Chasing The One: 48 BMW E30s & Counting…

Dream cars rarely become more attainable or affordable with time. They usually end up like many desirable things in life, with the cost becoming inflated well beyond average means. Just look at the air-cooled 911 market…

For me, the list of cars I’d like to own has only grown as I’ve gotten older. I’ve been able to own a few of them, but most have simply fallen off the list.

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

Adam, the owner of this BMW E30 M3, is someone who actually purchased their dream car. But it wasn’t as straightforward as it sounds.

Speedhunters - M3 - 1 - 5 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

Rewind to one morning during the 2017 SEMA Show. While milling around the outside area looking for a noteworthy build in a sea of mall crawlers and Bluetooth driveshafts, I stumbled across very cool E30 M3 – with Saskatchewan/Canadian plates to boot.

Speedhunters - M3 - 1 - 5 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

A few days later while shooting an LS-swapped 996, I mentioned the E30 to the Porsche’s owner. It turned out that he knew the BMW’s owner.

Fast forward a bit, I found myself heading down the Trans-Canada Highway on my way to meet Adam and see what his ‘God’s Chariot’ was all about.

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

We all know someone who’s owned a crazy number of cars, and Adam is definitely one of those people.

I asked him to name a few, and this is what I got: “48 BMW E30s, including an example of every year model released in North America including a Touring, nine BMW E36s, four BMW E39s, three BMW E10s, one BMW E28 and one E12, 14 Toyota AE86s, four Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IVs, a ’73 Toyota Celica and ’74 Corolla, an ’85 Honda CR-X, ’93 Mazda MX-6, ’81 Mazda RX-7, ’89 Toyota pickup, ’93 Plymouth Acclaim, ’01 Nissan Xterra (supercharged), ’01 Toyota Tacoma, ’98 Subaru STI wagon, ’94 Subaru WRX, ’89 Nissan 240SX, a ’95 Nissan 240SX, ’94 Nissan Silvia, ’06 Lexus GS 430, ’00 Lexus GS 400, ’08 Lexus IS F, ’91 Nissan Skyline GT-R, ’93 Honda Civic, an ’02 Volkswagen Jetta, and a ’87 Nissan Hardbody.”

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

Some would call that an issue, but Adam was just searching for ‘the one’.

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

Even after tasting almost everything attainable to him, something about the E30 chassis has kept Adam coming back for more – hence the 48 examples on that list.

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

I don’t need to beat the proverbial dead horse about the timeless style and design of the E30, and especially the widened-fender and slightly more aggressive-looking M3 variant. But for Adam, it was all about striving for the best he could get, no matter how much work had to be done to get there.

It started with a Calypsorot Metallic 1990 325i coupe, which came about by chance.

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

Prior to this first E30, Adam owned a Nissan S13 that he parked outside his workplace during the week. One day, someone came in off the street and offered to buy it for an amount that Adam simply could not refuse. The deal was done immediately, leaving Adam with no transport to get home.

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

After frantically scrolling Kijiji – Canada’s version of Craigslist and Gumtree), Adam found the BMW coupe and picked it up for a song. Unbeknownst to him at the time though, this was going to be the first of many E30s.

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

With his later purchases, Adam dabbled with basic upgrades to more extensive ones. Prior to forum build threads and YouTube DIY guides on the topic, he even completed a Nissan SR20DET swap. But no matter what he threw at the E30s he owned – MTech 1 and 2 kits, coilovers, rare bits and pieces, and more Recaro seats that he can remember, it just didn’t fill the M3-shaped void in his life.

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

Adam spent many hours dreaming about the E30 M3 he wanted to own, but due their rarity in Canada, rust issues, and skyrocketing prices, his chances of ownership seemed to keep slipping further and further away. But Adam’s luck was about to change.

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

At this time he was living in the Canadian equivalent of Kansas, albeit with about a quarter of the number of people. Some call Saskatoon a city, but I refuse. When anything happens in this town, everyone knows about it. So when a new resident arrived with an E30 M3, it wasn’t long before he and Adam crossed paths.

Adam immediately expressed some interest in the car, but instead of being shot down – as he expected he would be – the BMW owner said he’d be tempted to sell it if someone made a reasonable offer. This was the golden opportunity Adam had been waiting for, but all of his liquidity was tied up in a handful of other cars, including a built Lancer Evo IV.

Of course, he promptly listed the Mitsubishi for sale.

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

The very next day, a young guy and his mother turned up to take a look at the Evo. Adam assumed that they’d want to go for a test drive, but the mom just sat in the driver’s seat playing with the steering wheel – then wrote him out a cheque at full asking price. Even more astonishing, she then pointed at Adam’s SR20DET-swapped E30, and asked how much for that too. He threw out a price, she wrote out another cheque.

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

Adam wasted little time dashing to the bank to cash the cheques, and with money in hand he got straight in touch with the BMW owner about purchasing his car. A deal was done without delay – Adam’s 30th E30 was, fittingly, an M3. There have been 18 more E30 purchases since, but this car has yet to be beat.

Is it ‘the one’? Only time will tell.

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

While the M3 was everything Adam always hoped it would be, his car now had to be the best that it could be.

First up was the bodywork, followed by a full respray in Calypsorot Metallic as a tribute to Adam’s very first E30.

Next came an Evo 2 front spoiler, Evo 3 rear spoiler, DTM-style Gurney flap, Recaro Pole Position seats, MTech 2 steering wheel, AST coilovers, a big Sparta Evolution brake kit, Alpina wheels, and few other odds and ends.

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

What about under the hood, I hear you ask. How could someone who had previously SR20DET swapped an E30 leave this alone?

Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters
Keiron Berndt - E30 BMW M3 - Speedhunters

Well, when I shot the car, it was still running its original BMW S14 engine. However, as of writing this, Adam has pulled the M mill out and is awaiting a few more parts before a Honda K-swap commences.

Stay tuned for that…

Keiron Berndt
Instagram: keiron_berndt

BMW M3 related stories on Speedhunters



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Congrats To Adam for the feature and to Keiron for the awesome story.
Saskatoon FTW baby ;)


Let's catch up soon!

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Man is brave for engine swapping an actual E30 M3 with an engine that's the butt of jokes. Respect!


I'm pretty sure I saw this at Driven (a Canadian car show series) a few years back. Amazing build. And holy! That is a list of cars. On that topic, I'm looking for a early 70's Celica and would love to know where he got it and/or where it is now. Finding a clean example in Canada has proven to be as easy a finding Sasquatch.


It's been driven to the Driven shows in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and of course Saskatoon.


I think the E30 with Alpina wheels is such an underrated look
Love that the owner of this lovely M3 went with an OEM look


I remember seeing this car at the 2017 SEMA show too! When I realized that the car was Canadian I also got excited. It looked like a clean build so it's awesome to see it being featured on the pages of Speedhunters. Excited to see the result of the engine swap on a car most people don't even like to modify because of rising values!


Finally someone uses those alpina rims for something other then there honda civic ^^


Bless up


Killer photos and a beautiful car!


Darker Reds, and bronze/copper wheels looks so good, and is not used enough. Gorgeous car.


Was not expecting the K-swap bombshell at the end. Ks have actually been annoying me with their popularity, but somehow I'm really looking forward to that update!


I thought I had a long list of car ownership. This guy puts most people to shame. Lol


That is a SWEET M30! Love the color and the wheels. My mechanic has a white, 1990 M3. Some guy "rolled" the car and he bought it and restored the entire car. It is clean. Might make it to MPact East if they have it this year. Here's hoping.


Damn! Pics?


105 vehicles


ِA relative had a cherry red E30 with MtechII body kit, not an M3 a regular E30 coupe, and i can ensure that the red fitts the E30 very well. Waiting to see how much purists hate can our friend collect on swapping the engine.
And btw, is this a list of cars owned over the time or the current fleet? I would like the see his stable; Dino is already on a garage hunt in Japan so maybe extending it worldwide is not bad.


It's a list over time and he still has a few!


Ah, Saskatoon. Love that place... until the snow comes.

That is an impressive list of cars he's owned - despite being a Datsun guy, I would have settled for the M3 too. Sweet ride.


Oh yeah, no for sure eh. I don't think I've ever heard someone say they like Saskatoon other than the berries.


I really can't see any point waiting all this time, buying and selling all these cars to own an original M3 only to swap a Honda engine in it. Why not swap it in one of the many E30s he already had? It would definitely save him a lot of time and effort.