- FURY ROADSTER
This might look like a mildly modified Z3 M but under the bonnet hides 800whp of sheer rage. With an earth-shattering 800whp, this turbocharged #BMW-Z3-M-Roadster / #BMW-Z3-M will definitely put the wind in your hair. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Darren Maybury
While I’m generally not a huge fan of convertibles, Roadsters are a whole different kettle of slightly windswept, sunburnt fish. I like the fact that they are built from the ground up as soft-tops, with less compromise on all fronts, and they don’t attempt to try and shoehorn in a pair of rear ‘seats’ for the vertically challenged or your shopping. Engine. Two seats. Boot. Done.
BMW’s Z3 was met with mixed reviews when launched, but it’s ageing well. The retro lines look ever more retro, and the styling has plenty of character and muscle about it. When it was handed over to BMW M’s engineers to work their magic, there were certainly plenty of fireworks and, while the M Coupé might be the one that turns heads, there’s lots to love about the #Roadster , especially when there’s the small matter of 800whp going on.
Why wouldn’t you want to stuff a turbo under the bonnet of your Z3 and make 800whp? Mark Christofis is a man who clearly took a look at his life, realised it was missing an 800whp Z3 Roadster and set about correcting this problem. Mark is a man who loves cars and, as a metallurgical engineering consultant, is lucky enough to be in a suitably serious and important sounding job that means he can really indulge his passion for all things automotive. Hats off to that man.
This passion for cars is long-standing and both his previous and current rides are seriously nice. When it comes to cars Chris does not beat around the bush: “My first car was a 1970 Pontiac GTO with a manual four-speed transmission and 400 CID Ram Air III engine.” This engine was a 6.6-litre V8 which made 350hp; it was a hell of a way for Mark to earn his motoring stripes. “I’ve owned a number of performance/sports cars over the years,” he continues, “including various muscle cars and European models. I currently have a Ferrari 360, an Audi B8.5 S4 and, of course, my BMW. I’ve also driven a host of other performance cars like the Dodge Viper, various 911 Porsches, Nobles and Lotuses. I’ve been interested in cars since I was a kid, particularly American muscle cars, and being born and raised in Detroit it was almost a natural occurrence. Of course, this carried over into becoming an engineer and I eventually wound up working for Ford Motor Company as a Metallurgical Technical Specialist for the Product Development Group of Axle Driveline. So my passion for cars runs deep.
“My brother and I were both really into cars when we were younger and we carried that with us through the years. Early on we pretty much did all the mods ourselves out of necessity as we just didn’t have much money, but as I got older and eventually married, it became increasingly difficult to work on them as I just didn’t have the time with work, kids and all. Eventually, though, the modification bug hit again but now I leave the major work to the professionals.”
And this Z3 has had more than its fair share of work, that’s for sure. Mark’s been a fan of BMWs for around 15 years now, having cut his teeth on a ’95 M3, but this Z3 is something else; not only is it his first major build, it’s arguably his wildest car so far. The Z3 was spotted for sale in Florida, where Mark’s brother happened to be vacationing, and so he helped Mark out and duly popped over to take look at it. It turned out to be a very clean example with just 20,000 miles on the clock and a Dinan supercharger to boot. A deal was done and the car was delivered to Mark’s Michigan home where he could begin to enjoy it. “I never bored of driving this car,” he says.
“It was so easy to just drop the top and take it out for a cruise. Eventually, though, my craving for more power got the best of me and I started sending it out for major upgrades, eventually leading to its current state of tune. I also was into weight reduction mods and everything I did was kind of geared towards that. The roof, seats, wheels exhaust pretty much everything was weighed.” The supercharger was doing a good job on the power front but for the kind of figures that Mark wanted the engine needed to be pretty much stripped down and built from the ground up.
The car was handed over to the guys at ICS Performance, who know a thing or two about making fast, force induced BMWs and after chatting with head man, George Kakaletris, it was agreed that 600whp would be a good figure to aim for. Unfortunately, ICS discovered two cracked piston ring lands, so Mark decided to go all out on the engine because that’s what we as enthusiasts do when something breaks – we use it as an excuse to repair it but make it better at the same time.
The engine component list reads like a turbo build wish list and ICS really left no stone unturned when it came to creating this monster of a Z3. Inside the 3.2-litre S52 you’ll find Mahle 9:1 compression triple-coated racing pistons, K1 forged con rods, ACL Racing bearings, titanium valve kit, springs and retainers and ICS Stage 1 performance camshafts. There’s also a CES cut ring head gasket and ARP series 2000 head studs, while the Precision 4094R dual ball bearing turbo sits on an Otis tubular twin-scroll manifold with a Tial 60mm wastegate vented into the exhaust to keep things a little more civilized. You’ll also find a Tial 50mm BOV, while the exhaust is custom-made. To ensure that enough fuel makes it into the engine there are 80lb (840cc) injectors with both a Walbro 400 and Bosch 044 fuel pump, running with an Aeromotive fuel filter and a custom fuel rail.
To help keep the engine cool in all conditions, a high flow aluminium BMW racing radiator has been fitted along with a VPD custom racing oil cooler and then there’s the custom intercooler, measuring 610x305x102mm and squeezed in behind the front bumper.
It’s one hell of a line-up and, unsurprisingly, it makes for some seriously heavy-hitting power figures. On 109 octane fuel at 1.8bar of boost on what Mark calls a fairly conservative tune, the Z3 made a spectacular 803whp and 776lb ft of torque at the wheels, and that’s with the tyres spinning! “She probably makes a bit more,” says Mark, “but who’s counting? That wasn’t my primary objective – after all it’s just a street car. With a few upgrades, though, like a larger fuel line, bigger injectors, larger turbo, more boost and a more aggressive tune it could be closer to 1000hp but I have no interest in doing so as the car is already a handful to drive weighing in at only around 1250kg. Currently, I’m not aware of another M Roadster producing more horsepower or torque.”
For Mark, this build wasn’t just about power, it was about weight, too, and both the exterior and interior styling has been shaped by his desire to shave and shed weight wherever possible. There’s a lightweight vented FG Racing bonnet, Recaro Pole Position seats mounted on lightweight aluminium brackets with Imola red leather centre sections to tie-in with the rest of the interior colour scheme, there are lighter UUC race pedals, the bumper weights have been removed along with the air-con, the sound deadening and Mark’s fitted a lightweight Odyssey battery. Even the carpets are lightweight!
Mark has extended the Imola red colour scheme throughout the interior and it also appears on the badges. A rear spoiler and diffuser were also added as subtle cosmetic enhancements.
As far as the chassis is concerned, the Z3 has been fitted with a Ground Control adjustable Eibach spring kit, Koni adjustable sport dampers, a Bavarian Autosport rear bush kit, IE Engineering rear camber/caster adjustment kit and a Randy Forbes rear axle reinforcement kit, along with a Rogue Engineering dual rear differential housing.
With so much power, you need a suitably powerful braking system on board and lurking behind the staggered 18” Work Meister SP1s you’ll find a UUC/Wilwood front BBK with four-pot calipers and superlight 325mm discs, while at the back there are #StopTech Z3 M cross-drilled discs with braided hoses and Axis Ultimate brake pads all round.
Mark’s Roadster has been through various stages of development, with this last stage taking seven months. In that time it has gone from brisk to ballistic, with the kind of power figure that is actually hard to imagine. “The turbo system is my favourite modification on the whole car,” he smiles, “as it’s just so powerful. Being in such a lightweight car puts your eyes on stalks when you squeeze the throttle. I’ve not experienced acceleration quite like this before and I’ve been in some pretty fast cars.” Mark has really ticked all the boxes with this project and built his ultimate Z3 and all that’s left to do is just drive it and enjoy it. You know he will…
TECH DATA FILE #BMW-Z3-Roadster / #BMW-E36/7 / #BMW-Z3-Roadster-E36/7 / #BMW-Z3-E36/7 / #BMW-Z3 / #BMW-Z3-M-Coupe
ENGINE: 3.2-litre straight-six #S52B32 / #S52 , #Mahle 9:1 compression triple-coated racing pistons, #K1 forged and coated connecting rods, #ACL-Racing coated rod and main bearings, titanium valve kit, springs and retainers, CES cut ring head gasket, #ARP series 2000 11mm head studs, #ICS Stage 1 custom performance camshafts, Precision 4094R DBB 1.06 A/R turbo, 610x305x102mm custom intercooler, custom intercooler shielding, Otis coated tubular twin scroll turbo manifold, #M50 (OBD 1) intake manifold, custom turbo engine mount arm, Tial 60mm wastegate vented into exhaust, Tial 50 blow-off valve, 840cc fuel injectors, #Walbro 400 and #Bosch-044 inline fuel pumps, custom relay kit for fuel system with circuit breaker, Aeromotive fuel filter, custom fuel rail kit, RK Tunes custom tuning OBD 2, 3.5” HFM, welded oil pump nut, Dr. #Vanos unit, #BMW high-flow aluminium racing radiator, VPD custom racing oil cooler, custom 3.5” exhaust with dual 3” Magnaflow silencers, Rogue Engineering racing engine mounts. 803whp and 776lb ft of torque at the wheels on 109 octane race fuel at 1.8bar.
TRANSMISSION: #ZF-Type-C / #ZF five-speed manual gearbox, #Rogue-Engineering transmission mounts, #Clutch-Masters custom clutch, lightweight chromoly flywheel, 2.79:1 built differential with 40% lock up.
CHASSIS: 8.5x18” (front) and 11x18” (rear) Work Meister SP1 wheels with 225/40 (front) and 285/30 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, Ground Control adjustable Eibach spring kit (525lb front, 600lb rear), Koni yellow adjustable sport dampers, Randy Forbes rear axle reinforcement kit, Rogue Engineering dual ear differential housing, IE Engineering rear camber/caster adjust kit, Bavarian Autosport rear bushing kit, #UUC/Wilwood #BBK with four-pot #Wilwood calipers and Superlite 325mm floating cross-drilled discs (front), StopTech Z3 M cross-drilled discs (rear), #Axis-Ultimate brake pads and stainless steel brake lines all-round.
EXTERIOR: #FG-Racing lightweight vented bonnet, rear bootlip spoiler, rear diffuser, bumper weights removed.
INTERIOR: #Recaro Pole Position racing seats with custom red matching inserts, Recaro lightweight aluminium side brackets and TC Kline floor mounts, AEM UEGO A/F gauge, SPA dual readout gauge (boost and fuel pressure), E Boost 2 electronic boost controller, Autometer dual gauge pod, Autometer mini shift light, #TRM racing shift knob, #UUC race pedals, lightweight carpeting, lightweight Odyssey battery, AC delete, sound deadening removed.
Vented bonnet looks the part, is lightweight and helps to keep underbonnet temperatures down.
Top: Engine may not look special but the 800whp magic is hidden away beneath the surface; diffuser looks cool and was added for that very reason, along with bootlip spoiler.