- Post is under moderationLEADING THE WAY #BMW-M3-E92
Until very recently modifying cars was essentially illegal in China but that’s all changed and the country is now embracing tuning, as this supercharged #BMW-E92 #BMW-M3 goes to show. Simon Smith represents a small but growing fraction of the tuning demographic in China, and with the rules and regs surrounding vehicle mods now being more relaxed there, he’s a great example of what the country’s modifiers should be doing. Behold PBMW’s first Chinese feature car… Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Steven and JinJin.
“My mother taught me to drive in a manual. She put a bucket of water on the back seat to ensure that I changed gears smoothly. She’s a great driver with a heavy right foot,” laughs Simon Smith. His dad was also into cars and Simon has fond memories of him tinkering in the garage whilst growing up in Perth, Australia. It was inevitable, then, that once he turned 17 Simon started to experiment with tweaking the mechanics, styling and performance of a car and, in particular, how these elements could be modified and improved.
His first ride was a Chrysler Sigma GL Sedan. By his own admission it wasn’t the sexiest of cars and it wasn’t the fastest either but that didn’t stop Simon from modifying it. “I still remember cutting part of the guttering off the house to make side skirts. It also had a single chrome exhaust tip and race wire hubcaps that had a tendency to randomly fly off,” he recalls. At that point in time Simon never imagined he’d end up with the cars that are in his garage today: two #E92 M3s (the one you can see here and one of just 20 Frozen grey models imported to China); and his wife’s E70 X5 3.5.
So, why the fascination with BMW then, we ask Simon? “As long as I can remember I drooled over and wanted a BMW. Whilst most people long for a Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini or Aston Martin, I was always about the blue and white roundel. I think that their cars are amongst some of the most beautifully designed, inside and out, with excellent performance and handling, all of which reinforce the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ tag,” he replies.
As such Simon has remained brand-loyal ever since his first Beemer, a 1980 E21 323i, which is when we learn that he is also quite particular when it comes to selecting the model of car: “I’ve tended to buy my BMWs with three things in mind. First, it has to be a model that I love but can’t really afford!; second, it needs saving; and third, it has modification potential. The E21 ticked all of the boxes. I eventually sold it for more than I paid. I still remember the smile that car put on my face and the sense of achievement in owning my first BMW.”
From BMW’s first generation Three, he went on to own and modify an E30 318i and a 325i, an E46 330i and an E53 X5 (which was his first V8). This M3 was a long time coming; Simon never thought he’d own two at the same time, though! It was purely down to luck, as he explains: “Three months after I bought this 2010 model, one in the limited edition run of Frozen grey came up for sale. The owner had absolutely no idea of what he had – somewhat typical of people’s knowledge here in Shanghai – and was desperate to sell it.”
With new and relatively new and imported cars in China typically costing two-and-a-half times the market price of cars in the UK, Simon snapped it up. For this 2010 Jerez black M3, he was not so lucky, though, paying the equivalent of £62,000 in April last year – more than the list price of a brand-new highly spec’d M3 in the UK – and that was before registration, which costs another £12,500.
Yet despite the premium price tag Simon tells me that the overall condition of the car was below average – evident by the state of the engine bay, which had never been cleaned let alone properly maintained. It definitely fell into the ‘cars that need saving’ category! Frustratingly, the M3 that he first had his eye on sold the day he went to see it. This one arrived in the showroom the following day but looked like it had been driven though a muddy hedge sideways, not to mention it had some ugly non-M add-ons.
The first thing Simon did was rip them off before having the car professionally valeted and handed over to BMW for an Inspection 2 service. He then sent it to a friend’s workshop to have all of the dents and scratches removed, by which point it was ready for accessorising. “My wife suggested a shop called Mo-Tuning. I only went in there for the BMW matt black kidney grilles and, well, this place had every BMW and aftermarket part you could ever need and I wanted it all! By the end of day one I’d spent over £6000 and by the end of the project it had become my second home,” confesses Simon.
Within just 11 months Simon’s spending surpassed the car’s purchase price but for that he now has his very own equivalent of BM’s M3 GTS.
As Simon is such a fan of the M3’s original styling he saw no need to drastically alter the proportions. Instead he chose parts that enhance the car’s attitude and purpose, including a carbon fibre Vorsteiner GTS-V front spoiler with integrated brake cooling ducts, a CSL-style bootlid, a rear diffuser and side skirts. Part of the reason why Simon went for Vorsteiner is because all of its components are put under intensive development and testing with performance and track functionality at their core. True to BMW’s philosophy, design follows function. Simon’s not too keen on lots of exposed carbon, and given his intentions to track it, he was also keen to protect the paintwork, so a 3M full vinyl wrap in matt black was the perfect solution.
Just under one third of Simon’s spend has been on the engine. It all started with a Gruppe M cold air intake kit, Ignition Project Plasma Coils, which produce four times more spark energy than the stock coils, Active Autowerke under drive pulley set and UPsolute ECU remap. These mods, along with the Eisenmann Race exhaust and connecting pipes with an IPE cat-less downpipe and mid-section, delivered 473hp on a rolling road dyno test – which is an additional 53hp. Interestingly, his other M3 was putting out 450hp with just an air intake and exhaust.
Of course, the biggest increase came with the ESS VT2 625 supercharger. Unfortunately, the car’s not been dyno’d since but Simon reckons it produces around 625hp and 410lb ft of torque at 6.5 to 7psi of boost and in his own words, ‘it’s stupidly fast’. Not surprisingly it is his favourite part of the car. “It whines like a banshee when it’s started from cold,” says Simon with a devilish giggle again. “The car probably has more power than it will ever need, but who cares? It’s just nice to know you can blow away pretty much anything on the road, and on the Shanghai International track you can really appreciate all those 600 odd horses because you unleash it to its full potential.”
The next area in-line for modification was the chassis, which accounts for a respectable 45 per cent of the budget. Whilst the stock setup is pretty decent, a KW Dynamic Damping Control kit allows Simon the flexibility to further customise it for track use so that he can lower the car and firm up the ride to suit a specific circuit layout and conditions. He also invested in Hardrace bushes, to improve steering feel and increase stability during high speed cornering, an adjustable camber and alignment kit to reduce tyre wear and H&R anti-roll bars, to further aid grip and reduce body roll.
The hardest part of the build was deciding what wheel and tyre setup to use. With the additional power, Simon was after a wider contact patch to give better cornering performance and road-feel without having to resort to a body kit or extending the rear arches. “I love the CSL wheels, and my first set of wheels were 19” HRE Performance P40s in matt black but I recently swapped those out for 19” Klassen ID M52Rs which feature Y-shaped spokes that are perfect for revealing the massive Brembo GT-R brake kit,” explains Simon. The wheels are shod in Pirelli P Zero Trofeo semi-slicks but he’s since found that the 19s rub during hard use on track so he’s invested in a set of 18” Advan TCIIIs.
The interior was last part of the project to be completed and took around a week to do. “I originally wanted a full M3 GTS interior, so no rear seats and a roll-cage in their place, until I stumbled across an article that said unless you owned a GTS you wouldn’t be able to get any of the parts.
The fact that I lived in a country where they didn’t even import that model of car pretty much put an end to my idea,” explains Simon. Plan B consisted of BMW Performance seats and a full retrim to match in black leather and Alcantara – there’s no horrid Fox red interior to be seen anywhere! At the same time he also fitted a 2014 M6 multi-function steering wheel – the standard item apparently aging badly in comparison to the rest of the interior, fourpoint harnesses and an #AWRON gauge. It’s a real trick bit of kit and a must-have for any track junkie. As well as displaying the water and oil temperature, it will also show you air/fuel ratio, boost pressure, voltage, horsepower, torque, G-forces, velocity, and quarter-mile times. Best of all, though, it’s all contained in an OEM replacement vent assembly to seamlessly blend in with the car’s dash and you use the cruise control switch to scroll through the real-time data.
Considering the fact that modifying was pretty much illegal up until a few months ago in China, it’s quite a shock to hear that Simon only had to import a few parts himself with Mo-Tuning able to get most of it. Thanks to his experience with previous projects and extensive research (either online or through this very magazine) before embarking on any mods, the entire journey was relatively trouble-free. Whilst his car is revolutionary in China, every one of his upgrades had been done before somewhere else in the world so there was plenty of information available.
“Even out-of-the-box, the M3 is an impressive car – from the noise and performance of the V8 to its handling and styling – but now I’ve taken it all to a whole new level. It’s the costliest project I’ve ever undertaken and every area of the car is now almost virtually unrecognisable but it’s without doubt my favourite BMW of all time. That, and the Frozen grey one, of course,” confesses Simon.
It’s fair to say that the car has set a new benchmark within his local car scene but he’s clearly thrown a lot of money at it. The best thing about this car, though, is it’s built purely for driving. “There’s really nothing more I want to do, I’ve taken it as far as I think I can without overdoing it, ruining the essence of the M3 or screwing up the reliability, styling and handling,” Simon explains. “It’s exactly how I envisaged it looking and feeling whilst retaining what BMW’s M engineers spent years creating.”
That said, as we all know too well, there’s always something that can be fitted to enhance a project. For instance he’s currently waiting on the RKP Clubsport GTS-style rear aero wing, which will provide some much needed downforce on the Shanghai circuit, especially on the 1170m main straight where he’s already clocked 174mph. “I hope to do more on track later. I received my Chinese racing licence late last year which is, in part, what drove the extent of the modifications. The plan is to get even more serious and perhaps enter a few events. It’s the safest and most legal way to truly take this car to its limits,” Simon says.
I couldn’t agree more. With a new group of consumers emerging in China, who are also of the opinion that what’s on offer in showrooms isn’t enough, Simon and his car are a fantastic inspiration to what the world’s media now call the ‘Tuner Tribe’. Numbering in their thousands, they are a small minority of the country’s 137 million car owners, but increasing interest in car customisation is a sign of a broader trend in China, and if Simon is one of the new generation emerging, then it’s country that shows great promise.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 4.0-litre V8 #S65B40 , #ESS-VT2-625 supercharger, Ignition Project plasma coils, VF Engineering oil cooler upgrade, Eisenmann Race exhaust system (painted gloss black) and connecting pipes, IPE cat-less downpipe, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.
CHASSIS: 9x19” (front) with H&R 5mm spacers and 11x19” (rear) Klassen M52R forged wheels (powdercoated matt black) with 245/30 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Pirelli P Zero Trofeo tyres. KW Dynamic Damping Control kit, H&R anti-roll bars, Hardrace bushings and adjustable camber and alignment kit. Brembo GT-R brake kit consisting of six-pot calipers (front) and four-pot calipers (rear) with 380mm two-piece floating slotted discs all-round.
EXTERIOR: Vorsteiner GTS-V carbon front spoiler, side skirts, CSL-style bootlid and rear diffuser, 3M matt black wrap, roof painted gloss black, BMW matt black kidney grilles, black gloss side mirrors and black side indicator covers, custom black gloss front and rear mesh, BMW LCI brake light upgrade, Bellof LED driving lights.
INTERIOR: BMW Performance front seats, Wilson four-point harnesses, full retrim in black leather and Alcantara, BMW M6 steering wheel, AWRON gauge, Ziza LED interior lighting upgrade.
THANKS: My wife, Sarah who let me fulfill my M3 dreams… twice; my children, Sachen (5) and Scarlett (3) who participate with me on track days, encouraging me to “go faster”, and now generally love anything supercharged; Rose and the team at Mo-Tuning (www.mo-tuning.com), who, like me, were in the pursuit of perfection with this project and went all out to make sure it came together as I wanted; Victor and Steve from BMW Magazine (China) who have taken hundreds of awesome pictures and also helped to share the lessons learned and experiences gained amongst the local #BMW modifying community.
The car probably has more power than it will ever need, but who cares?
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- Post is under moderationTHE ILLUSIONIST
When is an M3 not an M3? When it’s actually is #BMW-330d … It might look like an E92 M3, but this Space grey coupé is a 330d underneath that’s been treated to a stunning conversion.
As BMW fans we pride ourselves on being able to pick BMWs out of the motoring crowd from half-a-mile away and differentiate between models with nothing more than the briefest of glances. But every now and again a car comes along that will stump even the most eagle-eyed of #BMW aficionados. A car that has been executed so well and finished to such a high standard that only with the most scrutinising investigation are you able to tell what it really is.
This E92 is one such car. At first glance, and second glance and even third glance, if you were inclined to spend so long looking at a grey E92, you would almost certainly be convinced that you were looking at an M3. Except you wouldn’t be because, as you will have gathered by now, it’s actually a 330d. Yes, there are a couple of tells from the outside – the brakes are too small for an M3 and, if you look very closely, carefully and at the right angle you can see the intercooler tucked away behind the central air intake in the bumper. Aside from that, though, there’s nothing to suggest that this is anything other than an E92 M3, and that’s impressive.
The car belongs to Clair Bayliss and, between herself and husband Pete, they’ve had more than their fair share of cars, especially BMWs, over the years. “I get bored really quickly,” admits Clair, “and I like to change cars often.” Going through the list of previous acquisitions, I’m inclined to agree. There have been, for example, no less than five E30s in various shapes and sizes, two E36 M3s (a Coupé and a Convertible), two E46 330Ci Sports, an E46 Convertible and an X5 Sport. That’s quite some list, but it’s still only scratching the surface of just how many cars have passed through the couple’s hands over the years, but then again variety is the spice of life.
This isn’t the first time that Pete has tried his hand at turning a regular BMW into an M-lookalike, with an E60 530d Sport having undergone the transformation into a pseudo M5 previously. Clair shows me the pictures and it looks pretty spectacular, with nothing to give the game away. Having done such an impressive job the first time around, it’s no surprise that this E92 looks so good. The decision to carry out another conversion came about when Clair got bored with the E92 330d, good a car as it is. The only trouble was what to replace it with? Its blend of performance, economy and practicality – even in Coupé form, as the child seat in the back attests – are hard to beat. While some ideas were flung about, none of them really ticked all the boxes, and that’s when the idea of carrying out another conversion arose.
There are two things you need to know about Pete. First, he doesn’t cut corners. Second, he’s a hands-on kind of guy, so when I say that he did the conversion, he really did the conversion, in the back garden over a few weekends. Every panel you see on the outside is genuine and, in most cases, brandnew genuine M3 items. Just the bonnet is secondhand but it’s still the real deal. As is often the case, the most impressive bits of the conversion are the ones you can’t see.
For example, the M3’s nose is fractionally longer than that of the regular E92, as Pete found out whilst working on the front of the car. It meant that he had to buy a complete M3 front panel to make everything fit perfectly. The rear arches were welded in and then sprayed by a bodyshop. There’s also an M3 boot floor in order to accommodate the M3 exhaust system. Like I said, no corners cut, no expense spared. Clair’s E92 rolls on a set of 20” CSL replica alloys while a set of Eibach springs have given it a ride height more becoming of a car that looks like an M3, with a hefty 40mm drop up front and a 30mm drop at the rear.
Open the door and the first thing that will no doubt strike you is gear knob. Yup, this 330d is a manual, the first one I’ve come across and probably one of only a handful in the country. Pete has made sure the interior has not been forgotten about and up front there are a pair of M3 seats along with an M steering wheel – enough to transform it from ordinary to something rather more special.
Pete’s also decided to upgrade the standard stereo and put in some beefier ICE – nothing too outlandish, but just enough to make a difference with a Pioneer headunit, a set of MB Quartz components, a Kenwood amp and a 12” JL Audio subwoofer to round things off.
The overall end result is nothing short of awesome because it looks so damn good and has been done so well. Of course, with all the genuine M3 parts and the amount of work that has gone into the car, the conversion wasn’t cheap, coming in at £5000 in parts, and no doubt there will be plenty of people quick to pipe up and point out that you could pick up a cheap, early, #BMW-E92 M3 for the cost of the conversion on top of the 330d. You certainly wouldn’t be far off but as Clair points out, and I agree wholeheartedly, buying an M3 and being able to afford to run an M3 are two entirely different things with fuel being the main problem. With an M3 likely to return around half of what the 330d can manage, when you’re talking about a daily driver it’s a big deal and would make it an expensive experience. Of course, you’re missing out on that V8 but with a remap and DPF removal, the 330d is putting out some serious power with a mountain of torque on top and that means that this is a seriously quick car. All that performance combined with the impressive economy makes for just about the perfect package.
With Pete’s handiwork, Clair gets to enjoy 330d economy with M3 looks, and she seems pretty happy about the situation. Of course, this all came about because she’d got bored of the 330d but the M3 conversion has given the car a fresh lease of life and while there has been talk of performance Audis from Pete, Clair seems pretty made up right now and I don’t blame her because this is one seriously nice BMW.
DATA FILE #BMW-330d-E92 #N57
ENGINE: 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel #N57D30O0 , remap, DPF removed, #E92 M3 exhaust.
TRANSMISSION: Standard six-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS: 8.5x20” (front) and 10x20” (rear) CSL replica wheels, #Eibach lowering springs.
EXTERIOR: Complete E92 M3 conversion with genuine E92 M3 front wings, side skirts, rear quarters, front bumper, rear bumper, bonnet, complete front panel, M3 boot floor, mirrors, boot spoiler.
INTERIOR: E92 M3 leather seats, M steering wheel, Pioneer head unit, #MB-Quartz component speakers, Kenwood amp, 12” JL Audio W3 subwoofer.
THANKS TO: Marky Mark (Bodyshop)
Tel: 07712 488740
Bains Tyre Services: 01332 343555
Albert Looms of Derby: 01332 673663
Gaz & Jay Perfect for sorting the shoot location
Eddie Butler for helping Pete with the transformation
M3 boot floor was installed to allow M3 exhaust to be fitted.
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- Post is under moderationA STATE OF RAPTURE #BMW-525d
There’s a lot to be said for individuality and this bagged, wrapped #BMW-E61 Touring embodies that perfectly. Brown, bagged and not shy with it, this E61 Touring definitely makes a statement.
Supermodels come in all shapes and sizes; this is established. The last 40 or so years has seen stickthin figures sashaying down the world’s catwalks as best they can, wearing the latest clothes from the most popular designers. With all the world of fashion’s finery hanging off their frames and bottles of fragrances glittering in their eyes, they sell us all the things, including the cars, we lust after.
Meanwhile, as if in some sort of parallel alternate reality, the cars we drive have increased in size as the supermodels have shrunk. There are many reasons for this, such as safety regulations, but initially it was because car size was a symbol of status. Cars expanded as manufacturers established themselves while beginning to profit rather than simply survive, and the public increasingly paid out for big cars to use as status symbols.
Once upon a time, before physiology was fully understood in terms of general wellbeing, it was the same with the human form. A large man or woman was telling the world that they were successful, that they could afford the fine foods that most people could not. This is actually still the case in a lot of the developing world. However, as for the car and its safety regulations, increased size is a necessary evil that designers are having to work hard to disguise in exactly the same way as a designer will use the lines of a dress to accentuate the human form. Obviously, people have different preferences to their neighbour in all areas of life and cars are one of the primary ways that people choose to express this aspect of themselves. One person might prefer minimalism and a svelte profile, whereas another (such as yours truly) might prefer a bolder approach featuring curves and larger forms in all the right places.
In fact, my personal preference is for cars with the larger rear ends, and it would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise. Most people would struggle to deny that, when a Touring comes into view with a wrap job such as this, one gets sprung.
One such car is Emil Ryding’s #BMW-525d-Touring #E61 Touring as shown here in all its Euro scene glory. Emil is in his early 30s and runs his own truck company located in the outskirts of Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, and this big, bold supermodel is a daily ride for his girlfriend, young child and dog. It is certainly an eye-catching tool for promoting a small local business.
Emil’s love of BMW was initially inspired by Volvo, in a roundabout way. Let’s be honest, the Swedish car manufacturer was always going to crop up in this feature. “My first car was a #1979 #Volvo-244 , only because it was cheap!” he said. The first car Emil ever tuned was an #1986 744 turbo with an estimated 240hp: “I bought that one to be faster than my brother’s #BMW-325i !” So he hasn’t ever been one for mucking about. Sibling rivalries aren’t fly-by-night deals either, and the competition rumbled on to the point where Emil eventually realized he would have to buy in to Bavaria. “My first BMW was the #M535 from 1986, in Diamond black with yellow leather interior. It was, and is, one of my all-time favourite cars, and has one of the most beautiful bodies.” He’s certainly not shy of an Eighties classic and has no particular brand loyalty as he also runs an Audi ur-quattro, the legs of which he stretches on track and shows off at meets as often as possible. Our admiration for Emil is established as he demonstrates a depth of variation in his preferences, not discriminating by age and also knowing when to modify and when to keep it straight and original.
The start of his journey into modified modernity began with a relatively specific remit. “I wanted a stanced car with air-ride as a daily driver that both fitted my kid and dog and could tow a car trailer behind,” he explains. “In 2012, my friends Jan Axelsson and Richard Klarby convinced me to go with them to an amazing week at the pre-meet in Wörthersee, a big VW meet in Austria, and after that I knew that I wanted a stanced car.”
The quest for a car with a quality air-ride system that suited his practical and aesthetic demands began. “It took me a year before I found this one,” Emil said. “I found it about 300km from home. It was really beautiful and though the carbon fibre splitter in the custom front was cracked and one of the rims was scratched it was easy to fix!” He had settled on a #2004 #525d #E61 Touring with the body kit seen here under the wrap. Credit for the fantastic detail on the air install and the addition of the rare Gnosis-1 rims from US-based Work Wheels goes to Henrik Schmidt. Legend has it that these wheels are the only such examples in all of Sweden.
Like so many fashion designers and auto modification aficionados before him, Emil took the opportunity to take in some shows and have a look at the prevalent mode du jour in the wider scene. “That summer we were invited down to the XS CarNight meet and also as VIP guests at Felgenoutlet BBQ in Dresden, Germany, with my quattro. So we put the Audi onto a trailer behind the BMW, drove 1300km down there, and displayed both cars at the shows. People could not believe their ears when I told them that I drove the whole way from Stockholm, Sweden in the BMW dragging a car and trailer behind it!”
Having attended those two big shows with the car in its original silver, the call of individuality proved irresistible and the designer cut his cloth. “I wanted to make the car more personal so, in the winter of 2013, I made this version of it because it was to be displayed at the Elmia Custom Motorshow in the spring of 2014. It’s the biggest motorshow in Sweden. So we tore the car into pieces and started wrapping it. With a little help, I picked a matt metallic brown wrap from Avery Supreme and did the trim and some details in gold. We did the job in my everyday parking garage!”
If you look closely, you’ll notice evidence of Emil letting his creative side fly a little further than the usual wrap job. “We also put stickers under the vinyl, so you can only see the outlines of them if you look really closely. The car has a unique one-off look. You can’t find a similar one anywhere. That was the goal with the car; it looks extreme but you can use it every day. I really do use it as a daily driver; it works perfectly. With the diesel engine, an automatic gearbox, and electric leather seats it’s comfortable, too.” This project was always about form over function, which is why Emil hasn’t altered the interior or the drivetrain, since BMW’s big diesel Touring pedigree is long established as a competent and comfortable breed. The foundations that allow for the functions of form required of it remain, and the form has followed Emil’s inspiration from Europe’s finest scenes. “I wanted it to stand out in a crowd but still be tasteful and, of course, as low and wide as possible.” When pressed on his favourite aspect of this build Emil told us: “It’s the car’s stance. When you park it next to another car and just drop the air out of the system until the arches are touching the aluminium rims… I love that.”
As with every expression of oneself, the highlights of the experience are usually the initial completion of a project, with the sporadic bursts of attention when you choose to show your work to the crowds that it is designed for. For Emil it was no different. “The best moment was when I drove the finished modified car out of the garage after a long winter, ready for the Custom Motorshow.”
Nature will mete out the good with the bad, however, and there have been one or two ‘alternative’ moments. “The most frustrating moment so far was on the trip back to Sweden from Dresden,” said Emil. “We got a flat tyre on the BMW about 500km from home in the middle of the night, dragging another car on a trailer behind us! We got towed to a tyre shop in Helsingborg and woke the owner up. He changed the tyre for us, even though it’s not easy to find tyres to fit those rims and at about 2am we continued our journey.”
After all the hard work he put into this project, it seems Emil’s time with the car is coming to an end. “I think this one is done now,” he said. “I am going to sell this car and probably buy a Marrakesh brown #BMW-X1 so that both my girlfriend and I can drive the car, although I will probably stance that one too!”
Like any fashion designer, Emil has researched carefully, taken inspiration from the greats, brought his own mind to bear and created something unique and thought provoking. He has then sent it confidently down the catwalk in front of his peers and they have approved. His model hasn’t been the most conventional of choices, being big and, er, practical but the forms in between the lines have taken very well to the colours and highlights his vision had for it. We can’t wait to see what the 2015 season has in store for Emil.
DATA FILE 2004 #BMW-525d-E61
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.5-litre straight-six #M57TUD25 , standard #ZF6HP six-speed auto.
CHASSIS: 9.5x19” ET10 (front) and 10.5x19” ET15 (rear) Work Gnosis GS-1 wheels with 15mm (front) and 20mm (rear) spacers, with 215/35 (front) and 235/35 (rear) Nankang NS-2 tyres, BC V1 coilovers custom-built with airbags
EXTERIOR: M Sport front bumper with #E92 #M3 lower section with carbon fibre lip, matt copper brown metallic wrap from Avery Supreme, tinted windows, gold wrapped exterior trim.
INTERIOR: Accuair e-Level TouchPad, hand-painted five-gallon tank in boot, twin Viair 444c compressors.
AUDIO: #Hertz speakers and amplifier, ES 200.5 8” subwoofer.
THANKS: Klarby and Veegeek for the inspiration trip, Stalle for all help and company, Tvedahl Design for tinted windows, Linda ‘Klisterbitchen’ Sandell for wrapping and saving my ass, Anni for wrapping, Kometfoto, TQR. se.
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- Post is under moderationPEAK PERFORMANCE
C2K Motorsports’ stunning, supercharged Santorini #E92-M3 is about as good as it gets. It doesn’t get much better than a supercharged #E92 #M3 , and they don’t get much better than this. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Crooks Life Photography.
Modified M4s are starting to become popular and they’re looking really good, but then you come across an E92 M3 that looks like this, a car that’s pretty much achieved motoring perfection, and you can’t help but wonder if any M4 will ever look this good…
The lucky man who’s been able to experience this BMW nirvana is Curt Wilson, pilot and aerospace engineer by trade and owner of C2K Motorsports. Unless you don’t know what an internet is, you will be familiar with this particular E92 M3 because it’s been enjoying life in the spotlight across social media for some time now, and with good reason. Take a good, long look at those pictures and you will fall in love with this E92 M3. Everything from the colour, that vivid shade of Santorini blue, to the aggressive aerodynamic additions and those stunning HRE wheels combines to create one of the most striking and visually delightful E92 M3s that we’ve ever seen.
Curt’s BMW journey actually began just eight years ago, though his passion for cars is most definitely long-standing, as the 30-year-old Las Vegas resident explains: “As a teenager I was into the import street racing scene. My first car was a #2001 #Toyota-Celica , which I built with a custom turbo kit and eventually blew up. My next car was a Dodge Neon SRT-4 with a 60 trim turbo making over 400whp. I then got into autocross and road course racing and purchased a Honda S2000 which, to this day, is one of my favourite cars! BMW has always been an iconic brand to me. I envied the E36 and #E46 M3s as I was growing up. The sound/performance of the straight-six motor, the aggressive stance and luxury yet motorsport-inspired design confirmed the phrase ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’. I remember as a kid I used to work as a field hand for a pilot whose hobby was growing tobacco. He drove a red 318i with manual gearbox that he would drive me and my friends home in. It was the coolest car I had ever ridden in! I was unable to afford a BMW until after I had started my career which only made my long-awaited ownership that much more euphoric. Having come from a street racer background the twin-turbo straight-six was the Holy Grail of performance. When I heard details about the new N54 motor in the E90 335i I knew I had to own one. I bought my first #BMW in #2007 in the form of a #E90 335i.”
This 335i was followed by another #335i , a #135i , an #E93 335i Convertible and also an #E60 #M5 with a Corsa exhaust, which, says Curt “made the most glorious noise of any of my cars but was just too big and had obscene gas consumption”. His time spent looking at M3s in his youth was not forgotten, though, and when he caught wind of BMW Individual and European delivery, he realised that an E9x M3 built to his exact specification in his ideal colour was within his reach. “I’m an active online blogger and Bimmerpost member,” he says. “I always aspired to one day build an inspirational project car like the insane builds that I had admired in various posts and publications. I remember seeing a few spy shots of a special UK edition colour for the #E92 M3 called Santorini blue. I spent hours staring at every photo I could find of the colour and decided that I must have it! I brokered an individual Euro delivery deal on a manual Santorini E92 with Speed cloth. It’s just one of eight US Santorini cars and the only one ever made with this exact spec.
Some time later I found myself in Munich after a couple months of agonising anticipation. The entire experience, from the excitement while waiting, the city of Munich, the delivery process, touring the German countryside and even driving on the Nürburgring was much more enjoyable and outright satisfying than anything I could have imagined. After the trip I had an affinity and connection with the car that eclipsed any reservations that would prevent me from building it exactly how I wanted it to be,” and so Curt began to do just that.
If you own an E92 M3 then you pretty much need to supercharge it, it’s almost like an unspoken rule, and ESS are the go-to guys when it comes to strapping blowers to the #S65 V8, so that’s exactly where Curt went. “I wanted to retain linear and useable power delivery that could match the upgraded suspensions/brakes/wheels and knew that I couldn’t reach my HP goals without forced induction. The ESS VT-1 supercharger system was the obvious choice due to their quality, reliability and customer support.” The ‘entry-level’ ESS kit is anything but basic, delivering enough power to make you sit up and take notice, but the centrifugal supercharger retains the same linear power delivery as the engine in standard form, meaning it feels similar to drive, just much quicker, the main difference being there’s a lot more power being delivered at every step in the rev range. How much power? Well, Curt says the car now makes 550whp with 330lb ft at the wheels on regular unleaded, which is around 600hp at the flywheel and a serious gain over the standard 420hp.
Every E9x M3 also deserves a performance exhaust because it makes them sound so damn good, and here Curt has opted for a full ESS Tuning system, complete with high-flow cats and thermal coating. With a lot more go, Curt’s M3 also needed a lot more stop and so he turned to StopTech, manufacturer of fine and rather large BBKs, and opted for the beefy ST-60 six-pot front calipers with mighty 380mm drilled discs and at the rear you’ll find the ST-40 four-pot caliper kit with 355mm discs, also drilled, which is big enough to serve as a front kit on some cars. The finishing touch was a flourish of Ferrari yellow paint to make them stand out and it was job done. We’d say the E9x M3 is a not a car that is particularly wheel sensitive – it’s very hard to pick a set that doesn’t look good and Curt’s selection here looks absolutely awesome on this E92 M3. “HRE was my first and only choice,” he says. “Its reputation and quality is unsurpassed in the high-end sports car community. I wanted a lightweight wheel with a design that was not too far from OEM appearance but with a special colour which is why I chose the FF01 in custom ‘Fog’ textured finish. I had a hard time letting go of my OEM GTS wheels but as soon as I saw the car with the HREs installed I knew I’d made the right choice!”
The FF01 is part of HRE’s FlowForm range and it’s a stunning-looking wheel, with its sculpted, twin seven-spoke design, slight concave shape and impeccable attention to detail. And the Fog finish really is the icing on the cake, a sort of matt, sparkling graphite that looks almost velvety. It was an inspired choice and the wheels look absolutely gob-smacking on the #BMW-M3 . They measure 9x19” up front and 10.5x19” at the back and are wrapped in seriously wide Toyo Proxes T1 Sport rubber – 255/35 up front and 295/30 at the rear with not an ounce of stretch in sight, it’s all about front-end grip and rear-end traction with this setup, with a Treadwear tyre lettering kit adding the finishing touch.
The suspension choice is also all about performance, though it has given this E92 M3 a purposeful drop, with a KW Clubsport coilover kit nestling in the wheel arches, offering two-way damping and adjustment and complete with EDC emulators, which prevent the EDC warning coming up on the dash when you switch to an aftermarket suspension setup. “The KW Clubsport kit is my favourite modification on the car,” enthuses Curt. “It changed the dynamic of the M3 more than any other aspect. The stance, stiffness and feedback that the clubsports gave the car are all vital aspects that I have come to supremely appreciate. Full coilovers will be the first modification on any of my future cars.”
With such an awesome exterior colour on top of the M3’s rugged good looks, Curt rightly didn’t want to go OTT when it came to any styling additions and his choices help to give the #BMW-E92 some more visual punch, upgrading it from a right hook to an all-out, KO blow uppercut. “I chose a relatively new company at the time, Mode Carbon, for my aero-kit,” he explains. “It makes an excellent GT4 style front lip, unique carbon fibre side skirts and rear LM series diffuser. Their fitment and quality was spot-on and since my first purchases from the company it has grown to be one of the most well-respected and recognised carbon fibre companies in the BMW and #Mercedes community.”
The carbon front splitter looks aggressive and lets you know that this M3 really means business. The rear wing isn’t shy either and the carbon additions tie in perfectly with the whole black and blue theme that Curt has got going on across the whole car, which includes the black towing strap, custom ONEighty NYC headlights and black exhaust tips peeking out from that rear diffuser. Inside, Curt has kept the same theme going with some heavy-duty upgrades that don’t leap out and smack you in the face. “I chose Stätus racing seats due to their wide variety of customisable made-to-order options. Initially I ordered the Ring FiA seats which were extremely snug but I eventually exchanged them for the wider GTX variant which is much more comfortable for my 6’3” 200lb frame.
“I ordered black suede with Santorini blue stitching. The suede seats match the Alcantara BMW performance steering wheel and knob with custom suede shift and e-brake boots. The final interior modification was a roll-cage from Autopower Industries which was moulded into the stock rear interior and painted black to retain the subtle and refined luxury of the original BMW interior.” The singlepiece seats are serious but don’t look out of place and that roll-cage is incredibly subtle thanks to its black finish and the Santorini highlights are the perfect finishing touch.
Curt says that he spared no expense on the modifications and it shows, his car wants for nothing and he loves it but he remains humble despite the fact that the car has become something of an international online celebrity. “The car is very popular on Instagram and one of my favourite and most humbling compliments is when people from all over the world send me images of exact replicas of the car that they have built in video games. It really means a lot to me that people like the car enough to take the time to replicate it down to minute details such as the sponsors on my time attack doorcard.” We’ve seen a lot of modified E9x M3s here at BMW towers over the years, all of them incredible machines but the fact that every once in a while, one comes along that still manages to wow us is the most incredible thing of all, and we couldn’t be happier about that.
Gorgeous HRE FF01 flow formed wheels in Fog finish suit the M3 perfectly and the Treadwear tyre lettering kit adds some visual flair; monster StopTech BBK offers serious stopping power. Interior has been treated to Stätus Racing Ring GTX seats with Santorini stitching and Schroth harnesses plus an Autopower Industries roll-cage; ESS VT-1 550 supercharger boasts carbon intake plenum.
DATA FILE #BMW-M3-E92
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 4.0-litre V8 #S65B40 , ESS Tuning #VT-1 550 Supercharger system with limited production carbon fibre plenum, ESS Tuning full exhaust system with high flow cats and thermal coating, standard six-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS: 9x19” ET25 (front) and 10.5x19” ET26 (rear) HRE FF01 wheels in Fog finish with 255/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) #Toyo Proxes T1 Sport tyres, Treadwear tyre lettering kit, MRG Race Co titanium racing stud conversion, KW Clubsport two-way adjustable suspension with EDC emulators, #StopTech ST-60 #BBK with 380mm drilled discs (front) and ST-40 BBK with 355mm drilled discs (rear), calipers painted Ferrari yellow (front and rear).
EXTERIOR: Mode Carbon GT4 front lip spoiler, Mode Carbon carbon fibre side skirt extensions, Mode Carbon LM Series rear diffuser, Mode Carbon GTS rear spoiler, #ONEighty NYC custom headlights, iND Blackout grilles/ gills/bonnet vents, iND tow strap and painted tow strap cover, Car-Pro C-Quartz compounding and paint correction.
INTERIOR: Stätus Racing Ring GTX seats in Ultra Suede with Santorini blue stitching, Autopower Industries bolt-in Racing roll-cage, Schroth Racing quickset fourpoint harnesses, #BMW-Performance steering wheel, BMW Performance gear knob, custom suede gear lever and handbrake gaiters.
THANKS: Sam and Nick at Mode Carbon, Roman at ESS Tuning, Greg, Laurent, and Jorge at HRE Wheels, Stan at Toyo Tires, George at KW Suspensions, Matt at Status Racing, Theo and Corey at The Specialist Detail Studio, BMW David at Steve Thomas BMW, Jimmy at Crooks Life Photography, Todd at Trophy Performance and my wife for putting up with my obsession.
Carbon galore adorns the E92 M3 with a front lip spoiler, side skirts, rear diffuser and wing all coming from Mode Carbon; custom ONEighty headlights are very smart.
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- Post is under moderationRETURN TO FORM
After almost a decade away from BMWs, Walter Bucco built this gorgeous grey #E46 #M3 and came back with a vengeance. How do you return to the BMW scene after almost a decade lost in the wilderness and still manage to hit the headlines? We try to discover Walter Bucco’s secret with his subtle but stunning #E46-M3 . Text: Words and Photos. Photos: Matt Petrie.
In North America, Walter Bucco is regarded as one of the originators of the E46 tuning scene, latching on to the new Motorsport model as soon as it arrived in dealerships in #2001 . His early adoption of the M3 in striking Laguna Seca blue, not to mention his thorough reworking of its looks and specification with high-end components from Euro luminaries such as #AC-Schnitzer , #Harmann and #Hartge , endowed him with the double-barrelled ‘OG Pappa Smurf’ nickname that has stuck to this day.
Remember, this was a time when the internet was still in its infancy and inspirational material was much more difficult to find than via a simple Google image search. Meanwhile, parts from famous Euro brands often had to be ordered the long-winded way, from foreign catalogues and through expensive personal imports. No wonder the pioneers of the scene were so admired. Walter’s partnership with the #BMW-E46-M3 was not only recognised by others but became a defining chapter in his own car-life. Because despite defecting from the Munich marque to the Stuttgart species in 2005, it took the New Jersey resident a good six years to eventually realise that no amount of time, money or factory-approved tinkering from Aufrecht Melcher Grossapach (I didn’t know it meant that either ~ Ed) was able to recreate the enjoyment and involvement offered by his sorely missed Beemer.
In 2011 Walter made the decision to return to the good old days with another E46. By that point, however, the third-generation M3 had been out of production for four years and the next-generation #E92 Coupé was already halfway through its life cycle. So if our man was to stand any chance of recreating a dream period in his life, the second-hand example he needed to turn up would have to stand up to superfine scrutiny.
After months of searching, this 2004 model was found. Admittedly, its Silver grey paintwork (code A08) was in relatively poor condition due to an owner that preferred mechanical brush washes rather than being caressed clean with lamb’s wool mittens and a strict two-bucket cleaning regime. Yet in every other respect it had been meticulously maintained and, best of all, featured the sought-after Cinnamon nappa leather upholstery.
Drawn as he is to BMWs, Walter’s devotion did not extend to a straightforward refresh of the paintwork in the original hue. He wanted to stay in the grey spectrum and knew of a remarkable-looking shade available on the #Ferrari-458-Italia called Grigio Medio. Despite not having a flake of pearl metallic at its disposal, this grey paint is able to change colour like a chameleon as it reacts to different light qualities. Perhaps because of this, its precise ingredients are as closely guarded as the recipe for Coca-Cola; known only by its maker. Nevertheless, with a little muscleflexing by the bodyshop and countless weeks of email wrangling with the Ferrari factory the code was finally released for mixing.
Before the car could be given its stunning new coat, however, Walter wanted to source a new Europeanspecification OEM front bumper. Why? Though essentially the same design, it does without the awkwardly placed reflectors that interrupt the US model’s ‘feng shui’. Much later, this smooth front end was enhanced with an authentic Hartge carbon fibre front splitter, an item Walter describes as “painstakingly brutal” to source… and no doubt pay for. We assume he is now very careful when parking the car or tackling driveway inclines. This was paired at the opposing end with an AC Schnitzer diffuser, shaved of its ugly exposed bolts and painted to match the rest of the trim.
With a beautiful framework prepared it was time to decide on the rolling stock, the vital item upon which everything else hangs. And, once again, Walter avoided the easy option. He bought a set of second-hand Racing Dynamics RS2 split-rim wheel centres, got them restored and colour-coded to match the body, and then proceeded to equip them with all-new barrels, lips and hardware to a secret offset. All we know is that the final measurements are 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) and that with some careful fine-tuning of a new KW coilover setup the arch clearance and stance is now absolutely spot-on. If you’d like to know, our definition of this is an arch radius that eclipses halfway into the depth of the tyre sidewall.
Engine-wise, the #BMW E46 M3 was known for a having a powerplant that offered the highest specific output of any naturally aspirated engine yet produced by BMW. Admittedly, the US-specification model was a little down on power compared to European versions due to a couple of strangulating catalysts but it was still a screamer with raised compression, high-lift cams, Double #VANOS variable valve timing and finger-type rocker arms within a lightweight alloy head.
Walter has not strayed far from standard with this project, trusting that BMW’s M technicians really do know their stuff. In fact, their expertise has been employed in an additional area through the fitment of freerflowing exhaust manifolds and catalytic converters designed for the limited edition #BMW-E46-M3-CSL , a model that was never available in North America. From this beginning, the exhaust culminates in a meaty-sounding stainless steel Status Gruppe Tuning back box with two pairs of discreet black tailpipes. Compared to the OE item, this muffler is literally half the weight and releases three to five brake horsepower through more efficient evacuation.
As a specialist publication tasked with publicising performance BMWs we see countless examples of modified E46 M3s yet we can’t remember another car that looks as good as this on such a modest specification sheet. Of course, that does not mean it has been easy to elevate the car to this level, but few people have Walter’s history with the model; a modifying experience that literally goes back to the very beginning of the breed. With this car our man has definitely posted a return to form.
ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 , OEM E46 M3 CSL manifolds and catalytic converters, Status Gruppe Tuning stainless steel back box with optional black tailpipes, OE six-speed Getrag gearbox.
CHASSIS: 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) Racing Dynamics RS2 split-rim alloys with colour-coded centres, with 235/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Falken FK452 tyres, KW coilovers, OE brakes.
EXTERIOR: Resprayed in PPG Ferrari Grigio Medio paint, OEM Euro-spec front bumper, Hartge carbon fibre front splitter, modified AC Schnitzer rear diffuser.
INTERIOR: Standard with optional Cinnamon leather seats.
THANKS: Calamusa family at Pine Brook Auto Refinishing for all the paintwork, Stefan Djuric for the wheel build, my family and fiancee Holly, all the guys from Euro Techniks.
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- Post is under moderationCHOICE BLEND
With full M3 styling and a very healthy 450hp this seriously mean #E91 #335i Touring is the ultimate load runner. Performance estate cars are hugely desirable things, so if BMW won’t make an #M3 Touring, you’ve just gotta do it yourself. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Hjalmar van Hoek.
BMW Motorsport has been busy these past few years. Back in the day you’d get your M3 or your #M5 and that was it, but nowadays those multicoloured stripes before the evocative M badge can be found on practically anything in the range. Designated ‘full’ M cars, you’ve got your M3, M4 and M5 of course; no less than three different styles of #M6 ; and then there’s your truly niche #X5-M #E70 and #X6-M #E71 big boys. Perhaps more surprising than what does exist in the M stable is what doesn’t – a Touring.
There’s a decent market for big bummed performance cars – just look at Audi’s numerous and successful S and RS Avant weapons – but from M we’ve only ever had an E34 M5 Touring and the stonking E60 M5 Touring, and less than 2000 of both combined were ever built. We’re not about to argue with BMW M Division’s market research, but the affection many enthusiasts have for these M Tourings of old suggest there’s room for at least one in the range. An M5 Touring may not be justified with the M6 Gran Coupé a decent alternative, but how does an F80 M3 Touring grab you? Yep, we’d be keen on one too.
In fact, picture any of the previous gen M3s (except perhaps the E30 M3) and you can imagine that a Touring variant could have worked. Sweden’s Blend Maroof was so convinced the E91 Touring would have made it as an M car that he took it upon himself to create his own interpretation. A daunting task indeed, not least if he’d have transplanted an E9x’s 4.0-litre V8 into the front. Alas, this experienced hand at BMW modifying (he runs Sweden’s Pitstop tuning garage) was more keen on getting an authentic M3 Touring style and keeping a 335i engine in place: a motor he says has better character than the bent eight M.
The base car is a 2007 E91 335i, which most would agree is a glorious offering in its own right. Blend bought it completely stock with no M-Sport interior goodies, and knew to do things properly it would require genuine M3 parts. “I’d always wanted an E90 M3 Touring, so it was unfortunate BMW never made one,” Blend said. “I decided I wouldn’t put a real M3 V8 engine in though as it would be more expensive, heavier and I don’t like the character of it. The V8 needs 5000 revs until it wakes up but the N54 has a smooth line, so much torque on the way up and I just love it.”
You won’t hear us saying there’s much wrong with the #S65 V8 engine – just look at how many people lament its passing now the new M3 is forced induction – but it’s hard to fault Blend’s affection for the quite brilliant #N54 turbo six-cylinder. With over 300hp and 295lb ft on tap it’s certainly no slouch, propelling these #335is to 60mph in five seconds flat. With a bit of tuning by an expert like Blend, creating a true M beater isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. But back to the body. In Sweden you can buy genuine M3 parts through Schmiedmann, and Blend put in a significant order. Best of all, the front panels could be bolted straight on with the 335i items removed. We’ve seen #335i owners putting M3 bonnets on in the past – although it’s not perfectly flush as the M3 bonnet is longer. If you swap the arches, front bumper and the lights however there’s nothing to worry about. Except the man-hours and the huge expense of buying OEM M3 parts, of course.
Blend has fitted an E92 M3’s front bumper with the bonnet, and gone the #E90 M3 route for the arches. He had to use an E92’s headlights wired up by a custom harness, with #E92 headlight brackets to fit, but as you can see in the pictures it’s an impressively seamless piece of work. It also looks much tougher with the brutal Pitstop custom front mount intercooler behind the bumper and a race-style carbon fibre front splitter.
OEM E90 M3 side skirts and E92 M3 mirrors also went in place quite easily, but the rear bumper needed some serious work. To give the Touring an authentic M look, Blend bought an #E92-M3 ’s rear bumper and had to ABS plastic weld it to the top part of the original E91 item with its correct mounting brackets. The rear bumpers on these Tourings are significant chunks of plastic, so the work is highly impressive, and much like the front end, looks finished to a very high standard.
The car’s current owner is Andro Badia (Blend recently sold the M3 Touring conversion to help pay for his next venture – more on that later), who added a carbon fibre rear diffuser to the bumper to go with the front splitter he also optioned once he took ownership. But the final exterior mods – the E91 face-lift boot and rear lights – were completed at Blend’s Pitstop premises, while the paint added to the M3 items matched the 335i’s original BMW dark green.
“The beauty of this car was I could build what I wanted without having to go to BMW directly,” Blend said. “BMW has told me before things are impossible, such as adding heated and electric seats to this car, but to do so only took me a few hours. Sometimes you just have to believe that things can be done.” With the 335i Touring not meeting Blend’s standards for interior comfort, he got hold of genuine M Sport memory seats and used his expertise to have them functional: this was an M3 Touring project after all. On has gone an M3 DCT paddle shift steering wheel too, complete with Alcantara insert.
To truly give a sense of purpose to this M3 Touring conversion, the correct rims and stance were imperative. What better way than to go OEM M3 shopping again, and in the E92 M3 18” Style 260 wheels painted black, and hugging the arches thanks to an FK coilover suspension setup, this Touring would be deserving of a coveted M badge from the factory. If an M3 Touring sounds like a good idea on paper, being able to see this interpretation completed gives more reason to wish BMW had built its own: this Swede is a truly desirable estate car.
New owner Andro agrees, and even committed to buy the M3 Touring before Blend had completed the work. “The positive of buying this car was it looked like BMW itself had built it: everything looked OEM and even the M3 wheels were there,” Andro said. But can the performance match the M3 looks? Blend is convinced. As a tuning specialist he said the turbocharged N54 is easier to eke more power from than the NA V8 M3 motor, and is sure his work has boosted the 335i’s engine to 450hp. In other words, putting a genuine M3’s power figure of 420hp in the shade. While we can’t verify the performance claim, when it comes to the Swedes and engine tuning we usually don’t bother arguing. As a nation these boys know how to make magic happen in BMW engines, and big power figures are nothing new to the Scandinavians.
“This car is faster than an #E90 M3, and I know because I tested it,” Blend said. “On a closed course the car hit 301kmh (187mph)! I just love the performance of this engine.” The DP 3” cat-less downpipe leading into a full custom 3” exhaust system, carbon air box and custom front mount intercooler will all play their part in freeing a few more ponies, but the main gains have come from what Blend calls the Pitstop Stage 3 remap.
This full custom mapping of the engine’s ECU can reap significant gains on turbocharged engines, and Blend said he had altered the brain to get the very most from the 3.0-litre straight-six. Blend was sorry to say goodbye to his beautifully built E91 Touring M3 conversion, but as a tuning shop owner the next projects have to take priority. So successful was his M3 wagon effort he’s going bigger this time and has bought an #F11 #550i , which he said would become an M5 version with 550hp.
Following that he wants to modernise his M3 Touring conversion by doing similar to an #F31 335i, and who knows where this will end up, particularly with Blend’s love for the new turbocharged #F80 M3. Whatever materialises, this is one man who’s sure to keep pumping out the M3 wagons if the BMW factory won’t.
DATA FILE BMW E91 335i Touring
ENGINE: 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six N54B30, DP 3” cat-less downpipe, DP 3” custom exhaust system with Simon’s mufflers, quad 3.5” glossy black exhaust tips, Pitstop carbon fibre air intake with sport air filter, Pitstop custom front mount intercooler, Pitstop Stage 3 ECU remap.
CHASSIS: 8.5x18” (front) and 9.5x18” (rear) black E92x M3 Style 260 wheels with 15mm spacers with 245/35 (front) and 265/35 (rear) tyres, FK coilover suspension.
EXTERIOR: Genuine E92 M3 bonnet, front bumper and mirrors (with 3M gloss black wrap), genuine E90 M3 arches and side skirts, modified genuine E92 M3 rear bumper custom blended with standard E91 rear bumper, E92 headlights with custom harness and genuine brackets, Schmiedmann carbon fibre front splitter and rear diffuser, E91 face-lift (LCI) boot and rear lights, roof rails removed, BMW Tiefgreen (A43) paint.
INTERIOR: Genuine M Sport with custom installed electric memory seats, E92 M3 DCT paddle shift steering wheel with Alcantara insert, Schmiedmann floor mats.
THANKS: Blend at Pitstop for building the car, my friends and crew at Sthlm(s)low, Marcin and Piotr at MPM Garage and Viktor at Schmiedmann Sverige.
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- Post is under moderationGO BIG…
Liberty Walk BMWs may be a common sight elsewhere in the world but in the UK you’re only going to find one – this spectacular, unashamedly in-your-face #E92-M3 . The UK’s first, and only, Liberty Walk-kitted #E92 M3 is as subtle as a smack in the mouth but rather more pleasant.
Over in the US of A, Liberty Walk is most definitely the flavour of the week, month and even year, judging by how many LB-kitted cars, E92 M3s in particular, we have seen and featured.
Japanese it may be but Liberty Walk’s philosophy fits in with the American philosophy of bigger being better. Indeed, it’s a big country with lots of room for big cars and big roads to accommodate them. In the UK and Europe, not so much. With our ancient roads, that still seem better suited to horse and carts than motorcars, outlandishly wide and wild cars don’t seem to have a place over here which is precisely why a Liberty Walk car in the UK is most definitely a big deal.
This car needs no introduction – it’s been around for a while now but only appeared in this, its final incarnation, at the very end of 2014. For those that don’t know, this car belong to Carl Shakespeare, known to everyone, everywhere, ever as Shakey, owner of Studio Incar –which specialises in audio, airride and plenty more besides. For Shakey, this car started out as a company demo but I think it’s fair to say that over the past year or so of ownership it’s become a bit more than that.
“I’ve always been into cars,” says Shakey. “Ever since I was a kid. More than that, though, I was always into stereo equipment; when I found out that you could get high-end audio equipment for cars, that’s when it all kicked off for me. When you’re in your car, you can play the stereo as loud as you like without upsetting anyone and that was a revelation.”
Car-wise, Shakey has always had VWs, right up until #2010 , and since then he’s just had M3s. So why did he make the switch? “The M3 is just a better car,” he says. “VW doesn’t, or at least didn’t, make cars like the M division cars. A VW is for the family, an M3 is for you – it’s driver-focused, it’s a weapon and it suits me and the way I like to drive. I actually had a Mitsubishi Evo before I bought my first M3. I borrowed an M3 from a friend for a week and I loved it. It was awesome and I knew I had to have one.
“I knew this M3 and I wanted to buy it because it was a great base for building a serious demo car. I’ve modified every car I’ve had, and each one has been very personal in terms of what I’ve done to it. I’ve always gone for a fast road, OE-ish looking build but this one is very different. It’s very shouty and I knew it was going to be different from the start because I wanted to build it as a demo car and it’s been more of a business venture really but I’ve still done it in a way that I like and that appeals to me and I’ve definitely put my personality into it.
When I bought the car it already had the Liberty Walk kit and the wheels, 19” three-piece Rotiform TMBs, though back then it was yellow. I knew it was going to change, although I didn’t really have a definite plan for it. All I knew was that I wanted to take it to Ultimate Dubs at the start of #2014 .
“The first thing we did was to change the colour. Picking the new colour was difficult but the car is lively as anything with that kit on it, so it didn’t need a wild colour. In the end I decided on white, partly because I think M3s look brilliant in white. You don’t see many in white and it’s simple so you can highlight other things on the car.
“In the first week we had the car it was stripped-out, the kit was removed, a few things were corrected and we wrapped it white while the front bumper was done in black to match the Mini Cooper S demo car we were also building at the time. We also started working on the stereo. The car had to be superb. It had to look and sound great. I wasn’t interested in building an SPL car; it wasn’t about output, shaking the ground or being silly and outlandish. We built a system around Rainbow components, fully digital, integrated into the BMW system with wi-fi, hi-def streaming, all controlled via an iPad. It took three weeks to fabricate. Nine metres of Alcantara was needed to trim everything. The wheels were sent to The Wheel Specialist in Fareham. They were satin black when I bought the car and we had them refinished in a gloss NATO grey. I love that colour and got the mirror caps and livery done in the same shade. I approached Syco Graphix for all the decals and had them within a week, which was an awesome turnaround. The run up to Ultimate Dubs (UD) was incredibly busy as we were also building Nick Sahota’s #E30 M3 and our Mini demo car at the same time, and there were plenty of 4am finishes, but it was all worth it. The car got an amazing reception at UD with people commenting on how good it sounded, and I really enjoyed driving it as well.
“After UD, we started doing some more work. We’re a Forge Motorsport agent so I decided to get a front and rear Forge BBK on the car. It’s not a setup you see often on M3s so I thought it would be a good modification to add. The brakes are absolutely phenomenal, really out of this world in terms of how powerful they are and a huge upgrade over the standard setup. I also sent the wheels off again and had them finished in red this time around, along with the mirror caps, and then I took it over to Austria for Wörthersee.
“That was definitely an eventful trip. Going over, I got through a set of rear tyres. I’d had the alignment done before leaving but I must have hit something coming off the ferry and that shifted the rear camber arm eccentric bolt and within 500 miles the rear was down to the canvas, so I swapped the rears left to right and that was the other tyre ruined. Luckily we found a place called Bensche Automotive and it really saved the day, supplying me with a set of GT3 RS rear tyres they had. On the first night in Austria we parked up at the hotel and the owner came out and asked us to turn the stereo on. We ended up playing music all night with people dancing in the car park. Unfortunately because the car was so low the Austrian police were all over it and after I racked up ⇔1000 in fines over two days. I parked it up at the hotel and it didn’t move until the end of the trip. The drive home was amazing. In fact, it was the best motoring experience I’ve ever had. It was me and my mate Mark doing 140-150mph on the autobahn. The sun was setting, we had Razorlight on the stereo, it was perfect. I’ll never forget that drive. “After that I took the car to Players Classic and after that I didn’t take it to any shows for a while, just used it as a daily. For Players I decided to get it rewrapped. I went to Monster Wraps and we decided to go for 3M Satin grey with a fully custom digital print incorporating the Liberty Walk and Studio Incar liveries. The guys did an incredible job. The car looked really good but it wasn’t done.
“After the show I had the wheels redone in black along with the mirror caps and with the new wrap it looked awesome. For Ultimate Stance, the last show of the year, I wanted to go out in style so I bought a set of #2013 LCI rear lights along with a Competition steering wheel and Syco Graphix redid the stickers in a really short space of time. I put together a big stand at the show and had our friends and good clients on there with Josh’s #335i , Sam’s #E24 , Nick with his two E30s and Max with his #M4 . It was a really good show and a great end to both the year and my time with the car.”
2014 was certainly a hectic year for Shakey and the M3 but such is the life of a demo car. Considering how spectacular it was to start with, it’s impressive to see just how it evolved throughout the year and how awesome it looked when 2014 came to a close. Demo car it may have been, but we know for a fact that Shakey enjoyed every minute with it.
Sadly, the #M3 has now gone, the plan from day one being to have the car for one season and then move on, but in 12 short months Shakey did more with his M3 than most. Work has already started on a new Studio Incar demo car. It’s not a BMW but don’t worry, Shakey’s not left the blue and white roundel behind and is currently running a stripped-out #E36 #328i as a daily and has just bought himself an #E39 #M5 to keep it company. Good man.
DATA FILE BMW E92 M3
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 4.0-litre V8 #S65B40 , Vabric wireless atmospheric exhaust valve, six-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS: 10x19” (front) and 12.5x19” (rear) custom finished Rotiform TMB three-piece forged wheels with negative offset. StillStatic H&R Ultra Low race kit, Forge Motorsport #BBK with six-piston calipers (front), four piston calipers (rear) and 380mm discs.
EXTERIOR: Full Liberty Walk wide-body kit, custom bootlid with narrow recess, LCI rear lights, Monster Wraps 3M digital printed bespoke wrap, colour-coded mirrors to wheels, Studio Incar and Liberty Walk livery from Syco Graphics.
INTERIOR: Competition steering wheel, Studio Incar custom door builds, Studio incar full custom build, Studio incar custom centre console panel, Rainbow car audio system (fully digital).
THANKS: My good friend Nick Singh Sahota for helping make the whole project a reality, Steve, Paul, Lottie and myself at Studio Incar for their constantly outstanding work on the car, Clean Getaway car wash in Southampton for keeping it up to scratch, The Wheel Specialist in Fareham for its continued excellent standards and constant colour changing of the wheels and mirrors and putting up with me, Syco Graphics being the best (as usual), Paul from C6 Carbon for repairing the splitter when Nick smashed it to pieces, you guys, #BMW for continued support of us and in the community, Monster Wraps for sorting out the car doing an outstanding job, Forge Motorsport and the incredible brakes, Four Masters and Rainbow for the support with the system, Si Gray for the shoot, Mark Harbour and Richard Wint for helping me track it on the side of the autobahn… cheers Nick.
Exterior is wild and so is the audio install. This M3 boasts a fully digital system built around Rainbow components, integrated into the BMW system with wi-fi, hi-def streaming and it’s all controlled via an iPad.
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- Post is under moderationLight the Blue Touch Paper.
We experience the UK’s first tuned #M4 both on the road and on the track. Litchfield #BMW F82 M4 Blue touch paper… and stand well back. Litchfield Motor’s fully tuned #F82 #M4 Coupé might look like a standard example but it packs plenty of fireworks. Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Chris Wallbank.
I’m not 100 per cent certain which gear we’re in but it’s safe to say that the M4 is flat out down the International straight at Silverstone as we flash by the new Wing complex. I can feel the rear tyres are really struggling for grip as they manfully attempt to remain in contact with the streaming wet surface while also trying to transmit 500 plus horsepower. As we head into the right-left that makes up Abbey and Farm corners I’m expecting a serious dose of understeer at these sort of speeds but my driver expertly dabs the brakes, settles the M4, and charges for the new Arena complex as if there was world championship at stake.
That’s hardly surprising as my pilot today is none other than Rob Huff, #2012 World Touring Car Champion (WTCC) for Chevrolet and currently leading the Lada Sport Team’s charge in the championship, recording the company’s first-ever win in the WTCC in China as well as winning the prestigious seasoncloser in Macau. Safe to say he can drive a bit. As you’d expect he can hit apices with precision time after time but as we barrel into the Arena complex it becomes clear that he’s not adverse to having a little fun either as he settles the M4 into a glorious beautifully controlled drift as we turn hard right before he deftly sets the M4 swinging the other way as we travel round the long sweeping left hander on the lock stops with the rear tyres gently kissing the red and white kerbs. All is calm behind the wheel with Huff hardly having to correct the steering at all, just a gentle throttle modulation keeping the car on its balletic path around the corner. I’m laughing out loud and Huff has a large grin plastered across his face.
Over the years the M3 has been the darling of the BMW tuners with every generation of the breed seemingly coming in for a serious dose of development ranging from 2.5-litre engine conversions for the original E30 M3 to a raft of superchargers for the E9x generation. That the new M3 (and M4) will come in for the same sort of treatment is a given but what is perhaps most surprising is that the first fully tuned machine that is up and running and ready for us to test has been completed by a UK company, Litchfield Motors, and while it looks refreshingly standard there have been plenty of changes under the skin.
But why is Rob Huff, #WTCC superstar, at a rainsoaked Silverstone giving me the passenger ride of my life? Before we can answer that question we first have to take a look at Litchfield Motors as it may well be a name that those of us immersed in BMW circles haven’t heard of before. Iain Litchfield set up his company 15 years ago and has become a very big player in the Japanese tuning market with its #Nissan #GTR conversions becoming almost legendary. And this is what first brought Rob Huff to Litchfield’s door, as he wanted a little extra from his GTR. Over the years Iain and Rob have become friends, both sharing a passion for driving and modifying their cars.
It was a natural extension of this relationship that Rob would become involved with assisting Litchfield to fine-tune its conversions and he’s now a hands-on member of Litchfield’s technical team and is able to provide vital driver feedback to Litchfield’s engineers as they hone the latest upgrade packages. Explaining Rob’s role, Iain commented: “Rob has a unique insight that only a versatile World Champion can bring… We know many fast drivers, but Rob brings something different; he understands the importance of a driver’s involvement with their car much more than any racer we’ve ever worked with. When we test, Rob’s not so much about chasing tenths in each lap, but rather how he can improve the sensation between car and driver, and most importantly of all, how he can make the car easier to drive and more predictable on the limit, and ultimately, just more fun to drive.” Rob’s input will also help Litchfield to speed up the R&D process without compromising quality.
His race setup experience means it can arrive at a desired setup so much quicker than it otherwise would, particularly when developing chassis enhancements. Iain continues: “He has a sixth-sense behind the wheel that he is able to quickly translate to our engineers with incredible clarity. This should take significant time out of our test schedule, whilst simultaneously giving us a better overall result.”
Thus Rob’s actually at Silverstone today to further hone the setup of this M4 which has already undergone some pretty serious revisions. Obviously the weather’s not ideal but he’s still able to discern the changes that have been wrought on the car. Perhaps we’d better look at what’s been changed first and then get on to the reasons why. First up is an Akrapovic full Evolution Exhaust system with carbon rear tail trims, which was the very first system fitted to a car in this country. As an Akrapovic dealer Litchfield was very keen to get the exhaust on the car early as in its experience it knows what wonderful pieces of kit they are. It had a system on its #E92 #M3 and the decent weight-saving plus dyno confirmed power gains makes fitting an #Akrapovic system a no-brainer, especially if you’re chasing more power.
Once the system was installed Litchfield saw power rise to 477hp and not only did it produce more oomph from the M4, it gave the sort of look and sound that Litchfield was looking for too. Even standing still it looks the part with its carbon-clad quad exhaust tips while Litchfield’s demo also has an optional carbon diffuser, too. Once the exhaust was on Litchfield set about adding a remap to the car and after it had been breathed on it had a dyno figure of 525hp and after having done a few more cars it’s regularly seeing 530-535hp from the new turbocharged M3 and M4 with a torque figure of 485lb ft to go with it.
While more power is obviously a good thing what Litchfield really wanted to concentrate on was its suspension upgrade and that’s what Rob Huff has been particularly adept at assisting with. Iain Litchfield takes up the story again: “We found that the standard car works well up to a point. Shortly after purchase we took the M4 to the Nürburgring and it had decent ride quality in Comfort mode and on the first few laps of getting used to the circuit the car performed very well. However, once I was confident I found the suspension struggled over 8/10ths commitment as it would lose composure.
“Back on UK roads it was similar but it felt more unpredictable, so it takes away some of the confidence to push on. At Silverstone the first time Rob and I drove the car this same inconsistency was more apparent. Here it was highlighted by how critical the tyre pressures were to get the balance right. It was decided that the dampers lacked control and in particular rebound damping control wasn’t good enough when pushed. This was compounded by the M4’s rear e-differential that is very quick to react and can unsettle the suspension which doesn’t react quickly enough which can make the car feel nervous and take away driver confidence.
“We worked with our suspension specialist to produce an active kit that would work with BMW’s suspension control systems. This system significantly improves the damper quality in all modes but our custom springs also ensure much better body control at speed. There is a bigger variant between the suspension modes now with Comfort mode offering an improved ride while Sport and Sport+ have much better control over body roll and pitch.
“During the course of the development and using the advanced data logging we also discovered that the internal valves in the standard suspension could not react quickly enough to the commands being given by BMW’s dynamic suspension ECU. These valves have a reaction time of 30 milliseconds and like most OEM systems, require the change to take place when the damper is momentarily static at the end of its travel whereas our new valve reacts in just 6 milliseconds and can change at any time during a bump or rebound stroke. This slow response was no doubt adding to the unpredictable nature of the chassis when it is worked hard on the road and track.” So, a hugely comprehensive reworking of the suspension has taken place, but the cleverest part is that Litchfield’s new hardware actually works with the BMW system so is seamlessly integrated with the car.
Rob pronounced himself pretty happy with the changes when he was testing at Silverstone with just one further small change required to the rear dampers to eradicate a slightly unsettled feeling from the rear end as you come back on the power when exiting a corner. To be honest I doubt I could have detected it, but Rob’s able to demonstrate what he means when we’re out on circuit. We must have completed around ten laps and while some of these were of the showboating perfect drift type, Rob demonstrated why he’ll be such an asset to Litchfield when he puts together a series of laps that were the fastest possible in the conditions.
The racing line at Silverstone gets very slippery when wet so Rob tiptoes the M4 around the track utilising some unusual lines but executing that delicate balance between slip and grip and by heck it’s fast and well-balanced. There’s some pretty tasty machinery out there but we seem to reel them all in in the space of a few laps. Rob’s pace and skill behind the wheel is on another level but even from the passenger seat it’s possible to see how well balanced and controllable the car is – a far cry from the less-than-perfect composure on the limit that Iain described earlier. Litchfield’s machine is running the optional carbon ceramic brakes, too and they’re sensational on track with no sign if fade, washing off speed with your body pressed firmly against the seatbelt. Rob reckons they’re the best road car ceramics he’s sampled on track which is high praise from someone with so much Porsche experience.
While the car’s performance on track is impressive, how it performs on the road is equally, if not more, important. With the circuit lunch break underway I head off into the wilds of Northamptonshire to see how it fares. Firing the M4 up in the pit garages demonstrates how good it sounds with the Akrapovic exhaust which had been muffled when on track due to wearing a crash helmet. It takes a few minutes to become familiarised with the M4 as we trundle away from the circuit but soon enough I come across the winding and undulating roads I’ve sampled in the past and it’s time to ramp up the pace.
The wet roads aren’t ideal and it soon becomes clear that using all of the car’s new-found 525hp is going to be tricky as with the traction control switched on it’s constantly intervening and with it switched off I’m getting too much wheel spin. The halfway mode seems to work quite well though and the Pilot Super Sports that Huff has already tried to destroy make a pretty decent fist of transferring the power to the road. Quite how much faster it would be than the standard machine is hard to say, but we’d like to try both back-to-back on some dry roads to find out. By the seat-of-the-pants it does feel like it pulls harder than the standard car and possibly has better throttle response, but with the tuneful Akrapovic exhaust ringing in your ears it’s not hard to feel like this car is very, very rapid indeed.
Litchfield’s suspension work does seem to have done the trick, too, as despite the pace and greasy conditions the car doesn’t become wayward. I’m quite happy to admit that I’m nowhere near Huff’s level of skill but let’s face it, how many of us are? And isn’t it more important that the car can still be driven rapidly and confidently by someone of average ability? Turn-in seems to be excellent and the M4 resists understeer even in these conditions and its mid-corner transition from pointy and grippy front end to a degree of slip from the rear wheels as you reapply the power is well-controlled and progressive. As a back road blaster the Litchfield M4 can’t have many peers at this sort of price point.
Conscious of the time and the fact that Rob and Iain are keen to get back out on to what is hopefully a drying circuit I retrace my steps with a broad grin on my face before giving the M4 a quick squirt up the A34 dual carriageway. I’m not attempting a land speed record here – it’s more about refinement and ride quality – as there’s no point in taking a great allrounder and then sharpening its responses for the track only to discover that it’s lost its cruising abilities. I shouldn’t have worried though as the ride is as comfortable as you’d experience in the standard car and the exhaust that’s strident when you’re on a charge is nicely muted when on a constant throttle cruise. Add a dose of throttle and it does get louder, but it’s in no way intrusive or in any way boomy.
I must admit that as I return to the circuit and reflect on what Litchfield has managed to achieve with its #2015 M4 I’m mightily impressed. Obviously the Akrapovic isn’t its work but it does go part of the way in releasing additional power that’s then improved upon by Litchfield’s map. There’s no doubt the suspension work is very clever, too, honing the chassis still further and removing the car’s on-limit lack of composure that now seems to be coming out now that several road testers have spent longer with the car. In a nutshell it’s a great effort from Litchfield and I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more about the company’s BMW conversions in the months and years to come.
2015 #Litchfield #BMW F82 M4
ENGINE: S55 straight-six, twin-turbo
MAX POWER: 525hp
MAX TORQUE: 485lb ft
LOWERING KIT: £462
AKRAPOVIC FULL EVOLUTION
EXHAUST SYSTEM WITH CARBON
REAR TAIL TRIMS: £4335.60
CARBON REAR DIFFUSER: £747.60
LITCHFIELD ACTIVE SUSPENSION KIT: £4098 (TBC) * All prices include parts, labour and VAT
As a back road blaster, the Litchfield M4 can’t have many peers at this sort of price point.
Even from the passenger seat it’s possible to see how well-balanced and controllable the car is.
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- Post is under moderationManual Muscle #2015
A supercharged #E92 #M3 featuring a huge spec list and the novelty of a manual gearbox!
This slick-looking M3 is about as close to a modern day muscle car as you can get outside of America and it’s got a good old-fashioned manual gearbox, too… Words: Simon Holmes Photography: Steve Hall.
Lately, it seems that everything in the #BMW world is becoming safer, more user-friendly and easier. But is that a necessarily good thing? Although outright performance has undoubtedly improved as complex driver aids relieve you of more control, there’s no denying that a raw edge has been left out of the equation.
Experiencing a car like this M3 tends to initiate this kind of thought process. With a 650hp supercharger conversion, glorious exhaust note and a seldom seen manual gearbox it feels a lot like a modern day muscle car, albeit, a finely honed one that offers far more than simple straight-line punch. The car’s accompanying specification reads like the ultimate Christmas wish-list for any M3 owner: Ohlins suspension, forged alloy wheels, Brembo brakes allround and a functional carbon fibre aero package. The owner of the car is Byron Vyronos and, remarkably, just a few short months ago this heavily modified M3 was completely standard. Furthermore, everything that has been done came in one hit, giving Byron quite a surprise, as he’d owned the car since new! He bought it back in late 2007, making it one of the very first E92 M3s in the country, which also explains why it has a manual gearbox. The new M car replaced his trusty E36 M3 Convertible, as he skipped out on the E46 version, having never liked it. Before his love for BMW developed, Byron used to own a series of fast Fords, starting with Escort Mexicos and the like, before moving onto Sierras and then Escort Cosworths, some of which were modified, so safe to say he likes a fast car. In more recent times, Byron has settled for enjoying the M3 on a casual basis, which explains why it’s covered just 28,000 miles in the seven years he’s owned it and why it’s remained just as BMW intended for so long.
But one day, something changed. After trawling through the internet he came across the website for VF Engineering, an American company that specialises in developing supercharger conversions for high end cars. Attracted by their professional look, well-developed packages and huge power increases, Byron decided to bite the bullet and develop his M3 into a monster, with the intention of then taking it out on track days. Sensibly, his first port of call was to invest in the help of a company that could meet his requirements and not only supply and fit a series of high end parts but also tailor-tune the package to form a highly effective and usable car. That’s where Essex-based Torque Developments International (TDI), and director Mark Catchpole entered the process. The company has been carrying out complex modifications and conversions for 30 years now and back in the 1980s it was even doing its fair share of supercharger conversions on E30s and E34s. More recently the company has been preparing, fine-tuning and setting up circuit cars, which gave them a valuable advantage when it came to Byron’s requests. These requests were simple at first, and it began with the supercharger kit. Byron had already decided that the ‘basic’ 540hp kit VF Engineering offered wouldn’t suffice so he opted for the range-topping 650hp option. The comprehensive kit comprises a Vortech V3-Si trim supercharger that is mounted to the front right-hand side of the engine using CNCmachined billet brackets. The unit produces 8psi of boost that is fed straight into the replacement cast aluminium inlet plenum that incorporates a chargecooler element to cool the boost before it enters the original throttle bodies. There’s then a separate radiator to keep the chargecooler fluid cool tucked away behind the bumper. A full Akrapovic exhaust system, complete with primary and secondary decat pipes, coupled with a reflash of the original M3 ECU means it produces a dyno-proven figure of nigh on exactly 650hp and 420lb ft of torque to match. That’s a rather substantial gain of over 50 per cent more power compared to a standard car in case you’re counting!
Suffice to say, other upgrades to cater for the huge power increase soon followed although the original six-speed manual transmission and the standard clutch are still present and showing no signs of struggling just yet. To address the other areas of the car Mark talked Byron through his options and together a suitable specification to harness and make the most of the newfound power was drawn up before the car even turned a wheel. It began with Mark’s recommendation to replace the original brakes with Brembo six-pot callipers complete with larger 365mm discs at the front and matching Brembo fourpot callipers at the rear with 345mm discs. The ultralight forged Rays Volk Racing alloy wheels were also fitted to cover them.
Then came the suspension and this was an area that Mark took a great level of care in. Selecting the hardware was the easier part and, once again, Mark recommended the best parts available to suit. As a result, Ohlins DFV Track and Road coilovers were chosen. Together with Eibach uprated anti-roll bars the foundations were in place but, crucially, the car’s individual setup was the most important thing, as Mark explains: “Setting up the car and ensuring that the package worked together was more of a challenge. Just fitting the parts as they were would have been like half-baking a cake. On a car like this, we had to make sure it put down the power as best it possibly could.”
So, not ones to do things by halves, the guys at TDI spent many hours carefully corner weighting the car and adjusting the rake, toe, castor and camber to ensure the chassis worked with the engine. “It’s now as good as it ever could be,” says Mark.
To further increase stability and improve the looks Byron also selected the carbon fibre front splitter, rear boot spoiler and diffuser that extends back to the differential to form a part-flat floor. These were sourced from Varis, in Japan, and they’re not just there for show either. The parts are designed to increase airflow and create downforce at speed and in a car like this they’re important additions. You might notice that one area of the car left well alone is the interior, which has been left entirely standard. Despite the track intentions and huge amount of capability, Byron requested that the inside remained practical and comfortable, so it’s been left as BMW intended, at least for now. With all the mod cons still in place I’m told the car still drives very well, although it demands respect on the road. Keen to experience this for myself Byron kindly offers to let me drive the car and, understandably, I jump at the chance, despite the slightly damp roads from an overnight shower.
Surprisingly, first impressions are far from what you might think from a 650bhp rear-wheel drive, modern day muscle car in the damp. Having adjusted the seat, put on my seat belt and pulled away I’ve travelled a good mile down the road trying to navigate my way through traffic before reminding myself I’m not in a standard car. It turns out it’s actually very subdued if you want it to be and keeping the revs below 3000rpm reveals that, aside from the beautifully toned, if a little aggressive, exhaust note, it’s happy to amble along at low speed. The supercharger hardly makes a sound, only a feint whistle that could easily be disregarded by the untrained ear and the throttle response, clutch feel and gear change are all normal.
It’s reassuring to know that the car still possesses the practical usability of a standard M3 but, much like a standard M3, open the taps up a bit and as the S65 begins to come on song this one begins to bellow from the rooftops in both sound and ferociousness. There’s an inkling something unnatural is beginning to occur as it approaches the 4000rpm mark and as the revs increase the engine and exhaust note begin to change in tone, speed and aggression. From there, the car still gathers pace smoothly but it’s becoming wilder. As it reaches the 6000rpm mark its ability to gain forward momentum has become positively ballistic. Again, much like a standard M3, at these revs your brain tells you to change gear until you glance at the tachometer and realise you have another 2000rpm or so to go.
It’s in these last thousands that the car feels truly rapid. By this point the needle on the speedo seems to be moving quicker than the needle on the rev gauge next to it, despite the fact it’s approaching three-figure speeds and yet it feels like it hasn’t even got started. In fact, it feels like it’s just beginning to stretch its legs a little and in reality, that’s pretty much exactly what it’s doing. Now the limiter has been removed top speed is claimed to be over 200mph and although that’s not something that appeals to me the car does feel particularly composed at higher speeds. You can feel the car and engine working hard to deliver all that power although, realistically, it’s likely the aerodynamic aids aren’t having a real effect until seriously high speeds are surpassed, which is not something I plan to do. Although traction is a challenge in the lower gears that’s to be expected and it does feel reassuringly planted rather than skittish as it scrabbles for grip.
Aside from the amusing amount of grunt and ability to illuminate the traction control light, the real novelty is the manual gearbox. I can’t remember the last time I drove a modified M3 without the M DCT seven-speed gearbox as virtually every E9x M3 seems to have it. The argument as to whether the manual transmission offers something the DCT cannot is an argument that seems to have dissolved lately, but there’s no doubt that in this guise, the car is certainly more involving. The gearbox gives an altogether simpler feel to the car and I’d forgotten how rewarding it is to match the soundtrack of the S65’s engine revs manually on down changes, or tickle the throttle along at lower revs. It’s easy to forget what a nice gearbox it is, too, offering direct, positive changes with little force. With that extra control throttle response seems superior to even the DCT cars. For out-and-out ability it’s easy to understand why DCT cars are more popular than manuals but it’s also easy to forget that the manual ’box still holds its own in other ways.
It would no doubt be best to try this car round a circuit than the roads of Essex but it’s fun nonetheless. The car is notably firmer than a standard M3 and it doesn’t ride the bumps quite so well, but it’s still a good compromise for what is, essentially, a track and very fast road car. Although there’s arguably more power than you could ever use in either environment there’s already talk from Byron of pushing towards the 700hp barrier in the next year or so. Mark tells us TDI soon plan to start writing its own custom ECU reflash files which would offer good potential gains for a car like Byron’s that is on a generic reflash so it’s certainly possible that there could be more to gain.
But for now, it’s safe to say there’s more than enough power to keep Byron happy as he gets used to the car. It certainly possesses that raw edge that, perhaps, BMW could take a leaf from…
ENGINE & GEARBOX: VF Engineering VF650 supercharger kit, full Akrapovic titanium exhaust with carbon tailpipes, ECU reflash, speed limiter removed, #TDI oil cooler, standard six-speed manual gearbox and clutch
CHASSIS: Ohlins DFV Race and Track coilover kit, Eibach anti-roll bars, custom geometry by TDI
BRAKES: Brembo six-pot callipers with 365mm discs at the front, Brembo four-pot callipers with 345mm discs at the rear
WHEELS & TYRES 19 inch Rays Volk Racing forged alloy wheels with 245/40/19 at the front and 285/35/19 tyres at the rear
EXTERIOR: Varis GT carbon fibre rear wing, front splitter and rear diffuser
THANKS: Mark Catchpole at Torque Developments International – tdi-plc. com
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You can’t go wrong with a supercharged E92 M3 and this 600hp. Frozen grey UK example is no exception. Relatively subtle on the outside, this ferocious Frozen grey E92 M3 packs a supercharged punch. Words: Seb de Latour. Photos: Matt Richardson.
I’m a bit of a forced induction junkie. I’ve worked my way through a couple of turbocharged Japanese wagons, am obsessed with positive displacement blowers, can often be found on YouTube watching forced induction compilations and I’ve also been fortunate enough to drive a number of big power, turbo and supercharged BMWs over the years. Unfortunately, I haven’t got the money to go splashing out on supercharging for myself but there are plenty of folks out there who can, and do, like Mandeep Heer.
Mandeep’s car first caught my eye at the DC13 show, thanks to a combination of Frozen grey paint, black wheels and 1M-look bumper plus some natty blue highlights making it stand out from the crowd. When I got chatting to Mandeep and the word “supercharged” was uttered, the car’s destiny to feature in these pages was pretty much sealed. “I bought the car brand-new in #2011 ,” Mandeep begins, “in Frozen grey (which is the best colour in my opinion) and with the Competition package. I’ve had about 28 cars now and I love them – I’ve had a Renault 5 GT Turbo and a G60 Corrado, 3.0 and 3.2 #E36 M3s, a Phoenix yellow ACS E46, an E46 Cab, a Cayman S and I bought a #997 #911 C4S because when the #E92 M3 came out I wasn’t a fan. But it grew on me and I ended up buying one. I went along to Bimmerflex ’11 with it stock and thought I would have a good car. I didn’t and started buying parts the next day. I had planned to keep the car stock but I then ended up having a lot of work done in just six months.
“I started off with getting some carbon parts from MStyle and lowering the car. Then I decided to splash out on an Akrapovic exhaust followed by the six-pot AP Racing brakes, with four-pots at the back, the MStyle 1M front bumper and an Evolve Stage 2 remap for more power. This is a must-have with the X-pipe, it totally transforms the car and I’d recommend it to anybody with an E92 M3. I changed the wheels for a set of 20” 360 Forged alloys but the drive was horrific and I realised that I actually didn’t like them – they looked American and made the car look too done up, so I had my Competition wheels painted black and went back on those. The extra inch made a big difference to how the car feels out on the road and it drives much better now. I then got a Technocraft carbon intake and some BMW Performance seats along with carbon mirrors and a carbon spoiler. I wanted the car to have an Estoril theme so I had some parts finished in Estoril blue – I had a blue plenum before and I’ve got blue vents and blue callipers too.”
While it doesn’t take much to make an M3 look good, it takes a lot to make one stand out, and Mandeep has achieved that without going overboard. The Frozen grey paint is a good start and a great choice – the matt metallic finish looks fantastic and is arguably one of the best colours for the E92, really bringing out all the subtle curves in its design and it makes the car look so different when compared to a traditional paint finish.
The black wheels look the part and the CSL-style design of the Competition alloys suits the E92 perfectly, but here it’s that 1Mlook front bumper that really makes the difference; the angles, edges and intakes giving the front end an even more aggressive look that pumps the whole car up and I love the air filter visible through the nearside opening. Mandeep’s paid attention to the details and while the idea of Estoril highlights might not appeal, in the metal they look great and that flash of colour is a welcome addition among the black and grey colours that dominate the car. There’s plenty of carbon too, such as the door mirrors, grille surrounds and bonnet vents. At the rear the carbon continues, with a spoiler and meaty valance from which the quad exhausts protrude, but take a closer look and you’ll see not the name of Akrapovic stamped on the tips but Evolve, so what gives? “The Akrapovic exhaust sounded exotic but it wasn’t loud enough for me, so I changed it for Evolve’s E-Tronic exhaust.”
This full system, which includes the Evolve X-pipe, features a pair of wirelessly controlled valves, operated by a keyfob, which enable you to change the noise level from mild to wild at the push of a button. The transformation really is incredible (there’s a video on our Instagram) and with the valves closed it sounds good, but not massively louder than stock, just the right volume level for day-to-day driving and early morning starts. But with the valves open, everything changes and not only does the volume get cranked up to 11, the exhaust note becomes ferocious, this incredible, hard-edged V8 roar that sounds sensational. It’s intoxicating stuff and the beauty of it is that you can enjoy it when you’re in the mood but don’t have to endure it when you’re not. The interior is dominated by those seriously sexy seats, which feel as good to sit in as they look, accompanied by a steering wheel trimmed in matching Alcantara. There’s also a trio of gauges set ahead of the gear selector for fuel pressure, boost and oil pressure.
At this point Mandeep was really enjoying his car and took it on a number of foreign jaunts including the Four Nations Tour in July #2012 and the Alpine Run, both organised by Track & Tour Events. However, he was also tempted by the idea of more power and so decided to speak to Evolve about its supercharger kit. The kit has received plenty of column inches in #Drive-MY but any excuse to talk about it in detail is a good one.
Mandeep went for the E600 600hp kit, with the only difference between the three differing states of tune being boost pressure, the fundamental elements of the kit remaining the same. At the heart of the package is the Rotrex C38-91 supercharger, with a flow rate of 1100CFM, running 6-6.7psi, which features a self-contained lubrication system with a separate oil cooler. The supercharger comes with dual CNC-machined billet aluminium diverter valves along with a high flow Evolve filtration system, eight uprated Bosch fuel injectors and a large front mounted intercooler. It’s a comprehensive and seriously well put together package and we’ve seen what it’s capable of when we pitted Evolve’s own demonstrator against an F13 M6 back in the July ’13 issue.
But, surprisingly, when I ask Mandeep about the kit his reaction isn’t what I’m expecting: “I’ve peaked with the supercharger,” he says, “and to be honest it’s too fast for me as a daily driver in London. The kit is incredible and the performance is absolutely amazing, it’s so fast when you floor it, but it’s just a bit too fast for where I tend to use it. I actually preferred the car when it had the Stage 2 remap, it was amazing, I could really enjoy the performance and hang on to the gears. I just caught the modding bug and I wanted to have the supercharger for my next trip but at least I’ve done it.”
So, now that he’s been there, done the supercharged #E92 #M3 thing and got the T-shirt, what’s next for Mandeep and his car? “I’m going to keep it for now,” he says, “and am thinking of taking it back to standard for the time being and then next year I’ll make a decision about what to do. My next car will be down to funds – I feel like maybe an R8 or a most likely a 911 Turbo, but I might still want an M car, I’ll have to see how I feel.” Mandeep may end up taking a break from M cars but, as he said himself, at least he’s had a supercharged M3, the sort of car most of us dream of owning. Even if his next car isn’t a BMW, I get the feeling he’s not done with Bavaria’s finest just yet.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION:
4.0-litre V8 S65B40, Evolve E600 supercharger kit, Evolve E-tronic exhaust system including X-pipe, Evolve air filter, M DCT gearbox with Evolve remap, DCT GTS Software Upgrade.
9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) BMW Style 359 Competition Pack wheels sprayed black with 245/35 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, BMW Competition Pack suspension, Intrax springs, AP Racing BBK kit with 378mm discs and sixpot calipers (front) and 352mm discs and four-pot calipers (rear) painted Estoril blue, shaved mounts and modified bump stops, Bimmec wheel spacers 15mm (front) and 12mm (rear).
1M-style front bumper, BMW Performance carbon rear spoiler, #BMW-Performance carbon door mirrors, carbon rear diffuser, carbon bonnet vents and kidney grills, colour-coded side vents (Estoril blue), Lux LED angel eye bulbs.
BMW Performance Seats, BMW steering wheel in Alcantara to match seats, fuel pressure, boost and oil pressure gauges.
There’s no mistaking who’s been at the engine and what’s strapped to that V8; Evolve kit makes 600hp
Frozen grey is arguably the best colour for the E9x M3 and the flashes of Estoril blue are a neat touch
There are plenty of carbon highlights scattered about the car and the black wheels suit it perfectly
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