- Post is under moderationDare to Dream 3D Design carbon-clad M4. Back in 2006, a group of highly talented designers and engineers came together in Tokyo to reboot dormant BMW tuning parts maker 3D Design. This M4 is the culmination of everything it’s done in the ten years since Words and photography: Chris Nicholls. Dare to Dream 3D Design’s stunning carbon-clad F82 M4 under the spotlight. #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-Coupe / #BMW-4-Series-F82
The M4, for many, represents dreams. Dreams of status, dreams of amazing driving experiences and dreams of just looking at the thing and enjoying its muscular lines just one more time before walking away. This particular #BMW-4-Series-M4-F82 , however, represents a very different kind of dream – a dream to build a complete ‘tuner car’ that not only shows off your company’s expertise in designing a range of great products, but also demonstrates how well those parts work in unison when fitted together.
It’s a dream Toru Endo and his team at 3D Design have had since the brand’s rebirth ten years ago. Back in 2006, they came in to kick-start what was then a bit of a lost cause; 3D Design in its original form had been making #BMW tuning parts (mainly suspension components) since 1998, but for various reasons the company had lost any momentum and, by the time Endo-san and his crew arrived, it hadn’t released anything new for quite some time. Obviously, job one after the takeover was thus to start cranking out parts again, but given the old line-up hadn’t been a great success, Endo-san and co. decided to expand the offering to include exhausts and aero parts as well, with an end goal of offering a large enough range of components to build the aforementioned ‘complete car’.
However, because all the 3D Design staff already had many years of experience working in either OEM, aftermarket accessory or race engineering circles, slapping together a few basic designs and calling it a day wasn’t going to cut it. They vowed that, no matter what the development time and costs, they would make the best BMW parts they could, a philosophy that continues to this day. One minor detail was that they didn’t have their own manufacturing facilities, but to get around this, they partnered up with the likes of Arqray for their lovely stainless exhausts and BBS for their forged wheels, ensuring the final products were as high-end as the engineering that had gone into the design and testing. And of course, that all their products were made in Japan.
Trouble was, even with a line-up that included wheels, coilovers, aero accessories, exhausts, a boost control chip and various interior upgrades, the staff didn’t feel as if they’d reached their goal of being able to produce a ‘complete car’. So they pushed on, and decided to invest more time and resources in a couple of other key items – a carbon intake for the S55 and, most importantly, full resin-infusion carbon bumpers for the M4. Now, proper carbon bumpers (not CFRP) may seem a bit extreme, especially considering they’re usually the first things to get damaged in a crash and cop quite a bit of sandblasting just from regular road driving, but as we said earlier, the company philosophy is to offer the best, no matter what, and given carbon would allow them to integrate aero elements better, as well as save a crucial 5kg at each extreme of the car (thereby reducing moment of inertia), it seemed a natural choice. Plus, literally no one else on the market is offering such a thing, so it gives the company a competitive advantage.
Obviously, these pieces do not come cheap. The carbon intake isn’t even on sale yet in Japan, but M Style UK quoted us £6195 for the front bumper and £5695 for the rear, and when you throw in the £1482 Mulgari quoted for the dry carbon side skirts, just the basic aero kit adds considerable cost to an already expensive machine. Going down the complete car route, which adds a dry carbon rear lip spoiler, dry-carbon racing wing, polyurethane roof spoiler, resin-infusion carbon mirror covers, coilovers, forged 20-inch Anniversary 01 wheels, a DME Tuning Stage 2 engine remap, Brembo GT big brake kit and all the company’s interior mods, will no doubt jack up the price to potentially terrifying levels, but no one said the best ever came cheap. And when you look at the fit, finish and quality of each of 3D Design’s products (the bumpers fit so well you’d genuinely think they were official Motorsport upgrades), there is no doubt that they’re among the very best in each sector they compete in.
As for the overall effect these changes make, at least in terms of appearance (we only had a short time with the car and thus couldn’t drive it), it’s quite staggering. The stock M4 is a muscular beast, but the 3D Design version takes it up a notch in every respect. The cleaner, more integrated lines of the front bumper lead down to quite a protruding lip spoiler, and the fact the company has kept the lower half naked carbon really adds to the impact.
The sleek skirts define the car’s flanks better and make it look lower than it actually is, while the rear end is just a whole lot buffer thanks to the large (but not ridiculous) wing, bootlid lip and again, that half-painted carbon bumper. Keen-eyed readers will note 3D Design has placed cuts on each side of it too, which allow turbulent air to exit the rear wheels better and should improve stability. One interesting side effect of all this extra aggression is that the car actually looks more like a sports car – something that should cheer all those who now consider the M4 a GT – and at least in this writer and photographer’s opinion, does a better job of integrating all that aero than the GTS. BMW take note. Finally, those wheels are just perfect against the Sapphire black paint, aren’t they?
Inside, there’s less of an impact simply because there are fewer changes. Yes, the switch to customembroidered Recaro Sportsters definitely changes the atmosphere, as does the switch to 3D Design’s alloy pedals, brake lever and shift paddles, but it still feels very much like an M4, only sportier. In many respects, the biggest change to the ambience actually comes from the Stack gauges, mounted in a lovely 3D Design pod at the bottom of the centre console. These, while looking pretty modern with their machined housings and austere faces, are still very much an old-school performance car touch in what is otherwise a very modern interior, so they do stand out and make the car feel just that little less GT-like (again). By the way, you can ignore that little display mounted to driver’s right, as it’s just a small speed camera detector. Don’t worry, they’re perfectly legal in Japan, and sadly more necessary than ever these days, thanks to the growing number of cameras on the roads there.
In terms of the effect the mechanical changes have, obviously we couldn’t sample most of those, but we have little reason to doubt the coilovers will benefit the handling, given 3D Design, unlike most of its Japanese contemporaries, designs and develops its coilovers explicitly for road use and thus makes them supple. (There is a remote reservoir track coilover in the works for the M4 should you want that, though). And again, there’s little reason to believe the DME re-flash, which, combined with the intake and exhaust bumps power up to 522hp at 6000rpm and torque to a stupid 561lb ft at just 2000rpm, won’t do the job in terms of making the car much, much faster, either. Nor that the Brembo GT big brake kit won’t do a stellar job of bringing the car’s speed down to normal levels, even after heavy track use.
While we didn’t sample the power it helps provide, we can heartily recommend the cat-back mid-pipe and muffler combination in terms of pure sound though, as we did get to sample its sonorous delights during our rolling shot session across the Tokyo Gate Bridge. Like most products on this car, it’s not cheap, with the full system setting you back £6334 from M Style UK, but its unique sound may well be worth it, depending on your priorities. We say that because the 3D Design product is by far the most subtle of the aftermarket M4 exhausts we’ve heard, with a start up that won’t upset the neighbours, and an ultra-smooth timbre as the revs rise. Indeed, it almost makes the S55 sound like an angry, tuned S54 , which is quite a feat. If you live in Japan and are reading this, the only downside is that the system won’t pass the strict shaken periodic roadworthy test there, but if you’re willing to switch back to stock for one day every couple of years, it’s not an issue, and we certainly don’t see it being a problem in most other countries.
So, having produced this ‘dream car’ and fulfilled the company’s original ambition, how does Endo-san feel? As he puts it, “we’ve never been about selling parts per sé. We’ve always developed parts with an eye to exciting the driver, whether it’s via improved styling, or upgraded ride, handling or engine feel. So when I got in the completed car the first time, there was a feeling of ‘we’ve finally done it’; that we’d achieved our goal of being able to excite the driver in every way we could”. Unsurprisingly, the positive impression continued when he drove it, too. “It’s now much more of a sports car to drive. The engine response has improved, as has the handling, so it now accelerates and points exactly the way you tell it to”.
Having said all that, 3D Design’s journey towards selling a complete car isn’t quite over yet. There’s the small matter of actually building a Tokyo showroom, which begins in May, and signing an agreement with a local dealer to supply brand new M4s the company can add all its bits to as well. After that, it may look at expanding its dealership reach past the nation’s capital, but Endo-san says that’s not been decided upon yet. No doubt there are plans afoot for more parts for other BMWs too. At the recent Tokyo Auto Salon, for example, it had a few prototype M2 parts on display, including an intercooler, race-use exhaust (similar to the M4 one) and race-oriented coilovers, so that model may well be next. A slightly more affordable dream? Maybe. Either way, an exciting one we’ll be sure to keep track of.
Contact: 3D Design / Web: www.3ddesign.jp
The switch to custom-embroidered Recaro Sportsters definitely changes the atmosphere
TECHNICAL FATA FILE #3D-Design / #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4-3D-Design-F82 / #BMW-M4-3D-Design / #BMW-M4-Tuned / #BMW-M4-F82-Tuned / #DME-Tuning-Stage-2 / #DME-Tuning /
Engine: Twin-turbo, 24-valve, straight-six, #Valvetronic , double #Vanos , direct injection / #S55B30T0 / #S55 / #BMW-S55
Max Power: 529.6PS @ 6000rpm
Max Torque: 561lb ft @ 2000rpm
Engine: 3D Design carbon airbox with #BMC filter element, #DME-Tuning-Stage-2-ECU remap
Exhaust : 3D Design cat-back stainless mid-pipe and valve-controlled stainless quad-tip muffler
Wheels & Tyres : #3D-Design-Anniversary-01 forged monobloc wheels 9.5x20-inches (f) and 10.5x20-inch (r) with 235/30 (f) and 285/30 (r) Yokohama Advan Sport V105 tyres.
Suspension: 3D Design machined alloy dampers with 20-step compression and rebound damping control and 6kg/mm (f) and 8kg/mm (r) springs
Brakes : #Brembo-GT big brake kit with six piston calipers (f) and four-piston calipers (r) and 405mm (f) and 380mm (r) slotted rotors
Styling: 3D Design resin-infusion carbon front and rear bumper, cry carbon side skirts, dry carbon Racing wing, dry carbon bootlid spoiler, polyurethane roof spoiler, resin-infusion carbon mirror covers, body stripe stickers
Interior: 3D Design sports pedal kit, hand brake lever, shift paddles, floormats, Stack gauge kit and custom-embroidered Recaro Sportster seats
No one else on the market is offering such a thing, so it gives the company a competitive advantage.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationEND OF TERM / FAST FLEET / CAR: #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #Ergen-Motorsport / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46
Date acquired February #2016
Duration of test 10 months
Total test mileage 4338
Overall mpg 23.0
Costs £744 intake
£1200 #VANOS-rebuild / #VANOS / #BMW-M3-E46-VANOS / #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54 / #S54-VANOS-Rebuild
Our web editor is off, and despite the expense and heartache of The Berlin Fiasco, he’s taking his #BMW-M-Cars with him.
It’s alive!’ That was the text message I’d been waiting a long time to receive from Ergen Motorsport in Southampton. At last my M3 was up and running again.
It hadn’t been easy establishing what exactly had gone wrong when the car became nothing more than a large silver ornament during a trip to Germany many months ago. Starting the engine would cause the revs to flare, but then it would die. Hooking the car up to a diagnostics reader would show a whole range of faults that seemed to follow very few patterns. Few patterns except for one, that is: VANOS.
Things had smelled a bit fruity under full throttle for a while, which I should’ve known was a hint that the system, which controls the E46 M3’s variable valve timing, was on its way out. With all other (cheaper!) possible causes eliminated, the guys at Ergen Motorsport made the call to rebuild the system, and that rebuild is what ultimately brought the car back to life.
Upon collecting it, the first thing I did was go for a proper run on some B-roads. It now revs even cleaner than before and has lost that nasty fuel smell under full throttle, which suggests the engine is a lot happier. As am I. Months without the car had me well and truly missing it, while that moment it was lifted onto a flatbed in Germany had me thinking I might never experience its unique thrills again.
However, no sooner has my E46 been repaired than it will be disappearing from these pages. No, I haven’t sold it – at the moment I don’t feel like I ever will – but I have left evo, and that means my M3 has left with me.
So, how have my first ten months with the car been? Well, I’ve already built up some unforgettable memories – and not all of them are accompanied by large bills! It feels as if the E46 has been everywhere. It spent a week in Berlin, did laps on the Nürburgring, drove me around Hackney and took me to north Wales. It has always been fast enough, loud enough and grippy enough to provide excitement whenever required, but it can also chew through motorway miles without issue. Given how much the car initially cost – £12,500 – it’s been unbelievable value for money.
As for actually running an #BMW E46 M3, the engine is what makes it special. The 338bhp 3.2-litre in-line #six-cylinder has a supercar-like red line (8000rpm), and with the Eventuri carbonfibre intake and Supersprint exhaust I’ve had fitted to mine, it sounds just brilliant, too.
Then there are the brakes… The standard setup is pretty shocking compared with those on more modern cars, but the Alcons I have upgraded to are truly sublime. They’re unbelievably powerful (and expensive) and stop the car feeling big and bulky. I would also like a faster steering rack, as this would make the car feel more nimble still, though perhaps this desire wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t become used to driving newer stuff while at evo. I also wish the E46 wasn’t so rustprone, but you can’t have it all.
The definition of ‘The Thrill of Driving’ varies from individual to individual. Some might enjoy time on track, others blasting a car down a B-road, but for me it’s always been about the adventure and freedom that driving provides. And having a car like the E46 M3 in which to experience that freedom just adds to the enjoyment.
Ultimately, if you want an affordable performance car with an engine a little bit more special than a 2-litre turbo, the E46 is the one.
‘The M3 was always fast enough, loud enough and grippy enough to provide excitement whenever required’Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationMILITARY PRECISION
This E46 M3, finished in lush Mora metallic, combines killer looks with stunning attention to detail. With tough looks and some choice mods, this tasty E46 M3 is a fighting fit performance machine. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Sunny Ryait.
The E46 M3 is an incredibly versatile machine when it comes to modifying. Just a few well-thought- out additions can make its already handsome looks even better, as demonstrated by this one for example. It belongs to Steve Smith, Captain Steve Smith, who has created a magnificent machine executed with the sort of precision and attention to detail that you’d expect from a military man.
If you’re a car show regular then you’ll no doubt have seen Steve’s purple monster about, as this is one E46 M3 that most definitely gets to go and play whenever it gets the chance. With its striking Mora metallic paintwork and exceptional engine bay, it’s not a car that can slip by unnoticed, that’s for sure. It has been quite a journey getting it to this stage with Steve, by his own admission, taking a few wrong turns along the way. However, it’s all been worthwhile as the finished article is very nice indeed.
“My first BMW was a mint 1502 that I swapped a Hilman Super Minx for with my brother,” says Steve. “However, this was before they became cool. After that I had an E30 325i, an E34 525td and an E36 326i Sport. But the E46 M3 was the car I always wanted and I finally bought one, a lowmileage, high-spec car, six years ago. In my eyes the E46 M3 was perfect and didn’t need changing at all, however that didn’t last long. I’ve always messed around with cars, upgrading the stereo systems, changing the suspension and changing the alloys.” It was inevitable that he wouldn’t be able to leave the E46 M3 alone.
As befits an M car, the E46 M3 has an absolute masterpiece of an engine, which is really no surprise considering where it comes from, but even an engine as mighty as the S54 can be made that bit mightier. Steve’s engine bay is an awesome sight to behold. There’s a lot to like here, including the fact that he’s truly embraced the Mora metallic and gone to town on the underbonnet colour-coding.
We should probably have a chat about the underside of the bonnet first, before we even begin talking about the engine, and that’s because it’s got Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader having a scrap on it. Obviously. “At this stage the main engine bay modifications were all done by Dips at Custom Cars. It’s great having a good friend like Dips. I have an idea and just give it to him and he knows how to make it happen. I wanted something on the underside of the bonnet, so after he carried out a lot of cutting, grinding and sealing he then sprayed a Star Wars scene on there for me. All the rest of the main components have been colour-coded in #BMW Mora metallic.” It looks fantastic for it, too, that rich, dark purple really adding an extra visual dimension to the engine bay. It also helps that Steve keeps his engine bay unfeasibly clean.
It’s not just a good-looking engine bay, though, as there are performance mods lurking in here, too. The engine has been treated to an Alpha-N map along with Vanos mapping and the secondary air pump has been deleted. Steve’s also carried out a resonator delete on the exhaust system and the whole lot is finished off with a Scorpion back box, a combination that gives the E46 M3 a meatier soundtrack than stock, eliminating the rasp that so many owners dislike. Steve has also tweaked the SMG gearbox, adding the rev blip function from the CSL to enhance the driving experience.
From the moment you encounter Steve’s M3 it’s clear that this is a particularly beefy car. It looks really muscular and purposeful and that’s a result of the perfect combination of wheels, stance and styling. “I like modifications that are different to others and get people talking,” explains Steve. “Some like them, some hate them; however that’s their prerogative. The styling has also gone through various phases. The end result that I wanted was a smoothed-out look that, when you start looking around the car, you keep finding more little touches. The front splitter is a one-off carbon piece that has now been smoothed with a set of Hamann foglight covers into the bumper. The bonnet and boot have been de-badged and I’ve added ACS wing mirrors and an ACS-style rear diffuser. The boot has been totally smoothed with a tubbed CSL type lid. This started life as an OEM boot then Dips got creative and now it is actually three bootlids in one!”
That front bumper plays a big part in giving the car a square-jawed, road-filling look, the perfectly blended lip dropping the bumper even lower to the ground and giving it a Tarmac-skimming front.
At the back, the work on the bootlid has really paid off as it finishes off the rear end a treat, the CSL lip definitely giving the M3 a more aggressive look while the shortened numberplate recess is much cleaner. The ACS-style diffuser is very subtle, as are the Scorpion pipes, but the two go together perfectly, the former adding an extra element to the bumper while the latter looks just that little more serious than the standard exhaust pipes do.
Currently the car is sitting on a set of HSD DT coilovers. Steve’s reason for choosing these was simple: “You can really wind them down low and they still give you some ride quality.” And he’s done just that, dropping the M3 low over those gorgeous RH splits, which fill the pumped-up arches perfectly. “Since I’ve had the car it’s gone through about five sets of wheels. The ones that I really wanted were a set of 18” Hartges. However, finding a set for sale at a reasonable price is impossible. In the end I managed to get a set of RH XD threepiece splits, 8.5” ET36 up front and 11” ET17 at the back. I think that they suit the car’s shape really well.” He’s right, the classic design is a timeless one that works really well on the E46 M3. You really can’t go wrong with three-piece splits rocking polished lips and some delicious dish.
The interior has not been forgotten about, undergoing quite a transformation from how it looked when standard. “The interior used to be black Nappa leather. I wanted to freshen it up but still wanted the comfort of the car so I went for a Champagne interior. Elite Detail re-connolised and conditioned the leather then a Storm gear selector and a steering wheel retrim and gloss black trim finished it off,” says Steve. The Champagne leather is the perfect choice of colour to go with the Mora exterior and the combination of light-coloured hide and gloss black trim plus Mora detailing, like the steering wheel badge and multifunction panel, is really spot-on.
But we’re not done yet as Steve is clearly a fan of big sounds and this car’s packing a suitably serious audio install. Up front there’s an Alpine TME-M740BT monitor with an Alpine VPA-B222R hub hooked up to an Alpine Intravee with Rainbow SL165 component speakers. It’s in the boot where things really get serious as there’s a hefty install packing no less than three JBL GTO1214 subs and JBL GTO 1401 and 14001 amps.
Steve’s E46 is a cracking machine that looks great thanks to the carefully crafted styling additions, those killer wheels and the distinct colour. However Steve’s not done with it yet. “I’ve spent about five years building it up so far but I’ve got some big changes planned for the future. However they are under wraps at the moment. As for other cars, nothing really interests me out there at the moment and I could never sell the M3.” This comes as no surprise to hear. From the sound of things, both Steve and his M3 are going to be regular fixtures at car shows for many years to come, which is most definitely a good thing.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54 / #SMG-II / #SMG / #BMW-M3-SMG-II / #BMW-M3-SMG / #BMW-M3-SMG-II-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-E46 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 , Alpha N map, secondary air pump delete, #VANOS mapping, OEM exhaust centre section with resonator delete, #Scorpion back box, six-speed SMG II gearbox, CSL SMG rev blip function
CHASSIS 8.5x18” ET36 (front) and 11x18 ET17 (rear) RH XD three-piece splits with polished lips and 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Continental tyres, HSD DT coilovers, #Performance-Friction discs and pads (front), stock discs with EBC YellowStuff pads (rear)
EXTERIOR Mora metallic, one-off moulded front bumper with lip and Hamann foglight covers, side repeater delete, LED side repeaters integrated into wing grilles, gloss black grilles with Mora accents, #AC-Schnitzer door mirrors, custom badges throughout, one-off bootlid with CSL spoiler and shortened numberplate recess, AC Schnitzer-style rear diffuser, rolled rear arches
INTERIOR Champagne interior, gloss black trim including centre console, CSL engine warm-up lights on rev counter, custom gaiters, custom steering wheel from Royal Steering Wheels, custom badges, Storm Motorwerkz gear selector, Alpine TME-M740BT monitor, Alpine VPA-B222R hub, Alpine Intravee, Rainbow SL165 component speakers, 3x JBL GTO1214 subs, JBL GTO 1401 amp, JBL GTO 14001 amp
THANKS A massive thanks to Dips at Custom Cars in Hayes for all his help and his attention to detail; I have some mad ideas and he makes them reality, he’s a true artistStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ 2016 #BMW-M3-F80 Competition With more power, reworked suspension and cosmetic upgrades is this the best M3 yet?
Upping the Ante The M3 Competition offers more power and rehoned suspension, but is it a winner?
BMW’s Competition pack-equipped M3 has arrived but does it justify the £3000 premium over the standard car? Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.
There’s something about the launch of a new M3 that seems to encourage criticism and every time a new version comes to market there always seem to be those who can’t wait to fire a salvo across its bows. We won’t go through every single one of these, but the E36 was criticised for not being an E30, the E92 was initially lambasted for not being an E46 CSL and the hardest challenge faced to-date has been for the latest incarnation. For starters it’s turbocharged, which hasn’t gone down well in some quarters, and some folk are still struggling with the idea that the Coupé version now goes under the M4 moniker.
While the new F8x M3 and M4 garnered much praise on their international launch debuts – at a race track and on roads that were warm, dry and relatively well-surfaced – their reception in some quarters, once subject to more in-depth tests in colder, damper climes (i.e in the UK), have been less enthusiastic. It’s probably fair to say that the car has split opinion – some love its low-down torque-rich turbocharged grunt, while others are blaming it for the lack of traction, especially in lower gears in the cold and wet.
Others seem to put the blame down to a chassis that perhaps lacks a little bit of ultimate control, or that’s slightly lacking in finesse. You need the softer setting for the dampers for our broken-up roads, yet when pushing on it doesn’t provide enough body control, yet the stiffer settings can have the wheels pattering over the surface and losing traction again. The bottom line is that the M3 or M4 can be a handful to drive quickly in less than perfect conditions, but shouldn’t that be part of the challenge of driving a powerful rear-wheel drive sports coupé or saloon? Maybe it’s simply a reflection on a generation of drivers who are being brought up on point-and-squirt machinery looked after by an electronic nanny that will intervene when the driver’s talent level has been exceeded? Or perhaps more to the point should you really be driving that fast on a public road?
Those are probably discussions for another day, but the fact of the matter is that BMW has already launched a revised M3 and M4, or rather launched a Competition package that can be spec’d when you order your M3/4. This was a pretty successful move on both the E46 and E92 M3s, although on these two models the Comp pack was added towards the end of these cars’ lives to help in re-establishing interest in machines that were getting a little long in the tooth. The current cars are still pretty youthful, so it could be argued that the Competition package is a bit of an early arrival.
Whether its arrival has been brought forward is a moot point though, and quite frankly we doubt it – these things tend to be planned years in advance – but it’s here and after having done the best part of a 1000 miles in an M3 Competition we can report that it’s actually rather good. The Competition pack costs an additional £3000 on top of your M3 or M4 and it has to be said that you do get an awful lot of kit for your money. For the first time on this model the Competition pack comes with a power upgrade – not huge at an additional 19hp (bringing the total up to a nice, rounded 450hp) – and while the torque output remains the same at 406lb ft the additional grunt is sufficient enough to bring the 0-62mph time down by 0.1 seconds for both manual and M DCTequipped cars. Thus the headline figure for ‘our’ M3 with the DCT ‘box is now just 4.0 seconds. One of the changes for the S55 straight-six is a new bedplate design that’s been stiffened to cope with the additional output and this modified bedplate will have been fitted to all M3 and M4s from Mach production, whether equipped with the Comp pack or not.
The most obvious external change to the M3 are the fitment of a set of even larger alloys – Star-spoke Style 666M as fitted to the M4 GTS but without the lurid Acid orange highlights – and these measure 9x20-inches at the front and 10x20-inches at the rear and are wrapped in 265/30 and 285/30 tyres front and rear respectively. You’ve probably clocked that our car isn’t fitted with these but we’ll get onto that in a minute. To go with the wheel upgrade are a comprehensive set of changes to the suspension which features new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars as well as recalibrated settings for both the Active M Differential and the Dynamic Stability Control in both the fully on and MDM settings.
Other external distinguishing features include kidney grilles and side gill covers finished in Individual high-gloss shadowline trim, and this extends to the window surrounds, the mirrors bases and even the M3 badge. The exhaust continues the dark theme with tips in black chrome and the rear exhaust box to which they’re attached has also come in for some attention, being redesigned with a modified exhaust flap arrangement to bring out more of the straight-six’s vocal character. There are a couple of interior upgrades too, but we’ll come to those in a minute. Our first task for the car is to drive it back from Geneva where it’s been ferrying journalists around at the motor show and as a result it’s sitting on a set of 19-inch winter wheels equipped with winter rubber.
While this might not initially have seemed like the best start as we’ll ideally be wanting to sample the complete Competition package, it soon looks like an inspired choice by BMW’s press folk as when we spear off into the gloom on a late night dash back to the UK the on-board computer is indicating that it’s minus four and the snow is soon strobing across the powerful LED lights ahead. In fact, in the week we spent with the car the temperature didn’t rise much over five degrees which made the tyre choice just about perfect.
We did initially have concerns that the exhaust might make the M3 a tiring companion on a long haul back to London, but it’s perfectly judged – quiet and unobtrusive when cruising, but deliciously vocal as you sprint away from the Peage booths on the French motorways, eliciting a delicious rumbling on every up-change. The temptation to simply keep the throttle pinning to the floor and just flex your right fingers to change up a cog every second or two until you hit the speed limiter at 155mph is hard to bear and it’s possible we might have strayed a smidgen over the speed limit every now and then while doing this, but France has such draconian speeding penalties these days that the spectre of a colossal fine and a driving ban really does focus the mind, especially when travelling on your own. The possibility of being stranded on an autoroute in the middle of the night with an M3 for company and a French copper telling you you can’t drive it any more just doesn’t bear thinking about.
Thus it’s a pretty tedious slog which in no way is a reflection on the M3, just simple circumstance. Spending seven hours in the M3’s cockpit does, however, allow you to become pretty familiar with its fixtures and fittings. There’s lashings of gorgeous carbon fibre trim in here and even under dim ambient light conditions it exhibits a lovely lustre and the leather-clad and hand-stitched dash looks superb too, adding a touch of class to what would otherwise be a large expanse of black plastic. The main change for the Comp pack in the interior is the fitment of a pair of lightweight front bucket seats which look utterly sublime with high backs and extensive wings to hold you in place. A nice touch is seat belts with the M tricolours stitched into them in a subtle strip along one edge. However, after a long time in the saddle those seats do ultimately seem to be a little lacking in lumbar support for your lower back and if you’re broad of beam, especially across the shoulders, you can feel like your upper back is being a little pinched by the chairs. They’re more comfortable than the fixed buckets in an E46 CSL, but not quite as comfy as the normal M3 seats as far as we’re concerned, but we should stress that this is something you’re only likely to encounter if you’re a larger-sized individual, and if you have a slightly dodgy back the seats won’t do it any favours.
Once back in the UK and suitably rested it’s time to get to grips with the M3 in a more challenging environment. The blat back from Geneva has proved that it can still be a very refined and, seats aside, a comfortable and relaxing long distance cruiser. It also returned a smidgen over 30mpg on the trip which is pretty decent economy for a 450hp monster. But let’s face it if all your driving is going to long distance motorway slogging you’d be much better off with a 320d. Presumably you bought an M3 to have a bit of fun behind the wheel too, before cars with a human steering them are banned to be replaced by autonomously driven connected bubbles.
There’s no doubt that the M3 can still dole out the driving thrills like few other machines. We don’t care what anyone says about the latest M cars losing some of their aural edge with the move to turbocharging, they still sound pretty awesome to us, even if the sound has a different character it’s not less intoxicating. Those delicious baritone burbles are there on the over run, and it’s tempting to accelerate hard to the redline and then just back off to hear the brooding symphony coming from the quad pipes.
The M DCT transmission is still a great piece of kit with changes being of the seamless variety until you’ve really put the hammer down when you can still indulge in a bit of thumping between cogs if you like that sort of thing – a momentary lift takes the edge off the severity of the changes – the choice is up to you.
But what of the extensive chassis revisions? We certainly felt they made the M3 significantly more confidence inspiring and even on winters the rear end seemed to be much more connected with the Tarmac. You can now tackle a set of challenging corners without the feeling that the car is about to get caught out by a sudden crest or dip and that the suspension will need to catch up with the car’s body before things are back under control again. The new anti-roll bars seem to help here and the way the front end resists the temptation to understeer makes the M3 a hugely entertaining companion on a spirited drive. Yes you can still have the DSC light dancing a demented flamenco in the dash pod if you’re not measured with your throttle inputs in the lower gears, but the trick is to either change up the ‘box faster or be more measured with your throttle inputs. It remains one of our favourite ways to drive fast and the chassis upgrades simply make it a slightly less fraught experience. The optional carbon ceramic stoppers fitted to our car are massively reassuring too, offering stunning retardation when required.
We’re sure the naysayers will still be able to find fault with the Competition pack-equipped M3 and M4 though, but ignore them – BMW will never build another E30 M3 – it’s time to move on and get over it. For us, though, the Comp pack brings more aural stimulation, a slightly different look and an enhanced driving experience, especially when really pushing on – at £3000 you could almost call it a bit of bargain. Our only dilemma is which colour to choose…
There’s no doubt that the M3 can still dole out the driving thrills like few other machines.
The way the front end resists the temptation to understeer makes the M3 a hugely entertaining companion.
TECHNICAL DATA #2016 #BMW-M3-Competition-F80 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW
ENGINE: Twin-turbo, 24-valve, straight-six, #Valvetronic , double #Vanos , direct injection / #BMW / #S55 / #BMW-S55 / #S55B30 / #S55-tuning
COMPRESSION RATIO: 10.2:1
MAX POWER: 450hp @ 7000rpm
MAX TORQUE: 406lb ft @ 1850-5500rpm
0-62MPH: 4.2 seconds (4.0)
50-75MPH (5th GEAR): 4.2 seconds (4.3)
TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
ECONOMY: 32.1mpg (M DCT 34.0)
EMISSIONS (CO²): 204g/km (194)
WEIGHT (DIN): 1535kg (1560)
TYRES: Michelin Pilot Super Sport
FRONT: 265/30 ZR20
REAR: 285/30 ZR20
PRICE (OTR): £59,595 (£62,240)
Figures in brackets refer to seven-speed #M-DCT
The suspension features new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationNOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE 720hp turbo #BMW-E36 hardcore British built M3. We revisit an insane turbo E36, now pushing 720hp. Ignoring conventional routes, Steve Will has created a turbocharged E36 M3 that performs like no other… Words: Stav Neophytou. Photos: Andy Starkey.
While turbocharging in-line six #BMW engines has been the norm in Europe and the USA for decades, until recent years it’s been a rarity in the UK due to our cars being righthand drive. BMW sixes are canted towards the exhaust side, which also happens to be the driver’s side on right-hand drive cars. This means a severe lack of room for not only the turbo and manifold but getting a suitably large exhaust downpipe past the steering column is a real nightmare, too. However, despite these fitment headaches, turbocharging is finally taking off in the UK BMW scene.
A man clearly ahead of the times, though, is UK resident Steve Will. This incredible E36 M3 is his, and it’s been turbocharged for the best part of a decade now! While it’s been a long road, full of pitfalls and learning experiences, the end result is jaw-dropping.
Steve bought this car back in 2005 and turbocharging it was always on his mind since driving a turbocharged 635CSi many years previous. Despite the perceived impossibility of a RHD Turbo E36 M3 back then, it was barely two years later before it had its first incarnation as a turbocharged engine. This first setup used a cast log manifold by South African BMW expert Savspeed, a Turbonetics T70 turbo, and a fully-forged engine with a compression ratio of 9.5:1. Unfortunately, while clearly incredibly powerful, the combination of the high compression ratio, pump fuel and suspect mapping meant the engine expired due to severe detonation while still being tested and mapped at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground.
Thankfully this initial disaster was covered under the tuner’s warranty, so the engine was rebuilt with a more pump-fuel friendly 8.5:1 compression ratio.
Sophisticated Motec engine management was fitted and the car was finally dyno’d at a ballistic 670hp and 500lb ft of torque. While we really don’t need to tell you how incredibly fast a 670hp E36 is, due to the big turbo and basic log manifold it wasn’t the most efficient setup in the world. In fact, even Steve will be the first to tell you it was actually very laggy. While it hit the 350hp mark at 5500rpm the power then literally jumped up 100hp every 500rpm from then onwards, pulling hard until over 7500rpm. It was an absolute animal; insanely fast but far from controllable!
The engine stayed in the above spec for a number of years but as the car was primarily used as a drift car, both for fun and competition, outright power became less important than response and drivability. So, when the engine finally failed in 2011, plans were made for a more user-friendly engine spec. While the cast log manifold was still seen as the only option, Steve increased the compression ratio to 9:1 and fitted a smaller PT5862 turbo – Precision’s equivalent of the popular Garrett GT35R.
After some expert mapping from Greg at Protuner the way the car drove was transformed, with 350hp now coming at just 3500rpm. At the same rpm the engine was also making well over 500lb ft of tyredestroying torque. Peak torque was incredible, 650lb ft, and response was instant, too. Compared to the original larger turbo, however, peak power was down over 100hp at 560hp, and peak rpm was much lower, too, with the graph flat-lining from 5000rpm until just over 6000 when it started to drop.
There’s no doubt 560hp and 650lb ft are supercar-smashing numbers in most people’s eyes, and if Steve knew no differently he’d no doubt be over the moon with the performance but despite the amazing torque and response, his previous experience of having a huge 670hp and a screaming high rpm performance was impossible to forget. In fact, he was so used to the insanity of the old setup he called this one “boring”, which leads us to where we are today…
What Steve ideally wanted was the best of both engines: the insane power of the big turbo engine but with the torque and response of the small turbo engine. Pretty much everyone he spoke to said that was impossible. Undeterred Steve employed the services of someone who sees the word ‘impossible’ as a challenge: Thomas Zurawski of Zurawski Motorsport in Ledbury, Herefordshire.
While the engine itself was bulletproof, and it’s hard to beat a #Motec-M800 ECU, Zurawski Motorsport is an expert in custom turbo setups and could see the existing design left a lot to be desired. Not only was the cast log turbo manifold considered a poor design but the inlet plenum, intercooler, exhaust system, and air filter setup were all on the list for improvement. Tubular twin scroll turbo manifolds didn’t previously exist for RHD BMWs due to the lack of room but the Zurawski design fits perfectly. And not only does it flow far better than a restrictive log manifold but the twin-scroll design drastically improves turbo spool up, allowing a bigger turbo to be used without losing drivability.
To further aid spool and throttle response, twin WRC anti-lag valves have been fitted, allowing huge amounts of airflow to go direct from the compressor to the exhaust manifold which, along with fuel and ignition adjustments from the Motec ECU, give the engine the ability to stay at full boost even when the throttle is closed, not to mention the rapid-fire bangs and huge flames from the side exit exhaust!
The other big change to the engine is certainly the most controversial: the inlet plenum. The shape and design of it is certainly a world away from typical designs and, due to this, many naysayers claimed it would be restrictive or simply not work. The reality is, however, it’s actually a commonly-used design in turbocharged race engines, as found in WRC, RallyCross, and LeMans. The unusual design gives equal airflow to each cylinder, something that’s a big problem on turbocharged cars, especially on in-line six engines, and by allowing the cylinders to receive equal amounts of airflow improvements are seen in power, spool up, reliability, and to safe boost limits.
In addition to the manifolds, the entire turbo system – from air filter to exhaust tailpipes – was custom-made from scratch by Zurawski Motorsport for maximum flow and efficiency. It includes a huge grillemounted air filter, an enormous intercooler that necessitated the rear mounted radiator conversion, twin external wastegates, and a full custom exhaust system, with a very cleverly designed downpipe that somehow manages to snake past the dreaded RHD steering column!
Of course, the most important part of any turbo system is the turbocharger itself, which is a BorgWarner S300SX 9180 turbo, with a twin scroll T4 turbine and billet compressor. This turbo is actually bigger than the previous original laggy unit, so surely this new engine can’t be very responsive? Think again…
With the car once again in the expert hands of Greg at ProTuner, the new setup made a touch over 600hp at just 1bar boost, and 700hp at 1.5bar, 30hp more than the traditional-style turbo setup using the log manifold. While the power is impressive, what really makes it special is this time he also had an insane 730lb ft of torque, with over 500lb ft of that by just 3700rpm. Yes, it spools as fast and makes even more torque than the small turbo did but makes more power than the big laggy turbo! The currentspec engine actually makes more power and torque than the original engine right across the rev range, from 2500rpm until over 7000rpm. In fact, at 4000rpm it now has 375hp and 490lb ft more!
Buoyed on by these incredible results, the car recently returned to the dyno with 109 Octane race fuel where it made 720hp and over 800lbft at 1.4bar boost. The new fuel gave such incredible response and torque that, by the time of writing at least, Steve’s been unable to get traction at any higher boost than that. Once he finds a traction solution, though, he’s hoping for 800hp plus. Considering the current results, even over 1000hp looks to be easily achievable with only a slight increase in turbo size.
While we make no apologies for concentrating so much on Steve’s groundbreaking engine, the rest of the car is no less wild, both in looks (thanks to the M3 GTR wide bodywork and Team Dynamics motorsport wheels) and in performance (thanks to a spec that is truly world class).
On the inside there’s a comprehensive custom roll-cage that ties in to the diff mounts, a sophisticated rear mounted radiator setup that draws air through the side window ducts and exits via the rear diffuser, while underneath there’s a drift- specific front suspension design with incredible amounts of steering angle.
What’s perhaps most impressive is the thought put in to all the various parts fitted to this car. While you will no doubt have read the comprehensive spec list and recognised most of the parts’ manufacturer names, Steve has built this car more like a Works race car than a typical privatelyowned car, with the reliability and strength of all components being the primary consideration. This doesn’t just mean strong and effective parts but even things like the fuel and oil pressures are continuously logged by the ECU, which shuts down the engine if something deviates from the specified parameters.
So now the car is complete, what does Steve want to do with it? Well, despite being used for competition drifting for some time now, he’s more interested in just having fun in it without the stresses of trying to win trophies. On the rare occasions this car isn’t on masses of opposite lock, Steve’s actually very keen to take it back to where the original turbo engine expired, Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, this time to break the 200mph mark – something it should do with ease.
For a car built with nothing but Steve’s own enjoyment in mind, the progress of this build over the years, and especially the final result, is a lesson for all of us. Not only is this sort of unbelievable, best-of-all-worlds, engine performance perfectly possible (and reliable if done correctly) but putting true thought in to what you are doing, taking influence from world-class race cars rather than simply following the crowd, really pays off in the long run.
The rest of the car is no less wild, both in looks and performance.
DATA FILE Turbo #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #Motec / #BorgWarner /
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S50B32 / #S50 / #BMW-S50 , standard crank, #Pauter steel rods, 9:1 JE forged pistons, Cometic multi-layer head gasket, ARP head and rod bolts, standard head and cams with #Vanos enabled, #Motec-M600-ECU with an E888 expander, #Zurawski-Motorsport twin scroll tubular manifold, twin Turbosmart external wastegates, #BorgWarner-S300SX-9180 twin scroll T4 turbo with uprated billet wheel, full turbo-back Zurawski Motorsport exhaust system with side skirt exit tailpipe, twin WRC-style anti-lag valves, heat wrapped turbine housing and downpipe, #Zurawski-Motorsport equal flow inlet plenum, custom boost pipes and front mount intercooler, Zurawski Motorsport grille mounted air filter, high flow fuel lines, high flow alloy fuel filter, twin #Bosch-044 fuel pumps, 25ltr ProAlloy fuel cell, uprated fuel pressure regulator, Titanium oil catch tank, switchable ECU maps for Shell V-Power and Sunoco race fuel, switchable anti-lag and launch control systems, #Mocal oil cooler, uprated engine mounts, custom rear mounted radiator system, additional electric water pump, full fire extinguisher system, interior and exterior emergency cut-off switches, Petronas 10W60 oil. 720hp and 800lb ft
TRANSMISSION #ZF five-speed gearbox, #Helix twin-plate paddle clutch, custom lightweight steel flywheel, M3 Evo rear diff with shimmed LSD plates for 70% lock, E46 M3 crownwheel and pinion, uprated gearbox mounts, #ATF Racing gearbox, diff mounts integrated into roll-cage
CHASSIS 9x17” (front) and 10x18” (rear) #Team-Dynamics 1.2 wheels with 225/45 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Pirelli PZero tyres, BC coilovers, IRP drift front suspension setup, lightweight alloy adjustable lower arms, rosejointed lower arm bushes, custom adjustable top mounts, Mocal power steering cooler, polybushes, standard M3 brakes, hydraulic handbrake, Wilwood incar brake bias adjuster
EXTERIOR #BMW-M3-GTR front bumper, front wings and rear spoiler, E46 M3 GTR-style vented bonnet, custom rear arches, custom alloy rear diffuser, roof vent, rear window ducts, #Plastics4Performance lightweight windows
INTERIOR Full custom FIA-approved multi-point cage, Motordrive bucket seats, TRS harnesses, OMP steering wheel, Stack AFR, EGT and oil pressure gauges, Autometer boost gauge, carbon doorcards, custom ducting and shrouding for the rear mounted radiator
THANKS A-Frame Engineering (www.aframeengineering.co.uk), County Alarms (www.countyalarms.co.uk), ProTuner (www.protuner.co.uk), Zurawski Motorsport (www.zurawskimotorsport.com)
Steve wanted the power of his big turbo engine but with the torque and response of his small turbo engine.
Everything about this extreme E36 M3 means business. Side-exit exhausts look and sound awesome. Custom alloy rear diffuser allows hot air to be pulled away from the boot-mounted radiator, itself fed by pipes attached to side window intakes.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHE BIG PICTURE
With a wide-body kit, #4WD and the small matter of 840 turbocharged horsepower, this #BMW E46 is a ferocious machine. It might look outlandish, but this E46 Saloon has more than enough go to back up its show… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Patrik Karlsson.
Here’s an idea that you may have considered before: what’s the future of your car after you get rid of it? Assuming that you’re not planning to keep your jamjar until it crumbles away into dust, there’s a fair chance that you’ll sell it at some point – and then what? It’s actually a very big question, as cars are such personal and emotive things, there are memories, sensory touchpoints and stories tied up in them that your brain cleverly locks away, ready to spring back on you at surprising moments.
When I see the dash vents on a Mk1 Cavalier, the faux-wood trim on the doors of a late-Eighties Rover Vitesse or the barrel speedo of a #Citroen-CX , I’m suddenly a child again. There’s a certain smell in the Magic Tree range that instantly transports me back into my first 205 GTI. And the tactile fragility of an early-Seventies BMW 2002 door handle puts me right there in my old road-rally Touring, all Redex and steamy windows.
My point is this: picture a car that your parents had as a kid – that old load-lugger that drove you to school, took you to see grandma and down to the supermarket for the weekly shop, ferried you about on those joy-strewn family holidays. Imagine if, after all of those miles of family life, someone bought that car, your car, your memories, and turned it into a bonkers race machine. It’s quite a thought, isn’t it? Jarring and strange, but exciting too. Something you know intimately, transformed into something alien.
With this in mind, there must be a family somewhere in Sweden who have no idea that their old BMW has turned into a supercar-slaying turbo nutter. Their intrepid old four-door E46, that saw them through over a quarter of a million faithful kilometres, has changed from a dependable old workhorse into a rejuvenated, frightening whippet with aggression in spades and a healthy disdain for the rules. Sure, it looks similar in profile, but there’s all sorts going on beneath the surface – that insane rear wing, a triumph of functionality, is merely the cherry on a flavoursome cake.
For Erik Wedlund, these sorts of transformations are nothing out of the ordinary; the overtly extraordinary is merely his oxygen, his everyday. You show him an unremarkable family runabout, he’ll have it whipped up into a Porsche-troubling frenzy before you can say ‘beige corduroys’.
“I started modifying cars about 12 years ago, with an Opel Ascona B,” he explains. To the uninitiated, this was a sensible-trousers commuter hack from an era when it was deemed noteworthy to offer a laminated screen as a no-cost option. “That went through a full rebuild to become an Ascona 400 replica, and after that I had an Ascona A from 1975 – first with a 2.4-litre CIH motor, which I then swapped out for a 420hp BMW M50B20 with a turbo, running E85.” Ah, so the story’s starting to loop into our world of Bavarian tuning now. It was bound to eventually – the long Scandinavian winters always lead to outlandish builds of awesome power and improbable stats; if it’s not Volvopowered, it’ll have a BMW engine. Thudding cylinders and big turbos are what help stave off the frostbite, and it’s clear that the lure of the BMW camp is what did it for Erik.
“I later built a 2.8-litre M50 for that car, which made 572hp on pump fuel,” he says casually, just tossing the numbers into the conversation as if it’s no big deal. Scandinavians have a different perspective on horsepower, don’t they? It’s bizarre.
We begin to spot a theme in Erik’s narrative here too – a tendency to find the best engine for the job, then replace it with something better, then take that engine and put it in a different car… it’s not so much a conveyer belt of performance, although there is an element of that, but more that he treats his projects like grown-up Meccano. The car is entity A, the engine is entity B, the chassis C, the way it deploys its power D, and so on.
Every now and then he likes to shake up the letters and bolt the parts together in different ways, creating something new and more impressive with his big boy’s toys. And so the evolution continues…
“I ended up selling the Ascona on as a rolling shell, keeping the 2.8-litre engine to fit into a 1986 635CSi that I’d bought,” he recalls. “I built up new exhausts and manifolds for it. It was making 750hp at the time – it was road-legal too.” Just sit and savour that figure for a moment – an old sharknose Sixer with more power than a Pagani Huyara. It’s staggering.
But Erik wasn’t done yet. Far from it. Having put a good 11,000km under the CSi’s wheels, he was beginning to yearn for the madness and, ultimately, lightness of the old Ascona. The itch became too much not to scratch, and the 635 was sold complete with its manic motor so that Erik could roll his sleeves up and get stuck into an E36 Compact. And while this may seem anathema to some, just keep in mind what the fella’s capable of.
“I began to build it up with the driveline of an E46 330xi, combined with that of an E39 M5,” he explains, again just throwing these mad ideas out there as if they’re totally vanilla. “It was finished within six months, but it got wrecked on the way home from a dyno session; I braked to avoid a deer and flipped the car into a ditch – it was all scrap aside from three wheels and the engine.” We’ve seen photos of this and it really isn’t pretty; it’s a good job that Erik’s a dab hand at fabricating roll-cages…
But let’s not forget his indomitable spirit, his Stig-like obsession with speed above all else, and his Terminator-esque sense of focus. The engine was still good, so that was hoiked out of the mangled wreckage and dropped back into the oversized Meccano box, and within three days Erik had found himself another toy to play with.
“I bought this E46 330xi a few days after the accident,” he says, with an even tone worthy of Räikkönen himself. “It was in a sorry state when I bought it, with rust and 250,000km on the clock, but that didn’t really matter much given what I had planned for it.”
That fiery engine was duly deployed, and it’s worth taking a moment to consider the spec: we’re looking at fundamentally an original 330xi M54B30, although it’s been played with quite a bit. A healthy bore job along with bigger pistons and a raised compression ratio work with a Precision turbo and plenty of internal upgrades to deliver an astounding 840hp at the wheels, all overseen by MaxxECU management. A huge set of numbers. And what’s particularly impressive is that so much of the driveline remains stock, demonstrating just how overengineered these 4WD 3 Series are; the gearbox and driveshafts are all factorystandard, as are the front, rear and centre diffs (albeit with a bit of welding to the centre item to firm things up).
The result of all of this insane, gibbering torque and horsepower? A four-door E46 that’ll accelerate from 0-285km/h (which is the point at which it redlines in fifth gear, equating to around 177mph) in 14.5 seconds. “With the running gear sorted, I fabricated a roll-cage for the car and took it on a few airfield events,” deadpans Erik. “After crushing a RUF 996 GT2 in a straight-line race, the oil pump shaft broke at 280km/h and took a few bearings with it, so I took the car apart and sent the engine off to my friend Åland at AllMek for a rebuild. While this was happening, I painted the body in British Racing green and decided to enter the Time Attack series, which was a pretty new thing in Sweden at the time. With the car back together and working well, I competed in the TANU series through 2015, replaced the three gearboxes that failed under the increased strain of competition, and just pushed the car to the very limits its heavy drivetrain and toonarrow tyres would allow.”
It may not surprise you to learn that the E46 has now, like so many chapters of Erik’s motoring history, found its way to a new owner. “If I’d have kept it, I’d have probably experimented with different diffs and wider tyres, but there’s always a new project on the horizon,” he says, devoid of sentimentality and already dedicated to the next step. A little birdie tells us that he’s actually working on two projects at the moment, the first being an E36 M3 3.2 that’s becoming a streetlegal track car, while the second is an M1 Procar replica with a V10 motor.
So spare a thought for that Swedish family, their cherished family runaround transmuted into an aggressively bewinged leviathan with a proven ability to show Porsche’s widowmaker GT2 a clean pair of heels. But then disregard them out of hand, as Erik does at the end of each personal chapter, because this isn’t about the past – it’s about living in the now, and keeping an eye on the future. Sentimentality will only get you so far, and then you’ll be blown into the weeds by a turbo as big as your face. An 840whp four-door E46 is an incredible thing to us laymen, but to a tuning superhero like Erik? It’s just part of the bigger picture…
9x17” E34 M5 alloys fitted all-round with 255/40 rubber front and rear.
DATA FILE #BMW Turbo E46 330xi / #BMW-330xi-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330xi-Turbo / #BMW-330xi-Turbo-E46 /
ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , bored to 84.5mm using stressplate, CP pistons, #PPF forged rods, 10:1 compression ratio, #Supertech 1mm oversize valves and valve springs, #Precision-6466-turbo / #Precision , GTR intercooler, balanced crank, #ATI Super Damper, #ARP bolts throughout, copper ring head gasket, stock cams, functional #VANOS , #Bosch 1300cc injectors, #MaxxECU management, #KS-Racing (Thailand) intake manifold, S54 oil thermostat housing, #VAC motorsport oil pump upgrade, #Canton Accusump, 3.5” stainless steel exhaust system, #Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, 2x Bosch 044 fuel pumps, catch tank fed by Deatchwerks 301 in-tank pump. 840whp/782lb.ft @ 2.1bar, 0-285km/h (177mph – fifth gear redline): 14.5s.
TRANSMISSION Stock 330xi gearbox, stock centre, front and rear diffs (centre diff welded), stock driveshafts, M30B35 flywheel, Sachs 765 pressure plate, 6- puck sintered KEP clutch, Samsonas gear shifter.
CHASSIS 9x17” (front and rear) E34 M5 alloys with 255/40 (front and rear) Kumho V70 Medium tyres, K-Sport Supersport two-way adjustable coilovers, bushings replaced with uniballs, -3 degrees camber all around, 7 degrees caster, custom chromoly antiroll bars, M3 CSL 345x28mm front discs, M3 calipers, PFC 01 pads, stock rear discs and calipers with PFC 08 pads, E46 M3 master cylinder.
EXTERIOR Hard Motorsport M3 Saloon arches, E36 M3 British Racing Green paint, custom front splitter and rear wing.
INTERIOR Custom roll-cage with integrated reinforced subframe mounts, Rado Power bucket seats, TRS four-point harnesses, Sparco leather steering wheel, stock dash and doorcards, Lenovo tablet for MaxxECU read-outs.
Hardcore interior features Rado Power buckets and a Lenovo tablet acting as the MaxxECU display.
It was in a sorry state but that didn’t matter given what I had planned for it…Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBuying Guide Why not treat yourself to a little bit of luxury in the form of the bargainous E65 7 Series? BMW E65 V8 7 series. The E65 was a shock when it arrived but it’s actually aged rather well and the V8 versions in particular offer staggering value for money as a used buy. Words: Andy Everett and Bob Harper. Photography: #BMW . #2006 / #2001 / #2007 / #BMW-E65 / #BMW-750i-E65 / #BMW-750i / #BMW-750Li / #BMW-745i-E65 / #BMW-735i-E65 / #BMW-740i-E65 / #BMW-E66 / #BMW-750Li-E66 / #BMW-745Li-E66 / #BMW-E66
There’s no doubt that when the E65/E66 #BMW-7-Series arrived on the scene back in 2001 it was a big shock. Huge, in fact. The three generations of car that had preceded it had possessed a certain understated style – they might have been the all-singing, all-dancing range-toppers packing the latest up-to-date technology but they didn’t shout about it with the way they looked. So it was understandable when jaws dropped and tongues wagged with the arrival of the E65 7 Series.
Whereas the previous machines had managed to hide their size with delicate styling it almost seemed that with the E65, Adrian van Hooydonk (the car’s chief designer) had gone out of his way to make it seem as big and as imposing as possible. And dare we say it, a little ugly, too. The kidney grilles were huge, the headlights gave it the look of a lugubrious drunk waking up after a particularly heavy session and the slab sides led to the famous bootlid treatment that was soon dubbed the ‘Bangle Butt’. Pretty? No. Imposing? Yes.
But it wasn’t just the exterior that shocked the BMW world as inside there were so many new things to get used to. The handbrake was BMW’s first electronic effort – a push button to the right of the steering wheel on the dash and the gear lever had moved to the steering column… which made space on the centre console for the new, all-singing, all-dancing iDrive system. We’ve become accustomed to this over the ensuing 14 years or so but back in 2001 it took a little getting used to, especially as in its first incarnation the iDrive was far from intuitive and clunky in some respects – changing radio stations was a very awkward process for those of us brought up on push button presets.
So far we haven’t really painted very positive picture of the Seven, but while there was much to confuse and confuddle new owners there was also plenty to like. Performance and economy were both pretty decent from the new Valvetronic V8s and there was so much gadgetry packed into the car that it could more or less do anything. And the best bit is that today you could be running around in one from as little as around £4000. There are cheaper ones out there but we reckon you’d probably be best avoiding the lowest end of the E65 market as you could end up buying a whole heap of trouble. The best news is that large petrol V8 engined limos aren’t in huge demand right now so you should be able to bag a bargain – you’ll struggle to spend more than £10k on one of these and that would be for a low mileage later face-lifted example with full history and all the bells and whistles.
We’re concentrating on the V8 models here – diesels are more expensive – and there’s something about the E65 that really suits the urgency of the V8’s performance. If you do a high mileage it probably won’t be your cup of tea, but if you tend to cover a lower than average distance in your car then you do get a huge amount of bang for your buck with an E65.
The 7 Series was initially launched with a 272hp 3.5-litre V8 and a 333hp 4.5-litre V8 and while both engines were more than capable of punting the Seven along at a considerable pace thanks to the inclusion of double #Vanos and Valvetronic, it was the 4.5-litre version that would prove to be the best option. The extra 61hp and 66lb ft of torque meant a 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds compared to the 735i’s 7.6 seconds and the difference in fuel economy between the 735i and 745i was so small that the latter was the obvious choice for those with the extra £4000 to spend.
Both cars were very well spec’d as standard and all V8s came with DSC, PDC, leather upholstery, 18-inch alloys, sat nav, BMW Professional radio and Hi-Fi speaker system, CD changer, dual-zone auto air-con, Dynamic Drive, electric front seats and cruise control. The long wheelbase Li models added selflevelling rear suspension and a sun-blind for the rear windscreen. There was also a Sport option, and while it lacked a body kit, it did include 19-inch wheels, Sports suspension, High-gloss Shadowline trim, Sports seats, a three-spoke wheel and matt Vavona wood.
Naturally enough the options list was extensive and you could have spent the price of a 3 Series on upgrades, if you so wanted. Electronic damper control (£760), bi-xenon lights (£470), Logic7 speaker system (£500), Comfort seats (£1160 for the front and £1960 at the back), Club leather (£2860) and a rear entertainment package (£2250) gives you some idea of what was on offer. You could also have heated, cooling and massage seats, soft close doors, double glazing and a TV, too.
In 2005, the E65 received a face-lift, which softened its hard-edged features and, to our eyes, gave it a much more pleasant visage, even if it did lose some of its outright aggression. The styling changes were subtle but made a big difference, resulting in a far more cohesive design, with slightly larger kidney grilles, reshaped headlights with floating angel eyes, a larger front valence and restyled foglights, while at the back the rear bumper was mildly tweaked, the light clusters now wrapped around the bootlid and a thin chrome strip ran from edge to edge just above the numberplate. On the inside there was nicer wood trim and revised iDrive with a reshaped, leather topped controller. The V8s were upgraded, too, with the arrival of a 306hp 740i to replace the 735i and the 750i with its 367hp 4.8- litre engine replacing the 745i.
Over the year there were some minor spec changes but broadly speaking the V8 machines remained unchanged, although a sunroof became standard and Dynamic Drive was demoted to being an option during the car’s life. Eventually the E65 bowed out in 2008 to be replaced by the first of the F Generation machines, the F01 7 Series.
Wheels, tyres and brakes
The E65 came on a variety of 18- and 19-inch wheels; 17s were available on the six-cylinder cars only. 18- and 19-inch tyres are relatively inexpensive these days. You can get a set of four 245/50x18 Hankooks fitted for around £400 or a pair of front Pirellis for £250. 19-inch wheels? A pair of 245/45x19 Dunlop SP Sports are just over £260 and a pair of 275/40x19 Vredesteins about the same. Chinese tyre companies like Maxxis, Landsail and Davanti are on the ball these days – pay around £80- 90 each for these sizes and all three have decent wear, noise and wet grip ratings.
Regarding the brakes, discs and pads can be bought from the aftermarket, with quality brake discs like Pagid being around £110 a pair and front pads under £40 for the set. Brake hydraulics are good, and even the ABS block doesn’t seem to give much trouble. If it does, forget buying new as it’s pricey but reckon on £250 for a good used one. Valvetronic engines use a diesel type brake vacuum pump.
These can fail (very hard brake pedal) and a new pump is £373. The E65 was the first BMW with an electronic handbrake. They use conventional calipers and the usual rear discs with the handbrake shoes inside. A big electric motor in the transmission tunnel area pulls on the handbrake cables and this system is generally okay… as long as the battery doesn’t go flat, that is!
The E65 completely eradicated the E38’s tendency to suffer from scabby rust – it really is a superbly built car. Double glazed glass can sometimes suffer ‘milking’ in the corners and edges. Make sure the spare wheel well is bone dry. If not it could be down to tired lamp gaskets or the boot seal; both these can be rejuvenated by Vaseline, if they’re not damaged. The vertical felt window channels need a shot of spray grease so the windows power up and down smoothly, taking the strain off the regulators. The window regulators are quite robust. Door handles also need a shot of spray grease occasionally, too. Ensure the sunroof drains are clear as a blocked one will soak the front carpet, damaging any modules underneath, such as the DSC system’s yaw sensor (passenger front). Bonnet release levers can break if the release latches haven’t been lubricated.
The first thing you need to do is to make sure that an E65 is for you. It’s a pretty large machine so make sure it’ll fit in your garage/parking space and that it’s not going to be too big for your needs. If you’re looking at a pre-face-lift car you’ll also need to make sure you can get along with the iDrive system – it’s much harder to grapple with than the revised version in the later cars. With the familiarity that ownership brings, though, we reckon everyone should be able to get to grips with it.
Once you’re satisfied you still want one you’ll need to decide as to which engine suits you best – the 745i and 750i do seem more common than the two smaller-engined machines so you’ll have more choice with the bigger power units. But if the right car comes up in the right spec we wouldn’t discount any of the engine options. All are capable of covering ground pretty rapidly and servicing and economy costs hardly vary between the four cars. Try and hunt down an original brochure for the E65 and decide which options you really want – air conditioned massage seats might be enjoyable but you’ll severely restrict your choice of cars if you limit yourself to having certain options. And while soft close doors and auto opening bootlids are nice to have, they do add complexity – and potentially cost – when they go wrong. If your air conditioned seat stops working you can live with it, but if your door or the boot won’t shut, you can’t! In terms of cost to repair, the big ticket items to avoid would be electronic damper control, Dynamic Drive and self-levelling rear suspension. Otherwise the normal rules apply; look at as many as you can and get a feel for how they drive. Look for full history and evidence of recent expenditure and buy the best you can afford.
The original N62 was used in the 735i and 745 and it’s a good reliable unit. It uses VVT #Valvetronic technology yet is far less prone to the issues that afflict the four-cylinder N42 (VVT motors, timing chains, eccentric shafts and so on). However, it does have problems in old age. The first one is oil consumption due to worn rings/bores and anything that’s a bit smoky is best avoided. Cars that have had regular oil and filter changes as well as long trips won’t suffer from this, and we’d recommend an oil and filter change every year or 10,000 miles using a fully synthetic oil. The other problem is the coolant cross tube in the block. On the previous M62 V8 (E39, E38 etc), the tube was removable without a massive amount of dismounting but for the N62, BMW engineers designed it so the tube is sandwiched between the block and the front timing case. The official repair is engine out, heads and sump off, which is around 30 hours of labour. Companies in the US sell an expanding tube that requires around six hours of labour but the part is still a few hundred dollars to buy. I’ve managed to repair one of these using a modified version of a standard BMW pipe and it cost around £600 – far more cost-effective on a £3500 car.
N62s also like to leak oil. The plastic cam cover gaskets are the main culprit but if they aren’t badly cracked or distorted then a new rubber gasket, some proper quality sealer and careful fitting can reduce or eliminate this.
The later units on the 740i and 750i from 2005 (N62N units) are reckoned to be a better engine in terms of the bore wear and cam cover leaks but that’s just because they’re newer. The cam covers were improved in late 2006 but any N62 variant that’s been properly maintained will be fine. Head gasket problems are very rare. Vanos units can fail but they’re more reliable than on the four-cylinder cars; sadly though, the vanos units and VVT motors are not the same as the four-cylinder units and used parts are rare. The DIVA variable intake manifold system seems to be reliable, too, but most of these cars will now need to have the crankcase ventilation system replaced – the oil separator valve and its rubber pipes.
No matter what year or engine it has, the car must run perfectly smoothly. A new MoT is a fair indicator that the engine is running fine, as any problems with over-fuelling, misfires or the VVT system not working correctly will result in a fail on emissions. A new VVT motor is £230.
Cooling system prices? From BMW a radiator is £461 and a water pump £256 – pay £175 for a Hella radiator and £67 for a Circoli water pump.
Steering and suspension
Here is where money can be consumed. The E65 is a heavy car and at over ten years and 100,000 miles, you may well need to replace parts.
The E65 comes with three separate suspension types: standard cars; EDC; and Dynamic Drive. The standard Boge Sachs dampers have a good long life and even at 100,000 miles they’re generally still okay. They’re £311 each from BMW and about half that from Boge via ECP. On to the EDC; many E65s come with it and front struts cost over £800 each. Dynamic Drive, though, is another can of worms. If its anti-roll bar motors start leaking it needs to be replaced, costing £1527. In other words, then, it’s probably worth avoiding. The original 735i and 745i brochures claimed that it was standard equipment but it was a common option on these cars. By the time the E65 was face-lifted in ’05, it was standard only on the V12 cars. If the car you’re looking at does have it, inspect the roll bars carefully for leaks and pray.
The rest of it is down to wishbones, balljoints and bushes. After a slow start, the aftermarket has caught up with the E65 and you can now buy standard type front dampers as well as suspension arms, drop links and bushes from the likes of Euro Car Parts. You will struggle to find a servotronic steering rack though (£2000 new) and this is where breakers come in useful. Be aware, though, that E65s are not being scrapped at anything like the rate that the E38 is. E65s are still in demand and breakers are having to buy complete running cars to service the demand for used parts.
This is the area where most of the E65’s ills will be found. Early cars were a bit of a disaster with a multitude of problems such as all the windows opening at once randomly and plenty of other glitches. However, BMW got on the case and worked hard to rectify this and these early cars should all have been modified by the dealers at each service as software upgrades came along plus, of course, warranty repairs. By 2004 the car was pretty much debugged but that’s not to say they’re perfect because no car of this age and complexity can ever be. The battery really is the life source of the E65. It has to be both the right amperage, correctly coded to the car’s battery control module, and it must also be in perfect condition. Anything less and the car will misbehave – even new cars in BMW showrooms that had been sat overnight with the interior light left on would be a pain until the battery had been trickle charged and any fault codes erased.
There are many options on the E65 to add to the complexity – electronic damper control, tyre pressure control, automatic bootlid actuation, comfort access, soft closing doors, heated comfort seats, active cruise control, TV function and so on. The iDrive system was in its infancy in 2001 and it does take some getting used to, both if you’re coming from a pre-iDrive era car or regressing from a newer one. The CD player in the glovebox can fail and the sat nav is at the age now where a TomTom stuck to the screen can do a better job as it can often crash, as can the iDrive system, while the radio is known for just stopping dead. If you buy an E65, you may as well put your voltmeter on eBay because to fix one of these you need a laptop with both INPA and a clever 12-year-old to tell you how to use it. Do not underestimate the E65’s capacity for generating odd electronic problems.
Much of what goes wrong here is covered in electrics but there are a few titbits. Steering wheels can look a bit ropey at this age, particularly the earlier ones with the light coloured leather. Unless the leather is damaged it’s best to do any reconditioning with the wheel on the car as removing it will require the use of diagnostics to recode it, particularly the airbag warning light. The E65 was the first BMW to use the current type key and starter button and, as it wears, the key and steering lock can become recalcitrant. Whilst it’s possible to take it apart and just remove the steering lock peg, this is now an MoT fail as it needs to work. They can be reprogrammed with wider parameters to cure this, and Grosvenor Garage in Reading is adept at this.
Finally, radio reception problems can often be caused by a failed diversity amplifier, and a new one is often a better plan that trying a used one – they are not as failure prone as those used on the 5 Series Touring, for example.
Transmission and drivetrain
The E65 broke new ground in 2001, having a sixspeed automatic gearbox with mechatronics. Mechatronics means that the gearbox ECU is combined with the valve body in the gearbox itself but despite the ECU being immersed in hot oil, it actually very rarely fails. The actual valve body unit can, however. On the previous five-speeder, the two halves of the valve block had a paper gasket in between but due to higher line pressure, the sixspeed valve block uses a special black sealer that is applied at the factory. In old age it’s quite possible that a bit of sealer can get blown out, leading to a pressure drop in that circuit. This will show up as a harsh shift as the ECU tries to compensate.
A harsh first to second (and vice versa) shift is common so you need to see if a software update resolves this. Early cars did have a number of software updates to improve the unit but if the car has this problem then either another gearbox is needed or a new Mechatronics unit from BMW, at £3000. Other problems include the finned plastic sump/filter unit leaking and the only answer is a new sump – they aren’t silly expensive at £165. As for oil and filter changes, these units are sealed for life but a new sump/filter and topping up with the correct unit will do it no harm at all. The gearbox can also leak oil from the rubber gasket around the electrical plug in the side of the box and, as there is no dipstick, any oil leaks must be rectified immediately.
Apart from these issues, the six-speed ’box is a good tough unit that doesn’t suffer from split brake drums like there previous five-speed ’box did. There can be problems with the electronic selector switch on the column but, overall, the transmission is surprisingly reliable. The propshaft and differential almost never give any trouble.
Should you buy an E65? If you’re brave and like gadgets then go for it. 14 years ago, the E65 really was a tremendous thing and even now a good one is an incredible blend of dynamic ability, intriguing gadgets and sheer go. The 745i and 750i really do shift and the smaller-engined versions are not shy either. We think in time, the E65 (particularly the preface- lift) will become a cult car because it really did move the game along. As ever, avoid the cheaper cars that don’t come with invoices and a well-stamped service book – they are not worth having unless they’re cheap and you’re useful with spanners; if all else fails, you can make a decent profit breaking it! Good ones with 100,000 miles or less start at £4000 and if you’re less than confident about checking it out then getting a BMW dealer or specialist to put it on a ramp for an hour to check everything, including the emissions, will definitely be money well spent.
BMW DEALER SPECIALIST
OIL SERVICE £165 £175
OIL SERVICE PLUS MICRO FILTER £285 £227
BRAKE FLUID £81 £64
VEHICLE CHECK £79 £79
FRONT BRAKE PADS £207 £160
REAR BRAKE PADS £212 £158
Service prices courtesy of Sytner BMW Sheffield (0114 275 5077) and Grosvenor Motor Company, Reading (0118 958 3481). Prices are inclusive of parts and VAT.
E65 7 Series – V8 models 735i / 740i / 745i / 750i
ENGINE: V8, 32-valve V8, 32-valve V8, 32-valve V8, 32-valve #N62 / #N62B36 / #N62B40 / #N62B44 / #N62B48
CAPACITY: 3600cc 4000cc 4398cc 4799cc
MAX POWER: 272hp @ 6200rpm 306hp @ 6300rpm 333hp @ 6100rpm 367hp @ 6300rpm
MAX TORQUE: 266lb ft @ 3700rpm 288lb ft @ 3500rpm 332lb ft @ 3600rpm 361lb ft @ 3400rpm
0-62MPH: 7.5 seconds 6.8 seconds 6.3 seconds 5.9 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph 155mph 155mph 155mph
ECONOMY: 26.4mpg 25.2mpg 25.9mpg 24.8mpg
EMISSIONS CO2: 259g/km 267g/km 263g/km 271g/km
PRICE (NEW): £52,750 (2003) £56,550 (2006) £56,950 (2003) £61,000 (2006)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLOGBOOK: #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW /
An E30 325i, nothing overly special about that you might think… well it is when you drop an E36 M3 engine into one! An E30 325i, nothing overly special about that you might think… well it is when you drop an E36 M3 engine into one! Words & images: Jon Cass.
The E30 BMW M3 has been grabbing the limelight for decades now and that’s hardly surprising given what a fantastic car it is. Even now, its rear-wheel drive biased handling, purposeful looks and outright power are a match for many of today’s sought after performance cars. And let’s not forget, it had its fair share of success in touring car racing too!
While the lust for an M3 has never wilted, the popularity for its more mainstream brethren has grown immensely over the past decade, a tidy 316 on a decent set of rims makes a very cool and practical classic to smoke around in. Even the E30 Touring has to be one of the best looking estate cars of the last thirty years. The pick of the bunch for many however would be the 325i Sport coupe, arguably just as good looking as its M3 stablemate and packing a fair amount of punch too.
Craig Morgan has been an E30 fan since he was thirteen and was smitten by his brother’s red 323i coupe right from the start. “I had to wait until six years ago before I had the opportunity to buy one for myself.” Craig remembers. “This is my second example and was bought in 2011.”
Considering the newest E30 coupe was twenty years old at the time, Craig found he had a whole range of them to choose from, all on site at the same location. In fact many E30 fans will probably recall a whole fleet of them suddenly appearing on the market at once on an internet auction site and all with the same price tag. We certainly do! The reason for this was a keen collector had been cleverly buying tidy 325s and storing them away as an investment. Sadly his circumstances changed and he had to sell all but one and these all hit the market at the same time. “I was one of the first to arrive and had the whole collection to choose from,” Craig recalls. “Although he had plenty of manual 325 cars in stock, I chose this one which was an automatic at the time as the bodywork was almost perfect. Also, because it was an auto, chances are it hadn’t been thrashed.”
Craig’s initial task was to remove the factory bodykit, which are renowned for trapping moisture and dirt to make sure the metalwork underneath was in good shape. “Luckily, as this one had been dry stored for so long, the bodywork was pretty good as was the underside,” Craig recalls. “I spent some time cleaning and under seal off the shell and replacing various worn parts such as the windscreen washer bottle, bonnet insulation and door cards.” The auto ‘box was then replaced by a 5-speed manual alternative and returned to the road for the summer of that year, still with the original 2.5 straight-six engine in place.
“Over the winter of that year, I began looking at options to increase the power,” Craig remembers. “I had a shortlist of an LSV8, an M3 Evo or to keep the original engine and fit a turbo.” Due to its ideal combination of power and reliability, it was the M3 Evo that won in the end and Craig managed to source a suitable unit along with a 6-speed gearbox from a 1999 E36 M3 with full service history.
Now that the original 2.5 and short lived 5-speed ‘box had been removed, this became the ideal opportunity to strip and repaint the whole engine bay. The S50 B32 straight six was treated to a Sachs clutch, lightweight flywheel and brand new Vanos before being slotted in place. The E30 has a smaller bay compared to the later E36, so the manifolds required some customisation and tricky welding to fit properly, as did the exhaust, which Craig points out was probably jointly the hardest task in the whole project. Look at them now and they’re like a work of art. You‘d think it left the factory that way, all testament to Craig’s skills and persistence.
Various other modifications were also carried out in the conversion including a shortened and balanced propshaft, and an Ergen steering shaft connector with E36 steering rack. “Some of the smaller ancillaries had to be replaced and relocated, due to the E30’s restricted confines, such as the brake servo that’s from a Renault Clio and repositioned 50mm from where it was before,” Craig explains. To help in the cooling department, the 325’s radiator had to be replaced by the larger M3 rad along with a Nissan Skyline electric fan. Craig also fitted a 325td oil cooler to be safe too. In fact, we should point out that he carried out all of the work himself with the exception of the wiring, where his good friend and electrical expert, Dave Bolton helped out.
As we said before, this conversion has been carried out so well it wouldn’t look out of place in a ‘90s BMW showroom, it really is that good. It drives well too as you’ve probably guessed! As we watch Craig disappear sideways and fully in control from a junction with the M3 motor on full song, the 3.7 LSD comes into full effect, as does the stiffer BMW Motorsport suspension with those 30mm lowering springs, not that he drives like that all the time! Speaking of the chassis, all the drop links and bottom ball joints have been renewed along with Brembo brake discs, Green Stuff pads make it more than capable on the road and probably the track too if Craig so wished!
For now Craig is enjoying taking the E30 to shows and loves to see the reaction when he opens the bonnet. “There are a lot of nice E30s around, but people always like to see one that’s been done a bit differently,” Craig smiles. The 16x8 Klutch SL1 alloys grab attention and look the part too, suiting the Dolphin Grey paintwork perfectly. The interior remains standard 325 Sport as Craig likes to drive the E30 whenever he can, so it has to still be practical and comfortable.
Confirming this project had been well thought out and executed right from the start, Craig wouldn’t change a single thing on his E30. “I’ve taken this project as far as I want to, I think sometimes you can go too far and start regretting things then,” he tells us. “This is the perfect E30 to me.” And when you consider the whole project took only nine months to complete, this has been quite an achievement. Completing a project does have its disadvantages (or perhaps advantages depending on how you look at it) as Craig is itching to begin work on another car. Which model it will be is uncertain, but chances are it may be V8 powered. Watch this space.
ENGINE: BMW E36 M3 Evo Engine conversion, #S50B32 / #S50 Engine with 6-speed ‘box. Lightweight flywheel, #Sachs clutch, brand new #VANOS , customised original manifolds. Shortened and balanced propshaft, Renault Clio brake servo moved over 50mm. Ergen steering shaft connector, E46 Steering rack, 3.7 LSD . Braided clutch line. E36 M3 radiator, larger 325td oil cooler, Nissan Skyline electric fan.
CHASSIS: BMW 325 Motorsport suspension, #Eibach 30mm lowering springs, Brembo brake discs, Green Stuff pads, bottom ball joints and drop links renewed, #Klutch SL1 16x8 wheels.
EXTERIOR: Factory 325 Sport bodykit, Dolphin Grey paintwork.
INTERIOR: Standard 325 Sport with grey velour seats.
SHOUT: Dave Bolton.
M-tech two goodies remain in place on Craig’s E30, including that distinctive but subtle rear wing.
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- Post is under moderationTHE LONG GAME #2015 / #BMW
This 400hp+ supercharged E46 330Ci has been nine years in the making and it was definitely worth the wait.
Some folks rush through a project, hurtling towards a deadline to get everything finished. David Byrne decided to take a more casual approach to his 330Ci Sport, playing the thing like a game of chess. Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photos: Andy Starkey
The process of building a project car is a convoluted and unique thing; it’s a thoroughly personal endeavour given the sheer galaxy of variables. For every element of your build, be it a set of tyres, a handbrake gaiter, a shade of paint, or a pair of seats, there are countless options awaiting your perusal on the aftermarket, and that’s before you even start to think about customising things to your own specs. That, it goes without saying, is why we can always bring you such a diverse menu of morsels every month with the features we share – it’s pretty much impossible for two people to build the same car. And while many of the ingredients may be common to a number of other projects, it’s the unique way that they’re pieced together that makes each one special.
This Laguna Seca-hued E46 is a prime example of such diversity. Sure, the notion of adding M3 and CSL parts to a non-M 3 Series is a well-trodden path, but the owner in question here, David Byrne, has basically sidestepped any semblance of influence from anyone else’s project to bring to life his own unique vision of the E46 puzzle. Now, quite a few of the cars that you see on these pages have been built on a clock – whether it’s to debut at SEMA or to make it in time for a Players show, or just to work to some arbitrary timescale (a birthday, a holiday, a year after the car’s purchase, you name it), people quite often have one eye on the calendar throughout in order to push them on, keep them motivated. Not so with our protagonist here – David’s owned this car for the best part of a decade now, and he’s casually honing and refining it at his own pace, intent on ultimately colouring in the sketched-out vision in his head.
“I owned my first BMW for six years,” he recalls. “It was a 1999 320d Saloon. I was coming from Fords and Rovers before that, and was impressed that the interior was a world apart – the quality of it, it was such a nice place to be. I needed a saloon to ferry the kids about, and I wanted something that was built to last. It turned out to be a good choice.” Well, having hung on to it for that amount of time, that really speaks for itself. “I loved the E46 so much that I started hankering after something more; I’d never modded a car before, but after the kids had grown up a bit I was able to take the plunge and buy a coupé. I couldn’t afford an M3, so the 330Ci Sport was the next best thing! It was 18 months old when I bought it from a main dealer – 16k on the clock and pretty much perfect – and I didn’t really have much of an idea of what to change on it at first. But then the E46zone forum started to give me some ideas…”
What followed, as you’ve probably guessed from casting an eye over the photos, was no small amount of work in transforming the 330Ci into a reasonably faithful M3 tribute, combining some CSL accoutrements and even the heady thrill of forced induction. So let’s start with that last point, shall we? Sounds pretty intriguing. “Yes, well the simplest way to get the power I was after from the M54 block was to supercharge it,” says David, matter-of-factly.
See, he’s not blowing the thing to impress people on a showground or win any pats on the back from forum members – he just wanted the thing to go faster, and identified the best way to do it. “Having owned it for so long I knew that the engine was solid and had been looked after, so I wasn’t worried about its strength. I chose the ESS system as it had been proven as a reliable OEMlooking solution, and it has exhaustively tested its ’charger on a track car which has run over 50k miles and is still going strong, so that’s good enough for me! There are also many ESS chargers out in the wild and it has a great reputation. The standard map it has is pretty good too, although I am considering a custom map in the future…”
The car’s been dyno’d at over 400hp at the flywheel, which is a healthy lift over the straight-six’s stock grunt, and this is all helped along by some lumpier Schrick cams, E36 M3 Evo high-flow manifolds that have been custom-matched to the motor, and a variety of other tasty tweaks. To help get all of this new power down to the road, David’s had a Quaife LSD installed, which should help to tame the whirlwind somewhat. Although a power figure that begins with a four is always going to be a handful – we bet that David’s got a grin like a Cheshire cat when he fully unleashes the beast.
This is a holistic build, however, it’s not just about the meat under the bonnet. The exterior has been treated to all manner of M3-derived embellishments, centreing around the genuine OEM M3 front wings and rear quarters, which are artfully complemented by the correct side skirts, bonnet and rear bumper, along with a CSL bootlid and replica CSL front bumper. “That bootlid should have been standard on the M3 in my opinion, it’s a work of art,” he smiles. There’s also a CSL-like carbon-fibre roof, which is no mean feat to achieve: “The original was taken off in half a day,” David explains, “and the carbon-fibre item was bonded on and left to cure over the weekend in the oven. Since the previous skin had a sunroof, the weight saving is significant!”
David’s a master of subterfuge too, the modifying bug having bitten him hard. He’s always ready to surprise onlookers with a subtle but fresh twist. “I have several alternative parts to put on the car to change the look and keep it fresh,” he says. “There’s a set of amber and clear lights, chrome, black and colour-coded grilles, the CSL rear diffuser and original M3 diffuser, two front splitters and a single lip, plus three sets of wheels which can all be swapped around to alter the look whenever I want!”
Talk about diversity, huh? You can see how easily it is to get sucked into the partshoarding scene – once you’ve got a taste for OEM+ tuning, it becomes an obsessive pattern of searching and collecting. As we move into the interior, we find another set of boxes ticked over the course of David’s ownership, stepping incrementally toward his dream E46. The whole thing’s been expertly retrimmed in Cinnamon leather, silky-soft in its Porsche-sourced Nappa finery, with some oh-so on-trend Recaro Sportster CS buckets on kidneyrestraining duty up front. “They’re heated seats,” David boasts proudly. “They were wired in by a local firm, DJ Auto Electrics, to operate with the OEM three-stage seat buttons.” It’s this sort of attention to detail that made the build stand out for us, and we’re not the only ones – David’s fastidiousness has won his car a lot of fans online. Not that he built it for them, of course.
It goes without saying that the car sits perfectly too – the combination of HSD Mono coilovers and OEM CSL wheels work on a number of levels, the lightweight 19s looking just-so with those genuine M3 body corners. The fact that it’s all slathered in a striking shade of blue – the connoisseur’s choice, some may say, and an option box seldom ticked – serves to highlight the obsessive nature of how the various upgraded parts have been pieced together. Given that he’s been at it for nine years, then, are we seeing the finished product? Is this the end of the road? Is he done? No, of course not. “I’m keeping this car for life,” he says. “And I’ve got a few plans for it yet… possibly a custom exhaust system, a TS3 upgrade to the supercharger, a Redish subframe reinforcement kit. There’s plenty more in store.”
We can be sure that the quality will be absolutely top notch, naturally, and it’s a fairly safe bet that he’ll be buying two or three options for whatever he decides to change. You know, just to keep us all on our toes. One thing that’s totally certain, however, is that he’ll be taking his time over it, doing everything very thoughtfully. Nine years? Hell, he’s just warming up…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE SUPERCHARGED #BMW-330Ci-E46 / #BMW-330Ci / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged-E46 / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged / #BMW-E46 / #BMW
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 , #ESS TS2+ supercharger / #ESS-TS2 , #Schrick 248/256 cams, #VANOS anti-rattle kit, E36 M3 Evo high flow headers (custom flange fitted for M54 block), DEI titanium heat wrap, custom de-cat centre section, #Umnitza quad exhaust with Eurostyle M3 tips, OEM Performance filter, carbon-fibre air intake, cooling system replaced, #AFR wideband meter, discreet P3 vent gauge for #AFR and #OBD II readout. Six-speed manual, #CDV delete, clutch stop mod, UCC short-shift and DSSR, Quaife LSD with diff polybushes, diff and transmission oil replaced with Redline.
CHASSIS 8.5x19” #ET44 (front) and 9.5x19” ET27 (rear) OEM M3 CSL wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport tyres (alternative wheels: gunmetal grey 359 reps or Volk TE37s), HSD #Mono coilovers, #Powerflex front bushes, OEM M3 27mm front and convertible 20mm rear anti-roll bars, OEM Performance carbon-fibre strut brace, #Powerflex ARB bushes, Purple Label shorter steering rack, #KSport eight-pot #BBK with EBC BlueStuff pads.
EXTERIOR Laguna Seca blue, Evolve carbon-fibre 1x1 weave roof, OEM M3 rear quarters, OEM M3 wings, side skirts, CSL bootlid, bonnet and rear bumper, Status Gruppe CSL 1x1 weave carbon-fibre diffuser, M3 diffuser, M3 door mirrors, Turner Motorsport replica CSL front bumper, single carbon-fibre lip and splitters, modified Japanese numberplate holder, Umnitza LED angel eyes, LED rear amber lights, OEM amber indicators, face-lift rear lights, E9x puddle lights in door handles, boot opening spring kit.
INTERIOR #Recaro Sportster CS Cross heated seats (backs painted gloss black), full retrim in #Cinnamon Nappa leather, M3 instrument cluster, CSL door kick strips, M3 rear view mirror, 1x1 carbon-fibre trim, #Dynavin N6 media/sat-nav system, DAB radio, Freeview TV, Storm Motorwerks gear knob, handbrake and sat-nav knobs, steering wheel re-covered in Alcantara, CSL lower trim (Titanium Shadow), Alcantara gear and brake gaiters, retrofit boot release, AC Schnitzer mats, cup holders, Rainbow speakers (front and rear), Blacksys dual-channel GPS dash-cam.
THANKS #K&G Bodyshop in Cannock, Midland VW in Cannock, Dave Haden Upholstery in Walsall Wood, Xtreme Stainless, in Hixon, DJ Auto Electrics in Cannock.
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- Post is under moderationHARD EIGHT #BMW-140i-E81
Where Time Attack is concerned it’s pretty much a case of anything goes, and this S65 V8 1 Series is quite the beast.
Jonas Larsson’s home-built #BMW-140i is a serious piece of kit. It retains the Pixar grin of the 1 Series’ face but don’t let that fool you – this car is very angry indeed. Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photos: Hjalmar van Hoek
Motor racing is a complicated thing. If you want to build a fast car and then pit it against other fast cars on track, it’s not just a case of nailing the thing together, getting your race licence and then showing up on the day with a helmet in your bag and eagerness in your heart. There are rules and regulations to be adhered to; strict mandates that ensure safety, parity, fairness, the appeasement of sponsors, all sorts… look at Formula One, for example.
In days of yore, there were all manner of chassis, engine and aero configurations battling on the same grid, but there’s a reason today’s F1 cars all look roughly the same and post roughly similar lap times at any given venue: the rules. Nose cones have to be a specific height. Exhaust outlets have to be a specific distance from diffusers. Race cars are built for individual race series – that’s why you don’t see Le Mans streamliners on the grid at Monaco or BTCC racers on rally special stages.
There is a notable exception, however. A race series in which the rules are effectively ‘build a fast car, then see if you can post a faster lap time than everybody else’. That series is Time Attack.
You’ve heard of it, right? But if you’re unfamiliar with the story behind the name, a quick history lesson: Time Attack grew from Japanese circuit racers of the 1960s, that were built to celebrate the art of the aftermarket tuner; the doors were open to everyone from low-budget home-spannerers to big-bucks corporate showcases, with everyone racing on, as it were, a level playing field. This is very much the ethos of the series today. You just need to start with a production car as a project base, and then the tuning potential is limitless. Throw in a load of horsepower, tinker with the chassis and drivetrain, develop some custom aero, do whatever it takes to make the car as fast as it can physically be.
Time Attack today exists in numerous series across the globe, with competitors bracketed into various groups; ‘Clubman’, for instance, is a UK class for cars with basic modifications – roll-cages are merely ‘recommended’… the ladder climbs through ‘Club Challenge’, ‘Club Pro’, ‘Pro’ and ‘Pro Extreme’, with the cars getting incrementally madder as you go. In essence, then, Time Attack is the dream series for aftermarket tuners. You can do pretty much what you like to the car without having to worry about a governing body disqualifying you for running the wrong thickness of head gasket or a frowned-upon diameter of air intake.
It follows that cars built for this series tend to be somewhat on the bonkers side. Take a look at this 1 Series, for instance: it’s very wide, it’s squatting aggressively… oh, and there’s a V8 in there. Fun, huh? So, why a 1 Series? And specifically, why an E81? Sure, the 130i was pretty quick, but on the whole isn’t it a hatchback more suited to the school run and the supermarket car park? And this particular one rolled off the production line as a 116i – 120hp-odd and, in the eyes of the purists, a paucity of cylinders. What manner of lunacy is this?
Well, ‘lunacy’ is the key notion here, of course. “I’ve always liked the 1 Series,” says Jonas Larsson, the man behind the project. “I bought a 120d in #2006 and used it happily as a daily-driver. This 116i is a 2008 model that I bought in Germany back in 2011. It was in good condition when I bought it, but I knew all the way from the beginning that this was going to be a total rebuild into a full-on Nordic Time Attack car.” Having got the thing back to Sweden, that’s exactly what he set about doing, and there certainly weren’t going to be any half measures. What Jonas had in mind was to build a 140i and, as aficionados of Bavarian nomenclature may deduce, that involves replacing the asthmatic four-pot with an engine whose displacement figure begins with a four. Now, this isn’t just a case of a man being led to derangement by a contaminant in the Swedish water, or railing against the suppression of everyday horsepower by going off on an extreme modifying tangent – he has form with this sort of thing. “I’ve been interested in cars for as long as I can remember,” he explains, with the ease of a campfire cowboy reeling off his list of lassoing techniques. “I have had quite a few cars, from Alfa Romeos to a BMW M235i , most of them with small modifications… except my Porsche 968CS, which I built specifically for racing, and I drove in the Porsche Sports Cup.” So none of this should be too much of a surprise. But we were talking about that engine, weren’t we?
“My plan from the beginning was to fit an E92 M3 engine,” Jonas states matter-offactly, as if that’s a perfectly normal thing to say. This is a motor, remember, that offers a meaty 4.0-litres of displacement from its bent-eight configuration, with the bald figure in its native 3 Series environment being well north of 400hp – rather a lot more than you’d expect from a 1 Series.
“I bought the engine from a scrapyard,” he says. “It was easy to fit the M3 engine in the 1 Series, as it uses the same fastening spots.” There you go then, a bit of inspiration for all you hatchback drivers out there. Sorry for saying you had a shopping car – find a written-off E92 and prove me wrong.
“At that point,” he continues, “I embarked upon a total tear-down to rebuild the thing from the ground up as a race car.”
He’s not kidding. The first thing you’d probably notice about Jonas’s 140i is that it’s quite wide. That, in fact, is something of an understatement – if you were to see this parked alongside a bone-stock 116i, you’d see just how much this car has ballooned in muscularity. Those obscenely broad wings and arches are made from carbon-fibre, employed both for its strength and its lightness, and they just about stretch over the 9.5”-wide #BBS M3 GT4 race wheels with their fat, sticky slicks. “The doors are carbon-fibre, too,” says Jonas. “And the bonnet, and the tailgate. And the doorcards and centre console inside. And the windows are Perspex. And…” Yes, well, you get the idea – he’s put quite a lot of effort into shearing off as many kilos as possible from this racy little brawler. If you think the idea of shoving an M3 V8 into a 116i is game for a laugh, imagine what’d happen if you stripped all the weight out as well. Hilarity, that’s what.
There are many other elements to consider in such a build, naturally, and the openness of Time Attack again proves its helpfulness when you start to pick over Jonas’ chassis. Lurking behind those racy BBS rims we find the brakes from that E92 donor at the rear, with even beefier PFC items up front clamping 378mm discs. The whole shooting match is suspended by a snappily-named setup from Intrax: the XXL Black Titan 1K2. This really is world-class stuff; Intrax is a Dutch suspension specialist who has as much of a hand in F1 development as it does in the street car aftermarket. The 1K2 is a strong, lightweight model with optimal cooling – ideal for racing, then – with a low-friction coating on the rods, as well as spring rate adjusters and ‘Anti-Roll Control’, which is frankly some sort of witchcraft that manages to combine road-car suppleness with race-spec retardation of lateral and longitudinal roll. How it does it is anyone’s guess. It acts as a metaphor for the whole car, really – extremely clever, with a sizeable dollop of ‘I’m sorry, how…?’
It goes without saying that the interior is suitably Stig-friendly, too. Shorn of all but the most necessary ingredients, the lightweight Sparco bucket is joined by a hardcore roll-cage from KBT Safety, the pure-white atmosphere being an oasis of calm that reflects the sobriety of the exterior hue, utterly belying the furious grunt of the V8. It really is a very surprising little car.
Arguably the coolest feature of this build, however, is how mental it isn’t. That’s right, isn’t. While it is indisputably a mad and rocket-up-the-bottom-ish creation, it stands rather soberly alongside the sort of thing that you find when you type ‘Time Attack’ into Google Images. There’s no bonnetmounted aerofoil here, no ankle-lacerating canards or aggressively hacked-out diffusers. That carbon-fibre bodywork is a work of art, and this is largely down to how it mimics the form of the original while upscaling it by 20% or so, rather than morphing it into some kind of spaceship. Aesthetically, less is more; mechanically, more is way more.
“Ayrton Senna is my idol,” Jonas deadpans, sounding like Kimi Räikkönen in his seriousness, “and my personal goal is simply ‘be faster’. As such, this car is always developing. Since the photoshoot I’ve fitted a bigger rear wing, and swapped out the M3 transmission for a Tractive six-speed sequential ’box. The Motec electrical system has been totally overhauled, too.” Blimey, he just can’t leave it alone, can he? This is exactly the sort of perfectionism and innovation that Time Attack encourages – obsessive enthusiasts relentlessly fiddling and honing to eke further tenths out of their pride-and-joy builds. Long may it continue.
DATA FILE #BMW-E81 / #BMW
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 4.0-litre V8 #S65B40 / #S65 , locked #Vanos , #Motec M84 ECU, 420hp+, E92 M3 #ZF-Type-G six-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS: 9.5x18” (front and rear) #BBS M3 GT4 wheels with 250/650 (front and rear) Yokohama slicks, #Intrax XXL Black Titan 1K2 coilovers with ‘Anti-Roll Control’, PFC 378mm front brakes, E92 M3 rear brakes, #AP-Racing air jacks.
EXTERIOR: Full carbon-fibre wide-body kit, carbonfibre doors, bonnet and tailgate, #Perspex windows, tailgate wing, race fuel filler.
INTERIOR: #Motec dash, #Sparco Circuit seat, Sparco steering wheel, #OBP pedalbox, #KBT Safety roll-cage, carbon-fibre doorcards and centre console.
THANKS: Köhler Racing, Daniel Hermansson, and my friends and family.
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