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Last Post 31 Jul 2012 11:47 PM by  Fair
Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car: BMW E30 V8
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Veteran Member

Veteran Member

22 Jul 2012 04:01 PM

Well it has come to that time in the life of one of our long term project cars to let someone else have fun with it for a change. We've run out of upgrades and tweaks to do to this BMW, and we need room for the next project build at the Vorshlag shop.

This is the eBay Auction: - Opening bid starts at $2011. Happy bidding!

  • Three year Project Build Thread -
  • 1900+ Pictures in the Build Gallery -
  • $2010 GRM Challenge Event Pics/video:
  • $2011 GRM Challenge Event Pics/video:
The car that is being auctioned here is our $2011 GRM Challenge winning BMW E30. If you are interested in this car PLEASE go read that build thread linked above. This car has had upwards of 1000 man hours of custom fabrication work done to it over the last 3 years - all of which are shown, step by step. I bought this car in late 2009, worked with an all volunteer crew of about 15 folks and we put together a V8 powered, lightweight, wide-body beast that we took to the 2010 running of the Grassroots Motorsports magazine "$20XX Challenge". Each year the budget goes up by one dollar, to match the year ($2011 in 2011). This is a magazine sponsored event where teams build a car for roughly $2000 in parts (minus safety gear and some other items) and compete in three events - an autocross, a drag race, and a judged car show. We managed to finish our car minutes before we left for the 2010 event, and had no testing whatsoever under our belts.

1033989955_jzPM7-S.jpg DSC5406-S.jpgLeft: Paul Costas driving to 7th place finish in the GRM Challenge auto-x in 2010. Right: Costas driving to 1st place at the 2011 GRM autox!

As you might expect, completing the car hours before the 2010 event was is not the plan, especially when none of us had been to or knew what to expect at this event. We went there hoping to do well but only managed to place 7th out of ~50 in the autocross, did "OK" in the concours judging, but not so well in the drag race portion. We had rushed a number of "finish items" and needed to regroup for the next year.

By the 2011 running of this same event we had done a bit of finish work, improved items that didn't work in 2010, added a new "BMW Art Car" livery (an homage to the 2010 Le Mans competition E92 M3 race car, with the "rainbow explosion" theme designed by Jeff Koons), and most importantly had done extensive track and autocross testing. We went back in October 2011 to try this Challenge again. With a much better handling car we won the autocross portion of the event and did well enough in the concours to win the overall crown. This winning car has now been featured in a GRM magazine article, on their cover, and even in their ad promoting the $2012 Challenge event.

GRM-ad-June2012-S.jpg grm-cover-rough-4-12-S.jpg scan0161-S.jpg 1216662029_wWQZn-S.jpgLeft: Ad from June 2012 GRM issue. Center Left: Cover of April 2012 GRM. Center Right: 4 page article, Oct 2010. Right: NASA TT event May 2011

After our car won the GRM Challenge event in its second year we had done what we set out to do. Then I made the decision to retire this E30 from this severely budget-restricted shoot-out and prepare it for track and street use with some more sensible parts, a number of upgrades, and a lot of detail work. Since there was no longer a strict dollar limit on parts and we could use our regular paid Vorshlag staff to prepare it, update to some higher end parts, and 8 months later we have gone a little overboard. Off came the $10 used shocks and homemade coilover conversion and on went AST 4100 coilovers. $200 worth of circle track steel 15x10" wheels were removed in favor of $2500 worth of CCW 3-piece 18x11" wheels with 285 Hoosier race tires. The front E36 325i brakes and spindles left to make way for E36 M3 hardware.

DSC7116-S.jpg DSC7123-S.jpgLeft: Fresh T-5 going onto the QuickTime scattershield. Right: Low mileage "L33" 5.3L aluminum V8 being cleaned up for installation May 2012

The old engine was an iron block/aluminum headed 5.3L "LM7" engine, which was a truck variant of the popular Chevrolet LS1 engine family. With stock internals + a big camshaft it made 355 whp, which was plenty of grunt to motivate this 2580 pound car. We've run it on a road course at a NASA Time Trial event and it was quick enough in early 2011 to run with TTS cars. In early 2012 we pulled the heavier iron block LM7 and replaced it with an all-aluminum "L33" 5.3L V8, for an 80 pound weight savings, which has all stock internals and the original camshaft. This engine sits in an engine bay that has been coated with grey POR-15.

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These factory rating on the "L33" V8 is 315 hp, through restrictive stock exhaust manifolds, so with the custom full length headers it should make roughly 320-330 whp. The engine is held in place by custom made engine mounts using polyurethane inserts, similar to those used in our popular E36 LS1 swap kits. The transmission is a Borg Warner T5 connected to the engine behind a ($580) Quick Time SFI-rated scattershield, with a C5 Z06 Corvette clutch and pressure plate. This scattershield allows for the use of any Ford T5 or the heavier duty Tremec 3550/TKO series of transmissions.

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The front suspension includes custom Vorshlag-based camber plates (redesigned in 2012 for less caster), E36 M3 lower control arms, and the aforementioned AST 4100 struts - made for an E36 M3. The rear suspension has beefed up E30 lower trailing arms, custom Nylon subframe and control arm bushings, aluminum AST 4100 shocks in the proper E30 length, and an adjustable camber and toe eccentric kit. We also ditched the stock "single ear" rear diff mount for the dual-ear E36 diff cover + a fabricated steel tubular structure to hang it from. The stock spare tire well sheet metal has removed and some .125" thick aluminum plate is in its place. Lots of fabrication work went into that. An Odyssey PC680 gell-style AGM battery resides in the stock location behind the right rear tire.

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Brakes on this car consist of a transplant fro the E36 chassis, like much of the suspension. The front brakes are (now) E36 M3 spindles and 12.5" diameter rotors, M3 calipers, and PFC-01 track brake pads. The rear consists of E36 3-series disc brakes transplanted to the E30 trailing arms, with new E36 rear wheel bearings and new E30 M3 rear halfshafts. The differential is a Limited Slip unit from an E30, but there is no parking brake.

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Fuel System updates in 2012 include a complete re-plumbing of the system using -6 AN fittings and stainless braided lines at all locations, all the way into the tank, P-clamped every couple of feet and routed cleanly under the car. Fire sleeve covers both the feed and return lines inside the engine bay and these connect to an LS1 fuel rail with AN fittings welded in place. A Russel billet fuel filter is used along with a new 255 lph Walbro in-tank fuel pump, feeding 21 #/hr LS1 Camaro injectors, a 3.5" MAF, and a custom tune on the GM based ECM. The intake manifold is a Camaro LS1 unit with a Camaro LS1 throttle body as well. A custom cold-air inlet with a big K&N open element air filter in a sealed heat shield completes the intake tract.

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Body modifications include a lightened hood and trunk, both of which are pinned on for maximum weight savings. The roof has a sunroof delete with a steel panel, covered in a vinyl Texas flag detail to hide the not-so-perfect welding up job there. The front and rear fenders were clearanced for the 18x11" wheels and custom all-steel, wide-body, box flares were made at each corner.

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This fender modification alone transformed the look of the car, even when it wore nothing more than a boring flat black paint job (as shown above in October 2010). With the art car theme + the 18x11" wheels + the new front splitter it really looks wild - you cannot drive 2 blocks without people trying to take the car's picture. Whoever buys this car should be prepared for impromptu car shows wherever you stop and get out!

When we purchased this car it has a leak in the sunroof and trunk seals, so there was a tiny bit of rust in the floor pan and trunk. The rust was removed when we removed the spare tire well section, and properly patched with fresh steel in the floorboard area, them primed and painted. We also used steel tubing welded in from the firewall to the strut tower to reinforced the front upper frame arms - to deal with the grip of these monster race tires. BMW E36 generation front and rear bumper covers replace the frumpy old E30 covers and big chrome bumpers - there is no real "crash bumper" at either end, just so you know. The rest of the exterior is stock - with functional wipers, brake lights, head lights, custom LED front turn signals, all of the stock glass, and more. In July 2012 we added a custom front splitter and undertray, which can be seen under construction in this 1st splitter post and then the 2nd.

The black interior of this 1986 325e started out in 2009 with a a still perfect dash and door panels, plus some aftermarket replacement carpet set the previous owner had installed. We removed the roof liner and A- & C-pillar upper plastic panels, as well as the back seat, but everything else is still there. The stock fuel level, speedometer and tachometer work, plus we've added aftermarket mechanical oil pressure + water temp gauges and a volt meter. There is a lighted switch for the aftermarket 2800 CFM electric fan, which runs through its own relay. The radio and "warning center" openings are covered with custom aluminum panels, and it looks nice and tidy inside. There is no air conditioning system in this car but the heater is still there, and it works.

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The back seat area has some black carpeting to cover the missing back seat. A bolt-in Kirk Racing 4-point roll bar made of 1.75" DOM steel tubing resides in back. It was powder coated with a custom black "crinkle finish", looks perfect, and has a 2.5 pound fire bottle attached. Two I/O port seat-back braces connect the roll bar to the backs of the aluminum UltraShield Rally Pro upholstered racing seats. A pair of new, red G-Force 6-point racing harnesses also attach to the roll bar, and wind their way through the shoulder slots in the front seats, attaching to the floor via G-Force clip-in loops, bolted to the floor with spreader plates. The driver's seat has a custom Sparco dual-locking slider for fore-aft adjustment while the passenger seat is bolted to the floor with a custom Vorshlag bracket. It is not a show-car interior, but it looks pretty clean and tidy for a race car.

1207806659_MbH6h-S.jpg 1034574571_e33fu-S.jpg

In 2012 this 1986 model year BMW turned 25, which means that in the state of Texas it is now exempt from annual emissions inspection. That's good because this car has zero emissions equipment - just long tube headers joined into a dual 3" into single 3" merge Y-pipe, feeding into a Flowmaster Series 50, 3-chamber, 3" in/out muffler out back. The entire system aft of the headers is made from 3" mandrel bent tubing. Making the custom full length headers took 30+ hours but they fit, work well, and make great power. The car sounds mean when opened up but is not at all ear splitting at speed (sub 100 dB). We had a state Safety Inspection performed in May 2012 and paid for new state registration in June 2012, with a clear Texas title. The car also comes with a NASA log book (classed in TTU) and a framed copy of the article in the October 2011 Grassroots Motorsports magazine 4-page spread.

NASA Time Trial is a great place for this car to play!

What should this car be used for? It can be street driven on a nice day - it has functional electric windows, turn signals, a horn, brake lights, headlights, and adequate cooling for a jaunt across town. The splitter makes speed bumps a thing of the past, and care should be taken on steep driveway inclines. The spring rates are now much more reasonable for street use as well. That said its not something you will want to drive daily, without A/C or heat, nor a radio. Maybe take it to a local car show for fun. Where it really shines is on a road course, where it will blast from corner to corner with that LSx V8 thrust! The brakes work well when warmed up and it makes monster grip on the 285 Hoosiers.

With the interior in place, 2nd seat added, the larger 18x11" wheels, new splitter the E30 V8 weighs in at 2534 lbs

The auction started 7/22/2012 at 12 PM CST (noon) with a $2011 opening bid, and will go for 7 days, unless someone grabs early with the "buy it now" price of $20,011. That option will disappear if the bidding gets close to it. We believe it could sell for close to $20,000, but it might go for more, or maybe less. Considering how much time and work we have put in this little car for the past 3 years, not to mention the list of updates and high end parts added in 2011-2012, that's a bargain. We would gladly build another one like this, but it would cost closer to $30,000. The E30 LS1 swap is DIFFICULT, which is why we encourage people to use our E36 LS1 kits instead (or our upcoming E46 LS1 swap kit). If you have questions that you cannot find answers to in this post or ad, or in the linked build thread, contact us at

Happy bidding!

Veteran Member

Veteran Member

31 Jul 2012 11:47 PM

Project Update for July 31, 2012: The eBay auction ended last Sunday at noon, finally. It was a nerve wracking week of waiting (luckily we were insanely busy on another project, which kept us preoccupied), with over 6000 views of the auction, nearly 100 watchers, and 34 bids. When the dust cleared and seven days were up, the E30 had met reserve, selling for $18,000.

To some of you that might seem like a lot for a "$2011" budget car, but in reality that's a fair price for what you get. It could have gone for more, but I'm not complaining. Remember, we had a LOT of labor hours in this car (say... a thousand+) and in 2012 upgraded major components that were originally purchased under the old $2011 budget, swapping them for proper parts that were well beyond that price cap. The new owner will be bombing around road courses in California soon, which is a perfect use for this car. Already paid for, title already sent out, transporter coming soon.

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The E30 has been sitting in our shop behind the Brianne Corn Racing 2005 Subaru STi Hill Climb car (under a car cover), waiting to be sold. We've been thrashing on this Subaru for two straight weeks doing way more work than should be possible in that time frame. You can read more about that project here.

A couple of days before the auction ended I was surprised to see the eBay auction and a write-up on Bring-A-Trailer, where vintage and/or race car featured on their site. There were some funny comments on there, of course, like: "This thing looks like it just drove through a herd of My Pretty Ponies. And hit every single one." Cracked me up! :D

Epic E30 Picture

Here's a nice picture taken of the E30 today, that our new photo/media guy whipped up for fun during lunch. Wow. Yea, Brandon has skills (he took some of the most memorable pics of the E30 previously, like this one, and that one). We'll try to get him to take a few more shots of it before the car is gone. You can get a full sized copy of this picture above, if you want a desktop background. Great, great shot... was a composite image of 6 or so individual shots with unique spot lighting on each. Expect more amazing photographs on Vorshlag project builds, race event coverage, and product pictures than you've ever seen before. He's going to Pikes Peak for the week and we will have those photos to show later in August.

Its going to be a sad day when this little E30 goes away - just like when we sold our silver STU-prepped 1997 M3 in February, or the E36 Alpha car in 2009. Having spent so much time working on this car, testing, tuning, upgrading, repairing - its always hard to let these long term, big effort projects go. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into this build. An extremely frustrating 2010 showing, then the amazing 2011 victory, and a rebirth with all new wheels/tires/brakes/suspension/drivetrain in 2012. I wanted to give a big thanks to everyone here who read the build thread, made suggestions + helped guide us through this project, who cheered us on, played "guess the engine" (you were good sports!), and to all of those that chipped in volunteer labor. We're going to have a party for the volunteers once this car is gone, too.


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