Words & Photos by Henry Phull
I was first introduced to Nick Hart’s E28 5 series back at ‘The German Show’ event last year in Beaulieu. It totally blew me away, firstly due to the super rare “Weinrot” paint job, which you could describe as a sort of burgundy or red wine colour. I’d never seen another car with this paint from factory. Plus, the car was static, silly low, on a set of stunning RFs. This was all during a time before the E28 had become such a popular car on the show circuit. There’s now quite a few of these beauties in circulation – each with their own personality. I’ve been wanting to get a closer look at Nick’s though, because it’s simply one of the (if not the only) lowest static examples in the UK. I’ll always remember how he had to battle his way along the appalling New Forest roads to get to that show and back. Amazingly, he’s lowered it even more since… This is a serious ‘no f**ks given’ car.
Nick fits electric gates for a living, but has always had a huge passion for cars, spending countless hours on them in his spare time. He’s owned all sorts.. from a Mk1 Golf, Starlet Turbo, to a Volvo 340 with a Williams Clio engine. Prior to the E28, he owned an E36 which was mainly used for skidding. He was offered the E28 as a straight swap, so Nick went for it with the initial idea of drifting it, until he realised it would probably be best to preserve such a fine piece of history.
What I love about Nick’s E28 is that it’s rough around the edges. He’ll admit that this isn’t the kind of the car that will win a Show ‘n’ Shine, and he never intended it to. It’s not perfect – but it’s a hell of a lot tidier than when he first picked up the car. The car was in such a state, it’s fair to say that it looked like it had been pulled straight out of a bush. Clearly minimal love was shown by its mammoth list of previous owners. He’s done superbly to bring it back to its former glory.
The first thing most people notice when they glance at the car is the faded drivers wing. Nick says that he’s often asked why he doesn’t just replace the wing or get it sprayed, but he likes it as it is – essentially adding to the car’s character. He believes at some point in it’s life it has had a scratch repaired by the means of an amateur paint job, which has worsened over the years. As long as the car is solid, how can you not like a bit of genuine patina?
In addition to the unusual factory paint colour, the rarities continue under the hood. Originally a 520i auto, at some point during its past the engine and transmission have been swapped out, in place of 3.0 litre bored out M30 lump from a mix of E34 and E28 parts as well as a manual swap. This would usually seem like a selling point to most, but it’s actually caused Nick nothing but hassle. Being a ‘home-brew’ swap from multiple engines, it’s been impossible to know what parts to buy first time round, resulting in plenty of trial and error.
Nick had to try five different starter motors, three fly wheels and two clutches just to find the right setup to get the car starting correctly. Not to mention, he had to rip apart the whole fuel system due to massive rust and corrosion and rebuild it again with similar frustration. There always seems to be something that needs tinkering with – but it’s all fun and games. Luckily for Nick, he has use of a work van for daily duties.
The interior has had a bit of a switch up since Nick picked up the car. A previous owner had fitted a pair of RS Turbo Recaro seats with harnesses, which he felt didn’t suit the car at all. He hunted high and low for a replacement, and finally hit the jackpot with an incredibly tidy set of original E28 cloth front seats which matched the rear bench perfectly. With the addition of a wooden Nardi steering wheel out of an MX5, plus an E46 wooden gear knob, the interior now resembles that quintessential 80’s look and feel.
Having finally been a passenger in Nick’s car along a variety of roads, I can confirm that it really is stupidly low. It scrapes everywhere… even on what can look like a flat/even road. A lot of people ask him how he’s lowered it. The answer.. a continued ‘DIY’ attitude, with Nick and his friend Craig finding a cheap way to get the car sitting as low as possible.
This involved re-drilling and welding Polo 6n coilovers and adding E30 top mounts which were machined to fit perfectly. I think you’ll agree that the results are absolutely spot on, although some precautions had to be made to preserve the engine’s sump. This was sorted easily using a set of SS AUTOWERKS engine raisers – and a custom sump guard just for extra piece of mind.
To finish off his vision, Nick knew the car had to be on splits, opting for a set of classic BBS RFs. 17×8.5 ET8 up front with 5mm spacers and 17×9.5 ET13 at the rear, these are married to 205/40 and 195/40 tyres resulting in beautiful overall fitment.
Nick is one of those people that builds a car for himself, and doesn’t give a damn about what others think or whether they approve. You won’t have seen the E28 at many shows, as Nick really isn’t bothered about people seeing it. So, I’m glad I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with him – I certainly feel it’s something worth sharing. With much of his spare time spent running SS AUTOWERKS, Nick is also working on a Mk1 Caddy project which is looking super exciting – and by the sound of it will be looking ‘mint’ in comparison to the E28. Although with talks of either a V8 conversion or M51 diesel engine swap, I just know he won’t be forgetting about the BMW any time soon.