While Americans can complain about the performance cars that don't come here, we should equally breathe a collective sigh of relief for some of the ones we wouldn't want. Top of the list might be the breathless little 316, a carburettored BMW that didn't even merit the "i" for injection designation.
And they didn't just save money on the badge. BMW cut corners everywhere, giving it the cheapest interior, wheels, brakes, etc that money didn't buy. The four-cylinder slug was the entry-point for many aspiring BMW owners in Europe, but don't try to take a steep hill in one!
Fortunately, the owner of this '89 316 wasn't forced to buy it through lack of funds. He got it because the previous owner had converted it to an M3 replica. As a big fan of the M3, he'd seen plenty of video online with turbocharged M3s and wanting some of the action.
As a Swede, 29 year-old Anders Lindström from Halmstad had cut his tuning teeth on a '84 Volvo 244 Turbo. The wind turbine technician bought it when he was 17. "I got a lot of rust for my money," he laughed. "Back then I thought the Volvo was really cool. I was only 17 and had a year before I could legally drive but it became my school in the noble art of metal work and how to tune an engine."
By the time he sold it, the 244T had forged pistons, H-profile rods, big valve head, self-built intake with dual injector rails and a KKK29 turbo. It sat on Koni coilovers with 19x8'' wheels and had Porsche 996 GT2 six-piston brakes.
However, Anders always hankered after a BMW and bought a '96 M3. But his internet searches kept taking him back to the older model: "I think the E30 M3 was the prettiest of all BMW models," he explained.
So on the first day of 2006, Anders braved the harsh Nordic winter for a 600-mile round trip to Stockholm to buy the 316 rolling shell. He paid almost $1300 for the car that was Dakar yellow, had M3 fenders, M3 suspension, a Z3 diff but no engine, transmission or interior. "As soon as I closed the garage doors that evening I knew it would be white with black BBS wheels," he recalled.
Like previous Swedish feature cars, Anders rents a garage at what used to be a mushroom farm. There are several other garages and everybody helps out but he shares it with younger brother Joakim (or Jocke) who was his biggest supporter.
The space has an air compressor, TIG and MIG welders, pillar drill and lots of hand tools, so the pair was well armed to tackle the project. And since propulsion was the first concern, Anders bought a '92 BMW 325i 24v M50B25 engine. "I never dynoed it but think the output was about 450whp with the turbo. It worked great and was fun for a while but eventually it simply wasn't enough for me," he told us.
Next came a '94 E36 M3 S50B30 engine. It was the earlier 3.0 block but this European motor was rated at 286hp. "My plan was to build it with as much power as possible for as little money as possible. But that equation didn't quite work out - M3 engine parts are expensive!" he explained.
Rolling up his sleeves, Anders built the engine himself. It took about six months, but that included waiting four months for US pistons before eventually sourcing forged Wössner pistons from Germany. These lowered the compression to 8.5:1. They ride on H-section rods and the block was O-ringed in preparation for the Holset HX55 turbo with it 68mm inlet and 80mm exhaust housings.
The manufacturer originally intended this turbo to be used on heavy-duty commercial applications with engines of 10- to 15-liters capacity. With its ability to push larger volumes of air, Anders decided to convert the motor to E85 ethanol for both the technical challenge and to gain another 150hp or so.
Because an engine on E85 needs 30-40% more fuel than a gas engine, he replaced the previous 1000cc injectors with larger 1660cc units. He also fitted a Walbro fuel pump in the fuel tank with its own catch tank, plus an additional three Walbro pumps in the spare wheelwell. It's also important to use the correct fuel lines or the ethanol can rot them.
The owner is particularly proud of the exhaust manifold and intake plenum fabricated for the engine. "They turned out absolutely great!" he enthused. He also created the stainless steel exhaust: "It starts with a 3.5'' downpipe, continues into a 3'' pipe and ends in a 4'' diesel tailpipe after passing through the muffler I also built myself."
With most of the hardware in place, Anders mapped the Nira i3+ engine management system. "I did a basic map and it fired on the first try," he proudly told us. The car was then taken to friend Marco Garver at MG Engineering who did the final E85 mapping: "His day job is doing the same at Koenigsegg," we discovered.
Having declared his 450hp turbo motor to be rather dull, Anders reports this motor puts out 682hp at the wheels running 1.4bar (20psi) boost pressure. What's more, it's good for a 10.82sec quarter mile at 142.9mph on a poorly prepared airport strip with no grip. "Finding traction is a real problem. If you hit it hard the wheels will spin all the way up to 120mph!" he explained.
With a '99 Z3 M Coupe limited slip diff already fitted to the car, all Anders had to find was a transmission to cope with the turbo's torque. His solution? A '94 525tds gearbox with an '88 320i flywheel, Sachs four-puck clutch, '96 328i driveshaft and 5-Series axles. It's a unique combintion and the diesel tranny seems to be up to the job so far.
The brakes use the Brembo calipers from a Mitsubishi Evo 6, which Anders traded for parts. He then fabricated custom mounting brackets and adapted B5 Audi RS4 rotors for the front. These sit behind his beloved BBS CH wheels that were one of his two original criteria. These were originally fitted to his BMW daily driver but he felt they'd look better on the E30.
The other stipulation was that the car be white, so friend Benna did both the preparation and spraying. Neither man is completely sure why the trunk interior remained Dakar yellow in our photos, but we're assured it's since been color-matched!
The previous owner had fitted genuine M3 rear fenders, side skirts and rear bumper. He'd even widened the rear to fit wider tires. The front fenders and adjustable rear wing were from the later M3 Sport Evolution, which had wider fenders from the factory. The front bumper is a fiberglass replica with a molded M3 Evolution chin spoiler. Other body mods include classic E36 M3 mirrors and custom hood vents Anders installed to aid cooling.
Inside, he fitted E36 M3 leather front seats and TIG welded his own half-cage in place of the rear seats. "Believe it or not, the seats came from my Volvo - I sold it without the front seats!" he laughed.
Of course, Anders is delighted with his ride. "It's actually pleasant to drive and I'm happy with the suspension setup but I need more grip. The car is capable of leaving just about anything in its dust - I have a friend with a Yamaha R6 and we went for a run one Sunday morning. I beat him good. Twice. Then he gave up," Anders laughed. "I've raced a few cars and bikes since then and nobody ever asked to race three times!"
The owner, builder and driver admitted the project will never be complete. "It will never be finished; it will just get quicker and be more fun to drive."
If money were no object, he'd like to replace the brakes with AP six-piston calipers, get Sparco seats, a datalogging dash, new Volk wheels, replace the turbo, wastegate and intercooler. Hopefully he'll get round to fulfilling his wishes eventually, but in the meantime Anders undoubtedly has the world's wildest BMW 316!
1989 BMW 316
Owner: Anders LindstrÖm
Location: Halmstad, Sweden
Occupation: wind turbine tech
Engine: '94 E36 M3 S50B30 3.0 block, 8.5:1 Wössner low-compression pistons, H-profile SPM rods, O-ringed block, custom adjustable cam gear, modified oil pan, custom thermo-coated tubular 1.5'' exhaust manifold, eight temp sensors, Holset HX55 turbo with 68mm inlet and 80mm exhaust, 60mm wastegate, front-mount intercooler, 3'' stainless pressure pipe, 75mm PPF dump valve, custom aluminum intake, Setrab 30-row oil cooler, custom 3.5'' downpipe, 3'' stainless steel exhaust system, muffler and 4'' diesel tailpipe, Nira i3+ engine management, Bosch 1660cc injectors, Walbro fuel pump plus three external Walbro pumps, custom three-liter catch tank, Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, VAG coil-on-plug ignition, '93 M3 radiator with custom mounts and stainless pipe, custom breather system and aluminum catch can
Drivetrain: '94 BMW 525tds manual transmission with '88 BMW 320i flywheel and Sachs 618 pressure plate and four-puck sintered clutch, '96 BMW 328i driveshaft, '99 Z3 M Coupe differential, 5-Series axles and joints
Brakes: Mitsubishi Evo 6 four-piston front and two-piston rear Brembo calipers on custom brackets, 345mm '02 Audi RS4 front and 294mm '00 BMW 328i rear rotors with modified bolt patterns
Suspension: D2 coilovers, adjustable front top mounts, D2 rear top mounts. Powerflex bushings throughout with eccentric front bushings for more caster, reinforced A-arms with relocated shock mounts, modified inner A-arm mounts for camber adjustment
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5'' front, 19x10'' rear BBS Challenge wheels with 215/35 front, 245/35 R19 rear Hankook Ventus S1 Evo tires for street, 10.5/26-15 MT ET Street for drag
Exterior: BMW M3 Sport Evolution front fenders and rear wing, widened '89 BMW M3 rear fenders, side skirts and rear bumper, fiberglass front bumper with molded Evolution chin spoiler, '94 E36 M3 mirrors, custom hood vents
Interior: '97 E36 M3 leather front seats, rear seat removed, custom half-cage, Sparco suede steering wheel and shift knob, Auto Meter Sport Comp boost and oil pressure gauges, GReddy exhaust temp gauge, MSD Knock Alert sensor, JVC CD player
Thanks: Jocke, Benna, Marco Garver at MG-Engineering, friends at "the Farm"