These are the best mods for your BMW M3 E30
The E30 was the first generation of the M3 which BMW ever made, and it has earned a special place in the hearts of many Bimmer enthusiasts. In fact, buying one becomes a lot trickier to do, as the best condition examples can cost huge sums of money. One notable example even sold for the eye-popping sum of $250,000 on Bring a trailer in 2020. But, assuming you’re one of the lucky few who managed to get a second-hand copy for a reasonable price, what do you make of it?
Any E30 M3 that’s even vaguely affordable will almost certainly have had some mods done before, so there’s little point in trying to get it back in stock. Instead, it’s best to put your own spin on the car, and to do that, a few more mods will be needed. Whether your idea is to make the car look semi-stock or go all out with customization, here is a list of ten ideas that should spark some inspiration. What’s even better is that, if buying an M3 is too expensive, most of these mods will work just as well on a non-M3 E30.
ten BBS rims
It’s a classic modification and for good reason. There are very few old cars that can’t be upgraded with a set of BBS rims, and as this build proves, the E30 suits them just fine. Pair those BBSs with lowered suspension and owners will already have a real car that will turn heads.
Of course, that’s not all a BBS rim swap is good for. They also work well on more radical rebuilds like a vintage race car project, but let’s get to that later.
Some people might say that’s overkill, and yes, indeed, it’s not the most unique thing to do anymore. But, the E30 still looks great when dressed in all black or “murdered”.
This example comes from Kuwait, but there are several other very similar constructions in Europe and the United States. For some variety, instead of blacking out the headlights, a set of yellow-tinted rally-style lamps might also work well with an all-black look.
A roll cage is absolutely essential for anyone looking to race their E30, but even for riders who will never approach a track, it makes a gorgeous addition to a build. Admittedly, it is expensive, because it involves dismantling the entire car to install it.
But it does make the whole setup look much more professional and, as mentioned earlier, could prevent its driver from getting hurt in a high-speed collision. Since some E30s don’t even come with airbags, any extra safety features can only be a good thing.
seven Slapped and posed
Depending on who you ask, positioning a car is either a sin or a great way to make it look great. The yellow E30 here is definitely the latter of the two, with an adjustment to the millimeter to prevent the rim from scraping on the wheel arches.
It may seem inconvenient to drive, but hoard some money for the air suspension and the car can be raised straight back to its stock height. It’s expensive, but worth it to make the car easier to drive everyday and not be stopped in its tracks by a deep pothole.
6 Police car
A fun way to temporarily scare other drivers on the road is to make the car look like a police vehicle, and it turns out the E30 looks great when dressed in Japanese police gear. A flashing light and livery is all that’s needed to complete the look, making this one of the simplest builds featured here.
With that idea, however, comes a big caveat: in many places, building an imitation police car is illegal, for obvious reasons. However, oftentimes foreign-looking police vehicles are acceptable, so making a Japanese-style imitation police vehicle might be legal in some parts of the United States.
5 Motor exchange
The E30 M3s aren’t exactly slow, but they’re no match for a modern M3 or even some of the more capable M-Sport 3 Series models. One way to fix this is to simply swap out the motor completely, and that’s exactly what this next version has done.
Taking an M52 engine from an E36 and adding additional performance components from later models allowed this E30 to produce significantly more horsepower than a stock version. The M52 engine is an inline-6, but there’s no reason a V8 can’t be shoved under the hood with a little extra work.
4 Full Race Build
Most of the ideas presented so far have focused on just one aspect of the car, but for those who want something a bit more radical, a full race version is a great option. The E30’s excellent inventory management and upgrade potential make it the perfect candidate to strip down and hit the trail.
How far to go depends on the individual owner, with some owners preferring to just strip the car down and race it virtually stock while some spend tens of thousands on performance parts and upgrades. The choice is yours, but either way, the E30 is a great track day project.
3 rat stick
There’s no shame in picking up a cheap, beat-up example of an M3 if budget is an issue, but the level to which this E30 has been beaten would entice even the most cash-strapped buyers to make a double take. It looks barely functional, yet its owner has plenty of photos of it ripping around dirt circuits and backyards.
For some reason he decided to cut the roof off the car to give it an even more failed look, as it was originally a hardtop. It’s certainly unique, and looks like an absolute hoot to drive even though most E30 M3 owners would probably turn their noses up at it.
2 Wide body kit
Another modification that is guaranteed to rage purists is a wide body kit. It’s divisive, but it’s hard to deny how cool it looks, especially when paired with a livery like this modified E30.
The kit for this car ranges from Live to Offend, but there are plenty of aftermarket kit choices that are more or less extreme than this one. Major Pandem aftermarket manufacturers also have their own E30 kit, but there are plenty of options for those who also want something a little more bespoke.
1 Full Drift Build
With their performance capabilities and balanced chassis, M3s have been favorites of the drifting community for decades, and the E30 is no exception. Making a fully equipped drift build is probably going to be the hardest and most expensive idea on this whole list, but it’s worth it.
The E30 has effortless retro styling that makes it one of the best looking cars on a drift grid, even among the most expensive competitors. The E30 is so versatile that drifting is just one of many possibilities, the only limits being the owner’s budget and imagination.
Not only has BMW made some of the best cars in Europe; it also made them available to most consumers. But there is one model that even BMW regrets having made.
About the Author