E46 BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
The 330Ci is a fantastic machine, but with a supercharger strapped to its straight-six, it’s even better. For those not lucky enough to be able to afford a weekly runaround, compromise is something many BM owners have had to accept. Well compromising need no longer mean settling for less, as Harv Singh’s supercharged E46 330Ci demonstrates. Words: Joel Newman. Photos: Matt Barnes.
When your good friend and cousin is Kav Bhamra, the owner of one of the finest E46 330Cis on the UK scene, what little money you do have is certainly hard to cling on to!
Harv Singh, a 27-year-old IT systems analyst, has found out that chasing perfection needn’t be costly though, and can be a hugely rewarding business. Like a rolling snowball, his car has gathered a huge selection of custom Hamann parts over the past two years. But, like most modified cars this re-style was never really planned. “It has just kind of happened, I guess. I see things I like, whether online or through my friends, then I try to find them for reasonable money. I love a good deal so often I’ll buy things even if at the time I can’t afford to fit them,” explains Harv.
Unlike many of the other modified BMs on the UK scene, this is no chequebook car. “I have had to work very hard to pay for every addition I have made, but, I think people who just pay to have their cars modified are missing the point. They don’t get half the satisfaction I do,” Harv says.
He’s quite right too; in our experience all the best feature cars have taken years to create, and often arise through owner dedication over and above a bottomless bank account.
This supercharged E46 330Ci is Harv’s second BMW. His first, an E36 328i Sport, was bought when he was an impoverished student. With the limited money he did have, he managed to upgrade the alloys to 19” Hartge Classics and improve the suspension with Eibach springs. Although modifications were not extensive, the car cemented Harv’s relationship with BMW, and provided him with enough passion and inspiration to take the next step into the tuning scene. Straight from university Harv found employment, and within six months had purchased, what is to date, one of the most perfectly proportioned Threes I’ve ever laid eyes on: an Estoril blue, 330Ci Clubsport.
Harv purchased the car for a variety of reasons and is often asked why he didn’t choose an E46 M3. Surely by now, after all these mods he must have paid well over the asking price of the Motorsport coupé? Harv laughs: “You’re probably right, I have paid far more than the asking price of an M3, but what people forget time and time again is the running costs. As a daily driver the E46 M3 just isn’t practical. With the miles I do, the servicing and running costs are far higher than my 330Ci. It’s just more economical, even with the supercharger. I also don’t feel I could have made the M3 as beautiful as I have made my car, well not without selling the house!” Harv, you could just be right.
As with most of our feature cars, Harv never intended to go this far, it just sort of spiralled out of control. Ironically, the whole process was kicked off because of a fault with the car when Harv found the original 18” factory split rims had corroded on the inside. The wheels, the previous owner assured, were covered under BMW’s anticorrosion policy. It turns out he was right, so the car was sent to BMW and a few days later a gleaming set of new rims adorned every arch. With the good fortune of having been gifted four shiny alloys Harv decided to sell them and put the money towards a set of 19s. So, with the help of Hamann, he settled for 19” HM2s, sourced by friend Scotty from Chapel Tyres. These wheels are by no means common, and what separates them is their width. At 10” a piece, Harv reckons these are the widest rears on any E46 330Ci in the UK. Standing behind the car I have to say I’m inclined to agree.
With such wide rims Harv couldn’t simply pop them on so the arches were rolled by Style Dynamics to accommodate all that new rubber. With the wheels no longer rubbing, Harv and Kav set about fitting Boge lowering springs and four-pot racing calipers so the stance and stopping potential of the car would match the epic wheel proportions. Kav is in fact such a dab hand with all things BMW that he managed to do this on Harv’s front driveway! He then installed Generation 2 angel eyes, which he purchased through Teddy Hsu at SSDD Motorsport.
To improve performance on went a Supersprint twin exhaust system, stainless steel back-box and GruppeM-style carbon fibre induction kit. At the rear of the car facelift LEDs were fitted, which was not as easy as it may sound. In truth, Harv had to take the car to Jason from B&W Chip Tune so the ECU could be recalibrated to accept the new lights, a time-consuming exercise but one that really freshens up the coupé.
Subtle detailing such as the Projector indicators and upgraded silver bulbs also add a new dimension to this Three.
As previously mentioned Harv was not in a position to fully customise his ride in one fell swoop. Therefore, like many modifiers, he acquired different body parts as and when they appeared online. Our man had no real strategy, just an insistence on buying genuine items for bargain prices, which is not an easy task at the best of times!
Nonetheless, like a squirrel preparing for winter, Harv gathered, mostly from eBay, an original E46 CSL boot lid, E46 M3 front bumper and bonnet, and full black leather E46 M3 interior. Kav once again got right on the case, installing the new Nappa leather.
To save money on paintwork and before Harv had the car resprayed he realised that now was the time to purchase any additional body parts. After much discussion and many an hour on www.e36coupe.com Harv decided to go with Hamann once again, this time ordering GTR sideskirts, carbon fibre front splitter, brake duct mouldings and genuine M3 electric fold-up mirrors.
Des, a friend of Harv’s took on the job of fitting and fabricating the new parts. Most went on without issue, but as those of you familiar with original M3 body parts will know, they don’t simply bolt on to the 330Ci.
In fact, Des had to remove at least 2” either side of the front bumper just to get it to fit comfortably, and to fit the M3 bonnet needed to adjust and realign the front arches. The finish is flawless and the car genuinely looks like it’s fresh from the factory. There are no ill-fitting lines or minor disharmonies so common when modifiers stray from OEM parts. It could be Harv’s stringent policy of sticking with genuine Hamann items for the exterior body styling that makes this project such a success. It is wonderful to see BMWs that look like BMWs, especially when they are sharper, in our opinion, than the original design.
Our day’s photoshoot with the car took place on an airfield, a setting that attracts clientele who, how can I say it, are filthy rich! Even in these upper echelons of society amateur pilots continually wandered over to get a closer look. And they didn’t even know about the supercharger!
Let’s get back to the car. Harv considered his project complete once Des handed over the keys but things like superchargers don’t just happen, do they? The facts are as follows. An Evotechnik member decided to de-mod his car in order to sell it. He mentioned on the forum that his ’charger was for sale on a first come, first serve basis. Music to Harv’s (and let’s be honest Kav’s) ears. A few phone calls later and Harv had secured it, but there was a catch, as he explains: “He told me I had to un-install the part myself so I gave Kav a call. He went down there and got on with removing it.
Surprisingly it came out without hassle.” Due to work commitments Harv was required to go to the US just days after acquiring his new toy but he was so excited that he decided to have the supercharger installed while he was away, hoping he could collect it on his return. However, with the project running so smoothly it was only a matter of time before Harv would reach a stumbling block, and this was it. The garage informed him that his new supercharger had seized and that his car was not only taking up room but was undrivable. The following few days were a nightmare, with Harv on and off the phone to Infinitus, the manufacturer of the original supercharger.
Fortunately the previous owner had driven over to Germany to see it installed in his car personally and as such the company were well aware of this particular ’charger’s existence. Pure luck was on the side of Harv because during the period of complaint, the firm was busy testing Alpina superchargers. Harv’s insistence paid off because a few days, and many phone calls later with the huge workload the Infinitus boys had on, manager Dirk Ochmann decided to send Harv a brand new supercharger, replacing the failed unit.
That’s right, brand new! The part was shipped directly to the garage holding the car and within days it was fitted.
Harv arrived home to a car whose looks were now backed up by its performance. In fact at 300bhp Harv has got himself a really potent 330Ci that doubles up as an everyday cruiser. The sound alone is worthy of a Grammy, a deep burble harmonising with a high-pitched wail when he floors the throttle, music to any petrolhead’s ears.
Harv explains: “The new performance is perfect; it’s fast, immediate to respond and unique. The supercharger has been my best modification to date, it’s transformed the car.”
To complete the project Kav convinced Harv to update the cabin and fit a full CSL weave carbon interior pack, the perfect accompaniment to the M3 leather. With the aid of Ben Sweetman of Chromeline Design the car’s styling was complete.
Harv’s car has really impressed us. Instead of the E46 M3 wannabe we had pictured what he’s actually done is far more appealing. A subtle, classically styled Three that does not need to boast via exaggerated arches or quad exhaust tailpipes. In my opinion, if the M3 were a person it would be brash, slightly crude and annoyingly wealthy; think Michael Carrol Lotto lout.
Harv’s Hamann styled 330Ci is a far cry from the ASBO generation. A svelte, potent, yet reserved character more akin to James Bond. This is the kind of car that 007 might drive when the Aston’s in the garage, and that, I’m sure you will agree, is never a bad thing.
DRIVE-MY’s new waistcoats went down a treat with Harv and Joel. Only a slightly better option than being run over by a plane.
DATA FILE SUPERCHARGED #BMW-330Ci-E46
ENGINE: 3.0-litre six-cylinder, #Infinitas-SK+
Supercharger, Infinitus air filter, carbon fibre engine cover, Supersprint twin stainless steel exhaust system with 80mm tips
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear), #Hamann-HM2
s shod in 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rears) with Dunlop Sport 9000 tyres, 12mm Spacers up front, #FK-Highsport
coilovers suspension kit, #ATE
4-pot calipers (front) with Hamann decals, AC Schnitzer-style front strut brace
EXTERIOR: OEM E46 M3 front bumper, #Active-Autowerkes
M3-style bumper mesh, OEM E46 M3 bonnet, Hamann carbon fibre front splitter, Chromeline Design carbon fibre kidney grille, #Hamann-GTR
side skirts, OEM E46 M3 electric fold-up mirrors, Hamann brake duct covers, sport rear bumper with colour-coded diffuser, OEM CSL boot lid, SSDD black projector indicators with silver bulbs, OEM xenon headlight conversion, Generation 2 CCFL angel eyes, OEM LED rear light clusters
INTERIOR: Full M3 black Nappa leather, Chromeline Design carbon fibre dash kit and upper steering wheel section (CSL weave), Hamann handbrake handle, Hamann gear knob, Hamann carbon fibre door trims
ICE: Pioneer head unit with 12-disc changer, Harmon Kardon factory upgrade speaker system
THANKS: Kav Bhamra for ongoing advice and help with fitting, Des for all the painting of the external modifications, Jason of B&W Chiptune, Ben of Chromeline Design, Teddy of SSDD Motorsport, E36coupe.com and Evotechnik forum members for ongoing guidance and support, Infinitas in Germany, my family for putting up with my addiction!
19” Hamann HM2s look outstanding alongside the ATE 4-pot calipers and genuine Hamann decals Left: Full M3 interior adds a touch of class and provides additional support with the incresed power.
Infinitas SK + supercharger dominates the engine bay while carbon fibre engine covers and AC Schnitzer-stlye front strut brace turn something already beautiful into a work of art.
AT 300BHP HARV HAS GOT HIMSELF A REALLY POTENT 330CI THAT DOUBLES UP AS AN EVERYDAY CRUISER. THE SOUND ALONE IS WORTHY OF A GRAMMY .