- Post is under moderationPEAK PERFORMANCE
C2K Motorsports’ stunning, supercharged Santorini #E92-M3 is about as good as it gets. It doesn’t get much better than a supercharged #E92 #M3 , and they don’t get much better than this. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Crooks Life Photography.
Modified M4s are starting to become popular and they’re looking really good, but then you come across an E92 M3 that looks like this, a car that’s pretty much achieved motoring perfection, and you can’t help but wonder if any M4 will ever look this good…
The lucky man who’s been able to experience this BMW nirvana is Curt Wilson, pilot and aerospace engineer by trade and owner of C2K Motorsports. Unless you don’t know what an internet is, you will be familiar with this particular E92 M3 because it’s been enjoying life in the spotlight across social media for some time now, and with good reason. Take a good, long look at those pictures and you will fall in love with this E92 M3. Everything from the colour, that vivid shade of Santorini blue, to the aggressive aerodynamic additions and those stunning HRE wheels combines to create one of the most striking and visually delightful E92 M3s that we’ve ever seen.
Curt’s BMW journey actually began just eight years ago, though his passion for cars is most definitely long-standing, as the 30-year-old Las Vegas resident explains: “As a teenager I was into the import street racing scene. My first car was a #2001 #Toyota-Celica , which I built with a custom turbo kit and eventually blew up. My next car was a Dodge Neon SRT-4 with a 60 trim turbo making over 400whp. I then got into autocross and road course racing and purchased a Honda S2000 which, to this day, is one of my favourite cars! BMW has always been an iconic brand to me. I envied the E36 and #E46 M3s as I was growing up. The sound/performance of the straight-six motor, the aggressive stance and luxury yet motorsport-inspired design confirmed the phrase ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’. I remember as a kid I used to work as a field hand for a pilot whose hobby was growing tobacco. He drove a red 318i with manual gearbox that he would drive me and my friends home in. It was the coolest car I had ever ridden in! I was unable to afford a BMW until after I had started my career which only made my long-awaited ownership that much more euphoric. Having come from a street racer background the twin-turbo straight-six was the Holy Grail of performance. When I heard details about the new N54 motor in the E90 335i I knew I had to own one. I bought my first #BMW in #2007 in the form of a #E90 335i.”
This 335i was followed by another #335i , a #135i , an #E93 335i Convertible and also an #E60 #M5 with a Corsa exhaust, which, says Curt “made the most glorious noise of any of my cars but was just too big and had obscene gas consumption”. His time spent looking at M3s in his youth was not forgotten, though, and when he caught wind of BMW Individual and European delivery, he realised that an E9x M3 built to his exact specification in his ideal colour was within his reach. “I’m an active online blogger and Bimmerpost member,” he says. “I always aspired to one day build an inspirational project car like the insane builds that I had admired in various posts and publications. I remember seeing a few spy shots of a special UK edition colour for the #E92 M3 called Santorini blue. I spent hours staring at every photo I could find of the colour and decided that I must have it! I brokered an individual Euro delivery deal on a manual Santorini E92 with Speed cloth. It’s just one of eight US Santorini cars and the only one ever made with this exact spec.
Some time later I found myself in Munich after a couple months of agonising anticipation. The entire experience, from the excitement while waiting, the city of Munich, the delivery process, touring the German countryside and even driving on the Nürburgring was much more enjoyable and outright satisfying than anything I could have imagined. After the trip I had an affinity and connection with the car that eclipsed any reservations that would prevent me from building it exactly how I wanted it to be,” and so Curt began to do just that.
If you own an E92 M3 then you pretty much need to supercharge it, it’s almost like an unspoken rule, and ESS are the go-to guys when it comes to strapping blowers to the #S65 V8, so that’s exactly where Curt went. “I wanted to retain linear and useable power delivery that could match the upgraded suspensions/brakes/wheels and knew that I couldn’t reach my HP goals without forced induction. The ESS VT-1 supercharger system was the obvious choice due to their quality, reliability and customer support.” The ‘entry-level’ ESS kit is anything but basic, delivering enough power to make you sit up and take notice, but the centrifugal supercharger retains the same linear power delivery as the engine in standard form, meaning it feels similar to drive, just much quicker, the main difference being there’s a lot more power being delivered at every step in the rev range. How much power? Well, Curt says the car now makes 550whp with 330lb ft at the wheels on regular unleaded, which is around 600hp at the flywheel and a serious gain over the standard 420hp.
Every E9x M3 also deserves a performance exhaust because it makes them sound so damn good, and here Curt has opted for a full ESS Tuning system, complete with high-flow cats and thermal coating. With a lot more go, Curt’s M3 also needed a lot more stop and so he turned to StopTech, manufacturer of fine and rather large BBKs, and opted for the beefy ST-60 six-pot front calipers with mighty 380mm drilled discs and at the rear you’ll find the ST-40 four-pot caliper kit with 355mm discs, also drilled, which is big enough to serve as a front kit on some cars. The finishing touch was a flourish of Ferrari yellow paint to make them stand out and it was job done. We’d say the E9x M3 is a not a car that is particularly wheel sensitive – it’s very hard to pick a set that doesn’t look good and Curt’s selection here looks absolutely awesome on this E92 M3. “HRE was my first and only choice,” he says. “Its reputation and quality is unsurpassed in the high-end sports car community. I wanted a lightweight wheel with a design that was not too far from OEM appearance but with a special colour which is why I chose the FF01 in custom ‘Fog’ textured finish. I had a hard time letting go of my OEM GTS wheels but as soon as I saw the car with the HREs installed I knew I’d made the right choice!”
The FF01 is part of HRE’s FlowForm range and it’s a stunning-looking wheel, with its sculpted, twin seven-spoke design, slight concave shape and impeccable attention to detail. And the Fog finish really is the icing on the cake, a sort of matt, sparkling graphite that looks almost velvety. It was an inspired choice and the wheels look absolutely gob-smacking on the #BMW-M3 . They measure 9x19” up front and 10.5x19” at the back and are wrapped in seriously wide Toyo Proxes T1 Sport rubber – 255/35 up front and 295/30 at the rear with not an ounce of stretch in sight, it’s all about front-end grip and rear-end traction with this setup, with a Treadwear tyre lettering kit adding the finishing touch.
The suspension choice is also all about performance, though it has given this E92 M3 a purposeful drop, with a KW Clubsport coilover kit nestling in the wheel arches, offering two-way damping and adjustment and complete with EDC emulators, which prevent the EDC warning coming up on the dash when you switch to an aftermarket suspension setup. “The KW Clubsport kit is my favourite modification on the car,” enthuses Curt. “It changed the dynamic of the M3 more than any other aspect. The stance, stiffness and feedback that the clubsports gave the car are all vital aspects that I have come to supremely appreciate. Full coilovers will be the first modification on any of my future cars.”
With such an awesome exterior colour on top of the M3’s rugged good looks, Curt rightly didn’t want to go OTT when it came to any styling additions and his choices help to give the #BMW-E92 some more visual punch, upgrading it from a right hook to an all-out, KO blow uppercut. “I chose a relatively new company at the time, Mode Carbon, for my aero-kit,” he explains. “It makes an excellent GT4 style front lip, unique carbon fibre side skirts and rear LM series diffuser. Their fitment and quality was spot-on and since my first purchases from the company it has grown to be one of the most well-respected and recognised carbon fibre companies in the BMW and #Mercedes community.”
The carbon front splitter looks aggressive and lets you know that this M3 really means business. The rear wing isn’t shy either and the carbon additions tie in perfectly with the whole black and blue theme that Curt has got going on across the whole car, which includes the black towing strap, custom ONEighty NYC headlights and black exhaust tips peeking out from that rear diffuser. Inside, Curt has kept the same theme going with some heavy-duty upgrades that don’t leap out and smack you in the face. “I chose Stätus racing seats due to their wide variety of customisable made-to-order options. Initially I ordered the Ring FiA seats which were extremely snug but I eventually exchanged them for the wider GTX variant which is much more comfortable for my 6’3” 200lb frame.
“I ordered black suede with Santorini blue stitching. The suede seats match the Alcantara BMW performance steering wheel and knob with custom suede shift and e-brake boots. The final interior modification was a roll-cage from Autopower Industries which was moulded into the stock rear interior and painted black to retain the subtle and refined luxury of the original BMW interior.” The singlepiece seats are serious but don’t look out of place and that roll-cage is incredibly subtle thanks to its black finish and the Santorini highlights are the perfect finishing touch.
Curt says that he spared no expense on the modifications and it shows, his car wants for nothing and he loves it but he remains humble despite the fact that the car has become something of an international online celebrity. “The car is very popular on Instagram and one of my favourite and most humbling compliments is when people from all over the world send me images of exact replicas of the car that they have built in video games. It really means a lot to me that people like the car enough to take the time to replicate it down to minute details such as the sponsors on my time attack doorcard.” We’ve seen a lot of modified E9x M3s here at BMW towers over the years, all of them incredible machines but the fact that every once in a while, one comes along that still manages to wow us is the most incredible thing of all, and we couldn’t be happier about that.
Gorgeous HRE FF01 flow formed wheels in Fog finish suit the M3 perfectly and the Treadwear tyre lettering kit adds some visual flair; monster StopTech BBK offers serious stopping power. Interior has been treated to Stätus Racing Ring GTX seats with Santorini stitching and Schroth harnesses plus an Autopower Industries roll-cage; ESS VT-1 550 supercharger boasts carbon intake plenum.
DATA FILE #BMW-M3-E92
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 4.0-litre V8 #S65B40 , ESS Tuning #VT-1 550 Supercharger system with limited production carbon fibre plenum, ESS Tuning full exhaust system with high flow cats and thermal coating, standard six-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS: 9x19” ET25 (front) and 10.5x19” ET26 (rear) HRE FF01 wheels in Fog finish with 255/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) #Toyo Proxes T1 Sport tyres, Treadwear tyre lettering kit, MRG Race Co titanium racing stud conversion, KW Clubsport two-way adjustable suspension with EDC emulators, #StopTech ST-60 #BBK with 380mm drilled discs (front) and ST-40 BBK with 355mm drilled discs (rear), calipers painted Ferrari yellow (front and rear).
EXTERIOR: Mode Carbon GT4 front lip spoiler, Mode Carbon carbon fibre side skirt extensions, Mode Carbon LM Series rear diffuser, Mode Carbon GTS rear spoiler, #ONEighty NYC custom headlights, iND Blackout grilles/ gills/bonnet vents, iND tow strap and painted tow strap cover, Car-Pro C-Quartz compounding and paint correction.
INTERIOR: Stätus Racing Ring GTX seats in Ultra Suede with Santorini blue stitching, Autopower Industries bolt-in Racing roll-cage, Schroth Racing quickset fourpoint harnesses, #BMW-Performance steering wheel, BMW Performance gear knob, custom suede gear lever and handbrake gaiters.
THANKS: Sam and Nick at Mode Carbon, Roman at ESS Tuning, Greg, Laurent, and Jorge at HRE Wheels, Stan at Toyo Tires, George at KW Suspensions, Matt at Status Racing, Theo and Corey at The Specialist Detail Studio, BMW David at Steve Thomas BMW, Jimmy at Crooks Life Photography, Todd at Trophy Performance and my wife for putting up with my obsession.
Carbon galore adorns the E92 M3 with a front lip spoiler, side skirts, rear diffuser and wing all coming from Mode Carbon; custom ONEighty headlights are very smart.
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- Post is under moderationCAR #BMW #E82 #135i
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 2032
TOTAL MILEAGE: 71,815
MPG THIS MONTH: 32.4
COST THIS MONTH:
Forge intercooler #BMW-E82 (£739.95)
This month has been an exciting one. Over the Christmas break I took the car to my good friend's garage and had him fit the Burger Tuning JB4 at long last! Having read the very detailed online fitting instructions it did seem a little daunting but the installation turned out to be far easier than I expected and it was actually a relatively straightforward process.
After removing the plastic trims by the scuttle panel to gain access to the ECU connections, it was then just a matter of sliding the plugs out of their holders and fitting the correct T-piece connector looms that come with the JB4. There were then a couple more intricate pin changes to the power supply plug. This was slightly more involved in my case as I had also opted to fit a Burger Tuning-supplied 2Step relay module. This clever addon enabled the launch control and full-throttle gear change features and it only cost £25, so I decided it made sense to fit it at the same time. The whole process from start to finish took around 30 minutes, which I thought was pretty good going. Then it was just a matter of going for a drive and getting to grips with the controls, options and features.
My first impressions are that it is by far the most impressive piece of integration I’ve ever seen for an aftermarket modification. Having owned and built plenty of modified cars over the years it puts a whole new angle on what tuning has become for modern cars. The JB4’s ability to seamlessly interact with the car’s existing displays and controls that then allow it to control certain features of both the car and engine is truly astounding. I understand, of course, that this is largely due to the car's own very clever CANbus wiring, but nonetheless you can’t help but be thoroughly impressed.
To access the settings, you simply press both the minus buttons either side of the steering wheel that usually control volume and radio station together. Then, the speedo and rev gauge are ‘hijacked’, now displaying what the JB4 is doing. It does this even when on the move and by using the same steering wheel controls you are then able to scroll through the various and very clever options.
How clever is it? I’ve read about the features before but actually using them is different. First up the JB4 enables you to choose one of eight maps that each give varying levels of power and tune as you’re driving along. Impressive, but then there’s the ability to set the car’s hazard warning light arrows to act as a shift light, and you can set at what RPM they come on. These don’t display outside of the car, only on the dashboard. Or how about permanently opening the secondary valve in the exhaust’s back box that usually opens only at certain times for a deeper engine note? Or hijacking the fuel gauge to display boost or ignition timing. It takes just minutes to get used to and provides hours of fun, as I’ve found out.
And then comes the performance. I found out something interesting before I fitted the JB4, and that was that my car already had a remap. I’ll be honest, I suspected it might have done but I wasn’t sure. It certainly felt a little peaky but having never driven a standard car I had nothing to compare it to. As I wanted a clean slate to start from with the JB4 I opted to have a standard map file loaded back onto the car via the OBD port and after doing so it made the car feel noticeably slower.
So what’s it like now? In Map 1, which is just slightly more boost over standard, it feels much livelier than it ever did before. It picks up quicker and the initial wave of torque arrives with notably more force. It seems to hold the power for longer, too. Then there’s Map 5, which is the selflearning setting that tailors itself to the car’s conditions, taking into account the quality of fuel, how cold it is and so on. In this mode the car feels positively electric. It punches harder and with more urgency and then, when you think it’s done, it seems to inject a second, huge wave of torque as you approach the redline and it genuinely forces you back in the seat.
In this mode it feels quick, very quick. It's amazing to think there is nothing else done to the car other than this clever box of tricks that took just 30 minutes to fit. I’m now itching to see how much of a gain it has made on the dyno and I’m very curious to see how it will perform in conjunction with other modifications.
The only downside I’ve found so far is the slightly annoying fact you can’t change from Map 8, which is the economy mode with no boost at all, to another map whilst driving, whereas all the others you can. Instead, you have to stop and turn the engine off. It’s not a big deal but I would be interested to see how much difference Map 8 makes on a long run but I wouldn’t want to be stuck in it for 40 miles until a service station came up where I could pull over. Other than that, I genuinely can’t fault it. I simply wish I had done it sooner!
In other news, after much debate I’ve also taken the plunge and ordered an uprated intercooler from Forge Motorsport. The prospect of choosing an uprated intercooler for a #BMW-135i-E82 – or any car for that matter – can be a daunting one, I find. There are so many on the market to choose from and prices vary so dramatically it’s hard to tell which are the good, the bad and the ugly. For instance, I searched all over and found intercoolers from China for a third of the cost of an identical looking item from America. It soon appeared that there were, in fact, plenty of American companies offering intercoolers that seemed like good deals for the money but by the time import duty, which is calculated in relation to the value of the item, and delivery was added, that price wasn’t quite so appealing. I also scanned the forums and looked for advice, which also seemed to vary massively, so I simply went with what I knew would be good and chose a Forge item.
The main reasons for my selection were because I’d used their products before on a past project and loved the high-class fit and feel. Plus they had performed impeccably on previous turbocharged cars I had owned. Forge has been in the business a long time and it is also a UK-based company, which I prefer. This was because I was concerned over horror stories of damaged or even lost parcels, something I wanted to avoid on an item that’s quite fragile.
So I ventured onto the forgemotorsport. co. uk website and ordered one of its uprated replacement intercoolers. It’s actually designed to fit both the #BMW-135i and 335i models and although it features a much larger core, it doesn’t require any cutting or trimming of the plastics, which is what I wanted. It’s also a direct fit so no modifications or extra brackets have to be added at all and it even attaches to the standard #BMW type hose clips to make fitting easier.
At the time of writing the intercooler has only just arrived as some products are built to order and it won’t be fitted until next month but I couldn’t resist taking it out of the box for a quick look. As expected, the quality and finish look superb and I love the machined ends. I am looking forward to having it fitted next month and seeing what a difference it makes.
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- Post is under moderationCar #BMW-E24 #M635CSi
The MINI departs for pastures new, the #M6 gets a new set of alloys and the #135i has come in for a dose of heavy tuning.
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 48
TOTAL MILEAGE: 161,454
MPG THIS MONTH: 21.9
TOTAL COST: £415 (wheels and tyres)
Having put a few miles under the M6’s wheels since I got it I had come to the conclusion that the metric rims and #Michelin-TRX rubber were going to have to go. On the one hand they do look absolutely perfect on the car and I’ve yet to see a Six on alternative rims that looks so quintessentially ‘right’ as a TRX-shod machine. The flip side of the coin is that the tyres are ferociously expensive, hard to come by and offer about as much grip in the wet as worn-out trainers on sheet ice. While this can be quite entertaining at times it does limit one’s progress and if you happen to forget what car you’re driving as you negotiate a roundabout it can be a little unnerving having to apply a liberal dose of opposite lock to keep things on the straight and narrow.
Thus the search for a set of nonmetric rims was on the cards. The original wheels are about 16.3 inches in diameter so as far as I’m concerned the best wheels to fit are a set of 16s as to my mind this wasn’t a car that was designed with bigger rims in mind. 17s might fill the arches better but I’m more concerned with ride quality and handling balance than the ultimate in aesthetics. And perhaps most crucially so many E24s now run on the 17-inch cross-spoke threepiece Style 5 wheels, as fitted to the #E31 8 Series and the #E39 Five, that I wanted to do something a little different while still aiming for a vestige of originality in the looks department. I toyed with the idea of Alpinas but in the end decided these look better on a pre-Highline Six than the later cars. #E28 M5 16-inch cross-spokes would be perfect but are as rare as unicorns and as expensive, too. I spent ages on the bigcoupe.com wheels and tyres forum looking at what other folk had done but every time I clicked my browser window shut I felt I hadn’t got any closer to alloy nirvana for F570.
And then I had my epiphany in Munich Legends’ car park. Sitting there was an #E24 #BMW-M635CSi sitting on a set of 16-inch cross-spoke alloys that I was pretty sure were from an E38 7 Series and also one of the optional wheels fitted to the #E39 Five. Some research confirmed that the wheel had been available on both cars – 8x16- inch on the #E38 and 7x16-inch on the E39. Whichever one I went for I would need to fit lower profile rubber in order to keep the speedo reading correctly and while the E38 rims have the correct centre bore their offset is ever so slightly wrong for a 6 Series. After some digging it transpired that some owners who had fitted these reported that the tyres could foul the front suspension leg. E39 rims bring their own problems in that the centre bore is the incorrect size, although this can be easily solved with a set of spigot rings.
Now I’d decided what I wanted it was a case of trawling the classifieds and keeping a close eye on eBay. Being a bit of a skinflint I missed out on a couple of sets but eventually a third set popped up on my daily eBay search. What made this set particularly attractive was that they already had tyres of the correct size fitted as the seller had used them on an #E34 #535i Sport when he’d ditched the metrics. They were originally from an E38 and the seller confirmed that while they were pretty close to the front suspension leg when fitted to the E34 there wasn’t any fouling. It seems that depending on the brand of tyres fitted the shoulders of some makes bulge out further than others and it’s the tyre rather than the rim that can foul the leg. I felt I’d done my due diligence and determined not to miss out I put in a fairly high bid and waited somewhat impatiently for the auction to end. I was pleasantly surprised a week later to discover that I was the winner for the sum of £415 which wasn’t too bad, especially given the Falken Ziex 225/50 rubber fitted had only done 200 miles or so and were effectively brand-new.
I sallied forth to Gloucestershire to pick them up and while not unmarked they did seem to be in very decent condition and the tyres were, indeed, almost brand-new. Once I’d got them home I needed to pop them into the Six so I could pop over to BM Sport (bmsport. com or 020 8304 9797) to have them fitted. This was easier said than done as I could only squeeze two of the wheels into the boot and had to pop the other two on the back seat with old coats protecting the leather.
I could have fitted the wheels myself with the aid of a trolley jack but I wanted to have a detailed look at how close they were going to be to the front suspension leg. And when the car was up on the ramp it would also give me a chance to have a look at the ghastly exhaust that’s currently fitted as I wasn’t sure on exactly how much of the original system remained. As ever the chaps at BM Sport were fast and efficient and it seemed like only a matter of minutes before the metrics were off and the new Style 5s were on the car. They are quite tight by the front suspension leg but don’t actually foul and I’m really rather pleased with the way they look. On the road they’re a bit of a revelation being a lot quieter and significantly grippier than the TRXs. Obviously the Falkens don’t offer the ultimate grip of Pilot Sports or Conti SportContacts but by my reckoning you don’t want anything too grippy on an old chassis like the #BMW E24 as it wasn’t designed with this sort of grip in mind. And a bit of slip is entertaining, no?
Just not too much. Overall I’m really very pleased with the new wheels and tyres, although Mrs H is less delighted about storing the TRXs which will be kept for the purposes of originality. Studying the exhaust when up on the ramp was less pleasing, though. I’m effectively going to need to find an original manifold back system as the new centre and rear sections just don’t look or sound quite right. I’ve yet to feel brave enough to find out exactly how much a new original system will cost – I know it’s going to be eye-watering – so I’m currently looking out for a decent used system, or perhaps thinking of having a bespoke system made up for the car. Decisions, decisions…
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- Post is under moderationThe #E24 #M635CSi gets an almost clean bill of health, the #M235i departs for pastures new, the #135i embarks on the first steps of some serious tuning plus a round up from the rest of the fleet.
I’ve spent a month with a big Six back in my life and I have to say I’ve not regretted it yet! It was with some trepidation that I headed off with #F570 to see Jags and Nigel at BM Sport (020 8304 9797, bmsportcom) to see how much of a hound I had bought and to have a look at why it was running hot in traffic. I was keen to get this latter problem sorted as soon as possible as there’s nothing worse than trying to drive a car out of London if you’re constantly living in fear of it overheating.
I dropped the Six off and waited with bated breath and eventually the call came through… and the good news was that I hadn’t bought a complete munter. Jags was almost complimentary about the car which is more or less unheard of. The chaps have given it a thorough going over and while there may be some corrosion hidden away it’s not immediately obvious which is great news – less good was the fact that it needed a new viscous fan clutch and a radiator. I was expecting the former to cure the running hot in traffic issue but to immediately have to shell out on a radiator was irritating and only goes to show that you really should take someone with you who knows what they’re looking at when buying a car. I’ve been banging on about this sort of thing in buying guides for longer than I care to remember but do I ever heed my own advice?
The top of the radiator had expanded significantly which was plain to see if I’d taken the trouble to look at it closely, and while it wouldn’t have stopped me from buying the car I would have tried to knock a few hundred quid off before buying. Still, live and learn, eh? What I did need to decide was what to fit to the M6 and it looked like I had two choices, an OEM radiator from #BMW at £320 plus VAT or a Hella one for not quite half that. In the end I decided to go for the BMW unit as I don’t have much experience of Hella when it comes to radiators and I figured if a BMW radiator had managed to last 26 years and 160k miles then it was probably the one to go for. Not wanting to spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar I went the whole hog and got an OEM fan clutch too and once these had been fitted along with a new engine breather pipe that had split and some sundry anti-freeze I was left with a bill for £700. Other items that had been noted were the front control arm bushes were starting to split, there was a small weep from a diff seal and the air-con belt was cracked.
There was no point doing anything about the latter as the car is still equipped with the R12 air-con system with which it left the factory – I’ll see about converting it to R134a but it’s not exactly a priority – so for the time being I’ve just had the air-con belt removed so it won’t do any damage if it were to snap. The diff seal can be kept an eye on and the suspension bits can wait while my wallet recovers from the cooling system repair.
It was a joy to collect the car a week or so later (the radiator had to come from Germany) and get about fully exploring its performance now that I knew it wasn’t about to split in half underneath me. Despite being separated by a scant few years from the E34 M5 that’s just left the fleet the #M6 is a very different driving experience – it does feel older, but not in a bad way. You have to concentrate more to drive it quickly and it doesn’t feel as light on its toes as the M5, but in an odd way I think I love it even more – there’s a tremendous sense of occasion when you take it out for a drive and even my kids who generally love all the new test cars with all their bells and whistles positively encourage me to take the Six out for a spin. I’ve nearly lost count of the number of thumbs up I’ve had from other road users too. Despite the financial outlay it’s fair to say that it’s been a very good month.
BMW E24 M635CSi
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 180
TOTAL MILEAGE: 161,304
MPG THIS MONTH: 20.5
TOTAL COST: £700 (radiator, fan clutch, breather pipe)
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- Post is under moderationBEYOND RETRO
Everyone loves the #BMW-2002 and this example is about as good as it gets. With fat arches, a turbo M20 under the bonnet and stance to die for, this little classic ticks just about every box.
With its super-clean lines, subtly swollen arches and M20 turbo power, this 2002 is about as good as it gets. Words: Seb de Latour. Photos: Anna Taylor.
The 2002 is a very popular car. In fact, I challenge anyone out there to not like BMW’s classic icon. Someone who doesn’t need convincing, though, is Rob Langelier, because this is his 2002 and as you may have noticed, it’s a little bit special. But it almost didn’t happen… “I was actually planning to buy a #Datsun Z,” he says. I’d like to think he says that with a hint of shame seeing as his first choice wasn’t a #BMW but then again Z cars of that vintage are pretty cool too…
But then fate stepped in, or rather his friend did, and showed Rob an ad for this very 2002 on Craigslist. Smitten the Datsun Z plan was abandoned and, $2000 later, Rob had a new car and plan for it: “My dad wanted me to keep it original but I couldn’t do that. I had a vision in my head of what I wanted it to look like and I built it.” You can’t blame his dad though, he is the man responsible for Rob’s affection for Bavarianflavoured metal, having owned two E30s before the birth of his son, with pictures of both cars on the wall of his office. We assume a picture of Rob also features in there somewhere…
The passion for BMWs definitely passed to his son though, with the young New Hampshire resident’s BMW journey beginning with an E30 (no surprise) 325iS with a blown fourth gear. But that didn’t stop Rob from falling for the classic Three. “I fell in love with the body style and when I drove the car for the first time I knew it was the one.”
That E30 remains with Rob, who bought it in his senior year of high school to learn how to work on cars, but it has been transformed somewhat over the past couple of years… “I modified the E30 before building this car; I installed air-ride, a #M50B25TU engine, shaved the engine bay, did some custom bodywork and had it resprayed in custom paint.” Nice. It shares garage space with Rob’s #2008 #135i and this 2002 completes the BMW triumvirate.
So the 2002 was destined for great things from the moment that Rob picked it up and he wasted no time in getting stuck in: “I had the car home for five minutes when I testfitted some wider wheels I had lying around the house to get an idea of what I would have to do for the flares,” he says, and more on that later, but the major part of the project was always going to be the engine. You may recall earlier in the year we featured another turbocharged 2002 and that one was running (whisper it) a #Honda-S2000 . The horror. If such interbreeding brings you out in hives, calm your blood because for his build, Rob opted to keep things Bavarian.
“I was shooting to make around 300whp, so I swapped the #M20 out of my #E30 that had been sitting for a few years and decided to turbo it as well,” explains Rob. “I installed a #Garrett turbo but I ended up blowing the motor so over the next winter I rebuilt it with new pistons and valves. In fact, I replaced pretty much every motor part with new ones except for the crank, block and rods. I installed all of the parts on the motor but for the internal work I had #R&L motors build the long block and head. I had it together for the summer to work out the rest of the kinks. It took longer then expected,” he says, “but I was trying not to cut corners or rush anything. I did run into some issues with the wiring but I was able to get them figured out with the help of one of my friends.”
The #M20B25 that now nestles in the 2002’s engine bay has had some serious work to get it to where it is now. For starters, it’s been overbored by .05, then treated to a set of Mahle pistons, a Schrick 272 cam, heavy duty rocker arms and upgraded valve springs. This has given it the necessary strengthening it needs to handle the Garrett 57mm turbo hanging off the side of it, with a Tial 38mm wastegate and a Forge BOV.
“I’m not exactly sure what I would have made and I never had the car dyno’d to find out,” says Rob, “but running at low boost and 8psi I think it would have dyno’d at around 300hp at the wheels.” So pretty much bang-on what Rob was aiming for. Helping to channel all that power to the rear wheels is a #Getrag 260 five-speed manual gearbox, which saw service in the #E28 , E30 and #E34 , and it’s mated to a Spec Stage 2 clutch with a UUC short throw shifter poking out up top. On the chassis front, the 2002 has been treated to some roll centre spacers and Ireland Engineering front coilovers with Koni inserts resulting in a drop and stance that is just about as perfect as you could hope for.
For the wheels, Rob wanted something a bit different, as he explains: “I wanted to fit some wheels that no one else had on a 2002 before. I had the wheels imported from England and stripped all the old crappy paint off and had the faces powdercoated Porsche silver and polished the lips.” The wheels in question are 16-inch Compomotive TFNs, ten-spoke, three-piece modular wheels that look absolutely perfect on the 2002, with a retro vibe to them, and the stance and fitment are bang on the money.
With the oily bits out of the way, let’s take a moment to actually look at the car. I mean, just look at it. It is drop-dead gorgeous. Everything about it looks right and the Calypso hue suits the shape so well. What’s really special about the car, though, are those arches: “I had found a Photoshop of a 2002 online that someone had done,” explains Rob, “and I fell in love with the body lines that were added like the bigger arches,” so he decided that’s what he was going to do to his 2002. “I did all of the cutting and welding of the new arches and 90% of the prep work for paint and I had one of my friends paint the car for me.”
The arches themselves are from a Mk1 VW Golf of all things and they look fantastic – lovely and fat, perfectly pumped up and just the right size. In fact, they look so right that if you didn’t know better, you’d swear the 2002 came from the factory like that. Stare at the pictures long enough, and you can’t imagine the 2002 without them. And, thanks to a bit more under-arch space, this 2002 is able to accommodate 9x16” and 9.5x16” wheels front and rear respectively, which is seriously good going on something as little as a 2002. “My favourite part of the build was the arches,” smiles Rob. “They totally changed the style of the car and made it look a lot more aggressive.”
The exterior has also been treated to a few other touches, with a more purposeful Ireland Engineering front air dam, Euro corner markers and shaved side mirrors for a clean, uncluttered look. It’s just so right and you could happily spend hours just staring at it. Much in the same way that the exterior has been kept clean and simple, so too has the interior, with Rob saying “I wanted the interior to be pretty basic: two seats, a full roll-cage and a dashboard,” and that’s exactly what we’ve got. There’s a pair of rather lovely harness-equipped Flowfit seats, a sexy Nardi steering wheel and a custom instrument cluster, with a centrally mounted 10,000rpm rev counter. There’s also the aforementioned full roll-cage and Rob has also gone to the extra trouble of fully shaving, smooth and colour-matching the floor. Now that’s attention to detail.
Sadly, while the 2002’s story will no doubt continue, it won’t be with Rob. “Over this past summer I took the turbo setup off it and ran the car NA and I just sold it recently. It’s unfortunate but I have too many projects and not enough money to keep them all on the road, so it had to go.” It’s never easy letting a car go, especially when you’ve dedicated two years of your life to make it as good as this, but at least Rob has been lucky enough to build and own something as spectacular as this 2002. He doesn’t have time to mourn his loss, though, as he’s got a new project on the go: “I’m starting back on my #E30 . I have recently begun drifting and I’m currently swapping a LS1 into it,” he says. Sounds good to us and, if this #2002 is anything to go by, it’s going to be pretty special.
M20B25 has been treated to Mahle pistons, a Schrick cam and upgraded valve springs; Garrett 57mm turbo whips up a 300whp storm.
16” three-piece Compomotive TFNs look great with polished lips and Porsche silver faces.
ENGINE: 2.5-litre straight-six #M20B25 overbored .05cc, #Mahle pistons, Schrick 272 camshaft, heavy-duty rocker arms, upgraded valve springs, #Garrett 57mm turbo, tubular exhaust manifold, Tial 38mm wastegate, #Miller W.A.R chip, Forge BOV.
TRANSMISSION: Getrag 260 five-speed manual, Spec Stage 2 Clutch, UUC short throw shifter.
CHASSIS: 9x16” (front) and 9.5x16”(rear) Compomotive TFN three-piece wheels with Porsche silver powdercoated faces and polished lips with 205/40 (front) and 215/45 (rear) Falken Azenis tyres. Ireland Engineering front coilovers with Koni insert, roll centre spacers.
EXTERIOR: Calypso red, custom wide-body using #VW MK1 Golf arch flares, Ireland Engineering front air dam, Euro corner markers, shaved mirrors.
INTERIOR: Flowfit Seats, fully shaved, smoothed and colourmatched floor, Nardi 390mm steering wheel, full roll-cage.
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