///M ///M ///M, that symbol of power has been floating in and out of my mind since I was 9 years old and living in Germany. My Father owned a 1984 White on Blue e30 323i. I remember going down the autobahn at high speeds, but it was always the ///M that my father would say for years he wish he had.
2006, my best friend upon both of us returning from our deployment to Fallujah, Iraq bought a White on Grey e36 M3. He was my room mate I listened to and watched his M3 transform with many modifications and begging him to slow down when he would tear up I-5 at triple digit speeds.
In 2008, as the months were dwindling down to the end of another deployment to Iraq, I thought heavily about what car I wanted to buy. It seemed like everyday my best friend would talk about his e36 M3 and how he cant wait to get back home to mod it out. After researching and long thoughts, I decided when I come back from Iraq I would buy the last year model White on Red e46 m3 6MT. A Gunnery Sergeant who has a e92 M3 had received free posters of the e46 M3 track car from turner motorsports and gave myself and my best friend one. With months left in our deployment, I stared at this turner mortorsports e46 m3 poster, wishing for the day I come home. What made matters worse, my best friend left a few months early in the deployment, I called him while he was in the states and hearing the words that he just bought a Imola Red e39 M5, made me want to come home so bad so I could have my ///M.
February 12th, 2009, ten days after returning from Iraq. A post popped up on auto trader showing the car of my dreams. I drove down to San Diego, saw the car being inspected by other soon to be buyers. Without hesitation, without inspecting it, and without test driving it, I wasted no time to make this car mine. Swiped the credit card, showed insurance, and drove off... best feeling ever.
So it is, Adriana, 2006 Alpine White on Imola Red e46 M3, 6 speed manual transmission, and a little skinnier not having the sun roof, heated seats, and automatic seats. Years spent in a combat zone and fellow Marines who drive ///M's contributed to my ownership of this symbol of power.
I want to thank MFest (Laidback) and the members of the MFest OC crew for taking the excitement and fun of driving ///M's to a whole other level, this is truly family.
The clothes on your back is an opportunity to express who you are, your ///M feels the same way.
Ive always liked the unique individuality pursuit, presenting myself in a manner in which no one else could carry from the inside out. As I researched forums, pictures, and products, I came to a verdict in what Adriana's goal would be. Classy, Clean, Conservative, and Lean were my main focus, choosing products in which will compliment those topics and keeping a reasonable budget in mind. Marines do not get paid much, a Marine with more money than the norm will say he spent way too much time in Iraq and Afghanistan. Costs played a factor in my modding decisions, a lot of these mods I was able to purchase through asking for promos, military discounts, and forum members/vendors who cut the price either because I was a ///MFest member or I won the product or discounts through the many events MFest hosts and attend.
The first set of mods I purchased are as follows...
1. Matte Black Side Gills - JLeviSW
---The Matte Black Side Gills from JLeviSW were a perfect product, OEM fitment, and looked good removing the chrome from the image of the ///M.
2. Matte Black Grille - JLeviSW
---The Matte Black Grill from JLeviSW looks good removing the chrome component, but the fitment is not OEM, most wont see the flaws, but you as the owner will. I recommend using the OEM backing with this for the best fitment.
3. Predator Orion V2 LED Angel Eyes - Umnitza
---The Pedator Orion V2 LED Angel Eyes from Umnitza to this day still distracts everybody who lays eyes on them. They are a 60 LED xenon white set that adds so much to the look of your ///M. They are the brightest and cleanest looking LED angel eyes out there, motorists will stare, enthusiasts will drool. Every time I walk past my ///M I cant help but to press the BMW emblem on my key to only see the Angel Eyes shine bright.
The second set of mods I purchased are as follows...
1. LED Turn Signal Bulbs V2 – Xenon White – 7507 - Resistors - JLeviSW
---One of the biggest problems with lighting is trying to match all your lights to be the same color, it seems to be almost impossible, even if you went through the same manufacturer. These LED Turn Signal Bulbs from JLeviSW were a pain to install. The oem housing in which these must fit have to be stretched and partially shaved from within to fit these bulbs into the housing. After the frustration, it looked good removing the amber look within the headlight and worked perfect. The only other thing I noticed was every time I started the ///M, the signal bulbs would flicker for a few seconds as the ///M cycles through the electronics, giving off a temporary strobe light effect on the turn signals which I don't mind at all.
2. LED Side Marker Kit High Output V2 – Xenon White - JLeviSW
---The LED Side Marker bulbs from JLeviSW were effective in removing the amber lighting and works perfect. One thing that you will notice is when you lock the ///M those side markers will stay on for a minute a two and then turn off automatically. It took time to get use to.
3. Alpine White Reflector Delete - JLeviSW
---The Reflector Delete gets rid of that ugly amber reflector and give a cleaner look. Its affective but not perfect, it does not seal across the bumper 100% but the fitment is not as bad as JLeviSW's front grill. They are almost perfect.
4. Valentine 1 Radar/Laser Detector - eBay
---The Valentine 1 has been a life saver, although i have gotten plenty of tickets (all from lasers) this Radar/Laser detector saved me from almost a 100 more. Very affective in finding radars, I have been notified miles in advance that a patrol man was up ahead. The hard wire install is a beautiful thing. On military installations, it is illegal to have a radar/laser detector, but because of this hard wire availability and its stealth location in conjunction with the mesmerizing angel eyes, I have never been asked about it, they cant spot it.
5. KW V2 Suspension - Gravity Autosports
---Gravity Autosports provided KW Variant 2 coilovers, this although costly provides a total change in looks but most importantly in performance. I still have not found this ///M's limit in cornering, these coilovers bring the ///M to a whole other level.
6. 30% Tint - OC Tint Shop
---OC Tint Shop came to house and put the tint on. My ///M is registered and licensed in Kansas, legal tint limit 35% all around except the windshield. OC Tint Shop does not have those halves, so I chose 30% over 40%, I doubt I will ever get tested for exceeding tint by 5%. This tint compliments the other dark components of the ///M while also blocking out light and making it harder for others to see from outside.
The following are part of the third set of mods I purchased...
1. Bimmiam Xenesis Tru-Match Xenon White Bulb – JLeviSW
---Just like all the other lights, its nearly impossible to get the color to match but these lights dont really matter considering they are never used unless an idiot is driving in front of me . One thing about these, when they are not in use, you can see a hint of blue reflection that at certain angles looks like the whole light housing is blue. At first I didn't like it, but it has grown on me.
2. MTech Style Fog Light Housings with Xenesis Bulbs - JLeviSW
---I had some debris hit my left fog lamp cracking the housing. I also wanted to replace the yellow glass and have clear fog lights. These MTech Fog Light Housings fit perfect and gave me exactly what I was looking for. The Xenesis Bulbs I received with these were pretty similar to the Bimmiam Xenesis Brights that I purchased, leaving that blueish tint in the housing.
3. Bimmiam 16 Bulb Kit Xenon White LED - Bimmiam
---Since i replaced about everything i can on the outside with LED bulbs I had to touch the interior lights. These bulbs give your car a better, cleaner, and brighter look when they are on. This is a must have.
4. Turner Motorsports Racing Aluminum Pedal Set - Turner Motorsports
---I wanted to find a product that was productive, less costly, matched the interior, and looked good. I have the brushed aluminum trim and these matched perfect them. They were easy to install and the grip was superb. The only downside is the way the grips were designed hinders the ability to easily clean. You have to get a tooth brush to really get dirt out of the many grooves.
5. Euro Center Console - Turner Motorsports
---I don't drink much in the car or would want soda dripping on the sides I decided to replace the center console with the European version. This gives you more room for storage. I use it to hold my iPhone while using the cover for it to keep it in place. There is also a pen holder which is perfect for the ///MFest pen or what I use it for, to hold my tire pressure gauge.
The fourth step in modding I took was the 40% off VIP Modular Wheels I won through Karwerkz at MFest 3.
1. VRS05 VIP Modular Wheels - Karwerkz
---These wheels thus far is the highlight of my modding in my eyes especially the stories that come with this. I originally won Enkruez wheels but they went out of business and it was a struggle to obtain my money back and get new wheels, a struggle that lasted well over half a year (http://www.mfestforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3395 and http://www.mfestforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5763). Karwerkz is a company that you should already be familiar with if you know the HPF turbo'd widebody e46 M3's. Both of those ///M's once had Enkruez wheels, hence the manufacturer discount I won through Karwerkz at MFest 3. With the downfall and bad practice of Enkruez, Karwerkz and HPF's widebody M3' s moved on to replace their wheels with VIP Modular Wheels and they did the same for me.
I decided to go with the sizes 19x9 in the front and 19x10.5 in rears with an offset that would set the wheels to be flush with the fenders. I chose to have the centers, outers, inners, rivets, and lug nuts in matte black to match with the rest of the car which Ive chosen to keep matte. Both the fronts and the rear 3 pieced forged stepped lip wheels weighed 20lbs each. One interesting and uncommon feature on these wheels are the flush mounted valve stems, removing the permanent stem that sticks out of your wheels. This gives it a clean flushed look and whenever I need to check the air, I simply unscrew the flat cap and screw in the valve stem adapter. These custom wheels have changed it all for me and was made possible through MFest, Karwerkz, and of course VIP Modular Wheels.
2. Nankang NS-2 Tires - eBay (NO LONGER IN USE)
---245/35/19 /// 275/30/19 are the sizes. These tires are very cheap in price but are not that bad for driving. I could not justify spending thousands of dollars on tires that would not be used for tracking so I found this alternative that has satisfied my driving. Once this car is set up for track completely (middle of 2011) I will try these tires on the track and compare them to a competitive brand.
1. TMS E46 M3 Performance Sway Bar Kit with E36/E46 Rear Adjustable Length Sway Bar End Links (Pair) - Turner Motorsports
---TMS's Sway Bar Kit comes with front and rear adjustable sway bars, 3 way adjustable fronts and 2 way in the rear. The adjustment availability gives the driver the opportunity to have his car handle in whatever way he pleases. Ive played around with the different settings and have found what would work for track and what would work best for daily driving. These play a huge difference in how your car handling behaves and is very easy to install especially using the adjustable sway bar end links. One thing that I disliked about this was the weight difference of these from your OEM, these sway bars are heavy.
2. E46 M3 Shark Injector (programmed for headers, no cats) - Turner Motorsports (NO LONGER IN USE)
---Follow the instructions, wait a few minutes here and there during the programming and you have tuned your car. 8100 RPM rev limit , top speed governor removed, quicker throttle response in non-Sport and Sport Mode, and smoother torque curve for better driveability. Especially having after market headers with no cats, its a must to have software for it to make the most power out of the products you have. I love the higher RPM and the no limit speeds.
3. aFe Intake Kit - E46 M3 Stage II - Turner Motorsports (NO LONGER IN USE)
---I installed this intake with ease and liked the difference in sound, I believe i felt a little bit of extra power at higher RPM's but it was not much because I couldn't really be certain if I was gaining extra horses. The fitment of the tube through the heat shield was no where perfect, there was a huge gap left over that should have been filled. Other than that, im not sure if this is really necessary to have and the filter gets dirty real fast.
4. AP E46 M3 European Headers (No Cats) - THMotorsports
---These stainless steal headers with no cats provide a wider piping compared to the US OEM headers and with no cats, a straight outlet, sorry California air. It was pain to install considering the room under the hood is not much to work with, but a handful of skilled MFesters, equipment, and time got this job complete and performance up. Having no cats hinders my ability to pass smog but im happy knowing my pipes are not restrictive. It also smells more potent when driving not meeting the emissions standards. No problems with fitment and a cheaper alternative to the big brands.
5. Borla's Muffler Oval Tip, Midpipe V2, and X-Pipe V2 - Turner Motorsports
---I replaced all three sections of the exhaust resolving some of the things that really bothered me about the OEM exhaust system. Biggest thing that changed for me was the sound. The 3000-4000rpm rasp noise is still there, but no where close to what it was when stock. You have to listen to it to find and when you do, its more throatier and less obnoxious. The exhaust in combination with the headers produce a nice deep tone to the exhaust note, not too loud, not too quiet. You also save a good amount of weight, roughly 30lbs. I also chose the exhaust with dual oval tips rather than the traditional quad. I achieved a different look but I think the average would do without. The fitment was not all there, I had to widen a hole for two OEM bolts to fit through in order to connect the headers to the Borla section 1. The section 3 exhaust did not fit well either. It was hanging to low and was resting on the rear diffuser, a few extra bends here and there made it bearable but not perfect.
6. E46 M3 UUC Short Shift Kit - Evo 3 and DSSR - Turner Motorsports
---The throws on your OEM shifter is like having to pitch a baseball its ridiculous. I remember trying out the different shifters the MFesters had at the meets and man does a short shifter make a difference. This kit was easy to install and immediately testing it out, the throws are extremely short. I can just use two fingers to shift and its nothing to go through gears. I do have some noise/clicking problems, not sure exactly what it is but no driving problems associated with it. Sometimes when putting it in first gear its rough, but the second time you do it its smooth, 3rd gear makes a winding noise when you shift into it at high RPM's, and all the other gears may have a click here or two once in a great while. Lately im not bothered by the any noise that may happen due to the rear seat delete that has made the cabin a lot louder than normal.
The next mods is the 6th step in attempt to save weight and prepare for track setup.
1. Rear Seat Delete
---I almost never had people riding in the back and if I did, I never liked it. So i removed all that stuff back there to save weight and to use the existing seat belt points for the racing harness to mount to. There is a lot of weight to be saved removing the seats, bolts, padding, insulation, and seat belts. Down side or could be a plus for you, its very loud not having all that back there to block the sound. You can hear your exhaust, fuel, and the road very loudly, don't expect to have a quiet conversation, its yelling when your in the ///M.
2. Schroth Racing Rallye Cross 4-Point Harness - Schroth
---Securing the body to the seat while taking turns is a plus, no driver likes to find his ass crack on the side of his seat. I easily installed these using the existing seat belt points, the lap belt on the front seats existing seat belt points and the shoulder straps on the rear seats existing seat belt points. I removed the seat belts all around and am relying on these harnesses for safety. They are pretty comfortable and definitely get the job done.
1. Stage 2 Supercharger - VF-Engineering
---Ive been wanting to go forced induction for a while now and pulling the trigger on a Stage 2 supercharger from VF-Engineering giving me 453whp and 314ft-lb of torque (3rd dyno run) on 91octane has been the best modification to my e46 M3.
I was able to have the supercharger installed while deployed to Afghanistan. VF-Engineering was very understanding of my situation, willing to assist, and was Military friendly. The transistion went without error, I thank Nik, Paul, and Mark of VF-Engineering for this. I was a bit freaked out driving it at first, the power was overwhelming, but of course I got use to it, man its awesome. All the problems Ive read on the forums about the supercharger and software from VF-Engineering made me aware of what could possibly happen, but I didn't notice anything different with my M3, other than the power. I assume their latest software was a fix to all that.
I contemplated back and forth between VF-Engineering and HorsepowerFreaks countless of times (you may have seen in my journal under future mods, VF-Engineering Supercharger and HorsepowerFreaks Turbocharger being switched back and forth). VF-Engineering had the best bang for the buck which was the biggest factor in my decision along with my other mods keeping price to performance ratio in mind. After adding the cost of the kit, to/from transportation of my M3, labor, and tax of the HPF Stage 1Turbocharger, it would have costed me over double the cost of the VFE Stage 2 Supercharger while at 91 octane, the Supercharger would have slightly made more power than the Turbocharger. Although I wanted the power that the HPF Stage 1 could have provided, but only achieving that on 110 octane and spending over twice the cost of the VFE Stage 2 was something I could not justify. As a U.S. Marine, im always seeing if there are discounts for military personnel, HPF didnt budge on their price, but VFE gave me a deal that I didn't have to think twice about. Hey, I have to get the best bang for the buck.
3. Axxis/PBR Metal Master Brake Pads - Turner Motorsports
---With the help of my great friend Agent31, we replaced the the rotors with the CSL variation, the brake lines with braided stainless versions, bled the the brake fluids in replacement with ATE Super Blue, and installed the Axxis/PBR Metal Master Brake Pads. With a few track sessions with my amateur driving skills, I am more than satisfied with the braking capabilities of my car.
4. Nitto NT-05 - Nitto
---I had some cheap tires on the BMW for the longest time and the traction on those were awful when comparing with the NT-05's. Tires obviously makes a world of a difference and the NT-05's do the job for me on the track, thanks Nitto for the hook ups. 245/35/19 /// 275/30/19
I thought I was done with modifying this car but now with parts needing replacement, I use that as an excuse to fix with better than OEM parts. I am also going to list some future mods that I am dreaming up.
1. Interstate Battery MT-47 - Tire Choice
---So my battery died and that gave me an excuse to find a lighter, cheaper, and affective battery. I learned that there is a BMW CSL battery that is smaller and lighter than the US e46 M3 battery. I also figured out that the Mini Cooper S uses a battery with the exact specifications of the CSL version. In addition, I found this Interstate battery that has the same specs as the BMW CSL/Mini Cooper S battery, about half the cost, and 5 lbs lighter for an overall weight savings of 15lbs. Anyways, the battery works the same but its about 1/4th inch shorter forcing you to wedge something (I used a light weight plastic lid with texture for grip) between the battery and the mount to hold it in place.
2. Kirk 4-point Competition Roll Bar - Kirk Racing
---Finally received it. The installation sucked mainly due because it fits like a glove. This roll bar is all bolt in so in is cost effective but probably not the best for safety but should get the job done. I guess a roll over occurring is the only way to know for sure.
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