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    THE LONG GAME #2015 / #BMW

    This 400hp+ supercharged E46 330Ci has been nine years in the making and it was definitely worth the wait.


    Some folks rush through a project, hurtling towards a deadline to get everything finished. David Byrne decided to take a more casual approach to his 330Ci Sport, playing the thing like a game of chess. Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photos: Andy Starkey


    The process of building a project car is a convoluted and unique thing; it’s a thoroughly personal endeavour given the sheer galaxy of variables. For every element of your build, be it a set of tyres, a handbrake gaiter, a shade of paint, or a pair of seats, there are countless options awaiting your perusal on the aftermarket, and that’s before you even start to think about customising things to your own specs. That, it goes without saying, is why we can always bring you such a diverse menu of morsels every month with the features we share – it’s pretty much impossible for two people to build the same car. And while many of the ingredients may be common to a number of other projects, it’s the unique way that they’re pieced together that makes each one special.


    This Laguna Seca-hued E46 is a prime example of such diversity. Sure, the notion of adding M3 and CSL parts to a non-M 3 Series is a well-trodden path, but the owner in question here, David Byrne, has basically sidestepped any semblance of influence from anyone else’s project to bring to life his own unique vision of the E46 puzzle. Now, quite a few of the cars that you see on these pages have been built on a clock – whether it’s to debut at SEMA or to make it in time for a Players show, or just to work to some arbitrary timescale (a birthday, a holiday, a year after the car’s purchase, you name it), people quite often have one eye on the calendar throughout in order to push them on, keep them motivated. Not so with our protagonist here – David’s owned this car for the best part of a decade now, and he’s casually honing and refining it at his own pace, intent on ultimately colouring in the sketched-out vision in his head.


    “I owned my first BMW for six years,” he recalls. “It was a 1999 320d Saloon. I was coming from Fords and Rovers before that, and was impressed that the interior was a world apart – the quality of it, it was such a nice place to be. I needed a saloon to ferry the kids about, and I wanted something that was built to last. It turned out to be a good choice.” Well, having hung on to it for that amount of time, that really speaks for itself. “I loved the E46 so much that I started hankering after something more; I’d never modded a car before, but after the kids had grown up a bit I was able to take the plunge and buy a coupé. I couldn’t afford an M3, so the 330Ci Sport was the next best thing! It was 18 months old when I bought it from a main dealer – 16k on the clock and pretty much perfect – and I didn’t really have much of an idea of what to change on it at first. But then the E46zone forum started to give me some ideas…”


    What followed, as you’ve probably guessed from casting an eye over the photos, was no small amount of work in transforming the 330Ci into a reasonably faithful M3 tribute, combining some CSL accoutrements and even the heady thrill of forced induction. So let’s start with that last point, shall we? Sounds pretty intriguing. “Yes, well the simplest way to get the power I was after from the M54 block was to supercharge it,” says David, matter-of-factly.


    See, he’s not blowing the thing to impress people on a showground or win any pats on the back from forum members – he just wanted the thing to go faster, and identified the best way to do it. “Having owned it for so long I knew that the engine was solid and had been looked after, so I wasn’t worried about its strength. I chose the ESS system as it had been proven as a reliable OEMlooking solution, and it has exhaustively tested its ’charger on a track car which has run over 50k miles and is still going strong, so that’s good enough for me! There are also many ESS chargers out in the wild and it has a great reputation. The standard map it has is pretty good too, although I am considering a custom map in the future…”

    The car’s been dyno’d at over 400hp at the flywheel, which is a healthy lift over the straight-six’s stock grunt, and this is all helped along by some lumpier Schrick cams, E36 M3 Evo high-flow manifolds that have been custom-matched to the motor, and a variety of other tasty tweaks. To help get all of this new power down to the road, David’s had a Quaife LSD installed, which should help to tame the whirlwind somewhat. Although a power figure that begins with a four is always going to be a handful – we bet that David’s got a grin like a Cheshire cat when he fully unleashes the beast.


    This is a holistic build, however, it’s not just about the meat under the bonnet. The exterior has been treated to all manner of M3-derived embellishments, centreing around the genuine OEM M3 front wings and rear quarters, which are artfully complemented by the correct side skirts, bonnet and rear bumper, along with a CSL bootlid and replica CSL front bumper. “That bootlid should have been standard on the M3 in my opinion, it’s a work of art,” he smiles. There’s also a CSL-like carbon-fibre roof, which is no mean feat to achieve: “The original was taken off in half a day,” David explains, “and the carbon-fibre item was bonded on and left to cure over the weekend in the oven. Since the previous skin had a sunroof, the weight saving is significant!”


    David’s a master of subterfuge too, the modifying bug having bitten him hard. He’s always ready to surprise onlookers with a subtle but fresh twist. “I have several alternative parts to put on the car to change the look and keep it fresh,” he says. “There’s a set of amber and clear lights, chrome, black and colour-coded grilles, the CSL rear diffuser and original M3 diffuser, two front splitters and a single lip, plus three sets of wheels which can all be swapped around to alter the look whenever I want!”


    Talk about diversity, huh? You can see how easily it is to get sucked into the partshoarding scene – once you’ve got a taste for OEM+ tuning, it becomes an obsessive pattern of searching and collecting. As we move into the interior, we find another set of boxes ticked over the course of David’s ownership, stepping incrementally toward his dream E46. The whole thing’s been expertly retrimmed in Cinnamon leather, silky-soft in its Porsche-sourced Nappa finery, with some oh-so on-trend Recaro Sportster CS buckets on kidneyrestraining duty up front. “They’re heated seats,” David boasts proudly. “They were wired in by a local firm, DJ Auto Electrics, to operate with the OEM three-stage seat buttons.” It’s this sort of attention to detail that made the build stand out for us, and we’re not the only ones – David’s fastidiousness has won his car a lot of fans online. Not that he built it for them, of course.


    It goes without saying that the car sits perfectly too – the combination of HSD Mono coilovers and OEM CSL wheels work on a number of levels, the lightweight 19s looking just-so with those genuine M3 body corners. The fact that it’s all slathered in a striking shade of blue – the connoisseur’s choice, some may say, and an option box seldom ticked – serves to highlight the obsessive nature of how the various upgraded parts have been pieced together. Given that he’s been at it for nine years, then, are we seeing the finished product? Is this the end of the road? Is he done? No, of course not. “I’m keeping this car for life,” he says. “And I’ve got a few plans for it yet… possibly a custom exhaust system, a TS3 upgrade to the supercharger, a Redish subframe reinforcement kit. There’s plenty more in store.”

    We can be sure that the quality will be absolutely top notch, naturally, and it’s a fairly safe bet that he’ll be buying two or three options for whatever he decides to change. You know, just to keep us all on our toes. One thing that’s totally certain, however, is that he’ll be taking his time over it, doing everything very thoughtfully. Nine years? Hell, he’s just warming up…


    TECHNICAL DATA FILE SUPERCHARGED #BMW-330Ci-E46 / #BMW-330Ci / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged-E46 / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged / #BMW-E46 / #BMW

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 , #ESS TS2+ supercharger / #ESS-TS2 , #Schrick 248/256 cams, #VANOS anti-rattle kit, E36 M3 Evo high flow headers (custom flange fitted for M54 block), DEI titanium heat wrap, custom de-cat centre section, #Umnitza quad exhaust with Eurostyle M3 tips, OEM Performance filter, carbon-fibre air intake, cooling system replaced, #AFR wideband meter, discreet P3 vent gauge for #AFR and #OBD II readout. Six-speed manual, #CDV delete, clutch stop mod, UCC short-shift and DSSR, Quaife LSD with diff polybushes, diff and transmission oil replaced with Redline.

    CHASSIS 8.5x19” #ET44 (front) and 9.5x19” ET27 (rear) OEM M3 CSL wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport tyres (alternative wheels: gunmetal grey 359 reps or Volk TE37s), HSD #Mono coilovers, #Powerflex front bushes, OEM M3 27mm front and convertible 20mm rear anti-roll bars, OEM Performance carbon-fibre strut brace, #Powerflex ARB bushes, Purple Label shorter steering rack, #KSport eight-pot #BBK with EBC BlueStuff pads.

    EXTERIOR Laguna Seca blue, Evolve carbon-fibre 1x1 weave roof, OEM M3 rear quarters, OEM M3 wings, side skirts, CSL bootlid, bonnet and rear bumper, Status Gruppe CSL 1x1 weave carbon-fibre diffuser, M3 diffuser, M3 door mirrors, Turner Motorsport replica CSL front bumper, single carbon-fibre lip and splitters, modified Japanese numberplate holder, Umnitza LED angel eyes, LED rear amber lights, OEM amber indicators, face-lift rear lights, E9x puddle lights in door handles, boot opening spring kit.


    INTERIOR #Recaro Sportster CS Cross heated seats (backs painted gloss black), full retrim in #Cinnamon Nappa leather, M3 instrument cluster, CSL door kick strips, M3 rear view mirror, 1x1 carbon-fibre trim, #Dynavin N6 media/sat-nav system, DAB radio, Freeview TV, Storm Motorwerks gear knob, handbrake and sat-nav knobs, steering wheel re-covered in Alcantara, CSL lower trim (Titanium Shadow), Alcantara gear and brake gaiters, retrofit boot release, AC Schnitzer mats, cup holders, Rainbow speakers (front and rear), Blacksys dual-channel GPS dash-cam.

    THANKS #K&G Bodyshop in Cannock, Midland VW in Cannock, Dave Haden Upholstery in Walsall Wood, Xtreme Stainless, in Hixon, DJ Auto Electrics in Cannock.
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