Features

Jorge Hernandez's E46 330i

Photography by Ryan Lee

As a car enthusiast, growing up in a family loving cars and having toys in the garage is not a new concept, but something that few are lucky enough experience. Jorge’s father was and still is fanatical about cars previously owning a line up of 60’s and 70’s iconic names such as “Impala", "Road Runner", and “Cougar" just to name a few.  So often when people have kids they sacrifice their sports cars, completely doing away with their passion, but not in this case.  Since Jorge was born there had been American Muscle in the driveway and his father would take him out in his Camaro when he was just a toddler. There is no question that this is where his passion for cars stems from.  

It wasn’t until Jorge was ten years old, he recalls, while making his weekly visits to his cousin’s house, that he was introduced to his first BMW.  Now while this was most likely not the first BMW he was exposed to, a purple BMW in his cousin’s driveway certainly etched it’s place in his childhood memories.  That purple BMW was a brand new 1999 Techno Violet over Dove M3. Instantly, Jorge was in love and that is totally justifiable, Techno Violet has that effect on people. 

Many years later when the time came to get behind the wheel of his own, he chose this 2004 Mystic Blue, 330i Mtech 1 off the showroom floor.   Yes that’s correct, Jorge is the original owner of this gorgeous sedan, putting every mile on it from the beginning himself.  His cousin built the Techno E36 for show and Jorge always admired that.  He enjoyed watching the progression of putting a car together and transforming it from an ordinary car to a personal work of art. 

It is not easy to hand pick parts from various aftermarket manufacturers and have them flow together so seamlessly.   For most E46 non-M owners the choice for the front bumper was typically M3 or Mtech 2 (mine was the latter), but Jorge decided to stick with his factory bumper and take it a step further.  He got his hands on a Rieger front lip and molded it to his Mtech 1 bumper.   The Rieger front has a very broad appearance with pronounced edges squaring off the lower end of the front of the car.  To continue that around the car, Jorge picked up some Hamann GTR side skirts that hang lower than the factory rockers and have vents cut out in them.   Out back he has an SRS rear bumper with their ribbed quad diffuser.   For those of you familiar with the E46 non-M’s, they all came from the factory with single sided exhaust.  In Jorge’s crafty nature and with the help from the crew at AUTOcouture Motoring, they somehow got their hands on a discontinued Remus quad tip system from the manufacturer themselves.  The muffler system was designed for his car specifically and was used on one of their SEMA builds from years before.  

Sitting atop of the SRS bumper is a EuroSpec CSL trunk.  That carbon fiber deck lid conceals a JL 12W 6V2 subwoofer enclosed in a custom built box painted OEM Mystic Blue.  A JL 500w amp and Stinger Capacitor are surrounded entirely by black suede.  As a matter of fact, everything that once was grey carpeting in the trunk has since been replaced by the supple black suede for a show ready ICE system that is controlled in the cabin by a Kenwood DDX371 Double Din Head Unit.  

Continuing over the rest of the car,  AC Schnitzer roof spoiler and AC Schnitzer mirrors provide euro accents to often overlooked areas of the exterior.  Lastly, he ties it all in with the Vorsteiner GT-R carbon fiber hood painted Mystic Blue.  Since there is no exposed carbon fiber on the exterior of the car, Jorge had his long time friend and expert body shop manager, Tom Gillespie, paint the hood vents gloss black with a large serving of metallic flake.   Another note on the overall execution of the exterior is the fact that he kept the stock chrome kidney grills, clear blinkers, and chrome window trim for contrasting color continuity around the car.

Under the Vorsteiner hood is where all of the carbon fiber resides and in rare fashion none the less.  Radenergie engine cover and matching strut bar are the predominate focal points when looking around the engine bay.  The EAS ecu cover, 'drug bin’ cover,  air box cover, and oil cap accent the authentic Gruppe M intake.  Hidden from sight, but most certainly audible are Technik Gen 3 headers which free up some horsepower out of the M54. 

Undeniably, this car’s appearance is solidified by its stance.  Perfectly matching all of his period correct authentic parts are the Hartge Design E wheels in 19”.   The funny thing is, for about the first seven years of ownership he had DPE LS5’s on the car.  Once he broke it off with that set of wheels, he literally swapped wheels out annually. That is until he found these Hartge faces.  He had the faces and center cap/lug covers painted and then handed them over to SD Wheels to build them to 9” up front and 10” in the rear and are wrapped up by his tire sponsor, Toyo Tires.  They sit over 996 Porsche Carrera Brembo calipers in their iconic yellow with E46 M3 CSL floating rotors. 

Jorge’s E46 is slammed on Broadway Static coil overs, which believe it or not, he actually raised from his previous wheel setups.  Not cutting corners while accommodating the ride height, spring rates, and wheel sizes, he installed Bimmerworld camber arms, Rogue Engineering shock mounts, and Turner Motorsports adjustable sway bar end links off the end of his H&R sway bars.  Inside the cabin Jorge added one of the best driving mods to an E46 - the M3 steering wheel.   He is currently collecting all of the parts to complete the 6MT conversion and he will soon have an additional pedal and proper gear selector coming up from the trans tunnel.  

Needing minimal descriptive adjectives to explain his car to another late model BMW enthusiast, there is no surprise as to why this euro.techniks sedan is so well known and recognized in the community.  When it comes to this chassis, which has just turned 17 this year, it is extremely difficult to find one that is modified in such a distinguishable manner, yet classy enough to be appreciated by those young and old, but Jorge executed this with ease in his own style perhaps inspiring the next generation after him to do the same.