Tag Archives: E30 M3 Sport Evoultion

Technicolor Dream

11 Nov

By Matt McCarron

Aponte-Rios' E30 M3 makes its way down pit lane following a successful BMW CCA club race on Oct. 22 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Color. This word can be described as many different things, such as vividness of visual appearance resulting from the presence of brightly colored things. In the case of BMW enthusiast and BMW CCA racer Miguel Aponte-Rios’ 1989 E30 M3 race car it describes an over-the-top artistic individual expression of automotive art and represents one man’s long-term love affair with a car from his youth.


“The love for the E30 started back when I was in high school,” said Aponte-Rios.

Although he had always been a follower of all things fast and four-wheeled Aponte-Rios lacked the means to purchase the cars he wanted in his native Puerto Rico.

“I was into cars in Puerto Rico as much as I could. I could never afford anything. I had a Chevrolet Z24 Cavalier convertible,” he said, chuckling to himself. “That was my first ‘sort of’ fast car.”

Luckily, his time in the Z24 would be forgotten. Everything changed when his older brother received the very first E30 M3 to arrive on the island.

“As soon as it came in I just fell in love with it,” he said. “I was always drawing it, you know. As a teenager you’re always drawing stuff in class, it was all E30 M3s.”

His older brother might have owned one of the most desirable cars in the entire country, but it didn’t mean Aponte-Rios could take part in the driving pleasure or experience what the car was all about, as his brother refused to let him drive the car.

This problem went away when his brother had a change of heart during Aponte-Rios’ first week of college, letting him take the iconic M3 for the weekend. After getting a proper dose of BMW newest 4-cylinder creation he vowed to get one of his own.


As the years passed and Aponte-Rios moved from Puerto Rico to the United States his dreams of owning an E30 M3 took a back seat to other priorities. It wasn’t until a fateful move to Boston, Mass., from the Pacific Northwest in 1999 that would reignite his enthusiasm and uncover a newfound passion for autocross and racing. While living in the area his roommate encouraged Aponte-Rios to take his 1998 Z3 with a 2.8-liter, inline six cylinder to autocross events in the area. After taking his roommate up on the offer and attending a meeting at HMS Motorsport in Danvers, Mass., Aponte-Rios decided to give autocross and other performance driving events a shot. It didn’t take long for him to become hooked.

“I went to my first autocross with the Z3 as it was, and it was just completely awesome,” he recounted. “Within six months I had the HMS roll bar, two racing seats in the car, HMS harness, I started looking at suspension, all this stuff.”

After autocrossing for a few years Aponte-Rios started to get drawn to the racetrack, eventually becoming a certified high-performance driving instructor. During this time, while he was spending more and more time on the track, he moved from the Z3 to an M Roadster. After the M Roadster Aponte-Rios bought a 1995 3-series wide body, replacing the original race engine with a more powerful S54 sourced from a ’01-’06 E46 M3. The E36, with a strong power-to-weight ratio, was a perennial contender at BMW CCA club races and other sponsored races at such racetracks as New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS), Watkins Glen, New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) and the Monticello Motor Club.

Colorful, geometric lines originate from the left front wheel and conclude at the right rear bumper.


Regardless of his success with the wide body, Aponte-Rios was consistently faced with being overly quick compared to other cars he was racing against. Longing for a return to hard-nosed, fierce competition with fellow enthusiasts Aponte-Rios looked for something “challenging,” something other than simply mashing the throttle and pulling away from his competitors.

“With the wide body, in some ways, it was easier because the car was so fast,” he said. “A lot of times it got sort of boring.”

For years the Founder and President of Turner Motorsport, Will Turner, owned his own personal Alpine White E30 M3 track car. Aponte-Rios had urged Turner to sell him the vehicle, which sat unused for approximately four years, but to no avail. Even with the prospect of acquiring the car in doubt, Aponte-Rios told Turner he wanted to be the first one to know if the car was to come up for sale.

“I told him (Turner) when you decide to do it, I don’t care what happens, I want it,” he said.

Then, as Aponte-Rios debated what to do to improve and progress with his overall driving skills an Internet ad appeared that changed everything.  It just so happened that during this time Turner had decided to post his E30 M3 track car for sale online.

During the same time Aponte-Rios contacted a fellow driving instructor in New Jersey who had been “obsessed” with the wide body every time the car visited NJMP. Then, poof, as if by magic, just 24 hours after the phone call Aponte-Rios’ E36 wide body was gone to a new owner, leaving him with only one thing left to do, buy Will Turner’s E30 M3.

“It was hard seeing the wide body gone,” he said.

But his disappointment was short-lived as 36 hours after seeing the E36 leave on a trailer for the last time he was sitting in Will Turner’s office completing the paperwork for the purchase of the car he had wanted for more than 20 years.

“It was, sort of, meant to be I guess,” he said. “It just felt right, and it’s something I’ve always wanted since I was young.”

The E30 M3 before it underwent its technicolor transformation.


The car he had drawn endlessly during high school was now sitting in his garage, but Aponte-Rios had to decide what he wanted to do with the car. When purchased the M3 was in its original BMWCCA J-Stock racing configuration, meaning the vehicle was largely unchanged in many respects, especially the motor. The 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder S14 engine was completely untouched, except for a performance chip, while the rest of the car was outfitted with relatively minor modifications needed for track use and to operate within class guidelines. These included J-Stock suspension, Borla Cat-Back Exhaust, reinforcements to the front and rear sway bars and subframe, beefier differential mounts, carbon fiber brake duct system, stainless steel brake lines and a full roll cage. The exterior of the vehicle had recently been treated to a brand-new paint job in the original color. Alpine White has been a classic and popular paint color on BMWs for decades, with many factory-sponsored race cars donning the snowy white shade. Regardless of the shiny new paint, Aponte-Rios was again drawn to his childhood and the BMWs of yesteryear for inspiration.


Whether it was roll bars and racing seats on his Z3 or an extreme wide body kit on his E36, Aponte-Rios has always pushed for individuality in his cars.

“Throughout the history of the cars that I’ve had I’ve always tried to be unique in one way or another,” he said. “With the E30, it was the past of BMWs that was calling.”

With that thought in mind and a literal “blank canvas” standing before him Aponte-Rios decided to create his own interpretation of BMW art.

“I still remember during those early years when all the art cars started coming out. I figured to do something unique with the car, do something related to BMW Art Cars,” he said.

To put his plan into action Aponte-Rios contacted Image 4, a graphic design firm based in Manchester, N.H. The company owners, Jeff and Liz Baker, were more than willing to take on the project, especially considering their background as Spec Miata racers. As Aponte-Rios began to explain his visions about what he wanted the car to look like, designer Amanda Christensen started to draw potential designs for the vinyl wrap that would eventually cover the car. The final design for the car had two different symbolic meanings. The first had to do with Aponte-Rios’ appreciation for BMW Motorsport and the history of the brand.

“It has some meanings hidden in there. One of them is if you really look at the colors that are in it, it evokes the original, very early BMW Motorsport colors,” he said.

Second, and more importantly, the design and where the colors originate from on the car reinforced Aponte-Rios’ belief that good, fast driving on the racetrack all starts with the front driver’s side wheel and tire.

“To me the most important tire and wheel on the car is the driver’s front side. I feel like that’s the one that dictates everything. How close you get into a turn, how fast you go through a turn,” he said.

Work on the E30 M3 commenced on Tuesday, Oct. 18, at Image 4’s headquarters with the laying and application of the vinyl graphic and continued for two full days. When Aponte-Rios brought the car to New Hampshire Motor Speedway the following weekend to take part in the BMW Autumn Festival and to race in various BMWCCA club races, a significant amount of fans and fellow racers stopped by the garage to inquire about the newly redesigned M3. And they did so with good reason. Aponte-Rios’ artistic rendition of BMW art is truly something to behold.

“I don’t want something that you go around the car and it’s all the same. I wanted something that looked different every corner you looked at it,” he said.

And that is exactly what Image 4 created. The sheer amount of color that emanates from the front driver’s side wheel arc looks like an explosion of color not seen since Jackson Pollock last picked up a paintbrush. As the design moves outward from the point of origin the geometric shapes and lines become wider and more pronounced in size, ending on the passenger side rear bumper. The characteristic flared fenders, front bumper and legendary round headlights give the E30 an aggressive appearance that compliments its otherwise outgoing and colorful personality.


With the artistic transformation and other upgrades complete Aponte-Rios was finally ready to realize the original mission he had set forth before buying the E30 M3, to return to competitive and fulfilling racing with BMWs, particularly other E30 M3s. Prior to racing the car at New Hampshire Aponte-Rios expressed his excitement in having to fight for position and face greater obstacles in overcoming his competitors on the track.

“With the E30 I feel like it’s definitely going to be more challenging,” he said. “It’s a totally different car. It’s not a ‘put your foot down and go’ car, it’s a momentum car, so the braking going into a turn, exiting a turn, driving through the turn is completely different.”

Before the series of club races at NHMS Aponte-Rios’ M3 had been moved from its former J-Stock class designation to M3T (M3 Touring), a higher class allowing drivers to make substantial changes and modifications to the vehicle’s engine, suspension and to reduce the overall weight. However, as the race began on the afternoon of Oct. 22, Aponte-Rios’ M3 was only placed in M3T due to a carbon fiber rear spoiler added following the purchase. In spite of the lack of modifications, Aponte-Rios and his E30 M3 claimed top honors for the M3T class in the three races he participated throughout the weekend, posting at best lap time of 1 minute 14.8 seconds.

Aponte-Rios' E30 M3 exits Turn 6 (The Bowl) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.


With the 2011 race season at an end for Miguel and his artsy M3, the car has begun to be prepared for the next round of appearances in the spring.

The first modification was to drastically drop the curb weight. All non-essential items from the interior and engine bay, such as the AC compressor, AC lines, power steering and heaps of plastic will be removed. Following the reduction of clutter on the interior the S14 power plant will also be removed and will undergo a large overhaul, increasing the output and making the car more suitable for M3T competition. It will include the addition of race cams, reprogramming of the electronic control unit (ECU) and other modifications allowed in the class. The E30 M3 will also be fitted with a host of improved and original OEM components to make the vehicle handle, stop and accelerate properly including coilover suspension, Eibach springs, stock brake rotors with racing pads on all four corners, fully-built 4.45 racing differential and a lightweight clutch and flywheel.

Despite the vibrant exterior design, under the hood and in the cockpit the car will retain its original color with a fresh coat of Alpine White paint. Ironically, it’s a straightforward switch that gives some contrast to this otherwise outrageous, one-off M3. The valve cover will be painted Alpine White.

Although BMW produced over 18,204 units worldwide, 5,300 in North America Aponte-Rios’ E30 M3 is special. It has an unequaled combination of provenance as a racing car, historical significance as a road car and one-off artistic styling; it’s truly one-of-a-kind.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

An icon in motorsports, the BMW 3-series.

15 Sep

By Matt McCarron

BMW M3 GT2 Art Car Design By Jeff Koons: Courtesy BMW Group

In the world of motorsports specific names instinctively come to mind. Manufacturers such as Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche have developed a reputation on their ability to transfer on-track victories into the successful marketing and sales of production cars. As the saying goes “win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”

Few vehicles in automotive history have done this more effectively than the BMW 3-series. Since the first 3-series rolled off the assembly line on May 2, 1975 its race and road-going cars have been inextricably linked. BMW Motorsport GmbH, which was established in 1972 began racing the new 3-series as soon as they were able to produce a track-ready vehicle. By 1978, just three years after the car’s initial launch, the 3-series had already cemented itself as a perennial title contender in a number of races and championships.

The close relationship between road and track versions of the 3-series would again make its presence known in 1985 with the introduction of what would become one of the most successful touring cars in history, the BMW M3. Again, it didn’t take long this special motorsport-derived version of the 3-series to make its way to the racetrack. In 1987 the E30 M3 began racing in touring car championships throughout Europe. The E30 M3 would go on to claim a total of 1,436 victories throughout the world, including the two titles in the no-holds-barred Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM), two European Touring Car Championships (1987, 1988) and the World Touring Car Championship in 1987.

1987 Zakspeed BMW E30 M3: Courtesy BMW Group

Besides winning overall manufacturers and drivers titles the BMW 3-series has also become a staple in long distance endurance races such as the Nurburgring 24 Hours. Multiple generations and variations of the 3-series, from the 320i and 325i to the M3 GTR V8 and M3 GT2 have claimed the crown at the ‘ring and other prestigious racetracks around the world.

More than 35 years have passed since the 3-series was first unveiled to the world. Although the manufacturers and drivers have changed the philosophy for BMW’s most popular model line has not wavered. BMW continues to enter the 3-series in a number of racing series in both the United States and abroad. As in years past, 2012 will mark a new chapter in the history of the renowned 3-series. Following years of absence BMW will return to the German Touring Car Championship with the all-new BMW M3 DTM.  In addition the 3-series will continue to be raced by BMW factory teams and private operations in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the Grand-Am Road Racing Series.

BMW M3 DTM Concept Car: Courtesy BMW Group

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

A barn full of Bavaria’s best

9 May

By Matt McCarron

As we made a right hand turn onto MA-122 the anticipation began to build. This increase of enthusiasm also caused a body part to become overly active, namely the right foot, as the car made its way down the gradual, long-sweeping turns of MA-122. Any car enthusiast would obviously get excited to see a great gathering of fine automobiles. However, this was no museum, it was a private car collection, the first one we had the opportunity to experience.

At 2 p.m. we rolled up the perfectly paved driveway and looked for a place to park, expecting to see a large number of garage stalls attached to, or beside the house. But it was surprising to see there was only two stalls in sight. All of a sudden thoughts began to flood the brain. Is this the right house? Did we make a wrong turn? Thankfully all apprehension was quickly replaced by the excitement that had been there minutes before when we caught a glimpse of what we had come here for.

Most people would have noticed the large wooden barn before picking out something smaller. But no, instead of admiring the barn our eyes were transfixed on the black E28 M5 race car that lay parked to the right side of the large barn door. After meeting the owner we began to make our way toward the “Auto Bahn”.

As the side entrance opened the anticipation level reached its climax. As the door swung open the refreshing aroma of freshly cut pine filled the air and six objects came into view, all of which were accompanied by a neat, snug-fitting car cover that sat atop each vehicle.

1989 BMW E30 M3 with 54,139 original miles

As the owner removed each protective cover from the vehicle the true scope of his collection was finally displayed. Within this unassuming barn sat some of the finest and most iconic cars ever produced by BMW.

There were two E30 M3‘s, one Diamond Black, the other Cinnabar Red. The red example was an ’89 with just a hair over 54,000 original miles on the clock. The bright red exterior paint was complimented by Natur (light beige) bison leather interior which was original and largely unchanged from the day it left the Munich-Milbertshofe factory. His second M3, a 1991 example has roughly 90,000 miles. However, unlike the ’89, this M3 is as far from factory stock as a E30 M3 could possibly be. All aspects, from the 2.5-liter engine which produces 275 horsepower, to the Sport Evolution interior have been professionally upgraded and improved.

After viewing his one-of-a-kind 1972 BMW 2002 M2 conversion and his pristine example of an E28 M5, we moved onto what might be considered by many to be the crowd jewel of the collection, a 1985 Alpina B7 Turbo. Not only is this particular Alpina in wonderful condition, it’s also incredibly rare. Only 236 units of the B7 Turbo were produced between 1984 and 1987, and this particular example is one of four in North America. And if being one of four just isn’t good enough, it’s also the only example to ever be imported new to the United States.

1985 Alpina B7 Turbo: 1 of 4 in North America

The Alpina B7 Turbo is powered by a BMW 3.5-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine, producing between 300 and 300 horsepower and 331 lb-ft. This significant amount of horsepower and torque is the result of engine modifications Alpina performed on all E28 B7 Turbos. These include lightweight Mahle pistons, modified cylinder head, 264 degree camshaft, tuned exhaust manifold and headers and a KKK K27 turbocharger.

After viewing all the vehicles, and chatting with the owner for a bit it was time to leave. We’ve seen plenty of beautiful automobiles, most of which have been at car shows, special exhibits and museums. However, these exhibitions often prohibit the general public from sitting in, or getting too close to the vehicles. Being able to see a car collection up close and personal is something that should be experienced by all serious and appreciating car enthusiasts. So, if you happen to know or run into someone who has a car collection ask them if they would be willing to show it. If they agree you can rest-assured you won’t regret it.

More photos can be seen at Germanautonews’ Flickr page.

More videos of these vehicles and more can be seen at our YouTube channel.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

First ride E30 M3: Superb handling, engine and classic BMW styling

3 May

By Matt McCarron

What do you get when you take an E30 M3 in pristine condition, add a list of modifications as long as the Great Wall of China, some windy back roads and an experienced driver? A memorable experience, that’s what.

When GermanAutoNews was offered the chance to take a ride in an E30 M3, it didn’t take much time to come up with a decision. After all, this is the E30 M3 we’re taking about, a car synonymous with the S14, a high-revving inline four-cylinder that loves to be pushed above 3,000 rpm, and impeccable handling thanks in part to the vehicle’s 52 to 48 weight distribution. However, this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill E30 M3. In fact it’s about as far from the stock North American spec E30 M3 as it could possibly get.

1991 BMW E30 M3

This special E30 M3 was built by Turner Motorsport of Amesbury, Mass. To make this M3 stand out from the pack Turner went all-in with just about every option or upgrade available including a 2.5-liter stroker kit, stage 3 ported/polished head, Evo 3 throttle bodies, Evo 2 camshaft, B&B Triflow muffler, heavy duty clutch, lightweight flywheel, coilover suspension and a whole host of other improvements.

All of these improvements were evident as the M3 rounded the corner of Haigis Mall at UMass Amherst. The vehicle’s exhaust gave off a subtle yet undeniable drone as it made its way toward our camera, and the suspension could be seen trying to keep up with the never-ending bumps and dips that are much too prevalent around the UMass campus. The final component to be experienced before even entering the vehicle was the award-winning sound system, featuring two Focal 27VX 11″ subwoofers,  165EX 3-way and 136EX 2-way speakers and Precision Power 4400 and 2600 amplifiers.

As the ride began we hoped the owner and driver of the M3 would drive the car like it was supposed to be driven. And it didn’t take long to figured out the owner wasn’t intent on leisurely driving around town, all the while being careful to stay under 3,000 rpms and stay at the recommended speed limit.

Actually, from the moment we left the first stoplight it was apparent this was going to be a fun ride. So we fastened our seat belt and away we went. The 2.5-liter S14 screamed with ever-growing intensity as it roared towards redline, while the heavy duty clutch gave the ride a sudden and attention-grabbing snap as it ripped into the next gear. Both upshifts and downshifts came quickly, maybe even somewhat harshly, courtesy of the five-speed Dogleg transmission and upgraded drivetrain.

2.5-liter S14 with Evo II valve and intake cover paint design

The stiff and tight suspension, featuring coilovers along with upgraded camber plates, control arms, strut braces and sway bars made taking corners at high speeds a thing of beauty. There was practically no bending and no nose-diving whatsoever when carving through a corner. The 52 to 48 front to rear weight distribution really showed its worth on the back roads, allowing little to no understeer or oversteer.

As we made our way back toward the campus we really showed the under-appreciated power of the 2.5-liter S14. In today’s high-end, high-performance car industry, where more and more vehicles are approaching or eclipsing 500 horsepower, the 270 provided in this M3 might seem like a pathetic amount. I mean really, the Hyundai Sonata Turbo puts out 274 hp, but that doesn’t matter. The Sonata might have more horsepower, but the S14 delivers all 270 horses to the driver in an unforgettable crescendo of noise and emotion. The S14 screams and howls in ways modern engines just can’t match. In a world where naturally aspirated engines are increasingly being discontinued in favor of forced induction units, the S14 stands alone as one of the truly great naturally aspirated four-cylinder engines of all time.

Our ride in the E30 M3 showed us something. It isn’t the most powerful, quickest or most eye-catching vehicle we have been in. However, when push comes to shove it just might be the best. It combines a raw, un-computerized experience, something that is becoming harder and harder to find in today modern vehicles, and something we will not soon forget.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com