- Post is under moderationFORCED INDUCTION FRENZY!
BOOST MODE #Stunning 610 whp turbocharged E36 M3 turns up the heat. Cars are meant to be driven and it was that realisation that took this E36 M3 from mild to wild.
JUNKIE BOOST Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Patrick Lauder
Dean Yarza never intended for his E36 M3 to turn out this way. He’d always wanted one, that much he did know, and finally owning one was the fulfilment of a high school dream, even though it followed a modified E46 M3 ZCP. You might have thought that his former car would have been the keeper, the big one, because it was an E46 M3 after all, but life’s not always that straightforward. That Dean has been dreaming about owning an E36 M3 since his high school days is no surprise; this is a man who, briefly, owned a hand-me-down E21 323i as his first car and who admits to having been interested in BMWs since first being able to drive.
The Carbon black 2005 E46 M3 that he purchased in 2006 was where his BMW journey began proper, Dean having experimented with numerous vehicles prior to that. “I’ve basically modified everything I’ve owned since high school, giving in to the typical sickness the everyday car nut suffers from and I do not discriminate when it comes to the hobby,” he grins. This explains why his car ownership history includes an Acura Integra on nitrous, a couple of Saleen Mustangs and a Saleen Cobra, all of which ended up running over 500whp courtesy of aftermarket superchargers, a Ford F150 truck and even a couple of Yamaha R6 bikes. It’s a varied, colourful automotive past in which Dean has sampled all manner of modified machinery and that most certainly did not stop when the M3 entered his life. “I modified it with all the NA boltons including long tube exhaust manifolds, performance pulleys, air filter, 4.10 gearing and a performance tune. The exterior was also fitted with the full line of Vorsteiner VSL pieces – front bumper, rear deck lid and diffuser. 19” BBS LM rims and a Brembo GT brake kit were also installed,” completing what sounds like a thoroughly sexy and sorted M3. So why the switch from 46 to 36?
“After parting with my E46 M3, I yearned for another M and, more importantly, something to give me purpose, spending hours on forums researching and purchasing parts. At the time, it was the perfect platform to satisfy the need to handle, perform, and modify while being fairly painless to attain,” explains Dean though, in truth, the E36 did almost put the brakes on his modding addiction but, as we all know, you just can’t fight it…
“As many E36 owners know, it’s a bit tough to find them in a non-abused state in today’s market,” he says, and he’s not wrong. “After failing to find one to my liking for a few months, I put out a wanted add online and, amazingly, received a response for what was almost exactly what I was looking for. Prior to my search, I’d curbed my expectations, accepting the fact that these cars are close to 20 years old and I wasn’t going to find a gem. My initial want was just for a clean-titled, decent paint/interior M3 knowing that 90-110k miles would be the norm. What appeared in response to my add was a single-owner, excellent condition M3 with only around 33,000 miles, completely stock, still with the break-in instructions applied to the windscreen, as well as the original window sticker still in the glove compartment. It was far too pristine but in no way would be passed up.” That sounds like a once in a lifetime find to us and it would have been very silly of Dean to turn down the opportunity to own such an immaculate car, but it was the car’s virgin state and lack of miles that presented Dean with a bit of a quandary. “Prior to finding one with such low mileage, my plans were night and day from what the car is now,” he says.
“I initially only wanted something I could drive every day and everywhere, occasionally having weekend duty for spirited driving in the hills. To do this, I planned nothing more than a capable coilover set and a nice wheel and tyre combo. In a way, I just wanted a cool car I could really beat on and not care too much about,” but obviously that couldn’t happen now and a different approach to the whole ownership and modding outlook had to be taken. In fact, as we mentioned earlier, Dean wasn’t even sure whether modifying was the right thing to do. “As I did not plan to find such a low mileage/collector type of car, it was a tough decision to modify,” he says, before adding “ but eventually the bug got the better of me,” and so things began to happen.
Suspension and wheels came first, as per his original plans; “Knowing that I did not participate in high performance driving/autocross events, I was looking for something simple in terms of handling and comfort,” Dean explains. “The Bilstein PSS9 kit fits this bill as it is a basic coilover setup which is not too aggressive while offering, in my opinion, one of the most comfortable rides for a coilover while still improving handling capability. Along with this, I’ve also chosen a set of Dinan front and rear strut braces and a BMW X-brace, which is found as standard on the M3 LTW.” Handling benefits aside, the adjustable ride height of the PSS9s means that Dean has been able to dial-in his perfect stance and the drop he’s gone for is serious; those front arches are a hair’s breadth above the rubber while at the rear he’s got the tyres tucked just past the edges of the lips and the result is spectacular.
As far as his wheel choice is concerned, for many BBS fans it’s the holy grail for both modern and classic BMWs alike and a wheel he has a lot of love for. “It was only fitting that for a classic M3 I’d want to stick with classic wheels. My favourite wheels for the BMW have always been BBS LMs, I feel you can put these on any car and drastically improve the look, especially European applications. I owned a set on my E46 M3 and had nothing but positive experiences with them in regards to looks, performance and strength. You get what you pay for with wheels and in my eyes, they are half of the car. I did consider other wheels but this was very short-lived, I was set on LMs for my build. It turned out to be very difficult to find a set, though, as 18s were much harder to come by than the typical 19” and above. Luck still was not on my side which forced me to become a little more creative and experiment with a set taken from a Honda S2000. This presented a bit of a challenge as the offset and PCD were different but after some research I found a local wheel customisation shop which was able to adjust bolt pattern as well as offset to get them to fit correctly.”
It’s safe to say it was worth the effort as the LMs look so good on the E36, as they do on just about any BM, and here they’re finished off with a BBS stud conversion kit and those iconic red centre caps.
That’s all well and good, but the real reason we’re here is for what’s under the bonnet and it took a bit of a personal revelation for Dean to make the huge leap from mild NA mods to off-the-scale, full-on forced induction fury. “I found deals on the basic bolt-ons such as a Dinan CAI and Dinan exhaust and the car stayed in this state for quite sometime as I did not want to overly modify it, risking an adverse affect to the car’s value considering its mileage.
Eventually, realising that cars are meant to be driven and I would not be satisfied until I had it the way I wanted, I decided to open the floodgates and enjoy it while I have it,” he says and this is definitely the right philosophy. “After the basic bolt-ons, the turbo research began brewing and opened up a whole new world. For one whole year, I began researching and stockpiling the turbo components needed for my build, beginning with the actual turbo, a Garrett GT35R and SPA T3 manifold, fuel components, Cut-Ring head gasket, and Zeitronix data logging gauges and equipment, the essentials I needed to get started. After a year acquiring these components – and then some – it was all installed in one shop sitting, taking a few months to complete.
“The car was taken to David Tran at 4B Auto in Santa Clara, CA; David is known to have built some of the fastest turbo E36s around with upwards of 1000hp, so I knew I was in good hands with this build,” says Dean. “The motor was disassembled, having to remove the head for resurfacing, while upgrading the head studs with an ARP2000 10mm stud kit. From there, the stock head gasket was also upgraded to an 87mm Cut- Ring head gasket. When the head returned from resurfacing, the SPA T3 turbo manifold was mounted while the Vanos was also rebuilt and the head was finally ready to install. Once the engine was reassembled, various changes were made including upgraded fuel components such as a Rally Road high-flow billet fuel rail, 115lb high impedance injectors, and an Aeromotive adjustable fuel pressure regulator. The intake manifold was also swapped for an M50 model for better flow. Impressive to say, the engine was able to fire up at first attempt with no hiccups. David’s engine work was one of the smoother processes throughout.”
High praise indeed and there’s nothing better than a true turn-key conversion that just works, especially after such a huge amount of work. A quick glance at the engine spec is all you need to know that this is a serious performance project but all that research and time spent on it was absolutely worth it.
It enabled Dean to pick the best components and the ones best suited to helping him achieve his end goal, and all that work has yielded some astonishing numbers. Peak power now stands at 610whp, which is around 700hp at the crank however you like to do your calculations, and is backed up by 571lb ft of wheel torque, both serious numbers and definitely plenty to be getting on with.
Obviously, as well as the suspension upgrades that were carried out before Dean let loose, the chassis and transmission have received further modifications to be able to cope with that huge increase in output over stock. First of all, there’s a big brake kit in the shape of Brembo’s GT kit and before we even get onto the specs those red calipers are just killer and work perfectly alongside the red detailing on the LMs and against the white bodywork.
They do, of course, deliver on the braking front too, but then you’d expect nothing less with four-pot calipers and 355mm discs stationed up front and only a fractionally smaller pairing located at the rear. As far as the transmission is concerned, Dean has bolstered the ZF five-speed manual gearbox with a selection of UUC components, including a twin-disc flywheel/clutch combo, steel clutch line, and short shifter, all of which combine to allow it to far better cope with all that power and torque.
What we really love about Dean’s E36 M3, and we love everything about it, is the fact that, really, there’s no way for you to know just how much power is lurking beneath that pristine white bodywork. Obviously it’s not a stock car, but he’s kept all of the styling within the spectrum of normality and as a result there’s little to suggest that this might be nothing more than a lightly breathed-on older M3. “My intention for the exterior was something not too aggressive; basically maintain the stock look and body panels yet add some touches to give a slightly more aggressive look,” and we’d say it’s mission accomplished. Euro lights have been sourced from ECS Tuning and fitted all-round, along with a set of ZKW HID projector headlights; a Max Velocity RS front lip sits beneath the front bumper for a hint of extra aggression, while at the rear there’s a Mateo Motorsports diffuser and a sexy UUC adjustable carbon spoiler. The interior has been kept largely standard, bar the addition of numerous gauges and a few minor tweaks that enhance what was already there. The Vader front seats, finished in Mulberry-colour leather, have been left alone and Dean has added some M3-logo’d mats, a customwrapped Euro three-spoke steering wheel and MT Shift Boots alcantara gear lever and handbrake gaiters to complete the look.
Four years of ownership are what it’s taken to bring the E36 to this level and while it has clearly been worth the effort, there has been a lot of it involved in getting the car to where it is. As Dean himself says “I currently have no plans for a next car, other than possibly a modern 5 Series daily driver. At this point, I may have exhausted all energy to even think about starting yet another project,” and that’s something we can all relate to it, that feeling of near-exhaustion when you’ve “finished” a project, or at least got it to the next stage of its evolution. Of course, this M3 has not finished evolving, not in the slightest. “A contingency plan is actually already in place,” says Dean.
“Simultaneously with the turbo install, I have also been working on a fully-built spare motor capable of 1000hp, which was also completed about the time the turbo install was competed. Also on hand is a full drivetrain upgrade, which includes a Euro six-speed 420 Getrag transmission, DSS six-bolt 1000hp driveshaft, upgraded rear axles, and a large case 210mm limited slip differential from a 1990 BMW 750iL.
The only future decision to be made now is which turbo and manifold configuration to fit. With the upgraded turbo and motor, the car should be able to generate and handle even more power with ease. If any mishaps were to occur, these components are ready, that is if impatience does not get to me first and I proactively go ahead with the swap.”
That’s a very sensible approach to take with a completely unhinged project, and we whole-heartedly approve. Dean’s E36 is pure performance: there’s no frivolity here, it’s full-on, focussed and furious with it, and we love it.
“After the basic bolt-ons, the turbo research began brewing and opened up a whole new world. For one whole year, I began researching and stockpiling the turbo components needed for my build”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW / Turbo #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-M3-Turbo / #BMW-M3-Turbo-E36 / #Garrett / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E36 / BMW
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / #S52 / #BMW-S52 , Cut-Ring 87mm head gasket (stock compression), #ARP2000 head studs, #Garrett-GT3528R dual ball-bearing turbo, #SPA-T3-turbo manifold, 610x305x76mm front-mount intercooler, #Tial 50mm blow-off valve, Tial 44mm MVR wastegate, M50 intake manifold, #Mishimoto coolant overflow, Mishimoto performance aluminium radiator, #Steward high-performance water pump, RK Tunes E85 turbo tune and MAF, 115lb high impedance injectors, Rally Road high-flow billet fuel rail, Aeromotive adjustable fuel pressure regulator, Vibrant intake filter, custom fabricated 3” stainless steel down pipe and exhaust system, #Vibrant turbo muffler, #Radium-Engineering oil catch can, #Radium-Engineering 12 micron fuel filter, Racetronix Fuel Pump wiring harness, Walbro 485lph fuel pump
POWER AND TORQUE 610whp, 571 lb ft wtq
TRANSMISSION Five-speed #ZF manual gearbox, UUC twin-disc flywheel/clutch kit, #UUC steel clutch line, Rally Road clutch pivot pin, #UUC-EVO3 short shifter with double shear selector rod, #Vorshlag polyurethane transmission mounts
CHASSIS 8.5x18” (front) and 9.5x18” (rear) #BBS-LM wheels with 235/40 (front) Hankook Ventus V12 Evo2 and 255/35 (rear) Toyo Proxes R888 tyres, BBS red centre caps, #BBS stud kit, #Bilstein-PSS9 coilovers, Vorshlag polyurethane engine mounts, #Dinan front and rear strut braces, #BMW OEM X-brace, #Brembo GT BBK with 355x32mm two-piece discs and four-piston calipers (front) and 328x28mm two-piece discs and two-piston calipers (rear), #Hawk HPS brake pads (front and rear)
EXTERIOR Alpine white, ZKW HID projector headlights, ECS tuning European front clear corners, side markers and rear lights, Max Velocity RS front lip, Mateo Motorsports rear diffuser, UUC three-way adjustable carbon fibre spoiler
INTERIOR Custom wrapped European three-spoke steering wheel, MT shift boots Alcantara gear lever and handbrake gaiters, Rally Road steering column dual gauge pod, LeatherZ centre gauge pod, Turbosmart Eboost2 boost controller/gauge, #Zeitronix ZR-2 wideband AFR, ECA-2 ethanol content analyser, ZR-2 boost and ZR-2 fuel pressure gauges
Hard-pipe-mounted Tial blow-off vlave.
Turbo is hidden away, only the air filter is visible in the engine bay.
Interior home to various gauges plus Alcantara gear and hand brake gaiters.
Gorgeous 18” BBS LMs and #Brembo-BBK .
Up front, HID projector headlights with angel eyes.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationRazzle Dazzle Wild, wide-body, air-ride E36 M3. Beneath the jarring geometric shapes and black-and-white lines, there’s a pretty astonishing M3 hiding in here. And the deeper you dig into its story, the more mystery and intrigue you unearth… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Brian McGee.
The Zebra M3’. That’s a name a lot of people seem to throw at this car. But have you ever seen a zebra with stripes like this? That’d be one funky-looking equid. No, the style you’re seeing here is a retro mind-melter known as ‘dazzle camouflage’. We know what you’re thinking – camouflage is meant to blend you into the background, right? Like the traditional greens and browns of army gear, or the beige tones used for desert combat. But what can possibly be so jagged in black-and-white that you could morph with its style like this? Some sort of explosion in a print factory? No, the idea here is not simply to hide, but to hide in plain sight; to confuse and distort. Dazzle camo first appeared on ships in World War I, its deliberately interruptive patterns intended not to conceal the vessels, but to make it impossible to judge how big they were, how fast they were going, and how far away they were. And that’s why the offbeat camo works so well today on a wide-body Pandem E36 M3, and makes those three questions are easy to answer. How big is it? Very, thanks to those Rocket Bunny extensions. How fast is it going? Again, very – it’s an M3. How far away is it? Sweetheart, it’s totally in your face.
The act of being totally in your face is all in a day’s work for Carl Taylor, of course. He, as some of you will be aware, is the driving force behind the Players shows as well as a marketing superhero for Air Lift, and what he doesn’t know about badass show-stopping rides could be comfortably felt-tipped on the back of a postage stamp. The germ of the idea that led to this car in fact appeared back before Wörthersee 2014, when Carl and Rotiform’s Brian Henderson built a pair of E36 Art Cars with Rocket Bunny kits; a 323i and a 325i. “I loved driving that car, and I decided I needed to build another one once I moved to the States… but this time with more power,” he recalls. “So I bought an M3. I found it locally after I moved to California – it was in pretty good condition, the paint was sunburnt but that didn’t matter as I was planning to wrap it anyway,” he says.
Now, you don’t get to be the figurehead of an industry powerhouse like Players without having a few ideas buzzing around the ol’ brainbox – here’s a man who, after all, can count around fifty cars in his personal history with every single one of them being modified in some way or another – so of course he had a plan for the car. Its fate was written in the stars before he’d even hauled it back to his sun-drenched new home. “I’d broken up the Wörthersee car and saved some parts from that,” he explains. And before the scene knew just what had hit it, Carl was delivering a sucker punch at SEMA 2014 with a fresh, super-wide new build. It wore a minty green Tic-Tac race livery, chosen to emulate the Team Valier E30 M3 that used to race in the DTM, but caricaturised to be broader, fatter, meaner, scarier. The E36’s stock arches were unceremoniously savaged to allow the fitment of a full Sarto Racing kit, with non-M bumpers swapped on to flow more cleanly with the new lines. A set of colossal Rotiform ROCs filled the arches, resplendent in satin gold, and – inevitably, given Carl’s line of work – a top-of-the-range Air Lift setup found its way in. It had a full-on race car look inside; Cobra bucket seats, a rollcage, not a lot else. The effect was pleasingly startling, Carl’s decades-old coupé with its relatively short (but nevertheless superbly well-chosen) spec list more than holding its own against the show’s multi-million dollar builds. What’s key with projects like this, you see, is being relatable as well as aspirational. When you make something as awesome as the Tic-Tac E36, you can shift a lot of wheels, and air-ride kits, and seats, and bodykits, and… well, you know how the game’s played.
The game, naturally, never stops. Not for a second. So it was imperative for Carl to shake up the formula right away; the car would be returning to SEMA the following year, and it had to be rocking some significant changes. You can’t stand up on a Broadway stage and sing the same song twice. The next thing we knew, the broadhipped M3 was wearing a fresh Art Carinspired wrap, emulating that Wörthersee road trip that kicked the whole process off, along with a Rocket Bunny Pandem kit, a jarring set of Rotiform USF wheels (a sort of double-three-spoke affair, very retro JDM) and a raft of detail changes. The scene was set for the car to once again break necks and steal hearts at the world’s largest aftermarket tuning show.
Except that, as is his wont, Carl changed his mind at the eleventh hour. “Six weeks before SEMA 2015, I decided to change it a bit,” he says, dabbling masterfully in understatement. Indeed, you’ve probably spotted the car’s not dolled up like an oldschool Art Car in these photographs; no, we’re back at the dazzle camouflage motif we opened with. And there’s also a V2 Pandem kit thrown into the mix. This isn’t so much hiding in plain sight as just running up to people in the street and smacking them across the chops with an embroidered leather glove. If you want a fight, sure, this angry M3 is definitely spoiling for a rumble. “Being a sales manager for Air Lift Performance, I had to equip the car with the latest 3H system with Performance struts,” Carl reasons, “and we had Because Bags create a custom rollcage install for it too.”
This really is a sight to behold, the way the tanks and hardlines caress the cage like one of those terrifying metal spiders in The Matrix. It’s details like this that steal the SEMA headlines. “I only ever run Rotiform too,” he grins. “The design was left down to Brian Henderson, however I did choose the Corky Pink finish myself to add some colour to the car.” Yep, you certainly can’t argue with the logic of that. Those flashy fourspokes do stand out, don’t they?
“We’d just decided that we really needed to make a change if we were going to return to SEMA with the same car,” Carl shrugs. “We had the race car interior theme reworked with some custom Cobra Suzuka Pro seats, and the wheels came out perfectly, the finish is amazing – I think they’re my favourite part of the car. The rebuild took Vaderwerks around two weeks to finish up, with the kit install and then wrapping it and setting the air up with the new wheels. Everything worked out perfect.”
Now, it’s probably time to address the elephant in the room. SEMA 2015 was a little while ago… so why are we featuring the car now, in 2017? Well, this ‘zebra’ evolution was only one step of many along this everevolving car’s path. Things have happened between then and now. Important things. “The car was sold before we were even back from SEMA,” Carl admits. “Someone heard about the project and made an offer, so it was time for something else. I regret selling this car, to be honest, as after all the work it looked the best ever.”
But he needn’t be sad, as the car’s latest curator isn’t one to rest on his laurels or let the grass grow. Dylan Coleman is the name to watch – you may know him as @hawaiianeze on Instagram – and he’s a man with more than a few plans. Dylan’s set up a pretty astonishing business in Hollywood, you see: he and his father, Lee, are the brains behind StreetFighter LA, and they’ve been working with the fabled Long Tran at LTMW to kick out some pretty mould-breaking builds. “I was looking for another project to start after we parted with our #ProjectHulk Liberty Walk Challenger,” he explains. “I’d come from a BMW background, and the E36 M3 has always been one of my favourite models. While looking around for potential cars, our friends at Rotiform Wheels contacted us and just so happened to know someone who was looking to sell…”
Yes, Sherlock, that person was Carl. So Dylan was cruising around LA in one of the world’s best-known BMW builds. That must have felt pretty good? “Well, yes and no,” he says. “We brought the car back to Los Angeles after SEMA, where I started to use it as a daily driver while we were finishing up some other projects. But although the car was a great build that caught the attention of everyone on the road, I never truly felt the connection like I did with my past projects; with high mileage and a stock engine it was time to look to start rebuilding or swapping the engine…”
But that, friends, is another story for another day. You’ll just have to keep an eye on your favourite BMW modifying magazine for the next chapter. For now, however, let’s leave Dylan basking in the glory of Carl’s achievements, sprinkling on some of his own unique blend of magic, and formulating his plan of attack to take this iconic build to the next level. Hiding in plain sight? Boy, it sure is dazzling.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Wide-body #Air-ride #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E36 / #Rotiform / #Air-Lift-Performance / #Air-Lift / #BMW / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body-E36 / #BMW-E36-Wide-Body / #BMW-E36-Art-Car / #BMW-Art-Car / #BMW
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION Stock #S52B32 / #S52 / #BMW-S52 3.2-litre straight six, full #Magnaflow stainless steel exhaust system, #K&N induction. Five-speed manual gearbox, welded diff
CHASSIS 17” #Rotiform-RBQ wheels in Corky Pink with 235/45 (front) and 255/40 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, full #Air-Lift-Performance-3H airride System
EXTERIOR #Rocke-Bunny-Pandem-V2 wide-body kit with #Downstar fixings, custom-designed 3M wrap by JD Wraps installed by #Vaderwerks , #AC-Schnitzer mirrors
INTERIOR #Renown steering wheel, custom Cobr a Suzuka Pro seats, #Wiechers roll cage, custom Because Bags roll cage-mounted #Air-Lift install
THANKS Gino the Master Sepe at Vaderwerks, Brian, Jason and the Rotiform team, Mark and Adam at Cobra Seats, James and Ken at Because Bags, Corey and all my Air Lift Colleagues, Russ and Erik at JD Wraps, Paul Kitch at 3M, Stan at Toyo Tires, 714 Tires, LTMW, Magnaflow, and Renown
“I had to equip the car with the latest 3H system with Performance struts”
“The wheels came out perfectly, the finish is amazing - I think they’re my favourite part of the car”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation’CHARGED Z3 M Track-focussed monster. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Patrick Lauder. From bone stock to supercharged autocross monster, this Z3 M Coupé has spent 14 years becoming the best machine it can be.
Supercharged / #BMW-Z3M-Coupe / #BMW-Z3M-Coupé-E36/8 / #BMW-Z3M-E36/8 / #BMW-Z3-E36/8 / #BMW-E36/8 / #BMW-Z3M / #BMW-Z3M-Coupe-Supercharged / #BMW-Z3-Supercharged / #BMW-Z3M-Coupe-Supercharged-E36/8 / #BMW-Z3 / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E36/8 / #BMW
In America they call it the clown shoe; in the UK we call it the bread van but whatever you choose to call it the Z3 Coupé remains an incredibly special and unique machine. #BMW attempted to recapture the magic of its quirky miniature shooting brake with the E86 Z4 Coupé and while it was arguably a better car, it was also a lot more conventional and lost a lot of the appeal of its quirky forebear. Being unconventional may have caused people to fall in and out of love with the Z3 Coupé throughout its life but standing out from the crowd has most definitely worked in favour of the eye-catching machine and that is exactly why Grant Gillum ended up buying this car.
“I wasn’t a BMW guy per se,” Grant begins, “but I knew they made a quality product. As college was ending I began researching nice used cars to purchase after graduation. I wanted a front engine, rear-wheel-drive car that could be modified and used for autocross and track days. It would also be my daily for a while. After considering several cars including Corvettes, Camaros, Porsche 944s and 928s, the Pontiac GTO (not a used car at the time), Datsuns and Nissans of many years and models, I decided on an E36 M3. I liked the styling, the daily sensibilities and the aftermarket availability. They were also uncommon and more exclusive. All that changed the day that I saw a Z3 Coupé in traffic,” he says. “I had seen a million Z3 Roadsters and wasn’t really interested in a convertible. But this was different and I wasn’t even sure what I was looking at. I certainly didn’t recognize it as a Z3. It had a BMW logo so I started researching all their models, eventually finding information on the M Coupé. All the engine of an M3 but lighter, with a factory wide body, staggered wheels and a look that was comparable to some exotics. Sold. I had to have one,” he smiles. “It took nine months of scouring the internet to find the right one.
I bought a 22k mile example, bone stock but for a Dinan CAI and a stage one tune and still under warranty. I bought it sight unseen except photos and had it shipped cross country. I realized right away too that the M Coupé was a limited production run vehicle and so would be a cheap way for a blue collar guy to own something special. I bought the car knowing it would be a lifelong project car. I’ve known plenty of grey haired dudes that sold the hot rod of their youth and regretted it the rest of their lives. Not me. Hopefully,” he adds.
Unlike other owners who buy their cars and start out with no plans for modifying, Grant knew he was going to mod the Z3 and knew exactly which direction he wanted to take it in. “I wanted to race it right away and joined an autocross club soon after buying it,” he says, and his passion for autocross is shared by his wife. “Six years ago she came with me for a day at the track. She rode along on a couple runs and decided to give it a try. Except when pregnant, she’s raced in nearly every autocross event that I have since then. Averaging our times to a 60 second run, she’s about a half second off me. She’s been as close as a tenth second off my time. I’m much more of a fundamental driver, she drives much more by the seat of her pants. As soon as she tightens up her fundamentals, she’ll beat me,” he says. While you can take any car to an autocross event, if you’re serious about this particular form of motorsport, as Grant is, then your car will need to be modified and in a focussed way that will enable you to get the most out of it, which is why virtually everything he’s done to his Z3 has been all about making it a more finely-honed, precision autocross instrument.
It’s also why the supercharger that you can see strapped to the side of the engine came last and everything else came first as the chassis, handling and dynamics were the priorities here.
Wheels and tyres were the first items on what would become quite an extensive shopping list and while aesthetics do obviously play a part, lightness was mostly the deciding factor as far as wheel choice was concerned. “I went online and found the lightest wheels I could for the car,” explains Grant. “I bought a set of OZ Alleggerita HLTs in 8x17” and 8.5”x17”. They were light at less than 17lbs (7.7kg) per corner and dropped considerable unsprung weight over the stock wheels and I converted to wheel studs too.
I ran those wheels for a couple of autocross seasons before switching the rears to the front and widening the fronts to 10” and putting them on the rear. Now they weigh 16.8lbs (7.6kg) and 17.9lbs (8.1kg) front and rear; they are light, strong and handsome,” and what more could anyone ask for from a wheel? “I also run a set of 8x18” and 9x18” ASA AR1 wheels with black centres and 2” and 3” polished lips front and rear on the street,” he adds. The 17s really suit the Z3, as you can see in the photos, especially with the fat sidewalls of the super-sticky BF Goodrich g-Force R1 tyres filling out the arches and those tyres let you know that this M Coupé means business.
With lightweight wheels and track tyres taken care of, the next item on Grant’s to-do list was the suspension, and while he started off small, things quickly escalated. “I started with H&R springs and kept them for a few years until they sagged,” he says, “then I switched to Ground Control coilovers and adjustable spring perches. But not before modding the anti-roll bars with reinforcements, adding differential reinforcements, rear shock mounts, sub frame reinforcements and rear camber and toe adjustments. Then I poly bushed it followed by aluminium control arms.
“Disaster struck at the autocross one day when the diff pulled away from the subfloor and the rear end went squishy,” says Grant. “I thought that one of the rear anti-roll bar end links had given way. That’s how I got a tube frame rear subfloor that is way stiffer than the stock car ever thought of being. I love the coilovers, of course, but the single greatest suspension mod was poly bushing the rear subframe. It really changed the way the car transitioned weight in-corner to being much more predictable,” he says. As is often the case when it comes to modding, when things go wrong, break or fail, rather than just replacing them you upgrade them so, as with his boot floor, when the clutch started to slip Grant fitted an F1 Racing stage two clutch and 14lbs chromoly flywheel as well as a stainless steel clutch line and then added a UUC short shift kit and double shear selector rod plus a Z3 2.3 steering rack. Further drivetrain upgrades include a poly differential bush, UUC aluminium engine and transmission mounts and a rebuilt diff with four clutch zero preload and 80/60 ramping, polished ring and pinion gears and a 3.64 final drive in place of the standard 3.23 item. “Before the supercharger, lowering the final drive was a really dramatic NA mod. It went a long way to help pull me out of slow second gear turns,” explains Grant.
With the suspension and drivetrain taken care the Z3 was a far sharper machine but now the car’s stopping abilities needed to be addressed. “When I started doing a lot of track days it was apparent that the stock brakes were not up to long days of abuse,” he says. “That’s when I did the brake conversion and ducting. What a difference and zero fade. I didn’t go too big on the disc diameter as I was concerned with reducing as much rotational weight as possible, as autocross is more of a low speed competition.” The Z3 now wears Wilwood six-pot Superlite front calipers with 330mm GT-48 floating discs and Wilwood Dynalite four-pot rear calipers with 312mm lightweight discs and Wilwood B pads allround, while the ducting ensures that the brakes receive plenty of cool air to deliver peak performance at all times.
Having carried out all the groundwork to make sure that all aspects of the chassis and drivetrain were at peak performance, Grant could now turn his attention to extracting more power from the engine.
Unlike our Euro-spec Z3 M models, the US cars were fitted with the S52B32 engine, based on the M52, which had to make do with 240hp and 236lb ft of torque so it’s no surprise that Grant wanted to up these numbers. “I started with keeping the engine NA and wanted to let it breathe better,” he says. “I upgraded the cooling system with a rad, water pump thermostat and cover immediately. I kept the CAI and did the M50 intake manifold exchange and I also did the BBTB at the same time. A cat-back exhaust followed and a year later came exhaust manifolds and a mid-pipe. In general I would wait until OE parts needed replacement and would upgrade at that time; that way the financial hit of modifying was lessened by taking the money I would be spending on OE parts and putting that towards upgrades.
I replaced all the water hoses throughout and the oil cooler followed when I started doing more track days, as I live a 40 minute drive from Thunderhill Raceway here in California. While on track there one day the bottom radiator hose slipped off and started spewing out coolant; I realised it had happened within seconds but even though I coasted into the pits the water temp gauge showed hot and that’s how I got the new head and I went to under-driven pulleys then as well.
“After the rest of the car was pretty modified I bought the supercharger kit. I had become a dad and my wife wanted me to do less high speed track driving and just drive autocross, so after close to two dozen track days at Thunderhill my focus changed with regard to driving. I needed just a little more low-end torque to pull me out of slow second gear turns when I didn’t want to shift to first gear at autocross,” and the supercharger kit has certainly given Grant the grunt he was after. It’s an Active Autowerke Stage 1 kit with a Rotrex C38-92 supercharger and is accompanied by numerous supporting mods. “I removed the air con, replaced the alternator, installed the power steering cooler, did the oil pan/pump upgrade and fitted an ATI Super Damper, crank pulley and carried out a CCV delete with the supercharger kit,” he says. “The baseline dyno when I bought the car was 205hp and 203lb ft of torque at the wheels; the NA mods took that up to 230whp and 222lb ft and it now makes 312whp and 262lb ft at the wheels on the same dyno. Active Autowerke claims that this kit makes 360hp on a stock car; I’ve done a lot of other work to the engine, so if they want to claim 360hp I want to claim somewhere in the 380hp range,” says Grant. “That seems excessive, though, and I usually just quote my dyno numbers,” and that’s still plenty to enjoy both on road an track, and a huge increase over stock.
While Grant has focussed mainly on the performance and dynamic elements of the car he has not forgotten about aesthetics, both inside and out. The exterior as been enhanced with Motion Motorsports front splitters and aluminium undertay, a one-off AC Schnitzer rear diffuser centre section, the roof spoiler has been raised by 8mm to enhance the roofline and Grant’s also fitted black kidney grilles, black lower mesh grilles and carbon-look roundels among other things. The interior, meanwhile, has been treated to a Momo Competition steering wheel on a quick release hub, chrome handbrake handle, E46 M3 short shift gearknob, black leather gaiter with tricolour stitching and M Tech pedals and dead pedal. There’s also a H3R black HalGuard fire extinguisher, but this was added as a necessity following a scary incident…
“While testing the car after installing the M50 manifold a fuel hose wasn’t secured completely and popped off and sprayed fuel over the exhaust manifold,” says Grant. “Thank god the car wasn’t warmed up all the way and only billowed white smoke. I pulled over immediately and ran. It continued to smoke for a long, heart-pounding five minutes. I fitted the fire extinguisher after that,” he says.
Grant’s Z3 is a focussed build that’s been taken in a specific direction and the results speak for themselves. While it looks great it’s the changes that you can’t see and that we can’t experience or appreciate that make this car. It’s the vast amount of chassis work, the brakes, the hundreds of seemingly minor secondary mods that are so important for the success of the whole and which all add up to make a such big difference. This Z3 has evolved hugely during the 14 years that Grant has owned it, from autocross machine to track monster and back to autocross beast but this time with the wick turned way, way up, becoming more and more focussed at each stage and it’s not reached its final form just yet…
“In the not-too-distant future this car will retire from competition after nearly 80,000 miles that saw it driving to almost monthly autocross events (10 months a year). I have a pile of class win trophies adding, in my small way, to BMW’s racing heritage. I’ll paint and mount the new bumper and splitters I have waiting. I’ll delete the fog lights and the antenna for a cleaner look. At that time I’d also like a nice set of multipiece step-lipped wheels,” he nods, painting an attractive picture. At that point it’ll become a different animal altogether but whether or not that will be its final stage of evolution will remain to be seen…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Supercharged E36/8 Z3 M Coupé / #Active-Autowerke-Stage-1 / #Active-Autowerke / #Rotrex / #VAC / #Dinan /
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / #BMW-S52 / #S52 / #S52-Supercharged , #UUC engine mounts, Active Autowerke Stage 1 supercharger kit with #Rotrex-C38-92 supercharger, CAI, 3” MAF, High flow Bosch fuel injectors, supercharger oil cooler, AA stage 1 programming for BBTB and M50 intake with 7k redline, polished supercharger bracket, #ATI-Super-Damper , #VAC-lightweight crank pulley, #Dinan big bore throttle body, M50 intake manifold and fuel rail cover, intake runner heat shields, Dr. Vanos stage 2 kit with cam gears, timing chains and solenoid, Turner shorty ceramic coated exhaust manifolds, ARP header studs, fiberglass manifold and exhaust wrap, SAS Racing dual 2.5” mid-pipes with stock cats, dual 2.75” Supersprint stainless cat-back exhaust, #BMP design exhaust tips, #VAC oil pump upgrade, VAC oil pan baffle, #Behr S54 E46 triple row radiator, 80° thermostat, power steering cooler, Stewart high-flow water pump with steel impeller, polished aluminum thermostat housing, polished aluminum water pump nut, 80/88º fan switch, Spal 16” electric puller fan, clutch fan delete, new overflow tank, BMP brass water bleeder, VAC 5x7” oil cooler with polished Euro oil filter housing, stock head gasket, #ARP head studs, head polished and gasket matched, new valve guides, lashes, locks and retainers, valve job, resurfaced head, hydraulic belt tensioner, CCV delete, new Valeo 115 app alternator, AC delete, radiator baffle.
POWER and torque 312whp and 262lb ft wtq
TRANSMISSION #ZF-Type-C / #ZF five-speed manual gearbox, #F1-Racing 14lbs chromoly flywheel and stage 2 clutch, stainless clutch line, UUC short shifter and double shear selector rod, poly differential bush, UUC aluminium transmission mounts, rebuilt diff with four clutch zero pre-load and 80/60 ramping, 3.64:1 final drive, polished ring and pinion gears
CHASSIS 8.5”x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #OZ-Alleggerita-HLT / #OZ wheels with 255/45 (front and rear) BF Goodrich g-Force R1 tyres, #Ground-Control front coilovers with Koni adjustable shocks, Eibach 500lbs front springs and 600lbs rear springs, Ground Control adjustable rear spring perches, Ground Control front camber and caster plates, #Racing-Dynamics 21mm front and 19 mm rear anti-rolls bars and end links, SAS Racing rear anti-roll bar reinforcements, #SAS-Racing differential reinforcements, SAS Racing rear shock mount reinforcements, Turner Motorsport aluminium and poly rear upper shock mounts, Ireland poly control arm bushes, #Turner front subframe reinforcements, Ireland poly rear trailing arm bushes, Turner rear camber and toe adjustments, 90mm rear and 75mm front lug stud conversion, E30 M3 polished aluminum control arms, Turner front hub extenders, Ground-Control bump stops, SAS Racing tube frame rear sub-floor, Z3 2.3 steering rack, #Wilwood sixpiston Superlite calipers with 330mm GT-48 floating discs with aluminium hats (front), Wilwood four-piston Dynalite calipers with 312mm lightweight discs (rear), Wilwood B pads (front and rear), stainless brake lines, Turner front brake backing plates and duct work, SAS Racing vented rear brake backing plates, new master cylinder and reservoir
EXTERIOR Arctic silver, Motion Motorsports front splitters and aluminium undertay, #AC-Schnitzer one-off rear diffuser centre section, OEM fog light kit, rear roof spoiler adjusted up 8mm and colour-matched, polished wiring harness brackets, door jamb stickers removed, carbon-look roundels, passenger wiper delete, HID headlamps with side markers and corner lamps colour matched, stealth turn signal bulbs, tinted tail lights, colour-matched wiper nozzles and hatch latch, black kidney grilles, black mesh lower grilles, rear wiper delete, clear front corner markers, front plate holder delete, new windscreen and exterior mouldings
INTERIOR Black and grey two-tone leather interior, Momo 350mm Competition steering wheel with hub, 15 mm spacer and adaptor, carbon-look roundel, Snap-off Industries steering wheel quick release hub, chrome handbrake handle, E46 M3 short gear knob, M Tech pedals and dead pedal, front and rear M logo floor mats, E36 M3 window button surrounds, black leather gaiters with tricolour stitching, windscreen and window tints, sun visor stickers removed, glove box facelift, carbon horn pin adapter, H3R black HalGuard fire extinguisher, poly seat bushes, custom rear hatch parcel shelf
Thanks My wife, for her all patience and participation. Jerard Shaha at SAS Racing, my 30-year mechanic and friend. He rebuilt my El Camino in 1987! SAS Racing has done all the work on this car over the years. Their specialty is racecar setup but they perform all mechanical work and fabrication to an expert level as well as engine building and auto transmission rebuilds (firstname.lastname@example.org). Jason Shaha, my childhood best friend and Jerard’s brother. Thanks for planting that competitive seed from your family into me. See you at the next race? The long-standing crew at Trinity Touring Club. Thanks for your loyalty to our sport and dedication to our club. If I didn’t have to drive 90 minutes each way I’d be at all the club meetings (trinitytouringclub.com)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationS52-SWAP E30
Slick, static and on Pokal splits
Still waters run deep. And if you think this E30 is simply a case of fancy wheels and a suspension drop, you’re about to get schooled at the next set of traffic lights… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Steve Hall.
With ultra-clean looks and sitting static over Pokal splits, this S52-swapped E30 is a slice of modified BMW perfection.
‘Ultimate’ is one of those words that gets thrown around hyperbolically these days, rather like ‘awesome’. If someone were to tell you that your shoes are awesome, you might reasonably hope that they’d then drop to their knees, speechless, agog, unable to mentally process the sheer magnificence of said shoes. No? Of course not! Language evolves by the manner in which it’s spoken.
‘Awesome’ just means ‘good’ nowadays. But ‘ultimate’, that should still carry some weight, surely? The term either means a) the final point of a process or b) the best or most extreme example of something. So we’re going to shock you here and posit that the car you’re looking at is a strong contender for the title of ‘the ultimate E30’.
I know, it’s a bit of a melon-twister, but stick with it. It may seem an extraordinary claim, given the sheer wealth of high-quality second-gen 3 Series out there, many of which have been adoringly showcased in these very pages, but this one’s owner – Scott from Renown Steering Wheels, no less – makes a pretty strong case for it. “It’s all in the details,” he grins. “The best colour, a very clean interior, the best engine with strong power everywhere, amazing looks, light weight – it’s hard to beat!”
Compelling indeed but is that little shopping list enough? The answer is yes, but let’s make the scenery go all wibbly for a second as we hop back in time to build a bit of back-story. It’ll help you see where all of this came from.
“I’ve loved cars my whole life, mostly ’80s motorsport themed cars,” Scott explains. “When I was a kid, my uncle had an E30 M3, and from the first time sitting in it I was mesmerised. Everything about it was so driver-centric – how the dash was angled towards the driver, the instantaneous response, its composure in corners…
“My first car was an ’87 Supra in metallic brown; not great in Wisconsin winters but a superb GT car, and to this day I love an in-line six noise. Then I got one of my dream cars, a Mk2 Golf GTI, and I’ve had a dozen Mk2s since. I still have one. I got my first E30 while finishing college. I’ve had over 60 cars, ranging from my ’90s WRC dream cars – like the GC8 STi and a few screaming S2000s – to many, many old BMWs.”
Okay, so he’s set the scene pretty neatly. That E30 of his college days must have made quite a lasting impression, then, in conjunction with the memories of his uncle’s old M3? “Yes, I’ve had lots of E30s,” Scott confirms, “and I couldn’t resist this one. I bought it within hours of it being listed online. It was a very well-looked-after 318iS in my favourite colour, Diamond Schwartz Metallic, with a cloth interior and a few very tasteful mods. I just knew I could turn it into the ultimate E30… and I’ve had it for six years now; while I’ve had several other E30s in that time, this has always been the one that’s received the most love.”
Now, we’re going to cut to the chase and face up to the one thing that’ll really annoy classic BMW purists: the engine swap. For while the 318iS is much sought after for its purity and cult classic status, that wasn’t enough to encourage Scott to keep it all stock. “I am a huge fan of the M42 engine,” he assures us, “and the car handled amazingly and could be driven 100% because, while it isn’t very powerful, the balance is incredible and requires good driving to be fast. But the motor got tired eventually, so the decision was made to go for a naturally aspirated S52 setup with mods to get the most power out of it and to remain reliable.”
He says this airily, as if it’s all in a day’s work, but an S52 swap is a very cool thing indeed for an E30. In a nutshell, the S52 is a high-performance variant of the venerated M52 straight-six, and you’d normally find it in the North American-market face-lifted E36 M3. You’re looking at a 3.2-litre displacement and an output of 240hp right out-of-the-box. Saucy stuff for a 318iS, right?
Of course, this was a considered conversion, Scott didn’t just say ‘okay, my M42’s knackered, let’s find something else to plonk in there’. The OBD1-converted M3 motor brought its native gearbox and propshaft along for the ride, with an LSD out back facilitating the hijinks. The sump has been necessarily truncated and wears an armoured skidplate – you’ll see why in a moment – while the engine also enjoys an M50 intake manifold, juicy fuelling, and a robust remap. Quite a lot of shove to shoehorn into a 318iS, then, but Scott’s kept it subtle, the custom exhaust culminating in an iS-style tailpipe to keep people guessing. So why armour-plate the underneath?
Because this thing is low, that’s why. And static, too, not hopping on air or hydros. Ground Control coilovers keep the rubber snugly acquainted with the arches and again Scott’s taken a holistic approach to the chassis: chunky anti-roll bars, M3 control arms and a quick Z3 steering rack make the E30 eminently chuckable. Then there’s a set of E30 M3 Brembos to rein it all back in again. Perfect for canyonrunning, as well as the odd trip to the track. “It’s been a battle to get the car as balanced as it was before with the added weight and power,” Scott says, “but it is deceivingly fast in just about any situation!” Which is just the way it should be. We like ‘deceivingly fast’, together they’re two of our favourite words.
What really stands out when Scott’s waxing lyrical about his E30 is how much he cares about the details. There are a lot of people out there who’ll just farm a project out to a professional builder on the assumption that the right choices will be made but Scott really does sweat the small stuff. It’s no coincidence that he’s the driving force behind Renown USA – he likes things done right, and if the right way doesn’t yet exist, he does it himself.
“I started Renown at the end of 2014, because I couldn’t find the parts I wanted for my cars,” he explains. “I’ve always been fascinated with steering wheels, and for many of the cars I love, the original steering wheel isn’t that interesting and definitely not the best choice for spirited driving. So I wanted to create a brand that would offer products that feel like they belong in the car, have proper aesthetics that don’t look like they’re begging for attention, and enhance the driving experience.” Naturally he needs the most extrovert Renown wheel possible in his own car, which is why you see a startlingly blue example here – a clear focal point for the interior. “I started Renown with the help of this E30’s character, and continue to test all products in this car,” he says. “I plan to continue making it the best it can be – that’s why, for me, it’s the ultimate E30. You can follow my BMW adventures on Instagram too, on @renownusa – things are always changing.”
What Scott enjoys most about his car is its initial stealth-like element of surprise. When he’s not out driving the canyons or commuting through San Francisco, he can often be found at car shows and meets across LA, where he constantly enjoys the double-takes of passers-by who at first assume that it’s just another clean 3 Series, before zooming in for a closer look and unearthing all the work that’s gone into it. Because there’s a lot. While a first glance may sideline the car as a simple stop-drop-and- roll, there’s so much going on under the surface, like the frantically flapping feet beneath a serenely floating swan.
So is it the ultimate E30? No, we’re not going to go that far – there’s a lot of you out there doing cool stuff, and we know you’ll continue to push the boundaries. But it is Scott’s ultimate E30, and that’s all it needs to be. He’s set the bar pretty damn high with this one, hasn’t he? Power, looks, poise, quality, subtlety… it’s the product of relentless refinement, and it shows.
Interior has been treated to a bright blue Renown Monaco steering wheel and sexy Renown Carousel carbon gear knob.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE S52-swapped #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-S52 / #Pokal-Felgen / #BMW /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / #S52 / #BMW-S52 from US E36 M3, OBD1 conversion, M50 intake manifold, E39 M5 3.5” intake, #Bosch-Cobra injectors, #Turner-Motorsport tune, shortened oil pan, #Red46 Sump Armor skidplate, custom exhaust with OEM 318iS-style tailpipe, E36 M3 #ZF320 gearbox, E36 M3 propshaft, OEM Z4 short-shift, OEM 2.93 LSD
CHASSIS 9x17” (front) and 10.5x17” (rear) #Pokal-Felgen-GRB10SC wheels with 215/40 (front) and 235/40 (rear) Falken Azenis F tyres, E30 M3 five-stud hubs, E30 M3 aluminium control arms, #Ground-Control coilovers, #AKG bushings, front and rear anti-roll bars, Z3 steering rack, Sparco Motorsport solid tower bar, E30 M3 Brembo brakes, stainless steel brake lines, Porsche brake booster
EXTERIOR Diamond Schwartz Metallic, non-sunroof, shaved keyholes, windscreen washer jets and antenna, smoothed bumpers, OEM Euro grilles, trim and numberplate panel, OEM Hella smiley headlights, iS sideskirts, Hella smoked indicators, DDM 5k HID lights, BBS spoiler
INTERIOR Renown Monaco Motorsport steering wheel in blue suede, Renown Carousel carbon-fibre gear knob, Renown Motorsport gaiters, OEM Euro Recaro cloth interior and rear headrests, E87 1M floor mats, OEM black carpet and map light mirror, E30Head console cupholder
THANKS Elizabeth at PBMW, Adam Radzi, Sutton, Evan Van Tran, Yoshi of Pokal, Tyson of DirtyThirty, Fatlace, my fiancée, and the entire Renown family around the world
“It is deceivingly fast in just about any situation”
“I plan to continue making it the best it can be – that’s why it’s the ultimate E30”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFully Converted #Alpina-B3 3.3
The story behind one man’s love affair with his delightful Alpina B3 3.3 Convertible. Alpina’s E46 B3 was an excellent alternative to BMW’s M3 and the owner of this example was so smitten by the car that he changed jobs to become even closer to the brand. Words and photography: Matt Richardson.
A buyer of a BMW convertible has already made the decision that they don’t want a run-of-the-mill car but to step up to something better. Then there are those like Dan Edwards who just want something with a touch more exclusivity.
Not to be confused with an aftermarket tuning or styling house, Bavaria-based Alpina has come a long way since its start as a typewriter builder. The company’s first involvement with BMW was in 1962 developing Weber carburettors for the then-new 1500. It has since evolved and expanded and today is a bespoke car builder that works so closely with BMW that since 1983 has been recognised as a manufacturer in its own right. Its cars are now sold alongside the machines they are based on in BMW dealerships.
Alpina offers an alternative to BMW’s M Performance division with the emphasis on luxury and exclusivity rather than speed, not that performance or handling are neglected. With a highly tuned hand-built engine up front, power is dispensed very differently to the more aggressive delivery of an M car.
The son of a serial BMW owner (his father John has had 16 3 Series and more than 25 BMWs in total over the years), it’s no surprise that Dan’s first car was a BMW – a red E36 316i which soon wore a set of Alpina wheels, or so he thought until he discovered only the badges were real. Ten more BMWs followed, the latter being performance models and convertibles, often tweaked to make them a little more special. A Phoenix yellow E46 M3 Coupé became a CSL replica, which he made the mistake of swapping for an AMG SL55 which proved so unreliable it was sold for another BMW very quickly.
Eventually a similar but less well spec’d Mystic blue Alpina E46 B3 came on to the scene. Driving this 3.3-litre machine he found exactly what he’d been looking for in all the cars he’d been through. He’d already fallen for the looks of the E46 3 Series and with Alpina’s additional styling cues and the different power delivery, the overall feel of the car took hold and Dan started to form a bond with the brand, so much so that he took a job with Sytner BMW to work more closely with the cars. Another unexpected bonus Dan found was that it was cheaper to insure than an M3 or a modified car. However, he foolishly sold the blue B3 and immediately regretted it, so the hunt was on for another.
With nothing on the horizon, and a BMW-shaped hole in his life, Dan told his dad he “might just pick up another old M3 and do it up”. However, in July 2015, before finding an M car, he chanced upon this 2002 B3 3.3 at a sports car specialist near Birmingham who had taken it in part exchange.
This car couldn’t have been better; in Japan red with a perfect black hood and a removable hard-top the car looked stunning and had a good history. The last owner had owned it for seven years, and being the sort of car that attracts an enthusiastic owner, it was easy to track it down on web forums and get a good idea of the B3’s history. It looked like it had been a second car used by the owner’s wife and had needed little more than regular maintenance and a repainted bumper and bonnet to tidy up stone chips.
The basis of the B3 was BMW’s 328i, but that was just the starting point. The original chassis number was scribed through and a new Alpina number was stamped beneath it on the suspension turret. This may lead the uninitiated to think something untoward has gone on, but the new number is on the V5. Other underbonnet changes were more significant.
The M52 from the 328i was replaced with Alpina’s own motor, based on the BMW #S52B32 which in turn started life in the US-spec E36 M3. This USmarket engine was developed after the European M3’s #S50 engine failed to meet American emissions tests and where it made 240hp, it had in turn been developed from a standard 328 unit.
With a slight increase in capacity over the previous E36 generation’s 3.2-litre engine, Alpina continued to develop the straight-six to the 3.3-litre as found in this car and as a 3.4-litre incarnation later in the B3’s life thanks to an increase in bore. In this latter guise the B3 had an ‘S’ moniker to denote its additional power. The grey cast iron block gave excellent rigidity and retained the standard 86.4mm cylinder bore. Thanks to Alpina’s own crankshaft, the stroke was increased to 93.8mm which gave a total capacity of 3300cc.
With the goal of achieving a high-revving and very smooth motor, lightweight pistons reduced movement of free mass and a new camshaft helped the motor to rev cleanly to 7200rpm.
Alpina’s own air box, intake and performance exhaust system completed the package which now developed 280hp at 6200rpm. Even more impressively, the torque figure rose to 247lb ft at 4500rpm. This was ideally suited to the five-speed ZF Switch-Tronic automatic gearbox, with which the driver can either shift gears using buttons mounted on the steering wheel or let the gearbox do all the work. This combination gives effortless cruising, riding on that wave of torque its acceleration feels effortless and the car can manage 0-62mph in only 6.9 seconds, and charge on to 158mph.
Alpina also lowered the suspension, allowing the 18-inch 20-spoke wheels to fill the arches more fully. After 13 years of use, however, the distinctive trademark alloys were starting to show some wear, so Dan had them refurbished in-house at Sytner where he works, and they look brand-new again.
Alpina interiors offer more options for personalisation than the standard BMW brochure. When this B3 first drove off BMW dealership Blue Bell Wilmslow of Cheshire’s forecourt in March 2002 the new buyer had opted for Anthracite Buffalo leather seats at £3325. They also chose to have matching Buffalo leather covering on the centre console and transmission tunnel for a further £680.
Something Dan was particularly pleased with were the Alpina roundels in all four seat backs, a nice touch which was only available with the Buffalo hide which added £150 to the invoice. The on-the-road price totalled £45,810 – significantly more than a standard M3 Convertible.
Red rhomboids were embroidered in the doorcards and on the steering wheel which had matching red hand-stitching, all coordinating with the paintwork and the red piping on the seats. Dan hasn’t had to do much to the car since buying it, but the driver’s seat piping and bolster were worn, so vehicle trimmer Trim Tech repaired the piping and recoloured the driver’s seat, matching it to the rest of the interior.
In case the rumble of the larger exhaust was not enough company on a long drive, a Harman Kardon hi-fi system upgrade was specified, along with a #BMW six-CD auto changer, an accessory that has gone from being highly desirable to interestingly retro in a remarkably short space of time.
A final touch inside the car, a silver-plated production plaque mounted on the dashboard above the glovebox showed this car to be B3 cabriolet number 234, making it very exclusive with production ending later that year in 2002.
Now he has the car to how he wants it, will serial car flipper Dan be swapping his B3 for something else? “No, this is a long-term keeper,” he laughs, and although he might not be parting with this car, it’s unlikely to be his last Alpina.
TECHNICAL DATA #2002 / #Alpina-B3-3.3-Convertible-E46 / #Alpina-B3-3.3-Convertible / #Alpina-B3-3.3-E46 / #Alpina-B3-E46 / #Alpina-B3 / #Alpina / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-E46-Alpina / #BMW-E46-Convertible /
ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve
MAX POWER: 280hp @ 6200rpm
MAX TORQUE: 247lb ft @ 4500rpm
0-62MPH: 6.9 seconds
TOP SPEED: 158mph
PRICE (NEW): £45,810
With a highly tuned hand-built engine, power is dispensed differently to the more aggressive delivery of an M car.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAMERICAN BEAUTY / #BMW-E28 / #BMW-E28-S52-swapped / #BMW-E28-S52 / #BMW-E28-CAtuned / #BMW / #CAtuned /
Utterly stunning supercharged BMW E28 with built S52 swap. CAtuned’s latest creation is this absolutely stunning S52-swapped supercharged E28. Mixing classic Euro styling with some eccentric touches and a whole heap of power, this gorgeous E28 does things a bit differently and we love it… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Denis Podmarkov.
As far as feature cars are concerned, 2015 was a good year for the E28 and its fans. We had no less than four stunning examples of the classic Five, each very different to the other. Three of them were big-power turbocharged examples and the other was a lush S38- swapped machine from the UK. It was a good spread of great cars and a strong sign that the E28 is a firm favourite on the modified BMW scene. We’ve barely scratched the surface of 2016 and we’ve already had the pleasure of a supercharged E28 pair last month and now we’ve got another E28 to enjoy that boasts both an engine swap and forced induction. It really is a stunner.
When this car popped into the PBMW inbox it elicited a very positive reaction from us all. Big smiles and lots of head nodding all-round because it’s that sort of car, the kind of car that makes your day. There’s so much attention to detail, so many special details, it just makes us happy. Not as happy, though, as its owner. Ash Evans is the lucky guy who, when he’s not overhauling light rail trains, gets to enjoy cruising in the California sunshine in this E28.
For Ash, the car recalls fond memories. “My dad had a 1986 Bahama Beige 528e,” he tells us, “and I remember tagging along with him on the weekends to the local race track where he was a trackside announcer. I can distinctly remember him loving that car. And, as all young lads want to be like their dads, I knew then that I wanted a 5 Series.
Like every first love there is something about the smell, sound and understated styling that was intoxicating and addictive. There is also something special about the handling of BMWs in the twisties to which no other automaker can compare.”
Ash began his Bavarian journey with a 2001 E46 330Ci, which he loved and, as a self-confessed tinkerer, it was inevitable that his cars would end up modified. Although, when the E28 appeared in his life, going this far was not part of the plan. “I was looking for a classic BM and received some good advice from a friend,” Ash revealed. “He advised that when shopping for an old car, it’s best to find the cleanest example you can so you have a solid foundation.
“My preference was a Bahama Beige or Schwartz E28. I shopped for six months, finally deciding on this Schwartz that I nicknamed Black Shug. The previous owner of the car was an estate agent from Boulder, Colorado. She purchased it new from Beverly Hills #BMW and used it to sell homes in Los Angeles until she moved to Colorado. It was always stored in her garage and this was evident by the lack of corrosion. In my profession, corrosion is a nightmare and a budget killer.”
The car in question is a 528e, exactly like the one his dad owned all those years ago. In Europe we know it as the 525e. Both badges are numerically incorrect anyway, as the low-revving, efficiency-orientated M20 under the bonnet is a 2.7.
Ash says initially his plan was to keep things simple, replacing worn components, upgrading the suspension and fitting some more attractive wheels. As he admits, though, this is a slippery slope and everything changed when he came into contact with the team at CAtuned.
This name will be familiar to anyone into modified BMs as the Californian contingent has been behind numerous PBMW feature cars. Brothers Igor, Max and Co. always produce incredible builds, finished to the highest standards. “When I moved to Sacramento, I reached out to CAtuned because I was interested in its E28 coilover setup, big brake kit and subframe bushes.
After the suspension installation, I casually asked about the cost to complete a motor overhaul. After walking through its shop and observing the incredible builds and swaps the guys were capable of, I knew instantly the overhauled M20 would need to be replaced with something more powerful and perhaps unusual. The S52 was practically decided on that day and, as with any project, the goal quickly amplified. Soon we were discussing the copper trim, a custom gauge cluster, and a sport interior!”
The S52 is an interesting choice for an E28 swap; the non-e M20 or the M30, both period-correct engines for the E28, are great candidates for forced induction and what you’d usually expect to see on a Euro car rocking a serious turbo setup. The US-only iron block S52, though, is readily available in the States and has plenty of aftermarket support in terms of power upgrades, not least because of its 81hp shortfall compared to the European S50B32 which, usefully, includes off-the-shelf supercharger kits for plenty of power with minimal fuss. “The engine was a transplant from a 2001 E36 M3. It’s not a direct swap so CAtuned’s engineers built custom mounts,” explains Ash. “During the disassembly of the donor engine, we found some scarring on the cylinder walls so we sent the block to the machine shop, ordering all forged internals, porting and polishing the head, installing high flow valves and springs, and a Schrick cam. It’s all held together properly with ARP bolts. It was my goal to have a powerful engine and make the swap something unique and the VF Engineering V3 Si-trim supercharger kit was an excellent option for a reliable increase in power. The tuning and engine management was completed by RKtunes and maximises all the power available with the 8-9psi. The overhauled ZF gearbox, limited-slip differential and short-throw linkage makes for an incredible connection to the abundant power.”
And just how much power is this E28 putting out? Well, the S52 VF kit is good for 350hp and 295lb ft of torque on a stock engine at 6psi. With the extensively uprated internals and increased boost pressure it’s got to be at least 400hp, which is going to feel like a whole lot more in an E28.
“The engine transplant is my favourite modification on the whole car,” grins Ash. “The power is linear, controlled and very addictive. Simply put, the car eats Tarmac in a hurry and I could not be happier with this decision.”
And what about those CAtuned coilovers and chassis upgrades, the reason he went to CAtuned in the first place? “Most Americans love drag racing in a straight line,” he says, “but this chassis was designed to canyon carve with the most driver feedback possible. Therefore, CAtuned engineers helped decide on a coilover setup that would allow for a very sporty and responsive feel, predictable handling and allow a proper aesthetic. I could not be happier with their setup, especially considering the adjustable dampening for the front and rear.”
As you can see, Ash is not a man who does things by halves and that extends to the styling of the car, both inside and out, which is both incredibly subtle yet at the same time absolutely wonderful. At first glance, you might not notice much but once you get up close, that’s when you can drink in all the delicious details.
“I love having the performance of a race car but I do not want to be too obvious,” explains Ash. “I was aiming to keep the general styling of the E28 but wanted something very unique.” Well he’s achieved exactly that, with copper brightwork sitting aside the original chrome trim. On paper the idea of copper trim components perhaps doesn’t sound like it should work but the copper is incredible subtle, not overdone or overused. It’s very pale and delicate, almost leaning more towards a gold tone than a copper penny. “In general, I feel that the copper and chrome trim complements the Schwartz paint,” says Ash.
And we agree. Adding the copper highlights to the door handles, E12 door mirror (there’s only one), and bumper trims gives the styling an extra visual element. It’s as unusual as it is inspired and an eye-catching touch on a car that otherwise has been largely left unspoiled by the addition of unwanted addenda.
The wheels are a slightly unusual choice for an E28, a car which naturally seems to suit cross-spokes. Ash was even planning to refurbish a set of Style 5s for the car but then Igor stepped in and offered up something that was too special to turn down. “Igor always has something up his sleeve and I could not be happier with the extremely rare one-off two-piece HRE fivespokes he suggested,” says Ash. “When he sent me a picture showing me the wheels on the car, I was sold.”
The simple five-spokes look fantastic on the Five. The polished lips and faces tie in nicely with the rest of the shiny exterior details but our favourite part of the car’s styling has got to be that side exit exhaust. It’s just so unexpected on a car like this and really stands out. There’s a hint that something’s going on here, its bolted-on heat shield stained black, a tell-tale sign that Ash enjoys driving this car properly.
Inside the changes are, once again, subtle but purposeful and the devil is in the details. “Similar to the exterior, I wanted the interior to be refreshed but keep its OEM feel,” says Ash. “It was a CAtuned team effort and we decided on black cloth Corbeau GT2 driver and passenger seats, refurbished doorcards, new black cloth headliner, new black carpet with upgraded sound deadening and insulation, a Blaupunkt stereo, a subtle gauge cluster, and an Alpina steering wheel. You’ll also find some #BMW-Motorsports bits.”
The seats look fantastic and not at all out of place in the E28. The auxiliary gauges are neatly mounted in custom pods, tucked away, visible but not showy. There’s a modern Sport gear knob and we love the classic, freshly refurbished four-spoke Alpina steering wheel. The custom instrument cluster from Bavarian Restoration has had the needles and instrument bezels gilded and even the palm tree element of CAtuned’s logo has received a touch of gold. It’s a lovely touch, and indicative of the level of detail that’s gone into the whole build.
To our eyes this is a car that’s got it right on every level. It has been assembled with as much care for the details as for the overall ethos of the build. Modifications have been done in moderation. The subtle changes have created a sleeper that embraces various styling elements. We love how Ash has managed to surprise us with unexpected additions yet he brings them all together in perfect harmony. It’s a car you cannot fail to admire and one you can easily love.
DATA FILE Supercharged E28
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / #S52 / #BMW-S52 , forged internals including custom forged pistons, custom camshafts, custom Stage 3 supercharger with #RK-Tunes tune, custom exhaust system with side-exit tip, five-speed manual gearbox, LSD.
CHASSIS 8x17” (front and rear) one-off HRE Vintage two-piece wheels with 215/45 (front and rear) Falken Ziex ZE950 tyres, #Motorsport-Hardware spacers and studs, CAtuned coilovers, heavy duty front and rear anti-roll bars, CAtuned polybushes throughout, CAtuned rear camber kit, all E28 M5 suspension upgrades, CAtuned big brake upgrade front and rear.
EXTERIOR Euro styling upgrades, Renewed Finishes copper finish on all metal parts, E12 exterior mirror and passenger filler, 35 per cent tint all-round.
INTERIOR Custom Bavarian Restoration gauge cluster with exclusive CAtuned insignia, custom readout gauges in dash, Corbeau GT2 cloth seats, custom CAtuned black headliner, custom glass sunroof.
THANKS A very special thank you to all the guys at the CAtuned shop, it was a team effort. Igor with the amazing vision, Stan for the bodywork and paint, Max for the incredible fabrication, Alex for headliner and interior, and Ivan for helping to keep me focused. I would also like to thank Greg from Bavarian Restoration for the gauge cluster and Dave from Renewed Finishes for the beautiful copper work.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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Gorgeous bagged #BMW E30 with an #S52 swap and shaved bay
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
In the same family for almost 30 years, this ridiculously clean E30 has undergone quite a transformation in that time. Some heirlooms leave a more lasting impression than others, as we discover when we meet Nick Lanno from Ohio. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Patrick McCue.
It’s not often a car stays in the same family for almost 30 years, yet this 1987 325iS is the very same car that delivered Nick Lanno – the subject of our story – from hospital when he was born, and 15 years later became his first car.
That was in 2009, and Nick, now aged 22, has completely transformed the car from what it once was. He takes up the story: “My father bought the car brand-new from David Hobbs BMW in Chillicothe, Ohio, and he drove it on a daily basis right up until my teens, so it was always in the garage while we were wrenching on other vehicles together. That’s where my passion for cars started.”
Nick couldn’t help but fall in love with the E30 and as soon as he was old enough he began to research these cars. That’s when he got hooked on the blue and white roundel, as he explains: “The fact that they are truly a driver’s car is what attracted me to them the most. The heritage and history behind all these classic BMWs that people own is so interesting and they almost always carry a great story. I love every car BMW has made to this day and I will always be a BMW enthusiast.”
This was the car that took Nick to school, to soccer games, to friends’ houses, you name it – it was a huge part of his life and quite often he would while away the hours thinking how incredible it would be to own it one day. In 2000 it went into storage, and then, much to Nick’s surprise, nine years later it was taken out of storage and given to him on his 15th birthday! His childhood dream had come true.
“There was no other E30 I would rather have had than this car. It was perfect and despite having clocked up 120k, it was immaculate; all OEM parts, original paint, absolutely rust-free, and it had a full service history,” he recalls.
Needless to say it did not stay 100 per cent original for long. In fact, the first thing Nick did as soon as it was in his possession was lower it on a set of Ireland Engineering race springs. Other modifications included all red tail-lights, smoked Euro Smiley headlights and side repeaters, a later model front valance and a Zender rear valance. Shortly after that, the car then went back into storage so that over the next few years Nick could save some money and let the real transformation begin.
Once again it was the suspension that demanded Nick’s attention first: “After pouring through different forums looking at the various setups, I knew that to get the drop I really wanted I’d have to look into a custom air-ride setup.” Up front he’s installed Air Lift’s Crafter Series struts, while Air House II bags and Bilstein shocks reside out back. The rear spring perches were modified for the bags, as were the front spindles for the struts. The system is managed by Air Lift’s Autopilot V2, with plenty of presets all at the tip of Nick’s fingers in the centre console. “The setup is so convenient, making road trips as comfortable as can be, yet the car still handles fantastically in the corners. I have the best of both worlds,” he adds.
The car remained in this guise for the next three months, until one fateful day when the timing belt from the original M20B25 snapped. This prompted the next stage of the build. “I sourced a low-mileage S52B32 out of a 1999 M3 from a good friend in Cincinnati with roughly 70k on it,” Nick says. “I completely regasketed the motor from top to bottom, as well as safety wiring the oil pump nut, before fitting 21.5lb injectors, a lightened flywheel, and a 3.5” intake setup.” Together with a few friends, the swap took about a week to do. Apparently the maiden voyage with open headers put one of the biggest smiles on Nick’s face to this day. Not surprisingly it came to life as a completely different beast that day.
After two years of driving it across the States to various shows, Nick wanted to take the car to a new level – he wanted to shave, tuck and customise the engine bay. Fortunately a good friend of his owned a body shop so once Nick had pulled out the engine to take care of tidying up the wiring harness and deleting any non-essentials such as air-con and power steering, the car was sent off for six months to begin its transformation. “Everything looks so neat and beautiful under the bonnet now, but the star of the show has to be S52. It is so reliable and has plenty of power to make the car feel a blast to drive. It brings a smile to my face every time I’m behind the wheel.”
Whilst this car’s spec is a far cry from when Nick’s father bought it all those years ago, it’s still managed to retain its factory charm. And that’s because his objective throughout the build has been to keep things clean, simple and classy. The same philosophy has been applied to the cabin of the car, which is relatively stock save for the Nardi steering wheel, custom stitched M-Tech style gear knob and gaiter and Coco mats, which are all period-correct for the car. “I wanted the car to retain its original feel,” Nick says. “I’ve even kept the seats, which are fairly worn now, but it gives it character.”
Like any true project, the car has gone through various incarnations of wheels, including BBS RSs and CCWs, but Nick eventually settled for 8.5x16” (front) and 9.5x16” (rear) Schmidt TH Line wheels shod in 205/40 rubber that you see on the car now, and we have to say that they suit the stance, lines and age of the car perfectly.
This is not a car created with a blank cheque book; it is a car with tons of sentimental value to the owner and gradually improved over time with the help of friends and family. It’s been built to drive and to enjoy, it doesn’t sit in a garage or on a trailer and we love the fact that whilst Nick put his own stamp on it he’s taken a wholly sympathetic approach in his choice of modifications. Now it’s finally complete all he plans to do is simply drive it. “It has taken a lot of effort to get the car to where it is today but it was a journey which has led me to meet a lot of fantastic friends and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. The car is a big part of me and something I am most definitely proud of.”
Along with the life lessons and skills that a father teaches a son, there are also certain material things that you pass down – like a tool kit or, in Nick’s case, a dream car. In these increasingly disposable times, fewer and fewer items are worth saving and giving to your children, so we hope Nick sticks to family tradition and passes his treasured 325iS to his own son or daughter.
DATA FILE #BMW-325iS #S52 air-ride #E30 / #BMW-325iS / #BMW-325iS-S52-E30 / #BMW-325iS-S52-Air-Ride-E30 / #BMW-325iS-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #S52B32 / / #BMW-S52 / #Bimmerworld / #Getrag-260 / #BMW /
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / , 21.5lb injectors, 3.5” #Euro-MAF , 3.5” #Bimmerworld-Silicone intake boot, air-con and power steering delete, #M42 radiator, TMS remap, Condor Speed Shop engine mounts, custom longtube headers and 2.5” exhaust including #Vibrant race resonator; shaved, tucked and resprayed engine bay
TRANSMISSION OEM #Getrag 260 five-speed gearbox, #Sachs-HD clutch, #MWorks-Garage custom transmission crossmember, #Condor-Speed-Shop Speed Shop transmission mounts, lightweight flywheel
CHASSIS 8.5x16” (front) and 9.5x16” (rear) #Schmidt-TH-Line wheels with 205/40 (f&r) Nitto Neogen tyres, #Air-Lift universal front struts, #Air-House II rear bags, #Bilstein rear shocks, #AutoPilot V2 management including five-gallon tank and #Viair-400C compressor, drilled and slotted brake discs and Hawk pads, brake booster delete, E21 master cylinder, tucked brake lines, stainless steel braided clutch slave line
EXTERIOR Later model front valance, iS front spoiler and bootlip, smoked Euro Smiley headlights and side repeaters, all red tail-lights, #Zender rear valence, #Shadowline trim
INTERIOR Nardi Classic steering wheel, custom stitched #M-Tech-style gear knob and gaiter, Coco mats, #Dynamatted back seat and boot
THANKS All of my good friends in BHC, and those that had a hand in the build, my father and Anthony at ASC Autoworks
Front end, like the rest of the car, is incredibly clean, with a late model valence and iS front spoiler. #AutoPilot-V2 management offers eight presets and countless options; gorgeous 16” Schmidt splits suit the E30 perfectly.
The car is a big part of me and something I am definitely proud of.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFURY ROADSTER
This might look like a mildly modified Z3 M but under the bonnet hides 800whp of sheer rage. With an earth-shattering 800whp, this turbocharged #BMW-Z3-M-Roadster / #BMW-Z3-M will definitely put the wind in your hair. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Darren Maybury
While I’m generally not a huge fan of convertibles, Roadsters are a whole different kettle of slightly windswept, sunburnt fish. I like the fact that they are built from the ground up as soft-tops, with less compromise on all fronts, and they don’t attempt to try and shoehorn in a pair of rear ‘seats’ for the vertically challenged or your shopping. Engine. Two seats. Boot. Done.
BMW’s Z3 was met with mixed reviews when launched, but it’s ageing well. The retro lines look ever more retro, and the styling has plenty of character and muscle about it. When it was handed over to BMW M’s engineers to work their magic, there were certainly plenty of fireworks and, while the M Coupé might be the one that turns heads, there’s lots to love about the #Roadster , especially when there’s the small matter of 800whp going on.
Why wouldn’t you want to stuff a turbo under the bonnet of your Z3 and make 800whp? Mark Christofis is a man who clearly took a look at his life, realised it was missing an 800whp Z3 Roadster and set about correcting this problem. Mark is a man who loves cars and, as a metallurgical engineering consultant, is lucky enough to be in a suitably serious and important sounding job that means he can really indulge his passion for all things automotive. Hats off to that man.
This passion for cars is long-standing and both his previous and current rides are seriously nice. When it comes to cars Chris does not beat around the bush: “My first car was a 1970 Pontiac GTO with a manual four-speed transmission and 400 CID Ram Air III engine.” This engine was a 6.6-litre V8 which made 350hp; it was a hell of a way for Mark to earn his motoring stripes. “I’ve owned a number of performance/sports cars over the years,” he continues, “including various muscle cars and European models. I currently have a Ferrari 360, an Audi B8.5 S4 and, of course, my BMW. I’ve also driven a host of other performance cars like the Dodge Viper, various 911 Porsches, Nobles and Lotuses. I’ve been interested in cars since I was a kid, particularly American muscle cars, and being born and raised in Detroit it was almost a natural occurrence. Of course, this carried over into becoming an engineer and I eventually wound up working for Ford Motor Company as a Metallurgical Technical Specialist for the Product Development Group of Axle Driveline. So my passion for cars runs deep.
“My brother and I were both really into cars when we were younger and we carried that with us through the years. Early on we pretty much did all the mods ourselves out of necessity as we just didn’t have much money, but as I got older and eventually married, it became increasingly difficult to work on them as I just didn’t have the time with work, kids and all. Eventually, though, the modification bug hit again but now I leave the major work to the professionals.”
And this Z3 has had more than its fair share of work, that’s for sure. Mark’s been a fan of BMWs for around 15 years now, having cut his teeth on a ’95 M3, but this Z3 is something else; not only is it his first major build, it’s arguably his wildest car so far. The Z3 was spotted for sale in Florida, where Mark’s brother happened to be vacationing, and so he helped Mark out and duly popped over to take look at it. It turned out to be a very clean example with just 20,000 miles on the clock and a Dinan supercharger to boot. A deal was done and the car was delivered to Mark’s Michigan home where he could begin to enjoy it. “I never bored of driving this car,” he says.
“It was so easy to just drop the top and take it out for a cruise. Eventually, though, my craving for more power got the best of me and I started sending it out for major upgrades, eventually leading to its current state of tune. I also was into weight reduction mods and everything I did was kind of geared towards that. The roof, seats, wheels exhaust pretty much everything was weighed.” The supercharger was doing a good job on the power front but for the kind of figures that Mark wanted the engine needed to be pretty much stripped down and built from the ground up.
The car was handed over to the guys at ICS Performance, who know a thing or two about making fast, force induced BMWs and after chatting with head man, George Kakaletris, it was agreed that 600whp would be a good figure to aim for. Unfortunately, ICS discovered two cracked piston ring lands, so Mark decided to go all out on the engine because that’s what we as enthusiasts do when something breaks – we use it as an excuse to repair it but make it better at the same time.
The engine component list reads like a turbo build wish list and ICS really left no stone unturned when it came to creating this monster of a Z3. Inside the 3.2-litre S52 you’ll find Mahle 9:1 compression triple-coated racing pistons, K1 forged con rods, ACL Racing bearings, titanium valve kit, springs and retainers and ICS Stage 1 performance camshafts. There’s also a CES cut ring head gasket and ARP series 2000 head studs, while the Precision 4094R dual ball bearing turbo sits on an Otis tubular twin-scroll manifold with a Tial 60mm wastegate vented into the exhaust to keep things a little more civilized. You’ll also find a Tial 50mm BOV, while the exhaust is custom-made. To ensure that enough fuel makes it into the engine there are 80lb (840cc) injectors with both a Walbro 400 and Bosch 044 fuel pump, running with an Aeromotive fuel filter and a custom fuel rail.
To help keep the engine cool in all conditions, a high flow aluminium BMW racing radiator has been fitted along with a VPD custom racing oil cooler and then there’s the custom intercooler, measuring 610x305x102mm and squeezed in behind the front bumper.
It’s one hell of a line-up and, unsurprisingly, it makes for some seriously heavy-hitting power figures. On 109 octane fuel at 1.8bar of boost on what Mark calls a fairly conservative tune, the Z3 made a spectacular 803whp and 776lb ft of torque at the wheels, and that’s with the tyres spinning! “She probably makes a bit more,” says Mark, “but who’s counting? That wasn’t my primary objective – after all it’s just a street car. With a few upgrades, though, like a larger fuel line, bigger injectors, larger turbo, more boost and a more aggressive tune it could be closer to 1000hp but I have no interest in doing so as the car is already a handful to drive weighing in at only around 1250kg. Currently, I’m not aware of another M Roadster producing more horsepower or torque.”
For Mark, this build wasn’t just about power, it was about weight, too, and both the exterior and interior styling has been shaped by his desire to shave and shed weight wherever possible. There’s a lightweight vented FG Racing bonnet, Recaro Pole Position seats mounted on lightweight aluminium brackets with Imola red leather centre sections to tie-in with the rest of the interior colour scheme, there are lighter UUC race pedals, the bumper weights have been removed along with the air-con, the sound deadening and Mark’s fitted a lightweight Odyssey battery. Even the carpets are lightweight!
Mark has extended the Imola red colour scheme throughout the interior and it also appears on the badges. A rear spoiler and diffuser were also added as subtle cosmetic enhancements.
As far as the chassis is concerned, the Z3 has been fitted with a Ground Control adjustable Eibach spring kit, Koni adjustable sport dampers, a Bavarian Autosport rear bush kit, IE Engineering rear camber/caster adjustment kit and a Randy Forbes rear axle reinforcement kit, along with a Rogue Engineering dual rear differential housing.
With so much power, you need a suitably powerful braking system on board and lurking behind the staggered 18” Work Meister SP1s you’ll find a UUC/Wilwood front BBK with four-pot calipers and superlight 325mm discs, while at the back there are #StopTech Z3 M cross-drilled discs with braided hoses and Axis Ultimate brake pads all round.
Mark’s Roadster has been through various stages of development, with this last stage taking seven months. In that time it has gone from brisk to ballistic, with the kind of power figure that is actually hard to imagine. “The turbo system is my favourite modification on the whole car,” he smiles, “as it’s just so powerful. Being in such a lightweight car puts your eyes on stalks when you squeeze the throttle. I’ve not experienced acceleration quite like this before and I’ve been in some pretty fast cars.” Mark has really ticked all the boxes with this project and built his ultimate Z3 and all that’s left to do is just drive it and enjoy it. You know he will…
TECH DATA FILE #BMW-Z3-Roadster / #BMW-E36/7 / #BMW-Z3-Roadster-E36/7 / #BMW-Z3-E36/7 / #BMW-Z3 / #BMW-Z3-M-Coupe
ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / #S52 , #Mahle 9:1 compression triple-coated racing pistons, #K1 forged and coated connecting rods, #ACL-Racing coated rod and main bearings, titanium valve kit, springs and retainers, CES cut ring head gasket, #ARP series 2000 11mm head studs, #ICS Stage 1 custom performance camshafts, Precision 4094R DBB 1.06 A/R turbo, 610x305x102mm custom intercooler, custom intercooler shielding, Otis coated tubular twin scroll turbo manifold, #M50 (OBD 1) intake manifold, custom turbo engine mount arm, Tial 60mm wastegate vented into exhaust, Tial 50 blow-off valve, 840cc fuel injectors, #Walbro 400 and #Bosch-044 inline fuel pumps, custom relay kit for fuel system with circuit breaker, Aeromotive fuel filter, custom fuel rail kit, RK Tunes custom tuning OBD 2, 3.5” HFM, welded oil pump nut, Dr. #Vanos unit, #BMW high-flow aluminium racing radiator, VPD custom racing oil cooler, custom 3.5” exhaust with dual 3” Magnaflow silencers, Rogue Engineering racing engine mounts. 803whp and 776lb ft of torque at the wheels on 109 octane race fuel at 1.8bar.
TRANSMISSION: #ZF-Type-C / #ZF five-speed manual gearbox, #Rogue-Engineering transmission mounts, #Clutch-Masters custom clutch, lightweight chromoly flywheel, 2.79:1 built differential with 40% lock up.
CHASSIS: 8.5x18” (front) and 11x18” (rear) Work Meister SP1 wheels with 225/40 (front) and 285/30 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, Ground Control adjustable Eibach spring kit (525lb front, 600lb rear), Koni yellow adjustable sport dampers, Randy Forbes rear axle reinforcement kit, Rogue Engineering dual ear differential housing, IE Engineering rear camber/caster adjust kit, Bavarian Autosport rear bushing kit, #UUC/Wilwood #BBK with four-pot #Wilwood calipers and Superlite 325mm floating cross-drilled discs (front), StopTech Z3 M cross-drilled discs (rear), #Axis-Ultimate brake pads and stainless steel brake lines all-round.
EXTERIOR: #FG-Racing lightweight vented bonnet, rear bootlip spoiler, rear diffuser, bumper weights removed.
INTERIOR: #Recaro Pole Position racing seats with custom red matching inserts, Recaro lightweight aluminium side brackets and TC Kline floor mounts, AEM UEGO A/F gauge, SPA dual readout gauge (boost and fuel pressure), E Boost 2 electronic boost controller, Autometer dual gauge pod, Autometer mini shift light, #TRM racing shift knob, #UUC race pedals, lightweight carpeting, lightweight Odyssey battery, AC delete, sound deadening removed.
Vented bonnet looks the part, is lightweight and helps to keep underbonnet temperatures down.
Top: Engine may not look special but the 800whp magic is hidden away beneath the surface; diffuser looks cool and was added for that very reason, along with bootlip spoiler.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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The #BMW-Z3M Coupé has a lot of charm; with a turbocharger and 550whp this example is one sexy Breadvan. The big-bottomed #BMW-Z3 M Coupé is something of a cult classic and while it’s not universally loved, with a turbo under the bonnet it’s hard to hate… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Darren Maybury. #BMW-E36/7
At 22 I was driving 1.0-litre Citroen Saxo; at 22 Andrei Spirin is driving a turbocharged Z3 M Coupé, so it’s safe to say that he’s doing okay for himself. And that’s good news for the BMW world because he’s built himself a pretty tasty #Z3 M Coupé. In the UK we call it the bread van; in the States it’s the clown shoe. Whatever you call it, it’s fair to say that the Z3 Coupé was a bit of an oddball and even the M Coupé, the only version we received in the UK, didn’t exactly meet with universal praise. There was something about it, though, something about its ungainliness and bulbous rear that attracted a number of people and today it’s accepted as a bit of a cult classic.
It’s funny how the Z4 M Coupé tried to bring back that bootylicious body but was just a bit too conventional-looking really and then Ferrari went and brought out the FF, which is a scaled-up M Coupé if ever we saw one. And speaking of seeing one, when’s the last time you did? We can’t recall but it was definitely a while ago; this car is not a common sight in the wild.
So cult classic; potentially a bit of an investment; rare to boot – it’s all about keeping them standard, surely? Well, skyrocketing values never stopped anyone from modifying their E30 M3 and it’s pleasing to see someone like Andrei going all out on their M Coupé. He’s most definitely not been shy with this car.
Growing up, Andrei’s middle brother Gennady first got him into cars. Then his brother’s roommate at college, Pete, introduced him to BMWs via an S52- swapped E30 M3, which has the same engine that powers this Z3, as it happens. Pete showed Andrei the world of meets and street racing and taught him a lot about BMWs. Andrei actually now works for Pete at his company, Offcamber Motorsport, doing everything from fitting superchargers to building engines, hands-on skills that come in more than a bit handy when it comes to, say, modifying your BMW…
“My first car was also my first BMW,” says Andrei when we delve into this motoring past. “It was an E39 M5 and I learned the hard way why you should never to buy a 2000 M5 as it was an early model and constantly had issues. It was a nightmare to own but I had some amazing times in it. I also knew how to take the whole top side of the engine off blindfolded because I did it so many times. I was a typical teenager at the time. I inherited $10k from my grandma who passed away. I wanted to get an E36 M3 but at the time I only had my permit, which meant my dad was always driving with me. My dad looks like Santa Claus so he would have looked a bit odd in an M3, so we decided to get a E39 M5 instead so that he would not look too out of place. We went to go look at one which was beautiful and cheap. It had a Supersprint exhaust which was the selling point for me. It was really fast, too. The M5 was the first car I modified. I didn’t go too crazy on the mods because I was spending most of my money fixing it but my favourite mod was the electronic exhaust cut-out valve I fitted before the silencers. I mounted the switch by the sunroof button so it felt like a fighter jet when I engaged it.”
After owning an E39 M5 as a first car, the only logical progression for car number two was… another E39 M5, obviously! But when that was written off after someone ran a red light and drove into it, Andrei knew that the M Coupé was what he wanted: “After the accident I started looking around and found this Imola red one in February 2011. It was two hours away and had been on sale for a while. It had 58,000 miles on it and some very tasteful suspension mods carried out, which was the main selling point for me.” Despite being a pretty rapid machine, after owning two slabs of German muscle the M Coupé didn’t impress Andrei in terms of performance front although when he hit the twisties he quickly realised just how capable it was on the handling front. Of course, working at Offcamber Motorsports and with a taste for modified metal, the M Coupé was never going to stay (relatively) stock for long and having planned to turbocharge his ex-M5, it made sense to transfer those plans across to the Z3.
“My whole turbo setup came about after a deal that I made with my friends,” Andrei explains. “When my M5 got totalled, the drivetrain was fine and I still had an immaculate interior. My buddy, Jon Valia, who had his car featured in this magazine a couple of years ago (a turbo S38 E30 M3) had an M5 shell that he got from one of his buddies which needed a motor and interior. So we came to a deal where I would give him those items and he would build me a turbo setup for my car. The whole first part of my build was done by him; we took the motor out at his house and he started fabbing the downpipe while Pete helped do the head gasket and head studs on the motor. After a month into the build Jon had to bail because his wife had a baby and didn’t have enough time to work on the car and I felt bad about always bugging him. So we took the car to Pete shop’s and finished it at Offcamber. Pete and I worked on the car for another two months before it was finished.
“I wanted to make 500whp and S52s are more than capable of doing that on stock internals. The car currently makes 550whp on 17psi. The setup has worked flawlessly and the engine has held up perfectly. It had 100,000 miles on it when I finished the conversion and it’s currently on 150,000 miles. The car has been my daily driver for two years and it worked faultlessly with no issues. To this date I am surprised as to how the S52 handled the boost so well for so long, and it has seen a lot of racing, too.” At the heart of the turbo kit sits a Precision 6262 ball bearing turbo with a Tredstone intercooler helping to chill the intake air and a thicker MLS .140 head gasket has been fitted to lower the compression ratio, along with a set of ARP head studs. A set of 60lb injectors ensure that the engine gets plenty of fuel, backed up by a Walbro 255lph fuel pump.
Pop that huge clamshell bonnet and you’ll be greeted by the sight of, well, not a lot really as the turbo is tucked down by the side of the engine and the only bits you can actually see are the oversized induction kit and the Tial 55mm blow-off valve. It’s not a showy engine but the rest of the car’s not exactly shy…
It must be said that Imola red works so well on the M Coupé. The bold, bright colour really suits the car’s striking shape and it’s the sort of car that doesn’t really need any styling to get it looking perfect. About the only external mods here are those Umnitza headlights and the stone guards, something of a necessity due to the M Coupé’s rather wide hips. But the bulk of the visual impact is purely down to the colour and the wheels. Where pretty much everyone is going bigger, Andrei has bucked the trend and gone for a set of 17s, which is pretty much unheard of on the modified BMW scene. While these are surprisingly small they are plenty wide and a perfect fit for the M Coupé. “I always wanted a nice set of deep-dish wheels,” says Andrei, “and about a year ago I finally managed to pick up these Fikse FM10s, which were my dream wheels. I couldn’t be any happier and the best part is that they were specifically designed for the M Coupé as they were built by my buddy, Jon Thayer, who also has a turbo M Coupé.” These sexy cross-spokes measure a meaty 9.5” up front and 11” at the rear, the latter being wrapped in massively wide 315/35 Toyo R888s which help the Z3 put the power down.
Having had a taste of the Z3’s handling prowess it’s no surprise to learn that Andrei has gone to town on the suspension mods to bring out the best in the Z3’s chassis. A set of TCK S/A coilovers has been fitted along with aluminium control arms, solid monoball mounts, a set of Treehouse Racing FCABs, a H&R anti-roll bar along with an E36 M3 Convertible support brace and a Randy Forbes subframe reinforcement kit. That comprehensive suspension line-up means this Z3’s chassis is razor-sharp and that it’s not all about the straight-line speed. Awesome suspension mods are all well and good but if you’re flopping about on crappy seats you’re not going to enjoy the drive, which is why Andrei has added some decidedly unfrivolous interior upgrades. “Before the turbo setup I did a lot of road course days hence why I have the Bride seats in there, along with the harness and harness bar,”
Andrei tells us. “The stock interior from factory is, in my opinion, one of BMW’s best. My M Coupé has the two tone Imola/black interior and I wouldn’t change a thing on it.” Andrei wanted to carry over the clean, stock philosophy from his exterior over to the interior and so decided against a big A-pillar gauge pod, opting instead for a custom dash-top pod, one of just ten ever made specifically for the Z3 by a Bimmerforums member. It looks extremely discreet and houses a Prosport boost and fuel pressure gauges along with an Innovate AFR gauge. He’s also fitted a Momo Millennium steering wheel and a ZHP gear knob along with a UUC short-shift kit. From massive engine mods to a set of serious chassis upgrades and a generous sprinkling of the perfect finishing touches, Andrei has built himself one red-hot bombshell of a Z3 M Coupé. Whatever your feelings on BMW’s loveable oddball may be, this is one shoe-van-thing that will rock anybody’s world.
DATA FILE #BMW-Z3-M-Coupe #S52
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 , Precision 6262 ball bearing turbo, SPA log manifold, Tredstone intercooler, MLS .140 head gasket, ARP head studs, #Walbro 255lph fuel pump, 60lb Injectors, Tial 55 BOV, Tial 38 external wastegate, Haldman boost controller, Technica Motorsport tune, standard five-speed manual gearbox, UUC short-shift kit. 550whp @ 17psi.
CHASSIS: 9.5x17” (front) and 11x17” (rear) Fikse FM10 wheels custom-made in Z3 fitment with 245/40 (front) and 315/35 (rear) tyres. TCK S/A coilovers with 400 (front) and 600 (rear) spring rates, aluminium control arms, solid monoball mounts, Treehouse Racing FCABs, H&R anti-roll bar, E36 M3 Convertible support brace, #H&R rear adjustable springs, H&R rear dampers, Randy Forbes subframe reinforcement kit.
EXTERIOR: Umnitza Projector ZII headlights, stone guards.
INTERIOR: Bride Zeta 3 seats on VAC mounts, Sparco harness bar, Driver Has Impact five-point harness, #ZHP gear knob, #MOMO Millennium steering wheel, custom gauge pod (1 of 10 ever made) fitted with Prosport boost and fuel pressure gauges, Innovate AFR gauge.
These Fikse FM10s were my dream wheels… I couldn’t be any happier.
17” wheels work really well on the Z3 M Coupé and those fat tyres help put all that power down.
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