s turned this E30 into a serious head-turner, and that’s before you even take into account the other mods, like those gorgeous wheels.
“I spent hours looking at the wheel fitment photos on E30 Zone,” Matt tells us. “I was drawn to the OZ Futuras, and nothing else looked as good in my opinion, the more wheels I looked at, the more I wanted the Futuras! I finally found a set in London for a reasonable price which I snapped up, and I couldn’t be happier with the choice,” he grins, and we agree. Futuras are a fantastic-looking wheel, and these 17s suit this build perfectly with the classic combo of silver centres and polished lips plus gold hardware, and Matt has got the fitment absolutely spot-on. They fill out the arches so well, and these, in turn, just cover the sidewalls – it’s that chef’s-kiss level of satisfaction.
The rest of the car, though, has been left largely untouched in terms of styling, and we really like that because Matt has allowed the E30’s classic looks to really shine. “Most of the exterior has stayed the original M Tech 2 kit to keep its iconic shape,” he says. “The only changes I have made include adding an E36 M3 splitter that had to be modified to fit the bumper, and I sometimes run a half bonnet to show off my engine bay,” and that’s perfect. As you can see, those H&R springs are long gone, and, in their place, you’ll find an air-ride setup. “I decided to go with Air Lift 3P for my suspension setup as I wanted stance but also didn’t want a rock-hard ride to achieve this,” Matt explains, and that’s a sensible approach. The air-ride gets this E30 sitting perfectly, and rather than having a traditional boot build, Matt has had the air tank mounted on the rear parcel shelf, and we love the uniqueness of that, and it adds yet another special touch to this build.
This E30 is already reaching levels of wow that are off the scale, but this is far more than just an aesthetic offering, as you can already tell, thanks to that halfbonnet. “I picked RHD throttle bodies as it was a straightforward install, and I loved the sound of the car on ITBs, which complemented my 272 cam,” Matt tells us. “While my car was being painted, I also fitted a lightened flywheel and a stage 1 clutch. Once I had the engine in the car, I also bought a MegaSquirt 2 plug-and-play ECU to run the new hardware. I moved over to a wasted spark setup using a coil pack from a V6 Vectra and I also changed out the injectors for pink-top 21.5lb ones. The sound was awesome but the engine lacked a bit in the power department, so I decide to turbo my M20,” he smiles.
“I picked the HX35 turbo as I wanted a big kick of power, and as it is now a weekend car, a bit of lag wouldn’t matter too much! I have combatted this a bit by reducing the size of the turbine housing from 18cm to 11cm so the turbo spools around 2.5k and delivers full boost from 3k rpm to the redline,” adds Matt with a grin, and it’s an awesome setup. It looks fantastic in the super-clean engine bay, with that carbon plenum for the ITBs and the massive Holset turbo complete with velocity stack intake. Power? Matt doesn’t know, he’s not had it on a dyno yet as he’s only road-tuned it so far, but we reckon ‘enough’ covers it.
And finally, it’s time to take a look at the interior, and Matt has added some seriously nice touches here, which comes as no surprise. “I needed to change the seats as the front sports seats were hanging!” he laughs. “I wanted something that looked at home in the car, and I tried Porsche tombstones which sat way too high on the custom brackets I had made and didn’t look right. I had found someone local to me breaking his project E30 and had a pair of brand new Recaro Cross Speeds with brackets that I just had to have; I felt they suited the car perfectly,” Matt enthuses.
“I have also just bought a Renown Time Trial wheel that should be arriving soon (I hope my wife doesn’t read this, she doesn’t know I’ve bought it yet!). My shifter is a solid mount with a very short throw made by a guy on Facebook called Rokas, which I’ve been very happy with. The next purchase for the interior has to be the M3 rear bench, but I need to find one, and at a reasonable price first,” he says. This E30’s cabin is a gorgeous place to be – the Recaros look so good and really suit the car, the shifter looks purposeful, and we love the blue knob that ties the interior into that stunning blue paintwork. And finally, the Air Lift controller has been custom-mounted in a quilted surround just ahead of the gear lever, and there’s also a matching custom phone holder, and it’s these individual touches that make all the difference.
This car has been a part of Matt’s life for quite some time now, and, while life has happened around it, the E30 has remained. “I’ve owned the car for around eight years, and for the first three years, I used it as my daily drive as it was my only car at the time. I would say five years I have been building it to be the car it is today, and they have been five very busy years! I’ve got married, moved house twice and had two children,” he smiles, and much in the same way that the E30 is a constant on the modded BMW scene, so too it has been a constant for Matt.
On a build of this scale and standard, it’s hard to pick just one favourite modification, but there is one that does stand out for Matt. “My favourite mod so far has to be my wheels,” he grins. “The right wheels can really make the car, and I feel the Futuras set the car off. Coupled with my air ride, it’s the best combo for my E30,” he says with a satisfied nod, and we can’t argue with that.
As for future upgrades, there’s the aforementioned E30 M3 rear bench that Matt wants to add, but there’s a more pressing mod that’s required. “The main upgrade I haven’t got round to yet, but I should have already, is a big brake kit, not sure if I’m going to go with the RX-7 conversion or bite the bullet and go with a Wilwood setup,” he muses. One thing’s for sure, he’s got time to decide, and the same goes for any further mods in the future because this E30 isn’t going anywhere. It’s been with Matt through so much of his life, and it feels like part of the family now. Change can be good, but knowing that there’s something familiar in your life is very welcome and reassuring.
E36 M3 splitter has been modified to fit the M Tech 2 bumper.OCC Motorsport steering wheel has since been swapped for a Renown item Sexy. Sexy Recaro Cross Speeds.The fitment on the OZs is just perfect Blue gear knob tops the Rokas solid-mount short-shifter.Stunning 17” OZ Futuras. RHD ITBs Adjustable dampers and top mounts. M20 sits in a shaved bay Substantial Holset turbo.
I had found someone local to me breaking his project E30 and had a pair of brand new Recaro Cross Speeds with brackets that I just had to have, I felt they suited the car perfectly
I picked the HX35 turbo as I wanted a big kick of power, and as it is now a weekend car, a bit of lag wouldn’t matter too much! I have combatted this a bit by reducing the size of the turbine housing from 18cm to 11cm so the turbo spools around 2.5k and delivers full boost from 3k rpm to the redline”
DATA FILE 1988 BMW 325i Coupe Turbo E30
- ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six M20B25, fully rebuilt, Holset HX35 turbo with velocity stack intake, 440cc injectors, custom 3” exhaust, wasted spark, 272° cam, RHD ITBs, carbon plenum, Mishimoto E36 M3 radiator. Getrag 260 five-speed manual gearbox, lightened flywheel, Stage 1 clutch, stock LSD
- CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front) and 9.5x17” (rear) OZ Futuras with silver centres, polished lips and gold hardware, 195/40 (front) and 215/40 (rear) Falken ZE914 tyres, Air Lift 3P air suspension, Brembo pads with drilled and slotted discs, Chase Bays master cylinder delete
- EXTERIOR Full respray in custom metallic blue, half bonnet, E36 M3 front splitter
- INTERIOR Recaro Cross Speed seats, Rokas solid-mount short-shifter, air tank mounted on parcel shelf, custom-mounted Air Lift controller
- THANKS I would like to thank Anil from Dream Car Body Works for such attention to detail in the restoration and paintwork, my step-dad Dave for the countless hours of hard work over the years, and, lastly, my wife Ayesha for being so supportive of my passion for cars