We’ve talked before about the cars we’d build given the time, space and unlimited financial muscle (click through to give it a read if you’ve yet to), so now it’s time to come back down to earth by looking at the stuff we’re currently driving, building…or in many cases, telling ourselves we’re on the cusp of building! So without further ado, these are Retropower’s real world projects (or at least the cherry picked highlights), beginning with co-company director Callum Seviour.
BMW E30 Touring
BMWs are a constant theme amongst those on the Retropower payroll and Callum is no exception. He’s currently the custodian of both an E30 Touring, a car that’s built and sees semi-regular usage when the weather allows, and the E36 Coupe you see below.
The E30 was bought some years ago when Callum realised that they were only ever going to go up in value, the car itself being something of a bargain – though at the time it was merely a humble 318i.
“I actually prefer the Touring bodyshell to the saloon, at least the ‘regular,’ non-M3 saloons,” explains Callum. “I also wanted something fast and practical, a car capable of carrying the kids, bulky loads and other ‘stuff’ while still being a fun thing to drive through B-roads.”
The power element of that equation comes from an M42 B18 four cylinder, albeit one now fed through Jenvey Individual Throttle Bodies and controlled through a DTA S60 ECU. The DTA setup allows for coil-on-plug, sequential ignition, with a subsequent power output of 160bhp at the wheels.
The E30 is also partway through an interior re-trim, with the Sport front seats and rear bench due to be coated in a mix of Bentley Beluga leather for the centre, and, for the bolsters and sides, VW Golf GTD cloth. These will ultimately boast French stitching in blue and red, with an Alcantara headlining ‘up top.’
“I guess it’s in the middle of a light restoration at this point in time – the interior needs to be finalised and the shell will be getting repainted in a fresh coat of Brilliant Red before it’s ready to see the road again.”
BMW E36 Track Car
The E36 is a whole other kettle of fish, a project in its early (and we mean very, very early) stages. You don’t need us to tell you that decent, non-drifted E36 Coupes are in short supply nowadays, so when this example cropped up for a reasonable sum some years ago, well, it proved too choice an opportunity to overlook.
“This is being built as a dedicated track car, pure and simple. I’m planning on stripping out all unnecessary weight from the interior – it really will be a very spartan car when I’m finished. I genuinely can’t think of many more suitable bases for a track car than an E36; it’s front engined and rear-wheel drive, its shell is fairly stiff in factory form – and will be even more so once I’ve fitted a roll-cage.”
Originally a 325-engined car, the E36 will be substantially ‘up-gunned’ before it’s released onto the unsuspecting circuits of the world, with the engines potentially in the frame being the V10 from E60 shape M5 or, sticking with Retropower traction, an LS7 crate motor. The choice of engine will obviously dictate the transmission eventually used, with either a Tremec or M-Series gearbox in the frame.
One of the most striking things about this particular E36 is its colour, a deep, champagne-esque gold the like of which you simply don’t see on modern cars – which is why it will be staying. It will eventually form the basis for a race inspired livery of some description which in itself reduced the potential candidates considerably. Put simply, there aren’t a great many well known gold liveries.
“I’ve yet to decide on how it will eventually look but am toying with the idea of making a homage to the ‘Miller High Life’ beer livery found on a number of US race cars, including a well-known Group C Porsche 962.”
BMWs might take pride of place, but Callum’s collection is far from limited to Munich metal. A Vauxhall Royale, easily among the rarest GM cars from this era, sits outside the workshop, while at home lurk both a ’92 Honda Accord, a ’98 Honda Legend and, newly purchased, a ’74 ‘lift back’ Celica.
“The Royale Coupe is a car I’ve always liked the look off and couldn’t really turn down, not when one actually appeared for sale, all the more so when you consider it has covered just 40,000 miles from new. The Accord is just a cool winter cruiser lowered on a nice set of 14in Appliance mags from the ’70s, though I’d love to be able to turn it into a lowrider if money and time were no object, and the Legend is my incredibly comfy, incredibly reliable daily driver.”
The Celica is the most recent addition to the fleet, and there’s every chance that it could be the best example left in the UK. A classic ‘coke bottle’ car, the Celica has been in this country from new and is pretty much flawless, a condition Callum intends to maintain. At this point in time there are no plans for it to devote from standard Toyota specification, but as we all know, plans can and do change…