National rally cars in profile: Joe Geach's BMW E30 M3
AutoClassics was at the Rockingham Stages rally and spoke to Joe Geach about his DTM homage E30 M3, now without a V8...
For fans of late 1980s motorsport, the BMW E30 M3 hits all the right notes as both a circuit racer and a wildly oversteering rally car.
Whether it was the Warsteiner livery donning a Steve Soper-driven M3 in the DTM or Patrick Snijers hurling one down the roads of the Manx rally, both the spectacle and sound are fondly remembered.
With the flashes of the blue and red BMW factory colours on the side of the white bodywork, and the car slithering its way out of the tight chicanes, Joe Geach’s E30 M3 rally car is a homage to both.
‘I bought the shell new and originally I had a V8 in it and used the car for hillclimbs and sprints,’ said Geach during the Rockingham Stages rally. ‘But I put it to an original spec. I wanted to use it as a race car at first but where I am from rallying is a bit more local.’
Reverting back to the original spec meant the cylinder count was halved to a 2.5-litre inline-four that produces over 300bhp, transmitted to the road via a sequential gearbox.
With co-driver Chris Brierley alongside, that was sufficient to end the rally seventh in class. No easy feat given the pairing’s relative lack of experience.
‘I’ve only really driven it in this state of tune four times so I’m trying to learn to be brave without hurting the car.’
‘Apart from a battery dying, it’s proved fairly bulletproof. We had a load of trouble with belts slipping off last year but now I’ve switched over to electric power steering, touch wood it’s been good.’
‘I’ve owned it for 12 years overall, and it’s been back to shell a couple of times – I like to keep changing things.’
Day-to-day Geach runs his ARM BMW Motorsport business, so taking an empty shell to a fully-fledged stage rally car isn’t a drawn out nor daunting process.
‘Genuinely, because we’ve done it everyday, we can get it from a shell to fully prepped in under a month if all the money and the right bits are there.’
In its current guise, the M3 is yet to return back for trackdays at the Nürburgring like it once did in V8 form. But as the revs climbs and it fires off into the distance, popping and banging as Geach slots in another gear, that’s certainly no loss to the spectators.
Images courtesy of Kevin Money