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    FIRE LIGHT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    THANKS Special thanks to Performance Technic, the team there has been so integral in bringing my build to where it is today
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    Edison Hwang’s E92 M3, the ‘Gold Dragon’, fuses shouty V8 thrills with a track-ready chassis; it’s a lightweight carbon fibre racing terror with a comfy interior for the journey home. And it’s won a ridiculous number of trophies… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: LopezArts.

    ENTER THE DRAGON

    Carbon-kitted E92 M3

    To understand the ethos behind this rather outrageous E92 M3, you must first get to grips with the conceptual difference between wet and dry carbon fibre. The former is what most people would picture when they hear talk of carbon parts – the glossy stuff has an epoxy either painted onto or vacuum-infused into the woven strands; it’s strong, light, and cheaper to produce than dry carbon. But the dry stuff is the next-level formula – more costly to make, but around 70% lighter while being just as strong, each specific weave being epoxy-coated while it’s crafted. So it doesn’t have the glass-like sheen of a Halfords gear knob, but it’s far superior as a functional material. And if you scale up this sense of focus to a whole car-sized entity, you arrive presently at this golden E92.

    Now, this is a car with an identity crisis. A balls-to-the-wall track car, but still a proper M3 with quality interior appointments and a clear sense of the fusion of luxury and performance. Just look at the colour for evidence of this conflict – this car has been custom-painted in a rich and vibrant shade of Ferrari Rosso Scuderia paint. But you don’t know it, because it’s hiding under a vinyl wrap in lurid Candy Lime. This, it’s fair to say, is a machine with tales to tell.

    Its owner, Edison Hwang, has one or two stories of his own as well. “I’ve been into BMWs since I was about thirteen years old,” he explains. “The whole journey’s been a kinda crazy story. As a car guy and a mechanic, I love the power of the M3 and the way it handles, and there’s just no logical reason for me not to modify it. When I started changing up this car, I made a lot of new friends – my Timeless Motor Group – and now we always go to events together and help each other out. And the real turning point was when we went to SEMA in 2013: arriving at the Las Vegas Convention Center, seeing all those top-flight builds from all over the world, I had a voice in my head saying that I had to build a car worthy of this show.”

    With a mesmerising swirl of images circling through his subconscious from that epochdefining show, Edison put careful thought into pinpointing just what his ideal spec would be, before rolling up his sleeves and diving headfirst into the project. At the top of the wish list was Vorsteiner’s dry carbon fibre GTRS3 wide body kit, comprising beefed up wings, bumpers, rear quarters, bonnet and ducktail boot all in the revered and magical weave. “It was fitted at Blanco Services in Maryland,” he says, “and it took six months to get the fitment perfect! Moulding the rear quarters, custommaking the arch liners, making uniform shut lines, and painting it all in Ferrari red.

    It’s really a lot of work to make it perfect show car quality, and after the wide body was complete I added more details to the car, including the APR racing spoiler, APR front splitter (which I take off for regular street driving, due to height issues), bumper canards, DTM-style side mirrors, and carbon fibre parts everywhere.”

    Those of you familiar with SEMA builds will know that you’re not even going to make it through the door if your car’s all show and no go; the very nature of the event dictates that cars represent a holistic approach to aftermarket modifying and, as brutally rapid as a stock M3 is, standard powertrains are a definite no-no. “The car used to run an Active Autowerk Stage 3 supercharger,” says Edison, “but I actually decided to remove it right after I showed my car at SEMA 2014, since I love the sound of the NA S65 engine.”

    So now that glorious V8 rumbles unforced as BMW intended, but augmented boisterously by a supremely intelligent exhaust system specifically tailored to bellow out an F1 howl. Back when the wide body conversion was underway, Edison had plenty of time for his mind to wander. Six months is a long stretch. So it’s unsurprising that the car found itself treated to a diverse platter of additional treats during this period; a roll cage and a set of custom-built headlights being chief among its fresh new trinkets. A GT wing topped off the exterior, while inside was adorned with a pair of Status Racing seats and a veritable festival of dry carbon goodies. The M3 was given a name – ‘Red Dragon’ – and it scooped up an armful of awards on its first outing.

    Rolling into the Carlisle Performance and Style Car Show in Pennsylvania, all eyes turned; rolling back out again afterwards, the Dragon was toting trophies for Best BMW, Best Paint and Finish, and Best in Show. Not bad. But that was just for starters…

    “It started winning ‘Best in Show’ at every event I took it to, the judges nicknamed it ‘Competition Killer’,” Edison smirks. “But I knew it still wasn’t a SEMA car, there was more work to be done. So I put more effort in, changed a few things, and finally earned a place on the Rohana Wheels stand. My dream had come true, all the effort was worth it.” But success, it’s often said, is like a drug. We can’t all be Nico Rosberg, achieving the perceived pinnacle of our aspirations and saying ‘OK, I’m done now’. Having tasted the sweet tang of success, Edison was all-in for more. “I wanted to go back to SEMA the next year,” he grins, “and that meant changing a lot of things again.”

    A helpful career turn arrived at this point, with Edison joining the Rolloface Performance Inc. family, and this pushed him to level-up to the next great thing. This was when the mighty big brake kit came, and a Rolloface driver’s seat, and various DTM touches, and… then he crashed the car in New York City. Or rather, someone crashed into the back of it in heavy traffic. Game over for the season, the car was done showing for the foreseeable future. Dark times for a trophy addict, but did this leave Edison downhearted? No! (Well, yes obviously… but not for long.) His resolve hardened, he worked more tenaciously to create a scenebreaking E92, the like of which the world had never seen.

    “It was ready for SEMA later that year,” he smiles, playfully slapping fate across the chops with his mighty gauntlet of skill. “Fixed up better than new and with fresh custom parts, I decided at the last minute to wrap it in an acid yellow-green.” An inspired decision, this, since everyone would be expecting that Ferrari red to make another appearance. This game is not won by playing to people’s expectations. “There it was, the ‘Gold Dragon’. A new roll cage went in at the last minute, there was more of an aggressive racing style – the car certainly got a lot of attention.” And, as you’d probably logically assumed, Edison didn’t close the book on the M3 there. This car has always been, and will always be, about being harder, better, faster, stronger. He’s owned it since it was brand new, and it’s pretty safe to say that the warranty evaporated long ago, but ardent petrolheads care not for such trivialities.

    “The M3 really is the ultimate driving machine, and the naturally aspirated V8 suits it so well,” he says. “It was always the intention to turn it into a car like no-one else had. At the moment it’s running Rolloface Performance ZR-1 forged three-piece wheels, which are really strong and lightweight, as well as Rolloface Performance three-way coilovers, and I’ve upgraded all of the chassis components to race-spec – I just love the handling that race parts provide! The big brake kit’s probably my favourite mod on the car, as it provides incredible performance on track as well as looking fantastic, but I also really love the functional nature of the carbon body parts.” And that’s pretty much where we came in – that form-meets-function quality of dry carbon fibre.

    Edison’s got plans for the M3, in the form of a new custom diffuser, Ferrari F12 rain light, carbon intake system and so on, and the keystone of all he does is this: quality speaks for itself. You may see a lot of wet carbon cars at your local meet, but if you want to get into SEMA, it’s a dry carbon state of mind. “I believe that if you do something sincerely, the whole world will help you,” he says. And we certainly wouldn’t want to argue with that.

    / #Carbon-Fibre / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-Carbon-Fibre / #BMW-M3-Carbon-Fibre-E92 / #Akrapovic-Delete-R / #Akrapovic / Akrapovic / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92

    DATA FILE

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 / #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 , #Rolloface racing intake system, custom oil cooler and transmission cooler, Macht Schnell Performance underdrive pulleys, #Kreissieg titanium floating curl tail exhaust with cat-back F1-sound valvetronic system, Macht Schnell bypass track pipes, Akrapovič Delete-R, tuning by Frank Smith Custom Tune. Seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox

    CHASSIS 10x19” ET0 (front) and 12x19” ET-40 (rear) #Rolloface-ZR-1 three-piece forged wheels in gloss black with titanium bolts and 275/30 (front) and 325/30 (rear) Toyo Proxes T1 Sport tyres, #Macht-Schnell wheel studs, Project-Kics-R40 open-end black chrome wheel nuts, #Rolloface-RT-3 Competition Racing three-way adjustable coilovers, custom-rate #Swift springs, #Macht-Schnell electronic dampening control emulation module, #Bimmerworld adjustable rear toe arm set, adjustable rear wishbone set (camber adjustable), spherical rear guiding link set, trailing link bearing set, rear camber arm bearing kit and spherical front race arm conversion, #Rolloface-SR-C big brake kit with eight-piston (front) and six-piston (rear) yellow powder coated forged aluminium calipers and 380mmx32mm slotted high-carbon discs (front and rear), Rolloface Performance stainless steel brake lines (f&r), Pagid-Racing RST race brake pads (f&r), Motul RBF 600 Factory Line brake fluid

    EXTERIOR #Vorsteiner-GTRS3 dry carbon fibre kit comprising front bumper, front lip, wide-arch front wings, side skirts, wide-arch rear quarters, rear bumper, bonnet and CSL-style boot lid, APA Gloss Candy Lime vinyl-wrap (with custom Ferrari Rosso Scuderia paint underneath), AeroCatch 120-2100 locking system, AutoTecknic carbon fibre wing grilles and bonnet vents, BMW M Performance black kidney grilles, Macht Schnell Motorsport tow straps, #APR-Racing-GT-250 dry carbon fibre GT wing, Rolloface custom dry carbon fibre chassis-mount front splitter, M4 #DTM-style front canards, mirrors, aero panel under chassis and rear diffuser, front lower grille painted gloss black with BMW M logo, AutoTecknic 24 SMD LED indicators, OSS Design Raptor M4 DTM-style square angel eyes with LCI inner eyebrow, white LED side-markers, Jet Black blackout and M inner logos


    INTERIOR BMW M Performance Version 2 steering wheel, #BMW-M-Performance aluminium pedals and footrest, #BMW rear sunshade, BMW LED door projectors, custom dry carbon fibre shift paddles and airbag emblem, AutoTecknic carbon fibre steering wheel trim, #Storm-Motorwerks V1 titanium PVD coated handbrake handle, Awron DGA 20-in-1 gauge with Kompressor 1 option, Rolloface dry carbon fibre interior trim kit, Rolloface custom track roll cage powder coated in matt gunmetal grey, #Rolloface dry carbon fibre driver’s race seat, Status Racing custom Spa passenger seat trimmed in leather with bespoke stitching, red Schroth Racing PROFI II ASM FE four-point cam-lock harnesses, Vorsteiner mats, racing fire extinguisher, LED interior lights

    THANKS #Rolloface-Performance , #Toyo-Tires , #Meguiars , #CSF-Radiators , #OSS-Designs , #Schroth-Racing , #Pagid , #Swift-Springs , #APR-Racing , #Motul-USA , #Blanco-Services , #RRT-Racing , #Tuning-Tech-by-Frank-Smith
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    4.6 V8 1 SERIES Totally transformed 135i

    SLAKE THE INTERNET

    What started out life as an unassuming 135i is now a fire-breathing, 1M-kitted, 4.6 #V8-powered beast.

    It’s an inescapable fact of modern modifying that if your car becomes known online, everyone will have an opinion on it. But this is a good thing – use the love as inspiration, use the hate as fuel, and keep pushing forward… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.

    “People have very interesting reactions to my car, it sparks a lot of discussion,” says Marco Svizzero, the chap standing proudly beside this rather perky little 1 Series. “It’s an entirely modified bastard, and yet it still seems to appeal to the purists…”

    This is a pretty punchy way to set out your stall – after all, that quasi-mythical entity of ‘the purists’ is a notoriously hard bunch to please (although goodness knows why you’d want to try), so to shoo away the perennial spectre of internet hate by appealing to the very people you expect to annoy is something of a fortuitous crapshoot.

    Still, objectively – at least, objectively from a PBMW point of view – there’s nothing not to love about this car, given that it’s effectively an M3 stuffed inside a #BMW-1M-Coupé-E82 to create the ballistic #V8-1-Series that BMW didn’t think to experiment with. That’s a great way to get into our good books. “This was really my first big car build, and I never intended for the project to go so far,” Marco ponders with the measured consideration of somebody who’s been on a lengthy adventure and is struggling to come to terms with the notion of being home again. “It just snowballed, and once the project got some traction on the forums and partners like Revozport and Performance Technic got involved, it all went to another level.”

    This, of course, is the price of notoriety. Once news of your project starts to spread, and the myriad chattering keyboards of the internet start to throw a few opinions around, there really is only one way forward: go big. The ‘go home’ alternative just isn’t an option at this point; the world is watching, you’ve committed to something, you have to see it through. Your audience insists. You’ve got new fans now, they need to be appeased. And the haters? Oh, there’ll always be haters. They need to be figuratively smacked down with the iron fist of decisive action.

    “I chose a 135i as the base for my project as I really like the size of it,” Marco explains, “and I love how tunable the N54 engines are. It’s so easy to get reliable horsepower out of those motors with simple modifications.”

    You’ll have spotted, however, that the N54 straight-six is no longer in residence. That’s sort of the point of this car now. So what gives, why did Marco change his mind? “Well, as I was taking the car on track more and more, I started to run into heat issues,” he says, “so I decided to swap a V8 motor and M3 chassis into the car.”

    Okay. We’ll just let that sink in for a moment, shall we? It really is a masterstroke of lateral thinking, taking such a decision and following it through, and he’s earned the right to be charmingly self-effacing about it. Most people in this situation would have thought along the lines of ‘alright, we have some cooling issues, let’s look into revising the coolant system, maybe upgrade the radiator and intercooler and open up some more vents,’ but not Marco. Oh no. One suspects that he wanted to shoehorn an M3 inside his #BMW-135i-Coupe all along.

    “I wanted the instant throttle response of a naturally aspirated engine, as well as robust cooling and an 8600rpm redline,” he says matter-of-factly. Well, yeah, swapping in an E9x M3 under the skin is the obvious solution, isn’t it? It was foolish of us to even question it. Carry on, Marco…


    “The swap is so much more than just the motor,” he elaborates, as if trying to justify it to an irate spouse or suspicious bank manager. “It’s the M3 steering, the complete front and rear subframes including the suspension and axles, the diff, the brakes, and cool features like M Dynamic Mode.”

    And there, as the Bard might say, is the rub. If you were skimming through a forum post and looking at photos of Marco’s car, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the story here centred around a non-M 1 Series that had been converted to 1M aesthetics. And to a degree, you’d be right, as that is what has happened – what started as a stock 2008 135i bought from Craigslist soon ballooned into a broad and angry 1M clone, its strong look accentuated by the exemplary body addenda on sale from Revozport, its Raze series offering a lightweight bonnet, bootlid, carbon fibre roof (which neatly deletes the 135i’s sunroof), splitter, diffuser and GTS wing. But the body, as we know, is only half the story.


    The fun of building something like this, particularly something that’s so keenly observed online, is that there will always be ill-informed haters to bait. ‘It’s not a proper #BMW-1M ,’ they’ll say. ‘Why spend all that money on making a fake 1M when you could just buy a real one? Why pretend, why lie?’


    Marco takes all of this in his stride, with a wry smile and an eye perennially on the next phase of development. “No, it’s not a 1M, and it will never be one,” he says. “The only way to get a real one is to buy one. My car will not bear an M badge on the trunk!


    Besides, by crunching numbers for a partout and sale of my car and using those funds toward purchasing a 1M, I would have to add a lot of money on top for a very similar car.” But forget mathematics, that’s not why we build project cars. A car is just a big hole to throw money into, we don’t modify them because it’s sensible. No, the unspoken truth here is that Marco’s car isn’t a 1M because, well, it’s an M3. It just looks like a 1M…

    “When we started looking into donor M3s, they were still expensive here in the States so I actually ended up buying a car in the UK, which was dismantled and sent to me in pieces,” Marco recalls. “Once everything was sent over, Performance Technic began the build. The most difficult part was the wiring; Performance Technic has two BMW Master Techs – Matt Medeiros and Wing Phung – who tackled the project, and once the car was built we brought it to Mike Benvo of BPM Sport. Benvo cleaned up, coded and tuned the car – he is another very valuable partner in the entire project. His knowledge in coding is unmatched! These guys were extremely focused on making everything look and operate like a factory car, and I applaud them that they pulled it off.”


    As well as being OEM-quality in terms of all the buttons and gizmos, and thus eminently streetable, Marco was certainly having a lot of fun with his transformed 135i, with its 4.0-litre S65 under the bonnet and M3 underpinnings. Let’s not forget that this V8 isn’t a lazy rumbler like those of his domestic heritage; while Detroit thuds, Bavaria howls, and this engine is a proper screamer. “It really was just like a smaller, lighter E9x M3 – the naturally aspirated 1M I wanted to make all along,” Marco grins.

    Wait… “was”? “Yeah, I decided to go a bit over-the-top,” he laughs. “The S65 only weighs 15lb more than the N54 so the factory balance was still spot-on, but after a little while I swapped the motor out for a Dinan 4.6-litre stroker motor.” Well, you know what they say about how power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. Marco seems to be pretty happy about that.


    “It really is my perfect BMW and I couldn’t be happier,” he beams. “I enjoy the car at the track, taking it to the major BMW West Coast events, rallies, and simply staring at it in my garage! It’s a car that when people see it at events, they stop and look at it – often for a long period of time. Even with the old-skool purists; I’ve received a lot of compliments from the older, more traditional BMW crowd.” This makes sense really, as it is a pure BMW at heart: a focused driver’s machine, and with nearenough undiluted factory DNA under the skin. It just happens to be suffering a smidge of body dysmorphia, that’s all.


    Again, this can be the price of notoriety. Marco’s car has always enjoyed the internet spotlight, from its early PR tie-in with Revozport to those fledgling days on the show scene before the hungry swarm of smartphone lenses, to Performance Technic’s high-profile endeavours to make the first V8-powered E82 in the USA. Then there was its triumphant Bimmerfest showcase on the Toyo stand, the countless online profiles, the numerous show awards, the online video reviews espousing its virtues as ‘the best BMW you could possibly build at any price’, the Time Attack entries, the world-first stroked S65 conversion… this car lives in a fishbowl, its every move observed and analysed. And every barbed comment that curveballs toward it gets knocked out of the park.

    We’ll leave the final thought to Performance Technic founder Joey Gaffey: “This car is a project that we all kinda fell in love with. It’s a project we thought was probably something the engineers at BMW Motorsport thought of themselves…” And that, in essence, is the thinking behind Marco’s original idea for the madcap swap, and also why the purists love this impure creation. It’s a car that #BMW should have built. Thanks to the ingenuity of these fellas, it now actually exists, albeit as a one-off. The internet demanded results, and it got ’em. What a time to be alive.

    I enjoy the car at the track, taking it to events and simply staring at it in my garage!


    DATA FILE 4.6 #V8 #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i-V8-E82 / #BMW-135i-V8 / #BMW-135i-S65 / #BMW-135i-Dinan / #BMW-135i-Dinan-S65 / #BMW-135i-Dinan-S65-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-E82 / #BMW-E82-Dinan / #BMW / #CAE-Ultra / #VAC-Motorsports /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION Dinan 4.6-litre stroker #S65 / #BMW-S65 / #S65B46 #V8 / #S65-Dinan / , #BPM-Sport custom tune with 8600rpm redline, #iND custom plenum, Dinan intake, Dinan pulley, VAC-Motorsports baffled sump, #Black-Forest engine mounts, #Akrapovic axle-back exhaust, custom X pipe, #Braille 21lb battery, CAE Ultra shifter, OEM M3 differential

    CHASSIS 10x18” (front) and 10.5x18” (rear) ET25 HRE 43 wheels with 265/35 (front) and 275/35 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, M3 front and rear subframes including suspension and axles, #PSi-Öhlins Raceline coilovers, #Racing-Dynamics anti-roll bars, #Dinan-Monoball kit for front control arms, #Bimmerworld rear wishbones, Dinan adjustable toe arms, Turner MS transmission bushings, #Turner-MS aluminium subframe and diff bushings, Dinan carbon fibre strut braces, #Stoptech-Trophy-BBK with 380mm (front) and 355mm (rear) discs, OEM GT4 brake ducts

    EXTERIOR Full 1M body conversion, Revozport 1M Raze bonnet, boot and lip, carbon fibre roof, splitter with APR splitter supports, diffuser and GTS wing, Macht Schnell tow straps


    INTERIOR #BMW-Performance V1 steering wheel, gaiters and carbon fibre trim, #BMW-1M-E82 armrest delete, #Recaro-Profi-SPA seats, #Revozport #BMW-1M Raze doorcards with Alcantara inserts, P3 vent gauge, OEM 1M Anthracite headlining and pillars (for sunroof delete), #TC-Design harness bar, #Schroth six-point harnesses, #VAC hardware and floor mounts, Alumalite rear close-off panel


    THANKS Joey Gaffey, Matt Medeiros, Wing Phung and the rest of the team at #Performance-Technic , Charles Wan at Revozport, Mike Benvo at BPM Sport, Stan Chen at ToyoTires, Jason Overell at Targa Trophy, DTM Autobody and Sam at AutoTalent
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    Gorgeous bagged #BMW E30 with an #S52 swap and shaved bay

    KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY

    In the same family for almost 30 years, this ridiculously clean E30 has undergone quite a transformation in that time. Some heirlooms leave a more lasting impression than others, as we discover when we meet Nick Lanno from Ohio. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Patrick McCue.

    It’s not often a car stays in the same family for almost 30 years, yet this 1987 325iS is the very same car that delivered Nick Lanno – the subject of our story – from hospital when he was born, and 15 years later became his first car.

    That was in 2009, and Nick, now aged 22, has completely transformed the car from what it once was. He takes up the story: “My father bought the car brand-new from David Hobbs BMW in Chillicothe, Ohio, and he drove it on a daily basis right up until my teens, so it was always in the garage while we were wrenching on other vehicles together. That’s where my passion for cars started.”

    Nick couldn’t help but fall in love with the E30 and as soon as he was old enough he began to research these cars. That’s when he got hooked on the blue and white roundel, as he explains: “The fact that they are truly a driver’s car is what attracted me to them the most. The heritage and history behind all these classic BMWs that people own is so interesting and they almost always carry a great story. I love every car BMW has made to this day and I will always be a BMW enthusiast.”

    This was the car that took Nick to school, to soccer games, to friends’ houses, you name it – it was a huge part of his life and quite often he would while away the hours thinking how incredible it would be to own it one day. In 2000 it went into storage, and then, much to Nick’s surprise, nine years later it was taken out of storage and given to him on his 15th birthday! His childhood dream had come true.

    “There was no other E30 I would rather have had than this car. It was perfect and despite having clocked up 120k, it was immaculate; all OEM parts, original paint, absolutely rust-free, and it had a full service history,” he recalls.

    Needless to say it did not stay 100 per cent original for long. In fact, the first thing Nick did as soon as it was in his possession was lower it on a set of Ireland Engineering race springs. Other modifications included all red tail-lights, smoked Euro Smiley headlights and side repeaters, a later model front valance and a Zender rear valance. Shortly after that, the car then went back into storage so that over the next few years Nick could save some money and let the real transformation begin.

    Once again it was the suspension that demanded Nick’s attention first: “After pouring through different forums looking at the various setups, I knew that to get the drop I really wanted I’d have to look into a custom air-ride setup.” Up front he’s installed Air Lift’s Crafter Series struts, while Air House II bags and Bilstein shocks reside out back. The rear spring perches were modified for the bags, as were the front spindles for the struts. The system is managed by Air Lift’s Autopilot V2, with plenty of presets all at the tip of Nick’s fingers in the centre console. “The setup is so convenient, making road trips as comfortable as can be, yet the car still handles fantastically in the corners. I have the best of both worlds,” he adds.


    The car remained in this guise for the next three months, until one fateful day when the timing belt from the original M20B25 snapped. This prompted the next stage of the build. “I sourced a low-mileage S52B32 out of a 1999 M3 from a good friend in Cincinnati with roughly 70k on it,” Nick says. “I completely regasketed the motor from top to bottom, as well as safety wiring the oil pump nut, before fitting 21.5lb injectors, a lightened flywheel, and a 3.5” intake setup.” Together with a few friends, the swap took about a week to do. Apparently the maiden voyage with open headers put one of the biggest smiles on Nick’s face to this day. Not surprisingly it came to life as a completely different beast that day.

    After two years of driving it across the States to various shows, Nick wanted to take the car to a new level – he wanted to shave, tuck and customise the engine bay. Fortunately a good friend of his owned a body shop so once Nick had pulled out the engine to take care of tidying up the wiring harness and deleting any non-essentials such as air-con and power steering, the car was sent off for six months to begin its transformation. “Everything looks so neat and beautiful under the bonnet now, but the star of the show has to be S52. It is so reliable and has plenty of power to make the car feel a blast to drive. It brings a smile to my face every time I’m behind the wheel.”


    Whilst this car’s spec is a far cry from when Nick’s father bought it all those years ago, it’s still managed to retain its factory charm. And that’s because his objective throughout the build has been to keep things clean, simple and classy. The same philosophy has been applied to the cabin of the car, which is relatively stock save for the Nardi steering wheel, custom stitched M-Tech style gear knob and gaiter and Coco mats, which are all period-correct for the car. “I wanted the car to retain its original feel,” Nick says. “I’ve even kept the seats, which are fairly worn now, but it gives it character.”

    Like any true project, the car has gone through various incarnations of wheels, including BBS RSs and CCWs, but Nick eventually settled for 8.5x16” (front) and 9.5x16” (rear) Schmidt TH Line wheels shod in 205/40 rubber that you see on the car now, and we have to say that they suit the stance, lines and age of the car perfectly.


    This is not a car created with a blank cheque book; it is a car with tons of sentimental value to the owner and gradually improved over time with the help of friends and family. It’s been built to drive and to enjoy, it doesn’t sit in a garage or on a trailer and we love the fact that whilst Nick put his own stamp on it he’s taken a wholly sympathetic approach in his choice of modifications. Now it’s finally complete all he plans to do is simply drive it. “It has taken a lot of effort to get the car to where it is today but it was a journey which has led me to meet a lot of fantastic friends and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. The car is a big part of me and something I am most definitely proud of.”


    Along with the life lessons and skills that a father teaches a son, there are also certain material things that you pass down – like a tool kit or, in Nick’s case, a dream car. In these increasingly disposable times, fewer and fewer items are worth saving and giving to your children, so we hope Nick sticks to family tradition and passes his treasured 325iS to his own son or daughter.

    DATA FILE #BMW-325iS #S52 air-ride #E30 / #BMW-325iS / #BMW-325iS-S52-E30 / #BMW-325iS-S52-Air-Ride-E30 / #BMW-325iS-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #S52B32 / / #BMW-S52 / #Bimmerworld / #Getrag-260 / #BMW /

    ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / , 21.5lb injectors, 3.5” #Euro-MAF , 3.5” #Bimmerworld-Silicone intake boot, air-con and power steering delete, #M42 radiator, TMS remap, Condor Speed Shop engine mounts, custom longtube headers and 2.5” exhaust including #Vibrant race resonator; shaved, tucked and resprayed engine bay

    TRANSMISSION OEM #Getrag 260 five-speed gearbox, #Sachs-HD clutch, #MWorks-Garage custom transmission crossmember, #Condor-Speed-Shop Speed Shop transmission mounts, lightweight flywheel

    CHASSIS 8.5x16” (front) and 9.5x16” (rear) #Schmidt-TH-Line wheels with 205/40 (f&r) Nitto Neogen tyres, #Air-Lift universal front struts, #Air-House II rear bags, #Bilstein rear shocks, #AutoPilot V2 management including five-gallon tank and #Viair-400C compressor, drilled and slotted brake discs and Hawk pads, brake booster delete, E21 master cylinder, tucked brake lines, stainless steel braided clutch slave line

    EXTERIOR Later model front valance, iS front spoiler and bootlip, smoked Euro Smiley headlights and side repeaters, all red tail-lights, #Zender rear valence, #Shadowline trim

    INTERIOR Nardi Classic steering wheel, custom stitched #M-Tech-style gear knob and gaiter, Coco mats, #Dynamatted back seat and boot

    THANKS All of my good friends in BHC, and those that had a hand in the build, my father and Anthony at ASC Autoworks

    Front end, like the rest of the car, is incredibly clean, with a late model valence and iS front spoiler. #AutoPilot-V2 management offers eight presets and countless options; gorgeous 16” Schmidt splits suit the E30 perfectly.

    The car is a big part of me and something I am definitely proud of.
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