- Post is under moderationWILD 600HP E36 Elite D’s turbo’d 3 Series
This Elite Developments 600hp E36 is the result of years of development and a love for all things turbocharged… Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Steve Hall.
Elite Developments’ turbo E36
THE BOOSTED ELITE
The E36 328i Sport is a car that’s been appreciating in value of late. However, six years ago they didn’t quite have the same worth and so made the perfect project base for Steve Dixon, owner of BMW-specialised tuning shop Elite Developments. Steve’s plans soon escalated from a simple reworking to a complete overhaul, complete with a 600hp turbocharged heart…
“I bought the car off eBay completely unseen. It was down in Bognor Regis,” Steve explains. “At the time it was really difficult to get a 328i Sport as there wasn’t many of them for sale. I contacted the guy and made him an offer based on his description of the condition and the pictures on eBay. I then took a four-hour train journey from Essex to go and get it. It was a completely mint, standard car, as described. I was looking for one to convert into a drift car.
“Initially my plans were just to weld the diff and put some coilovers on it, and that was it. I fitted the coils while my mate welded the diff. It was just going to be a daily drifter but then we went to Gatebil 2012 and saw that nearly every BMW there was running a turbo M5x engine. That got me thinking…
“After speaking to a few of the locals about how they’d done it, I came to the realisation that building a turbo #BMW wasn’t as hard as I first thought. Then came the process of pricing up all the bits I needed.”
The 328’s alloy-block M52 isn’t the perfect base for turbocharging as they tend to allow the head to lift and generally aren’t as strong as iron block variants, so Steve sourced an #M50B25-non-Vanos engine and set about making a hybrid of the two. This meant using the M50 block, head and pistons but with the M52’s crank and rods, creating a 2.8-litre M50 – an ‘M50B28’ as they’re often known. The bottom end was tied together with coated big-end bearings and ARP bolts, with #ARP studs and a Cometic 0.140” multi-layer steel head gasket used up top for a drop in compression and an increase in reliability.
The end result is an engine about as strong as it’s possible to get without going for fullon aftermarket forged rods and pistons – perfect for Steve’s plans for big boost.
“The hardest part was trying to source a right-hand drive turbo manifold as nobody seemed to sell one,” Steve explains. “This is why we started to design what is now the Elite Developments cast RHD turbo manifold. It took three years to create but we are now very happy with the final product.”
The Elite Developments manifold was formulated to fit all M5x engines that use a four-bolt-per-cylinder pattern, fitting around all of the steering and usual headache areas and allowing bottom-mount fitment of any T3-flanged turbo along with an external wastegate. Steve’s particular setup uses a Garrett GT3582R turbo and a Tial 38mm wastegate, pushing boost through a 600x300x80mm intercooler and into the M50 intake manifold.
Air is sucked into the turbo through a K&N filter, while fuelling is taken care of with Siemens 60lb injectors and a Walbro 255lph pump. To keep oil temperatures in check, Steve’s used an S50 oil filter housing converted to run AN lines, which are linked to a Mocal oil cooler. A neat product from Elite Developments allowed the intercooler and oil cooler to be bolted into the E36’s front end without any troubles. To control the whole thing Steve’s used a VEMs standalone ECU with the result being a dyno-proven 495hp and 480lb ft at 0.8bar. Steve has since had it mapped to run at 1.5bar which should be good enough for around 600hp.
All that power is well and good but without being able to transmit it to the ground, it’s useless. Steve retained the strong five-speed ZF gearbox that came with the 328i, with a six-paddle ceramic clutch sandwiched between it and the boosted M50. Out back is a 328i Sport 2.93 LSD, rebuilt for a 40% lockup and braced into position to guard against failure.
The final step of getting power to the ground is, of course, the wheel and tyre setup. The E36 isn’t always the easiest car to get a wide tyre onto but Steve solved that with a set of ABS plastic rivet-on arches from US firm Hard Motorsport. These have allowed the comfortable fitment of 8.5x18” front and 10x18” rear Rota Grids wrapped in grippy 235/40 and 265/35 Yokohama Advan AD08s respectively. Not only do they look great but they enable fast progress when the M50 comes up on boost. The arches offer a rub-free fit, too.
The chassis setup has seen plenty of work to get it all working happily, both when travelling in a straight line and sideways. Before anything was bolted underneath it Steve took care of the usual E36 weak spots using parts raided from the Elite Developments stock room. Subframe mounting and trailing arm pocket reinforcement plates were welded into the shell, with the front crossmember reinforced to stop the engine mounts tearing themselves free.
To get the steering lock that Steve needed for drifting, TND extended lower arms and modified hubs were fitted, along with BC Racing coilovers and an E46 330i brake setup. At the rear Steve used BC Racing again to convert the suspension from a shock and spring setup to a true coilover one, adding adjustable camber arms to get the setup dialled-in. Finally the whole lot has been polybushed and Steve’s added a BMW front lower crossbrace as well as GCFabrications front and rear strut braces to stiffen the shell.
Another element that adds stiffness is the Safety Devices roll-cage, nicely painted in contrasting Porsche GT3 RS green – aside from that the interior doesn’t contain a great deal as weight reduction has been the main aim. The rear firewall has been nicely blocked off with an Elite Developments plate and there’s a supportive Recaro bucket for the driver, complete with four-point harness.
Recent additions to the exterior have included a genuine Rieger carbon-fibre GT splitter and a new Elite Developments product: a huge rear wing. However, sadly, since our shoot Steve has actually broken the car for parts, moving his M50 turbo experience onto a cool new project – a Techno violet E34 525i.
Steve’s E36 goes to show that we can all get carried away – even the simplest intentions can turn into a far bigger project than originally planned, especially with a little inspiration from overseas. It also shows how experiencing a problem can turn up a great solution – Elite Developments’ turbo manifolds have now been selling for almost a year, helping RHD BMW drivers all over the UK solve the somewhat historic issue of steering clearance when running a turbo. From a hardcore E36 drifter Steve’s now looking to add some turbocharged flair to his old-school Five, and we can’t want to see what happens next.
“We saw that nearly every BMW there was running a turbo M5x engine. That got me thinking”
DATA FILE / #BMW-Elite-Developments / #BMW-E36 / #BMW / #BMW-E36-Elite-Developments / #BMW-328i-Sport / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-328i-Sport-E36 / / #BMW-328i-Elite-Developments / #Elite-Developments / #BMW-328i-Elite-Developments-E36 / #Rota-Grid / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E36
ENGINE ‘ #M50B28 ’ #non-Vanos , #M50B25 block and head, #M52B28 / #M50 / #BMW-M50 crankshaft and con rods, M50B25 pistons, performance coated main bearings, performance coated big-end bearings, ARP rod bolts, #ARP head studs, #Cometic 0.140” MLS head gasket, Elite Developments RHD turbo manifold, #Garrett-GT3582R turbo, #Tial 38mm wastegate, #K&N filter with #GCFabrications heat shield, ram air feed from foglight, AC #Schnitzer exhaust, #Siemens 60lb injectors, #Walbro 255lph fuel pump, #VEMS-ECU , Mocal oil cooler with AN lines, S50 oil filter housing, #Vorschlag nylon competition engine mounts
TRANSMISSION E36 328i five-speed #ZF-manual-gearbox , six-paddle ceramic clutch, Elite Developments bolt-through polyurethane gearbox mounts, #IRP shifter, 328i Sport 2.93:1 LSD fully rebuilt with 40% lockup, diff brace
CHASSIS 18x8.5” (front) and 18x10” (rear) #Rota-Grid-Drifts with 235/40 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Advan Neova AD08 tyres, Elite Developments wheel stud conversion, full #BC-Racing coilover setup with 12kg front and 8kg rear spring rates, TND modified hubs for extra lock, TND extended lower arms, adjustable camber arms, polybushed throughout, Elite Developments front subframe reinforcement kit, Elite Developments rear subframe reinforcement kit, Elite Developments rear trailing arm reinforcement kit, Elite Developments rear topmount reinforcement kit, #BMW-Motorsport front crossbrace, #GC-Fabrications front and rear strut braces, E46 330i front brakes, E36 M3 Evo brake servo and master cylinder
EXTERIOR Rieger carbon fibre GT splitter, Hard Motorsport rivet-on wide arches, Elite Developments rear spoiler, foglight air intake
INTERIOR Safety Devices roll-cage painted in Porsche GT3 RS green, Elite Developments rear firewall block-off plate, Recaro driver’s seat, AEM wideband AFR gauge, Defi boost gauge
CONTACT www.elite-d.co.ukStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation
An awesome E46 323i four-door packing a #BBK , carbon goodies and #Schnitzer styling galore. At a loss how to modify your four-door E46? Let Alan Lam and #AC-Schnitzer show you how. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Matt Barnes.
There are some BMWs that effortlessly ooze class. These are the cars that when cruising past, you stare longingly at, not because they’re intrusively loud or garishly decorated, but because they’ve been beautifully and thoughtfully modified. Money’s been thrown in all the right places, and the owner has insisted on the best to make his ride become even more of a rewarding driving machine and easier on the eye.
With BMW’s current 3 Series, most choose the Coupé variant as the base for modifying work. And who can blame them? The two-door is indeed a design marvel in terms of beauty and desirability, so it’s an ideal starting block. Those with the saloon version are presented with more of a modifying challenge. It’s by no means an ugly car, but a little more thought has to go into how to bring the best out of the practical four-door. Looking at Alan Lam’s ’00 323i, we think he’s pretty much cracked it.
The native New Yorker is by all accounts one of the most enthusiastic BMW modifiers we’ve ever met – you’d be lucky to find anyone more knowledgeable and helpful about what it takes to make these cars a pleasure to look at and drive. So it’s no surprise to discover the sheer amount of work put into turning his Orient blue 323i into the feature car we have here today.
Alan’s love affair with the marque goes back to his high school days, where the E36 M3 was his dream car. “It was only after BMW released the pictures of the new E46 I knew I had to get one, though,” he told us. “My first BMW was therefore delivered in December ’99, and it was used as my daily driver to school and work, so modifications were kept at a minimum and nothing major was planned.”
And how many times have we heard that? It seems Alan started customising the little things, beginning with OEM clear lights all round, and realised there was no way of stopping. The bug had bitten. Before long a Supersprint exhaust and ECIS cold air intake found their way onto the car, and the results were addictive.
“The E46 was too quiet,” Alan said, “especially driving a manual. You want to hear the engine to let you know when to shift. The exhaust and cold air intake made a dramatic difference in the car’s performance and fun factor, and I found myself blipping the throttle downshifting just to hear the lovely sound the engine now made. I even had the front and rear resonators removed to make it even louder and deeper, and it now sounds just like a stock E36 M3.”
As you can tell from the photos, however, these mods were just the beginning. Alan discovered Dtmpower.net, Bimmervibe.com and E46fanatics.com on the Internet, and these forums opened up a whole new world of potential tuning ideas. “I found myself browsing on it all day and night learning more about what I could do to the car,” the 26-year-old IS administrator said. Inevitably he met up with like-minded enthusiasts, and knew he wanted more from his car. A lot more.
Having an overall gameplan is an absolute necessity if you’re modifying to attain a certain look. It’s best to gain inspiration from others, see what there is on the market you think works best, and add your own personal touches. Alan can’t be faulted for his choice of AC Schnitzer styling; a brand, he tells us, he chose due to its racing heritage and reputation as the most widely respected BMW tuner in the world. We’re not about to disagree.
“I wanted my car to be a Schnitzer car,” he said. “First thing was ordering a full Schnitzer body kit along with a set of 18” rims. I didn’t like the rear spoilers offered by Schnitzer so I decided to go with a Racing Dynamics one instead.” Also at this time, Eibach springs and BogeSachs BMW sport shocks tightened everything up, while a modern styling touch in the shape of xenon front lights courtesy of bekkers.com found their way on. With Hamann eyebrows and shadow grilles added as well, Alan had reached the end of the second stage of modifying. Once again he was satisfied with the car’s look, so you’d have thought he’d have stopped here. No way.
Styling is one thing, but finding more power really is best for putting a smile on your face. “There were virtually no turbo kits available,” said Alan, “nor any reliable supercharger kits making any decent power at the time. Instead, Rogue Engineering had connections with an excellent BMW technician who was able to do some motor work for me. I got hold of Schrick cams, Jim Conforti Shark Injector software and ended up swapping my ECIS intake in favour of a beautiful Gruppe M carbon fibre unit.” Good choice.
Soon after, Alan was collecting a first place trophy in the Mild category at Bimmerfest East, and was recruited by TWCompetition. Things were looking up, and so were the planned mods to his 323i. These final mods are basically the look the car sports in the photos, and the sheer amount and quality of work is commendable. Nineteen-inch HRE wheels were custom made by Peter Lee at wheelexperts.com, while the suspension was swapped for H&R coilovers set at maximum drop for the rear and about 90% at the front. That’s seriously low. Riding that close to the tarmac has obvious drawbacks, so, in Alan’s own words, “to help scan the crappy New York roads rolling on big 19s, I swapped the standard halogen foglights for 5300K xenons.”
Nestled behind those beautiful custom wheels are some serious anchors, 320mm up front courtesy of Brembo, with a Rogue Engineering/Porsche 329mm hybrid setup at the rear. Alan assures us at the time this was done, no other E46 had both front and rear big brakes. Ever the groundbreaker, with the front bumper sporting an Schnitzer add-on becoming more common, Alan changed his for an OEM E46 M3 bumper. With this being almost 2” wider than the 323i item on each side, Ultimate Collision had a hell of a task making it fit, but have certainly excelled themselves with the finish. The addition of a new Schnitzer carbon fibre splitter completes the very tasty new look. Soon after, Schnitzer was called upon again to provide an M3 racing spoiler, a truly unique look for a saloon car.
Then there’s the final hurrah. If you put a carbon fibre bonnet on the wrong car it’s an expensive mistake, but on Alan’s modified E46 323i it’s a revelation. It blends in nicely with the Orient paint, and completes what is a stunning four-door.
Standing back to admire it, the final look is a thing of beauty. The custom front bumper, the large but tasteful rear wing, the huge brakes primed for action behind the flawless, polished alloys. It may be a four door, but how many coupés look this desirable? Alan tells us he knows of no other saloon in the US with this look, but we’re hoping many will take inspiration from him to create something even half as nice as his stunning 323i.
GruppeM carbon fibre air intake – every #BMW should have one!
DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-323i / #BMW-323i-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #M52TUB25 / #BMW-M52 / #M52B25 / #M52 / #BMW
ENGINE: 2.5-litre six-cylinder with #Schrick performance 248° cams, #Rogue-Engineering underdrive pulleys, #Gruppe-M carbon fibre air intake, #Jim-Conforti engine software, #Supersprint 76mm cat-back exhaust with both resonators removed, Imola red valve covers
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” #HRE-448R three-piece forged alloys shod in Toyo T1-S 235/35 tyres. H&R fully adjustable coilover suspension system, #H&R Trak Plus 5mm spacers, #Racing-Dynamics anti-roll bars, #Turner-Motorsports rear shock mounts, silver M3 front strut brace. #Brembo 320mm big brake kit (front), #Rogue-Engineering /Porsche 329mm big brake kit (rear), #Hawk-HPS racing pads, #Goodridge stainless steel brake lines, #ATE Super Blue brake fluid. Rogue Engineering short-shifter, weighted selector rod and tranny mounts. Redline synthetic fluids
EXTERIOR: Euro-spec OEM M3 bumper custom fitted onto a saloon chassis, #AC-Schnitzer carbon fibre M3 front spoiler, aluminium stabiliser struts, rear apron, roof spoiler, sport mirrors, racing wing and badges, Fiber Images carbon fibre bonnet. Hamann shadow grilles, Hamann eyebrows, #M-Tech side skirts, Nova 4 professional strobe kit, custom fitted facelift ’02 BMW rear lights, Euro-spec clear side repeaters, xenon 5200K foglight kit, xenon 5200K ellipsoid headlights.
INTERIOR: M3 leather sport seats custom fitted into saloon, two-tone leather treatment, Sparco Clubman threepoint safety harnesses, AC Schnitzer full pedal set and floor mats. Aluminium interior trim and gear shift, NR Auto aluminium gauges, Isotta chrome gear shift surround
ICE: Alpine 7965 CD head unit, CHA 1214 12-disc changer, SPR 176A 6.5” components, SPR 172A 6.5” coaxial. Rockford Fosgate 400 four-channel amp, 360 two-channel amp, 1.0 Farad capacitor. Allumapro BP10 subwoofer enclosure
THANKS: TWCompetition, Peter at wheelexperts.com, Samir at Rennsport.com, Tom Chang at Bimmerfesteast.com, Ooro and Drea at Bimmervibe.com, Jimmy at Pfactor.com, Mark and Ben at Rogueengineering.com, Barry at Race Technologies, Dtmpower.net, E46fanatics.com, Cave Crew, Michael Cajayon, Rich Pinto at Rtechnic, my girlfriend Mabel, friends and family
Above: Rogue Engineering/Porsche 329mm big brake kit for the rears! Up front are Brembo 320mm. Left: Plenty of lovely carbon fibre.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGloriously original Schnitzer 635CSi racer
A True Original Squirrelled away down in Australia you’ll find perhaps the most original Schnitzer E24 635CSi race car in existence – it’s an absolute peach!
‘It came second in every major race it entered’ – hardly a claim to fame, especially when it comes to a race car’s value post-retirement. Thankfully it’s not the only deciding factor, as this ex-Schnitzer 635CSi proves. Words and photography: Chris Nicholls.
A TRUE ORIGINAL
As with many things in life, originality is key. Whether it’s the arts, sciences, or even consumer goods, a truly unique idea or product will stand out. It doesn’t even have to be the best in its class. It just has to be one of a kind. The same can be said of racing cars. Tyrell’s six-wheeler was hardly the most successful F1 car of all time, but it’s still revered today because it tried something new. Similarly, this #Group-A 635CSi never won a single race in its life but its remarkable career, despite the lack of wins, and originality (being possibly the most complete Schnitzer Group A E24 in existence) means it truly is a standout car.
Now sitting in the Bowden Collection warehouse in Queensland, Australia, we decided our trip up there earlier this year would be a great opportunity to both shoot and delve into the history of this amazing machine. And thanks to the generous assistance of the Bowden clan, we were able to do just that. Looking into the car’s past, it’s perhaps remarkable such a storied machine could have started its career so badly. Entered into the 1985 European Touring Car Championship as the factory Schnitzer / #BMW #M-Technic car, chassis RA2-55 didn’t even finish its first three 500km endurance races at Monza, Vallelunga and Brno due to mechanical problems. And it only managed sixth and seventh at the Salzburgring and Nürburgring events respectively. And that was despite having drivers like Emanuelle Pirro, Dieter Quester and Johnny Cecotto at the wheel. A huge effort from both the team and drivers Quester, Oestreich and Cecotto did yield a second behind its sister car at the Spa 24-hours that year, but that was as good as it got in its European run.
Thankfully, the late-season pick-up in fortune meant British team manager John Siddle still decided to bring the car Down Under for the Bathurst 1000 later that year. Originally, he wanted the Spa winner, but given it ran the famous ‘parts car’ livery, one that would have cost around AU$10,000 to replace when it returned to Europe, Siddle settled on buying its sister car outright instead and had it painted in ‘Bob Jane T-Marts’ orange. After a complete rebuild by Schnitzer and testing by Quester, it ended up on a boat to Australia.
Remarkably (at least when viewed through the lens of 2016), this was fairly normal for the time. The team’s driver line-up for ‘the great race’ originally consisted of Nelson Piquet (whom Siddle managed) and Nikki Lauda, but a date clash with a Brands Hatch F1 race meant Johnny Cecotto and Roberto Ravaglia had to be flown in instead. To help ensure the best possible result, Siddle also brought in two Schnitzer mechanics and a BMW factory engineer to bolster the local crew.
Qualifying eighth, the bright orange 635 suffered a terrible start due to the kind of engine trouble Siddle had spent so much time and money trying to avoid. Thankfully it cleared by lap three, only to be replaced by a computer wiring fault on lap 17, which left the car down on power for the remainder of the race.
Despite this, after two hours in the car was up to fourth and eventually moved up to third behind the TWR Jaguars. At one stage it even snatched second place before a charging Peter Brock went past in his Commodore. Thankfully for the BMW fans, though, Brock’s timing chain later broke and chassis RA2-55 took its second consecutive number two spot in a major race. Rather frustratingly, a post-race inspection by the team revealed the wiring problem probably cost them a second a lap and therefore the win, but such is Bathurst.
After Australia’s biggest enduro, the Bob Jane car competed in an F1 support race at Adelaide, driven by none other than Gerhard Berger, before a brief retirement until the tail end of the 1986 Australian season. There, thanks to Garry Rogers (who now runs the Volvo V8 Supercars team) destroying his ex-JPS 635CSi at Oran Park, it was pressed back into service to run with Charlie O’Brien as the second driver at the Calder Park South Pacific 300 (where it finished seventh), the Sandown 500 (where it finished 11th) and once again at the Bathurst 1000, where sadly it DNF’d. Finally, the CSi finished off its racing career by being shipped to Japan to compete at the Fuji InterTec 500, piloted by O’Brien and Pirro, where it finished (yet again) in second.
Upon returning to Bob Jane’s ownership, the former racer and tyre magnate changed the vinyl numbers to replicate the 1985 Bathurst livery and left it at that, using it as a promotional vehicle at his various tyre and wheel stores around Australia. Indeed, it seems he thought little more about the car until he showed it at the 2012 Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne. There, a chance encounter with some Red Bull mechanics made him realise what a special piece of history he had on his hands.
According to current custodian Chris Bowden, these Red Bull mechanics were ex-Schnitzer and, after examining it, said to Bob they used to work on the car and they couldn’t believe how original it was. “They told Bob that it was the only one left of the original (Schnitzer) 635CSis,” says Chris.
Having realised quite how valuable it was, Bob decided to find some caretakers who could look after it better than he could, and thanks to being friends with the Bowden family, chatted to them first.
“Bob called us after that event and said, ‘I’ve just found out this car’s a lot more special than what I thought it was, and I think you should have it,” Chris explains. “So we started talking from that point onwards and a deal was struck not that long after.
Obviously it was Bob Jane [a man renowned for his business nous], so we had to pay – we had to pay well – but let’s just say all parties were happy and, to date, I’m yet to have seen another 635 like it. It’s just a time-warp, and its fantastic race history backing it up is really cool, too.”
Chris’s description of the car as a ‘time warp’ is apt. Looking over the car, you can see every little detail from its racing career remains intact. Outside, the completely original paint is chipped and worn, as are the wheel centres, and the aluminium fuel tank still has dirt streaks running down it. The windscreen even has a crack in it from its last race in Japan. Lift up the bonnet and bootlid and you’ll see every mechanical component remains untouched and the rubber seals are long past their use-by-dates. Even the tyres are the original Pirelli P7 slicks it last raced with back in 1986. Inside, the time capsule feel continues. The original Recaro carbon bucket is now completely yellowed by the ageing resin, while the kick marks on the doorcards and aluminium roll-cage, as well as the partly-faded plastics surrounding the switchgear behind the gear knob and shiny leather on the wheel itself, all further reinforce how old and well-used the car was. (On a separate note, the completely stock road-car gear knob, door panels and dashboard are a bit of a throwback, aren’t they? It’d be impossible to think about seeing such items on a modern race car).
The car’s originality and condition makes it all the more amazing that, far from leaving it as a museum piece, Chris has had it out for a test run at Queensland Raceway. Admittedly it was just one test, and the original ’80s tyres and safety gear meant it was hardly flat-out, but after getting his mechanics to ensure it all still worked, he did indeed drive it. And to prove that age never wearies a great car, Chris says it was still a peach and rather friendlier than his other Group A 635CSi – a JPS car we’ll also be featuring. “The JPS car is very much set up for sprint racing – it’s got a huge cam in it,” Chris says. “There’s literally nothing going on below 4000rpm. Getting it out of the pits is an absolute nightmare. And the JPS car (like all Group A 635s) runs a huge amount of caster and the gearbox ratios are extremely tight. It’s a real purpose-built sprint car. Whereas in the Schnitzer the clutch in it is quite friendly, the gear ratios are spread a little bit wider and it’s got power steering. It does run a pretty big cam, but nothing like the JPS car. It generates power from about 3000rpm; you could take the Schnitzer car to the shops.”
Of course, Chris says this doesn’t mean the car isn’t utterly vice-free, as it’s still “a little bit cranky” at low speeds, but for a purpose-built race car, he says it’s a nice drive and very clearly one set up for endurance racing, where outright speed is less important than ensuring the driver isn’t exhausted by lap ten.
Thankfully for race fans, Chris even says he plans to drive the car at future events, too, if only for demonstration runs: “This particular 635, given I’ve never seen another one like it – as original – I don’t think racing is what should be done with the car. I’d love to but I don’t think I’d be doing a favour to mankind by giving it a big rub or blowing up the engine or doing those things that happen when you decide to enter a race with a car. The JPS car, definitely, there’ll be a time in the future when we do race that, but the Bob Jane car, no. It’s a time-capsule – it’s something that should be kept for future generations so that in 30, 50, 100 years from now, when they talk about the early Group A cars, and the ones that ruled the roost and what they were really like, this car should be an example of that.”
Wise words indeed. We look forward to seeing the car on track at future events, where no doubt it will wow people with its originality, history and bewitching M30 song.
Above: The ‘Bob Jane’ 635CSi as it was when campaigned by Schnitzer in European events – this is it finishing second at Spa in 1985.
Looking over the car, you can see every little detail from its racing career remains intact.
TECHNICAL DATA Bob Jane #Schnitzer #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-635CSi-E24 / #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-635CSi-Schnitzer / #BMW-635CSi-Schnitzer-E24 / #BMW / #BMW-E24 / #BMW-Schnitzer / #Bob-Jane / #Getrag / #BBS / #AP-Racing /
ENGINE: 3475cc SOHC #M30 / #BMW-M30 straight-six, cast iron block, 12-valve alloy head, #Bosch injection, 310hp @ 6900rpm
GEAR BOX: Getrag five-speed gearbox
CHASSIS: Steel monocoque
SUSPENSION: McPherson struts, coil springs, shock absorbers, anti-roll bars (front), semi-trailing arms, coil springs, shock absorbers, anti-roll bars (rear)
BRAKES: AP-Racing four-piston callipers (f) and Lockheed two-piston callipers (r) with 297x26mm two-piece discs
WHEELS AND TYRES: 8x17-inch (f&r) BBS centre lock mesh wheels with 285/630 (f&r) Pirelli P7 racing slicks
For a purpose-built race car, it’s a nice drive and very clearly one set up for endurance racing.
The Bob Jane 635CSi that now resides in the Bowden collection retains a wonderful patina – it’s probably the most original E24 race car anywhere in the world.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAC SCHNITZER S5
Hiding in Plain Sight It might not be as well-known as the M5 but this #Schnitzer E34 S5 still packs a punch.
The AC Schnitzer S5 Silhouette is nowhere near as well-known as the M5. And that’s exactly the way its owner Jani Ylönen likes it. Nobody suspects a thing… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photography: Jape Tiitinen.
The concept of the sleeper is one that’s endured for generations – the idea that you can wrap up a whole bundle of hairraising performance and handling prowess into a relatively unassuming package, thereby dropping jaws and raising eyebrows along with pulses as you blow away the competition in the traffic light grand prix.
There are countless examples of bona fide sleepers that really highlight the success of the formula – regular visitors to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, for example, will no doubt be familiar with the near-anonymous white Transit van that has the engine and running gear from a Jaguar XJ220 squirreled away inside. But that’s just a one-off build; manufacturers love to build Q-cars too – look at the Rover 75 V8 (as dull to behold as your grandpa’s runabout, but there’s a Mustang engine in there!), the pseudo-mundane four-door version of the R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R, the Renault Espace V6, the Volvo 850R, the Lancia Thema 8.32 (a drab-looking saloon with a Ferrari V8, for goodness’ sake) and, of course, the original, E28-generation BMW M5. This last one, arguably more than any, really nailed the sleeper idea: a sensible, everyday executive saloon hiding a supercar engine of phenomenal might.
Now, a pedant might argue that the car we’re looking at here isn’t exactly a sleeper. And they’d be right. Just take a peep at the boisterous, aggressive wheel arches and the girth of those shimmering splitrims – it’s an E34 in a party frock, a 5 Series that’s been up close and personal with a glitterball. But the Q-car analogy still holds up, because this AC Schnitzer special fits into a handy sleeper offshoot that was blossoming in the 1990s, a sort of officially modified alternative to a mainstream model.
The obvious poster boy of this generation was the Lotus Carlton, a tremendously dull base car that suddenly became very exciting when Vauxhall carted it off to Lotus. It returned with a couple of turbos, some frighteningly wide arches, and a 177mph top speed. Sure, manufacturers and aftermarket tuners have been monkeying around in this arena from time immemorial, but the idea of taking a humdrum production model and turning up the wick for a handful of moneyed customers really built up a head of steam in the ’90s, and AC Schnitzer was more than happy to exploit this enthusiasm by having a little tinker with the E34 chassis.
This, naturally, was a tremendously logical notion. While the E34 5 Series range wasn’t exactly wanting for performance variants – the M5 was a hand-built lunatic with comfortably north of 300hp, and the North American market got an M-Sport version of the 540i, which made good use of that shiny new V8 – that’s never been the point of Schnitzer road cars.
These are race-bred machines (or so they’d tell you), the connoisseurs’ choice for the sort of discerning customer who thought a little more laterally than just swaggering into the local BMW dealership, slapping a fat wad on the counter and leering ‘gimme the fastest 5 Series you have’. With roots in the iconic Schnitzer Motorsport team, which was founded way back in 1967, AC Schnitzer was established as a brand in its own right in 1987, and it was well into its stride when the E34 chassis reared its head and started tentatively begging for attention like a curious kitten. The E34 and AC Schnitzer are basically the same age – a match written in the stars, no?
Arriving at the crux of the matter, the car you’re looking at here is an AC Schnitzer S5 Silhouette. This represented one of the first holistic E34 tuning programmes, something that effectively said ‘the M5 is an astonishing machine, but it’s not the only performance option here’. So what was interesting about it? Well, just drink in the aesthetic… the size of the arch extensions is notable for starters – not quite Lotus Carlton-like levels of beef, granted, but certainly enough to earn a cocked glance from an aficionado.
The hook with the Silhouette was that, unlike other contemporary body kits – not least from Schnitzer itself, the kit wasn’t made from polyurethane or injection-moulded plastic, but lovely lightweight fibreglass, with a bit of Kevlar reinforcement in the rear spoiler to ensure it was doing its job. In addition to the arches, the S5 wore chunky side skirts, a front spoiler and a rear apron, and all this does much to ramp up the aggressiveness of the profile. Particularly when you stir in the timeless breadth of the Type I wheels, their contact patch being comically large by early 1990s standards. How does a 12.75x17-inch rear rim grab you? ‘By the throat’ is probably the correct answer there…
This tidy example belongs to Jani Ylönen of Vehmersalmi, Finland – a certified BMW nut and thus an eminently sensible curator for such a slice of history: “I’ve always been a big fan of BMWs. My first car was an E21 323i, and it’s difficult to imagine how I’d want to drive any other make.” Indeed, sitting alongside this E34 on the Ylönen driveway is an F11- generation 5 Series, which suggests that the seed planted so early on is blossoming with alacrity.
“My E21 was in bad condition when I bought it,” he recalls. “I fully rebuilt it from the ground up in 1994-’95. I think it’s a good thing to really know the car you drive, it fuels the passion.” This was again the case with the S5 Silhouette. Did he save it from the ignominy of the crusher? Ah, no, thankfully not… “I saw it for the first time in around 2005, and I knew it would be mine,” Jani grins. “It was owned by a friend who kept it in great condition – the way I bought it is pretty much the way it is now.”
The reason for his enthusiasm is clear to see, it’s obvious how one might fall in love with such a machine on first sight. After all, AC Schnitzer put the hours in to ensure that the S5 Silhouette was a formidable machine. A number of engine options were available, but this was the mightiest and brawniest; using the 535i’s 3.5-litre straight-six as a base, it was stretched out to 3.7-litres (well, 3627cc to be precise, with a 92.5mm bore and 90mm stroke compared to the 92mm and 82mm of the stock 535i) and treated to Schnitzer’s own cams, pistons, con rods and crankshaft, along with a modified cylinder head and intake, and custom management.
To all of this, Jani has added a Reuter Motorsport exhaust system and a set of larger injectors from an E34 M5, with the verified results being a healthy 282hp. A 38 per cent horsepower gain over the standard 535i is not to be sniffed at, is it?
With such clear roots in motorsport, Schnitzer was keen to talk in its contemporary literature about the increased downforce and reduced lift resulting from the respective fibreglass accoutrements, and the single wiper and aero mirrors give the S5 a nifty Touring Car vibe. The tuner’s own suspension setup was dialled in as well; developed with Bilstein, the custom springs and dampers dropped the car by around 35mm.
The manner in which the tuner spoke about its baby back then was telling in its forthrightness, that ‘a consistent application of proven racing mechanics on road-suitable versions is possible without any restrictions in view of everyday use and motoring comfort’. You see what it’s doing? It’s justifying the purchase for you, to save you the bother – yes, it’s a brutish road-racer, but don’t worry, it’s every bit as much of a comfortable cruiser as any factory BMW.
What a fabulously logical marketing strategy that is. Certainly an easy one to sell to a reluctant spouse. And ACS has always been fierce and stern selfpromoters, sticking the company logo anywhere it could; take a peep into that sumptuous, leather-clad interior and you’ll spot a chunky and robust branded three-spoke steering wheel, Schnitzer pedals and footrest, Schnitzer wood trim on the dash… there’s no ambiguity about where you are. And where you are is somewhere very special indeed.
This E34, then, is not a sleeper by traditional standards, but it does fit very neatly into the mainstream-sidestep of the early 1990s that saw machines like this suddenly making a lot of sense. The name itself is evocative of a keen race heritage – silhouette racers, after all, are the ultimate manifestation of the basic sleeper ethos, stuffing otherworldly performance into sensible-trousers shells – and it’s this above all else that drew Jani to purchasing it. “I just love the fat body kit and wide wheels,” he laughs. “And people’s reactions at shows can be great – if they know, they know.” But the real point is that most people don’t know.
The S5 Silhouette, as brash as it is in the details, is a car that flies under the radar. It’s not an M5, that much is obvious, so the untrained observer will pigeonhole it as ‘just another E34’ before moving on to the next exhibit. Which is a mistake, as they’ll soon discover when they have their tanned backside handed to them on a country lane on the way home. Such is the entertaining in-joke of the Q-car genre.
AC Schnitzer’s contemporary tuning brochure had a section dedicated to the E34 Five and the S5 Silhouette featured heavily, and much was made of bringing motorsport technology to the road.
“I think it’s a good thing to really know the car you drive, it fuels the passion…”
“I just love the fat body kit and wide wheels and people’s reactions at shows can be great”
TECHNICAL DATA #AC-Schnitzer-S5 / #AC-Schnitzer-S5 / #AC-Schnitzer-S5-E34 / #AC-Schnitzer-E34 / #AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-E34 / #BMW / #BMW-E34-AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: #M30B35 / #M30 / #BMW-M30 / #M30-AC-Schnitzer 3.7-litre straight-six, AC Schnitzer cams, pistons, con rods and crankshaft, modified cylinder head and intake, #Reuter-Motorsport exhaust system, AC Schnitzer valve cover and ECU, S38 E34 M5 injectors, #Getrag five-speed manual 282hp, 270lb ft
CHASSIS: 9.75x17-inch (front) and 12.75x17-inch (rear) #AC-Schnitzer-Type-I wheels, 215/45 (front) Nankang NS-II and 255/40 (rear) Falken Azenis, AC Schnitzer/ #Bilstein sport suspension, drilled/grooved discs and #Ferodo pads, strut brace
EXTERIOR: AC Schnitzer S5 Silhouette fibreglass kit comprising wide arches, side skirts, front spoiler and rear apron, Kevlarreinforced AC Schnitzer rear spoiler, AC Schnitzer heated sport mirrors
INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer three-spoke leather steering wheel, AC Schnitzer short shift with leather gear knob, AC Schnitzer footrest, AC Schnitzer wood trim, leather upholsteryStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ #BMW-E9 / #BMW-3.0-CSL / #BMW-3.0-CSL-E9 / #BMW-3.0-CSL-Schnitzer-E9 / #Schnitzer-E9 / #Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW / #1972
Ecuadorian Gold. The story behind a Schnitzer E9 Coupé that was once a racer, was turned into a road car, and has now been restored back to a race car. Originally a Schnitzer Touring Car, then a road car, and now a glorious homage to the original, this is the story of how a clapped-out road car was changed back into a Schnitzer Batmobile! Words and photography: Robb Pritchard.
I have seen plenty of front gardens with strange ornaments like gnomes and miniature windmills but this house in Ecuador, on the slopes of the huge Cotopaxi volcano, has the best lawn decoration I’ve ever seen: an original Schnitzer BMW 3.0L CSi. The winged beast takes pride of place at Alfredo Cevalles’ house, right next to the front door and ornamental fountain. In resplendent gold and gleaming chrome trim it is, in my opinion, as gorgeous as BMWs come. And it has a long life history, too.
The original owner was Marco Vivanco, who back in the ’60s and ’70s was a famous Ecuadorian race car driver. That might sound like a contradiction in terms but actually this diverse little country touching the Pacific, Andes and Amazon has a rich history of motorsport. There was the 1000 miles of Lagarto, the South American equivalent of the Mille Miglia, and a huge 15-day rally around the country called the Vuelta de Republica. Marco, at the wheel of a modified BMW 2002, won both of these.
For many years he was known for driving the small but nimble 2002ti which, at considerable cost, he upgraded to run with a Schnitzer tuned engine. Ecuador has some of the most prohibitive importation restrictions in the world so anything brought across the border costs a serious amount of money. That engine cost enough on its own but when he bought the 3.0L CSi direct from Schnitzer it was, in 1972, the most expensive car ever imported into South America.
It wasn’t just a road car taken into the workshop and tuned by the German racing team. One of only a known 38 made, it’s a full specification Group 2 Schnitzer car. This was the year before Jochen Neerpasch joined the team from rival Ford and took the 3.0 CSL to the heights of glory with legendary drivers such as Jacky Ickx, Henri Pescarolo, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Jochen Mass, Bob Wollek and Hans Stuck behind the wheel. Thoroughly trounced by the Capris in 1972 the CSi doesn’t have such a good race track pedigree as its successor, which is one reason it now sports the stunning Group 5 flares instead.
The CSi didn’t particularly shine in the European Touring Car Championship… and it also didn’t quite live up to Marco’s high expectations either. Being designed for the fast and flowing European circuits a generation before chicanes were the norm, it wasn’t well suited for the twisting Ecuadorian mountain roads that the local races took place on. The first time he competed he had problems with the LSD overheating as its design perimeters were never intended for dozens of tight mountain hairpins.
Engineers from Schnitzer made him a one-off upgrade, a much tougher differential that could cope with the extra friction. But the biggest problem was that the main performance of the car came at 9000rpm… and in the local competitions he could never get up to high enough speeds to stretch its legs. He needed something with the power and torque in the lower end but couldn’t bring himself to sell such a special car and see it raced in someone else’s hands, so it was put into storage.
There is a very strange and unpopular law in Ecuador that only allows one-year-old cars to be imported and it is a rule that has stood for decades, so each and every classic car on the roads here has lived here since new. It also means that Ecuador has the accolade of being the most expensive place in the world to buy a car. As an example of how absurd the prices are I found a knackered Chevrolet equivalent of a Vauxhall Chevette with 600,000 miles on it… for £3200… which was a factor in why Marco took the BMW back out of the garage in the mid- 1980s and decommissioned it into a road car. The Schnitzer engine was far too beastly to drive in the city so it was taken out and replaced with a production CSL one. The original was sold over the border in Colombia to a man called Juan Montoya. If that name sounds familiar, it probably is: he sold it to Juan-Pablo Montoya’s father!
The roll-cage came out, rear seats went in, road tyres and wheels went on and, most sadly of all, the body kit was taken off… which is why in 2008 Alfredo’s brother Paul didn’t immediately trip over himself when he saw the car parked behind a garage on the outskirts of Quito. With the gorgeous 2002 and ‘81 E21 323i in the garden, obviously the brothers have a love for BMWs, which is why in 2008 Paul left a note on the window enquiring if it might be for sale. Marco called back with an asking price of $4500 and because of the smoking engine and general state of what looked like a normal road car Alfredo almost passed the opportunity up… until, on a whim, he looked up the VIN number on the internet. Wondering why he couldn’t find anything he searched a little more and suddenly he was looking at photos of the car in its former Schnitzer glory! It was with a shaking hand and pounding heart he called Marco up again.
In Marco’s garage there was a collection of old race posters, trophies and an amazing photo of the car doing 280km/h on a mountain road. Alfredo’s mind swirled with the possibilities and problems the rebuild would entail. The most important thing for Marco was passing the car on to someone who was going to restore it properly… and who knew what a massive undertaking that would be in a country where you cannot import second-hand car parts. Alfredo had suitable experience, though, (as his 1956 Austin Healey 100 and Porsche 944 attest to) so, coughing and spluttering, the BMW was driven home and Alfredo’s biggest project started.
Ecuador’s capital, Quito, is some 3000 metres above sea level so the air is quite dry. That helped keep the bodywork corrosion free but the aluminium outer door skins needed changing as the originals were badly dented and poorly repaired. This was an original sport part and apparently was rather expensive – which is definitely a continuing feature of this restoration. Getting the coils and Bilstein shocks for the rear suspension was a cool $4000; the front was only slightly cheaper. The rear spoiler was $3000 on its own. The German company that makes them doesn’t deal direct with Ecuador so Alfredo had to order it via an American company, multiplying the initial purchase cost. For the body kit, which he bought off eBay in Ireland, he didn’t even want to tell me how much it cost, but shipping alone was a fourfigure sum, and then for the import taxes another 35 per cent was added, and then 12 per cent VAT. He could have made it a period-correct Group 2 car but the extended arches and spoilers for the Group 5 version are both cheaper and easier to find… so he built himself a Batmobile. The front winglets on the front of the wings are from an original Group 5 car, an eBay find that Alfredo is quite proud about.
The dog-leg Getrag gearbox had been in the car since new and was one of the easiest things to be reconditioned. All it needed was a couple of bearings and an input shaft machined locally to fit. A much harder job, though, was replacing the cracked and chipped glass; unable to source original items Alfredo had to use a company in America to make a pair from scratch. All the lights, aluminium trim and dozens of hard-to-find small details that Alfredo had no hope of finding in Ecuador are from Wallothnesch in Germany – a company he has spent the best part of €15,000 with!
The seats are Scheel replicas that he also had to have made. The authentic retro-look was important and after failing twice to get sets imported from Europe, the only way to get a period-accurate pair was to have them handmade by a company in America. Yes, they were expensive.
After years of being exposed to the harsh sun the wooden trim had deteriorated so Alfredo hired a local wood master to recondition it. The cedar wood BMW used wasn’t available in Ecuador so this was yet another thing Alfredo needed to work on in order to get customs clearance for.
Now it looks as good as the day it came out of the Munich factory. The brakes are all period-correct but with new discs all-round, reconditioned callipers and Ferodo pads.
Generations of mechanics skilled in keeping old bangers running meant that the engine work could be done locally. Although it started life as a standard road-spec engine Alfredo put a lot of effort into making it as strong and as powerful as he could and had a big shopping list from VAC USA including rockers, double springs, titanium retainers, a Schrick cam, high compression pistons, machined head, ceramic coated header, 0.45 Webers, and a metallic head gasket. The car is now rated at 260hp. It’s still a long way from the 340hp that the original car had but a reconditioned Schnitzer engine is a cool $90,000 before the horrendous importation costs, so the tuned standard one is staying for the foreseeable future. The exhaust is another Schnitzer part… and an important one, too, because the sound this beauty makes when revved up is absolutely glorious!
Absolutely deafening and annoying for the neighbours, especially as it sounds quite similar to the local volcano erupting. But glorious…
The painstaking and painfully expensive rebuild took seven years but Alfredo thinks it’s well worth it. He enjoyed his collection of road cars before but wasn’t content to just drive this one. He had to race it, although Marco, now in his 80s tried to persuade him not to. “I don’t race it to win,” Alfredo smiles. “I just do it to hear the engine and show off the car. Besides I can only drive it at special events because with the spoilers it’s too low to get over the speed bumps in the city. I couldn’t even get it out past the security gates in my housing compound! Marco is always nervous when I drive it but he knows that the car means almost as much to me now as it does to him.”
This is a car that was designed to go fast, though, so at classic events like the Eleckta Rally Alfredo doesn’t hold back too much. “At high speed the car is solid and with the stiff suspension and short-ratio steering it’s very nice to drive… especially with the engine noise echoing off the mountains.”
So far Alfredo has put approximately $52,000 into the project, which isn’t actually that much for something of this quality and pedigree, but it’s not quite finished yet and there are a few details that Alfredo wants to include. The main thing is that the eight-year long hunt for original Schnitzer wheels to replace the set of BBSs doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon. Marco still has one, but it’s being used as a table support in his living room! So although it’s not complete just yet, Alfredo still needs to be applauded for bringing this car to the stunning condition it is now in.
“I don’t race it to win. I just do it to hear the engine and show off the car”
The Schnitzer Coupé as it was back in the day being campaigned by Marco Vivanco. He’d been hugely successful in his 2002 but the CSi proved less suitable for Ecuadorian events.
It took a long time and a lot of money but Alfredo is now able to compete in the #Schnitzer-CSi in classic events in Ecuador where he loves the way it drives and the noises it makes.
Above: The CSi had been converted back to a road car when Alfredo first came across it but he knew that he wanted to restore it back to a race car and so the long task began.
Alfredo’s mind swirled with the possibilities and problems the rebuild would entail.
“It’s very nice to drive… especially with the engine noise echoing off the mountains”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationThe Art of Deception AC Schnitzer knows a thing or two about suspension as witnessed by its setup for the M4. The M4 is developing a reputation for being a little bit of a handful in slippery conditions, so does it really need more horsepower and other upgrades? Words: Adam Towler. Photography: Gus Gregory. #AC-Schnitzer-ACS4-Sport / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS4-Sport-F82 / #S55B30 / #S55B30-AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer / #2015 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS4-Sport / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #AC-Schnitzer-F82 / #BMW-M4-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW / #BMW-4-Series / #2016
It’s quite likely that many readers of this magazine believe the BMW M4 is the finest incarnation of the mid-size German sports coupé yet built. However, it can’t be denied that amongst the car-loving community at large, the M4 has split opinion. No one questions whether its performance is adequate, or for that matter superlative; I can’t give you an exact figure off the cuff but I’m sure it completely demolishes something like an old E46 M3 around a certain German racing circuit, and many others, too.
Let’s consider, though, some of the more esoteric elements of the M4 proposition. The power increase over the old E92 M3 is actually only marginal – an extra 11hp taking it to 431hp – so it’s the torque that’s making the difference, all 406lb ft of the stuff versus the 295lb ft from the naturally aspirated V8. And that’s not all. Forget for a moment the peak difference and consider where that number is now developed: it’s from as little as 1850rpm and is then held all the way to 5500rpm in one arrow-straight line. In one of the older V8s the engine needed to be turning at 3900rpm before the full 295lb ft came on stream. Quite simply, whenever you plant your foot in an M4, as long as the engine is working at more than a whisper above idle speed, things happen… and they happen fast. Gear choice is vastly less critical, and while I won’t get into the highbrow discussions of whether it has become all too easy and the loss of that gorgeous soundtrack, there’s no denying that on modern, crowded roads, the S55 engine’s on-demand haymaker is exceedingly effective.
This sheer grunt does give the M4’s chassis something to really think about. On a smooth, dry surface the car is hugely effective, with EDC damping allowing for a fairly comfortable ride or ruthless body control at the press of a button. But on a cold, greasy, wintry B-road with all the irregularities in surface that are to be expected, it’s a car that can really bite the unwary. Left in the standard setting, the suspension can struggle to contain the torque if deployed clumsily, and sudden crests can make the car very lively indeed. I could probably add that the rather muted steering in the modern style doesn’t assist the challenge, either. In such a situation, you either spend a good deal of your time watching the yellow traction control light flicker incessantly, which is very frustrating, or DSC is switched off whereupon you’re really juggling with the steak knives set.
That’s where this Schnitzer ACS4 comes in. I know, it doesn’t look like it’ll be the answer to this particular problem. Despite keeping an open mind the additional ‘aero’, tuner-style 20-inch rims, lowered ride height, talk of coilovers, plus a comically noisy exhaust threatens to overwhelm me with preconceptions of a negative kind. A ‘slammed’ aftermarket treatment might be the last thing this car needs.
Then there’s the news that really sets the alarm bells ringing: peak power on this M4 has been raised to a massive 510hp. Whatever you say about the new turbo power generation, that’s a figure that any M3 driver just ten years ago would have thought impossible. Moreover, the maximum torque now stands at 479lb ft, which threatens to really give the rear axle something to get in a flap about.
I travel to Schnitzer’s UK importer, Rossiters, near Kings Lynn, to collect the Austin yellow demo car, mine for a few days. Rossiters held the franchise before BMW made things official in the late 1990s, and then picked up the reins ten years later when BMW UK ended that arrangement. Today, you can order Schnitzer parts in 40 of the UK’s BMW main dealers, as well as 20 other non-franchise BMW specialists. This demo car features plenty of the Schnitzer goodies on offer: there’s the engine upgrade, which I’ll come onto in a minute, with a new engine cover for added artistic embellishment; the carbon fibre front spoiler elements, ‘canards’ either side of the nose and carbon rear diffuser (no aerodynamic advantage is implied or given); the ‘RS’ suspension kit; ‘export version’ sports silencer; Type V forged 20-inch rims with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres (255/30 R20 front and 275/30 R20 rear); a fancy pedal set; and some stickers for the exterior. All in that’s £20,081.61 added to the price of your M4, including fitting. Let’s see if it’s worth it.
The most exciting snippet of information I gather from talking to Chris Rossiter and Lorcan Parnell at AC Schnitzer UK is that their colleagues back in Germany have developed this kit over many miles of road testing, and that their mantra is ‘better fast not hard’ (stop sniggering at the back please). In addition, the finer points of the setup have been tweaked after driving on the lanes close to Rossiters’ Norfolk workshop. This attention to what matters in a road car and not a pursuit of lap times bodes very well already. Such thoughts momentarily leave my mind when the ACS4 fires up with a boom and idles angrily. The cat-back exhaust keeps the factory valving system, but when they’re open – especially on cold-start – it is mercurially loud.
The modifications to the engine consist solely of altering the messages from the ECU. Schnitzer achieves this not by remapping what’s already there, but by fitting a ‘piggyback’ second ECU that adjusts the electronic information accordingly. It claims that the achieved outputs remain inside the limitations of the gearbox, and it supplies the car with a twoyear/ 60,000km warranty that sits alongside the regular BMW warranty for the car. This can be extended to three years for an additional £1082.02. Quite rightly, Rossiters feel this peace of mind elevates the conversion above some of the straightforward remaps out there.
It may well have over 500hp but that’s not what is grabbing my attention at the moment. Leaving the small town of Dersingham it’s the ACS4’s low speed ride that I’m most aware of. With such low profile rubber fitted it’s no great surprise that the car picks out every last little bump on the road, which makes for a busy experience. This coilover option is the third and highest level of modification offered by Schnitzer for the M4, and forsakes the factory EDC dampers for a passive setup that is nonetheless adjustable manually for rebound, compression and ride height.
Fairly soon we’re beyond the limits of the town and the speeds inevitably increase, whereupon it occurs to me that the jostling has petered out considerably. During my time with the car I become obsessed with this aspect of the ACS4: there are occasions when I think it’s too busy, and on a particular surface that it doesn’t like – one busy dual carriageway springs to mind – it seems to make a meal of a road that I’d never thought that bad. But overall I sense that while the suspension is working hard, it does filter out the worst of the movements entering the cabin. It sounds worse than it is: the intrusions banging through the M4’s structure and causing the odd rattle here and there, but my head isn’t nodding against my chest and my wobbly bits aren’t being, er, wobbly. I learn to live with it, and soon accept it as ‘normal’.
The faster your drive the ACS4, the better it gets. And going fast is one thing this car does very well indeed. The sheer rate of acceleration is now shocking. It’s easy to get into the mindset where you work the engine between 2000-4000rpm and can’t imagine going much quicker. Then an odd occasion presents itself where the engine can really be wrung out to the redline and it’s simply biblically fast. Or at least it is when it can find traction. In the middle of winter, that isn’t all that often, it must be said.
This is where the Schnitzer bits really shine. I find it most refreshing that the damper setting on the dash can be ignored, primarily because it’s one less thing to meddle with on the move. The real advantage is that as a driver, you learn the car, get to know how it will react in certain situations and under certain provocations. There’s something really straightforward about this car which, if you switch the DSC systems off partially or completely, means it’s nowhere near as scary as a 500hp coupé should be. Compressions and crests don’t hold any fear for the Schnitzer driver, the ACS4 piercing through them without any of the unsettling behaviour of the standard car, and even the steering seems to have gained a little more feedback, tugging slightly this way and that depending on the road’s surface.
The ACS4 likes to go sideways, usually at every opportunity. This is one of those cars that can be made to lose traction at the rear almost at will, but once you’ve got a handle on what happens next it is surprisingly controllable. Time and again the big yellow 4 Series has me giggling with euphoric nervousness at having kept things facing in the right direction, but the control once the tail has swung around is just lovely, and it’s a great feeling to have it all hooked up on the exit of a corner just on the cusp of wheelspin. If anything, the ACS4 makes 500hp seem more manageable at times than the standard car’s 431hp. It’s worth saying, though, however obvious, that it would be foolish to treat this M4 as if it were a grownup Mazda MX5. If there’s one thing you’re always aware of, even when having a lot of fun, is that it is an inherently overpowered, rear-drive car that’s tractionlimited in bad weather. It’s unwise to take too many liberties with any 500hp+ car, however progressive it seems most of the time. An aural indication of this is the snort released through the quad tailpipes when you lift suddenly off the throttle under full boost. It’s an ugly kind of noise, akin to a lightning bolt cracking through the atmosphere, and it adds to the impression that this is one bad car to know.
By the end of my time with this M4 it has really got under my skin. I’ve really enjoyed its transparency in a modern car market obsessed with modes and button pressing. Left in the normal drivetrain setting it’s a more refined proposition without the fake engine ‘noise’ (I think the straight-six sounds nice just as it is to be honest), and the benefits that the suspension bring to the body control and predictability of the chassis in extremis are really appealing. I’d do without the body addenda, although that may well be at the top of your list – these things are, of course, down to personal preference. I’d forsake the wheels, mainly because I’d love to try this car on standard 19-inch wheels fitted with tyres that have a larger sidewall to see what the ride and road noise were like then. The engine upgrade is one of those mods that once experienced there is simply no going back, and given it’s under a warranty I don’t think I could say ‘no’. I could drone on for paragraphs about how rapid this car now feels, but it’s something that has to be experienced to be believed in truth: it never, ever, feels dull. I’d leave the exhaust though, ostensibly to stay a bit more ‘under the radar’, and anyway, there are no performance claims made for it either. In other words, just taking the engine and suspension options adds around £7000 to an M4, and given the performance and dynamic benefits they bring, that seems like a very good deal to me. Sometimes, appearances can be deceptive.
CONTACT: AC Schnitzer UK / Tel: 01485 542000 Website: www.ac-schnitzer.co.uk
TECH DATA AC #Schnitzer ACS4 Sport
ENGINE: Twin-turbo, straight-six
MAX POWER: 510hp
MAX TORQUE: 476lb ft
0-62MPH: 4.0 seconds
50-120MPH: 6.2 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
ENGINE: AC Schnitzer performance upgrade: £3641.04; engine optics package: £378.73; optional third year warranty: £1082.02
EXHAUST: Quad sports exhaust system (export version) with black tailpipes: £3275.75
WHEELS & TYRES: AC Schnitzer Type V lightweight forged alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. Front: 9x20-inches with 255/30 R20 tyres. Rear: 10x20-inches with 275/30 R20 tyres: £5949.66 (including wheel bolts and RDC tyre pressure valves)
SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer RS adjustable suspension package: £3473.75; wheel alignment: £144
STYLING: AC Schnitzer carbon fibre ‘canards’: £960.50; carbon fibre front spoiler: £1050.26; carbon fibre rear diffuser: £1319.50
INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer aluminium pedal set: £195.60 All prices quoted include parts, labour and VAT
I’ve really enjoyed its transparency in a modern car market obsessed with modes and button pressing.
It might look pretty standard in the interior from the driver’s seat, but the driving experience is anything but standard!
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- How fast? Looking at your performance figures for the AC Schnitzer ACS4 Sport I have to assume there is an error regarding the 50-120mph time? Unless How fast? Looking at your performance figures for the AC Schnitzer ACS4 Sport I have to assume there is an error regarding the 50-120mph time? Unless it’s rocket-powered it would have to be 16.2 seconds rather than 6.2? If not, then that means a 0-120mph time of less than ten seconds?! More ...
- While we haven’t independently verified AC Schnitzer’s figures Chris, we have no reason to doubt them; even in its standard form the M4 is a staggerinWhile we haven’t independently verified AC Schnitzer’s figures Chris, we have no reason to doubt them; even in its standard form the M4 is a staggeringly quick machine! Schnitzer tested the standard car through this speed increment (80-180km/h, which equates to 50-120mph) and recorded a time of 7.9 seconds, so with 80hp more we wouldn’t be surprised if Schnitzer’s ACS4 Sport was indeed that fast.
It is an unusual increment to time, but if one has a look at quarter-mile times for the M4 many magazines have posted pretty impressive figures for the standard car. Car and Driver recorded a 0-100mph time of 8.6 seconds for an M4 on its way to a 12.1-second quarter-mile time with a terminal velocity of 119mph. With the additional power and torque of the Schnitzer car we reckon it’s probably just about spot-on.
The bottom line is that cars these days are hugely faster than they used to be! More ...
- Post is under moderationWORLDS COLLIDE
This vibrant Australian E46 M3 delivers the perfect combination of jaw-dropping looks and sheer driving pleasure. Blending style and substance, this Australian M3 delivers sheer motoring perfection… Words and photos: Chris Nicholls.
The stance and motorsport scenes are generally (and correctly) seen as polar opposites. Form versus function. Style versus speed. Yet there’s a surprising amount of crossover between the two. Admittedly, most of it goes one way – from race cars to stance machines in the way of big wings, wide wheels and arches, sponsor stickers etc but every so often you see it go the other way, with race cars running decidedly street-oriented body kits (Rocket Bunny-equipped track demons come to mind) and even the odd time attack car running air suspension (like Cody Miles’ Redline street-class champion STi in the US). It’s a shame there isn’t more movement between the scenes, as in the end, we’re all car enthusiasts we all share the joy of owning and driving cars.
Manny De Zilva certainly shares it. His 2001 E46 M3 is driven hard no matter where he goes, and the best part is that thanks to careful planning and modifications, he can epitomise what’s possible in terms of crossover between stance and track. While you may not believe it from these images, this car does both with equal aplomb.
Now, before we start, it’s worth noting that Manny’s M3 doesn’t run air suspension. Doing so would leave him without a functioning boot, given he’s already got two Rockford Fosgate subs in there, along with accompanying amps. No, Manny does things the old-fashioned way, albeit with two sets of coilovers and wheels. His street setup consists of BC BR coils, wound right down to allow the kind of tuck one normally only associates with the ‘low and slow’ brigade, and deep dish 18-inch Work Meister S1 wheels, mounted with mildly stretched Nexen and Achilles tyres. He still drives hard on this setup, though, something we’ll go into more later. Manny’s circuit setup, meanwhile, consists of KW V2s at a more track-suitable height and Enkei NT03s, complete with Advan A048 semi-slicks.
It’s telling that he goes to this much trouble to enjoy both worlds, because this level of dedication and hard work permeates the whole build, and shows in every little considered detail. From the focus on colour coordination both inside and out, to choosing parts that only enhance the inherent beauty of the E46 shape, rather than detract from it, this is a build with a lot of work, and thought, gone into it.
Let’s start with the exterior, as it’s obviously what everyone sees and compliments first, given how many people stopped to gawk at the car during the shoot in the Melbourne seaside suburb of Frankston. Finished in Phoenix yellow, the relatively rare colour blazes like the setting sun behind us. It’s perfectly matched with the yellow Umnitza angel eyes, yellow-edged AGT carbon diffuser and side skirts, yellow GTR-style bumper and rare hybrid E92/E46 GTR carbon bonnet to help bring a level of colour coordination lacking in so many builds. Even the deep Work Meisters (in 10x18” ET17 front and 12x18” ET18 rear) are similarly colour-matched, with gold-plated hardware, gold anodised wheel bolts and gold Work stickers on the lips.
Because having everything yellow would not work, though, Manny decided to offset the colour with tasteful black elements, such as the smoked lights, black wheel centres, naked carbon aero parts and even leaving the top and number plate surround of the carbon CSL bootlid unpainted. The only missing detail in the pictures is the rear roundel, as it fell off the day before the shoot and Manny couldn’t find another one in time, so ended up drawing a smiley face on there instead. Irrespective, it all ends up with a build that slams into your eyes as hard as it looks slammed into the Tarmac, yet never overwhelms. As anyone who’s tried to build a car to this level knows, that’s no small achievement.
The colour coordination continues inside, too, although again Manny was careful not to have too much ‘in your face’-ness. Indeed, silver carbon trim, extended shift paddles and updated lighting aside, there’s little change from the factory, but to ensure the silver and black theme was consistently applied throughout the cabin, Manny also added an AC Schnitzer gear knob, pedals and handbrake lever. To match with the upgraded audio, he also added an Avin Avant 2 head unit to modernise things but keep the factory look. It’s still subtle, though, and is in-keeping with the car’s philosophy.
Perhaps surprisingly for a car that sees hard driving on a regular basis, the suspension, brakes and engine are relatively mild at this stage. There are SPC rear camber arms to allow the wheels to sit just right on the street (and to allow tuning for the track), Whiteline end links, Turner Motorsport swaybars, Racing Dynamics strut bar and those aforementioned coilovers, but that’s about it for the footwork. The engine and driveline has had more done, with a Turner Motorsport cold air intake and power pulley kit, BMC filter, ESS remap, Mille Miglia exhaust (with custom tips) and Supersprint hi-flow cats and resonator on the engine side, and a Tuning Tech FS SMG tune and new diff cover on the driveline end. But it’s not an extreme build, even the brakes have only seen minimal upgrades, with a StopTech Sport brake kit adding better pads, rotors and steel lines. In many respects, though, that just shows how right BMW got the E46 M3 before it left the factory. It was very much a Goldilocks car on launch, winning multiple awards, and its reputation has only grown with age. The fact Manny can happily drive it hard both on the street and on the track (where it is “able to be competitive amongst high-powered turbo cars”) definitely proves that point.
That’s not to say it’s all been milk and honey, though. Like any build, there have been problems, with the biggest of them being the notorious BMW rear subframe issues (admittedly not helped by Manny’s driving style). “Very aggressive driving at an extremely low ride height put a lot of stress on my already reinforced rear subframe floor,” says Manny. “With the help of a specialist workshop, though, we researched and developed a new one-off floor made out of carbon-kevlar, which shouldn’t cause any more issues when I am ready to chase big power in the near future.” Ah yes, big power. Let’s face it, there’s almost never a time when a petrolhead doesn’t want more pace, and Manny is no exception.
So how does he plan to go about achieving this? Well, the easiest way to add grunt to any S54 is obviously via a supercharger, and that’s where Manny is headed. Having already had an ESS remap, it’s no surprise he’s also going to add a VT2-575 blower, but the icing on the cake will be the E85 tune and supporting ancillaries, which are an easy option to consider in Australia, given there are quite a few E85 pumps dotted around the major cities and suburbs (mostly from V8 Supercars’ official fuel supplier United Petroleum). Total power output should obviously jump markedly after that, and may well necessitate more mechanical modifications to cope, but no doubt Manny will already be planning those and have a picture in his mind of where to go. After all, he did exactly the same thing before he started this build.
“I already had parts waiting for the car before I even bought it!” he says. “I had a fairly distinct idea of what I wanted to do with the car in the early days, but as most people would agree, a project is never finished! There is always that one more mod you feel like doing.”
Indeed, on top of the extra urge, Manny’s desire for even more track days meant he fitted a pair of Recaro SPGs soon after the shoot, and to ensure he enhances its streetability as well, he’s also got plans to upgrade his boot install, although this time it will be easily removable so as to lose weight for the track. He says he’s even entertained the idea of changing up the entire colour scheme, with a white-on-white setup that would take the look in a completely different direction. That’s a bit of a flight of fancy for now, though.
No matter which way he goes, however, Manny has proved he will likely end up with an M3 that is even more the sum of its parts than it already is. One that draws stares and admiring comments, and one that ensures he maintains his undying love for E46s (this example is actually his third in a row, with his previous one having been a boosted, wide-body 330Ci that sadly met its end in an accident).
“To me the E46 is the total package; its timeless bodylines, luxury interior features, 50:50 weight distribution for perfect handling, distinct exhaust note, a highrevving, powerful and responsive straightsix that sounds great combined with the raw #SMG gearbox (which gives it a race car feel)… it ticks all the boxes.” We couldn’t put it any better!
Carbon abound on the outside and in the engine bay of this E46.
Black and silver theme throughout the interior while boot is home to the Rockford Fosgate audio install.
DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / Turner-Motorsport / #BMW /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2 litre straight-six #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54 , #Turner-Motorsport-Stage-2 carbon cold air intake & boot, #BMC air filter, #Turner-Motorsport power pulley kit, ESS ECU remap, Supersprint 100 cell high-flow catalytic converters, Supersprint resonator section 2, Mille Miglia exhaust with custom tips, six-speed #SMG-II gearbox, #Tuning-Tech-FS SMG tune, new rear diff cover
CHASSIS 10x18” ET17 (front) & 12x18” ET18 (rear) Work Meister M1 three-piece wheels with black centres and gold-plated hardware with 245/35 (f) Nexen N’Fera SU1 and 285/30 (r) Achilles ATR tyres for street, 10x18 ET22 (f&r) Enkei NT03+M wheels with 275/35 (f&r) Yokohama Advan A048 tyres for track. BC BR coilovers for street, KW V2 coilovers for track, custom carbon-kevlar subframe floor, OEM subframe bushes, #Racing-Dynamics front strut bar, SPC rear camber arms, Turner Motorsport 30/25 sway bar kit (f&r), Whiteline end-link kit. StopTech sport brake kit, Motul fluid, wheel stud conversion kit with titanium nuts.
EXTERIOR CSL carbon bootlid, Carbon lip spoiler, GTR-style vented rear bumper, #AGT rear diffuser & side skirts, E92 GTR hybrid carbon fibre bonnet, quarter panel shave and repaint, Carbon front quarter panel grilles, carbon kidney grilles, #DEPO front corner lights, #Umnitza angel eyes, face-lift LED tail-lights (smoked), smoked front lights, xenon foglights, carbon fibre foglight inserts, carbon fibre badges, AC #Schnitzer carbon fibre roof spoiler, AC Schnitzer-style carbon 3-piece front lip spoiler, LED number plate lights, #ECS-Tuning tow hook kit, OZ Gloss paint.
INTERIOR Excelsior silver carbon interior trim, #AC-Schnitzer pedals, handbrake lever & gear knob, aluminium extended shift paddles, Avin Avant 2 head unit, #Rockford-Fosgate Punch P450.4 & P400.2 amps & twin Punch P1 10” sub in custom enclosure.
A project is never finished! There is always that one more modification you feel like doing… Manny De ZilvaStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationMASTERCHEF
Simple on the outside, exciting on the inside, this sexy Aegean blue E30 has been treated to a 3.2 S50-swap.
SLICK S50 E30
Awesome 3.2-litre two-door. With some seriously tasty mods and an S50 under its carbon bonnet, owner Nicholas Arnold has rustled up one cooking E30. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Woods.
Could the E30 be the most engine-swapped #BMW of all time? Judging by the number of feature cars we run that have been fitted with something other than their standard engine, it’s got to be up there. While V8s are a great and popular choice, sometimes you’re just not in the mood and fancy something more traditional where the 3 Series is concerned, like a howling, high-output straight-six, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here.
Chef Nicholas Arnold is its custodian and the man behind the swap. He’s no stranger to modified cars and BMWs, having worked his way up from a Vauxhall Nova 1.2 through to a selection of Hondas, including an EG Civic that he performed a full DC2 conversion on, and on to a number of BMWs, starting with an E34 525i (as it was cheap and RWD), and including a previous E30, which met an untimely end… “I wrote it off on black ice and I just felt I had to own another one. I found this car on eBay, located in Scotland – it was in good condition and had just had a respray,” says Nicholas. There was also the small matter of it already being endowed with an M52 under the bonnet. “It had a straight-through exhaust, was on cheap Jom coilovers and had an open diff. I changed the inlet manifold and ECU before making bigger plans,” he says – those plans being the swapping in of a more potent powerplant.
“I put a S50B32 in it as the M52 wasn’t fast enough,” explains Nicholas. “I bought new AKG engine mounts, custom wiring loom, aluminium triple core radiator, Ramair air filter, got a custom-built manifold, ACL race bearings, ARP con rod bolts, M3 3.0-litre oil pump with an E34 baffle sump and a Simons race silencer with a full stainless steel system. It took me six months to put together all the parts for the build and a week’s-worth of work to put it all together. The only problems I had was the servo had to be moved across by 45mm and I had to have a brake linkage bar made up.”
They say that the waiting is the hardest part and we have no doubt that was definitely the case here as six months to go from capable M52 to 321hp of ferocious #S50B32 goodness must have felt like an age. Let’s not beat about the bush here – the E36 M3 Evo is not a slow car, so just having that rev-hungry lump in the lightweight surroundings of an E30 would result in an absolute rocket ship. But that’s not all, the transmission has also been beefed-up to suit and there’s a five-speed Getrag ’box mated to an E34 M5 Sachs clutch with a 4.5kg billet steel flywheel, E36 propshaft and an E36 2.8 LSD in an E30 medium diff case.
With some serious power on tap, Nicholas turned his attention to the chassis as it needed some upgrades to be able to cope with the massive increase in engine. “I went for a set of BC Racing coilovers as they’re mid-range and suitable for road and track, Purple Series polybushes with E30 M3 lollipop bushes, again suitable for both roadand track-use, fitted all-new drop links, H&R uprated anti-roll bars, Ultra Racing strut braces to stiffen the chassis and I also had the subframes powdercoated and the rear subframe reinforced due to the increase in power.” The car no doubt drives spectacularly and sits beautifully low. It just looks right, especially on its black 16” Rota Grid Vs, which tie in perfectly with the numerous black details across the bodywork, and make a change from the usual suspects when it comes to E30 wheel choice, as Nicholas explains: “I have the Rota Grid Vs as I like to be different. I also like the Jap, aggressive look rather than following the crowd and having Borbets or #BBS reps.” The wheels are wrapped in Toyo Proxes tyres and sit on a stud conversion, while Ferodo DS2500 pads and EBC discs sit behind the spokes.
In terms of looks, the E30 really doesn’t need much help – subtle is often best to enhance the styling and that’s definitely been the approach here. The Aegean blue paintwork looks stunning, rich and deep, and the unpainted carbon bonnet is no less gorgeous. Other exterior additions include an eyebrow, crosshair headlights and all-red tinted rear lights. The interior, on the other hand, has received a bit more attention, as Nicholas tells us. “The car started off with a plain standard non-Sport interior but I’ve always had Sport seats in my previous E30s and knew how comfy they were so wanted another set in this car.”
He spent months searching for a pair of Sport seats but, having drawn a blank, he changed tactic and bought a pair of OMP buckets instead. Of course, no sooner had he installed them in the E30 than a pair of chequered Sport seats appeared at a good price, so he snapped them up and got rid of the buckets. And, as luck would have it, a few weeks later a rear bench, complete with headrests, and in the same pattern, popped up so Nicholas jumped on it, so to speak, and in a very short space of time had put together a rather lovely Sport interior.
In addition to that he’s fitted a suederimmed #OMP steering wheel with snap-off boss, AC #Schnitzer short-shift gear knob plus a rear blind-equipped parcel shelf. It’s smart, clean, period and suits the rest of the car, with a few subtle hints to suggest that there’s more going on here than meets the eye. We are well and truly in love with Nicholas’ E30, he’s really built himself an amazing machine. From the outside it looks so right – the colour is stunning, the carbon bonnet is spectacular and it really delivers the perfect blend of subtlety and aggression, with no single element feeling over the top or out of place, and that too can be said about the engine. It sits in the bay perfectly, looking so at home, and it’s turned this E30 into an absolute weapon.
“The huge engine is my favourite mod on the E30,” smiles Nicholas, “because the car is very inconspicuous looking.” He’s going to keep it looking that way, too, when he carries on with the mods this year: “I plan to add some fatter tyres and beef up the brakes as I’m only currently running 2.5 brakes allaround with DS2500 pads and EBC discs which fade after a couple of minutes of hard driving, and supercharge it,” he says, which is really going to turn the heat up on this E30 and take it to the next level.
Gorgeous Aegean blue on the outside, sexy Sport seats on the inside.
The S50 fits perfectly in the E30 engine bay and took owner Nicholas a week of work to get it fitted and running.
The engine is my favourite modification on the E30 because the car is inconspicuous looking Nicholas Arnold.
DATA FILE #BMW-E30-S50 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #Rota-Grid
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S50B32 / #S50 / #BMW-S50 from E36 M3 Evo, #ACL race bearings, #ARP con rod bolts, #Ramair filter, Millers Nano Drive oil, custom manifold and steering linkage, Simons race silencer and full stainless system with single dolphin tip, custom plug and play wiring loom, #AKG engine mounts, M3 3.0-litre oil pump, E34 sump, sump baffle.
TRANSMISSION Five-speed #Getrag gearbox, #Racing-Dynamics short shift kit, E34 M5 Sachs clutch with 4.5kg billet steel flywheel, E36 prop, E36 2.8 LSD in E30 medium diff case.
CHASSIS 8x16” (front and rear) black #Rota-Grid-V wheels with 195/40 (front and rear) Toyo Proxes T1-R tyres, stud conversion, fully polybushed except Z3 diff bush, #H&R anti-roll bars, #BC-Racing coilovers, #Ultra-Racing strut braces, M3 eccentric lollipop bushes, reinforced rear subframe, E30 91mm brakes and hubs, #Ferodo-DS2500 pads, #EBC discs.
EXTERIOR Respray in Aegean blue, Lite Tuned carbon fibre bonnet, crosshair headlights, eyebrows, red tinted rear lights.
INTERIOR Chequered Sport cloth interior, OMP steering wheel with snap off boss, #AC-Schnitzer short-shift gear knob, rear blind parcel shelf.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFebruary #2006 / #BMW / #AC-Schnitzer-Tension / #AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer-Tension-Concept / #BMW-E63 / #BMW-6-Series / #AC-Schnitzer-Tension-E63
Plenty of #BMW-M-Power cars to drool over in this issue, and the one that there really was no escaping from was the #AC-Schnitzer-Tension , an orange and black missile that graced our cover. Like most of the company’s wilder creations this was a show car designed to grab headlines but it also made very effective use of its technology and was used by #Schnitzer for a high speed run from the top of Germany to the bottom – 1067km at an average speed of 204km/h (126mph) – impressive given the drivers adhered to all speed limits on non-derestricted sections of motorway. It also clocked a mightily impressive 331.78km/h (a smidgen over 206mph) at the Nardo test track in Italy!
If tuned V10s were your bag then you’d also have been interested in DMS’s tweaked E60 M5 that hooligan Holtam put through its paces at Bruntingthorpe’s test track. It cracked 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds, hit 100mph from a standstill in 9.89 seconds and hit a GPS verified 180+mph before it ran out of runway. Given a longer stretch of Tarmac we reckoned it should easily crack the 200mph barrier.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationA Question of Sport #2016
/ #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4-5.0d / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4-E89 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4-5.0d-E89 / #BMW-Z4-5.0d / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-E89-AC-Schnitzer
AC Schnitzer endows the #BMW-Z4 with some serious diesel power with a 400hp conversion! A pure sports car with a triple-turbo diesel under the bonnet? Who’d make such a thing? AC Schnitzer – that’s who. And it knows what it’s doing… Words: Auto Bild Sportscars. Photography: Auto Bild Sportscars and AC Schnitzer.
The ACZ4 5.0d has a bespoke interior and many one-off components such as the exhaust which saves a staggering 19kg.
Track tester’s notes
Engine: Because of its nature, it doesn’t rev as sharply as a sporting, normally aspirated petrol engine. The strong torque always leads to a lightning-fast breakaway of the rear end.
Gearbox: Take everything one gear higher than normal, and shift up at 4500 rpm. Steering: Direct, precise, plenty of feedback.
Suspension: Perfectly set up for the Sachsenring, almost no roll tendency in alternating curves, just enough spring travel for small bumps. 1.34g transverse acceleration!
Brakes: Perfectly controllable, no fading, pressure point clear as glass. Brilliant.
Some of our readers may well remember the AC #Schnitzer 99d that the company built back in 2011 which combined BMW’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre diesel engine tuned to 190hp and 310lb ft of torque with the expensively lightened body of a Z4. Thanks to innumerable carbon components, the eco-sportscar was able to slim down to an unladen weight of around 1300kg. It ran on low rolling resistance tyres and returned, on average, a smidgen over 74mpg which equates to a CO² emissions figures of just 99 grams per kilometre. Sadly this technology platform – costing €149,000, but not for sale – remained a highly regarded one-off.
It was also regarded – or rather, watched – by a stubborn interested party who was inspired by the concept of a diesel sports car for rather less noble reasons than saving the planet. For him, it was more about torque. The 310lb ft offered by the four-cylinder diesel wasn’t enough for this customer, so he said to Schnitzer: “If you can make a really powerful diesel, I’ll buy the car.”
So the engine arrived – a freshly donated unit from a M550d. And in a lengthy operation, the AC Schnitzer 99d was transformed into the ACZ4 5.0d. The name is as unwieldy as it is misleading, because the tripleturbo six-cylinder doesn’t have a 5.0-litre capacity – it is, in fact, a 3.0-litre unit. That’s more than enough, though, because straight from the factory this wonder diesel delivers no less than 381hp and 549lb ft of torque and turns the two-ton-plus M550d into a very lively performer.
But what can this oil-burner add to a lightweight Z4, even when on top of everything it’s tuned by software intervention – an increase in injection quantity and, consequently, a rise in boost pressure – to 430hp and 620lb ft? And it gets better: our performance measurement actually recorded 445hp. Will the engine and chassis separate themselves from the bodywork during the traffic light grand prix? Will the propshaft tie itself in knots? Or will the rear wheels simply spin helplessly in every gear?
Somewhat surprisingly none of that happens as Schnitzer transplanted the complete rear axle from the E92 M3 (including the limited-slip diff) and fitted 9.5-inch wide forged alloy rims shod in very grippy 265 Michelins. As a result the Z4 actually transmits all that power and torque to the Tarmac remarkably well. Naturally it is possible, with the driving aids turned off, to transform the rear tyres into small black crumbs with a large dose of the throttle. However, anyone with even a hint of feeling in their right foot should be able to get smoothly off the mark (even in the wet), and rapidly shift up through second and third, and only fully press depress the throttle in fourth gear at the earliest.
The secret of the fundamentally fine controllability and high output of the BMW diesel lies in the complex valve control of the three turbos: a small high-pressure turbo ensures spontaneous response to even the smallest tap on the gas pedal. From around 1500rpm, the large low-pressure turbo joins in and provides plenty of volume and torque. Stage three comes in at around 2700rpm: a bypass line now supplies exhaust gas to a third small high-pressure turbo. From here up to maximum revs at 5400rpm, all three turbos work together to push the huge air masses into the combustion chambers for maximum power. Yet the driver notices nothing of these processes, simply enjoying the lag-free, harmonious but extreme power development up to maximum revs. So on the motorway, eighth gear is enough for all situations. Hectic flips of the shift paddles, kickdown, high revs – why bother? Just engage top gear in manual mode and press the throttle – and enjoy acceleration to a level not experienced before. The speedo needle climbs from 100 to 200km/h (62-124mph) as quickly as it does from zero to 100km/h in other well-powered cars.
The vehement thrust however ends unexpectedly early at a measured 279km/h (173mph). Is this down to the short-ratio M3 rear axle, which was really intended for a high-revving V8 petrol engine? No, because at top speed in eighth gear you’re only at 4300rpm and the diesel has enough breath for a further 1100 revs. Roman Fenners of AC Schnitzer thinks the cause lies in a protective function of the gearbox software, to prevent overheating.
But even 279km/h feels very, very fast in the diesel Z4: the solid hard-top of carbon fibre reinforced plastic, which replaces the standard steel folding top and its complex electro-hydraulic folding mechanism, saving 56kg, produces a noticeable interior noise level. And the very low race-style suspension setup with short spring travel, pronounced negative camber and very wide tyres on the front axle, calls for strong arms on bumpy and grooved surfaces.
When we head off to the track, and specifically the slalom test, what was a disadvantage on the motorway here transforms into an advantage: the slightly nervous agility of the Schnitzer Z4. The pleasantly heavy steering, which feels beautifully taut and extremely precise, gives excellent feedback from the road and allows the coupé to be steered through the cones with millimetric precision. Understeer? Only when the tyres haven’t warmed up. Oversteer? Only when the throttle is used as an on/off switch.
The nose-heaviness is successfully countered by AC Schnitzer with 265 tyres on the front too – instead of the mixed tyres with considerably narrower format on the front which come on the standard Z4 top model, the sDrive35is. That car, with 340hp, weighs in at 1601kg – 123kg more than the Schnitzer with the heavy diesel unit up front. As well as the solid hard top of carbon fibre reinforced plastic there’s also a CFRP bootlid (minus 34kg), a lightweight rear silencer (minus 19kg), CFRP bucket seats (minus 35kg) and forged alloys (minus 25kg) which all save weight.
Our race ace, Guide Naumann, now takes over the controls for our hot laps of the Sachsenring to record a lap time. For this we fitted Michelin Cup 1 semislicks which in the cool autumn temperatures, despite several warm-up laps, never quite reach their optimum working temperature. But the Schnitzer still steers excellently into the Coca-Cola Kurve after the start-finish straight without understeer. The suspension is perfectly set up for the Grand Prix circuit, handling the alternating corners without too much body roll, but was still soft enough to swallow the small bumps of the Sachsenring. For the Nürburgring North Loop we reckon this setup would, however, offer too little spring travel.
When accelerating out of comers, the triple-turbo has too much power especially in conjunction with an only lightly loaded rear axle. If you press the gas on entry to the apex, the rear kicks out suddenly, so you take it in one gear higher than usual, applying the gas late and progressively. But the rear still calls for your full attention, such as in the fast right kink downhill at 180km/h, where it tries to overtake the front! With the diesel roaring loudly at race speed, you can’t hear the rev limiter so you can’t shift based on engine note. Instead you have to keep glancing away from the track and over to the rev counter. The needle, however, should never drift above 4500rpm because higher revs would only cost time and you’ve still got all that solid torque available in the next gear.
The Schnitzer braking system, with six-pots on the front, remains unmoved lap after lap – no fading, no lengthening pedal travel, just a pressure point set in stone, combined with perfect controllability. Naumann’s summed up the ACZ4 5.0d on track thus: “Race-style suspension with very high and correspondingly narrow limit zone. Overall high grip level but the huge torque proves a killer for perfect lines. With a slightly higher exterior temperature or a softer tyre compound, certainly another second could have been squeezed out.”
The comparison with the Schnitzer Z4 99d mentioned initially, which we thrashed around the Sachsenring in spring 2013, is interesting: the 200kg lighter car, which also had 255 less hp, took over five seconds longer. A good time in itself, on a par with a current Audi S4 with 333hp. Or expressed in other words: the six-cylinder diesel is a real powerhouse. For the record the ACZ4 5.0d recorded a time of 1:37.27 on a cold track… a F82 M4 DCT Coupé managed a 1:37.74 under warmer conditions. And that makes the ACZ4 5.0d the fastest diesel we’ve ever driven around the Sachsenring.
And how does the Schnitzer feel in comparison with a standard Z4 35is? Another world away. The softly set up standard BMW, trimmed for comfort and ‘safe’ understeer, feels almost stolid, almost unsporting. Today’s standard, forgiving car sadly can’t offer the sharp handling which you associate with the first generation Z4 (E85).
Overall we’re left with an impression of a machine that really does stir one’s emotions. Emotions? In a diesel? Which occasionally breathes a hint of diesel oil into the interior? Which on starting rattles like the neighbour’s rep-mobile? Which growls darkly at the front but can’t sing melodiously from the exhaust? Yes! Because the baffled looks of a few car nerds who notice that the engine note and car don’t go together, are pure gold. And then there’s the fab feeling of driving something unique, special and exotic.
This unique, special, exotic car could, however, make you curse in everyday use. For example, in the supermarket car park when you have to unlock the carbon fibre bootlid in two places, then take it off completely and put it to one side before loading your shopping. Then there’s the short-travel suspension which the driver has got used to but passengers will never take to. Add to that the always high interior noise level (yes, even the sound insulation has been scrimped on) and that when reverse parking it’s very hard to see the rear extremities… and the former Roadster has now become a year-round closed top coupé. Oh well, you can’t have everything!
It’s not a cheap conversion, though, even if using a secondhand Z4 as a basis. Almost all the internals have been thrown out and the new engine and eightspeed automatic alone cost nearly €50,000. Then it goes without saying that the suspension and brakes have to be uprated to match the huge power gain. The interested party could save a few euros though by skipping the lightweight components.
Either way, AC Schnitzer has come up with a cracking package for this car. A heavy, extremely powerful diesel in a delicate lightweight coupé? We were sceptical, but our scepticism gradually developed into unalloyed enthusiasm during the test – AC Schnitzer has successfully pulled out all the stops to create this extraordinary concept.
Schnitzer has stripped a huge amount of weight from the Z4 thanks to the extensive use of carbon fibre such as these front wings and the new roof.
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-AC-Schnitzer ACZ4 5.0d
ENGINE: Six-cylinder, triple-turbo diesel, 24-valve / #N57S / #BMW-N57S / #N57S / #BMW-N57 / #N57 / #N57-AC-Schnitzer /
BORE/STROKE: 90.0 x 84.0mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 16.0:1
MAX POWER: 430hp @ 4400rpm
MAX TORQUE: 620lb ft @ 2000-2400rpm
0-62MPH: 4.0 seconds
0-124MPH: 12.9 seconds
QUARTER-MILE TIME: 12.31 seconds
TOP SPEED: 173mph
ECONOMY: 20.6-39.8mpg (27.2mpg on test)
ENGINE: Triple-turbo straight-six diesel, retuned
TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed automatic
FRONT BRAKES: 380 mm, vented and slotted, six-piston callipers
REAR BRAKES: 370mm, vented
WHEELS: AC Schnitzer Type VIII lightweight forged wheels ‘BiColor Orange’, 9.5x19 inches
TYRES: Michelin Pilot Super Sport 265/30 ZR 19 Y
ROOF: Replacement of the two-piece, electrohydraulically operated, folding steel roof with a CFRP hard-top saves 56kg, the #CFRP bootlid a further 34kg. The roof is now fixed and the bootlid can only be opened by removing it fully.
GLASS: The rear screen and rear side windows (which can no longer be lowered) are made of lightweight polycarbonate.
SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer racing suspension, fully adjustable in compression and rebound stages.
AERODYNAMICS: AC Schnitzer carbon front spoiler, AC Schnitzer carbon sports wings, AC Schnitzer bonnet vents, AC Schnitzer rear spoiler (two-piece), AC Schnitzer carbon rear skirt insert.
INTERIOR: Interior trim elements painted, carbon racing seats with #ACZ4 5.0d logo, AC Schnitzer aluminium footrest and pedal set, AC Schnitzer instrument cluster.
PRICE: €114,000 (one-off build cost)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.