Readers of a sensitive disposition should look away now because this wild, wide-body, LS-powered BMW E30 is an all-out assault on the senses. While it certainly won’t be for everyone, it’s an incredible build that is a rolling testament to its owner’s vision and passion.

How controversial do you want your BMW E30? If modifications were like the Nando’s chicken heat scale, we reckon air-ride would be somewhere near the bottom – Mild, we’d say. Most people are on board with it, and you’re not going to upset too many members of the BMW community.

A wide-body conversion will take things up a notch to Medium – it’s getting a little spicy, and some people might get angry beads of sweat on their foreheads when they spy a car like that at a show, but, done well, it can definitely work.

front shot of bmw e30

The next step up from there would be Hot, and we can safely say an LS V8 swap would achieve that sort of level of general displeasure among die-hard fans. Because how dare someone run a thunderous, all-alloy V8 in place of something far more expensive and subdued from BMW’s own engine back catalogue… And then, if you want to hit the ultimate spice level of controversial E30 build, all you need is to mix all those ingredients together and watch the ensuing chaos unfold. Which is exactly what Aussie Tyrone Yu did with his E30.

The thing is, regardless of how old-fashioned and set in your ways you might be when it comes to BMWs, we simply can’t understand how anyone could look at this spectacular LS-powered BMW E30 build and not be impressed.

BMW ownership

While Tyrone’s interest in the blue and white roundel isn’t a lifelong one, he’s thrown himself into ownership with all the passion imaginable, because you don’t build a car like this if you’re not absolutely committed to your goal.

“I took interest in BMW probably when I started learning how to drive, and owning and modding the E82 120i I had as my first car really got me into Euros and BMWs even more,” Tyrone tells us with a smile. “The E82 was a nice compact sporty car that was P-plate legal at the time, and it did not need a lot of mods to look even better,” he says, and Tyrone quickly added a cat-back exhaust, a Flow Designs front lip and a carbon fibre boot lip spoiler, and with that, he got his first taste of modding, and he liked it. The 1 Series was followed by an F30 320i, and now the mods began to develop, with more carbon, Volk TE37 SLs, and some exhaust upgrades. And from there, believe it or not, he moved on to car number three, this E30.

rear aftermarket wheels

Why modify the BMW E30?

“The E30 eventually grew on me as I saw it around more: it is such a classic and iconic car, and I’ve just always appreciated boxy old cars,” Tyrone enthuses. “I found the car on Facebook marketplace. The previous owner had a collection of E30s and had to let one go. The car was kept outside but was very well maintained, with retrimmed seats and a manual gearbox, and it was a running car with minimal rust spots.

The paint was not so good, but I was not fussed as the car ticked all the boxes for what I needed it for,” he explains. And that’s because Tyrone knew exactly what he wanted to do with it: “I was already committed to do the wide-body kit and an engine swap so it was a matter of finding a car suitable for the project,” he grins, and this E30 was the perfect platform on which to realise his wide-body V8 dream.

detail shot of LS-powered BMW E30

Live to Offend wide-body kit

When talking about this E30, it’s impossible to start anywhere other than the Live to Offend wide-body, even though it was actually one of the last mods that Tyrone did to the car. It simply dominates everything, and the sheer drama of it cannot be overstated nor truly appreciated in mere pictures.

“The funny thing is, I first saw Khyzyl Saleem’s render of the E30 and wished his designs would be real kits. Around a year later, they came up with a prototype E30 with the kit, and I remember watching the video they shot and having the sudden urge to build an E30 with that kit,” enthuses Tyrone. “I messaged Live to Offend to enquire and almost ordered the kit before I bought the car, but decided to do more research and find the right car as they had only made the kits for Series 2 E30s.

I approached Concept Garage around early 2021, and they were able to fit in the engine bay shaving and respray but had to shut again due to lockdown. Work on the kit didn’t start until around March 2022, and we had a deadline for the unveil at World Time Attack Stylized show and shine in April,” he says, and there’s nothing quite like a tight deadline to get the adrenaline flowing.

aftermarket headlights

Devil is in the detail with this LS-powered BMW E30

What you’re looking at is a Stage 2 LTO wide-body, and every aspect of it is so outlandish and outrageous that it’s hard to take it all in, but there’s lots more going on here beyond just the body kit because Tyrone is not a man who does things by halves. Up front, you’ve got the striking Dapper Lighting 575 headlights, clear bumper indicators, as well as Custom Concept Garage carbon bonnet vents that add even more drama to proceedings, and the whole lot has been finished in Mazda Soul Red Crystal paint. This is an absolutely gorgeous shade of red that shifts from an almost orange hue to something in the region of raspberry depending on the light. It pops in the sun and adds so much visual flair to the whole build.

Seeing as this project was always destined to become a wide-body build, it’s no surprise that the LTO kit is what Tyrone loves most about his E30. “My favourite mod has to be the wide-body. It’s a blend of sci-fi while maintaining its retro look. The contouring on the kit flows well and just enhances the overall shape,” he enthuses, and thus endowed, this LS-powered BMW E30 really looks like nothing else out there.

front aftermarket wheels on bmw

Choosing the aftermarket wheels

Arguably one of the biggest challenges presented by opting for a wide-body conversion is not fitting the kit, but rather finding wheels that fit. Those massive arches demand massive widths and appropriate offsets to fill them to a satisfactory degree, and, as you can see, Tyrone’s choice is absolutely up to the task. “I originally found a very nice set of BBS RSs, but it would not have fit with the BBK, so I had to opt for custom-spec faces. I really wanted to keep the retro look with wheels that were similar to the OEM basket weaves, and eventually found Heritage Wheels, who were very supportive and offered a partial sponsorship,” he says, and these are absolutely stunning.

These custom three-piece 17s measure 9.5” wide up front and a massive 11” across at the rear, but what really blows our mind are the offsets. The fronts are ET-35 while the rears are ET-60, both of which are insanely aggressive, and that tells you all you need to know about how challenging it is to fill arches this wide. The wheels are simply awesome, with those massive polished flat lips and the tight, fully polished cross-spoke centres. They suit the E30 so well and fill those massive arches to perfection, and they are an inspired choice.

front shot of LS-powered BMW E30

Chassis modifications

With that wide-body and those wheels, static suspension simply wouldn’t have delivered the level of drama Tyrone was looking for with this show-stopping build. It was always going to be air-ride, and he’s running a Prazis setup, but there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface than just that. Tyrone is also running Prazis camber plates, as well as new front control arms with SuperPro bushes and new tie rods. “To support the engine swap and a different diff, the subframes were required to be modified, as well as the propshaft to adapt to the T56 gearbox,” he explains.

“The purple tag steering rack was a common modification in the E30 scene as the OEM one had a terrible turning radius; the car felt more like a go-kart after installing the new rack,” Tyrone enthuses. “The Wilwood BBK was a personal preference as we could have put some RX-7 brakes (though they’re hidden by the wheels now),” and while you might not be able to see the brakes, you know they look good, as well as delivering serious stopping power.

Modified e30 interior

Interior mods

With so much going on on the outside, the interior is rather more subdued, but as Tyrone admits, getting the exterior styling sorted was priority number one. “All our focus was to get the kit on and painted, but Concept Garage were able to fit in some extra bits such as retrimming the steering wheel in Nappa leather, M stitching, new shift and handbrake boots in M stitching, new headliner, red stitching on the carpets and dash mat, and custom red seat belts.

Eventually, it would be really nice to put in a set of OEM Recaro sport seats and retrim the rear seats and door cards to match,” says Tyrone. Even so, there’s a lot more to the interior than meets the eye, but, it’s just rather more subdued and less obvious than what’s going on on the outside. The steering wheel looks great, as does that aggressive shifter, and that brand-new headlining looks so fresh, while the custom seatbelts add a touch of flair to proceedings.

LS1 V8 engine

LS engine swap for the BMW E30

Finally, we come to the engine, and there’s a beast of a motor lurking beneath that vented bonnet. Tyrone’s E30 is running a 4.7 LS1 V8, and while that alone would be enough to deliver serious performance in the lightweight E30, as if you couldn’t already tell Tyrone is not the sort of person to leave anything standard. Within the all-American V8 sit forged pistons, H-beam con rods, upgraded valve springs, a high-volume oil pump, LS7 head gaskets, new bearings, a supercharged-style cam, new lifters, a new cam chain and adjustable timing set.

There’s also a modified LS1 sump, a FAST LSXR 102mm intake manifold, a 102mm throttle body, an Aeroflow Performance LS2 two-piece retro finned valve cover set and Aeroflow LS2 ignition coils. On top of all that, you’ve got the custom exhaust manifolds and custom 2.5” exhaust system, and the V8 sends power to the rear wheels via a custom-mounted R200 diff with a 3.692 ratio.

rear shot of LS-powered BMW E30

Rebuilt LS1

“The majority of these components were fitted by Brintech for their test vehicle. I was eventually going to rebuild the first engine later down the track but this popped up at a good time, so I went with it,” explains Tyrone. “The intake manifold, throttle body, valve covers, coils and coil leads were parts that were going on the first engine but were saved for the rebuilt one. The whole process of engine out, refreshing the old LS1 and purchasing and installing the rebuilt LS1 took around eight to nine months, as this was during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Shops were closed, and shipping took forever, but it gave my friend and I time to learn and do things right as this was our first project of this calibre,” he says. It was worth the effort as he’s now got 320whp to play with – that’s around 375hp at the crank – which has made this E30 into a blisteringly fast machine that has the go to back up all of that show.

rear 3/4 shot of e30


What’s mind-boggling about Tyrone’s build is that considering how much work has gone into it, the wide-body and the engine swap, it all took less than a year and a half to complete. “From engine out to unveiling the car took around one year and four months or so,” says Tyrone, which seems like an incredibly brief period in which to complete so much work, and to finish everything to such an incredibly high standard. And even though LS-powered BMW E30 is so awesome across the board, Tyrone is not done yet: “As of now, the car needs a retune soon, the tail lights are being modded, and I may look into seats or an ECU before the tune,” he muses, so we’ve yet to see this car in its final form.

As for this LS-powered BMW E30 as it is now, it’s capable of making die-hard BMW fans froth at the mouth, modded fans go weak at the knees, and putting a huge grin on Tyrone’s face whenever he drives it, so we reckon it’s doing everything right.

Photos: Aaron Lam.