- Post is under moderationWhat goes around comes around, so they say, and Nickel Mohammed’s ever-evolving M3 comes around more than most - it’s always changing and we had to catch it quick before it changed again… Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: #C3Photography .
BOLT FROM THE BLUE Turbo wide-body E46 M3 Cab
The old saying that ‘lightning doesn’t strike twice’ is a load of toffee. It’s not just possible that lightning will strike the same part of the Earth more than once, it’s basically inevitable; whether it happens within a five-minute span or twenty million years apart, every square inch of the planet gets it full in the face at some point, and then again, and again. And so it is with a certain sense of inevitability that, in the same vein, feature cars can also strike twice. Regular readers may be squinting at this boisterous E46, trying to figure out where you’ve seen it before… and to answer that niggling query, you recognise it from the cover of our January 2014 issue. But fear not, it’s really quite different now to how it was then. You don’t just walk into a Performance #BMW feature you know, these things have to be earned on merit. And Nickel Mohammed’s shouty M3 has earned another spot here thanks to its constant evolution and mould-breaking styles.
So how’s it different now? Well, for one thing it’s significantly less powerful. No, wait, come back! This is a good thing – you see, last time we saw the car, its turbocharged S54 was running 800hp, but Nickel’s since detuned this to a rather more manageable 630hp (which is still frickin’ loads), as the car is developing in line with his driving style, as well as to suit the chilly climes of New York City. There’s no point boasting a flag-waving horsepower figure if all of those rampaging ponies are uselessly spinning themselves away at every corner, is there? Definitely far better to have a robust stable of usable nags.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll begin at the beginning, shall we? “I purchased this car brand new, and back then you had to be put on a waiting list,” he recalls. “I signed myself up, and six months later the car was shipped… the wrong car in the wrong colour! I wanted a silver convertible, and they delivered a black coupé. But determination is a damn thing – I said to them OK, put me back on the list, I’ll wait.” And when the desired drop-top did eventually arrive, was Nickel keen to start tearing into the thing according to some grand overarching modification plan? “To be honest, no,” he shrugs. “Not at all in fact, I reckoned I’d keep it stock. The thing was expensive! And I was still young, I couldn’t afford all that stuff. Although I did try – 20” rims and so on, all those terrible choices I made!” Ah, the impetuousness of youth. Inevitably the M3 was going to end up modified, it was all part of cosmic destiny. It just took a little time for the car to find its way.
“I’ve built it up and changed it so many times in different directions, the timetable’s kind of all over the place,” he says, when we try to pin down the chronology. “I knew that the mechanical stuff had to be done first, and that started with the engine back in 2011…”
This was no half-hearted undertaking, with Nickel throwing every one of his chips on the table to get the car ideologically transformed by the lunatics at #HorsepowerFreaks . Their revered Stage 3 turbo conversion brought the howling S54’s peak power up to a stupendous 800hp. These bolt-on kits require no cutting, wiring or welding, and are designed for durability as well as awesome power. But what else would you expect for $30,000+?
Don’t go thinking ‘bolt-on’ means ‘simple’ though. Engineering a car to run these sorts of numbers is a thoroughly in-depth task – hence the cost – and it took HorsepowerFreaks around a year to build up, test and refine Nickel’s motor. But that fastidiousness of engineering has paid off, as the built motor has held up strongly since. “I drive cars hard, I drive them till they break,” he laughs, “but the only thing I’ve wanted to change on the engine in all this time is adding the AEM Infinity ECU - that thing is superb, a learning computer; I mean, big-ups to those techs that take the time to build these things that adapt to your driving!”
This attention to cleverness carries on beyond the engine and into the chassis. The suspension offers up an intelligent middle ground between coilovers and air-ride, comprising #KW Variant 3 coilovers with their cunning Hydraulic Lift System, which offers instant ground clearance at the touch of a button. “I wanted to run the car low enough to drive the city streets of NYC - which are terrible - but still be able to raise the front of the car to clear driveways and speed bumps,” Nickel explains. “In all honesty I feel KWs are the best thing made for this car when it comes to suspension.” The last time this car appeared in these pages it was running full air-ride, so you know this is a considered opinion.
The wheels come from famously pricey custom house, Luxury Abstract. “I’ve had so many wheels before, but these Grassor- Rs were just built for this car,” he grins. “The NeoChrome finish is a neat effect, tying into the Lamborghini pearl paint, and the width and depth really accentuate the body structure.” And you can’t really miss that body, can you? The wide arches are custom hand-fabricated in steel, 1.5” wider at the front and 2.5” out back, thanks to the craftsmanship of Martino Auto Concepts in Long Island. The extra girth is augmented by a V-CSL front bumper and carbon-fibre ducktail boot lid from Vorsteiner, further enhanced by the addition of a Brooks Motorsport Elite carbon wing, along with a set of carbon-fibre side skirts.
The interior has also been comprehensively re-worked since we last saw the car. Inside, you’ll find a pair of fully reclining Manhart #BMW Performance race seats, important for Nickel as, in his own words, he’s sucker cruising with the seat back and the music up, which brings us neatly to that impressive audio install. “I always wanted an empty trunk to carry bags in, so I removed the existing music and had my electronics sponsor build me a system that would not only look superb, but sound phenomenal and not take up any trunk space. I had my rear seats taken out and my racing harness looks like it’s actually going into my audio system. That was an idea I came up with because I didn’t want to fit a roll cage to the rear of the car as it wouldn’t look as clean and it would be too bulky.
“There are a lot of stylistic paths you can follow, it takes a lot of time and due diligence,” Nickel reasons. “You have to research, figure out what has been done and what you can do to make it your own. That’s the key to building a car, how do you make it your own; how does it reflect your personality? That has to come from within.
You have to choose, but that’s why you go on the Internet and talk to your friends and family, and even your techs and people that work on your cars and filter information to help you make your choices. I must have a form: function car. Can’t have a monster in the closet and not be able to let it out because you’re scared that it may attack you! Cars are meant to be driven, and yes they break - you fix it and do it again.”
Admirable sentiment, and it really helps to illustrate the power behind the build. Yes, this car’s an internet-breaker, but Nickel hasn’t just been ticking boxes on the scenester checklist. The fact that it’s such a personal thing is also key to why he changes the spec so frequently. He’s been cherry picking parts from the aftermarket for a decade now, as well as commissioning his own, and Nickel’s not showing any signs of stopping yet – as long as there’s air in his lungs, this M3 will keep evolving.
“You’re never done with a project, not ever,” he says. “There will always be new technology, things that you’ve seen and never got a chance to do.” We ask what his favourite part of the car is right now, and he laughs. “Man, there’s not one part of it that I like more than another, because from the top to the bottom it’s my personality, you know? I love it all. And the key to having a dope build is being able to get in and just have a drive. That’s what it was made for. It’s tuned for cruising NYC.” Damn straight. Nickel’s currently working on his E30 M Tech II Convertible, but we all know that the E46 is his baby. It’s been his from new, through thick and thin, and it’s not going anywhere. Lightning will keep on striking.
DATA FILE Turbo #Wide-Body / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body-E46 / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body / #BMW-M3-HPF-E46 / #BMW-M3-HPF / #AEM / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #HorsepowerFreaks ( HPF ) #HPF-Stage-3-turbo-kit , #HPF-titanium-exhaust-system , #AEM-Infinity-ECU , #HPF carbon-fibre intake ducts, HPF methanol injection, #Rogue-Engineering oil filler ca. Six-speed manual gearbox, E31 850i clutch components with #HPF-Feramic-Stage-3-clutch , #OS-Giken-Super Lock Spec-S LSD, #UUC-Motorwerks engine and transmission mounts
CHASSIS 11x19” (front) and 13.5x19” (rear) #Luxury-Abstract-Grassor-R wheels with 245/35 (f) and 305/30 (r) tyres, #KW-Variant-3 coilovers with #Hydraulic-Lift-System, #HPF-330-subframe reinforcement plates, #HPF carbon fibre strut braces, HPF under braces, #Powerflex race subframe bushes and trailing arm bushes #StopTech #BBK with six-pot calipers and 380mm discs (front), four-pot calipers with 355mm discs (rear)
EXTERIOR Custom steel wide-body, Lamborghini #Blu-Cepheus-paint (three-stage pearl), #Vorsteiner-V-CSL front bumper and ducktail boot lid, #Vorsteiner-GTS3 carbon-fibre side skirts, custom E30 M3 bonnet hinges, OEM BMW hardtop, custom dual-xenon headlights, #Brooks-Motorsport Elite carbon-fibre rear wing with #NeoChrome brackets
INTERIOR Manhart #BMW-Performance race seats, #Schroth harnesses, AEM fuel pressure and 100psi oil pressure gauges, rearview mirror gauge interaction, Kenwood 6.95 double-DIN DDX9902S head unit, JL Audio Monoblock HD1200/1, JL 4-channel amp, JL Evolution C3, JL 12” subwoofer, custom audio box with moulded plexi and LED lighting trimmed in OEM BMW leather, Rydeen reversing camera
THANKS #Motorcepts (Master Tech), Intrack Tyres, #S&R-Paint , #NeoChrome , #Luxury-AbstractStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationIT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS #BMW
On the surface this is a very nice #BMW-E46 M3 but dig deeper and you’ll discover it’s been modified to an incredible level. At first glance Pete Sidwell’s E46 M3 is clearly something pretty special, but go in closer and this thing is just off the scale… Words: Ben Koflach /// Photos: Louis Ruff @ Definitive
Let’s face it, we all love to tinker with our cars – you probably wouldn’t be reading this magazine if you didn’t. Whether it’s a set of lowering springs, a change of wheels or something as big as an engine swap, many of us can probably claim to have worked on a few areas of our cars to improve or personalise them.
There are some people, however, who take things a step further and set out to not only personalise their cars, but take them to a level of finish far higher than they left the factory with. Pete Sidwell is one of the those people: “I bought an E46 M3 because I’d wanted one from the moment I saw them in magazines,” he began. “I’d had mainly Japanese cars before, but wanted something more luxurious after running a WRX for a couple of years. It took me six months to find the right one – I’d almost given up! I finally found one just ten miles away from my home, having travelled all over the country looking at them. I wanted a nonsunroof, non-nav, manual Coupé in Silver grey with full service history, 19s and as low a mileage as I could afford. It had just 40k on it when I got it.
“This was in July 2010, and I had the intention of mildly modifying it but then the bug bit and I couldn’t stop!” smiled the 33-year-old aircraft engineer. “My initial mods were very basic, then after attending a few shows I decided that I wanted to create something more unique. I met James from Redish Motorsport in February 2012 and the car moved to a whole new level.”
Up to this point, Pete had fitted a #Vorsteiner-V-CSL carbon fibre bumper, dropped the car on KW V3s and was running Kawasaki Ninja green-centred #BBS LMs, along with CSL rear end goodies and an Eisenmann exhaust. It was down at Redish Motorsport in Bristol that things really started to take off – James Redish dropped almost the entirety of the car’s underside and disassembled it all, before sending virtually every component off for blasting and powdercoating.
After putting in an extensive order to the dealers – which included numerous screws, bolts, new wheel bearings, underside plastics and much more – Redish set about cleaning up the underneath. The all-toocommon rear subframe mounting cracks were addressed with welding repairs and reinforcement plates, before the brake and fuel lines were removed and the whole underside was cleaned and re-coated with fresh seam sealer where needed and underseal over the whole lot. At this point all of the parts returned from powdercoating – Pete chose to have the rear subframe, trailing arms, diff heatsink, V-brace, engine undertray and suspension springs coated in a darker shade of the Ninja green that his wheels had been painted in, while the rear upper control arms were painted in blue to match the Hardrace adjustable lower control arms that would be going on. With new brake and fuel lines made and fitted, the rest of the refit process could begin.
As part of this process, the freshly powdercoated chassis bits were fitted with polybushes, including Powerflex subframe and front control arm bushes along with Rogue Engineering rear trailing arm bushes. Then, once the fuel tank and all of the heatshields had been refitted, the subframe was bolted in and the suspension components were added to it piece by piece. The rear control arms were attached along with the trailing arms, shocks and springs, and from there the rear hubs were built back up with new brake discs and pads, Goodridge braided flexi lines and refurbished calipers.
From here, the diff could be bolted back together and reinstalled along with new CVJ grease and a new joint gasket, before the newly painted driveshafts were hoisted into position too. The freshly painted anti-roll bar and brackets could then be fitted along with Powerflex bushes. Finally, the prop, exhaust heat shields and the exhaust itself could be installed, rendering the E46 far better than when it left the factory in 2004. “It was a huge job,” James Redish chipped in. “But due to Pete’s excellent planning and prep work, and our commitment to this job, it was completed in just eight days. It was a really enjoyable project and one which I won’t forget in a hurry,” he smiled.
Redish has gone on to offer this underside restoration service for all manner of BMWs, and its E46 M3 boot floor repair is fast becoming the industry standard – it has developed its own reinforcement plates and offers a fantastic service.
After all of the work on the underside, Pete turned his attention to the interior once more. He fitted a Storm Motorwerks titanium-plated gear knob and handbrake grip, as well as perforated leather gaiters with green stitching and had the centre armrest trimmed to match. The steering wheel was updated thanks to a full retrim by Royal Steering Wheels with perforated black leather grips, Alcantara sections and an oversteer marker all with green stitching. Then it was time to add some green flashes to the underbonnet area, which was done with a full complement of Samco coolant and ancillary hoses. A billet oil filter cover was fitted too, and after countless hours spent cleaning, the car was ready for its first proper show outing at Gaydon BMW Festival 2012.
“Gaydon 2012 was a bit gutting,” explained Pete. “I couldn’t get the bonnet up! We’d spent at least three full days prepping and replacing parts under there and got all of my Samco hoses fitted ready for the show, only to be let down by a faulty bonnet pin!” However, as you can imagine, the underside of the car was still wellreceived. Pete was far from done with the engine anyway, and in the year that followed, he worked on something that would truly make his car unique…
First up, the secondary air pump was removed. Then, in its place, Pete plumbed in an oil catch can to stop harmful oil vapours being recirculated into the engine and was, of course, painted Kawasaki Ninja green. The next step really stirred up some controversy, as Pete removed the velocity stacks from his OE air box, had them powdercoated in his trademark green and set about running them as open trumpets.
The method of doing this is relatively simple, but to do it without losing power and as neatly as Pete has is quite something. The key to making sure the switch to open the trumpets ran as well as possible was keeping heat out of the engine bay, and cold air going towards the intake. For this, Pete had his OEM bonnet put under the knife, with GTR style vents installed to draw heat from underneath it. The rest of the work mostly included vents and ducts to fire cool air over the intakes.
Before mapping, the car was running pretty rich and Pete even noticed that it was shooting fire from the intakes – spectacular, but not ideal. In the interlude between finishing the mechanical side and mapping it, Pete also pressed on with a number of transmission upgrades, the parts for which he’d slowly been gathering over the period of a few months. This included a TTV ‘Lite’ flywheel, weighing just 5.1kg, along with a Stage 2 clutch (capable of handling 50% more torque than the OE clutch), Sachs nonself- adjusting pressure plate, a new clutch release bearing and a phosphor bronze pivot pin. Once that lot was bolted up along with new OE flywheel and clutch bolts, the outside of the box could be furnished with new parts too, namely a Goodridge braided clutch line and CDV delete, Rogue Engineering transmission mounts and an E60 545i shifter, which reduces the throw by around 30% when compared to an original E46 M3 item.
“All of the transmission upgrades really worked out great,” Pete smiled. “The shift is noticeably quicker, the clutch pedal feels great (although heavy), and the engine feels loads more responsive.” Ah yes, back to that engine – Pete fitted a set of ITG sock filters just in time for mapping, which revealed some surprising results.
First off, Pete had reinstalled the factory air box to get a base figure from it. “I took the car to Wayne at ChipWizards in Warrington. Three base runs were laid down in the car’s initial state,” he commented. “We recorded a healthy 351.1hp and 277lb ft. Wayne was impressed with the figures, and it seemed consistent with the car having adapted to modifications and running cleaner air with the catch tank since it was dyno’d at 345hp by Evolve in 2012.
“Luke [from Redish Motorsport] and I then set about stripping off all the OEM kit and bolting the stacks and filters back on, and then wiring in the Inlet Air Temperature sensor kit. Initial dyno runs with the original map and no MAF showed the car to have lost about 10hp across the rev range with some significant holes in the powerband and torque curves at about 1900 and 2600rpm. Wayne was confident that he could iron out the trouble spots and get the car running better. The ECU was reflashed with a seriously tweaked Alpha-N file, and we went from there…
“At about half 8 that evening, Wayne was still busy with the car as it was creating a few weird AFRs, so we decided to take the stacks apart and just give them a good clean. The next run then showed 389.2hp and 297lb ft of torque with no holes in the power band and it sounded unbelievable! We finally finished at about midnight, with the car driving like a dream.”
With the final print-out reading as 312.4hp and 255lb ft at the wheels (the aforementioned figures being at the flywheel), Pete was understandably a happy man. With an addiction to the new found power and induction noise, it was only a matter of time before things were stepped up a notch yet again.
“I started stockpiling parts for the next stage of my build, beginning with a Cobra Imola Pro-Fit GT bucket seat. Initially I could only run one in the car as it was my daily and I had to get the kids in the back!” Pete laughed. With this and the plans in mind, Pete’s attention also turned to the chassis and braking setups once more. First up, a set of Michelin Pilot Supersports were ordered up in CSL sizes, as Pete had new wheels in mind, and the K Sport brakes he had previously were ditched for something far more premium. “The kit I ordered was Alcon’s 365mm offering with six-piston calipers – I upgraded as I intended to make my car more track-orientated.”
Pete’s final exterior touch – and one that shows off those Alcons even better – was a set of #Quantum 44 S1s in 9.5x19” sizing with staggered offsets. “I’d decided it was time for a change, and after speaking to Chris at CM Wheels we decided that the car needed something different and fresh!” smiled Pete. “The result was the first set of Quantum44 S1s in these sizes, custom painted to suit my car. The concave faces of the wheels are crazy – I love them – and the green detail looks immense when the car is rolling!” Shod in those CSL-sized Michelin Pilot Cup Sports and bolted up with a wheel stud conversion, the wheels truly do set the car apart. With the Ninja green spoke detail on each wheel tying them in with the rest of the build, it has simply elevated Pete’s car to the next level.
The final step was getting the interior finished, and Pete hasn’t done things by half: “Over the next few months I managed to squeeze in plenty of modding,” he explained. “I had my Cobra buckets re-done with green stitching and fitted them. I also removed the rear seats and built a custom rear area.” This rear part of the interior included stripping out all of the wiring and bracketry to reduce weight as much as possible, and then Pete built panelling to neaten everything up. This was trimmed in Alcantara, and the rear doorcards were given the same treatment too. Pretty much all that you’ll find in the back these days is a fire extinguisher!
The finishing touch was fitting CSL-style doorcards, using all genuine mounting parts. As they’re painted to match the wheels, they tie in perfectly: “My old carbon fibre dash inserts are gathering dust in the garage now, as I had a set of standard ones painted to match the doorcards. I also built a new carbon dash panel and located switches in it for an electric fan and eventually for an exhaust bypass valve as well as an IAT gauge and the mirror switch.
“I’m really happy with how the car is now – future plans are to retire it from daily use and make it more track-orientated with 4:10 gearing, a cage and a CAE shifter,” grinned Pete. “My current favourite parts? I just love how I’ve tied all the parts together, how it sits and handles, and most of all the insane induction roar it makes! It never fails to put a smile on my face!”
With a seriously unique appearance under the bonnet, inside the car, underneath the car and on the surface, Pete can proudly say that he owns one of, if not the most reworked E46 M3s in the country. Not only has he modified it extensively to suit his taste and needs, but he’s seen to it that the whole car has been enhanced in every area, rendering it better than standard. It’s come a long way, and knowing Pete, he won’t be slowing up on it anytime soon.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-E46
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 , custom velocity stack setup with #ITG sock filters, custom carbon fibre heatshield & air temp sensor bracket, #Samco intake hose boots, Ramair idle control valve filter, custom cold air feeds, #Eisenmann 83mm Le Mans ‘Race’ exhaust, 100 cell cats, custom oil catch tank & brackets, secondary air pump delete, custom Alpha-N map with rear lambda and air pump delete, carbon fibre/kevlar engine cover with monochrome badge, #Samco lime green coolant & ancillary hoses, TTV ‘Lite’ 5.1kg flywheel, custom flywheel bolts
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual gearbox, #Sachs sintered four-puck clutch, Sachs #ZF non-self-adjusting pressure plate, braided clutch line, CDV delete, Phosphor Bronze clutch pivot pin, E60 shift lever, Rogue Engineering transmission mounts, all new hardware
CHASSIS 9.5x19” ET40 (front) and 9.5x19” ET22 (rear) #Quantum 44 S1 wheels (with matt gunmetal lips and barrels, matte black spokes with Kawasaki Ninja green detailing) with 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) tyres, 12mm TPI hubcentric front spacers, 10mm #H&R hubcentric rear spacers, 75mm wheel stud kit, R10 titanium wheel nuts, KW V3 coilovers with custom painted springs and Nitron rear spring perches, Rogue Engineering rear shockmounts, KW uprated front droplinks, Hardrace adjustable rear control arms, Redish Motorsport rear subframe reinforcement, Powerflex Black Series front control arm bushes, Powerflex front anti-roll bar bushes, Rogue Engineering black rear trailing arm bushes, Powerflex rear subframe & rear anti-roll bar bushes, green powdercoating (diff carrier, rear trailing arms, diff heatsink, V brace, engine undertray), blue powdercoating (rear upper control arms), all hardware replaced with either OEM or stainless steel replacements, Alcon Advantage Extreme front big brake kit consisting of six-pot monobloc calipers with Ferodo Performance pads and 365mm discs, custom painted rear brake calipers, new steel brake lines throughout, braided hoses, ATE Super Blue fluid
EXTERIOR Silver grey, #Vorsteiner V-CSL carbon fibre front bumper with flippers, custom vented OEM bonnet with GTR style vents and custom washer vent, CSL-style rear diffuser, matt black kidneys, side grilles & mirror caps, black and white carbon fibre roundels, monochrome and Ninja green side grille badges, smoked #Depo indicators, LED angel eyes with DRL and remote fade, front numberplate holder delete, driver’s door lock delete, retrofitted in-car boot release, custom decals
INTERIOR Black Nappa OEM interior, Cobra Pro-Fit GT seats with custom green stitching, custom floor mounts on driver’s side, Macht Schnell mounts for passenger side, retrimmed steering wheel (with green stitching, perforated leather grips, Alcantara top and bottom pieces and grey leather oversteer marker), black and white carbon fibre steering wheel roundel, Ninja green and monochrome steering wheel M badge, Storm Motorwerks titanium-plated V2 gear knob, handbrake lever & lighter plug blank, custom gaiters & centre armrest in black perforated leather with green stitching, carbon fibre gear trim surround, custom painted matt gunmetal dash inserts, CSL doorcards with matt gunmetal inserts and matt black door handles, door airbags deleted, monochrome door sill inserts, full LED interior lighting kit, custom carbon fibre switch panel, climate control relocated, rear seat delete trimmed in grey Alcantara with all trim/wiring/speakers removed, parcel shelf and doorcards trimmed in grey Alcantara, black HK rear speaker covers, compact fire extinguisher between front seats
AUDIO #Kenwood KDC-BT92SD head unit & #KAC-5205 amp, #Alpine SWE 815 active subwoofer, #Focal Access front component speakers, custom located iPod connection
“I love how I’ve tied all the parts together, how it sits and handles, and the insane induction roar it makes!”
“I had the intention of mildly modifying it but then the bug bit and I couldn’t stop!”
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