Features

Ian Kley's E46 M3 / M-kart

Photography by Ian Kley @ian_kley & Mark Scire II @mscire2

In the early morning hours of February 17, 2017 I received the call every auto enthusiast that stores their prized possessions off site or away in storage fears most….”Your car is gone”

In my case there had been a structure fire in the building that housed my rented shop space, in an instant my fairly heavily modified ’02 Imola Red/Cinnamon E46 M3 had been destroyed, along with the contents of my shop space.

Emotions at that time ranged from devastation, to annoyance, to slightly amusing relief that everything was properly written off for insurance purposes, all the way to inspiration that came full circle when my buddy Jay and I trudged into the rubble, popped the melted doors open, and saw the glass lower with the door, indicating that there was still power in the vehicle, for us this was enough, it would have to live again….

Fast forward four months later, after a grueling insurance/properly loss litigation, the vehicle was finally purchased back from the insurance company and at new space generously loaned to me by my afore mentioned friend Jay, whom somehow always finds himself conned into involvement in my absurd projects, we were ready to give it new life.

Upon return of the car it was inspected throughly and just as we hoped, miraculously under the badly burned and smoke saturated exterior, lay relatively undamaged drivetrain, suspension, wiring, and running gear..

The next step in this project remains highly controversial: The process began to decide what we would actually do with the charred remains. For months behind the scenes Jay and I discussed options, ultimately deciding that with limited options for such a badly damaged vehicle, that we would do something, that although is popular these days, we have wanted to do for years to a car, which was to remove and modify the majority of the unibody chassis, replacing it with an exo-roll cage and rip it on the street….Hate it or love it the #mkart was underway.

Before the fire the car was what i would consider modified to a super choice “clubsport” spec. All suspension bushings were upgraded with polyurethane from AKG Motorsports along with the common rear subframe reinforcement, body mounted motorsports “quickshifter” also from AKG, upgraded engine and transmission mounts from Vibratechnics, OEM Z4m steering rack with AKG polyurethane steering coupler, KW Clubsport 2way dampers, fixed back buckets and a one off half cage from FHF Fabrication, as well as a slew of other little detail and cosmetic upgrades.

During the transformation we added a few choice goods that had been planed for the car in the upcoming season, such as Porsche 996 Brembos, Koyo aluminum rad/ Mishimoto e-fan setup, Mocal oil cooler upgrade, and a custom velocity stack/ heat shield setup final tuned by Jordan at RKTunes.

Over the next two months, Jay and I (mostly Jay) worked tirelessly, stripping, cutting, bending, welding and shaping metal to create the cage over the remaining chassis, removing over 3ft off the back off the car and affixing the rear subframe directly to the cage. Cheap mild tubing and some rough, quick fab work did the trick, this was wasn’t about fit and finish, it was all about sketchy fun and near instant gratification. I would be lying if i said we had a definitive plan before going at this, the majority of this project was improvised as we went along, however the one thing we were able to agree upon from the beginning, was that the car absolutely had to be road worthy, it simply wasn’t not funny enough unless we could use it on the street.

As a result we kept the factory front clip and headlights, as well as the a-pillars and a new piece of glass, we used universal trailer LED taillights and blinkers for the legal stuff, we even added a completely useless rear view mirror for that extra level of: “please don’t impound us bro!!!!”

It was to be a 100% street car….from my prospective this project was all about was making people smile, making the best of a bad situation and encouraging others to never give in to negativity and fear of being themselves.

After it was finished we had an absolute riot ripping around town, laying tire, shooting big flames from the short exhaust, answering hilariously confused questions, letting people sit in it, letting our friends take it out… Jay and I even drove it 4.5hrs from Buffalo, NY to Pocono Raceway for the Mpact BMW event in August 2017, as well as Canibeat’s First Class Fitment and even over the GW bridge in NYC to a Cars & Coffee event in Greenwich, CT. It was endless hilarity and hooliganism.

Most importantly this seemingly goofy project served as a good bit of personal therapy during one of the hardest years of my life. Not two weeks before the fire, my mother was diagnosed with completely unexpected terminal cancer at age 61…she lived just long enough to see the completed project on its maiden voyage, later that night sending me the last text message I would ever receive from her, reminding me how proud she was of me for not giving up, having a positive attitude and always seeing the bright side to a bad situation, values I not surprisingly learned from her, and I learned from the best.

The moral of this story/project was to inspire others and remind ourselves never to give up, and never miss an opportunity to see the brighter side of any situation.

By the time you’ll read this, the #mkart will have already been stripped of its drivetrain and suspension components, they will have gone off to live in a new project of mine, a perfect spec Alpine White/Impulse cloth SMG E46 M3, a prime candidate for a full run through and rehab, but the kart chassis still exists, and who know, you might see it reincarnated in some form soon, keep an eye out!