Rough & Ready: A Street/Drift BMW E21

I’m not sure why BMXers and drifting seem to go hand in hand, but it seems to be a thing.

Here in the Netherlands, Koen de Laat, better known as KUHNS, is another BMX rider who has made the jump from two wheels to four. What no one expected was the vehicle he chose to go drifting in.


The story of this E21 BMW 316 goes back eight years to the time Koen had just gained his driving licence. A friend visited Koen at home to congratulate him and casually hinted that his uncle might have a cheap car for sale.


After contacting the uncle, Koen discovered two things – the car was a coppery-brown E21 3 Series coupe, and it had been sitting outside in the elements for some while. Despite its weathered condition, Koen was keen to purchase the BMW, and a fair price of EUR 500 (around US$550 today) was agreed upon.

How do you transport a non-running car from a backyard on one side of town to your garage on the other? Most people would arrange a tow, but Koen just phoned his friends and convinced them to help push it!


Once the E21 was safely tucked away in his small garage box, Koen wasted no time getting stuck in. With help from his friends, the E21 was quickly back up and running and ready for its roadworthiness inspection, which the car ultimately passed.

At this point, the 316 was still a bone-stock daily driver. It stayed that way for a few years, too. During this time, however, Koen developed an interest in modified JDM cars of a similar age as his E21 and decided to customize the BMW in a similar fashion. At first, he kept things modest with a little lowering and then some new wheels.


At this point, Koen was still BMXing at a semi-pro level, but a knee injury from a riding incident put paid to taking things any further. As one door closed, however, another one opened. Koen decided to keep modifying the E21.


First up was the interior, where Koen’s idea was to upgrade it in the way you see early ’80s Corollas modified for street/drift use in Japan.

The driver’s seat was swapped for a vintage Recaro LXB recliner with classic Spectrum fabric. The E21’s large factory steering wheel was next on the chopping block, replaced with a smaller diameter wood-rimmed Momo equivalent.


Another period-correct aftermarket upgrade came in the form of Pioneer TS-X1 box speakers for the rear shelf. Finally, to enhance the BMW’s drift-ability, a hydraulic handbrake was fitted and customized to fit the original centre console.

Outside, Koen once again looked to Japan for inspiration and not go over the top. Staying true to the E21 era, a BBS front lip (yes, BBS used to make other things, too) and Zender side skirts and rear lip were added.


But it’s the wheels that set everything off – a mismatched set of Work Equips, 03 and 01 models front and rear respectively. The Equips aren’t wide, but they do have a huge amount of dish at the rear, something Koen achieved by splitting the wheels and reversing the centers. It’s an old-school trick to look cool on a budget, while not making the wheels any wider than they need to be for the amount of engine power on offer.


The 1.6L engine that came factory-fitted in Koen’s 316 barely made 90hp, and although the car could get sideways with it, it was less than ideal for drifting. The remedy came in the form of a 1.8L M10 engine from an E30 3 Series. But that isn’t the creative part.


To produce the power the engine is now making, Koen added a Volvo 940 turbocharger that sits on a custom-made manifold. The fuel injectors also came from a 940, while the exhaust was pieced together from an Audi RS3 system. What kind of management does this Frankenstein setup use? Surprisingly, it runs a stock E30 ECU. An adjustable fuel pressure regulator does play a key role, though.


Koen says the setup is good for 180hp, and it has performed reliably for the past two years while taking an absolute beatdown at grassroots drift events. A 323i axle provides some extra beef at the rear end, while BC Racing coilovers and strut braces front and rear refine the handling.


Koen’s E21 is not even close to pristine, but it serves its purpose and has character for days. It is also still street-legal. Yes, although we Dutchies love to complain about the cost of cars, taxes and insurance, we are blessed with pretty loose vehicle modification laws here.

Sadly, our photo shoot was cut short by a punctured rear tyre during some activities, but if you would like to see more of the E21 or this side of Dutch car culture, let me know. I might team up with Koen and hit a local drift day soon.

Collin Tiemens
Instagram: collinclicksphotos


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What a fantastic feature of a car regardless of how much or how little modification this vehicle has.

It just checks all the right boxes for not only fun but just cool and simple style with a little bit of JDM spicing.

We need more and more car features like this on SPEEDHUNTERS!

Beautiful project KUHNS! Greetings from USA land!


Great write up Collin and very nice photos as always! Enjoyed reading this alot, keep it up, maybe do a Polderlife write up next??


Thanks! And Im waiting for them to get their car back together.


Nice !


Beautiful to see this simple cars!! Great story of the owner


Nice to see some cars on the continent getting the love they deserve!


Love this thing


Yes, a great one to see first thing this morning, love the color, especially that color. Doesn’t matter how pristine or rough, it’s all about the love we feel for it as we’re driving it.


Tons of character in that thing, awesome.


Very nice beard the guy has and an awesome car i love it


Such a great write up for a even greater car and driver.
Kuhns is really a great guy with fantastic style and taste for cars.


Thing is fire!! Would love to see this one on the instagram page of Speedhunters


More of this, please.

Loved it.


I was almost over my urge to buy a E21. Now its back in full effect. This is low budget fun like it should be! Also, that tail light is just awesome. Kuddos to Koen for the car and to Collin for the feature!


Lovely story to read. And impressive photos of this car! Love to see how People build european cars inspired by the 80s Japanse driften scène


Yes, more stories like this, please! High-cost, high-polish builds are cool, but it's refreshing to see beat-up, realistic drivers that people are just out having fun with.


Really nice work!!!!


Love it


Man the E21 is such an underrated car it's a great first car to get as a project car to keep building on and potentially a future classic


A sick car and sick drifts!
Amazing job on the rear lights aswell!!


In a world where people obsess over the big budget builds and exotics, a feature like this is so refreshing to see!! Just awesome!! We definitely need to see more budget friendly rides like this on here


Kuhnzzzz is my hero!! He’s a workout beast too. Skuuuuu.


Lovely car,l and nice write up too! would love to see it on insta, this car needs its own insta too


I remember when Rupert (yes, that Rupert) sucked me off and then we put speed tape all over his 6 series drift car. Of course in those days the rozzers (police to Gen Xers) had other plans and we all ended up in a gay orgy afterwards. After that I built the RS211 and got pretty deep into the San Francisco night club scene.

Great times. If only these younger people knew what it was like to have your best friend cuck you into building a world beater. When they're not beating you off. Awesome times.

turbo beams ae86

Who is Rupert

Bonin the Ronin

Rupert is Frank's husband. He has a Lamborghini and they suck each other off after every canyon run. (If you know you know. Lamborghini problems).

Once chins are wiped they call Jay Leno and have a conference call about who did the best job. (Frank always wins or else the admin is contacted and Leno HATES when you contact the admin).


Jesus Frank you sound so amazing. Teach me your ways master. I want to be a super pro master canyon carver just like you! Maybe if you blow a hot load in me I will absorb some of your super powers.


hahahaha when you pull 9,000 G in the canyons the loads just fly out. Then they stick to the tires giving supreme traction in the twisties. My buddy Riccardo and I circle jerk each other off every time we do a run.


Admin has been contacted. Check out the checkmark by my name. Is impersonation of a public figure a good idea?

Bonin Mc'Stonin

Only love for this driver and car


loved the article! This is the type of content I would like to see more of on speedhunters!


The best E21 out there !
Really nice feature ! ♥️


I never thought about it until this feature, but I just realized why the average IQ of drifters is typically lower than other motorsport fans: they tend to come from the action sports world. This makes a lot of sense now!


Lol, somehow I think these guys have far more automotive knowledge than most pro drivers considering they actually build most of their vehicles. Btw, I’m pretty sure tanner foust has more education than just about any driver you can name.


I literally race with people who design F1 cars and have 3 titles to their name. These are people in the hall of fame who have driven themselves to national champions and were often times their own mechanic, constructor, and driver. So no. You can firmly fk off with that nonsensical point of view that is based in...

Fantasy land. Tanner foust is not a talented racing driver. He is an action sports guy and a stunt man. That's it.

Btw...I'm pretty sure you can't name a single national title Tanner has contested and won. Anything against national or regional level drivers? Nothing. Welcome to reality. What I said in my original comment is a fact. Tanner's a little bish.


Tanner has won multiple championships in multiple disciplines including rally, rallyx, and formula drift. Ive actually met the guy multiple times and have watched him win several times, he is the real deal. You claim to ride around on a gokart and make comments on the internet under fake names. Sorry bud, nothing you said holds water


One of the years where you are praising him for winning only occurred because Marcus Gronholm was injured. This is what you're bragging about?

This is not a competitive field. But hey we can pretend he's a motorsport God if we don't have more than 16 brain cells.


I race in SKUSA which is miles harder to win than anything Tanner has. Precisely why you don't see any of these action sports people contesting proper divisions like SCCA Nationals, SKUSA, DTM, etc.

Here is Foust's record. If you find this impressive you are not exactly knowledgeable.

Most of these "series" had about 6-8 people competing at any given time and the field consisted of former motorcross riders, skateboarders, and action sports stars. But that's how little the average person knows about racing in 2024. Clueless!


Lmao, you actually think your go kart is harder to drive than a rallyx car?! Omg you are hilarious, please go ahead and write that book about your illustrious career. And you have better car control than Chris forsberg? Bahahhaha


YoU actuAlly ThiNK KaRtiNG Is HarDer Than RalLyx!? HyUck yhyuc,k hyuck

Senna certainly did. Thank you for proving my point. You're an imbecile.


Nate you understand this is what Formula 1 drivers use to prepare and stay sharp in the off season right? Not rally cross. Yes, karts are infinitely harder to drive from a physicaly stand point than a rally cross car for one simple reason that tells me you don't understand the absolute fundamentals of vehicle design:


And a rack and pinion steering wheel. Take the shocks and springs out of a rally car and replace the steering with a direct link to the tie rods. You think these guys would be able to land 10 foot jumps without breaking their spines?

Go karts have no shocks or springs and can reach up to 145mph in the top classes. OF COURSE it's harder to drive than rally cross. That's why Valentino Rossi is using it to train after Moto GP.

You think removing the shocks and springs from a car make it easier to drive. Wow. You don't have a fking clue! HAHA!


Lol, I’m glad you mentioned Rossi because it basically explains why certain drivers ride around on go karts in the off season, because it’s safe. He broke his leg multiple times riding dirt bikes and it’s pretty difficult to get injured on something with 4 tiny wheels. He also races gt3 cars and plans to continue his career in big boy cars. Go karts don’t have suspension because they don’t need it, it doesn’t mean that they are harder to drive. If you have trouble steering a go kart you should probably get off the computer and start exercising. But please continue, this is hilarious


Absolutely false. I was just coaching with a guy who drove a williams F1 car and GT3 cars professional and when I asked him what the closest thing to it was in terms of physicality / intensity to the Williams F1 car he said shifter karting.

If you think a KZ1 / TaG karts are easy to turn you don't know wtf you're talking about. GT3 cars are much easier to drive from a physical stand point than a shifter kart. You are really uneducated and I can tell you have very little experience. I've been racing almost 3 decades now, have studied under F1 designers and multiple world champions. Guys like you are clueless crap talkers who would get embarrassed in the first 5 laps at speed.

Karts don't need suspension because the frame acts as a spring. It DEFINITELY is harder to drive something without shocks and springs compared to something with them. Use your brain...again, this shows me you have a fundamental lack of understand of basic vehicle design.

You sound like you're another road car guy with no track experience and zero seat time in anything serious. Ever driven a kart? I'm all ears.


Lol, considering f1 cars have power steering and don’t require much physical effort to turn, he probably did say the go kart was closest.
The idea that your go kart is somehow more difficult to drive than stock car, sports car, rally, trophy truck or anything else with suspension is just fascinating. I’m curious though, have you tried driving a full size, road legal automobile?
And yes, I had a kart when I was younger and it was a blast, but then I grew up like most people and switched to cars. Karts are great but there’s a reason the best drivers in the world aren’t giving up their careers to go back to karting.


"Seven-time World Formula One Champion Michael Schumacher finished seventh at the 13th Annual SKUSA SuperNationals in LasVegas, America over the weekend.

After qualifying 27th Schumacher continually worked his way up the order in his heat races before finishing ninth in the pre-final and climbing to seventh spot at the chequered flag of the main event in the SuperPro(KZ2) category."

You're full blown retarded Nate LOL. Here is Michael Schuamcher running at the SKUSA Super Nationals. It must really stretch your brain out to be this dumb.


Do you seriously think he gave up his f1 seat for a single go kart race or are you just grasping at anything at this point?


SH actually deleted my first comment. No he didn't quit his career for a seat. Senna however in his final years said he wanted to leave F1 and go back to karting because he was sick of the nonsense of F1.

Why are you arguing with something you are flagrantly wrong about? I'm not reaching for anything. On the phone right now with an F1 engineer. Karting is a great sport. Extremely physical. Used by MANY professional drivers to train in the off season. One of the hardest things in the world to win in at a national level.

Many drivers who are legends have stayed in karting and never went on to cars. Billy Musgrave. Paolo De Conto. David Fore. etc etc. All of these guys would destroy currently F1 champions if they went up against these guys in karts.

You sound like a legitimately uneducated person who needs to learn a lot more about racing. I'm talking to a 3x champion designer right now. We are laughing about your comments. You're not intelligent! It's ok if you want to be ignorant but don't run your mouth about things you don't know.

Schumacher finished BARELY in the top 10 in that race. The person who beat him did so by over 10-16 seconds iirc. You think that's simple? You're a little man with a little ego and a little brain. You don't know a thing.


You can firmly fk off with that nonsensical point of view that is based in...

Just as nonsensical as you claiming to know the IQ of drivers in a certain catagory of motorsports... What were you on when you wrote that unsubstantiated comment and where can I get some lol.


Oh drifting is definitely, definitely one of the lowest IQ groups of people in motorsport. I've coached for about 10 years now and on average they are wildly off the pace when you take them road racing. Their sense of car control is completely blown out of proportion. It's a show sport that doesn't have any basis in legitimate competition. This was very obvious to most enthusiasts before the sport got big and marketing dollars flooded in.

A year ago I made a comment similar to this and I believe one of the staffers or commenters replied to me "their entry speed is as high speed as entry speeds in Formula 1."

People actually believe this sh! t haha.


Man, this one's great!
I really do like grassroots stories and cars like this :)
All photos and text are


(somehow my browser cut one part of msg)

We really need more stuff like this at SPEEDHUNTERS :)

And somehow i feel strong ~Dino~ blessing here lol


Ekte G!