We here at Speedhunters are not shy about our fascination with the radical builds that come out of Scandinavia. With wild engine swaps, complete drivetrain layout changes, the ability to do four-wheeled powerslides and other sorts of madness that toss convention completely out the window, we’re sure you can understand why too. In fact, you could pretty much call ‘Scandinavian’ its own genre of car modification.
But for as much we love the insane driving and extreme engine swaps that Scandinavia is known for, we definitely appreciate the subtle and more detail-oriented machines this region is home to as well.
Last year we found an especially clean AE86 Levin to demonstrate this other side of the scene, and now we’ve got an equally special BMW E30 to share.
This 1989 325i is owned by Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson and it has to be one of the cleanest E30s that’s ever appeared on the pages of Speedhunters. It might be 25 years old, but you certainly couldn’t tell from the BMW’s condition.
While we dig well-preserved old cars here, we weren’t attracted to this car just because of its condition. Nope, there’s gotta be more to it than that. And there is – much, much more…
Fredrik has always had a thing for E30s and acquired the car back in 2010. He then proceeded to do a few basic modifications before starting to restore the drivetrain and body. Originally he planned on just refreshing the engine and repainting a few body panels, but eventually he found himself giving the motor a ground-up rebuild and fully repainting the body. The more time Fredrik spent with the car, the bigger his ambitions grew.
Fredrik says his goal was to create a ‘new’ BMW E30 – restoring and upgrading key areas to his standards, without taking away from the attributes that made him love the car in the first place.
Take the interior for example – there’s just something about the cockpit in Fredrik’s E30 that speaks to the ‘simple is best’ ideal.
There’s no crazy rollcage, no aftermarket bucket seats – nothing extreme at all really.
Instead, we are treated to a spotless and beautifully-maintained cabin, which save for a few suede upholstery upgrades here and there could easily have come from a BMW brochure circa 1989. And that was the intention all along.
Perhaps it’s because I love the simplistic interior designs of the 1980s, but I could stare at these photos all day… The E30’s basic, but attractive cockpit is certainly one of the reasons these cars still enjoy so much popularity today.Preservation With A Dose Of Style
The Alpine White exterior of the BMW has been treated with similar attention to detail. There are few upgrades like Touring model sideskirts and black Hella headlamps, but for the most part the simple, classic looks of the E30 have been retained.
Fredrik did give the chassis some attention, fitting the BMW with upgraded bushings throughout and a pair of strut braces in the front and rear. To tighten up the handling and get the car sitting closer to the ground, he also fitted a set of adjustable D2 Racing coilovers.
When it came time to fit wheels, the vision called for something that would look stylish and aggressive, but not dilute the E30’s period-correct appearance. Which is why Fredrik settled on a set of custom BBS RFs.
It’s very hard to argue with the looks of a classic, five-spoke multi-piece wheel on a car like this. The bronze red centers also a do a nice job of contrasting the white body without overpowering the exterior.
The refinished wheels measure 16 inches in diameter with nine-inch wide barrels in the front and 10-inch barrels in the rear. Tires are 205/40R16 up front and 215/40R16 out back.NA Vibes
Despite what we’ve already seen, the real fun begins when you remove the hood and take a look in the engine bay. No, you won’t find a twin turbo V12 or custom-fabricated AWD system as is the local fashion.
Instead, you’ll see a traditional M20B25 straight six that’s been completely rebuilt with a goal of strong, naturally aspirated performance and mechanical beauty. Fredrik wanted the power and growl of the M20 combined with a clean and simple exterior.
First, some of the goodies you can’t see – a fully balanced bottom end, chromoly retainers, an ENEM 295-degree camshaft, heavy-duty rocker arms, along with machined pistons and oversized valves.
Then the stuff you can see – a custom individual throttle body setup which uses E36 M3 3.2 EVO throttles welded onto an M20 flange. Fredrik tells me fabricating and tuning the ITBs was by far the most challenging part of the build. The result was well worth the effort though, because no matter how times you see them, there’s no denying the visual impact that a row of shining trumpets brings.
Altogether, the engine setup is good for 225, sweet sounding naturally aspirated horsepower – a significant upgrade from what the car came with from the factory. At the same time, the classic straight six character has been fully preserved.
But it’s not just the performance upgrades that set the car off. It’s the way the engine bay has been completely stripped down and shaved the wiring (also note some plumbing had not yet been installed at the time of the photoshoot). Plans originally called for a white engine bay, but Fredrik quickly he decided to add a second color for a bit of contrast. After going through many color charts, he settled on the handsome bronze hue you see here – the same color used on the BBS wheel centers.
It might not have a crazy swap with multiple power adders and enough torque to uproot giant redwood trees, but the stunningly-clean engine bay draws crowds for a completely different reason.
And it’s really that whole philosophy that has helped set Fredrik’s BMW apart in a scene that is home to some of the craziest machines on earth.
With the sensory overload that this part of the world and its mind-bending cars bring, it’s sometimes nice to step back and look at the simpler things.
Fredrik’s E30 may lack the wild backyard fabrication and hoontastic nature that have come to define Scandinavian car culture, but the passion behind this little BMW is more than equal to those sideways, tire smoking beasts.
Then again, being the car obsessed Swede that he is, Fredrik says he hasn’t completely ruled out swapping a 20B rotary into his E30 and that’s an idea for the future. Why would we expect anything different?
Photos by Larry Chen
Fredrik Andersson’s E30 BMW 325i
BMW M20B25 inline six, fully balanced bottom end, machined pistons, chromoly retainers, ENEM 295-degree camshaft, heavy-duty rocker arms, oversized valves, VEMS Plug ‘n Play system, custom individual throttle body setup using E36 M3 EVO throttle bodies and custom flange, fully shaved and detailed engine bay
Getrag 5-speed manual transmission, upgraded limited slip differential
D2 Racing adjustable coilovers, upgraded bushings, front and rear strut braces
Custom BBS RF 16×9-inch (front) 16×10-inch (rear), 205/40R16 (front) 215/40R16 (rear) tires
BMW Touring sideksirts, Hella black headlights
Original interior with custom suede inserts