Classic BMW Gets Tesla Power & Performance


Published on September 11th, 2020 |
by Jo Borrás

September 11th, 2020 by  

The classic BMW E30 3 series has been called the perfect drivers’ car by many enthusiasts over the years — and, if you ever spend some time behind the wheel of one, I’m sure you’ll find one or two reasons to agree. It’s hard to argue against the cars’ dynamic merits, but it’s very easy to spot where the cars are dated. That’s especially true when you look under the hood of a BMW E30 … but notably not true when you look under the hood of Jon Volk’s BMW E30. That’s because what’s under Jon’s hood looks like this:

That’s right, kids. Under the 30+ year-old clamshell hood of that BMW convertible are a pair 400-volt DC lithium-ion battery packs from a Chevy Volt EV. They send power to a single electric drive unit from a Tesla Model S P85. The combination is good for more than 400 HP and gobs of torque available from 0 RPM.

The result is a tire-shredding performance machine that updates the classic BMW driving experience while removing harmful emissions and adding modern tech and — more importantly — modern power. “To best describe it,” Jon told the BMW Blog, “(is that) you’ll never miss a yellow light again.”

There’s more to this particular swap than bigger batteries and more power, though. A Quaife limited-slip differential helps keep the rear end hooked, while a set of high-performance Koni Yellow shocks, new camber plates, and Ireland Engineering coilover struts help to ensure that this Ultimate Driving Machine lives up to the hype of not just old marketing campaigns, but hipster-fueled Gen-X nostalgia, as well.

Not bad for a classic car that fuels up this easily …

… but maybe that’s just the tainted, rose-colored memories of my own E30 slipping in. I had the 2.7 liter “eta” version 325 with an automatic transmission, and it was glorious. I mean, until I picked up a girl I was dating and she said, “I thought you had a BMW … like, a nice one.” So, that was bad.

Maybe that’s enough talk about my BMW memories — what about yours? Do you have enough love for the old E30 that something like this makes sense to you, or would you rather jam some other classic car full of modern Tesla power?  Watch this excellent video of Jon’s car, put together by the guys at The Drive, and see if he can’t make you fall for his BMW as easily as he made me fall for it — and let us know what you thought of it in the comments. Enjoy!

Tesla Power + Classic BMW E30

Source | Images: John Volk on the BMW Blog, via The Drive. 


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About the Author

I’ve been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and have been a part of the Important Media Network since 2008. You can find me here, working on my Volvo fansite, riding a motorcycle around Chicago, or chasing my kids around Oak Park.