A love affair that started 30 years ago.

My ownership of this E30 started 22 years ago, but it’s story began on the 14th March 1989.

My E30 was first registered Tuesday 14th March 1989, I was 12 at the time!  The E30 was sold by BMW dealership in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, which is now long gone.  It was a Cirrus Blue 325i SE 4 door (#stopthemoordoorhate) with lots of boxes ticked.  The first owner bought it and he kept it for a few years until a company car came on the scene, this meant the E30 was just sitting in the garage not being used, he made the decision to sell it.

Now, I had been looking for an E30 for a while and even in 1998 a lot them had already had a hard life, rust, trim missing, holes in the door panels and rear shelf where speakers had once sat, wires hanging from under the dash, well you know the score.  I had almost given up hope then driving to work one day I spotted this gleaming silver E30 sitting on the forecourt of a Mitsubishi garage no less.

Of course it didn’t stay there long, I took it for a test drive, the smile on my face was so big the salesman already knew I was going to buy the car.  The deal was done, I now owned not only my first BMW but my first E30.

I once meet the previous owner of my E30 whilst I was sitting in Halfords car park (yes, I know, but it was nothing to do with Ripspeed, I promise). He came and introduced himself to me, he knew many things about the car you just wouldn’t know unless you owned it,  to find out the history of my car was fantastic.  The only thing I’m still unsure of to this day, is how it ended up on the forecourt of a Mitsubishi garage.

Now I must have driven my car as a daily driver for about 4 years, all I did to the car in that time was drive it, service it and clean it.

On the way to work one day I noticed the exhaust blowing, after further investigation it needed a new rear silencer, this was the start of a very slippery slope (more on that to come later).  Me being me, I didn’t want a standard exhaust, I wanted something that would complement the sound of that straight six M20.

Now the E30 had been around for a few years by now and everyone had lost interest in it, I was finding it incredibly hard to find the technical information I was looking for and as for finding decent aftermarket parts, you might as well just forget it, the E36 was the new kid on the block getting all the attention.

I started a few threads on other BMW forums but the lack of E30 content was just disappointing and to cut a long story short these issues had just given birth to the E30 Zone.

The exhaust was fixed and not long after I noticed a few other bits that needed some attention.  I ordered lots of parts, parked the car in the garage and started taking parts off the engine. (anyone else see where this is going?)

I started by changing the cam to an uprated one, adding BBTB and a chip as well changing all the serviceable parts, oh and the complete suspension and the list goes on…  Now I’m not going to make any excuses or apologise about who I am, I like modified E30s and big body kits.

The Zone had always favoured the standard E30 or at lest OEM+.  I went the complete opposite way and decided to build an E30 the Zone would love to hate, I was building this car for me and me alone, too many people ask other people what they should do with their car, I always say “well what do you want to do?” it’s your car, do want you want with it.  All I ever wanted for the Zone is for it’s members to enjoy their E30s, who cares if it costs £50 or 20K as long as you enjoy every moment in  your E30, that’s what really matters.

Anyway back on track, I order a kit that I liked, I later found out it was more or less a Rieger GTS copy.  As you probably already guessed the quality was shocking, the side skirts were so bowed and twisted they were never going to fit on the car in a million years, the rear spoiler tolerance must have +/- 50mm and the front and rear bumpers were just lumps of fiberglass with hardly any definition and full of big bubbles from being moulded.

I made the decision that this kit was going nowhere near my car and after a lot of discussion with the company that made it, we came to an agreement.  I binned the side skirts and the rear spoiler but kept the bumpers as I had another idea.

There was only one way to go to get the kit I really wanted, make it myself ! I’m a plastic fabricator by trade and thought I would give a go.

I found some basic universal side skirts that would give a good start on making some moulds, I also cut up the front and rear bumpers so that I could modify them to also make moulds.  To complete the look I was after I got hold of some Mtech 2 door pods and a Mtech 2 rear spoiler.

After a lot of work moulding the skirts and bumpers, which I must have made, pulled apart and made again about 4/5 time before I was happy, I finally had the look I was after.

The kit looked great but the finish was a bit to be desired.  It took just as long to finish the kit as it did to make it.  I didn’t have money to get it sprayed, but I was on a roll, so why not do it myself, lets just say it didn’t go well and I had to sand it all down, again!  Eventually one of my friends saved the day and sprayed it for me.

I remember taking it for the first MOT after it was done, it passed with flying colours, It had been off the road for so long, I couldn’t wait to start driving it again.

The car was then treated to a set of sport seats and M3 rear bench, yes in a 4 door !

That was nearly 7 years ago now,  I’ve not done much to the car since, other than maintain it, drive it and enjoy it, the only change I have made was to get rid of the 17″ Alpina reps (that were all the rage back in the day) for, oh no here we go again, 18″ wheels, another thing you should never do to your E30 apparently, I know, i know, calm down :D.

So would I do it again? It was a different time and styles have changed but I still love it, I know it’s not to everyone’s taste but frankly I don’t care, I built it for myself and no one else.  If I was building it in 2019 would I build it the same erm.. probably not, ask the air ride or Pandem kit / Rocket Bunny guys and girls in 10 years time and they may say what the hell was I thinking!

Let me wrap this up, this car has been with me through getting married, moving house 3 times, taking my wife to hospital when my son was born and 3 years later when my daughter was born, taking me to my Dad hours before losing him to cancer, being made redundant and taking me to start a new job, starting the E30 Zone, taking my daughter to her year six prom, taking me to shows where I have met so many people because of the E30 and the E30 Zone, and so many of you have become such good friends.  What I am trying to say is that this is more than a car, it’s one of the family, much to my wife’s dismay, and I can’t see myself ever parting with it as it is part of me.

So Happy Birthday to my E30 and the love affair that started 30 years ago…