Craft’s Chariots: Worshipping at the E30 Altar

Article by Rick Jensen (Turboguy). Video courtesy of Owen Craft.

Back in September, we reviewed a very promising trailer about the BMW E30, and the enthusiasts who love them. So when Owen Craft’s full, 30-minute documentary went live, I couldn’t wait to see it. After all, there were over 2 million of these stylish luxo-rockets made, and even 30 years later, they have a rabid fan base that continues to keep interest—and prices—high.

This film starts in a dark garage where we’re introduced to an object of Craft’s affection: a red 1987 325is in all its glory. In addition to nice touches like the dramatic camera angles, Craft introduces his baby through interesting audio as well: the sharp pop of the hood, the scratching of a grimy oil fill cap being turned and the E30’s sewing machine-like idle add a really interesting dimension to this scene.

Once the 325’s in transit, Craft—who’s also our narrator—describes the myriad ways why the E30s are special. Then, he transitions to some surprisingly entertaining and informative interviews with E30 owners in the Pacific Northwest. Though their demographics vary, the common thread is the enjoyment of the "old car” driving feel when behind the wheel. Echoing something Craft said in the intro, many know that today’s cars suffer from overarching electronic nannies and a disconnected, numb driving feel—so they happily ignore them!

In addition to the street action, interviews and car show segments, there’s also a very cool E30 M3 section. The owner of a 1988 M3 provides a great interview about its inception and racing pedigree—keep an eye out for cool retro racing footage, as well as some great action and in-car shots from a modern, PRO3 spec racing series.

Craft’s passion, knowledge and creativeness easily carry this uplifting piece. Despite a couple of clunky transitions and some iffy audio, the film is stitched together quite well. My favorite parts are the M3 section, a GoPro filtering sunlight through the trees and, of course, the final group cruise illuminated with a brilliant sunset.

During Craft’s opening, he says, "And now in today’s time, this breed of car is being forgotten,” which is a melancholy reminder that time waits for nothing. But thanks to this uplifting documentary about one of the world’s ultimate driving machines, Respect Your Elders will be inspiring E30 lovers for years to come.


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Rick Jensen (Turboguy)

Rick's a Turbo Buick and EFI GM nut who was born in Nebraska, then reborn on the mean streets of Queens, NYC. Spent high school and college wrenching and racing before moving to NYC and spending 13 years as the editor-in-chief, editor, and writer for some of America's best automotive magazines, websites, and ad agencies. Favorite moments include running low 10s in my Turbo Buick, Exposing GM's weak-assed early CTS-V drivetrains, road racing Corvettes and Camaros, and doing high-boost launches to make my kid laugh.
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