- Post is under moderationTrack Tek E46 M3 racer
You want a race car? Track Tek will build you one and its awesome E46 M3 shows just what the company is capable of. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Richardson.
One track mind
The dream of racing is shared by just about anyone with an interest in cars. For most of us, the closest we’ll get to realising that dream is in the virtual world playing the likes of Gran Turismo, or on a track day or karting with friends. However, some people have the means and the talent to take to the track for real and when they do they want a proper car that can do a proper job. That’s where Track Tek comes in.
Owner Nick Hawes has been building race cars for some time now but the foray into #BMW s is a more recent venture. “We used to build Jap stuff but the demographic and cars themselves made us want a change; we’d spend six months developing a car only for the owner to go and change things. We then took a look at BMWs and that’s the direction we decided to go in. We immediately found that BMWs are better to work on and we thought that the parts would be better as well, but we quickly found that was not the case,” he says with a degree of disappointment and exasperation.
That certainly didn’t hold the company back or slow it down, as the striking E46 M3 in front of us shows. “We built the car for Jason West to race in the Kumho Championship,” explains Nick, “and we’d previously built and prepped four more E46 M3 shells, including one that went to Italy, one for another race prep company in France, one for a competitor in the Kumho Championship as well as a supercharged M3 used for track days. Each one is a showcase for what we are capable of creating.
“The M3 ended up being a huge development tool for us and it’s certainly been a learning experience,” says Nick. “We ended up engineering solutions to problems, which no one else has done, like making our own rear subframe tie-in kit, with the subframe bolting to the roll-cage. The M3 itself was a 52,000-mile, 52-plate car that we bought from a kickboxing champ who wanted it kept stock. I didn’t mention our track plans,” he laughs. “It’s taken two years to build, although it’s not been a full-time project, but we weren’t going to rush this.
We always approach a build with the aim of working towards the end goal – it’s a slower process but the end results are better.” It’s hard to be presented with a race car and go anywhere else but under the bonnet, and that’s where you’ll find a big surprise.
“The engine is basically stock,” says Nick as I gaze at the S54 and wonder what manner of magnificent internal upgrades have been carried out. Say what now? “It’s stock,” Nick repeats, “bar a few very minor changes like the carbon air box, the #ARP rod bolts, Radium fuel rail, reworked oil pump and our own custom stainless steel exhaust with FIA cats, but that’s it.” That’s certainly a surprise because you’d naturally expect a car like this to have had some serious engine work to go with the rest of the car, but there’s actually a very good reason for keeping the power down. “We have to work to hp/tonne restrictions,” explains Nick, “and we have 100hp less than almost everyone else, but we’re also 100kg lighter than everyone else at 1130kg wet. Keeping the engine stock means it’s less stressed and more reliable. Also, having a naturally aspirated engine in the first place means there’s a not much to go wrong. It’s nice to tune as well, and because we’re lighter it means that it’s not hampered in terms of performance. We’re just as quick as the opposition, but we can brake later and corner faster,” he grins, and that’s pretty important when you’re racing.
The transmission, though, isn’t standard as it obviously has to deal with an awful lot of stress in each race and has been suitably beefed up. The gearbox itself is the tough, five-speed #ZF Type C unit from the E36 M3 3.0 and has been mated to a CAE shifter on the human side and a Tilton sonic twin-plate clutch and hydraulic slave cylinder on the mechanical side. Power is fed to the rear wheels via a Drexler diff running a BMW Motorsport 4.11 ring and pinion gear set.
While the engine may be virtually untouched, the same can’t be said of the rest of the car, which has been absolutely transformed. “The aim for this car was to go light, but at the same time we were stepping into a new series and we didn’t want to take everything out of the car, only the stuff we knew we could. We have to work within the confines of the stock bodystyle, though we’re allowed a spoiler and front splitter as you can see.”
As Colin Chapman once said: “Simplify, then add lightness.” It’s a philosophy that works brilliantly when it comes to building a race car and, with everything removed that could safely be removed, it was time to add lightness. “We bought some carbon fibre parts,” says Nick, “but the quality was really poor so we decided to make our own,” as you do. The car wears a Track Tek carbon bonnet, front bumper with integrated undertray and a plywood splitter (“it’s tough and works well,” he tells us) and Track Tek FRP doors. There is a carbon roof, naturally, FRP front wings, and an FRP CSL boot, which is topped off with that aforementioned carbon wing, also of Track Tek’s own design. The heavy glass windows have been replaced with lightweight poly items and even the wiring loom is a custom lightweight affair, though the electronics themselves are heavyweight with some serious Motec gear including an M600 ECU and PDM30 Power Distribution Module. We also have to mention that gorgeous shade of green that this E46 M3 is finished in. The car was originally wrapped in chrome green, Nick tells us, but when Track Tek got hold of it, it was treated to a nicer wrap by Hexis in Boston green and it really is a stunning shade and suits the car so well.
Moving inside we come to quite possibly the biggest change on the whole car and easily the most surprising: it’s left-hand drive. “It was originally RHD,” Nick clarifies, “but we converted it to left-hand drive as having the driver on the nearside of the car balances out the engine being angled over to one side and putting more weight on the offside of the car.” It certainly makes sense and shows just how much work Track Tek has put into this car.
A left-hand drive E36 FRP flocked dash has also been fitted and inside it sits a #Motec C185 display and there’s also a programmable keypad. Other additions include an OMP steering wheel, plumbed-in electrical FEV fire system, a Cobra Sebring Pro seat with a Schroth six-point harness and a full T45 International roll-cage. The boot houses the fuel system with twin Bosch 044 pumps but, unlike some of the monster builds we feature, they’re not used at the same time, with one running and the other acting as a back up. If the PDM identifies a problem it will automatically switch over to the reserve pump. There’s also an ATL swirl pot and Earls fuel filters before and after the pump.
The chassis on a race car is obviously hugely important and Track Tek has really gone to town here, as you’d expect. “We run a set of second-hand Öhlins TTX four-way coilovers; new they’re very expensive, about £10,000, but they’re amazing so even a second-hand set is well worth having.” The coilovers are fitted with Motec potentiometers on the dampers for data logging and are joined by Eibach adjustable rear arms as well as Track Tek front and rear blade anti-roll bars with adjustable drop links. The Turner Motorsports catalogue was plundered for solid diff mounts, solid subframe mounts, spherical trailing arm bushes, spherical upper rear control arm bushes and Delrin control arm bushes.
That’s all very impressive, but there’s so much more to the chassis mods than just the suspension work, as Nick explains. “We do race car shell prep here at Track Tek so the M3 has our own solid inserts and body plates, T45 driver and passenger seat tubes. It’s also been fully seam welded and the subframes have been reinforced.” This makes this E46 as stiff as possible.
Wheel fans will have no doubt spotted the forged #RAYS TE37 wheels, chosen for their lightness and strength, which measure 9.5x18” up front and 10.5x18” at the rear and sit on 5mm and 10mm spacers respectively. “In terms of brakes,” says Nick, gesturing at the car’s massive stoppers, “we run Alcons all-round; we have tried and tested pretty much everything available and nothing else comes close. We’ve got six-pots up front with 365mm floating discs and four-pots at the rear over 343mm discs.” These are further bolstered with braided hoses all-round plus there’s a Tilton bias valve, hydraulic handbrake and in-line brake pressure sensors for data logging.
At the time of the shoot the M3 had competed in two races and had definitely proved itself, qualifying in pole and leading both races, and that was Jason’s first time behind the wheel, which shows just how impressive this car is. But you’d expect nothing less considering all of the work, and money that have gone into building it. “There’s a joke that goes ‘how do you make £1million in motorsport? Start with £2million’,” laughs Nick. “To sum it up, 4000 hours of labour has gone into the car, which would have worked out at £44,000, as well as about £100,000 in parts, which includes £2000 on the ECU and £10,000 on the loom.” No one ever said that motorsport was cheap but this car was built to win.
“Keeping the engine stock means it’s less stressed and more reliable”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-Track-Tek / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-46 / #BMW-S54 / #S54 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Track-Tek / #BMW-M3-Track-Tek-E46 / #Track-Tek / #Turner-Motorsports /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 , reworked oil pump, #ARP rod bolts, competition air rail, Fuel Lab FPR, carbon air box, Track Tek custom stainless exhaust with FIA cats, Radium fuel rail, five-speed E36 M3 #ZF-Type-C gearbox, Tilton sonic twin plate clutch and hydraulic slave cylinder, Drexler diff, BMW Motorsport 4.11 ring and pinion gear set, #Mocal diff oil cooler, pump and filter
CHASSIS 9.5x18” (front) and 10.5x18” (rear) #Rays-TE37 forged wheels with 5mm (front) and 10mm (rear) spacers, Öhlins TTX four-way coilovers with Motec potentiometers on dampers for data logging, Track Tek blade anti roll bars (front and rear) with adjustable drop links, Track Tek T45 rear subframe kit, Track Tek solid inserts and body plates, T45 driver and passenger seat tubes, fully seam welded, subframes reinforced, Eibach adjustable rear arms, Turner Motorsports solid diff mounts, solid subframe mounts, spherical trailing arm bushes, spherical upper rear control arm bushes and Delrin control arm bushes, Alcon six-pot callipers with 365x32mm floating discs (front), Alcon four-pot calipers with 343x28mm discs (rear), braided lines throughout, Tilton bias valve, hydraulic handbrake, in-line brake pressure sensors for data logging
EXTERIOR Boston green wrap by Hexis, Track Tek carbon fibre bonnet, carbon fibre front bumper with integrated undertray and front splitter with stays and FRP doors, carbon fibre roof, FRP wings, FRP CSL bootlid, Track Tek carbon wing and end plates, poly windows with sliders and rear vents, heated front screen
INTERIOR Converted to LHD for better balance, Track Tek flocked FRP E36 dash, Motec C185 dash and programmable keypad, OMP steering wheel, Lifeline snap-off boss, OMP adapter, custom carbon fibre steering wheel interface, CAE Shifter, Cobra Sebring Pro seat, Schroth sixpoint harnesses, full International T45 roll-cage, plumbed-in electrical FEV fire system, solid state battery isolator, Braille Lithium GU1R battery, full custom lightweight loom, Motec M600 ECU, Motec PDM30 Power Distribution Module, twin Bosch 044 pumps, one main one reserve, ATL swirl pot, Earls fuel filters pre- and post-pumpsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAWESOME 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 tweetersStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation
An awesome E46 323i four-door packing a #BBK , carbon goodies and #Schnitzer styling galore. At a loss how to modify your four-door E46? Let Alan Lam and #AC-Schnitzer show you how. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Matt Barnes.
There are some BMWs that effortlessly ooze class. These are the cars that when cruising past, you stare longingly at, not because they’re intrusively loud or garishly decorated, but because they’ve been beautifully and thoughtfully modified. Money’s been thrown in all the right places, and the owner has insisted on the best to make his ride become even more of a rewarding driving machine and easier on the eye.
With BMW’s current 3 Series, most choose the Coupé variant as the base for modifying work. And who can blame them? The two-door is indeed a design marvel in terms of beauty and desirability, so it’s an ideal starting block. Those with the saloon version are presented with more of a modifying challenge. It’s by no means an ugly car, but a little more thought has to go into how to bring the best out of the practical four-door. Looking at Alan Lam’s ’00 323i, we think he’s pretty much cracked it.
The native New Yorker is by all accounts one of the most enthusiastic BMW modifiers we’ve ever met – you’d be lucky to find anyone more knowledgeable and helpful about what it takes to make these cars a pleasure to look at and drive. So it’s no surprise to discover the sheer amount of work put into turning his Orient blue 323i into the feature car we have here today.
Alan’s love affair with the marque goes back to his high school days, where the E36 M3 was his dream car. “It was only after BMW released the pictures of the new E46 I knew I had to get one, though,” he told us. “My first BMW was therefore delivered in December ’99, and it was used as my daily driver to school and work, so modifications were kept at a minimum and nothing major was planned.”
And how many times have we heard that? It seems Alan started customising the little things, beginning with OEM clear lights all round, and realised there was no way of stopping. The bug had bitten. Before long a Supersprint exhaust and ECIS cold air intake found their way onto the car, and the results were addictive.
“The E46 was too quiet,” Alan said, “especially driving a manual. You want to hear the engine to let you know when to shift. The exhaust and cold air intake made a dramatic difference in the car’s performance and fun factor, and I found myself blipping the throttle downshifting just to hear the lovely sound the engine now made. I even had the front and rear resonators removed to make it even louder and deeper, and it now sounds just like a stock E36 M3.”
As you can tell from the photos, however, these mods were just the beginning. Alan discovered Dtmpower.net, Bimmervibe.com and E46fanatics.com on the Internet, and these forums opened up a whole new world of potential tuning ideas. “I found myself browsing on it all day and night learning more about what I could do to the car,” the 26-year-old IS administrator said. Inevitably he met up with like-minded enthusiasts, and knew he wanted more from his car. A lot more.
Having an overall gameplan is an absolute necessity if you’re modifying to attain a certain look. It’s best to gain inspiration from others, see what there is on the market you think works best, and add your own personal touches. Alan can’t be faulted for his choice of AC Schnitzer styling; a brand, he tells us, he chose due to its racing heritage and reputation as the most widely respected BMW tuner in the world. We’re not about to disagree.
“I wanted my car to be a Schnitzer car,” he said. “First thing was ordering a full Schnitzer body kit along with a set of 18” rims. I didn’t like the rear spoilers offered by Schnitzer so I decided to go with a Racing Dynamics one instead.” Also at this time, Eibach springs and BogeSachs BMW sport shocks tightened everything up, while a modern styling touch in the shape of xenon front lights courtesy of bekkers.com found their way on. With Hamann eyebrows and shadow grilles added as well, Alan had reached the end of the second stage of modifying. Once again he was satisfied with the car’s look, so you’d have thought he’d have stopped here. No way.
Styling is one thing, but finding more power really is best for putting a smile on your face. “There were virtually no turbo kits available,” said Alan, “nor any reliable supercharger kits making any decent power at the time. Instead, Rogue Engineering had connections with an excellent BMW technician who was able to do some motor work for me. I got hold of Schrick cams, Jim Conforti Shark Injector software and ended up swapping my ECIS intake in favour of a beautiful Gruppe M carbon fibre unit.” Good choice.
Soon after, Alan was collecting a first place trophy in the Mild category at Bimmerfest East, and was recruited by TWCompetition. Things were looking up, and so were the planned mods to his 323i. These final mods are basically the look the car sports in the photos, and the sheer amount and quality of work is commendable. Nineteen-inch HRE wheels were custom made by Peter Lee at wheelexperts.com, while the suspension was swapped for H&R coilovers set at maximum drop for the rear and about 90% at the front. That’s seriously low. Riding that close to the tarmac has obvious drawbacks, so, in Alan’s own words, “to help scan the crappy New York roads rolling on big 19s, I swapped the standard halogen foglights for 5300K xenons.”
Nestled behind those beautiful custom wheels are some serious anchors, 320mm up front courtesy of Brembo, with a Rogue Engineering/Porsche 329mm hybrid setup at the rear. Alan assures us at the time this was done, no other E46 had both front and rear big brakes. Ever the groundbreaker, with the front bumper sporting an Schnitzer add-on becoming more common, Alan changed his for an OEM E46 M3 bumper. With this being almost 2” wider than the 323i item on each side, Ultimate Collision had a hell of a task making it fit, but have certainly excelled themselves with the finish. The addition of a new Schnitzer carbon fibre splitter completes the very tasty new look. Soon after, Schnitzer was called upon again to provide an M3 racing spoiler, a truly unique look for a saloon car.
Then there’s the final hurrah. If you put a carbon fibre bonnet on the wrong car it’s an expensive mistake, but on Alan’s modified E46 323i it’s a revelation. It blends in nicely with the Orient paint, and completes what is a stunning four-door.
Standing back to admire it, the final look is a thing of beauty. The custom front bumper, the large but tasteful rear wing, the huge brakes primed for action behind the flawless, polished alloys. It may be a four door, but how many coupés look this desirable? Alan tells us he knows of no other saloon in the US with this look, but we’re hoping many will take inspiration from him to create something even half as nice as his stunning 323i.
GruppeM carbon fibre air intake – every #BMW should have one!
DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-323i / #BMW-323i-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #M52TUB25 / #BMW-M52 / #M52B25 / #M52 / #BMW
ENGINE: 2.5-litre six-cylinder with #Schrick performance 248° cams, #Rogue-Engineering underdrive pulleys, #Gruppe-M carbon fibre air intake, #Jim-Conforti engine software, #Supersprint 76mm cat-back exhaust with both resonators removed, Imola red valve covers
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” #HRE-448R three-piece forged alloys shod in Toyo T1-S 235/35 tyres. H&R fully adjustable coilover suspension system, #H&R Trak Plus 5mm spacers, #Racing-Dynamics anti-roll bars, #Turner-Motorsports rear shock mounts, silver M3 front strut brace. #Brembo 320mm big brake kit (front), #Rogue-Engineering /Porsche 329mm big brake kit (rear), #Hawk-HPS racing pads, #Goodridge stainless steel brake lines, #ATE Super Blue brake fluid. Rogue Engineering short-shifter, weighted selector rod and tranny mounts. Redline synthetic fluids
EXTERIOR: Euro-spec OEM M3 bumper custom fitted onto a saloon chassis, #AC-Schnitzer carbon fibre M3 front spoiler, aluminium stabiliser struts, rear apron, roof spoiler, sport mirrors, racing wing and badges, Fiber Images carbon fibre bonnet. Hamann shadow grilles, Hamann eyebrows, #M-Tech side skirts, Nova 4 professional strobe kit, custom fitted facelift ’02 BMW rear lights, Euro-spec clear side repeaters, xenon 5200K foglight kit, xenon 5200K ellipsoid headlights.
INTERIOR: M3 leather sport seats custom fitted into saloon, two-tone leather treatment, Sparco Clubman threepoint safety harnesses, AC Schnitzer full pedal set and floor mats. Aluminium interior trim and gear shift, NR Auto aluminium gauges, Isotta chrome gear shift surround
ICE: Alpine 7965 CD head unit, CHA 1214 12-disc changer, SPR 176A 6.5” components, SPR 172A 6.5” coaxial. Rockford Fosgate 400 four-channel amp, 360 two-channel amp, 1.0 Farad capacitor. Allumapro BP10 subwoofer enclosure
THANKS: TWCompetition, Peter at wheelexperts.com, Samir at Rennsport.com, Tom Chang at Bimmerfesteast.com, Ooro and Drea at Bimmervibe.com, Jimmy at Pfactor.com, Mark and Ben at Rogueengineering.com, Barry at Race Technologies, Dtmpower.net, E46fanatics.com, Cave Crew, Michael Cajayon, Rich Pinto at Rtechnic, my girlfriend Mabel, friends and family
Above: Rogue Engineering/Porsche 329mm big brake kit for the rears! Up front are Brembo 320mm. Left: Plenty of lovely carbon fibre.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSTAR OF CCTV #2015
All eyes are on this stunning, slammed Stateside E36 M3 which ticks all the boxes when it comes to visual impact. Josh Berger’s E36 M3 is a luxurious show-stopper in a post-apocalyptic frenzy of eyes and ears. That it’s also hilarious fun to drive seems to be merely a fringe benefit… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Mike Kuhn.
George Orwell had a paradoxical eye on this car back in 1949. When his frighteningly prescient dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four hit the shelves, the idea of an all-pervading culture of authoritarian surveillance shocked and disturbed, seeming inconceivable to a postwar society of scarcity and simplicity. And yet it’s pretty much come true: every facet of your modern existence is performed before a lens.
It’s never a surprise to learn that any act, movement or indiscretion has been backed up on a hard-drive somewhere. We barely notice those yellow triangular signs any more, we just assume we’re being watched. And there are three ways to react to this: you do the Orwellian thing and toe the line, never putting a foot wrong for fear of reprisals; you rebel, throwing authority’s diktat back in its face, and screw the consequences; or you follow the example of Josh Berger, the gentleman in the driving seat of this E36 M3, and just get on with things. Make yourself happy. The world is watching, so what’s the point in not being yourself?
Josh has always found himself under scrutiny and observation, it doesn’t bother him any. “I grew up heavily influenced by extreme sports and motorsports,” he explains. “I raced dirt bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles, and pretty much anything with an engine.” All of which sets him squarely in the searchlight – these are noisy, visible sports, the sort of thing that doesn’t easily blend you into the white noise of everyday society. And it was only natural that this exuberance would lead him into the colourful world of modified #BMW ownership, right? We’re all somewhere along that path, after all. We know the score. “I got my first BMW at the age of 17,” he says, “which was a nice little E30 ’Vert that I lightly modified before moving onto an E34.
E36s were always one of my favourites, though, and a few of my family members had some really nice M3s which is what got me hooked. At age 19 I bought my first E36… and it was a total shitbox! It had primer, bondo, scrapes, the interior was trashed, all of that stuff. After four years of work to get it up to scratch, and about $25k, the car was completely resculpted to my liking – before a drunk-driver decided to slam into it while it was parked and totalled it. So it began again. I bought another chassis, swapped all the parts over to it, got it a fresh coat of paint and I had another nice E36 for a while. After a year or so I sold it and went in and out of several other cars, experimenting with new ideas, as you do.”
It was around this time that Josh started working at Atlanta Motorsports Park as a driving instructor, and soon enough had the urge for another E36 M3. Again, he’s in a pretty visible position in a role like that, and he’s not showing any wallflower tendencies, is he? “I told myself that this time was going to be different,” he recalls. “At this point I had just got married, and my wife was expecting a baby girl, too. But that didn’t stop my dad and I from trying to find a great little track car… lo and behold, we found this little gem online. It belonged to another father/son duo who used it for HPDE (High Performance Driver Education) and track days. The car was pretty rough, showing all its years on the track, with thousands of stone chips peppering the whole front of the car; the interior was half-gutted. It was perfect!”
A quick test-drive was all that it took to convince the guys that this was the ideal base for their project, warts-and-all, and a truckload of extra parts sweetened the deal, along with comprehensive service info documenting the car’s entire history. The plan in embryo was to spin the thing up into a budget track car for weekend use, although life got in the way, as it’s so compelled to do, and Josh found himself yearning for a change of pace. “After a few months of it just sitting there after the birth of my daughter, I decided to slow things down a little bit and enjoy some time with my friends doing the ‘low and slow’ thing,” he says. “And so it began…”
Everyday life for Josh involves running an exotic and luxury car dealership by the name of GAS Motorcars, just outside Atlanta, Georgia. A mosey through the company’s stock list reveals such swanky trinkets as 356 Speedsters, Mercedes-Benz 600 Grossers W100, modern Ferraris and classic ’50s Chevys. When you’re surrounded by this sort of metal, you clearly get a keen sense of quality, finish and finesse. And it’s this environment that dictated the logical direction of the forlorn M3. It also helped the car’s character that it was specced with the Luxury Package (as opposed to the Sport Package which was, er, sportier); while the engine, transmission and suspension were the same, the Lux came from the dealer with unique wood trim inside, different non-twisty sideskirts, alternative doorcards and seat leather without M-stripes, and a raft of style changes to accentuate the premium accent. So, a concours-standard build to luxurious spec it was, then. Decision made.
As the myriad CCTV cameras refocused on the transmuting M3, Josh started to draw up a plan of action. And sorting the suspension had to be the first thing on the list. He was eager to get the thing nice and low but also retain a decent level of ride quality – essential if you have a tiny person to ferry about – and that’s where the experts at Broadway Statics came into play, their 500 Series coilovers fitting the bill perfectly. “I was going for a quality build this time – no shortcuts, just good, solid work,” Josh says with a deservedly heightened level of pride. “I purchased all new lights and got the windows tinted, and it started to clean up pretty well. And then it was time to think about the wheels.”
With the stance sorted and a vision for a quality finish in mind, choosing the right rims for the project was no easy task. After much headscratching and mocking up, Josh picked up a set of CCW LM5Ts from a friend who had them fitted to an E46 Saloon. “Then I had to find a way to make them fit!” he laughs. “This was the time to shine for Tim and Dan at TL Collision. Together we stripped down the entire car – glass, weatherstripping, all the panels – and then we pulled, rolled, hammered until we got the arches pushed out well enough. After smoothing the wings and recreating the factory body contours we wanted to keep, the car went in for paint.”
Oh, and what paint it is. Resplendent in a fresh and mile-deep slathering of BMW’s own Arctic silver, the colour is perfect to represent the class and quality that Josh was shooting for from the off – understated and subtle yet utterly beguiling in conjunction with the other modifications. It’s a shimmering masterstroke. “On the car’s return we put it back together with all new weatherstripping, new clips and grommets, and new glass all-round. I then decided to have a bit of fun in building a fully custom diffuser for the rear; it began its life as an OEM Lotus Evora diffuser, and it provided a lot of amusement for me creating this rear section, which was my first shot at metalwork and sculpting.”
With the body looking tip-top and the way the M3 sat being pretty much bang-on, Josh had his buddy Geordie at Butler Tire wrap the freshened-up CCWs in lo-pro rubber before bolting the whole shebang back together. From thereon in, it was simply a case of throwing a set of black Vader seats inside and enjoying the show season!
“I took it out to the Import Alliance show, Southern Wörthersee, Offset Kings, Southrnfresh and a few other shows this year and people’s reactions have been great,” he smiles. “People here in Atlanta have a good understanding and appreciation of the hard work involved in building a proper show car.” There’s also a lot of entertainment to be gleaned from the dropped-jaw bystanders who inevitably ask the same questions of a car like this: ‘how on earth do you actually drive it that low and with that camber?’ “It just makes me laugh really,” says Josh. Well, yeah – he’s built this car for him; people will either get it or they won’t. He called it a show car there but that really doesn’t do justice to the holistic view Josh has taken with putting this E36 together and pulling it back from the ignominy of being a tired, thrashed track car. The refreshed S50 straight-six has enjoyed a lot of bespoke headwork which, along with the custom exhaust (straight-through, no cats, really quite noisy) and the Stage 2 air intake, really gets the 3.0 singing from the motorsport song-sheet. It’s not just a show car, it’s a track car and a daily driver, too, and the focus on quality means it’s truly a car for all seasons. He’s really kept a focus on having a usable machine as well: “It’s all genuine OEM inside with an armrest delete, stock radio, nice and simple, just the way I like it. No CD upgrade either, it’s still got the original radio-cassette!”
It’s this attention-to-detail in terms of following a personal agenda that demonstrates just how Josh has built a car to be used, and used hard. Sure, he selfeffacingly refers to it as a show car – and it’s a bona fide show winner – but it’s a proper, everyday performance BMW, too. And while the CCTV cameras squeak on their pivots as they strain to keep track of him, he’s always keeping one step ahead of the game. Yeah, everybody’s watching, and he knows it… and that’s all the impetus he needs to keep it fresh. But it is, first and foremost, fun to drive, and that’s all an M3 needs to be. All eyes on Josh – but he’s having too much fun to care. In your face, Orwel.
Lotus Evora diffuser has been modified to fit the rear bumper.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-M3 /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30US / #S50 #BMW-S50 / #S50B30 , #AFE-Magnaforce Stage 2 air intake, polished head with five-angle valves, #Turner-Motorsports chip, full 3” straighthrough decat exhaust, five-speed manual gearbox, UUC M5 clutch.
CHASSIS 9.5x17” ET4 (front) and 10.5x17” ET9 (rear) CCW LM5T wheels with brushed faces with satin clear and polished lips (3.5” front; 4.5” rear), 215/40 (front) and 235/40 (rear) Nexen tyres, polished #ARP bolts, #Broadway-Static 500 Series coilovers with 16-18k spring rates, #Driftworks front camber shim kit, #Megan-Racing rear camber arms (-8 degrees of camber at rear, -6 degrees at front), factory-sized #StopTech grooved discs, #Hawk-Performance pads, steel braided lines, carbon-fibre brake duct with carbon-fibre backing plate.
EXTERIOR Body resto and respray in Arctic silver, all four arches pulled 1”, all new weatherstripping, new glass, lightly smoked corner lenses and rear lights by #DEPO , OEM headlights running 6000K HIDs, #AC-Schnitzer-Duraflex / #AC-Schnitzer front lip, 1995 M3 Sport centre grille, OEM paint-matched fog blanks and black kidney grilles, custom modified Lotus Evora rear diffuser.
INTERIOR Black Vader seats, ZHP gear knob, OEM centre console with armrest delete, OEM radio-cassette.
THANKS Thanks to my wife and family for all their support in this project. Also huge thanks to everyone who made this build possible: my BEAST COBB Squad, Tim at TL Collision for the paint, Dan Ho for the help on bodywork/suspension/fitment, Geordie at Butler Tire, John at Fastlane for his continued mechanical support, John at Global Imports #BMW for the OEM parts hookup, and all my friends who have turned wrenches on this thing with me. Much love!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.