- Post is under moderationROLLOFACE E92 M3
Hardcore wide-body bruiser
Rolloface isn’t one of those companies that will just rush to market with fresh, untested ideas. Sure, this isn’t the first wide-body E92 you’ve seen, but years of development have ensured that it’s one of the best… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Viktor Benyi.
Rolloface wide-body E92 M3
Performance Through Precision’. That’s the company mantra of Rolloface, and it’s one that neatly dovetails with BMW’s own ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’. This is a relatively new company on the scene, establishing itself in the performance aftermarket back in 2012 and putting in a solid few years of R&D before unleashing some frankly staggering hardware into the eager grasp of well-heeled enthusiasts. Its big brake kits are phenomenally effective, the forged wheels are pretty spectacular, and this latest E92 wide-body kit is a brutal work of art. ‘We take immense pride in what we do, just like you,’ asserts the company mission statement. ‘Let’s roll.’
So yes, let’s. The car you see before you effectively draws together the best and brightest of the Rolloface product line-up and allows it to coalesce into one supersharp, laser-sighted racer-for-the-road. Because, while it’s a formidable machine, if you thought the E92 M3 was good enough in factory-stock form, you’re probably reading the wrong magazine.
“The wide-body kit took three years to develop,” says company founder Ken Ho. “We started out with hand sketches, then computer renderings, moving onto clay renderings before, finally, production fibreglass items. We wanted a smoother look than you find with other wide-body kits too, so there are no exposed bolts here; instead, everything’s neatly moulded to the swage line.” The RF GT3 kit comprises front and rear bumpers, front wings and rear quarter panels, vented bonnet, and boot spoiler, with the option of adding various splitters and aero add-ons; indeed, Ken’s proud to say that the design offers genuine downforce, rather than merely looking race car mean.
It’s been extensively tested on track, and offers impressive high-speed stability. This, then, is a track car that just happens to be a road car too. For while the widebody kit is a flawlessly-fitting and genuinely functional piece of work, this is very far from simply being a bunch of fiberglass bolted to an otherwise standard M3. When it comes to company demonstrators, it’d be nuts not to go all-in. “This is our R&D test mule, really,” Ken explains. “And the body is just part of that…”
It only takes a cursory glance beneath those engorged, glossy arches to see just how in-depth the project became. Most obvious under there is the set of forged 19” wheels – Rolloface’s own ZR-1 design, a three-piece split-rim that exudes menace and purpose in equal measure. The specs are all customisable, as you’d expect, and in this instance the M3’s wearing a square setup that’s rocking 12” of width apiece. Which is bonkers, frankly – have you ever seen an E9x running 12s on the front axle? It’s just as well that Ken’s smoothed on such broad bodywork…
This volume of surface area allows a fairly robust contact patch, something Ken’s capitalised on with the deployment of sticky Toyo R888s to maximise the advantage of all that downforce; whereas many RWD hooligans like to kick the tail out and make some smoke, this M3 is all about grip and precision. And with supercar-aping 305- section rubber, there’s certainly plenty of adhesion to be found.
Peeping through the spokes of those ZR-1s, you’ll spot Rolloface’s trump card: those mighty brakes. Again, we’re looking at something that was the subject of years of research and development before the firm was happy to unleash them, and their performance reflects this. The discs are floating two-piece items measuring 380mm all-round, while the calipers are fully forged and sport eight-pistons up front, with six at the rear. With the wheel widths and disc sizes being the same front and back, this is the sort of setup you don’t normally find on cars like this, but it’s evidently all fit for purpose, as its extensive research will attest.
Like the wheels, these brakes are also nearinfinitely customisable and built to your own specs (a three-week delivery time is the trade-off for both performance and uniqueness) and you can even spec the calipers and disc centres in such fancy finishes as Candy Brass, Sparkle Burgundy, camouflage, two-tone fades, you name it. Form and function, working fluidly.
Now, it might seem a bit of a leap to compare this car with a Lotus, but there is one kernel of wisdom from ol’ Colin Chapman’s legacy that fits this build like a glove: ‘Simplify, then add lightness’. Ken and his team have managed to dump an impressive 180kg from the E92’s kerb weight via the brutal and uncompromising method of tearing everything out of the interior and throwing it in the bin. The dash has been replaced by a simple and sophisticated carbon fibre item which was customfabricated by GruppeM (who you might assume is a German firm; it’s actually Japanese), and everything beyond that is, well… missing. No carpets, no soundproofing, no interior trim panels – there’s a pair of bucket seats with harnesses, a meaty green half-cage with harness bar, and that’s about it. Oh, and if you look inside the boot you’ll spot the mighty bracketry for that formidable APR wing.
‘Aggressive’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. With so much weight being shorn, Chapman’s ghost will be mollified that Rolloface didn’t see fit to monkey about with the motor too much. The S65 bent-eight wears a carbon fibre GruppeM intake and a custom titanium exhaust system, but is otherwise stock; the guys estimate it has around 450hp, and every one of those horses makes itself heard with a sonorous bark through those exotic pipes. It’s all it needs to be, and with so much mechanical grip it’s not as if Ken’s frivolously wasting power by spinning the rears up and shimmying the tail on every corner. This thing just points, squats, and goes. And then stops, obviously. Because the brakes are massive.
What’s perhaps most impressive about this car is that, while it’s unashamedly touted as a development car, its fit-and-finish is sufficiently flawless to allow it to happily sit on a show stand and have the crowds gasping with delight. It’s a clear embodiment of the ethos of those customisable brake components, the E92 acts as evidence that you can have form and function in equal, forceful measure. The suspension likes to elbow its way to the front at this point too, as the car’s running a full Air Lift Performance setup.
Any of those naysayers who reckon air-ride is for posers and serious drivers run coilovers may now bitterly eat their collective hats. With the amount of testing this car’s done, it’s pretty safe to say that airbags are up to the task of deploying and controlling whacking great gobs of grunt. BMW’s own power output has only been marginally tickled here, but Rolloface’s reimagining of the M3 platform proves that all that power was pretty much enough, and the way to amp the thing up is to strip out some mass and find means to get the power down more efficiently. All very old-skool thinking. Right, Ken? “Well, actually we’re looking to turbocharge it next,” he grins.
Honestly. Some people don’t know when to stop, do they? We get the feeling that three years of R&D is just the beginning for these guys – who knows how insane this M3 may become in the future? All the signs are pointing toward the answer being ‘really quite insane indeed’, but there’s one thing we can be totally sure of: it’ll be looking utterly flawless throughout. Performance through precision? Yep, that ties it up in a neat little bundle. Rolloface’s story is only just beginning.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Rolloface / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW-M3-Rolloface / #BMW-M3-Rolloface-E92 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body-E92 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-E92 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 , #GruppeM carbon fibre intake, custom titanium exhaust system (de-catted when on track), six-speed manual gearbox, est 450hp
CHASSIS 12x19” (front & rear), #Rolloface-ZR-1 three-piece forged wheels with 305/30 (front & rear) Toyo R888 tyres, Air-Lift-Performance-3H air-ride, #Rolloface-SR-C-BBK with eight-pot (f) & six-pot (r) forged calipers with 380mm two-piece floating discs, Pagid-RS pads
EXTERIOR #Rolloface-RF-GT3 wide-body kit comprising front & rear bumpers, front wings, rear quarter panels, vented bonnet, boot spoiler, carbon fibre side skirts, carbon fibre front splitter, adjustable #APR-GT-50 rear wing
INTERIOR Stripped full carbon fibre dash, Recaro driver seat with Sparco harness, Rolloface passenger seat with Takata harness, green half-cage, rear wing mounts in boot floor
“This is our R&D test mule really and the body is just part of that…”
“We wanted a smoother look than you find with other wide-body kits”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSIMPLE PLEASURES Finely-honed 400hp 1M
Man, machine, open roads, fulfilment. That’s pretty much the formula for happiness, is it not? Ah, if only life were so simple… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Peter Wu.
All you really need to know is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it’s pretty damn complicated in the first place.’ So wrote Douglas Adams, and he was a man of sufficient wisdom to have a decent handle on such matters; the world and everything in it (not to mention all the things outside of it) are so mind-numbingly crammed with incomprehensible minutiae that when you start to consider the logic of anything beyond what you’re having for dinner or which Kardashian’s up the duff this week, it can get a little overwhelming. What we need is simplicity. Clarity. Binary black-and-whiteness. And in the case of this crisp and clinical 1M, simplicity is exactly what you get.
It is what it is, and nothing more – no complexity, no ambiguity, just a snapshot… …except, no, that’s not actually the case at all. It’s a cunning illusion, an exercise in smoke-and-mirrors shadow play. “Many people can’t tell what came with the car and what I’ve added,” says owner Manu Sethi.
“I take that as a compliment, because the goal was to always keep the car looking OEM, even after such heavy modifications.” Part of this is thanks to the obscurity of the 1M itself, of course – they’re such a rare sight that most onlookers don’t know what they’re seeing in the first place, let alone that it’s a rambunctiously tweaked example. And this is all just the latest in a long line of BMW affection for Manu. “I’ve had a love for BMWs all my life,” he enthuses. “My first car was an E36 M3 – I had to take two jobs to afford that car, and I was happy to do it. I had a smile on my face every day I drove it! And I’ve gone through a number of BMWs along the way, from 3 Series to 7 Series. I have a deep love for the brand. My next BMW will surely be a European Delivery, it’s been an unfulfilled dream for far too long.”
Manu’s is a bona fide success story, going from those early days of working two jobs to afford the used car he desired to the present day situation that finds him with a gleaming new Lamborghini Huracán on his drive, bullishly flanked by his Audi R8 V10 and his Mercedes E-Class. But while it’s simple enough to stroll into a Lambo dealer and pick up the latest exotic ride, tracking down something as obscure as a 1M isn’t quite so easy…
“I bought the car brand-new in 2011 and, like most 1Ms, it was not an easy find,” he recalls. “I got lucky, really – I drove all the way out to Las Vegas to get mine; the dealer was initially allocated eight cars and ended up only getting two! I was fortunate enough to buy one of them – number 88 out of North America’s allocation of 740. The model was rare to begin with, and its scarcity is only increasing. From day one my car has garnered plenty of attention. Leaving the gym one time, a guy said to me ‘Is that a 1M? How the hell did you get a 1M? You must’ve had to sell your left nut!’ Lucky for me that was not the case!”
Manu’s right when he says that the scarcity of 1Ms is increasing – global economic instability has seen people investing in cars like never before over the last half-decade or so, and anything that fuses quality and desirability with lowvolume obscurity is firmly in the crosshairs of the speculators. More than a few 1Ms have been wrapped up in cotton wool and locked away in private collections, making the disheartening shift from driver’s plaything to investor’s cash cow. Thankfully, however, some people bought them because they actually wanted to use them. And in Manu’s case, that was only the beginning.
“I was excited by the idea of the project,” he says. “I wanted to make a limited car even more limited. But I bided my time to ensure everything was right; I waited two years before I hit the mods hard. The idea was to wait until every aftermarket company released parts for the 1M, and then pick and choose what I thought was the best. As you can see, the build list comprises many different brands. No compromises were made. The BMW Performance seats are a case in point: by the time I was ready to make the purchase, I was notified that they had been discontinued. It was a struggle to locate a brand-new set but the project wouldn’t have been complete without them. After an exhaustive search I got the very last set and they were worth every penny.”
Manu’s approach is founded in a refreshingly honest appraisal of the car, one which may be anathema to some of you but will resonate strongly with the values of others: that the 1 Series isn’t exactly a looker. That’s not to say it’s a fugly mess by any means but it’s arguably not as cohesive as, say, an E9x – the swoop and flow of the bonnet into the wings, the banana-shaped sills, to some eyes it all seems a bit fairground. To others, naturally this suggests brilliant uniqueness and visual drama, and we’re not going to argue with that either. It’s all about perspective.
“The M division definitely helped out with the looks on the 1M, but still there was a lot lacking,” reckons Manu. “In modifying the car, I paid attention to the existing lines and made sure to stay consistent with them. For example, the flat-bottom, half curved headlights were specifically designed with the lines of the car in mind. Similarly, the Revozport bonnet, the radial stripes on the tyres, and the BBS FIs were also chosen to complement the curves on the car.” This is all in-keeping with his optical-illusion approach, he’s basically just toying with people’s perceptions. It works brilliantly.
The game plan wasn’t purely aesthetic, either. Manu was keen to build on the mighty drivetrain of the 1M to create something that’d truly earn its place in his stable of supercars; as such, the feisty N54 now sports freer-flowing Akrapovic pipes, a GruppeM intake, a Forge intercooler, and various other natty little tricks in order to crank that peak performance figure up to something that begins with a four. And while he has almighty respect for the M Division’s chassis-honing abilities, you’ll find a certain forthright reworking underneath the skin too, principally in the form of Öhlins Road & Track coilovers and a Brembo Type III bigbrake upgrade.
“I definitely hit a few hurdles in the course of the build,” Manu admits. “Even though I went with top-notch brands, things still went wrong. You have to expect this when you’re dealing with aftermarket modifications! It’s part of the journey. Through the process I gained a lot of knowledge of the 1M and cars in general; moreover, I forged invaluable relationships along the way. At the end of the day, you’re dealing with people. Sometimes products don’t fit or perform like they should but what makes a company great is the people that stand behind it – that’s what you pay extra for, the service.
“The 1M really is a fun little pocket rocket, but practical at the same time. The rear seats can comfortably fit two and the boot is spacious; I don’t use the car as my daily driver but I certainly don’t baby it either – it goes on the canyons and on the track. It’s a hoot to drive! At times it can be scary, unforgiving even, but it’s always a thrill. It’s the immense amount of torque attached to a short wheelbase that makes it a hooligan!”
Mission accomplished, then – Manu’s created a perky little foil to the biggerbrother supercars, and achieved his goal of tricking the eye of many an onlooker. While the 1M may look relatively stock to the casual observer, the robust spec list certainly suggests otherwise. So where does he go from here? “Oh, one is always tweaking to achieve perfection,” he says, a twinkle in his eye and a mischievous grin curling the corners of the mouth. “I have some plans, just wait and see.” We guess we’ll be needing to keep an eye on his Instagram page (@msethi88). This illusion of simplicity could soon break whole new realms of complexity.
“I wanted to make a limited car even more limited”
“The build list comprises many brands. No compromises were made”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-1M-Coupé-E82 / #BMW-1M / #BMW / #BMW-E82 / #BMW-1-Series-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1M-E82 / #N54B30TO / #N54B30 / #N54 / #BMW-N54 / #BMW-1M-Coupé-E82
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twinturbo N54B30TO, #GruppeM intake, #Forge intercooler, Forge dump valves, #Evolution-Racewerks chargepipe, full stainless steel #Akrapovic exhaust system with cat-less downpipes, BMS oil catch can, #Cobb-V3 with #PTF custom map, six-speed manual gearbox. 400hp
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #BBS / #BBS-FI-R forged alloys with 255/35 (front) and 275/35 (rear) Michelin Pilot Supersport tyres, MRG titanium race studs, M valve caps, Öhlins Road & Track coilovers, Brembo-Type-III-BBK / Brembo
EXTERIOR Revozport carbon fibre bonnet, OSS DTM headlights, lightweight carbon fibre front lip, Dinmann carbonfibre side skirts, Vorsteiner carbon fibre diffuser, BMW carbon fibre spoiler, BMW carbon fibre mirror caps, BMW Blackline tail-lights, Macht Schnell tow straps, XPEL clear wrap protectant film and stripes, WeissLicht LED indicators
INTERIOR #BMW-Performance pedals and footrest, LED interior lights, BMW electronic #Performance-V2 steering wheel, illuminated gear knob, BMW Homelink/Compass rearview mirror, BMW Euro visors, M handbrake handle, BMW Performance seats, Euro foglight switch enabled, carbon fibre centre console, Euro MDMStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSMOOTH OPERATOR
12 years of ownership have resulted in one gorgeous E46. It’s traditional after 12 years of marriage to celebrate your silk anniversary, so it’s fitting that 12 years of ownership have resulted in one super-smooth E46. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Petrie
Ah, the E46. What a great car, both to own and drive. It’s arguably one of BMW’s best efforts on all fronts. It’s also a great way to get your first taste of modified car life, a nice way to ease yourself into the scene gently and take things slowly while you find your feet, right? Well not for 27-year-old New Jersey resident Jorge Hernandez. Not only is this awesome build is his first BMW, or even his first modified car; it’s both of those things, as it’s his first ever car. It’s not that he’s just learnt to drive, though, he’s actually owned this E46 330i for 12 years!
“I was first made aware of how special BMWs were when my cousin came home with his brand-new car: a Techno violet E36 M3,” explains Jorge. It clearly made a big impression on the young man. “Since then I knew I had to have a BMW,” he says. However, as a four-door fan, with no E46 M3 Saloon available, Jorge ended up buying a blue E46 330i Saloon in 2004.
While he was well aware of the modified car scene at that time, he had no clear vision for his E46. Flick through a 2004 issue of PBMW and you’ll see that the modified BMW scene was a very different, and rather scary, place back then. It was full of outrageous body kits and dubious styling mods that have, thankfully, long since been forgotten about. It was a world that needed some careful navigation to avoid creating a car that would end up looking like a mobile eyesore. Luckily, help was at hand in the shape of the E46Fanatics forum and after some quality time spent online, Jorge soon began to form a clearer picture of the direction he wanted to take his E46 in.
One thing he’s not done much with over the past 12 years is the engine. “I always wanted to keep the motor semi-stock as I’m not a big speed freak,” he explains. “I just wanted to do all of the little bolt-ons to make a little quicker it and sound better.”
That sounds pretty modest but Jorge’s chosen some really choice mods under the bonnet and he’s definitely not scrimped on quality with his selection of engine upgrades. To start, there’s an extremely sexy GruppeM carbon fibre intake and a set of Technik Gen 3 equal-length exhaust manifolds, which most definitely give the E46 a bit more power and ramp up the volume level of that glorious straight-six.
And the whole lot is topped off with a Remus Powersound quad exhaust that really looks the part and sounds fantastic, too. The engine bay itself has been treated to a whole host of carbon fibre goodies, including a Radenergie strut brace and engine cover plus an EAS carbon ECU cover and oil filler cap.
On the styling front this E46 delivers big time. Jorge has done an awesome job here and he’s definitely achieved his goal of creating a car that looks both clean and aggressive. “I feel like everything has to flow in a particular way, and that meant mixing and matching the pieces from a bunch of different companies,” he says. PBMW regular, Autocouture Motoring, was entrusted to work its magic and fit Jorge’s array of parts.
We really have to talk about the bonnet, not just because it’s a Vorsteiner GT-R carbon fibre item, which makes it pretty special, but also because of the paint finish on it. Where some people might choose to leave their vents unpainted, exposing the carbon core of the bonnet, Jorge has had the whole lot painted but the slats of the vents themselves have been finished in a crazy rainbow flake blue that looks spectacular when it catches the light and which really makes the vents pop. The front bumper is an M Tech 1 item from the pre-face-lift Sport E46, and while it’s not as aggressive as the latter version it’s got a much smoother, fatter, fuller look that a lot of people prefer.
It ties in perfectly with the face-lift styling, too. The bumper has been enhanced with the addition of a Rieger front lip that’s been blended into the bumper for a cleaner look. The mirrors are genuine AC Schnitzer items and are complemented by a Schnitzer roof spoiler while the sculpted side skirts are Hamann GT-R items. At the back, there’s a Euro-spec carbon fibre CSL bootlid, which looks great on the Saloon, and an SRS-Tec rear bumper with a dual-ribbed diffuser plus space for the quad tips of that Remus exhaust. Jorge’s also had the body mouldings colour-coded and fitted Euro turn signals all-round.
The interior has been left alone. “I think BMW did it right,” says Jorge, but one area that has been improved is the audio as the stock system is pretty disappointing unless you or someone else ticked the Harman Kardon upgrade box on the options list. Up front, there’s a Kenwood double-DIN DDX371 headunit, while in the boot you’ll find a JL Audio 500/1 amp and 12w6v2 sub plus a Stinger capacitor, all mounted in a custom enclosure which has been painted body colour and features a suede-wrapped floor and side panels.
So the styling is well and truly sorted, but it’s no good having a killer car if you don’t have the wheels to match. Fear not, Jorge’s choice for the E46 is awesome. “I’ve always been a fan of having wheels that you don’t see often,” he says. “I was offered a sponsorship by Rotiform and it had exactly what I wanted: a set of SJCs.” This bold, intricate wheel is the perfect choice to sit alongside that strong blue paint and Jorge opted for the forged multi-piece design in a brushed finish and mirror polished stepped lips. The wheels – 9x19” and 10x19” front and rear respectively – really suit the E46 well and the decision to keep them unpainted was definitely the right one as they really stand out. Plus the brushed finish looks so good. The Rotiforms have been teamed up with a stud conversion kit which has been topped-off with a set of neochrome wheel nuts. Beyond the spokes sit some bright yellow Porsche 996 911 calipers and a set of CSL discs.
Jorge has also sorted the suspension and there’s actually a lot more going on here than meets the eye. The drop in ride height comes courtesy of a set of Broadway Static coilovers but then there are the H&R anti-roll bars, the Turner Motorsport adjustable endlinks, the Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts and, finally, the Bimmerworld camber arms. Jorge’s clearly put a lot more thought into his suspension setup than most do and this combination has not only given this E46 that all-important visual drama but also sharpened-up the handling no end, making it far more than just all about the looks.
It’s rare to meet someone on the modified #BMW scene who has owned their car for this long but it’s refreshing to see. And aside from planning to swap the Steptronic gearbox for a six-speed manual, it looks like Jorge’s reached a point where he’s happy and the modifying will stop. For the time being, at least. And who wouldn’t be happy with this E46? It’s a fantastic-looking car with a lot of great details and it’s an incredibly satisfying point for Jorge to be at after over a decade of modifying.
Above: 19” Rotiform SJCs with brushed centres and Porsche 911 brake kit. Right: JL amp and sub add a bit more bass to musical proceedings.
DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330i / #BMW-330i-E46 / #Rotiform / Steptronic / #Technik / #BMW-3-Series-Sedan / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , #Technik-Gen-3 headers, #GruppeM carbon fibre ram-air intake, #Radenergie carbon fibre strut brace and carbon fibre engine cover, #EAS carbon fibre ECU cover, air filter cover and oil cap, #Remus-Powersound quad exhaust. Five-speed #Steptronic gearbox
CHASSIS 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) Rotiform-SJC wheels with brushed centres, 215/35 (front) and 255/30 (rear) tyres, Broadway Static coilovers, H&R anti-roll bars, Turner Motorsport adjustable endlinks, Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts, Bimmerworld camber arms, Porsche 996 Carrera Brembo BBK, OEM E46 M3 CSL floating discs
EXTERIOR #Vorsteiner-GT-R carbon fibre bonnet, M Tech 1 front bumper with moulded Rieger lip, #AC-Schnitzer mirrors, #Hamann GT-R side skirts, painted body mouldings, Euro turn signals, AC Schnitzer roof spoiler, Euro-spec carbon fibre CSL bootlid, SRS-Tec rear bumper with dual ribbed diffuser
INTERIOR Brushed aluminium trim, Kenwood DDX371 head unit, JL Audio 12w6v2 sub, JL Audio 500/1 amp, Stinger capacitor, custom enclosure painted body colour with floor and side panels wrapped in suedeStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHE COLOUR OF MAGIC
Colour plays a big part when it comes to any car, and this perfectly modified E46 M3 is resplendent in Atlantis blue.
Striking in Atlantis blue, this E46 M3 delivers as complete a package as you could ever want. Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: Sunny Ryait
Cast your mind back to cars of the ’70s (or pictures of them if, like me, you weren’t alive back then). While there did seem to be a lot of gold and brown going on, there was also a lot of colour and it seemed that both people and manufacturers were much braver when it came to the hue of their motors. And we don’t mean wild colours for wild cars, like the American muscle cars of the time; we’re talking about things like Inca orange on 02s and Taiga green on E12s. Okay, the Valencia orange 1 Series is most definitely a thing (I drive one myself) but can you imagine a green F10? It is, therefore, rather refreshing to discover cars that aren’t shy about standing out and owners that aren’t shy about owning them.
And that leads us nicely to Nadeem Ahmed and his E46 M3. It’s Atlantis blue, we all know it’s Atlantis blue but really it’s turquoise. Tell someone you drive a turquoise car and you’ll probably meet with a reaction of raised eyebrows and a polite but slightly hesitant and questioning ‘Oh…?’ Tell a BMW enthusiast that you’ve got an Atlantis M3 and you’ll probably get a nod of the head, a lightly pursed lip of approval and a ‘Yeah, nice.’ In fact, you might be looking at Nadeem’s E46 M3 and thinking exactly that because it is very nice. And that Atlantis blue exterior is wrapped around an equally nice interior. It’s always a bit disappointing to peer into a sexy car and be greeted by a vast expanse of black leather. Fine if you like that sort of thing but it’s a bit, well, dour. But Nadeem’s E46 M3 is rocking an interior bursting with creamy goodness and it offers the perfect calming antidote to the striking exterior.
Considering this car represents one quarter of his current BMW crop, he’s poured as much love into it as you might expect someone running one as a solo project to do. Nadeem bought his first #BMW , a ’98 318i, from a rude dealer to prove a point but despite the unfortunate circumstances, the BMW ticked all the boxes it needed to and a string of Bavarian metal followed, including this one, which was an impulse buy. As far as impulse buys go, that’s pretty impressive. “I’d always said that if I ever found a manual Atlantis blue #BMW-E46 M3 with a Champagne interior, I would buy it,” he explains. “One day I was just going through Auto Trader for no particular reason and I found it! It was only described as blue and from the pictures I was guessing it was Atlantis and that was enough for me to start a three-hour road trip which resulted in me sealing the deal!”
Colour aside, the car wasn’t in great shape. It had resided in a village in the middle of nowhere and clearly hadn’t been looked after but the engine was sound, a big bonus and even the tiny crack in the rear subframe that was discovered during a pre purchase inspection that Nadeem insisted on wasn’t enough to put him off. “It was such a rare car with all factory options (including a rear electric sunblind) that I decided to buy the car and hoped I would get a good will repair from BMW for the subframe… which I did eventually!”
Car purchased, he embarked on an impressively comprehensive tuning programme covering pretty much every aspect of the M3. Nadeem began with some styling modifications, fitting OEM LED rear lights, smoked front #Depo indicators and new #Bosch headlight lenses himself. Next on the list was a Meisterschaft exhaust with DTM tips and a set of BMW Performance sixpot front calipers mated to #BMW-M3-CSL discs and braided brake lines, with a set of Brembo four-pot rear calipers added later on and sprayed yellow to match the fronts. He’s had the side repeaters removed and replaced with LED indicator strips and added illuminated #BMW-M3 badges on the side vents. On the suspension front you’ll find a set of PSS9 coilovers, refurbished by Bilstein prior to being fitted, which offer plenty of adjustment for both damping and ride height.
And the M3’s ample arches were filled with a set of rather rare rims. “I have always favoured AC Schnitzer alloys,” he explains, “but I chose the #Racing-Dynamics alloys this time because of their rarity. As I had an individual #BMW-M3-E46 in a rare colour, I also wanted it to have alloys which you would hardly see on any other car, and the staggered setup with really deep rear dishes was perfect. I purchased them from the wheel man himself, Raj of Fullhouse Customs; however, when Dips from Custom Cars was refurbing them prior to giving them to me, he found out that one alloy had a buckle in it. Raj offered me a full refund but I decided to keep them as I would never find another set (I’ve still not seen another set!). I had the wheel professionally repaired by a company in High Wycombe and I’m absolutely over the moon with them.”
Indeed, the 19” Racing Dynamics RD2s are very rare on pretty much anything and trying to find a set is a venture that requires time, patience and money. The RD2s look great on the E46 M3, with lots more dish than you might expect from a single-piece wheel and the Dolphin grey centres are a nice touch.
The wheels measure 9” wide up front and a beefy 11” at the rear but the E46 M3 arches were capacious enough to see Nadeem chuck a set of 15mm spacers up front and 12mm ones at the rear to bring them out and give the car a nice aggressive stance.
We’ve already touched on the interior, so let’s go back and touch it some more. The Champagne leather was already there, and Nadeem has spiced things up with the addition of a pair of extremely sexy #Recaro-Sportster-CS seats, which add a real sense of drama to proceedings. The standard M3 seats are really good, no question about it, but you can always go one better and if you can throw in something that’s going to get some attention, then why not? “The interior was easy,” he says. “I had decided on OEM CSL seats but they are hard to come by, so I found a set of Recaro Sportster CS seats from a Lotus dealer who was closing down and had some Lotus Evora bits to offload! So I ordered up some Macht Schnell side mounts and got the seats trimmed to match the Champagne interior. I love them!” In addition to the seats there’s a full LED lighting conversion, an Intravee and Alpine system for iPod compatibility and a Storm Motorwerks titanium gear knob and matching sat nav buttons.
After the initial flurry of mods, Nadeem handed the car over to Dips at Custom Cars to take things up a notch. The car received a full same-colour respray to get it looking fresh as the Dickens, though there were some problems, as Nadeem explains: “Dips told me that my car had every shade of Atlantis blue on the panels and we had to decide which shade to respray the car in. He eventually discovered that the Bluetooth shark fin on the roof was the only bit with the original shade and that was used to choose the respray colour shade!” A CSL bootlid was fitted with the lip blended in to expose a strip of carbon fibre. Hamann-style front foglight surrounds were also fitted and filled in for a CSL/Vorsteiner look. A #BMW-M3-CSL-E46 carbon splitter was fitted and blended in, exposing just a sliver of carbon fibre as with the boot and was joined by a set of Vorsteiner carbon skirts as well as a CSL carbon diffuser and a set of H&R anti-roll bars to further sharpen the handling plus an AC Schnitzer short-shift with #UUC-DDSR . It’s taken Nadeem two years to get to this stage and while you might think that he’s happy with where the car is at, his long list of mods he wishes he could do and the ones he’s still planning on doing say otherwise.
“I am planning on getting Dips to fit a Champagne extended leather dashboard which I already have, some three-piece 19” Racing Dynamics RS2s with copper dishes and copper bolts (deeper dishes are currently being custom-made in the USA for these), an Evolve carbon air box with the remap and a resonated Supersprint centre pipe… and then I think I might be done!” These plans will push what is already an eye-catching and impressively modified M3 to the next level and it sounds like it’s going to be a stunning machine.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 , #GruppeM induction kit, #Meisterschaft exhaust with DTM tips. Six-speed manual gearbox with #AC-Schnitzer short-shift and #UUC DSSR, #Driftworks lightweight flywheel.
CHASSIS: 8x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) #Racing-Dynamics RD2 alloys with 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Continental tyres. #Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, #H&R antiroll bars (front and rear), #BMW-Performance six-pot front calipers with custom brackets, CSL discs, braided brake lines, Porsche Boxster four-pot #Brembo rear calipers with custom brackets, new discs, braided brake lines.
EXTERIOR: Full respray, carbon fibre CSL bootlid with exposed carbon fibre lip blended in, CSL carbon fibre diffuser blended in, carbon fibre Vorsteiner side skirts blended in with #Phoenix yellow coloured mesh at the ends, front bumper fitted with Hamann-style foglight covers, full length CSL carbon fibre lip blended in, side repeaters deleted and replaced with LED strip indicators in side vents with custom-made illuminated M3 badges, OEM LED rear light conversion, smoke tinted windows all-round.
INTERIOR: Front #Recaro Sportster CS seats, full LED lighting conversion, Intravee and #Alpine system, Storm Motorwerks titanium gear knob and sat nav buttons.
THANKS: Dips at Custom Cars, Raj at Full House Customs, Kashif for all the help with the brakes, Dino and Richard aka Bikeracer for the custom caliper brackets, my wife for putting up with my modding madness and my son Yusuf for his enthusiasm and love of the M3.
“I’d always said that if I ever found a manual Atlantis blue E46 M3 with a Champagne interior, I would buy it”
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