Trying to explain that the cage will save my life if I crash and the lightweight panels will make the car handle better, accelerate faster and stop quicker was like talking to a brick wall to anyone not into their track days.
I have dug out some Nissan cherry red and have given the inside a base coat as the BMW Melbourne red paint didn’t look like it was that thick, we didn’t want to run short so an initial dust over with the alternative red base was a good idea. Once that had been done and left to dry we went back and gave everything a little Scotch over and clean and panel wiped-everywhere before applying the proper BMW paint. This went on quite well and the finished result has only confirmed what a lovely colour Melbourne red is and why I chose it when I first bought the car. The gold fleck it has in it is very unique and one of the things that really makes the colour ‘pop’ in the sunlight.
With everything painted we started bolting parts back on – first the carbon doors, which had to be built up with all the lock mechanisms and the handles. I was originally dreading this, but with the trusty Dremel it was a breeze and they look like stock fitment panel gap-wise, which I am very pleased about, because if you don’t get this right, they can really look terrible – as if it has already been in a crash! In my quest to remove as much weight out of the car as possible, I also decided to put a second set of aero catches on the boot and the bonnet, which enabled me to lose all the heavy mounts and hinges and the lockable catches give the car a rather unique look.
The new spoiler didn’t come with any raisers and as the ones that were available were just sheet aluminium, I really didn’t like the look of them. Powdercoated black they may have been acceptable, but I thought for the money they wanted, I could make my own set for less and with a better design. The current spoiler position wasn’t up to the job and due to the size of the GT2 wing, it would have looked a bit silly that low down. If I’m honest it looks a little silly at any height, but function over form and I’m sure once on track it will all make sense. Anyway, I purchased some five millimetre thick plastic sheeting and set about making a pattern for raisers.
It took a few attempts but once I got my head around it I soon had it sussed and they came out very well! I took all the measurements went to my water jet cutter and had him make me a pair out of five millimetre aluminium. They took about three days to turn around and then off they went to the powdercoaters to be finished in black…
With the boot bolted on and the raisers added, the spoiler looked amazing and again I am very pleased with the position, strength and the height that it now sits at. For the record the height was guesstimated from hours of research looking at every photo I could find of E92 GT2 BMWs as well as any other information I could glean from other aftermarket company’s spoilers. I must have looked at a hundred GT2 cars from all different angles to make sure it wasn’t too high or too low, as BMW doesn’t give out that kind of information.
While I was messing about with these bits, Rob (the painter) was lining the wings up, putting the back bumper on and refitting the fuse box under the bonnet. With some chopping and cutting we managed to get it to go back in its original place. Dave got inside with the wiring and started plugging bits back in. He was in charge of sorting out the pedals, brake servo and finding places for all the little boxes, relays and fiddly bits to go.
With the heater matrix removed we had two water pipes laying bare that had to be dealt with. Back in my Cosworth days, my engine builder was Harvey Gibbs from Peterborough and his sons are now also my friends and often come to the Nürburgring and other track days in the UK with me. So I called them up and explained that I needed an 100mm long 25mm OD pipe with an 18mm ID and swaged both ends so I could connect the heater matrix pipes up. Four hours later it arrived, having been made from a piece of billet aluminium bar and turned on the lathe. They wouldn’t even let me buy them a beer, as they had to leave straight away to get back for a prior engagement. The following weekend they again came to the rescue, making me two bonnet pin raisers 75mm long with an internal M10 thread 35mm long in each end, to extend the aero catch pins for the back of the bonnet. Top lads.
Next up was the front bumper, the splitter had to fitted as well as the additional GT4 canards. These all went on with ease and really give the front of the car some aggression. I absolutely love the look of them – they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but they are there for a reason and it just so happens I think they look pretty damn tasty.
The OE boot floor has a plastic tray in it that weighs about five kilos and having seen other M3 race cars with a carbon sheet in its place I found a sheet of 1 mm carbon on eBay that someone was selling and got that to sit in place of the heavy plastic tray.
Dave likes to get the glass fitted properly to all the race cars he’s worked on so he arranged for a specialist, Clive, to come and fit the rear and side plexiglass windows and the standard glass front screen. I didn’t have the door windows at this time as there was a delay with them so he left us some adhesive and when they arrived I put them in myself. Before doing so, I masked up around the door and painted the door frames black and the back of the plexiglass so you couldn’t see any signs of the splodge that squeezed out between the glass. Being a little bit nervous I also drilled holes every six-inches and put little M4 flat head nuts and bolts all around the window which will ensure they don’t come out at 165mph+!
Shortly after I went to fit the mirrors back on – not the heavy standard items, little Le Mans GT carbon ones, but due to the size of the cage bars and gussets you couldn’t see past it from the normal driving position. I even tried the standard mirrors, but the view from them wasn’t much better. I then had a brain storm and thought why not keep moving them backwards until I the view was perfect. With the car almost back together, we put the dash back in, and plugged in what little parts were left to plug back in. Dave had done a good job with tidying the wiring up and with both of us on it, we had it looking in a reasonable state in no time at all. That giant ball of wires was finally not so big anymore…
At this stage Dave said we should try and fire the car up. He put the battery in the rear and connected it up, I placed key fob into the hole hoping for the pleasant click of relays activating, but sadly nothing happened.
No clicks, no dash lights – nothing. We got a multi-meter out and went over all the earths and checked everything that was plugged in that could be plugged in – and there are a lot of plugs now superfluous to the car – no airbags, stereo speakers, air conditioning, heater, iDrive etc. Fearing the worst (wires broken/melted in the loom somewhere) I called a couple of companies and drew a blank, with one guy who has built two E92 race cars, basically just wishing us luck with that and recommending that we just rip the wiring out and use a stand-alone ECU and harness.
As a last resort I called up Steve, a master technician at Sycamore BMW, to ask him if he had any ideas. He enquired as ti whether I had plugged a small three-pin plug into the top of the steering column. Until he mentioned it, I hadn’t even seen it, but with his guidance, I found it and saw that it wasn’t plugged in. I felt my way around and finally found both parts and connected them together and… boom! We have all ignition lights on. I tentatively pressed the start button with everything crossed and the engine burst into life. I think my grin could have been seen from the moon.
However, I didn’t run it for very long before switching it off as I knew there will be a few gremlins to code out, but the weight off my shoulders (£12k’s worth of weight for a stand-alone ECU and loom at the time to be precise) was palpable. It’s a great feeling knowing that we are on the final stretch to finishing the car at long last.
In fact I have done the fateful thing of booking a track day at the Nürburgring and by the time you read this I will have hopefully returned from the ‘Ring waxing lyrical about how good the car was. Fingers crossed…