- POWER HUNGRY
The M3 is certainly a powerful car, but this supercharged E90 takes things to another level… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Petrie.
Supercharged E90 M3
When it comes to the E9x M3 we, like a lot of you out there, would likely go for the E92 if given the choice, as the Coupé is arguably the sleeker and sexier car of the two. However, there are plenty of good reasons to opt for the four-door. For starters, if you’re in the family way or are simply looking for greater levels of practicality when it comes to transporting human cargo, the saloon offers up five seats to the coupé’s four.
If you’re not interested in ferrying people about and are more interested in the driving experience then we’d cite the words of one of the #BMW M Fascination Nordschleife instructors we spoke to whilst taking part in the event who, when quizzed as to why he wasn’t driving an E92 M3 Coupé like the rest of us, informed us that the shorter saloon changed direction more quickly, felt stiffer and was better to drive on the track than the E92. His words, not ours. Of course, both cars are as capable as each other but don’t let any of your E92-owning buddies ever talk down to you for having four doors on your M3.
We can’t imagine that’s something that ever happens to Islam ‘Izzy’ Gohar because he’s got an E90 M3 with a supercharger on it, but then again that’s exactly the sort of car you’d expect from the owner of IMG Motorsport, purveyor of some of the finest performance parts you can buy, and someone who has been driving and modifying BMWs since the age of 16. “My first BMW was gifted to me by my parents at the age of 16, having accomplished the required grades to get into engineering school in Europe. It was more than I could handle at that age but I was lucky to attend multiple driving schools where I learned a lot about car control and more.
“The car didn’t last long in its stock form. It was tuned and lowered right away and then a full exhaust system was added to complete my first toy. When I moved to the States in early 2000 after college, I purchased a low mileage E36 M3 from a close friend. The car was a ’99 in Titanium silver over a black leather Vader interior, and had 30k miles on it along with some mods which kept me tame for a couple of months.
“In 2002 I was introduced to Corry Prime by a couple of friends; Corry happened to be (and still is) one of the top three techs for BMW North America and also a race car instructor. We became friends and he helped me get my new baby to where it needed to be, and more. He didn’t just work on the car, he explained everything in depth and advised what to buy and use. I paid good attention to my teacher and learned a lot from him and still do to this day. He built me an amazing M3, which I still own and I started doing track events and fell more in love with my journey with BMW.”
The E36 served as both daily driver and track beast for many years until Izzy decided he fancied a newer BMW, an M3 specifically. However, the long waiting list put him off so he instead purchased a brand-new 135i, which was quickly modified and just as quickly written off by his boss’s son.
This was unfortunate for sure, but it was clearly a sign that it was about time to have another go at getting his hands on an M3. “I went out looking for an E90 M3 and ended up taking over someone’s lease. It took a while to find what I wanted; a slicktop (no sunroof) with no folding rear seats and a six-speed manual in Interlagos blue. When I did find the right car, I closed the deal right away. It had 9k miles on it and was in a very clean condition.” Not only did Izzy start modifying the car straight away, he started buying parts while the car was in transit from Ohio to its new home, some 600-odd miles away in Connecticut, so when it arrived it went straight to Corry. “I’d ordered an Xpipe, exhaust, intake, lowering springs, short shift kit and a tune and Corry had the parts on over the space of a weekend.”
A solid start to any project, and enough to tide most owners over for a while, but Izzy is clearly a guy who doesn’t beat about the bush. “Corry and I soon starting discussing power upgrades. Initially we wanted a stroker built motor but the price and gains didn’t justify it,” he says, “so instead we went for an ESS Supercharger kit and once that was on the car it stayed like that for two years, until it hit 50,000 miles. Then it was time to start pushing the limits,” grins Izzy, and he’s not kidding…
“First up, Corry pulled the engine out and we contacted Mahle Motorsports for custom lower compression pistons, which took eight weeks to build, and at the same time Carrillo rods were also ordered. As soon as the pistons were received, the block was sent to Dinan Engineering out in CA for boring and honing; when everything came back assembly didn’t take more than two weeks with Corry assembling a custom fuel delivery return system, though it took quite some time to get the proper fuel pressure needed for the added power.
“In its first dyno session, running on a custom tune by Asborn ‘AJ’ from ESS Tuning, the car put down 666whp at 12- 13psi.” This is certainly a devilishly good power figure and an impressive increase over what even the most powerful off-the-shelf ESS kit is able to produce. “I was very happy with the power level for a little while but I hurt the motor at an event which I wasn’t prepared for.” Another unfortunate event but naturally if something breaks then that gives you an excuse to do some more modifying so obviously there was only one option…
“At that point we decided to push for more power,” says Izzy, matter-of-factly, “so Corry pulled the engine out and started tearing it apart and inspecting everything. He found one damaged piston due to a bad batch of gas from a no-name petrol station, so we ordered larger diameter pistons from Mahle and sent the block back to Dinan for a second round of boring and honing. At the same time, we sent the cylinder heads to L&M Racing in PA.
Michael, the owner, is a great friend and he got on the heads right away for porting and polishing so the engine could breathe better. Custom valve springs were used to handle 8800rpm. We also sent him the pistons, rods, and crank for balancing the rotating assembly for smoothness and reliability. Everything came in and Corry started assembly and after a week, the motor was ready to go in the car.
“At the same time as all the engine work we decided to add KW V1 coilovers and ditch the lowering springs as well as adding a Brembo Gran Turismo big brake kit with yellow calipers all-round, six-pots up front and four-pots at the rear and 380mm slotted discs all-round. Everything went in smoothly and once the car was back on the road I took it to P1 Motorcars where it made 740whp on the company’s Dynojet dyno.”
Now, that is a vast amount of power, way more than anyone could ever need and probably approaching the limits of what most sane people would actually want but Izzy wasn’t done just yet: “The engine felt like it had more in it so I reached out to Nick and Steve at American Racing Headers and they decided to develop a set of long tube headers for my car, mated to a 3” cat-less resonated X-pipe and an Awron gauge was installed to monitor AFR at all times. Nick installed the headers at his shop at no charge, and the car then went back on the rollers where it put down 785whp and 550lb ft at the wheels, at 13psi on ‘medium boost’.
That makes it the highest horsepower E9x M3 to this day. I’ll eventually turn the boost up once the record is broken by another one,” and he’s not even joking. Considering just how much power this M3 is pushing out (almost 900hp at the crank) it’s a car we’d consider to be pretty darn stealthy from the outside, and yes we have seen the wheels, thanks very much. They’re rather gorgeous Volk TE37s, 9.5x18s up front and beefy 10.5x18s at the back, the fronts barely able to contain those vast six-pot Brembo front calipers, with one of the six-spokes on each wheel sporting the Volk Racing logo on a bright yellow background that matches both the brakes and the intake plenum of the ESS supercharger kit.
“I chose the Volks because of their perfect offset, build quality, and weight; they are forged which makes them very strong – extremely necessary for our bad tri-state roads,” explains Izzy and the fact that they’re also such a good-looking wheel certainly doesn’t do them any harm.
The exterior styling additions amount to no more than a Just M Performance carbon fibre rear spoiler, carbon fibre diffuser and a set of Euro rear lights, while the interior has been treated to an M Performance flat-bottom steering wheel and custom Alcantara-wrapped trim with yellow stitching, tying in perfectly with the yellow elements that appear throughout the car.
Having built such an incredible powerhouse of an M3, Izzy isn’t about to let it go and based on his list of planned modifications it sounds like this E90 will be joining his E36 as a permanent fixture in his collection. “I’m going to add a RKP carbon fibre roof, KW V3 coilovers, AlekShop solid subframe bushes, leather Recaro Sportster CS seats with yellow stitching, Alcantara headlining and I also want to get the car resprayed.”
With those mods done and with an M4 GTS and F10 M5 also on the shopping list, we’d wager that the E90 M3 will retire for as long as it takes for someone to break Izzy’s dyno record. And lord help anyone who does because that’s when he’s going to bring the M3 back, crank up the boost and who knows what’s going to happen then…
Inside, yellow stitching matches the other yellow highlights and there’s an M Performance steering wheel.
There are plenty of yellow highlights on this E90, but the ESS plenum is the biggest and yellowest.
“When I did find the right car I closed the deal right away”
DATA FILE Supercharged #E90 M3 / #BMW-S65 / #S65B40 / #S65 / #L&M-Racing / #S65-Supercharger / #Dinan / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E90 / #V8 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Sedan-E90 / #BMW-3-Series-E90 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre V8 S65B40 , L&M Racing ported and polished heads, custom valve springs, #Mahle-Motorsports pistons, #Carrillo rods, block bored and honed by #Dinan , #ESS-Supercharger kit, American Racing Headers long tube headers, 3" cat-less resonated midsection, #Akrapovic axle back exhaust with carbon tips, six-speed manual gearbox
POWER AND TORQUE 785whp and 550lb ft wtq at 13psi
CHASSIS 9.5x18” (front) and 10.5x18” (rear) #Volk-TE37-SL forged wheels with 265/35 (front) and 295/35 (rear) Continental ExtremeContact DW tyres, #KW-V1 coilovers, #Brembo-Gran-Turismo-BBK with six-pot calipers (front), four-pot calipers (rear) and 380mm slotted discs (front and rear)
EXTERIOR Just M performance carbon fibre boot lip spoiler, Euro rear lights, carbon fibre rear diffuser
INTERIOR M Performance V1 flat bottom steering wheel, Alcantara dash trim with yellow stitching