active autowerke

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.  


Features

Supercharged Lime Rock M3 Duo

Photography by Matt Petrie

Lime Rock Park is a world famous race track in the Northwest corner of Connecticut owned by Skip Barber. BMW has been the main partner company of Lime Rock Park for years, yet it wasn’t until recently that they decided on creating a special edition car to celebrate their historic relationship. Never before has any manufacturer branded a vehicle with the “Lime Rock” name, but Skip Barber felt that the style of the track and the performance capabilities of the M3 were a combination that go hand-in-hand together. The commemorative Lime Rock Edition was born, but only 200 units were produced worldwide in the famous “Fire Orange”. No major changes were made to the performance over a normal M3, just slight BMW Performance bits like the exhaust, carbon fiber roof, trunk lip and alcantara steering wheel. The car is fractionally lower than a normal M3 and the ECU is prepared differently, allowing a less restrictive DSC and the removal of the speed governor. Some came with the 6 speed manual gear box, and even fewer with the black competition wheels and DCT transmission.

Bill and Matt are 2 lucky people out of 200 to own a Lime Rock Edition M3. Still, they wanted more than what BMW had to offer. After purchasing these cars at about the same point in time, they knew they wanted to have their cars modified and supercharged by AUTOcouture Motoring. Bill is resident of Northern New Jersey, local to ACM, and Matt is from the Maryland area. You could imagine what the phone conversations sounded like when a customer called to have his brand new, low production, Lime Rock Edition M3 supercharged and then less than a week later another person calls out of the blue to have their Lime Rock supercharged as well. By the second phone call the guys at ACM thought they were being prank called; having the opportunity to not only turn out the first supercharged Lime Rock Edition in the world, but two of them back to back. 

Despite the two of them being orange on black, they have different personalities. Bill opted to go a little flashier with the limited production full carbon fiber Vorsteiner GTS-V front bumper with the OEM GTS wing. He chose Brembo GT 380mm BBK in matching Fire Orange to pop out behind the OEM black competition wheels. The carbon fiber theme is carried out around the car from the side gills and the Platte Forme AG carbon fiber side steps to the Vorsteiner GTS-V rear diffuser harboring the Evolve E-tronic exhaust with ACM Test pipes. The interior does not allow you forget what color car you are driving. Fire Orange was done on the trim pieces, center console, GTS steering wheel and his ACM extended DCT paddles. Double Diamond stitched suede door cards and P3 boost gauge finish off the interior. Bill chose the ESS Tuning VT625 kit and as you would’ve guessed it, his plenum and supercharger were also done in Fire Orange. 

Matt’s black and orange theme is a little more subtle around the exterior of the car. Custom painted LightModz headlights and meaty Volk TE37-SL’s in black with matching orange stickers accent the fire orange with simplicity. The Volks are sitting tight below his KW sleeve over suspension. OEM BMW Performance carbon fiber trunk lip adds just the right amount of weave that slides off from the carbon roof. ACM Test pipes, Active Autowerke rear section and Remus power tubes give this ESS Tuning VT650 supercharged V8 a harmonious symphony that’s enjoyed throughout the power band. Inside the car is not quite as understated, as a matter of fact this car is known as #THESTATEMENT. Upon walking up closer, the first things you’ll notice are the Autopower 6 point roll cage and custom stitched Recaro Pole Position seats. The Corbeau harnesses, orange diamond stitched suede door cards, P3 boost gauge, and the Rogue Engineering SSK 6 speed manual gear box tell you that this car will have no trouble extending itself beyond what its badged name claims. His plenum and supercharger were finished in a beautiful pearl metallic black and in proper commemoration to Lime Rock Park; the track layout was stenciled on the plenum in Fire Orange.

With any low production car, many owners will buy them and keep them stock with the miles low as investments. Then there are those on the other end of the spectrum who are as crazy as Bill and Matt; who bought two rare cars and with less than 7,000 miles on the odometer already spent tens of thousands of dollars modifying them to their liking and styles.  Although these cars appear to be similar, they are very different in their own right. People like Bill and Matt are few and far between who will go out of their way to do something different. It is these forerunners who don’t always get the credit they deserve, but guys that we wouldn’t mind being for a day. 


Features

4300hp in Downtown NYC

Photography by Matt Petrie

Sam, the owner of Mode Carbon, reached out to me to do some photography work for his carbon fiber company’s new venture: Carbon Couture.  It is a collaboration between Mode Carbon and AUTOcouture Motoring, bringing their high end carbon fiber products like front lips and side skirt add-ons to the BMW community.  He and I had been discussing photo shoot ideas for weeks, but the weather and project cars going in and out of the shop had thrown us through some loops while trying to sort out the specifics.  We still couldn’t figure out a definite location, but the plan was to shoot 3 or 4 E9x M3’s sporting the Mode Carbon aero pieces.  We finally settled on 4 E9x M3’s, all of which were heavily modified, including ESS superchargers, by AUTOcouture Motoring.  The latest car to be supercharged, literally just getting buttoned up that afternoon, was Matt’s Lime Rock Edition M3.  Earlier in the week, Matt had traveled up from Maryland to have the guys at ACM take care of his car the way they had done for his friend Eric who owns the Black E90 M3 on Battleship Grey ADV1’s.   Eric and Matt drove up here to New Jersey to pick up the now completed Lime Rock, but with a little surprise.  Their good friend Dustin Worles of the Mischief movie series came up with them to do some filming for Mischief.TV as well.  We called our friends Alex, Elliot, and Tim of Euro Techniks to come out and cruise along in the murdered out X5M and Dakar Yellow Individual E93 M3.  Our camera mule, conveniently, was a supercharged Range Rover, so we had no trouble setting the pace or tagging along to get the shots we were looking for. 

It was chilly Friday night, but not terrible for this time of year so we rendezvoused at the shop at 9PM, grabbed some food and fuel then made our way over to New York City.  We knew of a great location downtown with old cobble stone roads and a partial view of the Brooklyn Bridge that we felt would be suitable for the shoot.  Manhattan, as usual, was hopping on a Friday night.  The sights and sounds of our cars both annoyed and excited people in the city as the exhaust notes reverberated off of the sky scrapers.  We jumped back out onto the West Side Highway to do a little cruising and take a break from the gridlocked cabbies. 

Appropriately, there was an Irish Ale house around the corner from the photo shoot location where some of the guys (who weren’t driving of course) went to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  We enjoyed showing the Mid-Atlantic group some of New York City and we ended the night fittingly with a stop at the Chicken and Rice Halal cart on 53rd.

Features

Stuart Moulton's E46 ZHP & Touring

Photography by Dan Wagener

In the diverse automotive culture, there are too many variables and applications which prioritize certain styles over others to merely deem a build as “good.” One factor that cuts through the diversity without any friction is quality, which can be identified by the craftsmanship, hard work, and parts one uses to build their car(s). It can be simple or more complex, but no matter what your platform preference is, it can be appreciated. We can all relate to matchbox cars and die cast models, right? Well sure, Stuart has been there, but unlike many kids he spent the majority of his youth with his father under the hood of iconic American muscle cars in his garage. It was there that his involvement with his father allowed him to attain the knowledge of building and to embrace the importance of detail.

Stuart created not one, but two impeccable examples of how to modify the E46 chassis. While both cars are modified in a nearly identical fashion, they both still have enough personality to distinguish themselves from one another while flawlessly executing modifying perfection. You can take my word for it, or we can break each one down to back up this premise.

Let’s start with the first BMW Stuart owned – a 2005 330i ZHP sedan. The ZHP option was only available in the facelift era of the E46 sedan and non-M coupe. Slightly altered from the factory, the ZHP offered more performance in the engine, brakes, and suspension. Aesthetically it sported bigger more stylish wheels, gloss black window trim, and the famous M-tech 2 body kit. The M-tech 2 consisted of an aggressive front bumper, side skirts and rear bumper with diffuser. His 3 liter inline 6 cylinder M54B30 engine was enhanced with an ESS Lysholm Twin Screw supercharger TS2 kit at 8.5 psi. He paired that with the ESS tune and Laminova core intercooler system. BMW Performance air box, Schrik Cams, and a full Super Sprint exhaust system from race headers back satisfied his desire for power finalizing at 340rwhp and 325lb-ft cutting his 0-60 time beyond the E46 M3 threshold at 4.4 seconds. He puts all this power down with a custom LSD by diffsonline and a BMW Performance SSK. This is a substantial power gain compared to the sub-300hp stock ZHP. The old grocery hauler notion may still apply to a sedan, but you can be certain that Stu’s eggs and milk will get home before it drops in centigrade after taking it off the shelf.

To continue the aggressiveness around the car, Stuart opted for 19×8.5f & 19×9.5r authentic BBS LM’s for the street and BBS CH’s in 19×8.5 & 19×10 for the track. Both setups are accompanied by a 4-pot Brembo Gran Tursimo BBK with 380mm/335mm front/rear rotors. His suspension is dialed in with Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, vorshalg camber plates, and Turner Motorsports adjustable sway bar end links and adjustable rear camber arms. Carbon fiber Club Sport Splitters and BMW Performance carbon fiber rear diffuser add just the right amount of weave from front to back and fully powered M3 mirrors along with his rear fenders pulled out about ¾ of an inch complete the exterior.

The carbon fiber theme is carried out on the interior trim as well with alcantara bits throughout. A custom gauge panel with VDO gives him the proper readings to make sure his boosted setup performs without a hitch. In the trunk is a custom fiberglass sub enclosure housing a JL 10W7. The Alpine 1000/1 amp and JL digital audio processor deliver a crisp clean sound when Stuart isn’t listening to the symphony of his supercharged motor.

Some of you may be asking yourselves the same question we asked, “Why didn’t he swap out the motor?” Well, Stuart responded, “I would have bought an M3 if it was available as a four door. I knew I could take the savings of the initial non-M purchase and make the sedan as good as, if not better than, a stock M3.” Don’t be fooled though, this doesn’t mean there weren’t engines where they didn’t belong.

Initially the sedan was supercharged with the ESS TS2 kit. Still craving more power, he wanted to upgrade to the ESS stage 3 system, but this required building the internals. The block at this point had 17,000 miles on it, and he did not feel as though he should rip it apart just yet. He sourced another engine from a salvaged ZHP coupe with 44,000 miles to tear apart and install the stage 3 supercharger. Once that was completed, he dropped it into his sedan.

In need of a daily driver, Stuart located a 325i touring after months of searching. It wasn’t long before he decided that he wanted to make more power with the wagon as well; however, being that it was an auto 325, he knew he was about to deal with certain issues surrounding the automatic 2.5L. Conveniently, Stuart had a 17,000 mile ZHP sedan engine with 6 speed MT collecting dust. It was at this point that he opted to swap the original supercharged sedan motor and trans into his wagon. As time elapsed, the wagon became the focal point of Stuart’s work, and he had considered selling the sedan. Instead of doing so, he actually completed his last motor swap – with each other. The sedan was once again reunited with its original ESS TS2 supercharged setup, that you read about earlier, and the wagon received the fully built ESS Stage 3 engine (out of the donor ZHP coupe).

Stuart’s 325 wagon now has a fully built ESS Stage 3 Twin Screw supercharged M54B30 engine with new OE bearings and gaskets, forged lower compression pistons, and a ported and polished head. Larger Ferrara intake and exhaust valves were installed, as well as titanium valve springs along with a large bore Dinan throttle body and an Afco dual-row aluminum heat exchanger with twin 8” electric fans. To help the car breathe he chose a BMW Performance intake and Supersprint headers.

How his exhaust is completed is part of what makes this touring so unique albeit still remaining somewhat factory. OEM Euro M3 cats with custom joining pipes to the headers connect to OEM M3 center section with an Active Autowerke Gen6 M3 muffler. The exhaust and full rear axle, with rebuilt LSD, is not the only thing Stu’s wagon shares with the E46 M3. In fact, the entire rear end is chopped and fitted from a salvaged M3. He welded in the rear quarter panels to give that well-known fat stance of the E46 M3 while seamlessly butting up to the rear doors. Mind you, the M3 rear quarters are quite long and it took some serious skill and fabrication to work them into the rear doors of the wagon. The rear bumper was given the proper widening treatment with plastic weld to line up with the newly fattened arches. An Inside Performance carbon fiber diffuser accommodates the new M3 exhaust location with M-tech 2 rear bumper. In order to match the rear, he cut and extended the front fenders with an additional 2” of OEM wing metal. Once again, Stuart plastic welded the front OEM M-tech 2 bumper to accommodate the additional width.

All of the cutting and welding required a full respray, and with that came an endless possibility of color choices. As I mentioned earlier, Stuart grew up around American muscle so he decided to go with General Motors LeMans Blue with additional pearl. Filling those newly extended wheel wells is a properly wide 19x10f & 19x11r authentic BBS LM with blue center caps. Behind the LM’s is a massive 6-pot Stoptech STR BBK with a hybrid blend of E46 M3/330 and E36 M3 brackets and specifications. 380mm and 355mm discs respectively bring all of the 430rwhp to a halt when Stuart demands.

The interior flows smoothly with Recaro Sportster CS heated black leather seats on Recaro sliders. Alcantara surrounds Stuart throughout from headliner down to shift boots where his BMW Performance SSK sits sunken. Keeping his hands at “10 & 2” is done with pleasure as his perforated leather and tri-color M stitched steering wheel invites him to confidently cut the wagon around corners. Also aiding Stuart in the cornering department is a Bilstein PSS10 coilover setup with Vorshlag camber plates. Turner Motorsports M3 sway bars, RTAB limiters and a BMW Performance strut bar keep the wagon rigid and firmly planted. Just like the sedan, carbon fiber is tastefully placed around the interior as well as a remote display Valentine 1 radar detector setup. More JL Audio equipment is installed, but in a more subtle fashion than the sedan. The 8W7 subwoofer and 750/1 Amp are carefully nestled in the alcantara-trimmed floor area.

There is no doubt that Stuart is in a higher echelon when it comes to modifying cars. Each of his E46’s on their own would be more than enough for any enthusiast to enjoy, but Stuart isn’t stopping there. As if those motor swaps weren’t enough, he was once again considering the possibility of changing out the wagon’s power plant for an S54 engine. Those plans also included potentially going with a Horsepower Freaks turbo kit, but instead he opted to buy an X5M. With every intention to modify his new truck, you can be certain that this won’t be the last time you hear about Stuart Moulton.