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    LAGUNA E46 M3 Lush UK air-ride Cab

    A schoolboy dream has become reality in the shape of a Laguna Seca E46 M3 Cab, with a few mods for good measure, of course. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Dear.

    DREAM WEAVER Air-ride E46 M3
    Achieving your dreams, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant they may appear to some people, is an incredible feeling. From dream jobs, to dream weddings and, obviously, dream cars, these items, events and experiences fill us with sheer joy and make our lives better. Whatever your dream may be, achieving it, making it happen is a special moment; for Bally Hanspal this car was that dream and, as you can plainly see, it’s most definitely become a reality.

    “BMWs have been a big part of my life,” begins Bally as we ask him to tell his tale, “with my late grandfather, dad and uncle all owning BMWs through my childhood. It always made me want one and, also, with how amazing they are to drive nothing else can come close to them. For me they really are the ultimate driving machines; despite owning other brands of cars I always seem to have a soft spot for BMWs,” he smiles, and that’s something we wager most of us can relate to.

    Bally has dabbled with VAG in the past, ticking off the wheels, suspension and audio boxes along the way before moving towards the performance end of the modding spectrum, all of which served as perfect preparation for the inevitable purchase of his dream car. “When the E46 M3 was released, back when I was still in school, I promised myself I’d own a Laguna Seca blue one, one day. Many people laughed, but it was a dream I had to make come true,” he says and that steely determination is what made it happen. Bally kicked BMW ownership off with an E46 320Ci Sport, the biggest engine he could insure at the tender age of 20, but it was just a stepping stone until he could get his hands on the full-fat, M-powered 3 Series of his dreams. “I remember the day when I bought the car so clearly,” he smiles, “a friend of mine phoned me up – it was a warm Saturday afternoon – and he phoned me asking if I had found any cars for sale. I mentioned I had seen this one for sale on Autotrader, not too far from me. He said ‘Let’s go down and take a look’ so we headed over and after just walking around the car and checking it over I knew this was the one for me. The condition of the car was tip-top and it was so well-maintained that I would have been kicking myself if I hadn’t bought it.”

    There were, says Bally, no plans to mod the car when he first got it, and he actually thought that was going to leave the car alone but here we are, it’s in a modded BMW mag. It wasn’t long, he says, before he started ordering parts for his M3 and he didn’t mess about. Wheels came first, with a set of CSL 19s chosen and to go with those he picked out a custom set of BC Racing coilovers to deliver the required drop. With the E46 M3’s natural good looks now nicely enhanced, Bally turned his attention to the audio system and fitted an Alpine double-DIN head unit along with a set of MB Quart component speakers front and rear, which made it into the car’s current build state. So too did the amber corner lights, which look great against that bright, bold blue bodywork, and Bally has also fitted a seriously sexy set of K-Sport brakes, with monster eight-pots up front wrapped around 365mm discs and four-pots at the back, and the red calipers really pop against the body and wheels.

    All was going well, but Bally wasn’t in a good place with his suspension. “The BC coilovers were pretty awesome I must say, but with the car not being practical with the way I wanted it the next step was air. After speaking to many people and reading many reviews I went for Air Lift’s 3P setup and I also added Powerflex wishbone and anti-roll bar bushes just to tighten-up that awesome drive.” Now Bally can enjoy all the lows he can eat, so to speak, while still being able to actually drive the car and we like the fact that he’s also done a little bit more than just the bags alone, to allow him to really get the best out that awesome chassis that the E46 M3 is blessed with.

    With air on board, Bally decided it was time to up his wheel game but with so many good-looking wheels available for the car, this was not an easy task. It was helped slightly by the fact that he’d always had his eye on the wheels he’s ended up, that being a set of Schnitzer Type II Racing three-piece splits, and they are gorgeous, the metallic grey centres really suiting the whole colour scheme on the car. Where people often go big on diameter, Bally has stuck to a sensible 18” but he’s gone wide; the fronts are a reasonably large 9.25” but the rears are a monster 11.25” across and they fill the arches to bursting, and with it aired out the fitment is perfection.

    As far as styling is concerned, Bally has had the front bumper smoothed and it’s been enhanced with the addition of a full carbon fibre CSL front splitter, which not only adds a healthy dose of visual drama but also drops the car even further towards the Tarmac. Moving inside, that vibrant interior didn’t start out life this way and the original seats have made way for a striking red ensemble; “I wanted my M3 to stand out from the rest,” he says, “and after looking at many options it had to be the red Nappa leather, giving the car the Super Man look,” he grins and now it all makes sense. But here too there’s more than meets the eye, and where you might, perhaps, expect to see carbon on a car like this you will instead find that all the interior trims have been finished in Alcantara. “The trims are my favourite mod on the car and they were something I had in mind for a while, but it was a big problem getting them done, with so many companies saying they couldn’t do it and that it couldn’t be done. In the end my dad and I, along with my grandmother, did them together,” and the end result is absolutely unique and wonderful with it. Finally, in the boot, you will find the single air tank and Viair compressor that make up the air ride and, a neat touch, is that with the boot lid being de-badged, the air tank now wears the M3 badge instead.

    As far as performance mods are concerned, Bally has so far just added a gorgeous GruppeM carbon intake up front and a de-catted Scorpion exhaust system but it sounds like the next big mod on the to-do list is a supercharger and going by his determination and refusal to give up with any part of the build so far, you can be sure that’s going to happen before too long. There’s no rush though, Bally has no plans to let his dream car go anytime soon; “After now owning the car for two years I’d say it’s an on-going going project that will probably never end,” he chuckles. Bally’s built himself an absolutely beautiful M3, one that’s packed with neat, unique touches that really make it stand out and it’s a car he can truly be proud of. Dreams can come true.

    GruppeM carbon fibre intake the only performance mod, for now…
    Gorgeous 18” AC Schnitzer Type II Racing splits.
    “I wanted my M3 to stand out from the rest and after looking at many options it had to be the red Nappa leather, giving the car the Super Man look”
    Alpine double-DIN head unit and custom Alcantara trims.
    Red Nappa leather looks fantastic against bodywork.
    Custom-mounted Air Lift controller.
    Air install has been kept simple and the air tank now wears the M3 boot badge.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Cabrio / #BMW-M3-Cabrio-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E46

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #Scorpion exhaust system with de-cat, GruppeM carbon air intake, six-speed manual gearbox, short-shift kit

    CHASSIS 9.25x18” (front) and 11.25x18” (rear) #AC-Schnitzer-Type-II-Racing three-piece wheels with 215/35 (front) and 245/35 (rear) tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance-3P air suspension, #Powerflex wishbone and anti-roll bar bushes, #K-Sport #BBK with eight-piston calipers and 365mm discs (front) and four-piston calipers and 330mm discs (rear) / #AC-Schnitzer-Type-II / #AC-Schnitzer / #Air-Lift-Performance

    EXTERIOR #Laguna-Seca-Blue , smoothed front bumper, amber corner lights, gloss black front and side grilles, carbon fibre full CSL front splitter, CCFL angel eyes

    INTERIOR Red Nappa leather seats and door cards, Alcantara-trimmed dash, door grab handles and centre console, #Alpine double-DIN head unit, #MB-Quart components front and rear

    THANKS A massive thank-you to my family for the support and help putting it all together, Adam and Dav down at Autobahn for the fitting of many parts, Ryan at Ryandetails for the amazing job on the detailing of the paintwork
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    SHARK TALE FERROCIOUS M4 F82 Super aggressive 500hp Laguna Seca #BMW-F82 . This aggressive M4 is an apex predator on the streets. How do you turn an F82 M4 into a shark? You paint it blue and make it really, really angry… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Jimmy LoBiondo. #BMW-4-Series

    Laguna Seca is one of those magical places that lifts the spirits of all who experience it, transcending its staid translated name of ‘dry lake’ by virtue of its swooping curves, and motorsport heritage that stretches back to the late 1950s. Even if you’ve never been there, it’s all beautifully mapped in Gran Turismo, so anyone in the world can attempt to master the near-impossible art of taking the perfect line through the fabled Corkscrew (er, provided that they have a PlayStation). It’s little surprise, then, that BMW saw fit to name one of its most lurid and boisterous paint shades after the place.

    “My M4 was painted Laguna Seca blue by the factory as part of its Individual programme,” explains Bill Jordan, the owner of the aggressive masterpiece you see displayed before you. “Here in the US, the custom colour choices are $5000 options, but I think it really makes the car stand out. This was an original colour offered on the E46 M3, so it acts as a sort of tribute to that generation of M cars – to my knowledge, there are only a couple of F82 M4s and F80 M3s in this colour in the US.”

    Bill’s knowledge is something to be revered too, as he’s so deep in the BMW scene it’d be hard to hoist him out without some manner of industrial winch. As his 65,000+ followers on Instagram will attest, here’s a man who knows whereof he speaks (find him at @william_jordan10 and see for yourself), and he’s got a solid collection of motors in his personal fleet to bolster his credentials: an Alpina B6, a pair of E92 M3s (one in Fire orange, another a 1-in-20 Frozen Black Edition, you may remember those from a recent #Drive-My feature), and a variety of non- BMW fare as well. There’s a Ferrari 458 Spider on the drive, a Porsche 911 GT2 RS, a Maserati GranCabrio, various Mercs… it’s safe to say that Bill’s got horsepower fever.

    Far from seeking a cure for such a harrowing malady, however, Bill’s revelling in it with his new M4. This is due in large part to having shipped it, all shiny and fresh, to the eager hands and fertile minds of AUTOcouture, whose glorious gold F80 we featured last year. “AUTOcouture has done extensive builds on several of my other cars, including my E92 M3s,” Bill explains. “They are great bunch of guys, and our mutual love of the brand and modifications has formed the basis of some great friendships. After spending two years modifying my previous generation M3s, I wanted to turn my attention to a new project…”


    Bill admits that it took him a while to warm to the idea of the new generation M3/M4, its twin-turbocharged straight-six being a tangible step-change from the lusty V8 of old. We hear that a lot. But you just have to be strong, push through the apprehensiveness, for there is sorcery and mystery bubbling up inside the alreadyiconic S55 motor. And it’s just waiting for the right hands to uncork the bottle and unleash the effervescent fury.

    “Yeah, I was reluctant initially,” he says. “I loved the look of the new M cars, and I knew that from a performance perspective the turbo’d sixes are superior to the previous V8s, but I wasn’t keen on the sound.” Still, there are things you can easily do about the sound, aren’t there? And Bill’s mind was truly changed when he happened across a Laguna Seca blue M4 at a dealer in Ohio while he was browsing online. Three days later it was parked on his driveway, such is the allure of that beguiling dry-lake hue…

    “The whole shop was excited when I rolled up at AUTOcouture in the M4,” Bill beams. “Since the model was so new, we wanted to set the bar high with the build, and we ended up benchmarking a series of firsts: the first ARMYTRIX exhaust in the US, the first diffuser combo setup, the first custom-painted seat backs, and the first set of BLK 503GTR wheels.”


    Strewth. That’s a whole lot of firsts! So let’s start at the most logical point – that polarising engine. Now, these come out of the factory staring down the barrel of 425hp, the brainbox force-induced N55 receiving an extra turbo, revised intercoolers, a lighter crank and more hardcore pistons to become the rorty S55. AUTOcouture took this as a starting point and stirred some Gintani downpipes into the mix along with that unique ARMYTRIX Valvetronic exhaust, a system that allows you to change its volume thanks to internal valves controlled by a phone app or key fob, connecting wirelessly to its own OBDII module which extracts ECU data and relays it, in real time, to your phone. Seriously, this exhaust is the way forward. Couple all of that with a DME Tuning Stage 2 tune and Bill’s wallowing in a meaty 500hp. That’ll help the M4 hold its head high among its supercar stablemates. A set of KW V3 coilovers, fully adjustable for height, rebound and compression, get the Smurf-like form hunkered down over the custom-built BLKs; as Bill says, this was the first set of 503GTRs to break out into the open, and they’re a strong counterpoint to the cartoon paint with their matte brushed gunmetal finish, all the better for showcasing the Brembo GT BBK behind. “The calipers were custom finished in Laguna Seca blue by iND Distribution, a leading supplier of aftermarket BMW parts,” Bill explains. And if you think his fascination with Laguna Seca blue is spiralling into obsession, wait till you get a load of the interior…


    “There’s contrasting blue stitching to set off the black leather,” he grins, a sparkle in his eye, “and the seat backs are fully custom; they’ve got EAS carbon fibre centres, with the outers being painted in Laguna Seca blue. The dash trim has also been painted to match.” And he’s not done yet. No, the bespoke ONEighty NYC headlights have Laguna Seca blue accents inside them too, and you’ll also find the colour highlighting the front splitter, the side skirts, and the boot spoiler. It’s the sort of finicky custom detail that would pass right under the radar of the average man, but for people who know their BMWs, every one of these touches is worthy of a robust highfive. This is a car built for connoisseurs.

    “The custom diffuser is special,” says Bill. “It consists of a Kohlenstoff upper and Varis Racing lower diffuser – this required a fair bit of fabrication by AUTOcouture to make the two pieces from different manufacturers work together, but the result is a superaggressive rear that’s a world-first!” He’s not kidding about the aggression – have you spotted that it’s got a rain light in there too?

    That’s proper race car bravado. And yes, it’s complemented by plenty of other neat carbon bits too – the front lip/splitter combo, the custom side skirts and the boot spoiler are all hiding that evocative grey weave beneath their shouty blue stripes.

    All of this aesthetic chicanery has endowed Bill’s M4 with the appearance of a sort of manga shark; look at it from head on and you’ll no doubt find yourself being intimidated by the jutting, angular visage that refracts the classic sharknose frontage of the 1970s and ’80s through a modern filter, like a 635CSi that’s fallen through a wormhole and got squished on its passage through the time tunnels. The broad, dark nostrils have clearly scented blood, as the vicious headlights narrow to focus upon you, its prey. This is the point at which you pray for that carbon tail-fin to be swishing in front of your nose instead of being stared out by a razor-sharp beast of the deep blue – but of course, by the time this streamlined fish has spotted you, it’s way beyond too late. You’re no match for its sleek fusion of biting fury and sylph-like slipperiness. This is a shark that knows its way around a Californian lake, channelling the rage of generations of Laguna Seca battlers to prowl the streets in search of fresh meat.

    Bill may have had his reservations about the M4, but it’s safe to say that he’s crafted something outstanding. He was right to persevere. He’d better just hope the thing doesn’t have his hand off…

    DATA FILE #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #S55B30T0 / #BMW-S55 / #S55 , #ARMYTRIX #Valvetronic exhaust, #Gintani downpipes, #AUTOcouture-Motoring / #DME-Tuning-Stage-2 tune, sevenspeed #M-DCT gearbox. 500hp, 575lb ft of torque

    CHASSIS 9.5x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) custom threepiece #BLK-503GTR wheels in matt brushed gunmetal with 255/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, #KW-V3 coilovers, six-pot (front) and four-pot (rear) Brembo GT BBK with 380mm Type 3 slotted discs

    EXTERIOR Laguna Seca blue, #ONEighty-NYC custom headlights with Laguna Seca blue accents, carbon fibre front lip/splitter combo with Laguna Seca blue CRT accent stripes, 3D Design carbon fibre side skirts with Laguna Seca blue accent stripe, custom rear diffuser consisting of Kohlenstoff upper and Varis Racing lower, carbon fibre boot spoiler with Laguna Seca blue stripe

    INTERIOR Black leather with contrasting blue stitching, #Laguna-Seca-Blue painted dash trim, #Nexon-Motors custom carbon-fibre steering wheel with perforated leather and contrasting blue stitching, Laguna Seca blue outer seat backs, EAS carbon fibre seat back centres, carbon-fibre/Alcantara DCT console trim

    THANKS Tommy, Jimmy, Sam, Sean, Andre and the rest of the gang at #AutoCouture , to Nate and Andrew from iND Distribution, and to James Fleming at Classic #BMW
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