Turbocharged E30 1988 BMW 325

Post By: Dennis Dilag

Date: 05/15/2023

The Story

Picked this one up in barely running condition back in 2019 from Syracuse, NY. At the time, it had a poorly done respray of the factory color (Royalblau Metallic). After getting it running, I immediately did an auto-to-manual swap and lowered it on Spec E30 suspension. Shortly after purchase, I discovered it had minor floorboard rust. The dilemma was: pay someone to fix it or learn to do it myself. I bought an Eastwood 135 welder and taught myself how to cut and weld up the floors. The rear tail panel got pushed in during a minor accident back in 2020. Thankfully the damage was strictly cosmetic. I had the tail panel replaced and the whole exterior professionally painted. In the process, I converted to plastic bumpers and added all new exterior trim. I am currently prepping to be boosted by late 2023. As of May 2023, I have the car running on Megasquirt 2 Plug and Play. The engine is the 2.7L "Super ETA" Inline 6, exclusive to the 1988 model year and known for being dog sh*t slow. However it comes from the factory with the same 885 cylinder head found on the 325i, making head work a breeze. In my opinion, with a bit of head work, it's the best E30 engine for either an NA build or for boost! *****SEPTEMBER 2023 UPDATE*****: Car is finally boosted! After 4 years of gathering and hoarding parts, the build was completed over the course of 2 months. The goal was to make no cuts to the chassis and factory wiring harness, which was done 99% successfully. Basically, this entire turbo build is completely reversible if ever necessary. Currently street tuned to 14 psi. so no numbers available yet. Working on perfecting the setup before tidying up the engine bay so please don't judge harshly. Build list has been updated with as much details as possible in order to potentially help others. For any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram @s0uth.paw

Current Setup

  • Wheels: SSR SP1-R 16x7 +39 square, Bridgestone RE-71R 205/55/R16 , 20mm spacers, Garagistic Stud Conversion 90mm Length, fenders rolled
  • Suspension: H&R Race Springs, Bilstein Sport Dampeners (valve matched to springs), E90 Front Drophats, Rogue Engineering Reinforced Rear Shock Mounts
  • Suspension: Garagistic Full 80A Polyurethane Bushing Kit: raised subframe, trailing arms, differential, front control arm bushing, transmission & motor mounts, Garagistic differential stud spacer kit
  • Performance: MS2PNP Standalone ECU Turbo Setup: AFM delete using GM IAT sensor conversion, AEM 30-0300 UEGO Wideband O2 Sensor, AEM 30-0306 Boost Gauge, Wasted Spark Conversion (using DiyAutotune.com's QuadSpark Igniter and IGN-6 coil system), Ireland Engineering Ignition Wire Kit, E36 M50 Variable TPS, SSSquid Tuning Aluminum E36 TPS Adapter, Rabbit Wiring Solutions TPS and IAT Wiring Adapters, Walbro 255lph Fuel Pump, Siemans Deka FI114961 60lb Injectors
  • Performance: Custom Homebuilt 3" Full SS Turboback Exhaust System: Vibrant 1794 12" Resonator, Vibrant 1047 Streetpower Muffler, Vibrant 61006 Flex Coupling, Evil Energy 3" V-Band Clamps, eBay 3" 304 SS Mandrel-Bent Exhaust Pipe Kit. Custom muffler mounts made using Stainless Steel Flat Bar Stock and modified OE muffler brackets & rubber hangers. Whole system welded using ER308L MIG Wire and Tri-mix Shielding Gas.
  • Performance: Drivetrain: Spec Stage 3 Clutch, Lightened Factory Flywheel (16.1 lbs. vs 19.6 lbs.), LeoGrande Racing Stainless Steel Greaseable Clutch Pivot Pin, 3.73 LSD swap
  • Performance: Shifter Upgrades: BMW ZHP 5-Speed Shift Knob, Ireland Engineering Super Short Shift Kit, Ireland Engineering Dual Sheer Selector Rod, Garagistic Aluminum Round Carrier Shifter Bushing, Garagistic Rear Shifter Arm Bracket w/ Polyurethane Bushing
  • Performance: Bimmerheads Race 885 Head: 280/274 Regrind Cam, New Supertech Valves, HD Rocker Arms, HD Valve Springs, Welded Coolant Jackets, Hand Ported and Polished, Goetze OE Style Headgasket w/ Permatex Copper Spray, Stock Super ETA 2.7L Block, O-Ring'd Block using Isky Cams GRM-100 O-Ring Tool & 0.041" Stainless Steel Aircraft Safety Wire (0.011" protrusion)
  • Performance: Forced Induction Setup: Rapid Spool Industries V1 Turbo Manifold, Gen 2 Precision 5858 SP CEA Billet Wheel Ball Bearing Turbo w/ AGP Turbo T3 .82 A/R hotside, Tial MVR 44mm Wastegate (currently with 7.2 lb Springs), MAC 3-Port Electronic Boost Control Solenoid (Highly recommended. In my experience, this manifold boost creeps ~4 psi), Tial Q 50mm BOV, E30 325i Intake Swap, eBay Emusa 25"x13"x3" Universal Intercooler 2.5" Inlet/Outlet, LeoGrande Racing Intake Vacuum Manifold Distribution Block, ARP Head Studs, Gates Racing Timing Belt Kit, BMW OE Sintered Intermediate Shaft Timing Gear, -4AN Turbo Oil Feed Line, Oil Filter Sandwich Plate (for oil feed), -10AN Turbo Oil Return Line tapped to the side of the block (rather than the oil pan), Air Conditioner System Delete :(
  • Performance: Z3 "031" Steering Rack Swap: Garagistic Steering Rack Swap Kit, Garagistic Delrin Solid Steering Flex Coupler, E36 Inner and Outer Tie Rods, E36 P/S Pressure Line, Rein Fluid Reservoir
  • Interior: LeoGrande Racing Billet Aluminum Interior Door Handles
  • Exterior: Exterior Bits: European Bumper Trim, BMW Mtech 1 Rear Trunk Spoiler, BMW iS Side Skirts, BMW iS Front Lip, Z3 Antenna Conversion, European Rear Plate Filler, Adhesive Front Plate Filler, Bimmerheads Grill Emblem


Dennis Dilag

Jersey based. Employed in the automotive aftermarket. Studied, saved, and stored parts for 4 years all to finally turbo the E30 in Summer 2023. Always a work in progress. Z4M Coupe for the daily. Harley Nightster 1200 for sunny mornings. Turbocharging your E30? Check my build thread and feel free to reach out with any questions! Let's connect.