Euro E30 Restomod Attests Experience is Everything

Photography: Jeroen Willemsen

  • The 41-year-old E30 chassis remains one of the most popular choices for mod-hungry enthusiasts worldwide.
  • The OE M-Tech II body kit and BBS RS wheels provide the initial punch for a decidedly thorough build.
  • Pim’s execution meshes earnest, factory restoration with modern-day mod execution.

In E30 lore, some say that a respected car magazine wondered whether BMW made a mistake and sent photos of its predecessor when they sent official news of the E30’s design. Indeed, their “All the same but better!” campaign feels like an early iteration of “same same but different”. The car’s side profile was largely reminiscent of the E21, but the E30’s front and rear fascias were squared off, making it look like a much blunter instrument. None of that takes anything away from this chassis’s impact since — the E30 remains one of the most coveted among the 3-series generations and a pop icon in its own right.

The E30 was the first 3-series to come in a variety of flavors: coupe, sedan, wagon, convertible, and even the funky Baur version. What you see here is one of the finest examples of the saloon — an M-Tech II-equipped late-production model car dumped on BBS RS wheels — but boiling this car down to that would be an injustice to its journey.

THE START OF SOMETHING SPECIAL

In 2018, Pim Vinke brought this car home in a much sadder state. The car had no bumpers, front grille, headlights, side mirrors, and door panels. The body was forty-nine shades of grey, had rust, and was missing most of its glass for reasons unknown to me. All this considered, Pim could see the car’s potential and quickly turned it into the car you see today.

FIRST IMPRESSION TO LASTING MEMORY

Even a quick glance at this car deserves heavy praise. The 15” BBS RS faces paired with double-stepped slant lips were simply destined for this car and the Airlift kit allows them to sit perfectly underneath the E30’s haunches. But looking deeper reveals Pim’s profoundly keen eye for detail.

As a BMW purist, I lost my mind when I saw how much time Pim spent retrofitting factory equipment into his car. Outside, the car received a full once-over to remove rust and been resprayed a handsome shade of Granite Silver from BMW’s own color library. The E30 M3/Touring roof antenna was fitted, and an ever-subtle E36-inspired homemade lip adds that special something to the front bumper. Inside, the retractable roller blind in the rear parcel shelf, “high spec” map light rearview mirror, heated seats, OBC II on-board computer, and the M-Tech II steering wheel will surely tally points from BMW fans. But it’s the center console that takes the cake for me — it’s lifted from a Euro-spec M3 — and features the coveted Electronic Damper Control knob which allows you to toggle three different shock settings (Komfort, Normal, and Sport). Since this car is on air, Pim has repurposed this knob to control three different engine map settings. How cool is that?

MORE POWER, CAPN

I guess through all of this drooling I forgot to mention anything about the engine. The factory M20 2.5-liter motor has been massaged to 2.7 and mixes in more parts from other BMW motors: ETA crankshaft, 320i connecting rods, and 325i pistons. Compression is up from 9.5:1 to 9.6:1 thanks to clever block re-milling, and more aggressive cams (261/261 to 285/285) help shove more air and fuel into the cylinder. 2021 brought a powerplant revision with it — it’s now sporting a DBilas intake manifold with ITBs and a Megasquirt standalone. The setup isn’t out here to set drag records, but make no mistake, the car is no slouch. The Supersprint “spaghetti” manifold/Eisenmann exhaust combination makes it sound the part as well.

THE RIGHT COMBINATION

To be this excited over an E30 in 2023 says a lot. The chassis is forty years old this year and within that timespan, several thousand enthusiasts have tried to do it all. But Vinke has been able to do something here that stands a cut above the crowd; Pim’s combination of style, desire, and die-hard BMW knowledge has created a masterpiece. It’s a car that so successfully bridges the gap between traditional BMW purist philosophy and the ones that throw that rulebook out of the window. I can’t wait to see what Pim has in store for us next.


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