“It's the fastest car I’ve driven, but not the safest” - Preston Chetty on his BMW E30 Turbo

Preston Chetty’s BMW E30. Picture: Auto Rush

Preston Chetty’s BMW E30. Picture: Auto Rush

Published May 15, 2024

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FROM his late schooling years into early adulthood, Preston Chetty, 36, of Bayview, Chatsworth, had been ‘stealing’ his father’s Toyota Corolla Avante to race.

An act of passion that later fuelled Chetty’s expensive, yet thrilling hobby, sports cars.

Chetty, an automation and electrical expert at Safx Instrumentation, has owned some of the most sought after sports cars in South Africa, including a Turbo Honda Civic, a BMW E36 M3, the elusive Honda S2000, a Honda Civic Turbo and most recently, a BMW E30 with a 1JZ turbo motor.

The 1JZ is a 2.5 litre in-line six cylinder engine that was made for the Toyota Supra mark II. Picture: Auto Rush

The 1JZ is a 2.5 litre in-line six cylinder engine that was made for the Toyota Supra mark II.

Chetty has been known to break his cars with an unassuming ease but this has helped him develop into a more experienced driver, especially with rear wheel powered vehicles, like the M3 and e30 BMW, which is famously used for “spinning” all across the country.

The E30 is a vehicle that has earned a reputation in South Africa as a notorious vehicle, forging a cult around the car and in the process, hiking up the price of second-hand ‘box shapes’ to excessive prices.

Chetty acquired his latest toy from Johannesburg with the help of his long-time friend and inspiration behind driving sports cars, Kavithesh Girhow, who owned a Turbo 325IS Evo 2.

Preston Chetty preparing the E30 before the photo shoot. Picture: Auto Rush

“I got the car from Joburg. A friend of mine Kavithesh kept the car for around a week because I could not get it down to Durban as it did not have a handbrake.

“The car has got bigger injectors and its currently on maximum boost, which is 1.2 bar on the stock turbo and it is running on normal pump fuel.

“I the first week, the differential tore off the subframe so I basically redid it. It had a new subframe differential service, new prop shaft as well.

“We built a new clutch with a custom releaser and we also refurbished the rims.

“The turbo was done by auto dynamic turbos,” Chetty said about the E30.

The E36 M3 wheels of Chetty’s E30 give it a classic touch. Picture: Auto Rush

“I drove a good couple of rear wheel drives before this box, including the S2000 and M3, which I think prepared me for this. Power coming from the rear end is completely from the front wheel. It's a lot harder to handle.

“But I always wanted to drive a ‘box shape’ BMW. Growing up, two of my friends Kavithesh and Deany [Rishad Akbar] both had an IS [325IS] and I used to watch them drive their cars with so much ease and I wanted to do that also. Kavi had a red turbo IS and Deany had a black IS,” he added.

The car makes around 275 kilowatts on the wheels but not all that power is delivered to the ground, as the box spins its back tyres from the first gear up until the fourth.

Chetty said there were still a couple of tweaks to be made to get the vehicle to where he wanted it, but ‘nothing major’.

The interior of the car is fairly straightforward and has not been changed much, with the exception of an old school wooden finish steering wheel.

The seats, dash and cluster are still BMW parts. The 17 inch Motorsport wheels come off an E36 M3.

The 17 inch Motorsport wheels come off an E36 M3. Picture: Auto Rush

The exterior aesthetic of the box shape was also kept ‘plain and simple’ to support the OEM look.

Being behind the wheel of a rear wheel powered car is a daunting task if you aren’t aware of its behaviour when your right foot goes through the floor, which could cause a ‘box shape’ to get loose in the rear end. If you are not equipped to handle ‘the dance’ then you are going to have a tough time handling the car, Chetty explained.

Chetty’s Lotus Seven. Picture: Supplied.

Besides handling, rear wheel powered cars are faster because something being pushed will naturally go faster than something being pulled.

Chetty earned his stripes in his beloved Toyota’s before he jumped into a ‘RWD’ vehicle.

“I started off in school, stealing my dad’s Toyota Twincam. I used to race, break it and then fix it over the weekend. The car used to live at Merv Mac [an auto mechanic in Chatsworth].

The Toyota Corolla Avante that Preston Chetty started out his hobby with, after “stealing” it from his father and racing it on weekends. Picture: Supplied.

“It was actually a GLE with a Twincam conversion so a lot of the guys didn’t know the car was fast. At that time, there were a lot of Golf Velocitis on the road. The guys with their new cars used to show up, the guys with their 2 litre 8 valves used to show up.

“And this small ugly looking car used to ‘chow’ them,” Chetty said.

Chetty’s triple blue Honda S2000. Picture: Supplied

Besides Honda’s and BMW’s, Chetty also owned a Lotus Seven, a rare sports car made for racing in the late 1950’s to the end of the 1970’s.

But from all that he’s owned, Chetty attested to the fact that the e30 is the fastest he’s owned.

Preston Chetty’s BMW E36 M3. Picture: Supplied

“The E36 was like a brick but the S2000 was very nimble and fun to drive. With regards to the e30, I think it's definitely the fastest I’ve driven, not the safest, but extremely fun to drive,” Chetty said.

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