- Post is under moderationTechnical Advice. I’d like to pose a question to Andrew Everett who I recollect commenting about an E46 #BMW-323Ci on which he said that replacing the inlet manifold with a 3.0-litre manifold, throttle body and rechip would boost horsepower up to around 200hp. Would I be right in assuming he was also talking about the 3.0-litre throttle body too? And are there any other tips and tricks he could give me about such an install? #BMW-323Ci-E46 / #BMW-323Ci / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-3-Series #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46/2 / #BMW-3-Series Coupe-E46 / BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-E46/2 / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW
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- Thanks for getting in touch with us Geoff. The problem is the 323Ci has the M52TU (twin Vanos) unit that has an electro mechanical throttle body – a uThanks for getting in touch with us Geoff. The problem is the 323Ci has the M52TU (twin Vanos) unit that has an electro mechanical throttle body – a unit with traditional cable throttle control but an electric motor operated by the ASC to close the throttle if required.
The M54 has a fully electronic throttle body that is not compatible with the 323i/328i cars. The M54 manifold (with bigger ports) will fit but you’ll need to make an alloy adaptor plate to bolt the M52 throttle body (probably a blue label 414 unit) to it – a good weekend project, but is it worth it? Anyone who has done the job says it is, even though you are stuck with the same-sized throttle body. As far as I know, there isn’t an off-the-shelf adaptor plate as yet although it would be worth contacting Turner Motorsport in the US to see if it has any plans. Once done, a good remap would take it to 200hp. More ...
- Post is under moderationIRISH CHARM
Exceedingly clean and exceptionally well-modified, this supercharged BMW 325Ci E46 on BBS LMs is doing it right. Modifying is one thing, but bringing a car to a better than factory standard is something else; Darren Fennelly’s supercharged E46 proves beauty is more than skin deep. Words: Ben Koflach // Photos: Drive-My.
This Irish E46 started life as a standard silver 323Ci but in less than a year owner Darren Fennelly transformed it into one of the most extensively workedover E46s out there.
This wasn’t a cheque book build either. Oh no, much of the work was done by Darren and his close friends. “The build took nine months and nearly killed me and my friends,” Darren explains. “It’s one of the biggest things I have done in my life, but definitely one of the best and most enjoyable, even with all the late nights and hardships along the way.”
So where do we begin? Well, first things first, it’s clearly no longer silver. The 323’s change to its glorious white hue wasn’t a quick and easy one, either. Darren wanted a really thorough spray over and so the 2.5- litre M52TU, along with its five-cog gearbox, was hauled out of the engine bay, thus giving the painter an easier job when it came to making sure the paint coverage was as complete as possible.
The engine wasn’t simply put to one side, mind you. Darren had been speaking with Simpson Motorsport in England about getting more ponies out of it. “Simpson put me in touch with European Supercharger Systems (ESS) in Norway, from whom I bought the supercharger brand-new,” he says. “A genius friend of mine and myself installed it in around five hours without any real problems.”
It’s an impressive bit of kit that uses a twin-screw compressor rather than the more traditionally used centrifugal configuration. Twin-screw superchargers have been used by American hot rods and drag racers for decades and this method really suits Darren’s E46 as it provides more low down torque; peak boost is delivered from around 2200rpm – perfect for his daily driver.
Using a custom ESS-spec Lysholm 1.6-litre blower and an aluminium-alloy intake manifold, the ESS Stage 1 kit provides some healthy power figures. Larger Bosch injectors, CNC mounting brackets, additional idler pulleys and a heavy-duty drive belt all come as part of the kit, too, and it all works together to provide 7psi of boost along with quick throttle response.
Although the ESS system is designed to fit with the factory air box, Darren has swapped that out for a Powertec cone filter and once the engine was back in the car, also fitted a manifold-back Supersprint exhaust system. “ESS claimed the supercharger would add another 110bhp and after mapping at Simpson Motorsport it put down 276bhp,” Darren reveals. “It is fast, not M3 fast, but not a million miles off either. The acceleration is very clean and it pulls real nice with the supercharger. And there’s a nice little whistle too, just enough so that you know it’s got a little something extra hidden away!”
Before the engine was put back in, mind you, Darren cleaned it right up, and did the same with the gearbox, while also renewing the oil filter, rocker cover gasket, spark plugs, belt tensioner and sub-engine protection unit, as well as the clutch.
Various components, from the washer bottle top to the ECU cover were then painted gloss black, and that’s before we even get to the carbon fibre that’s been added. Darren really has been thorough and the result is a truly stunning-looking engine bay.
Coming back to the body, you’ll probably have spotted that the colour isn’t the only thing that changed. Darren also purchased a #Reiger M3-style front bumper and side skirts, as well as an M Tech rear bumper which he modified to sit level with the Reiger bits – a subtle touch that makes a world of difference. A CSL-style addition to the bootlid looks spot-on, as do the partsmoked LED rear tail-lights and smoked indicators all-round. More carbon fibre additions come in the form of a rear diffuser and kidney grilles, while a similar level of attention to detail has gone in to the exterior as the engine.
Every clip, bracket, mount or fastener has been replaced with items from the dealer, as have many other items of trim, including the under arch liners and also the brake lines. The underside was also extensively cleaned and repainted. “We started off with a simple plan but got carried away!” laughs Darren.
You name it, it’s been either replaced, renewed or repainted. The entire rear subframe was dropped out of the car, for example, enabling it and the area from which it was removed to be lovingly rubbed down and repainted. All the bushes were replaced, including the four subframe bushes, and Turner Motorsport limiters were fitted to the rear trailing arm bush carriers. The springs and shocks were binned in favour of #KW Variant 2 coilovers, offering Darren the adjustability he was after without being a harsh full-on race setup.
With the extra power under the bonnet, you won’t be surprised to hear that the brakes have seen quite a substantial upgrade. Up front, 330mm grooved discs are clamped by AP Racing four-pot calipers, while the standard rear discs have been renewed and are accompanied by M3 calipers, which have had new pads fitted and been painted red to match the APs. Feeding these with the necessary fluid they need to operate is a set of braided hoses. The rolling stock is one of those additions that just seem to make this car, and rightly so. Many E46s sport replica BBS LMs, and in some ways we can understand why – they look good and go well with the E46 shape.
However, any kind of replica wheel just wasn’t going to cut it for Darren’s project, and he managed to source a set of genuine staggered 19” LMs. Darren wanted them to be absolutely perfect, so they were sent to Nu-Luk Wheels in Carrickfergus. Every single nut and bolt was removed, with the dishes, barrels and faces coming apart for attention. The dishes were stripped of the lacquer they’d previously worn by a machine lathe, following which they were polished to an extremely high standard. The centres were then taken right back before being powdercoated gold, lacquered and built back up.
Measuring 8.5” wide up front and a chunky 10” out back, the wheels not only look the business but mean that Darren is able to get a much bigger rubber footprint down for more grip at both ends. To that end, he’s fitted grippy 235/35 front and 265/30 rear Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres, which look absolutely perfect.
Our final stop on our tour of Darren’s E46 is the interior – and what an interior it is. Much like the rest of the project, Darren’s approach is far from shy. The whole lot was essentially gutted, making things a little easier for the retrimmers, who were tasked with covering the lot in sumptuous red Nappa leather – not before Darren had added an OEM black carpet in place of the original grey one, mind you. The parcel shelf was also given a covering of black alcantara, while much of the plastic trim was replaced with black parts from the OEM catalogue, or repainted black. OEM mats and a selection of M goodies almost complete the spec, and it’s worth noting that Darren also renewed every single nut, bolt, washer, clip and bracket in the process. The cherry on the top of the awesome interior is the dash, which has been flocked for a motorsport feel and has benefited from a trio of gauges monitoring the boost, oil pressure and voltage. The factory dials have also been changed to white to match this trio, which is a neat touch.
Truly unrecognisable as an early E46, Darren’s 323Ci is a real stunner. So thorough is his reworking that his Three looks and feels like something that’s just left the factory. Attention to detail like this is not seen often – no stone has been left unturned, and we’d happily go as far as saying it’s one of the best E46s in Ireland – or at least from what we’ve seen. Considering the enormous makeover the car’s had, to do it all in just nine months is amazing and just goes to show that you can do whatever you like with a bit of help from your friends.
DATA FILE #BMW-323Ci-E46 / #BMW-323Ci / #BMW-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-323Ci-Supercharged-E46 / #BMW-323Ci-Supercharged / #M52/ #BMW-M52 / #M52-Supercharged / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #ESS / #BMW-325Ci / #BMW-325Ci-E46 / #BBS-LM / #BBS /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.5-litre straight-six #M52TUB25 , #ESS-TS1 supercharger kit including inlet manifold and larger injectors, #Powertec air filter with custom heat shield and air intake hose, #Supersprint manifold-back exhaust system, ECU remap by #Simpson-Motorsport , carbon fibre rocker cover and fuel rail cover, custom ESS decal for rocker cover, chrome oil filler cap, new OEM: fuel filter, oil filter, rocker cover gasket, spark plugs, belt tensioner, sub-engine protection unit. Black painted: front air intake unit, ECU cover, expansion tank cover, battery unit box and more. Standard five-speed manual gearbox, ST1 short shifter, new OEM: clutch, flex disc, gearbox mounts.
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) #BBS LMs fully rebuilt with powdercoated gold centres and polished dishes, shod in 235/35 and 265/30 Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres respectively. #KW-Variant-2 coilovers, new OEM: wishbones, bushes, track rod ends and all nuts, bolts and washers. #Turner-Motorsport RTAB limiter kit fitted, all components cleaned and repainted including underside of shell, new jacking rubbers. #AP-Racing front brake kit using four-pot calipers and 330mm grooved discs, new OEM rear discs and M3 calipers painted red, new brake lines with braided flexi-hoses, new OEM handbrake shoes, Ferodo brake fluid.
EXTERIOR: Full respray in white with a black roof, #Reiger M3-style front bumper and side skirts, Reiger front splitter, CSL-style rear spoiler, customised M Sport rear bumper, carbon fibre kidney grilles, carbon fibre diffuser, carbon fibre badges, smoked front and side indicators, LED rear light units with smoked indicators and reverse lights, new OEM foglights and surrounding M-tech mouldings, new OEM arch liners, new OEM brackets and clips throughout, new factory stickers throughout.
INTERIOR: Full retrim in red Nappa leather, parcel shelf retrimmed in black alcantara, full black OEM carpet, most of remaining trim replaced with new black components or new grey components sprayed black, ST1 footrest and pedals, new OEM door and boot rubbers, M Sport gear knob and handbrake handle, new OEM floor mats, flocked dashboard, custom gauge pod (also flocked) holding Stuart Warner 52mm boost, oil pressure and volt gauges, white Lockwood dials, new OEM speakers all-roundStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationKARMA CHAMELEON #M52 BMW
Last year, Lewis Maher won our Air Lift competition and he put the kit to good use, building this slick #E46 . Lewis Maher didn’t even want an E46 but some intangible attraction to this #BMW-323Ci-E46 along with some good karma has led him to build this unique brown-green dream machine… Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: Mathew Bedworth.
The chameleon is nature’s greatest trickster. Rather than running away like a cowardly gazelle or hopelessly trying to fend off attackers like those butterflies that have evolved to look poisonous, the chameleon casually hides in plain sight by simply altering the manner in which predators and prey perceive it. Well, I say ‘simply’, it’s probably taken the glacial pace of evolution quite some effort to develop colour-shifting cells that can be altered at whim but it’s a neat party trick, isn’t it? This Pantone chicanery has been aped by car manufacturers ever since they figured out that holding the spray gun at a different angle can alter the colour scheme depending on where you’re standing. #TVR became obsessed with the technique in the 2000s, and even the humble Nissan Micra and Primera were offered with flip paint, much to the facepalming of countless accident repair centres. And arguably the crowning achievement of this paint-based tomfoolery is the shade of brown you’re looking at here. Which, as logic dictates, is named ‘Irish green’. It looks brown from afar but morphs through a wide palette of green before turning gold in the sunlight.
As you can imagine, having this Volkswagen-sourced Irish Green paint slathered across the #BMW-E46 that you see before you, this is not so much hiding in plain sight as it is rubbing everyone’s noses in it. Look at all the other cars on the showground, all one-dimensional in their single-colour paint jobs. Yes, your mile-deep black or sumptuous burgundy may be polished to the nth degree, but does it change colour when you walk past it? No. You should really get some Irish Green in your life, it makes everything better.
“It’s a mind-boggling name for a shade of brown,” concedes Lewis Maher, the man with the keys in his hand. But this is all part of the fun, of course. Boggling minds is precisely what helps you stand out from the crowd. In the land of the ubiquitous, the double-take is king. “The car actually originally belonged to my mate Brendan Tillbrook, who’s in the paint trade,” Lewis explains. “He got the car in Topaz blue and decided to try out Irish green ready for the #2013 Players Classic show. Back then it sat on Porsche twists in a #Mercedes cream colour. That was the state I got it in and I wanted to keep the colour; unfortunately I got crashed into in December 2013 shortly after buying the car. The guy didn’t pay out and I didn’t want to go through the insurance so I ended up funding the repairs myself.
Luckily Steve Denton and the guys over at Stylehaus in Northampton were on hand to repair the damage and give the car a good tidy up all over for the #2014 show season.” What’s interesting about this stage of the story is that Lewis didn’t actually want an E46 in the first place. “I was never really a fan of them,” he shrugs. “My original plan was to buy an #E36 , or maybe even a Nissan S14, but one day Brendan came along offering me this car and there was just something about it. To this day I can’t tell you exactly what it was that drew me to it, it just has… something. It’s the first BMW I’ve actually had on the road, too! I briefly owned an #E30 project when I was a teenager but I had to get rid of it and, prior to this car, I mostly had VWs.” This makes sense.
The VW scene is arguably one of the key driving forces in the stance movement (there’s no point seeing it as a rival to the BMW stance scene, they’re such wildly different offerings that happen to intersect here and there), and it certainly explains his enthusiasm for that weird paint shade. But anyway, back to the preparations for the 2014 season. “I left the car with Steve and Ash Hinton from Allstance in January, before I went back to phase one training in the army,” says Lewis. “I was going to be away for a while and just said to them that I wanted it all sorted. And it was around this time that I entered Performance #BMW ’s competition for the Air Lift suspension kit… and I won!” This radical change in the very being of the #323Ci provided just the impetus and momentum that Lewis and Allstance needed to progress the car to the next level. After all, it’s one thing to buy someone else’s show car, but it’s quite another to make it your own.
At this point, however, it’s probably important to point out that the phrase ‘show car’ only relates to one facet of the E46’s function. “The car’s used for daily commuting. I run around wherever I need to go as well as getting to shows in it,” Lewis explains. Which is just the way it should be, and is all the more impressive given the aggressive chassis mods and super-spotless rims he’s running.
“I couldn’t have been more excited about winning the Air Lift suspension and got straight on the phone to Ash to get it fitted,” Lewis continues. “I was actually on the train home for a long weekend break from training when I got the news, so that weekend I popped over to Stylehaus, with the help of my mate Travis Price, to go and see Ash and Steve and share the news. It just so happened that Ash introduced me to a guy named Aaron who knew of a set of wheels that [Players linchpin] Carl Taylor was getting sent over that he thought would work. This set of wheels happened to be the VCEs…” The Rotiform VCE, to the uninitiated, is a forged design that evokes the motorsport rims of retro rally cars and homologation specials (think Delta Integrale or Escort Cosworth Monte Carlo, that whole Compomotive/Speedline vibe) while ballooning the dimensions and adding a frisson of shimmer that shifts the race look into somewhere between VIP and OEM+. And they look pretty badass, do they not?
“I saw them in a picture on Aaron’s phone and immediately knew I wanted them on my car,” Lewis recalls. “I had no clue what they would look like, I just wanted them! So the wheels and air-ride arrived a month or so later and Ash and Steve began cracking on ready for April when I was due to collect it. They quickly realised that the Rotiforms wouldn’t fit without some arch work but, naturally, I said ‘just get them to fit!’ which they did!” And what a cracking job they’ve done. But let’s not forget that behind the glitz and glamour, we’re still looking at a daily driver. With this in mind, Lewis sourced a complete M-Sport interior in cream leather from eBay, along with complementary steering wheel. It’s important to have these little luxuries when you’re spending so much time hammering the thing to work and back. The Eonon double DIN stereo helps here, too, while the full wooden trim provides a touch of class to sit neatly alongside the cream cowhide. “I always thought wood was for granddads until I saw how it looked in this car!” Lewis laughs.
This holistic approach spreads to the exterior as well. Sure, the paintwork is unique and alluring but there’s more to this build than simply slapping a wacky hue on a stock body. While the arches have been inevitably massaged to squish the Rotiforms under there – rolled and smoothed, with the rears subtly widened by 10mm apiece – there are myriad details to discover; the more you look, the more you see. Both bumpers have been fully smoothed, along with the wings and bootlid. You’ll spot a glistening gloss black finish on the wiper arms, scuttle panel, grilles, and wing mirror back plates, while the carbonfibre BMW roundels are counterpointed by chrome window surrounds. The devil, as they say, is in the detail.
Lewis’s thinking behind this build is very much like the eyes of the chameleon. The big lizard’s peepers move independently, meaning that it can keep an eye both on predators and prey; similarly Lewis can focus on what’s right for the car’s aesthetics while also retaining its usability. The fun part is when both of these approaches align: for the chameleon, it means stereoscopic vision; for this E46, it’s a win-win fusion of delectable aesthetics and practical rearwheel drive thrills. And that’s very good karma, isn’t it?
DATA FILE #BMW-323Ci
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.5-litre straightsix #M52TUB25 , #Getrag #323i gearbox and stock diff.
CHASSIS: 8.5x18” ET35 (front & rear) #Rotiform VCE wheels with 20mm adaptors, 215/35 (front & rear) #Nankang NS2s, Air Lift Performance digital air-ride with camber-adjustable top mounts, stock 323i brakes.
EXTERIOR: VW Irish Green paint, fully smoothed bumpers, wings and bootlid, gloss black details (wiper arms, scuttle panel, rear bumper grille, front grilles, wing mirror back plates), chrome window trims, carbon-fibre BMW roundels, rear arches widened 10mm, arches rolled and smoothed all-round.
INTERIOR: Cream leather M Sport interior, M Sport steering wheel, Eonon double DIN head unit, wood trim.
THANKS: A massive thanks to my mum and her partner for putting up with the car, and also helping me with all the little things getting done on it! My dad for helping with the clutch when I needed to change it and all we had was a jack and two axle stands (for a 50-year-old he still has the knack of working on cars!), Ashley at Allstance, Aaron for helping us get it running for Players, Carl Taylor, Steve and the crew at Stylehaus, all my friends that have helped in every way with the build, Travis Price for holding me to my word and making me build this epic car, Josh and Dan for helping lift the engine when I needed to get it out, Jason Manton for all the valeting work, and Matthew Bedworth for the images and keeping me going with this car. And finally, a huge thanks to my girlfriend Samantha for putting up with me and my addiction to the car. If it wasn’t for her the car wouldn’t have got to where it is now!
18” Rotiform VCEs look fantastic on this E46, especially when combined with the Air Lift kit.
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