- Post is under moderationLAGUNA E46 M3 Lush UK air-ride Cab
A schoolboy dream has become reality in the shape of a Laguna Seca E46 M3 Cab, with a few mods for good measure, of course. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Dear.
DREAM WEAVER Air-ride E46 M3
Achieving your dreams, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant they may appear to some people, is an incredible feeling. From dream jobs, to dream weddings and, obviously, dream cars, these items, events and experiences fill us with sheer joy and make our lives better. Whatever your dream may be, achieving it, making it happen is a special moment; for Bally Hanspal this car was that dream and, as you can plainly see, it’s most definitely become a reality.
“BMWs have been a big part of my life,” begins Bally as we ask him to tell his tale, “with my late grandfather, dad and uncle all owning BMWs through my childhood. It always made me want one and, also, with how amazing they are to drive nothing else can come close to them. For me they really are the ultimate driving machines; despite owning other brands of cars I always seem to have a soft spot for BMWs,” he smiles, and that’s something we wager most of us can relate to.
Bally has dabbled with VAG in the past, ticking off the wheels, suspension and audio boxes along the way before moving towards the performance end of the modding spectrum, all of which served as perfect preparation for the inevitable purchase of his dream car. “When the E46 M3 was released, back when I was still in school, I promised myself I’d own a Laguna Seca blue one, one day. Many people laughed, but it was a dream I had to make come true,” he says and that steely determination is what made it happen. Bally kicked BMW ownership off with an E46 320Ci Sport, the biggest engine he could insure at the tender age of 20, but it was just a stepping stone until he could get his hands on the full-fat, M-powered 3 Series of his dreams. “I remember the day when I bought the car so clearly,” he smiles, “a friend of mine phoned me up – it was a warm Saturday afternoon – and he phoned me asking if I had found any cars for sale. I mentioned I had seen this one for sale on Autotrader, not too far from me. He said ‘Let’s go down and take a look’ so we headed over and after just walking around the car and checking it over I knew this was the one for me. The condition of the car was tip-top and it was so well-maintained that I would have been kicking myself if I hadn’t bought it.”
There were, says Bally, no plans to mod the car when he first got it, and he actually thought that was going to leave the car alone but here we are, it’s in a modded BMW mag. It wasn’t long, he says, before he started ordering parts for his M3 and he didn’t mess about. Wheels came first, with a set of CSL 19s chosen and to go with those he picked out a custom set of BC Racing coilovers to deliver the required drop. With the E46 M3’s natural good looks now nicely enhanced, Bally turned his attention to the audio system and fitted an Alpine double-DIN head unit along with a set of MB Quart component speakers front and rear, which made it into the car’s current build state. So too did the amber corner lights, which look great against that bright, bold blue bodywork, and Bally has also fitted a seriously sexy set of K-Sport brakes, with monster eight-pots up front wrapped around 365mm discs and four-pots at the back, and the red calipers really pop against the body and wheels.
All was going well, but Bally wasn’t in a good place with his suspension. “The BC coilovers were pretty awesome I must say, but with the car not being practical with the way I wanted it the next step was air. After speaking to many people and reading many reviews I went for Air Lift’s 3P setup and I also added Powerflex wishbone and anti-roll bar bushes just to tighten-up that awesome drive.” Now Bally can enjoy all the lows he can eat, so to speak, while still being able to actually drive the car and we like the fact that he’s also done a little bit more than just the bags alone, to allow him to really get the best out that awesome chassis that the E46 M3 is blessed with.
With air on board, Bally decided it was time to up his wheel game but with so many good-looking wheels available for the car, this was not an easy task. It was helped slightly by the fact that he’d always had his eye on the wheels he’s ended up, that being a set of Schnitzer Type II Racing three-piece splits, and they are gorgeous, the metallic grey centres really suiting the whole colour scheme on the car. Where people often go big on diameter, Bally has stuck to a sensible 18” but he’s gone wide; the fronts are a reasonably large 9.25” but the rears are a monster 11.25” across and they fill the arches to bursting, and with it aired out the fitment is perfection.
As far as styling is concerned, Bally has had the front bumper smoothed and it’s been enhanced with the addition of a full carbon fibre CSL front splitter, which not only adds a healthy dose of visual drama but also drops the car even further towards the Tarmac. Moving inside, that vibrant interior didn’t start out life this way and the original seats have made way for a striking red ensemble; “I wanted my M3 to stand out from the rest,” he says, “and after looking at many options it had to be the red Nappa leather, giving the car the Super Man look,” he grins and now it all makes sense. But here too there’s more than meets the eye, and where you might, perhaps, expect to see carbon on a car like this you will instead find that all the interior trims have been finished in Alcantara. “The trims are my favourite mod on the car and they were something I had in mind for a while, but it was a big problem getting them done, with so many companies saying they couldn’t do it and that it couldn’t be done. In the end my dad and I, along with my grandmother, did them together,” and the end result is absolutely unique and wonderful with it. Finally, in the boot, you will find the single air tank and Viair compressor that make up the air ride and, a neat touch, is that with the boot lid being de-badged, the air tank now wears the M3 badge instead.
As far as performance mods are concerned, Bally has so far just added a gorgeous GruppeM carbon intake up front and a de-catted Scorpion exhaust system but it sounds like the next big mod on the to-do list is a supercharger and going by his determination and refusal to give up with any part of the build so far, you can be sure that’s going to happen before too long. There’s no rush though, Bally has no plans to let his dream car go anytime soon; “After now owning the car for two years I’d say it’s an on-going going project that will probably never end,” he chuckles. Bally’s built himself an absolutely beautiful M3, one that’s packed with neat, unique touches that really make it stand out and it’s a car he can truly be proud of. Dreams can come true.
GruppeM carbon fibre intake the only performance mod, for now…
Gorgeous 18” AC Schnitzer Type II Racing splits.
“I wanted my M3 to stand out from the rest and after looking at many options it had to be the red Nappa leather, giving the car the Super Man look”
Alpine double-DIN head unit and custom Alcantara trims.
Red Nappa leather looks fantastic against bodywork.
Custom-mounted Air Lift controller.
Air install has been kept simple and the air tank now wears the M3 boot badge.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Cabrio / #BMW-M3-Cabrio-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E46
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #Scorpion exhaust system with de-cat, GruppeM carbon air intake, six-speed manual gearbox, short-shift kit
CHASSIS 9.25x18” (front) and 11.25x18” (rear) #AC-Schnitzer-Type-II-Racing three-piece wheels with 215/35 (front) and 245/35 (rear) tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance-3P air suspension, #Powerflex wishbone and anti-roll bar bushes, #K-Sport #BBK with eight-piston calipers and 365mm discs (front) and four-piston calipers and 330mm discs (rear) / #AC-Schnitzer-Type-II / #AC-Schnitzer / #Air-Lift-Performance
EXTERIOR #Laguna-Seca-Blue , smoothed front bumper, amber corner lights, gloss black front and side grilles, carbon fibre full CSL front splitter, CCFL angel eyes
INTERIOR Red Nappa leather seats and door cards, Alcantara-trimmed dash, door grab handles and centre console, #Alpine double-DIN head unit, #MB-Quart components front and rear
THANKS A massive thank-you to my family for the support and help putting it all together, Adam and Dav down at Autobahn for the fitting of many parts, Ryan at Ryandetails for the amazing job on the detailing of the paintworkStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationACCEPTABLE IN THE EIGHTIES
This super-clean, white, S50-swapped, two-door E30 is a perfect slice of modified ’80s motoring.
William Green’s E30 harks back to a time when such cars had to be tuned a certain way, and rock a certain look. But he’s given it a modern twist, and a whole lot more horsepower… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: C3Photography.
The 1980s have a lot to answer for. Shoulder pads, Filofaxes, music with synths, Fox-body Mustangs, Grease 2 – there was a lot going on, and much of it was made of brightly coloured plastic. However, the decade wasn’t without its charms; it brought us Cheers, Appetite for Destruction, perestroika, and the charmingly infuriating Rubik’s Cube. And while the TV shows of the era seemed to represent a society eager to eulogise about the easy-going nostalgia of the 1960s – Happy Days, The Wonder Years and so on – the man on the street was firmly on the cutting edge of up-to-the-minute 1980s fantasticality, the sleeves rolled up on his pastel-hued suit, a pair of Wayfarers atop his slicked-back hair, and the keys to an icewhite E30 in his hand.
Oh yes – in the 1980s, the secondgeneration 3 Series was very much where it was at. From South London to South Central LA, there was one aesthetic that anyone who was anyone aspired to: a white E30, preferably a 325i, low-slung over big wheels, with an M-Tech II spoiler proudly adorning the bootlid. That was the real deal. Sure, Magnum P.I. had his Ferrari 308, Miami Vice was all about the Testarossas, and Michael Knight had his sentient Trans Am, but this was the real world. Real people dreamed of Beemers.
The lusted-after look of the era is pretty much as you see here, in the form of William Green’s retro-styled throwback. The exterior is so ’80s it hurts, white-on-white-on-white, with merely a whisper of clearance between those crisp glacier-like arches and the broad, chunky five-spokes beneath. All of the requisite M-Tech II accoutrements are in place. If you can ignore the crowds of excitable teenagers Instagramming the thing with their iPhones and tune out the chemtrails from all the wi-fi signals, you could almost be glimpsing into an authentic late-1980s scenescape.
Ah, but there’s a twist. All’s not as periodcorrect as you might think here – when you peel back the skin and scratch around among the pulpy flesh below, you’ll discover that William’s got one or two restomod tricks up his sleeve…
“I’ve always been a car modifier,” he says, enigmatically. “It all started with my first car, a 1986 VW Golf GTI with a supercharged G60 Corrado engine swap; BMWs came second to VWs at the time, as I then went on to own a ’92 GTI and a ’95 GTI.”
‘Yes,’ I can hear you shouting into the magazine, ‘but when do we get to the E30?!’ Alright, chill out – we’re coming to it. But before we reap the rewards of patience, we need to sow the seeds of an entirely different 3 Series.
“I came across my first E30 when I was in college,” William reminisces, an orchestral James Horner soundtrack swelling in the background. “It was a gunmetal grey 1988 325ix – two-door, five-speed – that was completely refurbished, it looked like a brand-new car. Being a broke college student, I begged my mother to get me that car; she did, and it was the best gift I ever received! I brought it back to college in the Catskill Mountains of NY and the ix really lived up to its name – the all-wheel drive system was flawless.” A handful of wellchosen modifications followed – a custom exhaust, chip tune, intake and coilovers – but nothing too extreme. This wasn’t like that first, manic, engine-swapped project, this was a super-tidy base so he was taking baby steps. The quality of the car spoke for itself really, as three years later a chap drove two thousand miles to make William an offer he couldn’t refuse. And with that chapter behind him, it’s safe to say that he’s firmly made the ideological leap from Wolfsburg to Bavaria. A 2006 530i followed, and then a 2002 M3, but it wasn’t too long before our protagonist began once again hankering for the old-skool. His retro yearning was twofold; firstly after the nostalgia of the 1980s that so many of us of a particular age are unable to escape from, but secondly due to the absolute perfection of his first E30. It was time for history to repeat itself.
Okay, people may say ‘never go back,’ but that’s a load of old toffee. ‘Once bitten, forever smitten’ – that’s more of an appropriate mantra here (ignoring the fact that it comes from an old Vauxhall advert, obviously), and William was more than ready to dive back into the rose-scented waters of E30 ownership.
“I found this ’80s baby in a high-end luxury car dealer just south of Los Angeles,” he explains, effortlessly reeling off a phrase that you could imagine on a T-shirt in H&M. “The car was being sold on consignment, and belonged to the son of the owner’s best friend. It was an unfinished project, and the exterior was probably an 8/10 – and that’s what sealed the deal on buying the car! I knew that everything still left to do was stuff I could take care of myself.”
The car was already fitted with an S50 motor – y’know, like you’d find in an E36 M3 – but it was, shall we say, well used, having chalked up over 140,000 miles. William’s initial plan was to swap it out for an S54, although having weighed up the costs and taken an objective view, he decided to persevere with the S50 and give it a refresh and rebuild. After all, they’re robust old lumps. Hell, 140k is barely run in, right?
“It needed a rebuild pretty much straight away,” he reasons. “The compression was off on two cylinders, so I went ahead and had the head rebuilt and that took care of the engine problems. I also went with the M50 manifold and the S52 exhaust manifold, custom pulleys, injectors, high-flow MAF, and 3.25 LSD. There were a lot of modifications made along the way but these were the initial mods to get the car the way I wanted it.”
The fact that the previous owner had made inroads into the project helped out a lot, as it was already wearing a fresh, periodperfect, ice-white 1980s paint job when William took delivery. He was able to augment this with the oh-so-cool M-Tech II goodies to create that retro style, and it has created what William describes as ‘a neck-breaker’.
“This car has always been a conversation starter at pretty much every car meet or gas station I go to. People love the body kit and the Magnum 17s. Most people go with BBS rims so I decided to stick with a wheel that’s different and displays all the inner workings. I recently started doing autocross too, and this build is perfect for the courses.”
You can imagine how that newergeneration M3 motor helps out when it comes to sporting endeavours, but this car is far from a laser-focused track build; indeed, the interior is something quite special. Up front are a pair of E36 M3 Vaders in black leather, with an E30 M3 bench out back trimmed to match. The E30 M3 gauge cluster was painstakingly rebuilt by an Instagram user by the handle @e30_dad, while the vacuum-of-space effect of all the blackness (the seats, the carpet, the headlining, it’s everywhere) is neatly complemented by a cunning custom audio install that, among much else, features a pair of 8” subs hidden inside the rear panels.
William, like so many feature car owners we talk to, has an obsessive and completist eye for the details, manifested here in the fresh lights, the commitment to the Stormtrooper black/white colour-coding, the OEM+ interior embellishments of disparate provenance, and the cherry picked chassis parts that comprise E36 M3 suspension and brakes, some M Coupé bits and bobs, and a super-tight Z3 steering rack.
In fact, it’s fair to say that this is more than just a car to him. “This car has also inspired me to start my own small business, www.e30head.com,” says William. “I designed an E30 centre console cupholder that was once an old BMW idea that I brought back to life. The enthusiasts love it! And yes, the S54 swap is still a plan that will get executed – I put that build on hold last time because we were having our first child and those funds needed to go to more important purchases, but the timing will be right one day.” And in the meantime, he gets to enjoy a nice thick slice of aspirational nostalgia, rolling the kind of ride that everybody looked up to back in the good ol’ days. Acceptable in the Eighties? Ah, it was more than acceptable. It was rad, def, way cool, totally tubular. And it still is.
The exterior was probably an 8/10 and that’s what sealed the deal on buying the car!
DATA FILE S50-swapped #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-S50 / #BMW
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30US / #S50B30 / #S50 / #BMW-S50 / , custom 3” #Magnaflow exhaust system with high-flow cat and resonator, TMS underdrive pulleys, custom underdrive crank pulley, TMS Jim Conforti remap, new water pump, thermostat, alternator, intake, oil pump, gaskets, TPS, radiator and hoses, E30 M3 wiring harness cover, OBDII E36 exhaust manifolds, E30 Motor Werks skid plate, E36 M3 five-speed gearbox, E30 M3 propshaft, E36 M3 guibo, 3.25 LSD with M Coupé cover, M Coupe halfshafts
CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front and rear) #MVR-Magnum wheels with 215/40 (front and rear) Falken 512 tyres, TC Kline S/A coilovers, #Vorshlag front camber plates, #K-Mac rear adjustable camber/toe bushings, E36 M3 front suspension and brakes, E36 M3 five-lug rear conversion including brakes, #Zimmerman drilled discs all-round, ’96 Z3 2.7 lock-to-lock steering rack, E32 750il brake master cylinder, custom brake booster
EXTERIOR Full respray, #M-Tech II bumpers, side skirts, lip and spoiler, replica #M-Tech II front valance, 6000K Xenon headlights and foglights, new tail-lights, smoked front indicators, black kidney grilles, colour-coded door handles, headlight wipers
INTERIOR E30 M3 gauge cluster, E36 M3 gear knob, E32 leather handbrake handle and gaiter, E36 M3 Vader seats, E30 M3 rear seats, black door panels, M-Tech II steering wheel, black carpet, black headlining, #Alpine CD head unit, 2x custom hidden #MTX-Thunder6000 8” subs in rear panels, Rockford Fosgate 250 two-channel amp and 600 four-channel amp, Kicker speakers
THANKS I’d like to give special thanks to my wife, Ashleigh, who inspired me to start E30Head. To Raphael with Ore Photography Group – without his excellent shots of my car, I don’t think we’d be doing this interview. Diego, the E30 Cluster Master @e30_dad, my biggest supporter from the start. Scott with Renown USA for being one of the first to support my E30 centre console cupholder design
S50-swap is so neat it looks like it could have been a factory job and it gives this E30 some serious go.
This car has always been a conversation starter at pretty much every car meet or gas station I go to.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationACTIN’ CLASSY / #VW-Golf-I / #VW-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Rabbit / #Volkswagen-Rabbit-I / #VW / #VW-Golf / #VAG / #VW-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-1.8-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Turbo-Mk1 /
Sometimes building a car that will last the test of time is harder than building what’s hot right now. As it turns out, keeping it simple can be the biggest challenge of all. Words: David Kennedy. Photos: James Jetton.
Now is it just us looking at it from our point of view or has the #VW scene in general had a massive collective pay rise over the last few years that we don’t know about? Now it’s not that we’re jealous but it can’t just be us that’s noticed that many in the scene seem to have come out the other side of the credit crunch with more cash than ever to throw at their rides!
Not that we’re complaining, of course. The sheer number of amazing cars being built and shown out there has never been higher and the standards of what’s being executed are now almost verging on the ridiculous. Okay, so we might be feeling a teeny-tiny bit jealous but when you have to count the change down the back of the sofa to get enough fuel together to make it to a show and then you see the level of what’s being done to virtually brand-new cars and oldskool rides alike, well, it’s easy to come away wondering where you went wrong in life!
So every now and then we like to check out a car that’s a bit more, you know, real world. Now that’s not saying what’s been done to it is cheap or not done to the highest of standards, far from it, in fact. But sometimes we think it does us all good to show some love to a car that’s more achievable to the masses than the big money builds. Oh and while we’re here, if anyone wants to let us know where all this money that is flooding the VW scene is coming from, hook us up! Anyway, on to the car we’re looking at here: Chad Cronin’s Mk1 Golf.
“I got the Mk1 back in 2010 not long after H20,” Chad remembered. “I was working on a 1979 Scirocco but I was rapidly losing interest in it. We were at a friend’s shop and going through my plans for the ’Rocco and I admitted that I just wasn’t feeling it anymore,” he continued. “Jokingly I said I’d swap it for his Mk1 and we both kind of laughed. A few minutes later he came back and said let’s do it!”
While Chad might not have been feeling the Mk1 Scirocco he had been working on for the year prior to swapping keys with his buddy for the Golf, he was certainly relishing the chance to build a first-gen Golf. “I’d wanted a white Mk1 GTI with round headlights for as long as I could remember. I’ve always been a fan of the simple cleanliness of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s original design and since we didn’t get the original Mk1 here in the US, I thought it would be cool to make my own one,” Chad explained. “It was Danny Delic’s incredible 1979 Mk1 that really did it for me, though. I saw it at H20 in 2010 and just fell in love. That’s not to say I expected to get my car anywhere near the level his is at but seeing his was like seeing the perfect version of my dream car.”
November of that year saw Chad wheel the Mk1 Golf in to his friend’s shop and start pulling the Golf apart along with an 1989 Cabby donor. With good friend Kevin Hassel’s help the Mk1 had its rust treated, a new front core support welded in and the side markers taken off. While that was going on, the Mk1 rag-top gave up its rear beam, front suspension, brakes and, most importantly, it’s 2.0-litre 16v engine.
“The paint is the only area on the car that I regret really,” Chad explained. “Paint is definitely a get what you pay for kind of situation and I didn’t pay all that much. Still, lesson learned…” Worry not – the car looks fantastic in our eyes, Chad, and along with the small rounds lights, front grille, Euro-spec bumpers, OE clear glass and the aforementioned side marker delete, you would be hard pressed to tell it wasn’t a European car from the get-go.
A Newton Commercial carpet and headliner set were drafted in to bring the interior up to the same standard as the exterior, while up front between the A-pillars Chad slotted in the Cabby’s dash complete with a set of Mk2 clocks and a Momo wheel for good measure. Corrado front seats in leather finish the interior off a treat and compliment the OEM+ look of the car perfectly.
“I replaced the coils the car came on with a set of new ST Suspension coilovers which, along with the raised front top mounts allowed me to dial-in the car just the way I wanted it,” he explained with a smile. “I like to be able to drive my cars properly so I didn’t want to sacrifice handling for looks too much, so in went a Scirocco K-brace and a GoKraut chassis crossmember brace, too” he added.
Hitting the junkyard almost every weekend, hunting for Cabbies to pull parts off saw a CE2 loom being put together and the spares box at home gave up enough for a pieced-together Digi2 setup. With that, along with a whole host of other small jobs that go into even the simplest of conversions, the Mk1 was back on the road.
“Over the next two years I continued to make changes to the car as I drove it, such as new brakes and Euro-spec arches so I could complete the GTI livery I wanted, just little things here and there,” Chad explained. After a while, though, Chad decided he wanted a little more power under his right foot and started looking at options to get more out of the 16v that had served him so well up until now.
“It was around the end of 2013, I decided it was time to swap the Digi2 setup out for the far more advanced Megasquirt system I had planned originally,” he continued, “but I soon realised that buying the system didn’t really make sense from a cost point of view if I wasn’t going to go all-out on the 16v. My friend Matt had recently completed a 1.8T swap into his Mk1 and said it was really great. After talking a bit with him and looking into what was required I decided that for dollar-per-horsepower it was actually far better value than the Megasquirt, so I started looking for a donor car.”
When a donor vehicle didn’t come up, Chad widened his search and set about buying everything he needed separately instead. An AMU block, AWP internals and AUG head (got that?) were all picked up from the classifieds and brought together. “Evan Juhlin of Absolute Automotive rebuilt the head while I prepped the block,” he remembered. “Having no experience whatsoever with the 1.8T I decided that the smart thing to do was have someone much more competent than I assemble the long block for me, so I hauled all this stuff to Gerich Kadala at Apex Tuning who immediately went to work.”
With the block and head being given the once over and rebuilt to be good as new, Chad’s job was to track down a suitable turbo and manifold to put the T in 1.8T. “I was a little nervous buying a second-hand turbo but I had a budget to stick to so new wasn’t an option,” he explained. “I shouldn’t have been worried, though. When it turned up it was exactly as described and was perfect.”
With an 02A ’box in the car already, fitting the engine itself was a relatively straightforward job; everything just bolted right on up. “I had a real stroke of luck when it came to the engine harness actually,” Chad remembered. “VW were selling off brand-new old stock AWP harnesses for $100. I just wish I had bought a couple more really!”
With the AWP harness integrated in to the CE2 setup, the engine fired right up. “Hearing that engine fire-up was totally freaking awesome,” Chad laughed, “like, giddy, laughing awesome.” After a month or so of using the car locally to iron out any teething issues Chad hit the road for the 800-mile trip to SoWo in Georgia. The car performed faultlessly, as it did later in the year going roughly the same distance the other way to H20 in Maryland.
“Building the car in my garage has really been a treat. I actually work from home and my office/studio is directly above the garage,” Chad explained, “so sometimes when work gets especially non-productive I can take a break and go downstairs and work on the car. Of course, this can sometimes be a curse, too!”
Chad tells us the Mk1 is done now, save for perhaps a change of headliner colour and a limited-slip diff being installed, as he is now part way through a Caddy build that we wager is going to be just as sweet as his Mk1 is.
“I have to give a big shout out to my wife. She is incredibly tolerant of this weird obsession,” Chad smiled. “She will listen to me talk about things like which valve cover is better or how best to re-pin a connector. Without her support, and the friends who have helped throughout of course, the car wouldn’t be where it is today.”
And where it is today is in that special place of being a #Drive-My feature car in which you wouldn’t be too scared to take the keys and go for a proper drive in. Out and out show cars are all well and good, of course, but for getting out there and using a GTI like it’s meant to be used? We’ll take the understated option every time.
ENGINE: 1.8T, AMU bottom end, longitudinal Passat head, running AWP management with #Unitronic Stage 1+ software, #K03S turbo, Mk1 TT 1.8T downpipe with custom 2.5” exhaust, #02A transmission with 02J tower and #Diesel-Geek five-speed short-shifter.
CHASSIS: 7x15” #ATS-Cups with 185/45/15 tyres, ST coilovers with custom raised front strut mounts, 10.1” front and 9.1” rear disc brakes, Autotech 28mm rear anti-roll bar, modified Scirocco K-brace, GoKraut chassis crossmember brace, late-spec Cabby fuel lines, brake lines, pedal cluster and brake system.
EXTERIOR: Full respray in original #Alpine white, European GTI Livery, black Euro-spec small bumpers and metal rocker and body waist trim, all new gaskets and seals, OE clear glass, side markers deleted, H4 fluted crosshairs.
INTERIOR: New carpet and headliner from Newton Commercial, Cabby dash with Mk2 clocks, A/C delete, Corrado leather seats, Momo Classic steering wheel, full body harness rebuilt and converted to CE2.
SHOUT: First my wife Angela and my daughter Kate for their support and tolerating the hours spent in the garage. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the guys at Apex Tuning: Yareka Chilton, Kevin Hassell and especially Gerich Kalda. Also Evan Juhlin, Ian Nelson, Matt Halley and Steve Jolly.
OEM+ style 1.8T install is right up our street. Not too shiny, not too far away from how a Mk1 1.8T may have left the factory.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationEVERY CLOUD… #BMW-525e / #BMW-525e-E28 / #BMW-E28 / #BMW /
This show-stopping E28 has gone from rags to riches. Words: Josh Wilson. Sometimes your dream purchase can turn out to be a bit of a nightmare. Fortunately, a bit of TLC can make all the difference, as this sexy E28 demonstrates. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.
“Something about the lines and old-school styling grabbed my attention right away”
Finding the right car for pouring our hard earned wages into can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to vintage chassis. Scouring for sale ads, dealing with sellers and getting all the details can be a bit of a chore but at some point we reach the rewarding conclusion and find ‘the one’. For some we get exactly what was expected in our newly purchased project car but others, like Rob Amason, find themselves desperately seeking a silver lining when a purchase tailspins into a downward spiral. In 2011, Rob began the search for his next project after migrating from the Volkswagen scene to the BMW community. Originally Rob was set on an elegant white five-speed E34 but during the search came across a well-maintained E28 and thoughts of owning an E34 became a distant memory.
“Something about the lines and old-school styling grabbed my attention right away,” he explained. “I immediately started daydreaming about the possibilities of what the car could become.”
Once Rob had made contact with the owner he quickly realised that he was speaking to a devoted BMW enthusiast who had decided to let go of his E28 as he had moved to newer models. Even though the owner was keen to sell the car he didn’t want to sell it to just anyone. He had found it sitting under a tree years ago and nursed it back to health and the thought of some young kid buying the car and just hacking it up made him cringe.
So in the end, it took Rob two months of trading emails and calls trying to coax the owner to sell the E28. His persistence finally paid off, though, and he became the owner of what he thought would be the perfect base for his build. But after his E28 rolled off of the car hauler fresh from California, Rob found himself with a car that wasn’t in the condition that the previous owner had stated.
He quickly noticed that the respray lacked quality, the interior had more wear than the pictures revealed and the Style 5s that came with the car were beyond saving due to being chipped and kerbed. The beginning of his build had begun with heartbreak but then came the silver lining: under the cheap paint was a body that was completely rust-free. Even the floor was intact.
The exterior of this classic looking E28 has been kept clean, showcasing its timeless body lines. Rob carried out a full respray in the original Royal Blau that this car would have come off the production line with back in 1988. He also did us all a favour by tossing the original US-spec bumpers in the dumpster and replacing them with European-spec items, which we think help massively clean up the look of not just this but all older BMWs. Other accents like Euro headlamps, Euro grilles and Euro all-red tail lamps were added to complete the look.
Next on Rob’s ‘to-do’ list was the interior as he wasn’t a fan of the original pearl beige and black interior. The car was completely gutted with the help of Will Villegas – a fellow enthusiast. Recaro Evo 8 front seats and a rear seat from an M5 now reside inside his E28 which have been completely reupholstered along with the doorcards, handles and gear gaiter. Custom upholstery seems to be hard to pull off in vintage BMWs but Rob has managed to give the interior a fresh look while still keeping the overall feel of the car the same, a seemingly simple task that is rarely accomplished as well as this.
The biggest challenge for Rob to tackle was the air suspension. Today, finding an air setup for older BMWs is a pretty simple task but back in 2011 before the air suspension explosion it was not so easy. The only E28 on air at this time, in the States at least, was the infamous Rusty which was built by Mike Burroughs who has graced these very pages.
Knowing that Mike’s setup was a one-off setup, Rob enlisted the expertise of Drew Dorbritz from Dorbritz Design in Texas. Rob and Drew sat down and brainstormed what they hoped to accomplish and also what options existed out there to use as a base. Once they had done the groundwork, they worked alongside performance air suspension specialist Air Lift to create a setup with a balance of form and function.
This pioneering work would also serve as a roadmap for future E28 and E30 owners looking to do similar modifications. As you can imagine, in order to get an E28 with its control arms sitting on the pavement it was necessary to carry out some fabrication work, mainly due to the stock spindles and struts. However, despite the low ride height no modifications to the E28’s body was required, leaving the elegant lines unmolested. To manage the Air Lift suspension, Rob went with Accuair’s eLevel Air Management which is tucked away – adding to the car’s clean composition.
Speaking of being tucked away, Rob has been through a multitude of wheels with this E28 but currently the BMW is sitting on a set of chrome Rotiform SJC Race wheels. These fill the arches nicely as they measure 9x17” in each corner. Peeking out behind those eye-grabbing Rotiforms is a custom Futura Design Big Brake Kit up front with E32 750iL brakes helping out in the rear.
Even with all the upgrades to the suspension, interior, and drivetrain Rob still loves the fact that this E28 still has that oldschool feel. “I love all the quirky little things that come with being the caretaker of an antique class car,” he told us with a big smile. “The fact that sometimes I have to give the dash a gentle tap to get the lights to turn on or that in cold weather I have to allow the car to warm up a bit before getting on the road doesn’t matter at all.
That’s what I like about it! It has real character. I even love the smell of the interior… it’s a scent that only a 26-year-old car can give you.” We agree, it’s an encompassing experience that carmakers can only dream to achieve with their modern offerings. It’s a shame that some will never experience it as they don’t see it as character, rather it’s an inconvenience. It’s been a three-year love affair for Rob and his beautiful #1988 E28, a journey that began with its troubles but has resulted in a resurrection of a beloved chassis with an elegant aura. For Rob, though, it has been more than just building and restoring this E28 as he’s made some good friends through his hobby. “Thankfully this build has helped introduce into my life a great number of relationships that I normally wouldn’t have had the opportunity to enjoy,” he said. “And while I built this car with a specific vision in mind, it was also with determination that I wanted to build something that was a true reflection of who I am as a person and something that everyone could appreciate. There is never an instance where everyone will be satisfied with what you’ve done but when I take account the relationships that have been forged over this build, the best trophy of all as been the friendships I’ve made.”
ENGINE: 2.7-litre straight-six #M20B27 / #M20 / #BMW-M20 , upgraded head with 885 casting and dual-valve springs, upgraded camshaft, upgraded intake and exhaust valves, upgraded harness and ECU to 173 #Bosch-Motronic with performance chip, powdercoated intake manifold and valve cover, fully polished and upgraded throttle body.
CHASSIS: 9x17” ET10 (front and rear) #Rotiform / #Rotiform-SJC Race wheels with 3” lips and Falken Ziex tyres. #Air-Lift-Universal-Double-Bellow bag with air strut (front), #Air-Lift Universal Sleeve Bag air strut (rear), #AccuAir #eLevel air management system with rocker control, Dual polished tanks with hardlines in custom trunk enclosure, Dual chrome #Viar silent compressors, custom #Futura-Design Big Brake Kit with two-piece discs with anodised blue hats, calipers powdercoated in #Alpine white with blue logos (front), drilled and grooved discs (front), stainless brake hoses (front), new master cylinder, rear brakes upgraded to E32 750iL brakes.
EXTERIOR: Full European conversion comprising Euro front and rear bumpers, Euro headlamps, front Euro grill, rear Euro all-red tail lamps.
INTERIOR: Custom Recaro Evo 8s (front), custom M5 rear seats, custom doorcards, handles and gear gaiter, NRG quick release steering wheel hub and adapter, NRG Wood grain steering wheel and matching gear knob.
AUDIO: #Sony GS Series Audio with XS-GS1720 and XSGS1720S speakers, 12” XS-GS120LD DVC subwoofer, XM-GS400 4/3/2 channel amplifier, XM-GS100 Class D subwoofer amplifier, MEX-BT4100P Bluetooth receiver with Pandora, custom sub and amp enclosure built by German Audio Specialists.
THANKS: First and foremost, I’d like to thank my sons who’ve spent their fair share of hours handing me wrenches, cleaning parts and pushing it in and out of the garage when it wasn’t running. Those friends that took time from their own busy schedules to turn a wrench here and there in exchange for beer and laughter: Will Villegas, Greg Strube, Drew Dorbritz and Team16NiSS. My supports: Meguiars, Futura Designs, German Audio Specialists, Sony Audio, #UndergroundGrfx , Accuair , Kustomz Unlimited and Dorbitz Designs Kustom Shoppe. Special thanks to Courtney Cutchen for the photography work, Josh Wilson for the literary work and CAtuned for the opportunity.
Custom Futura Design BBK sits behind 9x17” Rotiform SJC Race wheels, which tuck perfectly when aired-out.
Easily one of the shiniest air-ride boot builds we’ve seen, with polished hardpipes galore, and it’s immaculate.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationIncredible supercharged custom widebody air-ride E46 M3 / #BMW
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Boasting a custom wide-body kit, air-ride, supercharger and custom interior, we challenge you to find a more complete project car than this staggering E46 M3.
Exploding onto the scene and tearing through it with the ferocity of a supercharged tornado, this E46 M3 is a devastating lesson in the theory that more can most definitely be more. Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: Tony Lopez
When building a project car there are numerous approaches and end goals you can look to achieve: some people build out-and-out show cars; some people build ferocious fast road cars; some people go for an all-out audio build; and some go to town on styling. When Rick Fontan got to work on his E46 M3 he decided to do, well, everything. We feature a lot of amazing cars in Drive-My but it’s not that often that we come across a car that has been modified as absolutely as this, on every level, and this is one of those cars that, when we first saw it, genuinely took our breath away.
Of course, we’re sure that Rick will be the first person to admit that his car isn’t going to be met with universal appeal – it has been blowing minds like a brain bomb and collecting awards like some kind of giant award-collecting magnet since he rolled it out earlier in the year for the first time but there’s plenty here that will raise many an eyebrow. Those chopped front arches, for example, the highly unconventional bonnet setup, the fact that he’s blended so many different elements that in many ways conflict with each other and brought them together in one project. It’s definitely not a conventional build and by that very virtue he’s created something incredibly noticeable. Sometimes, when you come across a build that incorporates so many different elements, the end result can be a little jarring, with components that really don’t look like they belong together and it can be a little unpalatable – it’s the meat trifle from Friends, a lot of potentially delicious ingredients coming together to make something that’s hard to stomach but somehow Rick has made his vision work.
He’s plucked that vision from his brain and translated it into a tangible object that is coherent and, more than that, genuinely good. For all its wideness, angularity and sheer eyeball-punching impact, there is an inherent smoothness and oneness to this E46 M3. Everything flows together: the bodywork is wild but the Lamborghini Grigio silver paint is quite subtle; the wheels are large and multi-piece, yes, but sport a simple design; the purple highlights that appear throughout are just right in terms of colour and number to tie numerous elements together without overwhelming the car’s overall aesthetic and while the components might be unlikely bedfellows somehow everything just feels right together. A lot of thought and work has gone into this build and it shows.
So, just what kind of man builds this sort of car and why? “I have been into BMWs since I was about 19 years old. That’s when I first started getting into cars in general,” muses the now 33-year-old Rick. “BMW has always been respected in the show scene, on the street, and on the track. I think that’s what makes it so special. It covers all aspects of what a car should be and how it should be built. I had a Mitsubishi Eclipse for about four years before selling it to buy the M3. It was fully built by the time I sold it and I had won multiple awards with that build and even landed a magazine feature. I bought the M3 in 2006 from a dealership in Queens. It was a little beat up and had about 50,000 miles on it but that didn’t bother me at all because I already knew it was only a matter of time before I would start modifying it anyway. This was my dream car and as soon as I saw the opportunity to get one, I jumped on it. My inspiration came from Craig Liberman and his ‘uber’ M3; I was obsessed with that car and just knew I had to build one of my own and I had it all mapped out. I knew exactly what I wanted to do to it before I even knew purchasing one was an actual possibility.
“Going in I knew I wanted to build a show car. I had to make sure all areas of the car were addressed, especially the motor as it is the one area that everyone asks to see. I couldn’t have a built car without any engine modifications, that’s a no-go!
“My car had to be equally balanced. I made sure to modify the engine enough to be able to put it on a track as well as look amazing just sitting there on a showroom floor.” He’s certainly delivered on that front. The engine work isn’t insane but it’s nice to see a car built on this scale running something attainable under the engine bay – although that’s not to say this isn’t a seriously powerful and subsequently fast E46 M3.
There’s no missing that Vortech supercharger, painted in Candy purple, with a TurboSmart blow-off valve but you won’t be able to spot the uprated pulley and belt that help up the boost. There’s a Vibrant front mount intercooler with custom piping, Driven Innovations intake manifold and Agency Power stainless steel exhaust manifolds which lead to custom GTR-style side exit exhausts. Rick has paid a lot of attention to the fuelling, with Injector Dynamics ID725 fuel injectors and an upgraded fuel rail, while in the back you’ll find an ATL fuel cell, an amazing ATL dual dry break filler, plus a Bosch 044 fuel pump and Aeromotive fuel regulator. What’s most impressive, though, is not what’s in the engine bay but what isn’t, as the bay’s been shaved and a full wire tuck has been carried out. It looks spectacular for it; no wonder it’s Rick’s favourite mod on the entire car. “It takes the entire build of the car to the next level,” he says. “Plus, it’s very rare to see an M3 with this style of build and a shaved bay.” He’s not wrong. The super-clean bay draws your eye to engine and the ’charger and it makes the Candy purple highlights even more spectacular against the simple silver background.
With the Vortech blower and supporting mods, Rick’s M3 is putting out an impressive 450whp and that means some equally impressive drivetrain and chassis mods are required in order to be able to put that to good use. Originally this was an SMG car but Rick has swapped in a manual gearbox mated to an uprated UUC Stage 2 clutch and UUC flywheel to deal with the serious boost in power while a short-shifter takes a bit of travel out of the M3’s surprisingly long throw for quicker, sharper gear changes. For the brakes, Rick turned to StopTech, slapping on the company’s seriously powerful six-pot front kit with two-piece slotted discs which is matched to an ever-soslightly smaller four-pot setup at the rear, with tucked braided hoses all-round and purple calipers, naturally.
It won’t have escaped your attention that this car is on air and Rick’s reasoning is sound: “I went for this setup to have the best of both worlds. With suspension like this it allows me to drive the car daily, set the ride height lower if I were to track it, slam it down to the floor or even raise it high enough to drive onto a trailer.” His kit of choice is Air Lift’s excellent offering along with the equally excellent V2 controller. The suspension mods haven’t stopped there and this E46 M3 has also been treated to uprated front and rear anti-roll bars, carbon fibre lower control arms and a rear camber kit, plus the entire undercarriage has been Stoneguard powdercoated.
We mentioned the wheels earlier and that the simple design works really well against the riot of styling that’s going on at the same time. “I’ve always liked the mesh type of wheels,” says Rick, “but with this type of build I decided to go with five-spoke wheels. I feel it gives the car an aggressive look and displays my brake setup beautifully.” We agree – the spoke spacing on the three-piece 20” SSR Professor SP1 wheels that he’s opted for is massive, meaning everyone gets a great view of those huge brakes, and the 10” front and 12” rears mean serious dish.
As far as the exterior of this car is concerned, there’s no two ways about it: it’s utterly insane. It’s not going to appeal to everyone but there’s no denying how much work has gone into it and how spectacular the end result it. “The styling of this car has been through many different stages over the years,” Rick tells us. “There were many problems and challenges along the way because of all the different shops it went to, but about three years ago my car finally landed at AMS Autowerks where the final transformation took place. Even that was a challenge in itself. Diogo Acevedo, the owner, had to rip the car apart and basically start from scratch.”
A big job then, but that’s kind of stating the obvious. So what exactly have we got here? Well, for starters, there’s the custom wide-body kit with its extreme arches and those sections chopped from the rear of each one which really makes this car unique. Elsewhere there’s carbon fibre – lots and lots of carbon fibre – with a custom carbon front lip, Vorsteiner carbon boot and roof, carbon headlight overlays, and M front, side grilles and emblems for good measure. The fat exhausts poke out from the side skirts and have been fitted with custom heat shields to stop them from melting the kit and then there’s the bonnet, or rather the lack of it. Now, at first glance you might think that Rick has popped his bonnet off for the photos, as you often see guys doing, but look a little closer and you realise that, no, what you’re seeing is the bonnet in its entirety. Rick says it’s a custom 1/3 bonnet and closer inspection reveals that basically the front 1/3 of the bonnet has been retained and mounted as it normally would be while the rest of it has essentially been chopped off and possibly discarded in a hedge somewhere. It’s very different and pretty cool for its double-take factor.
Moving inside there’s barely time to take a breather as the car continues to assault your senses. “The interior needed to look as clean as the rest of the car and to continue the exterior theme as well,” says Rick. This meant stripping stuff out and painting a whole bunch of things Candy purple. The whole interior has been trimmed in suede with purple stitching and up front Rick has plumped for a pair of Recaro Profi XL seats along with Schroth Profi 5 harnesses and a Vertex steering wheel mounted on a Momo hub. There’s carbon trim galore, along with a carbon gear knob and a custom dash housing an AIM stack cluster, boost gauge and ATL fuel gauge, plus a custom carbon bezel for the Alpine touchscreen head unit. The digital controller for the air suspension has been mounted in the driver’s air vent – a neat touch. The rear seats are gone and in their place sits a custom roll-cage, finished in Candy purple, a purple air tank and the Focal four-channel and mono amps for the seriously impressive audio setup. The front doors house the Focal K2 Power three-way speakers while the boot area is home to a pair of custom-mounted 10” Focal Utopia Be subs, which share the space with that incredible fuel setup.
So, there we have it. If you’ve ever wondered what you could achieve with your car given nine years and a truck-load of cash, hard work and determination, wonder no more because you’re looking at it. It’s not just the overall end result that’s mind-blowing, because it is, but it’s the attention to detail that’s gone into it, the thought, the creativity. Every aspect of the car makes you stop, look, look again and marvel. Do you love it? Do you love all of it? Maybe, maybe not, but we can guarantee it’s getting a reaction from you.
And that’s what this car does best: get people’s attention. “After three years of completely rebuilding the car it was debuted in August of 2015 at the Tuner Evolution car show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The crowd’s reaction was priceless as show-goers looked at it in amazement. The judges felt the same way as it was awarded ‘Best of Show’. Later that month I showed it at Wekfest East in Edison, New Jersey and also took ‘Best of Show’,” Rick says beaming like a proud father seeing his child winning a trophy at sports day. This isn’t just a car, it’s an extension of Rick, the physical manifestation of his vision and it’s the kind of car, the kind of complete car that you know was not a casual build. If you haven’t guessed, we kind of love it, it’s an absolutely awesome car on every level and proves that more is most definitely more.
Rear seats long-gone and in their place is a custom Candy purple roll-cage, air tank and two amps.
“I made sure to modify the engine enough to be able to put it on a track as well as look amazing just sitting there on a showroom floor”
“The interior needed to look as clean as the rest of the car and to continue the exterior theme as well”
DATA FILE Supercharged #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-E46-Supercharged / #BMW-M3-Supercharged
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 , #Vortech-supercharger / #Vortech , upgraded belt and pulley, oil cooler, Vibrant front mount intercooler with custom piping, #Vibrant hoses, Agency Power stainless steel exhaust manifolds, #Injector-dynamics-ID725 fuel injectors, upgraded fuel rail, Driven Innovations intake manifold, #TurboSmart blowoff valve, Custom GTR-style side mounted exhausts, #ATL fuel cell, ATL dual dry break filler, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, #Aeromotive fuel regulator, reinforced sheet metal trunk, all braided stainless steel lines, Candy purple painted accents, shaved engine bay, full wire tuck. Est. 450whp.
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual transmission swap, upgraded clutch, short-shift, #UUC Stage 2 clutch, UUC flywheel, Chase Bays brake booster eliminator.
CHASSIS 10x20” (front) and 12x20” (rear) SSR #Professor SP1 three-piece wheels with 255/30 (front) and 305/25 (rear) Toyo Proxes T1-R tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance air suspension, uprated anti-roll bars (front and rear), carbon fibre lower control arms, rear camber kit, Stoneguard powdercoated entire undercarriage, #StopTech ST-60 #BBK with slotted discs (front) and ST-40 BBK with slotted discs (rear) with purple callipers (front and rear), braided stainless steel brake lines, brake line tuck.
EXTERIOR Custom-built wide-body kit, custom 1/3 mini bonnet, Vorsteiner carbon fibre boot, carbon fibre front lip, custom splitter, #Vorsteiner carbon fibre roof, carbon fibre headlight overlays, carbon fibre M front and side grilles, carbon fibre emblems, custom heat shield for exhaust, Lamborghini Grigio silver paint.
INTERIOR #Recaro-Profi-XL bucket seats, Schroth Profi 5 harnesses, custom roll-cage in Candy purple, full suede interior with purple stitching, #Vertex steering wheel, #Momo hub, M Tech pedals, carbon fibre gear knob, custom dashboard, AIM stack cluster, boost gauge, ATL fuel gauge, custommounted V2 controller, custom carbon fibre bezel, interior LED lighting, rear seat delete.
AUDIO #Alpine LCD touchscreen head unit, #Focal-K2 Power threeway speakers, #Focal-FPS3000 mono amplifier, #Focal-FPS4160 four-channel amplifier, #Dynamat sound dampening, #Focal crossovers, 2 #Focal-Utopia Be 10” subs.
THANKS I would like to give a special thanks to my parents because without them none of this would’ve been possible. Their continued support throughout the years is what allowed me to pursue this passion and push me to complete this build. I want to thank all my family and friends that helped me along the way. To my girl for all her patience and support and being part of this with me, AMS Autowerks in Linden, NJ, Audio Clinic in Belleville, NJ, Branch Brook Auto Top in Newark, NJ, and, of course, to #Drive-My for allowing me to grace the cover of your magazine and show the car to the world.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHIS SHOOT WAS LAYING IN MY VAULTS FOR QUITE SOME TIME AND WHEN WE DECIDED TO DO A OLD SCHOOL ISSUE THIS LITTLE 2002 POPPED INTO MY HEAD IMMEDIATLY.
I 've always seen Uzzy‘s #BMW-2002 on the blogs and social media pages and always wanted to shoot this little Bavarian bundle of joy. I called up Uzzy not long after I moved up to Jozi - fittingly, we met up at a BMW track day at Kyalami just before the plastic surgery started.
Many of you would probably wonder why we would feature this car - and fair enough - but let me explain, I trust the pictures have already convinced you. This car's history tells a story of a trendetter. BMW’s 2002 is the car that literally spawned the popular Sport GT category and in the end, some would say it was the main reason why the Bavarian Motor Werks became the successful car company that it is today.
Uzzy was lucky enough to get his hands on one of these very sought after cult cars - perhaps even one of the most ultimate cult cars - so for him to have picked up one in the condition that he found it, must have been fate.
Uzzy now uses his baby as a daily drive and almost 40 years after the last little 02 hopped off the production line, I must say it still drives and looks as gorgeous as ever - these little Tii's were made to drive, and drive hard.
Since getting the car, Uzzy has added a set of original 13” Compomotive CX wheels, 7j in front and 8j in the rear - getting them polished and changing the black centres to the silver you see in the pictures. These pretty little wheels
are running on 175/50 tyres, giving it just the right amount of stretch. To round off the car's form, Uzzy also had the springs compressed to about 50mm in the front and 35mm in the rear, so admittedly, not much was needed to give him the desired look.
Usually one would expect some hiccups when buying an older car but Uzzy decided to avoid all the issues that could come from the motor and decided to redo it completely, however we're glad he kept ti the standard 2-litre 8V #M10 as far as possible. Probably the biggest and least visible mod this '02 has undergone is in the boot setup, done by Kimo's Custom Audio who wrapped the panels in leather and suede, hiding a small 10" Starsound woofer and a 4-channel amplifier, while the front has an old school #Alpine radio.
Now I know it doesn't "sound" like much, or even look like much, but that's how Uzzy went about the styling of the car. His initial plan was to always add his own flair to the car but resisting the urge to overdo the styling in order to bring the car back to its OEM state. Personallly, I love what he's done to the car. Subtle sophisticated changes makes the car stand out from the crowd, and over the last couple of months, it's taken home a few trophies from local shows: two of the most noticable would have to be the Best of Show at German Vsjapan, as well as ...e third place in the Show and Shine at the #BMW Concourse which I felt is a pretty amazing achievement for a daily drive.
This 2002 will be all over the scene and if you get to see it - just smile and enjoy one of Germanys coolest exports. I had a blast shooting this car - I still get excited everytime I see it.
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- Post is under moderationIT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS #BMW
On the surface this is a very nice #BMW-E46 M3 but dig deeper and you’ll discover it’s been modified to an incredible level. At first glance Pete Sidwell’s E46 M3 is clearly something pretty special, but go in closer and this thing is just off the scale… Words: Ben Koflach /// Photos: Louis Ruff @ Definitive
Let’s face it, we all love to tinker with our cars – you probably wouldn’t be reading this magazine if you didn’t. Whether it’s a set of lowering springs, a change of wheels or something as big as an engine swap, many of us can probably claim to have worked on a few areas of our cars to improve or personalise them.
There are some people, however, who take things a step further and set out to not only personalise their cars, but take them to a level of finish far higher than they left the factory with. Pete Sidwell is one of the those people: “I bought an E46 M3 because I’d wanted one from the moment I saw them in magazines,” he began. “I’d had mainly Japanese cars before, but wanted something more luxurious after running a WRX for a couple of years. It took me six months to find the right one – I’d almost given up! I finally found one just ten miles away from my home, having travelled all over the country looking at them. I wanted a nonsunroof, non-nav, manual Coupé in Silver grey with full service history, 19s and as low a mileage as I could afford. It had just 40k on it when I got it.
“This was in July 2010, and I had the intention of mildly modifying it but then the bug bit and I couldn’t stop!” smiled the 33-year-old aircraft engineer. “My initial mods were very basic, then after attending a few shows I decided that I wanted to create something more unique. I met James from Redish Motorsport in February 2012 and the car moved to a whole new level.”
Up to this point, Pete had fitted a #Vorsteiner-V-CSL carbon fibre bumper, dropped the car on KW V3s and was running Kawasaki Ninja green-centred #BBS LMs, along with CSL rear end goodies and an Eisenmann exhaust. It was down at Redish Motorsport in Bristol that things really started to take off – James Redish dropped almost the entirety of the car’s underside and disassembled it all, before sending virtually every component off for blasting and powdercoating.
After putting in an extensive order to the dealers – which included numerous screws, bolts, new wheel bearings, underside plastics and much more – Redish set about cleaning up the underneath. The all-toocommon rear subframe mounting cracks were addressed with welding repairs and reinforcement plates, before the brake and fuel lines were removed and the whole underside was cleaned and re-coated with fresh seam sealer where needed and underseal over the whole lot. At this point all of the parts returned from powdercoating – Pete chose to have the rear subframe, trailing arms, diff heatsink, V-brace, engine undertray and suspension springs coated in a darker shade of the Ninja green that his wheels had been painted in, while the rear upper control arms were painted in blue to match the Hardrace adjustable lower control arms that would be going on. With new brake and fuel lines made and fitted, the rest of the refit process could begin.
As part of this process, the freshly powdercoated chassis bits were fitted with polybushes, including Powerflex subframe and front control arm bushes along with Rogue Engineering rear trailing arm bushes. Then, once the fuel tank and all of the heatshields had been refitted, the subframe was bolted in and the suspension components were added to it piece by piece. The rear control arms were attached along with the trailing arms, shocks and springs, and from there the rear hubs were built back up with new brake discs and pads, Goodridge braided flexi lines and refurbished calipers.
From here, the diff could be bolted back together and reinstalled along with new CVJ grease and a new joint gasket, before the newly painted driveshafts were hoisted into position too. The freshly painted anti-roll bar and brackets could then be fitted along with Powerflex bushes. Finally, the prop, exhaust heat shields and the exhaust itself could be installed, rendering the E46 far better than when it left the factory in 2004. “It was a huge job,” James Redish chipped in. “But due to Pete’s excellent planning and prep work, and our commitment to this job, it was completed in just eight days. It was a really enjoyable project and one which I won’t forget in a hurry,” he smiled.
Redish has gone on to offer this underside restoration service for all manner of BMWs, and its E46 M3 boot floor repair is fast becoming the industry standard – it has developed its own reinforcement plates and offers a fantastic service.
After all of the work on the underside, Pete turned his attention to the interior once more. He fitted a Storm Motorwerks titanium-plated gear knob and handbrake grip, as well as perforated leather gaiters with green stitching and had the centre armrest trimmed to match. The steering wheel was updated thanks to a full retrim by Royal Steering Wheels with perforated black leather grips, Alcantara sections and an oversteer marker all with green stitching. Then it was time to add some green flashes to the underbonnet area, which was done with a full complement of Samco coolant and ancillary hoses. A billet oil filter cover was fitted too, and after countless hours spent cleaning, the car was ready for its first proper show outing at Gaydon BMW Festival 2012.
“Gaydon 2012 was a bit gutting,” explained Pete. “I couldn’t get the bonnet up! We’d spent at least three full days prepping and replacing parts under there and got all of my Samco hoses fitted ready for the show, only to be let down by a faulty bonnet pin!” However, as you can imagine, the underside of the car was still wellreceived. Pete was far from done with the engine anyway, and in the year that followed, he worked on something that would truly make his car unique…
First up, the secondary air pump was removed. Then, in its place, Pete plumbed in an oil catch can to stop harmful oil vapours being recirculated into the engine and was, of course, painted Kawasaki Ninja green. The next step really stirred up some controversy, as Pete removed the velocity stacks from his OE air box, had them powdercoated in his trademark green and set about running them as open trumpets.
The method of doing this is relatively simple, but to do it without losing power and as neatly as Pete has is quite something. The key to making sure the switch to open the trumpets ran as well as possible was keeping heat out of the engine bay, and cold air going towards the intake. For this, Pete had his OEM bonnet put under the knife, with GTR style vents installed to draw heat from underneath it. The rest of the work mostly included vents and ducts to fire cool air over the intakes.
Before mapping, the car was running pretty rich and Pete even noticed that it was shooting fire from the intakes – spectacular, but not ideal. In the interlude between finishing the mechanical side and mapping it, Pete also pressed on with a number of transmission upgrades, the parts for which he’d slowly been gathering over the period of a few months. This included a TTV ‘Lite’ flywheel, weighing just 5.1kg, along with a Stage 2 clutch (capable of handling 50% more torque than the OE clutch), Sachs nonself- adjusting pressure plate, a new clutch release bearing and a phosphor bronze pivot pin. Once that lot was bolted up along with new OE flywheel and clutch bolts, the outside of the box could be furnished with new parts too, namely a Goodridge braided clutch line and CDV delete, Rogue Engineering transmission mounts and an E60 545i shifter, which reduces the throw by around 30% when compared to an original E46 M3 item.
“All of the transmission upgrades really worked out great,” Pete smiled. “The shift is noticeably quicker, the clutch pedal feels great (although heavy), and the engine feels loads more responsive.” Ah yes, back to that engine – Pete fitted a set of ITG sock filters just in time for mapping, which revealed some surprising results.
First off, Pete had reinstalled the factory air box to get a base figure from it. “I took the car to Wayne at ChipWizards in Warrington. Three base runs were laid down in the car’s initial state,” he commented. “We recorded a healthy 351.1hp and 277lb ft. Wayne was impressed with the figures, and it seemed consistent with the car having adapted to modifications and running cleaner air with the catch tank since it was dyno’d at 345hp by Evolve in 2012.
“Luke [from Redish Motorsport] and I then set about stripping off all the OEM kit and bolting the stacks and filters back on, and then wiring in the Inlet Air Temperature sensor kit. Initial dyno runs with the original map and no MAF showed the car to have lost about 10hp across the rev range with some significant holes in the powerband and torque curves at about 1900 and 2600rpm. Wayne was confident that he could iron out the trouble spots and get the car running better. The ECU was reflashed with a seriously tweaked Alpha-N file, and we went from there…
“At about half 8 that evening, Wayne was still busy with the car as it was creating a few weird AFRs, so we decided to take the stacks apart and just give them a good clean. The next run then showed 389.2hp and 297lb ft of torque with no holes in the power band and it sounded unbelievable! We finally finished at about midnight, with the car driving like a dream.”
With the final print-out reading as 312.4hp and 255lb ft at the wheels (the aforementioned figures being at the flywheel), Pete was understandably a happy man. With an addiction to the new found power and induction noise, it was only a matter of time before things were stepped up a notch yet again.
“I started stockpiling parts for the next stage of my build, beginning with a Cobra Imola Pro-Fit GT bucket seat. Initially I could only run one in the car as it was my daily and I had to get the kids in the back!” Pete laughed. With this and the plans in mind, Pete’s attention also turned to the chassis and braking setups once more. First up, a set of Michelin Pilot Supersports were ordered up in CSL sizes, as Pete had new wheels in mind, and the K Sport brakes he had previously were ditched for something far more premium. “The kit I ordered was Alcon’s 365mm offering with six-piston calipers – I upgraded as I intended to make my car more track-orientated.”
Pete’s final exterior touch – and one that shows off those Alcons even better – was a set of #Quantum 44 S1s in 9.5x19” sizing with staggered offsets. “I’d decided it was time for a change, and after speaking to Chris at CM Wheels we decided that the car needed something different and fresh!” smiled Pete. “The result was the first set of Quantum44 S1s in these sizes, custom painted to suit my car. The concave faces of the wheels are crazy – I love them – and the green detail looks immense when the car is rolling!” Shod in those CSL-sized Michelin Pilot Cup Sports and bolted up with a wheel stud conversion, the wheels truly do set the car apart. With the Ninja green spoke detail on each wheel tying them in with the rest of the build, it has simply elevated Pete’s car to the next level.
The final step was getting the interior finished, and Pete hasn’t done things by half: “Over the next few months I managed to squeeze in plenty of modding,” he explained. “I had my Cobra buckets re-done with green stitching and fitted them. I also removed the rear seats and built a custom rear area.” This rear part of the interior included stripping out all of the wiring and bracketry to reduce weight as much as possible, and then Pete built panelling to neaten everything up. This was trimmed in Alcantara, and the rear doorcards were given the same treatment too. Pretty much all that you’ll find in the back these days is a fire extinguisher!
The finishing touch was fitting CSL-style doorcards, using all genuine mounting parts. As they’re painted to match the wheels, they tie in perfectly: “My old carbon fibre dash inserts are gathering dust in the garage now, as I had a set of standard ones painted to match the doorcards. I also built a new carbon dash panel and located switches in it for an electric fan and eventually for an exhaust bypass valve as well as an IAT gauge and the mirror switch.
“I’m really happy with how the car is now – future plans are to retire it from daily use and make it more track-orientated with 4:10 gearing, a cage and a CAE shifter,” grinned Pete. “My current favourite parts? I just love how I’ve tied all the parts together, how it sits and handles, and most of all the insane induction roar it makes! It never fails to put a smile on my face!”
With a seriously unique appearance under the bonnet, inside the car, underneath the car and on the surface, Pete can proudly say that he owns one of, if not the most reworked E46 M3s in the country. Not only has he modified it extensively to suit his taste and needs, but he’s seen to it that the whole car has been enhanced in every area, rendering it better than standard. It’s come a long way, and knowing Pete, he won’t be slowing up on it anytime soon.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-E46
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 , custom velocity stack setup with #ITG sock filters, custom carbon fibre heatshield & air temp sensor bracket, #Samco intake hose boots, Ramair idle control valve filter, custom cold air feeds, #Eisenmann 83mm Le Mans ‘Race’ exhaust, 100 cell cats, custom oil catch tank & brackets, secondary air pump delete, custom Alpha-N map with rear lambda and air pump delete, carbon fibre/kevlar engine cover with monochrome badge, #Samco lime green coolant & ancillary hoses, TTV ‘Lite’ 5.1kg flywheel, custom flywheel bolts
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual gearbox, #Sachs sintered four-puck clutch, Sachs #ZF non-self-adjusting pressure plate, braided clutch line, CDV delete, Phosphor Bronze clutch pivot pin, E60 shift lever, Rogue Engineering transmission mounts, all new hardware
CHASSIS 9.5x19” ET40 (front) and 9.5x19” ET22 (rear) #Quantum 44 S1 wheels (with matt gunmetal lips and barrels, matte black spokes with Kawasaki Ninja green detailing) with 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) tyres, 12mm TPI hubcentric front spacers, 10mm #H&R hubcentric rear spacers, 75mm wheel stud kit, R10 titanium wheel nuts, KW V3 coilovers with custom painted springs and Nitron rear spring perches, Rogue Engineering rear shockmounts, KW uprated front droplinks, Hardrace adjustable rear control arms, Redish Motorsport rear subframe reinforcement, Powerflex Black Series front control arm bushes, Powerflex front anti-roll bar bushes, Rogue Engineering black rear trailing arm bushes, Powerflex rear subframe & rear anti-roll bar bushes, green powdercoating (diff carrier, rear trailing arms, diff heatsink, V brace, engine undertray), blue powdercoating (rear upper control arms), all hardware replaced with either OEM or stainless steel replacements, Alcon Advantage Extreme front big brake kit consisting of six-pot monobloc calipers with Ferodo Performance pads and 365mm discs, custom painted rear brake calipers, new steel brake lines throughout, braided hoses, ATE Super Blue fluid
EXTERIOR Silver grey, #Vorsteiner V-CSL carbon fibre front bumper with flippers, custom vented OEM bonnet with GTR style vents and custom washer vent, CSL-style rear diffuser, matt black kidneys, side grilles & mirror caps, black and white carbon fibre roundels, monochrome and Ninja green side grille badges, smoked #Depo indicators, LED angel eyes with DRL and remote fade, front numberplate holder delete, driver’s door lock delete, retrofitted in-car boot release, custom decals
INTERIOR Black Nappa OEM interior, Cobra Pro-Fit GT seats with custom green stitching, custom floor mounts on driver’s side, Macht Schnell mounts for passenger side, retrimmed steering wheel (with green stitching, perforated leather grips, Alcantara top and bottom pieces and grey leather oversteer marker), black and white carbon fibre steering wheel roundel, Ninja green and monochrome steering wheel M badge, Storm Motorwerks titanium-plated V2 gear knob, handbrake lever & lighter plug blank, custom gaiters & centre armrest in black perforated leather with green stitching, carbon fibre gear trim surround, custom painted matt gunmetal dash inserts, CSL doorcards with matt gunmetal inserts and matt black door handles, door airbags deleted, monochrome door sill inserts, full LED interior lighting kit, custom carbon fibre switch panel, climate control relocated, rear seat delete trimmed in grey Alcantara with all trim/wiring/speakers removed, parcel shelf and doorcards trimmed in grey Alcantara, black HK rear speaker covers, compact fire extinguisher between front seats
AUDIO #Kenwood KDC-BT92SD head unit & #KAC-5205 amp, #Alpine SWE 815 active subwoofer, #Focal Access front component speakers, custom located iPod connection
“I love how I’ve tied all the parts together, how it sits and handles, and the insane induction roar it makes!”
“I had the intention of mildly modifying it but then the bug bit and I couldn’t stop!”
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- Post is under moderationEIGHT ACE #Renault-8-Gordini
It’s hard not to like this French fancy, especially as it’s Gordini powered. The #Renault 8 Gordini was one of the earliest Q-Car saloons but they’re rare today which is why one man created his own. WORDS Paul Wager /// Photography Rick Davy
It might be hard to imagine now but there was once a time when the Renault 8 was a reasonably familiar sight on British roads. Launched in 1962, the rear-engined R8 was derived from the Dauphine with which it shared part of the basic body structure, but the angular body style was far more modern than the older car and boasted an all-new engine design.
Like our own similar-looking rear-engined Imp, the R8 motor was an advanced design for the day, featuring an alloy cylinder head and five-bearing crankshaft, although valve actuation was by pushrod. Known as the Sierra engine, then Cléon-Fonte or simply Cléon after the name of its manufacturing plant and later simply the Renault C-Type engine, it remained in production until the ’90s where it last appeared in the Twingo.
In its initial R8 guise, the 956cc motor boasted just 44 bhp, although this was later increased to 1108cc and 50 bhp for 1964 but the real gem was the Gordini performance model. Engine tuner #Amedée-Gordini had been working with both Renault and its #Alpine affiliate since the late ’50s and the Gordini-modified #Dauphine had been a success in the market, so it was no surprise when a Gordini-badged R8 appeared in 1964. This boasted 95 bhp from the 1108cc motor courtesy of a crossflow head, four-branch exhaust manifold and two twin-choke Solex carbs. The uprated motor drove through a modified close-ratio four-speed transmission and it sat on lower, stiffer springs with the rear end receiving a novel four-shock rear damper arrangement and the steering sharpened up from 3.75 turns lock-to-lock to 3.2.
It was easy to spot a Gordini: they were offered only in a characteristic shade of French racing blue with go-faster stripes (supplied for the UK market as a roll of tape) and boasted larger 7-inch headlights than the regular 1108 car. For 1967 the Gordini was facelifted to receive a pair of additional driving lights and the engine grew to 1255cc good for 100 bhp on twin Webers. Incredibly, the R8 itself lasted in production until 1976 with Renault’s Spanish subsidiary, although French production ended in 1973.
The real Gordini was very much a connoisseur’s car, much like the more extreme #RenaultSport models of recent years and it wasn’t the sort of car you bought by mistake: you had to really want one and they were costly, too. Throw in rampant rot and you can see why there aren’t many left here in the UK.
One man who neatly sidestepped that problem was Alex Abadzis, who simply acquired a cooking R8 and turned it into a superb period racer using all the right bits. “I’d always wanted an R8 Gordini,” he recalls. “But to be honest, any R8 would do.” This particular example was bought online and as Alex recalls, it was a complete wreck and arrived home on a trailer.
He already had plans for the car but his first task was to resurrect the frilly bodywork. “Lots of sill work,” he laughs, “and the inner door shuts were so badly holed you could see daylight through them. The rear arches were so rotten that if you stuck your head up inside the rear arches, you could see the back seat quite clearly!” Rather fortunately, Alex runs his own garage – Grove Garage in Weybridge, Surrey (www. grovegarageweybridge.co.uk) where he specialises in French cars of all kinds which meant resurrecting the Renault wasn’t the massive task it might have been – although as he admits, it still took the best part of a year.
As far as sourcing parts is concerned, Alex reckons the situation is surprisingly good, as long as you’re prepared to order from France and he rates Mecaparts in Bourges as “fantastic” at getting him what he needed for the restoration.
Closer to home, the Renault clubs, especially the Renault Classic Car Club forum was invaluable in sourcing obscure ’60s Renault bits and as Alex explains, “you put an ad up on the forum and a couple of days later you’ll get a call from someone with some great bits stashed away.”
With the Renault’s bodyshell sewn back up again, Alex could address his original plan to modify the car and it was of course the Gordini style that he had in mind.
Accordingly, the 1108cc motor was lifted out along with its gearbox and was replaced with a real Gordini engine – but not the rare R8 version, rather the later 1397cc, 93 bhp version as fitted to the Renault 5 Gordini, complete with 10.:1 compression and big valve Alpine head.
In the Five this would have come as standard with a five-speed box but of course the later car is front-drive while the rear-engined R8 is rear drive. The solution was to enlist Gordini racer Stephen Swan to build up a suitable five-speed unit using the R8 casing and parts from an R5 five-speed box.
Meanwhile, the chassis received the Gordini treatment with Gordini race coil springs all round and a recreation at the rear end of the four-shock set-up.
Inside the car, the original dashboard was discarded and Alex made up a suitably period multi-dial affair as befits its performance status. The wheels are a superb choice and were taken from an Alpine A110. Made in France, they’re GT alloys and look just right under the R8, where they would have been a popular period accessory.
Running with a fast road cam and twin #Weber 40s, that R5 motor now pushes out some 110-120 bhp and makes for an entertaining drive. Alex uses the car on the road and also for track days with the Renault Classic Car Club and laughingly dismisses an engine with twice the car’s original power output as ‘nothing too mad’... but then reveals that since our photos he’s started building up a 1550cc version of the engine, hoping to get to 150 bhp.
Meanwhile, with the car you see here nicely complete, Alex has also finally acquired a genuine R8 Gordini, which he’s been busy restoring, but once again it’s running an R5 engine rather than the original, which has been carefully removed and stored should the need for originality ever enter the frame. What was that I said about the R8 being a rare sight..?
THE GORDINI EIGHT
Priced up at £983 in #1965 , the #Gordini was always destined to be something of a niche choice here in Britain but road testers loved it, both for its performance and its understated looks. In that respect it predated cars like the M3 and M5 by decades and one Autocar road test summed it up with the caption “Four doors, four seats and 106 mph - an unusual combination for an 1108cc car.” Indeed, the performance of the R8 Gordini was closely matched to 1275 Mini Cooper S but to get similar performance in a four-door car you otherwise needed to be looking at much more expensive cars like the Alfa Romeos or Jaguars. Those ’60s road testers were impressed by the Gordinimodified suspension’s grip too, reporting that they had to work hard to get the tail to step out, although they did find fault with its susceptibility to side winds at high speed. They also managed to boil the brake fluid and suggested to readers that they might want to use Renault’s competition fluid...
A couple of years later when testing the 1300 version of the Gordini, Autocar was even more impressed, reporting that the brakes were now fade-free and that the handling was simply ‘superb’ while discovering that the absence of a rev limiter allowed them to hit 7500 rpm quite happily. No wonder they had to add a pint of oil every 500 miles. “A little bomb, capable of outsquirting almost everything around it,” they concluded.
R8 fan Alexander Abadzis, now the proud owner of both this car and also a real Gordini.
Multi-dial dash was fabricated by Alex to replace the plain original. R8 Gordini was one of the fastest small four-doors around.
It's a real Gordini motor, but a later 1397cc R5-spec unit.
TECH SPEC #Renault-8
ENGINE 1397cc OHV
POWER 110 bhp est
0-60 MPH Est 12.3 secs (std Gordini)
TOP SPEED 106 mph (std Gordini)
GEARBOX Five-speed manual
BRAKES 10.2 inch discs all round
FRONT SUSPENSION Wishbones with coil springs, anti-roll bar and telescopic dampers
REAR SUSPENSION Swing axles, trailing arms, coil springs, four dampers
WHEELS & TYRES GT alloy wheels
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- Post is under moderationTHE COLOUR OF MAGIC
Colour plays a big part when it comes to any car, and this perfectly modified E46 M3 is resplendent in Atlantis blue.
Striking in Atlantis blue, this E46 M3 delivers as complete a package as you could ever want. Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: Sunny Ryait
Cast your mind back to cars of the ’70s (or pictures of them if, like me, you weren’t alive back then). While there did seem to be a lot of gold and brown going on, there was also a lot of colour and it seemed that both people and manufacturers were much braver when it came to the hue of their motors. And we don’t mean wild colours for wild cars, like the American muscle cars of the time; we’re talking about things like Inca orange on 02s and Taiga green on E12s. Okay, the Valencia orange 1 Series is most definitely a thing (I drive one myself) but can you imagine a green F10? It is, therefore, rather refreshing to discover cars that aren’t shy about standing out and owners that aren’t shy about owning them.
And that leads us nicely to Nadeem Ahmed and his E46 M3. It’s Atlantis blue, we all know it’s Atlantis blue but really it’s turquoise. Tell someone you drive a turquoise car and you’ll probably meet with a reaction of raised eyebrows and a polite but slightly hesitant and questioning ‘Oh…?’ Tell a BMW enthusiast that you’ve got an Atlantis M3 and you’ll probably get a nod of the head, a lightly pursed lip of approval and a ‘Yeah, nice.’ In fact, you might be looking at Nadeem’s E46 M3 and thinking exactly that because it is very nice. And that Atlantis blue exterior is wrapped around an equally nice interior. It’s always a bit disappointing to peer into a sexy car and be greeted by a vast expanse of black leather. Fine if you like that sort of thing but it’s a bit, well, dour. But Nadeem’s E46 M3 is rocking an interior bursting with creamy goodness and it offers the perfect calming antidote to the striking exterior.
Considering this car represents one quarter of his current BMW crop, he’s poured as much love into it as you might expect someone running one as a solo project to do. Nadeem bought his first #BMW , a ’98 318i, from a rude dealer to prove a point but despite the unfortunate circumstances, the BMW ticked all the boxes it needed to and a string of Bavarian metal followed, including this one, which was an impulse buy. As far as impulse buys go, that’s pretty impressive. “I’d always said that if I ever found a manual Atlantis blue #BMW-E46 M3 with a Champagne interior, I would buy it,” he explains. “One day I was just going through Auto Trader for no particular reason and I found it! It was only described as blue and from the pictures I was guessing it was Atlantis and that was enough for me to start a three-hour road trip which resulted in me sealing the deal!”
Colour aside, the car wasn’t in great shape. It had resided in a village in the middle of nowhere and clearly hadn’t been looked after but the engine was sound, a big bonus and even the tiny crack in the rear subframe that was discovered during a pre purchase inspection that Nadeem insisted on wasn’t enough to put him off. “It was such a rare car with all factory options (including a rear electric sunblind) that I decided to buy the car and hoped I would get a good will repair from BMW for the subframe… which I did eventually!”
Car purchased, he embarked on an impressively comprehensive tuning programme covering pretty much every aspect of the M3. Nadeem began with some styling modifications, fitting OEM LED rear lights, smoked front #Depo indicators and new #Bosch headlight lenses himself. Next on the list was a Meisterschaft exhaust with DTM tips and a set of BMW Performance sixpot front calipers mated to #BMW-M3-CSL discs and braided brake lines, with a set of Brembo four-pot rear calipers added later on and sprayed yellow to match the fronts. He’s had the side repeaters removed and replaced with LED indicator strips and added illuminated #BMW-M3 badges on the side vents. On the suspension front you’ll find a set of PSS9 coilovers, refurbished by Bilstein prior to being fitted, which offer plenty of adjustment for both damping and ride height.
And the M3’s ample arches were filled with a set of rather rare rims. “I have always favoured AC Schnitzer alloys,” he explains, “but I chose the #Racing-Dynamics alloys this time because of their rarity. As I had an individual #BMW-M3-E46 in a rare colour, I also wanted it to have alloys which you would hardly see on any other car, and the staggered setup with really deep rear dishes was perfect. I purchased them from the wheel man himself, Raj of Fullhouse Customs; however, when Dips from Custom Cars was refurbing them prior to giving them to me, he found out that one alloy had a buckle in it. Raj offered me a full refund but I decided to keep them as I would never find another set (I’ve still not seen another set!). I had the wheel professionally repaired by a company in High Wycombe and I’m absolutely over the moon with them.”
Indeed, the 19” Racing Dynamics RD2s are very rare on pretty much anything and trying to find a set is a venture that requires time, patience and money. The RD2s look great on the E46 M3, with lots more dish than you might expect from a single-piece wheel and the Dolphin grey centres are a nice touch.
The wheels measure 9” wide up front and a beefy 11” at the rear but the E46 M3 arches were capacious enough to see Nadeem chuck a set of 15mm spacers up front and 12mm ones at the rear to bring them out and give the car a nice aggressive stance.
We’ve already touched on the interior, so let’s go back and touch it some more. The Champagne leather was already there, and Nadeem has spiced things up with the addition of a pair of extremely sexy #Recaro-Sportster-CS seats, which add a real sense of drama to proceedings. The standard M3 seats are really good, no question about it, but you can always go one better and if you can throw in something that’s going to get some attention, then why not? “The interior was easy,” he says. “I had decided on OEM CSL seats but they are hard to come by, so I found a set of Recaro Sportster CS seats from a Lotus dealer who was closing down and had some Lotus Evora bits to offload! So I ordered up some Macht Schnell side mounts and got the seats trimmed to match the Champagne interior. I love them!” In addition to the seats there’s a full LED lighting conversion, an Intravee and Alpine system for iPod compatibility and a Storm Motorwerks titanium gear knob and matching sat nav buttons.
After the initial flurry of mods, Nadeem handed the car over to Dips at Custom Cars to take things up a notch. The car received a full same-colour respray to get it looking fresh as the Dickens, though there were some problems, as Nadeem explains: “Dips told me that my car had every shade of Atlantis blue on the panels and we had to decide which shade to respray the car in. He eventually discovered that the Bluetooth shark fin on the roof was the only bit with the original shade and that was used to choose the respray colour shade!” A CSL bootlid was fitted with the lip blended in to expose a strip of carbon fibre. Hamann-style front foglight surrounds were also fitted and filled in for a CSL/Vorsteiner look. A #BMW-M3-CSL-E46 carbon splitter was fitted and blended in, exposing just a sliver of carbon fibre as with the boot and was joined by a set of Vorsteiner carbon skirts as well as a CSL carbon diffuser and a set of H&R anti-roll bars to further sharpen the handling plus an AC Schnitzer short-shift with #UUC-DDSR . It’s taken Nadeem two years to get to this stage and while you might think that he’s happy with where the car is at, his long list of mods he wishes he could do and the ones he’s still planning on doing say otherwise.
“I am planning on getting Dips to fit a Champagne extended leather dashboard which I already have, some three-piece 19” Racing Dynamics RS2s with copper dishes and copper bolts (deeper dishes are currently being custom-made in the USA for these), an Evolve carbon air box with the remap and a resonated Supersprint centre pipe… and then I think I might be done!” These plans will push what is already an eye-catching and impressively modified M3 to the next level and it sounds like it’s going to be a stunning machine.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 , #GruppeM induction kit, #Meisterschaft exhaust with DTM tips. Six-speed manual gearbox with #AC-Schnitzer short-shift and #UUC DSSR, #Driftworks lightweight flywheel.
CHASSIS: 8x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) #Racing-Dynamics RD2 alloys with 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Continental tyres. #Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, #H&R antiroll bars (front and rear), #BMW-Performance six-pot front calipers with custom brackets, CSL discs, braided brake lines, Porsche Boxster four-pot #Brembo rear calipers with custom brackets, new discs, braided brake lines.
EXTERIOR: Full respray, carbon fibre CSL bootlid with exposed carbon fibre lip blended in, CSL carbon fibre diffuser blended in, carbon fibre Vorsteiner side skirts blended in with #Phoenix yellow coloured mesh at the ends, front bumper fitted with Hamann-style foglight covers, full length CSL carbon fibre lip blended in, side repeaters deleted and replaced with LED strip indicators in side vents with custom-made illuminated M3 badges, OEM LED rear light conversion, smoke tinted windows all-round.
INTERIOR: Front #Recaro Sportster CS seats, full LED lighting conversion, Intravee and #Alpine system, Storm Motorwerks titanium gear knob and sat nav buttons.
THANKS: Dips at Custom Cars, Raj at Full House Customs, Kashif for all the help with the brakes, Dino and Richard aka Bikeracer for the custom caliper brackets, my wife for putting up with my modding madness and my son Yusuf for his enthusiasm and love of the M3.
“I’d always said that if I ever found a manual Atlantis blue E46 M3 with a Champagne interior, I would buy it”
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- Post is under moderationA NOTCH ABOVE THE REST / #VW-Type-3 / #VW-Type-3-Notchback / #VW / #Volkswagen-Type-3 / #Volkswagen / #1965
‘I had no idea what I was getting myself into’ concedes James Harris, the owner of this ‘S’-trimmed 1965 Notchback. The road to building this project car proved quite arduous indeed, especially since he elected unusual options such as a custom airbag suspension kit. The result is a gorgeous, well-thought out ride, which became one of the main attractions of the #2015 Bug-In! Words & Photos: Stephan Szantai
Though many Californian enthusiasts prefer unveiling their new project cars during the VW Clasic Weekend in June, you can bet a handful of fresh Vee Dubs will show up about a month earlier at Bug-In. This year was no exception, with a couple of Type 3s coming to mind in particular. One of them, the Notchback S you see here, immediately got our attention due to its fit, finish and overall attitude, being slammed to the ground thanks to an airbag suspension kit.
The vehicle belongs to James Harris, who grew up in a muscle and classic car family. ‘My first car was a ’70 Beetle that was given to me by a friend – it hadn’t been running for years. After pushing it five city blocks to my parents’ house, we worked our way around extracting all the critter nests and troubleshooting the engine and electrical. The issue wound up being a bad starter. So 35 dollars later, plus a day or so cleaning and tuning the stock 1600, I was driving that Bug to school. I was 16!’
Fast forward two decades and seven air-cooled VWs gone through... Ready for a new challenge, James set to wrench on a model never officially imported in the U.S. and therefore rather rare: the Notchback. He reached out to the popular thesamba.com community, eventually locating a ’65 ‘S’ located in Oregon. At 800 Dollars, the price was right, although the car showed plenty of rust, having sat in a field for years. ‘It had seen better days’, he admits. ‘But it had never been hit. And along with the deal came an extra floor pan, four extra fenders and miscellaneous parts to complete the rebirth.’
HerrKooled VW Club president Seb Schmidt came to the rescue to help dismantle the hulk. What they discovered wasn’t pretty, with seats in particular being only held up by the tracks mounted to the tunnel and rocker panels. James continues: ‘At this point, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, given I knew absolutely nothing about Type 3s – let alone had never even ridden in one! I didn’t realize that sourcing parts for these cars is almost impossible, because they are not remanufactured, unlike Beetles.’ He did not give up, spending countless hours trying to identify parts all over the world and corresponding with folks in many different time zones; it prompted the ‘NSOMNYA’ personalized license plates.
For the chassis work, James entrusted Pete at Airkewld, an Arizona-based company known for its quality work, which has translated into several groundbreaking project cars. The team had never done an airbag suspension conversion (their specialty) on a Type 3, but enthusiastically dove into the build. ‘All of us didn’t realize what we were getting into’, continues James. ‘This job took the combination of three full pans worth of donor parts and countless hours of fabrication to finally complete the order.’
Eighteen months and plenty of obstacles later, the chassis – now powder-coated Silver Vein – was finally done. It utilizes new Gearson Type 3 pan halves, a reinforced tunnel with an inspection plate for easy access to the cables, in addition to a CADdesigned rear sub-frame to accommodate the air ride suspension, with 2500-Lbs bags. Up front, a 4-inch narrowed beam based on a Type 1 unit welcomes dropped spindles, all new steering components, stainless hardware and air shocks. Adjustments of the ride height come courtesy of an Accuair 4-valve electric system with remote. The driver won’t have issues stopping the vehicle, thanks to an Airkewld Stage 3 disc brake kit, utilizing Wilwood calipers in the front.
Buggy World supplied the ‘Freeway Flyer’ gearbox with a .82 fourth gear, fitted with shortened axles to make sure the rear tyres would fit under the stock fenders without interference. The Nitto rubber in question, measuring 205/40 and 215/40, fit around unusual yet cool 7Jx17 and 7Jx18 Schott Mod-5 rims.
Although he’s owned his share of fast cars, James wanted the Notch to be a reliable cruiser; so he asked Pete to assemble a mild 1776cc with a compression ratio of 8-to-1. It utilizes a CB Performance aluminium case, along with a 69mm VW counterweighted crank and 90.5mm AA pistons/cylinders. An Engle W-110 camshaft activates stock-size valves installed in VW 041 heads, whilst ignition relies on a Pertronix coil and a Bosch 009 distributor with a Pertronix Ignitor. A pair of short CB manifolds supports the #Weber 40IDFs, set in motion thanks to a modified 48IDA throttle linkage. Fumes exit via a ceramic-coated A-1 header and stainless A-1 muffler. Other well-known engine goodies include a CB oil breather, a CPR ‘Smallternator’ alternator, plus a full-flow oil system with a #K&N remote filter.
While Airkewld doctored up the floor pan, James called on the assistance of a fellow thesamba.com member, RJ, to handle some of the body’s repairs: sunroof channel, rear quarter panel, headlight buckets etc. The two enthusiasts agreed on a handful of alterations, from the shaved rocker mouldings and rear decklid emblems, to the notched inner front wheel wells to accommodate the Type 1 beam. The paint came next, but the unexpected happened... James requested to have the car sprayed with a first coat of VW Strato Silver (a popular Oval Window metallic colour), but the mix wound up being incorrect and closer to a blue hue.
Thankfully, he ended up liking the final result! The shell then moved from RJ’s shop to JM Designs where Jim McKay shot additional coats of paint, followed by clear coats, wet sanding and buffing down to a mirror shine. Once Type 3 guru Brian Hicks installed a fresh ISP West wiring harness, the body could finally be reunited with the floor pan... somewhat reluctantly as the owner jokingly points out: ‘The chassis was so clean that I didn’t want to cover all of Airkewld’s outstanding work with a shell!’ Audio Addiction later took delivery of the car for – you guessed it – a killer stereo featuring custom speaker enclosures for the nine speakers – the system also relies on Alpine and Memphis Audio components.
The next step involved Tito’s Auto Upholstery, a respected shop that handled the rest of the interior. Powdercoated Dove Blue, the 1958 seat frames were dressed with Midnight Blue vinyl and Steel Blue suede, while the dash lost its distinctive pad to welcome more vinyl. High-quality German Square Weave carpet covers the floor and (both!) trunks, after using plenty of Dynamat sound damping material. Other interior amenities include a Nardi-style steering wheel by ISP West, a Black Mamba shifter from Vintage Speed, together with a couple of Autometer Cobaltseries gauges mounted under the dash.
The fun resumed with the final assembly, with all metal parts being either re-chromed (‘S’ badge, headlight rings, handles, bumpers...) or powdercoated (latches/catches, locks...). New weather stripping, seals, trim and polished window frames followed, in addition to the factory VW glass – note the one-off trim in front of the bonnet as well. James, Seb and other friends spent endless nights on the assembly of all the tedious parts. It was worth it... ‘The car came together better than I had imagined’, reveals James. ‘Had I known then how challenging this project would be, I can’t necessarily say I’d have the energy or drive to do it all over again. Out of all the VWs I’ve built over the years, I can truly say this one is a ‘Notch’ above the rest’!
It took James three years to complete his project – undoubtedly one of the highlights of the 2015 Bug-In.
Below left: Built as a dependable cruiser, the Notch relies on a mild 1776cc motor with an.
Engle W-110 cam
Below: Part of the 9-speaker #Alpine and #Memphis audio system hides in the (front) trunk.
Left: By using a modified Type 1 beam, 205/40-17 nicely fit in the front.
Below: Vintage Speed supplied the efficient and precise Black Mamba shifter.
1. Under the dash, the Autometer oil temp and voltmeter gauge complement the factory instruments.
2. Alpine head unit and USB port have been cleverly concealed in the glovebox.
3. The car stops efficiently thanks to an Airkewld disc brake kit with Wilwood calipers.
4. Blue handcrafted vinyl replaces the stock dash pad. ISP steering wheel is reminiscent of an old Nardi.
5. Schott rims measure 7Jx17 in front and a whopping 7Jx18 in the back.
“James requested to have the car sprayed with a first coat of #VW-Strato-Silver ”
Above: James chose a ‘road less travelled’ by adapting large diameter rims coupled with an airbag suspension kit.
Below left: German Square Weave carpet can be found throughout the car.
Note three speakers, too Below: You’ve got to love the bench, still featuring its distinctive Type 3 armrest!
Above: Suede and vinyl nicely match the colour of the vehicle, a custom blend metallic blue.
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