Photography by Matt Petrie @crosshair_nightmare
The root of our automotive passion varies as greatly as the interest in the types of cars we fall in love with. For John, his roots stemmed from his Uncle Artie, who had quite a car collection. It consisted mostly of iconic muscle cars from all manufacturers as well as a handful of various sports cars. A stable with that assortment would be enough to get anyone excited, let alone a child John’s age. As impressive as his collection may have been, it wasn’t until one distinct moment that solidified it for John. It was Easter Sunday, 1992 and John and his uncle were on their way to lunch to meet up with the rest of the family. What was the vehicle of choice for a beautiful Sunday you may be asking yourself? Well it just happened to be his brand new, (quintessential) red Dodge Viper, in all of its three-spoked-wheel glory, of course. Just a beautiful day for a cruise, it was something that many of us can relate to, but it meant more to John.
During the drive, a stretch of road ahead of them shaped John’s future forever. As the highway opened up, his uncle laid in on the "go pedal." Changing the gears and beaming forward steadily like a bullet, John was overwhelmed with excitement. Now, deep into triple digits and not letting off, John’s adrenaline was firing as ferociously as all of the Viper’s ten cylinders. Without him truly understanding it, there would forever be a void in him if this emotion could not be replicated. You can say it was burned into him...literally climbing out he scorched his leg on the lake pipes. Puns aside, although he was a burned flesh-Viper exhaust statistic, that still wasn’t enough to take the moment away from him. Telling the story as vividly as the day it happened, there's no doubt in John’s mind this was that turning point.
Over the years, his passion grew stronger. Month by month, John would collect automotive magazines. He memorized the statistics of each make and model while taking notes on their styling cues. By the time he was in high school his knowledge for cars had sharpened from the periodicals and when his driver’s education teacher told the class to bring in photos of their dream cars, the next day John walked in with a photo of an E46 M3. His love for BMW was evident and the M3 was his ultimate goal. When he graduated college, the latest M3 was unattainable, but a LeMans Blue 335i wasn’t a shabby tradeoff. That car was very fast and it fulfilled his speed addiction, but even the full bolt-on, E85 drinking, N54 didn’t totally complete him. While he was coming to this realization, work was about to move him out of Long Island and into Manhattan. New York City’s mass transit is one of the largest and most efficient in the world, many natives go without vehicles, some never getting their driver's licenses at all. Owning a car in New York City is one thing, but maintaining a nice car in the city is nearly impossible. Depending on where you’re parking, you can be spending nearly a month’s rent just to keep it safe and covered. Bittersweet, the time for John to part ways with the 335i, but he promised himself he’d be back in another BMW when his living situation allowed.
Four years later, a new job opportunity came up moving him out of the city and back onto Long Island. After his daily driver was situated to get him to and from work, it was time to scratch that weekend car itch and figure out what to enjoy on his free time. He looked at a bunch of F80 M3's. Despite their addictive power, their sound and lack of connection to the road deterred him from buying one. With his youthful experience lingering in his subconscious, John found himself hunting for V8’s. The love for the M3 and hunger for displacement narrowed his searches down to the S65, BMW's second eight cylinder offered for M cars.
Like most diligent car searches, time (and a little bit of luck) is crucial to find the right one. It took John six months to locate his dream car. He found this Interlagos Blue M3 up in Michigan with only 26k miles on the clock. He bought the car sight unseen and had it shipped back to New York as a Christmas present to himself. As excellent as that was, he was far from being done with just the purchase alone. He wanted to modify it, but more importantly, he wanted to address the dreaded rod bearing issue and preserve the four-liter power plant. With the correct mindset of maintenance preceding modifications, he began to do some research. He was looking for a reputable shop to do the invasive work. Familiar with ACM's reputation on the forums during his ownership of the 335i, the volume of recommendations praising ACM for the work cemented his decision to bring the car over to NJ. He reached out to Jeff at AUTOcouture Motoring and a week after receiving his Christmas present, he booked himself an appointment at the shop to go under the knife. While this was in the works, he also inquired about getting a replica part installed that he was supplying.
Dozens upon dozens of emails back and forth with Jeff extracted the true blueprint that John had drawn up in his head for the car over the years. Jeff's collaboration took John's ideas and dialed them into a tangible work of art. Always craving the execution of a setup of this nature, in the matter of just two stages, John was well on his way into exceeding those expectations.
During the first round, all fluid services were performed to baseline himself and keep track for his records. The upgraded rod bearing job was performed along with Ohlins R/T coil overs and an Akrapovic slip-on muffler paired with a Borla quad resonated X-pipe. After receiving the car upon completion, he reached back out to Jeff immediately to get the ball rolling on round two in order to prep parts that would take weeks to get in. One of the bigger items is the supercharger. His supercharger of choice is ESS Tuning's highest trim level for the stock block - the VT2-650 kit. It was shipped directly from ESS to IND Distribution in Illinois to get custom paint work done. Rather than ESS's standard wrinkle black plenum, John’s was done in gloss black with an Interlagos Blue stripe. To slow the car down as quickly as it goes, a StopTech 60/40 big brake kit was installed. Not the standard StopTech kit, the finish reveals that these are their lightweight Trophy kit. Not only an improvement in performance, but the finish was perfectly subdued and worked well against the color of the car. HRE Classic 301 wheels in their brushed dark clear maintains that classic appearance with a slight twist on the factory setup and almost a direct match to the brake calipers.
BC Carbon front lip with IB paint matched lower, makes the carbon fiber front lip look as though it is stuck into the body. An RKP diffuser and M Performance spoiler finish off the rear end with a touch of perfectly woven carbon fiber. GTS DCT transmission software from AlpineMS sharpens the shift points and changes the attitude of the driving experience. The Awron gauge is tapped right into one of the intake runners for the most accurate, real time readings while a vivid, high-resolution screen displays various functions including one of my favorite features - the active line graph of torque and horsepower.
John’s M3 is already a monster, but he is still not finished with it yet. Although rapid, he is enjoying the build process almost as much as the car itself. For sure, this won’t be his only dream car. As his stable continues to grow in his Uncle Artie's footsteps, you can be certain he is not going to be parting ways with this one. I can already see the warm spring day coming up when John takes out his nephew into triple digits and carries on the torch of excitement and passion to the next generation.