Normally we come across well-built BMW E30 M3s where owners tear down their ride, fixing things and making mods where they see fit.
In the case of the M3 you see here, however, owner Ricardo Dacruz took a slightly different approach. While visiting Azevedo Motorsports in Linden, NJ, Ricardo came across an E30 M3 bodyshell. The timing was perfect for Ricardo, so he had Azevedo remove the car from the pallet. Before long, it was on a rotisserie, with work starting from above and below.
“When I saw the car, all I could see was the opportunity,” stated Ricardo as we discussed why he’d start such a major project. “The car was just waiting for somebody like me to come along. All I could think about was how I could make it like no other.”
The Azevedo Motorsports team worked hard to finish the project in 11 months and to a respectable budget. “The project went quickly, and we had a lot of fun working on it,” said Rui Azevedo, president of Azevedo Motorsports.
Sourcing an European-spec E36 M3 S50 B32 3.2L engine seemed a logical choice since it was a bare shell. After all, each motor was hand-built by a single factory worker (similar to AMG’s “one engine, one man” policy) to give it the quality demanded by M3 owners. The naturally aspirated engine achieves its 320hp thanks largely to an 11.5:1 compression ratio and lightweight internals. This craftsmanship was what initially attracted Ricardo to the powerplant.
Euro-Spec BMW E36 S50 B32 engine swap
17x8.5" iForged Senekas with flat-black faces
Working with an exceptional engine like the S50, Azevedo employed several modifications to deliver a modern user experience and presentation. They installed a BMW Motorsport head with a high compression gasket and PTG headers. This resulted in an estimated 350hp and 280 ft-lb. As a consequence, a six-speed transmission with a Clutchmasters stage 3 clutch was also incorporated.
Addressing the exterior, Ricardo wanted to ensure people knew his E30 was different and shouldn’t be underestimated. The front and rear bumpers were shaved, enriched with an Evo 2 front lip and Evo 3 splitter, while the Evo 3 rear spoiler got a carbon fiber Gurney flap.
With a respray needed, picking the right color would make or break the project. So he searched for a shade that would translate the high level of craftsmanship that had gone into the car, eventually opting for the Aston Martin DB9 Racing Green.
However, the next task was equally as crucial since the E30 M3 is world renowned for its handling prowess. So Ricardo made sure his M3 could run with the best of it’s brothers around the globe. Azevedo outfitted the car with urethane bushings and adjustable Koni coilovers with Ground Control front camber adjusters. A six-point rollcage has further reinforced the shell, making the car thrilling through any apex.
Upon entering the vehicle, you’re overwhelmed by details such as the Porsche GT3-style seats with five-point harnesses and alcantara BMW M steering wheel. Everything is surrounded by the aforementioned cage, which was also painted in Aston green to tie the interior to the exterior.
Discovering an E30 M3 as a blank slate can spur modification fantasies in any automotive enthusiast. Diving into such a project undoubtedly requires a backbone and vision. Fortunately, Ricardo had the fortitude to complete an M3 that sacrificed nothing – giving him everything.
1988 BMW M3
Ricardo stands proudly next to his E30 M3
3.2L six-cylinder 24v S52 B32 with BMW Motorsport head, PTG headers, Alpha N management, 3" custom exhaust with Magnaflow muffler, Spal cooling fan, shaved engine bay
six-speed manual transmission, aluminum flywheel, Clutch Masters stage 3 clutch, 3.73:1 final drive
ARD six-piston front calipers with 330mm rotors, four-piston rear calipers with 305mm rear rotors, ARD stainless steel lines
Koni coilovers, Ground Control front camber plates, polyurethane bushings
Wheels & Tires
17x9" (f) 17x10 (r) iForged Seneka wheels, 215/40 (f), 245/35 (r) Falken Zeix tires
shaved front and rear bumpers, Evo 2 front lip, Evo 3 front splitter and rear spoiler with carbon wing, DTM mirrors, carbon kidney grilles, Euro smoked HID headlights, fogs and tail lights, Aston Martin Racing Green paint
Porsche GT3-style front seats, five-point harnesses, six-point chromoly rollcage, ARD short shifter and knob, custom upholstery, alcantara BMW M Sport steering wheel