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Unread 11-02-2009, 08:58 PM
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Default Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

...or "How to build the perfect autox/track car for $2K"

Starting the build thread for this project here on Vorshlag, but it will be mirrored on several other forums. Feel free to ask questions in this thread, but PLEASE BE CONCISE and don't quote the entirety of one of my gigantic posts, or I'll trim/delete them. Thanks!

Inspiration for the look we're striving for on the Vorshlag "$2010 GRM Challenge car"

Project Update # 1 - The Project Idea + Buying the Car: So I was on the phone with our ad guy at GRM recently and we got to talking about the various GRM hosted competition events. We discussed their UTCC event (Ultimate Track Car Challenge), which Vorshlag entered in 2008, and how extreme the entries have become (a $220,000 600hp GTP car won the 2009 UTCC event). I wasn't too keen on entering that again, but then he suggested the GRM $200X Challenge. Why doesn't Vorshlag build a car? I didn't think you guys wanted "shop built" entries? Sure, as long as you follow the same budgetary rules as other teams. Hmm...

What is the GRM $2010 Challenge? A team builds a car with a budget of $2010 or less, then enters it in the Grassroots Motorsports annual event which consists of an autocross, a drag race, and a car show. Your best times in both competition events + your car show placing are factored and the winner is the team with the most points. Labor doesn't count against you so most teams use considerable fabrication, home brew engineering, and cleaver eBay buys to make for cool car concoctions. Every year the budget cap goes up by $1. Here's the 2009 rules:

The Dirt E30 Team placed 3rd at the $2009 GRM Challenge in their turbocharged, box flared E30

So... I started brainstorming some ideas with a few local gear heads and we came up with an outline that could potentially be a lot of fun: BMW E30 + V8 + wide wheels/tires/flares. We're already known for BMW's with V8 swaps, so why not do another one on the cheap? The Vorshlag LS1 powered E36 "Alpha car" also sold this week, and I already miss that car, so this E30 V8 project is a good way to begin the healing.

Honestly, I've always wanted to build a GRM $200X Challenge car, but only if it could be fast as hell. We always had some crazy fast race car around the shop until now, so the timing is finally right. This ain't going to be like 24 hours of LeMons here... we wouldn't be wearing funny costumes or dolling up the vehicle like some clown car (although some GRM Challenge teams do "get in the spirit" like this - that's just not my bag, baby). GRM has recently updated the Challenge rules to avoid tube framed cars and have even closed the "Zamboni loophole", and the teams themselves can protest other teams for BS overspending now. They also allow for a few select safety upgrades that are outside the budget, such as a 4-point roll bar, harnesses, and even new OEM brake hoses to replace the old/rotted junk.

Again, I only want to build a GRM Challenge car if it could be a legitimately fast track/auto-x car, and somehow tie-in with the Vorshlag business (maybe another V8 swap kit, based on things we learn in this project?). Hell, I'd even consider taking it to UTCC if it survives the $2010 Challenge. We already know that a lightweight BMW 3 series with a cool motor swap is fast, and with the right bits and tweaks it even handles and stops very well. We will have to build it on the cheap to meet the extremely low Challenge budget, using a lot of home built ingenuity and fabrication. That sure works for this crazy economy!

The rules/points are somewhat biased towards the autocross results, but the drag strip times and car show results are still important. We'll focus mainly on the autocross performance and get it done early enough to test the crap out of the setup. Then we will "make it light", then "make it pretty", and at some point get it to the drag strip to test the standing 1/4 miles times, too. Reliability will be a very high priority task - I hate race cars that break!

L: Cleaning underhood. R: "Uhh... we're gonna pass on this suggestion"

This array of events and skills needed to build a GRM Challenge car fits my personal background (drag racing/autocrossing/fabrication), as well as many on the talented crew of volunteers we've assembled for the Team. After our first meeting this week I'll post up the names of the Vorshlag Challenge Team and some of their backgrounds. Hell, we might even have a better team name by then.

Want to get in on the insanity? If you live in the North Dallas, TX area, think you have the talent to help build/paint/tune a V8 swapped E30, and are interested in volunteering your own blood/sweat/tears into this harebrained project, please drop me a PM. This is a purely volunteer effort, and this project won't be worked on by any paid Vorshlag employees. Our first team meeting is Thursday Nov 5th, 2009, @ 7 pm here at the Vorshlag World Headquarters (ha!), in the north Dallas area. We're going to meet to work on the car regularly on Thursday nights 2-4 times a month, and at least one Saturday a month. As an added incentive, we will hold a driver's shootout in the E30 among the active team builders at the time of its completion, to find the GRM event auto-x driver. Only team members that have "put in the hours" are eligible for the driver's shootout. Or if your name is "Lewis Hamilton".

Here's the rust-free $500 Craigslist find we are starting with:

L: McCall, Amy and I looked at and paid for the car in the dark (never smart). R: We dragged the car to the shop the next morning

Its a 1986 BMW 325 coupe that doesn't quite run (fuel leak and dead battery), which looks a little raggedy, but has a partially restored interior with new carpet, seats, door panels, even a new dash. That's a lot of work, and it looks so nice that we're leaving much of the interior in place - which was not what we had intended to do. We were going to gut the car to the bone to get the lightest weight possible, but now we might leave it semi-street worthy, unlike the Alpha car. The stock 2.5L motor and 5-spd will be sold off to recoup some room in the budget, and we've already had some interest in that. This little gem was located about 8 miles away (sometimes you get damn lucky on CraigsList!), and team member, long-time Vorshlag Tester, and Z3M-LS1 builder Jason McCall and I dragged it to the Vorshlag shop using his truck and trailer.

L: We lucked out with this pristine/restored interior and cool seats. R: McCall fixing the hood release cable (so we could finally see the engine!)

L: Much of the car is disassembled. R: It cleaned up OK, but the paint is totally fried and the body is banged up

In the next thread update I will detail the drivetrain choices we're looking at using in the E30. Its not going to be the typical V8 we're known for here at Vorshlag, as the $2010 budget does not allow for an LS1 swap, not even close. Instead we're looking at lower cost V8 motors from 1990's sports/luxury cars. Don't try to guess what we'll use, because we don't even know for sure yet, but the 3 potential engine choices we've narrowed it down to are all very cool engines. I will also explain some of the other non-V8 motor choices and cars we explored, but dropped, and why. Just wait for Project Update #2, later this week.

Last edited by Fair!; 11-03-2009 at 12:54 PM.
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