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    LAGUNA E46 M3 Lush UK air-ride Cab

    A schoolboy dream has become reality in the shape of a Laguna Seca E46 M3 Cab, with a few mods for good measure, of course. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Dear.

    DREAM WEAVER Air-ride E46 M3
    Achieving your dreams, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant they may appear to some people, is an incredible feeling. From dream jobs, to dream weddings and, obviously, dream cars, these items, events and experiences fill us with sheer joy and make our lives better. Whatever your dream may be, achieving it, making it happen is a special moment; for Bally Hanspal this car was that dream and, as you can plainly see, it’s most definitely become a reality.

    “BMWs have been a big part of my life,” begins Bally as we ask him to tell his tale, “with my late grandfather, dad and uncle all owning BMWs through my childhood. It always made me want one and, also, with how amazing they are to drive nothing else can come close to them. For me they really are the ultimate driving machines; despite owning other brands of cars I always seem to have a soft spot for BMWs,” he smiles, and that’s something we wager most of us can relate to.

    Bally has dabbled with VAG in the past, ticking off the wheels, suspension and audio boxes along the way before moving towards the performance end of the modding spectrum, all of which served as perfect preparation for the inevitable purchase of his dream car. “When the E46 M3 was released, back when I was still in school, I promised myself I’d own a Laguna Seca blue one, one day. Many people laughed, but it was a dream I had to make come true,” he says and that steely determination is what made it happen. Bally kicked BMW ownership off with an E46 320Ci Sport, the biggest engine he could insure at the tender age of 20, but it was just a stepping stone until he could get his hands on the full-fat, M-powered 3 Series of his dreams. “I remember the day when I bought the car so clearly,” he smiles, “a friend of mine phoned me up – it was a warm Saturday afternoon – and he phoned me asking if I had found any cars for sale. I mentioned I had seen this one for sale on Autotrader, not too far from me. He said ‘Let’s go down and take a look’ so we headed over and after just walking around the car and checking it over I knew this was the one for me. The condition of the car was tip-top and it was so well-maintained that I would have been kicking myself if I hadn’t bought it.”

    There were, says Bally, no plans to mod the car when he first got it, and he actually thought that was going to leave the car alone but here we are, it’s in a modded BMW mag. It wasn’t long, he says, before he started ordering parts for his M3 and he didn’t mess about. Wheels came first, with a set of CSL 19s chosen and to go with those he picked out a custom set of BC Racing coilovers to deliver the required drop. With the E46 M3’s natural good looks now nicely enhanced, Bally turned his attention to the audio system and fitted an Alpine double-DIN head unit along with a set of MB Quart component speakers front and rear, which made it into the car’s current build state. So too did the amber corner lights, which look great against that bright, bold blue bodywork, and Bally has also fitted a seriously sexy set of K-Sport brakes, with monster eight-pots up front wrapped around 365mm discs and four-pots at the back, and the red calipers really pop against the body and wheels.

    All was going well, but Bally wasn’t in a good place with his suspension. “The BC coilovers were pretty awesome I must say, but with the car not being practical with the way I wanted it the next step was air. After speaking to many people and reading many reviews I went for Air Lift’s 3P setup and I also added Powerflex wishbone and anti-roll bar bushes just to tighten-up that awesome drive.” Now Bally can enjoy all the lows he can eat, so to speak, while still being able to actually drive the car and we like the fact that he’s also done a little bit more than just the bags alone, to allow him to really get the best out that awesome chassis that the E46 M3 is blessed with.

    With air on board, Bally decided it was time to up his wheel game but with so many good-looking wheels available for the car, this was not an easy task. It was helped slightly by the fact that he’d always had his eye on the wheels he’s ended up, that being a set of Schnitzer Type II Racing three-piece splits, and they are gorgeous, the metallic grey centres really suiting the whole colour scheme on the car. Where people often go big on diameter, Bally has stuck to a sensible 18” but he’s gone wide; the fronts are a reasonably large 9.25” but the rears are a monster 11.25” across and they fill the arches to bursting, and with it aired out the fitment is perfection.

    As far as styling is concerned, Bally has had the front bumper smoothed and it’s been enhanced with the addition of a full carbon fibre CSL front splitter, which not only adds a healthy dose of visual drama but also drops the car even further towards the Tarmac. Moving inside, that vibrant interior didn’t start out life this way and the original seats have made way for a striking red ensemble; “I wanted my M3 to stand out from the rest,” he says, “and after looking at many options it had to be the red Nappa leather, giving the car the Super Man look,” he grins and now it all makes sense. But here too there’s more than meets the eye, and where you might, perhaps, expect to see carbon on a car like this you will instead find that all the interior trims have been finished in Alcantara. “The trims are my favourite mod on the car and they were something I had in mind for a while, but it was a big problem getting them done, with so many companies saying they couldn’t do it and that it couldn’t be done. In the end my dad and I, along with my grandmother, did them together,” and the end result is absolutely unique and wonderful with it. Finally, in the boot, you will find the single air tank and Viair compressor that make up the air ride and, a neat touch, is that with the boot lid being de-badged, the air tank now wears the M3 badge instead.

    As far as performance mods are concerned, Bally has so far just added a gorgeous GruppeM carbon intake up front and a de-catted Scorpion exhaust system but it sounds like the next big mod on the to-do list is a supercharger and going by his determination and refusal to give up with any part of the build so far, you can be sure that’s going to happen before too long. There’s no rush though, Bally has no plans to let his dream car go anytime soon; “After now owning the car for two years I’d say it’s an on-going going project that will probably never end,” he chuckles. Bally’s built himself an absolutely beautiful M3, one that’s packed with neat, unique touches that really make it stand out and it’s a car he can truly be proud of. Dreams can come true.

    GruppeM carbon fibre intake the only performance mod, for now…
    Gorgeous 18” AC Schnitzer Type II Racing splits.
    “I wanted my M3 to stand out from the rest and after looking at many options it had to be the red Nappa leather, giving the car the Super Man look”
    Alpine double-DIN head unit and custom Alcantara trims.
    Red Nappa leather looks fantastic against bodywork.
    Custom-mounted Air Lift controller.
    Air install has been kept simple and the air tank now wears the M3 boot badge.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Cabrio / #BMW-M3-Cabrio-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E46

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #Scorpion exhaust system with de-cat, GruppeM carbon air intake, six-speed manual gearbox, short-shift kit

    CHASSIS 9.25x18” (front) and 11.25x18” (rear) #AC-Schnitzer-Type-II-Racing three-piece wheels with 215/35 (front) and 245/35 (rear) tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance-3P air suspension, #Powerflex wishbone and anti-roll bar bushes, #K-Sport #BBK with eight-piston calipers and 365mm discs (front) and four-piston calipers and 330mm discs (rear) / #AC-Schnitzer-Type-II / #AC-Schnitzer / #Air-Lift-Performance

    EXTERIOR #Laguna-Seca-Blue , smoothed front bumper, amber corner lights, gloss black front and side grilles, carbon fibre full CSL front splitter, CCFL angel eyes

    INTERIOR Red Nappa leather seats and door cards, Alcantara-trimmed dash, door grab handles and centre console, #Alpine double-DIN head unit, #MB-Quart components front and rear

    THANKS A massive thank-you to my family for the support and help putting it all together, Adam and Dav down at Autobahn for the fitting of many parts, Ryan at Ryandetails for the amazing job on the detailing of the paintwork
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    Davy Lewis
    MTM S1 QST's 350bhp uber hot hatch

    / Words Davy Lewis / Photography Aron Vickers / FIRECRACKER
    This 365hp, Misano red S1 not only packs a serious punch, but it’s great fun to drive, too.

    S1 QS Tuning’s 360hp monster

    QS Tuning are one of the UK’s original Audi performance specialists. Set up by Kim Collins over 20 years ago, they have carved an enviable reputation for building a wide range of fast Audis, from original quattros, through to the very latest S and RS models. We’ve featured several of QST’s demo cars including a supercharged RS5 and the latest RS3 (their RS7 will be coming soon). But there’s more to these guys than high-end V8-powered Audis. Like this little S1, for example...

    Let’s get one thing straight from the off – the Audi S1 quattro is a fantastic car. Small, nimble and powered by a potent 2.0 TFSI (the same lump that’s in the S3), it’s a genuinely fun car to drive. Part of the appeal has to be that sweet, six-speed manual gearbox, which helps to lend this modern day Audi a distinctly old-school, hot hatch feel. Don’t get me wrong though – this is still a very refined and well-developed car, but it has a character all of its own. I’ve driven a few of these now and every time – weather stock or tuned – I always return with a smile on my face.

    One thing the S1 has is huge potential. Which is exactly what QST’s Alex Collins set out to prove with his own car.

    As the UK’s main dealer for MTM, the S1 was always going to feature some high-end German upgrades. But rather than fit the well-respected M-Cantronic unit (which effectively piggy-backs the ECU), Alex wanted to show that MTM also do re-mapping. So he organised a road trip over to Germany to allow them to develop their Stage 2 software for his car. “We had great fun on the drive over,” says Alex, “we managed 163mph, three-up, with luggage on the autobahn.” As the S1 already had some hardware upgrades – a Wagner intercooler, uprated inlet and full Scorpion exhaust with custom back section – it was ready for some Stage 2 calibration. The MTM crew spent a long time mapping the S1 and the final numbers are pretty impressive – 365hp and 480Nm.

    Back in the UK, on a short test drive around the Wiltshire countryside, I have to say this S1 feels very lively indeed. The power is delivered with a real punch and second-gear acceleration is pretty ferocious. Nail the throttle and there’s a snarl from the custom Scorpion exhaust as the quattro drive does its thing and the little hatch fires itself up the road. You need to be quick with the gears (it’s a manual remember) but before you know it, you’re making very rapid progress. Soon, we’re hard on the brakes approaching a roundabout, and the bright yellow TT RS stoppers do an admirable job of scrubbing off speed. The fact that every stab of the throttle is accompanied by a crescendo of noise from the exhaust only adds to the sense that you’re driving something rather special. It may be a tad too loud for some, but there’s no doubt that at full chat, it sounds plain evil.

    You may be surprised to learn that a stock clutch is still being used, although for how long, no one knows. Factory S1 units are known to give up, even on unmodified examples, so it seems like this is on borrowed time. When it does go, it’ll be replaced with something far more able to stand up to spirited launches and the increased torque now available.

    The interior of this S1 is very special indeed. It may look like an Audi exclusive option, but it’s actually a bespoke retrim from Plush Automotive. The front and rear seats, plus door cards are finished in Ferrari tan leather, which gives the cabin a supercar feel.

    The exterior of this fiery little S1 has been kept nice and OEM. The Misano red paint has been lovingly prepared and radiates a deep, glossy shine. Some discreet MTM badges hint that this may be more than a stock car, and of course the large, yellow TT RS calipers are easy to spot, tucked behind the MTM alloys.

    Since the photoshoot, Alex has decided that air-ride is not really for him. As this car gets driven hard, he’ll soon be swapping the bags for a set of high-end coilovers. He also has new wheels and is looking at bigger turbos. Watch this space....

    Above: S1 maybe small but it packs a real punch.
    Below: Plush Automotive interior is stunning in Ferrari tan leather.
    Above: MTM alloys and TT RS brakes.
    Above: TT RS brakes feature custom carriers.
    Above: Scorpion exhaust.
    Right: Love a bit of light painting.

    “The power just builds and it keeps pulling until the redline”
    “I had 163mph with three up and luggage on the autobahn...”

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATION / #Audi-S1-Quattro / #Audi-A1-Quattro / #Audi-A1 / #Audi-S1 / #Audi-S1-Quattro-MTM / #MTM / #Audi / #Audi-S1-Quattro-QS-Tuning / #QS-Tuning / #Audi-S1-QS-Tuning / #Audi-A1-Type-8X / #Audi-A1-8X / #Audi-S1-Type-8X / #Audi-8X

    Engine 2.0 TFSI, #MTM-Stage-2 re-map, #Wagner front mount intercooler, #MK-Performance intake pipe, #ITG filter, #Scorpion de-cat exhaust with custom rear section

    Power 365hp and 480Nm (tested on MTM’s dyno)

    Transmission 6-speed manual, stock clutch (for now!)

    Brakes TT RS front brakes with Ferrari yellow calipers, custom carriers, re-drilled to 5x100

    Suspension HP Drivetech with Bilstein struts, Air Lift Performance management

    Wheels 8x18in MTM alloys with 225/35 Bridgestone Potenza

    Interior Full re-rim in Ferrari tan leather, #Recaro CS front seats, charcoal Alcantara seat backs, parcel shelf and door cars matched, S1 quattro gearknob

    Exterior 3-door S1 quattro in Misano red, black pillars, MTM badges

    Contacts & thanks Kim, Mike and Simon at QS Tuning, Luke and the crew at Plush Automotive, everyone at MTM
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    This E46 M3, finished in lush Mora metallic, combines killer looks with stunning attention to detail. With tough looks and some choice mods, this tasty E46 M3 is a fighting fit performance machine. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Sunny Ryait.

    The E46 M3 is an incredibly versatile machine when it comes to modifying. Just a few well-thought- out additions can make its already handsome looks even better, as demonstrated by this one for example. It belongs to Steve Smith, Captain Steve Smith, who has created a magnificent machine executed with the sort of precision and attention to detail that you’d expect from a military man.

    If you’re a car show regular then you’ll no doubt have seen Steve’s purple monster about, as this is one E46 M3 that most definitely gets to go and play whenever it gets the chance. With its striking Mora metallic paintwork and exceptional engine bay, it’s not a car that can slip by unnoticed, that’s for sure. It has been quite a journey getting it to this stage with Steve, by his own admission, taking a few wrong turns along the way. However, it’s all been worthwhile as the finished article is very nice indeed.

    “My first BMW was a mint 1502 that I swapped a Hilman Super Minx for with my brother,” says Steve. “However, this was before they became cool. After that I had an E30 325i, an E34 525td and an E36 326i Sport. But the E46 M3 was the car I always wanted and I finally bought one, a lowmileage, high-spec car, six years ago. In my eyes the E46 M3 was perfect and didn’t need changing at all, however that didn’t last long. I’ve always messed around with cars, upgrading the stereo systems, changing the suspension and changing the alloys.” It was inevitable that he wouldn’t be able to leave the E46 M3 alone.

    As befits an M car, the E46 M3 has an absolute masterpiece of an engine, which is really no surprise considering where it comes from, but even an engine as mighty as the S54 can be made that bit mightier. Steve’s engine bay is an awesome sight to behold. There’s a lot to like here, including the fact that he’s truly embraced the Mora metallic and gone to town on the underbonnet colour-coding.

    We should probably have a chat about the underside of the bonnet first, before we even begin talking about the engine, and that’s because it’s got Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader having a scrap on it. Obviously. “At this stage the main engine bay modifications were all done by Dips at Custom Cars. It’s great having a good friend like Dips. I have an idea and just give it to him and he knows how to make it happen. I wanted something on the underside of the bonnet, so after he carried out a lot of cutting, grinding and sealing he then sprayed a Star Wars scene on there for me. All the rest of the main components have been colour-coded in #BMW Mora metallic.” It looks fantastic for it, too, that rich, dark purple really adding an extra visual dimension to the engine bay. It also helps that Steve keeps his engine bay unfeasibly clean.

    It’s not just a good-looking engine bay, though, as there are performance mods lurking in here, too. The engine has been treated to an Alpha-N map along with Vanos mapping and the secondary air pump has been deleted. Steve’s also carried out a resonator delete on the exhaust system and the whole lot is finished off with a Scorpion back box, a combination that gives the E46 M3 a meatier soundtrack than stock, eliminating the rasp that so many owners dislike. Steve has also tweaked the SMG gearbox, adding the rev blip function from the CSL to enhance the driving experience.

    From the moment you encounter Steve’s M3 it’s clear that this is a particularly beefy car. It looks really muscular and purposeful and that’s a result of the perfect combination of wheels, stance and styling. “I like modifications that are different to others and get people talking,” explains Steve. “Some like them, some hate them; however that’s their prerogative. The styling has also gone through various phases. The end result that I wanted was a smoothed-out look that, when you start looking around the car, you keep finding more little touches. The front splitter is a one-off carbon piece that has now been smoothed with a set of Hamann foglight covers into the bumper. The bonnet and boot have been de-badged and I’ve added ACS wing mirrors and an ACS-style rear diffuser. The boot has been totally smoothed with a tubbed CSL type lid. This started life as an OEM boot then Dips got creative and now it is actually three bootlids in one!”

    That front bumper plays a big part in giving the car a square-jawed, road-filling look, the perfectly blended lip dropping the bumper even lower to the ground and giving it a Tarmac-skimming front.

    At the back, the work on the bootlid has really paid off as it finishes off the rear end a treat, the CSL lip definitely giving the M3 a more aggressive look while the shortened numberplate recess is much cleaner. The ACS-style diffuser is very subtle, as are the Scorpion pipes, but the two go together perfectly, the former adding an extra element to the bumper while the latter looks just that little more serious than the standard exhaust pipes do.

    Currently the car is sitting on a set of HSD DT coilovers. Steve’s reason for choosing these was simple: “You can really wind them down low and they still give you some ride quality.” And he’s done just that, dropping the M3 low over those gorgeous RH splits, which fill the pumped-up arches perfectly. “Since I’ve had the car it’s gone through about five sets of wheels. The ones that I really wanted were a set of 18” Hartges. However, finding a set for sale at a reasonable price is impossible. In the end I managed to get a set of RH XD threepiece splits, 8.5” ET36 up front and 11” ET17 at the back. I think that they suit the car’s shape really well.” He’s right, the classic design is a timeless one that works really well on the E46 M3. You really can’t go wrong with three-piece splits rocking polished lips and some delicious dish.

    The interior has not been forgotten about, undergoing quite a transformation from how it looked when standard. “The interior used to be black Nappa leather. I wanted to freshen it up but still wanted the comfort of the car so I went for a Champagne interior. Elite Detail re-connolised and conditioned the leather then a Storm gear selector and a steering wheel retrim and gloss black trim finished it off,” says Steve. The Champagne leather is the perfect choice of colour to go with the Mora exterior and the combination of light-coloured hide and gloss black trim plus Mora detailing, like the steering wheel badge and multifunction panel, is really spot-on.

    But we’re not done yet as Steve is clearly a fan of big sounds and this car’s packing a suitably serious audio install. Up front there’s an Alpine TME-M740BT monitor with an Alpine VPA-B222R hub hooked up to an Alpine Intravee with Rainbow SL165 component speakers. It’s in the boot where things really get serious as there’s a hefty install packing no less than three JBL GTO1214 subs and JBL GTO 1401 and 14001 amps.

    Steve’s E46 is a cracking machine that looks great thanks to the carefully crafted styling additions, those killer wheels and the distinct colour. However Steve’s not done with it yet. “I’ve spent about five years building it up so far but I’ve got some big changes planned for the future. However they are under wraps at the moment. As for other cars, nothing really interests me out there at the moment and I could never sell the M3.” This comes as no surprise to hear. From the sound of things, both Steve and his M3 are going to be regular fixtures at car shows for many years to come, which is most definitely a good thing.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54 / #SMG-II / #SMG / #BMW-M3-SMG-II / #BMW-M3-SMG / #BMW-M3-SMG-II-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-E46 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 , Alpha N map, secondary air pump delete, #VANOS mapping, OEM exhaust centre section with resonator delete, #Scorpion back box, six-speed SMG II gearbox, CSL SMG rev blip function

    CHASSIS 8.5x18” ET36 (front) and 11x18 ET17 (rear) RH XD three-piece splits with polished lips and 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Continental tyres, HSD DT coilovers, #Performance-Friction discs and pads (front), stock discs with EBC YellowStuff pads (rear)

    EXTERIOR Mora metallic, one-off moulded front bumper with lip and Hamann foglight covers, side repeater delete, LED side repeaters integrated into wing grilles, gloss black grilles with Mora accents, #AC-Schnitzer door mirrors, custom badges throughout, one-off bootlid with CSL spoiler and shortened numberplate recess, AC Schnitzer-style rear diffuser, rolled rear arches

    INTERIOR Champagne interior, gloss black trim including centre console, CSL engine warm-up lights on rev counter, custom gaiters, custom steering wheel from Royal Steering Wheels, custom badges, Storm Motorwerkz gear selector, Alpine TME-M740BT monitor, Alpine VPA-B222R hub, Alpine Intravee, Rainbow SL165 component speakers, 3x JBL GTO1214 subs, JBL GTO 1401 amp, JBL GTO 14001 amp

    THANKS A massive thanks to Dips at Custom Cars in Hayes for all his help and his attention to detail; I have some mad ideas and he makes them reality, he’s a true artist
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    It started life as an unassuming #BMW-318i / #BMW-318i-E36 , but an #S54-swap totally transformed this E36. Parked up, Chris Lunn’s stripped E36 318i certainly wouldn’t turn heads. However turning the key unleashes 348bhp of unbridled E46 M3 power. Could this be the UK’s finest street sleeper? Words: Joel Newman. Photos: Dan Pullen.

    To own a feature-worthy project car you’ve got to be clinically insane or just plain mental. Okay, okay maybe that’s a little harsh, but I think you’ll agree that to put all your time, money and soul into any inanimate object requires an ounce of lunacy far outweighing that of the average Joe. The star of this next feature has those characteristics in spades. His hunger for performance has led him through every nook and cranny of the E36 318i M40 modifying underworld. After succeeding in pushing the envelope as far as it could he got his hands on a brand new, much larger, much more shiny envelope, the S54 lump from the E46 M3.

    The story begins in 1994, soon after Chris fell in love with and purchased the feel and thrill of the front engined rear-wheel drive 3 Series Saloon. It is, by his own admission, his first and only car and its evolution is of such fairytale proportions that, if we hadn’t seen and ridden in it ourself, we would scarcely believe.

    Back then, with a mere 115bhp 1.8-litre four-cylinder lump, power was never on the generous side. Despite this, the trained electrician and musician gained as much track time as possible, kicked off with an open pit session at Castle Combe in 1995 as Chris explains: “To start off the car was awful. The handling was reasonable but on the straights anything and everything went past me.”

    It was soon after this that Chris started reading car magazines, and in conjunction with the people he was meeting at the track events, he had at his disposal all the expertise he would require to create the car that he longed for.

    After a chance meeting at a track day Chris started talking to Graham Lee owner of Lee’s BMW in Wembley. Together they fitted a performance exhaust and air filter, then had the car remapped at AmD Technik in Oxfordshire. Soon after the car was dyno’d where it produced only 3bhp over standard – something needed to be done.

    With help from Torque Development International in Barking Chris set about fitting Shrick cams, porting the cylinder heads, installing enlarged throttle bodies and remapping the car once again. After the work, like a crazed father the car was marched back to AmD, this time it put down an additional 20bhp. Once again Chris peered disappointingly into his now empty wallet…

    Feeling somewhat dejected, as strange as it seems he had grown fond of his beloved four-pot. Like a belligerent child he wanted to stick with it and after a chance meeting, this time with Bexley Motor Works, Chris carried on further down into the, dare we say it, money pit.

    Bexley felt that to best improve the car, the rear drum brakes needed to go. The guys managed to find a rear axle from an E36 328i complete with rear disc brakes. Chris himself then purchased and fitted a dBilas individual throttle body kit and Bexley worked on the MBE engine management system.

    During this period our man fitted E36 M3 front and rear bumpers and side skirts, which although offer no form of protection from impact, help reduce weight quite significantly. To shed further pounds he stripped out the interior and fitted a carbon bonnet. Finally Chris installed four-pot Brembos and floating discs up front. The car was once again rolling roaded and produced a more impressive 158bhp and 153lb ft of torque but the 318i – and Chris for that matter – were at the end of their tether. The M40, although a willing comrade could not, without force induction at least, be pushed a millimetre further. As sad as it was, Chris knew he had to move on.

    He began hunting for a replacement lump. The first port of call for the engine swap was the 2.5-litre 220bhp S14 from the E30 M3. Used by some E36 touring cars this powerplant is renowned for its lightweight, rev hungry attitude and is ideally suited to track driving. It was only financial reasons that stopped Chris making this swap, as the lads at Bexley pointed out that for the money, the power increase he would achieve would be minimal.

    He then began looking for an E36 M3 Evo lump but could find nothing to match his criteria. He was about to give up when, after an inquisitive snoop on eBay, he stumbled on the greatest bargain of the century. There before him, with just five minutes remaining on the sale was an E46 M3 engine with just 20k on the clock, the current price just £1100. Chris bid £1300 for it and in an instant it was his as he recalls: “At the time I just thought ‘what have I done?’ but I just went with it and prayed! I called the guy and asked if I could come and look at it and he said ‘no’ I’ll come to you. He turned up and had the engine complete with gearbox on a B&Q palette. He said I could have the lot for £1500.” Chris gave it a good once over but the seller guaranteed it was legitimate and he took a chance and went for it. There is no doubting it was a massive gamble.

    One of the main reasons the project was so difficult from the outset was because it is quite literally a first. In Europe at least, no one has ever done this before and Chris wasn’t sure if it had ever been legitimately achieved anywhere before. It was therefore down to Bexley to confirm that the mounting points for the E36 and E46 M3 engines were relatively close and that the S54 from the E46 should fit. They explained, however, that the gearbox on the E46 is longer and as a result the E36’s propshaft would have to be cut. Problems spiralled further as Bexley encountered yet another major issue. The E36 318i runs an open diff. In an E46 the diff is controlled by the engine management system, however since all the electronic gizmos would need to be eradicated if the S54 was to run smoothly in the E36, the limited slip diff from the E46 could not be installed, there simply wouldn’t be the technology necessary to run it. To scupper the problem Nigel and Jags at Bexley had to utilise the mechanical E36 M3 diff. The running gear for Chris’s ride would have to be a mixture of amalgamated E36 and E46 technology resulting in an E46 gearbox and propshaft front end welded and integrated into the E36 M3’s propshaft. This enabled it to operate with the E36 rear differential and rear axle. Interesting stuff when you’re reading about it, mind numbingly difficult and problematic when you’re building it!

    The next dilemma that the team faced was the E36’s steering column. On the E46 the rack narrowly misses the manifold, and if this was not the case with the E36 it would really threaten the project. Through some sort of divine intervention it just so happens that the E36’s steering column ran exactly the same way as the E46’s. Chris points out that this was a real turn up for the books as both the E46’s engine and bay are wider; by pure chance fate was playing along with Chris’ wild plans.

    As mentioned, because it was impossible to run the E46s software in the E36, the fly-by-wire throttle found on the E46 M3 had to be replaced and exchanged for a manual throttle cable. Unfortunately because of the way the new engine sat, the E36 M3’s variant didn’t fit into Chris’s car, so Bexley fabricated the piece themselves.

    Finally with the project looking like it was on track it was time to take on the cooling system. The E36 M3’s radiator was fabricated and mounted on new brackets and after a few trial runs it was supplying sufficiently cool air to the new lump. To complete the car final touches included a Heigo bolt-in roll-cage, relocating the battery behind the passenger’s seat, Full Black Art Design coilover race suspension, a UUC magnesium front strut brace and enlarged ITG air filter. With a Recaro bucket and Sabalt harness already installed and a rear wing fitted the car was ready to roll.

    Just two days before the shoot, one of the UK’s greatest sleepers was unveiled to its proud owner. On its first rolling road the car put down a hefty 348bhp and 277lb ft. The once budget 318i is now one of the fastest BMW’s in the UK thanks to Bexley, as well as being one of the most understated performance cars you’ll ever come across. Capable of 185mph, this thing accelerates with such ferocity that it definitely outstrips the performance of the E46 M3 and quite possibly the E46 M3 CSL. It may have been expensive, it may be hugely impractical, but to all of you that look at your pride and joy and dream of more, listen up. Whether it takes you a year or two decades, persistence pays off. A dollop of insanity, a piggy bank and a die hard mission can lead you to uncharted territory. After fitting his first air filter Chris kept his cool and followed the mantra ‘one day at a time’. Fourteen years later, and without any sudden cash windfall he now owns a car that drives and behaves like the one he desired all those years ago. With future plans to install a lightweight flywheel and clutch, slick tyres and a carbon airbox, power will only increase, and whether it takes him a week or five years to get this sorted, Chris can attest to one thing: good things come to those who wait.

    The running gear for Chris’s ride would have to be a mixture of amalgamated E36 and E46 technology.

    He turned up and had the engine complete with gearbox on a B&Q palette. He said I could have the lot for £1500. There is no doubting it was a massive gamble.

    DATA FILE #BMW-E36 / #BMW-E36-S54 / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 /

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54 / #BMW-S54 / #S54B32 engine, ITG air filter, #Scorpion de-cat, #Sebring-DTM exhaust. E46 M3 six-speed gearbox with #UUC short-shift, E36 M3 rear axle and differential, E36 and E46 M2 fabricated propshaft, E36 M3 transmission tunnel cross brace

    CHASSIS: 17” #AC-Schnitzer-Type-2 wheels shod in Yokohama AVS 235/40 tyres with #Eibach wheel spacers. Black Art Design coilovers, Ground Control front camber plates, UUC magnesium front strut brace and AC Schnitzer rear strut brace, #Eibach anti-roll bars, TC Kline racing monoball rear trailing arms and aluminium bushes. #Brembo four-pot front brake conversion with 238mm discs and #Ferodo DS3000 pads, #Zimmermann crossdrilled and vented discs with Ferodo DS2500 pads rear

    INTERIOR: Fully stripped with Heigo bolt-in rollcage, Recaro SPG seat with Sabelt four-point harness, AC Schnitzer steering wheel and pedal set, AC Schnitzer gear knob

    EXTERIOR: E36 M3 bumpers and side skirts, carbon fibre bonnet, AC Schnitzer mirrors, Hamann STW rear spoiler with carbon fibre lip, Race Tech tow ring

    The M40, although a willing comrade could not, without force induction at least, be pushed a millimetre further. As sad as it was, Chris knew he had to move on
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    REVO A3 Savage, Stage 4 2.0 TFSI / REVO A3 TRACK CAR

    Revo Technik prove that a regular A3 2.0 TFSI can be taken to Stage 4, to create a reliable and seriously fun track car. Words Davy Lewis. Photography AJ Walker.

    Those of you who have been with us from the start, may recall we introduced Revo’s stock looking A3 in our Projects section back in issue 001. The silver, three-door 2.0 TFSI quattro was pretty unremarkable, and looked a bit lost amongst some big-power RS models. But, I had a sneaking suspicion that this humble A3 was going to become something rather special...

    the #Revo-Technik always run a fleet of the latest Audis, which are central to their development work (it just so happens they’re also great fun – perks of the job I guess!). But with access to a 550bhp S7, 400bhp S3 saloon, a 470bhp S5, and an SQ5, plus plenty of other cool cars, what on earth made them buy a #2005 A3?

    “Whilst all our cars are developed to perform, our demo fleet has always consisted of the latest and greatest Audis. There’s a high value in them and we’ve always been precious about who drives them,” says MD, Mark Yates. “We wanted to build a car all our staff could have a go in; something not so elitist that a wider audience could relate to but, more importantly, something that could showcase the potential of Revo products on what could be classed as an underdog platform.”

    It would give them something on which to demonstrate their range of tuning products, and prove that a regular Audi, like an A3 2.0 TFSI, could be tuned to Stage 4 to create a reliable and fun car. An 8P A3 made sense on many levels. For starters they’re a lot cheaper than an S3 – you can pick one up from around £4k as opposed to £10k+ for a decent, early S3. Okay, it makes do with 197bhp compared with the S3’s 261bhp, but with plans to rebuild the engine with a big turbo anyway, that wasn’t an issue. It’s a quattro, so there’s no problem with traction. And there are plenty around. “We always planned to strip it back to a bare shell so we could fit a multi-point roll cage,” says Revo’s Kev Hall, “So luxuries like electric leather seats, Bose audio and the other S3 goodies would’ve been wasted on this car.”

    The build itself has taken the best part of a year. That’s mainly because the guys have been so busy taking the company forward – there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to work on the A3, too. But, over the last couple of months, it’s really started to come together. It is however very different to how it began.

    The 2005 2.0 TFSI quattro was picked up for around £4,500. It had a decent spec, with leather seats etc, which were soon removed. The engine came out and the stripped out car was sent off to have a full FIA-approved roll cage fitted. The only interior bits left were the main part of the dash and some of the centre console. Everything else had been removed, including the surprisingly heavy sound deadening. The beauty of working in the vibrant #UK #VAG tuning scene was that Revo had no shortage of top line partners to turn to for upgrades.

    While the rolling shell was being worked on, the guys got busy with the engine build. Having initially planned to create a blog to show people how to take a stock car like this all the way to Stage 4 or 5, they realised the turbo on the 100k-miler was in poor shape. So they jumped straight to a Stage 3 K04 setup and then on to Stage 4 with the GTX3071.

    The engine was rebuilt using forged internals to prepare for its life of hard track use. This would also allow some big boost to be applied without the rods and pistons trying to make a bid for freedom from the block. You can see the detailed spec on the final page of the feature, but the focus has been on creating decent power while maintaining reliability. Keeping the charge temps down was a vital part of this, so the large Revo front mount intercooler plays a pivotal role in things. It reduces inlet temps by up to 35 percent.

    For the large GTX3071 to do its job effectively, the exhaust needed upgrading. Scorpion came to the rescue with a 3in turboback system. With the all important downpipe now far less restrictive, the 2.0 TFSI could breath more effectively. The system currently runs two boxes to keep the noise as low as possible to avoid failing any circuit noise tests. A down-turned tailpipe also helps to filter the sound more effectively.

    Peak power figures are great and it’s the thing people always get hung up about, but a big peak power figure is largely useless if it’s only accessible in the outer reaches of the powerband. So Revo have developed their Stage 4 software to offer bundles of usable torque throughout the rev range. Being fully in control of everything the engine is capable of doing, lets them get the most out of the car. It may be a track machine, but as it’s road legal and the setup is so flexible, you could still pop to the shops in it – if you really wanted to. As most Revo customers want tuning solutions for their road cars, it had to be this way.

    Our man, Adam Walker, road shotgun for some fast laps around Bedford Autodrome and called me straight afterwards to say it’s one of the quickest cars he’s been out in. Considering he spends his time shooting RS6s and the like, often with over 700bhp, this is impressive. Of course part of the reason this thing feels so rapid is the no compromise way it does its job. You can hammer it into a turn, braking incredibly late – then turn in and get back on the power to exit in rapid fashion. The grip is immense and you can really feel the g-forces at work as the A3 does its thing. It’s here that you’re glad of the Cobra seats and harnesses, which prevent passengers from eating the dashboard and allow the driver to stay firmly supported through some rapid changes of direction.

    Inside, all creature comforts have been removed. But then this was always intended to be an out-and-out track car. As you’d expect, with no sound deadening or trim to insulate you from the vibration and noise, plus those polycarbonate windows, it is quite lively inside – especially when you provoke that 480whp lump! With the glass removed, along with all of the interior trim, I’d estimate that well over 150kg has been saved, although bear in mind a fair amount has also been added with the installation of the multipoint roll cage.

    The main part of the dash has been left in tact, although it has been cut to allow the cage to be properly fitted (no dash dodger efforts here!) The centre console now featured a custom panel which houses a smattering of gauges from Demon Tweeks. These include essential engine health monitors such as EGT, air fuel ratio and oil temp.

    A competent chassis is a basic prerequisite for any track car. You can have all the power in the world, but if you can’t use it effectively because the brakes, suspension and tyres aren’t up to the job, then it’s pointless.

    The Bilstein Clubsport coilovers provide a multitude of adjustability for both bump and rebound (as well as height of course) to get the perfect set up for track. For a car with less weight and the possibility of running slicks at some stage, the Clubsports allow all of these variables to be taken into consideration. With adjustable top mounts, the camber can also be fine tuned to get the front end dialled in. Some negative camber is key to this A3’s keen turn in which also offers staggering levels of grip. This is due in part to the Wavetrack differential which helps to maintain traction, even in the tight turns. Eibach provided uprated anti-roll bars front and rear, which really do come into their own on track. This thing has practically no pitch or body roll, thanks to this highly effective set up. The next chassis upgrade was a set of Powerflex Black Series poly bushes. On a ten year old car, the stock bushes are bound to be past their best, leading to play in suspension and steering components. The Black Series kit has been developed for track and firms everything up. This gives a very tight and direct feel to the handling.

    When it came to the outside, Revo wanted a more aggressive look – but it had to be functional. The RS3-style front bumper certainly does the trick, and together with the honeycomb grille also helps airflow to the engine. With Revo’s own light weight 8x19in RV019 wheels fitted, the front arches would have needed some work, plus the RS3-style front bumper was designed to fit wide arches, so a set of fatter arches were also added. The car is essentially finished now. All that’s left to do is find some time and decent weather to go and lay down some performance times.

    Of course, you don’t have to go to the extent that Revo has with their stunning creation. You could use some of the upgrades to create a highly competent and fun road car that can also be used for the odd track thrash. And with A3 2.0 TFSIs starting at around £3k, building an S3-beater needn’t brake the bank either. Just go and see team Revo...

    SPECIFICATION #Audi-A3-2.0TFSI-Quattro / #2005 / #Audi-A3 / #Audi / #Audi-A3 / #Garrett / #Audi-A3-8P / #Quattro / #Audi-A3-2.0TFSI-Quattro-8P / #REVO-A3-Savage / #Revo /

    Engine 2.0 TFSI, #Garrett-GTX3071R , #Revo built engine using #Carrillo rods and pistons, #Scorpion turbo-back exhaust with down turned tailpipe, Revo Intake kit, Revo runner flap delete kit, #HPFP and upgraded RS4 injectors, TT RS low pressure fuel pump, TT RS fuel pump ECU, Revo catch can kit, Revo boost tap kit, Revo throttle pipe, Revo engine mounts, #Forge-Motorsport silicone hose kit, Revo FMIC, #NGK Spark plugs BKR8EIX, AEM water/meth injection.

    Power 480-485bhp (at the wheels) and 550-580Nm

    Suspension #Bilstein Clubsport coilovers, #Eibach ARBs front and rear, Powerflex Black Series bushes, Wavetrack LSD, uprated clutch and flywheel.

    Brakes Revo/Alcon big brake kit Wheels and Tyres Revo RV019 alloys in gloss black with Dunlop Sportmaxx.

    Interior Fully stripped out, including sound deadening, with only top of dash remaining, Custom Cages FIA/MSA-spec welded-in roll cage, bespoke Cobra Suzuka Pro GT seats, bespoke Cobra harness and pad kit, flocked door cards with red door pulls, gauges (boost/EGT/OT/AFR) in custom flocked panel, fire extinguisher kit, Sparco steering wheel, battery, DV+ supplied by #Demon-Tweeks , AEM water meth kit.

    Exterior RS3 style front bumper and grille, RS3 style rear bumper with gloss black rear diffuser, Plastics4Performance polycarbonate side and rear windows, custom gloss red wrap with Revo graphics, black Audi rings, Revo badge, rear wiper delete, gloss black rear spoiler.

    Thanks Revo’s master tech/racecar engineer Kev Brown for building the beast. Our partners/suppliers: Bilstein, Cobra, Demontweeks, Dunlop, Eibach, Forge, Meguiars, Powerflex, Scorpion, Wavetrack and special thanks to Revo MD Mark Yates for instigating the project and driving it with his enthusiasm and wealth of motorsport knowledge.

    Top Revo’s Paul Farenden was test pilot for the shoot.

    Top: Only the dash remains inside Above right: Cobra seats and harnesses with Revo branding Facing page: The 2.0 TFSI is running Stage 4 and over 480bhp at the wheels.

    Facing page top Revo RV019 wheels and big brakes Left: Fully committed on track at Bedford Above: Final checks before the track session Above right: The FIA multi-point roll cage.

    Top: The Revo A3 is a monster on track.


    Huge thanks to Bedford Autodrome, Motorsport Vision and also MSV Trackdays for allowing us to shoot the A3 at one of their events. If you haven’t been, Bedford is a fantastic venue with a huge amount of run off, allowing you to really push your car to the limit. MSV Trackdays run events at many circuits, which is a great way to spend a day. Head to
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    MAXIMUM ATTACK! KW’s S1 Clubsport takes on the Nürburgring / #Audi-A1 / #Audi-S1 / #Audi /
    COVER STORY KW’s S1 Clubsport at the #Nürburgring

    CLUB CLASSIC Words Davy Lewis Photography Mark Riccioni

    KW Automotive tuned this 2015 #Audi-S1-Quattro to show what can be achieved with their track day-focused Clubsport coilover system.

    The #Nürburgring #Nordschleife is an unforgiving beast. Over 13 miles of unforgiving tarmac that snakes its way through the verdant Eifel forest; it really does take no prisoners. A lap that begins in sunlight may turn to rain, fog or even snow by the time you’re halfway around. It is not a place for the faint-hearted. But therein lies its appeal.

    The very nature of this ultimate ‘toll road’ means it attracts many thousands of visitors. From seasoned drivers keen to enjoy every twist and turn as they chase a Bridge to Gantry time; to beginners taking it steady, happy just to be at this legendary circuit; its appeal is enduring.

    The brutal nature of the Nordschleife means that is has become the place to test cars. It’s not surprising, then, that manufacturers queue up to test their top secret new models here. You can see the heavily disguised mules being flung around by expert test drivers – if a car can perform well in this hostile environment, it will perform well anywhere.

    It’s for this very reason that KW Automotive, one of the world’s most respected suspension manufacturers has a base here. Consequently, the UK arm of the business run by MD, Richard Good, spends a lot of time out here. So when their latest project S1 needed a full shakedown, the KW team headed to the Ring.

    The car itself was purchased with a plan already in mind. “We wanted something to showcase the KW Clubsport range of coilovers,” says MD, Richard. “We’ve shown what our Variant 2 and 3 kits can do, but not really pushed the Clubsport range,” he adds. “Part of the challenge is making people aware of the differences between V3 and Clubsport. If you buy an S3 for example, a lot of people want to add some power, an exhaust and lower it. They want something that’s good for daily use and the occasional track outing. The Variant 3 is perfect for this,” he continues. “But, as soon as you get more serious; take out some weight; add semi-slicks etc, the Variant 3 is a bit soft.”

    After two years adapting Variant 3 kits for those that wanted firmer spring rates for track days, KW decided to create the Clubsport solution – specifically tailored to the track enthusiast who demands more. The challenge was getting the message across that the Clubsport kit is a more track-focused solution, but not at the expense of on-road comfort. And so project S1 was born.

    “We thought about a Porsche,” smiles Richard, “but they’re fast out of the box, so by adding our suspension, we’d just be making a fast car even faster.” The Audi on the other hand offered something else. “The S1 is okay in stock form but, for me, it’s a little boring,” admits Richard. Not to say that the baby quattro is a bad car. Far from it. I’ve driven several, including Revo’s 340bhp tuned example and it’s one of the most fun Audis I’ve ever driven. But, there’s the point – it’s been tuned. In standard trim they are a little safe; there’s so much more to be had.

    “We wanted to make the S1 more aggressive,” states Richard. If it was to showcase the Clubsport coilovers, it had to have the full Clubsport package in the same vein as the mighty Porsche GT3 RS – that meant bucket seats, a half-cage and, of course, semi-slicks. With a virgin white S1 quattro delivered, work began on upgrading it.

    As you’d expect, the first thing to do was get it to KW’s local track, Brands Hatch, to give it a shakedown. After all, it’s hard to measure improvement if you don’t have a stock car to compare it with. KW’s resident test driver, Marc Kemp, was drafted in to put the little Audi through its paces. As a professional instructor and Time Attack driver, he’s also a Ring veteran with well over 1000 laps under his belt. It’s safe to say the man can pedal a bit.

    Unsurprisingly for a stock road car, the limits were soon reached and it was clear that huge improvements could be made with suspension upgrades (a tendency to under steer and a lack of willingness to turn in being the main issues.)

    The S1 was rolled into KW’s workshop to have the Clubsport kit fitted up. The coilovers are fully adjustable for height, plus bump and rebound, and can be spec’d with adjustable top mounts for that extra fine tuning of the suspension geometry – essential to create a capable track car. This would allow the toe and castor to be tweaked for that crisp and predictable turn in.

    “With the first test Clubsport kit fitted, I thought it felt great,” comments Richard, but test driver Marc spotted a couple of flaws at Brands Hatch. “Coming into a dip, the rear springs compressed so much that the rear wheel was in the arch – it wasn’t stiff enough under extreme conditions.” KW decided they needed to find a better balance. “We also found that if the rear end squats to a certain point, it trips a sensor and the ECU puts the car into limp mode – not what you want on track!” he laughs. “It’s things like this that you can only find out by testing things properly on track.” With a list of improvements noted, Richard, Marc and the team headed out to the Nürburgring. The first stop was KW’s partners, Raeder Motorsport. Here technician, Christoph, was tasked with carrying out the adjustments they wanted, which included firmer front and rear spring rates, plus adjustments to the toe, castor and a full corner weight set-up. All of this took a full day; then it was time to test it on track.

    With over 1000 laps behind him, Marc Kemp knows every inch of the Nordschleife and he wasted no time in putting the S1 through it paces. “We joined an RMA track day,” recalls Richard, “it was full of high-end cars with well-heeled owners, and they were all amazed by the little Audi,” he smiles. “We had people coming over to say how impressed they were and wanting to find out what we’d done to the suspension.” The fact Marc was able to leave cars with much more power behind in the turns, demonstrated how well set up it had been. “They caught up with us on the straights, but once into the turns, we could brake later and turn in much harder; leaving them behind again.”

    The revisions that had been suggested at Brands Hatch had now been fully proven on the most demanding track in the world. Of course, with the suspension set-up nailed, the rest of the car couldn’t be left stock. Cobra supplied a bespoke set of their latest seats, complete with KW logos and custom sub frames, to get them sitting nice and low (when your test driver is 6ft 5in, things like this matter!) The rear seats have been trimmed to match and Cobra went the extra mile by treating the gear and hand brake gaiters, together with the door cards to Alcantara with contrasting red stitching. It really does look like an OEM factory special. The final interior touch is a half-roll cage. It was designed and fitted by German company, Wiechers, who specialise in prototype cars; in fact they built the roll cage fitted to Audi’s very own TT Clubsport Turbo (featured in AT issue 006). It uses the seatbelt mounting points to create a truly bolt-in affair that can be easily removed. Although this S1 is very much about showcasing what can be achieved with the Clubsport suspension, there was no way the engine was going to be left stock. The 2.0 TFSI unit kicks out a healthy 228bhp from standard, but there’s a lot more to be had with some simple upgrades.

    Revo were chosen to supply a custom map, and there’s a full Scorpion exhaust fitted. The turbo back exhaust includes a sports cat and some purposeful looking quad oval tailpipes. Together with a Revo carbon air intake, power is around 320bhp with over 360lb/ ft of torque. That may not sound huge, but bear in mind this is in an extremely well set-up car. The engine and chassis upgrades combine to create a devastatingly capable package on the road or on track days. As race instructor Marc Kemp says, “I was very surprised; I didn’t expect it to do what it did. You [Richard] must be very pleased with that.”

    And there we have it. KW’s S1 quattro Clubsport is a little monster. Look out for it at track events this year and see it at our new indoor event, #VAG Tuner Expo on 25 October.

    KW’S PARTNERS KW would like to say a big thank you to all their industry partners that helped to create this project: Cobra Revo HEL Toyo Scorpion Wiechers Raeder Motorsport OZ Wheels RMA Track Days

    Above: Test driver Marc Kemp rocking some cool shades..

    SPECIFICATION #2015 #Audi-S1-Quattro-Clubsport

    Engine 2.0 TFSI, Revo custom ECU software, #Scorpion turbo back exhaust system with quad oval tailpipes and sports cat, #Revo carbon fibre intake
    Power 320bhp and 360lb/ft
    Transmission 6-speed manual, stock clutch (for now)
    Brakes OEM discs with Pagid RS Yellow pads, HEL lines, Castrol race fluid
    Suspension #KW-Clubsport coilovers with adjustable top mounts, geometry fully setup and corner weighted by #Raeder-Motorsport
    Wheels and Tyres White #OZ multi-spoke alloys in 8x17in with Toyo R888 semi-slick tyres
    Exterior 3-door Audi S1 quattro in Ibis white with #KW logos
    Interior Bespoke Cobra bucket seats with harnesses, rear seats trimmed to match, Wiechers custom half roll cage, Alcantara door cards and gear/handbrake gaiters with red stitching
    Tuning contacts KW Automotive
    Thanks to Ben and Mark at SceneMedia for all their help with the feature


    KW Clubsport coilovers have been designed to offer race car technology for the road and track day use. Think of the Variant 3 for the average guy with a mildly tuned Audi and Clubsport for someone that intends to drive harder and use their car more on track; but the Clubsport package still offers comfort and compliance for the road. There are a multitude of settings and adjustments available with the 2-way Clubsport – 16 clicks of rebound and 12 clicks of bump, so the perfect set up can be achieved according to your driving style. If you’re reducing the weight or adding different wheels and tyres, it allows a bespoke set up to be achieved. Adjustable top mounts are available for even more fine tuning of the castor and camber (dependant on model) to dial in that turn in. KW Clubsport is a very well made and easy to adjust system.

    Far left: The KW test base left: Marc Kemp puts the S1 through it paces


    The Ring is the most infamous track on earth. This 13+mile test of car and driver is unique in that it’s the longest circuit in the world, as well as technically a public toll road. You pay your entrance fee, then off you go for your lap.

    The ageing surface and undulating geography is key to its character. Unlike glass-smooth modern race tracks, the Ring can and does catch people out. It’s for this reason that companies such as KW have test bases here, to put their products through rigorous testing. If something performs well here, it’ll perform well anywhere.

    “We wanted to make the S1 more aggressive”
    ‏ — at Nordschleife, 68642 Bürstadt, Germany
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    One of the most spectacular builds we’ve seen in a long time, this #BMW-M135i is quite unlike anything else. Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: Henry Phull @ Slam Sanctuary

    When Bruce Gowans said he had plans for his M135, he wasn’t lying. A year ago, this car was candy red with a modest boot build and Watercooled Industry wheels and now, well, it’s pretty much unrecognisable. There’s modifying your car and then there’s forging ahead with an absolute vision that’s uncompromised and single-minded in its intent. This car is what happens when someone makes that vision a reality.

    There is no typical modified BMW owner, and Bruce certainly fits into that non-box of atypicality. He is of the ‘older’ generation, shall we say, and resides in a tiny village in the heart of the Bedfordshire countryside, a million miles away from the frenetic and eclectic world that is the modified BMW scene. But this mechanical engineer has a heart that pumps pure petrol and has spent his entire life flitting from modified car to modified car, with an underlying appreciation for BMW but never the opportunity to indulge that interest in Bavarian metal until he acquired this M135i. “I’ve been interested in BMWs ever since I was a lad and grew up into a petrolhead! I’ve been a fan since the first E30 M3 and seeing an E9 coupé on neighbour’s drive when I walked to school and thinking how cool it looked. I bought the M135i, my first BMW, for its ‘performance for the price’ factor and because the drivetrain, the engine and the transmission are such a great combination in this vehicle. I bought it brand-new in 2013 and was going to keep it stock…”

    “Both Shakey and I thought that translating this design into a vinyl wrap would be a nigh-on impossible task”

    Digital audio explained:

    “The system in this car was spec’d to accommodate Bruce’s passion for high resolution audio. It’s cutting edge in the fact it can play any file format he wants and samples up to 196khz with bit depths of up to 24-bit. When you consider a CD (still reference in so many studios) samples at 44.1khz at 16-bit, that’s a huge amount more information. Of course, all of the car’s OEM equipment and functionality is retained and played through the new system alongside solid state hard drives, wireless streaming and various other inputs.”
    Carl Shakespeare, Director, Studio Incar

    Clearly that didn’t happen. It seems like the car was stock for all of five minutes before Bruce had started tinkering and while the mods started off sensibly and in a restrained manner, once the momentum began to build there was clearly no stopping Bruce (or the M135i). “The first mod was to get a new exhaust developed and fitted by Scorpion Exhausts. Then Luke and the guys at Plush supplied and fitted the air-ride, sourcing components from AirREX and an eLevel system from Accuair. This was closely followed by a carbon-fibre front splitter from SSDD,” he says. “Spring 2014 brought a change in colour, with a candy red colour wrap from Avery called True Blood.

    New MD1 wheels from Watercooled Industries were added, closely followed by a Juice Box 4 (JB4) piggyback ECU from Burger Motorsports and a decat downpipe which were fitted at #Performance-Developments in Sunderland. The car went to #Forge-Motorsport in #Gloucester to have one of its high-performance intercoolers fitted, along with one of its dump valves.” With all those mods on board, it made 400hp and 450lb ft of torque on the dyno and considering how blisteringly quick the standard M135i is, that’s going to be more than enough power to keep Bruce happy. “After having the traction control kick in once too often, I took the decision to fit a limited-slip diff to the car. Options were thin on the ground for this platform but Birds in Iver, Buckinghamshire developed a Quaife ATB for it, which has made a massive difference to the way the car drives.”

    And that is where the story would end for most people. A dramatic wrap, some exceedingly nice wheels, air-ride and some performance mods. A fine selection of upgrades. Job done. But that’s not where this story ends, as you can clearly see. “At the end of 2014 I planned to make some big changes to the car and started speaking to Carl Shakespeare at Studio Incar about my plans,” he explains. “We discussed my ideas for a rear-seat delete and a high-end audio installation and things just got out of hand. I had already decided to try and get a BTCC body kit. I contacted West Surrey Racing and negotiated with the guys there to buy a genuine race car kit from their 2014/15 BMW 1 Series race car. However, fitting it proved more difficult than you might think! The BTCC cars have front and rear subframes and crash structures that are specified by TOCA and these also provide mounting points for the front and rear body panels. These didn’t match up with the mounting and fixing points that BMW specify! It required the rear wings to be cut and tubbed – scary stuff! Luckily, Stylehaus in Northampton has some serious skills and brought the whole thing together.

    “Shakey project managed the whole build with input from me, like my suggestion for the triple tank setup. Once the car was back from the bodyshop, and with a little bit of extra fettling by Fibreglass Phil in Kent (the manufacturer of the BTCC kit), the audio and air install could begin in earnest.” With a bit of direction from Bruce, Shakey was free to run riot inside the M135i. The end result is an interior that feels like it’s very much been built around the air and audio and one look inside leaves you in no doubt that this car’s main purpose is to astound. The rear seats have been removed completely, replaced by the awesome triple floating tank setup that looks like a spaceship, illuminated from above and hovering over the massive 15” Hertz Mille sub which forms part of the incredibly high-end digital audio install, while the rear load space is home to the three Audison amps, on display in a beautifully designed enclosure. There’s acres of Alcantara in here, which reaches up to cover the roof lining as well, while some extremely sexy custom door pods are home to Hertz Mille speakers. Finally, a custom panel in the centre console (also trimmed in Alcantara) houses the controllers for the audio system and the air suspension. It’s one of the most spectacular, special and perfectly-executed builds we’ve ever seen and it’s nothing short of a work of art.

    With such a spectacular build going on, the right wheels were going to be absolutely essential and Bruce was keen to move away from the usual suspects, like BBS and Rotiform, and try something different. “I had been in touch with Brada wheels in the States for a year or so, originally to try and get some wheels for my GT3,” he says. “I spoke to Zane and we agreed a design and spec for the wheels that were destined to go on the BMW. However, because the car was away having the body kit fitted, Shakey and I could only make an educated guess as to what the exact widths and offsets of the wheels would be, with us only knowing what the overall width of the BTCC car is and working back from those dimensions…” It can be hard enough to work out your exact wheel specs when you’ve got your car in front of you so this was most definitely a risky strategy but it worked and the resulting wheels are the perfect fit for the M135i. Bruce opted for Brada’s BR1 crossspokes with gloss black centres, matt black lips and stainless steel bolts in 9.5x19” at the front and 10.5x19” at the rear, the fitment perfect for tucking the wheels under the massive arches when the car is aired out.

    In terms of styling, the kit alone wasn’t enough for Bruce and he decided to take things to the next level. “The wrap design wasn’t established until quite late in the build. I have always been a fan of the BMW Art Car projects but picking a design to base the wrap for the M135i was tricky. Several of the Art Cars are ‘challenging’, to say the least,” he laughs, “but this Frank Stella design from 1976 was selected – it appealed to my inner engineer! Both Shakey and I thought that translating this design into a vinyl wrap would be a nigh-on impossible task, since the original consisted of lots of parallel horizontal and vertical lines; the hardest thing to do with vinyl wrap… Carl contacted JD Wraps in Essex and a deal was struck. When I collected the car a week later I was amazed. The guys had done an awesome job.” The combination of kit and wrap is one that is both single-handedly responsible for the utterly insane amount of attention this car garners but is also the most polarising aspect of the whole project. Some people love the wrap but hate the kit. Some people hate the kit but love the wrap. Some people hate them both. And some people like everything that this car has got going on! However you feel, it’s a talking point and gets the car noticed. Bruce loves it, however, which ultimately is the most important thing.

    Amazingly, all this work took just six months, really not long at all considering just how much has gone into the build and how complete the transformation has been. Bruce chose the Players Classic show for the car’s unveiling. It got as much attention as you’d expect and the sort of reactions you’d expect. “It seems to be very much a ‘Marmite’ car!” Bruce tells us. More importantly, though, he can now sit back and actually enjoy the car. Beyond the looks and the next-level interior, he’s got a fast, powerful car that’s great to drive, with an incredible sound system. It’s a package that just begs to be taken out on the road and enjoyed and, in fact, that’s now his only plan for the future.

    DATA FILE #2015 #BMW-M135i-F21 / #BMW-M135i / #BMW-F21 / #BMW / #Brada-BR1

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six turbo #N55B30 / #N55 , JB4 piggyback ECU from #Burger-Motorsport , #Scorpion full exhaust including a decat downpipe, #Forge / #Forge-FMIC / , #Forge-DV , stock #ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox #ZF8HP , #Quaife ATB LSD from #Birds

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #Brada BR1 three-piece wheels with gloss black lips, matt black faces and stainless hardware, with 235/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) #Goodyear Eagle Asymmetric 2 tyres, #AirREX air-ride and Accuair eLevel management

    EXTERIOR #BMW-M-Performance carbon fibre wing mirror shells, #BMW M Performance black front grilles, #BTCC body kit from WSR, Art Car wrap by #JD-Wraps

    INTERIOR Interior by #Studio-Incar , full digital audio install comprising Audison AV Quattro amp x2, Audison AV Uno amp, Audison bit Ten D processor, #Audison bit Play HD source, #Hertz-Mille three-way front end, Hertz Mille 15” sub, rear seat delete, custom air installation, Alcantara roof lining, integrated audio and suspension controllers built in to the centre console

    THANKS Studio Incar and Shakey in particular for handling this project and for keeping my spirits up when I needed it, Zane and Jacob at Brada, Myles and Chris at Brada UK, Fibreglass Phil, Scorpion Exhausts, Forge Motorsport, the guys at Stylehaus, Luke Massy, Phil James, Kat and the team at JD Wraps, Voodoo Elie for getting me out of a tricky situation, and last but not least, Ed Hamilton at JK Engineering for being a great friend, being just as daft as me and as big a petrolhead as me!
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