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BMW Group 5 E21 homage

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  • BMW Group 5 E21 homage

    Sorry Neil, I'd forgotten that I hadn't posted anything about the BMW project here.

    Probably better to start with a bit of a recap to set the scene of this madness. Here is something I posted on the Elan-Motorsport facebook blog with the aid of some Chardonnay a few weeks back before the World went completely mad.

    A bit of a recap (15th March 2020)

    Geebers, just realised that I'm 7 years into this and now have over 8000 followers of this silly personal fabrication journey in my shed in New Zealand.

    So how did it start and what is the end goal?

    Well as a family, we have been into BMW's since the early 80's - first one was an Inka Orange 1976 E21 320/4. Left quite a lasting impression after a diet of Fords, Holdens and Datsuns. When I pulled the M10 4 cylinder engine to bits, I discovered it had massive ports, a beautiful crank, rods and pistons and it became quite evident why it felt happiest above 4000 rpm. The same M10 engine was developed into a 16v 300 hp F2 engine and ultimately turbocharged to produce 1300hp in Brabham F1 M12/7 guise.

    We kind of went as far as we could with the boys in karting and then realised that we didn't have a spare $500k to take the next step into single seaters x 2. Thus an idea was hatched to build a track day car that we could all drive and shortly after a dead 1981 320/6 E21 auto came into our lives, picked up locally from the side of a road.

    Boys and I agreed that a Group 5 iteration of the E21 would be quite cool.

    The Group 5 E21 was originally built to run in the European 'silhouette' formula in 1977. BMW built the prototype in just 12 weeks, bunging the F2 16 valve 10,000 rpm engine up front and the radiators in the rear. The side view had to stay true to stock, but the rest was a free for all, hence the comedy width and crazy wings. BMW ran both a Junior and Senior Team as well as selling kits to privateers. They all had a very hard life and not many survive. Original cars with a race history are a king's ransom, as are the correct M12 engines.

    So the idea evolved to build something which looked kind of like the original Group 5 car, but made from cheap locally available and readily replaceable BMW bits.

    The suspension is based on stock E39 alloy subframes (stunning things hidden away under the 2000 5 Series) and the engine is the very reliable E34 525 M50 (iron block, non vanos) with a small custom turbocharger for around 600hp. We paid $500 for the then running engine. It will eventually be rebuilt with forged internals and we may yet use the forged 2.8 M52 crank. Gearbox is the superb locally made TTi GTO 5 speed sequential and the diff a hybrid concoction of BMW bits fettled and improved by local BMW guru Kayne Barrie.

    Along the way Link Ecu and Racer Products (Brembo brakes and calipers, OMP safety gear) have come on board as product sponsors. A crazy clever mate built us the custom Holset turbo (he now produces his own from scratch...).

    When it came to the bodywork, we could have bought a fibreglass body kit. But in reality most of them are a photocopy of a photocopy, taken from a damaged and 80 times repaired car. So the idea formed to do the bodywork in all aluminium and learn some panel shaping techniques along the way.

    It also meant that I needed to build a bunch of new machines to help form said panels - an electric swage, 4' box and pan folder, wheeling machine and air planishing hammer etc...

    So she has not been just a straightforward 10 minute build.

    As the project began to take on a life of it's own through social media, the idea evolved to show more of the processes with the hope of encouraging more people to try their hands at making stuff. There are not enough people making stuff today in my humble 64 year old opinion and many basic skills are being lost.

    So there is still a ways to go and many skills still to learn. Does it have an end date? Well no. It will be done when it's done. Hopefully Greta and political correctness leaves us a few hydrocarbons to turn into noise and that it all works when it's done

    Should be a hoot.

    Original car
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    Original Turbo engine
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    Original N/A F2 engine
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    El Cheapo 5 Series engine with turbo and Audi style dual plenum intake - circa 600hp ($300 as a runner - OW MUCH? )

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    Buck finished and starting to form up the front spoiler component parts
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    Attached Files
    Last edited by skintkarter; 04-14-2020, 09:58 AM.
    Cheers, Richard

  • #2
    thanks for posting richard (towd lad), looking forward to watching the body unfold
    thanks neil


    • #3
      WHOOOOOOO! Nice looking race car..... interesting build
      Peter T.


      • #4
        Man alive, Richard. That looks great! I hadn't read the full backstory before. Great stuff. Time to do some more reading and keep watching.


        • #5
          Been pretty full on with work of late - lots of insurance servicing and a possible opening for us on the software side of things for total world domination, so not much time in t'shed. Before that it was drinking, a 4500km bike ride to the bottom of the South Island to the Burt Munro Festival, navigating floods, possible chemical annihilation (toxic aluminium smelting waste stored by a rapidly rising river which gives off Ammonia on contact with H2O) and more drinking. All of this followed by a 2 week desmo service I did in house on the Ducati Panigale. Plus I helped sell my metalshaping God mate's house and the bastard has moved 3 hours away from me to the beach. I knew I was asking him too many questions...

          Still, got the spoiler more or less done

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          Started on the lower sill bits of the front guards

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          Machined up some custom dies for the swage - luckily I'd made a heap of blanks when I built the machine

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          Last edited by skintkarter; 04-20-2020, 05:11 PM.
          Cheers, Richard


          • #6
            Fantastic car!

            I can't see most of the pictures in your last post Richard. Anyone else have the same problem?


            • skintkarter
              skintkarter commented
              Editing a comment
              Yeah, not sure what went wrong with the post Chazza. Is it just the first and last that you can't see? Those ones expand from me but the others don't.

          • #7
            i only see 2 images loaded to the site

            the front spoiler has come on a treat young man, nice to see it progressing
            thanks neil


            • skintkarter
              skintkarter commented
              Editing a comment
              Cheers Neil - think I've fixed the image thing now. It was the >5 thing I think...

          • #8
            Looks like it was an issue with more than 5 images Neil.

            Whilst it looks quite flat, there is some overall shape, as well as the back 100mm needing to pinch in.

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            Lining up where to start the swage

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            Swage has sucked out some shape, but still not too bad against the buck

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            Lines up fairly well with the door.

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            Last edited by skintkarter; 04-20-2020, 05:20 PM.
            Cheers, Richard


            • #9
              My first Job was with L&C BMW in Tunbridge Wells in a block of Flats.


              • #10
                Looking good !
                Peter T.


                • skintkarter
                  skintkarter commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Cheers Peter.