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    HIDDEN STRENGTH

    With its subtle looks, this 135i can slip under the radar, which is handy as it’s got 460whp on tap. This 135i might look fairly ordinary but appearances can be deceptive and there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye… Words and photos: Chris Nicholls.

    Disappointment is sometimes a powerful motivator. Sports teams that lose the championship one year have been known to turn that negative feeling into a springboard that pushes them to win it the next. So it was with Pete Agas and his 135i.

    Initially, he wanted a 1M Coupé, but only 200 came to Australia and he missed out on the allocation. He didn’t let that get him down, though. Instead, he purchased an E82 135i and used the leftover funds to change almost every mechanical component to make it much faster than a stock 1M ever was.

    The story begins back in late 2012, when he first purchased this Alpine white example fresh from the dealer. Having been inspired to tune cars ever since his youth (when watching Stephen Spielberg’s debut feature – Duel – made him think about tuning cars so he could outrun a psychotic truck driver), Pete wasn’t going to leave it untouched for long, and after posting a few pictures of it in its factory state on his online build thread (complete with the caption: ‘stock… yuck’), he started to modify it to suit his tastes.

    As for those tastes? “I build, tune and customise my vehicles for performance over appearance,” he says, and as you can see, the finished car reflects that. APEX ARC-8 wheels, StopTech BBK, #Hartge silencer and M Performance carbon bits aside, there is no indication from the outside that this machine puts out 460whp at low boost and pounds around race tracks with ease. Even looking under the bonnet yields nothing to the casual observer, and unless they were looking hard, enthusiasts would only spot the AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 intake and M Performance Power Kit 2 as well. Almost everything that means anything is hidden on this build, and that’s the way Pete likes it, especially as it makes it that much easier to goad other, supposedly faster, cars into a little challenge. “I frequently drive around the South Yarra area in Victoria where there are plenty of beautiful Porsches. I may have completely decimated a couple of them in a quick squirt contest…” he says with a grin.

    Of course, his E82 didn’t become this fast overnight. Indeed, having missed out on a 1M, he initially wanted just to match that car’s handling, with pure grunt not really on the radar. And even then, for the first year, Pete only drove it around with limited mods. An M Performance exhaust and exterior bits and some Rays G25 wheels upped the game from stock, but they were hardly going to help Pete reach even his initial goal. That’s why, after that 12 months, he started amassing E9x M3 suspension parts in bulk, along with other bits and pieces, so he could be ready for the next stage.

    Those E9x parts included sway bars, control arms, bushings, camber link kit and strut tower brace, to which he added Swift springs. Having basically matched the 1M’s key suspension elements, Pete then moved onto the brakes, with M Performance discs, Cool Carbon brake pads and Hard Braking front titanium shims. For a little extra grunt, he added the aforementioned Power Kit 2 and controlled it via a Quaife 3.08 helical LSD in a VAC finned, clear anodised cover. A Burger Motorsports clutch delay valve and clutch stop helped in the driveline department as well. Finally, a few extra M Performance exterior and interior parts helped round it off. Until the most recent major upgrades, the diff was actually Pete’s favourite component as it improved traction no end. “The LSD just puts the power down without the e-Diff having a field day. It was easily the most notable change when driving the car back home from the workshop for the first time.” The fact the Quaife diff works with the stock traction control is a bonus, too, even if Pete doesn’t need it in the dry.


    Now, you might think at this stage, having reached his initial goal, Pete would be satisfied and call it a day. After all, he had already created a very quick, but still very usable road car. However, the fact you see this rather faster beast before you shows he wasn’t done. What prompted him to go further were two new discoveries. Firstly, having gone this far into the BMW tuning world, he’d found a “huge amount of aftermarket potential within the BMW brand”, as well as a highly supportive and knowledgeable community to go with it.

    Secondly, having built a track-oriented car, Pete was hardly likely to keep it purely on the road, and a visit to Phillip Island one day proved rather comprehensively that while strong, his build wasn’t perfect.

    “I quickly discovered the platform needed brakes and cooling,” Pete tells us. “I also learned very quickly of the possibility of a spun rod bearing when pushing wet-sumped platforms on the track, so I quickly picked up an oil pan baffle to prevent this from happening to me.”


    Having discovered these weaknesses, Pete also bolted on an oil cooler and decided that even the upgraded brakes he had weren’t going to cut it. So, as part of the final stage of mods, he purchased a StopTech BBK, with ST60 six-pot calipers on the front and ST40 four pots on the rears, matched with StopTech’s own Street Performance pads.

    These clamp down on with Trophy Sport two-piece slotted discs to provide a significant upgrade in braking ability. Indeed, these are now Pete’s new favourite parts. “The new brakes not only look great, but they have an amazing pedal feel, are completely modular and replaceable and have a huge range of available pads.”

    That they sit this high in his estimation is a big endorsement, given the rest of the upgrades he fitted at this stage. In the engine bay, he installed a Pure N55 Stage 2 turbo, an AR Design downpipe, Maddad midpipes and the aforementioned Hartge silencer on the hot side. He also fitted the previously mentioned AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 intake, an ETS five-inch intercooler and lower charge pipe, an Evolution Raceworks black anodised chargepipe and GFB N55 diverter valve upgrade on the cool side. Unsurprisingly, given the company’s reputation, a Dinan Stage 3 135iS tune controls the lot.

    To further enhance the car’s abilities on the track, Pete also added Dinan Racing adjustable rear toe arms, Dinan front control arm bushings, Turner Motorsport solid aluminium rear subframe bushings and Ohlins Road and Track dampers. Finally, some sticky Hankook RS-3s on those handsome APEX ARC-8 wheels put all the power to the ground.


    The results are quite startling. Given the sticky rubber and LSD, you’d think traction wouldn’t be a problem, but with TC off, Pete was able to spin up the wheels well into third gear on our short spot-shoot drive. “This is with the turbo at 15psi, remember,” Pete reminds us. “It’s capable of 27 or even 30psi. Frankly, I think it’d be undriveable on the street like that. I would need drag slicks or something.”

    He’s probably right. The biggest impact, though, came from the fact that the power just kept on coming. Starting from around 3000rpm, it genuinely didn’t stop until very close to the redline. Owners of modern, well-tuned turbo cars will no doubt be nodding along to this in recognition, but for those who haven’t experienced such a longlasting rush, it’s quite the memorable event.

    Thankfully, all of Pete’s suspension changes keep the car a lot more pinned to the ground, even if traction is a bit of an issue. It’s firm, no doubt, but even the harsh, sharp-edged bumps on Melbourne’s often lumpen roads didn’t jar particularly. It’s a testament to both the quality of the parts and Pete’s careful selections. “I like to think with the right amount of planning and research, most, if not all risks [when building a car] can be mitigated,” he says knowingly. “I checked, re-checked and triple-checked the parts that were chosen for the car and I paid very close attention to their fitment and quality before proceeding with the purchase. That research, coupled with the highly talented team over at SouthernBM (his chosen workshop), made the process easy.”

    So, having now built a sleeper that can not just match a 1M but surpass it in every measure (bar width), is Pete satisfied? Is he done? Of course he isn’t. Soon after the shoot, he fitted some Kerscher 1Mstyle front wings and eventually, plans to turn it into a roadregistered track car, complete with rear seat delete, half-cage, Recaro Pole Positions, lithiumion battery, Evolution of Speed N55 manifold, E85 tune and carbon bonnet.

    This would leave him without a daily driver, though, so what gives? Well, on 14 October last year, Pete watched the livestream as #BMW introduced the M2, and soon after, strode into his local dealership and ordered a manual one in Long Beach blue. We guess he never did get over the disappointment of the 1M after all…

    StopTech ST60 front BBK boasts 355mm discs and six-pot calipers, necessary when you’ve got 460whp to play with.


    DATA FILE #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-E82 /
    ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six turbo #N55B30 / #N55 / #BMW-N55 , #M-Performance-Power-Kit-2 , #Pure-Stage-2 N55-turbo, Pure N55 inlet pipe, Evolution Racewerks N55 Type III Hard Anodised Black charge pipe, #AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 N55 intake, ETX 5” FMIC with lower chargepipe, GFB N55 diverter valve upgrade, #AR-Design N55 catted downpipe with ceramic coating, Maddad midpipes, Hartge quad-exhaust outlet silencer, 42 Draft Designs O2 sensor spacer, Dinan High Capacity oil cooler, Burger Motorsports oil catch can, JB4 ISO 5.9 with flex fuel wires - Map 6, Dimple Magnetic sump plug, Walbro 455 E85 Low Pressure Fuel Pump, Dinan Stage 3 Performance Engine Software map, VAC Motorsports N54 oil pan baffle

    TRANSMISSION Standard six-speed manual transmission, Burger Motorsports modified clutch valve, Burger Motorsports Short Throw clutch stop, Quaife 3.08 helical LSD, VAC Motorsports finned differential cover (clear anodised), Dimple Magnetic transmission plug (x2), Turner Motorsport Delrin differential bushings, E46 M3 transmission bushings

    CHASSIS 8.5x18” ET45 (front) and 9.5x18” ET62 (rear) #APEX-ARC-8-Hyper-Black wheels with 235/40 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Hankook Ventus RS-3 tyres, #Apex / #Apex-ARC-8 wheel stud conversion kit, #Project-Kics open-ended lug nuts, BMW E9x M3 strut tower brace, E92 M3 front and rear sway bars, E92 front upper and lower control arms, E92 rear upper control arms, E9x M3 rear lower camber link kit, Ohlins Road and Track dampers with E82 135i 7” 60Nm/MM Swift Springs (front) and E82 1M 9” 120Nm/MM Swift Springs (rear), Swift Thrust Sheets, Ohlins rear damper adjuster extenders, #Vorschlag camber plates, #Dinan-Racing adjustable rear toe arms, #Dinan Monoball front control arm bushings, #Turner-Motorsport aluminium subframe bushings, #StopTech ST60 #BBK with 355x32mm slotted, zinc-coated discs and StopTech Trophy Sport Aerohat hats (front) and #StopTech-ST40-BBK with 345x28mm slotted, zinc-coated discs and Trophy Sport Aerohat hats (rear), StopTech Street Performance pads, StopTech braided brake lines, calipers painted silver

    EXTERIOR M Performance front grille in black, M Performance carbon rear lip spoiler, BMW Blackline LCI taillights, 1M mirror conversion, Hartge dual outlet exhaust diffuser PU-RIM in gloss black, Carbon roundel decals, Philips Silver Vision indicator globes, T10 W5W Amber Chrome side indicator globes, Lux H8 V4 LED angel eyes, Final Inspection Rejuvenation Detail and Full Metal Jacket


    INTERIOR M Performance aluminium pedals, M Performance Alcantara steering wheel with yellow stripe, M Performance gear knob and Alcantara shift boot, M Performance handbrake handle and Alcantara boot, M Performance interior in carbon, M Performance illuminated door sills, Alcantara binnacle cover, JB4 Bluetooth module with Android integration, Precision LED E82 LED interior package, 35 per cent window tint

    THANKS Harold at HP Autosport, Andrew Brien and the crew at SouthernBM
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    Stunning E46 M3 is the complete package

    SPECIAL DELIVERY WRAPSODY IN BLUE

    From its stunning blue wrap to its custom interior and velocity stacks, this E46 M3 is the complete package.

    From its striking blue wrap to its wild interior and extensive chassis upgrades, this E46 M3 really is the complete package… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Richard Le.

    Resisting the temptation to mod an E46 M3 is virtually impossible. From the moment you buy one it starts talking to you, whispering things like ‘yes, I handle well, but I could handle even better’ and ‘yes, I’m fast, but I could be even faster’. And you’ve basically got two options: either sell it and buy a diesel hatchback, which will never attempt to cajole you into such behaviour, or just get on with modding the damn thing. Guess which option Andrew Wang chose…

    “The import scene was just starting to blow-up when I was in high school and the E36 M3, in Estoril blue, was my dream car in college,” Andrew tells us. “To me it was the complete package. Then just when I was graduating, the first images of the E46 M3 were leaked. It just blew my mind away and took over the top spot of my wish list. It took me a while, seven years in fact, to finally be able to afford one. I had a decent job, and I had just totalled my college car – a 1995 Honda Accord – so I went car shopping and knew right away that I would get a used E46 M3.”

    The car in question was a carbon black example, only the second E46 M3 that Andrew actually looked at. It was the right colour and had some options he was after. “I found it on Craigslist,” Andrew explains. “I think I lucked out; the car has been running strong so far, even with all the tampering I’ve done to it. The car was in good condition when I first saw it; it was a 2004 model year car and I bought it in 2007.

    The previous owner was another young guy who probably drove it hard but wasn’t into modifications, so I know he didn’t abuse it. The bonus was that he had the car registered in Texas, so that means no holes in the front bumper for a license plate.”

    Andrew’s previous modifying experience went no further than the aforementioned Accord – which he’d treated to some wheels, suspension, an exhaust, a couple of subs, and a PlayStation 2. So with the E46 M3 being so healthily supported by the aftermarket, it was inevitable that some tinkering would occur, although neither Andrew nor his M3 knew just how much tinkering would eventually take place!

    “My very first of modifications were to fit the Brembo big brake kit, H&R springs, and Koni shocks,” says Andrew. “The Brembo BBK was something that I always wanted to get for my Accord but couldn’t afford. It was completely unnecessary but when I got my M3, I decided to splurge. I wanted them to stand out, too, so I didn’t want the standard red or black calipers. I believe I was one of the few people to have yellow calipers painted by Racing Technologies before Brembo started offering it as a standard colour option. After a year, I ditched the springs and shocks for a KW V3 coilover setup. Several years later, I swapped out the progressive springs for linear rate springs.

    One of my favourite mods on the car is the titanium Dixis strut bar. Since Dixis went out of business, those bars are really hard to find now.” The stance and ride height on those V3s, clearly wound way down, is on-point and no mistake, dropping the M3 low to the ground and getting the tyres well acquainted with the arches. You’d struggle to slip a Rizzla between the rear rubber and the bodywork. Yellow was a great choice for the Brembos as they really do pop, and while it’s not a shade that will partner up comfortably with every body colour, it would have worked perfectly with the original Carbon black paint. Indeed, it looks no less perfect against the current exterior colour or the current wheels.

    “My good friend Manu Gill is the owner of wheel company Aristo Collection,” Andrew tells us, as we get onto the all-important subject of wheels. “To me loyalty and supporting my friends are very important and there was no doubt that I would have Aristo wheels on my car. There was a brief moment before Manu got started when I put a set of Volk TE37 Black Series wheels on but as soon as Aristo was up and running, I sold those Volks.” Aristo offers a mindboggling selection of different wheels in a seemingly limitless selection of colours and finishes, and Andrew’s choice for the M3 is spot-on. Bucking the trend of going big, he’s opted for a set of 18” three-piece Sport profile MJKs with gloss black barrels, exposed bolts and extremely sexy textured matt black centres, with the fat tyres and minimal stretch doing a great job of filling what little space exists in the arches.

    The stunning blue that the car is now presented in, a gorgeous 3M Blue Brushed Steel wrap, is arguably the most dramatic change to how the car looks as, from the off, Andrew wanted to keep his E46 M3 looking as #BMW had intended. “I never wanted to change the shape of the car much,” he says.

    “I love the original styling and flow of the car although it has gone through a few iterations of styling changes. One of the first things I did was to add the CSL replica bootlid and rear diffuser. Then I went through a couple of vented hoods, Flossman and Asuka, and added lots and lots of carbon fibre. After that phase, I decided I wanted a more sleek and subtle look, so I got rid of most of the carbon fibre and eliminated most vents, including shaving the foglight openings on the front bumper.


    Another important reason for getting rid of the vented hoods and modifying my OEM bumper is that nothing fits better than OEM parts. Through all these phases, stretching over a nine-year period, many shops between Los Angeles and San Francisco had a hand in moulding the style.

    I wanted to make a vehicle that grabs your attention and makes you want to come closer. And, as you come closer, you see more and more details you hadn’t noticed before. For me, it’s the subtle details that don’t scream out at you that make a build.”

    We think Andrew’s certainly achieved his aim here. The matt black roof, mirrors, grille and other exterior trim details tie-in perfectly with the dark wheels. And the ultra-clean front bumper looks fantastic, especially with that custom front splitter pulled up snugly beneath it. The AGT Styling side splitters add a sense of menace while the Vorsteiner CSL-style bootlid and rear diffuser are the perfect finishing touches.

    Where the exterior is subtle, the interior is anything but and Andrew has really gone to town. “I got the inspiration for my interior from a couple of my Europrojektz teammates, Michael and Fern, when I was in Los Angeles,” he explains. “I knew I wanted diamond stitching, so I took the idea to the guy that did my team-mates’ cars. It took some time and patience but when it was finally finished the results were amazing.

    Even now I receive compliments on its quality and style. After that Michael Wright from 02 Creations finished up my interior when I moved to the Bay Area. He wrapped the headliner and wired-in the Rolls Royce ‘Starlight Headliner’ style lights. He also wrapped the dashboard, pillars and rear deck.” It certainly is spectacular and while it’s not going to appeal to all tastes, you can’t argue with just how much work has gone into it. You’re not likely to see another interior quite like it, that’s for sure. Suede mixes with leather, yellow stitching soars across doors and dash, an E60 M5 gear knob sits in place of the original E46 item and, if you can tear your eyes away from all that, you’ll notice the Alpina 7” touch-screen head unit custom mounted in the dash. In the cabin sit Hertz Mille MLK 165 two-way component speakers while the trunk is dominated by a pair of custom-mounted DC Audio Level 3 10” subs, with custom hardwood floor that flips open to reveal the Audison LRx 4.1k multi-channel amp, and the whole install has been executed with same incredible attention to detail as the rest of the interior work.

    You might perhaps think that because we’ve not mentioned it yet there are no engine mods but lift the bonnet and you’ll find that you’re quite wrong to have made that sort of assumption. “The S54 engine was the last thing I wanted to modify because the BMW engineers had pretty much already maxed it out,” admits Andrew.

    “It wasn’t a multi-category and multi-year winner of International Engine of the Year for no reason.” However, the urge to extract just a little more ‘go’ was one that was too great to resist. “One of the first mods I did was a GruppeM carbon fibre ram air intake,” Andrew continues. “It looked good but I doubt it had any performance gains. I didn’t touch the engine again until just last year when Kalim and Miles from KLX Auto Garage bored-out the throttle bodies for me, removed the air box and installed the velocity stacks for the ITBs. The tuning also had to be converted to Alpha-N since the MAF was eliminated.”

    The velocity stacks are perhaps the most obvious change in the engine bay, the stubby trumpets themselves custom-made and mounted on ported and polished throttle bodies that now measure 52mm across. An Evosport exhaust manifold with a ceramic coating has been fitted and leads to a Rogue Engineering X-pipe and a Kreissieg Valvetronic F1 stainless steel exhaust system. Under the bonnet you’ll also find a set of Rogue Engineering power pulleys, a C&R racing rad and a Radium Engineering open loop oil catch can kit and fuel rail, with pulse damper and fuel pressure gauge. One glance at those velocity stacks and you know this engine means business, plus it’s always good to see someone massaging an S54 whilst keeping it naturally aspirated, rather than taking the forced induction route.

    Andrew’s built himself an awesome E46 M3, a spectacular machine both inside and out. He’s put a huge amount of effort into getting everything right. The attention to detail and quality of the work that’s gone into it is top-notch. It’s a fantastic looking car and one that really ticks all the boxes as far as styling, performance and handling are concerned. As complete a package as you could ever want. And it’s not for show, either, serving as Andrew’s daily, which he cites as one of the reasons why he’s not taken the car down the wide-body and forced induction route. “There are no more plans for the car,” he says, “although I’ve already started to de-mod the car again to make it more street-friendly. I want to keep it as long as possible, although I have just put down a deposit for a Tesla Model 3.” That’s good news because the E46 will be the perfect antidote to that electrical sensibleness, plus, sparing the M3 from daily duties is likely to make it feel more special and make Andrew want to keep it even longer, which is most definitely a good thing.

    DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #SMG-II / #BMW-M3-SMG-II / #BMW / #Radium-Engineering / #Kreissieg /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 / , custom machined aluminium velocity stack conversion, custom ported/polished individual throttle bodies bored to 52mm, custom tuned #Alpha-N with MAP engine software management, #Evosport exhaust manifold with ceramic coating, #Kreissieg-Valvetronic-F1 stainless steel exhaust, Custom Performance Innovations S-pipe, #Rogue-Engineering-X-pipe , #Rogue-Engineering power pulleys, #Radium-Engineering open loop oil catch can kit, Radium Engineering fuel rail with pulse damper and fuel pressure gauge, #C&R Racing Radiator. Stock six-speed SMG II gearbox

    CHASSIS 9.5x18” ET22 (front) and 10.5x18” ET20 (rear) #Aristo-Collection-Sport-MJK two-piece wheels with exposed bolts, gloss black barrels and textured matt black centres with 245/40 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Toyo Proxes R1R tyres, Bimmerworld 92mm Race Bulletnose wheel stud conversion, #Project-Kics R40 Neochrome lug nuts, Vorshlag camber/caster plates and perches, #KW-Variant-3 coilovers with Swift linear coilover springs Conversion (9.0kgf/mm front and 11.0kgf/mm rear), Dixis Spirit titanium strut brace, Status Gruppe Tuning adjustable front anti-roll bar endlinks, SPC adjustable rear control arms, Vibra-Technics engine mounts, #Vibra-Technics transmission mounts, Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts, HorsepowerFreaks rear subframe reinforcement plates, #Brembo Gran Turismo BBK with custom painted yellow calipers, six-piston monoblock with 355mm custom pattern discs (front), four-piston calipers with 345mm slotted discs (rear)

    EXTERIOR Full exterior 3M Blue Brushed Steel vinyl wrap, with matt black roof, custom front bumper with shaved foglight openings and reflectors, custom front splitter, matt black kidney grilles, matt black wing vents, EAS Aurora LED angel eyes, LED numberplate lights, Depo smoked corner lenses with LED bulbs, Depo smoked sidemarkers, Vorsteiner V-SDL single-sided carbon fibre bootlid and V-CSL carbon fibre diffuser, AGT styling side skirt extensions/splitters


    INTERIOR Custom black leather and suede interior with yellow double diamond stitching on seats, door panels, armrests and headrests, custom black suede dashboard with yellow double stitching, custom black suede headliner, visors, pillars and parcel shelf, OEM #BMW illuminated M5/M6 SMG shift knob, Storm Motorwerks brushed stainless steel SMG shift paddles, brushed stainless steel handbrake handle, brushed stainless steel SMG gaiter ring, GSP oversized pedals, OEM BMW Eurotray, custom painted satin silver double-DIN headunit bezel, SMG dome and lower steering wheel trim, custom variable remote-controlled fibre optic LED lighting in headliner, custom hardwood boot build with Plexiglas, leather, suede and LED lighting, Optima red top battery


    AUDIO Alpine IVA-W505 7” touch-screen DVD receiver, Hertz Mille MLK 165 two-way component set, 2x DC Audio Level 3 10” subwoofers, Audison LRx 4.1k multichannel Amplifier

    THANKS My teammates at Europrojektz around the world, Manu from Aristo Collection, all the shops and garages that stayed up past closing to help me finish a project for a show including, but not limited to, 02 Creation, KLX Auto Garage, Elite Auto Films, Performance Technic, SpeedElement, Sonic MS, 68 Auto Detail, Stan from Toyo Tires, my personal friends that have supported and inspired me despite my obsession for details and all my snarky comments (I’m looking at you Toby, Marvin and Patdeezy) and finally NGC and SGC!

    Entire interior is spectacular but the Rolls-Royce-style starlight headliner is really different and a little a bit magical.

    For me it’s the subtle details that don’t scream out at you that make a build.
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