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    As the E46 M3 CSL never made it to the #USA , #BMW enthusiasts set about building their own, like this tasty pair. America was cruelly robbed of the E46 M3 CSL, so the response of Stateside modifiers has been to create their own with even more muscle. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Marco Svizzero.

    It’s easy to get jealous of Americans. They produce money-spinning movies and music loved the world over; they seemingly control the world markets, the internet and practically every satellite in the sky; and if civilisation goes down the plughole, they keep enough gold locked away to hold two fingers up to the rest of us.

    But if you want true envy, check out how cheaply Americans can buy a new M3, M5 or Porsche 911, then see how little it costs them to fuel them so they can enjoy playtime for far less coin than the rest of the world.

    But occasionally, Europe gets its own back. Prime example is the E46 M3 CSL: a car so raw, pure and driver-focused that it became an instant classic on its 2003 release, and one the enthusiasts went all wobbly over. But not the Americans. They got bitter, frustrated and angry over it as the things just weren’t allowed Stateside due to environmental and safety reasons. There were 1400 examples built, and 1400 didn’t find their way to American showrooms.

    So while the non-CSL E46 M3 is almost laughably common on American roads, you’re not about to see a CSL barking its way along canyon roads or buzzing city streets. You may spy something close though. Deny a market like America a car it badly wants and, much like banning a movie, it makes the thing so much more desirable and some will stop at nothing to get it. Pictured here are two Californian E46 M3 CSL replicas, which in many regards are as close to the real thing as possible. Certainly substantial sums of cash have been parted with in their builds, but that’s the price needed to pay proper homage to the ultimate road-going E46 M3.

    It’s a price Adam Cook of Citrus Heights in North California paid to create his Steel grey E46 M3 CSL replica. We caught up with him and photographed his CSL replica alongside another built by Andrei Afanasiev – a fellow user from California’s Bay Area. Together they are a formidable pairing, with Adam’s looking the more genuine with its CSL-esque paint (originals only came in Silver grey and black Sapphire), even though Andrei’s M3 CS colour is a beautiful shade.

    “BMW should have brought the CSL to the US,” Adam said. “There should be a standard that works for both US and Europe for safety and the environment so we can both get the same cars. An example is my other car, a 1M Coupé. They brought that to the US and it sold out fast.” Regardless, Adam got busy building what BMW didn’t provide, and is convinced he’s created something at least the match of a true CSL. “My setup makes more than a stock CSL,” he said. “ I have a better exhaust, pullies and a better software tune.”

    Adam bought his E46 M3 brand-new from his BMW dealer in 2002, and was already no stranger to the marque. As well as his 1M he’s owned an E46 330i, E39 530i and an E90 330i. After a few months of M3 ownership on went a K&N panel filter to get the ball rolling, and since then he’s barely drawn breath. To see the inventory of all the previous parts he’s fitted to the M3 as well as what’s currently there – and the wellrecorded cost of everything – is quite frightening. “To build a replica CSL is fairly easy once you get hold of OE parts, and it helps to have more cash than brains and keep throwing money at it,” he said.

    Adam wanted to make his car as much of an OE CSL as possible, but also improve on parts where he thought necessary. “My modifying philosophy was if I owned a real CSL what would I change on it?” he said. “I think the likes of headers, brakes, exhaust and suspension could all be improved.”

    Starting with the body, Adam has upgraded his M3 with an OE CSL front bumper, lights, side grills, bootlid, carbon fibre rear diffuser and emblems. And impressively, as one of the CSL’s signature elements, he’s managed to add an OE carbon fibre CSL roof. “I got most of the OE CSL parts from a US importer which has sadly recently gone out of business, while the rest I got from a European source,” he said. “I’m glad I got them when I did as CSL parts are now no longer being made.”

    Adam said most of the CSL parts are direct replacements on a standard M3, although minor modifying included rerunning wires on occasion. The roof was a different matter though: “The roof is genuine OE BMW, and its install was mostly time and patience,” Adam said. “Eighty-six spot welds needed removing and then the surface was cleaned. The OE roof fitted perfectly so no major work was needed other than adding the centre brace: if you remove the old roof properly there is no extra welding needed other than for the centre brace.”

    The interior also mimics a CSL’s with an OE CSL centre console added, something Adam said was basically plug and play. There are online DIY tutorials on forums for the fitting, requiring a bit of time and rerunning window switch wires. Also on are a CSL handbrake gaiter, door trims, handles and door sills, while the rear seat has been removed in the style of the M3 CSL concept model. Recaro Profi XL seats are now up front, which look superb but Adam said they’re not great on long journeys. But ridding his M3 of power front seats and the rear bench has saved a lot of weight. As for CSL-ing the 3.2-litre six-cylinder, parts availability proved a headache. Adam originally fitted a GruppeM intake, but was intent on finding a true CSL air box. “Finding a CSL air box and cam was hard as there are not many in the wild,” he said.

    “The first cam I got was broken in shipping and took nine months to get a replace.” Other OE CSL engine parts include the rocker arms, exhaust valves and the head gasket. Adam has enhanced things further with the likes of Supertech Performance dual valve springs, Rogue Engineering power pulleys, some trick cooling and an extensive exhaust system upgrade. Rounded off with OE M3 CSL software and an Evolve ECU tune Alpha-N Stage 3, these enhancements have convinced Adam he has a genuine CSL-beater on his hands.

    The car’s six-speed SMG auto has also been given the CSL treatment with its software flash, while Adam uses a Turner Motorsport 3.91 differential and the company’s rear subframe reinforcement. A CSL 14.5:1 steering rack is also employed for the genuine feel, while TC Kline Racing adjustable coilovers and camber/caster plates, Eibach anti-roll bars and Ground Control rear lower control arms are part of a suite of underbody enhancements to push this M3 into CSL territory and beyond.

    The genuine look was required under the arches, and Adam sourced genuine 19” CSL rims and shod them in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, rather than the ‘widow maker’ Michelin Cup rubber that made true CSLs so likely to switch ends in the wet. Behind these wheels are mighty StopTech 355mm discs all-round, clamped by four-pots finished in yellow paint. To look upon the car is to believe it’s a true CSL, and one that’s been enhanced impressively further.

    Andrei’s car is based on an M3 CS and it too has an impressive spec sheet. Under the bonnet the S54 has been given an OE CSL carbon air box running Evolve Alpha N software and VAC Ultra Light 2 pulleys. He’s also removed the sound deadening to enjoy more of that intoxicating induction howl. Strapped to the Dinan strut brace are the remote reservoirs for the Moton Club Sport dampers and the chassis has been further upgraded with an AC Schnitzer rear anti-roll bar, Poweflex bushes throughout and a TMS subframe reinforcement kit, while for the exhaust system, he opted for an Eisenmann Section 2 and Meisterschaft Ti system.

    Parked side-by-side, the two E46s look as though they belong at the M3 CSL top table. And so they should with the huge amount of time and money involved, including the relentless hunt for OE CSL parts for the builds. Much like true CSLs, they have that look about them that makes you want to grab the keys and be left alone on a winding stretch of open road for a few hours.

    “I prefer back roads to the track,” Adam said, “and am one of the few people in North California who organises meets and drives. I have a website called that lists my favourite drive routes, and one of the best is Valcano which is perfect for the CSL. It’s a joy to drive because you feel the connection to the car and the road, and as the last of the high revving straight-six motors you can feel that passion the M guys put into the car. Cars now are faster, but some of the soul has been lost for progress.”

    Adam wouldn’t dissuade anyone from building their own CSL replica, but he warned that OE parts are a pain to find as there are few parts and plenty of people after them. It’s not cheap either, so despite the rising value of genuine CSLs, if your country was lucky enough to sell them – unlike in America – it may be best to just buy a real one.

    DATA FILE #BMW-M3-CSL / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-CSL-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #SMG / #BMW-M3-CSL-SMG -E46

    ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , OE #CSL air box, hoses, exhaust manifold and cats, #Eisenmann Section 2 and #Meisterschaft Ti exhaust system, #VAC Ultra Light 2 pulleys, Evolve Alpha N software, deleted sound deadening under the bonnet.

    TRANSMISSION: E46 M3 six-speed SMG auto with OEM CSL SMG software, Dinan 3.91 limited-slip diff.

    CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) OE E46 M3 CSL light alloy rims shod in 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, #Dinan front strut tower brace, #Powerflex polybushes, #TMS subframe reinforcement kit, #AC-Schnitzer rear anti-roll bar, Moton Club Sport dampers, front and rear #BBK .

    EXTERIOR: OEM BMW E46 M3 CSL carbon fibre roof, black roof rails, bootlid, rear diffuser, front bumper with splitters, side grills and micro filter housing. #BMW electric Euro mirrors, outer LEDs on brake lights enabled, IB painted bonnet washer grille, headlight shroud assembly and keyhole driver door delete, #3M front end and roof clear bra, E46 M3 CS paint.

    INTERIOR: OE E46 M3 CSL seats, centre console, handbrake gaiter, door trims, handles and door sills.


    ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32-TUNED OE E46 M3 CSL air intake, snorkel and flap, map sensor, inlet camshaft, rocker arms, exhaust valves and head gasket, head blueprinted and flow tested, #Supertech-Performance dual valve springs, #Rogue-Engineering power pulleys, Samco radiator hose kit, #Zionsville E46 M3 Competition cooling kit, Zionsville SPAL speed fan kit, Turner Motorsport Fluidyne oil cooler kit, Supersprint stepped exhaust manifold with stepped metallic 100 cell cat system and resonated X-pipe, Eisenmann Racing exhaust, Ignition Solutions plasma coils, OE E46 M3 CSL software – #DME flash for base setup and #Evolve ECU tune #Alpha-N Stage 3.

    TRANSMISSION: E46 M3 six-speed SMG auto with OE CSL SMG software flash, UUC red transmission bushings, Turner Motorsport 3.91 differential, #Turner-Motorsport E46 rear subframe reinforcement.

    CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) OE E46 M3 CSL light alloy rims shod in 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, Turner Motorsport 10mm front wheel spacer kit, #StopTech big brake kit with 355mm discs and painted yellow four-piston calipers all-round, stainless steel brake lines, TC Kline Racing True Match adjustable coilover system (500 front, 600 rear), TC Kline Racing camber/caster plates, #Eibach front and rear anti-roll bars, Ground Control rear lower control arms, CSL / ZCP 14.5:1 steering rack.

    EXTERIOR: OE E46 M3 CSL front bumper, front lights and side grills, CSL wing grill emblems, OE E46 M3 CSL carbon fibre outer panel roof, bootlid and carbon fibre rear diffuser, LED rear light upgrade.

    INTERIOR: OE E46 M3 CSL centre console, handbrake gaiter, door trims, handles and door sills, #Recaro Profi XL bucket seats, rear seat delete based on E46 M3 CSL concept model, CSL #SMG black aluminium paddles, hard wired Valentine V1 radar detector.

    Andrei has removed the sound deadening from his engine bay and added #VAC-Ultra-Light-2 pulleys plus a #Dinan strut brace and Moton Club Sport dampers.
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    Colour plays a big part when it comes to any car, and this perfectly modified E46 M3 is resplendent in Atlantis blue.

    Striking in Atlantis blue, this E46 M3 delivers as complete a package as you could ever want. Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: Sunny Ryait

    Cast your mind back to cars of the ’70s (or pictures of them if, like me, you weren’t alive back then). While there did seem to be a lot of gold and brown going on, there was also a lot of colour and it seemed that both people and manufacturers were much braver when it came to the hue of their motors. And we don’t mean wild colours for wild cars, like the American muscle cars of the time; we’re talking about things like Inca orange on 02s and Taiga green on E12s. Okay, the Valencia orange 1 Series is most definitely a thing (I drive one myself) but can you imagine a green F10? It is, therefore, rather refreshing to discover cars that aren’t shy about standing out and owners that aren’t shy about owning them.

    And that leads us nicely to Nadeem Ahmed and his E46 M3. It’s Atlantis blue, we all know it’s Atlantis blue but really it’s turquoise. Tell someone you drive a turquoise car and you’ll probably meet with a reaction of raised eyebrows and a polite but slightly hesitant and questioning ‘Oh…?’ Tell a BMW enthusiast that you’ve got an Atlantis M3 and you’ll probably get a nod of the head, a lightly pursed lip of approval and a ‘Yeah, nice.’ In fact, you might be looking at Nadeem’s E46 M3 and thinking exactly that because it is very nice. And that Atlantis blue exterior is wrapped around an equally nice interior. It’s always a bit disappointing to peer into a sexy car and be greeted by a vast expanse of black leather. Fine if you like that sort of thing but it’s a bit, well, dour. But Nadeem’s E46 M3 is rocking an interior bursting with creamy goodness and it offers the perfect calming antidote to the striking exterior.

    Considering this car represents one quarter of his current BMW crop, he’s poured as much love into it as you might expect someone running one as a solo project to do. Nadeem bought his first #BMW , a ’98 318i, from a rude dealer to prove a point but despite the unfortunate circumstances, the BMW ticked all the boxes it needed to and a string of Bavarian metal followed, including this one, which was an impulse buy. As far as impulse buys go, that’s pretty impressive. “I’d always said that if I ever found a manual Atlantis blue #BMW-E46 M3 with a Champagne interior, I would buy it,” he explains. “One day I was just going through Auto Trader for no particular reason and I found it! It was only described as blue and from the pictures I was guessing it was Atlantis and that was enough for me to start a three-hour road trip which resulted in me sealing the deal!”

    Colour aside, the car wasn’t in great shape. It had resided in a village in the middle of nowhere and clearly hadn’t been looked after but the engine was sound, a big bonus and even the tiny crack in the rear subframe that was discovered during a pre purchase inspection that Nadeem insisted on wasn’t enough to put him off. “It was such a rare car with all factory options (including a rear electric sunblind) that I decided to buy the car and hoped I would get a good will repair from BMW for the subframe… which I did eventually!”

    Car purchased, he embarked on an impressively comprehensive tuning programme covering pretty much every aspect of the M3. Nadeem began with some styling modifications, fitting OEM LED rear lights, smoked front #Depo indicators and new #Bosch headlight lenses himself. Next on the list was a Meisterschaft exhaust with DTM tips and a set of BMW Performance sixpot front calipers mated to #BMW-M3-CSL discs and braided brake lines, with a set of Brembo four-pot rear calipers added later on and sprayed yellow to match the fronts. He’s had the side repeaters removed and replaced with LED indicator strips and added illuminated #BMW-M3 badges on the side vents. On the suspension front you’ll find a set of PSS9 coilovers, refurbished by Bilstein prior to being fitted, which offer plenty of adjustment for both damping and ride height.

    And the M3’s ample arches were filled with a set of rather rare rims. “I have always favoured AC Schnitzer alloys,” he explains, “but I chose the #Racing-Dynamics alloys this time because of their rarity. As I had an individual #BMW-M3-E46 in a rare colour, I also wanted it to have alloys which you would hardly see on any other car, and the staggered setup with really deep rear dishes was perfect. I purchased them from the wheel man himself, Raj of Fullhouse Customs; however, when Dips from Custom Cars was refurbing them prior to giving them to me, he found out that one alloy had a buckle in it. Raj offered me a full refund but I decided to keep them as I would never find another set (I’ve still not seen another set!). I had the wheel professionally repaired by a company in High Wycombe and I’m absolutely over the moon with them.”

    Indeed, the 19” Racing Dynamics RD2s are very rare on pretty much anything and trying to find a set is a venture that requires time, patience and money. The RD2s look great on the E46 M3, with lots more dish than you might expect from a single-piece wheel and the Dolphin grey centres are a nice touch.

    The wheels measure 9” wide up front and a beefy 11” at the rear but the E46 M3 arches were capacious enough to see Nadeem chuck a set of 15mm spacers up front and 12mm ones at the rear to bring them out and give the car a nice aggressive stance.

    We’ve already touched on the interior, so let’s go back and touch it some more. The Champagne leather was already there, and Nadeem has spiced things up with the addition of a pair of extremely sexy #Recaro-Sportster-CS seats, which add a real sense of drama to proceedings. The standard M3 seats are really good, no question about it, but you can always go one better and if you can throw in something that’s going to get some attention, then why not? “The interior was easy,” he says. “I had decided on OEM CSL seats but they are hard to come by, so I found a set of Recaro Sportster CS seats from a Lotus dealer who was closing down and had some Lotus Evora bits to offload! So I ordered up some Macht Schnell side mounts and got the seats trimmed to match the Champagne interior. I love them!” In addition to the seats there’s a full LED lighting conversion, an Intravee and Alpine system for iPod compatibility and a Storm Motorwerks titanium gear knob and matching sat nav buttons.

    After the initial flurry of mods, Nadeem handed the car over to Dips at Custom Cars to take things up a notch. The car received a full same-colour respray to get it looking fresh as the Dickens, though there were some problems, as Nadeem explains: “Dips told me that my car had every shade of Atlantis blue on the panels and we had to decide which shade to respray the car in. He eventually discovered that the Bluetooth shark fin on the roof was the only bit with the original shade and that was used to choose the respray colour shade!” A CSL bootlid was fitted with the lip blended in to expose a strip of carbon fibre. Hamann-style front foglight surrounds were also fitted and filled in for a CSL/Vorsteiner look. A #BMW-M3-CSL-E46 carbon splitter was fitted and blended in, exposing just a sliver of carbon fibre as with the boot and was joined by a set of Vorsteiner carbon skirts as well as a CSL carbon diffuser and a set of H&R anti-roll bars to further sharpen the handling plus an AC Schnitzer short-shift with #UUC-DDSR . It’s taken Nadeem two years to get to this stage and while you might think that he’s happy with where the car is at, his long list of mods he wishes he could do and the ones he’s still planning on doing say otherwise.

    “I am planning on getting Dips to fit a Champagne extended leather dashboard which I already have, some three-piece 19” Racing Dynamics RS2s with copper dishes and copper bolts (deeper dishes are currently being custom-made in the USA for these), an Evolve carbon air box with the remap and a resonated Supersprint centre pipe… and then I think I might be done!” These plans will push what is already an eye-catching and impressively modified M3 to the next level and it sounds like it’s going to be a stunning machine.


    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 , #GruppeM induction kit, #Meisterschaft exhaust with DTM tips. Six-speed manual gearbox with #AC-Schnitzer short-shift and #UUC DSSR, #Driftworks lightweight flywheel.

    CHASSIS: 8x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) #Racing-Dynamics RD2 alloys with 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Continental tyres. #Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, #H&R antiroll bars (front and rear), #BMW-Performance six-pot front calipers with custom brackets, CSL discs, braided brake lines, Porsche Boxster four-pot #Brembo rear calipers with custom brackets, new discs, braided brake lines.

    EXTERIOR: Full respray, carbon fibre CSL bootlid with exposed carbon fibre lip blended in, CSL carbon fibre diffuser blended in, carbon fibre Vorsteiner side skirts blended in with #Phoenix yellow coloured mesh at the ends, front bumper fitted with Hamann-style foglight covers, full length CSL carbon fibre lip blended in, side repeaters deleted and replaced with LED strip indicators in side vents with custom-made illuminated M3 badges, OEM LED rear light conversion, smoke tinted windows all-round.

    INTERIOR: Front #Recaro Sportster CS seats, full LED lighting conversion, Intravee and #Alpine system, Storm Motorwerks titanium gear knob and sat nav buttons.

    THANKS: Dips at Custom Cars, Raj at Full House Customs, Kashif for all the help with the brakes, Dino and Richard aka Bikeracer for the custom caliper brackets, my wife for putting up with my modding madness and my son Yusuf for his enthusiasm and love of the M3.

    “I’d always said that if I ever found a manual Atlantis blue E46 M3 with a Champagne interior, I would buy it”
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    If you want big power, you can’t go wrong with a bit of Japan’s finest, as this 2JZ-powered E46 #BMW-M3-E46 demonstrates. It looks and feels like a beautifully set up E46 M3 but this Irish racer conceals a host of Oriental charms. Words: Iain Curry / Photos: Paddy McGrath

    “I know every nut and bolt on this car,” said Colm Murray from Cork in Ireland. Now how many of us can honestly say that about the modified cars we own? A few, certainly, but those who build or rebuild modern cars with all their electric complexities are a rare breed today. Trouble is, we’re not quite sure if he’s a BMW modifier or not…

    On the outside, of course he is. Pictured is his #2003 E46 M3. Great stance, nice rims with big brakes and a roll-cage spied through the glass. Underneath, it’s all a bit less German. In fact, it’s practically all Japanese – cue grumbles from the ‘foreign invader’ brigade – but here lies Colm’s expertise and the result is around 600hp and a drift machine of engineering quality rarely seen.

    Key to this build was the Irish VW mechanic doing all the work himself. “It was not a big budget build and, like a lot of the guys who drift here in Ireland, I built and maintain the car myself,” the 32-year-old said. “Drifting is a rough and tumble sport and if I couldn’t fix and maintain the car myself I simply couldn’t afford it. I like to try and use parts that are relatively cheap and available to me, this is why I used the 2JZ engine as it was familiar to me and I knew there are big horsepower gains to be had for small money.”

    Yep, it’s our old friend the 3.0-litre 2JZ Toyota Supra lump that we see cropping up in many BMWs. And whether you agree with a Japanese heart for your BMW or not, it’s a brilliant engine, highly tuneable and extremely tough, allowing for the sort of power gains that can cost frightening sums if you start boosting your Munich motors.

    Would it not have been easier for Colm to just go to work on a Supra or a Skyline, some will be asking? Thing is, Colm’s a true BMW fan, has history with the marque and likes the fact he’s got something different. “I loved the look of an E46 M3, and my goal was to keep it looking stock,” he said. In his younger days he had plenty of E30 BMWs, from 318s to a 325i Sport – an ideal training tool for any budding drifter. “My 325i Sport was the first car I drifted in but the scene got a bit more serious in Ireland so I bought my first Nissan Silvia which is where I learned all my suspension knowledge and fabrication skills,” he said.

    “I was building and drifting numerous Nissans for about ten years so I knew what worked and what parts were reliable.” During this time Colm sampled an E46 M3 and said he liked the feel of it and that if it had more power and less weight it’d be an interesting thing to drive and drift. “I heard about a guy in Dublin racing an E46 M3 and that he had a spare bodyshell,” he explained. “After many phone calls I purchased it, but it wasn’t rolling and was completely stripped. I mean it was just bare metal.”

    Already with a 2JZ Supra engine and transmission in his garage the measuring began. “The install was actually very easy,” he said. “I think I had it fitted in about two hours after making up two engine mounts and a gearbox mount. I didn’t have to modify any part of the bodyshell to fit it.” But before you start thinking these 2JZ engine swaps are fine for everyone, even with Colm’s expertise to get the car as it is today has taken the best part of two years. Only able to work on it during evenings or weekends, and when funds allowed, it has been a real labour of love.

    The all-important suspension followed the engine transplant. “Of course I stuck to what I knew, which was Nissan parts, so I set about mixing bits of #BMW and Nissan parts together and somehow it all works,” Colm explained with a laugh.

    Nissan Silvia suspension has been used up front, including modified coilovers, while out back Nissan 180SX rear coilovers feature with custom top mounts. Rims are Japanese tuning scene Rota Grids in 10x18” dimensions, shod in track rubber. Key to fitting these rims has been converting the E46’s hubs to the full brake and hub assemblies from an R33 Skyline GTR, allowing for a far greater range of relevant wheels. It also means Nissan Skyline brakes are used, featuring four-pot and two-pot calipers behind the rims.

    The underbody work was necessarily substantial, not least to allow fitment of a Nissan R33 Skyline GTR V-Spec differential and driveshafts: ideal hardware to endure the forces at work from top level drift competitions. The Toyota Supra’s six-speed Getrag gearbox also made the leap into the M3’s shell during the build, while an Exedy twin-plate clutch has been fitted for durability. Despite Colm’s M3 being a pure track car without road registration, it could easily pass as a street car with its near-standard looks. A carbon bonnet and bootlid came up for sale from a friend so they were added, and although previously it was wrapped in camouflage style, the Irish drifter is happier with its more stock look of today.

    The stripped cabin gives far more racing hints away. Colm custom-made and fitted the roll-cage himself (“what a pain in the ass that was!”), while a pair of BiMarco Grip race seats with Sparco harnesses hold driver and passenger in place, the pilot getting to grab the all-important hydraulic handbrake. The dash is a delight. It’s been stripped and flocked to prevent sun glare on the windscreen, while behind the gorgeous dished steering wheel is a Haltech Racepak digital display dash. “This was simple to fit because the Haltech is so easy to work with,” Colm said. “I couldn’t run the BMW clocks with the Toyota engine but with the Haltech it’s a dash which could just plug into the ECU.”

    Serious racing machine? Without question. Colm said the car is good for 600hp at present, and hopes to see 700hp with a little more work. Key is his choice of turbo. “I had seen the #Garrett-GTX turbos on other cars and the response and power they create is awesome; it was an easy choice,” Colm said. The work around it is substantial, too, with more custom fabrication needed for the exhaust manifold and full four-inch system, while helping things keep cool (no easy task in a drift car of this magnitude) are an alloy radiator, four-inch front-mount intercooler and 12- row oil cooler. High octane juice comes from the boot-mounted fuel cell using a pair of #Bosch 044 pumps and is fed into the engine via mighty 1000cc injectors.

    All this work has allowed Colm to compete in the #Irish-Drift-Championship , certainly the place a machine like this deserves to be seen, appreciated and enjoyed. It is something of a subtle masterpiece from the outside, hiding one of the most competent and complete Japanese builds underneath. It may not have much #BMW-DNA remaining but it is an incredible modified offering with that hard-to-beat E46 #BMW-M3 body. It’s an engineering marvel carried out by a very talented modifier.

    DATA FILE #BMW-E46 #Toyota-2JZ-GTE / #Toyota / #BMW-M3-CSL

    ENGINE: 3.0-litre straight-six #2JZ-GTE from #Toyota-Supra , #Garrett-GT35-GTX turbo / #Garrett , custom exhaust manifold, custom full four-inch exhaust system, #Tial wastegates, alloy radiator, four-inch front-mount intercooler, 12-row oil cooler, 1000cc fuel injectors, #GReddy intake plenum, custom 90mm throttle body, #Haltech ignition module, #Haltech-Pro2000 ECU.

    TRANSMISSION: Toyota six-speed #Getrag gearbox, Exedy twin-plate clutch, Nissan R33 Skyline GTR V-Spec R200 differential and driveshafts.

    CHASSIS: 10x18” (front and rear) #Rota-Grid alloys with 235/40 Toyo R1R track tyres (front) and 265/35 #Achilles-ATR Sport Drift tyres (rear), #Nissan-Silvia front suspension swap including modified Kei Office coilovers, hubs with custom top mounts and modified steering knuckles for more steering lock, custom lower control arms extended 40mm, Nissan 180SX rear coilovers with custom top mounts, rear subframe modified to take #Nissan differential and driveshafts, custom strengthening of rear subframe mounting points and tied into the rollcage, #Nissan-Skyline front and rear brakes with fourpiston and two-piston calipers respectively.

    EXTERIOR: #Vorsteiner-VRS -style carbon fibre vented bonnet, E46 #BMW-M3-CSL-E46 -style carbon fibre bootlid, rear diffuser.

    INTERIOR: #Haltech-Racepak dash, full custom T45 welded in roll-cage, original dash stripped and flocked, #BiMarco Grip racing seats, Sparco harnesses, hydraulic handbrake, 30-litre Jazz foam-filled fuel cell, twin #Bosch-044 fuel pumps with 2.0-litre swirl pot.

    Just the essentials in here with #BiMarco-Grip seats, #Sparco harnesses, a hydraulic handbrake and a #Haltech-Racepak dash.

    While it’s clearly not standard, exterior is surprisingly subtle for a drift car with #Vorsteiner VRS-style carbon bonnet, CSL-style carbon bootlid and rear diffuser.
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    The US never received the #E46 #BMW-M3-CSL-E46 , so if you want one, you’ve got to build it yourself. And then make it even better. In a market where the CSL was nothing but a dream, this US owner has built his own take on the ultimate all-out #BMW-M3 . Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Sam Dobbins.

    The M3 represents different things in its various generations, depending on the cultural mores that surrounded them at launch as well as the technological variations within. The E30 was all about purity, focus, race-bred aggression and a refusal to compromise. The E36 signalled evolution, reworking the DNA of its predecessor to create a furious and unbeatable racer-for-the-road that also spoke of BMW’s over-arching ethos of luxury and premium accoutrements. And the E46? Well, when that arrived, all bets were off.

    When the #BMW-M3-E46 roared on to the scene in 2000, it boasted an engine of such aweinspiring firepower, it provided the highest specific output of any mainstream BMW engine thus far. Throwing out 343hp from its 3.2-litre lump in a hellstorm of gravelgargling fury, it went like stink and had muscle in spades, adding a whole lot of pumped-up aggression to the standard coupé’s sober lines. But the real watershed was the advent of the Coupé Sport Leichtbau, or CSL, in 2003. It may have only appeared for a brief snippet in time, it may have been limited to just 1383 examples, it may have pushed the boundaries of what a road car could achieve just a little too far into the realm of discomfort for some, but there’s no arguing that it was an instant legend. It was the gold standard, the pinnacle toward which all other E46 M3s would surely thereafter tremulously aspire.

    Now, given the low production run, these things are pretty obscure. And given their desirability, finding one for sale is unlikely – particularly if you live in the USA as the entire CSL allocation went to Europe. But let’s not underestimate the power of the aftermarket and the ingenuity of the enthusiast. All of the aforementioned kudos relates to the factory CSL, with its unique sticky tyres and fibreboard boot floor. But it’s not beyond the wit of man to procure all of these parts – or, where appropriate, remove them – and build a functionally accurate CSL replica, right? Or even make something, dare we say, better? Most enthusiasts have little choice in the matter, being unable to find genuine CSLs. So yes, that’s exactly what happens…

    Although I’ve slightly sold you a dummy there. The M3 you’re looking at here was never meant to be an overt CSL replica. But with that ducktail and those lightweight BBS rims, it wears its influences on its sleeve. And of course, coming from a market where the CSL is little more than a phantom, the freedom exists to cherrypick, hone, refine, and build something that doesn’t spiral into cloning pastiche. What we’re looking at here then, in the pastel vibrancy of Laguna Seca blue, is the sort of M3 that one might build if one wanted to go a little further than a CSL.

    “I used to have an E30 M3, and it was all downhill from there!” laughs Chris Jacovini, owner of this bright blue brute. “Selling that car was the biggest mistake of my life…” So where do you go after owning one of the world’s most iconic homologation specials? Well, Chris isn’t one to tread the beaten track. “I got into VWs after that,” he recalls. “I got a Mk2 Cabrio and did that up, got some coverage in a few magazines. After that I bought a yellow Mk3 VR6 and all hell broke loose; I supercharged it, fitted a suede Recaro interior, full ABT body kit… of course, body kits ruled back then.” The pieces are beginning to fall into place in Chris’ modifying puzzle now – a diverse range of influences and experiences have coalesced to provide inspiration for the build of his E46.

    After so much wandering in the Wolfsburg wilderness, it was time to return to the warm, cosseting embrace of Bavaria. “The E46 M3 is my favourite M car after the E30,” says Chris, “and when I saw this car, I had to have it. I wasn’t even looking for an M3, but this one caught my eye and all the elements were perfect: the colour, the sunroof delete, the Xenons, the 19s. The paintwork was in great shape, I was shocked at how clean the engine bay was, there were no holes in the front bumper for the license plate… a couple of days later, the car was mine.”

    With such an enthusiastic history of fettling and honing cars to his own taste, it was inevitable that the modifying stick was brandished with full force in no time. “The direction for this car is totally different to my VW days,” Chris is keen to point out. “It’s all smooth, clean and simple – no lips or skirts, no crazy body kits, just additions that complement BMW’s own design. My buddy Dave Pastor at SLAWbuilt talked me into the CSL trunk, which was a good decision.” You can see from the photos that there’s a sweet line of exposed carbon fibre along the edge of the ducktail – a neat touch. “The diffuser, though, is a G-Power item rather than a CSL one. Everyone’s got a CSL diffuser!”

    Dave’s skills were drafted in for a spot of colour-coding of the diffuser and bootlid, while the backs of the sought-after Recaro A8 seats were coated in Diamond Schwartz, ensuring a consistent flow of that eyepopping Laguna Seca hue throughout the car alongside that classic, sinister black. And at this point, Chris rolled up his sleeves and got himself elbows-deep into the engine bay.

    “I wanted to keep it naturally aspirated,” he assures us, which is something you often find as a polarising issue with M enthusiasts: some wish to explore the outlandish badlands of horsepower that forced induction can invite you into, while others prefer to maintain the integrity of BMW’s naturally aspirated intentions, keeping the power delivery smooth and robust rather than peaky and spiky. “The S54’s got a set of Turner Motorsport power pulleys, as well as a little ECU tuning from VAC Motorsports and the full Eisenmann race exhaust,” says Chris. “Then I set about putting as much carbon fibre under the hood as I could find!

    The Delage air box was a must so that got fitted first, followed soon after by the Benfer carbon strut brace. Then there was the front air intake, the carbon valve cover, the pollen cover, the battery terminal cover, the engine cover…” Peering under the bonnet, you can see just how carried away Chris got, and that’s no bad thing; he’s even lined up the weave of the engine cover and the strut brace, while those machined brackets on the strut tops are little works of triangular art. “I fitted a set of Brembo brakes too,” says Chris. “The stock brakes are ugly! And they were really visible behind the BBS CHs.”

    We’re returning to the CSL aesthetic here – the stock CSL came with staggered M rims that were manufactured by BBS, and Chris’ CHs take that look to a darker, more menacing place – they have 14 spokes to the CSL’s 16, but a similar look which Chris has sharpened up by finishing them in satin black – all the better for showcasing those vast Brembo stoppers. “I’ve got a set of Kinesis F110s for the car too,” Chris mentions, “but the CH is just such a classic look for the E46. I much prefer them.” And tucking those rims into the muscular arches is a set of KW V2 coilovers. “Bags are for groceries,” he smirks.

    Now, if you thought his keenness for carbon fibre was obsessive, wait till you see what he’s been up to with the Alcantara. “It’s one of my favourite things,” Chris enthuses. “I built the interior around the Recaro A8s, and it’s all Alcantara, carbon fibre and leather. I got a dash from a buddy of mine, took the door panels off, and sent everything down to Kip Love at Love’s Trim Shop in Georgia. He covered everything in Alcantara, and did a beautiful job too!” The use of this glare-free material really infuses a sense of motorsport purpose to the interior, making it feel at once focused and serious, and luxuriously extravagant. That’s not an easy look to pull off! So you can see how Chris has crafted something unique here – a tribute to a halo model that’s transmuted into something far greater than the sum of its parts. His M3 pays homage to the iconic CSL with its prodigious use of lightweight carbon fibre trinkets, its ballsy BBS rims, beefier brakes, track-focused suspension and, of course, that cheeky lightweight ducktail. But make no mistake, this is no simple CSL replica.

    Rather, this is one man’s vision for the ultimate #E46 M3: he’s taken an already phenomenal car as a base and tweaked a bit here, lightened a touch there and thought laterally in order to tick every box for the consummate all-rounder: it’s light, fast, well-spec’d and impeccably finished. It wears its motorsport heritage proudly, something that Chris is keen to represent.

    In many ways, this car showcases the culmination of a lifetime of dabbling in a variety of automotive subcultures. “When the E46 M3 came out, I was hooked,” remembers Chris. “The aggressive look, the wide fender flares, the race heritage. I think the body is a classic.” By keeping that body pure, resplendent in OEM chic, and building his project around that undiluted base, he’s created something genuinely special. A CSL+, if you will.

    When the E46 M3 came out I think the body is a classic I was hooked!

    Interior is a riot of Alcantara, with virtually every surface covered in the material.

    Engine bay is dominated by stunning Delage carbon air box.

    DATA FILE #S54B32 #BMW

    ENGINE: 3.2-litre #S54 , #Turner-Motorsport power pulleys, #Eisenmann race exhaust, VAC Motorsports ECU tuning, Delage carbon fibre air box, #VAC-Motorsport sensor port oil filter lid, Benfer carbon fibre strut brace, carbon fibre pollen cover, carbon fibre battery terminal cover, carbon fibre engine cover.

    TRANSMISSION: BMW Motorsport 3.91 diff, AC Schnitzer short-shifter.

    CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) #BBS-CH wheels with 235/30 R19 (front) and 245/30 R19 (rear) Continental ContiSportContact tyres, Brembo four-pot calipers with 355mm (front) and 345mm (rear) drilled and slotted discs, KW Variant 2 coilover kit.

    EXTERIOR: Vorsteiner CSL carbon fibre bootlid, #G-Power diffuser, black grille, badges and kidneys.

    INTERIOR: #AC-Schnitzer pedals, handbrake and gear knob, Alcantara dash, Alcantara steering wheel with carbon fibre bottom, Alcantara gaiters, Alcantara door panels and armrests, carbon fibre centre console, carbon fibre sills, Recaro A8 seats trimmed in Alcantara and leather with rears painted Diamond Schwartz.
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    Manhart Racing has taken the already electrifying #BMW-M3-CSL-E46 to the next level, creating the ultimate hardcore thrill ride, with a V10 under the bonnet… For many the #BMW-E46 CSL is the ultimate #BMW-M3 , but can you better perfection? Manhart Racing seems to think so. Words and photos: Steve Hall.

    Best laid plans huh? On the advice of someone who’d used it a year or so prior, this photoshoot was supposed to take place in a disused quarry. Having checked it out on Google Maps it looked pretty cool and we all agreed it’d suit the tough-as-nails look and matt finish of this hardcore CSL.

    It’d be well worth the 90-minute round trip to bag a location that would give us a great looking shoot, and there’d be some fun driving along the way. I guess a lot can happen in a year, including said quarry becoming an active enterprise once again; with huge articulated Volvos streaming in and out of the gates every minute. It was blindingly obvious we weren’t going to get anywhere near the rock face… Cue plan B.

    We’re visiting Manhart Racing on the outskirts of Wuppertal in North Germany to test one of the more extreme engine conversions we’ve tried in the shape of the MH3 CSL V10 Clubsport, which – as the name would suggest – sees an E46 M3 CSL with the fabulous V10 from the #BMW-M5-E60 M5 squeezed under the bonnet, along with a phalanx of lightening and stiffening modifications to backup the Clubsport moniker.

    I’d noticed a tunnel on my drive down to visit the guys at Manhart Racing (MHR); conveniently just a couple of kilometres up the road. The nice wide stopping areas would give plenty opportunity to do some lighting setups and protect us if it rained (this being spring in Northern Germany after all). That’s Plan B sorted then. It’s also a highly appropriate spot to shoot this car because tunnels are absolutely one of the most fun places to drive it…

    When the CSL first hit the market back in 2004 it was lauded for its amazing sonic qualities – that tasty carbon air box piped a pure race car straight-six snarl into the cabin and it sounded awesome. The barely silenced S85 V10 in this CSL sports a similar race car setup with its beautifully finished carbon air box and generates a wonderfully exotic sound. The sport cats, free breathing exhaust and titanium rear silencer shifts the balance of sound to the rear.

    The net result is a CSL fizzing with aggression. It erupts like a banshee every time you give the throttle a proper push and fills absolutely every inch of the tunnel with sonic shockwaves which bounce back at you. It’s bloody hilarious, but only just about useable day-to-day.

    Of course, it’s not just the sound it makes that morphs the character of this CSL from supremely balanced sports GT to hardcore speed weapon – the V10 transplant has an all consuming effect on the way this CSL accelerates, thanks to 558hp propelling little over 1400kg (E60 M5 1900kgs/507hp).

    Hooked up to the donor M5’s seven-speed SMG ’box, plant the throttle and snatch the right paddle just before clipping the 8500rpm rev limiter in each gear and you’ll be treated to a level of accelerative intensity a regular CSL driver wouldn’t recognise. The S85 V10 still needs to be halfway round the rev counter before it really starts to fly but the high revving character suits this car perfectly. Thanks to modern engine technology it’s docile and tractable at low revs, just as it is in the M5, but in this application the top end fizz is magnified into an intoxicating lunge for the horizon that makes you laugh out loud. It’s major league fast, no matter which way you look at it.

    How fast? Without timing gear – or the small matter of a private test track – we resort to the journalist’s friend: stats. At around 406hp/ton the power-to-weight ratio tells you it sits in the same ballpark as a Ferrari 458 or Gallardo Superleggera, and whilst it doesn’t feel quite as rapid as those cars, I’d suggest it’s not far off. Predictably, the biggest enemy from a standing start is traction, or lack thereof. As the tyres struggle to gain purchase on the road surface the traction control light flickers in unison with the throttle opening. Disabling traction control helps a little as you can balance wheelspin against road speed but with a near 50/50 weight distribution, road biased tyres and a 1400kg kerb weight, the traffic light grand prix is never going to be this car’s forte. Hit third gear and it’ll take the lot, at which point you experience the full Millennium Falcon blurred scenery effect.

    It’s an effect experienced several times during our drive to the stillborn first photoshoot location, thanks to a mix of autobahn interspersed with twisting country roads. There may be nary a tunnel in sight, but every lunge for the horizon generates a huge grin and even a thumbs-up from a biker presumably surprised (and impressed) he didn’t reel us in over a half-mile stretch of autobahn. Curving country roads reveal the extra authority the MHR Clubsport coilover suspension package brings: this is one tough riding CSL. Roll is non existent, turn-in instantaneous and grip prodigious. Every body action is checked in the first damper movement and the whole car feels granite tough as a result. Rolling down the road at normal speed is borderline uncomfortable, but with increased velocity the uncompromising springs smooth out and find their natural frequency; unfortunately it’s a speed incompatible with normal traffic, such is the grip and control of the MH3. It’s a thrilling drive and one that needs quiet empty roads to explore, or even better a certain 14- mile stretch of race track 80 miles south of Wuppertal by the name of ‘Nürburgring’…

    You’d be forgiven for thinking this means the MH3 is a twitchy handful, but killing the electronic driver aids (after swallowing an XXL bravery pill) reveals a chassis just as beautifully balanced and controllable as a standard CSL, whilst the extra power makes it easier to indulge in sideways antics. The steering is standard CSL, so it’s quick and accurate without being nervous, but not exactly brimming with road feel. It’s probably the only fly in the ointment in an otherwise fantastically well-honed package; no wonder Manhart CEO Christoph Erfurt says it’s his favourite car for fun driving…

    The standard CSL stoppers were never really up to the task of track work with the 360bhp straight-six under the bonnet, so they were never going to contain the thrust of a snarling 558bhp V10. MHR’s solution was to fit a set of Porsche motorsport discs with AMG six-pot calipers up front; the result is a left pedal that inspires huge confidence thanks to massive, progressive and reliable stopping power. That they are well up to the task of containing the rapid acceleration tells you all you need to know.

    Much like the CSL, if the MH3 has a flaw it’s to be found in the way the prodigious power finds its way from engine to rear wheels. The M5’s seven-speed #SMG gearbox may have been state-of-the-art in 2005, but even then it was not the best of the breed. In a world of dual clutch finesse, the clunky low speed response and jerky shifts at anything other than maximum attack (when the pause in forward thrust is notably shorter) feels dated. If some genius could find a way of mating a current BMW dual clutch system to the V10, we’d have one hell of a drivetrain. Still, it works well when driven flat out with shift speed dialed to maximum attack – which is after all when this car is at its best…

    You’d be forgiven for assuming the V10 would upset the CSL’s delicate balance but in fact the V10’s lightweight construction means the engine only adds 50kg – and the added weight of the V10 is countered by the various weight reducing steps of Manhart Racing’s Clubsport package. Forged OZ Racing wheels replace the CSL items, bonnet and bootlid are now carbon, whilst the interior continues the carbon theme with doorcards, centre console and dash inserts in the material of choice. Finishing the look are the fixed back Alcantara race seats which hold you firmly in place and the aluminium bolt-in roll-cage – just in case you were in any doubt this is a track optimised car. Weight is slightly up on the CSL, but with only a small shift forward in weight distribution. The CSL is rightly held in high esteem by enthusiasts and the media alike; no ‘all time greatest M-car’ feature would be complete without one in attendance. Subjecting such an icon to a major makeover can be a precarious business, opening yourself up to criticism of ruining – rather than enhancing – the original.

    With the MH3 CSL V10 Clubsport, Manhart Racing has taken the CSL recipe, and added a healthy dose of spice to the mix: the CSL flavour remains, but it’s now an extra hot vindaloo to the CSL’s madras. For those who like a bit of extra spice in their cars, the Clubsport provides just the right kind of hit.

    Porsche motorsport discs with AMG six-pot calipers up front deliver serious stopping power.


    ENGINE: 5.0-litre V10 #S85 B50 from E60 M5, Manhart Racing ECU upgrade, Manhart Racing carbon airbox, Manhart Racing exhaust manifolds and titanium silencer, Hartge sport cats and downpipes.

    TRANSMISSION: Standard E60 M5 seven-speed SMG gearbox with Manhart Racing ECU update for faster high rev shifting.

    CHASSIS: 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) OZ Racing Ultraleggera wheels with 235/35 19 (front) and 285/30 19 (rear) Toyo Proxes T1 Sport tyres, 380mm (front) discs from Porsche MotorSport with AMG six-pot calipers, standard CSL 345mm discs (rear), Manhart Racing by KW Competition Motorsports adjustable coilovers and roll bars, lowered 55mm (front) and 40mm (rear).

    EXTERIOR: Manhart Racing reprofiled front bumper, carbon bootlid and carbon CSL diffuser, Hartge carbon hood.

    INTERIOR: Porsche 996 GT3 Racing seats, full CSL carbon trim, Manhart Racing lap display in air vent, Manhart Racing dials with 360km/h speedo, Wiechers roll-cage.

    CONTACT: Manhart Racing www. manhart-racing. de

    The extra power makes it in sideways antics easier to indulge. Hit third gear and you blurred scenery effect experience the full Millennium Falcon.
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