An E30 M3 With DTM Aspirations
To Modify, Or Not To Modify?

In which camp to you belong? Are you a purist, or do you think of yourself more of a realist? When it comes to cars, there’s the age-old debate between keeping special models from history stock, or giving in to temptation and modifying them. Of course, there are variations of each way of thinking, but what would you do?

I myself take more of a practical approach to things and believe that adding a touch of modernity to an older car is both beneficial for performance and safety. Things like brakes, suspension and tyres come to mind first, but it goes way further than this. When things break, if you have the chance to replace with components of better quality, why wouldn’t you?


If you’re talking about a valuable historic dream car you’re probably not going to meddle for fear of losing future value, but if your older collector car is something that you want to enjoy on the track, then why the hell not?


It’s safe to say that Yoshihara-san, the owner of this BMW E30 M3, wasn’t at all concerned with keeping things original when he started modifying. The only reason he has the car is to drive it fast both on the road and track, and with that came the need to evolve it.


It was at the final Battle Evome event of the 2015/2016 season that I came across this car, and the moment I saw it I knew what I had to do. After politely asking if it would be okay to take a little of his time to shoot the M3, Yoshihara-san and I met up after the event at the back of Tsukuba Circuit. There, through my viewfinder, I began capturing every detail, starting off with something we see a lot of in Japan: Volk Racing TE37s fitted to BMWs. RAYS’ most track-focused rims complement new and old BMWs alike, and especially so when shod in 255-section Yokohama Advan A050s.


The 17-inch forged wheels hide an AP Racing setup at each corner – 6-pot calipers at the front and 4-pots at the rear – to provide sharp and effective stopping power for the lightweight M classic.


Yoshihara managed a 1’01″423 on the day – not his fastest time at the Tsukuba, but still seriously impressive for what is in essence a street-registered weekend car.


Time has been taken to ensure the M3 is perfectly set up to attack the challenging corners of tracks like Tsukuba and Fuji, not to mention occasional fun drives on some windy mountain roads, of which there are plenty an hour or two outside Tokyo. At the front is a sturdy carbon lip splitter that extends well under the engine to clean up airflow beneath the car.


A pair of carbon canards are mounted at the corners of the carbon fiber bumper, helping transfer some downforce onto the front axle.


The mirrors replace the square stock items in an attempt to interfere less with the air passing over the profile of the car, but I’m sure they were added more because of the way look, completing what is a well-executed track feel. And there’s a lot going on under the surface, like the fact that the E30 uses FRP doors to shed a ton of weight at the very centre of the chassis, plus Lexan windows all around.


The rear wheels and tyres are tucked under the gently rolled fenders to get the geometry of the BMW just right, something taken care of by J Craft who did most of the work on the car. The shop’s original adjustable coilovers along with matched springs rates – 12kg/mm up front and far harder 26.8 kg/mm coils at the rear – form the basis of the suspension upgrade, with ARC sway bars preventing any type of roll even through the faster turns.

Made In Japan, So Aero Is A Must

Add a brutally functional stance like Yoshihara-san has and it really becomes hard to argue that performing modifications on a sought after performance classic like the E30 M3 is sacrilegious.


Inspiration was drawn from the E30s that raced in the DTM during the E30’s heyday, keeping most of the body stock-looking and concentrating on slashing as much weight as possible.


But when the time came to address the rear end, the extended wing that Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschraft M3s ran on their stock boot spoilers was just not going to cut it. This is Japan after all – the land of the GT wing!


Looks-wise, there is a lot this M3 brings to the table, so it would be an absolute pity if you lifted the lightweight FRP hood and found a stock engine under there…


That’s definitely not the case though. Yoshihara-san had given even more attention to this aspect of the build, so get ready as the list of mods is quite long!


Unlike many Japanese tuning shops that simply modify from parts catalogues, J Craft is more of a motorsports outfit, and therefore has a well-equipped engineering department. This means the staff are able to design, machine and test their own parts, and that includes a lot of stuff that went into this particular engine. First of all they sourced an BMW Motorsport block, which was then bored and honed, and fitted out with a J Craft original 2.7L stroker crankshaft, H-section connecting rods and Omega oversized pistons. Meanwhile, the cylinder head was ported and polished and fitted with Motorsport valves and springs, and J Craft 316-degree cams on both the intake and exhaust sides.


There are so many other cool details too, like the special and study ladder frame that J Craft machined to provide even more bottom end strength. Fuelling is handled by a custom-wired MoTeC engine management system, controlling a set of new-generation Denso injectors.


Yoshihara-san managed to source an authentic BMW Motorsport Group A carbon induction box, which supplies the four individual throttle bodies with an equal amount of air. It still has its original certification numbers on each of the runners, which is a really neat touch.


The box looks very impressive sitting in the simple yet well appointed and very tidy engine bay.


Yoshihara-san further worked on the intake by connecting the Group A box to a secondary carbon scoop that directs air from the M3’s grille for a ram-air effect once the car is travelling at speed.


Not that you see it due to the engine’s factory-tilted position, but the exhaust side runs a J Craft stainless steel manifold connecting up to a barely-silenced and definitely not catalysed titanium exhaust system that was custom-fabricated for the project. The sound is amazing.

Even slowly driving around, you know the lumpy idle means business!


It all combines to make a very healthy 310ps with a punchy 314Nm of torque on call in the mid-range. For a car that hits the scales at 1020kg, that is serious performance potential; much of the potency coming from the fact that Yoshihara-san is able to shift gears almost instantaneously through a 6-speed Quaife sequential transmission.


So yes, this isn’t exactly a regular M3.


But you know there is more awesomeness hidden away in the cabin…


Something you quickly see when you poke your nose through the little opening on the Lexan driver’s side slide window.

Operative Word: Fun

With this being a car built primarily for fun, there is only one seat – a Recaro SPG equipped with Sabelt 4-point harnesses. This tells you all you need to know about Yoshihara-san’s M3; passengers need not apply.


Seeing as the ageing E30 chassis was lacking a tad in the torsional rigidity department, Yoshihara killed two birds with one stone and fitted a not so intrusive custom chrome-moly, welded-in rollcage.


The factory dashboard remains, but the stock instrumentation has given way to a large Stack tachometer with a variety of Omori meters around it. The center console houses a few switches for the electrical system as well as for the transmission cooler, but the centerpiece has to be the Quaife digital gear indicator.


Admittedly, the interior is still one area that needs some work. With so much custom wiring having gone into getting every thing to work just right, there is a lot of tidying up that needs to happen underneath the dash itself. Not that anyone would really notice mind you; with so many trick parts and custom bits adorning the interior, this small shortcoming is easy to miss.


Here you get a good look at one of the carbon-Kevlar cards that are fixed onto the inside of the FRP doors, as well as the gusseting on the driver’s side door cross-bar.


In building this car, Yoshihara-san has created a unique and collectable track machine. It’s not an immaculate period-correct example, but rather a modded and honed machine built for only one specific job. Who is anyone to argue with that? As long as Yoshihara is enjoying his car in the way he sees fit, purists can go and get all upset elsewhere.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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Thank you for this feature!!!!!
That side profile shot is incredible....well done, sir!


Thanks Dino! It's articles like these that reassures me that going against the grain and personalizing a vehicle to YOUR liking is the most important part of any build.


This is my kind of E30. That engine is really epic!


@SW1 hahahhaa That was the first pic I downloaded to the desktops folder :)  Seriously, it looks like an official BMW catalog beauty shot! I'm utterly in love with this car. One of the best this year for sure. Thank you Dino, some of your best pictures are in this shoot. Fantastic car and work.


How amazing would this be at some European hillclimb events? *faints*


Oh that videos... Make some noise please!


D1RGE Thanks man!:)


this car is fucking badass.. and I typically go meh when looking at euro offerings.


@researchisyourfriend One statement I cannot disagree on :)


LucaProdan Brum brum hehe


jungle168 It sure is!


This is like the European cousin to the 555 GC8 widebody subie posted recently. Same color and wheels!!!

On another note, there's just something about the Japanese design/aesthetic sensibility that is just unmatched in this world. That goes for cars, food, fashion, comics etc...

Love the story Dino, keep up the great work!


A photo with this M3 and the 555 Subie would be photo of the year!!

turbo BEAMS ae86

this why i come this site


@turbo BEAMS ae86 :)


@Scuderia Thanks, and I'll definitely try:)


What colour is this?


One of the best E30 M3's that i have seen! Nice work! BTW thanks for share that beautiful M3 with us speedhunters_dino :)

Jeroen Willemsen

So good Dino, thanks for posting!!

Question Answered

@e30 Looks like the factory red. Brilliantrot.
BMW's usually have the color + color code on a sticker on their driver side strut housing in the engine bay.
Picture #18:


Two time attack cars with nicer red paint-jobs than most of the new cars on the dealership lots today! wow - massive respect to the 555 Impreza and this stunning E30. Even if everything was stock, the exterior is perfection, the fact that it's a badass track car that is street legal just takes the cake!


speedhunters_dino This M3 reminds me of the E30 Chassis that was at Studie when you had the KW Suspension installed on your Bimmer. Beautiful car with the perfect modifications. Two Thumbs Up!


@Question Answered That's hilarious that the code is actually photographed for this learning experience! 

I think I am officially calling Brilliantrot the most amazing name ever for color codes and will claim that this red looks better than practically anything else I can remember seeing in person.

Ferrari red used to have that bite to it and this has it in a similar way but a bit more orange and a bit more magento. I love red cars but never thought I would own one myself, it's just too loud, but I now think that this is the color that I need to paint a Datsun S30.


speedhunters_dino I come on this site for DIRFT COAR :) (yes i meant to spell it like that)


I was afraid to find a Toyota or Nissan engine of that car...


Beautiful M3 and great article Dino!  As an M3 owner myself I love seeing different iterations of M3's and this one is just so so good from all aspects!  I'm actually surprised the S14 is still in there to be able to compete with the other high HP machinery to be honest?  When I first saw this article I was thinking for sure a swap- but it sounds like stroking it to 2.7 and on MoTec did the job for him!  I love everything about this from the lexan windows to the add on aero and the business only interior.  There are countless nods to its DTM history as well and that to me is one of the best parts of this build.  The only item I wish you could hear on the video is the sound the carbon intake makes when that S14 is at WOT- it is unreal and very addicting!!   Bravo on the article and even more credit to the owner- absolutely fantastic.


My dream car is an FQ340 Evo 8. Prices are rising pretty rapidly here in the UK, and I'll need to save like fuck tbh. But when I own one, I'm gonna do what I want to it, because I'm bothered about resale value. Id never want to sell thay thing. I'll have waited too long to give it up




This would be a great car to drive through the mountains of North Carolina!


Beautiful E30 there.


@qwertyuiop  ~pats on back~ It's okay...


90nissanS13@my350z Through any sort of nice road I'd say :)


LukeEVOVIII Hope you get there quick and start enjoying it!


E30M3 Robb You are right about the sound at WOT, unfortunately I was shooting stills at the time but I guess I better start mounting a GoPro onto my 1D body haha


Gendou_kun travesty!


@Sway5000 speedhunters_dino Yeah that thing was nuts! Studie has so many customers with awesome cars, I just need to keep digging


@Jeroen Willemsen My pleasure Jeroen!


CharlesChris15 speedhunters_dino OK ok I'll get some of those for you next then...;)


*slow hand clap* ... Dino, this is such a cool find. I love all the JDM goodies. I imagine all these mods on other cars, fc, mr2, 300zx, but the fact that these mods were done to an M3 to be used on track and not some garage queen, priceless.


Possibly my favorite feature ever! Anymore info on the wheel/tire setup? It appears that he is running staggard offsets with the concave pair up front?


That Gauge set up>DROOL>....What would speed hunters do without Dino's write ups?...........


Best modified m3 ive ever seen, so stoked you guys finally featured this.


I was gonna say he should've fitted an EVO II wing instead of that GT monstrosity but then I realised that this is an e30 m3 not a 190e :P


why is that the worst wing I've ever seen

screams nothing but rice, the gt wing+stock wing combo is horrible


I'm amused on the fact how he thinks that that monstrosity of a "GT wing" he has on there is "better" than the extended wing the BMW DTM teams put on.

It's possibly the worst E30 tail end I've seen, the double wing setup is idiotic

also he has no racing line


Every detail is thought out and purposely improved. I'd take the GT wing off for non track use but that's just me.

BTW....those harnesses are mounted in a manner that are highly likely to cause spinal compression fractures.


So this is an inline 6, not a 1.8,correct?


I read the headline and thought "2JZ..." and even after reading and scrolling I thought Dino was saving the purists from the cringe factor by posting the engine bay shots way further down..
Epic build!


mike bonez inline 4


Anyone else spotted the draught excluder/door rubber used in a strange place? Wonder how much difference it makes U0001f604


Must be like shooting fish in a barrel Dino


"RAYS Volk Racing TE37 17×9-inch (front/rear), Yokohama Advan A050 255/40R17 (front/rear)"

.... would like to know his wheel offsets - seems to be different front and rear


Damn, that profile gave me heart palpitations. Sticking with the S14 was definitely a surprise. Great build!


with the old style car that looks good on the road if you want to have