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  •   Quentin Willson reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    MartinRoberts updated the picture of the group Alfa Romeo 2600 series 106 Club
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  •   Quentin Willson reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    #1964 #Alfa-Romeo-2600-Spider £57,500. Alfa Spiders may be plentiful enough, but certainly not in this form. Richard Gunn checks out a 2600 model.

    The #series-106 topless Alfa Romeos had short manufacturing lives - just three years. Of the 2255 built only 103 were right-hand drive, which makes this something a special among Sixties UK Alfas, especially as this is the eighth one produced.
    The car was totally restored between 1997 and 1999, and since then has covered 18,000 miles more, taking its overall total to 97,270. As an older restoration the Spider is still in very good order, yet there are a few imperfections.

    There are a few stonechips on the nose and some pinprick bubbles on the bonnet, plus scratches from enthusiastic polishing. The bootlid seems to have the most. Around the bonnet aperture there are a few missing paint spots along the edges. The black mohair hood complements the main body’s vibrant Rosso Red well, and is also nicely preserved, with a painted frame. It goes up and down easily enough. Good steel wheels and chrome complete what is a very tidy-looking and pretty car.

    Inside, it looks like the dashboard was left untouched during the restoration - the light patina suits it. The 2600 badge and Alfa Romeo roundel on the passenger side have a certain faded elegance to them. Above, a small split on the underneath of the passenger grab handle is visible when viewed from the driver’s seat. The slightly yellowed gauges may look their age, but they all work as they should.

    The charcoal leather upholstery and black carpets do appear to have been redone during the car’s renovation, and they’ve lasted well - the worst thing to be found is a patch of light wear on the driver’s seat back.

    The all-alloy engine is almost as attractive to look at as the rest of the car, and the engine bay has been well-detailed. However, any new owner might to replace the single black HT lead that clashes with the uniformity of the other five green ones.

    The 2600 Spider may be quick, but initial progress is hindered by the handbrake design, with its release button halfway down the lever rather than on top.

    Still, once you’ve mastered that, the Spider proves to be very fond of going, after the engine has been warmed up properly to get rid of its cold hesitancy. It has impressive acceleration and a delightfully rorty exhaust note.

    The small pedals don’t suit big feet and the new clutch could do with some adjustment - it bites very high up its travel. The steering, heavy at low speeds, becomes much freer when a decent pace has been reached, and the five-speed gearbox goes through its ratios slickly enough. The brakes work well, anchoring the Alfa quickly and cleanly when prodded.

    The price for this very nice Spider may be high, but it is so much rarer than most al fresco Alfas, especially in Britain.

    CHOOSE YOUR 2600

    ► The 2000 Spider was launched in 1958 with a body by Touring, built on the floorpan of the 1900 Super Sprint. Engine was a high-compression 115bhp version of the new 1975cc four-cylinder twin-cam from the 2000 saloon.

    ► The type is available in Berlina saloon, Spider convertible and Bertone Sprint coupe options.

    ► The March 1962 Geneva Motor Show sees the debut of its replacement, the Alfa Romeo 2600, this time with six cylinders and double-overhead camshafts. The body is largely the same but distinguished by details like an extra pair of headlamps and the loss of the wing air vents behind the front wheels.

    ► Disappointing sales of the 2600 range contribute to the Spider going out of production in 1965, a mere three years after its birth. The Sprint continues through to 1966, and is joined by a distinctive #Zagato coupe variant in 1965. That gets dropped in 1967, however. The Berlina does a little better, but only manages to survive until 1968 before it too becomes history.

    ► This proved to be the last six-cylinder Alfa until the #Alfa-6 of 1979.

    Price £57,500
    Contact Hurst Park, Surrey (01372 468487, hurstpark.
    Engine 2548cc, inline-six, DOHC
    Power 145bhp @ 5900rpm
    Torque 140lb ft @ 4000rpm
    Top speed: 124mph
    0-60mph: 11.1sec
    Fuel consumption 20mpg
    Length 4501mm
    Width 1600mm
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  •   Eric Richardson reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Running Report #Mercedes-Benz 300CE #Cabriolet #A124 . Back to school. A few electronic niggles on the 300CE Cabriolet fail to spoil the last summer drives, while the #E-Class estate remains hassle free.

    We are now five months in with the S212 E350 #4Matic Estate, and I v am pleased to report that all is well! When we purchased the car, the dealer had agreed to refinish the front bumper due to a few heavy scratches, and to perform a full detail on it. Due to holiday travel and utter laziness, we’ve only just had both jobs done, and the results are remarkable.

    Despite being almost three years old, the car looks, smells and feels brand new.

    What’s better, it hasn’t needed any mechanical work at all, which is a welcome change from the old S211. Of course, that will all likely change when it comes out of the warranty period, but luckily we have a few years before we start worrying about that.

    So with nothing substantive to report on the #S212 apart from happy use, I’ll turn my focus to the A124 300CE Cabriolet. Thankfully, all is well there too. What I have to report is that now the hottest days of summer are behind us, we’ve been putting a few more miles on this Mercedes in an effort to extract what we can from convertible weather before the cold comes. The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting the coldest winter in a long time - worse even than last year with its ‘polar vortexes’ - so we best get while the getting is good.

    On the road, the #300CE remains a happy little camper, although it shows a few signs of lack of use.

    Most notable among these are what appear to be dirty electronic contacts. For example, when I turn on the headlights, two thirds of the gauge cluster illuminates - until I whack it with a firm hand and the remaining third comes to life. A little more concerning is the SRS light that comes on from time to time, although it generally goes away again if I floor the throttle pedal. Perhaps not the perfect remedy, although I have noticed that with a little more regular use these occurrences are fewer and farther between.

    The most irritating foible of the 300CE these days is its steadily shrinking outside temperature display. It seems the LCD is slowly bleeding from both sides, and before too long these stains will meet in the middle. I have ordered a used replacement from eBay for a whopping $16 (£10), and just need to muster the courage to pull out the cluster and fit it. Perhaps at the same time I’ll clean the contacts for the cluster lights. I’d hate to leave a dent in the dash from one whack too many!


    The SRS light comes on from time to time, although it goes away again if I floor the throttle pedal.
    Other things on the ‘to do’ list for the cabriolet include installation of the bonnet insulation pad I purchased about a year ago, the old one currently held up with an intricate web of duct tape.

    We’ve also managed to kerb the lip of one of the new alloys. This is a bigger challenge. I could order another one, especially given that the spare is still an old 15 incher instead of a matching 16, or I could get it fixed. I think I’ll save my pennies, suck it up, and buy a new one, considering that refurbishing the wheel will cost the same or more.

    The cabriolet responds well to more regular use.
    A The LCD below the speedo is bleeding and needs fixing.
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  •   Craft Zetner reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Two of a kind. These M Coupés #E36/7 -series retain their fundamental values; quirky, impractical and nonconformist, but now they’re an even rarer beast, improved in every sense with the drama of forced induction. Whatever you think of the styling, the #Z3-M-Coupe has developed something of a cult following, and here stand two examples; both force induced and both equally as gorgeous, but which one would you have? Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Darren Maybury.

    Developed under the leadership of engineer Burkhard Göschel with the intention of adding increased structural rigidity to the #Z3 Roadster’s chassis, the M Coupé was eventually given the green light as long as it remained cost-effective to produce. To achieve this goal, as many body panels as possible had to be shared with the roadster, as were most interior parts. The result was a stubby two-seater, something of a nonconformist BMW. Its distinctive, controversial looks divided opinion, but it was frighteningly fast and, as promised, delivered a more rewarding and tauter chassis than its sibling. It had two power plants as well. From 1998 to 2000 it used the venerable 3.2-litre in-line six #S52 from the #E36 M3, which for owners in the States equated to 240bhp and 236lb ft of torque. In case you were wondering, the small loss in power compared to European-spec cars is attributed to the more restrictive placement of the catalysts in order to improve cold-start emissions. Having been discontinued for more than six months, a revised model then entered production in February #2001 utilising the awesome S54, an evolution of the iron block S50 and fitted to the #E46 M3. Although peak power and torque barely increased, with the Yanks benefiting from an additional 75bhp and 25lb ft of torque, the two engines share few major components. Interestingly though, both models made the 0-62 mph dash in 5.5 seconds and aside from a change in the final drive ratio (from 3.23 to 3.15) and the introduction of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), very little changed.

    So, here before me today stand two M Coupés; one packs the S52 engine, the other the #S54 , but aside from that both hail from the East Coast, both are force induced and both are eye-wateringly stunning. I think it’s about time we introduced the owners responsible for building them; tall, lanky, long-haired and clean shaven Carl Pardue holds the keys to the 2000 Cosmos black turbo’d lovely, which leaves the #2002 #Alpine white ’charged beauty, one of only 690 built in the USA, with Clint Gauvin, who’s short, stocky, short-haired and scruffy!

    Whilst both picked up basic mechanical skills from their father, Carl’s old man specialised in classic muscle car restoration so as soon as he could stand he became his second in command, bestowing him with knowledge and skills that became invaluable when he started wrenching on his own motors. Coupled with the fact his second car was an #E28 #528e , he soon started to realise the value of driving BMWs and, perhaps more importantly, what the tuning scene could offer. “I always loved BMWs but with my first one I began to realise how much the manufacturer develops its cars around the driver. It’s also nice to see design cues of the older models still being produced and I like how the smallest modification can complement any model so well. Not to mention the enthusiast value, and aftermarket support of the tuning scene is astonishing,” explained the commercial photographer. So impressed, it seems, Carl then went onto owning a #1999 M Coupé and a #1989 #325i before taking delivery of the car you see now.

    Clint, however, despite previously owning a #1993 325i, first discovered his love of motoring in the Wolfsburg stable, having owned two Golf GTIs and a Touareg before falling in love with, and consequently securing, the car you see now. “The M Coupé is phenomenal from the factory, despite being a parts car crossing three generations and four models of #BMW it works very well together. BMW said it best, ‘it’s a lot like nothing else’, so what better car to make, well, a little better. I wanted something that turned heads not because it’s obnoxiously loud, ridiculously low or plastered in stickers, but because it’s something you won’t see everyday,” explained the office worker. Carl nods his head in agreement and adds; “It was my dream car, and ever since they were first introduced I wanted one.” Indeed the first time I laid eyes on one, it stopped me dead. A Porsche may be cleaner, and a Ferrari sexier, but no car looked as muscular and purposeful as the M Coupé. And for those that think it looks like it’s been modelled on an old-fashioned running shoe, well, you’re clearly blind.

    So when it came to the exterior styling, both followed a similar remit; they wanted to retain the car’s original lines, yet play on its intimidating nature and add a degree of exclusivity. As a result, huge gold wheels shod in monstrous low-profile tyres sprout from both flanks of each car, Carl opting for 18” CCW Classics whilst Clint was persuaded by the 19” HRE C20s, both boasting 10” wide rears. Similarly, in harmony with the paint schemes, the former has had its side vents and kidney grille colour-coded; the windows tinted and smoked rear lights popped in, whilst the latter benefited from Hyper white angel eyes, clear front marker lights and white and grey BMW and ///M badges. Some smoothing has also occurred, and both front ends have gained splitters to accentuate that gorgeous long bonnet and give the cars a more menacing appearance.

    When it came to the interior, Carl told me, “I wanted it to be aggressive yet comfortable and most of all functional. I wanted to hang on to what BMW had done but improve the overall quality.” Inside you’ll find pedals and a handbrake from M-Tech alongside a TC Design knob and Momo wheel, whilst a dashmounted Subaru 2.5 RS pod houses a host of Defi gauges to keep check of what’s going on under the bonnet. BRIDE Zeta buckets, a familiar sight on the Japanese racing scene, were chosen as they’re designed to fit in very tight cockpits, and provide support and good visibility for everyday use. Clint too wanted to accent the cabin but not go overboard, and to an extent shares the same mods as Carl, including a head unit with navigation and iPod integrated, a #Z8 starter button, gauge pod and upgraded pedals, but instead opted to go with AEM and UUC respectively. The black leather swathed cabin is broken up with white trim that adorns the wheel and doorcards, and the Alcantara boots are picked out with M tri-colour stitching. The early M Coupé’s standard of fit and finish was always accused of falling short of what you’d come to expect from BMW, but it’s fair to say it’s not the case with these two cars.

    With the rear suspension dating right back to the first generation M3, compared to modern standards the ride is fidgety to say the least, and whilst the lively road holding adds to the exuberant character of the M Coupé, not surprisingly both boys thought the primitive suspension was well due an overhaul. The biggest changes can be seen in Clint’s car. With a TC Kline Racing True Match coilover system, Racing Dynamics adjustable anti-roll bars, StrongStrut front brace and the phenomenal Racelogic Traction Control System, combined, the modifications have given him new levels of confidence in pushing the car to its limits without ever having to worry about overstepping the mark. Meanwhile, Carl has found that Bilstein Sport shocks matched to H&R springs, and a front and rear strut brace from Mason Engineering and StrongStrut respectively, are more than comfortable and forgiving when it comes to playtime.

    Start up both engines, and the cars take on a different attitude altogether, begging you to thrash the hell out of them. If you thought the M Coupé went like the clappers in standard guise, try adding force induction into the equation... Basically, think TVR that’s been to finishing school. At first Carl was keen to pursue the NA route but by his own admission there’s nothing like boost, and despite his first taste of force induction leaving a rather sour taste in his mouth, he put it down to trial and error and battled on through. “After I fitted the AA C30 supercharger, I was left stranded in Atlanta, six hours from home… that kit caused me headache after headache, it constantly overheated. I wasn’t impressed with the power it made either and because they’re maxed straight out of the box, there’s no opportunity for further tuning.”

    With an initial goal of 500whp and reliability now a top priority, Carl went about uprating the internals of the engine before progressing to a Precision PT6776 turbocharger. “I had my doubts when it came time to crank; it’s something that I can’t describe to anyone except those that have done it themselves. There is so much pressure, time and money waiting on the turn of a key. It was one of the single greatest moments in my whole life when it started first time, and the only problem was a small gas leak which took a few seconds to fix. “Shortly after I had the car dyno’d, we didn’t want to push it too hard on the freshly built motor, and tuned the map for low boost at 11psi (minimum wastegate pressure). The results were 445whp and 396lb ft of torque. On a recent road trip with Clint we got on it a bit, I had a tad bit of a jump on him, but he caught up quickly until we began to reach the top end and we evened out, then the small gap between us began to increase, his car is very quick,” explained Carl with a grin. The transmission has naturally been upgraded to cope with the extra horsepower, and now features a Fidanza lightweight flywheel, SPEC Stage III clutch, and rebuilt rear differential with a 2.79 final drive ratio. The anchors will be suitably upgraded later this year alongside plans to turn up the boost to 17-20psi with alcohol injection to push past 600whp.

    Clint had similar priorities in his quest for more power, as he explains, “I didn’t want a turbo that only spooled at 6000rpm or a NA powerband that died off around 5500rpm. I wanted power that was usable and reliable, and I didn’t want a dyno queen either.” Late last year Clint bought a 2005 engine from BMW, and knowing he was going to fit a Vortech V-2 SQ supercharger, got on with the laborious task of stripping and rebuilding it with uprated pistons, rods and bearings, and some minor head work.

    “Some of the earlier cars (October #2001 to February #2002 ) were plagued with premature engine damage due to lack of lubrication to the connecting rod bearings, so the later engine is far superior.” Clint’s M Coupé now yields 510whp. He hopes to utilise the same ultra efficient aftercooler water-to-air setup with a custom turbo build shooting for a safe and reliable 700whp on pump gas at moderate boost.

    “I like the predictable and linear power delivery of a centrifugal supercharger, but for brute power a turbo without the same parasitic loss of the ’charger and more flexibility is the way to go, in my opinion. The S54 has proven to make tons of power in an E46 M3 with the right turbo setup. Eventually I’d like to see that sort of power and have the world’s only street driven 1000hp S54 M Coupé,” he adds with a smile. Again the transmission has had similar upgrades to Carl’s car but the brakes are a little more impressive with a UUC/Wilwood big brake kit featuring six-piston calipers up front and four-pistons outback clamped to slotted E46 M3 discs.

    Some may argue that the M Coupé’s styling is too quirky and tasteless, others will genuinely fall in love with it, but we all know beauty is only skin deep and, especially in the case of these two examples, has much more to offer under the bonnet. Not to mention it’s much more fun having a car that polarises opinions. And let’s not forget the model is not the work of brand managers, it’s the rare result of what happens when a serious group of hardcore driving enthusiasts at BMW’s Research and Development Centre take over, working after hours to build a car in secret and then somehow convince upper management to sell the thing.

    South Carolina built, North Carolina refined, these M Coupés retain their fundamental values; quirky, impractical and nonconformist, but now they’re an even rarer beast, improved in every sense and with the drama of force induction. Carl and Clint should be very proud indeed. That team of engineers had it right, there’s nothing wrong with being individual, nothing at all.


    ENGINE: 3.2-litre inline-six S52 with CP pistons (8.5:1), Eagle H-beam rods, new OE bearings, built head including ported exhaust manifold with new springs, lifters, guides and retainers, multi-layered steel headgasket, ARP main bolts and head studs, Ferrera Competition valves, Precision PT6776 turbocharger, T04HPS 4” inlet ported compressor housing with .68 A/R T4 Tang, Tial 44mm wastegate with open dump, Tial 50mm Q blowoff valve, Hallman Pro RX Boost Controller, custom drip tank fed Tilton scavenge pump with stainless braided turbo lines, XS-Power frontmount intercooler with Spal electric puller fan (1300 CFM) and 3” powdercoated custom intercooler piping, RMR Billet aluminium fuel rail, 75lb Precision fuel injectors, Walbro 255lt fuel pump, fully stainless braided fuel system, Aeromotive AEI-13101 fuel pressure regulator with Marshall Midnight FP gauge, VAC Motorsports oil filter relocation adapter with stainless braided oil cooler lines, Peterson inline oil filter, Mocal remote oil cooler thermostat, Earl’s oil cooler front-mount PWR radiator, Meziere Enterprises expansion tank, Griffin radiator cap, custom overflow tank, Spal cooler fan (2070 CFM), M50 intake manifold with Marshall Midnight Vac gauge, 3” 90 degree welded elbow to throttle body, ASC delete, AA water/alcohol injection system, air injector delete, Power Plant Racing tuned TEC3R standalone engine management system with PLX wideband O2 controller hardwired in cabin engine monitoring system, K&N 4” inlet cone filter, 666 Fabrication stainless steel tubular T4 exhaust manifold, full stainless custom exhaust (3” downpipe to a Y 2.5” dual Vibrant StreetPower straight-through mufflers), AA 02 simulators, carbon fibre engine cover, BilletWerks aluminum caps.

    TRANSMISSION: Fidanza lightweight flywheel, SPEC Stage III clutch, Big Boy Clutch Stop, UUC stainless clutch line (clutch delay valve delete), Vorshlag poly motor mounts, UUC tranny mounts with enforcers, UUC Evo III short shifter with Effort Reducing Kit and Double Shear Selector Rod, rebuilt rear differential with a 2.79 final drive ratio, IE poly subframe bushings.

    CHASSIS: 8x18” (front) and 10x18” (rear) CCW Classic wheels custom powdercoated gold shod in 275/35 and 235/45 Falken Azenis tyres respectively. Bilstein Sport shocks with H&R Sport springs, JT designs rear shock mounts, Mason Engineering front strut brace and StrongStrut rear strut brace, anti-roll bar poly bushings. Euro-spec two-piece floating front discs.

    EXTERIOR: Motion Motorsport front splitters, vinyl black motorsport flag across bonnet, roof spoiler, side vents and kidney grille colour-coded, shaved side markers, clear bumper lenses, vented and shrouded front bumper, rear wiper and valance delete, smoked rears, 35% window tint.

    INTERIOR: Bride Exas III seats with Impact #F1 7-point camlock harness and Sparco harness bar mounted on VacMotorsports Billet Seat rail mounts, TC Design Delrin race gear knob, M-Tech handbrake handle and clutch, brake and rest pedals, Redline Alcantara gaiters with tan stitching, custom aluminum heel-toe gas pedal, #MOMO steering wheel hub and mod 07 steering wheel, Z8 starter button with relocated aux power outlet, OE chrome interior handles and door lock pins, LeatherZ door armrests and centre console, Gary’s GM mirror adapter, Subaru 2.5 RS dash-mounted pod with #Defi oil pressure, engine and exhaust gas temperature and boost gauges, PLX DM-5 wideband O2 sensor.

    ICE: #Panasonic CQ-VX100U in-dash DVD receiver with 7” touch-screen (including integrated navigation and eightdisc changer and iPod interface), MB Quartz speakers, Hawker marine battery with hardwired trickle charger.

    THANKS: My wife, family and friends, Greg at Jonesmechanical, Chris at, Hung at, Kevin at Bush machine, Chad at Cross hose and fitting, Jon at 666fab. com, Summit Racing. If you’d like to have some of Carl’s handy work under your hood email carl. [email protected] com.


    ENGINE: 3.2-litre inline-six S54 engine fully balanced and blueprinted, with CP Pistons (9.5:1), Pauter rods, ported and polished head, five-angle valve job, #Vortech V-2 SQ S-Trim supercharger, custom intake pipes, RMS dual aftercooled intake manifold, custom front-mount aftercooler heat exchanger, Johnson aftercooler water pump, Siemens 633cc high flow fuel injectors, Walbro 255lph fuel pump and custom lines, Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, high pressure oil pump, Denso Iridium IXU-24 spark plugs, plasma coil packs, S54 Alpha-N ECU programme (MAF delete) and custom software, ceramic-coated Euro-spec CSL headers, custom exhaust mid section with high flow cats, custom UUC rear exhaust section.

    TRANSMISSION: UUC Stage 3 8.5lb flywheel and clutch, stainless clutch line (clutch delay valve delete), UUC Red tranny mounts with enforcers, Euro-spec #E36 #M3 Evo six-speed ’box, Rogue Octane short-shift kit with weighted selector rod, custom shortened shift linkage and shortened and balanced driveshaft, custom-built rear differential with 40% lock up and a 3.64 final drive ratio, Ireland Engineering subframe bushings.

    CHASSIS: 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) HRE C20 powdercoated gold wheels shod in 245/35 and 275/30 Toyo Proxy T1-R tyres respectively. TC Klein True Match (double adjustable) coilover system (including #Koni adjustable shocks and VVS springs rated at 500lb front and rear), adjustable camber/caster plates and rear shock mounts, upgraded front lower control arm bushings, Racelogic Traction Control System, StrongStrut front strut brace, Racing Dynamics adjustable anti-roll bars, custom front anti-roll bar endlinks. UUC/Wilwood big brake kit (six-piston front four-piston rear), slotted E46 M3 discs, stainless steel brake lines.

    EXTERIOR: AC Schnitzer front splitters, rear wiper deleted, custom Hella 5k HID Projectors with hyper white angel eyes, Euro-spec clear front marker lights, white and grey BMW and ///M badges.

    INTERIOR: UUC pedal kit, Z8 starter button, Alcantara gaiters with M tricolor stitching, Alpine white steering wheel and doorcard trim, X5 footwell power outlet and lighting kit, custom steering column-mounted dual pod with AEM digital boost/vac gauge and air/fuel meter.

    ICE: Pioneer AVIC-Z2 #Pioneer in-dash DVD player/navigation system with iPod integration, custom iPod mount, relocated HVAC Controls.

    THANKS: My Girlfriend, Christina, Jason D and all of Homegrown Motorsports, my company the Analysis Corporation, all the Z3 Coupé friends and enthusiasts friends from around the globe.
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  •   Ben Barry reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Running Report #1996 #Mercedes-Benz R129 #SL320 - a change of tune. After much deliberation, an R129 SL320 joins the Mercedes Enthusiast fleet, and its new custodians have grown very fond of it indeed. Despite my other half’s misgivings about its brown dashboard, I managed to persuade Mia that the SL320 R129 (discussed last time) was a good idea. There are lots of R129s out there but finding a good one isn’t as easy as you might think. I like things to look standard with no funny wheels or AMG bits, and this one ticked all those boxes, plus it had all its books and history.

    I also like the colour. I am not normally a fan of green cars - and from experience I even partly subscribe to the old wives’ tale that they are bad luck - but somehow the rich Pine Green of this one makes it look a lot less like a Barbie car, which means nobody mistakes me for Ken when I’m driving it.


    As for the dashboard, all concerned seemed to have persuaded themselves that they actually like it, which says something profound about the psychology of buying cars. I too have eaten my words when it comes to the engine. Before I drove the 320, I would not countenance the idea of a six- cylinder SL when the V8 alternative was so cheap and abundant. Neither could I truly accept that fuel economy benefits were very noticeable - and does that really matter with a car like this?

    And yet. One spin in the SL320 completely changed my opinion! This 24-valve #M104 is a tiger of an engine. It revs like a demon and sounds wonderful while doing it. Any perceived loss in tyre smoking, off-the-line urge is more than made up for in its lusty punch at the top end, and it is easy to see why this unit is the engine of choice for my friend Hermann’s streamliner recreations. Open the bonnet and it is recognisably an old Mercedes engine with few electronics, so it even has the right visual appeal.

    This car came with a stand for the hardtop, which we immediately put to good use. Visually, apart from some stone chips on the front bumper and bubbling paint on one of the alloys, there is nothing else that requires attention. The only dynamic fault is a disconcerting floating sensation in the steering at speed, which seemed to indicate that a new steering damper was required - £14 from Europarts. It was a synch to fit, but doesn’t seem to have made much difference. However, my feeling is that new front tyres and nipping up the adjustment in the steering box should sort the problem.

    Mia doesn’t like the P numberplate and is making noises about acquiring something more distinctive, and to hide the car’s true age. But the vast majority of people would realise it’s an 18-year old Mercedes, so why try to hide it?

    In the year my son was born (Sean, 1996), this car cost its first owner a considerable £60,000. As a totally usable convertible Mercedes-Benz with a powered folding soft top, plus air conditioning and almost everything else a #2014 car has that you would actually want, including electric mirrors and airbags, I reckon that makes these #R129 SLs - whatever the engine - the best value stars out there.

    This 24-valve M104 is a tiger of an engine - it revs like a demon and sounds wonderful while doing it.
    The black fabric roof folds away at the press of a button.
    Brown dash or not. the R129’s cabin oozes solid quality.
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  •   Chris Nicholls reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Double your money. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery than Peter Manolis has every right to be pleased with himself. Words: Joel Newman. Photos: Matt Barnes.

    At 27 years of age, young Cypriot Peter Manolis has achieved a great deal. He owns and runs Cougar Power Motorsport, professional tuning outfit for European and Japanese performance cars. Through Cougar, Peter has built such a beautiful Phoenix yellow E46 #M3 convertible that he inspired a fellow #BMW enthusiast to not merely take a few of his ideas, or to utilise a similar set of wheels or audio install: no, Peter’s car was so good that George Papadopoulos wanted it lock, stock and carbon bonnet. Sadly for George, it wasn’t for sale.

    There was only one thing for it – George went out and bought his very own E46 M3, albeit a coupé, and approached Peter with the words, ‘Build me one’. Not being one to upset his customers, Peter promptly agreed to get the project rolling.

    But before getting to George’s build story, let’s rewind to how Peter and Cougar began development of that gorgeous M3 drophead. Amazingly, Peter sourced his vehicle from London! It may seem crazy, especially as George sourced his coupé from a local Cypriot dealership, so we’ll let Peter explain: “I wanted the perfect base car with the perfect factory spec. Importing the car meant I could get my hands on one earlier, it gave me far more choice and it was, even with import taxes, cheaper than purchasing a new model here. If you buy from a local dealership you take what they have, and the options are rather limited. For me finding the ideal base car was extremely important.”

    With so much time and effort ploughed into sourcing the perfect project car, I assume Peter is one of those types; you know, the ones who spend thousands on body mods and forced induction, only to park their car up and look at it. So I ask him what he did when his car arrived at the docks and am taken aback by his response. “I turned the traction control off and went drifting. I’d been waiting for that moment for such a long time and I was so excited I just couldn’t help myself.” Maybe I misjudged you Peter…

    As a distributor for major tuners such as Vorsteiner, iForged, CCR Racing, and Active Autowerkes Peter wasn’t short of contacts for sorting out mods for his M3 project. As luck would have it, Vorsteiner was keen to tap into the Cypriot tuning market and with no base in the country decided to work together with Cougar: Peter’s M3 was to become the demonstrator for its carbon E46 product line-up.

    Ticking his way through the catalogue, Peter had soon ordered a new Vorsteiner carbon GTR bonnet, rear diffuser and side skirts, as well as a VRS front lip and CSL-style bumper. Nice work if you can get it! Once all the carbon kit was fitted, the car’s suspension needed revision, especially in light of the planned 20” rollers. Tuners’ favourite, KW Variant 3s, fitted the bill perfectly, enabling Peter to drop the car more than 40mm all round. This would prove essential to compliment the forthcoming performance boost and help highlight the gigantic diameter of the 20” gold iForged deep-dish rims. Carbon styling and Phoenix yellow paintwork; they look so good together that the transformation was an immediate success. But there’s something not quite right about an M3 dripping with the world’s finest aftermarket wheels and body parts that still goes like any other M3.

    “To me performance is the most important factor, and having been involved with the tuning of everything from turbocharged 355 Ferraris to Mazda RX-7s I wanted my new German love to get some similar treatment.”

    With the help of UK-based CA Automotive, Peter got hold of an Active Autowerke Stage 4 supercharger kit which, alongside new engine management, realises 525bhp from the standard engine. Peter popped in a Sachs racing flywheel for peace of mind and out back fitted an Eisenmann exhaust and decat pipe. He also slapped on a set of oversized brakes from TWR Racing that feature 410mm discs and eight-pot calipers. Holy mother of God! Now for journalistic artistry I wish the installation had had its headaches; things going bang, punches being thrown. But Peter tells me it all went without a hitch and has proven totally reliable, the ’charger coping with the blistering heat of Cyprus in its stride.

    With Cougar’s demo car now built there was nothing left to do but show off all the hard work. But no one would have predicted what an impact this car would have, especially on one Mr George Papadopoulos. “I met George at a show and he was just fascinated by the car,” reveals Peter. “We spoke and he told me about his previous Japanese projects, such as an RX-7 and #Mitsubishi GTO. With my experience and workshop there was a great deal of common ground and after a quick blast in the passenger seat, his smile said all I needed to know.”

    The smile to which Peter refers was swiftly followed by an audacious sentence, “Can you build me one?” George was instructed to find the donor car and eventually attempted to differentiate his project by opting for the solid-roofed E46 M3. “We live in a beautiful climate, so I felt buying the convertible would have been cool, but Peter did just that, and besides, a coupé should be quicker on track, too!”

    Unlike Peter, George travelled just a few miles to find his Phoenix yellow motor; a dealership in Limassol had the car he yearned for, and after handing over – wait for it – €50,000, it was his. A spot was booked at the Cougar workshop and now it was down to Peter to reproduce the full glory of his own car on George’s new-found motor!

    As with his own project, Peter’s first job was to put in a rather long call to Vorsteiner. A carbon GTR bonnet, CSL-style bumper and front lip, side skirts, rear diffuser and bootlid were soon winging their way across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean paradise. And because it was for the coupé, Vorsteiner could also offer its carbon CSL-style roof skin, a part that Cougar would seamlessly integrate and one that takes this motor into unchartered territory. There are very few #E46 M3’s sporting genuine carbon roofs, and even fewer that can match this level of fit and finish.

    With the Vorsteiner carbon in place, wheels were on the agenda and having fallen in love with everything on Peter’s convertible, George had an easy decision to make. “I wanted the same iForged wheels only in polished aluminium. I also opted for 20” but i planned on slammng the car even further.”

    With the car dropped 50mm all round, it was time to deal with performance. Unlike Peter’s convertible, the coupé would take a new direction and utilise a different kit, one from CCR Racing.

    The CCR Racing kit is known to us: we featured an #E39 #M5 running one of its systems that produced just under 600bhp, so be assured this is no cheap alternative. In fact, on the dyno these cars both produce very similar numbers, at 515-525bhp. Again, by choosing respected manufacturers who pride themselves on thorough and extensive testing, the kit bolted straight in, and with its bespoke software ran perfectly first time. Although not necessarily required, Peter also persuaded George to fit a superior Sachs racing flywheel, and to differentiate the vocal tones of the two cars, a Supersprint back box.

    Big brakes were the next stop, so to speak, with a D2 big brake kit featuring 365mm discs and whopping six-pot calipers slotted in behind those gaping rims. In their own right each car is impressive. They are both more around 50% more powerful than their standard counterparts. Their tweaked chassis are now honed and more than able to cope with devastating accelerative surges and even more severe braking. By using only the very finest suppliers, BMW factory fit and finish has been maintained. And although most of us can only dream of building such cars, it’s nice to appreciate the work of a couple of men who actually have.

    Put these M3s together and the sight is nothing short of spectacular. On the road, heads don’t merely turn: people stop and stare. By utilising the same styling cues these two can amplify the interest in their vehicles simply by driving or parking alongside one another. It’s a modifying trick I’d never thought of, and credit goes to Peter. Rather than draw the limelight away from his stunning convertible, the identical Phoenix yellow coupé ramps up the intensity of attention they receive. On their own each owner can enjoy the plaudits heaped on a glorious and bespoke feature car. Together they’re an indulgent expression of good taste.


    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre in-line six #S54 , #Active-Autowerke Stage 4 supercharger system and ECU software, Eisenmann 76mm quad exhaust system, custom decat pipe. Sachs ZF clutch kit and racing flywheel.

    CHASSIS: 8.5x20” (front) and 10x20” (rear) gold iForged Aero wheels shod in 245/30 and 285/25 Toyo T1R tyes respectively. KW V3 coilover system. TWR big brake kit featuring 410mm discs and eight-pot calipers.

    EXTERIOR: Vorsteiner carbon GTR bonnet, VRS front lip, V-CSL front bumper, carbon diffuser, side skirts.

    INTERIOR: As standard


    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre in-line six #S54 , #CCR-Racing supercharger system and ECU software, Supersprint 76mm quad exhaust system, custom decat pipe, water meth injection system. #Sachs #ZF racing flywheel.

    CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) polished iForged Aero wheels shod in 245/30 and 285/25 Toyo T1R tyres respectively. KW V3 coilover system. D2 big brake kit featuring 365mm discs and six-pot calipers.

    EXTERIOR: Vorsteiner carbon GTR bonnet, VRS front lip, V-CSL front bumper, roof skin and bootlid, side skirts.

    INTERIOR: As standard

    THANKS: Vorsteiner, iForged and CA Automotive.
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  •   Guy Baker reacted to this post about 5 years ago
    Taxi… BMW #E90 #320i (original in past) now have #E36 M3 #S52 turbo engine! Every once in a while a BMW comes along that crosses the border of sanity. This humble E90 320i has been transformed into a 650bhp turbocharged party on wheels, and driven hard on sheet ice, we’ve come to watch it dance. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Max Earey.

    If you’re a fan of films with decent car chases, one movie that won’t have escaped you is the #1998 French comedy Taxi. With Remy Julienne’s stunt team slogging a highly modified Peugeot 406 around the streets of Marseille, it makes you wish all taxi rides could be this good. Well, you won’t be experiencing such high-octane thrills in the back of a black London cab anytime soon, but there is one place where you can experience the taxi ride of your life. And it won’t be in anything as mundane as a #Peugeot #406 .

    The quite unbelievable car you see before you was “E90 BMW Drive-MY Club” first E90 3 Series feature car, and to be honest, if we ever get another this extreme it will be a miracle. It seems as though the E90 has only been out for five minutes, but already we see one here dressed in full #AC-Schnitzer body kit, painted the most astounding colour (with Taxi livery) and sporting a stripped interior, racing dash and four bucket seats. That would normally be enough to impress, but surely that huge front-mounted intercooler hasn’t escaped you? It can’t be…

    Oh yes it is. Okay, so it takes balls enough to start chopping up the body and interior of a brand new, rather expensive E90 320i, but messing with its incredibly advanced engine? This being a Norwegian vehicle (where forced-induction is a proven way of life), the possibility of this show car not having a turbo was simply unimaginable. So, since the basic 2.0-litre four-cylinder 150bhp lump wasn’t best suited for a stonking blower, there was only one thing for it: out with the new and in with the old.

    What? Someone’s actually bought a brand new BMW and binned the engine for an older model? Hard to believe, but perfectly true and fully justifiable. A look under this E90’s bright yellow bonnet reveals an old friend: the E36 3.0-litre six-cylinder S52 engine that we know is a hell of a lot easier to tune than BMW’s more modern engines with all their electrickery. And buried deep in the engine bay is a Turbonetics 60-1 turbocharger that gives the S52 lump enough boost to realise over 650bhp and 605lb ft of torque at 22psi. This is by no means your average taxi.

    As mentioned earlier, such a BMW could only come from Scandinavia – the spiritual home of boosting. This Taxi is owned by Gatebil, a company that organises some of the most outrageous high-powered track events and shows in the world, and also publishes a pretty nice magazine. We met up with Leif Nilsen from Gatebil, the man who had the original idea with Olz Martin Lundefaret from Autofil magazine to develop a car to thrill passengers at Gatebil shows.

    “We had to make something very special for the people at the shows,” Leif explained. “It is difficult for the crowd to get into the private cars drifting and racing around the track, and it is the most important thing for people to have a good time. We had to build a car that would give passenger rides, and it had to be something special – we needed a big engine and big lights. Also, it had to be a new car, not an #E30 or an #E39 .”

    The Norwegian boys must have had a few too many beers when they thought up the idea of using the #E90 as a project car, but when the hangover wore off, they were still convinced this was the way forward. BMW Norway didn’t see the value in the project when they were approached (spoilsports), but Leif’s local private BMW garage, Tronrud bil, soon stepped in to help things along.

    We don’t know how long the E90 #320i remained in standard guise after Gatebil bought it, but it can’t have been long. A call was made to AC #Schnitzer in Germany (who hadn’t even started offering an E90 kit at the time), to see if anything was available. Amazingly, three prototype Schnitzer kits did exist: one went to the US, one to Japan and the final one to, er, Rudskogen in Norway. We don’t know how they managed it, but they did. The ‘butchering’ now began in earnest.

    The interior was completely stripped of everything from the dashboard to the carpets, and a roll-cage with special roller coaster-style handgrips was fitted. The body, both inside and out, was then painted its rather striking yellow colour, shortly followed by the fitting of four Sparco bucket seats, flocked full race dash, boost gauge, Sparco steering wheel and other desirable accessories.

    You’ll also notice the TV monitors for the back-seat passengers. For the kids to watch movies on during long journeys? Not quite. The exterior features Blaupunkt cameras with a direct feed to the interior screens, allowing passengers to watch the action they’re experiencing from all angles. There’s also a camera fixed on the driver’s footwell allowing a privileged view of a drift master’s ballet across the three pedals. Great idea.

    The level of work in transforming the interior is unquestionably good, and the quality extends to the boot where we find a custom-made fuel tank. Hard to believe only a few months before this would have been ideal for the golf clubs.

    The interior is only eclipsed by this E90’s quite unbelievable exterior features. Having a set of very expensive roof-mounted lights is hardly your usual mod, nor is a carbon fibre roof duct that allows cool air to feed directly into the cabin during those hot and sweaty drift track sessions. The taxi livery won’t go unnoticed, and from the front, the customised Schnitzer bumper proudly shows off the mammoth intercooler. It’s a fearsome front end that effortlessly toughens up the slightly weedy standard E90 320i’s visage.

    For track work, the Gatebil Taxi runs on 18” rims, but in show guise as here it looks best on its 9.5x20” Mak chromes. The combination of such big rollers and KW Variant 2 coilovers ensures the look is a slammed one - particularly at the rear where the wheels are simply enveloped by the yellow arches. As the turbocharged E90 sat before us on its sheet ice drift pan - low slung, aggressive, eager - it was hard not to have an aching desire to give it some serious welly.

    With all that power going through the rear wheels and the icy surface offering the kind of grip levels comparable to running barefoot on baby oil, it was left to Leif to demonstrate the turbo?d E90s ice dancing.

    He fired up the boosted E36 M3 motor to unleash a pure race car burble, before a squeeze of his right foot quickly dispersed any thoughts of rear traction.

    With engine howling as the throttle was feathered, the rear snaked across the ice sheet in almost balletic fashion. Leifs car control gave away the countless hours he must have spent playing with rear-drive cars in a country covered in snow and ice for nearly half the year. It’s no wonder the Scandinavians are so impressive in the World Rally Championship.

    A peer into the engine bay and it’s a surreal vision. Expecting the typical shrouded modem #BMW engine where there’s very little to impress the eye, we were instead greeted by the 15-year-old E36 six- cylinder in its impressive naked form. There are the necessary upgrades on view typical of such turbo’d engines: custom alloy plumbing; braided lines; Turbonetics wastegate; relocated fluid bottles, while there are also the required oily bits you don’t see such as the custom cams, JE pistons and 750cc RC injectors.

    With a dyno run proving those extreme power and torque numbers, the drivetrain has also been necessarily beefed up a bit. Deeming the BMW gearbox a bit brittle for the life this E90 would be leading, a racing Tremec five-speed has been fitted, along with hardcore 7.25” triple-plated Tilton clutch, custom race driveshaft and an M5 differential.

    All the work carried out on the car, and these extreme upgrades, gives Leif plenty of faith this BMW won't be breaking anytime soon. The ice dancing was excellent for long, impressive sideways action, but it all had to be at slow speed due to the zero traction surface. To see the car really fly, it had to be on dry asphalt.

    Leif led us out on to the freeway on the outskirts of Oslo, found a suitable tunnel and floored the accelerator. With our windows down, the sound through the enclosed roadway was like Armageddon starting. A chorus of turbocharged 3.0-litre at the redline and squealing rubber assaulted the ears, Leif making the whole move even more spectacular by turning on the blinding strobe roof lights. God knows what other road users must have thought seeing this mad yellow flashing BMW flying sideways through the tunnel in their rear-view mirrors.

    Unfearful of pushing this turbo’d E90 to its limits on the roads, Leif is clearly a man who’s had the vision to help build a car with useable fun at the top of its agenda. Best of all, its entertainment factor is there to be enjoyed by others thanks to the three passenger bucket seats, and the genius idea of allowing multiangle viewing with the cameras and monitors fitted. “The car is completely made for the public,” Leif said. “It is our way of communicating to people what we are about through our BMW roller coaster ride.”

    Above all else, it is hard not to respect the modifying work carried out here. Having the balls needed to strip down a brand new, very expensive BMW saloon is impressive enough, but actually transplanting a 15-year-old turbo engine into its engine bay is taking things to a different level. Knowing such cars exist gives us faith that the future of BMW tuning is in safe hands, even if we’re unlikely to see such extreme work ever repeated on an E90. That said, there’s nothing these Scandinavians can do that would surprise us anymore.


    ENGINE: 3.0-litre 24-valve #S52 #E36 #M3 with Turbonetics 60-1 divided turbo and Turbonetics Race Gate wastegate, 300x790mm intercooler, increased displacement by 0.5mm, custom camshafts, JE pistons, EFI Euro ’96 injection, 750cc RC injectors, ARP studs, Ferrita Norway custom 3.5” exhaust system, #K&N air filter. Tremec 5-speed gearbox, 7.25” triple-plated Tilton clutch, custom race driveshaft, M5 differential.

    PERFORMANCE: 654bhp and 605 lb ft of torque running 1.5bar (22psi) boost.
    CHASSIS: 9.5x20” Mak chrome alloys shod in 285/30 Pirelli PZero Nero tyres. 18” wheels used for track work. KW Variant 2 INOX-Line coilovers, original brake discs with Ferrodo brake pads.

    EXTERIOR: AC Schnitzer prototype E90 body kit with modified front bumper for high airflow to the intercooler, de-badged bonnet, carbon roof scoop for cockpit cooling, strobes for the roof lights, headlights and behind the wheels, Gatebil Taxi stickers.

    INTERIOR: Fully stripped with Racepak dash-logger, Sparco snap-off steering wheel, four Sparco Evo racing seats, Sparco aluminium foot plates, custom roll-cage, Autometer boost gauge, Blaupunkt cameras, Blaupunkt LCD screen for each passenger with shift light, carbon door panels, carbon dash panels.

    THANKS: Tronrud bil, Anders Ringstad, Gundersen Motorsport, Motorsportprodukter, Haugland Motorsport, Norsk Bildelsenter, #Blaupunkt , Åpent Verksted, Pål Andre Fredriksen, Fredrik Tangen.

    CONTACT: gatebil. No.

    Mad roof-mounted flashing lights.
    Roof-mounted carbon fibre duct.

    A surreal sight: a 3.0-litre E36 M3 engine resides in this E90’s engine bay, and has that important Turbonetics 60-1 turbo buried in the bay. The result is an incredible 654bhp in this new 3 Series BMW.
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  •   Adam Towler reacted to this post about 5 years ago
    Added Sparkle #BMW #M-Performance F30 #320d #2015

    We take a look at a 320d fitted with the current range of tasty BMW M Performance accessories.
    The F30 3 Series is good straight out-of-the-box but the addition of some M Performance accessories makes a good car look like a great one Words: Bob Harper Photography: Dave Smith.

    The current generation 3 Series, the #F30 , can be a frustrating beast at times. It’s certainly not unique in that it’s bigger than its predecessor – like just about every manufacturer out there, BMWs keep on adding middle-aged spread it would seem – but despite BMW’s protestations that it’s no heavier, or indeed lighter in some cases, the F30 just doesn’t seem to be quite as sharp as the #E90 generation of machine. And then there’s the engine line-up that’s now exclusively turbocharged – no doubt just as powerful and more efficient – but for the driver who still has a modicum of petrol flowing through his veins that efficiency has perhaps robbed the pleasure of wringing the neck of a normally aspirated machine. These days there’s very little point in chasing down the redline of a petrol non-M engine as by around 5000rpm it’s given its all both in terms of output and aural delights.

    It might be a little odd to start talking about petrol engines when the F30 in front of us today is actually diesel-powered but the remarks about the car feeling a little less sporting than before still hold true. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still a very good car, a better allrounder then the E90 – but there’s a little bit of sparkle missing. I hate to say it, but the F30 can look a little dull too – personally I like the new frontal treatment when compared to the E90 but like many BMWs it seems like the designers may have been reined in a little when it comes to the rear of the car.

    And in a dowdy colour with small wheels it doesn’t really have much of the wow factor that you’d expect to experience when looking at a premium product. However, when I first set eyes on this particular F30 it delivered that wow factor in spades – bar the new F80 M3 this has to be the sexiest F30 we’ve seen. And that’s thanks to a serious slathering of BMW M Performance accessories that totally transforms the way the car looks. Even on a very dark, damp late autumnal day it has more than enough presence to stop you in your tracks. I’m not entirely sure where to look first but it’s the wheels that eventually get my attention as they do look fantastic. They’re 20-inch double-spoke Style 405 M Bicolor – eight-inches wide up front and eight-and-a-half at the rear wrapped in 225/35 and 255/30 Pirelli run-flat rubber front and rear respectively. At £4150 for the wheel and tyre set they’re not cheap, but boy do they look great – totally transforming the car.

    There are plenty of other M Performance goodies to explore on the car and while it hasn’t been treated to the full catalogue there’s more than enough here to keep our interest. At the front there are high-gloss kidney grilles while lower down there’s a new front splitter that adds a significant amount of presence to the standard M Sport front apron. On this machine it’s been left in its natural black plastic look, but it can be painted if you prefer. Moving along the side and we have a set of carbon door mirror covers which look great with the weave showing through nicely, while along the sills there are a set of M Performance extensions which suit the car well. Not entirely sure about the M Performance decals along the sills though, but that’s okay because they’re optional anyway. On a more powerful machine maybe, but on a 320d? I think it might be over egging the pudding somewhat, but that’s just my opinion.

    Moving swiftly on to the rear of the car we’ve a lovely carbon fibre spoiler atop the bootlid – similar to the one we had fitted to ‘our’ #M235i Longtermer and it really does look the part, while sitting in the middle of the lower part of the rear bumper is a BMW M Performance diffuser that really helps to finish the rear of the car. All-in-all it’s a very tidy package and one that I’d be delighted to have gracing my driveway. We’ve mentioned the wheels as being expensive – but no more so than any other quality set of wheels and tyres – but the rest of the M Performance equipment really does seem to be very keenly priced as you can see from the spec panel below.

    I’ve always been a fan of the 320d for its sublime combination of pace and frugality and slipping behind the wheel of this example is like becoming reacquainted with an old friend. You can sit quite low in the car which helps with the sporting intent and while this example doesn’t have any M Performance accessories inside it still looks fresh and inviting. Thumbing the starter button brings the expected diesel thrum and while the old #N47 unit might not be as refined as the new B47 we’ve already sampled in a couple of cars it’s certainly hugely punchy out on the road and feels massively quicker than the 2.0-litre diesel #VW #Passat I’ve arrived to the shoot in. With 7000 miles on the clock, the engine feels well bedded in and this allows you to make full use of the chassis’ grip which it has in abundance thanks to the large, sticky Pirellis, even in these less-than-ideal conditions. What is a surprise is that the 20-inch rims don’t really seem to affect the ride quality to any significant degree – in an E90 I definitely felt that 20-inch rims was probably a step too far and goes to show how BMW has been able to improve ride quality with the F30 generation.

    All-in-all this 320d is a great example of what can be done with an F30 with a few simple modifications. Excluding the cost of the wheels the M Performance parts fitted to this car come to less than £2400 which given the difference in the way the car looks seems like a small price to pay. The wheels and tyres do add a significant cost, but you could always use the standard wheels as a winter set and no doubt you’d recoup quite a large part of the cost were you to sell the M Performance wheels as a used set, or there’s nothing to stop you swapping them on to a new F30 when time comes to change. And as they’re all official BMW products they won’t affect your warranty and could even be added to a finance package on a new car – tempted? We know we would be.

    M Performance F30 320d
    ENGINE: Four-cylinder, turbodiesel
    CAPACITY: 1995cc
    MAX POWER: 184hp @ 4000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 199lb ft @ 1750-2750rpm
    0-62MPH: 7.5 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 146mph
    ECONOMY: 62.8mpg
    EMISSIONS CO2: 120g/km
    WHEELS: Double-spoke 405 M Bi-colour, Orbit grey/burnished, complete wheel and Pirelli run-flat tyre set.
    Front: 8x20-inch with 225/35 R20Y.
    Rear: 8.5x20-inch with 255/30 R20Y
    Pice: £4150

    Please note all prices include VAT but not painting or fitting where required. Please contact your BMW dealer for more information.
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  •   Matt Robinson reacted to this post about 5 years ago
    More all-wheel drive. #BMW M cars on the way #2015 . The debut of the BMW X5 #F15 / X6 M #F16 at the LA Auto Show #2014 could herald the arrival of a new era of all-wheel drive M cars as Shane O’ Donoghue explains.

    The writing is on the wall for more four-wheel drive BMW M cars. At last month’s LA Auto Show the 575hp, twin-turbocharged, V8-engined X5 M and X6 M twins made their world debut and a BMW M insider told BMW Car that it’s likely we’ll see more cars from the M division that put their power to all four wheels. First to hit the market could be the X4 M in 2016, and a four-wheel drive version of the next generation BMW M5 is also under consideration. The BMW M4/M3’s twinturbocharged straight-six cylinder petrol engine seems a logical powerplant for the #X4 M, though it’s unlikely BMW M will give the SAV more than the 431hp of the Coupé, Convertible and Saloon. As the #M-DCT dual-clutch gearbox is not currently fitted to any all-wheel drive car it’s expected that the X4 M would use the conventional automatic transmission found in the new X5/X6 M. It’s unlikely that a manual gearbox would be offered, though the X4 M will use BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive system and could employ a similar torque vectoring technique to the larger X models.

    A unique design with more aggressive air inlets and colour-coded wheel arches should differentiate the X4 M from the current range topper, the X4 xDrive35i, along with the characteristic quad-exhaust system. Inside, M touches are likely to extend to unique instrumentation, alloy paddle shifters and figurehugging leather-trimmed sports seats.

    Though BMW won’t confirm the X4 M’s existence, the success of high-performance compact SUVs such as Porsche’s new Macan suggests that the X4 M will become a reality. Of less certainty is the use of all-wheel drive in the core M range. Insiders suggest there’s strong resistance to changing the rear-drive setup of the M3/M4, even though the 3 Series and 4 Series are both available with four-wheel drive. However, it seems that the M5’s future could indeed include an all-wheel drive model, to compete better with the Audi RS 6 and 4Matic four-wheel drive versions of the latest AMG-developed #Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The latter car is also available in reardrive guise, but there has been a dramatic bias in sales towards the four-wheel drive model in the M5’s key markets, including North America. If this does happen, BMW is adamant that the M5 will retain its rear-drive feel and only send power to the front wheels when required.
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  •   Iain Curry reacted to this post about 5 years ago
    High-power plug-in hybrid system revealed Called Power eDrive, a new #2015 plug-in hybrid system promises greatly extended ranges and much higher performance driving, says Dave Humphreys

    BMW has revealed an advanced new plug-in hybrid system, christened ‘Power eDrive’, which will form the basis of a series of future modular hybrid powertrains that are currently being developed. Adding to the further electrification of the drivetrains by BMW, these plug-in hybrids of the future will see electric motors providing two-thirds of the combined output. The combustion engine will account for the remaining third and be cast in a supporting role.

    A prototype example of Power eDrive revealed to #BMW Car consists of a 231hp turbocharged fourcylinder petrol engine, mated with a modified electric motor from the #BMW-i3 producing 203hp (located where the torque converter for the eight-speed transmission would normally be found), driving the front wheels, while a second electric motor (putting out 271hp and also built in-house at BMW) is integrated into the rear axle assembly and drives the rear wheels. A large T-shaped 20kWh lithium-ion battery is located under the rear seats in the space normally occupied by the transmission tunnel.

    It is claimed to enable longer all-electric driving ranges of up to 62 miles. Charging is via plugging in to a wallbox or using the combustion engine when driving. The prototype’s fuel tank was reduced in size to 30 litres yet the driving range is still a claimed 370 miles. However, in larger models with bigger tanks this range could be increased well beyond 500 miles. However, it is the area of dynamic performance where the new system truly shines. It is claimed to produce in excess of 679hp in total, while being capable of a torque loading of more than 1000Nm. In its basic drive mode the rear electric motor sends power to the rear wheels via a multi-speed gearbox. When higher performance is required, the front electric motor enables all-electric four-wheel drive propulsion. When maximum performance is called upon, the combustion engine provides a kick down boost to the front wheels through the eight-speed automatic gearbox, assisting the two electric motors.

    The result is a four-wheel drive system that, through complex torque vectoring, could provide impressive levels of on-road performance despite its extra weight.

    Affectionately known as ‘The Thing’ by engineers working on the project, the 5 Series GT-bodied prototype houses totally unique underpinnings. Franz Drescher-Kaden, BMW’s technical manager in charge of Advanced Engineering of Hybrid Systems said: “Production would require a new modular tool kit which the current model architecture does not support,” suggesting that the hybrid system is not intended for any current model in the BMW line-up. Having two electric motors along with a larger lithium-ion battery pack and an ancillary system that makes the Power #eDrive rather weighty, BMW expects that it will become ‘a natural choice for use in upmarket vehicle segments’. With this in mind it is more likely that the Power eDrive system will find its way into larger future models such as the forthcoming #X7 , as well as the next-generation 7 Series – and it even has the potential to migrate across to feature in some future #Rolls-Royce models.
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