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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: www.3ddesign.jp

    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

    MODIFICATIONS

    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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    SHARK TALE FERROCIOUS M4 F82 Super aggressive 500hp Laguna Seca #BMW-F82 . This aggressive M4 is an apex predator on the streets. How do you turn an F82 M4 into a shark? You paint it blue and make it really, really angry… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Jimmy LoBiondo. #BMW-4-Series

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    THANKS Tommy, Jimmy, Sam, Sean, Andre and the rest of the gang at #AutoCouture , to Nate and Andrew from iND Distribution, and to James Fleming at Classic #BMW
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  • Post is under moderation
    Evolutionary Thinking / #2015 / #BMW

    Which is the better M3 Saloon, the older V8-engined E90 or the all-new turbocharged #BMW-F80 ? It’s the M4 Coupé that seems to have grabbed all the press coverage so we’ve pitched the F80 M3 Saloon up against its illustrious #BMW-E90 / #BMW-M3 predecessor. Words and photography: Mark Williams.


    Evolution generally dictates that new should be better than old. That which succeeds what went before represents an overall increment, an improvement on what was thought, at the time, to be the latest and greatest example of its type. Buildings, computers, smart phones; each iteration builds on the technology, methods and approaches deployed by their predecessor to achieve greatness. And nowhere is this insatiable urge to improve more visible than with the cars we choose to drive.


    But is new always better? And is it possible to answer that question objectively, and not open up the minefield which is subjective thoughts on design or engineering principles? Thanks to some judicious timing, I was recently able to appraise the new F80 M3 against the context of the E90 version which has just ceased production. It isn’t a direct back-to-back comparison (hence the different backgrounds in the pics), but considering that all that separated the two drives was a single night’s sleep and some Sunday evening telly, the resultant impressions are still perfectly valid. And in case you’re wondering, the reason I didn’t drive the M4 variant was not because I don’t approve of the name or any of that nonsense. Rather, I was keen to try the M3 because the media world and his wife appear to have focussed only on the M4 and the saloon version has received relatively little press.


    F80 first then, because the E90 won’t be available until Monday and it’s a warm and sunny early Saturday afternoon when I’m greeted by the rich red leather of the M3’s cabin. It’s not quite blood red, thankfully being slightly higher in tone than that, and I’m always cautious of looking after red leather correctly otherwise it ages poorly, but on first acquaintance it certainly strikes a ‘no nonsense’ tone.

    As does the carbon trim, and combined they do enough to lift the interior above the level of the cooking models. The seats don’t have thigh support extensions though, which is bizarre, but they do have illuminated ‘M’ badges in the seat backs for a little extra night time tinsel, and whatever you think of that idea I can confirm they look seriously cool once darkness falls. Then you spot the side bolstering and those ‘no nonsense’ feelings start to ebb back in.

    And that impression doesn’t really fade much during the early miles. From the orchestral start up procedure through to the coughs and spits of the exhaust and the shunting of the drivetrain which makes me wonder whether a rebodied Nissan GT-R actually resides underneath me, the M3 states its case and clarifies its purpose right from the off. We’re on our way to Rugby, traversing the A423 which later morphs into the A426 and which runs roughly north east from Banbury, out into Warwickshire, and the M3 is a delightful companion along here and when driven with purpose. Muscular and musical lower down (we’ll address the noise specifically in a moment) and increasingly bombastic as the revs rise, we scamper along, dispatching slower fare with laughable ease.


    Villages slow our progress, which wouldn’t be so much of an issue ordinarily, but the M3 dialled back to town speeds suddenly feels hemmed in and one has to start pressing buttons in order to relax the tension you wound into the chassis and drivetrain along the blacktop which brought you here. This is where the M1 and M2 mode buttons come into their own of course, as one is able to pick-n-mix individual settings for suspension, throttle response and steering weight, which sounds ideal. However, as yet another pothole signals the arrival of a set of lights and the sensitive throttle launches us across the intersection upon the green signal, I do find myself briefly wondering whether a good passive setup which strikes an ideal balance all the time would be more preferable.

    I’m being slightly melodramatic I suppose, but nevertheless there is a feeling evident here which also struck me about the M135i when I drove that a year or so ago. Drive like a man possessed and it makes perfect sense, but for the day-to-day a feeling grows that the latent energy available here is being utterly wasted.

    None of this matters when you wind it up though and let’s face facts, most of the appeal of cars like this is precisely because they have great untapped reserves of gusto, and if the price for that are some minor histrionics around town then so what. So click the left paddle once or maybe twice, and chase the throttle. And now hear the noise. It doesn’t build; it’s suddenly there. Augmented and slightly binary, yes.

    But also all-enveloping and crucially, as will become apparent when we sample the E90 the following day, available immediately as the revs pick up and not only when the motor climbs on cam. The bottom line is you get more of what you want, what you paid for, what you demand, more of the time. And with Sport engaged, and the two-stage flaps in the exhaust opened, you’re treated to an intoxicating mix of blower whine from up front, coupled to sampled intake and combustion noises washing around the cabin and topped off with proper exhaust noise from the rear. It sounds glorious. It’s been described elsewhere as being industrial but that’s nonsense and a luddite’s view.

    So with a feeling that a passing satellite has hooked the front, you disappear up the road in a flurry of road debris and exhaust roar. Go for the paddles and the whole process starts again. The M3 goes feral, the noise hardens and the blown six seems to kick again. Each change results in a thud through the drivetrain and an explosive report from the exhausts which makes me later wonder how the mechanics of these things will age. Out of respect for this car’s minimal mileage, plus my licence, I decide to back off at this point and attempt to process what this thing is capable off. No time for that though as there’s a corner suddenly approaching…


    It’s gone in an instant, the M3 tracking through the apex and out the other side, and now another is rushing at us through the windscreen. My wife, now clearly aware of what I’m up to, has placed her mobile phone in her lap and grabbed hold of the armrest just that little bit tighter as the M3 loads up under braking. Turn in, sense the total conviction at the front end, the absence of understeer and pick up the throttle. The weight shifts to the rear and the steering seems to want to unload, so dig further into the throttle and sense the balance settle further across the chassis, then diagonally to the outside rear.


    The M3 is loaded up now, and split second decisions are needed in terms of which subconscious option you select. Back off at this point and the door closes on the weight transfer, sending the tail-light and the electronics to intervene to keep you honest. Get out of the throttle by relaxing your toe pressure though and the chassis works each outside tyre equally, digging into the Tarmac and howling through the curve in spectacular fashion. But this is an M3, and those engineers know their onions, so with the chassis already loaded you ask the engine for a little more, and at this point you enter the zone where the M3 truly excels. In an instant (and it really is a heartbeat), grip is defeated, and whilst the weight transfer is still there driving you forward, the M3 is loose. But the front is still with you, it’s not gone AWOL, and whilst I won’t claim the steering maintains a constant dialogue, neither does it suddenly gain unhelpful weight or inconsistent speed. So with eyes locked on to a spot through the side window and just above the wing mirror, you instinctively relax your grip on that loaded column and the wheel quarter-locks itself in the opposite direction. Grab a hold, steady the throttle, and you’re broadside through the turn, my wife wondering what on earth she has done to deserve this and only now does my daughter look up from the iPad, wondering what’s going on. The apex zips past the nearside windows and with a steady throttle I manually offload the lock before we disappear up the road and into the morning.

    In the dry, this thing covers the ground at a frankly astonishing lick, but at that moment when the drivetrain is fully loaded and the blowers are fully lit, the chassis alights on your shoulder like the proverbial devil and goes ‘here fella, what do you want to do now?’. That moment feels like something you would only want to succumb to provided the wipers weren’t operating. You can trust the M3, and the combination of power, poise and phenomenal braking once you’ve pushed through a soft-ish spot at the top of the travel ensures that every drive is an event. And whilst we’re talking about the brakes, you really don’t need the carbon ceramics unless you particularly want or need to spend thousands extra. But that moment where the chassis switches its balance, you’d have to be very good to smile back at the devil on your shoulder and go ‘yeah, go on then’.


    Next morning, the E90 presents itself as a slightly more subdued proposition, both in terms of the bassy exhaust note and the relative lack of body agenda. Inside it’s clearly a generation removed and it seems an awfully lot more smaller in here, too. Outside it really doesn’t seem to have aged very much to my eyes but here’s the thing; where’s the noise? I’m having to wind it up in order to please the ears and the simple truth takes us back to that allenveloping comment of driving the F80. The E90 wants you to wind it up before it really hands over the goods. And that’s all very well, but I’m not convinced that I need to drive everywhere with the throttle nailed to the bulkhead before I feel that I’m achieving something. And the last time I checked, neither are the police. Overall it sounds the business of course, it’s a normally aspirated V8 when all said and done (and not a flat-plane crank either, something I’ve never quite connected with). But whereas the F80 was giving you early-doors on the noise front, the E90 is waiting until closing time comes calling at 4k or higher before it sounds like it’s really trying. When it does arrive, you’re greeted by a delightful, hollow, titanium raspy sound. I just wish it was there more of the time.


    Still, it goes well enough of course, and there’s the same unflappable feel to the front end in the corners. But the absence of turbocharged torque results in a chassis which is not quite straining at the leash to the same degree, so the feeling that one is glancing over the edge and into the abyss at the first sign of moisture from the sky isn’t evident. And that’s a good thing. But now I seem to be pushing the throttle to the carpet in order to make the thing go, and I suppose that’s a bad thing. It’s also the price of progress, or evolution, which is where we came in.

    At least the years of evolution in between haven’t apparently had much effect on its mechanicals – 35k miles have passed beneath those wheels, but you’d be hard pressed to tell from the driving experience alone, which if nothing else I guess suggests that the F80’s mechanicals will age just fine. If you can’t stretch to the circa £60k you need for modern day M3 ownership, then the £28k or so James Paul is asking for this example is a fine compromise.

    Ultimately, new wins over old for me (I go over both cars in more detail in a video review on my Quently Bentin YouTube channel, so please pop over and have a look). I’ll therefore take the F80. I actually prefer the noise it makes to the E90. I like that the noise is there more of the time, and that I can work less in order to extract it. I like the slightly dark side to its character, the suggestion of malevolence to the way it goes down the road, the suggestion that the car is secretly hoping for rain in order to reach for that pitch fork and stoke the fires. Frustration at operating at third-throttle may dog it wherever it goes, but the new M3 is magnificent, and the master of the E90. And evolution has its toughest job yet when the time comes to replace it.

    THANKS TO: James Paul
    Tel: 01403 823723 / Web: www.jamespaul.co.uk
    North Oxford BMW / Tel: 01865 319000 / Web: www.oxfordbmw.co.uk

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-M3-DCT-F80 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW-M3-DCT
    ENGINE: Straight-six, twin turbo / #S55B30T0 / #S55B30 / #S55 /
    CAPACITY: 2979cc
    MAX POWER: 431hp @ 5500-7300rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 406lb ft @ 1850-5500rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.1 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph
    ECONOMY: 34mpg
    ECONOMY ON TEST: 21.8mpg
    EMISSIONS: 194g/km
    PRICE (OTR): £59,090


    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-M3-DCT-E90 / / #BMW-M3-E90
    ENGINE: V8, naturally aspirated / #S65B40 / #S65 /
    CAPACITY: 3999cc
    MAX POWER: 420hp @ 8300rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 295lb ft @ 3900rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.7 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph
    ECONOMY: 25.2mpg
    ECONOMY ON TEST: 18mpg
    EMISSIONS: 263g/km
    PRICE (OTR): £51,805 (2010)
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