1990 BMW E30 318iS Project Turns Into S54 Powered Track Car

I’ve a little reluctantly come to the conclusion that this E30 318iS project is unlikely to get to the front of the restoration queue much before it becomes eligible for free road tax and I’m prepared to move it on to allow someone else a shot at building a very tidy 318iS.

I’m not going to feed you all the baby M3/prices are only going one way/better than a 325i/investment potential bullshit and I’ll assume that you know what an E30 318iS is and how much more unusual it is than the ubiquitous E36 318iS.

If not, it’s a sporty 16 valve E30. Quite sought after, it does perform nicely and very differently from the six cylinder cars. Revvy and peppy, it is quite an enjoyable drive. Only manufactured for about a year in 1990/91 it is one of the rarer E30 variants.

What is for sale?
It’s a very good, solid 318iS rolling shell. Effectively all the iS bits – except the black headlining – have been removed – believed stolen, but the removal of the engine certainly doesn’t give the impression that it was done by thieves.
A known good 97000 mile M42 with all ancillaries, loom, ECU etc. This will bolt in and once done, the car will drive. Everything required to get the car mechanically sorted is there. There are even some duplicates/spares.
A pair of 51mm vented disc front struts – it’s on 45mm struts just now.

What does it need to complete it?
Interior – we’ll have some bits which I’ll include, but it definitely needs seats and door cards
Dash
Front valance and bumper – I might have one
IS lip – I can get new for about £100
Wheels. It’ll come on four slave wheels
N/s rear quarter light
Other bits and pieces

But it’s a rare opportunity to buy a good solid two door genuine iS shell with some desirable bits – not least the complete 318iS running gear M42 engine gearbox, prop and diff, 51mm front struts, black headlining etc. Think of the value of the parts alone and it’s a good deal, never mind the good iS shell.

I’d consider an E30 convertible or a Baur or any other interesting classic (BMW preferably, but not necessarily) in px/swap too.

Sensible offers bearing in mind what’s on offer will be entertained. Stupid offers will be ignored. If you make an offer and don’t hear from me, you can assume it was a stupid one.

Introducing Project “No Bother’ – S54 Engined Track Focussed Car – Part 2

When I advertised this for sale, it was specifically on the basis that we were unlikely to have the time to build it up ourselves and it was really combining  two existing  projects together to free up some workshop space and time.

We had a good wee 318i convertible that I had acquired the 318iS running gear for, with the intention of building another car that BMW should have built – the 318iS convertible –  but, at about the same time as the shell appeared, I decided that the convertible would be better kept as a 318i.  It has low owners, low mileage and lots of history.

Anyway, I turned the two into one complete 318iS project and advertised it for sale.  Two chaps from a local garage  – one of whom I have known for a wee while – came to see it.

They were building a track car for a customer who had provided them with a V8 powered two door shell that he had bought – more of this shell later.  They had examined the shell and suggested to the customer that  it was looking likely that it would be more trouble to repair than it was worth and suggested to their customer that he should find a better shell.

They came to see this one, examined it, and declared it to be ideal for their customer’s intended purpose.  

Later the same day, their very enthusiastic sounding customer called and we discussed it in some detail.  He was of the view that his garage weren’t terribly keen on welding and much more interested in the mechanical side of the build and asked if we could prepare the shell to his spec and the two chaps who came to view it would then build the car into this shell.

No bother.

I spoke to them before agreeing, and far from being unhappy with that course of action, they were very keen, so from the starting point of  intending to reduce the projects we had to complete, I had managed to take on another one, but it was only a light refurbishment of an already sound shell.  It won’t take long!

E46 M3 Powered E30 – Project “No Bother” – Part 3

So, what our now mutual customer wanted was a bare bodyshell, repaired as required, and rustproofed for delivery to the garage who were going to build his car for him.

We started by getting absolutely everything stripped off the car and mounting the bare shell on our own custom made spit  and repairing what rust we could find in the sills, inner flitch panels, floor and footwells, transport pads etc.

Our custom spit allows 360 degree access to all areas and makes repairs so much easier. We have fitments for both E30 types and E24/28 too.  It also makes moving a wheelless shell much easier.

 

Once the shell was repaired,  the customer explained that the other garage weren’t all that keen on welding and asked if we could do some strengthening and weld in a roll cage that had been removed from the other shell.

No bother.

The cage was delivered and we spent a good part of a  morning trying to get it to sit in place. it just wouldn’t go in.

Then I checked the other shell.  No sunroof! That’ll be it then.  So, after discussion with the customer, who’s vision for the car is to try to make it look as much like a standard 318iS as possible, we shortened the cage and fitted the rear half in place.

We fabricated fillet plates to brace the strut tops to the inner wing, like on the factory convertible and welded these in place.

We shortened the front half of the cage to fit and needed to manufacture some pads for the floor to make it secure.  I was concerned that there might be very restricted head room with the front half of the cage in place and suggested to the customer that as it was to be a road legal, road looking,  and road useable track day car, it might be better to fit just the rear half cage. Another benefit would be to allow a fully trimmed interior and a full dashboard – without the cage requiring it to be butchered – to be fitted.  He was having none of it.

We found some Bilstein coilovers and the customer bought them.  At this stage, he thought it “might be easier” if we were to carry on with the build and deliver to the garage, a repaired, rolling shell, with the roll cage fitted.

No bother.

 

Project “No Bother” – Part 4

So, now the project that we were selling because we didn’t have the time to undertake another project is starting to grow into a bit of a project.

To recap, the shell is stripped,  rust free, the rear half of the roll cage is in, but the front isn’t,  and now we have to acquire, build and fit front and rear suspension in order to deliver the bare rolling shell to the garage who are going to complete the build.

We have already acquired Bilstien coilovers front and rear, and we keep strengthening pieces in stock for the front crossmember – around the engine mount and the ARB mounting points. So,  one of our strengthened front crossmembers was welded up and sent for powdercoating.

We have laser cut diff mount strengthening plates too and a rear beam was removed from the powdercoating pile, the strengthening plates welded in and the rear beam sent for powdercoating too. You can see the extra strengthening in these photos.

We acquired an E46 purple tag steering rack – which is an astonishing modification and if you use an E30 day to day, you really ought to do it – and we collected all the bushes, new bottom arms, rear trailing arms etc., required to build up the suspension and turn the shell into a bare rolling shell.

“I think I’d like it painted. Can you get your paintshop to paint it and can you build the painted shell up so that we deliver a fully painted, clothed rolling shell to the garage for them just to fit the running gear?”

No bother.

The bare shell acquired a pair of doors, bonnet and bootlid, a set of glass, bumpers, trim, a new front valance, lights and an iS lip.

All of these were sent with the car – still on our spit –  to be painted inside and out in the original Brilliant Red.

“The guys in the garage are really busy, while you’re building up the bodyshell, could you maybe run the fuel lines, brake lines and stuff, fit the fuel tank and brakes etc., so that it is really just the engine conversion that the guys need to do?”

No bother.