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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.

Events

Bimmerfest East 2015

Photography by Ryan Lee & Mark Scire II

Features

RC Levell's E46 M3

Photography by Garrett Wade

For those of you 80’s and early 90’s babies, think back to when you were in high school.  Blow the dust off of your marble notebook and flip through it.  Pull back the wrinkled corners of the pages and somewhere amidst the copious notes taken on the War of 1812 and just below the half-ripped out page you used for note passing you’ll find your dream car list.  Of course it consisted of a Countach or an F40, perhaps Eleanor too, but it is almost a guarantee that the E46 M3 made the cut.   What was so great about the M3 was that it was a realistic, attainable dream car.  Like many of us it was one that drove RC Levell nuts in high school.  It was a car that he idolized and knew that someday he had to own. 

Fast forward years later and the search was on.  With specific criteria required to meet his standards of the perfect car, months of searching ensued.  Conveniently, a fully loaded, Jet Black on Imola Red, SMG M3 happened to turn up literally five minutes away from him.  Not only were all of the vehicle’s detailed maintenance records present, but as the negotiation process progressed so too did his friendship with the soon-to-be previous owner, Pat.

After about a year of ownership, he did some bolt on work to the car.  Full exhaust system, coil overs and wheels were all on the menu, but that only satisfied him for so long.  He had bigger plans for the car and it came in the form of a force inducted, built motor. 

He had his motor built at Active Autowerke with forged pistons, their complete fuel system, methanol injection, and the Generation 7 manifold and charge piping.  After AA reassembled the engine, he went back to his garage at Precision Sport Industries (PSI) in Winter Park, FL and dropped the motor back in.  The rest of the car was built at PSI including the installation of the Active Autowerke C38-91 Stage 2+ Supercharger kit.  At 14psi, RC’s M3 is in the neighborhood north of 520 wheel horsepower with the help of the non-restrictive Active Autowerke headers and Bimmerworld 3.5” resonated Race Exhaust.

He keeps up with his vitals through a custom VEI Wideband AFR/Boost gauge cleanly tucked in the ashtray below the radio and keeps things cooled down in the engine bay with a Motorsport fan clutch.  The convenience of the car having the sequential manual gearbox (SMG) rather than the dual clutch transmission (DCT) is that RC can run traditional aftermarket clutches in his car.  His choice was a Southbend Ceramic Clutch. 

RC chose to focus primarily on the suspension.  Aside from Bilstein PSS coil overs, PSI installed AKG Red RTABs and Red subframe bushings as well as the Turner Motorsports subframe reinforcement kit.   Up front, the Bimmerworld FCABs rounded off the stiffening of vital suspension bushings on the car.  18x9.5 et22 Volk TE37 Super Laps with 265/35 Michellin Pilot Supersport tires stabilize the car at each corner. 

To accommodate their race exhaust, a matching Bimmerworld diffuser was installed, but that is the only bit of body work that was changed minus the blacking-out of the grills, corners and reflectors.  The combination of the massive FMIC, stacked oil cooler, quad FX-R projectors, and 265 tires that are barely containing themselves in the fenders let you know that this car is willing to sign any checks it’s planning on cashing.  RC thoroughly enjoys surprising American muscle cars.  With 6,000 flawless miles on the motor build and all of the components, he sees no end in sight when it comes to having fast cars sleep on he and his dream car.