- Post is under moderationCAR: #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E46
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 156
TOTAL MILEAGE: 87,276
MPG THIS MONTH: 26.9
TOTAL COST: £167 (tyres & locking nuts)
Clubsport? Lightweight? Race car? Well, not quite; but sitting inside, the M3 does have the look of a car midprep for an attack on a Nürburgring laptime. A couple of delays mean the M3’s interior is still missing a fair proportion of its trim, but the guys at Perfect Coating (www.facebook.com/ perfectcoating) will have that sorted by the next update, so I’m looking forward to photographing the interior in its shiny new glory in time for next month. Talking of next month, with good weather on the cards and some events in the calendar I’m planning to take the M3 to Wales with some mates, and if things work out just-so, a sojourn to the Nürburgring too. Throw in another visit to Bruntingthorpe for VMAX and I’ll have a chance to put some good quality bonding miles on the M3. Truth is, I’ve not used it as much as I’d like of late which may be good for the mileage (a relatively low 87k considering the 2002 year of registration) but this is not a car to be afraid of using – you only need to look at the amount of M3s deep into six figure mileages to know that if well looked after, there is nothing to fear. With the service indicator telling me I have 800 miles left before the next service, she’ll be well looked after very soon, most likely by Highams Park Motor Company in East London.
It’s the perfect time for some routine maintenance, meaning I can look forward to summer fun with her! That’s not say I’ve not had fun in the dark months, and now I’ve had a chance to put some proper miles on the M3 with the 18-inch wheels I’ve really grown to love them. Unsurprisingly, after last month’s sideways fun the rear tyres were looking rather sorry for themselves. Lucky for me, my local tyre shop happened to have a pair of very lightly used correctly sized Pirelli P Zeros in stock; an absolute bargain for £150, and I had some new locking wheel nuts fitted at the same time. The old lockers were looking pretty sorry for themselves, and I had visions of being stranded with a flat, unable to change wheels due to a rounded off key. It’s a small thing, but it gives peace of mind. As I reported last month, initial impressions on the smaller wheels were a marginal trade off in ultimate grip in return for better ride quality and even more benign, playful handling characteristics when pushing on.
With the new Pirellis, a good run on some of my favourite local B roads cemented that impression. I’ve never been one for chasing ultimate grip anyway – I’m not setting lap times – so I’d rather have a car which has grip levels well matched to the power output, with really enjoyable handling which can be exploited at sensible speeds. On the 18-inch wheels, the M3 delivers this by the bucket load. I’ve grown to love the look on the dark grey smaller wheels too; the polished 19-inch wheels always looking a bit bling for my taste.
Despite sharing space with cars worth 50+ times what I paid for the M3, it still managed to turn heads and secure a prime spot at a local breakfast club meet. If you’re an Essex dweller, I’d heartily recommend a trip down to The Hare near Roxwell the first Saturday of most summer months (check its calendar to be sure). Get there early enough and there’s even free coffee. But more importantly an excellent mix of old, new, and sometimes hugely rare and valuable cars to have a look at… and a 15 year old M3 with half the interior missing. It was my morning jaunt to the last meet that gave me the chance to enjoy my favourite local roads, and driving back I was feeling pretty pleased with life. I think it’s fair to say my love affair with the M3 is going pretty strong…Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ BMW / THOMAS’ E46 M3 / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3 /
This month has seen various areas of the ’46 progress well, with the rear subframe undergoing a complete overhaul, new brake lines being fitted, the cylinder head rebuild starting, and the crankshaft receiving a full re-grind and balance. Starting with the subframe, I was initially thinking of powder coating the whole lot, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to find something with a little bit more longevity to it. Although powder coat is reasonable hardy, I find it hard to believe it would really stand the test of time without flaking and/or peeling off. So instead I purchased some two-part epoxy mastic from Bilt Hamber – essentially it’s super glue that’s coloured black. With Zinc-phosphate embedded within the resin, once set it provides a supertough, corrosion-resistant surface that should help preserve and protect the subframe.
The subframe was taken back to bare metal and a liberal amount of epoxy applied. Whilst the underside of the car was all apart, I discovered the hard lines for the brakes were close to corroding through, so replacements here were also produced. Once again, I wanted to make sure that whatever went back in the car would last, so Cunifer pipework was used. A copper-nickel alloy, Cunifer is significantly more resilient than steel or copper alone with the trade-off being a relative lack of flexibility – although this didn’t prove to be a problem in the slightest.
By comparison, rebuilding the cylinder head has so far been a breeze. Valves, springs and retainers were the first items to be re-installed. With all the valves numbered on removal it was a case of fitting them in the correct port and giving them a quick lap. Lapping is done by applying a small amount of paste to the seat of the valve, then rubbing it back and forth on the valve seat for a few minutes. This process grinds a small layer of material off the mating faces, helping them to create a better seal with each other. Once the lapping process has been completed, it’s important to check both faces seat around the full perimeter. This was done using engineer’s blue, which was applied to the valve, then the valve was seated (with a fair bit of force) into the head. Once seated, remove the valve and check for an even coverage of blue on the cylinder head valve seat. All valves passed so it was onto the next step. This involved fitting new rockers and rocker shafts, with the former of the DLC (Diamond-like coated) variety. With the engine receiving a set of race-y cams (full specification to be revealed later), it seemed sensible to upgrade to the more slippery, harder-wearing DLC rockers.
And so onto the crank, where a fair amount of head scratching and research has been involved this month. First and foremost, I need to thank Daren of Crosthwaite & Gardiner for doing a superb job of regrinding my crank. It turns out the crank was in a bit more of a state than it first appeared, yet after a few tense hours of careful measuring and grinding, it’s ready to spin in anger. Regrinding the crank was incredibly eyeopening for me. There’s a lot of discussion online about how marginal the big ends are on S54s, with numerous people (including myself) removing shells after ~100k miles and finding they’re in a terrible state. I knew I was in for a regrind on the big ends, but what became apparent was that the mains weren’t too great either.
Despite the main journals looking fine, and measuring up OK at first glance, the crank was bowing considerably (0.125mm eccentricity was measured between the mains). After a bit of straightening and a light polish, the mains were running true again, although it became evident they weren’t so healthy, with noticeable scoring to the journal surfaces showing. How deep the damage went was very surprising – it was only when 0.2mm had been removed from the journals (of the 0.25 total) that all the scoring was removed. It was a similar story too with the big ends, with all of them requiring considerable material removal before cleaning up. On the big ends it was always the top and bottom side of the journal that showed the most damage, evidently from the combustion stroke and rod/piston inertia during the exhaust stroke.
Considering the state of the crank, I decided it was worth doing a bit of research into the shell/big end issues on the S54 to see if a solution could be found. Reading back through information online, it was news to me that these engines originally shipped on a 5W30 oil, before numerous big end failures forced BMW to switch to a 10W60 Castrol (as used now). Unfortunately this appeared to make matters worse, and it was soon after that BMW increased the clearances in the big end shells (forcing a recall of many M3s). Looking at how tight the shell/crank tolerance is for the S54, to me there’s no doubt these engines were designed around the 5W30, with the change to 10W60 a knee-jerk reaction to try and solve the big end issues.
It was from here that I started speaking to Driven, manufacturers of Joe Gibbs Racing Oils. Its range of oils are developed from research undertaken when trying to push the limits of highly-strung Nascar engines. These struggle to cope with incredibly high stresses on the camtrain, leading to premature wear and power loss. The Driven oils, therefore, focus heavily on reducing engine wear, as well as friction reduction for a competitive advantage. Upon discussing the S54 issues with the development team in the US, the first thing that became abundantly clear is that oil changes every ~15,000 miles in a performance engine is simply not OK. Like all products, oil has a lifespan, and when it’s being pushed hard in what’s essentially a road-going race engine, expecting it to last so long is very wishful thinking. To create oils that operate over a wide viscosity range, modifiers have to be added to the formula, and over time these break down, reducing the oils’ performance. To try and make an oil last 15,000 miles, its chemistry must also be heavily biased with detergents, leaving less room for anti-wear components.
On top of this, levels of #ZDDP ( #Zinc-dialkyldithiophosphate ) in oil have been reduced considerably. This is an important anti-wear compound, but due to its slightly negative effects on catalytic converter performance, governments are restricting its use in commercial/OEM engine oils. Driven has worked incredibly hard to reduce wear, with all its oils having considerably higher levels of ZDDP. Driven even has extensive dyno results to back up its claims. I’ll be looking to run the DT40 5W40 from the Driven range; with regular oil changes (every 6000 miles or so) this should keep the motor running sweetly and ensure the crank doesn’t lose any more precious material from its journals. Regular oil changes can’t be recommended highly enough for M car owners…Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLongtermers #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #2002
Plenty of action for the M3, Ben gets his German race licence, Elizabeth almost says goodbye to the 1 Series while the repaired E90 318i has more dramas
After a couple of quiet winter months the M3 must be wondering what’s hit it! New wheels, interior in pieces… it’s even been on track alongside a couple of fun jaunts on local roads. Let’s start with the interior refresh. I’d been talking to the guys at Newbury based www.perfectcoating.co.uk for a few weeks about some options to revive the scuffed, scratched and scabby grey plastic interior trim in the M3. The interior of my car was in great shape overall when I purchased it – nice shiny seats with only mild bolster buffing, whilst the dash and remainder of the cabin trim was in excellent shape, perhaps even better than you’d expect of an 80k mile, 15-year-old M3. Letting it down though, were always the plastic inserts with their metallic grey finish. Given these adorn the door handles and electric window switch surrounds amongst others, they were in prime position to deteriorate from 15 years of contact with rings, nails and the natural oils from human skin.
So a jaunt over to Newbury was arranged, where the guys at www. perfectcoating. co. uk had the relevant parts out of the car in short order. The individual pieces looked even worse sitting on a bench under bright lights, the door handles predictably being the worst offenders. The parts are sanded down to remove the existing paint and prepared for the black basecoat.
Once this is applied, the clever part of the process happens, as the film is applied through hydro dipping (or water transfer printing as it’s known) to create a finish which looks almost identical to a carbon weave, with some golden colour showing through (we opted for this to better match my M3’s Phoenix yellow – many other finishes and colours are available).
Once this has cured (a very quick process), the parts are sent to the bodyshop for a high quality lacquer to give a deep, lustrous and hardwearing finish. Having seen some completed parts earmarked for a Mustang I was blown away by the quality and can’t wait for the finished items to be refitted – pictures and in-depth report on the process next month. The fact that the process is just as suitable for external parts is highly compelling: carbon spoiler and mirrors anyone? My return journey from Newbury made for an easy drop in to Aldershot to pick up the set of original 18- inch wheels I sourced through the popular M3cutters forum. I’d been interested to try these and experience for myself if the ride and handling were tangibly different on the smaller rims and accompanying taller sidewall tyres. There is a marginal reduction in unsprung weight over the 19-inch polished alloys, shedding 1.4kg per front and 1.1kg from each rear wheel; of course this is mitigated by the slightly heavier rubber due to the taller sidewalls. In reality, it’s the latter which seems to make the biggest difference to the driving dynamics in the handful of miles I’ve been able to try them so far.
Tyre footprint remains the same, with 225/45/18 up front and 255/40/18 at the rear as opposed to 225/40/19 and 255/35/19, but the taller sidewall has reduced initial bump harshness, whilst there is a trade off to steering sharpness when turning in. Perhaps due to less tyre deformation, it feels like the 19s have slightly more ultimate lateral grip, but we are talking fi ne margins here which would take an accelerometer to confirm. On the road, the 18-inch setup does feel like it works better, providing the M3 with an added degree of suppleness to deal with our imperfect roads. At the same time, the chassis feels a little bit less edgy on the limit, proving extremely friendly with the DSC turned off ; a feeling I was able to confirm on track recently where some pretty extreme corner entry styles had the M3 virtually on the lockstops in third, but feeling utterly benign and predictable in extremis, as well as sensational fun. Of course, much the same can be said of the wonderfully balanced E46 M3 chassis no matter which wheels you’re running, but there was a tangible and enjoyable difference to note. That the 255/40/18 rubber is significantly less expensive than 255/35/19 is a pleasing side benefit….
This has freed up the 19s for a refurb too. They are thankfully free of kerb rash, but the lacquer is looking a bit second hand in places. If you have any recommendations of a place to have these cost effectively refreshed in Essex or London please feel free to message me.
BMW E46 M3
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 622
TOTAL MILEAGE: 87,120
MPG THIS MONTH: 28.8
TOTAL COST: £350 (wheels)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationThomas Koflach’s #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 /
This project came about through a fair amount of luck on my part. An E46 M3 had been on the radar for a few months – the lure of the straightsix was well and truly calling and having been out in my brother Ben’s #S54 Touring on numerous track days I knew just how good the engines were. The difficult part was, I wasn’t quite sure exactly what I wanted or what would fit the available budget.
It was therefore fortuitous when Ben mentioned that a friend’s E46 had just thrown a rod in spectacular style, punching no less than three enormous holes in the block. The rolling shell was semi-broken for parts before being moved on as a whole. Aside from both front wings missing, the only real omissions were the engine, differential, wheels and exhaust system.
So that’s where this project starts really: a rolling E46 M3 in need of a new engine. Having successfully purchased the shell, attention turned to finding a donor engine. From the outset I’d decided that I wouldn’t simply bolt in a replacement; whatever went in there would have to be a little special. A donor engine was quickly sourced, albeit one with a cracked piston, and a full strip down commenced. Further damage was found upon stripping the engine down, with scoring to the cylinder walls and a number of big end shells showing alarming levels of wear. The big end below the cracked piston was the worst, with a bit of damage showing on the crank. Problems already, but none that can’t be overcome!
With the engine fully stripped-down anything that was remotely suspect was binned, whilst anything that looked usable received a thorough inspection. Whilst the oil pump was apart the engine received its first upgrade: a #VAC-Motorsport upgrade kit supplied by #Hack-Engineering . With a redesigned shaft, sprocket and fastening mechanism, the upgrade kit safeguards the oil pump from the two main failure mechanisms: the shaft shearing or the nut loosening off in operation. With a lot of time and effort going into the engine, oil pump failure certainly wouldn’t go down well and would almost certainly damage the engine beyond repair. The money spent here safeguarding the rest of the engine is money well spent in my book!
Over the next few months the engine will be built back up, with careful component selection and detailed analysis taking place to ensure everything runs perfectly. Having spent most of my career working as a design engineer for a race engine manufacturer I’m hoping to share a little bit of engineering insight as I work through the project, including designing my own set of custom cams.
/ #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E46Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationPANDEMMONIUM
Sam Huggins is a clear thinker. He wanted an E46 M3 with the UK’s first Rocket Bunny Pandem kit, he wanted it to be the only one on Squared wheels, and he made it so. It’s a hell of a way to cause a ruckus. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Matt Woods.
Rocket Bunny E46 M3
Overthinking. It’s the modern curse. We have too much information available to us these days, we’re being constantly bombarded with reams of impenetrable data from all corners of the globe (not that globes have corners…), and we’re essentially spoiled for choice. We’ve reached saturation point; we don’t have time to absorb a new idea before a fresh one elbows it out of the way and starts jumping up and down yelling ‘look at me, look at me!’, and is then immediately bumped for something else. Previous generations never had to worry about this. In a world before smartphones, the internet, and all the other modern buzzwords that your grandpa still enunciates as if they’re spelled in all-caps, information arrived via word-of-mouth and the ten o’clock news.
Everything today is just too fast-paced. Okay, we know what you’re thinking: we sound like relics from a bygone age. Get with the programme, fogeys. But thankfully we’re not alone in this quasi-despair at the pace of digital evolution. Sam Huggins is on board with this antiquated way of thinking. For while his E46 M3 may feature bang-on-trend additions, he hasn’t overthought it. It exists merely as a snapshot of what he wants it to be, no more, no less.
Unpretentious, uncomplicated, and honest. “I’ve been a fan of #BMW s for about ten years,” he says. “I think they’re superior to other makes in that you can squeeze more fun out of them; in that sense they represent very good value for money.” Well, he’s on to something there. And an early sighting of a Phoenix yellow E46 M3 in a showroom was enough to light the blue touch paper for Sam. “I fell in love with it, the colour was amazing,” he enthuses. “I’ve since had an E92 M3 as well, but I came back to the E46 for this project because I decided that I preferred it.” See, there’s no mucking about here. He’s laser-guided, like the Terminator. “My first car was a Corsa,” he goes on, “but my dad wouldn’t let me modify cars at all. It was when he passed away that I started modifying, about five years ago.”
This isn’t a mercenary act of rebellion, merely a statement of fact. You’ve probably gathered by now that Sam’s a goal-oriented guy; he identifies what he wants, then he makes it happen. So it is with this M3.
“I found the car on Pistonheads,” he explains. “It was totally stock, and in mint condition, and I basically bought it because I wanted to learn to drift.” Such incendiary words are bound to reduce vast swathes of dyed-in-the-wool purists to quivering heaps of apoplectic grumbling, but he didn’t build this car for them – he was working to a checklist in his head, and the first thing on the list was the wheels.
“At the time, these were the wheels to have,” he grins. “With hindsight perhaps it would have been nice to have some custom Rotiforms built so I wouldn’t have to run spacers, but…” [he ponders reality for a moment, then the light bulb above his head re-illuminates] “…no, these are definitely the right wheels for the car. I can say that I’m the only one running on #Squared SD2s.”
They’re pretty mighty too. Forged threepiece splits with an acre of dish on the rears, artfully colour-contrasted to highlight how the inky black spokes seemingly plunge into a gigantic bowl of custard against the menacing black of the wide-hipped body. Naturally you can’t just bolt a set of 11”- wide wheels on the back of your E46 and expect everything to be sunshine and roses.
The arches won’t thank you for it. So Sam had a decision to make – how does one broaden such a car to accommodate this new-found girth? The obvious answer, it seemed to him, was to make his own body kit: “I made it and fitted it myself,” he says, “although it started cracking before too long, so I decided to do things properly and go for a Rocket Bunny Pandem kit instead. And that’s pretty sick, as it’s the only one in the UK.”
Sam was working on the car when he could over evenings and weekends, so it took around a year before the E46 rolled out on its new rims along with the exotically bulky new bodystyle, but the finished product really speaks for itself. Indeed, the choice of gloss black is a deliberately un-boisterous choice, in deference to the ostentatiousness of a lot of other Rocket Bunny cars, that makes the #M3 almost subtle. Almost, but not quite. It’s very wide and has yellow wheels, let’s not go nuts. And you’ve probably spotted the ducktail spoiler and the roof-mounted vortex generators from a Mitsubishi Evo too – this thing gets less and less subtle the more you pore over the details, it’s like a greyscale Magic Eye picture of a bullfight.
“The car was way too high for my liking, and I couldn’t afford air-ride, so I went for some budget coilovers,” he continues, ticking a further item from the mental checklist. But don’t let the word ‘budget’ fool you into thinking it’s not a considered, quality chassis: just take a peep through the wheels and you’ll spot a K-Sport big brake kit at either end, and the way Sam’s got those coilies wound before the lens gets it sitting just right here.
“I fitted a #K&N induction kit too; it only took about an hour, after I watched a tutorial on YouTube,” he says, again with a supremely focused air. “And I was thinking about doing a full race car interior, but to be honest I ran out of money at that point, so I just went with an extended shifter and a deep-dish steering wheel – all of the budget went on the exterior.” This is no hardship really, as it’s not as if the inside of an M3 is an unpleasant place to be, and that brutal exterior aesthetic really does deliver.
What we have here, then, is a nononsense car built to a specific brief with no messing about. It’s a very efficient kind of fun that fits neatly with the M3’s German roots, with just enough Japanese zaniness to pop it onto the scene’s radar and keep it there. “The Pandem kit is definitely my favourite part of the car,” says Sam. “Just look at it, it’s amazing! And being the only one in the UK, that just makes it cooler.”
He’s not wrong. And having worked methodically through his uncomplicated list of modifications, is Sam now ready to sit back and enjoy cruising around in his exotic new creation? “No, it’s for sale,” he deadpans, “I’m buying a VW Transporter.”
Aha. Okay, we wouldn’t expect him to mince words about the realities of this build. The lesson to take away is that this car was never about following the herd of listening to received wisdom – it exists solely in its own snapshot in time. And that’s a pretty rare thing these days.
“The Pandem kit is my favourite part of the car. Just look at it, it’s amazing!”
DATA FILE #Rocket-Bunny / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #Squared / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3-Coupe / #BMW-M3-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-M3-Rocket-Bunny / #BMW-M3-Rocket-Bunny-E46 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #K&N induction, six-speed manual with short-shift
CHASSIS 9x19” ET21 (front) and 11x19” ET20 (rear) #Squared-SD2 forged three-piece wheels with 235/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) tyres, coilovers, #K-Sport big brake kit (front and rear)
EXTERIOR Gloss black, Rocket Bunny Pandem wide-arch body kit, ducktail spoiler, Mitsubishi Evo roof-mounted vortex generators, fibreglass front wings
INTERIOR #OMP deep-dish steering wheel, extended gear shifter
“These are definitely the right wheels for the car. I’m the only one running on Squared SD2s”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.