The E30 M3 community is one of only a few degrees of separation. Back in 2018, a friend of mine, Keith Pomeroy, sent me a link to a 1988 M3 for sale. It was local to Colorado (Pomeroy was not), and he wanted me to check it out. There wasn’t much to see, as it was basically a roller chassis that had been stripped and prepped with a full cage for racing. I happened to know the seller—proving how connected the E30 M3 community really is. The seller was an old-school E30 M3 head who was thinning his decades of E30 M3s and associated parts hoard, (I eventually took the whole lot back to my hangar, where it still sits.)
The beauty of this M3 was that it was already stripped of its drivetrain, interior, wheels, trim, and virtually all of the other M3 bits. As such, it would not be a travesty to build it into something slightly different than stock. Perhaps vastly is a better word. Pomeroy and I met through the E30 forums back in the good ol’ days, and connected on our love for E30s and flying. He is a certified Airframe and Powerplant mechanic, who restored and owns a Cessna 150 Aerobat. He builds rocket motors for his day job. As such, he had a very particular vision for the E30 M3 and wanted my shop to build it. The mission was a street-legal race car that was as uncompromised as possible—i.e., purposeful!
First and foremost, it had to be black. Not Diamond Schwarz Metallic, like a normal E30 M3, but Jet Black like the Sport Evo E30 M3. To continue the Sport Evo theme, the bumpers needed to have Brilliantrot trim, and the cage had to match. If that wasn’t sinister enough, the seats, wheels, and a bare black interior also needed to match. Black and red it was, like K.I.T.T. from Night Rider or the A-Team van, but although from the same era, neither could hold a candle to this E30 M3. It took over a year to get the paintwork done. Painter Steve Cambier deserves a big shot out for contorting himself into the car to paint the roll cage. In the act of painting it, all of the seals, gaskets, and trim clips were replaced. The front bumper was fitted with an Evo M3 front lip and a replica Evo rear spoiler with a carbon fiber gurney flap.
The treatment under the hood was no different. The engine of choice was an S54B32 and a Getrag 420G six-speed gearbox out of an E46 M3. Engine management was handled by Kassel Performance. The shifter was a tunnel-mounted IRP V3 short shifter. We chose a 3:46 limited-slip differential that I sourced from the R3VLimited forums on an overnight work engagement in Connecticut. The suspension was a Ground Control five-lug setup with an Eibach Pro sway bar kit and front and rear camber adjustments. Pomeroy had a great relationship with Condor Performance, so all bushings were replaced with Condor products. Braking was handled by Wilwood E36 big brakes over seventeen-inch Apex Arc-8 wheels—finished in no other color than gloss black.
Besides the herculean act of finishing an in-place race car cage in Brilliantrot, the interior was relatively simple. We went with an OEM crack-free dashboard with an 8,000-rpm tachometer and shift lights on the steering console. We added a small diameter M Tech II steering wheel (the best E30 steering wheel) to keep it true to its roots. The dashboard has an aviation-themed custom center panel with analog gauges, toggle switches, and warning lights. For seats, Pomeroy chose black cloth Recaro Speed seats with red logos and period-correct Hooker harnesses. The latter matched the aerobatic harnesses in his Cessna 150 Aerobat. The rest of the interior is exposed and raw, with no added weight (or comfort) from heat or air conditioning.
It took two years to finish the car, and as with any project build, the last ten percent of the build was 90 percent of the work. Untold hours and dollars were spent acquiring and installing E30 M3-specific trim clips, seals, and other small bits to take the bare shell of the original racecar to a completed vehicle. After finishing and final tuning, we took it to our local track, High Plains Raceway, and tested it against my M coupe as a reference. It was Pomeroy’s first drive with the car, so he didn’t push it too hard; I also took a few laps. The performance was impressive, despite wearing street tires. The E30 chassis is called God’s Chariot because it is so wonderfully communicative. Like a well-behaved Yellow Lab, it was just happy to please. It did everything I asked with none of the misbehaving tendencies of the tail-happy Z3 M coupe.
We spent the next few months doing more finishing work, then put it up against a 993 3.6-liter-swapped Porsche 911SC with a similar minimalist build. We didn’t have a track at our disposal, but they were nearly equally matched out on the open roads despite being vastly different. The E30 M3 was significantly more composed under cornering and generally easier to drive, while the 911SC was lighter and more agile if driven properly. The net result would likely have been even lap times on the track due to being able to push the E30 M3 closer to the limit. The air-cooled 3.6-liter engine had more low-end torque, but the S54 pulled on it once the revs crested 4,000, and the E30 M3 kept pulling where the 911SC had to lift for a shift. In a drag race, the 911SC beat the E30 M3 off the line but was reeled in by third gear. They were virtually tied every time.
After thorough vetting and testing, the E30 M3 was shipped to the Space Coast of Florida, where Pomeroy lives. Staying true to his build, over the years, Pomeroy has walked the walk, doing the occasional track day and even daily driving the car at times in the Florida heat with no air conditioning and an ear-piercingly loud exhaust. A predominantly black wardrobe probably didn’t help keep him cool, either! His E30 M3 is a well-known car in the Florida E30 community. Pomeroy says it tends to aggravate everyone equally, being too nice for a pure race car and too modified for the purist crowd. Yet, it is always well-received for having the audacity to build it so purposefully. Ultimately, Pomeroy doesn’t care what anyone thinks; he had a vision for his dream car and had us build it to suit. And unlike a lot of dream cars, he uses and enjoys it—what more could an enthusiast ask for?—Alex McCulloch
[Photos courtesy of Florida E30s, Peter Thompson.]