At Ultimate Stance in Telford, UK early last month, one car drew crowds like no other.
It’s easy to see the appeal of Paul Foster‘s 1982 BMW E21 though. The Group 2-themed build appeals to a wide audience – those who grew up around BMW race cars in the 1980s all the way through to younger people who can appreciate the modern replica.
This isn’t a new build by any stretch; it’s been kicking around shows for a couple of years now and prior to its completion (well, as complete as any true project…) it was under the knife for over a decade in Paul’s home garage.
His goal for the car was always clear though: create an E21 with the look of a Group 2 race car, that can be used for competition (hill climbs to be exact), and also on the road, legally. All of those boxes have been ticked.
Let’s start with the look, which has been achieved through the addition of a complete E21 Group 2 body kit. The kit, which includes a deep front air dam and wide, bolt-on fender flares is all in fibreglass, but the rest of the body panels remain in steel, including the custom-vented bonnet.
The giant rear wing is a Group 5-style item that features a carbon fibre blade, while the alloy rear diffuser is another custom piece.
Keeping the weight low was of utmost importance to Paul, and you can see that in some of the meticulous attention to detail. From gutted doors, drilled brackets supporting the wing mirrors and drilled door handles, to thin boot struts and use of titanium bolts throughout. As it sits the E21 tips the scales at a light 900kg (1,985lbs), but there’s more – or less weight, technically – to come.
The heart of this E21 is an ’80s Rover/TVR V8 engine with twin Suzuki GSX-R1000 K2 throttle body sets (eight ITBs in total) and custom headers running into a twin 3-inch side-exit exhaust system, tied to a Cosworth T5 World Cup transmission and a Quaife ATB limited slip differential out back.
As you can see, there’s some serious rubber on the rear – Pirelli P Zeros in 345/35R15 sizing to be exact. The wheels are 15-inch Compomotive TS501s all round, with narrower 245/45R15 P Zero tyres up front.
And looking right at home on the front wheels are a pair of custom D-lng turbofan covers.
The interior is full race spec, with a serious roll cage and everything else you’d expect to find in a competition car, like a Sparco steering wheel and seats.
It’s an impressive machine, let alone one built DIY-style in a home garage, but Paul is not done with this labour of love just yet. Future plans include even more weight reduction through carbon fibre doors, boot and bonnet, plus the full kit remade in the composite material. The ultimate goal is 800kg (1,765lbs).
Paul’s most poignant moment of the build to date is an early one, with his then three-year-old son Ethan sitting on the then stock engine helping him remove the bolts. Ethan’s now a teenager, and together this father and son duo attend car shows all over the UK, often driving hours in the E21 to attend. He might just be a passenger for now, but when Ethan gains his race licence, you know which seat he’s going to be sitting in.
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