Beauty IN SIMPLICITY
JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE ONE OF THE BIGGEST KNOWN NAMES IN THE GAME RIGHT NOW, DOES NOT MEAN THAT ALL YOUR BUILDS HAVE TO BE OVER THE TOP — AS KEI MIURA PROVES WITH HIS BMW E30
NZPC is no stranger to the workshop of Kei Miura, nestled away in the backblocks of Osaka, Japan. It’s a place where time has stood eerily still seemingly since the ’80s; it is a true time capsule to everything Miura-san holds dear. Despite the nostalgic, calming aura that this sleepy hollow exudes, after being thrust onto the global stage, it now has the tuning world gripped every time the CNC machine fires up. For the last few years, NZPC has been lucky to peek behind the curtain, pick Miura-san’s brain, capture his cars, and get a glimpse into daily life at TRA-Kyoto.
Since the release of the beautifully simple S13 Rocket Bunny kit we all know and love, Miura-san has raised the bar regarding the complexity of his work and brought the tuning world to its knees with kits such as the GT86, FD3S, and S15. It’s fair to say that our expectations have been on a near-vertical climb for some time, as, with every new kit released, the tuning world goes crazy for the more aggressive aero and aesthetic additions. However, recently, Miura-san made a bold move and slammed the brakes on the runaway juggernaut of expectation by swapping marque and creating something simple, stunning, and purely for himself. This old-school tuner became a global superstar almost overnight, and, with this newfound fame came a raft of expectations that many would have found difficult to adjust to. But selling out was never an option. Anyone who knows Miura-san will be well aware that he is unapologetically true to his own style and love of his craft, and all the creations exist because he was inspired by the platform each
adorns. When he unleashed the E30 Pandem kit on the world, it was a stark reminder that his flair and style can seamlessly cross platforms, but, most important, this particular build is proof that sometimes less really is more.
First looks are deceiving though. You would expect that his E30 has had the works thrown at it, but, on closer inspection, that simply isn’t the case. The engine has been left stock with the exception of Dbilas throttle bodies and underneath only required one little change up — a narrower straight pipe to beef up the raspy BMW exhaust note. “I can’t drive a tuned car that doesn’t have the sound to go with the looks,” Miura-san laughs.
A set of 15x6.5-inch BBS mesh wheels tucks the big 70mm wide fenders thanks to air ride — in this case, a Roberta air-cup set-up that Miura-san built up himself. But the biggest change is found inside the cabin, which has been adorned with two Pandem bucket seats, a Nardi steering wheel, and a billet CAE shifter to really complete the driving experience. As we’ve come to expect from Miura’s personal builds, the interior has been stripped back, with a bolt-in cage completing that race car feel.
“The E30 doesn’t require much in terms of a bodykit, so I just wanted to mildly accentuate the beautiful factory lines. Keeping the base aesthetics and driving characteristics of the car was always forefront in my approach to this build,” he explains. “It was already a fun car to drive, so everything [that] I did was purely to bring more enjoyment when I am behind the wheel.”
The E30 build was partially influenced by the European touring cars of the ’80s, and, with rising market prices, it was now or possibly never to stamp his own mark on this Bavarian beauty.
“This car was built purely to drive; I drive this car more than any other I own. I prefer light power and good handling over anything,” he says.
To be talking with a tuner who is perched firmly at the sharp end of the industry, while admiring a car that is very achievable in terms of build and cost is an inspirational feeling. “Obviously the two-door version is climbing in price, but the kit is versatile and was designed to be used on the four-door variant, too, so it is really up to the builder what they want to do,” he explains to us. “I even built a four-door wagon version as well.”
Standing back and admiring the car from all angles gives you an appreciation for the excellent sense of proportion that the build maintains, much like that of the unobtainable E30 M3. This has all the wow factor of a big-budget build while still having spades of humility as well. It just goes to show that a kingpin such as Miurasan, when push comes to shove, can prefer simple, tasteful, and inexpensive over the flashy, intense builds that we have somehow come to expect of them. Even when the eyes of the world are firmly fixed on his workshop, this understated E30 is what Miura wants us to see him driving, and, as he describes this build, “it should always be about the driving experience, not the financial experience.”
This Pandem E30 harks back to a time when stylistic experimentation at small tuning houses in Europe still flourished, and Miura-san has moulded Japanese aesthetic sensibility around a timeless European canvas like it was always meant to be.