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Life As A Car Guy, Episode 2: The E30 Strikes Back

Okay, so technically The Empire Strikes Back is Episode V… but this isn’t about Star Wars.

A little over a month ago, my little E30 made a comeback. It participated in the 1st leg of the DTM Ph Cup, which is a club racing-level event dedicated to the cars that competed from 1984 to 1989 in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft, better known as the DTM. This series is what gave legendary status to two cars: the BMW M3 and the Mercedes Benz 190E 16 valves (more on this in a future episode).


The starting grid DTM Ph Cup Leg 1 at Clark International Speedway

Two years ago, my friend Mig Dizon and I dreamed of a race where we could match my E30 BMW and his 190E Cosworth. Last year, our dream came true and we held two DTM Races. Unfortunately, my E30 was in no condition to race, with all the gremlins that popped up after Ondoy.

This year, however, my E30 was ready – sort of. While the car was driveable, the engine had just been rebuilt and needed to be broken in. So that meant I had an artificial rev limit of 5,000rpm. Unfortunately for me, the M20B25 engine only starts producing power at 4,000rpm, which meant I only had a very small window to play with. There were a lot of other issues, but suffice to say, the car wasn’t at its best. One thing that didn’t change, however, was the wonderful feel of the E30 chassis. Its very predictable and communicative, even in the hands of a novice like myself. I finished the race at 7th place, with my fastest lap being 2:44.468 in the full track at the Clark International Speedway.


My E30 crossing the start/finish line

Bottom line: my E30 was back! It’s easy to understand my excitement once you see what my car went through:


Post-Ondoy flood damage. What a sad sight


Mud and muck in the engine bay

After four long years of rebuilding the car, it’s finally running. The car was originally to be restored, but after it was flooded in, I decided to go a different path. It’s still a car that I can drive on the street, but with the DTM races looking like a fixture in the racing calendar, my original plan has changed dramatically. Improving the handling, braking, and driver feedback are key. A bit of power also helps things along. It’s about time this project got moving. It’s time to make this car a little more serious.

Tune in next episode for an intro to the other project car, the BMW M3. ‘Til then, drive safe!

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