Evolution Evolved: The CAtuned E30 M3
Sport Evolution

Igor Polishchuk — the founder of CAtuned in Sacramento, California — knows his way around a BMW, especially an E30.

CAtuned have taken Bimmers to the SEMA Show for a decade now, but this sleek, silver-finished M3 just might be their best build yet.

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If you aren’t already intimately familiar with this popular Bavarian tuner, the car we’re about to look at is a culmination of CAtuned’s philosophy, which is best expressed directly in their own words: “CAtuned has done more than refine an old tradition: We’ve started a new one. Guided by an international flare, we fuse unique styling techniques from around the world to create an interesting ride.”

This is exactly what Igor and the team have done again with their 1989 BMW M3, which has a bit of cool history, too.

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This E30 M3 chassis was previously built by Dinan with a Sport Evolution engine, which not only benefited from a slew of BMW M division upgrades but was also punched out to displace 2.5 liters. These engines were originally destined for use in the M3 Evolution III models, which were obviously used for racing with 600 homologation examples produced for the road.

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Thus, not many of these engines were built in the first place, and fewer remain today. Output was 238hp from this ultra-spec S14, representing a 40hp increase over the standard E30 M3 engine. This might not seem impressive today, but bear in mind that this was a 20% jump in power from the same block. It also was more powerful than the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evo II, but I digress.

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Those of you with a keen eye will be wondering why I’m talking about an engine that this car doesn’t have. The Skunk2 billet magnesium valve cover does serve to disguise the engine a bit — and you’ll also notice that the ‘Powered by BMW’ decal remains affixed at the rear — but this is not an BMW S14 inline-four. Instead, it’s a Honda K24 inline-four, which has been stroked to displace 2.6 liters and built to the nines with a naturally aspirated endurance racing spec.

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But why not use that legendary Sport Evolution engine, you might ask? Well, for exactly that reason: it’s legendary. On the other hand, the K24 is light, reliable, capable of big power and has endless aftermarket support. Some people might say it’s a big f-you to put a Honda engine in an M3, but I would say it’s a much bigger f-you to blow up a homologation-spec engine in the pursuit of high horsepower.

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This just isn’t an f-you type of build, anyway, and I appreciate that almost everyone has moved on from modifying cars in a controversial way simply to be controversial.

Global Influence

Instead, Igor and CAtuned are just continuing what they’ve been doing since 2002: blending styles and building the ultimate ultimate driving machines. The decisions here all make sense for the intended use of the car, and the execution is spot on.

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You have CAtuned’s classic mashup of styles from around the globe fully on display, with more Japanese influence coming in the form of the 17-inch RAYS Volk Racing TE37s it rides on. These were actually the last set of E30-fitment TEs available in North America, and after plans to convert the car from five-bolt to center-locks went awry, the Volks ended up finding the M3 in a sense. Thankfully, they suit it well, though that’s no surprise – TE37s look great on everything.

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The ride height has been adjusted thanks to a set of CAtuned Street coilovers, and their polyurethane bushings have been added to further tighten up the old chassis. Braking is from more CAtuned-derived parts including their AP Racing kit, and a Wavetrac differential also has been installed to help further manage the newfound power.

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Inside the car there’s a return to German sensibility, with a pair of Scheelmann Sportline R seats with houndstooth inserts. The rears have been done to match, and an M-Tech II steering wheel ties it all together in period style. I love that the factory onboard computer is retained, yet the carbon fiber door panels remind you that you’re nestled in a very serious machine.

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How serious? Well, take a scroll through the full build list below and learn for yourself. It’s quite extensive as CAtuned have touched everything on this M3, which is the culmination of two decades’ worth of experience. Being fairly local to their shop, I can only hope they take me out for a drive soon.

Seeing cars like this at the SEMA Show is one thing, but putting them through their paces is another. And if a car ever deserved to be put through its paces, it’s this one.

Trevor Ryan
Instagram: trevornotryan

Photography by Mark Riccioni
Instagram: mark_scenemedia
Twitter: markriccioni

The 2022 SEMA Show on Speedhunters

The Build

Engine: Honda K24 2.6L, coated CP forged pistons, Crower forged H-Beam connecting rods, Crower 4340 billet 102mm stroker crankshaft, ACL Race coated rod & main bearings, Endyn CNC-ported & hand-finished race cylinder head, Supertech race valves & spring kit w/ titanium retainers, custom Web Cam billet camshafts, ARP head studs, big bore MLS head gasket, new Honda OEM timing components, Skunk2 billet timing tensioner, Honda OEM new gaskets & seals, PracWorks carbon manifold, Injector Dynamics 1050x injectors, E85 fuel, custom CAtuned 3-inch stainless steel exhaust, Nuke Performance oil catch can, Vibrant Performance fittings & lines, TF engine swap mounts, CAtuned aluminum radiator, CAtuned coolant hoses, CAtuned radiator mount, Spal electric fan, CAtuned fan mounts, CAtuned silicone cooling hoses, custom engine wiring loom, Link engine management system, magnesium valve cover

Driveline: ZF 5-speed transmission, Wavetrac limited slip differential, STIM Technologies billet differential cover

Suspension/Brakes: CAtuned Street coilovers, CAtuned poly subframe bushings, CAtuned poly trailing arm bushings, ST sway bars, CAtuned AP Racing race brake kit front, CAtuned stainless brake lines, Chase Bays brake booster delete & dual master cylinder

Wheels/Tires: RAYS Volk Racing TE37 17-inch forged wheels, Toyo Proxes R888R tires

Exterior: CAtuned front carbon splitter, CAtuned rear splitter, CAtuned wind splits, CAtuned DTM-style mirrors, CAtuned DTM carbon spoiler & custom rubber under-chin spoiler, CAtuned Hella headlights & intake, CAtuned custom tail lights, Euro grills

Interior: Auto Power roll cage, Scheelmann USA Sportline R seats with matching rear upholstery, CAtuned carbon door panels, CAtuned carbon speaker shelf, BMW Mtech2 suede steering wheel, custom CAtuned gauges, CAtuned B-pillar trim



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It look like duck, it run like duck so it have to quack.

I'm not a BMW fan, and has respect to Honda engines and this build is meh.

You approach perfect M3, sit down in perfect condition driver seat and when you turn on keys what? a 4 pot honda sound. So it just meh.

The engine sound will ruin this project.


The e30 m3 always had a 4 cylinder in it right? K series seems like the perfect upgrade while keeping the spirit of the original engine.


I have to disagree harshly. The "sound" will not make it meh. I have an rx7, and ive kept it rotary and i love it to death. If i sit in someone elses rx7 and I turn it on and hear an LS v8 is my experience ruined? No, it still goes, and hard, its fun to drive and easy to fix, its an entirely new experience thats different from what im used to. Be open to change dude. They executed this beautifully, give it a chance


I don't know, as someone who has been using the same keyboard for the last 15 years and kept 2 more as spares, I may have solidified my mind.

If I ever get a chance to own an RX-7 in my life, it has to be a rotary. I haven't even seen the live one, why would I want the V8 one? There are loads of options if I want a V8.

I've never had an E30, I can't even imagine owning one of this level. However, there are many of the old 4-door ones in my country. If I ever have one, I'd be happy to swap it with the Honda engine.

But not this car. This is the full package.

In my opinion, it should be whatever it is. Maybe if I had one in my garage, and had been using it for 10 years. Of course why not.


It could also be a translation problem. I don't want to disrespect people who do such fine craftsmanship.

Brand model does not matter, such a car is bought and used because it makes you feel.

And I think it will be uncomfortable when the engine starts, at least for me. Because different sound will always make you feel that there is something wrong.

I personally do not want to drive such a beautiful car with such a feeling. When I hit the gas it should sound E30 M3 because I'm in a perfect E30 M3.

And or should I be in a Honda. I'm sure the engine sounds amazing.


The orignal engine is also a s14b23 (mostly, since the 2.5 and 2.0 are eu spec anyway). But those engines are bulletproof and you can buy anythink for them (at least here in germany). You can even build dtm final spec engine with about 350bhp that sounds really crazy. Next to nothing sounds as agressive as large volume i4 @ 9000rpm. Even though i have to say that the mercedes m102 sounds a little bit better. A m102 16v w201 with bmw e30 or e36 getrag transmission is more or less the only mercedes i would ever consider buying.

The real problem i have with this, is the fact that the orignal engine looks really good and if you want something dispossible the m42 is also an option. Looks more at home inside the car and it is possible to get it to more or less s42b20 spec (diesel crank and s50b30 pistons, some work on the head). The m42b18 actually was detuned by bmw, since otherwise people would not buy the small m52b25.


I think its a bit harsh to judge a build based purely on the sound that the exhaust might make. I havent seen/heard any video or sound of this build anywhere yet, so why judge on that already?
Exhausts and intakes make more difference in sound than the base engine. The Stanceworks Ferrari 244 GTK doenst sound like any other turbo k-series either.


Jesse, I find that last comment curious, because if you follow Honda drag racing at all, the 244 GTK sounds exactly like a big-turbo K drag engine.


Ah, well I'm not invested in dragracing at all so that would explain why I didnt notice that. I compared it to street cars.
Still, I stand with my comment that exhaust and intake are more important for sound than the base engine.


I don't think the engine is a f-you to anything, I think spirit of the car is celebrated in the right manner with a great engine. The workmanship is awesome. If there is a video of this car on YouTube please post the link. The US is lucky to have parts/engineers/manufacturer's etc available and builders of this caliber that can bring cars like this to life and I guess that's the the theme of SEMA right it just doesn't end with this car. That's great!!! I love the interior, it looks OEM brand new in some parts of the world that is a difficult task to accomplish. (Or it could just be great photography, lol, these night shots and lighting are totally amazing every picture is just too awesome).


Amazing photo's, love the lighting too, must be long exposure light painting! Awesome job!


If it was a "regular M3" it ws fine to me, but an EVO III... i believe some cars must be kept as garage queens. Imagine ditching the boxer of a 555 Subaru or the twin-charged engine of a delta integrale because it's not reliable.
So, as a "regular M3" this is an over the top project and i can apreciate every bit of it. As personal taste, i'll change the wheels to a mesh design; 37s looks good and some other wheels design look good but nothing can beat the look of a mesh wheel on a E30.


It's not an Evolution III chassis, it was a Dinan-built car that ended up with the Sport Evo engine at some point


Well, since the point has been clarified i'll stick with the second half of my comment.


building the ultimate ultimate driving machines. The decisions here all make sense for the intended use of the car, and the execution is spot on.

So did the person writing this actually drive the car?
Enough is enough with trying to rationalise Honda-swapping everything. It's always cheaper to use a BMW engine in a BMW, even if you own a workshop. So this might work great, might be well executed but no way it's cheaper or makes more sense than swapping any other engine in an E30.


Did you drive it? What difference does that make?

I would genuinely love for you to find a Sport Evolution engine making 450 horsepower (the very reasonable target peak horsepower of this build, which will probably be detuned from there) and compare the purchase cost + build cost + cost of ownership to the K24 after track abuse and, say, 10k miles.

Unfortunately, I don't think such a thing exists, whereas some nuts are pushing 1,000hp on K24s. It would be cool but in practice it just doesn't make sense to build a historic motor to specs like these.


Well of course I haven't driven it but I'm not the one getting paid to write such unsupported biased overstatements. Unless you can tell how a car drives by its specs, then there is no problem. I wrote that it would be cheaper to build an E30 with a BMW engine. Not with the engine it came out of the factory. Who cares about the 1000 hp K24s? Is this such an engine? Do they want that hp? Talking about reasonable decisions.Is this car now worth more than an original pristine EVO III?


Yeah I hear you for sure but this car was built by Dinan with the Sport Evolution/Evo III engine. The car itself is not an Evolution III. It's "just" an M3.

If you want to build a high-revving ~400+ horsepower E30 M3 with a lightweight engine I think it would be pretty hard to make an argument that an Evolution Sport engine is a good choice, and the K24 is better for many reasons than other BMW options. Happy to hear any arguments for this, but to make that kind of power you're looking at larger/heavier engines that have known pain points and less support to modify extensively, run with a standalone, etc.

Plus at the end of the day this is what the owner/builder wanted, and they got it!


I'm pretty sure that everyone who has read the text is under the impression that this is an EVO III. But even "just" an M3 is worth more if untouched or just restored.The owner could swap a diesel engine from a fishing boat in it and still be happy. I've got nothing against his choice. Only reason I commented is because the owner's choice is presented as something reasonable. Projects like this have nothing to do with costs or logic. It's just advertisement "look, I can do it". There are tons of tuned or racing engines available, with tons of support and parts for every BMW ever produced, even for lower budgets.


It is a build to showcase their ability. So yes, it is a look I can do it kind of build.

That said, saying that it has nothing to do with costs or logic isn't fair either. BMW makes lots of engines sure, but of the ones they make that can hold up to the reliability and potential of a K would the fit form factor-wise as well as this one?


So K-swapping is suddenly the best option available costwise? Does this apply only to BMWs or to any car? Is this car going to be raced? If so where? How many miles will it put on the clock,let's say the next year? OK the K is light and produces significant power. How does the car drive with this engine? What about the weight distribution? Where in the revs range is the power available? And I will insist, how can someone, who hasn't even been in the passenger's seat, write all this hype about the car?


The K isn't the only option no. But it's heavily supported and has a big community behind it.

Not dissimilar to the LS 2J, etc. Heck there are even rumours sr20s can be reliable in the right hands.

What I'm saying is sticking with BMW for BMW sake isn't everyone's cup of tea. Furthermore it probably wouldn't have stood at out at an event like this. It's obvious the purpose of this car is two fold. Display their craftsmanship and be enjoyable to drive.

As for your stance on writers only writing about cars they've driven...

Logistically for a global operation like Speedhunters that's never going to happen.

Not sure about Trevor but I don't like driving vehicles I can't afford to replace and that's basically every vehicle I've written about.


First things first. If you haven't driven the car you aren't writing about cars. You are describing a list of parts and modifications. Since this is a show car which is going to be loaded in the back of truck to be displayed in shows a)no one cares about reliability b)the writer is ASSUMING how it drives. This is my objection and not what is the builder's cup of tea.


I disagree emphatically with your initial statement but given I make money how I do it's not a positon I can challenge without obvious bias. Also, I thought your disagreement was regarding the motor choice predominantly.


My disagreement is when something that is advertisement or just a choice is presented as something reasonable, something that works great, that is a great idea, and all these enthusiastic comments about something that the person writing hasn't got a clue. Would I choose a K24 if I had an E30? Definitely not.You want to write about show cars, no problem. Stick to what they are. Cars built for cool photos and to bring attention. Don't write about reliability or costs. The way you make money has nothing to do with the FACT that a list or parts and modifications doesn't mean that the result is something fast that drives great or handles great. So if you, or anyone else, writes about what he knows and doesn't make bold statements about things he can only assume, I have nothing to disagree with.


This is far from just a show car, and CAtuned have been building all manner of BMWs for a long time. It is not a bold statement that the K-swap is good here. As a BMW owner, it's easy to say the K24 engine is more reliable and has more support. There's no NA BMW inline-four that would make ~400hp anyway.

But okay, I understand what you're saying.


Honestly I think this E30 M3 build is cool for what it is but I don't think it should have an engine other than anything BMW
That's just my opinion we're all entitled to ours however I just feel that for a car like the E30 M3 which is a special homologation model it would be better if it stuck to the brand


I find it stupid to use an M3 e30 for such a build, but if that is going to keep regular e30s scalating in price, more power to them lol


If it was a regular E30 then it would be awesome, but just spending cash on an M3 to remove the engine? stupid.


This build is f*cking fantastic. These are my favorite M3's, and seeing one that is built for the abuse the car deserves, fills me with joy. While the original powerplant is surely something special, and sure the exhaust may sound a bit off from expectation, throwing a K24 in it only makes it more functional as a whole. I get being a purist, but obviously it wasn't built with this intent. The fit and finish of the car is amazing, and the over cleanliness of the the build is timeless. Every aspect of this build will age well. They exhibited great self control when it came to aesthetic and it payed off. Awesome photos also!



I know about CATuned. I lived in L.A. and been there 50 times and lived there. My dad's cousin had a 1986 AMG Hammer. I just can't stomach a Japanese motor in an E30 M3! It seems like this competition between Japanese cars and German cars will never stop. Some people are loyal to Japan. Some folks are loyal to Germany. Alot of people in Japan own Porsches and BMWs so what does that say? I personally am a German car guy for life. Do I think Nissan GT-Rs are awesome cars? Yeah! But am I going to buy that over an RS7 or an M8 Competition? No!

Is this car cool? Yeah? Am I dismayed with the Honda transplant? Yeah. That's it.


For the BMW purists crying about this, keep crying. I have a (still)rotary FD, and I daily an e36 m3, so I see both sides to this argument. The k24 is an amazing engine; arguably one of the best 4cyl engines ever with an amazing array of aftermarket support. The car industry constantly changes and people come up with new ideas, we cant just be stuck on what originally came in these cars just because. They become old, parts become hard or expensive to find, we all have to adjust and find suitable counterparts that work for us. Regardless, the work here is top notch, and the end result is a beautiful piece of mechanical art. Good job to the guys at CAtuned for killing this!


Respectfully disagree. TE37s dun look good on everything.

Whatever you are smoking... i want some.



Totally agree. They don't look good on every car.



Typo. I TOTALLY agree about the wheels.


The amount of hate this build is getting is truly entertaining. Rofl


Another beautiful set of pictures from a man that knows color theory.


This car would be so much cooler with a Tesla battery pack in it and a fake 1.9 cylinder engine sound blaring out a speaker.
I would add some roll resistant tire too for better mpg's.
all jokes aside I love this build. Beautiful car and I'm sure that Honda engine will scream at 10K rpm.



So how much HP is this baby putting down? Has it been dynoed?


In pursuit of better handling the owner should have put in the EJ25 subaru boxster engine. Why? Lower center of gravity and the most respected car maker Porsche proves it over and over the merit of that engine layout when it comes to handling.


beautiful rims


I approve this swap. In fact, a K-swap is in the works for my next W201 190e project.


Really sick. I love this. Great photography and an awesome feature. Perfect build.