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    SUPERCHARGED E39 M5 Business class just got faster

    STRICTLY BUSINESS This executive saloon may look unassuming, but don’t be fooled, Matt Benson’s supercharged E39 M5 will easily cash any cheques your right foot can sign. Words and photos: Matt Petrie.

    Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an age-old adage instilled in us during our youth. While it is one of the earliest morals taught, it is too often forgotten as we grow old. Taking past experiences and using them to make prejudices towards a result which we expect to be true can get us into trouble and that is the case with Matt Benson’s E39. What looks to be a civilized saloon is in actuality a complete and utter lunatic. Don’t be fooled – this unapologetic M5 will leave you scratching your head when launching from a red light or as it commands curves, winding through the mountains.

    Maintaining a balance of ferocity and modesty is not an easy task and while on paper it might be contradictory, we assure you that Matt’s E39 M5 is a textbook example of a proper business saloon. The key to retaining modesty is doing without the wild colours, aggressive aero, and flashy wheels. Aesthetically, it has to be something to simply get you into work without being the topic of conversation among co-workers gathering around the water cooler. However, that commute to and from the office is a different, exhilarating story. In order to fully appreciate the final product, we need to briefly highlight the evolution of Matt’s mods and previous cars.

    Matt Benson has always had an affinity for V8 muscle and taking the more subtle approach is something of second nature for him. His first car was a Ford Mustang 5.0 LX “Fox body” which, in a sense, was a sleeper in its time compared to its sister version, the Mustang GT. He drove that LX into the ground with over 200,000 miles on the odometer. After many advancements up the automobile food chain, Matt traded some American torque for German refinement as he found himself in another V8, but this time in the form of a 2000 E39 540i Saloon.

    Though Matt was satisfied with the graduation to the European sports saloon and recognized it as a big improvement, the horsepower bug bit him hard. Dinan parts made their way all over the 540i to increase the performance in both the handling and the engine, pushing it to 350hp. Knowing his reasonable limitations had been met with the 540, yet still wanting more out of his car, Matt set his eyes on his current ride – this 2000 Carbon black on Caramel leather M5.

    He found this car over a decade ago, desirably, with one previous owner and only 13,000 miles logged. Immediately, the performance difference was prominent between the 540i and the M5; the torque off the line and the way the car hooked in the corners didn’t leave him with seller’s remorse over the 540i. While he was tacking on roughly 50,000 miles of his own back and forth to the office and on spirited drives, Matt was continuously adding mods to enhance the performance even further. As superior as he felt the car was in comparison to his previous cars, it wasn’t quite enough. Relentless and back with a vengeance, the mod bug bit hard this time, and it did not let go.

    Matt’s first modification to the M5 didn’t lead to horsepower gains per se. Back in 2005 he sourced a Dinan 3.55 differential and while it is one of the biggest improvements that you can make to a naturally aspirated car, ironically, it has nothing physically to do with the engine. Over the years it served its purpose, but as Matt says “I guess I modded a mod” and changed the rear end out to a 3.62. The tight gear ratio shifts the power band, launching the car and virtually making first gear useless in the best way possible. Surrounding the differential in the rear is a matching Dinan high performance exhaust, which flows out back from a Supersprint four-into-one stepped exhaust manifold system. Above the manifolds, under the bonnet, lies a Dinan cold air intake and Evolve Alpha-N tune with MAF delete and while this combination achieved Matt’s 450 horsepower goal, it was time to raise the bar yet again.

    Chasing greater horsepower and maximising the NA bolt-ons, he crossed the threshold into the forced induction world. Matt commissioned Autocouture Motoring in northern NJ, well-known for its work with BMW and supercharging the E9x platform specifically, to do the work. The team installed an ESS Tuning VT1-560 supercharger system along with an Aquamist meth injection kit. To handle the horsepower increase and fight the ravages of age, Autocouture also installed a Dinan subframe reinforcement kit at the same time as the performance upgrades. The combination of the Dinan differential chewing through first and second gear with the pull of the ESS supercharger and meth higher up the power band is a visceral experience that delivers an exceptional one-two punch.

    In fact, when Matt was asked what his favorite modification to the car has been, he responded happily, “I have two favourites, the first being the supercharger, which brought the biggest smile to my face, and second would be the shorter diff, it’s like a 50hp equivalent increase!”

    With all of this newly-added power he now addressed the other areas of importance: brakes and suspension. Matt went top shelf when choosing suspension, opting for the JRZ coilover kit and set the car up slightly lower than the stock ride height, maximising suspension travel and comfort while optimizing the performance that the JRZs offer. StopTech ST60/ST40 brakes at all four corners enhance the stopping power tremendously, with six-piston calipers up front and four-piston calipers in the rear, both sets finished in silver to keep the M5’s modified appearance at a minimum.

    Matt loved the car’s aesthetics, especially its finely crafted, unadulterated exterior however, he needed a wheel that would clear his brakes and be lighter in weight than stock, while still maintaining the M5’s factory appearance. Wanting to mimic the style of the OEM M5 wheel, Matt, along with the crew at ACM, carefully selected the HRE Classic 301 monoblocks. Taking it a step further, he went with HRE’s gorgeous, custom, hand-brushed finish with a darktinted clear coat, tying them in with BMW’s factory chrome shadow finish on the M5’s original wheels.

    This M5’s interior is straight out of a #BMW catalogue with the smooth caramel-coloured hide flowing from the seats onto the extended leather lower dashboard, with just the right amount of wood trim. Nothing is out of place nor unnecessarily added. Under close examination, only an aluminium pedal set and short shift kit can be spotted in here and even at that point the SSK is still capped off by the stock wood knob to maintain the factory look and feel. Matt was highly selective with every modification made to his M5, and held the highest of standards for how this on-going project was executed.

    “While the car is more than 16-years-old, it rivals anything on the road currently,” Matt says and we’d have to agree with him, it is completely relevant in every way to any of the European sports cars of today. The gentleman’s executive saloon is one that does not cry out for attention, but rather discretely delivers to those who know what they’re looking at. Each modification was carefully considered and completed with one goal in mind, which was to make the car perform at its full potential. His car takes everything that was incredible about the E39 M5 and sharpens it to to modern standards, making this one of the most fun cars you will ever drive.

    “Autocouture Motoring installed an #ESS-Tuning-VT1-560 supercharger system along with an Aquamist meth injection kit”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE Supercharged #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E39 / #BMW-M5-Supercharged / #BMW-M5-Supercharged-E39 / #ESS-VT1 / #ESS / #Vortech-V3 / #Vortech / #Howerton / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-E39 / #BMW / #ESS-Tuning

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 / #S62 / #BMW-S62 , Supersprint four-into-one exhaust manifolds, #ESS-VT1-560 #ESS-Supercharger kit with #Vortech-V3 supercharger, #Howerton-Aquamist-HFS-3 system, Dinan performance velocity stacks, #Dinan high-flow performance exhaust, high capacity electric fan, oil separators. Six-speed manual gearbox, #CNS-Racing 10.5 Kevlar clutch and dualmass flywheel, Dinan short shifter kit, 3.62 LSD with three clutch ramps and polished ring and pinion gears

    CHASSIS 8.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #HRE-301 monoblock wheels with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Continental tyres, Dinan subframe reinforcement kit, Dinan front tower strut brace, Dinan camber plates and monoball front ball joint kit, #JRZ-Stage-3 suspension system from Dinan, #Beast-Power heavy-duty anti-roll bar brackets, #StopTech-ST60 BBK with six-piston calipers and 355x32mm discs (front) and ST40 BBK with four-piston calipers and 355x32mm discs (rear)

    EXTERIOR Tinted windows, Depo angel eye upgrade kit, front lower bumper grille with aluminium mesh brake ducts

    INTERIOR Black carbon fibre trim, aluminium pedal set, widescreen nav upgrade

    THANKS Autocoulture Motoring (Tom Limatola, Sal Benanti, Matt Petrie and team) for bringing it to the next level, Northeast Motorsports (Mike O’Neill and team) for all their expertise, Motorsports West (Dave Bogert and team) for being the source of my performance BMW “condition”

    Caramel Heritage leather adds a dash of luxury.

    Gorgeous #HRE-301 monoblocks and #StopTech #BBK all-round.
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    GRAND SLAM / #BMW-3-Series

    Good as the E30 #BMW-M3 / #BMW may be, there’s always room for improvement – like fitting air-ride, swapping in an S54 and strapping on a supercharger for good measure. If you like your E30s extremely fast, stunning, and seriously lairy, this Finnish fireball will set your world alight. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Jape Tiitinen.

    There’s a lot to be said for keeping things pure. We’re big fans of it here when it comes to cars, and we’re forever banging on about how you don’t need to do much to certain models, such as the E30, to end up with a fantastic-looking car. The past few issues have been home to prime examples of this super-clean, OE+ aesthetic. But, conversely, we’re also big fans of the utterly mental brigade who pull out all the stops and go well and truly bananas with their builds, sticking two fingers up at the purists in the process. We’re not the sort to judge, really. We’ve had a few of those, too. There was Nick Sahota’s S54-swapped orange M3 with air-ride back in 2014, Sam Le Fevre’s supercharged S54-powered RHD E30 M3 this year (you might see a pattern emerging here), and now we have Matti Jussila’s supercharged S54-swapped E30 M3 that’s also on air-ride for good measure. It’s like the ultimate combination of the two ultimate sins one can commit with an E30 M3: carrying out an engine swap and bagging it… and we love it.

    You’re welcome to confront truck-driver Matti about his exploits, although that would involve travelling to Finland and, if watching Ice Road Truckers has taught us anything it’s that people who drive trucks in cold places tend to be pretty tough. From what we can tell he has a beard. That’s enough for us. Of course, you should not be surprised to see another wild build emerging from the cold north of Scandinavia, it’s most definitely the done thing over there, and while this E30 might be tame in terms of power when compared to some of its modified brethren, it’s not tame in any other way.

    So, how does one get from some sort of starting point to building a car like this? Well, Matti has been into BMWs for a long time now, since before he got his licence in the early ’90s, and has indulged his passion to the max, starting his BMW journey with a 1987 E30 325i Sport which he owned from 1995 to 2000 and still regrets selling. But onwards and upwards and all that. With numerous BMWs following his first, including a supercharged air-ride E46 M3 Cab, it’s clear that Matti’s not new to all this modifying malarkey…

    So, to the E30 M3, which shares parking space with an E118, a 1.8 Neue Klasse from 1970 – strange bedfellows if ever we did see them. “I was looking for an original E30 M3 for a long time,” Matti says. “This one was just good enough and completely standard,” which is unsurprising because, you know, it’s an E30 M3 and who on earth modifies those…?! But it was also good because what you see before you is what Matti had planned out long before buying the car and, after two-and-a-half years of hard graft, he’s turned that vision into a reality.

    We’ll get onto the engine and all that in a minute but what we really need to talk about is how this car looks: it’s utterly gorgeous, all thanks to what has to be one of the most stunning colours we’ve seen in a long time. The car has been finished in Standox Red Rocket, part of the company’s Exclusive Line paint, which was launched on Wiesmann’s GT model and is an incredible shade. It’s predominantly a sort of rich ruby red with a hint of wine to it but the minute it catches the light all sorts of magic starts to happen and you get bright flashes of orange. It’s really hard to describe and utterly mesmerising. It’s rare that a paint job will leave you speechless but that’s most definitely the case here. It’s like a smack in the mouth but for your eyes instead and it draws you in, at which point you can then start appreciate the rest of the styling details.

    We also need to talk about the bonnet – at first glance you might think it’s matt black but get up close and you realise it’s furry! ‘Upholstered’ is how Matti describes it but whichever way you look at it, if you didn’t like the idea of someone modifying an E30 M3 you’re definitely not going to like the idea of someone putting an ‘upholstered’ bonnet on one!

    There’s far more here than just a stunning paint job and upholstery, though, and Matti has put plenty of work into getting the car’s styling just so, cherry picking some of the tastiest E30 M3 additions to give his example a bit more aggression. You’ll notice the Sport Evo front spoiler, arches and rear spoiler, along with shaved antennas, tinted front and rear lights and tinted windows. With the wheels, Matti has hit the size sweet spot, opting for staggered 17” three-piece Hartge Classics, measuring 9.5” wide at the front and 10” at the rear. With seriously shiny stepped-lips and dish to die for, plus light gold bolts offering just that little bit of contrast to the rich red paint, we think they are awesome.

    Seeing as Matti had already experienced the joys of air-ride once before, it’s perhaps no surprise to see him going back to bags for his ultimate E30 build, despite how many teeth that might put on edge. He turned to K-Sport’s E46 M3 offering which was modified to fit yet it clearly does its job well. The air-ride has been combined with some decently stretched tyres and the arches rest on the tyre sidewalls when the car is aired-out. Hovering like this, with the deep front spoiler sitting a fraction above the ground, we defy anyone to try and say it doesn’t look good. Compared with the attention-grabbing exterior, the interior is more restrained but definitely lets you know that this E30 means business. A pair of Recaro buckets have been fitted up front, while the dash, centre console and A-pillars have been flocked and a custom removable bolt-in roll-cage has been fitted in the back.

    And so, finally, we come to what’s going on under the bonnet. Clearly S54s and E30 M3s go together, seeing as everyone seems to be doing it. The combination of a powerful engine in an awesome chassis is a winner. You can’t really go wrong with an S54 when it comes to performance. And although Matti had already experienced the joys of a supercharged S54, he hadn’t experienced that level of power in such a lightweight car as the E30. It’s a whole different ball game and really takes things to the next level. The engine itself is running stock internals with new bearings, a modified E46 M3 rad and a modified oil pan has been fitted to clear the subframe and retain stock oil capacity. The supercharger is an intercooled Vortech V3 setup with a remapped and modified E46 M3 ECU running the show, while a Martelius Exhausts modified S54 exhaust manifold connects up to a custom stainless steel Martelius exhaust. The result is a rather serious 560hp and 406lb ft of torque at 0.7bar of boost. In a car as light as the E30 M3 that makes for an explosive driving experience, especially with all that power making its way to the road via a pair of 225/35 tyres. The drivetrain has obviously been thoroughly reworked in order to be able to cope with all that power, with a Getrag Type D six-speed gearbox from the E46 M3 being transplanted into the E30, along with an E46 M3 flywheel, Sachs race clutch and a modified E30 M3 propshaft. Matti’s M3 is a stunning car that wows and delights at every turn, impressing more and more the further you delve into its details and you can see that it’s been built with a money-no-object approach.


    Everything that Matti wanted to do, everything that he pictured in his mind before he’d even bought the car, has been done and his work is clearly appreciated by BMW fans, with the car winning best in show at the BMW Syndikat 2015 show in Germany, which sounds even more impressive when you learn that some 10,000 cars were in attendance. Matti has built himself a stand-out E30 M3, and then some. As Matti tells us before he speeds off: “ The only thing left to do now is drive it and look after it.”

    The combination of a powerful engine in an awesome chassis is a winner.

    DATA FILE Supercharged air-ride #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #BMW-M3-Supercharged-E30 / #BMW-E30-Supercharged /

    ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54 , stock internals, new bearings, modified oil pan, modified E46 M3 radiator, #Vortech-V3 / #Vortech intercooled supercharger kit, remapped and modified E46 M3 ECU, Martelius Exhausts modified S54 exhaust manifold and full custom stainless steel exhaust. 560hp @ 8100rpm, 406lb ft of torque at 0.7bar boost.

    TRANSMISSION #Getrag-Type-D / #Getrag six-speed manual from E46 M3, E46 M3 flywheel, #Sachs race clutch, modified E30 M3 propshaft, stock E30 differential, stock E30 driveshafts.

    CHASSIS 9.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #Hartge Classic three-piece wheels with gold bolts and 215/25 Hankook (front) and 225/35 #Falken (rear) tyres, K-Sport E46 airbag coilovers with slimmer rear bags, E30 stock suspension arms, Powerflex bushes, E30 M3 stock brakes.

    EXTERIOR Standox Red Rocket paint, E30 M3 Sport Evo front spoiler, front arches and rear spoiler, shaved antennas, upholstered black hood, tinted head- and tail-lights, tinted windows.

    INTERIOR Recaro front seats, custom-upholstered dashboard, centre console and A-pillar covers, custom removable bolt-in roll-cage behind front seats.

    Interior a lot more subtle than vibrant exterior with lots of nice touches like the sexy Recaros, flocked dash and bolt-in roll-cage.

    The arches rest on the tyre sidewalls when the car is aired-out.

    S54 fits neatly into the E30’s engine bay and has been bolstered with an intercooled Vortech supercharger setup for a healthy 560hp.
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