3.0-litre straight-six S50B30 engined BMW E30 Cabriolet

3.0-litre straight-six S50B30 engined BMW E30 Cabriolet

Open-top E30s are ideal for balmy seaside drives. And when you stir an E36 M3 engine into the mix, things all start to get a bit hectic…


CYPRUS THRILL

Words: Daniel Bevis

Photos: Foto Kibris


Everybody loves an E30 3 Series, that’s just a fact. The genius of the E30 from the outset was that there really was a version for everyone. The range was so broad and diverse that it could tick any conceivable box: if you wanted a sensible family runabout, the Touring had plenty of boot space. If you fancied a sports car, the M3 was the Touring Car halo. The 318i four-door made for a frugal commuter. Combined with a design language that was crisp and has proven to be pretty timeless, the accessible price point made for a runaway sales success through the 1980s and into the early ’90s. As is so often the case with wildly popular automobiles, however, they tend to gradually transition from ubiquitous to scarce before anyone’s had time to really notice, and that’s the position we find ourselves in today. Everybody has some kind of nostalgic memory tied up in the E30 because everybody knows somebody who owned one (or, indeed, they’ve owned them themselves in the past), and, yet when we idly browse the classifieds for 1980s 3 Series, it becomes apparent that they’re not as fabulously abundant as they once were. The days of picking up an MOT’d running project for pin money are long behind us. What’s also interesting to note is that while E30s were prime modifying fodder for many years, as these machines pass into the realm of the collector car, we’re finding a groundswell of enthusiasm for taking ravaged and altered examples and returning them to stock. The car you see here – well, that’s not exactly what’s happened, actually. Not quite. Yes, it had been modified in unsavoury ways by former keepers, and yes, its current owner has gone to great lengths to restore as much as possible of the model’s factory charm… but when it comes to concours originality, it’s not going to be winning any rosettes at Pebble Beach. Why? Because there’s an E36 M3 engine hiding under the bonnet, and that’s a very spicy upgrade indeed.


3.0-litre straight-six S50B30 engined BMW E30 Cabriolet

Creativity, it’s fair to say, was always going to be woven into the very fibres of this project build from the off, as the mastermind behind it is a fella by the name of Sadik Artun (@sadikartun), a tattoo artist of considerable talent. Someone who’s able to visualise fresh and unique new ideas and possessed of the tenacity and skill to see these visions through to their realised conclusion. “I have been interested in BMWs since I was nine years old,” he explains. “When we were little, our neighbour had an E30; each BMW model has a different beautiful appearance, sound and speed – it is a very special brand. “My first car was an E30 316i Coupé,” Sadik continues. “It was a pure and beautiful car. It was also economical. My family wanted it to be frugal and not fast, although, after a while, I decided to replace the M40 engine. I changed it to an M20B25. My mother didn’t speak to me for two weeks!” he laughs.


Seats retrimmed in leather, matching leather gaiters, M Tech 2 steering wheel, M gear knob, alloy pedals


3.0-litre straight-six S50B30 engined BMW E30 Cabriolet

Well, it’s important to keep your old ma happy, of course, but it’s equally important to set out your stall as a petrolhead if that’s the way things are likely to go, so we reckon the temporary cold shoulder was probably worth the trade-off. Indeed, it seems that once Sadik was up and running with the BMWs, there was no stopping him. “After my first car, I bought a 1987 E30 325i M Tech 1, a four-door model. When I had some problems with the motor, I set about replacing the engine and the differential. And why did I then decide to buy this convertible? Quite simply, I’d always wanted one – they’re sporty and they’re cool. I found it for sale in Kyrenia-Alsancak; it had previously belonged to my brother, but I couldn’t afford to buy it from him. The next owner kept it locked away in his garage, and when he put it up for sale, I made him an offer, which he accepted.”

3.0-litre straight-six S50B30 engined BMW E30 Cabriolet

The car had been modified in a fashion which Sadik describes as ‘extraordinary’ (which is a term seldom used positively in such matters), with some ill-suited front and rear spoilers, a set of Borbet wheels, and a general ostentatious vibe that didn’t sit well with his proclivities at all. And so, painstakingly and systematically, Sadik and his brother set about de-skanking it, binning the bad bits and sourcing good ones to replace them. The shell was repainted in its original Diamond black metallic, OEM-spec bumpers and spoilers fitted, and a superior set of wheels sorted.

“My aim from the start was to create an exclusive E30,” he explains. “I planned to give it an original sports appearance and change its unusual look.” Yep, he’s definitely achieved that: the paintwork is glorious, the trim and details beautifully presented – but this beauty is way more than skin-deep. The addition of the S50B30 engine elevates this whole endeavour from ‘sports appearance’ to simply ‘sports’. That motor is widely revered as a bit of a modern hero, the 3.0-litre straight-six found in the E36 M3, with individual throttle bodies, single-VANOS and all sorts of tricks. Sadik rebuilt the engine, renewing the ancillaries and so on, then dropped it into the E30 with the addition of an HKS intake; he then set about matching the transmission to suit, fitting a 3.15 LSD out back for maximum entertainment. Given that this car is a keeper – and the fulfilment of a lifelong dream, no less – it’s definitely an ongoing and evolving project.


3.0-litre straight-six S50B30 engined BMW E30 Cabriolet

The wheels, for instance, look superb and are a choice that Sadik’s very happy with, although there’s every chance they’ll be ousted in the future for something different. “I opted for a set of 16” BBS RS2 splitrims to replace the Borbets,” he says, “and it’s definitely very good in the corners, but I’d say it’s inadequate in terms of comfort and rim compatibility. In the future, I think 18” wheels will be more suitable.” The drivetrain is still in a phase of testing, too, so there may be transmission alterations coming in the E30’s future, and the car’s also presently running its original braking setup and the original-spec exhaust system. All of these things can be tweaked, honed and refined, it’s part of the process of perfecting the usability of it all and seeing what best suits the car.


3.0-litre straight-six S50B30 engined BMW E30 Cabriolet

Naturally, one of the most important elements of a car is the cabin, as this is where you spend your time out and about enjoying it, and this facet of the project planning becomes all the more important when you’re dealing with a convertible. After all, the fruits of your labours will be very much on show. “The front seats were worn out when I bought the car,” says Sadik. “We updated them with new leather coverings that were properly compatible with the original spec and then installed an M Tech 2 steering wheel, an M gear knob, and matching leather gaiters.” All of which appears to be correctly fitting in with that artistic vision he’d first conjured up in his head. “My favourite change to the car is the reintroduction of its factory look – this has made it more distinguished and noble-looking,” he assures us, and given that the car’s now packing E36 M3 power, that’s saying something.


3.0-litre straight-six S50B30 engined BMW E30 Cabriolet

And so, much like the E30 range overall, this particular example has a bit of something for everyone: luxury, performance, practicality, desirability. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how it progresses as Sadik gets more and more in-depth with the decision-making. You see when we press him for further details, it becomes clear that the future plans extend far beyond simply analysing and tweaking. “I’d like to turbocharge it, and of course, that will need appropriate upgrades to the brakes and transmission,” he says, and frankly, that sounds like an outstanding idea. But for now, even before the boost, what he and his brother have put together here is something pretty wonderful. An appreciating modern classic, stripped of its questionable modifications and reverted to stock, then its performance amplified with an M3 twist. Certain onlookers may scoff at the M3 badge on the grille, but they’ll have their minds changed when Sadik opens the bonnet (or squirms balletically and rapidly toward the horizon) – this is an old-school hero, reworked for the modern age.

M Tech 2 steering wheel, M gear knob, and alloy pedals spruce up the cabin

The shell was repainted in its original Diamond black metallic, OEM-spec bumpers and spoilers fitted, and a superior set of wheels sorted

TECHNICAL DATA S50 E30

  • ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 3.0-litre straight-six S50B30, HKS Super Power Flow induction kit. Five-speed manual gearbox, 3.15 LSD
  • CHASSIS: 16” BBS RS2 split-rims, Bilstein Sport dampers (front), MK Motorsport dampers (rear)
  • EXTERIOR: Full repaint in original Diamond black metallic, smoked headlights, clear indicators, blacked-out chrome
  • INTERIOR: Seats retrimmed in leather, matching leather gaiters, M Tech 2 steering wheel, M gear knob, alloy pedals

there’s an E36 M3 engine hiding under the bonnet, and that’s a very spicy upgrade indeed

The 3.0-litre S50 swap has given this E30 some serious performance. This E30 has been returned to its stock appearance, and looks so much better for it.

The front seats were worn out when I bought the car. We updated them with new leather coverings that were properly compatible with the original spec and then installed an M Tech 2 steering wheel, an M gear knob, and matching leather gaiters

The seats were treated to a full retrim

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