The only bad thing about attending an event like Shift-S3ctor's Airstrip Attack is that it makes other cars look dull by comparison. Suddenly, a stock Nissan GT-R or Porsche 911 turbo just isn't that exciting any more. This was the case with many of the wild rides that showed up to at the Municipal Airport in Coalinga, California.
The owners of these two blisteringly fast turbo Beemers also happen to be good friends, bonding over their taste in fine German automobiles with triple the stock horsepower. We saw this as an excellent opportunity for an article.
Fire – 2003 BMW M3, Imola Red
How many of us have bought a performance car with the intention of keeping it "relatively stock?” When Kenton von Hollen purchased his 2003.5 BMW M3 in May 2010, his plans were exactly that. After all, the Canadian-spec E46 only had about 83,000 kilometers (52k miles) on the clock and the potent, 333-hp S54 motor still had tons of life left.
"I wanted a luxurious sports car that would have enough room for my family, as well as put a smile on my face. It had to look, handle and feel amazing, and that is how I came upon the idea to grab an E46 M3,” Kenton explained. "It was love at first sight, and I was sold even before the test drive.”
After looking at some intakes, exhaust systems and supercharger kits, Kenton still wasn't entirely sold on upgrading his car. It was only after watching a YouTube video where a father went for a ride in his son's newly-turbocharged M3 that he finally decided to pull the trigger on a HorsepowerFreaks Stage 2 turbo kit. "I still laugh at it whenever I watch it,” he told us.
The high cost of the kit initially kept him from taking the plunge, but when a group buy came along, he couldn't hold out any longer. A mere two months after buying the M3, Kenton was making the drive from his home in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta to HorsepowerFreaks (HPF) in Portland, Oregon. The entire process took five days, including dyno time, and yielded Kenton 600 rear-wheel horsepower running race gas and methanol injection.
After some frustrating problems, including a blown turbo, damaged ringlands and a seized scavenge oil pump, Kenton decided to upgrade to HPF's Stage 2.5 kit with a freshly-rebuilt motor and new turbo. He enjoyed this setup for about 3,000 miles before he succumbed to temptation and upgraded to the Stage 2.75 kit, which included a bigger turbocharger. Kenton describes the switch from a 67 to 71 mm compressor as "crazy.” This is the current, 800-hp configuration that he brought out to Shift S3ctor.
At the heart of Kenton's M3 is a fully-built motor with forged internals from M&B Cylinder Heads, also in Portland. Lower compression Wiseco slugs, Carrillo rods and heavy duty wrist pins ensure the bottom end can handle the kind of power this engine produces. The crank remains stock.
Some serious hardware is required to reach 800 hp, and a Precision 71 mm snail with a billet compressor wheel and dual-ball bearing center section was chosen to provide the necessary airflow. A stainless steel Steed Speed tubular exhaust manifold provides the quickest spool possible. Regulating boost pressure is a huge Tial 44 mm external wastegate. A massive 4-inch HPF exhaust gives this M3 an unmistakable roar at WOT.
On the intake side, the impeller inhales cubic yards of air through a K&N filter and HPF carbon fiber intake pipe. The charge air then flows through hard pipes to a front-mounted intercooler - all of which have been black-anodized for a stealth look. After exiting the intercooler, air flows into a high-flow HPF intake manifold, where it is further cooled by a methanol injection kit, also by HPF. Dual HKS Super Sequential blow-off valves purge the intake tract between shifts.
Fueling is handled by a pair of Walbro 255 lph pumps – one in-tank and the other in-line. HPF 750 cc injectors fill each cylinder with either 91 or 110 octane gas. AEM V1 engine management keeps everything from blowing up.
Because the turbo is mounted lower than the engine's oil level, HPF's Scavenge Oil System was enlisted to prevent oil from backing up in the return line. An HPF catch can removes any excess oil vapor from the crankcase.
The 6-speed transmission remains stock, with the exception of a South Bend Stage 2 clutch and an Autosolutions short shifter kit, which reduces throw by 40 percent. A ZHP illuminated shift knob tops the new shift lever. The subframe was also reinforced, as Kenton tells us it is a common problem with this particular chassis. The axles and differential are stock pieces.
The M3 is widely known to be one of the best-handling cars ever built, but at these power levels, a few upgrades were necessary. TCKline dual-adjustable coilovers with camber plates lower the ride height, stiffen things up and allow Kenton to select his alignment settings with relative ease. VAC solid engine and transmission mounts tighten up the driveline considerably, while Powerflex subframe bushings and front and rear control arm bushings maintain the correct suspension geometry.
This much power requires a set of brakes that can handle some serious abuse. Brembo stepped in with 380 mm front and 345 mm rear rotors, plus 4-piston calipers all around.
We really like the gunmetal wheels Kenton selected for his M – the V710 by VMR Wheels – a perfect mix of class and performance. He is running 19x8.5” (+35) up front and 19x10” (+20) in the rear. Grip comes from a set of Nitto NT05 max performance tires - 245/35/19 in the front and 275/35/19 in the back.
The E46 M3 is a great-looking car right off the factory floor, but Kenton added several small touches to set the car apart. These include blacked out kidney grills and hood grills, a set of Depo smoked corner lights, smoked LED turn signals and painted reflectors.
With a very conservative tune, the result is 800 rear-wheel horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque at 24 psi using 110 octane leaded fuel and 100 percent methanol injection. More power is available, but will require bigger fuel injectors. Besides the initial hiccups with the car and a failed methanol injection pump right before Shift S3ctor, Kenton tells us he has put over 15,000 miles on this setup and drives it up and down the western coast and all throughout Canada. In addition to a bigger fuel system, he plans to install a quieter exhaust with a boost-actuated cutout, smaller 6766 turbo, and hopefully the new AEM Infinity EMS with E85 flex-fuel support. What's his favorite mod thus far? The Autosolutions short shifter.
Ice – 2003 BMW M3, Laguna Seca Blue
Like his friend, Marcus Olson owns an outrageously powerful, turbocharged M3. His 2003 is a beautiful Laguna Seca Blue model with only 66,000 miles. Unfortunately, his first motor blew up, so he enlisted the help of a second shop, where he had better luck.
To prepare his Bavarian rocket ship for boost, Marcus called up the folks at Saad Racing to build him a bulletproof engine. The fully balanced and blueprinted S54 was first bored over by .020 inches and then stuffed with Wiseco 9.5:1 forged pistons, heavy duty wrist pins and Manley billet steel connecting rods. All bearings and studs were replaced with upgraded pieces from Saad Racing.
Once again, PTE provides the pressure with their 7275 turbocharger. Instead of a tubular manifold, Marcus chose HPF's ceramic-coated cast iron exhaust manifold for more durability. A Tial 44 mm wastegate is responsible for controlling boost levels and a full 4-inch HPF system with a boost-actuated cutout from Sound Performance directs exhaust to the rear.
A custom 4-inch Saad Racing intake pipe feeds the ravenous 72 mm compressor, which sends the charge air through a HPF intercooler kit and HPF intake manifold before it reaches the combustion chambers. A pair of HKS Super Sequential bypass valves vents intake pressure to the atmosphere whenever the throttle plate closes.
Proper fueling is absolutely essential when you pack this much air into the cylinders – luckily, the fuel system on this car is more than up to the task. Two high-flow Bosch 044 pumps were installed in-line, plus an in-tank Bosch 040 for good measure. Stainless lines were used throughout, and an Aeromotive regulator maintains correct fuel pressure inside the custom rails. Before being atomized by 1100 cc FIC injectors, a Fuel Labs fuel filter removes any impurities.
Just as critical to the car's performance and longevity is correct engine management. Using a ProEFI 128 system with high-output ignition coils, Jason Siebels of ProEFI and Ian Sai-Ngarm of FSR Motorsports are both responsible for tuning the M3 up to its current state. A GM flex-fuel sensor allows the car to accept standard or alcohol-derived fuels in any ratio.
While Kenton's driveline is almost 100 percent stock, Marcus had to upgrade several pieces. First in line is an OS Giken triple-disc clutch capable of harnessing the engine's immense torque and sending it to the 6-speed transmission. A beefy one-piece driveshaft from The Driveshaft Shop (DSS) bolts to an OS Giken limited-slip differential which turns a set of 1,000-hp axles from The DSS. The LSD has a custom billet cover with solid mounts, and the transmission is stabilized using Turner solid mounts. A UUC short shifter allows for the quickest shifts possible.
As you would expect to find on such a serious machine, Marcus selected the holy grail of suspensions – Moton Clubsport 2-way adjustable dampers with remote reservoirs, paired with Ground Control springs. A set of Ground Control sway bars reduces body roll, while SP control arms further strengthen the suspension. Turner camber plates allow Marcus to dial in precise alignment settings. Solid bushings are found throughout the entire suspension, and VAC solid motor mounts reduce engine play.
Bringing this beast to a halt are massive Brembo monobloc calipers – 6-piston up front and 4-piston in the rear. The front rotors measure 355 mm and the rears are 345 mm. Slotting evacuates brake dust and hot gas for more consistent stops.
Marcus decided to pick the perfect complement to his masterpiece – ADV10.1 forged, single piece wheels from ADV.1, sized 19x9” in the front and 19x10” in the back. These gorgeous rims are wrapped in Toyo R888 competition rubber for exceptional grip.
A set of Takata 5-point racing harnesses hold Marcus and his terrified passenger firmly in Recaro Pole Position leather seats, which provide better support without spoiling the tasteful BMW interior. A car this fast requires a roll cage, so an 8.5-second, NHRA-certified, chromoly cage was installed to protect occupants in the event of a crash - it also increases chassis rigidity.
Race Technology's Dash4 PRO OLED display and DL1 GPS datalogger allow Marcus to monitor and record every aspect of the car from the cockpit. A Pioneer AVIC-Z110BT head unit, AudioSystem X-Ion 100.2 and 160.2 amplifiers, Focal Polyglass 130VR component speakers and a Focal Polyglass 11” subwoofer provide all the in-car entertainment you could want. Although Marcus tracks the car, he decided to play it safe and install an Escort Passport Qi45 radar detector with laser shifters for any "spirited" street driving. A Radar-Mirror.com display allows information from the Passport to be viewed in the rearview mirror.
Running a mixture of 70 percent ethanol and 30 percent pump gas, this M3 managed 900 rear-wheel horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque at 32 psi. Currently, the car has gone 10.56 @ 142.67 mph, but Marcus has his sights set on the 9-second barrier.
We'd like to thank Kenton and Marcus for giving us the opportunity to check out their cars. It's not every day you get to see cars of this degree – eye-catching and brutally powerful. Well done, gentlemen!