Subtle In Black: The Turbo E30 Built To Seduce

When you’re engulfed by noise, sometimes you just want to relax, take it easy and enjoy somewhere a little bit quieter for a while…

Players Classic is a visual feast for the automotive enthusiast, and as such it helps you to refine your palette and discover what really appeals to you. The car I’m about to show you would have been all too easily lost amongst the crowds if the owner had left the bonnet on, but luckily for us it was removed and safely stored away somewhere else.

2016 Players Classic Spotlight BMW E30 by Paddy McGrath-2

You’ll have to use your imagination for a minute, but if you were to see this on the street, you’d definitely give it a nod of approval. The E30 is a beautiful car, arguably the best ever 3 Series, so it was a wise decision to retain the factory body lines and not add over-fenders or a wild kit.

2016 Players Classic Spotlight BMW E30 by Paddy McGrath-7

Anyone who has owned a black car will know the struggle of keeping the paint in top condition, so I’m automatically already applying the relevant kudos to the owner for the mirror finish. The Schmidt TH Lines wheels have been rebuilt using new Radinox lips; the extra dish adding a subtle and tasteful exterior detail.

2016 Players Classic Spotlight BMW E30 by Paddy McGrath-6

The party piece though is the tucked engine bay featuring a now turbocharged M50 TU.

2016 Players Classic Spotlight BMW E30 by Paddy McGrath-5

Boost is developed in the form of a twin-scroll Holset HX25 with a 12cm housing, and the owner, Steven Foxall, is aiming for a reliable 400hp at 1.0bar (14.7psi) once the engine gets its final tune. Right now, the car is running on a base map with no issues and plenty of power for the street, but a little bit more never hurt anyone, right?

2016 Players Classic Spotlight BMW E30 by Paddy McGrath-3

The E30’s stance is achieved with a simple adjustable BC Racing coilover upgrade. Steven has retained the factory 325i brakes, but has reinforced them with upgraded pads, discs, braided lines and fluid. It’s not a heavy car and it hasn’t been built for track; just a simple but sweet road car, so it has no issues stopping, especially with the Porsche 944 brake booster installed.

2016 Players Classic Spotlight BMW E30 by Paddy McGrath-4

The interior continues where the exterior lets off, subtle and classy.

2016 Players Classic Spotlight BMW E30 by Paddy McGrath-8

Fixed-back Recaros, TRS harnesses and a half-cage ensure that Steven stays in place when he wants to take that little bit more out of a drive.

2016 Players Classic Spotlight BMW E30 by Paddy McGrath-10

Steven takes a lot of pride in the fact that as much as humanly possible was done at home in his own garage with the help of friends. It’s obviously something we have a lot of respect for here.

People often ask us what makes a car Speedhunters worthy. I think that this E30 shows that you don’t need a huge budget or a crazy engine swap – just some well thought out modifications, expertly applied and a whole lot of love for your project. Passion for you car is far more important than your bank balance or ability to spend.

Simply, any car can be a Speedhunters car.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos



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Wow, what a clean e30.


holy sh*t that`s nice


nice, really nice. I really cannot remember seeing this one at players though to be fair skip and myself were searching for the nearest seating area once we'd gotten through the tunnel then we wandered past the BM headstone to pay our respects!


Saw this outside a local coffee shop where I live. Photographed it, sent it to a friend, didn't realise it was turbo charged! Love it.


Wesley hughes It's immaculate.


@mememe You are correct.


TurboHippie It was around three cars up from mine, at the I Love Bass tent. Must seek out the BM memorial at the Revival.


AlClark It's pretty subtle. Hope you're good, Al!


That engine bay is just immaculate


Inspiration for my 4dr e30 i just bought


Buckets seats, harness and half-cage seem like strange choices for a strictly street car but the whole car looks the goods.


Very very nice, but one question, if I may: Why a cage if it's not going to a track? And an unpadded one at that?


Would like to see a spec list for the engine build... A bit like asking a woman how much she weighs though isnt it. RHD M50 turbo aint no mean feat, especially one thats squeaky clean and tidy looking.


Very nice! :) Perfect black!


Yh I luv merkeedes...


What a beauty! Why are people asking about the roll cage? Almost as if you cannot get into an accident on the public roads? The looks light and makes plenty of power... i would have a cage in it as well for safety


Leroy P To be fair, when going the safety device route you really need to do all three or not at all, IMO.


Which coffee shop was this man? Do you have the photo? Would love I see it


D1RGE I don't think a half-cage is an OTT modification, a lot of people swear by them in fast road applications. In this instance, the cage is behind and above the driver's head so no padding is necessary. If there's ever a situation where the car deforms to the point where the driver's head and roll bar meet, you're probably not going to survive anyways.


One thing led to another really. I really like the look of the rear half cage. Plus e30s aren't great in crashes so it's an added reassurance. I had some recaros in my old s4 and loved them. I thought it made sense with the cage and seats to add harnesses. He nardi wheel is very soon to be swapped out.


Get me on Instagram or Facebook. I'll happily go through a spec list if you wanted


I saw it, we saw it. Though we were a looking at an EK with a very industrial air install.
I think we saw it again on the way out near the Crown Vic.
I thought it was a 28 at first because of a shadow, it's a really nicely presented car, made me miss my old e30...... However I can also attest to the flimsiness of e30's in crashes and saw the half cage and smiled... Ahem.
I'd like to go back to the Memorial and tidy it up a bit, it kind of looked a bit unloved :( very awesome to visit it though, nice to know he is remembered.


it comes down to an E30 325i or an E36 M3 for me. This car does hit the sweet spot


TarmacTerrorist I think it's the front valence that's giving off a e28 feel. Never seen that one on an e30.


Love the early model e30's with chrome bumpers and small tails! What year is this?


Just a correction, the turbo is a HX35


Amazing car! Just bought an e30 325I and was thinking of swapping to an m50 328i. Is there much work in the swap fir a guy with mediocre mechanic skills? Stevenfoxall


Is that manifold custom? I'd like to see more of that beauty.


"The E30 is a beautiful car, arguably the best ever 3 Series, so it was a
wise decision to retain the factory body lines and not add over-fenders
or a wild kit." someone saw that 7tune facebook article :P


Batedawge30 m50 2.8 does not excist. Only a m52 2.8l. and yeah they are harder to swap than a m50 simply because they are obd2.


with a driver that is very reliable car that can drive very well


the car was very good 
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We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Great work : |


Thats the best budget NA swap you can do, just put an M50B25 intake manifold and headers on it, drop some cams in and with a solid tune you get around 220 HP which are quite a lot in such a light car.
Absolutely worth it!

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This is my first time visit here. From the tons of comments on your articles.I guess I am not only one having all the enjoyment right here!