This BMW Is Far More Than An M3

Where do you stand on the topic of car purity?

Is a car only ‘correct’ if it’s a numbers-matching, unfettled example as it left the showroom floor? Does a tubular chassis with some fibreglass bodywork still count as the car it’s supposed to resemble? This is Speedhunters after all, so I presume that I’m writing to an open-minded crowd who enjoy a modified car. But, where do you stand on a replica, or tribute?


Harjun Singh‘s 1992 BMW is not an M3, having started life as a 318i, then covering only 1,500 miles before being taken off the road and used by a college for educational purposes. But I’ll be referring to it as an M3 for the rest of the article, for multiple reasons.


This isn’t Harjun’s first E30, though. “My first car was a red 316i, which I got when I was 17 years old. My dad had one back in the day, and I’ve always loved the shape,” he explained.


“But it wasn’t long before I wanted more power, so I dropped in an M42 engine from a 318is. Then I started doing track days and wanted more power again, so I replaced the M42 with a 2.8L six-cylinder M52, which I did a lot of track days withBy the time I was at uni, I was doing track days every couple of months, and the 316i had an E46 M3 S54 engine in it, which I would later supercharge for 550bhp,” says Harjun.


Then one day out of the blue, a completely rust-free E30 318i shell appeared for sale with a full M3 exterior conversion having already been completed using genuine BMW M3 body panels. The previous owner simply lost interest in the project over the course of the transformation and decided to move it on for a very reasonable price.


Harjun snapped it up, and in the mysterious way the world works, somebody then proceeded to hound him to sell the supercharged 316i he already owned. “I ploughed the money from the sale of the 316i into this new shell to get it finished, but this time it would have to be a four-cylinder engine, not a six.

Although he loved it, no matter what Harjun tried with the previous car, even with 550bhp it simply didn’t feel fast enough for him. A six-cylinder was simply too heavy in an E30 shell.


Cue a Honda K24 engine with a Garrett G30-770 turbo attached to the side of it. Mapped to 550bhp with an 8,500rpm rev limit and an incredibly linear power curve, I can assure you that from the passenger seat at least, this E30 feels very fast.


The fuelling requirements are met by the ATL/Nuke Performance competition fuel cell unit with integrated swirl tank and fuel pumps in the boot.


Cooling is taken care of by an E36 M3 radiator, Setrab oil cooler and a 600x300mm intercooler with 3-inch piping. The exhaust system is fully custom from the turbo to the tips.


A suite of Ecumaster goodies control the E30’s solid-state electrical system, including the ECU itself, digital dashboard, GPS system and power management unit. “The PMU allows me to keep stock controls, like the wiper and indicators stalks, headlight and electrics. I wanted the car to still feel like an E30,” said Harjun.


This extends to creature comforts beyond electrical, with actual door cards and carpets to elevate the cabin beyond that of a stripped-out track car.


Sure, you’re sat in a pair of Recaro SPG bucket seats with TAKATA Racing harnesses, but there is also a pair of LED lights mounted to the roll cage to illuminate the cockpit and the boot. Peek past the cage and you’ll see the new roof’s carbon fibre weave.


The M3’s real party piece, however, is the driveline and suspension. “I’ve owned an F80 [M3] since around the time of the supercharged E30, and I absolutely love the rear end feel on track. So I decided to stick the whole rear end into the ‘M3′,” Harjun explained.


Yes, the rear subframe, aluminium uprights, suspension arms and multi-link geometry are all directly taken from a 2014+ F80 generation BMW M3. A Drexler limited-slip differential is nestled in the subframe, driven through a 5-speed E36 M3 transmission. The AST coilovers and subframe pick-up points are tied into the roll cage, while the rear inner arches have been tubbed to accommodate a wider and taller wheel and tyre setup at a low ride height.


Don’t think the front has escaped any sort of special treatment either, as the BMW nerd in me is delighted to report that Harjun has fitted genuine Group A touring car magnesium uprights as well as adjustable billet aluminium front arms from MRT. Quantum coilovers complement the AST rears, fitted in raised suspension turrets and with separate reservoirs at both ends of the car and spring rates of 14kg/mm and 12kg/mm front to back.

BTCC-spec 6-piston AP Racing callipers sit over 368x35mm front discs, while the rear has actually been downsized from the OEM F80 setup to Porsche 4-piston Brembo callipers with 294mm discs. A Tilton non-servo pedal box connected to an MK60 ABS control unit ensures reliable braking with strong pedal feel.


Visually, Harjun’s M3 carries a lot more presence than a normal E30 M3, though it’s not noticeable to the untrained eye. The reason being, the M3 box arches weren’t wide enough to contain the F80 rear end – even with the tubbed inner arches – so an ever wider set has been fitted front and rear adding 140mm to the car’s width. These complement the carbon fibre wing and Gurney flap.


7twenty wheels in 18×9.5 and 18×10-inch fitments fill the arches, but will only do so until a set of 5×120 RAYS Volk Racing TE37s in the right size and offset for the pumped bodywork come up for sale. Harjun switches between semi-slick, slick and wet tyres depending on the weather and intended use.


What Harjun has created here is his own take on the perfect E30. A smattering of the best OEM parts from various eras, combined with other parts that far surpass what an E30 M3 ever was. And don’t forget the inspiration from some of the greatest M3s to ever grace the internet.


To finish, let’s circle back to my opener, and I’ll answer my own question. It would take an exceptional machine for me to put my prejudices aside and embrace a ‘homage’ with open arms.

This is that exceptional machine.

Mario Christou
Instagram: mcwpn



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turbo beams ae86

Could that power figure not be made from the stock engine? Just trying to understand the logic of a civic engine here.
Wouldn't have posted this question if not prompted by the opening line of the article

The rear end swap is impressive


Hello mate. I'm more than happy to answer your question, I love when readers get involved - no need to justify!

I actually stopped myself from mentioning the 'correct' M3 engine in the article because it seemed a waste of words, but in this case there was no 'stock' engine as Harjun got his hands on this car as a bare shell with the OEM M3 body conversion done.

Finding a BMW S14 engine these days is a mission in itself, let alone factoring in the cost of making it strong enough to handle that much boost. People will often argue that the engine itself is lacklustre too - though most of the time they're just spewing out what they've read online without ever having driven or been in one or its contemporary rivals.

A K-series Honda engine is lightweight, reliable, strong, affordable and lively. It offers a perfect base for a high performance build. Thanks for reading!


Logic you say?
He obtained a shell, meaning there must not have been an engine. He had experience with some BMW 6 cylinder engines and wanted something lighter that can give equal or more power. Arguably the current most capable 4 cylinder is the K24, with an extensive aftermarket and replacements readily available. Its probably way cheaper to source and build than an original S14, so it would be the logical choice to fulfill his needs.

If you don't like swaps you could just say so

turbo beams ae86

Thank you for the enlightening replies, I have heard good things about the K engine. Not familiar at all with the BMW engine these came with, so not sure of the power ceiling. Mostly was curious if this was a cost effective choice


Thanks Adrian, well said, I'm glad you've read through! If Turbo Beams AE86's username is anything to go by though then I doubt he's against engine swaps. Coincidentally though that's a very similar swap, taking an iconic engine and replacing it with something newer and objectively better.


Calling it a Civic engine kinda shows that you are already a bit biased against K-swaps lol.
I would imagine that its quite a bit cheaper to get 500 horsepower from a K24 than the original S14. Also probably more reliable.
These S14 engines are getting rare and more expensive by the minute and being high output naturally aspirated engines, they would need extensive modifications to run this kind of boost. (lowering compression ratio etc.)
That would mean ruining an engine that someone else might could really use as a racing spare or to get another E30 back on the road.

In my eyes, this swap makes perfect sense for wanting that kind of output in an E30 M3

turbo beams ae86

I am well aware of the K potential, just rare where I live to see BMW guys swapping in engines from another manufacturer, besides a v8


I don't think calling it an Accord engine would be any more flattering to be honest haha!

Definitely agreed on the rest of your points though, it just makes sense for Harjun's use of the car.


There is nothing logical here. He could have bought a racecar with (half) the money he spent on the E30 and it would probably be faster in every racetrack. I'd never do it but I do admire the hard work and fabrication. Just an objection. It's not an M3. It's an E30.


I'm amazed you got Harjun to share the build cost with you Blinkys! ;)

Consider for a moment, what race car are we talking about? I mean sure there are some old single seaters going cheap enough these days but that would be comparing apples to oranges taken to the extreme.

A Group A DTM E30 M3? Well there's one for sale for £185,000 at the moment, and I doubt he spent twice that figure on this build.

Considering the bodyshell is near enough identical to a DTM E30 M3, with genuine BMW M3 panels and tubbed arches, plus genuine DTM front suspension components and a rear axle over 25 years newer - this might well show a touring car what's what on track.

If the shell is essentially an M3, front axle is Group A M3 and rear axle is 2015 M3 - is it just the VIN number that's stopping this being any more of an M3 than an engine swapped E30 M?


There are tons of racecars available at any price that can lap ridiculously fast without needing 500 bhp. And yes they are cheaper as someone else has paid for the parts and the hours working on it. And when you buy something you lose a hell lot of money. So this is my reply when it comes to what is logic. You can tell me the cost (including labor hours) and I can provide you as many ads as you want. This doesn't mean this BMW isn't fast. I just want to make a point that there is nothing logical in building one. Other than advertisement that is.

An M3 is something that was or has been an M3. There are quite a few Lamborghinis that share a tonne of parts with various VWs. Would you write the VW Gallardo?


That’s a pretty big stretch. This is more like building a stock golf into something much faster and capable than a gti and calling it a gti. I doubt anyone would have an issue with that.


You missed the entire point of this car: "What Harjun has created here is his own take on the perfect E30."
Its not a race team, its a guy with a shop that wanted to build this car, because they WANTED to. He can also drive this on the street if he wanted to, but not a racecar.

"Harjun Singh‘s 1992 BMW is not an M3"
"But I’ll be referring to it as an M3 for the rest of the article, for multiple reasons."

You either chose to skim or read half the article.....


It's a racecar used on the street. Nothing that has to do with logic. This was the point of my comment. If you want to do something logical, buy something paid by someone else. I think YOU missed the point of my comment. If we get some lap times of this E30 and the total amount spent on it, I'll be more than happy to prove my point.


What a build, well done this man. I've often heard the E30 M3 to be a little underwhelming in stock form so completely get the sentiment of taking a lesser E30 shell and sticking this engine in. The other work done to it is next level and the details are really nice. I'd love to see it in person and hope I do since I'm in the UK as well.


Thanks for reading Geoff, I'm glad you like the build!


Any figures on the weight of the car?


Sadly not Bingus, if I can remember our chat Harjun's going to know the weight once it goes off for corner balancing soon but he reckons it's around a tonne? Thanks for reading!


Wow! An article about a German car! Amazing! I didn't know Germany made cars...




I'll just go ahead and say what others are thinking. "AnOtHeR kSwAp?! YOu KnOw HoW ManY oF tHesE I sEeN oN tIK tOk BLAH BLAH BLAH?!?" Stop living vicariously through social media, go out, drive and build for yourself! I always thought K swap became so ubiquitous because they're relatively cheaper, easier to get and get parts for. Especially in the UK. I dont think they have the liberty of just throwing LS's in everything like we do in the states.


Well said Marcus. I've featured a good few K-Swapped cars myself at this point and a lot of the comments can be generic from the same vague 'it's boring' point of view.

I've also shot an LS swapped E46 M3 owned by a good friend of mine, but you really need a lot of coin to run one well here in the UK - so you're two for two there.

Thanks for reading!


Cool. Don't like the wheels though...

Company in Maryland dropped a BMW V10 in a E30 M3. $200,000.


Thanks for reading David, though you may have missed towards the end where I stress they're only temporary until Harjun can find the right set of TE37s to replace them with.

His challenge is that the sizes and offsets are almost impossible to find in BMW 5x120 fitment, but they're common in 5x114.3.


Looks like a fun drive. I bet it drives like it's on rails, especially with new tires


It was a fun passenger ride that's for sure, especially given it was around three degrees celsius when I shot the car. The boost comes on super linearly, but even then the rear wheels lit up with ease in the cold.

Harjun says he really struggles to break traction in warmer weather, and I'm not surprised.

Thanks for reading!


Its been along time since a post on here generated so many comments, I might aswell jump in too. I think its awesome I love the build. It takes so much of effort to get something like this done. Just the effort alone can be commended. So much of time, skill and money and of course for the love of it, his passion for the E30. I say well done dude. I love the car, the color.

This car is sexy as hell, and would be a dream build for me.

The community should always note that cars/projects are built within constraints of which can be many personal likes, costs etc.

As an example my community are VW specialists I would have chosen a vw engine, as I would get free labour costs access to parts etc etc etc

Also some people love to buy stuff, others like build stuff.


Nice build, but its an e30, made to look like an m3, although very cleverly done, %wise a very small amount of genuine e30 m3 there. but credit where credits due, big thumbs up for the build


It's silly the amount of dissing comments here. As an owner of a real E30 M3 (as well as a couple of B-series Type R Hondas), although I wouldn't build something like this out of an E30, yet alone a real M3 myself, I can see a LOT of work & passion has gone into building what must surely be a helluva car to drive. For certain, it'll be a lot more capable than a mere M3, and it's beautiful too.Kudos to the owner.


This BMW is awesome! Someday I am hoping to be working for them in the near future. Also, are there any websites to buy Speedhunters Merchandise?


Can't believe the amount of negative comments this has generated.

In my opinion it's a stunning display of engineering and focus and the finished product is absolutely fantastic.

One of my dream builds is an Early E36 Coupe non M tech with an NA K24.