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    As the E46 M3 CSL never made it to the #USA , #BMW enthusiasts set about building their own, like this tasty pair. America was cruelly robbed of the E46 M3 CSL, so the response of Stateside modifiers has been to create their own with even more muscle. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Marco Svizzero.

    It’s easy to get jealous of Americans. They produce money-spinning movies and music loved the world over; they seemingly control the world markets, the internet and practically every satellite in the sky; and if civilisation goes down the plughole, they keep enough gold locked away to hold two fingers up to the rest of us.

    But if you want true envy, check out how cheaply Americans can buy a new M3, M5 or Porsche 911, then see how little it costs them to fuel them so they can enjoy playtime for far less coin than the rest of the world.

    But occasionally, Europe gets its own back. Prime example is the E46 M3 CSL: a car so raw, pure and driver-focused that it became an instant classic on its 2003 release, and one the enthusiasts went all wobbly over. But not the Americans. They got bitter, frustrated and angry over it as the things just weren’t allowed Stateside due to environmental and safety reasons. There were 1400 examples built, and 1400 didn’t find their way to American showrooms.

    So while the non-CSL E46 M3 is almost laughably common on American roads, you’re not about to see a CSL barking its way along canyon roads or buzzing city streets. You may spy something close though. Deny a market like America a car it badly wants and, much like banning a movie, it makes the thing so much more desirable and some will stop at nothing to get it. Pictured here are two Californian E46 M3 CSL replicas, which in many regards are as close to the real thing as possible. Certainly substantial sums of cash have been parted with in their builds, but that’s the price needed to pay proper homage to the ultimate road-going E46 M3.

    It’s a price Adam Cook of Citrus Heights in North California paid to create his Steel grey E46 M3 CSL replica. We caught up with him and photographed his CSL replica alongside another built by Andrei Afanasiev – a fellow user from California’s Bay Area. Together they are a formidable pairing, with Adam’s looking the more genuine with its CSL-esque paint (originals only came in Silver grey and black Sapphire), even though Andrei’s M3 CS colour is a beautiful shade.

    “BMW should have brought the CSL to the US,” Adam said. “There should be a standard that works for both US and Europe for safety and the environment so we can both get the same cars. An example is my other car, a 1M Coupé. They brought that to the US and it sold out fast.” Regardless, Adam got busy building what BMW didn’t provide, and is convinced he’s created something at least the match of a true CSL. “My setup makes more than a stock CSL,” he said. “ I have a better exhaust, pullies and a better software tune.”

    Adam bought his E46 M3 brand-new from his BMW dealer in 2002, and was already no stranger to the marque. As well as his 1M he’s owned an E46 330i, E39 530i and an E90 330i. After a few months of M3 ownership on went a K&N panel filter to get the ball rolling, and since then he’s barely drawn breath. To see the inventory of all the previous parts he’s fitted to the M3 as well as what’s currently there – and the wellrecorded cost of everything – is quite frightening. “To build a replica CSL is fairly easy once you get hold of OE parts, and it helps to have more cash than brains and keep throwing money at it,” he said.

    Adam wanted to make his car as much of an OE CSL as possible, but also improve on parts where he thought necessary. “My modifying philosophy was if I owned a real CSL what would I change on it?” he said. “I think the likes of headers, brakes, exhaust and suspension could all be improved.”

    Starting with the body, Adam has upgraded his M3 with an OE CSL front bumper, lights, side grills, bootlid, carbon fibre rear diffuser and emblems. And impressively, as one of the CSL’s signature elements, he’s managed to add an OE carbon fibre CSL roof. “I got most of the OE CSL parts from a US importer which has sadly recently gone out of business, while the rest I got from a European source,” he said. “I’m glad I got them when I did as CSL parts are now no longer being made.”

    Adam said most of the CSL parts are direct replacements on a standard M3, although minor modifying included rerunning wires on occasion. The roof was a different matter though: “The roof is genuine OE BMW, and its install was mostly time and patience,” Adam said. “Eighty-six spot welds needed removing and then the surface was cleaned. The OE roof fitted perfectly so no major work was needed other than adding the centre brace: if you remove the old roof properly there is no extra welding needed other than for the centre brace.”

    The interior also mimics a CSL’s with an OE CSL centre console added, something Adam said was basically plug and play. There are online DIY tutorials on forums for the fitting, requiring a bit of time and rerunning window switch wires. Also on are a CSL handbrake gaiter, door trims, handles and door sills, while the rear seat has been removed in the style of the M3 CSL concept model. Recaro Profi XL seats are now up front, which look superb but Adam said they’re not great on long journeys. But ridding his M3 of power front seats and the rear bench has saved a lot of weight. As for CSL-ing the 3.2-litre six-cylinder, parts availability proved a headache. Adam originally fitted a GruppeM intake, but was intent on finding a true CSL air box. “Finding a CSL air box and cam was hard as there are not many in the wild,” he said.

    “The first cam I got was broken in shipping and took nine months to get a replace.” Other OE CSL engine parts include the rocker arms, exhaust valves and the head gasket. Adam has enhanced things further with the likes of Supertech Performance dual valve springs, Rogue Engineering power pulleys, some trick cooling and an extensive exhaust system upgrade. Rounded off with OE M3 CSL software and an Evolve ECU tune Alpha-N Stage 3, these enhancements have convinced Adam he has a genuine CSL-beater on his hands.

    The car’s six-speed SMG auto has also been given the CSL treatment with its software flash, while Adam uses a Turner Motorsport 3.91 differential and the company’s rear subframe reinforcement. A CSL 14.5:1 steering rack is also employed for the genuine feel, while TC Kline Racing adjustable coilovers and camber/caster plates, Eibach anti-roll bars and Ground Control rear lower control arms are part of a suite of underbody enhancements to push this M3 into CSL territory and beyond.

    The genuine look was required under the arches, and Adam sourced genuine 19” CSL rims and shod them in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, rather than the ‘widow maker’ Michelin Cup rubber that made true CSLs so likely to switch ends in the wet. Behind these wheels are mighty StopTech 355mm discs all-round, clamped by four-pots finished in yellow paint. To look upon the car is to believe it’s a true CSL, and one that’s been enhanced impressively further.

    Andrei’s car is based on an M3 CS and it too has an impressive spec sheet. Under the bonnet the S54 has been given an OE CSL carbon air box running Evolve Alpha N software and VAC Ultra Light 2 pulleys. He’s also removed the sound deadening to enjoy more of that intoxicating induction howl. Strapped to the Dinan strut brace are the remote reservoirs for the Moton Club Sport dampers and the chassis has been further upgraded with an AC Schnitzer rear anti-roll bar, Poweflex bushes throughout and a TMS subframe reinforcement kit, while for the exhaust system, he opted for an Eisenmann Section 2 and Meisterschaft Ti system.

    Parked side-by-side, the two E46s look as though they belong at the M3 CSL top table. And so they should with the huge amount of time and money involved, including the relentless hunt for OE CSL parts for the builds. Much like true CSLs, they have that look about them that makes you want to grab the keys and be left alone on a winding stretch of open road for a few hours.

    “I prefer back roads to the track,” Adam said, “and am one of the few people in North California who organises meets and drives. I have a website called that lists my favourite drive routes, and one of the best is Valcano which is perfect for the CSL. It’s a joy to drive because you feel the connection to the car and the road, and as the last of the high revving straight-six motors you can feel that passion the M guys put into the car. Cars now are faster, but some of the soul has been lost for progress.”

    Adam wouldn’t dissuade anyone from building their own CSL replica, but he warned that OE parts are a pain to find as there are few parts and plenty of people after them. It’s not cheap either, so despite the rising value of genuine CSLs, if your country was lucky enough to sell them – unlike in America – it may be best to just buy a real one.

    DATA FILE #BMW-M3-CSL / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-CSL-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #SMG / #BMW-M3-CSL-SMG -E46

    ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , OE #CSL air box, hoses, exhaust manifold and cats, #Eisenmann Section 2 and #Meisterschaft Ti exhaust system, #VAC Ultra Light 2 pulleys, Evolve Alpha N software, deleted sound deadening under the bonnet.

    TRANSMISSION: E46 M3 six-speed SMG auto with OEM CSL SMG software, Dinan 3.91 limited-slip diff.

    CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) OE E46 M3 CSL light alloy rims shod in 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, #Dinan front strut tower brace, #Powerflex polybushes, #TMS subframe reinforcement kit, #AC-Schnitzer rear anti-roll bar, Moton Club Sport dampers, front and rear #BBK .

    EXTERIOR: OEM BMW E46 M3 CSL carbon fibre roof, black roof rails, bootlid, rear diffuser, front bumper with splitters, side grills and micro filter housing. #BMW electric Euro mirrors, outer LEDs on brake lights enabled, IB painted bonnet washer grille, headlight shroud assembly and keyhole driver door delete, #3M front end and roof clear bra, E46 M3 CS paint.

    INTERIOR: OE E46 M3 CSL seats, centre console, handbrake gaiter, door trims, handles and door sills.


    ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32-TUNED OE E46 M3 CSL air intake, snorkel and flap, map sensor, inlet camshaft, rocker arms, exhaust valves and head gasket, head blueprinted and flow tested, #Supertech-Performance dual valve springs, #Rogue-Engineering power pulleys, Samco radiator hose kit, #Zionsville E46 M3 Competition cooling kit, Zionsville SPAL speed fan kit, Turner Motorsport Fluidyne oil cooler kit, Supersprint stepped exhaust manifold with stepped metallic 100 cell cat system and resonated X-pipe, Eisenmann Racing exhaust, Ignition Solutions plasma coils, OE E46 M3 CSL software – #DME flash for base setup and #Evolve ECU tune #Alpha-N Stage 3.

    TRANSMISSION: E46 M3 six-speed SMG auto with OE CSL SMG software flash, UUC red transmission bushings, Turner Motorsport 3.91 differential, #Turner-Motorsport E46 rear subframe reinforcement.

    CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) OE E46 M3 CSL light alloy rims shod in 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, Turner Motorsport 10mm front wheel spacer kit, #StopTech big brake kit with 355mm discs and painted yellow four-piston calipers all-round, stainless steel brake lines, TC Kline Racing True Match adjustable coilover system (500 front, 600 rear), TC Kline Racing camber/caster plates, #Eibach front and rear anti-roll bars, Ground Control rear lower control arms, CSL / ZCP 14.5:1 steering rack.

    EXTERIOR: OE E46 M3 CSL front bumper, front lights and side grills, CSL wing grill emblems, OE E46 M3 CSL carbon fibre outer panel roof, bootlid and carbon fibre rear diffuser, LED rear light upgrade.

    INTERIOR: OE E46 M3 CSL centre console, handbrake gaiter, door trims, handles and door sills, #Recaro Profi XL bucket seats, rear seat delete based on E46 M3 CSL concept model, CSL #SMG black aluminium paddles, hard wired Valentine V1 radar detector.

    Andrei has removed the sound deadening from his engine bay and added #VAC-Ultra-Light-2 pulleys plus a #Dinan strut brace and Moton Club Sport dampers.
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    Zima Motorsports has been getting busy on the #BMW-M4-F82 and its 630hp creation is a bit of an animal. The aftermarket world is constantly evolving thanks to a steady stream of new model launches. To keep on top of the game Zima Motorsports snapped up the new M4 as soon as possible and started modifying it immediately. Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Brad Sillars.

    There’s probably never been as much controversy surrounding a new product launch as when BMW announced that the new M3 coupé would, in fact, be called the M4 and that it would be turbocharged despite years of using strictly normally-aspirated motors. However, variety is the spice of life and this new format of M car looks set to be even more popular than ever before.

    Chicago-based tuning shop and race team Zima Motorsports instantly twigged that this new M4 would be something of a big deal and so shop owner Steffan Sajic ordered one as soon as he could. Its arrival was scheduled just before the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas, so Steffan knew that if he wanted to showcase his company’s handiwork there he would have his work cut out.

    ‘Project Bella’, as the Alpine white #BMW-F82 M4 became known, was purchased direct from the dealership. “We picked up our M4 in late July at Laurel #BMW of Westmont, Illinois,” explained Steffan. “It stepped up to the plate as we explained how short our SEMA deadline was. After watching a full DTM season and seeing the hype for the new M4, we were always going to order one for the shop. The main goal was to build a powerfriendly track day car that customers could relate to.”

    With such a blank canvas to work on, it was a good job that Steffan and the rest of the Zima team had worked out a clear brief. With such a new model, the aftermarket pickings were relatively slim at first but they pulled off the build just in time. This wasn’t just a case of bolting on what parts there were, either. The team put a large amount of development and fabrication into the project themselves, too. The first stop was, of course, the engine.

    The controversial S55 powerplant’s displacement may date all the way back to the early E36s when it comes to M3 engines but this one has something never seen before: a pair of turbochargers strapped to the side. It has a quite a few similarities with the N54 and N55 powerplants that have powered 35i models for a number of years now and so Zima set about applying similar tuning techniques – freeing up exhaust flow and upping the boost with a piggyback ECU.

    “We ended up manufacturing our own downpipes for the car from 304 stainless steel,” Steffan explained. These were coupled to a stainless steel Meisterschaft exhaust system, while the ECU benefits from a Burger Motorsports JB4 piggyback.

    The results are astonishing. With these simple mods the S55 has produced 538whp and 595lb ft of torque on race fuel; that’s over 630hp and a shed-load of torque at the fly which is fed to the rear wheels through a silky smooth M-DCT gearbox.

    When it came to sourcing the wheels the Zima team went to what it considered to be one of the main players in the US scene. “CCW has been a leader in the wheel game for race cars for years, so we were in talks with it for a while. It makes some amazing lightweight wheels,” Steffan told us. “The wheels we’ve got on the car are awesome, especially running a 305 tyre at the back with no arch modifications. It shows that CCW knows how to make a wheel with proper offsets!” Measuring 10”-wide at the front and 11”-wide at the rear with a 19” diameter, the T1000 wheels have divided opinion a little but for Steffan the function was as important as the look, and we think they perfectly balance these two criteria.

    To get the M4 sitting perfectly over those CCWs, #Zima opted for a KW Height Adjustable Spring System. It’s a clever product that replaces the factory springs for stiffer KW items, along with adjustable spring perches. This means that you end up with effectively an adjustable coilover while retaining the factory shocks, meaning that the clever EDC electronic dampers remain untouched.

    “Our M4 roll-cage is made from 1.75” 4130 chromoly steel and is hand-assembled,” explained Steffan. “We can create a fourpoint bolt-in half-cage for M4 owners that may still need to use the back seat for luggage, or we can go all the way with a bolt-in full cage with a gusseted cross brace for unparalleled stiffness. Both offerings will bolt directly into the M4’s body and both are designed to keep you safe, whether you’re a track rat or an occasional racing enthusiast.”

    The track theme has been echoed through the rest of the interior, too. It features hardcore carbon fibre Sabelt GT-300 seats and six-point harnesses. In combination with that cage, the interior has been truly transformed from a comfy production car into something ready to slay any track that lies before it.

    The final step was to get that exterior looking that bit more aggressive. This has been achieved with some more simple but effective steps. The SEMA show this year was saturated with wide-body builds and Zima wanted to stay away from that, with its example being a far more OEM+ type of build. To that end, BMW Performance carbon fibre mirror caps were sourced from the local dealership and Steffan went to Vorsteiner for a GTS splitter and diffuser, both in carbon fibre.

    “Our aim was to create a street and track car – one that you can have fun with on the street and go to dinner in then, at the weekend, go and have fun in at a track day,” Steffan said. “When we first rolled up to the SEMA show I couldn’t have been happier when everyone gave it the thumbs-up and started taking pictures. It’s truly a car crazy event and everyone appreciates the time and effort put into each build. CCW loved the M4 when it rolled into the booth at SEMA. I was actually in the Weld Racing booth – #CCW is currently a division within Weld. The guys were truly impressed with the while build and loved the way the wheels looked on an Alpine white M4.”

    From the off, Steffan has been impressed with the new M car and, as you can imagine, the modifications have only improved things further. “After owning and racing a lot of M chassis I can say the M4 is in a class of its own. The car is well balanced and moves when you want it to. The standard M4 initially was epic but after a few mods, the feeling of race seats and a JB4, it became a whole different animal. The car was hunting for grip during fourth gear pulls.

    “Our future plans are to wait for the weather to clear up in Chicago and take the car out to our local race track and really take it to its limits.”

    Zima Motorsports has taken this new breed of M car and not only made it its own, but shone the light for future owners of the fresh M3 and M4 models. It might be in a slightly different format, but that M magic is still there and Zima knows exactly how to make the most of it.

    Exterior has been treated to a selection of carbon fibre additions including a #Vorsteiner-GTS front splitter and rear diffuser along with BMW Performance mirror caps.


    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.0-litre straight-six twinturbo #S55B30 / #S55 , #JB4 tune, #Zima-Motorsports cat-less downpipes, #Meisterschaft exhaust. Standard 7-speed #M-DCT and M differential

    CHASSIS: 10x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) #CCW-T1000 hybrid wheels with 275/35 and 305/30 Nitto Invo tyres respectively, #Apex wheel stud conversion. #KW Height Adjustable Spring System consisting of KW springs, spring perches and bumpstops.

    EXTERIOR: #Vorsteiner GTS carbon fibre front splitter, #Vorsteiner-GTS carbon fibre rear diffuser, #BMW-Performance carbon fibre mirror caps.

    INTERIOR: #Sabelt GT-300 seats, Sabelt six-point harnesses, #Zima-Motorsports four-point roll-cage.
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    It takes very little to get the F80 M3 looking absolutely awesome, as this example so effortlessly proves. The F8x M3 and M4 have captured the hearts and minds of the modified BMW scene and it doesn’t take much to bring out the best in them. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Mike Kuhn.

    It’s taken us a little while to warm to the F3x 3 Series but we got there in the end. You’d have thought that by now it would be a bit of a make or break moment seeing as it’s been out for a good few years and while an SE on small wheels leaves a bit to be desired, an M Sport has a lot more going for it, while the M3 and M4 are a whole other matter altogether. It’s been about 18 months since we sampled the high performance duo and hopefully that’s enough time for everyone to get over the fact that there’s now an M4, and get on with enjoying it. And while the S55 sounds nowhere near as good as the S65 V8 does, the M3 and M4 can be made to look utterly spectacular with very little effort. Even in stock form the pairing ooze unbridled aggression; it spills out of every crease and angle of their styling. Tapping into this and unleashing it turns the visual impact dial all the way up to 11. It’s the lowness and wideness that does it. Both just have so much road presence and while the M4’s body is wider, the M3’s narrower body but identical track means it gets those pumped up arches that give it a stance to die for.

    Amir Khoshnevis (F80_M3 on Instagram) clearly agrees because the F80 M3 you’re looking at belongs to him. Mind you, seeing as he’s an eye doctor, you’d expect him to have an eye for these things (sorry!). But he clearly genuinely does because he’s made this M3 look so good. It’s the latest in a long line of modified M3s that the good doctor has owned, the result of growing up in a family that was into BMWs: “My first BMW love was an Alpine white E30 owned by my cousin, before I could even drive. The brand has been in my family for as long as I can recall.” For Amir’s BMWs have always been about the driver experience. “People would always say: if you love to drive, buy a Bimmer; if you want to have someone drive you, buy a Benz! My first BMW was a 1997 E36 M3 Saloon. I saved money after graduating and had nothing else in mind but the M3. I had to own it.” This was followed by an E46, E92 and E90, all enhanced with suspension upgrades, performance exhausts and M Performance goodies. And that path could only lead to one possible destination…

    “Buying the F80 was the logical progression,” says Amir. “Moving forward with the M3 brand, I had to be the first to have one. I took delivery of the first one supplied to my local dealer in mid-July 2014. While we don’t doubt that there were some thoughts about modifying swirling about his brain Amir admits he never planned to go as far as he actually has. He’s not stopped either, the modifications constantly evolving and he’s even reinvented the car since we first saw it, honing it into an even more devastatingly handsome brute of a machine.

    Alpine white is a great choice of colour, though we’re glad we’re not the ones who have to keep it clean, and it really makes all the black elements on the body pop. Amir has raided the M Performance catalogue, adding an M Performance front lip that makes the front end seem so much more complete with added carbon splitters, custom side skirts, a subtle sliver of a rear spoiler and a rather beefy rear diffuser that fills out the bumper perfectly. Below the bumper are the massive 102mm quad pipes of the GTHaus Meisterschaft GTC exhaust.

    “Another great modification is the use of Modesta glass coating for the paint and the wheels,” says Amir. “The folks at Carolina Auto Image applied the coating in order to protect the paint (after paint correction) and to ensure the paint effectively repels water. It also gives the Alpine white significant depth and enhanced reflective properties, too.”

    Judging by how incredibly glossy that paintwork looks in the photos, it’s money well spent. Perusing the paintwork you’ll also spot the gloss black grille surrounds from IND Distribution along with matching side markers and vents, while the front reflectors have been painted and there’s more carbon in the form of a numberplate cover and rear M badge. We love it not only for its relative subtlety but for the fact that all the elements combine to make a real difference.

    So, Amir had his F80 M3 looking sharp but he still needed to address the small matter of wheels and suspension. If you’ve been following Thorney Motorsport’s running reports on its M4 you’ll know that the standard setup isn’t best suited to allowing the car to comfortably and capably deliver all its power, so that’s definitely an area that needs addressing for anyone that’s intent on using the M3 seriously; and there’s no harm in a little lowering while you’re at it now, is there? As for the wheels, well, we think it’s fair to say that BMWs in recent times haven’t been sporting the most elegant or stylish of wheel designs. We’re struggling to think of a recent #BMW wheel that has come anywhere near to something like the Style 5 or Contour or M Parallel for sheer desirability. And while the M3’s 19s aren’t horrible, there’s lots of room for improvement. We all know how important wheels are to the overall look of your car and so does Amir as he’s already on his second set in about 18 months, and it’s not as if his first set was ropey. “I chose to go with MORR Wheels first because I wanted a more custom and personal build for my car. The company delivered with a beautiful set that was perfectly matched to the F80,” he explains. And, having seen those wheels on the car, we have to agree that it was a great combination. But there’s always room for improvement. “After hearing about the FI-R by BBS, I hounded IND Distribution to help me get one of the first sets available in the States,” he continues. “ They were able to secure one for me and the wait began. The FI-R is an engineering marvel. These 19” wheels weigh 16.5lb in the front and 17.5lb in the rear!

    They are not only beautiful but serve a great function, reducing unsprung weight.” The FI-Rs do indeed look fantastic on the F80, and the 19s are the perfect size for the body. IND Distribution also carried out some custom pinstriping on the wheels for Amir, highlighting the #BBS lettering and the word ‘forged’ in gloss black. And, in a world obsessed with stretch, we like the fact that a performance BMW has been fitted with some suitably serious rubber, with beefy 265/30 and 295/30 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres front and rear respectively filling the space between rim and arch perfectly, with a little help from the suspension, of course.

    “I had the KW HAS kit first (adjustable lowering springs) in order to close the unusually large wheel gap in the front of the car (mostly),” says Amir, “but I was looking for improved ride and performance and decided to change to the #KW Variant 3 coilovers recently. The difference is remarkable. The handling, road feel, cornering and balance have all improved over the stock and HAS Kit.” And let’s not forget the adjustable ride height that allows for the perfect drop.

    Fling open the driver’s door and things get very red, very quickly. That’s all good with us as we’re big fans of colourful interiors. With BMW finally fitting the M3 and M4 with the kind of seats you would expect to find in a car of this calibre – and the kind of seats that Audis and even Fiestas have been enjoying for a while – there’s little need or desire to go changing them, especially when illuminated logos come into the equation.

    Amir has, however, put in an order for a set of sexy Mode Carbon carbon (obviously) seat backs, which will go perfectly with the lashings of carbon you’ll find adorning most surfaces in the cabin, with the magical black weave coating the M Performance gear selector and handbrake lever, DCT surround and the bottom of the M Performance Alcantara steering wheel, complete with digital gauge and there’s also an M Performance pedal set.

    As good as this M3 may look, Amir is far from finished and he’s already planning the next round of modifications. “It took just over a year to do all this but I’m starting phase two now, so it’s definitely not over! I have a more aggressive build in mind and I’m starting on that project with new wheels (which are currently in production and should be the best of the bunch), an exhaust system with a tune, and some exterior enhancements to follow,” he says. Phase one was good but phase two sounds even better. When it comes to modifying M3s, the doctor is most definitely in.

    “If you love to drive, buy a Bimmer; if you want to have someone drive you, buy a Benz!”
    Very red interior has been slathered in carbon fibre.



    3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #S55B30 / #S55 , #GTHAUS #Meisterschaft GTC exhaust with 102mm tips, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #BBS-FI-R wheels with custom black gloss pinstriping, 265/30 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, #KW-V3 coilovers.

    EXTERIOR Modesta glass coating, M Performance carbon fibre splitters, rear spoiler, diffuser, front lip, custom Aeroflow Dynamics side skirts, IND Distribution gloss black front grille surrounds, side markers and vents, rear M3 emblem, cf number plate cover, painted front reflectors.

    INTERIOR M Performance Alcantara steering wheel with digital gauge, M Performance carbon fibre gear selector, handbrake lever and #DCT surround, #M-Performance pedal set.

    THANKS IND Distribution, Carolina Auto Image, Hendrick BMW.
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    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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    If you want to stand out at #SEMA you need to go big, and this Liberty Walk, chrome-wrapped #BMW-M4-F82 definitely does that. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Andy Tipping. Impressive Wrap wanted to make some waves at SEMA. With this Liberty Walk-kitted M4, resplendent in satin chrome, it’s safe to say it achieved that ambition.

    There are certain acronyms that have passed into the everyday lexicon so seamlessly that they’re just words; we don’t consider what they stand for, as they stand alone. And we’re not talking about such johnny-come-lately fare as LOL, OMG and IDK – terms like DIY, #AWOL and #ASAP are the sort of things we say all the time without considering that they’re short for something longer-form. (Well, some people do, but they’re the kind of pedants that’d point out that it’s only an acronym if it becomes a pronounceable word, and that terms like DIY are actually initialisms. But these people are dull, and end up standing alone in the corner at parties.)

    SEMA is one such acronym. If you have even a micron of unleaded swirling around your bloodstream – and you’re reading this now, so we know that you do – you’ll be familiar with the annual extravaganza of the SEMA show: a glimmering Las Vegas industry get-together that acts to show off the most extreme and outrageous new custom car builds along with highlighting the latest trends in the areas of wheels, body addenda, colours, materials, brands, you name it. If it’s so-hot-right-now, it’s at SEMA.

    The acronym stands for Specialty Equipment Market Association, an organisation that was formed back in 1963 by such hallowed luminaries as Dean Moon (of Mooneyes), Vic Edelbrock Jr (of Edelbrock, obviously), Roy Richter (of Bell Helmets and Cragar Equipment), and various other leading lights of the trade; it now encompasses well over 6000 companies in the performance and aftermarket arena, offering business development, market research, training and development, and all sorts of stuff like that. They also put on one hell of a show…

    The first SEMA show took place in 1967, in the basement of the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and it’s been growing in stature ever since. Today, if you’re not at SEMA, you’re not playing the game. We’ve featured a number of cars over the years that were built specifically for the show, and this one is arguably one of the most eye-catching. Impressive Wrap’s Liberty Walk-kitted M4 is badass on a Kim Kardashian ‘break the internet’ scale: shiny, bootylicious, and just downright dirty.

    “This was our build for SEMA 2014,” says Impressive Wrap’s Michael Lee, by way of introduction. “It all started when we decided at the last minute to get an M4 as our shop car for SEMA, and the show was only a week away. We trade work with LTMW here and there, and we were busy wrapping a Rocket Bunny BRZ from LTMW when the guys told us that one of their customers had backed out on a 4 Series Liberty Walk kit. I thought it would be a great opportunity to get a spotlight at SEMA for advertising the shop, so I hopped on it and told them we wanted the kit for our M4!”

    LT Motorwerks is also based in El Monte, California, which makes these exchanges of trade so amenable, and it’s an expert in pulling together cutting-edge BMW builds with up-to-the-minute styling trends. It also helps that it has strong links with the Japanese tuner scene, hence its ability to procure such exotic fare as the bold new Liberty Walk wide-body kit for the box-fresh M4. “Well, the kit it had wasn’t actually for an M4, it was for a regular 4 Series, so it needed a bit of modifying,” Michael explains, baulking slightly at the memory. “We dropped the M4 over to the guys that same day, and it took them around a week to get the kit fitted perfectly.” As we know from featuring a number of LTMW builds, this won’t be a case of the guys there dragging their heels – they’ll have been pulling ridiculous hours to ensure that everything was fitting right and looking sharp. And when you’ve got SEMA in your sights, that’s just the sort of tenacity and diligence that you’re looking for: the world is watching, and these show builds live or die by social shareability. The slightest flaw will be captured by countless lenses and harshly judged by an ever-more frenzied shark pool of smartphone-toting commentators. So, thankfully, this M4 doesn’t have that problem. As is LTMW’s MO, the thing is flawless.

    “Long Tran from the shop agreed to sponsor the labour of the build, and the car came back to us on the Wednesday night, ready for us to start wrapping on Thursday morning,” Michael recalls. “Although at that point we also needed to get the suspension and the exhaust fitted, which left us with just a couple of days before the show…” Hey, there’s no pressure like deadline pressure, right?

    These mods were essential, of course, as you can’t throw a wild and lairy body kit onto a standard car and then just leave everything as is. It just wouldn’t work. The arch gaps would be crazy, for a start. So a set of KW coilovers has been deployed in order to bring the broadened form closer to the Tarmac, getting the thing tightly hunkered down to accentuate that angry face. The exhaust – a full GTHAUS Meisterschaft system – was a no-brainer too, as SEMA isn’t just a static affair; sure, the car will be sitting on a stand for the bulk of the time, but people will see the thing arriving, and they’ll definitely see it leave. While the M4’s standard mechanical setup is certainly nothing be sniffed at – that S55 motor growls to the force-induced tune of 431hp – it needs to sound outrageous if people are going to notice it among the maelstrom of hot metal under the Vegas sun. GTHAUS’s system for the M4 offers EV Control, meaning that it can be switched from mousey-quiet to shouty-loud at the flick of a switch, using clever internal valves. Suffice it to say, the latter was the order of the day for the hordes of phonesnapping crowds.

    It’s a truism to say that a modern project car is made or broken by the choice of rolling stock, and this is where another sponsor sidles in from stage left, eager to infuse a little more mischief into the recipe. Savini Wheels stepped up to the plate, providing a set of forged SV61-C rims in a 20” diameter, with the rears being a striking 12” across. The design of these wheels is frankly mind-warping, as it take your eyes a little while to figure out just what’s going on with the spokes – you end up gawping at them like a colourblind kid with a Magic Eye book. (Top tip: look at the spokes in groups of four, it makes it easier…) The brushed detailing on the edges of the satin black spokes really pulls you in, and you need to be careful you don’t get stuck, as there’s a hell of a lot of dish going on, too. It really is an outstanding setup.

    Now, with such an in-your-face treatment of both bodywork and wheel choice, Impressive Wrap knew they had to do something really special, really unusual and alluring, to accentuate the sterling work that the M4 had already received. It would have been easy enough to do what a lot of tuners would do, and slather it in a loud shade that’d catch the eye from the other side of a conference hall; lime green, fluorescent yellow, something of that nature. But no, it opted for something rather more understated and, in doing so, has played a bit of a blinder; mixing a soupçon of subtlety into the build has actually made the car all the more noteworthy, resplendent as it now is in a satin chrome finish.

    Shiny chrome is, naturally, a rather polarising effect – something you’d expect to see on a footballer’s Veyron – but satin chrome? That’s something a bit tasty. It echoes the brushed aluminium accents of the Savini rims, while offering a retro DeLorean-esque finish that both the young and young-at-heart will be able to relate to. And, of course, the advantage of a satin chrome vinyl wrap over a bare-metal #DeLorean finish is that it won’t showcase a gallery of unfortunate fingerprints…

    “There were long, hard hours put into the M4,” says Michael, “and a lot of last-minute preparations with stickers and tyre stencils, but we somehow managed to get everything done on time. This was all thanks to our partners and employees!” And what we find most impressive about this build is the ratio of time-to-effect: Impressive Wrap, let’s not forget, embarked upon this project just a week or so before the world’s biggest and most visible aftermarket tuner show. The expertise and dedication of #LTMW , the vision of Savini’s design team, the engineering nous of GTHAUS, the bloody-minded lunacy of Liberty Walk and, above all, that inspired colour choice have all coalesced into something staggering. Stop the show. Silence the crowds. Break the internet. This is what SEMA builds are all about.

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

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: #S55B30 / #S55 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six, #GTHAUS #Meisterschaft EV Control exhaust system, seven-speed M-DCT.

    CHASSIS: 10.5x20” (front) and 12x20” (rear) #Savini SV61-C wheels (black with brushed accents) with 265/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Toyo Proxes 4 Plus tyres, #KW coilovers.

    EXTERIOR: Satin chrome wrap, Liberty Walk widebody kit (front splitter, rear diffuser, arch flares, boot spoiler), #AeroFlow Dynamics carbon-fibre side skirts.

    INTERIOR: Stock M4 including ergonomic M seats, leather steering wheel and carbon-fibre trim.

    THANKS: Jackson Wong from Xsthetic Motorsports, Mike from Prestige Marketing, our sponsors LTMW, Savini and GTHAUS Meisterschaft, Stan from Toyo, Roger from AeroFlow.

    LB kit is wide, and then some. 12x20” Savini wheels fill out the massive rear arches.

    Engine is stock, but 431hp is more than enough to be getting on with; Meisterschaft exhaust sounds great and fills the rear valance.
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