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    Razzle Dazzle Wild, wide-body, air-ride E36 M3. Beneath the jarring geometric shapes and black-and-white lines, there’s a pretty astonishing M3 hiding in here. And the deeper you dig into its story, the more mystery and intrigue you unearth… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Brian McGee.

    The Zebra M3’. That’s a name a lot of people seem to throw at this car. But have you ever seen a zebra with stripes like this? That’d be one funky-looking equid. No, the style you’re seeing here is a retro mind-melter known as ‘dazzle camouflage’. We know what you’re thinking – camouflage is meant to blend you into the background, right? Like the traditional greens and browns of army gear, or the beige tones used for desert combat. But what can possibly be so jagged in black-and-white that you could morph with its style like this? Some sort of explosion in a print factory? No, the idea here is not simply to hide, but to hide in plain sight; to confuse and distort. Dazzle camo first appeared on ships in World War I, its deliberately interruptive patterns intended not to conceal the vessels, but to make it impossible to judge how big they were, how fast they were going, and how far away they were. And that’s why the offbeat camo works so well today on a wide-body Pandem E36 M3, and makes those three questions are easy to answer. How big is it? Very, thanks to those Rocket Bunny extensions. How fast is it going? Again, very – it’s an M3. How far away is it? Sweetheart, it’s totally in your face.

    The act of being totally in your face is all in a day’s work for Carl Taylor, of course. He, as some of you will be aware, is the driving force behind the Players shows as well as a marketing superhero for Air Lift, and what he doesn’t know about badass show-stopping rides could be comfortably felt-tipped on the back of a postage stamp. The germ of the idea that led to this car in fact appeared back before Wörthersee 2014, when Carl and Rotiform’s Brian Henderson built a pair of E36 Art Cars with Rocket Bunny kits; a 323i and a 325i. “I loved driving that car, and I decided I needed to build another one once I moved to the States… but this time with more power,” he recalls. “So I bought an M3. I found it locally after I moved to California – it was in pretty good condition, the paint was sunburnt but that didn’t matter as I was planning to wrap it anyway,” he says.

    Now, you don’t get to be the figurehead of an industry powerhouse like Players without having a few ideas buzzing around the ol’ brainbox – here’s a man who, after all, can count around fifty cars in his personal history with every single one of them being modified in some way or another – so of course he had a plan for the car. Its fate was written in the stars before he’d even hauled it back to his sun-drenched new home. “I’d broken up the Wörthersee car and saved some parts from that,” he explains. And before the scene knew just what had hit it, Carl was delivering a sucker punch at SEMA 2014 with a fresh, super-wide new build. It wore a minty green Tic-Tac race livery, chosen to emulate the Team Valier E30 M3 that used to race in the DTM, but caricaturised to be broader, fatter, meaner, scarier. The E36’s stock arches were unceremoniously savaged to allow the fitment of a full Sarto Racing kit, with non-M bumpers swapped on to flow more cleanly with the new lines. A set of colossal Rotiform ROCs filled the arches, resplendent in satin gold, and – inevitably, given Carl’s line of work – a top-of-the-range Air Lift setup found its way in. It had a full-on race car look inside; Cobra bucket seats, a rollcage, not a lot else. The effect was pleasingly startling, Carl’s decades-old coupé with its relatively short (but nevertheless superbly well-chosen) spec list more than holding its own against the show’s multi-million dollar builds. What’s key with projects like this, you see, is being relatable as well as aspirational. When you make something as awesome as the Tic-Tac E36, you can shift a lot of wheels, and air-ride kits, and seats, and bodykits, and… well, you know how the game’s played.

    The game, naturally, never stops. Not for a second. So it was imperative for Carl to shake up the formula right away; the car would be returning to SEMA the following year, and it had to be rocking some significant changes. You can’t stand up on a Broadway stage and sing the same song twice. The next thing we knew, the broadhipped M3 was wearing a fresh Art Carinspired wrap, emulating that Wörthersee road trip that kicked the whole process off, along with a Rocket Bunny Pandem kit, a jarring set of Rotiform USF wheels (a sort of double-three-spoke affair, very retro JDM) and a raft of detail changes. The scene was set for the car to once again break necks and steal hearts at the world’s largest aftermarket tuning show.

    Except that, as is his wont, Carl changed his mind at the eleventh hour. “Six weeks before SEMA 2015, I decided to change it a bit,” he says, dabbling masterfully in understatement. Indeed, you’ve probably spotted the car’s not dolled up like an oldschool Art Car in these photographs; no, we’re back at the dazzle camouflage motif we opened with. And there’s also a V2 Pandem kit thrown into the mix. This isn’t so much hiding in plain sight as just running up to people in the street and smacking them across the chops with an embroidered leather glove. If you want a fight, sure, this angry M3 is definitely spoiling for a rumble. “Being a sales manager for Air Lift Performance, I had to equip the car with the latest 3H system with Performance struts,” Carl reasons, “and we had Because Bags create a custom rollcage install for it too.”

    This really is a sight to behold, the way the tanks and hardlines caress the cage like one of those terrifying metal spiders in The Matrix. It’s details like this that steal the SEMA headlines. “I only ever run Rotiform too,” he grins. “The design was left down to Brian Henderson, however I did choose the Corky Pink finish myself to add some colour to the car.” Yep, you certainly can’t argue with the logic of that. Those flashy fourspokes do stand out, don’t they?

    “We’d just decided that we really needed to make a change if we were going to return to SEMA with the same car,” Carl shrugs. “We had the race car interior theme reworked with some custom Cobra Suzuka Pro seats, and the wheels came out perfectly, the finish is amazing – I think they’re my favourite part of the car. The rebuild took Vaderwerks around two weeks to finish up, with the kit install and then wrapping it and setting the air up with the new wheels. Everything worked out perfect.”


    Now, it’s probably time to address the elephant in the room. SEMA 2015 was a little while ago… so why are we featuring the car now, in 2017? Well, this ‘zebra’ evolution was only one step of many along this everevolving car’s path. Things have happened between then and now. Important things. “The car was sold before we were even back from SEMA,” Carl admits. “Someone heard about the project and made an offer, so it was time for something else. I regret selling this car, to be honest, as after all the work it looked the best ever.”

    But he needn’t be sad, as the car’s latest curator isn’t one to rest on his laurels or let the grass grow. Dylan Coleman is the name to watch – you may know him as @hawaiianeze on Instagram – and he’s a man with more than a few plans. Dylan’s set up a pretty astonishing business in Hollywood, you see: he and his father, Lee, are the brains behind StreetFighter LA, and they’ve been working with the fabled Long Tran at LTMW to kick out some pretty mould-breaking builds. “I was looking for another project to start after we parted with our #ProjectHulk Liberty Walk Challenger,” he explains. “I’d come from a BMW background, and the E36 M3 has always been one of my favourite models. While looking around for potential cars, our friends at Rotiform Wheels contacted us and just so happened to know someone who was looking to sell…”

    Yes, Sherlock, that person was Carl. So Dylan was cruising around LA in one of the world’s best-known BMW builds. That must have felt pretty good? “Well, yes and no,” he says. “We brought the car back to Los Angeles after SEMA, where I started to use it as a daily driver while we were finishing up some other projects. But although the car was a great build that caught the attention of everyone on the road, I never truly felt the connection like I did with my past projects; with high mileage and a stock engine it was time to look to start rebuilding or swapping the engine…”

    But that, friends, is another story for another day. You’ll just have to keep an eye on your favourite BMW modifying magazine for the next chapter. For now, however, let’s leave Dylan basking in the glory of Carl’s achievements, sprinkling on some of his own unique blend of magic, and formulating his plan of attack to take this iconic build to the next level. Hiding in plain sight? Boy, it sure is dazzling.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Wide-body #Air-ride #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E36 / #Rotiform / #Air-Lift-Performance / #Air-Lift / #BMW / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body-E36 / #BMW-E36-Wide-Body / #BMW-E36-Art-Car / #BMW-Art-Car / #BMW

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION Stock #S52B32 / #S52 / #BMW-S52 3.2-litre straight six, full #Magnaflow stainless steel exhaust system, #K&N induction. Five-speed manual gearbox, welded diff

    CHASSIS 17” #Rotiform-RBQ wheels in Corky Pink with 235/45 (front) and 255/40 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, full #Air-Lift-Performance-3H airride System

    EXTERIOR #Rocke-Bunny-Pandem-V2 wide-body kit with #Downstar fixings, custom-designed 3M wrap by JD Wraps installed by #Vaderwerks , #AC-Schnitzer mirrors

    INTERIOR #Renown steering wheel, custom Cobr a Suzuka Pro seats, #Wiechers roll cage, custom Because Bags roll cage-mounted #Air-Lift install

    THANKS Gino the Master Sepe at Vaderwerks, Brian, Jason and the Rotiform team, Mark and Adam at Cobra Seats, James and Ken at Because Bags, Corey and all my Air Lift Colleagues, Russ and Erik at JD Wraps, Paul Kitch at 3M, Stan at Toyo Tires, 714 Tires, LTMW, Magnaflow, and Renown

    “I had to equip the car with the latest 3H system with Performance struts”

    “The wheels came out perfectly, the finish is amazing - I think they’re my favourite part of the car”
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    CUSTOM 2002 Metal wide-body with a 2.7 swap.

    Bought in a state far beyond saving, the only way this #BMW-2002 could survive was to be transformed into something completely different.

    SHOW, NO SHINE Custom, wide-body 2.7 2002 / Words: Elizabeth de Latour / Photos: Matt Richardson

    It feels like we maybe we should be apologising, again, because for the second month running we’re featuring a 2002 that a lot of people are going to find upsetting. But we won’t be, because we like it too much to care what anyone else thinks. It’s unapologetically a personal project, built solely for the pleasure of its owner, Josh Parker, to hone his skills and then show them off. From top to bottom, inside and out, everything you see before you has been crafted by Josh’s own two hands, with a bit of help from dad along the way, which makes this already spectacular 2002 even more so.

    Josh has always been into cars, he tells us, and it all began at the tender age of 12 when he was given a petrol-powered R/C car and building that set him on path he walks today. After passing his test he was chomping at the bit to get modding on something, though insurance restrictions meant he had to make do with an R56 MINI JCW, spiced up with some coilovers and other bits until he could make his dream of doing a full build come true. The fact that he had no mechanical or motorsport experience was not going to stop him and there was no practice run or warm up before getting this car, he went straight from 0-2002.

    “I bought the car in Thame just over three years ago,” explains Josh, “and it was awful,” he adds, laughing. “It had been off the road since 1989 and was in terrible condition, completely rusty, but because of that I only paid £1200 for it. It took two years to put it together, though in its first form it had a different engine, Golf arches and different wheels. Starting out, I knew nothing about welding or anything like that,” he says, “so the first step was getting it on the road and then, having developed my skills, I knew I could do everything better the second time around so 18 months ago it went through a big change,” and the result of that is what you’re looking at here. “The fact that I wanted to do everything on the car myself was a big influence on how the car has come out, “ he explains, “as I went my own way with it. I spent a year making the chassis strong and replacing stuff. The car was a blank canvas, it was so bad I couldn’t make it any worse,” he laughs. “The whole car looked like Swiss cheese, but at least I got to practice welding. The whole project has been hard, though, it’s taken a long time as I was starting from nothing. I spent a lot of time doing individual things, weeks at a time, and sometimes I needed to take a break, step away, but I never gave up.

    “My decision to change how the car looked came about when I realised that too many people were doing Golf arches, it wasn’t low enough and that I didn’t like the wheels. I decided to pick the wheels I wanted and then built the new, custom arches around them and doing that meant I could go for a really aggressive offset. I chose a set of 7Twenty Style44s in bronze, 9x15” ET0 all-round with 215/50 tyres; I didn’t want too much stretch but needed a bit to get the wheels to tuck under the arches.” The resulting fitment is absolutely perfect, but even with that zero offset Josh is still running 20mm spacers up front and 10mm at the rear, taking the final offset well into the negative. The wheels themselves are certainly handsome, single-piece items with stepped lips and plenty of dish, while the matt bronze finish looks great against the car’s patchwork quilt bodywork.

    Where Josh felt the car wasn’t low enough before there’s no such concern now, with Gaz coilovers delivering a serious drop, but that wasn’t enough for him… “I’ve raised the front and rear strut towers by 40mm to lower it even further,” he grins and the end result is spectacular, the tyres disappearing up into those magnificent arches and the 2002’s belly sitting a hair’s breadth above the ground. The arches themselves are custom metal items measuring a monstrous 60mm wider per side up front and 50mm per side at the rear, giving this 2002 a stance far beyond its diminutive dimensions.

    The brakes have also been comprehensively upgraded, with four-pot Wilwood calipers mounted on custom carriers up front with 260mm drilled and vented discs along with E21 323i hubs, while at the rear you’ll find Mk3 Golf rear calipers matched to Mk1 Golf front discs while Hel braided brake lines have been fitted throughout. You might think that all that brake work seems like overkill for a 2002 but you see it isn’t, because there’s something a bit special going on under the bonnet.

    “I always knew I was going to do an engine swap,” Josh tells us, and what he’s done is taken a low-revving, M20B27 eta engine from BMW’s 325e and 525e models, designed for efficiency, and comprehensively reworked it to better suit his performance-driven needs. Sitting on custom engine mounts, the once-docile 2.7 has been transformed with a 325i top end, M21 forged crank, forged, reground stage one cam, Alpina B3 2.7 chip, a honed intake manifold, 185cc injectors and Magnecor ignition leads. He’s also fitted an M50B25 radiator and added a custom six-branch exhaust manifold that connects up to a custom 2.5” exhaust with twin pipes. It’s an impressive list of mods and it makes for some impressive numbers, with the 2.7 now pushing out 240hp thanks to Josh’s handiwork, which makes this 2002 a real road rocket. Naturally the transmission required a bit of work to make sure it was up to the task of dealing with the 2.7’s grunt and Josh was more than happy to get his hands dirty. “The gearbox itself is a Getrag 260 Sport five-speed on custom mounts with a stage one clutch and I’ve also fitted a 3.64 small case LSD from an E21 with custom-drilled output flanges.”

    The exterior might, at first glance, appear to be a mess to some but there’s a lot more going on here than first meets the eye. The arches steal the show but there’s also a custom front lip and a custom drag spoiler, custom bash bars and a back-dated rear panel that allowed Josh to fit the arguably much cooler round rear lights. One of our favourite parts of the exterior work, though, is the quick-release front clip, that allows for the entire front end to be removed in a matter of minutes. While it’s designed to allow easy access to the engine for mods and maintenance, seeing a car driving around with no front end is pretty cool. With a race car-inspired exterior you’d expect the theme to carry on inside the car, and you’re not going to be disappointed here. “This car was originally a Lux model,” explains Josh, “so it had a nice, powder blue interior though when I bought the car it was smelly and had started to rot, but I always knew that I was going to strip the interior, I just wanted to have the bare essentials to have the car running,” and he’s certainly stuck to that philosophy. About the only part of the interior that is still recognisable is the ’02 dashboard and instrument cluster but beyond that it’s all change. There’s a big convex Longacre rear-view mirror, single Cobra Sebring Pro seat with a TRS four-point harness, a Momo Model 69 suede steering wheel and a custom switch panel, custom pedal box and there’s also a hydraulic handbrake and a custom dual fulcrum short shifter. “I wanted to feel like I was in a Touring car,” explains Josh, “so I wanted the wheel high and close and a tall gearlever close to the wheel. The cage is actually a historic-spec one for the ’02 that I bought and then modified to make it stronger,” explains Josh. “It just bolts in but I want to make a new cage for it, eight-to-ten point, fully welded-in, which is one of my next big plans.” Meanwhile, in the boot you’ll find a 30-litre aluminium fuel tank with a surge tank, which is fed by one of the two Bosch 044 fuel pumps, the other feeding the engine.

    As much work as has gone into this car over the past three years, it’s only the beginning of what is going to be a much longer journey and Josh’s plans for the car are numerous and substantial. “I want to do a front-mid-engine conversion,” he says matter-of-factly, “I’ve come this far so I might as well keep going,” he laughs, but that’s just scratching the surface. “I’m currently working on a secret E30 project and that’s going to pave the way for the 2002. I want to make the car more useable and more reliable, but no less crazy,” he grins. “I want to iron out the bugs, modernise the underpinnings to make it more enjoyable; for example, currently if I’m taking it to a show and it’s too far, I will trailer it, which takes away from the experience and I want to be able to drive it everywhere.” All this work isn’t just for Josh’s amusement, though, it’s for the benefit of his company, Under Development Motorsport, and some of what he’s made will be for sale there, like his short shift kit. “It’s billet and should fit everything from E21s to E9x models,” he says.

    This 2002 is really an automotive expression of sheer joy and you can feel how much love and enthusiasm Josh has for this car when you talk to him about it. “It’s great to drive something that gets so much attention and that you genuinely built yourself, it’s just a great feeling,” he says with a smile. We can’t wait to see where he takes the ’02 and judging by what he’s achieved here so far, that E30 is going to be something really special too…

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Wide-body 2.7 #BMW-2002 / #Alpina-B3 / #Alpina / #BMW-2002-Wide-body / #BMW-2002-Alpina / #BMW-2002-Alpina-2.7 / #7Twenty / #BMW-2002-E10 / #BMW-E10 / #BMW / #BMW-2002-Alpina-E10

    ENGINE 2.7-litre straight-six #M20B27 eta / #BMW-M20 / #M20 / #M20B27ETA , M21 forged crankshaft, stage one cam, #Alpina-B3-2.7-chip , #K&N cone filter, honed intake manifold, #Magnecor ignition leads, custom engine mounts, 185cc injectors, custom stainless six-branch exhaust manifold, custom 2.5” exhaust with twin blast pipes, fully silicone-hosed cooling system, M50B25 radiator

    TRANSMISSION #Getrag-260 / #Getrag five-speed manual gearbox, stage one clutch, custom gearbox mounts, E21 3.64 small case #LSD with custom-drilled output flanges

    CHASSIS 9x15” ET0 (front and rear) #7Twenty-Style44 wheels in matt bronze with 215/45 (front and rear) Toyo TR1 tyres, #GAZ-GHA coilovers with adjustable top mounts, #GAZ front camber plates, front and rear strut towers raised 40mm, custom front anti-roll bar relocation and drop links, fully poly bushed and reinforced front and rear subframes, custom rear subframe camber and toe adjustment plates, custom gearbox and exhaust tunnels, reinforced sills and various other chassis bracing throughout, rear strut tower brace, Wilwood four-pot calipers and custom carriers with 260mm drilled and vented discs and E21 323i hubs (front), Mk1 Golf front discs with Mk3 Golf rear calipers and custom caliper carriers (rear), Hel braided brake lines (front and rear)

    EXTERIOR Custom metal wide arches, custom front lip, bash bars, custom drag spoiler, custom racing livery, back-dated rear panel work to allow for round rear lights and fuel filler cap delete, custom quick release front clip for fast removal of front-end

    INTERIOR #Cobra-Sebring-Pro seat, TRS four-point harness, #Driftworks quick release hub, #Momo model 69 suede steering wheel, custom dual fulcrum short shift, hydraulic handbrake, custom pedal box, sixpoint bolt-in cage, custom switch panel, 30-litre aluminium race tank in boot with surge tank and twin #Bosch-044 fuel pumps

    THANKS Graham, Nicola and Hannah for all the support! All the @76build Instagram followers, all the other people showing love for the 02 and last but not least Thierry and Lewis at www.7twenty.co.uk. Cheers guys.

    “From top to bottom, inside and out, everything you see before you has been crafted by Josh’s own two hands”
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    What goes around comes around, so they say, and Nickel Mohammed’s ever-evolving M3 comes around more than most - it’s always changing and we had to catch it quick before it changed again… Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: #C3Photography .

    BOLT FROM THE BLUE Turbo wide-body E46 M3 Cab

    The old saying that ‘lightning doesn’t strike twice’ is a load of toffee. It’s not just possible that lightning will strike the same part of the Earth more than once, it’s basically inevitable; whether it happens within a five-minute span or twenty million years apart, every square inch of the planet gets it full in the face at some point, and then again, and again. And so it is with a certain sense of inevitability that, in the same vein, feature cars can also strike twice. Regular readers may be squinting at this boisterous E46, trying to figure out where you’ve seen it before… and to answer that niggling query, you recognise it from the cover of our January 2014 issue. But fear not, it’s really quite different now to how it was then. You don’t just walk into a Performance #BMW feature you know, these things have to be earned on merit. And Nickel Mohammed’s shouty M3 has earned another spot here thanks to its constant evolution and mould-breaking styles.

    So how’s it different now? Well, for one thing it’s significantly less powerful. No, wait, come back! This is a good thing – you see, last time we saw the car, its turbocharged S54 was running 800hp, but Nickel’s since detuned this to a rather more manageable 630hp (which is still frickin’ loads), as the car is developing in line with his driving style, as well as to suit the chilly climes of New York City. There’s no point boasting a flag-waving horsepower figure if all of those rampaging ponies are uselessly spinning themselves away at every corner, is there? Definitely far better to have a robust stable of usable nags.

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll begin at the beginning, shall we? “I purchased this car brand new, and back then you had to be put on a waiting list,” he recalls. “I signed myself up, and six months later the car was shipped… the wrong car in the wrong colour! I wanted a silver convertible, and they delivered a black coupé. But determination is a damn thing – I said to them OK, put me back on the list, I’ll wait.” And when the desired drop-top did eventually arrive, was Nickel keen to start tearing into the thing according to some grand overarching modification plan? “To be honest, no,” he shrugs. “Not at all in fact, I reckoned I’d keep it stock. The thing was expensive! And I was still young, I couldn’t afford all that stuff. Although I did try – 20” rims and so on, all those terrible choices I made!” Ah, the impetuousness of youth. Inevitably the M3 was going to end up modified, it was all part of cosmic destiny. It just took a little time for the car to find its way.

    “I’ve built it up and changed it so many times in different directions, the timetable’s kind of all over the place,” he says, when we try to pin down the chronology. “I knew that the mechanical stuff had to be done first, and that started with the engine back in 2011…”

    This was no half-hearted undertaking, with Nickel throwing every one of his chips on the table to get the car ideologically transformed by the lunatics at #HorsepowerFreaks . Their revered Stage 3 turbo conversion brought the howling S54’s peak power up to a stupendous 800hp. These bolt-on kits require no cutting, wiring or welding, and are designed for durability as well as awesome power. But what else would you expect for $30,000+?

    Don’t go thinking ‘bolt-on’ means ‘simple’ though. Engineering a car to run these sorts of numbers is a thoroughly in-depth task – hence the cost – and it took HorsepowerFreaks around a year to build up, test and refine Nickel’s motor. But that fastidiousness of engineering has paid off, as the built motor has held up strongly since. “I drive cars hard, I drive them till they break,” he laughs, “but the only thing I’ve wanted to change on the engine in all this time is adding the AEM Infinity ECU - that thing is superb, a learning computer; I mean, big-ups to those techs that take the time to build these things that adapt to your driving!”

    This attention to cleverness carries on beyond the engine and into the chassis. The suspension offers up an intelligent middle ground between coilovers and air-ride, comprising #KW Variant 3 coilovers with their cunning Hydraulic Lift System, which offers instant ground clearance at the touch of a button. “I wanted to run the car low enough to drive the city streets of NYC - which are terrible - but still be able to raise the front of the car to clear driveways and speed bumps,” Nickel explains. “In all honesty I feel KWs are the best thing made for this car when it comes to suspension.” The last time this car appeared in these pages it was running full air-ride, so you know this is a considered opinion.

    The wheels come from famously pricey custom house, Luxury Abstract. “I’ve had so many wheels before, but these Grassor- Rs were just built for this car,” he grins. “The NeoChrome finish is a neat effect, tying into the Lamborghini pearl paint, and the width and depth really accentuate the body structure.” And you can’t really miss that body, can you? The wide arches are custom hand-fabricated in steel, 1.5” wider at the front and 2.5” out back, thanks to the craftsmanship of Martino Auto Concepts in Long Island. The extra girth is augmented by a V-CSL front bumper and carbon-fibre ducktail boot lid from Vorsteiner, further enhanced by the addition of a Brooks Motorsport Elite carbon wing, along with a set of carbon-fibre side skirts.

    The interior has also been comprehensively re-worked since we last saw the car. Inside, you’ll find a pair of fully reclining Manhart #BMW Performance race seats, important for Nickel as, in his own words, he’s sucker cruising with the seat back and the music up, which brings us neatly to that impressive audio install. “I always wanted an empty trunk to carry bags in, so I removed the existing music and had my electronics sponsor build me a system that would not only look superb, but sound phenomenal and not take up any trunk space. I had my rear seats taken out and my racing harness looks like it’s actually going into my audio system. That was an idea I came up with because I didn’t want to fit a roll cage to the rear of the car as it wouldn’t look as clean and it would be too bulky.

    “There are a lot of stylistic paths you can follow, it takes a lot of time and due diligence,” Nickel reasons. “You have to research, figure out what has been done and what you can do to make it your own. That’s the key to building a car, how do you make it your own; how does it reflect your personality? That has to come from within.

    You have to choose, but that’s why you go on the Internet and talk to your friends and family, and even your techs and people that work on your cars and filter information to help you make your choices. I must have a form: function car. Can’t have a monster in the closet and not be able to let it out because you’re scared that it may attack you! Cars are meant to be driven, and yes they break - you fix it and do it again.”

    Admirable sentiment, and it really helps to illustrate the power behind the build. Yes, this car’s an internet-breaker, but Nickel hasn’t just been ticking boxes on the scenester checklist. The fact that it’s such a personal thing is also key to why he changes the spec so frequently. He’s been cherry picking parts from the aftermarket for a decade now, as well as commissioning his own, and Nickel’s not showing any signs of stopping yet – as long as there’s air in his lungs, this M3 will keep evolving.

    “You’re never done with a project, not ever,” he says. “There will always be new technology, things that you’ve seen and never got a chance to do.” We ask what his favourite part of the car is right now, and he laughs. “Man, there’s not one part of it that I like more than another, because from the top to the bottom it’s my personality, you know? I love it all. And the key to having a dope build is being able to get in and just have a drive. That’s what it was made for. It’s tuned for cruising NYC.” Damn straight. Nickel’s currently working on his E30 M Tech II Convertible, but we all know that the E46 is his baby. It’s been his from new, through thick and thin, and it’s not going anywhere. Lightning will keep on striking.

    DATA FILE Turbo #Wide-Body / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body-E46 / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body / #BMW-M3-HPF-E46 / #BMW-M3-HPF / #AEM / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #HorsepowerFreaks ( HPF ) #HPF-Stage-3-turbo-kit , #HPF-titanium-exhaust-system , #AEM-Infinity-ECU , #HPF carbon-fibre intake ducts, HPF methanol injection, #Rogue-Engineering oil filler ca. Six-speed manual gearbox, E31 850i clutch components with #HPF-Feramic-Stage-3-clutch , #OS-Giken-Super Lock Spec-S LSD, #UUC-Motorwerks engine and transmission mounts

    CHASSIS 11x19” (front) and 13.5x19” (rear) #Luxury-Abstract-Grassor-R wheels with 245/35 (f) and 305/30 (r) tyres, #KW-Variant-3 coilovers with #Hydraulic-Lift-System, #HPF-330-subframe reinforcement plates, #HPF carbon fibre strut braces, HPF under braces, #Powerflex race subframe bushes and trailing arm bushes #StopTech #BBK with six-pot calipers and 380mm discs (front), four-pot calipers with 355mm discs (rear)

    EXTERIOR Custom steel wide-body, Lamborghini #Blu-Cepheus-paint (three-stage pearl), #Vorsteiner-V-CSL front bumper and ducktail boot lid, #Vorsteiner-GTS3 carbon-fibre side skirts, custom E30 M3 bonnet hinges, OEM BMW hardtop, custom dual-xenon headlights, #Brooks-Motorsport Elite carbon-fibre rear wing with #NeoChrome brackets

    INTERIOR Manhart #BMW-Performance race seats, #Schroth harnesses, AEM fuel pressure and 100psi oil pressure gauges, rearview mirror gauge interaction, Kenwood 6.95 double-DIN DDX9902S head unit, JL Audio Monoblock HD1200/1, JL 4-channel amp, JL Evolution C3, JL 12” subwoofer, custom audio box with moulded plexi and LED lighting trimmed in OEM BMW leather, Rydeen reversing camera

    THANKS #Motorcepts (Master Tech), Intrack Tyres, #S&R-Paint , #NeoChrome , #Luxury-Abstract
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