The CA Tuned E30s

Photography by Watson Lu

If you are an E30 or 2002 enthusiast, chances are you've heard of CA Tuned. If you haven't heard of them, they're an auto body shop located in Sacramento, California who also specialize in the restoration of classics and sell car parts/car lifestyle merchandise. Owned by Igor Polishchuk, CA Tuned originally started out as a hobby, serving the purpose of a hang out and a club in early August '02. A shop was rented for working on their own cars.

At the time they would head down to LA to buy a few things to bring back and sell to local car enthusiasts. They would sell seats, body kits, neons and parts of that sort (this was around "The Fast & The Furious era" after all). Igor and his friends would buy cars found on Craigslist and at local tow yards, fix them up and re-sell them. It went from a hobby to a thrill and after a year it became a lifestyle. They went from 2 cars to 17 cars and landed a liquidation account with Scion in '04. One of the guys that they did work for was selling his shop called Honda Heaven. The shop was purchased for their clientele and renamed Auto Heaven.

As the "TF&TF era" faded so did Igor's tuning passion, but two years ago that fire was rekindled. He missed the fun of it all; so he relaunched CA Tuned and says it's been non-stop fun since then.

CA Tuned welcomes all cars, but their true love has always belonged to BMW. Igor had owned an '87 325 convertible in high school and had a thing for older bimmers. He's owned a ton of E36s and E39s, but the E30 always reigned supreme over every other chassis for him. "They are the perfect car. Easy to work on and parts are reasonable."

I mean if money was no issue I think we would have a serious problem. I’d have every year, every color E30 as a collection... like what Magnus Walker is doing with the Porsche 911.

About a year before the relaunch of CA Tuned, people kept telling them that they needed to publicize their Henna build on the internet. It took a bit for Igor to agree but he eventually shared it with the world. The Henna was built for himself, but this opened up the door to meeting many new people and creating a lot of friendships.

This one is described as a driver's car. They found this '90 325i in poor condition; it didn't run, engine was totaled, broken timing belt, interior was gone, headliner and seats ripped, headlight/taillight/body damage—it needed a lot of work. So it was completely torn down and restored inside and out with factory (or better) parts.

The S50 motor and transmission was removed from a '95 M3 with 126k miles and transplanted into the E30. A Fidanza flywheel, Exedy clutch, and custom Magnaflow muffler system were also installed. To push the power of the car even further, they added a VF Engineering supercharger which let it put down 286hp to the pavement.

Eibach sway bars and a Ground Control full coilover suspension with reinforced arms improved the handling while the CA Tuned front big brake upgrade increased the stopping performance. The wheels were changed on it a couple times through the build, but it wasn't until Paul of Ehrlich Wheel Works built this set of BBS RS's that the wheels matched the same quality of the rest of the car.

Along with the interior being fully restored you'll find Monaco Seats with BMW Motorsports red seat belts, M Tech II steering wheel, and a handful of other subtle modifications.

Smoked smiley headlights, a RyanG splitter, OEM iS side skirts, euro moldings, mono wiper conversion, and a shorty antenna have dressed up the exterior to Igor's liking.

Let's move on to the white E30, aka the daily driver. It's a rust-free '86 325es from California. Although it didn't need quite the amount of work that the Henna did, they did still go over the entire car and replace everything that was needed first. All tune up parts, belts, hoses, axles, brake lines, tanks, sensors, you name it—been replaced. Extra work such as welded body reinforcements and new undercoating with rust prevention inhibitor has been done as well.

The power plant is a fully rebuilt M20 motor (M20B25) which features one of the many custom CA Tuned valve covers, intake manifolds and custom exhaust systems. The drivetrain was freshened up with a fully rebuilt Getrag 260 5-speed transmission, rebuilt 3.73 rear end with custom powder coated cover, new clutch kit, clutch master and slave, and new clutch line.

A Cardinal Red interior in mint condition was swapped in and it even has the rare ski pass option in the rear seats. The rest of the interior remains in stock form besides an upgraded CD player, ZHP shift knob, Motorsports floor mats and a custom Bavarian Restoration CA Tuned gauge cluster.

While the rear received new cross drilled rotors and performance brake pads, the front was upgraded to CA Tuned BBK Stage 2.0. This brake kit was designed for street or occasional track use. It's lowered with CA Tuned's custom coilover setup which allows them to fully adjust the ride height and damper according to preference and road condition.

The 17" Fifteen52 Tarmac wheels compliment the car very well; not too modern looking, and not a typical wheel you see on E30s. CA Tuned also went with the less popular M Tech I body kit and rear spoiler. Bosche smilies, new M3 fogs, euro grills, new roundels, new kidney grill, rear euro plate filler, and Motorsport door handles were also added to complete the exterior refreshment.

Last but certainly not least, we have "Miss Blue"—the show car of the group. An '87 325is stripped down to the shell and rebuilt from the ground up. It received a late model body conversion, all new body work and Estoril Blue code 335 BMW paint. They went with smoked smilies, euro grills, custom Motorsport roundels, and smoked Startec tail lights.

This one has a fully rebuilt M20 motor as well, but with a ported and polished cylinder head. Another one of their beautiful custom valve covers is the main attraction under the hood here. There's also a Miller Performance intake, chip, Ireland Engineering cooling hoses, Mishimoto radiator, and a custom exhaust system/muffler found in the performance department.

The interior received a rare M-technic interior, new black carpet, headliner, euro clock, euro map rear view mirror and M Tech wheel.

Custom CA Tuned Stage 3.0 BBK (12" rotors with 4 piston calipers) upgraded the brakes. Unlike  the other two E30s which have a static drop, this one has a custom Because Bags airbag performance suspension with Accuair E-level. A custom set of Fifteen52 Formula forged 2 piece wheels in 16x8/9.5" were built with perfect offsets for airing the car out when parked.

Despite the three different styles these E30s have, CA Tuned has done them in a way that makes it very apparent who built them. It all starts with the proper restoration and continues with the excellent craftsmanship and passion put into each and every build they do. I hope these cars will encourage fellow enthusiasts thinking about getting or who already have a classic BMW to restore it and preserve it. These older cars are the roots to our community and it's a joy to see them being cared for.