- 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 moderationSHOWOMAN SHIP BAGGED #BMW Z4
Jaw-dropping wide-body roadster. With her bagged wide-body Z4, this young lady can teach the boys a thing or two about modding. You want show-stopping, jaw-dropping, eye-popping? This Z4 delivers all that, and even more… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Kevin King Uy.
Take a good look at this Z4. Drink in the details, the extravagance and the sheer amount of modifications. Regardless of whether or not it’s to your style or taste, it’s one hell of a build, and it was built by a 22-year-old college student. Not only that, but this isn’t just Monique Song’s first project car, it’s her first ever car. Where the hell do you go from there?
By her own admission, Canadian Monique was not particularly interested in BMs or even European cars. “When I was deciding on my first car, I looked into a lot of different models and asked around for suggestions. At first I thought about getting a GTR, then looked into buying a Dodge Charger because it would be pretty badass to drive the same muscle car as the police, then I looked at Mustangs… This Z4 wasn’t planned, I’d never even thought of a European car until I walked into a BMW dealership. A family friend knew the sales guy there so we went to visit. While we were chatting and looking up inventories, a blue Z4 3.5i came in and it fitted my needs. I liked that fact that it was a convertible so I could enjoy the sun, and that it was small and girly, which suits me. I see the car as a little sister who accompanies me wherever I go, so I named her ‘Hitomi’ – it’s Japanese, meaning ‘eyes, the eye that sees pretty things, the beauty and wisdom’. I think a Z4 should be a girl and I want her to be a beautiful, smart girl.
“I didn’t have a plan when I first got the car. I barely knew how to mod it at first and this project has been a learning process for me. There’s still lots to improve but for my first modified car, but I think I’m doing well.
Speaking of modification plans, if I had had a plan while choosing this car, I wouldn’t have bought an E89 as there are barely any aftermarket parts for this model,” she says, but looking at her Z4 you’d hard pressed to tell. As these things often do, Monique began with a set of wheels, Vossen CVTs, before things started getting more serious. “After fitting the wheels, I realised the wheel gap was too big. It looked like the car was tiptoeing, so I lowered it on bags and worked a lot stuff on top of this, including camber arms, to make the fitment more satisfying.”
The ensuing year-and-a-half resulted in the car you see before you now. As Monique has already touched on her choice of suspension, that seems as good a place as any to start dissecting this build. Her reasoning for going with air was simple: “What suspension lowers the car but can also easily get over speed bumps? Air suspension!” she exclaims. “It wasn’t until I started seriously researching air suspension that I realised how good bagged cars can look. However, there were no E89s on bags at the time, which meant I had to be ‘the first to eat a crab’. It’s a Chinese saying…”
Monique went for the E36 Air Lift air-ride suspension components along with a Megan Racing E85 Z4 camber arm kit and had them custom-fitted to her E89. For management, she went with AccuAir with the controller nicely nestling in her clip-on cup holder.
The air-ride steered the direction of the rest of the build, and from that point on Monique knew her Z4 was going to be a stance car, and that dictated the styling too. “I’ve seen lots of photos online of the Duke Dynamics project Z4 in Japan and I decided that that was what I wanted for my car. It has some GT3-inspired elements to it but the kit is clean looking and not too crazy for street driving. The only thing missing on the kit is a lip. Luckily, Duke Dynamics is based in Vancouver and I managed to get in touch with the owner who made a carbon fibre lip just for my order,” she says.
The Duke kit replaces all the OE body panels, meaning nothing needed to be cut and everything can be reversed if Monique ever changes her mind. “Lots of people ask me if my car is an M model or some sort because it looks more like from factory than a bolt-on wide-body,” she adds. “Unfortunately, the actual fitment of the kit isn’t very good. Europa fitted the kit for me and it took the team there a month and a half to put it together, but they really did their best to make it what it is right now. The kit contains almost all of the pieces except doors, mirrors and the hard-top.
“Painting the kit isn’t much different than painting the whole car so I thought I’d change the colour to create a more dramatic makeover. I loved the original blue too much to remove it all, so I decided on white with a small amount of blue pearl, which really comes through in the light.”
There was still something missing, though… “After staying on the ground with this kit for a while, I noticed the rear bumper was too high up in the air while the front lip was right against the ground. So I got side skirts and a GT3-style diffuser custom-made by Aero Flow Dynamics when I was in LA, and that really helped the car to look even lower when it was on the ground.” The finishing touch involved wrapping the roof to give the illusion of having a soft-top on the car. “I got the idea from the velvet-wrapped cars I’d seen,” explains Monique. “I got the roof wrapped in black velvet when I had the car in LA. The wrapping guys were all confused as to why I wanted that material but after it was done they knew the reason. It really looks like soft-top! I get a lot of questions about it because a lot of people have never seen anything like it!” she laughs.
The styling, however, is no laughing matter as this Z4 is obscenely aggressive. Up front there’s that big splitter and at the rear sits that vicious diffuser – literally, as it has claimed countless ankles whilst parked – with its curved fins below that swathe of carbon fibre. It has to be said that the widebody itself is relatively subtle, no doubt thanks to the fact that the panels are all new rather than piggy-backing on the standard body. The work put in by Europa to get the fit and finish perfect has certainly paid off. Even the most comprehensively styled car is only half done if it’s on the wrong wheels, and with that kit (not to mention the fat arches that needed filling) the Vossens simply weren’t going to cut it anymore. “I like blue and wanted to keep more blue elements throughout the car, so the wheel colour had to be blue. I also needed something in a negative offset to fit the wider body so my choice was narrowed down to custom ordering a set of threepiece wheels. Thanks to Europa Auto Design and SR Auto, I got a pretty good deal with PUR Wheels; the LG02 design I went for just came out not long ago and it’s something I’ve never seen before. It’s very unique and it doesn’t have too many spokes which makes cleaning a nightmare.”
The 19” LG02s look awesome in blue, the angular spoke design definitely stands out from the crowd. The centres are complemented by the Mevius neon blue lug bolts, with mirror polished stepped lips and polished bolts, and the small matter of the massive six-pot Brembo front brake kit visible through the spokes.
The big brakes are not overkill because this Z4 is not just for show – under that long bonnet sits the vastly tunable twin-turbo N54 straight-six, just ripe for a few go-faster parts strapped to it, so it would have been rude of Monique not to indulge. “It started with a ride in a friend’s Subaru STI. I saw this cool COBB Accessport gauge and decided to get one for my car. After reading the manual I found that if I wanted to go to a higher stage, I needed lots of other stuff. I ordered AR Design downpipes soon after, then got an aFe intake from my friend’s 335i.
I got the silencer removed so the car is basically straight-piped now, which sounds amazing and the exhaust gets a lot of attention. At the end of 2014 I got a sponsor deal from STETT Performance for its FMIC, chargepipe and a blue Tial BOV. I then did some engine dress-up, adding coloured bolts and a custom painted engine cover.” That comprehensive list of engine mods means that Monique has at least 400hp to play with, meaning the Z4 has the performance to back up its neck-snapping looks.
If you thought the exterior was loud, you’d best get your earplugs in because things certainly don’t get any quieter inside. The blue-and-white theme has been carried over to the interior with unbridled enthusiasm and dedication, and it really helps to tie the whole build together.
Originally, Monique’s Z4 had been spec’d with some questionable wood trim, which she unsurprisingly felt didn’t belong in a sporty roadster, so she had it wrapped in brushed blue, which looks fantastic, as do the Bride single-piece buckets.
“Initially, I got a pair of bucket seats from Status Racing, but it wasn’t a great experience. Not only was the product not what I asked for, but the company also sent me the wrong base mounts. It doesn’t have them for the E89 but claimed that E85s and E89s use the same ones, which is not possible at all, as not a single hole lined up.
The seats were also too wide for the small Z4 and rubbed against the door and centre console. Bride was the only company that had the correct base mount for my car so I got the mount from there instead. Also, at the time, a friend was selling his Bride Zeta 3 and Zeta 2 seats so I got both from him. Thankfully, when I later attended SoCal, I met up with another friend who swapped their Zeta 3 for my Zeta 2 and I now I have a matching pair.”
Monique had similar woes when it came to finding the right steering wheel, as she explains: “I got a Vertex Seven Star steering wheel because I loved its stitching design and the red, blue and white colour combo. It was sitting in the living room for the whole winter until spring, when it was finally warm enough for the heated steering wheel to go away. I couldn’t find a steering wheel hub for my car so I tried to fit the E90 Momo hub and it worked. After fitting the blue quick release boss from Worksbell, I realised that the Vertex’s deep dish style made the steering wheel too close to me and too far for me to reach the turn signals comfortably. I had it in the car for 15 minutes before deciding to get a flat-faced one. Luckily, I was in LA at the time and Evasive Motorsports has lots of steering wheels in stock so I walked in, picked up a Personal Pole Position one and that’s what I’ve got in the car now.”
We mustn’t forget about the air install in the boot; Monique’s favourite modification on the car. “It’s nothing as crazy as those cars with mass amounts of hardlines and lights,” she says, “but I played with the word ‘bagged’. The air tank was painted as a NOS tank and sits inside a bag. It looks hidden in a natural way. Since I still drive the car quite often, I need a functional trunk. With the bag as protection, I can slide things in without worrying about breaking any pipes.”
Monique has put a huge amount of work into this car and not only was the experience most definitely a learning curve, having unknowingly chosen to modify a car with so little aftermarket support made the whole experience that much tougher, but she persevered and can now enjoy the fruits of her labours. It’s certainly not a shy, subtle build, but it is an incredibly comprehensive one. This is a build with no stone left unturned. It is an astonishing achievement for someone so young with no prior experience of the modifying world and in one fell swoop she’s put the efforts of a lot of older, more experienced people out there to shame. We can’t wait to see what she does for her next trick…
This Z4 has quite literally been bagged, with the fun boot install both a talking point and good way of keeping the hardware protected.
Blue-and-white theme carried over to the interior, with trims wrapped in brushed blue, and Bride seats.
DATA FILE Air-ride / #BMW-E89 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-Z4-Air-ride-E89 / #BMW /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #N54B30 / #BMW-N54 / #N54 , Stett Performance front mount intercooler, Stett Performance charge pipe with white paint, #Tial BOV, #COBB-Tuning #AccessPort-V3-Stage-2 , AR-Design cat-less downpipe, #aFe Magnum Force Stage 2 Pro 5R intake system, Downstar accessories including blue engine dress-up bolts, custom painted engine cover and power braces, custom muffler delete exhaust, burnt titanium quad tips, six-speed automatic gearbox.
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) PUR LG02 three-piece wheels with candy blue faces and polished lips with 225/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Falken FK452 tyres, custom fit #AirLift-Performance E36 air suspension, #AccuAir #AccuAir-E-Level management system with custom ‘bagged’ trunk setup, custom-fit Megan Racing E85 Rear control arm, #Mevius neon blue lug bolts, #Brembo GT six-piston front big brake kit.
EXTERIOR #AutoTechnic matte black kidney grilles, Duke Dynamics full widebody kit (front bumper, front wings, side skirts, rear fenders, rear bumper), Duke Dynamics power-vented hood, carbon fibre rear diffuser, #CSL bootlid, custom carbon fibre front lip, Aero Flow Dynamics custom side diffusers, Aero Flow Dynamics custom rear diffuser, custom paint using white base with blue pearl, hard top velvet vinyl wrapped, 88% window tint, tail-light tint, #LuxAngeleyes H8 V4, #WeissLicht LED white turn signal bulbs, interior xenon bulbs, custom boot switchable ambient lights.
INTERIOR Brushed blue vinyl interior trim wrap, #Bride seat rails, #Bride-Zeta-3 bucket seats, Bride head cushions, Bride blue fashion protectors, 350mm Personal-Pole-Position steering wheel, blue #Worksbell Rapfix 2 quick release, Momo steering wheel hub for E90/E92 custom-fit to E89.
THANKS Europa Auto Design, SR Auto Group, PUR Wheels, NightRunner International and all of my sponsors. Also to all of the shops that I’ve been to and friends who have offered valuable help in any form. Most importantly, thank you to my parents for accepting their daughter’s hobby even though they don’t really like it.
The car sounds amazing and the exhaust gets a lot of attention.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFast orange. Of sixties BMWS the E9 is the most admired of all, and of these the 3.0CSL E9 is the one to have. A potent lightweight homologation special built to allow BMW to enter touring car racing, the CSL has become a legend in the four decades that have followed. However, you won’t see another like this original Irish example... Words by Jack Kingston. Photos by Andrew Pollock.
/ #BMW-E9 / #BMW-3.0-CSL / #BMW-3.0-E9 / #BMW-3.0-CSL-E9 / #BMW / #1972 / #M30 / #BMW-M30
For those of you old enough to remember the first motoring part-works 'On Four Wheels', a free A2 poster came with one of the issues. It was a full-colour cutaway image of a Group 5 racing #CSL , and it hung on my bedroom wall for years. I later turned it into a banner that now hangs on my garage wall. Such was the allure of that car that I later bought an E9 CSi in silver, which I thoroughly enjoyed for a few years. I now have the opportunity to test this CSL owned by Niall O'Sullivan from Limerick, and to see how much better it is than the standard car.
There are two features of this CSL that immediately stand out; the registration plate and the colour. 272 CRI was sold in Ireland in 1972, and is the only CSL registered in Ireland from new that we are aware of. Only 500 right-hand-drive cars were produced in 1972/1973 for the British market, and these were more civilised than the stripped-out left-hand-drive versions for the Continent - all RHD cars came equipped with the ‘City Pack', which was also an option on LHD cars. Total production was just 39 more than the 1,000 needed to homologate the CSL for the European Touring Car Championship. Alongside the more sober colours of the period, BMW offered three paint schemes for the truly extrovert - Tiagra Green, Canary Yellow and this Inca Orange version. The strength of this colour reinforces what is arguably one of the most beautiful coupes that BMW have built, spawned from the awkward-looking 2000 CS with its shorter bonnet (only four cylinders) and lack of a full-width grille, sporting only the BMW centre “kidneys". Speaking of colours, the #1972-Le-Mans-CSL was the first of the so-called "Art Cars" (by Calder, Stella and Lichtenstein) that led to a string of unique paint schemes that blended technology, design and art into a successful racing package for BMW.
One cannot write about the CSL without referring to its racing development, as this is what defines the car and is essentially its raison d'etre - it evolved from the CSi in order to win the European Touring Car Championship in the early seventies. There were a couple of problems that mitigated against the BMWs beating the winning Capris on track: too much weight, a propensity to eat tyres and a feeling of rear- end steer from the independent suspension layout. By hiring the men from Ford who made the Capri a winner, BMW set out to take the ETCC championship. This they did by the use of light weight (hence the name 'Coupe Sport Leicht) and the use of aerodynamic aids to stop the car moving around on track. As these were homologated, the road-going examples had to be to the same specification. So, first was the diet: thinner- gauge steel on the bodywork, aluminium doors, boot and bonnet, thinner glass and a Perspex rear window, a plastic rear bumper, no carpets, no wooden dashboard and, critically today, absolutely no rustproofing of any kind, ensuring that they will rot absolutely everywhere and making the survival rate low and the cost of restoration high. These measures knocked about 3 cwt. (150kg) off the weight, while power from the fuel- injected three-litre straight-six remained the same at just over 200bhp. Aerodynamics were taken care of by adding a deep front spoiler, air splitters on the wings and a roof spoiler that directed air down to a huge rear wing, which could be seen to bend in the middle under the 70lbs of downforce it generated. All this stopped the car sliding about wearing tyres, and tamed its manners enough to finally beat the Capris. The racing versions were nicknamed 'Batmobiles' thanks to their giant boot spoilers, but only just over 100 were delivered in road- going form with the full aero-kit fitted. BMW went on to race the CSL in Group 5 with a turbo engine, aluminium 24-valve head, 750bhp and a top speed of 200mph!
The period Hella spotlamps tie in perfectly with this car's seventies motorsport character. The bucket-style rear seats are a unique touch.
The recent mechanical refresh saw the suspension and brakes completely torn down and rebuilt, with all bolts and fasteners going to the zinc platers in the process. The original brake calipers were found to have hairline cracks and had to be replaced, while all rubber bushes were changed. The KW coilovers were built to order using the original struts, due to the E9's relative rarity
The interior is an interesting combination of 'gentleman's carriage' wood trimmings and competition componentry, but is purposeful and full of character.
The 3,003cc straight-six is completely standard in Nialis car, but the Bosch fuel-injected mill is good for a smidge over 200bhp and sounds fantastic.
The good news for owners was that they could buy into all of this racing glamour by simply ordering a CSL from the showroom. Race on Sunday, sell on Monday, as Ford used to say. The British buyers did not favour the extreme specifications of the German lightweights, and the 500 cars delivered in RHD were better kitted out. Because of the unfavourable exchange rate with the Deuchmark the cars worked out at over £7,000, and BMW Concessionaires felt that buyers wouldn't pay this high a price for a stripped out road car, so they were all specified with the additional City Pack, which comprised of a heated rear window, racing steering wheel, Scheel adjustable racing seats, Boge shocks, stainless-steel bumpers, black undercoating, an interior light, sound-proofing, carpeting, a luggage compartment mat, power steering, tinted glass, electric rear windows, a tool kit and an internal locking bonnet. The aero accessories weren't homologated until 1973, and could be ordered as a BMW aftermarket accessory (‘racing kit'). The doors, boot lid and bonnet had aluminium skins and were very easily dented, a hand in the wrong place when closing them being enough to cause damage.
Alpina strut brace and Ground Control top-mounts combine with KW coilovers to get the most out of that famous chassis.
The glorious BBS E55 wheels have been stepped up to seventeen-inch on the back and sixteen-inch on the front, in the spirit of the over-the-top DTM racers of old.
The competition aerodynamic parts homologated by the CSL weren't part of this car's spec when new, but are very-much a part of this model's story and look great in this application.
Niall's car, chassis no. 2285018, is a rare survivor of that batch. Mr John Hynes of Baldonnel, Dublin purchased the car, which was English registered and was an early ‘drive back' car. As a marketing exercise when BMW GB launched the CSL, BMW Concessionaires invited 50 dealers to Munich on the 9th and 10th of October 1972. After a boozy night, the next day a CSL was brought to the hotel on a traditional Bavarian horse and cart with the staff in traditional dress. The dealers, who had been able to choose the colour of the car they wanted, were then given their individual cars to ‘‘drive back" to the UK. The CS register have identified quite a few of these cars from their date of first registration in the UK being the 11th of October, and the BMW Classic certificate for this car confirms that it was originally delivered to BMW Concessionaires and registered (date of delivery on the cert) on 11th October. Each dealer got the car to use as a customer demonstrator before the car was sold to the public. At that time the CSL cost more than twice the price of a V12 E-Type (and £1,000 more than a semi-detached house), thus ensuring their extreme rarity on these shores. Precious as it was, Mr Hynes had no problem in racing the car in period. It was fitted with a roll cage (now removed), and driven to races in Mondello and Kirkstown, where it acquitted itself very well by knocking three seconds off the lap record! In 1975 came its crowning glory though, when it won the Dunlop Hawthorn Trophy in the Phoenix Park. Niall is keen to trace any photographs and history of this car during this competition period, which can be sent to this magazine for forwarding. However, ‘The Park' was not the last time it was brought to a racetrack - it was regularly driven from Dublin to Monte Carlo for the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the typically 600-mile run from Paris to Monaco being dispatched in about six hours. I'll leave you to do the maths on average speed, but the CSL could top out at 130mph... This really was a supercar of its day, soaking up the miles of autoroutes in comfort and civility. The everyday Renault and Peugeot drivers could only blink in awe as this bright orange projectile streaked past!
The service history of the car records that it was regularly maintained in the seventies by Frank Reilly Motors in Rathmines up to 108,000 miles, with many of the parts sourced from long-time BMW gurus Jaymic of Norfolk, England. In 1981 it was brought to Marbella in Spain, where it was used sparingly, racking up only 1,500 miles in ten years. It aged well in the sunshine, but a few years after returning to Ireland it started to show signs of cosmetic deterioration and was entrusted to Robert Andrews Motors in Bangor for a complete mechanical overhaul in 2005. By mid-2006 it was finished, having had an engine rebuild and a new coat of paint. Luckily this car never suffered the rigours of the British salted roads, so the body needed only minimal attention. Some time after this, the car was sold on to only its second Irish owner, who kept it for a short time before selling it to current Limerick owner, Niall O'Sullivan, who also runs another CSL, this one being the E46-series M3.
In advance of embarking on a full cosmetic restoration in the future, Niall has had some work done to keep the car functional and enjoyable, the work being entrusted to Jon Miller of Classic Carreras in Killaloe, and has taken the opportunity to put his own stamp on the CSL in the process. Practical work like stripping, reconditioning and powder/zinc-coating the suspension and brakes came first, with all new suspension bushings also being put in place. Remanufactured front and rear E9 Alpina strut braces were fitted, and the brake calipers had to be replaced as they were found to be harbouring hairline cracks when stripped. That aggressive, tarmac- sniffing stance has been achieved with a set of KW Variant 3 coilovers, which were built to order using the original struts, and Ground Control camber-adjustable top mounts were added to the front end for further adjustability. The simply glorious wheels evoke both touring car racing and the famous BMW art cars in equal measure - the BBS E50s were custom built using new centres, and are running 8x16-inch rims up front and 9.5x17-inchers out back to really pack out the arches. These RHD City-Pack cars also never came with the spoilers from new, and so these were prepped, painted and fitted by Jon Miller; the front lip, wing-top fins and rear roof spoiler came from Zaprace in the UK, while the boot spoiler is an original BMW item sourced on German eBay. Save for the Schroth harnesses and MOMO Alpina steering wheel, the interior is as it left the works, but this is one of those cars whose dramatic looks belie a short list of modifications.
The fantastic Scheel seats are factory, but wear Schroth harnesses added by Niall.
Driving the legend
So, what are these legendary cars like to drive? The answer is, whatever you want it to be. Slip down into the Scheel bucket seats, twist the key, slip into the first of four gears, and that familiar straight-six just lopes off like any 3-litre CSi; there's no drama, and it's nice and drivable through city traffic. Visibility is great due to the slim pillars, and the large glass area makes the interior almost panoramic, so it's easy to place on the city streets. The clutch is a tad heavy, but the take-up is smooth and the bite is progressive, making for very easy progress. Soon though we are in the country, and the car comes alive. The throttle is stiff and needs a deep push, but the engine responds without hesitation and third gear seems to hang on forever. No matter how unruly the road surface, this car tracks straight and true. The power steering is pin sharp, and nothing will upset it, inspiring immediate confidence in this now 43-year-old car. The chassis is stiff, but the quality uprated suspension soaks up the bumps and the ride comfort is not disturbed in the slightest. There is no bottoming out - the chassis set-up is too clever for that - and the new braking system is perfect, so good that speed is scrubbed off without even noticing it. Time to point towards the motorway. Here, the car shows its other side - it's comfortable, fast, refined (except for a hissing door seal) and relaxing. Everything about this well-maintained car makes it so easy to live with. There's no transmission slack, although the gear lever throws are too long to be rushed. You won't catch the synchros out though, and engagement is positive in a touchy-feely kind of way. Cornering hard does not provoke the front end to wash out in understeer, as the back comes round nicely just at the crossover point. I can see now how these were so good on the track, and really that's exactly where I'd like to take this one. Its racing days may be over, but I thought I heard Niall mention something about a track day... Count me in!
This CSL doesn't wear the giant 'Batmobile' rear spoiler homologated for the model, but has plenty of drama about it all the same.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBMW ART CARS / #Frank-Stella : #BMW-3.0CSL / #BMW-E9 / #Kugelfischer-Injection-System / #Kugelfischer / #BMW-E9-Frank-Stella / #BMW-3.0CSL-E9 / / #Art-Cars / #BMW
Never mind the fine artwork on the bodywork, underneath Stella’s geometric lines this #CSL packed a mighty turbocharged punch.
The second of BMW’s Art Cars was another CSL and technically this machine was the brainchild of the then-head of #BMW-Motorsport , Jochen Neerpasch. It came about as a result of rule changes for the #1976 season which would have seen the factory works CSLs effectively detuned for the more stringent Group 2 regulations which demanded a return to smaller aerodynamic addenda, wet sump lubrication, and most crucially, a banning of four-valve cylinder heads unless they were used in series production. Neerpasch didn’t take this lying down and decided to strap a pair of turbochargers to the CSL’s engine and take on the dominant Porsche 935s in Group 5.
In hindsight it might not have been the best idea as the car wasn’t desperately reliable and in the end only raced three times at #Silverstone , #Le-Mans and #Dijon . The Stella CSL used a 3.2-litre version of the twin-cam, four-valve-per-cylinder #M49 / #BMW-M49 unit to which Josef Schnitzer attached a brace of #KKK turbochargers and a Kugelfischer injection system. On the dyno it could crack 1000hp, but it was wound down to develop 750-800hp in race trim in a vain attempt to allow the rest of the car to cope with these monumental forces that it had never been designed to withstand. There was no doubting that it was quick… but on its first outing at Silverstone it lasted just 14 laps before needing a new set of boots that had been vapourised by the engine’s torque and by lap 43 it had retired with a melted transmission.
At Silverstone the car didn’t yet sport Frank Stella’s geometric patterns but BMW had seen how much interest the Calder CSL had generated at Le Mans the previous year so it commissioned Stella to paint the car for the 1976 running of the endurance classic. With longer gearing for Le Mans the CSL was a monster, allegedly pulling 212mph on the Mulsanne straight – drivers Gregg and Redmond must have been absolute legends – and they managed to put it eighth on the grid. Sadly in the race the inevitable happened and it retired after 23 laps.
Its last outing was at the last round of the World Makes Championship which was held at the small Dijon circuit in September 1976. By now the turbo CSL sported a reinforced differential, gearbox and halfshafts and was back in the hands of Peterson (who had driven it at Silverstone). In qualifying at least, things at last seemed to be going according to plan as he managed to hold back the phalanx of Porsche 935s to take the top spot on the grid.
Peterson led from the start and once he’d pulled away from Jacky Ickx’s Martini 935 the boost was wound down until Ickx could maintain the same pace as the CSL but not catch it. However, even this approach didn’t work and on lap 33 the diff turned into a casing full of swarf! A glorious failure then… but just look at, obscenely bulging arches, huge wings and that fantastic livery – what’s not to like?
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- Post is under moderationBMW Art Cars #Alexander-Calder : 3.0CSL. In the first of a new series looking at BMW’s Art Cars we delve back in the history books to unearth the story behind the first such machine… #BMW-E9 / #BMW-3.0CSL / #BMW-3.0CSL-E9 / #BMW / #Alexander-Calder / #BMW-E9-Alexander-Calder / #1975 / #BMW-3.0CSL-Alexander-Calder / #BMW-3.0CSL-E9-Alexander-Calder /
BMW is rightly proud of its collection of #Art-Cars and they’re regularly exhibited around the world in art galleries, but while it is happy to take the plaudits for the range of artists it’s commissioned over the years the first Art Car wasn’t actually a #BMW creation after all. The car you see here was actually commissioned by a wealthy French art dealer and part-time racing driver, Hérve Poulain, after he purchased a Group 2 racing #CSL from BMW Motorsport to compete at Le Mans. He then persuaded his friend, sculptor Alexander Calder, to paint the car in order for it to be a moving work of art at the #1975 24-Hour race.
Born in 1898 in Philadelphia, the legendary artist Alexander-Calder began his career as an engineer, but art soon won out over engineering and he developed a unique style of sculpture. His often large-scale pieces had a buoyant appeal and were often painted in cheery primary colours. His forte was creating mobile sculptures, combining Calder’s love of art with his knowledge of engineering and, despite the fact that he was primarily a sculptor, Poulain commissioned him to paint the CSL that he was to race at Le Mans.
It wasn’t Calder’s first foray into painting a machine; in #1973 he painted a passenger jet owned by Braniff South American Airlines and from the experience garnered from this exercise Calder felt he was able to put his own stamp on the CSL. Instead of trying to work with the shape of the car, Calder subjected it to his bold use of colour – bright red, blue and yellow – that didn’t attempt to use the car’s streamlining or overall shape to constrain his view of how it should look. He created a bold design that looks stunning.
The fact that the car has the mechanical backing and aerodynamic addenda to carry off the colour scheme was the icing on the cake. Under the bonnet was a 3210cc version of the legendary ‘six, it boasted twin overhead cams and four-valves per cylinder and was rated at around 480hp with a top speed, according to BMW, of 180mph.
Poulain entered the car under his own name and employed the services of well-known endurance racers Sam Posey and Jean Guiche. Perhaps thanks to the depleted field at Le Mans the car qualified well, taking pole position for its class and tenth spot overall on the grid. Strictly speaking the class win should have been a formality for the Calder CSL as its main competition came from another CSL, a brace of Ford Capri 2600s and a Heidegger 2002. However, when it comes to endurance racing there are no such things as certainties. Initially the car ran well and was in fifth position overall but sadly suffered a driveshaft failure after seven hours and was forced to retire leaving the Heidegger 2002 to take the Group 2 class win.
Despite the car showing promise at #Le-Mans it never raced again as #BMW purchased the car from Poulain and it became the first machine in its #BMW-Art-Car collection. It wasn’t the end for Poulain though, but we’ll come onto that when we look at some of the other #Art-Cars that followed in the ensuing years…Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAMERICAN RESPONSE
As the E46 M3 CSL never made it to the #USA , #BMW enthusiasts set about building their own, like this tasty pair. America was cruelly robbed of the E46 M3 CSL, so the response of Stateside modifiers has been to create their own with even more muscle. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Marco Svizzero.
It’s easy to get jealous of Americans. They produce money-spinning movies and music loved the world over; they seemingly control the world markets, the internet and practically every satellite in the sky; and if civilisation goes down the plughole, they keep enough gold locked away to hold two fingers up to the rest of us.
But if you want true envy, check out how cheaply Americans can buy a new M3, M5 or Porsche 911, then see how little it costs them to fuel them so they can enjoy playtime for far less coin than the rest of the world.
But occasionally, Europe gets its own back. Prime example is the E46 M3 CSL: a car so raw, pure and driver-focused that it became an instant classic on its 2003 release, and one the enthusiasts went all wobbly over. But not the Americans. They got bitter, frustrated and angry over it as the things just weren’t allowed Stateside due to environmental and safety reasons. There were 1400 examples built, and 1400 didn’t find their way to American showrooms.
So while the non-CSL E46 M3 is almost laughably common on American roads, you’re not about to see a CSL barking its way along canyon roads or buzzing city streets. You may spy something close though. Deny a market like America a car it badly wants and, much like banning a movie, it makes the thing so much more desirable and some will stop at nothing to get it. Pictured here are two Californian E46 M3 CSL replicas, which in many regards are as close to the real thing as possible. Certainly substantial sums of cash have been parted with in their builds, but that’s the price needed to pay proper homage to the ultimate road-going E46 M3.
It’s a price Adam Cook of Citrus Heights in North California paid to create his Steel grey E46 M3 CSL replica. We caught up with him and photographed his CSL replica alongside another built by Andrei Afanasiev – a fellow www.m3forum.net user from California’s Bay Area. Together they are a formidable pairing, with Adam’s looking the more genuine with its CSL-esque paint (originals only came in Silver grey and black Sapphire), even though Andrei’s M3 CS colour is a beautiful shade.
“BMW should have brought the CSL to the US,” Adam said. “There should be a standard that works for both US and Europe for safety and the environment so we can both get the same cars. An example is my other car, a 1M Coupé. They brought that to the US and it sold out fast.” Regardless, Adam got busy building what BMW didn’t provide, and is convinced he’s created something at least the match of a true CSL. “My setup makes more than a stock CSL,” he said. “ I have a better exhaust, pullies and a better software tune.”
Adam bought his E46 M3 brand-new from his BMW dealer in 2002, and was already no stranger to the marque. As well as his 1M he’s owned an E46 330i, E39 530i and an E90 330i. After a few months of M3 ownership on went a K&N panel filter to get the ball rolling, and since then he’s barely drawn breath. To see the inventory of all the previous parts he’s fitted to the M3 as well as what’s currently there – and the wellrecorded cost of everything – is quite frightening. “To build a replica CSL is fairly easy once you get hold of OE parts, and it helps to have more cash than brains and keep throwing money at it,” he said.
Adam wanted to make his car as much of an OE CSL as possible, but also improve on parts where he thought necessary. “My modifying philosophy was if I owned a real CSL what would I change on it?” he said. “I think the likes of headers, brakes, exhaust and suspension could all be improved.”
Starting with the body, Adam has upgraded his M3 with an OE CSL front bumper, lights, side grills, bootlid, carbon fibre rear diffuser and emblems. And impressively, as one of the CSL’s signature elements, he’s managed to add an OE carbon fibre CSL roof. “I got most of the OE CSL parts from a US importer which has sadly recently gone out of business, while the rest I got from a European source,” he said. “I’m glad I got them when I did as CSL parts are now no longer being made.”
Adam said most of the CSL parts are direct replacements on a standard M3, although minor modifying included rerunning wires on occasion. The roof was a different matter though: “The roof is genuine OE BMW, and its install was mostly time and patience,” Adam said. “Eighty-six spot welds needed removing and then the surface was cleaned. The OE roof fitted perfectly so no major work was needed other than adding the centre brace: if you remove the old roof properly there is no extra welding needed other than for the centre brace.”
The interior also mimics a CSL’s with an OE CSL centre console added, something Adam said was basically plug and play. There are online DIY tutorials on forums for the fitting, requiring a bit of time and rerunning window switch wires. Also on are a CSL handbrake gaiter, door trims, handles and door sills, while the rear seat has been removed in the style of the M3 CSL concept model. Recaro Profi XL seats are now up front, which look superb but Adam said they’re not great on long journeys. But ridding his M3 of power front seats and the rear bench has saved a lot of weight. As for CSL-ing the 3.2-litre six-cylinder, parts availability proved a headache. Adam originally fitted a GruppeM intake, but was intent on finding a true CSL air box. “Finding a CSL air box and cam was hard as there are not many in the wild,” he said.
“The first cam I got was broken in shipping and took nine months to get a replace.” Other OE CSL engine parts include the rocker arms, exhaust valves and the head gasket. Adam has enhanced things further with the likes of Supertech Performance dual valve springs, Rogue Engineering power pulleys, some trick cooling and an extensive exhaust system upgrade. Rounded off with OE M3 CSL software and an Evolve ECU tune Alpha-N Stage 3, these enhancements have convinced Adam he has a genuine CSL-beater on his hands.
The car’s six-speed SMG auto has also been given the CSL treatment with its software flash, while Adam uses a Turner Motorsport 3.91 differential and the company’s rear subframe reinforcement. A CSL 14.5:1 steering rack is also employed for the genuine feel, while TC Kline Racing adjustable coilovers and camber/caster plates, Eibach anti-roll bars and Ground Control rear lower control arms are part of a suite of underbody enhancements to push this M3 into CSL territory and beyond.
The genuine look was required under the arches, and Adam sourced genuine 19” CSL rims and shod them in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, rather than the ‘widow maker’ Michelin Cup rubber that made true CSLs so likely to switch ends in the wet. Behind these wheels are mighty StopTech 355mm discs all-round, clamped by four-pots finished in yellow paint. To look upon the car is to believe it’s a true CSL, and one that’s been enhanced impressively further.
Andrei’s car is based on an M3 CS and it too has an impressive spec sheet. Under the bonnet the S54 has been given an OE CSL carbon air box running Evolve Alpha N software and VAC Ultra Light 2 pulleys. He’s also removed the sound deadening to enjoy more of that intoxicating induction howl. Strapped to the Dinan strut brace are the remote reservoirs for the Moton Club Sport dampers and the chassis has been further upgraded with an AC Schnitzer rear anti-roll bar, Poweflex bushes throughout and a TMS subframe reinforcement kit, while for the exhaust system, he opted for an Eisenmann Section 2 and Meisterschaft Ti system.
Parked side-by-side, the two E46s look as though they belong at the M3 CSL top table. And so they should with the huge amount of time and money involved, including the relentless hunt for OE CSL parts for the builds. Much like true CSLs, they have that look about them that makes you want to grab the keys and be left alone on a winding stretch of open road for a few hours.
“I prefer back roads to the track,” Adam said, “and am one of the few people in North California who organises meets and drives. I have a website called www.raddrives.com that lists my favourite drive routes, and one of the best is Valcano which is perfect for the CSL. It’s a joy to drive because you feel the connection to the car and the road, and as the last of the high revving straight-six motors you can feel that passion the M guys put into the car. Cars now are faster, but some of the soul has been lost for progress.”
Adam wouldn’t dissuade anyone from building their own CSL replica, but he warned that OE parts are a pain to find as there are few parts and plenty of people after them. It’s not cheap either, so despite the rising value of genuine CSLs, if your country was lucky enough to sell them – unlike in America – it may be best to just buy a real one.
DATA FILE #BMW-M3-CSL / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-CSL-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #SMG / #BMW-M3-CSL-SMG -E46
ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , OE #CSL air box, hoses, exhaust manifold and cats, #Eisenmann Section 2 and #Meisterschaft Ti exhaust system, #VAC Ultra Light 2 pulleys, Evolve Alpha N software, deleted sound deadening under the bonnet.
TRANSMISSION: E46 M3 six-speed SMG auto with OEM CSL SMG software, Dinan 3.91 limited-slip diff.
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) OE E46 M3 CSL light alloy rims shod in 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, #Dinan front strut tower brace, #Powerflex polybushes, #TMS subframe reinforcement kit, #AC-Schnitzer rear anti-roll bar, Moton Club Sport dampers, front and rear #BBK .
EXTERIOR: OEM BMW E46 M3 CSL carbon fibre roof, black roof rails, bootlid, rear diffuser, front bumper with splitters, side grills and micro filter housing. #BMW electric Euro mirrors, outer LEDs on brake lights enabled, IB painted bonnet washer grille, headlight shroud assembly and keyhole driver door delete, #3M front end and roof clear bra, E46 M3 CS paint.
INTERIOR: OE E46 M3 CSL seats, centre console, handbrake gaiter, door trims, handles and door sills.
ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32-TUNED OE E46 M3 CSL air intake, snorkel and flap, map sensor, inlet camshaft, rocker arms, exhaust valves and head gasket, head blueprinted and flow tested, #Supertech-Performance dual valve springs, #Rogue-Engineering power pulleys, Samco radiator hose kit, #Zionsville E46 M3 Competition cooling kit, Zionsville SPAL speed fan kit, Turner Motorsport Fluidyne oil cooler kit, Supersprint stepped exhaust manifold with stepped metallic 100 cell cat system and resonated X-pipe, Eisenmann Racing exhaust, Ignition Solutions plasma coils, OE E46 M3 CSL software – #DME flash for base setup and #Evolve ECU tune #Alpha-N Stage 3.
TRANSMISSION: E46 M3 six-speed SMG auto with OE CSL SMG software flash, UUC red transmission bushings, Turner Motorsport 3.91 differential, #Turner-Motorsport E46 rear subframe reinforcement.
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) OE E46 M3 CSL light alloy rims shod in 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, Turner Motorsport 10mm front wheel spacer kit, #StopTech big brake kit with 355mm discs and painted yellow four-piston calipers all-round, stainless steel brake lines, TC Kline Racing True Match adjustable coilover system (500 front, 600 rear), TC Kline Racing camber/caster plates, #Eibach front and rear anti-roll bars, Ground Control rear lower control arms, CSL / ZCP 14.5:1 steering rack.
EXTERIOR: OE E46 M3 CSL front bumper, front lights and side grills, CSL wing grill emblems, OE E46 M3 CSL carbon fibre outer panel roof, bootlid and carbon fibre rear diffuser, LED rear light upgrade.
INTERIOR: OE E46 M3 CSL centre console, handbrake gaiter, door trims, handles and door sills, #Recaro Profi XL bucket seats, rear seat delete based on E46 M3 CSL concept model, CSL #SMG black aluminium paddles, hard wired Valentine V1 radar detector.
Andrei has removed the sound deadening from his engine bay and added #VAC-Ultra-Light-2 pulleys plus a #Dinan strut brace and Moton Club Sport dampers.
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- Post is under moderationTEAM AMERICA
When Kings Auto Body Shop decided to build an E46 M3 racer, it employed the philosophy of go big or go home. Kings Auto Body Shop took an uncompromising approach to building this E46 M3 racer. ‘Go big or go home’ were the watchwords and, with genuine GTR DNA, it certainly delivers the goods… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Andy Tipping.
There are many varied and disparate cars that you may spot on any given day at the #Nurburgring , from race prototypes to Transit vans, stripped-out track day specials to commuter-spec Octavias, and everything in between. But the three most prevalent sights can be neatly subdivided into three categories: Porsche 911s (of varying vintage, state of tune and level of competence), locals in diesel Golfs (who are invariably making much more rapid progress than any of the 911s), and heavily tweaked M3s. The Green Hell and the M3 go hand in hand, and there’s something addictive to the owners of E36s and E46s in particular that keeps them coming back, eager to test out the effectiveness of their latest choice of rubber or tweaks to their suspension.
The racy E46 M3 that’s posing for the lens today is a true-blue Nordschleife battler, exactly the type of thing that you’d expect to see bobbing around the Karussell with flames licking from its cheeky side-exit pipes…except that it isn’t. It’s never even been there. This car, while it may appear at first glance to be a hardcore Euro race build, is in fact Californian through-and-through, and the closer you look, the more dedication to Stateside tuning you discover. Built and raced by Kings Auto Body Shop in Huntington Beach, it’s as American as apple pie, colossal drugstores, and putting too many advert breaks in TV shows. It’s just one tiny step short of being plastered in stars and stripes.
The project acts as a sort of glorious manifestation of the vivid dreams of Ayed Alnajjar, the man who happily dotes on Kings Auto Body like a proud father. “I purchased the shop in 2013, and I brought it back to life,” he explains. “We mostly do insurance work, but our signature is race cars and wide bodies. And me personally? I’ve owned over 20 BMWs over the years, and this is my second BMW race car.” You can see why the project was spirited into being – a history of Bavarian fettling, a shop in which to carry out the work to expert level, and a desire to showcase the skills of the business in a fairly visible manner. It’d be madness for Ayed not to build a gorgeously detailed and brutally effective M3 racer, really. What a fortuitous position to find oneself in.
Now, you may be eyeing the broad, aggressive girth of the E46 and pondering the origins of the aesthetic. DTM, perhaps? It’s wider than a #BTCC racer, that’s for sure, but there’s a distinct Euro race car vibe radiating from the M3 as it sits menacingly before the lens, the exhaust ticking frantically after an enthusiastic run. But looks can be deceiving, and this car has been leading you up a dark path… the inspiration for the look came, in fact, from the M3 GTR – one of the key elements of quintessential American-ness that makes this car unique.
A quick history lesson, then. The E46 M3 road car, as we know, arrived on the scene in late-2000 sporting a 3.2-litre S54 straightsix under its extravagantly bulging bonnet. It was a bona fide muscle car, offering a significant power hike over its E36 predecessor, and rocking the sort of unmistakable road presence that would trigger a reflex to involuntarily pull out of the way as soon as it appeared in an opponent’s rear view mirror. It didn’t ask, it just took. An uncompromising thing.
Race versions inevitably ensued, and the M3 GTR development became a shining star in the GT2 class of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). It was powered by a #P60B40 motor, a 4.0-litre V8 only to be found in the GTR, snorting out somewhere between 440-470hp depending on setup.
The M3 GTR was, it has to be said, a bit of a naughty boy. While S54-powered E46s would be monstered by Porsche 911 GT3s on track, the V8-engined cars were rather dominant at the hands of Schnitzer Motorsport, which caused Porsche to cry foul play: it pointed out, quite fairly, that it wasn’t possible to buy a V8-engined E46 road car, so it was violating the spirit of the ALMS ethos. The governing body insisted that a road-going variant must be on sale on two continents within a year of the rules being drawn up to be eligible, and BMW made plans to build ten road cars for such a purpose, to be sold at €250,000 apiece. In the end, however, they didn’t bother – they built six – but these cars weren’t made available for public sale. Indeed, three of them were just development mules that got scrapped.
When the rules changed in 2002, stipulating that 100 cars had to be built to homologate the racers, BMW pulled out of ALMS altogether. This means that if you want to buy an apple-pie M3 GTR, well, you can’t.
That’s why Ayed decided to build one. Not a faithful but unforgiving V8-engined homage, but a proven and reliable S54-powered E46 whose body pays tribute to the shortlived splendour of the GTR. The car’s wearing a Flossman GTR wide-body kit, which is just about as authentic as it’s possible to get with this sort of thing; the wider wings and arches, the front and rear bumpers, the aero side skirts, it’s all artfully hand-crafted in Germany by Peter Flossman, linchpin of the Judd racing team among much else, and it’s all to the original BMW Motorsport development specs for the GTR race car, as tested in BMW’s own wind tunnel. It is, in short, a pukka piece of kit.
But Ayed was always fully intent on doing this properly: “My previous race car was an E36 M3,” he recalls. “I built up the engine to the best of its abilities, but the best I could reliably get with that car with cams was 270hp. I wasn’t happy with the wheel space either because I couldn’t fit anything bigger than 255-section tyres. So I decided to go with the E46 M3, it just made sense. As standard it makes more power than a built S52 engine, and once I got the E46 M3, I decided to go big or go home! I wanted to make a true one-of-a-kind E46, with thoroughbred race car DNA.”
Well yes, there’s no arguing that he’s achieved that with some level of gusto. Having purchased the car as a bare shell – no engine, no transmission, no interior, no suspension – the team at Kings set about building a pure race weapon from the ground up, selecting every component based on its performance creds as well as light weight and durability. Under the copiously vented DTM Fiberwerkz GTR bonnet sits a full-race S54 with hot Schrick cams, Stage 3 heads and a sultry CSL air box, all of which spits out its heady gases through a customcrafted side-exit exhaust (just like a real M3 GTR race car!). The chassis is suspended by Moton coilovers and all manner of goodies from the Ground Control catalogue, with some substantial Brembos champing at the bit to rein all of that thrust back in. It’s a very effective package, and the spec list reads like a who’s-who of quality parts.
“The car was built for the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) German Tuning Series, although the car was actually debuted at SEMA 2014. It was its first time out in public once we’d finished the build, and people’s reactions were amazing. I can’t tell you how many people have told me this is their dream car!” The important point that Ayed’s not making here, of course, is that it’s his dream car too – and he’s the one holding the keys. Funny how life works out sometimes, isn’t it?
This build, then, is a fusion of BMW developmental tangents. Given the chance, it’d lap up the verdant and serpentine spaghetti curves of the Nürburgring all day long, negotiating the tricky cambers, undulating gradients and truculent weather systems as being all in a day’s work. But, as fate insists, it’s not a moistened Euro fighter – it’s a dry-as-a-bone Cali scrapper. The neat link here is that a couple of the original Schnitzer GTR race cars saw later action at the ’Ring for the 2003 24-Hour event, which pulls the DNA across the Atlantic, and then pings it back like a piece of tautly-stretched elastic and fires it squarely into Kings Auto Body Shop with a resounding thump.
Ayed’s out there in the glaring West Coast sun, wringing the M3’s neck and taking scalps in the NASA GTS, as stridently as the GTRs of yore – and this surely means that, dream fulfilled, he can dust off his hands and enjoy the fruits of Kings’ labours, yes? No, of course not. These things are never finished. And now that everything’s nicely bedded in, a GTR rep should really have a V-engine, shouldn’t it? What do you say then, Ayed – fancy tracking down one of those unicorn P60 V8s? “No,” he says, scratching his chin thoughtfully. “I think I want to put a V10 in there.” Well, he did say ‘go big or go home’…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW E46 M3 Racer / #BMW-M3-Racer / #BMW-M3-Racer-E46 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 , #CSL air box, 288/280 Schrick cams, Stage 3 heads, ported throttle body, high compression (12.5:1 ratio), AP pulleys, #AP headers, custom side-exit exhaust system, Stage 4 clutch, #AEM infinity standalone management, sixspeed manual transmission rebuilt with 3.91 gearing.
CHASSIS 11x18” #Apex-EC-7 wheels (front and rear) (ET25, 15mm spacers all-round), 295/30 soft-compound tyres (front and rear), Motorsport wheel studs with race nuts, #Moton three-way adjustable coilovers, Ground Control camber plates, Ground Control anti-roll bars, #Ground-Control adjustable control arms, #Brembo BBK with four-piston front calipers and 355mm discs, four-piston rears and 345mm discs, stainless steel lines, #Hard-Motorsport brake cooling backing plates.
EXTERIOR Flossman GTR wide-body kit, #APR front splitter, APR diffuser built and designed by Raceworkz , #APR-GT500 wing (71” wide), Hard Motorsport retractable tow hooks, #DTM-Fiberwerkz GTR bonnet, DTM Fiberwerkz carbon-fibre roof, carbon fibre bootlid, RAD Industries Lexan windows, #RAD-Industries custom fuel cell.
INTERIOR #Sparco Ergo seat, Sparco steering wheel, Sparco harness, mesh window net, mesh centre net, Hard Motorsport CAE shifter, fire extinguisher system, #GS-Werks custom roll-cage.
THANKS Undr8d Empire, ECElite Automotive, DTM Fiberwerkz, RAD Industries, Hard Motorsport, Hardware Motorsports, Raceworkz, GSR Technik, GS Werks.
“Once I got the E46 M3, E46 M3 Racer I decided to go big or go home! I wanted to make a one-of-a-kind E46, with thoroughbred race car DNA”
Kings’ M3 looks the business thanks to #Flossman-GTR wide-body kit, built to the original #BMW-Motorsport specs of the GTR race car.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBLOWIN’ IN THE WIND
With a supercharger slapped onto its meaty straight-six, this E46 M3 is the ultimate fast road tool. When the checklist for your project build features ‘must be a daily driver, and must be fun on canyon roads’, the E46 M3 is a pretty sound choice. Throw in a supercharger and the job’s a good ’un… Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photos: Richard Le /// #BMW
There’s a lot to be said for being understated. Still waters run deep, as the old saying goes, and it’s as true in the modifying sphere as anywhere else that what you see isn’t necessarily what you get – it sometimes takes a keen eye or an investigative demeanour to reveal the full story. Picture yourself in a dark, smoky dive bar in a hick town on a windy Friday night – the characters who’ll immediately catch your attention are the drunk office girls caterwauling around the jukebox or the frat boys slamming back thimbles of moonshine, but it’s the guy sitting alone at the bar that you need to watch out for. The one in the cowboy hat, coolly sipping neat bourbon and eyeballing everybody in the place to get the measure of every last soul – his appearance isn’t remarkable, and yet there’s something foreboding about his presence that makes him unmissable.
That shadowy, sinister figure is essentially the embodiment of Sonic Motorsports’ M3, resplendent as it is in subtle menace and simmering aggression. Sure, it’s not the most outrageous or heavily modified E46 to appear in these pages, but it doesn’t need to be, does it? You can tell just from a single glance that it’s the sort of car that cashes its own cheques, that doesn’t care what you think. Without even seeing it in motion, you just know that it’d be a devastating mover…
To a degree that can be true of any E46 M3. The act of taking a relatively soberlooking #BMW-3-Series and shoving in a feisty sixpot producing a power figure that begins with a three was a masterstroke of mischief by BMW and, as the M3 badge’s heritage dictates, these cars aren’t just about power. They’re about poise, handling, finesse, chuckability, precision… there’s a reason that they’re seen as the benchmark of sporting coupes. But, as is a well-trodden path in Performance BMW circles, such things can always be improved. You know this. That’s why you’re reading this magazine. The improver in this particular instance is Sonic Motorsports, based in San Jose, California. This outfit, if you’re a resident of The Golden State (or even if you’re not, to be frank) is one that you need to shuffle on to your list of ‘People Who Matter’, as there’s a palpable whiff of tenacity with a soupçon of fury in the air down on Charcot Avenue.
“I work as the shop foreman and owner at Sonic MS, so I get to work on a variety of different cars,” says Barrett Howard, the fella with the M3’s keys on his desk. “This one was actually a customer’s car – he had made the decision to move on to the E9x platform, and he offered to sell it to me. I knew that the car had been well taken care of, and the E46 is a phenomenal platform to build on, so I took him up on it. It’s arguably the best handling car in its weight class and it comes with a decent amount of power as well – but of course, that was only a starting point for us!”
Encouraging sentiment indeed, and very much in line with Sonic’s mission statement: ‘practice makes perfect’, they attest, only making upgrades to customers’ cars that fit within their levels of expertise and experience – not to say the guys are afraid to push the boundaries, more that they’re insistent on any car that goes out the door being tip-top and ready to rock. Sonic believes in doing it right first time, which surely makes for smiles all-round. Okay, this M3 had become Barrett’s own car, so would there be a chance that he and the team would put a little more effort in than they would with a paying client’s motor? No, not a bit of it – because when you’re operating at 100%, it’s not possible to push any harder. And that, again, is a good thing for all.
So, how does one improve upon the already formidable power that the iconic S54 straight-six is serving up? Well, for Sonic it made sense to go down the route of forced induction. “We build a lot of fast cars here, so it was only natural we went down this road,” Barrett explains. “A supercharger was a good start since it doesn’t have the lag associated with a turbo. The #Dinan supercharger setup is pretty comprehensive, but also has the benefit of being a bolt-on package, so the work was fairly simple and straightforward.” The gains for such an upgrade weigh in at around 150hp, which is very significant – think of it as a percentage of the motor’s stock power, it’s actually pretty eye-watering. Even more impressive, then, that the stock internals can take it without bursting. They do make these Motorsport machines strong, don’t they?
Barrett chose to augment this Vortech-flavoured upgrade with some sensible additions, including a Dinan throttle body, CSF radiator and oil cooler, which all coalesces neatly with the SMG transmission to make for a natty little sleeper. Well, okay, not a sleeper, you can’t really call it that, but it does belie its subtle looks with a raging hellstorm of horsepower.
“I wanted it to be as subtle as it could be, that was the vision all along,” Barrett confirms. “But I also wanted to take a little of the magic of the CSL, to get it as close to that look as possible.” This, it hardly needs saying, is no small undertaking, particularly if your keenness for authenticity extends to grafting in the famed carbon fibre roofskin that the CSL enjoyed. That’s not a five-minute job.
It’s easy to be blasé about the acquisition of CSL parts here in the UK, but this is in fact a rather more involved task for our Transatlantic cousins – just 1400 Coupé Sport Leichtbau models were built for the 2004 model year, so they’re pretty obscure to start with; however, the bulk of CSL allocation went to Europe, and they just weren’t offered by North American BMW dealers. So if you want to find the parts that were unique to the CSL – such as the carbon fibre roof, the ducktail bootlid, the fibreboard boot floor, or what-have-you, you need to have sufficient fingers in the appropriate pies. But Barrett is a man in the know and, with a crafty tap of the nose, he informs us that he can find such things if required. “The roof and the ducktail are the most obvious nods to the CSL,” he says, “but with a lot of the modifications, it’s a case of subtle things that only the true enthusiast would spot.” There you go then, a challenge for your BMW-spotting credentials – pore over the photos and see what nerdy details you can find…
Sonic Motorsports, as one might hope, is not the sort of outfit that’ll just throw a load of horsepower into a stock chassis to see what’ll happen – you’ve probably got the idea now, but it’s a belt-and-braces sort of affair. And besides, the guys doing the work are enthusiasts like you, and we all love cherry picking upgrades from the performance catalogue, don’t we?
“The car was built for the purpose of being able to be daily driven, as well as driven hard on the nice canyon roads we have around here,” he says, “and the Öhlins Road and Track coilovers we’ve fitted do a great job of making it comfortable on local roads as well as keeping it planted around the curves.” There’s a meaty brake setup working hand-in-hand with this too, in the form of a Brembo GT big brake kit up front with BMW Competition items at the rear; all more than up to the task of hauling up a supercharged M3 when the going gets twisty.
As impressive as the build is, we’ve touched on a lot of modifications that represent an established formula here, all of which neatly ties into the aforementioned ‘practice makes perfect’ ethos. The supercharger upgrade, the CSL aesthetics, the taut combo of Öhlins and Brembo, it’s all very logical. So what Sonic needed was a hook, something to work with the subtle look of the car while at the same time offering something unusual and offbeat – and it’s for this reason that you’ll find a set of RAYS wheels under the arches. #RAYS is a Japanese brand, which immediately jars with the Bavarian DNA, whose history lies in motorsport, and Volk Racing is a subbrand that offers super-light forged sports wheels such as the G25 you see here.
They’re not just a cool design, they are also very much fit for purpose on a performance car such as this, as well as offering something that you perhaps wouldn’t expect to find on an E46.
Job done then, yes? Time for Barrett and his colleagues to clap their hands together, congratulate one another on a job well jobbed, and move onto the next one? No, not quite: “Oh, I’ve got more in store,” he smirks. “It’ll be needing a manual gearbox conversion at some point. And I’m planning a turbo kit for it right now…”
Exciting times. And whatever happens, you can be sure that this M3 will remain resolutely under the radar as it scythes through the canyons, appearing to passers-by as little more than a deep blue flash and a sinister rumble before it’s merely a memory, a whisper on the breeze. You don’t always have to shout to be heard. Sometimes subtlety makes the strongest statement of all.
“I wanted it to be as subtle as it could be, but I also wanted to take a little of the magic of the CSL to get it as close to that look as possible”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE Supercharged E46 M3 / #BMW-M3-Supercharged-E46 / #BMW-M3-Supercharged / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 , #Dinan-Stage-3-Supercharger , #Dinan throttle body, #CSF radiator, CSF oil cooler, six-speed #SMG-II gearbox.
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (f) & 10.5x19” (r) #RAYS-G25 wheels with 245/35 (front) & 275/30 (rear) Yokohama AD08 tyres, Öhlins Road & Track coilovers, Hotchkis anti-roll bars (f & r), subframe reinforcements, #Powerflex bushes, #Brembo GT front #BBK , #BMW-Competition rear brakes.
EXTERIOR #CSL carbon fibre roofskin, bootlid and diffuser.
INTERIOR Full custom #JBL audio install.
THANKS My crew at Sonic MS and all the vendors that sponsored this build.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHE GREY
Building an #BMW E46 M3 that stands out from the crowd is no mean feat, and this UK example is one of the best around. Fully fettled, fast and ferocious, this predatory M3 is hungry like the wolf… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Steve Hall.
The E46 M3 is an awesome car. It’s supremely affordable, fast, a joy to drive, practical and can even be considered economical. It is arguably one of the greatest performance bargains of our time. Unfortunately, as is often the case, when a car is good and affordable it becomes popular and when a car is popular it becomes rather difficult to make it stand out from the crowd. People will often end up doing the same sorts of mods, not because they are sheep but because those are the best mods to do. Creating something different can be quite difficult, something that affects all popular 3 Series models in particular, but James Barrett has faced that challenge head-on and emerged victorious.
Those in the UK modified BMW scene may well recognise that name because for quite some time James was the go-to guy at M Style for customers looking to spice up their BMs. You may well recognise the car, too, because it is a show regular and has enjoyed more than its fair share of internet fame and with good reason: it’s a stunner! As you may expect from someone who has been at the heart of the modified BMW scene for so long, James has a car history filled with BMWs, and it’s a surprisingly varied mix of BM machinery at that. There’s been an E65, an E60, an E46 and an E36 before James purchased this E46 M3 just over two years ago. It was a car he’d always wanted and so the mods began in earnest.
As is often the case, the modifying avalanche was triggered by one simple act: fitting some carbon grilles. “It all went from there,” chuckles James. “I had intended to leave the car in its original Titan silver after doing the carbon grilles but one of the wings was slightly off in colour; I wanted to get it taken care of but didn’t want to end up chasing it round the car to try and get it to match perfectly so I decided to do a full colour change. I wanted something that hadn’t been done before, but that was subtle at the same time.” The colour James settled on was Lamborghini Grigio Telesto, a spectacular solid grey, making his the first E46 M3 to sport this look. Considering how unexciting grey is as a colour, it actually makes a big impact because it’s so unusual and definitely makes the car stand out.
Before the respray James had managed to catch his splitter on a kerb, damaging the bumper in the process. This seemed like a good excuse to fit a CSL front bumper, always a good idea, and he also smoothed the intake hole for a cleaner look.
The interior of this particular M3 has also gone through something of a transformation. It was originally black, before James swapped in a red leather interior. However, when he decided to fit a purple roll-cage he went back to black as the red and purple simply wouldn’t work together. Purple might seem like an unlikely colour choice for the roll-cage but it was all part of James’ plan. “I wanted a colour that would complement the grey,” he explains. “The grey looks lighter when the sun hits it and so does the Merlin purple. I think that they work really well together. I had initially considered candy red for the cage and wheels but then I figured that it would have taken away from the stealthy look of the car.” Merlin purple is (whisper it) an Audi colour but it’s a darn good-looking one and quite a subtle hue, adding a flash of colour in the black and grey interior.
Speaking of wheels, the E46 M3 is a car with which it is hard to go wrong when it comes to choosing wheels. Get the right combination and everything from dish to concave can look absolutely killer. The only hard part is making an original choice – so many aftermarket wheels have been done to death already by the modifying masses. Fortunately James has nailed it with his current choice. “I had #CSL wheels originally,” he says, “but silver wheels on a grey car looked odd. Plus, everyone has CSL wheels on M3s. I wanted something different and when I saw the gunmetal #Quantum44-S1 s I knew they were perfect.”
Quantum44 has produced some extremely good looking wheels but it isn’t a brand that you’re likely to see on every show car around, making this concave ten-spoke wheel a distinctive design. The dark colour coordinates with the overall look of the car, and the interior theme is echoed in the callipers which are finished in Merlin purple. 10mm spacers up front and 20mm items at the rear get the fitment spot-on and the 19s fill the arches perfectly thanks to the aggressive drop that James has dialled-in on his D2 Racing coilovers.
Elsewhere you may have spotted the CSL bootlid, with its smoothed badge and lock. It was fitted when the car was still silver, along with the smoked indicators, matt black roof, CSL diffuser and ACS roof spoiler. These have since been joined by a whole host of subtle but effective exterior tweaks including a full-width carbon splitter, tinted front lights with smoked inner bowls and Umnitza angel eyes, all-red LED rears and plenty of carbon touches, like the wing vents and carbon washer jet panel.
Being an M3 you’d be disappointed if there wasn’t a little bit of performance boost, so you’ll be pleased to hear that James has fitted a K&N induction kit with carbon intake, a Mosselman remap and a set of 100-cell sport cats while the SMG has been treated to a CSL software update for faster shifts.
At this point the car was looking pretty awesome all-round but James still wasn’t finished and he now turned his attention to the interior to really finish it off. The dash and doors have been flocked, the latter offering a fantastic contrast against the gloss grey of the body-coloured door panels, and the standard seats have been unceremoniously removed and replaced with a pair of extremely sexy Cobra Monaco seats complete with Sparco three-point harnesses.
The dash trims and gear lever surround have been finished in matching Lambo grey and James has also fitted a Storm Motorwerks titanium gear knob and ring plus a set of extended Rogue Engineering paddles. The rear seats have been ditched and back there you will now find a pair of 12” #JL-Audio subs along with a JL amp.
In just over two years James has done a lot of work and all his effort shines through as the end result is stunning. The attention to detail here is really impressive and he’s paid attention to every element of the car: the aesthetics (both inside and out); the handling; and the performance. No part of the car has gone untouched and every modification has been planned and executed with purpose and planning.
“I’m very happy with how the car has turned out,” grins James, “it’s exactly how I pictured it would be. I spent ages going through the various options I had at every stage, trying to visualise how it would all tie together as I really wanted to get it right.” Well, he has succeeded there then, although possible plans for the future include a BBK, Quantum’s new curved-spoke S5D wheels and, if funds allow, a supercharger. Whatever the future holds, one thing is for certain: this grey M3 won’t be dull!
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-M3-E46 / #S54B32-TUNED / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-E46 /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 , carbon engine cover, #K&N induction kit with carbon intake, 100-cell sport cats, #Mosselman remap, #Sprint-Booster , Eurostyle exhaust tips. Six-speed SMG gearbox, CSL software update.
CHASSIS 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) #Quantum44 S1 matt gunmetal wheels with 225/35 (front) and 255/30 (rear) Falken tyres, 15mm (front) and 20mm (rear) TPI spacers, #D2-Racing coilovers, #Turner-Motorsport subframe reinforcement kit, full Powerflex bush kit, Rogue Engineering top mounts.
EXTERIOR Full respray in Lamborghini Grigio Telesto, CSL front bumper with smoothed intake hole, full width carbon splitter, Lamin-x subtle tint front lights with smoked inner bowl, Umnitza Angel eyes, 8000K xenon upgrade, smoothed bonnet, CSL bootlid with smoothed badge and lock, carbon CSL diffuser, carbon wing vents, carbon kidney grilles, matt black roof, red/smoked LED rear lights, light smoke window tints, AC Schnitzer roof spoiler, carbon washer jet panel, Audi Merlin purple calipers.
INTERIOR Body coloured CSL doorcard inserts, body coloured dash trims and gear surround, flocked dash, flocked door cards, Weichers Type B half-cage painted Audi Merlin purple, Storm Motorwerks titanium #SMG ring and gear knob, #AC-Schnitzer pedals and footrest, Rogue Engineering extended paddles, Cobra Monaco seats, Sparco three-point harnesses, rear seat delete, 2x JL audio 12” subs, JL audio amp.
THANKS Paul and the boys at MStyle for the majority of the work, Abe at Low Expectations clothing, Ad at Strictly Static, Ollie at Absolute Detailing, Ray at Absoflockinlutely, and most of all my better half Dee Barwick for putting up with my paintwork OCD and patience with me when things didn’t quite go to plan!
Gunmetal Quantum44 19s are the perfect match for the paint; purple and carbon details add the finishing touches.
Rear seats have been ditched and the space is now occupied by two 12” subs and a Merlin purple roll-cage.
Cobra Monaco seats up front with flocked dash and #Storm-Motorwerks goodies.
I decided to do a full colour change. that hadn’t been done before I wanted something.
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- Post is under moderationNEW SIX ON THE STOPS #BMW-2.8L automatic
We see a lot of bagged cars but it’s rare to see something as majestic as this classic #BMW-E3 on air, and it’s a corker. The E3 was a revolutionary model for #BMW in the 1960s. This Belgian example gives the old-skool formula a 21st century twist.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.8-litre straight-six #M30B28 , automatic transmission #ZF .
CHASSIS: 8x17” (front and rear) #BBS RC 008s, AccuAir air-ride suspension setup.
INTERIOR: Original seats retrimmed in leather, renewed wood trim, original radio.
EXTERIOR: Full respray in original colour.
THANKS: SG Motorsport, Kean Suspensions.
The 1960s were turbulent but exciting times for BMW. The late- Fifties had seen much financial strife, with the gorgeous #BMW-507 roadster proving too expensive to be profitable, the Isetta-based microcars selling badly, and the motorcycle market imploding. BMW’s board of directors even proposed a merger with #Daimler-Benz in #1959 – imagine! – but this was vehemently opposed by dealers and shareholders. What the company needed was a shot in the arm, a new direction. And that came in the form of the Neue Klasse. Debuting at the 1961 Frankfurt Motor Show, the fresh new BMW 1500 demonstrated a solid set of values that have carried on through the model range ever since; it had disc brakes and all-round independent suspension, offering the latest technological developments in a wellequipped car that, while selling at a premium price, wasn’t absurdly out of the reach of the man on the street.
Job done then, yes? The 1500 morphed into the slippery 2000C/CS coupés and the iconic ’02 series, and so BMW’s 1950s personality-split between big luxury cars and economical micros was smoothly merged into one logical 1960s whole.
Ah, but that wasn’t the end, of course. You can’t build an empire on just one idea. BMW had been keeping a keen eye on Mercedes- Benz, eager to ensure that they could compete on all levels with their rivals over in Stuttgart. Benz was dominating the large luxury car sector, and BMW wanted to muscle in with a range that could both compete and offer a sportier edge. And the result? The New Six. The thinking behind this is what carries through to the modern Bee-Em that may well be sitting on your drive right now – luxury, with sporting intent and technological capabilities in spades. The poster boy for the New Six has always been the Batmobile – the superaerodynamic racy variant of the E9 3.0 coupé, the #CSL – but it’s important to remember that this mould-breaking range featured two body shapes: alongside the #E9 Coupé sat the car we’re looking at here, the E3 Saloon. The Neue Klasse’s hardy #M10 four-bangers were comprehensively reworked into the six-pot #M30 range, and the New Six styling featured such details as the twin-headlights-in-grille and the celebrated Hofmeister Kink that have since become BMW staples. At launch, the #E3 was available in either 2500 or 2800 flavour, and it’s the latter that we’re looking at today.
This particular 2800 is owned by Belgian Kevin Pourtois, who’s taking the current stance scene’s excitement over retro motors to its logical conclusion, bypassing the E21s and E12s of the 1970s and diving right back to the previous generation (okay, his E3 is a #1976 model, but the ethos remains true…). So, was this a conscious decision to shake up the scene a little? “Well, no, actually,” he explains, “this was actually my grandfather’s car. It was sitting there in the garage in perfect condition, just waiting for me! So this is more of a sentimental project…”
Keeping the concept all in the family, Kevin set about refreshing and contemporising the revolutionary old motor car along with his father. “First, we started with the interior,” he says. “The seats themselves were in good condition, but we wanted to recover them with something a bit more contemporary, so they’ve been retrimmed in quality leather.” You can see from the pictures that this was a good move, the creamy hue neatly complementing the otherwise bone-stock insides. These old E3s have a lovely solidity about them, and details such as the lozenge-like instrument binnacle and slender heater controls speak of a time of uncluttered simplicity. It’s a very classy place to be, and even more so now that it’s slathered in baby-soft cowhide.
“I have to admit that we didn’t make a lot of progress for some time after that,” Kevin concedes, “but after a while I just decided it was about time I rolled up my sleeves and got stuck in.” And so he, along with his father, attacked the project with renewed vigour, starting with the engine. The future plan is to swap the venerable old M30 out completely for something else, but in the meantime they’ve had the 2.8-litre six refreshed by SG Motorsport to ensure that all is running as it should. You’ll notice the ‘i’ badge on the bootlid too, indicating that this car is running fuel injection rather than the launch-spec carburettor setup.
With motive power taken care of, they turned their hands to paint – or rather, one of Kevin’s friends did. “We wanted to keep the original colour, as that’s what my grandad chose, so I asked a friend of mine to refresh it in the original shade,” he explains. And you’ve got to admit that it looks pretty damn perfect. It’s a mysterious greeny-blueygrey that’s at once subtle and classy, and also pure hot rod. It complements the 2800’s oodles of extra chrome rather neatly too. It’s at this point that the project took rather a radical turn. Now, E3 aficionados will happily fill you in on the details of the car’s factory suspension setup – rather radical in itself, for its time, featuring Boge Nivomat self-levelling trickery at the rear – but that sort of pub-bore geekery won’t win you any trophies. So Kevin decided to take the concept of self-levelling to the next, er, level by having a word with Kean Suspensions. Regular readers will have spotted this name cropping up with increasing regularity of late, as the renowned altitude adjusters’ star rises in the stance sphere. And in Kevin’s eyes, their famed prowess in air-ride systems was exactly what he needed to freshen up the attitude of his grandad’s old Beemer. “I asked them to build me an AccuAir system, because I wanted this to be a fun project,” he grins. And the quality of the install manifests itself in two key ways: firstly, the neatness inside – that uncluttered BMW dash and console look factory-stock, if gently patinated, and it takes a moment to locate the air-ride controls. Go on, have a peek, see if you can spot them…
Secondly, there’s the way the thing sits. There’s something about these large, slabsided old barges that lend themselves very well to being aired out and kissing Tarmac, isn’t there? Like some kind of vast snake, slithering on its belly. The wheels are neatly tucked, a bold wedge of camber presenting itself at the rear – it’s the perfect way to pull that ’60s style right into 2014.
Oh yes, and those wheels. It’s always a tricky business bolting newer rims to a classic car, isn’t it? For every tastefully executed #E21 on a set of boxfresh Schmidts, there’s a shonky 2002 on ’90s three-spokes – you’ve just got be very careful with your choices. Fortunately for Kevin, his eye was bang on with this one. The E3 wears BBS RCs: “Because I just really like these wheels, I never considered any others!” he says. And they do work perfectly with the overall aesthetic; while clearly modernising the silhouette, that newness becomes less jarring in conjunction with the panscraping stance created by the air-ride. And hey, they’re hardly new-new, they’re a classic wheel in their own right now. Again, it’s all just about the appropriateness.
He gives us a coy smile when we ask how much this retro uniqueness has set him back so far: “A lot,” he replies enigmatically, “but when you love something, you don’t count the money! This always had to be something a bit special, being my grandfather’s beloved old car, so I couldn’t do anything that would totally alter its character, and yet I wanted to do something fun that would make it stand out on the scene. I took some inspiration from forums and car shows, and I basically just wanted it to be a bit different, more oldskool.” It was lucky that this family heirloom was waiting in the wings, then – it’s turned out to be the perfect base for a project with such clarity of vision.
All of those gorgeous classic touches, such as the fuel filler that sits behind the hinged rear number plate, the tall windscreen above the slender nose that makes it look like a Pixar character, the ‘automatic’ script on the bootlid, and the ohso- retro ashtrays in the rear doors, are superbly modernised by the simple concept of sitting it lower to the ground. And sometimes, with the right car, that’s pretty much all you need to stand out – no sense in changing things for the sake of change. Kevin’s E3 takes a near-perfect package and adds the finishing touches to create a showstopper. A success, wouldn’t you say?
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