We want an E30 M3; hell, who doesn't? And if we ever had the chance to own one, that alone would probably be enough. But not Peter Saint George Davis.
The E30 M3 was always his dream car. "There was nothing like it," he said. "Its hips and wide lines... it really stood out." But once he got his hands on one, this Euro icon received an update more radical than most might envisage.
Before buying his M3 a decade ago, Peter owned a '91 E30 325i convertible. He found a 321hp Euro-spec E36 M3 3.2 S52B32 Evo engine for it in England but, before the motor arrived, the opportunity arose to buy this clean E30 M3.
Finding the car online, Peter drove from his home in White Plains, NY to Philadelphia that day. He bought the '88 M3 on the spot and drove it home; his teenage dreams still alive into his 40s.
Having already sourced the 3.2 engine and tranny, it was perhaps inevitable that he'd swap out the stock 2.3 liter four-banger for the larger and more powerful inline-six.
The Euro-spec S52B32 was installed using Treehouse mounts, with a custom driveshaft ensuring power got from the six-speed to the axle.
For extra power, Peter imported a carbon air box from Europe that apparently produces "an insane noise!" A pair of 284° Schrick cams was fitted along with a custom stainless steel Tri-Flo exhaust from B&B Fabrication. VAC Motorsports then installed a KMS stand-alone ECU once they'd removed the double-Vanos system and mass airflow sensor.
Without exact numbers, Peter estimated around 300hp to the wheels. While this may not sound excessive, he claims to have no problem keeping pace or even pulling on a Subaru STi or Mitsubishi Evo - he loves to see their faces when his little E30 gives 'em a run for their money!
Since he knew that he wanted this car to handle like a go-kart, Peter had Rui Azevedo from Azevedo Motorsports reinforce the strut towers while the engine was out. He did this by using strut towers from an E46 M3, which were welded in-and smoothed.
Peter took the opportunity to paint the bay at this point. Being a fan of candy apple red, it was considered but rejected in favor of something more mature - preferring House of Kolor's Brandywine to do the trick.
The same color was applied to the M3 Evo 2 front spoiler with carbon splitter and M3 Sport Evo rear wing with carbon Gurney flap. He even continued the Brandywine theme to his choice of 18x8.5'' front and 18x9.5'' rear HRE 540 wheels, painted by The Wheel Doctor in Elmsford, NY.
To compliment the new shoes, Peter increased stopping power with a pair of 330mm Brembo drilled rotors and four-piston calipers up front. He painted these gold to pop off the burgundy paint job.
Finally, the desired stance was achieved with H&R coilovers. These were fitted in combination with camber plates and Sparco front sway bar.
The next focus was an interior makeover. Instead of race seats and harnesses, the stock seats remained but Everlast Upholstery in Linden, NJ reupholstered them in a two-tone theme of burgundy leather with tan alcantara inserts. The same materials were also used on the door cards, while the headliner was covered in alcantara. "I wanted the interior to be over the top." Peter said. "If I could have walked into a dealership and ordered it like this, I wouldn't change a thing."
You could probably predict the owner would also improve the in-car entertainment. Controlling the tunes is a Pioneer N2 in-dash nav head unit, which fires through two Orion amps to Infinity component speakers and two 10'' subs in a custom trunk enclosure.
One look at this car, with every element modified to the max, you'd imagine it could easily hold its own at shows. "I built this car for me," he said. "It's never been to a show. I use it on weekends. It was built to enjoy and to be driven."
If you are wondering how the car handles on the track: "She's a princess and will never see the track," was the owner's response. So you can probably guess how BMW purists feel about this: "They hate me," Peter admitted, "But that's the point. I'm not a conformist. I'm not a drone. I march to my own beat and didn't build this car to impress anybody else. I built it for me."
In case you're suggesting the owner is afraid to risk his unique M3 on the track, he mentioned his commitment to motorcycle racing, admitting that was his number one hobby. "I like driving this car more than anything, though. Just sitting there and looking at it makes me smile," he told us.
Love for his car has pushed Peter to envisage new ways to improve the M3. His next goal is to install an M5 V8 and add twin turbos. Like many of us, Peter has seen the E30 M3 V10 but claims that for size and weight, the V8TT will be lighter and provide better power and torque.
With that kind of investment, Peter could undoubtedly buy a new M3 but he'd prefer to put his time and money into this car and keep the E30 dream alive.
Engine: 3.2-liter European-spec S52B32 E36 M3 Evolution I-6 with Schrick 284° cams, carbon airbox, custom B&B Tri-Flo exhaust, KMS stand-alone ECU, double-Vanos and mass airflow sensor deleted, Treehouse engine mounts
Drivetrain: Euro E36 M3 six-speed transmission, UUC short-shifter, custom driveshaft
Brakes: 330mm Brembo front rotors and four-piston calipers, stock rear
Suspension: H&R coilovers, camber plates, Sparco front sway bar
Wheels & Tires: 18x8.5'' front, 18x9.5'' rear HRE 540 wheels with 215/35 ZR18 front, 235/35 ZR18 rear BFGoodrich g-Force tires
Exterior: M3 Evo 2 front spoiler with carbon fiber front splitter, M3 Sport Evo rear wing with carbon Gurney flap, Xenon head- and foglights, painted House of Kolor Brandywine, color-matched emblems
Interior: stock seats and door cards in burgundy leather and tan alcantara, alcantara headliner, sunvisors, sunroof cover and rear shelf
Audio/Visual: Pioneer N2 head unit, Infiniti Kappa 5.1 component speakers, two Orion West Coast amps and crossovers, two 10'' subwoofers
Thanks: Azevedo Motorsports, VAC Motorsports