- Post is under moderationTALES OF THE UNEXPECTED Wild supercharged E90 M3
Karel Silha’s M3 has been evolving for a few years, getting ever madder and more frightening. As he teeters on the cusp of his next round of innovations, we pin down his green monster to see just how deeply this lunacy has spiraled… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Patrik Karlsson.
840HP E90 M3 Supercharged wide-arch beast
The most fun cars are the ones that do surprising things; ones that subvert your expectations and lead your preconceptions down a hitherto uncharted path. We’re not talking about sleepers here – that’s a well-documented area, and a whole textbook in itself. No, what’s flicking our switch today is the idea of using a novel base to build something devastating. Like when Top Gear commissioned Lotus to build a trackslaying Lada, and the Norfolk spannertwiddlers ended up throwing £100k at it. Or when Volvo entered the BTCC in the 1990s with an 850 estate. These are not the logical cars to choose for such endeavours, which is what makes the whole concept so eminently desirable.
So it is with Karel Silha’s M3. He wanted to build an unstoppable and terrifying car with which to distort reality in the otherworldly and near-mythical amphitheatre of the now-world-renowned Gatebil events, so he chose to go with an M3. Fair play, sound reasoning, we can see why you’d do that But, just for the sake of waving two fingers at the rest of the paddock, he didn’t take the obvious route and buy himself an E92 coupé. He chose the sensible, dad-spec E90 fourdoor saloon.
Alright, we’ll immediately retract ‘sensible, dad-spec’, that’s a moronic way to describe a machine as formidable as the E90 – but you have to admit that the act of deliberately choosing a car with extra doors you know you’re never going to use is something only a belligerent and confrontational person would do. It’s Touring Car rules; you’ve got four doors so that people spectating can relate your car to their own salesman-spec diesel commuter. Karel’s just cranked things up a notch, simply to be mischievous. Oh, those effervescently zany Swedes…
“My first car was a Toyota Starlet,” he explains, which is actually something we hear a lot. A surprising number of skilled helmsmen cut their teeth in that balletic Japanese poppet, it must teach its drivers an awful lot about car control. “I’ve been working with BMWs for about 12 or 13 years now though. My first was an E30, which I wanted to turn into a bit of turbocharged weekend fun. Most of my BMWs have been E30s in fact; the most recent one was making 982hp and 887lb ft on an old M20 engine.”
It’s probably safe to assume that this fella knows what he’s doing when it comes to perving over BMWs then. However, the E90 is a world apart from the E30 (just look at the maths, it’s 60 #BMW Top Trump points adrift), so this little race car project was always going to be something of a challenge, right? No, not a bit of it. Karel’s the sort of chap who just knuckles down and gets on with it and there’s no half-measures here. Allin or nothing.
“I wanted to do fast lap times and the goal was to be quick,” he says, with hilarious modesty and masterful understatement. “With that in mind, there was only one chassis that was suitable for this: the E90 M3. So I bought the car from a friend – it was in really good condition, aside from the engine, which was trashed. One of the rods had found its way out…” But with the plans that Karel had made, a blown motor was an irrelevance. Stock engines aren’t Gatebil fodder. It was always the gameplan to tear the motor apart and beef everything up like Meat Loaf in an Angus Steakhouse.
“Yes, the whole build was fully mapped out from the start,” he assures us. “We even drew up 3D renderings of how it would look when it was finished. The plan was always clear.” Oh, and what a plan it was. With ruthless efficiency and the sort of clockwork dominance of the to-do list that you normally find in school staff rooms, Karel and his crew set about ripping the E90 to shreds and building it back up as an apex-humiliating, spectator-arousing beast.
“In the first year, we dealt with the chassis,” he says. “KW three-way competition suspension, and also a big brake upgrade from Endless, to get the chassis fully dialled-in. We’d initially talked to a local company about our suspension options, and the support was terrible, so we ended up talking to KW suspension in Germany. They answered all of our questions in one email and the support was just above and beyond, so it was a no-brainer to go with KW! They made a custom three-way competition kit for us, and those guys have been a strong partner ever since.”
With the chassis tested and thoroughly proven, the second year of the E90 build threw up some proper mischief. “In year two we did the forged engine,” says Karel, “and then we supercharged it – and this was no off-the-shelf kit, it was the biggest setup ESS could make for us. We ended up with 840hp, and we also upgraded the ECU to a full Motec setup, with PDM [Power Distribution Module], dash and ECU. We fitted a Samsonas sequential gearbox with paddleshift too.” Phew. Time to take a breath, drink in the magnificence of the spec, and just have a little think about our own life choices. Stick the kettle on for some pondering time, we’ll see you at the next paragraph.
Better? We know, it’s a lot to take in. But brace yourselves, as there’s a little more to come. You see, it would have been amusingly stealthy to jam all of this sweaty grunt into a stock-looking four-door shell, but stealth has never been the Swedish forced induction enthusiasts’ watchword. So what you’re seeing here is a searing vision in Snakeskin Green, a Dodge Viper colour no less, and to prove that this build isn’t just about dumb horsepower there’s a frankly staggering aero setup. Just look at the frickin’ size of that rear diffuser, for goodness’ sake! And the front splitter’s big enough to stand a family of six upon, let alone allowing them all to have a little nap on the rear wing. This thing may have enough horsepower to make a Bugatti owner think twice, but it’s also glued to the track by the crushing inevitability of downforce. It’s actually kinda frightening. Another hugely impressive element of this build is just how stock that S65 motor is, aside from the comically large blower. It’s got forged pistons and rods from Pure Performance Motorsport in Australia, and a suitably juiced-up fuelling system feeding through a Weldon 2345 pump (which is good for 1300hp!), but aside from that it’s pretty much as the M Division intended. Talk about over-engineering, eh?
Still, there was a global vibe developing in this Swedish-honed, German-built car with Australian engine upgrades and Japanese interior addenda, so it only made sense for the rolling stock to come from somewhere unexpected too. That’s why you’ll find a set of Work VS-XX wheels under those widened carbon fibre arches – custom-built wheels from Japan. And the rears are a spanking 12.5” wide, which allows for some seriously dirty contact patch. “We wanted a wheel that could match the rest of the car,” Karel reasons, “and Work Wheels were the only choice for a quality wide wheel.” Having hand-crafted his own bruising arches, we’ll happily take his word for that.
“Function over form was the overarching idea,” he continues. “The look has always been secondary to the act of going fast. The chassis’s actually being modified for a Version 3 that we’ll be debuting soon, but yes – the capability has always been more important than the look.” This statement, of course, writes a very large cheque, as the car looks absolutely phenomenal. Thankfully, we know that the setup can cash it with ease. “I’d say my favourite element of the build is all the carbon fibre,” Karel grins. “When you start with carbon, you kinda get the fever and it’s hard to stop! For 2017 most of the car will be in carbon fibre, and for 2018 a new chassis is being built with even more mods and 100% carbon.” Blimey. 100% is a big percentage. We’ll report back as the news filters in.
“It took some five-to-six months to build the first version of the car,” he says, “then it evolved over the off-season; 2015 Version 1, 2016 Version 2, and 2017 is Version 2.1. Just wait – 2018 will bring it up to Version Badass.” We can’t wait to see that. But for now, let’s just bask in the unutterable lunacy of Version 2.1 – the as-yet ultimate evolution of your neighbour’s four-door 3 Series, built to tear up Gatebil and atomise any rubber that may stray into its workshop. The fact that it’s not a coupé just makes the flawless victories all the sweeter. ¬
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Supercharged / #BMW-E90 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E90 / #BMW-M3-Supercharged / #BMW-M3-Supercharged-E90 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E90 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E90 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #ESS-supercharger / #ESS / #BMW / #Work / #MoTeC-ECU
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #BMW-S65 / #S65 , fully-forged, custom #ESS-supercharger-kit , 1000cc injectors and uprated fuelling with #Weldon 2345 pump, #Motec engine management. #Samsonas six-speed sequential gearbox
CHASSIS 11x18” (front) and 12.5x18” (rear) #Work-VS-XX wheels with 305/35 (front) and 335/35 (rear) tyres, #KW three-way competition suspension, #Endless race brake setup with six-pot calipers (front and rear) with 355mm (front) and 345mm (rear) discs
EXTERIOR Dodge Viper Snakeskin Green, wide steel rear wings and plastic-welded M3 front wings – now remoulded in carbon fibre, Gatebil-sized custom wing, splitter and diffuser
INTERIOR Sparco seats, Takata harnesses, OMP steering wheel, custom cluster by Karel S Motorsport, paddle shifters, full painted FIA rollcage
THANKS All of my friends who helped, especially to Tim and Jens, and also all of my sponsors last year and also the new ones for 2017 – it would not have been possible without them
No air-ride here, just air jacks.
The rear view is dominated by that custom diffuser.
Fully-painted FIA roll-cage.
“Function over form was the overarching idea, the look has always been secondary to the act of going fast”
MOTEC engine management keeps things running right.
Sparco seats with Takata harnesses up front.
MoTeC C127 Race Display behind OMP steering wheel.
Custom ESS supercharger kit makes 840hp.
“In year two we did the forged engine and then we supercharged it [with] the biggest setup ESS could make for us. We ended up with 840hp”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationULTIMATE MODIFIED BMW
Stunning 800whp turbo M10-powered 2002 is like a gift from the gods…
With an astonishing 800whp from its turbo’d M10, this wild 2002 is about as quick as any sane person would want to travel. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Christos Karagiorgakis.
2002: A PACE ODYSSEY
Think of Greece and you will no doubt think of crisp, white houses sitting before the bluest sea you’ve ever seen, beautiful beaches, and delicious food. Perhaps what you won’t think of is modified BMWs. However, having been to Greece on many previous BMW-based visits, we can tell you that there are some serious machines scattered across the country. And this right here might just be the most serious piece of German modified machinery that Greece has to offer. It belongs to Stavros Panagopoulos, who has owned it for ten years. This was, in fact, his very first #BMW : a humble 1602 that he found for sale near his house. As you can probably tell, it’s changed a bit since then…
Stavros says he entered into ’02 ownership with plans to make the diminutive classic just a little bit faster. And while he’s certainly achieved his end goal, and then some, he didn’t embark on a journey of turbocharged madness from the off; there were at least two slightly more sensible stages prior to what you see here. Things started off normally enough, with the 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine enhanced with twin side draft 40 carbs. And that was fine, but not quite enough for Stavros’s liking. So Stage two was a bit more dramatic. The original engine was deemed not quite large enough so it was removed and in its place went a more powerful 2.0, its potency ramped-up considerably with the addition of a 300-degree camshaft, Weber 48 DCOE carbs, MSD Ignition components, and a selection of other sexy engine enhancements. That’s pretty solid and we wager the car (that was now by definition a 2002) must have been a whole load of fun to drive and a massive step up over how it felt originally. And then something happened: Stavros decided that what he really wanted was an 800whp turbo conversion. Because, sometimes, that’s just what you need in your life…
As you might imagine, making that sort of underbonnet magic happen takes more than a little bit of work and the engine spec list reads like a who’s who of the performance tuning scene. It’s thorough and it’s glorious. It’s the modified BMW enthusiast’s equivalent of 50 Shades of Grey…
Step one, you’ve got to get your engine choice down. Stavros opted for the sturdy M10, which served as the basis for BMW’s insane turbocharged M12 motorsport engine as well as the S14, so it’s certainly up to the task of coping with a spot of turbocharging.
But the example nestling under this ’02’s bonnet is very far removed from your common-or-garden M10, as you might have guessed. There’s a lot in the engine bay, so much so that you can barely even see the engine, but if it looks impressive from the outside, there’s plenty to get excited about on the inside, too. 89mm CP forged pistons have been fitted, along with Carrillo forged rods, a custom reprofiled camshaft from Boubis Cams, and #VAC-Motorsports valves, rocker arms, valve guides and valve springs. Somewhere within the engine bay (you’ll have to take our word for it because it’s buried deep beneath seemingly endless pipework) sits the very core of all that power: an absolutely gigantic #Garrett-GTX4202R-turbo . This beast of a snail is rated up to 1150hp so Stavros has plenty of headroom, running as he is at around the 900hp mark, should he ever decide that’s not quite enough. This is useful, actually, as his next goal is to hit 1000hp…
When it came to getting everything squeezed into the engine bay, custom is most definitely the word of the day: the turbo feeds a HPS custom intake manifold via a suitably massive front-mounted intercooler and sits on a custom exhaust manifold that connects up to a custom exhaust with an external wastegate that exits through the sill just behind the passenger side front wheel.
The exhaust manifold and the turbo housing itself have both been treated to a Zircotec ceramic coating. Stavros has also had massive Bosch Motorsport 1600cc/min injectors fitted to supply enough fuel to keep the engine happy, along with a custom HPS oil pan. The whole lot is looked after by an Autronic SM4 stand-alone ECU.
Seeing as no one involved in the designing and construction of the ’02 family could ever have imagined that someone in the distant future would attempt to pass somewhere in the region of 900hp through the compact runabout, Stavaros has had to go to town on the transmission and chassis to ensure it didn’t tear itself to pieces. The gearbox is a five-speed manual Getrag unit from the E28 535i mated to a custom twin-plate clutch that can handle the immense amount of power and torque being developed by the engine, with an E34 M5 rear axle tasked with transferring everything to the rear tyres. On the suspension front, this 2002 has been fitted with E36 M3 underpinnings, including subframes and wishbones, with #KW coilovers up front and Bilstein dampers at the back. While it doesn’t take much to stop a car as small and light as a 2002, stopping one that’s travelling at close to the speed of sound does require something a little more substantial, and this example certainly doesn’t mess about. Up front sit AP Racing Galfer four-pot calipers clamping 305mm vented discs. The rear setup is no less substantial, with another set of AP Racing four-pot calipers wrapped around slightly smaller 255mm vented discs.
When it came to the exterior Stavros decided to keep things relatively subtle in as much that a casual observer might not be aware of what’s been changed but, at the same time, it’s clear that this 2002 is far from standard. It’s actually about as aggressive as a 2002 can really get. The biggest difference are those pumped-up arches, complete with sill extensions that fill out the flanks. They give the normally unassuming classic some real road presence. Having the wastegate exiting through the sill certainly doesn’t hurt, and neither does that fat, single-tipped exhaust pipe. Of course, fitting wide arches is one thing, having suitable wheels that are substantial enough to fill them is another matter entirely but Stavros’ choice definitely doesn’t disappoint, though it might raise a few eyebrows. He’s taken the classic cross-spoke look that sits so well with the 2002 and turned it on its head with a set of decidedly modern Work VS-XXs.
The 17” wheels are positively huge on the compact classic but they look fantastic, really filling out those big arches, especially with the car dropped low over the fat rubber. Even parts of the body that may look stock aren’t. For example, the bonnet and boot might appear to be relatively standard, bar the pins and catches, but they are both carbon fibre items, with twin fuel fillers on the rear deck for the bootmounted alloy fuel cell. The one thing the 2002 isn’t is heavy, so adding carbon panels and reducing the already low weight further still means that, with 800whp on tap, this car is absolutely insane – just in case you hadn’t gathered that already!
With a build like this the interior could go a number of ways: hardcore, stripped-out; stock and subtle; or, option three, custom, luxurious but still decidedly sporty – which is exactly what Stavros has gone for. The interior is dominated by those gorgeous Recaro A8 seats and both they, the rear seats, the doorcards, the steering wheel centre section, the gear gaiter and the handbrake have all been covered in the same delicious shade of caramel leather.
Something that’s easier to miss is the custom alloy roll-cage; it’s so well-integrated that, while you can clearly see the rear diagonal support, the sections that penetrate the dashboard (down into the footwell) and the rear parcel shelf are much more discreet.
Up front, the gauge cluster has been replaced with an AIM MXL digital racing dash while the centre console now resembles the flight deck of an aircraft rather than a car. Where the central air vents would have once been there now sits a quartet of custom-mounted GReddy exhaust temperature gauges and below that another custom panel that houses a Daemon boost gauge, A’Pexi turbo timer and fuel gauge and, finally, down in front of the illuminated gear lever, you’ll find a pair of GReddy pressure gauges.
We’ve featured some pretty wild 2002s over the years but this example might just ‘take the cake’. It’s an utterly incredible machine and we’re a little bit in love with it. We love how the custom wide-arches give the little 2002 a broad, square stance. We love the interior, with its blend of modern tech, race components and gorgeous leather. And we really love the engine; we doubt you’ll see a more complicated engine bay, there’s just so much stuffed under the bonnet. And to come away with 800whp from such a small engine and to have it at your disposal in such a small, lightweight car is utterly insane and, well, we love that too.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-2002-Turbo / #Garrett-GTX4202 R / #Garrett / #BMW-2002 / #M10-Turbo / #Getrag / #BMW / #BMW-2002-800bhp /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.0-litre four-cylinder #M10 / #BMW-M10 / , CP forged pistons, #Carrillo forged rods, #Boubis-Cams custom reprofiled camshaft, #AC-Motorsports valves, rocker arms, valve guides and valve springs, Garrett GTX4202R turbo with Zircotec ceramic-coated housing, #Zircotec ceramiccoated custom exhaust manifold, external wastegate, custom exhaust system, #HPS custom intake manifold, #Bosch-Motorsport 1600cc/min injectors, #HPS custom oil pan, #Autronic #Autronic-SM4 stand-alone ECU, Autronic ignition, #Getrag fivespeed manual E28 535i gearbox, custom twin disc clutch kit
CHASSIS 7.5x17” (front and rear) #Work-VS-XX wheels with 205/40 (front) Yokohama AVS Sport and 245/45 (rear) Dunlop SP Sport MAXX tyres, E36 M3 subframe, wishbones etc, #KW coilover kit (front), #Bilstein dampers (rear), E34 M5 rear axle, #AP-Racing Galfer four-pot calipers with 305mm vented discs (front) and AP Racing four-pot calipers with 255mm vented discs (rear)
EXTERIOR Carbon fibre bonnet, carbon fibre boot, custom wide-arch conversion
INTERIOR Custom alloy roll-cage by Ilias Makropoulos, #Recaro A8 seats, rear seats, doorcards, steering wheel centre section, gear gaiter and handbrake finished in caramel leather, illuminated M gear knob, AIM MXL digital racing dash, custom-mounted #GReddy exhaust temperature gauges, pressure gauges, Daemon boost gauge, A’Pexi turbo timer, alloy fuel cell
Engine looks monstrously complicated, and it is, with a huge amount of custom work at every turn and a gigantic #Garrett-GTX402R turbo buried deep within.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.