Anytime you modify a vehicle as iconic as an E30 BMW M3, it’s a risky proposition. Nothing triggers purists more than messing with the formula they love, but we suspect this special build from Manhart Classic Cars may garner respect from all corners of the enthusiast realm. This is the MH3 3.5 Turbo, in which 3.5 references the engine displacement.
That’s right E30 fans, the beloved high-revving four-pot is yanked in favor of a larger inline-six, but it’s not a new engine. A classic car deserves a classic mill, and this is the boosted 3.5-liter I6 from the Alpina B7 S Turbo. That takes us back to the E12-era BMW 5 Series, and Manhart doesn’t simply do an engine swap. Unspecified mods to the turbo and intercooler are accompanied by a Manhart exhaust system, leading to 405 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. It goes to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission.
Speaking of the wheels, they are considerably larger versus those from the standard E30. Manhart adds double-spoke six-star rims in matte black, measuring 19 inches front and back. Behind them are upgraded Brembo front brakes with four-piston calipers and 13-inch discs. In a nod to the E30 M3’s stock performance, the rear brakes are untouched save for cross-drilled rotors. H&R coilover suspension adds a bit more low to the package.
Appearance-wise, Manhart keeps things relatively subtle. A front splitter and a tweaked rear spoiler are the notable body changes, with the appearance essentially mimicking the E30 M3 Evo. A rather sinister matte green wrap covers the exterior, with blacked-out taillights and corner lamps adding to the murdered-out look. And of course there’s red trim – you can’t have a 1980s homage without it and that goes for the interior, which is finished almost entirely in red leather. The dash and center console are black, the shift stalk is wood, and a digital data display relays vital info to the driver.
Manhart makes no mention of price for its retrotastic MH3 3.5 Turbo. Considering E30 M3 prices are in the six-figure range, nabbing a neat restomod like this won’t be cheap.