540hp 6.2-litre LS3 V8 BMW M3 E30
With its retina-searing orange paint, thunderous 6.2-litre V8 pushing out 540hp, sorted chassis and hardcore interior, this full-on E30 M3 is a real thrill ride of a build.
Wild 540hp LS3 V8 E30 M3
Words: Elizabeth de Latour
Photos: 24Seven Photography
540hp 6.2-litre V8 BMW M3 E30
If you’ve been on the UK modded BM scene for pretty much any amount of time, you’re probably aware of this build. Wayne Greatrix (@wgreatrix) and his LS-powered E30 M3 have been around for a long time (respectfully), and in an environment where so many owners sell cars and move on to new projects seemingly every five minutes, it’s nice to see someone who is committed to their build. Wayne has owned his E30 M3 for over 20 years now, which is a rare thing, but you love to see it, and it’s a huge part of his life. It’s been through some changes over those two decades, but it’s fair to say that, right now, it’s reached its peak, and Wayne couldn’t be happier.
Wayne has enjoyed a rich and varied motoring past, from his first car, an Austin 1300 GT, to the E91 330d that serves as his current daily. There’s also been a selection of modded offerings along the way, including a lowered and engine-swapped Range Rover, an E46 M3 Touring, and an LS-powered Lexus IS200. His love for BMWs was first ignited after watching the 1992 DTM championship, so it’s no surprise his first BM was an E30 M3. And it clearly made an impression because it led to him buying and building this one.
“I bought this M3 because I love the shape, and it is very appealing to me,” enthuses Wayne. “I found the car in a salvage yard; it had been stolen and recovered but was still in perfect condition,” he tells us of his purchase. Unlike some owners who simply intend to enjoy their cars as BMW intended and then fall into modding, for Wayne, it was a different story altogether. “I definitely had a plan as soon as I bought it,” he grins.
“First off, there was the Rover V8 fitted and then a full leather interior, in 2000. In 2003, I decided to strip the car to its bare shell and built it into what it is now,” he explains, and he’s created a stunning M3.
There’s an awful lot to like here and a lot to get our teeth into, but the most exciting part of this build is, without a doubt, what’s lurking beneath the bonnet. “It now has an LS3 engine running 11.5:1 compression, with full race AFR cylinder heads, a Texas Speed high-lift cam and a FAST inlet manifold, along with a Holly throttle body which took a week to build,” Wayne tells us. Regardless of how you might feel about non-BM engine swaps, and especially in an E30 M3, you’d have to be a very peculiar person not to feel even the slightest bit excited when the bonnet on Wayne’s orange beast is popped, and that mighty LS3 comes into view. Weighing in at 6.2-litres, this all-alloy, all- American powerplant is a serious motor.
It’s mated to a Tremec six-speed manual gearbox and makes an awesome noise courtesy of its custom exhaust setup, and it’s making some awesome numbers, too, putting down 540hp and 527lb ft of torque. That would be a lot in any car, but in the lightweight M3 body, it makes for a real white-knuckle thrill ride of a driving experience. You might not like the idea of a Yank V8 in a BM, but five minutes in Wayne’s build would be enough to change your mind.
Naturally, a man like Wayne with a build like this isn’t going to be about cutting any corners, and every aspect of this E30 has been given the proper treatment, whether you can see it or you can’t, and that obviously extends to the chassis. “I decided on KW Competition 3 front and rear shocks with 700lb front springs and 450 springs on the rear,” Wayne tells us. “It has a Group A MRT front engine cradle and rose-jointed suspension arms, and power is put to the road through a Racing Diffs 3.64 ratio 188 differential,” and that combo of upgrades ensures that this M3’s chassis is more than capable of dealing with everything that LS3 can throw at it. Naturally, the stock M3 brakes would have given up and left the party a long time ago when asked to cope with all that V8 muscle, which is why you will also find an AP Racing front BBK hiding behind the tight mesh of the front wheels.
Speaking of wheels, we need to talk about aesthetics because while this E30 build has some seriously impressive hardware on board, Wayne has also paid a lot of attention to how the car looks, and it looks pretty spectacular from where we’re sitting. “I decided that I wanted the car to be a replica of the 1992 Jägermeister E30 M3 DTM car,” Wayne tells us, which explains the retina-searing shade of orange it’s painted in (Phoenix Orange, in fact), and it actually wore the full DTM livery for a large portion of its time with Wayne. Beyond the paintwork, you will find a Sport Evo carbon front splitter and rear Gurney flap, carbon DTM mirrors and a single-wiper conversion, along with extras like the tinted front indicators, the bonnet latches and the rear-mounted fuel filler.
And of course, you’ve got those crossspoke wheels that work with the whole motorsport theme so well. “I wanted something that was in keeping with the car, and Harry at Image Wheels obliged by making me my own design,” Wayne tells us, and the centre-lock 17” split rims he’s ended up with look fantastic, and suit the car perfectly.
With that motorsport-inspired exterior, it makes sense that the interior follows a similar theme. “I have always loved the race car look and always wanted my car to look like that. So I decided that I would put that interior in my car to make it look interesting,” says Wayne, and it’s definitely worked. The interior has been completely stripped, leaving just the bare necessities and what is left is lightweight, like the carbon dash and carbon door cards. There’s also a lightweight custom carbon switch panel that houses the fuses, along with an XRP pressure gauge and an AEM AFR gauge. Elsewhere you will find a Stack dash display, suede-rimmed Personal steering wheel, Wilwood pedals, a pair of single-piece Recaro buckets with Willans harnesses and, of course, a full colour-coded roll-cage. It’s an awesome interior with so much attention to detail, and it’s very fitting for a build of this calibre.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – we don’t care how you feel about BMs running non-BM engines, if the sight of a bright orange DTM-inspired E30 M3 rumbling past with an earth-trembling V8 soundtrack pouring out of its custom exhaust doesn’t get you excited, then you need to take a good look at yourself. Wayne has built himself an awesome car in the shape of this M3, it’s a spectacular, sensational machine, and it’s been done to an incredibly high standard, with no compromises or corners cut anywhere.
This is a proper build and no mistake. From the paintwork to the engine swap, from the interior to Wayne’s favourite mod, the centre-lock wheels, everywhere you look, you’ll find only the best hardware, and it all combines to make this a car to be truly proud of and enjoy. And that’s exactly what Wayne is planning to do. He’s poured so much time, effort and heart into this build, and now all that’s left to do is settle into that Recaro driver’s seat, wake up that 6.2-litre V8, and become an orange streak spearing towards the horizon – it doesn’t get much better than that.
Rear-mounted fuel filler is a cool addition Full colourcoded roll-cage Recaro buckets with Willans harnesses Wilwood pedals. Stripped out interior features a carbon dash. stom carbon switch panel with AEM AFR gauge Stack digital dash display.
DATA FILE LS3 V8 E30 M3
- ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 6.2-litre V8 LS3, 11.5:1 compression ratio, full race AFR cylinder heads, Texas Speed high-lift cam, FAST inlet manifold, Holly throttle body, Design-Manifolds and Deutsch Tech custom exhaust, John Sleath Race Cars map. Tremec T56 six-speed manual gearbox, Racing Diffs 3.64 ratio 188 differential.
- POWER AND TORQUE 540hp and 527lb ft
- CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front) and 9.5x17” (rear) Image Wheels custom centre-lock wheels with 235/40 (front) and 255/40 (rear) Zestino soft-compound tyres, KW Competition 3 dampers, 700lb (front) and 450lb (rear) springs, Group A MRT engine cradle, rose-jointed suspension arms, AP Racing BBK (front)
- EXTERIOR Full respray in Phoenix Orange, carbon fibre front Sport Evo splitter, tinted front indicators, bonnet latches, single-wiper conversion, carbon fibre DTM mirrors, Sport Evo carbon fibre Gurney flap, rear-mounted race fuel filler
- INTERIOR Stripped out, Recaro seats, Willans harnesses, full colour-coded roll-cage, Stack digital display, Personal steering wheel, carbon fibre dash, lightweight carbon fibre door cards, custom carbon fibre switch panel, AEM AFR gauge, Wilwood pedals, fuel cell in boot
- THANKS Thanks to all that have helped make this car what it is now
Monster LS3 V8 is epic Weighing in at 6.2-litres, this all-alloy, all-American powerplant is a serious motor… it’s making some awesome numbers, too, putting down 540hp and 527lb ft of torque”