A Custom Widebody 1990 BMW E30 with TREMEC Magnum-F Transmission

The Zwingfilms YouTube page had 61,000 subscribers at the time of this writing. Chalk it up to each video’s glossy cinematography, the shop’s camera-friendly aesthetics, the pounding background beat and the guy, Zach Wingfield, wielding his automotive know-how to influence others to learn how to build their own car.

When Zach turned 16 in 2011, he wanted to work on his 1998 Subaru Legacy. Trouble was, he had no one to teach him. He ended up doing what any resourceful would-be gearhead would do: hit the auto-parts store. “I went to O’Reilly’s and asked the guy behind the counter how to get started. He said to first figure out a good way to get fuel economy, like changing the fuel filter, air filter and so on. I asked him how much a fuel filter cost and told him I’d take that and a Haynes manual, too.”

Once back home, Zach headed to YouTube for a tutorial on how to swap out the fuel filter on his particular car. He found nothing. The lightbulb went on immediately. “I figured, if I was looking this up then I was sure there were other people doing the same thing. I decided to learn by reading the Haynes manual and sharing my knowledge with YouTube.” He would not only have to learn how to wrench, but also how to shoot video to document his work; luckily, both were already bubbling passions.

A year later, he’d make his first big modification: He dropped in an STi motor. How’d that work out? “Not so great.” After one trip around the block, he decided it was such a messy build that he’d part the car out. He then moved from the Subaru brand to BMW.

Here are the modest beginnings of Zach’s 1990 BMW

As his hands-on skills grew, so did his business acumen. The Seattle-based Zach created ZwingHQ, focused on performance-car builds, and Zwingfilms, which produces automotive-themed filmed content, including commercials and supercar rallies. You can find more information at his website www.zwinghq.com.

What you see here is one of his rolling business cards, a 1990 BMW E30 325i widebody with an S52 turbo and TREMEC Magnum-F six-speed transmission.

Zach got the car in 2015. He favored this chassis as it was the first production manufactured car to win the touring car championship back in 1987. The chassis and geometry of the suspension gave him greater “driver confidence” than other cars he’d driven before. We spent some time talking to Zach and learning more about this specific build.

Is it your daily driver?

“I like to ‘daily’ my race cars.”

What are some of the modifications?

“Air Lift Performance air-ride suspension, Live to Offend wide-body kit, Toyo Proxes tires, Kansei KNP wheels, NW Crafted made a beautiful fully custom interior, including carbon fiber backed fully adjustable custom Zwing designed racing seats and door panels, a massive anodized red big brake kit by Sparta Evolution,  steering angle kit by SLRspeed, all of the lines, plumbing, cooling, hydro, and various components were from Chase Bays, with the exception of an oil cooler & catch can from Mishimoto. Full heat management and sound deadening by Design Engineering, a Boss Audio full sound system and a full body satin black wrap by EMWRAPS. Engine Bay fabrication work with some custom Zwing plasma table cut out pieces created with Tyler at Dream Chasers Garage. The 4-point cage was built by Ryan Smith from Complete Customs. Custom titanium turbo kit and 3.5-inch stainless exhaust system by Rampage Fab with all Vibrant Performance components. The remaining fabrication needed to be done, the custom bodywork, and full remainder of the build was done at ZwingHQ with the help of contractors and amazing friends.”

Any challenges along the way?

“We cut off the front end of the car and started completely from scratch, with lots of custom fabrication, paint and bodywork, and building a completely forged motor from the ground up, adding a different suspension with air and installing a body kit that only one of three cars had in the world. It was a fully custom build.”

It was also Zach’s first turbo build. “Engine building needs to be so, so carefully monitored by both the people building it, because we ended up chasing a trigger offset for a long period of time since one mechanic was under the impression that the crankshaft had been torqued down and the other was not, thus losing the Woodruff key, which caused the accessory drive to spin inconsistently. We could never find proper trigger offset on the reluctor wheel.”

What’s the engine?

“A BMW E36 M3 S52 inline six motor. The car weighs just over 2,500 pounds and we anticipate that with the mods, the car will be making 750 wheel horsepower on E85. Thankfully, the TREMEC Magnum-F transmission and Clutch Masters FX850 twin-disc clutch can handle that power.” Related aftermarket upgrades include a Supertech Performance top-end cylinder-head build, Garrett GTX3582R turbo, Link G4+ ECU compliments of Mark from PANIC WIRE, a complete fuel system featuring Aeromotive, Nuke Performance and Fuel Safe components, forged pistons and a cut ring head gasket from JE Pistons, with Eagle rods, and ARP head studs. The engine was assembled and machined by C&D in Kirkland, WA.”

New skill learned from working on the E30?

“Using body filler.”

How long did it take to build the car?

“Six sleepless weeks. Our intention was to bring the E30 to the 2019 SEMA Show, but we didn’t make it in time.” One of the issues was with the custom bellhousing. With just a week and a half left to finish building the car to make the show deadline, “I had to completely switch plans for a driveline and had to source another one. The starter didn’t fit properly on second driveline, so we had to buy a third driveline. We installed and removed the transmission several times.”

Zach planned to then bring the car to the 2020 SEMA Show, “but Covid happened.” He ended up debuting the completed E30 at a drift event in Portland instead.

Why a TREMEC transmission?

Zach installed a TREMEC Magnum-F six-speed after being inspired by his previous build. “I wanted to buy an LS3 for my 1998 BMW E36 drift car in 2016, and the best transmission for that was the Magnum-F. I like the feel of the shifts and the fact that it’s brand-spanking new and beautiful.”

The transmission tunnel in the BMW required a bit of massaging to fit the TREMEC Magnum-F six-speed transmission.
The shifter location is just a little further back than the factory position, which is actually ideal for the position of the racing seat.
Mid build the car started to take its intended shape. The air suspension is completely custom and, with the wide track front and rear, you can see the need for the wide body.
The finished E30 looks as good as it performs. What’s hidden in the simple underhood appearance is all of the work that went into fabricating this car.
Zach enjoys driving his race-ready cars on the street. This BMW gets plenty of looks as he shifts the gears in the TREMEC Magnum-F six-speed.