Smashing Tribute:<br /> The 900hp BMW M3 Clone
Don’t Call It A Throwback

Do you ever stop and think about just how good today’s cars have become? They are better than they’ve ever been, and it doesn’t matter which brand you are talking about. Modern automobiles are safer, more fuel efficient, more comfortable and more reliable than those from years past. They are also faster than they’ve ever been. Much faster…


Take a rudimentary family sedan like the Honda Accord for example. Even in basic four cylinder trim, a brand new Accord would be able hang with right some of our favorite cars from the ’80s and ’90s on the drag strip or road course. If you choose to equip a new Accord with the optional V6 engine, then you’ll get the sort of acceleration and performance once limited to the realm of high-end sportscars.


But what does this mean for our favorite performance cars of the past? Cars which were considered fast when new, but today would struggle to keep up with a typical family sedan. The legendary E30 BMW M3 is a perfect example of this. Although its driving dynamics and style is still praised, its on-paper performance might seem disappointing to those spoiled by modern cars.


Many enthusiasts are completely content with enjoying their E30 M3s as they were, and the model’s ever-increasing value can attest to that. But what about those who love the shape and style of these classics, but want performance that’s on par with today’s incredibly fast machines? Stig Helland is one of those people. He’s a 25-year-old from Hellandsjøen, Norway, who likes to spend his free time messing around with old BMWs, including the M3 clone you see here.


Stig had always loved the style of the E30 M3 – especially the car’s aggressive wide body panels. What he wasn’t so fond of was the M3’s S14 engine. He appreciated its traits of course, but knew that a naturally aspirated four cylinder would simply get left behind in Norway’s world of big-power builds.


So last year when Stig had the opportunity to acquire a heavily-modified 1986 325i that combined the iconic look of the E30 M3 with with big time, tire-smoking performance, he couldn’t resist.


At first glance, it just looks like a nicely-preserved E30 M3 with a few aftermarket touches. But as you get closer it becomes apparent that there’s a bit more to it than that.


Keen eyes will begin to notice things like the wider than usual tires, the large-diameter exhaust system and the full rollcage that’s been fitted in the cabin.

Big Power Lives Here

All delusions of this being a stock M3 are erased when you open up the E30’s hood and see a big hunk of BMW inline six with a giant snail hanging off the side of it. The engine itself is an 3.5-litre S38B36 sourced from an E34 M5, and it’s been fully built and prepped for big boost.


The block fit-out includes CP forged pistons with heavy duty pins, a polished crank and forged H-beam rods, while up top in the cylinder head the valvetrain has been strengthened with uprated springs and retainers. The fuel system has been overhauled too and now includes twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps, Precision 1,260cc injectors and a Nuke Performance Blackline fuel rail.


The turbocharger is a BorgWarner S475 race unit mounted on a custom manifold fabricated by JAAS Performance. A 4-inch downpipe sends pressure out through a custom 3.5-inch exhaust system.


Perhaps the biggest external hint at what’s going on under the hood is the front-mounted intercooler and 3-inch piping tucked nicely into the E30’s bumper.


With boost pressure set to 1.7-bar (25psi), the setup is good for exactly 900 horsepower to the rear wheels. But what Stig enjoys even more is the peak torque figure of 849lb/ft. He says that you can put the pedal down in any gear and be treated to instant wheelspin for as long as you desire.


With so much power and torque on tap, it was necessary to bring the rest of the E30’s drivetrain up to spec. The gearbox comes from an E39 5 Series diesel, the clutch is a twin-plate, rally-spec unit from Tilton, and drive is delivered to an E28 M5 differential with heavy-duty axles.


Suspension-wise, the car uses mostly factory E30 M3 components, along with K-Sport adjustable coilovers and Powerflex polyurethane bushings all around.

Style To Match

When it comes to the ever-important wheel and tire combination, there’s a decidedly period-correct look with deep-barrel OZ Hartge wheels that perfectly suit the wide M3 bodywork.


The wheels measure 17×9.5-inch in the front and 17×11-inch in the rear with 215/40R17 and 245/35R17 tires respectively.


Glancing through the spokes of the OZs, you can also see the E30’s upgraded braking system which uses a 330mm K-Sport setup in the front and factory E28 M5 brakes in the rear.


As for the body, aside from the M3 conversion modifications have been kept simple. Why mess with perfection, right?


The aftermarket changes that have been made are subtle – an M3 Sport Evo front spoiler, upgraded Hella lights and a set of DTM carbon fiber side mirrors.


Out back, you’ll find a a carbon fiber rear spoiler along with a set of Startec taillights. The finishing touch is a coat of Zinnoberrot Red paint applied by Øyvind Leiknes.


Inside the cockpit the same sense of simplicity has been carried over. Much of the equipment is standard issue E30 M3, while the steering wheel and shift knob have both been upgraded with M-Tech pieces.


Given the hard driving that this car sees at Gatebil and other track events, the aforementioned rollcage and a pair of Sabelt Racer bucket seats have also been installed.


To call this E30 a ‘sleeper’ might be a stretch, but its subtle styling does little to hint at the the beast that churns beneath its bonnet. I think the way this car manages to combine obscene amounts of horsepower with a show car level of detail is worthy of much praise.


Typically a ‘clone’ or ‘tribute’ car will attempt to at least match the performance of the car it’s trying to imitate, but in this case we have a machine that’s making over four times the horsepower of a stock E30 M3. How’s that for paying homage!

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike

Photos by Peter Kelly
Instagram: speedhunters_pedey



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900HP with Ksport suspension and 215s while in an autopower cage. At least the ar is clean. I mean, tribute cars are never really supposed to be fully functioning version of what they really should be so I guess the goal was met.


lb/ft!!!!!!! what is that! Stig probably said it in Nm!!


Love those wheels! Such an amazing tribute!


nice .... no flair fenders....Enjoy it Men


Is that moisture in the front headlight..? It is annoying me.. :(


AlexAQ '' i guess the goal was met.'', are you serious!? They are posting, in my opinion, one of the most awesome bmw's i've ever seen. It looks brilliantly clean, has 900, NINEFUCKINGHUNDRED, horsepower! And it's red. Hell, i'd give my left nut to burn some tires in this car.


Its an opinion. Have you ever driven an e30 m3? Even with the little bit of power that is foes have the car just seems amazingly balanced. Its so fun. All that power and little 245s. Seams very Formula D. They have built a drift car. I'm just a bit more of a purist so I really appreciate the body lines at least.


I don't get it? Add power and aero, then stretched tires and exaggerated camber, so it cant corner well or put down any power. I guess I don't have to understand.


Brewbert It definitely gets used properly and looks hilariously fun on the track, that's all I need to understand!


WHEW! For a second there when I read "big power" I thought the shoehorned a LS in there, good call on the inline 6. 
Stretched rubber, meh. Lovin the whole package but something about those tail light just seems off, like they weren't meant to be there...oh well...
Tip of the hat on this build.


WoW that is one sweet BMW...


AlexAQ I hate to be a Negative Nancy but I'm with Alex, wouldn't touch that cage with a ten foot DOM pole, especially with that power. This car is "cool" but it suffers from self concept confusion.

Awesome Hartge's though.


Here is a video from 2011 of this car on track - before it was repainted:


BMW S38B36 3.5-litre inline-six (E34 M5),E39 530d gearbox, lightened flywheel, twin-plate Tilton clutch, GS Performance gearbox mounts, custom 3-inch driveshaft, E28 M5 differential, PPF axles,E30 M3 suspension, K-Sport adjustable coilovers, Powerflex polyurethane bushings, 330mm K-Sport big brake kit (front), E28 M5 brakes (rear) - fkn BMW maniac


Love the Hartge's!


RicardoSmits As opposed to the rear headlight?


Just needs some nice wheels/tires and it will be a monster. No point in all that power and no traction.


AlexAQ Agreed, a proper welded cage and some sticky ~275 tires would be awesome. It's so close to being perfect.


buzzboy Absolutely nothing wrong with those wheels. What should it have in your opinion?


Spaghetti buzzboy I did misspeak. The Hartage wheels look great. The excessive camber paired with narrow stretched rubber is what I was really commenting on.


Peter_Kelly Brewbert Yeah can't see any problems there except that I'm not in it!


Camber is adjusted for the Hartge wheels, just for show!! They are not used on the track, and the angles is adjusted so they would fit! When I use the car on the track its with other wheels/tires, and different angles!

The car is built to "drift", have fun sideways at high speed! Thats why it got 900wHp & 1152wNm... 

The cage should have been welded, but I`m not planning to crash it, so we should just hope for the best! 

- Stig


Spaghetti RicardoSmits thats right.. its replaced now..


Set of 17 inch BBS LM's would sit nice!


Red cars with white rims (OZ nonetheless) ftw!!!


K-Sport? after all that other money and quality and then you buy that garbage.. gross


Welp, BMW engines (like the M62 powered S14) sure love to eat boost for breakfast!

Gianluca FairladyZ

StigHelland  Man... That's a crazy machine! Be careful with that monster :)


@youknowitsthetruth In Europe, K-Sport Germany is good, it's TÜV tested. It's the only brand that has TÜV approval for JDM cars for example (TÜV is needed in a alot of EU countries for MOT/approval).
I have no idea about the brakes, but they are really popular. So they cannot be THAT garbage.


I'm not a big Beemer fan: but the E30 is the exception to that rule, especially when it is wearing M3 arches!
Love this build: and the fact it retains OEM+ styling. Good article as well!


Enjoy Speedhunters and appreciate the car, but what happened to the blue pencil on this write up? Surely the copy is read before posting? It's hardly a vast amount of text chaps...


Sweet motor, but stanced/drift.. yawn


motor is pretty =)


MariusEngenSkinnes In the US K-Sport is seen as a knock-off JDM brand by some. Good to know that in Europe they carry TÜV approval. I don't think they advertise that fact over here.


impressed by that boy conversion, first time ive seen an m3 conversion with the rear quarters and bootlid done correctly!


StigHelland Saw the cage and I thought "why the hell would you do a bolt in?" Then again...I drive a convertible hard with no roll bar so I'm not really one to talk. People always ask me "what if you roll it?" and I reply the same thing as you: "just don't crash." 

Nice car !


but new cars are missing the sexiness most of the time


Reading this made my heart beat faster. Thanks for an exciting article with some great shots!


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Nice car but for the love of God get decent sized tyres fitted 900bhp and 245 tyres on the rear you mad !!


I have to say it is really hard to fault an E30 M3 (or clone) and you really can't mess it up, but you you really nailed it. Seeing that M engine in there and keeping it brand appropriate was awesome and the the turbo was icing on the cake and put a big smile on my face. Great job. I am not in love with the wheels by themselves but they work on that car, in spades. But please for the love of God, change the taillights, put some fat tires on it and weld that cage. Otherwise perfection!


These days it'd be a crime to do this to a genuine M3 E30, but when you've done a clone, and even a clone that is as close to the real deal as this (which I originally thought it was), then going to town on the engine and really everything else, is really a no-brainer! But gawd damn is this thing awesome! And imagine the noise this thing makes!