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    What about the BMW 325ti E46?

    I’m commending you on such a great magazine. It really covers what I feel are the cars most of us mere mortals aspire to or do own without having to sell our souls. I love the mix of makes and the direct comparisons that caused such debates when the cars were new in our youth. Indeed, you featured one of my cars (my glorious BMW 850CSi E31) and that issue has achieved cult status on my coffee table.

    I would like to draw your attention to a car you seem to have overlooked, unless I have missed an article somewhere. In fact, the only mention of it appeared two years ago where you tipped it for future stardom. I give you the BMW E46 Compact 325ti.

    It’s about time we looked at the BMW 325ti E46.

    / #BMW-325ti-Compact-E46/5 / #BMW-325ti-Compact-E46 / #BMW-325ti-E46/5 / #BMW-325ti-Compact / #BMW-E46/5 / #BMW / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46/5
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    CAR: #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E46
    YEAR: #2002
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 156
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 87,276
    MPG THIS MONTH: 26.9
    TOTAL COST: £167 (tyres & locking nuts)

    Clubsport? Lightweight? Race car? Well, not quite; but sitting inside, the M3 does have the look of a car midprep for an attack on a Nürburgring laptime. A couple of delays mean the M3’s interior is still missing a fair proportion of its trim, but the guys at Perfect Coating (www.facebook.com/ perfectcoating) will have that sorted by the next update, so I’m looking forward to photographing the interior in its shiny new glory in time for next month. Talking of next month, with good weather on the cards and some events in the calendar I’m planning to take the M3 to Wales with some mates, and if things work out just-so, a sojourn to the Nürburgring too. Throw in another visit to Bruntingthorpe for VMAX and I’ll have a chance to put some good quality bonding miles on the M3. Truth is, I’ve not used it as much as I’d like of late which may be good for the mileage (a relatively low 87k considering the 2002 year of registration) but this is not a car to be afraid of using – you only need to look at the amount of M3s deep into six figure mileages to know that if well looked after, there is nothing to fear. With the service indicator telling me I have 800 miles left before the next service, she’ll be well looked after very soon, most likely by Highams Park Motor Company in East London.

    It’s the perfect time for some routine maintenance, meaning I can look forward to summer fun with her! That’s not say I’ve not had fun in the dark months, and now I’ve had a chance to put some proper miles on the M3 with the 18-inch wheels I’ve really grown to love them. Unsurprisingly, after last month’s sideways fun the rear tyres were looking rather sorry for themselves. Lucky for me, my local tyre shop happened to have a pair of very lightly used correctly sized Pirelli P Zeros in stock; an absolute bargain for £150, and I had some new locking wheel nuts fitted at the same time. The old lockers were looking pretty sorry for themselves, and I had visions of being stranded with a flat, unable to change wheels due to a rounded off key. It’s a small thing, but it gives peace of mind. As I reported last month, initial impressions on the smaller wheels were a marginal trade off in ultimate grip in return for better ride quality and even more benign, playful handling characteristics when pushing on.

    With the new Pirellis, a good run on some of my favourite local B roads cemented that impression. I’ve never been one for chasing ultimate grip anyway – I’m not setting lap times – so I’d rather have a car which has grip levels well matched to the power output, with really enjoyable handling which can be exploited at sensible speeds. On the 18-inch wheels, the M3 delivers this by the bucket load. I’ve grown to love the look on the dark grey smaller wheels too; the polished 19-inch wheels always looking a bit bling for my taste.

    Despite sharing space with cars worth 50+ times what I paid for the M3, it still managed to turn heads and secure a prime spot at a local breakfast club meet. If you’re an Essex dweller, I’d heartily recommend a trip down to The Hare near Roxwell the first Saturday of most summer months (check its calendar to be sure). Get there early enough and there’s even free coffee. But more importantly an excellent mix of old, new, and sometimes hugely rare and valuable cars to have a look at… and a 15 year old M3 with half the interior missing. It was my morning jaunt to the last meet that gave me the chance to enjoy my favourite local roads, and driving back I was feeling pretty pleased with life. I think it’s fair to say my love affair with the M3 is going pretty strong…
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    HARRY NEWMAN #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330Ci-Sport / #BMW-330Ci-Sport-E46 / #BMW-330Ci-E46 / #BMW-330Ci / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW

    Just over 18 months ago, Harry made the move from 318Ci to 330Ci, but it’s not just any 330Ci, this is an Individual example and needless to say Harry is over the moon with it. It’s finished in stunning Mora metallic which, according to Harry’s research, makes it one of possibly just 28 examples produced in this colour, making it an exceedingly rare machine. Nice as it was, a little tasteful modding was on the cards and, not being a fan of aftermarket parts, Harry has gone down the OEM+ route with his E46. A set of Eibach lowering springs have been employed on the suspension front, along with a solid aluminium front strut brace, and the 18” CSL-style wheels that he’s fitted really suit the car. As far as styling is concerned, the kidneys and front lower grilles are now gloss black along with the rear diffuser, the windows have been tinted as have the LED rear lights that Harry’s fitted, along with the front indicators. Under the bonnet there’s a GruppeM carbon intake, which will soon be joined by a set of bigger injectors and a custom remap plus an Eisenmann exhaust system.
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    PIERS’ E46 330i TOURING / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330i-Touring / #BMW-330i-Touring-E46 / #BMW-330i-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E46/3 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E46

    As promised I am finally getting on with re-suspending the old girl! The old subframe that I pulled apart too long ago was taken down to Trestan, a powder coating specialist local to me in Southampton. They have been around for years and do a top-quality job. It was interesting going down there and seeing all the different things they were doing for customers: big brakes, railings, BMX bike frames, wheels and motorcycle frames. If it’s metal they will strip it and coat it!

    One of the things that I am really enjoying about my journey with cars is the people I am meeting and how there is a community in all things metal and powered by fossil fuels! My buddy from the garage with the T-Rex arms has just finished his bike build with Attitude Cycles in Southampton.

    We have joked that he had to have a custom build in order to deal with his shortcomings! Mickeytaking aside, his bike is awesome and I got to go down and have a look around Attitude Cycles, total respect, blown away with what they do! With everything powder coated I have started getting bearings in with the aid of Preston the press at KWR. B and B Components have again sorted out all of the wheel bearings and new Meyle lower control arms and tie rods, they really are a super-easy internet company to deal with! Once I have completed the initial work of preparing everything, one day with Kirk at KWR should see the whole shooting match on the car. Exciting stuff!

    It is going to be a bit of a journey into the unknown… Will things be too extreme? Will I have ruined my comfortable daily? Getting a bit lower, staying flatter, greater control, I think those will be a given. Once this is all done, I think you know what will be next on the list of things to do… more power! Oh and the UUC shifter has bedded down and I love it, it just works!

    No powder coating job too big or too small for Trestan.
    Subframe and E30 Touring wheels prior to powder coating.
    Looking shiny and new after powder coating.
    Fitting bearings an easy job with help from Preston the press.
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    / BMW / THOMAS’ E46 M3 / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3 /

    This month has seen various areas of the ’46 progress well, with the rear subframe undergoing a complete overhaul, new brake lines being fitted, the cylinder head rebuild starting, and the crankshaft receiving a full re-grind and balance. Starting with the subframe, I was initially thinking of powder coating the whole lot, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to find something with a little bit more longevity to it. Although powder coat is reasonable hardy, I find it hard to believe it would really stand the test of time without flaking and/or peeling off. So instead I purchased some two-part epoxy mastic from Bilt Hamber – essentially it’s super glue that’s coloured black. With Zinc-phosphate embedded within the resin, once set it provides a supertough, corrosion-resistant surface that should help preserve and protect the subframe.

    The subframe was taken back to bare metal and a liberal amount of epoxy applied. Whilst the underside of the car was all apart, I discovered the hard lines for the brakes were close to corroding through, so replacements here were also produced. Once again, I wanted to make sure that whatever went back in the car would last, so Cunifer pipework was used. A copper-nickel alloy, Cunifer is significantly more resilient than steel or copper alone with the trade-off being a relative lack of flexibility – although this didn’t prove to be a problem in the slightest.

    By comparison, rebuilding the cylinder head has so far been a breeze. Valves, springs and retainers were the first items to be re-installed. With all the valves numbered on removal it was a case of fitting them in the correct port and giving them a quick lap. Lapping is done by applying a small amount of paste to the seat of the valve, then rubbing it back and forth on the valve seat for a few minutes. This process grinds a small layer of material off the mating faces, helping them to create a better seal with each other. Once the lapping process has been completed, it’s important to check both faces seat around the full perimeter. This was done using engineer’s blue, which was applied to the valve, then the valve was seated (with a fair bit of force) into the head. Once seated, remove the valve and check for an even coverage of blue on the cylinder head valve seat. All valves passed so it was onto the next step. This involved fitting new rockers and rocker shafts, with the former of the DLC (Diamond-like coated) variety. With the engine receiving a set of race-y cams (full specification to be revealed later), it seemed sensible to upgrade to the more slippery, harder-wearing DLC rockers.

    And so onto the crank, where a fair amount of head scratching and research has been involved this month. First and foremost, I need to thank Daren of Crosthwaite & Gardiner for doing a superb job of regrinding my crank. It turns out the crank was in a bit more of a state than it first appeared, yet after a few tense hours of careful measuring and grinding, it’s ready to spin in anger. Regrinding the crank was incredibly eyeopening for me. There’s a lot of discussion online about how marginal the big ends are on S54s, with numerous people (including myself) removing shells after ~100k miles and finding they’re in a terrible state. I knew I was in for a regrind on the big ends, but what became apparent was that the mains weren’t too great either.

    Despite the main journals looking fine, and measuring up OK at first glance, the crank was bowing considerably (0.125mm eccentricity was measured between the mains). After a bit of straightening and a light polish, the mains were running true again, although it became evident they weren’t so healthy, with noticeable scoring to the journal surfaces showing. How deep the damage went was very surprising – it was only when 0.2mm had been removed from the journals (of the 0.25 total) that all the scoring was removed. It was a similar story too with the big ends, with all of them requiring considerable material removal before cleaning up. On the big ends it was always the top and bottom side of the journal that showed the most damage, evidently from the combustion stroke and rod/piston inertia during the exhaust stroke.

    Considering the state of the crank, I decided it was worth doing a bit of research into the shell/big end issues on the S54 to see if a solution could be found. Reading back through information online, it was news to me that these engines originally shipped on a 5W30 oil, before numerous big end failures forced BMW to switch to a 10W60 Castrol (as used now). Unfortunately this appeared to make matters worse, and it was soon after that BMW increased the clearances in the big end shells (forcing a recall of many M3s). Looking at how tight the shell/crank tolerance is for the S54, to me there’s no doubt these engines were designed around the 5W30, with the change to 10W60 a knee-jerk reaction to try and solve the big end issues.

    It was from here that I started speaking to Driven, manufacturers of Joe Gibbs Racing Oils. Its range of oils are developed from research undertaken when trying to push the limits of highly-strung Nascar engines. These struggle to cope with incredibly high stresses on the camtrain, leading to premature wear and power loss. The Driven oils, therefore, focus heavily on reducing engine wear, as well as friction reduction for a competitive advantage. Upon discussing the S54 issues with the development team in the US, the first thing that became abundantly clear is that oil changes every ~15,000 miles in a performance engine is simply not OK. Like all products, oil has a lifespan, and when it’s being pushed hard in what’s essentially a road-going race engine, expecting it to last so long is very wishful thinking. To create oils that operate over a wide viscosity range, modifiers have to be added to the formula, and over time these break down, reducing the oils’ performance. To try and make an oil last 15,000 miles, its chemistry must also be heavily biased with detergents, leaving less room for anti-wear components.

    On top of this, levels of #ZDDP ( #Zinc-dialkyldithiophosphate ) in oil have been reduced considerably. This is an important anti-wear compound, but due to its slightly negative effects on catalytic converter performance, governments are restricting its use in commercial/OEM engine oils. Driven has worked incredibly hard to reduce wear, with all its oils having considerably higher levels of ZDDP. Driven even has extensive dyno results to back up its claims. I’ll be looking to run the DT40 5W40 from the Driven range; with regular oil changes (every 6000 miles or so) this should keep the motor running sweetly and ensure the crank doesn’t lose any more precious material from its journals. Regular oil changes can’t be recommended highly enough for M car owners…
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    POWER UP Hardcore, supercharged E46 330Ci

    What was once a stock 330Ci has now evolved into a supercharged, track-focussed monster. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Viktor Benyi.

    ’CHARGED BMW E46 330Ci Track-focussed full-on build…

    Supercharging a “lesser” model of BMW is something that a lot of people don’t really understand. “Why didn’t you just buy an M3/ M5/M6 in the first place?” they will ask and, in absolute terms, you can see their point. Why spend arguably the same amount of money, or perhaps even more, buying and subsequently supercharging something that isn’t an M car and ending up with around the same sort of power level, when you could have just bought a fully-fledged, finely-honed M machine in the first place? It’s a valid, logical point, but logic has little place in the world of modifying. The thing is that very few people buy a car knowing exactly where they’re going with it, how it’s going to end up and with the specific plan of supercharging it. Sure, some people do, but take a look through this issue, the last issue, pretty much any issue of the mag and you’ll see feature car after feature car owner saying that they really had no intention of going as far as they did with their cars. The other thing is that, generally speaking, something like a supercharger is usually one of the last mods anyone does and that’s because it makes a lot more sense – and here logic can be applied to modding – to sort out the chassis, the brakes, make sure everything else is up to scratch before you start ramping up the power. It’s the right way to do it, really.

    Which brings us neatly to Richard Kiraly and his supercharged E46 330Ci. As you can probably tell from the pictures, this is one exceptionally well-sorted 3 Series and, as you won’t be at all surprised to learn, when Richard bought the car there was no plan for anything beyond the most basic of mods, let alone creating a car as full-on as this has ended up becoming. Richard has been a BMW owner for 12 years, though that time period has been divided up between just three cars: his first BMW, an E34 525tds, which was followed by an E39 525d, and now the E46. Thing is, while he may say there was no plan of attack here, both of his previous Bavarian steeds, and a couple of cars before that, have all received some level of mild modding, so we reckon he wouldn’t have been able to leave the E46 alone anyway.

    Hailing from Hungary, Richard’s hunt for the right example of what was the most affordable way of fulfilling his childhood dream of owning a frameless window coupé took him all the way to Leipzig in Germany, after six months of searching, and what was then a plain old 330Ci Sport. With car in hand, the mods began and stage one was styling. The E46 Coupé is a fi ne-looking thing, we’re big fans, but go big or go home, right? Go big it was, with Richard giving his 330Ci the M3 look courtesy of the M car’s wings and bumpers before cranking things up to 11 and taking the styling to another level. The front bumper has been seriously beefed-up with the addition of that carbon lip and those full-on corner splitters and even the intakes that funnel cooling air to the brakes are made from carbon. The bonnet? That’s carbon too, a vented GTR item that’s been painted body colour with just the slats of the vents left bare, teasing its carbon construction. M3 mirrors have been added while at the rear there’s a unique diffuser, a set of LED lights and a fibreglass CSL-style boot lid to finish things off nicely. It’s a greatlooking car, all the styling enhancements blending together perfectly and with the M3 body parts on board, the more aggressive aero elements don’t overwhelm the look of the whole car.


    The wheels are Japan Racing JR3s, which suit the look and direction of the car perfectly, and while their familiar sixspoke design doesn’t get your attention, the colour certainly does. It’s a bold, bright blue that doesn’t tie-in with anything, anywhere on the car but wow, does it look good. Somehow it just works so well against that sexy, solid grey paintwork and your eyes are immediately drawn to the wheels. They’re the first thing you notice on the car and you realise that, actually, opting for that punch of colour was definitely the right thing to do as it really makes them stand out. You can probably tell that this car hasn’t been built for show, it’s all about go, and peering between the spokes of the JR3s confirms that beyond any reasonable doubt as that’s when you notice the massive brakes. The calipers come from a 135i, says Richard, with six-pots up front clamping M3 CSL discs, and two-pots at the rear while the suspension has also been suitably uprated and these mods came about when he decided to start making track outings a regular occurrence. BC Racing coilovers have been fitted here, and they deliver a solid drop, along with uprated anti-roll bars, Powerflex bushes, Eibach adjustable rear control arms and front and rear strut braces, completing a comprehensive programme of upgrades. The interior changes, too, have come about from the car’s regular appearance at track days and amateur tournaments; up front, a pair of bucket seats have been fitted, along with a set of Schroth three-point harnesses, while the rear seats have been removed altogether, as has the air-con. White-faced dials have been added to give the gauges a sportier look and Richard has also fitted a digital display in place of one of the central air vents to keep an eye on various under-bonnet temperatures.

    So, to the engine. The M54B30 is a great motor, plenty of torque, a lovely top end, plus it sounds lush but by modern standards it’s not going to set anyone’s world alight and with him being so committed to track driving, you can see why Richard wanted a little more performance. NA mods are fi ne and could liberate a bit more horsepower but if you want serious gains then you have to bring out the big guns and go straight for forced induction. What Richard’s got strapped to the side of his engine is an ESS TS1 supercharger kit, which uses a twinscrew, positive displacement blower, and that means it delivers a huge hit of low-end torque the moment you hit the accelerator, perfect for punching out of turns on track. It’s an impressive piece of kit and puts out some meaty numbers, 320hp and a very healthy 302lb ft of torque. Here it’s been further bolstered by the addition an #AFE high-flow intake, a set of Schmiedmann high-flow cats and a ProEx exhaust system with racing silencer while an S54 oil cooler helps keep temperatures down on track. The transmission hasn’t been forgotten about, either, and Richard’s fitted a lightweight flywheel and Sachs race clutch plus an LSD to help him put all that power down.

    We really like Richard’s E46. It’s been built with purpose after being bought with no specific direction in mind. It’s a focussed and finely-honed machine, but one that’s not so extreme that it can’t be used on the road. It looks good and it’s got the power to match the extreme aero additions; it really is an exceptional performance package. Richard has spent eight years getting the car to where it is today, but he’s not done yet and the next round of mods is imminent. “I want to cover the interior in Alcantara,” he says, “and I’ve currently got a CSL front bumper with twin brake air inlets under construction and I’ve also got an ESS TS2+ supercharger kit ready to go,” he adds, which is really going to take this E46 to the next level.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW #Supercharged / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330Ci / #Japan-Racing / #ESS-TS1 / #ESS-Tuning / #BMW-330Ci-E46 / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , #ESS-TS1-supercharger-kit , #AFE air filter, #Schmiedmann sport cats, #ProEx exhaust system with racing silencers and black heat-resistant quad tips, S54 oil cooling system. Five-speed manual gearbox, lightweight flywheel, #Sachs racing clutch, short-shift kit, #LSD

    CHASSIS 8.5x18” ET15 (front) and 9.5x18” ET15 (rear) #Japan-Racing-JR3 wheels with 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) tyres, #BC-Racing coilovers, uprated anti-roll bars, #Powerflex bushes, #Eibach adjustable rear control arms, front and rear strut braces, #Brembo six-piston calipers with M3 CSL discs (front), #Brembo two-piston calipers (rear), braided brake lines, competition brake fluid

    EXTERIOR E46 M3 wings, front and rear bumpers, carbon front splitter, front bumper race air intake, GTR carbon bonnet, E46 M3 door mirrors, custom rear diffuser, E46 M3 CSL-style boot lid, LED rear lights

    INTERIOR White gauges, digital data display in central air vent, bucket seats, three-point Schroth harness, rear seats removed, air-con removed, spare wheel well removed, fire extinguisher

    “What Richard’s got strapped to the side of his engine is an #ESS-TS1 supercharger kit, which uses a twin-screw, positive displacement blower”

    BC Racing coilovers with adjustable top mounts.
    135i brakes have been fitted all-round.

    “The wheels are Japan Racing JR3s… and while their familiar six-spoke design doesn’t get your attention, the colour certainly does”

    Bucket seats, harnesses and rear seat delete let you know this E46 means business.
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    LAGUNA 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 paintwork
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    Longtermers #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #2002

    Plenty of action for the M3, Ben gets his German race licence, Elizabeth almost says goodbye to the 1 Series while the repaired E90 318i has more dramas

    After a couple of quiet winter months the M3 must be wondering what’s hit it! New wheels, interior in pieces… it’s even been on track alongside a couple of fun jaunts on local roads. Let’s start with the interior refresh. I’d been talking to the guys at Newbury based www.perfectcoating.co.uk for a few weeks about some options to revive the scuffed, scratched and scabby grey plastic interior trim in the M3. The interior of my car was in great shape overall when I purchased it – nice shiny seats with only mild bolster buffing, whilst the dash and remainder of the cabin trim was in excellent shape, perhaps even better than you’d expect of an 80k mile, 15-year-old M3. Letting it down though, were always the plastic inserts with their metallic grey finish. Given these adorn the door handles and electric window switch surrounds amongst others, they were in prime position to deteriorate from 15 years of contact with rings, nails and the natural oils from human skin.

    So a jaunt over to Newbury was arranged, where the guys at www. perfectcoating. co. uk had the relevant parts out of the car in short order. The individual pieces looked even worse sitting on a bench under bright lights, the door handles predictably being the worst offenders. The parts are sanded down to remove the existing paint and prepared for the black basecoat.

    Once this is applied, the clever part of the process happens, as the film is applied through hydro dipping (or water transfer printing as it’s known) to create a finish which looks almost identical to a carbon weave, with some golden colour showing through (we opted for this to better match my M3’s Phoenix yellow – many other finishes and colours are available).

    Once this has cured (a very quick process), the parts are sent to the bodyshop for a high quality lacquer to give a deep, lustrous and hardwearing finish. Having seen some completed parts earmarked for a Mustang I was blown away by the quality and can’t wait for the finished items to be refitted – pictures and in-depth report on the process next month. The fact that the process is just as suitable for external parts is highly compelling: carbon spoiler and mirrors anyone? My return journey from Newbury made for an easy drop in to Aldershot to pick up the set of original 18- inch wheels I sourced through the popular M3cutters forum. I’d been interested to try these and experience for myself if the ride and handling were tangibly different on the smaller rims and accompanying taller sidewall tyres. There is a marginal reduction in unsprung weight over the 19-inch polished alloys, shedding 1.4kg per front and 1.1kg from each rear wheel; of course this is mitigated by the slightly heavier rubber due to the taller sidewalls. In reality, it’s the latter which seems to make the biggest difference to the driving dynamics in the handful of miles I’ve been able to try them so far.

    Tyre footprint remains the same, with 225/45/18 up front and 255/40/18 at the rear as opposed to 225/40/19 and 255/35/19, but the taller sidewall has reduced initial bump harshness, whilst there is a trade off to steering sharpness when turning in. Perhaps due to less tyre deformation, it feels like the 19s have slightly more ultimate lateral grip, but we are talking fi ne margins here which would take an accelerometer to confirm. On the road, the 18-inch setup does feel like it works better, providing the M3 with an added degree of suppleness to deal with our imperfect roads. At the same time, the chassis feels a little bit less edgy on the limit, proving extremely friendly with the DSC turned off ; a feeling I was able to confirm on track recently where some pretty extreme corner entry styles had the M3 virtually on the lockstops in third, but feeling utterly benign and predictable in extremis, as well as sensational fun. Of course, much the same can be said of the wonderfully balanced E46 M3 chassis no matter which wheels you’re running, but there was a tangible and enjoyable difference to note. That the 255/40/18 rubber is significantly less expensive than 255/35/19 is a pleasing side benefit….

    This has freed up the 19s for a refurb too. They are thankfully free of kerb rash, but the lacquer is looking a bit second hand in places. If you have any recommendations of a place to have these cost effectively refreshed in Essex or London please feel free to message me.

    BMW E46 M3
    YEAR: #2002
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 622
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 87,120
    MPG THIS MONTH: 28.8
    TOTAL COST: £350 (wheels)
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    DOUBLE DIP #BMW-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46

    Ferocious 545hp supercharged and 715hp turbocharged carbon-clad E46 M3s tamed by one owner. Decisions are hard, especially when it comes to choosing between a supercharged E46 M3 and a turbocharged E46 M3, so why not just have both…? Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andrew Thompson.

    545hp supercharged and 715hp turbo E46 M3s

    Decisions are never easy to make, especially when you’re faced with two equally appealing options. Chinese or Indian, for example, or cookies and brownies, or pizza and, well actually there’s no alternative option to pizza because pizza just always wins. Sometimes, you don’t even have to decide, like with cronuts, or a turducken, just have everything, because more of everything is always better. For example, why choose between a supercharged E46 M3 and a turbocharged E46 M3, when you could have both? That is exactly what Jaime Taylor did and we’d like to think that decision made his life immeasurably better in every way.

    This man is a serial car buyer and modifier with a car history varied enough to make your head spin, including a midengined, RWD Peugeot 205 GTi and a Sierra Cosworth, a scattering of BMs and some serious big-power builds, such as a 511hp Skyline R34 GTR, a 670hp Skyline R32 GTR and a 513hp Audi RS4. Jaime is no stranger to going fast and is clearly hopelessly addicted and devoted to the modifying lifestyle, which makes him our kind of guy, and we guess answers the question: “What sort of person owns a pair of cars like this?”

    What’s really interesting here is that this is really a tale of two parallel builds, which were happening alongside each other at virtually the same time. Spooky. We’ve got Jaime, who wanted to build a turbo E46 M3 but ended up going down the supercharged route, and Andy Bennett, who bought the turbocharged car and proceeded to put a huge amount of effort into getting it running as it should, then ended up selling it to Jaime, who’d actually wanted to buy it all along but was beaten to the punch by Andy all those years previously. It’s a twisting tale deserving of its own movie adaptation, so grab some popcorn, get comfy and we’ll begin.

    When Jaime bought his M3 in 2014, it already had a long list of tasty bits on it, including carbon front wings and carbon bonnet, a roll-cage, BBK, CSL air box and Recaro RS seats but even better than that it had been fitted with a new engine from BMW and had covered less than 20,000 miles on it. “The new engine was a blank canvas to work on,” smiles Jaime. “At the time I didn’t know any UK company who could turbocharge the S54 but did know a company in the States. We were talking about shipping the car over there to get the job done, but it would have been gone for six months for all the new fabrication work to be done because they hadn’t done a right hand drive vehicle before,” he explains. “In the end, with a new car on the drive, we decided to go down the supercharged route so then the car could stay local,” and that’s a pretty sensible decision as the job could be done much more quickly and he’d have more time to actually enjoy the car.

    The supercharger kit comes from VF Engineering, with Jaime opting for VF570 flavour, the company’s most powerful E46 M3 supercharger offering. At its core is a Vortech V3-Si supercharger, capable of running at 26psi and rated for 775hp, so producing the 570hp and 380lb ft that VF Engineering claims for this kit is a walk in the park. The kit also boasts a cast manifold with a slide-in air/water intercooler cartridge and is a serious setup, able to deliver a huge hike in power. Initially, though, that wasn’t the case, as once Jaime had got the car back from being mapped and stuck it on a dyno he found it was only making 499hp.

    “On each of the five back-to-back dyno runs we did the power was going down about 20hp every time because of heat soak,” he explains. “The engine was pulling the timing and it couldn’t make the power. To fi x this we got Gary Adlington, who runs Eastwood Garage in Falmouth, to fit an AEM direct port methanol kit from the States. Gary is a genius,” enthuses Jaime, “he put a Cosworth engine in a boat and some other crazy stuff – incredible character and he also worked on Andy’s engine.” Yes, in a further coincidence, both Jaime and Adam used Gary’s services for their respective projects; it’s like fate brought everything together. With the meth injection kit on board it was time to head back to the dyno and this time the numbers didn’t disappoint. “On the first run it made 513hp, 530hp on the second and we finished with 545hp,” grins Jaime and that grin is fully justified as that’s a serious power figure. Of course, running monster power means you need plenty of supporting mods and this S54 has been treated to a Mishimoto electric fan coupled to a larger Mishimoto rad, a 55ºC thermostat, the secondary air pump has been removed along with the air con and it’s all finished off with set of sport cats and a Milltek rear exhaust section.

    Handily, the previous owner had done a lot of the groundwork on the chassis meaning the M3 was already in a good position to be supercharged, but Jaime has been upgrading things along the way over the past two-and-a-half years to make sure the car was the best it could be. The chassis has been enhanced with a set of KW V3 coilovers and is joined by Turner Motorsport top mounts and adjustable Turner anti-roll bars both front and rear. In addition to this there are adjustable rear camber arms, poly bushes fitted throughout and there’s also a 4.10 ratio rear diff. The brakes are seriously beefy and more than up to the task of slowing this powerhouse of an M3; up front there’s an Alcon BBK comprising 365mm discs, utilising Reyland brake bells, clamped by red six-piston calipers and braided hoses and Pagid RS-29 pads have been fitted allround while 710 racing brake fluid tops off the brake upgrades. When it came to choosing wheels, Jaime wanted something light and good-looking that would suit his track-orientated build. “Apex wheels were the weapon of choice,” he says, “they’re lightweight, concave and when I was searching for M3 track cars online everyone was running them so they were clearly the wheels to go for.” He’s gone for the Arc- 8, which looks great on the E46, and he’s running a square setup with 10x18s all-round wrapped in sticky Federal 595RS-R tyres.

    No doubt a big part of the appeal of this M3 when Jaime was shopping was the fact that it looked so flipping fantastic, with the carbon bonnet, wings and boot lid really giving it a full-on track look and over the time he’s had the car he’s built on that, giving it an even more extreme appearance. “It was actually booked in to have all the carbon painted,” admits Jaime, “but I ended up going against it and kept the carbon on show for an aggressive track look,” and we’re glad he did. The car also wears a carbon front splitter and canards, plus Jaime has carried out a front foglight delete, and added a carbon rear diffuser, all of which combine to really make this M3 stand out and it’s got a lot of presence.


    The interior had already been stripped out and caged-up when Jaime bought the car, but here too there was room for improvement and it all started with the seats. “On the first track day I took the car to I realised the seats were too high as we kept hitting our heads on the roof,” he explains. So out came the Recaro RS seats and in went in a pair of Corbeau Club Sport buckets, and Jaime was now far more comfortable and able to actually enjoy driving his M3. Other interior changes include the aforementioned roll-cage, a Safety Devices bolt-in item, an alcantarawrapped wheel from Royal Steering Wheels, full carbon door cards with red door pulls, an AEM hand controller for the methanol injection, a lightweight battery, fire extinguishers and a carbon blanking plate that covers the hole where the sat nav screen once sat. We love the fact that while it is stripped out and most definitely hardcore, it’s been finished to an incredibly high standard with some very high quality materials, and it all combines to make it even more special.

    While Jaime was busy getting stuck into his supercharged E46 M3 project, Andy was well underway with getting his turbo E46 M3 up to scratch. Back in late 2013, having just sold a supercharged Range Rover Sport, Andy was flush with cash and looking to buy a second home to rent out. At least that was the sensible, grown-up plan, but one brief eBay session later it had all gone to pot as he’d spotted a turbo E46 M3, this very car, up for sale and, deciding that he couldn’t not buy it, he snapped it up with a sneaky bid in the final few seconds of the auction, unknowingly swiping it away from Jaime.

    Not only did the car have a claimed 650hp, but it had also been on the cover of the March 2008 of PBMW, and came with a vented carbon bonnet, carbon bootlid, BBK and ticked just about every box that there was to be ticked. Quickly, however, it transpired that the car was not in rude health, making only 465hp on the dyno, not the figure Andy had been led to believe, as well as suffering from numerous issues to do with the turbo conversion. It was not a happy car. It was decided that a new intake manifold and stand alone ECU were needed, so Andy took the M3 off the road and put it into storage while he saved money for the work it needed. It was at this time that he learned about the infamous E46 subframe failure issue and, after inspecting the state of his M3, he discovered that, lo and behold, the subframe was not in a good way...

    While we can’t imagine his mood was particularly good at this point, Andy had a turbocharged M3 and he was determined to make it the best turbocharged M3 he could; where Jaime started his project with a clean slate, Andy had the perfect opportunity to not just fix what was wrong with his M3, but improve everything as he went along, and he’s definitely done that and then some.

    Before he could even think about getting the engine running at full capacity, that rear end needed sorting out so the old boot floor was cut out, a new one was welded-in and Redish Motorsport reinforcement plates were installed, along with a box section welded across the boot floor to eliminate any flex. At the same time, the whole back end was poly bushed and the propshaft rubber donut was replaced by an uprated Revshift polyurethane set up. The poly bushing extends throughout the chassis now and the suspension has been thoroughly upgraded throughout to ensure it’s up to the task of coping with a turbocharged S54 above. Naturally the car sits on coilovers but they’re not the usual suspects, this M3 having been fitted with Tein items complete with electronic damping adjustment, and these are joined by adjustable front camber plates and Eibach anti-roll bars front and rear and there’s also a Strong Strut front brace with a Schnitzer item mounted at the back. A Brembo GT BBK takes care of stopping duties, with six-pot calipers and monster 380mm discs up front and 345mm discs at the rear, the red calipers contrasting perfectly against the black spokes of the 19” CSL replicas, themselves fitted with Toyo R888 tyres for maximum grip and traction. When it came to the engine Andy admits that, without the help and knowledge of Gary Adlington, he probably would have given up on the car a long time ago, which would have been a shame as he would not have had the chance to experience the fury of a fully operational turbo M3. The main components required to get the S54 performing as it should were an AEM Infinity 8 ECU, Horsepower Freaks intake manifold and boost pipe, a pair of HKS SSQV4 blow-off valves and an AEM water/meth injection kit. The intercooler was also sent off to have the end tanks cut off and new ones made from thicker aluminium welded on. The final engine spec makes for some eye-widening reading as some serious work has gone into making this S54 as powerful as it is. The turbo kit itself comes from Savspeed Racing and uses a Turbonetics T70 turbo and the engine has been bolstered with a set of Wiseco low compression pistons, Pauter con rods, VAC Motorsports head bolts and a steel-lined head gasket while twin fuel pumps feed 750cc injectors via an Aeromotive fuel filter. The result of all that is pretty spectacular, with four different power maps to choose from: the mildest map offers a sensible 500hp, which we imagine is handy for popping to the shops for a pint of milk, while the wildest map delivers 715hp, which you’d probably use for getting a pint of milk and some toilet paper. Perhaps a cheeky Snickers as well. A Clutch Masters twin-plate paddle clutch has been added to cope with all that newfound power and there’s also a short-shift kit rounding things off.

    As with the supercharged car, this turbo M3 is a riot of carbon fibre on the outside, which looks fantastic against the Steel grey bodywork. It wears a Vorsteiner carbon bonnet and carbon front bumper, carbon front wings, a CSL carbon bootlid, carbon rear bumper, carbon side mouldings, carbon roof spoiler, carbon Schnitzer mirrors, even a carbon fuel filler flap. There are more carbon panels on the car now than there are regular body panels, it’s really something, and makes the car utterly spectacular. The interior is has also been treated to a whole heap of carbon goodies, including dash trim, door pulls, steering wheel trim, steering column and gearknob, gear surround and handbrake lever. It’s a veritable feast for the eyes. In the early stages of the project, Andy picked up some rather sexy Cobra Daytona seats, which were already trimmed in black Mercedes leather and black Mitsubishi Evo X alcantara and finished with gold stitching, and they look great in the car, really filling out the interior and making it a rather more special place to sit. They’re mated to threepoint harnesses, which are mounted where the rear seats used to be, and naturally there’s also a host of gauges, we’d have been disappointed if there hadn’t been what with this being a turbocharged car and all. They include an Innovate AFR gauge, a trio of HKS gauges to monitor boost, exhaust temperature and pressure and there’s also a HKS turbo timer ensuring that the turbo stays healthy.


    So, man builds supercharged E46 M3 and buys turbocharged M3, drives off into the sunset, lives happily ever after etc, right?

    Well, not quite… “It’s a good job Andy pipped me to the post on the turbo car,” admits Jaime, “as he spent a lot of money on this M3, so I really reaped the benefits of all his hard work. It was a pleasure to scratch that turbo M3 itch that I’ve had for years, watching all those turbo M3 videos on YouTube, and it is fricking awesome,” he grins, but after buying the car from Andy last July just one month passed before Jaime had put it up for sale himself. “I needed to try it out for a while to see if I was happy to make this my new track car, and after testing it back to back with my supercharged one I decided it wasn’t for me. I have a bond with my supercharged one and prefer everything else about it, as does my other half, Terrie, and I have to live with her so she has a big say in what I do,” he laughs. Unsurprisingly the turbo M3 sold very quickly but surprisingly Jaime has now put his supercharged M3 up for sale as well, and as we put the last of these words to paper it looks like it may have found a new home… “I’ll be very sad to see it go,” he says, “and so will Terrie as we’ve both done a lot of track days in it and she’s learned a lot from driving it and really enjoys it,” but that’s just how it goes with modified cars, we suppose, it’s very rare for them to have any sort of permanence and selling the cars we’ve poured so much of everything into is a just part of the life we lead. They do say that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, though, and while we’re not sure if Jaime is planning to go as far as this with the E92 M3 he’s thinking of buying next, he can at least say that he’s been the owner of both a turbocharged and a supercharged M3, and there’s not many people that can.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Turbocharged E46 / #BMW-M3 / #Turbonetics / #BMW-M3-Turbocharged / #BMW-M3-Turbocharged-E46 / #BMW-M3-Turbo / #BMW-M3-Turbo-E46 / #HKS / #BMW-M3-Tuned / #BMW-M3-Tuned-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54-Turbocharged / #S54-Turbo , #Savspeed-Racing turbo conversion with #Turbonetics-T70 turbo, #Wiseco low compression pistons, #Pauter con rods, #VAC-Motorsports head bolts, steel-lined head gasket, 750cc injectors, twin fuel pumps, #Aeromotive fuel filter, #AEM Infinity 8 standalone ECU with E46 plug and play harness, AEM water/methanol injection kit with 1000cc and 500cc injectors, #HPF intake manifold and intake piping, custom front mount intercooler, 2x #HKS-SSQV4 blow-off valves, HPF five-way traction control system, custom exhaust system. Six-speed manual gearbox, Clutch Masters twin-plate paddle clutch, short shift kit

    POWER 715hp

    CHASSIS 19” #CSL-replica-wheels in gloss black with 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Toyo Proxes R888 tyres, Tein-coilovers with electronic damping adjustment, adjustable front camber plates, Strong Strut front brace, AC-Schnitzer rear brace, Eibach anti-roll bars (front and rear), fully poly bushed, Brembo GT BBK with six-piston calipers and 380x32mm discs (front) and four-piston calipers with 345x28mm discs (rear)

    EXTERIOR Steel grey, #Vorsteiner carbon bonnet and front bumper, carbon fibre front wings, side mouldings, AC Schnitzer carbon fibre door mirrors, CSL carbon fibre boot, carbon fibre rear bumper, roof spoiler

    INTERIOR Cobra Daytona seats re-trimmed in black leather and alcantara with gold stitching, three-point harnesses, rear seat delete, black alcantara gear and handbrake gaiters with gold stitching, Innovate AFR gauge, HKS boost, exhaust temperature and pressure gauges, HKS turbo timer

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Supercharged / #BMW-M3-Supercharged / #BMW-M3-Supercharged-E46 / #S54-Supercharged / #VF-Engineering / #Apex

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #VF-Engineering-VF570 supercharger kit, AEM water/methanol injection kit, #Mishimoto electric fan, Mishimoto bigger radiator, 55ºC thermostat, secondary air pump removed, airconditioning removed, sport cats, Milltek rear exhaust. Six-speed manual gearbox, 4.10 rear differential

    POWER AND TORQUE 545hp, 383lb ft

    CHASSIS 10x18” (front and rear) #Apex-ARC-8 wheels with 265/35 (front and rear) Federal 595RS-R tyres, stud conversion kit, 12mm rear spacers, #KW-V3 coilovers with Club spec springs, Turner Motorsport top mounts, #Turner-Motorsport adjustable anti-roll bars (front and rear), adjustable rear camber arms, fully poly bushed, #Alcon BBK with six-piston calipers and 365mm discs with #Reyland bells (front), standard calipers (rear), Pagid RS-29 pads (front and rear), braided brake lines (front and rear), 710 racing brake fluid

    EXTERIOR Carbon fibre canards, splitter, front wings, boot, bonnet, rear diffuser, carbon wrap on roof, fog lights removed

    INTERIOR Stripped-out, full bolt-in Safety Devices roll-cage, alcantara steering wheel by Royal Steering Wheels, solid steering wheel coupler, full carbon door cards with red pull tabs, RTD short shifter, AEM hand controller for water/methanol injection, Corbeau Club Sport seats, Willans harnesses, water/methanol tank in boot, Odyssey PC950 lightweight battery, fire extinguishers, stereo removed
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    Gorgeous E46 M3 / Slick E46 slammed, styled and tuned

    THE PEOPLE’S CHAMPION / Words: Elizabeth de Latour / Photos: Sunny Ryait

    With a perfect blend of styling and tuning mods, this E46 M3 really is the modified package that everyone can enjoy the people’s.

    Oh yes, this is what we’re talking about. As much as we love all the air ride, the big wings, the engine swaps, the turbos, superchargers and wild wide-body kits, sometimes you just want something a bit more down to earth, a bit more achievable, affordable, a people’s champion that we can all get behind and enjoy, and Richard Ansari’s E46 M3 is that car. It looks great, that’s going to be your first reaction, because it really does, but as with many seemingly simple builds, there’s a lot more going on here than you might first notice and Richard has really put a lot of love and hard work into his M3 over the past five years.

    The E46 M3 dream must have seemed almost unattainable back when Richard passed his test and got behind the wheel of a mighty 1989 Mazda 626. A BMW was going to happen though, there was no doubt about it, thanks to his dad’s decision to run a string of Bavaria’s finest when Richard was growing up, but what really sowed the seed deep down into his brain was the blue E30 325i his dad once owned. “I couldn’t get into BMs right away as soon as I passed my driving test as insurance was one roadblock as well as being a student in my younger years,” he laughs and it wasn’t until he turned 23 that he could finally make that dream a reality. “By pure chance my mate had decided to sell his E30 325i Cabriolet and gave me first dibs on it before advertising it. I knew the car and while it did have some very questionable mods, underneath it all was decent, having had a full respray, no rust, was structurally sound and had cream interior to complement the Zinnober red exterior. It was almost like reliving my childhood with those memories sat in my dad’s E30, but this time I was behind the wheel,” he grins.

    Over the next three years the E30 underwent a transformation that saw it ending up with a 2.7 conversion and receiving a feature in these very pages back in March 2007. The E30 was then followed by an E46 330Ci and that path could only lead in one, inevitable direction... “The E46 M3 was a dream car for me,” says Richard, “and when my mate bought one in late 2010 and let me drive it, I made a plan there and then to own one in 2011. I had originally wanted one in Techno violet but, being a very rare colour, it was mission near-impossible to find one, so I started to look at a few other colours as a second option,” he says. That led him to Pistonheads, where he stumbled across this Steel grey Coupé, with a manual gearbox and just 50,000 miles on the clock. Richard grabbed his friend Dips, from Custom Cars, headed over to take a look at the car and ended up buying it. “I wanted to keep this one fairly standard except for a couple of subtle mods, keeping away from doing any more big modifications,” he laughs, “unfortunately, though, once I fitted a set of CCFL angel eyes and black kidney grilles, it was a bit like opening Pandora’s box,” and so we begin…

    With the angel eyes and black grilles being joined by a pair of black wing vents, Richard decided to carry on with the styling mods, adding smoked Depo indicators and repeaters and tinting the outer rears to match with Lamin-X film, then sourcing and fitting a set of facelift smoked inner lights. At the rear there sits an AC Schnitzer-style carbon fibre diffuser, which fills out the bumper nicely, along with a genuine CSL bootlid, while up front, a Strassentech-style lip adds an air of menace to proceedings and is joined by a set of Hamann foglight covers, with smoked fogs. Richard says that his plan was to enhance the car’s looks without going crazy, and we have to say he’s most definitely achieved his goal. The styling additions he’s chosen give the M3 a more pumped-up appearance, accentuating its aggressive styling, but without going too far or overwhelming the looks. And, while his first choice of colour may have been Techno violet, we’ve got to say that Steel grey looks really good on the E46 M3.

    The suspension has been through a few changes during Richard’s time with the car. He started off small, with just some Apex lowering springs but it wasn’t long before he found himself wanting more adjustment and decided to take the plunge with some coilovers. His first set were from D2 but the car now runs BC Racing coilovers, which offer all the adjustability he could ever want and have allowed him to achieve the perfect ride height. “With the suspension sorted I was looking at big brake kits as the next big upgrade,” he tells us. “For the M3 there are a lot of options and routes you can go down and then, one day, an ad came up for a complete set of AP Racing brakes from Imran at Evolve Automotive. After a quick think, and after checking the piggybank, we did the deal and I picked them up. It did occur to me, not long after that, what would I do if my wheels didn’t have enough clearance, without having to resort to using big spacers, but figured I’d worry about it later. One way or another there was not going be any compromise, so I dropped the calipers over to Dips at Custom Cars to work his magic, turning them from red to orange.

    I really like the way they look behind the wheels but beyond that the stopping power is so consistent compared with the OEM setup. I mounted the front wheels to check for clearance and luckily to my surprise only a 5mm spacer was needed,” he says.

    As far as the wheels are concerned, Richard didn’t start off small and work his way up to something impressive, he went big right away, kicking things off with a set of AC Schnitzer Type 3 Racing splits, which are a great-looking classic wheel design. But that wasn’t enough for him, he wanted more… “I wanted something a bit special,” he says, “it had to be a three-piece wheel and my ideal choice was a set of Hartge Design C splits, but not only are they rare they also command a huge premium. I wanted something that you don’t see everyday and it had to have friendly offsets, with the aim of building a set of wheels wide enough, without needing any major work to fit straight on and not needing any camber.

    After missing out on a set of Oz Futuras, I found some Oz Mitos on German eBay just before whisking my partner off to Marrakech for her birthday; I had an idea of what they looked like on a normal E46 but couldn’t find a set fitted to an M3 anywhere, so I knew this was my opportunity to run something fairly unique. Midway through the holiday, while she was getting ready in our hotel room, I placed a bid just before the auction finished and won,” he grins. Best. Holiday. Ever.

    “They were 18s with the right offsets and being the Type 1 version, which are reverse mounted, are pretty rare in a BMW fitment. As soon as they arrived I went down to Dips for a test fit and we worked out what lip sizes to run front and rear. Originally they came as 8.5x18s and 9.5x18s and I really wanted to run an 11” wide wheel at the back, so Dips started the strip down of the wheels for a full refurb. He ordered 3.75” lips for the rear and moved the 2” lips to the front making the new setup 9x18” and 11.25x18”.

    We knew an arch roll was needed, so Dips got that sorted and, with fresh Continental tyres fitted, we mounted the wheels. Seeing them built up and fitted on the car I knew I had made the right choice,” he grins. “They just completely changed the way the car looks, but not only that, the fitment is perfect too, with no rubbing or any negative camber required to aid with clearance.”

    With the car looking on point as far as styling was concerned, Richard popped his bonnet and took a good, long, hard look at the engine bay. “At first I had no real plans on doing any engine mods,” he admits, “that is until a group buy came up for some Geoff Steel Racing air boxes on the M3 Cutters forum. After reading the feedback on it and with a bit of encouragement from forum members I went ahead and placed a pre-order.”

    Usefully, as part of the group buy, Evolve joined in with a special offer on Alpha N remaps to go with the air boxes so, with his sexy new carbon air box fitted, Richard headed up to the company’s Luton HQ to get the car remapped. “These cars make anywhere between 320-330hp on average,” he explains, more than a few ponies shy of BMW’s 343hp claim, “and originally mine made 321hp. After fitting the airbox and mapping it, we saw 349hp, which was a very nice gain and was noticeable on the road. As well as that is the induction noise you get as soon as you floor it. It makes such an awesome roar you never get tired of it and want to hear it more and more,” he says with a grin. “To complement the airbox for sound and for a little extra power, I fitted a set of 100 cell cats paired with an Eisenmann Race rear box, which has given a better throttle response through the rev range. To finish off I got the holy grail of exhaust manifolds, with a set of Supersprints, which very rarely come up for sale. They were brand new but never fitted and I soon snapped them up to complete the setup.”

    While he may have been sorted for power, that carbon air box was showing up the rest of his engine bay, so action needed to be taken. Obviously carbon was the way forward, and Richard began to develop a little bit of an obsession with the mesmerising weave. First came an intake cover that fits over the existing item but also partially covers the front of the air box, and once that had been fitted, obsession became unstoppable addiction. Desperate to feed his habit, Richard read up on and briefly considered having a go at carbon skinning, before he found Prapan, who runs NVD Motorsport, and saw his carbon-skinning talent. Quick as a flash, Richard had removed his emissions pump, xenon ballasts and ECU cover and handed them over for skinning in 2x2 weave to match the air box and also asked for a pollen filter cover. The six week wait to get the parts back was absolutely worth it but when it came to getting the rocker cover skinned, the cost of postage and import duty was proving prohibitive.

    Richard found himself a slightly more local carbon skinner by the name of Jaydee Customs, over in Poland, who duly skinned the aforementioned rocker cover, leaving Richard with virtually nothing left to cover in carbon. The finishing touch here in the engine bay is a rather sexy and substantial Rogue Engineering strut brace. And now we come to the interior, because of course Richard couldn’t leave that alone either, and we’re glad he didn’t.

    Originally, his M3 had been fitted with the black leather interior, nice but a bit plain and, for Richard, lacking contrast against the Steel grey exterior. “I didn’t want to settle for red,” he says, “so I searched for a year until a rare Cinnamon interior came up on E46 Fanatics. It wasn’t a sale but a straight swap for black leather, offered by a chap called Mark who was working for Nitron Racing at the time. So after a brief chat on the phone we arranged for me to come down to him one day and we both swapped out our interiors at the premises. For me it made such a huge difference, not just the fact it was a nicer place to sit in now, but it goes so well with the car.” We have to agree as we’re big fans of coloured interiors, they make such a nice change from the usual dour shades, and Cinnamon is seriously lush.

    It’s further complemented by matt dark myrtle wood trim, an unusual choice for an M3 and an extremely rare trim option, but it’s absolutely gorgeous and looks so good here. The steering wheel has been re-trimmed by Royal Steering wheels, with extra padding, cinnamon stitching and a cinnamon centre stripe while the gearknob has been replaced with an illuminated F10 M5 item with matching gaiter, mounted on an E60 short shift for crisper gear changes. Finally, Richard’s most recent interior mod, is the Awron gauge mounted in the driver’s-side centre air vent. “It was a bit of an impulse buy,” admits Richard, “I saw a demo of it on YouTube and when I saw they had made them for the E46 I got one ordered. It goes nicely with the dash and it’s a nice bit of kit, displaying various parameters from intake temperatures to O2 sensor voltages along with a G force meter and loads more functions.”

    It’s taken Richard four years to get his M3 to where it is now, and he couldn’t be happier with the result of all that work. “I think where it is now I have found that place where I wouldn’t change much else,” he smiles. “A full respray is on the cards next, in the original colour, and I want to get the map tweaked with the addition of the exhaust mods. But my long term plan if I can is to keep the car and hopefully one day give it to my son,” which would be an amazing gift, and something very special for that young man to hold onto. So, does that mean Richard’s hanging up his modding hat for now? No… “I have an E30 325i Cab which I bought over four years ago as a project car so, with the help of Dips, there are some big plans for it. Watch this space!” he says with a smile and you can be sure we will be.

    “… I think where the car is now I have found that place where I wouldn’t change much else”

    / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Tuned-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned / #Evolve / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #OZ

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #Geoff-Steel-Racing carbon fibre air box, #Evolve-Alpha-N remap, #Supersprint-V2 exhaust manifolds, 100 cell race cats, #Eisenmann Race rear exhaust section with 83mm tail pipes, carbon fibre engine cover, emissions pump cover, ECU cover, xenon ballasts and pollen filter cover, Matt Haley billet aluminium oil filter cover, #Rogue-Engineering one piece strut brace. Six-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 9x18” (front) and 11.25x18” (rear) three-piece #Oz-Mito wheels with 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Continental ContiSportContact 3 tyres, #CA-Automotive stud conversion kit with Motorsport Hardware wheel nuts, BC Racing BR series coilovers, Revshift 80a subframe bushes, #AP-Racing-BBK with six-pot calipers and 356mm discs (front) and four-pot calipers and 328mm discs (rear), custom orange calipers

    EXTERIOR Original Steel grey paintwork, Strassentech-style front lip with carbon fibre insert, Hamann fog light covers, smoked fog lights, black kidney grilles, black wing vent grilles, 4000K CCFL angel eyes, Depo smoked indicators and side repeaters, carbon fibre black and white bonnet and boot roundels, AC Schnitzer carbon fibre rear diffuser, OEM CSL boot lid, Lamin-X smoked rear lights, Eagle Eyes smoked inner boot lights

    INTERIOR Full cinnamon interior swap, matt dark myrtle wood trim, re-trimmed padded steering wheel with cinnamon stitching and cinnamon centre stripe, F10 M5 gear knob and gaiter, E60 V8 short shift kit, Awron digital vent gauge

    THANKS Dips at Custom Cars for his input and direction over the years, Teddy at SSDD Motorsport, Prapan at NVD Motorsport, Jaydee Customs, John at carbolts.co.uk, Evolve Automotive, Alex at Elite Car Care, Jack at Royal Steering Wheels, all my friends, family and my understanding wife for supporting my passion for cars over the years
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