- Post is under moderationM4CEMENT AGENT
The M4 is an extremely capable machine but there’s plenty more potential to be unlocked, and that’s exactly what Thorney Motorsport has been busy doing. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Richardson.
Thorney Motorsport M4
As far as all-rounders go, the M3 and M4 are really hard to beat. BMW’s move from glorious, high-revving NA V8 to less exciting twin-turbo straight-six was, we suppose, inevitable in terms of the way the motoring world is headed, but while it may not deliver the same sort of spinetingling soundtrack as the S65 V8 did, you really can’t knock the S55. It’s got masses of easily accessible torque, it’s got a big-hitting top end and, driven gently, you can nudge 30mpg, plus the affordable tuning potential is on another planet compared with the S65.
It’s wrapped up in a car that’s, relatively speaking, pretty lightweight – lighter than the E9x M3 – but not short on luxury and creature comforts. As an all-round performance machine it’s nigh-on unbeatable. Of course, that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement, and Thorney Motorsport has been really getting under the skin of the M4 to make it the best it can be.
Now most of us, upon the purchase of a new car, will likely go for a drop, sort out some new wheels and look at getting more power out of it, because that’s just what you do. We’d be happy with that but Thorney Motorsport takes a different, far more measured approach because it’s not modding a car for fun, it’s developing parts that it will sell and it wants to make sure that the car they combine to create is a fullyfledged, finely-honed performance machine.
The M4, you’d think, would be the perfect candidate for a series of improvements to bring out its best, but Thorney has had a somewhat thorny relationship with its M4 and, while many owners are delighted with their cars, we’ve heard of a surprising amount who, after the initial delight of their M3s and M4s had worn off, realised they weren’t happy and were looking at swapping to an E9x M3 instead. So what gives?
“We do a lot of Vauxhall tuning alongside our #BMW work,” explains owner John Thorne, “and I had customers who’d switched from their Astra VXRs to M4s complaining about the handling and traction, saying the car was hard work and they weren’t enjoying it. One guy sold his within a month and a half of buying it. I told them they needed to learn to drive but then we bought our one and I realised there was a problem. In a straight line, it’s fine, but in corners the traction control is forever cutting in and the rear feels loose. Driven hard on the road, it’s a not a good handling car.” That’s surprising to hear but then again, how many of us really push our cars that hard and how many of us have the motorsport experience to be able to analyse exactly what a car’s doing? The handling, therefore, became John’s focus with his tuning programme for the M4 and his desire to tame the M4 and turn it into the car he knows it could be brings to mind one man’s obsession with a certain white whale, but where that made for a great novel this will make for a great driver’s car.
“We went for the geometry first, but there’s not much adjustment and it made no difference, so we went for the springs next. Initially we tried Eibachs, which we found too soft, and we tried Teins which were far too hard, so then we tried H&R’s higher springs, which made no difference, and then went for its lowest offering, which we’re running on the car now. They give a 40mm drop and have really made a difference to how the car feels; previously, the car just couldn’t put the power down in Sport or Sport Plus and in Comfort it was too soft, but now on the Sport setting there’s a lot more grip and it feels more stable through the corners. Though it’s certainly not perfect,” he says, but it’s a cost effective upgrade which makes the car much better.
“I drove a Competition pack car and while it offers more outright grip it’s no better in corners than the standard car; the additional grip is welcome, though, so we’re going to fit a set of Toyo R888s,” explains John. “We’re going to go wider at the back, 285 or maybe even 295, but we’re going to stick with the stock front tyre width as there’s no understeer, just no rear grip.
“We’re working directly with Bilstein to develop dampers for the car, but they have to retain the adjustability of the EDC – the same as its E9x M3 damper, in fact, a plug and play solution. I’ve told Bilstein how the car needs to handle, that the slow speed damper compression needs to be softer and that the rebound is currently too stiff.
Bilstein’s damper curve is much softer on low speed stuff, which is good. We get sent a new set of dampers to test, we make notes of the changes we’d like and then Bilstein sends another set and we see what’s been changed and we carry on like this until we’re both satisfied. The right Bilsteins could transform this car and it would be a Porsche-beater, but we’re not there just yet.
We’re close, though,” he smiles. “That’s our target for each car: to be able to beat Porsches on track. In a straight line, the M4 is quicker than a 911 GT3 RS, but not in the corners, at least no just yet…”
While the handling may be a bone of contention, the perfect setup is not far off and in the meantime Thorney has found a good solution to tame the M4’s wayward handling habits, one that not only doesn’t cost the earth but also actively encourages you to go for an aggressive drop.
One area where the M4 is certainly not lacking is performance and it’s also an area where getting the best out of the car requires a lot less effort. It’s surprising how much of a difference the little things make. “The first thing we did was to run the car for three tanks of fuel using 95 octane unleaded then dyno’d it and then we ran it for three tanks of super and dyno’d it again. On regular unleaded the car was 25hp down on the stated power output of 431hp at the top end, so it’s worth only running it on super.
“The next step was to develop our own remap. It took 96 dyno runs before we were completely happy with the mapping; the remap is our Stage 1 upgrade, which takes power up to 490hp. Stage 2 adds the exhaust, as fitted to this car. It’s a full system, mandrel bent, with 3” piping throughout and also includes 200 cell and 62g cats. This adds another 40hp on top of the remap for a running total of 530hp. Stage 3 will be an oil cooler and bigger chargecooler setup which we’re working on now.” For the moment, though, 530hp is plenty to be getting on with.
“We’ve also added braided lines to the brakes and while we’re working with Pagid to develop a pad for the car, on the road they’re fine and don’t really need to be upgraded. If you want the best brakes possible for track use then I’d recommend ticking the carbon ceramic brake kit box when you’re ordering the car,” he says. And, while the M4 is not a car that’s lacking in the looks department, John has also worked on the car’s styling, adding an M Performance front lip to fill out the front bumper and a Thorney Motorsport carbon rear wing based on the GT4 racer’s spoiler.
It would have been rude to come all the way up to Thorney’s Silverstone HQ and not take the M4 out for a spin and John is keen for me to have a go, especially after I’d just driven Thorney’s track-built E92 M3, and it’s not a hardship to agree to go for a play in his 530hp machine. The first thing you notice is the noise; the M4 isn’t a quiet car and now there’s even more volume to the soundtrack. It still can’t hold a candle to the S65 V8 but if you like your performance cars to sound aggressive the Thorney exhaust system doesn’t disappoint.
The next thing you notice is the power or, rather, the torque. There’s just so much of it; punch the throttle hard at anything above tickover and your head is forced into the headrest, it’s that brutal. In fact, brutal really does do a very good job of describing the power delivery of this car, it’s instant and you get so much of it that it’s all you can do but hang on for dear life. Driving this car makes you feel that there’s no need for any more performance. Any more would be silly, which might sound weird coming from a modified BMW magazine but it just feels so utterly relentless that there’s no situation this car could not deal with.
And that’s before we even get onto the power; 90% of the driving experience is being battered by that brutal onslaught of torque, which propels the car to stupid speeds on even the lightest of throttle applications but when the road allows you the chance to open this M4 up the power is absurd. The delivery is relentless, completely un-turbo-like, and the power keeps on coming all the way to the redline, at which point you must decide whether or not you want to snatch the next gear and go again, or back off and breathe, because the M4’s been accelerating so hard that you’ve forgotten about your basic functions.
In terms of the chassis, the ride is still firm and the traction control seems busy most of the time meaning you really want to find the smoothest, flattest Tarmac before exploring the upper echelons of this M4’s performance envelope. It certainly feels like a more stable beast through the corners, though, and gives you enough confidence to be able to enjoy pushing the car. For the cost of set of springs, if you’re serious about exploiting all of the performance your M4 has to offer, it’s a no-brainer.
Thorney Motorsport’s modified M4 is a ferocious, furious machine which delivers an intense driving experience and feels as fast as you’d ever need or want a car to feel. But while there’s more performance work to come from Thorney along with the aforementioned ongoing quest for the perfect suspension setup that will unlock this car’s full potential, John’s plans go far beyond that: “In the short term I might change the wheels and I want better seats.
I’m not impressed with the standard ones and I’m looking at #HRX race buckets but the ultimate goal is to take this car to the level of the M4 GTS, but better.” That’s exactly what the goal was with the company’s E92 M3 and, judging by our experience with that.
Exhaust system looks the part, with quad carbon tips, and delivers real performance gains.
Exterior has been enhanced with GT4-style spoiler.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Thorney-Motorsport / #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4-Thorney-Motorsport / #BMW-M4-Thorney-Motorsport-F82 / #Thorney-Motorsport-F82 / #Thorney-Motorsport-M4 / #BMW-M4-Tuned / #2016 / #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-F82 / #BMW-4-Series-M4 / #BMW-4-Series-M4-F82
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #S55B30 / #BMW-S55 / #S55 , custom #TMS-remap , high-flow air filters, 3” bore mandrel bent custom full exhaust system with twin silencers, 200 cell 62g cats and quad carbon fibre exhaust tip trims, seven-sped #M-DCT gearbox
CHASSIS 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) Style 437M wheels with 15mm spacers and 255/40 (front) and 275/40 (rear) tyres, #H&R 40mm lowering springs, custom geometry setup, braided brake lines
EXTERIOR M Performance front splitter and air intakes, #TMS #GT4-style carbon fibre rear wing, #TMS-M-Sport livery
INTERIOR All StockStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBe it road or track, Thorney Motorsport’s well-sorted and utterly furious E92 M3 will crush all-comers and all corners. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Richardson.
THORNEY E92 M3 Ferocious 455hp track beast.
TARMAC TERRORIST Track-honed E92 M3
Never pass up the opportunity to drive an E9x M3. Of course, we can’t imagine you would because when you’re presented with the keys to arguably one of BMW’s finest-ever M creations, you’d have to be silly not to. And in the case of Thorney Motorsport’s M3 it wasn’t a suggestion but rather an insistence that I see what the car is capable of and it would be downright rude to refuse such a generous offer. I return a little while later, slightly weak at the knees and feeling like I need a cigarette after the experience I just had. I don’t even smoke…
Thorney Motorsport has been around for 16 years and eponymous owner John Thorne has been involved in the BMW game for as long as anyone can remember. The company did briefly take a hiatus to go racing and add fettling Vauxhalls to the its many talents before returning to its roots a few years ago and taking up the #BMW tuning mantle once more. Its certainly been busy since then as, aside from working on countless customer cars, it has produced a number of awesome demonstrators including a monstrous X5 M, F82 M4 that you’ll be able to read about in a future issue and the car we’re about to get under the skin of today, this magnificent E92 M3.
This is Thorney’s second E92 M3 and represents the final stage of the company’s tried and tested development programme. When a new car is welcomed into the Thorney fold it first spends some time being driven so John and the team are able to really get to know it before stage one can begin. This is the road car development phase which can take up to two years, with numerous modifications and combinations of components being tested, refined and developed in-house in order to get the car and the modifications up to Thorney’s standards. The company’s previous car had undergone the fast road development process before it was sold and when John acquired this 2008 M3 it was specifically to develop and build it up into a track car.
“There’s a big difference between a racing car and a track car,” he explains, “this specific car needs to be comfortable, road legal with an MoT and fun on the road but also track-focused, so it’s a more challenging build. Our principle is to take the best bits of the standard car and make them better, and make the bad bits less bad.”
The end product is a car that, while still trackbiased, you can comfortably drive on the road. It excels in both disciplines. “The whole car,” John continues, “has been inspired by the E92 M3 GTS but we’ve made it better.” That might seem like a bold statement, but having the GTS as a template meant that the Thorney team knew what it needed to do to surpass the BMW-built track special and that’s exactly what it’s done.
Obviously, if you’re building a track car it’s got to have plenty of power, and the M3 certainly isn’t short on that front. On a high compression, naturally aspirated engine you’re always going to struggle to get big gains but, where the GTS had an engine capacity increase up to 4.4-litres to make 450hp, the Thorney M3 makes a dynoproven 455hp from the stock displacement. It also develops 40lb ft more torque than stock with 360lb ft on tap, a significant gain and Thorney has worked to overcome the S65’s lack of low-end torque. The secret to its success is a custom, larger capacity carbon fibre intake plenum, a custom map designed for low-end gains and a Thorney 3” bore exhaust, designed in-house, which John says is perfect for the rev-hungry V8, with one set of silencers and repeaters, enough to pass all track noise tests with minimal exhaust flow restriction, finished off with carbon tips.
“When it comes to building a track car the three most important areas are handling, brakes and seats,” explains John and as a result of that everything on board this M3 has been fitted to make it stop harder and handle better. Nothing fitted to this car is a frivolity and nothing has been left to chance, these mods have been carried out because they work. The wheels are Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2s: “Bulletproof,” says John, “very light and very strong. We run 18s as the E9x handles much better on smaller wheels and it’s the same size that the GT4 uses. We generally prefer to run a square setup but the car is currently on 10s and 11s front and rear with Toyo R888 RR tyres.” That wide rubber means monster grip and traction but that’s not all, it’s backed up by a race-proven aerodynamic package. “The front splitter and adjustable rear wing are both from the GT4; we found that these consistently work well and are genuine motorsport parts. The only difference here is that the GT4 spoiler uses thinner steel upright and this version has thicker alloy ones.”
When it came to suspension, there was only one option as far as John was concerned: “We always work with Bilstein. It’s the most consistent, the best on warranty, it offers excellent support and the R&D process is open enough to listen to suggestions and work with us. We developed the Bilstein Club Sport kit in conjunction with Bilstein, and the one fitted to this car was the first kit in the UK. What sets it apart is that it’s been tuned for UK roads and circuits, which are smoother than the ’Ring, so we can run a stiffer setup, and the dampers are matched to H&R springs.
“For the brakes,” he continues, “we went for Performance Friction discs, bells and pads with our own in-house braided hoses with race fluid. This setup performs very well. It’s 85% of a big brake kit for a third of the cost, with everything coming to £1800 fitted. So far we’ve not found anyone who can out-brake us on track with a BBK.”
While the interior has been lightened to a degree, it’s not the bare, barren, stripped-out environment you might be expecting. “We have stripped some weight out; the rear seats have been removed and the area has been custom-trimmed but it’s not been stripped and gutted because while it is a fun car that’s been designed for the track it can still go on the road so we wanted to retain a degree of comfort. In a track car, harnesses will save your life and decent seats mean you won’t be holding on for dear life when you’re cornering. We went with Cobra for both of these, with an Ultralite motorsport seat for the driver and a Nogaro sport seat for the passenger. We had to re-engineer the whole seats to make them fit and designed our own mounts. We also fitted our own design of half cage, which was inspired by the GTS, but where the GTS cage weighs 70kg, ours is custommade from T45 steel and weighs just 21kg.”
It’s an insanely comprehensive build and while we don’t have a track to hand, I still can’t wait to see how this build feels out on the road. The serious-looking Cobra Ultralite driver’s seat is a little snug for a slightly broader-hipped lady such as myself but hey, at least it means I won’t be going anywhere through the corners. Mercifully there are no harnesses to faff about with for the road either, and the view from where I’m sitting is ordinary, with the stock M3 steering wheel and gear knob having been retained.
The V8 fires with a brrraap and settles into that familiar, busy idle, but with the volume turned up a few notches. It’s loud, and sounds lush, but even with this minimally silenced track arrangement it’s not obnoxious. These first few minutes of normality do lull you into a false sense of security, though, because the minute I get out onto the road and go for the throttle, all hell breaks loose. The Thorney M3 feels apocalyptically fast and while the on-paper figures might not seem all that impressive, it’s the combination of that huge gain in torque and low-end response along with the improved top-end breathing that makes it so much faster. The mid-range performance is now utterly explosive and, where you’d normally find yourself wringing the V8 out all the way to the redline to eke out every last drop of performance, I actually find myself short shifting well before the redline a couple of times as the newfound response and sheer punch of the engine lower down the rev range means that you can make indecently rapid progress without even having to try. Wind the engine all the way out, though, and the relentless acceleration is astonishing. The S65 is doing its exponential power delivery party trick but now there’s a whole lot more fireworks involved and the top end is, frankly, just a little obscene.
The brakes are phenomenal and I can’t imagine a BBK delivering significantly better braking performance than this setup does, the pedal remaining firm and the brakes biting hard corner after corner. But, more impressive than any of that, is the way this M3 changes direction and the way it rides. John said that on a track with warm tyres this car would not understeer, but out on the road and pushing hard it absolutely refuses to let go from either end. Turn-in is instant, there’s no pause as the chassis catches up with your steering input. It responds immediately to every single adjustment you make and its cornering performance and ability are mesmerising. I’m instantly grateful for the snug-fitting seat as it makes such a difference to how hard you can push. The ride is also sublime, with the 18s soaking up the worst of the road surface through those generously-sized sidewalls, while the suspension keeps the car so incredibly planted it’s breathtaking. It feels like it’s physically attached to the road surface and is so incredibly controlled over every dip and undulation. I’ve driven a lot of different E9x M3s on a lot of different roads but this might just be one of the best driving experiences I’ve ever had and having to stop and hand back the keys was genuinely upsetting.
Considering just how much equipment this car boasts the price is possibly the most impressive thing about it; John says that to do everything on this car would cost about £12,000 – that’s the lightweight cage, the full exhaust system, the Bilstein Clubsports, the seats, everything. Cherry pick only what you really want and you could come away with a very capable track car that’s still happy on the road for less than that and, with E9x M3 prices continuing to fall, if you’re serious about track driving then it would be a tempting prospect.
It’s relatively easy to make the E9x M3 go faster, stop harder or handle better but to elevate an already capable car to another level of ability and to make such huge improvements across the board, to hone every aspect of the car’s character to the Nth degree, is impressive and exactly what Thorney has achieved.
“So far we’ve not found anyone who can out-break us on track with a BBK”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Thorney-Motorsport / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #Team-Dynamics / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW-M3-Team-Dynamics / #BMW-M3-Team-Dynamics-E92 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E92
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 / #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 / , #TMS carbon induction kit, TMS stage three ECU custom map, TMS 3” custom built mandrel bent full exhaust system, FIA race cats, carbon fibre quad tail trims. Six-speed manual gearbox
CHASSIS 10x18” (front) and 11x18” (rear) #Team-Dynamics-Pro-Race-1.2 wheels with 265/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Toyo R888 RR tyres, #Bilstein Clubsport kit with #H&R springs, #Performance-Friction discs and bells (front), Performance Friction PF11 pads (front and rear), TMS braided brake lines (front and rear)
EXTERIOR BMW GT4 rear wing, BMW GT4 front splitter
INTERIOR TMS GTS custom built bolt-in rear cage, TMS front race seats, TMS five-point harness, rear seats removed and interior retrimmed
“Our principle is to take the best bits of the standard car and make them better”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAMERICAN RESPONSE
As the E46 M3 CSL never made it to the #USA , #BMW enthusiasts set about building their own, like this tasty pair. America was cruelly robbed of the E46 M3 CSL, so the response of Stateside modifiers has been to create their own with even more muscle. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Marco Svizzero.
It’s easy to get jealous of Americans. They produce money-spinning movies and music loved the world over; they seemingly control the world markets, the internet and practically every satellite in the sky; and if civilisation goes down the plughole, they keep enough gold locked away to hold two fingers up to the rest of us.
But if you want true envy, check out how cheaply Americans can buy a new M3, M5 or Porsche 911, then see how little it costs them to fuel them so they can enjoy playtime for far less coin than the rest of the world.
But occasionally, Europe gets its own back. Prime example is the E46 M3 CSL: a car so raw, pure and driver-focused that it became an instant classic on its 2003 release, and one the enthusiasts went all wobbly over. But not the Americans. They got bitter, frustrated and angry over it as the things just weren’t allowed Stateside due to environmental and safety reasons. There were 1400 examples built, and 1400 didn’t find their way to American showrooms.
So while the non-CSL E46 M3 is almost laughably common on American roads, you’re not about to see a CSL barking its way along canyon roads or buzzing city streets. You may spy something close though. Deny a market like America a car it badly wants and, much like banning a movie, it makes the thing so much more desirable and some will stop at nothing to get it. Pictured here are two Californian E46 M3 CSL replicas, which in many regards are as close to the real thing as possible. Certainly substantial sums of cash have been parted with in their builds, but that’s the price needed to pay proper homage to the ultimate road-going E46 M3.
It’s a price Adam Cook of Citrus Heights in North California paid to create his Steel grey E46 M3 CSL replica. We caught up with him and photographed his CSL replica alongside another built by Andrei Afanasiev – a fellow www.m3forum.net user from California’s Bay Area. Together they are a formidable pairing, with Adam’s looking the more genuine with its CSL-esque paint (originals only came in Silver grey and black Sapphire), even though Andrei’s M3 CS colour is a beautiful shade.
“BMW should have brought the CSL to the US,” Adam said. “There should be a standard that works for both US and Europe for safety and the environment so we can both get the same cars. An example is my other car, a 1M Coupé. They brought that to the US and it sold out fast.” Regardless, Adam got busy building what BMW didn’t provide, and is convinced he’s created something at least the match of a true CSL. “My setup makes more than a stock CSL,” he said. “ I have a better exhaust, pullies and a better software tune.”
Adam bought his E46 M3 brand-new from his BMW dealer in 2002, and was already no stranger to the marque. As well as his 1M he’s owned an E46 330i, E39 530i and an E90 330i. After a few months of M3 ownership on went a K&N panel filter to get the ball rolling, and since then he’s barely drawn breath. To see the inventory of all the previous parts he’s fitted to the M3 as well as what’s currently there – and the wellrecorded cost of everything – is quite frightening. “To build a replica CSL is fairly easy once you get hold of OE parts, and it helps to have more cash than brains and keep throwing money at it,” he said.
Adam wanted to make his car as much of an OE CSL as possible, but also improve on parts where he thought necessary. “My modifying philosophy was if I owned a real CSL what would I change on it?” he said. “I think the likes of headers, brakes, exhaust and suspension could all be improved.”
Starting with the body, Adam has upgraded his M3 with an OE CSL front bumper, lights, side grills, bootlid, carbon fibre rear diffuser and emblems. And impressively, as one of the CSL’s signature elements, he’s managed to add an OE carbon fibre CSL roof. “I got most of the OE CSL parts from a US importer which has sadly recently gone out of business, while the rest I got from a European source,” he said. “I’m glad I got them when I did as CSL parts are now no longer being made.”
Adam said most of the CSL parts are direct replacements on a standard M3, although minor modifying included rerunning wires on occasion. The roof was a different matter though: “The roof is genuine OE BMW, and its install was mostly time and patience,” Adam said. “Eighty-six spot welds needed removing and then the surface was cleaned. The OE roof fitted perfectly so no major work was needed other than adding the centre brace: if you remove the old roof properly there is no extra welding needed other than for the centre brace.”
The interior also mimics a CSL’s with an OE CSL centre console added, something Adam said was basically plug and play. There are online DIY tutorials on forums for the fitting, requiring a bit of time and rerunning window switch wires. Also on are a CSL handbrake gaiter, door trims, handles and door sills, while the rear seat has been removed in the style of the M3 CSL concept model. Recaro Profi XL seats are now up front, which look superb but Adam said they’re not great on long journeys. But ridding his M3 of power front seats and the rear bench has saved a lot of weight. As for CSL-ing the 3.2-litre six-cylinder, parts availability proved a headache. Adam originally fitted a GruppeM intake, but was intent on finding a true CSL air box. “Finding a CSL air box and cam was hard as there are not many in the wild,” he said.
“The first cam I got was broken in shipping and took nine months to get a replace.” Other OE CSL engine parts include the rocker arms, exhaust valves and the head gasket. Adam has enhanced things further with the likes of Supertech Performance dual valve springs, Rogue Engineering power pulleys, some trick cooling and an extensive exhaust system upgrade. Rounded off with OE M3 CSL software and an Evolve ECU tune Alpha-N Stage 3, these enhancements have convinced Adam he has a genuine CSL-beater on his hands.
The car’s six-speed SMG auto has also been given the CSL treatment with its software flash, while Adam uses a Turner Motorsport 3.91 differential and the company’s rear subframe reinforcement. A CSL 14.5:1 steering rack is also employed for the genuine feel, while TC Kline Racing adjustable coilovers and camber/caster plates, Eibach anti-roll bars and Ground Control rear lower control arms are part of a suite of underbody enhancements to push this M3 into CSL territory and beyond.
The genuine look was required under the arches, and Adam sourced genuine 19” CSL rims and shod them in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, rather than the ‘widow maker’ Michelin Cup rubber that made true CSLs so likely to switch ends in the wet. Behind these wheels are mighty StopTech 355mm discs all-round, clamped by four-pots finished in yellow paint. To look upon the car is to believe it’s a true CSL, and one that’s been enhanced impressively further.
Andrei’s car is based on an M3 CS and it too has an impressive spec sheet. Under the bonnet the S54 has been given an OE CSL carbon air box running Evolve Alpha N software and VAC Ultra Light 2 pulleys. He’s also removed the sound deadening to enjoy more of that intoxicating induction howl. Strapped to the Dinan strut brace are the remote reservoirs for the Moton Club Sport dampers and the chassis has been further upgraded with an AC Schnitzer rear anti-roll bar, Poweflex bushes throughout and a TMS subframe reinforcement kit, while for the exhaust system, he opted for an Eisenmann Section 2 and Meisterschaft Ti system.
Parked side-by-side, the two E46s look as though they belong at the M3 CSL top table. And so they should with the huge amount of time and money involved, including the relentless hunt for OE CSL parts for the builds. Much like true CSLs, they have that look about them that makes you want to grab the keys and be left alone on a winding stretch of open road for a few hours.
“I prefer back roads to the track,” Adam said, “and am one of the few people in North California who organises meets and drives. I have a website called www.raddrives.com that lists my favourite drive routes, and one of the best is Valcano which is perfect for the CSL. It’s a joy to drive because you feel the connection to the car and the road, and as the last of the high revving straight-six motors you can feel that passion the M guys put into the car. Cars now are faster, but some of the soul has been lost for progress.”
Adam wouldn’t dissuade anyone from building their own CSL replica, but he warned that OE parts are a pain to find as there are few parts and plenty of people after them. It’s not cheap either, so despite the rising value of genuine CSLs, if your country was lucky enough to sell them – unlike in America – it may be best to just buy a real one.
DATA FILE #BMW-M3-CSL / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-CSL-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #SMG / #BMW-M3-CSL-SMG -E46
ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , OE #CSL air box, hoses, exhaust manifold and cats, #Eisenmann Section 2 and #Meisterschaft Ti exhaust system, #VAC Ultra Light 2 pulleys, Evolve Alpha N software, deleted sound deadening under the bonnet.
TRANSMISSION: E46 M3 six-speed SMG auto with OEM CSL SMG software, Dinan 3.91 limited-slip diff.
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) OE E46 M3 CSL light alloy rims shod in 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, #Dinan front strut tower brace, #Powerflex polybushes, #TMS subframe reinforcement kit, #AC-Schnitzer rear anti-roll bar, Moton Club Sport dampers, front and rear #BBK .
EXTERIOR: OEM BMW E46 M3 CSL carbon fibre roof, black roof rails, bootlid, rear diffuser, front bumper with splitters, side grills and micro filter housing. #BMW electric Euro mirrors, outer LEDs on brake lights enabled, IB painted bonnet washer grille, headlight shroud assembly and keyhole driver door delete, #3M front end and roof clear bra, E46 M3 CS paint.
INTERIOR: OE E46 M3 CSL seats, centre console, handbrake gaiter, door trims, handles and door sills.
ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32-TUNED OE E46 M3 CSL air intake, snorkel and flap, map sensor, inlet camshaft, rocker arms, exhaust valves and head gasket, head blueprinted and flow tested, #Supertech-Performance dual valve springs, #Rogue-Engineering power pulleys, Samco radiator hose kit, #Zionsville E46 M3 Competition cooling kit, Zionsville SPAL speed fan kit, Turner Motorsport Fluidyne oil cooler kit, Supersprint stepped exhaust manifold with stepped metallic 100 cell cat system and resonated X-pipe, Eisenmann Racing exhaust, Ignition Solutions plasma coils, OE E46 M3 CSL software – #DME flash for base setup and #Evolve ECU tune #Alpha-N Stage 3.
TRANSMISSION: E46 M3 six-speed SMG auto with OE CSL SMG software flash, UUC red transmission bushings, Turner Motorsport 3.91 differential, #Turner-Motorsport E46 rear subframe reinforcement.
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) OE E46 M3 CSL light alloy rims shod in 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, Turner Motorsport 10mm front wheel spacer kit, #StopTech big brake kit with 355mm discs and painted yellow four-piston calipers all-round, stainless steel brake lines, TC Kline Racing True Match adjustable coilover system (500 front, 600 rear), TC Kline Racing camber/caster plates, #Eibach front and rear anti-roll bars, Ground Control rear lower control arms, CSL / ZCP 14.5:1 steering rack.
EXTERIOR: OE E46 M3 CSL front bumper, front lights and side grills, CSL wing grill emblems, OE E46 M3 CSL carbon fibre outer panel roof, bootlid and carbon fibre rear diffuser, LED rear light upgrade.
INTERIOR: OE E46 M3 CSL centre console, handbrake gaiter, door trims, handles and door sills, #Recaro Profi XL bucket seats, rear seat delete based on E46 M3 CSL concept model, CSL #SMG black aluminium paddles, hard wired Valentine V1 radar detector.
Andrei has removed the sound deadening from his engine bay and added #VAC-Ultra-Light-2 pulleys plus a #Dinan strut brace and Moton Club Sport dampers.
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