- Post is under moderationHARDCORE S54 E30 Thunder from Down Under
SKIN DEEP #S54-swapped E30. Words and photos: Chris Nicholls. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and Andrew Burke’s home-built, DIY-painted E30 is exactly the reason why.
“Why are you shooting that little thing?” says a passer-by during the shoot. I casually pop the bonnet and see his eyes widen. “Jeez, there’s some work gone into that,” he says, before firing off a few photos on his phone and walking away. This sort of thing happens several more times during the shoot and it’s easy to understand why.
From a distance, this is just another E30 track car. The matt black paint, done as a last resort after troubles with the painter, is hardly the last word in beauty and the stock M Tech II body kit isn’t going to set anyone’s world alight either. No, things only get interesting when you get close. It’s then that you see the custom Forgeline wheels and fat, circle-track StopTechs and imperial-sized AP Racing J-hook discs (chosen because imperial gear is cheaper than metric). Next, you peek inside and notice the #Motec M800 ECU sitting on a custom carbon plate on the floor. And the oil lines for the Peterson dry sump kit running next to it. And the Motec C127 colour dash logger and Tilton pedals. It just doesn’t stop. Finally, you pop that aforementioned bonnet and see the immaculate S54 with carbon cover and CSLreplica intake nestled in-between the strut towers, surrounded by Goodridge Teflon hoses and a Peterson oil pressure primer pump. If ever there was a car to prove that sometimes, the opposite of the idiom ‘beauty is only skin deep’ applies, this is it.
The back story of this Australian E30, as you might suspect given the engineering involved, started several years ago (six to be precise) when owner-builder Andrew Burke picked up this 325is to be a street-registered track day build. Having got tired of risking his E92 335i road car on the track, he thought back to a 1989 E30 brochure he got as a kid and decided that would be a better bet. As most builds do, things started off small. Some H&R springs and Bilstein Sport dampers, rebuilt stock brakes and bolton exhaust, a short shifter and new Recaros did the trick for six months, but one track day at the wonderfully nicknamed Haunted Hills circuit (actually Bryant Park) in his home state of Victoria, Andrew noticed puffs of blue smoke on overrun thanks to some keen-eyed photographers. “That was all the excuse I needed to go ‘Oh, this motor could potentially have some kind of small issue in the next three, six, nine, 12 years, I should probably just swap the engine out right now’” he laughs.
Thus began a long and involved process of finding and fitting a new motor. Having decided a resto-mod approach was best, he settled on an S50 and sourced one from the UK, but all was not well. “As all UK motors are, it was covered in corrosion, all the aluminium bits were all pitted from the salt and whatever other calamities occur over there in the middle of winter, so I didn’t do a whole lot with it other than strip it down to a short block and basically sand blast all the things,” Andrew says. Having cleaned it up, he found it still good enough to use, so left it standard internally and got to work fitting it. On went an E34 sump and 12° angled double-shear shift rod to get the now-twisted stock G250 five-speed to work with the AKG DTM shifter, some custom-made exhaust manifolds from Andrew Nicholls at Meridian Motorsport and a VFT E36 DTM-style carbon air box specifically designed to fi t S50s in E30s thanks to a notch cut into the back to clear the brake booster. To ensure that it all ran, Andrew cut and re-connected the stock harness himself and fitted an Alpha N ECU chip.
However, while he may have cleaned it up, it turned out the engine’s not-so-perfect appearance was rather more indicative of its condition than first thought and sure enough, the number five journal went at a Winton Raceway track day in true S50 style. “A $350 tow truck ride home later [Andrew not having a trailer at the time and Winton being two hours from central Melbourne] we were sitting in the garage, the old man and I, saying ‘Well, we’re going to have to fix it, I guess’”. Andrew admits that even at that point, the idea of fitting an S54 came into his head, but he wasn’t quite ready to quit on the idea of an S50-engined E30 yet, especially having done so much work to make it fit.
Thus, he decided that, rather than throw everything away, he would build a proper race-spec S50 and see what happened. Sadly, it’s here that Andrew suffered the all-too-common “bad workshop experience.”
After searching around for a well-regarded builder, he thought he’d found one in a former Team JPS BMW factory race engineer in New South Wales, but while the specs were suitably serious, complete with 11.6:1 Wossner pistons, Pauter I-beam rods, 296° cams, Supertec Inconel valves and the current Peterson dry-sump system (designed to avoid ever spinning a bearing again), it “never made any real power.” “Without going into too much detail, it just fell on its face above 6000rpm,” he says. Worse still, it didn’t even last that long. A mere 500km of track work later and Andrew was sitting on the side of the Winton tarmac with two holes in the block from a rod and rod bolt respectively, oil pouring out everywhere and his car partially in flames thanks to starting a grass fire underneath it. The worst part? A postmortem found the likely cause to be poor assembly.
“As I pulled the bits off the motor so I could get it out of the chassis, I found one of the ARP rod bolts was poking through the block on the exhaust side. I didn’t see it originally as a result, but it was poking through with all of its threads still intact. So it was not like the bolt snapped – it was like it completely unscrewed itself – and I can’t imagine a bolt that’s designed to be torqued to yield, if it was properly fastened, would have come undone. End of story. So that was that, which was a bit unfortunate.”
Unfortunate indeed, and at around AU$30,000 (£17,000) for the engine, expensive. Andrew adds that figure doesn’t even include the cost of ancillaries fitted to deal with the extra power, the current 8x17” Forgelines, the previous SL6R and SL4R Wilwood calipers and discs (since replaced by the StopTechs because Andrew bought another road/track E30 he wanted to put those on), the custom-built AST two-way adjustable coilovers (again, since replaced by custom MCS two-ways) and several other mods besides. However, Andrew wasn’t prepared to throw it all away, so after convincing his wife he “wasn’t silly,” he pulled the trigger on a mint S54 with just 18,000 miles on it out of a wrecked Californian Z4 M.
Being so new and from California, this motor was in stunning shape. There was no dust behind the water pump or alternator pulleys and even the internals, which Andrew inspected when he pulled off the sump to fit the Moroso dry sump pan, were unvarnished.
Given he had no money to put new internals in it, this worked out perfectly. Plus, the S54 made more power stock than his built S50 anyway, so in it went, with only a Karbonius CSL-replica air box – fitted because the StopTechs meant he no longer needed the booster – a Racing Dynamics carbon engine cover, new custom exhaust manifolds (again from Andrew from Meridian, who by then had moved on to start his own venture called Trackart) and a few other mechanical pieces like an Eisenmann exhaust needed to make it work. At the same time, Andrew realised that to actually run the thing (especially given he was keeping Vanos and drive-by-wire), he would need to upgrade his dash from a set of Stack gauges to a Motec logger to ensure the necessary input and output numbers, and after contacting Jason Ingram at Advanced Motorsport Electrics to do the concentrically-wound, DR25 heat-shrunk harness and install it, he got it tuned by Lee at Melbourne Performance Centre and brought it up to Broadford State Motorcycle Centre for a shakedown, which is where we did the shoot.
His impressions of the car now it’s finished (bar a cage)? “I was thrilled with the way that it handled and the way that it stopped even back when it had the second S50… but I was deeply disappointed on some level that it didn’t make as much power as I was expecting. It was certainly fast enough, but it never felt brutal, I guess. Whereas the S54 is still not crazy by any means, it just feels a lot more angry. It feels significantly more powerful.” Given this first shakedown was conducted at only half-throttle, that’s a brilliant portent and suggests that when this E30 is finally unleashed, its unassuming looks, combined with all that power and handling, will mean the opposition won’t see it coming.
“If ever there was a car to prove that sometimes, the opposite of the idiom ‘beauty is only skin deep’ applies, this is it”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #S54 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-S54 / #BMW-S54 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E30 / #Bosch / #BMW-E30-S54B32
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 , #Karbonius CSL-replica dry carbon air box, #K&N air filter, #Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, #Aftermarket Industries swirl pot, #MagnaFuel dry break billet fuel filters, #NGK-Platinum plugs, Setrab 19-row oil cooler with -16 fittings, Roush Yates carbon catch can, Peterson R4 dry sump pump, #VAC-Motorsports mount kit, #C&V HTD belt drive with VAC/ATI fluid harmonic balancer, -16 feed and return oil hoses, -12 scavenge, #Peterson scavenge filters, -10 pressure feed to VAC Motorsports oil manifold, custom #Moroso dry sump oil pan, Peterson single-stage remote oil primer circuit, Peterson billet four-gallon dry sump tank with custom #CNC bracketing, dual breathers and 100 micron filter screen, Canton billet five micron oil filter on pressure stage, #C&R-Racing oil filter housing with provision for secondary oil cooler circuit in rear of car, #Wix-Racing 51222R filter, Goodridge XF 910 and Brown and Miller (BRMS) Teflon hoses, VAC-Motorsports lights, accessories and alternator pulleys, ATI damper by VAC Motorsports, AKG-Motorsport Group N engine mounts, #Racing-Dynamics dry carbon engine cover, Trackart custom equal-length exhaust manifolds and custom 2.5” exhaust, Eisenmann E36 M3 rear box, Motec-M800-ECU , #Motec SKN dual CAN knock module, Advanced Motorsport Electrics custom concentricwound wiring harness with Kevlar tracers, Raychem boots, Souriau and Autosport connectors
TRANSMISSION #G250 five-speed manual gearbox, #AP-Racing 7.25” twin-plate clutch and lightened cro-mo flywheel from E36 M3 R, AKG DTM shifter, PPF axles, re-balanced OE driveshaft, OE diff with extra clutch packs, Z3 M housing, custom transmission mounts and subframe reinforcements
CHASSIS 7.5x17” ET20 (front and rear) #Forgeline-SO3 wheels with 235/40 (front and rear) Nitto NT-01 tyres, VAC Motorsports 90mm studs, #Motorsport-Hardware cro-mo nuts, 3mm spacers (front), Motion Control Suspension custom two-way remote reservoir coilovers, #Eibach 60mm springs, AKG Motorsport polyurethane, #Treehouse-Racing and custom #Delrin bushes, custom Trackart T45-based cro-mo front strut brace, custom front arb and mounts, Dave Stillwell rear anti-roll bar with custom mounts and reinforcement, full Aurora rose joints, #StopTech STR43 calipers (front and rear), #AP-Racing J-hook fully-floating discs, custom Motorsport Connections Teflon braided lines, Performance Friction PFC01 pads (front and rear), custom-machined 7057 T6 rotor hats
EXTERIOR OEM Tech II kit, custom bi-xenon headlights based on TRS projectors and 3D printed adaptors, rear lights lightly tinted with Diamond black
INTERIOR #AKG-Motorsport Delrin shift knob, AKG Motorsport DTM shift lever and short-shift kit, Alcantara gear gaiter, #Tilton 600 Series pedals, Tilton -4 fluid tank, #Speedflow lines, Tilton billet brake bias adjuster, Tilton fluid bias and balance bar adjuster, #Motec C127 dash logger, Recaro SP-A Kevlar V8 Supercar special edition seat, VAC Motorsports billet rails, Sabelt Ultralight harnesses, Personal Grinta 330mm wheel, Lifeline Group N boss with custom spacer, custom carbon panel behind wheel for light controls, custom Trackart harness bar, custom aluminium scuff plates
THANKS Andrew at Trackart for the exhaust, brake cooling duct, harness bar and strut bar fabrication work, Marcos at Motorsport Connections for the Speedflow bits and hoses, Jason Ingram at Advanced Motorsport Electrics for the incredible work on the harness and Lee Burley at Melbourne Performance Centre for the dyno tuning
Carbon engine cover and replica CSL carbon air box make this S54 even sexier.
Single Recaro SP-A Kevlar V8 Supercar special edition seat.
“After convincing his wife he “wasn’t silly,” he pulled the trigger on a mint S54 with just 18,000 miles on it out of a wrecked Californian Z4 M”
/ #Motec-M800 ECU mounted on custom carbon plate.
Swirl pot, pump and filters mounted in boot.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLAGUNA E46 M3 Lush UK air-ride Cab
A schoolboy dream has become reality in the shape of a Laguna Seca E46 M3 Cab, with a few mods for good measure, of course. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Dear.
DREAM WEAVER Air-ride E46 M3
Achieving your dreams, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant they may appear to some people, is an incredible feeling. From dream jobs, to dream weddings and, obviously, dream cars, these items, events and experiences fill us with sheer joy and make our lives better. Whatever your dream may be, achieving it, making it happen is a special moment; for Bally Hanspal this car was that dream and, as you can plainly see, it’s most definitely become a reality.
“BMWs have been a big part of my life,” begins Bally as we ask him to tell his tale, “with my late grandfather, dad and uncle all owning BMWs through my childhood. It always made me want one and, also, with how amazing they are to drive nothing else can come close to them. For me they really are the ultimate driving machines; despite owning other brands of cars I always seem to have a soft spot for BMWs,” he smiles, and that’s something we wager most of us can relate to.
Bally has dabbled with VAG in the past, ticking off the wheels, suspension and audio boxes along the way before moving towards the performance end of the modding spectrum, all of which served as perfect preparation for the inevitable purchase of his dream car. “When the E46 M3 was released, back when I was still in school, I promised myself I’d own a Laguna Seca blue one, one day. Many people laughed, but it was a dream I had to make come true,” he says and that steely determination is what made it happen. Bally kicked BMW ownership off with an E46 320Ci Sport, the biggest engine he could insure at the tender age of 20, but it was just a stepping stone until he could get his hands on the full-fat, M-powered 3 Series of his dreams. “I remember the day when I bought the car so clearly,” he smiles, “a friend of mine phoned me up – it was a warm Saturday afternoon – and he phoned me asking if I had found any cars for sale. I mentioned I had seen this one for sale on Autotrader, not too far from me. He said ‘Let’s go down and take a look’ so we headed over and after just walking around the car and checking it over I knew this was the one for me. The condition of the car was tip-top and it was so well-maintained that I would have been kicking myself if I hadn’t bought it.”
There were, says Bally, no plans to mod the car when he first got it, and he actually thought that was going to leave the car alone but here we are, it’s in a modded BMW mag. It wasn’t long, he says, before he started ordering parts for his M3 and he didn’t mess about. Wheels came first, with a set of CSL 19s chosen and to go with those he picked out a custom set of BC Racing coilovers to deliver the required drop. With the E46 M3’s natural good looks now nicely enhanced, Bally turned his attention to the audio system and fitted an Alpine double-DIN head unit along with a set of MB Quart component speakers front and rear, which made it into the car’s current build state. So too did the amber corner lights, which look great against that bright, bold blue bodywork, and Bally has also fitted a seriously sexy set of K-Sport brakes, with monster eight-pots up front wrapped around 365mm discs and four-pots at the back, and the red calipers really pop against the body and wheels.
All was going well, but Bally wasn’t in a good place with his suspension. “The BC coilovers were pretty awesome I must say, but with the car not being practical with the way I wanted it the next step was air. After speaking to many people and reading many reviews I went for Air Lift’s 3P setup and I also added Powerflex wishbone and anti-roll bar bushes just to tighten-up that awesome drive.” Now Bally can enjoy all the lows he can eat, so to speak, while still being able to actually drive the car and we like the fact that he’s also done a little bit more than just the bags alone, to allow him to really get the best out that awesome chassis that the E46 M3 is blessed with.
With air on board, Bally decided it was time to up his wheel game but with so many good-looking wheels available for the car, this was not an easy task. It was helped slightly by the fact that he’d always had his eye on the wheels he’s ended up, that being a set of Schnitzer Type II Racing three-piece splits, and they are gorgeous, the metallic grey centres really suiting the whole colour scheme on the car. Where people often go big on diameter, Bally has stuck to a sensible 18” but he’s gone wide; the fronts are a reasonably large 9.25” but the rears are a monster 11.25” across and they fill the arches to bursting, and with it aired out the fitment is perfection.
As far as styling is concerned, Bally has had the front bumper smoothed and it’s been enhanced with the addition of a full carbon fibre CSL front splitter, which not only adds a healthy dose of visual drama but also drops the car even further towards the Tarmac. Moving inside, that vibrant interior didn’t start out life this way and the original seats have made way for a striking red ensemble; “I wanted my M3 to stand out from the rest,” he says, “and after looking at many options it had to be the red Nappa leather, giving the car the Super Man look,” he grins and now it all makes sense. But here too there’s more than meets the eye, and where you might, perhaps, expect to see carbon on a car like this you will instead find that all the interior trims have been finished in Alcantara. “The trims are my favourite mod on the car and they were something I had in mind for a while, but it was a big problem getting them done, with so many companies saying they couldn’t do it and that it couldn’t be done. In the end my dad and I, along with my grandmother, did them together,” and the end result is absolutely unique and wonderful with it. Finally, in the boot, you will find the single air tank and Viair compressor that make up the air ride and, a neat touch, is that with the boot lid being de-badged, the air tank now wears the M3 badge instead.
As far as performance mods are concerned, Bally has so far just added a gorgeous GruppeM carbon intake up front and a de-catted Scorpion exhaust system but it sounds like the next big mod on the to-do list is a supercharger and going by his determination and refusal to give up with any part of the build so far, you can be sure that’s going to happen before too long. There’s no rush though, Bally has no plans to let his dream car go anytime soon; “After now owning the car for two years I’d say it’s an on-going going project that will probably never end,” he chuckles. Bally’s built himself an absolutely beautiful M3, one that’s packed with neat, unique touches that really make it stand out and it’s a car he can truly be proud of. Dreams can come true.
GruppeM carbon fibre intake the only performance mod, for now…
Gorgeous 18” AC Schnitzer Type II Racing splits.
“I wanted my M3 to stand out from the rest and after looking at many options it had to be the red Nappa leather, giving the car the Super Man look”
Alpine double-DIN head unit and custom Alcantara trims.
Red Nappa leather looks fantastic against bodywork.
Custom-mounted Air Lift controller.
Air install has been kept simple and the air tank now wears the M3 boot badge.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Cabrio / #BMW-M3-Cabrio-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E46
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #Scorpion exhaust system with de-cat, GruppeM carbon air intake, six-speed manual gearbox, short-shift kit
CHASSIS 9.25x18” (front) and 11.25x18” (rear) #AC-Schnitzer-Type-II-Racing three-piece wheels with 215/35 (front) and 245/35 (rear) tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance-3P air suspension, #Powerflex wishbone and anti-roll bar bushes, #K-Sport #BBK with eight-piston calipers and 365mm discs (front) and four-piston calipers and 330mm discs (rear) / #AC-Schnitzer-Type-II / #AC-Schnitzer / #Air-Lift-Performance
EXTERIOR #Laguna-Seca-Blue , smoothed front bumper, amber corner lights, gloss black front and side grilles, carbon fibre full CSL front splitter, CCFL angel eyes
INTERIOR Red Nappa leather seats and door cards, Alcantara-trimmed dash, door grab handles and centre console, #Alpine double-DIN head unit, #MB-Quart components front and rear
THANKS A massive thank-you to my family for the support and help putting it all together, Adam and Dav down at Autobahn for the fitting of many parts, Ryan at Ryandetails for the amazing job on the detailing of the paintworkStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationDOUBLE DIP #BMW-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46
Ferocious 545hp supercharged and 715hp turbocharged carbon-clad E46 M3s tamed by one owner. Decisions are hard, especially when it comes to choosing between a supercharged E46 M3 and a turbocharged E46 M3, so why not just have both…? Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andrew Thompson.
545hp supercharged and 715hp turbo E46 M3s
Decisions are never easy to make, especially when you’re faced with two equally appealing options. Chinese or Indian, for example, or cookies and brownies, or pizza and, well actually there’s no alternative option to pizza because pizza just always wins. Sometimes, you don’t even have to decide, like with cronuts, or a turducken, just have everything, because more of everything is always better. For example, why choose between a supercharged E46 M3 and a turbocharged E46 M3, when you could have both? That is exactly what Jaime Taylor did and we’d like to think that decision made his life immeasurably better in every way.
This man is a serial car buyer and modifier with a car history varied enough to make your head spin, including a midengined, RWD Peugeot 205 GTi and a Sierra Cosworth, a scattering of BMs and some serious big-power builds, such as a 511hp Skyline R34 GTR, a 670hp Skyline R32 GTR and a 513hp Audi RS4. Jaime is no stranger to going fast and is clearly hopelessly addicted and devoted to the modifying lifestyle, which makes him our kind of guy, and we guess answers the question: “What sort of person owns a pair of cars like this?”
What’s really interesting here is that this is really a tale of two parallel builds, which were happening alongside each other at virtually the same time. Spooky. We’ve got Jaime, who wanted to build a turbo E46 M3 but ended up going down the supercharged route, and Andy Bennett, who bought the turbocharged car and proceeded to put a huge amount of effort into getting it running as it should, then ended up selling it to Jaime, who’d actually wanted to buy it all along but was beaten to the punch by Andy all those years previously. It’s a twisting tale deserving of its own movie adaptation, so grab some popcorn, get comfy and we’ll begin.
When Jaime bought his M3 in 2014, it already had a long list of tasty bits on it, including carbon front wings and carbon bonnet, a roll-cage, BBK, CSL air box and Recaro RS seats but even better than that it had been fitted with a new engine from BMW and had covered less than 20,000 miles on it. “The new engine was a blank canvas to work on,” smiles Jaime. “At the time I didn’t know any UK company who could turbocharge the S54 but did know a company in the States. We were talking about shipping the car over there to get the job done, but it would have been gone for six months for all the new fabrication work to be done because they hadn’t done a right hand drive vehicle before,” he explains. “In the end, with a new car on the drive, we decided to go down the supercharged route so then the car could stay local,” and that’s a pretty sensible decision as the job could be done much more quickly and he’d have more time to actually enjoy the car.
The supercharger kit comes from VF Engineering, with Jaime opting for VF570 flavour, the company’s most powerful E46 M3 supercharger offering. At its core is a Vortech V3-Si supercharger, capable of running at 26psi and rated for 775hp, so producing the 570hp and 380lb ft that VF Engineering claims for this kit is a walk in the park. The kit also boasts a cast manifold with a slide-in air/water intercooler cartridge and is a serious setup, able to deliver a huge hike in power. Initially, though, that wasn’t the case, as once Jaime had got the car back from being mapped and stuck it on a dyno he found it was only making 499hp.
“On each of the five back-to-back dyno runs we did the power was going down about 20hp every time because of heat soak,” he explains. “The engine was pulling the timing and it couldn’t make the power. To fi x this we got Gary Adlington, who runs Eastwood Garage in Falmouth, to fit an AEM direct port methanol kit from the States. Gary is a genius,” enthuses Jaime, “he put a Cosworth engine in a boat and some other crazy stuff – incredible character and he also worked on Andy’s engine.” Yes, in a further coincidence, both Jaime and Adam used Gary’s services for their respective projects; it’s like fate brought everything together. With the meth injection kit on board it was time to head back to the dyno and this time the numbers didn’t disappoint. “On the first run it made 513hp, 530hp on the second and we finished with 545hp,” grins Jaime and that grin is fully justified as that’s a serious power figure. Of course, running monster power means you need plenty of supporting mods and this S54 has been treated to a Mishimoto electric fan coupled to a larger Mishimoto rad, a 55ºC thermostat, the secondary air pump has been removed along with the air con and it’s all finished off with set of sport cats and a Milltek rear exhaust section.
Handily, the previous owner had done a lot of the groundwork on the chassis meaning the M3 was already in a good position to be supercharged, but Jaime has been upgrading things along the way over the past two-and-a-half years to make sure the car was the best it could be. The chassis has been enhanced with a set of KW V3 coilovers and is joined by Turner Motorsport top mounts and adjustable Turner anti-roll bars both front and rear. In addition to this there are adjustable rear camber arms, poly bushes fitted throughout and there’s also a 4.10 ratio rear diff. The brakes are seriously beefy and more than up to the task of slowing this powerhouse of an M3; up front there’s an Alcon BBK comprising 365mm discs, utilising Reyland brake bells, clamped by red six-piston calipers and braided hoses and Pagid RS-29 pads have been fitted allround while 710 racing brake fluid tops off the brake upgrades. When it came to choosing wheels, Jaime wanted something light and good-looking that would suit his track-orientated build. “Apex wheels were the weapon of choice,” he says, “they’re lightweight, concave and when I was searching for M3 track cars online everyone was running them so they were clearly the wheels to go for.” He’s gone for the Arc- 8, which looks great on the E46, and he’s running a square setup with 10x18s all-round wrapped in sticky Federal 595RS-R tyres.
No doubt a big part of the appeal of this M3 when Jaime was shopping was the fact that it looked so flipping fantastic, with the carbon bonnet, wings and boot lid really giving it a full-on track look and over the time he’s had the car he’s built on that, giving it an even more extreme appearance. “It was actually booked in to have all the carbon painted,” admits Jaime, “but I ended up going against it and kept the carbon on show for an aggressive track look,” and we’re glad he did. The car also wears a carbon front splitter and canards, plus Jaime has carried out a front foglight delete, and added a carbon rear diffuser, all of which combine to really make this M3 stand out and it’s got a lot of presence.
The interior had already been stripped out and caged-up when Jaime bought the car, but here too there was room for improvement and it all started with the seats. “On the first track day I took the car to I realised the seats were too high as we kept hitting our heads on the roof,” he explains. So out came the Recaro RS seats and in went in a pair of Corbeau Club Sport buckets, and Jaime was now far more comfortable and able to actually enjoy driving his M3. Other interior changes include the aforementioned roll-cage, a Safety Devices bolt-in item, an alcantarawrapped wheel from Royal Steering Wheels, full carbon door cards with red door pulls, an AEM hand controller for the methanol injection, a lightweight battery, fire extinguishers and a carbon blanking plate that covers the hole where the sat nav screen once sat. We love the fact that while it is stripped out and most definitely hardcore, it’s been finished to an incredibly high standard with some very high quality materials, and it all combines to make it even more special.
While Jaime was busy getting stuck into his supercharged E46 M3 project, Andy was well underway with getting his turbo E46 M3 up to scratch. Back in late 2013, having just sold a supercharged Range Rover Sport, Andy was flush with cash and looking to buy a second home to rent out. At least that was the sensible, grown-up plan, but one brief eBay session later it had all gone to pot as he’d spotted a turbo E46 M3, this very car, up for sale and, deciding that he couldn’t not buy it, he snapped it up with a sneaky bid in the final few seconds of the auction, unknowingly swiping it away from Jaime.
Not only did the car have a claimed 650hp, but it had also been on the cover of the March 2008 of PBMW, and came with a vented carbon bonnet, carbon bootlid, BBK and ticked just about every box that there was to be ticked. Quickly, however, it transpired that the car was not in rude health, making only 465hp on the dyno, not the figure Andy had been led to believe, as well as suffering from numerous issues to do with the turbo conversion. It was not a happy car. It was decided that a new intake manifold and stand alone ECU were needed, so Andy took the M3 off the road and put it into storage while he saved money for the work it needed. It was at this time that he learned about the infamous E46 subframe failure issue and, after inspecting the state of his M3, he discovered that, lo and behold, the subframe was not in a good way...
While we can’t imagine his mood was particularly good at this point, Andy had a turbocharged M3 and he was determined to make it the best turbocharged M3 he could; where Jaime started his project with a clean slate, Andy had the perfect opportunity to not just fix what was wrong with his M3, but improve everything as he went along, and he’s definitely done that and then some.
Before he could even think about getting the engine running at full capacity, that rear end needed sorting out so the old boot floor was cut out, a new one was welded-in and Redish Motorsport reinforcement plates were installed, along with a box section welded across the boot floor to eliminate any flex. At the same time, the whole back end was poly bushed and the propshaft rubber donut was replaced by an uprated Revshift polyurethane set up. The poly bushing extends throughout the chassis now and the suspension has been thoroughly upgraded throughout to ensure it’s up to the task of coping with a turbocharged S54 above. Naturally the car sits on coilovers but they’re not the usual suspects, this M3 having been fitted with Tein items complete with electronic damping adjustment, and these are joined by adjustable front camber plates and Eibach anti-roll bars front and rear and there’s also a Strong Strut front brace with a Schnitzer item mounted at the back. A Brembo GT BBK takes care of stopping duties, with six-pot calipers and monster 380mm discs up front and 345mm discs at the rear, the red calipers contrasting perfectly against the black spokes of the 19” CSL replicas, themselves fitted with Toyo R888 tyres for maximum grip and traction. When it came to the engine Andy admits that, without the help and knowledge of Gary Adlington, he probably would have given up on the car a long time ago, which would have been a shame as he would not have had the chance to experience the fury of a fully operational turbo M3. The main components required to get the S54 performing as it should were an AEM Infinity 8 ECU, Horsepower Freaks intake manifold and boost pipe, a pair of HKS SSQV4 blow-off valves and an AEM water/meth injection kit. The intercooler was also sent off to have the end tanks cut off and new ones made from thicker aluminium welded on. The final engine spec makes for some eye-widening reading as some serious work has gone into making this S54 as powerful as it is. The turbo kit itself comes from Savspeed Racing and uses a Turbonetics T70 turbo and the engine has been bolstered with a set of Wiseco low compression pistons, Pauter con rods, VAC Motorsports head bolts and a steel-lined head gasket while twin fuel pumps feed 750cc injectors via an Aeromotive fuel filter. The result of all that is pretty spectacular, with four different power maps to choose from: the mildest map offers a sensible 500hp, which we imagine is handy for popping to the shops for a pint of milk, while the wildest map delivers 715hp, which you’d probably use for getting a pint of milk and some toilet paper. Perhaps a cheeky Snickers as well. A Clutch Masters twin-plate paddle clutch has been added to cope with all that newfound power and there’s also a short-shift kit rounding things off.
As with the supercharged car, this turbo M3 is a riot of carbon fibre on the outside, which looks fantastic against the Steel grey bodywork. It wears a Vorsteiner carbon bonnet and carbon front bumper, carbon front wings, a CSL carbon bootlid, carbon rear bumper, carbon side mouldings, carbon roof spoiler, carbon Schnitzer mirrors, even a carbon fuel filler flap. There are more carbon panels on the car now than there are regular body panels, it’s really something, and makes the car utterly spectacular. The interior is has also been treated to a whole heap of carbon goodies, including dash trim, door pulls, steering wheel trim, steering column and gearknob, gear surround and handbrake lever. It’s a veritable feast for the eyes. In the early stages of the project, Andy picked up some rather sexy Cobra Daytona seats, which were already trimmed in black Mercedes leather and black Mitsubishi Evo X alcantara and finished with gold stitching, and they look great in the car, really filling out the interior and making it a rather more special place to sit. They’re mated to threepoint harnesses, which are mounted where the rear seats used to be, and naturally there’s also a host of gauges, we’d have been disappointed if there hadn’t been what with this being a turbocharged car and all. They include an Innovate AFR gauge, a trio of HKS gauges to monitor boost, exhaust temperature and pressure and there’s also a HKS turbo timer ensuring that the turbo stays healthy.
So, man builds supercharged E46 M3 and buys turbocharged M3, drives off into the sunset, lives happily ever after etc, right?
Well, not quite… “It’s a good job Andy pipped me to the post on the turbo car,” admits Jaime, “as he spent a lot of money on this M3, so I really reaped the benefits of all his hard work. It was a pleasure to scratch that turbo M3 itch that I’ve had for years, watching all those turbo M3 videos on YouTube, and it is fricking awesome,” he grins, but after buying the car from Andy last July just one month passed before Jaime had put it up for sale himself. “I needed to try it out for a while to see if I was happy to make this my new track car, and after testing it back to back with my supercharged one I decided it wasn’t for me. I have a bond with my supercharged one and prefer everything else about it, as does my other half, Terrie, and I have to live with her so she has a big say in what I do,” he laughs. Unsurprisingly the turbo M3 sold very quickly but surprisingly Jaime has now put his supercharged M3 up for sale as well, and as we put the last of these words to paper it looks like it may have found a new home… “I’ll be very sad to see it go,” he says, “and so will Terrie as we’ve both done a lot of track days in it and she’s learned a lot from driving it and really enjoys it,” but that’s just how it goes with modified cars, we suppose, it’s very rare for them to have any sort of permanence and selling the cars we’ve poured so much of everything into is a just part of the life we lead. They do say that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, though, and while we’re not sure if Jaime is planning to go as far as this with the E92 M3 he’s thinking of buying next, he can at least say that he’s been the owner of both a turbocharged and a supercharged M3, and there’s not many people that can.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Turbocharged E46 / #BMW-M3 / #Turbonetics / #BMW-M3-Turbocharged / #BMW-M3-Turbocharged-E46 / #BMW-M3-Turbo / #BMW-M3-Turbo-E46 / #HKS / #BMW-M3-Tuned / #BMW-M3-Tuned-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54-Turbocharged / #S54-Turbo , #Savspeed-Racing turbo conversion with #Turbonetics-T70 turbo, #Wiseco low compression pistons, #Pauter con rods, #VAC-Motorsports head bolts, steel-lined head gasket, 750cc injectors, twin fuel pumps, #Aeromotive fuel filter, #AEM Infinity 8 standalone ECU with E46 plug and play harness, AEM water/methanol injection kit with 1000cc and 500cc injectors, #HPF intake manifold and intake piping, custom front mount intercooler, 2x #HKS-SSQV4 blow-off valves, HPF five-way traction control system, custom exhaust system. Six-speed manual gearbox, Clutch Masters twin-plate paddle clutch, short shift kit
CHASSIS 19” #CSL-replica-wheels in gloss black with 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Toyo Proxes R888 tyres, Tein-coilovers with electronic damping adjustment, adjustable front camber plates, Strong Strut front brace, AC-Schnitzer rear brace, Eibach anti-roll bars (front and rear), fully poly bushed, Brembo GT BBK with six-piston calipers and 380x32mm discs (front) and four-piston calipers with 345x28mm discs (rear)
EXTERIOR Steel grey, #Vorsteiner carbon bonnet and front bumper, carbon fibre front wings, side mouldings, AC Schnitzer carbon fibre door mirrors, CSL carbon fibre boot, carbon fibre rear bumper, roof spoiler
INTERIOR Cobra Daytona seats re-trimmed in black leather and alcantara with gold stitching, three-point harnesses, rear seat delete, black alcantara gear and handbrake gaiters with gold stitching, Innovate AFR gauge, HKS boost, exhaust temperature and pressure gauges, HKS turbo timer
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Supercharged / #BMW-M3-Supercharged / #BMW-M3-Supercharged-E46 / #S54-Supercharged / #VF-Engineering / #Apex
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #VF-Engineering-VF570 supercharger kit, AEM water/methanol injection kit, #Mishimoto electric fan, Mishimoto bigger radiator, 55ºC thermostat, secondary air pump removed, airconditioning removed, sport cats, Milltek rear exhaust. Six-speed manual gearbox, 4.10 rear differential
POWER AND TORQUE 545hp, 383lb ft
CHASSIS 10x18” (front and rear) #Apex-ARC-8 wheels with 265/35 (front and rear) Federal 595RS-R tyres, stud conversion kit, 12mm rear spacers, #KW-V3 coilovers with Club spec springs, Turner Motorsport top mounts, #Turner-Motorsport adjustable anti-roll bars (front and rear), adjustable rear camber arms, fully poly bushed, #Alcon BBK with six-piston calipers and 365mm discs with #Reyland bells (front), standard calipers (rear), Pagid RS-29 pads (front and rear), braided brake lines (front and rear), 710 racing brake fluid
EXTERIOR Carbon fibre canards, splitter, front wings, boot, bonnet, rear diffuser, carbon wrap on roof, fog lights removed
INTERIOR Stripped-out, full bolt-in Safety Devices roll-cage, alcantara steering wheel by Royal Steering Wheels, solid steering wheel coupler, full carbon door cards with red pull tabs, RTD short shifter, AEM hand controller for water/methanol injection, Corbeau Club Sport seats, Willans harnesses, water/methanol tank in boot, Odyssey PC950 lightweight battery, fire extinguishers, stereo removedStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGorgeous E46 M3 / Slick E46 slammed, styled and tuned
THE PEOPLE’S CHAMPION / Words: Elizabeth de Latour / Photos: Sunny Ryait
With a perfect blend of styling and tuning mods, this E46 M3 really is the modified package that everyone can enjoy the people’s.
Oh yes, this is what we’re talking about. As much as we love all the air ride, the big wings, the engine swaps, the turbos, superchargers and wild wide-body kits, sometimes you just want something a bit more down to earth, a bit more achievable, affordable, a people’s champion that we can all get behind and enjoy, and Richard Ansari’s E46 M3 is that car. It looks great, that’s going to be your first reaction, because it really does, but as with many seemingly simple builds, there’s a lot more going on here than you might first notice and Richard has really put a lot of love and hard work into his M3 over the past five years.
The E46 M3 dream must have seemed almost unattainable back when Richard passed his test and got behind the wheel of a mighty 1989 Mazda 626. A BMW was going to happen though, there was no doubt about it, thanks to his dad’s decision to run a string of Bavaria’s finest when Richard was growing up, but what really sowed the seed deep down into his brain was the blue E30 325i his dad once owned. “I couldn’t get into BMs right away as soon as I passed my driving test as insurance was one roadblock as well as being a student in my younger years,” he laughs and it wasn’t until he turned 23 that he could finally make that dream a reality. “By pure chance my mate had decided to sell his E30 325i Cabriolet and gave me first dibs on it before advertising it. I knew the car and while it did have some very questionable mods, underneath it all was decent, having had a full respray, no rust, was structurally sound and had cream interior to complement the Zinnober red exterior. It was almost like reliving my childhood with those memories sat in my dad’s E30, but this time I was behind the wheel,” he grins.
Over the next three years the E30 underwent a transformation that saw it ending up with a 2.7 conversion and receiving a feature in these very pages back in March 2007. The E30 was then followed by an E46 330Ci and that path could only lead in one, inevitable direction... “The E46 M3 was a dream car for me,” says Richard, “and when my mate bought one in late 2010 and let me drive it, I made a plan there and then to own one in 2011. I had originally wanted one in Techno violet but, being a very rare colour, it was mission near-impossible to find one, so I started to look at a few other colours as a second option,” he says. That led him to Pistonheads, where he stumbled across this Steel grey Coupé, with a manual gearbox and just 50,000 miles on the clock. Richard grabbed his friend Dips, from Custom Cars, headed over to take a look at the car and ended up buying it. “I wanted to keep this one fairly standard except for a couple of subtle mods, keeping away from doing any more big modifications,” he laughs, “unfortunately, though, once I fitted a set of CCFL angel eyes and black kidney grilles, it was a bit like opening Pandora’s box,” and so we begin…
With the angel eyes and black grilles being joined by a pair of black wing vents, Richard decided to carry on with the styling mods, adding smoked Depo indicators and repeaters and tinting the outer rears to match with Lamin-X film, then sourcing and fitting a set of facelift smoked inner lights. At the rear there sits an AC Schnitzer-style carbon fibre diffuser, which fills out the bumper nicely, along with a genuine CSL bootlid, while up front, a Strassentech-style lip adds an air of menace to proceedings and is joined by a set of Hamann foglight covers, with smoked fogs. Richard says that his plan was to enhance the car’s looks without going crazy, and we have to say he’s most definitely achieved his goal. The styling additions he’s chosen give the M3 a more pumped-up appearance, accentuating its aggressive styling, but without going too far or overwhelming the looks. And, while his first choice of colour may have been Techno violet, we’ve got to say that Steel grey looks really good on the E46 M3.
The suspension has been through a few changes during Richard’s time with the car. He started off small, with just some Apex lowering springs but it wasn’t long before he found himself wanting more adjustment and decided to take the plunge with some coilovers. His first set were from D2 but the car now runs BC Racing coilovers, which offer all the adjustability he could ever want and have allowed him to achieve the perfect ride height. “With the suspension sorted I was looking at big brake kits as the next big upgrade,” he tells us. “For the M3 there are a lot of options and routes you can go down and then, one day, an ad came up for a complete set of AP Racing brakes from Imran at Evolve Automotive. After a quick think, and after checking the piggybank, we did the deal and I picked them up. It did occur to me, not long after that, what would I do if my wheels didn’t have enough clearance, without having to resort to using big spacers, but figured I’d worry about it later. One way or another there was not going be any compromise, so I dropped the calipers over to Dips at Custom Cars to work his magic, turning them from red to orange.
I really like the way they look behind the wheels but beyond that the stopping power is so consistent compared with the OEM setup. I mounted the front wheels to check for clearance and luckily to my surprise only a 5mm spacer was needed,” he says.
As far as the wheels are concerned, Richard didn’t start off small and work his way up to something impressive, he went big right away, kicking things off with a set of AC Schnitzer Type 3 Racing splits, which are a great-looking classic wheel design. But that wasn’t enough for him, he wanted more… “I wanted something a bit special,” he says, “it had to be a three-piece wheel and my ideal choice was a set of Hartge Design C splits, but not only are they rare they also command a huge premium. I wanted something that you don’t see everyday and it had to have friendly offsets, with the aim of building a set of wheels wide enough, without needing any major work to fit straight on and not needing any camber.
After missing out on a set of Oz Futuras, I found some Oz Mitos on German eBay just before whisking my partner off to Marrakech for her birthday; I had an idea of what they looked like on a normal E46 but couldn’t find a set fitted to an M3 anywhere, so I knew this was my opportunity to run something fairly unique. Midway through the holiday, while she was getting ready in our hotel room, I placed a bid just before the auction finished and won,” he grins. Best. Holiday. Ever.
“They were 18s with the right offsets and being the Type 1 version, which are reverse mounted, are pretty rare in a BMW fitment. As soon as they arrived I went down to Dips for a test fit and we worked out what lip sizes to run front and rear. Originally they came as 8.5x18s and 9.5x18s and I really wanted to run an 11” wide wheel at the back, so Dips started the strip down of the wheels for a full refurb. He ordered 3.75” lips for the rear and moved the 2” lips to the front making the new setup 9x18” and 11.25x18”.
We knew an arch roll was needed, so Dips got that sorted and, with fresh Continental tyres fitted, we mounted the wheels. Seeing them built up and fitted on the car I knew I had made the right choice,” he grins. “They just completely changed the way the car looks, but not only that, the fitment is perfect too, with no rubbing or any negative camber required to aid with clearance.”
With the car looking on point as far as styling was concerned, Richard popped his bonnet and took a good, long, hard look at the engine bay. “At first I had no real plans on doing any engine mods,” he admits, “that is until a group buy came up for some Geoff Steel Racing air boxes on the M3 Cutters forum. After reading the feedback on it and with a bit of encouragement from forum members I went ahead and placed a pre-order.”
Usefully, as part of the group buy, Evolve joined in with a special offer on Alpha N remaps to go with the air boxes so, with his sexy new carbon air box fitted, Richard headed up to the company’s Luton HQ to get the car remapped. “These cars make anywhere between 320-330hp on average,” he explains, more than a few ponies shy of BMW’s 343hp claim, “and originally mine made 321hp. After fitting the airbox and mapping it, we saw 349hp, which was a very nice gain and was noticeable on the road. As well as that is the induction noise you get as soon as you floor it. It makes such an awesome roar you never get tired of it and want to hear it more and more,” he says with a grin. “To complement the airbox for sound and for a little extra power, I fitted a set of 100 cell cats paired with an Eisenmann Race rear box, which has given a better throttle response through the rev range. To finish off I got the holy grail of exhaust manifolds, with a set of Supersprints, which very rarely come up for sale. They were brand new but never fitted and I soon snapped them up to complete the setup.”
While he may have been sorted for power, that carbon air box was showing up the rest of his engine bay, so action needed to be taken. Obviously carbon was the way forward, and Richard began to develop a little bit of an obsession with the mesmerising weave. First came an intake cover that fits over the existing item but also partially covers the front of the air box, and once that had been fitted, obsession became unstoppable addiction. Desperate to feed his habit, Richard read up on and briefly considered having a go at carbon skinning, before he found Prapan, who runs NVD Motorsport, and saw his carbon-skinning talent. Quick as a flash, Richard had removed his emissions pump, xenon ballasts and ECU cover and handed them over for skinning in 2x2 weave to match the air box and also asked for a pollen filter cover. The six week wait to get the parts back was absolutely worth it but when it came to getting the rocker cover skinned, the cost of postage and import duty was proving prohibitive.
Richard found himself a slightly more local carbon skinner by the name of Jaydee Customs, over in Poland, who duly skinned the aforementioned rocker cover, leaving Richard with virtually nothing left to cover in carbon. The finishing touch here in the engine bay is a rather sexy and substantial Rogue Engineering strut brace. And now we come to the interior, because of course Richard couldn’t leave that alone either, and we’re glad he didn’t.
Originally, his M3 had been fitted with the black leather interior, nice but a bit plain and, for Richard, lacking contrast against the Steel grey exterior. “I didn’t want to settle for red,” he says, “so I searched for a year until a rare Cinnamon interior came up on E46 Fanatics. It wasn’t a sale but a straight swap for black leather, offered by a chap called Mark who was working for Nitron Racing at the time. So after a brief chat on the phone we arranged for me to come down to him one day and we both swapped out our interiors at the premises. For me it made such a huge difference, not just the fact it was a nicer place to sit in now, but it goes so well with the car.” We have to agree as we’re big fans of coloured interiors, they make such a nice change from the usual dour shades, and Cinnamon is seriously lush.
It’s further complemented by matt dark myrtle wood trim, an unusual choice for an M3 and an extremely rare trim option, but it’s absolutely gorgeous and looks so good here. The steering wheel has been re-trimmed by Royal Steering wheels, with extra padding, cinnamon stitching and a cinnamon centre stripe while the gearknob has been replaced with an illuminated F10 M5 item with matching gaiter, mounted on an E60 short shift for crisper gear changes. Finally, Richard’s most recent interior mod, is the Awron gauge mounted in the driver’s-side centre air vent. “It was a bit of an impulse buy,” admits Richard, “I saw a demo of it on YouTube and when I saw they had made them for the E46 I got one ordered. It goes nicely with the dash and it’s a nice bit of kit, displaying various parameters from intake temperatures to O2 sensor voltages along with a G force meter and loads more functions.”
It’s taken Richard four years to get his M3 to where it is now, and he couldn’t be happier with the result of all that work. “I think where it is now I have found that place where I wouldn’t change much else,” he smiles. “A full respray is on the cards next, in the original colour, and I want to get the map tweaked with the addition of the exhaust mods. But my long term plan if I can is to keep the car and hopefully one day give it to my son,” which would be an amazing gift, and something very special for that young man to hold onto. So, does that mean Richard’s hanging up his modding hat for now? No… “I have an E30 325i Cab which I bought over four years ago as a project car so, with the help of Dips, there are some big plans for it. Watch this space!” he says with a smile and you can be sure we will be.
“… I think where the car is now I have found that place where I wouldn’t change much else”
/ #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Tuned-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned / #Evolve / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #OZ
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #Geoff-Steel-Racing carbon fibre air box, #Evolve-Alpha-N remap, #Supersprint-V2 exhaust manifolds, 100 cell race cats, #Eisenmann Race rear exhaust section with 83mm tail pipes, carbon fibre engine cover, emissions pump cover, ECU cover, xenon ballasts and pollen filter cover, Matt Haley billet aluminium oil filter cover, #Rogue-Engineering one piece strut brace. Six-speed manual gearbox
CHASSIS 9x18” (front) and 11.25x18” (rear) three-piece #Oz-Mito wheels with 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Continental ContiSportContact 3 tyres, #CA-Automotive stud conversion kit with Motorsport Hardware wheel nuts, BC Racing BR series coilovers, Revshift 80a subframe bushes, #AP-Racing-BBK with six-pot calipers and 356mm discs (front) and four-pot calipers and 328mm discs (rear), custom orange calipers
EXTERIOR Original Steel grey paintwork, Strassentech-style front lip with carbon fibre insert, Hamann fog light covers, smoked fog lights, black kidney grilles, black wing vent grilles, 4000K CCFL angel eyes, Depo smoked indicators and side repeaters, carbon fibre black and white bonnet and boot roundels, AC Schnitzer carbon fibre rear diffuser, OEM CSL boot lid, Lamin-X smoked rear lights, Eagle Eyes smoked inner boot lights
INTERIOR Full cinnamon interior swap, matt dark myrtle wood trim, re-trimmed padded steering wheel with cinnamon stitching and cinnamon centre stripe, F10 M5 gear knob and gaiter, E60 V8 short shift kit, Awron digital vent gauge
THANKS Dips at Custom Cars for his input and direction over the years, Teddy at SSDD Motorsport, Prapan at NVD Motorsport, Jaydee Customs, John at carbolts.co.uk, Evolve Automotive, Alex at Elite Car Care, Jack at Royal Steering Wheels, all my friends, family and my understanding wife for supporting my passion for cars over the yearsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFIRE 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 todayStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationWhat goes around comes around, so they say, and Nickel Mohammed’s ever-evolving M3 comes around more than most - it’s always changing and we had to catch it quick before it changed again… Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: #C3Photography .
BOLT FROM THE BLUE Turbo wide-body E46 M3 Cab
The old saying that ‘lightning doesn’t strike twice’ is a load of toffee. It’s not just possible that lightning will strike the same part of the Earth more than once, it’s basically inevitable; whether it happens within a five-minute span or twenty million years apart, every square inch of the planet gets it full in the face at some point, and then again, and again. And so it is with a certain sense of inevitability that, in the same vein, feature cars can also strike twice. Regular readers may be squinting at this boisterous E46, trying to figure out where you’ve seen it before… and to answer that niggling query, you recognise it from the cover of our January 2014 issue. But fear not, it’s really quite different now to how it was then. You don’t just walk into a Performance #BMW feature you know, these things have to be earned on merit. And Nickel Mohammed’s shouty M3 has earned another spot here thanks to its constant evolution and mould-breaking styles.
So how’s it different now? Well, for one thing it’s significantly less powerful. No, wait, come back! This is a good thing – you see, last time we saw the car, its turbocharged S54 was running 800hp, but Nickel’s since detuned this to a rather more manageable 630hp (which is still frickin’ loads), as the car is developing in line with his driving style, as well as to suit the chilly climes of New York City. There’s no point boasting a flag-waving horsepower figure if all of those rampaging ponies are uselessly spinning themselves away at every corner, is there? Definitely far better to have a robust stable of usable nags.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll begin at the beginning, shall we? “I purchased this car brand new, and back then you had to be put on a waiting list,” he recalls. “I signed myself up, and six months later the car was shipped… the wrong car in the wrong colour! I wanted a silver convertible, and they delivered a black coupé. But determination is a damn thing – I said to them OK, put me back on the list, I’ll wait.” And when the desired drop-top did eventually arrive, was Nickel keen to start tearing into the thing according to some grand overarching modification plan? “To be honest, no,” he shrugs. “Not at all in fact, I reckoned I’d keep it stock. The thing was expensive! And I was still young, I couldn’t afford all that stuff. Although I did try – 20” rims and so on, all those terrible choices I made!” Ah, the impetuousness of youth. Inevitably the M3 was going to end up modified, it was all part of cosmic destiny. It just took a little time for the car to find its way.
“I’ve built it up and changed it so many times in different directions, the timetable’s kind of all over the place,” he says, when we try to pin down the chronology. “I knew that the mechanical stuff had to be done first, and that started with the engine back in 2011…”
This was no half-hearted undertaking, with Nickel throwing every one of his chips on the table to get the car ideologically transformed by the lunatics at #HorsepowerFreaks . Their revered Stage 3 turbo conversion brought the howling S54’s peak power up to a stupendous 800hp. These bolt-on kits require no cutting, wiring or welding, and are designed for durability as well as awesome power. But what else would you expect for $30,000+?
Don’t go thinking ‘bolt-on’ means ‘simple’ though. Engineering a car to run these sorts of numbers is a thoroughly in-depth task – hence the cost – and it took HorsepowerFreaks around a year to build up, test and refine Nickel’s motor. But that fastidiousness of engineering has paid off, as the built motor has held up strongly since. “I drive cars hard, I drive them till they break,” he laughs, “but the only thing I’ve wanted to change on the engine in all this time is adding the AEM Infinity ECU - that thing is superb, a learning computer; I mean, big-ups to those techs that take the time to build these things that adapt to your driving!”
This attention to cleverness carries on beyond the engine and into the chassis. The suspension offers up an intelligent middle ground between coilovers and air-ride, comprising #KW Variant 3 coilovers with their cunning Hydraulic Lift System, which offers instant ground clearance at the touch of a button. “I wanted to run the car low enough to drive the city streets of NYC - which are terrible - but still be able to raise the front of the car to clear driveways and speed bumps,” Nickel explains. “In all honesty I feel KWs are the best thing made for this car when it comes to suspension.” The last time this car appeared in these pages it was running full air-ride, so you know this is a considered opinion.
The wheels come from famously pricey custom house, Luxury Abstract. “I’ve had so many wheels before, but these Grassor- Rs were just built for this car,” he grins. “The NeoChrome finish is a neat effect, tying into the Lamborghini pearl paint, and the width and depth really accentuate the body structure.” And you can’t really miss that body, can you? The wide arches are custom hand-fabricated in steel, 1.5” wider at the front and 2.5” out back, thanks to the craftsmanship of Martino Auto Concepts in Long Island. The extra girth is augmented by a V-CSL front bumper and carbon-fibre ducktail boot lid from Vorsteiner, further enhanced by the addition of a Brooks Motorsport Elite carbon wing, along with a set of carbon-fibre side skirts.
The interior has also been comprehensively re-worked since we last saw the car. Inside, you’ll find a pair of fully reclining Manhart #BMW Performance race seats, important for Nickel as, in his own words, he’s sucker cruising with the seat back and the music up, which brings us neatly to that impressive audio install. “I always wanted an empty trunk to carry bags in, so I removed the existing music and had my electronics sponsor build me a system that would not only look superb, but sound phenomenal and not take up any trunk space. I had my rear seats taken out and my racing harness looks like it’s actually going into my audio system. That was an idea I came up with because I didn’t want to fit a roll cage to the rear of the car as it wouldn’t look as clean and it would be too bulky.
“There are a lot of stylistic paths you can follow, it takes a lot of time and due diligence,” Nickel reasons. “You have to research, figure out what has been done and what you can do to make it your own. That’s the key to building a car, how do you make it your own; how does it reflect your personality? That has to come from within.
You have to choose, but that’s why you go on the Internet and talk to your friends and family, and even your techs and people that work on your cars and filter information to help you make your choices. I must have a form: function car. Can’t have a monster in the closet and not be able to let it out because you’re scared that it may attack you! Cars are meant to be driven, and yes they break - you fix it and do it again.”
Admirable sentiment, and it really helps to illustrate the power behind the build. Yes, this car’s an internet-breaker, but Nickel hasn’t just been ticking boxes on the scenester checklist. The fact that it’s such a personal thing is also key to why he changes the spec so frequently. He’s been cherry picking parts from the aftermarket for a decade now, as well as commissioning his own, and Nickel’s not showing any signs of stopping yet – as long as there’s air in his lungs, this M3 will keep evolving.
“You’re never done with a project, not ever,” he says. “There will always be new technology, things that you’ve seen and never got a chance to do.” We ask what his favourite part of the car is right now, and he laughs. “Man, there’s not one part of it that I like more than another, because from the top to the bottom it’s my personality, you know? I love it all. And the key to having a dope build is being able to get in and just have a drive. That’s what it was made for. It’s tuned for cruising NYC.” Damn straight. Nickel’s currently working on his E30 M Tech II Convertible, but we all know that the E46 is his baby. It’s been his from new, through thick and thin, and it’s not going anywhere. Lightning will keep on striking.
DATA FILE Turbo #Wide-Body / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body-E46 / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body / #BMW-M3-HPF-E46 / #BMW-M3-HPF / #AEM / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #HorsepowerFreaks ( HPF ) #HPF-Stage-3-turbo-kit , #HPF-titanium-exhaust-system , #AEM-Infinity-ECU , #HPF carbon-fibre intake ducts, HPF methanol injection, #Rogue-Engineering oil filler ca. Six-speed manual gearbox, E31 850i clutch components with #HPF-Feramic-Stage-3-clutch , #OS-Giken-Super Lock Spec-S LSD, #UUC-Motorwerks engine and transmission mounts
CHASSIS 11x19” (front) and 13.5x19” (rear) #Luxury-Abstract-Grassor-R wheels with 245/35 (f) and 305/30 (r) tyres, #KW-Variant-3 coilovers with #Hydraulic-Lift-System, #HPF-330-subframe reinforcement plates, #HPF carbon fibre strut braces, HPF under braces, #Powerflex race subframe bushes and trailing arm bushes #StopTech #BBK with six-pot calipers and 380mm discs (front), four-pot calipers with 355mm discs (rear)
EXTERIOR Custom steel wide-body, Lamborghini #Blu-Cepheus-paint (three-stage pearl), #Vorsteiner-V-CSL front bumper and ducktail boot lid, #Vorsteiner-GTS3 carbon-fibre side skirts, custom E30 M3 bonnet hinges, OEM BMW hardtop, custom dual-xenon headlights, #Brooks-Motorsport Elite carbon-fibre rear wing with #NeoChrome brackets
INTERIOR Manhart #BMW-Performance race seats, #Schroth harnesses, AEM fuel pressure and 100psi oil pressure gauges, rearview mirror gauge interaction, Kenwood 6.95 double-DIN DDX9902S head unit, JL Audio Monoblock HD1200/1, JL 4-channel amp, JL Evolution C3, JL 12” subwoofer, custom audio box with moulded plexi and LED lighting trimmed in OEM BMW leather, Rydeen reversing camera
THANKS #Motorcepts (Master Tech), Intrack Tyres, #S&R-Paint , #NeoChrome , #Luxury-AbstractStream 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.
- Post is under moderationWith killer styling, perfect stance and an S54-swap , 2M Autowerks’ E46 is an absolute feast of awesomeness. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Viktor Benyi.
Werk it 2M S54 E46 Spectacular Stateside #M3-powered , metal #wide-body-3-Series.
We’ve been around for a long time. We’ve seen a lot of modified cars over the past 19 years (and 209 issues) but we love the et excited by some of the cars we come across. It’s a sign that we’re still in the right job and a sign that you out there in modded #BMW land are doing something very right. And it doesn’t get much more right than 2M Autowerks’ painfully good E46.
This is the sort of car that leaves you a little bit breathless. It’s the sort of car you can spend forever looking at and never get bored of. It’s the sort of car that just feels so utterly complete that it makes you question everything you thought you knew. You’re probably feeling exactly that way right now; don’t deny it…!
The man behind this build, and one half of 2M Autowerks, is David Mendoza – a self- confessed petrolhead through and through. And, unlike a lot of the big show builds we come across, this E46 is his own personal car which he’s owned for 16 years now. It’s that sort of long-term attachment and commitment to project cars that always makes us feel warm inside. “I’ve been into BMWs ever since I could remember,” says David, “but once I was able to purchase a car and actually be behind the wheel, that’s when it became even more special.” We can see how stepping from a hand-me-down Toyota 4x4 into an E46 would have felt very special indeed. “I absolutely loved the lines on the E46 and knew I had to have one,” he says. “Ideally I wanted to get an M3 but at the time I was two years into college at San Diego State University and knew my limits, so I had to settle for the #BMW-330Ci-E46 .” And while it may not have been an M3, the #330i is such a sweet package that, as far as compromises go, it barely counts.
It all began, as these things so often do, with some simple mods and while David did have a plan, it didn’t pan out as he envisaged. “When I bought the car it was Jet black and the first thing I did was get rid of the amber corners, reflectors and side markers,” he says. “At first I started with just simple exterior modifications: wheels, tyres, clear lights, springs, and a Dinan cold air intake. I left the car like that for years and years.
Then my brother and I opened up 2M Autowerks and I started to play around a little more with the cars. I ended up basically doing everything and anything I could.” He’s not kidding…
This is one of those builds where there’s so much amazing stuff going on that it’s difficult to know where to start but seeing as the first thing that hits you is the styling, let’s start there. One of the many, many things that we really like about David’s E46 is that he’s not gone down the default Sport or M3 bodystyling route; yes, there are a few elements but the car has retained its SE essence and this is bolstered with rather a lot of custom work. The front and rear bumpers are both SE items but here they’ve been enhanced with Hamann lips that have been blended in, resulting in a perfectly smooth and unique look that makes a refreshing change from the norm and gives this E46 a bold, distinctive presence. The M3 bonnet works really well with the car’s overall look and is matched to a pair of M3 mirrors, still arguably the best-looking E46 mirrors about, and M3 side skirts to fill out the car’s profile. What you might not realise is that those front arches are also M3 items; David has had the side vents welded shut for a much cleaner, smoother look which definitely seems to be the theme with this E46. The most impressive part of the whole is, without doubt, that fat, all-metal wide- body rear end with its massive pumped-up arches. They really endow this E46 with monster road presence. It’s a great combination of styling elements and the whole package is complemented by a dazzling Imola respray – which we think is far more suited to a head-turning build of this calibre than blend-in black.
All this would be for nought, however, if David had fallen at the wheel hurdle, but there never really was any danger of this happening considering the rest of the work going on here. “Back in #2002 , I initially went with an OEM+ size and a set of staggered 19” iForged Senekas,” says David. But once the wide-body conversion had been completed, the 8.5” and 9.5” widths just weren’t going to cut it. A three-piece wheel with a stepped lip was at the top of his shopping list and that’s exactly what we’ve got here. You’re looking at a gorgeous set of Aristo Forged MJKs, a size down at 18” across but massively wider to fill out those newly pumped-up arches, 9.5” wide up front and a serious 11.5” at the rear. They’re finished in custom matt Oro paint, which looks perfect against that bold red body.
The car’s stance is no less perfect. The killer ride height has no air behind it, however, as this E46 is all static, slammed on a set of Status Gruppe SRS coilovers which bring the arches to within a whisker of the tyres. In addition David has fitted a set of UUC anti-roll bars.
Now, the #BMW-330Ci is a brisk machine, powered as it is by BMW’s rather wonderful M54. But considering everything else going on with this project, it was never really going to cut it especially with David’s long- standing desire for an E46 M3. As good as the M54 is, the S54 is just a bit better – so that’s what you’ll now find in the engine bay. Once glance at that engine, however, will tell you that it’s most definitely not standard.
And that’s because just an engine swap wouldn’t have sufficed; David wanted to extract maximum power from that awesome straight-six. Up top, there’s a set of custom 2M Autowerks E46 velocity stacks handling the intake side of things, with an Alpha N tune by RK Tunes along with a set of Turner Motorsport pulleys. At the other end of the engine you’ll find set of 2M JSP custom stepped race exhaust manifolds which connect to a UUC TSE1 exhaust. David also fitted an Earl’s oil cooler and a Mishimoto high performance radiator, which has since been changed for a CSF race rad. It’s not just the engine that has been worked on; the engine bay too has been given plenty of attention to ensure that this E46 turns as many heads with the bonnet off as it does with it on. David carried out a wire tuck and then welded up any excess holes for a super-smooth look. Then he added a custom cabin air filter and brake covers, before finishing the engine bay off in cement grey, which delivers a striking contrast to the bold and bright Imola bodywork. The cement grey really was an inspired choice, and is not what you expect to see when the bonnet is up, or off, and it definitely makes you look twice. With the engine swap completed the E46 had the performance it deserved but, as the old adage goes, power is nothing without control, and so the stock front brakes were removed and replaced with a pair of substantial Porsche 996 calipers, though you’ll be hard pushed to spot them as they too have been painted in cement grey with just a red Brembo logo, making this possibly the most discreet BBK setup we’ve ever seen. The calipers themselves sit on Rally Road brackets and are mounted around ECS tuning two-piece CSL discs with braided hoses for good measure.
You might think that after all that, by the time he got to the interior David may have run out of steam, but you’d be dead wrong; he’s really gone to town in here. Step one: the seats. The stock items have been unceremoniously ejected and replaced with a pair of utterly gorgeous Recaro Speed items finished in black leather with red stitching.
They are joined by some choice Alcantara items which include a Colby handbrake gaiter and gear gaiter (both with M tricolour stitching), plus a Colby Alcantara steering wheel with matching stitching and a red centre stripe. The front doorcards and rear side panels are gorgeous CSL carbon fibre items, while the rear is dominated by an Autopower half-cage with harnesses and topped-off with a custom rear seat delete. The finishing touch is a splash of Oro paint on a few trim areas and the cage itself, which adds a unique touch of colour.
It’s impossible to dislike an E46, they’re such good cars. And this is arguably one of the best we’ve seen. David has clearly poured a vast amount of money and love into it and the end result is so complete. Well, other than the addition of a carbon roof, which David will fit in a few months. Once that’s on, this car will be completed for good – and it’s rare to be able to say that about any project. David has already started on his next build, an S85 V10-swapped E46 track car, as well as an E36 PTG-style track car, but don’t worry, this E46 isn’t going anywhere. All that’s left for David to do now is ‘werk’ it. Lucky chap!
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #2M-Autowerks / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-2M-Autowerks / #BMW-M3-2M-Autowerks-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #Aristo-Forged /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 #S54-swap , #2M-Velocity stacks, #2M-JSP custom stepped race exhaust manifolds, #UUC-TSE1 exhaust, #Alpha-N tune by #RK-Tunes , wire tuck and excess holes welded, engine bay painted cement grey, custom cabin air filter and brake covers, Earl’s oil cooler and fittings, #Mishimoto high performance radiator (now CSF race radiator), #Turner-Motorsport underdrive pulleys, six-speed manual gearbox, #UUC short-shift kit
CHASSIS 9.5x18” (front) and 11.5x18” (rear) #Aristo-Forged-MJK three-piece wheels in custom matt #Oro-paint with #Motorsport-Hardware 70mm (front) and 90mm (rear) stud kit, 255/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Falken FK453 tyres, #Status-Gruppe-SRS coilovers, #UUC anti-roll bars, Porsche 996 brake callipers (front) painted cement grey with red #Brembo logo on #Rally-Road brackets, #ECS-Tuning two-piece #CSL discs, stainless brake hoses
EXTERIOR Full respray in Imola red, Hamann front lip blended onto SE front bumper, black kidney grilles, M3 bonnet, M3 front arches with side vents welded shut, M3 mirrors, M3 side skirts, custom all-metal wide-body rear, Hamann lip blended onto rear bumper
INTERIOR Recaro Speed front seats with custom leather and red stitching, Autopower half-cage painted in Oro with harness, CSL carbon fibre front and rear doorcards, Colby Alcantara steering wheel with and red centre stripe, Colby Alcantara handbrake and gear gaiters with M tricolour stitching, multi-touch- screen head unit, Oro painted trimStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- 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.