Project SR E30: Part 3 – Radiator, Intercooler and Piping
E30’s have this fat lip going around the top of the core support, making it difficult to make a radiator bracket without cutting into it. We decided to use the stock condenser mounting holes. This meant we had to make quite a complicated bracket, so we used cardstock paper to make templates.
We flattened the paper template and used it to cut the brackets out of 16 gauge mild steel. We then used a sheet metal brake (AKA a vice, 2×4 and a hammer) to bend them accurately.
Next we mounted the stock condenser and removed the fan. The fan is no longer needed since we have e-fans on the radiator. This space will instead be taken up by the intercooler. We also ended up having to cut off those fan brackets protruding out of the condenser.

We spent quite a lot of time trying to find a suitable intercooler. E30’s really don’t have any extra space up front, so most boosted E30’s end up just hanging the intercooler in front of the car or cutting out a large section of the bumper. We are trying to maintain an OEM look with this car, so our goal is to make the intercooler completely invisible. After a lot of measurements, we ended up buying a tiny intercooler with a 18”x7”x2” core and 2.25” J-bends for the piping. We don’t have crazy power goals in mind for this car, so we don’t think the small size is going to give us any issues.

We wanted the intercooler to sit quite high up in order to completely hide it behind the grille. Our plan is to make the piping snake through under the headlights, so the intercooler had to be sized perfectly in order to align the end tank outlets under the headlights. No cutting holes in this car!
Because the intercooler had to be positioned so high off the bottom, we couldn’t mount it to the lower core support. We instead made a 12-gauge bracket that runs across the entire length of the intercooler and mounts to the insides of the frame rails using a rivnut. You can also see here why we opted for 2.25” piping. The gap between the headlights and the frame rails is very tight.

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