If you haven’t been following The Drive’s $2,000 BMW E30 325is project, here’s a quick recap: The Drive decided to buy an old, beaten down BMW E30 325is for $2,000 and turn it into a race car. But not just any race car, it was to go rally racing in RallyCross and the be completely converted over to do some endurance racing in ChumpCar. All within the span of a couple of months. Oh, and in between, it did some rock crawling in Colorado with Matt Farah. So not only did the old, beaten up E30 go racing, but two completely different kinds of racing which require two completely different setups while also doing some rock crawling in between. That’s pretty impressive.
We left off after they had taken it to RallyCross, where it suffered a serious beating and a cracked oil pan, so it needed some repairs. They were able to repair it but it took a serious all-nighter and they needed to find a replacement brake caliper the morning they had to leave to drive the E30 to Alabama for ChumpCar. Fortunately, they got the caliper and installed it in time to get it to the track on schedule.
This is where we pick up in this new video, which so happens to be the last video. They start off the ChumpCar endurance race and the E30 seems to be working perfectly. In fact, the first driver remarks that it was driving fantastically, which was odd considering they hadn’t really driven it since it was converted from a rally car to a track car and no alignment had been done. But it went through its first day pretty solid.
The only real issue the first day was the its rear tires were rubbing pretty hard through some turns, so by the end of the day the rear tires’ sidewalls were almost completely worn down and it’s a mystery how they didn’t blow. Credit Nitto for making strong tires.
On the second day, they banged out the rear fenders so they wouldn’t wear down the tires and hoped for another successful day. Unfortunately, the E30 started to have some issues that day. The radiator cracked, thanks to the fan hitting it over and over again. During these endurance races, the cars are running really hard for hours on end, though tight corners and taking pretty big shocks, so things start to rattle a bit, which caused the fan to break the radiator. Unfortunately, the only other spare radiator they could get was one from a later model E30 and the hose necks were in opposite spots. So they had to rig it to work by cutting extra hoses and created super long ones to re-route the coolant flow. It worked and the E30 was back on the track.
This mishap lost them twelve places in the race so they a lot of making up to do. Unfortunately, they then lost third and fourth gear, so they had to shift up from second to fifth, and run most of the race in fifth. Which is slow. Incredible slow. So they placed pretty far back. However, they finished the race and that’s really what they came to accomplish.
The whole goal of this project was to take an old, tired and worn down E30, turn it into a rally car, complete a rally race, then turn it into an endurance car and complete and endurance race. They did all of this with the ancient and beat up E30 325is. There’s a lot to be proud of here and it proves how durable the E30 BMW 3 Series really is.
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