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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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    THE MPRESSIONIST 470hp 1M-kitted 135i / HARDCORE 135i 470hp, #1M-kitted beast

    With 1M looks backed-up with a lot more than 1M power, what was once an unassuming 135i is now a package of pure muscle. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Richardson

    Fitting the 3.0-litre, twin-turbo, straight-six N54 engine into the 1 Series Coupé is one of the best things BMW has ever done. The engine amazed when it first appeared in the E9x 335i thanks to its combination of huge torque spread, impressive top-end, and stirring soundtrack (despite the presence of two turbos to muffle the exhaust note). And then BMW decided to stuff it under the bonnet of the smaller, lighter 1 Series Coupé creating something of a performance hero. But the story doesn’t end there because a couple of years later BMW came out with the 1M, with the E9x M3 running gear crammed under those swollen arches, more power and more attitude, this time creating a performance icon. These days you can pick a 135i up for about £10,000 whereas you’d need about £40,000 to get your hands on a limited edition 1M. Of course, the 1M is a very different prospect when compared with a plain Jane 135i but certainly as far as performance goes there’s hardly anything in it. And once you’ve whacked a remap on the 135i it’ll be the quicker car, if that’s what you’re interested in. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from buying yourself a 135i and building it up into something that’s even better than a 1M…

    Meet Sachin Patel, a man who’s done just that. And while he’s got a fair bit of cash invested in his long-term love of a 135i, he’s built this beast of a 1 Series for less than stock 1M would cost to buy. It’s packing some serious firepower, enough to refuse to be intimidated by all but the most heavyweight high performance machinery. And, of course, pouring money as well as your heart and soul into your BMW is just part of everyday life when you’re a lifelong fan of Bavaria’s finest.

    “Actually, I was never a BMW fan,” says Sachin. Oh well, scratch that then. “I lived in West London and saw so many so I wasn’t really interested in them at all. That all changed, though, when I drove a 120d. I was really impressed by it. I was looking for a small, powerful car that was also economical and when I read Jeremy Clarkson’s review of the 135i I was sold and went and bought one.”

    Sachin always knew he was going to modify his 135i and the first item on his list was more power, because when it’s so easy to extract it would be rude not to. In order to ramp up the power the 135i was treated to a remap, along with an induction kit and a pair of uprated diverter valves. This was enough to nudge power up to the very high 300s and plenty to be getting on with. Sachin also decided to give his chassis a bit of a tweak with the addition of some thicker Eibach anti-roll bars to improve its cornering abilities. And that was enough to satisfy his needs for mods for a while.

    “After I’d had the car for about four or five years I decided to sell it and move onto something else,” says Sachin. “A prospective buyer came over one day to have a look at it and said that he was going to put a 1M kit on whatever car he bought. It sounded like such a good idea that I removed the car from sale and started looking at getting the 1M kit done myself. I called MStyle, said I wanted a 1M kit, and everything snowballed from there.”


    The transformation was no gentle transition, though. “The styling went from standard to this in one go!” Sachin exclaims. That’s one hell of a transformation. The kit is a Prior Design M wide-body kit, consisting of front and rear bumpers, side skirts, wider front wings and wider rear quarter panels. It’s comprehensive and means that this 135i looks every inch the 1M that inspired its makeover. Now, the kit on its own is awesome and Sachin could have left things there and been extremely happy with the results, but he didn’t. At the same time as the kit was being added a whole host of other styling additions were thrown into the mix to take the car to the next level. Up front there’s an MStyle carbon fibre vented power dome bonnet, a full-length carbon front splitter, and #BMW M Performance gloss black kidney grilles. Then you’ve got the 1M door mirrors, a carbon boot spoiler and carbon fibre rear diffuser from #MStyle , plus LCI Darkline rear lights. These elements are all pretty subtle compared to the impact of the body kit but they definitely add the perfect finishing touches.

    Originally, Sachin’s 135i had been white but with its transformation to a wide-body monster it needed a fresh new look. “I’d decided I wanted a matt colour and was debating between black and grey,” he says. You can see which choice won in the end, with the car now finished in stunning Frozen grey. It’s a gorgeous colour that accentuates all of the car’s lines and gives it an otherworldly look. In addition to the Frozen grey bodywork the roof has been painted gloss black, which offers a nice contrast. With the new body kit there was no way that the M Sport wheels that the car had come with would cut the mustard any longer, nor were they beefy enough to fill those fat arches, so the hunt was on for a new set of rims that would be up to the job. Those wheels are Forgestar F14s, forged 14-spoke affairs which are, usefully, available to order in some serious widths and with astonishingly deep concave designs. Indeed, the 9x19” fronts are labelled Deep Concave while the 11x19” rears are what Forgestar calls Super Deep Concave, and that’s no exaggeration, the spokes disappearing deep within the wheel before they hit the centre. With a kit as wild and wide as this you really need to make sure your wheel choice won’t be overwhelmed by those massive arches and that it is capable of delivering its own brand of wow. Well the Forgestars definitely deliver on that front.


    With Sachin’s styling plans accomplished, he decided to look at getting a bit more power out of the N54 as, while the 135i was quick, there was still a lot of untapped potential. And who better than MStyle to help tap it? As such, the engine has been fitted with a Mosselman MSL 500 turbo kit, Mosselman twin oil cooler kit and oil cooler separator. There’s also an induction kit, uprated intercooler, uprated low pressure fuel pump, cat-less downpipes, a de-cat centre section with a custom quad exhaust system, and the whole lot is topped off with a Mosselman Stage 3 remap. The end result?

    A dyno-proven 470hp with a thumping 480lb ft of torque, huge gains that deliver equally huge performance and really push what was once a humble 135i to the next level.

    Up until this point Sachin was still riding on nothing more than the stock suspension with the only handling aids being those Eibach anti-roll bars, so that needed to change. MStyle recommended coilovers so he whipped his wallet out and opted for a set of BC Racing height and damping adjustable items with matching front camber adjustable pillow ball top mounts. “It rides and handles brilliantly now,” says Sachin, “and there’s so much grip it’s actually scary!” He’s has kept the standard callipers because they’re pretty massive, with six-pots up front, but they’ve been given a lick of orange paint which really makes them stand out against the black wheels and grey bodywork.

    Inside you’ll find red leather, which looks equally good against the exterior, with carbon trim and a BMW M Performance gear knob, Alcantara gaiter, and matching Alcantara handbrake gaiter. Since the shoot Sachin has added an M Performance Alcantara steering wheel with shift lights and a digital display. He is now thinking about fitting a pair of M4 front seats, which would look awesome.


    As we finish up our shoot, Sachin asks if I’d like to take the 135i it out for a spin. I grab the key off him with such ferocity he’s lucky he’s still got a hand left. The first impressions behind the wheel are defined by the stubby gear knob, UUC short-shift kit, and UUC Stage 2 multi-puck ceramic clutch.

    It all feels a bit sharp and snatchy for someone who’s just jumped in the car for the first time, so I’m gentle with the clutch and gear change and it’s clear that you’d very quickly get used to the combination and drive it as smoothly as any other car. What a short-shift kit does do, though, is make you want to drive fast and rip through the gears – so that’s exactly what I do. The performance is awesome! It’s the torque that really gets you. There’s so much of it spread over such a wide rev range that it’s always there when you put your foot down. When you do the 135i just explodes forward. It’s incredible and makes this car ridiculously rapid. It takes no effort to find yourself travelling far more quickly than you ever had any intention of doing. The mid-range is so astonishing that you find yourself shortshifting, which drops you right back into the torque plateau, but when the opportunity arises I keep the throttle pinned to get a taste of the top end and it doesn’t disappoint. There’s no let up in acceleration and the power just keeps on coming. When you tap into that heady top end the car feels ferocious and furious and it’s addictive.

    The ride is firm but compliant and the chassis feels taught and precise, the 135i cornering hard, fast and flat, while the brakes feel strong with plenty of feel through the pedal providing massive stopping power. Oh, and it sounds good, too. Really good. That fully-decatted exhaust really lets that straight-six sing. It’s a great noise, the icing on a very fast cake indeed.

    “I’m very happy with the car,” grins Sachin as I hand back the keys, though perhaps that’s why he’s smiling. “It gets lots of attention. I’m actually surprised just how much. It’s got the look I’ve always wanted and it’s the car I’ve always wanted.”

    What Sachin’s done is taken a good car and made it great, which is the ultimate modifying goal. And when the end result is as impressive as this, that’s something you can be truly proud of.

    Interior features carbon trim, a shortshift kit and red leather, which looks great against the grey exterior; orange brake calipers add a flash of colour.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #N54 / #BMW-N54 / #Mosselman-MSL500 / #Mosselman / #UUC-Motorwerks / #N54-Mosselman / #BMW-135i-Mosselman / #BMW-135i-Mosselman-E82 / #Mosselman-Stage-3 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-E82 /

    ENGINE 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #N54B30 , #Mosselman-MSL500-N54-turbo-kit , twin oil cooler kit and oil cooler separator, induction kit, uprated intercooler, uprated low pressure fuel pump, cat-less downpipes, de-cat centre section, #Mosselman-Stage-3 remap

    TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual gearbox, #UUC-Motorwerks-Stage-2 multi-puck ceramic clutch, UUC Motorwerks double-shear Evo short-shift kit

    CHASSIS 9x19” (front) #Deep-Concave and 11x19” (rear) #Super-Deep-Concave-Forgestar-F14 forged wheels in gloss black with 245/35 (front) and 285/30 (rear) Continental ContiSportContact 5P tyres, #BC-Racing height and damping adjustable coilover kit, #BC-Racing front camber adjustable pillow ball top mounts, #Eibach anti-roll bars, brake calipers painted in custom orange with M decals, #Quaife-LSD

    EXTERIOR Prior Design M wide-body kit consisting of front and rear bumpers, side skirts, wider front wings and wider rear quarter panels, painted MStyle carbon vented power dome bonnet, MStyle full length carbon fibre front splitter and carbon fibre rear diffuser, BMW M Performance gloss black kidney grilles, OE 1M air ducts and arch liners, OE 1M door mirrors, MStyle custom quad exhaust, SuperSprint quad tailpipes, MStyle carbon boot spoiler, full respray in Frozen grey, roof painted gloss black, Darkline E82 LCI rear lights

    INTERIOR #BMW M Performance gear knob and Alcantara gaiter, #BMW-M-Performance Alcantara gaiter for handbrake

    “It rides and handles brilliantly now… there’s so much grip it’s scary”
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