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  •   Rob Hawkins reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    CAR: #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E46
    YEAR: #2002
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 87,276
    MPG THIS MONTH: 26.9
    TOTAL COST: £167 (tyres & locking nuts)

    Clubsport? Lightweight? Race car? Well, not quite; but sitting inside, the M3 does have the look of a car midprep for an attack on a Nürburgring laptime. A couple of delays mean the M3’s interior is still missing a fair proportion of its trim, but the guys at Perfect Coating ( perfectcoating) will have that sorted by the next update, so I’m looking forward to photographing the interior in its shiny new glory in time for next month. Talking of next month, with good weather on the cards and some events in the calendar I’m planning to take the M3 to Wales with some mates, and if things work out just-so, a sojourn to the Nürburgring too. Throw in another visit to Bruntingthorpe for VMAX and I’ll have a chance to put some good quality bonding miles on the M3. Truth is, I’ve not used it as much as I’d like of late which may be good for the mileage (a relatively low 87k considering the 2002 year of registration) but this is not a car to be afraid of using – you only need to look at the amount of M3s deep into six figure mileages to know that if well looked after, there is nothing to fear. With the service indicator telling me I have 800 miles left before the next service, she’ll be well looked after very soon, most likely by Highams Park Motor Company in East London.

    It’s the perfect time for some routine maintenance, meaning I can look forward to summer fun with her! That’s not say I’ve not had fun in the dark months, and now I’ve had a chance to put some proper miles on the M3 with the 18-inch wheels I’ve really grown to love them. Unsurprisingly, after last month’s sideways fun the rear tyres were looking rather sorry for themselves. Lucky for me, my local tyre shop happened to have a pair of very lightly used correctly sized Pirelli P Zeros in stock; an absolute bargain for £150, and I had some new locking wheel nuts fitted at the same time. The old lockers were looking pretty sorry for themselves, and I had visions of being stranded with a flat, unable to change wheels due to a rounded off key. It’s a small thing, but it gives peace of mind. As I reported last month, initial impressions on the smaller wheels were a marginal trade off in ultimate grip in return for better ride quality and even more benign, playful handling characteristics when pushing on.

    With the new Pirellis, a good run on some of my favourite local B roads cemented that impression. I’ve never been one for chasing ultimate grip anyway – I’m not setting lap times – so I’d rather have a car which has grip levels well matched to the power output, with really enjoyable handling which can be exploited at sensible speeds. On the 18-inch wheels, the M3 delivers this by the bucket load. I’ve grown to love the look on the dark grey smaller wheels too; the polished 19-inch wheels always looking a bit bling for my taste.

    Despite sharing space with cars worth 50+ times what I paid for the M3, it still managed to turn heads and secure a prime spot at a local breakfast club meet. If you’re an Essex dweller, I’d heartily recommend a trip down to The Hare near Roxwell the first Saturday of most summer months (check its calendar to be sure). Get there early enough and there’s even free coffee. But more importantly an excellent mix of old, new, and sometimes hugely rare and valuable cars to have a look at… and a 15 year old M3 with half the interior missing. It was my morning jaunt to the last meet that gave me the chance to enjoy my favourite local roads, and driving back I was feeling pretty pleased with life. I think it’s fair to say my love affair with the M3 is going pretty strong…
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  •   John-Joe reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    STEVEN’S E31 850Ci / #BMW-E31 / #BMW-850Ci / #BMW-850Ci-E31 / #BMW / #BMW-8-Series / #BMW-8-Series-E31 / #V12 / #BMW-V12 / #M70 / #BMW-M70 / #exhaust-rust / #seatbelt-covers / #E31-specific-part

    The search continued this month to find small random jobs that needed finishing off before I sell the 850, and you’ll be pleased to hear that I managed to find a few. Therefore I couldn’t sell it until it was finished. Logical, no?

    The first job was on the seats. When I replaced the interior, the seatbelt coverings on the seats were worn. They are protected by a plastic coating which has worn away, presumably by people climbing in and out of the ridiculously small rear seats. I tried to source replacements from BMW and, surprisingly, pricing them up only came to about £100 for both seats. For an E31-specific part, this is amazingly cheap. Unfortunately I then discovered that they were no longer available (aargh!) so that simply wasn’t an option. Finding a decent set second hand was also impossible as most are in a similar condition, and breakers don’t like taking parts off interiors as they can’t then sell the whole interior as ‘complete.’ So I decided to recondition the set I had, and set to work removing them from the car (they simply unclip and unscrew). I sanded them down using some medium sandpaper followed my some wet and dry emery paper to flatten the remaining paint. I then coated them in several coats of primer, then paint. The paint I chose was a bit of a guess, but BMW Steel Grey seemed pretty close, so several coats of that went on.

    I finished by coating them in a satin lacquer to better reflect the original finish of the parts. I’m pretty chuffed with the results, and amazingly the colour match is pretty much bang-on. They definitely make the interior look less tired.

    The second job was rather more vital. My exhaust seemed to be hanging a bit low on one side, and a quick look underneath revealed why. One of the exhaust back box hangers had failed, tearing a hole in the exhaust. The other side was still attached but had torn due to the weight. This was clearly an issue that couldn’t wait so I arranged for it to be welded back up. It doesn’t look very pretty, but it doesn’t need to as no one can see it, and if it keeps my exhaust from falling off on the motorway then it’s probably a job well done.

    Any more jobs? Well, the #ABS light has come back on, and the brake pedal feels a bit weird. I might have to have a quick check before I advertise, just to be on the safe side, y’know…

    Worn seatbelt covers were removed, sanded and painted. Exhaust back box hanger failed and made a hole. Seatbelt covers now look good as new. Exhaust and hanger patched up.
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  • Davy Lewis is now friends with Steve Hall
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  •   Fredrik Huldt reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    STEVEN’S E31 850Ci / #BMW-E31 / #BMW-850Ci / #BMW-850Ci-E31 / #BMW / #BMW-8-Series / #BMW-8-Series-E31 / #V12 / #BMW-V12 / #M70 / #BMW-M70

    The interior of the 850 has always been an area that needed work. I have replaced the sagging headlining and cleaned the seats and carpets to within an inch of their life, however there is no escaping the fact that the leather seats are worn. Plus, with the car now sporting white paintwork, the light grey seats no longer offered the colour contrast that I always like to have. As a result, the search for a new interior has long been on the cards.

    What I really wanted was a complete leather retrim. And so I took the 850 to ‘Dave the Trimmer’ – a car trimming shop near where I work to get a quote on how much it would cost to recoat all the seats and doorcards in a lovely rich dark red leather. He took one look at the car and announced that by the time he was finished, there would be five dead cows and I’d have a bill for £3500! Ouch! This was due to the sheer volume of leather in the car, as being BMW’s flagship model in 1989 it is simply dripping in the stuff. Even the lower dashboard and transmission tunnel are wrapped in it.

    After picking myself up off the floor, I decided that a good quality second-hand interior was the only way to go. As a result I have been scouring the breakers and eBay for months looking for one that suited. I eventually found one a few weeks back in Luton. It was the sports interior in black with grey plastic, and therefore I wouldn’t have to replace the dashboard. Furthermore, it was in decent condition and almost complete.

    The only snags were one of the doorcards was torn, and one of the lower dashboard parts was missing. However, I figured that these could be rectified with some ingenuity, so I bought it. Having filled the boot of the 330i Touring with seats, I brought it home, unloaded, and started assessing the damaged doorcard. Since the damaged leather was removable from the doorcard, I started trying to find a replacement leather panel, and Gerry at Phoenix Motorsport (my resident E31 expert) came up trumps with a pair in decent nick for a fair price. Even better is that he is located only five minutes from where I work. Swapping them out was easy (just eight plastic ‘nuts’ on the back of the panel). For the missing lower dashboard trim, I decided to dye my existing part from grey to black, as it was in decent condition, and dying from light to dark is quite easy. Dave the Trimmer provided the service, and then it was ready to fit along with the rest of the interior.

    Removal of the existing interior is something I have done to this car a couple of times now so I’m getting pretty quick at it. The front seats have six Torx bolts fixing them to the floor, and access is pretty easy, though they weigh more than the moon. The rear seats simply clip out, and the centre section has three small screws.

    While the interior was out I took the opportunity to give the carpet a damn good clean again. All the doorcards have just three screws each followed by ten or so plastic poppers around the edges. As usual, all the poppers snapped as I pulled them out. However, I had already ordered a set of replacements in anticipation of this very occurrence.

    The new interior is from a late model 840, and as such comes with the fold down rear seats that the 850 was not equipped with. However, some minor adjustments meant that it fitted just fine. Anyone folding down the rear seats might be a little bit confused as to why there is no access to the boot, but to hell with it, they look great.

    To protect the carpets from future damage and dirt, I also bought a set of carpet mats. Being black, but with a grey trim, they help (I think) to blend the black seats with the grey dashboard, and just make the interior a bit smarter. I’m really pleased with the effect the whole new interior has had on the car. It was an area that really let the side down. Plus I now have the colour contrast that I wanted. I think I can say that the interior is officially finished and I can now move on to the next area of the restoration – the engine bay.
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  •   Fredrik Huldt reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    STEVEN’S E31 850Ci / #BMW-E31 / #BMW-850Ci / #BMW-850Ci-E31 / #BMW / #BMW-8-Series / #BMW-8-Series-E31 / #V12 / #BMW-V12 / #M70 / #BMW-M70

    Improvement work on the 850 has taken a back seat this month as I’ve had to deal with some of the inevitable consequences of owning a 25-year-old classic. While driving in to work a few weeks back the temperature needle went considerably beyond 12 o’clock, and I had to abandon ship.

    While nursing the car home, I realised it would only overheat while stationary. While driving, the temperature was fi ne, which is a classic case of viscous fan coupling failure. The viscous fan is designed to operate at several speeds, which are controlled by a clutch mechanism within the viscous coupling. As the temperature increases the clutch tightens up and eventually locks, which makes the fan spin faster and cool the radiator. If the coupling fails, then the clutch won’t lock up and the fan speed doesn’t increase to cool the engine. While driving along, the air that passes through the car can cool the radiator, but when stationary, it relies purely on the fan.

    I ordered a replacement viscous fan coupling from KMS Parts for a reasonable £50, and a friend of mine fitted it one evening. I admit it’s a bit lame to pay someone else to do something I’m perfectly capable of doing myself, but unfortunately two kids and three other cars mean some jobs are being farmed out to the professionals. To be fair, he did it in half the time I would have done, and probably did a better job of it too.

    Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story, as while the fan was now locking up, the temperature was still rising too high. Upon more investigation, and after some online advice from (thanks Timm) there appeared to be an airlock in the system. So after adding another litre of coolant and squeezing the hell out of every hose we managed to release the airlock and she now behaves herself perfectly. At least for the time being…

    The second problem that the 850 has developed is a rather severe wheel wobble at 50mph. Larger BMWs are notorious for the 50-60mph ‘shimmy’ and it was now my turn. The causes of this are numerous and often hard to pin down, however mine appears to be relatively simple as I realised my front tyres are rather egg-shaped. This appears to be the result of using unbelievably budget tyres (have you ever heard of Landsail? No, me neither) and parking the car up for weeks at a time.

    In my defence, I didn’t choose the tyres as they were on the wheels when I bought them and I stuck with them for the short term. I won’t mourn their passing. It does leave me with a dilemma though. I’m wondering if I could find another set of rear wheels and fi t them on the front. 11.5” is rather wide for a front wheel, but the deep dish will look cool as hell. The E31 has extremely low offsets due to its wide body, so if any car can handle it, it’s the 850. Tune in next month to see whether they fi t or not.
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  •   Bob BMW reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Longtermers #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #2002

    Plenty of action for the M3, Ben gets his German race licence, Elizabeth almost says goodbye to the 1 Series while the repaired E90 318i has more dramas

    After a couple of quiet winter months the M3 must be wondering what’s hit it! New wheels, interior in pieces… it’s even been on track alongside a couple of fun jaunts on local roads. Let’s start with the interior refresh. I’d been talking to the guys at Newbury based for a few weeks about some options to revive the scuffed, scratched and scabby grey plastic interior trim in the M3. The interior of my car was in great shape overall when I purchased it – nice shiny seats with only mild bolster buffing, whilst the dash and remainder of the cabin trim was in excellent shape, perhaps even better than you’d expect of an 80k mile, 15-year-old M3. Letting it down though, were always the plastic inserts with their metallic grey finish. Given these adorn the door handles and electric window switch surrounds amongst others, they were in prime position to deteriorate from 15 years of contact with rings, nails and the natural oils from human skin.

    So a jaunt over to Newbury was arranged, where the guys at www. perfectcoating. co. uk had the relevant parts out of the car in short order. The individual pieces looked even worse sitting on a bench under bright lights, the door handles predictably being the worst offenders. The parts are sanded down to remove the existing paint and prepared for the black basecoat.

    Once this is applied, the clever part of the process happens, as the film is applied through hydro dipping (or water transfer printing as it’s known) to create a finish which looks almost identical to a carbon weave, with some golden colour showing through (we opted for this to better match my M3’s Phoenix yellow – many other finishes and colours are available).

    Once this has cured (a very quick process), the parts are sent to the bodyshop for a high quality lacquer to give a deep, lustrous and hardwearing finish. Having seen some completed parts earmarked for a Mustang I was blown away by the quality and can’t wait for the finished items to be refitted – pictures and in-depth report on the process next month. The fact that the process is just as suitable for external parts is highly compelling: carbon spoiler and mirrors anyone? My return journey from Newbury made for an easy drop in to Aldershot to pick up the set of original 18- inch wheels I sourced through the popular M3cutters forum. I’d been interested to try these and experience for myself if the ride and handling were tangibly different on the smaller rims and accompanying taller sidewall tyres. There is a marginal reduction in unsprung weight over the 19-inch polished alloys, shedding 1.4kg per front and 1.1kg from each rear wheel; of course this is mitigated by the slightly heavier rubber due to the taller sidewalls. In reality, it’s the latter which seems to make the biggest difference to the driving dynamics in the handful of miles I’ve been able to try them so far.

    Tyre footprint remains the same, with 225/45/18 up front and 255/40/18 at the rear as opposed to 225/40/19 and 255/35/19, but the taller sidewall has reduced initial bump harshness, whilst there is a trade off to steering sharpness when turning in. Perhaps due to less tyre deformation, it feels like the 19s have slightly more ultimate lateral grip, but we are talking fi ne margins here which would take an accelerometer to confirm. On the road, the 18-inch setup does feel like it works better, providing the M3 with an added degree of suppleness to deal with our imperfect roads. At the same time, the chassis feels a little bit less edgy on the limit, proving extremely friendly with the DSC turned off ; a feeling I was able to confirm on track recently where some pretty extreme corner entry styles had the M3 virtually on the lockstops in third, but feeling utterly benign and predictable in extremis, as well as sensational fun. Of course, much the same can be said of the wonderfully balanced E46 M3 chassis no matter which wheels you’re running, but there was a tangible and enjoyable difference to note. That the 255/40/18 rubber is significantly less expensive than 255/35/19 is a pleasing side benefit….

    This has freed up the 19s for a refurb too. They are thankfully free of kerb rash, but the lacquer is looking a bit second hand in places. If you have any recommendations of a place to have these cost effectively refreshed in Essex or London please feel free to message me.

    BMW E46 M3
    YEAR: #2002
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 87,120
    MPG THIS MONTH: 28.8
    TOTAL COST: £350 (wheels)
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  • Steve Hall unlocked the badge Story Teller
    Story Teller
    Loves sharing stories. To unlock this badge, you need to post at least 30 different story posts.
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  •   Bob BMW reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Fun Factory AC Schnitzer M240i tested. AC Schnitzer works its magic on the wonderful M240i Coupé. AC Schnitzer has taken one of BMW’s finest cars, injected it with an additional dose of adrenalin and the result is an exceedingly impressive miniature missile. Words and photography: Steve Hall.

    Here at BMW Car, we’re huge fans of the M240i, which is no surprise really considering the level of affection we developed for the M235i, which like any good relationship, just got better the more time we spent in its company. Handsome, compact coupé, powerful sonorous engine up front driving the rear wheels; it’s a recipe that would be difficult to get wrong with such good base ingredients.

    So 2016’s enhancements, which arrived when the 235 became the 240, were only ever going to deepen our desire for it. Adding 14hp and 37lb ft to a model which wasn’t exactly slow off the mark (that torque figure matches the M2) only serves to demonstrate what a fabulous engine the B58 is, combining more performance than the M235i’s BMW-N55 with greater efficiency, all the while allowing the driver to enjoy the – now unique in this class – pulsating straight-six music rendered by the B58’s machinations. At £36k it’s a hard package to beat.

    It’d be fair to say we’re fans of Schnitzer too. We realise this won’t come as a shock. With an expansive (and expanding) range we’ve had plenty cause to visit Aachen this year, and are consistently left thumbing our dictionary looking for new superlatives to sprinkle into our road test assessments. It’s on a fine run of form, hitting that sweet spot that can prove the downfall of other tuners; delivering an OEM standard of quality in a package that offers tangible benefits. So dispatching an M240i to the Schnitzer skunkworks should result in a very special package…

    Our final trip to Aachen of the year may be cold, but the forecast is bright and sunny. And with the whole day devoted to this shoot we’ve plenty of time to get to know the ACS2 4.0i. So it's a good thing our guide for the day did some diligent research (thanks Mario!) and has found some terrific roads for us to play on; one stretch in particular snaking its way along, then up a tree-lined mountain – the kind of road you imagine local petrolheads carving their way up and down in the quiet hours.

    This being Germany, we have a good few kilometers of autobahn to blast down before we reach black top more akin to a British B road (okay, with a significantly better surface) and some towns along the way to explore every facet of the ACS2’s performance and dynamics. First though, lets take in some details, starting with the element which will most irk M2 owners; the small matter of an additional 60hp and 75lb ft of torque…

    There has been much forum debate about the performance of the M240i vs the M2, given that the bona fide M car has 30hp more, identical torque and 30kg more weight. Factor in the M240i’s narrower shape and less aggressive aero and it’s easy to see why separating the junior car’s straight line performance would take a stopwatch marked in thousandths of seconds, and it’s debatable which car the exercise would favour. After Schnitzer has worked its magic, the stopwatch can safely be dispatched as the sheer thunderous energy the ACS2 demonstrates in the mid-range leaves you in no doubt: an M2 would be easy meat. With power and torque curves much the same as the standard car, power delivery mirrors the M240i – mid-range grunt swells as soon as 2000rpm is registered, by 4000rpm we’re really motoring, and the straight-six happily rips round to its 7000rpm redline with increasing vigour. But that 75lb ft of extra shove makes its presence felt everywhere, whilst the additional power sees the final flourish to the redline take the ACS2 into very senior company.

    Schnitzer realise the extra horses with its tried and tested method of an additional control box which (as with last month’s M3-based ACS3 Sport) sits atop the existing ECU and manipulates the controls to allow an increase in boost pressure, whilst being easily and invisibly reversible. That Schnitzer backs this with its own two-year warranty speaks volumes for the thoroughness of its testing programme. It explains why its claimed power figures are consistently backed up in independent testing, which isn’t something that can be said for every tuned car on the market…

    There’s a typical thoroughness to the Schnitzer approach in every element of the ACS2; the aesthetic updates address one of the few areas where criticism could be levelled at the M240i, and gives the 2 Series visual attitude to back up its performance. Not so much wolf in wolf’s clothing (that’s left to the M2), but for some there’s not enough to differentiate 218i from an M240i – not so with ACS2. The M240i’s demure aesthetic could be considered a selling point, but we think Schnitzer has struck a terrific balance by dressing the 2 Series in a smattering of high quality carbon trim pieces to complement its signature fivespoke AC1 forged alloys and the lowered ride height. As befits the Schnitzer way, many of these confer subtle aerodynamic improvements have been verified in the wind tunnel. The differences may be marginal, but when you’re driving a 400hp coupé on a road devoid of speed limits, any added high-speed stability is a welcome addition.

    Stability is aided by the Schnitzer suspension package which sits the ACS2 45mm and 50mm (front and rear respectively) closer to the ground, and waives the adaptive dampers in favour of a passive system which is mechanically adjustable in bump and rebound. The factory setup is so well judged, we doubt many will utilise the adjustment, but it’s nice to know it’s there. Some may be surprised at the omission of a locking differential even as an option, but in reality the few who would really make use of such an option are well served by some of the wilder Schnitzer products; and as we will see, this doesn’t stop the ACS2 being an absolute blast to drive on the right roads…

    Thoroughly warmed up from our sojourn through the suburbs, we join the autobahn with the ACS2 ready to demonstrate the full extent of its straight-line performance. There’s a few kilometres of built-up ‘bahn to negotiate before the derestricted sign hoves into view, during which the #BMW-M2-AC-Schnitzer-ACS2-F87 proves itself just as adept as any 2 Series Sport at low speed cruising.

    We leave the speed limit behind primed in third gear and take the opportunity to indulge in what seems to be a popular past-time in Germany – full bore acceleration when entering derestricted zones.

    It’s something the ACS2 4.0i is extremely well equipped for, punching hard with acceleration seemingly unabated as we charge through fourth and fifth gears. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too busy to explore the upper reaches of the speed spectrum, but the point is made – you’re going to need an M3 to stay in touch.

    We’re now on the roads I’d really been looking forward to. Roads which play well to the 2 Series’ compact size. We’re rolling on Continental Winter- Contact tyres, which may rob the ACS2 of the final percentile of precision, but do nothing to detract from the sweet balance innate to the chassis. All of the usual M240i traits are in situ, with the volume turned up to 11. There’s more precision, more control and more grip to manage the extra performance and on this road, winding its way up the hill interspersing 180 degree switchbacks with short straights, the ACS2 is indulgent fun. Traction proves surprisingly good, but with 443lb ft underfoot it’s easy to overwhelm the rear tyres at will – at which point the #ACS2 remains a faithful, enjoyable folly. Buoyed by the crackle of the Schnitzer Sport exhaust, I take a few more runs up and down the hill than necessary; it’s that kind of car on this kind of road…

    But then, what else were we expecting? The marriage of Schnitzer’s talents and the M240i make for a five star car; of course they do. Every element of potential critique in the M240i has been addressed, so you have a more visually alluring package that sounds better, goes better and is a more pleasing place to sit thanks to the array of Schnitzer interior trim parts. And whilst we understand that the cosmetics are not to everybody’s taste, if we were to pick and choose, the performance and chassis elements are absolutely worth having, taking the M240i on to a level of performance and driving enjoyment to worry an M2.

    CONTACT: AC Schnitzer UK
    Tel: 01485 542000 Web: AC Schnitzer (Germany)
    Tel: +49 (0) 241 5688130

    All of the usual M240i traits are in situ, with the volume turned up to 11. There’s more precision, more control and more grip to manage the extra performance

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #AC-Schnitzer-ACS2-4.0i-Coupé / #ACS2-4.0i-Coupé / #AC-Schnitzer-M240i / #2017 / #BMW-F22 / #BMW-M240i-Coupé / #BMW-M240i-Coupé-F22 / #BMW-M240i-F22 / #BMW / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS2-4.0i-Coupé-F22 / #AC-Schnitzer-F22 / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F22 / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe-F22 / #BMW-M240i-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-M240i-AC-Schnitzer-F22 / #AC-Schnitzer / #ACS2-F22 /

    ENGINE: Twin-scroll turbo, straight-six, 24-valve / #BMW-N55 / #N55 / #N55-AC-Schnitzer /
    CAPACITY: 2998cc
    MAX POWER: 400hp @ 6000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 443lb ft @ 3000rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.6 seconds
    50-120MPH: 8.6 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)


    ENGINE: AC Schnitzer performance upgrade (additional control unit) AC Schnitczer engine optics
    ENGINE: AC Schnitzer tailpipe, Sport black
    WHEELS AND TYRES: AC Schnitzer AC1 BiColour wheels, 8.5x19-inches (front and rear) with 235/35 R19 Continental WinterContact tyres all-round
    SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer ‘Racing’ package, lowered 45mm at the front and 50mm at the rear, adjustable bump and rebound
    STYLING: AC Schnitzer carbon front spoiler elements, upper rear spoiler, carbon rear spoiler, carbon fibre wing mirror covers, rear skirt protection film
    INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer aluminium pedal set and footrest, handbrake handle, key holder and floor mats

    The thunderous energy the #AC-Schnitzer-ACS2 demonstrates in the mid-range leaves you in no doubt: an M2 would be easy meat.
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  •   Elizabeth reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    A trip to the track for the E46 M3, Mark Williams indulges his inner racing driver and Andy Everett takes on a bit of a project.

    E46 M3

    This month’s highlight? Easy… as you’ll see in an upcoming issue of BMW Car, I visited Spa Francorchamps to attend the RSR Spa ( track day in early November to learn about the Modified vs Standard programme in its E92 M3s; and whilst you can read about that escapade elsewhere, this also presented the opportunity for some valuable track time for this Spa virgin. So naturally, I grabbed the keys to the M3 instead of the 330d on my way to the ferry…

    I’ve got a fair amount of track experience, but having never driven Spa before it seemed sensible to try and familiarise myself with the track as much as possible before heading out in RSR’s E92 M3. Apart from a day spent drifting around Bruntingthorpe when it was still owned by the friend I bought it from, this would be my first chance to sample the M3’s abilities on track, and there was an exotic array of machinery in the pits to tussle with. Or in the case of the myriad McLarens, GT Porsches and Ferraris on show, get destroyed by…

    People talk about Eau Rouge as the most challenging corner at Spa, and quite rightfully so as the gradient accelerates you down the hill on approach, then you are required to brake and change direction whilst experiencing heavy positive G as the gradient transitions up the other side into Raidillon corner (technically, Eau Rouge isn’t a corner at all, but the small stream that runs under the track, Raidillon being the right-hander in the heart of the complex). But if you want to feel that adrenaline spike of fear, try taking the Blanchimont double left hander as fast as you dare, with an honourable mention to Pouhon – another double left which builds speed throughout. With a decent run out of the previous corner, the E46 was approaching Blanchimont well over 125mph, stealing some of the outer run-off to straighten the corner, and turning in beyond 115mph – if you get it wrong here, it’s going to be a big one. Jolly exciting though.

    And whilst the M3 was blown away by the £200k club, it acquitted itself brilliantly. For a road car, it resisted understeer well, demonstrating a lovely balance through the third and fourth gear bends of Spa. There was a group of VW Beetle racing cars racking up some valuable track time on the day, and it was really good fun dicing with these – 340hp ate up the 150hp sportsters down the straights, but the corners closed things up a bit. Mindful of the M car’s reputation for inadequate braking on track, I went pretty easy on the middle pedal and they stood up remarkably well, with no fade and a nice, consistent feel. As it’s primarily a road car, I have no quarrel with managing the brakes a bit, but there are plans to try some small tweaks in future…
    Overall, I’m very impressed at how enjoyable the M3 was on track. The communicative, balanced chassis encouraged me to really get the most out of it, provoking a little slide to get the car turned into a corner, using all the track on exit to keep things neat whilst the second gear chicane encouraged a slow, indulgent oversteer exit. This probably explains the pair of Contisport Contacts I had fitted upon returning home.

    Whilst much of the paddock were busy packing their semi-race cars on to trailers or contemplating a noisy journey home, the M3 adeptly slipped back into its road car role, comfortably consuming Belgium and France, leaving me well rested after an energetic day on track. The M3 felt no different than it had on the journey out. And Eau Rouge? Terrifying, of course, but what a corner, and the M3 had the measure of those pesky Beetles down the following straight. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m rather smitten with the M3…

    CAR: #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46

    YEAR: #2002
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 85,935
    MPG THIS MONTH: 26.4
    TOTAL COST: £306 (tyres)
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