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1984 BMW 318i - Swede For Speed

This BMW racecar has plenty of surprises, including a 500hp Volvo turbo engine.

Jun 6, 2011
Photographer: Anders Odeholm

Scandinavia continues to show us how it’s done. While you might find a few air-bagged VWs or Audis show cars over there, most enthusiasts in countries like Norway and Sweden live for speed, and will do crazy things to achieve it.

Eurp 1106 01+swede for speed 1984 bmw 318i+cover.JPG Photo 2/18   |   1984 BMW 318i - Swede For Speed

Flip back through our archives and you’ll see what we’re talking about. A year ago we revealed a ’74 Ford Escort 1300L with a 522whp Audi motor (et 9/10). Then there was a 500hp ’81 Volvo 245 DL race wagon (et 7/10) and 727hp Audi-engined Porsche 944 (et 4/10) to add to the list. Now, we have another Swedish example with this incredible ’84 BMW 318i.

It looks like a serious E30 racecar with pulled fenders, ten-point rollcage and front-mount intercooler, but under the hood lies an unusual powerplant – a Volvo B230 four-cylinder with a big-turbo, converted to run on E85 ethanol.

The BMW also has a competitive chassis and lightweight theme, making it one of the coolest grassroots racers we’ve come across. And it all goes back to its Scandinavian roots.

Eurp 1106 02+swede for speed 1984 bmw 318i+full view.JPG Photo 3/18   |   1984 BMW 318i - Swede For Speed

“Swedish car guys refer to winter as the garage season,” began Fredrik Göransson, owner of this BMW. He’s from Norrahammar, southwest of Stockholm. As a hardcore mechanic and driver, he spends long winters wrenching, while short summers are spent on the tarmac racing his prized possession.

Such an amazing machine required thousands of hours measuring, designing and fabricating. “The fun part is to locate what parts might work, or figure out what I need to fabricate myself. I like the latter best,” the 33 year-old told us.

Like many raceholics, Fredrik’s story began with karts as a teenager. Once he turned 18, Sweden’s legal age to drive, it was game over. He earned his license and bought this 100hp 318i from a television ad.

Eurp 1106 04+swede for speed 1984 bmw 318i+sparco seats.JPG Photo 4/18   |   Stripped interior with Sparco seats and ten-point cage

For the next 15 years, sweat and tears were poured into the project. In the process, he established a garage filled with hand tools, welders, grinders, saws and even notch machines. It’s almost a small shop!

In stage one of the overhaul, Fredrik eliminated the rust from the body, followed by painting the car red. Later that year, he turbocharged the stock 1.8 liter four-cylinder but it wasn’t fast enough, and was also illegal. “It wasn’t possible to get an aftermarket turbocharged BMW engine through the Swedish Vehicle Inspection. So I built a 150hp Volvo B230 turbo motor so I could title the car with a turbo motor and get more power. The title document now says the stock motor has been replaced with a Volvo engine,” Fred explained.

Eurp 1106 05+swede for speed 1984 bmw 318i+pedals.JPG Photo 5/18   |   Sellholms pedal box

Weird? Yes, but in the search for more power, the Volvo engine made the most sense. Regarding its fitment, there was plenty of room inside the engine bay, and a variety of aftermarket Volvo parts available in Sweden.

Before the new four-cylinder turbo went into the bay, Fredrik strengthened the bottom-end using a forged Volvo marine crank. Verdi rods and JE pistons were thrown into the 2.3-liter, raising the compression ratio to 10.5:1.

With the bottom-end complete, a new valvetrain was added using an 8-valve Volvo 531 head with 46mm stainless intake valves and 37mm Renault exhaust. Then, an Enem cam was installed to open the top-end.

The intake and exhaust manifolds were fabricated by the owner. The header featured a tubular design from 2333 stainless steel, while the 3" intake was made from aluminum. Before the turbo was fitted, a handmade 2" wastegate was included with a Ford Mustang release valve. Fredrik got trickier with a custom 46mm dump valve that used the membrane and housing from an old Swedish airforce jet.

Eurp 1106 03+swede for speed 1984 bmw 318i+interior.JPG Photo 6/18   |   Carbon dash uses VDO gauges and data-logger

With the motor ready for business, turbo selection was next. For high-end power and torque he went with a KX500 turbo consisting of both KKK K26 and K27 parts to enable quick spool and response.

Finishing the ancillaries, Fredrik bought a fuel and ignition system from Ultramotors, which was spliced into the stock harness. He then made his own oil pan, pulleys, power steering tank and ventilation system. A modified water pump and Setrab radiator improved the cooling system, while a front-mount intercooler was pieced together using junkyard parts.

Eurp 1106 11+swede for speed 1984 bmw 318i+exhaust system.JPG Photo 10/18   |   2 1. Not what you’d expect – a 500hp four-cylinder Volvo turbo engine 2. Custom tubular exhaust manifold and wastegate 3. High-flow intake manifold 4. KX500 turbo sits below

Lastly, the exhaust featured a high-flow design using 76mm pipe and a 3" aluminum muffler – handmade, of course.

Feeding the boosted motor required 1600cc injectors and two Bosch 044 fuel pumps. The Volvo engine now only runs on E85 ethanol, which uses about 30% more fuel than pump gas, according to the owner.

Eurp 1106 12+swede for speed 1984 bmw 318i+fuel rail.JPG Photo 11/18   |   3 1. Not what you’d expect – a 500hp four-cylinder Volvo turbo engine 2. Custom tubular exhaust manifold and wastegate 3. High-flow intake manifold 4. KX500 turbo sits below

Fredrik estimated the package produces 500hp at around 27psi – a healthy increase from the original 100hp 1.8-liter, wouldn’t you say?

For the drivetrain, Fredrik kept things in the Bavaria family, sourcing a ZF five-speed manual from a ’92 BMW 3-Series. It was modified to handle the higher power and given a separate cooling system it shared, with the differential. A beefier driveshaft was taken from an ’88 325i.

The madness continued to the chassis, where a ten-point chromoly rollcage stiffened the car and improved safety. The mounting points were integrated into the front and rear suspension mounts.

For the suspension, coilovers were thrown together using ’92 BMW M3 spindles with 60mm springs and Bilstein inserts. The top mounts and adjustable sway bars were custom-made for the car. More reinforcement followed with new chromoly front A-arms, while the rears were modified for camber adjustment.

The brake setup was just as impressive, consisting of 13" front and 12.2" rear Brembo rotors from the Mercedes parts bin. Alcon front and Bremsport rear four-piston calipers provided the clamping force.

Eurp 1106 10+swede for speed 1984 bmw 318i+headers.JPG Photo 12/18   |   4 1. Not what you’d expect – a 500hp four-cylinder Volvo turbo engine 2. Custom tubular exhaust manifold and wastegate 3. High-flow intake manifold 4. KX500 turbo sits below

To finish the chassis, a set of matte black 18" Rondell Design wheels and Bridgestone tires finished the setup. However, Fredrik also has 17" race wheels and Pirelli slicks for track adventures.

With his new wheels and tires, Fredrik widened the front fenders 25mm and pushed out the rear fenders 15mm.

From there, the car went on a diet as Fredrik recreated the doors, hood and trunk in carbon fiber. “It was the first time I’d worked with carbon. It was a challenge but that’s what made it fun,” he told us. Lexan windows were also utilized to save more weight.

“It didn’t need to look like a show car but I thought a new paint job would make it look better,” Fredrik said. Ditching the previous red, the owner resprayed his baby in a Mazda grey metallic.

The interior was more or less stripped, only retaining parts needed for the track. Sparco Pro2000 seats were added, along with a Momo wheel, custom aluminum shifter and Sellholms pedal box. There was also a data-logger and VDO gauges mounted in a custom carbon dash to monitor engine vitals.

“I’m very happy with how it behaves,” Fred concluded. “It’s easy to drive and feels well-balanced.”

The Swede is already onto his next project – a ’67 Camaro with a Toyota V8 swap and AWD conversion. It’s a daunting project but the garage season is long enough!

et Tech Spec
1984 BMW 318i
Owner: Fredrik Göransson
Location: Norrahammar, Sweden
Occupation: Machine Engineer
Engine: ’91 Volvo R B230 4-cylinder engine swap, E85 converted, Volvo marine crank, Verdi rods, JE pistons, 10.5:1 compression, Volvo 531 8v head with 46mm stainless intake valves, 37mm Renault exhaust valves, Enem cam, aluminum intake with 46mm velocity stacks, 1600cc Siemens injectors, dual Bosch 044 fuel pumps, aluminum catch tank with pre-pump, Holley low-pressure pump, KX500 hybrid turbo, bronze-ring water and oil gaskets, 450mm header with 42mm 2333 stainless tubing, 2" wastegate with Ford Mustang valve, 46mm dump valve using aircraft housing and hydraulics, 5-liter oil pan, custom pulleys, crank breather with dual tanks, modified water pump gears, Setrab radiator, custom intercooler, 76mm exhaust with 3" muffler, aluminum power steering tank, Ultramotors software
Drivetrain: ’92 BMW E36 ZF five-speed manual with modified final gear, E30 325i diff, Setrab drivetrain cooler, Tilton cooler pump, modified ’88 BMW 325i driveshaft and ’95 E34 5-Series half-shafts
Brakes: 13" front, 12.2" rear Mercedes/Brembo rotors with Alcon front and Bremsport rear four-piston calipers
Suspension: custom front coilovers with 60mm springs, Bilstein inserts, adjustable top mounts, ’92 BMW M3 spindles, chromoly A-arms, Proflex rear coilovers, reinforced link arms with uniball adjusters, adjustable 40mm front and 30mm rear sway bars, ten-point chromoly rollcage
Wheels & Tires: 18x8.5" front, 18x10" rear Rondell wheels with 225/40 front, 255/40 R18 rear Toyo Proxes R888 tires
Exterior: fenders widened 25mm front, 15mm rear, ’92 BMW M3 C-pillar and trunk lid, 9.9 lb carbon doors, Lexan windows, 8.8 lb carbon hood with scoop, Rieger front spoiler and side skirts, ’91 BMW M3 rear wing, ATL fuel filler, Mazda 25G grey metallic paint, undercarriage painted gloss grey
Interior: Momo suede steering wheel, ‘84 BMW 318i steering column, Wise Unit dash logger, Sellholms floor-mounted pedal assembly, aluminum footrest, flocked carbon instrument panel, VDO speedometer, RPM, water temp and oil pressure gauges, switches for headlights and cooling pump, lap timer gauge, aluminum shifter, Sparco Pro2000 seats with Toora four-point harnesses, deleted rear seats, sound insulation and roof fabric, battery relocated to trunk, gold anodized aluminum cover for Setrab cooler

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