Henna E30 AZ Commission

Henna E30 Restoration

I remember getting a phone call from a gentleman named Tyler one afternoon in 2016 inquiring about my Henna car that I built years ago. To my surprise, he was the owner of a 1984 Henna E30 coupe. We talked for about an hour going over his car and what he wanted to do with it. With a million questions back and forth, I suggested that we put together a restoration proposal like we often do here at CAtuned. In the weeks that followed, we compiled a nice spreadsheet and chain of emails that showed exactly what we wanted to do and we both agreed to move forward. The first step was to get the car to us.

Tyler’s 1984 Henna E30 Coupe was shipped from Anthem, AZ, to us in Sacramento. Upon the first look in person, we decided it required everything inside and out, which is no real surprise considering the vehicle was over twenty years old. It had seen a lot of miles as well as daily A to B driving.



We started out by stripping the car down to the bare bones and repairing what rust we had found. We then trailered it over to 2M Autowerks in San Diego, CA.  (http://www.2mautowerks.com/) The experts there went to work to sand down the cars worn paint and fix all of the dents to make sure the car looked better then new when it came out of the paint booth. Prep is everything, and we can definitely say that this PPG paint job came out fantastic! Pictures don’t do it justice.


What sets this restoration apart from the many E30’s you see on the internet or in person? Well, it’s everything. The fine details, the many hours spent in replacing every clip, loads of new bolts and moldings, and months of searching for the rare parts. It took us 6 months to find the Mtech1 kit. The Mtech door sills are nla now. The custom touches are everywhere you look. We have been doing restorations like this since August of 2002 and it really does feel like with every build things keep getting better and better. We are fortunate to be able to do what we love and have trusting clients that give us that freedom.

When it came to the motor for Tyler’s Henna car, we decided against a swap and instead focused on a late model M20 2.5 inline 6. The M20 motor is bullet proof and has loads of potential. You just have to know what to focus on. So we did a stroker motor and used all late model components. We’ve improved the “from the factory” design by polishing the ports on the head and upgrading what we could to gain the most out of the engine such as a Gates racing belt, all new hardware, water pump, thermostat, etc.. There was nothing left over from the old setup. We finished off with a custom Mtechnic valve cover along with a nicely matched intake manifold. Both were re-finished by the artists at Renewed Finishes. (Renewed Finishes FB Page) For power, we choose long tube headers to start with, which were then followed up with Vibrant Performance Vbands, full stainless 2.5″ piping, a brand new catalytic converter and Vibrant muffler. The sound came out amazing. To really top things off, we wanted a quick throttle response and we knew exactly what had to be done. We went with the Miller Performance Induction Kit along with their plug in chip; we have done this setup in many cars over the years and we have never regretted it. It really does sound amazing. (Follow this link to order your own setup: Induction kit for the E30 / also available for other BMW applications)


To keep things cool, we went with the CSF Upgraded E36 radiator and an all new CSF M20 Oil Cooler, which is a direct replacement unit and uses factory mounting brackets for a direct fit. You can, however, use AN lines if you choose too. We finished everything off with our late model silicone hoses that are sure to last for years to come.


With everything that was being done to the car, we didn’t want to leave the brakes and suspension to chance. So we stripped everything off the car and a brand new 3M undercoating went on. Next on the list were our Street Poly subframe mounts, trailing arms and stainless steel brake lines. We upgraded the front brakes to our Stage 3 kit (Stage 3 brake kit) with matching rear slotted rotors and ceramic pads. The braking improvement is amazing and the car now stops on a dime. We also installed our Street Performance Coilovers , and steering was improved with a rebuilt Z3 power steering rack and our Motorsport steering flex coupler.  You could take this car on a track and it would do wonders.


With the mechanical aspects of the car handled, we turned our attention to the interior. Having the glass already out for the body work and paint meant it was the perfect time to re-do the headliner. We do a lot of headliners here at CAtuned and this one would be no exception. We installed a simple yet beautiful black cloth headliner that helped to round out the interior. (You can get the material here). We also installed a custom set of Recaro seats with matching rear seat and door panels from our contact in Poland. From there, we turned to our friends and experts at Bavarian Restoration to have the cluster fully rebuilt and customized for us making it a true piece of art. The dash was also replaced with a good crack free unit. After the carpet was disinfected, cleaned and dyed black, we installed our Motorsport Floor mats. All of the stereo components have been upgraded with new wiring, hidden amp setup, and brand new speakers that are all finished off with a Alpine deck. We were also lucky enough to be able to find one of the last Mtech door sills to really set this interior apart.


Special thanks to: YouTube.com/blakesgarage Filmed & edited by Blake’s Garage (@blakesgarage)

Here are some photos of the car in finished form. Enjoy!


Build sheet

1984 BMW 325e

  • Painted Euro bumpers front & rear
  • Mtech1 BMW kit
  • Custom ABS front splitter
  • CAtuned Motorsport door handles
  • CAtuned shorty antenna kit
  • CAtuned Euro Grilles
  • Fresh Euro Smiley headlights, reflectors & Fog lights
  • Shadowline trim
  • All new Henna Red paint done by 2M Autowerks in San Diego, CA


  • CAtuned stage 3 late model i motor stroked to 3.0
  • Miller Maf Conversion
  • CAtuned rebuilt i injectors
  • Powdercoated intake manifold & custom M Technic valve cover
  • CSF Performance Radiator &  Oil Cooler
  • Bavarian Restoration ground cables
  • CAtuned late model cooling hoses
  • Late model i engine wiring conversion
  • Walbro fuel pump upgrade with all new fuel lines
  • CAtuned Stage 3 front BBK kit w/ matching rear rotors & pads
  • CAtuned Chromoly axles
  • CAtuned front & rear stainless steel brake lines
  • CAtuned stainless steel clutch line
  • CAtuned rear poly trailing arm bushings & subframe mounts
  • CAtuned Street Performance Coilovers
  • Re-conditioned 4.10 LSD
  • CAtuned Steering flex coupler
  • Rebuilt z3 power steering rack
  • B&M short shifter
  • Revshift poly engine & transmission mounts
  • UUC Strut tower brace
  • Full Vibrant V-bands, piping and muffler. Flowmaster 50 state Catalytic converter & Exhaust tips


  • Custom upholstered Recaro seats with matching rear seat and door panels in 100% leather & seat heaters
  • CAtuned Motorsport floor mats
  • CAtuned Black Headliner
  • Bavarian Restoration restored & customized gauge cluster
  • Crack free dash
  • 370mm Leather wrapped Mtech1 steering wheel
  • Zhp BMW weighted shift knob
  • M Stitching leather shift boots
  • M Technic door sills
  • Custom pedal covers
  • All new speaker wiring, speakers, and Alpine head unit

Wheels & Hardware

  • Rotiform Cast RSE 17×8 & 17×9 w/ 30 offset front & rear
  • Motorsport Hardware Wheels Studs
  • Motorsport Hardware 8mm spacers front & rear
  • Toyo tires: Extensa 205/40/17 & 215/45/17


Owner info & Interview

  • Name:   Tyler Cottam
  • Address:   Anthem, AZ
  • Age:   42
  • What do you do for a living?  United Airlines Pilot
  • What was your first car?    Actually, this 1984 BMW 325e was my first car.
  • What model(s) of BMW do you own (including this car)?    This is the only BMW I have ever owned.
  • How long have you been interested in BMWs? What makes BMWs so special to you?
My fascination with BMW began when I was young.  My dad loved driving German cars and enjoyed watching German motorsport.  As a result, I have always been a fan of BMW.  I think BMW is special because of it’s strong racing heritage.  I see this heritage reflected in their vehicles in the way they handle and perform.
  • First BMW and why did you buy that particular model?
So this 1984 325e was the first BMW I owned.  It was originally purchased by my dad in 1984 from the BMW dealer.  BMWs were stylish, made to last, and definitely unique.  Plus this eta model got great gas mileage, which in 1984 was a huge benefit.  He drove it for a short time before giving it to me to drive when I was in high school.
  • Where did you find the car? What condition was it in?
My dad bought this BMW right off the dealer floor in 1984.  I think it was love at first sight!  The car has always been maintained to the highest standards and for its age, most considered it to be in really good condition.  Over the years, however, some things just can’t be prevented.  After 30+ years, the fabric upholstery was fragile.  The single stage paint looked good for its age, but had uniformly faded and had lost its luster.  The motor, having been rebuilt several times, had truly come to the end of its life.  So it was time to do something with it.
  • What was your goal or though in building this car?
It was bought new in 1984 to be used as a daily driver and since this car has been in the family since then, it was now at the point where I had to do something with it.  Instead of going out and buying a new one, which was the easy road, why not do something special and give it a renewed life?  These cars truly are unique and I felt turning this one into something special was the right direction to go.  So my thought for this car was this: If BMW decided to make the E30 again today, what would they do?  The answer was essentially upgrade everything.  Upgraded M20 motor. Upgraded suspension and brakes.  Better handling all around.  Make it perform and handle close to a track car, yet still comfortable as a daily driver.  The quality and comfort of the interior is what you would expect from a modern BMW.  I think it all came together really well.
  • What were your thoughts behind the choice of wheels? Did you consider any other wheel? 
As far as wheels, originally I had decided on another set of 16×9 rears with 16×8 fronts.  They looked great, however we ran into mounting issues.  I could either keep those wheels and rework the brakes, or change wheels.  I decided to change wheels. It was the easiest option for fitment.  I actually noticed the wheels I chose on another car.  We put them on to test how they fit and looked, as they were now 17s.  They were perfect and it was meant to be.  They mounted without issue.  No brake adjustments were needed and they didn’t rub anywhere.  Plus they looked great!  They combined modern looks with the old basketweave style.
  • How did you decide on what styling to have for the car? Who did it and how long did it take to do – any problems?
For the exterior styling, I wanted to take this car back to it’s European roots.  So I did this with a new Mtech1 kit sourced in Europe, European grilles, and European bumpers.  I went with the yellow front lights to give it that European racing look as well.  The wheels give it that sporty look yet retained a basket weave style reminiscent of the past.  Henna red is a unique color since it was an option only in 1984.  I decided to repaint it in the original color to keep it unique.  There weren’t really any problems and it came together as smoothly as could be expected.  As part of the whole process, it took exactly one year.
  • How did you decide on what style of interior to go for? Who did it and how long did it take to do – any problems?
For the interior, I wanted to keep it period correct and OEM+.  It’s all leather with heated Recaro seats and white wide stitching made in Poland.  It was then shipped to the U.S.  The custom gauge cluster reflects the upgraded engine with red needles, a reverse tach strip, and black chrome gauge rings.  It has the smaller, and rare, 370mm Mtech1 steering wheel.  It originally came with an Alpine radio, so I put in a new bluetooth hands-free Alpine.  Again, there weren’t any problems to speak of and the whole process, it took exactly one year.
  • What’s your favorite modification on the car and why?
Honestly, I do not have a favorite.  I really love everything that’s been done to it.  Everything looks an feels great.
  • How long did it take you to build the car?
From the time the car was shipped out to the time it shipped back to my home was within days of being exactly one year.
  • If money were no object what mods would you have done?
I think I did just about everything to the car that could have been done and still keep it period correct.  I can’t think of anything left to do.
  • Any more plans for the car?
Not right now.
  • What will your next car be?
Porsche GT3
  • Thanks:
Of course my wife for being onboard from the start.  She likes cars too so she was supportive from the beginning.  I am the first to admit that I’m not a mechanic, so this could not have been accomplished without the help of Igor at CAtuned Motorsports.  I knew what I wanted to do with the car, but without Igor’s help, I would not have known how or where to start.  He listened to where I wanted to go with the project and he put together a plan.  Throughout the process he was instrumental in sourcing the needed parts and making this happen.  Igor’s experience really paid off and shows in the finished product.  Also, I think Bavarian Restoration did a great job on the gauge cluster.  It fits perfectly with the rest of the interior, which is beautiful.  The fresh henna red paint by 2M Autowerks really came out nice as well.


CAtuned: We are truly honored to have worked on this car & to see it transform into a work of art. The entire CAtuned team thanks you! Igor, Ivan, Dima, Marek, Alex, and Tony!


Photos & Words: Igor Polishchuk

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