Michael’s E30 estate mixes the sweet note of ITBs and a lumpy cam with perfect fitment to make a statement on the streets of Melbourne

Packing your bags, booking a ticket, and jumping on a plane to another country is always exciting when your main objective is to experience a local car culture. While we might be led to believe that the internet is an all-seeing eye that shows us any and everything worth laying our eyes on, the reality is that there are tons of cars that slip through the so-called World Wide Web. On a recent trip to Melbourne, not a stone was left unturned or garage door left shut in our quest to find something fresh, and, over the next few issues, we will roll out our finds. To kick things off, we take a look at Michael Hick’s bagged E30 estate.

Carbon Formuling wind splitters and an Mtech kit are the only upgrades you’ll find on this classic body

 

 

Sadly for our Aussie counterparts, they are somewhat strangled when it comes to the selection of imported cars, thanks to the government’s attempts to protect its local manufacturing industry. As such, vehicles like the E30 estate, which was never sold new there, are what we like to call ‘unicorns’. These rare pieces of German mythology are harder to come by than a sober person at the Melbourne Cup. So, when Michael Hick decided that was his dream project, it led to a painful and exhausting search to locate one on Aussie soil, as he recalls: “My love for [the] E30 started when I bought my first 318is coupe. I was honestly quite uneducated with these cars at the time but loved the shape and style of the E30. Owning that car, I learned so much about the chassis, including the existence of a Touring, which was never sold new in Aussie. I began my search, I had all but given up when one finally popped up for sale in Sydney.” 

The wagon was a fresh import from the UK and yet to complete compliance — so, first things being first, there were hoops to jump through and some shoddy repair work to be taken care of. Having grown up a self-confessed Honda kid, Michael developed an affection for super-clean engine bays, and he set about hiding and rerouting any electrical items. “I assumed it would be about a three-week project, but that quickly turned into three months and over 400 solders,” he says. The fuse box took up residence in the glove box, and the battery shifted south to the boot. While he was at it, items like the power steering and ABS were ditched, all in the name of clean. But the engine-bay work was far from over, with the search for power now supplanting clean as the focus. Rather than take the easy route with an engine swap or boost-adder, Michael decided to stick with the M20 and work on getting it to breathe, though he knew that that route would ultimately cost more and result in fewer gains than a turbo or engine swap would.

The 40mm CNC ITB kit was purchased half completed from RHD engineering in Sydney, and it took some custom fabrication to complete the manifold. Breathing through EFI Performance velocity stacks, the entire lot has been anodized gloss black

 

 

“I managed to find a guy in Sydney who had begun developing an ITB [individual-throttle-body] kit for the M20, which I managed to get my hands on before it went on sale.” 
But purchasing something not quite ready for market meant there was still a ton of work to do to get it all set up and running — work that Michael had to tackle himself. A factory manifold was cut and modified to accept the 40mm CNC throttles and associated components. The ECU side of things also proved troublesome. The first ECU was not up to the task, and neither was the tune, so, over the next six months, it deteriorated to the point that something had to give. A new Haltech Elite 2500 was wired in and tuned, which Michael tells us has meant plain sailing ever since. To maximize the new breathing set-up, the head was rebuilt using a Schrick 284 cam and Nuke Performance cam gear. This, coupled with the Raceland headers and custom exhaust, netted 115kW at the rears.

“I knew, going in, that the cost-to-power ratio would not be great, but, since it would be 95-per-cent street/show, big power figures were never high on my priority list.”
What was high on his priority list, though, was perfecting the stance. Having suffered through that super-low static life with earlier builds and coming out to find the wagon drowning in a pool of oil due to a cracked sump, he knew there had to be a better way than the custom super-short coilovers. Michael put together an air-ride set-up using a mix of Air Lift Performance and AccuAir products. He is a DIY-type cat, and although this was new to him, that wasn’t going to stop him. The result is a wagon that has DTM stance with the practicality of nana’s grocery-getter. What also gives it the DTM stance is those oh-so-dope Compomotive 17s, the third set of wheels the wagon has seen so far …

As you may have guessed, Michael’s always looking for something new to perfect. There is always something to tweak, something to replace, or something to rebuild, so it’s safe to say that this car will be a work-in-progress for some time yet. 

Michael Hack
Age: 32
Location: Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Electrician
Build time: Five years ongoing
Length of ownership: Five years ongoing
 
Thanks: Steve and Joe at MSC Performance; my partner, Ellie, for putting up with my endless hours in the garage

Heart
ENGINE: M20B25, 3000cc, six-cylinder
BLOCK: Factory
HEAD: Schrick 284 cam, Nuke Performance adjustable cam gear, Pure Performance M20 Honeywell cam-sensor kit
INTAKE: RHD Performance 40mm ITB kit, EFI Performance velocity stacks, modified intake manifold, Ramair ITB filters
EXHAUST: 2.5-inch, Raceland headers, adjustable Xforce Varex muffler, MagnaFlow 2.5-inch 100-cell cat
FUEL: Nuke Performance fuel-rail kit, Hybrid Racing fuel-pressure regulator, AN fittings, -6AN  braid
IGNITION: MicroTech/Bosch coil-pack conversion, MSD ignition, MicroTech X6 ignition-control module
ECU: Haltech Elite 2500, Haltech WBC1 controller
COOLING: Samco hoses, electric fan
EXTRA: Oil catch-can, de-loom, relocated fuse block

Driveline
GEARBOX: Factory five-speed, UUC Evo III short shift kit, UUC XTS Double Shear Selector Rod
CLUTCH: Sachs HD kit
FLYWHEEL: RHD Engineering lightweight
DIFF: Factory limited-slip

Support
STRUTS: (F) Air Lift Performance air shock; (R) Koni sport shocks, Air Lift Performance airbags
BRAKES: ABS delete; DBA T2 rotors, EBC Greenstuff pads
EXTRA: Power-steering delete, Treehouse Racing lower-control-arm bushings, twin Viair 444 compressors, Air Ride 22.7-litre tank, Air Ride tank top, AccuAir e-Level, AccuAir iLevel, AccuAir VU4 valve block

Shoes
WHEELS: 17x8-inch (+15) Compomotive Motorsport TH1780, 12mm ECU rear spacers, 5mm H&R front spacers
TYRES:  205/40R17 Kumho Ecsta LE Sport  

Exterior
PAINT: Factory BMW Alpina
ENHANCEMENTS: MTech 2 body kit, Formuling wind splitters, genuine MHW tail lights

Interior
SEATS: (F) Recaro LS Confetti
STEERING WHEEL: Alpina, NRG steering hub, NRG quick release, NRG lock hub
INSTRUMENTATION: Factory
ICE: Alpine IDA-X305S head unit, Alpine S speakers

Performance
Power: 115kW

This article originally appeared in NZ Performance Car issue No. 247. You won't find it on the shelves at the local servo now, but you can get your hands on a copy by heading to the link below

 

Aaron Mai

I am proud to be associated with NZV8 and NZ Performance Car, shooting in both New Zealand and Japan. Brought up as a rallying fanatic, at 15 I started taking photos of airborne stones with a point-and-shoot camera at the Rally New Zealand. While overseas I took up photography again to try and document the amazing places I was going and the things I was seeing. I enjoyed it much more than I expected to and it has turned into a real passion. Most of my recent photography has been done in Japan, based around the local tuners spread from Tokyo to Hiroshima. It is great being able to shoot everything from time attack machines at a freezing cold Tsukuba Circuit to tubbed drag cars in the hot Masterton summer sun. It is awesome getting to shoot these impressive works of art, but equally as much fun getting to know the people behind them.

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