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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

Sal Benanti's E92 M3

Photography by Matt Petrie

If you own an E9x M3, there’s an 88% chance yours is Alpine White.  While this statistic is fabricated, there is no denying the surplus of the Alpine finish on the E9x platform.  Not saying that this is a bad thing, despite it being a classic BMW color, looking good on any chassis, it easily gets lost in the sea of cars that are in dealerships and at local shows.  Sal Benanti, co-owner of AUTOcouture Motoring in New Jersey, knew that in order to make a statement he had to do something totally out of the box while paying homage to the BMW Motorsports heritage.  It’s absolutely unanimous that he accomplished this with flying colors in two ways:  an OEM Techno Violet respray and his famous “Motorsports Spatter” paint scheme on his manifold and trim pieces.  Now dubbed “Big Purp” all across the internet and social media, Sal has certainly set the bar when it comes to modifying the E92 platform.  Creating a truly unique M3, there is not one aspect of this car that has been overlooked and every modification was thought out and ties in perfectly with the next.

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Sal has never been shy in the performance department with any car he has owned, but this is certainly his most powerful.  He chose the ESS Tuning VT2-650 supercharger kit, custom painted with the Motorsports Spatter by IND.  All of the mechanical work was done in house by his certified technicians Jay Stromeyer and Thomas Limatola, including the custom modified exhaust system.  The primary cats were deleted and replaced with their ACM test pipes and the factory exhaust was modified to give it a better sound than most aftermarket exhausts all while retaining the factory look and visually undetectable to void the warranty.  In order to stop all of that power he chose an Alcon BBK.  At 405mm, calling it a “big” brake kit is an understatement, so you can be sure that all of his 600 horsepower gets halted with the slightest ease.

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Seeing its fair share of track days, Sal chose to go with Volk TE37-SL’s in 18 inches (f – 9.5 / r -10.5) with KW Club Sport coilovers and Racing Dynamic sway bars.  To complement the Techno Violet paint, he added a European Spec OEM M3 front bumper with a Mode Carbon V2 carbon fiber front lip.  Local lighting guru, Jehad Zeidan at LightModz, retro fitted quad projectors into his headlights and completed the updated look with OEM LCI tail lights and a Vorsteiner double sided CSL style trunk out back.  Techno Violet painted roundels by Xclusv Autosport completed their paint job in the most fitting way.

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Recaro Sportster CS seats were rewrapped in OEM Fox Red leather by Xclusv Autosport to hold true to Sal’s slightly extreme OEM+ theme in and out of the car.  To match the plenum, the interior looks like a motorsports crime scene with light blue, dark blue and red spattered about the cabin.  His P3 boost gauge, integrated in the trim, allows for proper readings at a glance without any trouble or unwarranted attention.  Lastly, as any driver can relate to is the importance of the steering wheel.  The flat-bottomed OEM Alcantara Performance wheel with ACM extended DCT paddles makes the driving experience just that much better.

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The car will be undergoing major reconstruction in preparation for the 2013 track and show season so expect the bar to be raised yet again by the team that brought to you Big Purp.

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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.


Features

Islam Gohar's E90 M3

Photography by Matt Petrie

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an expression we’ve all been warned of at some point in our lives, however it may have applied. While most of us were told this at a young age, it still holds true no matter how much time passes.  Those of you familiar with the E9X platform know of its naturally aspirated, high revving V8 engine making over 400 horsepower. At first glance you can tell this thing is serious.  It’s lowered on RD springs with Volk TE37-SL’s and an Akrapovic exhaust. With the addition of a few little aesthetic BMW Performance pieces it’s evident that this has been modified, but it’s not until you get in the car that you know this thing means business.

It didn’t take long for Izzy to become bored with the stock power. He decided it was time to reach out to AJ and Roman of ESS Tuning to install their supercharger kit in no other color than yellow to pop off of the Interlagos Blue. Undoubtedly this was making plenty of power, but still he was not pleased. Realizing that bolt-ons had their limitations he and his friend, one of the top technicians at BMW NA – Corry Prime, brainstormed where to go next. Their solution? – build the block.

From there he began to piece together the internals needed to accomplish what he was after. That laundry list went something like this: Custom 10:01 Mahle pistons that would accommodate 18psi, custom fuel rails, Carrillo rods, GT4 water pump, motorsport rod and main bearings, and head gasket as well as custom valve springs. The heads were stress tested for cracks, cleaned and new valve seals were installed. Izzy got the block tested and honed by Dinan and all of the rotating assembly was balanced and blue printed by Michael Rouser at L&M Machine shop in Pennsylvania. Once they began assembly, which by the way was done in one weekend, they realized they needed a more efficient way to feed more fuel to this monster. They corrected the issue with custom fuel delivery system and bigger injectors.

Being that this is his daily driver, he wanted it to remain civil both inside and out. The Challenge X-pipe was modified with 4 resonators to keep a distinct and aggressive sound when he wants to open it up. The flat bottomed BMW Performance steering wheel and matching black alcantara interior trim both tie the yellow from the manifold into the car tastefully. His P3 gauge is also seamlessly integrated in the air vent as to not cause any unnecessary attention. The oem+ interior is completed with an illuminated F10 M5 shift knob.

I’m sorry, did I say civil? Last time he checked he was making 648whp Edit: now 683whp, but will be going back in soon for another dyno run and is expecting more power with a few tweaks. He can keep up with the best super cars out there and fit 3 other people comfortably while doing it. If you do happen to catch Izzy on the road in Connecticut be mindful of this metaphor and don’t underestimate what his sedan can do.

Edit (3/24/15): now 785whp