air ride

Features

Jonny Reiswig's E24 635csi

Photography by Dan Usmanoff @dusmanoff

Jonny’s E24 is one of the most unique examples that I’ve seen in awhile. When it was first unveiled on the internet, it immediately caught my attention. It’s so clean, but full of character at the same time. All of the small details flow really well to create a look that I’ve not really seen done before. It’s got the perfect blend of stance and vintage motorsport with a style I would expect to see coming from Japan.

Jonny used to have an E36 convertible that was distinguishable as well. He eventually sold it with plans to later obtain his (affordable) dream car. The first generation of 6 Series, the E24 was BMW’s flagship coupe of the 80’s.

Jonny’s 1987 635csi has 255k miles on it, but visibly shows little aging. He bought the car a year ago and originally wanted to make it his daily driver. At the time he was dailying an M4, so the goal was to fix up the E24 and make it reliable. The M4 was sold so it was time to fully focus on the 635. The first thing that needed addressed was the transmission, which was on its last leg. He found a good deal on another automatic transmission and had that installed. Once that was done, all he wanted to do was maybe throw on some sport springs and M-Parallels and call it a day.

Since his E36 was on air it was an option that he took into consideration. After seeing a few great examples of bagged E24’s out there though, it proved to be the winning solution. Brendan Stouffer’s @b_stouffs and Alvin Louie’s @nicmosh cars convinced Jonny to pull the trigger. He went with CAtuned’s airbag kit with Bag Riders management. Group 2 Motorsports did the install, so it was time to dial in the wheels.

Jonny worked with Austin Seeling @austin_8p to build a set of BBS RS’s. They went with 18x9” fronts and 18x10” rears with slant lips. The turbofans on the front wheels were custom designed and printed by Austin, originally meant for his Audi last year. He wanted to create something different than you usually see. The vintage BMW Motorsport center caps were a nice touch as well. Typically my excessive preference for things to be symmetrical or matching would cause me to not fully enjoy seeing two different wheels on the car. But it actually works really well and make sense with the overall theme somehow. It’s one of the details about the car that helps make it so unique.

One of the other details that really made this car was the side graphic designed by Austin. The stripes were originally going to be the same style as the ones found on Austin’s E28. However he decided to design something new to flow better with the E24’s body lines and overall look. On the rear quarter panel is the BBS logo and Katakana characters which translate to “Motorsports”. The graphic is one of Jonny’s favorite parts of the car and I completely agree. Another mod that may at first go unnoticed is the custom rear window blinds handcrafted out of wood by Austin. He took some measurements and cut them with a scroll saw in his garage. Once the fitment was perfected he finished them off with a torch to give them the black look.

Jonny said now that the car is where he wants it, the next step will be to swap a manual transmission into it. Other than that and getting euro bumpers it’s done. I’m glad that he didn’t just stop at wheels and a sport drop, because this is one of my favorite cars ever. It surely sets the bar for how nice you can make an E24 look.


Features

Mike Hack's E30 Touring

Photography by Jackson Keam & Ollie Strong @hardparkedproductions

Mike Hack's fondness for the E30 platform all started when he bought a 318is coupe. He had intentions of keeping it clean and stock since his daily/track Honda Civic was deemed "un-roadworthy" by the local police due to illegal modifications. Like most of us, the mod bug bit him shortly after the purchase was made and the coupe quickly became another less than ideal daily driver. After owning the 318is for a few years, Mike was truly engulfed in the local E30 scene. He had come into the E30 scene completely ignorant of the chassis's many variations. He had no idea which modification options were out there, which companies to trust or which local shops to go to. But over the 2 years of owning the coupe, he learned a lot. He was also unaware of the wagon variant, until after buying the coupe and this intrigued him tremendously. Since Australia never received the wagon, it made the thought of owning one there even more enticing. He knew of a handful of private imports that were getting around Australia, so he knew it was possible. And so the search began.

Initially the search didn't get far, he couldn't find any for sale through the usual sources and money was a bit tight anyway. At the time he realistically had no chance of actually getting his hands on one, but he continued the search anyway. After a few months he stopped looking and life went on, then one day he was just casually wasting time searching for random cars on a car selling website/app. It was out of curiosity more than having any intent to purchase and boom a 325i E30 Touring popped up for sale in Sydney (10 hour drive interstate from him). It was not cheap, but it was in fantastic condition with low miles and had a manual transmission. It also had all the electric options, sunroof, windows, etc. and complete with a genuine M-Tech 2 bodykit. The icing on the cake was that it was in Alpine white, Mike's favorite color. A call was made and not long after he was on a plane to Sydney, driving the newly purchased touring as its first Australian owner, back to Melbourne.

Not all was as rosy as it would seem though, when it came time to get the required engineer's certificate in order to register the car for Australian roads, some poor handiwork was found. In order to legalize the car for Australian roads, side intrusion bars needed to be welded into the doors. When Mike bought the car he was told by the seller that all of the work had been done and was ready to go. Turns out the (unnamed) Sydney based shop had sikaflexed the bars in (rather than welding) and the job had to be done again from scratch. This took a big chunk of time and money from his life. Once registered and driving, modifications began almost immediately. The first set of wheels had already been ordered before the car was on the road and basic bolt-on engine mods were underway. Coilovers were swapped out from his old coupe and installed into the touring. The car stayed reasonably mild for a year (lowered, wheels, bolt on engine mods) or so while he planned on upcoming changes.

The Touring has had 4 different sets of wheels since he's owned it, starting with a set of 16" Schmidt TH lines, a brief stint on 16" Alpina wheels, a few years on a set of Compomotive TH1780, 6 months on a set of 3 piece Work Emitz and then back to the Compomotives which it is currently on. He actually repurchased the Compo’s from the guy he had originally sold them to.

Being a Honda fan/owner for the prior 10 years, Mike was very much into the whole wire-tucked engine bay look and wanted to attempt something similar on the E30. He looked around online and apparently wire-tucking E30's wasn't too common, which would help set the car apart just that little bit more. What he assumed would take 3 weeks or so, turned into a 3 month, 400+ solder nightmare job. Although in saying that, once completed, the car fired up first try with zero issues and has been without issues for the last few years.

A little more power was then desired as well as something special under the hood. Rather than taking the much more common and arguably much better money/power ratio option of an engine swap or going with a turbo upgrade, Mike decided to take the road less traveled by going with an ITB setup. Call it a hangover from his old ITB B20VTEC powered Civic race car. He hungered once again for that undeniable ITB scream. He knew that the cost/power ratio was not ideal, but since the car would be 95% street/show car, real power numbers were not a big concern. Luckily for him, there was an upcoming Australian company that was developing an ITB kit for the BMW M20 engine and he managed to get a hold of a kit before they officially hit the market. The only problem with getting it in so early is that the kit wasn’t 100% and some custom fabrication was needed to make them work. The car was dropped off to a shop for the ITB install/head rebuild/ECU install, etc. and this is when things started to take a very slow turn. Without having a real deadline or agreed finishing date, the car ended up sitting in the shop for well over a year (16 months to be exact). Multiple calls and surprise visits were necessary to put some pressure on to get the job finished. But good things come to those that wait and the result was a whole lot of fun and plenty of noise.

Unfortunately the car didn’t last long after the original install/tune and drivability went down fast, to the point of the car being completely undrivable. It stopped idling, it was running extremely rich and pumping out excessive smoke on every drive. In the end he believes it was a combination of poor ECU choice, lack of complimentary sensors/modifications and a poor tune. Regardless of what was at fault the car needed some serious attention in order to get it back on the road and running the right way. So he made the call to MSC Performance, a trusted and known tuner that he had used a lot during his Honda racing days. He didn’t have a lot of experience in BMW’s specifically, but he was a master on the dyno and was happy to take on the job. Again it wasn’t cheap as they decided to remove the original Microtech ECU and ‘upgrade’ to a ‘top of the line’ Haltech Elite 2500 unit. They also added a Wideband controller and cam sensor in order to get the whole setup working right. A month or so passed and he received the car back in perfect working form. Drivability was as good as a standard car, no idling issues anymore, no excessive smoke. The car was a dream to drive and sounded amazing. Still no powerhouse, but fast enough for plenty of fun. After driving the car in this form for about 6 months, he was keen for more. Like most car modifiers, the car is never finished and no matter what you do, there's always something else that needs to be done. He likes putting in the wrench time in the garage just as much as he likes driving the finished product.

Mike was always intrigued about bags, it was one of those mods he would see as a kid and get excited about, and as an adult that excitement never changed. He never thought he would ever actually go down that path though. But then a few things changed and his financial position changed (after no longer needing a car trailer). This combined with the constant risk of driving an "illegally" lowered car around the streets of Melbourne triggered him to give in and go down the bag route. Air bags allowed him to drive the car at a reasonable height to avoid police attention on the roads and then slam it to the ground for the next car event. (Police in Australia are extremely intolerant of modified cars driving on the road, the penalties are harsh and expensive.) So he ordered all the parts needed and began to research how to go about installing the whole thing. He's DIY’d the majority of things with cars in the last ten years, but over that time he had had zero experience working with anything to do with air ride. After a week or so in the garage the install was complete and the car was back on the road driving well once again. 

Not long after installing the bags, Mike and his partner purchased their first home due to having their first baby on the way and as you can imagine modifying cars has slowed to almost a complete halt. So at this stage and for the foreseeable future, the Touring will remain in its current form with the short term goal of just maintaining it and keeping it on the road. He has future plans to pull the motor and get the engine bay smoothed and re-painted. But that is something that will happen in the very far future, in the meantime, he is happy to just drive it as it is and attend as many events and cruises as he can.

Features

Gregory Smith's E30 325i

Photography by Gábor Lengyel

When Gregory was younger he had a dream that he would one day own an E30. It all started when his brother bought an E30 when he was 10 years old and would take him for a quick drive occasionally. He fell in love with that classic Bavarian machine and knew he had to get one for himself.

In 2011 it finally became a reality. After searching a year and a half for a well cared for E30 he found one, or so he thought. It was originally a white 316i with an M20B20 engine swap already done. The seller said the car was in good condition but Gregory later discovered that it needed a complete restoration to the bodywork. 

Although he bought it for fun after a few days of ownership he realized that he wanted more than just having fun with it outside the city. Gregory ended up purchasing 4 doors, a trunk, a hood, 2 front fenders, and 2 rocker panels. He had to restore every part of the car to its original condition or simply replace it; suspension parts, engine, cables, electronics. Since the car was white he thought about repainting it to something more unique. When he was browsing through possible color options, it was OEM BMW Avusblau that immediately caught his attention to where he fell in love with it. He couldn't even consider any other color after that.

After the paint job he decided to upgrade some interior accessories i.e. OEM M-Tech seats, M-Tech 2 steering wheel, and check panel. He also bought a JVC car radio with Alpine sub-woofer and Pioneer speakers.

At that time coilovers were on the car with adjustable rear control arms; an E36 steering rack, Sperr diff, and rear disc brake system. About a year later Gregory was feeling that the engine was a bit weak, so he swapped an M50B25 (192hp) engine in. A half year passed and he got the idea to clean the engine bay. When he had succeeded, another idea came and he swapped the suspension to 5x120 with M3 control arms and Mercedes disc brakes with E36 calipers.

It was time for new wheels and he decided to go with 17" BBS RF's (17x8" et10) with wheel spacers but he knew that he had to do some customizing to his style. He let the front wheels the original size but the rear wheels received new 3” lips. The car at that point was almost done but he felt it still needed something more... and the air ride was the last thing that it needed to satisfy Gregory. He went with a Viair compressor, gauges, and stainless tank. And just in case a cop happened to take a look into the car, there was a custom control panel made to look like OEM BMW buttons.

After 4 years Gregory took his dream car to a whole new level that his 10 year old self would have never even imagined possible.