- Post is under moderationPASSION WAGON #BMW-M3
Griot’s Motors unleashes its V8-powered, two-door, #BMW-M3-bodied E30 #BMW-M3-Touring . Two-door, M3-bodied, #V8-powered E30 Touring.
Astonishing in its vision, astounding in its execution, just plain awesome by its very existence, the Griot’s Motors two-door, #V8-swapped , #M3-bodied E30 #BMW-M3-Touring-E30 is quite unlike anything we’ve ever seen… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Kevin Uy.
What’s amazing about the modified BMW scene is that, just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone comes along and produces something the likes of which you’ve never seen before. It’s no mean feat, and you’re looking at one such creation right now. It is a two-door, #M3-bodied-E30-Touring powered by a 4.0-litre M60 V8. This creation is the brainchild of the Griot’s (pronounced Gree-oh’s) Motors team, itself the skunkworks division of Griot’s Garage – a car care manufacturing company based over in Tacoma, Washington, USA. If you’ve never heard of Tacoma, look up Galloping Gertie, an infamous bridge that collapsed in 1940 due to strong winds. And if you’ve never heard the term skunkworks before, it’s basically a name given to an experimental department of a company.
Griot’s Motors was started by Richard and Phillip Griot. “The garage buys, sells, restores and modifies a wide variety of classic cars,” says Nick Griot. “Our main restoration shop is actually part of the Griot’s Garage headquarters.” Skunkworks it may be but Griot’s Motors is an impressive operation in itself, with around 70 cars currently held in the company’s collection, which is constantly changing as cars are completed, sold on and new ones purchased. BMWs naturally make up a portion of this collection, with a number of modern and classic examples along with a couple of motorbikes. “BMWs have always been of interest to us as they represent a perfect blend of design and function which carries through to the people who buy them,” explains Nick.
“BMW owners are passionate about racing, preserving, modifying and maintaining their cars – which is pretty much us in a nutshell. Griot’s Garage is also the exclusive Car Care Provider for the BMW Car Club of America so we are actively invested in the BMW community and do a lot with the club every year.”
That’s all well and good but it doesn’t explain how this insane E30 Touring came about. “At Griot’s Motors we basically focus on modernising cars without losing any of their vintage attributes,” explains Nick. “And we are constantly looking for unique, hard-to- find cars. This was a car we wanted to own just because we finally could. E30 Tourings were never imported to the States and, generally, a car must be over 25-yearsold to be able to be imported and registered. We found this car for sale in Florida and it had made its way there from Germany via Japan. It was in good original condition, and very complete, so we bought it thinking it would remain relatively stock and would be enjoyed as it was. However, once we got the car and saw the wear and tear and significant paint degradation we knew it was in need of restoration, which is where we went a little mad and cooked up a crazy vision for the car – one that had never been done before.”
The blame for everything that you see here can really be placed on Richard’s shoulders, as Nick explains: “After sitting in the car he stated that visibility was not up to his standards and he wondered aloud about the potential of longer doors from an E30 Coupé to improve visibility. That started the discussion of the two-door conversion, which led us all the way to M3 body work, an engine swap, and custom fabrication.”
The bodywork didn’t come first, though, that honour goes to the engine, but it’s too big a deal for us not to get excited about it. The sheer amount of extensive custom fab work that’s gone into making the dream a reality is mind-boggling. With the seed sown, the Griot’s Motors team started exploring the idea of the two-door conversion and, after taking some measurements from their pair of E30 M3s, they realised that the M3 bodywork would work very well. With what might seem like an insane idea now looking eminently achievable the car was delivered to J-Rod & Custom who began the Herculean task of turning four doors into two and making it all look like a factory job.
The B-pillar had to be moved back nine inches in order to be able to accept the longer doors. A completely custom frame had to be built into the space vacated by the rear doors. And new inner wheel wells were created to accommodate the wider M3 rear arches (the quarter panels having been sourced from Germany). The rear light housings had to be modified to fit the standard light clusters, new window trim was also created and the glass from the rear saloon doors was used between the B- and C-pillar. The front arches fitted straight on and all the remaining body parts are OE #BMW items with bumpers and side skirts acquired from local BMW enthusiasts. The finishing touch involved six coats of PPG Deltron Griot’s Red. The end result is nothing short of spectacular. Nick says the goal was to create a car that looked like a factory product, and that’s been achieved and then some. The bodywork is perfect, the paint finish flawless, and the combination of Touring body, two-door configuration, and M3 arches is breathtaking. No doubt there are plenty of Touring enthusiasts out there choking with rage right now but you’d have to be a fool to look at this E30 and think it doesn’t look anything less than perfect.
As we briefly touched upon earlier, the engine was actually the first step in the build process and, when it came to the V8 swap, the Griot’s team worked to the same exacting, obsessive standards to ensure that, bonnet up, the engine bay would leave onlookers as floored as the rest of the car. Before all this madness began there was a 2.5-litre M20 under the bonnet but that simply wouldn’t do for a car of this calibre, which is why an engine swap was a necessity. The engine in question is from a #1995 E34 540i, purchased in its entirety to provide the E30 Touring with not only that lusty 4.0-litre #V8 but also a six-speed manual gearbox and engine wiring harness, making for an easy engine exchange, with the V8 sitting on custom mounts along with a fabricated transmission saddle and tunnel reinforcement to support it. But the engine swap itself isn’t the only impressive part, it’s the work that’s gone on around it, the attention to detail, that impresses the most. Prior to the insertion of the V8, the engine bay was shaved and smoothed to remove any and all holes and brackets. “The plan,” says Nick, “was to have an extremely simple engine bay that showed off the most beautiful aspects of the engine without the clutter of wiring and engine accessories.”
The brake booster, he says, was removed and has been replaced with a full pedal assembly inside the car and then reservoirs were fabricated in-house for coolant, brake/clutch, and power steering fluids.
These were then machined with threads that corresponded with the factory reservoir caps, giving the custom parts a factory appearance. As a result of this painstaking attention to detail the engine bay is nothing short of a work of art. It’s clean enough to eat your dinner off and it ensures that all eyes are immediately drawn to that V8, itself embellished with red painted rocker covers and a classic BMW roundel on the engine cover. A custom cold air feed, utilising a large velocity stack located in the passenger side high beam hole and an in-line filter, supplies the big V8 with all the air it can ingest. Elsewhere the Griot’s team has fitted V8 X5 exhaust manifolds with a custom T304 stainless steel exhaust system, while a custom driveshaft and 2.93 LSD-equipped rear end have also been fitted.
Killer one-off styling and a sweet engine swap are all well and good but it’s only a job half done where a major project like this is concerned. Now came the turn of the chassis to be comprehensively overhauled. Step one involved removing the front and rear subframes and completely refreshing them, with both being reinforced in key areas before being powdercoated satin black. The E30 received polybushes throughout and camber adjustment was added to the rear trailing arms. “The front strut assemblies were sent to Ground Control and the guys there worked their magic, shortening and reinforcing the strut housings so we could get the car as low as we wanted,” explains Nick. “They also provided us with the Koni shocks, front camber plates, spring perches, and new springs that would accommodate the increase in weight from the V8.”
With the Ground Control coilover setup endowing the E30 with pretty much the perfect ride height, all that was needed now was the perfect set of wheels to adequately fill those swollen arches. You’ve no doubt been staring at the pictures for a while now so you’ve probably identified what the Griot’s Motors team decided to fit: HREs. Is it wrong to get excited about HREs? Like, really, really excited? They just look so good here. Choosing a flat-faced wheel rather than the default dished design is a bit of a ‘woah’ moment but, despite being a thoroughly modern wheel, the classic crossspoke design brings to mind the BBSs that the E30 M3 originally wore so well. And that’s exactly why these 501Ms were selected for this build. They allowed the Griot’s team to keep that factory look while giving them the modern size and width options they wanted for an aggressive stance. And while deciding on the final colour took some time, the brushed gold that was chosen is not only gorgeous but a perfect match for that bright red body.
Right now, you’re probably reeling because, let’s be honest, there’s a hell of a lot to take in here, but Griot’s isn’t finished with you just yet because now we come to the interior. And, well, it’s a bit special. Up front, the M3 theme has been carried over from the outside with reproduction tricolour M Tech cloth applied to the doorcards and front seats, a retrimmed M Tech I steering wheel with tricolour stitching, and an M gear knob.
In the back, however, well that’s where everything goes crazy. The rear passenger and luggage area has been transformed into a mobile product display and valeting station: this is a car that can wash itself.
Well, not literally, but you know what we mean. The rear seats have been replaced with a custom aluminium water tank and hose while the entire boot has been fitted with a custom enclosure that allows the entire range of Griot’s Garage detailing products and polishers to be displayed. The whole affair has been beautifully finished and looks magnificent. It’s a very different boot build to the ones we’re used to seeing but no less impressive.
The Griot’s Motors E30 Touring is the vehicular embodiment of what Griot’s Garage and its skunkworks outfit stand for. It’s an incredible creation, one that’s come about from the vision and imagination of a small group of guys and one that could only have been created by people with nothing less than absolute passion for cars and for modifying them – because what kind of person decides to build a two-door Touring?
So much care and attention has been poured into not just making sure that the end result looks absolutely perfect, which it does, but also making sure that everything has been built to the highest possible standard and finished to absolute perfection. The goal was to make a car that looked like it could have rolled out of BMW’s own factory, and this car is that and so much more. And beyond showcasing what Griot’s Motors is capable of creating, the on-board valeting station showcases what Griot’s Garage is all about. This really might be the cleanest car we’ve ever shot. Best of all, this Touring isn’t about to be tucked away or sold, it’s going to be hitting the 2017 shows across the USA. And after that it’s going into rotation for regular driving whenever anyone wants to because, after all, that’s what it was built for. And that makes us very happy indeed.
“We went a little mad and cooked up a crazy vision for the car – one that had never been done before”
DATA FILE #Griotʼs-Motors two-door #BMW-E30 / #BMW-V8 / #BMW-Touring / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E30 / #BMW / #Griot's-Garage / #BMW-E30-Griotʼs-Motors / #BMW-Touring-2-door / #BMW-E30-M60 / #BMW-E30-V8 / #Getrag / #HRE /
FILE ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #BMW-E30-M60B40 / #M60B40 / #BMW-M60 / #M60 , custom engine mounts, rocker covers painted red, engine bay shaved and smoothed, custom coolant and power steering reservoirs, tucked wiring harness, custom cold air feed from full beam headlight hole, X5 exhaust manifolds, custom #T304 stainless steel dual 2.5” exhaust, #Getrag six-speed manual gearbox, fabricated transmission saddle, tunnel reinforcement, custom propshaft, 2.93 LSD rear end
CHASSIS 8x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) #HRE-501M wheels in brushed gold with 215/40 (front) and 235/40 (rear) Falken Azenis RT615K tyres, reinforced subframes, fully polybushed, rear trailing arm camber adjustment, shortened and reinforced front strut housings, fully-adjustable #Ground-Control coilovers with adjustable #Koni struts, camber plates
EXTERIOR Full OEM steel E30 M3 body panels including front and rear quarter panels, E30 coupé doors, side skirts, M3 bumpers (front and rear), full respray in #PPG-Deltron Griot’s Red
INTERIOR Seats and door panels retrimmed in reproduction M Tech cloth, retrimmed M Tech I steering wheel, six-speed M gear lever, new OE carpet, rear seats removed, custom aluminium water tank and hose, water jet-cut product display area in boot
THANKS Thank you to our sponsors, HRE Wheels, Brembo Brakes and Ground Control Systems. Thank you to J-Rod & Custom, McFarland Upholstery, Kassel Performance, Falken Tire and the hard work of Forrest Davis and Tim Willard of Griot’s Motors – without them, this project would have never been completed
“The plan was to have an engine bay that showed off the most beautiful aspects of the engine”
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- Post is under moderationBMW never offered an E46 M3 Touring, that’s just an unfortunate fact of life. But if you saw Marc Norris’s Touring rolling down the road, you might find yourself re-evaluating what you think you know… Words: Daniel Bevis Photography: Darren Maybury.
“When I build something, I want it to look like it just came out of the factory”
Stunning E46 M3 Touring / Estate of the Union BMW never made an E46 M3 Touring but if it had, it should have looked like this one.
If you want to whip 3 Series fans up into a lather, try tossing the phrase ‘M3 Touring’ into the conversation and just standing back to see what happens. It’s a conversational grenade. You see, everyone with more than a passing interest in the Bavarian propeller badge wants a longroof version of the M3 to exist, and to have existed. Everyone. It’s just a fact of nature, as real as the tides and the inevitability of Monday mornings. Watch in amusement as they reel off phrases like ‘missed opportunity’ and ‘the best car that #BMW never built’. This is not without precedent, of course… the money-men at BMW HQ saw fit to greenlight a Touring variant of the M5 back when the E60 was doing the rounds, so what was wrong with the idea of shoehorning an #S54-Dinan motor and some beefed-up chassis componentry into a 3 Series shell that was happy to swallow a wardrobe? Well, it’s just one of life’s mysteries.
Thankfully, for a miniscule but dedicated clique of enthusiasts, the question of ‘what was wrong with the idea?’ can bullishly be answered by the phrase ‘nothing at all, so I’m going to make one’. And that’s exactly what’s happened here: the car you’re looking at may not have rolled off the production line as a bona fide M3 Touring, but it’s about as near as you’re ever going to get to happening across the genuine article. And it’s all down to the skills and dedication of a fella by the name of Marc Norris.
Now, Marc is an interesting guy to know. The powerhouse behind Bavarian Workshop in West Hills, California, what he doesn’t know about enhancing and enjoying BMWs probably isn’t worth knowing. “My friends call me ‘the mad scientist’,” he grins, “so that should give you some idea…”
Seasoned readers may recall the M2 that Marc built a few years back, fusing a 2002 with the running gear from an E30 M3. “I modify everything I own,” he laughs. “I’ve built some fun cars, with that M2 being a prime example. I’ve built turbo cars, engine swaps… an S54 into an E28 M5, an S52 into an E30 sedan with six-speed and five-lug conversion… My big thing is subtlety – when I build something, I want it to look like it just came out of the factory.” Admirable sentiment indeed, and you can see why Marc is the ideal candidate to hand-craft ‘the best car that BMW never built’.
A little background, then, to see where this whole legacy of lunacy stemmed from. Bavarian Workshop, the hub of all of this Teutonic mischief, was founded back in 1978, and Marc purchased the company 21 years ago. It’s primarily a service shop, although his entertaining modifying proclivities are neatly catered for by virtue of it being an official Dinan Engineering dealer too. “Modifications have always been a part of our DNA,” Marc eagerly confirms. “Along the way there have been many projects, big and small, as people found out about our capabilities. And this particular project was started here at the shop with the engine and trans swap, before I took it home and stripped the interior and some other mechanicals. I have a full shop at home, and am trying to expose my nine-year-old son to my madness!”
Okay, so why an E46, why now? “Well, I just love the E46 M3,” he says. “I mean, I love all M3s, as my garage would attest, but I’d sold an E46 a few years ago to get into a new house, and it stuck in my head – along with a comment a friend made years ago about the idea of an M3 Touring. It kept rolling around in the back of my mind. Something made me start doing some research, and then I found the pictures of the BMW Touring in the underground garage,” he says, referring to BMW’s own one-off M3 Touring Concept that lives in the mystery bunker beneath BMW M GmbH at Garching. “My wife’s Touring’s transmission had given up the ghost a couple of years ago, and I got her an X1; I kept the E46, as the idea was there.” And there you have it, the kernel of a project. But it’s one thing to conjure up such a strategy – it’s quite another to spirit it into reality. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of work involved.
Still, Marc’s not afraid of a bit of hard graft. You have probably gathered that. And with the idea blossoming in his mind, he set about finding a donor, which soon arrived in the form of a #2002 M3 Coupé on Craigslist. The car had hit a pole, which took out the radiator and condenser, but on the whole it was in remarkable condition and presented itself as the perfect donor. The cherry on the cake was that its production date was only two months adrift from his Touring; for a man who prizes authenticity, this made it a no-brainer.
“So, the car’s sitting here at the shop, and I decide I’ll stick the drivetrain and suspension in while it’s here and then trailer it home,” Marc recalls, luxuriating in the story with the slippery ease of the seasoned raconteur. “That bit was just a straight parts swap, no biggie. The interesting part came when I got it home and started gutting the inside…”
It’s a truism to say that the M3 is quite a focused machine, with lots of model-specific parts to differentiate itself from lesser 3 Series – that’s why they’re so celebrated, and command the premiums that they do – but if you really want this thrown into sharp focus for you, try stripping down the two cars in parallel and playing a bit of spot-the-difference.
Take the exterior, for example. It’s not just a case of unbolting the Touring wings and whacking the M3 items on there. Marc’s front wings are sectioned together with parts from both cars, to ensure that they mount properly while also having the correct M3 flares and grilles; the coupé items are a good inch longer, and that’s the sort of panel gap disparity that people would probably notice. And the rears? Well, obviously the station-wagon is a bit taller at the back, so the sportier bits have been cut straight out of the M3 and grafted into the Touring to follow its natural lines. The dedication to a factory-quality finish is total.
Another area that you might not necessarily think of is the boot floor – in this instance it’s been entirely removed and replaced with the M3 Coupé’s panel, which is rather flatter and thus allows the quad-tail M3/Dinan exhaust system to exit beneath. You see, once you start digging into a non-M3 E46, it’s surprising just how deep the rabbit hole goes.
For the sake of completeness, the roof rails were removed and factory delete covers colour-matched and installed, while all of the exterior trim was reworked in BMW Glanschwarz (Gloss black) to reflect the OEM appearance of the M3. And to top it all off, the finished shell’s been blasted in a fresh coat of metallic Stahlblau (Steel blue).
Naturally an M3 is more than just a mighty engine and some pumped up arches. There’s quite a lot going on under the skin. “I’d totally gutted the shell in the knowledge that I wanted to fit the #BMW Professional Navigation, Harman Kardon stereo and, most importantly, my wife’s favourite – heated seats!”
Marc explains. So the car now features E91 Touring seats with functional active bolsters and heaters (because you have to do what the boss says sometimes), which are neatly complemented by the ‘Silver Cube’ trim from the Competition package and, rather brilliantly, a nav screen that’s been specially programmed to display the M logo when you get in. The devil, as they say, is in the detail.
“I also wanted to convert it from auto to manual,” he continues, to the great satisfaction of driving enthusiasts everywhere, “as well as add the parts from the M3 running gear into the harness… so I had both cars at home and I stripped the harness out of the M3 and laid it out next to the Touring, taking out all the sections I needed to add those accessories.”
And when he uses terms like ‘parts’ and ‘accessories’, don’t take these words euphemistically – we’re talking about a full-on chassis conversion, with the M3 front and rear subframes swapped over complete with brakes and suspension, the latter of which was then upgraded to Dinan/Koni Stage 3 spec. When Marc says he wanted to build a factory-quality M3 Touring, he went all-in. “For all intents and purposes, this is an M3,” he says, and it would surely be churlish to disagree.
It really does sound as if this radical yet subtle custom is having the desired effect too. “I use the car as a daily driver to work, and it’s funny seeing people react, as most don’t know a car like this never existed,” Marc smirks, mischievously. “When I go to car shows, a lot of times people walk by just thinking it’s a standard car, but the people in the know – they freak out! It’s so funny! And there have been more than a few times when someone will walk up and go ‘nice M3’… and then realise it’s a Touring. And then just have a cow! It really is amazing to hear how many people dig wagons.”
And that, of course, is all part of the fun. The original brief was to make the M3 Touring that BMW never did, and along the way he’s managed to interweave a certain frisson of specialness that’s endeared it to both his wife and the Californian BMW community at large. As his own State of the Union address, this M3 makes a pretty clear statement for Marc: sure, something may not exist, but that doesn’t mean it never can. The proof, in Steel blue, sits right before you.
CONTACT Bavarian Workshop / Web: www.bavarianworkshop.com
“It really is amazing to hear how many people dig wagons”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE E46 M3 Touring / #BMW-M3-Touring-E46 / #BMW-M3-CS-Touring-E46 / #BMW-M3-Touring / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-E46-Touring / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E46/3 / #BMW-E46/3 / #BMW-M3-E46/3
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54 3.2-litre straight-six, #Dinan-high-flow-air-intake , Dinan free-flow exhaust system, #Dinan software, M3 ducting, trim and radiator/condenser cooling package, M3 oil cooler and ducting, six-speed manual, #M-differential
CHASSIS: 19-inch #Apex wheels with 245/35 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sports, Motorsport Hardware competition wheel studs, full M3 front and rear subframes including suspension and brake setup; Dinan / #Koni Stage 3 suspension kit, reinforced rear subframe mounts
EXTERIOR: Custom front wings sectioned together from Coupé and Touring items, LCI bi-xenon headlights, M3 CSL front bumper cover with carbon fibre winglets, coupé rear wings sectioned into Touring quarters, boot floor swapped for flatter M3 Coupé version, allowing fitment of Dinan/M3 quad exhaust, roof rails removed and factory delete covers installed and colour-matched, all exterior trim swapped to BMW Glanschwarz enamel, full repaint in Stahlblau (Steel blue Metallic)
INTERIOR: Heated E91 Touring seats with functional active bolsters, M3 dials, BMW Professional Navigation, Harman Kardon stereo system, Bavsound complete speaker upgrade, BMW Bluetooth telephone integration, ‘Silver Cube’ trim from Competition package, M Performance gear knob, gaiter and handbrake handle, M3 steering wheel, BMW M door sill trim (front and rear), custom programming to show M logo on nav when entering car
THANKS TO: World Class Paint and Body for the amazing factory-like work, Dinan Engineering, BavSound for the killer sounds, Motorsport Hardware, Chase, for all the help, and my wife Suzin for supporting my long hours in the garage
“People walk by thinking it’s a standard car, but people in the know freak out!”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / BEN’S E36 #S54 TOURING / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-S54 / #BMW-M3-Touring / #BMW-M3-Touring-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E36 /
It’s been a little while since I managed to put something together for this section, and unfortunately that’s simply because I haven’t done an awful lot with the car! It’s currently serving duties as my daily driver and work van during a workshop relocation.
That said, the summer evenings have come in handy for ticking some items off the list – mainly more track preparation and weight reduction. I had previously kept the front half of the car in ‘comfy’ format – the Sparco seats and Momo steering wheel were essentially the only changes, but the time had come to remove the carpet, dash underside trims, headlining and to strip down the wiring loom.
The head unit, speakers and associated wiring were also removed, along with the glovebox and the Hack Engineering store cupboards were raided for a Hard Motorsport battery kill switch panel which was duly fitted and wired in, completing the first stage of interior work. The next addition came courtesy of a fantastic firm local to me, Pro-Line Motorsport. The brainchild of Mitch Plowman, Pro-Line was set up to offer everything from braided brake clutch lines to full motorsport vehicle-outfitting, covering everything from oil lines and coolers to bespoke fuel systems.
The mission was simple – I was after one of Pro-Line’s E36 ABS delete kits but I wanted to run it inside the car rather than underneath, minimising potential damage and easing maintenance. I offered to lend a hand and so turned up at Mitch’s unit near Redhill in Surrey bright and early one morning to get cracking. When the fluid was drained I removed the original solid brake lines and ABS unit while Mitch measured up the new lines. The fronts were plumbed directly from the master cylinder, while the line to the rear meets a bulkhead connector on the passenger side of the engine bay.
Moving inside, we ran a line down under the dash to the new Tilton bias valve that Mitch supplied, and into the back. Here it split down to another pair of bulkhead connectors and down to the calipers.
To say Mitch is OCD about his work would be an understatement – as the photos will show, everything is precisely measured, incredibly neat and completely symmetrical. All fittings are swaged and, also, all of Mitch’s lines have a lifetime warranty. The system was bled through with Motul RBF600, checked over and I was ready for a test drive.
The difference all of it has made is absolutely astounding. I didn’t find brake feel a problem before, but the improvement is night and day, and I’m enjoying not having the ABS cut in at inappropriate moments – finally I can use the WP Pro brake setup to full affect. If you want the same for your car, all you need to do is give Mitch a ring – the under-car kits are also available through Hack Engineering.
THANKS & CONTACT #Pro-Line-Motorsport 0208 4064237 / www. prolinemotorsport. co. uk / #Hack-Engineering / www. hackengineering. co. uk /
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- Post is under moderationGOING ON TOUR
BMW never made an #BMW-E91 M3 Touring, so this owner decided to build his own… BMW never built an E91 M3 Touring, but if it did, it’d probably look just like this… only not as low and on smaller wheels! Words: Andy Basoo. Photos: Antony Fraser.
It was back on the 22 February 2011 the euphoria started, at 1.15pm to be precise. A build thread began on the popular M3Post forum, which within a matter of days had 35,000 views from around the globe. A dozen or so photos and a handful of words was all it took to spark such excitement; the BMW community was witnessing something special.
The username was #63NP. The thread topic: ‘!!E91 M3 V8 DCT Estate / Wagon Full Conversion..!!’. We don’t need to tell you that BMW never built an E91 M3 Touring. In fact, the German manufacturer has never built an M3 Touring full stop. Coupés, Saloons and Cabriolets yes, but never a Touring. And that’s somewhat surprising considering how much we love estate cars here in the UK. The Audi RS4 has never struggled for sales and the majority of examples you see on the road are wagons. If Audi can make it work, why can’t BMW?
To be fair, BMW has tried its hand at highperformance estate cars in the past. The E34 and E61 M5s were available in Touring format, and BMW even tested the water with the E39, building a one-off Touring version.
They just weren’t big sellers though. It’s difficult to pin down exactly why not, but they didn’t capture the imagination of the public. Maybe it was because they didn’t look different enough from any other M Sportkitted model? The RS4 is wide, beefy, has distinctive aluminium mirrors and looks like it’s on steroids, while the M5s of the past have been much more understated.
The 5 Series was also significantly larger and perhaps that’s where the downfall lay? Audi produced a larger RS6, too, and while it’s admittedly a fine machine in its own right, it was never the big seller like the RS4. So maybe 3 Series Touring M cars would have been the way to go? Nicholas Pritchard (aka 63NP), the man who instigated that build thread certainly seems to think so, hence the reason he’s built his own example. And before we go any further, let us tell you, it’s truly OEM quality in its execution.
Nick’s a heavy goods vehicle driver and has always had a thing for estate cars. “I’ve had loads,” he confesses. “I’ve had a B7 RS4, an E61, an E36 and an E30 – that I fitted Montego Countryman roof rails to because the E30 never came with roof rails! I even had a Rover 400 estate. I just like estates!” Which is why when he saw this one, he simply had to have it.
“I was doing a 997 Porsche at the time,” he continues. “This was back in 2009. I used to pop down to a local bodyshop from time to time to see a mate of mine. The owner of the bodyshop had this car tucked away in the corner and covered in dust. It didn’t have any wings or doors or an interior. It was just a shell, although it did have an M3 V8 sitting in the bay but it wasn’t running.”
Nick was interested and asked the owner if it was for sale. He got a firm “no” in reply. The car was a 2007 318i auto, although the original engine and transmission were nowhere to be seen. The cabin was filled to the roof with parts and the wiring loom was in a heap in the corner of the bodyshop.
“Are you sure it’s not for sale?” Nick persisted. “Quite sure, thank you very much,” came the response.
Bearing in mind it was 2009 and this was a #2007 Touring, it was a relatively new car to be chopping about as extensively as this one had been. Not many of us would have the confidence to be so brutal to a BMW that was barely run-in. Nick was so taken with the car that he would drop in occasionally and the two would have the same brief but very polite conversation.
“I noticed towards the end of the year, that the guy’s enthusiasm for the car was waning,” Nick explains, “so at the start of 2010 I asked him again, and amazingly he said ‘yes’. He’d been slowly building it up, so by the time I got it the panels were back on and an M3 interior in it, but it still wasn’t running. I think one of the guys down there had put a jump pack on it to get it started, but a power surge had fried the ECU and a few other things. I would say it was probably three-quarters complete.”
The previous owner had sourced the V8 from a donor car, an E90 M3 Saloon LCI with a slick DCT gearbox. Amazingly, the platforms of the Saloon and Touring are virtually identical. In fact, from the nose right the way back to part way down the rear doors is the same. The rear ends of the rear doors are a slightly different shape to conform to the different boot layout. But apart from that, the layouts remain the same. So, despite there being countless views and rumours about the complexity of an E91 M3 conversion, it’s actually pretty straight forward.
The donor car had been stripped. We mean, completely stripped down to its shell. Engine, gearbox, prop, body panels, interior, dash the lot. The same had then been done with the Touring. As you’d expect, priority had been given to the fitment of the M3’s beautiful 4.0-litre 32v V8 ( #S65B40 ) and its #DCT gearbox. It’s hard to comprehend and perhaps it sounds like we’re dumbing the process down, but there was no fabrication or adjustment made to any brackets. Using the S65’s OEM mounts, the V8 slotted easily in to place, the gearbox aligned perfectly, too, as did the driveshafts and propshaft, and all bolted straight in.
Even the standard Saloon exhaust system fitted. All that the previous owner had to do was to add two thread bolts for the rear box hangers, readily available from BMW, and the quad exhaust sat perfectly.
With the intention being to swap over and utilise every possible optional extra fitted to the M3 donor car, the complete Saloon wiring loom, fuse box and dash were fitted. This meant the all-important iDrive system was also available to the driver.
Regarding the body panels, the complete front end is M3 Saloon. The front bumper, kidney grilles, vented bonnet, and wider front arches were all bolted straight on, and the shut lines matched perfectly. Obviously, a wider front end meant the Touring’s original undertrays and arch liners no longer fitted, so these had been swapped over from the M3, too. Incidentally, before the all of the panels were fitted, the V8’s ancillaries had all been set in their rightful place, including the relevant coolers and bottles being placed in the wings. The goal had been to make this car as OEM as possible.
As you can imagine, this was harder to achieve at the rump end of the Touring. With the car having a wider track, the rear arches needed widening, so M3 Saloon rear quarters had been grafted in and expertly reshaped to meet the lines of the Touring.
The rear bumper is a combination of M3 Saloon and M Sport Touring. It would have been easier to modify an estate bumper, but the previous owner aimed at retaining as much M3 styling as possible, and as such the central vent, angles and lines had all been adopted from the Saloon parts.
Inside the cabin, the Touring’s carpet and panoramic roof had been retained as neither of these were available in M3 guise, but just about everything else you can see and touch is M3 Saloon. Even the rear bench bolted straight in. The rear seat back, however, is Touring, well… kind of. The seat foam had been reshaped to fit and match the bench, and then M3 Saloon covers added.
It was in this overall state that Nick bought the car. “As I said, it was about three-quarters complete when I got it,” he continues. “He’d done a great job. But, obviously the car wasn’t running and it felt tired and a little loose.
So the first thing Nick did was to order a new ECU and cache unit from BMW. After sorting the coding, to his joy the V8 barked into life, enabling Nick to turn his attentions to tightening the whole car up. “There were so many little things that needed sorting,” he explains. “I half stripped the car back down again. As I said, it didn’t feel tight. Things like the doorcards felt a bit loose, some of the trim was slightly squeaky, that kind of thing. As I was taking it apart, I started noticing that a lot of the clips were missing or broken. Some of the trim was scratched or damaged, the screws didn’t match, as you’d expect I guess. That’s what happens when you take a car apart.
“For me though, the whole point of the car was for it to be OEM quality, so I ordered about £1000 worth of clips, screws and trim from BMW. I’ve also got a friend who works in a BMW dismantlers and he was able to help me out with various other parts that were missing or damaged. Things like the membranes in the doors weren’t sealed, so they would have leaked and filled with water if I didn’t seal them. Essentially, the car needed finishing. The bulk of the work was done, but I think it’d been rushed back together when the guy lost interest.”
Nick has therefore invested heavily in transforming this car from the one that he bought. He primarily concentrated on the chassis, replacing the Touring’s factory-fit suspension with a full set of top-spec Variant 3 KW coilovers. He then ordered a set of gorgeous 20” Breyton Race GTS RM forged wheels to tuck under the wide arches, with M3 offsets, of course. Sizeable 9.5x20” wheels fill the fronts, shod in 245/30 Continentals, with broader 10x20” versions out back wrapped in 285/25 rubber by the same brand. He’s is considering nudging the front suspension down just a fraction more, but we have to say the E91 sits beautifully.
Nick then approached Reyland Motorsport for help sorting the front brakes. “I sourced a set of six-pot Brembo calipers from a C63 Mercedes,” he relates. “They’re basically the same as the BMW Performance calipers, just with different mounts on the back. I dropped them off at Reyland along with an M3 suspension leg so they could get all the brackets right and come up with suitable discs and pads. They used 380mm discs in the end and had my car in for a few days fitting everything up and testing it for me. All the brake warning sensors are still connected and functioning. I want to get a kit for the back now.”
We could go on all day about the fact Nick’s retained the Touring’s loom from the rear doors back because certain things are wired differently; how he’s removed individual pins from the loom plugs to ensure nothing is in place that isn’t needed; how he’s retro-fitted a CIC sat nav system that now runs ‘DVD in Motion’; details of the countless trips to the bodyshop to have blemishes removed, lines redefined and exhaust tips powdercoated in black; and why he’d only settle for BMW Performance front seats, but hopefully by now you’ve realised what an exceptional build this is.
Learning how identical the platforms are, it would appear relatively straightforward to swap all the parts across from one car to another. And to his credit, the previous owner has done phenomenally well in doing just that, but it’s finishing the job properly that takes time and patience to get right, and Nick has those qualities in abundance.
Without his input, this would feel like a fast, yet slightly tired, rattly estate. Thanks to Nick’s input it now possess a true OEM quality. It feels like a genuine M3 with full M car pedigree, not simply a modified 3 Series and that’s a difficult feat to achieve. Despite the photos posted on M3Post, some members still questioned whether or not this car was real, and demanded further evidence. Even the official #BMW staff and technicians at Nick’s local dealer were left puzzled when he first popped in to pick up a few parts. Other impressive E91 Tourings have been built around the world and yet more are in the pipeline, but Nick’s M3 converted example is by far the most wellknown.
Over 100,000 views of his build thread prove that. If you get the opportunity to see this machine in the flesh try and find fault with it. After we spent the day with car, we can assure you, you won’t find any.
DATA FILE #BMW-M3-Touring / #BMW-M3-Touring-E91 / #BMW-M3-E91 / #BMW-E91 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E91 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E91 / #BMW-M3-DCT-E91 / #DCT / #V8 / #BMW-3-Series-V8 / #Breyton-Race
ENGINE: #S65B40 4.0-litre 32v V8 from E90 M3 LCI Saloon / #BMW-S65 / #S65 / #BMW , standard #BMW-M3-DCT transmission and LSD, full M3 Saloon manifolds and exhaust system with Saloon hanging threads added to back box
CHASSIS: 9.5x20” (front) and 10x20” (rear) #Breyton-Race-GTS-RM wheels shod in 245/30 and 285/25 Continental tyres respectively, Bimmerworld bolt-to-lug conversion, fully adjustable #KW-Variant-3 coilovers all-round, six-pot orange #Brembo calipers from Mercedes C63 with 380mm discs
EXTERIOR: Complete E90 M3 Saloon front end comprising wings, inner arches, bonnet, front bumper, undertrays and headlights, rear arches widened using E90 M3 Saloon quarter panels, custom rear bumper fabricated from M3 Saloon item and E91 M Sport Touring bumper
INTERIOR: #BMW-Performance seats, M3 Saloon dash, consoles, trim and wiring, M3 Saloon door cards and rear bench with Touring rear seat back foam modified and retrimmed in black nappa leather to match, M3 Saloon steering wheel, M3 Saloon iDrive with CIC sat nav, AC Schnitzer pedals
THANKS: Reyland Motorsport (0121 458 6010 or www.reyland.co.uk) TRS Motorbodies (0121 4548300)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationMagical Mystery Touring / #BMW-M3-CS-Touring-E46 / #BMW-M3-CS-Touring / #BMW-M3-Touring / #BMW-M3-Touring-E46 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-E46-Touring
Of all the M Cars BMW never built the one that we all lust after is the E46 M3 Touring. If you were to see this E46 M3 Touring out and about, you may well perform a cartoonish double-take. And you’d be right to do so, as the amount of work that’s gone into making Knut Siring’s example look factory-standard is actually quite astonishing… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photography: Tom Begley.
The idea of an M3 Touring is one that consistently gets BMW fans whipped up into an excitable lather. Googling that phrase (‘M3 Touring’, that is, not ‘excitable lather’ – that’ll return rather different results) reveals pages upon pages of forum posts and blog entries along the lines of ‘the best car that BMW never built’. It does, after all, seem rather unfair that the station wagons were left off the product planning chart, particularly given the proven global enthusiasm for hot estates; the RS4 and RS6 have paid for more than a few posh dinners in the steakhouse next to the Audi factory. And the E60-generation M5 was offered as a capacious load-lugger – V10 up front, Labrador in the back – so why not the M3?
Well, it’s complicated, and probably involved a lot of meetings and flipcharts and tutting accountants. The crux of the matter is that the E46 M3 Touring that you’re looking at here doesn’t really exist. Except that it does, as we’re able to see it, nestle our posteriors into its welcoming soft leather, and experience all of the hedonistic thrills that the S54-powered M3 has to offer, along with the knowledge that we could stop off at any point we fancied and buy a new wardrobe without having to worry about forking out for the delivery charge. This car, the vision-made-real of serial car-twiddler Knut Siring, is a bona fide M3… that just happens to be a Touring.
“It started out as a fully-optioned 320i Touring that I’d had for a few years,” he explains. “It had just about every option that was available on the E46 in 2000, and I like the design of the Touring very much – I wanted to convert it into something special.” Well, it’s safe to say that he’s achieved that with some degree of success. But this was always bound to be the case; when we get Knut talking about his former projects and successes, we’re treated to a comprehensive and jaw-dropping list of greatest hits, ranging from Caterhams to Audi Quattros, via a 1960s Opel Rekord and a handful of Nissan Patrols, along with quite a few BMWs – most of them Tourings. And as with so many project cars across the world, this one began with a fleeting but indelible glimpse at a concept car; namely BMW’s M3 Touring concept of 2000, which acts as a sort of unicorn for E46 fanciers with track days to conquer and hedge clippings to dispose of. “I loved the idea of that, and I wanted to build something similar,” says Knut. “The goal was to do it as if it had been built by BMW’s M division itself, and to keep all the M3 specs original.” So this wasn’t a case of shoving a big engine into an estate in order to create either a sleeper or a balls-to-the-wall dragster, nor was it to craft a scene-friendly show car. He wanted to wrap an M3 up inside his 320i, and authenticity had to be key.
At this embryonic stage of the process, Knut found himself approaching Southways Automotive in Fareham, thanks to the build thread of another feisty Touring they’d had a hand in. Now, Knut doesn’t live all that close to Fareham. In fact, he’s from Norway.
So why engage the services of a custom builder in the UK? “Quite simply, your M3s are very reasonably priced!” Knut laughs. “In Norway you can’t get an E46 M3 for less than £30k, even a knackered one. If I was to find the donor M3 I acquired for this project back in Norway and pay all the taxes and duties, we’d be looking at… well, rather a lot more than that.” In addition to this, the skills of Southways’ experts spoke for themselves, with a long line of high-end bespoke builds under its belt, so the reasons stacked up pretty high to source the donor car in the UK, have it all built in Fareham, then ship it back home to Norway afterwards for certification.
So, that donor Knut mentioned – that is, in itself, something rather special. “It was a 2005 M3 CS in Interlagos blue that I found on Pistonheads,” he explains. “It had low mileage, but also Cat D damage. For this reason, I got it at a good price and wasn’t too sad to break it apart, it was never going to be a collector’s item with that history. And the M3 CS is a rare enough car in itself, but an M3 CS Touring? That’s one of a kind!” With Southways excited about being involved, the madness could now commence. Oh, and what madness it turned out to be.
The M3 CS Competition Package is a tasty thing to be using for a project base, as it offers a sort of globalised reflection of the fabled CSL; a number of the lightweight E46’s signature features found their way on to the CS, including the spincast BBS wheels in staggered widths, the CSL steering rack (which offers a ratio of 14.5:1 rather than the usual 15.4:1), bigger brakes, an Alcantara steering wheel, and various other bits and bobs. All of this was to find a new home in Knut’s passion wagon, staying faithful to his brief of creating something that would effectively be a CS with an extra bit of glazing at the back.
With the two cars sitting in Southways’ workshop, the fellas wasted no time in stripping them back to first principles and drawing up a plan of attack. There are a number of essential considerations in a graft-job like this that may not seem immediately obvious – it’s not just a case of bolting the wider wings on and shoving an S54 under the bonnet, the architecture of the two cars is quite different. One of the first things they did was to cut out the boot floor of Knut’s Touring, in the knowledge that the M3’s quadtailpiped crossbox wouldn’t fit under there, and it’d make far more sense to slot in the entire M3 rear subframe – suitably reinforced, of course, as you might as well do stuff like that if you’ve got the thing apart already. The team retained as many original fixing points, brackets, heat shields and so forth as possible in order to keep everything as legit and OEM as it could be, which of course made the job all the more tricky, but Knut was keen for this to be a holistic, authentic and thorough reimagining.
With the rear subframe stitched in, the front was soon to follow, and the bullish S54 with its SMG-II transmission were eased into the gutted shell, giving the car an interesting appearance from afar; a bumperless silver Touring with M3 CS wheels standing unfortunately proud of the arches. But of course, this inbetween phase represented a leap in the project – with all the oily bits in place, it was a simple matter of rerouting around five miles of wiring in order to get it all up and running. C’mon, how hard can that be…?
“I was keen to run the CSL M track mode DSC system too,” Knut recalls. “Originally on the CS and CSL there’s only the one M track mode button on the steering wheel, but I wanted to keep the cruise control and radio buttons. So now there’s an E39 wiper stalk with intensive cleaning feature – this way the M track mode button is easily available on the end of the wiper stalk!” Handy, that. And all extra fun for the wiring guys.
Meanwhile, back to the aesthetics, the CS donor had been liberated of its bonnet, bumper, wings and mirrors, while the rear wings had great swathes of steel carved from them in readiness to transplant into their new home. As the body parts began to pile up, it became increasingly clear that the engineering prowess of Southways might need to be augmented by a coachwork specialist to get everything lined up to BMW-quality tolerances, as items like the bonnet and rear bumper were nowhere near fitting properly (it seems that the M3 coupé and non-M Touring are pretty different shapes, who’d have thought it?) and so Dorset’s Kustom Kolors was consulted with a view to perfecting the aesthetics before slathering it all in Estoril blue (“…which is a pretty rare shade in Norway,” says Knut, “and, in my opinion the most beautiful BMW colour”).
Thankfully, the company was equally enthused about getting on board with the project, and happily threw a Herculean amount of effort into hybridising the front wings, welding in broader flares to the rear arches that flowed accurately into the doors and crafting gorgeous bespoke swage lines, widening the rear bumper and recessing it to allow the tailgate to close, flaring out the fuel filler aperture – the amount of careful craftsmanship required here is truly mindboggling. And the genius of it all is that you can’t tell from the finished product how torturous and fiddly a process that bodywork was, it all just looks neatly factory-stamped. The mark of a job well done.
Inside the freshly reworked E46, the shenanigans continued apace. Further wiring was wrestled with – no small task, when you’re splicing a right-hand drive, #SMG -equipped fly-by-wire throttle S54 into a left-hand drive, automatic transmission, cable-throttled 320i – and the M3 dash was artfully bolted into place. The pedals put up a bit of a fight, as it wasn’t just a case of losing the clutch; they all needed swapping, and the removal of the accelerator pedal requires the removal of the steering column! Although thankfully the car was in bits anyway. Small mercies, eh?
The finished interior is a neat fusion of the coupé’s embellishments and the estate car’s architecture; the M3 dials and buttons function as they should, the oval mirror is in place and the CS seats are sitting on the Touring rails – all sublimely cohesive.
In fact, that’s a pretty neat summary of the car overall: sublime cohesion. It’s very easy to come up with an idea and say ‘sure, I want to make it as good as BMW would have,’ but that loaded statement sets you up for endless agonising workshop hours of fiddling, modifying, fitting, swearing, removing, reworking, refitting, and so on ad infinitum, all with the aim of ending up with something that looks so factory-standard, it wouldn’t elicit the slightest hint of a second glance from someone who didn’t know what they were looking at. This is a car Knut commissioned simply because he thought it was a good idea and wanted to own one, and there’s only an infinitesimal percentage of people who’d spot that it’s something out of the ordinary. That said, he’s doing a pretty good job of drawing those people in like a tractor beam.
“The most common comments I hear are ‘nice car’ and ‘nice colour’, although there’s also a lot of ‘wow, I didn’t know they made an M3 Touring’ from the #BMW enthusiasts,” says Knut with a smile. And you can see from this that he’s satisfied with his creation. This is an M3 that was built to be fun, usable, and of impeccable quality – the hidden benefit is its uniqueness, and the idea that every now and then someone might pick up on that. When they do, they’re in the club. A nod and a wink, some junk in the trunk, and a ticket to the inner circle of M3 lore’s most oft-cited cliché: this is arguably the best car that #BMW never built.
TECHNICAL DATA BMW E46 M3 CS Touring
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: Factory-standard E46 M3 #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54 3.2-litre straight-six, #SMG-II transmission.
CHASSIS: 8x19-inch (front) and 9.5x19-inch (rear) M3 CS #BBS spin-cast alloys in shadow chrome, 225/40 (front) and 225/35 (rear) Continental SportContact M3 tyres, M3 CS/Competition suspension, reinforced rear subframe, CSL steering rack, CS/CSL brakes all-round, CSL M-track mode #DSC system.
EXTERIOR: Custom hybrid M3 Coupé/Touring front wings, M3 front bumper and bonnet, modified #Touring /M3 rear wing sections and doors, #BMW-M3 rear bumper widened and modified to fit around tailgate aperture, House of Kolor 335 Estoril blue paint, DiamondBrite paint sealant, glass sunroof, climate comfort windscreen with rain and light sensor, bi-xenon headlights.
INTERIOR: M3 electric memory seats in black leather, M3 dash and dials, original 16:9 Professional Navigation with CD changer, radio and TV, M3 CSL/CS Alcantara steering wheel and handbrake cover.
THANKS: “I want to thank the guys at Southways Automotive in Fareham (especially Richard Kitchen) for their efforts in making my dream come true. I also want to thank Kustom Kolors in Dorset for the body work and paint job.”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.