E30 and turbo chargers – not very much in common, apparently
Turbochargers increase the air mass that enters the engine pistons by forcing it in, improving the combustion and the engine’s power. This technology proved to be very useful, not just in industrial engines, but also for the ones in our every day cars, that don’t have enough space under the bonnet to fit a larger, and more powerful engine. BMW didn’t use turbo chargers on the engines of the E30 model from the 80s, except for the diesel unit that could be found in the E30 324td. The diesel engines from those times didn’t develop many horse power, although they were pretty big in size, so this is the solution the engineers had to come up with, in order to give the diesel E30 enough power to keep up with the petrol powered cars, and still offer the fuel economy and reliability of a diesel. With the help of the turbo charger the engine’s power increased from 86 (in the 324d) to 115 hp in the 324td. And that is quite a difference.
Although the BMW E30 is a very popular car among speed enthusiasts, BMW never thought of fitting a turbo on its petrol powered engines. And that is mainly because these engines were so well built, and gave a proper punch, so no one felt the need for more power. Time passed, new models were released, but the E30 remained in the hearts and souls of many people. And in their garages, also. So, it is pretty clear that at some point, drivers would try to improve their beloved car. All the engines in the range were solid, reliable units, that were also easy to modify. The most popular one was the 2.5 liter straight six, that with its 171 hp gave the tuners a good engine to start with. Most frequently, a turbo charger was added, that boosted the power to over 200 hp, and even more. When the after market component manufacturers saw how many 325i owners modify their engines with turbos adapted from other types of engines, they began to develop turbo charger kits specially designed for the 325i. The best known turbo charging kit makers are tuning firms like CX Racing, Scottsdale Motorsports, ETD Motors, and many others. Also, custom made kits become more and more popular, and the private tuners are getting better at making them.
Work done by tuners
Dinan is the first BMW tuner from North America. What they did was to mount a turbo charger on the E30 M3, boosting the power to over 300 hp. It is a very rare sight, this car, as only six of them were ever made. There were few other attempt from tuners to add a turbo to the E30′s engine, mainly because the normal aspirated engines put a decent amount of power even in stock state, and there were many other modifications that could be done and offered similar results, without all the trouble and work that implied mounting a turbo. From Europe, Hartge gave it a shot, and launched a turbo E30 based on the 2.7 liter engine. Like the Dinan model from the States, the Hartge E30 is also a collector’s item, as they didn’t get to be mass produced.
Turbocharging the E30 in your own garage
E30 owners that thought they are up to this job, and decided to fit turbos to their 325i, report that this is not an easy job, but not an impossible one also, as the six cylinder engine is a simple and very reliable unit, that can withstand the extra power squeezed out of it. So, let’s have a look at some success stories that imply turbo charged BMWs:
- A classic case of turbo charged E30 325i. Running at 10 psi of boost, and built very neat and clean, this is a car that every BMW fan will enjoy. Look at it power drifting around a track, in Iceland:
- E30 with turbo charged engine, catching up and beating an Sti in a drag race, after a bad start:
- A swedish mechanic managed to get 600 hp out of its 325i. Watch the video made with this car, and just look how fast the speedometer moves when he pushes the throttle, and after the turbo kicks in. That is just amazing!
- This is probably the most impressive launch I have ever seen. The turbo charged E30 develops over 800 hp, and makes a 9 second car out of this E30.
But even if you are not thinking of investing this much work and money in modifying your E30, you could get very good performance figures, if you will install some of the turbo kits that are available nowadays in many tuning shops. Being such a versatile car, the E30′s engine can support quite a large increase of power without having to modify its components, or opening it up. But beware, if you upgrade the power by many horse power, you will definitely have to make sure that your brakes, suspension and driving train are up to this job. It will be quite an effort, but in my opinion, the satisfaction of having an unique E30 that is capable of leaving in a cloud of dust cars that were 10 times more expensive it’s worth paying the price.