An E30 M3 That’s Not For The Purists

The E30 M3 has undoubtedly by now reached classic status, so this one probably isn’t for the purists out there.

But then again, as with plenty of projects to emerge from the Driftworks stables, you should know by now that they aren’t ones to conform to the norm. Not only does Driftworks’ head honcho Phil Morrison have an envious collection of cars, but so many of them have, and do, upset those who prefer things a little bit more OEM.

Take for example his RWD-converted slammed Lamborghini LP640, or his Chevy Impala lowrider that’s on air rather than hydraulics. His BMW M2 daily and Nissan S15 practice car are less likely to offend, but of-course, the LS-X powered DW86 competition drift car is definitely ‘out there’. Recently while he was over in Japan collecting his RWB 964 Turbo, back home in sunny Birmingham, England, his latest track-focused build was approaching the final straight.


The DW30 broke cover this past weekend at Coventry Motofest (gallery coming later this week), so I wanted to take the chance to show you around the car briefly. It wasn’t quite in a finished state, with some plumbing and wiring still needed, but no doubt we’ll be aiming to bring you a full feature once this thing hits the track.


Seeking out a replacement track car for his Riviera Blue 997 GT3, Phil purchased the E30 from a customer of DynoTorque, fabrication specialists situated right next door to Driftworks HQ in Birmingham. At this point, the car already had a BMW S65 4.0-litre V8 transplanted under the bonnet, as well as the cage work completed, but for all intents and purposes was still in the early stages of the project.

Phil briefly played with the idea of finding an original BMW S14 engine, but decided to stick with the more modern alternative. Although, the DynoTorque/Driftworks team pretty much ripped the engine out and started again, repositioning it further back in the engine bay for better weight distribution.


Having owned a couple of E90/E92 chassis M3s, Phil knew he wanted to keep the engine choice, but was wavering at first on which gearbox to use. Straight off the back of the potentially controversial opinion piece that I published at the weekend, the timing couldn’t be more poignant, to be honest. In the end, Phil opted for the E90/E92’s DCT transmission for the E30. Although the gearbox weighs more than the manual version, based on his experiences with driving this setup on track previously, how well it works with this engine, and just how blisteringly quick you can be with it, it was the inevitable choice.

Phil says that he wants the car to be a reliable, enjoyable and comfortable experience on track and this powerplant and transmission combo does exactly that. The idea is to be able to complete lap after lap after lap without worry. Essentially, what you’re looking at is a track-spec powerplant and transmission in a chassis that weighs some 600kg less than the car it came from. The age-old recipe of installing newer tech in a classic chassis never fails to rile up the purists, and I suspect this gearbox choice is going to be another layer on top of that. Alongside this, the E30 also benefits from the E90’s MK60 ABS system which, along with the engine and gearbox, will all be controlled by Syvecs management once it’s all plumbed in.

There’s plenty of other very trick bits scattered around the build too – the front and rear fenders are completely custom, having been remade in carbon fibre to accommodate the slightly repositioned track width and wheelbase, whilst still looking somewhat OEM M3. Of course, all the suspension, turrets and underpinnings are custom too, and the car sits on a set of HSD coilovers over Work MCO wheels with Alcon six-piston and four-piston brakes, respectively. With over 400hp, and weighing just over 1,000kg with all the modern technology inside, this thing is going to be a weapon.


I’m not dismissively skimming the details here, but instead I want to leave plenty to cover when the car is finished and we run a full feature on it. In the meantime, catch up with Driftworks’ build videos to get up to speed.

Having known Phil for a number of years, and knowing how particular he is is about his cars, as well as how much attention to detail both DynoTorque and Driftworks put into each build, this is one machine that I’m very excited to see hit the track.

Jordan Butters
Instagram: jordanbutters



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Thought the S65 has an SMG like the S85, which i think it would be better (you know, why playing around with a V8 while you can have an F1-ish V10). I'm a 3 pedals guy but this didn't bother me even though I wished it's manual this car is built for purpose and the driver must be comfortable with his setup.
Waiting for the full detailed article, these guys always impress me. Speaking of impressions, you had to check my face when I saw that DCT joystick shot.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

E90/92 M3 does come with M-DCT gearbox, with a three-pedal choice as a no-cost option.


This car reminds me so much of the Polish build by PUZ Drift Team BMW M3s with V8 LS blocks in them, build 5 yrs ago. Something like this: They trolled the third driver(Roman I believe?) so hard with this poster with every change they got, hehe. Here's also a nice video:

Jordan Butters

I remember this crash well! Although Driftworks' E30 M3 isn't going to be used for drifting – it's a dedicated grip/track car.


Indeed the purpose of the car is different. Nice to see this type of build in other motorsport areas. I've met Phil in France at KOE Pro Series once, really chilled and nice guy.

Matthew Dockery

Oh this... This is very good.


What's the story with it being LHD?

Reliability is always a key thing, no point having a track weapon that only runs a few laps!

Looks like it'll be ace when it's finished!

Jordan Butters

They didn’t make any factory RHD E30 M3, although a handful were dealer converted.

The poor french carguy

It's a really interesting build, and something that I think many "purists" could get behind, getting a newer M3 drivetrain in an older M3, nothing too "out of the box" as it is still BMW parts. Nothing crazy aesthetically speaking, this thing isn't as bad as you make it seems to be. Of course there will be hardcore M3 purists,... But honestly, who cares about what these guys have to say about this build ? Can't wait to see more about it, this thing promises to be one hell of a ride !


My thoughts exactly, I don't think that this build will draw a lot of flak. Being a dedicated track car, the body-engine combination seems rather coherent. In the end, it's a true M engine in an M car, although I'm interested to learn how the semi-trailing arm rear suspension copes with all the V8 power.

Side note: I'd prefer an S54 though :D but still, the S65 is one hell of an engine as well. Great car!


Looks identical in colour and wheel fitment to that rally one Paddy reviewed last year. Flappy paddle is interesting

Paddy McGrath

Two very different cars when it comes down to it, although I'm not sure which one I would prefer!


Very unorthodox, very nice.. Though not much of an abomination when built to this level. slam it over 18's and get back to me.

Chris Colouryum

One thing I love detail wise about this is the colour. It's the exact opposite hue to the Driftworks orange (inciting their race side over drift side). Give it a go, cmd-i the shit out of that in photoshop!

Great build, as ever and fuck the purists. Built to please the driver not the crowd.

Jordan Butters

Haha that's ace, although I'm not sure intentional!

Chris Colouryum

It is - Phil has mentioned it before ;)

Jordan Butters

No way? That's dope. I thought that it was Riviera Blue.

Chris Colouryum

You are correct, I think it was a bit of a "coincidence" that is actually a really cool design nugget that they've run with.

Straight from the horses mouth:


YES! I've been watching this build so closely on their youtube channel. I love that I'm seeing close to the end product before I see the breakdown on their videos. Its like the advert poster before the movie release <3


As a person who loves purity and personalization in equal measure this build really does it for me. The Driftwork crew’s S85B50 swapped E46 M3 is one of my all time favourite builds. The engine swap, custom bodywork, AC Schnitzer wheels all worked so well together. This is definitely a close second. Can’t wait to see it completed. Thanks for sharing Jordan!


such a cool car just wish phil would find someone who can weld properly

Jordan Butters

There's always one.


Everyone seems to be pretty pleased with it, actually.


So many wants...


Absolutely beautiful job! I like how everything was done the correct way. And no expense was spared!!!


I feel like it shouldn't upset them too much. Seems like a rad drift car to me.

Phil Morrison

Thanks John! It's actually not a drift car. It's being built for trackdays and possibly an occasional hill climb or similar.

Jordan Butters

That damn Driftworks sticker is throwing people :D


Yeah that did throw me off. It does refer to the car able to go lap after lap after lap, but I missed that on my first read.

Phil Morrison

Yeah, we knew it would. We do a lot more than drifting nowadays, as you may have seen from our social media. Youtube, Instagram, Facebook = @driftworks :)


Well, it's still BMW V8, right? So it's still purist! :P


Wicked Bimmer! Although I prefer the V10 powered E46 M3 ever so slightly. I like how Phil kept it 'in the family', so to speak, by stuffing new BMW parts into old BMW parts.
Very cool car.


Fantastic machine. I really like the color. It reminds me of Ford's Grabber Blue

Joel Krølle Sørensen

i saw the colour and immediatly thought " HEY THATS PHIL MORRISONS CAR, FUCK YEAH!!" and instantly clicked

Robert Shisler

Purist tears are the saltiest and most tasty.


Definitely not a build that would upset BMW purists. Concours-purists, sure. But in general this build is very much in the spirit of the BMW community. Especially given the cost:benefit of an S14 nowadays.