Upon setting eyes on Ernie Hofstetter’s BMW 325i Convertible at the Fresh Meet/Tuner-Evolution Spring Meet, I knew that it would be the perfect candidate for a feature shoot. We were fortunate enough to have Ernie come out and meet up with myself and Mike Burns at the #ShrinkAllTheCars Meet at FDR Park in Philly. When the meet was unfortunately shut down sooner rather than later, Mike B. and Ernie went out to the sports district where Philly’s finest play to shoot the beautiful BMW.
When Ernie purchased the car back in 2009, it looked good, but was a mechanical mess! Ernie’s first modification to the car was not in any way performance related. A thorough clean was what the car needed most at first!
But what Ernie saw was the desire for a clean and simple vehicle that could break necks on at the shows, but make it wherever he had to venture. An E30 convertible was what he chose and he wanted to make it as cool as it could be.
The little details of Ernie’s E30 is what keeps everyone interested. Every time the car comes out to events, something new is added or modified to enhance the appearance and performance of the car.
One of the major head turners is the paint color. The Mazda Phantom Blue often confuses some as the blueish, green reflection glimmers in the sunlight along with the “smiley” headlights and Euro grilles. But once the hood is lifted, something else catches your eye. The BMW M50TUB25 OBD1 VANOS motor swap is staring you in the face. It made this cruiser ‘vert into a much more aggressive machine. The mini-shave and partial wire tuck keeps the bay clean, while on the underside, the Raceskids skid plate protects the detailed motor. Other engine mods include ceramic coated headers through a custom Borla exhaust to give the M50 a clean, throaty sound and a custom Getrag 260 5-Speed swap with a 3.73 LSD rear.
After one picks up their jaw from the spotless engine bay and exuberant exterior, the interior tops off this awesome build. The Mtech II Suede steering wheel and shift boots, custom Alpina tach strip and full JL sound system sets off everything you need to make it a comfortable interior.
But lets not forget the custom made dash panel for the air management controls and a built in Garmin GPS unit all installed and ready to go at any time!
Lastly, the wicked Air Lift air suspension setup on this car starts with rolling sleeves up front and custom mounted universal bags in the rear with a Auto Pilot V2 air management system. The dual Viar 444C compressors effortlessly fill the color matched tank so that the car can lift on and off of the 16×7.5/16×8.5 BBS RS 180/247 slant lip wheels mounted on 195/40 and 195/45 Yokohama tires.
Ernie would like to give a big thank you to Michael Hockman who played a major role in the suspension and motor swap over at Du Werke Headquarters and his understanding wife.
This car was a pleasure to shoot and we can’t wait to see more from Ernie this season!
Photos: Mike Burns
Words: Mike DeFusco