Throwback: Killin’ ‘Em with Cleanliness – An All-Natural E30

2024 Introduction

In all the years that Speedhunters has been covering Gatebil events, we’ve never left Mantorp Park in Sweden or Rudskogen Motorsenter in Norway disappointed. That’s not surprising, as Scandinavia’s long, cold and dark winters are a breeding ground for some of the most radically modified cars in the world.

Swapping engines between different manufacturers is common, as are massive turbochargers, but this E30 – as it was originally seen in 2014 – has neither. And ten years later, this ultra-sleek example with BMW power under the hood still looks as fresh as when Larry photographed it. Let’s turn back the clock for another look…

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2014 Feature

While we love the insane handling and extreme engine swaps that Scandinavia is known for, we also appreciate the subtle and more detail-oriented machines that this region is home to.

In 2013 we found a particularly clean one AE86 Levin to demonstrate this other side of the stage. Now we have an equally special BMW E30 to share.

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This 1989 325i is owned by Sweden Fredrik Andersson and it has to be one of the cleanest E30s out there ever appeared on the pages of Speedhunters. It may be 25 years old, but that was certainly not reflected in the condition of the BMW.

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Although we dig well-preserved old cars here, we weren’t attracted to this car just because of its condition. No, there has to be more to it than that. And there is – much, much more…

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Fredrik has always had a thing for E30s and bought the car in 2010. He then made a few basic adjustments before starting to restore the drivetrain and bodywork. He originally planned to just freshen the engine and repaint a few body panels, but ultimately found himself rebuilding the engine from the ground up and completely repainting the body. The more time Fredrik spent with the car, the greater his ambitions became.

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Fredrik says his goal was to create a ‘new’ BMW E30, restoring and upgrading key parts to his standards, without taking away the features that made him love the car in the first place.

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Take the interior for example: there’s something about the cockpit of Fredrik’s E30 that speaks to the ‘simple is best’ ideal.

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There’s no crazy roll cage, no aftermarket bucket seats – nothing extreme at all, really.

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Instead, we’re treated to an immaculate and beautifully maintained cabin, which, aside from a few suede upholstery upgrades here and there, could easily have come from a 1989 BMW brochure. And that was always the intention.

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Maybe it’s because I love the simplistic interior designs of the 1980s, but I could stare at these photos all day… The E30’s simple, yet attractive cockpit is certainly one of the reasons why these cars are the day are still so popular.

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The BMW’s Alpine White exterior has been treated with similar attention to detail. There are a few upgrades like side skirts in the Touring model and black Hella headlights, but for the most part the simple, classic looks of the E30 have been retained.

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Fredrik has paid some attention to the chassis, by providing the BMW with improved bushings and a pair of strut braces front and rear. To improve handling and get the car closer to the ground, he also installed a set of adjustable D2 Racing coilovers.

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When it came time to install wheels, the vision called for something that would look stylish and aggressive, but wouldn’t dilute the E30’s historic look. That’s why Fredrik opted for a set of custom-made BBS RFs.

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It’s very hard to argue with the look of a classic, five-spoke multi-piece wheel on a car like this. The bronze-red centers also provide a nice contrast to the white bodywork without overwhelming the exterior.

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The refinished wheels measure 16 inches in diameter, with 9-inch wide barrels in the front and 10-inch wide barrels in the rear. The tires are 205/40R16 at the front and 215/40R16 at the rear.

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Despite what we’ve already seen, the real fun begins when you remove the hood and take a look inside the engine compartment. No, you won’t find a twin-turbo V12 or a bespoke AWD system as is the local fashion.

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Instead, you see a traditional M20B25 straight-six that has been completely rebuilt for strong, naturally aspirated performance and mechanical beauty. Fredrik wanted to combine the power and growl of the M20 with a sleek and simple exterior.

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First some of the goodies you have can not see – a fully balanced bottom end, chromoly holders, a 295-degree ENEM camshaft, heavy-duty rocker arms, along with machined pistons and oversized valves.

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Then the things you can see – a custom individual throttle body setup using E36 M3 3.2 Evo throttle bodies welded to an M20 flange. Fredrik tells me that fabricating and tuning the ITBs was by far the most challenging part of the build. The result was worth it, however, because no matter how many times you see them, the visual impact that a row of shiny trumpets brings is undeniable.

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All told, the engine lineup is good for 225 sweet-sounding naturally aspirated horsepower – a significant upgrade over what the car came out of the factory with. At the same time, the classic six-cylinder character has been fully preserved.

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But it’s not just the performance upgrades that make the car so special. It’s the way the engine bay is completely stripped and the wiring is shaved (also note that some of the pipes were not yet installed at the time of the photo shoot). The plans originally called for a white engine bay, but Fredrik quickly decided to add a second color for a bit of contrast. After going through many color charts, he settled on the beautiful bronze shade you see here – the same color used on the BBS wheel hubs.

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It may not have a crazy trade-off with multiple power sources and enough torque to uproot giant sequoia trees, but the stunningly clean engine bay draws crowds for an entirely different reason.

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And it’s that whole philosophy that has made Fredrik’s BMW stand out in an environment where some of the craziest machines in the world can be found.

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With the sensory overload that this part of the world and its mind-bending cars bring, sometimes it’s nice to take a step back and look at the simpler things.

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Fredrik’s E30 may lack the wild backyard manufacturing and scornful nature that have come to define Scandinavian car culture, but the passion behind this little BMW is more than equal to those sideways, tire-smoking beasts.

On the other hand, Fredrik, being the car-obsessed Swede that he is, says he hasn’t completely ruled out replacing a 20B dial in his E30 and that’s an idea for the future. Why would we expect anything different?

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanfornia

Pictures of Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_photo

Fredrik Andersson’s E30 BMW 325i

Numbers: 225 hp
Engine: BMW M20B25 inline-six, fully balanced bottom end, machined pistons, chromoly holders, Enem 295 degree camshaft, heavy-duty rocker arms, oversized valves, Vems Plug ‘n Play system, custom individual throttle body setup using E36 M3 Evo throttle bodies and custom flange, fully shaved and detailed engine compartment
Powertrain: Getrag five-speed manual transmission, improved limited slip differential
Suspension and brakes: D2 Racing adjustable coilovers, upgraded bushings, front and rear strut mounts
Wheels and tires: Custom BBS RF 16 x 9 inch (front) 16 x 10 inch (rear), 205/40R16 (front) 215/40R16 (rear) tires
Exterior: BMW Touring side skirts, Hella black headlights
Interior: Original interior with custom suede inserts

Throwback posts on Speedhunters

Floor of the cutting room

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