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Modern Function, Classic Form: Luca Colaneri’s 1991 BMW E30


Photos via Rick Di Corpo
Building an older car that looked and handled like a 2014 model is something that Luca Colaneri set his sights on when he took on the project of building his 1991 BMW 318is.Luca-bmw-E30-325-air-lift-bagged-air-suspension-ride-airsociety-001Hailing from humble beginnings, Luca started his journey with the modest ambition of finding a relatively clean E30. Considering he lives in Montreal, Canada where the only thing more popular than french fries and gravy is salting the earth every winter; this was proving to be a tough job.Luca-bmw-E30-325-air-lift-bagged-air-suspension-ride-airsociety-008After a few weeks of searching he found the car of his dreams and began furiously researching ways to get it to get it up to modern standards. The first step was shaving his engine bay and overhauling the motor at Strasse Autowerks. Out went the stock engine and in went a more modern E36 M52 2.8L inline six.Luca-bmw-E30-325-air-lift-bagged-air-suspension-ride-airsociety-005Not wanting to leave his motor as it was, Luca took the time to tear it apart and insert a ODB1 conversion with TRM tune, S52 cams, 3.5″ BMW 740iL MAF, 21.5 HR/LB injectors, and Bimmerworld silicone intake boot.Luca-bmw-E30-325-air-lift-bagged-air-suspension-ride-airsociety-006Making sure all that power reached the ground was the next step to take. Along with the E36 motor, a fresh E36 M3 ZF transmission come on board. The upgraded Sachs E36 M3 clutch, and F1 Racing 14 LB lightweight flywheel send power down an E36 drive shaft to a BMW Z3 M differential and out to the back wheels.Luca-bmw-E30-325-air-lift-bagged-air-suspension-ride-airsociety-014Not wanting to let that new powerhouse go to waste, Luca immediately set off to find a new set of wheels to replace the stock rollers.Luca-bmw-E30-325-air-lift-bagged-air-suspension-ride-airsociety-003Luckily he was able to quickly score a set of relatively lightweight 16×7.5″ and 16×9.5″ Azev Type A wheels wrapped in staggered Toyo tires.Luca-bmw-E30-325-air-lift-bagged-air-suspension-ride-airsociety-012Now that the easy work was out-of-the-way, Luca moved onto the body. Fixing the bumps and dents and giving her a fresh factory paint job was only the beginning. By adding the Euro spec bumper trims and front grille, BMW is trunk spoiler and front lip, and US Ellipsoid Headlights, Luca was finally able to stand back and see the creation he had spent months creating. All that was needed was a simple suspension drop to finalize the overall look he was craving for.Luca-bmw-E30-325-air-lift-bagged-air-suspension-ride-airsociety-013The suspension solution Luca needed to complete his ride happened to be the same brand that most BMW fans choose to drop their ride: Air Lift. Patented universal front struts were quickly grafted on leaving little guess-work as to how the entire process was going to unfold.Luca-bmw-E30-325-air-lift-bagged-air-suspension-ride-airsociety-010A simple color matched, 5-gallon tank setup saw its way out back which proved to be enough of a reservoir to supply air to the 3/8″ copper hard lines to the Air Lift Autopilot V2 manifold and out to each corner of the chassis.Luca-bmw-E30-325-air-lift-bagged-air-suspension-ride-airsociety-009By pouring his blood, sweat and tears into making his dreams come to life, Luca hasn’t lost sight of the man who helped him get to where he needed to be: Vitali from Strasse Autowerks. He is the number one reason for the success of this build allowing Luca the privilege of using his shop, tools and knowledge to accomplish something he’s never tackled before. Big shout outs also go out to his girlfriend for supporting his passion and to his family at 2LO Crew for building new long-lasting friendships.Luca-bmw-E30-325-air-lift-bagged-air-suspension-ride-airsociety-011

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