Updated: Mar 18, 2019
We at Motor Addicts had heard about this epic E46 BMW many moons ago.
But, it wasn’t until we were invited to Le Mans for a track day that we got to see this Beast in person.
We started the day very early, where I went to meet the owner of this very rare colour/ transmission combo BMW M3. When I say rare, I mean this is ONLY 1 of 9 in this gorgeous Atlantis Blue with manual transmission.
In the car on the way to catch the ferry to Calais, we were part of a convoy also containing Porsche GT3’s and Porsche Carrera S’s. Not at any point did this car (well from the passenger seat) feel out of place.
Speaking to the owner, Gareth, I asked about the engine. No way was this beast factory. He tells me, in brief, “...it’s had a bit of work done... it’s about 500BHP”. Only about 130-160HP more than what it came out of the factory then!
Now when Gareth said a bit of work, what he actually meant was that this E46 M3 has had A LOT of work done.
Under the bonnet this car has had a huge ESS supercharged V3 kit bolted to the side of the engine, giving the BMW 503HP at the flywheel. To cope with this dramatic increase in power, Gareth has replaced the OEM head bolts with uprated ones, given the car a ported head and a Super Sprint lightweight exhaust system.
And boy, did this thing move (obviously, whilst on the public roads, Gareth didn’t exceed 70mph/ 120km/h 😉) Accelerating up to... ahem... 70mph, I have never been in a car with such a brutal sudden increase in speed. All I can say is that if you weren’t sitting back when Gareth accelerated, you were when he had finished.
The gear changes in this are so fast, I notice that Gareth has installed a Club Sport short shift into the M3 which makes such a difference in rapid gear changes.
Turning corners in this this car was never a problem, at whatever speed. This is due to the uprated suspension set up that Gareth has put on this M3.
Stopping off at some services, I took the opportunity to walk around the car and give it a proper look.
It’s certainly evident that there has also been a hell of a lot of work done on the exterior of this.
The first thing I noticed were the wheels. They aren’t your standard M3 wheels. I asked Gareth what they were. It turns out they are some awesome APEX Super Light alloy wheels, covered with a unique Carbon dip, all wrapped up nicely in some Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.
Peeking through the spokes of the wheels, I see some BIG brakes, Dinner plate size. And I mean that Toby Carvery size plate... in a word... MASSIVE!
The brakes are something special. Well they need to be, to be able to stop this not quite standard E46. Gareth gives me the details. On the front he has Brembo D2 8 Pot’s and Porsche 996 brakes on the rear. Not quite your conventional set up, but it works very, very well.
This then takes me back to the suspension set up. Getting the detail from Gareth, I find out this car has been fitted with Intrax Platform suspension all-round, all with adjustable canisters. The whole of the rear end has also had a lot hidden work done. This includes having the rear end plated and uprated as well as the rear subframe being reinforced and poly-bushed. Now I know when I could feel my face being torn off when he turned those corners.
I’m starting to think I should have got myself health insurance or at least brought my E111 card with me before getting in this monster.
I ask to have a cheeky little look under the bonnet, I want to see this supercharger in person. As well as the obvious mechanical upgrades I also note that Gareth also takes pride in the appearance. Even under the bonnet I see really nice carbon details throughout.
As the bonnet closes, I look down to see a CSL front bumper. This really suits the car style.
I’m also told that even the boot lid has been swapped to a light weight one. It appears that its all about the weight saving and power with this E46.
Getting back in the car as we head our way down to the famous Le Man’s, I start to look around the cabin of the car.
What has been stopping me turn to mush all the times that Gareth has accelerated and turned those corners. That’s it, that’ll be those Recaro Pole Position seats that hold my 6’4” and Gareth’s 6’5” frames like a glove. Its very rare that i feel so well supported in a car seat.
During the conversation regarding the interior, Gareth also mentions his car also has a CD player. lol
During the track day itself, we were in the company of luxury brands like Lamborghini’s, Porsche’s and McLaren’s. What I found amusing was seeing the frustration on the faces of the drivers in these cars when they discovered they just couldn’t pass this out of the ordinary M3.
That’s not saying that Gareth wasn’t overtaken, it did happen once by a Porsche GT3. But in both Gareth’s and the M3’s defence, that Porsche was driven by a professional race driver.
You can read more on the Le Mans trip through this link - Delta Racing 2017