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    HARDCORE S54 E30 Thunder from Down Under

    SKIN DEEP #S54-swapped E30. Words and photos: Chris Nicholls. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and Andrew Burke’s home-built, DIY-painted E30 is exactly the reason why.

    “Why are you shooting that little thing?” says a passer-by during the shoot. I casually pop the bonnet and see his eyes widen. “Jeez, there’s some work gone into that,” he says, before firing off a few photos on his phone and walking away. This sort of thing happens several more times during the shoot and it’s easy to understand why.

    From a distance, this is just another E30 track car. The matt black paint, done as a last resort after troubles with the painter, is hardly the last word in beauty and the stock M Tech II body kit isn’t going to set anyone’s world alight either. No, things only get interesting when you get close. It’s then that you see the custom Forgeline wheels and fat, circle-track StopTechs and imperial-sized AP Racing J-hook discs (chosen because imperial gear is cheaper than metric). Next, you peek inside and notice the #Motec M800 ECU sitting on a custom carbon plate on the floor. And the oil lines for the Peterson dry sump kit running next to it. And the Motec C127 colour dash logger and Tilton pedals. It just doesn’t stop. Finally, you pop that aforementioned bonnet and see the immaculate S54 with carbon cover and CSLreplica intake nestled in-between the strut towers, surrounded by Goodridge Teflon hoses and a Peterson oil pressure primer pump. If ever there was a car to prove that sometimes, the opposite of the idiom ‘beauty is only skin deep’ applies, this is it.

    The back story of this Australian E30, as you might suspect given the engineering involved, started several years ago (six to be precise) when owner-builder Andrew Burke picked up this 325is to be a street-registered track day build. Having got tired of risking his E92 335i road car on the track, he thought back to a 1989 E30 brochure he got as a kid and decided that would be a better bet. As most builds do, things started off small. Some H&R springs and Bilstein Sport dampers, rebuilt stock brakes and bolton exhaust, a short shifter and new Recaros did the trick for six months, but one track day at the wonderfully nicknamed Haunted Hills circuit (actually Bryant Park) in his home state of Victoria, Andrew noticed puffs of blue smoke on overrun thanks to some keen-eyed photographers. “That was all the excuse I needed to go ‘Oh, this motor could potentially have some kind of small issue in the next three, six, nine, 12 years, I should probably just swap the engine out right now’” he laughs.

    Thus began a long and involved process of finding and fitting a new motor. Having decided a resto-mod approach was best, he settled on an S50 and sourced one from the UK, but all was not well. “As all UK motors are, it was covered in corrosion, all the aluminium bits were all pitted from the salt and whatever other calamities occur over there in the middle of winter, so I didn’t do a whole lot with it other than strip it down to a short block and basically sand blast all the things,” Andrew says. Having cleaned it up, he found it still good enough to use, so left it standard internally and got to work fitting it. On went an E34 sump and 12° angled double-shear shift rod to get the now-twisted stock G250 five-speed to work with the AKG DTM shifter, some custom-made exhaust manifolds from Andrew Nicholls at Meridian Motorsport and a VFT E36 DTM-style carbon air box specifically designed to fi t S50s in E30s thanks to a notch cut into the back to clear the brake booster. To ensure that it all ran, Andrew cut and re-connected the stock harness himself and fitted an Alpha N ECU chip.

    However, while he may have cleaned it up, it turned out the engine’s not-so-perfect appearance was rather more indicative of its condition than first thought and sure enough, the number five journal went at a Winton Raceway track day in true S50 style. “A $350 tow truck ride home later [Andrew not having a trailer at the time and Winton being two hours from central Melbourne] we were sitting in the garage, the old man and I, saying ‘Well, we’re going to have to fix it, I guess’”. Andrew admits that even at that point, the idea of fitting an S54 came into his head, but he wasn’t quite ready to quit on the idea of an S50-engined E30 yet, especially having done so much work to make it fit.

    Thus, he decided that, rather than throw everything away, he would build a proper race-spec S50 and see what happened. Sadly, it’s here that Andrew suffered the all-too-common “bad workshop experience.”

    After searching around for a well-regarded builder, he thought he’d found one in a former Team JPS BMW factory race engineer in New South Wales, but while the specs were suitably serious, complete with 11.6:1 Wossner pistons, Pauter I-beam rods, 296° cams, Supertec Inconel valves and the current Peterson dry-sump system (designed to avoid ever spinning a bearing again), it “never made any real power.” “Without going into too much detail, it just fell on its face above 6000rpm,” he says. Worse still, it didn’t even last that long. A mere 500km of track work later and Andrew was sitting on the side of the Winton tarmac with two holes in the block from a rod and rod bolt respectively, oil pouring out everywhere and his car partially in flames thanks to starting a grass fire underneath it. The worst part? A postmortem found the likely cause to be poor assembly.

    “As I pulled the bits off the motor so I could get it out of the chassis, I found one of the ARP rod bolts was poking through the block on the exhaust side. I didn’t see it originally as a result, but it was poking through with all of its threads still intact. So it was not like the bolt snapped – it was like it completely unscrewed itself – and I can’t imagine a bolt that’s designed to be torqued to yield, if it was properly fastened, would have come undone. End of story. So that was that, which was a bit unfortunate.”

    Unfortunate indeed, and at around AU$30,000 (£17,000) for the engine, expensive. Andrew adds that figure doesn’t even include the cost of ancillaries fitted to deal with the extra power, the current 8x17” Forgelines, the previous SL6R and SL4R Wilwood calipers and discs (since replaced by the StopTechs because Andrew bought another road/track E30 he wanted to put those on), the custom-built AST two-way adjustable coilovers (again, since replaced by custom MCS two-ways) and several other mods besides. However, Andrew wasn’t prepared to throw it all away, so after convincing his wife he “wasn’t silly,” he pulled the trigger on a mint S54 with just 18,000 miles on it out of a wrecked Californian Z4 M.

    Being so new and from California, this motor was in stunning shape. There was no dust behind the water pump or alternator pulleys and even the internals, which Andrew inspected when he pulled off the sump to fit the Moroso dry sump pan, were unvarnished.

    Given he had no money to put new internals in it, this worked out perfectly. Plus, the S54 made more power stock than his built S50 anyway, so in it went, with only a Karbonius CSL-replica air box – fitted because the StopTechs meant he no longer needed the booster – a Racing Dynamics carbon engine cover, new custom exhaust manifolds (again from Andrew from Meridian, who by then had moved on to start his own venture called Trackart) and a few other mechanical pieces like an Eisenmann exhaust needed to make it work. At the same time, Andrew realised that to actually run the thing (especially given he was keeping Vanos and drive-by-wire), he would need to upgrade his dash from a set of Stack gauges to a Motec logger to ensure the necessary input and output numbers, and after contacting Jason Ingram at Advanced Motorsport Electrics to do the concentrically-wound, DR25 heat-shrunk harness and install it, he got it tuned by Lee at Melbourne Performance Centre and brought it up to Broadford State Motorcycle Centre for a shakedown, which is where we did the shoot.

    His impressions of the car now it’s finished (bar a cage)? “I was thrilled with the way that it handled and the way that it stopped even back when it had the second S50… but I was deeply disappointed on some level that it didn’t make as much power as I was expecting. It was certainly fast enough, but it never felt brutal, I guess. Whereas the S54 is still not crazy by any means, it just feels a lot more angry. It feels significantly more powerful.” Given this first shakedown was conducted at only half-throttle, that’s a brilliant portent and suggests that when this E30 is finally unleashed, its unassuming looks, combined with all that power and handling, will mean the opposition won’t see it coming.

    “If ever there was a car to prove that sometimes, the opposite of the idiom ‘beauty is only skin deep’ applies, this is it”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #S54 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-E30-S54 / #BMW-S54 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E30 / #Bosch / #BMW-E30-S54B32

    ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 , #Karbonius CSL-replica dry carbon air box, #K&N air filter, #Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, #Aftermarket Industries swirl pot, #MagnaFuel dry break billet fuel filters, #NGK-Platinum plugs, Setrab 19-row oil cooler with -16 fittings, Roush Yates carbon catch can, Peterson R4 dry sump pump, #VAC-Motorsports mount kit, #C&V HTD belt drive with VAC/ATI fluid harmonic balancer, -16 feed and return oil hoses, -12 scavenge, #Peterson scavenge filters, -10 pressure feed to VAC Motorsports oil manifold, custom #Moroso dry sump oil pan, Peterson single-stage remote oil primer circuit, Peterson billet four-gallon dry sump tank with custom #CNC bracketing, dual breathers and 100 micron filter screen, Canton billet five micron oil filter on pressure stage, #C&R-Racing oil filter housing with provision for secondary oil cooler circuit in rear of car, #Wix-Racing 51222R filter, Goodridge XF 910 and Brown and Miller (BRMS) Teflon hoses, VAC-Motorsports lights, accessories and alternator pulleys, ATI damper by VAC Motorsports, AKG-Motorsport Group N engine mounts, #Racing-Dynamics dry carbon engine cover, Trackart custom equal-length exhaust manifolds and custom 2.5” exhaust, Eisenmann E36 M3 rear box, Motec-M800-ECU , #Motec SKN dual CAN knock module, Advanced Motorsport Electrics custom concentricwound wiring harness with Kevlar tracers, Raychem boots, Souriau and Autosport connectors

    TRANSMISSION #G250 five-speed manual gearbox, #AP-Racing 7.25” twin-plate clutch and lightened cro-mo flywheel from E36 M3 R, AKG DTM shifter, PPF axles, re-balanced OE driveshaft, OE diff with extra clutch packs, Z3 M housing, custom transmission mounts and subframe reinforcements


    CHASSIS 7.5x17” ET20 (front and rear) #Forgeline-SO3 wheels with 235/40 (front and rear) Nitto NT-01 tyres, VAC Motorsports 90mm studs, #Motorsport-Hardware cro-mo nuts, 3mm spacers (front), Motion Control Suspension custom two-way remote reservoir coilovers, #Eibach 60mm springs, AKG Motorsport polyurethane, #Treehouse-Racing and custom #Delrin bushes, custom Trackart T45-based cro-mo front strut brace, custom front arb and mounts, Dave Stillwell rear anti-roll bar with custom mounts and reinforcement, full Aurora rose joints, #StopTech STR43 calipers (front and rear), #AP-Racing J-hook fully-floating discs, custom Motorsport Connections Teflon braided lines, Performance Friction PFC01 pads (front and rear), custom-machined 7057 T6 rotor hats

    EXTERIOR OEM Tech II kit, custom bi-xenon headlights based on TRS projectors and 3D printed adaptors, rear lights lightly tinted with Diamond black

    INTERIOR #AKG-Motorsport Delrin shift knob, AKG Motorsport DTM shift lever and short-shift kit, Alcantara gear gaiter, #Tilton 600 Series pedals, Tilton -4 fluid tank, #Speedflow lines, Tilton billet brake bias adjuster, Tilton fluid bias and balance bar adjuster, #Motec C127 dash logger, Recaro SP-A Kevlar V8 Supercar special edition seat, VAC Motorsports billet rails, Sabelt Ultralight harnesses, Personal Grinta 330mm wheel, Lifeline Group N boss with custom spacer, custom carbon panel behind wheel for light controls, custom Trackart harness bar, custom aluminium scuff plates

    THANKS Andrew at Trackart for the exhaust, brake cooling duct, harness bar and strut bar fabrication work, Marcos at Motorsport Connections for the Speedflow bits and hoses, Jason Ingram at Advanced Motorsport Electrics for the incredible work on the harness and Lee Burley at Melbourne Performance Centre for the dyno tuning

    Carbon engine cover and replica CSL carbon air box make this S54 even sexier.

    Single Recaro SP-A Kevlar V8 Supercar special edition seat.

    “After convincing his wife he “wasn’t silly,” he pulled the trigger on a mint S54 with just 18,000 miles on it out of a wrecked Californian Z4 M”

    / #Motec-M800 ECU mounted on custom carbon plate.

    Swirl pot, pump and filters mounted in boot.
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    SUPERCHARGED E39 M5 Business class just got faster

    STRICTLY BUSINESS This executive saloon may look unassuming, but don’t be fooled, Matt Benson’s supercharged E39 M5 will easily cash any cheques your right foot can sign. Words and photos: Matt Petrie.

    Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an age-old adage instilled in us during our youth. While it is one of the earliest morals taught, it is too often forgotten as we grow old. Taking past experiences and using them to make prejudices towards a result which we expect to be true can get us into trouble and that is the case with Matt Benson’s E39. What looks to be a civilized saloon is in actuality a complete and utter lunatic. Don’t be fooled – this unapologetic M5 will leave you scratching your head when launching from a red light or as it commands curves, winding through the mountains.

    Maintaining a balance of ferocity and modesty is not an easy task and while on paper it might be contradictory, we assure you that Matt’s E39 M5 is a textbook example of a proper business saloon. The key to retaining modesty is doing without the wild colours, aggressive aero, and flashy wheels. Aesthetically, it has to be something to simply get you into work without being the topic of conversation among co-workers gathering around the water cooler. However, that commute to and from the office is a different, exhilarating story. In order to fully appreciate the final product, we need to briefly highlight the evolution of Matt’s mods and previous cars.

    Matt Benson has always had an affinity for V8 muscle and taking the more subtle approach is something of second nature for him. His first car was a Ford Mustang 5.0 LX “Fox body” which, in a sense, was a sleeper in its time compared to its sister version, the Mustang GT. He drove that LX into the ground with over 200,000 miles on the odometer. After many advancements up the automobile food chain, Matt traded some American torque for German refinement as he found himself in another V8, but this time in the form of a 2000 E39 540i Saloon.

    Though Matt was satisfied with the graduation to the European sports saloon and recognized it as a big improvement, the horsepower bug bit him hard. Dinan parts made their way all over the 540i to increase the performance in both the handling and the engine, pushing it to 350hp. Knowing his reasonable limitations had been met with the 540, yet still wanting more out of his car, Matt set his eyes on his current ride – this 2000 Carbon black on Caramel leather M5.

    He found this car over a decade ago, desirably, with one previous owner and only 13,000 miles logged. Immediately, the performance difference was prominent between the 540i and the M5; the torque off the line and the way the car hooked in the corners didn’t leave him with seller’s remorse over the 540i. While he was tacking on roughly 50,000 miles of his own back and forth to the office and on spirited drives, Matt was continuously adding mods to enhance the performance even further. As superior as he felt the car was in comparison to his previous cars, it wasn’t quite enough. Relentless and back with a vengeance, the mod bug bit hard this time, and it did not let go.

    Matt’s first modification to the M5 didn’t lead to horsepower gains per se. Back in 2005 he sourced a Dinan 3.55 differential and while it is one of the biggest improvements that you can make to a naturally aspirated car, ironically, it has nothing physically to do with the engine. Over the years it served its purpose, but as Matt says “I guess I modded a mod” and changed the rear end out to a 3.62. The tight gear ratio shifts the power band, launching the car and virtually making first gear useless in the best way possible. Surrounding the differential in the rear is a matching Dinan high performance exhaust, which flows out back from a Supersprint four-into-one stepped exhaust manifold system. Above the manifolds, under the bonnet, lies a Dinan cold air intake and Evolve Alpha-N tune with MAF delete and while this combination achieved Matt’s 450 horsepower goal, it was time to raise the bar yet again.

    Chasing greater horsepower and maximising the NA bolt-ons, he crossed the threshold into the forced induction world. Matt commissioned Autocouture Motoring in northern NJ, well-known for its work with BMW and supercharging the E9x platform specifically, to do the work. The team installed an ESS Tuning VT1-560 supercharger system along with an Aquamist meth injection kit. To handle the horsepower increase and fight the ravages of age, Autocouture also installed a Dinan subframe reinforcement kit at the same time as the performance upgrades. The combination of the Dinan differential chewing through first and second gear with the pull of the ESS supercharger and meth higher up the power band is a visceral experience that delivers an exceptional one-two punch.

    In fact, when Matt was asked what his favorite modification to the car has been, he responded happily, “I have two favourites, the first being the supercharger, which brought the biggest smile to my face, and second would be the shorter diff, it’s like a 50hp equivalent increase!”

    With all of this newly-added power he now addressed the other areas of importance: brakes and suspension. Matt went top shelf when choosing suspension, opting for the JRZ coilover kit and set the car up slightly lower than the stock ride height, maximising suspension travel and comfort while optimizing the performance that the JRZs offer. StopTech ST60/ST40 brakes at all four corners enhance the stopping power tremendously, with six-piston calipers up front and four-piston calipers in the rear, both sets finished in silver to keep the M5’s modified appearance at a minimum.

    Matt loved the car’s aesthetics, especially its finely crafted, unadulterated exterior however, he needed a wheel that would clear his brakes and be lighter in weight than stock, while still maintaining the M5’s factory appearance. Wanting to mimic the style of the OEM M5 wheel, Matt, along with the crew at ACM, carefully selected the HRE Classic 301 monoblocks. Taking it a step further, he went with HRE’s gorgeous, custom, hand-brushed finish with a darktinted clear coat, tying them in with BMW’s factory chrome shadow finish on the M5’s original wheels.

    This M5’s interior is straight out of a #BMW catalogue with the smooth caramel-coloured hide flowing from the seats onto the extended leather lower dashboard, with just the right amount of wood trim. Nothing is out of place nor unnecessarily added. Under close examination, only an aluminium pedal set and short shift kit can be spotted in here and even at that point the SSK is still capped off by the stock wood knob to maintain the factory look and feel. Matt was highly selective with every modification made to his M5, and held the highest of standards for how this on-going project was executed.

    “While the car is more than 16-years-old, it rivals anything on the road currently,” Matt says and we’d have to agree with him, it is completely relevant in every way to any of the European sports cars of today. The gentleman’s executive saloon is one that does not cry out for attention, but rather discretely delivers to those who know what they’re looking at. Each modification was carefully considered and completed with one goal in mind, which was to make the car perform at its full potential. His car takes everything that was incredible about the E39 M5 and sharpens it to to modern standards, making this one of the most fun cars you will ever drive.

    “Autocouture Motoring installed an #ESS-Tuning-VT1-560 supercharger system along with an Aquamist meth injection kit”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE Supercharged #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E39 / #BMW-M5-Supercharged / #BMW-M5-Supercharged-E39 / #ESS-VT1 / #ESS / #Vortech-V3 / #Vortech / #Howerton / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-E39 / #BMW / #ESS-Tuning

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 / #S62 / #BMW-S62 , Supersprint four-into-one exhaust manifolds, #ESS-VT1-560 #ESS-Supercharger kit with #Vortech-V3 supercharger, #Howerton-Aquamist-HFS-3 system, Dinan performance velocity stacks, #Dinan high-flow performance exhaust, high capacity electric fan, oil separators. Six-speed manual gearbox, #CNS-Racing 10.5 Kevlar clutch and dualmass flywheel, Dinan short shifter kit, 3.62 LSD with three clutch ramps and polished ring and pinion gears

    CHASSIS 8.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #HRE-301 monoblock wheels with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Continental tyres, Dinan subframe reinforcement kit, Dinan front tower strut brace, Dinan camber plates and monoball front ball joint kit, #JRZ-Stage-3 suspension system from Dinan, #Beast-Power heavy-duty anti-roll bar brackets, #StopTech-ST60 BBK with six-piston calipers and 355x32mm discs (front) and ST40 BBK with four-piston calipers and 355x32mm discs (rear)

    EXTERIOR Tinted windows, Depo angel eye upgrade kit, front lower bumper grille with aluminium mesh brake ducts

    INTERIOR Black carbon fibre trim, aluminium pedal set, widescreen nav upgrade

    THANKS Autocoulture Motoring (Tom Limatola, Sal Benanti, Matt Petrie and team) for bringing it to the next level, Northeast Motorsports (Mike O’Neill and team) for all their expertise, Motorsports West (Dave Bogert and team) for being the source of my performance BMW “condition”

    Caramel Heritage leather adds a dash of luxury.

    Gorgeous #HRE-301 monoblocks and #StopTech #BBK all-round.
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    What goes around comes around, so they say, and Nickel Mohammed’s ever-evolving M3 comes around more than most - it’s always changing and we had to catch it quick before it changed again… Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: #C3Photography .

    BOLT FROM THE BLUE Turbo wide-body E46 M3 Cab

    The old saying that ‘lightning doesn’t strike twice’ is a load of toffee. It’s not just possible that lightning will strike the same part of the Earth more than once, it’s basically inevitable; whether it happens within a five-minute span or twenty million years apart, every square inch of the planet gets it full in the face at some point, and then again, and again. And so it is with a certain sense of inevitability that, in the same vein, feature cars can also strike twice. Regular readers may be squinting at this boisterous E46, trying to figure out where you’ve seen it before… and to answer that niggling query, you recognise it from the cover of our January 2014 issue. But fear not, it’s really quite different now to how it was then. You don’t just walk into a Performance #BMW feature you know, these things have to be earned on merit. And Nickel Mohammed’s shouty M3 has earned another spot here thanks to its constant evolution and mould-breaking styles.

    So how’s it different now? Well, for one thing it’s significantly less powerful. No, wait, come back! This is a good thing – you see, last time we saw the car, its turbocharged S54 was running 800hp, but Nickel’s since detuned this to a rather more manageable 630hp (which is still frickin’ loads), as the car is developing in line with his driving style, as well as to suit the chilly climes of New York City. There’s no point boasting a flag-waving horsepower figure if all of those rampaging ponies are uselessly spinning themselves away at every corner, is there? Definitely far better to have a robust stable of usable nags.

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll begin at the beginning, shall we? “I purchased this car brand new, and back then you had to be put on a waiting list,” he recalls. “I signed myself up, and six months later the car was shipped… the wrong car in the wrong colour! I wanted a silver convertible, and they delivered a black coupé. But determination is a damn thing – I said to them OK, put me back on the list, I’ll wait.” And when the desired drop-top did eventually arrive, was Nickel keen to start tearing into the thing according to some grand overarching modification plan? “To be honest, no,” he shrugs. “Not at all in fact, I reckoned I’d keep it stock. The thing was expensive! And I was still young, I couldn’t afford all that stuff. Although I did try – 20” rims and so on, all those terrible choices I made!” Ah, the impetuousness of youth. Inevitably the M3 was going to end up modified, it was all part of cosmic destiny. It just took a little time for the car to find its way.

    “I’ve built it up and changed it so many times in different directions, the timetable’s kind of all over the place,” he says, when we try to pin down the chronology. “I knew that the mechanical stuff had to be done first, and that started with the engine back in 2011…”

    This was no half-hearted undertaking, with Nickel throwing every one of his chips on the table to get the car ideologically transformed by the lunatics at #HorsepowerFreaks . Their revered Stage 3 turbo conversion brought the howling S54’s peak power up to a stupendous 800hp. These bolt-on kits require no cutting, wiring or welding, and are designed for durability as well as awesome power. But what else would you expect for $30,000+?

    Don’t go thinking ‘bolt-on’ means ‘simple’ though. Engineering a car to run these sorts of numbers is a thoroughly in-depth task – hence the cost – and it took HorsepowerFreaks around a year to build up, test and refine Nickel’s motor. But that fastidiousness of engineering has paid off, as the built motor has held up strongly since. “I drive cars hard, I drive them till they break,” he laughs, “but the only thing I’ve wanted to change on the engine in all this time is adding the AEM Infinity ECU - that thing is superb, a learning computer; I mean, big-ups to those techs that take the time to build these things that adapt to your driving!”

    This attention to cleverness carries on beyond the engine and into the chassis. The suspension offers up an intelligent middle ground between coilovers and air-ride, comprising #KW Variant 3 coilovers with their cunning Hydraulic Lift System, which offers instant ground clearance at the touch of a button. “I wanted to run the car low enough to drive the city streets of NYC - which are terrible - but still be able to raise the front of the car to clear driveways and speed bumps,” Nickel explains. “In all honesty I feel KWs are the best thing made for this car when it comes to suspension.” The last time this car appeared in these pages it was running full air-ride, so you know this is a considered opinion.

    The wheels come from famously pricey custom house, Luxury Abstract. “I’ve had so many wheels before, but these Grassor- Rs were just built for this car,” he grins. “The NeoChrome finish is a neat effect, tying into the Lamborghini pearl paint, and the width and depth really accentuate the body structure.” And you can’t really miss that body, can you? The wide arches are custom hand-fabricated in steel, 1.5” wider at the front and 2.5” out back, thanks to the craftsmanship of Martino Auto Concepts in Long Island. The extra girth is augmented by a V-CSL front bumper and carbon-fibre ducktail boot lid from Vorsteiner, further enhanced by the addition of a Brooks Motorsport Elite carbon wing, along with a set of carbon-fibre side skirts.

    The interior has also been comprehensively re-worked since we last saw the car. Inside, you’ll find a pair of fully reclining Manhart #BMW Performance race seats, important for Nickel as, in his own words, he’s sucker cruising with the seat back and the music up, which brings us neatly to that impressive audio install. “I always wanted an empty trunk to carry bags in, so I removed the existing music and had my electronics sponsor build me a system that would not only look superb, but sound phenomenal and not take up any trunk space. I had my rear seats taken out and my racing harness looks like it’s actually going into my audio system. That was an idea I came up with because I didn’t want to fit a roll cage to the rear of the car as it wouldn’t look as clean and it would be too bulky.

    “There are a lot of stylistic paths you can follow, it takes a lot of time and due diligence,” Nickel reasons. “You have to research, figure out what has been done and what you can do to make it your own. That’s the key to building a car, how do you make it your own; how does it reflect your personality? That has to come from within.

    You have to choose, but that’s why you go on the Internet and talk to your friends and family, and even your techs and people that work on your cars and filter information to help you make your choices. I must have a form: function car. Can’t have a monster in the closet and not be able to let it out because you’re scared that it may attack you! Cars are meant to be driven, and yes they break - you fix it and do it again.”

    Admirable sentiment, and it really helps to illustrate the power behind the build. Yes, this car’s an internet-breaker, but Nickel hasn’t just been ticking boxes on the scenester checklist. The fact that it’s such a personal thing is also key to why he changes the spec so frequently. He’s been cherry picking parts from the aftermarket for a decade now, as well as commissioning his own, and Nickel’s not showing any signs of stopping yet – as long as there’s air in his lungs, this M3 will keep evolving.

    “You’re never done with a project, not ever,” he says. “There will always be new technology, things that you’ve seen and never got a chance to do.” We ask what his favourite part of the car is right now, and he laughs. “Man, there’s not one part of it that I like more than another, because from the top to the bottom it’s my personality, you know? I love it all. And the key to having a dope build is being able to get in and just have a drive. That’s what it was made for. It’s tuned for cruising NYC.” Damn straight. Nickel’s currently working on his E30 M Tech II Convertible, but we all know that the E46 is his baby. It’s been his from new, through thick and thin, and it’s not going anywhere. Lightning will keep on striking.

    DATA FILE Turbo #Wide-Body / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body-E46 / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body / #BMW-M3-HPF-E46 / #BMW-M3-HPF / #AEM / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #HorsepowerFreaks ( HPF ) #HPF-Stage-3-turbo-kit , #HPF-titanium-exhaust-system , #AEM-Infinity-ECU , #HPF carbon-fibre intake ducts, HPF methanol injection, #Rogue-Engineering oil filler ca. Six-speed manual gearbox, E31 850i clutch components with #HPF-Feramic-Stage-3-clutch , #OS-Giken-Super Lock Spec-S LSD, #UUC-Motorwerks engine and transmission mounts

    CHASSIS 11x19” (front) and 13.5x19” (rear) #Luxury-Abstract-Grassor-R wheels with 245/35 (f) and 305/30 (r) tyres, #KW-Variant-3 coilovers with #Hydraulic-Lift-System, #HPF-330-subframe reinforcement plates, #HPF carbon fibre strut braces, HPF under braces, #Powerflex race subframe bushes and trailing arm bushes #StopTech #BBK with six-pot calipers and 380mm discs (front), four-pot calipers with 355mm discs (rear)

    EXTERIOR Custom steel wide-body, Lamborghini #Blu-Cepheus-paint (three-stage pearl), #Vorsteiner-V-CSL front bumper and ducktail boot lid, #Vorsteiner-GTS3 carbon-fibre side skirts, custom E30 M3 bonnet hinges, OEM BMW hardtop, custom dual-xenon headlights, #Brooks-Motorsport Elite carbon-fibre rear wing with #NeoChrome brackets

    INTERIOR Manhart #BMW-Performance race seats, #Schroth harnesses, AEM fuel pressure and 100psi oil pressure gauges, rearview mirror gauge interaction, Kenwood 6.95 double-DIN DDX9902S head unit, JL Audio Monoblock HD1200/1, JL 4-channel amp, JL Evolution C3, JL 12” subwoofer, custom audio box with moulded plexi and LED lighting trimmed in OEM BMW leather, Rydeen reversing camera

    THANKS #Motorcepts (Master Tech), Intrack Tyres, #S&R-Paint , #NeoChrome , #Luxury-Abstract
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    Double Dare

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

    DOUBLE IMPACT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    INTERIOR Individual Fjord blue and Silverstone extended leather interior with contrasting stitching, BMW M Performance steering wheel, factory carbon fibre interior trim, head-up display, Mode Carbon carbon fibre seat-back replacements (front and rear), P3 Cars digital boost gauge, Pedal Haus pedals, heel plate, and paddle shifters.
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    ROUGH DIAMOND
    Hitoshi Hoshino’s super-refined 993 may not be made in Japan… but it’s definitely MADE in Japan.

    EDITOR’S WILDCARD The Ed’s Wildcard gives us the chance to feature those off-the- wall vehicles you may not normally see in Retro Cars. This month we check out a sports car icon… only it may be more Japanese than you think!

    WILDCARD: RWB PORSCHE 993 WORDS AND PHOTOS: Dino Dalle Carbonare

    RAUH WELT PORSCHE 911

    Wildcard: #RWB-Porsche-993 This crazy air-cooled monster may not be made in Japan… but it was definitely MADE in Japan.

    Little did I know that those widened and overly winged Porsches I used to see at Tsukuba 10 years or so ago would have become the sensation they are today. No longer relegated within the confines of Japan, Akira Nakai of RAUH-Welt Begriff has been spreading his vision on every corner of the globe. RWB is a brand in serious demand, with a waiting list stretching to almost a year now.

    That’s because each car, to be truly and authentically identified as an RWB creation, must be put together by Nakai and Nakai only. And with so much demand coming from outside Japan, domestic customers have to get in line too! Thankfully Hitoshi Hoshino got his request in with the big man with plenty of notice, so he could time the unveiling of his car for this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon.

    Hitoshi has spent most of his working life in the automotive scene. First at Yokohama Tire, following various racing series in Japan, and then looking after the aftermarket parts retail at Japan’s official Ferrari dealer network. But his path wasn’t just about following his passion. There was a well-planned goal at the end of it and that period was simply to teach him the skills that would later be used to reach his achievement – Army Girl.

    Hitoshi came up with the idea to launch a clothing brand linked to the automotive lifestyle scene, for the sole reason that nobody in Japan has thought about it yet. It made total sense. He could step things up and set up his own business, yet keep that passion with cars truly alive. It was a win win situation and the idea to tie it all in with RWB made sense. The clothing he designs and produces is made by following the simple concept of keeping it cool, sexy and wild, which are three words perfectly in sync with what Nakai’s brand stands for. Plus it’s all made in Japan, something that Nakai liked very much, too.


    We met with Hitoshi late one night in Shibuya, right on one of the main streets that lead up to Hachiko, the famous scramble crossing. We had seen his car briefly a few months prior at the Auto Salon, but never had a really close look. You know how shows are, so much to see, so little time and you end up missing the finer details of what you’re there to see.

    But we’re glad we got this chance to spend a couple of hours with this 993 Carrera 2 as it could be the most polished cars Nakai has ever put together in Japan. You see, Hitoshi may like the whole idea of the RWB “rough” style, but in reality he likes his stuff very polished, meticulously executed and beautifully refined. One look at his car and you truly get a feel for that, right down to the paint it’s finished off in.

    Hitoshi took an Aston Martin pearl white paint sample to Noshima-san, the guy responsible for painting all of Nakai’s cars in Japan, and told him he wanted something like this. The car would mostly be driven late at night in central Tokyo, after he closes up shop, so it had to shine and look the part under the city lights. Nakai thought a simple Pearl White was a tad boring for one of his creations. But Nojima came up with a little custom mix made up with a higher content of metallic blue in it that really shines through and highlights all those complex lines that make up the exterior. And those aesthetics are just as extreme as you would want them for what is a street driven car, featuring those massively wide signature fenders topped up with that GT2 inspired front and rear bumper. This build however was one of the most complex ones Nakai embarked on, because Hitoshi wanted it done properly.

    The 993 was first stripped down to a bare chassis and sent of to M’s Machine Works, a fabrication shop that Nismo uses for its race cars. Here a custom multi-point roll cage was fabbed, welded and gusseted in place in order to both strength the ageing shell, but also to offer a higher level of safety when the car occasionally hits the track. It was then shipped back to Nakai where he went at it with an electric hacksaw, cutting away the fenders and the roof. Nojima painted it inside out and then the massive jigsaw puzzle was put together. This also included rare additions like the one-off carbon-fibre roof Hitoshi requested, as well as the rear fender winglets and the Rotana style rear wing. A RWB is all about stance and to nail it Nakai fitted a set of #Bilstein adjustable dampers mated to Swift spring to just the right ride height, before bolting on the custom painted 18-inch #Work-Meister-M1 s, which measure a rather generous 11J across the front and 13J at the rear.

    When Hoshino arrived in front of Tower Records, our predetermined meeting spot, I understood why he’d asked to make sure we did this only on a dry night. Those three-piece Meisters are shod in Hoosier slicks, which at 285 wide at the front and 335 at the rear are exactly as dangerous as you’d imagine on a rainy night. Not to mention a tad illegal even for Japanese standards!

    Thankfully rain was nowhere to be seen, so I jumped in the supportive #Recaro seat and we headed down the road to Harajuku. Taking a turn off from the main street that leads down to Omotesando we ended up in some seriously tight back streets – the heart of the Japanese fashion district.

    The sea of scantly dressed school girls that take over the place during the day is replaced with groups of drunk salary men late at night, stumbling out of microscopic izakaya bars as they try to make it to the station before the last train. Miss that, and it’s an expensive taxi ride back home. The 993 attracts a lot of attention, people point, stare and stop to take pictures. It’s quite an experience riding in one of these things. You get a first hand look at the sort of attention it generates.

    Slapping the name of your brand along its sills makes good sense. It’s a stunningly effective promotion tool. But thankfully that’s only part of it. Hitoshi regularly takes it out on the C1 and hits Tatsumi PA for night meetings, enjoying that easy and foolproof handling dynamic these high-grip 911 of Nakai’s are known for.

    Next up for Hitoshi is the engine. He’s already fitted big StopTech brakes up front as he wants to follow what Nakai has done with his 993 Rotana track car, and that’s slapping a massive turbo right next to the engine. Big power and some flames from that custom exhaust would turn Army Girl into something even more special. This is a car, that like the brand it has been built to promote, will continue to evolve.

    TECH SPEC: RWB #Porsche-993 / #Porsche-M64 / #Porsche-911-993 / #Porsche-911 / #Porsche / #Porsche-911-RWB-993 / #Porsche-911-RWB

    TUNING: #Icode titanium exhaust system; #Garage-J fully balanced and refreshed M64 engine; RS clutch and flywheel.

    CHASSIS: #Work-Meister M1 3-piece wheels 11Jx18in front, 13Jx18in rear; #Hoosier slicks 285/30R18 front, 335/30R18 rear; Bilstein Cup dampers mated to Swift springs; #StopTech ST-40 4-pot front callipers; 2-piece rotors.

    EXTERIOR: Full #RWB wide body “street” conversion; RWB original pearl white; one-off RWB carbon roof.

    INTERIOR: M’s #Machine-Works custom welded-in and gusseted roll cage; #Recaro-RS-G bucket seats; #ARTI custom sound system with hidden speakers.

    Sparse interioradds to the fun!
    Even the roof hasn’t escaped the modding with this one-off carbon item!
    Hardcore like the army… and, erm, girls!
    Crazy is common on the streets of Tokyo, RWB cars are a little rarer!
    Fully balanced and rebuilt to perfection!
    Yep, it’s got quite an audio system this one!
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    AWESOME BMW M5 Looks good, goes great

    How do you improve upon one of the best driving cars #BMW ever put together? Take a leaf out of Andrew Berger’s book. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Mike Kuhn.

    Styled and tuned E39 M5

    There can’t be many father and sons that have individually made it on to the pages of Performance BMW with their Bavarian beasts. In fact, Andrew and Josh Berger may well be the first. Josh’s E36 M3 was featured in November last year. It’s a concours-standard build that’s been reverted back to its Luxurious spec and slammed on a set of CCW LM5Ts.

    With a few choice engine and chassis mods, it’s a show stopper, track car and daily driver rolled into one. And now a year later, it’s his father’s turn to take the spotlight. The E39 M5 is arguably the best performance saloon BMW ever made, and it’s already becoming sought after by collectors and driving enthusiasts. Having reached modern classic status, various finance and automotive publications of late are claiming that it’s set to soar in value. In fact, Paul Michaels, chairman of Hexagon Classics (a man who makes a living out of buying the right collectible cars) claims an immaculate low mileage model is sure to appreciate.

    It’s something I’ve been saying for the past year and I now find myself not getting very far with writing this feature as I scour Pistonheads and AutoTrader looking for one and trying to persuade my husband that this should be our new family car. Suffice to say we definitely couldn’t afford the one that was recently up for grabs at a dealership in Ohio. With just 309 miles on the clock the asking price was $149,999.

    Anyway, if I’m to meet this deadline without burning the midnight oil I really must get back to the task in hand. A man fascinated with form and function, we’re surprised to learn that Andrew has only been interested in BMWs for the past 15 years, but suffice to say ever since the day he first drove one he was hooked. He did go on to own that very car, an E46 330i, but not before going through a few other 3, 5 and M Series cars. If truth be told, though, he always had his sights set on an E39 M5: “This car has been at the top of my bucket list since they rolled off the production line,” confesses the 60-year-old.

    He bought the car in May last year from Gas Motorcars, a local dealership in Marietta, Georgia, that specialises in exotic, classic and luxury cars and also happens to be where his son works. He traded in his E36 M3 and M Roadster for it together with a pile of 100 dollar bills. The car had already received a few exterior modifications – some of which were a little OTT for Andrew’s taste, so the first job was to take off what he didn’t like.

    As such the car now wears a Vorsteiner carbon fibre vented bonnet, front and rear spoilers from AC Schnitzer, ECS Tuning brake duct grilles, a painted matt black kidney grille, angel eye headlights and a painted gloss black rear diffuser with stainless steel exhaust tip surrounds, all of which combine to make a more aggressive statement without detracting from Chris Bangle’s original lines. The staggered 19” DPE Forged wheels with brushed faces, polished lips and chrome hardware are the perfect finishing touches.

    When it came to the interior, Andrew wanted to keep things simple again so he’s retained most of the stock parts (bar the Schroth Racing harnesses) but brought them into the 21st century. As such the steering wheel, sun visors, doorcards, handbrake and gear knob gaiters have been retrimmed in black Alcantara complete with M tri-colour stitching, while the Nineties wood trim has been painted silver and the instrument rings have been swapped out for custom-made aluminium items.

    The in-dash double-DIN DVD multimedia AV receiver from Pioneer is the only clue to a custom audio install which resides in the boot and includes a pair of JL Audio W7 10” subwoofers and HD1200/1 amp, which are connected up to a set of Hertz speakers, mids and tweeters. Despite having the unbeatable soundtrack of a brutal V8 under the bonnet, the ICE is Andrew’s favourite: “I love taking this car out on a Sunday, putting on my favourite playlist and enjoying my ultimate driving machine,” he tells us.

    Saying that, we’re pleased to hear the engine side of things haven’t been ignored. With 400hp already on tap, sensibly Andrew has gone for a selection of mods that help to improve the breathing of the high-revving 5.9-litre engine. The combination of an AFE Stage 2 air intake, custom exhaust manifolds, mid-pipes and ECU remap by Buckhead Imports and an Eisenmann Race exhaust system not only gives the car extra horsepower, but it also lets the engine rev more eagerly and helps the lazy V8 burble really come out of its shell.

    The six-speed manual gearbox from Getrag was critically acclaimed for its slick performance, but improvements can always be made. To that end a UUC short shifter, lightweight clutch and flywheel, have really helped to transform an already revered driving experience with quicker gear changes and improved throttle response. “Getting it past 6000rpm puts a smile on my face every time,” he says and we can certainly believe that.

    When you factor in the host of suspension upgrades he’s made, including KW Variant 3 coilovers, Dinan strut tower bar and shock tower brace to help the car feel more planted, responsive and tauter, together with a Brembo GT big brake kit up front and slotted StopTech discs with Hawk pads out back to better haul in the power, Andrew now has the confidence to push this sizeable saloon harder on Georgia’s finest scenic and twisty roads.

    Andrew’s plans for the future are to simply maintain its prestige and, with just 55,000 miles on the clock, keep it for Sunday best, and who can blame him? With supercar- chasing performance in a package that is discreet and practical, the E39 M5 is the very definition of a wolf in sheep’s clothing and Andrew’s sympathetic approach in modifying is a great lesson to anyone thinking of buying one of these Q cars. Right, can I go back to scouring the classifieds again now, please?

    “This car’s been at the top of my bucket list since they rolled off the production line”

    “I love taking this car out and enjoying my ultimate driving machine”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E39 / #S62B50 / #BMW-S62 / #S62 / #DPE / #AFE / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-E39

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 , #AFE-Stage-2 air intake, Buckhead Imports custom exhaust manifolds, mid-pipes and ECU remap, full #Eisenmann race exhaust, six-speed manual gearbox, UUC lightweight clutch and flywheel, UUC Evo 3 short-shifter

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” ET16 (f) and 11x19” ET16 (r) #DPE-Forged-ST7-Hybrid wheels with brushed faces, polished lips and chrome hardware with 245/35 (f) and 285/35 (r) Toyo T1R tyres, #KW-Variant-3 Coilovers, #Dinan strut tower bar & shock tower brace. #Brembo-GT big brake kit (f) and slotted #StopTech discs and Hawk pads (r), #Turner-Motorsports stainless steel brake lines all-round

    EXTERIOR #Vorsteiner carbon fibre vented bonnet, kidney grille painted matt black, LED angel eye headlights, ECS Tuning brake duct grille, #AC-Schnitzer front and rear spoilers, custom painted gloss black rear diffuser with stainless steel exhaust tip surrounds

    INTERIOR Doorcards, handbrake and gear knob gaiters, steering wheel and sun visors retrimmed in black Alcantara with M tri-colour stitching, silver painted trim, custom aluminium instrument rings, Schroth Racing harnesses, full custom boot install with two JL Audio W7 subwoofers and HD1200/1 amp, Pioneer in-dash double-DIN DVD multimedia AV receiver, Hertz speakers, mids and tweeters
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    WIDE-ARCH M3 Stunningly modified E30
    With its flawless finish, custom wide arches and blood-red innards, this E30 M3 is a rare beast indeed. And Ricardo Oliveira’s lengthy unicorn hunt has certainly been quite a journey… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Anna Taylor.

    Wide-arch E30 M3

    When we interview feature car owners, we always ask if they have anyone they’d like to thank – and it’s very telling that Ricardo Oliveira chooses to thank ‘all the people that laughed at my plans’. His, you see, is a tale of following his own path, cutting against the grain, and numerous other inspirational fridge-magnet clichés that have led to one of the cleanest and most eye-watering E30 M3s we’ve seen.

    Oh yes, and it is a bona fide M3. Haters be damned, Ricardo’s ‘ruined’ it to his own dream specs, and he really couldn’t be happier about that: “This whole thing dates back to 1997, when I was 11 years old,” he explains. “My brother, Pedro, purchased his first E30 M3; it was a #1989 car, Alpine white, with 60k miles on the clock. I fell in love with it as soon as I laid eyes on it, there was something about the box arches and the way the little four-cylinder engine sounded coming down the street. I would wash it and go for rides in it any chance I had. I still remember the smell of the fresh leather and sitting in the rear seat listening to the Borla exhaust like it was yesterday.”

    It’s safe to say that this early obsession showed little sign of abating; Ricardo was in deep, and there was no way he wouldn’t own an M3 one day. He was totally single-minded about that. “By the time I was 20, I had saved up enough money to buy one,” he says, “and heard of someone local selling a Lachs silver example that had a salvage title. It needed work, but was fairly priced… although as I prepared it for restoration, I began to have doubts about spending money on something that had been a weekend track car – which had evidently seen a barrier or two!”

    As you may have deduced, that car is not the M3 you’re looking at today. Ricardo pulled the cord on that one and set about hunting down a better example to fulfil that childhood dream. In the course of his search he happened across a Henna red shell with matching numbers and all the right bits which he ended up buying, but then selling once he realised that the magnitude of the work, combined with his having been accepted into police academy, meant that realistically it just wouldn’t get done.

    Fast-forward a few years and, at the age of 24, our man found himself graduating from police academy and, of course, the E30 fire was still very much burning away in the depths of his soul. “I began working my regular night shift, along with countless morning overtime shifts,” he recalls. “I remember going to bed at 4pm and waking at 10pm, only to grab a bite and head right back to work – just so I could purchase another E30 M3!” Ricardo really was committed to this dream, and those previous false starts did nothing but spur him on. And so, having saved enough money (rather more than the $7500 he paid for his first one – these cars certainly aren’t getting any cheaper) the search was resumed and, after quite some hunting, a 1990 Diamond black car presented itself in Clearwater, Florida. “It was being sold by a guy named Mike, who was getting progressively sicker from cancer and could no longer enjoy the car,” Ricardo explains. “I bought the car sight unseen after numerous hours on the phone discussing every detail – and a week and a half later, it was home with me in New Jersey!”


    A fairytale ending? Er, no, not quite. Unfortunately it turned out that Mike had been, shall we say, a little creative with the detail, particularly in his use of the word ‘perfect’. Knowing E30 M3s inside out by this point, Ricardo started to feel some serious buyer’s remorse when he began to comb through the car. “I’d been told it was perfect, 100% rust-free and had recently been repainted,” he laments, “but it had been sprayed at a #MAACO body shop where even the window trims had been painted over; it was a very poor masking and spraying job, and in addition to that it’d painted over some surface rust that was already starting to bubble. I began to feel like Nicholas Cage in Gone In 60 Seconds – just like he continuously ran into problems with Eleanor, his ‘Unicorn’, so was I with the E30. That’s why I nicknamed it ‘Unicorn’.”

    Ricardo tried to take these issues up with Mike, but he understandably had bigger fish to fry; shortly afterwards, word came through that he’d succumbed to the cancer. A sad turn of events, but it served to harden Ricardo’s resolve: the car would get sorted, and done right – Mike’s work would be finished properly, and Ricardo’s own childhood dreams would be fulfilled. So, where to start?

    “I spent the first year ordering and collecting parts,” he says. “It was so bad, the house looked like a BMW parts department! I became a regular at the local BMW dealership, and the guys there now all know me by first, middle and last name. Probably even by credit card number…” In addition to all the new OEM stuff, he was hoarding period aftermarket addenda like some kind of eager magpie. It was all leading to the end-goal vision he had in his head.

    And so with parts collected and boxes ticked, the work began in earnest. “The first step was the engine bay overhaul,” he says. “The engine came out along with all the sound and heat insulation, the bay was shaved and wire-tucked, and the motor was fully rebuilt. All the brackets, covers, pans, throttle bodies, belts, wires, gaskets, housings and bolts were either galvanised, polished, powdercoated, or replaced.” While stalking through the shell with militaristic force, it goes without saying that any rot Ricardo came across was swiftly eliminated and remedied with fresh metal. This was to be a better-than-new finish, no compromises.

    With the bay sorted, Ricardo chose to focus on the wheels and arches. “I knew I wanted to do something no-one had done before,” he grins. “I decided to widen the rear arches to match the curves of the front wings – look closely and you’ll see that the standard rear quarters are flat while the front wings are round – and I aimed to extend them 1.5” further than stock. I basically wanted to widen the car, but to look as if BMW had originally done it.” You’ve got to admit that it works. The finish is flawless, and you might be hard pushed to put your finger on exactly what he’s done, had he not just explained it to you.

    Impressive arches demand impressive wheels, so after a period of head-scratching and careful consideration, Ricardo acquired a set of BBS RS faces and sent them over to Paul at Ehrlich Wheel Works; a proven favourite design for the E30 M3, but these were to be finished with a twist. “To set these wheels apart from others, Paul and I planned to not only have the normal 3” slant lips people use for their rears fitted to the fronts instead, but we’d also be doing 4” lips on the rears – and we’d be doing them on a set of soon-to be-18” #BBS RSs.”

    Much like the treatment of the arches, this is an exercise in tricking the eye – onlookers will see something familiar, and perhaps not immediately notice how radically different it actually is. This is Ricardo’s style – the car’s packed with features that fly under the everyday radar, but consistently drop the jaws of true-blue enthusiasts.

    Once Ricardo got started on the exterior, it seems he couldn’t quite restrain himself from spreading yet more custom touches throughout the build. The rear panel was shaved to mimic the period AC Schnitzer offerings, a Euro front bumper arrived which was quickly shorn and smoothed, custom tail-lights were made up, and the rear spoiler received an Evo II lower item, an Evo III upper (with its famous threeposition adjustment – Monza, Normal, Nürburgring) and even a ’1992-spec carbon fibre DTM flap. “The custom bodywork took up most of the restoration, two years to be exact,” he recalls, “which then gave me the time to start the interior.”

    Oh, and what an interior it is! Sending the parts out to Charlie of Branch Brook Auto Top for refreshing, Ricardo admits that he may have “decided to go a little crazy”, choosing the M3-correct shade of Cardinal red as his colour scheme, he opted to imbue a little Porsche style into the cabin by making literally everything red. Everything.

    “I had Charlie wrap the dashboard, headlining, pillars, rear deck, and the Evo steering wheel in either Cardinal red GAHH leather or Alcantara, along with installing the discontinued BMW Cardinal carpet,” he smiles, like a cheeky schoolboy who knows he’s done something a bit mischievous.

    All-in-all, Ricardo’s restoration and programme of modification represents a hell of a lot of work, and every last minute of it shows. The car’s certainly come a long way from that first disheartening meeting, when he found himself with a tired car that had been partially rotted out by the harsh Florida sunshine. His commitment to crafting a sort of OEM++ vision is what sets this car apart from regular M3s; it took four years of hard graft, but he finally has the E30 that his 11-year-old self dreamed of. His own personal unicorn.

    Sure, he may get grief from the purists about how he’s ‘ruined’ a classic, but who gives a tuppenny squat about that? When the mission is this personal – and the ultimate results this stunning – then it’s okay to relax the rules a bit. In European folklore, the unicorn is fabled as a creature of purity and grace, and we just love how Ricardo’s turned that on its head in a US context – old world values, new world thinking. It’s the American dream.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #S14B23 / #BMW-S14 / #S14 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E30 / #BMW /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.3-litre four-cylinder S14B23 , fully rebuilt, new #CP-Pistons (stock compression ratio), polished throttle bodies, powdercoated valve cover and air plenum with polished script, shaved engine bay with wire tuck, #Miller-Performance-MAF conversion/chip, custom air intake for #Miller-MAF , Evo plug wires, Mishimoto aluminium radiator, #Samco silicone hoses, custom aluminium reservoirs for power steering and coolant, stainless steel braided lines with AN fittings, electric fan, custom stainless steel exhaust with V bands, Supersprint silencer, ceramic-coated headers, new OEM engine mounts, water pump, ignition coil, cap and rotor, five-speed manual gearbox, Sachs clutch

    CHASSIS 9x18” (front) and 10x18” (rear) #BBS-RS three-piece split-rims with 215/35 (front) and 235/35 (rear) Continental ExtremeContact tyres, BC coilovers, #Ireland-Engineering 25mm anti-roll bars and links (front and rear), Ireland Engineering polished front strut brace, rear subframe and trailing arm urethane bushings, new control arms, cross-drilled #StopTech discs

    EXTERIOR Full respray in original Diamond black, widened and rolled front arches and rear quarters, shaved boot and numberplate panel, shaved window cowl with #AC-Schnitzer single wiper, shaved rear bumper to delete USDM city lights, new Euro front bumper with shaved tow hook covers, Evo III front spoiler and splitter, Evo II and Evo III rear spoilers and ’92 carbon fibre DTM rear spoiler flap, Evo III brake ducts, AC Schnitzer power/ heated mirrors, conversion to pop-out quarter glass, new BMW roundels and M3 badges, powdercoated window trims in satin black, all rubber seals for windows, doors, bonnet, boot and sunroof replaced, Hella smoked E-code headlights, custom rear smoked/red tail-lights, smoked indicators, LED city lights, LED numberplate lights

    INTERIOR Cardinal red leather retrimmed by Branch Brook Auto Top (complete dashboard, front and rear centre console and Evo steering wheel also trimmed in Cardinal red leather), headlining, pillars and rear shelf trimmed in Cardinal red Alcantara, Euro sunshade on rear shelf, OEM Cardinal Red carpet, E46 M3 floor mats, Evo door sills, Alpine head unit, Alpine front and rear component speakers

    THANKS My parents who gave me the support to complete this project, my brothers for their support – Joao Oliveira and especially Pedro Oliveira, who made me fall in love with the E30 M3 since 1997, Wally the painter, Paul Ehrlich from Ehrlich Wheel Works, Charlie ‘Suede’ from Branch Brook Auto Top & Interiors, Ben Barron, Mike Chin, and Francois Rodrigues from BMW of Springfield, Don Fields of Mr. M Car, Rich the machinist, Sidney Almeida for assisting me in building the engine, and all the people who laughed at my plans…

    “It was so bad, the house looked like a parts department!”

    “I knew I wanted to do something no-one had done before…”
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    This may have been Sean Clark’s first car in high school, but it’s all grown up now, with a level of refinement fit for a whiskey lounge. Words: Marcus Gibson / Photos: Adam Croy

    BODY-SLAMMED BMW E30 TEST LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS OF BUILDING A DRIFT CAR / #1987 / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW-318i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #Toyota-1UZ-FE / #BMW-E30-Toyota-1UZ-FE / #Toyota / #Accuair-i-Level / #BMW-E30-V8 / #V8

    DEFLATED REFINEMENT
    Purchased as his first car in high school, Sean Clark’s E30 is all grown up now with a class that belongs in a whiskey lounge. V8 powered, with Accuair i-Level, one-off Rotiforms, candy paint and a killer interior, this E30 ticks all the boxes.

    As the NZPC team members stood around with our tongues out, drooling over Sean Clark’s #BMW E30 during the photo shoot, in walked the guys from our sister magazine NZ Classic Car, who proceeded to make tongue-in-cheek remarks about how the suspension must be broken and ask where the hell the tyres were. Now, these guys know their way around an E30, but, given that the IS front lip was literally sitting on the ground while its rim lip was touching the guard, we could see how those old boys would be somewhat perplexed by what they saw in front of them. This car is a statement made with no apologies — it was engineered this way, what with its millimetre-perfect fitment and extremely deep candy paint, which grabs and holds your attention long enough to take in all the custom touches that can be found.

    It all began during Sean’s high-school days (actually, four years ago, to be exact), when he came across an E30 already fitted with a Toyota 1UZ-FE 4.0-litre V8. A fan of the German ’80s icon, Sean hadn’t been looking for V8 power, but, when this popped up already cert’d, he saw it as a good base on which to build his dream E30. It was in need of some TLC, but, being a high-school student, he would have to wait until he got his first full-time job before he could sink some coin into the project. In the meantime, though, he was probably only the only kid at his high school rocking a V8 on a daily basis.


    The air-management system runs a set of polished custom hard lines to feed the tank, AccuAir A4, and Air Lift air bags. The system has a wireless remote and can even be controlled by an iPhone app.


    It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Sean is mainly influenced by mostly European-based E30s, which led to the first of the big modifications, as he told us: “All of my favourite E30s are on air. That was the first major modification I did. Simon from Get Low imported and installed the kit.” Getting the E30 down was a simple bolt-in affair using Air Lift struts with adjustable dampers. Like most of the latest air-ride kits we feature these days, Sean opted for a complete height-management system, in this case, AccuAir. With three preset heights — low, lower, and slammed — it’s a no-brainer over the finicky switch box and separate valve blocks of the past.

    Those kits were loud, high maintenance, and it was a battle to get the height perfect. Having the control that Sean now does is a good thing when the lip of the rim actually sits square on the guard when fully deflated.

    It was around that time that the E30 received its first set of rims, though those BBS Rs were soon replaced with custom fifteen52 Tarmacs, then, more recently, with a set of custom Rotiforms. To say Sean has a thing for wheels would be a gross understatement — but his size preference certainly made it hard. “I get bored of wheels pretty easy, and wanted to go three-piece and have something that would pop against the paint more,” he explained. “I talked to just about every wheel company out there, but the problem is that no one really makes three-piece 16s any more. I ended up getting James from 360 Link to convince Brian from Rotiform to produce these.” We are unsure what James from 360 Link said — perhaps he has a stash of questionable photos of Brian, or maybe Brian thinks all Kiwis are like Jake the Muss; either way, Rotiform obliged and put together this one-off set using BBS lips and gold hardware.

    To further customize them once they landed in New Zealand, the boys at GT Refinishers laid down some candy and gold leaf on the centre caps.

    The boys were also charged with a complete facelift conversion last year. Now, it might be a bolt-on conversion up front, but the rear took a little more commitment, as the team had to graft in the in the rear sheet metal from a later E30 around the boot and tail lights.

    This required a facelift E30 to donate its life to the cause. The tail lights Sean chose are rare BMW Motorsport items imported from Germany, along with the Bosch smiley headlights and an MTech wing. The last job at GT was the reshaping of the rear guards to suit the super-low ride height. It was then on to deciding a colour — a job we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy. A four-month internal battle ensued as Sean went back and forth with his decision, eventually landing on custom candy red, sprayed over a silver base coat. “There are 10 coats all up I think, as I kept wanting it darker and darker. I was actually out of the country when he was spraying it so it was a little nerve-racking,” he said.

    But, needless to say, Sean is hyped with how the exterior has turned out, and he has since shifted his focus inwards. First up, he went for a full interior retrim from Midnight Upholstery. Taking cues from the king of refinement, Singer, the front and rear seats were trimmed in a similar fashion to those beautiful Porsches. The front seats are actually Recaro fishnets from an Isuzu Bighorn that Sean scored for $100, and the rear is a not-so-common E30 variant with a centre armrest. As for the rest of the interior, it was kept all class in black — simple yet effective. The finishing touch, a vintage Momo Prototipo wheel.

    Next on his hit list is attacking the engine bay. While the build has never been about all-out power or speed, and with the four litres there’s more than enough juice to decimate the factory equivalent, Sean still feels there is room for refinement, and he’s currently considering his plan of attack — individual throttle bodies (ITBs)? A supercharger? Who knows what he’ll end up with? We guess we will all have to wait and see. But, in the meantime, there is a long hot summer ahead of us, and Sean is ready to make the most of it with one push of the e-Level.

    INTERIOR
    SEATS: (F) Retrimmed #Recaro LX, (R) retrimmed factory
    STEERING WHEEL: #Momo Prototipo 350mm
    INSTRUMENTATION: AccuAir e-Level
    EXTRA: Custom headliner and carpet, custom boot set-up.

    EXTERIOR
    PAINT: Custom candy red by GT Refinishers
    ENHANCEMENTS: Facelift conversion, IS front lip, IS sideskirts, custom front splitter, MTech 1 wing, German smiley headlights, German MHW tail lights, custom round Condor door handles.

    DRIVELINE
    GEARBOX: Toyota four-speed auto
    DIFF: BMW E30
    The body has recieved a facelift alongside some subtle upgrades such as the IS front lip and #MTech rear wing. Although it was bagged long before the facelift, yet the lip sits perfectly flush on the ground.

    DRIVER PROFILE
    DRIVER/OWNER: Sean Clark
    AGE: 20
    LOCATION: Auckland
    OCCUPATION: Estimator
    BUILD TIME: Four years
    LENGTH OF OWNERSHIP: Four years
    THANKS: A huge thanks to GT Refinishers; Get Low Customs; Midnight Upholstery; Rotiform New Zealand; my mate Daniel, for listening to me stress over the smallest of things and helping out

    Discovered in an Isuzu Bighorn bought for $100, the Recaro fishnets have been retrimmed by Midnight upholstery in a Singer style, with bronze rivet vents.
    HEART
    ENGINE: #Toyota-1UZ-FE , 4000cc, eight-cylinder
    BLOCK: Factory
    HEAD: Factory
    INTAKE: Factory
    EXHAUST: Custom headers, dual 2.5-inch pipes into single muffler
    FUEL: Factory
    IGNITION: Factory
    ECU: Factory
    COOLING: Fenix radiator

    SUPPORT
    STRUTS: Air Lift Performance air ride, KYB rear shocks, #AccuAir-E-Level , #AccuAir #iLevel
    BRAKES: (F) #Wilwood four-pot calipers, #StopTech rotors, Wilwood pads, braided lines; (R) factory

    SHOES
    WHEELS: (F) 16x8.5-inch #Rotiform three-piece forged CCV, gold hardware; (R) 16x9.5-inch Rotiform three-piece forged CCV, gold hardware
    TYRES: (F) 195/40R16 Falken, (R) 205/40R16 Falken

    Fitting the Lexus into the engine bay required a set of custom headers and has left little room for anything else, which could become a problem if Sean does decide to supercharge down the track.
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    HIDDEN STRENGTH

    With its subtle looks, this 135i can slip under the radar, which is handy as it’s got 460whp on tap. This 135i might look fairly ordinary but appearances can be deceptive and there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye… Words and photos: Chris Nicholls.

    Disappointment is sometimes a powerful motivator. Sports teams that lose the championship one year have been known to turn that negative feeling into a springboard that pushes them to win it the next. So it was with Pete Agas and his 135i.

    Initially, he wanted a 1M Coupé, but only 200 came to Australia and he missed out on the allocation. He didn’t let that get him down, though. Instead, he purchased an E82 135i and used the leftover funds to change almost every mechanical component to make it much faster than a stock 1M ever was.

    The story begins back in late 2012, when he first purchased this Alpine white example fresh from the dealer. Having been inspired to tune cars ever since his youth (when watching Stephen Spielberg’s debut feature – Duel – made him think about tuning cars so he could outrun a psychotic truck driver), Pete wasn’t going to leave it untouched for long, and after posting a few pictures of it in its factory state on his online build thread (complete with the caption: ‘stock… yuck’), he started to modify it to suit his tastes.

    As for those tastes? “I build, tune and customise my vehicles for performance over appearance,” he says, and as you can see, the finished car reflects that. APEX ARC-8 wheels, StopTech BBK, #Hartge silencer and M Performance carbon bits aside, there is no indication from the outside that this machine puts out 460whp at low boost and pounds around race tracks with ease. Even looking under the bonnet yields nothing to the casual observer, and unless they were looking hard, enthusiasts would only spot the AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 intake and M Performance Power Kit 2 as well. Almost everything that means anything is hidden on this build, and that’s the way Pete likes it, especially as it makes it that much easier to goad other, supposedly faster, cars into a little challenge. “I frequently drive around the South Yarra area in Victoria where there are plenty of beautiful Porsches. I may have completely decimated a couple of them in a quick squirt contest…” he says with a grin.

    Of course, his E82 didn’t become this fast overnight. Indeed, having missed out on a 1M, he initially wanted just to match that car’s handling, with pure grunt not really on the radar. And even then, for the first year, Pete only drove it around with limited mods. An M Performance exhaust and exterior bits and some Rays G25 wheels upped the game from stock, but they were hardly going to help Pete reach even his initial goal. That’s why, after that 12 months, he started amassing E9x M3 suspension parts in bulk, along with other bits and pieces, so he could be ready for the next stage.

    Those E9x parts included sway bars, control arms, bushings, camber link kit and strut tower brace, to which he added Swift springs. Having basically matched the 1M’s key suspension elements, Pete then moved onto the brakes, with M Performance discs, Cool Carbon brake pads and Hard Braking front titanium shims. For a little extra grunt, he added the aforementioned Power Kit 2 and controlled it via a Quaife 3.08 helical LSD in a VAC finned, clear anodised cover. A Burger Motorsports clutch delay valve and clutch stop helped in the driveline department as well. Finally, a few extra M Performance exterior and interior parts helped round it off. Until the most recent major upgrades, the diff was actually Pete’s favourite component as it improved traction no end. “The LSD just puts the power down without the e-Diff having a field day. It was easily the most notable change when driving the car back home from the workshop for the first time.” The fact the Quaife diff works with the stock traction control is a bonus, too, even if Pete doesn’t need it in the dry.


    Now, you might think at this stage, having reached his initial goal, Pete would be satisfied and call it a day. After all, he had already created a very quick, but still very usable road car. However, the fact you see this rather faster beast before you shows he wasn’t done. What prompted him to go further were two new discoveries. Firstly, having gone this far into the BMW tuning world, he’d found a “huge amount of aftermarket potential within the BMW brand”, as well as a highly supportive and knowledgeable community to go with it.

    Secondly, having built a track-oriented car, Pete was hardly likely to keep it purely on the road, and a visit to Phillip Island one day proved rather comprehensively that while strong, his build wasn’t perfect.

    “I quickly discovered the platform needed brakes and cooling,” Pete tells us. “I also learned very quickly of the possibility of a spun rod bearing when pushing wet-sumped platforms on the track, so I quickly picked up an oil pan baffle to prevent this from happening to me.”


    Having discovered these weaknesses, Pete also bolted on an oil cooler and decided that even the upgraded brakes he had weren’t going to cut it. So, as part of the final stage of mods, he purchased a StopTech BBK, with ST60 six-pot calipers on the front and ST40 four pots on the rears, matched with StopTech’s own Street Performance pads.

    These clamp down on with Trophy Sport two-piece slotted discs to provide a significant upgrade in braking ability. Indeed, these are now Pete’s new favourite parts. “The new brakes not only look great, but they have an amazing pedal feel, are completely modular and replaceable and have a huge range of available pads.”

    That they sit this high in his estimation is a big endorsement, given the rest of the upgrades he fitted at this stage. In the engine bay, he installed a Pure N55 Stage 2 turbo, an AR Design downpipe, Maddad midpipes and the aforementioned Hartge silencer on the hot side. He also fitted the previously mentioned AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 intake, an ETS five-inch intercooler and lower charge pipe, an Evolution Raceworks black anodised chargepipe and GFB N55 diverter valve upgrade on the cool side. Unsurprisingly, given the company’s reputation, a Dinan Stage 3 135iS tune controls the lot.

    To further enhance the car’s abilities on the track, Pete also added Dinan Racing adjustable rear toe arms, Dinan front control arm bushings, Turner Motorsport solid aluminium rear subframe bushings and Ohlins Road and Track dampers. Finally, some sticky Hankook RS-3s on those handsome APEX ARC-8 wheels put all the power to the ground.


    The results are quite startling. Given the sticky rubber and LSD, you’d think traction wouldn’t be a problem, but with TC off, Pete was able to spin up the wheels well into third gear on our short spot-shoot drive. “This is with the turbo at 15psi, remember,” Pete reminds us. “It’s capable of 27 or even 30psi. Frankly, I think it’d be undriveable on the street like that. I would need drag slicks or something.”

    He’s probably right. The biggest impact, though, came from the fact that the power just kept on coming. Starting from around 3000rpm, it genuinely didn’t stop until very close to the redline. Owners of modern, well-tuned turbo cars will no doubt be nodding along to this in recognition, but for those who haven’t experienced such a longlasting rush, it’s quite the memorable event.

    Thankfully, all of Pete’s suspension changes keep the car a lot more pinned to the ground, even if traction is a bit of an issue. It’s firm, no doubt, but even the harsh, sharp-edged bumps on Melbourne’s often lumpen roads didn’t jar particularly. It’s a testament to both the quality of the parts and Pete’s careful selections. “I like to think with the right amount of planning and research, most, if not all risks [when building a car] can be mitigated,” he says knowingly. “I checked, re-checked and triple-checked the parts that were chosen for the car and I paid very close attention to their fitment and quality before proceeding with the purchase. That research, coupled with the highly talented team over at SouthernBM (his chosen workshop), made the process easy.”

    So, having now built a sleeper that can not just match a 1M but surpass it in every measure (bar width), is Pete satisfied? Is he done? Of course he isn’t. Soon after the shoot, he fitted some Kerscher 1Mstyle front wings and eventually, plans to turn it into a roadregistered track car, complete with rear seat delete, half-cage, Recaro Pole Positions, lithiumion battery, Evolution of Speed N55 manifold, E85 tune and carbon bonnet.

    This would leave him without a daily driver, though, so what gives? Well, on 14 October last year, Pete watched the livestream as #BMW introduced the M2, and soon after, strode into his local dealership and ordered a manual one in Long Beach blue. We guess he never did get over the disappointment of the 1M after all…

    StopTech ST60 front BBK boasts 355mm discs and six-pot calipers, necessary when you’ve got 460whp to play with.


    DATA FILE #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-E82 /
    ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six turbo #N55B30 / #N55 / #BMW-N55 , #M-Performance-Power-Kit-2 , #Pure-Stage-2 N55-turbo, Pure N55 inlet pipe, Evolution Racewerks N55 Type III Hard Anodised Black charge pipe, #AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 N55 intake, ETX 5” FMIC with lower chargepipe, GFB N55 diverter valve upgrade, #AR-Design N55 catted downpipe with ceramic coating, Maddad midpipes, Hartge quad-exhaust outlet silencer, 42 Draft Designs O2 sensor spacer, Dinan High Capacity oil cooler, Burger Motorsports oil catch can, JB4 ISO 5.9 with flex fuel wires - Map 6, Dimple Magnetic sump plug, Walbro 455 E85 Low Pressure Fuel Pump, Dinan Stage 3 Performance Engine Software map, VAC Motorsports N54 oil pan baffle

    TRANSMISSION Standard six-speed manual transmission, Burger Motorsports modified clutch valve, Burger Motorsports Short Throw clutch stop, Quaife 3.08 helical LSD, VAC Motorsports finned differential cover (clear anodised), Dimple Magnetic transmission plug (x2), Turner Motorsport Delrin differential bushings, E46 M3 transmission bushings

    CHASSIS 8.5x18” ET45 (front) and 9.5x18” ET62 (rear) #APEX-ARC-8-Hyper-Black wheels with 235/40 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Hankook Ventus RS-3 tyres, #Apex / #Apex-ARC-8 wheel stud conversion kit, #Project-Kics open-ended lug nuts, BMW E9x M3 strut tower brace, E92 M3 front and rear sway bars, E92 front upper and lower control arms, E92 rear upper control arms, E9x M3 rear lower camber link kit, Ohlins Road and Track dampers with E82 135i 7” 60Nm/MM Swift Springs (front) and E82 1M 9” 120Nm/MM Swift Springs (rear), Swift Thrust Sheets, Ohlins rear damper adjuster extenders, #Vorschlag camber plates, #Dinan-Racing adjustable rear toe arms, #Dinan Monoball front control arm bushings, #Turner-Motorsport aluminium subframe bushings, #StopTech ST60 #BBK with 355x32mm slotted, zinc-coated discs and StopTech Trophy Sport Aerohat hats (front) and #StopTech-ST40-BBK with 345x28mm slotted, zinc-coated discs and Trophy Sport Aerohat hats (rear), StopTech Street Performance pads, StopTech braided brake lines, calipers painted silver

    EXTERIOR M Performance front grille in black, M Performance carbon rear lip spoiler, BMW Blackline LCI taillights, 1M mirror conversion, Hartge dual outlet exhaust diffuser PU-RIM in gloss black, Carbon roundel decals, Philips Silver Vision indicator globes, T10 W5W Amber Chrome side indicator globes, Lux H8 V4 LED angel eyes, Final Inspection Rejuvenation Detail and Full Metal Jacket


    INTERIOR M Performance aluminium pedals, M Performance Alcantara steering wheel with yellow stripe, M Performance gear knob and Alcantara shift boot, M Performance handbrake handle and Alcantara boot, M Performance interior in carbon, M Performance illuminated door sills, Alcantara binnacle cover, JB4 Bluetooth module with Android integration, Precision LED E82 LED interior package, 35 per cent window tint

    THANKS Harold at HP Autosport, Andrew Brien and the crew at SouthernBM
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    LAST CHANCE SALOON

    This stunning bagged E60 lays the visual smackdown. The E60 is not a car you often see modified, but this example makes up for that in a big way… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Petrie.

    When it comes to BMWs, we like them all ways; we like ones that are subtly improved upon and retain their originality but we’re also keen on ones that have just been pushed to the limit and that just come along and smack you in the mouth. Ramiro Sangco’s E60 525i is most definitely the latter because, let’s be honest, there’s not a shred of subtlety or discretion about it. And that’s a good thing. But before we start digging into the details of the car, we’d like to discuss the owner…

    What’s wonderful about the modified BMW community is that age ain’t nothin’ but a number. We’re sure Ramiro won’t mind us mentioning the fact that he’s a touch north of 40 and, looking around the office at people of a similar vintage, that’s the sort of age where you settle into some sort of comfortable, sensible, practical saloon or estate, probably diesel (on this side of the Pond). Or maybe you go for some discreet, grown-up performance in the shape of an M5 or something similar. But not Ramiro. This is partly because once you’re into modified machinery it’s awfully hard to go cold turkey, and partly because, as the owner of MODjunkies Motorsports, he couldn’t possibly be driving around in something drab and dull and standard. Oh no, that would never do.

    The journey to massively-modified E60 began with a 1991 Acura (Honda) Integra, took in a seriously-played-with 1994 Honda Del Sol (which was featured in numerous magazine articles) and a Mercedes C320 that was involved in an accident. The latter car and incident set Ramiro looking for some new wheels and that led him squarely to the doors of BMW, a brand he has been interested in since the early ’90s and one he’s always wanted to own. “Originally I had my heart set on buying a 7 Series,” he says, explaining his choice of BMW. “After doing research on the availability of aftermarket products for the 7 platform, I discovered that there were more parts available for the 5 Series. That made it easy for me to change my mind and go with the E60.”

    Unlike a lot of our feature car owners, Ramiro at least knew that he was going to be modifying his BMW, but like almost everyone else he hadn’t planned on taking things quite this far…

    “My initial plan was to go with a simple setup which included a front lip, wheels and lowering suspension. Because of my association with the automotive industry, I could not just stick to the original plan. I could not stop myself from doing so much more,” he laughs. “The car was modified in stages with the help from my friends at Infinite Auto Design in Bellflower, California, and a good friend, Ernie Corrales, with each lending a hand in gutting the car down to its shell and slowly building it to its current state.” This gives you a rough idea of just how much work has gone into creating this monster of an E60.


    So, where to start? Well, the wheels are arguably the most striking aspect of the entire build, so that seems as good a place as any to begin. Like many of us, Ramiro knew from the outset that he didn’t want to follow the crowd when it came to wheel choice; he wanted something different for his build, and he’s certainly achieved that with these beauties. “With the help of my friend Brian Garin from Infinite Auto Design, I decided to custom build my wheels,” he says. The forged, three-piece wheels feature a classic cross-spoke design, gunmetal centres and vibrant copper outer barrels measuring 20-inches in diameter, a hefty 9.5 inches wide up front, and 11 inches at the rear – really filling out the E60’s big arches and nicely offsetting that large rear quarter panel. Wrapped around those gorgeous wheels is some Falken rubber, the 235 and 255 sizes selected to deliver the optimum amount of stretch to see the combo neatly and safely tucked up inside the arches. And for that to happen, you need some air suspension on board your ride.

    “I originally installed a coilover suspension kit on my car but was not satisfied with the stance of the vehicle and it was hard for me to drive in and out of driveways and over speed bumps,” explains Ramiro. The most obvious solution was to go down the air-ride route which, after doing his research, is precisely what he ended up doing. The strut and airbag assemblies are from D2 Racing while the management is Accuair’s e-Level height-based system. There’s an extremely smart install in the boot, comprising a pair of 2.2-gallon aluminium air tanks from Speciality Suspension, finished in metallic grey, copper hard pipes and twin 444c Viair compressors, all mounted on a piece of wood with an analogue pressure gauge between the tanks adding the finishing touch. Ramiro has also added a pair of Eibach anti-roll bars.

    A quick glance at the exterior will tell you that this is not your common-or-garden E60 and an in-depth study of the spec list will tell you why. When it comes to styling this E60 has had more work done than you can shake a stick at with a real mix of parts but everything comes together so well and the end result is a sheer visual spectacle.

    The bulk of the styling is made up of the Duraflex kit which compromises a 1M front bumper (arguably one of the most aggressive BMW bumpers around), M5 side skirts and a rear bumper. The front bumper has been filled with a diamond-cut mesh grille from Extreme Dimensions and a custom carbon fibre lip, and there’s a vented, bare carbon fibre bonnet by VIS Racing, complete with power bulge. Those side skirts have been embellished with a set of custom carbon side splitters, which seem to be very popular these days, and these are complemented by a pair of rear carbon splitters from Carbon Creations which cling purposefully to the edges of the rear bumper. At the back you’ll also find a Hamann roof spoiler and a CSL-style carbon fibre bootlid by VIS Racing, with just a sliver of carbon on show. The whole lot has been painted in Infinite grey with a fourlayer chromo clear coat. The colour might be a slightly unusual choice but it looks fantastic, a sort of warm grey that works really well with the wheels and various carbon elements, and is just different enough from a regular white to catch your eye and pique your interest. All the styling elements work so well together and this E60 looks like a slice of pure aggression. Heck, even the BMW Performance roof rack looks good and adds a quirky touch to the whole affair.


    Unsurprisingly, the interior has been given just as much attention as the exterior and it’s all rather lavish now. “I wanted my interior to have a rich yet sporty look,” explains Ramiro, “which made it easy to decide to go with the full custom interior.

    The seats and panels are upholstered in leather and perforated suede with a custom double-stitched diamond pattern. There’s also suede on the headliner and steering wheel and I’ve added carbon fibre accents throughout the interior, which give it a little bit of a sporty look.” The combination of suede, leather and carbon-wrapped elements is indeed both sporty and sumptuous and really takes the cabin to a whole new level of luxury and ensures the inside looks and feels just as special as the outside.


    Finally, we come to the engine and, while the 2.5-litre M54 straight-six under the bonnet might not be a particularly fire-breathing powerplant with a large range of aftermarket upgrades available, Ramiro has added a freeflowing intake and a plug ’n’ play Sprint Booster to get it performing at its best. This, then, is a really magnificent 5 Series, the kind of car that makes you sit up and take notice and it has clearly been built by someone who knows what they are doing as everything, from the styling to the colour and wheels, marries together perfectly. As exciting as it may have been to look at, Ramiro is clearly not one to rest on his laurels as, since the photoshoot, the car’s been given a complete makeover, with a new front bumper, side skirts, head and taillights, and a new colour for the wheel lips. By his own admission, Ramiro says that the car is never finished and we expect even wilder things in the future for this roller coaster ride for the eyes.

    Extremely elegant air-ride install features twin metallic grey 2.2-gallon air tanks, copper hardpipes and an analogue pressure gauge; custom Infinite Auto Design wheels boast copper lips and look absolutely stunning.

    TECHNICAL DATA Air-ride / #BMW-E60 / #BMW-525i / #BMW-525i-E60 / #AccuAir-E-Level / #BMW

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M54B25 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , #AFE air intake and filter, Sprint Booster, custom exhaust to fit dual exhaust bumper utilising #Magnaflow components, six-speed auto’ gearbox #ZF6HP / #ZF

    CHASSIS 9.5x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) Infinite #Auto-Design custom three-piece forged wheels with gunmetal cross-spoke centres and copper lips with 235/30 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Falken Azenis FK453 tyres, D2 Racing air-ride, #AccuAir #AccuAir-E-Level management, #Eibach anti-roll bars, #StopTech slotted discs, performance brake pads and braided stainless steel lines (front and rear)

    EXTERIOR Infinite grey with Dupont four-layer chromo clear coat, Duraflex body kit comprising 1M front bumper, M5 rear bumper, M5 side skirts, Extreme Dimensions diamond cut mesh grille, VIS Racing XTS carbon fibre bonnet and CSL-style carbon bootlid, Hamann rear roof spoiler, custom carbon fibre front lip and side splitters, Carbon Creations rear splitters, #BMW-Performance roof rack, Spyder Auto head and tail-lights, custom front LED bumper lights

    INTERIOR Seats retrimmed in leather and perforated suede with double stitched diamond pattern, suede headliner, OE steering wheel custom wrapped in suede, OE shift knob wrapped in 3M carbon fibre, custom suede shift gaiter, AC Schnitzer pedals, handbrake handle and gaiter, panels in suede with double stitched diamond pattern and 3M carbon fibre wrap, 3M carbon fibre-wrapped dash trims, Cadence sub and mid bass amps, subwoofers and mid-range speakers, twin 2.2-gallon seamless Speciality Suspension aluminium air tanks, twin #444c #Viair compressors

    THANKS Infinite Auto Design (www.infiniteautodesign.com), Duraflex (www.duraflexpbushes.com), Carbon Creations (www.carbon-creations.com), Magnaflow (www.magnaflow.com), Stoptech (www.stoptech.com), Cadence Audio (www.cadencesound.com), D2 Racing (www.d2racing.com), Falken Tire (www.falkentire.com), VIS Racing (www.visracing.com), LR Auto Body, Art Induced, Accuair (www.accuair.com), and special thanks to my family and my friends (you know who you are) for all the support and especially the patience

    “I wanted my interior to have a rich yet sporty look…”
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