ACM

Features

Sam Van Heest's E90 M3

Photography by Matt Petrie @crosshair_nightmare

It is hard to believe that the E90 M3 is rounding out the tenth year since it’s production. Yes, ten years have gone by already and it is being celebrated by ill fitting bolt-on wide body kits and flame shooting, burble tunes that bounce off the rev limiter. Sorry for the spoiler alert, but you won’t find that in here. No, instead Sam chose a cleaner approach. The phrase that comes to mind and best describes his E90 is “elements of traditional ways”. Each of these individual components are not contemporary by any means, but he carefully chose each aspect and perfected them uniquely, reintroducing excitement for the chassis a decade later.

When it comes to suspension, there are so many ways to lower the car. Despite all of the possibilities, there was only one option for Sam. The Ohlins Road and Track coil overs were selected to ensure that his ride remains smooth and capable to tackle the tri-state roads while sitting tightly over the wheels. It is no secret that BBS is synonymous with BMW. Although you need to count on your toes for E9x’s with BBS wheels, Sam still manages to keep the bar elevated. The wheels are not the standard, concave face that is more commonly seen. His are the rarer, flat face RSII’s, which gives the wheel more of a traditional RS appearance. It allows the wheels to be built wider while clearing enough room for big brakes. On the other hand, something that is rarely seen on this platform, are the velocity stacks. Even though trumpets have been married to independent throttle bodies since their conception, his 8000+ revving V8 is packing a little more than just the orchestra horn section. His design and execution with factory functions are what etch its rank in velocity stack comparison conversation, but we’ll get to that in more detail later.

The use of color is so crucial in any build and a three-color pallet requires a specific eye, but more importantly, the right taste. Although white is a neutral pallet to work with, it is Sam’s use of the red and brushed silver that solidifies the execution. Throughout the car, the coordination is so seamlessly integrated, that one can miss the cues or just simply take them for granted.

Against the Alpine White slick top, the contrasting interior is merely a glimpse away.  This car was originally equipped with black leather, but it was since fully replaced with the more desirable Fox Red leather.  To take it a step further, he completed the conversion with the fold down rear seats, which were previously affixed in the back of the cabin. Along with the color swap, he updated the navigation system to the LCI spec, which changes the screen and menu format as well as the better idrive control unit in the center console. Also occupying the center console are the F10 M5 shift knob and an AEM gauge cluster to monitor vitals. Even their silver bezels were kept in mind to tie in with the silver accented components around the interior.



The red on the outside of the car is minimalistic, but extremely effective. Red StopTech ST60 calipers hover millimeters below the brushed BBS faces. On those brushed faces, sit custom height hexes that house red BBS center caps.  When the hood is opened, his valve covers, dressed in wrinkle red, provide a vibrant base for the trumpet display.  Another item that is not normally red, nor in the S65 for that matter is the physical dipstick.  Those of you unfamiliar with the S65 and wondering why a dipstick is being written about, is because these cars only have electronic ones that read on the instrument cluster and are hardly accurate at that.  Sam’s S65 oil pan had been given the VAC treatment of baffled channels and a good ol’ fashion dipstick to pull out and wipe down. He made the swap during his upgraded rod bearing replacement.

Of course, we can’t pop the hood and only talk about the red valve covers or a silly dipstick.  Matching the brushed finish of his wheels are the 2M Autowerks machined velocity stacks for the S65’s independent throttle bodies. The sound of throttle bodies grabbing the open atmospheric air before you is glorious and intoxicating. All you want to be doing is driving the car two gears below where you should be, but simply running the machined trumpets was not Sam’s end goal.  His thought process was thorough and very definitive. On a functional side, it had to mimic the factory plenum plumbing to keep the car happy and have no irreversible modifications to make it work. While brainstorming the layout, he did not want to incorporate any covers or trays around the trumpets. “I don’t want to loose the mechanical feel of this, I want the engine to look like an engine” he said adamantly. No disagreement here. Although succinctly stated, he’s completely right. Seeing the fuel rails and linkage along side the newly introduced oil air separator AN lines or the bullet shaped oil catch is a beautiful thing.

He drew up some sketches for the cylindrical oil catch and then handed it over to his friend and local machinist, Eric of Tribal Iron Customs. Carrying out the brushed finish, the bullet shaped conversation piece also integrates the factory drain mount in the same location below the plenum. Focusing on the details, he even made a little bracket to hold the filter in place above the valve cover. Equally as impressive as it looks and sounds, is that attention to detail. He is not finished with this project either as there is still more to come.  The plan is to utilize the factory air ducts from the bumper and kidney grills by having filtered channels 3D printed to his specifications in order to feed it with as much clean air as open ITB’s can get.

Rather than removing the chrome accents around the car like the headlights and the grills, Sam kept them to compliment the polished lips of his wheels. A European inspired shaved front bumper and NLA original Challenge diffuser are just more examples of how little details go further than radical aero and body work.

Sam did not rewrite ‘the book’, he just pulled a few chapters out, added some vibrant illustration, and put them back in to show the rest of the community how it’s done.

Features

John Long's E92 M3

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.  

Features

IND M4 GTS-Plus

Photography by Matt Petrie @crosshair_nightmare

IND is a household name in the BMW community.  From minor cosmetics like painted reflectors and custom trunk badges, to all metal wide body projects, OEM carbon fiber roof swaps, and full interior transformations, there is no task too big or small for the great folks out in Illinois.  On top of that impressive résumé as a distribution center they are responsible for brands such as Challenge, RKP, 3D Design, and Eventuri, just to name a few.  The list of greatness could go on, so upon its tenth anniversary this year, how does a company celebrate?  By creating a mobile trophy culminating all of their strengths into one flowing art form in the shape of a F82 M4.  It is a daunting task to find a way to out perform previous SEMA builds and project cars that have graced the pages of well-known BMW and European sports car publications.   With a fantastic color, incredibly rare and exclusive parts, and a well thought out plan, the IND “GTS-Plus” was executed flawlessly with the hard work and dedication of many individuals.   

The GTS-Plus started off its life as a Yas Marina M4 built around the aftermarket community highlighting all of the latest parts being designed and developed for the next generation BMW, more specifically the brand new introduction of the F82 M4 to BMW’s lineup. Sporting the highest caliber pieces front to back, there was no doubt this car stood out and did its job of showing what is available for the community.  It wasn’t until it underwent its Porsche Ultraviolet transformation that it became an iconic poster car, surpassing any expectation anyone could have held.

With the release of the limited production M4 GTS in its infancy and only a handful of people currently receiving them around the world,  the excitement of seeing one in person and the delivery to their owners has enthusiasts eager with anticipation.  Since the M4 GTS is not yet readily available and replacement parts only being available to those with their VIN numbers even remotely able think about getting backup parts, certainly you won’t find a car sporting any GTS components just yet, right?  Not quite, IND found a way to get their hands on the OEM GTS wing, half cage, and hood.  Where they didn’t get authentic GTS parts, they delivered alternative ways to impress.  They “settled” (insert proverbial air quotes and eye rolling in jealousy) for the last existing new set of genuine E46 M3 CSL buckets from a Motorsports warehouse in Germany.  Rather than the double staggered, acid orange wheels of the GTS, they chose the new BBS FI-R in double staggered sizes with a custom hand brushed finish.  BBS center caps were also custom machined to match the high luster finish of their FI-R’s.  The regular skinny and extremely strong spokes of the FI leave no where for Brembo GT’s to hide.  Add in the 5-axis procedure that the FI-R requires during production and now the holes in the windows add for another dimension of visibility and weight savings.  

Upholding their stellar reputation of their paintwork, there is not an inch of the previous Yas Marina Blue left to be found.  The car looks as though it was painted from the factory as an Individual car and it basically was.  The entire car was disassembled inside and out.  Along with the respray, 3D Design full carbon fiber bumpers were added to the front and the rear with matching 3D Design side skirt extensions along the bottom of the rockers.  An adjustable carbon fiber lower aero tray is much like the GTS’, but much larger to fit the shape of the 3D Design bumper.  Also identical to the M4 GTS,  KW Club Sport coil overs are dialed in, inside each wheel arch of the Ultraviolet M4.

The purple accents are continued into the interior of the car.  Most noticeably on the OEM GTS half cage sitting over custom made carbon fiber dead panels.  It is also found in the stitching along the doors and across the entire dashboard, that happens to be fully reupholstered in alcantara.  Lightweight components were brought into the car to replace areas like the center console and door cards.  Competition seat belts out of Germany run the Motorsports stripes down the length of belt with identically matched door pulls.  Pop the GTS hood and below the large weave pattern on the underside, you’ll find much more Ultra Violet matched pieces and trim work.  The color coordinated bits are all around the upgraded intercooler, which is one of many of Fall Line Motorsports’ newest performance upgrades this car is sporting.  On the business end of the car, Fall Line Motorsports also designed front spherical bearing conversion bushings, sway bar end links, rear toe adjustment arms, rear upper arm bearings, an oil cooler guard for the F8x chassis.

I had the pleasure of receiving this car when it first arrived early one warm summer morning a few months ago at AutoCouture Motoring.  It arrived and stayed at the ACM home base to be used for a couple of shows during the 2016 show season.  All of the hype and excitement on social media and the forums took nothing away from the experience and presence this car commands.  Even to the point that we caused mini traffic jam the first morning it was sitting out in our parking lot.   Inside ACM, all of the mechanics and sales office enjoyed it day in day out, as did customers who excitedly embraced the surprise when they dropped their car off for work.  There were also those from the Tri State who migrated there just to see it for themselves in person.  The more time you spend around the GTS Plus, the more detail can be seen.  You can really see the thought and hard work that went into every detail and why IND is ‘IND.’  It is currently in the BBS Wheels booth at SEMA 2016 so if you’re lucky enough to be out in Las Vegas enjoying the show this week, be sure to navigate your way to their booth to have a look at it for yourself. 

Features

Matt Petrie's E90 M3

Photography by Wes Van Heest @vanheestvisual

Airline miles. A couch to crash on. A canyon taxi in the form of a Sparkling Graphite E90 M3. This is the recipe for a weekend that I'll not soon forget.

Matt Petrie's name may or may not be familiar to you. Maybe you've noticed it in the corner of an Ultimate Klasse photo or maybe you've seen it in the pages of Performance BMW magazine in the photographer credits. Maybe you've actually spoken to him and didn't even realize it. Matt works for AUTOcouture Motoring and will frequently answer the phone to discuss future mods with customers or hit the forums fielding questions about new modifications for BMW enthusiasts. Working for AUTOcouture in New Jersey led Matt to their westward expansion where he worked for ACM West, which leads us to this story. My brother Sam and I took to the skies to visit Matt out in Van Nuys, California. 

Matt, being around the modification of BMWs constantly, could easily fall into the trap of continuous modding and never reaching a goal of completion for the car. But that's simply not the case. Much the same as his photographs, Matt sets out with intent and his execution is impeccable. He manages to remain in the OEM world while winking at the modified world with a devilish grin. Matt's E90 M3 is enough to make any purist weak in the knees and an enthusiast of mods drool with envy. 

But I digress, on to the weekend. I, determined to have fun and not work, decided only to bring one lens with me - 35mm. My brother Sam and I landed in Burbank on Friday evening and one phone call later we could hear the illustrious Gintani burble tune screaming down the road - we knew who that was. Up pulled our ride from the airport, but more than a ride, up pulled our friend. It was a cool moment to take in, 3 friends brought together by a shared passion for BMWs from the north east were reunited in Southern California.

Matt popped his trunk, in went our bags and skateboards, with ample space I might add, and off we burbled into the new-to-us land of LA. Sam and I were giddy with excitement as Matt gave us a taste of the car's capability and a tour of the neighborhood. 

The next day we met up with another east coast transplant, Alex Gaudio, who had his Estoril M Coupe and yet another east coaster riding shotgun - Larry Pipitone of Livery Wheel. So now the total was up to 5 east coast boys, two M cars, and one amazing weekend. We took to the canyons, we went to a car show, we drove down US1 and stopped to enjoy a sunset, we ate the most delicious chicken sandwiches the west coast could offer, we ate In-N-Out Burger, we ate eggslut, we stopped in parking lots and skateboarded like we were 14 again, and we never stopped having fun. Even when Matt's roommate's M4 broke down - we just made the best of it and played games of SKATE while we waited for a tow. 

The functional use of Matt's car was very apparent. At first glance you might think, well that's pretty low and you're not going to be able to fill it full of stuff and people and still have any fun. False. The canyon carving couldn't have been more fun *well maybe if I was driving.* The exhaust note, brought to you in part by BMW's S65 V8 engine and in other part by Matt's ACM muffler with burble tune, was so compelling that my brother Sam is currently selling his car to buy an E90 M3.

I'm an older car type of guy, evident by my two E34's that I own and tinker with. I'm fine with some character, some flaws, and some "gotta get to that soon" in my cars. I like the stories that older cars can tell, sometimes by how they were or weren't fixed unfortunately. With that said, I have to admit I had pretty low expectations for the E90 M3. Seeing who usually drives E92 M3's had probably given me a general distaste for the cars. But that's changed now. The NA V8 made me feel like I was in a modern version of my 540i. The torque reminded me where my insides were and what the back of Matt's seats felt like. The downshifts made me giddy. Needless to say Matt is quite good at having his passengers pucker their buttholes in anticipation of police sirens - but thanks to his Valentine V1 radar detector and knowledge of the area, we successfully avoided any run-ins with the long arm of the law. 

I won't lie to you and say I'm an expert on E90s. I won't google spec sheets and regurgitate them for you here either. I will tell you about how I asked Matt to cruise around DTLA and park on a double yellow between two red lights for 15 seconds while I lay on my stomach framing the perfect shot of the city skyline only to find I had misframed just a hair and made him do it again. I will tell you about how we kicked it with the Hoonigan team at their facility skateboarding and playing with little drift carts while we checked out Ken Block's newest Gymkhana car. More importantly though, was their invite for us to come to the premiere that night of the Gymkhana Dubai video where Matt was asked to park his car up front if Alex couldn't make it with the green M4 (which we already know broke down and a skate sesh ensued). This was Sunday night and exactly when Sam and I were slated to board our flight and head back east. A not so quick phone call and 100 dollars later we had two tickets changed to a midnight departure from LAX which meant we could attend. 

We arrived early, securing a great parking spot for the E90 right up front in line with Matt Farrah's mustang, a datsun drift truck, and so much more. We kicked it with everyone. I'm in the middle of chatting with a childhood idol, Josh Kalis, when I look over and see my brother casually walking and talking with Magnus Walker - this was a night to remember. Even amongst these super insane cars, Matt's laid back style of modding stood out to people and was appreciated. I snapped some more photos here and then headed in for the premiere - which was epic to say the least. 

The weekend ended with our last canyon taxi ride up to the airport. Eventually Matt moved back to NJ and the prospect of doing it again went away. But these photos and this story will always be poignant reminders that you need to get up and go sometimes. Whether I mean dropping two gears in your M3 or hopping a flight to visit a friend on the other side of the country, well, that's for you to decide.

Events

MPACT 2016

Photography by:
Ryan Lee @itsryanlee
Mark Scire II @mscire2
Wes Van Heest @vanheestvisual
Tony Lopez @meatyflush
Dan Wagener @dan_wagener
Isaac Reber @iareberphoto

Videos by:
Mark Scire II & Steve Nawrocki @bsaintmedia