- Post is under moderationSUPERCHARGED 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.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSHOCK SEMA builds are never anything less than utterly spectacular and this LS-swapped E46 M3 with air-ride and a supercharger is no exception. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Brian McGee.
V8 E46 6.0-litre supercharged showstopper. #2017
SYSTEM SHOCK Wide-body, supercharged V8 E46
You know what the trouble with the #BMW scene right now is? Too many awesome cars, that’s what! Not a week goes by when we’re not being inundated with offers of amazing new builds. How can we possibly say no? You can’t have too much of a good thing, really. The only problem for us is that we’ve only got so many pages each month and that means we can only stuff so many cars into each issue, which is why we’re only just now getting round to showing you one of the most spectacular builds from the 2015 SEMA show. However, it’s lost none of its impact in that time…
The name Carl Taylor will be familiar to most people with a toe in the tuning scene because not only is he one of the founding fathers of the Players brand, back home in Huntington Beach he’s Air Lift’s regional sales manager for California and Nevada, so he’s got just a bit of experience when it comes to modded machinery… but not BMWs, funnily enough. “Having being involved in the VW/Audi scene for many years, I felt I needed a change. I bought my first BMW, an E36 325i, in 2014 when we had the two Rocket Bunny Art Cars made to drive to Wörthersee in. Within a year I went from having no BMWs to owning an E36 M3, an E46 M3 and an E92 M3.” It’s clear that Carl is not a man who does things by halves. This E46 M3 was bought with the specific intent of turning it into a SEMA booth car for Air Lift, purchased in Colorado with no engine and no front seats, making it ripe for both a new engine and a little bit of interior work; nothing fancy, you know…
“The only plan we had was that it had to be completed or at least look finished for the SEMA show in Las Vegas, which was five weeks away when we started the project,” Carl continues. There’s nothing like a tight deadline to focus the mind, although it also makes for a challenging build. “On paper it seemed really easy,” says Carl, “but actually carrying out the job and having everything working and finished within the deadline was not. Having to rush the build and being limited with knowledge and advice, maybe we did not go down the correct route with the build. This caused us issues with the car never running correctly in the time I had it,” he says, which is always a shame to hear because a large part of the pleasure gleaned from a project is being able to actually enjoy it, but it certainly takes nothing away from the end result. And as far as the aim of building an attention-grabbing machine for the Air Lift booth goes, it was mission accomplished and then some.
While Carl says that there was no outright plan as such, some things were a given: buying a car in the States with no engine automatically means V8 swap because, if the tales are to believed, LS V8s grow on trees out there. Being an Air Lift car meant that there was only ever going to be one choice of suspension, really. And with Carl having been involved with Rotiform over the years and running the company’s wheels on every single car he’s owned over the past five years also meant wheel choice was not a hard decision to make.
Engine first, and while deciding to fit a V8, deciding which one to fit is a little trickier because there are so many to choose from. Even if you narrow it down to arguably one of the best, the LS family from GM, you’ve still got an overwhelming array of choices as far as displacement and power output goes. With the E46 M3 making 343hp out-of-the-box you want something that’s going to be more powerful than that for starters. And that makes the all-alloy LS2 the perfect choice, as it develops a nice, round 400hp and 400lb ft of torque from its 6.0 litres of displacement. Now that’s great, but it’s not really revolutionary; people are swapping LS V8s into everything from lawn mowers to washing machines (that might not be strictly true) and while a V8 in an E46 M3 is cool, you need a little more, a little extra spice to really get people’s attention. How about a Vortech supercharger? Yeah, that’ll do it. With the blower strapped to that V8, power jumps to around 550hp while torque is pushed up to around 470lb ft. Impressive numbers and a seriously impressive sight when the bonnet’s off.
The engine bay isn’t the first thing you’re going to notice about this car, though. That honour goes to the luminous shade of green it’s been painted in, closely followed by the outrageously wide bodywork. As far as visual spectacle is concerned, this M3’s been turned all the way up to 11. “The car was built and painted by LTMW,” says Carl. “It also installed the Rocket Bunny Pandem kit.” Based on the success of Carl’s previous Rocket Bunny-based adventures it was the obvious choice for beefing-up the E46. The riveted-on front and rear arches add some serious muscle to proceedings, further aided by that hugely aggressive front spoiler, plus a CSL bootlid. We like how it looks although we recognize it won’t be for everyone, certainly, but it works for us and it definitely works on a build like this. Of course, a kit this wild deserves a suitably wild paint job and this E46 M3 doesn’t disappoint, with Carl opting for Lamborghini LP700 pearl green, Verde Ithaca, an absolutely spectacular shade that delivers a knockout blow.
As for the interior, remember the lack of front seats? Well, that problem was solved with the addition of a pair of customfinished Cobra Suzuka Pro single-piece buckets. They’re the perfect choice to go with the rest of this build, oh, and the Renown steering wheel, too.
On the chassis front, we already know that Air Lift and Rotiform were going to play a part in the construction of this E46 M3 but here, too, the boat was well and truly pushed out. This build was just crying out for Air Lift’s latest 3H air-ride kit, with ride height sensors and a fancy controller. And that’s exactly what it’s got, with the boot hosting a single air tank finished in the same shade of Verde Ithaca as the rest of the car. Naturally.
As far as the wheels are concerned, Rotiform offers a dazzling array of designs catering to all tastes but on a build like this vanilla simply wouldn’t do; something more exciting was needed. Enter the Rotiform HUR, a wheel really quite unlike anything else. It’s actually pointless even trying to describe how it looks. The best thing to do is to just look at them because then you can drink in all those delicious details and that incredible Double Dark Tint clear coat over fully polished finish before deciding which side of the fence you want to be on, because there’s no middle ground here. We’re going to say that, much like with the Rocket Bunny wide-body additions, we are on board with the wheels. They really work with this build whereas a more subtle wheel would be overwhelmed with everything else that’s going on. With an almost Lamborghini vibe they are a particularly good match for the paint.
The finishing touch? A set of Brembo front and rear BBKs, in yellow no less, because no show build is complete without a seriously beefy set of brakes and, sometimes, it’s better to clash than to match. The fronts use six-pot calipers wrapped around 380mm discs while at the back sit four-pot calipers accompanied by 345mm discs. They do a seriously impressive job of filling out both front and rear wheels.
“The car will actually have been sold by the time this is published, due to continuing issues with the wiring harness and some of the work that was rushed due to #SEMA deadlines. If money had been no object, I probably would have bought a proper car and not had all the stress and continued issues with this build in the first place,” Carl explains. He says this not with a grimace but with a smile, and that speaks volumes about this car. Most show builds are finished and sold on in the blink of an eye to make way for the next project. The fact that Carl has kept this car for almost a year and actually used it during that time makes us happy. For Carl, it’s time to move onto pastures and projects new and there are bound to be many of those, but we reckon this one won’t be forgotten about anytime soon.
Rocket Bunny Pandem kit won’t be to all tastes but delivers plenty of impact.
Interior has been kitted-out with Cobra Suzuka Pro buckets and Renown steering wheel while air tank in boot has been matched to the wild Lambo green bodywork.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Supercharged #LS2 V8 #BMW-E46 M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-V8 / #BMW-M3-LS2-E46 / #BMW-M3-V8-E46 / #BMW-M3-LS2-Supercharged / #BMW-M3-LS2-Supercharged-E46 / #BMW-E46-GM-V8 / #Rotiform / #LS2-Supercharged / #LS2-Supercharged-Vortech / #Vortech / #Vortech-supercharger
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 6.0-litre #V8 #GM-LS2 / , #Vortech-supercharger-kit , custom exhaust system, T56-six-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS 10x18” (front) and 11.5x18” (rear) #Rotiform-HUR wheels with Double Dark Tint clear coat over fully polished finish and 265/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance air-ride with #3H management, #Brembo #Brembo-BBK with six-pot calipers and 380mm discs (front) and four-pot calipers with 345mm discs (rear).
EXTERIOR Rocket Bunny Pandem wide-body kit, CSL bootlid, full respray in #Lamborghini-Aventador-LP700-Verde-Ithaca-pearl-green .
INTERIOR Custom Cobra Suzuka Pro buckets, Renown USA steering wheel, colour-coded air tank in boot.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSupercharged Z4 M Coupé / This supercharged Z4 M Coupé will blow you away!
Walk the line
Strapping a supercharged to the already potent Z4 M makes for an exceptional performance machine.
Words and photos Chris Nichols.
Tuning a car is often a fraught process. There’s the stress that comes from buying new products, not knowing if they’ll work until they’re on the car, despite your hours of research. There’s the possibility that the workshop you’ve chosen will do bad work or rip you off. And, of course, there’s the likelihood that fitting upgrades will simply expose weaknesses in other parts of the car you weren’t aware of, forcing you to spend money you hadn’t planned to.
Melbourne, Australia’s Kris Hooper knew about all those potential pitfalls when he chose his 2006 Z4 M Coupé. A tearaway in his younger days, he’d managed to destroy one car and blow two engines in another before getting a 1998 Subaru WRX sedan as his first proper performance car. However, his experience making mild mods to that, coupled with his otherwise methodical thought processes and focus on research, meant when he decided on something European to change things up, he wasn’t going to approach the project with anything other than highly considered plans to ensure he avoided many of those common tuning errors.
“Magazines and forums have taught me how easy it can be to perform a modification only to find you are not happy with the result, to not get enough bang-for-your-buck, or to find further down the track that it is incompatible with something else you have planned.” All this is why, before he even began, Kris had a pretty clear idea as to what he wanted and how to achieve it. The Z4 M base was already a great start – powerful, with great street handling and braking, and looks that Kris fell in love with well before the test-drive. But his desire for a true all-rounder that combined ability on the street with track prowess meant things had to be planned well in advance, particularly as, being such a rare car outside of America, parts were not exactly in huge supply. “Most of the parts I’ve used have come from the US,” Kris says, “simply because the number of E85 Z4s in the States makes production of go-faster bits viable.”
While in some respects, that lack of choice made things easy, Kris still needed to make the right decisions to achieve the goals he wanted, so on top of his research he talked to the guys at SouthernBM, a local and highly renowned specialist shop. The end result was a pretty tasty combination of American tuning parts, such as a 34-row Zionsville radiator, Vibra-Technics engine mounts, a StopTech Trophy BBK, Turner anti-roll bars, Hyperco Linear Race springs, Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts and adjustable rear control arms, and an APR Performance carbon GT wing. In fact, JRZ RS-1 dampers aside, the only brake and suspension parts Kris didn’t get from the US were the Vorschlag E46 M3 camber/caster plates and Carbone Lorraine R6E pads. Even inside, Kris relied on US know-how to help improve the already pleasant Z4 M cabin in the form of beautiful and custommade anti-slip pedals from Ultimate Pedals. To these he added a Recaro Pole Position bucket for himself and a ZHP-style weighted BMW gear knob.
Rather surprisingly, given the S54 engine is from the E46 M3, Kris had trouble finding options even here, specifically in the form of supercharger kits. At the time, only ESS kits were available, so to get the power he wanted Kris had no choice but to go with the company’s VT2-525 blower, intercooler and intake manifold kit. Currently it makes 403whp and 228lb ft of torque. Of course, ESS equipment is hardly second-best, and thanks to upgrading the included Setrab oil cooler for a bigger one, Kris reckons even now, with more options on the market, he wouldn’t change a thing.
Thankfully, Kris’s other engine tuning options were easier to come by. He decided on a beautiful Tekarbon carbon fibre engine cover to spruce up the bay, and a KSS Performance valve-controlled exhaust to allow him to stay street-legal and not annoy his neighbours on those early mornings when he heads to the track yet still enjoy the full metallic scream of the S54 when he gets there. And he’s there a lot.
In fact, thanks to holding onto his WRX for more practical driving, Kris can afford to use the Z4 as almost purely a toy. This freedom, combined with his desire to learn from instructors on a regular basis and to study his own on-board data stats, means he’s able to really enjoy the car at the Marque Sports Car Association (MSCA) sprint days he attends regularly. He actually won his class in both 2014 and 2015.
Not that it’s all been plain sailing on the way to the top. While Kris has generally been very careful to build the car in a holistic way, avoiding many of the pitfalls others fall into, there have been challenges and even a scary on-track moment coming from a rare lapse of judgement when it came to both on-track behaviour and the order in which he fitted his mods. In terms of the challenges, the biggest was getting rid of the stock suspension setup’s on-track understeer. “For a car that handled so well on the street, I wasn’t expecting so much understeer,” Kris says. “An additional strut brace didn’t help. Wider front tyres didn’t help. Additional front camber didn’t help much either. Nor did changing my driving style to add some extra trail braking. It wasn’t until I swapped the suspension to the current coilovers and anti-roll bars and was able to stiffen the rear relative to the front that I was able to get the car to rotate like it should.”
And that scary moment? That was the result of what turned out to be an unwise decision to head to Calder Park, a track with one of Australia’s longest straights, on stock brakes (albeit with nearly new pads) despite having fitted the supercharger kit. Now, in his defence, Kris says the brakes had been ordered at the same time but not arrived before the last-minute spot opened up. We’ll let him tell you what happened next: “Halfway through the day, the pedal was starting to feel a little sketchy, and I began a cool down lap so I could come in and inspect the pad material. Part way into that lap, though, a supercharged Honda Civic tore out of the pits ahead of me, and the red mist descended. About a minute later he was still in front as we hit the main straight. At the end of it, as we were both hitting 220km/h (135mph), some semblance of rational thought returned and I started braking slightly before my marker because of my earlier concerns. Too little, too late. Under my left foot I could feel little more than air. Brake pressure was non-existent.”
As he later learned after pumping a whole extinguisher into the front left caliper, the pad material had just crumbled away by that point, leading to piston seals melting and fluid spraying everywhere. Luckily he still managed to save it, steering the Z4 around the Civic and through the narrow gate at the end of the straight before spinning to slow down in the field beyond. Safe to say, the StopTechs went on straight afterwards!
One additional benefit of fitting the big brakes was that they necessitated a wheel change. Never a fan of the OEM design, Kris had previously chanced upon a forum member running Volk Racing G2s in the same matt black as his own Z4 and decided they were perfect. And, as luck would have it, a member of a different forum who lived locally was selling a set just when Kris needed them. “They must have been the only used set of wheels in the correct fitment available locally at the time, and possibly ever since,” he says. “I was so happy with them that when it came time to get a separate set of track wheels I went straight to Volk, who made me up a set of TE37SLs that, again, are exactly what I wanted.” It’s hard to argue with Kris’s choice, too.
Japanese wheels often look great on BMWs and this is no exception. The relatively rare G2 design’s sharp edges and rounded curves, especially, match perfectly with the E85 Z4 M Coupé’s similar mix of lines, keeping the car looking current and fresh, despite now being ten-years-old. And thanks to Kris’s focus on getting the handling, power and braking right, it’s now a car that doesn’t just look great but one he can enjoy driving for years to come (like his WRX, he has no plans to part with it though).
“The Z4 M, to me, represents a challenge, one that never gets old. There is such a fine line between getting it right and everything going to hell in a split-second. Sprinting along the right side of that line is one of my favourite things in the world.”
DATA FILE #Supercharged Z4 M Coupé / #ESS / #BMW / #BMW-Z4-M-Coupé / #BMW-Z4-M-Coupe-E86 / #BMW-Z4-M-E86 / #BMW-Z4-E86 / #BMW-E86 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW / #Rogue-Engineering / #Vortech / #Volk-Racing-G2 / #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54B32-Supercharged / #S54B32-TUNED
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six S54B32 , #ESS-VT2-525 supercharger kit ( #Vortech-V3Si supercharger, #ESS intercooler and intake manifold), #K&N air filter, #Zionsville aluminium radiator, #Vibra-Technics engine mounts, #Tekarbon carbon fibre engine cover, #Bosch-453cc injectors, #KKS-Performance valve-controlled exhaust with push-button controller, KKS-Performance 4x80mm exhaust tips, software reflash to remove speed limiter and raise rev limiter to 8200rpm, six-speed manual gearbox
CHASSIS 8.5x19” ET+35 (front) and 9.5x19” ET+22 (rear) #Volk-Racing G2 wheels with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Bridgestone Potenza tyres for the street, 8.5x18” ET+35 (front) and 9.5x18” ET+22 (rear) Volk Racing TE37SL wheels with 245/40 (front) and 275/40 (rear) Nitto NT-01 tyres for the track, JRZ RS-1 coilovers with Hyperco Linear Race springs (450lb front, 600lb rear), Turner Motorsport 30/25 E46 M3 anti-roll bars, stock front strut brace, Rogue Engineering adjustable rear control arms, Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts, Vorschlag E46 M3 camber/caster plates and perches, StopTech Trophy Sport BBK with six-pot calipers (front) and four-pot calipers (rear), 355x32mm two-piece slotted rotors allround and stainless braided lines, Carbone Lorraine R6E sintered endurance pads, Motul 600RBF fluid
EXTERIOR Carbon fibre centre grille (sourced by Turner Motorsport), APR Performance rear carbon GT wing, M Power windscreen decal
INTERIOR Recaro Pole Position race bucket (driver’s side only), Macht Schnell Competition Liteweight seat mounts, BMW ZHP-style weighted gear knob, LeatherZ leather door handle covers, custom billet Ultimate Pedals anti-slip racing pedalsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation
AMERICAN AT HEART
A supercharged #LS1 has created a monster of an E36. Whilst many E36 owners might dream of M3 straight-six or M5 V8 conversions, Ian Sutton has gone down a whole different route by fitting a supercharged LS1 V8… Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Gary Hawkins.
Engine options on the E36 from the factory were fairly plentiful – from the 102bhp 1.6-litre M40 to the 321bhp 3.2-litre S50 M3 Evo powerplant, BMW had it pretty well covered. But for some people – especially once you start talking modified car owners – too much is never enough, and we’re seeing E46 M3 straight-six, E39 M5 V8 and even some E60 M5 V10 conversions taking place more and more often. But while Bavarian horsepower is all well and good, why not think out of the box?
The General Motors LS-series of engines, or #Crate-V8 s as they’re often known, are a common choice for those wanting a simple, effective and proven way of reliable horsepower. There’s simply no denying it – there’s no replacement for displacement – and these engines are being seen fitted to all manner of cars, from Corvettes to Camaros, trucks to 4x4s, and (most importantly in this story) even the Holden Monaro, otherwise sold as the Vauxhall Monaro and Pontiac GTO. Far from the small block Chevrolet V8 many people seem to mix it up with, most LS engines have an all-aluminium construction, fuel injection, and are generally a far more modern proposal than you might think. And considering their displacement, they’re pretty compact units too.
Rewind just over five years, and you’d find BMW technician Ian Sutton thinking just the same – why doesn’t someone put the well-proven LS engine into an E36? He had the first part of the recipe, an E36 328i Sport, already, which he’d bought when he finished his apprenticeship at Coventry BMW and used for a couple of years before the Yank engine idea came up. Ian is also lucky enough to have a good friend who specialises in breaking the aforementioned Holden/Vauxhall Monaro, so you can see where the inspiration came from.
Ian’s engine of choice was the 5.7-litre LS1 from early Monaros, his in fact coming from the US-spec Pontiac GTO. And once it was in his hands it was time to get to work.
Not wanting to risk damaging his 328i in the process, he bought another one from work to use as a test shell for all the fabrication that would be involved. It was separated from its engine and the bay removed of all its clutter. Ian makes it sound so simple, but the next step was to hoist the GM V8 into the position he wanted it to sit and then fabricate mounts on the E36’s crossmember to suit – albeit after a bit of sump alteration to get it to fit behind the crossmember. At the same time it seemed the perfect opportunity to baffle it to avoid oil starvation during hard cornering. With the sump being off at that time, Ian decided to replace the standard con rod bolts with ARP items for added strength and durability.
With that done and the engine positioning perfected, the gearbox mounts could be fabricated, and stage one of the build was complete. Of course, the engine and gearbox weren’t hooked up to anything other than each other, but at least they were positioned in the car.
A full M3 Evo rear axle was to be used, so as with any engine transplant of this kind, a custom propshaft had to be manufactured first. Custom gear linkage was also created so that the gearstick could remain in the original position in the cockpit while governing the Tremec T56 six-speed gearbox from the Pontiac. Not content with leaving it standard though, Ian fitted a lightweight Spec aluminium flywheel, LS7 clutch, XRP braided clutch line and a GMM Ripshifter for faster revving and shifting.
Around the same time, Ian’s Monarobreaking friend was over in Australia and had got talking to Scotty at Capa Superchargers, which is well known Down Under for offering forced induction for many different cars, including the Holden Monaro. It didn’t take long for Ian to be convinced, and before he knew it, the Vortech-based ’charger kit was sitting on his doorstep.
Adding a whole new dimension to the build, it was soon discovered that the supercharger simply wasn’t going to fit the E36’s relatively narrow engine bay – not with the standard supercharger bracket anyway. With the help of good friend Gary, and with Ian having been part-trained as an engineer before becoming a mechanic, a plan was made, and the pair got straight on with measuring up the engine and bay (a painstaking process in itself, making sure all the pulleys lined up absolutely perfectly), then designing thier own bracketry for a variety of the components and having a local engineer construct it from billet aluminium. To keep the whole lot cool, Ian had Allisport fabricate the radiator, intercooler and oil cooler to his specifications, which all sit just behind the front bumper.
The exhaust was yet another challenge, as not only did it need to take the gases from the V8 as efficiently as possible, it was a pretty tight squeeze between the E36’s chassis legs, too. The only solution was to go custom, and Wye Valley Garage – where the project spent much of its time – was able to help. A fully TIG-welded stainless steel exhaust system from the manifolds to the tailpipes is the result of their hard work, and we have to say it looks absolutely perfect, and the silencers are repackable too. Finishing off the installation itself is an almost headache-inducingly well planned combination of parts. From the custom power steering fluid tank (with a #BMW cap mind you), to the E46 M3 header tank, OEM (but not necessarily 328i, in case you start thinking this is the easy bit) hoses that can be found all around the engine bay, to the XRP aeroquip fuel and oil lines used throughout, it doesn’t lack in attention to detail. Such was Ian’s quest to make it all look as factory as possible, he’s even used OEM BMW hose clips rather than Jubilees! When the time came to move the engine, gearbox, supercharger, exhaust, crossmember and gearbox mounts over to his prized E36 – he wasn’t going to do it by halves either.
They say a picture tells a thousand words, but let me tell you, even a thousand pictures couldn’t tell the story of just how immaculate this E36 is; Ian has rebuilt it bolt-for-bolt, using new components throughout, and powdercoating every part he could. You name it, it’s been uprated, replaced, or painted. The M3 Evo rear subframe and axle, M3 Evo front wishbones and hubs and brakes all-round, all new bushes, balljoints, links, Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, Eibach anti-roll bars… the list goes on. And it’s not just the underside that’s better than new, the bodywork is too, thanks to a bare metal respray. It really is astonishing, and it perhaps is only justified by seeing it in the metal.
Fuelling and management was dealt with surprisingly simply – being an engine so popular for transplants, especially over the Pond, management solutions are very well catered for. First, the ECU was sent over to Capa to be unlocked, having all of its security limitations taken off and being given a base map on HP Tuners software. To match the airflow that the supercharger was bringing to the table, a Walbro fuel pump rated to 255 litres per hour pushes the fuel through a Fuel Lab filter and adjustable fuel pressure regulator, before being flung into the engine by 42lb injectors. It’s certainly a promising sounding combination.
Rolling stock duties are put to #BBS LM replicas – Ian had originally wanted black centres with a polished lip, but there were differences between the 8.5”- and 9.5”-wide variants, so he went for all black rims with a subtle red line around the edges, and measuring 19” in diameter. The rest of the styling is a very much OEM affair, with a combination of M3 GT components, AC Schnitzer mirrors and subtle rebadging; the front and rear roundels having been swapped for carbon items, while the side rub strip badges – which Ian had custom-made by a local signwriter – now read supercharged.
One of the final steps was the interior, which Ian wanted kept as stock as possible. Again, nothing but the best would do, so perfect black leather and as little clue as possible as to what engine lies beneath. M3 gauges are cleverly hooked up to work with the new engine, made possible by the HP Tuners software, and to keep a really close eye on what’s going on underneath the bonnet, Ian’s installed a trio of Autometer gauges in the centre console, monitoring oil pressure, fuel pressure and boost. Not only are they installed neatly, but Ian took a long time researching to find a range of gauges that matched the factory orange lighting so as not to look out of place – his attention to detail really is mind-blowing.
The car made it’s debut at Santa Pod last year with great success, and on the strip it managed a 12.7 quarter-mile at 110mph – impressive, especially considering it was on a base map, and Ian was taking it easy. Of course he was keen to have it fully mapped to see what it could do, though, and John Sleath Racing was put in charge of the mapping, and the results were mightily impressive. A peak of 530.4bhp is only half the story – 550lb ft of torque is the kind of figure hardly any tuned BMW engine can boast, and especially not delivered in the same effortless way as the ’charged LS1, making it the ideal road car.
While the engine may not be a traditional choice for an E36, Ian’s more than proved it’s a good one. With power and torque in abundance, as well as an incredible V8 soundtrack, an overall feel of OEM quality (and then some!) and increased driveability and performance, he’s really shown that it doesn’t have to be a BMW engine to feel original. So the purists may hate it, but there’s no denying that it’s incredible. If for some reason BMW had made its own LS1- powered E36, I can’t help but think it would struggle to beat the perfection that Ian has struck upon. Thinking out of the box? Pah, he’s blown it to bits.
DATA FILE #Vortech / #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i / #BMW-328i-E36 / #BMW-328Ci / #BMW-328Ci-E36 / #BMW-E36-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-E36-V8 / #BMW-E36-LS1 / #BMW-E36-GM-LS1 / #GM / #BMW / #Tremec /
ENGINE: 5.7-litre #V8 #GM-LS1 / , #Vortech-V2 supercharger, #ARP con rod bolts, custom #ZF-PAS pump and mounting bracket, custom billet aluminium supercharger bracket and auto tensioner, custom baffled oil pan, #Earls-Performance oil thermostat, #Allisport custom front mount oil cooler, radiator, PAS tank with #BMW cap, front mount intercooler and pipework and oil catch tank, E46 M3 header tank, #Vortech-Maxiflow blow-off valve, 42lb injectors, #Walbro 255l/h fuel pump, #Fuel-Lab fuel filter and adjustable fuel pressure regulator, #XRP-Aeroquip fuel and oil lines, custom front cross member and engine mounts, custom fully TIG-welded exhaust including manifolds and repackable silencers, custom engine wiring harness, GM ECU with 2bar map and fully remappable HP Tuners software
TRANSMISSION: #Tremec-T56 six-speed gearbox, custom gearbox mounts, Spec lightweight aluminium flywheel, LS7 clutch, custom propshaft, #XRP clutch lines and remote bleeder, #GMM-Ripshifter with custom gear lever, full E36 M3 Evo rear axle
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) #BBS-LM replicas shod in 225/40 and 265/30 Falken FK452s respectively. Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, #Eibach anti-roll bars, M3 Evo front wishbones and hubs, AC Schnitzer carbon front strut brace, custom lower strut brace, Z3 M quick steering rack; full nut and bolt rebuild including all new bushes, balljoints and links with all new components powdercoated. E36 M3 Evo brakes all-round (315mm discs front, 312mm discs rear) with Performance Friction pads all-round and XRP braided lines
EXTERIOR: Full bare metal respray in original Arctic silver, face-lift nose cone, M3 Evo front splitter, M3 GT corner splitters and M3 bumper mesh, M3 GT two-piece rear spoiler, AC Schnitzer mirrors, carbon fibre front and rear roundels, supercharged badges in rubstrips
INTERIOR: OEM full black leather interior, #AC-Schnitzer short shift gear knob, E36 M3 clocks with oil temperature gauge, #Autometer boost, fuel pressure and oil pressure gauges, Alpine CDA 105 RI head unit
THANKS: www.wyevalleygarage.co.uk for the exhaust, fabrication, workspace and storage (01989 565001), www.lsxv8.co.uk for LS spares and conversions, Allisport (01452 751187), Scotty at Capa Superchargers (006 1885 823499), John Sleath Racing for the mapping (07976 751742), Nic J Racing (07970 192715), Gaz, Slim and Zip, Sytner BMW Birmingham Parts Department
Ian and the friends that have helped him make it look easy – modifying and baffling the sump and fabricating engine mounts, the exhaust and the supercharger bracket as well as many other parts. There’s also the tuning itself to consider, with the lightened flywheel and other uprated transmission components,
the supercharger and intercooler, and of course all the pipework and hoses, which all look OEM. A dimple had to be made in the inner wing to fit the ’charger too.
Combine that with practically rebuilding the entire car with everything renewed and powdercoated, and you can see what makes the car quite so amazing.
Other than the noise, the average passenger wouldn’t know the difference.
Unshakeable power – 5.7 supercharged American litres worth of it in fact – oof!
There’s simply no denying it – there’s no replacement for displacement.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGRAND 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.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationIncredible supercharged custom widebody air-ride E46 M3 / #BMW
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Boasting a custom wide-body kit, air-ride, supercharger and custom interior, we challenge you to find a more complete project car than this staggering E46 M3.
Exploding onto the scene and tearing through it with the ferocity of a supercharged tornado, this E46 M3 is a devastating lesson in the theory that more can most definitely be more. Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: Tony Lopez
When building a project car there are numerous approaches and end goals you can look to achieve: some people build out-and-out show cars; some people build ferocious fast road cars; some people go for an all-out audio build; and some go to town on styling. When Rick Fontan got to work on his E46 M3 he decided to do, well, everything. We feature a lot of amazing cars in Drive-My but it’s not that often that we come across a car that has been modified as absolutely as this, on every level, and this is one of those cars that, when we first saw it, genuinely took our breath away.
Of course, we’re sure that Rick will be the first person to admit that his car isn’t going to be met with universal appeal – it has been blowing minds like a brain bomb and collecting awards like some kind of giant award-collecting magnet since he rolled it out earlier in the year for the first time but there’s plenty here that will raise many an eyebrow. Those chopped front arches, for example, the highly unconventional bonnet setup, the fact that he’s blended so many different elements that in many ways conflict with each other and brought them together in one project. It’s definitely not a conventional build and by that very virtue he’s created something incredibly noticeable. Sometimes, when you come across a build that incorporates so many different elements, the end result can be a little jarring, with components that really don’t look like they belong together and it can be a little unpalatable – it’s the meat trifle from Friends, a lot of potentially delicious ingredients coming together to make something that’s hard to stomach but somehow Rick has made his vision work.
He’s plucked that vision from his brain and translated it into a tangible object that is coherent and, more than that, genuinely good. For all its wideness, angularity and sheer eyeball-punching impact, there is an inherent smoothness and oneness to this E46 M3. Everything flows together: the bodywork is wild but the Lamborghini Grigio silver paint is quite subtle; the wheels are large and multi-piece, yes, but sport a simple design; the purple highlights that appear throughout are just right in terms of colour and number to tie numerous elements together without overwhelming the car’s overall aesthetic and while the components might be unlikely bedfellows somehow everything just feels right together. A lot of thought and work has gone into this build and it shows.
So, just what kind of man builds this sort of car and why? “I have been into BMWs since I was about 19 years old. That’s when I first started getting into cars in general,” muses the now 33-year-old Rick. “BMW has always been respected in the show scene, on the street, and on the track. I think that’s what makes it so special. It covers all aspects of what a car should be and how it should be built. I had a Mitsubishi Eclipse for about four years before selling it to buy the M3. It was fully built by the time I sold it and I had won multiple awards with that build and even landed a magazine feature. I bought the M3 in 2006 from a dealership in Queens. It was a little beat up and had about 50,000 miles on it but that didn’t bother me at all because I already knew it was only a matter of time before I would start modifying it anyway. This was my dream car and as soon as I saw the opportunity to get one, I jumped on it. My inspiration came from Craig Liberman and his ‘uber’ M3; I was obsessed with that car and just knew I had to build one of my own and I had it all mapped out. I knew exactly what I wanted to do to it before I even knew purchasing one was an actual possibility.
“Going in I knew I wanted to build a show car. I had to make sure all areas of the car were addressed, especially the motor as it is the one area that everyone asks to see. I couldn’t have a built car without any engine modifications, that’s a no-go!
“My car had to be equally balanced. I made sure to modify the engine enough to be able to put it on a track as well as look amazing just sitting there on a showroom floor.” He’s certainly delivered on that front. The engine work isn’t insane but it’s nice to see a car built on this scale running something attainable under the engine bay – although that’s not to say this isn’t a seriously powerful and subsequently fast E46 M3.
There’s no missing that Vortech supercharger, painted in Candy purple, with a TurboSmart blow-off valve but you won’t be able to spot the uprated pulley and belt that help up the boost. There’s a Vibrant front mount intercooler with custom piping, Driven Innovations intake manifold and Agency Power stainless steel exhaust manifolds which lead to custom GTR-style side exit exhausts. Rick has paid a lot of attention to the fuelling, with Injector Dynamics ID725 fuel injectors and an upgraded fuel rail, while in the back you’ll find an ATL fuel cell, an amazing ATL dual dry break filler, plus a Bosch 044 fuel pump and Aeromotive fuel regulator. What’s most impressive, though, is not what’s in the engine bay but what isn’t, as the bay’s been shaved and a full wire tuck has been carried out. It looks spectacular for it; no wonder it’s Rick’s favourite mod on the entire car. “It takes the entire build of the car to the next level,” he says. “Plus, it’s very rare to see an M3 with this style of build and a shaved bay.” He’s not wrong. The super-clean bay draws your eye to engine and the ’charger and it makes the Candy purple highlights even more spectacular against the simple silver background.
With the Vortech blower and supporting mods, Rick’s M3 is putting out an impressive 450whp and that means some equally impressive drivetrain and chassis mods are required in order to be able to put that to good use. Originally this was an SMG car but Rick has swapped in a manual gearbox mated to an uprated UUC Stage 2 clutch and UUC flywheel to deal with the serious boost in power while a short-shifter takes a bit of travel out of the M3’s surprisingly long throw for quicker, sharper gear changes. For the brakes, Rick turned to StopTech, slapping on the company’s seriously powerful six-pot front kit with two-piece slotted discs which is matched to an ever-soslightly smaller four-pot setup at the rear, with tucked braided hoses all-round and purple calipers, naturally.
It won’t have escaped your attention that this car is on air and Rick’s reasoning is sound: “I went for this setup to have the best of both worlds. With suspension like this it allows me to drive the car daily, set the ride height lower if I were to track it, slam it down to the floor or even raise it high enough to drive onto a trailer.” His kit of choice is Air Lift’s excellent offering along with the equally excellent V2 controller. The suspension mods haven’t stopped there and this E46 M3 has also been treated to uprated front and rear anti-roll bars, carbon fibre lower control arms and a rear camber kit, plus the entire undercarriage has been Stoneguard powdercoated.
We mentioned the wheels earlier and that the simple design works really well against the riot of styling that’s going on at the same time. “I’ve always liked the mesh type of wheels,” says Rick, “but with this type of build I decided to go with five-spoke wheels. I feel it gives the car an aggressive look and displays my brake setup beautifully.” We agree – the spoke spacing on the three-piece 20” SSR Professor SP1 wheels that he’s opted for is massive, meaning everyone gets a great view of those huge brakes, and the 10” front and 12” rears mean serious dish.
As far as the exterior of this car is concerned, there’s no two ways about it: it’s utterly insane. It’s not going to appeal to everyone but there’s no denying how much work has gone into it and how spectacular the end result it. “The styling of this car has been through many different stages over the years,” Rick tells us. “There were many problems and challenges along the way because of all the different shops it went to, but about three years ago my car finally landed at AMS Autowerks where the final transformation took place. Even that was a challenge in itself. Diogo Acevedo, the owner, had to rip the car apart and basically start from scratch.”
A big job then, but that’s kind of stating the obvious. So what exactly have we got here? Well, for starters, there’s the custom wide-body kit with its extreme arches and those sections chopped from the rear of each one which really makes this car unique. Elsewhere there’s carbon fibre – lots and lots of carbon fibre – with a custom carbon front lip, Vorsteiner carbon boot and roof, carbon headlight overlays, and M front, side grilles and emblems for good measure. The fat exhausts poke out from the side skirts and have been fitted with custom heat shields to stop them from melting the kit and then there’s the bonnet, or rather the lack of it. Now, at first glance you might think that Rick has popped his bonnet off for the photos, as you often see guys doing, but look a little closer and you realise that, no, what you’re seeing is the bonnet in its entirety. Rick says it’s a custom 1/3 bonnet and closer inspection reveals that basically the front 1/3 of the bonnet has been retained and mounted as it normally would be while the rest of it has essentially been chopped off and possibly discarded in a hedge somewhere. It’s very different and pretty cool for its double-take factor.
Moving inside there’s barely time to take a breather as the car continues to assault your senses. “The interior needed to look as clean as the rest of the car and to continue the exterior theme as well,” says Rick. This meant stripping stuff out and painting a whole bunch of things Candy purple. The whole interior has been trimmed in suede with purple stitching and up front Rick has plumped for a pair of Recaro Profi XL seats along with Schroth Profi 5 harnesses and a Vertex steering wheel mounted on a Momo hub. There’s carbon trim galore, along with a carbon gear knob and a custom dash housing an AIM stack cluster, boost gauge and ATL fuel gauge, plus a custom carbon bezel for the Alpine touchscreen head unit. The digital controller for the air suspension has been mounted in the driver’s air vent – a neat touch. The rear seats are gone and in their place sits a custom roll-cage, finished in Candy purple, a purple air tank and the Focal four-channel and mono amps for the seriously impressive audio setup. The front doors house the Focal K2 Power three-way speakers while the boot area is home to a pair of custom-mounted 10” Focal Utopia Be subs, which share the space with that incredible fuel setup.
So, there we have it. If you’ve ever wondered what you could achieve with your car given nine years and a truck-load of cash, hard work and determination, wonder no more because you’re looking at it. It’s not just the overall end result that’s mind-blowing, because it is, but it’s the attention to detail that’s gone into it, the thought, the creativity. Every aspect of the car makes you stop, look, look again and marvel. Do you love it? Do you love all of it? Maybe, maybe not, but we can guarantee it’s getting a reaction from you.
And that’s what this car does best: get people’s attention. “After three years of completely rebuilding the car it was debuted in August of 2015 at the Tuner Evolution car show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The crowd’s reaction was priceless as show-goers looked at it in amazement. The judges felt the same way as it was awarded ‘Best of Show’. Later that month I showed it at Wekfest East in Edison, New Jersey and also took ‘Best of Show’,” Rick says beaming like a proud father seeing his child winning a trophy at sports day. This isn’t just a car, it’s an extension of Rick, the physical manifestation of his vision and it’s the kind of car, the kind of complete car that you know was not a casual build. If you haven’t guessed, we kind of love it, it’s an absolutely awesome car on every level and proves that more is most definitely more.
Rear seats long-gone and in their place is a custom Candy purple roll-cage, air tank and two amps.
“I made sure to modify the engine enough to be able to put it on a track as well as look amazing just sitting there on a showroom floor”
“The interior needed to look as clean as the rest of the car and to continue the exterior theme as well”
DATA FILE Supercharged #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-E46-Supercharged / #BMW-M3-Supercharged
ENGINE 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 , #Vortech-supercharger / #Vortech , upgraded belt and pulley, oil cooler, Vibrant front mount intercooler with custom piping, #Vibrant hoses, Agency Power stainless steel exhaust manifolds, #Injector-dynamics-ID725 fuel injectors, upgraded fuel rail, Driven Innovations intake manifold, #TurboSmart blowoff valve, Custom GTR-style side mounted exhausts, #ATL fuel cell, ATL dual dry break filler, #Bosch-044 fuel pump, #Aeromotive fuel regulator, reinforced sheet metal trunk, all braided stainless steel lines, Candy purple painted accents, shaved engine bay, full wire tuck. Est. 450whp.
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual transmission swap, upgraded clutch, short-shift, #UUC Stage 2 clutch, UUC flywheel, Chase Bays brake booster eliminator.
CHASSIS 10x20” (front) and 12x20” (rear) SSR #Professor SP1 three-piece wheels with 255/30 (front) and 305/25 (rear) Toyo Proxes T1-R tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance air suspension, uprated anti-roll bars (front and rear), carbon fibre lower control arms, rear camber kit, Stoneguard powdercoated entire undercarriage, #StopTech ST-60 #BBK with slotted discs (front) and ST-40 BBK with slotted discs (rear) with purple callipers (front and rear), braided stainless steel brake lines, brake line tuck.
EXTERIOR Custom-built wide-body kit, custom 1/3 mini bonnet, Vorsteiner carbon fibre boot, carbon fibre front lip, custom splitter, #Vorsteiner carbon fibre roof, carbon fibre headlight overlays, carbon fibre M front and side grilles, carbon fibre emblems, custom heat shield for exhaust, Lamborghini Grigio silver paint.
INTERIOR #Recaro-Profi-XL bucket seats, Schroth Profi 5 harnesses, custom roll-cage in Candy purple, full suede interior with purple stitching, #Vertex steering wheel, #Momo hub, M Tech pedals, carbon fibre gear knob, custom dashboard, AIM stack cluster, boost gauge, ATL fuel gauge, custommounted V2 controller, custom carbon fibre bezel, interior LED lighting, rear seat delete.
AUDIO #Alpine LCD touchscreen head unit, #Focal-K2 Power threeway speakers, #Focal-FPS3000 mono amplifier, #Focal-FPS4160 four-channel amplifier, #Dynamat sound dampening, #Focal crossovers, 2 #Focal-Utopia Be 10” subs.
THANKS I would like to give a special thanks to my parents because without them none of this would’ve been possible. Their continued support throughout the years is what allowed me to pursue this passion and push me to complete this build. I want to thank all my family and friends that helped me along the way. To my girl for all her patience and support and being part of this with me, AMS Autowerks in Linden, NJ, Audio Clinic in Belleville, NJ, Branch Brook Auto Top in Newark, NJ, and, of course, to #Drive-My for allowing me to grace the cover of your magazine and show the car to the world.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSUPERCHARGED #BMW-X5-Dinan-E53 / #BMW-X5-E53 / #BMW-E53 / #BMW-X5 / #BMW / #BMW-X5-E53 / #BMW-X5-4.6iS / #BMW-X5-4.6iS-E53 / #BMW-X5-4.6iS-Dinan / #BMW-X5-4.6iS-Dinan-E53
Panzer Division A heavily tuned, supercharged X5 by Dinan that’s more than just a little bit tank-like. Panzer Division Affectionately known by owner Jay Belknap as the Panzer German tank, this X5 happens to be packing some heavy artillery thanks to a Dinan supercharger conversion… Words: Dan Wagener /// Photography: Dan Wagener & Ryan Lee
Traditional love stories typically begin with ‘once upon a time’ and end with ‘and they lived happily ever after’. Most people would hope that held true for every relationship, but through past experience we all know it to be an unrealistic expectation. Some relationships can start out as planned, but take a turn for the worst. Others may start out rough, but were all worth it in the end. For Jay Belknap and his #2003 X5 it was the latter.
Ever since Jay had a daily driver it’s been some sort of truck/utility vehicle. It was something cheap and paid off which allowed him to sink money into his 1994 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4. But once he was satisfied with how the VR4 turned out, he figured he’d get the truck he had always wanted – a supercharged Range Rover Sport. So he went on the forums and asked the owners how they liked them and whilst half said they were awesome, the other half didn’t know because they were always back at the dealers. He then started researching the runnerup, the E53 X5 (keep in mind this is before the X5M had made its debut) and found that the 4.6iS could be supercharged through #Dinan for a modest cost so he decided to look for a clean example finished in black. Months of searching showed no luck and he eventually gave up.
Then one day, about half a year later he randomly browsed for X5s on the market and found a oneowner 4.6iS with 85k on the clock for sale in Texas. It just so conveniently happened to be finished in black Sapphire, was supercharged and came with Brembo brakes together with an E46 M3 steering wheel already installed. Sceptical that it had to be some sort of scam, additional photos proved it was, in fact, the real deal, so he took a flight out to Houston a few days later with a cheque in hand.
As he walked out of Houston International the black X5 whistled down the arrival ramp. It was freshly detailed and ready for him to take on a road trip back to Virginia Beach. He got in, exchanged pleasantries, got the paperwork done and proceeded to drop the previous owner off at his work. But as soon as they left the airport the check engine light came on! The previous owner said he had a guy who was an old BMW master that did all the previous work and that he would have it fixed, right then. So they headed over to the shop and found a boost leak from a clamp that wasn’t tightened down all the way. Already four hours behind schedule, Jay was ready to head home. When he finally got on to the I-10 East, he punched it and the supercharged #M62B46 / #M62 responded as you would expect. Jay was instantly hooked, forgetting that his previous Range Rover Sport even existed.
After about an hour into Louisiana though, the supercharger belt decided it was no longer going to be friends with the engine. It took out every other belt and the A/C tensioner on its way out, too. Jay shut the truck down and got a tow back west to Texas. That tow truck broke down so another tow truck took him the remainder of the distance West on the I-10 to a hotel in Beaumont, Texas, two blocks away from Beaumont BMW. He figured he’d be the first one into BMW the next day, get it fixed and be on his way.
Well, he was the first one on to the lot, but the secretary arrived and informed him that their service shop is closed on Saturdays. She invited him inside to call yet another tow truck, to get him further west to Momentum BMW in Houston. It was at that time the service manager, who was coming in to do his end of- month reports, had overheard Jay’s situation and started calling his techs. One was awake and said he’d be right in. They got him back on the road with just a new main belt (no A/C belt/tensioner or S/C belt). The previous owner called back and paid BMW for the work. Jay thanked him and said if anything else happened on the way home that he’d take care of it from there (nothing more did happen though). He later found out that the blower bracket tensioner needed an alignment.
Needless to say it was not a desirable first 24 hours of ownership. On a good note though, Jay later established a relationship with Dinan’s aftersales support team. They got him set up with the parts needed to fix the tensioner rod and belt. Like any machine, it simply needed maintenance.
Now, to the untrained eye, Jay’s X5 may appear as if it came this way from the factory, but the finer details tell all about this rare beast. If you’re not familiar with the 4.6iS model, it had a very short 2002-2003 production run. #BMW had injected the standard X5 model with steroids metaphorically speaking, just like they do with the M models. These factory enhancements included larger fenders flares, massive 20-inch wheels, larger/louder exhausts, a unique variant of the #5HP24 #ZF5HP24 / #ZF5HP / #ZF transmission, aggressive camshaft profiles, the high flow intake manifold from the older M62 cars, bored, stroked and compressed to a 10.5:1 ratio producing 342hp and 354lb ft of torque. What makes Jay’s X5 even more rare is that it’s 1 of 27 #Dinan supercharged X5s in the world. The Dinan Signature 3 package consists of a #Vortech V-2 S-Trim Supercharger running 5.5psi, a new #MAF and throttle body, a #DME and EGS flash, larger #Delphi 37lb injectors, and an E39 M5 fuel pump.
One common goal of any true performanceoriented enthusiast is to put as much tyre on the road as possible. With that in mind, together with the weight of the vehicle and the additional power, Jay sourced another pair of 10.5x20-inch OEM Style 87 rear wheels to replace the narrower 9.5-inch wide fronts. A set of four Bridgestone Dueller HP Sport 315/35/20 tyres were then fitted all-round and the improvement in grip from the 315 section tyres up front was like night and day. Behind the concave design Style 87 wheels sits giant eight-piston #Brembo callipers fitted with 380mm/15-inch discs at the front and 355mm/14-inch at the rear to help bring the X5’s larger rolling mass to a halt on demand, without a hint of fade.
To accommodate the lower offset wheels, Jay also added the #BMW-X5-Le-Mans-edition wider front arches and the rear wheels were spaced out 25mm with #H&R spacers to help balance the front-to-rear track width. A Dinan strut bar and camber plates were also added to include some extra bracing for the twisties.
At around 107,000 miles the supercharger’s high speed bearings on the impeller shaft got a little noisy, so with help from friend and mentor, Tony Acker, they sent the blower off to Vortech, and performed the M62 timing guide and valley pan job at the same time. Vortech returned the supercharger with a newer Si-Trim impeller, which meant even more mid-range power than before.
During the summer of 2011 Jay decided it was too hot and had lost trust in his OEM water temp gauge. He also wanted to be able to read and clear codes on the fly so he removed the cluster, fixed the infamous pixel problem whilst there and integrated a PLX Devices DM-100 into the cluster. In addition to the OBD date, the DM-100 was installed with PLX Boost, EGT, dual-WBO2 and oil pressure modules. Other installed electronics include a Tekonsha P3 trailer brake controller, and a hardwired K40 Dual front/rear RADAR detector and front LASER jamming system.
With the engine refresh and monitoring equipment fitted, everything was working tiptop. Then, one day as he came up a steep on-ramp that had a sharp crest to it, the X5 got airborne for a split second. Unluckily for Jay, he was at the top of the engine’s 6600rpm range when it happened. Inertia took over and all the exhaust valves were damaged, bad enough to notice under load and to make matters worse, the intake cam gears spun about the cams. With Tony’s help, they did compression, piston height, and leakdown tests before removing the heads and sending them off to VAC Motorsport for a Stage 1 upgrade, including stainless steel intake valves and fancy Inconel exhaust valves. Whilst it was there, Jay happened to come across a rare 4.6iS Tubi Rumore cat-back exhaust system. As Tubi is mostly known for making exhausts for exotic cars Jay was surprised to discover that they even made one for the X5! After installing the original heads, now blessed by VAC, a huge improvement in power and efficiency was found. The result is a power figure of around 475hp, although Jay has never taken it to the drag strip, he’d like to think it’s possible to break 12 seconds in the quarter-mile. Not bad for a ten-year-old German tank, which is the reasoning behind the name ‘Panzer’.
Today, Jay’s 4.6iS S3 has 135k miles on it, and has been supercharged for 133k of those miles. He would like to thank Dinan Engineering for its outstanding aftersales customer support and would also like to send a huge thanks to Tony Acker for his knowledge and time spent keeping this X5 running so strong. Stronger, in fact, than the day he first got it, many years and many miles ago. So does a bad start have to equal a bad finish to a relationship? In this case, most definitely not.
Below: Massive Brembo brake conversion features eight-pot callipers and huge 380mm/15-inch brake discs so it stops as well as it goes.
Jay’s X5 may appear as if it came this way from the factory, but the finer details tell all to this rare beast.
Dinan supercharger conversion is rare but was fitted on the car when it had covered just 2000 miles from new. It’s since covered another 133,000 miles!
The supercharged M62B46 responded as you would expect and Jay was instantly hooked.
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- Post is under moderationNEW-MATIC #BMW
Supercharged, bagged and running crazy-wide 18s, this Stateside E46 M3 Convertible really stands out from the crowd. There aren’t too many M3s that can claim to use simple pressurised air to create a completely new standard in E46s – meet Keith Landucci’s supercharged, aired-out convertible. Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Chris Umali.
Belly scraping ride height, fag paper fitment, 493hp at the wheels… oh, and a drop top for the summer. The M3 has always been an everyday supercar slayer; a car that can be as comfortable driving to the shops as it is tailgating Ferraris at the Nürburgring or settling into a 160mph cruise along the autobahn, but Keith Landucci’s E46 is taking things to a new level.
The 27-year-old New Yorker has owned this particular example for just over two years now, during which time it’s undergone quite a transformation: “I purchased the #M3 from Craigslist from a guy upstate,” Keith told us. “It’s been a car I’ve wanted since I was 16 – I’ve just always had a thing for M3s. It was completely stock bar a set of 20” Vossens.” Keith spends his days spannering for Lexus, but in the evenings and at weekends his services go out to all of the stance family in New York – fender rolling, coilover fitting and just about everything associated are what Keith really enjoys, and so it was obvious where his car was headed.
“My work is all about dropping cars and rolling fenders to get that ideal fitment so my first big modification for the car was a set of Broadway Static coilovers with custom spring rates – it got the car sitting very nicely but just wasn’t ideal for New York roads and I always wanted more power out of the car. After getting over ‘static life’ I went for bags to achieve the perfect fitment and a supercharger to gain some more power.”
Not one to do things by halves, Keith purchased a Bag Riders V2 air setup and took the M3 down to renowned fabricator on the VW scene, ‘Swoops’. As a specialist in hardline setups and many other forms of fabrication, the E46 benefited from a full hardline setup with a simple but perfectly executed boot build, housing a large colourcoded tank and twin #VIAIR compressors, along with a pair of Kenwood subs. “I just wanted it simple and clean,” commented Keith. “I did the air install, Swoops did the hardlines in the trunk and made the mounting board for it all.”
With the suspension all dialled in to perfection and at this time riding on #BBS RSs, Keith could get that added performance hit that he had been after all along. Within a month of the suspension being changed to use pressurised air, the engine was modified to do the same with an ESS supercharger to force-feed it boosted air. The kit that he went for was the 550hp rated version which uses the tried and tested Vortech V3Si compressor along with the usual host of ESS goodies; larger injectors, a reconfigured breather system, CNC brackets and pulleys, a cast aluminium intake manifold and a chunky air-to-air intercooler. As well as all of this it comes with the necessary flash loader to put ESS’s own map on to the M3’s #MSS54 ECU.
With Keith’s spannering skills, he soon had the kit fitted, and chose the transformation as a great opportunity to rework the exhaust system, too. US-spec E46 M3s came fitted with power-starving exhaust manifolds which housed catalytic converters, dropping them 10hp in the book figures and not doing any favours to the driving experience. These were first to go, and Keith fitted AP tubular headers in their place, with a Supersprint centre section bolted to the back of them. The final component was a Top Speed back box to seriously let the S54 scream; the noise really is quite something.
“When I drove it after fitting everything there was a huge difference!” Keith grinned. “I had the car dyno’d shortly afterwards and it made 493 wheel horsepower and 326lb ft of torque.” For the initiated among you, let me save you breaking out the calculator – that’s approximately 570hp at the flywheel – impressive stuff for a supercharger kit that is rated at 550hp with Euro manifolds.
The final step with Keith’s build was to get the bodywork looking flawless. His M3 was originally Alpine white and though he wanted to keep it white in colour, he had a bit of a twist in mind. “I’ve always been a fan of white, but I wanted something brighter that just popped,” he told us. “A shop around me called Impressive took on the work.”
Keith’s wish list was lengthy, and included some challenging touches. First up, the front bumper was to be replaced with a Vorsteiner CSL version, with the CSL’s distinctive intake hole blanked out and the tow hook cover smoothed over, too. The rear end had already benefitted from a CSL diffuser, but this was to be smoothed into the bumper. Finally, the rubstrips were to be removed and smoothed and the Vorsteiner CSL bootlid was to receive a once-over too. And the colour? He went for Lamborghini Bianco white, which as you can see really does pop as he’d hoped.
As you can imagine, with Keith being a such a stance king, he’s a bit of a wheel whore too. The M3 has had countless sets of rollers, including the aforemention BBSs along with Work VSS splits, Work Equips, CCW Classics, square 19” OEM wheels – you name it, Keith’s had it under his arches. His latest setup, however, smashes everything else out of the water. What you’re looking at are VIP Modular VXS610s, measuring a frankly ridiculous 11x18” up front and 12x18” at the rear, with offsets in the single figures. As you can no doubt imagine, squeezing these under even the M3’s bulbous arches was quite a task, but all part of the plan – Keith’s running some pretty serious stretch along with around six degrees of negative camber up front and a ridiculous nine degrees at the rear. It’s all part of the game, and the final result is something that understandably leaves plenty of jaws dropping almost as low as the car itself.
Keith’s M3 may not be for everyone, but there’s no denying that he has covered plenty of the bases with his build. It has the looks to die for without sacrificing quite all of the practicalities, he’s got plenty of comfort and it also has the performance to kill just about any competition he comes across on the tough streets of NYC.
That sounds pretty good to us but Keith, as ever, is far from done. “For next season I’m doing cams, redoing the interior with a roll-cage and of course, more wheels!” he grinned. This is one M3 project to keep your eye on…
DATA FILE #BMW-E46 #BMW-M3 #BMW-M3-E46 #BMW-M3-Cabrio #BMW-M3-Cabrio-E46
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54 / #S54B32 , ESS VT550 supercharger kit (consisting of #Vortech V3 Si-trim supercharger, front mount intercooler, cast aluminium intake manifold, high capacity bypass valve system, mandrel bent tubing, self tensioning belt system, #CNC brackets & pulleys, oil breather system, silicone hoses, #ESS fuel pressure system, Bosch injectors, #K&N air filter, ESS software with removed top speed limiter), AP cat-less headers, Supersprint midpipes, Top Speed back box, six-speed manual.
CHASSIS: 11x18” ET8 (front) and 12x18” (rear) ET6 VIP Modular VXS610 wheels with in 235/35 (front) Falken and 285/30 (rear) Nankang tyres respectively. Bag Riders V2 air suspension with custom system and hardlines. CSL front brake setup using 345mm discs, standard rear brakes.
EXTERIOR: Full respray in Lamborghini Bianco white, #Vorsteiner CSL front bumper with blanked/smoothed air intake and tow hook cover, one-piece carbon fibre CSL splitter, #Vorsteiner-CSL bootlid, smoothed-in CSL diffuser, shaved door mouldings, shaved tow hook covers, colour-matched hardtop, blacked out headlights with LED angel eyes.
INTERIOR: OE tan leather interior, Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel, carbon fibre and chrome handbrake handle, AEM boost and AFR gauges, custom boot build housing air components and twin Kenwood 12” subwoofers.
THANKS: All of my customers for their support in choosing to come to me to get their work done. Without them I’d be broke and wouldn’t be able to have the build at the level I have it at.
Stunning VIP Modular 18s measure an outrageous 11” wide up front and 12” at the rear.
Boot build has been beautifully executed, with hardlines and colour-coded tank, plus twin 12” #Kenwood subs.
Interior is home to fetching tan leather and a number of Alcantara and carbon goodies.
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- Post is under moderationChris Naguit is a man who likes to elevate his game with every new project he takes on, and there’s no better challenge than basing your entire build around the marmite of all BMW interior colours: cinnamon. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Peter Wu.
Chris Naguit is well-known on the West Coast #BMW tuning scene for being the founder and owner of MFest and MFestForum. com. However, he’s equally wellknown for his somewhat controversial colour combinations (his yellow G-Power E60 M5 springs to mind!) and designs that are not for the faint of heart. Aside from the wide-body styling, however, this car breaks the mould somewhat in that Chris decided to keep the somewhat mundane Carbon black hue so that he could take on the challenge of trying to tie a Cinnamon colour interior into the theme of the project.
If you’re from California – or an avid reader of Performance BMW – Chris Naguit will no doubt be a familiar name to you. You may have read about his Imola red supercharged E39 M5 in our June 2011 issue. If not, let’s introduce you. Chris has always loved cars and as he grew older he became fascinated with how manufacturers designed their cars. This naturally led him down the path of wanting to personalise his own. Once he finished college and joined the world of work he was able to save up and, little by little, modify his first car: an #E36 #M3 nonetheless!
It wasn’t long before he was hooked. He started venturing onto forums, then attending car shows. That was just the very beginning however. In 2008 he decided to launch his own show, MFest, which has quickly grown to become a key event – not just for M enthusiasts but for people that appreciate the ultimate in performance, quality and style from other high-end European car brands. Seven years on and Chris now hosts up to 30 events a year (including track days and dealer tours) not just in the US but in Europe and Asia, too.
“I think it was the passion of those enthusiasts I spoke to online in the early days and shared ideas with that really got me interested. That, and the feeling you get after you’ve completed your first project. The excitement of seeing your design come to life is a damn good one. Whether people like it or not, it’s a fantastic way of being able to express your ideas and make a statement that anything is possible,” explains the Santa Monica resident. With a few M cars already under his belt, Chris still hadn’t taken on an E46 M3 – in his eyes a classic model that will go down as one of the best BMWs ever built. The car came from a fellow MFest member so it was in pristine condition and the first objective for Chris was to see what improvements could be made under the bonnet. And what better environment to test the car than the race track?
Although the engine proved mechanically strong Chris thought it was slightly lacking in power. Little wonder when you’re used to building 500hp plus projects! With a #Vortech V3-Si Trim supercharger and Macht Schnell Performance Headers, which act as a direct replacement for the restrictive OEM items, together with a Supersprint X-Pipe and full exhaust system, Chris now has 575hp to play with.
To haul all that new power in, Chris has swapped out the original brakes – known for being bad – for the #Brembo GT kit. With six-piston (front) and four-piston (rear) calipers clamped to 355x32mm and 345x28mm two-piece slotted discs respectively, it’s fair to say he now has greater stopping performance, and more confidence to drive the car hard.
This car isn’t just about substance, though, it’s also got a hell of a lot style. Outside, the original rear aches have been reworked in sheet metal and are now 2” wider either side yet work in perfect harmony with the original lines of the body. The rear bumper – from Seibon (together with the front bumper and carbon fibre bonnet) – now flaunts vents. It looks clean but aggressive at the same time, especially combined with that hunkered down posture (courtesy of a custom coilover kit) and the air-to-water charge cooler system peering through the black mesh up front. The end result is perhaps something more akin to how the #E46 M3 should have looked!
Tying together the outside of the car to the interior – the most crucial part of this project – are the wheels. Measuring 9” in width at the front and a respectable 12.5” outback, Chris asked HRE to custom finish his 19” 893R wheels with titanium bolts, gunmetal centres, brushed bronze barrel and a copper lip – colour-matched to the interior’s Cinnamon leather, of course.
Shod in 245/35 and 295/30 Toyo T1S respectively they tuck into those pronounced arches perfectly. Inside, the original leather is obviously the star of the show but some of the ‘soft furnishings’ have been upgraded to include a suede headliner and pillars, together with MFest floor mats and racing pedals to give it a more premium feel.
Although the entire project took just two months to do, it hasn’t come without its problems, but Chris likes to take a philosophical approach to these things, as he explains: “You will always encounter negatives, especially on a project of this scale, but you will always get past the growing pains. It’s the rewards at the end which make me smile every time, because my ideas have materialised to become a reality. I guess I always anticipate problems and that way I can work through them.” The car made its debut at MFest The SuperShow and people – albeit surprised by the subtle colour scheme – loved the styling and the way the lip of the wheels matched with the colour of the interior. “I’m not precious about my car and I invite people to drive it to see how it feels. As a result of that a few of my friends have gone onto buy E46 M3s themselves. It’s easy to see why; it is such a complete car and one that you can enjoy whether on the street or track,” he explained.
And what can we expect next? “We’ll, I’ve just finished designing a few cars actually, including an #M4 that I hope to bring out soon. Whatever I do, whether that’s putting on events or building cars, I want to push the boundaries each year. I never stop learning and the passion never leaves me either. It’s what keeps me excited but I always keep in mind ‘the four Fs’: Form Follows Function and, most importantly, Fun,” Chris laughs. We couldn’t agree more.
DATA FILE #BMW-M3-E46 #BMW-E46
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 , #VF-Engineering Stage 2 supercharger kit, Macht Schnell exhaust manifolds, AFE intake, ECU remap, Supersprint X-Pipe and full exhaust system, UUC short-shift kit.
CHASSIS: 9x19” (front) and 12.5x19” (rear) HRE 893R wheels with titanium bolts, gunmetal centres, brushed bronze barrels and copper lips (colour-coded to match the interior) with 245/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Toyo T1 tyres. MFest custom coilover kit, UUC polyurethane bushings, Eibach anti-roll bars and camber arms, and Dinan strut brace. Brembo GT brake kit, including six-piston calipers with 355x32mm two-piece slotted discs (front) and four-piston calipers with 345x28mm two-piece slotted discs (rear).
EXTERIOR: Seibon front and rear bumper and carbon fibre bonnet, rear arches widened by 2” with custom vents in rear bumper, Huper Optik 50% ceramic film by STM, MFest custom roundels and black kidney grille, OE Carbon black paint.
INTERIOR: OE Cinnamon leather, headliner and pillars trimmed in black suede, custom half roll-cage, MFest floor mats and racing pedals, JL Audio speakers all-round.
THANKS: Moe at THE SHOP for the custom wide-body kit, MFest members Mert Contapay and Richard Cheng for fitting all of the chassis upgrades, Hann from STM, Mark Osoteo, Seibon Carbon, my MFest family for always supporting our builds and our sponsors for always trusting us and giving us the creative freedom to do such unique builds, Kim and my family for always being there for me.
Cinnamon interior inspired the wheel colour and various details around the car and certainly adds some colour.
VF-Engineering Stage 2 supercharger kit looks menacing under the bonnet and whips up a mighty 575hp storm.
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- Post is under moderationThe Charge of the Light Brigade #E46 M3 CSL. Simpson Motorsport are arguably the UK masters of supercharging BMW’s lightweight #M3 CSL. When 500+bhp wasn’t enough, Simpson created its first 700bhp monster.
There’s a whole world of difference between building a powerful road car and an all-out, high-power track machine,” points out Anthony Mott of Simpson Motorsport. His quiet and modest character belies the incredible amount of development time, engineering and experience that’s gone into creating this car. “With track cars you don’t have to worry about manners, rock solid suspension, unforgiving clutch and drivetrain and an engine built to only really excel at one thing.” What Anthony won’t say, but we will, is building a truly fast road car involves more skills than most tuners have, and proving the results on the dyno is another thing altogether.
The Simpson team has both covered in abundance and it’s because they build all manner of incredible race cars that they know what it takes to build something powerful, yet refined for the road. You’ll recognise the car from our August 2007 issue, belonging to Manchester father and son team: Stephen Hulme Snr and Jnr. Last summer, when we first brought you the car, it had just undergone an ESS supercharger conversion, resulting in a true dyno-proven output of around 510bhp. What we didn’t tell you was, even back then, the Hulmes only saw that stage of tuning as step one, and even back then had eyes on the big power leagues, as Stephen Jnr explains: “We had about a year of using that power and very quickly became used to it. It’s a true testament to both the quality and development of the kit, along with Simpson Motorsport’s experience that it was so usable. We had uprated the suspension and the brakes (check out those huge AP stoppers) and the whole package was just so capable. It flatters the driver and gives the confidence to go very, very fast.” When you say fast, everyone has their own definition. But to put it into perspective Stephen told us: “My dad took a friend of ours for a quick spin. The guy is an adrenalin junkie: he jumps off anything and everything for a rush. He loves a bit of danger. Yet after only two corners in the CSL, he grabbed my dad’s leg and pleaded with him to stop!” Most #BMW fans would be chuffed to have the ability to scare passengers, but not Stephen Snr. He wanted more and Julian Simpson-Smith and Anthony Mott, who run Simpson, were soon about to be busy doing what they do best: bespoke engineering. Anthony explains: “We’ve done a few supercharger conversions and now we swear by the quality, back-up and performance of the ESS kits. We work so closely with the guys, we’re on the phone to each other every day.”
The Stephens had found inspiration in a race car developed by ESS in Sweden, running 640bhp, as Jnr explains: “That car had been built to set the new standard at the Nürburgring and clocked it at an incredible 7m22sec, and that was in traffic! To put that into perspective, the Zonda F was six seconds slower…”
But the biggest challenge for the Simpson team was to create more power than the Swedish car, but in a road car with number plates and something that looked, sounded and drove like a factory BMW should. Road manners and reliability was paramount, after all, plenty of people claim to be able to build a fast car but it’s likely to need a pit crew and a monthly rebuild.
So where do you start? Well, by pulling the engine out and putting it to one side, according to Anthony. “The CSL engine was very healthy and low mileage, so we pulled it out and put it in a crate. It was too good to use as a ‘development’ engine and we wanted to give the guys the ability to put the car back to standard if they wanted to. With the engine out, we called upon local BMW breakers, FAB Direct. Those guys always have good stock of used BMW spares and they had a low mileage E46 M3 engine on the shelf. That would be the start of our mission to get 700bhp,” smiles Anthony. He made it very clear from the start, this was never going to be an open cheque book car and in fact, he went to great lengths to tell us that it could have been all too easy to build a no-limits engine on a crazy budget.
But this is the real world and what Simpson has done is build an engine for a sensible sum and only engineered the engine and car to a level that’s needed. Anthony said: “The less we do, the less there is to replace if the development engine should encounter a problem. Customers need to get the best performance but not pay a fortune.”
As we tell you in our tuning guides each month, you must start with a healthy engine and the first job in the Simpson workshop was to strip the engine and ensure everything was as it should be and within acceptable tolerances. At this point many less reputable tuners could have built in a huge amount of over-engineered strength to protect their reputation. But as Anthony told us: “We wanted to try tuning for big power in development stages and see what happens.” The work started with a honing of the cylinder bores. This is a simple process that effectively takes the tiniest skim of metal from the cylinder bore walls just to ensure they’re perfectly true. The surface is barely touched but it removes any glazing from piston rings and keys the surface if it’s become polished from piston strokes. A polished surface isn’t the best for oil to cling to, so this surface reconditioning is essential. With that sorted, a set of coated motorsport crank bearings were used along with what Simpson call secret spec development con rods. Bolted to these were forged low compression pistons, for safety and to handle the higher loads about to be placed on the engine. Previously, the car was running around 8psi of boost pressure, which is fine on a standard compression engine. But, any higher, as Simpson was planning, and a lowering of the compression ratio is essential to prevent catastrophic detonation. After an uprated head gasket, the head was bolted down and even the variable valve control VANOS system was retained. Larger fuel injectors were used on a new fuel system. Anthony told us: “We’re now essentially running two fuel systems acting as one. There is two of everything: dual fuel pumps in the tank, two fuel lines and filters and they meet at the fuel rail that’s fed pressure from each end. When you are running big injectors a fuel rail can run dry at the end farthest from the fuel inlet and when you’re running big boost, a leaning off in fuel supply can kill an engine in seconds.”
Next up was the source of the extra boost: the incredible Vortech T Trim supercharger, capable of around 700-800bhp. The unit uses bigger compressor housing and gearing for big power applications. Simpson has fitted a different front pulley on the engine crank to get the ’charger to run at the correct ratio, proportional to engine speed. Traditionally the Vortech runs quite a small pulley and so to get enough belt wrap around the pulley (so it doesn’t slip under the heavy load of compressing air,) the larger size was needed. As you can see from our photos, the machined alloy mounting hardware Simpson has done inhouse is the stuff of engineering wet dreams. Not surprising from a company with it’s own engineering department.
The compressed air from the supercharger runs into the existing bespoke water-cooled manifold Simpson had developed for the CSL in stage one and it keeps the air tracts short and neat. Longer airways only attract heat soak from the surrounding engine temperature, creating power-sapping warm air. This manifold was created in-house by Simpson and while it looks incredible, Anthony openly admits it’s not cost effective for most customers as it’s all hand-built from scratch. The beauty of this CSL is in its innocent appearance and that’s not changed since last time. With the bonnet dropped, the only clues to its supercar-killing performance are the Supersprint exhaust pipes (on a system that still runs cats!), that even keeps the MoT man happy.
The biggest job of the build was to come though, and that was from Anthony on the dyno as he tells us: “We spent days and weeks mapping the ECU. It’s way more powerful than most factory management systems and even compared to the best aftermarket systems, it’s so impressive. We worked very closely with ESS throughout the mapping process.”
When such a huge amount of inlet pressure is being rammed into the engine, mapping is so much more complicated than just winding the fuel and ignition timing to suit, as Anthony explains: “Imagine if you run a 3.0-litre normally aspirated engine at atmospheric pressure (i.e the air around us), it will make a standard power figure. If we force a bar of boost into that engine with a supercharger, we’re effectively expecting the engine to take in double the air, develop double the power and use twice the fuel and ignition. Now that’s only adding one atmosphere (which equates to 14.7psi). While Anthony won’t let slip the final boost pressure, he did tell us the Vortech supercharger is running flat out! “We started by running the car on a base map,” said Anthony. “That gave us basic figures to get started with. From there we add fuel and ignition proportionally to the boost pressure produced until we get close to what we need for a perfect combustion mixture. But you have to remember we’re dealing with VANOS here so that needs to be accounted for too.”
In a normally aspirated engine, the VANOS system alters the valve timing in the head to give a smooth and instant power delivery at any revs by adjusting how long for, and how high, the valves open, all controlled by the ECU. You get a phenomenon called overlap which means as the piston’s going back down on it’s last stroke of the cycle, it is creating suction that pulls in more oxygen ready for the next upwards compression stroke.
“When we force the oxygen into the engine with a supercharger, that effect isn’t needed so we alter the #VANOS to almost work the other way and make the most of the compressed oxygen from the blower,” explains Anthony.
Stephen chips in: “The car must have done hundreds of miles in dyno time to get it right and it has all been worthwhile. We’ve not done many road miles yet but the way the car runs is just like a factory car. It starts on the button, idles impeccably and you’d never know until you put your foot down. I reckon the traction control isn’t going to know what’s hit it on damp days!”
On a normal day, as we finished our time with what has to be headline news for any E46 fan, we’d have normally strapped ourselves in for the drive of our lives. But the typical British weather put pay to that plan. Running the factory Michelin Pilot semi-cut 265 section rubber, the damp roads would be useless to show what the car’s like. Hiding my disappointment I had to settle for asking Anthony what the road testing revealed about his creation. The grin said it all: “It’s a million miles from the ‘normal’ 500-550bhp conversion; the difference is incomprehensible. Have I driven anything quicker? Yeah sure, but only our stripped out, race-prepared Ferrari F40 with 680bhp and that weighs 400kilos less than this CSL. What we’ve created is something as fast as the F40, that pulls all the way to the redline in top (well over 200mph) so quickly you won’t believe it, yet can be driven by the missus to shops.”
Simpson’s modesty prevails again as I ask one last question: “Is this the most powerful #CSL or #M3 in the UK?” Anthony looks at Stephen and they both smile. I change tack and try asking instead: “Is there anything that can touch this?” The guys are still smiling as Anthony simply says: “There may be people who are claiming they have the fastest in the country. We don’t claim anything, the dyno figures do that for us…”
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre straight-six engine, forged low compression pistons, development con rods, coated motorsport bottom-end bearings, uprated head gasket, large high-flow fuel injectors, dual fuel system from tank to fuel rail, remapped ECU by Simpson/ESS, #Vortech T Trim supercharger with custom compressor housing with larger crank pulley, custom high capacity LiquaFlowwater-cooled inlet manifold cooled by external radiator, CNC machined supercharger mounting hardware, Supersprint lightweight race exhaust utilising two 100-cell race cats, standard six-speed #SMG gearbox with UUC lightweight flywheel and Sachs uprated clutch, SMG II computer upgrade.
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) M3 CSL alloys with 235/35 and 265/30 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres, Intrax 1k2 coilover suspension (lowers – 25mm front and – 30mm rear), Turner Motorsport bush limiting kit with #Simpson-Motorsport front and rear arm bushes, carbon strut brace, AP Racing 356x32mm discs with six-piston calipers (front) and 328x20mm rear discs and four-piston calipers (rear), Pagid RS29 pads and stainless braided brake lines.
THANKS: Simpson Motorsport (01594 841299 / simpsonmotorsport. Co .uk).
FAB Direct BMW used parts (01594 827333 / fabdirect. com). ESS Tuning (esstuning. com)
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