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    Built on a tight timeline but finished to perfection, this box-fresh M4 glimmers in the sunshine like a freshly-minted Exocet missile. It’s high spec, angry, and dressed to impress… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Viktor Benyi. / #Hawaii-3.0 WILD M4

    Outrageous build by Bulletproof Automotive

    HAWAII 3.0 Bulletproof Automotive’s wild F82 M4

    We, as human beings, are effectively composite images reflecting the sum total of our experiences. Every one of us is unique, and we all have disparate stories to tell because we’ve all been in different situations at different times; our memories, the places we’ve been, the things we’ve seen, it all helps to inform our own nuanced world view. So it is with project cars that the owner’s past experiences serve to fuel their own one-off spec sheets and aesthetics; sure, it’d be easy to say ‘OK, it’s a modified M4, so you take [x] parts from this shelf, and [y] parts from that shelf…’, but no – that does the entire scene a disservice. The car you’re looking at here is an international superstar – it’s got lashings of Oceania, a healthy dose of sun-scorched Nevada, a tangy shot of the Orient, and it’s all slathered on a quintessentially German base. Such is the magic of the modern #BMW scene. We’re so deeply entrenched in the culture of Generation D (that is, the post Gen-Y world view that can’t possibly envisage an existence without constant connectivity) that taking cues from disparate global scenes is simply second nature.

    A Japanese-inspired BMW from Hawaii, then, built to wow the crowds at SEMA. How does that particular basket of ingredients come together? Well, it’s all down to the visionary prowess of Rob Batz, who operated in beautiful synthesis with Bulletproof Automotive to get the job done and make this special flavour of madness work. “I’ve always been into BMWs, ever since high school,” he explains. “I just couldn’t ever afford one! My first car was a Mk2 Golf GTI 16v, and BMWs seemed like a logical step up from the VAG cars that I was driving as a teenager.”

    Rob set himself down the righteous path with an E30 325is, having found himself in the military and, in his own words, ‘not wanting to just buy a Honda’. But it hasn’t been a case of stepping out of that E30 and into this F82, there have been a number of other project stepping stones along the way: a pair of E90s helped him to hone his skills and really get inside the mindset of the modern-era BMW reality, and then a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X was next in line to receive the treatment. “That was the car that really cemented my love for Varis aero components,” says Rob and the significance of this statement will soon make itself apparent.
    “What I really wanted to do was create an M4 that blended BMW engineering with JDM tuning culture,” he continues, “and I was pleased to have the opportunity to team up with Bulletproof Automotive to make my vision a reality.” Bulletproof is an intriguing entity; based in LA, you’re most likely to be familiar with its work if you’re a fan of the Japanese tuning scene. Readers in the UK may recall seeing its builds on the cover of the now-defunct Max Power back in the noughties, and these days it’s a top-flight outfit acting as an official distributor of such iconic Japanese brands as Top Secret, Mine’s, TommyKaira, JUN and Powerhouse Amuse – all the names you got to know racing Jap metal in Gran Turismo in the ’90s! If you cut Bulletproof open, it bleeds wasabi. An interesting choice to buddy up with for a BMW build, then…

    “I had the whole project 80% mapped out before I even bought the car,” Rob explains, scything any ambiguity with a sceptre of unmistakable certainty. “I bought the car brand new from a BMW dealer in Honolulu, and it was a tight deadline to get it finished in time for its SEMA show debut.” How tight? Try four weeks – there’s no pressure like show pressure, right? Job one was to install the Armytrix exhaust; an inspired choice as it adds 26hp while subtracting 4kg in weight, and its valve system provides F1-style howling on high-rev demand. With the aural assault box ticked, the M4 was off to the bodyshop.

    As you can see, the external transformation is pretty significant – the F82’s now rocking a carbon-fibre Varis widebody kit comprising front and rear wings, front lip, skirts, ducts, the works, and the whole thing has been re-finished in the car’s original Alpine white. To top off the already outrageous aesthetic, you’ve probably spotted that it’s sporting quite a large wing on the back; that’s an 1800mm Varis carbonfibre unit with swan-neck mounts, and it’s about as subtle as a brick in the face on a quiet Sunday morning.

    “After the wide-body was moulded and it was all painted, it was time to focus in the interior,” says Rob. And it’s somewhat extreme – full-on race car at first glance, and then you realise that the custom re-trim actually makes it quite luxurious. An intriguing combo. “The seats are Recaro Japan RS-Gs,” he tells us. “There’s a custom roll-cage and rear seat delete, and everything was trimmed by Bulletproof in three-colour Alcantara with custom M stitching – the seats, dash, door cards, console, headlining, everything.” It makes for an incredible effect, at once racetrack-purposeful and alluringly sumptuous. But then, of course, the guys had their crosshairs set on SEMA – if you’re not rocking the full package, they won’t let you through the door. Perfection is expected, and Bulletproof really delivered here.

    “The suspension and brakes came next,” Rob continues. “It’s running Aragosta Type SS three-way coilovers, along with Aragosta’s Air Cup system to raise it when required, and the brakes are Runduce eightpots up front with six-pots at the rear.” If you’re not immediately familiar with these brand names within the BMW bubble, that’s because – once again – we’re dealing with premium Japanese parts. Don’t allow it to jar with your sensibilities, just let the multicultural vibe flow like cool water. It’s refreshing. “The corner balancing followed, then the engine tune and the installation of the Gruppe-M carbon fibre intake, again from Japan,” he says. “Many long nights at Bulletproof Automotive allowed the car to be loaded for its debut at SEMA with no time to spare!”

    Talk about cutting it fine, eh? And the fun part was organising the logistics to get it built and then delivered to the show on time. Las Vegas, home of SEMA, is around 270 miles from Los Angeles, Bulletproof’s stomping ground, which isn’t an insurmountable distance. You could drive it in five hours, and that includes a generous lunch stop. But Honolulu to Los Angeles?

    That’s over 2500 miles of ocean. You can see why this build has such a Japanese influence – it’s not that much further to Tokyo than it is to LA! (Well, OK, another 1000 miles, but who’s counting?) Rob’s initial option was to ocean-freight the car to LA, but that would have taken around fourteen days – a sizable chunk from such a truncated timetable – but thankfully he was able to track down a company who could air freight it to the City of Angels in a hurry. Time rests for no man; doubly so on a show schedule.

    All worked out alright in the end though, didn’t it? “I’d say my favourite modification is the Runduce brakes,” Rob ponders, having given the question some serious consideration. “To my knowledge it’s the only set on an F80/2 in the world, and I was personally involved in every aspect of them from caliper and disc selection to colours.

    And I love the wheels too; originally it was running Volk G25s in Mag Blue, but the TE37 SL is a timeless wheel and it just fits in better with the car. I wanted the interior to be a one-off as well, with high quality finishes and extreme detail, and it’s turned out great. The team at Bulletproof sent me some renders and we came up with a plan to execute the final product; the end result is the perfect mix of JDM and BMW.” Which, of course, was the aim of the endeavour from the very start – a mid-Pacific fusion of global thinking.

    So yes, the car did make it to SEMA on time as planned. And, unsurprisingly, the crowds were suitably impressed. Is Rob happy with the results of the breakneckspeed project? You bet he is. “There are no further plans for it,” he says, with the easy satisfaction of a man who’s just finished a marathon and knows there’s a pub nearby. “The plan now is just to not allow it to sit; to take it out and enjoy it!” Which is just how it should be. The car’s fulfilled its role as a static showpiece, and now it’s getting out there and showing the world just what this German/Japanese fusion is capable of. Watch out, Hawaii – the East and the West are coming to gatecrash.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE / #Bulletproof-Automotive / #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW / #2017 / #Bulletproof-Automotive-M4 / #Bulletproof-Automotive-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4-Bulletproof-Automotive-F82 / #BMW-M4-Bulletproof-Automotive / #S55-ESS-Tuning / #Rays-Volk / #BMW-M4-Tuned / #BMW-M4-F82-Tuned

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #S55B30T0 / #BMW-S55 / #S55 / #S55B30 , Gruppe-M carbon-fibre intake, #ESS-Tuning remap, #ARMYTRIX turboback stainless steel exhaust system. Seven-speed M-DCT / DCT gearbox / Aragosta-Air / Aragosta /

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #Rays-Volk-TE37-SL wheels in Hyper Blue with 265/35 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, #Aragosta-Type-SS three-way coilovers with #Aragosta-Air-Cup system, FallLine/IND prototype rear camber/toe arms, Runduce eight-pot calipers (front) and six-pot calipers (rear) with 380mm discs (front and rear)

    EXTERIOR Resprayed in OEM Alpine white, Varis carbon fibre widebody kit, #Varis System 2 VSDC bonnet, Varis 1800mm carbon fibre swan neck GT wing, Willans tow strap, custom livery designed by Edwin Reyes

    INTERIOR Recaro Japan RS-G seats, Bulletproof Automotive/Willans custom harnesses, M Performance carbon fibre DCT console, gear selector and door handles, #HG-Motorsports custom roll-cage, custom rear seat delete, full custom Alcantara re-trim by Bulletproof Automotive (dash, door cards, seats, headlining, console) in three colours with custom M stitching

    THANKS Thanks to the team at Bulletproof Automotive and their partners on the build. Thanks to Edwin Reyes for the amazing livery. Terrence and the team at #BMW-Honolulu for getting me the car in time. Mr. Osorio for taking care of the car for me while I was in Honolulu, 2500 miles away from it. Lastly, my family for remaining patient as this build occupied much of my time!

    “What I really wanted to do was create an M4 that blended #BMW engineering with JDM tuning culture”
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    Dare to Dream 3D Design carbon-clad M4. Back in 2006, a group of highly talented designers and engineers came together in Tokyo to reboot dormant BMW tuning parts maker 3D Design. This M4 is the culmination of everything it’s done in the ten years since Words and photography: Chris Nicholls. Dare to Dream 3D Design’s stunning carbon-clad F82 M4 under the spotlight. #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-Coupe / #BMW-4-Series-F82

    The M4, for many, represents dreams. Dreams of status, dreams of amazing driving experiences and dreams of just looking at the thing and enjoying its muscular lines just one more time before walking away. This particular #BMW-4-Series-M4-F82 , however, represents a very different kind of dream – a dream to build a complete ‘tuner car’ that not only shows off your company’s expertise in designing a range of great products, but also demonstrates how well those parts work in unison when fitted together.

    It’s a dream Toru Endo and his team at 3D Design have had since the brand’s rebirth ten years ago. Back in 2006, they came in to kick-start what was then a bit of a lost cause; 3D Design in its original form had been making #BMW tuning parts (mainly suspension components) since 1998, but for various reasons the company had lost any momentum and, by the time Endo-san and his crew arrived, it hadn’t released anything new for quite some time. Obviously, job one after the takeover was thus to start cranking out parts again, but given the old line-up hadn’t been a great success, Endo-san and co. decided to expand the offering to include exhausts and aero parts as well, with an end goal of offering a large enough range of components to build the aforementioned ‘complete car’.

    However, because all the 3D Design staff already had many years of experience working in either OEM, aftermarket accessory or race engineering circles, slapping together a few basic designs and calling it a day wasn’t going to cut it. They vowed that, no matter what the development time and costs, they would make the best BMW parts they could, a philosophy that continues to this day. One minor detail was that they didn’t have their own manufacturing facilities, but to get around this, they partnered up with the likes of Arqray for their lovely stainless exhausts and BBS for their forged wheels, ensuring the final products were as high-end as the engineering that had gone into the design and testing. And of course, that all their products were made in Japan.

    Trouble was, even with a line-up that included wheels, coilovers, aero accessories, exhausts, a boost control chip and various interior upgrades, the staff didn’t feel as if they’d reached their goal of being able to produce a ‘complete car’. So they pushed on, and decided to invest more time and resources in a couple of other key items – a carbon intake for the S55 and, most importantly, full resin-infusion carbon bumpers for the M4. Now, proper carbon bumpers (not CFRP) may seem a bit extreme, especially considering they’re usually the first things to get damaged in a crash and cop quite a bit of sandblasting just from regular road driving, but as we said earlier, the company philosophy is to offer the best, no matter what, and given carbon would allow them to integrate aero elements better, as well as save a crucial 5kg at each extreme of the car (thereby reducing moment of inertia), it seemed a natural choice. Plus, literally no one else on the market is offering such a thing, so it gives the company a competitive advantage.

    Obviously, these pieces do not come cheap. The carbon intake isn’t even on sale yet in Japan, but M Style UK quoted us £6195 for the front bumper and £5695 for the rear, and when you throw in the £1482 Mulgari quoted for the dry carbon side skirts, just the basic aero kit adds considerable cost to an already expensive machine. Going down the complete car route, which adds a dry carbon rear lip spoiler, dry-carbon racing wing, polyurethane roof spoiler, resin-infusion carbon mirror covers, coilovers, forged 20-inch Anniversary 01 wheels, a DME Tuning Stage 2 engine remap, Brembo GT big brake kit and all the company’s interior mods, will no doubt jack up the price to potentially terrifying levels, but no one said the best ever came cheap. And when you look at the fit, finish and quality of each of 3D Design’s products (the bumpers fit so well you’d genuinely think they were official Motorsport upgrades), there is no doubt that they’re among the very best in each sector they compete in.

    As for the overall effect these changes make, at least in terms of appearance (we only had a short time with the car and thus couldn’t drive it), it’s quite staggering. The stock M4 is a muscular beast, but the 3D Design version takes it up a notch in every respect. The cleaner, more integrated lines of the front bumper lead down to quite a protruding lip spoiler, and the fact the company has kept the lower half naked carbon really adds to the impact.

    The sleek skirts define the car’s flanks better and make it look lower than it actually is, while the rear end is just a whole lot buffer thanks to the large (but not ridiculous) wing, bootlid lip and again, that half-painted carbon bumper. Keen-eyed readers will note 3D Design has placed cuts on each side of it too, which allow turbulent air to exit the rear wheels better and should improve stability. One interesting side effect of all this extra aggression is that the car actually looks more like a sports car – something that should cheer all those who now consider the M4 a GT – and at least in this writer and photographer’s opinion, does a better job of integrating all that aero than the GTS. BMW take note. Finally, those wheels are just perfect against the Sapphire black paint, aren’t they?

    Inside, there’s less of an impact simply because there are fewer changes. Yes, the switch to customembroidered Recaro Sportsters definitely changes the atmosphere, as does the switch to 3D Design’s alloy pedals, brake lever and shift paddles, but it still feels very much like an M4, only sportier. In many respects, the biggest change to the ambience actually comes from the Stack gauges, mounted in a lovely 3D Design pod at the bottom of the centre console. These, while looking pretty modern with their machined housings and austere faces, are still very much an old-school performance car touch in what is otherwise a very modern interior, so they do stand out and make the car feel just that little less GT-like (again). By the way, you can ignore that little display mounted to driver’s right, as it’s just a small speed camera detector. Don’t worry, they’re perfectly legal in Japan, and sadly more necessary than ever these days, thanks to the growing number of cameras on the roads there.

    In terms of the effect the mechanical changes have, obviously we couldn’t sample most of those, but we have little reason to doubt the coilovers will benefit the handling, given 3D Design, unlike most of its Japanese contemporaries, designs and develops its coilovers explicitly for road use and thus makes them supple. (There is a remote reservoir track coilover in the works for the M4 should you want that, though). And again, there’s little reason to believe the DME re-flash, which, combined with the intake and exhaust bumps power up to 522hp at 6000rpm and torque to a stupid 561lb ft at just 2000rpm, won’t do the job in terms of making the car much, much faster, either. Nor that the Brembo GT big brake kit won’t do a stellar job of bringing the car’s speed down to normal levels, even after heavy track use.

    While we didn’t sample the power it helps provide, we can heartily recommend the cat-back mid-pipe and muffler combination in terms of pure sound though, as we did get to sample its sonorous delights during our rolling shot session across the Tokyo Gate Bridge. Like most products on this car, it’s not cheap, with the full system setting you back £6334 from M Style UK, but its unique sound may well be worth it, depending on your priorities. We say that because the 3D Design product is by far the most subtle of the aftermarket M4 exhausts we’ve heard, with a start up that won’t upset the neighbours, and an ultra-smooth timbre as the revs rise. Indeed, it almost makes the S55 sound like an angry, tuned S54 , which is quite a feat. If you live in Japan and are reading this, the only downside is that the system won’t pass the strict shaken periodic roadworthy test there, but if you’re willing to switch back to stock for one day every couple of years, it’s not an issue, and we certainly don’t see it being a problem in most other countries.

    So, having produced this ‘dream car’ and fulfilled the company’s original ambition, how does Endo-san feel? As he puts it, “we’ve never been about selling parts per sé. We’ve always developed parts with an eye to exciting the driver, whether it’s via improved styling, or upgraded ride, handling or engine feel. So when I got in the completed car the first time, there was a feeling of ‘we’ve finally done it’; that we’d achieved our goal of being able to excite the driver in every way we could”. Unsurprisingly, the positive impression continued when he drove it, too. “It’s now much more of a sports car to drive. The engine response has improved, as has the handling, so it now accelerates and points exactly the way you tell it to”.

    Having said all that, 3D Design’s journey towards selling a complete car isn’t quite over yet. There’s the small matter of actually building a Tokyo showroom, which begins in May, and signing an agreement with a local dealer to supply brand new M4s the company can add all its bits to as well. After that, it may look at expanding its dealership reach past the nation’s capital, but Endo-san says that’s not been decided upon yet. No doubt there are plans afoot for more parts for other BMWs too. At the recent Tokyo Auto Salon, for example, it had a few prototype M2 parts on display, including an intercooler, race-use exhaust (similar to the M4 one) and race-oriented coilovers, so that model may well be next. A slightly more affordable dream? Maybe. Either way, an exciting one we’ll be sure to keep track of.

    Contact: 3D Design / Web:

    The switch to custom-embroidered Recaro Sportsters definitely changes the atmosphere

    TECHNICAL FATA FILE #3D-Design / #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4-3D-Design-F82 / #BMW-M4-3D-Design / #BMW-M4-Tuned / #BMW-M4-F82-Tuned / #DME-Tuning-Stage-2 / #DME-Tuning /

    Engine: Twin-turbo, 24-valve, straight-six, #Valvetronic , double #Vanos , direct injection / #S55B30T0 / #S55 / #BMW-S55

    Capacity: 2979cc

    Max Power: 529.6PS @ 6000rpm

    Max Torque: 561lb ft @ 2000rpm


    Engine: 3D Design carbon airbox with #BMC filter element, #DME-Tuning-Stage-2-ECU remap

    Exhaust : 3D Design cat-back stainless mid-pipe and valve-controlled stainless quad-tip muffler

    Wheels & Tyres : #3D-Design-Anniversary-01 forged monobloc wheels 9.5x20-inches (f) and 10.5x20-inch (r) with 235/30 (f) and 285/30 (r) Yokohama Advan Sport V105 tyres.

    Suspension: 3D Design machined alloy dampers with 20-step compression and rebound damping control and 6kg/mm (f) and 8kg/mm (r) springs

    Brakes : #Brembo-GT big brake kit with six piston calipers (f) and four-piston calipers (r) and 405mm (f) and 380mm (r) slotted rotors

    Styling: 3D Design resin-infusion carbon front and rear bumper, cry carbon side skirts, dry carbon Racing wing, dry carbon bootlid spoiler, polyurethane roof spoiler, resin-infusion carbon mirror covers, body stripe stickers

    Interior: 3D Design sports pedal kit, hand brake lever, shift paddles, floormats, Stack gauge kit and custom-embroidered Recaro Sportster seats

    No one else on the market is offering such a thing, so it gives the company a competitive advantage.
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    The M4 is an extremely capable machine but there’s plenty more potential to be unlocked, and that’s exactly what Thorney Motorsport has been busy doing. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Richardson.

    Thorney Motorsport M4

    As far as all-rounders go, the M3 and M4 are really hard to beat. BMW’s move from glorious, high-revving NA V8 to less exciting twin-turbo straight-six was, we suppose, inevitable in terms of the way the motoring world is headed, but while it may not deliver the same sort of spinetingling soundtrack as the S65 V8 did, you really can’t knock the S55. It’s got masses of easily accessible torque, it’s got a big-hitting top end and, driven gently, you can nudge 30mpg, plus the affordable tuning potential is on another planet compared with the S65.

    It’s wrapped up in a car that’s, relatively speaking, pretty lightweight – lighter than the E9x M3 – but not short on luxury and creature comforts. As an all-round performance machine it’s nigh-on unbeatable. Of course, that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement, and Thorney Motorsport has been really getting under the skin of the M4 to make it the best it can be.

    Now most of us, upon the purchase of a new car, will likely go for a drop, sort out some new wheels and look at getting more power out of it, because that’s just what you do. We’d be happy with that but Thorney Motorsport takes a different, far more measured approach because it’s not modding a car for fun, it’s developing parts that it will sell and it wants to make sure that the car they combine to create is a fullyfledged, finely-honed performance machine.

    The M4, you’d think, would be the perfect candidate for a series of improvements to bring out its best, but Thorney has had a somewhat thorny relationship with its M4 and, while many owners are delighted with their cars, we’ve heard of a surprising amount who, after the initial delight of their M3s and M4s had worn off, realised they weren’t happy and were looking at swapping to an E9x M3 instead. So what gives?

    “We do a lot of Vauxhall tuning alongside our #BMW work,” explains owner John Thorne, “and I had customers who’d switched from their Astra VXRs to M4s complaining about the handling and traction, saying the car was hard work and they weren’t enjoying it. One guy sold his within a month and a half of buying it. I told them they needed to learn to drive but then we bought our one and I realised there was a problem. In a straight line, it’s fine, but in corners the traction control is forever cutting in and the rear feels loose. Driven hard on the road, it’s a not a good handling car.” That’s surprising to hear but then again, how many of us really push our cars that hard and how many of us have the motorsport experience to be able to analyse exactly what a car’s doing? The handling, therefore, became John’s focus with his tuning programme for the M4 and his desire to tame the M4 and turn it into the car he knows it could be brings to mind one man’s obsession with a certain white whale, but where that made for a great novel this will make for a great driver’s car.

    “We went for the geometry first, but there’s not much adjustment and it made no difference, so we went for the springs next. Initially we tried Eibachs, which we found too soft, and we tried Teins which were far too hard, so then we tried H&R’s higher springs, which made no difference, and then went for its lowest offering, which we’re running on the car now. They give a 40mm drop and have really made a difference to how the car feels; previously, the car just couldn’t put the power down in Sport or Sport Plus and in Comfort it was too soft, but now on the Sport setting there’s a lot more grip and it feels more stable through the corners. Though it’s certainly not perfect,” he says, but it’s a cost effective upgrade which makes the car much better.

    “I drove a Competition pack car and while it offers more outright grip it’s no better in corners than the standard car; the additional grip is welcome, though, so we’re going to fit a set of Toyo R888s,” explains John. “We’re going to go wider at the back, 285 or maybe even 295, but we’re going to stick with the stock front tyre width as there’s no understeer, just no rear grip.

    “We’re working directly with Bilstein to develop dampers for the car, but they have to retain the adjustability of the EDC – the same as its E9x M3 damper, in fact, a plug and play solution. I’ve told Bilstein how the car needs to handle, that the slow speed damper compression needs to be softer and that the rebound is currently too stiff.

    Bilstein’s damper curve is much softer on low speed stuff, which is good. We get sent a new set of dampers to test, we make notes of the changes we’d like and then Bilstein sends another set and we see what’s been changed and we carry on like this until we’re both satisfied. The right Bilsteins could transform this car and it would be a Porsche-beater, but we’re not there just yet.

    We’re close, though,” he smiles. “That’s our target for each car: to be able to beat Porsches on track. In a straight line, the M4 is quicker than a 911 GT3 RS, but not in the corners, at least no just yet…”

    While the handling may be a bone of contention, the perfect setup is not far off and in the meantime Thorney has found a good solution to tame the M4’s wayward handling habits, one that not only doesn’t cost the earth but also actively encourages you to go for an aggressive drop.

    One area where the M4 is certainly not lacking is performance and it’s also an area where getting the best out of the car requires a lot less effort. It’s surprising how much of a difference the little things make. “The first thing we did was to run the car for three tanks of fuel using 95 octane unleaded then dyno’d it and then we ran it for three tanks of super and dyno’d it again. On regular unleaded the car was 25hp down on the stated power output of 431hp at the top end, so it’s worth only running it on super.

    “The next step was to develop our own remap. It took 96 dyno runs before we were completely happy with the mapping; the remap is our Stage 1 upgrade, which takes power up to 490hp. Stage 2 adds the exhaust, as fitted to this car. It’s a full system, mandrel bent, with 3” piping throughout and also includes 200 cell and 62g cats. This adds another 40hp on top of the remap for a running total of 530hp. Stage 3 will be an oil cooler and bigger chargecooler setup which we’re working on now.” For the moment, though, 530hp is plenty to be getting on with.

    “We’ve also added braided lines to the brakes and while we’re working with Pagid to develop a pad for the car, on the road they’re fine and don’t really need to be upgraded. If you want the best brakes possible for track use then I’d recommend ticking the carbon ceramic brake kit box when you’re ordering the car,” he says. And, while the M4 is not a car that’s lacking in the looks department, John has also worked on the car’s styling, adding an M Performance front lip to fill out the front bumper and a Thorney Motorsport carbon rear wing based on the GT4 racer’s spoiler.

    It would have been rude to come all the way up to Thorney’s Silverstone HQ and not take the M4 out for a spin and John is keen for me to have a go, especially after I’d just driven Thorney’s track-built E92 M3, and it’s not a hardship to agree to go for a play in his 530hp machine. The first thing you notice is the noise; the M4 isn’t a quiet car and now there’s even more volume to the soundtrack. It still can’t hold a candle to the S65 V8 but if you like your performance cars to sound aggressive the Thorney exhaust system doesn’t disappoint.

    The next thing you notice is the power or, rather, the torque. There’s just so much of it; punch the throttle hard at anything above tickover and your head is forced into the headrest, it’s that brutal. In fact, brutal really does do a very good job of describing the power delivery of this car, it’s instant and you get so much of it that it’s all you can do but hang on for dear life. Driving this car makes you feel that there’s no need for any more performance. Any more would be silly, which might sound weird coming from a modified BMW magazine but it just feels so utterly relentless that there’s no situation this car could not deal with.

    And that’s before we even get onto the power; 90% of the driving experience is being battered by that brutal onslaught of torque, which propels the car to stupid speeds on even the lightest of throttle applications but when the road allows you the chance to open this M4 up the power is absurd. The delivery is relentless, completely un-turbo-like, and the power keeps on coming all the way to the redline, at which point you must decide whether or not you want to snatch the next gear and go again, or back off and breathe, because the M4’s been accelerating so hard that you’ve forgotten about your basic functions.

    In terms of the chassis, the ride is still firm and the traction control seems busy most of the time meaning you really want to find the smoothest, flattest Tarmac before exploring the upper echelons of this M4’s performance envelope. It certainly feels like a more stable beast through the corners, though, and gives you enough confidence to be able to enjoy pushing the car. For the cost of set of springs, if you’re serious about exploiting all of the performance your M4 has to offer, it’s a no-brainer.

    Thorney Motorsport’s modified M4 is a ferocious, furious machine which delivers an intense driving experience and feels as fast as you’d ever need or want a car to feel. But while there’s more performance work to come from Thorney along with the aforementioned ongoing quest for the perfect suspension setup that will unlock this car’s full potential, John’s plans go far beyond that: “In the short term I might change the wheels and I want better seats.

    I’m not impressed with the standard ones and I’m looking at #HRX race buckets but the ultimate goal is to take this car to the level of the M4 GTS, but better.” That’s exactly what the goal was with the company’s E92 M3 and, judging by our experience with that.

    Exhaust system looks the part, with quad carbon tips, and delivers real performance gains.

    Exterior has been enhanced with GT4-style spoiler.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Thorney-Motorsport / #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4-Thorney-Motorsport / #BMW-M4-Thorney-Motorsport-F82 / #Thorney-Motorsport-F82 / #Thorney-Motorsport-M4 / #BMW-M4-Tuned / #2016 / #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-F82 / #BMW-4-Series-M4 / #BMW-4-Series-M4-F82

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #S55B30 / #BMW-S55 / #S55 , custom #TMS-remap , high-flow air filters, 3” bore mandrel bent custom full exhaust system with twin silencers, 200 cell 62g cats and quad carbon fibre exhaust tip trims, seven-sped #M-DCT gearbox

    POWER 530hp

    CHASSIS 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) Style 437M wheels with 15mm spacers and 255/40 (front) and 275/40 (rear) tyres, #H&R 40mm lowering springs, custom geometry setup, braided brake lines

    EXTERIOR M Performance front splitter and air intakes, #TMS #GT4-style carbon fibre rear wing, #TMS-M-Sport livery

    INTERIOR All Stock
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    Finely Honed #BMW

    The M3 is a hugely accomplished machine straight out-of-the-box, but with the full Schnitzer treatment it’s an even sharper instrument Words and photography: Steve Hall.

    We take a trip to Germany to see what a set of AC Schnitzer upgrades can do for the M3.

    Wheelspin… let’s try third. There’s the boost… and there’s the wheelspin. Okay, how about fourth gear? A flicker from the traction control, the looser MDM mode allowing a moderate amount of traction loss. Yep, probably not the ideal conditions to test the performance envelope of a rear-wheel drive saloon sporting 70lb ft of torque and 60hp more than the already punchy standard M3. It seems churlish to reference traction issues given the rain has been falling in a deluge for the last hour leaving the roads glistening with a sheen of water that even German drainage is struggling to cope with. With no let-up in sight, my run of luck (after four days of German autumnal sunshine) has come to an end; there will be no photoshoot today…

    Fast-forward one week, and we’re greeted with a late October day basking in sunshine. Chilly it may be but the roads are bone dry, perfect for those turbos to gulp down cool air and operate at maximum efficiency. You’d think they already were – particularly in 450hp Competition pack form – but no, with the ACS3 Sport, Schnitzer has managed to squeeze 510hp out of the M3’s lusty #S55B30 in-line ‘six, backed by a solid wall of torque, peaking at 475lb ft.

    Given that we’ve found the standard M3 hardly lacking in the area of straight line performance, adding 20 percent more power and 17 percent more torque has a suitably eye-opening effect on the level of performance on offer, and explains the M3’s difficulty in getting that performance onto the ground the previous week. Hardly an M3 strong point, wet traction is something that either occupies the traction control system or demands a lot of your attention, depending which setting you’ve deployed in the stability control system. Either way, you’re glad of the M3’s natural chassis balance.

    To be fair, it comes as no surprise that a 475lb ft rear-wheel drive saloon struggles to put its power down in sodden conditions, particularly when you look at the torque curve – maximum torque arrives before even 2000rpm has registered on the tachometer. The ramp up in torque so low down in the rev range can have the rear wheels over-rotating before you can say sideways, requiring swift and accurate corrective lock, but with time you learn to measure your throttle inputs and start to enjoy the ACS3’s exuberance. You always need your wits about you in the wet as a small amount of lateral load (such as when joining a motorway) can set the tail wagging in even fourth gear, but generally speaking the task of managing the Schnitzer M3’s rampant torque delivery is an entertaining challenge.

    Naturally things are much calmer on the dry roads of today’s photoshoot. There’s more than enough torque to break traction in second (and third over undulations) but we’re able to delve deep into the ACS3’s power band and really give it its head. There’s a stretch of autobahn between the Schnitzer factory in the east of Aachen, Germany and our photoshoot location to the south which allows several kilometres of derestricted running, and despite the smattering of traffic there are a few opportunities to really let rip through the intermediate gears. So we find ourselves cruising at the posted 120km/h limit, waiting for the fabled white circle with the diagonal triple black stripe to appear, shifting down into third as we approach, then bury the throttle as we enter the zone. Third, fourth and fifth gears are swiftly dispatched, the sixth ratio quickly taking us deep into an indicated 250km/h+ (155mph) before traffic ahead brings speeds back to normal. We repeat the exercise a few more times – all in the name of science, you understand – and find the M3’s ability to leap from 130km/h (81mph) up to serious territory north of 250km/h deeply impressive. This is major league performance, and feels way beyond the standard M3 in its ability to shrug off weight and aerodynamic drag to pile on speed. Repeating the exercise in fourth and fifth gears underline the torque-rich nature of the S55B30’s mid-range, the motor pulling hard from 3000rpm, making short work of the sprint back up to 250km/h. There’s plenty of reward to be had from letting the engine rev right out to its 7600rpm redline, too; just as with the standard M3/4 the Schnitzer-massaged S55B30 has a freerevving nature and energetic top end delivery which belies its forced induction, accompanied by a sonorous howl from the Schnitzer exhaust.

    Which brings us neatly to one of the star facets of this car; it sounds ripsnortingly good. The M3 (and M4) are hardly a pair of shrinking violets but the addition of the Schnitzer rear silencers introduces an extra level of volume from the rear which sounds suitably menacing at idle (particularly on start up), with a deep, powerful, sporting timbre through the mid-range. As one of the prime senses excited whilst driving a performance car, the added aural signature of the ACS3 is an important and integral part of the package. The silencers incorporate flap control, so startup soon calms down to sociable volume levels whilst adding a pleasing visual flourish.

    It will not have escaped your attention that adding visual flourish is very much part of the Schnitzer remit for the ACS3 Sport. Ticking the box marked ‘San Marino blue-metallic’ is always going to be an excellent starting point – this colour looks sensational in direct sunlight – and we applaud the decision to opt for the four-door M3 over the perhaps more obvious M4 Coupé as the ACS3 Sport demonstrator. There’s something terrifically butch and aggressive about the pumped up M3 shape, particularly from the rear three quarters.

    Schnitzer has fitted its familiar, gorgeous, fivespoke AC1 Lightweight forged alloys wrapped in 265/30/R20 (front) and 285/30/R20 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sports. They hunker into the arches of the 30mm lower ACS3 Sport, and alongside the myriad carbon exterior elements – front splitter and side wings primary among them – combine to create a cohesive and imposing aesthetic signature. The flourishes continue inside in the usual Schnitzer fashion, so footrest and pedals are replaced with aluminium items whilst handbrake handle, mats and key holder are Schnitzer items. With photography duties just about finished it’s time to head back to the factory, taking in a few twisties along the way. It’s here that the AC Schnitzer RS adjustable suspension comes to the fore, demonstrating an impressive ability to round off the worst the road surface can throw at it without introducing the crashiness sometimes associated with lowering a car and reducing suspension travel.

    Naturally the setup is very firm, but this affords superb body control, the ACS3 Sport changing direction sharply with little discernible body roll. The ACS3 feels taught, controlled and keyed into the road surface with none of the vertical bobbing the M3 occasionally elicits over long amplitude bumps. As a passive system for a road-based car, we’d say Schnitzer has nailed its setup, delivering the level of control we look for in a tuned car of this power without overstepping the mark and making it too harsh for road use.

    On the autobahn, at the very high speeds the ACS3 is so easily capable of, stability is just as supreme as you’d expect; you could drive with one hand at 150mph should you so desire (naturally, we don’t recommend this!). Of course, we’re pretty much in one of the ACS3’s natural habitats here on the autobahn, but it’s another demonstration of how thoroughly the package has been developed. Indeed, this is part and parcel of buying a car such as the ACS3 Sport. With a company as well known and respected as Schnitzer, you know the car has been subject to a fulsome testing programme before it was ready to launch.

    Consequently, others in the M3/4 tuning world may have got to market sooner, and some may offer higher power outputs, but with the ACS3 you’re paying for the thoroughness and the confidence that comes with that. A confidence reflected in the two-year warranty Schnitzer supplies as part of all its upgrades. With the tuning box approach (whereby the new ECU effectively piggy-backs onto the existing one) it’s even possible to return your car to factory standard settings should you so desire. And, of course, that thoroughness of engineering is reflected in every element of the driving experience. We love the M3/4 family as it leaves Munich’s hallowed halls, but a visit to Aachen moves the M3 onto another level: sharper, faster, visually imposing and replete with an aural signature to make you smile.

    TECHNICAL DATA #2017 #AC-Schnitzer-ACS3-Sport / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS3-F80 / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW #M3-based #AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer-F80 / #BMW-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer-M3 / #AC-Schnitzer-F80 / #BMW-3-Series-F80 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-M3-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-M3-AC-Schnitzer-F80 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #ACS3-Sport

    ENGINE: Twin-turbo, straight-six
    CAPACITY: 2979cc
    MAX POWER: 510hp
    MAX TORQUE: 476lb ft
    0-62MPH: 4.0 seconds
    50-120MPH: 6.2 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
    DIMENSIONS: (length/width/height in mm): 4671/1870/1383
    WEIGHT/MATERIAL: 1572kg/steel aluminum and composites


    ENGINE: #AC-Schnitzer-performance-upgrade and exhaust system with valve control and Sport Black tailpipe trims / #S55 / #BMW-S55 / #S55-AC-Schnitzer / #S55-tuning

    WHEELS AND TYRES: #AC-Schnitzer-AC1 lightweight forged in BiColour finish.
    Front: 9x20-inches with 265/30 R20 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.
    Rear: 10x20-inches with 285/25 R21 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres

    SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer adjustable coilover ‘Racing’ package, lowered 30mm at the front and 40mm at the rear
    STYLING: AC Schnitzer carbon front spoiler elements, rear diffuser, upper rear spoiler, Racing front splitter, side wings, carbon rear spoiler, carbon fibre wing mirror covers

    INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer aluminium pedal set and footrest, handbrake handle, key holder and floor mats

    CONTACT: AC Schnitzer UK
    Tel: 01485 542000
    AC Schnitzer (Germany)
    Tel: +49 (0) 241 5688130

    Visual flourish is very much part of the Schnitzer remit for the ACS3 Sport.

    The added aural signature of the ACS3 is an important and integral part of the package.
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    Double Dare

    Owning one street-and track-tuned M3 would be enough for most people. But not Chad Bates – he’s upped the ante with a matching pair. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Peter Wu.


    Fierce E92 M3 and F80 M3 tear up the Tarmac / Stunning twin M3s

    The two cars you’re looking at here – the E92 M3, and the F80 M3 – may be just a single generation apart, but they couldn’t be more different. The E92 features a thudding Goliath of an engine, a brutal, highrevving V8 with a soundtrack that can strip paint off cheap houses. It is (relatively speaking) an old-skool bruiser.

    The F80, conversely, is a smart representation of modern technological advances; a focus on combining performance with efficiency – plus the everpresent emissions Sword of Damocles – has seen to it that the motor is now a twin-turbo straight-six. Furthermore, this generation finally broke the M3 chain, hitherto being a badge glued to the two- and four-door variants: whereas the E92 M3 we have here is a coupé, the F80 is a four-door saloon. If you want a two-door coupé version of the F80, you will find yourself with an M4. Which is actually an F82. Such is progress, such is life.

    They are, of course, tied by an indelible bond, each an exciting chapter in the ongoing M3 saga, and their owner, Chad Bates, has artfully augmented these ties with tasteful upgrades to further accentuate their kinship: they both wear BBS wheels, they both roll on KW suspension, they’re both painted in subtle shades of grey. This measured approach is the result of a lifetime of modifying for Chad – although he admits that BMWs are, in the grand scheme of things, reasonably new territory for him.

    “I bought my first car, a 1984 Jeep Cherokee, at the age of 16,” he explains. “Ever since that point I have embarked upon making a personal statement with my cars.

    The Cherokee got stripped down and repainted, and received one of the most insane sound systems that money could buy. It was a fun little first car that got me around during my high school years! My second car was a heavily modified 1992 Honda Accord, which I kept for a couple of years before purchasing an Acura Integra GS-R – that, again, was heavily modified, although it got stolen and vandalised in 2002, and that left a horrible taste in my mouth.”

    Disheartened by this turn of events, Chad just didn’t feel his place in the modifying scene any more, so he pulled the ’chute and drifted out of it. Fast-forward to 2008 and he’d become a family man, so he acquired his first BMW – a shiny new 550i – to ferry the kids around in. It was wellequipped and had a bit of get-up-and-go, but he never felt any desire to modify it. But then, in 2011, the lease expired and Chad found himself yearning for something more… offbeat. And that’s when a voice in his brain reminded him what sparked the interest in Bavarian machinery in the first place. “My initial interest in BMWs began in 1996, when a friend of mine bought an E36 M3 and began modifying it,” he reminisces.

    “At that time, there weren’t a lot of young people from my hometown who could afford that type of vehicle, let alone modify them. So the car quickly became a local legend.” Chad felt that it was the right time to grab a handful of that stardust for himself, so he did the decent thing and ordered himself a brand-new E92 M3.

    “It started as a Jerez black 2012 E92 that I E92 M3 planned to keep pretty much stock, but thanks to magazines, forums and friends, that desire to keep it stock quickly passed,” he laughs. “I began modifying just about everything that could be touched on the car, and spent quite a bit of time on the track. After about three years owning the car, however, it was beginning to show signs of wear from all the track abuse, and I decided to make a pretty dramatic change. So I stripped it down in my home garage…”

    Yep, you read that right. No mucking about here, it’s all hands-on. In fact, Chad’s proud to explain that he’s carried out as many of the mods as he was physically able to on both cars. But we’ll get to the F80 in due course. First, we have a stripped down E92 to deal with: “All the body panels were removed and the entire interior was gutted,” he continues. “I shipped the shell to the guys at Strassesport in Irwindale, CA, where they painted it in Audi Nardo grey – something I hadn’t seen on a BMW before. Once the paint was finished the guys allowed me to work in their shop putting the entire car back together with my own hands.”

    The finished product, as you can see, is pretty meaty: staggered BBS E88s, copious carbon fibre touches, Recaro Sportster CS seats – and the rear bumper’s pretty jazzy too. Built up by Strassesport, it has aftermarket diffusers and flares smoothed right in, appearing like an OEM factory piece to all but those who know what they’re looking at. Classy, huh?

    After a year, however, Chad got itchy feet. He was loving the street racer thrills of the E92, but he wanted to add to his collection. Something unusual, something different. And the answer came in the form of, er, another grey M3.

    “A unique 2015 F80 M3 came up for sale,” he grins. “It had been ordered from BMW Individual and no expense was spared. It was the first of its kind to be painted in Fashion grey; a colour borrowed from Porsche. The interior was trimmed in contrasting Fjord blue and Silverstone leather. It was probably the most expensive M3 built at the time, with just about every option – and of course all the extra individual costs associated with the paint and interior. I knew that if I was going to purchase the new F8x model, the car had to be something special, and I knew that this car would fit the bill.” And, naturally, with those old modifying urges now firmly in overdrive, this was never going to be a case of simply finding a wellspec’d car and keeping it standard. Just like with that schoolboy Cherokee, Chad needed to make his personal statement.

    Like the E92, the engine’s had its management breathed upon, while the exhaust has been replaced with something that allows the brutal motor to bark with more ferocity. KW coilovers offer a neat balance between track prowess and streetable durability, and a handful of carbon-fibre exterior mods really set off that Fashion Grey hue in style.

    “Both of these cars were purchased to be promotional tools for my business, MotorRennGruppe, a manufacturer of titanium wheel hardware,” he explains, and that’s the logic informing the look-at-me wheels on both cars. The E92 wears 18” BBS E88s in staggered widths, while the F80 has a set of genuinely mighty custom-built BBS LMs, the rears measuring an eye-watering and arch-busting 12x20”. Just check out those Michelins, they’re a 305-section at the rear. That’s supercar wide!

    “For all my cars, I prefer very aggressive wheel setups that push the limits of the stock arches without making the cars look out of place or hacked up,” says Chad. “The E92’s E88s were rebuilt with new inner and outer barrels to widen the fronts to 10” and the rears to 11.5”, with offsets that brought the faces of the wheel nearly even with the arch lips. Then I knew I had to do something special with the F80, so I had a set of stock BBS LMs rebuilt to 10” and 12” widths. To my knowledge, this was the first set of 20” LMs done for the F80 M3.”

    What particularly strikes us about Chad when he’s describing his modifying journey with this grey duo is that it’s all very considered and thoughtful; he’s not the type to rush in and overdo things. Perhaps it’s the background of getting his hands dirty and doing everything himself, but there’s not an iota of effort wasted here.

    Take the engine tuning, for example. It’s easy to go a bit mad with M3s, but it’s good to remember that they’re pretty formidable in stock form, and sometimes less is more. “Both cars maintain stock engine internals, and were treated with tunes and bolt-on accessories,” he points out. “The E92 has a Stage II tune from BPM Sport, while the F80 has the E-Flash Tuner from ESS. Both cars have uprated intake systems from Macht Schnell and Maximum PSI, and the F80 has BMS charge pipes bolted up to the stock turbos. The ESS tune on the F80 bumps up the power considerably over stock with race fuel, and is extremely capable on the track – although I prefer driving the E92 over the F80 for the raw sound of the V8!”

    Ah, the agony of choice, eh? But despite the obvious similarities between Chad’s two M3s, there’s a clear ideological split: the E92 has been built to be sporty and trackfriendly, while the swankier F80 is the luxurious daily driver that just happens to have Continent-crushing GT potential as well as track-slaying physical drama. Between them, they tick a lot of boxes.

    So where does he go from here? “Well, I’d like a Porsche GT3 next,” he tells us. Yeah, he says that… but with two entirely different M3s to choose from – one modern, sensible and cosseting, the other an old-skool badboy track monster – we suspect he’s going to have his hands pretty full for a while.

    “The F80 is capable on the track, but I prefer the E92 for the raw sound of the V8!”
    “The car had to be something special… I knew this would fit the bill”

    “For all my cars, I prefer very aggressive wheel setups”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-E92 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 , #Macht-Schnell-Stage-2 intake, #BPM-Sport-Stage-2 tune, #Megan-Racing exhaust system, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.

    CHASSIS 10x18” (front) and 11.5x18” (rear) #BBS-E88 wheels with 255/35 (front) and 285/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot SuperSport tyres, #KW-Variant-3 coilovers, #StopTech Trophy big brake kit with six-piston callipers and 380x35mm discs (front) and four-piston callipers with 355x35mm discs (rear).

    EXTERIOR Audi Nardo grey paint, OEM Euro-spec front bumper, iND grilles, bonnet vents and side gills, Mode Carbon GTS V1 carbon fibre front lip and side skirts, BMW carbon fibre mirror caps (painted Nardo grey), custom-moulded BMW M Performance spoiler, custom-moulded rear bumper with integrated diffuser.

    INTERIOR Recaro Sportster CS seats, BMW Performance steering wheel, Pedal Haus pedals, heel plate and paddle shifters.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-F80 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #S55B30 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 , #ESS flash tune, #Eisenmann valved exhaust system, #BMS charge pipes, #Maximum-PSI charge intakes, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.

    CHASSIS 10x20” (front) and 12x20” (rear) custombuilt #BBS-LM wheels with 245/35 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, #KW-HAS coilovers, M carbonceramic brakes, #MRG titanium stud conversion.

    EXTERIOR Individual Fashion grey paint, Mode Carbon carbon-fibre Trophy S1 front lip, rear diffuser and M4-style rear spoiler, iND cosmetic package, modified M4 #BMW-M-Performance side skirts.

    INTERIOR Individual Fjord blue and Silverstone extended leather interior with contrasting stitching, BMW M Performance steering wheel, factory carbon fibre interior trim, head-up display, Mode Carbon carbon fibre seat-back replacements (front and rear), P3 Cars digital boost gauge, Pedal Haus pedals, heel plate, and paddle shifters.
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    DRINKING THE KOOL-AID 530hp #Sakhir-orange F80 M3

    It’s easy to go with the flow, isn’t it? Wheels, suspension, then hit the show scene. But for Sam Herz, it’s not quite that simple. He deliberately chose a controversial colour for his new M3 and everything just spiralled from there… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.

    F80 M3 530hp Sakhir orange Saloon

    Deep in the deserts of western Bahrain lies the Al-Sakhir Palace – a bold and imposing white colossus, brimming with Frenchinspired bastiles, faux-medieval crenellations, and more pillars than you can shake a gold bar at. Built in the late nineteenth century, it’s a place of serenity; it lay abandoned for decades after Sheikh Hamad died in 1942, and even since its renovation in the mid-1990s it’s remained a place of peaceful retreat…

    …Well, until 2004, that is. That’s the year the Bahrain International Circuit opened just down the road, and ever since there’s been a perennial soundtrack of redlining race motors accompanied by the ever-present whiff of race fuel. What price tradition, eh?

    And it’s after this effervescent turn of events that BMW has named one of the more vibrant colours on its palette in recent years: Sakhir orange. This, basically, is a colour for people who don’t muck about.

    The unimaginative masses may choose to spec their new cars in Resale red or Inoffensive silver, but there’s a hardcore of BMW fans who live for today, who couldn’t give a monkeys about residuals, who want their new purchase to be as in-your-face as it can be while still holding (perhaps tenuously) on to its warranty. Sam Herz is one such person. Just check out his outrageous F80 M3: it’s so hashtag just-ain’t care, it’s Sakhir orange on the outside and the inside.

    “It was a surprisingly difficult car to source in this colour scheme,” Sam laughs. We don’t doubt it – the ratio of serious enthusiasts to plastic posers who buy M3s is a figure the firm is naturally unable to provide, but we’re sure the former group is probably smaller, their whims taking the dealers somewhat by surprise sometimes. So let’s rewind to where all this began for Sam. It started, as you might imagine, with another BMW. “It really all stemmed from a poster of an E46 M3 that a friend gave me in high school,” he recalls, squinting slightly as he peers through a rose-tinted fug of ethereal mist. “I kept that picture on my wall throughout college as sort of a motivation – and, eventually, I got one!”

    You can insert your cliché about living out the American dream here, although the truth was that it was a bit of stretch; being a college student with an M3 meant that he naturally didn’t have a whole bunch of cash for modifications. But time marches inexorably onward, situations change as lifestyles evolve and nowadays the act of fettling hot BMWs offers Sam a rather soothing break from the go-go everyday of working in software, doing something we don’t totally understand with ones and zeroes. We think he might captain one of those ships in The Matrix. Whatever it is he does, he’s a smart cookie. That’s all you need to really know.

    “I have bad enough luck that I generally leave the big jobs to the shop,” Sam shrugs, “but I am looking forward to doing a little more of my own wrenching now that I have a garage.” Ah, splendid, he is human after all. Excellent. An excitable meatbag of aspiration, trepidation and enthusiasm, just like the rest of us. So, why an F80 M3, how did that all come about?

    “Well, as my E46 became more track focused, I needed a daily driver outside of my motorcycles,” Sam explains. “Previously I’d bought Performance Technic’s Dinanequipped 550i shop car – which gave me my first taste of the Dinan Kool-Aid! However, it was always kind of big and a bit ungainly. So I started looking for a slightly smaller, sportier sedan, preferably with a manual transmission, since I’d finally taught myself how to drive stick at the ripe age of 28. And after looking at basically everything in the segment, I landed on the F80. I’ve always liked the combination of the sporty and the practical that you get with the M3, and I find the new body quite striking. Also, after seeing Sakhir orange on an M5 I really, really wanted a car available in that colour!”

    This time around, Sam elected to purchase the car brand-new from a dealer, although his detailed and specific demands meant that this was very far from a case of merely ambling into a showroom, pointing at one of the cars and saying ‘yeah, that one please. Don’t wrap it, I’ll drive it home’. Not only did Sam insist on puzzling and slightly troubling the salesman by demanding an F80 that was both metallic Sakhir on the outside and stuffed with sumptuous Sakhir leather within, but he wanted Euro delivery, too. And if you don’t know what that is, here’s the principle in a nutshell: BMW USA offer a programme whereby customers get to meet their new car at the place it was built. Having flown themselves to Germany, they head over to BMW Welt where they’re put up in a swanky hotel, given a full factory tour, offered a variety of official ‘Driving Adventure’ packages, and then given the keys to their new motor and pointed toward the autobahn. When they’ve had their fill of mischief, BMW ship the car to the States to meet the new owner back at home. Brilliant idea, isn’t it?

    “When I first sat in the car at BMW Welt, it had less than a mile on the clock,” Sam beams. “I’d managed to swing things so that I could immediately take it on a grand tour of Europe, arriving at the Nürburgring with just 1203 miles racked up – just in time for that first oil change! Then there was a track day at Spa-Francorchamps a few days later, along with check-ins at both Audi factories, Ferrari, Pagani, you name it – I definitely put in the world’s slowest baby laps of every circuit but the car came home in one piece!”

    It’s an impressive tale of automotive swashbuckling but, of course, this has to be far more than a story of a man buying a new car and then driving it around. This isn’t that sort of magazine. Inevitably, Sam had plans to awesomify the F80 a little, both aesthetically and mechanically. “Actually, I didn’t at first,” he admits. “I sort of wanted to keep it stock-ish but then US customs somehow lost the car for about a month, and you know how it goes… I started getting ideas!”

    Having dipped his toe into the fragrant waters of Dinan with his old 550i, Sam was keen to replicate the engineering ethos of that car: proper, quality upgrades, geared as much for reliability as performance. If you do things cheap, you do them twice, and that’s not Sam’s way. This is why you’ll spot pretty much the entire Dinan catalogue in the spec list – the Dinantronics Performance Tuner Stage 2 hardware and software package combines with the firm’s carbon-fibre intake and an Akrapovič Evolution exhaust system to churn out a mighty 530hp. “I’ll be upgrading to Stage 3 soon, and adding a Dinan heat exchanger, too, at which point it’ll be closer to 550hp,” he explains casually. Man, he really did get into that Kool-Aid.

    “I fitted a lot of the genuine M Performance options, too, as I’ve been burned by the bad fitment of inferior parts a few too many times,” Sam continues. “And I also fitted a full self-healing clear bra so that I can actually drive the thing.” You know what he means here: optioning Sakhir orange is a brassy move, so you don’t want to then have the thing covered in stonechips and baked-on kamikaze insects. This outrageous paint job is the car’s key hook, and it’s for keeps.

    “The wheels were actually the hardest decision of the build,” Sam ponders, gazing fondly at them as if mentally validating his choice for the umpteenth time. “I was originally thinking of BBS LMs but they really don’t fit the lines of the F80. The HRE P40SC was in the running but it’s copied too often. But when IND Distribution showed off the first set of BBS FI-Rs, I knew that was the one!” The forthrightness of the rolling stock perfectly complements the bullish chassis, too. M3s are brutal in stock form but Sam’s sports Dinan coilovers, control arms and anti-roll bars, along with BMW’s own astonishing carbon-ceramic brake upgrade take it to the next level. Bit of a track warrior now, then? Something to show his E46 a thing or two? “Nah, it’s the daily,” Sam smiles. “This is California, so that means commuting to work and back; I just drove it to Seattle to see my parents. I took it to the last IMSA race at Laguna Seca. I even used it to carry all my stuff when I moved house. It’s a great car. I take it everywhere. And I often get thumbs-ups from other drivers and people coming over to talk about it at gas stations – I think it’s the orange…”

    Yep, we’d say that was a pretty safe bet. There’s opulence and motorsport intent woven deep in that Sakhir DNA, and a car with that paint is noteworthy enough. But with the care and attention Sam’s expended choosing its upgrades, and his relentless eagerness to use it as the M division intended, that’s actually about as far from drinking the Kool-Aid as it’s possible to get.

    “The wheels were actually the hardest part of the build”

    Stunning 19” #BBS FI-R wheels suit the M3 so well; below, various carbon fibre exterior additions.

    “The engine has been upgraded with a Dinan carbon-fibre intake and #Dinantronics Stage 2 software, which take power up to a mighty 530hp”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F80 / #S55 / #2016 / #BBS-FI / #BBS / #BMW-M3-Dinan / #BMW-M3-Dinan-F80 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straightsix #S55B30 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 /, Dinantronics Stage 2 hard/software, #Dinan carbon-fibre intake, #Akrapovič-Evolution catback exhaust system, approx. 530hp, six-speed manual transmission

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (f) and 10.5x19” (r) #BBS-FI-R wheels in platinum silver, 275/30 (f) and 295/30 (r) Yokohama Advan AD08R tyres, Dinan coilovers, antiroll bars and rear control arms, #BMW-M carbon ceramic brakes with sixpiston calipers and 414mm discs (f) and four-piston calipers and 380mm discs (r)

    EXTERIOR Sakhir orange metallic, Suntek clear bra (including roof and carbon-fibre trim), M Performance carbon fibre accessories

    INTERIOR Full Sakhir orange leather, #BMW-M-Performance steering wheel, M Performance gear knob, M Performance handbrake, super-cool floor mats

    THANKS Dinan Engineering, Jim Bustos at MMI Vehicle Systems, Brionne Go of Go Wraps, Chuck Thomas, Nick Owen and Brandon Watson at BMW of El Cajon, RC Levell
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    What better way to sample the Nürburgring than from the passenger seat of an F80 M3 ‘Ring Taxi’?

    / #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F80 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 / #Ring-Taxi / #BMW-M3-Ring-Taxi / #BMW-M3-Ring-Taxi-F80 / #BMW / #2016

    Theatre of Dreams (and Nightmares)

    Fancy experiencing the magic of the Nürburgring Nordschleife but don’t want to risk your own car? You’ll be wanting a passenger lap in the Ring Taxi then… Words: Robb Pritchard Photography: Robb Pritchard/

    I often cast disparaging stares at people in supercars stuck in traffic where all they can do in a 500bhp car is a quick stab of the gas before they’re at speed limit. It’s the same for motorway cruising. Pretty much any car does 70mph so although the seats may be more comfy and the ride more refined it’s still absolutely nowhere near the car’s potential. It’s like owning a racehorse but keeping it in the cattle shed. There is, however, a place you can legally explore the higher capabilities of your BMW M Series: the incredible Nürburgring Nordschleife.

    A 21km long circuit just couldn’t be built today but in the 1920s German engineers decided to build the ultimate race and test track and with a different number of turns (depending on how you count it). There is simply nothing like it in the world. Forget Le Mans, Spa, Bathurst, Monaco… the Nordschleife is, and has always been, the ultimate test of man and machine. But such is its complexity there’s no way you can just turn up and drive flat-out around it. I’ve met people who say that even 100 laps isn’t enough to learn every braking point and apex. Also, not all of us own a brand-new M3… this is where the Ring Taxi comes in. Like many great ideas, the concept is very simple. You pay for ten minutes in the passenger seat and have your mind blown by a driver you can never hope to be as good as in a car you had no real understanding could perform so well.

    A few kilometres from the circuit is the Parc Ferme hotel with about 20 cars lined-up in the drizzle like the forecourt of a sports car dealership. The Golfs and Clios didn’t do anything for me and the half-dozen 118s are not what I came for. It was the gorgeous M3, its aggressive lines accentuated by the two-tone blue and red stripes that hark back to the glory days of the 3.0 CSL, that I headed for.

    Dale Lomas is the friendly driver whose day job is driving around the Nordschleife and it felt strange to be at a race track clicking in the normal seatbelt rather than buckling-up in a five-point harness. There were no helmets either, so I assumed we weren’t going to be pushing too hard. I was a little disappointed… for about two seconds, until after we’d passed the last of the safety cones and were on the hallowed asphalt. An Impreza and a couple of Porsches, presumably also with pedals to the floor on the second part of the Döttinger Höhe straight, didn’t even warrant a mention as we blew past them. There was a bit of wheelspin on the damp tarmac on the change up to third as we took the slight left. The engine revs raced but the sound was subdued as not only is this a road car, it’s completely unchanged since it left the factory.

    The first couple of chicane kinks happened a bit too fast to properly register but then I remembered to take a breath. It was at the first turn that my conscious brain finally caught up with the animal instinct signals. I was so close to the barrier on my side that I flinched; we slid around with oversteer, the back wheel touching the outside curb. This was no ordinary tourist drive around in a nice car; this was a demonstration of exactly what this M3 is capable of. We went over the blind crest so hard on the brakes that I needed to brace myself with my feet. The tyres squealed as we drifted around the apex and headed out into the dense trees.

    “I used to love the E92,” Dale said, somehow able to think about things other than the next turn-in or braking point, “but this new car is really something very, very special. And it’s completely standard!” A few more corners came in quick succession. Dale might have told me names but I wasn’t really listening. I was more concerned with trying to find a way of splaying my legs that would brace me more effectively against the lateral g-forces.

    Then the track opened up and we went quickly up through the paddle-shift gears. On the dozens of YouTube videos I’ve watched over the years the part of the track from the Flugplatz down to Aremberg looks like a long easy flow with just a bit of a dab of the brakes before slowing for the tight right turn – unless you come across a localised hailstorm, in which case the whole field just ploughs off, as in the recent 24-Hour race. The acceleration of the M3, though, was anything but calm; it was gloriously violent. The crest lifted me up in the seat. A nasty dip just in the braking zone almost knocked my camera out of my hand. The left turn is blind and then it’s a horribly steep and slightly turning braking zone before the corner. The little squeals from the tyres, the way the back stepped out after every apex, it felt like were on the absolute limit. But Dale was inch perfect. It’s an instinctive accuracy that only comes with years of practice. An incredible 10,000 laps, in fact.

    Before I arrived I imagined seeing the places written in motorsport history here: Manfred Winkelhock’s flip over the Flugplatz in 1980; Niki Lauda’s crash in 1976; the same corners that the insane pre-war death-trap Auto Unions and Silver Arrows drifted around. But no, all my mental faculties were taken up with just how fast we were going. I heard the old axiom about motor racing being the theatre that road car technologies are forged in and the M3 is the embodiment of that. It’s an absolutely incredible car and I realised that there must be a very high percentage of M3 owners who have only the slightest inkling of what their car is actually capable of.

    It was another surge of acceleration down the hill to the Foxhole where my narrative sadly ends. I made the mistake of trying to adjust my camera just as we bottomed-out. Cornering, braking and slamming down into the compression all at once pressed vital organs against my digestive system and long suppressed memories of bus rides in India came flooding back.

    My lunch gave the distinct impression that it wasn’t planning on staying where it was for too much longer and suddenly I was having a ‘ring’ experience of completely the wrong type. Opening the window at such speeds wouldn’t have been too comfortable and the air-con didn’t do too much to help. On a €225 a lap test-drive on the most awesome circuit in the world we were going to have to pull over…

    There’s an access road at Ex-Mühle and I only just managed to open the door in time. Dale, an absolute star, ran off to find me some water and did an excellent job of stifling his laughter. I hardly noticed him at all. I race in the Baja 1000. I got a podium in class at the King of the Hammers, the only European to do so, so I am no stranger to speed or extreme cars, so actually making me ill proves just how fast and intense a Ring Taxi lap really is. If you love fast cars you are going to love absolutely it. Unless you don’t like rollercoasters. If you don’t like rollercoasters, don’t do this!

    “Does this happen often?” I asked, hoping I would feel better if Dale told me that he hardly manages a lap before someone asks him to stop. “About once or twice a year,” he replied. Nope. I didn’t feel better. With hazard lights flashing we trundled on being passed by a Volvo estate and even a Nissan Micra.

    Dale chuckled. It seemed I’m not the only one having a unique experience. “In or out?” he asked about the Carousel, a rough-looking concrete wall of death on the inside of a hairpin. “In,” I said, still with the idea of writing this as though it was a serious hot lap all the way from bridge to gantry. It’s rougher than it looks.

    We bashed around, leaning over at a 30-degree angle and, even going pathetically slowly, the car was still battered and my stomach churned. “You okay?” Dale asked and a few corners later my hand was on the door handle again. “This is Brunchen, the YouTube corner where everyone films. Are you sure you want to stop here?” He was concerned for my online wellbeing and potential Facebook notoriety; Dale really is a top bloke. “It’s actually quite cool going so slowly. You notice lots of details you don’t normally see,” he mused, being positive. “It’s really lovely scenery.” “You never really noticed before?” I asked. “No. I never went so slow before!”

    We stopped again, not for me this time but for the Volvo that was parked at a funny angle after being in the barriers. Dale radio’d it into the marshals. Another good reason to go with Ring Taxi; you won’t need to take out a second mortgage if you bend the barriers! “Driving a car fast on the Nordschleife is like boxing,” Dale said as we finally made it back onto the main straight. You can watch as many videos as you like but if you get in the ring with a professional thinking that you are good, you’re going to get your face broken. It’s the same here. Nothing you can do on a normal road or even another race circuit can prepare you for the Nordschleife. If you think you can drive fast on your first few laps you will have an accident.”

    Driving high performance road cars around the Nürburgring is cool but it’s racing that this track is famous for. Dale drove in the recent 24-Hour race, in the dark, in the rain, lights all around, tyres going off, different conditions on each lap. Yes, a Ring Taxi ride with a guy who can cope with all of that is definitely worth €225.

    Memories to keep

    You will, no doubt, want to keep such memories for prosperity and for this there are a few guys around the track shooting you in the passenger seat with wide eyes and a big smile. For around £7 a photo it’s a bargain – contact

    CONTACT: Ring Taxi / Web:
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    American F80 M3 in Individual Avus blue with lush custom interior packs a 560whp punch.

    KILLER INSTINCT 560whp Avus

    With ferocious looks, a stunning colour scheme, an opulent custom interior, and massive power, this awesome M3 is not a machine to be trifled with. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Mike Kuhn.

    M3 or M4? We wager most of you will be in ‘camp coupé’, the two-door’s sleek lines proving irresistibly seductive, with every design element focused on making it look as low and wide as possible, with more than a little success.

    But don’t write-off the M3; it’s no ugly duckling and the narrower body but identical track mean that it boasts swollen arches that are hidden in the M4’s wide bodywork, giving it a pumped-up look that makes other saloons cower in fear. And there’s something cool about ultra-powerful four-door saloons that surprise the unsuspecting with the sort of firepower they only expect from a coupé. Of course, it’s a lot less of a surprise these days as the ‘cult of the super saloon’ is now less of a cult and more a family-friendly club where everyone knows your name. However, the enduring appeal of the saloon, as sparked by legends such as the Lotus Carlton, Brabus EV12 and, of course, BMW’s own M5, remains. Just ask Shaun Fulton, because this is his F80 M3 and it’s awesome…

    Although Shaun grew up around Volvos, the reliable Swedish marque being his dad’s choice of wheels, the sole reason he’s not currently hauling Labradors around in a rapid wagon is down to his dad’s mechanic friend. “He was a Master Tech at BMW for over 30 years,” Shaun explains. “He would help fix our Volvos on the weekends. Every time I would see my father’s friend, he would be in the latest BMW and I fell in love with the brand at an early age.”

    With BMWs on the brain it’s no surprise that, after graduating and landing his first job as a stock broker, his thoughts turned to splashing out on an M3. “My senior broker kept talking about getting a new E92 M3 with his annual bonus cheque. Aspiring to be like him, I set my eyes on that same goal,” Shaun explains. In 2011 he bought himself a 2009 E92 M3 with 20k miles on the clock, in Space grey, with a six-speed manual gearbox. “I was so excited to get the car and achieve my goal that I ended up getting a pretty basic model with no EDC, and no M Drive. But I didn’t care, it had everything I needed: three pedals, Fox red seats, and a carbon roof! I was all set, or so I thought…”

    You see, it was the E92 M3 and its extensive aftermarket catalogue that introduced Shaun to modifying and, as he found, it was a very slippery slope. The final mods list for his M3 reads like your dream performance shopping list and highlights included: KW V3 coilovers; a custom 1M bumper; a carbon bonnet; BC Forged HB29 19s; and an ESS 625hp supercharger kit. So why on earth did he sell his fully modded, crazy-powerful M3? “I was undecided about what to do,” reveals Shaun. “I didn’t know whether to a) keep my E92 M3, which had grown to be an icon on the East Coast through Instagram and other social media or, b) part my car out/sell as is and get the new F series M car. At that point, I wasn’t entirely sold on getting a the new M car and it wasn’t until I raced against a few at MPact East 2015 and Slipstream RO2RO 2015 that I was sold!”

    A few weeks later the E92 was gone, sold to one of Shaun’s Instagram followers, and the hunt for a new car began. Shaun knew whatever car he got, it had to make a big impact: “I had a hard act to follow coming from my E92 M3 build so I decided to go big or go home: I made the decision to order an F80 M3. I ordered a Frozen blue metallic car with the six-speed manual and Sakhir orange seats. About three months into my six-month wait for the car, I got a call from my Customer Adviser stating that BMW had denied my individual colour choice. Saddened by this news, I was ready to pull the plug on my order. However, the wonderful service advisors at BMW North America really went above and beyond and, with three days left before the production of my vehicle, they sent me a list of over 200 BMW blues. In the end it came down to Macau blue or Avus blue. Both were colours that I had never seen in person, and both were colours that had not been done on the F80 M3 platform before. With the help of my close friend and fellow BMW enthusiast, Reggie, I decided on a classic BMW blue, and went with Avus. I was thrilled with how vibrant the colour turned out to be.”

    Having lost a 194hp moving from his supercharged E92 M3 to his factory-fresh F80 M3, it’s unsurprising that performance modifications were at the forefront of Shaun’s plans for his new build. “My plan was to beef-up the power output while not entering the detonation zone,” says Shaun. “I chose to go with Maximum PSI air intakes (custom painted Sakhir orange), RK Tunes three-piece charge pipes (also custom painted in Sakhir orange), RK Tunes cat-less downpipes, and an AWE Tuning nonresonated exhaust with the 102mm Black Diamond tips. For the tune, I went with a stack tune from DME Tuning and a Burger Motorsports JB4, so that I could really make the car a monster.

    “Because I had to wait six months for the car to arrive, I had the pleasure of amassing a plethora of parts in the meantime, so the engine build took me all of one day after my 1200-mile break-in service. The swap was done with the help of my mechanic, Angel Munoz, and painter Danny Hernandez in Philadelphia, PA.”

    The engine bay is really what sets Shaun’s M3 apart. Almost all engines these days are covered in swathes of black plastic and, being honest, we didn’t think there was anything that could be done to make the F8x M’s engine bay look interesting… but we were wrong. The combo of custom Sakhir pipes is stunning, transforming the S55 and making it look like the serious performance engine that it is. The addition of the Avus engine cover and gold detailing is inspired and the whole lot is topped-off by BMW’s carbon boomerang brace. And, as well as looking good, thanks to that comprehensive list of modifications this engine really delivers. It produces a massive 560whp, a huge gain over the stock power output, taking this M3 to the same sort of power level as his E92. However, according to Shaun the driving experience is very different. “It has more low end torque,” he says. “My E92 also had around 560-570whp but the way the F80 feels in comparison is night and day different. In the E92 you had to wind the engine up to around 4500rpm to start feeling the power but here the power comes on immediately; as soon as you step on the gas at around 2300-2500rpm you feel the torque and the power.”

    Picking out engine details in gold to match the wheels was inspired, as was the choice of wheels itself. Let’s be honest, you really can’t go wrong with HREs as they are among the top-tier wheels that money can buy, and they’d always been on Shaun’s shopping list. “For this build, I wanted to be the most noticeable F80 M3 in the game,” he says, “and I had always wanted a set of HRE wheels, the S101 model to be exact. I had the opportunity to pick a set up with brushed gold faces and polished lips. I knew that the gold against the Avus blue would really stand out.” It really is a killer colour combo and the style of the 20” S101s looks awesome on the M3, with the wide spokes allowing Shaun to show off his custompainted Sakhir orange calipers.

    But it’s not just the wheels, everything about this M3 looks so right. That’s thanks to the numerous styling touches he’s added. “The styling had to be classis #BMW , at least for this first iteration,” explains Shaun. “All the M3 badges were painted Avus blue while the front grilles were custom painted with Avus blue faces and gloss black sides. The side gills were touched with the same theme: Avus blue faces and gloss black sides. For the front of the car, I went with the BMW M Performance front lip and lower carbon splitters. I left the carbon alone and custom painted the polyurethane lip Avus blue and I custom painted the M Performance side skirts in Avus blue as well. For the headlights, BavGruppe in New York gave them a custom gloss black finish with M tricolour stripes. For the rear of the car, I went with the Mode Carbon F82 M4-style rear spoiler, and I went with the Vorsteiner rear diffuser. Again, this was all made possible by Danny Hernandez.

    “Finally, to protect the paint and all of the hard work we did with the colour matching, I had the whole car covered in Expel Tech paint protection film by Exclusive Vinyl in East Meadow, New York.”

    The styling is absolutely on point, all those details add up to make a big impact. It’s further helped by how well the cars sits over those HREs, with Shaun opting for the KW height adjustable spring kit, allowing him to retain the EDC whilst also giving him control over the ride height and letting him eliminate any unsightly arch gap in the process.

    If it looks good from the outside, you ain’t seen nothing yet because a vast amount of work has gone into making the interior as special as possible. “I wanted to do something to the interior that had not been done to an F8x model before,” says Shaun, “so, I reached out to the guys at ESH Upholstery in Maryland to help bring some ideas to life. With 1200 miles on the car, we pulled the dash, the door panels, the headlining, the A- and B-pillars, the rear deck shelf, the seat backs, the door pulls, the gear lever, and the handbrake gaiters out of the car. We went with a custom black Alcantara to cover all of these panels. For the dash we wanted to go for something eyecatching and one of a kind, so we went with M tricolour hand-stitching, which continues onto the door pulls. We also wrapped the seat backs in Sakhir orange BMW leather with Alcantara outer sections. All this was done in just 72 hours so the car would be ready for the Philadelphia Auto Show, where the car made its first East Coast show debut in the DUB show.” Considering how nice the stock interior is, the Alcantara has really taken the interior of this car to a whole new level of luxury.

    As far as we’re concerned, this M3 is pretty much perfect. Everything from that gorgeous colour to the additional aggression of the styling, the knock-out wheels, and that beautiful interior makes it impossible for us to tear our eyes away. That all this was accomplished in just two weeks is pretty mind-blowing, really. With this being such a fresh project, it’s no surprise when Shaun rattles off a list of money-no-object mods he now wants (“GTS Racing seats, upgraded turbos, air-ride…”). Neither do we raise an eyebrow when he says he’s already planning stage two. “As this show season is coming to an end, I am coming up with new tricks and ideas to kill the game next show season. Stay tuned to my Instagram (@M3NahRich) for more updates,” he grins. We will, because we can’t wait to see where this beast of a build is going next.

    DATA FILE #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F80 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #S55B30 , #Maximum-PSI intake, #RK-Tunes chargepipes and downpipes in #Sakhir orange, #Burger-Motorsports JB4, #DME-Tuning stack tune, #Avus blue engine cover with gold highlights, #AWE-Tuning non-resonated exhaust with 102mm black tips, six-speed manual ’box, UUC short-shifter

    POWER 560whp

    CHASSIS 9.5x20” ET20 (front) and 11x20” ET37 (rear) HRE S101 wheels with brushed light gold centres and polished lips with 265/30 (front) and 305/25 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, #KW H.A.S sleeve kit, custom painted Sakhir orange calipers

    EXTERIOR Full BMW M performance kit consisting of front carbon splitters, lower front lip, side skirts, all custom painted, M3 badges painted Avus blue, custom Avus blue and gloss black kidney grilles and side gills, BavGruppe custom headlights in gloss black with M tricolour stripes, Vorsteiner rear diffuser, Mode Carbon rear spoiler

    INTERIOR ESH Upholstery full Alcantara interior and M stitching including headlining, A- and B-pillars, door inserts, full dash, rear deck, door pulls, and gaiters, seat backs finished in Sakhir orange leather with Alcantara panels

    THANKS Danny Hernandez Paint Work, Angel Munoz Installation, Roman at Exclusive Vinyl, Alex at ESH Upholstery, Kourtney at Adam’s Polishes, Tom at BavGruppe, Mike Kuhn, Chad from Pristine Auto Leasing, Eric Keuhn, Reggie Balmir, and god

    “I wanted to be the most noticeable F80 M3 in the game”
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    Light Speed

    We get up close and personal with AC Schnitzer’s wildest creation, the absolutely stunning ACL2. #AC-Schnitzer-ACL2 . Hitting the road in this stunning 570hp M4-engined lightweight. AC Schnitzer’s bonkers ACL2 Geneva show star has been on a serious diet and packs an enhanced M4 punch – it’s an absolute belter Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.

    Wait for it, wait for it… I whiz past the derestriction sign on the Autobahn and can finally let Schnitzer’s latest, and perhaps wildest, creation off the leash. There’s torque in abundance from the tuned M4 motor but for maximum attack I really need to drop it down a cog or two to experience the full savagery of what this bespoke show car has to offer. At the same time as I grasp the stubby yet tactile gear knob the lumbering arctic that’s chugging along in the nearside lane somehow decides that the headlights spearing through the morning gloom aren’t moving that fast so he pulls out and indulges in some elephant racing with another truck for an absolute age.

    The quicker lorry seems to be moving with the speed of cold treacle but after what seems like an eon its millimetric progress is completed and I can finally hit the loud pedal. And loud it certainly is. I’m in third gear and as I plant the throttle pedal firmly into the carpet the rear end hunkers down as the nose rises a smidgen and all the hounds of the Baskervilles are unleashed somewhere back where the rear seats used to be and the ACL2 takes off like the proverbial bat out of hell.

    In what seems like a nanosecond I’m reaching for fourth and then fifth as the ACL2 gobbles up the horizon like the best Sunday lunch it’s ever experienced. The speedo needle seems to be heading round the dial at the same speed as the rev counter and our pace is only slowed again as another truck in the distance heaves its way into the outside lane to prevent further progress towards the ACL2’s quoted top speed of 330km/h – 205mph.

    The fact that the ACL2 is quick should really be a given – it has 570hp after all and has been on a pretty severe diet too – but what does surprise while I’m sitting at an enforced 100km/h behind the truck is quite how civilised it is. Yes, there is a pretty severe exhaust drone when sitting at a constant throttle at certain revs, but shifting up or down a cog soon gets rid of that. And then there’s the ride quality – this might have Schnitzer’s Clubsport suspension setup, but it’s by no means overly harsh… a little jiggly in places, but then this isn’t a 7 Series is it? No, this machine was designed to go fast, and preferably fast away from the Autobahn so after one further acceleration fest we turn off in search of some better driving roads.

    Naturally enough it’s the photography that comes first though so once we’ve found a location that’s to Smithy’s liking we let him get busy with the cameras while I chat to the Schnitzer chaps and delve a little bit further into the technology underneath the ACL2. Schnitzer has a long tradition of making some pretty stunning show cars – the CLS (lightweight tuned E36 M3), the CLS II (ditto but based on the E36 Evo), the V8 Roadster (a Z3 complete with 4.4-litre V8), the Topster (an E39 M5-engined Z4)… there are plenty more in the company’s archives but this year the company wanted to go all-out and produce a machine for Geneva that would put the new M2 in the shade and really stand out from the crowd.

    No doubt life would have been very much easier for the company had it revealed the ACL2 a few months down the line as it could have used the M2 as the basis for its conversion, but if the car was to be ready for Geneva an M235i would have to be used as the donor car. The aim was to produce a car with plenty of power, but one which had also lost some of its excess fat too. One of AC Schnitzer’s tuning mantras is ‘less is more’ so putting the M235i on a diet was a must and while tuning the M235i’s 326hp was certainly possible it wasn’t going to produce the results Schnitzer wanted for the car so an engine swap was on the cards, too.

    Thus out went the N55 straight-six to be replaced by the altogether rortier S55 from the M4, but even with 431hp the M4’s lump needed some further fettling to reach the sort of power-to-weight ratio that Schnitzer craved. The intake system was optimised and clad in sexy carbon while a Schnitzer exhaust with sports cats and a certain amount of electronic jiggery pokery soon released the engine’s potential to give 570hp at 6100rpm and a monstrous 546lb ft of torque at 3500rpm. Healthy gains I think you’ll agree and when combined with the M235i’s diet programme the ACL2 now has a better power-to-weight ratio than an M4 GTS and a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. No surprise, then, that it’ll knock off the 0-62mph sprint in 3.9 seconds and will accelerate from rest to 125mph in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 10.9 seconds.

    In order to ensure that all this power can be safely transmitted to the road Schnitzer elected to fit the front and rear axles from the M4 to the M235i and the wider track necessitated the fitment of the front and rear wheel arch extensions, along with the more aggressive front spoiler assembly and a gorgeous carbon rear diffuser. Schnitzer elected to paint the whole car in what it describes as ‘Classic Racing Green’ and the colour’s a nod back to the company’s past as the CLS II was painted in a similar hue. In an ideal world it would have liked to have called the ACL2 the CLS III, but another German manufacturer now owns the rights to the CLS moniker…

    Personally I’m not a huge fan of the rear wing – I must admit I don’t like the BMW one on the M4 GTS either – aesthetically I’d much rather see a ducktail item a la M3 CSL, but given the speeds this Schnitzer machine is capable of I can see that you’d want to ensure a decent amount of downforce at over 200mph. There are liberal doses of carbon littering the exterior of the car and there are some neat touches such as the new LED indicators housed under Schnitzer’s new side gills. The bonnet itself is carbon fibre to reduce weight.

    Externally there’s no getting away from the lightweight forged AC1 alloy wheels with their bright orange/polished finish – I wasn’t quite sure on the finish in the harsh light of the Geneva show halls, but now seeing them out in the open I think the colour scheme actually works rather well. They are 10x20-inch all round and shod with 285/25 ZR20 Michelin Pilot Super Sports – only the best for Schnitzer’s pocket rocket. Nestling behind the rims are a set of monster brakes – carbon ceramics measuring 400x38mm at the front and 380x28mm at the rear. If those measurements sound familiar that’s because these discs are also donated by the M4, although Schnitzer has changed the yellow six-and four-pot callipers to black.

    It wouldn’t be a proper show car if the interior hadn’t been upgraded and Schnitzer has really gone to town with the ACL2 – it’s a wonderful place to spend wheel time. The heavy standard M235i seats have been dropped in favour of a pair of carbonshelled racing buckets that have been exquisitely trimmed in green and black Nappa leather while the door trim panels have been clad in black suede with contrast green stitching. The dash highlights have been picked out in green as have the steering wheel inserts, and the actual wheel is a Schnitzer ‘Evo’ item. One of the dash vents has been replaced by an Awron digital screen that displays all sorts of data from peak power and torque to temperatures to boost levels and so on. It doesn’t do all that much when stationary which leads to all sorts of hilarity when I later ask Smithy to get a picture of it with some high outputs displayed. Apparently trying to point a Nikon with a big lens at a particular part of the dash while going for a full bore standing start isn’t all that easy!

    Elsewhere inside, the rear seats have been ditched and the remaining platform has been neatly carpeted, again in the interest of saving weight, and there are a few Schnitzer goodies around the cabin such as a pedal set, handbrake handle and aluminium ‘Black Line’ gear knob. The handbrake and gear lever gaiters are trimmed in the same suede as the door trim panels and the overall effect is pretty stunning. It does get a little warm though as the air conditioning has also been ditched in favour of saving weight.

    Eventually Smithy’s finished with the static pictures and I linger a last few moments drinking in the underbonnet detailing which is lovely, with beautifully finished carbon fibre and a smattering of green on top of the air intake. I gingerly close the bonnet, taking care of that one-off piece of carbon fibre and once again slip behind the wheel to find out how well this rocket ship performs away from the motorway.

    Once the car-to-car photography is complete it’s time for some serious action. Just starting the ACL2 for the first time really gets one’s automotive juices flowing as the exhaust sounds seriously aggressive and at idle it’s a bass-heavy rumble that would make your neighbours go off you very rapidly indeed. At slower speeds it’s relatively muted, but hit that Drive Performance Control switch into Sport mode and put the hammer down and all hell breaks loose. It sounds very, very angry – in a good way – and the harder you push the car the more spine-tingling the exhaust note becomes. It dominates proceedings, bellowing its approval as you run up and down through the gearbox, eliciting a veritable barrage of pops and bangs every time you change gear. It almost wouldn’t matter if it turned out the ACL2 handled like a skateboard on an ice rink, such is the aural delight developed by Schnitzer’s work.

    Fortunately though there’s more to this car than a very noisy set of quad pipes as the harder I push it the better the car responds. In the back of my mind is the fact that this is a very expensive one-off creation and while it would be easy to hide it in the green grass that’s surrounding our chosen section of road I don’t think Schnitzer’s top brass would be too impressed. The roads are smooth and well-surfaced though and the corners are relatively well sighted and the ACL2 devours them with real verve. I’m pleased for the tight-fitting bucket seats when I begin to tackle the corners with vigour. There’s plenty of feel coming through my fingertips translating what’s going on with the front wheels while the tight seat allows you to get a real idea of what the chassis is doing too. Given the monster rubber, the dry conditions and the Drexler limited-slip differential Schnitzer’s fitted there are staggeringly high levels of grip on offer, but accelerating away from a standstill in a straight line demonstrates that the ACL2 will certainly break traction more or less whenever you want it to.

    In deference to the one-off nature of this machine I’m not going to go all gung ho and attempt on the lock stops drifting for the camera, but with the traction control in its halfway house there’s enough movement from the rear to get a feel for what a well-balanced and poised machine this really is. It might have a sledgehammer under the bonnet but there’s a delicacy to its responses to small inputs that’s most gratifying.

    Then there’s the fact that everything that’s supposed to work, works properly. The M4 engine in the car was originally mated to an M DCT ‘box but for the ACL2 Schnitzer wanted to fit a manual as it weighs less than the DCT and also represents the ultimate driver’s spec. Getting the new manual to talk to the various control units was a bit of nightmare but Schnitzer has done such a good job that even the blipping of the throttle on down changes works as seamlessly as it does in a standard M4.

    If you stop driving like a loon it’s also surprisingly easy to pilot the ACL2 along – the controls are perfectly weighted and the throttle response is exemplary, with minimal inputs offering the appropriate gentle acceleration. At the other end of the spectrum, large doses of throttle induce the sort of grin that becomes painful after a few minutes. As a way to have fun the ACL2 really can’t have many, if any, peers.

    All good things come to an end though and before too long it’s time to head back to Schnitzer’s Aachen HQ. Time for one last acceleration-fest as we blast past the lorries that thankfully stay in their correct lane and once again I’m blown away with the massive levels of acceleration as well as the high-speed stability that’s on offer. On the odd occasion that a slower machine does wander into my path those carbon ceramic stoppers wash off excess speed with alacrity and all the while that monster exhaust rises and falls in timbre, signalling its approval at giving it a proper work out.

    The styling might not be to everyone’s taste, but you really can’t criticise the engineering integrity that’s gone into this Schnitzer project car. As a light weight concept that goes like lightning it’s the real deal. The only question that remains is how to persuade Schnitzer to build another one for my collection…

    AC Schnitzer UK
    Tel: 01485 542000
    AC Schnitzer Germany
    Tel: +49 (0)241 56 88 130

    / #2016 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACL2 / #S55-AC-Schnitzer / #S55 / #BMW-S55 / #AC-Schnitzer / #Drexler / #BMW-M2 / #BMW-M2-F87 / #BMW-M2-AC-Schnitzer-F87 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACL2-F87 / #BMW-M2-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-F87 / #BMW-F22 / #2016 / #BMW

    ENGINE: Replacement of the standard M235i engine with M4’s S55 with AC Schnitzer performance upgrade, speed limiter removed by programming of the control unit, optimised carbon air intake
    MAX POWER: 570hp @ 6100rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 546lb ft (750Nm) @ 3500rpm
    0-62MPH: 3.9 seconds
    0-125MPH: 205mph (330km/h)
    DRIVETRAIN: Six-speed manual gearbox, AC Schnitzer/Drexler limited-slip differential with 25-95 per cent locking
    EXHAUST: AC Schnitzer downpipe, AC Schnitzer sports silencer system with special catalyst (200 cell), AC Schnitzer ‘Racing Evo Carbon’ tail trims
    BRAKES: Front: six-piston callipers, carbon ceramic brake discs in 400x38mm diameter (perforated). Rear: fourpiston callipers, carbon ceramic brake discs in 380x28mm diameter (perforated)
    SUSPENSION: Exchange of the standard axles with M4 items, AC Schnitzer Clubsport suspension, height adjustable and adjustable in compression and rebound, M4 carbon strut brace
    WHEEL SET: AC Schnitzer lightweight forged wheels in AC1 bicolour – red anodised/polished. Front & rear: 10x20-inch with 285/25 ZR 20 Michelin PSS tyres
    AERODYNAMICS AC Schnitzer special paint – Classic Racing Green, AC Schnitzer carbon bonnet with bonnet vents (black), AC Schnitzer front skirt with carbon front spoiler elements, front splitter and carbon front side wings (two each side), AC Schnitzer special sports mirrors, AC Schnitzer carbon rear diffuser, AC Schnitzer carbon rear wing, AC Schnitzer front and rear wheel arch extensions (70 mm wider each side)
    INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer bicolour leather interior: green and perforated Nappa leather in combination with black suede leather with green stitching, interior panels painted matt in Classic Racing Green, rear seats removed, AC Schnitzer carbon racing seats bicolour with black/green nappa leather and leather in carbon design with ACL2 emblems, AC Schnitzer three-spoke sports airbag steering wheel ‘Evo’ with Nappa and perforated leather and green suede, carbon door handles and center console, AC Schnitzer control display for oil temperature, intake air temperature and boost pressure etc, AC Schnitzer aluminium pedals, footrest, gear knob and handbrake handle.
    WEIGHT: 1450kg
    PRICE: Concept only – not for sale

    The rear end hunkers down as the nose rises a smidgen and all the hounds of the Baskervilles are unleashed.
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