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    FIRE LIGHT

    Shafique Bhimani’s E36 M3 has been on an extensive fitness programme, fusing the philosophy of BMW’s fi nest lightweights with properly capable road-and-track ability. This thing is fi t, legit, and fully lit… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.
    S54-swapped E36 M3 wide body bruiser

    The love child of a Euro-spec E46 M3 CSL and a #US-spec E36 M3 Lightweight. That was Shafique Bhimani’s over-arching vision for this Alpine white E36. Sound lofty? Ambitious? Unachievable? On paper, perhaps, but his clarity of perception has led to a unique creation that more than justifies the ‘CSL E36’ license plates.

    “I fell in love with the E36 M3 before I could even drive,” he enthuses. “It’s the car that took me into the deep end, and caused me to waste so much unproductive time learning about cars and modifying them! Something about the boxy, sharp lines that portrayed an aggressive yet elegant look - plus the fact that it punched above its weight and outperformed more powerful cars was hugely appealing. Once I learned of the E36’s DNA and how it came it to be from all of BMW’s motorsport history, I was hooked on the brand. BMW became my team, and you don’t just change teams.”

    Yes, we can fully understand that, and having got a bit of modifying practice in with a variety of other cars, Shafique felt that the time was right in 2009 to take the plunge and buy himself an E36 M3 of his very own. The example in the crosshairs had 54k on the clock and was in pristine condition… Oh, and it just so happened to have 380whp with a Vortech supercharger hanging off it. A quick once-over was all it took to get the grey cells banging together, and the lightweight concept was already forming in his mind – so shortly afterwards Shafique bought an ’07 335i as well, just to use as a daily driver so that there was no doubt as to the E36’s fate. This was going to be done properly, entirely without compromise and so, eyes open, he dove in.

    “For what these cars cost me, I could have easily purchased a heavily modified E46 M3, or even a new E92 M3 at that time,” he points out, “but I wanted to fulfil a dream I had held for so long. When time, money and opportunity presented themselves, all I wanted was a white, straight-six E36 M3.” Heart, we reckon, should always rule head. Life’s too short to let your dreams die.

    Shafique’s shopping list had been quite specific: the additional displacement of the 3.2-litre engine narrowed his search to ’96-’99 cars, and it had to be either Alpine white or Estoril blue – preferably the former, for the BMW Motorsport look. Forced induction was also preferable, whilst still being realistically streetable. This car, located in SoCal rather than his Bay Area hometown, ticked all the boxes. “It quickly became obvious, however, that I wouldn’t be able to exploit all that power on the street without risking either other people or my driving license, so I went on a track day at Sonoma Raceway and I was instantly hooked,” he recalls. “It was an eye-opening experience, and I realised the track was the safe, responsible playground for my car. I also quickly realised the car was not set up for track duty!” Coolant leaks and slipping belts convinced Shafique that his game needed tightening up, and he devoted time to wandering around the paddocks and seeing how the other gearheads approached things. And you know what he discovered? Big boost and stratospheric power levels were nobody’s main angle of attack – it was all about setup, usability, tactility, and durability. He felt very strongly that a naturally aspirated straight-six was the way to go. And what better choice than the E46 M3’s S54?

    With this seismic decision made, the E36 was shipped off to Castro Motorsport in Los Angeles to swap in the later motor, and subsequent setup was taken care of in painstaking increments by Dublin, CA-based Performance Technic. “We methodically upgraded each system of the car over the years, and today she is a fully-prepped track weapon that can be driven to and from the track with A/C and tunes blasting,” Shafique beams. “It’s my definition of an uncorrupted driving experience, front-engine/rear-drive, hydraulic steering, limited-slip diff, and a screaming straight-six.”

    So let’s take a closer look at just how this mighty spec has been achieved. This S54 produces a solid and reliable 341hp at the wheels, its stock internals being complemented by Epic Motorsport race headers and a custom Performance Technic 3.5” exhaust system, along with a Bimmerworld carbon-fibre air box. Thanks to some ones-and-zeroes tickling in the form of an RK-Tunes Alpha-N tune, power and reliability are both baked right in. It’s not scary-fast, it’s useably fast, and a lot of that swiftness is thanks to a favourable power-to- weight ratio. MCS two-way adjustable suspension and big StopTech brakes combine with a welded-in six-point half-cage with rear strut tower braces, while a rear seat delete, grippy Recaros and a tasty Renown USA steering wheel serve to create a fabulously focused office for Shafique.

    “My motto for the build has been to go fast, but look good doing it,” he says. “Function plus form. It was a team member from PTech who introduced me to the Felony Form overfender kit and, well… This is a sensitive subject for me: I love the OEM lines of a stock-body E36, they’re clean and simple, and more often than not aftermarket companies ruin what engineers spent millions to design. Over the years there have been a bunch of wide-body options, but I never loved any of them until I saw the Stanceworks feature on Oli’s yellow E36.

    After spending days staring at this kit, I was in love with the E30 M3-esque box flares in the rear, and the OEM-looking front flares. It’s exactly what I was waiting for, OEM on steroids! PTech handled the delicate task of cutting up and re-welding the factory arches to accommodate the flares and big wheels, and RJ’s Paint Shop in Pleasanton, CA did a fantastic job of paint-matching the factory Alpine White.”

    The form-and-function approach is very much in evidence from the outside, the Felony Form extensions blending in harmony with the M3 Lightweight aero addenda. The Lightweight, if you’re not familiar, was a limited-run E36 distinguishable by its tall rear spoiler, modified and lightened for motorsport purposes; the door skins were aluminium, there was no radio, carpets were thinner, speed limiter removed, revised axle ratios, forged wheels… It was as much of a legend Stateside as the iconic E46 M3 CSL was in Europe, and it’s the ethos of these two superlightweight factory-modded offerings that Shafique’s sought to emulate. This M3 now weighs 1440kg wet, and that includes the 40kg roll cage. This offers a power-to-weight ratio akin to a Lotus Elise, and remember that it still has a stereo and air con for the journey home.

    “The interior is a driver-centred style,” Shafique says. “‘Track setup’ was the priority, then adding what flair I could with the Alcantara steering wheel, armrest, and handbrake. There’s a #BMW Nav Pro head unit by Becker which offers the OEM navigation system only available in the Euro market, Bavsound speaker upgrade, and useful mods like a shift-light from MSD to help keep things in check; the car uses the factory E36 gauge cluster, the redline beginning at 6500rpm and going to 8000rpm, which has effectively become my power band - so having a light flash you in the face is very helpful during hot laps! And the CAE shifter from Hard Motorsport is epic – it transforms the shift feel to something very firm and notchy with zero slop, and the tall knob becomes especially fun on track when you are grabbing the wheel and gears back and forth.”

    It’s taken seven years for the car to get to this point, through its various stages of evolution, from schoolboy dream to hardcore track beast, and Shafique’s still making plenty of plans for it. Once you get this deep into a project, there’s just no pulling yourself out, even if you wanted to. Which, of course, he doesn’t, as he’s fully living the dream with this considered approach to road-and-track fireworks.

    With so much altered on the car, what do you suppose is his favourite element of the build so far, then? The S54 swap? Those wide three-piece Livery wheels? The unique arches, slathered in Alpine White? “No, I think the party piece is the induction roar,” Shafique smiles. “The S54 loves to rev, and combined with the carbon-fibre air box creates a deep roar that turns into a scream from 7-8k rpm, and no other engine on the planet sounds anything like it!” You see, this is a driver’s car. That’s the point of it. And when it enraptures all of the senses at once like this, you know the job’s been done right.

    DATA FILE #S54-swapped / #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-M3-Performance-Technic / #BMW-M3-Performance-Technic-E36 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-M3

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , stock internals, Bimmerworld carbonfibre air box, #Epic-Motorsports race exhaust manifolds, custom #Performance-Technic 3.5” exhaust system, #RK-Tunes #Alpha-N tune. #ZF five-speed manual gearbox rebuilt by #Bimmerworld , rebuilt OEM diff with 80% lock and 3.64 final drive, #Rogue finned diff cover

    POWER & TORQUE 341whp and 268lb ft wtq @ 8,200rpm redline (on 91RON fuel)

    EXTERIOR Alpine white, Felony Form wide-arch kit, M3 Lightweight front splitter, DTM #BMW-M3-FiberWerkz carbon fibre side skirt extensions, #Mateo-Motorsports rear diffuser, carbon fibre replica M3 Lightweight rear wing, roof vinyl-wrapped flat black, fog lamp delete

    INTERIOR #Recaro-SPG driver seat, Recaro PP passenger seat, Schroth sixpoint harnesses, Renown USA Alcantara and M-stitched steering wheel with quick-release, custom PTech rear seat delete, custom weld-in six-point half-cage painted flat black with subframe and strut tower reinforcements, sunroof cassette removed, custom black cloth headlining, MSD shift light, CAE shifter, RallyRoad.net Alcantara armrest and handbrake, custom PTech carbon-fibre shift plate

    THANKS Special thanks to Performance Technic, the team there has been so integral in bringing my build to where it is today
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    EXTREME #BMW E46 M3 #Supercharged wide-body monster

    ARCH NEMESIS / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46

    DTM FiberWerkz has been behind a couple of wild builds and this supercharged, wide-body E46 M3 is no exception.

    The latest build from DTM FiberWerkz takes the familiar form of the E46 M3 and exaggerates its muscles in all directions. It’s wide, it’s mean, it’s low… and it’s got enough go to back up the show. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Peter Wu.


    The E46 is very much the #BMW-3-Series of choice for 2016; we’re predicting a lot of interesting things on the scene for this generation in the coming months. This is due in large part to its chronological positioning, being neither too new to be affordable nor old enough to be ‘classic’. A lot of people view older cars as a gateway to financial ruin (not always fairly, but these mental hurdles are insurmountable for some), so the E46 sits in quite a happy middle ground – it’s new enough to be reliable and powerful in a modern sense, which makes it rather good value as a used buy, but it’s sufficiently inexpensive, comparatively speaking, for the average Joe to tear into in his garage, modifying with a clear conscience and little chance of an angry call from the bank manager. E46s are where the smart money is right now.

    With this in mind, the aftermarket has this model firmly in its crosshairs, and there are none more enthusiastic about showcasing the thing than Northridge, California’s DTM FiberWerkz. The company ethos is very closely aligned with BMW’s own approach to the development of the E46, which was to take the successful E36 as a base-point and make every element a little better; the bodyshell was 70% stiffer, the suspension was studded with aluminium components, the weight distribution remained as near as dammit to 50/50 in line with core principles.



    DTM FiberWerkz augments this approach by placing the driver even more squarely in the middle of the formula. ‘If there’s one thing more rewarding than exploring the potential of your BMW, it’s discovering your own’ is its motto. And as this latest line in E46 upgrades demonstrates, it’s giving the driver as much of a helping hand as possible.


    “The main reason for working on the E46 M3 body was that aerodynamic parts were lacking for it in the aftermarket,” explains company founder Ary Minassian. “We wanted to design a functional rivet-on flare kit for the M3, as the only other wide-body in production is the GTR which almost all true E46 race cars use, and we also manufacture. We aimed to design something that was the same width as the GTR kit but with more functional and easily installed parts compared to the complete wide-body conversion. These flares would only require paint and external fitting, the four flares giving the same width as the GTR.”

    This makes a lot of sense for race cars as it means parts can more easily be swapped out and replaced when damage occurs, but it’s also a smart move for street applications, providing a comparative ease of fitment that circumvents the apprehension that some owners may have about extensive body mods. Oh, and you can’t discount the awesomeness factor either – it’s hard to deny that these wide flares look pretty badass in situ, taking a familiar silhouette and forcing it through a cartoonish filter. It’s as if the everyday commuter 3 Series on your neighbour’s drive has been shimmered through the paint box of a 1970s hot rod caricaturist, and that’s no bad thing.

    “We wanted to use the E46 M3 SMG specifically, because since we were going to run such wide wheels, tyres and arches, we also wanted to run a supercharger from VF Engineering,” Ary says. “We knew with the power of the ’charger and the SMG transmission the car would have a similar feel to a proper race car, so the go would match the show. The power of the car is right at your fingertips and the supercharger keeps pulling you forward all the time!”


    You can tell from the way that Ary chatters away about this build that he’s no pen-pushing suit – he’s in this business because he’s passionate about the cars, and his engaging and eager persona really accentuates this. The demeanour explains the growth of his business, EuroStopUSA, which was established in #2002 as a performance shop selling custom body kits, wheels, exhausts and lowering springs, mainly catering for BMWs. As word spread and the customer base grew, so the ESM Wheels and DTM FiberWerkz brands crystalised, the latter growing by word-of-mouth and street culture, while ESM developed through offering a unique selection of wheel designs in a plethora of colours, fitments and specs. By the time of this project’s inception, the guys were really on a roll.

    “The car was completely stock when we acquired it, and a perfect candidate for what we wanted to use it for,” says Ary. “We found it listed locally on Craigslist. As we design and manufacture parts, we look for cars with straight and true bodies with no damage, so when the parts are designed and ready to make a mould we can ensure the part will be as close to a factory fit as possible.

    “The principle goal of this car was to design a new option wide-body flare kit,” he continues. “We did face some issues during the research and development of the design when it came to shaping something to flow with the rounded body lines of the E46; we tried a box-style flare, but ultimately came to the conclusion that it looked a bit too square on a rounded car, so we changed the shape to blend with the lines of the body. Shaping the flare kit was by far the most challenging part of the process – because it is a part that we’ll be manufacturing for customers, we wanted to make sure it would fit perfectly on every car, have a good aesthetic, and most of all be functional and easy to install and remove.”

    This all speaks of DTM FiberWerkz’s fastidiousness when it comes to product development, but it’s important for us to remember that there’s more to this car than a set of rivet-on aftermarket arch flares. Just take a look at the interior, for example – it’s a brilliant manifestation of your classic dual-purpose build. The back end is pure race car, it’s been stripped down to its bare bones, rocking a sturdy half-cage and not a whole lot else. Moving forward beyond the B-pillars you’ll spot the unmissable scarlet flash of a pair of Sparco Evo buckets, and then as you swivel your head owl-like through 180-degrees you’ll find that… you’re in a normal street-driven M3. Huh. Weren’t expecting that, were you? There’s a full dash, OEM doorcards, even the stereo and carpets are still in place. It’s like a mullet; business up front, party in the back.


    Moving to the outside, the outrageous aesthetic that’s been achieved by Ary’s team reminds you that the addition of wide-arch flares isn’t just a case of sticking them to the car, dusting off your hands and going for a beer. You’ll be needing some much wider wheels to fill them, and given that you’ve set out to make your car something of a headturner, the design aspect is something to which you’ll need to give some deep degree of thought. In the case of this car, it could only be a set of ESM wheels. But which ones? Ah, decisions, decisions… after much head-scratching and soul-searching, Ary plumped for a square setup of 11x18” 007s in a gold platinum finish, slathered in sticky R888s to further ramp up the overall sense of purpose.

    The fellas at DTM FiberWerkz are, as you’ve gathered by now, painfully aware of the importance of the holistic approach, so when Ary talks about this set of wide-arch flares, it is of course just one element of a broader picture. After all, an E46 M3 with wide arches and nothing else on its comparatively slender body might look a bit odd. So this car has had the full works, it’s a riot of carbon fibre, beginning with the CSL-style roof spun from that magical weave.


    There’s a vented carbon bonnet, a carbon bootlid with integrated oversize ducktail, side skirt extensions and carbon mirrors, and a racy front bumper complete with carbon canards and undertray. It’s not all for show either, these guys are dead serious about the aero efficiency of their products. It keeps them up at night.

    “The car debuted at the 2014 SEMA show in the ESM Wheels booth, where we displayed it with the Version 1 flares and black 11x18” ESM-007 wheels,” Ary recalls. “At the time, the front V2 flares were not designed with the cutout behind the tyres. Many people loved the look of the car, and as it was the first rivet-on flare kit for the M3 we gained a huge international reputation from the show. In 2015 we again used the car at SEMA for the ESM Wheels booth, but this time around we changed the look to its current stage, with gold wheels and V2 flares along with some other carbon fibre goodies. For some reason people seemed to like the current look better!”

    That’s a perfectly natural reaction to evolution, really. Honing and perfecting to make it the best it can be, and folk recognise that sort of effort and tenacity. So, what’s next? A V3 evolution for SEMA 2016? “No, I think this car is complete now,” Ary laughs. “We’ve always got new projects in the pipeline, and we’re developing a lot of new stuff right now, branching out into some diverse areas: Porsche 996/997, Fiat 500, Dodge Challenger… and we’re working on a project that we think a lot of BMW enthusiasts would love to see: a 318ti Compact with a wide-body conversion and a supercharger, which will be debuting at Bimmerfest in May 2016.”

    So there you have it – the smart money lies in tuning the E46 coupé, that’s going to be the big cheese this year. But you’d better get it done quick and right, as you’ll all be clamouring for Compacts after that…


    Carbon canards and rear diffuser are just some of the many carbon additions.

    DATA FILE #DTM #FiberWerkz #BMW-E46 #M3 / #VF-Engineering-Stage-3 / #VF-Engineering / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #SMG / #BMW-M3-SMG-II-E46 / #BMW-M3-SMG-II / #BMW-M3-SMG / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-Supercharger / FiberWerkz / #BMW-M3-FiberWerkz / #BMW-M3-FiberWerkz-E46 / #Clutchmasters / / #S54B32-TUNED


    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #VF-Engineering-Stage-3-Supercharger kit and tuning, #Agency-Power full race exhaust system with titanium tips, six-speed #SMG-II gearbox with #Clutchmasters-Stage-3 race clutch.

    CHASSIS 11x18” ET0 ESM-007 wheels (f & r) in gold platinum finish, 285/30 (f) and 315/30 (r) Toyo R888 tyres, #Megan-Racing coilovers, factory-upgraded discs and pads

    EXTERIOR DTM #FiberWerkz-GTR-S kit comprising V2 vented wide-body flares, Race front bumper with undertray, carbon fibre lip and canards, carbon fibre side skirt extensions, full Race rear diffuser, carbon fibre bootlid, vented carbon fibre Race bonnet, CSL-style carbon fibre roof, carbon fibre mirrors

    INTERIOR Stripped rear, Sparco Evo 2 US seats, Autopower Industries race roll bar

    THANKS Our staff at #DTM-FiberWerkz and #ESM-Wheels , Stan at Toyo Tires, Clutchmasters, James at Megan Racing, Ayed at Kings Autobody, VF Engineering, Sparco Racing

    The car was a perfect candidate for what we wanted to use it for
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