NZ Performance Car - - Doing It For The Bro - WORDS AND PHO­TOS: AARON MAI

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.

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