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    Evolution Not Revolution Gorgeous US E30 M3. There’s a purity to the E30 M3 that’s ensured a strong and devoted following over the years. But that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to tweak and refine them… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Jordan Unternaher.

    High-end resto-modding is big business these days. We see it in all corners of the automotive world – Eagle will sell you a Jaguar E-Type, if your pockets are sufficiently deep, with better-than-new bodywork, classic looks, and thoroughly modern power, suspension and brakes. Singer will do the same for a Porsche 911, Icon offer a new-old Ford Bronco, it’s everywhere. Jensen Interceptors, Peugeot 205 GTIs, you name it.

    The E30 we see here, however, is a slightly different interpretation of the timeworn resto-mod ethos. It hasn’t been stripped down to its component nuts and bolts in a hermetically sealed lab then rebuilt as a sort of retro-modern pastiche of its former self.

    No, its owner, James Dallas of Ohio, has instead chosen to optimise and contemporise his iconic three-box 3 Series by following two distinct paths: firstly, to cherry pick the finest parts from the evolutionary E30 timeline, and secondly to bring all of that glorious power and tactility screaming into the 21st century. This, then, is an M3 re-imagined – a fulfilment of a cerebral vision, spirited into reality via the medium of methodical and careful planning. Like a chef who’s ever so precise about the measurements of their ingredients, this is proper less-is-more stuff.

    An interesting approach, really, given how more-is-more the E30 M3 was in spirit in the first place. What’s key to remember is that time has mellowed the lines of this box-arched whippet; it’s no longer a hooligan bruiser, but a bona fide collectors’ item honed for B-road blasts and spirited forays into licence-losing velocity.

    “I’ve been into BMWs forever, really,” says James. “I owe it all to my uncle Dennis for properly getting the obsession going - they are such amazing vehicles, and the drivability of the E30 is unprecedented; a true driver’s car. The first BMW I bought was actually a 1998 M3 sedan,” he continues. “It offers the best bang for your buck, hands down! Simple as that.” This practical everyday-superhero still sits on the Dallas driveway, but it’s the older upstart that’s drawing all the attention today. James had dabbled in modifying the newer car with uprated suspension, Dinan parts and basic bolt-ons, but the acquisition of this poster-boy of homologation allowed the scales to fall from his eyes as he began to view BMW ownership in a fresh light. Well, not so much ownership, not any more – call it curatorship.

    “It’s the true benchmark of the M3 family,” he enthuses, “the way it connects you to the road and really makes you drive the thing is something you just can’t experience in newer cars. It’s also the one car that I’ve genuinely always wanted to own - the body lines are something we’ll never see the like of again.” He’s right; it is impressive how the reworked E30 transformed the svelte everyday saloon into something pumped-up and muscular. It’s worth remembering just how many body panels were junked from the standard car by BMW M to create this near-mythical beast.

    “This M3 originally came from the East Coast – New Jersey, I think,” says James. “I actually purchased it from California – I’d say the condition was fair-to-good at that time. And yes, I definitely had a plan in mind for the car right from the start; I knew the exact wheels I wanted, the overall style…

    I’ve always enjoyed the look and excitement of the old DTM cars, so that was definitely a major influence and a huge inspiration.” First things first, though – these have always been function-over-form cars, it’s just a happy coincidence that they happen to look frickin’ awesome, so James’s first job was to ensure that the oily bits were all just so. That iconic S14 engine (employing just four cylinders, chosen because it was small and light, but more than happy to make mincemeat of contemporary six-pots) was lovingly torn to bits and fully refreshed: all-new OEM parts - the thermostat, belts, plug wires, and then came the addition of cams, head studs, and a Turner chip to imbue a fresh sense of urgency. Any S14 is a good S14, but one that’s operating as-new and then a little bit more is very much a thing to aspire to. Stay in school, kids – these things can be yours… “I didn’t really run into any problems, but it was a long and tedious process to say the least,” he recalls with a grimace. “There was a lot of sourcing BMW factory parts. A lot!”

    One area that will definitely stick in the craw of the purists is the suspension, as many will argue that there’s not a damn thing wrong with the stock setup. But in the spirit of resto-modding, James was keen to make sure that the handling matched the power in a thoroughly modern sense, and that’s the reason why you’ll find a set of high-end Ground Control coilovers nestling perkily beneath those lantern-jawed arches. “I felt it was the best overall choice for response and handling for the car,” he shrugs. And it’s his motor, so what he says goes.

    The styling is what’s really interesting here, as it eagerly feeds that whole overarching less-is-more ethos with a keen sense of the historic timeline of the E30 M3’s evolution. You see, the timeline in a nutshell (heavily edited, as we don’t have space to chew over the full history here) is that the model arrived in early 1986 in Europe – America had to wait another year – and it immediately embarked upon a programme of constant reinvention. The M3 Evolution arrived in 1987, rocking a revised cylinder head, and then 1988’s Evolution II knocked things up a notch with all sorts of engine upgrades – compression ratio, intake, management, all sorts. It also had thinner glass, a deeper front airdam, an additional rear lip spoiler and lighter bumpers.

    Befuddlingly, the Evo II is generally referred to as the M3 Evolution as BMW didn’t recognize the original M3 ‘Evo’ as sufficiently different to merit a different name.

    Confused? Try the subsequent Evolution III then, which was actually the Sport Evolution – this #1989 model had further extensive engine upgrades along with adjustable front and rear spoilers, lower suspension and wider wings…

    But let’s not get bogged down in history, or nitpicking, we don’t need to discuss the minutiae of the Tour de Corse, Europameister, Cecotto or Ravaglia editions here. Suffice it to say that James had read up on his history and carefully chosen the best bits from each of these evolutionary steps to turn his E30 into what he deemed to be perfect: the Evolution II front lip, the adjustable Sport Evo rear spoiler, the Evo air box, the Evo II steering wheel – subtle differences, probably only noticeable to true E30 nerds, but vital stuff nonetheless. It’s this dedication to geekery that really makes the build pop.

    “It was always going to have BBS RS wheels,” says James. “Truly, I feel they are the best period-correct wheel for this vehicle, and I think they look fantastic. It fits perfectly with the old-school DTM look I was going for. I didn’t want to change anything with the interior though, as the M3 has the Cardinal carpets, which are pretty rare, so I left it factory. Just freshened it up, cleaned and re-bolstered the front seats.”

    A few further modifications were carefully stirred into the mix over the course of the eighteen-month resto-mod exercise, in the form of a short-shifter and a tighter Z3 steering rack, and James’s favourite upgrade of them all is the diff: “I swapped in a 4.27 LSD, and I love it,” he smiles. “It gives you that immediate response as you come out of a turn or as soon as you hit the gas.”

    And that’s the point of an E30 M3, isn’t it? Immediate response, granular feedback, the synthesis of man and machine working harmoniously as one. Sure, this example might have concours judges turning up their stuffy noses, but they’re not the ones driving it. James’s modern reinterpretation of this iconic and dreamlike car is pretty much spot-on – less-is-more, and at the same time utterly outrageous.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BBS / #BMW-M3-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-M3

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.3-litre four-cylinder #S14B23 / #S14 / #BMW-S14 , #Eisenmann exhaust system with DTM tips, #Evolution air box, #Turner chip, #Schrick cams. Five-speed manual gearbox, 4.27 LSD

    CHASSIS 8x16” (front) and 8.5x16” (rear) #BBS-RS wheels with 255/40 (front and rear) BF Goodrich tyres, Ground Control coilovers, Ground Control camber plates, cross-drilled discs, Z3 steering rack

    EXTERIOR Salmon silver paint, Evo II front lip, Sport Evo rear spoiler

    INTERIOR Original Cardinal Red interior, Evo II steering wheel

    THANKS First and foremost, my uncle Dennis. Also, Cam Peugh, Ian Simon, Robert Santen, Chris Balich, and Brian from Mworks for helping refinish the RSs
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    Gorgeous E46 M3 / Slick E46 slammed, styled and tuned

    THE PEOPLE’S CHAMPION / Words: Elizabeth de Latour / Photos: Sunny Ryait

    With a perfect blend of styling and tuning mods, this E46 M3 really is the modified package that everyone can enjoy the people’s.

    Oh yes, this is what we’re talking about. As much as we love all the air ride, the big wings, the engine swaps, the turbos, superchargers and wild wide-body kits, sometimes you just want something a bit more down to earth, a bit more achievable, affordable, a people’s champion that we can all get behind and enjoy, and Richard Ansari’s E46 M3 is that car. It looks great, that’s going to be your first reaction, because it really does, but as with many seemingly simple builds, there’s a lot more going on here than you might first notice and Richard has really put a lot of love and hard work into his M3 over the past five years.

    The E46 M3 dream must have seemed almost unattainable back when Richard passed his test and got behind the wheel of a mighty 1989 Mazda 626. A BMW was going to happen though, there was no doubt about it, thanks to his dad’s decision to run a string of Bavaria’s finest when Richard was growing up, but what really sowed the seed deep down into his brain was the blue E30 325i his dad once owned. “I couldn’t get into BMs right away as soon as I passed my driving test as insurance was one roadblock as well as being a student in my younger years,” he laughs and it wasn’t until he turned 23 that he could finally make that dream a reality. “By pure chance my mate had decided to sell his E30 325i Cabriolet and gave me first dibs on it before advertising it. I knew the car and while it did have some very questionable mods, underneath it all was decent, having had a full respray, no rust, was structurally sound and had cream interior to complement the Zinnober red exterior. It was almost like reliving my childhood with those memories sat in my dad’s E30, but this time I was behind the wheel,” he grins.

    Over the next three years the E30 underwent a transformation that saw it ending up with a 2.7 conversion and receiving a feature in these very pages back in March 2007. The E30 was then followed by an E46 330Ci and that path could only lead in one, inevitable direction... “The E46 M3 was a dream car for me,” says Richard, “and when my mate bought one in late 2010 and let me drive it, I made a plan there and then to own one in 2011. I had originally wanted one in Techno violet but, being a very rare colour, it was mission near-impossible to find one, so I started to look at a few other colours as a second option,” he says. That led him to Pistonheads, where he stumbled across this Steel grey Coupé, with a manual gearbox and just 50,000 miles on the clock. Richard grabbed his friend Dips, from Custom Cars, headed over to take a look at the car and ended up buying it. “I wanted to keep this one fairly standard except for a couple of subtle mods, keeping away from doing any more big modifications,” he laughs, “unfortunately, though, once I fitted a set of CCFL angel eyes and black kidney grilles, it was a bit like opening Pandora’s box,” and so we begin…

    With the angel eyes and black grilles being joined by a pair of black wing vents, Richard decided to carry on with the styling mods, adding smoked Depo indicators and repeaters and tinting the outer rears to match with Lamin-X film, then sourcing and fitting a set of facelift smoked inner lights. At the rear there sits an AC Schnitzer-style carbon fibre diffuser, which fills out the bumper nicely, along with a genuine CSL bootlid, while up front, a Strassentech-style lip adds an air of menace to proceedings and is joined by a set of Hamann foglight covers, with smoked fogs. Richard says that his plan was to enhance the car’s looks without going crazy, and we have to say he’s most definitely achieved his goal. The styling additions he’s chosen give the M3 a more pumped-up appearance, accentuating its aggressive styling, but without going too far or overwhelming the looks. And, while his first choice of colour may have been Techno violet, we’ve got to say that Steel grey looks really good on the E46 M3.

    The suspension has been through a few changes during Richard’s time with the car. He started off small, with just some Apex lowering springs but it wasn’t long before he found himself wanting more adjustment and decided to take the plunge with some coilovers. His first set were from D2 but the car now runs BC Racing coilovers, which offer all the adjustability he could ever want and have allowed him to achieve the perfect ride height. “With the suspension sorted I was looking at big brake kits as the next big upgrade,” he tells us. “For the M3 there are a lot of options and routes you can go down and then, one day, an ad came up for a complete set of AP Racing brakes from Imran at Evolve Automotive. After a quick think, and after checking the piggybank, we did the deal and I picked them up. It did occur to me, not long after that, what would I do if my wheels didn’t have enough clearance, without having to resort to using big spacers, but figured I’d worry about it later. One way or another there was not going be any compromise, so I dropped the calipers over to Dips at Custom Cars to work his magic, turning them from red to orange.

    I really like the way they look behind the wheels but beyond that the stopping power is so consistent compared with the OEM setup. I mounted the front wheels to check for clearance and luckily to my surprise only a 5mm spacer was needed,” he says.

    As far as the wheels are concerned, Richard didn’t start off small and work his way up to something impressive, he went big right away, kicking things off with a set of AC Schnitzer Type 3 Racing splits, which are a great-looking classic wheel design. But that wasn’t enough for him, he wanted more… “I wanted something a bit special,” he says, “it had to be a three-piece wheel and my ideal choice was a set of Hartge Design C splits, but not only are they rare they also command a huge premium. I wanted something that you don’t see everyday and it had to have friendly offsets, with the aim of building a set of wheels wide enough, without needing any major work to fit straight on and not needing any camber.

    After missing out on a set of Oz Futuras, I found some Oz Mitos on German eBay just before whisking my partner off to Marrakech for her birthday; I had an idea of what they looked like on a normal E46 but couldn’t find a set fitted to an M3 anywhere, so I knew this was my opportunity to run something fairly unique. Midway through the holiday, while she was getting ready in our hotel room, I placed a bid just before the auction finished and won,” he grins. Best. Holiday. Ever.

    “They were 18s with the right offsets and being the Type 1 version, which are reverse mounted, are pretty rare in a BMW fitment. As soon as they arrived I went down to Dips for a test fit and we worked out what lip sizes to run front and rear. Originally they came as 8.5x18s and 9.5x18s and I really wanted to run an 11” wide wheel at the back, so Dips started the strip down of the wheels for a full refurb. He ordered 3.75” lips for the rear and moved the 2” lips to the front making the new setup 9x18” and 11.25x18”.

    We knew an arch roll was needed, so Dips got that sorted and, with fresh Continental tyres fitted, we mounted the wheels. Seeing them built up and fitted on the car I knew I had made the right choice,” he grins. “They just completely changed the way the car looks, but not only that, the fitment is perfect too, with no rubbing or any negative camber required to aid with clearance.”

    With the car looking on point as far as styling was concerned, Richard popped his bonnet and took a good, long, hard look at the engine bay. “At first I had no real plans on doing any engine mods,” he admits, “that is until a group buy came up for some Geoff Steel Racing air boxes on the M3 Cutters forum. After reading the feedback on it and with a bit of encouragement from forum members I went ahead and placed a pre-order.”

    Usefully, as part of the group buy, Evolve joined in with a special offer on Alpha N remaps to go with the air boxes so, with his sexy new carbon air box fitted, Richard headed up to the company’s Luton HQ to get the car remapped. “These cars make anywhere between 320-330hp on average,” he explains, more than a few ponies shy of BMW’s 343hp claim, “and originally mine made 321hp. After fitting the airbox and mapping it, we saw 349hp, which was a very nice gain and was noticeable on the road. As well as that is the induction noise you get as soon as you floor it. It makes such an awesome roar you never get tired of it and want to hear it more and more,” he says with a grin. “To complement the airbox for sound and for a little extra power, I fitted a set of 100 cell cats paired with an Eisenmann Race rear box, which has given a better throttle response through the rev range. To finish off I got the holy grail of exhaust manifolds, with a set of Supersprints, which very rarely come up for sale. They were brand new but never fitted and I soon snapped them up to complete the setup.”

    While he may have been sorted for power, that carbon air box was showing up the rest of his engine bay, so action needed to be taken. Obviously carbon was the way forward, and Richard began to develop a little bit of an obsession with the mesmerising weave. First came an intake cover that fits over the existing item but also partially covers the front of the air box, and once that had been fitted, obsession became unstoppable addiction. Desperate to feed his habit, Richard read up on and briefly considered having a go at carbon skinning, before he found Prapan, who runs NVD Motorsport, and saw his carbon-skinning talent. Quick as a flash, Richard had removed his emissions pump, xenon ballasts and ECU cover and handed them over for skinning in 2x2 weave to match the air box and also asked for a pollen filter cover. The six week wait to get the parts back was absolutely worth it but when it came to getting the rocker cover skinned, the cost of postage and import duty was proving prohibitive.

    Richard found himself a slightly more local carbon skinner by the name of Jaydee Customs, over in Poland, who duly skinned the aforementioned rocker cover, leaving Richard with virtually nothing left to cover in carbon. The finishing touch here in the engine bay is a rather sexy and substantial Rogue Engineering strut brace. And now we come to the interior, because of course Richard couldn’t leave that alone either, and we’re glad he didn’t.

    Originally, his M3 had been fitted with the black leather interior, nice but a bit plain and, for Richard, lacking contrast against the Steel grey exterior. “I didn’t want to settle for red,” he says, “so I searched for a year until a rare Cinnamon interior came up on E46 Fanatics. It wasn’t a sale but a straight swap for black leather, offered by a chap called Mark who was working for Nitron Racing at the time. So after a brief chat on the phone we arranged for me to come down to him one day and we both swapped out our interiors at the premises. For me it made such a huge difference, not just the fact it was a nicer place to sit in now, but it goes so well with the car.” We have to agree as we’re big fans of coloured interiors, they make such a nice change from the usual dour shades, and Cinnamon is seriously lush.

    It’s further complemented by matt dark myrtle wood trim, an unusual choice for an M3 and an extremely rare trim option, but it’s absolutely gorgeous and looks so good here. The steering wheel has been re-trimmed by Royal Steering wheels, with extra padding, cinnamon stitching and a cinnamon centre stripe while the gearknob has been replaced with an illuminated F10 M5 item with matching gaiter, mounted on an E60 short shift for crisper gear changes. Finally, Richard’s most recent interior mod, is the Awron gauge mounted in the driver’s-side centre air vent. “It was a bit of an impulse buy,” admits Richard, “I saw a demo of it on YouTube and when I saw they had made them for the E46 I got one ordered. It goes nicely with the dash and it’s a nice bit of kit, displaying various parameters from intake temperatures to O2 sensor voltages along with a G force meter and loads more functions.”

    It’s taken Richard four years to get his M3 to where it is now, and he couldn’t be happier with the result of all that work. “I think where it is now I have found that place where I wouldn’t change much else,” he smiles. “A full respray is on the cards next, in the original colour, and I want to get the map tweaked with the addition of the exhaust mods. But my long term plan if I can is to keep the car and hopefully one day give it to my son,” which would be an amazing gift, and something very special for that young man to hold onto. So, does that mean Richard’s hanging up his modding hat for now? No… “I have an E30 325i Cab which I bought over four years ago as a project car so, with the help of Dips, there are some big plans for it. Watch this space!” he says with a smile and you can be sure we will be.

    “… I think where the car is now I have found that place where I wouldn’t change much else”

    / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Tuned-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned / #Evolve / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #OZ

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #Geoff-Steel-Racing carbon fibre air box, #Evolve-Alpha-N remap, #Supersprint-V2 exhaust manifolds, 100 cell race cats, #Eisenmann Race rear exhaust section with 83mm tail pipes, carbon fibre engine cover, emissions pump cover, ECU cover, xenon ballasts and pollen filter cover, Matt Haley billet aluminium oil filter cover, #Rogue-Engineering one piece strut brace. Six-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 9x18” (front) and 11.25x18” (rear) three-piece #Oz-Mito wheels with 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Continental ContiSportContact 3 tyres, #CA-Automotive stud conversion kit with Motorsport Hardware wheel nuts, BC Racing BR series coilovers, Revshift 80a subframe bushes, #AP-Racing-BBK with six-pot calipers and 356mm discs (front) and four-pot calipers and 328mm discs (rear), custom orange calipers

    EXTERIOR Original Steel grey paintwork, Strassentech-style front lip with carbon fibre insert, Hamann fog light covers, smoked fog lights, black kidney grilles, black wing vent grilles, 4000K CCFL angel eyes, Depo smoked indicators and side repeaters, carbon fibre black and white bonnet and boot roundels, AC Schnitzer carbon fibre rear diffuser, OEM CSL boot lid, Lamin-X smoked rear lights, Eagle Eyes smoked inner boot lights

    INTERIOR Full cinnamon interior swap, matt dark myrtle wood trim, re-trimmed padded steering wheel with cinnamon stitching and cinnamon centre stripe, F10 M5 gear knob and gaiter, E60 V8 short shift kit, Awron digital vent gauge

    THANKS Dips at Custom Cars for his input and direction over the years, Teddy at SSDD Motorsport, Prapan at NVD Motorsport, Jaydee Customs, John at carbolts.co.uk, Evolve Automotive, Alex at Elite Car Care, Jack at Royal Steering Wheels, all my friends, family and my understanding wife for supporting my passion for cars over the years
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    LOU’S #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW

    As I mentioned in part one of this report (see last month’s issue of #PBMW ), I was intrigued as to whether an aftermarket exhaust would increase power. #BMSport , who fitted the system, recommended that I use remap specialist Sanspeed to have the car dyno’d, first with the stock system and then with the aftermarket system. So, that’s exactly what I did.

    Having read a few articles that reported a two to three per cent improvement with an Eisenmann system, it was a little disappointing to see power drop by 0.2hp to 382.5hp. However, given the Eisenmann tips are a little bigger than the standard ones and when a vehicle is tested on a dyno there can be significant variations from test to test without any change to the engine, I guess it didn’t come as a total surprise.

    To that end a manufacturer will probably take the worst run from their before tests and their best from after tests in order to show the biggest gain. This means exhaust system performance estimates are always very generous. It’s also worth bearing in mind that power gains with bolton parts are limited as every modern engine comes with an array of sensors and an engine management computer, which is programmed to keep your engine running the way the car maker designed it to. If you change things, even just a little bit, the engine computer compensates to bring the system back to the design specification. I’ve also since been told by #Eisenmann that the exhaust internals take time to settle in (around 1000 miles) before this type of highly-engineered muffler reaches its full flow rate so it’s quite normal to see less power when the unit is brandnew.

    To that end, it’ll be interesting to see the results if I get it on Sanspeed’s rolling road again. I think the lesson to be learnt here is that an exhaust by itself won’t ever add a lot of power, but that wasn’t my objective. I opted for an aftermarket system as I wanted a sportier exhaust note, and that’s exactly what I’ve now got. It now sounds like it’s got a V8 under the bonnet and it no longer disappoints when you go through tunnels with the windows down. The only negatives are that on start-up it’s really deep and throaty (much to the annoyance of my neighbours at 5am) and cruising around 2000-2300rpm I get some drone, which I had prepared myself for anyway. Other than that, though, it’s perfect. It really sings under heavy acceleration and, more importantly, it’s not too loud for every day driving.

    The Eisenmann Performance connecting pipes and rear muffler are not the cheapest on the market but when you’re competing with BMW’s own M department you don’t want to scrimp on quality. All Eisenmann systems are hand-crafted, constructed from 100% stainless steel and use the latest in computer aided design as well as lab analysis and testing. Despite having only been established since 1988 Eisenmann is the OE supplier to Porsche AG, Mercedes AMG, Mercedes McLaren, Rieger Tuning GmbH and MST Wiesmann GmbH, which speaks volumes. So, there you go, the Eisenmann exhaust is staying on the car! Next on the list is an intake and possibly custom remap…


    BMSport had the system installed in about a half an hour, using Eisenmann’s new connecting pipes.

    E92 M3 on Sanspeed’s Dyno Dynamics dyno with the new system fitted.

    PRICE Sanspeed before and after dyno run: £100 Eisenmann connecting pipes and rear muffler: £2075.91

    Mention PBMW when ordering your Eisenmann exhaust and receive 15% off your order until Friday 30 December 2016!


    THANKS AND CONTACT
    CA Technologies International / 01202 822792 / www.ca-int.co.uk
    Sanspeed 020 8303 4314 / www.sanspeed.co.uk
    Eisenmann UK / www.eisenmann.co.uk
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    Double 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.

    DOUBLE IMPACT

    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.
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    LOU’S E92 M3 / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92

    The E9x M3 models are very special indeed – the #BMW-S65 / #S65 4.0-litre #V8 under the bonnet is not only derived from the legendary V10 found in the E60 M5, but it’s also the only V8 ever fitted to an M3 and it’s the last naturally aspirated engine to go out of production at BMW. That alone, means this generation of M3 has a good possibility of becoming a highly desired classic.


    Despite the fact refuelling is a constant occurrence, the V8 in itself is reason enough for any true #BMW fan to buy an E92 M3. It revs up to 8250rpm and the throttle response is instantaneous. But there’s just one drawback. In my opinion it is way too quiet for a V8 – go through a tunnel, windows down and throttle pinned, and it is a bit disappointing. There was only one solution to that: upgrade the exhaust. There’s always the worry that it’s going to be too loud – like the system that ex- #PBMW editor Iain Curry fitted to his E30 320iS. It used to set off car alarms and that is not cool. So, I did a lot of research to see all the options available to me before making my decision.

    I whiled away hours checking out various compilation videos on YouTube from the likes of #Quicksilver , #Remus , #Eisenmann , #Milltek and #Akrapovic , and scouring forums to see what fellow M3 owners were recommending. As it’s used for the daily commute and at weekends, I wanted it to be fairly civilised, and eventually decided on #Eisenmann , which is responsible for designing the OEM systems on Porsche and AMG cars, and builds its exhausts by hand.

    Via Eisenmann’s UK agent CA Technologies, I ordered its back box and connecting pipes, which allow you to install an aftermarket system without the need to cut the OEM piping. All I had to do was decide on what tips and sound level I wanted. MD Roy Carvalho said that around 80% of M3 owners opt for Race over Sport, and although it’s 20db louder when the car is on the move I decided to take the chance, together with 83mm round perforated tips.

    I was intrigued as to whether fitting an aftermarket exhaust would improve performance so before I handed the car over to #BMSport to install the system I put it on a rolling road. The end result showed 300lb ft of torque, which is five more than the book figure, but sadly it was over 37hp under what BMW quotes, at 382.7hp. However, when you take into account that grade of fuel, tyre pressures and atmospheric conditions can influence test accuracy, a loss of around 9% isn’t actually that bad. Tune in next month to see if it made more power and what I think of the new exhaust note.
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    AWESOME BMW M5 Looks good, goes great

    How do you improve upon one of the best driving cars #BMW ever put together? Take a leaf out of Andrew Berger’s book. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Mike Kuhn.

    Styled and tuned E39 M5

    There can’t be many father and sons that have individually made it on to the pages of Performance BMW with their Bavarian beasts. In fact, Andrew and Josh Berger may well be the first. Josh’s E36 M3 was featured in November last year. It’s a concours-standard build that’s been reverted back to its Luxurious spec and slammed on a set of CCW LM5Ts.

    With a few choice engine and chassis mods, it’s a show stopper, track car and daily driver rolled into one. And now a year later, it’s his father’s turn to take the spotlight. The E39 M5 is arguably the best performance saloon BMW ever made, and it’s already becoming sought after by collectors and driving enthusiasts. Having reached modern classic status, various finance and automotive publications of late are claiming that it’s set to soar in value. In fact, Paul Michaels, chairman of Hexagon Classics (a man who makes a living out of buying the right collectible cars) claims an immaculate low mileage model is sure to appreciate.

    It’s something I’ve been saying for the past year and I now find myself not getting very far with writing this feature as I scour Pistonheads and AutoTrader looking for one and trying to persuade my husband that this should be our new family car. Suffice to say we definitely couldn’t afford the one that was recently up for grabs at a dealership in Ohio. With just 309 miles on the clock the asking price was $149,999.

    Anyway, if I’m to meet this deadline without burning the midnight oil I really must get back to the task in hand. A man fascinated with form and function, we’re surprised to learn that Andrew has only been interested in BMWs for the past 15 years, but suffice to say ever since the day he first drove one he was hooked. He did go on to own that very car, an E46 330i, but not before going through a few other 3, 5 and M Series cars. If truth be told, though, he always had his sights set on an E39 M5: “This car has been at the top of my bucket list since they rolled off the production line,” confesses the 60-year-old.

    He bought the car in May last year from Gas Motorcars, a local dealership in Marietta, Georgia, that specialises in exotic, classic and luxury cars and also happens to be where his son works. He traded in his E36 M3 and M Roadster for it together with a pile of 100 dollar bills. The car had already received a few exterior modifications – some of which were a little OTT for Andrew’s taste, so the first job was to take off what he didn’t like.

    As such the car now wears a Vorsteiner carbon fibre vented bonnet, front and rear spoilers from AC Schnitzer, ECS Tuning brake duct grilles, a painted matt black kidney grille, angel eye headlights and a painted gloss black rear diffuser with stainless steel exhaust tip surrounds, all of which combine to make a more aggressive statement without detracting from Chris Bangle’s original lines. The staggered 19” DPE Forged wheels with brushed faces, polished lips and chrome hardware are the perfect finishing touches.

    When it came to the interior, Andrew wanted to keep things simple again so he’s retained most of the stock parts (bar the Schroth Racing harnesses) but brought them into the 21st century. As such the steering wheel, sun visors, doorcards, handbrake and gear knob gaiters have been retrimmed in black Alcantara complete with M tri-colour stitching, while the Nineties wood trim has been painted silver and the instrument rings have been swapped out for custom-made aluminium items.

    The in-dash double-DIN DVD multimedia AV receiver from Pioneer is the only clue to a custom audio install which resides in the boot and includes a pair of JL Audio W7 10” subwoofers and HD1200/1 amp, which are connected up to a set of Hertz speakers, mids and tweeters. Despite having the unbeatable soundtrack of a brutal V8 under the bonnet, the ICE is Andrew’s favourite: “I love taking this car out on a Sunday, putting on my favourite playlist and enjoying my ultimate driving machine,” he tells us.

    Saying that, we’re pleased to hear the engine side of things haven’t been ignored. With 400hp already on tap, sensibly Andrew has gone for a selection of mods that help to improve the breathing of the high-revving 5.9-litre engine. The combination of an AFE Stage 2 air intake, custom exhaust manifolds, mid-pipes and ECU remap by Buckhead Imports and an Eisenmann Race exhaust system not only gives the car extra horsepower, but it also lets the engine rev more eagerly and helps the lazy V8 burble really come out of its shell.

    The six-speed manual gearbox from Getrag was critically acclaimed for its slick performance, but improvements can always be made. To that end a UUC short shifter, lightweight clutch and flywheel, have really helped to transform an already revered driving experience with quicker gear changes and improved throttle response. “Getting it past 6000rpm puts a smile on my face every time,” he says and we can certainly believe that.

    When you factor in the host of suspension upgrades he’s made, including KW Variant 3 coilovers, Dinan strut tower bar and shock tower brace to help the car feel more planted, responsive and tauter, together with a Brembo GT big brake kit up front and slotted StopTech discs with Hawk pads out back to better haul in the power, Andrew now has the confidence to push this sizeable saloon harder on Georgia’s finest scenic and twisty roads.

    Andrew’s plans for the future are to simply maintain its prestige and, with just 55,000 miles on the clock, keep it for Sunday best, and who can blame him? With supercar- chasing performance in a package that is discreet and practical, the E39 M5 is the very definition of a wolf in sheep’s clothing and Andrew’s sympathetic approach in modifying is a great lesson to anyone thinking of buying one of these Q cars. Right, can I go back to scouring the classifieds again now, please?

    “This car’s been at the top of my bucket list since they rolled off the production line”

    “I love taking this car out and enjoying my ultimate driving machine”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E39 / #S62B50 / #BMW-S62 / #S62 / #DPE / #AFE / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-E39

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 , #AFE-Stage-2 air intake, Buckhead Imports custom exhaust manifolds, mid-pipes and ECU remap, full #Eisenmann race exhaust, six-speed manual gearbox, UUC lightweight clutch and flywheel, UUC Evo 3 short-shifter

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” ET16 (f) and 11x19” ET16 (r) #DPE-Forged-ST7-Hybrid wheels with brushed faces, polished lips and chrome hardware with 245/35 (f) and 285/35 (r) Toyo T1R tyres, #KW-Variant-3 Coilovers, #Dinan strut tower bar & shock tower brace. #Brembo-GT big brake kit (f) and slotted #StopTech discs and Hawk pads (r), #Turner-Motorsports stainless steel brake lines all-round

    EXTERIOR #Vorsteiner carbon fibre vented bonnet, kidney grille painted matt black, LED angel eye headlights, ECS Tuning brake duct grille, #AC-Schnitzer front and rear spoilers, custom painted gloss black rear diffuser with stainless steel exhaust tip surrounds

    INTERIOR Doorcards, handbrake and gear knob gaiters, steering wheel and sun visors retrimmed in black Alcantara with M tri-colour stitching, silver painted trim, custom aluminium instrument rings, Schroth Racing harnesses, full custom boot install with two JL Audio W7 subwoofers and HD1200/1 amp, Pioneer in-dash double-DIN DVD multimedia AV receiver, Hertz speakers, mids and tweeters
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    Stylish E93 M3 Convertible

    Convertibles can't be shy, meek or discreet, they need to big, bold and proud and an Atlantis E93 M3 is all of those things… Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Rash Bajwa.

    Typical. You wait ages for an Atlantis blue feature car and then two come along in a row! Last month we had the pleasure of Brad Wherrett’s turbo E36 and this month it’s the turn of Jags Bath and his E93 M3. As a show regular, you’re likely to have seen Jags’ M3 doing the rounds for years and there’s certainly no missing it, finished as it is in that striking shade of blue.

    Atlantis is a rare but much-loved colour, and with good reason, with this Individual shade adding a striking turquoise flash to proceedings. It’s the sort of colour we need to punch through the sea of silver and grey we see day-to-day. It’s the sort of colour that a sun-seeking ’Vert deserves to be finished in, the sort of colour you’d expect to see gliding along a West Coast beach front but which is welcome everywhere.

    As seems to be a trend with this month’s features, Jags did not grow up around BMWs at all and, in fact, his first motoring adventures involved Fords – an Orion that his dad bought for him as his first car and later a Sierra Sapphire, the first car Jags bought himself and which, unsurprisingly, had its fair share of mods. But despite his time with the Blue Oval, BMWs have always been close to his heart: “I have been passionate about BMWs since I can remember,” he begins, “as I have been into cars from a very young age and BMWs have always been my favourite. I am very much a petrolhead in the sense that I love all things cars, motorsport and especially modifying cars. I have always been buying mags like Autotrader etc to check out cars and Performance BMW , Max Power, and Fast Car to check out the latest products and ideas on the modding scene.”

    Modified BMW ownership was, therefore, inevitable and Jags got his first taste of Bavarian ownership with an E36 M3 Evo Convertible in Estoril blue, his other favourite colour, and at the time his dream car. Not a bad way to get a taste of what BMW has to offer. That he owns another convertible M3 comes as no surprise, though he actually started out looking to buy an M6 before the ample charms of the M3 won him over. “After a short test drive in an E92 M3 I was completely sold on the car; the V8 rumble combined with the handling and grown-up interior and the fact that the car is full of so much tech had done it for me, especially the sound! The M3 has always been my personal favourite BMW so the fact that the E92 was so good and had so many improvements, especially the DCT gearbox, meant it was the only option for me.”


    There followed a nine-month long search for the perfect E93, Jags having decided he definitely wanted a convertible, but every dealer he turned to told him the same thing: there were no Individual E93s on the system.

    Just as he was about to give up, what seemed to be the perfect car surfaced at a Scottish dealership, an Atlantis blue E93. You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out how the story ended and, after a road trip to Scotland to check out the car Jags arranged to have it delivered to London and that’s where the real adventure began.

    “I knew I was going to modify the car before buying it,” laughs Jags, “but I wanted to enjoy the car as it was first, so kept it standard for around a year to enjoy how it drove prior to modifying, and used this time to decide what I wanted.” While Jags was keen to enhance the car’s styling, he didn’t want to go down the route of body kits and, with some help and advice from the #MStyle team in Romford, a whole heap of carbon goodies was obtained and added to the M3.

    Up front there’s a carbon splitter, which helps to fill out the bumper plus it looks awesome against the Atlantis bodywork, as does all of the carbon. The kidney grilles and bonnet vents have been changed to carbon items along with the indicators, while the headlights have been treated to a smoke tint.

    At the back there’s a carbon diffuser along with an LCI tail-light upgrade, the lenses having also been tinted, and the finishing touches are custom roundels finished in black and Atlantis blue and window tints. The carbon additions alone look fantastic, but the little details really add those finishing touches and make all the difference. It’s also the details that have given the interior a bit more personality and individuality; the custom steering wheel roundel matches the exterior ones, finished in black and Atlantis, while the flatbottomed M Performance steering wheel has been treated to Atlantis stitching and a matching centre stripe. Jags has also added BMPedals brake and accelerator pedals and a matching footrest with M engraving finished in Atlantis blue and finally a pair of BMPedals extended shift paddles with Atlantis plus and minus engravings.

    While Jags hasn’t done much on the engine front, he’s added a few underbonnet bits, with a pair of RPI scoops, painted yellow and with custom Atlantis RPI logos, helping to funnel plenty of cool air to a BMC drop-in air filter. And, as there’s a V8 under the bonnet, there has to be an exhaust. “If I have to pick my favourite modification it would be the Eisenmann Race exhaust,” Jags smiles. “Funny, this is one mod I was never planning on doing as I have always liked the way the car sounds, even standard and didn’t want to change it unnecessarily. I first had the OEM mod done to the standard exhaust as I had heard a similar system on a friend’s car at a BMW meet and was impressed by the more aggressive sound.

    “After a few months, I decided it was time for a change. I have always wanted an Eisenmann exhaust and when I found that it makes a system for the E93, it was a must!” he exclaims. “I absolutely love the look and sound of the exhaust, two years on and the exhaust note is still just getting better and better,” he adds with a grin. The full fat Race exhaust means maximum volume, with an Evolve X-pipe and primary de-cat, for even more noise and with a V8 under the bonnet, that’s a very good thing indeed.

    With styling and soundtrack sorted, we come to the wheels, an essential part of any project. Jags knew he wanted 20s with either a race or performance look to them, not too many spokes and nothing in black. “I was first thinking of going for something like #BBS Le Mans wheels, as I wanted to go for more of a DTM look,” he says, “however after a long time looking I decided to go with a five-spoke wheel, as I have always liked five-spokes – they show off the brakes and calipers well and look best in concave, which is what I wanted as it makes them look more aggressive.

    “In the end I decided to go for the Cades Calisto wheels as they ticked all the boxes for me: five-spoke, concave, staggered fitment, and with a diamond cut finish with grey inserts to break it up. Most importantly the wheels went well together with the overall look of the car, which is very important when modifying. The car has to flow and all the various components should complement each other. I feel the wheels added to the car and helped to achieve the look I was going for,” says Jags and we’d have to agree with him there.

    Wheel snobs might look down their collective noses at Cades, but if you said the Calisto didn’t look good you’d be straight up lying because it’s a fantastic looking wheel, it really is, and it looks way more expensive than it is, which is definitely an added bonus. The style really suits the M3 perfectly, especially with a drop in ride height courtesy of a set of Eibach springs, and the combo of polished elements and grey areas works so well; it’s a wheel that’s definitely got a lot of presence. And, with those widely spaced spokes, it would have been rude not to give the brakes a bit of a makeover, the calipers having been painted in the same shade of yellow as appears elsewhere on the car. On paper, you might not think that yellow and Atlantis blue would work together but they really do, and with such a bold colour you need some bold elements to grab your attention.

    With a selection of choice mods, Jags has put together a fantastic-looking car in a fantastic colour, but he’s far from finished yet, this M3 being very much an ongoing project. His shopping list for future mods include some carbon accessories for the engine. “I’m also planning an #Evolve-Stage-2 remap,” he tells us, “a custom plenum, which has been delayed so many times now, and custom front headlights, which have also been delayed.” Jags is also thinking about trying out some different wheels, as the Cades have been on the car for four years now. All that sounds like an awesome lineup of future mods.

    That’s the fantastic thing about the E9x M3, it’s an awesome car straight out-of-the box but start tapping into its potential and the sky really is the limit…


    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E93 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E93 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E93 / #BMW-3-Series-E93 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-M3-E93 / #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 / #BMW /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre V8 S65B40 , RPI air scoops resprayed in yellow with custom #RPI stickers in Atlantis blue, BMC air filter, #Evolve-X-pipe with primary de-cat, #Eisenmann Race exhaust, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox

    CHASSIS 9x20” (front) and 10.5x20” (rear) #Cades-Calisto wheels with 245/30 (front) and 285/25 (rear) #Vredestein Ultrac Sessanta tyres, #Eibach lowering springs, #EBC pads, callipers painted yellow

    EXTERIOR Smoked headlights, carbon fibre front splitter, grilles, bonnet vents, indicators, rear diffuser, custom BMW roundels finished in black and Atlantis blue, smoked rear LCI light upgrade, tinted windows

    INTERIOR Custom BMW roundels finished in black and Atlantis blue, custom M performance flat bottom steering wheel finished in black leather with Atlantis blue stitching and centre stripe, BMPedals footrest with M engraving and finished in Atlantis blue, BMPedals brake and throttle pedals, #BMPedals shift paddles with Atlantis blue +/- engraving

    “The car has to flow and all the various components should complement each other”

    20” Cades Calisto wheels look great on the M3, as does all that carbon.

    “The M3 has always been my personal favourite BMW”
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    THE MASTERPIECE / #BMW-E21 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E21 / #BMW

    This E21 wows with its Euro-look styling, race-inspired interior and E30 M3 Evo 2 S14 under the bonnet. It is a very rare occasion when a modified BMW comes up that simply excels in every area. This German E21 is one such car. Sublime Euro-look, race-style interior, custom boot install and the inspired choice of dropping an S14 E30 M3 Evo 2 engine into the immaculate bay. A masterpiece indeed. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Max Earey.

    I’m in love. I never thought it would happen this way, but it has. Yet I regret I’m cheating on another. At home I have my E21: a stylish, attractive and reasonably reliable partner. Yes, she’s let me down a few times, and is a bit ropey around the edges, but she deserves better than this. One short business trip on the continent, one sunny afternoon in the country, and I’ve fallen for a 24-year-old German beauty. A quick look at the automotive pornography on these pages is my only defence. How can this car not be adored by all?

    For a start, no BMW from 1982 has a right to look this good. When I say it is immaculate, I mean immaculate. There is not a flaw anywhere on the body, inside the cabin, in the boot or under the bonnet. Even the fuse box is spotlessly clean. You could almost accept a concours original E21 that’s kept in a heated museum 365 days a year to be of this incredible standard, but not one that’s been so brilliantly modified with around treble the power over its factory figure.

    Forced induction for this staggering fact? Not in this instance. This car started life as a 1982 BMW 315, a car sold in Germany with the dizzying performance figure of 73bhp. When 35-year-old Michael Pietsch bought the gutless white classic in 1990 – his first car no less – no one could have envisaged the remarkable transformation that would take place over the years. At the heart of the whole operation is the inspired choice of installing an E30 M3 Evo 2’s 2.3-litre S14 engine. The performance difference doesn’t even bare thinking about.

    The standard Evo 2 engine is good for 215bhp, and with Michael adding a Hartge engine management chip, Eisenmann E36 M3 exhaust parts and a K&N air filter, he can expect a few more ponies on top of that as well. With around 150 extra horsepower over a standard 315’s output thanks to the engine transplant and upgrades, the little E21 has been transformed into a true road racer. A conservative estimate of 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds ensures it would embarrass many more exotic machines at a traffic light grand prix, and could even shame a few modern so-called performance BMWs with a four-cylinder powerplant (that means you, E90 320si owners).

    When modifiers complete engine swaps, it’s usually a good plan to fit the corresponding gearbox at the same time. Michael has obliged by adding the E30 M3’s race-style dogleg ’box (with first gear usually where second gear is, and second gear where third normally is and so on). To make the gear changes even quicker, there’s also a shorter gear throw thanks to an M3 short-shift kit. While this was going on, an Alpina LSD was also fitted to increase traction and improve handling.

    As impressive as the engine and drivetrain set up is, this is just one part of a quite phenomenal customising job. As is de rigueur with Euro-look cars, Michael has dropped the body perfectly on deep-dish alloys to give that unbeatably squat, menacing stance. KW Variant 1 coilovers lower the body 80mm at the front and 60mm out back, enveloping the impossibly clean 8.5x16” and 9.5x16” Chevlon Racing Mesh split rims.


    Behind these delightful polished rollers sits a brake upgrade suitable for the three-fold increase in power over a standard E21 315. TarOx 307mm discs are squeezed by six-pot calipers at the front, while E30 325i discs with Ferodo pads grace the back. To round off the impressive chassis upgrades to go with the coilovers and bigger anchors, Michael has fitted front and rear strut braces and an E21 323i antiroll bar. As you’d expect, this little E21 is one hell of a good laugh to be piloting along twisty German roads.

    Looking as good as it does, it’s no surprise to find Michael doesn’t go into battle with it at the Nürburgring every weekend. A shame considering its performance, but it ensures the exterior remains looking this good. The body itself has had very little done to it: the E21 is such an attractive retro car as standard it simply doesn’t need tacky add-ons.

    Instead, Michael has ensured the body has been resprayed to the highest level in its vivid red hue, while he’s had the arches subtly pulled out 10mm at the front and 15mm at the rear to accommodate the wide wheels and lowered body. What more needs doing? A quick bit of de-badging, white indicators and a black kidney grille combined with the slightly fatter body and the look is perfect. Simplicity at its finest.

    As for the interior, well, what can you say? 34-year-old cars should smell old, be thoroughly worn through and have all the bells and whistles that came as standard back in the early Eighties (ie none). This is the case with my musty, tatty old E21 but Michael’s is an altogether different animal.

    He has managed to retain the period feel of the E21’s standard inside and combine it with delightful modern touches to make all E21 fans go weak at the knees. There is simply no other word for it: perfection.

    From the König sport seats with Schroth harnesses to the black Porsche carpets, everything has been chosen to ensure this cabin is an exceptional place to be. A Raid 320mm steering wheel is a vast improvement over the standard E21’s bussized offering, the speedo dials are Alpina items, while #VDO gauges have been tastefully mounted in the centre console with a custom aluminium surround.


    Thanks to Michael’s skills learnt in his job, he has been able to fabricate plenty of these custom aluminium parts that give the unique feel to the interior. The craftsmanship of the window winders, gear stick and surround (very Ferrari-esque), handbrake handle, door sills and door pins is exceptional, complemented with the likes of metal pedals and plenty of M badges dotted around paying homage to the improved lump under the bonnet.


    You’ll notice the Brax MultiController embedded in the dashboard, and this keeps a close eye on the highly professional ICE install in the boot. Michael was keen to show off his E21’s impressive sound quality, treating us to a selection of his German death metal hits. Well, it was certainly an improvement on the usual Euro-pop that gets blared out at German shows.

    Have you ever seen a tidier boot install? There’s still space for a few bags after embedding the Kicker Punch 1000W amp in the spare wheel well (covered by Perspex) and the 400W amp in the side pod, while two 12” Kicker Freeair subs have been neatly placed at the boot’s rear, mounted on tasteful chequer plating. There’s also a Strike LCB1200 battery on show, and a Resolution two-way crossover, while the finish is, once again, in quality Porsche black carpeting. For a bit of extra show, there are also three blue neons illuminating the boot come sundown.

    As with the rest of this E21, the boot is impossibly clean. But no matter where you look throughout Michael’s 1982 classic, there is nowhere it can be faulted. From top to toe it is nothing short of flawless, and how a car that is nearly a quarter of a century old looks in such fantastic condition is a miracle. The rebuilding job performed by Michael is the work of a genius. The engine could be from an S14 museum, the custom aluminium detailing is desirably fresh, and the body looks as though it has just left the finest paint shop in Germany. Is it any wonder he’s walked away with 56 show trophies since 1999?

    It may look as though it is trailered to every show it enters, but Michael hasn’t had all the performance upgrades done for no reason. He told me the former 315’s top speed is now 150mph, and he knows this because he’s done it on the autobahn. Must be a strange feeling in an E21! But with the incredible chassis setup and well over 200bhp on tap, how could you not enjoy exploring its potential? Best of all, when playtime is over, give it a quick polish and it’s ready to be a show-winner once again. There’s no way you can not love this quite brilliant little car.

    An inspired modification for the humble E21: transplanting an E30 M3 Evo 2’s 2.3-litre, 215bhp engine. Even though the bay is 34 years old and the engine 25, everything you see is immaculate.

    …no BMW from 1982 has a right to look this good. When I say it is immaculate, I mean immaculate. There is not a flaw anywhere on the body, inside the cabin, in the boot or under the bonnet.

    As with the rest of the car, the E21’s ICE install is perfection. Kicker subs and amps mounted delightfully with chequer plating and black Porsche carpets.

    E30 M3 Evo 2 engine swap means the gearbox comes with it. Racing dogleg it is then.
    Custom aluminium parts include window winders, door sills, gear stick, handbrake and gauge surrounds.

    Interior is still classically E21, but custom aluminium goodies and the Raid steering wheel modernise the flawless cabin.

    Above: Alpina speedo adds a custom flavour. Below: As close to an E21 M3 as there’s been.

    Michael has managed to retain the period feel of the E21’s standard inside and combine it with delightful modern touches to make all E21 fans go weak at the knees. There is simply no other word for it: perfection.

    Black BMW badges offer a finishing touch.

    Michael said the former 315’s top speed is now 150mph, and he knows this because he’s done it on the autobahn. Must be a strange feeling in an E21!

    DATA FILE #BMW-E21 / #BMW-E21-S14 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #Alpina

    ENGINE: 2.3-litre four-cylinder #S14 / #BMW-S14 with custom stainless steel exhaust system using #Eisenmann E36 M3 parts, #K&N air filter, #Hartge engine management chip, braided hoses throughout. E30 M3 five-speed dogleg transmission with short-shift from M3, #Alpina-LSD with 40% diff lock

    PERFORMANCE: 215bhp with top speed of 150mph and 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds

    CHASSIS: 8.5x16” ET7 (front) and 9.5x16” ET7 (rear) #Chevlon-Racing-Mesh split-rim alloys shod in 215/40 (front) and 225/40 (rear) Dunlop SP9000 tyres. #KW-Variant-1 / #KW coilovers lowering 80mm front and 60mm rear, front strut brace with custom aluminium strut covers, rear strut brace, E21 323i anti-roll bar. TarOx 307mm brake discs with 6-pot #TarOx calipers up front, E30 325i discs with Ferodo S 2000 pads at rear

    EXTERIOR: Arches pulled out 10mm front and 15mm rear, de-badged boot, M3 badge on front grille, black BMW roundels, custom white indicators front and rear

    INTERIOR: Black and red König sports seats, Schroth harnesses, Raid 320mm steering wheel with black BMW logo and M emblem, metal pedals with M logos, black Porsche carpets, Alpina dials, custom aluminium door sills, window winders, gear stick, gear stick housing, handbrake handle, door pins and gauge surround, VDO gauges, custom chrome screws throughout (over 100 in total)

    ICE: Clarion DRZ 960Z head unit with 12-disc CD changer, Brax MultiController in dashboard, two 12” Kicker Freeair subs, Kicker Punch 1000W amp, Kicker Punch 400W amp, Resolution two-way crossover, Rockford Fosgate 1 Farad capacitor, Strike LCB1200 battery, custom boot floor with Perspex covering, chequer plate detailing, three blue neon lights

    THANKS: Roger Hiller (painting), Armin Betzelberger (electrics)
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    FULL-ON E70 X5 X-RATED / #BMW

    We don’t see many modified X5s doing the rounds but this full-on, bad boy of an E70 makes up for that in a big way. Slammed, styled and ICE’d up. We don’t feature many X models in DRIVE-MY, but this X5 makes up for that in one fell swoop… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andy Tipping.



    Good as the X5 may be, it’s not a car that’s captured the imagination of #Drive-My readers, so we haven’t featured that many over the years. This is possibly because it’s a big 4x4 rather than something with retro appeal or an affordable performance machine. Fortunately, what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality with this awesome example. It’s an E70 X5 3.0sd, which means it’s got the twin-turbo diesel straight-six under the bonnet, and it belongs to Am Singh, owner of car audio distribution company #BladeICE .

    Am’s no stranger to modified cars (or feature cars) and you won’t be surprised to learn that some of those have been very audio-focused. “My first car, a Citroen AX GT, was featured in Max Power back in 1999 and a couple of years later I built a JDMspec Lexus IS200 (Altezza RS200) which I fitted a supercharger kit to. It was featured in Fast Car magazine,” he says. “I’ve built some audio heavy vehicles, too, including a Lupo GTi which was featured in sister title Performance VW magazine in 2013. I also own a Chevrolet Astro van which I’m planning to rebuild this year.”



    This X5 was purchased out of necessity when Am and his missus were expecting their second child in 2014 and the family wagon at the time – an E91 330d M Sport – was deemed too small. “I didn’t want to leave the BMW brand as the E91 was a pleasure to own,” says Am. “I found the X5 at Sytner BMW in Leicester. It was a oneowner car in fantastic condition and the back looked like it had never been sat in. The colour and interior combo instantly drew me to it and the spec was impressive too. It’s got the panoramic roof, keyless entry, Comfort seats, Saddle brown leather and, as a bonus, seven seats! Not that we plan to have any more kids, though; two is enough!” he laughs.


    So, how do you go from mild-mannered X5 to full-on feature car? “Secretly I always had plans for the car,” Am reveals, “however, things went further than I initially imagined.” This is something we’ve heard many times before. Six months of standard X5 ownership passed before Am decided that a bit of modifying was in order and started on what was to be an incredibly slippery slope.


    “Initially I purchased some KW V3 coilovers,” says Am. “Then I looked at brakes from the X5 M, which comprised massive 395mm discs and four-pot Brembo calipers. These were fitted and I ran it on stock 20s for about three months, after which I got talking to a new up-and-coming wheel manufacturer in the USA: Brada wheels.” In case you don’t know, Brada produce lovely forged wheel designs and while 20s would be plenty on most cars the X5 can pull off much bigger wheels, so it would have been rude not to indulge, really. “I wanted to go with a BBSstyle wheel with a cross-spoke design and the Brada BR-1 fits the bill perfectly,” Am continues. “So I ordered a set of 22s and these were built to order as they are a fullyforged/ CNC’d three-piece wheels in a staggered fitment. It was worth the wait and I ran them for the few months that were left of summer #2014 then took them off for winter. That’s when my mind went into overdrive.


    “I started work on the audio, as I needed a demo car for 2015. As a lot of the products I distribute were pointing towards OEM integration and exotic high-end sound quality, the X5 was the perfect base to allow me to go for an OEM+ approach and maximise my marketing possibilities. At this time I also picked up a CIC with Combox to replace the aging CCC iDrive system and I made sure it had DAB, too, while Mak’s Retrofits helped with the installation and coding.”

    With plans under way for some impressive ICE, Am decided that the X5 needed more than just an audio overhaul and resolved to completely change the look of the car. While he had originally wanted an X5 M, the price was too much of a stretch so he decided to go for the next best thing, and set about building a perfect replica. “I got to work looking at all the parts that differ on the M Sport and the X5 M,” Am says. “Initially it didn’t appear to be more than front wings, front bumper and rear bumper but it ended up being a lot more. There were many other items to consider, like headlights, quad exhaust, bumper grilles, trims, clips, bolts etc the list grew and so did the spendometer! After about seven months of searching eBay USA and eBay Germany I managed to get the majority of the parts to start the transformation. Some items had to be bought new, though, as they were insanely hard to find on the secondhand market.

    “After a couple months with the X5 M conversion I came across a set of Adaptive LED headlights that were only found on very late model X5s and X6s. BMW actually had it up as a retrofit conversion for around £3000 plus fitting. Again I searched through eBay USA and some US forums and found a complete set of headlamps. They needed a new harness and FRM3 module, which I purchased new, after which I called on Mak’s Retrofits to help me with coding-in all the features of the headlights. They totally transform the look of the car, making the front-end look like the new F models. They also offer functional benefits, such as adaptive control and a light output like I’ve never experienced before. I’ll never feel complete with regular xenon lights after having had these LED headlights!

    “The body conversion took place in spring of 2015 and in the meantime I was left to finish trimming the audio build I had fabricated during the winter. The full setup consists of four Mosconi D2 (full range Class-D) amps, Gladen Aerospace two-way speakers mounted in the A-pillars and the Gladen 201 Extreme 8” slim-mount woofers which utilise the OEM underseat location. Two Gladen SQX 10s are mounted in a trick side-ported enclosure and headed by the Mosconi 6to8 DSP – the brains of the operation. It is linked to the OEM head unit via a high level input but also has full high definition EDR 2.0 Bluetooth audio streaming capability. This means wireless audio playback via tablet or phone, and Tidal or Spotify apps work great for this. “To power the amps I opted to use three XS Power AGM batteries. I mounted them in the OEM location, secured on billet CNC hold-downs. These offer enough reserve power to cope with long audio demonstrations and enough juice to power the vast array of stock electrics throughout the car.”

    Depending on how up you are on your car audio that might well be all Greek to you but for the uninitiated a quick glance at the interior shots reveals that there is a lot of top-end audio gear stuffed into this X5, and the quality of the installation is impeccable. What’s nice is that everything is very discreet. Yes, the two-way speakers in the A-pillars are big but they don’t look out of place and the boot build is beautiful – the enclosure for the Gladen subs looks like it’s a factory item while the installation of the amps in the boot floor is elegant and understated. You probably wouldn’t even notice the Mosconi DSP controller, custommounted behind the #iDrive controls and the fact that Am has retained the factory head unit means that everything is seamlessly integrated and he’s lost none of the numerous standard functions. Beyond the audio, the wood trim has been wrapped in black for a more elegant look while the steering wheel was retrimmed by Jack at Royal Steering Wheels in black Nappa leather with contrasting stitch to match the saddle brown leather on the seats.


    If the inside looks good, the outside is nothing short of gobsmacking. Am may have invested a vast amount of time and effort on obtaining the X5 M bodywork components but it’s certainly been worth it as the end result is awesome. There’s just so much sheer aggression emanating from the X5 M styling that it’s almost enough to knock you off your feet. No corners have been cut, with a proper quad exhaust system having been fitted which sits in a gorgeous carbon fibre diffuser. And, where you’d normally expect to see an X5 in full-on off-road mode, the massive drop that Am has achieved with the KW coilovers gives the car a completely different look. The way the Brada 22s fill the gargantuan arches is just insane. Oh, and the wheels are perfection. The mirror finish on the lips with the brushed centres suits the X5 so well.

    You might have thought that was that, but Am is most not one to rest on his laurels and since our photoshoot the X5 has received a few more changes. “Initially I chose the KW V3 coilovers as I’ve always been an old-skool static type of guy,” he explains. “Despite the craze of air suspension in the last few years I went with coilovers purely because I didn’t want to use up any boot space with air tanks or compressors, as this would take away from the room I wanted to dedicate for my aural pleasure. With more and more cars using the trunk space for tanks/hardline installs and ditching audio in place of it, I wasn’t going to bow down to the air-ride gods, so I stayed static.

    “However, since this photoshoot I had to admit defeat. The KWs were being wound down more and more and as a result I had no suspension travel, often riding on the bumpstops. For a 2.5-tonne 4x4 that makes for a pretty bumpy ride! So I explored all avenues of keeping my trunk space intact and still having air suspension with the trunk looking OEM+.

    “The air compressors are discreetly mounted in the side compartment and the management is hidden out of sight next to the battery bank under the amps. The fivegallon air tank is mounted on the rear tailgate behind a fabricated panel that’s been trimmed in Alcantara, and the tank has been covered in original BMW Saddle brown leather to complete the theme. I mounted the Air Lift controller into one of the front air vents for ease of access and it looks like it was there from factory.”



    Static or on air, it really makes no difference as this X5 provides a visual punch either way. Every show it’s been to it’s a crowd pleaser. A lot of work has gone into building this X5 over two years but it’s all been worth it. Am’s built himself an awesome machine and one that you’re unlikely to see replicated anytime soon, which makes it all the more cooler.

    DATA FILE #BMW-X5-E70 / #BMW-X5-3.0sd-E70 / #BMW-X5-3.0sd / #BMW-X5 / #KW / #BMW-Performance

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #M57TU2D30 / #M57 / #BMW-M57 / , #Evolve remap, #Eisenmann Race exhaust with quad 90mm tips, #ZF / #ZF6HP standard six-speed automatic gearbox. 350hp, 500lb ft of torque

    CHASSIS 10.5x22” (front) and 12x22” (rear) Brada BR-1 wheels with 285/30 (front) and 335/25 (rear) Pirelli Scorpion Zero tyres, #KW-V3 coilover suspension (now replaced with air-ride), X5 M #Brembo four-pot callipers with 395mm discs (front)

    EXTERIOR X5 M front and rear bumpers, front wings, LED Adaptive headlights, 35% tints rear window/doors, 50% front doors, #BMW-Performance carbon fibre front lip, Vorsteiner rear carbon fibre diffuser, modified front and rear arches, paintwork sealed and protected with #Gtechniq C1 and Exo V2 coatings

    INTERIOR Royal Steering Wheels Nappa retrim, black gloss trim panel wrap, A-pillar mounted two-way speakers, CIC with Combox retrofit, custom fabricated Mosconi DSP controller in centre console, #Gladen-Audio Aerospace 28/80 components in A-pillars, #Gladen 201 Extreme underseat mid bass drivers, 2x SQX 10 Gladen subs, 2x Mosconi D2-100.4 amps, 2x Mosconi D2- 500.1 amps, #Mosconi 6to8 DSP, 3x XS Power XE12- 40 batteries, Sky High Car Audio cabling throughout, boot install trimmed in Alcantara

    THANKS Zane at Brada Wheels, Henning at Gladen Audio, Mak’s Retrofits


    I wasn’t going to bow down to the air-ride gods so I stayed static.

    I always had plans for the car, however, things went further than I initially imagined.
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    The Dark Knight #BMW E63 M6 / #BMW-E63 / #BMW-M6-E63 / #BMW-M6 / #BMW / #2012 / #BMW-6-Series / #BMW-6-Series-E63

    Matt Jones enjoys M6 ownership, but 6mpg and a maximum range of 125 miles is the trade off for 560bhp. The E63 M6 isn’t a car we tend to see at Total BMW, but Matt Jones uses his one as a daily driver and a quarter mile tool. In the midst of a recession, how does 6 mpg sound and 125 miles to a tank?

    The E63 M6 is a hugely underrated performance car. With 500bhp from a V10 that sounds like very little else on God's good earth, it has performance on the fringes of a Supercar level, to go with a sharp rear-drive chassis and a sometimes brutal semi-auto seven-speeder. Yet it has all the buttons and gadgets one could hope for and, with the M programme left dormant, is happy to mooch the city strassen or cruise the autobahn in refined comfort.

    Sure the E60 M5 has all that too. but it’s a confused soul - an out-and-out performance car character at odds with its laid back executive saloon remit. Besides, the M5 looks like any other 5-Series and. while that certainly is not without appeal, sometimes you want to turn heads and induce jealous thoughts.

    The M6, however, has the body style and more tightly-defined Sports GT remit to carry off the harsh SMG shifts and top-endy power delivery. It looks low. sleek and purposeful, weighs a good chunk less and has - childish yelp of glee - a carbon-fibre roof. Controversial maybe, but to these eyes the M6 is actually the better resolved package.

    Of course that's not to say it can’t be improved upon, as this matte black beasty very ably demonstrates. Owned by 31-year-old Matt Jones, serial modifier and previous owner of a PY E46 M3 Vert that had been given the CSL treatment, this car is a shining example of how to do an M6 right. So we're very lucky that Matt is incapable of resisting his urges...

    "Like the M3 I had specced this one exactly how I wanted and hadn't planned to modify it. It was so fast out of the box and had all the toys," he explains. "But literally the day I got it I went round to show my brother and the first thing he said was that it was too quiet! I said it'd be fine - but three weeks later I'd ordered the Eisenmann exhaust!" And that's how it started.

    Matt refers to aftermarket parts for the M6 as being subject to an M Tax', so to get round that he does his shopping in the US. "I went on holiday to America and had a load of stuff delivered to where I was staying, so I could then take it back as luggage. I had two suitcases full, one with engine bits and another with the H&R springs. I thought that if I got caught and had to pay the duty I’d still be up. But I got away with it and saved a fortune!"

    Clearly Matt wanted to release the M6's performance potential before anything else, and the combination of Evosport headers. Supersprint centre section and Eisenmann back-boxes. the suitcase purchases (RPI pulleys, induction scoops, block plates and oil-cooler, and BMC filters) and an E-maps remap established that potential to be 560bhp.

    He regularly enjoys every one of those horses, often going on trips abroad, having done the Cannonball run a few times, and taken it to Santa Pod. “The first time there it won its class, for muscle cars, as it had over eight cylinders." recalls Matt. "It went up against stripped-out, supercharged cars, whose owners were all playing around under the bonnet. I just turned up. turned the stereo off and went for it! ” Matt says it’ll do low-12s all day long. And 206mph. though we didn't dare ask where he confirmed such a number.

    This kind of performance does have its downsides, however. "The only thing I don't like is the range. The fuel tank is smaller than a normal 6-Series' because of the quad exhausts, and with fuel consumption of about 6-8mpg on a cruise (we'd hope a fast one, at least) I don’t get any more than 125 miles from a tank! I had 2mpg out of it once at Santa Pod." Ouch.

    Only when the performance was well and truly there did Matt turn his attentions to the car’s, then Silverstone Blue II. aesthetics. Carbon or black details gradually made their way onto the car, like the Vorsteiner carbon front spoiler (from America), rear diffuser (made by Matt himself) and those massive 20-inch three-piece splits. You can guess where they came from...

    “They’re made by a Florida company who are big on the Corvette scene, called Modular Concept. I had them custom- made and shipped over, and they’re the only ones in the UK”. To confirm their uniqueness, Matt then had them done with Silverstone centres and pin-stripes.

    With the theme of Silverstone Blue and either black or carbon, eventually the only chrome left was the tips of the four Eisenmann pipes. A trip to BCP Industrial Coatings had them finished in a heat- resistant matte black, and it was job done. Well, almost. “I drove the car around like that for about a year-and-a-half. It was a similar story to the M3 I got it exactly how I wanted it and then just enjoyed it for a while. However the time came when I started to think about replacements, but I couldn't find anything as quick for the same money." Plan B, then.

    "I’d looked at wrapping before, but at the time the cost was really high and the quality not quite there. Then prices came down and quality improved. The wrap was done by Totally Dynamic. The quality is amazing and since then four cars in my family have been wrapped by them!" Obviously the Silverstone Blue on the wheels then looked out of place, so Matt took them apart and sent them off to be gloss blacked.

    There was a change of tyre fitment, too. "It used to have stretched tyres but that didn't look right because it wasn't quite low enough to pull the look off, ' says Matt. "I've gone for a squarer setup now to give it a beefier look, and it does drive a lot nicer as a result - although I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I went from Falkens to Continentals.
    Saying that. I was rolling on the standard wheels recently and it drove a hundred times better again... it just doesn’t look as good!"

    The result of this all-black theme means some very obvious parallels being drawn - by everybody.

    “Everyone instantly started calling it the Batmobile when the wrap was done.’’ remembers Matt. "That’s the one comment I get all the time - people come up to me and say "That looks like the Batmobile!". I've had a lot of modded cars, but this is the most attention I’ve ever got from one: it gets a bit ridiculous sometimes!"

    One thing that Matt still isn't entirely convinced about is the smoked rear clusters, but it isn’t about their looks per se. "At night they look amazing, with just the four bars shining through, and they do suit the overall look. But it's the whole smoked light image.’’ Matt says they’ll be staying for now, but it sounds like the car won't be hanging around much longer anyway.

    "I’m looking at replacements again. I like the new M6. I've been up against a new MS and that walked my car, so the M6 is going to be ridiculous. But they've moved it up a price bracket and £110k for a well specced one is a lot of money for a BMW." Other options? A 911 GT3 is too extreme for the kind of use it'll get. And a 911 is a bit small for Matt's liking anyway, which rules out a Turbo. An Aston DB9 or Vantage is just too slow, as is a V8 R8, and V10 prices are a little steep. The only obvious choice is a Nissan GTR. which is what he's leaning towards - but still not entirely convinced about.

    "The thing I love about the M6 is that it's nice and quiet when you're cruising about, but then you press the M button and it’s crazy," is how Man sums it up. And there's the rub: when you have such an excellent car that does so much so well, finding a replacement is very difficult indeed. We don’t envy Matt and his predicament m the slightest, we really don't.

    Matt's M6 benefits from Evosport manifolds, and a blend of Supersprint and Eisenmann for the middle and rear sections.

    Above right: Modular Concept 5 three-piece wheels are 9j at the front and 11.5j out back-the latter calls for a 325 section tyre.

    TECHNICAL DATA
    ENGINE #S85 / #BMW-S85 4,999cc #V10 / #BMW-V10 , #RPI under-drive pulleys, RPI ram air induction scoops (custom finished in black with logos removed), #BMC air filters in OEM air boxes (with custom carbon covers), RPI block-off plates, RPI oil- cooler (30% more efficient) finished in black, #E-maps custom remap with speed limiter removed, #Evosport headers, #Supersprint centre-section and #Eisenmann Race back-boxes (powder-coated satin black)

    TRANSMISSION Standard seven-speed SMG gearbox, software upgraded to suit engine map

    SUSPENSION H&R Race springs. OEM electronic dampening remapped to suit H&R springs, Eibach 12mm spacers all-round

    BRAKES Standard with uprated pads

    WHEELS & TYRES Custom gloss black Modular Concept 5 three-piece split-rims in 9x20 (3.5-inch lip) front and 11.5x20 (5.5-Inch lip) rear fitment, with 285/35/20 front and 325/30/20 rear Continental Sport Contact 4s

    BODY Full matte black wrap including door shuts, treated with Swissvax opaque wax, #Vorsteiner carbon front splitter with weave to match roof, custom rear carbon diffuser panel, matte black kidney grilles, side grilles wrapped gloss black, gloss black rear M6 badge, matte black Audi R8 V10 badges on side windows, short rear number plate, rear lights tinted with smoked film, headlights tinted with light smoke Laminex film, angle eye upgrade with 6,000k bulbs

    INTERIOR Standard Silverstone extended leather. OEM iPod interface with custom ashtray- mounted holder, carbon trim. Logic 7 stereo

    THANKS Scott at Totally Dynamic in Enfield for the wrap (0208 2161116), Claude. Ben and the team at Bosch Auto Services in Hitchin (01462 459459). Kevin at BCP Industrial Coatings in Hitchin for the powder-coating (01462 440 804). Andy at Pristine Coachworks for the wheels, and M6board. com and Evotechnik.net

    Top right: Smoked lights are an undecided addition - the jury is still out on these.

    Above right: Modular Concept 5 three-piece wheels are 9j at the front and 11.5j out back-the latter calls tor a 325 section tyre.

    Top far left: Fuel stops are regular, with 125 miles to a lank being commonplace.
    Right: BMC air filters live inside the standard air boxes and the V10 has been remapped by E-maps.
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