A Tesla-Swapped E30 BMW Means ‘You’ll Never Miss a Yellow Light Again.’


These days, the E30 BMW 3-series is the hot ticket. Enthusiasts have scooped up these 1980s-era ultimate driving machines for racing, build projects, and dominating back roads everywhere. What makes this 1992 BMW 325i Cabrio special? Brace yourself, literally. It’s got Tesla power.

John Volk, a long-time builder of project cars, had once endowed this Cabrio with an LS V8. While an affront to BMW purists, the GM-powered Bimmer ragtop was massively quick. Looking for his next project, and becoming curious about car enthusiasts’ future in an electric-vehicle world, he tossed aside the LS and added a single-drive electric power unit out of a Tesla Model S P85. Getting all the hardware to fit in places no electric motor was ever meant to go, while doing all the work in his garage, was nothing short of mind-bending.

Volk adapted two complete 400-volt DC lithium-ion battery packs out of a Chevrolet Volt, capable of charging via standard AC chargers. He’s now converting the system to DC to be useable with the latest CHAdeMO hookups. Volk says the car’s 32kWh battery pack is capable of delivering around 100 miles per charge. Attached to the motor is a Quaife ATB differential, which sends electric power to Apex ARC-8 wheels and 255/40R17 tires.

Koni Yellow adjustable shocks, mounted to Ground Control camber plates, reside underneath the Mtech 2 bodykit. Ireland Engineering provided the coil-over sleeves, with 350-pound front springs and 1,000-pound rear units, and a 25-millimeter front anti-roll bar.

Keeping the E30’s original interior motif, Volk called on E30 interior experts Ninestitch NYC to have the Cabrio reupholstered in a fabric called “M-Rain.” He even hooked up a drive-neutral-reverse switch to the telltale BMW shifter, which looks right at home in the console.

So how quick is it? “The instant torque is amazing,” Jon explains. “To best describe it, you’ll never miss a yellow light again.”

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