- Post is under moderationLAGUNA E46 M3 Lush UK air-ride Cab
A schoolboy dream has become reality in the shape of a Laguna Seca E46 M3 Cab, with a few mods for good measure, of course. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Dear.
DREAM WEAVER Air-ride E46 M3
Achieving your dreams, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant they may appear to some people, is an incredible feeling. From dream jobs, to dream weddings and, obviously, dream cars, these items, events and experiences fill us with sheer joy and make our lives better. Whatever your dream may be, achieving it, making it happen is a special moment; for Bally Hanspal this car was that dream and, as you can plainly see, it’s most definitely become a reality.
“BMWs have been a big part of my life,” begins Bally as we ask him to tell his tale, “with my late grandfather, dad and uncle all owning BMWs through my childhood. It always made me want one and, also, with how amazing they are to drive nothing else can come close to them. For me they really are the ultimate driving machines; despite owning other brands of cars I always seem to have a soft spot for BMWs,” he smiles, and that’s something we wager most of us can relate to.
Bally has dabbled with VAG in the past, ticking off the wheels, suspension and audio boxes along the way before moving towards the performance end of the modding spectrum, all of which served as perfect preparation for the inevitable purchase of his dream car. “When the E46 M3 was released, back when I was still in school, I promised myself I’d own a Laguna Seca blue one, one day. Many people laughed, but it was a dream I had to make come true,” he says and that steely determination is what made it happen. Bally kicked BMW ownership off with an E46 320Ci Sport, the biggest engine he could insure at the tender age of 20, but it was just a stepping stone until he could get his hands on the full-fat, M-powered 3 Series of his dreams. “I remember the day when I bought the car so clearly,” he smiles, “a friend of mine phoned me up – it was a warm Saturday afternoon – and he phoned me asking if I had found any cars for sale. I mentioned I had seen this one for sale on Autotrader, not too far from me. He said ‘Let’s go down and take a look’ so we headed over and after just walking around the car and checking it over I knew this was the one for me. The condition of the car was tip-top and it was so well-maintained that I would have been kicking myself if I hadn’t bought it.”
There were, says Bally, no plans to mod the car when he first got it, and he actually thought that was going to leave the car alone but here we are, it’s in a modded BMW mag. It wasn’t long, he says, before he started ordering parts for his M3 and he didn’t mess about. Wheels came first, with a set of CSL 19s chosen and to go with those he picked out a custom set of BC Racing coilovers to deliver the required drop. With the E46 M3’s natural good looks now nicely enhanced, Bally turned his attention to the audio system and fitted an Alpine double-DIN head unit along with a set of MB Quart component speakers front and rear, which made it into the car’s current build state. So too did the amber corner lights, which look great against that bright, bold blue bodywork, and Bally has also fitted a seriously sexy set of K-Sport brakes, with monster eight-pots up front wrapped around 365mm discs and four-pots at the back, and the red calipers really pop against the body and wheels.
All was going well, but Bally wasn’t in a good place with his suspension. “The BC coilovers were pretty awesome I must say, but with the car not being practical with the way I wanted it the next step was air. After speaking to many people and reading many reviews I went for Air Lift’s 3P setup and I also added Powerflex wishbone and anti-roll bar bushes just to tighten-up that awesome drive.” Now Bally can enjoy all the lows he can eat, so to speak, while still being able to actually drive the car and we like the fact that he’s also done a little bit more than just the bags alone, to allow him to really get the best out that awesome chassis that the E46 M3 is blessed with.
With air on board, Bally decided it was time to up his wheel game but with so many good-looking wheels available for the car, this was not an easy task. It was helped slightly by the fact that he’d always had his eye on the wheels he’s ended up, that being a set of Schnitzer Type II Racing three-piece splits, and they are gorgeous, the metallic grey centres really suiting the whole colour scheme on the car. Where people often go big on diameter, Bally has stuck to a sensible 18” but he’s gone wide; the fronts are a reasonably large 9.25” but the rears are a monster 11.25” across and they fill the arches to bursting, and with it aired out the fitment is perfection.
As far as styling is concerned, Bally has had the front bumper smoothed and it’s been enhanced with the addition of a full carbon fibre CSL front splitter, which not only adds a healthy dose of visual drama but also drops the car even further towards the Tarmac. Moving inside, that vibrant interior didn’t start out life this way and the original seats have made way for a striking red ensemble; “I wanted my M3 to stand out from the rest,” he says, “and after looking at many options it had to be the red Nappa leather, giving the car the Super Man look,” he grins and now it all makes sense. But here too there’s more than meets the eye, and where you might, perhaps, expect to see carbon on a car like this you will instead find that all the interior trims have been finished in Alcantara. “The trims are my favourite mod on the car and they were something I had in mind for a while, but it was a big problem getting them done, with so many companies saying they couldn’t do it and that it couldn’t be done. In the end my dad and I, along with my grandmother, did them together,” and the end result is absolutely unique and wonderful with it. Finally, in the boot, you will find the single air tank and Viair compressor that make up the air ride and, a neat touch, is that with the boot lid being de-badged, the air tank now wears the M3 badge instead.
As far as performance mods are concerned, Bally has so far just added a gorgeous GruppeM carbon intake up front and a de-catted Scorpion exhaust system but it sounds like the next big mod on the to-do list is a supercharger and going by his determination and refusal to give up with any part of the build so far, you can be sure that’s going to happen before too long. There’s no rush though, Bally has no plans to let his dream car go anytime soon; “After now owning the car for two years I’d say it’s an on-going going project that will probably never end,” he chuckles. Bally’s built himself an absolutely beautiful M3, one that’s packed with neat, unique touches that really make it stand out and it’s a car he can truly be proud of. Dreams can come true.
GruppeM carbon fibre intake the only performance mod, for now…
Gorgeous 18” AC Schnitzer Type II Racing splits.
“I wanted my M3 to stand out from the rest and after looking at many options it had to be the red Nappa leather, giving the car the Super Man look”
Alpine double-DIN head unit and custom Alcantara trims.
Red Nappa leather looks fantastic against bodywork.
Custom-mounted Air Lift controller.
Air install has been kept simple and the air tank now wears the M3 boot badge.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Cabrio / #BMW-M3-Cabrio-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E46
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #Scorpion exhaust system with de-cat, GruppeM carbon air intake, six-speed manual gearbox, short-shift kit
CHASSIS 9.25x18” (front) and 11.25x18” (rear) #AC-Schnitzer-Type-II-Racing three-piece wheels with 215/35 (front) and 245/35 (rear) tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance-3P air suspension, #Powerflex wishbone and anti-roll bar bushes, #K-Sport #BBK with eight-piston calipers and 365mm discs (front) and four-piston calipers and 330mm discs (rear) / #AC-Schnitzer-Type-II / #AC-Schnitzer / #Air-Lift-Performance
EXTERIOR #Laguna-Seca-Blue , smoothed front bumper, amber corner lights, gloss black front and side grilles, carbon fibre full CSL front splitter, CCFL angel eyes
INTERIOR Red Nappa leather seats and door cards, Alcantara-trimmed dash, door grab handles and centre console, #Alpine double-DIN head unit, #MB-Quart components front and rear
THANKS A massive thank-you to my family for the support and help putting it all together, Adam and Dav down at Autobahn for the fitting of many parts, Ryan at Ryandetails for the amazing job on the detailing of the paintworkStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationDOUBLE 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
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 removedStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGorgeous 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 yearsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationWhat goes around comes around, so they say, and Nickel Mohammed’s ever-evolving M3 comes around more than most - it’s always changing and we had to catch it quick before it changed again… Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: #C3Photography .
BOLT FROM THE BLUE Turbo wide-body E46 M3 Cab
The old saying that ‘lightning doesn’t strike twice’ is a load of toffee. It’s not just possible that lightning will strike the same part of the Earth more than once, it’s basically inevitable; whether it happens within a five-minute span or twenty million years apart, every square inch of the planet gets it full in the face at some point, and then again, and again. And so it is with a certain sense of inevitability that, in the same vein, feature cars can also strike twice. Regular readers may be squinting at this boisterous E46, trying to figure out where you’ve seen it before… and to answer that niggling query, you recognise it from the cover of our January 2014 issue. But fear not, it’s really quite different now to how it was then. You don’t just walk into a Performance #BMW feature you know, these things have to be earned on merit. And Nickel Mohammed’s shouty M3 has earned another spot here thanks to its constant evolution and mould-breaking styles.
So how’s it different now? Well, for one thing it’s significantly less powerful. No, wait, come back! This is a good thing – you see, last time we saw the car, its turbocharged S54 was running 800hp, but Nickel’s since detuned this to a rather more manageable 630hp (which is still frickin’ loads), as the car is developing in line with his driving style, as well as to suit the chilly climes of New York City. There’s no point boasting a flag-waving horsepower figure if all of those rampaging ponies are uselessly spinning themselves away at every corner, is there? Definitely far better to have a robust stable of usable nags.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll begin at the beginning, shall we? “I purchased this car brand new, and back then you had to be put on a waiting list,” he recalls. “I signed myself up, and six months later the car was shipped… the wrong car in the wrong colour! I wanted a silver convertible, and they delivered a black coupé. But determination is a damn thing – I said to them OK, put me back on the list, I’ll wait.” And when the desired drop-top did eventually arrive, was Nickel keen to start tearing into the thing according to some grand overarching modification plan? “To be honest, no,” he shrugs. “Not at all in fact, I reckoned I’d keep it stock. The thing was expensive! And I was still young, I couldn’t afford all that stuff. Although I did try – 20” rims and so on, all those terrible choices I made!” Ah, the impetuousness of youth. Inevitably the M3 was going to end up modified, it was all part of cosmic destiny. It just took a little time for the car to find its way.
“I’ve built it up and changed it so many times in different directions, the timetable’s kind of all over the place,” he says, when we try to pin down the chronology. “I knew that the mechanical stuff had to be done first, and that started with the engine back in 2011…”
This was no half-hearted undertaking, with Nickel throwing every one of his chips on the table to get the car ideologically transformed by the lunatics at #HorsepowerFreaks . Their revered Stage 3 turbo conversion brought the howling S54’s peak power up to a stupendous 800hp. These bolt-on kits require no cutting, wiring or welding, and are designed for durability as well as awesome power. But what else would you expect for $30,000+?
Don’t go thinking ‘bolt-on’ means ‘simple’ though. Engineering a car to run these sorts of numbers is a thoroughly in-depth task – hence the cost – and it took HorsepowerFreaks around a year to build up, test and refine Nickel’s motor. But that fastidiousness of engineering has paid off, as the built motor has held up strongly since. “I drive cars hard, I drive them till they break,” he laughs, “but the only thing I’ve wanted to change on the engine in all this time is adding the AEM Infinity ECU - that thing is superb, a learning computer; I mean, big-ups to those techs that take the time to build these things that adapt to your driving!”
This attention to cleverness carries on beyond the engine and into the chassis. The suspension offers up an intelligent middle ground between coilovers and air-ride, comprising #KW Variant 3 coilovers with their cunning Hydraulic Lift System, which offers instant ground clearance at the touch of a button. “I wanted to run the car low enough to drive the city streets of NYC - which are terrible - but still be able to raise the front of the car to clear driveways and speed bumps,” Nickel explains. “In all honesty I feel KWs are the best thing made for this car when it comes to suspension.” The last time this car appeared in these pages it was running full air-ride, so you know this is a considered opinion.
The wheels come from famously pricey custom house, Luxury Abstract. “I’ve had so many wheels before, but these Grassor- Rs were just built for this car,” he grins. “The NeoChrome finish is a neat effect, tying into the Lamborghini pearl paint, and the width and depth really accentuate the body structure.” And you can’t really miss that body, can you? The wide arches are custom hand-fabricated in steel, 1.5” wider at the front and 2.5” out back, thanks to the craftsmanship of Martino Auto Concepts in Long Island. The extra girth is augmented by a V-CSL front bumper and carbon-fibre ducktail boot lid from Vorsteiner, further enhanced by the addition of a Brooks Motorsport Elite carbon wing, along with a set of carbon-fibre side skirts.
The interior has also been comprehensively re-worked since we last saw the car. Inside, you’ll find a pair of fully reclining Manhart #BMW Performance race seats, important for Nickel as, in his own words, he’s sucker cruising with the seat back and the music up, which brings us neatly to that impressive audio install. “I always wanted an empty trunk to carry bags in, so I removed the existing music and had my electronics sponsor build me a system that would not only look superb, but sound phenomenal and not take up any trunk space. I had my rear seats taken out and my racing harness looks like it’s actually going into my audio system. That was an idea I came up with because I didn’t want to fit a roll cage to the rear of the car as it wouldn’t look as clean and it would be too bulky.
“There are a lot of stylistic paths you can follow, it takes a lot of time and due diligence,” Nickel reasons. “You have to research, figure out what has been done and what you can do to make it your own. That’s the key to building a car, how do you make it your own; how does it reflect your personality? That has to come from within.
You have to choose, but that’s why you go on the Internet and talk to your friends and family, and even your techs and people that work on your cars and filter information to help you make your choices. I must have a form: function car. Can’t have a monster in the closet and not be able to let it out because you’re scared that it may attack you! Cars are meant to be driven, and yes they break - you fix it and do it again.”
Admirable sentiment, and it really helps to illustrate the power behind the build. Yes, this car’s an internet-breaker, but Nickel hasn’t just been ticking boxes on the scenester checklist. The fact that it’s such a personal thing is also key to why he changes the spec so frequently. He’s been cherry picking parts from the aftermarket for a decade now, as well as commissioning his own, and Nickel’s not showing any signs of stopping yet – as long as there’s air in his lungs, this M3 will keep evolving.
“You’re never done with a project, not ever,” he says. “There will always be new technology, things that you’ve seen and never got a chance to do.” We ask what his favourite part of the car is right now, and he laughs. “Man, there’s not one part of it that I like more than another, because from the top to the bottom it’s my personality, you know? I love it all. And the key to having a dope build is being able to get in and just have a drive. That’s what it was made for. It’s tuned for cruising NYC.” Damn straight. Nickel’s currently working on his E30 M Tech II Convertible, but we all know that the E46 is his baby. It’s been his from new, through thick and thin, and it’s not going anywhere. Lightning will keep on striking.
DATA FILE Turbo #Wide-Body / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body-E46 / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body / #BMW-M3-HPF-E46 / #BMW-M3-HPF / #AEM / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #HorsepowerFreaks ( HPF ) #HPF-Stage-3-turbo-kit , #HPF-titanium-exhaust-system , #AEM-Infinity-ECU , #HPF carbon-fibre intake ducts, HPF methanol injection, #Rogue-Engineering oil filler ca. Six-speed manual gearbox, E31 850i clutch components with #HPF-Feramic-Stage-3-clutch , #OS-Giken-Super Lock Spec-S LSD, #UUC-Motorwerks engine and transmission mounts
CHASSIS 11x19” (front) and 13.5x19” (rear) #Luxury-Abstract-Grassor-R wheels with 245/35 (f) and 305/30 (r) tyres, #KW-Variant-3 coilovers with #Hydraulic-Lift-System, #HPF-330-subframe reinforcement plates, #HPF carbon fibre strut braces, HPF under braces, #Powerflex race subframe bushes and trailing arm bushes #StopTech #BBK with six-pot calipers and 380mm discs (front), four-pot calipers with 355mm discs (rear)
EXTERIOR Custom steel wide-body, Lamborghini #Blu-Cepheus-paint (three-stage pearl), #Vorsteiner-V-CSL front bumper and ducktail boot lid, #Vorsteiner-GTS3 carbon-fibre side skirts, custom E30 M3 bonnet hinges, OEM BMW hardtop, custom dual-xenon headlights, #Brooks-Motorsport Elite carbon-fibre rear wing with #NeoChrome brackets
INTERIOR Manhart #BMW-Performance race seats, #Schroth harnesses, AEM fuel pressure and 100psi oil pressure gauges, rearview mirror gauge interaction, Kenwood 6.95 double-DIN DDX9902S head unit, JL Audio Monoblock HD1200/1, JL 4-channel amp, JL Evolution C3, JL 12” subwoofer, custom audio box with moulded plexi and LED lighting trimmed in OEM BMW leather, Rydeen reversing camera
THANKS #Motorcepts (Master Tech), Intrack Tyres, #S&R-Paint , #NeoChrome , #Luxury-AbstractStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationWith killer styling, perfect stance and an S54-swap , 2M Autowerks’ E46 is an absolute feast of awesomeness. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Viktor Benyi.
Werk it 2M S54 E46 Spectacular Stateside #M3-powered , metal #wide-body-3-Series.
We’ve been around for a long time. We’ve seen a lot of modified cars over the past 19 years (and 209 issues) but we love the et excited by some of the cars we come across. It’s a sign that we’re still in the right job and a sign that you out there in modded #BMW land are doing something very right. And it doesn’t get much more right than 2M Autowerks’ painfully good E46.
This is the sort of car that leaves you a little bit breathless. It’s the sort of car you can spend forever looking at and never get bored of. It’s the sort of car that just feels so utterly complete that it makes you question everything you thought you knew. You’re probably feeling exactly that way right now; don’t deny it…!
The man behind this build, and one half of 2M Autowerks, is David Mendoza – a self- confessed petrolhead through and through. And, unlike a lot of the big show builds we come across, this E46 is his own personal car which he’s owned for 16 years now. It’s that sort of long-term attachment and commitment to project cars that always makes us feel warm inside. “I’ve been into BMWs ever since I could remember,” says David, “but once I was able to purchase a car and actually be behind the wheel, that’s when it became even more special.” We can see how stepping from a hand-me-down Toyota 4x4 into an E46 would have felt very special indeed. “I absolutely loved the lines on the E46 and knew I had to have one,” he says. “Ideally I wanted to get an M3 but at the time I was two years into college at San Diego State University and knew my limits, so I had to settle for the #BMW-330Ci-E46 .” And while it may not have been an M3, the #330i is such a sweet package that, as far as compromises go, it barely counts.
It all began, as these things so often do, with some simple mods and while David did have a plan, it didn’t pan out as he envisaged. “When I bought the car it was Jet black and the first thing I did was get rid of the amber corners, reflectors and side markers,” he says. “At first I started with just simple exterior modifications: wheels, tyres, clear lights, springs, and a Dinan cold air intake. I left the car like that for years and years.
Then my brother and I opened up 2M Autowerks and I started to play around a little more with the cars. I ended up basically doing everything and anything I could.” He’s not kidding…
This is one of those builds where there’s so much amazing stuff going on that it’s difficult to know where to start but seeing as the first thing that hits you is the styling, let’s start there. One of the many, many things that we really like about David’s E46 is that he’s not gone down the default Sport or M3 bodystyling route; yes, there are a few elements but the car has retained its SE essence and this is bolstered with rather a lot of custom work. The front and rear bumpers are both SE items but here they’ve been enhanced with Hamann lips that have been blended in, resulting in a perfectly smooth and unique look that makes a refreshing change from the norm and gives this E46 a bold, distinctive presence. The M3 bonnet works really well with the car’s overall look and is matched to a pair of M3 mirrors, still arguably the best-looking E46 mirrors about, and M3 side skirts to fill out the car’s profile. What you might not realise is that those front arches are also M3 items; David has had the side vents welded shut for a much cleaner, smoother look which definitely seems to be the theme with this E46. The most impressive part of the whole is, without doubt, that fat, all-metal wide- body rear end with its massive pumped-up arches. They really endow this E46 with monster road presence. It’s a great combination of styling elements and the whole package is complemented by a dazzling Imola respray – which we think is far more suited to a head-turning build of this calibre than blend-in black.
All this would be for nought, however, if David had fallen at the wheel hurdle, but there never really was any danger of this happening considering the rest of the work going on here. “Back in #2002 , I initially went with an OEM+ size and a set of staggered 19” iForged Senekas,” says David. But once the wide-body conversion had been completed, the 8.5” and 9.5” widths just weren’t going to cut it. A three-piece wheel with a stepped lip was at the top of his shopping list and that’s exactly what we’ve got here. You’re looking at a gorgeous set of Aristo Forged MJKs, a size down at 18” across but massively wider to fill out those newly pumped-up arches, 9.5” wide up front and a serious 11.5” at the rear. They’re finished in custom matt Oro paint, which looks perfect against that bold red body.
The car’s stance is no less perfect. The killer ride height has no air behind it, however, as this E46 is all static, slammed on a set of Status Gruppe SRS coilovers which bring the arches to within a whisker of the tyres. In addition David has fitted a set of UUC anti-roll bars.
Now, the #BMW-330Ci is a brisk machine, powered as it is by BMW’s rather wonderful M54. But considering everything else going on with this project, it was never really going to cut it especially with David’s long- standing desire for an E46 M3. As good as the M54 is, the S54 is just a bit better – so that’s what you’ll now find in the engine bay. Once glance at that engine, however, will tell you that it’s most definitely not standard.
And that’s because just an engine swap wouldn’t have sufficed; David wanted to extract maximum power from that awesome straight-six. Up top, there’s a set of custom 2M Autowerks E46 velocity stacks handling the intake side of things, with an Alpha N tune by RK Tunes along with a set of Turner Motorsport pulleys. At the other end of the engine you’ll find set of 2M JSP custom stepped race exhaust manifolds which connect to a UUC TSE1 exhaust. David also fitted an Earl’s oil cooler and a Mishimoto high performance radiator, which has since been changed for a CSF race rad. It’s not just the engine that has been worked on; the engine bay too has been given plenty of attention to ensure that this E46 turns as many heads with the bonnet off as it does with it on. David carried out a wire tuck and then welded up any excess holes for a super-smooth look. Then he added a custom cabin air filter and brake covers, before finishing the engine bay off in cement grey, which delivers a striking contrast to the bold and bright Imola bodywork. The cement grey really was an inspired choice, and is not what you expect to see when the bonnet is up, or off, and it definitely makes you look twice. With the engine swap completed the E46 had the performance it deserved but, as the old adage goes, power is nothing without control, and so the stock front brakes were removed and replaced with a pair of substantial Porsche 996 calipers, though you’ll be hard pushed to spot them as they too have been painted in cement grey with just a red Brembo logo, making this possibly the most discreet BBK setup we’ve ever seen. The calipers themselves sit on Rally Road brackets and are mounted around ECS tuning two-piece CSL discs with braided hoses for good measure.
You might think that after all that, by the time he got to the interior David may have run out of steam, but you’d be dead wrong; he’s really gone to town in here. Step one: the seats. The stock items have been unceremoniously ejected and replaced with a pair of utterly gorgeous Recaro Speed items finished in black leather with red stitching.
They are joined by some choice Alcantara items which include a Colby handbrake gaiter and gear gaiter (both with M tricolour stitching), plus a Colby Alcantara steering wheel with matching stitching and a red centre stripe. The front doorcards and rear side panels are gorgeous CSL carbon fibre items, while the rear is dominated by an Autopower half-cage with harnesses and topped-off with a custom rear seat delete. The finishing touch is a splash of Oro paint on a few trim areas and the cage itself, which adds a unique touch of colour.
It’s impossible to dislike an E46, they’re such good cars. And this is arguably one of the best we’ve seen. David has clearly poured a vast amount of money and love into it and the end result is so complete. Well, other than the addition of a carbon roof, which David will fit in a few months. Once that’s on, this car will be completed for good – and it’s rare to be able to say that about any project. David has already started on his next build, an S85 V10-swapped E46 track car, as well as an E36 PTG-style track car, but don’t worry, this E46 isn’t going anywhere. All that’s left for David to do now is ‘werk’ it. Lucky chap!
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #2M-Autowerks / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-2M-Autowerks / #BMW-M3-2M-Autowerks-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #Aristo-Forged /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 #S54-swap , #2M-Velocity stacks, #2M-JSP custom stepped race exhaust manifolds, #UUC-TSE1 exhaust, #Alpha-N tune by #RK-Tunes , wire tuck and excess holes welded, engine bay painted cement grey, custom cabin air filter and brake covers, Earl’s oil cooler and fittings, #Mishimoto high performance radiator (now CSF race radiator), #Turner-Motorsport underdrive pulleys, six-speed manual gearbox, #UUC short-shift kit
CHASSIS 9.5x18” (front) and 11.5x18” (rear) #Aristo-Forged-MJK three-piece wheels in custom matt #Oro-paint with #Motorsport-Hardware 70mm (front) and 90mm (rear) stud kit, 255/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Falken FK453 tyres, #Status-Gruppe-SRS coilovers, #UUC anti-roll bars, Porsche 996 brake callipers (front) painted cement grey with red #Brembo logo on #Rally-Road brackets, #ECS-Tuning two-piece #CSL discs, stainless brake hoses
EXTERIOR Full respray in Imola red, Hamann front lip blended onto SE front bumper, black kidney grilles, M3 bonnet, M3 front arches with side vents welded shut, M3 mirrors, M3 side skirts, custom all-metal wide-body rear, Hamann lip blended onto rear bumper
INTERIOR Recaro Speed front seats with custom leather and red stitching, Autopower half-cage painted in Oro with harness, CSL carbon fibre front and rear doorcards, Colby Alcantara steering wheel with and red centre stripe, Colby Alcantara handbrake and gear gaiters with M tricolour stitching, multi-touch- screen head unit, Oro painted trimStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationA trip to the track for the E46 M3, Mark Williams indulges his inner racing driver and Andy Everett takes on a bit of a project.
This month’s highlight? Easy… as you’ll see in an upcoming issue of BMW Car, I visited Spa Francorchamps to attend the RSR Spa (www.rsrspsa.com) track day in early November to learn about the Modified vs Standard programme in its E92 M3s; and whilst you can read about that escapade elsewhere, this also presented the opportunity for some valuable track time for this Spa virgin. So naturally, I grabbed the keys to the M3 instead of the 330d on my way to the ferry…
I’ve got a fair amount of track experience, but having never driven Spa before it seemed sensible to try and familiarise myself with the track as much as possible before heading out in RSR’s E92 M3. Apart from a day spent drifting around Bruntingthorpe when it was still owned by the friend I bought it from, this would be my first chance to sample the M3’s abilities on track, and there was an exotic array of machinery in the pits to tussle with. Or in the case of the myriad McLarens, GT Porsches and Ferraris on show, get destroyed by…
People talk about Eau Rouge as the most challenging corner at Spa, and quite rightfully so as the gradient accelerates you down the hill on approach, then you are required to brake and change direction whilst experiencing heavy positive G as the gradient transitions up the other side into Raidillon corner (technically, Eau Rouge isn’t a corner at all, but the small stream that runs under the track, Raidillon being the right-hander in the heart of the complex). But if you want to feel that adrenaline spike of fear, try taking the Blanchimont double left hander as fast as you dare, with an honourable mention to Pouhon – another double left which builds speed throughout. With a decent run out of the previous corner, the E46 was approaching Blanchimont well over 125mph, stealing some of the outer run-off to straighten the corner, and turning in beyond 115mph – if you get it wrong here, it’s going to be a big one. Jolly exciting though.
And whilst the M3 was blown away by the £200k club, it acquitted itself brilliantly. For a road car, it resisted understeer well, demonstrating a lovely balance through the third and fourth gear bends of Spa. There was a group of VW Beetle racing cars racking up some valuable track time on the day, and it was really good fun dicing with these – 340hp ate up the 150hp sportsters down the straights, but the corners closed things up a bit. Mindful of the M car’s reputation for inadequate braking on track, I went pretty easy on the middle pedal and they stood up remarkably well, with no fade and a nice, consistent feel. As it’s primarily a road car, I have no quarrel with managing the brakes a bit, but there are plans to try some small tweaks in future…
Overall, I’m very impressed at how enjoyable the M3 was on track. The communicative, balanced chassis encouraged me to really get the most out of it, provoking a little slide to get the car turned into a corner, using all the track on exit to keep things neat whilst the second gear chicane encouraged a slow, indulgent oversteer exit. This probably explains the pair of Contisport Contacts I had fitted upon returning home.
Whilst much of the paddock were busy packing their semi-race cars on to trailers or contemplating a noisy journey home, the M3 adeptly slipped back into its road car role, comfortably consuming Belgium and France, leaving me well rested after an energetic day on track. The M3 felt no different than it had on the journey out. And Eau Rouge? Terrifying, of course, but what a corner, and the M3 had the measure of those pesky Beetles down the following straight. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m rather smitten with the M3…
CAR: #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 1100
TOTAL MILEAGE: 85,935
MPG THIS MONTH: 26.4
TOTAL COST: £306 (tyres)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationEND OF TERM / FAST FLEET / CAR: #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #Ergen-Motorsport / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46
Date acquired February #2016
Duration of test 10 months
Total test mileage 4338
Overall mpg 23.0
Costs £744 intake
£1200 #VANOS-rebuild / #VANOS / #BMW-M3-E46-VANOS / #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54 / #S54-VANOS-Rebuild
Our web editor is off, and despite the expense and heartache of The Berlin Fiasco, he’s taking his #BMW-M-Cars with him.
It’s alive!’ That was the text message I’d been waiting a long time to receive from Ergen Motorsport in Southampton. At last my M3 was up and running again.
It hadn’t been easy establishing what exactly had gone wrong when the car became nothing more than a large silver ornament during a trip to Germany many months ago. Starting the engine would cause the revs to flare, but then it would die. Hooking the car up to a diagnostics reader would show a whole range of faults that seemed to follow very few patterns. Few patterns except for one, that is: VANOS.
Things had smelled a bit fruity under full throttle for a while, which I should’ve known was a hint that the system, which controls the E46 M3’s variable valve timing, was on its way out. With all other (cheaper!) possible causes eliminated, the guys at Ergen Motorsport made the call to rebuild the system, and that rebuild is what ultimately brought the car back to life.
Upon collecting it, the first thing I did was go for a proper run on some B-roads. It now revs even cleaner than before and has lost that nasty fuel smell under full throttle, which suggests the engine is a lot happier. As am I. Months without the car had me well and truly missing it, while that moment it was lifted onto a flatbed in Germany had me thinking I might never experience its unique thrills again.
However, no sooner has my E46 been repaired than it will be disappearing from these pages. No, I haven’t sold it – at the moment I don’t feel like I ever will – but I have left evo, and that means my M3 has left with me.
So, how have my first ten months with the car been? Well, I’ve already built up some unforgettable memories – and not all of them are accompanied by large bills! It feels as if the E46 has been everywhere. It spent a week in Berlin, did laps on the Nürburgring, drove me around Hackney and took me to north Wales. It has always been fast enough, loud enough and grippy enough to provide excitement whenever required, but it can also chew through motorway miles without issue. Given how much the car initially cost – £12,500 – it’s been unbelievable value for money.
As for actually running an #BMW E46 M3, the engine is what makes it special. The 338bhp 3.2-litre in-line #six-cylinder has a supercar-like red line (8000rpm), and with the Eventuri carbonfibre intake and Supersprint exhaust I’ve had fitted to mine, it sounds just brilliant, too.
Then there are the brakes… The standard setup is pretty shocking compared with those on more modern cars, but the Alcons I have upgraded to are truly sublime. They’re unbelievably powerful (and expensive) and stop the car feeling big and bulky. I would also like a faster steering rack, as this would make the car feel more nimble still, though perhaps this desire wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t become used to driving newer stuff while at evo. I also wish the E46 wasn’t so rustprone, but you can’t have it all.
The definition of ‘The Thrill of Driving’ varies from individual to individual. Some might enjoy time on track, others blasting a car down a B-road, but for me it’s always been about the adventure and freedom that driving provides. And having a car like the E46 M3 in which to experience that freedom just adds to the enjoyment.
Ultimately, if you want an affordable performance car with an engine a little bit more special than a 2-litre turbo, the E46 is the one.
‘The M3 was always fast enough, loud enough and grippy enough to provide excitement whenever required’Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSAM’S #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW
I had been toying with the idea of changing my bucket seats for a while as while the safety from the Recaro Pro Racers was pretty unbeatable it had two downsides: I had to get it in an XL size as being on the tall side my shoulders didn’t fit under the wings in the regular seats, which resulted in the base of the seat being too wide for my lower half, and winged seats are banned from tourist days at the Nürburgring.
So I stuck both my seats up for sale and they were soon gone. With a pocket full of cash I called Hack Engineering and ordered one brandnew Recaro SPG. I then waited till payday before I ordered the second but, with all this Brexit rubbish, Recaro had hiked its prices up by 10% annoyingly, so I held fire on ordering another and hunted around the second-hand market.
A few weeks passed and nothing popped up till a good friend of mine, Micheal Evans, offered to loan me his old-skool carbon #Kevlar-Recaro-SPA , which is still the same shape as the current SPG. The Kevlar version is just amazingly light and can be easily held with your little finger alone!
Seats sorted I now wanted to change my mounts from random steel items to 6mm alley FIA mounts to have it safer and lighter at the same time. I must have saved around 5kg changing seats and mounts so I decided to add the front carpet back in as I could afford the weight gain to make it nicer to drive on the road.
I got the seat mounted in a nice position for my legs but my arms were too stretched from the wheel so I put a 20mm spacer on; luckily having big hands I can still reach the indicator and wiper stalks. My first outing putting the new seats through their paces was a #PistonHeads-Sunday-Service at #Silverstone circuit. I hadn’t booked any track time but went along with my helmet and #HANS device anyway. The weather was nice so #TBFF decided to book a half an hour session. I felt more exposed not having the safety/blind spot of the winged seat but the base of the SPG held me so much better that I wasn’t having to brace myself with my left thigh anymore. Also it makes for a better GoPro angle to capture track driving footage.
www.hackengineering.co.ukStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationThe E24 manages to pass another MoT and receives some TLC to celebrate, the E46 M3 goes road tripping and the E32 has a deep cleanse while the spectre of some big bills looms on the horizon…
157mph. If I had to choose a speed for a tyre pressure warning light to illuminate itself, I could barely think of a worse one. Having spent most of the day cruising across France, Belgium and Germany on the way to my overnight stop in Augsburg, Bavaria, the temptation to stretch the legs of my newly acquired M3 on the first decent stretch of derestricted autobahn (the A8 between Stuttgart and Augsburg) was too much to resist.
In a moment my thoughts went from being quietly impressed at the ease with which my 14-year old-M3 wound itself up to such a speed – with more to come, not yet having found the limiter – to ‘oh no’. As befits the rest of my rushed preparation for this trip, I’d barely had time to check if there was a spare wheel and accompanying tool kit, so a real puncture – quite apart from the prospect of a tyre failure at such speed – would have resulted in a long wait for recovery and a suitably large bill before I had even got started.
The car felt fine, still completely stable, so I suspected – given the age and recent lack of use – that it was most likely a sensor playing up. Getting off the autobahn as soon as possible, a thorough look confirmed my suspicion – the tyres were perfectly okay, I couldn’t see anything embedded that shouldn’t be there, nor detect any difference in pressures. Resetting the system inside the car, the warning came on again within a few seconds; definitely a sensor. Progress was somewhat slower though… better safe than sorry. The next morning welcomed a baking hot day in Southern Germany, the M3’s tyres were fully inflated and confidence was restored; the 80km between Augsburg and Munich were dispatched in particularly short order, with a GPSverified 159mph at one point; if nothing else, this M3’s engine certainly seems in fine fettle!
Munich was to be the starting point for an eight-day assault on some of the best roads Europe has to offer, chasing www.granturismoevents.com through Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco and France. The M3 would be somewhat overshadowed by the various Ferraris, Porsches, Lamborghinis and McLarens in attendance but would have an S54 buddy in the shape of the organiser’s Z3M. And whilst the M3 might not quite cut it cruising the streets of Monaco (at least compared to the rest of the group), up on the mountain passes she more than held her own, proving to be enormous fun and plenty fast enough to hang on to the tail of ostensibly quicker machinery.
As event photographer, I had naturally hoped for clear blue skies throughout the trip, but with such a long tour inclement weather was bound to hit us at some point – and so it transpired on day three from Austria to Switzerland. With thunder and lightning rumbling around the mountains there was nothing else for it but to pack all the gear up and head for the hotel. It also meant there was a chance to really play with the M3’s balance on the sodden surfaces of the empty second gear corners – it was a great opportunity to indulge in the easy beyond-limit fun the E46 has always been so good at.
It was around this point of the trip that a strange noise made itself known from the rear, a noise that would gradually become worse throughout the trip. Low speed acceleration was accompanied by an odd vibration, initially just a distant wobble which developed into an occasionally metallic sounding clatter; the only remedy was to accelerate gently, as the noise disappeared at higher speeds.
This was the start of the prop centre bearing breaking down – something which I’d noticed once or twice in the UK but now under hard use was on its way out. No more second gear fun for me! Despite picking up ABS and DSC warning lights (going for a full house of dash warning lights, seemingly) the rest of the trip passed uneventfully, once I learned how to drive around the low speed propshaft problems.
The final drive back home from St Tropez proved the best of the lot – the Route Napolean’s many fast third and fourth gear sweeping bends were joyful as always, and the wonderful D996 between Dijon and Troyes was a highlight. Whilst I had to curtail my enthusiasm to manage the car, the M3 proved to be an exceptional ally for this kind of trip – fast, fun, spacious, comfortable and pretty economical. The appetite suitably whetted, I’ll be back again with a fully fit M3.
While I was short of time between purchase and departure I did prioritise having the air-con regassed (35ºC is no fun without it) and a quick visit to www.carphonics.co.uk in North London to have the ICE modified to allow me to play music through my iPhone. My car being just pre-face-lift meant it was not compatible with the simple firmware upgrade, so a new connection was soldered into the CD changer and a cable run through the cabin. Sacrificing the CD player functionality in favour of auxiliary input via a 3.5mm jack cable seemed an excellent trade off to me.
As I write, the M3 is with Highams Park Motor Company (020 8523 3443 www.hpmotorcompany.co.uk) awaiting collection, more on which next month.
With a mechanically sound M3, I’ll be wanting to get some small spots of corrosion and general cosmetic condition looked at – if you have any (preferably Essex-based) recommendations please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Right: The M3’s dashpod doing its best impression of a set of Christmas tree lights.
/ #BMW-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 117
TOTAL MILEAGE: 84,370
MPG THIS MONTH: 28.4
TOTAL COST: £50 (air con regas); £60 (aux cable install)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ #BMW-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3
SAM’S E46 M3
Whist I was at Hack Engineering’s workshop last month I got talking with the team there about changing up my braking system; even though I was happy with my current setup I wanted to switch it up a little. This was spurred on once I’d heard Hack had become an #AP-Racing dealer; I’d always wanted #AP-brakes so I just had to go for some. Following advice from a lot of other M3 track enthusiasts I went for Pagid RS29 pads as this car is always going to be used on track just as much as the road.
With the front kit easily sorted here’s the twist: I went back to OEM brakes on the rear. The AP racing rear brake kit actually runs the factory sized disc so if I didn’t get on with the standard caliper I could always upgrade again. To beef up the factory rear brake setup Hack machined up some brass inserts that replace the rubber bush that goes between the slider and the caliper, so being metal instead of plastic it vastly reduces the unwanted movement.
As I wasn’t sure reverting back to the standard one-piston caliper was going to be enough on track I didn’t fork out on another set of RS29 pads on the rear, so I just settled for some EBC YellowStuff pads instead. I finished off with Goodridge braided lines and some racing fluid. I was all set for some bed-in miles then it was off to Snetterton 300 for my third day there.
Luckily my track day fell during a heat wave so I was able to experience the full force of what these brakes had to offer. It took me a few laps to get used to the change of balance in the car but once I was over that I was able to push on and even made a 2:09 time around the track, smashing my personal best. I know there are more seconds to shave off around Snett but it’s hard to achieve without aero. More seat time there and manning up a bit should make up for that, though!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.