The story of the E30GTR. 

The E30GTR project in its most basic form is a BNR32 Nissan Skyline GT-R drive train transplanted into a 1987 BMW 325is. Conceived in late fall 2006, the E30GTR project is the brainchild of Christian Newman and is, in essence, a direct result un-channeled energy, creativity and time coupled with an underlying theme of individuality.

In late 2005, Christian sold his 1991 240SX/Skyline GTR project (more info here) to a slightly outlandish skyline-owning British National living nearby in Albany, NY.  He had come to the conclusion that he was no longer interested in “major projects”, choosing instead to purchase a gorgeous, lightly used 2005 Ardent Red Lotus Elise.  Disillusioned, it seemed that he had fallen into the same trap that many fall into as they approach their mid-twenties.  As he became inundated with more and more “adult responsibilities” he felt less and less interested in devoting his free time to laying in the dirt and grease on the garage floor and more interested in driving.

Or so he thought.

After only a few brief winter months of ownership he purchased a Hass Proturbo Kit for the Elise.  It was clear that the idea of simply driving the car was not enough.  Like it or not, working on cars was in his blood.  This was a compromise between his normal “scratch-built do-it-yourself” methodology and leaving the car in stock form.

Unfortunately, the turbo Lotus mini-project was a failure.  The aftermarket engine management hardware that came with the kit (Greddy e-Manage) interacted very poorly with the stock engine control unit.  Tuning problems held the car back from ever seeing any street time.  The turbo kit was hastily removed only hours before hitting the road for a spring 2006 Carlisle, PA auto show.

Once again disheartened, Christian once again vowed to enjoy his vehicles in (mostly) stock form.  As the summer wore on and as Christian attended auto shows and meet after meet the “mod-bug”, as it were, began creeping back.  Having a stock car just wasn’t enough.  “Anyone with money can buy a car”, he states.  “Compliments about my Lotus really meant nothing to me.  Sure, it’s a gorgeous, fun car, but my only real investment in it is monetary.  I can’t feel proud of it.  I am not the type of person who wants anything physical to define me; especially a car.  I want to create something that embodies who I am.”  Sounding mildly clichéd, he continues “I don’t want to drive something that anyone with some expendable income can obtain.  I want to drive a physical manifestation of who I am.  I want to embody my personality, time and creativity into a vehicle.”

“I want to define the car.”

As autumn approached a sequence of events, fueled by the burning desire to create, set the project in motion.  The purchaser of his 240SX project had fallen upon hard times and after nearly a year, still owed a substantial portion of the payment.  This gentleman had in his possession a running RB26DETT engine and transmission – an engine that Christian was very familiar with.  In lieu of money, the drive train was accepted.  The creative wheels had begun to turn.  With the power plant selected, it was now simply a matter of finding a chassis to put it in.

The criteria were few.  The car had to be rear wheel drive and cheap, with substantial aftermarket support.  The final constraint was that the chassis/motor combination was (to the best of his knowledge) completely original.

A few cars were considered: Datsun 510s, Toyota AE86s, Supras and even a 3rd generation Camaro.  Some of these combinations had been done, some were difficult to find cheaply.  Some were simply unappealing.

Out of the blue, the perfect chassis became available.  An engineless 1987 BWM 325is was offered up for sale on a local automotive enthusiast’s forum.  $400 later, the project was underway.

“My initial plan was to swap it, paint it and drive it.  Maybe even flip it to make a quick buck.  That was winter ’06” Christian laments sarcastically.  “If I only knew then what I know now”