- Post is under moderationWith the weather finally improving, now is the time to start getting excited about show season. I can’t wait to see what this year’s shows will bring as there are always some amazing new builds that are revealed to the world and existing builds that have had a makeover for the new year. Having said that, it’s equally nice to admire some of your favourite cars that haven’t been touched; not everyone has the time, money or inclination to just keep modding. We always say that a project is never truly finished but, sometimes, it really is and then all that’s left is to just enjoy it and let everyone else enjoy it too.
/ #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 #BMW-M5-E39 / #BMW-M5-Supercharged-E39 / #BMW-M5-Supercharged / #BMW-5-Series-M5-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW /
After last month’s 20th anniversary celebrations it’s now time to crack on with taking #PBMW into the future and I’d like to think our July issue is the perfect way to get on with creating a new modified BMW legacy for future generations to look back on and enjoy. Our fully-custom #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 cover car is an absolute beast of a machine, easily up there with some of the wildest and most incredible feature cars that have ever graced these hallowed pages. This awesome M5 is making a seriously healthy 560hp courtesy of an #ESS supercharger kit, has been fitted with a custom metal wide-arch kit, a stunning set of custom forged splits, massive brakes and quite possibly one of the most incredible interiors we’ve ever seen. It is the consummate show car, a build of epic proportions and we guarantee it’s going to take your breath away. We’ve also got a selection of awesome additional feature cars for you to enjoy, like a fast and furious Fashion grey F80 M3, an absolutely stunning 2.8 M20 stroker E30 running ITBs, a ferocious, 480hp supercharged Z3 M Coupé and a slick SR20-swapped drift E30 plus we’ve got a 3 Series guide, an S62 engine guide, show reports and loads more.
Next month it’s the power issue and our Summer edition of the mag will be absolutely crammed full of some incredible big-power builds that will rock your world. It’s going to be awesome and I genuinely can’t wait; see you then!
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- Post is under moderationTALES OF THE UNEXPECTED Wild supercharged E90 M3
Karel Silha’s M3 has been evolving for a few years, getting ever madder and more frightening. As he teeters on the cusp of his next round of innovations, we pin down his green monster to see just how deeply this lunacy has spiraled… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Patrik Karlsson.
840HP E90 M3 Supercharged wide-arch beast
The most fun cars are the ones that do surprising things; ones that subvert your expectations and lead your preconceptions down a hitherto uncharted path. We’re not talking about sleepers here – that’s a well-documented area, and a whole textbook in itself. No, what’s flicking our switch today is the idea of using a novel base to build something devastating. Like when Top Gear commissioned Lotus to build a trackslaying Lada, and the Norfolk spannertwiddlers ended up throwing £100k at it. Or when Volvo entered the BTCC in the 1990s with an 850 estate. These are not the logical cars to choose for such endeavours, which is what makes the whole concept so eminently desirable.
So it is with Karel Silha’s M3. He wanted to build an unstoppable and terrifying car with which to distort reality in the otherworldly and near-mythical amphitheatre of the now-world-renowned Gatebil events, so he chose to go with an M3. Fair play, sound reasoning, we can see why you’d do that But, just for the sake of waving two fingers at the rest of the paddock, he didn’t take the obvious route and buy himself an E92 coupé. He chose the sensible, dad-spec E90 fourdoor saloon.
Alright, we’ll immediately retract ‘sensible, dad-spec’, that’s a moronic way to describe a machine as formidable as the E90 – but you have to admit that the act of deliberately choosing a car with extra doors you know you’re never going to use is something only a belligerent and confrontational person would do. It’s Touring Car rules; you’ve got four doors so that people spectating can relate your car to their own salesman-spec diesel commuter. Karel’s just cranked things up a notch, simply to be mischievous. Oh, those effervescently zany Swedes…
“My first car was a Toyota Starlet,” he explains, which is actually something we hear a lot. A surprising number of skilled helmsmen cut their teeth in that balletic Japanese poppet, it must teach its drivers an awful lot about car control. “I’ve been working with BMWs for about 12 or 13 years now though. My first was an E30, which I wanted to turn into a bit of turbocharged weekend fun. Most of my BMWs have been E30s in fact; the most recent one was making 982hp and 887lb ft on an old M20 engine.”
It’s probably safe to assume that this fella knows what he’s doing when it comes to perving over BMWs then. However, the E90 is a world apart from the E30 (just look at the maths, it’s 60 #BMW Top Trump points adrift), so this little race car project was always going to be something of a challenge, right? No, not a bit of it. Karel’s the sort of chap who just knuckles down and gets on with it and there’s no half-measures here. Allin or nothing.
“I wanted to do fast lap times and the goal was to be quick,” he says, with hilarious modesty and masterful understatement. “With that in mind, there was only one chassis that was suitable for this: the E90 M3. So I bought the car from a friend – it was in really good condition, aside from the engine, which was trashed. One of the rods had found its way out…” But with the plans that Karel had made, a blown motor was an irrelevance. Stock engines aren’t Gatebil fodder. It was always the gameplan to tear the motor apart and beef everything up like Meat Loaf in an Angus Steakhouse.
“Yes, the whole build was fully mapped out from the start,” he assures us. “We even drew up 3D renderings of how it would look when it was finished. The plan was always clear.” Oh, and what a plan it was. With ruthless efficiency and the sort of clockwork dominance of the to-do list that you normally find in school staff rooms, Karel and his crew set about ripping the E90 to shreds and building it back up as an apex-humiliating, spectator-arousing beast.
“In the first year, we dealt with the chassis,” he says. “KW three-way competition suspension, and also a big brake upgrade from Endless, to get the chassis fully dialled-in. We’d initially talked to a local company about our suspension options, and the support was terrible, so we ended up talking to KW suspension in Germany. They answered all of our questions in one email and the support was just above and beyond, so it was a no-brainer to go with KW! They made a custom three-way competition kit for us, and those guys have been a strong partner ever since.”
With the chassis tested and thoroughly proven, the second year of the E90 build threw up some proper mischief. “In year two we did the forged engine,” says Karel, “and then we supercharged it – and this was no off-the-shelf kit, it was the biggest setup ESS could make for us. We ended up with 840hp, and we also upgraded the ECU to a full Motec setup, with PDM [Power Distribution Module], dash and ECU. We fitted a Samsonas sequential gearbox with paddleshift too.” Phew. Time to take a breath, drink in the magnificence of the spec, and just have a little think about our own life choices. Stick the kettle on for some pondering time, we’ll see you at the next paragraph.
Better? We know, it’s a lot to take in. But brace yourselves, as there’s a little more to come. You see, it would have been amusingly stealthy to jam all of this sweaty grunt into a stock-looking four-door shell, but stealth has never been the Swedish forced induction enthusiasts’ watchword. So what you’re seeing here is a searing vision in Snakeskin Green, a Dodge Viper colour no less, and to prove that this build isn’t just about dumb horsepower there’s a frankly staggering aero setup. Just look at the frickin’ size of that rear diffuser, for goodness’ sake! And the front splitter’s big enough to stand a family of six upon, let alone allowing them all to have a little nap on the rear wing. This thing may have enough horsepower to make a Bugatti owner think twice, but it’s also glued to the track by the crushing inevitability of downforce. It’s actually kinda frightening. Another hugely impressive element of this build is just how stock that S65 motor is, aside from the comically large blower. It’s got forged pistons and rods from Pure Performance Motorsport in Australia, and a suitably juiced-up fuelling system feeding through a Weldon 2345 pump (which is good for 1300hp!), but aside from that it’s pretty much as the M Division intended. Talk about over-engineering, eh?
Still, there was a global vibe developing in this Swedish-honed, German-built car with Australian engine upgrades and Japanese interior addenda, so it only made sense for the rolling stock to come from somewhere unexpected too. That’s why you’ll find a set of Work VS-XX wheels under those widened carbon fibre arches – custom-built wheels from Japan. And the rears are a spanking 12.5” wide, which allows for some seriously dirty contact patch. “We wanted a wheel that could match the rest of the car,” Karel reasons, “and Work Wheels were the only choice for a quality wide wheel.” Having hand-crafted his own bruising arches, we’ll happily take his word for that.
“Function over form was the overarching idea,” he continues. “The look has always been secondary to the act of going fast. The chassis’s actually being modified for a Version 3 that we’ll be debuting soon, but yes – the capability has always been more important than the look.” This statement, of course, writes a very large cheque, as the car looks absolutely phenomenal. Thankfully, we know that the setup can cash it with ease. “I’d say my favourite element of the build is all the carbon fibre,” Karel grins. “When you start with carbon, you kinda get the fever and it’s hard to stop! For 2017 most of the car will be in carbon fibre, and for 2018 a new chassis is being built with even more mods and 100% carbon.” Blimey. 100% is a big percentage. We’ll report back as the news filters in.
“It took some five-to-six months to build the first version of the car,” he says, “then it evolved over the off-season; 2015 Version 1, 2016 Version 2, and 2017 is Version 2.1. Just wait – 2018 will bring it up to Version Badass.” We can’t wait to see that. But for now, let’s just bask in the unutterable lunacy of Version 2.1 – the as-yet ultimate evolution of your neighbour’s four-door 3 Series, built to tear up Gatebil and atomise any rubber that may stray into its workshop. The fact that it’s not a coupé just makes the flawless victories all the sweeter. ¬
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Supercharged / #BMW-E90 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E90 / #BMW-M3-Supercharged / #BMW-M3-Supercharged-E90 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E90 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E90 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #ESS-supercharger / #ESS / #BMW / #Work / #MoTeC-ECU
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #BMW-S65 / #S65 , fully-forged, custom #ESS-supercharger-kit , 1000cc injectors and uprated fuelling with #Weldon 2345 pump, #Motec engine management. #Samsonas six-speed sequential gearbox
CHASSIS 11x18” (front) and 12.5x18” (rear) #Work-VS-XX wheels with 305/35 (front) and 335/35 (rear) tyres, #KW three-way competition suspension, #Endless race brake setup with six-pot calipers (front and rear) with 355mm (front) and 345mm (rear) discs
EXTERIOR Dodge Viper Snakeskin Green, wide steel rear wings and plastic-welded M3 front wings – now remoulded in carbon fibre, Gatebil-sized custom wing, splitter and diffuser
INTERIOR Sparco seats, Takata harnesses, OMP steering wheel, custom cluster by Karel S Motorsport, paddle shifters, full painted FIA rollcage
THANKS All of my friends who helped, especially to Tim and Jens, and also all of my sponsors last year and also the new ones for 2017 – it would not have been possible without them
No air-ride here, just air jacks.
The rear view is dominated by that custom diffuser.
Fully-painted FIA roll-cage.
“Function over form was the overarching idea, the look has always been secondary to the act of going fast”
MOTEC engine management keeps things running right.
Sparco seats with Takata harnesses up front.
MoTeC C127 Race Display behind OMP steering wheel.
Custom ESS supercharger kit makes 840hp.
“In year two we did the forged engine and then we supercharged it [with] the biggest setup ESS could make for us. We ended up with 840hp”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSUPERCHARGED E39 M5 Business class just got faster
STRICTLY BUSINESS This executive saloon may look unassuming, but don’t be fooled, Matt Benson’s supercharged E39 M5 will easily cash any cheques your right foot can sign. Words and photos: Matt Petrie.
Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an age-old adage instilled in us during our youth. While it is one of the earliest morals taught, it is too often forgotten as we grow old. Taking past experiences and using them to make prejudices towards a result which we expect to be true can get us into trouble and that is the case with Matt Benson’s E39. What looks to be a civilized saloon is in actuality a complete and utter lunatic. Don’t be fooled – this unapologetic M5 will leave you scratching your head when launching from a red light or as it commands curves, winding through the mountains.
Maintaining a balance of ferocity and modesty is not an easy task and while on paper it might be contradictory, we assure you that Matt’s E39 M5 is a textbook example of a proper business saloon. The key to retaining modesty is doing without the wild colours, aggressive aero, and flashy wheels. Aesthetically, it has to be something to simply get you into work without being the topic of conversation among co-workers gathering around the water cooler. However, that commute to and from the office is a different, exhilarating story. In order to fully appreciate the final product, we need to briefly highlight the evolution of Matt’s mods and previous cars.
Matt Benson has always had an affinity for V8 muscle and taking the more subtle approach is something of second nature for him. His first car was a Ford Mustang 5.0 LX “Fox body” which, in a sense, was a sleeper in its time compared to its sister version, the Mustang GT. He drove that LX into the ground with over 200,000 miles on the odometer. After many advancements up the automobile food chain, Matt traded some American torque for German refinement as he found himself in another V8, but this time in the form of a 2000 E39 540i Saloon.
Though Matt was satisfied with the graduation to the European sports saloon and recognized it as a big improvement, the horsepower bug bit him hard. Dinan parts made their way all over the 540i to increase the performance in both the handling and the engine, pushing it to 350hp. Knowing his reasonable limitations had been met with the 540, yet still wanting more out of his car, Matt set his eyes on his current ride – this 2000 Carbon black on Caramel leather M5.
He found this car over a decade ago, desirably, with one previous owner and only 13,000 miles logged. Immediately, the performance difference was prominent between the 540i and the M5; the torque off the line and the way the car hooked in the corners didn’t leave him with seller’s remorse over the 540i. While he was tacking on roughly 50,000 miles of his own back and forth to the office and on spirited drives, Matt was continuously adding mods to enhance the performance even further. As superior as he felt the car was in comparison to his previous cars, it wasn’t quite enough. Relentless and back with a vengeance, the mod bug bit hard this time, and it did not let go.
Matt’s first modification to the M5 didn’t lead to horsepower gains per se. Back in 2005 he sourced a Dinan 3.55 differential and while it is one of the biggest improvements that you can make to a naturally aspirated car, ironically, it has nothing physically to do with the engine. Over the years it served its purpose, but as Matt says “I guess I modded a mod” and changed the rear end out to a 3.62. The tight gear ratio shifts the power band, launching the car and virtually making first gear useless in the best way possible. Surrounding the differential in the rear is a matching Dinan high performance exhaust, which flows out back from a Supersprint four-into-one stepped exhaust manifold system. Above the manifolds, under the bonnet, lies a Dinan cold air intake and Evolve Alpha-N tune with MAF delete and while this combination achieved Matt’s 450 horsepower goal, it was time to raise the bar yet again.
Chasing greater horsepower and maximising the NA bolt-ons, he crossed the threshold into the forced induction world. Matt commissioned Autocouture Motoring in northern NJ, well-known for its work with BMW and supercharging the E9x platform specifically, to do the work. The team installed an ESS Tuning VT1-560 supercharger system along with an Aquamist meth injection kit. To handle the horsepower increase and fight the ravages of age, Autocouture also installed a Dinan subframe reinforcement kit at the same time as the performance upgrades. The combination of the Dinan differential chewing through first and second gear with the pull of the ESS supercharger and meth higher up the power band is a visceral experience that delivers an exceptional one-two punch.
In fact, when Matt was asked what his favorite modification to the car has been, he responded happily, “I have two favourites, the first being the supercharger, which brought the biggest smile to my face, and second would be the shorter diff, it’s like a 50hp equivalent increase!”
With all of this newly-added power he now addressed the other areas of importance: brakes and suspension. Matt went top shelf when choosing suspension, opting for the JRZ coilover kit and set the car up slightly lower than the stock ride height, maximising suspension travel and comfort while optimizing the performance that the JRZs offer. StopTech ST60/ST40 brakes at all four corners enhance the stopping power tremendously, with six-piston calipers up front and four-piston calipers in the rear, both sets finished in silver to keep the M5’s modified appearance at a minimum.
Matt loved the car’s aesthetics, especially its finely crafted, unadulterated exterior however, he needed a wheel that would clear his brakes and be lighter in weight than stock, while still maintaining the M5’s factory appearance. Wanting to mimic the style of the OEM M5 wheel, Matt, along with the crew at ACM, carefully selected the HRE Classic 301 monoblocks. Taking it a step further, he went with HRE’s gorgeous, custom, hand-brushed finish with a darktinted clear coat, tying them in with BMW’s factory chrome shadow finish on the M5’s original wheels.
This M5’s interior is straight out of a #BMW catalogue with the smooth caramel-coloured hide flowing from the seats onto the extended leather lower dashboard, with just the right amount of wood trim. Nothing is out of place nor unnecessarily added. Under close examination, only an aluminium pedal set and short shift kit can be spotted in here and even at that point the SSK is still capped off by the stock wood knob to maintain the factory look and feel. Matt was highly selective with every modification made to his M5, and held the highest of standards for how this on-going project was executed.
“While the car is more than 16-years-old, it rivals anything on the road currently,” Matt says and we’d have to agree with him, it is completely relevant in every way to any of the European sports cars of today. The gentleman’s executive saloon is one that does not cry out for attention, but rather discretely delivers to those who know what they’re looking at. Each modification was carefully considered and completed with one goal in mind, which was to make the car perform at its full potential. His car takes everything that was incredible about the E39 M5 and sharpens it to to modern standards, making this one of the most fun cars you will ever drive.
“Autocouture Motoring installed an #ESS-Tuning-VT1-560 supercharger system along with an Aquamist meth injection kit”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE Supercharged #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E39 / #BMW-M5-Supercharged / #BMW-M5-Supercharged-E39 / #ESS-VT1 / #ESS / #Vortech-V3 / #Vortech / #Howerton / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-E39 / #BMW / #ESS-Tuning
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 / #S62 / #BMW-S62 , Supersprint four-into-one exhaust manifolds, #ESS-VT1-560 #ESS-Supercharger kit with #Vortech-V3 supercharger, #Howerton-Aquamist-HFS-3 system, Dinan performance velocity stacks, #Dinan high-flow performance exhaust, high capacity electric fan, oil separators. Six-speed manual gearbox, #CNS-Racing 10.5 Kevlar clutch and dualmass flywheel, Dinan short shifter kit, 3.62 LSD with three clutch ramps and polished ring and pinion gears
CHASSIS 8.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #HRE-301 monoblock wheels with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Continental tyres, Dinan subframe reinforcement kit, Dinan front tower strut brace, Dinan camber plates and monoball front ball joint kit, #JRZ-Stage-3 suspension system from Dinan, #Beast-Power heavy-duty anti-roll bar brackets, #StopTech-ST60 BBK with six-piston calipers and 355x32mm discs (front) and ST40 BBK with four-piston calipers and 355x32mm discs (rear)
EXTERIOR Tinted windows, Depo angel eye upgrade kit, front lower bumper grille with aluminium mesh brake ducts
INTERIOR Black carbon fibre trim, aluminium pedal set, widescreen nav upgrade
THANKS Autocoulture Motoring (Tom Limatola, Sal Benanti, Matt Petrie and team) for bringing it to the next level, Northeast Motorsports (Mike O’Neill and team) for all their expertise, Motorsports West (Dave Bogert and team) for being the source of my performance BMW “condition”
Caramel Heritage leather adds a dash of luxury.
Gorgeous #HRE-301 monoblocks and #StopTech #BBK all-round.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationDouble Dare
Owning one street-and track-tuned M3 would be enough for most people. But not Chad Bates – he’s upped the ante with a matching pair. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Peter Wu.
Fierce E92 M3 and F80 M3 tear up the Tarmac / Stunning twin M3s
The two cars you’re looking at here – the E92 M3, and the F80 M3 – may be just a single generation apart, but they couldn’t be more different. The E92 features a thudding Goliath of an engine, a brutal, highrevving V8 with a soundtrack that can strip paint off cheap houses. It is (relatively speaking) an old-skool bruiser.
The F80, conversely, is a smart representation of modern technological advances; a focus on combining performance with efficiency – plus the everpresent emissions Sword of Damocles – has seen to it that the motor is now a twin-turbo straight-six. Furthermore, this generation finally broke the M3 chain, hitherto being a badge glued to the two- and four-door variants: whereas the E92 M3 we have here is a coupé, the F80 is a four-door saloon. If you want a two-door coupé version of the F80, you will find yourself with an M4. Which is actually an F82. Such is progress, such is life.
They are, of course, tied by an indelible bond, each an exciting chapter in the ongoing M3 saga, and their owner, Chad Bates, has artfully augmented these ties with tasteful upgrades to further accentuate their kinship: they both wear BBS wheels, they both roll on KW suspension, they’re both painted in subtle shades of grey. This measured approach is the result of a lifetime of modifying for Chad – although he admits that BMWs are, in the grand scheme of things, reasonably new territory for him.
“I bought my first car, a 1984 Jeep Cherokee, at the age of 16,” he explains. “Ever since that point I have embarked upon making a personal statement with my cars.
The Cherokee got stripped down and repainted, and received one of the most insane sound systems that money could buy. It was a fun little first car that got me around during my high school years! My second car was a heavily modified 1992 Honda Accord, which I kept for a couple of years before purchasing an Acura Integra GS-R – that, again, was heavily modified, although it got stolen and vandalised in 2002, and that left a horrible taste in my mouth.”
Disheartened by this turn of events, Chad just didn’t feel his place in the modifying scene any more, so he pulled the ’chute and drifted out of it. Fast-forward to 2008 and he’d become a family man, so he acquired his first BMW – a shiny new 550i – to ferry the kids around in. It was wellequipped and had a bit of get-up-and-go, but he never felt any desire to modify it. But then, in 2011, the lease expired and Chad found himself yearning for something more… offbeat. And that’s when a voice in his brain reminded him what sparked the interest in Bavarian machinery in the first place. “My initial interest in BMWs began in 1996, when a friend of mine bought an E36 M3 and began modifying it,” he reminisces.
“At that time, there weren’t a lot of young people from my hometown who could afford that type of vehicle, let alone modify them. So the car quickly became a local legend.” Chad felt that it was the right time to grab a handful of that stardust for himself, so he did the decent thing and ordered himself a brand-new E92 M3.
“It started as a Jerez black 2012 E92 that I E92 M3 planned to keep pretty much stock, but thanks to magazines, forums and friends, that desire to keep it stock quickly passed,” he laughs. “I began modifying just about everything that could be touched on the car, and spent quite a bit of time on the track. After about three years owning the car, however, it was beginning to show signs of wear from all the track abuse, and I decided to make a pretty dramatic change. So I stripped it down in my home garage…”
Yep, you read that right. No mucking about here, it’s all hands-on. In fact, Chad’s proud to explain that he’s carried out as many of the mods as he was physically able to on both cars. But we’ll get to the F80 in due course. First, we have a stripped down E92 to deal with: “All the body panels were removed and the entire interior was gutted,” he continues. “I shipped the shell to the guys at Strassesport in Irwindale, CA, where they painted it in Audi Nardo grey – something I hadn’t seen on a BMW before. Once the paint was finished the guys allowed me to work in their shop putting the entire car back together with my own hands.”
The finished product, as you can see, is pretty meaty: staggered BBS E88s, copious carbon fibre touches, Recaro Sportster CS seats – and the rear bumper’s pretty jazzy too. Built up by Strassesport, it has aftermarket diffusers and flares smoothed right in, appearing like an OEM factory piece to all but those who know what they’re looking at. Classy, huh?
After a year, however, Chad got itchy feet. He was loving the street racer thrills of the E92, but he wanted to add to his collection. Something unusual, something different. And the answer came in the form of, er, another grey M3.
“A unique 2015 F80 M3 came up for sale,” he grins. “It had been ordered from BMW Individual and no expense was spared. It was the first of its kind to be painted in Fashion grey; a colour borrowed from Porsche. The interior was trimmed in contrasting Fjord blue and Silverstone leather. It was probably the most expensive M3 built at the time, with just about every option – and of course all the extra individual costs associated with the paint and interior. I knew that if I was going to purchase the new F8x model, the car had to be something special, and I knew that this car would fit the bill.” And, naturally, with those old modifying urges now firmly in overdrive, this was never going to be a case of simply finding a wellspec’d car and keeping it standard. Just like with that schoolboy Cherokee, Chad needed to make his personal statement.
Like the E92, the engine’s had its management breathed upon, while the exhaust has been replaced with something that allows the brutal motor to bark with more ferocity. KW coilovers offer a neat balance between track prowess and streetable durability, and a handful of carbon-fibre exterior mods really set off that Fashion Grey hue in style.
“Both of these cars were purchased to be promotional tools for my business, MotorRennGruppe, a manufacturer of titanium wheel hardware,” he explains, and that’s the logic informing the look-at-me wheels on both cars. The E92 wears 18” BBS E88s in staggered widths, while the F80 has a set of genuinely mighty custom-built BBS LMs, the rears measuring an eye-watering and arch-busting 12x20”. Just check out those Michelins, they’re a 305-section at the rear. That’s supercar wide!
“For all my cars, I prefer very aggressive wheel setups that push the limits of the stock arches without making the cars look out of place or hacked up,” says Chad. “The E92’s E88s were rebuilt with new inner and outer barrels to widen the fronts to 10” and the rears to 11.5”, with offsets that brought the faces of the wheel nearly even with the arch lips. Then I knew I had to do something special with the F80, so I had a set of stock BBS LMs rebuilt to 10” and 12” widths. To my knowledge, this was the first set of 20” LMs done for the F80 M3.”
What particularly strikes us about Chad when he’s describing his modifying journey with this grey duo is that it’s all very considered and thoughtful; he’s not the type to rush in and overdo things. Perhaps it’s the background of getting his hands dirty and doing everything himself, but there’s not an iota of effort wasted here.
Take the engine tuning, for example. It’s easy to go a bit mad with M3s, but it’s good to remember that they’re pretty formidable in stock form, and sometimes less is more. “Both cars maintain stock engine internals, and were treated with tunes and bolt-on accessories,” he points out. “The E92 has a Stage II tune from BPM Sport, while the F80 has the E-Flash Tuner from ESS. Both cars have uprated intake systems from Macht Schnell and Maximum PSI, and the F80 has BMS charge pipes bolted up to the stock turbos. The ESS tune on the F80 bumps up the power considerably over stock with race fuel, and is extremely capable on the track – although I prefer driving the E92 over the F80 for the raw sound of the V8!”
Ah, the agony of choice, eh? But despite the obvious similarities between Chad’s two M3s, there’s a clear ideological split: the E92 has been built to be sporty and trackfriendly, while the swankier F80 is the luxurious daily driver that just happens to have Continent-crushing GT potential as well as track-slaying physical drama. Between them, they tick a lot of boxes.
So where does he go from here? “Well, I’d like a Porsche GT3 next,” he tells us. Yeah, he says that… but with two entirely different M3s to choose from – one modern, sensible and cosseting, the other an old-skool badboy track monster – we suspect he’s going to have his hands pretty full for a while.
“The F80 is capable on the track, but I prefer the E92 for the raw sound of the V8!”
“The car had to be something special… I knew this would fit the bill”
“For all my cars, I prefer very aggressive wheel setups”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-E92 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 , #Macht-Schnell-Stage-2 intake, #BPM-Sport-Stage-2 tune, #Megan-Racing exhaust system, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.
CHASSIS 10x18” (front) and 11.5x18” (rear) #BBS-E88 wheels with 255/35 (front) and 285/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot SuperSport tyres, #KW-Variant-3 coilovers, #StopTech Trophy big brake kit with six-piston callipers and 380x35mm discs (front) and four-piston callipers with 355x35mm discs (rear).
EXTERIOR Audi Nardo grey paint, OEM Euro-spec front bumper, iND grilles, bonnet vents and side gills, Mode Carbon GTS V1 carbon fibre front lip and side skirts, BMW carbon fibre mirror caps (painted Nardo grey), custom-moulded BMW M Performance spoiler, custom-moulded rear bumper with integrated diffuser.
INTERIOR Recaro Sportster CS seats, BMW Performance steering wheel, Pedal Haus pedals, heel plate and paddle shifters.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-F80 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #S55B30 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 , #ESS flash tune, #Eisenmann valved exhaust system, #BMS charge pipes, #Maximum-PSI charge intakes, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.
CHASSIS 10x20” (front) and 12x20” (rear) custombuilt #BBS-LM wheels with 245/35 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, #KW-HAS coilovers, M carbonceramic brakes, #MRG titanium stud conversion.
EXTERIOR Individual Fashion grey paint, Mode Carbon carbon-fibre Trophy S1 front lip, rear diffuser and M4-style rear spoiler, iND cosmetic package, modified M4 #BMW-M-Performance side skirts.
INTERIOR Individual Fjord blue and Silverstone extended leather interior with contrasting stitching, BMW M Performance steering wheel, factory carbon fibre interior trim, head-up display, Mode Carbon carbon fibre seat-back replacements (front and rear), P3 Cars digital boost gauge, Pedal Haus pedals, heel plate, and paddle shifters.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSupercharged Z4 M Coupé / This supercharged Z4 M Coupé will blow you away!
Walk the line
Strapping a supercharged to the already potent Z4 M makes for an exceptional performance machine.
Words and photos Chris Nichols.
Tuning a car is often a fraught process. There’s the stress that comes from buying new products, not knowing if they’ll work until they’re on the car, despite your hours of research. There’s the possibility that the workshop you’ve chosen will do bad work or rip you off. And, of course, there’s the likelihood that fitting upgrades will simply expose weaknesses in other parts of the car you weren’t aware of, forcing you to spend money you hadn’t planned to.
Melbourne, Australia’s Kris Hooper knew about all those potential pitfalls when he chose his 2006 Z4 M Coupé. A tearaway in his younger days, he’d managed to destroy one car and blow two engines in another before getting a 1998 Subaru WRX sedan as his first proper performance car. However, his experience making mild mods to that, coupled with his otherwise methodical thought processes and focus on research, meant when he decided on something European to change things up, he wasn’t going to approach the project with anything other than highly considered plans to ensure he avoided many of those common tuning errors.
“Magazines and forums have taught me how easy it can be to perform a modification only to find you are not happy with the result, to not get enough bang-for-your-buck, or to find further down the track that it is incompatible with something else you have planned.” All this is why, before he even began, Kris had a pretty clear idea as to what he wanted and how to achieve it. The Z4 M base was already a great start – powerful, with great street handling and braking, and looks that Kris fell in love with well before the test-drive. But his desire for a true all-rounder that combined ability on the street with track prowess meant things had to be planned well in advance, particularly as, being such a rare car outside of America, parts were not exactly in huge supply. “Most of the parts I’ve used have come from the US,” Kris says, “simply because the number of E85 Z4s in the States makes production of go-faster bits viable.”
While in some respects, that lack of choice made things easy, Kris still needed to make the right decisions to achieve the goals he wanted, so on top of his research he talked to the guys at SouthernBM, a local and highly renowned specialist shop. The end result was a pretty tasty combination of American tuning parts, such as a 34-row Zionsville radiator, Vibra-Technics engine mounts, a StopTech Trophy BBK, Turner anti-roll bars, Hyperco Linear Race springs, Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts and adjustable rear control arms, and an APR Performance carbon GT wing. In fact, JRZ RS-1 dampers aside, the only brake and suspension parts Kris didn’t get from the US were the Vorschlag E46 M3 camber/caster plates and Carbone Lorraine R6E pads. Even inside, Kris relied on US know-how to help improve the already pleasant Z4 M cabin in the form of beautiful and custommade anti-slip pedals from Ultimate Pedals. To these he added a Recaro Pole Position bucket for himself and a ZHP-style weighted BMW gear knob.
Rather surprisingly, given the S54 engine is from the E46 M3, Kris had trouble finding options even here, specifically in the form of supercharger kits. At the time, only ESS kits were available, so to get the power he wanted Kris had no choice but to go with the company’s VT2-525 blower, intercooler and intake manifold kit. Currently it makes 403whp and 228lb ft of torque. Of course, ESS equipment is hardly second-best, and thanks to upgrading the included Setrab oil cooler for a bigger one, Kris reckons even now, with more options on the market, he wouldn’t change a thing.
Thankfully, Kris’s other engine tuning options were easier to come by. He decided on a beautiful Tekarbon carbon fibre engine cover to spruce up the bay, and a KSS Performance valve-controlled exhaust to allow him to stay street-legal and not annoy his neighbours on those early mornings when he heads to the track yet still enjoy the full metallic scream of the S54 when he gets there. And he’s there a lot.
In fact, thanks to holding onto his WRX for more practical driving, Kris can afford to use the Z4 as almost purely a toy. This freedom, combined with his desire to learn from instructors on a regular basis and to study his own on-board data stats, means he’s able to really enjoy the car at the Marque Sports Car Association (MSCA) sprint days he attends regularly. He actually won his class in both 2014 and 2015.
Not that it’s all been plain sailing on the way to the top. While Kris has generally been very careful to build the car in a holistic way, avoiding many of the pitfalls others fall into, there have been challenges and even a scary on-track moment coming from a rare lapse of judgement when it came to both on-track behaviour and the order in which he fitted his mods. In terms of the challenges, the biggest was getting rid of the stock suspension setup’s on-track understeer. “For a car that handled so well on the street, I wasn’t expecting so much understeer,” Kris says. “An additional strut brace didn’t help. Wider front tyres didn’t help. Additional front camber didn’t help much either. Nor did changing my driving style to add some extra trail braking. It wasn’t until I swapped the suspension to the current coilovers and anti-roll bars and was able to stiffen the rear relative to the front that I was able to get the car to rotate like it should.”
And that scary moment? That was the result of what turned out to be an unwise decision to head to Calder Park, a track with one of Australia’s longest straights, on stock brakes (albeit with nearly new pads) despite having fitted the supercharger kit. Now, in his defence, Kris says the brakes had been ordered at the same time but not arrived before the last-minute spot opened up. We’ll let him tell you what happened next: “Halfway through the day, the pedal was starting to feel a little sketchy, and I began a cool down lap so I could come in and inspect the pad material. Part way into that lap, though, a supercharged Honda Civic tore out of the pits ahead of me, and the red mist descended. About a minute later he was still in front as we hit the main straight. At the end of it, as we were both hitting 220km/h (135mph), some semblance of rational thought returned and I started braking slightly before my marker because of my earlier concerns. Too little, too late. Under my left foot I could feel little more than air. Brake pressure was non-existent.”
As he later learned after pumping a whole extinguisher into the front left caliper, the pad material had just crumbled away by that point, leading to piston seals melting and fluid spraying everywhere. Luckily he still managed to save it, steering the Z4 around the Civic and through the narrow gate at the end of the straight before spinning to slow down in the field beyond. Safe to say, the StopTechs went on straight afterwards!
One additional benefit of fitting the big brakes was that they necessitated a wheel change. Never a fan of the OEM design, Kris had previously chanced upon a forum member running Volk Racing G2s in the same matt black as his own Z4 and decided they were perfect. And, as luck would have it, a member of a different forum who lived locally was selling a set just when Kris needed them. “They must have been the only used set of wheels in the correct fitment available locally at the time, and possibly ever since,” he says. “I was so happy with them that when it came time to get a separate set of track wheels I went straight to Volk, who made me up a set of TE37SLs that, again, are exactly what I wanted.” It’s hard to argue with Kris’s choice, too.
Japanese wheels often look great on BMWs and this is no exception. The relatively rare G2 design’s sharp edges and rounded curves, especially, match perfectly with the E85 Z4 M Coupé’s similar mix of lines, keeping the car looking current and fresh, despite now being ten-years-old. And thanks to Kris’s focus on getting the handling, power and braking right, it’s now a car that doesn’t just look great but one he can enjoy driving for years to come (like his WRX, he has no plans to part with it though).
“The Z4 M, to me, represents a challenge, one that never gets old. There is such a fine line between getting it right and everything going to hell in a split-second. Sprinting along the right side of that line is one of my favourite things in the world.”
DATA FILE #Supercharged Z4 M Coupé / #ESS / #BMW / #BMW-Z4-M-Coupé / #BMW-Z4-M-Coupe-E86 / #BMW-Z4-M-E86 / #BMW-Z4-E86 / #BMW-E86 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW / #Rogue-Engineering / #Vortech / #Volk-Racing-G2 / #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54B32-Supercharged / #S54B32-TUNED
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six S54B32 , #ESS-VT2-525 supercharger kit ( #Vortech-V3Si supercharger, #ESS intercooler and intake manifold), #K&N air filter, #Zionsville aluminium radiator, #Vibra-Technics engine mounts, #Tekarbon carbon fibre engine cover, #Bosch-453cc injectors, #KKS-Performance valve-controlled exhaust with push-button controller, KKS-Performance 4x80mm exhaust tips, software reflash to remove speed limiter and raise rev limiter to 8200rpm, six-speed manual gearbox
CHASSIS 8.5x19” ET+35 (front) and 9.5x19” ET+22 (rear) #Volk-Racing G2 wheels with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Bridgestone Potenza tyres for the street, 8.5x18” ET+35 (front) and 9.5x18” ET+22 (rear) Volk Racing TE37SL wheels with 245/40 (front) and 275/40 (rear) Nitto NT-01 tyres for the track, JRZ RS-1 coilovers with Hyperco Linear Race springs (450lb front, 600lb rear), Turner Motorsport 30/25 E46 M3 anti-roll bars, stock front strut brace, Rogue Engineering adjustable rear control arms, Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts, Vorschlag E46 M3 camber/caster plates and perches, StopTech Trophy Sport BBK with six-pot calipers (front) and four-pot calipers (rear), 355x32mm two-piece slotted rotors allround and stainless braided lines, Carbone Lorraine R6E sintered endurance pads, Motul 600RBF fluid
EXTERIOR Carbon fibre centre grille (sourced by Turner Motorsport), APR Performance rear carbon GT wing, M Power windscreen decal
INTERIOR Recaro Pole Position race bucket (driver’s side only), Macht Schnell Competition Liteweight seat mounts, BMW ZHP-style weighted gear knob, LeatherZ leather door handle covers, custom billet Ultimate Pedals anti-slip racing pedalsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHE RIGHT STUFF
Some cars have it, some cars don’t – but this 625hp supercharged E92 M3 most definitely has a whole heap of it. From its looks, to its stance and what it’s got lurking under the bonnet, this E92 M3 gets everything right. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Mike Kuhn.
What makes a good-looking car? The styling plays a big part, of course, but that on its own isn’t enough; how it sits is also important, as ride height and stance play a huge role in terms of a car’s visual appeal. Furthermore, the wheels are crucial as the ‘wrong’ ones can ruin even the best-looking cars. Get all of these elements spot-on and you’ll build yourself a car that looks right on every level and David Cao has done just that. It helps that he’s chosen to work his magic on an E92 M3, which is a great platform to begin any build, and as an added bonus there’s a bit of extra spice going on under the bonnet…
We have to say that looking at the E92 (and its M3 incarnation in particular) with post-F3x eyes, it looks better than it ever did. Everything about it, from the proportions to the understated but purposeful styling, was and still is right. The F8x M3 and M4 certainly aren’t short of aggression, but the E9x M3 has such a cohesive shape that flows so well, with perfect proportions. Add the overwhelming aftermarket support for the car (so extensive that no two examples are likely to be the same) plus the fact that it’s likely to be the last naturally aspirated M3 that we’ll see and it’s enough to have you reaching for the chequebook.
That’s exactly what David did, and he’s clearly as keen on the E9x 3 Series family as we are, judging by past and present automotive conquests: “I’ve been interested in BMWs since 2007 when I bought my first one, a 335i,” he says, which is certainly a great introduction to the brand. “I bought it because of its twin-turbo engine and the fact that it performed just as well as the E46 M3.” While that 335i is no longer part of the stable, David has employed an E91 325xi Touring for daily duties. Good as the 335i was, when the M3 was launched the lure of its high-revving, naturally aspirated V8 proved impossible to resist and he put his name down, with this white example being the result of that transaction.
The E92 M3 is an awesome machine out-of- the-box, but it has so much untapped potential that it really would seem foolish not to tap it. David has a car history that includes a large number of modified Hondas, so the M3 was never going to stay stock for long. Also, with his modifying roots firmly embedded in the JDM scene, it is unsurprising that David has chosen to let some of those Japanese styling influences spill over to his German machine, and it’s given this M3 a fusion flavour that’s distinctively different. The front and rear bumpers come from Japanese tuning house, Amuse, and are part of the Ericsson range; the bumpers aren’t overly aggressive, just adding a touch of extra ‘swoopiness’ and it’s only really the bootlid, with its unashamedly indiscreet, obtuse-angled integrated spoiler that makes a big impact. The front bumper, with its black corner extensions, has been further embellished with an APR carbon fibre splitter, while the rear item has been fitted with a Downforce USA multi-piece carbon fibre diffuser, which blends perfectly with the bumper.
In addition to this, Exotic Tuning carbon fibre side blades sit below the skirts on either side and there’s an AC Schnitzer roof spoiler, plus slick-looking ONEighty NYC custom headlights with super-bright angel eyes. These are complemented at the rear with a set of LCI light clusters.
On the suspension front, David has eschewed air-ride on his E92 M3, instead opting to keep things static with a KW coilover kit, though he’s clearly a devout worshipper at the temple of lows judging by how far off the ground the front splitter sits; in fact, we’re amazed it’s survived this long! Of course, lowered suspension is crying out for the right wheels to go with a serious drop and here Dave has once again looked to the Far East for inspiration.
“I’ve had lots of wheels for this car,” he says, “and lately I’ve been aiming for Japanese wheels, which is why I got this classic set of Work Equips.” The simple fivespoke design is perhaps not one you tend to see on E9x M3s, which makes the wheels stand out and gives this car a particular, aggressive, look. The wheels themselves, while not intricate, are gorgeous, from the detailed centre caps with their raised lettering to the contrast of the dark silver faces against the mirror-polished stepped lips, with those deep dishes front and rear catching the light. They really suit the car’s aggressive styling, the thick, chunky spokes sitting perfectly against the sharp, angular looks and giving the whole package a squat, stocky appearance.
Venturing inside, the remnants of the once red interior offer up a nice contrast against the inky blackness of everything else and, while David hasn’t gone wild in here, what he has changed has made a big difference. The two-piece Recaro Sportster CS seats are awesome, a world away from the comfortable but slightly bland standard items, and give the interior a much more purposeful look that matches the M3’s outward appearance. They are joined by a ZHP gear knob, because this is indeed a manual, and a #BMW-M-Performance V2 steering wheel with digital display along with a P3Cars vent-mounted multi-function digital data display and boost gauge.
Now, the E9x M3 is a pretty ferocious performance machine out-of-the-box, the glorious S65 V8 giving it some serious muscle, but it would be a shame if all that additional battle armour on the outside wasn’t backed up with a little something extra under the bonnet. Luckily, this M3 has had more than a little fettling on the engine front and lifting the lid on the 4.0-litre V8 reveals the unmistakable intake plenum of an ESS supercharger kit.
David has opted for the VT2-625 intercooled setup, which is only $600 more than the 595 version but a hefty $1400 lighter on the wallet than the top-end 650 version, making this the sensible choice for those looking to punch through the 600hp barrier on their supercharged M3.
As its name suggests, the 625 kits makes a mighty 625hp, 205hp up on the standard car, with 410lb ft of torque for some serious midrange muscle, with the Vortech V3 Si supercharger running at between 6.5 and 7psi of boost. That pressurised air passing through what ESS says is the largest chargecooler system on the market and an octet of uprated Bosch injectors ensure ample fuel reaches the engine to match all that additional air. Not only is it an awesome-looking kit, it really delivers on the performance front and gives this M3 more than enough of a power upgrade to match the aggressive styling. The supercharger, incidentally, is David’s favourite modification on the car: “The car feels and sounds amazing along with the F1 exhaust,” he says.
Ah yes, we almost forget about that. The quad pipes protruding from the rear valance are far from stock and belong to the IPE Innotech F1 Valvetronic exhaust system. A bit of a mouthful that may be, but this stainless steel system goes from mild to wild at the push of a button, delivering an awesome V8 soundtrack with the valves open, so much so that we wonder if David ever bothers to close them… The finishing touch, and a necessary one to compensate for that massive increase in power, is the addition of a beefy Rotora Street Challenge big brake kit with six-pot forged aluminium callipers and massive 380mm discs up front.
It’s fair to say that David has built himself an absolute monster machine of an M3. It looks that little bit different from the norm thanks to its Asian styling influences and combines striking styling with a whole heap of power thanks to that ESS supercharger. It ticks just about every box you could think of and it really is one of those cars that gets everything so very right.
DATA FILE Supercharged #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #ESS / #IPE-Innotech / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW-M3-Supercharged-E92 / #BMW-M3-Supercharged / #BMW-E92-Supercharged / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #ESS-Supercharger
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 / #S65-Supercharged , #ESS-VT-2-625 intercooled supercharger kit, IPE-Innotech-F1-Valvetronic exhaust, six-speed manual gearbox, 625hp, 410lb ft
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) three-piece #Work-Equip wheels with 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Achilles #Achilles-ATR Sport tyres, #KW coilovers, #Rotora-Street-Challenge #BBK (front) with forged aluminium six-pot calipers and 380mm slotted discs
EXTERIOR Amuse Ericsson front bumper, APR carbon fibre front splitter, ONEighty NYC headlights, Exotic Tuning carbon fibre side blades, Amuse Ericsson bootlid, AC Schnitzer roof spoiler, Downforce carbon fibre rear diffuser, LCI tail-lights
INTERIOR #BMW-Performance electronic V2 steering wheel, BMW ZHP gear knob, Recaro Sportster CS seats, P3Cars digital integrated data display and boost gauge
THANKS Viet at Delta Auto Care, John at Speedfreak Detailing, Alex from Autocouture, Rotora brakes and Johnny, Julian and David at BMW
“The car feels and sounds amazing along with the F1 exhaust”
“I’ve had lots of wheels for this car and lately I’ve been aiming for Japanese wheels…”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationIRISH CHARM
Exceedingly clean and exceptionally well-modified, this supercharged BMW 325Ci E46 on BBS LMs is doing it right. Modifying is one thing, but bringing a car to a better than factory standard is something else; Darren Fennelly’s supercharged E46 proves beauty is more than skin deep. Words: Ben Koflach // Photos: Drive-My.
This Irish E46 started life as a standard silver 323Ci but in less than a year owner Darren Fennelly transformed it into one of the most extensively workedover E46s out there.
This wasn’t a cheque book build either. Oh no, much of the work was done by Darren and his close friends. “The build took nine months and nearly killed me and my friends,” Darren explains. “It’s one of the biggest things I have done in my life, but definitely one of the best and most enjoyable, even with all the late nights and hardships along the way.”
So where do we begin? Well, first things first, it’s clearly no longer silver. The 323’s change to its glorious white hue wasn’t a quick and easy one, either. Darren wanted a really thorough spray over and so the 2.5- litre M52TU, along with its five-cog gearbox, was hauled out of the engine bay, thus giving the painter an easier job when it came to making sure the paint coverage was as complete as possible.
The engine wasn’t simply put to one side, mind you. Darren had been speaking with Simpson Motorsport in England about getting more ponies out of it. “Simpson put me in touch with European Supercharger Systems (ESS) in Norway, from whom I bought the supercharger brand-new,” he says. “A genius friend of mine and myself installed it in around five hours without any real problems.”
It’s an impressive bit of kit that uses a twin-screw compressor rather than the more traditionally used centrifugal configuration. Twin-screw superchargers have been used by American hot rods and drag racers for decades and this method really suits Darren’s E46 as it provides more low down torque; peak boost is delivered from around 2200rpm – perfect for his daily driver.
Using a custom ESS-spec Lysholm 1.6-litre blower and an aluminium-alloy intake manifold, the ESS Stage 1 kit provides some healthy power figures. Larger Bosch injectors, CNC mounting brackets, additional idler pulleys and a heavy-duty drive belt all come as part of the kit, too, and it all works together to provide 7psi of boost along with quick throttle response.
Although the ESS system is designed to fit with the factory air box, Darren has swapped that out for a Powertec cone filter and once the engine was back in the car, also fitted a manifold-back Supersprint exhaust system. “ESS claimed the supercharger would add another 110bhp and after mapping at Simpson Motorsport it put down 276bhp,” Darren reveals. “It is fast, not M3 fast, but not a million miles off either. The acceleration is very clean and it pulls real nice with the supercharger. And there’s a nice little whistle too, just enough so that you know it’s got a little something extra hidden away!”
Before the engine was put back in, mind you, Darren cleaned it right up, and did the same with the gearbox, while also renewing the oil filter, rocker cover gasket, spark plugs, belt tensioner and sub-engine protection unit, as well as the clutch.
Various components, from the washer bottle top to the ECU cover were then painted gloss black, and that’s before we even get to the carbon fibre that’s been added. Darren really has been thorough and the result is a truly stunning-looking engine bay.
Coming back to the body, you’ll probably have spotted that the colour isn’t the only thing that changed. Darren also purchased a #Reiger M3-style front bumper and side skirts, as well as an M Tech rear bumper which he modified to sit level with the Reiger bits – a subtle touch that makes a world of difference. A CSL-style addition to the bootlid looks spot-on, as do the partsmoked LED rear tail-lights and smoked indicators all-round. More carbon fibre additions come in the form of a rear diffuser and kidney grilles, while a similar level of attention to detail has gone in to the exterior as the engine.
Every clip, bracket, mount or fastener has been replaced with items from the dealer, as have many other items of trim, including the under arch liners and also the brake lines. The underside was also extensively cleaned and repainted. “We started off with a simple plan but got carried away!” laughs Darren.
You name it, it’s been either replaced, renewed or repainted. The entire rear subframe was dropped out of the car, for example, enabling it and the area from which it was removed to be lovingly rubbed down and repainted. All the bushes were replaced, including the four subframe bushes, and Turner Motorsport limiters were fitted to the rear trailing arm bush carriers. The springs and shocks were binned in favour of #KW Variant 2 coilovers, offering Darren the adjustability he was after without being a harsh full-on race setup.
With the extra power under the bonnet, you won’t be surprised to hear that the brakes have seen quite a substantial upgrade. Up front, 330mm grooved discs are clamped by AP Racing four-pot calipers, while the standard rear discs have been renewed and are accompanied by M3 calipers, which have had new pads fitted and been painted red to match the APs. Feeding these with the necessary fluid they need to operate is a set of braided hoses. The rolling stock is one of those additions that just seem to make this car, and rightly so. Many E46s sport replica BBS LMs, and in some ways we can understand why – they look good and go well with the E46 shape.
However, any kind of replica wheel just wasn’t going to cut it for Darren’s project, and he managed to source a set of genuine staggered 19” LMs. Darren wanted them to be absolutely perfect, so they were sent to Nu-Luk Wheels in Carrickfergus. Every single nut and bolt was removed, with the dishes, barrels and faces coming apart for attention. The dishes were stripped of the lacquer they’d previously worn by a machine lathe, following which they were polished to an extremely high standard. The centres were then taken right back before being powdercoated gold, lacquered and built back up.
Measuring 8.5” wide up front and a chunky 10” out back, the wheels not only look the business but mean that Darren is able to get a much bigger rubber footprint down for more grip at both ends. To that end, he’s fitted grippy 235/35 front and 265/30 rear Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres, which look absolutely perfect.
Our final stop on our tour of Darren’s E46 is the interior – and what an interior it is. Much like the rest of the project, Darren’s approach is far from shy. The whole lot was essentially gutted, making things a little easier for the retrimmers, who were tasked with covering the lot in sumptuous red Nappa leather – not before Darren had added an OEM black carpet in place of the original grey one, mind you. The parcel shelf was also given a covering of black alcantara, while much of the plastic trim was replaced with black parts from the OEM catalogue, or repainted black. OEM mats and a selection of M goodies almost complete the spec, and it’s worth noting that Darren also renewed every single nut, bolt, washer, clip and bracket in the process. The cherry on the top of the awesome interior is the dash, which has been flocked for a motorsport feel and has benefited from a trio of gauges monitoring the boost, oil pressure and voltage. The factory dials have also been changed to white to match this trio, which is a neat touch.
Truly unrecognisable as an early E46, Darren’s 323Ci is a real stunner. So thorough is his reworking that his Three looks and feels like something that’s just left the factory. Attention to detail like this is not seen often – no stone has been left unturned, and we’d happily go as far as saying it’s one of the best E46s in Ireland – or at least from what we’ve seen. Considering the enormous makeover the car’s had, to do it all in just nine months is amazing and just goes to show that you can do whatever you like with a bit of help from your friends.
DATA FILE #BMW-323Ci-E46 / #BMW-323Ci / #BMW-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-323Ci-Supercharged-E46 / #BMW-323Ci-Supercharged / #M52/ #BMW-M52 / #M52-Supercharged / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #ESS / #BMW-325Ci / #BMW-325Ci-E46 / #BBS-LM / #BBS /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.5-litre straight-six #M52TUB25 , #ESS-TS1 supercharger kit including inlet manifold and larger injectors, #Powertec air filter with custom heat shield and air intake hose, #Supersprint manifold-back exhaust system, ECU remap by #Simpson-Motorsport , carbon fibre rocker cover and fuel rail cover, custom ESS decal for rocker cover, chrome oil filler cap, new OEM: fuel filter, oil filter, rocker cover gasket, spark plugs, belt tensioner, sub-engine protection unit. Black painted: front air intake unit, ECU cover, expansion tank cover, battery unit box and more. Standard five-speed manual gearbox, ST1 short shifter, new OEM: clutch, flex disc, gearbox mounts.
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) #BBS LMs fully rebuilt with powdercoated gold centres and polished dishes, shod in 235/35 and 265/30 Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres respectively. #KW-Variant-2 coilovers, new OEM: wishbones, bushes, track rod ends and all nuts, bolts and washers. #Turner-Motorsport RTAB limiter kit fitted, all components cleaned and repainted including underside of shell, new jacking rubbers. #AP-Racing front brake kit using four-pot calipers and 330mm grooved discs, new OEM rear discs and M3 calipers painted red, new brake lines with braided flexi-hoses, new OEM handbrake shoes, Ferodo brake fluid.
EXTERIOR: Full respray in white with a black roof, #Reiger M3-style front bumper and side skirts, Reiger front splitter, CSL-style rear spoiler, customised M Sport rear bumper, carbon fibre kidney grilles, carbon fibre diffuser, carbon fibre badges, smoked front and side indicators, LED rear light units with smoked indicators and reverse lights, new OEM foglights and surrounding M-tech mouldings, new OEM arch liners, new OEM brackets and clips throughout, new factory stickers throughout.
INTERIOR: Full retrim in red Nappa leather, parcel shelf retrimmed in black alcantara, full black OEM carpet, most of remaining trim replaced with new black components or new grey components sprayed black, ST1 footrest and pedals, new OEM door and boot rubbers, M Sport gear knob and handbrake handle, new OEM floor mats, flocked dashboard, custom gauge pod (also flocked) holding Stuart Warner 52mm boost, oil pressure and volt gauges, white Lockwood dials, new OEM speakers all-roundStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationHIDDEN TALENT
This unassuming E34 hides a supercharged secret… What might appear to be nothing more than a rather smart-looking BMW E34 540i is actually packing 430hp beneath its unassuming exterior, courtesy of an #ESS-supercharger kit. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Andy Tipping.
When I was 15, my mum asked me to choose a car for her from our local used car dealer. He had four cars for sale and the only two worth looking at were a Mk2 Golf GTI 16v and an E36 325i. I was sold on the BMW as soon as the salesman started it up,” recalls 25-yearold Fred with a big grin across his face. The car was eventually passed down to his brother and in the four years that it was in the Marsh-Allen household, Fred formed fond memories of it. In fact, it was the car that ignited his love affair with BMW and when it came to his first car he didn’t consider any other marque.
His first choice of weapon was a 318ti – an immaculate, one-owner example – but, as a professional drummer, he needed something bigger and faster and it was not long before he started thinking about his next acquisition. To help fund the purchase, Fred got a job with a local car insurance company and with the added advantage of a discounted policy he was able to step up to an E39 540i. “I really liked that car and it sparked my love affair with V8s,” explains Fred. “The surprise on the faces of young lads in their Vauxhall Corsas as I tanked it past them with the back crammed full of drums was absolutely priceless.”
Sadly, a failed cooling system left him totally bereft of any spare cash and he eventually got rid of it. He then seemingly worked his way through the entire #BMW line-up of models, including an E28 525e, an E31 840Ci, an E34 525i, various E39 Tourings, an Alpina B10 3.5, a couple of E36 328s, an E46 330i, and an Alpina B3 3.3.
It was around this time that Fred got the bug for modifying. He kick-started his newfound addiction with the E28, which received a full respray in the car’s original Alpine white hue, H&R lowering springs and a set of BBS Style 5 RC090s. “It looked mental and was the perfect retro daily. I then had the insane idea of converting the E34 525i that I had bought (for the bargain sum of £400) into a 540i,” Fred explains.
Many of us have at least one friend in our life that likes to play the little devil on our shoulder and for Fred it’s a certain buddy named Kevin. Kevin suggested that the engine swap wouldn’t be that difficult, offering the use of his axle stands and a hammer to boot! Kevin’s comment changed the direction of Fred’s project and he started the search for a donor engine.
He soon found someone who was willing to sell him a 540i Touring for £700. The previous owner was a keen angler and the car was his main means of transportation. This meant it carried all of the related paraphernalia, towed his boat, and was even used to launch the boat into the water.
Because of this the underside and bodywork of the Touring was rotten. That did not matter, however, as the engine had only covered 130k and was in great working order. Fred and Kevin set about swapping over the engine and transmission during the summer of 2012. Fred gained invaluable knowledge and skills from the experience, which he was able to put to extremely good use when it came to the car you see pictured here, which leads us nicely onto the topic.
While carrying out the conversion, Fred bought an LSD which he never got round to fitting and he ended up selling it to a bloke who wanted one for his E34. “When Dave turned up we got on really well and have remained friends since,” says Fred. “I fell in love with his E34 540i at first sight and vowed that one day I would get him to sell it to me. I badgered him for over a year until one day in late 2014 he finally relented as he needed the funds to buy a 2002.”
Dave sold it to him for £4000 on the condition that Fred would supercharge it. This was something Dave himself had wanted to do but never got round to doing! The car was very clean, and Dave, along with other previous owners, including one who worked for a Bentley and Rolls-Royce specialist, had carried out a few modifications. As such, the cabin is a very luxurious place with mats, doorcards and various bits of interior trim made up from Bentley materials, along with a set of custom clocks to match. It had also benefitted from a UUC short-shift kit, AC Schnitzer pedals, M5 3.8 brakes and BC Racing coilovers – which Fred has since adjusted, raising the rear ride height by 10mm to clear the wider tyres and increasing the stiffness.
When it came to exterior styling, Fred wanted a smooth and understated style so he removed all of the window tints and the M5 spoiler (but kept the E36 M3 mirrors that had been previously fitted). The car was then resprayed in the original Oxford green. Simple but effective; the E34 has such strong lines and this particular model is so rare it does not necessitate much else. “Unfortunately where so much silicone was used to attach the spoiler it reacted with the new paint, so I had to source a new bootlid for it,” Fred tells us. The finishing exterior touch is a set of staggered Rondell 0058 wheels.
Next up was the main job: installing the supercharger kit. This was not without its problems. Unfortunately, the induction pipework did not fit, which meant the air con had to be deleted in order to route it under the ’charger instead. Following the photoshoot, this setup was reconstructed from aluminium due to the original supplied pipework collapsing at high revs. “It was very frustrating when I think it wouldn’t have been any more hassle to have turbocharged the car,” says Fred.
In addition, Fred decided to bin the original ECU and ESS chip and fit an Emerald K6 ECU, map sensor, and a bypass valve. With three different engine maps – all selectable from a switch hidden in the driver’s cubby hole – he can chose whether he wants to opt for a TVR-esque ‘pop and bang’ map or be a little more sensible and dial-in power or economy. Of course, the best part of the conversion, which provides this E34 with 430hp, is seeing off new hot hatches. It’s the last thing people come to expect from a 20-year-old saloon!
So, what is next for Fred? Well, other than a sound system (given the current setup only does justice to Radio 4), Fred is planning simply to enjoy the car this season. After all his hard work, he deserves it.
DATA FILE #Supercharged-BMW-E34 / #BMW-540i / #BMW-540i-E34 / #BMW-540i-ESS-supercharger-kit / #BMW-540i-ESS-supercharger-kit-E34 / #1994 / #1995 / #BMW-E34
ENGINE 4.0-litre V8 M60B40 / BMW-M60 / M60 , #ESS-supercharger-kit / #ESS-Supercharger / #ESS / #M60-ESS-supercharger-kit , #Emerald-K6-ECU / #Emerald-ECU and map sensor, bypass valve, custom exhaust system, six-speed manual transmission with UUC short-shift kit.
CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #Rondell 0058 wheels with 235/45 (front) and 275/40 (rear) tyres, M5 3.8 brakes all-round, #BC-Racing coilovers.
EXTERIOR E36 M3 mirrors, full respray in Oxford green.
INTERIOR Bentley mats, doorcards and trim, custom clocks, AC Schnitzer pedals.
THANKS Kev, Rob and Donnie, Dave Moore for selling me the car, Hans at ESS, John at Emerald M3D LTD for mapping and RPM Littleport for transportation and ECU fitting, Richi’s Cars Kings Lynn for the bodywork.
I fell in love with his E34 540i on first sight and vowed that one day I would get him to sell it to me.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFIRE AND ICE #2015
Not only has this owner bought himself two special edition E92 M3s that we never got in the UK, he’s then supercharged them and made them look absolutely awesome. Jealous. These E92 M3 evil twins show how even special editions can benefit from a good dose of modifying. Words: Iain Curry /// Photos: Matt Petrie
Is there anything more irritating than people with vast sums of disposable income and have no clue what to do with it? You know, the multi-millionaire lottery winner who continues living in a mouldy council flat and doing factory night shifts, or the CEO that’s in it only for the ‘challenge’ of business and still wears awful clothes and drives around in a battered old Ford despite untold wealth?
Then there’s the other extreme. The guy who spends his hard-earned in such a manner that we car enthusiasts can only nod our head, shake his hand and – somewhat enviously of course – agree we’d be doing exactly the same in their shoes. Who really needs two E92 M3s? Well, given the financial means wouldn’t you?
This brace of modified M3s belong to New Jersey’s Bill Jordan, business owner of Miraj Corporation which manufacturers and distributes aircraft replacement parts. And it seems business is good for the 47-year-old American car enthusiast. Beside the M3s in his current line-up is an Alpina B6, a Porsche 911 GT3, a Ferrari F430 Spyder, a Maserati GranCabrio, a bonkers Mercedes G63 AMG and a Mercedes CLA45 AMG, most receiving a decent dash of modifying too.
The man clearly has a passion for European exotica, and has good history with BMWs too, with an E39 540i, E38 740iL and E65 745Li in his previous inventory. But the lure of special edition M3s has stoked his fire in recent years, with the orange car a 2013 USA-only model called the Lime Rock Park Edition, and the black one a 2011 USAonly special called the Frozen Black Edition. The Lime Rock car is one of 200 built and finished in the Euro-only M3 GTS Fire orange paint, and came with the Competition Package, an Alcantara flat bottom steering wheel, a carbon leather dash, carbon body flashes and a lightweight titanium exhaust. The Frozen Black is an even scarcer one of just 20 built and came with matt black paint, Competition package, red stitching for the cabin, red brake calipers and 19” Gloss black competition wheels.
Both are special cars, but clearly not special enough for Bill. Each M3 has been treated to an extensive makeover to meet his preferences; including replacing some of the factory special components that already made these cars stand out from the rest. The results, as you can see, are two M3s with levels or extrovertness and hardcore racing style to have you drooling.
“I am a big fan of the S65 V8 engine – one of the best ever made by BMW and with that beautiful sound,” Bill said. “When I saw the Fire orange Lime Rock Park Edition I fell in love with the colour and possibilities to really take it to the extreme with all of the products available like superchargers, body kits and suspension, but still keep it a daily driver. I found the Frozen Black Edition by happy accident one night online. It only had 300 miles on it, and although I wasn’t planning on buying a second E92 M3, when I went to see it I fell in love and bought it that day. It looked menacing and had really nice red accents that I picked up for the customisation project.”
Bill’s motivation for modifying is typical, namely taking factory cars and adding his personal touches so they are unique. He said everything done on the special M3s is reversible: “We respect the factory setup but try to improve on things in terms of performance, sound and cosmetics. There’s also an enjoyment in building up these cars in such a way that they can compete with so-called supercars costing three to four times the price.”
Build work has been done by AutoCouture Motoring of Fairlawn close to Bill’s New Jersey home; a BMW specialist he says is regarded as one of the leading performance and custom shops in the USA. “The staff are real enthusiasts, and I make a point to stop by there on my way home from work to catch up on new builds, product trends and hang out with a great bunch of guys,” he said. Some custom parts are provided by AutoCouture, and the rest from another well-followed BMW specialist, Ind. Distribution.
Two tougher looking, beautifully stanced E92 M3s would be hard to find. And there’s the upping in performance to back the looks. Both cars have been given ESS superchargers, the main benefit of which is a significant boost to low end torque, as this is Bill’s only complaint of the S65 factory motor. “With the kits, rear-wheel horsepower is now 550hp and torque at 350lb ft, so essentially they have the power to run with the current generation stock M3/M4 turbo cars.”
Anyone who’s driven the F80/F82 cars knows they’re incredible weapons, but the turbo six-cylinders just don’t have the emotive roar of the previous generation V8s. So Bill’s passion for the model is perfectly understandable.
The style begins on the ’charged motors too. The manifolds are Melbourne red with silver metallic flake on the black car and Fire orange on the other, showing a theme that runs through both cars. Both feature BMW Performance seats (sourced through Europe as none were shipped to America), which Bill said are perfect for customising. True to his word, each car’s chairs have been painted the relevant hue, and the rest of the cabin follows suit.
The orange car has orange accents for everything from the stitching in the door panels to the centre console and even all the seatbelts. The black car does almost the same but with the Melbourne red colour, while both cars now have gorgeous Nexon Motors carbon fibre steering wheels.
Body-wise things get even crazier. The Lime Rock car is a stunning mix of Manhart Racing carbon body kit, a Vorsteiner GTS-V front bumper with carbon lip, DownForce USA three-piece carbon rear diffuser and BC carbon GTS wing just for starters, with tough-as-nails black and orange contrasting throughout. Mixing the styles up, the black car comes with RKP GT4 carbon front lip, #BMW Performance carbon boot spoiler, Varis Racing rear diffuser and Gintani carbon side skirts. Most of the body additions are finished in a satin/matt clear and with a Melbourne red detail where possible. The results are breathtaking: there’s little wonder that Bill and his cars are online superstars.
Now the all-important chassis. Both feature giant Brembo brake kits, hidden behind 19” BBS RI-D five-spoke rims for the orange car, and 20” Morr wheels for the black M3. The Lime Rock car is Bill’s choice for any track excursions, so it now has Öhlins Road & Track coilover suspension – Bill saying they are versatile enough to still give daily drive comfort. The Frozen Black M3, being one of 20, is just too special to risk on track, especially with that matt black paint. It now has very trick #Bilstein-B16-DampTronic electronic adjustable active suspension, allowing the driver to change settings on the fly.
This pair of brutally handsome M3s are both stunning builds. We can’t kid ourselves that it can be done cheaply of course. Both M3s are costly special editions for starters, and the custom parts and incredible attention to detail aren’t for those with shallow pockets. We can hugely respect Bill’s method of spending his money, however, as he has created aspirational halo M3s justifiably envied and loved wherever they’re seen.
Work is “pretty much” finished on these two E92 M3s, Bill said, but as you’d have guessed, there’s something else in the pipeline. A Laguna Seca blue F82 M4 is getting the full treatment at present, despite Bill’s early reservations about the turbo six’s exhaust note. We’re sure he’ll find away around this, and can’t wait to see and hear the final results.
“We respect the factory setup but try to improve on things in terms of performance, sound and cosmetics”
“When I saw the Fire orange Lime Rock Park Edition I fell in love with the colour”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-M3-E92-Lime-Rock-Park-Edition
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre V8 #S65B40 / #S65 , #ESS VT2-625 supercharger with custom painted #Fire orange manifold, #Evolve Automotive E-Tronic valved exhaust with #AutoCouture Motoring test pipes, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox
CHASSIS 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) #BBS RI-D five-spoke wheels in matt black with 245/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) #Falken Azenis 453 tyres, #Öhlins Road & Track coilover suspension, #Dinan carbon fibre strut braces, #Brembo-GT Big Brake Kit with 380mm discs and six-piston calipers (front) and 355mm four-pistons (rear) custom finished in Fire orange
EXTERIOR Manhart Racing carbon fibre body kit including full carbon bonnet with Fire orange paint scheme and exposed carbon, carbon side skirts and fender flares, Vorsteiner GTS-V front bumper with carbon fibre lip and inserts, carbon fibre grille surrounds and side markers, OEM carbon fibre mirror covers, DownForce USA three-piece carbon rear diffuser, BC carbon fibre GTS wing and BMW painted bootlid spoiler, Fire orange body paint
INTERIOR BMW Performance Alcantara front seats custom finished with Fire orange Alcantara and painted accents, Nexon Motors carbon fibre steering wheel with Fire orange trim and custom DCT paddles, Pedal Haus custom pedals and heel plate, custom Alcantara door panels with orange diamond stitching, carbon fibre dash and door trim with Fire orange accents, Fire orange upper front/rear door trim, painted centre and rear consoles, front and rear seatbelts and rear seat inserts, orange illuminated door sills.
THANKS AutoCouture Motoring of Fairlawn NJ (for the build) and Ind. Distribution (for parts support)
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-M3-92-Frozen-Black-Edition / #BMW-M3-92 / / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-E92
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre V8 #S65B40 , #ESS VT2-625 supercharger kit featuring custom Melbourne red with silver metallic flake manifold, #Innotech IPE F1 valved race exhaust, #ACM-R upgraded coolant pump and lines, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.
CHASSIS 9x20” (front) and 10.5x20” (rear) Morr VS54 monoforged wheels finished in a brushed dark tinted matt clear with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) #Hankook Ventus V12 tyres, #Bilstein #Bilstein-B16 #DampTronic electronic adjustable active suspension, #Brembo GT big brake kit with 380mm discs and sixpiston calipers (front) and 355mm four-pistons (rear) custom finished in Melbourne red with silver metallic flake and black chrome decals
EXTERIOR #RKP GT4 carbon fibre front lip finished with satin/matt clear and #Melbourne red CRT stripe, BMW Performance carbon fibre boot spoiler with satin/matt clear and Melbourne red #CRT stripe, #Varis-Racing upper/lower rear diffuser in satin/matt clear, #Gintani carbon fibre side skirts in satin/matt clear, #LightWerkz custom headlights with Melbourne red film, matt black paint with metallic flakes
INTERIOR #BMW-Performance seats with red stitching and Melbourne red painted seat backs, red front and rear seatbelts, carbon leather dash trim with red stitching, Melbourne red upper door trim front and rear, Nexon Motors carbon fibre steering wheel with Melbourne red accents and custom DCT paddle shifters
THANKS AutoCouture Motoring of Fairlawn NJ (for the build) and Ind. Distribution (for parts support)
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- Post is under moderationBODY BUILDING #2015
Another month, another mental M4 and this time around it’s the turn of Vorsteiner’s insane creation to take centre stage. Vorsteiner knows how to build a neck-snapping show car, as its audacious M4 so ably demonstrates. Words: Tony Saggu /// Photos: Andy Tipping
On any given afternoon, depending on your perspective, the drive down to Los Angeles from the suburbs is either mind-numbingly monotonous motoring purgatory interspersed with flashes of near death near misses or a positively delightful adventure filled with sights and sounds to thrill and captivate car connoisseurs of all persuasions. LA flaunts her title as the car capital of the world, offering up an eclectic display of automotive machinery pulled straight from the daydreams and wish lists of car enthusiasts the world over. A sea of raging bulls and prancing horses jockey for attention with all manner of Stuttgart studs, flying spurs, Tri- Stars and Roundels. Even freeway gridlock can become spectacular static car show, if you see your glass as half full.
The down side is that owning an exotic supercar or thoroughbred sports sedan in the City of Angels soon loses its cachet. Exclusivity quickly evaporates in the California summer sunshine. Familiarity has bred a contemptuous disinterest among the great unwashed, they’ve seen these cookies cut the same way far too many times before.
You need to drive something a little out of the ordinary to catch the eye of the locals, and it’ll need to be pretty special to hold their interest. That’s where the talented team at Vorsteiner come in. With over a decade in the business of serving up speed and style from their Southern California auto dream factory, the Orange County customizing collective knows what it takes to drop jaws and blow socks clean off. The firm has carved out a pretty enviable reputation for designing and producing all manner of hardware for a select few vehicles, the kind of cars normally owned by chaps who don’t fly economy class and wear watches that cost a touch more than a modest flat in Bayswater. Fortunately the company has a particular soft spot for BMWs. Rethinking and redesigning Beemer bodywork is its core business in fact and history has shown it’s pretty damn good at it.
As well as the skirts and spoilers many other tuners turn out, Vorsteiner has made a name for itself building fat fenders and wide arches. In fact, some of the most aggressively beautiful full-figured hardware to carry a Roundel on the boot in recent times also carries the now familiar V sign, too. Following up on the success of the M3, when BMW M GmbH announced in late 2013 that it would be offering a new F82 M4 model, Vorsteiner immediately put its name on the list to acquire one of the first few coupés destined for US shores. The designers’ brief was to create a finished product that gave a nod to the car’s M Power racing heritage. Giving it all the presence and character of a classic track terror while accentuating the car’s natural body lines, this was not going to be an exercise in strapping on a quartet of box arches on a showroom model. Complete functionality was another stated aim. Vorsteiner doesn’t pretend the conversion is a performance-maximising allout speed venture; it does, however, maintain that the makeover, despite its uniquely aggressive styling and glorious girth, retains the functionality and drivability of the base car.
Perhaps equally as remarkable as the car’s extraordinary appearance is the fact that the colossal conversion, from stock to stunning, took a scant three weeks to complete! BMW delivered the car to the firm in mid-October, 2014; Vorsteiner’s extensive makeover was designed, produced, fitted, painted and finished for its debut at SEMA in early November. Job one on the new GTRS4 conversion was to brainstorm ideas among the design team and distil the various thoughts into one final vision; this could then be sketched and put on paper. Ten years in the creative customising game has ensured that the firm now has all the latest toys inhouse: Blue Light Laser Technology was employed to scan every inch of the new M car, CAD and CNC magic then effectively transformed the sketched rendering into actual prototype body panels that could be fitted to the M. Vorsteiner insisted that a great deal of redevelopment and redesigning of the kit occurred along the way; extensive lifesized clay modelling by the design team added a hands-on human dimension to form the panels to perfection. All the new panels are, in keeping with BMW’s own vision for the M4, constructed of lightweight carbon composite materials. Adding seven inches to the width of the rear of the car could have gone very wrong very quickly; we’ve seen far too many myopically modified motors with acres of fibreglass riveted to the sides claiming to be cool. While the wide-body treatment doesn’t tickle everyone’s fancy, we reckon the team has walked the line between elegant and insane pretty damn well. The rear archwork flows into a widened and redesigned rear bumper which carries an integrated diffuser, separation of colour and texture along with the addition of a quartet of polished pipes.
The front fenders by comparison received a mere two inches of extra girth each. Those vents and scoops are not just for looks; the size, shape and placement of the openings have been carefully calculated to provide optimal cooling for the brakes and smooth airflow through the panels and past the car. A deep splitter comes integrated into the redesigned front bumper with plenty of extra ventilation supplied by extra grillwork. The finishing touch to the wide-body treatment was to refinish the shell in a few coats of the original BMW Austin yellow, a colour which Vorsteiner insist was no afterthought; attention-grabbing was the name of the game and black, white or silver just wasn’t going to get the job done. With daily drivability in mind and about a foot of rubber to hide seamlessly under the arches at each corner, some sophisticated suspension was called for. Bags and switches were the natural choice and the guys at nearby Boden Autohaus in Costa Mesa made it happen. The air affair is based around an Accuair E-Level system with a few custom touches. A brace of Viair compressors feed a five-gallon tank which distributes air through quarter-inch lines to custom bags at each corner. Bilstein struts handle damping duties.
Full continuous control of ride height and driving characteristics ensures even spirited driving doesn’t introduce carbon to rubber or oilpan to pavement. The M4 is no shrinking violet in the horsepower stakes straight-outof- the-box but if you’re going to dress up a project car in street fighting attire, a little increase in pony power would seem to be a good idea. Vorsteiner has kept things fairly restrained with an ESS E-tronic remap, a multi-channel controller integrates RPM and MAF providing seamless and continuous control over boost and fuel across the rev range. The upshot of all the clever electronics and laptop engineering is a healthy 550 horsepower to spin those 13.5” rear rollers. Despite the model only being weeks on the market Innotech Performance Exhaust (IPE) reportedly already had an M4 cat-back system on its shelf. With hours to spare before the car was to be loaded aboard for its trip to the country’s biggest aftermarket extravaganza, the boys at GT Auto Concepts bolted up the tubular finery. For ‘Angelinos’, Americans in general and Beemerphiles across the world, Vorsteiner’s work delivers extravagance with sophistication and exclusivity with taste… a rare mix.
DATA FILE #BMW-M4-F82-GTRS4-Vorsteiner / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-F82 / #BMW
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0 litre twin-turbo straight-six #S55B30 / #S55 , #ESS E-Tronic, #Innotech Performance Exhaust (IPE) cat-back exhaust, #Vorsteiner 90mm quad exhaust tip finishers (options: brushed/diamond black), 7-speed #M-DCT gearbox
CHASSIS 10.5x20” (front) and 13.5x20” (rear) #Vorsteiner-GTRS4 forged three-piece wheels in Gloss Brushed Shadow finish with 275/30 (front) and 345/25 (rear) tyres, #Accuair E-Level airbag system, #Bilstein dampers, #Viair compressors
EXTERIOR Full GTRS4 carbon composite wide-body, carbon fibre front bumper with an integrated front splitter element, carbon fibre wide front arches with ventilation (two inches wider each side), carbon fibre aero side blade elements, carbon fibre wide rear arches (3.5 inches wider each side), carbon fibre rear bumper with integrated rear diffuser element
INTERIOR Vorsteiner embroidered coloured floor and trunk mat set, Vorsteiner chrome trunk badging
THANKS Accuair, Boden Autohaus, Innotech Performance Exhaust (IPE), GT Auto Concepts. www.vorsteiner.com
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