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    FIRE LIGHT

    Shafique Bhimani’s E36 M3 has been on an extensive fitness programme, fusing the philosophy of BMW’s fi nest lightweights with properly capable road-and-track ability. This thing is fi t, legit, and fully lit… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.
    S54-swapped E36 M3 wide body bruiser

    The love child of a Euro-spec E46 M3 CSL and a #US-spec E36 M3 Lightweight. That was Shafique Bhimani’s over-arching vision for this Alpine white E36. Sound lofty? Ambitious? Unachievable? On paper, perhaps, but his clarity of perception has led to a unique creation that more than justifies the ‘CSL E36’ license plates.

    “I fell in love with the E36 M3 before I could even drive,” he enthuses. “It’s the car that took me into the deep end, and caused me to waste so much unproductive time learning about cars and modifying them! Something about the boxy, sharp lines that portrayed an aggressive yet elegant look - plus the fact that it punched above its weight and outperformed more powerful cars was hugely appealing. Once I learned of the E36’s DNA and how it came it to be from all of BMW’s motorsport history, I was hooked on the brand. BMW became my team, and you don’t just change teams.”

    Yes, we can fully understand that, and having got a bit of modifying practice in with a variety of other cars, Shafique felt that the time was right in 2009 to take the plunge and buy himself an E36 M3 of his very own. The example in the crosshairs had 54k on the clock and was in pristine condition… Oh, and it just so happened to have 380whp with a Vortech supercharger hanging off it. A quick once-over was all it took to get the grey cells banging together, and the lightweight concept was already forming in his mind – so shortly afterwards Shafique bought an ’07 335i as well, just to use as a daily driver so that there was no doubt as to the E36’s fate. This was going to be done properly, entirely without compromise and so, eyes open, he dove in.

    “For what these cars cost me, I could have easily purchased a heavily modified E46 M3, or even a new E92 M3 at that time,” he points out, “but I wanted to fulfil a dream I had held for so long. When time, money and opportunity presented themselves, all I wanted was a white, straight-six E36 M3.” Heart, we reckon, should always rule head. Life’s too short to let your dreams die.

    Shafique’s shopping list had been quite specific: the additional displacement of the 3.2-litre engine narrowed his search to ’96-’99 cars, and it had to be either Alpine white or Estoril blue – preferably the former, for the BMW Motorsport look. Forced induction was also preferable, whilst still being realistically streetable. This car, located in SoCal rather than his Bay Area hometown, ticked all the boxes. “It quickly became obvious, however, that I wouldn’t be able to exploit all that power on the street without risking either other people or my driving license, so I went on a track day at Sonoma Raceway and I was instantly hooked,” he recalls. “It was an eye-opening experience, and I realised the track was the safe, responsible playground for my car. I also quickly realised the car was not set up for track duty!” Coolant leaks and slipping belts convinced Shafique that his game needed tightening up, and he devoted time to wandering around the paddocks and seeing how the other gearheads approached things. And you know what he discovered? Big boost and stratospheric power levels were nobody’s main angle of attack – it was all about setup, usability, tactility, and durability. He felt very strongly that a naturally aspirated straight-six was the way to go. And what better choice than the E46 M3’s S54?

    With this seismic decision made, the E36 was shipped off to Castro Motorsport in Los Angeles to swap in the later motor, and subsequent setup was taken care of in painstaking increments by Dublin, CA-based Performance Technic. “We methodically upgraded each system of the car over the years, and today she is a fully-prepped track weapon that can be driven to and from the track with A/C and tunes blasting,” Shafique beams. “It’s my definition of an uncorrupted driving experience, front-engine/rear-drive, hydraulic steering, limited-slip diff, and a screaming straight-six.”

    So let’s take a closer look at just how this mighty spec has been achieved. This S54 produces a solid and reliable 341hp at the wheels, its stock internals being complemented by Epic Motorsport race headers and a custom Performance Technic 3.5” exhaust system, along with a Bimmerworld carbon-fibre air box. Thanks to some ones-and-zeroes tickling in the form of an RK-Tunes Alpha-N tune, power and reliability are both baked right in. It’s not scary-fast, it’s useably fast, and a lot of that swiftness is thanks to a favourable power-to- weight ratio. MCS two-way adjustable suspension and big StopTech brakes combine with a welded-in six-point half-cage with rear strut tower braces, while a rear seat delete, grippy Recaros and a tasty Renown USA steering wheel serve to create a fabulously focused office for Shafique.

    “My motto for the build has been to go fast, but look good doing it,” he says. “Function plus form. It was a team member from PTech who introduced me to the Felony Form overfender kit and, well… This is a sensitive subject for me: I love the OEM lines of a stock-body E36, they’re clean and simple, and more often than not aftermarket companies ruin what engineers spent millions to design. Over the years there have been a bunch of wide-body options, but I never loved any of them until I saw the Stanceworks feature on Oli’s yellow E36.

    After spending days staring at this kit, I was in love with the E30 M3-esque box flares in the rear, and the OEM-looking front flares. It’s exactly what I was waiting for, OEM on steroids! PTech handled the delicate task of cutting up and re-welding the factory arches to accommodate the flares and big wheels, and RJ’s Paint Shop in Pleasanton, CA did a fantastic job of paint-matching the factory Alpine White.”

    The form-and-function approach is very much in evidence from the outside, the Felony Form extensions blending in harmony with the M3 Lightweight aero addenda. The Lightweight, if you’re not familiar, was a limited-run E36 distinguishable by its tall rear spoiler, modified and lightened for motorsport purposes; the door skins were aluminium, there was no radio, carpets were thinner, speed limiter removed, revised axle ratios, forged wheels… It was as much of a legend Stateside as the iconic E46 M3 CSL was in Europe, and it’s the ethos of these two superlightweight factory-modded offerings that Shafique’s sought to emulate. This M3 now weighs 1440kg wet, and that includes the 40kg roll cage. This offers a power-to-weight ratio akin to a Lotus Elise, and remember that it still has a stereo and air con for the journey home.

    “The interior is a driver-centred style,” Shafique says. “‘Track setup’ was the priority, then adding what flair I could with the Alcantara steering wheel, armrest, and handbrake. There’s a #BMW Nav Pro head unit by Becker which offers the OEM navigation system only available in the Euro market, Bavsound speaker upgrade, and useful mods like a shift-light from MSD to help keep things in check; the car uses the factory E36 gauge cluster, the redline beginning at 6500rpm and going to 8000rpm, which has effectively become my power band - so having a light flash you in the face is very helpful during hot laps! And the CAE shifter from Hard Motorsport is epic – it transforms the shift feel to something very firm and notchy with zero slop, and the tall knob becomes especially fun on track when you are grabbing the wheel and gears back and forth.”

    It’s taken seven years for the car to get to this point, through its various stages of evolution, from schoolboy dream to hardcore track beast, and Shafique’s still making plenty of plans for it. Once you get this deep into a project, there’s just no pulling yourself out, even if you wanted to. Which, of course, he doesn’t, as he’s fully living the dream with this considered approach to road-and-track fireworks.

    With so much altered on the car, what do you suppose is his favourite element of the build so far, then? The S54 swap? Those wide three-piece Livery wheels? The unique arches, slathered in Alpine White? “No, I think the party piece is the induction roar,” Shafique smiles. “The S54 loves to rev, and combined with the carbon-fibre air box creates a deep roar that turns into a scream from 7-8k rpm, and no other engine on the planet sounds anything like it!” You see, this is a driver’s car. That’s the point of it. And when it enraptures all of the senses at once like this, you know the job’s been done right.

    DATA FILE #S54-swapped / #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-M3-Performance-Technic / #BMW-M3-Performance-Technic-E36 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-M3

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , stock internals, Bimmerworld carbonfibre air box, #Epic-Motorsports race exhaust manifolds, custom #Performance-Technic 3.5” exhaust system, #RK-Tunes #Alpha-N tune. #ZF five-speed manual gearbox rebuilt by #Bimmerworld , rebuilt OEM diff with 80% lock and 3.64 final drive, #Rogue finned diff cover

    POWER & TORQUE 341whp and 268lb ft wtq @ 8,200rpm redline (on 91RON fuel)

    EXTERIOR Alpine white, Felony Form wide-arch kit, M3 Lightweight front splitter, DTM #BMW-M3-FiberWerkz carbon fibre side skirt extensions, #Mateo-Motorsports rear diffuser, carbon fibre replica M3 Lightweight rear wing, roof vinyl-wrapped flat black, fog lamp delete

    INTERIOR #Recaro-SPG driver seat, Recaro PP passenger seat, Schroth sixpoint harnesses, Renown USA Alcantara and M-stitched steering wheel with quick-release, custom PTech rear seat delete, custom weld-in six-point half-cage painted flat black with subframe and strut tower reinforcements, sunroof cassette removed, custom black cloth headlining, MSD shift light, CAE shifter, RallyRoad.net Alcantara armrest and handbrake, custom PTech carbon-fibre shift plate

    THANKS Special thanks to Performance Technic, the team there has been so integral in bringing my build to where it is today
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    YELLOW – NOT MELLOW

    With 711whp, this turbo Phoenix yellow E46 M3 is a beast. Awesome 711whp M3 E46 Spectacular Stateside turbocharged #BMW-E46 . It may be in the love/hate Phoenix yellow hue but there’s nothing mellow about Kris Kolintzas’ 711whp E46 M3. Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Brad Sillars.

    Phoenix yellow is one of those love it or loathe it colours. When BMW proudly introduced the E46 M3 it was one of the most talked about features of the early cars, often overshadowing the amazing S54 engine or the finely-honed chassis. However, a few years down the line it’s been well-proven that with the right selection of modifications a Phoenix yellow M3 can be a treat to the eyes.

    One guy that’s known this from the start is Kris Kolintzas, a serial E46 M3 owner. The Chicago resident has spent the last nine years perfecting and improving his Phoenix M3. “I bought the car in the early spring of 2007,” explains Kris. “I purchased it from a private seller out in Tennessee. I’d already had two E46 M3s prior to this one but this was in mint condition with just over 20k miles on it. I chose this particular M3 because it was a rare colour that popped and not the same old boring silver or black BMWs you see everywhere here in the Midwest.”

    As the story so often goes, Kris began with a few simple enhancements and things soon spiralled out of control. The build even became something of a trendsetter in the Midwest. “My thoughts behind the modifications were that I just wanted it to be fast and different from what everyone else was doing,” Kris says. Of course, these days it’s that 711whp engine setup that really steals the headlines. “I was one of the first to supercharge an M3 in the Midwest and I was the first to convert to a turbo setup,” Kris proudly claims. He hasn’t done things by half either, utilising a Maximum PSI Stage 2 system.

    Mike Radowski, frontman and fabrication specialist at Maximum PSI, is a man wellknown in these pages. His 900whp+ E36 M3 drag car was featured in the magazine some time ago but his name is one that constantly comes up. And with good reason. The man is a genius when it comes to extracting huge, useable power from #BMW engines through turbocharging, and his turbo kits are simply the best you’ll find. “After falling in love with my turbo E36 I purchased a used 2002 E46 M3 with the sole intention of developing a production turbo kit for the platform,” Mike tells us. “We had worked with Technique Tuning on numerous custom builds and it was only logical to continue our partnership into the E46 kit as well. We spent way too long sorting out the kit trying to utilise the factory air box, and several other components that caused us more headaches than I care to remember. In the end we had a nicely performing turbo kit that would be able to pass a full OBD2 readiness test. We retained the cats and secondary air pump, and came in notably cheaper than the competition, while using high quality TIG welded and CNC’d components.

    “Our system is still the only turbo kit for the E46 M3 that we know of that utilises a remapped factory ECU. It has been continually refined over the past few years, and we now have over 50 Stage 1, 2, 3, and 4 kits in operation. We have a bunch of street cars and we have several drift cars including one of our Stage 4 kits. My personal car has made over 780whp on the stock ECU and has been turbocharged for 40k hard miles. It has ran a best quarter-mile time of 9.74secs at 145.9mph, making it the quickest E46 in the US. We will continue to push the envelope in the E46 platform, as well as the newer platforms as well. Keep an eye on our 2016 F80 M3 shop car for some results shortly, too!”

    Maximum PSI kits are completely bolt-on and, as Mike revealed, astonishingly they also manage the almighty power figures through tuning of the standard E46 M3 #Siemens-MSS54 ECU. The setup centres around a Precision 6266 turbo mounted on a Maximum PSI cast manifold and comes with everything required for fitment, down to interior gauges and wiring clips.

    Kris gave the task of fitting the kit to his good friend (and another ex-feature car owner) Stefan Sajic, front man of Zima Motorsports. “Kris’ car was dropped off to our HQ in Chicago with a nice whine coming from the supercharger,” explains Stefan. “He was looking for more power and substantially more torque so the Maximum PSI kit was the best solution. We worked closely with Kris to make sure everything he wanted in the car was installed perfectly for maximum performance.”

    The Stage 1 version of the kit is capable of running up to 500whp on ordinary pump fuel and 600whp on high octane. However, it was the Stage 2 that Kris opted for. It centres around mostly the same hardware, but adds even bigger injectors and one of the neatest aftermarket touches on the market: the ability to use the factory Sport button to switch between pump and race fuel maps.

    Using the aforementioned race fuel, Kris was able to push his car up to 711whp and 578lb ft of torque at 19psi of boost. An astonishing achievement and one that goes to prove the efficiency and performance of the Maximum PSI turbo kit. The internals of Kris’ S54 remain standard, just with the addition of coated rod bearings from Epic Motorsports and ARP rod bolts. All of that power fires through a South Bend Stage 3 clutch and the factory SMG gearbox, with the whole drivetrain mounted on Vibratechnics mounts.

    To complete the setup, Kris mated a Bimmerworld 3.5” race exhaust to the rear, the single pipe exiting through a matching carbon fibre diffuser. As you may have noticed, composite weave adorns much of the entire car. Just under the bonnet, in fact, that turbo’d S54 has been surrounded with the stuff. From a Horsepower Freaks vented engine cover to EAS and NVD carbon fibre accessories left right and centre, you’re never far from a chunk of the wonder-weave.


    The exterior is much the same – the carbon fibre works really well in contrast with the Phoenix yellow, and so Kris’ choice additions have made the car into something unique. Vorsteiner’s ever-popular range of parts for the E46 M3 has been utilised with the V-CSL front bumper, GTR bonnet and CSL bootlid all present in carbon fibre. They add a dose of aggression to the E46 and are backed up by a custom GTR rear bumper and yet more carbon fibre covering the headlight housings, pillar trims, mirrors, grilles and more. Umnitza lighting tops off the external mods that combine to make one good-looking E46 M3.


    The interior, meanwhile, is also carbon fibre covered and makes for a good looking and functional place to be. Kris’ car remains a road car and the interior reflects this. The rear half features a custom Zima Motorsports half roll-cage, with the nowredundant rear seats removed in favour of a carbon fibre seat delete piece. Up front the standard seats keep things comfortable, while the dashboard is a feast of carbon fibre and tech. The centre vents have been replaced by a custom carbon fibre bezel housing digital AEM gauges for AFR, oil pressure, fuel pressure and boost – important parameters when running such a modified engine setup. Carbon fibre then covers just about every surface possible, and it looks fantastic for it.

    The chassis setup on something with so much power is a hugely important part of the build. Keeping the comfort was a key part of things for Kris and so he carefully thought out a setup that would be suitable. It centres around the standard layout but uses Koni Sport shocks with a Ground Control height adjustable spring setup, camber-adjustable front top mounts and billet rear top mounts. Ground Control was also used for its anti-roll bars while, as you would expect, the rear subframe mounting points have been beefed-up. Finally, AKG Motorsports bushes all-round tie everything together.

    “The build is basically done,” Kris concludes. “I moved onto a 1972 2002 restomod build alongside the M3, and I’m now looking for another project to add to the stable.” There’s one thing for sure – if Kris puts as much time and care into his other projects then this won’t be the last time you’ll see him on these pages. His E46 M3 blends brilliant looks with brutal turbocharged performance. The colour may not be to everyone’s taste from the factory, but with Kris’s expert eye he’s transformed it into a machine that no one would dare to fault.

    I chose this particular M3 because it was a rare colour that popped.

    DATA FILE Turbo #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Turbo-E46

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 / , #ARP rod bolts, #Epic-Motorsports coated rod bearings, #Maximum-PSI-Stage-2 turbo kit (including #Precision-6466-turbo turbo, #Maximum-PSI cast turbo manifold, Maximum PSI/Driven Innovations intake manifold, #Tial MVR wastegate, Synapse diverter valve, front mounted intercooler, uprated spark plugs, big capacity fuel injectors, Walbro 485 fuel pump, 3.5” intake system with Green air filter, 304 stainless steel charge piping, 3” 304 stainless steel downpipe, fitting brackets and supports, SMG reservoir relocation kit, TurboSmart eBoost2 boost controller, AEM wideband O2 sensor, Technique Tuning mapping with switchable maps), Radium Engineering fuel rail, Bimmerworld 3.5” single pipe race exhaust with electronic cutout, #Vibratechnics engine mounts, #HPF carbon fibre vented engine cover, EAS carbon fibre engine accessories (cabin air filter cover and cap, DME cover, battery terminal cover, intake scoop, radiator cap, oil cap), NVD Autosport carbon fibre engine accessories (radiator support, oil filter cap, coolant tank). Six-speed #SMG gearbox, #South-Bend-Stage-3 clutch, Vibratechnics gearbox mounts, standard 3.62:1 final drive.

    CHASSIS 9.5x18” (front) and 10.5x18” (rear) #Apex #Apex-ARC-8 wheels with 265/35 (front) and 285/35 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, Koni Yellow Sport shocks front and rear with Ground Control adjustable springs, Ground Control camber-adjustable front top mounts, Ground Control rear top mounts, #Ground-Control anti-roll bars, reinforced rear subframe mounting points, AKG Motorsports front control arm bushes, #AKG-Motorsports rear trailing arm bushes, #AKG Motorsports subframe bushes, AKG Motorsports differential bushes, 345mm ZCP front discs with Brembo four-piston calipers from Porsche 996 911, standard rear brakes.

    EXTERIOR Factory Phoenix yellow paintwork, Vorsteiner carbon fibre GTR bonnet, Vorsteiner carbon fibre CSL bootlid, Vorsteiner CSL front bumper with single piece carbon fibre splitter, custom GTR rear bumper by FMU, Bimmerworld carbon fibre diffuser, EAS carbon fibre trim (headlight housing inserts, door handles, mirrors, kidney grilles, side grilles), carbon fibre fuel tank flap, carbon fibre B-pillar trims, carbon fibre and colour coded roundels front and rear, carbon fibre M3 badge, Umnitza 6000k angel eyes, Umnitza 6000k headlights, LED indicators, LED numberplate bulbs, smoked taillights, 20% window tint all-round including windscreen.

    INTERIOR Custom Zima Motorsports roll-cage, carbon fibre rear seat delete, custom carbon fibre bezel unit for AEM digital gauges (AFR, oil pressure, fuel pressure, boost), EAS carbon fibre components (SMG paddles, interior trim panels, steering wheel trim panels, pedals, steering column cover), NVD Autosport carbon fibre components (seat backs, seat rail covers, SMG knob, centre console, door sill trims).
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