- Post is under moderationThis E36 M3 R is one of the rarest of the rare, but that didn’t stop one owner beefing it up to be a full-on track terror. Words and photos: Chris Nicholls.
FULL-ON BMW-E36 / BMW-M3 R Hardcore Australian special
GYM JUNKIE UNICORN Ultra-rare E36 M3 R from Oz
Just 12 E36 M3 Rs were made available to the public back in the mid ’90s by #BMW Australia. Built, as some of you may know, to be the ultimate non-GTR E36, the cars were basically Group N racers for the road. They came with full Motorsport Group N suspension, a tweaked engine putting out 325hp (more than any E36 M3 other than the GTR), AP Racing four-piston brakes all-round, the full M3 GT bodykit, plus Super Tourer wing and extendable splitter, and almost all creature comforts, such as rear seats, air-conditioning and fog lights, removed. Developed by the legendary Paul Rosche, then M GmbH’s head of motorsport, and team members from the famous Australian Frank Gardner’s outfit, including Ralph Bellamy - former F1 engineer and one of the men responsible for inventing ground effects at Lotus - the M3 R remains to this day arguably the greatest E36 variant you can actually buy, albeit one that required a racing license when purchasing it new and one that is, unsurprisingly, also climbing in value today.
Which makes it all the more bizarre that this M3 R’s previous owner, Alan Palser, decided to tune it so much there’s basically nothing left of the original car bar the little silver build plate on the centre console. To whit, there’s the DTM Fiber Werkz widebody kit, JRZ dampers with Eibach springs, Turner front and SM Motorsport custom rear anti-roll bars, SM Motorsport custom control arms, Alcon monobloc front and AP Racing rear calipers and two-piece slotted discs, AP racing twin-plate clutch, boot-mounted Speed Master fuel cell with Bosch 044 pump and swirl pot and a range of engine mods, including a very sexy CSL-style carbon airbox, which bring the power up to around 370rwhp. In a car running Hankook slicks on its 11x18” Apex EC-7 wheels, and weighing only 1220kg thanks to being completely stripped and caged, that makes this is one rapid racer indeed. But one that isn’t really much of an M3 R anymore.
So why did Alan do it? Well, there were two main reasons. The first is an all-too familiar story. Having fallen in love with BMWs as a lad growing up in the Group A era, Alan decided he had to have one, and eventually managed to fund the purchase of his third-hand M3 R ten years ago when it had just 40,000km on the clock. However, as one does, he started to chat more and more to people in the club scene and eventually got talked into attending a few track days. And that’s when the bug bit, hard.
“At the time I bought it, I would say the plan was to have it as a road car, but having started to talk to some people in car clubs, they said, ‘Oh, you should come down and join the club and have a go on the track on a club day’. Then once I’d done that a couple of times, I thought, ‘Oh yeah, I think I’m going to enjoy this’. So I once I’d done a couple of those, I started orienting the E36 more towards that and less as a car to drive on the road.”
And once Alan started, he found it hard to stop, spiralling down that route we all know of upgrading ever more bits and pieces. “Once I was on that path, it was easier to continue on it, rather than scrap it and go back to a start point again,” he says. Eventually, after entering a couple of tarmac rallies, Alan decided it was time to develop it fully and, having sent it off to BMW whiz Sam Markov at SM Motorsport in Wodonga on the Victoria/New South Wales state border, things just got even more extreme, eventually leading to a wilder state than it is in now (this engine is its second after the previous fully-built and E85-tuned beast blew prior to the sale to its current owner). As for the second reason, that was more to do with the used car market at the time. Although it might seem silly in today’s climate, despite its rarity, engineering pedigree and extremely finely-honed nature out of the box, the M3 R wasn’t actually all that valuable ten years ago. You could pick one up for less than AU$50,000 (around £25,000) and there wasn’t a sense that they would be a future collectible. Hence why Alan says “I didn’t feel like I was totally killing something that was worth a lot of money at the time.” Of course, thinking about it now, he agrees that were he to do it all again, he would have started with a basic 3 Series shell, but such is life.
Eventually, having arrived at a development crossroads, Alan was unsure whether to replace the engine with an S85 V10 or the like, or sell it to fund something like a Z4 GT3. In the end he decided to part with it, which is where current owner and Avis franchise holder (hence the stickers) Les Sears comes into the picture. A Holden man for much of his time in motorsport, one drive of an E46 back when it was new changed his life forever and after that, Les became a devoted BMW fan, building up quite an impressive collection that currently includes a stock E36 M3, three E46 M3s (one road car, one complete racer and another in the build) and an F82 435i daily. Hence why, when he found out this car was up for sale about a year and a half ago, knowing how rare it was and how much effort had gone into it, he pounced on it.
Of course there was still the matter of the blown engine to take care of before he could enjoy it at his local motorkhanas and track days, and given the previous highly-strung motor’s issues, and the fact the chassis set-up was good enough to ensure speed without huge power, Les decided to tone down the new power plant a little in order to keep it reliable. Thus, right now, it runs a completely stock 3.2-litre bottom end, and only the aforementioned carbon airbox with custom trumpets (on stock runners), K&N pod filter, ARP rod bolts, 296º Schrick cams, Vanos delete and Motec M600 ECU as mods. Despite this, thanks to Sam Markov’s nous (Les kept him on as the car’s mechanic, as unlike for Alan, Sam was local), the car puts down 367hp at the wheels, which as we said is still plenty in a circa-1200kg car, and easily enough to keep Les at the top of the time sheets at whatever event he enters. “Everywhere you take it, if it doesn’t win, it’s always second or third. It’s a quick little car. It’s very, very well balanced, and it doesn’t do it with horsepower, it does it with cornering speed,” he says.
Despite its pace and the fact it’s no longer much of an M3 R though, Les has no desire to risk such a rare car (even in its current state) in actual racing, saying “I’m a little reluctant [to race it]. I don’t mind doing the sprints in it, but once you get into a race meeting, I’d hate to damage it. I’ve got an E46 [an ex-Targa Tasmania machine, no less] which can take a bit of a hit and it’s easy to panel beat, but this thing with that body kit on it, it’s quite hard to start rebuilding that. I’ve got a new E46 being built as we speak too, and when that’s finished I’ll put this car up on blocks and leave it there and won’t race it at all”.
Now, given he’s only had the car for less than two years, such a plan might sound impossibly sad, but it’s actually part of a grander scheme to leave it in as good a condition as he can for his son, who also races. Essentially, Les says that he’ll take the M3 R out every so often just to keep it running until his son takes it over, and continue racing in the new E46 once that’s built. “It’s a new shell that we’ve got in another shed with a new cage through it and I’ve bought all the parts for it. I’ve just got to assemble it, basically,” he says. “I’ll do that the same way - it’ll have a 3.2-litre in it, but the bottom end won’t be stressed out and we’ll just get it to breathe.”
Hopefully both cars can see the use they deserve for many years to come, as although Les is now 69, he has no plans to stop racing anytime soon, and that’s the sort of thing we love to hear. If, however, he does eventually decide to give the game away, not only will he have his son to look after the cars, he’ll also still be able to enjoy them in other ways, saying that “I just get a kick of out of being in the shed and having a cup of coffee with the cars… And they’re not as noisy as the wife!”
S50B32 straight-six has been fitted with #VAC Vanos delete kit, among many other mods, and now makes 367whp.
Carbon blanking plates are most definitely at home in the stripped-out interior.
“Everywhere you take it, if it doesn’t win, it’s always second or third. It’s a quick little car”
DATA FILE / #BMW / #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3-R / #Apex / #BMW-M3-R-E36 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #Motec-M600 / #Motec / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E36
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2 litre straight-six #S50B32 / #BMW-S50 / #S50 , #K&N pod filter, custom carbon airbox with OEM runners and custom trumpets, #Schrick 296º cams (inlet and exhaust), #VAC-Motorsports Vanos delete kit, #ARP rod bolts, #NGK spark plugs, #Bosch-440cc /min injectors, Bosch-044 fuel pump, custom swirl pot, #Speed-master fuel cell, Evosport underdrive pulley, Turner Motorsport solid engine mounts, SM Motorsport stepped headers, custom 2.5” stainless steel exhaust and silencer, #Motec-M600-ECU . Five-speed manual gearbox, #AP-Racing twin-plate 7.25” clutch, stock M3 R flywheel, #OS-Giken-LSD
CHASSIS 11x18” ET25 (front and rear) #Apex-EC-7 wheels in Anthracite with 20mm spacers (front and rear) and 280/650 - 18 Hankook slicks (front and rear), #JRZ-RS dampers with #Eibach springs, #Turner-Motorsport (front) and SM Motorsport (rear) anti-roll bars, SM Motorsport custom front suspension arms to increase track by 100mm, #SM-Motorsport custom rear trailing arms, SM Motorsport custom bearings and rod-ends, Whiteline front strut bar, Alcon monobloc four-pot calipers with 355x32mm two-piece slotted rotors and Ferodo DS1.11 pads (front), AP Racing four-pot calipers with 330x28mm two-piece slotted rotors and Ferodo DS2500 pads (rear), AP Racing fluid, SM Motorsport custom braided lines and custom pedal box
EXTERIOR DTM Fiber Werkz wide-body kit (customised by SM Motorsport), custom Topstage Composites front bumper and carbon splitter, #APR-Performance rear wing
INTERIOR Brown Davis roll-cage, short-shift kit, RPM SL S/W Comfort suede steering wheel with quick-release hub, Velo Apex-XL seat, Sparco harnesses, carbon blanking plates for centre console and gauge pod, Racepak displayStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationNUMBER CRUNCHING 1040whp turbo E36 M3
We see a lot of modified cars here at PBMW but a 1000hp E36 M3 is something that never fails to impress… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andreas Wibstad.
They say that you shouldn’t chase numbers when building a car. You should build a car that will drive well and suit your needs rather than delivering big peak power but becoming undriveable in the process. Of course, if you happen to be building a car where big power is your need, then why not aim high and punch through the 1000hp barrier? It’s the sensible thing to do.
If we told you that Ole Ivar Seem, the owner of this E36, comes from Norway you probably wouldn’t be surprised because it would seem that Scandinavians have a predisposition for building stupidly powerful cars. And, unlike those of us having to find time during evenings and weekends to work on our cars due to our 9-5s taking up the vast majority of our time, Ole works on offshore oil platforms, which means he works hard but then has plenty of time to play hard when he’s back on dry land. And play hard he does.
Funnily enough Ole says that while he’d always liked BMWs he didn’t become properly interested in them until about 2003, when Vidar Strand from V.S Motor hit 1000hp with his E34 M5. That got his attention and got him thinking about the possibilities of what could be achieved with a BMW. And judging by one of his previous projects – a 426hp Sierra Cosworth, which was featured in our ex-sister title Performance Ford back in 2003 – it was clear that unless big power could be achieved Ole wasn’t interested. Of course, his first #BMW project was never going to make anywhere near that power output, being as it was an ’1986 E30 320i, but then again Ole only bought it for a bit of winter fun and threw a few mods at it. However, it started the sequence of events that mean we’re now standing here today with his 1000hp E36 M3.
With the Cosworth sold and a lump sum burning a hole in his pocket, Ole cast his car-catching net to see what he could snag. That’s when he came across this M3. “I found the car on a BMW forum here in Norway,” he explains. “It was a virtually completed street build with lots of good parts but that looked completely stock on the outside. Initially the plan was really to run with the parts that were on it but a thought crossed my mind about building a car for Gatebil Extreme [Gatebil’s own time attack and racing series]. After driving the car for a bit back in summer 2008, I got problems with water in the oil, leaking between the pyramid rings and water channels. So the real story of the car and engine you see today started when I picked up the phone to Vidar at V.S Motor.
“The motor building began with solving the problem of water in the oil. Vidar had a separate patent which, in principle, removes the head gasket and uses rings in a special metal. Vidar also fitted new custom cams from V.S Motor, new custom V.S Motor pistons, uprated Pauter con rods built to V.S Motor’s specifications, stainless steel valves, tighter valve springs and he did a general update of the whole engine. He then put it on the dyno bench at V.S to get it mapped properly. With it running perfectly we went for a power run and it made 772hp and 723lb ft of torque at 1.3bar, but tremendous back pressure on the exhaust side prevented any more power. The problem was an exhaust manifold that was not quite optimal and a Turbonetics turbo that was completely the wrong setup. I drove the rest of the summer and next spring running this setup but I was bothered by the fact that it did not deliver optimally when I knew I could get much more from the engine.
“After a few more conversations with Vidar we agreed that he should build a new manifold and a new turbo, then test it. The engine was ready in April 2011. This tested Vidar’s patience to the limit as it’s really cramped around the engine for building a manifold. You really need a lot of space. I think someone would have to pay him a lot of money to do this again!” laughs Ole. “On test day the engine really stood up to our demands, and on E85 fuel it delivered 1039hp and 817lb ft of torque at 2.1bar. You can say we were delighted with it.” And who wouldn’t be with over 1000hp on tap? But Ole and Vidar weren’t finished with the engine just yet. “In summer of last year we found out that we were going to start with new fuel as E85 was phased out from petrol stations in Norway, so we chose to use the Ignite E98 race ethanol fuel that Vidar sells.
We counted on a power increase so in July 2015, before going to the E30 meet in Rudskogen. I went with Vidar to Jonus Racing to run the car on the dyno. After roughly four to five hours of fine-tuning, the numbers that it put down really made our eyes pop! We got 1040whp and 855lb ft wheel torque which, when converted to power at the crank, becomes 1196hp and 959lb ft at 2.2bar. It goes without saying that were extremely pleased with this outcome,” smiles Ole.
We would be too. That’s an absolutely monstrous amount of power, especially considering he’s still running the 3.0-litre S50. That works out at 399hp per litre; that’s like the E39 M5, with its 4.9-litre V8, making all of its power from a 1.0-litre engine, which is a bit mental when you break it down like that. As far as engine spec is concerned, we simply haven’t got the space to go through all of it here, just take a look at the spec list and you’ll see it’s exactly as long as you would expect it to be on a powerful engine like this. Highlights include the Precision billet 7675 turbo – such a key part of this incredible build, adjustable cam pulleys, a Tial 60mm wastegate, 4.5” downpipe, 3.5” Edgeperformance exhaust, ARP bolts, a 26-row oil cooler, custom header tank, Griffin radiator, custom 6” thick intercooler, 580lph Aeromotive lift pump, twin A1000 fuel pumps, and a set of six absolutely ridiculous 1699cc flow matched fuel injectors. All of which is really just scratching the surface. It’s as heavy-duty a build as you can imagine.
You can’t just make a 1000hp engine, stuff it into an E36 M3 and hope for the best because things would go south in a big way almost immediately. You need to put in just as much work on the transmission and chassis fronts to make sure everything works in perfect harmony. There’s no messing about when it comes to the gearbox on this car, with Ole fitting a Sellholm MPG sequential ’box made specifically for this car and combined with a Tilton 7.25” threeplate, 26 spline rally clutch and Alcon hydraulic release bearing. A 3” chromoly propshaft rated to 1500hp delivers all that turbocharged power to a modified 210 diff from a 3.2 M3 sitting on reinforced mounts, and a pair of 38mm driveshafts.
As for the suspension, well, we’ll let Ole explain: “Everything under the car is solid mounted or uses aluminium uni ball components. I run custom road coilovers from Sellholm Tuning made specifically for the weight of the car and supporting chassis mods. These include: Sellholm Tuning front and rear fully adjustable blade anti-roll bars; custom front suspension turrets and custom adjustable top mounts; Turner Motorsport aluminium bushes and rear lower control arms; and PeeBee Motorsport adjustable rear upper control arms.
“When it came to choosing the parts, Vidar knew exactly what was required, having been involved in so many builds, not to mention his racing experience. I trust him 100% and he is the man to talk to when one is stuck with ideas or problems, although these phone calls can be expensive. That’s how I ended up with the sequential gearbox!” With over 1000hp on tap, you need some seriously big brakes to haul the E36 down from the sort of speed it can achieve, and Ole hasn’t cut any corners here. Up front, eight piston K-Sport calipers have been fitted, clamping 355mm discs, while at the rear sit six-pot calipers with 330mm discs and EBC’s BlueStuff track day pads have been fitted all-round. Wheel choice was guided by necessity rather than aesthetics, as you’d expect on a build like this. “The choice of rims came after lots of searching on forums and chatting with acquaintances in the racing world. To make most of the rubber on the ground, without extending the arches or anything like that, the wheels had to be lightweight, withstand a lot punishment and with widths matching the chassis. I chose the Apex EC-7 as there were really no other wheels that matched the car. They fitted well with the look that I had in mind for the car.”
The tough, lightweight wheels measure 9x18” up front and 9.5x18” at the rear and are mounted on the car via a set of NMS Racing 75mm studs.
Just by glancing at the outside of this E36 you’d really be hard pressed to tell what’s going on beneath the surface as Ole has kept everything looking extremely stock. “My goal has always been to retain the original lines that I like so much,” he says. “Generally original but sassy, a look with a little more muscle. There’s a fully removable carbon bonnet, a carbon sunroof blank and the only change to the body itself is that the rear wheel arches have been rolled.”
Of course, the interior is another matter entirely and there was only ever going to be one direction to take it in. “The choice was easy,” says Ole. “It should be for racing! It had to be as light as possible and, ideally, with parts that no one else in Norway or Europe had tried before. Plenty of time went into building the roll-cage, which was done by a colleague and myself with Vidar providing all the technical information. It is made from about 80 metres of chromoly 4130 tubes and has been built down towards the chassis to really get it rigid, to the suspension turrets, to the diff and many other reinforcements against the chassis, which you can’t see in the pictures. In reality it is a tubular frame inside the car.”
Beyond that there’s a QSP steering wheel mounted on a Sparco Group N quick-release steering boss, Cobra Suzuka seats with six-point harnesses and a Racepak UDX data logger dash with auxiliary Autometer gauges. To keep things as light as possible, the car has been fitted with ACM carbon fibre doorcards and even a carbon firewall, carbon dash and carbon centre console while the boot is home to fuel system, with a 60-litre Aeromotive aluminium fuel cell and aluminium swirl pot.
After a hell of a lot of planning and almost seven years of work, it’s unsurprising that the end result was so damn spectacular.
What is surprising, though, is that Ole sold the car not long ago but, he says, it’s gone to a man who really knows what he’s doing so it’s in good hands and will be used as intended by its new owner.
So, what’s next for Ole? Time to give up the modifying game and relax with pipe and slippers watching gardening programmes? In a word, no. “I already have plans going around in my brain but one thing is for sure, it gets wilder!” he exclaims. “This car will probably take a few years to finish. And I have a problem: I’m never satisfied until I have spent a lot of time on everything from planning to execution, so those who wait will see. The rest is a huge secret,” he adds with a grin. We’re instantly as excited as he is. Judging by his track record, it’s going to be something special.
Interior is slathered in sexy carbon panels.
Apex EC-7 wheels were chosen as they’re light and tough; massive eight-pot K-Sport calipers sit up front with six-pots at the rear.
That’s what you need for 1000hp. S50B30 has been fully built and features massive Precision 7675 turbo.
“My goal has always been to retain the original lines I like so much”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE Turbo #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #S50B30 / #S50 / #BMW-S50 / #V.S-Motor / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series / #Precision / #Precision-7675-turbo / #Autronic / #Sellholm / #Aeromotive / #BMW-M3-V.S-Motor / #BMW-M3-V.S-Motor-E36 / #Pauter-Motorsport /
ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30, #Autronic-SM4 , MSD coil packs, #Autronic boost solenoid, V.S Motor custom exhaust manifold, #Precision-billet-7675-turbo , Edgeperformance Vanos block-off kit, adjustable cam pulleys, Tial 60mm wastegate, V.S Motor 4.5” downpipe, Edgeperformance 3.5” stainless steel exhaust, #Tial 50mm BOV, #ARP bolts throughout, Pauter Motorsport H-rods, V.S Motor spec valve springs, V.S Motor spec custom cams, JE custom pistons built to V.S Motor spec, original intake manifold modified for forced induction, Samco intake hose, head and block modified to remove head gasket, special head gasket replacement rings designed by V.S Motor, Turner Motorsport oil cooler hoses, Earl’s 26-row oil cooler, #GS-Performance oil distribution block, #Griffin aluminium radiator, AN-20 fittings, custom header tank, custom three-litre oil catch tank with AN-16 fittings, 2x12” Flex-a-Lite fans, V.S Motor design Precision bespoke 6” thick intercooler, Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, 19-row Ethanol cooler with 10” fan, Edgeperformance fuel rail, 6x flow matched 1699cc E85 injectors, VEMS wide band lambda sensor and EGT
POWER AND TORQUE 1040whp and 855lb ft wheel torque at 2.2bar
TRANSMISSION #Sellholm-MPG sequential gearbox, #Tilton 7.25” three-plate 26-spline rally clutch, #Alcon hydraulic release bearing, 1500hp 3” chromoly custom propshaft, M3 3.2 210 diff modified by V.S Motor, 38mm drive shafts, reinforced diff mounts and suspension attached to roll-cage, Omega gearbox/diff oil
CHASSIS 9x18” (front) and 9.5x18” (rear) #Apex-EC-7 wheels with 255/35 (front) and 265/35 (rear) #Nankang Sportnex NS-2R tyres mounted on 75mm #NMS-Racing studs, custom Sellholm asphalt coilovers, #Sellholm adjustable suspension turrets, custom top mounts, Sellholm fully adjustable blade anti-roll bars (front and rear), Turner Motorsport aluminium trailing arm bushes, aluminium front control arm bushes, #PeeBee-Motorsport adjustable upper rear control arms, #Turner-Motorsport adjustable lower rear control arms, aluminium diff bushes, K-Sport eight-piston calipers with 355x32mm discs (front), #K-Sport six-piston calipers with 330x32mm discs (rear), #EBC BlueStuff pads (front and rear)
EXTERIOR Removable ACM carbon race bonnet, carbon sunroof blank, rear arches rolled
INTERIOR Full chromoly 4130 roll-cage connected to suspension turrets, diff and throughout the chassis, QSP steering wheel with #Sparco Group N quick-release steering wheel boss, OBP pedalbox, Sellholm hydraulic handbrake, Cobra Suzuka seats with six-point 3” harnesses, Racepak UDX dash data logger, Autometer Sport-Comp gauges for oil pressure, oil temperature, boost pressure, fuel level and water temperature, OMP 4.24-litre central fire extinguisher, ACM carbon doorcards, carbon fibre firewall, complete carbon dash and carbon DTM centre console, Fibervac carbon panels, 580lph Aeromotive SS series lift pump, 2x Aeromotive A1000 fuel pumps, Aeromotive fuel filter/holder, Aeromotive 60-litre aluminium fuel cell, aluminium swirl pot, Earl’s fittings and hoses
THANKS An extremely big thanks to Vidar Strand at V.S Motor, without him this car would not have been possible, he has always been cheerful and helpful no matter what time I’ve called. Thanks also to Robin, Kay Ove, Stig P, Kurt Magnar, Kjell Inge, Jørgen, Terje, and Thomas at EdgeperformanceStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTEAM AMERICA
When Kings Auto Body Shop decided to build an E46 M3 racer, it employed the philosophy of go big or go home. Kings Auto Body Shop took an uncompromising approach to building this E46 M3 racer. ‘Go big or go home’ were the watchwords and, with genuine GTR DNA, it certainly delivers the goods… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Andy Tipping.
There are many varied and disparate cars that you may spot on any given day at the #Nurburgring , from race prototypes to Transit vans, stripped-out track day specials to commuter-spec Octavias, and everything in between. But the three most prevalent sights can be neatly subdivided into three categories: Porsche 911s (of varying vintage, state of tune and level of competence), locals in diesel Golfs (who are invariably making much more rapid progress than any of the 911s), and heavily tweaked M3s. The Green Hell and the M3 go hand in hand, and there’s something addictive to the owners of E36s and E46s in particular that keeps them coming back, eager to test out the effectiveness of their latest choice of rubber or tweaks to their suspension.
The racy E46 M3 that’s posing for the lens today is a true-blue Nordschleife battler, exactly the type of thing that you’d expect to see bobbing around the Karussell with flames licking from its cheeky side-exit pipes…except that it isn’t. It’s never even been there. This car, while it may appear at first glance to be a hardcore Euro race build, is in fact Californian through-and-through, and the closer you look, the more dedication to Stateside tuning you discover. Built and raced by Kings Auto Body Shop in Huntington Beach, it’s as American as apple pie, colossal drugstores, and putting too many advert breaks in TV shows. It’s just one tiny step short of being plastered in stars and stripes.
The project acts as a sort of glorious manifestation of the vivid dreams of Ayed Alnajjar, the man who happily dotes on Kings Auto Body like a proud father. “I purchased the shop in 2013, and I brought it back to life,” he explains. “We mostly do insurance work, but our signature is race cars and wide bodies. And me personally? I’ve owned over 20 BMWs over the years, and this is my second BMW race car.” You can see why the project was spirited into being – a history of Bavarian fettling, a shop in which to carry out the work to expert level, and a desire to showcase the skills of the business in a fairly visible manner. It’d be madness for Ayed not to build a gorgeously detailed and brutally effective M3 racer, really. What a fortuitous position to find oneself in.
Now, you may be eyeing the broad, aggressive girth of the E46 and pondering the origins of the aesthetic. DTM, perhaps? It’s wider than a #BTCC racer, that’s for sure, but there’s a distinct Euro race car vibe radiating from the M3 as it sits menacingly before the lens, the exhaust ticking frantically after an enthusiastic run. But looks can be deceiving, and this car has been leading you up a dark path… the inspiration for the look came, in fact, from the M3 GTR – one of the key elements of quintessential American-ness that makes this car unique.
A quick history lesson, then. The E46 M3 road car, as we know, arrived on the scene in late-2000 sporting a 3.2-litre S54 straightsix under its extravagantly bulging bonnet. It was a bona fide muscle car, offering a significant power hike over its E36 predecessor, and rocking the sort of unmistakable road presence that would trigger a reflex to involuntarily pull out of the way as soon as it appeared in an opponent’s rear view mirror. It didn’t ask, it just took. An uncompromising thing.
Race versions inevitably ensued, and the M3 GTR development became a shining star in the GT2 class of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). It was powered by a #P60B40 motor, a 4.0-litre V8 only to be found in the GTR, snorting out somewhere between 440-470hp depending on setup.
The M3 GTR was, it has to be said, a bit of a naughty boy. While S54-powered E46s would be monstered by Porsche 911 GT3s on track, the V8-engined cars were rather dominant at the hands of Schnitzer Motorsport, which caused Porsche to cry foul play: it pointed out, quite fairly, that it wasn’t possible to buy a V8-engined E46 road car, so it was violating the spirit of the ALMS ethos. The governing body insisted that a road-going variant must be on sale on two continents within a year of the rules being drawn up to be eligible, and BMW made plans to build ten road cars for such a purpose, to be sold at €250,000 apiece. In the end, however, they didn’t bother – they built six – but these cars weren’t made available for public sale. Indeed, three of them were just development mules that got scrapped.
When the rules changed in 2002, stipulating that 100 cars had to be built to homologate the racers, BMW pulled out of ALMS altogether. This means that if you want to buy an apple-pie M3 GTR, well, you can’t.
That’s why Ayed decided to build one. Not a faithful but unforgiving V8-engined homage, but a proven and reliable S54-powered E46 whose body pays tribute to the shortlived splendour of the GTR. The car’s wearing a Flossman GTR wide-body kit, which is just about as authentic as it’s possible to get with this sort of thing; the wider wings and arches, the front and rear bumpers, the aero side skirts, it’s all artfully hand-crafted in Germany by Peter Flossman, linchpin of the Judd racing team among much else, and it’s all to the original BMW Motorsport development specs for the GTR race car, as tested in BMW’s own wind tunnel. It is, in short, a pukka piece of kit.
But Ayed was always fully intent on doing this properly: “My previous race car was an E36 M3,” he recalls. “I built up the engine to the best of its abilities, but the best I could reliably get with that car with cams was 270hp. I wasn’t happy with the wheel space either because I couldn’t fit anything bigger than 255-section tyres. So I decided to go with the E46 M3, it just made sense. As standard it makes more power than a built S52 engine, and once I got the E46 M3, I decided to go big or go home! I wanted to make a true one-of-a-kind E46, with thoroughbred race car DNA.”
Well yes, there’s no arguing that he’s achieved that with some level of gusto. Having purchased the car as a bare shell – no engine, no transmission, no interior, no suspension – the team at Kings set about building a pure race weapon from the ground up, selecting every component based on its performance creds as well as light weight and durability. Under the copiously vented DTM Fiberwerkz GTR bonnet sits a full-race S54 with hot Schrick cams, Stage 3 heads and a sultry CSL air box, all of which spits out its heady gases through a customcrafted side-exit exhaust (just like a real M3 GTR race car!). The chassis is suspended by Moton coilovers and all manner of goodies from the Ground Control catalogue, with some substantial Brembos champing at the bit to rein all of that thrust back in. It’s a very effective package, and the spec list reads like a who’s-who of quality parts.
“The car was built for the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) German Tuning Series, although the car was actually debuted at SEMA 2014. It was its first time out in public once we’d finished the build, and people’s reactions were amazing. I can’t tell you how many people have told me this is their dream car!” The important point that Ayed’s not making here, of course, is that it’s his dream car too – and he’s the one holding the keys. Funny how life works out sometimes, isn’t it?
This build, then, is a fusion of BMW developmental tangents. Given the chance, it’d lap up the verdant and serpentine spaghetti curves of the Nürburgring all day long, negotiating the tricky cambers, undulating gradients and truculent weather systems as being all in a day’s work. But, as fate insists, it’s not a moistened Euro fighter – it’s a dry-as-a-bone Cali scrapper. The neat link here is that a couple of the original Schnitzer GTR race cars saw later action at the ’Ring for the 2003 24-Hour event, which pulls the DNA across the Atlantic, and then pings it back like a piece of tautly-stretched elastic and fires it squarely into Kings Auto Body Shop with a resounding thump.
Ayed’s out there in the glaring West Coast sun, wringing the M3’s neck and taking scalps in the NASA GTS, as stridently as the GTRs of yore – and this surely means that, dream fulfilled, he can dust off his hands and enjoy the fruits of Kings’ labours, yes? No, of course not. These things are never finished. And now that everything’s nicely bedded in, a GTR rep should really have a V-engine, shouldn’t it? What do you say then, Ayed – fancy tracking down one of those unicorn P60 V8s? “No,” he says, scratching his chin thoughtfully. “I think I want to put a V10 in there.” Well, he did say ‘go big or go home’…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW E46 M3 Racer / #BMW-M3-Racer / #BMW-M3-Racer-E46 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 , #CSL air box, 288/280 Schrick cams, Stage 3 heads, ported throttle body, high compression (12.5:1 ratio), AP pulleys, #AP headers, custom side-exit exhaust system, Stage 4 clutch, #AEM infinity standalone management, sixspeed manual transmission rebuilt with 3.91 gearing.
CHASSIS 11x18” #Apex-EC-7 wheels (front and rear) (ET25, 15mm spacers all-round), 295/30 soft-compound tyres (front and rear), Motorsport wheel studs with race nuts, #Moton three-way adjustable coilovers, Ground Control camber plates, Ground Control anti-roll bars, #Ground-Control adjustable control arms, #Brembo BBK with four-piston front calipers and 355mm discs, four-piston rears and 345mm discs, stainless steel lines, #Hard-Motorsport brake cooling backing plates.
EXTERIOR Flossman GTR wide-body kit, #APR front splitter, APR diffuser built and designed by Raceworkz , #APR-GT500 wing (71” wide), Hard Motorsport retractable tow hooks, #DTM-Fiberwerkz GTR bonnet, DTM Fiberwerkz carbon-fibre roof, carbon fibre bootlid, RAD Industries Lexan windows, #RAD-Industries custom fuel cell.
INTERIOR #Sparco Ergo seat, Sparco steering wheel, Sparco harness, mesh window net, mesh centre net, Hard Motorsport CAE shifter, fire extinguisher system, #GS-Werks custom roll-cage.
THANKS Undr8d Empire, ECElite Automotive, DTM Fiberwerkz, RAD Industries, Hard Motorsport, Hardware Motorsports, Raceworkz, GSR Technik, GS Werks.
“Once I got the E46 M3, E46 M3 Racer I decided to go big or go home! I wanted to make a one-of-a-kind E46, with thoroughbred race car DNA”
Kings’ M3 looks the business thanks to #Flossman-GTR wide-body kit, built to the original #BMW-Motorsport specs of the GTR race car.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.