If you’ve ever awoken in a cold sweat over dreams of a muscled, Corvette V-8-powered E30 M3, you’re not alone. Engineer Kevin Byrd had the same vision for his own stock 1990 BMW E30 M3, and finally caved into bringing the German-American road warrior to life.
Byrd caught the Bimmer bug and picked up this clean 1990 model, and managed to “for once in [his] life” drive it stock as a daily driver for a few years. Desire and lust for more grunt eventually boiled over, however, and wild fantasies of inserting the outgoing Corvette’s 430-hp LS3 crate engine into the classic M3 entered the fold.
As these projects are wont to do, taking the E30 M3 apart uncovered some surprise rust. “The car looked good on the surface, but I had been tagged hard and repaired sometime in the past,” Byrd told our friends at Hot Rod. “I pretty much had to rebuild the driver side from a flat sheet.”
Fortunately for Byrd, this wasn’t his first rodeo—he’s a successful engineer at a major auto manufacturer—because the obstacles didn’t stop there. He had to put in and remove the LS3 V-8 engine so many times he can’t even remember, making sure the E30 M3’s various components would clear the sheet metal and one another. Even more engineer work was on the way soon thereafter, as Byrd added a 2x2-inch box to the front frame and rear crossmember for increased stiffness, a four-point roll cage, self-fabricated custom headers, engine-bay braces, a revised carbon-fiber hood, and finally a custom oil pan that turned out to be “way too much work just to hold oil.” Next were the 18-inch wheels and Brembo brakes. He then blasted, sealed, and primed the E30 M3 for painting.
Somewhere between hobby, passion, and raving obsession, the art of hot rodding is all about bringing the seemingly impossible into reality. Don’t worry, though, Byrd loves to drive his creation, too. He piloted his bizarro German-American E30 M3 monster on the Hot Rod Power Tour in 2013, and convinced more than a few doubters that his pet project was the real deal.
Got any of your own dastardly automotive fantasies? Share them in the comments below, we can’t wait to see what you come up with.