I have always wanted to build a BMW E30 or E28 the way I wanted it. I have been collecting parts for a possible build for years. When Bob Tunnel from BimmerHaus mentioned he had a long time client selling a 318is and it was without a sunroof, I had a feeling this was it! So the project began.
Jim Leithauser from BimmerHaus started by removing the complete drive train and replacing all worn or “old” parts. He then painted the engine compartment to match the new exterior color and powder coated the sub frames and trailing arms. All engine and driveline components were detailed. Since the 318is needed to be converted to factory E30 M3 5-lug, I was fortunate Jim was able to source the elusive M3 brake calipers as well as many other hard to find parts. With over 800 new parts on the car, obtaining them was a challenge, and parts came from several sources. Most of the parts came from Turner Motorsport with the help of Jason Gannet, and from Jim Kosturik at Laurel BMW of Westmont. I think I overloaded Jim’s inbox several times. ECS Tuning’s website was a huge source of information for specialty parts and Max Everhard was able to have their exclusive Geomet coating on our M3 rotors. Only genuine factory BMW parts were used with the exception of the aftermarket performance parts.
When the E30 arrived from BimmerHaus, we removed the complete interior plus all of the glass, and sent the car off to the amazing Howard at Tri-Star Enterprises. Brand new hood, fenders, front and rear valances, and trunk lid were installed. Over the course of the next few months, every millimeter of the body was gone over until only perfection remained. The BMW received several coats of feurorange II color code U94/2, and with the awesome new paint and over 800 new genuine BMW parts, it’s hard to believe that this is a 26 year old car!
The 318is has been changed from 4-lug to 5-lug wheels using only factory BMW E30 M3 parts. Brand new M3 front struts were custom modified to create a custom H&R height adjustable coil over suspension featuring aluminum rear shocks. H&R Sport front and rear sway bars are also installed. Connected to the suspension are classic BBS E50 wheels. These are brand new wheels specially ordered from BBS, made in Germany, and of course they have the classic magnesium centers. The front wheel size is 17x8.5 and the rears are 17x9.5. Continental Contisportcontact 3 tires size 215/40R17 front and 235/40R17 rear are fitted to the wheels. A Super Sprint stainless steel sport muffler with single 90x70 tip adds the perfect touch to the rear of the car.
Inside, the BMW has a genuine factory brand new dash and carpet set. On top of the carpet sits the awesome Recaro Orthoped seats. These beauties are period correct and fit the project perfectly. They feature electric recline and, my favorite, the Power Climate Package, which includes heating and cooling systems. Also inside, a custom rear seat delete and hand stitched nappa grain roll bar by Jeremy Pilgrim has been added. WeatherTech® floor mats protect the new carpet and add to the correct look of this classic BMW.
After all of the intensive part searching and long hours in the shop, the car has really turned out incredible. The classic lines of the BMW E30 and simplicity of the vehicle layout are even more appreciated today. It all works, just as it always has – making it the ultimate driving machine.
1991 BMW 318is
1.8 liter 4-cyl
5-speed manual transmission
H&R Custom e30 M3 RSS Custom Coil Over
H&R Front 22mm Sport Sway Bar
H&R Rear 18mm Sport Sway Bar
H&R TRAK+® Wheel Spacers
Turner Motorsport front & rear strut brace
BMW e30 M3 aluminum front control arms
Titanium powder coated rear control arms and cross members
BBS E50 wheels, size 17x8.5” front 17x9.5” rear
Continental Contisportcontact 3 tires, size 215/40R17 front, 235/40Z17 rear
BMW e30 M3 front & rear brakes
Custom slotted rotors with ECS Geomet® coating
Goodridge Phantom stainless steel brake lines
Supersprint Performance exhaust
Complete exhaust ceramic coated
Hella Bi-Focus headlamps
Custom paint by Tri-Star Enterprises
Sticky Jewel Graphics
Mequiar’s Car Care Products
Recaro Orthoped seats – Black Nardo & Arista cloth inserts
Recaro base frame for BMW e30
M-Sport leather shift knob & boot
M-Sport leather brake handle
Pioneer digital media receiver
JL Audio speakers & amps
Scosche Accumat sound damping
Custom rear seat delete and hand stitched nappa grain roll bar by Jeremy Pilgrim
WeatherTech® Floor Mats