THE BMW E30 M3 was a state of the art sports coupe back in 1987. But then that was a time when a Commodore 64 was a pretty flash bit of kit.
Nowadays mobile phones have processors that are 2800 times quicker than the best-selling personal computer of all time. The quickest car you could buy in 1987 was a RUF CTR Yellowbird with 350kW. Nowadays you can buy 1400kW electric hypercars. It’s fair to say that things have moved on. So where does that leave the E30 M3?
Predictably, left behind, if we’re brutally honest. Tiff Needell lapped the Anglesey circuit quicker in a Colt CZT, itself hardly the acme of cutting edge sports cars.
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Sure, age has done little to wither the acuity of the M3’s steering, the great visibility from the airy glasshouse, the wristy gearshift or the pin-sharp throttle response. But, like any car now over three decades old, it can feel a little quaint.
British engineering outfit Redux Leichtbau has the answer, and it involves a root-and-branch update of the bits that matter. We’d hesitate to call it a restomod, because people usually interpret that term to include styling that’s been brought up to date, but think of the Redux E30 M3 as the Singer 911 of its ilk and you’re not too far off the mark. In fact, Redux might even be a little more ambitious than Singer Vehicle Design.
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Redux CEO Simon Lord originally hankered after the ultimate E30 M3 race car, and embarked upon a program of researching what needed to happen in terms of weight reduction, chassis stiffening, suspension redesign, as well as braking and engine improvements.
First stop was EXE-TC. Seven of Sebastien Loeb’s World Rally Championships were won on EXE-TC dampers, so it’s fair to say these guys know what they’re doing when it comes to three- or four-way dampers.
The fade-prone brakes get replaced by a monster AP Racing setup with six-piston fronts and four-pots for the rears. A 330mm/304mm disc setup is the most popular, although the company can go larger and fit carbon ceramics if required. The traditional E30 M3 issue of insufficient spacing between the disc faces and the wheel spokes (which tends to prevent meatier calipers being fitted) was fully addressed when redesigning wheels and suspension.
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There are in-house front control arms, anti-roll bars, front and rear cross members, front uprights and rear trailing arms. That’s on top of beefier bushings and upgraded drive flanges and hubs. The forged aluminium monobloc wheels from Cinel (a centre-lock look is also offered) are shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sport Sport 4 rubber, and are designed to subtly play on a 1980s cross-spoke BBS vibe.
The engine also comes in for some love. The original E30 M3 had to make do with a mere 138kW from its four-cylinder 2.3-litre lump. This engine was enlarged to 2.5-litres for later Sport Evolution models and Redux replicate this work on the smaller capacity engine.
There’s also custom rods, pistons and a BMW Motorsport crankshaft. A Motec ECU, a freer-breathing radiator, and a bespoke engine loom. We appreciate that this may be sacrilegious to some – and bear in mind that an atmo 2.5-litre four has its limits – but you can also specify a turbocharged version that’s good for 289kW and 529Nm. That ought to deliver a power to weight ratio (when caged) of 207kW/tonne, which is about on par with a current Porsche 911 Carrera S. Power is delivered to the rear boots via heavy-duty half-shafts and a chunkier driveshaft mating with a rebuilt diff.
Inside the car, customers get the opportunity to go completely nuts with trim inserts, upholsteries and colour combinations. Most will choose a sympathetic update of the original look and feel and only 30 cars will be built, each taking between 18 and 24 months to complete. Pricing is naturally fluid, as Redux will either convert your existing E30 M3 to spec, or can source a car for you.
If you love old M3s but want to do more than polish them and reminisce, you know what to do.