Words & Photos by Henry Phull
The amount of incredible cars out there that are hiding away from the internet, and even car shows for that matter, still amazes me. Sometimes the only way to find these gems is through friends or word of mouth, and that’s just the story here… You’d think a bagged E30 would be all over the place even more so, considering their popularity within the community. Well, not this one. Allow me to introduce Chris Goring’s 1988 325i coupe, finished in diamantschwarz-metallic. Considering the car was finished a good few months ago, I’d still not had a chance to see it for real, only snapshots here and there on Instagram. Luckily, thanks to the help of Jamie (who’s BMW Z4 we recently featured), we finally arranged to meet up and take a closer look this rather gorgeous E30.
This seems to be a common similarity with a lot of our recent features, but Chris’ love for cars started off with Volkswagens, owning two Mk3 Golf’s previously, in addition to a Polo 6n2. In 2012 he decided to buy his first BMW, an E46 323i coupe. Ever since that first bimmer, he has been hooked, progressing to an E36 328i coupe, an E34 525ix and then an E46 325i saloon. Throughout that whole time though, the dream was always to own an E30. But with all the straight-six engined cars he’d owned, Chris didn’t want to downgrade to the more common 318 or 318is. So, the hunt was on for a manual 325i coupe in black, which he had his heart set on.
After some tedious searching, Chris finally picked up a 1988 325i from Bristol, as a standard car, which is arguably the best way to start a project. It was in fairly good condition, minus a few rust issues which is to be expected on the majority of E30’s these days. Both sills, bulk head and the rear valance needed some attention, but Chris made sure these areas were all sorted before the all-important modifying commenced.
He also replaced the plastic grill surrounds up front, as the original ones had faded from age. A lot of people forget about small touches like this, but give these areas some attention and it can totally transform the car and bring it back to life. Other than that, the car was given a proper clean and detail, which did wonders for the original paint which came up a treat.
Even with the big 2.5l straight six under the hood, Chris knew he wanted to amplify that classic BMW sound even more so, with a little work on the exhaust system. This was easily done by removing the entire back box and replacing it with stainless steel straight pipe to the mid box with dual outward rolled tips to finish it off.
So let’s get down to my favourite aspect of the car, the suspension. It’s the usual story of those who make the jump to air… Having destroyed the underside of most of his previous cars, Chris decided that the time had finally come to bite the bullet and spend the money on a full Air Lift Performance E30 kit. After all those previous BMW’s, this was the dream car, so it was going to be treated accordingly.
The Air Lift kit is designed specifically for the E30 chassis, and is basically a like-for-like suspension swap, minus the cutting and welding of the front strut tubes due to BMW’s design on most of their older models. In addition to the all-adjustable struts and bags on all four corners, the kit ships with a 4 gallon air tank, VIAIR 380 compressor and the all-important AutoPilot V2 digital management. Chris decided to enlist the help of Oxford Car Audio to undertake the whole install, with the intentions of an impressive yet simple boot build to perfect the car.
Of course, with the car now dropped Chris had to decide on a set of wheels. He opted for a set of WatercooledIND CC10’s, 16×9 all round. It’s difficult to pull off a modern wheel on a classic car, but these really feel at home on the E30 and somewhat rejuvenate the car. Plus, makes it stand out from the crowd of the usual Alpina’s or BBS RS’s. To get that spot on fitment, the wheels are married to 205/40 tyres on all corners. A lot of playing about and adjusting, and Chris has nailed the camber even up front.
A look into the cabin, and you’ll notice that not much has changed from a regular classic BMW. Other than some super clean original Sport seats, a 330mm Nardi classic steering wheel has been fitted along with gear knob which completely suits the car. Chris wasn’t entirely sure how he wanted the boot set up to look, but he knew he wanted it to be simple, and let Oxford Car Audio do their magic.
When he picked up the car he was blown away, not surprising as they’ve got it spot on. Clean and simple, not to ruin the classic style, but with a load of small details chucked in compromising of alcantara, LED’s and hard line. You’ll also notice that Air Lift V2 controller has been beautifully mounted in the centre console where it looks right at home.
The E30 is also Chris’ daily driver, which is brave but refreshing to see. The guys at Oxford Car Audio took this into account and made sure there was still plenty of room in the boot to make it usable and not a full-on show piece.
For Chris, cars are his life. Most of his time is spent thinking about cars, and ways to improve his, and of course secretly browsing for parts online at work! When the weekend rolls around it is all about chilling with pals, working on and cleaning their cars and eating pizza. “It’s the best kind of life” according to Chris. It really makes me happy to see more and more younger people buying classic cars and showing them some much needed love. Chris is considering a new set of wheels in addition to a leather interior once he can source one. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing the E30 again at some shows this year. Keep an eye out for it, it’ll blow you away.