Imola Red

Features

Shawn Robertson's E46 M3 sedan

Photography by Shawn Robertson @shawnrphotography

When I first got back into a BMW from a couple year break (2009) I had chose an ‘03 330i sedan. I promptly stumbled onto the E46fanatics forum to dive deep into my new obsession and research everything that I possibly could about E46’s. It was pretty fast for me to realize that an E46 M3 was my new “realistic” dream car, but at the time it never looked obtainable. So I did pretty much what the majority of people do with non-M cars and upgraded with OEM+ modifications to make it look as much like the M as possible. At that time I dreamt of eventually building my car into an M3 sedan (because of JeppeJ's Interlagos Blue M3, look it up if you haven’t seen it before.)

Anyway, S54 swapped E46 non-M’s aren’t that uncommon nowadays… but a full out conversion is a little more rare. So I was extremely happy to see that Shawn was in the process of doing this to his ZHP. I was already a huge fan of his car in its ZHP form so I knew it was going to be great. The attention to detail and goal to build it as close to a factory M3 is very apparent. This is one of the cleanest conversions I’ve seen since JeppeJ’s, as I hold that to the highest standard in which one should be done in.

Shawn originally was in the market for a stock ZHP 6 speed. He bought the car sight unseen from a ZHP dealer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was excited to drive the car since it had been about 11 years since he last owned a BMW. His last car was in 2005 which was a 1995 Avus Blue turbo E36 (making 601whp). Once he started looking at forums like E46fanatics, ZHPmafia, and M3forum it didn't take long for the itch to set in and before he knew it he bought an M3 parts car from Copart… before he even knew how to do an S54 swap mind you. So Shawn had his buddy at Lins Specialty Automotive perform the full mechanical S54 swap since he had a lot going on in his life and he needed some help.

He drove about a year on that and during that year he decided to retrofit and equip the car with every rare option he could think of. Once he completed that he picked up a wagon and another parts car to make an S54 wagon to sell. Before he tossed that sell he scavenged all the body parts to start his M3 body conversion. He had Superstar Customs in Lilburn, Georgia do the rear fender flares and contacted 2M Autowerks for their fiberglass front M3 sedan fenders. Born2doit customs painted the car in Imola Red and then he decided he wanted something close to an E46 M3 CSL sedan.

Currently the car has 174k miles and though he wished he had started with a lower mileage chassis, he loves the car and the work that went into it. It’s his one of a kind car. For now he just wants to enjoy it and would love to eventually pass it down to his son in the future.


2003 E46 ZHP/M3

Chassis 165k miles when S54 swapped with 128k miles


ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN

- S54 (131k miles) with new OEM VAC Motorsport coated bearings installed

- E46 M3 cluster coded and modded for 4 doors and corrected mileage

- 6 speed Getrag Transmission (131k miles)

- 3.62 M3 LSD w/ axles and complete rear end

- GSR CSL Carbon Airbox with intake snorkel, CSL Map sensor and IAT

- OEM CSL Software with Oil Level readout

- ///M Track DSC System Enabled

- S54 Stock header

- S54 midpipe with Jones Universal Maxflow Muffler in place of midpipe

- Custom 3rd Rear section with Quad exhaust

SUSPENSION / BRAKES

- Porsche 996 4POT Brakes front and rear

- OEM CSL Rotors front and rear

- E46 M3 Coilovers (DGR Suspension)

- AKG Bushings: Spherical RTAB, Front Control Arm Bushing, Differential , Engine Mounts

- Turner Motorsport front and rear swaybars

- ZHP Steering Rack retained

- E46 M3 lower FCA

- E46 M3 Rear trailing arms

- SPC adjustable rear control arms for camber

- BMW Performance Carbon Fiber Strut Brace

WHEELS

- OEM CSL wheels (square) 19x9.5”

EXTERIOR

- Fresh repaint 405/3 Imola Rot II

- Seibon Carbon Fiber CSL Trunk

- M3 Body Conversion

- 2M Autowerks M3 front fenders

- Status Gruppe CSL diffuser for Mtech II bumper

INTERIOR

- N6NG Natur Braun leather M3 Seats (Custom LSeat covers installed)

AUDIO

- Eonon Android 7.1 Double Din Radio

- HK Amp audio system

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.