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Rodger’s E30 Turbo Touring (Wagon)

What would happen if BMW built an e30 turbo?

My friend Rodger is a bit of a perfectionist.

And by “bit” I mean “a lot,” and by “a lot,” I mean a bit of a maniac.

For example, I once witness him put his family to work using tweezers to remove any debris from his microfiber cloths after a wash to ensure nothing would possibly mar the paint.

And there has been countless other times I’ve seen him spend inordinate amounts of time and money fixing issues on cars that most people would never notice, not even enthusiasts such as myself.

So when Rodger decided to build his dream E30, I knew the world was in for a treat.

Fast forward 2.5 years later and it’s finally ready to be shared, and buckle in as it’s quite the build.

The build started with the ethos of the following:

“What would a turbo e30 wagon look and perform like if this car was the brain child of a high end tuner in the late 80’s?”  If Dinan or Alpina were to build the ultimate turbo touring, but still maintain that near-OEM look, this is what I think it would look like?

Rodger used this as the guiding principle of the build.

It started with finding the right car as a starting point. We never got an E30 touring (wagon) in the US, so even bone stock this build was going to be unique.

Rodger spent a lot of time and money finding the right example and importing it from Canada but the car spent most of its life in Germany.

In the last 2+ years Rodger has  have completely redone nearly everything in the car.

Most notably is the engine, which saw an almost complete replacement / redesign of the entire engine bay, including but not limited to a new rebuilt engine, a new turbo, tons of custom fabrication of things such as custom turbo, custom exhaust/intercooler piping, powder coating and ceramic coating of nearly everything. 

As a result, it’s quite a bit faster than a stock 325’s 168hp; at 14.5psi of boost it makes 300 hp and 300 lb./ft of torque at the wheels. 

The car is tuned to 12 psi and develops right around 260 hp and torque, again at the wheels, not crank. 

It gives a whole new life to an e30 without being overly punishing against the tires or driver.

To handle the new power, Rodger took a conservative approach to maintain the OEM plus look and feel, choosing Bilstein struts, H&R sport springs, ST sway bars, all new bushings, and upgraded 15×8 wheels wrapped in Kuhmo Ecsta V720 225/45R15’s to help with handling and ride quality.

Perhaps my favorite part is the interior, which was completely redone as well.

When you sit inside and realize the custom made seat fabric from Europe is similar to an Alpina pattern.

Nearly every surface has been covered in leather, and the car has a custom ‘turbo’ emblem on the Mtech steering wheel to carry the theme and OEM look throughout the interior.

It has also had a complete interior overhaul of every surface with custom leather, carpet, and fabric replacement. 

On the outside the car is nearly OEM, painted in BMW hellrot red.

You can see the intercooler peaking out the front bumper, custom badging, and gold wheels, but otherwise you may never know it’s not stock.

And to top it off, the car was professionally detailed and the ceramic coated with CQuartz, and has only been driven a few hundred miles, make it absolutely cherry condition for a car of any age, yet alone one originally built in 1989.

From an aesthetic standpoint you could put M3 fenders on it, but the goal was to build an e30 touring and not necessarily an M3 touring.

Instead, this car is designed to have an aesthetic to it so as to not be loud or ‘racey’, but rather subdued and ultra clean. 

Its meant to elevate the look and feel of a somewhat simple car and add some elegance and class and make it a bit sportier in appearance, but ultimately this is not an M3 or a race car, and is not meant to look like a touring version of an e30 M3. 

This car has been a labor of love, and has been built with a spare-no-expense attitude.  It had to be done right, it had to follow an overarching design to obtain the right look, feel, and performance. 

Everything on the car works as designed.

Every indicator, bulb, and even decal has been refreshed or replaced to look as close to new as possible.Just about everything has been rebuilt or replaced, even including the chassis itself which was overhauled by the previous owner less than 20,000 miles ago.

I did get a chance to ride in this car, and it’s a lot of fun. It doesn’t feel like a race car or super modified car, but instead what I’d imagine a high performance version of the E30 would feel like from the factory.

I also like that it has room for further customization for the next owner, so if you wanted to go the M3 fender route you could, or you could put on different wheels, or any number of aesthetic mods, while the rest of the car would need nothing.

The car is currently for sale, with an asking price of $40k.

While that’s not cheap, try recreating this for the same price and you’ll start to see why; and even if you could do it for the same price, be prepared to spend years chasing down parts, shops, etc. to get everything completed.

It’s definitely not the car most people would pick for $40K, but after posting countless Audi wagons (avants) here on this blog that are fetching much higher prices (03 RS6 Avant, 02 RS4 Avant, etc.), for the right BMW enthusiast this is a chance to own a car that is truly special and for the right buyer, it’s well worth it.

As another reference point, E30 M3s are regularly fetching 40-75K on Bring a Trailer in condition far worse than this car, and they lack a fifth door.

If you’re interested, contact rodger@rodgerbright.com.

  • ENGINE BAY
    • Replaced motor with freshly rebuilt M20B25.  All work carried out at BimmerHeads in Santa Clarita CA.  Fresh motor includes;
      • Block hot tank, machining, OEM paint.
      • New ARP studs/bolts
      • New MAHLE pistons/rings
      • New oil pump
      • New water pump
      • New main/rod bearings
      • New intermediate shaft gear
      • Bimmerheads “race” 885 head with 280/274 dual pattern cam, Supertech valves + OEM Dual Springs, Coolant Jacket Welding.
    • Relocated Remote Oil Filter, using OEM oil cooler with custom fabricated/welded piping.
    • All under hood hoses replaced with new OEM rubber or black nylon braided AN hose with black anodized AN fittings.
    • All nuts and bolts under hood replaced with new (exception of possibly 4-6 bolts re-used from previous iteration).
    • New OEM fan clutch, fan, and shroud.
    • New Bosch Alternator.
    • New Siemens Deka 60lb injectors 630cc 60mm.
    • Only mechanical component under hood from previous iteration are master cylinder, brake booster, aluminum high-flow radiator.  Everything else is new or rebuilt.
    • TiAL wastegate.
    • Synapse Blow off Valve.
    • ECS tuning Catch Can.
    • TurboSmart Manual Boost controller.
    • Blasted and powder coated Intake manifold, thermostat housing, valve cover, every part that could be coated, coated with black texture. 
    • New NGK BPR7ES Spark Plugs, MSD Spark Plug Wires.
    • Custom designed & fabricated;
      • Turbo header/manifold/y-pipe, utilizing OEM exhaust manifold.
      • 3″ stainless turbo downpipe feeds back into exhaust.
      • 3″ stainless exhaust, with Magnaflow catalytic converter, Magnaflow dual tip muffler.
      • Ceramic coating on all turbo piping including Y pipe, wastegate piping, downpipe, etc.
      • Intercooler mount with 2.5″ aluminum IC charge piping, black texture powder coated.
      • Custom designed/built Garret GT2971R Turbo (from Pure Turbos San Diego CA).
      • Custom fit / relocated washer fluid reservoir.
    • New front mount Intercooler (23″ x 10″ x 2.5″)
    • Aluminum distributor block off plate powder coated textured black.
    • Aluminum high flow radiator.
    • BMW OEM e30 318is wire loom plastic cover custom fit to car.
    • Redline 20w50 synthetic oil.
  • DRIVELINE
    • New Clutchmasters FX350 Clutch.
    • New Throw out bearing, piloting bearing, seals.
    • Rebuilt rear differential with Limited Slip 3.73 gears (previous owner, with last 15,000 miles).
    • New motor mounts, transmission mounts, guibo.
    • New OEM Z3 1.9 Short Shifter conversion w/new bushings
  • ELECTRIC
    • Innovate MTX-L Digital Wideband Air/Fuel Ratio Gauge and sensor.
    • DIYAUTOUNE Plug-N-Play E30 Megasquirt Standalone ECU. Tuned for pump gas up to 14.5psi boost.
    • Wasted Spark MSD triple coil setup.
    • Walboro 255 Fuel pump.
  • SUSPENSION / BRAKES / WHEELS/ CHASSIS
    • New brake rotors / brake pads front & rear.
    • New stainless braided brake lines front & rear.
    • Bilstein struts front & rear, with e90 drop hats for front struts.
    • H&R sport springs, ground control adjustable rear spring perches.
    • ST sway bars front and rear
    • All suspension/subframe bushings replaced within past 20,000 miles.
    • New 15×8″ Wheels with Kuhmo Ecsta V720 225/45R15 tires (less than 500 miles)
    • Replacement door latch hardware, door closure breaks.
  • INTERIOR
    • Custom Alpina style two tone seat fabric from Europe.
    • New black headliner.
    • Custom leather covering and stitching on door panels, seats, center console, gear shift & parking brake boot / handle / knob.
    • Subtle turbo emblem on steering wheel.
    • New seat piston and latch hardware.
    • Nakamichi bluetooth stereo with early 90’s single knob style to match the look and feel of the era.
    • New Aftermarket speakers in Oem locations.
    • Custom relocation tray to move battery to passenger rear quarter panel.
    • Boost, OIL Pressure, OIL Temp gauges custom into center console.
  • MISC
    • New rear hatch rubber seal
    • New sunroof rubber seal
    • (3) New BMW OEM Keys for doors, hatch, and glovebox with functional central locking system.
    • New battery.
    • Original Owner’s manuals included.

Nick Roshon

Nick has been an Audi owner and fanatic for the last 10 years, and started Nick's Car Blog in 2009 to share DIYs and pictures of his A4. Currently he drives a 2012 Audi TT-RS, and has previously owned a B7 S4, B7 A4, and an 82 Audi Coupe (GT) LeMons race car. In his day job, Nick is a digital marketer and lives in San Diego, CA, USA.

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