-When you push the starter button, the lights, radio, blower motor, etc are turned off to maximize starting current.

-A "flash to pass" function on the headlights.

-If the battery voltage drops below 12V, the system progressively shuts down non-critical systems to maximize run time. Everything will run down to 10.5V, when all that's powered is the engine, ABS, headlights, and taillights.

-Courtesy lights stay on for 30 seconds when doors are closed but shut off immediately if you turn on the headlights, although there's a manual interior lights override.

-All circuit protection is self-resetting and there's a warning light to tell you if anything is wrong.

With the car's bones and vitals in place, it became clear the E30's new track wasn't going to fit beneath the old sheet metal. To fix the problem, Piper gently flared the car's front and rear fenders, and unless you see E30s in your sleep at night, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference from a stock M3. After the bodywork was finished, the crew shipped the car off for paint at Old School Enterprises.

When it was all done, we promptly flew to Piper Motorsports to take it for a spin. Open the door, swing into the bucket seat, and the first thing you notice is that the interior looks just like that of an O.E. car. There's little to give away that the E30 is anything other than a well-built factory special.

Vasavada sits with laptop in hand in the passenger seat, trying to make me understand the sheer capability of the gaggle of electronics under the dashboard as I buckle in. Lucky for me, it's all been condensed into the above two convenient dials, located in the center console. And we're playing with the most important one first, traction control. This is not important because I'm itching to be some kind of parking lot bad-ass, mind you. The truth is, I'm apprehensive-the car only weighs 2,958 pounds wet, and I don't want to accidentally slide someone's quarter-million-dollar childhood dream into a concrete barrier. To my utter shock, the car couldn't be easier to slip into gear and ease out of the parking space. The power steering (also E90, if you were curious) is light and communicative. No big biceps necessary here either.

The interesting-but-obvious realization you have when driving around town is that despite all of the media criticism that the M5 V10 received for being detrimentally high-revving is completely out of the window in a lighter car. You can start the M3 from a standstill as easily in fourth gear as in first, and it pulls like a freight train all the way to 8250 rpm. And when the quad exhaust sends the sounds of a ten-pipe organ into the cockpit through it all, it's impossible to maintain composure or avoid eliciting a madman cackle. There's a lot of power on tap, but the throttle is easy to modulate, and the chassis is so cable-tight that even if your foot does get heavy for a moment, it's a joke to recover.

Around the Piper Motorsport garage, the V10 E30 M3 is lovingly referred to as the Franken M3. We have to think the car is exactly what would have happened if Dr. Frankenstein had been successful in his quest for creation-something stronger, safer and more beautiful than the Bavarian car gods themselves could have built. A monster to be sure. An expletive-inducing heathen culled from the very best of BMW's past, but executed in such refined detail as to be an evolution of what the M3 could have been.

Note: Since we drove the car, it's received a Dinan 5.7-liter stroker kit, bumping horsepower to 628. Check out pipermotorsport.com for the details.

By James Tate
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