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    PAUL’S #BMW #E36 #328i

    An awful lot of talent, time and effort has been expended this month in bringing you the latest from the frontline of E36 tuning in the sunny East Midlands – although not by me, I hasten to add! Last time out I had managed to ‘fit’ my gorgeous, staggered Calibre Vintage rims, along with their decidedly non-scene Toyo Proxes R888 boots onto the 328. I want this car to handle well and I’m quite happy to upset the stance purists to achieve this. Although the broad and sticky R888s were looking superb under the arches, what wasn’t so great, however, was the tiny amount of clearance at the rear. In fact, even on a tentative crawl around the yard at my storage barn, I could hear the awful sound of tyre/arch interface. While they looked great for a few static shots, the rears were going to have to come off again to allow the arches to be properly rolled before the new back tyres would ever get under there.

    I was going to wait until my trip to the bodyshop to get this done but faced with the prospect of either running round on the stock 15-inchers for another few months or rearranging the schedule, you can guess what I did. Luckily, there are a crack group of individuals roaming the country sorting out such maladies and they’re called Arch Enemy. And, just like the A-Team – if you have a problem, and you can find them, maybe you can hire them. Actually, finding them is easy, and they’re only too happy to come out to your place. So in reality, they’re nothing like The A-Team at all – except in ability, of course!

    Arch Enemy is a group of talented souls who offer a complete mobile arch rolling, flaring and pulling service, depending on your ride. Happy to come out to wherever you are, and handily geographically spaced, they can make short work of any arch issues, whilst keeping your ride in tip-top condition. My local agent was Adam Sircar, who kindly popped over to our place after we had all got the madness of Christmas out of the way. Unfortunately for him… on the coldest day since time began! He didn’t complain though, he just simply cracked on with the job in hand. Talking of cracking, that is one thing you don’t want where arches are concerned. It’s often the result of arch work done by those that have neither the tools nor talent to do it properly, so once I had signed my life away, I was intrigued to see a pro at work and get an object lesson in this dark art.

    Adam began by removing all of the old sealer, before resealing and protecting the area with Hammerite to keep out the dreaded tin worm. Then, using careful and well-judged passes with the heatgun, he prepped each arch for rolling. Using two rollers of his preferred spec, including a very trick Max USA Fender Roller, he set about gently massaging both the inner lip profile, flattening it in as far as it would go, as well as gently reprofiling the arch itself in order to gain maximum clearance. This took a long time to get right as Adam didn’t want to force or stretch the panel and crack the paint. Slowly, carefully and precisely, each arch was rolled and gently flared, with constant checks to ensure the job was perfectly symmetrical. Once he was done, Tiger Seal was added to the metal surfaces to keep water away. This is one of those rare #BMW-E36 s with half-decent arches – and I would like to keep it that way!

    Once Adam had finally managed to warm up, I was able to get the rear wheels back on; and doesn’t it look superb? The good news now is that I have full clearance under normal driving, allowing me to really exploit the amazing grip of those wonderful Toyos, with only the occasional ‘brap’ of rubbing under full compression – something I’m sure I can tweak out on ride height adjustment at a later date!

    That’s it from me then. If you have similar issues, I can’t say enough nice things about Arch Enemy in general, and Adam in particular! Having watched it being done, I can testify that it’s well worth paying the professionals to do it. It’s not a huge amount of money, with a pair of lip rolls starting from just £100, and I promise you you’ll do way more damage than that if you get it wrong. Take my advice. Call them, make the tea, keep them entertained, and get your arches sorted to perfection… cheers Adam!
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    ROB’S #BMW-E30 #318i

    Brands Hatch 1994: at seven years old I was attending my first motor race, watching arguably one of the greatest eras of the BTCC . ‘Smokin’ Jo Winkelhock blasting round in the Schnitzerprepped E36 318i on his way to winning both races around the Kent circuit that day. That day lodged firmly in my mind the idea that BMW was the car to go motor racing in and, just 21 years later, that’s exactly what I intend to do! Well hillclimbs and sprints at least.

    Here is my #1986 E30. It shares little with the #E36 Super Tourer that Winkelhock was racing on that August weekend in ’94 other than it has four doors and a 318i badge on the boot. I have owned her for a little over five years. Bought for the princely sum of £800 it was completely standard and in need of recommissioning but she was my first BMW and I loved her. She was my daily driver and served me extremely well. The clutch and brake hydraulics were renewed or replaced, she was polybushed throughout and treated to Spax dampers and 40mm lowing springs with 8.5x15” banded steels running 195/50 tyres to set off the look. Eventually an #E46 #328i took over daily duties which freed up the E30 for a project on a budget and although it may not be the obvious choice for a race build it’s certainly not the strangest car ever converted for racing.

    So, where to go from here? Well, I’ve started the diet: the interior is partly stripped-out, the rear bumper is off and the bonnet and boot have been replaced with fibreglass items. In the coming weeks and months more weight will be shed with polycarbonate windows, a sunroof delete and in any other way I can. A roll-cage will be installed as well as the obligatory bucket seat and four-point harness. I also have #325i front struts to convert to coilovers when funds allow, as well as a rear end so I can convert from drums to disc brakes. The engine is still the stock 1.8-litre #M10 unit apart from an electric cooling fan and an ITG cold air filter. I have plans to upgrade the engine as the M10 is a strong motor and is a well-tuned engine in historic circles so I don’t see why I can’t do the same. Having said that an engine swap isn’t out of the question down the line. So there it is, my #E30 project. I hope you enjoy the updates in the coming months.
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    GO BIG…

    Liberty Walk BMWs may be a common sight elsewhere in the world but in the UK you’re only going to find one – this spectacular, unashamedly in-your-face #E92-M3 . The UK’s first, and only, Liberty Walk-kitted #E92 M3 is as subtle as a smack in the mouth but rather more pleasant.

    Over in the US of A, Liberty Walk is most definitely the flavour of the week, month and even year, judging by how many LB-kitted cars, E92 M3s in particular, we have seen and featured.

    Japanese it may be but Liberty Walk’s philosophy fits in with the American philosophy of bigger being better. Indeed, it’s a big country with lots of room for big cars and big roads to accommodate them. In the UK and Europe, not so much. With our ancient roads, that still seem better suited to horse and carts than motorcars, outlandishly wide and wild cars don’t seem to have a place over here which is precisely why a Liberty Walk car in the UK is most definitely a big deal.

    This car needs no introduction – it’s been around for a while now but only appeared in this, its final incarnation, at the very end of 2014. For those that don’t know, this car belong to Carl Shakespeare, known to everyone, everywhere, ever as Shakey, owner of Studio Incar –which specialises in audio, airride and plenty more besides. For Shakey, this car started out as a company demo but I think it’s fair to say that over the past year or so of ownership it’s become a bit more than that.

    “I’ve always been into cars,” says Shakey. “Ever since I was a kid. More than that, though, I was always into stereo equipment; when I found out that you could get high-end audio equipment for cars, that’s when it all kicked off for me. When you’re in your car, you can play the stereo as loud as you like without upsetting anyone and that was a revelation.”

    Car-wise, Shakey has always had VWs, right up until #2010 , and since then he’s just had M3s. So why did he make the switch? “The M3 is just a better car,” he says. “VW doesn’t, or at least didn’t, make cars like the M division cars. A VW is for the family, an M3 is for you – it’s driver-focused, it’s a weapon and it suits me and the way I like to drive. I actually had a Mitsubishi Evo before I bought my first M3. I borrowed an M3 from a friend for a week and I loved it. It was awesome and I knew I had to have one.

    “I knew this M3 and I wanted to buy it because it was a great base for building a serious demo car. I’ve modified every car I’ve had, and each one has been very personal in terms of what I’ve done to it. I’ve always gone for a fast road, OE-ish looking build but this one is very different. It’s very shouty and I knew it was going to be different from the start because I wanted to build it as a demo car and it’s been more of a business venture really but I’ve still done it in a way that I like and that appeals to me and I’ve definitely put my personality into it.

    When I bought the car it already had the Liberty Walk kit and the wheels, 19” three-piece Rotiform TMBs, though back then it was yellow. I knew it was going to change, although I didn’t really have a definite plan for it. All I knew was that I wanted to take it to Ultimate Dubs at the start of #2014 .

    “The first thing we did was to change the colour. Picking the new colour was difficult but the car is lively as anything with that kit on it, so it didn’t need a wild colour. In the end I decided on white, partly because I think M3s look brilliant in white. You don’t see many in white and it’s simple so you can highlight other things on the car.

    “In the first week we had the car it was stripped-out, the kit was removed, a few things were corrected and we wrapped it white while the front bumper was done in black to match the Mini Cooper S demo car we were also building at the time. We also started working on the stereo. The car had to be superb. It had to look and sound great. I wasn’t interested in building an SPL car; it wasn’t about output, shaking the ground or being silly and outlandish. We built a system around Rainbow components, fully digital, integrated into the BMW system with wi-fi, hi-def streaming, all controlled via an iPad. It took three weeks to fabricate. Nine metres of Alcantara was needed to trim everything. The wheels were sent to The Wheel Specialist in Fareham. They were satin black when I bought the car and we had them refinished in a gloss NATO grey. I love that colour and got the mirror caps and livery done in the same shade. I approached Syco Graphix for all the decals and had them within a week, which was an awesome turnaround. The run up to Ultimate Dubs (UD) was incredibly busy as we were also building Nick Sahota’s #E30 M3 and our Mini demo car at the same time, and there were plenty of 4am finishes, but it was all worth it. The car got an amazing reception at UD with people commenting on how good it sounded, and I really enjoyed driving it as well.

    “After UD, we started doing some more work. We’re a Forge Motorsport agent so I decided to get a front and rear Forge BBK on the car. It’s not a setup you see often on M3s so I thought it would be a good modification to add. The brakes are absolutely phenomenal, really out of this world in terms of how powerful they are and a huge upgrade over the standard setup. I also sent the wheels off again and had them finished in red this time around, along with the mirror caps, and then I took it over to Austria for Wörthersee.

    “That was definitely an eventful trip. Going over, I got through a set of rear tyres. I’d had the alignment done before leaving but I must have hit something coming off the ferry and that shifted the rear camber arm eccentric bolt and within 500 miles the rear was down to the canvas, so I swapped the rears left to right and that was the other tyre ruined. Luckily we found a place called Bensche Automotive and it really saved the day, supplying me with a set of GT3 RS rear tyres they had. On the first night in Austria we parked up at the hotel and the owner came out and asked us to turn the stereo on. We ended up playing music all night with people dancing in the car park. Unfortunately because the car was so low the Austrian police were all over it and after I racked up ⇔1000 in fines over two days. I parked it up at the hotel and it didn’t move until the end of the trip. The drive home was amazing. In fact, it was the best motoring experience I’ve ever had. It was me and my mate Mark doing 140-150mph on the autobahn. The sun was setting, we had Razorlight on the stereo, it was perfect. I’ll never forget that drive. “After that I took the car to Players Classic and after that I didn’t take it to any shows for a while, just used it as a daily. For Players I decided to get it rewrapped. I went to Monster Wraps and we decided to go for 3M Satin grey with a fully custom digital print incorporating the Liberty Walk and Studio Incar liveries. The guys did an incredible job. The car looked really good but it wasn’t done.

    “After the show I had the wheels redone in black along with the mirror caps and with the new wrap it looked awesome. For Ultimate Stance, the last show of the year, I wanted to go out in style so I bought a set of #2013 LCI rear lights along with a Competition steering wheel and Syco Graphix redid the stickers in a really short space of time. I put together a big stand at the show and had our friends and good clients on there with Josh’s #335i , Sam’s #E24 , Nick with his two E30s and Max with his #M4 . It was a really good show and a great end to both the year and my time with the car.”

    2014 was certainly a hectic year for Shakey and the M3 but such is the life of a demo car. Considering how spectacular it was to start with, it’s impressive to see just how it evolved throughout the year and how awesome it looked when 2014 came to a close. Demo car it may have been, but we know for a fact that Shakey enjoyed every minute with it.

    Sadly, the #M3 has now gone, the plan from day one being to have the car for one season and then move on, but in 12 short months Shakey did more with his M3 than most. Work has already started on a new Studio Incar demo car. It’s not a BMW but don’t worry, Shakey’s not left the blue and white roundel behind and is currently running a stripped-out #E36 #328i as a daily and has just bought himself an #E39 #M5 to keep it company. Good man.


    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 4.0-litre V8 #S65B40 , Vabric wireless atmospheric exhaust valve, six-speed manual gearbox.

    CHASSIS: 10x19” (front) and 12.5x19” (rear) custom finished Rotiform TMB three-piece forged wheels with negative offset. StillStatic H&R Ultra Low race kit, Forge Motorsport #BBK with six-piston calipers (front), four piston calipers (rear) and 380mm discs.

    EXTERIOR: Full Liberty Walk wide-body kit, custom bootlid with narrow recess, LCI rear lights, Monster Wraps 3M digital printed bespoke wrap, colour-coded mirrors to wheels, Studio Incar and Liberty Walk livery from Syco Graphics.

    INTERIOR: Competition steering wheel, Studio Incar custom door builds, Studio incar full custom build, Studio incar custom centre console panel, Rainbow car audio system (fully digital).

    THANKS: My good friend Nick Singh Sahota for helping make the whole project a reality, Steve, Paul, Lottie and myself at Studio Incar for their constantly outstanding work on the car, Clean Getaway car wash in Southampton for keeping it up to scratch, The Wheel Specialist in Fareham for its continued excellent standards and constant colour changing of the wheels and mirrors and putting up with me, Syco Graphics being the best (as usual), Paul from C6 Carbon for repairing the splitter when Nick smashed it to pieces, you guys, #BMW for continued support of us and in the community, Monster Wraps for sorting out the car doing an outstanding job, Forge Motorsport and the incredible brakes, Four Masters and Rainbow for the support with the system, Si Gray for the shoot, Mark Harbour and Richard Wint for helping me track it on the side of the autobahn… cheers Nick.

    Exterior is wild and so is the audio install. This M3 boasts a fully digital system built around Rainbow components, integrated into the BMW system with wi-fi, hi-def streaming and it’s all controlled via an iPad.
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    The rise of the #BMW E36…?

    I make no secret of the fact that I prefer the #E36 to the #E46 that came after it. I had an E46 nearly new in #2001 , a 136hp 320d Touring that was a nice car. But that was 13 years ago and I bet that car now (W645GJC) is a horrid, festering wreck afflicted by some of the many E46 issues. Even in youth it needed a few warranty repairs. The E36 is far from perfect, of course. The window regulators are crap and rust strikes on the rear arches on a regular basis but the good thing about the E36 is that it’s all fixable with basic tools. If your E46 General Module fails with the car locked, you often can’t unlock the car because the door lock isn’t actually mechanical like an E36 one is – using the key in the lock will get you nowhere fast. Repairing it involves getting the correct #GM5 module (there are dozens) and then coding it to the car – assuming, of course, that the battery in your key is any good. Add the boot floor cracks, the overcomplex radiator and expansion tank setup with clip-on hoses, the rusty arches (worse than the E36), dodgy boot handle switches, faulty LF20 power steering pumps, electronic thermostats and so on, and the E46 can be a pain in the bum in old age. This is why I reckon the lighter, simpler E36 is the better old car, if you can find a really nice one that is. The number of good ones are dwindling fast. If you’re looking for an E46 Coupé think again because a nice E36 #328i Coupé – especially a Sport – is the smarter buy with values only going up, albeit slowly. They are looking better with age and are almost verging on classic status – next December will mark 25 years since the very first LHD saloons came off the line at Munich… how time flies.
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    First Brazilian BMW

    In October, the BMW Group celebrated the first car to be assembled in its new South American automobile plant in Araquari in the Santa Catarina state of Brazil. Over the course of the next few years, more than 200 million Euros will be invested in the plant, resulting in a production capacity of more than 30,000 vehicles annually. The first car to roll off the assembly line in Araquari was a #328i ‘ActiveFlex’. This car is specifically designed for the flexible use of either ethanol or petrol and thus meets the special requirements of the Brazilian market. The new site will create around 1300 new jobs; 500 new employees are already on board. Further jobs will be created within the supplier network of the new plant.

    All construction on the production site is due to be #2015eted by September #2015 , by which time the site will also comprise a body shop and a paint shop. The facility will also include administrative and auxiliary infrastructure as well as logistic activities. The plant is scheduled to produce the MINI Countryman, #F20 1 Series (five-door), #F30 3#BMWies Saloon, #E84 X1, and #F25 X3. The new #BMW Group site covers an area of about 1.5 million square meters of which 500,000 paved square meters will be used for production. By adding a new plant in Brazil, the BMW Group is further expanding its global production network, which now includes 30 production and assembly sites in 14 countries on four continents.
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    This #BMW fan is living his #E30 #M3 dream and has built a stunning example of the classic icon. Many of us dream of owning an E30 M3, and with its 2.5 engine and choice upgrades, this example is a real dream come true. Words and photos: Tony Saggu.

    Start a discussion about ultimate dream cars and chances are you’re likely to be reaching for an Italian dictionary before long. You may as well pull a post war German history text off the shelf at the same time, and a few volumes of classic English literature won’t go a miss either. They’ll be plenty of talk of raging bulls and prancing horses, Stuttgart will crop up, even Woking will get a look in, but if we’re honest when those lottery numbers come up Bayerische Motoren Werke probably won’t be most people’s first stop. “I’m not going to lie,” laughed La Crescenta, California car connoisseur Mariano Garcia, “I had the F40 and Countach posters up on my bedroom wall when I was kid. But even then I knew they weren’t the cars I really wanted when I grew up.” Don’t get us wrong, Mariano likes supercars as much as the next guy, but his definition of the ultimate driving machine doesn’t include stuff with pictures of farmyard animals stitched into the leather. Our man’s a BMW purist – if it doesn’t have a Roundel it’s not his ride.

    “BMWs are a family tradition with us,” explained the 30-something Beemer besotted bookkeeper. “My father always had one or two around. He had a #1978 Graphite grey #E12 #530i and later bought a #1986 #Alpine white #325e sedan. The 325e was eventually passed down to me and I modified it mercilessly,” he laughed. The Garcia garage was always kept fully stocked over the years. “Later on, he would own a #1995 Calypso red #540i #E34 six-speed, and a tastefullymodified Sahara beige #E12 530i,” revealed Mariano. “My mother has an Individual package Mora-metallic on Kiwi interior #2001 M3, and my brother has an Imola red 330i ZHP. We also have a Polaris silver #1979 #328i that kind of gets passed around the family. All these cars were bought new except the ZHP and the Sahara beige E12.”

    Apparently parting with these cars is not high on the family’s to do list – once a BMW is bought, it’s family. “All of the cars are still in our possession except the 325e and the 1978 Graphite 530i E12 which met premature ends.” The 325e had gotten Mariano off to a good start, a valuable education on the brand and a lesson in hands-on modification. “It’s the car that really got the ball rolling in a practical sense,” he told us. “I lowered it, swapped the engine for an M50, had all smoked Hella headlights, MHW tail-lights, smoked front turn signals, added smoked side-repeaters, tint, and HIDs. I really pushed the boat out and for a kid I didn’t do too badly,” he added. “I updated it to have the plastic bumpers, Shadowline window trim, it was on rare 16” E30 fitment BBS RSs with black centres, a Supersprint exhaust system… just a laundry list of stuff.”

    Having gotten his feet wet tinkering with the Alpine saloon, it wasn’t long before Mariano was in search of bigger and better challenges. “There was only one car I had my sights on,” he confessed. “I’d seen an E30 M3 once when I was a kid, the image of that car was burnt into my brain and I knew I would have to get one, one day.” Finding one of the rare boxy bad boys in acceptable condition is difficult; prizing the car out of the clutches of an almost certain enthusiast owner can prove to be near impossible. Weeks turned into months as the search got into high gear, Mariano admits his patience wasn’t all it could have been: “I just wanted to get my hands on one,” he laughed, “I’d spent my whole life waiting.”

    Garcia’s uncle owned a garage in nearby Orange County, so being well plugged into the local SoCal car scene and the racing community he was roped into the quest. “He had his eyes open because I’d told him that I was in the market for one,” he recalled. “My uncle tipped me off to a customer of a wellknown Porsche tuning shop in the area who was thinking of selling his M3; I was down there like a shot. Originally I was hell-bent on an Alpine white one to go with my 325, but when I saw how the Diamond blackmetallic paint looked in the sun with specks of blue and purple… I committed one of the worst car-buying sins you can and bought the very first car I saw,” he laughed.

    The car put a goodly sized dent in Mariano’s bank account, but the mildly modded 1990 M3 was reasonably clean and had plenty of potential. “It already had a 2.5- litre in it,” he revealed. “The suspension was fairly well sorted with lowered springs, uprated shocks and RD swaybars, the wheels were cool 16” WED racing rims with black centres.” On the downside the engine had been hobbled by a retrofitted “horrendous-looking” #Porsche #944 Turbo single outlet exhaust. The interior was missing its seats as the seller had nicked his previously installed buckets and tossed the rears. “The paint was okay though not to my standard, but it did have a non-cracked dash that sits in the car still to this day.”

    Our man admits the car has been, and will continue to be an evolving project, with almost 15 years of ownership under his belt and no plans to sell… ever, Mariano was in no rush to dive into any overnight makeover.

    “I’m not tooting my own horn but I’m privileged to say that this is the car I dreamt of owning since I was a kid. I never thought it possible that I would be the owner of a car with every single modification that I had planned. At 15, owning the car I see in the garage now was a pipe dream. I still just open the garage and stare at it thinking to myself ‘yes, this is your car, you own it’. I’m still in disbelief. I’m as in love with the car now as the day I bought it a decade-and-a-half ago.”

    Not much has stayed untouched on the car over the years, although the dream car build has followed a tasteful OEM plus route rather than an extreme makeover. The exterior treatment speaks volumes about the Garcia sense of style but the seamlessly blended additions could easily be factory issue BMW Motorsport items. Plenty of custom carbon fibre is the order of the day, which should have spelt a recipe for disaster, but like we said taste can make all the difference. A custom crafted carbon composite bonnet and brake cooling ducts add motorsport flair to the sharp end, and the smoked headlights, tinted indicator lenses and an Evo 3 spoiler lip back up the look. The weave has been used to accent the appearance rather than define it, the sunroof panel, DTM mirrors and Evo 3 rear spoiler punctuate the reshot factory black paint with splashes of carbon detail. “I’ve changed the parts that I though were tacky over the years,” Mariano told us. “For a long while I had a custom black and white M roundel that people would always give me stick about. I insisted that it went with the whole black theme of the car until I don’t remember what happened, maybe it was a maturity thing, I just changed it to the original one. I have to agree it flows better with the overall look.” Evo 3 wheels have made it on and off the ‘to do’ list a lot too, reports Garcia, but the present set of rollers would seem to be impossible to improve on.

    “Those wheels have an interesting story behind them. I had gone to the World Cup in Germany in 2006 to cheer on Argentina… er sorry English fans,” he chuckled. “Anyway, I have a friend over there, Mike Edler, who had a stunning custom painted pearl blue/green/purple Opel colour E30 M3 with these BBS rims on it. He said he could get them all refurbished and customised with whichever caps I wanted; flat, shortened, regular… and the cap sticker inside polished, black, gold whatever. Any hardware, whichever colour centres, just a fully custom built set of wheels to my specs. Well, like most people, in my opinion BBS RSs are the quintessential E30 or ’80s BMW rims so I decided to have at it.”

    The result of the transatlantic vacation and shopping spree were a quartet of fully refurbished #BBS RS 212 rims in 8.5x17” up front and 197, 9.5x17” out back. Slant lipped dishes, Nogaro Silver mesh with polished caps completed the ensemble. Keeping the wheels planted to the pavement is a suspension setup worthy of a track star: “It’s an M3 and I drive it like an M3,” insisted Mariano. “The coilovers are by TC Kline. If I’m not mistaken this was the first TC Kline E30 M3 kit made, I went up to its shop in Ventura to have it installed by the team themselves.” Vorschlag front camber plates assure a perfect contact patch in the bends and Racing Dynamics sway bars take care of the roll. Garcia reports that the Entwiklung Dreissig Zen front and rear strut braces stiffen up the almost 25-year-old shell a treat, and polybushes handle any suspension flex that may have gotten past the other race ready hardware.

    Under that carbon composite bonnet the mix of factory items and tasteful touches continues: “It is all S14,” Mariano said. “I’ve always been a purist about swapping the engines out of these cars, but my stance has softened. With age comes wisdom and I understand why someone would choose to go that route and bank for the buck. The #S14 isn’t the easiest on the wallet to maintain, plus I get how the newer generations crave those silly horsepower numbers.”

    Though one could argue the motor is stock, standard it certainly isn’t, the engine has been treated to a complete rebuild featuring a guest list of greats; this is one Motorsport 3 that can back up its looks. “Yeah it’s packed with all the good stuff,” smiled Mariano, “but my favourite underbonnet piece is the carbon air-box. It makes my inner child imagine that I’m that closer to having a real works DTM Racer. It’s a mod that I had been dreaming of doing for as long as I’ve owned the car… even before owning the car actually,” he laughed. “Under full load, the sound the car makes from the engine bay is orgasmic, especially after about 4-4.2k.” We’re guessing the Group A manifold and full big bore exhaust system don’t hurt the soundtrack either.

    The factory fresh E30 M3 had a respectable cabin out-of-the-box, reviewers even threw around superlatives like “stylish” and “sporty” to describe the interior architecture, but that was a long time ago. Updating a ’90s icon without losing the soul of a classic takes more than a little skill, though thankfully Mariano has the touch. A brace of Recaro SRD-inspired buckets crowned by a subtle, but race-legal Autopower roll bar form the centrepiece of the restyled cockpit. Suede has been the covering of choice, with the velvety leather nap covering the seats, steering wheel, gear stick and brake gaiters, subtleties like the M Sport stitching throughout are easy to miss but go a long way to contribute to the classy feel of the cabin. “Details like the stitching and M Cross Amaretta Cloth Inserts really tie the whole thing together I think,” mused Mariano, “it’s a classical look.”

    We pushed the owner for insights into the future of the dream car build, what tasty trinkets are we likely to see work their way on to the project? “Not a thing,” he insisted “I am completely satisfied with the looks and performance of the car. I’ve seen my contemporaries get the car to a point where everyone said it was good and keep going to the point of idiocy until they ruin the car because they don’t know when to stop. Like an aging rocker you just become a caricature of yourself,” he continued. “I think I have found that sweet spot where the car needs nothing and it is at its zenith. I think it’s at its Dark Side of the Moon pinnacle. Why not stay there? Don’t the English have a saying about ‘gilding the lily’?”

    Left: Interior features gorgeous Recaro SRD-style seats with grey Alcantara, Sport Evo steering wheel and ACS pedals; exterior carbon highlights include DTM mirrors and Evo 3 rear spoiler.


    ENGINE: 2.5-litre four-cylinder #S14B25 , fully rebuilt with 95.5mm bore, OEM Sport Evolution crankshaft, Turner Stage 3 cylinder head, Alpha N/Maxx engine management, carbon fibre Gruppe M air box and snorkel, custom aluminium radiator, 48mm OEM Sport Evolution throttle bodies, VAC Motorsport DTM oil pan, 11.25:1 compression ratio, Gruppe A two-piece exhaust manifold, Supersprint centre resonator, Magnaflow exhaust, M Coupé diff cover.

    CHASSIS: 8.5x17” (front) BBS RS 212 and 9.5x17” (rear) BBS 197 wheels, custom ordered, fully refurbished with Nogaro silver centres and polished centre caps with 215/40 (front) and 245/35 (rear) Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres. TC Kline double-adjustable coilover suspension (500/600 spring rates), Vorschlag camber plates, Koni adjustable shocks, Racing Dynamics anti-roll bars, Entwiklung Dreissig Zen front and rear strut brace, polyurethane bushes throughout, #E36 M3 steering rack, Wilwood six-piston BBK, stainless steel braided brake lines, ATE Super Blue brake fluid.

    EXTERIOR: Respray with Glasurit in original Diamond black metallic paint and clearcoat, carbon fibre DTM Mirrors (nonvented), carbon fibre sunroof, carbon fibre Evo 3 Rear Spoiler, carbon fibre Evo 3 front splitter, carbon fibre brake ducts, carbon fibre ViS bonnet, Hella Colorline DE smoked ellipsoid headlights with city lights, DDM HID conversion, smoked front indicators, Euro grilles, running lights deleted, MHW smoked tail-lights.

    INTERIOR: Sport Evolution suede steering wheel, M illuminated gear knob, suede handbrake boot with M stitching, suede handbrake handle with M stitching, suede gaiter with M stitching, Sport Evolution door sills, Recaro SRD-type seats with grey Alcantara and M cross Amaretta cloth inserts, #E46 M3 grey floormats, Autopower roll bar, #AC-Schnitzer pedals, Innovate Motorsports LC-1 wideband A/F ratio gauge, Autometer oil pressure gauge.

    THANKS: I don’t want to leave anyone out. My mother and father (without him I probably wouldn’t have become such a BMW fanatic). My wife for tolerating me and all our fun trips to meets for 18+ years, my kids who have a blast when in the back of my M3, all the La Crescenta chums who, apart from the car scene, have been there for me in personal ups and downs in my life (you know who you are), Barry Robinson, the lighting of the match which was me going on this forum to find some lights in 1999 and coming out a decade and a half later with lots of lifelong friends that changed the direction of my life, DTMPower. net, r3vlimited, S14. net, Jon Shafer, my OC tUNINGwERKS and Sunday Brunch OGs, all my San Diego friends, Bimmerfest, SoCal Vintage. I really have too many people to mention throughout all these years. Thanks to any of you that I have had contact with because I got something from all of it. RACING CLUB DE AVELLANEDA vamos mi academia carajo!
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    If you’re the sort of person who hungers for more lows, then this #E36 delivers with serious style and flair. You don’t always need to be outrageous to stand out. As Anthony Cookson’s #328i proves, it’s the simple things that make life better. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Andy Starkey.

    We like to make an impact here at Performance BMW. Think of us as tiny nano-spies, infiltrating your frontal lobes with the unavoidable grappling hooks of outlandish Beemer builds – V8-engined #E30 race cars with arches as wide as your favourite scenery-swallowing canyon, pimped-out 7 Series slammed to the deck on VIP rims and air-ride, shiny new M3s with 700, 800, 900hp… hell, our new special-edition bookazine, Boost, features a turbo’d E30 on the cover being propelled by a swathe of purple flames. You see, it’s all about impact.

    That’s not to say that we’re a bunch of unicorn chasers, always crying out for the next modified #BMW fix, each more hardcore and shocking than the last, like hopeless power junkies. No, we like to counterpoint the glitz with a bit of class, a dab of common sense, a tasteful exercising of the increasingly lost art of restraint. And so we turn to Anthony Cookson’s E36 328i, an impressive lesson in that timeworn philosophy that you don’t have to change everything for the sake of change – you just have to focus on the right bits, and do them well. It’s for just this reason that his 3 Series leaps off the page; it exudes a keen and tangible sense of ‘rightness’.

    “This is my fifteenth car in the past eight years, and is the fourth E36 I’ve owned,” Anthony reveals. “I have always had modified cars since I passed my test, my first car being a Peugeot 205 GTI that I spent a small fortune on. My BMW-owning history starts with two three-litre E36 M3s, both in black. The first one I smashed up after I’d owned it for just three weeks! Then there was a Dakar yellow E36 #M3 Evo, which is one of my favourite cars I’ve owned, plus a cheap 318i which I got with a mate to use as a missile drifter at Buxton Raceway. Plus I’ve also had a #535i Sport manual V8, so you could say I quite like my BMWs…”

    Good stuff, that’s the spirit. So, what’s the story with this one? Why a 328i after all those M3s? “Well, I wanted something cheap to run, really,” laughs Anthony. Stick with him, it does make sense in context… “I’d sold my Nissan Skyline after the amount of money I was spending on fuel had gone beyond a joke. I saw this one advertised on Pistonheads as a stock-ish 328i Sport Individual – it turns out it had a lowering kit on it, but you’d never have known – and having gone to see it, I fell in love with it and couldn’t walk away.”

    And so the pieces of the jigsaw tumbled onto the chessboard like a painfully mixed metaphor in a house of cards. A seasoned petrolhead with a penchant for modifying fast cars decides to downscale his outgoings by buying a sensible runaround. These notions always go to plan, don’t they? Er, no. No, they don’t. The photos here have probably already given you a clue. “I could see the potential in the car straightaway,” he grins, in an unashamed admission of intent. The 328i arrived on his driveway with shabby leather, a set of tired M3 sunflowers and a certain disquieting amount of peeling lacquer. Which, of course, is like boldly stalking up to a snorting bull and slapping it around the face with a vast red rag. The game was afoot.

    “I’d ordered the coilovers before I’d even bought it, as well as bagging a set of BBS reps from a mate’s garage,” he says. “So I knew I wanted an E36, it was just a case of going out and finding the right one. And like I say, it was love at first sight with this one.”

    Once it was in his possession, it was merely a matter of days before those #BBS replicas were swapped out for a set of rare Cromodora seventeens – this is a guy who doesn’t muck about. “It looked great but it still felt like it needed something a little extra-special to set it off,” Antony continues, “something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It was at that time that I was offered a set of Borbet B rims in perfect sizes – 8.5x17” and 10x17” – owned by a lad who was moving house and needed the money quick. They were just sitting in his bedroom so obviously I snapped his hand off for them. “It took quite a while to get the arches and ride height right for the wheels. There was lots of rolling, all kinds of adjusting and I managed to get it as close as I could on the current setup, so a month before I was leaving to take the car to Wörthersee in Austria [the annual Wörthersee Treffen is a predominantly VW-centric event but increasingly welcomes stanced examples of other marques] I sent it to the bodyshop to have the paintwork sorted.”

    The car came back shiny and refreshed a couple of weeks later, all ready to go aside from an unexpectedly explosive water pump that detonated itself the day before departure. “There was a mad rush to fix that with the help of Jake at Junction 1 Automotive,” Anthony recalls with a grimace. After that episode it was time to give that finely-tuned arch clearance a bit of a workout across the varying quality of Europe’s Tarmac.

    “I drove it from Manchester down to Dover, where we caught the ferry to Calais, and from there drove it across France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and eventually Austria. And that was where we hit a little trouble… At first it was amazing, the reception was brilliant and loads of people were staring at the car, admiring it, giving me the thumbs-up. It was great right up until the point that I was pulled into a roadside check by the Austrian police, and was informed that the car was far too low for the country and that it would have to go for a full inspection. It was driven to the local fire station where Austria’s version of VOSA were waiting; they went over absolutely everything and I ended up with a £1000 fine and my car taken off me until I could fix a few things to make it legal in their country! The minimum ride height in Austria is 11cm and mine was just over 3cm; there were also other things the Austrian police picked up on, like the Nardi steering wheel, exhaust, HID headlights – all mods that are legal in the UK but over in Austria they are a big no-no. So once I promised to leave the country with my car as soon as I could, I raised the coilovers, paid the fine, packed up my stuff and left.”

    Phew! A bit of drama, then. But it’s all part of the game, isn’t it? Life wouldn’t be very colourful if you didn’t have any stories to pass on. And there’s probably a lesson in there somewhere about researching the local laws of your holiday destinations or something, but that’s arguably time that’d be better spent just gawping at these photos. Worth the heartache, wouldn’t you say? Although the car may irritate the Polizei, it really is a shining example of the less-is-more ethos. Sure, the ride height may be outrageous but the car overall certainly isn’t – it’s an exercise in measured restraint. And, hell, even running that low doesn’t have to be that much of an issue. “I’ve run it as a daily driver at this height for two years,” Anthony says. “In all that time I only killed one sump. Although that did happen when I caught it on a cat’s eye as I was changing lanes…”

    The interior of the car enshrines the occupants in a sense of everyman-attainable luxury, with soft leather accompanied by lashings of polished wood, matching that gloriously shiny Nardi wheel – an unusual choice for such a car but something that works surprisingly well.

    The exterior, conversely, is rather more brutish and aggressive but again refrains from shouting about its prowess. It’s more a case of well-chosen enhancements that act as a hat-tip and a wink to those who know what they’re looking for. An M3 front lip and complementary mirrors join an #E39 bootlip spoiler, all swathed in shimmering fresh paint. Oh, and performance? Yes, the car does have the grunt to justify the swagger, as you’d expect from a serial M3 owner. The 2.8-litre six-pot enjoys the canny M50 inlet manifold conversion, as well as rocking a set of spikier Alpina cams and Gruppe M induction, all exhaling through a serpentine tangle of stainless steel pipework. As with every other facet of the car, it’s a case of doing the right bits, and doing them well.

    “Most people are shocked by how low it is and I’m always hearing how pointless and stupid it is to run that low,” he smiles. “But they don’t have to drive it, do they? It’s no problem for me, so it’s staying down there…” And as long as he steers clear of the Austrian rozzers, you can be sure that Anthony will be enjoying that 3cm of clearance just to see the looks on people’s faces. Just watch out for those cat’s eyes, Antony…


    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.8-litre straight-six #M52B28 , Gruppe M induction kit, #M50 inlet manifold, Alpina cams, six-branch manifold, decat and backbox, OEM transmission with new Sachs clutch

    CHASSIS: 8.5x17” (front) & 10x17” (rear) ET20 polished Borbet B wheels, FK coilovers with helper springs removed (front), FK shocks with custom springs (rear), drilled and grooved brake discs and Pagid pads, OMP strut brace.

    EXTERIOR: M3 front lip, M3 mirrors, E39 bootlip spoiler, custom flared and rolled arches, smoked front and side indicators, de-lensed headlights, 4600k HIDs.

    INTERIOR: Nardi wood steering wheel, Storm Motorwerks gear knob, custom gear gaiter in Alcantara and cream stitching, full interior wood pack, Alpine motorised screen in dash, DVD player built into glovebox, screens in headrests, metal pedals.

    THANKS: George Hough for all the help getting it to where it is now, James and Julian Keely at Cheshire Auto Detailing ( for keeping it clean and shiny, Jake at Junction 1 Automotive for allowing me to use the garage and tools to fix my car, Sam Harper for all the work he has put into the car, Craig and Andy at Top Gear Stockport for putting up with my stupid requests – the best place to go for an exhaust, I wouldn’t go anywhere else now, the guys really know their stuff. Aub and Beaker at Knutsford Autobody for the paintwork (www. knutsfordautobody. com) and anyone else I’ve forgotten who has helped me build the car!
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    Supercharged #BMW #E39 #540i Candyman. With wide-body styling, Candy Fuchsia paint and a supercharger to boot, the creator of this Five has made something truly delicious. A Michelin star car if ever we saw one… Words: John Machaqueiro. Photos: Darren Maybury.

    Whether you’re someone who is into modifying or carrying out full restorations, there are just some things that you never do, assuming of course that you have a shred of common sense. We’ve all heard enough horror stories of people who start a project at point B and work back to point A, or as it’s often referred to in the States as the “ass backwards” approach. You know the type? They flitter from one aspect of the car to the other, usually ensuing in a mish-mash of ill-fitting parts. Needless to say, many factors dictate the steps that one ultimately chooses to take but it still doesn’t change the fact that careful planning and a healthy dose of patience usually achieves better results. There are of course always exceptions to the rules, and once in a while you see someone do something that just doesn’t quite make much sense on the surface.

    In speaking with Steve Lin, that B to A feeling is exactly what you are left with when he describes the steps he took in customising his #1999 E39 540i. When faced with the question of what his initial plans were for the Five, Steve simply told me, “I had the wheels fabricated and then built the car up around them.” With no preconception of what the project would look like finished it’s safe to say that this is not the starting point that most would choose to take. It’s ambitious to say the least. There is however a twist to all of this and it starts to make a bit of sense, especially when you consider Steve’s background. He is the general manager for California based iForged so it’s a no brainer that he really knows his stuff when it comes to wheels and how they can dictate the direction a car will take.

    A self-proclaimed lifelong German car lover, his first motor was a #1997 #E36 #328i . That in time gave way to a pair of A4s. Not satisfied with the handling characteristics of the Audi, he gravitated back to Munich’s finest with this current car. Initially purchased as a daily commuter, that all changed when he attended a few shows. Confident that he could build something that would be a winner with the judges, he set about modifying the E39. His choice in the larger BMW was fueled by the desire to be a bit different which more and more is becoming common thought within the highly competitive BMW tuning scene. By virtue of who he works for, this also became an ideal opportunity to showcase some of the products from the iForged catalogue.

    Steve wasn’t content on just slapping a set of high-end rims on his Beemer and calling it a day. He would need something else to make a strong visual statement, and in BMW land that means a wide body. In California if you want a top quality conversion, M1 Autobody is the place to go to. Originally painted black, he knew playing it safe wasn’t going to cut it on the show circuit so along with the surgery that was planned a colour change was also at the top of the list. This is where Brian Fox from Fox Marketing came into the picture. Brian is in charge of Youth Marketing for BASF; he along with Steve discussed what add-ons made the most sense. After sitting for hours testing colour options in Photoshop, they decided upon a trick BASF Carizzma Candy Fuchsia sprayed over a violet basecoat.

    In terms of parts, an M5 front bumper was added to the list along with a G-Power rear bumper which according to Steve is extremely difficult to obtain and probably the only one in the country. From the Hamann catalogue came the front spoiler, eyelids, kidney grille, fog light covers and side skirts. The stock bonnet was replaced with an MA-Shaw carbon fibre item while at the rear a #M3 #CSL spoiler made of the same weave was moulded into the boot lid. M3 carbon fibre side vents were also added, something the E39 M5 never received and demonstrating here how good it looks. With the major body components sourced, it was time to get down to business. The body and paint work took Raymond at #M1 close to two months to complete, much of that due to the fact that the wide body conversion was an all sheet metal affair and done to compliment those custom wheels. This was quite an ordeal for Steve, “It’s a 130 mile round trip from where I live, and every weekend, without fail, I was at the shop checking on the progress,” he told us. As you can see the end result is nothing short of spectacular. As a total package, everything is visually rock solid, the mammoth flanks seamlessly integrating into the natural lines of the body while all the aftermarket add-ons harmoniously blend together. It’s also worth noting that the paint really comes to life in bright sunlight. The choice of colour was certainly a bold move, a decision that for some would perhaps create some apprehension to say the least but looks in this instance to be remarkably spot on.

    All that pretty pink stuff, wait make that Fuchsia, needed some nice hardware to roll on. You do remember the starting point of all this, the wheels? Courtesy of iForged, Steve made a set of custom rims for his car. Best part of that deal was he didn’t have to travel far to pick them up. For the front wheels, he opted for hefty 9.5x20” and rearward a set of 11x20” wrapped in 255/30 and 305/25 Yokohama ADVAN Sport tyres respectively. Featuring powder-coated centres finished in gloss black the chrome lip on each wheel measures a whopping six inches. Bare in mind, these are not your average off-the-shelf store purchased onesize- fits-all wheels, they’re one-of-a-kind, and do a superb job of shielding the equally impressive bright red 8-piston calipers at the front and 4-piston calipers at the rear clamped to massive Rotora cross-drilled discs. The FK KoenigSport M5 fully adjustable coilover suspension insures that maximum handling performance is always there and we’re glad to hear this expensive bit of kit is used to its fullest.

    Along with the visual makeover, a horsepower bump was also part of the plan. Steve decided that forced induction was the most effective way to get to the next level in performance. It all boiled down to either a supercharger or a turbo. By virtue of him working at iForged and the close relationships that such companies establish within the tuning industry, he was able to get VF Engineering to sponsor him. They supplied him with a complete supercharger kit, as if that wasn’t a sweet deal to begin with, as an added stroke of luck, Nik at VF was also a 540i owner so when it came time to fitting it, all the work was done right there at VF on their time. A full MagnaFlow quad exhaust was then fitted to increase breathing capacity and the last thing left for Steve to do was strap it to a dyno, where it recorded 345bhp at the rear wheels. With temptation being what it is, it’s only natural that Steve would at times flog his Beemer, but as with most things, extra power also means extra wear and tear on parts. When you start to hammer a car beyond its designated range, you inevitably end up with cooked clutches and cracked flywheels. To address this, he added a Spec 3+ clutch along with a delay valve to the manual sixspeed box. With all this in place, it was then mated to a UUC short shifter.

    The attention to detail outside is also carried over to the interior. “I knew I wanted to paint the car some shade of purple, so I had the interior done a few months before the actual bodywork was performed,” he explained. A very brave move indeed. As a starting point, 540s are for the most part fairly luxurious so in this case he simply personalised what was already there. The seats and door panels were reupholstered in light purple suede along with the headliner, pillars and visors. From AC Schnitzer, a complete pedal kit was installed along with a UUC Motorwerks illuminated gear knob. As an added touch, he also installed a starter button from the #BMW-Z8 .

    When it came to the ICE install, the choice of gear is mostly Alpine. Here Steve wanted to create something bold but clean. An Alpine IVA-D900 7” TV head unit was fitted along with a 12-disc MP3 changer and Navigation DVD player that is neatly tucked in the glove box. Sound delivery is handled by MB Quart Q-line components and when you pop open the boot, you’re greeted with massive MB 15” subs and Rockford Fosgate amps. As with the supercharger, Steve was also fortunate to get help from Vivo Electronics with a pair of 7” LCD monitors installed in the headrests along with another pair in the front visors. A Savv 5” rear view mirror monitor was also installed.

    Steve has assembled a car that really mirrors a mindset within the ever-growing BMW tuning scene in the states, one that is willing to take chances and strives to be different. It’s not hard to make an #E46 look good. An E39, though, requires a lot more imagination. The combination of wide body styling along with a unique choice of colour separates his car from the pack and grabs your attention, the supercharger, interior and audio makeover completing the package perfectly. If he decides to do another car, god only knows what he’s got up his sleeve – one thing that is for certain, we all know.


    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 4.4-litre V8 M62 with VF Engineering supercharger kit (including OEM idler pullies, OEM high flow fuel injectors, Bosch overrun bypass valve system, custom crank case ventilation system, VF CNC machined oil fittings with high pressure OEM oil lines, K&N induction filter with cold air intake), MagnaFlow custom quad exhaust system, billet aluminium oil caps, body colour matched engine cover. UUC short shifter kit, Spec Stage 3+ clutch and delay valve.

    CHASSIS: 9.5x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) iForged Daytona (nearside) and iForged Imola (offside) wheels with 3.5” chrome lips (front) and 6” chrome lips (rear), centres powder-coated with gloss black finish, shod in 255/30 and 305/25 Yokohama ADVAN Sport Tires respectively. FK KonigSport M5 adjustable coilover suspension. Rotora 15” cross-drilled brake discs and 8-piston red calipers (front) and Rotora 14” cross-drilled brake discs and 4-piston red calipers (rear), AA brake cooling duct.

    EXTERIOR: M1 Autobody custom sheet metal wide-body, MA-Shaw carbon fibre bonnet, E39 M5 front bumper, Hamann Competition front splitter, carbon fibre upper eyebrows, carbon fibre kidney grille, fog light covers, custom moulded side skirts, custom M3 carbon fibre side vents, Hagus sport mirrors, EuroRev carbon fibre B and C pillars, G-Power rear bumper, custom moulded carbon fibre M3 CSL boot spoiler, Euro-spec angle eye headlights, 8000K HID bulbs with 50W ballast, red and clear Celis rear lights, full respray in #BASF Carizzma Candy Fuchsia over violet.

    INTERIOR: Standard black Nappa leather with purple suede seat inserts, door cards, headliner, pillars and visors, EuroRev silver carbon fibre trim, UUC Motorwerks RK3 iIluminated gear knob, AC Schnitzer handbrake handle and pedals, M5 dead pedal, custom Z8 starter button.

    ICE: #Alpine IVA-D900 7” TV head unit, 12-disc MP3 changer, Navigation DVD player (in glove box), MB Quart Qline component speakers, two 15” subs in custom enclosure, three Rockford Fosgate amps, two Vivo 7” LCD monitors in headrests, two Vivo 7” LCD monitors in front visors, Savv 5” rear view mirror monitor.

    THANKS: Nik for the supercharger installation, Raymond at M1 Autobody for the sheet metal and paintwork, Vivo Electronics for LCD screens.

    As general manager of iForged Steve was able to slam his 5 Series on a pretty hot set of 20s, a 3” lip up front and 6” out back order of the day, no wonder those arches are so wide.

    Full purple suede and black Nappa leather retrim looks every bit pimp as the exterior styling of this Five and with a total of four screens everyone’s sure to be entertained.

    Silver carbon trim – essential garnish.

    The Five’s ample boot space swallows up the two amps and three subs with no problem.

    With 286bhp as standard the E39 540i isn’t exactly sluggish and we can only imagine a VF Engineering supercharger kit and MagnaFlow custom quad exhaust system makes driving the exec saloon that little bit more exciting.
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    Most of us buy mods for our cars, not cars for our mods, but Rahul Reddy bought his E46 M3 with three reasons in mind: a riotous #Kreis-Sieg F1 tuned exhaust, rare 19” RAC Monolite RG41 rims and as close to 500bhp on stock internals as safely possible; all to terrorise the highways of New Jersey. Words: Neil. Hunt Photos: Adam Kahn.

    The way we see it, you’re either into modifying or you’re not. There are no half measures. You either get the raging horn from a set of deepdishes or you see them as excess and frown: “What’s wrong with the normal wheels, anyway?” Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you fall into the first group (well, we had to check). But our man Rahul Reddy here wasn’t interested in modified cars until he fell head over heels for the E46 when it came out. We’ll let him do the talking: “I’ve had a few Beemers before this and ever since the days of the #E30 and ##E34, , I’d dreamed of owning a BMW. I told myself to work at it and it would become a reality. I test-drove a #1999 E46 #328i and fell in love straight away.”

    That car, however, remained as it was when it first left the factory, with Rahul citing his only tool-wielding experiences as gingerly swapping a set of blown bulbs. He graduated to the M3 after a disappointing stint with a 4.3-litre #Mercedes-Benz CLK: “The M3 is everything the Mercedes wasn’t. I completely adore it,” he grins.

    So how do you go from regular cleaning and maybe occasionally topping up the washer fluid to a slammed ride rolling on hand-made rims and nearly 500bhp? We asked our convert to explain: “I had lusted after the M3 for a long time and just wanted to fulfil my dream. In August #2004 that became real, and so did the fully-loaded $60k price tag. Since then I’ve probably spent at least another $40k. So far…” That’s 51 grand in total to you and me and just £8550 off the price of a 2006 M3 in the UK. We’re missing out on something here!

    Like many of us, Rahul was keen to be part of the club, but an individual within it. He wanted to be different to everyone else and put his own twist on his car. And those custom touches don’t come any more exclusive than the shopping list we’ve got here. All the dream choice add-ons are present and the first one to answer the roll call are those amazing and utterly delicious rims. If you don’t know much about RAC, then listen up wheel whores because they’re the closest thing a BMW fan can get to a bespoke set of rims. Like the world’s finest Cubans, cigars that is not high heeled men’s shoes (should we be worried Neil? – Ed Drive-MY) rolled on the thighs of virgins, these wheels are the hand-rolled creations of the #BMW wheel world. RAC’s Monolite wheels have been developed by a couple of E46 nuts that understand what people like me, you and Rahul need.

    You can shove your mass-produced wheels in the Panama Canal, we want these. When wheels get this big they can be detrimental to a car’s acceleration, handling and braking, so not only did they have to be lightweight but they had to be a classic style which would suit the exquisite lines of the Bavarian super saloon and, practically, they had to clear Brembo calipers. More importantly perhaps, RAC Monolites are perfect for the, how can we put it, ‘enthusiastic’ driver. What we’re saying here is these bad boys are as at home looking refined and classy on the street as they are hangin’ hard inside raped rubber at the track.

    And speaking of the track, Rahul feels the RAC love so much he even has a set of 18s for the circuit. You can see where this is heading. Lightweight race wheels were just the start, as Rahul was somewhat hooked on the BMW tuning scene. Soon the urge for more power was eating away at his conscience and a chat with the guys at Rogue Engineering sealed the fate of the M3. While Rahul wanted more power, you have to remember his car was brand new when he started building it. To make the most of the stock internals, the team at Rogue recommended the Active Autowerke supercharger conversion. Reputed to have pioneered the first proven supercharger conversion for the E46, the process of bolting the Rotrex blower on the side of the six-shooter motor has been dyno’d over and over again to give proven #E46 M3 Carbon – the only dressing for something as exclusive as the M3’s cabin reliability and big bhp.

    So as you can imagine, there wasn’t any other setup for Rahul and his M3. The Stage 1 kit, which uses a Rotrex C38-71 supercharger is bolted to an AA intake manifold and blowing 7psi of boost through an alloy intercooler. Fuel is fired into the engine through uprated injectors and to help the additional load on the motor, an external oil cooler is fitted too. It’s no good just bolting the ’charger to the engine without the management throwing a strop, though. Additional uprated fuel and ignition settings are controlled using Generation 3 AA Alpha-N custom software. All this adds up to an impressive power output of 478bhp and 383lb ft of torque. These figures drop the sprint to 60mph time to only 4.3 seconds. The management remap junks the restrictions to mean the only speed limiter is Rahul’s right foot and the rapidly approaching horizon. “I’m happy for now,” grins Rahul, “but that’s not to say I might just get the itch for more power.” If he does, AA is happy to sort him with a Stage 2 or Stage 3 upgrade to effortlessly take power to safely over 500bhp.

    If the big-boosting supercharger soundtrack, laid over the M3 howl isn’t enough aural sex for your ears, Rahul insisted on the pinnacle of exhaust systems. The Kreis-Sieg F1 VT system is unique in giving performance and sound control to the driver. For tame driving, the Normal mode sees the exhaust gases take a normal route through the exhaust’s 70mm diameter system and catalysts. Flick the dash switch controlling the butterfly valves in the exhaust and you’ll unleash F1 mode. This path bypasses both silencer chambers sending the gases straight from the manifold to the rear tips. F1 Mode gives the best possible bhp gain with an F1 sound to trumpet your arrival.

    The aggressive tuning is matched with the stunning RAC rims, but Rahul’s not stopped there. No, this M3 has benefited from a generous coating of carbon fibre with Vorsteiner’s line of CSL replica styling. Colour-coded to the car, our man reckons this part of the project was quite a time consuming task: “It was probably one of the most involved jobs on the car. It required a lot of prep work to get the finish that was critical to me. They had to match perfectly.”

    With an exhaust which Rahul describes as “not sounding like anything on the market” and 478bhp to play with, his two years’ work is worth it, especially passing any mirrored shop window. But when the slow moving city traffic has gone and the road opens, Rahul’s not hung about. “My most fun with the car was on an abandoned road where I just pushed and pushed to take the car close to its limits. It felt amazing. Until the day I don’t wear this massive grin, the car will continue to amaze me.”


    ENGINE: 3.0-litre straight-six #M54 with Active Autowerke Generation 3 Stage 1 supercharger utilising a #Rotrex C38- 71 trim unit (7psi) with 75mm pulley, Alpha-N custom software engine management, Active Autowerke cast intake manifold, front-mounted air-to-air intercooler, bypass valve, larger injectors and spark plugs, mass air meter housing and oil cooler, K&N air filter, #M3-CSL manifold and Supersprint race cats, Meisterschaft second pipe, Kreis-Sieg cat back #F1 Valvetronic exhaust. Rogue Engineering oil filter lid.

    CHASSIS: 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) anthracite RAC Monolite RG41 wheels shod in 265/30 and 275/30 Michelin PS2 Pilot Sport tyres respectively. FK Konigsport coilovers and Ground Control anti-roll bars. #Brembo Gran Turismo 15” kit (front) with 380mm drilled discs and four-pot custom #Ferrari Fly yellow calipers and 13.6” kit (rear) with 345mm drilled discs and two-pot calipers, Goodridge stainless steel brake lines all round.

    EXTERIOR: Vorsteiner GTR carbon fibre bonnet, CSL-style bumper and one-piece race lip, bootlid and rear diffuser painted Silver grey, Strassentech carbon fibre roof spoiler and side vents. matt black kidney grille and body colour-coded keyhole cover, 50% #3M tinted windows, Depo smoked corner indicators, Solaris Invisibulbs, Jlevi. com enhanced DDEs and #XTEC 6000k HID headlights.

    INTERIOR: Carbon fibre interior trim, handbrake handle, steering wheel trim, SMG Dome, 1 hardwired ICE: Three 10” LCD monitors and a pair of 10” JL Audio W6 subs “My most fun was on an abandoned road, I just pushed it to its limits. Until the day I don’t wear this massive grin, the car will continue to amaze me”.

    Carbon – the only dressing for something as exclusive as the M3’s cabin.
    Active Autowerks’ Stage 1 ’charger yields nearly 500bhp, enough for now but will Rahul be craving for more?
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