- DOUBLE DIP #BMW-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46
Ferocious 545hp supercharged and 715hp turbocharged carbon-clad E46 M3s tamed by one owner. Decisions are hard, especially when it comes to choosing between a supercharged E46 M3 and a turbocharged E46 M3, so why not just have both…? Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andrew Thompson.
545hp supercharged and 715hp turbo E46 M3s
Decisions are never easy to make, especially when you’re faced with two equally appealing options. Chinese or Indian, for example, or cookies and brownies, or pizza and, well actually there’s no alternative option to pizza because pizza just always wins. Sometimes, you don’t even have to decide, like with cronuts, or a turducken, just have everything, because more of everything is always better. For example, why choose between a supercharged E46 M3 and a turbocharged E46 M3, when you could have both? That is exactly what Jaime Taylor did and we’d like to think that decision made his life immeasurably better in every way.
This man is a serial car buyer and modifier with a car history varied enough to make your head spin, including a midengined, RWD Peugeot 205 GTi and a Sierra Cosworth, a scattering of BMs and some serious big-power builds, such as a 511hp Skyline R34 GTR, a 670hp Skyline R32 GTR and a 513hp Audi RS4. Jaime is no stranger to going fast and is clearly hopelessly addicted and devoted to the modifying lifestyle, which makes him our kind of guy, and we guess answers the question: “What sort of person owns a pair of cars like this?”
What’s really interesting here is that this is really a tale of two parallel builds, which were happening alongside each other at virtually the same time. Spooky. We’ve got Jaime, who wanted to build a turbo E46 M3 but ended up going down the supercharged route, and Andy Bennett, who bought the turbocharged car and proceeded to put a huge amount of effort into getting it running as it should, then ended up selling it to Jaime, who’d actually wanted to buy it all along but was beaten to the punch by Andy all those years previously. It’s a twisting tale deserving of its own movie adaptation, so grab some popcorn, get comfy and we’ll begin.
When Jaime bought his M3 in 2014, it already had a long list of tasty bits on it, including carbon front wings and carbon bonnet, a roll-cage, BBK, CSL air box and Recaro RS seats but even better than that it had been fitted with a new engine from BMW and had covered less than 20,000 miles on it. “The new engine was a blank canvas to work on,” smiles Jaime. “At the time I didn’t know any UK company who could turbocharge the S54 but did know a company in the States. We were talking about shipping the car over there to get the job done, but it would have been gone for six months for all the new fabrication work to be done because they hadn’t done a right hand drive vehicle before,” he explains. “In the end, with a new car on the drive, we decided to go down the supercharged route so then the car could stay local,” and that’s a pretty sensible decision as the job could be done much more quickly and he’d have more time to actually enjoy the car.
The supercharger kit comes from VF Engineering, with Jaime opting for VF570 flavour, the company’s most powerful E46 M3 supercharger offering. At its core is a Vortech V3-Si supercharger, capable of running at 26psi and rated for 775hp, so producing the 570hp and 380lb ft that VF Engineering claims for this kit is a walk in the park. The kit also boasts a cast manifold with a slide-in air/water intercooler cartridge and is a serious setup, able to deliver a huge hike in power. Initially, though, that wasn’t the case, as once Jaime had got the car back from being mapped and stuck it on a dyno he found it was only making 499hp.
“On each of the five back-to-back dyno runs we did the power was going down about 20hp every time because of heat soak,” he explains. “The engine was pulling the timing and it couldn’t make the power. To fi x this we got Gary Adlington, who runs Eastwood Garage in Falmouth, to fit an AEM direct port methanol kit from the States. Gary is a genius,” enthuses Jaime, “he put a Cosworth engine in a boat and some other crazy stuff – incredible character and he also worked on Andy’s engine.” Yes, in a further coincidence, both Jaime and Adam used Gary’s services for their respective projects; it’s like fate brought everything together. With the meth injection kit on board it was time to head back to the dyno and this time the numbers didn’t disappoint. “On the first run it made 513hp, 530hp on the second and we finished with 545hp,” grins Jaime and that grin is fully justified as that’s a serious power figure. Of course, running monster power means you need plenty of supporting mods and this S54 has been treated to a Mishimoto electric fan coupled to a larger Mishimoto rad, a 55ºC thermostat, the secondary air pump has been removed along with the air con and it’s all finished off with set of sport cats and a Milltek rear exhaust section.
Handily, the previous owner had done a lot of the groundwork on the chassis meaning the M3 was already in a good position to be supercharged, but Jaime has been upgrading things along the way over the past two-and-a-half years to make sure the car was the best it could be. The chassis has been enhanced with a set of KW V3 coilovers and is joined by Turner Motorsport top mounts and adjustable Turner anti-roll bars both front and rear. In addition to this there are adjustable rear camber arms, poly bushes fitted throughout and there’s also a 4.10 ratio rear diff. The brakes are seriously beefy and more than up to the task of slowing this powerhouse of an M3; up front there’s an Alcon BBK comprising 365mm discs, utilising Reyland brake bells, clamped by red six-piston calipers and braided hoses and Pagid RS-29 pads have been fitted allround while 710 racing brake fluid tops off the brake upgrades. When it came to choosing wheels, Jaime wanted something light and good-looking that would suit his track-orientated build. “Apex wheels were the weapon of choice,” he says, “they’re lightweight, concave and when I was searching for M3 track cars online everyone was running them so they were clearly the wheels to go for.” He’s gone for the Arc- 8, which looks great on the E46, and he’s running a square setup with 10x18s all-round wrapped in sticky Federal 595RS-R tyres.
No doubt a big part of the appeal of this M3 when Jaime was shopping was the fact that it looked so flipping fantastic, with the carbon bonnet, wings and boot lid really giving it a full-on track look and over the time he’s had the car he’s built on that, giving it an even more extreme appearance. “It was actually booked in to have all the carbon painted,” admits Jaime, “but I ended up going against it and kept the carbon on show for an aggressive track look,” and we’re glad he did. The car also wears a carbon front splitter and canards, plus Jaime has carried out a front foglight delete, and added a carbon rear diffuser, all of which combine to really make this M3 stand out and it’s got a lot of presence.
The interior had already been stripped out and caged-up when Jaime bought the car, but here too there was room for improvement and it all started with the seats. “On the first track day I took the car to I realised the seats were too high as we kept hitting our heads on the roof,” he explains. So out came the Recaro RS seats and in went in a pair of Corbeau Club Sport buckets, and Jaime was now far more comfortable and able to actually enjoy driving his M3. Other interior changes include the aforementioned roll-cage, a Safety Devices bolt-in item, an alcantarawrapped wheel from Royal Steering Wheels, full carbon door cards with red door pulls, an AEM hand controller for the methanol injection, a lightweight battery, fire extinguishers and a carbon blanking plate that covers the hole where the sat nav screen once sat. We love the fact that while it is stripped out and most definitely hardcore, it’s been finished to an incredibly high standard with some very high quality materials, and it all combines to make it even more special.
While Jaime was busy getting stuck into his supercharged E46 M3 project, Andy was well underway with getting his turbo E46 M3 up to scratch. Back in late 2013, having just sold a supercharged Range Rover Sport, Andy was flush with cash and looking to buy a second home to rent out. At least that was the sensible, grown-up plan, but one brief eBay session later it had all gone to pot as he’d spotted a turbo E46 M3, this very car, up for sale and, deciding that he couldn’t not buy it, he snapped it up with a sneaky bid in the final few seconds of the auction, unknowingly swiping it away from Jaime.
Not only did the car have a claimed 650hp, but it had also been on the cover of the March 2008 of PBMW, and came with a vented carbon bonnet, carbon bootlid, BBK and ticked just about every box that there was to be ticked. Quickly, however, it transpired that the car was not in rude health, making only 465hp on the dyno, not the figure Andy had been led to believe, as well as suffering from numerous issues to do with the turbo conversion. It was not a happy car. It was decided that a new intake manifold and stand alone ECU were needed, so Andy took the M3 off the road and put it into storage while he saved money for the work it needed. It was at this time that he learned about the infamous E46 subframe failure issue and, after inspecting the state of his M3, he discovered that, lo and behold, the subframe was not in a good way...
While we can’t imagine his mood was particularly good at this point, Andy had a turbocharged M3 and he was determined to make it the best turbocharged M3 he could; where Jaime started his project with a clean slate, Andy had the perfect opportunity to not just fix what was wrong with his M3, but improve everything as he went along, and he’s definitely done that and then some.
Before he could even think about getting the engine running at full capacity, that rear end needed sorting out so the old boot floor was cut out, a new one was welded-in and Redish Motorsport reinforcement plates were installed, along with a box section welded across the boot floor to eliminate any flex. At the same time, the whole back end was poly bushed and the propshaft rubber donut was replaced by an uprated Revshift polyurethane set up. The poly bushing extends throughout the chassis now and the suspension has been thoroughly upgraded throughout to ensure it’s up to the task of coping with a turbocharged S54 above. Naturally the car sits on coilovers but they’re not the usual suspects, this M3 having been fitted with Tein items complete with electronic damping adjustment, and these are joined by adjustable front camber plates and Eibach anti-roll bars front and rear and there’s also a Strong Strut front brace with a Schnitzer item mounted at the back. A Brembo GT BBK takes care of stopping duties, with six-pot calipers and monster 380mm discs up front and 345mm discs at the rear, the red calipers contrasting perfectly against the black spokes of the 19” CSL replicas, themselves fitted with Toyo R888 tyres for maximum grip and traction. When it came to the engine Andy admits that, without the help and knowledge of Gary Adlington, he probably would have given up on the car a long time ago, which would have been a shame as he would not have had the chance to experience the fury of a fully operational turbo M3. The main components required to get the S54 performing as it should were an AEM Infinity 8 ECU, Horsepower Freaks intake manifold and boost pipe, a pair of HKS SSQV4 blow-off valves and an AEM water/meth injection kit. The intercooler was also sent off to have the end tanks cut off and new ones made from thicker aluminium welded on. The final engine spec makes for some eye-widening reading as some serious work has gone into making this S54 as powerful as it is. The turbo kit itself comes from Savspeed Racing and uses a Turbonetics T70 turbo and the engine has been bolstered with a set of Wiseco low compression pistons, Pauter con rods, VAC Motorsports head bolts and a steel-lined head gasket while twin fuel pumps feed 750cc injectors via an Aeromotive fuel filter. The result of all that is pretty spectacular, with four different power maps to choose from: the mildest map offers a sensible 500hp, which we imagine is handy for popping to the shops for a pint of milk, while the wildest map delivers 715hp, which you’d probably use for getting a pint of milk and some toilet paper. Perhaps a cheeky Snickers as well. A Clutch Masters twin-plate paddle clutch has been added to cope with all that newfound power and there’s also a short-shift kit rounding things off.
As with the supercharged car, this turbo M3 is a riot of carbon fibre on the outside, which looks fantastic against the Steel grey bodywork. It wears a Vorsteiner carbon bonnet and carbon front bumper, carbon front wings, a CSL carbon bootlid, carbon rear bumper, carbon side mouldings, carbon roof spoiler, carbon Schnitzer mirrors, even a carbon fuel filler flap. There are more carbon panels on the car now than there are regular body panels, it’s really something, and makes the car utterly spectacular. The interior is has also been treated to a whole heap of carbon goodies, including dash trim, door pulls, steering wheel trim, steering column and gearknob, gear surround and handbrake lever. It’s a veritable feast for the eyes. In the early stages of the project, Andy picked up some rather sexy Cobra Daytona seats, which were already trimmed in black Mercedes leather and black Mitsubishi Evo X alcantara and finished with gold stitching, and they look great in the car, really filling out the interior and making it a rather more special place to sit. They’re mated to threepoint harnesses, which are mounted where the rear seats used to be, and naturally there’s also a host of gauges, we’d have been disappointed if there hadn’t been what with this being a turbocharged car and all. They include an Innovate AFR gauge, a trio of HKS gauges to monitor boost, exhaust temperature and pressure and there’s also a HKS turbo timer ensuring that the turbo stays healthy.
So, man builds supercharged E46 M3 and buys turbocharged M3, drives off into the sunset, lives happily ever after etc, right?
Well, not quite… “It’s a good job Andy pipped me to the post on the turbo car,” admits Jaime, “as he spent a lot of money on this M3, so I really reaped the benefits of all his hard work. It was a pleasure to scratch that turbo M3 itch that I’ve had for years, watching all those turbo M3 videos on YouTube, and it is fricking awesome,” he grins, but after buying the car from Andy last July just one month passed before Jaime had put it up for sale himself. “I needed to try it out for a while to see if I was happy to make this my new track car, and after testing it back to back with my supercharged one I decided it wasn’t for me. I have a bond with my supercharged one and prefer everything else about it, as does my other half, Terrie, and I have to live with her so she has a big say in what I do,” he laughs. Unsurprisingly the turbo M3 sold very quickly but surprisingly Jaime has now put his supercharged M3 up for sale as well, and as we put the last of these words to paper it looks like it may have found a new home… “I’ll be very sad to see it go,” he says, “and so will Terrie as we’ve both done a lot of track days in it and she’s learned a lot from driving it and really enjoys it,” but that’s just how it goes with modified cars, we suppose, it’s very rare for them to have any sort of permanence and selling the cars we’ve poured so much of everything into is a just part of the life we lead. They do say that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, though, and while we’re not sure if Jaime is planning to go as far as this with the E92 M3 he’s thinking of buying next, he can at least say that he’s been the owner of both a turbocharged and a supercharged M3, and there’s not many people that can.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Turbocharged E46 / #BMW-M3 / #Turbonetics / #BMW-M3-Turbocharged / #BMW-M3-Turbocharged-E46 / #BMW-M3-Turbo / #BMW-M3-Turbo-E46 / #HKS / #BMW-M3-Tuned / #BMW-M3-Tuned-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54-Turbocharged / #S54-Turbo , #Savspeed-Racing turbo conversion with #Turbonetics-T70 turbo, #Wiseco low compression pistons, #Pauter con rods, #VAC-Motorsports head bolts, steel-lined head gasket, 750cc injectors, twin fuel pumps, #Aeromotive fuel filter, #AEM Infinity 8 standalone ECU with E46 plug and play harness, AEM water/methanol injection kit with 1000cc and 500cc injectors, #HPF intake manifold and intake piping, custom front mount intercooler, 2x #HKS-SSQV4 blow-off valves, HPF five-way traction control system, custom exhaust system. Six-speed manual gearbox, Clutch Masters twin-plate paddle clutch, short shift kit
CHASSIS 19” #CSL-replica-wheels in gloss black with 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Toyo Proxes R888 tyres, Tein-coilovers with electronic damping adjustment, adjustable front camber plates, Strong Strut front brace, AC-Schnitzer rear brace, Eibach anti-roll bars (front and rear), fully poly bushed, Brembo GT BBK with six-piston calipers and 380x32mm discs (front) and four-piston calipers with 345x28mm discs (rear)
EXTERIOR Steel grey, #Vorsteiner carbon bonnet and front bumper, carbon fibre front wings, side mouldings, AC Schnitzer carbon fibre door mirrors, CSL carbon fibre boot, carbon fibre rear bumper, roof spoiler
INTERIOR Cobra Daytona seats re-trimmed in black leather and alcantara with gold stitching, three-point harnesses, rear seat delete, black alcantara gear and handbrake gaiters with gold stitching, Innovate AFR gauge, HKS boost, exhaust temperature and pressure gauges, HKS turbo timer
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Supercharged / #BMW-M3-Supercharged / #BMW-M3-Supercharged-E46 / #S54-Supercharged / #VF-Engineering / #Apex
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #VF-Engineering-VF570 supercharger kit, AEM water/methanol injection kit, #Mishimoto electric fan, Mishimoto bigger radiator, 55ºC thermostat, secondary air pump removed, airconditioning removed, sport cats, Milltek rear exhaust. Six-speed manual gearbox, 4.10 rear differential
POWER AND TORQUE 545hp, 383lb ft
CHASSIS 10x18” (front and rear) #Apex-ARC-8 wheels with 265/35 (front and rear) Federal 595RS-R tyres, stud conversion kit, 12mm rear spacers, #KW-V3 coilovers with Club spec springs, Turner Motorsport top mounts, #Turner-Motorsport adjustable anti-roll bars (front and rear), adjustable rear camber arms, fully poly bushed, #Alcon BBK with six-piston calipers and 365mm discs with #Reyland bells (front), standard calipers (rear), Pagid RS-29 pads (front and rear), braided brake lines (front and rear), 710 racing brake fluid
EXTERIOR Carbon fibre canards, splitter, front wings, boot, bonnet, rear diffuser, carbon wrap on roof, fog lights removed
INTERIOR Stripped-out, full bolt-in Safety Devices roll-cage, alcantara steering wheel by Royal Steering Wheels, solid steering wheel coupler, full carbon door cards with red pull tabs, RTD short shifter, AEM hand controller for water/methanol injection, Corbeau Club Sport seats, Willans harnesses, water/methanol tank in boot, Odyssey PC950 lightweight battery, fire extinguishers, stereo removed