What happens when you combine one of BMW’s greatest cars with one of its greatest engines? You get something that’s nothing short of a masterpiece, and this V10-engined modified BMW M3 E30 is a build on another level.
There are not many V10-powered production cars out there. It’s one of the least popular of the more exotic engine configurations, but it’s left its mark on the motoring world in a big way thanks to its incredible exhaust note. Think V10, and you immediately think of machines like the brutish Dodge Viper, magnificent supercars like the Porsche Carrera GT, Lexus LFA and Lamborghini Gallardo and Huracan, and, of course, BMW’s own E60 M5 and E63 M6.
While BMW was not the only car manufacturer to produce a V10-powered saloon and estate, with Audi offering several NA and turbo models in both body styles, it was the first.
Before the E60 M5, you had V8s for power and V12s for refinement: that was the established formula, and everyone was happy with that. And then BMW, off the back of its involvement in F1, decided that the most logical thing in the world would be to create an absolutely epic, high-revving V10 from scratch for its next M5, and a legend was born.
And that might have been the end of the V10’s story because BMW never again produced a V10 road car after that, which makes the E6x M legacy all the more special. But then what happened was that people started eyeing up the S85 and then eyeing up other BMs, and looking at the engine bays, their heads slightly tiled with a ‘What if…?’ expression on their faces. And then they started to put that V10 into cars that it was never meant to be in, and that it was hard to believe it could even fit into, creating incredible machines that took modding to the next level, and that’s exactly what you’re looking at here.
The person behind the V10 E30 M3 build
Ronald Norat (@rennerprojekts, @masterclassauto), the man behind this epic modified BMW M3 E30, is a man for whom BMW has been a passion since an early age. He’s taken that passion and built his life around it, and he is unquestionably a true enthusiast on both a personal and professional level. “I first fell in love with BMW as a young teenager. Watching DTM races on television, I saw how BMW dominated Mercedes-Benz with incredible power, handling, and style. Equally impressive for me was how that same racing performance translated across their lineup – from the smallest chassis to the largest (most expensive models),” he tells us with a smile, though it would be a little while before he got his first taste of BMW ownership.
“It wasn’t until 2000 that I was able to purchase my first BMW – a 1988 325is – which I went on to fully restore to OEM specs. While I was really hoping to acquire an E30 M3, I only had the budget for this. Five years later though, I had the opportunity to purchase two E30 M3s, which I also went on to fully restore,” he says, and it’s clear that the E30 M3 holds a special place in his heart, as if you couldn’t have already guessed.
“My passion for BMW led me to open my own repair shop, MasterClass Automotive, an independent automotive repair facility located in Miami, Florida. But it was after completing my first two ground-up restorations that I felt inspired to turn my restoration hobby into a viable business all its own. Renner Projekts was born with the idea of celebrating the most iconic BMWs of the ’80s and ’90s and re-engineering them with the modern powertrains and technology of today,” explains Ronald, and this E30 M3 – Projekt 3 – is the company’s flagship build.
Buying the BMW M3 E30
“When I launched Renner Projekts, I wanted one of the first prototypes to be based on the iconic E30 M3 chassis,” Ronald tells us. We can already hear the wails of anguish from the purists lamenting the fact that someone would mess with a classic like this, but trust us when we say this was the perfect car for this build. “The vehicle was sourced locally in South Florida from a private seller. The chassis was in good condition, but it came without a powertrain,” he says, and now it all makes sense. “Because the vehicle was missing its original engine, instead of doing a traditional OEM restoration, I thought it could be a candidate for a Renner Projekt. I don’t have the heart to sacrifice an E30 with an original engine,” he chuckles, so the purists among you out there can relax.
Planning the V10 engine swap
With the E30 acquired, it was time to get stuck into the build, and the first step was sorting the fundamentals and getting the car in perfect condition for its transformation. “I started on the chassis first – stripping and media-blasting down to the bare metal. Once I sourced the S85 donor engine, it was all hands on deck!” exclaims Ronald, and the engine was the biggest part of the whole build.
“The powertrain layout, an S85 engine from a 2008 E60 M5, was completely redone and designed so as not to harm the original firewall, transmission tunnel, and structural frame. As you can imagine, fitting a V10 into the E30 is no easy task,” says Ronald. “We had a custom oil pan fitted, and the front subframe and rack and pinion were modified to fit the new engine and transmission. A custom rear differential was installed (from a Z3 M Roadster). The AC was also retrofitted with a new compact system (all-in-one compressor, condenser, and evaporator in a single unit) that is not attached to the engine to avoid resistance,” he explains, and this gives you an idea of just how much work was involved.
The sight of the 5.0-liter V10 stuffed into the E30’s engine is something else; it takes up all the available space, there is no engine bay left, and it’s simply magnificent. In the Projekt 3, it’s been treated to a carbon plenum and carbon intakes, which make it look and sound even more spectacular, and it’s a fitting centerpiece for this awesome build.
Chassis upgrades for the modified BMW M3 E30
With a V10 replacing the original four-cylinder S14, the chassis naturally needed some attention to make sure the car could cope with that five-liter engine up front. “Custom coilover suspension was installed together with bigger sway bars and reinforced lower control arms, all for maximum handling,” explains Ronald. That combo ensures that this E30 is a joy to drive and to ensure it stops with equal enthusiasm, the brakes too have undergone some upgrades. Up front, there now sit massive six-piston calipers, with four-pot items at the rear, and that combo delivers massive, effortless stopping power on demand.
The V10 is the wildest part of this build, and the rest of this E30 is far more subdued, but we really appreciate that, and we love the approach that Ronald and the Renner Projekts team had. “The original exterior design was preserved to celebrate the iconic styling of the vehicle,” explains Ronald. “In-house, we blended an original color with lots of metallic flakes to create a unique presentation. From media blast to final paint and assembly, the exterior restoration took approximately six months.”
When it comes to classics, we always say that we really love it when people let that retro styling speak for itself, and that was exactly the approach taken with the Projekt 3. Nothing has been changed on the exterior of this M3, everything has been left as it was from the factory, with just the color and wheels doing all the work on the aesthetic front, but that combo makes a huge difference.
The color is absolutely gorgeous. Silver can be a little underwhelming, let’s be honest, but this custom shade is simply stunning, and when the sun hits it, that flake pop is just outrageous. It looks so good on the M3, and the light background is the perfect canvas for the little color highlights. You’ve got the two-tone blue pinstripes running down the car’s flanks that look so perfectly period, and we love the blue strips in the front and rear bumpers.
And as for the wheels, they make this E30 look like an ’80s concept car and completely transform it. “We designed and fabricated – in partnership with AL13 – custom 18” staggered wheels with hand-painted color accents,” says Ronald, and they look spectacular. The hand-painted cross-spoke details on the centers are the finishing touch that really makes these wheels stand out so much, and that aero-disc design works perfectly on the M3. With those big faces, the wheels look huge, and they immediately grab your attention with what is quite a simple design, and we love how they effortlessly emphasize the E30’s ’80s aesthetic.
Modified BMW M3 E30 interior
Finally, we come to the interior, and, much like the exterior, the aim here was to keep things simple and clean while adding a special touch. “The E30 M3 is known for its simplistic beauty, so all fittings were kept true to the original layout, except for the modified (and personalized) cluster. The upholstery was redone in dark blue Nappa leather for added luxury, together with Alcantara suede accents on the headliner and pillars,” says Ronald, and we love how the cabin looks. The dark blue leather is beautiful, and subtle, while the light blue contrasting stitching adds an extra flash of color; even the seatbelts are blue, as are the needles on the custom dials. The Alcantara headlining, meanwhile, adds the perfect opulent finishing touch to the interior and the whole build.
This E30 M3 is absolutely glorious there’s no other way to describe it. It’s a subtle but simply sublime build that keeps its card close to its chest and only reveals its secrets when you delve beneath the surface, and we love that about it. It’s not a sleeper, but it certainly doesn’t shout about its V10 powerplant, either; well, not until you put your foot down, at least. And it is, naturally, the V10 that’s the star of the show here. “The engine – by far – is the most iconic component that makes this car so special,” smiles Ronald, and we completely agree: it makes this build.
“The full restoration – from media blast of the chassis to the engineering, customization, and final assembly – took approximately 12 months,” Ronald tells us, adding, “Nothing was held back, and no budget was spared,” which is exactly why it’s a build of such an incredibly high caliber. And while the Projekt 3 might be done, Renner Projekts is just getting started, with two other builds already completed and coming to these pages very soon, and Ronald isn’t done creating show-stopping demo builds. “I am currently working on the next Renner Projekt 3 (v2.0) – another E30 M3/S85 resto-mod with a DTC transmission from the E92 M3,” he grins, and when it comes to the relentless pursuit of retro perfection, Renner Projekts’ results speak for themselves.
Tech Spec: Modified BMW M3 E30
Engine and transmission:
5.0-litre V10 S85B50, carbon intakes and plenum, all-in-one air-con unit, custom Renner Projekts stainless steel exhaust. Custom six-speed manual gearbox, custom E36/7 Z3 M Roadster LSD.
8.5×18” (front) and 9×18” (rear) custom Renner Projekts/AL13 wheels with blue hand-painted details, custom coilovers, thicker anti-roll bars, reinforced lower control arms, six-piston calipers (front), four-piston calipers (rear), double-piston boost-less master cylinder.
Full respray in custom silver, two-tone blue pinstripes, blue bumper strips.
Full retrim in blue Nappa leather with contrasting stitching, blue seatbelts, Alcantara headlining and pillars, retrimmed steering wheel, modified dials.