DRIVEN: M44 E30 RALLY BMW + VIDEO
28 January 2015 | Story & photos: RaceMasteR J
you’re into local rallying at all, you would have certainly
heard of the annual Fix-A-Smash All Tar Rally held at Killarney
Raceway. It’s one of the most exciting events to watch,
and even better to participate in. Even though I haven’t
raced in it yet, I’ve heard from multiple people who have,
and the unanimous conclusion is that it’s heaps of fun…
and a car breaker of note!
Like the name says, All Tar, it’s not on gravel and its
basically held not only on certain sections of the track, but
on many side and service roads, pit lanes and basically where
ever you can find a piece of tar, that’s where they’ll
be racing! It’s a specific type of driving style which
is not always suited to everyone. It requires a lot of precision,
finesse and skill. Weight transfer is everything. You fly through
high speed chicanes with poles, buildings and barriers all around
you all the time. It’s one massive super special rally
stage. What’s not to love about that?!
If you’ve ever been to the event you would of definitely
seen the title sponsors (Fix-A-Smash) own car, a little E30
BMW 3 series piloted by Rishay Moodley. I was very much impressed
with the car/driver’s performance at the 2014 event. It’s
not a highly powerful car only running with a 318is motor. Specifically
the M44 E36 shape 318is, which is actually a 1.9 liter.
It competes with the very best of the best and that got me thinking
that I should investigate further, hence the reason for this
article. Chatting with Rishay, he gave us the history of the
car. It was originally built back in 1991 as a full spec rally
car. Wow! That’s like taking a brand new F30 model 3 series
and turning it into a rally car. So this car was something very
special back in the day. It was built by local legendary car
builder, the late Owen Ashley and rallied by local rally outfit
A few years later the car was sold to Rishay’s dad, who
was also a passionate rally driver at the time and rallied the
car for a few years until a mechanical failure set in which
eventually saw the car retire to the back of the Fix-A-Smash
workshop for about 10 years.
When Rishay became of legal age to drive, he took a keen interest
in the dusty E30 which lay in his dad’s workshop. And
with Mr. Moodley senior wanting to get involved with more events
like the All Tar Rally, it was high time to make a plan to get
the little E30 to its former glory once more.
Research was done on what motor to fit into it and they even
considered installing a V8 from the 540i. But common sense kicked
in and wanting to participate in rally events rather than drift
ones, the M44 motor from a 318is E36 was chosen and installed.
A few tweaks were made here and there like a performance cam
and old school Webber 45 side draughts. Interesting combination,
but one that works!
Besides a full rally spec roll cage, the car is stripped out
to the max making it much lighter than standard. A custom E30
M3 style wide body kit was installed giving the car a much meaner
stance. Normal steel rear quarter panels combined with fiberglass
front fenders and bumpers make this car even lighter.
Rishay recently fitted a new spring setup to the Bilstein shocks
and 5 link rear suspension which is coupled to racing semi slick
tyres, a 6 speed E36 M3 gearbox and a Toyota LSD differential.
So far the recipe seems to work. Not a lot of power in a very
light and agile chassis. It does pretty well at the All Tar
event but what’s it like to drive? Well today I was fortunate
enough to drive this machine and I have to say I’m impressed!
On first impression it is what it is, a race car. So comfort
is not to be expected. It’s bare and stripped out. It
doesn’t even have a dash, just the essential dials and
switches that are needed.
Sitting in the driver’s seat I was greeted by an old school
4 spoke BMW steering wheel. It reminded me how old this car
actually is. Personally I would prefer a 3 spoke deep dish Sabelt
wheel or something, but that’s just me.
On the left we have the 6 speed M3 gearbox gear lever followed
very closely by what I like to call a disco stick - the hydraulic
hand brake, because when you pull it, the party starts! After
strapping myself into the bucket seat with the 1st Race harness,
it was time to “push the (start) button”.
I press the clutch to make sure the car is in neutral, push
the start button and the M44 fires into life. The first thing
I notice is the accelerator is very stiff. I squeeze the pedal
and the car revs with ease. It’s loud! There’s no
sound deadening at all and it’s all very rough. I feel
all sorts of vibrations going up my back through the seat. It’s
a race car and it’s not shy to let you know it.
I engage first gear and start to make my way down the road.
The second thing I notice is the clutch, the button clutch.
It’s either on, or off. Nothing in between. A bit of a
jerk and off we go. I cruise at first, obviously, just to get
a feel for the car, how it reacts, what the brakes feel like,
steering sensitivity, engine under load etc.
I come to the end of the dead end and make a u-turn. Rishay
tells me to go for it and I happily obliged. Floor it! First
gear is very short, the revs hit close to cut out before I know
it. Second gear is a little longer and I now start to feel the
car’s M44 engine and 45 Webber sides roaaarrrr like Katy
Perry! This is getting exciting! Its loud, it’s rough
and bumpy, but its fast and I love it! I don’t show it,
but inside I’m smiling from ear to ear. At the back of
my mind I’m thinking don’t overdo it, it’s
not your car, concentrate! I try, but it’s happening all
so fast. 5th Gear… wait, what? Yes, I went from 2nd into
5th. The gearbox is very close, and I found out the hard way.
Find 3rd gear and off we go again. The car continues to rev
and scream in delight and I can’t get enough of it. 4th
gear, I’m starting to pick up decent speed now, 5th gear,
I continue to be brave and keep my foot stuck down into the
floor. And then I have to slow down. We reach the end of the
road once again, u-turn and off I go again and again. But alas
I cannot do this all day long in someone else’s car. I
have to give the keys back now.
Even though I never took the car anywhere near its limit, my
limited time behind the steering wheel gave me a good taste
of what this car must be like to race around at the All Tar
Rally! It’s perfectly set up for it. It reminds me of
a Toyota 86 in a way. Not the most powerful car, but so much
fun to drive!
Check out the video above and the full gallery below.