Big power, aggressive aero and lots of noise are just three out of a long list of attributes that excite us about cars. However, would you want to live with that all the time?
I won’t lie, they excite me too but there are times, sat on the motorway that I am happy my Saab is as quiet and refined as it is. It doesn’t have the power or the drama of modified cars but it is a welcome sight after a long day photographing. That being said, we are not here to talk about my car, we are looking a Russ’ BMW e46 M3 – a car which bridges the gap between being pulse quickening and refined. With the help from Jason at Gtech Tuning and Tokyo Concepts we can explore their take on a modern classic.
Russ has had his fair share of weekend warriors and toys which have all been fun, if a little hard to live with day to day. But if what if you want to retain that element of fun but also use the car regularly? Something with stiffer suspension and a satisfying power delivery, you’d be hard pressed to find anything more suitable than a BMW.
Most will be forgive for thinking that this is just another e46 CSL on BBS LM’s as you approach but this car has far more to offer and it is all in the small details. A culmination of which lift this M3 from standard to unique.
Take the paint for instance, Imola Red, a good choice for an M3 right? Wrong. Look closer and you will see that there is actually gold flake in the paint which reveals itself under sunlight. Russ was keen on keeping the original paint until Jason turned up with a sample panel and convinced him otherwise. I can understand this too, if you had told me gold flake on red paint I wouldn’t have gone for it either however when you see it, it just adds the little extra depth to the finish.
Once Jason and the team had sourced a clean standard M3 donor car, they set about transforming the look of the car. A CSL front bumper, and ductail spoiler was added along with a carbon GTR bonnet. Continuing on with the carbon theme, accents were placed on the front splitter and the rear diffuser. These are small details that may be missed from a distance but up close they showcase the talents of Tokyo Concepts who made the carbon parts.
M3’s don’t exactly have the stance of a scared cat but they aren’t that low either so the decision was made to lower the car without making unusable. For this the guys at Gtech called on BC Racing coilovers and sat the car on BBS LM’s with a polished lip. This helps break up the lines down the side of the car and give it a slightly more aggressive look and hide the massive brakes from HiSpec.
And to be honest that it is all takes to improve the look of a e46 M3’s exterior whilst retaining the original look and feel. Peer through the window and open the doors and this particular example has had a wealth of talent and craftsmanship thrown at it. An interior that looks so pristine and nice that you don’t really want to risk sitting in it. Even Russ, the owner joked (or maybe not) that no jeans are allowed in side. Well that was me taking a test drive out of the question.
Inside is a sea of pillow-like, hand stitched, white nappa leather covering the door cards, dash and quilting the seats. I wouldn’t normally say this but I honestly feel it is the most impressive part about the car.
The quilting isn’t just featured in the front, the rear gets the same treatment too. I’m reminded of Russ’ joke about jeans and I fear he may not be joking. Once you have got over the leather your eyes will be drawn to the carbon detailing. The seat backs are full reproductions of the standard unit but in carbon, the same goes for the arm rests. The finish is of such a high standard that you might be forgiven for assuming it is a factory fitted option.
The cherry on top of this immaculate interior has to be the steering wheel. A genuine M3 SMG wheel was then stripped bare and recreated in full carbon fibre with leather accents. Again to keep with the OEM styling, the M3 stitching had been sourced and integrated. The wheel itself has a really tactile feel to it. You would expect, being carbon that it would feel a bit plastic but the deep lacquer on it gives it the feel of a heavily varnished piece of hard wood.
The overall effect makes takes a modern classic and makes individual. It might not stop you instantly in your tracks when you see it but it has a depth of details for you to explore over time, much like owning a classic car. And I am sure that Russell will continue to appreciate the work put in by Frandale, GTech Tuning and Tokyo Concepts.
Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)