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.


Mike Ashcraft's E39 528i

Photography by Dan Wagener / @dan_wagener

First glance at Mike Ashcraft's 1997 E39 528i and you would never suspect that it has close to 305,000 miles on it. Mike's dad had bought it in 2006 from North Carolina as his new daily to replace his 1983 Mercedes Benz 380 SEL. The car had 113,000 miles on it at that time. His dad put 130,000 more miles on it in about 3 years due to traveling for business. Eventually it got to the point where it became too costly for him to keep piling the miles on it and Mike conveniently had just gotten his license. Since the car wasn’t worth much anyway it became his. His dad ended up buying an E46 330xi to replace it as his new daily.  

Over the last 8 years Mike's attended to a lot of maintenance on this car, so much to the point that he can’t even keep track anymore. Most notably though was the top end rebuild that was done at 275k miles due to a leaking head gasket. At the time the head gasket was replaced, all seals in top end were done, S52 cams, new radiator/water pump, and Raceland headers were installed. It has an automatic transmission and as far as Mike knows, the trans/fluid is still original and going strong. The M52 engine is the original as well. 

Mike's done quite a bit of modding to this car to make it his own during his ownership. Performance wise as previously mentioned were the S52 cams and headers. This winter he's going to install a Supersprint resonator delete and a Vibrant muffler.  Being that it's a high-mileage automatic 528i performance wasn't the highest priority of this car.

Mike focused more on enhancing the aesthetics, and that's what really caught my attention. The E39 M5 front and rear bumpers were swapped on. A Slimmbones carbon fiber front lip and carbon fiber rear diffuser were also added for a little more personalization. Some other minor upgrades included gloss black shadowline trim, DJ auto headlights, clear sidemarkers, euro Hella Celis tail lights, OEM facelift kidney grills, and a trunk lip spoiler.

My favorite thing on Mike's car is probably the wheels. A custom set of 18x9" / 18x10" 3-piece OZ Mito's. Originally being an 18x8.5" 2-piece set, he bought new lips and barrels to fit them exactly how he wanted. The wheel faces are a hand-brushed finish done by Mike himself.

The car is sitting on Broadway Static coilovers with 12k front and 10k rear springs, along with Powergrid adjustable front sway bar endlinks and a 540i RSB w/Beastpower brackets. The stance is low and aggressive without excessive negative camber, dangerous tire stretch, or destroyed fenders.

Mike just finished up the interior makeover this past year. The interior was originally grey and slowly converted to black with ultrasuede headliner, OEM suede sunvisors, black door panels, black carpet, and black lower dash. The rest of the interior upgrades include titanium trim, sunroof delete, silver gauge rings, M5 leather center console, euro M5 leather armrest, M5 dead pedal, Hamann e-brake handle, re-wrapped sport steering wheel, self-dimming rear view mirror, homelink retrofit, Pioneer touch screen headunit, Bav sound speakers, Sound Ordinance subwoofer and a rear view camera. Last but not least, custom dyed Cinnamon seats that compliment the Montreal Blue exterior perfectly.  

This car's responsible for teaching Mike how to work on cars and he says he never wants to get rid of it even with the age and miles. His future plans include a 5 speed manual transmission swap with a custom limited slip differential... and the biggest plan is to turbocharge it. Although this won’t be happening anytime soon, especially with his E39 M5 also taking up funds.


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.


Bartek "Broder" Broda's E36 M3

Photography by

Our story begins in February of 2012, on the Isle of Man. Bartek, who was already a BMW enthusiast, purchased a 1996 BMW E36 M3 Evolution Model. This particular car came with no sunroof, in the beautiful Estoril Blue color with beige interior. The car was a perfect starting point, as it had been largely untouched. The previous owner had daily driven the car, transporting her children to and from school in it – lucky kids, right?

Bartek began like most enthusiasts would – cleaning and maintenance, followed by maintenance and cleaning. But eventually the time came for the first modifications. Bartek installed black kidneys and an OEM front lip for subtle cosmetic changes. He then lowered the car with performance coilovers and what we all like the most – two-piece OZ Racing wheels. This state of affairs lasted for several months before Bartek took it further with his M3. Before he knew it new parts were coming in, only to disappear and be replaced by even more interesting and even more rare products to emphasize the specific character of this BMW and its owner. For a while Bartek had the car on BBS RC 300/301 wheel.. then a different set, and so on and so forth. But we’re here to focus on how the car looks now.

At first glance, your eyes are drawn to the BBS RC 300/301 wheels with parameters: 8.5" et13 accompanied by a 15mm spacer on the front, and 10" et25 with a 10mm spacer on the back. Bartek fitted Toyo T1R tires stretched to 205/35 on the front, and 235/30 on the back. Not hidden by the wheels are the upgraded brakes. Stock calipers and discs were replaced by a set of 337x30mm and dual-piston calipers and 328x20mm BMW Performance from the 135i. This M3 will have no problem stopping on a dime.

Bartek chose smoked xenon lights with matching smoked corner markers. He replaced the fog lights with plugs, and under the front bumper he’s gone with the timeless combo of GT Ecken front lip (occasionally) accompanied by GT Schwert. All of Bartek’s attention to detail ties in a very tidy front end with an aggressive demeanor.

Another detail of the M3 that Bartek searched long and hard for, are the authentic Racing Dynamics mirrors.  Moving on to the back of the M3 is the unmistakable LTW wing made of carbon fiber. Bartek says this wing brings to mind the adrenaline filled E36 DTM races. Stock exhaust was replaced with a Super Sprint X pipe and Scorpion back exhaust, along with the DTM end tips to complement overall DTM appearance.

The interior of this RHD M3 has not been spared the Bartek treatment. He has completely modified it leaving only the upper part of the dashboard. The steering wheel was replaced and wrapped in alcantara. An illuminated leather shift knob pokes out from an alcantara boot. Bartek has installed a RUFF short shift kit for rowing through the gears. Vader seats have been retrofitted to the m3 and the lower part of the dashboard and door bolsters swapped to black. Behind the front seats we will find a Staff’s roll bar, which took the place of the rear seats. The icing on Bartek’s DTM themed M3’s interior are the BMW Motorsport iconic red seatbelts.

Under the hood waiting for us is a red valve cover, OMP strut brace and Pipercross panel air filter. The gearbox also got an upgrade. Here we have a RUFF single mass flywheel (~ 5kg), and a new steel braided clutch line by HEL.

The suspension previously included a set of AP coilovers which were replaced by HSD Dualtech fully adjustable suspension, also added were camber arms and special springs on the rear axle – BC Racing 16kg. Traditional rubber bushings were replaced by polyurethane bushings all over.

The BMW E36 is nothing new on the tuning stage – either in Poland or in the world. Bartek realizes there may be others like his, but he also realizes that he created his car to the best of the best in his eyes. He idolized the DTM races and sought for a DTM racer of his own. Bartek took this car from daily driver to daily dose of dopamine. As often as possible he fitted parts that you can find in BMW Motorsport catalogs. Bartek’s favorite part of the E36 however, is driving it.