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Features

Mackenzie Ebber's E30

Photography by Mackenzie Ebbers @mackenzie.e30

As I sat in Penny under the hot July sun, in line with 100+ cars waiting to enter the Bellevue College parking garage for Stancewars, it finally hit me. We did it. Stancewars picks their Top100 cars from hundreds of entries and my car had made it. There were cars in attendance that had twice the amount of money and time spent on them, but it didn’t matter because I had a vision for my build that had been recognized and rewarded. There are some cars that are just special, and now more people then just myself could fully appreciate this beautiful E30 I call Penny. It’s hard to believe that it has already been over 3 years since I bought Penny, but like they say time flies when you’re having fun.

After months of searching Craigslist for the right car I took a chance on a 1989 325i sedan from a small import dealer in Southampton, New Jersey (I was living on the East Coast at the time). She wasn’t my first choice, but when I saw the car in person I knew this was something very special. The car miraculously had a fresh coat of beautiful paint, the IS trunk spoiler (I would add IS side skirts and front lip later to complete the look) immaculate interior, and every single button and switch was working. There was no question I was buying this car. After the first wash/detail I think it really set in how beautiful this car was, and what a gem I had stumbled upon.

Fast forward a few months and my boyfriend Bryant and I were planning to move back to my hometown of Seattle, of course there was no question of selling Penny so we shipped her cross country on a car carrier. Moving back to Seattle brought with it quite a few more car shows, some new fun car friends, and more inspiration for my build.

In the fall of 2015 I approached the wheel builder Spinfab about building some BBS RS’s, and as luck would have it he had the exact specs and color on hand. My only request was that I wanted the hex caps and wheel hardware to be plated in 18k rose gold, and after a few color tests the perfect shade was found. I chose bubble lips, white faces, and dark blue and silver hex caps to compliment the rose gold. I was already planning on bags so the size and fitment I went for was 16x8.5" in the front and 16x9" in the back with et8 all around. Only about a month after the wheels arrived I contacted Royal Stance to see about their Black Friday Airlift Performance deals, and the opportunity was too good to pass up. Bags were new for us and we didn’t have any friends with bagged cars, but Bryant and I have always done all our own work on our cars and an Airlift install was just another thing to tackle.

Dialing in the fitment for the E30 was a little challenging. For the rear fitment we rolled and pulled the fenders slightly so it would sit fender to lip with no problems. The front was more difficult because of how low the undercarriage of the car hangs, this was solved by raising the engine 1/4th of an inch so the oil pan would clear. Next the camber has to be maxed out and 15mm spacers added to bring the fender and lip closer together, when aired out the sub frame and control arms sit on the ground but lip to fender is 90% there. Once fitment had been sorted we set about building a trunk setup. I wanted a light colored wood floor with a box like attachment to cover the battery. Since the air system was already functioning I wasn’t able to have the air tank powder coated so I opted to wrap it in white vinyl. DIY projects are always something that makes a build even more special.

After our first great show season in Seattle, I knew what I wanted the next project to be, engine bay. Penny was unfortunate enough to have one of the most ugly engine bays I’ve ever seen on an E30. The main problem was the paint on the inside of the hood, and all around the strut towers/bay, pretty much leaving us no choice but to paint it. We started by removing just about everything from the top of the engine, including the valve cover and intake manifold that I sent off for powder coating, and in the mean time we took the time to perform a lot of needed maintenance. For paint we opted to DIY once again and used Paint Scratch base coat and clear coat to paint the bay and inside of the hood. I’ve used Paint Scratch before and with any paint the key is sanding, and at the end of the day it’s a great affordable option. Since rose gold was already an accent on Penny I had the idea to have a few engine bay pieces plated, and once again with the help of Spinfab we made it happen. I am beyond happy with how the engine bay turned out, and I hope more rose gold is to come.

There is something very satisfying about having a vision and being able to bring that to life. I never thought I would be able to build this car exactly how I envisioned, but it just shows when you truly put your mind to something it can happen. I love what I’ve created, because building a car is like creating a piece of art, and I believe Penny is truly a representation of my creativity and taste.


Events

Raceism Event 2013

Photography by Martin Srnka, Norbert Baran, Piotr Błaszczykiewicz & Sylwia Klaczyńska 

Features

Bastien Bochmann's E36 323i Touring

Photography by Bastien Bochmann

It seems that for many, the cars that influenced us most as kids were the ones that received a special place in our hearts. It could have been a dream exotic or simply a family member’s car that meant a great deal to us and in some way left a large impact in our lives. For Bastien that car was a black E36 Touring. He has wanted one ever since his dad owned one when he was a kid. His father’s was a Cosmosblack 318i with clear corners and smoked MHW taillights, lowered on AP springs and sporting AC Schnitzer replicas made by Alutec. He can still distinctly remember every bit of it.

Back when it was time to search for his first car, Bastien went through a phase of wanting something Japanese. He was looking mostly at Toyota Celicas and such, but couldn’t find one in good condition for the budget he had. By chance, his dad found a nice VW Golf GT Mk3 and convinced him to look at it. He fell in love with the car at first sight and this re-kindled his love for Euros. He sold the Golf a year later after some mods and started looking for something with a bit more power… originally looking for another Golf, this time a VR6, but discovered the ones in his budget to be completely beat. For a good one, he would’ve had to pay nearly double what he had available. As his dad had just bought a E36 323ti a few months prior, he took a look at E36′s and promptly bought his first one in May 2008. A 320i sedan that he dropped on a set of AP coilovers (the very set he’s still running on his Touring today) and put on a set of Azev A wheels. In 2009, the engine started running on 5 cylinders occasionally, so after some thought, he convinced himself to sell the 320i and buy something with a bit more power and options. That is when his old dream came back and he remembered the Touring.

In November Bastien found his Touring. A Cosmosblack 323i automatic with many options and about 200,000kms on the clock. He was specifically looking for an automatic as he no longer wanted to bother with a manual for daily duties. From his sedan, he swapped over the AP coilovers and the clear corners. He already had a set of wheels waiting to go on it (which he originally bought for the sedan). They were OEM Style 32′s from a 7 series E38 in 18 x 8″/9″ staggered. He had them powder coated in light pearl grey. In the meantime, he managed to source some smoked MHW taillights and installed M-bumpers, sideskirts and mouldings. Once he got the wheels back from powder coating, they were wrapped them in 215/35/18′s. He rolled like that for the next year. When winter 2010 hit, he sold the 18′s because he felt they were getting too played out by the E36 crowd. He wanted something unique and also something that allowed him to go lower, so it was back to 17″. He managed to source a set of Rial Type A mesh wheels in 17 x 8.5″ et13 & 17 x 9.5″ et20. The plan was to polish them and run them on the Touring for 2011… that’s when disaster struck.

First, he gracefully slid into a sign pole on a patch of ice and bent the rear quarter panel of the Touring. Then, he crashed his company car and his licence was confiscated because he was suspected of being at fault. He was cleared in the trial about 6 months later. This meant 6 months without being allowed to drive. Additionally, he was also fired from work. You can only imagine how rough that half a year was for him. He took the Touring off the road and de-registered it. He very nearly was forced to sell it, which was extremely difficult for him. By now, he had built up quite the emotional attachment to this car. “It’s stupid really, but I love this thing to bits,” he said. In the end he managed to pull through so he could keep the Touring… and also started fixing it.

So it began, nearly every day he spent working on some small things. Taking place in his driveway, he fixed the body, hammered out the big dent in the quarter panel where he crashed it into the sign pole, fixed the rear bumper which also broke in the crash, replaced a front fender and both front doors due to rust, replaced the front bumper because it was cracked from hitting an animal, rebuilt the coilovers, re-did some other suspension parts, and installed excentric 3.2l M3 top hats mounted inversely for more negative camber up front to fit the 8.5″ et13 wheels nicely. He finally did a test fit with the Rials and noticed that they were rubbing against the brake caliper. It was a good thing he had scored an insane deal on a set of BBS RF’s right around the same time. They were nearly identical specs too… 17 x 8.5″ et13 (front) & 17 x 9.5″ et13 (rear). He had the wheels refinished and wrapped them in 205/40′s & 225/35′s. They fit like a glove in the front, but the rear had to be pulled quite a bit to ensure no rubbing (even under full compression). So together with his dad he pulled the rear arches. After that, he had the car resprayed in the original color—Cosmosblack. When he finally got it back, he was amazed. “This was my trusty old Touring? It looked just like I always wanted it to.” Bastien ‘completed’ (and he uses that term loosely as there’s still a lot of plans left to do) the build in late 2011. He could finally lean back and enjoy the 2012 season.

In 2012, the car gave him a bit of a headache as it left him stranded on two separate occasions because of problems with the cooling system. But apart from that, everything went flawlessly. Not even a roadtrip to a car meet in the United Kingdom offered up any difficulties. In late 2012 he finally was able to buy a daily driver (E34, which he recently replaced with an E38) and the Touring was retired to “fun car status”.

“It’s not perfect. I know that. It’s got some issues here and there (paint chips on the front fenders, heavy rock chips on the front bumper, needs a detail badly, drive shafts are squeaking at certain speeds and so on), but to me, this is close to the perfect car,” he explained. He has some new mods planned for it this year, mainly getting the interior up to spec. In the long run, he wants to swap in an S50 with a 6-speed manual transmission, but for now he doesn’t mind it the way it is. It’s still plenty quick and fun, even though it’s just an automatic 323i.