For a crowd-pleasing hillclimb car that has both speed and style, here’s a way to go about building one. Start with a vetted chassis—or better yet, grab an old touring car — that’s what Istvan Kavecz did. This BMW started its competitive life as a touring car running in the German Super Tourenwagen Cup. He retained the WTCC front and rear suspension, KW 3-way adjustable coilovers, and ceramic brakes, as these would offer the agility and braking performance needed on Croatian hillclimbs. However, Kavecz felt the need for more power with an engine note that would leave people bewildered for minutes after the car had left the scene.
The powerplant wasn’t outside of the BMW family, but it’s not the type of motor you’d expect would power a touring car. The jewel in this already fantastic package is the S65 V8, which formerly powered an M3. After refreshing the motor and modifying it with Arrow Precision connecting rods, Schrick camshafts, and CPS pistons, he installed a Motec M800 system and configured the engine to spin to a mellifluous 9,500 rpm. It makes 540 naturally-aspirated horsepower, which is sent to a Drenth Motorsport DG500 six-speed sequential transmission, past the rear doors, and to the rear end, where that power is cleanly administered to the pavement.
The car in a red and grey livery.
That unmistakable burble at low revs and high-rev howl is made all the more obvious to those sitting on the side of the road, as well as those in the next zip code, thanks to a ceramic exhaust manifold and a custom exhaust system. With a stunning soundtrack, wonderful agility, and a usable powerplant, this BMW E90 checks all the boxes—even if it’s a little longer than it should be. I suppose that’s just part of the charm.